nmg: (Default)

Today we are mostly being very, very tired.

Generally busy weekend - Eurovision party on Saturday night, which involved a great deal of tidying. Gark Villa survived the attack of experimental subjects L and T rather better than last time, mostly thanks to the oilcloth on the table. The [livejournal.com profile] garklet seemed to enjoy the attention from them, even when he was being flattened by their boundless enthusiasm.

On the topic of the [livejournal.com profile] garklet, two important milestones were passed this weekend. Firstly, he cut his first tooth. Secondly, he ate (or at least gummed) his first solid food, being a carrot grabbed from [livejournal.com profile] ias's plate. I present the following two images as proof:

Read more... )

As you also may be able to tell from those photos, we don't currently have a cat.

Of course, the addition of the new tooth meant that his nibs woke about every hour last night, so all three of us are now feeling rather fragile...

nmg: (architecture graffiti)

[livejournal.com profile] ias and I have now been living in our house on Monks Way for almost 27 months; of the places we looked at, it was the largest we could get for what we could afford, and was in a pretty good location as well. It's also the only place I've ever lived that's been mentioned (albeit in passing) by that cataloguer of British architecture, Nikolaus Pevsner. Of course, the entry for Swaythling was actually written by David Wharton Lloyd, his collaborator on The Buildings of England: Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, but this is much like Leslie Halliwell getting someone else to write dismissive film reviews in the style of someone who loathes all films made after 1965...but I digress.

The comparison with Halliwell is probably a little unfair, because Pevsner didn't dislike modern buildings, only buildings designed without a view to aesthetic appeal. Lloyd's description of the University campus - presumably endorsed by Pevsner - is very complimentary about many of the buildings, most notably those designed by Spence (particularly Law, the Faraday tower and the Lanchester building) but also Ronald Sims' Maths tower.

The description of the area as Swaythling is also a little inaccurate; properly speaking, we live in Mansbridge, but the distinction is largely academic. The estate we live on is an interesting one because of the circumstances under which it was built. The Swaythling Housing Society built our estate in the 1920s and 1930s (our house was built in 1936), partly subsidised from the profits made on other developments in the Highfield area of the city, most notably Orchards Way and Glebe Court, both off Highfield Lane. Having looked around [livejournal.com profile] surliminal's house, I can say that the difference in build quality between Orchards Way and Monks Way is minimal. The main differences are that the external brickwork of our house is rougher and hidden by a cement render, and our house as a whole is built on a smaller scale than those on Orchards Way, although the design and layout remains excellent.

But again, I digress when I could be letting Pevsner and Lloyd do the talking:

Swaythling Village and Perambulation )

So, our road is described as "insipid", and the flat that [livejournal.com profile] clarehooper recently mentioned is "clumsy". Overall, I think that the winner in the des-res stakes must therefore be [livejournal.com profile] surliminal, whose road is described elsewhere by Lloyd/Pevsner as "The sort of suburban housing development which set the pattern in the better council housing estates for about ten years after the Second World War, but the stand here was seldom if ever reached."

nmg: (diy)

Felt too full of the cold last night to go to [livejournal.com profile] elseware's party, so woke up this morning feeling full of beans after a night on the sofa. We had our windows replaced last week, which has left us with a bit of a problem. The existing aerial cable ran down the roof, through the gutter, and in through the window frame, so the installers had understandably cut it. I'd already installed a new cable that ran down from the loft (installed before our bedroom was replastered the year before last) and had bought a new aerial, but hadn't got as far as connecting them up. Since then, we've had the loft converted, so the access to the head of the replacement aerial cable is rather more awkward.

Therefore, I've spent the day crawling through dirty spaces between the eaves and the edges of the loft room, where the loft people had helpfully dumped all the old boards. I've fitted the new aerial in the loft by the water tanks (outside the loft room), run the cable through and connected it all up. I also fitted in a trip to Maplin for an aerial amplifier (unneeded, as it turns out - the signal from Rowforth is quite strong enough), some low attenuation cable to fit between the aerial and the amplifier, and a smart SCART switch so that I can leave the PS2 plugged in without needing to keep swapping SCART plugs on the back of the TV.

What I haven't yet done is neatly finish off the bottom of the aerial cable in a wall-mounted socket, but that can wait for another day - I'm happy with what I've done.

nmg: (happy mac)

So I exaggerate - we're not quite at the level of certain other bibliophiles, but we do have upwards of 3-4000 books in Gark Villa. Unfortunately, I also have a poor memory so I'm forever buying duplicate copies of books that I already own, or lending out books and forgetting who to. One of my projects for paternity leave and Christmas was to investigate software for cataloguing our collection, and perhaps make a start on the task. However, the [livejournal.com profile] garklet took up more of my time than I'd envisaged (that is, all of it) and I didn't get very far.

