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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

  • 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!


  • Lisa and Modelsearch 2010

    Posted on by rob

    Back in September both Lisa and Emma went out for the try outs at The Grafton Centre for Modelsearch UK. Emma didn’t make it through but Lisa did. Then it was back for the second round of try outs in early October and Lisa managed to get through again. That brings us to Oct 23 and the rehearsals for the big show.

    The daily show started on the Sunday and ran until Wed Oct 27th.  Lisa has been doing 3 show 4 times a day.  Today was the last day and the last show of the day which was suppose  to start at 6pm but is running late, will be judged by a panel.  image

    Lisa is very excited about this final show. The winners will get a gift certificate good for any shop in The Grafton Centre plus some professional photo and a chance to sign on with an agency.

    1840hrs Lisa has just finished two of the show.in The final.image

    Final update … Lisa didn’t get selected this year, but she’ll go back next year and try again for sure!


  • Camping Trip – Day 1

    Posted on by rob

    We started out a weeks camping by leaving the house about noon on Sunday. The drive to the camp site, Brickyard Farm Camp site (Banham, Norfolk, NR16 2HQ), was only about an hour or so from home. Even at the reduced speed we had to travel at because of towing the trailer. After a stop at Sainsbury in Thetford for a few last minute supplies and lunch as well, we arrived at the camp site at about 1400hrs, plenty of daylight left so we could take our time getting everything set up.

    Lisa and Emma immediately found the horses in the fields to go and see plus a swing set to play on as well. I was a bit worried for a while, there were no other kids around. Then, a family came trooping back into camp. They’d been out to the Banham Zoo. It’s about 1/2 mile down the road. Anyhow, Lisa and Emma quickly became acquainted with Hanna, 7yrs old. They spent the next 3 or so hours playing all sorts of games and running around the farm.

    The camp site itself is a small family run business. It’s run the brother of our neighbour, very nice folks. They popped around to check on us and see how we were settling in. Quite layed back, they haven’t asked for money as yet. The site is, as I mentioned, small. Only about 6 or so pitches, most with electric. We didn’t bother with that, I’d brought the 120amp battery with us. More then enough power for the week to run a laptop if needed and charge the phones. I brought a 12v florescent lamp as well but likely won’t need it.

    The kids are knackered. They’ve had a busy afternoon that’s for sure. Tomorrow we’ll be walking to the zoo and checking out the animals and whatever else they have there.

    Well that’s about it from here tonight I think. the big people are knackered too and ready for bed now as well.

    Watch this space for the day 2 report. I won’t be posting pics on the blog, but check on facebook, flickr and mobypictures and of course Twitter.com/m1xzg for updates.

    Btw, this is all from my phone, there are likely spelling errors, I will fix them later. Don’t think I have a spell check on here.

    Posted by Wordmobi