January 10, 2014 by Daniel
November 12, 2013 by Daniel
Now for some lovely news. Kate and I are having another Baby.
We went for the 12 week scan yesterday afternoon. Our friend Jenny looked after George for the afternoon and he had a whale of a time by the sounds of it with her and her son. It was odd dropping him off really, kind of a sign how old he his already, that we’re at the point now where it feels ok to do that (we’ve still only done it less than a handful of times and it was the first time Jen had had him for so long).
We did know that we wanted at least one more child, people at work have asked me already how I feel about a third – let’s wait for a bit on that one!
We had been cautious this time around about telling people early. I don’t want to go into it much but it’s best to wait really I think. It was again an amazing experience seeing the baby though. I don’t remember George moving around as much $NEWNISBETNAME, it was incredible!
It really does make it more real. It’s taken me a bit longer this time round I think, maybe George is a big distraction on that front and you don’t have time to think about things like that. It’ll be interesting to see George as a big brother, I’m sure he’ll handle it brilliantly – if the way he treats our cat is anything to go by!
We’ll find out the sex in January, due date is late May.
August 21, 2013 by Daniel
People who read this may or may not know that my job is an Email Sysadmin. I’ve had my personal Email on GMail since they introduced it and I always though it was pretty neat. It worked great, pretty much always up and had all the cool features as well as being fast. And hey, it was Google, you could trust them – after all their motto was “Don’t Be Evil”.
And then the Snowden/Prism stuff happened.
It got me thinking, hey this is my job and my personal stuff. This is something I care about and I’m trusting it to people I don’t know. It’s not like I’m even paying them to do it, why would they have my interests at heart. In fact the only way they can afford to run the service for me is by it making it easier to target ads at me and how do you think they do that?
So they only answer for me was to go back to how Email was originally intended to work. To run it for yourself, to check things yourself. Not part of some massive anonymous cloud system that exists across borders. – I fully understand why people don’t do these things for themselves, they are relatively fiddly and Gmail is **free!**
But it’s about principle.
So I went about trying to find a good place for my server to be. As I mentioned earlier, this is my job but I think it’s not a great idea to mix business with pleasure. Yes I could simply route my own mail to my Work mailbox. Job done. But if I ever left or it was frowned upon it would make things trickier so divest myself from it. So I thought about the people in small part of the Internet that I know about it. I used to work in one of Manchester’s largest Datacentres so I thought about those days and who I used to get on well with. Bytemark stood out. I always got on well with them, they always looked like the knew exactly what they were talking about and I thought, yeah I trust them. They have a great standing in the community and I know that if I wanted, I could go and touch the machine that my VPS was hosted on if I wanted (* not actually sure if this is true but I reckon I’ve a good chance).
So onto the build of the mail server.
Bytemark’s VPS’s offer a distro they’ve knocked up called Symbiosis. In the reading of the manual for this I though hey that seems really simple. It works great ‘out of the box’, but I can still get to the bits I want to fiddle with, beats using a CPanel for ultra configurability.
Things can be as simple as firing up an SCP client, logging in and creating files to get mailboxes set up and configured. You can switch on spamscoring and virus checking just by creating the relevant config files (yes, just files, it’s already set up, just watching out for relevant files to enable it or not).
MySQL, Apache, Exim, Dovecot and the rest of your favourite are all already there waiting for you. So you can get going with it really quickly. It’s all preconfigured to do backups and updates. It’s really not much work, which is good for a server you just want to leave going really.
Let’s think through the DNS for a bit. It’s a good idea to have redundancy on this so if you can basically just duplicate what you’ve done with one mailserver on the other. I haven’t, because I’m cheap. But what you could do is team up with a friend you trust who wants to do it as well and just relay mail for each other. It should happen often if you set one with a higher priority MX. I’ve not actually done this myself ( a- hadn’t though of it til now b- not enough friends) what i’ve actually got at the moment is a fall back lower priority mx record of Google. Yeah, I know – what a hypocrite! But it’s probably temporary until I can make some friends plus it was already set up to work on my domain.
Weaning off the Big G
It was always going to be a little tricky to wean all the way off the big G because I had several mailboxes on my domain over at Google Apps that I wanted to leave there and still have mail delivered onto Gmail. All this principle and privacy is fine for me to worry about, but I’m not so sure if my wife feels the same way when it comes to putting up with SquirrelMail for a webmail interface (I’m pretty much IMAP only so I don’t care).
So what I did was set up a forwarding rule on my VPS for those mailboxes and they get sent on to a subdomain of mine that I set up in my Google Apps account as a domain alias. It’s all completely transparent to the user (no complaints yet anyway), they get another layer of spam filtering and I get lovely log files I can trawl through if needs be (don’t get those hosted at Google!).
