“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??!!!!!


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://qreate.co.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!!!



Geek stuff, Web 2.0, interesting music…

I was watching TV tonight and saw the Orange advert with this unusual music track on it, I googled a few of the words of the song and found out it was a track by Joanna Newsom, a quick trip to the iTunes Music store and I bought the album. It’s called ‘The Milk-Eyed Mender’, you can follow this link to go straight to it in the iTunes Music store, you’ll need iTunes installed to do so of course. Nice album, very quirky sound but I like it.

Apart from listening to music (and updating this blog!) I have been reading a lot of stuff about what has been termed ‘Web 2.0’. What’s Web 2.0 you ask? well, that’s what lot’s of other people are asking too! I’ve been asked to speak at an event called Creative Exchange in Perth next week and I’ve decided that this will be (at least part anyway) the subject of my talk.

Basically Web 2.0 is about the new generation of internet based application, or Rich Internet Applications as they’re known. Web 2.0 refers to the development of the World Wide Web from simply being a collection of websites that can / may link to one another to becoming more like an operating system in itself. Web 2.0 Applications move away from simply being web-browser based content to being separate software applications that draw functionality as well as content from the internet.

Many websites have ways that allow you to tap into the content or functionality that they provide, Google for instance has methods by which you can search their extensive database and pull the information back into the application requesting it. Many News websites offer you the ability to subscribe to their content using RSS feeds, these can be linked into an application to provide up-to-date information. Another characteristic of Web 2.0 RIA’s is that of being Social applications, linking users to one another, communities based not just around websites as in Web 1.0 but within desktop software applications too.

So, there’s a very brief glimpse of some Web 2.0 thoughts. I’ve set up an account on Del.icio.us (A Social bookmarking site!) with some interesting stuff about Web 2.0 in case anybody feels like reading more, it’s definitely something I’m paying attention to as a web developer / designer. My Del.icio.us site is http://del.icio.us/wideopenspace/web2.0

As one of my old college tutors used to say, ‘Interesting stuff, interesting stuff.’ ;)



Well, what’s been happening? I’ve just been working away on some other projects that have been on the back-burner due to TheBigProject? I was working on.

Helped my friend Daryl get a site up and running for the new outdoor concrete skatepark being built in Dundee. DundeeConcrete.com is the address, it’s another site based on my Blog engine so it’s good to get another site using it. The site has some construction progress shots on it which is the main reason for using the Blog engine for it.

My friend Alyn has just started VideoBlogging on his Blog site too, so go and check that out, the first episode is about a trip to Texas he and his wife AJ made recently. Pretty interesting, plus Alyn plans to end each one with a card trick! Check it out. We’re planning on getting a vBlog together soon to so watch this space!

For the geeky bit today I present Microsoft’s poor attempt to be cool and innovative, MicrosoftGadgets.com. As Apple said in 2004, “Redmond, start your photcopiers“!!!

Well, that’s about it for now, I’ll end with a picture of my beautiful daughter on the day she got new shoes!

Yay! New Shoes!

Done, dusted, delivered.

Yep, the big job I’ve been working on is now finished, the only problem we had was trying to upload a Toast file of the finished hybrid CD to the client’s FTP server, so we had to send it express mail instead. It’s good to have it finished and the client is happy with it too, nice.

To celebrate getting it finished I gave Annie an iPod Shuffle to say thanks for putting up with my general stressed, tired, absent self whilst working on this project. She was happy as I know she’s wanted an iPod for a while, it’s good to have a happy wife ;)

Well, in order to counter-act the general geeky nature of this blog so far (I did warn it would be like this!) here’s some family pictures (I’ll add stuff about CSS, PHP, XHTML and other acronyms another time!).

Nat, Mom, Dad, Cake. Nat, Mom, Dad and Cake. My birthday, 27/08/05.

Nat and Daddy read a book Nat and Daddy read a book.

Nat and Pooh Natalie and Pooh bear. (I think Pooh was talking too much!)

Well, that’s all for this post, oh, apart from one last bit of geekiness. I’ve been trying out the new Firefox 1.5 Beta and it’s pretty good, you can drag tabs to re-arrange them which is pretty useful. Also, for Apple Mac users like myself it’s good news as keyboard commands like up/down arrows for scrolling pages work now too, it generally feels more responsive too. Anyway, good night!


More progress, Geek talk about my project

Yep, did a little work on the layout of the site so it’s looking a little bit better. A bit more tweaking to do, plus I haven’t checked it in IE on windows so I’m not certain it’s all sitting the way it should, I’ll get round to checking it soon.

So, what else? making good progress on the Flash/Director project I’m working on, hopefully get that all finished on Thursday and get it sent to the client for final approval, it’s been a tough job with quite a few challenges. It’s one thing to get up to speed on new software but it’s another thing to deal with unexpected bugs / glitches, it’s been one issue after another on this job.

I said I’d talk about this project so I might as well start, the project is a piece of software that is used to choose and assemble individual PDF pages and assemble them into books. The framework for the software is made up of Director MX 2004 and uses a Flash MX 2004 movie as the main interface aspect. It also uses Tabuleiro’s Arca database Xtra and Integration New Media’s Impressario Xtra for PDF processing.

One of the biggest issues I faced (right near the end of the project!) was a weird issue with a Flash movie with several MM listbox components running inside the Director projector running on Win XP. I had no problems in any other OS, Win 98 / 2000, Mac OSX/OS9. The application would freeze when clicking on a listbox item, I figured out that it only happened on machines with slower processors running XP which is why I hadn’t spotted it as my main test PC was obviously able to cope.

There was no solution other than to change the listboxes, so I bought a set of Ghostwire Studios components and they fixed the problem. The only drawback was that it meant I had to recode a fair bit as they don’t share the exact same API as the Macromedia components set, however, they’re more lightweight and don’t cause the problem!

It’s been good working with Director again, I haven’t used it much for years so it was interesting getting into it again. It was weird working with Flash inside of it as it meant using a mixture of Flash Actionscript and Director’s Lingo syntax, plus Director lets you use Javascript syntax too now so there’s so many ways to do things, it get’s kind of confusing though!

Well, I’m going to leave it there, time to go and sleep! Oh yeah, I did say this was a place for me to geek out!


Get your blog on…

Well, finally I’m going to start blogging, I’ve had this site sitting here for ages but hadn’t got round to doing anything about it. It still needs a visual identity but I thought I’d just get on with posting anyway.

So what’s my blog about? well, topics will revolve about the things I’m interested in, it’s part technology blog (web development, graphic design), part family diary (photos, stories) and just a place for me to write about what I’m thinking about, it’s as much for my own enjoyment as for anybody else to read.

Suburbia is definitely a place for me to geek out though! Currently I’m working on some development using Flash / Director and it’s raised a lot of challenges, so I’m hoping to throw in some of my experiences there.

Also, the actual blog engine running this site is one of my own projects so I’ll be actively developing that more over the next few months. You can see another couple of blogs based on it, www.musthavemore.com, which is my friend Alyn’s blog and also www.dundeeconcrete.com which is a blog site documenting the construction progress of a concrete skatepark being built in Dundee just now.

So, that’s it for this first blog post, next step is sort it out visually and get it looking better.