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    Baby Signs


    2013 - 02.06

    Just wondering if there’s anyone we know who has some experience with Baby Signs or Baby Signing.  It seems as though there’s a few different options out there, and perhaps a few schools of thought.

    The original book that started it all seems to indicate that you should see what signs your baby is already making when they are trying to communicate and to largely adopt those as the language you use (this is a gross simplification).  We probably all at times growing up either had secret languages, or fantasized about having them.  That said, secret languages are most useful not in communicating but in keeping secrets, and that’s counter to our goal here.

    Other advocates seem to use primarily ASL (American Sign Language which is the official sign language for English speaking Canada), which makes sense to me since it would be a larger life skill for both the baby and us, if we started to become fluent in it we could actually use it for something else, whereas the secret language wouldn’t provide this benefit.

    One thing that I found especially odd is that as far as I can tell none of the programs are endorsed or provided by Deaf organizations.  It seems at least on the face of it that would be a natural fit, good outreach and a valuable revenue stream.  Also the fact that those organizations don’t seem to be involved at all triggers some cynicism for me at least.  Regardless, at this point we’re still planning on going forward with it.

    So I guess the questions that we’d like answers to are:

    • have you tried signing with your baby, and would you recommend it?
    • what resources if any did you use?
    • did you use ASL based languages or something else?
    • did you take a course, and would you recommend it?
    • did you teach everyone in the family the various signs? how about baby sitters?

     

    One thing we have learned…


    2013 - 01.06

    After the move one of the things that we noticed was how much better our TV looked, and it’s definitely something we’ve appreciated while we’ve been sick.  There hasn’t been a lot of anything other than watching TV over the last week.

    Back in the old place we had lots of windows and relatively normal blinds which do a crappy job of keeping the light out.  Coupled with having the TV on the fireplace mantel, giving a less optimal viewing angle and I don’t think we fully appreciated how good our TV looked until now.  Proper viewing height and a blackout shade make a huge difference to the viewing experience.

    I think we always knew that we weren’t getting the most out of our viewing experience, but didn’t fully appreciate how much of a difference it can make.  So if your HDTV is somewhere with a less than optimal viewing angle, or where there’s too much uncontrolled light, try it somewhere else and see what a difference it can make.

    NAS: recommendations?


    2012 - 12.10

    It is time for us to invest in some Network Attached Storage (NAS), and since we aren’t currently invested in any particular ecosystem, it seemed like a good time to see what everyone else is using and liking.  There seems to be a large assortment of options out there, but in general everything looks good when you read the spec’s.  Features which seem important to us:

    • Support for at least one of RAID 5, 6 or 10 (or equivalent)
    • Support for at least 4 drives
    • Might be nice if it supported mixed drive sizes, or dynamic adding of discs later (or swapping in discs)
    • Should support at least 2TB drives (if not larger)
    • Should support Gigabit connection
    • Management software should be usable

    I’d also like to hear opinions on drives for use in a NAS.  So feel free to offer your opinion, educated or otherwise ;-)

    Anti-Virus: what do you use?


    2012 - 12.08

    We’ve got a couple of subscriptions of various anti-virus products which are expiring and I thought rather than simply renew what we have, I’d consider switching to something else.  So I’m curious what people are using now, and whether they are happy with it (and would recommend it).  Our requirements are pretty straightforward:

    • anti-virus that works and which doesn’t make your computer unusable due to the amount of processing the AV does
    • we’ve got at least 2 desktops (Win XP, Win 7), 1 laptop (Win 7) which I’d probably install the same software on
    • additionally we have a desktop (Win ME), and an iPhone which could potentially make use of an appropriate product as well
    • anti-virus is the only feature which is critical, but most of them these days include additional features so we’re not adverse to having those too, although none of them have leapt out at us as being necessary
    • cost is not a significant concern, but it would be nice to get reasonable value

    Opinions?

     

    Moving: recommendations wanted


    2012 - 11.13

    So we’re moving at the end of the month from a 2 bedroom condo, 880 sqft, on the 16th floor to a 1,400 sqft upper level suite.  So we have elevators at one end and stairs at the other.  We have too much stuff (and we’re working on that), but if anyone has recommendations or experiences that they can share (positive or negative) it would be appreciated.  Specifically about:

    • movers, to use or not to use
    • rental trucks, good or bad
    • frog boxes or other moving boxes/supplies
    • cleaners and/or rug shampooers
    • anything else that you think might be important that we might not have thought of

    The total distance for the move is about 5km, but it might be the case that we have to be out on Nov 30th and can’t be in until Dec 1st.

    Kal Tire: True Service


    2012 - 10.26

    This story is several weeks old now, but it’s worth telling regardless.

    Karin and I were headed up to Whistler to walk around the village and to go to the BCDSS AGM.  We left in the late morning, stopped in Squamish for lunch and gas, and then 3 kms later we heard a noise, turned out it was a flat tire.  We pulled off the highway and called BCAA.  The local towing company arrived and helped us change the tire.  We decided to carry on and visit Whistler.

    It wasn’t until several days later that I had a chance to go and see someone about the tire.  Sadly it’s not the first time I’ve had a flat tire.  The last time I had a flat, I was told that I needed to replace all 4 tires (which is sometimes the danger when you have an all wheel drive vehicle).  So I had 3 identical spare tires, so I was hoping that one of those would be a suitable replacement.

