Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'personal'


Happy Birthday, Aq

Today (well technically the 30th) Stuart ‘Aq’ Langridge enters yet another decrepit year on his prolonged marathon of bothering us all. Not long now and he will be fully fossilized. I am not sure what an angry ginger fossil looks like, but I am pretty sure it is hilarious.

I first met Aq in 1999 at the Linux User Group I formed in Wolverhampton. Since then we have been the best of friends. We have weathered changing companies, moving countries, setting up businesses, various relationships, trying to sell houses, and spent approximately a third of our lives trying to outfox each other in debates (of which many of you may have overheard on Bad Voltage, LugRadio, and Shot Of Jaq).

At every step of the way in my life Aq has been there. He has been a friend in the truest sense of the word; he has motivated me, inspired me, told me when I am being an idiot, and kept me focused on the most important things in life. When I moved to California I was really genuinely worried we would drift apart as friends, but I am delighted that we are as close as we have ever been.

As such, I for one am thankful that approximately 125 years ago he was born on this day.

Tonight I expect to read tweets as he celebrates, complaining about terrible music and the overly frothy head on his pint, while hypothesizing on yet another computer to buy that isn’t a Thinkpad. Oh, and liking ridiculous yellow sports cars. And thinking Fear Of The Dark is Iron Maiden’s best album. Irrespective, it is a worthy celebration.

Thanks, comrade, for everything. :-)

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David Murphy (schwuk)

Although I still use my desktop replacement (i.e., little-to-no battery life) for a good chunk of my work, recent additions to my setup have resulted in some improvements that I thought others might be interested in.

For Christmas just gone my wonderful wife Suzanne – and my equally wonderful children, but let’s face it was her money not theirs! – bought me a HP Chromebook 14. Since the Chromebooks were first announced, I was dismissive of them, thinking that at best they would be a cheap laptop to install Ubuntu on. However over the last year my attitudes had changed, and I came to realise that at least 70% of my time is spent in some browser or other, and of the other 30% most is spent in a terminal or Sublime Text. This realisation, combined with the improvements Intel Haswell brought to battery life made me reconsider my position and start seriously looking at a Chromebook as a 2nd machine for the couch/coffee shop/travel.

I initially focussed on the HP Chromebook 11 and while the ARM architecture didn’t put me off, the 2GB RAM did. When I found the Chromebook 14 with a larger screen, 4GB RAM and Haswell chipset, I dropped enough subtle hints and Suzanne got the message. :-)

So Christmas Day came and I finally got my hands on it! First impressions were very favourable: this neither looks nor feels like a £249 device. ChromeOS was exactly what I was expecting, and generally gets out of my way. The keyboard is superb, and I would compare it in quality to that of my late MacBook Pro. Battery life is equally superb, and I’m easily getting 8+ hours at a time.

Chrome – and ChromeOS – is not without limitations though, and although a new breed of in-browser environments such as Codebox, Koding,, and Cloud9 are giving more options for developers, what I really want is a terminal. Enter Secure Shell from Google – SSH in your browser (with public key authentication). This lets me connect to any box of my choosing, and although I could have just connected back to my desk-bound laptop, I would still be limited to my barely-deserves-the-name-broadband ADSL connection.

So, with my Chromebook and SSH client in place, DigitalOcean was my next port of call, using their painless web interface to create an Ubuntu-based droplet. Command Line Interfaces are incredibly powerful, and despite claims to the contrary most developers spending most of their time with them1. There are a plethora of tools to improve your productivity, and my three must-haves are:

With this droplet I can do pretty much anything I need that ChromeOS doesn’t provide, and connect through to the many other droplets, linodes, EC2 nodes, OpenStack nodes and other servers I use personally and professionally.

In some other posts I’ll expand on how I use (and – equally importantly – how I secure) my DigitalOcean droplets, and which “apps” I use with Chrome.

  1. The fact that I now spend most of my time in the browser and not on the command-line shows you that I’ve settled into my role as an engineering manager! :-) ?

The post HP Chromebook 14 + DigitalOcean (and Ubuntu) = Productivity appeared first on David Murphy.

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Just started a new antibiotic called rifampicin. Getting an immediate and very powerful herx from it. Looking forward to another two week headache… :-/

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The daily grind


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Later this year Erica and I are having our five year anniversary. I can’t quite believe that five years have passed since we said I do, and we couldn’t be happier. Consequently, we are going to renew our vows and have a bit of a gathering.

The gathering is in late September and as such I want to ensure that Erica is renewing her vows with the same approximately-shaped guy. As such, I have spent the last three weeks or so focusing on losing some pounds. Now, I don’t really consider myself particularly overweight, but I have definitely put on some pounds since we got married, and my goal is to lose the 15lb or so.

Interestingly, we have discussed weight and health at a few previous Ubuntu Developer Summits, and I know that unfortunately a lot of folks in our community suffer from weight issues and challenges, so I thought it might be useful to share some tips I have learned about getting fitter. This might provide some food for thought for getting in shape too.

Now, to be clear, I hate exercise. I don’t like working out, I can’t stand gyms, and I also don’t want to live a monastic life in which I don’t get to enjoy my hobbies of smoking large chunks of meat for hours on end and having a few drinks with friends at the weekend. So, I wanted to put a plan in place to lose the weight while also maintaining a sense of normality with these aspects of my life.

I keep things pretty simple. I work out for 45 minutes a day on an elliptical trainer at home and I watch my calories during the week. I try to make sure I am eating at least 500 fewer calories than I need to maintain my current weight – this gets me onto a 1lb/week drop. At weekends I don’t go crazy, but I eat and drink pretty much what I want, and exercise at least once at the weekend.

To track this I have found the Fitbit One fitness tracker invaluable for showing how many steps I have travelled each day, how many calories I have burned, and helping to keep on track with my goals (at least 40mins of active exercise a day). I also use the Fitbit Area scale that automatically sends my weight to the Fitbit website, so I can see any progress that I am making. Unfortunately there is no Ubuntu or other Linux client for the Fitbit products, so I need to use the iPad to sync the data (some Android devices are supported too, but very few).

