Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

February 11, 2017
by Neil Turner

Links from Pinboard for February 11, 2017

Here are the articles or web sites that I’ve found this week and linked to on my Pinboard Bookmarks:

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February 9, 2017
by Neil Turner
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And I would walk 500 millimetres…

Lizzie on her rocking moose On Sunday, Lizzie walked unaided for the first time. She’s been ‘coasting’ along furniture for some time, and she’ll walk a reasonable distance with both hands held, but Sunday was the first time that she did it with just her feet.

Naturally, I was asleep at the time and missed it. But thankfully, it wasn’t a one-off and she’s done it again a few times since.

She’s also getting very good at climbing. Last Monday, we built her Ikea Ekorre rocking moose (because they’re Swedish). For a few days, she could happily rock herself on it and climb off, but getting on was a challenge. But, with a bit of practice, she soon overcame the challenge of getting on, and can now jump on and off when she wants to.

When it comes to food, she’s often eating the same meals as us. She has seven teeth now and it’s enough for her to be able to chomp down on things like pasta and cheese. Christine is still breastfeeding first thing in the morning, and in the evenings, but she gets most of her food intake from actual solid food now.

I know these posts are probably really boring for some of you, but seeing your child grow and develop is such a fantastic thing. Right now, both Christine and I are really enjoying parenting.

February 8, 2017
by Neil Turner
1 Comment

App of the Week: Wi-fi Widget

Screenshot of Wifi Widget on iOSThis week’s app is really simple. Wi-Fi Widget adds a notification area widget to your iOS device which tells you quickly which wifi network you’re connected to.

And that’s basically it, although you can also use it as a way of storing wifi passwords, and for testing your latency.

It’s something that I find quite useful. Normally, to find out the name of the currently-connected wifi network, you have top unlock your device and open the settings app. This makes it much more accessible. It’s particularly helpful when out and about, as my phone connects to various saved public wifi networks automatically and it’s useful to know which one.

Wi-Fi Widget is available from the App Store for 99p. Hat tip to Lifehacker.

February 6, 2017
by Neil Turner
1 Comment

Travel ban-dango

Flight home

I’m really worried about the on-off-on-off travel ban that’s the subject of ongoing legal action in America. To summarise: President Trump (urgh) enacted an Executive Order stopping anyone arriving from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen from entering the US for 90 days, and suspending the US’s refugee programme. Right now, the ban has been temporarily lifted by the courts, but I expect this to go back an forth for some time.

I’m not from any of those countries, nor am I related to anyone from that region or have been to any of those countries. But I have been to the middle-east region for work, including to Amman in Jordan, which is around an hour from the border with Syria. My passport, valid for several more years, carries visas for Oman and Jordan.

And I’ve heard stories where those arriving at US airports are being asked to show their social media profiles, or asked about their opinions about the new US president. My opinions are hardly favourable. I think Trump is a disaster for America and the world, and have shared a number of anti-Trump statuses on Facebook and Twitter.

When even the former Prime Minister of Norway is pulled aside for additional questioning over a 2014 visit to Iran, it makes me worried that I will be allowed into America in the current climate. Especially if the legal challenges against this ban fail. I hope they won’t.

I’ve never been to America but have always wanted to go. Christine has family out there, and her uncle recently gained American citizenship. Whilst he has met Lizzie on a recent visit to Britain, the rest of Christine’s relatives haven’t yet had the chance.

Of course, the main factor stopping us from getting to America is money – getting across the Atlantic is going to be expensive, and we have a lot of other things that we also need to spend money on. But I don’t want to be in a situation where we’ve spent hundreds of pounds on flights, to then be turned away at the border, or lose several hours whilst being interrogated by immigration officials. Nor do I want to be forced to keep quiet on social media about issues I feel strongly about.