Here’s a big conundrum. The now infamous ‘NSA Proof your email in 2 hours‘ blog post is mostly about making sure the filestore is encrypted. Symbiosis does a great job of doing all the secure TLS transmission of mail, a self signed X509 cert is there for you already (feel free to add your own if you like, I’ve not bothered for £££ reasons). So things in the interwebtubes are more often than not all nicely encrypted already so you don’t have to worry too much about the NSA tapping the wires. At the moment I figure, they’ve got to get to the physical box to read my filestore. I’m the only one with root access (not even Bytemark), so they’d need to bruteforce that to get in without my knowing.
So it’s probably something I might look at again in future because I am super paranoid (**it’s not that I have something to hide, it’s that they could look without asking me). His instructions are all for postfix anyways and I like exim.
For TLS encryption testing you can verify it with this tool.
Another of my personal internet crusades is the take up of IPv6. It’s a chicken and egg problem and I really like that Bytemark are out in front on it. Your VPS comes with both 4 & 6 addresses, no extra work needed. You just makes sure you add a AAAA record for your MX to point at (Along with an ‘A’ record dur, we’re not quite ready for 6 only yet!). You can use Freenet6 to test your set up.
June 3, 2013 by Daniel
I’ve been a bit proactive with the AP Dad theme I mentioned before. I’ve started a Facebook group and I’ve started a blog. Let’s see where this goes. I’m pretty positive, I’ve had some good feedback from Dad’s who’ve wanted to connect with other AP Dads.
May 24, 2013 by Daniel
I think the problem most people have with AP is how it is for the Dad. I say suck it up. The length of time that things might be strained for is merely a few years, what’s a few years? (I know, some of you may now have a raised eyebrow) But seriously, as a couple I think we have a very strong relationship – yes having a baby has changed our relationship a lot and it’s an adjustment that I have sometimes felt she has taken better to than I have. But my needs happen to be on the lowest priority at the moment and to be honest, that’s absolutely right. I can fend for myself, my child cannot. I am grateful for any snatched kiss or hug I can get, but I am safe in the knowledge there will be many more.
This seems to come and go. He can react quite strongly to Mum leaving the room but I think it depends on what he’s doing at the time. If he doesn’t notice her leave then it can be fine. Sometimes he reacts to us hugging and suppose feels he’s missing out on his own Mum time.
Bath & Playtime
I try to take the chances I can get to play with him. I’m off at work all day so don’t get to do as much as his Mum does but when I’m there I try to get involved. She can get some other things done but keeping him away from where she is can prove difficult sometimes!
April 2, 2013 by Daniel
So apparently it’s quite difficult to find blogs written by Dad’s of Attachment Parenting families. Kate thought she’d found one the other day and he went on to write a horrible post about images of children on the Internet that put her right off it. I’m not saying I’ll be blogging regularly about it, but I may well start a category on it and try to write what I think about it a little.
Good Friday I was off work (woop) and so got to spend my Day with Kate and George and we went along to one of her new ‘Tuesday Mum’s as Kate calls them’s house. There were about 5 Mum’s each with around 2 kids each and it was really lovely. I can see why Kate likes this group so much and it’s really nice to be able to talk honestly about the way you see things parenting wise. I think that Kate feels having that in common enables them to speak honestly about all manner of things as well.
So to AP-Dadding – I think I’ll get into it in a future post. It’s really taking us by storm at the moment but provides as many questions and answers.
March 22, 2013 by Daniel
Just got back from two days off work celebrating George’s First Birthday. We’re having a little party for him on Saturday but we wanted him to have a special day on his actual birthday too. So we went up to Blackpool to
Sea World there and then to Jungle Jim’s in the tower after lunch. It was a fantastic day.
Kate and I can’t believe he’s been here a year already. It’s gone so quick. I have to say it’s been an amazing ride so far.
I certainly don’t think we’ve done it the easy way, but we’ve decided that doesn’t matter to us. We would rather that it’s difficult and good for him than easy and not. We have made choices that put him first and we are proud to do so. We’ve never done dummy’s, we are using reusable nappies, the Buggy has been unused for months now. Kate is still breastfeeding him and will continue to do so until he’s not interested any more. He’s still co-sleeping with us, generally we all sleep better for it. Kate has also found a group of AP friendly women she finds very supportive which I’m very glad for as I think it’s a hard task being a stay at home Mum so she’s always got someone to turn to when I’m at work.
I realised yesterday whilst we were at a soft play place in Bury that being at work I miss out on a lot. Kate understands his personality and his preferences so well and I need to work on catching up on that a bit. But I had a great time playing with him at home in the morning whilst Kate was baking his birthday cake for Saturday (I have provided home brew beer, fingers crossed!).
George is concentrating hard on his walking at the moment which is a joy to see and his vocabulary is coming on well.
Still I think his favourite thing in the world is the Cat (apart from perhaps Mummy & Daddy). He loves to point out where the cat is.
March 4, 2013 by Daniel
For Christmas Kate bought me everything I needed from Balihoo to get started with making my own beer. It’s something I’ve always been keen on trying but have never quite got started with. I finally found time this past weekend to start my first brew – and it was quite a learning curve!
