Another eventful week in the Bamber household

Nana & Grandad came down on Monday and we all went out to lunch, then Steve left to go to a team meeting in Alderly Edge. Good fun was had by all and mum and I managed to get some packing done, getting ready for the work starting, whenever that may be….

Megan wanted her face painted so I did a tiger face as best as I could, but Megan also wanted Grandad to have his face painted too!! photos will be published as soon as Steve gets back…they make interesting viewing. Apparently the neighbours were highly entertained by them both.

Tuesday brought Aunt Ina and Uncle Dennis down for the day and we spend most of it down on the beach with Megan swimming in the sea and Aunt Ina in the water up to her bottom, which was very wet indeed!! Steve came back on Tuesday, tired and hungover but we were so glad to see him.

Thursday night and I was off with my brother Darren to the Billy Joel concert at the SECC. It was a brilliant night, Peter Kay was on first and got the crowd going with his ‘Amarillo’ song. Billy Joel came on at 8.10pm and never stopped until 11pm, we were hoarse by the end of the night with all our singing.

Friday night and I am out again, it was Elisabeth’s 30th Birthday party at the Bowling Club in West Kilbride. I ended up going out the girls as their husbands were all working, we had a brilliant night and managed to spend less than £10 each!! It helped that we had 2 drinks bought for us by some bloke who took rather a liking to me. Finally sauntered in at 1.30am and woke Steve up to tell him what a laugh we had and repeated the whole night to him!!!

Steve was up and away early on Sat to do some computery thing for the cricket club. West Kilbride held its annual Scarecrow Festival in the afternoon and Megan and I walked up to the village to joing the procession through the village, it was a rubbish day as it didn’t stop raining. The kids had a great time but the adults all looked a bit soaked and fed up. Audrey and I ended up taking the kids round to the Hydro and sat there for a couple of hours before heading home. I was nursing a hangover and was extremely tired so an early night was in store for me.

We went to Glasgow today to have some lunch before Steve headed off to Liverpool. He has been seconded to another part of Northgate, so he is off to sort out problems that Merseyside Police have with their system. He is quite excited about getting his hands on something new and is hoping some more work will come out of it. We don’t know when he will be back so Megan is missing him already… am I….

A lot’s happened…

…in the last week, just been too busy to write anything!

Last Thursday the first venue of the tour was announced – Shawn will be playing at the Bloomsbury Theater in London on the day that her new album (These Four Walls) is released in the UK (September 18th). There’s more dates planned for November which will hopefully be a bit nearer.

On Friday three birth certificates arrived in the post – I’d sent for them a few weeks ago but hadn’t actually thought about them until they arrived. We’re just about back to the start of Civil Registration in 1837 on most branches of the family tree but there’s still a few gaps to fill in, and these certificates completed three of them.

Thomas Wood and Ellen Knowles married in 1875 and their son William Wood was my mum’s paternal grandfather, and whilst we had their father’s names from the marriage certificate we had no idea about their mother’s names – two of my great-great-great-grandmother’s. Ellen’s birth certificate show’s her mother to be Ann Ireland, whilst Thomas’ certificate show’s his mother as Sarah Lightfoot – both new family names in the tree and something to seach for on the early censuses (all now online at

The third certificate was for Martha Cross – the mother of my mum’s maternal grandmother (if you follow that!). She was born in 1840 so we really are at the limit of Civil Registration with this one, but it’s confirmed her mother as Ellen Wrench – we already knew her married name, but not her maiden name so we’ll have to delve into the Parish records in Plumley (Cheshire) to find out any more about the Wrench family!

Saturday was certainly the weather for a game of cricket, and we we’re playing against Kelburne at Whitehaugh in a 50 over game. We lost the toss and had to bowl first but restricted them to just 176-7 of their 50 overs – I even got a bowl this time and finished wicketless but with respectable figures of 9-4-17-0. In reply we knocked off the runs for the loss of just one wicket with over 10 overs to spare – didn’t even get my pads on never mind a bat.

Sunday was the Nick Jr Roadshow at Victoria Park in Glasgow, and we had tickets for the afternoon session so the three of us headed up with Audrey and Heather (Alan was on duty so missed out!). There was a stage show with Fifi, Dora, Pablo and Sporticus (to name but four) and separate areas for most of their favourite shows including a Thomas the Tank Engine Bouncy Castle – we just about had to drag Megan and Heather away as they were closing up for the day.

