Fitness, Gadget comments edit

Although that’s a great song from Iron Maiden, the topic of this post is different. The topic is my new running gadget Garmin ForeRunner 10:

Garmin Forerunner

It is a simple and basic device but has all the functionality I need: Measure distance and time. In addition to that it comes with a software that allows you to upload your run info to Garmin Connect and you can keep track of your progress.

Once you install the software all you need to do is connect the device to your computer with the provided USB adapter and click Upload on the UI. It scans the device and uploads the new activities.

Garmin

Then you can go to Analyze –> Activities where you can analyze individual runs or you can go to your Dashboard to view your current status like your records etc.

Garmin

I’m definitely delighted with this gadget. It currently costs £84 on Amazon. Not the cheapest gadget and also there are free alternatives like RunKeeper app but it is still well worth the money. The only problem was it cannot determine the position very easily. I had a warm up walk for about 5 minutes and during this time it couldn’t pinpoint my location. Before I could start running I had to stand still for about a minute but once it finds it I didn’t have any problems during my run. Granted that I used it only one time as it came yesterday but my initial impression is that it is a great tool and very motivating for running. So highly recommended.

Heavy Metal comments edit

Finally I have seen Download Festival. Here’s my experiences:

Wristband

Arrival

The coach ride from London Victoria to festival area took around 3.5 hours. It was a very quite ride. I was lucky to get the front seat of the bus so my view was pretty good during the journey. It was generally cloudy during the trip but started to rain as soon as we arrived! First thing I noticed was it was a huge area. Even the walk from coach stop to festival area took forever (probably because I was carrying a fairly heavy luggage under the rain). First order of business is obviously setting up the tent. It took 15 minutes of walking to find an empty spot. I could only find one in the farthest camping area. So, if you are planning to go to this festival, make sure you arrive a day before the festival. When I was done with setting up my (unnecessarily complicated) tent it was 4pm already and I already missed a few bands I wanted to see like Papa Roach.

Festival

The main problem with this festival is that it is spread over a huge area and getting to the arena from camping site was taking me 30 minutes of on foot. There was supposed to be shuttle busses but I think they were not operational. Another major problem was the logistics. There weren’t enough toilets. I remember waiting 35 minutes in a toilet queue which was simply wasteful. And they weren’t even close to my camping site, I had to walk a few minutes to get to the nearest one.

Bands

Friday

OK, so after a rather disappointing start let’s get to the fun part. Immediately after I marked my territory I ran down to the arena. The first band I could catch was Philip Anselmo’s (ex-Pantera) Down. The band is certainly not among my favourite ones and they once again reminded me why they weren’t! Some songs are fine but overall I felt bored. I just miss old Pantera!

Next band I saw was Korn. I’ve been listenning them since I was 18 or something like that but this was the first time I saw their live performance. They opened up with Blind which is the first Korn song that I’ve ever listened to so it was quite a good start. I think it was a good set list and enjoyed their performance. The next band on the main stage was Bullet For My Valentine. I had no idea how they got a better spot than Korn and they meant nothing to me. But I was too tired to wander around so I just stood there and watched them. Actually I was just trying to kill time until Slipknot took the stage.

Slipknot

Then came the Slipknot! My first live experience with them and it was well worth it. They are one of the best bands around to watch live. I was lucky that a moshpit was formed where I stood so even though I was far away from the stage I could feel that I was in a real heavy metal show! They simply rocked! At one point Corey Taylor said there were 90.000 people in there which blew mind off!

Saturday

After resting during the night I was prepared for another day of heavy metal but the weather got worse. It rained almost all night and morning turning everywhere a big pile of mud. First band of the day for me was called Young Guns. They sounded like a regular rock band. Not bad but nothing special either.

At this point, I had a bag in my hand because I bought an official festival T-Shirt and I wanted to go back to my tent to leave it. When I arrived to my tent the weather was so bad I decided to take a nap in the comfort of my tent so I missed a few bands but I don’t regret it.

