Sunday, 30 December 2007

Old boat, new skipper

A picture by Calum Paterson of the Provider, returning to Berneray harbour today, with its catch. This is the first time the boat has been out with the new skipper at the helm.


Calum is the brother of Ruairidh Paterson, who is the new skipper of the boat, and the son of Margaret. He is ably assisted by his deckhand James "Welly" Ross; James and Ruairidh cut their sea-teeth on the boat under the skipperage of John Angus.
It's good to see local careers take off; we hope they have many fruitful days of catch ahead.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Christmas Eve sunset and moonrise

Sunset from the top of Borve Hill, on Berneray:


...and, not long afterwards, the moon rising as reflected on Bays Loch:


Monday, 24 December 2007

The hills of Uibhist a Deas (South Uist)

Another picture from Flickr user Shuggy Spicer:


This one was taken on June 4th 2007, not far from where he took another picture featured earlier this month. The three main summits in the distance are, from left to right, Thacla, Beinn Corradail and Beinn Mhor.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

December dawn

Dawn over Berneray, the sun rising from "behind" North Uist, this morning:


Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Hills of South Uist

A picture by Flickr user Shuggy Spicer:


I've been down to South Uist several times in the last few months for work, and it's quite interesting how different it is from this part of the Outer Hebrides (remember that the Outer Hebrides is longer than most people think - end to end it's further than from Glasgow to Newcastle).

They have really tall hills there (in comparison to here). The accents are different, as are the phrases used. There is more Catholic imagery, such as statues, and various services such as shops are open for some of Sunday. Going to South Uist is (almost) like going on holiday to somewhere very distant - despite the fact that it's little more than an hour away on the bus.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Mentioned in despatches...

An article in Information World Review describes some of the Second Life research I did over the summer and autumn. Oddly, the article has also been replicated in the online version of What PC?

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Christmas Tree!

Yesterday, a quick return trip on the bus to a North Uist shop resulted in:


Yes, it's a seven foot tree, all netted up and ready to be decorated. After finding out that it's too big for the tree stand, a bucket, some bricks, soil and plenty of water are employed into service. And then the net is cut off ... boing! Thus emerges a rather large amount of branches, which take up much of one end of the living room:


Rearranging the furniture became a necessity, to avoid compromising the essentials. Such as room to play on the Nintendo Wii, and being able to see the tv to watch the DVDs I suspect I'll be getting this Christmas. Decorating the tree took little time in comparision, though due to the girth of the monster, it took two - long - strings of twinkly lights to go around it:


As per usual, anything new draws the attention of Ms Attention Seeker:


Attached to the tree is some helpful information on how to keep it alive for re-planting. So it's sucking up water every day. Also on the label is the website address of the company, needlefresh. According to them, the tree is a grade 1 Nordman Fir. But surprisingly, it's not from Norway:

"The Nordman Fir originates from the Caucus Mountains and occurs on both sides of the mountain range. Seed for Christmas tree production is therefore collected in either Turkey or Georgia. There is a preference for the Georgian seed as this is from the northern side of the mountain range and the trees naturally inhabit an area with a colder climate than those from the southern side.

This means that they are naturally later flushing in the spring and are much less likely to suffer from frost damage. The area Ambourlaui has become a favoured region for seed collection, and this seed has become the most famous region for seed to be used for the production of Christmas trees."

Turkey or Georgia? Heck, the tree is in for a bit of a shock when it gets planted in my Outer Hebrides garden in January :-)

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Voice in Second Life

Today I attended a seminar in Bristol. Though I never left Berneray in the Outer Hebrides. Yes, it was Second Life time again, with Andy from the Eduserv Foundation introducing it to real-world ILRT staff, while other people flew in to Eduserv Island to listen, participate and generally annoy the speaker.

This was the first time I used SL with voice (listening) on.


It was, at first, weird listening to people speak in SL; then doubly so as I could hear the real world audience (some of whom were ex-work colleagues). I twirled in SL, and it was cool - the sound of Andy's voice moved across the speakers as though in the real world. I went outside, flew up, fell to the ground, wandered about, and the sound faded and got stronger as you would expect. Rather impressed.

I didn't use the voice option to "speak" myself in SL; that's something maybe for another day when have seen (or rather, heard) how other people have used it.


As ever, there is a downside. One of the other delegates suddenly started blaring out very loud music; probably accidentally, as her avatar immediately ran off outside the in-world conference centre. Cue music fading into the distance. I tried the list of gestures at one point, to find that several of them seemed to have a yawning sound that drowned out the increasingly harassed-sounding speaker.

Anyway, it was a good event. Now Linden Labs needs to introduce an "aroma" plug-in, so the smell of cheese garlic bread or Scotch pies can be wafted in-world... ;-)

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Winnie and Paddington, tinned

Back from a 10 day trip to London and Finland, which included the usual array of eating and drinking experiences. Much to write about later, but speaking of food, here's something I picked up from one of the (impressive) array of shop at Helsinki Airport:


Yes, it's an assortment of bear meat. I was a bit concerned about whether I could get it back to Berneray, bearing in mind the various posters at airports with restrictions on food products that can be brought in and out. However, as Finland is in the EU, the meat is tinned, and it looks okay it seems to be fine.

We'll be trying some of these out later in the month. We can now offer visitors something a little different, namely bear pate on Hebridean oatcakes. It's quite appropriate for here, as there is a school of thought that the name "Berneray" is derived from the shape of the island resembling a bear cub. More plausible is that it is derived from the Norse for "Bjorn's island", and in Swedish/Norwegian the bear ingredient of the tins is Björnkött (bear meat).

For clarification, there are no bears on Berneray. Apart, now, from those in tins.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Test card


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