This parenting lark

Naughty step
Naughty step (Image by memespring via Flickr)

I’ve kind of got into the parenting thing quite late on. Not so much in my life, but of those of the kids I’m finding myself scarily “responsible” for.

Quick catch-up for those who didn’t know. By day I’m a secondary school teacher, trying my best to control other people’s kids. By weekend (and holiday), I’m a boyfriend and try my best to control two specific kids owned by my better half.

To be fair, they’re lovely kids. ‘E’ is almost 10 (going on 16…) and her brother ‘A’ is approaching 3. He’s quite a handful compared to big sis, but they get on like oil, water and a box of matches at times.

I’ve got no siblings. The closest I’ve got is my little cousin, the same age as ‘E’ and the two of them get on really well. Little Cuz was over for a sleepover last night which kept the girls quiet. ‘A’ had a cracking day as well, really well behaved – even going as far as to tidy up. Unheard-of territory!

And then today. We went swimming this morning, only his second ever trip to the baths. He was less sure of himself than last time and it took us a while to get him in the water past his ankles, but after a while he was having fun, swinging at swimmers-by with a large polystyrene purple float. As you do. He was great round Asda, as he usually is, then fell asleep in the car on the way home. As he does.

He was also cranky when he got woken up as we arrived home. Nothing unusual in this! However, he pushed “crank” too far when Gill sorted out a butter and jam sandwich for him. He waited with taste buds erupting as she spread the butter. Then the jam.

And then lost it when she started to cut the bread. Screams, arms going. Gill folded it over and handed it to him and he went mental. Pulled it into two bits and threw it at her. Not good behaviour at the best of times, and especially not when his mum’s nursing a pretty awful head cold.

Naughty step time.

I might not be ‘A’s dad but we both share one very common trait. We’re stubborn as all hell.

‘A’ refused to sit on the step. He screamed. He yelled. He bawled. In between he drooled, cried and somehow found time for the occasional sob. I tried to make him sit. Not having it. I told him to sit. Nope. His mum wandered past (around the 15 minute mark…) and told him to sit. He refused.

He screamed in my ear at a pitch that would likely have had dogs for three streets around running in circles. This went on for three or four minutes until he was coughing. I sat and stared at him. He screamed some more. I stood up and turned my back on him.

Quiet.

I turned around and he was stood there sobbing. I pointed to the step. He shook his head. I turned my back.

Quiet.

I turned around and he was legging it upstairs to his room. I collared him and carried him back down. Needless to say, there was more noise.

Time to lead by example. By now he was crying his head off and standing with his arms open, asking for a hug. I sat down and explained to him that if he sat down next to me, he’d get one. I said please. He repeated what I wanted. Then refused to sit down.

We were on around 25 minutes by this time. I had a pretty watch to look at (thanks, Gill!). ‘A’ had nothing.

I sat. He cried. I tried to explain the rules, he screamed. I stood up and turned my back, he sobbed.

Finally, after forty minutes I sat and ‘A’ collapsed on the stair at my feet. As promised, cuddles followed for me and from his mum. He was much more settled after that and had a good afternoon playing quietly while sick mummy slept on the sofa.

One thing my parents always tell me (and everyone else, thanks folks) is that I was a stubborn little sod as a child. Some things don’t change. ‘A’ picked himself the wrong person to try his luck against!

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The Mechanic

Original poster
Poster from original 1972 version!

Gill couldn’t join me at the cinema this week as we couldn’t get a baby sitter. As such, I skipped the arty stuff and went to see something nice and Neanderthal. Ladies and gentlemen:

The Mechanic

“*BOOM*”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Hired killer gets stuck in a plot involving other people being killed. People die. Things explode. More people die. Come on, it’s a Jason Statham film – what do you expect?

With the exception of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Statham’s output has been fairly formulaic. Big explosions, car chases and ass-kicking has made up everything else he’s been in. The quality, however, has varied. For every Transporter 1 there’s a Crank. The Mechanic fortunately falls into the “good films” camp and is actually fairly low-key with the action sequences.

That’s not to say that there’s not a lot of action.

