It had to go . . .


For quite some time now, I have been a moderate fan of MSN News. I say moderate, because while it’s definitely not the the best news portal on the internet, it’s one of the easiest to navigate. It is certainly better than the BBC news service, which seems to be quite biased in it’s reporting sometimes. I decided this morning that MSN News no longer offers what I like to read about. It’s not so much the actual news that’s the problem though.

Recently the comments has been restored and although I like to read comments (some of them are laughable) there seems to be a hard core of commentators that express their opinion on every story, regardless of the topic. They seem to range from hard right wing extremists to conspiracy theorists to simple sales pitchers, all hiding behind pseudonyms. Comment moderation appears to happen only when some reader reports the comment, even when the comment is blatantly offensive to a section of the community.

So it has to go. For now, I have replaced my news digest portal with the online version of The Huffington Post. Most of the big national UK newspapers require to ‘subscribe’ to their website/newspaper in order to read full articles and I for one am not prepared to do that. It is simply a matter of cost. The average price is between £6.00 to £18.00 per week.

Stress and Tech – hand in hand


A bit of a stressful week this week. Our broadband contract was due to expire at the end of the month, and although it would continued (they usually do with Sky) the cost would have escalated quite a way, based on the initial quote they gave us. So they “invite” us to call them to see if we can get a better deal. My wife deals old routerwith this kind of thing, as I don’t have the patience and whilst on the call on Monday asked about a new Router. We have always been told, by new routerSky to ask about equipment whenever we renew, even if there’s not a problem, which there wasn’t. The person that she dealt with said that there would be no problem and that there would be a new one in the post that day. As good as her word, the new router arrived on Wednesday morning.

The first issue that we were hit with was that is was about 1 inch wider and longer allPig in Mud round. It also was an upright one as opposed to the flat one we were used to. This meant a whole rearrangement of my desk for the thing to fit. After a bit of “huffing” and “puffing” I managed to place it in the best position. Now came the mammoth task of setting up all the devices with the new router. However, I was in my element doing this. It brought many memories from my work life. Dashing from device to device with my check-list and passwords, I was like a pig in a muddy puddle.

Then I hit the first real problem!

The new router would not connect to the Sky Q box! I tried everything, but it just would not happen. This of course meant that many of the features that came with the contract were not available. For example, we could not open Netflix. It also meant that the youngest son’s TV and mini box didn’t Help-Deskwork either. Not although he probably won’t be back here until April, we needed to get it fixed straight away. My wife rang Sky and after a 45 minute wait in a queue managed to explain the problem. The phone was passed to me to go through some troubleshooting (which I had already done) before the help-desk operator decided that an engineer was required. He was booked in for Thursday between 12:00 an 17:00. 

Then came problem two!

The printer we use is a wi-fi connected printer that we all share. the new router would not connect to the printer. I followed all the included instructions (again!) but still nothing. By now, I was beginning to get a little Printerbit annoyed. I looked online at the HP printer site and followed all their ‘helpful’ ideas, but to no avail. In the end, Google came to my rescue. And it was a simple fix. All I needed to do was to uninstall the printer, then reinstall it. Next problem. The printer installation media was on a DVD and this laptop does not have one. I ended up downloading the installation software from the internet. After that, it all went really smoothly which just left the Sky Q box not connected and the help desk advised that the engineer would get everything working, one way or another.

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The engineer duly arrived at the appointed time and we conducted the call through the living room window. They are not allowed into the house because of the virus. We went through a number of questions. and heCable asked what the new router was. When he saw it he said there had been some problems with that type. We proceed to try and connect using an ethernet cable, which worked straight away. But as soon as the cable was removed, the connection was lost. He came up with two solutions: number one was to permanently connect with a cable, but that would mean lifting the carpet to hide the cable which was not a good idea. Option two was to revert back to the old router. That seemed the best idea, and he gave us the latest model of the old one. Once plugged in, all the problems went away, although I still had to reinstall the printer again.

Once again, I spent an hour doing my impression of a “pig in a puddle” whilst I connected all the devices, but touch wood, there are no more issues.

I suppose, at the end of the day, that the old maxim “If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it” applies here.

 

 

Taking Christmas down …


As I understand it, the Christian calendar has today (5th January) as being “Twelfth Night”. It is the time when the three Wise Men/Kings visited the new born 3 Wise Menchild. Some cultures have Twelfth Night as the 6th as they count Boxing Day as the 1st day of Christmas. Traditionally, in the West it is the day when Christmas gets put back into the loft, for at least the next 340 days.

So today is the start of the time when you suddenly realise what it has actually cost. This is Credit Cardwhen those credit card bills start to hit the floor and you begin to wonder how on earth you are going to pay for it all. But most people do manage to pay for it, even if it does take until next November.

