(Troll) DMM Cirque is legend

The DMM Cirque is electric turquoise and anthracite, it doesn’t matter how it fairs in the field, when I hold it I look cool as f*ck.
I often take it out when I am running and everybody gasps and steps out of my way because they know how f*cking cool I am.
It makes me run faster and climb mountains better. I sleep with it under my pillow.
DMM Cirque is life.
DMM Cirque is love.

From: http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=571799&v=1#x7607293

Can’t stop laughing (even though I was sitting on the toilet when I was read that…)

Waterproof: Soaking Test – Salomon Exode Low vs Mountain Warehouse Ascent

I have been researching boots these days and I decided to test my own boots’ waterproof performance by soaking them in water 😛


  • Water in a basin with the level just below the height of the toebox of the boot, to prevent the boots floating I used a heavy object on top of them.
  • A roll of dry newspaper stuck inside the boots
  • Mountain Warehouse Ascent IsoDry hiking boots (bought £60, RRP £80, Sep 2010)
  • Salomon Exode Low GTX approach shoes (bought £60, RRP £110, Sep 2011)
  • 30mins
    • Ascent: The suede was completely soaked and the newspaper is damp on the sides
    • Exode: The suede was completely soaked and the newspaper is slightly damp on the sides
  • 60mins
    • Ascent: Newspaper is completely soaked and dripping water – test stopped 🙂
    • Exode: Newspaper is damp on the sides, comparable with the Ascent 30mins ago
  • 90min
    • Exode: Newspaper is damp, about 30%
  • 120mins
    • Exode: Newspaper is damp, about 50% – test stopped 🙂
  • My two years old Exode wins! It is only damp on the sides when the Ascent is completely soaked through.
  • GTX (XCR for Exode) is useful to some extent, it is definitely not fully waterproof, but good to stop the water from soaking the boots completely
  • Mountain Warehouse’s IsoDry is completely useless against soaking => I have experienced that on Tryfan 🙁
  • Suede is very good at soaking water, it should be avoided for waterproof shoes. The bottom rand should NOT be suede (bad choice for both boots). It should work better with the soaking test if the rand is rubber or leather.

Review: Old Place (老地方) Chinese Restaurant

I haven’t been here for more than 2 years! My last memories were about “猪肉炖粉条”…

Now I found out they have a website with full English menu now, very nice: http://oldplace.co.uk/. Unfortunately they don’t take reservation for group < 6 🙁 However it is much larger than I thought, apparently I have never visited the basement section there – hot room in summer on a busy Friday night! it doubles the visible space on the ground floor, so you shouldn’t need to wait if there are just 2 of you 🙂

It is a pity that I can’t find “猪肉炖粉条” on the menu any more 🙁 so I ordered the Chef’s Special – “鸡兔蘑菇炖粉条” (Chicken Rabbit stew with Mushroom and Vermicelli) £10 – for its vermicelli. It is ok, big portion as usual, the mushrooms tasted nice, vermicelli is bit on the short side, same for the meats. Rabbit meats doesn’t taste well in this dish. I wish they could have more vermicelli in that…

Also ordered a healthy vegie dish – “炒白菜“ (Chinese Leaf) £5.50 – well, big portion as usual – it has some extras like baby corn and other random stuff – it is very plain overall, good for taming those salty and spicy dishes, just nothing special.

The best one I had this time is actually those Chinese BBQ skewers. I had Quail for £2.50 and Lamb for £1. Lamb one is standard taste, but the Quail one is very tasty, maybe it is cooked longer for such small bird, just the right amount of crispiness. I wish to return just for the Quail skewers!

Overall the dining experience was neutral, as you would expect from a Chinese restaurant. Food portion is on the larger side, as it is 东北菜.

Next time I think I might have “水煮牛肉” (Sliced Beef in Hot Chili Oil), the smell of this dish from my neighbouring table was irresistible!

Review: Casa Roberta Italian restaurant

Small but cozy and comfortable to dine in. The tiny toilet is outside the main building which can be cold during winter days.

Website is very well done (and done right!): http://casaroberta.co.uk/, certainly a pleasure to visit.