So here are some tips I have learned:

  • Pick a good time to work out. I used to do this in the evenings, but by the time I finish work at 7pm, get Jack to bed, eat dinner, and finish digesting dinner, it was often too late. I switched this to 4pm and I have been able to maintain my daily exercise routine without running out of time.
  • Find a calorie calculator (such as this) and figure out how many calories you need to eat to lose the pounds. As an example, I need 3000 cals to maintain current weight, so I shoot for 2500 a day to lose weight. Count up your food and try to keep it under your target. Some people track their food in Fitbit, but I can’t be bothered with that, so I just count it in my head.
  • Exercise is not about the time you spend doing it, but (a) making sure you sweat, and (b) making sure you get breathless at different times in your workout. I like variable resistant workouts such as on the elliptical where it simulates running up and down hills. It feel like I get much more out of my 45mins. Do whatever exercise you want, but I do the elliptical as it is (a) conveniently located in my house, (b) doesn’t involve going out and getting cancelled by weather, (c) lets me watch TV, and (d) doesn’t involve too much pressure on my ankles, like running does.
  • As I say, I hate exercise, so I watch Netflix and Amazon Prime on my tablet. I find this essential; anything to take my mind of working out and staring at the clock helps. This keeps me entertained, gives me a chance to watch the movies and shows I enjoy, and makes the time pass.
  • Learn to mentally set goals when working out. As an example, the other day I was tired after 20mins into my work out. I then mentally pushed myself to 30mins without stopping. I made it. Then I mentally pushed myself to 40mins. This is not only something you feel proud of in that workout session, but it gives you a renewed sense of determination.
  • Bear in mind that when you weight yourself your weight fluctuates, so don’t get disheartened. Always weigh yourself in the morning and then compare weights every Sunday. You should start seeing it drop off.

I hope this helps, and I am happy to answer any questions in the comments. :-)

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My parents came out to visit this week and I took a week off work to spend with them. We had not seen them for 18 months in person (pregnancy and babies make travel to England rather challenging), but we Skype video-chat pretty regularly. It was the first time they were meeting Jack and they absolutely fell in love with him. The feeling was definitely mutual on the baby side of the bargain.

It was a fantastic week. We took a weekend trip to Tahoe, had an evening with Erica’s dad and her brother and his girlfriend, another evening with Erica’s mum and step-dad, and of course, plenty of time with them with Erica, Jack and I.

They left to go back home today.

This afternoon I have felt rather empty; I miss them both.

I am tremendously thankful for my life, and thankful every day for my beautiful wife and baby, and my wonderful British, American, and Italian families. I knew I would feel this way when they left, but an awesome week with my family was well worth it for a shitty few days missing them.

Sometimes the empty moments just make you realize how full your life really is.

Mum and dad, I love you both, and can’t wait to see you in September. :-)

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I have a theory (I know, I am full of them). Like most of you, as I have gotten older I have also tried to improve as a person. I am not just talking about being better at what I do with my career and hobbies, but I want to be a genuinely good person across the board; a good husband, father, son, friend, colleague, and dude who you bump your shopping cart into when buying milk. My theory is that people fundamentally improve by (a) making mistakes and (b) understanding and learning from those mistakes to not only prevent making the mistake again, but to also uncover the cause and effect of why the mistake was made, thus improving your life.

Now, the (probably illogical) logical continuation of my theory is that to make improvements (a) you need to make more mistakes (which opens up the opportunity for learning), and (b) you need to develop CSI-like capabilities in assessing those mistakes and their root causes. Continuing the theme, if we can figure out ways to identify ways of triggering making more mistakes in a way that doesn’t get you arrested and we can identify ways to help us understand why we screw up the way we do, we should have a golden ticket for rocking our lives. Incidentally, this theory was boiled in my head while driving out to pick up Thai food on Saturday night, so this is no Einstein’s Theory Of Relativity in terms of completeness.

While I am rather thin on the ground in terms of what is the next logical part of my theory, I suspect that the way in which we invite more none-life-threatening mistakes is to break out of our molds and take more risks; if we never take chances, we lower the opportunity for risk and mistakes, but also lower the opportunity for learning. Likewise, for the latter understanding our mistakes part I suspect the key is not figuring out ways to prevent the mistake (“I got angry and shouted at my dog today so I will try to keep my cool”) but more about understanding the cause of the mistake (“I am stressed from work and bringing that stress home and taking it out on people and animals”). Much as I love dogs, the goal here is not to stop shouting at the dog but to repair the root cause. So I ask you, dear friends, does my theory wash with you, and if so, how can we increase the number of mistakes and the quality of our self-assessment of those mistakes?

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I’ve been experiencing bad headaches all week and today’s is awful.  I don’t know if it’s the drugs starting to work and causing a herx or if I just have a headache from the disease. 400mg of Ibuprofen 2.5 hours ago hasn’t helped much :(

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Living with Lyme

Slow killer.

Slow killer.

I am writing this blog post because I want to raise awareness of an increasingly common condition across the world.  This is my history leading up to my recent discovery.

After many years of thinking something was wrong with me and not knowing whether I was crazy or just imagining things, I was recently diagnosed with Lyme Disease.  It is a horrible disease with myriad symptoms (I have about 90% of those listed) that are easily misdiagnosed by doctors.  The disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia and is transmitted through tick bites.  Not everyone realises that they’ve had a tick bite and certainly I don’t remember one.

