Friday, 9 March 2018

Adoption Story - Reunion after 57 years. 3/2 - Other FAQ and advice.

Just a round up of other FAQs arising.

Where can I read more ?  Adoptions prior to 1975 had different rules than after 1975. Major reforms in this area of law occurred in December 2005.  See Adoption information search information here. Excellent page with lots of information from 

Where is the official uk contact register ? The UK passport office hold the adoption contact register for parents, sibling and adoptees who which to contact or not contact birth relatives. The PO runs a passive contact register and does not do active searches.  Some online sites offer this service as well but I have not explored or offer advice on them. See also the UK General Register office - for official birth/marriage/death records.

Where can I get advice ? Many UK local councils have adoption services with an adult section. These are probably under-funded and very busy but they do have a stature duty to provide contact counselling for pre 1975 adoptees.

Should I contact my birth relatives ?   No one can make that decision except you. This is one of life's difficult one-way choices. When you feel emotionally stable and mature enough to cope with the many possible outcomes (good and bad), make the decision like a grown up. Deciding not to search is a reasonable choice for many folks.

How do I contact my newly discovered blood relatives ? Use care and diplomacy and don't assume that you know the whole situation or what they may think or know about the adoption situation. If possible contact birth parents before siblings.  Think of all the possible reactions you might get of you sent a txt "Hi am your long lost brother." and don't do it that way.  Starting out with a "Can we talk about some mutual family history that has been discovered around the date xxxxxxxx. ? " is a better way. This is delicate, you don't have to do it yourself, ask a trained family councillor to assist.

What relationship can I expect with my birth relatives ?  Ask first "How well do you get along with current friends and family ?"  Building relationships is about mutual support and investment of time and effort. A genetic relationship does not change that. Over time, with long periods of no contact, perceptions and memories of events and motivations for those events can change.

When shall I tell my child they are adopted or have difference birth parents than us ?
From my story at adoption time my Mum asked "When would be a good time to tell the kids that they are adopted ? ” The Nurse in charge of adoptions said “Take them home, put them on your knee, tell them they were adopted and how special that makes them.” This works both ways by normalising the story and removing the need for a big reveal at what can be a difficult time. Retelling the story helps child and Mums & Dads to normalise the story.

Warning : This area is fraught with emotional potholes and historical welfare issues:
Contrast this :

The Salvation Army (Canada) says it is conducting an internal review into its historic maternity homes, just as a retired Calgary judge — who was once a high-ranking child welfare worker in the city — has come forward and corroborated some of the claims mothers have recently made about coercive adoption practices directed at unmarried mothers decades ago.   from National Post of Canada

with this kind offer

The Family Tracing Service is here to support people who are looking for family members. It is never too late to find a loved one, so get in contact with us and we can help you with your search. From Salvation Army UK website

attitudes and behaviours of both people and organisation change over time.

Adoption Story - Reunion after 57 years. 2/2

Reflections on 28 Feb 2018 a week after the trip.

So how did the trip go ?

Amazingly well. It was a bit of a whirlwind tour meeting birth mum (Mauri), aunt and niece along with seven out of the eight brothers and sisters.  

How did the Journey go ?

Landing first in Las Vegas we were met with big hugs from Mauri and sister Krystal. Within a day we had also met sister Norah and Sarah P and Aunt Sarah. First night we did the Las Vegas thing, eating at a large Casino resort buffet. Sister Norah then took Alice and I out to the Valley of Fire state park to see the stunning scenery.  We also visited the Las Vegas mob Museum but did not find any more of our family there. Family dinner at Sarah Ps house topped off the day.

A short flight took us to a windy and cold San Francisco, where just north of the city we met with brother Jeremy and Paul at their tie-dye clothing businesses work place.   We tried our hands at making our own tie-dye which seemed to come out great and certainly takes more skill and technique than I imagined. Dinner that evening at the brothers house helped explore their Californian life style.

