A few pics and a bit of writing …


I have recently been updating my ‘Google Sites‘ page. It’s a strange thing, but until a couple of months ago, I had forgotten I had the site. I have been asking one or two ex-colleagues and they tell me that we all created one as part of our departmental social network. It was back in 2009 and I never really used it at work, in fact I didn’t put anything on the site until the middle of last year when I received an email telling me that the site needed some maintenance. All that meant was that I needed to add a recovery email.

It’s not as intuitive as Google Blogger and like the way WordPress seems to be heading, content is created in blocks. Since I have the site, I thought I might as well use it, but I didn’t know what I would use it for. It then struck me. I do a little bit of ‘creative writing'(?) and was tending to put little bits on my Google blog, but it’s a quite boring site and I don’t really know what I can do there. With having this paid blog on here, it didn’t really make any sense to use Blogger. But I didn’t want to post my writing attempts on WordPress, as I thought I would have to create a new page to put the musings, to keep them separate and I didn’t want to do that. I think some blogs can look a bit messy with many pages.

So that’s what my ‘Google Sites‘ is going to be used for. Because scrolling through a long page full of text may be a little tiring, I have interspersed the writing with some of my photographs. All the writing is my own, and one day I shall bundle them all together and publish my own book, although it will probably be some kind of eBook. It is still a ‘work in progress’ but I will keep updating it (when I remember.)

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 .

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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.



Is it that important ?


I was driving back from picking up a parcel from Argos. The road is a single carriageway and whilst not like a switch-back, there are some tightish bends. The majority of the time, the speed limit it 50mph, but for a stretch of about 2 – 2½ miles, the limit is 40mph. Many people ignore this limit as you would expect. So I was motoring along in 50mph zone when I noticed in my mirror that an Audi was tailgating me. Honestly, he was that close, I could almost smell his aftershave. He kept moving nearer the centre of the road to try and pass, but the traffic on the other side was to busy. Of course, when drivers do that to me, I tend to slow down. So now I’m travelling at 42/43mph and I can see he is getting irritated as he now has to slow down. Soon we get to a stretch of road that is a long bend. It is not tight, and he sees his chance to get past. I’m now up to the correct speed, so he has to go at least 65mph to pass me. Which of course he does.

When you get to the end of the bend, and the road begins to straighten, there is a layby and that is where the mobile speed camera usually sits. Not every day, but most days. Today was one those days. A mile further up the road and my Audi friend is waived into the next layby by the waiting police patrol car. I tried not to laugh.

So is his journey so important that he has to drive in that manner?

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Over the past year or so, I have had the tendency to ‘follow back’ most who followed my blog. But it had got the stage where I was following over 200 sites. Many of these were commercial sites trying to sell me something and many hadn’t posted anything for some time. So this morning, before I went out, I sat down and went through all those that follow me and ‘un-followed’ anyone who had not posted for more than a month. There was one follower that had not posted since 2016! I have an idea that most will not even notice and the majority of those that do notice, will not care. I’m now down to a more reasonable 103.

So if you are one of the above, it’s nothing personal.

It’s a mystery …


Well, I think it’s unnerving as well as a mystery. Usually, as a matter of courtesy, when somebody decides to follow me, I will take a look at their blog/site to see if it is something that may interest me. A few weeks ago, a ‘person‘ (called @mmcadmintx) followed me. I clicked on the name and WordPress tells me that the site cannot be found. the only thing that comes up their Gravatar profile. So ‘taking my bat and ball home’ I removed the follower and thought that was that. But no! Three days later, a notification pops up telling me that ‘mmcadmintx‘ is now following me. Another trip to the People setting and another removal takes place. Again, within three to four days, this follower is back. I was starting to get a little concerned about who this persistent ‘person’ was and what if anything did I need to do about it.

I posted a support request on the WordPress Forum to see if they could come up with any ideas. They basically told me that their domain had probably expired and just to ignore them. Apparently, there is no facility to ‘block’ anyone who wants to read a post. I did a few Googles on the name and eventually came up with “http://www.momoneyclues.com” as the source of the follower. It turns out that it is/was a help site for people who had money problems. The site doesn’t look like it is still in use as when I put the URL into a browser, I end up at a site to buy cheap domain names. So I’ll remove the site from my follow list and take it from there.

