Archive for Television, Cinema and Entertainment

Our New Netgear Gigabit Network

Netgear N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit RouterI’d been reading about the various improvements in networking equipment for some time and often wondered what the point was when our current broadband speeds don’t even come close to the speeds that modern networking gear can provide.

But then I reflected that it’s not only internet connectivity that is affected.

The Netgear Gigabit Network

I decided to upgrade our network to a new Netgear Gigabit Network router and 8-port gigabit switch to see exactly how the improvements would be noticed.

First impressions were very positive concerning everything about the Netgear package.  It is incredibly simple to set-up, with pre-configured security parameters and simple admin logins for the router.  It really is as simple as plug-and-play!  Not only that, but it all looks so good too.  Both the router and the switch are beautifully finished and don’t look at all out of place in any office or contemporary setting.  The presence of two additional USB ports on the router allow for easy access to additional storage, which can also be set up to access remotely if required.

Wireless connectivity uses both 2.5 and 5 GHz bands, allowing much improved reliability on wireless connections and the preconfigured security settings mentioned above made extremely light work of reconfiguring the devices that were previously using the old router wirelessly.Netgear GS608 Gigabit Network Switch

So how is it better than what we had before?  Well, we keep a huge number of shared files on a network storage drive which includes everything from images to songs to pdfs, to spreadsheets and much more in between.  Using each PC to access and use these files used to incur a time delay while thumbnails, previews or listings were loaded.  This is where the new gigabit setup really shines.  If we now need to scan through a few hundred image thumbnails from a particular folder it’s immediate – almost instantaneous and when saving files to networked locations, again there is no delay.  It is as though you were saving to your own PC’s hard drive.

Netgear LogoAs internet connection speeds improve further this new network will surely further enhance the experience, allowing ultra-fast streaming of video and music files to the various devices connected to the network.

It has been an eye-opener and I am genuinely surprised by the improvement in performance that the Netgear Gigabit network equipment has provided.

We’re Having A Baby

Firecracker logoAre you having a baby?
Are you aged 16 – 25?
Do you want to share your story?


Firecracker Films are making a documentary for BBC3, following young Brits embarking on one of the most remarkable journeys of their lives – having a baby.

  • We’re looking for individuals or couples, aged between 16-25, who are having a baby and want to share their story.
  • We want YOU to film yourself over several months, capturing the highs and lows along the way.
  • Perhaps you’ve just found out you’re pregnant, or you’re soon to give birth? Maybe this is your first child, or perhaps you’re already a parent? Is having a child scary, hard work, as well as joyous and rewarding?
  • Whatever your experience, this is a unique opportunity to tell your story, in your own words.

If you’d like to know more, please contact
baby[at]firecrackerfilms.com  or call 020 7349 7048

All correspondence will be dealt with in complete confidence and by contacting us you are not making a commitment to take part in the final programme.

Marley and Me – The Puppy Years

I am not a dog lover at all but am already looking forward to watching ‘Marley and Me- The Puppy Years’ .

A few of our product reviewers were sent the film to watch recently and judging by their comments, the film went down really well with them.

I cried like a baby at the original Marley and Me but this new Marley seems to be much funnier.

Reviews of ‘Marley and Me – The Puppy Years’

Marli Harwood and Her Baby

A particularly persistent PR blokey has been nagging us for months to ‘mention’ Marli Harwood but I’ve been deliberately digging my heels in and not playing the game. No way am I going to listen to a CD just because someone who is paid to big an artist up, asks me to!

More fool me, it turns out though as it looks like I’ve just been cutting my own nose off to spite my face. Stuck in the car on a longish journey on the weekend, I fed the Marli Harwood album into the slot and sat back to listen. I was determined not to like it but found myself intrigued and dare I say it, impressed! Woah, this is good, I reluctantly admitted to myself and the other half agreed.

Marli Harwood

Marli Harwood Album

There’s a track called ‘Clock With No Hands’ which most of us can identify with – a song about life going too fast and encouraging us to grab every opportunity going. And ‘Billy’ is one of those heartrending songs about unrequited love which made me feel quite tearful. Mind you, I cried at Waterloo Road last week so that’s not really much of a benchmark.

