Remembering Nana Kath

I’ve thought quite hard about writing this post mostly because I am not too comfortable with public displays of emotion, things like what I am about to write are private. However this is no ordinary circumstance and I’d like to be able to look back in a few years time and remember how I felt and what this person meant to me. This post is for me.

Yesterday at about 5:30pm my Grandma passed away.

In simple terms I am devastated about this, my grandma was the only grandparent I knew, I don’t remark this in a bitter way its simply how life ended up. So devastated, yes, but in other ways I feel joyous and pleased. Joyous and pleased, for rather than this being a tragic situation, a life taken away in its prime, an unexpected shocking demise, it is a chance to celebrate a remarkable life.

Nana Kath, as she was known to everyone was just over 100 years old. Now in years to come this may not be a remarkable age, but today it is. Think about this, my Grandma was born Sept 22nd 1912, thats two years before the first world war. In 100 years she has lived through a lot and seen unprecedented change.

Unfortunately I couldn’t give you the history and life story of my Grandma, there are many facts I would end up getting wrong and 65 years had already been and gone when I was born. What I can tell you is that during all of the years I was privileged to have with her I have rarely met a keener mind. Her memory always amazed me, she recount stories from her childhood as if it was yesterday. In another time and place she would have achieved so much, but shackled by circumstances and the time of life she achieved everything a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother should.

Right up to the age of 100 she lived an independent life, a quiet life in the heart of yorkshire. She lost her beloved Charlie nearly 30 years ago, a long time to be apart.

In her last few years she was loved and remarked a sense of awe by all she knew and met. Her 100th birthday party being a fantastic celebration where she far outlasted even the most optimistic expectations of her. Family and friends from far and wide together in appreciation.

The last 6 months have been hard and in the end I like to think she knew it was time to go and I am thankful for the small mercy of her not suffering. Its time to be reunited with Charlie.

In her final days in hospital two tales epitomise my Grandma for me. When she was first admitted to hospital her first remark to the nurses was:

I hope you’re not going to put me in a ward with all the old folk.

And when a nurse found out she was 100 she asked whether she had received a telegram from the Queen and if she had put it up on her wall, her reply was:

Oh yes I got one of those but there’s no room for it on my wall, its full of important pictures of my family.

She kept her humour to the end and even in her wane was still a shining light.

R.I.P. Nana Kath, I love you.

Techno-baby!

Over the past year or so my Apple product ownership has gone from zero -> four (well maybe 6/7 if you count peripherals). Is this because I am now a Fanboi and will join the queuing masses in the coming months when the iPhone 5 is announced and camp out for days to be the first, yes the first to own it for a nano second. The short answer is no, I’m still not a massive fan in fact when I spent £1500+ on my first Apple product I felt dirty inside and the yorkshireman in me died a bit more. Don’t get me wrong the products are all good, a nice quality, but are still overpriced for what they are. I could have bought 3 decent laptops over the next 5 years for the price of the Macbook Pro. I bought these devices because as a developer it opened up more doors for me.

So around Christmas time when I was trying to desperately come up with a good gift for my wife I turned to Apple once again and bought an iPad. The device doesn’t fit my needs personally, if I’m surfing the net then I want to do it on a fully functioning laptop. If I’m casually surfing, my phone suffices. For my wife however it did fit the need, I wanted a replacement to my wife’s ageing netbook and the iPad fit the bill.

I also had a sneaking suspicion that my one year old Adam would take to it as well. What I didn’t realise was how much and how easily he would take to it. Bear in mind that we are talking about a baby who cannot yet talk and has the attention span of a fly. He was instantly hooked, and in some ways obsessed with the device. It could keep him amused for minutes (a big thing for him)! He instantly got the interaction and was happily switching between apps and making noises, and turning the screen to flip it to the right side. Amazing really for someone so young.

Fast forward 6 months and whilst he still can’t talk (he’s getting there) his level of understanding of what the iPad plays is astounding. We downloaded apps that make animal noises as he likes animals and the education that the iPad has given him is brilliant. As the following video shows, he can identify animals I wouldn’t have believed possible for a 21 month year old. And he definitely hasn’t memorised the locations, they change between portrait/landscape modes, and there are multiple pages. He literally knows what an Elephant is, looks like and sounds like check this link right here now. The video doesn’t show it be he equally can point out flamingos, camels and crocodiles, not your average farm yard.

