Random tech problem . . .


© Microsoft

I’ve been having a bit of trouble with my OneDrive. I have two laptops. My main one is downstairs but when I bought it, I decided to keep the previous one upstairs as a kind of back-up machine. It is a bit slow, but it was a good machine. I did want to try and connect both as a home network, but that doesn’t seem to work with Microsoft Home edition. I had ‘misplaced’ a couple of files that I now need to use. They were not big or even complicated files, I just didn’t want to re-write. I thought they were on my OneDrive, but I could not find them. I then had the idea that they may just be in the documents folder on old laptop. And they were.

© Microsoft Office

I copied them into my OneDrive, along with some video files that I had forgotten about. Must have spent a good couple of hours opening, and copying the files, or so it seemed at the time. I shut down the old laptop and trotted off downstairs ready to work with these newly found files. But … they were not in the OneDrive I was accessing from downstairs. I ‘ummed and ‘ahhed for a while before deciding that I must have two OneDrives. Seemed reasonable as the Office package on the upstairs laptop was Office 2013 and downstairs it is Office 365. All I need to do is copy the files I wanted onto a Flash Drive and then onto the downstairs machine. Problem solved … or not.

Try as I might, I could not get the files copied and was receiving an error message:
Error 0x8007016A: The Cloud File provider is not running …
Restart after restart would not cure the problem and in the end I gave up for the evening.

© SanDisk

This morning, after a lot of Googling, it came to light that I must not have signed in to my OneDrive on the upstairs Laptop. In fact, the service was not even running, I must have disabled it in Task Manager. More clicks and reboots ensued and finally I was able to copy the files to the Flash Drive and onto the main machine. Then I found that they had synchronised and so all the copy and pasting was a total waste of time. Thankyou Google and all who sail in you. If the fact that I was not signed in to the OneDrive upstairs reason had been one of the first in the Google search screen, I could have saved a lot of time and unnecessary brain work!

Coincidence or … ?


I use Microsoft Money 2002 to manage a number of financial accounts locally on my laptop. It is no longer supported by Microsoft, but still works the way I like. I run it in a compatibility mode as if it is running on a Windows XP machine. There has been a number or rumours that the next update to Windows may disable some compatibility modes in order to force customers to purchase newer products. These rumours, whilst not being confirmed or denied by Microsoft tend to flare up now and again and there has been rather more this year than previous years.

In order to ensure that I have some kind of continuity, I have started to look at maybe using Excel to do the job. I had encountered a few problems with formatting and a couple of formulas. Nothing I tried seemed to work, so I posted a question on an Excel forum that I used when I working for the council. After about 30 minutes or so, I got a reply. I followed the instructions, but only partly did what I wanted. I thanked the responder and gave a bit more detail. The next reply came back within 5 minutes. Once applied, everything worked as I wanted.

Now for the coincidence. This morning I received an email from Microsoft. I get regular updates as I have a Microsoft account that came with Office 365. This email was advising me that the new Microsoft Budget Template was now available in Excel. Prior to today, the template was only available in America. First impression is that it is something that I can work with if Money 2002 is blocked.

Was it just a coincidence ?

** Update … it appears that the Money in Excel is still not available in the UK. Microsoft are (supposedly) looking into why I received the email **

From then to now …


With Christmas out of the way, I was now waiting for my transfer date. It had been my understanding that I was to move straight after the holiday. However, because of some delay with software I was to be testing. It was mid February when I took up my temporary position. The software was intended for residents so that they would be able to know when their bins were due to emptied.

Everything started well. I was able to work with my old team more easily than before, with being on the same site. The testing I was to work on was quite easy. The software company had listed the steps that were needed to do the tests, and it was simply a case of run through the list, making notes, until it broke. And ‘broke‘ it did! Often! When we came up with a problem, the full detailed notes were sent off and we waited for the next version to be delivered. This went on for about 6 months before the first beta version was put out for external testers. More problems were reported and so it went on. The testing and re-testing plodded on for a full year. Each time an issue was raised then a new version was produced, and the time it took to produce the latest beta was taking longer and longer. It was February 2016 when the first final version was put ‘on the shelves’ and could be downloaded.

Alongside this I was also working testing parts of the internal system and helping sort the IT problems that were happening with the Parking team. I was also expected to pick up some of the Housing IT issues, but I could always find a reason to miss these.

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Then came the moment, I was dreading. I was being recalled back to the main site, to carry on my main work. I was not happy and on the 29th February 2016 I was back in the City Centre office. But by now I had a little more knowledge and it was a little easier. The downside was that the person who had helped me the most, had been seconded to another team and didn’t have much time to help me. It was back to being helped by my old adversary “Nellie”.

