blenderconf 2017 

So I’ve been at the amazing blender conference this week. It’s been amazing. I’ve wanted to go since they first started, but it’s always been too expensive, or I’ve been off on a ship, or whatever

A few months ago I submitted somewhat on the off-chance a talk idea about our current Puppets Project in blender, and it was accepted, and so I got to speak!

And feeling somewhat pumped after the event, I decided to make a few blender tutorials too. So here’s the first one:

I’m really enjoying getting back into blender again. It’s fantastic.


We interrupt this series… 

Since we’re only on the ship for a few more days (!), I thought I’d post a few photos.


It was a friend’s birthday, and so various people filled his office with balloons.  David already loves coming to visit him (Tommy), and this visit was even more fun.


Prayer night on board.  They’d decided for a “gather around the fire” kind of set up, the evening being led by the Africans on board, so I added a few lighting touches to make it feel even more campfireish.


This is the new lighting control system.  We’ve got rid of the old, difficult-to-teach, increasingly flaky Zero88 LeapFrog Desk, and put in place a computer, with a USB->DMX interface.  The software we’re using is free, called “QLC+”.  It’s got a few bugs, but is *incredibly* much more easy to teach people, and allows us to do cool things like play music from the software, with lighting cues at specific times in the music, make the moving-head lights bounce around in time, etc.  Cool cool stuff.


David enjoys playing table tennis with us.lifejacket-smaller

Muster drill today, David got all dressed up in his lifejacket, and looked stunningly cute, in a marine kind of way.  He had fun, anyway.


This is a project I’ve wanted to do for a while.  The equipment in this office is “AVC” (Audio-Visual Central), and the main hub for all the AV routing around the ship (sending video & audio to the dining room so people can listen to devotions while finishing breakfast, for instance.  Or displaying big programs in the theatre in the Logos Lounge as well as an over-flow venue, or as a place for ship’s company to watch, etc. etc.).

Anyway,  This whole wall of racking is quite a mess.  This office used to be the IT office, and backs on to the server room.  Things have changed now, and it’s the on-shore-events team who work here, so having 19 inch racking makes no sense.  And they need more storage space, and the IT folks need more storage space too.

So I suggested (about 2 months ago) moving the AV equipment into the far left rack, and then turning the other 3 racks into cupboards facing both ways, with plenty of space for the IT guys in the server room, and plenty for the on-shore teams in this office.  Nothing came of my suggestion, so I thought, “oh well, the carpenters are too busy.  whatever”.  But now they’ve got a couple of enthusiastic project workers on the job, and everyone’s quite excited about how much more space they’re going to get.

[rack_back-smaller][7]Although I’m wondering if I was mad to suggest this project, as it does mean quite a lot of moving cables and equipment around…. I hope I don’t break anything.  I want to do this while I’m here though still, as none of the A/V team have any experience doing racks/patchpanels/routers/install type stuff.

It seems really odd that we’re going to be leaving in less than a week.  Hard (in some ways) to think we’ve been here 3 months.  In some ways it seems like a lot more, and in some ways it feels like we’ve barely arrived.



At sea! 

We’re sailing again!


It’s so lovely being back at sea, and David seems to quite like it too.  He actually slept right the way through the night the first night!  Amazing… (If only he’d do it again…)

AV work is going reasonably well.  We’re doiteamng loads of training, as much as possible, but still trying to get everything working again too.  It’s really hard trying to arrange work for people to do, who know nothing about A/V at all, and may not have even touched a sound, lighting, or video console before joining the team.  Still, they’re all great people, and we’re having a lot of fun.


fanroomOne very frustrating thing was that I had to fix the Deck 4 music and paging system.  For whatever historical reason, that’s part of A/V’s responsibility, rather than the electricians.  The rack is located in a loud noisy fanroom, full of dust and grime.


wiresThe rack isn’t very accessible, and getting in to the wires is really really awkward and scrapey.