I never had anything like this as a kid, as obviously the technology wasn’t there, but today it is. I am filled with a sense of awe of what children today will be achieving in 20-30 years with a foundation such as what is the norm today. Technology is amazing.

Rugby World Cup Post Mortem

So the rugby world cup is over, well for England anyway, for the teams which have embraced the future it continues and good luck to them all. For England the glory days are well and truly behind them 2000-2003. It was always going to be hard to live up to the world class team of 2003, but we’ve been in the doldrums for a while now, and its simply because the game has moved on.

England have nearly always played knock out rugby well, 2007 being the prime example. Grind out results, hey it might not be pretty but it works. Unfortunately it no longer works over 7 games and things need to change drastically or England face many years of toil, disappointment, the occasional high followed by many lows.

Could the quarter final knockout actual be good for England. The answer is yes if they learn from it. I’m no coach, just a long time fan of the game, but I’d like to analyse 5 things which I think needs to be looked at. Take them with a pinch of salt of course, and feel free to disagree, this is my list and I’m not even qualified to comment, its more of a rant than anything else.

Another point to make is that I’m not going to touch on the media circus surrounding the team. Off pitch calamities have been overblown and help no one but the media outlets sell more papers. Yes the team could be more professional and make sacrifices for a 6 week tournament but that isn’t the heart of the issue.

Basic Skills

Much like a footballer who’s paid to kick a leather ball around a field the basics of the game are not that hard. In my eyes every single professional footballer should be able to dribble, shoot with both feet and head the ball, the degree of proficiency with each skill depends on your position but you should be able to do them, after all thats what you are paid handsomely to do.

In rugby the basics are throw the ball, catch the ball and tackle. Much like football your position demands different levels of proficiency in each skill but you should be able to do each of them from 1-15.

So why does the England team knock on so much, and miss so many tackles? Maybe its cause I am so focussed on the England team but it seems to me that we make far too many passes above the receivers head, drop a high percentage of pop passes and miss a lot of tackles, especially when chasing a high ball.

Come on these are the basics, if we can’t get these right how on earth are we supposed to move on to the intermediate skills? The reason the southern hemisphere teams are so much better than us is because they get the basics right. They know that if they pop a pass out of a tackle there will a) be a man on the shoulder to receive the pass, and b) that player will catch the pass.

Its all well and good having a great forward pack, but if every time a chance is created or a break is made, you know the good stuff a player does, if it breaks down because a player can’t catch a ball well thats just pathetic really.

Discipline

The game of rugby has a lot of rules, some of them are strict and are easy to enforce, like no punching or gouging etc. If you do it on the pitch either the ref will see it and punish you or you’ll get cited after the game. That’s the way of it and its the same for every game.

Other rules are a little looser and can go either way, and some of the best players in the world know how to bend the rules to their advantage. And sometimes you have to break the rules to prevent points being scored. Its always been the way and I’ve got no issue with that. You are never going to have a game where no penalties are awarded.

The ref is there to enforce the rules and some refs enforce them better than others (more on that later) but more often than not a ref is going to tell you as a player if you need to leave a ball on the ground alone or if you are in danger of giving a penalty away. If it isn’t one of those times when its give the penalty away or its points, and high points at that, desist in what you are doing. Simple as that. If you are near the half way line and isolated, and risk being turned over, let it happen. Rely on your team mates to win it back, thats what they are there for. Conceding possession, followed be territory and/or points is senseless, and infuriating to watch.

Instinct may stop a player from doing this. Well that isn’t good enough coaches need to coach this instinct out of the players, and players need to work to do it. What there needs to be is a punishment system for persistent offenders. Its no good being the best scrummager in the world if you cost a team 9-12 points a game, and label your team as persistent offenders.

New Talent

You can’t buy experience apparently well that doesn’t seem to ring true very much anymore. Experience at the expense of talent is wrong. Just because a player has played 50-80 times for your country it shouldn’t automatically guarantee you a place. The reason is that a player may have got that experience by simply being the best of a bad bunch, or a mediocre bunch at best.

