A bit of a pain …


It’s been one of those annoying days with my tech. It started, or at least I first noticed it today, when I was working my way through some news items on MSN News. I mostly use the Google Chrome browser these days, as it tends to be just the first one I select and I’m used to it. I’m not keen on he MS Edge browser and Firefox seems to getting far too bloated. Opera would be my second choice, but I’m digressing.

So, there was one item that was about someone trying to do wheelies on a motorbility scooter, that looked to be quite funny. But unusually, there was no ‘play’ button on the video. I thought it must be an error when it Resetwas uploaded and moved onto the next item. Once again, there was a video with no obvious way of playing it. This was a job for a Google search. There were a number of results, most of which told me to ‘update Flash Player’ which was wrong, because Flash is no longer supported or to update Google Chrome. This was also wrong as that was only updated on Thursday, so I suspect that the update may have corrupted some of the files. The only other suggestion that seemed to have any merit, was one to reset Chrome to it’s default.

The reset explained that it would clear all my cookies and temporary data, but would leave my passwords and bookmarks intact. It was as good as its word, uptown a point. One of the things I had forgotten was that sites where I request to ‘keep me logged in’ relies on cookies to remember. Now that the cookies had been cleared, I had to re-log in to all those sites.

I eventually managed to get everything back to ‘my normal’ but it took most of Saturday.

Well p155ed off now …


GovThis morning I tried to do two things online with the UK Government website. Firstly, I wanted to renew my driving license before the 11 month COVID-19 extension expires. I have got until May but I thought I would get it out of the way now. I can’t do it online for one reason, which will be revealed in a short while.

The second job, I wanted to do was to check my National Insurance credits as my State Pension quote came this morning and it wasn’t as much as I had been led to expect. Again, not able to do so for the same reason as above.

The reason I am unable to perform these simple tasks (and the website says it’s simple) is that I don’t have a valid UK Passport. I don’t even have an expired one. I have not needed to go abroad for over 25 years, so why would I have/need a passport?Driving

I am now in a position whereby I will need to either post an application form, with a new passport photograph and a cheque(!) for £17.00 or I can go to a Post Office with my expired card and a payment of £21.50, which is a little extortionate in my opinion. I’m also struggling to understand where ‘simple’ comes in.

Interesting …


This is an interesting development from the Daily Mail online:

Shopping Trips

Just over a week ago, I needed to go to our local Aldi. The car park was full as usual, but there is a Screw-Fix next door with  very limited parking and people going there tend to use Aldi for their parking. Now what amazed me was the number of families that were shopping together. Now I can quite understand a single person taking his/her kids shopping with them, if there is nobody at home to look after them. But there can be no excuse for one of the families that was out that day.

ShoppingThe ‘group’ consisted of a man and a woman, I would say in their mid-forties, a youth, possibly aged 14 or 15, two young girls were were probably no more than 7 years and another boy who would have been about 11 years old. These are only guesses at the ages. Now, the two girls were sitting in one trolley pushed by whom I think would be the male parent. The female ‘parent’ was pushing another trolley and loading food and supplies into that. The youth was just moping around, with his ‘ear-buds’ in as if he didn’t want to be there and the 7 year old was racing up and down the aisles on his scooter.

I may be wrong, but I could not see any justification for them all being there together.

 

More up and down …


downloadThis week has been a bit up and down again. The dishwasher was fixed. It seems there was a small piece of plastic stuck in the pump. It was only about the size of a small child’s fingernail, but was jamming the pump and stopping it from working. A local person came Tuesday lunchtime and fixed it within about 30 minutes, and that included having a look at our oven which hadn’t worked properly for a couple of years. That’ll be fixed over the weekend. We are going to keep this guy’s number.

Then came the downer! Our youngest son is Autistic and is in the ASDprocess of being phased in full-time residential care. He had been going on a Monday, sleeping 11 nights in his own flat and then coming here for a weekend visit. They test him on a weekly basis for C19 and unfortunately, he tested positive. They let us know yesterday morning. It’s a mystery how he got it though. His care team haven’t tested positive and being Autistic he doesn’t socialise with anyone else in his unit, so who knows. He seems to be okay and not showing any symptoms, but they are keeping a close eye on him. All very distressing. He was supposed to be coming home next week to have dental surgery, but that’s all put on the back burner for now. Looks like he’ll be on ‘lock-down’ until the end of March. The amazing thing is that for a person, because of his condition doesn’t accept changes easily he seems to somehow understand what is going on. We are very proud of him.

