Sunday, 25 December 2016

Here's Amanda

Here's Russell

Here's Stuart

Playing cards

You know when you get a deck of cards in a Christmas cracker? That's cool.

Here's Thomas

Tossing horseshoes - now that is a good game!

Xanthe and Catriona

Here's Jonathan

Catriona's gift

Catriona starts training as a doctor next month. Tegan and Todd's gift is very appropriate!

Here's Tegan and Todd

They are getting married in Canada next New Year's Eve.

Here's Mitchell

Are you loving the bow? He was loving the bow.

Here's Connor

All the (Aussie) Laing grandchildren

Ron made all the kids line up in age order.

So, that's Tegan, Catriona, Connor, Jonathan, Thomas, Mitchell, Xanthe, Jessamy and James.

Merry Christmas from Perth

Yesterday (Christmas eve) we had a family barbecue by the river.

We had:
Nana and Pop
Jeff, me, and our kids
Stuart and his kids
Russell with Amanda, and his kids
Tegan with fiancé Todd

And I've tried for photos of everyone. So here goes...

Here's Ron and Elaine (Pop and Nana) enjoying the very convenient seating provided by Russell and Amanda.

In the background, Mitchell and Thomas. Thomas is doing a Rubik's cube. Of course.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

A very nice picture of me.

Here's a picture of me. It's for a terribly good reason.

Anyway, how nice is the blind in my craft room?

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Barbie gets distracted

Haven't had a lot of work out of my intern since Pokemon Go got released...

Office comfort

I see you've met my Dalek, Barbie. Yes, we all have a few toys and other office comforts.

Well, I do.

Now I think of it, I do seem to have more toys than anyone.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Barbie gets interrupted again

Ok, Barbie, I know you had your heart set on getting that bug fixed, but there's another interruption.

Our system gets translated into other languages. That means someone has to send the words off to the translators. That's me. Actually, it's the tech writer, but I give them to him.

But today's challenge is, a tester wants to test the translation. But we don't have the words back yet.

So I thought we could make some fake translations, half install them, run a compile, pull out the language files, and then undo all our changes. Then send those files to the tester. Will she work out how to install them, do you think?

Turns out yes, she did. Our tester has a Masters degree.

Were you keeping notes on all those procedures, Barbie? We'll probably have to do this again one day. That's right, keep those devices charged.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Barbie gets really fixing

So, we've stopped the error message. Problem solved? Nope, we need to work out what that missing code was supposed to do . Or rather, what the original code would have done if we had originally wanted to do the thing we now want to do. Yeah.


What should it do? Clue's in the name. It's named along the lines of "verb - noun", so I guess we just have to verb the noun.

Then it will be lunch time. Didn't you bring lunch? I did. But I do like to treat myself to a bought one sometimes. We rather like spicy Asian food around here. And cake.

Barbie, we are NOT having macarons for lunch. Oh, you were thinking of afternoon treats? Well, that's perfectly sensible.

Barbie gets fixing

Ok, Barbie, back to the original question. The problem is, it can't find a piece of code. So we need to either make the code be there, or make it stop looking.


Trying the first one … there we go, I've just added an empty thing that doesn't do anything. It means it won't find a gap. Can you test it for me, Barbie?


Yes, testing is your job! We test stuff about every five minutes.

Yes I have a lot of pens. I use them to mark up printouts. The different colours help me think. That one's a stylus too.

Barbie handles an interrupt

OK, Barbie, quick interruption. A tester just found an issue in a patch that's about to go out. But the boss suspects it's been there forever, and so do I.  Testers eh? They just test everything!

I've run through the steps. She's right, the thing does happen, but ... is it a problem?

Let's think about that. 

Shh, I'm thinking. That's part of the job. You think too.

Ok, I've thought about it, and I'm pretty sure this is just "interesting behaviour", not a fault.

Oh, look, I've found it on the issue tracking system - it was reported six years ago. By me. I think that proves that nobody will mind. Case closed!

Can you email all that to the boss? Yes, I know he's sitting right there. Official answers go in writing.

Barbie gets caffeinated

You know how I said we drink tea here? Well, at 10.30, we have coffee. That's just how we do it. Bring your reusable cup, the barista knows what I want.

Are you keeping notes on your iPad, Barbie? Good idea. Never know when you'll want to refer back to something. Hot tip - keep your notes in the cloud. Then you can read them from home.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ...

No seriously, you'll be able to read the same notes on your phone or laptop if you need to. 

Barbie works on a defect

Now we're getting down to it. Check the issue tracking system - next thing on my dashboard is a defect to fix. Looks like, when we connect one of these things to one of those things, the result isn't stable. Why would that be? Ah, when we wrote it, we never expected to be connecting these with those. OK, let's fix it!

I've recreated the issue - I had to get another developer to help me decipher the user-speak.  Before we go on, let's write out the "steps to reproduce", and add that to the issue tracking system. After we're done, this will go through at least one tester, can't have them waste time. Too.

