Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Webcam cache makes a half century

The observant amoung you will have noticed our "Geocaches Found" count (top left of our home page) switching to 50 today. That's because, after finding two at the weekend on a Cambridge "caching event"(!) I found another two caches today near Liverpool Street.

Neither were traditional caches (i.e. they weren't boxes full of goodies). The 50th was a Webcam cache. With this, I followed the GPSr to a location visible on the web via some webcams. Anne was at home and took a screenshot of me at the location (we coordinated ourselved via electric mobile telephones). To log the cache as "found" we then uploaded the screenshot (with me circled) to the Geocaching website, and Bob was our uncle. Done!

Here's the image, with me celebrating our 50th find. You can't really see it but I was standing with my arm in the air and my legs spread, looking proudly ridiculous while city workers around me went to work. I'm in the top left hand photo, circled in red. Click on the photo for a bigger image.

That's right: look impressed.

Monday, July 30, 2007

VBA for muggles

I'm on a course (VBA for Excel) in London Monday-Thursday this week. This should be a chance to unwind a bit from work, but it being our month end I'll be doing work in the evenings (and I did yesterday too). On the train this morning though I took the opportunity to make some headway into the new (final) Harry Potter book.

I arrived at the training centre near Liverpool Street to find my instructor's name is Dragoslav. Sounds like I may still be in the Harry Potter book!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Quick update

Here's what's new with us:

1. I am on a productivity drive

In one week I got my inbox at work down from 1400 emails to none. This doesn't mean I've done everything I need to do, just that I'm trying to file properly and I've moved all the emails that need me to do something to a folder called "Action". Whether this will help or not remains to be seen, but at least now I'm not trying to keep all the things I need to do in my head.

(It also remains to be seen whether my inbox will bloat again in a month or six months, but I'm hoping that by boasting here that I'm on top of it I will be too embarrassed about losing face and try to keep on top of things.)

2. ThingOne's been sleeping badly (as, consequently, have we)

We think it's teething and development. Again. A major bout of teething always seems to coincide with significant development, and makes it hard for ThingOne to sleep. First it was crawling last summer, then walking at the start of the year, and now her language is coming on and she's putting new words together.

We try to slow her down, but we go to get her in the morning (5.30 recently!) and she's frantically naming everything she can see: "Door, cat, socks, duvet, zip, daddy, mummy, teeth!" Calm down girl! We've had a couple of good nights, so I hope things are easing off now.

We're also teaching her about the potty using books, chocolate and dancing (ThingOne gets to do The Poo Dance if she does a poo in the potty. The process stresses her out a bit (lots of "uh oh"s if she stands up and there's something in the potty) but the chocolate helps and she enjoys seeing her produce go into the toilet and get flushed away ("Bye bye poo"). So some of ThingOne's development is our fault, but Anne was keen to potty train in the summer so ThingOne could run around nudey and not get cold. And given it's July it IS technically summer, but the weather's been so dreadful that it might as well not be.

3. I have a new camera

Using profits from matched betting I've bought a digital SLR camera (Nikon D40x). I've not had a chance to use it yet as I'm waiting for an SD card to arrive. I've made over £300 by betting on football matches (and I know nothing about football) using matched betting techniques (which, believe it or not, give a guaranteed return) and I was able to use that, Dixon's price matching and some force of will to pick up this natty camera for no cost to myself. Sometimes these things work out. Or course, all the effort I put into saving a few quid here will be for nought the next time I need to call a workman in or get my car repaired, where other people would do the job themselves with minimum effort.

Anyway, the upshot is I'm hoping the quality of my photos will improve. I used to love using my dad's SLR and even got reasonably good at it when I was at uni, but it takes so much trial and error, and my hope is it will be easier when you don't have to wait a week for the film to be processed to see the results.

Here's a photo of ThingOne dressed as a cat for no good reason.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Biker chick

A couple of weekends ago we went to Centre Parcs with my mum, sister and brother-in-law. We did the same last year, and it was good to see how different ThingOne was a year on.