But … things were about to change…

From then to now . . . back to work


Jump forward to the 1st September and I am summoned, by works phone, to appear in front of my line manager. It seems, that although it was pre-determined how long I would be away work for recovery, I had to have an interview to discuss my “return to work strategy“. It was not a disciplinary interview, more of “fact finding interview” Fortunately I had already formulated my phased return, so I was able to show her my plan of action. There was a slight moment of finger wagging during the twenty minutes I was there, but I got over it.

Two weeks later, and another phone call. This time it was HR, who wanted to have a little chat with regard to my phased return. They said they could come to me at home, or if I wanted I could see them, at my nearest office. I opted to see them and made an appointment for the next day. This turned out to be a real discussion. I explained my plan, which was to phase my return over four weeks. One day, then two days, then three days followed by the last week of four days. The lady that interviewed me said the plan was a good one, but was worried that it might be too quick and they would monitor my progress. I did mention that I had had the same interview with my line manager and was told that it should not have happened. It seemed that because it was a pre-elective procedure with a set recovery time, I was technically not on sick leave.

The phased return worked well for me, and I managed to get back to working full time with very little problem. However, people were very understanding and I think they made special efforts to get me back to normal. In all truth, during those four weeks I had very little to do. In fact apart from reading work newsletters, catching up on emails and trying to read software manuals, I did very little at all. It became very boring and quite stressful.

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From then to now … getting the hang of it


For the first few weeks, I felt a little out of place. All the team I was with, bar one had been office workers since leaving school and most of them had been with a Local Authority, so I was a bit of an oddity. Most of them couldn’t seem to get their heads around why, with the qualifications I had, would I want to work in an office. This was something that had been explained to us on the course and so I was expecting it. They soon got over it within a couple of weeks, and I settled down to become an “Officer of The Council” as we were called.

The briefcase was the first thing to be ditched, quickly followed by the fountain pen and dictionary. I had also bought a Rucksacksuit and I soldiered on with that for a couple of months. We shared our office floor with a couple of other sections of the Council and I soon discovered that literally nobody carried a briefcase. Most of the women had some form of shopping/tote bag to supplement their handbag , but the men didn’t seem to have bags at all. I still had my lunch and calculator to carry, so I needed something. I eventually dug out my old school bag, which was one of those thick canvas army types that we used to be able to get from the Army and Navy stores. Now what ever happened to them?

It had been noted at my interview, that I had an interest in computers and technology. This of course led to me being given a ‘very important job’. Everyday, at 4pm I was to  perform the database back-up. Because IBM Computerthere was two types of parking ticket (on-street and car parks) we had two computer systems. The reason for this was that back in 1986 the on-street parking service (parking meters) merged with the off-street car parks service. Each brought their own systems which were not compatible. So the off-street system (car parks) used Microsoft Windows 2.1 and a software package called DataEase, dBase 2 screenwhereas the on-street part of the team had an old IBM machine that ran a program called dBase. It also ran Wordstar and Supercalc, but we never used them. It was dBase 2 that we had, but it was not like the other system which had it’s own built in back-up routine. No with this one, you first had to ‘drop out’ of the database and jump to a ‘DOS prompt’ Then you had to ‘Setpath’ which basically told the computer where to look and then type the back-up command. This had to be exact and had the location of the file to be backed-up, and the location where it was to be backed-up to. You then had to verify the back-up by following a similar routine.

It took me a couple of months before I realised that I could write a batch file to do all the leg work. When it worked first IT Experttime, I was a hero. I had shaved a good 10 minutes of the time and it was far more accurate.. The only downside to this was that I was now the Parking Departments IT expert! Everything from changing the computer plug filing the back-up discs to replacing the printer toner was now my job. I even got asked to ‘have a quick look’ at the photocopier. Other staff started to come to me with their IT related problems and I came to the attention of the IT Department. I was now the unofficial IT support (more on that later) for Parking. If IT wanted any small work doing, then I got the call and was talked through the problem and solutions. I was loving it.

From then to now … a new start …


Now it gets a little boring as nothing much happened for the next couple of years. K**h had a few jobs which included a vacuum cleaner salesperson. She answered an advertisement in the local free newspaper Kirbyfor a demonstrator and within five to six hours she had become a reseller. Now you may remember from films, the name Kirby. It was/is a huge brand of heavy duty vacuum cleaners from America. It was K**h’s job to follow up on leads, demonstrate the cleaner and convince the householder that their lives would suffer without one.

That job didn’t last very long and she moved on to various other jobs. One was setting up and Safewaysmaintaining houseplants in offices. That got her a large amount of knowledge of gardening and plant care. Other jobs followed before finally getting a job as a cashier in what was then called Safeway. That lasted a while and then got a better job at Marks & Spencer in  Pudsey.

