Marquees and Raspberries

It’s the end of February and also the close of a very busy week.  It seems but two seconds ago I finished my first blog post and here I am again.  In another way it feels like eons since I wrote a sentence outside of Facebook.  Such is life with small kids!

I have been delighted with my tablet.  It took me until Wednesday to realise the sim card actually was still lurking in the postage bag the tablet arrived in and would not, in fact, be sent separately – but that is just a minor detail. A much stickier point, given my mission to become more tech savvy blah blah, was that I was surprised it needed  a sim at first.  That one is still expected to make phone calls on the thing. I am putting that down to the fact my last (first) tablet was not like that as it was not an “additional line”.  Yeah, that absolves me.

Text messages don’t need sims or anything, they work via brainwaves and magic to get where they need to go.

(Ever feel like you’ve overshot your use by date??)

Having a Samsung phone made tinkering with this:

tab pic

Much less of a “how the hell does this work, then” and more an “Oooo that’s better than on my phone…mmm that’s much better on the bigger screen” kind of a deal. I tinkered about with the Busy Things site for my 4 year old.  I marvelled at all the new emoticons I now have at my command.  By Thursday night I had downloaded the 4OD app and was comfortably watching telly-on-the-tab.  I also ordered a wee starter kit and case from Currys (being careful to get the 8 inch one as there were a lot of 7 inch ones ready to bamboozle me).  Yesterday I added the BBC media player app and the kids and I watched CBeebies.  (This was necessary because our telly died, more on that later). Rock and roll!

Codecademy does not work on the damn thing though, and the desktop site for Duolingo is not much cop, either (insert dismayed emoticon here).  Even worse?  Busy things has none of the games we especially like, featuring the chicken, for use on the tab unless I want to download a 69p app! I was surprised by how upset I got about that, my eldest (Peeks) and I have a deep seated fascination with that crazy chicken, it would seem.  He counts, swerves about recklessly in go karts, takes no heed of the highway code on residential streets either, catches monsters (or sometimes gets eaten by one), mines, wanders through tunnels and other things besides.  What’s not to love?

I paid our yearly subscription to the site; I want a free chicken game outside of PC use, damn it!

All in all though, I am a happy little customer.  I have figured out what the number is for the new sim and I feel very relieved that we have 20GB shared between my phone and the tab for when we are out and about/I forget to pop our broadband on/the broadband gets uppity and stops conversing with  a device without warning.  Peeks has got into watching Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures on YouTube, and it is such a good source of questions and answers for him that I would rather not be worrying about escalating bills; but sit and hear him expound on things for a while with a smile on my face.

I only wish that the tablet could play DVDs.

The lovely lady whose course we are taking for a few weeks was here, and she wanted to show us the companion DVD; which is imperative to get the concepts across properly, and us off to a good start.  We failed on the last part. Drastically.  Our TV has been playing up for a while now: horrible chewing noises emanating from the built in DVD player, the flicker giving the word ‘remote’ as it’s relationship status, etc. It was a case of having to ‘ping’ a DVD with one’s nail at just the right moment, say a shamanic prayer, and wait to see what happened.  On Tuesday night, at the crucial moment, the DVD player just laughed at us.  It played snippets then stopped. Played on and on despite repeated pleas to pause/put the picture in slow-mo and other such banter. We finally just let it run and tried to keep up. (Only after we had asked Mr Loopy Laptop if he wanted to help out, however.  He didn’t,  just sat and glared at us. Perfect.)

There will be a new laptop brought along on Tuesday.  I am going to keep Mr. Loopy well away in case he employs what remains of his free megabyte (fanged emoticon).

So we got a replacement TV today (yaay for buying extended warranty).  22 inch, 2015 version of what we had before so it fits on the wall bracket. Yes this is our main (read only) TV in the house.  Yes, it only has Freeview on it.  Again, this is me you’re talking to, remember?

I am kind of scared to take the new telly out of its box, which is a bit of a bonkers situation, don’t you think?  I am beginning to wonder who has been feeding our tech after midnight.

Anyway, all this talk of tech and none of the coding journey! Well, I used the <marquee> tag this week for the first time.  Very awesome.  I am using this book just now (it says ‘for ages 8 and up’ so I feel safe) and popping the resulting code into one of my ‘codebits’ on Codecademy once I’ve tested it out in Notepad.

I made Viking ship pictures race each other across the screen!

My boys loved it and so did I! I was/am ridiculously proud of myself. I want to do that with more things, but really need to focus on building up my JavaScript knowledge as well as my fun HTML/CSS stuff.