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It bothers me a little that anyone can follow a blog, and there is nothing you can do to stop them. WordPress doesn’t think that it is an issue. My site is public so the public and the person that follows is part of the public. Maybe it is time to have a facility to block fake followers or followers we do not want.

Last of the Year . . .


This is the last (probably) post of 2019 and in a spirit of adventure, I am attempting to use the WordPress ‘Block Editor’ as opposed to my usual editor ‘Open Live Writer’. I’ve used Open Live Writer (OLW)ever since the demise of the Windows Live Writer (WLW). The last release of WLW, which was part and parcel of the the Microsoft Essentials package, was back in 2012 and the software was finally discontinued in 2017.

I have also used Microsoft Word as my editor, which given the complexity of that software, works quite well. At the end of the day, you have work with what works best for you, and as OLW is very simple to use, I’m probably going to stick with that. Although it has not been updated since 2017 which may mean I have to think again soon.

I am not entirely convinced that the Block Editor is for me. I think it might take me a little more time to get used to it, but for now I think I will stick to Open Live Writer. Better the devil you know and all that.

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So I’ll just wish everyone a Happy New Year, and here’s to the next one

“What’s It All About … Alfie ?


It’s the question I get asked most if the subject of my blog crops up. Well the word “Alfie” isn’t usually part of the quest, Cillaalthough someone did sing that line to me on one occasion. However, it confuses most people when I tell them that it’s “About nothing, but then again about any and everything” And that’s more or less what it’s about. What I want to say and when I want to say it. I don’t have a theme. I tried that when WorkI first started with Blogger and failed, although the “From then to now” posts do have a sort of theme running through them. So this is possibly one of the reasons my posts are more random than some other blogs. Something could affect me today and I’ll post about it and then something else could happen tomorrow and I would post about that. Then it could be a couple of weeks before I’m ready to write again.

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It’s funny how politics and scandal seem to invade everyday conversation these days. The subject of Boris and the alleged ‘thigh METOOgrab’ came up at work on Monday. My colleague was completely bewildered by why she did not do anything about it at the time. I did try and explain, that 20 years ago someone who is trying to establish themselves and build a career simply did not ‘tell tales’ about an employer. If they did, it could have serious repercussions. It is only since the ‘#me too’ allegations came to the fore, that incidents are now being exposed.

That’s enough ‘politics’ for now. Normal service will be resumed in due course.


Ridiculous pricing, From Then to Now and other things …


Unfortunately, my From Now to Then series has had to be put on hold for a while. The friend I ask to ‘proof read’ the posts is not going to be available for the next few weeks. He is in the process of changing jobs which has resulted in him emigrating to Canada. So for the next few weeks or so he only has internet access on his smart phone. Once he is settled, he has promised to continue helping. After all, I need to be as accurate as my memory serves me and it needs to be libellous free. Hopefully it will be not too long as I still have a few things to tell.

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Recently, I was asked by a friend if I could do a bit of shopping for him. All he wanted was some blade for his razor. He has a famous brand of razor that uses multi blade cartridges. They are disposable Razorand simply click into 2 Bladethe handle. Very popular as they are supposed to give a very close shave. I have never really found them to my taste as I was put off by those horrible two blade disposable razors that were becoming fashionable in the mid 1970’s. I found them very uncomfortable to hold and use, and could never get more than two or three shaves before they were put in the bin.

But to the point of this moan. I went straight to a well known supermarket and sought out the ones my friend had asked for, only to find that the pack had eight cartridges and cost just over £22. I thought that they must be cheaper than that somewhere. I tried B**ts and they were more Shaving 1expensive there and the price in Sup***rug was the same. I was very shocked to see that the packs also had security tags to prevent theft. I bought some, but vowed never to buy them for myself.

This is my wet shaving setup. The soap-mug was a present, so I don’t know the cost. The soap was bought from the previously mentioned supermarket and was about £4.00. But the real bargain was the razor and the blades. The razor was bought Bladeson eBay and cost me £2.99 postage free. I came with a pack of 5 double edged blade, an comes with its own storage box. I also bought a pack of Astra blades. They came in a box of 10 packets, each packet had 5 blades. Price, including postage £2.00. But the real bargain was the soap brush. I had originally priced them up as around £6.00 for a ‘genuine badger’ bristle. The ones I got are natural bristle and there were 10 for £6.50, and they are just as good. I usually wet shave twice a week and have an electric razor for the other days, as it is often quicker.

