Today it snowed …..


   The snow had been falling for nearly 1 minute, before that fateful cry came from within the ranks … ‘Can we go early … It’s snowing ???’ It is the same every time. Snow only has to be mentioned, and there are some people wanting to leave early. Tomorrow, those same people will spend most of the day, watching the weather through the few windows we have in the office, and bemoaning the fact that management will not let us go home. Well is you like your home so much, LEAVE !!!!!

   To be honest, it’s 22:40 and there is a good 1 inch of snow. We probably will not get much more overnight, but you never can tell. I’ll take it easy driving tomorrow. It’s motorway for 9/10 of the journey, so the road will not be so bad, once I get out of the village. I’ll wager good money, that the car park at work is like an ice-rink. It usually is.

   No problems with the system today. However, one of the major parts of the upgrade, still has to be started. I am supposed to run a Windows ’Scheduled Task’, but our IT department, in their infinite wisdom, has disabled that particular function. Thanks guys, you really know how to make things easy for the rest of us. What really bugs me, is that technology is supposed to make work more efficient and productive. But IT departments do not seem to think that way. I’m convinced, that if the IT department had their way, then we would not have computers, just in case we caused any problems !!!!!

That’s a relief …. well sort of ….


   The software upgrade went as well as can be expected, with only one problem. Wrong build !!! The version was correct, but the build was wrong. As a consequence, certain parts of the software failed. So who’s fault was that ? The software house for sending the wrong client build?? Our IT department for packaging the wrong client build??? Well the IT department will say, that they packaged the client build that they were sent. I can believe that that could be the case. However (enter Hercule Poirot) the upgrade files that had been copied to the server, contained the correct client build !!!!! So the dilemma is, where did the wrong build come from, and why are there two builds ??? Once again I feel the answer is down to a lack of communication between the software house and our IT department. The next major project, is moving the whole data file structure to the new SAN storage area. This time, I will take a more pro-active role, and will insist on a detailed project plan. This will not go wrong.

   On a different tack, the eldest rang his Mum today, to apologise for his money mismanagement. I don’t know if he meant it, but no one asked him to ring, so maybe there is something there.

   My ‘Speed Awareness Course’ invitation came through today. I need to log on to a website to arrange a course and pay the £60.00 course fee. I’ve been getting lots of ‘expert’ advice people who have been in the same situation. Advice ranging from challenging the accuracy of the speed camera, to pay the fine, but send £60.01p !!! Apparently, the latter will stop the points going on, as the police cannot send me a refund for a penny, and they cannot keep the penny, so the point do not go on. Do I look stupid !!!! If they cannot process they payment, because of something I have done, then the law says that ‘I have failed to pay the fixed penalty’ and the case will proceed to court. End of story.

Stuck for a title ……


   The IT testing went okay. It took a lot longer than anticipated. I ended up doing two sessions, 9:30 until 12:00 then 13:30 until 15:00. Once again, the problems were at this end. Things that should have been done that hadn’t been done. Files in the wrong place. Wrong data paths. Mind you, the upgrade was run differently this time. There was a lot more for me to do. Last upgrade, the client was installed on the server, and the software house dialled in and did all the work. This time it was done from a local PC. Lessons have been learned, I hope. What I think is needed, is a concerted effort on both sides to communicate more. Next time I will insist on a project plan, with a detailed list of tasks and responsibilities. Next time, I will take more of a lead.

   I’m more than a little pissed off with the DVLA. I want to pay my car tax online, but because my insurance runs out at a similar time, the DVLA will not let me. They say that some national insurance database, has not been updated with my new insurance detail. So that means a trip to the post office in the next village. I though technology was supposed to help and make things easier.