When I got back to festival area, it was Motorhead time! Lemmy was magnificent as always. I still don’t understand a band like Queens of the Stone Age had a better spot on the main stage. They were just pointless and boring! Anyway, time for the the headliner of the evening: Iron Maiden! I had seen them before a few times but they have so much material that they played a show that I have never seen before! This time they only played songs from Iron Maiden (1980) to Fear of the Dark (1992). The last time I watched them was at Wacken 2010 and they played only songs mostly from their post-Brave New World era so it was like seeing the old Maiden for the first time for me.

Iron Maiden

Sunday

Started with a very nice sunny weather. After a nice not-so-healthy breakfast I had my plan laid out. I was going to start the day with Hellyeah. I like this band a lot but unfortunately they had very limited time. 25 minutes wasn’t surely enough for them and it was very early in the afternoon but I still enjoyed their strong performance a lot. A good jumpstart for the day!

Headed back to the main stage to see Coal Chamber. I didn’t even know they had reunited. But it was nice to see them for the first time. They played a short set but full of their popular songs. Next band in my list was Five Finger Death Punch. They turned out to be one of my favourite bands in the whole festival. Their frontman Ivan Moody is quite chatty and friendly. I guess one of the most remarkable moments in the festival was when he called all the kids in the audience to the stage and chatted with them. I’ll definitely keep an eye on this band.

Five Finger Death Punch

Next came Amon Amarth. After a short walk to the The Zippo Encore Stage I started waiting for them. Because of some technical difficulties they were a  few minutes late which shortened their already short set. They only played 4 songs one of which is from their upcoming album. It was nice to see them as always so no complaints. I wish they had a better spot. They surely deserve it.

Amon Amarth

Back to the main stage I started watching Stone Sour but didn’t mean much to me so decided to head to bar which seemed to be a better usage of my time!

One of the bands I wanted to see from the get-go was Newsted!  Jason Newsted’s new band is a traditional heavy/trash metal band. They are about to release their debut album and they played a few songs from it which was nice. Their last song was a huge surprise for me: Whiplash! Half of the tent turned into a mosh-pit and the crowd went insane (including yours truly!). It was a good show and this band form me is another gain from this festival. Before the headliner, they placed a stupid band called Thirty Seconds From Mars. I think the name itself is pretty explanatory about the performance of the band: Meaningless! Skipped them immediately to get the last load of the festival before the closing headliner.

The last headliner of Download 2013 was Rammstein. This was my second time with them. I had so high hopes about their show but it was very much like what I’ve seen in Istanbul in 2010. So I definitely was not impressed with it.

Rammstein

Conclusion

My conclusion is that I will not attend to another Download ever again! The main reason is it’s huge and so crowded. I hate waiting in queues and here you have to wait in queues for everything. For toilets, for beer, for food! Everything! There is no place to sit, not much place even to sit on the ground. Granted there are lots of band options but also it means that some of your favourite bands are bound to overlap. Also huge festival area means you have to walk hours from camping site to arena and from one stage to another. Although it was a good exercise still nothing to enjoy in your vacation.

Heavy Metal comments edit

Last year I missed download festival and settled with Bloodstock only.This year for the first time I’ll see Download.

Download Ticket

Only 1 week is left and the wait is quite exciting. I think this year’s line-up is great as well and I’ll get to see many bands I haven’t seen before.

Tickets

Tickets for download festival are definitely not cheap! £195 Considering a Wacken ticket costs €120 and a Bloodstock £132. If it’s worth the price remains to be seen.

Equipment

This year I decided to buy a larger tent and a thicker sleeping bag as I’m going to use them in 2 festivals. I hope they endure both of them. I’ll post my experiences after the festivals as well. Here are the ones I picked:

This year I’ll buy a sunscreen but not sure about the rain boots. Maybe I should to be on the safe side but just don’t want to carry a lot of stuff around. And this year I’m not taking my camera. That bulky thing is only trouble. I will rely on my Galaxy S3 this year. After all, full concerts can be found on the internet along with a ton of photos. So it’s a not a big deal anyway.

