The 1988 Eddie Murphy classic, Coming to America, remains one of my favourite comedies. Fittingly, I have always felt the need to make a pilgrimage to the US of A at some point in life. NBA basketball, Hollywood, mushu pork, cheap shopping, impressive landscapes and landmarks, powerful cities, some of the world’s leading Christian thinkers, Disneyland, this place has something for everyone. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine some point in life to look like this - unemployed, married and with 2 young boys in tow. Trying to make it happen for a year, no less. No plan, no agenda, no worries?

It’s been 3 weeks since we left the safety, comfort and convenience of home and started our temporary new life here in Chicago. Here’s an obligatory pic of the famous Chicago theatre. 

For friends reading this blog post who had no idea this was on the cards, I apologise. We didn’t do a farewell party and we didn’t inform the Facebook. One of my recent mantras has been “not everything needs to be on Facebook”. That’s a separate post altogether. We were however, simply too busy trying to pack up the house and prepare ourselves for leaving. For those of you who made time to see us before we left, we treasure those moments greatly. 

Why take this year off? I could make a list of things I’m tired of seeing & hearing in Perth, but I won’t. I will say that we needed a break and I’ve been feeling this need for the past 2 years or so. Phe and I intend to spend time bonding as a young family, in a way that we can’t back home. By ourselves, in each others’ faces, 24/7! I’m please to report that 3 weeks in, the marriage is intact. 

We want to travel, explore and play tourist. It’s a long way to come and I’d much rather live in a place and experience it as the locals do, rather than spend a few short weeks and rush through everything. My rule of thumb is that doing anything with young kids takes 3x as long. Also, holidays aren’t much fun when you have to go back to work! 

We want to broaden our spiritual horizons. The Christian church scene in America is rich with both history and progression. We look forward to the opportunity to connect with different people groups and be exposed to fresh, real and dynamic ways of being the church that Christ intended us to be. 

Why Chicago? All roads pointed to it after much pondering and deliberation. Now that we’re here, our first impressions of this city are hugely positive. People are so nice and the city has much to offer. It’s a fantastic place to be, although we’re not sure if we’re tough enough to be here for the peak of winter! Every big city has its dark side though, and over 30 shootings on the Saturday just gone was a stark reminder of that. 

For now, it’s a happy time for our little family with many new adventures to be had and new memories to be made. And as I write this sentence, baby #2 has been screaming for over half an hour and it’s time to go sooth the little guy. With a harp … oon.

First time standing in snow!!

3 years ago, our lives was turned upside down when The Boy entered this world. He’s not the only boy anymore, but he is still The Boy. How 3 years have flown by!

I’d love to see the stats - meals prepared, nappies changed, songs sung, stories read, instructions barked, nails clipped, clothes laundered, prayers uttered, babycinos swilled, balls kicked, tears spilled, laughs laughed, cuddles exchanged. But the stats are irrelevant, just mere numbers in a giant game of connect-the-life-dots. The journey though, is everything. 

Happy 3rd birthday, young fella. You bring Mamma and I so much joy and happiness! I’m so proud to be your Daddyo and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings :)

I am a bit sick and tired of tradespeople in Perth that simply don’t show up when they say they will. We’ve had so many different tradespeople that have done work on our house and I only recommend the ones who show up when they say they will. Even if they are a bit more expensive, it’s worth the money not to have my time wasted. 

Case in point. All Suburbs Landscapes is a business that advertises on Gumtree and has the following website: 

allsuburbslandscapes.com.au

On Friday, I called them up and spoke to a friendly chap who promised me 2 cubes of mulch first thing Saturday morning. “Our guys will be pretty early, is 7am OK?” Yes! The earlier the better. All was well and I organised cash to pay them. 

They never showed up. By 10am, they still hadn’t showed. I left a voice message with them asking if they were still coming. It’s Monday evening now and I still haven’t heard back. 

Seriously. Perth tradespeople - it’s so simple. Show up when you say you will. If you can’t, at least call the customer and reschedule. That is all. 

For the record, I tried calling them again today to give them a second chance. Voicemail. Taking my business elsewhere. Annoyed enough to blog about it. 