Tried “Bruschette Miste” (mixed bruschetta) as starter. Interesting choice as it contains strawberry 🙂 Certainly not your usual bruschetta, tasty, especially the strawberry with soft cheese one – but, there was only one bruschetta for the strawberry cheese one… the other one was roast vegetable, good, and two tomato ones, not as good as average tomato bruschetta, I would like smaller chops and more juice….

“Brasato di Manzo” (braised beef) was my main course. It came with potato wedges! My favourite 🙂 The beef is good but too salty.

“Pesce al cartoccio” (baked fish) was Mary’s main course. I tried it, the rather small sea bass was probably grilled first as the skin is slightly crispy, powdered with spices and chilli that gave you a spicy bite 🙂 The mussels and prawns doesn’t look too fresh to me though. Came with salads and potato wedges too 😛

Overall the dining experience was positive, we were the only people for the whole Tuesday night! Could be a quiet place to unwind and talk. Wine list is very limited though. Food portion is good for us, although many others will find the portion to be on the small side, maybe give it a 3-course 😛 We didn’t try any dessert though, as they looked normal to me.

50% off bills with the Tastecard.

Workflow: Extract VOB video clips from DVD without conversion

Finally I figured out this workflow using free software on OS X, for my projects (they are produced into DVD but I need to take samples for Youtube). By doing this, I am leaving all the encoding work to Youtube, since it will re-encode your video anyway. Supplying the original file to Youtube directly will avoid any quality degradation from your local encoding works.

Here is how I do it:

  1. Open your favourite video player that can playback the DVD or the VOB file (I use VLC Media Player), take a note of the start and end time of video you want to extract.
  2. Use MPEG Streamclip to open the DVD or the VOB file), it will complain that it need Apple’s Quicktime MPEG-2 Playback codec ($20) to play the video. Ignore this, I am not going pay for that.
  3. Press ⌘+G (jump to time), enter the start time you noted, press I (set In point). Press ⌘+G (jump to time), enter the end time you noted, press O (set Out point).
  4. Press ⌘+T (trim), now you should have the section you wanted. Press ⌘+S (save) to save the extracted video clip. MPEG Streamclip will save it using original format (VOB) without conversion or re-encoding.
  5. Verify your VOB clip by opening it with your favourite video player. Use the same procedure above to make adjustments.
  6. Upload to Youtube*, even though Youtube said it doesn’t support VOB file, it actually works well (since it is just MPEG-2 video).
* The VOB file is likely to be very big. If you have slow connection / bandwidth limit / can’t wait, then you will be much better off by encoding the video to H.264 first 🙂

    Upgrading to PHP 5.3 on CentOS

    CentOS came with an older version of PHP 5.1 and it doesn’t offer some of the newer features offered by PHP 5.2+ (I need json support as then I don’t need to write my own data structure, or parsing xml…). Upgrade it is non-trivial as you will most likely to get this:

    yum install php53

    --> php53-common conflicts with php-common
    Error: php53-common conflicts with php-common
    You could try using --skip-broken to work around the problem
    You could try running: package-cleanup --problems
    package-cleanup --dupes
    rpm -Va --nofiles --nodigest
    The program package-cleanup is found in the yum-utils package.

    If you can afford to remove php completely then that is the best way to give your system a refreshed version of php. Take a backup/snapshot of the system before doing so, though. Just in case 🙂

    yum remove php*

    This will remove all the php packages, including php-common (the conflicting one) and any other extensions you may have installed previously. Take a note of these and you will need them when you install php53. Yum will backup your previous php.ini file.

    yum install php53

    This will give you php53, php53-cli and php53-common as the base install. Check the version with php -v

    service httpd restart

    Now test with phpinfo()!

    Continue reading →

    Switching your ADSL broadband (LLU) from Sky to TalkTalk

    I decided to make this evil switch, as I am quite happy with Sky’s broadband (BB) service. However switching will enable me have new customer benefits which will produce a saving of 7 GBP per month. By switching to a cheap ISP (and somewhat poor quality one).

