Fifth Anniversary (Is that like ‘cardboard’ or something?) (Wood!)

Wow, Annie and I will have been married for five years on June 9th! It’s a friday and I think Annie is playing at a ceilidh that night so I guess we’ll just celebrate the day after by going to Frenzy instead!

Annie and I have both got surprise gifts for one another, no idea what she’s got me though!

Don’t forget Sunday June 18th!

Ah, yes, Father’s day! Any offspring of mine (I know I only have one child!) reading this (or anyone else who feels like it!) feel free to buy me gifts!

UPDATE:

I found out that a 5 year wedding anniversary is classed as ‘wood’, according to Wikipedia.

Looking at the list of different ‘types’ of Anniversary, I thought it would be funny to think of things that would be impossible, very difficult (or maybe just gross) to get as gifts for people celebrating those particular years, so here’s my attempt:

1: Ice
2: Plutonium
3: Uranium
4: Carbon nanotube
5: Buckminsterfullerene
6: Samarium-cobalt magnet
7: Neptunium
8: Sulfuric acid
9: Bifidus digestivum ?
10: Acne
11: Nitrous oxide
12: Truffle
13: Liquid air
14: Pashmina
15: Pixie_dust
20: Vegetable Lamb of Tartary
25: Liger
30: Tigon
35: Giant squid ink
40: Thulium
45: Kryptonite
50: Amorphous ice
55: Polywater
60: Flatus
65: Melange
70: Ambrosia
75: Cochineal
80: Beluga caviar

~Rick

Yep, it’s been a while…

Well, with having no computer at home I have been awfully quiet with the blog posts, I guess this is kind of expected…

Only 14 days until delivery of my new MacBook Pro though as of today!

So what’s been happening? Working on a few things, skateboarding… I also got snowboarding last weekend too along without about 4,999 other people it seemed, it was good to get riding though.

Last night I had my first surfing dream, as you’ll know if you’ve read my previous blog posts I bought a surfboard recently which is currently sitting in my dining room looking nice until the weather gets warmer! But it was great to have a dream about catching some waves, it’s gotten me excited about going surfing!

That’s all for now, I’ll try and post some more soon along with pics of Natalie etc.

~Rick

Bored? Why not ‘Blog Spam’ yourself?

My own blog’s comments got spammed this week with 11 posts linking to a website trying to sell some drug. I thought it’d be funny to ‘Blog spam’ myself, rather just wait for someone to post comment spam in my blog I’d just post random spam’ish comments! I’m not going to, maybe another time!

Well, what’s new? I’ve had a funny idea for a way to raise money to add stuff to the new outdoor concrete skatepark, not that the park isn’t gonna be awesome to skate but there’s plenty of scope to add things to it. Also there’s no floodlights for it at the moment so it’d be awesome to be able to get cash for that, plus adding things like grind ledges is possible too.

So, what’s the idea? Heard of the Million Dollar Homepage? Well, we’re gonna do the ‘500,000 pixel homepage’ instead!!! Basically the idea is to sell blocks of 20 x 20 pixels for £25 a pop, if we did happen to sell them all it would actually raise £31,250 which would be amazing.

So, if you’ve got something you want to advertise online or you know someone that does, or you just want to support and help improve this awesome skatepark then give me a shout, I have some pixels for sale!!!

On a family note Natalie is a bit sick this week, she’s been home from nursery all week (although she went on Monday but was sick), she’s been waking up a bit at night so Mommy and Daddy’s sleep pattern has been a bit disrupted, hence I woke up at 9:48am this morning! Good job I’m my own boss.

Oh yeah, Google Maps has updated some of the satellite images for the UK, my house is now very visible! And, no that’s not a real space shuttle beside my house (These satellite images are 2 or 3 years old as the shuttle is no longer there). You might need to click on the zoom tool (left hand side) as it seems to come up one step out when you follow that link sometimes, my house is just below the red pointer – black roof white yard with white walls.

~Rick

Insomnia, Insomnia, Insaawwwwmnia…

Mmm, can’t seem to get to sleep tonight, I stayed up late watching TV, then when I went to bed I couldn’t sleep (Darn Start Trek Voyager! Somebody just get rid of the Holodec already, it’s always causing trouble…).

