Sunday, September 19, 2010

CharityHack presentations

1. mobile webapp for scan in quirk icons

2. Volunteer Report Card (team I was part of)

3. Mobile app of recognising change, adding it up and making a donation

4. pre approved payments, all platforms single sigin on arcross devices track plus api for charity or developers

5. mobile swear app to give to charity and chuggr little game text adventure, avoid chuddr

6. pitchinin for artist to unlock or release content once enough of the community have donated to the profile.

7. aggregating amounts for a whole event ie adds up the donations of all the volutneer for a particular event

8. rollcall mobile app. eg. list of kids on a school trip

9. internet shock like online version of through sponges at people at a country fayre.

10. improving donation forms capturing data behind the scenes

11. biggive take out reason that stop people giving on the street. Hostile profile, each homeless person, hit list what they want/need e.g. food to haircut

12. charitybox browser extention buy e-commerce links and converts to affiliate lists, so the charity get the commission on the affiliate link.

13. feel good confess your sins

14. trainwreck remote control train and move train by donating

15. e.g. maps real time a runner ie. marathon api mashup

16. wegive aggregate friends round a charity twist, challenge friends to add more, make it sort of a social game

17. mycharity aggregates your charity twitter followers in a list, links to donations


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Charity Hack Richmond london - live blogging

Welcome to event from Paypal wizard.

Participants introduced themselves.

Now, presentation on 'how to give to charity'

e.g direct indirect now use digital world to reduce friction.

Types of charity, oxfam, now lots of different types. Gives wider appeal to audience. Tap into online GOODNESS? (what does that mean) A. Look cool, UI , ie stack up against commercial alternatives.

New govt. big society, need to self fund (charities). Charities now feel pain more now as reality of credit crunch arrives.

iphone app charities like e.g ihobo

red campain example, perception tech is free? But from tech point of view they are in ie6 world not bang up todate, ie listen to what charity is at.

Not aware of the data the charity creates and how they can use or share.

How, can the charity be FOUND? google ranking, communicate what they do twitter, location based

Urgent charity needs, how to keep stories in the media after the initial top story status

giftaid use api to make this easy, automate the paperwork

relationship between giver and direct impact on cause, not just handed over into admin box. Feedback, update on impact/change. Like tangible benefit to giving, what does it buy box of medicine, one item or change of stuff?

Make everyone 'feel good' of why to give to charity, change the world.


ebay, paypal api plug in for charities

donations as a services

api to get into payment api s a e.g. paypal ebay and others (probably) Self service within a widget? (my understanding)

JUSTGIVING - expanding the market for

get rid of the friction via tech.

what they do:

e.g. fund raising page, e.g. kid bike round the park, got into media raise 200k

take away the giftaid hassle, provider takes 5% of giftaid part.

now expand from their website to any distribution social network to mobiles etc.

start. rss widgets then on to API

tech run throught .net api url or api xml rest method and sdk for .net developers



do-it charity hack

volunteering now opening up through api xml rest search to application form etc.


now able to syndicate donations and like direct debt payments (puts limits on the value ie group donating)

now in app mobile (apple donate does not allow like ) but way round it option 2 paypal

MEC hosted as a service

APP's are check but takes days rather than weeks.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Winter clothing 2010-11

The first Autumn long range weather forecast I read has been issued. Looks like the Scottish hills might be in the running for an early winter coat again. This would not be that unusual, the last two Novembers have produced heavy snow falls and skiing has gotten underway. Late epic and long lasting snow in the Deeside hill meant my skiing jacket took a fair amount of wear and tear, plus it was getting on, it now in the recycling bin. What is the best new jacket to look for? In terms of extreme performance I was taken by the performance of the new hilltrek ventile Nikwax outdoor jacket. It been tested to the extreme in arctic conditions. The noticalbe feature I liked about in this review is its performance in removing moisture after exertion. As a back country free skiier this is a big deal. The effort of climbing up a hill or mountain produce a lot of body sweat but once you stop this moisture chills you and even on a clam day the windchill produced by speed of skiing down hill makes descents chilly. So, I am keen to explore this jacket for next season. Hilltrek's made to measure tailoring allows for personalization of the pockets and design, us free skiing like pockets as the rucksack will be holding our ski boots!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

NAFCO review

NAFCO, the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention 2010 was held in Aberdeen last week. This was the first time I had attended the Convention although two others have been held in Aberdeen and a couple overseas too. The Convention covers a wide range of activities, a conference, workshops both music and dance, concerts and ceilidhs, and not forgetting sessions.

