Sunday, 26 June 2011

Wakey wakey.


Helen has been away all week for work. So this Thursday morning it was just Jack and I, as it would be for most of the week.

Jack was up long before 7am as usual. In my semi-conscious state I could hear him playing his little games until his sun on his groclock comes up.

Then I heard footsteps, which usually means he's going to come in to my room and talk to me. I quietly rolled over and checked the clock. 7:10. His groclock was set for 7:15 but tends to run fast so his sun could feasibly be up already. The footsteps swept right past my door and into the bathroom, where I hear toilet related sounds. After a couple of minutes I heard the footsteps again, I'd just like to note here that he hadn't flushed the toilet because he didn't want to wake me, once again the footsteps passed by my door.

I rolled over hoping to enjoy was was surely to only be, at most, two minutes of a snooze.
Footsteps started again, this time they were faster. THUMP THUMP THUMP once again right past my door. I hear running water and splashing. He'd gone back to wash his hands, I made a note to give him a little praise for remembering... The running water stopped and the footsteps resumed. This time they stopped at my door. My door opened a crack, I heard the usual sounds of him trying to sneak into the room without waking me.

The next thing I know, two tiny, damp and ICE cold hands are going up the back of my shirt accompanied by very evil sounding snickering...

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Getting up for school

A parent accepts pretty early on that sleeping in, even on the weekends, is among the first of many luxuries to go when the child arrives. Daylight wakes all children, even other timezones' daylight, daylight they can't even see, and they're all morning people too.
Neither Helen or I aren't much for sleeping in. By 9 we're usually both up and often will have been up for a little while.
Jack has pretty much always been a good sleeper but was always an early riser. He started sleeping through the night very early on and can not be roused by anything of this earth. If something does actually wake him he's always able to get back to sleep quickly and without much fuss. The only time he doesn't sleep well is when he's ill or we're camping. Jack treasures his sleep, once he gets there, though still insists that he sleeps with his eyes open...
Lately Jack has been sleeping in a lot. I'm putting it down to the last couple of weeks we've had his groclock set to 8 pm. The groclock is little clock that tells him when he's allowed to come out of his room in the morning by displaying a picture of a sun, we bought it to bring an end to the 4:30 wake up call we started getting. Nothing wakes you up better than miniature knees and elbows, money well spent. But he's been sleeping right past the clock lately, by half an hour on occasion. I haven't minded but now his school break is over and he needs to be getting up at 7:15 to get ready for school. So this has meant my having to go into his room and waking him. I'm used to relying on him as my alarm clock, I'm finding this shift in roles somewhat irksome. Jack is grouchy when woken and rarely coherent. He mumbles accusations at me, shoves me away and grumbles just like a teenager. I have to tell him over and over to get up, why he needs to get up, who he is and what's for breakfast. After all that he eventually replies with "I just wanna stay here in bed today." It's just as well that I still out weigh him by around 140 pounds.

Sent from my iPhone... as if by magic

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Angry Boyds.

I'm constantly searching for games that both Jack and I can play together, and he can play on his own. One of my goals as an upcoming games programmer is creating good games for kids.

It's very frustrating for Jack when he can't play a game, especially when my over experienced fingers make it look so easy. He likes so many games but can play so few, we usually wind up with him sitting on my lap watching and instructing while I play the game.

Video games for under 6's are awful. Unfortunately while there is a huge market for them, the games available are just no good. This results in the games not selling and no one investing any time in creating better ones. They're mostly being made by people who have long since forgotten the kinds of things the typical 4 year old wants.

I recently come into possession of an iPhone and whilst looking at the games available for it I came across the Angry Birds free demo.

Angry Birds is everywhere at the minute. Even if you've never seen it, I could show you the game right now and chances are you'd recognize some aspect of it.
Basically you shoot birds like cannonballs out of a giant static slingshot at destructible objects. The more efficiently you destroy the structures the higher score you get. There is a little story to it but it's really not worth going into.

