Arthur At Six Months

It’s late August and Arthur’s six months old, eating messy ‘solids’ and has had one lot of surgery on his lip. He’s doing well, putting on a quarter of a kilo last week. Let’s hope that rate of growth slows somewhat, eventually! He’s pictured on the right here with Lion, a genuine native Namibian, who chose to travel back to the UK with Arthur’s Grandpa Dave (Julie’s dad). On the left, below, he’s being bewildered by my brother Nathan on his cousin Florence’s play mat.

As I mentioned, Arthur has had one operation so far. This was to ‘pin’ the sides of his lips up to the middle part of his lip, and to start pulling that middle part back a little. It is preparatory surgery for his second operation, which has recently been retimed to mid October. The second operation will be more of a cosmetic one with the aim of connecting the lip muscles rather than just the skin. Once everything has calmed down, this should go some way towards looking like a ‘normal’ lip.

Further operations will be required to close the gap in his palate and possibly to pull back the gum and bone that sit behind the middle lip. The former should take place near his first birthday, as this will be necessary for speech development.  The latter will probably happen just before school age, so I reckon he’ll be a bit goofy with his milk teeth until then!

All of this is being done on the NHS, whose South Thames Cleft Services have given us some excellent support. In other countries kids aren’t quite so lucky. You’ve probably seen the adverts for SmileTrain, a charity facilitating cleft repairs for those in countries without the facilities we get from the NHS.

Anyway, tonight sees him move out of our room and into his own bedroom, into the cot bed that could be his bed for the next four and a half years! Hopefully he’ll take to it well. We’ll see!

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Arthur Update

A quick update on Arthur. He’s been home now for just over a week and isn’t requiring a tube to feed, which is good news. He’s gaining weight as expected. We’re now dealing with the normal new born parents’ problem of trying to get enough sleep!
We have an appointment on Monday with the team of people who will be performing lip and palate surgery, orthodontal work, speech and language therapy and hearing corrections. They’ll lay out the timetable for the work on him and we’ll ask questions. I’m going to try and record the meeting on my phone, as the first thing that disappears with sleep deprivation is memory!
After the meeting it’s back to work for me after three weeks off. I’ll leave you with a picture of him in his Moses basket at home, eyes open and no feeding tube in sight.
By the way, thanks everyone for the cards, calls and presents. It means a lot. Thank you cards will be on their way out just as soon as we can teach him to write.
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Meet Arthur Albert Gallagher, my son. Born two and a half days ago. He’s had limited exposure to the world so far as he has been kept in the neo natal ward to sort out his feeding.

During Julie’s pregnancy he was diagnosed with a cleft lip and palate. Have a look at, the Cleft Lip & Palate association, for some great material about the condition (for instance, “one in every 600-700 children in the UK is born with a cleft lip and / or palate”). In Arthur’s case the cleft is bilateral and so the middle part of his upper lip is not pulled into position by the rest of the lip. This is the protrusion under his nose (see the picture below and right). They’ll operate on this when he’s about 3 months old to pull it into position. See these photos for examples of the results.

As you can see, he has a feeding tube taped into position. He can’t form suction due to his cleft palate: There’s no way of creating an air tight seal with a bottle or breast. Usually the tube would go up through the nose, but the combination of cleft lip and palate mean that there’s no separation between nasal passage and the mouth.

The feeding tube is a little irritating for him, and not an ideal feeding mechanism for new parents with no medical background (though it’s not rocket science either). So we’re trying to teach him to use his automatic sucking reaction in combination with us squeezing a bottle of milk to simulate what would happen if his sucking were effective. It seems that getting him feeding more naturally like this is good for his development. And the transition seems to be going well so far!

But enough of the cleft. He’s a much loved little boy with blonde highlights in his hair, an inquisitive gaze (when he’s awake) and of a good weight (8lb 8oz / 3.85kg). He’s brought a lot of joy to Julie and I and to all the grand parents, for whom he’s the first grandchild (by a few months at least).

The main point of this post was to show a couple of photos for those who had been asking. However, as I hadn’t previously mentioned the cleft to everyone I wanted the photos to appear in the context of an explanation. I hope it has interested you a little.

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I’m trying out an application to provide multiple desktops on my PC with a 3D cube effect for navigating between them. It’s called DeskSpace and was introduced to me by Ben Taylor. Have a look at it in action.

It provides six virtual desktops, one for each side of the cube. A short cut key (for me, Windows+Alt) zooms out to see the cube view whereupon the arrow keys or mouse wheel can be used to rotate the cube. Translucency helps you work out which way to rotate to access your applications. You can also ‘throw’ applications through the edge of one desktop to move them over to another, or quickly navigate to a particular application via a system tray icon.

