Thoughts about climbing, coding, management... maybe running... and food... possibly dating mishaps and more!

Give your climbing rope some love with a rope brush

climbing ropes

Climbing ropes are probably the most costly semi regular purchase you make as a climber. (Good) ropes are quite expensive. You spend lots of time and effort researching the best one and then lots of money picking it up. Shouldn’t you show your rope that you weren’t just interested in a one night stand and give it some love!

Comp wall stamina



Weakness! 99% of us struggle with it. There are many things that we can do to battle it. Training, techniques, mentality and agileness among them. However recently I was shocked by just how quickly one can lose their endurance.

In the past I have experienced this a little bit upon my return to England after spending Christmas at home in Northern Ireland, where I don’t climb at all. When I returned to the comp wall I was struggling with 6Cs and feeling a bit more worn out at the top but after a session or two I was back to it at almost full strength (or as full strength as I was before heading home for xmas)!

One little line completely sunk a recent first date

First date


Most people say first dates are hard but I don’t think they are! I think they’re (mostly) fun and a chance to just talk and see what happens. For me comparing the experience of the first date to actually getting a first date is night and day. If you’re on a first date it’s assumed that the other person is there as they said yes and that they actually have an interest in you. That’s a pretty great position and state of mind to be in compared to the previous step of getting the date where sometimes you have no idea if the girl or guy even knows who you are and whether they will be the person that finally laughs in your face when you ask them out for a drink!

Here’s how I view the first three stages to get on a date, including the actual date;

  1. Find someone you actually like and flirt – Love it! If it’s in a natural environment it’s great fun. One can be funny, cheeky and interesting. Basically you can show off your personality anyway you want!
  2. Approach the ‘chosen one’ and ask a simple question, most likely something akin to ‘Hey, would you like to get a drink sometime?’ Hint; replace ‘drink’ with coffee if you meet at an AA meeting! – Hate it! Pure dread fills my heart and it feels as if gravity has just been cranked to max, preventing me from even moving towards the girl! Familiar feeling anyone? :)
  3. First date – Love it! See point one…

Recently I got musing on this whole topic after having a drink with a girl and having any chance of a second date being blown out of the water by one. Little. Line.

Emotion in marketing


I value honesty above all else so let me be honest from the get go.

I pretty much suck at (implementing) design. I can visualise things in my minds eye but when it comes to actually creating it I just can’t seem to translate my idea to ‘paper’!

This was the aspect of my university degree that I struggled with most. My degree, I believe rather stupidly, tried to meld the worlds of programming and design and teach both to a significant level. In fact in addition to trying to make us all both designers and programmers also tried to incorporate video shooting & production, disc authoring, 3D modelling and industry analysis! I’d guesstimate that maybe 1% of students were able to apply themselves to a high level across all or the majority of the covered topics and that everyone else had to focus on an area they found they had a natural affinity for. I chose to focus on development. Alas I get off topic.

Though I chose to focus on programming I do really appreciate good design and marketing, creative marketing. Maybe six years working in a creative agency has rubbed off on me! That’s why I’ve been pretty impressed with the marketing for the Hunger Games franchise. The penultimate movie in the series is due to be released later this year and the marketing machine behind LionsGate and the movie have begun their assault.

As I said I’m not a designer so won’t try and blag my way and analyse these images for all their subtleties. I instead present them without comment but with an appreciation for good marketing. PS my personal favourite is district twelve followed by the snow image above.

Backup your server to AWS S3

For a while I’ve been looking into a cheaper way of backing up my server rather than having the hosting company take complete snapshots of it. Believe me it can get expensive doing it that way.

What does one think when they muse on the topic of storing lots and lots of bits cheaply and securely… I thought about Amazon and their Simple Storage Service, or S3 for short.

This service has been about for a good while now. Up to now I haven’t used it for anything more than serving some big media files from. When I started looking into the cost of backing up my entire ‘vhost’ directory to it multiple times a month it blew me away how cheap it was.

There are services out there that will offer to backup your server for you but I found them all quite expensive and even if they weren’t there is something nice about keeping your data totally within your control.

Below follows a brief outline and discussion of why and how to backup your own server directly to AWS S3.

Here’s what I’ll touch on below;

  • Servers
  • Command line program S3cmd
  • Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service (AWS S3)

Don’t put your keystore file in GDrive!

As a web developer one thing I like about my job is that I can instantly update code whenever I need and that basic enough backup methods for our resources mostly does (site files and DBs to an Amazon S3 account). Rarely do I have a file that if I lost or if I only have a slightly older version of that I would be screwed.

Recently I was wrapping up another mobile app and started getting paranoid about losing access to my Google play keystore file. For the unaware the keystore file is a file that a developer signs his applications with to prove they are authentic. The problem is if a developer loses this file then they cannot update any of the apps already in the app store. They would have to create a new file and release any updates as new apps!

So with me getting worried about losing the file (even though I have continuous online backups of my machine) I had the bright idea of simply moving it to our Google Apps Drive folder and therefore it would be synced up to our Google Drive as a backup to the already present backups. However when I came to have to push a point update to the app I tried signing it with the keystore file only to be told after uploading to Google Play that it wasn’t validly signed!

What happened is that Google overwrote the most up to date version of the file on my machine when it was syncing it with the server. No doubt you can imagine when I figured this out that I had a very bad feeling in my stomach. I pictured having to go to clients to let them know that we can’t update their apps anymore! However I was saved as Google drive as a previous versions feature which let you go back in time and revert to older versions.

After a lot of panicking I had the correct keystore file versions again and I immediately stored it out of my Google Drive folder.

So a word of warning in case you too have a bright idea for your keystore file dear reader. Keep it out of your Google Drive (and most likely other syncing services) folder. However do make sure that it is backed up!

Database backup to S3 class

I recently wanted a quick and easy way to dump all my databases to an S3 instance so created a class to do so. It’s public on Bitbucket so feel free to help out and improve it or just use as is. Just fire up terminal and use the below line to clone the repo and if you do have any improvements to it feel free to send me a pull request.

When I have time I do intend to write up a little walk through and post it here. I’ll update this post when I do.


Source order of jQuery Mobile – don’t overlook it

I normally don’t like doing stupidly short posts but I feel a need to publish the stupidity of my oversight on this one. It didn’t take long to spot it but still…

I’ve recently been converting a mobile app to be web based and had been noticing a few unexplainable problems with it such as the back functionality being inconsistent and clicks not registering half the time. That was before I noticed that at some point I had moved the source order of my script links in the head of my document.

So I just wanted to highlight for anyone else out there that has had a lapse of sense that this is how it should be:


Blood, sweat and screams of a project

The thing about climbing that I love and keeps me going back 3 times a week is that once one hits their natural level the real work of progress begins.  I’ve been climbing for about two and a half years. I quickly hit my limit top roping and moved onto leading. After hitting my natural limit of about 6b/6b+ I started really trying to work toward my goal of a 7a on the overhanging comp wall at my local wall (Craggy Island).

For months now (probably about 6) I’ve been climbing harder, thinking about the routes better, polishing my technique, thinking about where to rest a little if possible, working endurance. With the latest routes going up on the comp wall at Craggy about one and a half months ago I started working a red 7a. It consisted of a pretty solid first half that wasn’t anything special but did it’s job of tiring you a bit before hitting you with quite a technical top half.

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