Line-up

The three headliners are Slipknot, Iron Maiden and Rammstein. I have seen Maiden and Rammstein before Slipknot will be my first Slipknot show. Looking forward to it. There are many hard rock / nu metal bands in the line-up. Korn, Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, 3 Doors Down are some of them.

One band I noticed is Jason Nested’s band Newsted. They are about to release their debut album and it’d be nice to see Jason Newsted on the stage for the first time in my life. There are many bands to discover and some old friends(!) like Amon Amarth and Volbeat who I will definitely see.

I’ll post my impressions after the festival.

\m/

Game comments edit

I’m not much of a gamer but recently discovered this game and likes it quite a lot. Not surprising to me of course given that I like everything about The Simpsons. Actually the game is very simple and lack of challenge so if it wasn’t about The Simpsons there wouldn’t be any compelling reason for me to keep playing.

The story is Springfield explodes because of a failure in the nuclear power plant (not surprisingly caused by Homer). The game starts with Homer and Lisa trying to rebuild new Springfield. You unlock characters as you complete tasks. You build houses and collect taxes to buy more items to decorate the town. Here’s what my Springfield looks like:

Simpsons Tapped Out

Simpsons Tapped Out

I like the fact that you can just assign the tasks to the characters and after 8 or 12 hours you tapped them to collect the money and experience points (required to pass levels) they earned. So you don’t have to play it constantly.

There are lots of premium items available but I found the pricing too expensive so I’m just playing it for free. For example you can buy 300 donuts for £14 and for that amount of donuts you can only buy a few premium characters (Otto and Professor Frink for instance). I think for that money you should be able to buy everything in that game. Still I’m happy with the free Springfield I built.

Resources

Productivity comments edit

Focusing on tasks and getting them done is crucial. This simple fact is so easy to comprehend it’s a no brainer. But the reality is it’s much harder to accomplish than it sounds like. To organize my tasks I’ve been seeking methods for a long time. My favourite approach is J.D. Meier’s system which he describes in his book Getting Results the Agile Way (http://gettingresults.com). It’s freely available on this site. You can also purchase a hard-copy here.

The key of this system is choosing 3 most important tasks every day. This is very simple and easy to apply to real life. Another important aspect is 3 weekly goals. These are of course more complex tasks than the daily ones. Also an important point is reviewing the progress on Fridays. He calls this pattern Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes and Friday Reflection. This approach is very effective and realistic. The key to succeed with this system is being realistic. Know your limitations and don’t stuff your lists with everything you want to get done. It’s impossible to complete everything at once. If you pick 3 and actually get them done you feel better about yourself as the progress would be visible.

I also recommend an excellent episode of Hanselminutes which can be found here. That episode introduced me to Pomodoro technique which is a simple and effective way to boost performance and focus. The idea is dividing your tasks into small work units called Pomodoros which are 25 minutes (This is the default value. You can change it to your preference). During this 25 minutes you sever all your ties with the outside world (no email, no twitter, no nothing!) and focus on one task only. As focus-impaired people like me would know this is not very easy to do. I tried setting it an hour hoping that I’d get a big task done without any disruptions but ended up with getting lost along the way. So I believe the default value is quite realistic. After you complete the Pomodoro, you have a 5 minute break. I try to consider tasks in terms of Pomodoros. It helps me planning my daily outcomes too.

Heavy Metal comments edit

This was my second festival experience after Wacken ‘10. I was quite satisfied and hopefully I’ll be back next year. Here are my notes about the festival. Hopefully I can remember to check back this post next year to apply todo list.

