Month: March 2007

Our new life

Charlene posted about our one month as Londonites anniversary on her blog the other day (see “A Month of London“). It's hard to believe that we've been here a month, especially when I look at the rubble filled office I'm in, or the rubble filled backyard we have, or the rubble filled garage that currently has about 100 boxes and precisely 0 cars in it, but it's definately a month now.

So what's so good about London anyhow? Well there's loads of things.

Our house in Ajax closed two weeks ago, and that let us pay off all of our debts. No credit card debts, no line of credit, nothing. Everything in our house is paid for now. That was the one thing they didn't tell us about when we bought our first house…we had nothing, and it took a lot of money to get things like fridges, stoves, washers, dryers, dishwashers, air conditioners, couches, chairs, tables, and places to put things.

Then Kaylin came along and we needed cribs and blankets, and strollers, and clothes, and toys (and toys and toys and toys).

It added up, and we built a nice little debt. Not crushing, or paralyzing, but it was a decent amount of debt. It's all gone now. Bye bye debt.

Second is my job. I feel like InfoTech is still new enough that I can make a significant contribution. I also feel like I've found my niche in the department. I'm the official “web guy”.

Everyone else is a software developer, but I never set out to make software, I set out to create web pages. Most of the guys in my department would be just as happy creating an application as they would building a website, but I can't imagine doing anything else. Databases have no use to me unless they're attached to a website, and C# is a means to an end, not an application language of its own to me.

Secretly, sometimes they baffle me with terms like “compile” and “instatiate”, so I turn it around by talking about Box models, beacons and DOM models…mwah ha ha ha ha HA!

Of course the promotion to manager is a big change. I have a couple more people reporting to me than before, and whereas we had a ton of ongoing long term projects at TSN, here at InfoTech it's 2 week chunks of projects. There's a lot more schedule juggling and figuring out who does what when and how long it should take them. Plus if my estimates are off…DISASTER!!!

This weekend the first project that I really spearheaded goes up. We're redoing the home page, and I took the opportunity to hack the home page apart and rebuild it in my image. Clean HTML and CSS…it's a beautiful thing, and just phase one in my evil plan for world domination!

Our lack of debt and my job aren't the only things I love here in London.

My mom and dad are close by, which has meant babysitting (we went and saw a movie last weekend and actually shopped for clothes by ourselves one night!). I have friends in London, Ryan and I try to make it out for lunch once a week, and Kaylin has been out to play with Paige and Cordy a couple of times now.

Best of all is the drive to work (Charlene insists I can't call it a commute because it's less than 10 minutes). I'm so close now that I can come home for lunch, and I've done that a couple of times. In the month that we've been in London I've only missed dinner once, and that was because of a late night at work, but I'm always home by 6:15 at the latest, usually closer to 5:30.

Yep, this London life is a pretty good thing.

Memjet printers…we need these now!!!

I've been in the market for a photo printer for a while. We bought portable ones for both of our parents at Christmas, and I really like the convenience of just being able to have a photo instantly. The other day I read a blurb on Digg about Memjet printers, they're from Silverbrook, a new company out of Australia which holds over 3000 patents on a new inkjet technology. The video of their printers blew me away. The proposed suggested retail price knocked my socks off, and the specs of how much media will cost literally blew my mind (seriously, there is still a stain on the wall from where my head blew up, although I will admit that might have been due to a sneeze).

Check out the first video on this page. The photo printer is one thing, but that large format printer? It's going 6-12″ a second! That's absolutely unbelievable.

The website texyt.com has three different articles up about Silverbrook's Memjet printers, including this little nugget.

Silverbrook has forecast printing costs for the 60 page per minute desktop printer at below $0.02 for black text, and under $0.06 for color pages (with 20 percent ink coverage), according to Lyra Research, which had early access to prototypes.

Holy crap! At those prices photos would probably run about .20 – .30 each, which while more expensive than Costco at .19, is still spectacular! For now I'll wait to see if this technology ever comes out.

Check out the texyt.com articles for the full poop.