It started with chest pains

I originally visited a doctor a couple of years ago because I was getting a lot of chest pain.  After a short time using a portable ECG monitor he diagnosed me with Atrial Ectopic Beats, a supposedly harmless but sometimes debilitating condition, and I certainly felt debilitated every time my heart started palpitating.  His diagnosis led him to prescribe beta-blockers to help prevent the extra beats that were occurring in my heart.  Needless to say, it didn’t really help me and left me feeling generally worse as my heart was now unable to pump blood at any rate required above doing minimal exercise.  I took myself off these because I felt that I’d rather deal with the occasional chest pain than feel awful 24 hours a day.

The first discovery – pericarditis

Over the next year the condition sporadically got worse and I started getting really sharp pains in my chest.  After a few trips to hospital in the back of an ambulance I was fortunate enough to find a cardiologist who was prepared to do some more investigations rather than brushing things under the rug.  He scheduled me for a Stress Echocardiogram which basically entails ultrasound imaging of your heart before and after running on a treadmill while hooked up to an ECG print.  The upshot of this exam was that my heart was fine, but I was now diagnosed with a new condition called pericarditis.

Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium – the sac that surrounds your heart – and is responsible for causing the palpitations.  I had about 7mm of fluid trapped between my heart and my pericardium.  My initial reaction to this was one of relief.  ”Great!” I thought, now we can treat it.  I was prescribed a course of a medicine called colchicine.  It is usually used to treat gout, but is also known to specifically treat pericarditis quite effectively.

Treatment, but still getting worse

One month after starting to take the colchicine I felt no difference in my symptoms at all.  This left me feeling a little depressed, especially since I’ve been experiencing increasing symptoms and took myself to hospital yet again as I was worried about having a cardiac tamponade, which is fatal if not treated quickly.  I went back to the cardiologist to see what else I could do.  He prescribed me some powerful steroids – immuno-suppressants – the intention being to stop my body from reacting to whatever it disliked that was causing the inflammation around my heart.

At this point I was at rock bottom – the idea of being on steroids to control the condition filled me with dread.  I have previously taken topical steroids for skin conditions and I am all too aware of their nasty side effects.  So, I made a decision to start being more proactive in helping myself and set out to learn more about this condition called pericarditis.

The second discovery

After a bit of Googling I found this pericarditis support group. It was quite reassuring to find a bunch of other people who were going through the same thing as me, although still fairly depressing that many people were either stuck on steroids or just learning to live with the pain.  Eventually I came across this post entitled “Lyme Disease Checklist” – I had never heard of this Lyme thing before so I clicked through and started reading.

What I read in that post has been life-changing.

It was immediately apparent to me that I ticked nearly all of the boxes on the checklist.  It made me realise that things that had been niggling me in the back of my head were actually real and that this could finally be an underlying cause for all of my symptoms.  These are symptoms that are going back for some years now – I had thought that perhaps I was just getting old and some mental faculties were waning as my short-term memory and concentration levels had been bad and getting worse, and suffering from severe fatigue and getting joint pains.  It turns out I can blame it all on Lyme Disease.

Finding a doctor

At this point I realised that my cardiologist was not going to be able to help with this, so I set out to find someone who could.  The support group postings had been very clear about one thing: finding a doctor is not easy.  It seems as though there ‘s a lot of controversy about Lyme and finding a Lyme literate doctor is essential.  This appears to be particularly hard here in Australia as there’s severe resistance to belief that it can be caught here (I caught mine elsewhere though) as it is seen as a northern hemisphere problem.  I discovered the Lyme Disease Association of Australia who put me on to a doctor 2 hours north of Brisbane called Andrew Ladhams.  I drove up to see him for an initial consultation and he recommended that I send some blood to a lab in California that specialises in diagnosing Lyme disease.  I got the results 3 weeks later and they were inconclusive, showing some positive and some indicative test bands.  However since the test is notoriously unreliable the recommendation is that the test is used in conjunction with a medical diagnosis.  Dr Ladhams decided that I should begin a course of treatment of antimalarial and antibiotics.

He also said that based on the test results, it’s possible that the strain of Borrelia I have could be from South East Asia.  I have not been there since the year 2002.  That means I’ve had this disease for over 10 years.

Antibiotics work by attacking bacteria when they are weakest – at the point they divide.  Most bacteria divides every few minutes, but the Borrelia bacteria divides every 12-24 hours.  This means that treatment has to take much longer than a regular course, probably 6-12 months.

I am now two weeks into my treatment.  I am ramping up the antimalarial before starting on the antibiotics.  I am hopeful that I’ll start feeling better in a few weeks, however it remains to be seen whether I will regain all my faculties as permanent damage could have occurred, particularly in my joints.

I will keep blogging about this disease as my treatment progresses, and if anyone reading this has any doubts about their own symptoms I urge you to visit a Lyme literate doctor.  If I make even one person aware and help them out as a result of this blog, I’ll be happy.

Wish me luck!

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On Vacation

Just a quick note: I will be on vacation this week in Australia. I will be checking in with work and email, but this will be more limited throughout the week.

Look forward to seeing everyone in a week! Lots of exciting things to focus on when I get back. :-)

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New Parenting For Geeks

A few weeks ago I became a father for the first time, welcoming our cute little boy, Jack, into the world. This is Jack:

‘sup ladies

One of the things I have learned ever since Erica got pregnant is that there are many different perspectives on how to raise a child. Some people get pretty worked up about these different considerations. Cloth or disposable nappies/diapers? Do you use a dummy/pacifier? Breast or formula feeding? The list rumbles on.

Now, Erica and I are two weeks into this, and although we have our own views, we would certainly not profess to be experts. Our approach here has been all about information. We are both pretty pragmatic people, and when faced with this myriad of choices, we want our decisions to be informed, and based upon information, data, and the experience of other more experienced parents.

I just wanted to share a few useful things and toys that we have learned about that might be useful for new parents.

Information Is King (or Queen)

If there is on thing we have repeated to each other over and over since we brought Jack home is how insanely useful the Internet is for new parents.

I can only imagine how much more nerve-wracking it was for our parent’s generation who, when faced with the many silly little questions we had, would need to depend on their limited supply of parenting books or balancing out the importance or concern of the question with whether it was worth calling the doctor.

