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  • Good-bye 2015 … Hello 2016

    2015 is all but over already … we saw good times, bad times, stressful times and everything in between.

    I had some fantastic outdoor times in 2015 with some great folks that I’d met through YouTube.  I can’t wait to do many more camps with them in 2016.

    Watch this slide show of photos from over the last year (not too many of them I promise)

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    We’d also bought our first house in 2015 and made a big move from Cottenham (where we lived for 10 years) to Swindon.  It was a huge change for us, but all in all I think it was a good change.  It certainly put me closer to the places I wanted to be for my camps.

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    Our new house, but not our car

    Lisa also joined Scouts in 2015 and she’s been loving it.  First with the troop in Cottenham and then joined in immediately with 1st Stratton St Margaret right after the move.  The transition was pretty easy for her and she fit right in pretty much from the start.  I also got much more involved with Scouting myself first as an occasional adult helper in Cottenham and now I’ve started the process to become a Scout Leader.  More news on how that goes in 2016.  We’ve done several scout camps this year and had an awesome time at each and every one of them, and looking forward to many more in the years to come.

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    Lisa getting invested into 1st Stratton St Margaret Scout Troop.

    Emma has also moved from Brownies, which she really didn’t like.  She just didn’t get out of what she wanted.  She’s now in Cubs and will move to the same Scouts Troop with Lisa and myself sometime early in 2016 (once she’s about 10 1/2).

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    Emma getting invested into Cubs

    Work life also saw loads of change, some good, some not so good.  Certainly an increase in stress levels, that has not been fun at all.  But it pays the bills so for the time being I need to just accept it.

    So, what is planned for 2016?   Well who really knows haha I don’t have many plans for the new year but one thing is for certain, I plan to do a lot more camps and get out a lot more.  This includes going out alone more, with groups like the MTFU and Camp Shaky folks and of course camping more with the family (we have a new big tent that we need to use).  I’m also planning to do more training in bushcraft and primitive skills in 2016.

    I’ve already booked one course in Flint Knapping with Hands On Bushcraft and looking forward to that.  I’m also booking a full weekend (Thursday – Sunday) at the 2016 Wilderness Gathering.  Really looking forward to that.  We managed to get there for the day this year and the kids had a good time.  Lots to see and do, too much for one day.  So, next year we’re doing the entire weekend.   I also plan to attend more of the various weekend bushcrafty kind of things in 2016 and take the kids along as well.

    So, now I’ll close this post along with closing out 2015 and wish everyone a very happy new year and hope that 2016 brings so much awesomeness to everyone that they don’t know what to do with the excess.   For everyone I met in 2015 and spent time with, thanks for the great memories and can’t wait to make more in the new year.

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    The logo for my YouTube Channel

  • Family photo shoot…

    Posted on by rob

    On Sunday (March 4th) I’d booked a 2 hour slot with The Works Studio in Croxton, St. Neots.  This was the first time I’d been “on my own” too shoot in a studio.  In my previous blog posting you’d seen I’d attended a 1 day lighting course in the place location.  It was quite a bit different just being left to my own in there haha but in a good way.

    The models for the day were Yuki, Lisa and Emma.  They all had a great time getting their photos taken and all were pretty good models (I think).  Lisa really got into the swing of things, every time she heard the “pop” of the flashes she’d move a bit and take a new pose, it was just automatic towards the end haha.  Emma also got into the groove but she was going for a more silly sort of thing most of the time.

    I was really surprised by the time, I’d expect things to be more rushed then they were and really hoped that 2 hours would be enough to get some good pics, as it turned out we ended up leaving about 15 mins early.  We were all tried and getting quite hungry so packed it up.  In the end I came away with around 350 photos, I shot everything in RAW format (around 6.3 GB of photos).  RAW gives the best chance at trying to recover any slightly bad photos.

    Towards the end I’d asked Martyn (the owner) to lend a hand and take a few family photos of all 4 of us.  I’d thought about using a tripod but none there had  the ability to pend and shoot portrait mode so I needed a hand.

    Anyhow, you can see the photos by CLICKING HERE, I’ve not uploaded all the photos from the day, there were lots of nearly duplicate photos or ones I just didn’t see the need to publish.

    Here are some samples though

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    I will certainly get myself back to a Studio again in the future, it’s rather good fun shooting in that sort of environment .. total control of the lighting and better control of the climate as well haha no rain or really cold temps (or hot in the summer) to deal with.   I may already have some others to shoot in the future, watch this space 🙂


  • Hamster + Worlds Smallest Wi-Fi Camera

    Further to the blog posting over at Lisa & Emma’s Blog, I’d posted about how the girls got a cute little Syrian Hamster, named Nibbler, for Christmas.  I wanted a way to keep an eye on him in his cage that might be fun for the kids too… what to do, what to do .. oh yeah, get geeky and find a small camera for the cage, HamsterCam<tm>

    This is something quite new to the market and it’s come out just at the right time.. enter the SMART-I (World smallest Wi-Fi Camera) by Smart Witness.