I attended three workshops, the first two were to do with learning new tunes, by ear and by learning techniques to memorise a tune from the music script. Both were great. The first tutor was Carley Williams and the tune to be picked up was 'The Road to Banff'. But no fiddle was required initially only the voice. Carley's no.1 starting tip, learn to sing the tune out loud. Not the whole tune but measure by measure. So, as a group we repeated back and forth with Carley the first measure. The structure of a tune often follows a pattern, first question, first answer (second time round might have first answer part b) and second question, second answer (again second time through the second answer might have an answer b, or even repeat a previous part of a tune). With this new insight, the fiddles were tucked under the chin. And the same process was repeated, a section at a time was repeated between the group and the tutor until the first measure was put together. Then the second measure was tackled. Could we remember the first measure after reaching the end? It was time to find out. OK, not every note but not bad effort, sounded good as a group.

Learning from sheet music was the next workshop. James Alexander was the workshop tutor and he started by pointing out some gernalism about the structure of tunes and how to find certain bars that were easier to memorise, e.g. a scale run. If you could remember these then the rest of the tune could be built around that or many years down the line after not playing a tune that bar might ignite the rest of the tune back to life. Again the same technique was used. Tutor played a section, the group played and eventually the tune was completed. Along that journey James shared technique, bowing to finger placement, even the benefits of practicing a tune at half speed. Then we had some time to learn about improvisation. Techniques that help learn new tunes but also how to contribute to a session while learning a tune. I'm not all the savvy with musical theory so learning about Chord, counting to 5 notes to the fifth chord and then using the arpeggio notes to. The key being to add to the rhythm of the tune and to play quietly i.e. not over sound the main tune. Other main take away, was to trust the ear, if it sound good, it will generally but a good addition to the tune. A great workshop again.

The third workshop was to put some of that learning in to practice, learning a brand new retreat march, a pipe march. Carol Anderson was the workshop tutor this time and learning to play pipe style was the theme of the class. But first the tune had to be learnt. By ear was the technique, building the tune bar by bar. Ok, we did this for this first measure and then we started the learning about how to make the March sound more Pipe like. Adding grace notes was the first step, but where and what note or notes? Carol started with the basic, not above or below or the note before. The goal to find that pipe like 'drone' or spirit via the fiddle. Finding a tame piper was recommended. The music was then handed out, a 9/8 march, no key signature in pipe music. The grace notes were indeed along the lines Carol mention, however, the piper can get in 4 grace notes and what would be across 2 strings on the fiddle, which requires amazing skill at speed and thus need to be tackled in a different manner. A triplet or burrell can be used but not with a loose wrist as normally taught but with a stiff bow arm, right up to the shoulder so the bow sort of vibrates of the string to bring out a pipe like character. One to be practice alone until mastered. In this style of march two the main beat would often be in the middle of a bar and each bar would start down bow, up bow alternative, unlike the 2/4 4/4 down bow to start each new bar.

There was much more learning shared over all three workshops. Hopefully, I can put all the teaching to make me fiddle better.

