My London 2012 Olympics

It is now only two weeks until the London 2012 Olympic Games begins. Here’s my personal itinerary based on the events I’ve managed to get tickets for.

Friday 27th July – Opening Ceremony. I don’t have a ticket, but I am in it! The how come? and doing what? and all other questions will have to wait to be answered as I am under NDA. I’ve been rehearsing for a while now, including in the stadium itself. Guess I am watching it on telly like everybody else 🙁

Saturday 28th July (All day) – Men’s Cycling Road Race. Despite being undoubtedly bleary eyed and possibly hung over, I will be trekking down to Surrey to take up a place on Box Hill to watch Team GB, led by Mark Cavendish, ascend the hill nine times on their way to what will be the first medal of the games, hopefully a GB gold…

Saturday 4th August (PM) – Diving. I’ll be watching the Women’s 3m springboard semi finals.

Saturday 4th August (Evening) – Men’s Basketball. GB v Australia and one other game.

Tuesday 7th August (Evening) – Track cycling. This is the final track cycling session and will see the Women’s sprint, Men’s Keirin and Women’s Omnium decided. All three represent very real GB Gold medal possibilities. I’ve got an AA category seat right on the back straight. This is the huge one for me.

Saturday 11th August (All day) – Men’s Modern Pentathlon. A strangely compelling chance to see three venues and five sports in one day. Fencing in the Copper Box, Swimming in the Aquatics Centre, and Equestrian, running and shooting in Greenwich Park. Historically the GB men are not contenders (unlike our women) but this seemed too good to pass up.

Sunday 12th August (Evening) – the final day of the games and the closing ceremony. I’ll be in Hyde Park watching it on the big screens, followed up with a concert featuring New Order, The Specials and of course, Blur.

Saturday 1st September (PM) – Paralympic track cycling. Including Women’s sprint that will feature Sarah Storey going for GB Gold.

In-between all that I’ll be glued to the TV coverage of course.

Can’t wait…

Our dogs

Having just said that this blog is going to primarily focus on work/software stuff here’s a personal post 🙂

Anybody following me on Twitter or Facebook will know that over the last few months we’ve had some pretty significant changes in the Spender household. Here’s the full story.

We both grew up in and around families with dogs and have often talked about the time when we will be able to get some of our own. With us both working full time and living in a flat we never thought it practical or frankly fair. Then one day Lana came home from work…

It’s a long story for another time, but in short, we found ourselves with a dog which had been effectively surrendered into Lana’s care. The dog in question was a less then year old Jack Russell Terrier cross (with what we don’t know but we suspect some Corgi in there which would make her a Cojack!) We did the usual things you do with a stray/lost dog including a trip to the vets to check for a chip, posters, informing the Gardai and so on. After a week or so of convincing ourselves we could not possibly keep her we arranged for an animal rescue in Co. Wicklow to take her. On the day we took her down but couldn’t come to let her go. So it was that Lucy became part of the family!

lucy.jpg

This meant a number of adjustments to our lifestyle. Firstly we moved to a house with a garden. Luckily our lease was up shortly anyway and due to the market our new 3 bed house was significantly less rent than the flat! In addition, Lana quit her job and has subsequently found a better, part time position in nursing which offers us much more flexibility around being making sure that one or both of us are around for most of the time. It also meant I finally had the excuse to give up my 11 year old Mondeo for a nice nearly new Avensis estate.

The summer with Lucy was fantastic. She really became an integral part of the family and has charmed everybody who has met her. She has had her fair share of visits to the vet for allergies and the odd infection. Perhaps that may be why somebody decided they couldn’t cope with her because you would have to be mad to give up such a dog otherwise.

The plan once we were in a position to get dogs was to always get two so recently we began the search for a companion. The plan was to get a similar size and breed, but a male (of course we’ve had Lucy spayed) The plan was also to get a rescue dog. After much looking around, we found Jack:

jack.jpg

Once again, he has settled in brilliantly and is getting along great with us all. Naturally there has been some jostling for position between him and Lucy (she is winning) and the occasional argument over food or toys but overall everything has been really good. it is great to see them literally bounce off each other and provide endless hours of amusement for both them and us!

Two cool tools for Apple (and other) order and delivery tracking

One of the most popular entries on this blog is “The ins and outs of Apple shipment and order tracking” However, that post is nearly two years old, and things move on.

We recently took advantage of the Apple Black Friday sales to order a new 13″ Macbook for Lana. Of course, this had me revisit that post and start tracking the status of the deliver. In this case it was a straightforward standard configuration with nothing else added onto the order, so it was processed as a Fast Ship (EMEA) order.

The Apple order status page and tracking links showed that UPS were the carrier. It took at least a day for their tracking system to show any details however. Checking back every now and then was annoying.

Delivery Status Dashboard widget

That led me to discover the awesome Delivery Status dashboard widget, and also the equally awesome Delivery Status Touch for the iPhone and iPod Touch, from JuneCloud. Both allow you to insert your order numbers/tracking numbers for a large variety of online shops and couriers including Apple, Amazon, UPS, TNT, Fedex, DHL and more. They will then show you the order/tracking status in a lovely UI. The dashboard widget also has Growl integration which is great as you don’t need to keep going into Dashboard to see if things have changed.

Delivery Status Touch

The iPhone/Touch app is available from the App Store and provides the same basic functionality, but also allows you to see the actual provider order/tracking page as well as showing you locations on a map. It can sync with the dashboard widget as well so you only need to enter the order or tracking numbers once.

WebSphere ESB for z/OS Redbook residency

As I mentioned earlier, WebSphere ESB for z/OS is now released. There is an IBM Redbook residency currently being advertised to write a getting started guide for both WebSphere Process Server and WebSphere ESB on z/OS.

Residencies are open to IBM and non-IBM employees and are a great way to increase your knowledge of these products, and to get your name in print! This residency is being run in Raleigh, North Carolina for four weeks starting on 23rd October. It is being led by a friend of mine, Martin Keen. More details and the application form are can be found on the IBM Redbooks site.