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I didn’t find work straight away and we decided that I should decorate the whole house first. Well I managed the kitchen, the living room and the main bedroom, before the money started to run out. After about eight weeks or so I received a letter instructing me to attend an interview at what was called the Social Security Office (SSO). It was to “Discuss the reasons for me not being employed” and I had to attend on the Thursday morning at 9:30. So ‘suited and booted’ I duly arrived at 9:00 and was told that the interviewer would be late and I should come back in the afternoon. I remember looking at the one of the pin-boards where jobs were posted and spotted one for a “Cook in Charge” at a nearby Aged Persons Home (APH) The counter staffHillside APH rang the number and I was told to go along for an interview straight away.

Finding the place was easy as it was just off the main Leeds & Bradford road. I was shown into the office and the interview began. It was a strange experience and I almost knew that, after explaining the circumstances, the job was mine. It felt like I was interviewing them. Anyway, they told me they would be in touch. I went back to the SSO, knowing now that I had missed the interview I had originally gone for. I was told that the interview would be rescheduled for the following week.

I got home, and at about 5:00pm I had a phone call. I had got the job and when could I start. It was the following Monday when took my first tentative steps in the new job at Hillside APH.

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.

Another bitten bullet and other things


The laptop I’m currently using is a Windows 7 machine. I’m always quite reluctant to change, espcially if I don’t feel the need to change. So I have never been tempted to upgrade my machine to a later version of Windows. However I may have no choice as Microsoft seems intent un upgrading users to Windows 10, whether they want it or not. As those in the know, it’s a free upgrade and brings ‘all the benefits of an up to date‘ operating system, if you believe the blurb.

It is probably a good thing to upgrade and I have come around to the idea that I need to do this. The problem is, that on this machine, I have a number of software applications that I use regularly (daily or every other day) that will not run under Windows 10. I struggled to get them to run under Windows 7 and people have tested them for me, and they simply fail. These are not applications that need the internet to run so I have decided that I will buy another laptop running Windows 10 and leave the Win 7 machine as an ‘unconnected’ machine that I can use for non-internet specific things.

The issue now is, that I need Microsoft Office on the new machine. I cannot install my current version as it is tied to the machine I’m using now and it can only be used on one machine. All is not lost. Last year I bought my son a subscription to Office 365. It seems that the subscription type I purchased allows the software to be installed on upto 5 different machines. Job sorted! The only thing now is how? A quick on-line chat with Microsoft support and I have all the info my son and me needs. Well done Carmina P. the help desk advisor.

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So, how am I doing with what I called my ‘New Year Intentions‘? Sad to say, not as well as I would have liked. The number 1 on the list, was to blog at least once a week and this is the only one I have kept up to press. Although they are all still on-going, just not quite quickly as I would have liked. I am reading more (No 10 on the list) but it it difficult to read at work as the dining room can be quite noisy and there is nowhere else in the office. I recently chatted to a friend who has a blog about theming my blog (No 2) and their answer was to either pick something that I enjoy (she said obsessed with) or that I’m and expert with and blog about that. Well the only thing I’m either obsessed with or an expert in is … me, and I’m blogging that already. With regard to the rest, who knows where I’m going.

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Talking of blogs, I have been looking back over the years at my stats on WordPress. I have noticed something quite unusual. I have been posting on and off some of my photos, following The Daily Post‘s ‘Weekly Photo Challenge’. I’m by no means an expert photographer, I just take pictures of things or scenes that I like.

It looks like my average views (no going into comments here) for my written stuff is around the 3 – 4 mark per post. However, when it comes the the photo posts, the average has rocketed up to 10 or 11 per photopost. When I started this post, my last photopost under the ‘Weekly Photo Challenge’ banner had hit 31 views!  Looks like that old adage ‘A picture is worth a thousand words’ is true! One could say ‘ A picture is worth a thousand posts.’

Happy New Year


Did it start with a ‘Bang’? Well no, not really. We stayed up until midnight as we are obliged to do, watching good old Jools Holland, but it was nothing special. I suppose now I should spout all the usual clichés, but to be honest I just cannot be bothered.

It’s been a bit of a rough year all in all. What with the concerns about the new job and the worry about whether I would actually have a job. The five office moves, the problems with R***. Eldest moving in with his girlfriend. Finally to cap it all, my heart operation.

Still, I came through all and am still here (well 99.9% of me is still here) so I don’t suppose I have too much to grumble about really. R*** seems to be in a good place at the moment. Eldest and his girlfriend both seem to be very happy. I still have a job at the same on the same pay and it does not look like we are moving office for the foreseeable future. And to cap it all, my old heart is working properly again.

