Beyond belief …


Sometimes, things happen that are quite honestly “Beyond Belief.” Our youngest son sometimes proves that. R… is 28 and Autistic. We are gradually phasing him in to full time residential. At present he goes on Monday morning and returns 11 days later for a weekend visit. He gives us the impression that he really enjoys  his life there.

ppeHe has a regular care-team, his own flat and his own motorbility car. During the ‘lock-down’ he went on the 23rd March and did not return until 10th July. Then again he went on the 19th October and was not allowed home, under the rules until 11th December.

All this, he seemed to take in his stride. In fact, we were more stressed and traumatised than he seemed to be. His care team kept us well informed  and rang everyday to let us know what he had been up to and with a weekly FaceTime we just about got through it.

White-one.jpgNow the interesting thing is that his daily life there is different to here. He does things there that we could never even dream he would do. When he is here, his daily routine is to sit in his room, with his laptop and TV. He will come downstairs for his lunch, then goes back to his room and that is it. Occasionally he will come back downstairs and use my laptop for a while.

Whilst in his flat, and this is the thing that amazes us, he takes on household jobs. We have photos of him mopping his kitchen floor, cooking his dinner (usually beans or sausage rolls) loading the washing machine and various other tasks around the place.

He was able to come here for Christmas, although there were times when it looked impossible, but his care-manager and all the teams put enough precautions in place for it to happen, so on Christmas Eve he came home. He would have had to come here anyway as he has a hospital appointment on Tuesday at which his legal guardian (horrible phrase) has to be present.

Now, on Christmas morning, we witnessed first hand something Lichfield Cathedralthat completely amazed us both. In fact, I still cannot get my head around it. My wife and me were downstairs getting things ready, as you do when I that he hadn’t had his morning drink of milk. I took his cup upstairs.

There was some typical Christmas church music playing and I assumed that my wife had not turned the radio off. How wrong I was. Normally, he would have one of the children’s channels on his TV , and he would also have a children’s YouTube video playing on his laptop.

CanterburyNot today. The TV was turned down and he had on his laptop a video of a Christmas church service. This played for an hour and a half before he started another similar video. I later found out that the first one was the Christmas Eve service from Lichfield Cathedral from 2000 and the second one was the previous nights service from Canterbury Cathedral.

By lunchtime he was back to watching old episodes of The Telly Tubbies as if nothing had happened. He did used to go to the local church to see the Christmas service when he was a school, but how he made the decision to watch that kind of video at that particular times, amazed us both

Difficult day tomorrow …


The youngest goes back to his residential place tomorrow. He has been home for the weekend which he does every fortnight. He knows he is going and we think (you never can tell) that he is looking forward to it. He sits at his computer desk with his legs crossed and waits for his transport to arrive. Then it’s a quick flick through a couple of YouTube videos and he comes downstairs to go.

He has a diary/calendar that shows when he goes away and the day he returns, as one of his Autism traits is that he needs to know what is happening. If he knows, then he seems to accept things better. It’s basically an Excel spreadsheet with different coloured cells for different events.

Tomorrow is different. Tomorrow he goes, and because of the restrictions, he will not be coming home until mid-December. This is different from the last time, during lock-down. Last time we didn’t know it would happen and there was no other option. This time, we do know and we could have had the option of him staying here with us. It may sound harsh, but he is better off in an environment that we know he enjoys, with staff that enjoy looking after him. When he is home, all he wants to do is be in his room. He will not go out unless it is on his planner, so it becomes very frustrating all round. He had to go for his flu-jab yesterday, and it took us nearly an hour to get him to go. Thankfully, the nurses at the surgery know him and were aware that he might be a little late. But they got there on time and all was well. The staff at the surgery are quite amazed that he just lets them do the injection, although he is like me (another story), he has to watch the needle going in so it doesn’t make him jump.

He does not know that he will not be coming home in ‘11 sleeps‘ as his staff will explain on Tuesday. He accepted it then, and it was felt that he may not want to go back if we told him. Very difficult decision.

Technology …


It’s not been the best of starts technology wise, today. I got and realised that my new iPad had not been on charge overnight. That in itself was not too much of an issue, as this new tablet seems to hold its charge very well. No, the problem I had was that the screen had frozen. Not only that but I could do nothing with it. All the ‘help’ sites told me to power off the iPad, but the power switch did nothing. So it wasn’t just the screen that had frozen, but the entire tablet just did nothing. You may be able to imagine the string of expletives that were forthcoming.