With the Internet we don’t face these limitations. We have an endless knowledge-base available to us and no matter how small or seemingly silly the question is, we are not bothering anyone when we look it up online (which is nice when you have a question at 3am). This is tremendously reassuring when…with the blink of an eye…your life suddenly has a lot more responsibility in it. Sure, there is the pregnancy building up to the birth, but the true, visceral nature of the responsibility hits you when that baby comes hurtling into the world in what literally feels like the blink of an eye.

Astonishingly, the Internet has given us an answer to pretty much every question we have had. We are thankful to not only the many websites that provide static content (such as Baby Center, LiveStrong, Circle Of Moms, and Mayo Clinic), but also the many forums, message boards and Yahoo! Answers, and the thousands of parents who have both asked and answered our questions.

A huge saving grace here has been the use of a tablet. As a new parent, I want to have access to this information right away without lugging around a laptop or going to a desktop computer. Having a tablet at the side of the bed and being able to read it while soothing a baby, has been hugely helpful. When it is 4am and you have another question, or are simply soothing your baby and want to keep yourself amused while he/she sleeps in your arms, the tablet is a godsend. Seriously folks, if you are having a baby, buy a tablet; you won’t regret it.

Also, here is another quick tip: buy a simple sheet music stand and a pair of headphones for next to the chair where mum will nurse the baby. It makes a perfect stand to hold a tablet and armed with Netflix, life is good. :-)

Tracking Jack’s Vital Stats

As soon as Jack was born the doctor asked us to track many aspects of his first few months of life. This includes how many feedings he has, how many wet/dirty nappies/diapers, how often we bathe him, and which vaccinations he receives. This information is used to ensure he is getting his little digestive system in shape, feeding well, and putting the weight on he needs to.

When we were at the hospital they gave me a sheet of paper to make these notes on. This involved using this thing called a “pen” and a skill called “hand-writing“. As anyone who has seen my hand-writing will testify, it is bloody awful. Screw that; no legacy writing device for me; we live in the modern era of technology and indoor toilets.

This is where technology played it’s part. The tablet we are using right now is an iPad (in the absence of a full Ubuntu tablet) and we found an awesome app for the iPad called Total Baby that provides a means to track all of this data (and more). With the app Erica can track when she nurses and how long on each side, we can track the wet/dirty nappies/diapers, and also other things such as when we bathe him and when we give him gas drops when he is mad-facing to the rhythm of the trapped gas rumba.

You could also use a spreadsheet to track this if you like.

To be honest, someone could write an Open Source equivalent to this app in next to no time; it is a simple data entry and reporting app, but it is tremendously useful, and having all of Jack’s vital stats on a device means we can easily keep track of his weekly goals (e.g. the number of wet/dirty diapers and how many feedings he should have), and it also provides a nice portable collection of data that we can give to our paediatrician (or on-call doctor if needed) so they have access to Jack’s details in one place too.

If someone is interested in writing a similar Open Source app and wants some input on what the app would need to do for a new parent, I would be more than happy to provide some input; just let me know.


For those of you who have not had kids, it is difficult to explain the feeling of bringing your baby home for the first time. To be honest, I wasn’t really nervous about how to take care of him, but I was definitely anxious to ensure he was comfortable and safe. As with anything so new and significant, it is easy to worry that something will go wrong, and you fear the worst a little.

As such, the first week I spent many of the nights checking on him every few minutes, listening for any unexpected noises, and fearing the ugliness that is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) (also known as cot/crib death). Unfortunately, there is still no categorical evidence of what causes SIDS, but common theory suggests it is when babies get their airways blocked by cushions/blankets/sleeping on their front and suffocate as well as theories that overheated babies can have respiratory problems.

I read everything I could about SIDS and we follow the guidelines of ensuring Jack sleeps on his back, keeping the room at 68 degrees, and not having any blankets or items in the bassinet with him. Irrespective though, the new-parent worry of SIDS was keeping me up at night for the first week.

I then discovered this awesome little device called the Snuza Hero (previously known as the Snuza Halo):

Not Pictured: Jack.

It is basically a little device that clips on the front of his nappy/diaper and has a sensor that touches his tummy. Every-time Jack breathes the Snuza detects it and a little green/amber light flashes (this in itself is useful when you are trying to check if your baby is breathing OK while it is dark…and babies can be light breathers).

When the Snuza doesn’t detect a breath after 5 seconds it vibrates which should jolt him into breathing again. If for some reason the vibration doesn’t cause further breathing an alarm on the unit goes off, causing both parents to wake up, leap out of bed, and check if the little one is OK.

I can’t begin to tell you the peace of mind this little device gives me, and the $110 was well worth paying for such reassurance.

One night the alarm actually went off and I don’t think I have ever moved so quick out of bed. It was fortunately a false alarm: the waistband on his nappy/diaper had come loose and the Snuza slipped off. At least we know it works. :-)

Speaking of sleeping, for the first week and a bit we had Jack sleeping in the bassinet in our room. As we started getting him into his night-time bath, story, feeding routine we wanted to move him into his room. This is when our Motorola Baby Monitor came into play.

As a bit of a nerd, I love gadgets and I was excited to pick a good baby monitor system for when he is sleeping. Some baby monitors are audio only and some have cameras attached too. Out of one part baby safety and one part pure nerdery I naturally wanted the camera. After reading around we plumped for the same unit our friends Meg and Dan have:

This thing is pretty bad-ass. it has a camera that sits next to the baby’s bassinet/crib and a wireless color receiver. From the receiver you can see and hear the baby (it includes night-vision). You can also remotely move the camera around the room and it also has an intercom to speak to the baby (or parent) as well as the ability to play melodies to him remotely too. As a nice touch it also shows the temperature of the room to ensure it is within the recommended range to reduce SIDS.