Life changer + 103


Well I did go back and see the doctor. He went through my notes and I explained that I did not seem to be improving at all. He examined me, and we chatted about everything really, home life, work. I explained the pressures of the changes at work and asked if it could be stress related. He said it could be, but thought that it was all to do with my heart condition. Now that is what I thought it could be from the very start, but it had been dismissed by both the previous doctor and the practice nurse. He thought that there was some fluid on my lungs, which would explain why the other treatments did not seem to work. So he prescribed me a course of Diuretic or water tablets. This treatment is supposed to get rid of excessive fluid from my body. So on Friday 2nd May, which I had luckily taken as a leave day, I was packed off to Harrogate District Hospital where they have a drop-in chest X-Ray unit. We were not there long, in fact we were in and out so quickly, that the parking was free!!!

The results came back last week, and K*** got the doctor to ring me, as the receptionist could not tell me anything because it was clinical and she was allowed to. It now seems that it is not a Silent Reflux and it may not even be Asthma. The doctor confirmed that is something called Pulmonary Congestion. This was explained as being a “…… difficulty of my heart to work as well as it should, leading to a build up of fluid at the top of lungs …..” which explains the cough. He is going to give me the full results to take to my assessment, which if I haven’t mentioned it before, has been brought forward by a day to the 13th May. Should mean that it will be one test less on the day. That is about all I can tell you at the moment. I’m slightly concerned that this Pulmonary Congestion, might mean that the operation is pulled forward, but I don’t think that happens outside of the TV soaps, but you never know. I hope not, as I have got my mind focussed on the 12th June as the big day. I also need some time to get my colleagues up to speed with work issues.

Work, well some of them, have been very supportive. I now have, what I call my “Dolly Trolley”. Amazon call it an “Executive Business Bag Laptop Trolley On-Board Travel Flight Case Suitcase” and it is simply a way of carrying my office requirements in one bag, with wheels. It really has made a difference, although there are a few things that I take with me, that I think could be kept in my locker.

A pleasant day all told …..


Today was the second ‘whole team’ meeting of our new team. In my opinion, in spite of, or maybe because of the little ‘let’s get to know each other’ game that M*** had us play the afternoon went very well. Everyone seemed to be a lot come comfortable with each other. Of course there are those that appear to be comfortable in any situation, but those like me seemed to be more relaxed.

There were a lot of comments about the new office. Interestingly, at the start there were no positive comments at all, but within an hour the complaints had narrowed down to one single complaint. I don’t think they are going to do anything about the complaint, as it would be too expensive to implement, but it was interesting to hear the majority of complaints disappear during the discussion.

The networking drinks went down well, and at the end of the day, I’m glad I stayed for a while, and I even managed to mingle a little.

Work can be a shit ….


It’s not so much the work, more some of the people I have to work with. There’s a lot of stressful things going on in my life at the moment. What with the “Life changer”, the ‘restructure’ and the new service, things are quite worrying. The whole of the public sector is going through a really bad time as we pay for the mistakes of the past years. So it becomes very hard to be understanding of the microcosm attitude of some of my colleagues. I’ll not call them friends, because despite their ‘crocodile tears’ and concerns, I still feel I’m an outsider and that they don’t really care as much as they try to make out. Saying that, there are some who I genuinely believe do care. I will only identify them by their initials (not that they are likely to read this, but you never know) and they are SB, MS, JB and DC. If they do read this, then they will know who they are.

I’m sick of the little ‘chats’ the others have between themselves, when I seem to be out of the office. The sudden ‘quite’ when I come back into the office after the private phone call with my manager. Do they really need to make it so obvious? Today was a great example. I went to have a chat with someone, about a work issue, and when I got back, three of my colleagues were sat together talking about something. I don’t know for sure what it was, but am convinced it was about the new changes. There was no attempt to either include me or bring me up to speed with what was happening. And this kind of thing seems to be happening more and more. I am now watching my back a lot more closely than ever before. I’ve identified my friends and am just watching the battle lines being drawn. This could be a rough few weeks, but I know which side my bread is buttered. Interesting times ahead.

Now here’s where I apologise for the number of clichés used in this post.


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.

Blogging from Word 2013


Now here’s a thing. Way back in October 2012, I was running Microsoft Office 2010. I attempted to post a blog using Word 2010. Whilst it was quite successful Word, did not have the power and facilities, I was used to in Windows Live Writer. There are muttering amongst, the rumour merchants that WLW is going to be discontinued, or as Microsoft put it ‘no longer supported’. This will be a shame, and will affect a large number of bloggers who use WLW. I have tried a number of alternatives to WLW including Zoundry Raven, Blogdesk and even the standard WordPress editor. None come a close 2nd to WLW. However, even this has its limitations and one of its big issues (as far as I’m concerned) is the problems with ‘Tags’. Okay, you can get an add-on that will create tags from your text, and this works very well for quite a number of blogging platforms, but it adds the tags at the end of your text. These do not seem to be correctly formatted WordPress tags and do not link to any tags in other blogs, which is a bit of a bind.

