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Hairbrush singing

Hairbrush singing

Selfie music videos

My seven year old daughter, Karla, had two of her older cousins (Tanisha and Kailee) stay over night recently.  They’re all good kids and can keep themselves entertained.

I didn’t think much of it when Karla woke me up early to ask if they could use the good camera to make a video, but I told her just to use her iPad instead.  Working afternoon shift meant I didn’t see the kids that night, but the next day Karla told me that they had made some music videos.

As I’d suggested, Karla had set up her iPad Mini on her bed and filmed the three girls dancing and singing into their hairbrushes with the front facing “selfie” camera.  She wanted me to put the videos onto her YouTube channel, but I had to explain that having full length songs running as the backing soundtrack in a video might have some Copyright issues.  Asking relatives to watch multiple 4 or 5 minute videos might be a bit much too, so I offered to edit the clips into one video.


It’s been a long time since I’ve done any video editing, so I had to work out how I was going to put Karla’s hairbrush singing videos together.  Windows 10 doesn’t have a built in video editor, so I first tried looking for free software that could do the job.  I soon discovered that you get exactly what you pay for when it comes to video editing programmes.  The free software was crap!

I wasn’t going to fork out cash for a professional Adobe editor when this might be a once off project.  Having used Windows Movie Maker in previous editions of Windows, I found an old version but couldn’t get it to install onto my Windows 10 machine.  Then I remembered buying a Nero suite of programmes a few years back.  I even managed to find an old email with my Nero registration key.

Re-downloading, installing and activating the 2015 suite was trouble free.  I now had access to Nero Video Editor!

The video

Re-learning how to edit video wasn’t too hard, but somehow I had imported the clips in preview size, meaning the finished video was less than a quarter of the screen size.  Yep, I’d stuffed up and had to start again!  Never mind, I wasn’t making a feature film, so I imported the full size clips and put them together into the video below.

It’s a bit girly, singing into hairbrushes, but the kids are still young enough to be cute and funny!

2016 Santa Photo

2016 Santa Photo

For sixteen years we’ve been taking the kids to see Santa before Christmas.  When the kids were young, the annual Santa Photo would often include tears, but now it’s a bit of fun.

The oldest, Josh (16 years), did try to convince me that he was too old for a photo with Santa.  I told him when he was 18 he could do his own thing, but for now he is still one of the kids.  Our youngest, Karla (7 years), asked if she could also have a Santa Photo on her own.  Middle child Brad (13 years) just smiled when he was told to.

Ten plus years ago you would have to choose one photo, when nobody blinked and everyone was smiling, to be printed.  These days you can also choose to have every high-resolution photo emailed within minutes of sitting down with Santa.  This means you still have access to each picture when the kids change position, and we have that shot of Karla on her own with Santa.  If you’re the type who shares everything on social media, then those pictures can be shared with the family on Facebook straight away.

This year we happened to have two of the kid’s cousins with us, so it was great we could include them in a group Santa Photo, as well as just the two of them to pass onto their parents.

I still had to agonise over which picture Santa’s helpers would print for us, but having all fifteen photos available in high resolution is great.

Our 2016 Santa Photo also appears on our family website –

OurPact Parental Control app

Our Pact App Store screenshot

OurPact Parental Control app

I recently saw in internet advert for a parental control app, that allowed you to control the smart devices of your children.  Like many families, there can be arguments in our house when the kids should be doing their chores, homework, having dinner or going to bed but they don’t want to stop doing whatever they’re doing.  All three of my kids have iPads, plus the two eldest also have an iPhone, so an app that could remotely disable smart devices sounded like a potentially useful parenting tool.

The app is called OurPact, and is available for iOS or Android.  Our family’s smart devices are all Apple iOS, so that’s the version I decided to try out.  Unfortunately the strict control Apple has over their app eco-system made the job harder for the OurPact developers, and leaves a flaw in the process that is a deal breaker for me.  More on that shortly.

OurPact does exactly as it says it will do.  When the parent chooses, all non standard apps are removed, leaving only the devices default functionality such the phone, camera and SMS messaging.  The parent can set a schedule of times that installed apps are removed, or they can choose the “Until I say so” option.  At the end of the restriction time, all of those apps re-appear on the child’s device.

The real beauty of OurPact, is not the control it gives a parent over their child’s device, it’s the conversation it stimulates about responsible screen time.  It’s just as well, because my two eldest son’s only took a few minutes to disable the Remote Managment of their devices.  Yes, the kids can simply go into their iOS settings and turn this off!  The developers address this issue in their response to customer feedback; “Unfortunately, due to iOS restrictions, we are limited in our ability to prevent profile removal. We do notify parents within the app when child profiles are tampered with…”. 

Another concern I have, is that Our Pact is a free app.  There is no advertising shown within the app, so how do the developers make their money?  You have to agree to various permissions to grant remote access to the child’s smart device.  I cant help but wonder if those permissions also allow unscrupulous activities.  Just sayin.

In summary, the OurPact app is only an effective physical tool to control iOS devices of younger children who aren’t familiar with accessing their device’s Settings.  I’ve gone back to having a conversation with my kids about how much phone and iPad time they have, even if we have that conversation over and over again and then threaten to turn off the wifi.

Our Pact screenshot from the parent's device.

OurPact screenshot from the parent’s device.

Removing the Our Pact Remote Management within iOS Settings

Removing OurPact Remote Management within iOS Settings.

Our Pact alerts, Device Not Managed

OurPact alerts when the Remote Management of the child’s device is turned off in Settings.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check out the OurPact website for your self, or find the app in the Apple App store.

Under 13 footy

2016 Pakenham Under 13 Grand Final

Under 13 footy

For the past two years I’ve been the Team Manager of my son’s junior Aussie Rules football team.  This year was Under 13s, and we actually ended up with a great group of boys that won most of their games and made it through to the Grand Final.  Unfortunately we didn’t get the win, but everyone is really proud of how hard they fought, the sportsmanship they showed and the way the conducted themselves on and off the field.

Sometimes being involved with junior footy can be frustrating.  Getting the kids to show up to training when its pouring rain, finding volunteer parents to help with the various game day roles, players going on family holidays mid season, and many other challenges, can make getting a team on the field interesting to say the least.

The rewards of junior footy, like most kids sports, is seeing them having fun and being active with their mates.  For our boys, seeing them graciously congratulate the winning players and proudly accepting their Runners-Up medals made the season worthwhile.

Well done boys!  Lets hope we can go one better in the Under 14s next year.

Runners Up Medal 2016 Pakenham Under 13 Grand Final

Runners Up Medal – Under 13 Grand Final