Monthly Archives: August 2008

York to Dublin

Today’s a big travel day … we have to go from York all the way to Dublin.

By train we have to go from York to Manchester, then to Chester, and ending up in Holyhead.   At Holyhead we take the ferry to Dun Laoghaire in Ireland.

Once we got to Dun Laoghaire, we had a bit of a problem figuring out how to get into Dubliin … as the people at the DART station (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) were not all that helpful when we asked for information.

We finally got to down town Dublin and took a cab to our hotel.   The trip was longer because we were being driven … had we walked, it would have only been about 6/10ths of a mile.   But, considering we had luggage, it was worth the €5.

Once we got checked into the hotel, we gave my friend Paul Tuohy a call over Skype.   He agreed to pick us up at 9 in front of our hotel.

G’Night Dublin.

Dinner with the Rowe Family

Today we just wandered around York a bit … it was a Bank Holiday … so it was kind of busy.

We did have to arrange our trip to Dublin … which was a bit complex.   Once that was sorted, we walked around a bit … had lunch at Little Bettys, which was quite good.   I was even able to find an open wifi network while at Little Bettys so I could check email.

We got back to the hotel around 3:30 … as my friend Martin was going to pick us up at 4.

Martin came to collect us and took us to his house … we had a wonderful time with Martin, his wife Jane, and kids Ben & Heather.   Jane made a wonderful beef stew with potatoes and vegetables from their garden.

Of course Martin and I geeked out a bit … talking iSeries, Linux, digital cameras, and Martin’s Asus Eee PC (which I’m probably going to have to get).

One thing that was very interesting was to see Martin’s house … Martin and I are both in similar age & economic brackets … so seeing his house, community, and town, was quite enlightening.

Stow to York

We traveled from Stow to York today … took the train, as it was the easiest thing to do.   Or so we thought.

Yesterday we were a bit worried that we would even be able to get a cab … but the front desk person at the Unicorn was able to get that sorted for us.

First leg of the journey was from Stow to Moreton on Marsh via cab … then we took the train from Moreton to Oxford.   There we had a one hour layover.

The train from Oxford to York was QUITE full … there were about 10 people, along with their luggage, standnig in the isle of the train (along with us).   We had to stand up for about an hour before the conductor told us there were unreserved seats in the carriage in ahead of us.

After we arrived in York, and a quick cab ride to our hotel, we both checked email (keep in mind we had been out of touch with the ‘net for 5 days).   Took care of a few bits of important stuff and then called my friend Martin to arrange a time to get together.   Skype is a wonderful thing 🙂   We also gave my folks a call just to check in.

After all that business was taken care of, we started to figure out what we wanted to do for the rest of the evening.   Last time we were in York, Ginny had wanted to take one of the Ghost tours … but we weren’t able to work it in.   This time we were going to.

There are a number of outfits that do ghost tours of york … we had fliers for three of them … we had chosen one on based on my parents recommendation … as we were going down to where they organized the tour, we ran into a guy who was (I assume) an independent tour guide that runs his own ghost tour.   Trevor Rooney (we learned his name later) told us that the tour we were heading for had a lot of little kids and ‘prams’ (strollers & buggies).   We liked the guys character and decided, if he was right, we would check out his tour.

Turns out he was right … so we headed back and signed up with his tour.   He charged £1 more than the other operators, but it was quite worth the £5 each.   He told wonderful stories, weaving local history, his own family, and ghost stories into his patter.   As an added bonus, most of the the people on the tour were adults … only a handful of kids … and no babies.

After the tour we headed back to the hotel (longish walk back) and are now relaxing, updating blogs, etc.

G’night all.


Today we went to Oxford. A quite enjoyable town, full of history and interesting places.

Took a bit of time to figure out the bus and train scheduled. Bus fare is quite reasonable ( £1 each, Stow to Moreton). Oddly enough the train operators don’t see very concerned about checking tickets.

Our first stop was the Tourist Information Center to get some local maps and information. We lucked out and arrived minutes before a walking tour was about to start. We signed up for it ( £7 each) and were waken on a very enjoyable and informative stroll around the colleges by Phillip May.

After the tour, we stopped for lunch at a pub (fish ‘n chips) then wandered back to see the natural history museum. After that we started to go back to another pub Ginny wanted to see when we passed the history of science museum. I wanted to pop in there a bit, which was quite worthwhile. Very interesting, especially the photography exhibit. The old cameras were very cool. Especialy the Kodak Brownie Hawkeye, which is the same camera I started out with. Quite a contrast to the Canon 40D I use now.

After that we went to the Turf Tavern for a quick cider. It was the we realized we actually had a while to wait before our train because we misread the schedule.

Back at Stow, we had dinner at Tallbots and then headed to The Unicorn to relax for the evening.

Walking around Stowe

Did a 6 mile walk around the area of Stowe on the Wold today.

