Dan's Blog

Maybe one day I'll come up with a more imaginitive name

Sleeping off the surgery! — November 26, 2017
Dog 1 – 0 Humans — November 7, 2017

Dog 1 – 0 Humans

Luna has defeated us!

She’s now 6.5 months old. Have a recent picture…

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Ever since we got her, we’ve struggled to get her to eat dry food consistently. We want her to eat dry food because wet food is disgusting. She was on a kibble called Chudleys when we got her, which to be fair, was too big and hard for her puppy teeth. So we soaked it and she ate some of it, but with no enthusiasm.

Before long, we switched her to Tails.com dry food, which she couldn’t get enough of at first. She would work for it, she would get it out of her spinny food dispenser thing. It was going well. Then she gradually became less interested in it. We’re trying our best to train her, which of course involves using treats as rewards, so presumably, she started to think “what’s the point of eating this dry stuff when I get tasty moist treats anyway?” It doesn’t help that she’s so small, so if we give her a handful of treats during a training session, she’s pretty much full, or at least not hungry enough to eat her food.

Tails.com constantly change your dog’s blend to meet their nutritional needs as they grow, and with each new bag, there seemed to be a new type of kibble in there that Luna didn’t like, so she would leave that and eat the rest. We also tried soaking the food, but it didn’t seem to make a huge amount of difference. We had a dog trainer visit the house for a training session, and he recommended a food called Platinum, which is a dry food, but cooked in a different way, so it’s quite soft and a bit moist, more like a treat than a normal piece of kibble. It’s also over 70% meat, so we ordered some.

Then Luna got ill. One morning she woke up but wouldn’t get out of bed, and when she finally did, she was shaking uncontrollably and barely moving. So off to the vets we went, thinking she was about to die. They couldn’t find anything wrong, and said it was probably just something she’d eaten, so they gave her an anti-sickness injection and sent us on our way. HOWEVER, they also recommended feeding her Hills prescription food for a few days, which is a bland chicken and rice wet food, supposed to be easy to digest and good for sensitive stomachs. She loved this food and wolfed it down in seconds. Then the shaking thing happened again a few days later so we were back at the vets. This time they did x-rays, ultrasounds and kept her in overnight, but again found nothing wrong and put it down to something she had eaten working its way through her system. Another week of Hills wet food for Luna.

By this time, the Platinum dry food had arrived, and once she was on the mend, we switched her to that and again she loved it and would do anything for it, so we thought we’d struck gold (funnily enough the food is a similar price to gold!) and that we’d found a dry food she would eat.

A couple of weeks later, and again she started to turn her nose up at it. She would sniff it and just walk away, holding out for something more interesting.

At this point she was coming up to 6 months old, and we were starting to think about getting her spayed, but the vet said she could do with gaining some weight first. She was about 3kg, and ideally she would be around 4kg before having the operation. So we were a bit stuck, as it’s not easy to get your dog to gain weight when she won’t eat her food.

We read a lot of advice, and consulted our dog trainer, and decided to try the ‘wait it out’ approach to get her eating again. This involves limiting any treats, and putting the food ration out for 15 minutes, then taking it away whether it’s been eaten or not. The idea is that eventually the dog realises there are no other options and eats the food before its too late. This method is even recommended by Hills so it seemed fitting that we should give it a try. The general consensus was that you might have to stick it out for 2, 3, or even 4 days, but once your dog got hungry enough, they would start eating and all would be well in the universe.

Luna lasted 5 days before we caved. She would occasionally pick at a few bits of food, usually in the evening, but other than that she ate pretty much nothing. Since she was already a bit underweight, we felt we couldn’t continue to starve her out. We considered food toppers, but in the end went with some advice we read to add a few drops of fish oil to the food. This worked a treat, and she ate the oily food with relish.

A week later and even the oily Platinum food was being rejected!

This whole thing was causing us so much trouble. We couldn’t get her spayed because she wouldn’t eat enough to gain weight, and so we couldn’t take her to doggy daycare in case she came into season and accidentally got pregnant. And we couldn’t do any training because we were still restricting her treats, so she was getting really badly behaved.

In the end, we decided it wasn’t worth all the stress, and we’ve put her on wet food (Wainwrights) for the time being. We figure we’ll get some weight on her, get her spayed, and then reassess the situation and maybe try to get her back on dry food once she’s a healthy weight. In the meantime we can continue training knowing that no matter how many treats she’s had, she’ll still polish off her disgusting wet food in a matter of seconds.

Luna, you are the most stubborn dog in the world, but we love you anyway!

 

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So we got a puppy… — September 2, 2017

So we got a puppy…

Meet Luna, our 4 month old Jackapoo puppy:

Luna in the park
She lost her first tooth!

We brought Luna home at the end of June, and it’s been a hectic couple of months to say the least!
Toilet training, crate training, recall training, Zoomies, puppy proofing the house, the quest for the ultimate chew toy… It’s been non stop, and a bit more tiring and stressful than we anticipated, but we’re full of love for her and the evening snuggles make it all worthwhile!

Luna asleep on my lap
This is how she sleeps on us!