On the upside though, my father-in-law received his 1st vaccine jab on Tuesday. Which was a great relief for everyone.

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Then this morning we awoke to this scene:IMG_20210114_104851004_HDR It was expected, but not the amount that we have. At the time of writing (12:15) there looks to be about 4″ to 5″ at least. It seems to be getting a bit lighter and may even turn to rain later in the day. Not sure when it started.  I had to get up for a drink of water at around 5:00 and there was nothing then, so it must have come down quickly after then.

A warning … maybe


I just had a new follower this morning:  “http://utraker.com/ZWvom&#8221;. As usual, I quickly went to the site to check out their content. However, the hyperlink redirects you to another site named:  “http://utraker.com/ZWvom&#8221;. Very odd I thought, but where the danger is, that my laptop showed this message:-Warning

An Anti-virus and Malware check is now running!

Not had the best of starts …


Firstly there was the new ‘lock-down’, which was not unexpected if a little late. Secondly, the dishwasher has packed in. We think it may be the pump but are waiting for someone to have a look. Then I had the sad news that a former colleague had died. DWP2Thankfully not the virus. Then we were hit with the snow, again not unexpected. The final kick in the nether regions came with the post yesterday. I got my “State Pension Invitation!” Another thing that was expected, but something I didn’t really think about too much. I do think it is a bit of a strange way of putting it, an “… invitation to get your State Pension“. An “invitation” to get something I’ve been working towards since 1971. Are they really expecting me to pass on it? 

Many people thing I have retired already. However, leaving the Council back in 2016, was actually a form of  Voluntary Redundancy. They called it the “Early Leavers Initiative” or ELI. It was basically redundancy with the ability to take a slightly reduced workplace pension early. Everything just fell into place at the time and with the rumours of compulsory redundancy in the air, it was the right thing to do … jump before I was pushed.

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Step ShawlI finally finished the piece of knitting I had been working on for the past two months. It’s called a “Step Shawl”, but it’s more like a neck warmer than a shawl. I used Aran yarn on 3.5mm straight needles. It got a bit tricky towards the end as I nearly had too many stitches and should have changed to circulars needles. I’ll know next time. I had started this pattern before using some 4ply and had managed to knit six ‘steps’ before it accidently fell off my lap, dropping four stitches which ran to the beginning of the piece. After advice from fellow knitters, I added a ‘life-line’ every couple of steps, just in case. I’m quite pleased with it, but I’ve no idea what to do next.

It’s not embarrassing … really


Bottle Bank2Well maybe, a little. I went to the bottle bank today. We do get through quite a few bottles, but the recycling bank is just around the corner so it makes sense to me to go every so often with a good load. I have a prepared statement for anyone who queries the amount, and that is that “… I collect them for others in the street … older ones who can’t get about …”. It seems to work, although if it is someone from our street … well I tend just to smile and comment on the weather.

It was quite tricky this morning though. The wet roads had frozen during the night, and then this morning we had rain, and this froze also. So it was a bit hairy getting the bottles to the car or should I say getting the car to the bottles. I was told many years ago that walking on frozen roads needs a unique style of walking. You need to walk as if your ankles are tied together, so that you take very small steps. My friend likened it to ” … walking like one of the three little maids in The Mikado …” I may look like a fool doing it, but it seems to work.

It was cold last night though. Our heating boiler is programmed to come on at 06:45, which just seems to warm the house nicely for us getting up between 07:30 and 08:00. This morning I awoke for some reason at around 04:00. It happens some nights,Frost and I’m putting it down to age. I turned over, but then heard the boiler kick in. Cursing, I went downstairs thinking that we had moved the timer on in the evening and the heating had not gone off. But the controller was showing that the heating was off. that meant that the ‘frost-stat’ over the boiler had triggered due to the cold. It does that so that the water in the boiler does not freeze. Doesn’t happen often.

Beyond belief …


Sometimes, things happen that are quite honestly “Beyond Belief.” Our youngest son sometimes proves that. R… is 28 and Autistic. We are gradually phasing him in to full time residential. At present he goes on Monday morning and returns 11 days later for a weekend visit. He gives us the impression that he really enjoys  his life there.

ppeHe has a regular care-team, his own flat and his own motorbility car. During the ‘lock-down’ he went on the 23rd March and did not return until 10th July. Then again he went on the 19th October and was not allowed home, under the rules until 11th December.

