As good as a rest, they say …


Change! It’s not a thing that I’m particularly  good at. I tend to stick to something I’m comfortable with or something I like. I’m not one for trying out new things. Prefer the ‘status quo’ rather than be adventurous. But … I’m seriously considering changing the theme on this blog. I’ve had this current theme for quite a while now and while I still like it, I think it’s time to to have a change. I’m looking for something a little more subtle. So you may see a change over the next few days, but then again …

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I finally got around to putting a picture on the Simply Knitting Group Facebook page, of some the Plant Hangersknitting I had worked on. They are three plant pot hangers that were in the style of those macramé hangers from the 1970’s.  When I knitted them, I found that one of the patterns was slightly wrong. I managed to work out what was wrong and was able to complete the knits. I emailed the magazine, the designer and the Facebook group about the error, and finally I got the response that I was expecting and the correct instructions were posted on the magazine website. Feeling a little chuffed with myself as I have got a few likes, which I wasn’t expecting.

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Whilst I bragging about my knitting ‘success’, I have to boast about another one. Way back in October last year, we had a new bathroom fitted. Just before the plumbers finished and packed up, one of them said he was Tubular Spannersgoing to fix the kitchen tap. Now the problem was that when K*** got the kitchen sink replaced, the ‘handy-man’ fitted the tap, but did not tighten it up fully. He claimed that he didn’t want to over-tighten the fitting and crack the sink basin and it had been loose ever since. The bathroom plumbers found this highly amusing and went on to explain that there was a silicon washer that prevented the tap from over-tightening. They fixed it and all was good for a while. Then recently I found that the tap had worked loose again. The plumber was due back again for a small thing and I cheekily asked if he could fix the tap again. Unfortunately the tool he needed had been lost on another job. However, he explained that all I needed was a number 10 box or tubular spanner. eBay to the rescue. After a quick search, I found what I was looking for and am now the proud owner of a full set of tubular spanners and a fixed sink tap.

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In spite of the fact that I don’t like change, I’m experimenting with a different internet browser. For the past few years, I’ve flitted between Firefox and the Google Chrome browsers. I gave up on Internet Explorer (IE) years ago and find their new ‘go-to’ browser, Edge to be not dissimilar to IE. I finally settled on the Google offering about 18 months ago, and have been reasonably Operapleased (if that’s the right phrase) with it. However, over the past couple of months I’ve noticed that opening webpages/sites in Chrome has slowed down a great deal to the extent that sometimes the page/site just doesn’t even open. I’ve done all the obvious things like clearing down the cache, deleting offline pages and deleting browser history but it has not had much effect. So I have now installed the Opera browser and am testing it for a while. It seems faster (could not be slower) and I have managed to import all my shortcuts and bookmarks. So we shall see if it is any better.

Caught … after all I have said!


The number of times I have warned people about the dangers of Internet shopping, I go and get caught myself. I’m forever saying that ‘…if it looks to good to be true, then it is…’ I can’t remember how many times  I have told family and friends that the cheapest is not the best option as ‘…it’s usually cheap for a reason…’ That and advising people to look at the reviews and feedback, and then I go and ignore it all.

It was basically down to greed at the end of the day. I need a new, cordless hammer drill. The one I have is a cheapish one and I bought it about three years ago. The battery pack has started to lose it’s charge very quickly even if not in use. I can put it on charge one day and the charge will be lost without even using the thing. So when I had to use my corded drill to complete a simple job, I thought it was time to get an updated one. I did the usual trawl of the internet (or should I say eBay) to get the best price for what I wanted, and my results were coming up at between £35.00 and £50.00. So you can imagine my surprise when one showed up at £41.99 with ‘free’ accessory pack. What I wanted at the price I was willing to pay! Without any further research, I went through my cash-back site and purchased it, via PayPal.

It was a few hours later that I got an email from eBay advising me that “Your recent eBay transaction may be from a compromised account”. It also went on to explain, that “The item has been removed from the site, and the transaction was cancelled“. I checked my bank account, and of course the payment had gone through to PayPal. I then checked PayPal and found that the payment to the seller was pending. I quickly cancelled the payment and PayPal showed that my back account will be re-credited with the amount. There was a small caveat though, PayPal said it could take up to 30 days for the transaction to credit.

After wiping the egg off my face, I realised that this kind of thing can happen to anyone. I just took my eye off the ball and was caught. Massive lesson learned here.

Twice in as many days …


It’s beginning to get a little annoying now. This morning I got the second spoof email purporting to come from PayPal. Yesterdays was quite convincing if it had not been for the two spelling mistakes. SpooferA casual reader may not have spotted ‘bellow’ instead of ‘below’ and ‘passwurd’ instead of password. Inviting me to click on the  link ‘bellow’ to cancel the payment and change my ‘passwurd as a precaution. They had managed to get my email right, but did not include the usual checks that PayPal have in place. Todays was just an obvious spoof. Easily spotted by the way it was addressed “Dear (insert username here)‘” at the beginning of the email text

Now after working in an IT scenario for a number of years, I’ve become quite adept at spotting when an email looks wrong, but many people would have believed the first one. I have heard of people clicking these types of links and getting their personal payment details stolen.

Of course I report these kind of phishing emails, but I’m not sure anything gets done. I usually get an email back, a day or so later thanking me for reporting them and advising me to check my account an change my password. I add the address to my blocked list but the next time it will come from a different address. K*** gets many emails that look like they have come from AT&T that are fake. Usually start with “ATTCustomerCare@”, but then the next part of the address is so obviously false. Again, I have reported these to AT&T, but they don’t even respond. All a little annoying.