It’s not massively well documented (another task on my list…), and I think several people had tried to fix it recently, so all the settings were messed up.  In the end, I pulled out the entire system, took it down to our storeroom to clean and test and set up, and then brought it back and plugged it in.  It all worked!  Which was great.  It just then took ages of walking around with the team getting them to tell me which zones were connected and had the right volumes, and so on.  Not fun, and as it needs to be working before we arrive in the next port, it meant I had to do that for 4 days rather than work on any of our venues. Grrr…

The new portable ‘fender’ sound systems that we bought are a huge success.  They work really well.  I asked one of the new A/V team to paint ‘Logos Hope A/V’ on the side of them all so that they don’t get lost, or apprehended into some other department.  I was expecting something ugly but functional.  Instead I got this:


Really cool!

Anyway, to end this post, here’s a photo of David from when we took him to the kids water zone at the mall in Singapore.  Wet as a fish, a nappy as wet as he, and as Becky puts it, “Happy as Larry”. (Whoever Larry is…)



Off day. 

We just had a pretty awesome day off.  We woke up pretty late.  Well, that is to say David woke up very early, and we were too tired to try and persuade him to sleep in his cot again, so he came to join us in bed for a couple more hours.  Eventually we all got up, and had a bit of breakfast.

I then went to the galley to get some supplies (icing sugar, cocoa powder, carrots, pears, and dry pasta) for us to make cakes for some of our ‘ship family’ birthdays coming up, the rest for making food for David.  You can guess which ingredients are for which activity.

I then took David to run around and play in the Logos Lounge, while Becky did some laundry.  We then had lunch, and then (finally) got around to giving David his first toothbrush, and first teeth brushing!

brush-teeth-2 We next headed out by MRT to the Singapore Botanical Gardens.  It was lovely – really peaceful and green, but extremely well paved and buggy friendly.  We found a somewhat random statue of Chopin,

chopinwe managed to prop up the camera on the buggy for a family photo too:

familyDavid wasn’t totally convinced by all the shots, though:

kissWe spent a few hours there, and headed back.  We bought a couple of extra bits from the supermarket, and got back just in time for dinner.  On the way through the mall, Mini were giving out free balloons – so David got his first balloon as well!


At Dinner, our friend Maria, one of the new AV team, came and sat at our table and said, “So, we’re playing settlers tonight, right?”

So we went up to the cabin, and had a lovely game of Settlers of Catan!  David loved it, and for some reason went in to giggles almost every time Maria rolled the dice for the first half of the game!  Funny boy.

settlers-babyWe finished the game – Becky won, with 10 points (short game), by stealing the longest road from me and Maria would have won on her turn, again, by stealing my longest road.  We were just about to pack away, when Becky looked really puzzled, and realised that I should have won the previous round, as I also had 10 points (I’d forgotten about a hidden victory point)!

So.  Quite even.


A good day.



Cleaning and Settling in. 

So we’ve been here almost 2 weeks now. It seems to have passed extremely quickly. The AV team have been hard at work, cleaning, installing, cleaning, Cleaning the AV Storetesting, cleaning, training, and cleaning. I’ll try and post some more photos of the new equipment and nerdy stuff like that soon. But for now – here’s a photo of the 3 new recruits down in the AV store room cleaning it out. There’s a couple of tank man-holes in the store room, so often during dry-dock deck teams go in through there to work in the tank, and so everything gets covered in dust and grime. It would be nice if they told us in advance so we could get stuff out of their way and protected… but more of that another time.

So. That proves we’re actually working, (or at least that I’m making other people work – which is basically the same thing) now for some more fun photos.

me-and-babyWe’re all settling in. David is loving all the attention and stuff going on all the time. It’s lovely being able to eat with my family every day at basically every meal at the moment. Becky is finding it a bit odd, and lonely at the moment, as she didn’t really know many of the other mums, or what things there are to do. She misses cornerstone and the community there. Things are starting to pick up though.


Playing with David is always fun – we’ve been leant loads of toys for him to play with, which is pretty cool. He’s always so active, and wanting to run around. He loves this walker, and spends plenty of time just coasting around the chairs too.

walker-ownHe’s such a happy baby most of the time. The two things he hates are sleeping, and ending a meal. No matter how much he’s eaten, he’s always sad when we stop feeding him and wipe his face. I wonder if he’ll be a chef one day…

Oh. And since some toys are magnetic, and we have a metal deck-head in our cabin (ceiling)…




Hello, WordPress, hello Logos Hope 

I use WordPress at work, it’s the engine behind, and most of the other sites that we run for clients.