We have found this unit to be pretty awesome. One slight issue we had at first was some interference with our wireless network (and likely our neighbor networks too). To solve this problem I found an great little tool called Wifi Radar in the Ubuntu Software Center. It simply lists all your wireless networks as well as the channels that they are on:

Network names hidden to protect the innocent.

I knew the baby monitor was on channel 6, so I tried to find a channel as far away from channel 6 for my own wifi network and it solved the problem. Now I have Internet and baby-vision. :-)

Oh one other tip, don’t watch any of the Paranormal Activity movies before getting a night-vision baby-monitor. You will spend the first few nights looking for ghosts on that familiar green screen.

Getting Out

When you become a new parent you feel a little trapped at first; you are so busy wanting to take care of your little one that you won’t find yourself getting outside all that much. Also, if mum is breastfeeding, she is going to be feeding every few hours which makes leaving the house less of a priority; it is way more comfortable to feed at home.

Something we discovered after about a week at home is that getting out every day for a walk is really helpful. Just getting out the house for an hour to get some fresh air and take Jack for a stroll was great for Erica and I to get some exercise and have a natter. It really helped, and we also discovered some awesome local trails that are great to walk along.

With this in mind you need to have the things you need to take your little one out safely.

Much as I love the gadgets, searching for a stroller was an ugly and endless task. There are hundreds of strollers from the simple to the insanely expensive and complex. As a new parent you want the best for your baby, but you also don’t want to get sucked into some of the “for your baby to be really safe, you need to lay down $600 for a stroller” nonsense.

After spending hours searching I think I found the perfect combination of quality, convenience and price-point in the Baby Jogger City Mini:

Xzibit, will you pimp my ride?

One tip we heard from someone once was that you want your stroller to be easy to set up and collapse, particularly for my vertically-challenged wife. With the City Mini there is a single handle you pull up and that’s it…collapsed. It fits in the back of the car perfectly. It is also simple to steer, has plenty of storage, and supports lots of different car-seats to be useful from newborn to an older child.

The car-seat support feature is really handy. Again, researching car-seats can be a nightmare, but after extensive research we plumped for the Chicco KeyFit 30 and the City Mini Car-seat Adapter. This now means we can use the same car-seat for the car as well as walks, and this is more convenient for us and him. We have found this combo works great. :-)

Also, you are going to want to ensure your car-seat fits snuggly in your car. If you have a newer car you should have a LATCH system built in, otherwise you use the seat-belts. Irrespective, many localities have a service for checking car-seat installations; I took our car/seat over and the guy checked the seat base was snug and gave us some great tips (such as using blankets down the side of the car-seat (under the seat wings) to fit your newborn more snuggly).

Also, one final tip. In my first few weeks of fatherhood I have been astonished at the gravity-defying capabilities of baby shit. We took Jack out to a local reservoir for a walk a week ago and towards the end of the walk he started crying pretty intensely. We took him back to the car and he had managed to not only fill his nappy/diaper, but managed to squeeze that badness out at such a force that it went all the way up his back, all while fully clothed in a onesie and securely sat in the car-seat in the stroller. It was mind-boggling.

As such, buy a nappy/diaper bag, and put in it some wipes, nappies/diapers, a changing mat, a dummy/pacifier…and importantly…a spare onesie. Whenever you go for a walk, stick the bag on the base of your stroller and you are now prepared for the physics-bending bowel movements of an infant.

Simulating The Womb

Something we learned pretty early on is this concept called the fourth trimester. In a nutshell, your baby has been in this warm, comfortable, snug place for nine months and is then thrust into the world kicking and screaming. This can be pretty unnerving for a baby, and therefore recreating the environment of the womb is reassuring and will help them sleep. This is what you do in the fourth trimester.

At first I was a little cynical of this, but it really does work. There are a few things we have learned that I really recommend:

  • Get The Happiest Baby On The Block (I prefer the video). Although a bit cheesy, the techniques in this video are awesome (this is where the concept of the fourth trimester comes from).
  • Get a white noise app for your phone or tablet – the sound of the white noise is really reassuring for a baby. We have an app for the tablet that we put near his bassinet and it really soothes him.
  • Babies love to be swaddled like a burrito baby (this is where they are tightly wrapped which keeps them snug like in the womb as well as not letting their little hands and arms wake them up as they flap around). You can use regular blankets for this, but we find the Halo Sleep Sacks are rocking for this. We call it his little flying squirrel outfit and he loves being in it.

The combination of these techniques has helped to keep Baby Jack nice and comfortable and contributing to him only waking up a few times during the night.

Amazon Prime

One final thing I wanted to mention. Amazon Prime has been hugely helpful for us too. I know that Prime is not available in all countries, but there are a number of things we have found it really helpful with:

  • We have bought huge amounts of baby crap before and since he was born (bottles, bottle warmers, blankets, clothes etc) and the free two-day shipping is awesome.
  • The Amazon Videos are great for watching on a tablet while feeding/soothing.
  • Amazon also allow you to have auto-shopped orders. This is great for things such as coffee and other food products so that you never run out when you are focused on raising a baby.
  • Their baby registry is great for those relatives and friends who want to contribute to your new parenthood (particularly if mum throws a baby shower).

Wrapping Up

As I mentioned earlier, Erica and I are still new at this parenting business, but we are having a great time getting to know our little boy and learning how to be the best parents we can be. The tips above are things I wish I knew when we started so I hope they are helpful to those of you who are about to become new parents. Please share your tips in the comments!


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Giving Thanks

Today is Thanksgiving in America; a day we spend with our families giving thanks for the people and lives we have. Although an English ex-pat, I absolutely love thanksgiving and always get into the spirit of the day.

This year is a very special thanksgiving. Just over a week ago on the 14th November at 5.26am my wife Erica gave birth to our first baby, Jack Taylor Bacon:

Kermit The Frog photo-bomb.

