10 April 2008 21:50
So here's the hard part, if you start writing about people and relationships you have to continue, otherwise people who do follow will make assumptions, or not be aware of any potential gaffes they are about to make.
I've written in the past about some stuff which I now wish I hadn't because this post is suprisngly hard to compose.
I'm now single, and living alone.
No fiance, no partner, and no kitten.
The next time I write about friends I'll make sure it is for local people only. Unless I get carried away, in which case I should be stopped.
ObQuote: The Taming of the shrew; via 10 Things I hate about you.
Tags: megan, personal
8 January 2010 21:50
Five years ago I spent an hour wandering around a large department store looking to buy a kettle & a set of bathroom scales. Much to the amusement of the woman I was shopping with I spent a very long time trying to find the cheapest available set of scales. (We're talking at least 20 minutes, due to the nature of the store and the crowds.)
Once I'd selected the cheapest possible set of bathroom scales we walked over to the kitchen section of the store. I glanced over all the available kettles and picked up the one that looked the nicest (in terms of size, shape, and handle design) with no regard for the price at all.
Why? A set of bathroom scales I use maybe twice a year. A kettle I use in excess of ten times a day. Something you use that often should be right. Even if over time you take it for granted and forget about it. (FWIW the scales were £6.50 and the kettle cost me £39.95 - John Lewis 15/03/2005 - I kept the reciept!)
I'll haggle and quibble over prices for a lot of things, trying to ensure that I don't pay too much. But there are items which are worth paying for (and I don't just mean that "expensive == good" idea some people seem to have). On that basis I'll think nothing of paying £150 for a pair of shoes for example, even though I'll go out of my way to save £5-£10 on a DVD player. Because shoes are important, used very very often, and DVD players just aren't.
(ObReference: I have one pair of shoes. I have five pairs of boots. I might pretend I don't but I also have a pair of sandals. Sshhh it'll be our little secret. ;)
Anyway today my kettle broke. I had to buy a new one at short notice. I did so and the replacement is obviously more advanced. It boils quickly and quietly which is technically an advangtage but in practise is actually a drawback.
Generally speaking I'll fill the kettle, turn it on, then wander away. I'll only return to the kitchen to make my delicous beverage when I hear the "click" signaling that the kettle's job is done. This new one? From outside the kitchen I cannot hear it at all...
In conclusion: Technology and progress is all around us. Sometimes a technical step forward "being quiet" is a bad thing.
In other news I'm fighting with IPv6 & a head cold. Both suck.
Tags: flat, kettle, personal, random, shopping
26 December 2016 21:50
So for once I made something useful.
Oiva Adam Kemp.
Happy Christmas, if you believe in that kind of thing.
Tags: family, personal
12 March 2017 21:50
I've written parts of this story in the past, but never in one place
and never in much detail. So why not now?
In 1982 my family moved house, so one morning I went to school and
at lunch-time I had to walk home to a completely different house.
We moved sometime towards the end of the year, and ended up spending
lots of money replacing the windows of the new place. For people
in York I was born in Farrar Street, Y010 3BY, and we moved to a place on Thief Lane, YO1 3HS. Being named as it was I "ironically" stole at least two street-signs and hung them on my bedroom wall. I suspect my parents were disappointed.
Anyway the net result of this relocation, and the extra repairs meant
that my sisters and I had a joint Christmas present that year, a ZX Spectrum 48k.
I tried to find pictures of what we received but unfortunately the web doesn't remember the precise bundle. All together though we received:
- A tape-deck.
- A 48k ZX Spectrum, with its glorious rubber keys.
- A pack of 10 (?) cassette-tapes.
- The first six were definitely the Spectrum six-pack:
- The classic Horizons tape.
- A version of Scrabble.
- Horace Goes Skiing
- A version of Chess by Psion.
- Make-a-Chip - A logic-demonstration.
- Chequered Flag, also by PSION, which was a terrible racing game. (Mostly this was terrible because it was in no-way a race. There were zero other cars on the track.)
I know we also received Horace and the Spiders, and I have vague memories of some other things being included, including a Space Invaders clone. No doubt my parents bought them separately.
Highlights of my Spectrum-gaming memories include R-Type, Strider, and the various "Dizzy" games. Some of the latter I remember very fondly.
Unfortunately this Christmas was pretty underwhelming. We unpacked the machine, we cabled it up to the family TV-set - we only had the one, after all - and then proceeded to be very disappointed when nothing we did resulted in a successful game! It turns out our cassette-deck was not good enough. Being back in the 80s the shops were closed over Christmas, and my memory is that it was around January before we received a working tape-player/recorder, such that we could load games.