Next day a short road trip took us to Sacramento to meet with oldest sister Kim, husband Mike and nephew Derek. They had they had kindly put us up in a local hotel overnight and we all went out to a hearty dinner at the Roadhouse. {I knew we would get on as soon as I saw the DVD of Serenity & Firefly on the shelf.}  We did get on really well, Alice having a lot in common with Kim who runs a mineral powder make up business.

The next day saw us whizzing to the airport just in time for a flight to the furthest stop on the tour, Tucson.  Unfortunately darling daughter managed to pick up a cold and it was unusually raining in Tucson. At this point we had to change the tour motto from “The British are coming.” to “The British weather is coming”.  Brother Josh and Sally were very hospitable and looked after us over a couple of nights. Josh and I got out for mountain bike ride and after dinner drinks in town with friends to watch the Arizona local derby basketball match at a downtown bar.  A visit to a large aircraft museum on the way back to the airport filled in the last morning.  Josh and I have the most in common career wise as he runs a large software technology business  

The short flight from Tucson took us back to Las Vegas. The next day was “The Dam Dog day” where we went to see sister Norah run her agility dog Cider followed by a trip to Hover dam with Krystal.  Coincidently Daughter Alice has been doing dog agility with her poodle Mr. Biggles for the last couple of years.  A visit to the Las Vegas strip with Krystal gave us the inside stories behind the sparkles. The evening topped off seeing the fabulous Cirque du Soleil Beatles show "Love" at Majestic casino.

There was a difficult decision on the penultimate day - go shopping with Alice and the sisters or drive out to the nearby Blue Diamond town and hire a mountain bike and ride off into the desert.  That decision took less than a nano-second.  Instead of huffing and puffing like a stranded whale outside the shops waiting for the girls to appear, I huffed and puffed up the desert hills.  After a quick dinner later that evening we all went to see “Black Panther” at one of the larger Las Vegas cinemas. 

The final day was packing and getting to the airport for the return journey. The family was so welcoming and generous that, despite offloading loads of Early Grey tea, Marmite and Lint chocolate Bunnies, we needed an extra suitcase on the return trip that brought us back to Newquay on a cold February morning. 


That Google search was one from where there was no return and our family landscape has really changed for the better.  { This certainly is the family extension jackpot. }  I have some wicked new tie-dye clothes and a couple of business ideas to develop. Meeting Birth Mum Mauri and all those brother and sisters & aunt was a great adventure that because of their friendliness completely exceeded all we could hope for.  They have promised return visits but hopefully not all arriving at once.

From a technology point of view - if folks don't feel comfortable to post detailed blogs and pages magic search results like this won't happen. 

Listen to more on BBC Radio 4 - Saturday Live 10 March 2018

Adoption Story - Reunion after 57 years. 1/2

In early February 2018, my daughter, and I traveled to the USA to meet our recently discovered, extended family. This is the story.

57 years ago I was adopted by my mum and dad, Norman and Lily “Pat". Adoption was never a big thing as I’ve always known my sister and I were adopted. There had been no surprises in that area. At adoption time Mum asked "When would be a good time to tell the kids that they are adopted ? ” The Nurse in charge of adoptions said “Take them home, put them on your knee, tell them they were adopted and how special that makes them.”  I was chosen by mum and dad and brought up by them as their very own child.  { Retelling helps mum and dad to normalise the story. }

I have since learned that my birth mother only knew two things about my adoption, besides it being the very last thing in the world that she wanted.  The parents adopting her son had adopted a little girl a couple of years before me, and they were being allowed to adopt another child. To her that meant they were doing a good job and likely to give her son a good home where she could not.  When she waited in the Adoption office for the Sister in charge to take her son to his new parents, there was a file laying open on the desk.  The name on the file was my surname.  She filed it away as a piece of disconnected information. Over the years she held the hope in her heart that, eventually, her son would look for her...and, just in case he did, she had scattered a few electronic breadcrumbs for him to find...and kept her own birth name. As she had lived in Canada and the USA since I was born, she says reunion was rather a forlorn hope...

