Must be getting soft …


I recently decided that I needed a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad. Never really liked typing on screen as I have more or less grown up with ‘proper’ physical keyboard. So I scoured eBay and found one that looked to Keyboardbe just what I wanted. Not the cheapest and not the most expensive either. It was about the price I was willing to pay so I ordered one. It duly arrived on time and I quickly read the instructions for setting up and pairing with my iPad. That done, I began to look at the features of the keyboard and its basic operating procedures. The first thing I needed to do was to charge it with the ‘ … enclosed micro USB to USB cable …’ and here was a problem. There was no cable! I was not worried as I seem to have more than my fair share of these cable which seem to come with everything. But, I thought, if there is one supposed to be included then there should be one. I decided to message the seller and advise them that the cable had not been included.  I told them that I did not need a cable and that I was just letting them know so that they could contact their supplier in case there was a problem. After a few days I received a very polite reply, apologising for the delay and asking me what I wanted to do. Did I want a full refund or did I want a replacement? The caveat was that I would have to dispose the first unit myself. I emailed back and explained again, that it was only the cable, that I didn’t need another and wasn’t seeking a refund or replacement.

The email had only just been sent, when I had one of those “Doh!” moments. What had I done? The guy was going to either send a second unit or refund my payment. He didn’t want the first one back. So I would have had either a free unit or two units, and I turned him down!  What can I say? Either getting soft or getting too old.

Small steps …


This is going to be a little bit techy/geeky, so feel free to move on.

For a long time now, I’ve been wanting to learn a computer programming language. I have had a free programming environment (Visual Studio Community 2017) on all my computers for many years but simply have not had the inspiration to get on and learn something. The bad weather on Thursday suddenly gave me that inspiration. I found an online tutorial called Home and Learn, that went through the basics in Visual Basic.net, but at a pace that wasn’t either too slow or too fast. Many of these tutorials show you how to create the ubiquitous “Hello World” programme. As much of a novice that I am, I think I was past that phase.

So by the end of the day, I had completed a few exercises and had started on a project to build a basic calculator. AndVB Calculator I mean a basic calculator. A calculator that only had a single function … addition. Nothing else … just adding up numbers. By Friday evening, after a few false starts I had successfully built this very simple calculator application. I was feeling very pleased with myself. This self-smugness left me feeling that I could do more. Knowing what I had learnt I felt that it would be not such a difficult task to add another function, such as subtraction. The main issue I had was how to use the coding that I had spent so much time on without losing the initial work. What I needed was a ‘Save as …’ option. But could I find one? It seems that there is no ‘Save as …’ in this version of Visual Studio. I searched the internet but was coming up with various ways that didn’t seem to work for me. I then realised what I needed to do. All that was required was to copy the original project to it’s own backup folder, in another area and then I was free to use the original.

VB Calculator Ver 2Well I won’t bore you with any more details, but after even more false starts than before and a lot of brain-racking I managed to get the subtraction function to work and the calculator now has both an addition and a subtraction button. Can you imagine how much the smugness factor has risen by! I even managed to find out how to make the buttons look like raised buttons instead of the default flat style that seems to be the fashion these days. The next challenge is to add a multiplication and a division button. I’m even thinking ahead for things like a percentage button, but I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself.

At the end of the day though, this not going to get me anywhere. It’s just another hobby that I can enjoy and get satisfaction from.

It’s been a while …


It’s been a few weeks since my last post. No particular reason except laziness really! I tend to post when I have something I want to get off my chest and usually wait until there are a couple of things that rile me. Well there has been some things that have ‘annoyed’ me somewhat, but I’m wanting to break away from the rant style post which may account for the ‘laziness’ I just mentioned. But until then …

I just about survived Christmas, as usual. Saying that, I wasn’t well from Boxing Day to the 29th. I had what I thought was a variation of the Norovirus. I did not have the sickness, but had all the rest. The one thing that seemed to floor me was the lack of energy. On the Friday, I spent the whole day in bed, most of it asleep, which is unusual for me. Lost about 8 pound in weight (sadly not permanent), but by New Years Eve I seemed to be a lot better and by the 2nd I was nearly up to my pre-Christmas weight again!

K*** and me had a trip out to the Designer Outlet at York on Friday. R*** was on respite and was due home that day, so K*** wanted to get out whilst we could. The weather was terrible. One minute it was raining, and the next it was foggy. K*** was driving as I had driven to Harrogate on Wednesday and wanted a rest from it. You know I lost count of the number of cars/vans/lorries that did not have any lights on. Many didn’t even have sidelights switched on. It’s no exaggeration to say that most of them were grey vehicles. So that’s a grey vehicle on a grey road on a grey day! I was told by my driving instructor that those types of day need headlights. I saw one police-car on the whole 25 minute journey and he was at the side of the road eating some food. What cay I say to that?

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K*** (or more accurately, me) has been having issues with her email. She does all her stuff on her iPad which suits her as she has not been much of a fan of my laptops. So ever since the latest update the iPad Mail App has been playing up. Emails have not been showing up when they arrive (as they did before) and I have tried to get it sorted. The problem is that I’m not an Apple expert so I have had to hit Google a lot. The problem was exasperated by the fact that her email client is Sky.com or the be more precise Yahoo! It did used to be Gmail until a couple of years ago and it’s not been the same since. Don’t get me wrong, when Yahoo works, it is very good, but when it doesn’t work there is noting worse. It seems to be a little better now, but she now has to refresh the app and wait until the emails appear now instead of them being there when she opened the app. It also does not help that she never deletes any emails. Still, Yahoo tells us that she space for another 54 million emails, so ‘she’ is not too worried. I may have to do a clear out for her at some point.