Update – I have just had a reply about the second spoof email. Even though there was over 100 intended recipients and even though the email was addressed badly, PayPal have deemed it not the be fraudulent. I have asked them to take another look.

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.

A little bit techy …


For a few months now, I have had a problem with my calendar. My primary email account is a Gmail account, and the application that use to read and write my email is Outlook 2016. Here was the problem! Outlook has its own calendar, but I can only see that calendar on my laptop as that is where the data is saved. My tablet and phone cannot pick up that calendar, but can see my Google calendar. So, my work around was to have an application that synchronised both calendars. After much ‘Googling’ I such an application and it was successfully installed. It ran without issues for a good few weeks, but then I noticed that although it said it was synchronising, it wasn’t happening. It was assumed by the software company that produced it, that the latest Windows update was causing a problem. There was no apology or offer to investigate it was just ‘A Windows 10 issue’ and was left at that.

Much more Googling and expressive language followed, before I found the next answer …add my Google calendar as an Internet Calendar in Outlook and use that one only. Brilliant …and so easy to do. Job done and me now a happy man. But wait a minute, I don’t seem to be able to delete an entry from that calendar. What is going on? It seems that the Google calendar is read only in Outlook. I’m now beginning to lose it a little bit. More searching and another application is found. This one seems to work. It synchronises every hour, I would prefer every 15 minutes but can live with the hour restriction. Back to the ‘happy man’ status again. I then notice, that my Outlook calendar is showing duplicated entries! My language is getting worse. I looked at some of the help forum and it explains that this is one of the issues and the only way around, is to delete all entries from both calendars and re-enter them in one calendar only. Not going to happen. I have now consigned that application to the recycle bin along with the others.

So I’m now left with the only option I appear to have. I use the Google calendar and have it as a read only calendar when I’m using Outlook. Not ideal, but seems to be the only thing I can do.

Small and strange …


Let me get something out of the way. The title of this post is not a case of self deprecation. No, I’m talking about the world and how is connected by the internet.

A bit of background here. I was doing a search on eBay, for something I wanted to buy. I was not having much luck so I thought I would widen the search to pick up other online stores. I add my criteria into a web-search optimiser that I’m beta-testing and clicked on the ‘Go’ button. The search optimiser is similar to Windows 10 Cortana, and uses all the available search engines such as Bing, Google etc to maximise the search area. Anyway back to the main story. It only took a few seconds before the results were starting to show and some of them were not what I was expecting at all. I found the item I wanted and have ordered it, but that is not what is interesting here. There was about twenty or so links on each results page and I think it was on page four that the “interesting” thing happened I was reading the link descriptions when I spotted a name of a person I thought I knew from school. The link was to a Facebook(FB) page. I don’t click on FB links as they are often not genuine so I opened FB on my tablet and enter the persons name. When FB opened I was amazed at the face that was staring  back at me. Apart from a few grey hairs and the odd forehead line, the person was exactly how I was sure I remembered them. I ‘ummed’ and ‘arrghed’ for a couple of days before biting the bullet last night and sending them a message. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be in contact after all these years as I’ve not had a lot of luck with friends from my past. Within a couple of minutes the message was replied to and it was who I thought it was. We messaged back and forth for a good half hour talking about each other and the past, and are now friends on FB.

Now I come to the “Small and strange” part. I had a look through their photo’s and friends list (as you do) and was amazed that (bear with me here) some their friends had friends who were friends of mine! Not just FB friends, but actual real friends. I can never get my head around the fact that a local (real) friend is a friend of a friends friend, if that makes sense. It’s a bit like when I discovered that the son of my manager when I was at work, supports by youngest son with one of his activities. Really does make the world feel “Small and strange…”

Finding old friends …


I’m tempted to give up on Facebook in some instances.

Over the years, I have lost contact with people I know. Sometime it’s because one of us moved house or job. Sometimes just drifting apart. None of my friends and colleagues from my first and second job are still in contact. These are people that I’ve probably not seen for twenty-five years and more, so it’s little wonder that I’ve lost contact. With todays connected world, it is some easier to stay in contact with people.

Now this is where my issue with Facebook comes in. I suddenly think, “… it would be nice to get back in touch with so and so again …” and of course I naturally assume that they will be on Facebook. So the search begins. Male friends are easier to look for as they tend, for the most part to keep their surname. You type the name you remember in the search box and hit enter. You decide to look at all the listed names, not just the ‘top ones’ that Facebook deems useful. You scroll down the list looking for anything familiar without much luck.

Then, you spot someone! They look about the right age and given the length of passing time, they look like you would expect them to look. You click on their name and wait with fingers crossed.Is it the right person? You check out what personal details they have shared, and it’s beginning to look like you have struck gold! A quick look down the photos and you begin to get more and more convinced that this is the right person. After all these years. I’ll send them a message.

“Hello! Did you used to work at {blah bah} back in the early 1970’s?”

You now sit back and wait for them to reply. Might take a day or two, but your hopes are high. A week goes by and nothing. I’ll check their profile again. It is then that you realise, that the last post they have made was back in 2009! They’re no longer using Facebook. Now you begin to wonder if you have got the wrong person after all. Then finally it starts to creep into your head, that this person may no longer be alive! That is the thought that suddenly deflates you.

This has happened to me on three occasions now and whilst (am I the only one that still uses that word?) I don’t get depressed about it, I do end up feeling a little down. I resolve to check out the posts before waltz off trying to contact them. Maybe next time!

(Posted by email, using ZoHo Mail)