I had never been particularly curious about my genetic background but these days, in medical terms, genetic heritage is very important. A few years ago my big sister Jayne, took several months through official channels to discover her birth mum.  With further prompting from daughter Alice and darling wife Jenny, with a fresh mug of coffee, I embarked on my family research. The starting paperwork was the court adoption certificate that showed my original name, place and date of birth, along with my post adoption name. I put my original name, date and place of birth into Google, hit 'return' and immediately found what appeared be my birth family.  Using the official route of £10 via the UK passport office to obtain my pre-adoption birth certificate confirmed the research, and provided my birth mother's name.   { Between Tuesday 10:00 and 10:10, coffee still warm, my whole familly landscape changed. }

The Google search had turned up my birth mum's website, with a page she had set up prior to going to  work in Saudi Arabia for 6 months in Spring 2011, thinking it was easier to point people to the page, rather than to try to explain her rather large, extended family.  The page listed my birth mum's other children and my aunts and my nieces and nephews. The siblings all had their numbers with their names... "2", "3", etc.  This was going to be a big family extension.

The blog was so touching, included with the list of her children was an entry describing how her first born had been adopted away at 3 months. Right there was the matching birth name, place and date. And I was listed as “1”.  Making contact with long lost relatives can be a delicate occasion, but the blog entries reassured me that there was no secrecy around the adopted child { in that family}

Reaching out via email eventually led to "friending" my birth mum on Facebook and then to Messenger contact with her and the rest of her side of the family.  Over the next few weeks, lots of email and pictures were exchanged. Turns out I have a lot of family in the USA southwest: 3 sisters in Las Vegas, Nevada, and one in Sacramento, CA, and 3 brothers in San Francisco, CA and one in Tucson, Arizona as well as two aunts and 10 nieces and nephews...and a whole lot of new Facebook friends.

February 2018 visit to the USA will be the family reunions 57 years in the making. Getting to meet my new, extended family is going to be a big, exciting journey. Facebook may show someone's activities, but only meeting in real life can allow you to get to know them 'up close and personal’. 

Journalists will always ask “.. and how does that make you feel ?”  For Mauri (my birth mum), she tells me this is a joyous, life-changing event that resolves a long-standing area of loss and uncertainty. For me, it’s a new family thing to which I am adjusting.  Soon Alice and I will visit everyone.  It’s going to be emotional; it’s going to be fun; and it’s not going to be like any other journey, ever ! 

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Technical Problem to solve - "Blockfinder".

I have a technical problem that needs to be solved as part of a larger project that has been in the works for a while. Code development needed.


From a given set of tiles build a 2 x 4 block of 8 that have matching edges.

After encoding each tile pattern as four characters. A different 2 x 4 layout (not same as above) can be shown as:

On the top row the tiles join with keys K,G,G. Between the two rows of tiles joining keys are G,R,R,P. Between the bottom row of tiles the joining keys are R,G,G. In the centre of each tile is a description :

[ TileNumber r n ]   # n is rotation between 0..3

Which represents the tile number and rotation in the layout. The dot in the corner of each tile confirms the rotational layout between zero and three.  This layout would be summarised as 



1) tile.txt file describes a set of tiles each wit4 sides. On each of four sides (north, south, east, west) is a key character/number. Tiles are to be assembled into a 2 x 4 layout where the side edge keys match. 

Sample tile.txt file :

#Tiles with Corner colours type Normalised ns we base rotation 28 Mar 13, 
#TileNumber,North,East,South,West,Tyle Type,Normalised,NS pairs,WE pairs,Base roatation
                          | Base rotation needed to put edge sides downwards
                    ----- EW pair ( duplicate information ) 
              ----- NS pair ( duplicate information ) 
            - number of tile when each tile type starts at 1 
          - tile type i=interior, e=edge, c=corner
  N E S W - edge keys 1=a,2=b,7=g,8=h .. etc
N - tile number

Colour key 0 = outside edge of puzzle. Each edge tile will have one 0 edge, each corner tile has 2 of 0 sides.

2) A textfile that contains one Hex number on each line.
Each line is a Hex value that has 8 bits set within a 40bit value (for a 40 tile deck).  Max Deck size is currently 64 but may go up to 256 in a future project. 