I’ve been down at Alderley Edge this week for a team meeting, so that was the first long run for the new car and it passed the test with flying colours – the climate control was just what the doctored order given the weather, and looks like i’m still getting around 32mpg (much the same as the last one). Park’s have just phoned to say the iPod adaptor has finally arrived too – although they can’t fit it until next Friday (well they could have done it next Wednesday but I need the car then!).

Picked up the new Paul Simon album (Surprise) on the way down as it’s been well reviewed and I must say it’s growing on me. I’m not a big fan of his solo stuff, but this is a bit of change of style – it’s been produced (and in some cases co-written) with Brian Eno so there’s a few more synths than you would normally expect, and it’s all the better for it. Well worth a listen I’d say!

And finally Virgin have upgraded our broadband to 8mbps – nearly three months after they promised too. I found the DSL ZoneUK site a week or two ago – it uses google maps to work out how far you are from your exchange. It’s pretty neat and it suggested we should expect around 5mbps given the distance to the exchange which is up in the village. At the moment we seem to be getting about 4.9mbps from our connection according to the speed test at ADSLGuide – so that seems to be about right…

What Heatwave?

Well Prestwick was officially the hottest place in Scotland today, the thermometer hit 31 this afternoon and it’s not much cooler just now – it’s so warm that we had to invest in a couple of fans to stop the study from melting. It’s not really something we’re that used to north of the border, but there’s rain promised for tomorrow so normal service will be resumed shortly.

The weekend was eventful – no cricket this week as I was working on Saturday but Alan, Audrey and Heather came round for tea and we all enjoyed the sunny weather (and a few too many drinks for some) until Megan and Heather could stay awake no longer. I’ve uploaded a couple of pictures from the evening’s festivities so they should be showing on the flickr badge above. Sunday was the River Festival up at the SECC in Glasgow, and although mum was a little bit hungover and Megan was a bit tired it was still another fun day out.

Since we got the Squeezebox the PC hasn’t been hooked up to the stereo, and so I’ve been without sound for a while. It came to head on Saturday as I tried to watch coverage of the Wrexham v Liverpool pre season game on the web – bit hard to tell what’s going when you’ve only got a small picture and no sound.

So I popped into PC World (near the SECC) on Sunday and picked up a Creative SBS 380 package (two speakers and a subwoofer) for half price.

They’re not exactly hi-fi but for watching footy on the computer they’re pretty good, and for £15 you can’t really complain. 🙂

Virgin have been promising us a free broadband upgrade from 2Mbps to 8Mbps since the beginning of May – last week it was going to be within the next ‘week or so’ but I’m still waiting. Word on the street is there’s been lots of teething troubles for those lucky (?) ones to have been upgraded already – here’s hoping they don’t make a mess of ours…

It’s Friday again

I’ve finally sorted out the DVD drive (hopefully) – turns out this time it was just a timing problem. Seems the new kernel is just too quick for it, trying to rip the data before it’s had time to spin up to speed. Fortunately there’s a helpful setting in grip that lets you delay ripping for just this reason, turn it on and the drive gets an extra second to spin and no more DMA errors.

Upgraded to cups v1.2.1 and gutenprint v5.0.0-rc3 (formally gimp-print) this week, and I have to say it was revelation. Setting up a printer on linux used to be a bit of a black art, assuming you could find the right driver in the first place – but this was a piece of cake. Pointing a browser at cups I discovered it had already spotted and identified the printer, was suggesting which driver to use so that all I had to do was click ok – printer installed configured and working! It was actually easier to install on linux than it was on windows – definitely a first for a printer…

Slim Devices have released a new version of the SlimServer software for the Squeezebox, as well as a firmware update. Apart from a few bigfixes the main addition seems to be support for Rhapsody – RealNetworks DRM format. Not something I really need, but I’ve updated anyway to get the bugfixes.

Grandad was down yesterday for his birthday – they spent the afternoon at Kelburn Castle Country Park, although I’m not sure who had the most fun. Mum and Grandad seem to have spent more time on the slides than Megan…

It was snooker again on Wednesday, first time in three weeks, and I think the extra week didn’t do me any favours. The first frame was close, Darren won on the black, but after that I couldn’t pot a thing. Managed to get it together by the final frame but still ended up losing 4-1, which I think makes it 8-3 overall (so much for catching up!)


