There’s a good reason for our Christmas letter being three months late (apart from our usual pre-Christmas disorganisation) our main present arrived 26 days after Christmas.
Our third son Isaac Jacob Neilson Saunders was born by Caesarean section on Thursday 20 January 2011 at 10:30 weighing in at a healthy 3820g (8lbs 7oz) in Ninewells Hospital, Dundee.
Nearly eight weeks in and we can wholeheartedly confirm that we did this in the right order: twins then one. How much easier this is after that crash course in parenting!
In a couple of months’ time I will have been working at the University of St Andrews as Assistant Information Architect/Web Manager for five years, a role that I still enjoy, despite each year seemingly bringing new challenges. Our team has now grown from two to five and there is still enough work for another five!
Church-wise I have now been welcomed into the ministry team at All Saints’, St Andrews the ‘higher’ of the two Scottish Episcopal congregations in St Andrews, where I am feeling quite at home.
Again, 2010 wasn’t a great year healthwise although I did learn that the “various kidney-related infections” that I’d been suffering since 2008 was actually acute bacterial prostatitis (!) after one of my renal registrars took my concerns seriously and referred me to urology. I’m now on the mend.
Last year was a tough one for Jane as she battled the effects of post-natal depression.
Then, no sooner had she found the right balance of medication, she discovered in late May—the night before her birthday—that she was pregnant with Isaac and had to come off them completely within two weeks. That was a really cruel crash landing!
A month later Jane visited London to attend the Thursday and Friday of the first week of Wimbledon. A dream come true!
Over the summer we enjoyed the company of friends, many of whom came to visit, some to stay for a few days. It was lovely to catch up with good friends and enjoy their company; there was much laughter and happiness in the house.
In October we enjoyed a week-long holiday in Aviemore at the Macdonald Dalfaber Golf and Country Club, and caught up with friends from our Inverness days.
Reuben, Joshua and Isaac
Our twin boys Reuben and Joshua turned two on 18 November 2010. We celebrated with a birthday party and a homemade birthday cake that looked like a John Deere tractor (the green and yellow one).
It’s been an exciting year watching them grow up so quickly, from learning to walk to putting sentences together and communicating most eloquently with us. They are amazing and we love them more each day.
Reuben and Joshua welcomed Isaac into the world eight weeks ago and are the best big brothers that he could hope for; albeit at times a little over-enthusiastic for him to join in with their rough-and-tumble games.
You can read more about their various adventures online
Reassuringly/disappointingly I wasn’t the only person to experience this annoyance. PC Pro published an article on Tuesday: Chrome update takes out Flash. The article highlighted a couple of things that I hadn’t realised:
Google was now ‘sandboxing’ Flash; in other words, any issues experienced with a particular website that uses Flash (e.g. malware) doesn’t spread beyond the tab that is running it.
The Adobe Flash plugin was crashing when there were multiple instances of Flash on a page.
The Google Chrome support forum has been a busy place of late, and I’ve been keeping a close eye on the thread entitled Chrome 10 – Flash Crashes.
I use two monitors on my PC at home, three on my PC at work but frequently I still run out of room on my desktop to view all the applications that I’m currently running. That’s where virtual desktops come into play.
Virtual desktops have been common in the Unix and Linux world for a long time, Apple introduced them by default in Mac OS X 10.5 in late 2007, but Windows still doesn’t come with a virtual desktop application as standard.
Microsoft acquired Systernals in 2006. They launched Desktops in 2006 which allows you to organise your applications on four virtual desktops.
The application is small (the installer is only 60 KB), fast and reliable but it has limitations:
Maximum of 4 desktops.
Aero theme, Flip 3D and many notification icons only work on desktop 1.
You can’t move applications from one desktop to another.
You must have the same wallpaper on each desktop.
You cannot close Desktops, you need to either log off or reboot.
After checking out various virtual desktop applications, including the freeware VirtuaWin, I settled on DeskSpace from Australian software company Otaku Software, which costs US$24.95 (currently around £15.50).
DeskSpace is fast, highly customizable and looks fantastic. A few of its features:
Maximum of 6 desktops, on up to 9 monitors.
Switch between desktops with a stunning animated 3D cube (which you can customize the speed and size of).
Customize hotkeys to switch between desktops, or use your mouse wheel.
Customizable wallpaper on each desktop.
Rename and assign a different icon to each desktop.
Drag applications from one desktop to another.
Assign certain applications to open on a particular desktop, e.g. Outlook always opens on Desktop 2.
When you right-click the icon in the notification area you can see what applications are currently open on which desktop. A really nice feature is the ability to drag applications from one desktop to another on that list.
One niggle for me is that the options are split between two menu items—Configure and Manage—as I keep forgetting which configuration option is where; it would be nice to have all the options in one unified location.
I would also have liked to have seen some of the options combined such as customizing the wallpaper, names and icons for each desktop together on the same screen.
But these are minor points, as it doesn’t take long to set things up the way you want them and then just leave it.
One superb feature is that the software license is for individual-use which means that you can buy one copy and install it on as many machines as you use, for example a desktop and laptop.
Given that my laptop (as most do) has only one screen this has become an invaluable tool.
DeskSpace has been a really welcome addition to my workflow, particularly at work where I can assign separate desktops for dealing with support calls, FTP, graphics manipulation, etc.
It supports both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 on low-end netbooks, high-end desktops and everything in-between.
It’s no secret that the default Outlook Tasks application in Windows Mobile 6 isn’t great, and given that I use tasks almost as much as the calendar—perhaps even more so—I’m always on the look-out for a dedicated application that will handle them better.
I was therefore delighted when I discovered pTasks, which describes itself as “a replacement for the default Windows Mobile task manager” with a “finger-friendly user interface”.
It costs £2.69 from the Windows Phone app store.
Rather than paying for something that I don’t know if I wanted to keep I went in search of a free, early beta release. I found version 0.5f (the current, paid-for version is 1.5) and gave it a test drive.
An important note is that it requires the .NET 3.5 framework installed first.
Imagine my surprise when I added a new task, “Blog about pTasks”, and reviewed the details:
How efficient am I! I’ve just completed a task nearly 2490 years early.