EG: A textfile will look like these lines ( order is not important )


The set bits in the number represent the number of the tile in the tile file that is to be used in the (Block 8 tiles ) B8 layout. Hex to binary conversion shows the tiles for this sample ....

$ bc -l
bc 1.06
ibase=16   # << set hex input
obase=2    # << set binary output
C          # << input test number
1100       # << result
1242408300 # << actual hex number
1001001000010010000001000001100000000   #<< binary result

Rightmost bit is counted as "1" to match tile number 1 in the tile file.
<< MSB --------                       ----- LSB >
40   36   32   28   24   20   16   12   8    4  1  << bit number
|    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |  
...1 ..1. .1.. ..1. .1.. .... 1... ..11 .... ....  << Extracted bits
...| ..|. .|.. ..|. .|.. .... |... ..|| .... ....
0001 0010 0100 0010 0100 0000 1000 0011 0000 0000  << Binary number
   1    2    4    2    4    0    8    3    0    0  << Hex digits 1 for each 4 bits                                                                                

Tiles in sample 0x1242408300  layout would be 

9, 10, 16, 23, 26, 31, 34, 37

3) A clue string is provided in the format "aaaa/bbbb/ccdd" which represents the edge keys on the top most unmatched edge, bottommost unmatched edge and the two shorter sides. For the layout and above the clue string would be :

When a B8 tile layout and its rotations are found the clue string is checked to ensure that the outer boundary keys match the clue string. Layouts that correctly represent a B8 but fail the clue string should be reported.  All the lines should have at least one layout that matches the clue string.

Find a B8 layout of tiles for each hex number in the textfile.

A B8 layouts is reported using the following single line notation.  A layout and other possible outcomes would be reported as: 

B8:0x1242408360:Fail Too many bits
B8:0x1242408b08:Fail No layout found
B8:0x1242408b08:Fail Clue string mismatch: T13R2,T15R3,T7R3,.....

Outline size of task

Arrange and rotate 8 tiles to find layout which has inner edge matches and outer face matches with a clue string.

Given eight tiles there are 
8*7*6*5*4*3*2*1  = 8! = 40,320 possible tile layout orders.

Each tile can have 4 possible rotations leading to 
4*4*4*4*4*4*4*4 = 4^8 = 65,536 different sets of rotations

Multiplying rotations and layout orders there are :
2,642,411,520 possible ways of organising eight tiles.

Time for 2.6 billion simple loops in Perl and c++
$ time perl -e 'foreach(1..40320){ foreach (1..65536) {$t+=1}};print"t=$t\n";'
real 2m35.544s
user 2m35.265s
sys 0m0.165s

$# Same loops coded in c++ run in about 4% of the time.
$ make cpptime ; time cpptime
c++     cpptime.cpp   -o cpptime
real 0m5.930s

user 0m5.913s

Not all of these need to be tested as tiles can be checked against their neighbours before rotations in place are attempted. If a tile has none of the same edge keys as its neighbour then they would never work next to each other in the same layout. A logical test can be constructed to see if any 8 tile layout is likely to actually work before rotations are applied.


There are two distinct stages to this problem. First is to find out specific layouts of cards that could possibly join together, and secondly to find the rotations that fit any given layout into a solution.
If possible layouts are generated in standard permutation fashion as follows:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8  
1 2 3 4 5 6 8 7  
1 2 3 4 5 7 6 8  
1 2 3 4 5 7 8 6  

A test can be performed to see if cards 1 & 2 can possibly match, if not then the next 5041 layouts starting 1 2 can be discarded as well as the 720 after that that start 2 1.  Similarly for columns 2 and 3, large jumps of 720 rows can be made down the rows of permutations without having to test a layout in depth.