I’m looking at players like Nick Easter, Louis Deacon, Mark Cueto and Mike Tindall. All good players and experienced ones at that but they have never been world class players and the experience they bring does not make up for this fact.

Our best player by far this tournament was Manu Tuilagi, young, inexperienced and therefore doesn’t know how to grind out a result. Well bollocks to that, he was cleaning up after Tindall all tournament and the only player to consistently break the line. Look at the welsh team, the team isn’t made up of experienced players for the sake of it. Hell Stephen Jones wasn’t even on the bench in the Quarters, and they didn’t even take Martyn Williams!

Its time to ditch this experience, take a plunge and build a new team. If that means we have a couple of years of being in the bottom 3 in the nations, so be it. Its better than persisting with players who are never going to be good enough. And I never thought I’d say this but that may mean ditching Jonny Wilkinson, however for me, and this is quite a personal preference I don’t think Flood is a replacement.

Injuries

Some players never have any luck, if we look back to football there are always some players who always seem to be injured. Kieron Dyer a prime example. So is the case with rugby. Some players seem to be perpetually injured.

Two players spring to mind here, Andrew Sheridan and captain Lewis Moody. On his day Andrew Sheridan is a fearsome player, strong as an Ox and a powerful scrummager. Unfortunately his days are few and far between as he’s always getting injured.

Injuries are part of the game and its gotten a lot worse in the last few years as players have gotten bigger and more mobile due to the changing game and its professionalism. Problem is players who are prone to injury are a liability.

Should a place in a squad go to a player who might last a game just cause he’s quite good. Or is his likely injury going to end up being more disruptive to the squad as a whole?

And your captain’s name is first on the team sheet, a guaranteed spot. Is certainly shouldn’t be the likely case of if he’s not injured, and he shouldn’t be coming off every game after 60 minutes. If you’re prone to injury you probably are not worth the gamble, sad as that may be.

Referees/Laws

My final point is probably going to be a bit contentious as I have always considered the refs in rugby to be sacred and not to be argued with. But for a while now refs have been ruining the experience of watching the game.

The best refs for me have two qualities, they let games flow and deal with incidents as and when they need to, and they treat both teams the same. Sometimes these can be at odds with one another as if the ref is going to be strict and punish both teams then the game doesn’t flow but I’d rather have that than a ref who calls one team up on everything and lets the odd thing slip for the other team.

I would never go as far as to say refs are intentionally biased as I really don’t believe they are but I would say refs can be influenced by the state of a game and give decisions based on what has gone before.

The people running the game need to take a look at some of the rules and see where it is ruining the experience of watching. Things like the scrum where it seems either side is as likely to give a penalty away no matter what is happening.

Captains/players are talking to the ref more and more, which doesn’t seem right. But when the ref is having to explain his decision as the players don’t know what they’ve done wrong, well that isn’t right either and I’ve seen quite a few instances of that.

It may just be sour grapes but I shouldn’t be talking about the refs performance at the end of a game. I’d much rather talk about how good/poor a side have been in the game itself. Unfortunately this isn’t the case very much, and that just feels wrong.

For what its worth I thought the ref had a good game in the one which England lost, he was fair and consistent and thats how it should be.

So there we go the end of my rant. Thats what is wrong in my eyes, fixing things will be down to the England Team and Management whoever that may be post world cup. For now I’d like to wish Wales all the best for the World Cup. You were my dark horses at the start of the tournament and are playing the game which deserves to win. Whether you have enough to beat NZ is still to be seen, but I’ll be cheering you on hopefully all the way!

Bringing the Magic of Star Wars to the Next Generation

A bit more of a light-hearted blog post here. Prompted by seeing this video on the kottke blog got me to thinking randomly about the Star Wars saga today. I was born in the same year as Star Wars came out, its pretty much always been a part of my life and I have seen all six movies quite a few times!