All this, he seemed to take in his stride. In fact, we were more stressed and traumatised than he seemed to be. His care team kept us well informed  and rang everyday to let us know what he had been up to and with a weekly FaceTime we just about got through it.

White-one.jpgNow the interesting thing is that his daily life there is different to here. He does things there that we could never even dream he would do. When he is here, his daily routine is to sit in his room, with his laptop and TV. He will come downstairs for his lunch, then goes back to his room and that is it. Occasionally he will come back downstairs and use my laptop for a while.

Whilst in his flat, and this is the thing that amazes us, he takes on household jobs. We have photos of him mopping his kitchen floor, cooking his dinner (usually beans or sausage rolls) loading the washing machine and various other tasks around the place.

He was able to come here for Christmas, although there were times when it looked impossible, but his care-manager and all the teams put enough precautions in place for it to happen, so on Christmas Eve he came home. He would have had to come here anyway as he has a hospital appointment on Tuesday at which his legal guardian (horrible phrase) has to be present.

Now, on Christmas morning, we witnessed first hand something Lichfield Cathedralthat completely amazed us both. In fact, I still cannot get my head around it. My wife and me were downstairs getting things ready, as you do when I that he hadn’t had his morning drink of milk. I took his cup upstairs.

There was some typical Christmas church music playing and I assumed that my wife had not turned the radio off. How wrong I was. Normally, he would have one of the children’s channels on his TV , and he would also have a children’s YouTube video playing on his laptop.

CanterburyNot today. The TV was turned down and he had on his laptop a video of a Christmas church service. This played for an hour and a half before he started another similar video. I later found out that the first one was the Christmas Eve service from Lichfield Cathedral from 2000 and the second one was the previous nights service from Canterbury Cathedral.

By lunchtime he was back to watching old episodes of The Telly Tubbies as if nothing had happened. He did used to go to the local church to see the Christmas service when he was a school, but how he made the decision to watch that kind of video at that particular times, amazed us both

A strange night


I quite often wake up early in the morning, for no reason at all. I’m thinking that I may not need as much sleep as I did when I was younger, but who knows. I try and clear my mind and think of a single thing and that usually gets me into ‘dozing mode.’

Last night, or I should say early this morning, I awoke. But something was quite different. I couldn’t think of anything. In fact, I could not remember anything. I tried to think about work colleagues nothing. I could not remember their names. I could picture their faces, but I didn’t seem to know who they were.

I attempted to think of things I enjoy. Reading, writing my favourite music. Nothing!

I changed tack again and tried to think about family. Not close family, but my sister-in-law and her husband. I could not think of their names. I was beginning to think I was asleep and dreaming. But then again, do you know when you are asleep? Do you know you are having a dream?

I got up and went to the bathroom just to convince myself that I was awake and not dreaming. I was definitely awake. Gradually my thoughts started to become more normal and I began to create ‘family trees’ in my head. Some names didn’t fit, but as time went on, it got better, and things started to fall into place.

I then drifted back off to sleep. It felt strange when I woke up, trying to recall what had gone on, and I’m not sure if anything did take place and it merely was just a dream.

It’s getting closer …


The big ‘Non-event of 2020‘ is getting ever closer and with comes the things you have forgotten, either on purpose or genuinely forgotten.

Christmas cards! Love them or hate, they are always there. Every year I make up my mind not to bother with cards except for family. But every year, the same thing happens. Someone gives you a card with that expectant look in their eye that says “Where’s mine?”

I’m still on furlough as we are still in tier 3, which means that the café can only open for take-aways. So a message came through last evening to that effect, that I wasn’t needed back yet. But also the boss mentioned that if I was in town sometime, I should pop by as there are many Christmas cards for me.

I groaned, as we no cards left and my plan to finally forget giving cards had been thwarted. Mrs Me said I should pop into the charity shop and get some cards from there, as they would not be any more expensive and would support a good cause.

I got back to the car with my chosen selection of festiveness and looked for something firm to rest on whilst I added our names to each card. I knew that I had a crossword book in the pocket behind the passenger seat and as I pulled the book out, a pack of charity Christmas cards came with it. I must have bought those last year and forgotten them.

