Friday, July 27, 2007

A Geek's Paradise

When Victoria and I moved into our current house there was just her and myself. Our house has three bedrooms so we used the main bedroom for ourselves, I had the second bedroom for an office/server room and the third smallest room was for guests.

Then Alice came along and I was kicked out of the second bedroom and pushed into the smallest room. It was a bit of a squeeze but I managed to fit 2 desks, 4 PC's and 5 monitors in there along with all my network switches/routers etc.

As you all know, Victoria is now pregnant again so guess who is getting kicked out of his nice little room? You guessed it. Me!

So now the problem is what to do with all my servers. I was originally going to shift them into the new shed but as I have not yet bought it and I would have to get power installed to it I am ruling this option out. No, the only place for the servers is under the stairs in the gas/electric meter cupboard.

I'm not meaning the PC Victoria and I use daily goes under the stairs you understand, that is going into the dining room. Just the servers/routers/switches etc will be there.

So, I am upgrading one of my servers to host the other and my firewall as virtual machines, building a large RAID5 disc array from 4x500GB drives giving me 1.5TB of usable redundant storage space. This will go under the stairs with the switch. I will get Kevin the electrician to put CAT5 cable all over the house as he can do it and make it invisible and Bob's your uncle.

I'm looking forward to building my new server. It will be a 3.2 Pentium4, 4GB RAM, 250GB system drive (mirrored), 1.5TB usable drive space (RAID5) running Windows 2003 R2 64bit and Exchange Server 2007. Lovely.

Sometimes it's good to be a geek. :-)

Oh yes, if you either understood any of the technical specs above or were remotely interested in this post, you too are a geek!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Potty Training

This week is potty training week for Alice. After 2.5 years of not worrying about the toilet we decided it was time for a dose of the real world.

The original plan was to use training nappies. These are pull-ups like a normal pair of pants but when Alice goes to the toilet she can feel that they are wet instead of feeling dry like in a normal nappy. She should then feel discomfort without any mess and soon be begging to use the potty. Great plan if it had worked. Every time Alice soiled these training nappies she would happily get a new one, walk up to me or Victoria and say "I've got a wet nappy" while handing us it's replacement.

Plan B: Put Alice in normal cotton pants and when she wees drag her to the potty. We know she hates it when she has little accidents so this was surely going to work.

We have just completed day 2. We went through 11 pairs of pants yesterday and 12 today. I am guessing we have a 40% success rate.

If all is well Alice will pull a face and make a moaning sound while running up to the potty. We then have to quickly pull her pants down and sit her down before she wets her feet.

If things go slightly less well Alice will start urinating and we will have to grab her and drop her on the potty to prevent as much spillage as possible.

If all goes horribly wrong she just lets rip wherever she is standing, normally as far away from the potty as she can be. You can see an example of the latter case in the picture above. Let me tell you the puddle is not water!! :-)

To be fair Alice is getting better. The whole process should take a week and this is only day 2. It is just such an exhausting thing to do as you have to be constantly watching her. Look away for one moment and you will be mopping the floor again. Also remember that I am at work most of the time so it is my poor pregnant wife that is suffering.

All this effort will obviously be worth it, and it has to be done at some point. We can't have her in a happy at 16!! Just remember, if you come round to our house excuse the smell of dettol!

Oh yes, I've not even mentioned her number 2's. Maybe I'll save that for another day. :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Victoria's Facebook Friends

We have all been using Facebook for a couple of months now. Some people think it is a bit crap (me) and some people think it is the best thing ever (everyone else). Soon everyone will get bored with it and see that I am correct. :-)

Victoria finally took the plunge this week and signed up to Facebook. Her cousins are members and she wants to keep up with what they are doing. She also knows most of my friends and has added some of them. Phil and Ryan actually beat her to the punch and added her before she could add them.

Last night Victoria was saying thay she now had several friends on facebook and that she was pleased Ryan added her as a friend.

"Why specifically Ryan" I asked.

"He's my cool friend" she replied.

"What do you mean, what about me?" I said.

