Tech woes part the third …


I suppose one of the most baffling problems I had over the past couple of weeks was with Windows TaskTS Scheduler. I needed to run a task to open and run an Excel spreadsheet. Excel would open a specific sheet and then a macro would update the sheet and save it in one of my cloud storage areas. 

Error 1I have done this every six months over the past four years, without any problems, until now. The task is a “one time” task as the file name changes each time it is saved. So I opened up Task Scheduler, and immediately received  one of two similar error messages. These seem to point to some problem with updating some software. I closed each message and set up a random test task to see if it was still working and all seemed to be good. The test ran fine which I took to mean that the issue might not be as problematic as I first thought. But it was annoying and I needed to stop it happening.

I began to trawl through the various tasks that were set to run, and to be honest there wasn’t that many and I could not find any that related to any kind of update. I did find a number of tasks that related to software I no longer use such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and Photoshop Express, which should have been removed when I uninstalled them.

So it was back to the forum that I use, to ask the question and see what came up. Like most help forums it wasWoody a couple of hours before anybody came up with anything. When help arrived, unfortunately it didn’t help much.  But then I got a message from an old colleague. FoxThey seemed to think that it may be some software that was new or had recently been updated. There were two programmes that had a recent file date. Firefox browser was one and an application called PyCharm that is an IDE (Pythonintegrated development environment) that I was using as a front end for my learning the Python programming language.

PyChI removed both and the problem disappeared. So I reinstalled Firefox and checked Task Scheduler. Still no problem which led me to believe that PyCharm was the culprit. It was confirmed when I reinstalled PyCharm and the errors returned. That has gone for now with some feedback to the software house. I now need to look for another free IDE to work with Python.

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 … difficult days


I was now back as a full time help-desk operator and I’m struggling. I had been more or less thrown in at the deep end. I had explained before I went into hospital, some 4 months previous, that I was going to need to retraining. But when asked again I was told that there was no individual training. The Government cuts to the Councils budget was beginning to hit hard and the only training that was available was the old school “sitting with Nellie!’ Now this would have been fine if so called ‘Nellie’ had any sort of patience. This ‘Nellie’ was the colleague that wanted the job that I got, so you can imagine that there was a little bit of animosity going on.

I plodded on through the next couple of months and managed to let colleagues believe that I knew what I was doing. In reallity, I was bluffing it. There was a few things that I did know, but these were the easy things that I tended to miss. One of my colleagues realised what was happening and began to take me under their wing. She pulled out a lot of training manuals and told me to ask if there was anything I needed. I found out months later, that she had been asked to help me by the service manager. I was still struggling, but it was starting to get easier.

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Then came the Christmas shutdown. That’s when the Council made non-essential office staff take leave from Christmas Eve to January the 2nd. But, just before that holiday, I was told that I was to be working on another project. I was to be part of the Waste Collectors team (bin men). The Council were developing some software to monitor the amount of waste that householder put in their waste bins. I was transferring back to the office where I had been working for years in the Parking Service. I had come home.

The project should last a year and I was back amongst real (sic) friends.

Glutton …


I’m forever downloading free apps for my phone, iPad and even my laptop. I hear or see someone mention some piece of software or app and immediately think “… that might be useful or fun or whatever …” They very rarely are and I usually end up uninstalling the things and questioning what I was thinking!

Here’s an example: I received an email regarding a regular local meeting that was due to be cancelled. Within that email, was a link to what seems to be a ‘collaboration hub’ called Slack. As mentioned I thought “that might be good for…” although I cannot remember what I thought it would be good for. But me being me, I downloaded and installed the software.

I then spent the following hour, firstly trying to understand how to use the program and the next 20 minutes trying to figure out what I would do with it. As a result, I think it is a piece of software that would be useful in a workplace environment or a user group, but I don’t think it was for me. I mean, who do I need to collaborate with?

So I needed to say goodbye and as usual my trusty copy of Revo Uninstaller comes into it’s own. It’s one of the very few pieces of free software that I have kept for a long time. It is so easy to use, and I haven’t used half of the features. I often think I should cough-up and pay for a full copy, but as it works as is, I think I will stick with what I’ve got.

Giving it another go …


At the end of last year, in fact my last post of the year I mentioned that I was going to stick with Open Live Writer as opposed to the WordPress block editor. I was also occasionally using BlogPad Pro on my iPad. But things have changed a little since then.

