Winter has finally arrived in Manchester. As is pretty normal, Winter waits to get Christmas out of the way before striking in January.
To be fair, I ought to use a small letter for winter – we’ve had about 3mm of snow here in the last week and the temperature has dropped to about -2C at it’s coldest. So there’s no likelihood of an epidemic of polar bears breaking out anytime soon.
Some of the snow which didn’t contribute to the 3mm (by dint of the fact it melted immediately) was thrown at me during my last run almost a week ago. Actually that evening it did seem bitterly cold – Smashrun claims it was +2C with a windchill of -3C although I don’t remember it being windy, except for when it was depositing snow. Going for the ‘no gloves approach’ I soon regretted that mistake although despite painfully numb hands and a few slippery pavements, it was a nice evening to run 13.1 miles. So that has maintained the run of at least one half-marathon distance per month since June 2014 when I recovered from the sciatica.
A random statistic I discovered once I’d warmed up and plugged the details into the computer was that despite the half-marathon distance being my most regularly run distance, with 22 races completed, that evening’s run was only the 5th time I’ve run that distance in training. It seems I prefer to go for shorter distances (23x 10-13 milers) or longer (13x 14+ milers).
So there you go. Stats even when stats weren’t going to be mentioned…….
Earlier that day, my gas engineer had taken some final measurements for radiators in preparation for the new boiler. Whilst much of my house has been redecorated and improved, one of the bedrooms has lacked insulation with the net result of the radiator merrily heating up the neighbourhood rather than the bedroom. So he removed the radiator for me to rip down the wall behind it and fill it with insulating foam, with the intention that when he comes with shiny new boiler, the radiator can be reconnected and lots of heating goodness will remain in that room and be generally a lot more efficient.
I’m not very practically minded, but even I managed to demolish the plasterboards and cut 32 square feet of solid insulation into enough pieces to fit into the gaps. Reattaching the new boards was complicated by complete ineptitude but I got there in the end. Just need to get it re-skimmed and the radiator rehung now.
Despite the success (ish) of this project, I won’t be giving up my day job anytime soon to pursue a career in plasterboard bashing.
Whilst in a creative mood last night, the baking utensils came out and muffins were born. Chocolate & Orange flavoured muffins to be exact. They weren’t going to have the orange in them until I remembered I had bought the fruit a couple of days earlier, but rather than digging out my existing recipe for this rather nice cake, I improvised. On the negative side, they didn’t rise as much as they should have, but the silver lining was that the batter made 15 muffins rather than 12, and they tasted superb.
It was only having taken a photograph of said muffins to put on here that I realised there was a computing problem; dropbox proudly announced there was no room to save the photo.
Now I don’t use computers for that much and the drive is quite big for me (160GB I think, which would take a lot of images of kittens downloaded from the internet to fill). But full it was (darn you kittens!) and I started to poke around to see what was taking up the space. I usually run Linux Mint (Debian Edition) which despite the suggestion it is complicated, is a really clear and easy system for me to use as I have very few programs which require Windows to operate. However as there are some programs in this latter category, mostly relating to my fitness equipment, I need a Windows installation on the disk as well, for just that need.
It seems that when you don’t look at a Windows installation, it expands like foam. Rapidly filling every crack of space. With the programs, music and photos stored elsewhere, Windows was inexplicably taking up 45GB of space! Not ideal given it’s only there for the occasional use. Even after deleting a load of programs installed into it, it took over 35GB.
My workaround is slightly unusual, but it works for me. Virtualisation. You see there is a piece of software called VirtualBox which you can run on your computer as a program but what it does is provides an ecosystem which from the inside, looks like a real computer. First I wiped off the Windows installation, which to be fair was running slower than I do after 25 miles. Then I’ve created a ‘virtual disk’ of fixed size within my computer and on this, I’ve reinstalled the Windows system I deleted from my hard disk.
So what is the advantage? For me it’s two-fold. Firstly I’ve got some control back on the machine in terms of the space taken up. Secondly and more usefully, I don’t have to switch systems if I need to use Windows, I literally open a window up with Windows in it. Here it is, installing updates, as it has been for over 12 hours now. Gotta love Windows…..
VirtualBox is a great bit of kit and is available for Windows too. So if you were wanting to try out a different system (or several systems) but wanted to leave your existing set-up intact, you can install VirtualBox and plonk each system into it’s own little independent world inside your own computer. Best of all, it’s free 🙂