Tomorrow is the big day

General, running 5 Comments

For those of you who have been keeping an eye out for me in A Coruna this week I’m sorry to be letting you down. Instead of Galicia, I will be in the Alps this weekend, finally running the race I have spent the last 4 months preparing for: the 6000D.

I have written a post about my final preparations, and a fundraising update (I’m running the race in aid of Muscular Dystrophy Ireland, a group near and dear to my heart) over at “Run for MDI”. It’s not too late to make a donation, if you’d like to. Thanks to the support of friends, family and colleagues, we have raised over €1600 so far!

I am sorry to be missing you all – but if anyone wants to follow along tomorrow and check on my progress, you can track me live during the race.

Table Quiz, in aid of MDI, Wednesday 11 July

General, home, running 1 Comment

Fancy yourself as a smartypants who knows everything there is to know about everything? Could you name all the cities who have had two or more soccer teams win a European club tournament? Or name the artist and song that kept “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” off the number one spot in the UK in 1967? Can you name the flower found on the Hong Kong flag? Will you be in Lyon on July 11th?

I’m organising a table quiz next week, Wednesday 11 July, to raise funds for Muscular dystrophy Ireland in advance of running the 6000D in three weeks time (eek!). So far, mostly because of my injury, work and training commitments, fundraising has been slow – but with the race approaching we’re heading full steam ahead, and I’m once again asking for your support and donations.

For those of you who are not in Lyon next week, you are cordially invited to Johnny’s Kitchen, 48 rue Saint Georges, in Vieux Lyon, for a quiz in aid of this cause. There will be a raffle on the night, and the owner is donating €1 for any drinks sold to quiz attendees. Doors open at 8pm, and we’ll kick off the quiz around 8.30. Entry is €3 per person, and all proceed go directly to MDI.

For those of you who can’t be there next week, you can also donate online! We’ve collected almost €700 to date, and I’m hoping to reach €1500 by the time of the race.

Thanks everyone for your support!

Running 60km for charity

General, running 3 Comments
Map of the 6000D

Map of the 6000D

This Summer, on July 28th, I’ll be running a 60km mountain trail race in La Plagne in the Alps, the 6000D. And to provide myself with an added incentive, and to give back something to an organisation that has helped my family in the past, I will be raising money for Muscular Dystrophy Ireland in the process.

I’ve got a blog (in both English and French) specifically for the event to cover my training and fundraising activities, and to give people more information about muscular dystrophy and MDI. I’ve posted a first blog post detailing how I got involved in this as well as some information on muscular dystrophy, MDI and the 600D race up there. I have set an ambitious funding goal of €3000 – and you can follow along and donate on right now!

In the coming months, I hope that all my friends and family will help me raise money and donate to this great cause. I’ll periodically post updates here, but primarily I’ll be keeping people up to date on the Run for MDI blog and the 6000dForMdi twitter feed. Yu can also subscribe to a newsletter if you don’t want to visit the site regularly – I’ll send out occasional email updates with what’s been going on.

Please help spread the word, and consider donating to help this great cause!

Line-up pour Ignite Lyon finalisé

community, francais, freesoftware, home, humour, marketing, running, work Comments Off on Line-up pour Ignite Lyon finalisé

Je viens de finaliser aujourd’hui les présentateurs pour l’inauguration de Ignite Lyon. Les sujets sont assez diverses, du vache à lait à l’informatique bio en passant par la course à pied et l’art libre. Pour ceux qui sont plus du tendance entrepreneur, nous avons également des présentations sur la démarche commerciale ou créer sa première boîte jeune.

Voici la liste des présentateurs pour ce premier Ignite Lyon en order alphabétique, sauf modifications de dernier minute:

Avec une salle qui prendrai autour de 100 personnes, les places risquent d’être chères, même si l’entrée est libre!

Je vous suggére vivement d’être à votre place dans la salle D101 de l’Université Lyon 2, Quai Claude Bernard, à l’ouverture des portes à 18h30 jeudi prochain le 4. Les festivités commenceront vers 19h, jusqu’à 20h30 à peu près, avec une pause pipi au millieu.

Vous pouvez également vous inscrire pour manger un bout après l’événement au Chevreuil, ou nous allons nous retrouver quor quelques boissons raffraichissantes à partir de 20h30.