"Oh you have never been cool, and most of your friends are a bit geeky" she said. "That is why I'm pleased to have Ryan as a friend as he is cool".

Charming, and I thought I was cool on a par with Johnny Depp!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

British Grand Prix - 6th, 7th and 8th July 2007

I've already written about the Friday practice below so I will now tell you about Qualifying on Saturday and the Race on Sunday.

As we only decided to attend the Friday practice last week we did not have a hotel room booked so we drove to Silverstone and back in a day. This meant an early start for us on Saturday morning and we left the house at about 7am. It's normally only a 1.5 hour journey to Silverstone but 10 miles from the track we hit traffic and were queueing for 2.5 hours before we parked. We were at this point annoyed and frustrated but once we got to the track that all vanished.

We had missed the morning practice session due to the traffic but we got there to watch the Porsche Supercup qualifying followed by the Blue Eagles helicopter display team. The helicopters were a bit rubbish to be honest. It was impressive to see a helicopter do a loop and a barrel roll but to be honest that was about all they did. The Porsche qualifying was much better.

At 1pm the F1 qualifying started. Three sessions of 15 minutes where all the drivers get the opportunity to do their fastest laps, with the slowest drivers being eliminated until there are just 10 left for the final session. The last session is the one that counts and all the drivers really push the cars. It looked like Raikkonen was going to get pole position and Hamilton (our hero) was only going to be 4th, when 30 seconds from the end of the session he did the fastest lap. It was very exciting and I think all 95,000 people there cheered at once. There were air horns and cheers following Hamilton round the track after the lap and he seemed very happy with his performance.

After qualifying we left the track to find our hotel which was in Bicester, about 15 miles away.

As we had experienced traffic jam hell getting to the circuit on Saturday morning we decided that an early start was required for the Sunday. For this reason we set the alarm for an unhealthy 05:30!! It's a good job I didn't have much to drink on the Saturday evening or it could have been ugly!

We arrived at Silverstone at about 06:30, went round the roundabout and were directed away from the circuit to a field about 2 miles away!!!! We didn't realise they would be filling the far distant car parks first and now had a 2 mile walk to the track!!! Not a good start!!!

Once we reached Silverstone we grabbed a bite to eat and found a place to watch the race. We were at the end of Club corner and raised up enough to see over the fence so I could get nice photographs without the fences getting in the way. It is here that we sat from 07:30 until the race started at 1pm. We had to do this as if we moved our place would have been instantly filled by someone else. It's a good job we were early!

You may think that it would have been boring to sit there for so long but no. There was plenty to watch. First we had the GP2 race. These are the class below Formula 1 and although they are very fast they smell like fireworks. The racing was good though and one of the drivers was Bruno Senna, nephew of the late great Ayrton Senna.

Next came the Porsche GT Supercup. Again, very exciting racing which was won by a Brit. All good stuff.

We then had a display by the Red Arrows. I have not seen the Red Arrows since I was a small boy and Victoria and I were really impressed by them. It was very exciting and much better than the Blue Eagles.

At 11:30 we had the drivers parade lap. All the drivers stand on the back of a lorry and get driven round the track. It's about the only time you get to actually see more than their helmets and gloved hands.

The time waiting for the F1 race also flew by because of the great atmosphere. There were people from different countries, supporting different drives and teams and all getting on really well, taking the piss out of each other in a good natured way and just generally enjoying the experience.

Finally, 1pm arrived and the start of the race. After the warm up lap......Massa stalled on the grid so we had another warm up lap, but after that the race was off.

Unless you have even actually heard an F1 car for real you can't possible understand how loud they are, and when you hear 22 of them all going past you at full speed on the first lap you will be in much pain unless you have earplugs in. It's an amazing experience. You first hear a distant whine which gets louder and louder as the cars get closer. When they pass you the ground shakes and even though you are wearing earplugs you can feel you clothes and your body vibrate because of the noise. Even with earplugs the cars are loud. Probably as loud as you would imagine they are if you had only seen them on TV. They are of course much louder than you think.