After a few choice and not so Christmassy words, I wrote my seasonal message in each card. I only needed six, possibly seven cards at the most. All done taking great care not to lick the gummed part of the envelope, I made my way to my place of work wondering if my seven cards would be enough. I should not have worried. There were only two!

Getting silly now …


It’s actually more annoying than silly. For the past few months, I have been getting spam emails that advise me that my anti-virus suite has expired. It usually comes, supposedly from a well known on-line retailer on behalf of one of the large anti-virus (AV) companies. It’s not an issue to simply to click on the ‘junk mail’ button and send to offending mail to the deleted folder. No, the issue is the number of emails that are turning up every day.

Up to the current time (13:00) today, I have had 7 of these scams. All purport to come from an online supermarket, but the underlying email address is usually a random address that simply doesn’t exist. The image on the left shows the number of emails that I received in a 3 hour period, in just one address.

The thing that angers me most, is that the supposed AV company does not seem to be interested. Most other companies that I have dealt with, regarding spoof and phishing emails have (or appear to have) a dedicated address to which the offending mail can be forwarded to for investigation. This particular AV company only accepts the email if it has been added as an attachment. Not good enough. There is a huge amount of embedded information in an email that is not available if the mail is sent as an attachment.

The interesting thing (if you can call it interesting) is that I have never had a anti-virus subscription and definitely would never pay for one.

A little bit of Classic


Screenshot 2020-12-14 160100I recently had a brief (very brief) discussion with an ex-colleague, about using the Classic Block. I know when I post using Word as my editor, the post can be saved as draft and that when edited before final publishing, the post opens up in a Classic Block. But a ex-work colleague suggested that it is a bit of a halfway house between the Classic Editor and the Block Editor, and that I shouldn’t dismiss it out of hand.

I had a short flirt with the Classic Block when it first Word-Processor.pngraised its head, but it was nothing serious and I deleted the post without publishing it. The main aim was to understand the idea behind it. I now understand a lot more and thought I would have a play around and see what mess I could come up with.

I have to admit, it seems a little better that the full Block business, Screenshot 2020-12-14 161255but there are a few little niggles that would help it on its way.  A way of being able to move an image around the post would be great. I don’t think it would be too difficult to include a Full Justification button, which would help when keeping your work to certain style. It would certainly be useful if the WEBP image format could be used. I’ve recently found that for many images WEBP comes in at about half the file size of a JPEG (or JPG). Helpful if you use larger images.

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Lastly … does anyone actually call the Block Editor,  “Gutenberg” ? Whenever I hear the word, I usually think about the internet book resource Project Gutenberg. Just a wondering.

Now I remember …


In an update to my last post, I remember why I stopped using Open Live Writer. It’s to do with images. For some reason, when the post is published in draft or final, the images in the post are added to the Media Library and duplicated. If you then amend the post for example to change the image size, the images get added again. So, you could end up, depending on the number of amendments with numerous images taking up valuable space. Deleting just one of the duplicated images results in the image not showing in the post. The image snapped from the Windows Store at the beginning of that post is duplicated eight times as I had to adjust the size a couple of times. Back to Word for now

Another blog editor … don’t bother !


Still looking around for another blog editor and I came across this on the Windows Windows Store Blog EditorStore. Very disappointing to say the least. I shouldWindows Store Blog Editor screen have taken more notice of ‘5 star’ rating by only one reviewer. It installed without any issues and found my site at the first attempt You can see from the screen shot on the right, that there is a sizable advertising banner at the bottom of the screen, which is very distracting.

The interface seems old Windows Store Blog Editor settingsand dated with very few options available. A quick look at the settings page is basically an advertisement for the ‘pro’ version which at £19.99 for a one year licence or £34.99 for a lifetime licence seems a little expensive for what it does. There is also aWindows Store Blog Editor post monthly update licence at £4.99, which seems a little pointless.

The actual writing area has very few features and the biggest problem I noted was that there was no facility to word-wrap text around an image, which I think is basic at the very least. The editing controls are limited, although it does have a full justification option .

Windows Store Blog Editor post controls1

Windows Store Blog Editor post controls2

Windows Store Blog Editor post controls 3

So after this post “Net Writer 2” will be consigned to the ‘Recycle Bin’.

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olwJust to be  awkward, this post was written with my old friend, Open Live Writer. I had completely forgotten it was still installed, so I thought I would give it another go. It still works quite well, and I’ll have to look back and see why I stopped using it. It has not updated since 2012, but still looks a half decent editor.