So, I am trying out this post, using the blog post template in Microsoft Word 2013. It does not feel much different from the 2010 version, so I’m not too sure if it is going to be better. There is still no facility to add tags, which is a major downside, but it just means that posting has to go as a draft. Now that, may not be such a bad thing in the scheme of things. I will just have to add the tags at ‘draft stage’.

I’ve just sent for a small keyboard for my ‘hudl’. I am wanting to be able to use it to write with. I know I can use my laptop, but there may be a time, when I want to write something, for say a quick blog post, or just a note to be used in some writing later. If you have ever tried to use an onscreen keyboard on a 7″ tablet (I know ‘should have got an iPad’) then you’ll know how difficult it can be. Especially when trying to format the text. It only cost just over £7.00, so it’s no great loss if it does not work.

Right. Time to upload this post. Wish me luck or something !!

Letter to my head


If you are wondering about the title of this post, I shall explain all at the end.

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        You know K*** had those problems last year with those Melanomas, well we thought everything was now okay. However, a couple of weeks ago, she felt something under her arm, where she had had the biopsy, that did not feel quite right. She spoke to the consultant at the hospital, who told to see her GP, who would refer her. This was done, and at the end of this week, she had both a consultation at the clinic on Thursday and a scan on Friday. You have to congratulate to hospital on the speed their action. But, after the scan, she was told that there was nothing to see, and that it may just be a rib!! I think she is now waiting for the consultant to get back to her officially. she is still very worried though.

        Work!!!! Someone who I knew a few years ago,in my previous job, asked me if I’m happy in this new job, and my immediate replay was along the lines ‘…same old story, back stabbing and bitching with a smaller team…’ It made me reflect a little on where I am now. Do I actually like what I am doing? Do I like the people I work with? The ‘team’ as they like to call us. Things are beginning to come to a head I think. It has a lot to do with this new restructure that we are going through, and everyone is quite worried. In my opinion, the problem is exasperated because for two members of the ‘team’, there is no position at their current grade. Now our Manager, M*** was told us that this represents a huge opportunity to get those jobs that we deserve. This is a nod to one of the ‘team’ members, E***** who missed out on a promotion in the last restructure. I’m convinced, that this is why I still don’t feel like I’m accepted as a full member of the ‘team’. She missed out last time and I think she believes that she may miss out this time. This is probably fuelled by her partner B****, who conveniently works in the same ‘team’, in the same office. I feel that it is never a good idea for people in a relationship to work together, unless it is their own business. It just does not work in a large organisation such as ours.

        Just to change the subject ….. I have had a cold virus this week. Not such a big deal you say. Well usually that is the case. I get three to four colds a year, and they are typical colds that last three days. Occasionally, and it happened in July last year, I get a cold that completely floors me, so to speak. I started late Saturday, with the usual symptoms: the slight headache; the tingle at the top of my nose etc. By Sunday, the cold had started to kick in properly. I had a fitful nights sleep, tossing and turning, not able to get comfy and with the now ever present ‘nasal attack’. I spent the next two and a half days in bed, with the usual handkerchiefs, paracetamol, buckets of water and a pained look on my face. I went back to work on Thursday, but at a push, could have held out to the end of the week. It is still there, and of course, I now have to live with the aftermath of all those handkerchiefs, the sore nose!!

        Now, the reason for the unusual post title. I intended to start writing posts as if I was actually writing a letter to myself …. to my head in fact. After the first paragraph, I thought, this is not going to work on this blog, and i would have to start a new one. But it also gave me an idea for a story. A story built along the lines of letters from someone to friend, and what happens when those letters and everything else changes. The story is only in it’s planning stage at the moment, but I thought I would keep the post title as a reminder.

Stress Factor – Not X Factor


This of course relates to work. Not exclusively, but in the main, it’s all work related. The latest restructure is beginning to have it’s effect on the team (and I use the term loosely.) Tempers are getting a little frayed and certain people are beginning to jockey for position. For me, it seems that I’m being, shall we say ‘realigned’  workwise. When I was interviewed for the job, there was no mention of it being a supervisory role. However, about four months ago, my line manager advised me that our service manager wanted me to supervise, the two staff below me. It was a bit of a shock, and to be honest, it’s not what I wanted from the job.

Last week, in our so called ‘one-to-one’ meeting I explained to my line manager about my understanding of the job, and not knowing that I was expected to be a supervisor. I was then told that I was being manoeuvred for a higher position in the the new structure. Now considering that the new structure seems to be very fluid, I have no idea what that position could be.