Arrival

After a 3 hour drive, we arrived at the festival area via coach. After about 15 minutes of waiting I got my wristband and got in. First order of business was finding a spot to pitch my tent. This was a daunting task because I’ve never done it before. After struggling with the instructions for 10 minutes I started setting it up. It was easier than I was expecting and looks like all the tents work the same way, so I guess next time will be a breeze. After the tent was setup, the boring hours began! It was 2 P.M. and there was absolutely nothing to do around as the festival area was going to open at 5. I turned to my book and read a few hours (only reading session I had throughout my stay). The rest of the time passed with eating junk food and drinking beer while watching some “warm-up” bands.

Festival

Friday morning. After a very uncomfortable sleep, started a nice shiny day with a ton of nice gigs ahead. After getting an airbed from the festival area, I started patrolling the festival area. There are a number of choices for food but they were triple the normal price. I don’t understand why they try to rip off people at festivals. You already have thousands of people in a confined space who has nothing to do all day. Even with regular prices they can make a fortune but they are greedy as always. Saturday and Sunday were exact copies of Friday actually. Only the bands changed but my activities between the gigs were pretty much the same.

Bands

Here are my notes on the bands I’ve seen:

Friday – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Malefice : The opening band. I hadn’t heard about them before but they sounded strong and is definitely worth having a look at their albums.

Moonsorrow: I’m not too big on black metal but I’ve been enjoying their music for a decade now. I haven’t seen them live before so I was wondering how it’s going to be. They didn’t communicate with the audience (as none of the black metal bands). Overall it was a nice watch.

Moonsorrow

Iced Earth: I don’t know anything about their work after Something Wicked This Way Comes. But I’m happy to see them for the first time. Apparently they have a new lead singer. One funny moment was him dropping the microphone in the middle of a song. That was a unique incident thinking about all the concerts I’ve seen so far. He was quite chatty and I think he’s a good frontman. May worth checking out their new stuff.

Iced Earth

Sepultura: Another legend and another first live show for me. I can’t believe how I managed to miss them over all these years but finally caught them. They have enough material for a much longer playlist but they were only allowed for 30 minutes. They killed with Roots as the closing song!

Sepultura

Watain: Never had seen them before and never will again! Classic black metal with similar songs. One interesting scene was the singer bringing a cup full of some liquid looked like blood and spilling it over the crowd in the front row.

Watain

Behemoth: I love these guys! They deserved being an headliner with a great show. Flames and burning crosses were nice visual elements of the show.

Behemoth

Saturday – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Benediction: I wonder why they got the earliest spot of the day. I think they are a great band. Even at 11 in the morning, they managed to create mosh pits in the crowd. It was my first time seeing them live, so it felt good to be able to mark another band as seen.

Benediction

I am I: With a lead singer resembling Captain Jack Sparrow, it seemed to be a good band but power metal was never my thing!

I am I

Cthonic: A band from Taiwan. Definitely not a country on metal map IMO. Didn’t like the band except for the beautiful bass player. It was funny when lead singer tried to make the crowd shout “Cheers” in Taiwanese. Cthonic

Crowbar: I used to have an album of this band (in cassette format!) that was one of the most boring albums I’ve ever listened to. The show was very boring too. Good thing I watched it from the beer tent!

Mayhem: I cannot understand how this band is still around. It was horrible! Worst metal band ever. They don’t deserve that spot in the middle of the day in the main stage. They should open the New Blood stage! Boring pointless screams with no melody or lyrics.

Mayhem

Sanctuary: Apparently they are an old band. Singer mentioned they were touring in the UK 20 years ago with Megadeth. I didn’t like their music much, wasn’t surprise why I never heard of them but rather how they survived all these years with this music. I hated them after the singer asked for the crowd to chant their name and said “Thank you for being so obedient” afterwards. I hate arrogant people!