Happily the computer came with manuals. I read one, skipping words and terms I didn't understand. I then read the other, which was the spiral-bound orange book. It contained enough examples and decent wording that I learned to write code in BASIC. Not bad for an 11/12 year old.
Later I discovered that my local library contained "computer books". These were colourful books that promised "The Mystery of Silver Mounter", or "Write your own ADVENTURE PROGRAMS". But were largely dry books that contained nothing but multi-page listings of BASIC programs to type in. Often with adjustments that had to be made for your own computer-flavour (BASIC varying between different systems).
If you want to recapture the magic scroll to the foot of this Osbourne page and you can download them!
Later I taught myself Z80 Assembly Language, partly via the Spectrum manual and partly via such books as these two (which I still own 30ish years later):
- Understanding your Spectrum, Basic & Machine Code Programming.
- An introduction to Z80 Machine Code.
Pretty much the only reason I continued down this path is because I wanted infinite/extra lives in the few games I owned. (Which were largely pirated via the schoolboy network of parents with cassette-copiers.)
Eventually I got some of my l33t POKES printed in magazines, and received free badges from the magazines of the day such as Your Sinclair & Sinclair User. For example I was "Hacker of the Month" in the Your Sinclair issue 67 , Page 32, apparently because I "asked so nicely in my letter".
Terrible scan is terrible:
Anyway that takes me from 1980ish to 1984. The only computer I ever touched was a Spectrum. Friends had other things, and there were Sega consoles, but I have no memories of them. Suffice it to say that later when I first saw a PC (complete with Hercules graphics, hard drives, and similar sourcery, running GEM IIRC) I was pleased that Intel assembly was "similar" to Z80 assembly - and now I know the reason why.
Some time in the future I might document how I got my first computer job. It is hillarious. As was my naivete.
Tags: personal, spectrum
13 August 2017 21:50
I used to think I was a programmer who did "sysadmin-stuff". Nowadays I interact with too many real programmers to believe that.
Or rather I can code/program/develop, but I'm not often as good as I could be. These days I'm getting more consistent with writing tests, and I like it when things are thoroughly planned and developed. But too often if I'm busy, or distracted, I think to myself "Hrm .. compiles? Probably done. Oops. Bug, you say?"
I was going to write about working with
golang today. The go language is minimal and quite neat. I like the toolset:
- Making everything consistent.
Instead I think today I'm going to write about something else. Since having a child a lot of my life is different. Routine becomes something that is essential, as is planning and scheduling.
So an average week-day goes something like this:
- Wake up Oiva and play with him for 45 minutes.
- Prepare breakfast for my wife, and wake her up, then play with Oiva for another 15 minutes while she eats.
- Make coffee, make a rough plan for the day.
- Work, until lunchtime which might be 1pm, 2pm, or even 3pm.
- Leave work, and take bus home.
- Yes I go to work via tram, but come back via bus. There are reasons.
- Arrive home, and relax in peace for 20 minutes.
- Take Oiva for a walk, stop en route to relax in a hammock for 30 minutes reading a book.
- Feed Oiva his evening meal.
- Give Oiva his bath, then pass him over to my wife to put him to bed.
- 7:30PM - 8:00pm
- 8:00PM - 10:00PM
- Deal with Oiva waking up, making noises, or being unsettled.
- Try to spend quality time with my wife, watch TV, read a book, do some coding, etc.
- 10:00PM ~ 11:30PM
In short I'm responsible for Oiva from 6ish-8ish in the morning, then from 6PM-10PM (with a little break while he's put to bed.) There are some exceptions to this routine - for example I work from home on Monday/Friday afternoons, and Monday evenings he goes to his swimming classes. But most working-days are the same.
Weekends are a bit different. There I tend to take him 6AM-8AM, then 1PM-10PM with a few breaks for tea, and bed. At the moment we're starting to reach the peak-party time of year, which means weekends often involve negotiation(s) about which parent is having a party, and which parent is either leaving early, or not going out at all.
Today I have him all day, and it's awesome. He's just learned to say "Daddy" which makes any stress, angst or unpleasantness utterly worthwhile.
Tags: golang, personal
14 November 2017 21:50
I'm taking the month of November off work, so that I can exclusively take care of our child. Despite it being a difficult time, with him teething, it has been a great half-month so far.
During the course of the month I've found my interest in a lot of technological things waning, so I've killed my account(s) on a few platforms, and scaled back others - if I could exclusively do child-care for the next 20 years I'd be very happy, but sadly I don't think that is terribly realistic.