I don’t like supervising people. I’ve done allsorts of training and I still don’t like it. It’s not something that comes naturally to me. I appear to have two supervisory methods. My catering method and my office method. The catering method, and it is used extensively in the trade, is to shout and swear very loudly until the job is done. My office method is more of a sweet talking method. The ‘can you do me a favour’ method. Unfortunately, these are not interchangeable.

It is the thought of being a supervisor, that is causing some of the stress. That and having some people having a higher expectation of me than I think I can deliver.

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     You’ve heard of the famous ‘mid life crisis’? Well I always understood that to be around the 45 to 55  years of age. If that’s correct, then I am just beyond the tail end of of that condition. But here is the worrying thing. I have started listening to Radio 1 on the way to work. In the old car, I always listened to Radio Leeds, mainly for the traffic news. In the new car, the radio is completely different, and I’ve not worked out why local radio stations don’t pick up so well. So after a couple of mornings, I pressed the button for the said Radio 1, and I quite enjoyed the music and the banter of the current breakfast show.

     Now you may not think of this as such an issue, and neither did I, until I started purchasing some of the music I heard. This car plays MP3 tracks and has a USB port. All this leads to me buying a 32gb memory stick and copying lots of this newly discovered music. I know listen to Radio 1 in the morning, and the rest of the time, I am belting out tracks from the likes of ‘Example’, ‘Professor Green’, ‘Labyrinth’ and even ‘Jessie J’, When I mention this to people, they just raise their eyes, shake their heads and laugh to themselves. It is a new beginning. I am saved from from the perpetual boredom of local radio. God bless Tinie Tempah. Now,  if you will excuse me, I’m going to listen to a couple of tracks from Wretch32 before bed.

Snow !!! Working from home


     The weather was a bit bad first thing this morning. I got up at about 5:15 as I was taking S**** to work at 6:45. At that time, there was very little snow about. Just some sleet that wasn’t really doing much. But by the time we left home, it was settling fast. R*** had woke up early too, and was very unsettled for some reason, so I dropped S**** off and came back home. Didn’t want to leave K*** alone with him too long. It had been my intention, to work at a different office today. One that is nearer than my usual base. By the time R*** should have been getting up, we had a good 3 inches of snow on the ground, and there seemed to be no stopping it. So a decision had to be made. Do we send him off to college (we decided to call it college as opposed to anything else) or do we let him stop at home. He stopped at home. I had also decided to do as I knew certain others would do, and work from home.

     Work from home!!! Now this was a new idea for me. My boss has always said, that if I needed to I could work from home. It had been sanctioned from above, and it appears that for certain staff, this is the future for the council. I had already set up my works laptop when I got back, but for some reason, it is always very slow to get logged in. Connecting to the network is fine, but being able to start work always takes a long time. I eventually got started at around 7:40, some thirty minutes after setting up. Everything worked very well, all considering. The network performed as well if not better than I could have expected, and I was not too distracted when K*** put the TV on. Even R***, bouncing around his room singing did not seem to be too much of a problem.

     So now I have another option for work. I already had decided to work one day a week in a different office, and I’m also making plans to work in my old office, one day a week. That is just until I can get the supervisor fully trained up, which should not take much longer, and now I know I can work from home.

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     We also learned, this week, that our team, along with some of the other system support teams are under review again. There are not many details been issued yet, but the rumour mill is in full swing. It seems that we are to become part of a new divisional IT department. That is all I know, except that there could be another worrying few months ahead. I will keep you posted.

It gets closer …..


    I don’t need to tell anyone, but it just over a week to go. Then we can get back to some form of normality, whatever that may be. Just a couple of presents to get, (last minute hints from Mrs H) and I should be done. So I’ll be nipping off to the White Rose centre tomorrow, and I also need to pay a visit to Aldi too. I need to get some Parmesan, and it seems to be one of the best places to buy it. We also bought some ‘mini’ mince pies there last year. They came out top in the Which Best Buy.

     This week will see the usual Christmas Fuddles start. Ours is on Friday, but I’ve also been invited to the one at my previous office, on Wednesday. I made the mistake of saying I would go there on Monday or Tuesday and was told that I was invited. I now have to find an excuse not to go. I never liked it when I worked there, so I’m not going to like it now. I think D*** will get it, but the rest of them won’t.

     K*** and me went to R***’s college on Friday. It is just outside Barnsley, and we (replace the with ‘I’) had to drive through dreadful weather. It was icy, foggy, and rainy at the same time. There had been numerous accidents on the M1, and it had been closed in parts, so we opted to travel the A1 instead. I think, if the weather had been better, it would have proved to be the more suitable road. It certainly seemed a lot easier to find his college this time, and I don’t think it was anything to do with the fact we have been three times before.