Vous pouvez trouver plus d’informations sur le site Ignite Lyon. A la semaine prochaine!

2009 blog links collection

community, freesoftware, gnome, maemo, marketing, running, work Comments Off on 2009 blog links collection

Looking back on 2009, I wrote quite a bit on here which I would like to keep and reference for the future.

This is a collection of my blog entries which gave, in my opinion, the most food for thought this year.

Free software business practice

Community dynamics and governance

Software licensing & other legal issues

Other general stuff

Happy Christmas everyone, and have a great 2010.

Garmin Forerunner 405 ANT+ protocol

freesoftware, General, running 1 Comment

Anyone anywhere know anyone working for Garmin who might be able to put me in touch with someone who can tell me what the ANT+ communication protocol is, so that I can give it to the good people developing gant, so that they can fix their driver to not crash in the middle of a transfer please? It seems to break for me for any transfer with more than one track.

I can see absolutely no competitive reason to keep the protocol private, it’s almost completely reverse engineered already, and this would cost Garmin essentially nothing, and allow us poor Linux users a way to get our tracks off our watches. The problem is there’s an inertia in keeping this stuff private. It’s hard to get the person with the knowledge (the engineer) and the person with signing power to publish the protocol (a VP probably) in the same place with the person who wants the information (little ol’ me) – it can take hours of justifications & emails & meetings… Can anyone help short-curcuit the problem by helping me get the name of the engineer & the manager involved?


Run a marathon… check!

running 12 Comments

Yesterday, on my second serious attempt (previously I injured myself 4 weeks before the race) I finally ran a marathon in Geneva, Switzerland.

Since getting injured in 2007, I’ve taken up running fairly seriously, joined a club, and this time round I was fairly conscientious about my training, getting in most of my long runs, speed work & pace runs as planned. I thought I was prepared, but I don’t think anything can prepare you for actually running 42.195 kilometers at race pace. Athletes will tell you that the marathon is one of the hardest events out there because it’s not just a long-distance race, it’s also a race where you have to run fast all the time. But until you’ve done it, it’s hard to appreciate what they mean.

This year, the club chose the Geneva marathon as a club outing, and around 40 club members signed up for either the marathon or the half-marathon on the banks of Lac Leman, and I couldn’t resist signing up for the marathon.

I wasn’t in perfect health, since I’ve been feeling some twinges in my right hip & hamstring for the past couple of weeks, but during taper before the race I’ve been taking it very easy, and I felt pretty good the day before. With the club we met up on Saturday 9th after lunch, and drove to Geneva to get our race numbers, and then to the hotel in Annemasse for a “special marathon runner’s” dinner (which had a little too much lardons, vinaigrette & buttery sauce to be called a true marathon runner meal), last minute preparations for the big day, and a good night’s rest.

Up early, light breakfast, back into Geneva for the race. Arrived at 7am, lots of marathon runners around, and the excitement levels are starting to climb. After the usual formalities (vaseline under armpits and between thighs, taped nipples, visit to toilet) we made our way to the starting line for the 8am start.

Nice pace from the start – a little fast, even, but by the 3rd kilometer I’d settled into my race pace, at around 4’40 per kilometer (aiming for 3h20 with a couple of minutes margin). Walked across every water station to get two or three good mouthfuls of water and banana without upsetting my tummy. Around kilometer 7, I started to feel a little twinge in the hamstring and piriformis/pyramidal muscle, and I felt like I might be in for a long day. It didn’t start affecting me for a while, but by kilometer 16, I was starting to feel muscles seize up in my hip in reaction to the pain.

First half completed on schedule, 1h38’55, and I was feeling pretty good. Not long afterwards, every step was getting painful. Around kilometer 26, I decided (or was my body deciding for me?) to ease off on the pace a little and I started running kilometers at 4’50 to 5′.

They talk about the wall, but you don’t know what they mean until you hit it. Around kilometer 32, I found out. At first, I welcomed the feeling of heavy legs – it drowned out the pain from my hip, and here was a familiar sensation I thought I could manage. But as the kilometers wore on, and my pace dropped, I was having a harder and harder time putting one foot in front of the other. Starting again after walking across a water stop at kilometers 33 and 38 was hard –  it was pure will that got me going again. My pace was slipping – from 5′ to 5’30 – one kilometer I ran in 6′. It looked like I was barely going to finish in 3’30, if I made it to the end at all.