As a dad with a toddler, I occasionally check the baby monitor when The Boy is sleeping. Worst fear - seeing someone else in his room. This article raises a concern I never would’ve imagined even at the heights of paranoia. As much as I love technology, this sort of incident makes a strong case for an Amish lifestyle.

Keep your networks secure, good people!

Tomorrow is my 36th birthday. I don’t care too much for celebrations nowadays and am happy just to have a quiet dinner with family. This year, I feel older. It struck me that, as of this year, I am closer to 40 than I am to 30 for the first time. This is an undeniable fact.

Something else is different. This is the first birthday without Henry. Since I met my friend Henry, almost 15 years ago, he has made it a birthday tradition to have the local radio station read out a birthday greeting from his family. Every year without fail, I’d get a text from Henry, saying “Don’t forget to listen to the breakfast show tomorrow!”

This year, I won’t be getting a text from Henry. But I know he’d still remember my birthday. This year, buddy, I will remember you on the eve of my birthday. 

Here goes.

You left this world on December 9, 2012. Perhaps you lost your battle with cancer, but you most certainly won in life. People nowadays attach “winning” to silly photos and emails that get forwarded for quick laughs. But you, sir, you showed us that winning in life meant having unshakable faith, being an amazing husband, committing to your kids, chasing your dreams and putting others first time and time again. I say you won in life and you won big.

I will never forget that you took time out of your busy day and demanding role at work to spend time helping me to figure my career out. You passed significant clients onto me, extending goodwill to a young upstart who might never have followed through. 

The endless stream of corny jokes. Oh, they were bad. You knew they were bad!! But there was always something to smile about with you. You’re one of my “Dad Joke Heroes”. If my kids ever groan when I make a bad joke - and they will - I will smile and nod knowingly, thinking “Henry’s were worse.” I think my favourite is when I would ask if you needed a hand and you always responded “Yeah! The left one!” 

I wonder if I will ever meet another similarly generous soul. 

You made me cry, dude. TWICE. The first time, you publicly stood up for me and what I believed in, when others were singling me out for things that simply weren’t true. The second time, when you passed away. Right now, you’re doing it again. Seriously? Enough already :)

I saw you the day before your body breathed its last. I wanted to say thanks for everything, but I couldn’t, because it would’ve meant admitting defeat. Bringing my guitar to your hospital room and playing for you goes down as one of my most significant and memorable musical experiences. Seeing Sharon “dance you” to the bathroom with a smile on her face - words fail me. 

Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, but love leaves a memory no one can steal. (Unknown)

Thanks for the memories Henry. RIP.

Love from DP&R

This week I bought a Nexus 7 tablet, my first tablet. Whilst I don’t intend on doing great amounts of productive work on it, the idea of sporadically being productive on a tablet was intriguing. I saw this ZDNet article titled “Using Nexus 7 with keyboard: Not on your life” (http://www.zdnet.com/using-nexus-7-with-keyboard-not-on-your-life-7000001891/). 

The author, James Kendrick, has a rather negative conclusion of typing on a Nexus 7. I really don’t think the conclusion needs to be quite that polarising. I believe there IS a middle ground to be found here.

Last night I connected an Apple Wireless Keyboard via bluetooth to my Nexus 7 (Jelly Bean 4.2). WHY? The keyboard is used with my Macbook at home. It’s a great keyboard with excellent feel and compact dimensions. I wondered if I could use it with the N7 and not have to buy another external keyboard, particularly as Mr Kendrick’s article strongly suggests that it’s not worth the effort. 

This is what it looks like:

Yes, it looks rather amusing! I don’t have a stand for the N7 yet, so it’s being propped up against its box in this photo.

This blog post is to tell you that it works and in particular, WHAT works. 

CONNECTIVITY

1. Turn on Bluetooth on the N7.
2. Turn on the keyboard.
3. Wait for the N7 to detect the keyboard.
After a few times cycling through the above steps, the connection was eventually made. Enter a numeric pass code on the keyboard and we’re all set. 