The release order of the films was always a wonder to me as a kid, and when they announced the first three films were being made I literally had a geekgasm. Ultimately the first three films, whilst visually stunning, never really lived up to expectation. They never really had a chance, I was no longer 6 years old, my tastes and expectations had moved on considerably. My opinion now is that the first three films were aimed much like the first movies at the children and not me as an adult. You could say they weren’t as good and probably aren’t, after all the original movies are widely recognised as three of the best movies ever made which is a lot to live up to.

Anyway I’ve moved on and now I have a kid and think its my duty to introduce him to the saga as well. But now I see a bit of a dilemma, what order do I present them in? My initial reaction is the same order they were released, the same order I saw them in. But is this right? Given that the three newer movies would likely be enjoyed by him more than me and seeing the saga in chronological order should make more sense?

Seeing the kids reaction in the video above presents a strong argument to see them in non-chronological order, after all if he’d seen the third movie he’d already know Darth Vader was Luke’s father. George Lucas you have effectively ruined this surprise and many others by revealing stuff that was yet to happen in later movies – you utter bastard.

Would Star Wars have the same magic for Adam as it did for me if he saw the weaker films first? In fact would it have the same magic for him full stop, given that movies have arguably better special effects now than the original movie (although it still holds it own), would it still have the wow factor?

So what to do? I’m still undecided and don’t have to make a decision for a couple of years at least. One thing I’m sure of is there will be more difficult decisions than this to make over the coming years! In the meantime, that reaction above… priceless!

Starting my own business

This blog last year was devoted to me developing and re-skinning the site slowly using the latest web standards and development techniques. This year hopefully the blog will be devoted to me documenting a new career and business.Movie Passengers (2016)

As I said in my review of 2010 my employment status has changed for the first time since late 1999. After 11 years at LCG working for Five by Five I took redundancy just before christmas without a really good plan for the future. This could be described as a bit foolish given that I now have a family to provide for with the usual burden of a mortgage and some of the most challenging financial times in recent history. Fortunately for me 11 years redundancy payment has eased the urgency for a solid plan and has afforded me with the opportunity to try something new on my own terms.

Since christmas I have slowly eased myself into January with a very rough plan of going it alone. Admittedly I haven’t thrown myself into things tooth and nail as yet given the lack of money urgency, and basically I’ve given myself January to do a few bits and pieces before hopefully kicking on. Whilst I’ve always thought about going it alone I’ve always worried about jumping in given the lack of financial safety net, I’ve also also worried about my own personal motivation levels which haven’t always been high recently. But most of all is the fear of actually having to get the work, I’ve no worries about my being able to deliver as I have very solid development skills, but can I find the work, and will it be in enough quantity and of high enough value to make ends meet in the long-term?

So far I’ve done a bit of reading into starting a business and to be honest I haven’t found a resource which is straightforward and answers some of my basic questions. The business link is a great place to start and has a comprehensive level of information but the sheer amount of information is a little overwhelming and I found myself flitting from one question to another without really getting anywhere. Fortunately I have some good friends who have all been through this themselves already so I’ve found myself leaning on these friends for advice to answers such questions. So here’s my first bit of advice, if you have some friends who have experience, tap into it!

I’ve a list of things to do which whilst isn’t comprehensive certainly gets me started:

  • Name the company
  • Buy a domain name
  • Create a brand (logo)
  • Develop a web presence
  • Define service list
  • Set up as self employed
  • Get a business account
  • Get some work!

So far I’m not far down the list, I’ve got a name – AB Development – and I’ve bought the domain name but essentially that is it. I’ve got a good idea of my list of services, to start with it will be full service web development, in the future it will hopefully also include iOS development. Stay tuned as I work my way down the list, and in the meantime if you need a freelance web developer, or have a development need for yourself please get in touch.

2010 a review

Well 2010 has certainly been a different year, one of unprecedented personal change but ultimately has to go down as a successful one. In September I became a dad which is by far the biggest challenge I have ever faced, but also the most rewarding. As if this wasn’t enough change I have also left the company I joined after graduating in 1999, 11 years ago. One things for certain not heading back to work in January is going to be wierd! So what next? I plan on taking some of the skills I have built up over the past decade and take them to market myself. Its time to brush off some old development skills, learn some new ones and take up the challenge of going it alone.