Nothing that I tried worked. I had a vague recollection that you could connect an iPad to iTunes on a laptop and ‘do something’ but couldn’t remember what, so I gave it a go. I was still at the time searching online for any sort of help and I came across a site that explained that whilst connected to iTunes, if I held the power button down and tapped the home button, this would refresh the screen. It was a work around for older tablets, but I had nothing to lose. Remarkably, it worked! I was ‘back in the room’ I think the phrase is.

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Then came ‘tech-prob’ number two.

Mrs Me wanted some cleaner for her contact lens’s. I checked on eBay and there was going to be £10.99 plus £6.00 postage, which made it more expensive then going the opticians and buying it. Now I rarely use Amazon as I often think their prices are a bit on the high side, but I checked and they had the product, and it was selling at £13.90 postage free. So, I ordered some. Then I got an email saying that my payment had been declined. I thought I had set up a PayPal payment option, but it seems payments are direct from my debit card, which had just been updated/renewed, so the expiry date was incorrect.

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So all in all, not a good start.

Internet abuse …


You may be aware that I work part-time in a local café. One of the many features of this café, is their free Wi-Fi. The access Wi-Ficode is displayed for anyone to use if you know where to look. Most customers will use the Wi-Fi for what it is there for i.e. so they can check their emails or show someone pictures on their phone, that kind of thing. However, there is an increasing number of customers that seem to visit the café with the sole purpose of accessing the the free internet.

On Tuesday this week, I arrived at work around 10:20, which is my usual time and noticed a customer sat at a 4 seater table. He had his laptop open and was also using his phone. I also noticed he was wearing Mikea pair of headphones and one of those ‘cheek mikes’ that seem to be the norm these days. I hovered around his table for a few seconds before entering the kitchen and realised that he was conducting some kind of interview Customerswith somebody. Over the course of the next couple of hours, he still seemed to be talking to someone and on a couple of occasions, he got quite animated. He eventually left at around 12:45, or at least that’s when I noticed he had gone. From what I could see, he had drunk one cup of coffee and who knows how many glasses of free water. I mentioned to the chef that he had gone and he explained that he had been sat at the table since about 09:00. Just one cup of coffee!! The table staff have been told not to move people on, but to keep asking if they require anything else. They call  it ‘good customer service’. But what about the ‘good customer service’ for the customers who cannot get a seat?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting free Wi-Fi in places I visit, but come on … lets not abuse it.



It comes in three’s …


Luck, that is. Or so people say. Well If it’s right, then I’ve just had my ‘three’ with eBay. The first one, with the mouses (mice … meece…?) was resolved, but since then another two issues have occurred. Both of them are leading up to a successful conclusion, but it’s the time and the trouble to sort out the problem that’s the real issue.

When I bought my new laptop, I did not realise that most do not come with a CD/DVD reader anymore. So it came as a bit of a shock when I found out. ‘No worries’ I thought, they DVD Writerare as cheap as chips on the internet, I’ll just buy a USB  one. The one I found wasn’t the cheapest, but it was a UK seller that appeared to have a good reputation, well from most of the reviews at least. It arrived and it was about a week before I had the chance to try it out. Guess what? It didn’t work. I tried various combinations of connecting, but nothing seemed to have any effect. What was happening was quite strange. I have two stand alone USB hard drives (labelled D: and E:), and when the DVD drive was connected, the E: drive disappeared from the device list. After a few message between me and the seller, we both came to the conclusion that the drive must faulty. It is now just waiting for me to go to the post office and then I can get a refund.

Now comes the third issue. I have an old laptop, which plods along as a spare. It has it’s own printer, which I tend to use for printing text documents. It is not good enough for photos, but it is otherwise Ink Cartridgeokay. Because of this, I usually buy compatible ink cartridges to save cost. The only problem is that the printer does not show the correct ink level, but I can live with that. So when the colour ink ran out, I sought to buy another one. Of course, it had to be eBay again. The company I used was based on the Channel Islands (they all seem to be) and it arrived four days after buying. It came with the usual fitting instructions and a brief trouble shooting guide. Back to the guessing game … it did not work. The printer software was telling me that the cartridge was faulty. I used the trouble shooting guide and tried again. Still no luck. ‘Here we go again!’ I thought. A message to the seller brought a quick response, and after a few more messages back and forth, a replacement is on it’s way. So that’s the three bits of ‘bad luck’ with eBay (hopefully).

I just need the the bits of good luck, and I banking on the National Lottery for that.

More on that to follow.

It is getting there …


I picked up the new laptop on Thursday. K*** ordered it Wednesday afternoon and it was ready for collection Thursday lunchtime. The thing with Argos and her cash-back site Happy bunny was a non-starter as her cashback site no longer deals with Argos. So that was a bit of a Happydisappointment. But we still managed to get a bit of a discount through her staff credit card (I think!!). So actually I’m what you might call a bit of a “happy bunny” so to speak.

I am now in the process of getting the machine up to the status/position that my last lappy was in. I speak of course about the software and applications that I’m used to. I think I have got to about 90% normal, but I’m fully aware that there will be some stuff I use that I have forgotten.

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Without meaning to get too technical, I decided to shy away from the more common names. The last two machines have been Asus and R*** has an AcerThe new beast. Both Asus machine have failed, but the Acer is doing okay. Other alternative in my price range were Dell and HP, both of which I used to use at work and they were a bit on the hefty side. This time, after reading a few reviews I went for a Lenovo. It has the same keyboard layout as the Asus machine, so R*** would be happy using it and it just looked the better machine.

I was quite surprised how easy it was to set up. Microsoft seems to have put in some work in the user set-up procedure. The machine talked me through the whole process, which is something that has never happened before. So all in all, I’m well satisfied … hope this continues.

Gone to meet its maker I think …


I knew it would happen at some point. It’s been a bit off for a week or two now. Then a week last Thursday, there was a major issue starting it! Before I go further, I need to explain what I’m talking about. My trusty (?) and faithful (?)Laptop laptop gave up the ghost last Sunday. Thursday issue was very scary. The stupid machine just would not re-boot. I had just updated some software and it needed a restart to finish. Some three hours later, I finally managed to get it going. Everything appeared to be working fine, if a little slower than White onebefore. All was good on following Saturday, but then just after R*** had finished his lunch the bl**dy machine started playing up again. Serious this time. It took 5 hours to get from switching on to getting to a usable state. So a bit of a panic to ensure that R*** could use my laptop after his dinner. I managed to get his old laptop up and running and logged in as me. His “old” laptop was the same model as mine, but his was white. There had been a problem with it early last year, whilst on his respite. We think that someone had turned the laptop off during an update, which totally wrecked the machine. In November I read an article about how to update a computer to the latest version of Widows, free. So now the ‘White Laptop’ was running with  Windows 10 and Internet Explorer 11. Panic over and we would be hopefully safe from any problems.

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Last night, I was busy doing a crossword when found I could not work out a word that I did not have all the letters for. “I know,” I thought to myself “I’ll use The Sage” only to find that it was not on this laptop. The Sage The Sage screenshotis a dictionary, thesaurus and anagram solver. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that is what I tend to use it for. I then realised that there were a few programs/applications that I used to use but were not on the ‘white’ laptop. I fired up the old machine to try and identify some of the software that I was missing. This time it only took 45 minutes to start, which was a great improvement on last Sunday. I think I have got all I need, although my full back-up seems a lot smaller than before, so maybe I need to check that.

Can’t believe it worked …


This might get a little bit ‘techy’ so look away now, if you’re uninterested.

The youngest son has two laptop computers. He has an old Windows 7 machine that he keeps in his bedroom. He uses it to watch YouTube videos, and that’s about all. His other machine is a Windows 10 laptop thatNontworking lappy he takes when he is on respite and sleeping away. Some months ago, we got a message that the laptop he took away had a problem. When he got home I found that the machine was stuck in a ‘Repairing Windows’ loop. The IT people at his respite could do nothing with it and neither could I. So for the past six months it has sat at the back of the sofa doing nothing.

Fast forward to the beginning of November and an interesting article on a news-feed that I subscribe to. The article related to updating Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10, for free. The so called ‘offer’ from Microsoft(MS) to upgrade to Windows 10 expired some time last year, but the article explained that it was still available, and it gave instructions on how to get it. After reading the article a few times, I began to think that I may be able to do something with the trashed laptop. At worst it would still be trashed and at best it could  be a working laptop.

I downloaded the files and yesterday I bit the bullet and began the process. I was expecting the task to take 4 or 5 hours, but in the end it took just over 3 hours. It actually worked!! Of course, there were a few issues that made the process difficult. working againNot least, the laptop battery expiring when I was trying to login with my current MS account. By 21:50 the machine was up and running with the latest Windows 10 operating system. As you may imagine, I was beside myself with joy. I could not believe that it had worked. I rebooted the machine again and it was still working. I installed a couple of bits of software that I knew was needed and rebooted aging. Still working !

So I go to bed thinking that I’m a genius.

This morning, with bated breath I switched the said laptop on … still working !! I still can’t believe it worked, but work it did, and I’m one happy, ecstatic, cocky bunny and think I can do anything  !!

Problems still ongoing…


When I started to compose this post at the beginning of the week, the problems I was having with my laptop were indeed ‘still ongoing’. However, and I am touching as much wood as I can find, things seem to be a little better at the moment. Many of the problems seemed to be with my Microsoft Office 365 applications. I was getting a lot of ‘xxx not responding’ messages when using Word, Excel and Outlook which seemed to point to an issue there. Although, other software was often slow to open and close. The internet gave me a few ideas, and one of the more prominent ones was to ‘repair’ my Office application. So I gave it a go, and (here’s when the touching wood comes into play) at the moment it seems to have worked.

Later yesterday, I got what IT people call the “Blue Screen of Death” or BSOD. For those that don’t know, it’s when Windows decides something is amiss, produces and ‘error code’, uploads the code to Microsoft and restarts your computer. I checked out the error code, which told me nothing at all but I was advised to run a system security tool. This tool, called Windows Defender Offline, which is part of the Windows security system, runs a much deeper scan for viruses and malware than the normal scan. It takes about 40 minutes on my laptop and (back to the wood touching again) seems to have done the trick, although I’m not holding my breath.

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I’m going to try a new approach to my posts. For a long time I have been combining the topics I want to say into one post. I usually separate the topics with a divider (as above) and the post can often have 4 or 5 topics. I have now decided to use single topics in each post, and post more often (how many times have I said ‘post more often’). I shall see how it goes.

Problems might just be gone …


For a few weeks now, I’ve been having performance issues with one of my Windows 10 laptops. I’ve uninstalled software that I rarely use, but the issue seems to have remained. What happens is that I’ll be using for example Microsoft Word and suddenly it hangs with the message “Word is not responding” and this will happen three or four times during the session. I end up having to restart Windows and hope the problem has gone away. Often this fixes the issue, but occasionally it doesn’t.

Today, while I was looking at the Task Manager application, I noticed something called ‘software reporting tool’. I had not seen it before and so I ran an online search and discovered that it is a program that checks to see if any software is going to affect the Google Chrome browser. There were reports that it has a high CPU usage when checking and the check often takes 20 minutes or so to run. The date on the file is 4th October which seems to coincide with the second time I had problems. Things seemed to improve after I removed my other printer, but then problems re-emerged a few days later.

The sites I looked at (and I always check a few to see if they say the same thing) told me that the process is not necessary and can be stopped. They also said that Google may restart the process again whenever the Chrome bowser updates. It gave instructions on how to prevent it running and how to prevent Google from restarting it. The instructions for this can be found at https://www.ghacks.net and searching for ‘how to block the Chrome Software reporter tool’.

It may not fix the problem, but the tool sends scan information back to Google, so there may be privacy issues here.

We shall see if there is any improvement.

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On another point, this was written using the WordPress editor on an iPad Mini. I had not thought of that as an option, but it seems to work quite well. I do need to understand how the HTML style tags work for formatting, but there must be a tutorial out there.

 

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)

Too clever for my own good …


This is a little techy. I have been having a problem all week with the performance of my main laptop. Applications were slow to open and even slower to close. I scoured the internet for answers and did everything, bar re-installing Windows, that was suggested. But the problem remained, and it was getting worse. Some programs were now not even opening. Then today I had an idea. You see, I have two laptops on my home network, both with an attached printer. At the beginning of the week, I thought it would be good if I could print to both printers in an effort to save ink, as the other printer never gets used. After a couple of hours and a fair bit of stress, I got it working. I then installed the other printer on my main laptop so that it could be seen. Then all I had to do was to ensure the other laptop and printer were switched on and I could print to it. Really quite pleased with myself at that point.

I didn’t really want to have the other laptop and printer to be on all the time, so I shut both down. This was on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, I started to notice the performance issues. As Tuesday was the day when Microsoft updates Windows, I put the problems down to that. When there was a second update pushed on Wednesday, I was convinced that everything would now be okay. Not so. The performance had improved slightly, but not so as you would notice. It was getting so bad that I began to think I had a virus or something. I searched the internet for the problem and the answers were as I expected: run an anti-virus; run an anti-malware; run a disk clean-up even reformat hard drive and start again. Well I tried all except the last one, but nothing seemed to work. Then another search, came up with something. I may have a corrupt drive recently installed. Hmmm … the only driver recently installed was the printer driver for the other printer. I thought I would have a look at that. I removed the printer from the device list (an I assume that removed the driver) and did a full reboot, rather than a restart.

Now (touch wood) it seems to be back to as normal as it was before. I had a quick online chat with the printer help desk (free thankfully). It would appear, that when the other laptop and printer were switched off any software that you can print from would be looking for the printers when the software opens. As the printer was off, it was not visible and so the delays. I’m not entirely convinced, but it does seem to have been resolved.

(Written with Word 365 – blog template)

Just lazy … that’s all … or maybe not …


I started to write this post on Friday, but put it off. I didn’t have a title then and was trying to think of reasons excuses why I haven’t posted since 5th July. And they were just excuses … ‘didn’t have time’ … ‘nothing to say’ … ‘too late/early/drunk/tired etc ‘ … you get the picture?  The only one that really seems to crop up the most is (not ‘too drunk’ although …) ‘nothing to say.’ I often sit down at one of my laptops, or the iPad with good intentions, and then nothing. So I’m going to try a bit harder over the coming months/weeks, after all now I have a paid blog, I need to get my money’s worth Be right back

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Now it may sound a little extravagant to have two laptops and an iPad, but there is a reason. Since I got my first PC back in 1995, I have had a money management application (or program as it was called back then) called Microsoft Money. It was discontinued some years ago, although Microsoft did bring out some cut-down versions, but I understand even these are now extinct. It has always worked fine with the upgrades up until Windows 8.1 came out and users were advised that ‘some’ software would not work properly in future editions of Windows. I don’t use it as part of my online banking as it never really worked with my bank, it just keeps a record of my future, past and present incomes and expenses. A a pinch I could use a spreadsheet, but I think that over the years, it would get a little unwieldy.

A couple of years ago, I decided that my laptop was running very slow and convinced K*** that I needed a new one which I got. I thought it would be a good idea to keep the older one, just in case R***’s home laptop gave in. So the old one was consigned to a wardrobe shelf to gather dust. Then, along came Windows 10 and everyone was urged to upgrade with the free upgrade. This latest version was said to be the worst for compatibility of older software, so I held off upgrading for a long time. I then had a thought Thinking smile . What I should do is keep the old laptop on Windows 7 (which I knew would run the Money program) and upgrade my new(ish) laptop to the latest version of Windows 10. That way, if Money didn’t work I could always use the old laptop. Thankfully it did work and I now have Windows 10 on both machines. I’m still very wary when updates come out and I will not update the old laptop until I know Money works on the latest Windows version.

Seems a lot longer …


Well, it’s been 18 months now since I took the plunge and ‘volunteered’ for early retirement, or as it turned out to be voluntary redundancy. It does seem a lot longer since I was driving into the City centre multi-storey car park. To be honest, it has not really gone according to the vague plan I had formulated, in my head during the few months leading up to my last day. I had sort of thought that I could:

  1. take it easy for the first two months
  2. get a part-time job, between 10 and 16 hours a week
  3. get a bit of decorating done
  4. ditto in the garden
  5. take over most of the washing and ironing (I weirdly like ironing)

None have really materialised with the exception of number 5. Okay, I did paint the staircase, and I have done a bit(?) in the garden. But that’s about it. I’m still looking for a part-time job, but K*** seems to think that I have made my options in that area, too narrow. I don’t want too many hours and I want it local.

I thought I would get bored very quickly, but that has not happened. I thought that we would not be able to live on the pension I was getting. Altering where we shop for most our groceries has eased that pressure. So basically, at the moment we seem to be okay.

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The latest Windows update became available for me yesterday. About 2pm I checked and it was available. So I began the update process. It finally finished at around 7:30pm. This is the reason I did not post this at Fthe time I wanted. I’ve had a quick look, and the only thing that seems to be a ‘new’ feature is that I now have a nearly full “F:\drive” that wasn’t there before. As I understand, and I may be wrong, but this new drive is the location for the recovery data. I think it used to be in a folder, but it seems that Microsoft now wants it in a separate partition. This is fine if there is sufficient space. I believe Aaaaghthat this partition will mysteriously be removed in 10 days, which is a little unnerving. With working in an IT support team before I retired, I tend to read up on the major updates to see what ‘exciting new features’ I am about to receive. I only half-heartedly did it this time, but I think that will change for next time. The problem is, that since Microsoft decided to move towards Windows being provided as a service, there is no choice but to update when they tell you.

I am now updating my other laptop. It’s been going 1 hour and seems to be proceeding faster than the previous time. Wish me luck.

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Update to Windows update:- The second laptop only took just under 4 hours to run, so a slight improvement there. The issue with the new “F:\drive” has been resolved. I trawled the internet with no luck, then had this brain-wave … ask the Windows community. Within minutes, literally less than 5 minutes it was solved and the drive is no longer visible. It was a Recovery drive, but it should not have been visible. If anyone has got the same issue, I am going to post the answer as a separate post.