Blog editor trial – results are in …


Now here is where in time old fashion I should say “In no particular order …” but I shall resist the temptation. Instead I shall just list some of the ‘pros and cons’ of the applications I have tried.

1. WordPress editor
Positives: ease of use, built in, WYSIWYG, available on all my devices
Negatives: formatting images not as good as Open Live Writer

2. Word
Positives: fully featured, WYSIWYG
Negatives: too many features, no tags, image manipulation not as good as Open Live Writer

3. BlogDesk
Positives:
Negatives: Could not get it to connect to blog

4. Open Live Writer
Positives: Ease of use, familiar, WYSIWYG, tags and categories easy to use, image control good
Negatives: Not been updated since 2015, random crashes

5. BlodPad Pro
Positives: ease of use, good when away from desk
Negatives: iOS only, image manipulation not easy

After a little amount of brain activity, I think I am going to stick with Open Live Writer as my main editor for the time being. However, I may be tempted with the WordPress editor. With it’s ability to be used on my laptop, my iPad, my wife’s iPad, old laptop and even my phone if the desire took me, it comes an extremely close second.


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. 

Having a moan and other things …


I’ve not posted for over a week now. I suppose it’s a combination of laziness and wanting to write a more substantial post. I did try, some time ago, to post every day. I think it lasted just over a week, before I began to struggle to say anything at all. So that fell by the wayside and I returned back to simply writing when I felt up to it and had something I wanted to say.

Now that’s out of the way, it’s back to the moans and groans.

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We, that’s me and K*** had a great day out on Tuesday to Beningbrough Hall. We walked round the gardens, which were really beautiful. We then toured the hall which was extremely enjoyable. Where does the ‘moan’ come in you may ask? Well Beningbrough, as the above link shows is an estate owned and managed by the National Trust. A fine example of a house and gardens of it’s time and a great educational place to for all to visit. So why do some parents (and I counted at least five families) think it is a great idea for their ‘children’ to take a football with them? It’s a piece of important history not a sports field! If you want to kick a ball around, then there are plenty of of open parkland in this country to do just that!

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After our visit, we had a look around one of the large shopping parks in the area. Now I get a little upset with some of the shops and I have mentioned before the issue of clothing sizes, so I’m not going to visit that again. No, my ‘moan’ this time is the price of razors! We needed to get some for R*** to take on respite as we had been told he was getting low. K*** was buying some kind of cosmetic stuff and I was charged with picking the razors. It never fails to amaze me at the price of these things. But what amazes me more, is when they are sold on ‘special offer’. I saw one pack that had the razor handle and six individual ‘multi-blades’ priced at the special offer price of £30.99! What really annoyed me was that at the side of this offer price was the words ‘Worth £45.99’. Who says that these are worth what they say they’re worth? Is it some kind of expert retail gurus? Or is it simply the manufacturers that are just trying to con us? I feel that it could be the latter.

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I made a start on clearing out the garage on Saturday. When I say ‘made a start’ I mean just that. For the past few years, the garage has been a dumping ground for everything and anything that we/I/she felt might come in useful at some point. But it’s come to the point where even I have trouble getting in and out of the place. So something had to be done. I was going to the opticians and the local authority tip is én route, so thought I would kill two birds with one stone. Well I think I must have had a chip in my windscreen, and the numerous speed humps on the one of the roads must have exasperated this, because when I got home, I noticed I had a small crack in said windscreen. Not very happy that I have a £60.00 excess to pay to get it fixed, but even more unhappy, that it cannot be fixed until Wednesday at the earliest.

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On a more positive note, my early retirement figures came through on Friday. They are looking like I expected, and I am going to take up the offer. My intention is to finish at the end of October, but ‘they’ have sort of thrown spanner in the works, so to speak. The figures from the pension company provide me an annual pension and a lump sum. But ‘spanner’ is that they have also offered to increase the lump sum, if I take a lower annual pension! So what do I do? K*** doesn’t know what would be best and I think I know, but cannot be sure. I’m going to give the figures to K***s father to look at, to see if he could advise. It is a bit of a quandary, but at least I don’t need to make that decision first. That can be decided at a later date, but it’s still a puzzle.

A Rant, A Query and a bit of a Moan


I’m going to start with a bit of a rant. I know I have mentioned this before, but I can knit. Not huge amounts of clothes but usually small crafty items, such as daffodils and hearts and the like. DaffsI’ve done it on and off since I as about 8 years old, and when I’m in the mood, I really enjoy it. Now the issue I have, is that nearly all the magazines and websites dedicated to knitting do not seems to tailor any  of their content to the male knitter. Men have always knitted, and while todays society is a little less ‘macho’ enforced it is still rare to see a man knitting in public. I’ve done it, and you do feel very self conscious. It is not until your public realise that it can be quite intricate and that you are quite good at it, that some semblance of normality creeps in.

It annoys me when you see articles about knitting STheSin magazines or on the internet, that they almost always show pictures of women with their needles (never call them pins!) in their hands. It is the same with sewing and embroidery … never men. I recently signed up to an online knitting forum, with the intention expressing my concerns in the area on male knitting. I was more than disappointed when my registration confirmation email, which was addressed to Anthony Huby, started with “Dear Ms …” I’m still awaiting comments on that first post!