Marli has a genuinely interesting story behind her too as she’d been trying to make it in the world of music for 16 years and had given up to start a family. It was when she was 3 months pregnant that Radio 2 made one of her songs, ‘It’s Called a Heart’,  Record of the Week. This sparked off a flurry of recording contract offers and she eventually settled with Island Records who built a unique maternity clause into her contract – so now Marli looks like fulfilling 2 dreams.  She’s going to be a Mum and on the basis of her new album ‘Clocks And full Stops’, she’s obviously going to be a successful recording star. Buy the CD, Download or whatever – it really is well worth it!

Kathryn C

I have 3 sample CDs with 5 of the best tracks on to give away. Just comment here if you’d like it.

Katy And Lorraine – Which Twin Buggies?

The first ‘work’ conducted in my thirtieth year was a spot of filming for TheBabyWebsite and Lorraine Kelly. For one day only my official title was to be Tandem Buggy Expert. I did my homework on my top three buggies and the boys and I travelled two and a half hours to the filming destination. Foot/ train / cab…. There was no one to help me with the boys on arrival so I fed them and kept them happy until they were ready for me.Katy's Twins in Their Tandem Buggy

I had expected a ‘proper presenter’ to be there to ask me questions and perhaps an extra pair of hands to help with the boys…. So you can imagine my shock when I was miked up and told to present the whole piece to camera myself! Yes, still while keeping an eye on the boys, and remembering what I had to say, which was COMPLETELY different to what I was told to prepare as they wanted one sentence per product, not the paragraphs that I had prepped.

I know what you’re thinking – how hard is it to think of one sentence? Well, when you have a few moments to gather your thoughts, not hard at all… but when you have a camera rolling, three seasoned crew members looking at you and two babies threatening to cause havoc at any moment… well, let’s just say it is not conducive to being the most intelligent version of you that you can be.

Bailey & NoahMy most Bridget-esque moment was undoubtedly when Noah fell off the rocking horse they wanted him to sit on and I squealed and dived off camera to save him!

The boys were impeccably well behaved, despite missing a nap, and will no doubt come across on TV a lot better than their Mum. I looked enviously at the next Buggy Expert who started filming her piece as I was leaving; Assistant in tow, make up bag on her knee, clip board at the ready…. Sigh. Still. She didn’t get two cuddles on the train home to cheer her up after a Very.Long.Day.
by
Katy Hymas Mum to 1 year old twin boys Noah and Bailey

Read Katy’s Mummy Blogs Here

You can read Which Twin Buggies Katy Recommends Here.

Mythbusters

More proof that Mums rock!

For those of you that are not familar with the scientific brilliance that are Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, I absolutely recommend that you watch their show ‘Mythbusters’, especially if you like big boomy explosions, as I do.

For those of you that are familar with the show, let us discuss the episode in which they tested the ‘myth’: that women have a higher pain tolerance than men.

Jamie and Adam begin by visiting the Stanford University Pain Centre to determine the best technique for inducing pain, using themselves as the subjects of the test.  After various tests including heat, electricity, and injecting capsaicin under their skin, they decide to conduct their expeirmient using ice as a means of inducing pain.

25 men and 25 women, neither one of which knew what they were about to do or why, were asked to individually dunk their hand in a bucket of ice cold water of one degree above freezing. There was a time limit of three minutes, but the test subjects were not told this. If the three minutes elapsed, the test subjects were asked to remove their hand, so as to minimise any damage. Each subject was told to keep their hand in the water for as long as they could, until they could stand the pain no longer. The time would then be recorded.
So what was the result? You guessed it, in this test, it was proven that  women do indeed,  have a higher tolerance for pain than men. The men lasted an average of 84.3 seconds, whereas, the women lasted an average of 100.4 seconds.

Impressed? It gets better. Of the 25 women subects, just over half were mothers. The majority of these mothers had given birth nauturally with minimal pain relief. 13 of these 25 women lasted near three minutes, if not the whole three minutes.

Women can, in fact, tolerate more pain than men. ‘Myth’ confirmed.