I had read about my sites Media Library and decided to have a look and see what was in there. I was rather shocked to find that most of the images I had uploaded for my posts had duplicates. They didn’t appear to be taking up much space, but I wanted to know if it was ‘the norm’ to have duplicated images.

I posted a query on the WordPress forum and after a few questions and answers, it became clear that it was the desktop software (Open Live Writer and BlogPad Pro) that were causing the images to duplicate. It looks like a thumbnail image was being created when the main image was uploaded which was linked to the main image. As I understood it, deleting the thumbnail image would prevent the main image from showing or something like that.

The crux of it all was that the only way to prevent this happening was to use the block editor. It was also suggested, that as I prefer to use desktop software to write a post, that I should use the WordPress app instead.

So, I’m giving it another go …

From then to now … all change


Within a few weeks, and a lot quicker than I imagined, I was ‘invited’ to attend an interview. It was one of those interviews where you know you have got the job from the very start. The team I was to be Interviewworking in were basically an IT help-desk for part of the councils Environmental Services department. We were the people that ‘sorted’ the problems that Environmental Health officers had with the software they used. ImprovingI found it difficult as a lot of the problems that cropped up were down to errors in the software, rather than user errors. To fix these, I needed to know the programming side of the software. Although I did know some programming techniques, the ones needed were far more complicated. There were five of us, and although I kept my grade, I was back at the bottom of the pile. I have to admit I struggled for the first couple of months, but gradually I began to gain more knowledge and my confidence increased.

Then it all went wrong again!

The departmental heads still had to save money, and so our little IT support team (as we liked to call Helpdesk teamourselves) were to be merged with a much larger team that supported all of the Environmental service areas and also the councils Housing department. We went from being a team of five to be part of a team of over forty. This was a real help-desk job now. Sat in an office with a laptop, smart-phone and a head-set with a whole range of new software to learn. I knew from the start that it was not the job for me. I spent most of the time trying to understand the new work and really not getting very far.

And then the day of my heart operation arrived (see this thread for more) I was going to be off work for three months while I recovered, which was going to be an ideal time to find something I was more at home with. Or so I thought.

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.

Should I bite the proverbial …


I’m in a bit of a quandary. I use some old banking software to keep a record of my spending and to give some kind of warning of when bills are due. I’ve been using Microsoft Money for over 20 years now and although it was discontinued some years ago, it still works and does the job I want it to. Now the issue is, that I would like to be able to access the data from one of the two other computers that I have. In order to do this, I need to able to save the data somewhere other than the laptop I am currently using. The two ways I can see this being able to work is:

  1. I save the data file on a portable hard-drive (maybe even a flash drive) or
  2. I store the file in the ‘cloud’ on my Microsoft OneDrive.

I use the OneDrive for a few files, but none of which are really important so it feels a bit scary to use it for something as important as my bank balances. I have to state here that it is only the transactions that are stored. No bank or personal details are kept within the data files, but it does worry me. Does anyone else have the same fears?

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.

 

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.

Doing a bit of computer housekeeping …


I (currently) own two laptops. My main one sits on my computer desk in the living room but the previous one lives in S****s (the spare bedroom) bedroom. Both work fine but the old one was beginning to get a little slow. So on Friday I decided to give a good clear out and try and bring it to a more reasonable speed. I first spent about three hours getting the system up-to date. As I tend not to use it as much as I use the more recent one, it had fallen a little behind with the “up-dates”.

On Saturday morning I ran a small piece of software that checks most of my applications to see if there re any updates for them. The list was quite large, but as I was not going to be using all the applications on the laptop, I only updated a few. Later in the day I began to uninstall some of the bigger software apps. I managed to get three done before I got fed up with it. Started again this morning and after around four hours, I was in a position to write this post. The machine is now much faster, and it is my intention to use this one to work on any creative writing I happen to be engaged in.

The problem I had was the the Microsoft cloud storage on the ‘old’ laptop was called “SkyDrive” whereas on the ‘newer’ laptop it’s called “OneDrive”. It caused me a bit of grief to get the two synchronised, but I eventually got it sorted. You see if I wanted to do any work, such as write this blog on a Sunday, it was a problem. R*** like to use my newer laptop before he has his lunch, and this has now become part of his routine. It meant that any ideas I wanted to write down had to wait until he had finished.