I worked out earlier in the week that if you look at the fact that I have completed the HTML/CSS course, plus half of the JS course, in 95 days; and take into account the approximations of time to complete that they give on the site…it looks like I only do about 8 mins coding a day (!).  I have been doing the codebits for a while now too, however, and I currently have two books out of the library in addition to the one mentioned above (honest, guv…).

The truth is though: it is hard going trying to make some sort of niche for myself to learn all this stuff.  Right now (for example) I have a pile of clean laundry teetering for my attention in each bedroom (I got as far as dividing it into owners’) and I can hear my boys getting narky downstairs, so feel guilty for leaving them for my hubby to sort out when the Six Nations are on and it is a family day & co. But there is a slow steady drip of this new fascination going on in my brain. I am making sure the streak is added to daily, the books are looked at regularly, and my internet surfing stays at least partly relevant each day.  Just like I shovel a load of laundry dutifully into the washing machine or run a hoover across the floor, I am committing time to learning about the other ‘everyday’ technology; and the stuff the future will be made of, too.  Carving out some regular slots so it becomes part of the routine. I’m taking an intellectual sojourn into that which I wish to become accustomed to and comfortable with, all the while hoping that soon it won’t feel like I will lose my children in a strange sci-fi utopia one day, but that I will stand with them as a bridge between yesterday and tomorrow.

Or something equally grandiose.

Basically, I don’t want to keep looking like such a pillock when all my tech decides to blow raspberries at once…

Signing On

Ok, so I am interpreting it as a sign.

Two signs, actually.

The first was that on this, my 90th Codecademy day, less than half an hour after I texted my hubby along the lines of:

“I totally should start a blog about being a stay at home mum of two in my late(ish) 30s trying to get tech savvy, whilst also learning to code, despite the madness that is commonplace around here”;

Vodafone sent me a text to say my new tablet would arrive a day early. Today! (Luckily I read the text about four minutes before the time slot specified had started. It was equally lucky that I had finished the last leg of the nursery run and I’d already, alongside my two excited spudlings, watched/waved at the bin men going about their business. I had also been given time to pull in the pushchair, prevent the newly emptied bins from escaping down the street in the gale-force wind, and wrestle the kids from their coats. Fortune definitely smiled on me.)

The second favourable portent? As I wrote ‘sign’ above, the doorbell rang. The tablet is here!! Yaay!! Let the blogging commence!

Now, don’t go thinking it is a massive or fancy tablet. (C’mon, it’s me writing here). Once I’ve pulled it from its box and played with it for a few hours I will provide a wee review of it (in layman’s terms, of course). I need it for conservative things: pictures, Youtube, surfing the web…maybe some Skype with my Inlaws and definitely coding. Or for giving to my hubby to make up for the fact I have commandeered the PC for coding. You catch my drift.

My laptop died. Or rather: it has stopped associating with the internet and has a creaky, unfriendly C drive. The D drive is unfortunately bloated with four years of snap-happy-mummy’s picture storage requirements.

Our other (cheap) tablet got picky about whom it liked handling it, and also fell out with our internet connection.

So don’t go thinking I am collecting tech for the sake of it or anything.

I prefer to use my devices to near-death, and then poke their gasping bodies. Or at least use them until they are firmly old-hat.

I think my last Walkman actually still works, as does my Dictaphone with the wee tapes. Aaah memories.

I currently have a Galaxy Express 2 Android phone…and that was an upgrade from my (purple) HTC Wildfire S only a year or so ago. It in turn was an upgrade from an archaic device I forget the name of that had no internet capability. Heavens!!

I love my phone – kiddy-scars and all – but it’ll never make me cool (or get pinched in a bar, for that matter). I still lament the fact I have to edit my videos of the kids to short blasts in order to email them to my mum. Silly decent cameras. It used to be so simple. (Probably still is but I haven’t realised…must google that…)

I LOVE being able to snap pics wherever I go, however, and SD cards are genius.

But I digress.

So why IS this woman who hasn’t written so a computer can understand her since Commodore 64 days (and who wrote all of her English degree’s essays on a hand-me-down PC sporting Windows 95, despite it being 2000-04) – not to MENTION her being maths-phobic and not one for zooming far out of her comfort zone to boot – suddenly wanting to learn to code???!

Well, I was messing around on Duolingo (currently on a 135-day streak, dabbling in 4 languages, if you’re interested) and I thought: “coding is just another series of languages.  Maybe I should check that out” and here I am.

  • Spending 15-30mins a day on it.
  • Getting books out the library about it.
  • Reading and USING said books.
  • Enjoying it, for goodness sake.
  • Surprising myself daily.
  • Beginning to realise the potential and scope of it.
  • Exercising my fluffy mummy mind.

I also read that women are not getting into coding as much as they could (and should) be. I can’t have that…