The film is set in the world of contract killers. Statham plays “Arthur” (probably not his real name), who is coerced into doing a job he doesn’t really want to, and then has to deal with the consequences. The nature of his chosen profession dictates that he has to be sneaky rather than all-out spectacular and this is reflected in the action scenes. They’re fairly short, tight and well-choreographed – no time wasted.

There’s also a lovely touch of gore to them with some nice blood spatter from the gunshots and plenty of bits to make you go “ow, bet that hurt”. Nothing up there with Saw, but gruesome all the same.

It’s not a bad story, either, although once the details have been set down it’s fairly obvious who the real bad guy is and what’s going to happen by the end. Regardless, it’s great entertainment and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Possibly Statham’s best all round film to date.

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Morning Glory

Unusual title for a film. Gill thought it was rather funny, though why she reckons green weeds used in Asian cooking are amusing is beyond me. We actually saw this as a “back up” when NEDS filled up. With neds, funnily enough. I’ve never seen so many shitty tracksuits in one place outside of SportsDirect.

Morning Glory

“He’s the third worst person in the world”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: busy-bee producer takes over beleaguered breakfast TV show and tries to turn its fortunes around.

I love an unexpected gem, and Morning Glory turned out to be one of these. It follows the same basic plot lines as any “small fry against the big guy” movie, and the two competing hosts who hate each other (Harrison Ford and Diane Keaton) story has been done plenty of times before.

Rachel McAdams plays the small fry, Becky Fuller, unexpectedly sacked when she expected promotion. She finds herself in at the deep end with another network, heading a show that’s about to sink.

So far, so predictable. Then enter Ford as the excessively grumpy Mike Pomeroy. A man who doesn’t want the job he’s forced into and who hates his co-host Colleen Peck (Keaton). Ford doesn’t actually turn the film around, the script just happens to go up in tempo when his character arrives on the scene.

The surprise star of the show, and the character who definitely gets the belly laughs, is Ernie Appleby (Matt Malloy). There weren’t many in the cinema, but everyone we could see was bent double with laughter at the point where Becky makes a desperate grasp for a ratings increase and Ernie the weatherman becomes her weapon of choice.

It’s predictable, it’s been done before, but it’s a great little movie. Ford and Keaton are simply superb – and Jeff Goldblum‘s near-cameo as the studio exec is a peach.

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iomega iConnect review

I just posted the following to Amazon after a few hours tinkering with the new toy. The iomega iConnect is a “wireless data station” that’s designed to allow you to share up to four USB drives (maybe more with hubs attached – not tried) or printers. The main reason for us buying it was to stream media to the Xbox in the front room and to two laptops (gran and daughter) elsewhere in the house.

The ideal situation would be to keep “mature audience” films separate from the “whole family” ones. This is do-able if the films are accessed by users over laptops, but not via the Xbox. Details in the bumph below.

It’s not a bad device, but it’s a shame it builds itself up with a load of features that don’t live up to the hype.