[livejournal.com profile] perdita_fysh mentioned the software that she'd been using to keep track of her books: Delicious Library. Given that I have a shiny new MacBook Pro, I thought I'd take a look. Five minutes later, I found myself $40 lighter.

Delicious Library is a very slick piece of software that automates much of the tedium of building a library catalogue. It uses the iSight camera to read barcodes, and automatically retrieves the bibliographic information from Amazon. In addition to books, it can also catalogue CDs, DVDs and computer games. It has minimal circulation functionality for tracking loans, but this is nicely integrated into iCal and the address book.

It isn't perfect, and there are a number of areas for improvement, some of which may be dealt with in the next version: integration with online library catalogues is essential for high quality metadata, since the Amazon data is uniformly dreadful (LOC or COPAC would be my choices here, and services like CDDB would suffice for music); it needs to improve the way it handles metadata (representing editors as well as authors would be a good start); it needs smart collections along the lines of iTunes' smart playlists.

There are other systems with similar (or greater) functionality, such as Bookpedia from Bruji or the open source Books, but Delicious Library is better finished and more robust.

nmg: (Default)

As mentioned in previous posts, we're putting up a shed this weekend. Believe it or not, this is actually on the critical path to getting the nursery sorted out before the garklet arrives (erect shed, move paint tins from library cupboard to shed, move computer into library cupboard, turn former computer room into nursery). The shed got delivered this afternoon, slightly later than I'd hoped, and I can now breath a huge sigh of relief.

You see, when we took down the previous shed, [livejournal.com profile] ias and I measured the plot and realised that we had enough space to fit a 7'x7' shed. I went ahead and ordered the shed from Screwfix.

A week later, I woke up in the middle of the night with the realisation that I hadn't measured the height of the passageway through which I'd need to move the shed panels in order to get them into the back garden. A passageway which has less than 7' of headroom at either end. I lay there tossing and turning for the four hours until dawn while trying to work out what I could do:

  • There's limited space at the garden end of the passageway, so there's no guarantee that we'd be able to turn the panels to clear the garden gate if we moved them diagonally through the passageway.
  • We're mid-terrace, so we'd have to heft the panels over at least two gardens if we were to try and get things in from either end.
  • That aside, there's a wall at each end of the terrace with a doorway of the same dimensions as our passageway, so we'd have to lift it over that wall as well.
  • It might be possible to take the panels apart, carry them through in bits and reassemble them, but the base is a single sheet which would need to be cut.
  • Lifting the panels over fences and walls would take more people than we're likely to have around at the weekend.

We've been very, very lucky. The highest minimum dimension of the panels is 6'10". The diagonal in the road end of the passageway is 7', and there's just enough space to get round the gate at the other end. Moreover, the shed panels were light enough either for me to move by myself, or for [livejournal.com profile] ias and I to move between us (yes, I forced my wife to do heavy labour when almost eight months pregnant). The downside is that it's clearly a very cheap shed, but hopefully it'll last for a few years longer than the previous one was going to.

nmg: (Default)

Fancy a weekend of destruction? Handy with a wrecking bar, a hammer, or a screwdriver? We've got two sheds in our garden at Gark Villa, both of which have seen better days and at least one of which is surplus to requirements, so we're planning a orgy of mayhem and chaos over the August bank holiday weekend (that's the 26th-27th August for the calendrically challenged like myself) in which we're hoping to demolish both sheds and put up a replacement that's more secure and less likely to collapse.

Given [livejournal.com profile] ias's, ahem, 'delicate condition', we could do with a bit of help, so this is a call for volunteers. In return, we'll feed you and ply you with good beer.

Anyone interested?

nmg: (Default)

64.25 metres of shelving to be precise. Now all we need to do is move around some of the existing shelves to fit all of our oversized books (mainly [livejournal.com profile] ias's photography books and my gaming stuff) and unpack the remaining boxes. But before that, a poll!

[Poll #676591]
nmg: (Default)

We have ADSL in Gark Villa. Also, my back is starting to feel quite a bit better. These are both Very Good Things.

nmg: (Default)

Well, that's it. Gark Towers (or as the University of Bath insists on calling it, Cotswold House) is no more. We've spent our last night under its flat roof, and the vast majority of our belongings are now gone. I say vast, because the amount of stuff that we'll need to move out over the next week is still quite substantial. We need to get better at this hoarding malarkey.

I'll probably write something longer on Monday, but for now suffice it to say that I'll miss this place. It's a great house, even if it does have its pecularities, and being on the edge of a university campus means that our summers have always been blissfully peaceful (even if the rest of the year hasn't). We're now off to the new place in Southampton (which we bought in January), and which is tentatively named Gark Villa.

Of course, I've not been able to say goodbye to the cat, since she still runs from the sight (and sound) of me. Plus ca change.

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Nick Gibbins

August 2010

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