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At the beginning of last week I noticed a new bird in the garden. It was small, rounded, grey with a few white spots and a Diamond  Dovered ring around it’s eyes. I did a little probing around the internet and discovered that it could have been a Diamond Dove. This seemed a ridiculous notion as the bird is native of Australia. Now I know migratory birds can travel huge distances but this thing seemed far too small to travel very far. I took a picture and used, what I now know is Google Lens to try and properly identify the creature. Google Lens confirmed that the bird was in fact a Diamond Dove. I can only assume that it had been in somebodies local aviary and it escaped. It was with us up until around Thursday waddling around on the ground picking up seeds that the Starlings drop from the feeder. It now seems to have gone, which is a shame.

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September sees races in the UCI World Cycling Championship being held in Yorkshire. The main racing takes place between the 22nd and 26th, but on the 21st one of the YorkshiBuntingre 2019 Para-Cycling International legs is starting locally in Wetherby. A local Knitting/Craft shop has been  given permission to have knitted bunting both sides of a 1/2 stretch of the route. So a call had gone out for local knitters to create some bunting in the right colours. I managed to knit 20 triangles making 4 sets. I could have done another five, but was running short of a couple of the colours.

School days memory …


For some time now, I have been following a blog written by someone who went to the same primary school as I did. Recently it became apparent that we were in the same year group, but not the same academic stream. After completing the 1st year in class ‘1a’, I was moved down into the ‘b’ stream where I stayed for the rest of the time.

The main memory that  this blogger’s post triggered was leaving Primary School and moving to Secondary School. The year is 1965 and I’m thinking it is around September/October time. My father had left his job Coal Mineas a reasonably well paid coal miner because of health problems, and was now working as a bus conductor for what was then the West Yorkshire Road Car company. Times were beginning to get quite tough. Our house was heated by coal fires and as a miner we received, every three months a concessionary supply of coal. What I mean by the word ‘concessionary’ is free. Every three months we would have 1 cwt of coal dropped into the street, which was quickly shovelled into the coal cellar. After leaving the coal industry, this free coal stopped. That and the reduction in dad’s wages were beginning to bite a little.

I seem to remember both my parents and me sitting in the classroom, with my form teacher (may have been a Mr Woods, Roundhay High Schoolbut I cannot remember) discussing my Secondary education. It was quite plausible it was said that I could go to the Grammar School at Roundhay. I had heard through my school friends at the time that this would be an expensive time. I would have to have a full School Uniform. This consisted of a blazer ( least one) two pairs of black trousers,  a number white shirts, a school tie and a pair of black lace-up shoes. There was also a football kit, rugby kit and a PE kit. There was no way my parents could afford that Not meamount of spend. There was a discussion around the fact, that all this uniform was available at a certain store in Leeds, but … it was possible to buy the same clothes as second hand from the school. That was a non-starter, as I had heard on the school grapevine, that everyone would know they were second hand, simply by their condition. This would automatically lead to bullying. I was not going to have that. I began to hope that I would fail my “11 Plus”.

The two subjects that I was apparently good at were Arithmetic and Religious Education. I began to wonder what would happen if I made a mess of those two subjects and I decided to ensure that I would answer some the questions incorrectly. Which is what I did. To this day nobody believes me, but I know I did get some questions wrong on purpose, so who knows. All I know is that I ended up going to the school I preferred and not the Grammar school.

Should I, could I? …


Back in 2016, a few months before I retired I heard a rumour that my old school was going to have a reunion. This was to coincide with the ‘celebrations’ marking 50 years since the England football World Cupteam actually won the World Cup. I asked the school friend that I mentioned in my last post if he knew anything but he had not heard anything. I did a bit of Googling, but nothing about a reunion turned up. I did however see a name, linked with the school. The person, I’ll call him “Eric”, was not at the school for very long. He started at the same time, but after about 4 or 5 weeks he left. His father was an English teacher and had got a job in South Africa. As a consequence we did not have much to do with him. I remember him because he was the same size as me and had the same side parting hairstyle. He was on “Linked in” and I ended up sending him a message just out of curiosity. Turned out he is a University lecturer now, but in Australia. We messaged a couple of times, but he was more into Skype and Facetime video messaging which is something I avoid like the plague. As with a lot of these things, the messages dropped off and I only hear from him at Christmas and birthdays.