In The Night Garden live

When we saw the adverts for In The Night Garden Live several months ago, we knew we had to get tickets for Ella. At the time she loved Iggle Piggle. So we checked dates, times and prices and chose 24th September as I would be off work on the September weekend. It cost over £50 for the 3 of us, as we decided to opt for the premium seats – front 4 rows, to allow Ella to see.

In The Night Garden Live

However, as time passed, Ella became less and less interested in the programme. Regardless we were going, and all this week we have got Iggle Piggle dancing toy out, and put In the Night Garden on the TV to encourage her. Each time we were met with “NO NO NO” Oh dear we thought, this could be a disaster.
So yesterday, Neil came home from work early, only to find a very tired Ella who was refusing to sleep.
We headed into Glasgow, when she eventually fell asleep – just as we were heading for some dinner. SO instead of dinner, we bought crisps and juice to take with us, and thought we would have dinner after the show.
We arrived at Glasgow Green, but weren’t sure where the show would be. So decided it would be best to park in the “official” car park – which lets be honest was a dump! Having left the pram at home, we thought we would only have a very short walk to the arena. No! We had to cross a very busy part of the road, and then walk a fair distance. Still Neil was there to carry the heavy lump! hehehe.
Along the walk there were signs with the Pinky Ponk showing the direction. Ella clocked these signs, and began very excitedly chatting and pointing at them. It became a game to find the next sign.
As we arrived at the dome, she seemed really excited – we had spent the entire day / walk saying we were going to see Iggle Piggle so not sure if any of that had sunk in.
In the queue, there were loads of children dressed up, and this amused Ella no end! She pointed at each one shouting what we think was “daisy”.
As the doors opened, it was time to go in. As we arrived inside the dome, Ella became very animated. She honestly didn’t know what to look at first. As we walked to our seats, the place was all decorated just like the Garden. She was beside herself with excitement by now!. Every 10 mins or so, the voice over from the show would talk about how long to go, also make some comment about one of the characters. We choose to sit centre stage on the 2nd row, but Ella sat on the first row. Every time she looked around another shout of glee as she found images of Iggle Piggle, Upsy Daisy and the Pontypines wee house.
Then the lights went down, and the show was ready to start. On the walls of the dome, they projected the initial scenes of the programme – including with the child’s hand and the starry sky. Then on came a puppet Iggle Piggle in his boat. The magic had began. All the characters came on as puppets and Ella was delighted.
Then in the background Iggle Piggle’s tune was played. The life size Iggle Piggle keeked out round from the back of the stage. Poor Ella nearly wet herself – well actually having felt how wet her nappy was about half way through the show was she probably did hehehehe.
For the rest of the show, a combination of life size characters, puppets and projections were available at all times. Ella was totally mesmerized. The only downside was that at an hour long – it was probably too long for a 19 month old. Although that said, she still sat mesmerized – better than many of the older children. However, she had moved from sitting on her own in the front row to our knees. Which is when the nappy became so full, that she pee’ed on my knee! ooooops.
At the end of the show, they followed the pattern of the show, and after the story each character was put to bed. Ella, knowing the show all too well, realised that this was clearly the end of the show and became quite hysterical. She was upset the show was over – because she had enjoyed it so much. However as Iggle Piggle came out to show he wasn’t in bed, she calmed down enough to wave goodbye to him. She even managed a smile and a wave to the staff on the way out the door.
So we have to say that despite having to pay an adult price for Ella, that was definately the best £50 we have ever spent! And now today, Mickey Mouse ( her new best pal) has been demoted once again in favour for, no not Iggle Piggle or Upsy Daisy, but in fact Makka Pakka. She has spent all day today shouting “Makka” and so we have a new word in her vocabulary as well.
I would completely recommend going to see the show if you have a small child – even those who liked the programme in the past would love it. Totally something for everyone. Well done the producers for putting together such a wonderfully entrancing show.

Now Read Dave The Dad’s review of ‘Walking With Dinosaurs

The Oscars & Sarah Brown

I was just reading the Sunday papers and they all seem to be full of who will win and who won’t win The Oscars. Oh yeah and who might win and who might lose…. Everyone seems to be covering all options though most are unanimous that Jeff Bridges will win as it’s ‘His Time’. Apparently several nominations and no win means it’s ‘your Time’!

