Saturday, November 26, 2011

Vibrams FiveFingers

OK, so I've known about the Vibrams FiveFingers range (well, some of it) for some time and know a few people who have some and quite like them, but it wasn't until I recently posted in Facebook that my physio recommended that I buy some supportive, anti-pronation shoes to help my recently (2011-10-23) badly sprained ankle that I actually considered buying some.  And if it wasn't for a friend suggesting that I look at them, I'd have totally forgotten about them!

So, as Joanne suggested I take a look at these instead of buying "normal" shoes, I did just that.  And I'm glad I did.  The exclusive Australian distributor for Vibrams products is Barefootinc, and right now they are at the end of a sale on some of their line, so now was a perfect time to make the leap.

I decided to buy a pair of Mocs for around the house, mainly in winter when it *does* get just a little chilly here in Brisbane.  They'll also be great when I'm staying in a hotel somewhere.  I also bought a pair of Sprints to walk in as I need to get back into walking a few afternoons a week to help get rid of a few(1) extra kilos and also to start strengthening my ankle now I can walk on it sans crutches and heavy strapping.

I've been wearing the Mocs for most of the past week since they arrived and find them to be quite nice.  They have a soft, kangaroo leather upper which appeals to me - I eat a lot of roo anyway, so walking around in the carcasses of my conquests seems only fair.  (Please note, I buy my roo pre-packaged in plastic.)  As they are designed exclusively for indoor use - they don't have the same soles as the majority of the Vibrams range - I've been wearing them mainly indoors and also out to the car/bin, but not out on the footpath or road.  I can see these being well used as time goes by...

I only received my Sprints on Thursday and wore them last night when a mate and I went to Nandos for some excellent Portugese chicken (much better than that sub-par Oporto stuff).  I wandered around a bit in them and was pretty happy with the way they seemed to alter my standing/walking posture and also they felt good to walk in.

This evening I took the Sprints for a walk around some fairly flat streets (until my ankle's strong enough, I'm keeping clear of the hills I normally encounter on my walks).  I was quite comfortable walking in them and was impressed with how "natural" they felt when walking.  OK, let me just say that unless I'm on a client site I'm generally always barefooted around home and the office and have been for many, many years.  I don't hate shoes, I just prefer to be barefooted.  So wearing the Sprints when walking felt like I wasn't wearing shoes (which I wasn't in the traditional sense) and really did feel good.

I walked for about 50 minutes and probably about 30 - 35 minutes into the walk I decided to walk on the grass beside the footpath and see how my ankle handled the uneven surface, which has been a HUGE issue over the past few weeks.  Well, I can report that in the Vibrams Sprints, my ankle felt fine - both on the footpath and on the grass/uneven surface.  I even considered walking a bit further but the rain was just starting to fall and I decided that I'd prefer to keep my phone dry and head out again tomorrow.

So, with the way I feel my standing/walking posture improve when wearing these VFF Sprints and the fact that they are extremely comfortable to walk in, I'm now considering a pair of black KSOs a size or so larger so I can wear them with Injinji socks (also from Barefootinc) to replace my normal shoes (Adidas runners that actually feel pretty good for regular shoes) most of the time.

(1) Well, OK, a few more than a few(2)
(2) And maybe a few more than that


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LuminAID - Real Light From The Real Sun

If you were looking for a way to spread the true light this FSMas/holiday season by helping a small business owner trade for a few extra hours a day or to allow a school child to study at night or a family to see without needing to burn fuel that produces toxic gases, then LuminAID may well be the project for you.

Instead of spreading religious mumbo jumbo about some mythically-endowed son, spread something truly useful for people - real, electromagnetic light in a waterproof, inflatable form, powered by the real sun.


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, November 14, 2011

How To Work From Home Without Going Insane

I read this post from Lifehacker Australia this morning and being a veteran of "work from home" myself (since 1989) I thought it only fair to make mention of it - there's some good points in there for anyone starting out or even starting to lose their way...