Then a club-mate who was on a slower pace caught up to me, tapped me on the shoulder, and said “Hang on to me, we’ll finish together” (“accroche toi, on termine ensemble”). A life-saver. Manna from heaven. I picked up speed to match him – if only for 100m. After that, I said to myself, I’ll try to keep this up for another kilometer. When we passed the marker for 40k, I said I’d make it to 41 with him, and let him off for the last straight. And when we got to the final straight, I summoned up everything I had left to go for the last 1200m.

In the end, I covered those last 3200m in an average of 4’35 per kilometer – which just went to teach me that those 5km when I was feeling sorry for myself were more mental blockage than anything else, and I was able to overcome my body screaming out at me to stop.

The record will show that I ran 3h26’33 for my first marathon, but that doesn’t come close to telling the story.

Afterwards, I got a massage, drank a lot of water, ate some banana, and, feeling emptied & drained, a wave of emotion overcame me when I realised what I’d done.

Congratulations to the other first-time marathon runners who ran with me yesterday, and thank you Paco, I’ll never forget that you got me to the end of my first marathon.

Update: The marathon organisers had a video camera recording everyone’s arrival during the race. I discovered this afterwards, otherwise I might have been slightly more restrained after crossing the line.

You can see me arriving here, and Paco, who arrived a few seconds after me, here – for the extended sound-track.

Suggestions for running in San Francisco

running, work 5 Comments

I’ll be in San Francisco later this month, from March 22nd until the 29th, for OSBC, and I’ll be looking to get in a few training runs to get ready for a marathon I hope to run in May while I’m there.

I am staying in a hotel on Market Street, near the Civic Center, and I have a few runs in the training plan for that period:

  • A 28km long run on the 22nd (which I’ll probably be doing to stay awake early evening to get over jet lag)
  • A 16km run on Tuesday – 5km warm-up plus 2x4500m marathon pace, plus a few kms warm-down – it’d be nice to have a known distance around 3 miles for this one
  • Some speed work (500m splits) on Thursday that I’ll probably skip or swap out for an early morning jog
  • Another 28km long run on Saturday 28th, before flying out on the 29th.

Does anyone have any suggestions for good places to run? I would like to run around Crissy Field and across the Golden Gate bridge while there, if possible, and I notice there are some nice looking hills the other side of it in the Golden Gate park.

Anyone want to join me for one or more of the runs? I’m arriving early and leaving late so I’ll be all on my lonesome for a few days if anyone feels like going for a 2.5h jog together on weekend and show off the city for me. Drop me a line, we’ll work something out.

Update: Another idea which looks like it’d be great, having looked at a map of Marin County, would be to rent a bike for the day and go for a 3 or 4 hour ride. Anyone game?


running 2 Comments

Improved on my 10K personal best today. Happy, but not delighted. 38:59 would have looked so much better. Especially disappointed to have been under 3:50 for 4 kms, and over 4:00 for 4 others (not consecutive). Regular is better.

Also, I couldn’t resist having a couple of beers yesterday to celebrate Ireland unconvincingly beating England (and I never thought I’d see the day I got to say that) yesterday in Croke Park, 14-13. That probably played a role too.

Busy December…

community, freesoftware, General, gnome, guadec, home, marketing, running 3 Comments

I’m going to have a busy busy month of December.

La Fête des Lumières

I’ve written about the Festival of Light in Lyon before, and it’s coming around again. I’m going to bring the boys into Lyon with over 1 million other people to walk around cold streets looking at light shows on some of Lyon’s best known landmarks. This year will be bigger than ever, with a €2 000 000 budget, and I have had a sneak preview of some of the installations from training runs on the riverbanks of the Rhône and in Parc de la Tête d’Or. The light shows are always interesting, sometimes a little arty, often spectacular. This year, I would like to bring everyone up to the top of Fourvière to have a view of the entire city.


First up, next week I’ll be in London to give a presentation at MAPOS (nothing to do with cartography), the Mobile Application Platforms in Open Source conference. My presentation is titled “Increasing Ecosystem Cooperation”, and will be at 15:30 on Tuesday afternoon.