Barbie gets logged on

First things first. Let's check our emails.

Let's see... New procedures for producing beta releases. Cool. Proposed naming for new classes. We'll review that. Work drinks tonight. Yay! 

Oh, self funded work drinks. Ah well. The other kind is pretty rare.

Barbie starts her day

No, Barbie, we are NOT starting the day with fancy coffee. We drink tea around here, strong, and plenty of it. We're going to have to get you a tea mug.

Nice laptop, by the way.

My new intern

I have a new intern at work. She's a software developer. Well, the box says "Game Developer", but I think she should be doing the real stuff, like me.

She's Barbie! First Barbie I've ever had.

OK Barbie, first we're going to have to get you a desk. You can't sit, so this tissue box will do for now.

And lose the headset, we're here to work.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Edinburgh - visiting one of my favourite towers

I know you just come here for tourist advice. Well, I had a little bit of time in Edinburgh recently, and made the most of it.

On the chilly morning, before driving further up north, I walked until I saw an interesting tower. Well, once I'd seen it, I had to go there. It turned out to be the Nelson Monument in Calton Hill.

And you can climb it! It's a fairly strenuous spiral staircase, and a fantastic view.
Here's my photo. It's been severely dressed up with Snapseed, the app I use to fix photos that are too dark or whatever. I climbed to where that man is.

See the big ball on top of the tower? It's partly obscured. The ball has a real job. At 1pm every day, it gets hoisted up, and drops. That's a visible signal to ships at sea, important for navigation. At least, it was important, back before we had GPS navigation. But they have restored it, so the ball drops again! I was there way before 1pm, so I didn't get to see that.

From up there I could see Holyrood Castle, Arthur's Seat, and Scottish Parliament. And I got to spot lots of birds (birdwatching is a cool holiday hobby, it gets you looking around properly).

Sunday, 12 June 2016

My links won't load in Facebook on my iPad!

Here, I'll do some trouble shooting for you.

If you
- have an iPad
- use Facebook
- use the Facebook app
... then you might one day see this problem. 

The Problem:
You read a Facebook post, and the person who posted put in a link to something - a joke, a recipe, an article. You click on it. But it takes ages to load. Or it never gets there.

First thing you can do (to get around it today):
- while its trying to open, click on the three dots in the top left hand corner. That opens a little menu, including "Open in Safari". That should work.

Second thing you can do (to stop it happening):
- when you are in the normal Facebook view, click on the down-arrow next to your name. That opens a little menu including "Settings"; choose that
- one of the options is "Browser"; choose that
- there's only one option, "Clear Data". Choosing that seems to fix the problem.

All of this suggests that the Facebook app is not so well behaved. But don't miss out on reading those jokes, recipes and articles!

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Let me colour something for you

One of my favourite things... Demonstrating at craft shows! It's tiring, but the buzz of people getting inspired is hard to beat.

I worked for Michelle at Mixed Media Art at a Picture to Page in Cranbourne, and a lovely time was had by all. While Greta showed off the GelLi printing, I was demonstrating Art Foamies, together with Gelatoes, and stamps from Dina Wakely, and from Carabelle. Splendid fun, I made tags, and used some to fill our board with one for each colour scheme - then gave the rest away! I hope that means our happy customers have a starting place for using their new goodies.

Here's our sample board, with a tag for each colour set of Gelatoes.

And this ended up being my favourite tag of the day. This  Carabelle stamp set is just simple, abstract shapes, but we use every trick in the book to make them look awesome!

A nice place to call home

Still in Scotland... I had part of a day free while Frank was at work, and I had a car. Well, I never want to waste a day, so I took off for a drive. Lorraine recommended Glamis Castle. And it was an amazing day. No photos inside the castle, it's actually a private (rather gorgeous) home...

But here we see the best bit, an oyster catcher, who has decided that the best place to nurture eggs is next to a frequently-visited castle. The staff roped the area off, to give this family the best chance.

Catching up ...

I seem to have left a gap in this blog. Then I felt bad about it. I find that *I* like to read my blog, because that where I put my fun photos.

I had a visit to Scotland! It was for a sad reason - my father passed away, and I went for the funeral. But, it was a time to see my brother Frank, and also, see some of Scotland.

I thought it was very impressive that, with the level of tech available now, I could decide to travel on Tuesday, and be in the air on Wednesday, with all accomodation and services booked ahead. I even had a map showing me how to walk from the bus to my Edinburgh hotel, and another just in case I wanted to walk from there to the castle.

I arrived late in the day in Edinburgh, jet lagged of course, and stayed he might there before driving to Blairgowrie. Good choice,as it turns out.

I could see the castle from my Edinburgh hotel room. Nice.

I hired a car for the trip, and had a hellish drive around Edinburgh, trying to get safely to the Forth Road Bridge. I made mistakes, there was at least one closed road, and I just wasn't familiar with the place. Still, got out soon enough, and decided that wasn't so scary. So, I'm not afraid of any of that stuff any more. Interesting note - my car was a manual. If I hadn't been driving a manual here, I'd have been really, really stressed out.