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So, in the spirit of blog posts to come (hopefully). Happy New Year

Random Microsoft rant …


Yes, it’s that time again when I have a bit of a rant at, what is arguably the most successful IT companies ever. I have to say, that I/we have a fair bit of personal IT equipment in the house. I have two laptops, three tablets and two smartphones, K*** has a tablet and a smartphone and R*** has two laptops and a tablet. The laptops are all Windows laptops with mine running Windows 10. R***’s laptops are still running Window 7 and 8 respectively, but that is because of the way he uses his computers. He only uses Internet Explorer and YouTube so he has no need for all the ‘whistles and bells’ that later versions bring.

To get to the point. Windows 10 is now ‘provided as a service’ as Microsoft says. This basically means that for home users, there is no choice but to update their computers when Microsoft say so. It is different for business and educational systems, who can refrain from updating if they like. But for us mere mortals, we do as we are told. There are ways around this, but it is often too much hassle.

So on Friday, I noticed that my main laptop was showing that an update was ready to apply. This is what Microsoft called the ’Windows 10 Fall Creators Update’ and is a major update to the system. The main issue I have with this forced update regime is that sometimes Microsoft will remove files that it deems are no longer useful. Now I have a piece of software that I use for my banking. It is what they call ‘legacy software’ which one way of saying outdated. But I call it ‘critical software’ as it suits my purpose and without paying a lot of money, there is nothing similar out there. The same software is on my other laptop, as a backup, which for the past month had been disconnected from the internet in order that it did not update with the possibility of breaking the software. So I bit the bullet and ran the update. It took two and a quarter hours to run! But, in the end, the software ran without issue, so all was good. I now felt that it was safe enough update the other laptop.

It was now 09:30 on Saturday morning. I started up the other laptop and ran the update checker which advised me that there were a number of updates waiting. Clicked on the update button and sat back waiting for it to finish. After about two hours I had a quick look to see what was happening, only to find that two of the updates had failed to install. I did a reboot and tried again. Still nothing. So later in the evening around about 21:15, I ran a utility that cleared some files and tried again. This time I saw that the updates were going through. I turned the screen off and left it too it. I checked about 23:30 and it was still running. It actually finished at 04:20. Just over seven hours to update! Amazing!

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Aaaaaaagh …


This is the closest word(!) I can think of to describe how I felt, when I turned on my main laptop yesterday evening.  The next few words were da*n, sh*t, bug*er, fu*k, bol*cks and many others, far too obscene to even asterisk out!

Yes, the day I had been dreading since early May had arrived. It was the day that the Windows 10 Anniversary update hit my main computer. There was no way of stopping it. I checked my settings, and see that the update had downloaded during the day sometime. Windows was now telling me that it would install the update at 03:10 the next morning. Ah ha …I thought. Windows is expecting me to leave my machine on for the update to take place. I very rarely shut down my laptop, as I prefer to ‘hibernate’ so it does not take too long to start up.

So here is me thinking that if I hibernate, then effectively my machine is not on and as a consequence the update will not happen. I felt that I was in charge. WRONG !!!!!

I came down this morning at around 06:40 to find my laptop was on and had had a proper restart. Those certain words that I had used the evening before had come into play again. The conversation going on in my head was quite something:

     Positive me: The laptop has restarted without an error. That didn’t happen before, so it must be ok.

     Negative me: Means nothing!

     Positive me: Let’s have a quick look.

     Negative me: It will have failed. There’ll be something wrong. Microsoft … pah.

     Positive me: We’ll check tonight.

     Negative me: Mumble, grumble, told you so, mumble, mumble, bl**dy Microsoft etc etc

This argument went back and forth for until I got back home this afternoon and could have a proper look.

It would appear, that all my misgivings were unfounded. Everything ‘seems’ to work as before. That is, that banking app  I was so worried about was working as it should.

Maybe, I’ll sleep better tonight!

All starting to get a bit real now …


Well, the confirmation I’ve been waiting for, came through on Friday morning. My boss emailed me first thing to tell me that my application for Early Retirement had been passed by the Corporate Panel. I am now all set to retire from full time employment on the 31st October.

I may have mentioned this before, but Leeds has had to respond to the huge funding cuts that have been forced on the Council. One of the initiatives has been what Leeds call the ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI as it is known. This is basically voluntary early retirement. Staff over a certain age in services that are at the forefront of the cuts are able to apply for ELI in order to reduce costs. I applied back in July, when it became obvious that our team was one of the teams that could be at risk. I felt it was a case of jump before I was pushed. Going now, I get a reasonable package, that I would not have got if I would have been one of the ‘pushed’ and my Service Head made it quite clear that some people would be forced to go in March 2017.

So now, I need to look for a part-time job. Although the package is a good one, it’s a lot less than I am currently used too. I also need to be able to get out of the house an keep active. My knitting and computer hobbies will not fill all the time and I don’t want to be under the feet of K*** everyday. Fingers crossed I find something quickly.