2009 - the year of black metal? not :(

This year I thought I would be able to attend the Wacken Metal festival in Germany... last year it was booked out in March (the festival was in July/August!). Well, this year it seems I won't be luckier:

 Wacken booked out

 Not even half the bands are announced - and it's in 210 days! I don't know if it's Motorhead or just the reputation of the festival (or just the fact that many people buy tickets just for the sake of selling them back on ebay, as it seems to be the case) but it's getting pretty hard to get tickets. Shame.

 Well, maybe I'll go back to the Hellfest, in Clisson, in France.. After all it was pretty good last year...

Hellfest logo

Not so many bands have been announced so far... some of the ones that have been are alright - stratovarius, epica... MANOWAR!! (come on, they're fun!). We'll see, I hope they will come up with some other good bands.

 Are there any other festivals of that type that are worth it? I heard of bloodstock in the UK... Did anyone went there - is it any good? Or anything else somewhere in europe? :)

 PS: I just discovered that the singer of Heaven and Hell was.. Dio \o/ one good point for hellfest ;)


Spain Update - Third and last

Alright, I didn't thought I would write a third post about this but here we go :) Let's start with a short video of a... Well that's why I am posting this, what is it?

Looks like a friendly snake with legs :) Anyway.. Last Saturday we went out in the center of Madrid; I didn't really enjoy the bars there, all the ones I've seen being incredibly warm and crowded... Not the kind of relaxing atmosphere to have a beer, to say the least.

But then after 3 we moved to another part of the city and we came across a medium sized place - with about 300 people sitting there, drinking beer, on the ground. All the drinks were being provisioned by chinese people running around with cans they bought earlier and selling them for one euro (legally, shops aren't allowed to sell alcohol after 10pm)... But this wasn't just 3 guys selling a pack of beer, it was like 15 to 20 people selling thousands of cans (and cold, don't ask me how they managed that)! The police came by a first time around 4, had a look, and left... and then came back at nearly five to ask people to leave. You know, it's five o clock, people want to sleep, and you're not really allowed to drink in the streets. With 300 other people. From all the countries I've visited this was really the first time I've seen something like this, was really impressive :) Reminded me of student strikes... Good times... :D

The week after, Juanma brought some roman clothes and a lead rifle to entairtain ourselves at lunch time :) We also started to find more material on site, which was pretty nice.

One archaeologist from a site nearby came over to see what we were doing, and drove us to his site (30 min drive) to show us around. We went there in a really big Jeep, driving quite fast in the small ways leading to it, with russian marches as music.. was a bit surrealistic :D The site was very nice: a Celtic camp, surrounded by 2 roman camps, that had been destroyed.

I am now in Madrid as my plane is leaving tomorrow... I took the time to go to the art museum this time, as last sunday I woke up so late that it was already closed. Picasso was good, but I particularly loved the paintings from Salvador Dali - truly amazing! The temporary exhibition was about art and modern media, it was very, very good as well, I recommend it to anybody in Madrid

Anyway, tomorrow, back to France, yay!


Spain Update 2

Hello! Nearly two weeks later, I am still having loads of fun over here :)

I spent my last week end in Santander with jaime, another archaeologist who was here the first two weeks. We went there by bus, it is approx. a 90 minutes drive. There we found a pension, which is something between a youth hostel and a hotel: very cheap, and very nice :) In the evening we met Juanma, a guy that was going to come to Aguilar two days later. Jaime and Juanma knew each other from the previous year - it was a very long night... I had to leave them after the 3rd bar at 3am :( I´ve probably seen most of the heavy metal pubs in Santander though :P

The excavation is doing well, we found the remainings of a wall; we also found the skull and many bones of a bull, larger pieces of pottery, small pieces of iron... This keeps people coming up from town happy, as we still welcome several people or group of people every day.

More people also arrived, we are now 12 (which is a lot compared to the 4 we were at the end of the second week).

I don't really know why, but it seems most of the diggers here are heavy metal fans (girls included). We got one guitarist and even a singer ;) Motorhead is the most played group in the invincible and mythic "heavy metal car". This also means a lot more animation in our local pub, to which we go nearly every evening; it's a little bit like "our" place, as we are the only ones there 90% of the time :)

The site is still so wonderful; the other day, the whole valley was completely drawning in fog, but the site was above it, which left us with this amazing view.

We welcomed this tuesday people from the local newspaper. I think they enjoyed what they saw, cause we did the frontpage the day after! Cynthia and myself were described as "experts from the University of Oxford", which makes me think I must have made good progress with my 2 weeks of experience :P

This week end, I left Aguilar de Campoo and drove to Madrid with some other archaeologists leaving here. I spent friday visiting Madrid, just walking around without map and getting lost in all the small roads in the town center. The city is amazing, very colourful, friendly and full of life - I really loved it. Not sure about what I will do today, but I definitely want to see the modern art museum which is just a 2 minutes walk from the place I am staying.

I hope you are all having a good time in Oxford as well - I will be back soon :) (still need to find a place to live though).


Spain update...

