Snowy Snowdon

April 19th, 2018

As we were half-way up the country, we headed on to North Wales for the rest of the Easter week. We were staying in YHA Llanberis. The forecast for the week wasn’t great and we stayed low for the first day, re-visiting the National Slate Museum and taking a walk around the quarries, dressed head-to-toe in waterproofs.

The forecast for the next day also wasn’t great but it dawned bright so we persuaded the children to walk from the hostel up Moel Eilio. Christine’s parents arrived that day and chased us up the mountain. Unfortunately, they caught us on the final ascent, just as the clouds came over and any views were completely obscured. At least the rain wasn’t too persistent.

Thursday had the best outlook for the week and we weren’t alone in targetting that day for an ascent of Snowdon. We took the bus up to Pen-y-Pass and walked the Miners Track as we did last time. The previous night’s rain had fallen as snow on the tops and we were treated to blue skies and some fantastic mountain scenery (more photos on Flickr). We were warned that a ranger was turning people back. We eventually met him about 50m short of the ridge where he was advising the use of crampons and ice axes for the final crossing of an icy slope. We pressed on (it really wasn’t that bad) but decided that we would return via the Llanberis path as it would be less fun on the return. Still no cafe open but at least there were views to be had from the top this time.

Friday was our final full day and we headed to Caernarfon where Gerry and Christine took the children climbing in the massive Beacon Climbing Centre. Sue headed into town and I made use of the not particularly exciting but flat National Cycle Route 8 for my long training run to Bangor and back. As a pleasant end to the week, we met up with my cousin and family in Colwyn Bay who Christine hasn’t seen since our wedding!

West Midlands JK

April 18th, 2018

As is often the case, our Easter involved orienteering at the JK but, for the first time, both the children were entered. We headed up on Friday to the Sprint event at MOD Stafford. As with all days, the children had timed starts and we had open starts which were very convenient. Duncan flew round his course but Emma disappeared. I guess we’d failed to explain to her that she needed to make sure that she was on the right side of a feature: something that you don’t experience on your average orange course. She’d wandered off for 20 minutes before returning to the other side of the wall!

We were staying in Lichfield which seems like a pleasant enough town: the cathedral is certainly impressive and there was a good selection of places to eat out even taking into account the children’s (ok, Emma’s) preferences. I had a particularly bad run at the medium event: I just shouldn’t be allowed out with contours. The rest of the family did better with Emma first on W12B, Duncan second on M10B and Christine fifth. We decamped to the nearby Cannock Chase Go Ape afterwards where the children enjoyed racing around with their second cousins.

It was always a bad sign when cars were being towed into the car park field on Sunday. The course was no less muddy but at least it had some longer legs and I scraped a top ten. The children repeated their positions from Saturday and Christine moved up to fourth. These were also their overall positions. We stayed around for the prize giving but it turned out there were no prizes for B-courses: so much for encouraging juniors! At least it meant we could take a more direct line to escape the now largely empty car park field unaided.

The relays were back at Beaudesert only now with the addition of an overnight dusting of snow. Thankfully the car park field had been abandoned but the assembly area was a complete mud bath. Despite running alone, I must have still visited every other gaffle on my course (and wandered into an out-of-bounds marsh by mistake!) Emma was running but not Duncan. She went out in the mini-mass start which meant that Christine was back in time to shadow her round. Just as well given that the course took in tracks that had only been created by the previous day’s event!

Snow and Sea

March 5th, 2018

The end of last week the UK was in the grip of Storm Emma and the Beast from the East. Needless to say, things were a little more sedate in our sheltered corner of the country but come Thursday some of the promised snow did eventually arrive and the children got two days off school as a consequence. The snow wasn’t the right consistency for building with but many hours were whiled away sledging (also somewhat of a tame affair given the lack of open hillsides in our immediate vicinity). I wasn’t much fun as my back had given way on Wednesday and was barely up to bending down to pick up a snowball let alone pulling sledges.

The snow didn’t last for long and things started to thaw out on Saturday with some rain to help things on their way. We fancied something a bit different come Sunday and headed over to Milford on Sea. There was still a lot of snow in evidence as we drove through the forest but it was hard to find down on the coast. We had a bracing walk along the spit to Hurst Castle, dodging the waves (some, more successfully than others!). There were even blue skies as we headed back for afternoon tea.

Just to stretch the already long weekend, the children had an Inset day today. We settled for a bike ride to the Chilworth Arms for lunch. Needless to say, my back is now sufficiently recovered for a return to work tomorrow although there’s going to be a bit of a hole in my marathon training plan.

Index Developer Conference

February 25th, 2018

IBM launched a new conference in San Francisco under the name Index and I was lucky enough to attend. This wasn’t your usual IBM conference focused on brands and products. Although the tracks were aligned with IBM’s strategic areas (Cloud, Blockchain and AI talks were much in evidence, for example) it really was a developer conference with keynotes and speakers from well-renowned figures across the industry.

You can watch my session covering deploying Jenkins on Kubernetes with Helm and deploying to Kubernetes from Jenkins with Helm below. You can find the deck on SlideShare and the demo material on GitHub. For those who know what I work on, it will be no surprise that this is based on our discoveries when developing Microservice Builder. I highly recommend you also check out some of the other sessions on the conference playlist and watch out for Index 2019!