My interest in things hasn't entirely vanished though, to the extent that I found the time to replace my use of
consul yesterday, and I'm trying to work out how to simplify my hosting setup. Right now I have a bunch of servers doing two kinds of web-hosting:
- 100% static-sites
- 100% dynamic-sites
- Largely written with Perl & CGI.
- Although I did recode my blogspam-detector in golang, and that's performing very well.
Hosting static-sites is trivial, whether with a virtual machine, via Amazons' S3-service, or some other static-host such as netlify.
In short I have a bunch of servers, they mostly tick over unattended, but I'm not really sure I want to keep them running for the next 10+ years. Over time our child will deserve, demand, and require more attention which means time for personal stuff is only going to diminish.
Simplify things now wouldn't be a bad thing to do, before it is too late.
11 March 2020 10:30
I was slow to start using twitter, but found it a lot of fun. Often it
would be useful at times when websites were slow; I'd hop to the website
and search "edinburgh network", "github down", or "helsinki outage" and
find live updates as people disclosed problems before the appropriate
companies updated their status pages.
I've found a lot of useful information, in near real-time, over the past
few years. For example I remember hearing a loud explosion a few years
back and had no idea what it was. Turns out it was an electrical
substation catching fire nearby.
Anyway recently I've been getting a lot of fake notifications, things
that aren't real:
- In case you missed XXX's tweet.
You can't disable these notifications, the only thing you can
do is click "see less often". For a couple of days I did that every
time I saw them, to no avail.
So I'm done. I've removed references to my account anywhere I could
spot them, and I've signed out for good.
(I read twitter on my desktop 99% of the time, though I did use my
mobile phone to make posts, especially when images/pictures were
I've not deleted my account, but I'd uninstalled the application and
deleted the entry from my password-store. No doubt in a few years
they'll delete my account, though they seem to have recently backtracked
on their attempts to nuke inactive accounts.
Tags: misc, personal, twitter
27 July 2020 12:00
"I grew up on a farm" is something I sometimes what I tell people. It isn't true, but it is a useful shorthand. What is true is that my parents both come from a farming background, my father's family up in Scotland, my mother's down in Yorkshire.
Every summer my sisters and myself would have a traditional holiday at the seaside, which is what people do in the UK (Blackpool, Scarborough, Great Yarmouth, etc). Before, or after, that we'd spend the rest of the summer living on my grandmother's farm.
I loved spending time on the farm when I was a kid, and some of my earliest memories date from that time. For example I remember hand-feeding carrots to working dogs (alsatians) that were taller than I was. I remember trying to ride on the backs of those dogs, and how that didn't end well. In fact the one and only time I can recall my grandmother shouting at me, or raising her voice at all, was when my sisters and I spent an afternoon playing in the coal-shed. We were filthy and covered in coal-dust from head to toe. Awesome!
Anyway the only reason I bring this up is because I have a little bit of a farming background, largely irrelevant in my daily life, but also a source of pleasant memories. Despite it being an animal farm (pigs, sheep, cows) there was also a lot of home-grown food, which my uncle Albert would deliver/sell to people nearby out of the back of a van. That same van that would be used to ferry us to see the fireworks every November. Those evenings were very memorable too - they would almost always involve flasks of home-made vegetable soup.
Nowadays I live in Finland, and earlier in the year we received access to an allotment - a small piece of land (10m x 10m) for €50/year - upon which we can grow our own plants, etc.
My wife decided to plant flowers and make it look pretty. She did good.
I decided to plant "food". I might not have done this stuff from scratch before, but I was pretty familiar with the process from my youth, and also having the internet to hand to make the obvious searches such as "How do you know when you can harvest your garlic?"
Before I started I figured it couldn't be too hard, after all if you leave onions/potatoes in the refrigerator for long enough they start to grow! It isn't like you have to do too much to help them. In short it has been pretty easy and I'm definitely going to be doing more of it next year.
I've surprised myself by enjoying the process as much as I have. Every few days I go and rip up the weeds, and water the things we've planted. So far I've planted, and harvested, Radish, Garlic, Onions, and in a few more weeks I'll be digging up potatoes.
I have no particular point to this post, except to say that if you have a few hours spare a week, and a slab of land to hand upon which you can dig and plant I'd recommend it. Sure there were annoyances, and not a single one of the carrot-seeds I planted showed any sign of life, but the other stuff? The stuff that grew? Very tasty, om nom nom ..