It’s not a new application. It’s been around for a couple of years, in fact, and possibly as a result it seems quite stable. It works with XP and Vista (plus Vista x64).

Ben and I were talking through how it works. It seems to freeze each desktop into a bitmap image at the point you switch desktops, so updates to another desktop are not visible in the cube (unlike Vista’s card deck Windows-Alt feature). There is also occasional task bar application shuffling when shifting to a new desktop, indicating that it might be selectively hiding applications rather than maintaining multiple desktops in the fashion of multi-monitor desktop extensions.

Not sure how much of a memory hog it is – 4GB of memory sort out most issues – but it is reporting a working set of 150MB (not 150K as I previously stated!)

There’s a 30 day trial and then the per-person (yet multi-machine) licence is currently $24.95 US.

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Google Latitude Background Updates

I’ve installed Google Latitude on my HTC Touch HD, which came packaged as a new version of Google Maps, and can now see myself labeled on the map. Hoorah. Now all I need are a view friends with it installed.

One issue I can see, though, is that it does not seem to be updating my location in the background, if the blue dot on the map is anything to go by. I have to make Google Maps the foreground application for it to re-determine my location. Maybe the Android version works better.

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Snowy day in London today. Here’s how our back garden looked as I was debating whether to weather the tube journey. It’s pretty, but the country’s not geared up for it. All the buses are cancelled, as are many train and tube routes.
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ReSharper 4 Released

ReSharper 4 has been released by JetBrains. I blogged about it previous here so I won’t go over lots of old ground. Just as a reminder, this version supports C# 3, including LINQ. Very much recommended as a tool. If you want to try it out then there’s a 30 day free trial. Additionally they’ve started a partner scheme whereby existing licencees (including me) can introduce people to the tool by way of a 60 day trial with discounts to licence costs should those people buy a licence at the end. So get in touch if you want to give it a go.
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ReSharper 4.0 Beta Released

ReSharper is a fantastic add-in to Visual Studio, and the latest revision of it is now available for download as a beta. There’s a 30 day free trial period available, and I really would encourage any C#, VB.NET or ASP.NET programmers to try it out. I could try and convince you with talk of code-time compilation warnings, super intelligent statement completion, refactoring an order of magnitude more featureful than Visual Studio, but in the end the best argument for why you’ll want to buy this product is based on how much more productive you’ll be when you use it.

This next version has the usual batch of new refactorings, but the major story is its support for C#3 and LINQ, with specific refactoring for these.

Here’s the link to the download for the beta: Link to The Most Intelligent Add-In To Visual Studio

If they’re operating the same model as for previous releases then you may well be able to download successive revisions to the tool and restart your 30 day trial each time. With version 1 of the tool I was going for a full three months without paying a thing. I did subsequently purchase it (out of Avanade’s gadget allowance) and I think it has been worth every penny. I reckon you’ll think the same.

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Reporting Services Sysprep Resolution

Reporting Services 2005 was installed on a virtual machine prior to a sysprep. I received errors from http://localhost/Reports and http://localhost/ReportServer that ultimately indicated that it couldn’t connect to the reporting database.

The resolution to this is to run a tool called "rsconfig". In my case, which I suspect is pretty common, the required command was:

rsconfig -c -s localhost -d ReportServer -a Windows

This led to the next issue, which was that Reporting Services was no longer able to "decrypt the symmetric key used to access sensitive or encrypted data in a report server database". I believe this is due to the fact that the public/private key of the virtual machine was changed after sysprep was run. Better practice (I’ll refrain from using ‘best practice’ here, as I’m sure there is a better process) would be to backup the symmetric key using the Reporting Services Configuration Manager before running sysprep, and then restoring it afterwards.

However, I had not backed up the key. So the solution was to use the configuration manager’s "Delete encrypted content" feature on the "Encryption Keys" page, then "Change" the key. This was fine for me to do as I had no schedules or encrypted connection strings in my Reporting Services database.


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The Cheapest And Most Expensive Places To Buy Property – 18 March 2008

This article from the Motley Fool UK analyses property values and rates of increase in the UK, mainly using data from the Halifax and Global Property Guide. It quotes the shocking fact that an "upper end of the market" property in London costs £9,805 per square metre! This is more expensive than New York (£7,919) and Moscow (£7,720).

Link to The Cheapest And Most Expensive Places To Buy Property – 18 March 2008


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