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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Thursday, 22 June 2006

kitchen tables, gardens, football and work...

New kitchen tablesIt's been a busy busy week so far... there's no such thing as boredom where we live!

My only day off work this week has been Tuesday - and what a day... we've bought a new pair of kitchen tables (the old one's a bit impractical) and carried out the next stage of the garden. Hopefully the pebbles (and forthcoming bench and planters) will provide an attractive place to sit out; we've also covered the upper tiers with black plastic to inhibit growth of weeds, so we can ultimately turn it into a little vegetable bed or something.

We want to clear the patio after that - there's an overgrown hedge that needs cutting right back, and then we'll put up a fence, to more clearly define the side and make it a more pleasant (and buzzy insect-free) place to sit out. That's a couple of months away, though, perhaps.. when I've got my breath back!

chavflags!The football's been an excellent listen on the coach home, but so far I've managed to sit through all the England matches, for what they're worth; it's always deeply disturbing viewing.. it's not in their style to win with confidence! (And no... that's not my car)!

At work, I'm still working on groovy spreadsheets (of doom) - I'm undecided whether to integrate it with MySQL (which would require its own installation) and Microsoft SQL (of which we have quite a few servers).

The weekend's approaching, though - a day of shopping and tidying tomorow, followed by a visit to friends in the afternoon.. then my podcast partner Trev's coming down to attend the last day of the Wireless festival with me.. I'm quite looking forward to an afternoon of music, but I've got work on Monday - it comes round so soon!

Link of the day:

  • zwok-game.com/en_GB : This game comes with an addiction warning; it's "Worms" meets Tanks, and is interactive with other players. Brilliant (as ever, I'm syzygy).

Posted by james at 10:09 PM

Friday, 16 June 2006

clearance...

dejunglification - part 1There are few better ways to prepare for an England match than by spending the day doing something useful - Beth and I made a start taming on the jungle outside the back of our house. It was the perfect weather for it - dry but not too sunny; we took two and a half 'Hippo' bags of green waste to the tidy tip, as our contribution to Luton's recycling figures.

The plan is to populate the lower expanse with pebbles, potplants and a bench; we'll cover the second bed for a while to kill off all the old growth, and then (hopefully) cultivate some vegetables, and put some little purple flowers by the patio at the top.

Then, it'll be time to work our way up the garden, hacking down the brambles and clearing some of the overgrown hedges and trees. More on that when we get round to it!

As promised, below (and in the gallery) are a couple of photos of Lenni's sports day; you'll also see my first ever submission to YouTube - a video of Eleanor's running race. I don't think I'd get away with putting the "Mum's race" on-line... it was almost frightening to see twenty or so women approaching at high-speed. Beth took part, despite protestations - and didn't come last! There's no footage of the Dad's race, which is a shame, because at least three of the men hurtled into the hedge at the end of the small field where the games were taking place. It was most amusing.

Lenni at her pre-school sports day  Lenni at her pre-school sports day

And that's about it - I've got a busy six days of work ahead (Tuesday's the only day off between now and Thursday) coming up, and the weekend after that is the pre-school fete and the Wireless Festival... busy, busy life!

Link of the day:


Posted by james at 9:00 AM

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

too hot, homely Excel-lence

I've been back to work for a couple of days, and it's been hot hot hot! The rain came, though, so although it's still quite humid, the air is fresher and our air-conditioning free office is a little more tolerable.

One of the jobs I've had to do at work is to sort out how many engineers we'll have once all the contractors and attachees have gone away - we have a 'rota template' spreadsheet, but I wanted to add some automation to it, so that I could make sure there was consistent coverage and each engineer did their full hours.

There's a brilliant introduction to worksheet automation and some really handy excel scripts at www.cpearson.com/excel/ExcelPages.htm - it's turned my Spreadsheet of Doom into a Quite Whizzy Spreadsheet of Doom.

Lenni had her pre-school sports day this morning - photos to come - and now we're relaxing before popping up (as is customary on a Wednesday) to visit Lenni's great-grandparents for the afternoon.

mac bits

My big brother Pete was fortunate enough to win tickets to the England vs Sweden game in Germany in just under a week's time. To add a bit of a twist, he's decided to hitch there, dressed as a lion... you can sponsor him online (and in doing so, support the British Red Cross).