Hamilton lead the race until his first pit stop, after which Raikkonen got past him and went on to win the race. Personally I think they used the wrong types for Hamilton's car. It would have been nice if Hamilton had won but it didn't really spoil the day. The experience of being at Grand Prix can't be spoiled just because your favourite driver does not win.

We left after the Grand Prix. The journey home took approx 3 hours which was not too bad really.

Victoria and I really enjoyed the whole weekend. If Victoria was not pregnant we would have already booked our seats for next year. We can't leave a six month old child with our parents though so we will be going the year after. We think we will go for the grandstand seats next time. You don't get to see as much racing but you do get the start, finish, pit stops and the podium.

Going to a Grand Prix is an amazing experience. Even if you do not particularly like motor sport (and don't mind spending at least £99 on a ticket!!) I would recommend you go at least once in your life. I guess it's like going to a world cup final except F1 is more fun!! :-)

I took 587 photographs over the weekend. The cars go past so quickly that I was firing off 3 or 4 every time one went by just to make sure I got a good one. I have since whittled them down to 167 which is more reasonable! I they are all on Flickr and you can see them here.

I also uploaded four short videos to YouTube which you can watch here, here, here and here.

Oh yes, I forgot to say, I'm so lucky to have a wife that loves Formula 1 as much as I do. :-)

Friday, July 06, 2007

British Grand Prix - Friday Practice

As most of you will already know as I have been going on about it for months, this weekend Victoria and I are at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. Well, Friday practice is over and Lewis Hamilton is the fastest. Let's hope he keeps up the good work over the weekend!

Victoria and I arrived at Silverstone at about 10:30. There was a little traffic but nothing too bad. We made our way to the nearest stand (Abbey) and watched the incredible F1 cars fly past up. Victoria was so excited at this point she was nearly in tears. :-) I'm so pleased she is enjoying the weekend.

We then decided to walk round the circuit. As we had roaming grandstand tickets for the Friday it meant we could try out all seating options and decide where was best. We only had the 'General' tickets so today would be the only time we could enter most places so we used the opportunity to see where we would like to be in the future if we decided to spend more than £99 on a ticket.

The first place we tried was Stowe corner and it was crap! The tickets were twice the price of ours and you were 3 times as far from the cars as we were and they were blocked by fencing. Becket's was no better, being miles from the track but at least covered. They only seats we liked were the pit lane grandstand which cost £250 per ticket. Maybe next year. ;-)

So, after walking around the entire track we decided to watch the qualifying and the race from Abbey corner, which is where we started. :-)

We had a fantastic first day and I have LOADS of pics but I have no time to sort, tidy and upload them so I have just done one, the picture of Lewis Hamilton above. There will be MANY more if you are interested.

I''ll try to post again tomorrow (we have wireless in our hotel room) and I will obviously do a proper post after the weekend when all the pics are uploaded.

If you watch the race look out for us on Abbey!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fantastic News!!! Victoria Is Pregnant!!!

Yes, it's true, Victoria and I are going to have a second child. After several miscarriages and trying for the past year it's finally happening. As you can imagine we are VERY happy!!!

We went for a reassurance scan about a month ago as we wanted to make sure everything was OK and we saw the heartbeat, but we wanted to be 100% sure things were right before we told anyone.

This afternoon we went for the 12 week dating scan and everything was looking good. The baby was measured and we were given a due date of the 18th January. You can see the scan here on the right. The previous scan can be seen here.

We are so happy about this as you can imagine. Obviously it is vitally important that we have a boy this time or I will be outnumbered 3 to 1. As for names for a boy I was thinking Picard, or Muad'Dib or Optimus Prime. Tell me what you think. :-)

More news and pics as and when.....

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

More Chilli News

These bad boys are growing fast as you can see from the picture on the right. This is the same chilli that was pictured in my previous post.

There are more pics here and here.

Victoria and I are wanting to try these chilli's but we are not sure when to harvest. We have heard that they can grow to be about 6-8 inches long and that they eventually turn red. Does anyone know if this is true? Is there anyone out there with chilli growing experience?

Get in touch if you have any info that would help us.

Stay tuned for more exciting chilli based news!

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