   Tesco ‘green’ points are a funny thing. You get loyalty points for every bag you reuse. So basically, you take your own bags. A couple of weeks ago, I was shopping for a number of things, and unfortunately, forgot to take my bags into the store. Because the car was parked near to the store exit, I declined the offer of disposable bags, and put all the shopping back into the trolley. When I checked my receipt, I noticed that there were no ‘green’ point, so I toddled off to ‘Customer Service’ to query this. The very nice lady at the counter told me that I could only have the points if I re-used bags, and that the cashier would need to count how many bags I re-used. Totally bizarre. You should have seen the look on the Customer Service lady’s face, when I asked for 6 plastic bags to put my shopping in !!!!

Another let down ….


The IT testing is not going ahead as planned. It would appear, that the software house is still having problems. Now the question is, are the problems based at the software company, or are the problems at our end ? If you consider, that the software company have not had problems with anyone else, it kind of sends out a message. Also bearing in mind that our last two updates had similar problems ……

Did not get to run this evening. I went to see my mum on the way home, so it was about 6pm when i got in, and I really did not feel like it at that time. I’m not sure how this is going to work. It would probably be better, if I ran in the morning, but that means getting up 45 minutes earlier. Whilst I could get used to that idea, I just need the impetus to start.

Not heard anything from the eldest today. It is cheap drinks Dry Dock night at the Dry Dock pub in Leeds, so he may have gone there for the evening. He is supposed to be coming home tomorrow, for his drama group. He has missed the last two sessions, so he needs to get his act together.

Youngest has been fine for the most of the evening. However it  sounds like he is starting to wind up a little. Probably tired.

An interesting day…


   Interesting, may not be the correct word here. It has been a very good day. Despite the rain when I was putting the washing out, and despite the fact that the bed sheet is too large for the dryer. R*** has been in an exceptional good mood. We have had singing and laughing and joking with him. There has been no violent outbursts whatsoever. He has eaten his meals without any fuss, if fact he seems to have eaten more today than i have seen him eat in a long time. The interesting fact though, is that he has had no medication at all. It is now 10:20pm and he seems like is is almost ready for bed. Just need to get him to turn his PC off. Fingers crossed.

   I sorted out the problem I had with the windows Recent Documents folder. It seems there is a bug in Office 2007. If you open and save a file, from within the application, be it Word, Excel or whatever, then no shortcut is placed in the windows Recent Documents folder. However, if you open the file from explorer then it does appear. I don’t know why I was that bothered really, as I never remember to look in Recent Documents. I usually tend to use explorer or open the file from within the application. Live and learn.

   Whilst I am on about Microsoft and windows. I recently downloaded, and installed the new Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) software. It got good reviews in the final beta stages, and even more when the product was released fully. It has been running for about a week now, and I decided today to remove it. Since installation, a number of basic actions, have been taking a great deal longer than usual. Applications like Windows Explorer taking 20 seconds to open, and memory sticks too. Now, I have AVG Free, Spybot S&D, Adaware,  Windows Firewall and Windows Defender. Do I really need yet another security product ?? MSE is supposed to be good, and from what I read, it is supposed to do away with Defender, but it cannot be a coincidence that as soon as I remove MSE, everything seems to get back to normal.

  Today is a bit of a blogging celebration. I have now posted everyday since 11 July 2009. Feeling really pleased with myself. It has sometimes been a bit of a bind, trying to think of something to post, but I have managed it, even if it has only been a short paragraph posted from my mobile. Here is to the next three months.

Back to work ….


   It has been a good weekend overall. Today was R***’s birthday. He was really excited this morning. He came into our room, around 6:30 this morning, with his arms outstretched, and said ‘Happy Birthday to me !!!’ It was very funny, and quite surprising that he did that. We certainly did not expect him to do that. He has been really good, all day, with just a tiny blip around 4:00pm, but that very minor. S**** rang today to say Happy Birthday, which pleased Mrs H. Neither of us thought he would ring.

