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My Roller Derby Versary

October 4th, 2014

It is the beginning of October. One year and two weeks ago I started skating for the first time many many years. I attended my league’s free skate called “Wednesday Skate” because it’s on a Wednesday! On that first day I was wobbly and unfit. I had to use the building furniture to help me get up on to my skates. After three laps I needed a rest. In the WFTDA minimum skills there is a requirement to skate 27 laps in 5 minutes. I couldn’t skate for five minutes period over the next four weeks I got a little bit better. One year ago less two weeks I started with Leeds Roller Dolls’ recreational league.

The first few months were slow progress. For my first ever 27 laps in 5 minutes I managed 11 laps but I did skate for a whole 5 minutes. Gradually I got a little better. One thing that did come relatively quickly was my basic agility. At the beginning of February I took my first WFTDA minimum skills test. I failed almost everything but to my surprised did pass a few things. Laterals (weaving from one side of the track to the other) and glides (travelling around half the track on one foot) were two of them.

It was around this time I was brave and bought a ticket to pre-minimum skills boot camp in Sheffield. It was a five hour bootcamp. I really wasn’t sure if I would survive five hours but I did. The trainers also assessed us and considered most of us good enough to scrimmage (play a roller derby game). I even jammed.

My first scrim

Dizzy Dreams Photography

Also at the beginning of the year I decided I would try and learn to run. I started couch to 5K which is a training plan to get you from a non running to running 5Km within 10 weeks. I have to say I still can’t run the full 5Km non stop but I can run, walk, run, walk my way around.

In June my own league, Leeds Roller Dolls, ran a pre-minimum skills boot camp itself so I had to go. This one was six hours long. Again I thought I was going to die but I survived again. And again at the end there was a scrimmage. Again I jammed. Again I wasn’t very good at it.

LRD pre-mins boot camp

http://www.roller-derby-on-film.co.uk

Its interesting to see photos of me over the last year. As you can see I’m slimmer in the second photo compared to the first. When I started derby I was a size 26/28. I am now a 20/22. I am also a lot lot fitter.

At the start of the year I set the following goals:

  • Lose 4 stone (56lbs / 25kg)
  • Run 5Km in under 50 mins by June 30
  • Run 10Km (in any time) by Dec 31
  • Pass minimum skills

So how am I doing?

Weight loss

Well the weight loss is going slower than I would like but this is partly because I am building so much muscle. However I have lost 10kg which is almost 2 stone. So I’m starting to get there.

Run 5K in under 50 mins by June 30

I smashed this. On June 14 I ran the Race for Life for Cancer Research. It is a 5K walk, jog or run. Due to bad planning on my part I ran this a day after the six hour roller derby boot camp. Despite that I still managed it in 44 minutes. That’s 6 minutes under my target.

Run 10K by the end of the year

If I’m going to do this I need to start running again. My current problem is fitting everything in. I need rest days. I could probably walk it without a problem so I need to just get on and do it.

Pass minimum skills

I don’t think I will achieve this because I’m still not fast enough and I have a fear of jumping. My personal best is 24 laps in 5 minutes and some skills need the 27 in 5 speed. However I there’s still a couple of months to go and I have achieved a lot in the last year. However in the middle of the year the training for Rec. League changed and a two stage system was introduced together with ‘Brawls’ or safety minimum skills. If you pass them all you can scrimmage within Rec. League. The minimum skills are based on a subset of WFTDA minimum skills with speed requirements removed. The include skills like:

  • T-stops and plough stops
  • Transitions
  • Knee taps
  • Glides
  • Pack work
  • Whips
  • Blocking

I passed!

At the end of November / beginning of December I will be assessed on my WFTDA minimum skills again. As I’ve said I don’t think I’ll pass everything but I do expect to pass quite a few skills. My aim, however, is to pass them all by the middle of next year. I think this is achievable!

Wuthering Bytes 2014 Talk – SPI and I2C

August 19th, 2014

SPIandI2CTitle

Here are the slides to the SPI and I2C talk I gave at Wuthering Bytes 2014 at Hebden Bridge, here in the UK.

http://www.cyberspice.org.uk/downloads/SPIandI2C.pdf

WutheringBytes 2014 Talk – Linux Bootloaders and Kernel Config

August 16th, 2014

BootingLoadersTitle

Here are the slides to the Loaders talk I gave at Wuthering Bytes 2014 at Hebden Bridge, here in the UK.

http://www.cyberspice.org.uk/downloads/BootingLoaders.pdf

Becoming a Roller Derby addict

March 11th, 2014

This post was going to be about my 2013 however really all it can be is about one thing that started in 2013 and seems to have taken over my life. I never have been a sporty person and I have been over weight for a lot of my life. I have, however, always loved skating. I used to skate as a kid and as a teenager. I’ve roller skated, ice skated and skateboarded however I haven’t done any of them for a long while. In September I started skating again and a month later joined Leeds Roller Dolls. Now I’m completely addicted and working really hard to lose weight, get fit, and become the best skater I can be at my age.