Sanctuary

Hatebreed: One of my top bands ever. I’ve seen them before and knew about the brutal pits but couldn’t resist again. Classical playlist. It was fun to watch when Jamie invited a 7 year old kid and his dad to the stage. (I think the organization tried to ban swearing on the stage after this. Jamie was swearing as usual with the boy on the stage)

Hatebreed

Testament: Classic testament. I’ve seen them a couple of times before. Chuck Billy was awesome again with his stupid grin on his face :-). During the show they put a banner saying “Randy Free” which meant nothing to me at the moment. Later I learned about his incident here.

Testament

Machine Head: Another first show for me. I’m glad I finally saw them. I think they are the new Metallica (during their career peak – Master of Puppets and And Justice For All era). Beautiful show. I hope I can catch them some time soon.

Machine Head

Sunday – Ronnie James Dio Stage

Corrosion of Conformity: Pure rock ‘n roll. They have no crew so the lead singer/bass player had to deal with the technical issues during the show.

Evile: A very nice thrash metal band. Definitely under my watch now. I hope I can catch them around.

Nile: Pure death metal. I’m not a big fan of them. It wasn’t too bad for passing time but nothing special about it.

The Black Dahlia Murder: Not one of my favourite bands but the frontman had a nice dialog with the audience. One interesting detail was one guy trying to crowd-surf completely naked!

Paradies Lost: I used to like them in the old days, not so much anymore but still I enjoy their music. I didn’t understand the Nick Holmes’ attitude though. Making fun of festival name, trying to undermine common concert acts like asking the crows a question and make them make some noise. A dying band!

Dimmu Borgir: Another first show. And a great one. It wasn’t dark when they took the stage but still they managed to get the crowd in the mood. Good dialog with the audience which I didn’t expect. Alice Cooper: Amazing rock show. I’ve seen him in Wacken but this time I was much closer to the stage and enjoyed it a lot more. Best show I’ve ever seen. Even though I’m not a fan of his music, I enjoyed the classics.

Friday - Sunday – Other stages

SaDoKa

During the breaks at the main stage, I sneaked into the other stages. Couldn’t see many interesting events except Sa-Da-Ko. I really enjoyed their music and got hem under my radar now. I’ll follow their albums.

After the live shows, there was a party in Sophie Lancaster stage with The 5 DJs of the Apocalypse. They played almost all the classic metal hits. The dancer girls on the stage on Sunday night were very hot!

Bloodstock 2013

I don’t know if I can make it there, but if I do here is my todo list based on my current experiences:

  • Try to get a closer camping spot to the showers.
  • Gear to buy:
    • Same tent
    • A better/thicker sleeping bag
    • Airbed (from the festival area the first day)
    • Suntan cream
  • Check the weather first, bring rubber boots if it may rain (This year I was lucky)
  • Get more info about the bands before the festival
  • Don’t bring a camera. Use phone or just Google for the photos and videos. There are plenty of them all around.

Review comments edit

I recently finished reading Mark Russinovich’s technothriller or cyberthriller novel Zero day.

Zero Day

Frankly speaking I wouldn’t expect such an intriguing book from such a high-talented technical person. The book does not require any technical skills to follow. The main idea behind the book is very compelling itself. The world we live in is tied up and bound to computers that any attack to cripple our digital lives also would have a huge impact on every aspect of our lives.

I personally enjoyed the fast pace of the book. Even though it’s not a technical book it’s closely related and a real mind-opener. It sure convinced me to invest more of my time on security since it would be catastrophic both on personal and professional levels (Image you’re a Sony developer that is responsible for one of those hacks!). The only thing that i don’t like about the book is perfect characters. Our heroes are both athletic, gorgeous and genius! They have it all. It’s not envy (or maybe a little) but I’d prefer Sue and Vlad as my heroes! They sound more real and personable to me.

I heard that Mark Russinovich is working on the sequel of the novel. Well, my guess is this time it will contain botnets and Chinese hackers since to me it sounds like a huge threat. Of course, we’ll wait and see…