OK, this is a nice idea but as other reviews have stated the device fails on the little extras that make it so appealing in the first place – and due to some hidden charges.
First up, the interface is slow and clunky in the way that too many web-based front ends are. It can be a pain finding sections you’re after.
The claim that you can secure certain “folders” is incorrect in as much as the system calls any volume (i.e. hard drive partition) attached a folder. You can only restrict user access to each of these, not to the *actual* folders underneath. If you need to do this, look elsewhere (like a file server).
To stream media to an XBox or PS3, you tell the system to make all media available for streaming on a per-folder/partition basis. This means that if you have kids in the house, you’ll have to store your “mature audiences” films on a separate drive and log into the interface to enable/disable media streaming as and when you require it via the console. This is also the only way to block them from the content using the “security”.
Torrent download is a complete waste of time. Only one torrent at a time, and the speed is ridiculously slow. I attempted a couple of downloads. On a PC attached to the same network I was getting 250+Kb/s. On the iConnect, I peaked at 3Kb/s. THREE. Estimated time to completion was over a week. Just forget this feature – it’s pointless.
The ability to access the device from outside the home seems fine, though when you enable it you find that after 12 months, you have to cough up each year to keep it working. The system employs a 3rd party web service which checks your external IP address and logs it on a web site with a personalised URL. You go there and it redirects to your iConnect. This helps get around the issue of dynamic IPs as usually issued by home ISPs.
There *may* be  way round this by using a service such as no-ip.org. Keep a machine on at home running their service (free) and check the IP address when you need it by pinging your no-ip address. Then use the URL https://YOUR-IP/index.html?t=1
This may not work if the iConnect itself decides to disable the system after 12 months. I have no idea if it will or not and won’t for 364 more days!
I’ve also set the system to email me with any faults that occur. This seems to work fine, but it worries me that it’s mailing so often – usually claiming it can’t access the remote server that stores the external IP address.
Oh, the available volumes frequently vanish from the supplied management client software meaning that you can’t manage them using it. Having said that, you can get round this by going to the iConnect’s static IP address (make sure you give it such an address on your router!) directly. This issue doesn’t seem to affect the volumes being displayed and accessed through your Explorer – you just can’t administer anything.
Overall, nice idea but let down by rubbish unreliable software. Having said that, it (sort of) accomplishes the main task we had for it which was to stream media to the XBox and kids’ laptops. A shame the security wasn’t better on it so that we could restrict things more easily although I recognise that due to the fact that the Xbox can’t “log in” as such, the media either streams or doesn’t. Just a good job we have a little girl who’s trustworthy!

OK, this is a nice idea but as other reviews have stated the device fails on the little extras that make it so appealing in the first place – and due to some hidden charges.
First up, the interface is slow and clunky in the way that too many web-based front ends are. It can be a pain finding sections you’re after.
The claim that you can secure certain “folders” is incorrect in as much as the system calls any volume (i.e. hard drive partition) attached a folder. You can only restrict user access to each of these, not to the *actual* folders underneath. If you need to do this, look elsewhere (like a file server).
To stream media to an XBox or PS3, you tell the system to make all media available for streaming on a per-folder/partition basis. This means that if you have kids in the house, you’ll have to store your “mature audiences” films on a separate drive and log into the interface to enable/disable media streaming as and when you require it via the console. This is also the only way to block them from the content using the “security”.
Torrent download is a complete waste of time. Only one torrent at a time, and the speed is ridiculously slow. I attempted a couple of downloads. On a PC attached to the same network I was getting 250+Kb/s. On the iConnect, I peaked at 3Kb/s. THREE. Estimated time to completion was over a week. Just forget this feature – it’s pointless.
The ability to access the device from outside the home seems fine, though when you enable it you find that after 12 months, you have to cough up each year to keep it working. The system employs a 3rd party web service which checks your external IP address and logs it on a web site with a personalised URL. You go there and it redirects to your iConnect. This helps get around the issue of dynamic IPs as usually issued by home ISPs.
There *may* be  way round this by using a service such as no-ip.org. Keep a machine on at home running their service (free) and check the IP address when you need it by pinging your no-ip address. Then use the URL https://YOUR-IP/index.html?t=1
This may not work if the iConnect itself decides to disable the system after 12 months. I have no idea if it will or not and won’t for 364 more days!
I’ve also set the system to email me with any faults that occur. This seems to work fine, but it worries me that it’s mailing so often – usually claiming it can’t access the remote server that stores the external IP address.
Oh, the available volumes frequently vanish from the supplied management client software meaning that you can’t manage them using it. Having said that, you can get round this by going to the iConnect’s static IP address (make sure you give it such an address on your router!) directly. This issue doesn’t seem to affect the volumes being displayed and accessed through your Explorer – you just can’t administer anything.
Overall, nice idea but let down by rubbish, unreliable software. Having said that, it (sort of) accomplishes the main task we had for it which was to stream media to the Xbox and kids’ laptops. A shame the security wasn’t better on it so that we could restrict things more easily although I recognise that due to the fact that the Xbox can’t “log in” as such, the media either streams or doesn’t. Just a good job we have a little girl who’s trustworthy!

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