Silverbrook's Memjet printer technology available late 2007, company says
Can Silverbrook's amazing 60 page per minute inkjet actually work?
'Astonishing' new inkjet technology – more details revealed

HELP!!! My throat’s on fire

On Sunday I woke up with the chills, and aches and pains all over my body, Monday it felt the same, Tuesday added a new wrinkle of a sore throat (although the aches and pains went away), and by Wednesday the sore throat was killing me (and taking away my voice for periods of time). I searched the internets and found the strangest of cures…cayenne pepper. Was this a case of the cure being worse than the disease? Perhaps.

The recipe I tried was this:
1tsp cayenne pepper
1tsp salt
1cup boiling water

In a mug, pour boiling water over the tsp of cayenne and salt. Let the cayenne pepper steep in the boiling water for about 3-5 minutes (which will allow the water to cool down enough that you can safely gargle with it).

Gargle for 10-15 seconds 5-6 times. Do not gargle the seeds in the bottom, and don't mix up the mixture before gargling, you want the spicy/salty water, and not the seeds themselves.

The first time I did this I stirred everything up and started gargling, little pepper seeds got caught in my throat and I had trouble gargling.

Later that night I tried again by using the steep method (by accident, I was letting the boiling water cool down), and it was much easier to gargle, and I found no difference between the 1st and 2nd times.

I've done this 4 times so far, and I've noticed a major change in my throat.

A rare Hinterland Who’s Who

It's been a pretty busy week with a ton of things on my plate. I'm settling into my new role at InfoTech, which while challenging, is also incredibly exciting. I had agreed to do the IT “Getting to know you” video for the company after last month's video presentation…and it turned out to be a pretty last minute affair due to squeezing our move in during the time frame of the video, but it was a success.

We had a great idea, and broke down what we wanted to do in 5 segments. Opening, comedy, development cycle, process, and closing comments.

The actual writing of the script was a pretty loose affair. We kind of wrote bullet points, and my talented performers did all the magic. We shot it over about 2 hours total in 2 sessions (1 day for a bunch of stuff, a 2nd day for some pick-ups that I realized I needed, and to get the rest of the content done).

I edited a bit of it on Sunday night for about 2 hours, but on Monday night I started around 8pm and set my computer for a final render at 4:30 in the morning. Of course as always happens in the morning I found out I needed to do some minor tweaks so I re-rendered (which takes about 30 minutes on a 5 minute video at DVD quality). Then I made all my requisite back-ups and headed off to work.

It was shown yesterday at the company meeting, and it got a pretty good response. Today I had a few emails and hallway comments which were all incredibly flattering.

My favourite part of the video is the “Hinterland Who's Who” segment which is a parody on the Hinterland Who's Who's that were put out in the late 70's early 80's.

I've never tried this before, so it might completely fail…but here's the Hinterland Who's Who portion for fun. Let me know what you think.

Londoners finally

The internets are back with us (somewhat), and we're getting set up. We're officially Londoners, and after the last several days all I want to do is curl up and sleep for about a week, unfortunately there's no time for that because there's loads to do.

It all started in earnest on Thursday. I took Thursday/Friday off to move last week, and Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday off this week. Thank goodness for that because it's Tuesday now and I'm just starting to feel like a human being again.

On Thursday morning we went to our lawyers to do the final paperwork. It's amazing how quickly you can sign away your life (and the life of your first born). We went back home where we packed a ton of stuff, disassembling various shelves, and packing away the last of the books etc. I even took some time to tear apart my computer on Thursday night. With Kaylin with us things went slowly because let's face it, who can resist hanging out with that crazy little mouse?

Friday we left for London around 11am, and braved a crazy snow storm and several white-out like conditions. At 1:30pm our lawyer called us (while we were outside of Ingersoll) to tell us that the house had closed. By a little after 2pm we were hanging out in our new house, having a delicious picnic lunch of McDonalds on our new living room floor.