   I am in a bit of a ‘weight crisis’ at the moment. I went for a shower this evening, and as is usual, I got on the scales. I have finally hit 12 stone !!!! This is not good. I have been hovering around 11 stone 11lb for a week or so, but to hit the 12 mark is a bit of a shock. I know what it is though. Biscuits and beer ! It has to stop now ! I also need to start the walking again. Problem is, that it is just not a pleasant place to walk. I suppose I could drive somewhere, but those options are limited too. However, I will make the effort.

   I really need to stop installing software that I do not need. How many ‘uninstallers’ does a person need ? I already have a copy of Revo uninstaller, why on earth do I need Zsoft ??? Fair enough, Zsoft does monitor your installations, but Revo is arguably the best freeware out there. I’m not 100% sure about this new Microsoft Security Essentials either. All the talk about it is very positive, but it depends on how much system resource it takes up. I will see how it goes, as it has only been installed since yesterday.

An odd day …


   It has been one of those days, when nothing has gone wrong, but nothing has happened to make it memorable. It just happened. Of course, the idiots were still idiots, and still did the stupid things that idiots do. It gets me quite angry, when they do stupid things after four/five years. Grrrrrr !!

   It’s the 2nd annual Bramham Beer Fest tomorrow. There are over 20 local real ales on sale, with entertainment and food all day. If last year is anything to go by, it should be a good day. They got about 200 customers last year, and are expecting in excess of 300 this year. Eldest is coming up, and we think he may bring his flatmate, but that changes by the hour. I don’t think either will stop the night, as S**** indicated that he wants to go out in Leeds afterwards.

   The online training course and quiz, at work is turning out to be a disaster. We are moving from Lotus Notes to Outlook 2003 (2003, I ask you) next month, and we all have to go through this so called ‘training course and quiz’. The course is online, and consists of, what looks like a PowerPoint presentation. No interaction, and it is supposed to take 2 hours to get through. Everyone (except the numpties) got bored after about 20 minutes. It is not a good piece of training. Then there is the ‘quiz’. Everyone needs to get 80% on the quiz. There are 10 questions, and they are either single word or multiple choice answers. But there seems to be a problem with the results. My first attempt got me 60%. Second go, and I realised 70%. Third time, and I’m down at 50%. Problem is that the feedback from the quiz, does not tell you which questions you got wrong !!!! So, attempt number 4. This time, I am armed with the ‘official’ training handbook. Every question, and I look the answer up in the manual. Cannot fail. Result …… 70%. See the problem !! Methinks that IT need to do some work on this one.

   The  non-recyclable bins got emptied today. It will have been private contractors that covered the job. I’m not too happy about the use of contractors, but I think the unions have shot themselves in the foot here. The council has to get the best deal, and have been looking at outsourcing for some time. This strike has made them look harder. And I think, the longer it goes on, the more the public support will dwindle. I don’t think they had that much support anyway. A lot of people remember how hard the ‘binmen’ of old used to work. Carrying those steel bins on their shoulders to the bin wagon, and then putting them back in the garden. No wheelie bins in those days. What it will make people aware of, is exactly how much stuff they put in the bins on a regular basis.

Lost ……


   Leeds started well, and a shameful disallow of a, perfectly good, goal did not  seem to upset them. Snodgras played a blinding game, but Beckford had an unlucky game. Then a Liverpool goal from Ngog sealed Leeds’s fate. Leeds held their own, and put a on good show. Lets face it, Liverpool are a leading Premiership team, and Leeds are starting the long climb back. Liverpool 1 – 0 Leeds.

   I tell you what, I hate, what I call “pseudo experts”. You know, they are the people that think they know what they are doing, but are not quite as clever as they think they are. It is like this. We have a number of shared files, on our computer system, that are used by all or most of the office staff at sometime or an other. To help people, I have created shortcuts to the files. This, of course makes them lazy somewhat, as it negates the need for them to locate the file for themselves. Computing at it’s very basic level. So of course, they cannot find the files without the shortcut. They manage to search and find their ‘facebook’ and private email accounts, and those addictive flash games that are all over the internet. But ask them to find stuff for work, and they turn into gibbering wrecks. Now I can add the shortcuts again (they lost them when they got new computers) but they are going to have to wait until I have the time to do it. They all want/need/like different shortcuts, so it will not be a quick two minute job, but it will get done. Enter the pseudo expert !! Now my idea would be to right-click on the file and ‘create a shortcut’, then copy and past the shortcut to the users start menu. Not so the pseudo expert. She/he, being clever, decides to drag and drop and in so doing, simply creates a copy of the file onto the start menu. Thus giving everyone their own copy of a shared file. You can see what the problem is going to be !!!