January 21, 2017
by Neil Turner

Links from Pinboard for January 21, 2017

Here are the articles or web sites that I’ve found this week and linked to on my Pinboard Bookmarks:

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January 14, 2017
by Neil Turner
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15th Blogiversary

Screenshot of this blog from 2004 Today marks 15th years since I made my first post on this blog, back in 2002. It’s a big, round number, and one that I don’t think I would’ve ever expected this blog to reach.

As I mentioned in my 2016 review post, this year I blogged even less than in previous years. At one point, I did consider whether it was worth keeping the blog going, seeing as how I’ve really struggled to find the time to write for it this year. But I felt that, even though it’s not as fun as it once was, I’d miss it if it were gone. There’d be some issue that I’d want to write about, and it would be frustrating to not have somewhere to do it.

I decided to use a screenshot of how the blog used to look as the main image for this post, although it’s not from January 2002, sadly. The Web Archive goes back to October 2002 – before that, this blog was on a different domain that I don’t think I can even remember now. The screenshot is actually from November 2004, as the stylesheets don’t work from earlier versions. Still, that’s what my blog looked like over 12 years ago, and it was a theme that I’d designed myself. Nowadays, I use other peoples’ themes; partly because I find WordPress themes more difficult to code, but also because I don’t have the time to develop and test them. And my HTML and CSS skills are a bit rusty, and not up-to-date with best practice.

Browsing the web archive to find a screenshot was enlightening, though. I used to blog a lot more – multiple times per day – but many posts were just a couple of sentences. Now, I have a bigger audience on Twitter which is more suited to that style of communication, and I save blog posts for when I need to write a couple of hundred words or more. Linking to the (then) new release of Firefox in British English would’ve been a tweet, rather than a blog post.

I also wrote a lot more about inane things in my life, probably because I didn’t have anyone else to talk to but also because I didn’t need to be so private in those days. Nowadays, I have a wife to talk to, although one of my new year’s resolutions was to keep a daily journal so that I could write about inane things that happen to me. Two weeks in, and I’ve stuck to it.

I’m confident that I’ll still be blogging in a year’s time, provided that President-Elect Trump (urgh) hasn’t destroyed the planet by then. How often I’ll be blogging remains to be seen, but I’ll aim to post more frequently than in 2016 if I can.

January 13, 2017
by Neil Turner

A £5 win on the Free Postcode Lottery

Free Postcode Lottery home page screenshot

I blogged about the Free Postcode Lottery a couple of years ago. It’s a lottery that has daily draws, that costs nothing to enter and winners are selected by postcode. Back then, the daily jackpot was £80. It’s steadily increased since then and has just been raised to £400.

There are also several extra draws now. As well as the main draw and the ‘stackpot’, which both existed back in early 2015, there’s:

  • A survey draw, where one postcode is drawn per day and it’s unlocked after completing a short survey (but you can usually opt out).
  • A video draw, where one postcode is drawn per day and it’s unlocked part-way through watching a video.
  • Two bonus draws, for those who have accumulated at least £5 and £10 bonuses respectively.
  • A weekly draw for a £50 Quidco voucher.
  • A daily mini draw for £100, which is at the bottom of the home page and only viewable between 6pm and midnight each day.
  • Random flash draws, where instead of showing an advert, you’ll get a banner to click on to win £5. It’s also an incentive to switch off your ad blocker, as the site is funded by advertising.

After almost two years of playing, I finally won the last of these. If you win, you get the money sent by Paypal to your registered email address within 48 hours. £5 was nice, but unfortunately it’s the one draw where you don’t also get credited your accumulated bonus. And having played for almost two years, my bonus stands at £22.48, so the payout would’ve been much greater had this been the case.

I still log in (just about!) every day to see if I’ve won anything, and to accumulate my bonus. It doesn’t cost anything, and only takes a minute each day. Whilst the chances of winning are low, a £400 windfall would be quite useful right now.

If you’re not already playing, you can sign-up using my referral link, and boost my bonus a little further. It is, as you may have guessed, UK-only, but the Free Emoji Lottery is available to everyone, and run by the same people.