Both Baby Jack and Erica are doing great after a smooth delivery. Thank-you to the wonderful staff at John Muir hospital. The delivery and post-partum staff were absolutely stunning in helping us get our parenthood off on the right foot.

Erica and I, and our families, are tremendously thankful to be blessed with such a happy, healthy, bouncing boy. I have always been a pretty happy kinda guy, but I never knew just how much happier I could be.

I feel so lucky and blessed to be surrounded by wonderful family across England, America, and Italy, fantastic friends and colleagues at Canonical, and many wonderful friends across the world. Thank-you all so much for everything you do. You are all good people.

I am excited about the future. A beautiful family and taking Ubuntu and Free Software to new levels, devices, and people provides a lot to be motivated about. Let’s roll. :-)

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I am delighted to share with you folks that my wife Erica and I are expecting our first child. Erica is coming up to 20 weeks and we will be due in November. We don’t know the gender of the baby, but we will find out in the next few weeks. Naturally we are both hugely excited; I can’t wait to be a dad.

With today being Father’s Day, I was thinking about my own father, and what kind of father I want to be.

Fortunately, this is pretty simple: I want to be the kind of father that my father was to me.

I feel hugely fortunate that I was raised with such supportive, encouraging, and fun parents. Both of my parents instilled in me a set of values from an early age that have followed me into adulthood; values of being fair, working and playing hard, treating people with respect, putting family first, and being strong as an individual and loyal in a team. While I am by no means perfect, I do feel confident in my values system, and I credit both my parents for this.

I have always had a special relationship with my dad. Throughout my childhood he always managed to find ways to motivate and inspire me. He taught me to play the drums when I was 9 years old (he used to play in a band when he was younger), when I was getting into computers at the age of 14 he let me come to his then workplace (a multimedia project) for work experience and get them connected to the Internet with an old US Robotics modem (this cemented much of my interest in technology), he helped me run my own tech support business when I was 16, and he motivated and inspired me to go to University not just for the education, but the life experience of meeting different people, cultures, and backgrounds.

As my career transitioned from journalism to community management and consultancy, my dad has always had wisdom to share and offer. Just when I think I am getting a handle on the world, my dad has this incredible ability to make me think about things differently. He is not just a father, but a mentor, and a friend.

As I face my impending fatherhood, if I can be 5% of the father that my dad has been to me, I will be a hugely proud father. I love you, dad.

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Ich habe gerade Gestatten, Elite zu Ende gelesen (ging schnell, hab erst gestern angefangen). War im Grunde genommen nichts wirklich Neues, was man nicht irgendwie schon gewusst oder geahnt hätte. Aber die gut recherchierte und bewiesene Vehemenz, mit der sich die Oberschicht abschottet und sich selbst als eine Art neuer Adel erhält und das vielbeschworene Leistungsprinzip untergräbt war dann doch schon recht schockierend für mich.

Eine der “Elite”-Schulen die dort unter die Lupe genommen wird — Schloss Neubeuern — haben wir auf unserer Sommerradtour gesehen. Ich war schon beeindruckt von dem Haus, und damals habe ich auch gedacht “Mensch, auf so einer Schule hätte ich mich vielleicht wohlgefühlt”. Aber nach dieser Lektüre bin ich heilfroh dass es mich da nicht hinverschlagen hat.

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A little more than a year ago I started working for Canonical full time on the Windows port of Ubuntu One. One of the great things of working for Canonical is that you work at home, that is, you do not have to move to the USA or the UK to do the job you love, but don’t get confused, working at home does has its downs and here are a list of some them.

Social interaction

Most of us, geeks, most of the time we do not require as much social interaction as the ‘normal’ people. This does not mean we are less social, but due to the nature of our work we need to concentrate for long periods of time to be able to solve complicated problem which might involve thousands of lines of code, in this situation having a colleague popping in your cubicle asking if you wanna have a coffee is less than ideal. When working at home you do not have this type of social interactions which at the very begging seems to be a very convenient thing, unfortunately it is not like that.

As Aristotle said:

He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.

The above is something certainly important to remember. No matter how much we believe that we do not need social contact, at the end of the day, it is needed because it is an intrinsic part of our being. We need human contact and no type of online interaction will be ever be able to replace a face to face interaction between two people.

I you do work at home make sure you get such interaction, and not only with your wife or girlfriend. I have learned this the hard way, I believe that this happened because during a period or time I became a monster that did not need any type of social interaction which is something I terribly regret and I have strongly tried to solve. The following are somethings I have decided to do:

  • I’m not literally working at home anymore. I’m looking for a shared office space so that I have to leave the house. As soon as I have found a place I will only be using the IPad at home, any other machine will be forbidden.
  • For a time I was going less and less to the rugby trainings, this will change as soon as the season starts.
  • As with rugby, I stopped going to the gym, this will stop.
  • I’ll force myself to go out at least once a week (although I have to admit that after this I have been going out a lot more)

Working hours

Before I started working for Canonical I worked at GDF (Electrabel to be more precise) dealing with issues between the interaction of an ASP.Net front end and a Java backend. There is no need to say that I hated the job. While I worked there I would never to an extra hour, I’d arrive at 9 and will leave at 6 without giving a damm if anyone needed me to stay an extra hour. I did this because during my free hours I wanted to work on applicatios to be used on Ubuntu and I had no passion for my everyday job.

Now this has changed, and my everyday job is my passion. This is great but it has become a small problem regarding the working hours, I do to many. I seem not to be able to stop and that is no good. I have started to be more strict with the working hours so that I do not work more than 9/10 hours (I don’t like to count reading emails and bug reports as work).


This are the problems that trouble me, which are yours? Nevertheless the oatmeal is bloody right.

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Wir sind wieder da, und diesmal sogar völlig ohne menschliche oder radtechnische Schäden! Im letzten Jahr ging unsere Radtour an der Donau entlang von Passau nach Wien, was eher gemütlich war. Diesmal hat es uns an den Inn verschlagen, wo wir die Kultur vom letzten Jahr eingetauscht haben gegen das Hochkeuchen und Runterrasen eines alpin geprägten Berg-Wegprofils.