   Of course, IT and me share the blame equally. IT for changing the PC’s in the first place, and me for not running round like an idiot, putting the shortcuts back when they had done.

   No quiz-nite tonight. Well it was on, but the eldest was not coming up, and I wanted to see the footie. It does make a great difference watching it on a big screen in high definition. Mrs H was not too pleased I think. Still it does not happen that often (22 October is the next Leeds match on TV), and she will have to get used to it for World Cup.

Weekend again


   The end of another working week. Quite a steady day today, with just Mobile barcode enough to do to keep me occupied. I managed to work out what the barcode scanner on my mobile does. It scans the  barcode (like on the left) and converts it into some that can be read by a human. In this instance, the code would be converted to the phrase ‘this is a mobile barcode’. What they are used for in many cases’ is creating a link to a mobile website. The one on the side bar, is actually a link to this blog. The image was created on the http://www.barcodelink.net/ website, and pasted into a text widget. I’m very impressed. I’m sure, given time, I’ll think of many uses for this (!!)

   No sight or sound of the bin-men yet. I know some crews have been out this week, and some areas have had there bins emptied, but not here. It’s a shame really, as we seem to have a good crew on this run. It is a difficult one, this one. It is a hard, dirty and dangerous job, but they do not have to lift and carry the bins like they used to. On the other hand, there is a lot more rubbish going in the bins these days. It makes you think about how much waste we are producing. I do get quite annoyed about the amount of packaging, that supermarkets and manufacturers use. There still seems to be a great deal of goods, that are double wrapped, that do not need to be. Here is a suggestion, instead of having a ‘multi-pack’ of beans at £2.45, get rid of the extra wrapper and just sell four tins for £2.45 !!!! It is not rocket science, and everyone wins.

Monday, over and done with


   It’s been, shall we say, an interesting day. It all started very well, then the IT lot turned up. A large number of computers were being replaced today. They get ‘refreshed’ about every 3 years (or 5 in our case) and today was our day. Of course, everyone had something to complain about !!!! Screen too big, PC in wrong place, don’t like the mouse, don’t like the keyboard, why can’t i have a new one and one even said ‘why do I need one!!!!’ Now tomorrow, I have to start and get their shortcuts back. Not one of them will have the same shortcuts, and not one of them will know what shortcuts they had !!!

    Youngest is back from respite. Bit of a knife edge, as we don’t know which way he is going to turn. One minute he is okay, and then next he is looking angry. Nothing serious has kicked off though, although it remains to be seen how he will be when he goes to his own bed. He is being very vocal at the moment, but we are not getting the ‘droning’ sound, which is usually a precursor for one his ‘incidents’. Fingers crossed.

   Just been checking the stats on the blog. I cannot believe that somebody hit my site using the search term “personal appliance tester”. Who is that sad ??? Still a it is a hit, as they say. What I don’t get is, I can write a 450 word post and get 4 hits, yet a 100 word quick post get 15 hits !

Nearly the weekend


   Well, the eldest did not manage to get up at 07:00 this morning. It was never on the cards really, and I don’t now why we thought he would be. He did not get back in until gone midnight, and was posting messages on facebook at 02:00am. We need to be a bit more forceful when he is here, and try and make sure he is up by 09:00 at the latest. The problem is, that because he has not had to get up for Uni, he sleeps late. It then follows that he is not tired enough at what is a ‘normal’ bedtime. And so, his body clock is completely out of synch. He will have to be up early on Saturday and Sunday though, as both him and his flat mate are working those days.