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Goes Up Mars Come Down

On 9th November, 2011 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russians launched their Phobos-Grunt probe using a Zenit-2 booster rocket.  11 minutes later, just as planned, the probe separated from the booster however neither of the two engine burns which would have set the probe on its way towards Mars' moon "Phobos" were successful.

Plans for the Phobos-Grunt mission started around the mid-1990s and after receiving an initial substantian funding of 40 million rubles in 2007, the project moved from paper to production.  Initially slated to launch in 2009, there were a myriad of setbacks mainly due to insufficient testing and unfinished components and this launch attempt was eventually scrubbed when it became clear that there was no way the mission would be ready for launch in the 2009 window that allowed the probe to reach Mars and Phobos.

Normally when new, as yet untested technology is being used to launch an expensive payload such as this, there will be a series of launch and control tests run (as NASA performed on 9th November, 2011 with its 500 sec test burn of the J-2X rocket engine) before the actual payload is sent off.  A number of these tests were not run and apparently some team members were even questioning the reliability of the control systems just before launch.  So it seems that this mission, even after being delayed for just over 2 years, was still seriously under-planned and under-prepared.

What's now the result of this half-arsed attempt at launching a probe to Phobos is that as NASA launches their "Curiosity" Mars probe/lander on 25 November, 2011 (planned to reach Mars in August, 2012), the Russian Federal Space Agency will be attempting to narrow down the estimated point of its uncontrolled re-entry and touchdown of the parts of Phobos-Grunt that will survive re-entry.  Now, with around 7.5 tonnes of highly toxic nitrogen teroxide and hydrazine propellant and some (mildly) radioactive Cobalt-57 on board, this probe will be one of the largest and most dangerous re-entries of launched material to date.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Now It's Steam's Turn

Valve Software's "Steam" service was hacked recently.  The database that the hackers gained access to contained sensitive information such as usernames, billing addresses, salted password hashes and encrypted credit card details, but it is unknown if this information was taken and/or the encryption compromised.

The next in a long line of breached online/cloud services, I'd strongly recommend Steam users check their credit card statements and make sure they change any passwords they have - preferably using passphrases, which if chosen well are significantly harder to crack.  I'd also strongly suggest regular passphrase changes for any sites that contain sensitive information and using different passphrases on every such site.

I've just checked and I currently have 684 passphrases that I have stored here, the vast (vast) majority of which are unique.  There's no way I could ever remember these, so I use Roboform to store these.  There's also LastPass, KeePass and other password storing applications out there, but I've found RoboForm to be by far the best.  Just make sure you use an appropriately secure passphrase to protect the application you store your passwords in!  :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Brisbane IT Training

It is a busy time for IT-based training here in Brisbane!

SMBiT Professionals (Brisbane Chapter) ran an open training session on Group Policy and Remote Desktop Services at The Chalk Hotel on 23rd October.

Robert Crane from CIAOPS is holding an informal "Office 365 for SMB. The tricks, traps and best practices" afternoon on 9th November at The Chalk Hotel from 2:00pm - 5:30pm.

The regular SMBiT Professionals Brisbane Chapter meeting will be held at The Chalk Hotel from 6:30pm - 9:00pm following Robert's Office 365 session on the 9th November.  This meeting we'll have Sophos presenting on their products and their MSP offering and we'll also have Shane Hoey (PowerShell Guru) presenting Part 2 of a PowerShell for SMB session.  The first part of this PowerShell for SMB presentation will be held with the SMBiT Professionals Sydney Chapter at North Ryde on the evening of the 8th November.  SMBiT Professionals members should check the mailing lists for details of these events and the streaming/recording availability.

On Thursday 10th November, again at The Chalk Hotel, Robert Crane will be holding a SharePoint Bootcamp from 8:30am - 5:30pm.  The aim of this hands-on course is to provide you with the technical and business skills to confidently install, support and maintain just about any SharePoint installation

And then we have Infrastructure Saturday on 3rd December from 8:00am until around 5:00pm which will be at the Microsoft Brisbane offices.  Last year's InfraSat was a resounding success and this year's event should follow in those footsteps.


The Outspoken Wookie