Here endeth today’s rant.

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I’m pondering at the moment, as to what software to use to write. I have Microsoft Word, which I tend to use mostly. However, there are a lot of suggestions that I need to write with software that has a cleaner interface. By that I mean not as many ‘whistles and bells’. Something a little plainer. More than a simple text editor such as Wordpad though, and possibly software that is dedicated for writers.

The two top mentioned software applications seems to be Scrivener and yWriter. I found both very confusing to use. Scrivener was a trial version, and had a number of features that were not available, but even so, I found it difficult to understand. yWriter is freeware, but was even more confusing as it tries to concentrate your mind on breaking chapters down into what it calls ‘scenes’.

I have tried both but think I am going to go back to Word. It’s an application that I know quite well and have used for a long (long) time. I’m loathe to pay for more software (don’t like paying for anything if the truth were known) if what I have got does the job.

What do all you writers out there in WordPress land use, and just as importantly, is it free?

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Back to work tomorrow! Not looking forward to it at all. I still feel a little under the weather, but not ill enough to warrant any more time off. Of course, the question I always get asked (we have a ‘return to work interview’) will be “Are you back to 100%?” I’ve not been 100% for many years, I tend to hover around a normal level of around 92%, so the question always winds me up a little.

I’ll get the usual raised eyebrows when I mention I’ve been off with a ‘cold’. These are the same people that would complain if they caught a cold, that “…they got it from ‘so and so’ who has been sneezing all over the place …” Can’t win with a simple cold!See what I mean

We are also starting with a new telephone system tomorrow. It uses Skype for Business as its exchange and means that laptop users, which most of us are, will have to wear a headset, when making or receiving a phone call. I’m expecting to look like an overpaid telephonist (no offence). It is supposed to save the Council. The theory, as I understand it is that as we already use Skype for Business for instant messaging, using it as a phone does not coast any more. Training on the new system seems to be a bit sporadic, but as ‘The Team’ are classed as IT people, I think we are supposed to just get on with it. That part of tomorrow could be quite intriguing.

Just thinking out aloud …


I’ve had a WordPress blog account for a long time now. In fact looking back, it’s been almost ten years since my first post. There has been times when I have thought ‘…is it worth it…’ and ‘…who reads this…’ and there has been the odd time when I have just stopped writing for a couple of months. Basically, could not be bothered! But my anticipated early retirement has started me thinking, that I may have more time on my hands for writing. I am looking to go down the path of ‘creative writing’ with the intention of getting some work published. I not holding my breath on this, but I suppose we have to have a dream of sorts. To this end, I have been considering creating a second blog, which would be dedicated to my (intended) creative writing.

Many moons ago, I had a Blogger account which I was trying to use as a cross-posting blog. The idea was to upload the same post to WordPress and Blogger. It did not really get off the ground, and I abandoned the project after about four posts. There was no easy way of posting the same work to two separate without ‘copy and paste’ which did not work at all.

Over the past week or so, I have attempted to reinvigorate my Blogger account, but it still seems to be a lot more difficult to use than WordPress and the available themes not a patch on those that WordPress have to offer. This leads me to think, that a second WordPress account may be the way forward.

So a decision has to be made, and I think I am close to making that decision. Don’t be surprised if in the next month or so, some my posts have a test link to another WordPress blog.

Have you ever ?


Some time ago, I had a go at recording a Vlog. I think that’s the name for posting a video as a blog post. When I say ‘I had a go’ what I really mean is that I sat in front of my Webcam and tried to make a recording. It was as I expected a total disaster. So much so that it/they got deleted from my computer within minutes of watching it/them back.

I tried two ways of doing the recording. The first attempt was completely off the cuff. I prepared nothing at all and just spoke, as if I was writing. The problem with that method is that unless you are utterly focused you can just clam up. When I’m writing a post, such as this, I often will stop … pour a glass of wine …look at what my wife is watching on TV  and things like that. It never is a straight forward sit and write until it’s done. That doesn’t work with a video, unless you are an expert in video editing.

The second attempt saw me writing out my monologue/rant/story and trying to read as I recorded. Unfortunately, that is exactly what it looked like. Even though I had practised and rehearsed, it just looked like I was a 1950’s newsreader giving the headlines with no auto-cue. So I don’t really think the Vlog is for me. I may willing to have another go sometime in the future, the distant future, but I think I will need a lot of help if I’m to take it at all serious.

Writing prompts – this looks interesting …


For some time now I have struggled to get any kind of inspiration to write. Not just a blog post, but any kind of writing. It’s not writers block as I understand it, it’s just a lack of ideas. I’ve seen many places that will email you random words and/or subjects, but they don’t seem to do anything for me.

Then, while I was waiting to set off this morning, I came across this site: Writing Exercises.co.uk. It is a UK site that offers more that the usual writing prompts. I’ve not had a thorough delve into all its possibilities, but it looks very interesting. It also has an app for Android, but unfortunately no iPhone app.

I’m going to give it a try, and I’ll try and post any resulting pieces of work, that look at least reasonable.

(I don’t think this post will count though ….. )