We had a great time, and while the weather wasn't up to much it didn't spoil our break. We fortunately had managed to schedule all the outdoor activities (golf, walks, cycle rides) during the dry periods, and did indoor things (nap, badminton, massages) when it was raining.

Anne and I hired bikes, mine with a child-seat. We weren't sure how ThingOne would take to it, especially the wearing of the cycle helmet. We needn't have worried - she loved it! After she saw a little girl wearing a helmet she was happy to wear one, and she seemed to enjoy being up high and surveying the woodland (especially the squirrels, ducks and rabbits).

Last week I dug Anne's old bike out of the shed (actually my mum's old bike she gave to Anne that Anne has never used) and tightened up some nuts. I got it road-worthy and today we went to a cycle shop on Mill Road in Cambridge (there are plenty of cycle shops here, as you might imagine if you've been to Cambridge) and bought a child seat, a lock, a stand and a helmet each for Anne and ThingOne. It'll be a good way for them to get around, and there are plenty of cycle routes here for them to ride around safely.

Anne was worried she wouldn't feel confident enough on the bike. As it was, she may have been a bit over-confident. She popped in to visit a friend and left ThingOne on the bike with the stand engaged as she rang the door bell. The bike fell over on the gravel, and ThingOne went down with it (being strapped in). She screamed a bit, and Anne felt awful (as did I when I caught them up - I'd been following with the pushchair). ThingOne soon calmed down though and just has a bruised arm. Poor thing. I guess that's lesson one learned.

Earlier in the day we'd made the most of the nice weather (the first in a while) and been to a Cambridge "event" on Parker's Piece. There were stalls, a French market and live music. Again, ThingOne liked the music and danced about making us laugh. SHe got a bit worried by people listening to the music who weren't wearing socks - OCD child!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Tair noo noo clip clop - life at Bletchly Park with Sweep

Scene from this morning:
ThingOne: "Tair noo noo clip clop."
Daddy: "Not yet ThingOne - you can have your breakfast when we've got you dressed."

Communicating with ThingOne is like communicating with Sooty's pal, Sweep. Sweep used to just make a squeaking noise and Matthew Corbett would say "What's that sweep? You want to go outside?" (You'd probably put Sweep's lack of vocal ability downto him being a dog-puppet, but then Sue the panda could talk properly, and I imagine Sooty could too, albeit in a whisper that the viewer couldn't hear.)

It's similar with ThingOne, as I say. She's got this language that Anne and I can (often) understand, in context, but anyone viewing us would think we're just making it up and pretending ThingOne's better than she is at speech.

Many of her words are the same. She previously said "bread" and "bird" ok (though generally leaving off the last letter - perhaps she's French?) But since she learned to say "baby" quite well every B word is now "bay-beeee". So bread is bay-beee, bird is bay-beee and bib is bay-beee. So you have to see what's happening in order to understand her in context. If she's at the window it probably means bird, if she's looking up at the kitchen cupboards it more likely means bread. It's easy to get the wrong meaning and takes experience.

It's the same to a lesser extent with C words. Since she learned that a horse goes clip clop the few C words she knew have morphed into that.

Deciphering The ThingOne Code is thus a mixture of experience, frequency-analysis, working out the context, and a little blind luck.

So to explain the title of this post, and my response:

Tair - Chair. Fairly straightforward that one. Especially when she's banging her high chair.

Noo noo - plate. ThingOne's plate has the Teletubbies on it, and Noo Noo (the Teletubbies' vacuum cleaner friend) is depicted around the rim.

Clip clop - crumpet. This is often what ThingOne has for breakfast and given that she's asking for her plate crumpet is the most probable meaning.

So "Tair noo noo clip clop" means that ThingOne would like to get into her high chair and be given her Teletubbies plate with a crumpet on it. Simple really.

Unless I'm wrong and she's actually telling me about her planned U-Boat attack on a convoy of supply ships crossing the Atlantic.