Das war unsere erste Radtour mit “richtigen” Bergen, wo man auch schon mal 200 Höhenmeter in der Stunde hoch und wieder runter schafft. Mit unseren Tourenrädern und viel Gepäck (Zeltausruestung) mussten wir auch stellenweise schieben, aber so oder so fand ich es eine gute sportliche Herausforderung. Und der fantastische Blick ins Tal mit den Bergen drumherum entschädigt auf jeden Fall für die Mühe!

Der Inn fliesst aus dem Lej da San Murezzan

Blick hinauf nach Guarda

Blick hinauf nach Guarda

Der alpine Teil startete in St. Moritz in der Schweiz, wo der Inn aus dem See “Lej da San Murezzan” quasi entspringt (die eigentliche Quelle ist noch höher in Majola, aber da mit dem Zug/Bus hinzukommen war dann zu anstrengend). Der Inn führte uns dann über Zernez, Scuol, Pfunds (dann schon in Österreich), Landeck, Imst, Innsbruck zunächst bis Kufstein.

Dort, an der österreich-deutschen Grenze, hörten dann auch die Alpen fast schlagartig auf, und von da an ging es dann eher gemächlich fast ohne größere Steigungen weiter über Rosenheim, Altötting, Braunau, und Bad Füssing bis nach Passau, wo der Inn dann in die Donau fließt. Wir sind bis zum “bitteren Ende” gefahren zum Dreiflüsse-Eck:

Inn-Brücke in Passau

Dreiflüsse-Eck in Passau

Zwischendurch gab es auch noch ein paar Höhepunkte:

In Imst sind wir mit dem “Alpine Coaster” 3,5 km den Berg heruntergedonnert, eine Art Sommerrodelbahn im Achterbahnformat. Den wollten wir ja schon vor ein paar Wochen bei unserer Klettersteig-Tour ausprobieren, aber leider brauchte der Auf- und Abstieg viel mehr Zeit als geplant, so dass Bergbahn und Coaster schon geschlossen hatten. Auch diesmal taten Wetter und nicht fahrende Busse ihr möglichstes, uns davon abzuhalten, aber diesmal haben wir gewonnen! Hat sich auch wirklich gelohnt.

Kristall-Modell des Lenin-Mausoleums

In Wattens haben wir uns die Glitzerwelt der Swarovski-Kristallwelten angeschaut. Es war im großen und ganzen eher eine Kunst-Ausstellung, ich hatte etwas anderes erwartet, aber der riesige Kristall-Dom (kuriose Akustik da drin!) und die Kristallmodelle berühmter Gebäude waren schon faszinierend.

Auf dem Weg gab es auch noch viele andere Eindrücke, wie das sehr schöne Dorf Neubeuren, das Geburtshaus von Papst Benedikt in Marktl oder das Vogelschutzgebiet Europareservat unterer Inn. Aber die meiste Zeit haben wir dann doch mit Radeln, und nachmittags mit faulenzen und lesen verbracht, so dass es ein wirklich entspannender Urlaub wurde.

Alle Fotos der Tour

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Hardik Dalwadi

First i would like to thanks all UDD attendees & Canonical, Ubuntu Community for making UDD successful event. we had around 350 attendees @ Hotel Leela, Grand Ball Room.

So, let me  share some behind the scene pictures.


This is how we started @ 1:30 PM, 26th Jnauary, 2011


Time to make seprate Ubuntu Cotton bags with T-shirts.

Final Goodies: Notepad, Pens, sticker, Products Sheets, Mavercik T-Shirts and Ubuntu Cotton Bags


Finally three containers with all goodies, according to their t-shirts size @ 2:30 PM, 26th January, 2011

Registration Counter @ 7:00 PM, 26th January, 2011

Agenda @ 9:10 PM, 26th January, 2011

UDD Presentation Hall @ 11:00 PM, 26th January, 2011

UDD Demonstration Room @ 3:00 AM 27 January, 2011

It was very interesting and busy day for all, packing bags to preparing demo room, shaping final presentations. We were very excited to see all Ubuntuers on UDD. And, OMG!!! that dream came true. Here is a picture taken 15 minutes before the UDD started. And, I believe Picture Speaks Louder Then The Words, OMG!!! It is!


Fronte-Right-Corner: A picture taken 15 minutes before the UDD started.


REAR-Right-Corner: A picture taken 15 minutes before the UDD started.


Though,  i was busy @ UDD Demonstration Counter, organized by Canonical and OEMs and LOEMs, showing their devices with Ubuntu, so i would not write much about UDD Presentation, later in this blog i will cover UDD Presentation source and community blog, covering whole UDD Presentation  part.  Again coming back to demo part, We demoed Wipro Machines (Netbook, Notebook, Tablet, Desktops), Lenovo All-In-One M90Z with Ubuntu 10.10, Dell Zino and Dell Latitude Netbook with Ubuntu Light. Most of the attendees were interested in getting list of Machine pre-installed with Ubuntu and available in Indian market. And that was one of the common need of all. And we surprised by seeing huge demand for that. In past, i have covered in my blog with picture of some LOEM brand with Ubuntu showcasing in CROMA. I got huge demand from attendees to generate and promote list of LOEMs and OEMs shipping machines with Pre-installed Ubuntu in Indian Consumer / Retail Market. We are already doing this for enterprise and corporates. I am sure i will cover that list in future blog. We had given 1 hour for UDD Demonstration Counter,  combined with UDD Break in UDD Agenda.  But personally,  i was much more  busy during the day  for demonstration ;) Here are few pictures from Demonstration Counter.