So I thought I’d wander around downstairs for a bit, then I remembered I hadn’t blogged since last week. Well, what’s happened since then? MacWorld San Francisco came and went and gave us some interesting goodies from Apple, new iMac and new ‘MacBook Pro‘ laptops (the name does grow on you, but the impending loss of the ‘PowerBook‘ brand is hard to take a bit).

Mr. Powerbook, meet Mr. Floor.

On the subject of Powerbooks, unfortunately my 4 year old Titanium PowerBook G4 had a bit of an accident last Sunday, I was about to leave the house to head down to The Gate with it in my bag when the strap came unclipped and it went, “thuuummmp.” to the floor. The words, “Oh crap” came to mind.

I didn’t check it until I got down the road, I took it out and, yep, a big crack on the left hand corner of the upper titanium casing with a couple of smaller cracks at other points. The bottom of the case at the corner was peeling back and had a bent bit pushed out where something inside had squeezed out. I managed to push it back in a bit and pushed the bottom of the case up into place a bit.

Fortunately the machine still works, it came awake quite happily when I opened it up and it seems to work ok. It just looks pretty wrecked now! Kind of a sad thing to happen after all the hard work we’ve done together! Hopefully it should be covered by my business insurance but I’m not sure how that will work out because of the age of the machine.

Nursery rhymes with, um… Penguin?

…Well, Natalie started Nursery last week, she goes every morning from 8.50am until 11.20am. She was really excited about starting and she’s really enjoyed it. There’s been a lot of painting and art going on, so any relatives or friends are liable to be gifted with some genuine Natalie artwork! It’s been fun getting up in the morning with Natalie around as Natalie and Annie were usually asleep when I got up for work before. Now Natalie comes shuffling through to our room when she hears our alarm go off. It’s very cute when she appears still in her grobag having negotiated the stairs still wearing it!!!

Today Annie took Natalie to see the movie ‘March of the Penguins‘ at the DCA, Natalie enjoyed it mostly but they left early as Natalie said, “I is a bit bored now Mummy”. It was a bit slow for the length of movie so it’s maybe not surprising. Oh, and apparently Morgan Freeman needed to just shut up for a bit so we could hear the antarctic instead. I think that’s what Annie said anyway! :) I’ve still never been to the movies with Natalie yet, although this was only her second time having watched Madagascar previously.

Sunday Morning Live Saturday Night Live

After what seems like ages we finally managed to go live for the first time last Sunday broadcasting the church service at The Gate. It was a small scale start with only a 160 x 120 pixel MPEG4 movie stream but it seemed to work pretty well.

Our main limitation just now is that our broadband connection only has 256kb upload capacity which limits us as the church already does an audio broadcast too. However, we should be getting an additional connection purely for the video feed and this will also have a 512kb upload, so hopefully we’ll be able to do a 320 x 240 pixel stream soon.

If you want to check it out go to The Gate website and click on the ‘Live Audio’ link and you’ll see the links for the audio and video streams. They are only active on Sunday morning between about 10.30am – 1pm UK time. That’s an approximate timescale, the meeting runs from 11am until about 12.30pm but sometimes it runs over a bit.

There will also be an archive of previous weeks audio and video which are already in the larger format, I’m still working on the system for that though.

If anyone is interested in the technical details of how this all works then here’s a quick overview of the setup used:

Internal encoding kit:

  • Apple Mac Mini (1gb Ram) OSX 10.4
  • 160gb External Firewire RAID array
  • Miglia Analogue to Digital converter
  • 17″ LCD monitor
  • Wirecast software

External Broadcast server:

And finally…

I just wrote quite a bit there, that’s about it for now though really. Oh yeah, the out-door concrete skatepark is almost finished now, go to www.dundeeconcrete.com to check it out, hopefully another couple of weeks or so and then I can skate it!

Let’s hope I can sleep now…

Good night ;) z z z z z z z z

~Rick

Happy Birthday Natalie!

Today is my daughter Natalie’s 3rd birthday, last night we had a party and invited a few people over. Here’s a few photo highlights:

One happy Snow White...
Natalie was (and still is!) L O V I N G this dress! She really wanted to go to bed with it on, but I managed to persuade her it wasn’t a good idea!

Angels gotta eat...

Even Angels gotta eat! I think this is her ‘grumpy’ face, another Snow White vertically challenged character reference.