Our priority at the moment is separation training. She can’t stand being left on her own for more than 10 seconds, so we’re working on increasing that gradually. Any tips would be gratefully accepted!

Here’s a few more pics:

100 Days of Yoga — April 9, 2017
What will we do when the robots take our jobs? — March 8, 2017

What will we do when the robots take our jobs?

Hardly a day goes by any more without a new article pondering the threat of AI and how it will cause a huge rise in unemployment as more and more jobs can be done by computers instead of people.

Drivers are the latest potential victims, as driverless cars start to become the norm, and car accidents are drastically reduced by having a computer behind the wheel instead of an ‘intelligent’ ape, there will be no more need for human drivers, and they will all have to find another way to earn a living.

It’s not just manual jobs like driving and factory work that could be at risk. Anything involving data could eventually be done by a powerful enough computer, for example accounting or software development. (You could argue that consciousness is just a matter of data processing so in theory there’s nothing a human can do that a sufficiently advanced machine couldn’t, but that’s a different subject).

In my job of customer support, we are already starting to use automated software which can answer users’ questions before they even contact us. Currently it only deals with around 6% of user questions, but how long before it can answer everything, and humans are no longer required for customer support?

So what will we do when the robots take our jobs? There are some that envisage a kind of utopia  where AI solves world poverty and frees humankind to indulge in whatever creative pursuits we want to spend our time on. That’s a nice idea, but seems a bit over optimistic.

However, I do think that the only jobs left for humans in future may be the more creative jobs that only a human can do (although as mentioned, that is debatable). Maybe when almost everything is produced by AI, there will be a much higher demand for art, music and literature created by humans.

Nobody really knows how things will progress but I know that if I was still in school now, I would definitely be leaning more towards a creative career path rather than an academic one. And while this concern is not one of the reasons that I draw and paint, it is kind of comforting to know that I have something to fall back on the day a robot steals my job!

First impressions of the new MacBook Pro — January 29, 2017

First impressions of the new MacBook Pro

I recently upgraded from a late 2013 13″ MacBook Pro, to the new 2016 15″ MacBook Pro with touch bar. I thought I’d write a few first impressions after using it for a couple of days.

I like to end on a positive, so I’ll start with the things I don’t like about it.

The negatives

No Magsafe

This is the biggest negative for me. The magsafe power cord was a really nice feature of previous MacBooks, attaching the power cable to the laptop magnetically, so that a sharp tug would simply disconnect the power, rather than sending your ridiculously expensive computer crashing to the floor.

The new MacBook is powered through any of the 4 USB-C ports, with no magnets in sight. It’s a pretty tight fit too, so if I knock that cable, it’s not going to come out, it’s going to take my laptop with it.

It’s kind of nice being able to plug the power cable in on either side of the laptop, but I’d rather have the magsafe back. There are a few magnetic USB-C adapters surfacing, but nothing I’d feel confident to use at this stage.

No power via Thunderbolt display

I have a dual screen setup, using a Thunderbolt display as my main screen, and one of the things I really liked about that with my old Mac was that I could power the laptop via the magsafe cable included with the display. So when I was at my desk, I didn’t have to use a separate power adapter for the Mac, so I could keep it in my bag for when I was working remotely.

With the lack of magsafe, I now have to use the Mac’s power adapter at my desk, and unplug it and take it with me if I work away from home (or buy a second power adapter).

There’s also a useless magsafe connector now dangling impotently from my Thunderbolt display.

The touch bar

As I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere, this feature seems like a solution without a problem. It seems like a cool idea, but it’s not actually particularly useful as far as I can tell, and it’s annoying having to look for the volume control, tap it and then slide to adjust, rather than just hitting the familiar keys.

I also have the laptop on a stand and use an external keyboard, so I suspect the touch bar won’t see much use from me.

All the dongles

With Apple getting rid of all USB-A ports, adapters are required if you want to use any non-USB-C stuff with your new Mac. This isn’t a huge deal for me, as I only really need the thunderbolt adapter to plug in my display. The display has 3 USB-A ports in the back of the screen, so I can use those when connected to the display for my wireless mouse and phone charging cables. When I’m using the laptop on its own, I rarely use the USB ports anyway, but I got the USB-C to USB-A adapter just in case I need it at any point.

The positives

Touch ID

I LOVE this feature! I use 1Password and my master password is really long (and secure!) I was forever mistyping it due to trying to type it too fast. Now I just touch my finger to the sensor and I’m in. Same for unlocking the computer. Less typing, less chance of RSI. Winning!

Fast charging

Not a huge deal, but despite the inconvenient lack of magsafe, it does charge nice and fast via the USB-C cable. I haven’t timed it, but it’s fast.

It’s a Mac

I don’t have any other specific features to rave about, but despite the negatives mentioned above, it’s still a great computer, and it does everything I need it to do. Also I didn’t have to pay for it, so I have no room to complain!

However, when it comes time to replace this one, I will be taking a look at what else is available and considering very carefully whether a Mac is still the right choice for me.

Dan’s blog is now dans.blog — January 9, 2017

Dan’s blog is now dans.blog

Thanks to Automattic being the registrar for .blog domain names, I was able to get the domain dans.blog, which I’m sure you’ll agree is a lot easier to remember than iamdanjohnson.wordpress.com 🙂

I guess now there’s no need to think of a more imaginative name!