Now, I already had many preconceptions about the game mostly from my lecturers at University. They all despise the game. I was told that its was a rubbish game that's only successful because of marketing and other corporate conspiracies. Basically, people love it, Games Industry hates it...

I downloaded the game really just to see what all the fuss was about.

I honestly don't understand all the negativity.  The game is very therapeutic. It's well written, well designed and isn't half addictive. I think the 'Games Industry' are just mad because it once again proves that the silly and simple ideas will always win over the ridiculously complicated and high budgeted. Whilst playing through the demo all I could think was that Jack would adore this game.

Jack loves it. It's great because we can play it together and he can play it by himself. He's more than once snatched my phone up, unlocked it, loaded up Angry Birds and selected a specific level out of 30+. When he concentrates he's actually a really good shot. He quite often will complete a level that I've been struggling with in only one shot. Currently it's his number one request and what's better is that since it's on my phone we can play it anywhere and everywhere.

If you have a compatible phone, iPhone or Android, I definitely recommend this game. Particularly if you have a 4 year old. I've bought all three releases and we're steadily working our way through them.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Keeping Scammers Busy

I'm a little ashamed to say that I, am a eBay scam victim. About 8 years ago I was fooled by a very poor scam attempt due just plain poor judgment on my part. Everything about it screamed SCAM but I went ahead anyway and lost a fairly expensive item.

Oh well... I told myself. I was new to eBay at the time and I made sure that next time a scam appeared, I'd be ready.

I recently put a mobile phone up for auction on eBay and wouldn't you know it I've suddenly got someone offering to pay me easily 3 times what the phone it worth to end the auction early.

Great Device! i can afford to Pay you a fairly reasonable Price of £150 for the cost of the item and £15 for Postage. Immediate Payment will be sent via PayPal . Kindly get back
to me now with your PayPal email so that Payment can be sent

I'll admit they had me for a minute there. But experience told me to tread carefully so I replied with this. Just in case they really wanted to pay that much money for a very cheap phone.

No problem. Just to confirm, that's £150 UK sterling plus £15 for shipping. As soon as the payment is received I'll ship the item airmail tracked.
A few minutes later I got this and my suspicions were confirmed. The english isn't quite there, and there's suddenly the pressure to get the item shipped. Also they're encouraging me to check my email instead of my paypal account.
Payment sent! pls check your email for the confirmation email from PayPal and end the item on eBay right away. i also provided you Postage details there.Thanks and Please let me know when you Post it Today


I also received this,

How real does that look, at first glance anyway? In fact I had to check my paypal account just to make sure, I have a tenancy to misread things. Anyway my paypal account still says 0 and knows nothing at all about any pending transactions. So... What to do...

Naturally I've reported all of this to eBay and Paypal and I didn't end the auction... not that they seemed to even notice. Anyway I replied with this.

I've put the phone in the post today. The tracking number is YR000700021GB

... The problem is that lots of these email address kept kicking back to me saying they were invalid. You know, they really could make it easier to fall for the scam.

Eventually I got this back.

Send the Tracking Number to the PayPal customer care email address on
the Payment Invoice. send it to
so that your account can be credited

So I did. Not at all noticing that the address is now @ who notices things like that?
I got this back.
This was addressed to my paypal address instead of my eBay username. They're getting better as they go along it would seem.
I got this three minutes later.

So I emailed back the person and told them that I'd given the tracking number to paypal, and I got this back.
Aw, I put a lot of thought into making up that tracking number.
So I sent them this.

Perhaps because it's just been posted this morning. Sometimes it takes a little while for their system to update.

The next morning I got a fairly threatening email saying the tracking number was definitly invalid and I also hadn't cancelled the eBay auction... I was shocked. Being told off by a scammer somehow took all the fun out of the game. So I politely emailed back and said that the information I provided to him was just as authentic as the information he'd sent me.

I've not heard anything back from them.