I’m in two minds as to whether I like it or not. Some things are great. For users (content authors, the people writing blog posts or static pages), it’s fine. Easy to understand and use. For writing plugins and templates, it’s… Well, kind of messy and ugly, but doable. For instance, rather than have 1 HTML template “base” file, with a block saying, “put posts here, and wrap each one in x,y,z”, you have a header.php which has only the start of all the HTML, and a footer.php which closes it all, and a content.php, a content-post.php, and so on, and you have to keep them all synced up. Also, since it’s designed for running on old PHP, it doesn’t use namespaces or other ways of keeping code clean, so all functions in all plugins and all templates are all global scope, so to avoid bumping in to each other, you have to name all your functions stuff like, “madprofs_teapot_plugin_get_resource() and similar. Then at the same time, WordPress has multiple global functions of its own, some called things like, the_post(), others like wp_get_cached(), (so prefixed with wp_), and others in other styles. Messy.

Still, it gets the job done.

So when I wanted to update and clean up the [email protected] blog, I thought I’d just stick with blogger. It works, it’s what I already had. But then, accidentally, while trying to update it, I lost the entire design, and putting it back together was this awful mess of Google-XML/HTML confusion, I thought, “you know, stuff it, I’ll just use WordPress.” So I span up a site on the server (in about 2 minutes), pointed the blogger importer at, let it chug away for a few minutes, and here we are.

I’m just using a very simple built in design for now, (with my own background), but it seems to work. I now don’t have to worry about Google turning off blogger like they did with Reader and GoogleCode, and since I use WordPress at work, I understand what’s going on pretty well.

That all said, we’re now on the ship, trying to settle in. We have a really nice cabin. Jet lag wasn’t fun, especially with the baby, but we’ll get through it. Yesterday Becky drank a big milky drink by accident – we thought it wasn’t cows milk but plant based, and last night and tonight David has been awful – screaming for ages and refusing to be comforted or to sleep lying down in his bed. So that does seem to confirm that maybe it is a lactose intolerance at the moment – hopefully he’s back to normal in a day or so.

Work so far is just cleaning the various venues. We’ve not even begun to start installing new equipment or doing anything really technical. We’ve got the lights out of their bags and air-blasted them all, cleaned many surfaces and TVs and vacuumed and dusted. It’s going alright. Still sooo much to do.

For Becky and David things are a bit odd still, it’s quite odd not having a fixed job to do, not knowing what to do most of the day, not having cornerstone to visit, not really knowing many people yet, and so on.

Anyway, we’re here, the flights weren’t bad at all. We couldn’t check in online due to some weird computer bug, but at the terminal while we were checking in we asked about getting a bassinet for David to sleep in, and they said they could get us one, but the lady recommended us instead to not get one, as he is quite big, and had a seat booked, and instead found us a row of four seats with no one else on the row, so we could make a bed for David there, which gave us all a lot more room. So on the second flight, both mother and baby could actually lie down and get some proper sleep, and arrive not looking like zombies.

I now have this weird mental image, after that last sentence, of a zombie “madonna and child” (very un-)orthodox icon…

That aside, we’re here!


It’s been a while. 

So. It’s been a while, blog.

9 months ago our son was born, and he kind of took priority over writing.  I’m sure you understand.

Anyway, the reason for this post is that once again, the brummie will soon be at sea! This time with Mrs. Brummie, and Baby Cumbrian.  I don’t know if Becky will object to being Mrs. Brummie, as she’s actually from Yorkshire, but whatever.

So we’re heading out to the Logos Hope again for 3 months.

Becky and I were on board for 3 months just over 2 years ago, helping with the A/V and Events teams after the 6 months dry-dock in Subic Bay.  This time, the ship has just come out of several months in dry-dock again, this time having the generators replaced.