Then in March this year, out of the blue he emailed me with a pdf document. He had written his autobiography and thought I would like a copy to “…remind me of bygone times…” To be brutally honest, it was dire. I’m no writing guru, but I could have done it better Biowithout trying. Lots of sentences starting with ‘And then…’ or ‘The next day…’ or ‘After that…” For the son of an English teacher, it could not have been worse. But it got me thinking. Should I and could I do my own autobiography? It could not be any worse than “Eric’s” and I would not be publishing it. I wouldn’t want to do a ‘birth to now’ type, but I could concentrate on my work life. It then struck me that I could write it as a series of blog posts, taking say 5 years at a time and writing about the best bits.

So guess what? I’m going to give it a go. I need to work out some kind of time-line and highlight key points and dates before I start, but I think it may just work. So as the saying goes …

Watch

Change to my blog settings …


Just trying a change to the feed setting on my blog. Not sure if it will make any difference, but I’ve been told that it may drive more traffic to my site. I’ve been Feed Settingsadvised that I should limit the feed content to an excerpt of the post. This, I’ve been told will mean that readers will have to visit my site to read the full post. As I say, I’m not sure it will improve my stats, but I will monitor the situation and make any changes that are necessary.

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.


Still going – just …


The issues with the laptop continue, although they seem to be not as bad as they were at the beginning of the week. After reading some the comments online, I’m more and more convinced that at least some of the problems are linked with the last Windows update. The annoying thing is that whereas at one time you could choose to update or not, now it is more or less forced onto you. I also think. that there may be some compatibility issues with some of the software I’m using. However, it is looking likely that I may have to bite the bullet and get a new one, with all the issues that brings.

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Coming back to my Blog Editor trials, I thought last night when R*** was using my laptop, that I had forgotten to include BlogPad Pro app on my iPad. It worked quite well when we were away and providing I can upload the manual to my phone, for reference, it might just be a contender. I have decided against using Notepad as it would me more effort than it’s worth copying and pasting, so I’m going to cross that of the list. This post is being written with my favourite application, Open Live Writer. This is the one that I started having problems with which prompted my testing.

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The village seems to be the target of a couple of gangs of thieves. Properties are being broken into and it appears that the thieves are after the car keys of high-end vehicles. These  cars are then stolen and either shipped abroad or broken-up for the valuable parts. The local primary school was also hit, but that was for the laptops. It’s a bit of a worrying time for all.

(Written with Open Live Writer)

Decisions, decisions …


When I first had the idea of creating a blog, I sought some online advice as to how I could go about getting my thoughts online. It became apparent, quite quickly that the free version of WordPress was the way to go. I toyed with Blogger, but it seemed to lack any kind of quality so I went for WordPress.

Much of the advice centred on the software I could/should WLWuse to get my message into the blog. Quite a few people said that if I wanted an off-line editor, then there was not much to fault the built-in Windows program “Windows Live Writer” or WLW as it became known. This was part of a suite of applications called  “Windows Live Essentials” that came, ready to use with Microsoft Windows. It seemed the most logical way to go, and most of my earliest posts were written using WLW. Then, OLWas is usual with Microsoft, it was announced that Windows Live Essentials was being run down and no further development work would be done. Around about the same time coincidently, a piece of software appeared called “Open Live Writer” (OLW). This was an open-sourced version of Windows Live Writer set to replace the former. I have used this now for a long time, being my prefered editor.

Now to the point. Over the past few months, I have had a couple of occasions when uploading a post from OLW, that the upload fails and the post is lost (the draft post seems to get corrupted). The problem is that there has been no development work on OLW for some time, and it is now beginning to show its age. In fact a post that I was going to upload yesterday failed and was lost. So now, Im beginning to think that it is time to move on again and choose anothe blog editor for my laptop.

I’ve done a little research and have come up with the following options:

  • Continue with OLW
  • Use the WordPress editor (this was written with the WP editor)
  • Blogdesk
  • Microsoft Word
  • Windows Notepad and paste into the WP editor or
  • some other paid for application (not my ideal choice)

So for the next few posts, I will be writing using a different method each time to test which I find is the most suitable method.

(Written using WordPress editor)

 

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.