Overall, a great 5 days. From opening the Woodend Barn concert with Banchory Starthspey and Reel Society to a 3am session at the Bluelamp. The organisers laid on the best of events.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What to do on a bank holiday Monday? Answer: walk from Aboyne to Aberdeen. The warm sunny days had slipped away, so the vision of wearing shorts and t-shirt for the walk was no longer on. What to wear on a day when the weather forecast suggested a band of rain early morning that would clear the sky come evening along the coast but with a northly wind, stronger nearer you get to the coast? Well, when I woke at 5.15am it was a clear sky and frosty in Aboyne, -2c but with a quick scan of the radar image, a band of rain was steaming south. So, I chose my ventile ‘made to measure’ hilltrek walking trousers and the inner lining of my skiing jacket. Sure enough it started to rain just after crossing Aboyne bridge. My first leg of the trip was to walk to Potarch Bridge via the south deeside road, 6.6 miles according to google maps. By then the rain had past and it cloudy but with sunny spells, and it remained like that for the rest of the day. The Deeside Way, was the walk I was wanting to follow, the only snag is, that it does not exist between Aboyne and Banchory so I free walked it along the river bank to Invercranny before walking along the road to enter Banchory, a 6.9 mile leg.

Then I met up with a friend in Banchory and we started on the official Deeside Way path, the old Deeside Railway line walk. The train was in operation at Milton of Crathes and 6.5 miles from Banchory we arrived at Drumoak. Not far from the edges of Aberdeen, Peterculter being the first sign of Urbanisation. It was windy by now keeping it cool but feeling warm in the glimpses of the sun. Now I thought, my 4 month old ventile trousers may still be in need of some wearing in but no, they felt great the whole way. More than I can say for me feet. I chose my hiking boots but by Peterculter I opted for my trainers. Us hill walkers are used to soft hill tracks or soft peaty ground but the deeside way path is hard and tarred for good stretches. I met up with another friend for the last 7 miles from Peterculter to Duthie Park but the finishing line for me was the north seas at the beach esplanade. I think about a 32 mile walk in about 10 hours.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

lochnagar backbowl skiing

A Spring day that turned just about into summer at the valley bottom still provided a great day of spring skiing on Lochnagar yesterday. Two hours of walking brought the arrival of the big snow patches but still enough gaps to make walking quick snow free. I left the carpark just after 6.30am and arrived at the summit of lochnagar just after 9.30am. A strong wind gave moderate buffering but that became light around lunch time as the milky sky turned more blue. The front of lochnagar corrie has snow but was more patchy in nature, the apple core run was complete but narrow, even the front of Meall Corie Na Saobhaidhe wasn't that inviting but I skied down the ridge to its summit for further investigation. But the funny thing is the closer you get the less you can see, the wind was still buffeting. The big story of the winter has been the snow coming on an east wind and loading the west facing slopes with snow and they are still loaded. The decision on where to ski was easy to make. See the photo.

lochnagar backbowl skiing, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

The new snow of last week was only spring for about 2cm, but still soft snow below and sitting on a hard frozen spring base. On the steeper slopes, I felt the avalanche risk, it was rated moderate for the day and there was evidence of a couple of cornice collapse avalanches in The Stuic Corrie. I navigated my way quickly out of the soft stuff and on to harder spring snow. The firmer snow made for marking a good stair case for walking up the slope again. Ended up walking up four times. Then it was time to think about heading back home. I had noticed on the way up that the west facing slope of Cuidhe Crom was sitting with snow top to bottom and the Glas Alt valley was full of snow but with the burn now returning to site in place, the snow bridges looked real dodgy! The ski across to the Crom was difficult soft snow but it firmed as I climbed again. Skiing down was great up top, and fairly steep but then the soft stuff returned, up to 12 inches of loose spring granular snow. A cross between powder skiing and spring skiing. Tough technically but I eventually got some rhythm going. Then it was a case of following Glas Alt, well until the snow ran out and that was at the waterfall. Then it was a tiring walk back to the car park in the heat of the afternoon sun. Maybe 20c or so. What a day. Scotland you are magic place.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Carnferg to Aboyne 7 km ski run 1200ft vertical