For what it’s worth, we watched ‘The Hurt Locker’ last week and although it’s a really good film, it’s not a great film. Not what I expected in terms of approach but very watchable. The other half and the rest of our clan have seen Avatar and all bar one raved about it. Just doesn’t seem my cup of tea at all. Blue people, 3D and inordinately long: nah, don’t think I’ll be watching that one in the near future! Up? Might watch that one on DVD one day.

Have been given free tickets though for The Blind Side and I have to say it does appear to be the sort of film I gravitate towards. Like everyone else I was surprised by the Oscar nomination for Sandra Bullock. By Tuesday when we go to see the film, we’ll know whether she’s won or not. Whatever the outcome, I don’t think it’s going to colour my judgement but I suspect that if she does win Best Actress, a shed-load more people will go to see it.

And then we come to Colin Firth and his first nomination. Certainly a surprise for me though not for the pundits galore who claimed it was ‘His time’ – not for the same reasons as Jeff Bridges but simply because he’d never been nominated before. Confused?

So does that mean Carey Mulligan will or won’t win? It’s all down to the politics really isn’t it! Now, who is going to win the best dress category….? I was thinking …Sarah Brown, after all it’s ‘Her Time’ but then I remembered that’s a different kind of politics altogether.

Kathryn

The Elephant in the Room

A lot of awww and a few eeewww moments in this video.  Amazing to see how calm the mother is and how instinctively she reacts. They certainly don’t believe in calm serenity and all that stuff after the birth. Give the baby a few kicks, yell at it  and….. awwww  Elephant Giving Birth

We humans don’t seem to do the primal thing with the same panache do we?

http://www.thebabywebsite.com/section.Water_Birth.htm

Kathryn

Michael McIntyre in Cardiff

We’re occasional visitors to our local comedy club, The Glee Club, where we have seen a few good acts and had a chuckle along with a few drinks to let our hair down.

Last Thursday we decided to do things on a slightly larger scale and went to see Michael McIntyre in Cardiff at the Motorpoint Arena.  It must be quite a daunting prospect for a comedian to do a single-handed show in front of four and a half thousand people, let alone when suffering from a nasty tummy bug.  So I can’t help but be filled with admiration for his professionalism and showmanship.

I don’t know what it is, but after only a minute on stage, the entire audience was roaring with laughter.  It’s because it’s almost all observational and it makes you relate to your own experiences.

Michael McIntyre

Michael McIntyre

You are frequently pondering the “I thought it was just me!” stuff.  One particular scene relating to men’s changing rooms was particularly funny, as was an accidental excursion into the womens loos, and the dawning realisation thereafter.  I can particularly remember an occasion myself, after disembarking a long-haul flight at Heathrow, when I found myself wondering why the cubicle had a little bin and some disposal bags in it.  Then the female voices spelled it out.  Of course you finish the business of the day, but have to then work out a strategy that will minimise any embarrassment on departure.  At the time I simply told the surprised fellow attendees that the male establishment had just been temporarily closed for cleaning and that I simply had to go.  No-one batted an eyelid really!

I read an article in The Telegraph last week that there is a distinct north-south divide in British comedy; that northerners are more self-effacing and southerners are more the ‘flash Harry’ types whose humour is at the expense of others.  There was no evidence of the latter on this occasion.  Even on the one and only incidence of heckling, where someone felt aggrieved that the repertoire hadn’t included a proper take-off of the Cardiff accent, he politely and promptly acknowledged with a brilliant rendition.  We’ve seen some heated exchanges between comedians and hecklers in the past, but this was brilliantly handled.

What’s next, I wonder?  We’re going to be meeting up with an old friend from north of the border in a couple of weeks time when we have a bit of a get-together.  Now that can be comedy!  There’s no repertoire, but we end up laughing our heads off for hours on end.  We still reminisce about the time with the fart-machine during breakfast in a hotel in Manchester several years ago.  It’s the closest I’ve ever come to losing control of my bladder during my entire adult lifetime.

N.