I will talk about the need for companies building on free software to make mobile application platforms to work actively to develop that platform. I hope to get the message across that building on free software is not a client-supplier relationship, but is more like a research grant or R&D function.

Companies in this space are used to surveying the market, choosing the best solution, and then paying for it, so that some third party will keep improving it. The integrator model which many distributions use, of modifying the basic building blocks according to your needs, and sending changes up-stream after they have been developed, is an intermediate model, which has both positive and negative sides. But what we really need is an active co-development, with companies building on our platform investing R&D dollars into targeted co-operation across multiple companies, to address coherently a problem space (such as the needs of mobile platforms).

GNOME Foundation members are entitled to a 15% discount on registration, for those thinking of going.

Bibliothèque Municipal de Lyon

On the evening of the 12th, I will be participating with a panel including some people from Handicap International’s Centre icom which I visited a few weeks ago. I will be presenting GNOME’s accessibility capabilities to a seminar on Information Technology and Handicap both to show its power and also to advertise its freedom (philosophical and financial) compared to proprietary programs like Jaws.

Christmas run

On the 14th, I’ll be in Aix les Bains, running in the Corrida des Lumières with a bunch of my club-mates from the AAAL – since running 39’10 last month in a 10k, I’ve been hyped about running another competition. I’ve been training well, and Christmas runs are always fun with mulled wine & dinner afterwards.

GUADEC co-ordination

Along with Vincent Untz, I’ll be flying out to Las Palmas on the 15th (oh how life is hard) to meet with Alberto Ruiz (for GNOME), the Gran Canaria Cabildo (the local government), and the KDE eV board members co-ordinating the conference from their end. We’ll be testing out the cheaper hotel accommodation option for the conference (I hope there will also be a “very low budget” option like a youth hostel or a campsite), meeting with local volunteers, and resolving the major issues we need to work out before we ramp up the next phase of the organisation – gathering and scheduling conference content.


Thomas started Judo this year, and he loves it. I have stayed around after bringing him a couple of times, and the warm-up they do is certainly fun, but challenging. On the 17th of December, Thomas will be having his end-of-year competition, the first time he’ll be in a Judo competition. It’s a bit of fun, really – and yet I hope that introducing an aspect of competition into the activity doesn’t in some way ruin it for him.

Christmas skiing

As usual, Christmas will be on the 25th of December this year. Last year we were in Ireland, but this year we’re going to celebrate with just the family, and the kids will get to wake up in their own beds.  On the 27th, Anne, the kids and myself are going to go into the Alps to meet up with the rest of her family for a week. We’re hopefully going to get in some skiing, go walking in the woods, eat too much, drink too much, and be very merry indeed. It’ll be my second time celebrating the new year in the mountains, and with the cold & the snow it feels like Christmas in the films. I love it.


When Lefty wrote about trying to get a particular type of brush in Japan,the intricacy of the detail of the story made me think of Go. Go is an ancient game with a small number of simple rules, which result in a game of deep complexity and beauty, and a handicap system which allows unevenly matched players to play competitive games.

It is a game steeped in the kind of tradition that Lefty talks about – professional Go tournaments are played on goban cut from a particular type of rare wood, with white stones made from the carved and polished shells of a specific type of clam, gathered on a single beach in Japan, and the black stones being made from slate mined in a single mine. The Go board is elongated, just enough to make it appear square when you are sitting in front of it, and the size of the black and white stones are slightly different, to compensate the visual impression of white stones appearing larger.

I’m back playing regularly (mostly, unfortunately, with GNU Go, who is more than a match for me on bigger boards) and have taught Thomas the basics. He’s caught on surprisingly rapidly – he’s up to the stage where he can beat me in a 9×9 game with 4 stones. Go is a very intuitive, rather than analytical, game, and some of the key concepts like influence, “good shape”, life and death are quite abstract, making it a game that children can “get” quicker than adults.

I’ve also found parallels between the ebb and flow of a Go game and free market economics. The core principle that the goal is not to kill your enemy, but simply to reduce his territory while protecting yours through strategically placing your stones to create influence and strength, matches closely my ideas of how markets work.

Phew! That’s a lot of “stuff”.

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