The worst part of “Taking Christmas Down” and I think a lot will agree is Missedthat there is always that one lone decoration that gets missed. Stuck in an obscure place that you never even think to look at, it sits there all alone. Until that is, when you get a visitor that spots it and you have to either tell them that you’re keeping that one up or laugh embarrassingly at your own incompetence. Hate it!

Of course then there is the tree to deal with. If it’s a real cut tree, you have to find some Xmas Tree way of getting rid of it. Back in the day when I was young, all you did was leave next to your dustbin and the ‘bin-men’ would take it away. Now of course, that rarely happens and it means either a trip to the tip or paying someone. If it is one of those artificial trees, you have the difficulty of getting it back in the bag/box that it came out of. Not an easy task. Last year we bought a small living tree in a pot, and it stood on the deck outside for nearly twelve months. It is in a smallish pot, to try and stunt its growth a little, but it managed to put on about 23/26 cms in height. It just went in the place we wanted, but I doubt it will go there next year.

Welcome to another year


     Well 2013 arrived, and the expected, and dreaded firework trauma did not happen. We had given R***  1mg of his PRN medication at around 23:15, as a precaution. But we had none of the usual ‘incidents’ that we have had over that past four or five years. To be honest, there was not as many fireworks going off around here, as we normally get. In fact, there were more on Christmas Day than last night. So the question is: why was he better last night than before? The “psych’s” will tell us that it was the drugs that settled him and they will try and use it to give credence to solutions. I rather think, that it was just the lack of the fireworks that did it. Whatever it was, it was 1000% better than previous years.

     I find it rather disturbing, that for a country that is in such a dire financial situation, we still have money to waste on the New Year Celebrations. The London fireworks lasted for 15 minutes. How much must that have cost ? There would be the actual cost of the fireworks (22,000 in total). Then the cost of the organisation and planning. Where did all this money come from ? And the scenes were repeated, albeit on a smaller scale, throughout the country. If we are a country with such a large deficit that we are cutting welfare payments to the most needy, do we really need to ‘burn’ so much money just because the number of the year changed ?

All’s well (I think)


The first day in the new job went quite well. I say that from my perspective, I have no idea what anyone else thought. I got treated to lunch, which was nice. I do have to talk about this though. When I was transfering some of my stuff on Friday, I was asked if I liked curry. I said I did, and two of the people I’m working with (B***n and R**i) suggested that we go for a curry lunch on Tuesday (yesterday). This sounded too good to be true, and I was well up for it. Back at the old office, D*** was trying to work out where there was a curry house nearby, and was struggling.

So the big day arrives, and I settle in nicely. everyone is very welcoming and any apprehension I had was starting to fade a little. I was given the ‘grand tour’ and the essential places )kitchen and toilets) were pointed out. Lunchtime came and we went off in B***ns car. On the way, he explained, that the place we were going to was a local community centre, Hamara, that served healthy food to the neighbourhood. Hmmm I thought to myself, doesn’t sound like what I had expected. We arrived, and went into what they call the cafe. We got an extremely friendly welcome as we moved towards to serving hatch. “Three mixed” said B***n and he pulled out some money to pay. He told me that he would pay for my first curry. Well, I have never seen anything like it !!! It was a large plate, covered with a fried rice (to the depth of about one inch !!) topped with a Keema type of meat curry, a chickpea curry and a potato curry. This was then topped with mixed salad and an absolute gorgeous yoghurt dressing/riata. Very nice you may be thinking, and it was. The problem, was the amount ! It was a vast plate of food !!! It would have fed me, K**h and S***e, without any problems. I think I managed about one third before I gave in.Ii just could not eat that amount of food on a lunch time. Cost ???? £3.50 per plateful. You cannot even get a good sandwich for that price. I had a very small meal at dinner time that night, I can tell you.

Today was a transition meeting for R**s. It was supposed to be a meeting to sort out the finer points of his care package at the college. We are looking to send him to a day placement college, with an eventual view to him being in ‘shared care’. However, the college dropped a bit of a bombshell today, when they told us that they were no longer doing day placements on the main site. They kind of explained that they had had to have a restructure due to staffing, and they were only offering full residential care. this is not some thing we wanted at this time. However, they could offer the same type of placement at their other site. We did not know what to say. A bit displeased that they had not told us before the meeting, as they had known for a couple of weeks what was happening. Still their other site looks like it could offer a similar care package. We are going to have another look at the place in a week or two, but I think we have no choice. There is nothing else suitable locally, and this company was always the best option. Just not this site. Some stressful times ahead.