Column - Number of rows with the same number in the that column.
[1] - 5040 
[2] - 720
[3] - 121
[4] - 24
[5] - 6
[6] - 1
[7] - 1

As can be seen the first row that starts 2 1 is on row 5041.
Number    Perm order

Technology to be used

  • Perl and/or c++
  • Multi-tasking via threads, openMP or standard libraries encouraged 8 or 12 way processors available.
  • 8GB memory, 5TB HDD and/or 250GB SSD.
  • Typical time to solution 0.01 second or better per layout.
  • Any c++ should be "standards compliant" and self contained at src level and (highly desirable) to be adjustable to work on W10 or Mac or Ubuntu.
  • Code should be structured so that it can be trivially built into a larger program or as stand alone utility.

    Tuesday, 21 November 2017

    The warning and the fail, ICO investor cash vanishes.

    Investing in new areas of complex technology is perilous even for serious knowledgeable investors. A recent round of crypto currency launches known as ICO initial coin offerings caused the UK financial conduct authority to issue this warning.
    The term ICO refers to a digital way of raising funds from the public using a virtual currency, also known as cryptocurrency. An ICO can also be known as ‘token sale’ or ‘coin sale’.
    ICO issuers accept a cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin or Ether, in exchange for a proprietary ‘coin’ or ‘token’ that is related to a specific firm or project. ICOs vary widely in design. The digital token issued may represent a share in a firm, a prepayment voucher for future services or in some cases offer no discernible value at all. Often ICO projects are in a very early stage of development.
    ICOs are very high-risk, speculative investments.
    From : Financial conduct authority announcement

    No sooner said than done. 
    Confido tokens had a market cap of $10 million last week, before the company disappeared, but now the tokens are worthless. And investors are crying foul.
    Apparently the company pulled the shutters down by deleting all their social media accounts and leaving their backend administrators "Tokenlot" holding the empty bucket. A disappointing state of affairs but such occasional events are unsurprising considering the wild west frontier that underlines underlies bitcoin and similar technologies. Previously stories of stolen millions, closed exchanges and lack of global regulation also dent confidence in this in emerging technology.

    Personally I like my investments, transparent, regulated and income producing.

    Update : 21 Nov 2017 31 Million $ lifted from Bitcoin operator Tether

    See this Hufpost article for information re this complex area. 

    Facebook Meem nails this. From Programming Jokes group.

    Friday, 17 November 2017

    Excellent series for the STEMM enthusiast

    This excellently produced series of books, branded under the Sterling Milestones banner follows a consistent format. Each book contains 250 individual ideas encapsulated in a picture and a page of text. Organised in roughly time order each book expands the core ideas and discoveries in a STEMM related field.  

    My personal favourite is The Space Book which starts with the big bang, rolling through early discoveries of the planets and calendars towards current activities in space and onwards to how the universe will end. Full of facts and contextual pictures this book really brings alive that unique combination of engineering and exploration which is the discovery and exploration of outer space.

    Each book starts with an introduction to the field and finishes with a comprehensive index, Notes and further reading followed by photos credits. Most are offered by Chris Pickover but other authors have some of the titles.

    For more details Sterling milestones books 

    Is available via Amazon or ABEbooks as usual.

    Friday, 10 November 2017

    Some of our favourite software died today

    Today 10th Nov 2017 the house iMac was upgraded to OSx 10.11 El Captain having happily run on OSx 10.6 Snow Leopard since in in 2009.   Snow Leopard was the last version of Mac OSx that would run PowerPC code ( in emulation mode) so this lays to rest QuarkXPress version 6.5 that was the last vestiges of DTP software used for the other halfs' typesetting business.  Purchased as box software many, many years ago Quark has provided good service but is no longer required. Running OS that is over five years old, that no longer get security updates, is also a bit of risk. Also expiring was the last free version of Mac the Ripper DVD content extraction tool. I have to admire Apple by making it so easy and smooth to do an OS upgrade effectively jumps forward five operating system releases in one go.

    The smaller handheld Apple devices upgraded to the latest version of IOS 11.0 recently and this has obsoleted early Apps. My favourite APP was ConvertBot, a little gadget that converted numbers between different units. The software was so well designed and looked so slick that for me it became an early demonstrator for Apple's approach to building a software ecosystem. Many other Apps that have not been updated in the last year or few will also have expired and become unusable. More information here.