TYPING

No surprises here, really. Typing works as you’d expect. Touch any text entry field within apps or websites and the N7 doesn’t show the on-screen keyboard but instead, defaults to the Apple. As it’s a very nice keyboard to type on, I quite enjoyed typing. For longer text entries - emails, blogs, documents - I’d happily use the Apple keyboard instead. Would I bring it with me if I was travelling? For a weekend getaway, no. For a 2 week vacation or more without my Macbook, probably!

NAVIGATING

It’s a bit odd using a physical keyboard without a trackpad or mouse to navigate with. There’s no option but to touch the screen occasionally, or even often. No question about it, productivity is not going to be on par with a laptop/desktop setup. But it’s OK, if you’re patient and don’t mind making the minor adjustments. You’re not going to want to do this all day though.

KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS

I love keyboard shortcuts. I couldn’t find much info online about keyboard shortcuts that work with the N7/Apple combo. But, I’m pleased to report that there are a number of shortcuts that do work on Jelly Bean 4.2 and these are the ones I’ve found:

Apple key:

  • A - Launches Calculator
  • E - Launches Email
  • T - Launches Google Talk
  • Y - Launches Youtube
  • P - Launches Google Play Music
  • G - Launches Gmail
  • L - Launches Calendar
  • C - Launches Contacts
  • M - Launches Maps

Esc - Equivalent to the Android Back button

Ctrl + Left/Right Arrow - skip to the previous/next word

Ctrl + Up/Down Arrow - skip up or down a paragraph

Option(Alt) + Left/Right - Positions cursor at the Start/end of a row of text

F3 - brings up Recent apps floating window. Select the app with cursor keys and press Enter/Return to launch it.

Volume down/up keys work accordingly.

Within the Chrome browser, Alt-L selects the address bar, to quickly enter a website address.

CONCLUSION

I was pleasantly surprised at just how functional the Apple keyboard is with the N7. Yes, it’s cumbersome to work with a small screen and without a pointing device (mouse/trackpad), but the keyboard shortcuts make the whole experience far more user friendly. 

Would I choose to regularly create content on this setup? No, because I have my Macbook :) BUT, let’s say the Macbook died and I absolutely had to resort to this setup, I think I would be quite OK with it. YMMV, of course!

This is a real reminder to appreciate the generations that have gone before us, for better or for worse. I also continue to be amazed at the sense of community and civic duty that seems to be imbued into Japanese culture. 

Got an Ultrabook or Macbook Air? Thinking of buying one? This new Fixya report covers known hardware & software issues with 7 popular models.

I discovered this report after one of my 2011 Macbook Air 11” keyboard is playing up - the down cursor key is travelling too far into the chassis and does not register keystrokes at times. It’s a shame, considering the laptop warranty expired 3 weeks ago and I have treated it with the utmost care.

RIP Tiger Tiger 329 Murray St, Perth

Tiger Tiger is was one of my preferred coffee and breakfast spots. They make consistent coffee and some incredible breakfast bagels and fruit/nut toast. I get a coffee from there at least once a week. 

Today, I ordered a coffee and fruit/nut toast. The lady in the kitchen called out my toast order. It was in a takeaway bag, so I asked whether it was fruit/nut toast and she said yes. I walked off, opened it up and took a bite only to discover that it was plain bread with butter. 

I went back. No apologies were made and Blondie Head Honcho Lady (Jenna?) scowled and gave me attitude, because clearly this was all my fault. I smiled at her and politely explained that I had actually asked if it was fruit/nut toast before taking the bag. Her angry response - “Yeah and she told you!” Obviously that wasn’t the case. 

Here’s a tip lady. Perth has a competitive coffee scene. If you keep treating people rudely, they will go elsewhere. It’s not the first time I’ve gotten attitude from Tiger Tiger (others have also attested to the attitude issue), but it’s certainly the last. I hereby strike it from my recommended coffee bar list.

RIP Tiger Tiger, you are dead to me.

Say what you will about birds singing & all that, but IMHO very few sounds are as glorious as an F1 car screaming through a tunnel. Oh my Lord, thank you for engineers!!