I’ll be working with the A/V team again, doing training and helping getting everything back on track and working again.  We’ve bought some new equipment, as most of what’s there now is from the original install 6+ years ago, and is in need of some serious overhaulage.

During the Subic Bay drydock 2 years ago, none of the A/V gear was packed away properly, which is part of why everything is in such bad condition now.  At least now, since then, it’s become part of A/V culture to do a serious pack down at the start of every dry-dock.  All of the lights on the truss get plastic bagged, all of the lighting dimmers get unplugged and tagged out, the desks get bagged and covered, etc.

In some ways, I’m extremely excited about going back again.  For the last couple of years I’ve ended up doing more and more I.T. work here, making and maintaining websites for,,,, and [][5], as well as a few internal projects (including stuff-management and streetsign).  It’s kind of interesting, some days, but also pretty frustrating too.  I feel I’m more of a creative ideas person, rather than a server-maintenance guy, so the initial creation of websites or programming projects is kind of fun, the on-going maintenanace and bug-fixing drives me to despair (not to mention having to work in PHP with WordPress…).

I love the ship’s work, I love doing events (especially the school visits and other kids events and actual theatre type events), and am quite excited about not having to do I.T. stuff here for a while.

It’s really strange to think that when we get back from the Logos Hope in 3 months time, it’ll be 10 years since I started this blog, when I first went to Doulos for 3 months….

Anyway, time for dinner, and I need to go play with our son.  I’ll try and post something a lot more regularly this time.  Writing is theraputic, and I suspect I’m going to need it…



“Matthew’s Blog” 

For the last few months, some friends and I have been working in our spare time on a 12 part video series, “Matthew’s Blog” – a video blog from the point of view of the Apostle Matthew (although he doesn’t know it yet).

He starts off as a young, arrogant tax officer, which is where we meet him in the first Episode:

I hope you enjoy!  Please join us as it leads up to the climax at Easter this year on [][1] !



Super fast review of the past few months. 

Foolishly, perhaps, we thought this year would be a quiet one.
A couple months on the ship at the start, then back in the UK until August, Teenstreet in Germany, and then back home for the rest of the year.

There’s a quote regarding the fallibility of apparently structurally sound plans of humans and rodents which might be appropriate around here.

When we finished our time on Logos Hope, we were in Bangkok.  Our organisation was holding a conference there at that time, so we helped out with the A/V techie arrangements for that.  When that was over, Becky headed home to Carlisle, and I went North for a week or so as cameraman, filming and visiting with one of our teams in the region.

After I got back two weeks later to the UK, We had a couple of weeks ‘normal work’, before I had to go to Ireland to run sound for an Event in Cork, as one of our other Sound Engineers needed to go back to Korea for surgery.

After getting back to Carlisle, we had about two weeks before we’d scheduled a couple of weeks in Cyprus, to take the Christmas break we’d missed on the ship, and take some time off, in lieu.

Two days before we were due to leave Cyprus, my Grandmother in Birmingham passed away, quite suddenly – although not totally unexpectedly – and so we returned to the UK with my parents and brother for her funeral.

We were then in back to Carlisle for a few weeks, before travelling over to Germany for Teenstreet.

While we were at Teenstreet, the arrangments came together for a filming project my Dad has been planning for a while in Cyprus, so instead of coming back to the UK, we headed over to Cyprus again to help with that, myself doing the sound recording and Becky the shoot documenting and general assisting.

We’ve since been back in the UK for just about three weeks, and so wondering what’s going to happen next.

Right now we have our friend Ant, staying with us, and he inspired me to start blogging again.  This may not be the most exciting post in the world, but it at least starts to cover the great gap of the last several months.

You should check Ant’s Thoughts About Job.



With a post title like that, I kind of want to write a long piece about how we put people in boxes, or false expectations, or something.  But alas, the subject is somewhat more prosaic.  Actually, it’s not prosaic at all.  It’s kind of boring, actually.  Prose rather implies some kind of textual content, I feel, which this post doesn’t really have.


I’ve been making labels for things.
Perhaps it will make them feel more judged and unloved.
Perhaps it will simply make things easier for new AV operators to understand…