Weather wasn’t great, but we’ve walked in worse. Saw a number of nice landscapes, hopefully some of the pictures will be nice.

Only problem was the fact that we neglected to walk much before the trip so our feet hurt when we got back.

For lunch we stopped at the Golden Ball Inn. Nice place PLUS the had wifi available. The only gave us a half hour free, but that was enough to download mail to our iPhones and send my last blog post.

Tomorrow were going to Oxford for the day. I’m not sure what the weather is going to be like though.

Off to Stowe

Were on the next leg if our journey. Currently on the train to Morton on Marsh … Where we’ll take a cab to Stowe in the Wold.

We’ve been there before and enjoyed it greatly. We’ll be doing some hikes, and day trips via train to Oxford.

London was enjoyable, although we didn’t have enough time (as usual). Spent some time at the national gallery and the horse guards area. We tried to get to greenwich again, but got delayed and arrived after they closed the entry.

We did connect up with Ginny’s friend Jette for dinner. We had a very nice sushi dinner and chatted fir quite a while.

The hotel we stated at was marginal, but clean. The room was a glorified closet. The had Internet availble, but it cost £9.99 / day. Not great, but less than some. They apparently were having problems, because we only got billed for one day.

Because we don’t have cell phones here, I tried Skype to make outgoing calls for the first time. After one wasted call to Jette, I figured out how to configure my microphone, we were able to make the call. It was a lot cheaper than getting a cell phone for the two weeks or paying the hotel phone rates.

Today we’ll probably explore Stowe and figure out what to do tomorrow.

The train just left Oxfird and the countryside is beautiful although it’s kind of hazy and overcast.

Top of the morning, Chaps

Well, we’re off on another adventure.

This time to the UK and Ireland.

Had to wake up ugly early. But managed to get out of the house on time.

Mike, our taxi driver from American Taxi, was great. Even checked the status of our flight when I couldn’t get online with my phone. I got his card for the return trip. He said to text him with flight info and he would be there.

Check in was uneventful. TSA guy was WAY to chesrful. Someone needs to check his coffee.

Right now were waiting at the gate, hoping for an upgrade to business class. Ginny checked availability yesterday and it looked good.

Before we left, I pointed the webcam at Riley’s food, so we can check up on him.

Found out that boingo now offers 15 minutes free wifi access if you watch a 15 second ad. The ad, however, does not play on the iPhone. I’m not complaining.

Now all there is to do is wait for the flight to board.

Excel is Stupid!

Did you know that Excel could give you different calculated values based on what the default language for your PC is?

I’m working on a translation project … and the translation company gave us a excel spread sheet with a list of screen fields that need to be expanded.

This spread sheet uses the LENB function to calculate the length of the text that needs fit on the screen … and uses that calculated length to indicate how much the field needs to be expanded.

LENB is (supposed to be) aware of double byte & single byte character sets … unfortunately, it’s only aware of double byte characters when Japanese is the default language on your PC.

So, if Japanese IS the default language on your PC, and a character is double byte … it will return 2 as the length of the character. However, if Japanese is NOT the default language on your PC … it will return 1 as the length of a character.

There’s no warning about this potential discrepancy when you load the spread sheet … the only way I was able to find this out was to dig through the documentation.

As a result of this, I just spent a week and a half working on expanding fields … and it turns out that the size I expanded the fields to was incorrect … so those have to be redone … and the entries in the spread sheet that were less than 1 actually DO need to be expanded.

LENB is a totally brain dead and stupid function … there is NO situation where a calculation such as that should be effected by what the default language of the PC is.   It should return the same value regardless of what machine it’s run on.

Turns out there are a bunch of functions that behave this way … FINDB, MIDB, LEFTB, MIDB, REPLACEB, RIGHTB, and SEARCHB.

A friend suggested that OpenOffice might be better … but, at least as far as I can see, OO doesn’t have functionality that’s aware of double byte characters.


Ginny and I decided to get a new furnace & air conditioner this year … with the price of natural gas going up, we figured it would probably make sense to get a more efficient furnace … and our A/C has always been kind of wimpy.

As I always try to do, I got at least 3 quotes … in this case, four.

Three were for independent HVAC contractors … the remaining one was from Sears Home ImProvement (SHIP).

Three of the quotes were pretty close … one of the independent quotes was about half what the others quoted.

We decided to get a 80% efficient, two stage, variable speed, system by Carrier. We could have gone with the +90% efficient system, but I think the time to recoup the extra cost would take too long. The variable speed aspect was the only iffy bit … we were told by all the contractors that, because our house lacked adequate air returns, the variable speed fan would not be as efficient as it could be (it will still save us money, just not as much).

We ended up going with Sears … mainly because they were also willing to run the duct work necessary to add returns in the three upstairs bedrooms. None of the other contractors offered that. Well, there was a good reason they didn’t offer that.   The estimator from Sears (Ron) said it would cost an additional $2000 for the duct work.

Continue reading