Hey! Where did my data go?

Hey! Where did my data go?

I logged in this morning to write a little bit, and found that the stuff I’d written on Monday had disappeared! I know I didn’t delete the entry myself and I’m fairly sure that Abi would have told me if she had. That pretty much leaves EZPublishing in the picture: this is what would happen if they restored the database to a previous state (for whatever reason). If they did, they never told me about it.

Fortunately, Opera (the web browser I use) has a better caching facility than Internet Explorer. (Yet another reason to use Opera, in addition to my five main ones.) And because I’d viewed my Monday page after I’d submitted it, I was able to retrieve a copy of the text I’d written.

Note to self: improve the backup capabilities of the sunpig data. Write a script to extract the data, compress it, and email a copy somewhere.

So on to what I was going to write about in the first place: B’s cognitive development.

I remember learning about this in my child development classes at teacher training college. For example, newborns have no concept of “permancence”. If you hide an object, the baby will think it is gone. And B illustrates this marvellously!

A couple of years ago, Amazon.co.uk sent me a plastic thermos mug as a Christmas present. (We were buying a lot of books on-line at the time…) It has become my regular drinking vessel, and now B is taking an interest in it as well. He sees me lifting it up to my mouth, and so he now wants to grab hold of it, too. He takes it in both hands and gnaws on the rim. (It’s quite funny to see.)

But when he gets bored with just chewing on it, he starts batting it around. Because the mug doesn’t have a handle, it rolls very easily on the floor, and B chases after it with great enthusiasm. Until he pushes it too far, and it rolls under the skirts of the sofa. At which point, it’s gone! He doesn’t realize it’s just hidden from his sight, so he doesn’t try to reach after it. To his brain, the mug has just vanished, and so he has to go find another toy instead.

If he’s really lucky, mommy or daddy will reach under the sofa and get it back for him. And when he sees that the cup is back again, his face lights up with joy!

This also means that whenever one of us leaves the room, B thinks we’ve gone, too. He is starting to get the idea that Abi and I are permanent fixtures, and that even when we go away, we do come back, but it’s not all there yet. I don’t know at what point the game of “peekaboo” will become fun for him, rather than merely confusing. But I’ll write about it as soon as I know… 🙂

This weekend was really good

This weekend was really good. It started with a relatively early departure from work on Friday afternoon (about 5 o’clock). Abi was in town, after having been out to lunch with Angela, followed by a bit of a wander and some coffee with my parents. We met up in Starbucks on Princes St., and I took B, leaving Abi free for the rest of the evening.

Before heading home, though, I pleaded with Abi for an indulgence. I have been wanting a new games console for some time now. After having played Gran Turismo 3 with Richard and Dave a couple of weeks ago, I decided that Playstation 2 was the way to go. Last year, I wasn’t convinced of the quality of the games available, but seeing some of the title around now–GT3 being the prime example–it’s clear that the PS2 is becoming a mature platform, with truly next-generation content.

Any console is going to take time to come into its own. I had been thinking strongly about getting an XBox when it comes out, because essentially it is similar to a PC, and it is less likely to have such a growth curve. But on the other hand, for this same reason its games are likely to have a desktop PC slant, and I already have one of those. I’m sure that a year after launch, XBox will have a wide range of great titles available. But by that same time, PS2 will have had even more time to mature.

I guess I’m just not an early adopter of games hardware…

Anyway, by the time I got home, fed B, and had some dinner myself, Friday evening was mostly gone. I didn’t get the PS2 plugged in until almost 10 o’clock! But right up until bedtime I had some highly excellent racing fun.

Now here’s how I know I’m a “grown-up”: when I woke up on Saturday morning, I didn’t run downstairs to play games straight away. In fact, I didn’t switch on the console again until late that evening.

I woke up feeling like I could use some exercise, and I wanted to spend a bunch of time with B. Abi was planning to go out to IKEA with Ange & Ange mother, and I was going to take the bunny for the day. So just before noon, I strapped on our cool new backpack, and B and I walked down to Cameron Toll to do some shopping.