Link of the day:

  • www.searsarchives.com/homes : I had no idea that, in the early 20th Century (seems like a long time ago writing it like that!) an American shop called Sears sold flat-packed homes which you could pick from a catalogue. What a brilliant idea! Apparently, there are lots still standing today, since the timber and fixings were well-constructed. Can we say the same for Ikea these days? Perhaps when Christopher or Lenni's grandchildren are writing their blogs in the early 22nd Century, we'll find out!

Posted by james at 1:13 PM

Friday, 9 June 2006

websickness (or something)

It's been a strange, warm, busy kind of week - unfortunately I had to take my first day and a bit off work this year, having a sore-throat and general malaise yesterday; I'm not feeling quite so bad today, since I've managed at least to catch up with my sleep (ten o'clock bedtimes are good for that!)

The World Cup starts today... I'm not really fussed if England don't win (I've pulled out Tunisia and Brazil in the two sweepstakes I've entered) - it's the quality of the football that I'm looking forward to.

webserver update
Finally, chunter has been decommissioned - pip is now running all the software that's needed. The last in the list was a fairly straightforward installation of the squid proxy and the excellent Dansguardian parental filter. This is made all the more essential now Christopher's becoming very web-wise, and likes to type all manner of things into Google!

Making the Mac's email server work is still frustrating me. I was on a loser trying to install Cyrus-imapd (using the version in Darwinports, which would have been the simplest solution, since it's the same as chunter used. Instead, I've installed the imap-uw thing - it's in, but I can't get it started.

The usual "inet" services aren't used by OSX these days; it's been replaced by launchd. There's a useful application called Lingon available to help, and I think I've created a reasonable-looking imap.plist file but it gives a nsaty error when I try and get it working. This is because 'TCP wrappers' support (which obviously IMAP needs to communicate with the server in general) works through something called launchproxy, via the following command:

/usr/libexec/launchproxy /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/imap4.plist

This doesn't work, though - when I type it in myself, it says:

launchproxy[11757]: No FDs found to answer requests on!

Even Google doesn't know much about this. Is it a firewall thing? Why's it broken? I think we should be told. For now, though, I'll keep using the Mac's fairly basic Mail client...

Finally, to the website. You'll doubtless have spotted that it's looking kinda basic at the moment. I'd frankly had enough of constant hacking by various Turkish ne'er-do-wells, so I'm evaluating other content management systems (an open-source application called Joomla has been recommended by Trev). It'll be back soon - honest!

Posted by james at 3:54 PM

Tuesday, 6 June 2006

half-term away...

The Fat controller and usWe've had a few lovely days away - we took the car on a trip down the M3 (and back up again a few times) to the seaside, visit some of Beth's relatives and generally get away from it all.

We were really fortunate to enjoy A Day Out With Thomas at Eastleigh's Lakeside Railway, with Gordon, Henry and Thomas trains taking us on trips around the picturesque lake.

After a warm night sharing a hotel room in Winchester (poor Lenni's had a cough for the past couple of weeks, bless 'er) we took a drive through the New Forest to Milford-on-sea for an hour or so at the seaside before taking a trip into Verwood to visit Beth's great-aunt Marian.

The time went so quickly - it was no time before we were awake and heading back up the motorway home. The weekend was just starting, though, and the children had www.swim4.co.uk swimming lessons at the local school.

I've updated the gallery with some of the photos of our trip.

On Sunday, we took the children for the first time this year (practically!) to Ashridge for a picnic - the perfect way to finish off the weekend!

So it's back to work again - it'll be a long week, but I'm really looking forward to the World Cup.

world cup fever

  • www.fantasyfacup.com/worldcup : I heard about World Cup Predictor on a new podcast - The World Cup Cast, five minute shorts on various aspects of this year's competition. It's free to enter, and you could win $1000 if you get it all right (or something!) It's a bit of fun - you can see my (fairly guesswork-based!) predictions here.
  • www4.cd-wow.com/footy_predictor.php : CD-Wow has a fun football predictor game - again, free to enter and with virtual vouchers to be won. This is slightly more time-intensive to pursue, though, since every day the matches change, but worth doing, I'd say!

Posted by james at 1:14 PM


 
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