Saturday, December 30, 2006

Windy problems....

The wind today was something spectacular, at some times it was difficult to stand or walk, great! I decided it would be good to embrace these elements, and go for a walk. I set out in the car down the road towards the beach (the waves are bound to be spectacular too...) but about 1/2 a mile from home my driver side window started to go down of its own accord, and after a few inches dropped instantly out of sight.

This is the kind of "windy" problem I could have done without. Anyhow, I got home, had a quick wrestle with the door/window, and lost. So I decided to cut my losses until daylight, and less windy conditions, and covered the window opening with plastic, and parked the car in as sheltered a spot as we could find.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Vanishing [2003]

This has got to be one of my favorite movies of all time, it is certainly one that has popped into my mind frequently, usually weekly, since I first saw it years ago. Every time SWMBO pops into a petrol station, and does whatever one does in a petrol station that takes longer than it should, I wonder if I'll ever see her again.

It was broadcast again this Christmas, and I PVR'd it and watched it again the other night. It definitely stood the test of time for me, and was a captivating watch once again. Great story, interesting interpretation of a fairly standard thriller storyline.

Van Helsing [2004]

I muddle my way through a lot of films, but this is an epic and a true work of genius for me. The filming locations, effects, coloring and flow of this film are all excellent. The visual spectacle of this film is captivating, and although the story is barely more than the usual goodie chases baddie storyline it is still one of the best films I have seen in a long time. I can heartily recommend this one, although it is spoilt a little by a slightly overly sentimental ending!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's Christmas time....

This Christmas we decided to do things a little differently. We wanted to spend as much time at home as possible, due to the fact that the kids received a set of drums for their main present. Obviously this present is not as portable as normal, and so rather than traipse around the clan we had the in-laws to ours home for dinner, and then a relaxing afternoon in front of a great fire.

Later we headed over to my folks, and again sat in front of a blazing fire and exchanged gifts.

After that it was off to the family do where we get to see our once-a-year cousins etc, etc, which was actually thoroughly enjoyable.

I know, I know what you're thinking, we didn't do great at the staying at home thing we planned. In fact we did manage to spend significantly longer at home on Christmas Day than we ever usually do. Today, however was different. Usually the vast majority of Boxing Day is spent with the other side of the family. For the first time, we skipped it.

We stayed at home all day, with the exception of a walk on the beach. I was firmly assured that a walk on the beach on a day like today was paramount to madness, however the fun we had there in that hour was unparallelled in a long time. A great Christmas.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Turn 'em off

There is no need for you to use your fog lights in this weather*.

I hope that a large percentage of the people who share the roads on which I commute read this blog. Recently the weather has been "foggy." I would suggest a better word would be "mist," which I would define as not as thick as fog.

Now, "fog lights", that all of our cars are equipped with are there to make us more visible to other drivers. This is their purpose.

If I am driving 10 metres (or similar) behind you, and can see the colour of your car, and read your number plate, you do not need to use your fog lights to make yourself more visible to me, or whoever is behind you.

When driving in bumper to bumper traffic, turn those fog lights off. It is actually a hazard to have them on as 1) it can be dazzling to the people behind; they cannot see as clearly what lies ahead
and 2) it hampers the contrast effect of your brake lights, which are designed to draw attention even from the peripheral vision of the driver behind.

Please drive sensibly.

* The exception is if you are the last car in the traffic. In that case it is prudent to use your lights to draw attentation any cars who may catch up behind you. Once a car has caught up however, turn 'em off. The law states that you should turn them on, and off "when required."

Friday, December 15, 2006

Portstewart in the rain

Today we visited Portstewart briefly for some Christmas shopping. Before I became overcome with the shopping excitement, I managed to excuse myself, and pop across the promenade, and snap some pictures of the Sun setting behind the Convent.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

More heating work

One of my objectives with the automated heating system was to be able to record how much we use the heating, and so I record all on/off events in a logfile. In order to visualise the data I went looking for a free chart component for c#.

I found ZedGraph, which is a sourceforge project for "creating 2D line and bar graphs" - exactly what I wanted. I spent some time writing code to parse the file into time events, and adding new commands to the server to retrieve the data.

I knocked out a quick GUI, which is not fully functional yet, but it demonstrates what I want to see.

Below is a screenshot of a graph for December so far...

For some reason the graph always leaves the first label off the x axis, but thats really only minor in the grand scheme of things!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Another week, another release

Development has slowed considerably on the heating project, but I try to make any small changes go live on a Friday, so that it has the maximum live testing time to show any problems before I leave it with the family on Monday.

This week sees some more tidyup, lots of thread locking code and some other robustness features.

From the users point of view there is one major improvement - it is now possible to set the timed programs from the GUI. Using a graphical week calendar component I picked up at the code project it is just a matter of highlighting the times of the week when the heat should be on, and thats it!
Right clicking on the display for a zone brings up the following screen:
From here it is possible to create "Once" programs, that are deleted after they run, or "Weekly" programs that are saved to run every week.