   Another IT disaster today. This time is was the whole council wide network that had problems. It started around 12:00, when people found they were having problems logging into the network. Those that did manage to log in, were having difficulties accessing certain applications. By 2:00pm most of the council was affected, and the IT help desk, was pushing out a message to the effect, that all the servers needed to be restarted,which would be done tonight. And that is how it was left. Of course, many of my colleagues thought they knew better than me and continued to try and log in. It is getting increasingly difficult to explain to some of these people, that when I say ‘the whole network is down…’ that it also applies to them too, and that they are not a special case.

   Youngest goes on respite tomorrow. Sad though it seems, both Mrs H and me are avidly looking forward to the break. He will be back on Monday, after school, so not too long. It is strange, though. Although we are ready for a short rest, we will miss him when he is not there. When he goes for a week, it seems a lot longer, and we start to look forward to him coming home. Then he kicks off, and we start looking at the calendar for his next respite (joking). I just hope that the current bout of good weather holds out for the weekend. We both need to get of the house for a while. R*** always says a firm ‘No’ to any suggestion that we go out. Even if it is something he enjoys, it is always ‘No’. We do get to have a walk round the village sometimes, but it is a struggle, and often can be painful.

   Right, that will do for now. Wish me luck for work tomorrow.

England – a step closer


   So we qualified !!! About time too. What will happen next, is that we will win the group stage (just), then lose at the quarters, because the player we are banking on the most will have to miss the most important match, due to a sending off ! Job done ! But not to worry, there is always next time. Am I being cynical ???

   Crap morning at work. There were problems with the server, and the client software was not connecting. I could ping the server, but could not logon to it through Enterprise Manager. IT were onto the case, but all the usual people that I would normal contact were off on leave or courses or working from home. You get the picture. D*** had logged the call first thing, but because it was before 08:00, it was the relief team on the ‘help-desk’. The person did just that, logged the call. It was when I tried chasing the call up, at around 08:45, that I found that we had a lack of IT staff. However, someone did call back, and I was able to explain the problem we were having. It took then about half an hour, before they came up with the classic solve all … ‘we are going to turn the server off and then back on again’. This, of course, took another two hours, as the server is located on a different site. By 11:00, all was well again. So not such a bad problem after all. No the ‘crap’ part comes in with the office staff. As usual, they blame the software. The software was working as best it could, without the server. At least the client end opened. I tried explaining to one of them what the problem was, but they just can’t, or don’t want to, understand. ‘Imagine’ I said, ‘that your car has had it’s engine removed. It will not work … is it the car itself, or is it the fact that the engine is missing ?’ This analogy was lost on them.

   A bad episode with the youngest late last night. No apparent trigger. He had been fine. Laughing and joking, and then all change. Extreme to say the least, and it took a good 40 minutes before he calmed down enough for us to go to sleep. And then he was okay today and has been all evening. There just seems to be no rime or reason to it.

A new week …. hurrah


   K**** was back at work today. Everyone has missed her, well at least I hope they have. It was good to see her back. All went quite well. No problems with the PDA’s, although I’ve logged 11 for repair, and have only received quotes for 10 of them. I know what will happen.  I’ll raise an order for 10 repairs and get it emailed off, then the 11th quote will come through, and I’ll have to raise another order. If I wait, I’ll have to ring the help-desk and ask what is happening.

  I got a random email for an MSN friend this morning. It had a link to a web based software called Status Checker. This is apparently a piece of software the is supposed to check to see who has blocked you on MSN. My Geek instincts told me not to open the thing, and to let the person who sent me it know. It turns out that I could have been right. MSN Status Checker is a valid web service, that tries to do what it says. However, as all Geeks and Nerds know, never click on links on emails, unless you know what the link is. Even then, I’m very wary. This thing could be a variant of the ‘koobface’ virus.