In other news, we stuck to our policy of not sending Christmas cards, and nobody cared. At least nobody told us they cared. And some people told us they didn’t care!

The only people we sent cards to were our neighbours, mainly so they know our names as we haven’t met them all yet. Maybe we’ll strike them off the list next year too! 😀

No Christmas card for you this year! — December 17, 2016

No Christmas card for you this year!

I’ve always thought that the custom of sending cards to everyone you know at Christmas is pretty weird (I know we apes do a lot of crazy things, especially at Christmas – bringing six million dying trees into our homes for a few weeks springs to mind.)

The US spends around $2 billion on Christmas cards every year, and after Christmas, people in the UK will dump or burn over a billion cards. There’s also the trees that are cut down every year to make all the cards, not to mention the money spent on postage stamps, and the additional carbon footprint left by the delivery of all those cards.

I like getting Christmas cards as much as the next person, but I no longer feel I can justify participating in this just for the sake of tradition and meeting people’s expectations.

So this year, and presumably every year from now on, we are not sending any Christmas cards, and we are donating the money we would have spent on them to Unicef, to help Syrian children.

I’m sure some people will be unimpressed with this decision, but frankly, we’re not doing it to impress anyone, just trying to put our money to better use and reduce our impact on the environment. If you usually send us a card, feel free to continue, or not, it’s entirely up to you. Any cards will be gratefully received, but we won’t be offended if you decide to stop sending them.

And if you think we’re somehow trying to say we’re better than anyone else for taking the ‘moral high ground’, rest assured that we will still be wrapping presents in paper, cooking a turkey, and driving all over the place to visit relatives, so feel free to look down on us for any of those things! 🙂

Merry Christmas!

We moved house — November 17, 2016

We moved house

They say moving house (and especially buying a house) is among the most stressful life events. Well, we just bought our first house, and moved in a couple of weeks ago, and while there have been moments of stress, on the whole I think we’ve handled it pretty well and we got through it relatively unscathed!

I also seem to have discovered a hidden… I can’t say talent… let’s say a willingness to attempt DIY, which seems to have been mostly dormant for the 36 years I have lived in someone else’s house. I haven’t done any major renovations (we purposely bought a house that didn’t really need any work), but I have done a lot of odd jobs such as mounting the TV on the wall, putting up curtain rails and blinds, laying (a very small amount of) flooring and carpet, putting a bolt on the bathroom door, and my personal favourite: hanging my guitars on the wall!

One of the hardest tasks so far has been replacing the toilet seat! The old one had bolts that had rusted tight, so I ended up having to drill them off, which took way longer than it should have.

Anyway, we’re getting to the point where there’s not too much left to do, so the tools will probably be hibernating for the winter soon, but it’s nice to know I can at least drill a hole in a wall when I need to!

Thanks to everyone who sent us cards/gifts/messages, we really appreciate it!

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Where I’ve been in 2016 — October 15, 2016

Where I’ve been in 2016

This year I’ve traveled more than ever before. Here’s a summary of my 2016 destinations:

February – Hermanus, South Africa

Hermanus coastal walk
Hermanus coastal walk

This was a team meetup with work, and since most of the team were from South Africa, it worked out most cost effective to have it there. I wasn’t complaining!

Hermanus is a lovely seaside town a couple of hours drive from Cape Town. This was my 4th trip to South Africa, and it never gets old. A+++ would go again.

April – Dublin

Obligatory Guinness Tour
Obligatory Guinness Tour

Shortly after South Africa I moved to a different team, just in time to join them on their meetup in Dublin. Nice short trip for me this time!

I only stayed a few days and now wish I’d had more time as I’d never been before and would have liked to see more of Ireland. Maybe next year.

June – Zadar, Croatia

The clear waters of Croatia
The clear waters of Croatia

In June, my wife and I headed to Croatia for some sun and sightseeing. We’d never heard of Zadar before, but it was the only place Ryanair flew to, so we gave it a chance and it was amazing. We would definitely go back there.

July – Berlin

Street art in Berlin
Street art in Berlin

Yet another work meetup! It’s not common to go on this many team meetups in one year, but this year was an exception because a) I switched teams, so I got to go on a meetup for each team, and b) I got to go to Berlin for the final “WooTrip”, which was a meetup for the entire WooThemes team (WooThemes was the company I worked for originally, before they were acquired by Automattic last year).

Berlin is great. I recommend doing a bike tour of the city.

August – Budapest

In August we went to Budapest for a week, to visit my sister, who lives there. This was a kind of second summer holiday, and the weather did not let us down.

September – Whistler, Canada

Finally, there was my company’s annual Grand Meetup in Whistler, which I wrote a bit more about in my previous post.

I know some people travel a lot more than this, but this was at least 5 more overseas trips than I usually make in an average year, and it felt like a lot of flying, waiting in airports and train stations, and a lot of time away from home. Fortunately I have no more trips planned until probably next April, which suits me fine!

I like to travel, but it’s always nice to get home.