Charlene was feeling quite underwhelmed by the house at that point. With no furniture inside for reference, she felt the house was way too small. This house is about 250 square feet smaller, and all of the rooms are a little bit smaller than our Ajax house, but it's still a good size at 1680 sq feet.

Friday night we left Kaylin with my mom and dad, while we went back to Ajax, where we packed into the wee hours, and had a ton of help from Jason and Jill across the street. I honestly couldn't have done any of this without Jason's help, who was awesome helping me carry tons of stuff up and down stairs.

Saturday morning the movers arrived around 9:30am, and Jason and I proceeded to carry more stuff up the stairs (and down the stairs). He and I brought down the king sized bed, and wrapped a ton of furniture.

There was another lovely weather system which meant the movers took from 2pm until about 5pm to get to London. I sent Char over to my mom and dad's to hang out with Kaylin, while my mom sent my dad over here to help me set some stuff up. The movers brought everything inside to the 1st floor, and Ryan, Kari, Paige and Cordellia arrived with delicious cupcakes and an awesome cordless drill (best…drill…ever). We proceeded to move the boxes from the 1st floor to their various homes (basement, office, bedrooms, etc), and I went over to my mom and dad's to see Char and Kaylin.

Char came back here and the two of us crashed out while Kaylin slept at my parents' place. The next morning we unpacked a bunch of stuff (Char the kitchen, while I took care of the office, and living room). We went and picked Kaylin up, who had been having a blast with Grandma and Grampa, and came back home.

Back at ye olde homestead, Ryan came by and helped me to move stuff around in the living room, and we also hooked up the washer, and a few other things.

The days since have been filled with unpacking, unboxing, buying little things (like a fawcett sprayer and a wireless router), fighting with Rogers (which will be the subject of an upcoming post), and making this house our home.

We both love the place now. It feels more intimate than our old home, our Ajax house was a little too big, and a lot of the excess space was wasted. Here things are tighter, more cozy, and the house has the feel of a cottage or a loft…which is ironic because we always wanted to make our Ajax house feel like a lake house.

Tonight before dinner I saw a pair of coyotes in the field behind our house, and at dinner I saw a huge bunny jumping through the field. In 2 years in Ajax all I ever saw in our neighbourhood was geese (loads of them mind you).

PLUS we can drive all over the place here and still be only 15 minutes from home. That is pretty cool.

Well played mother nature…well played

We move in 32 hours. Our house is a shambles of boxes, the chaos making my skin crawl and my teeth literally hurt. The combined stress of a new role at work, a tight deadline, the never ending packing, and the financial circus that we're juggling until the 16th has given me headaches, toothaches , and belly-aches…but it's 32 hours away.

Of course Mother Nature had to get her little giggles in. Last night was a perfect night for driving. I made the 2:15 drive in under 2 hours. I finished up some work (for our tight deadline), and got to bed at about 4am. This morning I woke up around 7, all was well. We went to the lawyers in crisp but clear weather. I gathered up all our garbage and headed to the dump…and as I started filling my dad's truck with all manner of hazzardous debris (I'm only saying that because I KNOW it will drive him insane to think that his truck was carrying a load of anything more dangerous than pillows…and even then they would have to be hypo-allergenic non down type pillows. The man loves his truck), the skies opened and the snow began to drift down.

It was like a cartoon where one minute the world is dry and bare, and the next a 4″ blanket of snow drops all at once.

I made it to the dump, came back home (only an hour and a half, nearly record time…yeah Londoners shut it, “Oh it took me an extra eight minutes to get home tonight”).

I did some more packing and organized the basement, bringing basement stuff to the main floor with my neighbor Jay, to minimize the amount of wear and tear on the house…and then went outside to shovel the drive. As I was loading the truck, this time with a combination of pure rock salt and hydrochloric acid, the freezing rain started.

Now we're not sure if we'll be able to drive to London tomorrow to pick up our keys, and we had planned on leaving the Kegger with my mom and dad. We'll see how the morning looks, but it looks like this round goes to Mother Nature. Well played nature. Well played indeed.