     It was a good day, and it was nice to see the flat where R*** has his base, and to meet the support staff he works with. I have just thought though. He currently uses this flat just as a day base. He does not sleep there when he is on respite, because it is/was a shared resource. The person who shared with him, will be based in another flat in the future. I wonder if they have given any thought to R*** using this flat as his respite flat now. To me it makes sense, although there may be many reason why the management cannot put this in place. However, it is worth a phone call next week. I shall let you know.

     His psychiatrist and the community nurse, that works with us, told K*** that they wanted to have their next meeting at a different place from usual. They tried to sell it to me as a way of getting him used to different places. However, it came out in Friday’s meeting, that this place is some kind of secure unit/place of safety. It did not click at first, but his psychiatrist want to get him on to an anti-psychotic drug to help manage his behaviour. Now we had this before, when he was put on a drug, and it completely disagreed with him. It made him worse. He was depressed, sobbing and weeping often, and also self-harming. The self-harm was only minor, hitting the side of his head and nipping himself, but the specialist wanted to increase the drug, bur we said we wanted to stop it. After a day or too, he was back to ’normal’ or as normal as he was before.  So what this new psychiatrist want to do, is to take him into ‘hospital’ so they can observe and monitor him whilst on this drug. This secure unit is the ‘hospital’ they want to use. We are going to have to be very careful here. I don’t want him on any anti-psychotics, and I think K*** feels the same, but I feel that there may be plans that we are not party to. A year ago, he was a teenager with Autism and challenging behaviour. Now it seems that he some kind of psychopath and a danger to the community !!!!! When did that all change.

The new desk and other things


    Well moving to the new desk went as well as could be expected. Most people seem to have accepted the fact that I need a base to work from. I think the main issue could be, that I am sharing a room with my manager. I could be perceived as being a spy in the camp. Also in the same room is the person to whom I was supposed to be partnering in this job. However, she is working on other things for the service head, and could also be seen as a spy. Devious people, these council office types.

     I’ve decided to push forward with the writing again. I joined an online group, and posted my initial short story,The Well, warts and all. I have had two favourable comments, with more advice on how to expand and develop the idea. So I’m looking at that again. I’m toying with the idea of setting the tale in an old windmill. That should open the scope a little more. However I need to find a way of incorporating the well back into the story (I nearly typed narrative there …… I have no idea why) and am thinking that there could be some kind of outhouse that may have been built over the old well. That is going to take some thinking about. I have also been toying around in my head, how to make it into a play, but that is a long way off yet, and I don’t know how popular a one person play would be.

     I have also started writing a short story about someone that works on a computer helpdesk. I’m not too sure what narrative mode to use. I have started in first person mode, but not too sure if it will be the right one for the story. Basically, you get to hear what is happening in the helpdesk call centre, but you only get to hear the customers, when the helpdesk people repeat things back. This may not work as I hope, and I may have to change the narrative mode to third person. Early days yet.

An interesting, if tiring week.


After all the fuss R*** made last Saturday and Sunday, about not going away with school, come the day, he went off with no problems at all !! Mrs H had gone off to the hospital, for her operation earlier,so the only issue was him wandering around saying “Where’s Mum?” As soon as the bus arrived he was off with smiles. I got into work around 09:20, which was earlier than I hoped. Mrs H sent me regular updates, on what was happening to her. She went down to theatre at around 2pm, and she sent me a txt at about 5pm to say that it was all done. I drove down to the hospital to pick her up. There wasn’t much point in me going before, as I would have only got in the way. So I had the rest of the week off. I am applying for Special Leave for the four days. Nobody seems to think it will be a problem.

Her arm, or more to the point, the wound, looks quite okay to me. She is very worried that it may get infected, but it’s not going to happen. There has been a bit of blood leakage, but the practice nurse (nearly called her the District nurse – showing my age there) changed the dressing again, and this time put a few steri-strips on, which seemed to do the trick.

Work is beginning to get more interesting. I am now occupying a different desk whilst the usual person is on leave. I am now more or less in the centre of the office. But it is a small space !! There are 14 people in a quarter of the space I am used to. Hopefully, I will begin to feel a little more integrated as the week goes on. It will be good to get my own space though, although, I get the impression, that ‘hot-desking’ may be the norm in this team. Team !!!! Now that’s a new concept !!