   S****’s back seems to be no better. He’s seen the doctor, but we don’t know what he said really. It would appear, that he needs to register with a doctor nearer where he lives, and then needs to get some physiotherapy. I’m not too sure about that though. It would be different if he was going to be living in Leeds for a long time, but he could be back at home next August, which is his work experience year, or more likely even further away.

   I seem to be getting quite a bit of pressure fro the candidate for the local Labour Party. Our MP is standing down at the next election, and I’ve had the three candidates contact me over the past few weeks. One of them, Karen Bruce has been in email contact, another one, James Ellis (I think) even came to see me. The third sent his CV, but he was so unremarkable, that his name has not even registered. I have to ask myself, where is all this interest when the General or even Local elections are happening. This is such a safe Tory seat, that they just don’t even bother to show their faces. How can they expect to get new voters. And by the same token, the Tories are so confident here, that we don’t see them either. At the last local election, the only literature we got from any party, was from the BNP, and that was pushed through the letterbox after 11:00 at night. As for the Lib-Dems, well the words ‘chocolate’ and ‘teapot’ spring to mind. I will not be voting, as I am no longer a party member, but if I did, Karen Bruce would be my choice.

   All done.

Weekend all gone


   A quiet day today. R*** had a lie-in until 07:30 which was nice. No jobs to do today, except making the dinner. I pegged out a few more strawberry plants. That will make about 8 new plants all together. I don’t really know how we will over winter them. I think, I’ll leave them out doors until it starts to get frosty, and maybe put them in the shed, with some fleece over them. I don’t think they will keep very well in my little greenhouse.

   S**** was online with Mrs H tonight. He doesn’t seem to be that well. His back is getting  so bad, that he says he is having difficulty walking!! Mind you, it does not seem to stop him spending all night watching DVDs. He says he was up all last night, until 10:00am this morning, watching ‘24’. Now that surely cannot help !!

   It seems funny seeing Mrs H on messenger. I’ve also got her checking her email. Now that I’ve got Outlook, I’ve moved my accounts from Outlook Express, so that there is only her account on there. What with that, and her searching online and Googling, there will be no stopping her.

   All my bluetooth kit seem to be working okay now (hurriedly looks for wood to touch.) I had to uninstall the bluetooth software and drivers, before I could get my PDA to synchronise. For some reason, the software was only opening two COM ports, when there should have been about 4 or 5. Odd thing is though, that while ever the Nokia PC Suite is open, both my phones are connected to the PC. I’m not sure if that is a good thing or not. What it does mean though, is that I can have all my contacts and calendar details on both my phone, PDA and the PC. I think I’ll give up with the Tiscali email. It is not that good, and apart from getting a monthly email from OpenOffice.Org (which I no longer use), the rest is spam. Now I know I get a lot of spam with the Gmail address, but Google seems to have a very good spam filter, something that Tiscali could do with.

   I think that will do for today.

Yet another long day ….


   Although R*** woke up at 04:45 a, and was in a foul mood, the day went quite well. He went off to his respite club for the day and Mrs H and me did a bit of shopping and had a bit of a walk. There have been a couple of moments when we thought he was going to kick off, but nothing happened. That can be quite stressful too, when something you expect to happen, just doesn’t.

   I managed to synch my phone with Outlook today. This has been a bit of an uphill struggle. It all boils down to when I added the new RAM. I must have plugged all the USB peripherals into all the wrong ports, which seems to have messed everything up. However, the only thing that will not connect via bluetooth, is my PDA. To be honest, it always was easier to connect with the cable, so I may just do that. I believe though, that I can synch the PDA with Outlook too, it’s just finding out how to do it.

   S**** seems to be struggling with his money. He has no income, but needs to spend to live. It doesn’t help, that his flat mates father seems to pay for everything. We cannot afford to do that, so S**** is going to have to do what 99% of students do, and get a job of some sort.

   Well that seems to be it for today.