I hadn’t really done much research beforehand and now having looked into i’m even more bewildered. I followed the instructions on kit as best as I can and so we’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed it should be ready for George’s first birthday and i’ll have some willing testers.
There’s lots of things I think i’ve done wrong though, so much room for improvement!
I had a few questions about hyrometers which @CheSha knowledgeably helped me out with. I may have been a bit hasty putting in the yeast – didn’t manage to get a reading off beforehand so the on I get is probably not that much use (or it might be I don’t know!). My other doubt at the moment is I didn’t put the airlock on the lid of my fermenter bucket, mostly down to the fact I didn’t know what it was at the time. I might stick it on this evening but I don’t think it’ll make much difference at this point.
So Wednesday evening i’ll be at the end of fermentation. Then’ll I’ll transfer into the pressure barrel and add the sugar I think according to the fairly vague instructions I’ve got. I’ll move it all from the baby’s room where it is at the moment (we don’t use the room very much as he still sleeps with us and it’s nicely warm in there) to the pantry in the kitchen which is nice and cool.
Looking forward to trying it! I might try and borrow a capper from someone so I can bring some samples into work.
January 7, 2013 by Daniel
Oddly I don’t think I’ve ever written a start of year post. I’m not really one for resolutions, etc – it’s not that I haven’t made them in the past it’s that I find them to be ephemeral things and not something I really need to do to get things done. I suppose I’m qualitative rather than quantitative when it comes to target setting. It’s about a feeling.
Anyways, there’s going to be some challenges this year in many arenas. George will continue to discover the world – he’ll completely different this time next year I’m sure. As I write this he is 9 months old, not quite walking but babbling quite a bit. We don’t think we’ve had a ‘word’ from him yet, it’s more sounds. But we think we’ve heard him apply the ‘t’ sound to the cat. So a bit more work there and who knows… It’s very exciting to see him learn things and it’s a constant process too.
We’ve settled into a Attachment Parenting style of parenting (at least we think we have). We didn’t go out and ‘pick’ a style, we’ve just sort of fallen into it organically. Which I think is probably the best way. Kate has just bought some ‘real’ reusable nappies (although I don’t like the term ‘real’) so we’re going to try that again having done a month or so at the beginning of another style of reusable nappies. The first time round we felt we had enough on our plate without having to make nappies any more difficult than needs be. Now things are getting easier.
Along with ‘AP’, Kate won’t be returning to employment at the end of her maternity leave. We would much rather have a parent take care of George than a childminder or nursery nurse, the finances don’t really make sense for her to return and the fact that these stages are so short and so important and it’d be terrible for both of us to miss are all factors in this decision. Kate has some ideas of how to make an income – so that will be an exciting thing for the year too.
I think I will most likely, along with playing with George (which I am LOVING), be stepping up on a few hobbies I’ve developed an interest in. Due to the above paragraph they will be cheap ones and involve things we already have or recently got. A Beer making kit, Raspberry Pi, Photography – something I’ve always been interested in as you can probably tell from my Flickr account but more recently I’ve found I didn’t really know too much about what I was doing. I’ve always really thought only about what I was taking a picture of, not really combining it with how to combine that with how to take the picture. So I’ve been playing around more with apetures and may play a bit with HDR pictures and long exposures. I’m happy with the kit I’ve got at the moment, even if it may be starting to show it’s age, but it’s still perfectly able to do the job and the beauty of a good SLR is being able to change lenses – a friend pointed out a great deal on a 55mm f/1.8 lens in November so I made sure I had one in time for George’s first Christmas and it was so much fun and interesting to use. To have to think about taking pictures differently.
We’re going to try and get a decent London trip in early this year, there’s many friends and family down there that we haven’t had much of a chance to see for a while. Kate’s parents are also looking at a house in the Canaries to escape the winter so we may get a chance to go out there too when it’s sorted. Providing of course we’ve got hold of a passport for George.
November 30, 2012 by Daniel
PGP, GnuPG, OpenPG – it goes by lot’s of names these days. The first time I read about it in the excellent Code Book by Simon Singh it was PGP.
If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about already it’s worth reading this overview by the author of PGP, Phillip Zimmerman as to why he created a tool for people to use encryption (after all that’s what computers were invented for, kind of).
There’s plenty of tools to use it with now, but what struck me as odd was Outlook 2010′s lack of support for it. There’s really only the OutlookPrivacyPlguin that works with it and even then it doesn’t support PGP/MIME which is a shame. Outlook natively works with S/MIME quite well.
So it’s over to Thunderbird and Enigmail. It’ll even put email headers in telling people where to get your public key (mine’s here by the way!)
They’ll be some more to come from me on this. PGP is still pretty handy for encrypting your own files. The tools to do it with X.509 Certificates as described recently by me aren’t as easy to use. Personally I find I want to be sure I can decrypt a file some time down the line and PGP has been doing the job for quite some time now. Of course – longevity is useful if someone breaks the encyption methods!