The plan was to get some milk and bananas for B, and maybe some new fruit or vegetables for him to try (Abi had suggested some squash or pumpkin). In Sainsbury’s, I discovered that I felt like doing some cooking for Abi and me as well, so I bought a whole bunch of lovely stuff: a stack of chillies, shiitake mushrooms, celeriac, butternut squash, and much more.

On returning home, I did the washing up, and then started on a mega kitchen cook-off. I put together four dishes:

  • For Saturday evening, baked frogs legs with lots of garlic and parsley.
  • Also for Saturday, a chunk of beef, roasted in some red wine, and accompanied by roast winter vegetables: potato, sweet potato, celeriac, butternut squash, garlic and shallots. It’s the first time I’ve ever cooked celeriac, and it was delicious.
  • For Sunday, the start of a voodoo chilli. I had four pork chops, from which I stripped the rind and fat, and which chopped up finely. I heated the far in a pan, and then tossed in an onion, seven indian bird-eye chillies, a cayenne pepper, a scotch bonnet pepper, and a pile of cumin. Then the meat went in and cooked for a long while, followed by a couple of tins of kidney beans. At one point, the air was so heavy with chilli, that Abi couldn’t come into the kitchen without coughing. Excellent!
  • With the bones of the pork chops, the shiitake mushrooms, and some left-over chicken stock, I also made a hot & sour soup.

We watched Shakespeare in Love over dinner, and afterwards I caramelised some bananas, and we had them over ice cream. Lovely yum!

(Some Gran Turismo 3 happened at the end of the evening. You don’t think I was going to go a whole day without it, did you?)

Sunday was much less active. We just hung out around the house, watched TV (there was a good documentary on Discovery Civilization about the World Poker Championships, and Farscape is in the middle of a grand story arc right now: this was the episode where John gets Scorpio’s chip removed from his brain), played with B, read books, and I raced cars around Rome. I finished off the chilli with some tomatoes, and had several bowls of the stuff. My digestive system promptly went into shock, and I suffered a sore tummy for most of the night. All in all, it was a great day, and a great weekend.

Music, books, and stuff

I’ve been listening a lot to two albums lately: Everyday by the Dave Matthews Band, and Dreamworld by Steve Booker.

I first heard of Steve Booker when I saw him supporting Clannad in Glasgow in 1990 (91?). Richard Gibbs drove a gang of us over there, and I seem to remember that I wasn’t the only one who thought that the support was better than the main act. Not that Clannad was bad, but Steve Booker just shone.

Unfortunately, I only have a tape of Dreamworld. Listening to it again now, a lot of the songs still sound fresh and beautiful. I would dearly like to get hold of the CD now, because the tape isn’t going to last forever, and I don’t think it would record well onto MP3. But the album doesn’t seem to be available at any of the usual on-line sources! Looks like I’m going to have to scour the second-hand record shops…

I’m also coming to the end of the last Elvis Cole book I haven’t read yet: Voodoo River (by Robert Crais). I haven’t been reading them in order, so I’ve seen the romance between Cole and Lucy Chenier in full flow, and I’ve seen the trouble they’ve gone through in LA Requiem. I am thoroughly enjoying this book, which is where they first meet and fall in love.

Like Spenser and Susan in Robert B. Parker’s books, the romance between the Cole and Lucy is profound, at times difficult, and (I hope) an enduring constant. Spenser and Susan worked out their difficulties when Susan left him in the mid 80s. I hope that Robert Crais will, over the course of the next few Elvis Cole books, show that true love can endure such hardship.

No comments on war and impending doom today. I was going to write some more on Tuesday evening, but the Nimda worm took down the EZPublishing servers (or their network), which is where sunpig is hosted.

Big install at the Bank today. We’ve been working hard to meet today’s deadline for project ERos, and it all went remarkably well. The system is in place, we fixed a few bugs on-site, and the customers seem to be very happy with it! Very satisfying. So I went out this evening and bought some wee prezzies (sweaters, for the coming cold weather) for B and Abi.