R*** was back on Friday. Both his support worker and his ‘intervener’ were on the trip, and both sent regular txt messages to K***, throughout the week. I went to pick him up in the late afternoon, and all of the staff that had been, said he had had a fantastic time. There had been no problems and he had eaten well. They were so proud of him. It seems that he is also being a star at school this week, with no problems there either. That’s one of the things with his Autism though. One moment he can be really happy and good fun, then the next moment, he can just turn. It is strange when he comes down for his tea. Usually the same, either baked beans or tinned spaghetti with toast (not on toast!!) He’ll flick through Nick Jr 2 channel, checking out what is on for the next 12 hours. Then he walks round , droning, with his hands over his ears. The volume on the TV is down, and the only noise we can hear is him. He can hear something though, and it is very disturbing to him. This will go on for ten to fifteen minutes, then he will settle down and eat. Then it’s back to his computer.

Not good….


   Mrs H is not in a good way. She has got an infection where her tooth was extracted last week, and the pain killers are not doing a thing to help. She’s been given more antibiotics, stronger ones, but they will not really help with the pain. By my reckoning, it will be late Friday or even Saturday, before the pain starts to improve. Looks like she is in for a bad night again.

   We watched the National Television Awards. I have to say, some of the categories seemed a little strange. I mean, since when has Loose Women been a ‘factual’ programme ? It’s an entertainment programme, isn’t it ?

   I read today, that you can use Word 2007 as a blogging tool, so I thought I would give it a go. No luck. Message was that I was unable to register my blog with Office. I don’t need it, as this Windows Live Writer, does a pretty good job, but it is always better to have more than one way to do anything.

Christmas has started …..


   It is the office Christmas night out tonight. I never go. Not these days. They always end the same way. Someone will try and get off with someone, someone will get too drunk, someone will get violent and someone will get lost. Everyone will say what a wonderful time they had, whilst bitching about everyone else. Not for me, I’m afraid. I mean, lets face it, you spend on average (or so I’ve heard) about 220 days a year with these people. Many of whom, you cannot really stand the sight of, and can just about tolerate them for 7 hours in the day. Then you are expected to go out for the evening with them, and what’s more … enjoy yourself !!!!!!

   I managed to get a few of presents for Mrs H today. That takes the total to five. I have had to leave them in the car boot. I’ll take them out on Sunday, and wrap them then. I have no real idea what else to get now. It is always the same. Every Christmas, and birthdays come to think, do I struggle to find something.

An interesting day…


   Interesting, may not be the correct word here. It has been a very good day. Despite the rain when I was putting the washing out, and despite the fact that the bed sheet is too large for the dryer. R*** has been in an exceptional good mood. We have had singing and laughing and joking with him. There has been no violent outbursts whatsoever. He has eaten his meals without any fuss, if fact he seems to have eaten more today than i have seen him eat in a long time. The interesting fact though, is that he has had no medication at all. It is now 10:20pm and he seems like is is almost ready for bed. Just need to get him to turn his PC off. Fingers crossed.

   I sorted out the problem I had with the windows Recent Documents folder. It seems there is a bug in Office 2007. If you open and save a file, from within the application, be it Word, Excel or whatever, then no shortcut is placed in the windows Recent Documents folder. However, if you open the file from explorer then it does appear. I don’t know why I was that bothered really, as I never remember to look in Recent Documents. I usually tend to use explorer or open the file from within the application. Live and learn.

   Whilst I am on about Microsoft and windows. I recently downloaded, and installed the new Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) software. It got good reviews in the final beta stages, and even more when the product was released fully. It has been running for about a week now, and I decided today to remove it. Since installation, a number of basic actions, have been taking a great deal longer than usual. Applications like Windows Explorer taking 20 seconds to open, and memory sticks too. Now, I have AVG Free, Spybot S&D, Adaware,  Windows Firewall and Windows Defender. Do I really need yet another security product ?? MSE is supposed to be good, and from what I read, it is supposed to do away with Defender, but it cannot be a coincidence that as soon as I remove MSE, everything seems to get back to normal.

  Today is a bit of a blogging celebration. I have now posted everyday since 11 July 2009. Feeling really pleased with myself. It has sometimes been a bit of a bind, trying to think of something to post, but I have managed it, even if it has only been a short paragraph posted from my mobile. Here is to the next three months.

Office Online


Well just had a crack at sharing a file using Microsoft Office Online. I uploaded a  .docx file, and invited someone to share it. I’m not sure if they will be able to open or view it, as they may not have the correct software. They may not even have the knowledge or skill to open or view it. If they cannot, I’ll have to resort to email, which is probably what I should have done in the first place.

I am not sure about this ‘cloud’ thing at all. I certainly will not be uploading anything of real value for the time being. I’m still coming to terms with Office 2007 and the ‘ribbon’. If Office Online works, and the hackers don’t get hold of it, then it could become a useful tool for home and work. I don’t suppose our work IT department will be promoting it. We tend to lag behind with this kind of ‘net’ technology. Mind you, I suppose it could be a real security threat. If someone uploaded a sensitive document, and then shared it with the wrong group of people !!!