Monday 29th October 2007

I brought the XBox back to life on Saturday afternoon. It had not been working since June, perhaps a little earlier when I screwed up the upgrade of the Xbox Media Centre. It has taken me so long to get around to fixing it, as my attempts in mid September failed miserably. For a time, I had an Evox Boot CD (created by MightyMouse back in August 2004, when we modded the XBox) but have lost it now. I took the ISO into the office and had it sitting on my desktop machine before my colleague deleted the file with my permission, dear I say! I searched the net and created one but it failed to work. I tried to search again and found a great bit of software built by a member of the community. XBINS-TIRC. It fully automates the process of connecting to IRC (Internet Relay Chat), connecting to the right channel, getting the password for the Xbins distribution FTP site and then opening built in FTP client (FileZilla) to connect you onto the site. Magic. Everything done right on your screen with no user interaction required. I downloaded the Evox Dash and burnt the Xbox ISO to CD-Rw. However as expected it did not work. I set up my laptop and downloaded the latest T3CH release to put on, along with all the videos I had downloaded over the past few months. I had to get the Xbox Media Center loading again, so by chance still had an old version from April 2006 on the drive. This used an old XML configuration file, which thankfully I had kept in the root of the drive. Copying to the two files off the Xbox, renaming them and placing them back onto the root of the device. Then the moment of truth. Reboot. It worked! Fantastic. I cannot explain the full technicalities, but if the Xbox Media Centre does not load as the main dashboard, the XBox goes into a recovery state. You can still login via FTP but not all the drives are available. F: changes to Q: but you cannot see anything about from the main files in the root. So the only alternative is to use the Evox Boot CD or get some form of dashboard running off the device. I copied over about over a gig worth of music videos. Then I upgraded to the latest version of the XBox Media Centre, carefully following the instructions on the wiki. We were back in business! Now, just to get that YouTube script downloaded and working!

Both the Admiral and Pav have been pushing hard for me to mention the events of Saturday night. It was a good night, we went to Cafe du Sport first, then headed over to Mango. The VIP lounge upstairs had been pre-booked for the birthday party. It was relatively quiet to begin with around 10.30pm, when we got there but slowly filled up. It was a Halloween themed night with a handful of people dressed up. Pav arrived around 11pm. Foxy soon followed with some friends. Then the party really started. Had a good time, but it was a shame that not more of the usual crowd were out. Then again, perhaps it was a good thing that they were not!

Snowdome Ski Pass

Went to the Snowdome at Xscape today for my first ski lesson. I had booked two sessions at the beginning of October and taken the week off to fit them both in. The fast track lessons seemed ideal, as it was three hours on the slope to get used a hang of the sport. However, I think I should have opted to take single hour long lessons per a session and build up my progress slowly. I took my sister along and we got into MK quite early, a few minutes after 8pm. Having left Wycombe in the dark at 6.45am. My session was not until 9am but I thought getting there early would give me a chance to suss out the place. I got changed and grabbed my ski equipment and then waited for the instructor to arrive. He was a few minutes late but no matter. There was four of us on the course, Claire, Martin and Mark, all beginners. Our instructor was John, in his early twenties and seemed to be quite knowledgeable. We headed onto the slope, walking under a bright blue sign which says, “This Is It…”

It was soon quite clear that progress was going to be slow for this three hour fast track session. To begin with I struggled to climb up the slope, sliding down several times and having to have John come down, take my hands and help me get up. I got the idea of balancing and the right stance, but it was the snowplough that I failed with. After a few short runs down the lesson slope, we were put onto the ski lift and told to ski down but in the snowplough position to come to a steady stop at the beginning. This took me some time to get used to. My positioning was wrong, too much weight was at the back of the skis, causing me to fall on my backside a few times. Other times, I would just not be able to stop and would end of up heading towards (and into) the red barrier. Progress was slow, I was getting frustrated and tired. By now, it was clear that two members of the group (Mark and Martin) were picking everything up quite quickly, were as myself and Claire was struggling. We had a quick ten minute break, I grabbed a drink before we headed out back onto the slope. This time we went up higher and after a few bad runs, John handed us over to a different instructor. He had given up, so this elder gentleman (who was already teaching two other women) decided to help Claire and I. He took us up half way and then came down with us, coaching on us step by step as we come down the slope. This helped, not just a little but a great deal! I got the snowplough and actually started working on my turns. I was growing in confidence and even with a few more crashes, some quite dramatic. However time, was not on my side and just as I was getting comfortable, it was time to exit the slope.

I had failed the Level 2 stage and would need to re-take this so I could progress onto the Fast Track Levels 3 & 4. The Snowdome people called and left a message on the voicemail during the afternoon. I will call them back tomorrow. So, how do I sum up my first ever skiing experience? Scary, inscillerating and tiring. So tiring, that I went for an afternoon nap when we got back home. Due to the strange shape of my right foot, I had scraped it against the inside of my ski boot and sliced a couple of layers of skin off. It sounds more painful than it feels or looks but I bandaged it up quite well. It will take a while to heal. Looks like I will be back at the Snowdome sooner than I expected.

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