Saturday morning was damp with light rain. The weather forecast earlier in the week said blue sky and heavy frost but I got myself ready for a hike up Carnferg with my skis. By 10.30 things were brighter, the snow was real wet and spring like on the valley floor. I was hoping a freeze thaw cycle during the week had built a bit of a base but as I got half way up the fungle I realized this was not going to be the case. The snow was still real deep and hadn't really started consolidating into spring snow. It was tough going to reach Rest and Be Thankful, lots of walkers foot steps to follow meant progress was good. It was a t-shirt and ski jacket day, trying to keep cool is warmer temps is hard. At the top of the fungle the foot steps disappeared at the point where the track leads to Carnferg, it was a bit of a blow as that meant slogging through deep wet snow for miles, cutting the first tracks. After you cross the fungle burn there is a marshy meadow, the snow depth there was up to 70cm and required great energy not just to walk forward but to prevent yourself from getting stuck, one of my ski poles disappeared right in and I had to dig it out. But to my surprise in the trees some foot prints appeared again. I was longing to get into the trees as the snow is usually a lot less deep, but not today, there was mass of it. A masses of tree branches littering the snow. Following the tracks allowed for better progress until a small burn crossing where I caught up with a couple of walkers. I don't think they knew the path that well as they made their way East, whereas I know this area like the back of my hand but even for me on Saturday, the woodland was like a new place. The snow makes everything look the same, but I knew where the edge of the wood was and how far South had to be walked and the snow just kept on getting deeper and deeper. Two hours in I reach the open moorland and the base of Carnferg. The landrover track a smooth blanket of snow. In short, the most solid cover of snow I have ever seen on Carnferg. The powder snow was deeper earlier in the year but this snow cover was solid and vast. I did not have the energy to make it to the summit on that last occasion and while I knew it was going to be another 40mins of sheer effort I was motivated to make it to the summit. Lunch was had and even the sky was looking optimistically brighter, with that I started the climb. The snow gave some encouragement as it was firming up but it was unreliable the whole way up, sometimes, 6 inches of sink in, the next I was up to my thighs. Photos stops were used as rests, Lochnagar was in the sun and it was heading my way. The tip of the Carnferg pyramid Monument appeared and with a couple more minutes I was there. A bit of a wind but the day was brightening up for me just at the right time. Photos were taken, hiking boots taken off, socks rung out and warm ski boots put on. The snow cover was wind swept at the summit. However, I wanted to check out the snow cover on the back slope, its the steepest on the hill and I didn't fancy the ski back down where I had just walked up, skiing on porridge equals a broken leg to me! The back bowls were loaded and seemed firmer, probably been baking in the sun earlier in the week. Back I walked to get the skis on. The wind drifts were skied over, bump, bump, bump, then some porridge, then as the sloped steepened, the snow firmed up some descent turns could be made and all that effort to reach the summit was forgotten. A quick stop before a clump of heather and then a keen look up the hill so see the ski tracks in the snow. Not bad. A buzz. But then the skis need to be taken off and the tiny matter of hiking back up a much steeper slopes in the ski boots this time. While heavier they have a larger surface areas so I found them beneficial in the climb out. The back bowl stretched the whole width of the hills. I tried further west for the second run but hit a soft patch and a nose plant in to the hill was the result. The snow still so soft that my skis went straight in, obviously crossed over so it was a bit awkward to get untangled. Not deterred I skied out the slope finding firmer snow. A longer climb out and while I'd have liked another few runs, time was getting on, plus I was knackered and had 3 hours ski/walk back to Aboyne!

Now, how to tackle skiing the front of Carnferg, not very steep and deep wet snow on no base? Simple answer: long traversing turns and I mean across the whole hill. Turned out to be great fun, it would take you hours to skip across that hill as I did, a view of Aboyne-Westhills, a view of Lochnager etc. Gradually loosing height each turn. Now, some where on the way up I had lost my ski goggles from my pocket so I wanted to trace my tracks back. I kept my skis on and headed into the trees. A lot more pleasant riding on top of the snow than sinking in to it. It was a bit rock and roll at times (but not actual rocks, they were buried), burns skied over and even jumped the fungle ski burn with my ski boots on, risky. With one short hike up I was back at the top of the fungle. As a kid, I've always wanted to ski the Fungle so I had to go for it. The snow was real wet and the slope was just steep enough to keep forward momentum with a light push from the poles. The first steep descent approached through the trees, well trodden snow meant my speed accelerated, now the tack is 3 to 4 metres wide and my skis are 2 metres long, how to stop, a choppy snow plough ski style. The snow was less deep and even solid ice as the last steep approached, snow plough, ski straight into a tree, a turn, straight down the ice track and a turn to stop. A run I'd not recommend. Then a fun skim across an ice blistered track running with water, the odd bare patch of cover and then the valley floor was reached. 7 km of downhill skiing and 7 1/2 hours of ski adventure.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Glenshee ski report 1 March 2010