Well over a month ago now, we thought that B was starting to teethe. He had small white spots on his upper gums, in about the right positions for his baby canines. Well, nothing came of that until now. He is seeming quite unhappy a lot of the time, and whenever we feed him, he is actively biting down on the spoon. Maybe something will pop through soon?

He is also now pulling himself forward with his arms, even over non-shiny surfaces. He can drag himself along the rug now: yet another step towards crawling. And he is getting much more interested in sitting up, too. Still a bit unsteady, but he seems to realize that there is something different and fascinating about this new state of being 🙂

Blogging and aggregators

Most of the useful or interesting articles I’ve been reading over the last week (and even before then) have come to me via Dave Winer’s Scripting News and John Rhodes’ Webword newsletter.

Both of these sources are aggregation services: they gather together high quality links and references into a handy digest. Most of the time, they concern themselves with technical matters (software programming and usability), but their authors always include other information where they find it interesting or pertinent. Over the last week, most of their focus has been on the attacks in the US, and on the world’s response.

On another note, I really need to do more work on the blogging tools for Sunpig. Yesterday evening Abi lost a bunch of stuff she’d been typing in because she pressed the backspace key when the focus was outside of the editing text box. This was the equivalent of pressing the browser “back” button, and suddenly all her text was gone.

I’m thinking about adding a “hold” and “released” status (radio buttons) to the editing. With the status set to Hold, you could click Save, and your text would be saved to the databasem but not displayed on the main web log page. You’d have to explicitly release the text before it was published. Updates to existing stuff would be similar: with the status set to Hold, you could update your stuff, and save changes to the DB, but not publish them until you’re ready.

The alternative it to create a scratchpad area, like they have on E2. Both options would allow me to put in a “preview” feature as well.


Commentary from other people:

Matthew Parris hits the spot.

Martin Woollacott is perhaps a bit too optimistic.

The Dalai Lama states his hopes plainly.

Robert Fisk puts the arguments forcefully.

(I’m going to try and mirror copies of these articles to Sunpig, because I don’t want to lose them when the newspapers in question reorganise their sites.)

BBC2 hosted an evening of Star Trek yesterday, in honour of the series’ 35th anniversary. I found it curiously uplifting. At least in one corner of the popular media lives a TV show which at its heart, presents a positive vision for humanity.

They showed Trek IV at the end of the evening. Abi pointed out the similarity between Kirk & Spock in Trek IV and Jay and Silent Bob in Kevin Smith’s films (Chasing Amy, Dogma, et al.)


Days away

We’re back from a few days away. On Thursday we drove up to Aberdeen to spend some time with Grandma McLean. On Friday we trundled around Deeside, ending up at the Gairnshiel Lodge. The Lodge is located about six miles out of Ballater, just before a humpback bridge. When we drove over that bridge last year, we were met by a horse charging straight at us. Nothing quite so interesting this time, though.

Saturday, we went to Mum & Dad in Murthly, and spent the day there, before driving back late in the evening. We would have stayed the night, if B hadn’t been sleeping so poorly. In Aberdeen and at Gairnshiel he woke up in the middle of the night (2/3 am), wanting to be fed. Strange places, restless bunny. He settled fairly easily in his own cot last night, and didn’t wake up until 06:30 this morning.

He’s been a bit grumpy this afternoon, though. I wonder if he’s missing all the constant social stimulation he’s been having over the last few days?

He’s in the front pouch, screaming his head off as I’m writing this. He’s getting too big and active (not to mention too heavy) to be carrying him around in the pouch all the time, though. So on Thursday, before we headed off for Aberdeen, we stopped by at Mothercare and bought a baby backpack. Big success! B loves it! It puts him up much higher than he is accustomed to being, and as a bonus it allows him to play with our hair.

He’s asleep in the pouch now.