Ooh, candles!
Cake! Pink! Just as she requested! (‘Happy’)

Cinderella dress
Ooh, a Cinderella dress too! There were more costume changes than a Christmas pantomime!

Jemima, Natalie and Jay
A group shot: Jemima, Natalie and Jay. You can see Jay ‘helping’ Natalie open a present by operating her hand for her!

Thank you to everyone who bought Natalie a gift, she was deluged with pressies and had a great party!

~Rick

“It was like totally random!”

Yep, we’re back from our holiday, well, we got back on the 23rd of October but I’ve just been busy this last week and hadn’t had an opportunity to post a new blog entry.

We had a great holiday down in Wales, we stayed in a really nice cottage called Tyddyn Cottage (pronounced ‘tithin’) near a place called Builth Wells. It was nice just being in the middle of countryside and not having to work!

Here’s a few photos from the holiday with some comments:


Our rental car was a Ford Focus Zetec. Nice!


Tyddyn Cottage


Natalie and her favourite tree.


Natalie listening to rain falling on the roof of my Auntie’s barn.


Natalie smiling for the camera.


Natalie and her Grandad.


Natalie kissing one of my Auntie’s goats!


Inside Cardiff Castle.


The ‘flamily’ in the ball pool at ‘Quackers‘!!!


Left to right: My cousin Melanie, her son James, my Auntie (in the red), Natalie, Annie, me, my Dad, my brother and his wife Maureen’s knee!


Four Generations of the Curran family!!!

That’s just a few pictures from our holiday, we all had a really nice time away.

Geeky stuff:

Well, what can I write for my geeky bit? Mmm, well, today I got a chance to play around with one of the new iPods, the ones which can play video it’s so thin compared to my iPod, a very nice piece of kit.

Oh, a really cool thing was that someone gave me a Canon 10D digital SLR camera and two lenses, I was pretty blown away, I’ve really wanted a digital SLR but couldn’t afford one. I’m really looking forward to getting back into photography again, I haven’t used my film-based 35mm SLR for years, once you use digital it’s hard to go back!

What else? umm, oh yeah, Annie and I made a song, well, more Annie really but we both had fun! I’d describe it as being a mixture of Jefferson Airplane meets Madonna and the ‘Lost’ polar bear!!! Also, once you listen to it the title of this blog post will make sense, well kind of!

Download ‘Selah’ in MP3 format…

Lastly, thanks to Annie’s Mom for sending us ‘Lost‘ Series One on DVD in the mail, without this we’d be just like the rest of the UK having to wait another 10 weeks to find out what happens!!!

So, what’s it worth to people for me not to post what happens??!!!!!

~Rick

Going on holiday, yay!

Yep, going on holiday for a week on Saturday. I’m really looking forwards to it. We’ve got a hire car and are driving down to Wales to visit family, my Dad is over from Australia and my brother Alistair and his wife Maureen will be there too, it’ll be the first big family get together for a long time. Also it will be the first time Annie and Natalie meet my Grandparents and my Aunt & Uncle, so lot’s going on there.

My Dad has booked a holiday cottage for my brother & his wife and Annie, Natalie and myself which looks reaaly nice. So, looking forward to a nice break.

Essential Gadgets

Of course, going away means you have to be prepared so I’ve got a whole range of gadgets to keep me amused and also to help us not get lost driving there. The list so far is:

  • Canon MV600i Digital Video Camera
  • Canon 10D Digital SLR Camera (Borrowed from my friend Dave!)
  • 2.5gb CF card storage capacity
  • Powerbook Laptop
  • 120gb External hard drive
  • Nokia NGage Gaming phone
  • Tom-Tom Satellite Navigation System (Borrowed from my friend Dave!)
  • 40gb iPod (Mine!)
  • 512mb iPod Shuffle (Annie’s!)
  • Various Cables, firewire, USB, AV etc…

Well, that’s the stuff I’ve remembered so far. All completely essential of course! The most annoying thing is that the hire car comes with a CD player and not a tape deck so I can’t plug in my iPod to listen to music!!! A hassle as we keep all our CD’s stored away as we only play music from our iPods nowadays. How archaic having to use CDs!!! ;)

“It was black and about the size of labrador…”

Another little project I’ve started working on is a little Google Maps mashup. Oh, what’s a ‘mashup’ you ask? well, it’s where you take the function of the Google Maps service and link in your own data or functionality to it. So I’ve made my own little mashup.

