Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory & “the graduation song”

I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Land of Hope and Glory by Edward Elgar and A.C. Benson, but as it turns out, this massively patriotic English song is bizarrely used at every graduation ceremony in America…

Growing up, I was always aware of The Proms, especially The Last Night of the Proms, but since my Mum didn’t have a love of classical music, it was never something that I watched or ever had a desire to watch.

For some reason unknown to me, last week I ended up watching some of the pieces from The Last Night of the Proms of recent years and I fell in love. I must have listened to Land of Hope and Glory about thirty times, including blasting it out in my car on the way home. Land of Hope and Glory is a song with the words written by A.C. Benson to be sung over the music, Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 by Edward Elgar. It’s a truly patriotic song and easy to see why it caught on so quickly when Elgar played it for Queen Victoria in 1901. Continue reading “Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory & “the graduation song””

How to access Airport Utility remotely

If you need to change the configuration of your Apple Airport router while away from home, there’s a way to do that and it’s actually incredibly simple.

On more than one occasion, I have found myself wanting to make changes to machines on my home network which required adding a port forward to my router (Airport Extreme Time Capsule in my case). I used to think that I’d just have to wait to get home to use Airport Utility while on my local network and apply the change. Today, I had another such need but I decided to dig in and figure out how it could be done remotely.

It turns out that the solution is actually very simple. Continue reading “How to access Airport Utility remotely”

My road trip from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR

It has long been me and my family’s dream to move to Portland, OR. Earlier this year, that finally happened. This post is about the 4,100 mile road trip that my Dad and I made to get from one corner of the country to the other and all of the places we saw (and avoided) in between.

I’m going to write another post about how the planning, the move, the driving and the logistics went in a separate, future post, so keep your eyes peeled. This post is more about the adventure.

Last autumn, me and my family finally got word from my company that the move we had long wanted to make (to Portland, OR) was going to happen.

We set an approximate date and started planning for it. Ultimately, we decided that it made the most sense for me to drive across the country and for Marti to fly. Continue reading “My road trip from St. Petersburg, FL to Portland, OR”

Blockchain: A revolution occurring right in front of our eyes

Blockchain is best known as the technology that underpins Bitcoin, but it is so much more than that. Its uses are endless and in the very near future, we can expect all trade to occur on a blockchain, as well as more abstract uses, such as electoral voting.

Over the last few years, if you’re Internet-savvy, you may be aware of blockchains. If you do, you probably know it as the technology that underpins Bitcoin. If you know more than that, you’re in a very small group of people who actually understand what it does and how it’s capable of so much more.

Let’s take a step back. For those who don’t know, Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency” which is a currency that uses cryptography to handle transactions. Bitcoin is not backed by any central government as most currencies are today (the dollar is backed by the Federal Reserve and so on) and thus, is not subject to the purview of government. It is in this vein that many people have perceptions of Bitcoin being used for illicit activities. And while it does afford a level of anonymity if one so chooses, its uses go far beyond that and the illicit usage is only going to represent an increasingly small percentage of Bitcoin’s users as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become more prevalent.

The reason that Bitcoin can work without the backing of a central institution like the Bank of England is what is known as triple-entry accounting, made possible by the blockchain. In modern accounting, we use double-entry accounting, which means that for every debit, there has to be a credit somewhere else. This system has been in use since the 1400s and provides error-checking, but doesn’t stop people from falsifying records (think of “cooking the books” a la Enron).  The “third entry” in triple-entry accounting is a cryptographically-secure public record of every transaction so that these transactions can be verified. This is the blockchain. When you make a transaction using Bitcoin, a record is made in the blockchain and now everyone knows that one wallet paid out some Bitcoins to another wallet and so everyone agrees how many Bitcoins are in each wallet. Continue reading “Blockchain: A revolution occurring right in front of our eyes”

Oregon’s pedestrian laws

A pedestrian stands at the side of a six-lane road with a speed limit of 55mph, but there’s no marked crosswalk. Surely you, the driver, have the right of way? Not in Oregon.

If you should ever come and visit Oregon, you need to be aware that laws governing pedestrians are probably quite different than what you’re used to.

The main difference is that every single intersection is a crosswalk, whether it’s marked or not. So, whether you’re travelling on a residential street or a six-lane arterial road, if a pedestrian is waiting to cross at an intersection (that is, where two roads meet, not necessarily a marked crossing), you must stop to allow them to cross. Continue reading “Oregon’s pedestrian laws”

A new law for short cars

Teeny-tiny cars and motorcycles have burned me one too many times. It’s time for legal action.