With a calm blue sky day forecast the only place to head was Glenshee yesterday. The road was reported as closed between Breamar and Glenshee due to drifting first thing but that must have been precautionary as the road was black all that way. After the storm on last week the snow blower and snow plough had cut through the snow all the way to the ski resort. Even the remains of an avalanche remained. The worst road conditions were between Ballater and Breamar on the way up but even that had disappeared in the strong sun light.

Approaching Glenshee the hills became increasing wind swept. The narrow valley must channel the wind big time as it reaches the summit. In lower deeside the hill cover appears more uniform. The place looks great, mountains of snow around the car park and cafe, a ticket was purchased and up sunny side chair I went. The Clunny slopes was hard packed, OK, bullet proof snow. Up Meal Odhar poma and down Corrrie Fionn, two width groomed snow, soft snow but the rest was bullet proof hard snow. The wind had scoured and polished the snow hard on all none west facing slopes, did a couple of runs there before Glas Maol opened. The black run was closed due to avalanche risk so it was a tuck position across the top, but a head wind meant a bit of shushing was in order all day but it was worth it all day. The snow on west facing side of the gully was soft, ranged from wind blown powder (very little) to Sastrugi (like sand dune markings in a dessert) and the best of it all wind packed powdery snow with the odd major lip of powder. That required the furthest traveling to but worth it all day.

Skid back for a late morning refreshment. Meall Odhar has a great Mogul run near the poma track and sunny side is in magic form, fast soft silky snow. While having a drink I watched a few skiers have a go on the Tiger and that is where I headed. Did two runs, god it was hard, hard and steep but a challenge to get to the bottom in one piece. There was some grip in the snow but if you happened on scrapped smooth part on a steep section then, even the sharpest of edges could not get grip. Up the chairlift again but to head across to Cairnwell, the top section smooth and icy, any soft snow near the fence, the rest of the piste was fast loose snow most of the way, especially near the fence. Lastly for the morning up Cairn Aosda, baking in the sun all morning. Nice silky fast snow and deep at that, making the top steep part a mogul field. A ski through the fully plastered gully to the back of the cafe to stop for lunch.

The afternoon I headed back to Glas Maol via the Meall Odhar T-bar, Ok now a poma, took me into the Corrie Fionn gully, great snow and lots of lips, jumps if you are into that. Skied until the legs, well the knees had had enough and spent the last half hour on Sunnyside Chair, if only every piste has a chair lift, it does bode for a good rest. All sunny side chair slopes were in great form, just the old worn icy patched. Blue sky to the last.

Photo from the day

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New made to measure trous

Aboyne Mid Deeside, originally uploaded by ecotorch.

First outing for my new Cabrach ventile 'made to measure' walking trousers from this afternoon. A cold and high wind chill day and I am please to say the new trous kept out the wind. A wee bit of powder snow around and that sometimes blew up my legs, maybe an inner elastic finish in future designs? This is my first ventile material product. I like the feel of the finish, felt like I had been wearing the trousers for months. My last pair of hiking trousers were more high tech and involved washing them to keep them waterproof, while yet to see these trousers in the wet the work in a more natural way, the fibres expand thus preventing the water from getting to you. This appeals to the eco in me, sort of fits in with the natural environment I like to be part of. So, bring on the rain through it looks like it will be more snow. . .