Then I got to Blairgowrie and saw Frank is his excellent shop, 
Blairgowrie Cookshop

Friday, 25 March 2016

At the Crystal Castle

Last time we drove through Mullumbimby, we saw signs to the Crystal Castle. It all looked a bit hippy, and we chuckled about it.

Well, now I've been there. It's gorgeous! Mum and I had a delightful visit there. There are beautiful gardens full of amazing plants, and pretty places to relax, think and contemplate.

We called these plants "Muppet Chickens".
Mum found this terrifying creature in her salad. Oh wait, it's a tiny cucumber. My curry was just excellent too.
Beautiful place to visit. If you felt you wanted to leave money on any of the statues, it was collected and sent to an orphanage they support.

They have a garden that supplies some of the food for the kitchen. And look, someone's left a pineapple on this plant.

Most important part of the visit, the wishing tree. You are invited to leave a message on the tree. Mum wrote a note to Peter, and sent it off on one of the high branches with fresh new growth.

Back to Ballina

I had another visit to Ballina. Sadly, this time it was to go to Peter's funeral. Peter was Mum's partner for many years. He fought illness off with great vigour, and finally slipped quietly away.
This is Peter. He had a long and interesting career. He was in service in a stately home in Cornwall (so, you know, he was one of the younger footmen in Downton Abbey.). He was on the staff at a posh London club. He was a salesman. He was a caterer and waiter. Here he is running a function in Brisbane.

They retired to Ballina about twenty years ago, and went up north to Cairns many times.
I went up for the funeral, and spent a few days with Mum. So the next post can be about fun things!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Shelly Beach and the Best Creature Competition

We just had a trip to Ballina to visit Mum and Peter, and to the Gold Coast.

On the last day in Ballina, we had a bit of free time, and Mum took us to her favourite beach, Shelly Beach. We crunched in the sand, paddled in the waves, and clambered over rocks.

I announced the "Best Creature" competition - find a good creature in the rocks to enter. You know, crabs, starfish, lobsters...

The entries came thick and fast.

There were these anemones.
Jonathan found a tiny live crab.
Mum found a huge not-live crab, who agreed to pose very nicely.
Then mum entered again with a cool jellyfish.

And I took the time to enjoy watching the birds. The terns were doing that thing where they flutter into the wind, then dive for a fish, and come back up again.

I pointed this out to Jeff, and I assumed he'd join me in enjoying the pretty sight. Instead, he called Jonathan and Thomas over. "Watch this, guys". He made a gun out of his hand, trained it on a tern, and watched for the moment when it folds its wings back. Then he shouted "BANG!" as the bird plunged.

And the three of them spent the next fifteen minutes "shooting" birds. Sigh.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

They are so quick...

...but I do like catching flying birds in my photos. On a windy day at the bird hide, I noticed the swallows were going pretty slowly flying into the wind, so I managed to snap a few.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

The new IT crowd

Both our clever sons have been offered places in an IT degree at a really conveniently place university (bit of a luxury, studying twenty minutes down the road). To get them properly prepared, our university fund has stretched to two new, shiny, pretty laptops. Here is Jeff, getting Thomas (next to Jeff) and Jonathan set up.
I'm trying to remember, and Jeff is too, who it was that helped us set up our first laptops for uni. I guess I must have been my mum.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Behind the Yart, 2016 edition

I've just had some artwork publishing in "Cardmaking, Stamping and Papercraft" - it's been a while since I've done that, so I'm pretty pleased.

The project features Dina Walkely's gorgeous bird stamps, the ones I insisted Michelle (of Mixed Media Art) get lots of for selling at Picture to Page, the fantastic papercraft show she was exhibiting at. And she runs the whole show too, so, you know, she doesn't have to do what I say. But she stocked upon bird stamps, and wow, were they popular!

So I decided to do a project with them.

The ideas for what project started when I made this birthday card:

The background of that main picture is printed with a Gelli Plate and a stencil from Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. The awesome honeycomb background is a die from Sizzix, and I've picked out some of the hexagons to have decorative paper, and text, showing through. Yes, all of that was an awful faff.

So, I decided to make a project featuring the birds. I decided to leave out the gelli plate idea, because that's good enough for another whole project.

Here's on of my play sheets. I cut birds out of this, using the Stampin' Up Project Life dies (nice even rounded rectangles every time). Later switched to adding those background stamps AFTER colouring - the lovely Jane from the magazine warned me that colouring with alcohol-based markers over dye-based ink can be bad news for your markers, so I'm not going to recommend bad methods!

When I'd made my "bits", I spent ages shuffling them around, and had fun taking photos of the arrangements. That turned out to be super practical - I could walk away and review my work on the phone or tablet. It gets you thinking about composition.

Here's one of my compsition tests. There were lots.

And if you want to see you it turned out, maybe you need to grab volume 22, issue 6 of Cardmaking, Stamping and Papercraft! Here's a sneak preview: