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.

Many are not worth the effort …


I partake in a number of internet surveys. I do it for gain, not for “A chance to influence …”No, sheer YouGovmonetary gain or for points/credits that I can convert into money or goods that I want/like. I subscribe to around four or five survey sites, but the most profitable ones are YouGov and Maximiles. YouGov gives you Maximilespoints in the range of 25 to 100 depending on the length of the survey, and once you hit 5000 you can redeem the sum of £50.00. Maximiles has the more usual approach of giving you points for every completed survey.

The main difference between YouGov and Maximiles is that you are never screened out of a YouGov survey. If you get an invite for a YouGov survey, you will get the points. It not always the case with Maximiles and recently they seem to be having an issue the closing out of completed survey. They say they are working on a fix, but it does seem to be taking a long time.

To date. I have had £100.00 from YouGov and a £28.00 bottle of Hendricks Gin from Maximiles. So bad for 20 or so minutes two or three times a week.

I also subscribe to Panel Opinion, GlobalTestMarket and panelbase.net but these tend to be more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’ when it comes to eligible surveys, so I tend not to bother with them too much.

It’s sunk in … finally


I think it has finally sunk in. It got to home time and J*******, who I have worked quite closely with, shook my hand, thanked me and wished me well. He is on leave next week and will not be in on the day I finish. It was a nice touch of him to say what he did. On the other hand, there are others who are on leave next week, who have said nothing. Quite frankly, I don’t care about those few. In fact, there is one person that is off all week and it pleased me to know that he will not be in. One of the many reasons I’m not having the obligatory ‘night out’ or ‘leaving do’. I’m not a very sociable person, but I could not leave anyone out if I was having a do. I would have to invite everyone, even those I do not want to be there. So not for me.

What amazes me at the moment, though, is the number of times I’ve been asked, what I’m going to do when I finish? What are my hobbies? Have I planned any trips? All valid questions you may say, but my point is, nobody has asked me any of these questions before! Well not in this team. Way back before the numerous restructures, the team I originally worked with would ask. With this team, they don’t even ask where you’ve been if you’ve had a few days holiday. Strange bunch of people some of them.

Then when I got home, the pension company had finally sent my retirement pack. This is the documents I need to complete so that my pension is paid. Surprisingly it only took two emails to get the pack sent. But that helped it hit home. Made it very realistic. Now I’ve just got to find a part-time job to fill a couple of days in the week. It will be a bit of spending money and keep me occupied for a few years until my state pension comes in 2021.

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I had a crack at knitting a rose brooch this weekend. Rose BroochI had seen the pattern and downloaded some months previously, but it looked quite tricky. Stitchwise I was fine, but one of the main techniques was a little more involved as it were. Still, I had a go and finished it quicker than I expected. I completed the making up today and I very pleased with how it has turned out. Just as it showed on the pattern.

I sometimes hate Microsoft … beware the Anniversary Update my friends …


I must explain. I’ve never been a fan of Apple software and whenever I have considered new IT equipment, I have always looked for alternatives to Apple. I have never had an iPod, I had a unknown music player.My smartphones have always been Android phones. I would never consider an iPhone. All my PC’s and laptops have all been Microsoft. The only exception was my first computer which was a Texas computer. So you could say, I’m a fan of Microsoft. A big fan.

However … this week has been a trial, even for me. I have two laptops. One, I have had for about four years and the second one for about eight/nine months. It is a long story, why I got the second one, and I’ll not go into it today but suffice to say, it was a wise choice at the time.

So why the post title?

On Monday, I decided that my ‘old’ laptop should be fired up and have all the updates that it needed. Oh sh*t! Windows tells me that there are ‘updates ready to download’. I checked what they were, and right at the bottom of the list was update that had the number ‘1607’ mentioned. The time had come for the so called ‘Windows 10 Anniversary  Update’. This was the one that I have been dreading. I was so thankful, though that it was first coming through to the old lappy. That way I could make sure that I would not have any major issues. You see, my banking software is an old Microsoft programme called Microsoft Money.

I’ve used it since I had Windows XP. I never use the internet functions, simply use it as a computerised bank account/cheque book. When I upgraded to Windows 7, there was the fear that this software may not work. Fortunately, it did and it saved me a lot of worries. Then along came Windows 10, and with it more rumours that Microsoft Money would not work. After a lot of stress and fruitless web searching, I bit the bullet and bought a new machine with Windows 10 installed. My idea was that I would use the old machine, as a internet free machine, just for the banking app.

So back to updating the old machine. What the hell, I thought. There is no choice, it has to be done, and I could always ‘roll back’ if the banking app did not work. Three hours later and Windows tells me that my laptop is “Preparing to install the update” or words to that effect. It does not actually call itself the Anniversary Update. That’s probably a media thing. After another three hours or so, the ‘installation’ is at around 63% and I really need to sleep. So I leave it to do it’s thing and hope that it will be all done in the morning.

Morning arrives (06:30 to be exact) and I’m looking at the laptop with an air of disgust. All I have is that blue/grey  screen that shows between turning on and the desktop appearing. Something amiss I fear! No time to do anything now, so I press the power button to shut down. Speedily move on to me getting home from work. I fire up the machined and after a few minutes the damn thing tells be that it is rolling back to my original set-up. The update failed! Down hearted, but not deterred, I click on the Windows update again and the whole process repeats.

Now with the echo of that film ‘Groundhog Day’ in my head, the same thing happens again. Exactly the same as before. Fail! I am now thinking that a Mac has serious possibilities. I scour the internet for possible causes of the failure, and one seems to strike a chord. Someone with an unpronounceable name that looks about 11 years old, suggests that any peripherals such as a printer or an external hard drive be unplugged. I unplug the printer and start again for the third (and as I said to the wife) final f**king time. Of course, the process needs to be left overnight to finish. Another sleepless night ensues.

It’s now 06:10 Wednesday morning and I’m tiptoeing around trying to see if the update worked. ‘B**lcks’ I say quietly. It looks like the same has happened. Same old blue/grey screen. I press the power and go off to work in not the best of moods. Fast forward again to home time. I power up the cursed machine, expecting the worst. Not at all! The thing powers up and it all looks good. A few checks, and it seems like third time lucky. The update has taken! First thing I do, is check the banking app. It works! Everything I try seems to work. Of course that stupid ‘Edge’ browser thing is still stupid, but I have updated! I survived! I can now concentrate on the real issues of the day. That being ‘Great British Bake Off’ going to Channel 4 and Angeline and Brad splitting up.

Now all I have to do, is wait for my main laptop to tell me the update is ready and it all starts again!

A lot more than serious …


Following on from my last post regarding Early Retirement, things have moved on somewhat. When I first mentioned it to K***, her initial response was that ‘… I should think about it …’. It has gone from that via ‘… I think you should really consider it …’  to ‘… think you should go for it…’ very quickly. She thinks that we could over-think this and although I’m not an impulsive person by any means, I think she is right.

Therefore the decision, I think has been made. I’m speaking with our service lead on Wednesday to discuss the matter, and I’ve an idea, that he is going to ask me for a date when I want to go. From what I understand, if I say I want to go at the end of … say September, then the request will go to a corporate panel on the 8th of September and then then directorate panel on the 18th September. If it passes both panels, then my last day would be the 30th September. It is that quick.

So now all I need to do, over the next few days is to pick a leaving date! I suppose this is another one of those life changing moments.

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I opened another Individual Savings Account (ISA) last week. I know that people now say the ISA has had its day with the new Personal Savings Allowance (PSA), but I can’t help feeling that my ISA is a better saving option. I’ve been saving using ISA’s for a few years now, but did not transfer the 2014/15 to my 2015/16. No idea why, but I think I just never got around to it. But I decided that this time I would. So I spent a good hour filling in forms to transfer the funds across. It seemed a little bizarre, that I had to manually fill in the details of the transfer as there was no online facility to do this at all. Bit odd in this day and age, but it is done now. Already to post tomorrow. Just need to set up a direct debit to put some money into the account now.

Workplace review .. moving on


The new workplace review is starting to pick up speed now. I had, what they call a “Work Style Assessment” on Friday. That, basically was to a document that formally set out how each one of us will contribute to making the best use of the available desk space. It seems that at any one time, at least 28% of the office desks are not in use; people at meetings, training, sick etc etc. we have a program called “Changing the Workplace” which is trying to maximise the available office space to save money. Mine worked out very well for me. It means that one day a week, I’ll work from a satellite office, one day a week from home, leaving three days a week working from my base office. This, of course is to be more flexible than rigid. It might mean that sometimes, I do two days in the main office and two days in another office, it depends on what work I’m covering. It was what I was looking for and it seem to fit in with what the service requires. However, formalising the “Working from Home” part, means that I need to have either an office or a proper work station. When I have randomly worked from home, I’ve sat at the dining room table. 020214_1241_Workplacere1.jpgThat is not going to be allowed, which I kind of expected. So yesterday, I set about tidying up my computer desk, clearing out some of the rubbish and making it more of a computer work station than it was. So it should be okay now. All I need to do, when I’m working is to move my personal laptop and slot in the works one.

Of course, the ‘moaners’ are still finding things to moan about: the expense; the inconvenience; the increased travel; earlier rising; getting home later; unsettling, there seems to be no end to the excuses why this is not a good thing. Those people should take a good long look at their conditions of service. It is all explained there, and before they go running off to their respected Trades Union, they should be aware, that the Unions signed up to this from the very start! We have an ‘Away Day’ on the 7th, where we should learn a lot more about what is happening. Well it started off as a day when we get to meet our new colleagues and get to know a bit about them. However it seems that it is going to be a ‘bonding session’ and a ‘workshop’. Neither of which, is what I was expecting. I have also heard that our team will be “absorbed” into the service the following week, but that’s only a rumour, so I’m not sure how accurate it is. Still I accept that it is a worrying time for some people, who have never been outside their comfort zone. Me, I’m just going to get on with it. As I mentioned before, we have no choice, and at the end of the day we still have a job. The bigger worry will be when the new structure is formalised and we have to start applying for our jobs.

Less than a week has passed …..


    So it has only been six days since post ‘500‘ and quite a bit has happened. One of my colleagues worked out the extra cost, for changing offices to £720.00 per year. In his email to the manager, he stated that this was the extra cost ‘….for each of us…‘ which is not quite accurate. For me, even if I worked at the City office every day my driving would be shortened by 70 miles a week. Working from home one day, would reduce it by another 30 miles per week. Taking it all into consideration, including a £15.00 per week parking cost, by extra cost would be £132.00 pa or £3.30 pw. I think I can manage that.

    What annoys me a lot, is the assumption that we all ‘have a problem’ with this new working practice. There are at least two of us that just seem to want to get on with it. It’s not as if we have any choice! We just have to make the best of it. Change affects people differently. At the end of the day, we will still have a job. We may be put out a little, but in the current economic climate in Britain, having a paid job is something to be thankful for. Of course, the Trades Union is involved at a high level, but we also have a local convenor in our office and his views (right or wrong) seem to be getting some attention. I tend not to take any notice of this person, as I think that his attitude sometimes shows that he is still living in the 1970’s.

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    Another problem cropped up with R*** on Friday. We live on the outskirts of Leeds. Our doctors, however is in Tadcaster. This means we receive our health care from North Yorkshire, and although it calls itself the National Health Service, effectively it is a localised service. So the problem is that R*** needs specialist dental care, because of his condition. Many dentists are very wary of treating people with special needs and Autism can be very scary if you are not fully aware of the issues autistic people face. He had to visit the Community Dental Practice on Friday. They examined him, and found his teeth to be doing okay, but then they dropped the bombshell. They told us, that because of recent changes by Government, they were no longer ‘allowed’ to treat him in Leeds as it was out of the catchment area. We would have to find another specialised dentist in North Yorkshire. It seems that there is one in Selby or York. This will have a serious effect with transport on his days at college and will mean whenever he has a dental appointment he would have to miss a day. We are not happy to say the least.

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    On a lighter note, the mini keyboard for tablet came. It is a lot smaller than I anticipated, and I’m yet to get it to actually work. The accompanying manual seems to have been converted/translated from the original Japanese and some of the words and phrases do not make much sense. Still I suppose you get what you pay for, as I found out with the cheap 32gb SD memory card, I bought. That does not work at all with the tablet. So ‘cheap and cheerful’ does not always pay off in the long run.