With the work on extension (hopefully) starting soon, we decided it was time to have a bit of a clearout.

We’ve packed up the dinner service and stored that at Angela’s mum’s, and yesterday I ventured up into the loft to try and create some space up there. Since we cleared out my dad’s house it’s been a bit on the full side, and the first job was to clear the collected computer junk that was gathering dust.

There were three different cases (only one with an actual motherboard) and a box full of ancient ethernet cards, hubs, hard drives, graphics cards, cables and even a KVM switch. Nothing that was going to raise much interest on eBay though, so thought I’d try and give it away on freecycle.

I’ve already managed to offload one case and a box full of goodies to someone in Troon, with another case and graphics card to a guy up in Kilbirnie. There’s been a couple of other emails too, so I’m still hopeful of oddloading the last case, and remaining bits and pieces.

Unfortunately it’s still not made much of a dent in the loft, so still some work to do there…

More DVD DMA Issues

I upgraded my kernel to 2.6.17 last week, and it’s reintroduced the DMA problems with the DVD drive – or rather it’s introduced new, subtle and annoying ones.

The drive mostly works fine, but when ripping CDs grip freezes the sytem with DMA timeouts – unless you poke the DVD drive with a

hdparm /dev/hdc

just as it starts to rip, in which case it decides DMA is working ok and proceeds to rip the whole CD?!

I tried patching the BIOS on the motherboard this time (just in case) – and that’s another non-trivial task when the BIOS flash program is another Windows only executable. Fortunately there’s plenty of advice out there, and I managed to burn a CD with a Windows 98 boot image and the appropriate update files on it.

A quick reboot and the BIOS was updated to the very latest version, but unfortunately despite now having a BIOS option hopefully entitled

IDE DMA Transfer Enable

it made absolutely no difference. I’ll just have to keep jumping through hoops until a kernel ships with a libata/sata_piix driver that actually works properly for my combination of hardware.

But I’m not holding my breath… 😦

Match Abandoned

We were playing Inverclyde yesterday, and batted first after winning the toss. One of our openers scored a hundred, but the rest of the top order struggled and, batting at number five, I found myself at the crease with 25 overs left and the score at 140 for 5. We put on almost a hundred for the 6th wicket though, before I played on trying to cut a ball that wasn’t really wide enough. Still I managed 47 including ten fours and the rest of the tail wagged vigorously and we ended on 297 for 8 of off our 50 overs. Unfortunately the rain arrived during tea, and the match was abandoned without another ball being bowled.

Today we’re off to the museum at Kelvingrove, it’s due to reopen this week and Grandad has acquired a couple of tickets for a sneaky preview. I think Angela has another plan to visit some furniture showrooms too, the plans for the extension went in for the Building Warrant this week so hopefully we’ll be seeing some movement on that front soon.

The Primary Club

I played cricket on Sunday this week, so that I could watch the World Cup Quarter Finals on Saturday (what a waste of time that was), and ended up on the losing side for the first time this year. The day hadn’t started too promisingly either – drove through torrential rain and a couple of flashes of lightning to get to Glasgow – but it was dry at the ground and we started just about on time.

We lost the toss, the opposition chose to bat and despite an iffy record of just one catch from three so far this year, I found myself fielding at point. They came with a reputation as a team of big hitters, and sure enough the ball was soon disappearing to various points around the boundary. Not much had come my way until a short and wide delivery was cut straight towards me at pace, and without too much time to think about what I was doing, I discovered I’d caught it.

Run’s and wickets then came at a steady pace, I took another catch (not unsimilar to one I dropped earlier in the season) and got one hand on another fierce square cut but couldn’t hold on to it – which now leaves me with three from six, which I guess counts as an improvement!

We eventually bowled them out for around 220, and in reply our opening batsmen put on almost 100 for the first wicket. Unfortunately there was then a flurry of wickets, including a dubious (well I thought it was) first ball lbw for yours truly, and we were bowled out for just short of 180.

Oh well at least I’m now eligible to join the Primary Club. 🙂