What is Roller Derby you say. Here are the rules!

I’ve always been a skater although taken long rests. I learnt to roller skate as a child, then ice skated, then as a teenager went to roller discos and skate boarded, then at University went to the ice rink to skate, but as an adult I skated infrequently. The a few years ago I heard about Leeds Roller Dolls (“LRD”) and joined their Rag Dolls which was their Freshmeat class. The idea was that it was a crash course teaching you the basics before you join the main league. The problem was I was too fat and too unfit to keep up. I became despondent and gave up.

Then last year I decided to try again. I started walking to get a bit fitter. Also I searched online for somewhere I could skate without pressure and I found that LRD had an open skate night, “Wednesday Skate”, which anyone could go to and do as little or much skating as required. I was dreadful when I first went and could just about manage 3 laps before needing a rest. But gradually I remembered what I’d forgotten. After a month I was encouraged to join Wrecking Brawls.

Wrecking Brawls is LRDs recreational league. Since my last attempt at Roller Derby LRD had become a member league of WFTDA, the World Flat Track Derby Association. Basically they are the association that manages flat track Roller Derby and defines the rules. Part of their requirements is that you cannot play or scrimmage until you have passed a set of minimum basic skills (“mins”). Over the years these have got harder and the Rag Dolls concept just doesn’t work any more. So the recreational league allows skaters to learn the skills at their own rate without pressure and women can either stay with that league or once they become sufficiently skilled try out for the main league and potentially join the travel teams.

Wrecking Brawls are a great bunch of girls. The following photo was taken to show our support of diversity in sport!

Wrecking Brawls

LRD follows the tradition of “By the skater, for the skater”. The skaters run the league. Bouts do not happen without the referees, the non skating officials and other helpers all of whom are volunteers and many are members of the league themselves. So in addition to the skating I am now on a couple of committees and I am an NSO. This takes more time up. Some weeks I can be doing Derby related activity four days a week. My poor partner is becoming a Derby Widow although I am trying to manage that.

But Roller Derby is an addiction. I do want to become a good skater. This means I need to lose a lot weight. I need to get fitter. And I need to learn my skills. Just skating isn’t good enough you have to cross train. So I’m trying to learn to run. I also spend some Saturdays training in the mud in a local park. I lay in the mud. I squat in the mud. I burpee in the mud. I get tired. I hurt. And I get muddy!

I have set myself the following goals for this year:

  • Lose 4 stone (56lbs / 25kg)
  • Run 5Km in under 50 mins by June 30
  • Run 10Km (in any time) by Dec 31
  • Pass minimum skills

Whether I achieve them we shall see. I will blog my progress here.

Finally I will leave you with my league’s promotional video for 2014. I think its awesome!

What not do to in customer service

October 2nd, 2013

So I upgraded my iPad to iOS7 and had a hick up. It reset my iTunes library. When I tried to restore some of the content by re downloading it some was missing. This isn’t the issue. The issue is what happened when I queried this with Apple…
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Wuthering Bytes 2013 Talk – A Basic Introduction to Interfacing for the Hardware Curious

September 14th, 2013

Hardware_Curious

Here are the slides to the talk I gave at Wuthering Bytes 2013 at Hebden Bridge, here in the UK.

http://www.cyberspice.org.uk/downloads/HardwareCurious.pdf

Apple bluetooth keyboard and iPad

December 29th, 2012

For Christmas my partner bought me an Apple bluetooth keyboard to go with my iPad Mini together with my other Apple devices (I am such a fan-girl). Since then I’ve been playing with it and finding out just how much I can control with it.

iPad Mini and Apple Bluetooth keyboard

iPad Mini and Apple Bluetooth keyboard


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Changing the IP address for OS X’s shared network

September 26th, 2012

When I’m developing software on small and embedded devices I tend to network them by using a CAT-6 cable between a network port on my Mac and the device and enable Internet Sharing via System Preferences. Unfortunately OS X always selects 192.168.2.0 as the network address and this may class with other networks on your network. Recently I found out how to change this. Read the rest of this entry »

OSH Camp 2012 – Flickr Group

September 20th, 2012

There is a Flickr group for the Open Source Hardware User Group (OSHUG) and photos from this years camp have been uploaded to it. The photos below are courtesy of Carrier Detect. The group can be found at http://www.flickr.com/groups/oshug/pool/.


Me speaking


Hippiegunnut interfacing to her Pi

OSHCamp 2012 Talk – Developing Linux on Embedded Devices Slides

September 15th, 2012

Here are the slides to the talk I gave at Open Source Hardware Camp 2012 here in the UK.

http://www.cyberspice.org.uk/downloads/EmbeddedLinux.pdf