In terms of this blog how have I done? Well I set myself the challenge of writing one post a week, and as expected I’ve fallen short of this. In reality I’ve struggled to output one post every two weeks, but overall I am pleased with this achievement. Given a full time job and over the past few months a baby I think my output was always going to suffer. I’m going to set myself a similar target for this next year. Working for myself may leave me with some extra time to work on my own stuff. However if things take off who knows it may even suffer more!

So goodbye 2010 and hello 2011 an exciting year I hope. And hey if you’re reading this and need some development work please get in touch!

2 minute silence

Its not often I see a piece of marketing and think genius, but that is exactly what I thought when I found out about The Royal British Legion’s 2 minute silence single.


Anyone who resides in this country should be grateful to those who have kept us a free country over countless years. Remembrance Sunday is a chance to reflect on people who have lost their lives in pursuit of this goal. Every year we should pay out respects and the 2 minute silence at 11 am on the nearest Sunday to the 11th November affords us with a chance to do this. Buying a poppy is of course a must and something I will do every year without fail however the 2 minute silence can pass by all too easily.

And this is the genius in the campaign, if enough people support this campaign and the song reaches number one, then perhaps, just perhaps radios will be forced into silence on this day. A small thing but anything which raises awareness is a good thing. At the same time you will be raising more money for this worthy campaign instead of wasting it on the latest N-Dubz track or whatever is in the charts at the moment.

I’ve just purchased it off of iTunes which meant I also got the poignant video accompaniment featuring the faces of many a famous person. The silence was very moving.

I’d urge everyone to stump up the cash and buy this.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

http://www.facebook.com/poppysingle2010

Adam Thomas Binns

Exactly one month ago today my life was changed forever. On 11/09/2010 my wife and I were blessed with the birth of a baby boy. After a relatively easy (well for me anyway) labour a screeching bundle of joy was delivered into my trembling arms, a moment I will never forget. He was a healthy 7lb 10oz, all the right bits in all the right places and I can say without a hint of bias the most beautiful baby I had ever seen. We’ve named him Adam Thomas Binns.

Since that day what have I learnt?

  • Babies are forever, they take a lot of time and devotion
  • There’s no manual
  • You can’t reason with a screaming baby
  • Frustration and bewilderment can instantly be replaced by joy with a single smile
  • Babies poo a lot
  • What works one day, fails the next
  • Nothing can prepare you for the change a baby brings – you can try, but I guarentee it will be more than you can ever imagine.
  • It has taken me one month to write this post!

I’d like to say a huge Thank You to every one of our friends and family for all their kind messages and presents we’ve received. Abi and I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s generoisty.

One month down, and a lot more to come, wish us luck!

perl -le ‘$child = fork();’

I’d like to introduce to the world the first picture of my first child, and like most parents I couldn’t be prouder. After having our first scan last week I can safely say the magical feeling of seeing our child for the first time is a memory whch will last a lifetime.

The last 10 weeks or so have taken an age to tick over and finally being able to reveal the news that has been bursting to get out has been a relief. The messages of congratulations have been fantastic and it really makes your realise what wonderful friends we have. So to everyone a heartfelt thank you.

And now on to the next stage of our lives, with a mixture of fear, the unknown and anticipation of joy. A plethora of emotions but an overall sense of happiness which is hard to describe.

Of course I couldn’t let the opportunity slip to not geek this occasion up a bit as the title of this post suggests. Fittingly for a programmer at heart I will be 32 when our child is born which is a nice computational number. Take it one step further and when I’m 64 he or she will then be 32, which are two great computational numbers! We shall celebrate important milestones in our lives in the same years, when he or she turns 18 I will be turning 50. What ever way we look at it the math is just right!

The last paragraph will probably earn me some ribbing from friends and colleagues but I really don’t care, at this moment I am buzzing on a high I’ve never experienced before.

Ladies and gentlemen I present the forthcoming Binns 2.0!

I’d like to introduce to the world the first picture of my first child, and like most parents I couldn’t be prouder. After having our first scan last week I can safely say the magical feeling of seeing our child for the first time is a memory whch will last a lifetime.