The timing of the conference meant I had Friday to be a tourist with some colleagues. We headed over to SF MoMA and then made the most of the sunshine with a stroll along the waterfront to see the sea lions and then to have to have lunch overlooking the bay.

Half Term Action

February 20th, 2018

Although we had no particular plans, I had the whole of the February half term off work. We went over to Wales for the first few days. I had a lovely long run in the Forest of Dean on Sunday whilst the others went around the sculpture trail. Christine drew the short straw as she got to run back to Monmouth just as the Arctic conditions arrived.

The next day we had to shovel the snow off the driveway before heading over to Llangorse Activity Centre. Christine wanted to cement the skills she’d learnt on her rope handling course whilst her Dad was around. Sue and I went for a short walk up a snowy hill!

Unfortunately, the weather deteriorated again as we headed back to Southampton. Not surprisingly, therefore, we weren’t the only ones to have the idea of going to the Winchester Science Centre and it was Thursday before I could actually book a ticket. By this time we had blue skies but it made a nice change to actually be able to sit outside and eat our lunch. The children enjoyed the special ‘Secret World of Gases’ show even if only for the loud bangs. I was less sure about the ‘We Are Aliens!‘ film in the planetarium but you could always just lie back and close your eyes… The same was true of our rather belated trip to see Paddington 2 the following day!

Christine took up the reigns again at the weekend with a trip to Mottisfont. I only made it as far as the car park, running back home instead.

Marathon training begins

January 14th, 2018

I finally cashed in my prize from the Hursley 10K for an entry in the ABP Southampton Marathon on 22 April. The entry may come free but sadly the training does not! This week I embarked on a training plan. My starting point is one from the London Marathon site. For me, it primarily means running one more day a week than I typically average and mixing things up a little with intervals and, of course, ever longer runs. On the few occasions in the past where I’ve followed a training plan, I’ve quite enjoyed the variety as, left to my own devices, I’m prone to just churning out the same old runs at the same pace.

Sticking to the plan is unlikely to plain sailing. There was already some flexibility needed this week with visiting colleagues disrupting my normal lunchtime routine. There are already a couple of overseas trips in the calendar for the coming months and the weekend of what is supposed to be my longest run, I’ll be racing four days at the JK! Sadly I’m also not entirely injury free, with a long-term problem with my left hamstring and my right knee never having quite recovered from the jar it took in the long grass at the Caddihoe Chase. Stretching and strength training therefore also form part of the plan and they’re probably the part that I’ll find hardest to keep going!

All of this begs the question “So do you have a target time?”. That’s a tricky one. Having finished the Clarendon Marathon in 3:26 at the end of last year, aiming under 3:15 for a London Marathon good-for-age time seems like a reasonable start. Back in the dim and distant past the power of 10 claims that I completed the distance in under three hours but I’m somewhat dubious about the course measurement. That was also over 10 years ago but this will be the first time I’ve run a road marathon so should I be aiming for something a bit more ambitious? Let’s just see how the training pans out…

Kubernetes arrives in Docker for Mac

January 8th, 2018

My focus for the last 18 months having been on deployment to Kubernetes, I was excited to hear the news back at DockerCon that Docker Inc were recognising the dominance of Kubernetes. This included adding support to Docker Enterprise Edition (alongside Swarm) and to Docker for Mac/Windows. The latter has now hit beta in the edge channel of Docker for Mac and the following are my first impressions.

Having not had any particular need for the latest and greatest Docker for some time, my first step was to switch from the stable channel back to edge. That’s a pretty painless process. You do lose any of your current containers/images but you’ve got the ones you care about stored away in a registry somewhere haven’t you?! Then open up the preferences, switch to the shiny new Kubernetes tab, check the box to Enable Kubernetes and hit Apply followed by Install. As promised, it took a couple of minutes for the cluster to be created.

The UI leaves you a bit in the dark at this point but thankfully the email that arrived touting the new capability gave you a pointer as to where to go next: the install creates a kubectl context called docker-for-desktop. With this information I could access my new cluster from the command line:

Now to take the cluster for a quick spin. Let’s deploy Open Liberty via the Helm chart:

And, due to the magic of Docker for Mac networking, after a short wait we are treated to the exposed NodePort running on localhost:

Open Liberty on Kubernetes on Docker for Mac

Undoubtedly there will be issues but, at least at first glance, this support would seem to go a long way to answering those who see minikube as an inhibitor to making Kubernetes a part of the developer’s workflow.

First orienteering of 2018

January 8th, 2018

Some years seem to go by where we don’t make it to a single SCOA league event; this year there’s only been one Sunday so far and we already have one in the bag! As we pulled up at a sunny but windswept Cadnam’s Pool we certainly weren’t the only ones (there were over 90 entrants on the blue course).

Emma and Duncan zipped round the yellow and white courses respectively. (Kieran had been quite generous with the smiley faces on their courses given the difficulty of following paths buried in mountains of damp leaves.) Christine ran the blue and I tackled the brown (which if nothing else meant no queueing at the start). My legs were certainly tired from the previous day’s exertions but I suspect at least half of my eleven-minute deficit behind the winner was simply due to lack of concentration. I regularly run through the area (sometimes at night) without a map but I can’t claim that helped one iota. It was just nice being out in a lovely runnable bit of the forest though.