UDD Demonstartion Room @ 1:00 PM, 27th January, 2011

UDD Demonstration Counter @ 3:00 PM, 27th January, 2011

Overall it was amazing event. During the day, i had great meeting with Nigel Babu and Sreekanth. Nigel also covered detailed report of UDD. Sreekanth had given nice demo on preparing and running customized Ubuntu AMI on Amazon EC2 Cloud Services. We had given separate counter for community. Thanks a lot Sreekanth.

Finally, Closing keynote  by Prakash thanking  all UDD attendees and Canonical Employee for making UDD successful. Here is a snip from Nigel’s Blog Post.

Closing keynote by Prakash and Thanks to all UDD attendees and Canonical Employee for making UDD successful.

Though, We have finished the UDD, but still we are hearing from attendees. Personally, i got lot of e-Mails from attendees.  There was common request to do it again. And, of-course i will update you more in future. Here few words from one of e-Mail, i received. Personal thanks to Mr. Girish

Dear Hardik,
It was a great experience at Leela palace in Bangalore on Ubuntu Developer Day.
I had very good opportunity to meet many people to from open source.
Please keep on organising such events in India.

My Canonical colleagues also got the similar kind of e-Mails after UDD. It was great satisfaction for us. Here is few links around the web covering UDD, bit commercially, but that is not offensive :) .

To going at more commercial part, there was very nice coverage by Beyond Beat, Evening new paper.

I like the title most, i will close this blog with that one | UBUNTU STORY: STAFF OF TWO, LAKHS OF USERS | Big thanks to strong Ubuntu Community and Canonical. Now? Let’s make it billion….

UDD Coverage by Beyond Beat, Evening New Paper of Bangalore

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Some of you might know that I’m a rugby nutter. I love watching it, playing it, training… this has had the following consequence:


Unfortunately this will slow me down the following 4 weeks which will affect those people that wanted to see the new code coming to Ubuntu One on Windows. Sorry for that, I hope you can understand :)

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Hardik Dalwadi

I have seen lot of buzz around that, registration has been closed for Ubuntu Developer Day, Bangalore, Jan 27, 2011! Yes it’s very true. We are very sorry to say that we have closed registration for Ubuntu Developer Day, Bangalore, Jan 27, 2011, due to being hugely oversubscribed. We did this two days ago, when we were 10 days away from event. It gives me two kind of feeling (:) – :( ). But, i believe it has created huge hope and fundamentals for Ubuntu and proved it’s position before the event. This is just beginning….

I am personally sorry for those, who have missed the registration. See you all, who have registered and planned to attend UDD :) .

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Dresden hat Netti und mich wieder! Gestern hat der IC uns und unsere Fahrräder komfortabel wieder von Wien nach Dresden gebracht, nach nur etwas mehr als einer Urlaubswoche.

Wir sind am Freitag den 3. September in Passau gestartet, und dann bis Mittwoch entlang der Donau geradelt. Die Nächte haben wir meistens im Zelt verbracht; der schönste Campingplatz war in Sommerau, quasi bei einer Familie im riesigen Garten:

Schlögener Schlinge Campingplatz Sommerau

Am Mittwoch Mittag sind wir nach 340 Fahrradkilometern dann in der Stadt der k.u.k.-Monarchie, Mozart und Sachertorte angekommen, wo wir fortan in einer Pension im Stadtteil Fünfhaus übernachteten. So haben wir dann den Rest der Zeit bis Freitag abend mit viel Kultur verbracht.

Am Mittwoch nachmittag besuchten wir das Hundertwasserhaus und die dazugehörige Ausstellung. An seinen Bildern haben mich vor allem die fantastisch strahlenden und leuchtenden Farben beeindruckt, dafür hatte Hundertwasser ein göttliches Talent. Sein oft naiver und verspielter, manchmal auch sehr verworrener Malstil ist für mich als Kunstbanausen nicht immer einfach zu interpretieren oder auch nur zu erkennen, aber beeindruckt haben sie mich allemal. Dafür waren die Gaumenfreuden in dem Cafe-Haus am Abend dann umso konkreter – die Wiener Küche und vor allem die süßen und leckeren Nachtische sind einfach Weltklasse!

Der Hofburg und der Innenstadt haben wir den Donnerstag gewidmet, wir haben an diesem Tag die Vorführung der Spanischen Reitschule und dann noch eine Menge Museen geschafft: Schatzkammer, Schmetterlingshaus, Nationalbibliothek, Esperanto- und Globen-Museum, und zu guter Letzt noch den Stephansdom.

Hofburg Schmetterlinge

Nationalbibliothek Stephansdom

Nach einem reichhaltigen Dinner im Restaurant Gutenberg hatten sich unsere Füße erstmal genug erholt, und wir haben uns für die Nacht in Richtung Prater aufgemacht, Wien’s riesigem Vergnügungspark. Auf dem berühmten Riesenrad hat man eine fantastische Sicht über das nächtliche Wien, und konnte sich auch schon mal die teils lustigen, teils wirklich haarsträubenden Attraktionen des Praters anschauen. Wir haben uns auf die beiden Rafting-Bahnen und eine Achterbahn gewagt, und sind zwischendurch noch in ein lustiges Spiegel/Wackelraum/Labyrinth-Kabinett gegangen und haben uns im Bogen- und Luftgewehrschießen geübt.

Prater Prater

Am Donnerstag war dann das Schloss Schönbrunn an der Reihe, der Sitz der k.u.k-Monarchen. Das Schloß selbst ist natürlich schon sehr beeindruckend, bei dem Rundgang haben wir sehr viel über die Geschichte von Franz Josef, Maria Theresia, und der anderen Habsburger erfahren, und einen Eindruck von deren Lebensstil bekommen. Aber auch drumherum gab es viel zu entdecken, im Schloßgelände gibt es einen Irrgarten, einen Zoo, und natürlich auch die Hofbäckerei, wo wir in die Geheimnisse des Wiener Apfelstrudels eingeweiht wurden.


Für Interessierte habe ich die komplette Foto-Galerie hochgeladen.

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