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    Here are a couple of pics of the camera fitted to the cage.

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    The field of view is pretty tight on the camera, which is a bit of weakness as it’s sort of sold as a security type device, it’s only 50 degrees, it really wants to be closer to 90 degree’s I think (or at least adjustable).  But it really is a crack’n little device.

    Setup is crazy easy, plug it in (or put a battery in), switch it on, look for it’s WIFI Access Point SSID and connect to it.  If you want it to join your existing WIFI network so it acts as a WIFI client rather then an access point on it’s own, just switch it to the Setup Setting, connect to it’s SSID and configure it for your network including the WIFI key, switch it off and back on again and you’re done.

    There are a couple other minor annoyances I have with the device but all but one can be fixed with firmware updates.  The one that can’t however is it’s ability to see in low light.  I don’t mean no light, but middle of the afternoon with the curtain drawn and all you get is a black camera.. not really ideal for a “security” type device.

    I’ve not yet tested it’s ability to see with a IR light source.  I’ll test that and if it works I may rig up an IR flood lamp on an PIR sensor so it will trigger the lights when Nibbler moves about the cage.

    It could really doe with a pan and tilt system too haha but that’s asking for too much in something so small.

    Here’s a sample screen shot from the camera (this was taken with the built in recording Java app in the camera)

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    All in all I’m pretty happy with the camera and I’m sure it’ll come in handy in other places as well, as it’s a it’s own WIIF Access Point it can be used anywhere you want and that you have a USB power source (or a battery).

    I suppose I should list some Pros and Cons for this little camera to make this a bit more complete, not that it’s a proper review (yet).

    Pros

    • The size, this has to be it’s biggest asset for sure.
    • Fully Wi-Fi enabled device, access point and Wi-Fi client to connect to your own network.
    • Feature list I’ll put as a Pro, as it’s short comings can be sorted with future updates
    • Image quality in good light is quite good
    • Allows for a user/password to be set up control access
    • Runs off 5v @ 1A so most USB ports on modern laptops should be able to power the camera
    • (optional) Accessory kit comes with a stand, mains and car power adapters, battery replacement uses standard Mini USB cable

    Cons

    • Image quality in low / no light is unacceptable.
    • Only allows for a single user/password to be set, the user had all or nothing access
    • No way to limit or prevent access to audio other then by the single account, ie: no public access to camera yet blocking audio
    • The camera runs quite hot, I’ll put this as a Con, see below
    • Not water/weather proof at all, strictly indoor use only unless it’s dry outside.
    • Not likely a good idea to put this in a case for external use due to the heat generated
    • Audio quality is pretty poor, but given the size of the device and mic I didn’t expect much here

  • Happy Birthday Emma (early)

    Posted on by rob

    I say early because her birthday isn’t really until Nov 13th.  However, we had the party a week early as we’d planned to do something next weekend.  Anyhow we held the party at Cheeky Monkeys Play Barn in Fulbourn.  Emma invited 10 of her friends plus our 2 kids made 12, however one of them was unable to join us.   See all the photos, CLICK HERE.

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    This is the cake and some snacks provided by Cheeky Monkeys Play Barn, and Emma blowing out the candles.

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    Here’s Emma opening her gifts from everyone that came to the party.  Lisa is “helping” her.

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    We got the sense that everyone really had a good time at the party.

    Thanks to everyone that came to the party and Emma says thanks very much for all the wonderful gifts!


  • European Vacation (2011)

    Posted on by rob

    At around 0430 AM on Monday April 11th we set out for nearly a week long holiday on the continent. The trip started by driving from Cambridge to Dover where we got the ferry for Calais, France. We’d arrived nearly an hour early due to a bit of bad planning on my part but also due to no traffic on the roads at that insane hour. We’d arrived at the ferry port an hour early and managed to get put on an earlier ferry.  This was was great as it meant we could get to Disney that much earlier and also avoid more rush hour traffic around Paris.

    Once in France it was a very straightforward drive to get to Disneyland Paris.  I think we got checked into the hotel, “Disneyland Hotel”, about 90 mins early. Not a problem as the kept our cases for us and gave us our park tickets so we could start to enjoy the park without delay.

    The kids (and you can safely assume for the rest of this posting that I am including Yuki as one of "the kids") were mental and wanted to see the characters and get on some rides.

    Read on if you want to read all the details of trip SmileThis is a long read .. so brace for it Smile with tongue out

    Continue reading  Post ID 1809