    I am documenting the whole process here to provide future switchers a point of reference 🙂

    Day 0 – 07/11/2012:

    • Called Sky, asked to leave. They didn’t even try to offer me a better deal even though I mentioned the switcher is purely for cost reasons. However they suggest me to contact the new ISP for anything related to the switch. Also advised me not to close the Sky account yet. 🙁
    • Signed up to TalkTalk (TT) using their switching page (you can get cashback from cashback websites, so please make good use of the switching). It seems that TT doesn’t like Sky’s LLU (somewhat expected) and requite a new telephone line with a new number. That’s okay for me as I don’t even have a telephone connected at all! (I don’t even know my landline number….). But if the same telephone number is important to you, then well… maybe you should stop here… 🙁
    • The online calendar show the appointment date of the BT Openreach engineer visit, pretty good on paper as you get earliest date in 7 days and you can choose AM or PM for the appointment. 🙂
    • Normal new line charge is 50 GBP, and TT charge you 25 GBP. 🙁

    Let’s see what is going to happen next, I should receive all the paperwork. And the BB should be alive 24 hrs after the engineer visit. Not sure what will happen on the Sky side, though. TT’s website still says that you need to cancel your existing one first, and that contradicts the switching page. 🙁

    Day 9 – 16/11/2012

    • Got an email saying that I will received the welcome package by post soon (even though I have the direct debit setup already…) and the engineer visit will be on 30th!!!!!! This is ridiculous, as when I booked online the appoint is 19th, now with my day booked off from work, they are going to postpone it to a further 11 days? Once I got time I WILL complain to them for ruining my busy schedule by cheating! 🙁
    Day 19 – 26/11/2012
    • Received the information pack, good, clear information and they even printed your specific details in a full-colour advertisement-quality booklet, impressed 🙂
    • Also received the ADSL router, D-Link DSL-2780. It got a big TalkTalk stamped on it and looked ugly (and bigger) than my Sky Sagem one. It has 4 LAN ports + a USB port, not sure what it does and I guess it is not enabled anyway.

    Day 23 – 30/11/2012

    • Judgement day! The engineer did call and came at 2pm. However he discovered that my Sky service was still running so he can’t simply take over without me cancelling the Sky line. I though TalkTalk’s switching service had already done this for me! TalkTalk failed again! So I did some “emergency” talk to Sky, cancelling my line instantly. However it doesn’t really stop the service until about 10-14 days’ time (estimated 15th Dec). Well, I guess I have to pay both providers for this 15 odd days! I need to pass my blame to TalkTalk sometime, if I had the time to do so…. But remember TalkTalk will NOT cancel your existing line!!!! You need to do this yourself. Useless TalkTalk’s switching service… 🙁
    • The BT engineer was quick to switch my line after I cancelled the Sky one. He went out and plugged in the new TalkTalk line, it worked instantly, so I didn’t have any network disruption except during the time he switches over (about 1 hour).  I am impressed about the quick switchover, but I guess that is because I paid for both services and gave then 15 day overlap 🙂 Extra money for the sake of network connectivity, worth it. 🙂
    • However the TalkTalk broadband was indeed inferior to the Sky one…. The D-Link router does have more features and not locked down, but it is performance was not that good. I have frequent intermittent issues within my LAN, as my iPhone app to control my local server constantly hangs. I guess it is either the router doesn’t like the iPhone or it is simply generating latency for no reason. I might need to talk to them for a replacement router if this issue persists. It doesn’t happen every time so it is hard to debug. 🙁
    • Also the internet connectivity somewhat flaky too! I got 13M down and 800k up, compared with my Sky speed of 16M down and 1.2M up. Not sure if I am still in the DLM period but I will ask for a faster profile next week if this is still what I got. Sometime the page got slow to load up to a few minutes, but the stats didn’t show any obvious errors/packet losses. 80% of the time, the internet remains robust and on par with my previous one. But hey, I hasn’t had single problem with Sky, at all! So this is inferior. I need to speak to them as well about this 🙁

    Overall I have proved TalkTalk to be inferior for my flat. I have yet to discover a plus side of them….

    The story continues…. I will post updates about my issues and contacts with TalkTalk…

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