Over the years there’s been sightings in the local area, and indeed throughout the rest of Scotland and the UK, of ‘Big Cats’, these are not just domestic cats gone wild but cats of descriptions varying from Puma to Lynx, and also paw-prints and animals killed. Recently there was a few sightings of a big black cat in the West End of Dundee, someone even feared their pet had been eaten by it. I came across the site of a charity called Scottish Big Cat Trust and they track sightings of these animals.

So, my Google maps Mashup is a ‘Cat Map’, have a look here, https://suburbia.org.uk/maps/. Please note that the first sighting is of course fake! We haven’t spotted anything ourselves! The data for 2004 is real though. There’s over 1300 sightings in the Big Cat Trust database so it’ll take time to add all those but you’ll get the idea hopefully.

Well, Annie’s here to pick me up from work so now I am on holiday!!!

Bye!!!

~Rick

The weekend! A few Photos / Videos…

Just before leaving my office on Friday night I noticed a really awesome sky out of the window, the clouds were rippled and it was all red and glowing. We really do get some awesome sunsets in Dundee. Here’s a picture:

Sunset Clouds over Dundee, taken on 30-09/05 You’ll notice the crane at the lower-right corner, there’s actually about 3 or 4 visible out of this window as there’s so much construction going on in Dundee just now.

Saturday morning and it’s nice to be at home with the family. We had an easy start to the day and then helped some friends move into a flat across the road, some more people who’ve moved onto our street!

Then we went to Jimmy Chungs for lunch, Natalie loves going here, plus she’s still free as she’s under 3 years old! ;) We then went and bought some new clothes, I’ve needed new trousers for a while and Natalie needed some new clothes more suited for Autumn (Fall!) / Winter (yup, Summer is over! Night’s are drawing in!).

After that I went to the park to meet up with my friend Daryl to check out and document progress on the new outdoor concrete park being built. The park is looking good! Annie and Natalie came and met us at the park and Natalie showed off her new dress and also to play in the play-park too.
I took a few photos and some video clips, they were taken using my phone so the quality isn’t superb due to the light being a bit low.

Natalie in one of her new dresses Natalie in one of her new dresses!

Natalie and Daddy playing on the slide Natalie and Daddy playing on the slide.

Annie and Natalie pose for the camera Mummy and Natalie pose for the camera.

Movie of the sunset.

Natalie on the slide.

The Curran Family Singers!

Well, it’s been over a week since my last blog post. I’ve been pretty busy at work catching up on bits and pieces, starting one or two new projects.

Annie, however, has finally caught the GarageBand bug! I’ve now made my laptop a permanent resident at home and we’ve given the PC we had to some friends. So because we’re now a Mac-only household it’s meant Annie’s been able to spend some time using it to make some music.

‘Flamily’ singing

So, with all this music-making going on we thought we’d record a track especially for the blog, so we now proudly present the first ever track from ‘The Curran Family Singers’! ‘Row-Row’ is our rendition of that famous nursery rhyme, it’s in MP3 format so you should all be able to listen to it.

Row-Row.mp3 (750kb approx)

We hope you enjoy it! (Annie wouldn’t let me keep my voice distorted to sound like a robot so you’ll have to out up with my singing voice!)

‘Flamily’ is how Natalie pronounces ‘Family’ and it’s so cute that it’s hard to discourage or correct her!

Home-Hi-Fi-Heaven

So, with having my Powerbook laptop at home now I wanted to be able to hook it up to my stereo so that we could play all of our music. We put almost all of our CD’s away in boxes recently as we wanted to get rid of our CD towers which were taking up space and which also weren’t big enough to hold it all anyway!

I have all of our music in digital form at work and also on my iPod too, so it made sense to have it at home too. So with the addition of an external hard-drive we’ve now got all of our music (over 5500+ tracks, 30gb, enough music to play for three weeks continuously!) and also our Photo archive (Over 3500 photos at least!) in one place too.

We can now listen to all of our music and it doesn’t take up much space! The only drawback is currently we have to hook the computer up via a really long cable, the next addition will need to be an Airport Express base station that will allow the music to be beamed to the amplifier wirelessly!

Cool, that was family stuff and geek stuff one blog post!

Requests for further songs to be recorded are welcome!

~Rick