    Based on a recommendation from my dad I went to Kal Tire, just dropped in, no appointment.  Waited a couple of minutes and one of the employees (Dwayne if I’m not mistaken) came out to take a look at my flat, which was not salvageable.  He then opened up one of the extra tires I had, and determined that it was suitable.  He told me that if I left the flat (on the rim) and the replacement tire there for a couple of hours (1.5 actually) that he’d get it mounted for me, and they could just put it on when I came back later in the afternoon.

    So I left the stuff behind and did some shopping, then went back.  It only took about 15 minutes or so after I was back for them to put the new tire on.  They also cleaned all my existing tires (made them look like new).

    So after all that, they charged me the outrageous fee of NOTHING!  That’s right, they did it for free.

    Now what makes that exceptional, is that I was totally prepared and expecting to pay for the service.  Additionally, the tires on my car were not purchased at Kal Tire, nor were the extra three that I had.  In fact they don’t even sell the tire or brand that I have.  So it was very much appreciated, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that you consider Kal Tire for your next tire needs or service appointment.

    Practical use of Bluetooth


    2012 - 10.21

    Saw the following in a London Drugs flyer last week, not something that we need (but something I’d consider if we replaced our existing cordless phones): Clearsounds i700.  Basically it’s a DECT cordless phone system that includes Bluetooth support.  What that means specifically is that you can connect your Bluetooth enabled cell phone to it, and consequently use your cell phone while at home as though it were your home phone.

    Don’t know how well it works, but still seems like it could be a useful feature, this particular system supposedly supports up to 2 Bluetooth connected cell phones.

    What I Hate about Smart Phones


    2012 - 07.16

    I have come to the conclusion that despite the usefulness of smart phones, that I hate them more than a little bit.  I’d like to think that this isn’t due to phone envy, but rather a very real problem that exists with them.  Admittedly the same problem exists with other devices (most notably tablets and laptops) but in my personal life it’s the smart phones that take the cake.

    The problem I believe is that with the small screen and the fact that people hold them close to themselves generally making it impossible for you to see what’s on the screen ultimately means that you have no clue as to what the person is actually doing on their phone.

    In our typical environment we interact with people who are engaged in activities all the time, however it’s generally obvious what those activities are, whether it’s reading a physical book or juggling knives, we have external sensory information that guides us as to whether or not the person we want to talk to is engaged in something time sensitive, important and/or dangerous.  Thus we can judge an appropriate time to start a conversation or a totally inappropriate one.  Given the lack of insight into what someone is actively doing on their phone, it’s nearly impossible for you to know if they are actively engaged in something important which you should not interrupt, and further they tend to stay nearly continuously engaged (from you perspective with their phone, even if from their perspective they switch from a game, to email, to texting, to the internet and so on) without the normal natural pauses that tend to exist when switching activities.

    To some degree we’re used to this from people playing video games, or using computers.  The key difference is that in general those things happen on big screens which are also visible to you.  So you’re able to judge to some degree what the other person is doing BEFORE you decide to interrupt them.  Allowing you to decide if what you want to ask or talk about is more important than what they are currently doing.  Thus keeping courtesy as part of the interaction.  Without the foreknowledge of their activity on their phone, it’s exceedingly difficult to be courteous with your interruptions (from their perspective at least).

    Obviously this is a first world problem, but it seems to me that it is one that will continue to get worse and worse.  Other related problems would include (but are not limited to):

    • Bluetooth and cell phone conversations in public where it’s not immediately obvious that someone is on the phone, such that you think they are talking to you

    Hopefully the designers of mobile devices, augmented reality glasses and peripherals will start to take into account the social (and courtesy) costs of the devices they are developing.

    A simple example of where this has been done to some degree is online chatting where you’re able to indicate your current status as something other than the simple toggle of online/offline, and now have options like busy or do not disturb, such that those who are wanting to interact to you through that medium have additional information which allows them to make an informed choice before initiating an interaction.

    Then again, maybe things will just get worse…

    Shaw EXO vs. Telus Optik


    2012 - 07.09

    Considering making the change either to Shaw EXO or Telus Optik, just wondering if anyone has any arguments for or against one or the other of them.  I haven’t gone and done any of the research on our options yet (beyond knowing that both are available to us).

    So I guess the questions are:

    1. are you happy with what you’ve got? if not, why?
    2. if you had the choice to make over again would you make a different one? if so, why?
    3. did you get a great deal when you upgraded/switched?
    4. anything else you think is relevant?

     

    Growing from Seed: Jiffy-7


    2012 - 06.09

    For Easter Karin got some seed starting kits, and she’s had pretty good success with them so far.  In fact so much success that she needed to give away a bunch of the seedlings because they all sprouted.  So that’s pretty cool, and maybe she’ll talk more about her experience herself.

    The point of this post though is to expound a little bit on the Jiffy-7 Pellets which are very interesting things.  They are an integral part of the seed starting greenhouse that Karin used, and you would think that because they are called Jiffy-7 that you could just go anywhere and buy additional pellets and refill your greenhouse.  You’d think that, right?

    Well it turns out that the pellets come in different sizes, which isn’t really that problematic, but you’d think that they might be Jiffy-1, Jiffy-2, Jiffy-5, Jiffy-7 pellets and such.  Turns out that logical system doesn’t apply to the Jiffy pellets, regardless of size, they are all called Jiffy-7 and they go from about 18mm to about 60mm.  What this really means is that it’s significantly more difficult to find the right size pellet, because they all have the same name, and the sizes are not always clearly marked or indicated either on the boxes of additional pellets, bulk pellets or on the Jiffy Greenhouses themselves.

    So the bottom line is that they are a great product, but that you need to be especially careful that you know what size you’re looking for so that you aren’t disappointed.