I’m introducing a new law for short cars which I think will receive overwhelming support from the public. Here it is:

All vehicles shall park such that the end of their vehicle is aligned with roadside end of a parking space rather than the wall/sidewalk end.

Why might you ask? Well, I was just bitten again by this situation – a situation I’m sure you’re all very familiar with. You’re driving around the car park looking for a space and 10 spaces in front of you, you see an open space, so you commit, line up, turn in before slamming on the brakes because you realise there’s a teeny tiny car or a motorbike parked there.

All cars are now required to park such that their car is visible from the driving lane to avoid these infuriating incidences.

A Sky Full of Stars

I’ve wanted a tattoo in honour of Ellie for a while now and seeing how free and joyful Ellie is when she hears ‘A Sky Full of Stars’ was perfect for expressing my love of her in ink

Back in January, I went ahead and got my second tattoo. Whereas my first tattoo was for Marti, I decided that I also wanted one each for Ellie & Jack.

I spent quite a bit of time thinking about exactly what I wanted to get that embodied Ellie and how I feel about her. One of my favourite videos that I have of Ellie is when she fell in love with Coldplay’s A Sky Full of Stars and she would rock out to the chorus when it came on. Every single time I watch that video, her uninhibited joy makes me smile. And every single time I hear that song, it instantly makes me think of her.

Ellie asked for a dance party

I knew that I wanted to use A Sky Full of Stars in my tattoo for her when one day I was vacuuming with my headphones on and A Sky Full of Stars came on. For some reason, I was overcome with emotion (to the point of falling to my knees and sobbing with joy, which has never happened before) thinking about how much I love Ellie, what a blessing she is and how one day she’s going to be a grown woman that I may have the honour of walking down the aisle. Continue reading “A Sky Full of Stars”

How to remotely access your VPN-connected computer with Dynamic DNS

By using a dynamic DNS service in conjunction with some static routes on your home computer, you can access your home network, files and computers remotely, even if your main computer which reports your IP to the dynamic DNS service is permanently connected to a VPN.

This is a problem that I’ve been trying to crack for a long time now. I want to be able to access my home network remotely. The problem seems simple enough, but there were a number of roadblocks stopping me from doing this.

Firstly, my Internet connection at home has a dynamic IP address. This means it’s hard to target it because the IP address changes regularly. The solution to this is to use a Dynamic DNS service. The way these services work is to run a utility in the background on your computer and report its current IP address back to the Dynamic DNS service. It ties this IP address to one of its own domain names or a custom domain name that you ascribe to them.

I started to pursue this option. I purchased my own domain name and got an account at Dynu, one of several free dynamic DNS services and attached my domain name to it. I installed the IP Update Utility on my home computer, added my account credentials and successfully started reporting my IP address back to Dynu. However, there was a problem…

My computer is always connected to a VPN. Thus, whenever the IP Update Utility retrieved my IP address, it was getting the IP address of my VPN, not my public IP address. Thus, if I tried to use that to access my home network, I’d instead end up at the servers of my VPN service. Continue reading “How to remotely access your VPN-connected computer with Dynamic DNS”

How to say sorry

It’s taken 30+ years of life experience and 10+ years of marriage to realise that there’s a LOT more to apologising than I ever thought possible, and frankly, most people kind of suck at apologising.

“I’m sorry” is one of the most common phrases in the English language, but probably one of the most misused.

Before I got married, I didn’t understand any of the art of how to apologise. I thought you did something, you recognised that it was wrong, you said sorry and you perhaps asked for forgiveness. I was missing out on huge swathes of psychology, intricacy and emotion behind the phrase.

Since getting married and learning both by experience and by reading, I have learned that there is so much more to apologising and I was certainly doing it incorrectly in the past. A quick rundown of some of the things that you’re probably doing wrong when you try to apologise: Continue reading “How to say sorry”

New terms for certain times of the day

Our current library of terms for describing certain periods of the day aren’t adequate enough in my opinion, so I’ve taken the liberty of creating a couple of new terms that fill this gap.

I’m going to propose a couple of new terms that fill a gap in our available descriptions for certain times of the day.

For example, you want to meet someone at 4 or 5 pm. Would you say that you’re meeting them in the afternoon? In the evening? Over dinner? No. The first two don’t really represent the general time period that you have in mind and over dinner might suggest (perhaps incorrectly) that there’s food involved. The solution?

af·ter·ning

It’s a portmanteau of afternoon and evening that adequately describe the grey area between the two.

Similarly, but a little less elegantly, perhaps the period between what is clearly morning and what is clearly the afternoon should be called the mor·ner·noon.

Or, perhaps, I use portmanteaus a little too often and humanity has gotten us this far without such words available to them…