(It has to be said that when we received the plot there was a jungle growing upon it. Once we tidied it all up we found raspberries, roses, and other things. The garlic I reaped was already growing so I felt like a cheat to harvest it. That said I did plant a couple of bulbs on my balcony so I could say "I grew this from scratch". Took a while, but I did indeed harvest my own garlic.)
Tags: allotment, farm, history, personal
28 December 2022 10:00
This year had a lot of things happen in it, world-wide, as is always the case.
Being more selfish here are the things I remember, in brief unless there are comments/questions:
- I learned more Finnish.
- Lots of things with our child.
- I helped teach him to swim.
- He learned to tell the time with an analog clock/watch.
- I took him to a circus for the first (only) time ever.
- He cut his hair for the first time in six years.
- He spent his a birthday with my parents, in the UK - His languages skills were on top-form, understanding the various UK accents.
- And another with family here in Finland - Where he watched me roll, naked, in the snow after sauna, and then he asked "Daddy why you did that?"
On the topic of Finnish I'm getting pretty damn good at understanding, albeit less good in speaking. Finnish is all about the suffixes, so:
- A car
- My car
- In a car
- In my car
- With my car
- From a car
Most of this is regular, so you can be childless via the "ton" suffix - lapsiton is "lapsi" (child) "ton" (less). The hard part in communication is thus twofold:
- Knowing the word you want to use, be it car, cake, spoon, or smile.
- Getting the appropriate suffix for the use you want.
Our child turned six recently, and most of the year was spent doing things with him, for him, and to him. He's on the verge of learning to read (English and Finnish), he's interested in maths and completes little puzzles freely and happily. He likes to help with Sodoku, for example and not just the child-versions.
In the past couple of weeks I let him play Super Mario & Super Mario Bros 3, on a NES Classic, and he dies constantly, with a smile on his face. But he does love to tell me what to do when he watches me play!
He's learned to ice-skate, and ski, and almost learned to swim. (I'll say he can swim 3m inside a pool, without aid, but then he starts to sink.) We've got a couple of regular rituals with each other - including going to sauna every week or two, and other similar things.
He's gotten more interested in helping me cook, and his mother too. (My wife and I live in separate houses..)
I guess the next big milestone will be him walking to school by himself, which will start next year. As things stand I wake up early, go over to his house, and do all the morning-things, before I take him there. I expect I'll still want to go there, give him his breakfast, his medicine, and help him get dressed. After that I guess I kick him out, and he makes his own way there.
Happily the walk to school is a few hundred meters, and doesn't involve crossing any roads. But of course it does bring other complications: if he's not collected, and walks home himself, then he needs a key to one/other house, and there's the potential need for a phone to say "I'm late", "I'm lost", or us to say "Where are you?".
Anyway .. interesting year .. good year. Despite everything else.
Tags: 2022, family, personal, random
9 October 2023 09:00
"Hello, my name is Steve" - those are words I've said a million times in my life, however they are not true words.
If you want to get all technical about things, my name has always been SteveN.
Mostly this hasn't mattered to me, or anybody else, I introduce myself as Steve, people call me Steve, and Steve is the name that makes me turn my head, when shouted across a bar. However things changed when I moved to Finland.
In Finland I had to open new bank accounts, sign mortgages, hand over IDs, and there were many many pieces of paper I signed, or forms I filled out. Unfortunately I screwed up:
- If I were thinking clearly I'd think "Oh, this is something official, I'd best write SteveN".
- If I were distracted, or not being careful I'd write my name as "Steve", and then sign it as Steve.
The end result? I've been in Finland for approximately eight years, and I have some official documentation calling me Steve, and some other official documentation calling myself Steven. (For example my "Permanent Residency Permit" calls me Steve, but my Social Security ID knows me as Steven.)
Every now and again somebody queries the mismatch, and there are daily moments of pain where I have to interact with different agencies, so I made the obvious decision: I'm gonna change my name.
A fee of €60 and a simple online form was sufficient to initiate the process. The processing time was given as "one to five months" on the official forename changing page, but happily the process was complete in a month.
I will now need to do a little housekeeping by getting updated bank-cards, etc, and then complete the process by changing my UK passport to match. Hopefully this won't take too long - but I guess if Finland knows me as Steve and the UK knows me as Steven I'll still be in a bit of a screwed up state, albeit one that is consistent in each country!
Not a big change really, but also it feels weird to suddenly say "Hello, my name is Steve" and mean it.
People are weird.
Names are interesting.
Tags: name, personal, steve