Hello! I have been in spain for a good ten days now - so far I am really enjoying it a lot :)

We are staying in Aguilar de Campoo, a small town in Palencia. It is really lovely, pretty small, but truly "spanish" (to me) and quite busy. Many bars, restaurants, and on top of it: it is extremely cheap! It is funny to get asked 3.60€ after 4 beers :)

The site is lovely, every time you stop digging and get your head up, you get reminded how incredible the sight is. The weather is variable, from really hot and dry to cold, windy and wet - but I´m already used to the latter :)

We regularly have some people from the villages around coming to say hi, checking what we are doing, even sometimes giving a hand!

The other diggers have been very nice and friendly so far, sadly not all of them speak english. So I adapt, one girl speaks a better german than english, so I speak german with her... english with some others... and I train my spanish with the ones who don´t really speak english at all :)

I´ve also been introduced to spanish food; I really like it. And as a french cheese fan, I really, really appreciate spanish cheese.

In the end it am having a really good time so far; though the work is seriously tiring :) It also took me some time to get used to their eating hours; the restaurants only open at 9! My first day I arrived at 9:30, i was preparing to go to bed, and we left for the restaurant at 10... Crazy!

Mi español es mejolando tambien, though it will need a lot more work to become really useful.

So far so good for the quick update, I hope it will stay like this! I will probably post another series of pictures before coming back in october. Buenas!


Going to be an archaeologist...


Most of you who know me know that I applied one month ago for an excavation in Spain, in Monte Bernorio. It is a 2x2 weeks university dig. I was badly disappointed of not hearing from them anymore after their first confirmation that I could go, and nearly resigned myself to staying here - well, here we are, they finally replied to my desperate emails :). First thing I did was to check for flight prices - which, lucky me, were still quite low: 25£ + taxes, 70£ for a single flight - that's quite good for booking less than a week in advance...

So, I am leaving next sunday, and will be digging for the next month, which is a really exciting experience for someone who had rafa draw a "trowel" to be able to understand what he meant! I've been working in IT for OA for a good 16 months now, so I'm really pleased to have the opportunity to learn more what archaeology is all about. I will be coming back after that (in october), even with a new job description if all works out well :).

Is there anything I should not forget to take with me when going on site? Rafa told me I may have to buy gloves? What type of gloves, any chance they will be provided? Any other stuff I need to know / take with me? I am a bit scared, my Spanish is as good as yours, so the more I know before going the better...


Creating new virtual machines with ubuntu-vm-builder

This could have been entitled "how to get a new operating system running in less than 2 minutes". Right, this post is intended for Linux Users only, but I know there are a couple out there... Virtualisation is a technology that is used to run several operating systems on one physical machine. In other words, on one server, I can run 2 windows XP, 3 windows 2000, and 10 linux - all running at the same time. There are many different ways to do this, ranging from XEN, KVM, Vmware to virtualbox and solaris containers... I made a small screencast (like a video) to show how easy and fast it is to create VMs using a script called ubuntu-vm-builder. To see the screencast, you must run Linux, download uvb.session and uvb.timing here: http://waste.mandragor.org/uvb/ , and run scriptreplay uvb.timing uvb.session . It is about 2 minutes long :) .


All other offices moved to Zimbra!

All the users in Mauguio, Lancaster and Cambridge are now all using Zimbra... We have made good progress in Oxford as well - the move should be finished soon! Was a lot of hard work and literally millions of emails to transfer, but we're nearly there :)


French website...

It's hot, it's new, it's the french website! Right no it's not completely ready yet, but nearly :)

You can follow the development at the following address: http://fr-dev.thehumanjourney.net/. At this stage, we would be very pleased with some feedback, either with the design, or the content for the one of you who speak french!


Windows XP acceleration & KVM

It seems I am not the first one to have troubles setting up a windows XP KVM guest. The main problem seems to be that it just won't install using acceleration; on the other hand, it works fine without (qemu mode). Here is a command line that works to boot from an ISO file to install windows XP:

sudo virt-install --connect qemu:///system -n xpsp2 -r 512 -f windows.qcow2 -s 12 -c windowsxpsp2.iso --vnc --noautoconsole --os-type windows --os-variant winxp

Then install windows using your favourite VNC client:

virt-viewer -c qemu+ssh://ip/system xpsp2

Once the setup is finished, the VM will be defined as non accelerated; it will be using qemu instead of KVM, and will run much slower. Edit the file /etc/libvirt/qemu/xpsp2.xml , and set <emulator> to /usr/bin/kvm instead of /usr/bin/qemu.

Now you just need to redefine the VM and to start it:

sudo virsh
define xpsp2.xml
start xpsp2

Your windows VM is now accelerated :)


Hello World!

Hello World! Sorry for that blog which aim to be quite technical and may not be of big interest to most archaeologists. It is aimed to explain a little bit what I am working on, which technology we are using, why, some technical tips and tricks, why sometimes I keep sending mails at 3am... But well I may have other things to say - I'm convinced a corporate blog is also a good place to share political convictions ;) Anyway, this is my first step in the blogging world - hello!