The trip was a nice break, but it was emotionally exhausting. Abi and I were both struggling to deal with the events in the US; not just the attacks themselves, but how people, and especially our so-called leaders are dealing with them.

In the car, with B asleep in the back seat, we talked about a lot of things: our families, our countrymen, war, global capitalism, poverty, human nature and the “selfish gene”. Probably some of the best intellectual discussions we’ve had in a long while. And although we’re still both feeling very depressed, I think we’ve hit bottom and are on our way back up. For now. (Abi’s in the kitchen with the light box. Last year’s winter was a struggle for me too, so I think I might also start taking some light soon.)

Song for today: Zero 7 — Destiny. The chilled out beat fits the slow gloominess of the afternoon. “When I’m weak, I draw strength from you.”

B has gone through several stages on his way to crawling. First, he was just pushing off randomly with his legs. Then he started coordinating the legs, and bringing them up under his hips. His arm strength came later, but he couldn’t work the arms and legs together, and so he ended up moving backwards! All the while, though, most of his progress has been by bursts of frantic leg action. This afternoon, in his lovely and soft new trousers, was was on our shiny wooden floor. His hands could gain purchase, and the rest of his body could slide freely. And for the first time, he pulled himself forward. Cool!

And finally, some thoughts on the current polical situation (turn away now if you’re easily offended):

  • When president Bush talks about a “War on Terrorism,” the terminology and rhetoric sounds sensible because we are used to hearing the phrases “War on crime” and “War on drugs.” But when politicians talk about the war on drugs, they don’t generally mean sending warships, planes and troops to Colombia, and carpet-bombing the coca plantations on another nations soil.

    The “War on social problem X” rhetorical construct is now being used a smokescreen to cover up manoeuvres in preparation for military action. For the US, waging war on terrorism is much more acceptable in the international arena than, for example, declaring war on Afghanistan.

    We need to beware of a “bait and switch” being pulled on us: we (I’m talking Europe, here) cannot allow ourselves to be dragged into a real war, against targets as yet unnamed, under the guise of tracking down and prosecuting specific criminals, who so far remain unidentified.

    Fortunately, European leaders seem to be taking a stance against president Bush labelling this criminal investigation as a “War”.
  • The media are severely distorting reality.

    What we’re seeing on TV is not what is really happening. The news channels have a vested interest in showing forceful and shocking images, and telling dramatic stories. They have to, because otherwise we wouldn’t watch them. They need to make us watch them to ensure their survival, and they make us watch them by appealling to our rubbernecking fascination with tragedies that happen to other people.

    They can claim all they want that they are showing their footage and commentary because of public interest. To a certain extent, this is true. But we must also remember that the news editors report to managers, who report to boards of directors, who report to shareholders. If CNN had not devoted 100% of its coverage to last week’s disaster, people would have lost money, and lost their jobs.

    The media are driven by innate human selfishness.

    The counterweight of human altruism is provided by the rescue workers, and everyone at ground level who has given aid, blood and money. Eventually, the media will cover this as well. It doesn’t make them as much money, though.
  • Abi has pointed out to me that on certain on-line forums, anyone who does not speak out in strong favour of immediate action, or who favours a moderate course in addressing the socio-economic and political causes of terrorism rather than their aftermaths, is being flamed out of the water, labelled as a troll, and called anti-American. Well, guess what? That kind of arrogant, superior and nationalistic attitude is precisely one of the reasons the US is perceived so badly in international politics. Think of Microsoft, and its blatant disregard for honesty, fair competition and legal strictures. Now multiply that up to a global political scale. The US is big and powerful enough that it can generally do as it pleases.

    Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    With great power comes great responsibility.

    How do these two statement tie up? With great difficulty, and much pain. Striking back is quick and easy, and satisfying in the short term. In the long term, it will be disastrous unless the US also shows that it is willing to learn a lessons from this disaster. This will be made all the harder because any steps to take on board any of the terrorists’ grievances will be seen as giving in to them.