Random Microsoft rant …


Yes, it’s that time again when I have a bit of a rant at, what is arguably the most successful IT companies ever. I have to say, that I/we have a fair bit of personal IT equipment in the house. I have two laptops, three tablets and two smartphones, K*** has a tablet and a smartphone and R*** has two laptops and a tablet. The laptops are all Windows laptops with mine running Windows 10. R***’s laptops are still running Window 7 and 8 respectively, but that is because of the way he uses his computers. He only uses Internet Explorer and YouTube so he has no need for all the ‘whistles and bells’ that later versions bring.

To get to the point. Windows 10 is now ‘provided as a service’ as Microsoft says. This basically means that for home users, there is no choice but to update their computers when Microsoft say so. It is different for business and educational systems, who can refrain from updating if they like. But for us mere mortals, we do as we are told. There are ways around this, but it is often too much hassle.

So on Friday, I noticed that my main laptop was showing that an update was ready to apply. This is what Microsoft called the ’Windows 10 Fall Creators Update’ and is a major update to the system. The main issue I have with this forced update regime is that sometimes Microsoft will remove files that it deems are no longer useful. Now I have a piece of software that I use for my banking. It is what they call ‘legacy software’ which one way of saying outdated. But I call it ‘critical software’ as it suits my purpose and without paying a lot of money, there is nothing similar out there. The same software is on my other laptop, as a backup, which for the past month had been disconnected from the internet in order that it did not update with the possibility of breaking the software. So I bit the bullet and ran the update. It took two and a quarter hours to run! But, in the end, the software ran without issue, so all was good. I now felt that it was safe enough update the other laptop.

It was now 09:30 on Saturday morning. I started up the other laptop and ran the update checker which advised me that there were a number of updates waiting. Clicked on the update button and sat back waiting for it to finish. After about two hours I had a quick look to see what was happening, only to find that two of the updates had failed to install. I did a reboot and tried again. Still nothing. So later in the evening around about 21:15, I ran a utility that cleared some files and tried again. This time I saw that the updates were going through. I turned the screen off and left it too it. I checked about 23:30 and it was still running. It actually finished at 04:20. Just over seven hours to update! Amazing!

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A Rant, A Query and a bit of a Moan


I’m going to start with a bit of a rant. I know I have mentioned this before, but I can knit. Not huge amounts of clothes but usually small crafty items, such as daffodils and hearts and the like. DaffsI’ve done it on and off since I as about 8 years old, and when I’m in the mood, I really enjoy it. Now the issue I have, is that nearly all the magazines and websites dedicated to knitting do not seems to tailor any  of their content to the male knitter. Men have always knitted, and while todays society is a little less ‘macho’ enforced it is still rare to see a man knitting in public. I’ve done it, and you do feel very self conscious. It is not until your public realise that it can be quite intricate and that you are quite good at it, that some semblance of normality creeps in.

It annoys me when you see articles about knitting STheSin magazines or on the internet, that they almost always show pictures of women with their needles (never call them pins!) in their hands. It is the same with sewing and embroidery … never men. I recently signed up to an online knitting forum, with the intention expressing my concerns in the area on male knitting. I was more than disappointed when my registration confirmation email, which was addressed to Anthony Huby, started with “Dear Ms …” I’m still awaiting comments on that first post!

Here endeth today’s rant.

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I’m pondering at the moment, as to what software to use to write. I have Microsoft Word, which I tend to use mostly. However, there are a lot of suggestions that I need to write with software that has a cleaner interface. By that I mean not as many ‘whistles and bells’. Something a little plainer. More than a simple text editor such as Wordpad though, and possibly software that is dedicated for writers.

The two top mentioned software applications seems to be Scrivener and yWriter. I found both very confusing to use. Scrivener was a trial version, and had a number of features that were not available, but even so, I found it difficult to understand. yWriter is freeware, but was even more confusing as it tries to concentrate your mind on breaking chapters down into what it calls ‘scenes’.

I have tried both but think I am going to go back to Word. It’s an application that I know quite well and have used for a long (long) time. I’m loathe to pay for more software (don’t like paying for anything if the truth were known) if what I have got does the job.

What do all you writers out there in WordPress land use, and just as importantly, is it free?

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Back to work tomorrow! Not looking forward to it at all. I still feel a little under the weather, but not ill enough to warrant any more time off. Of course, the question I always get asked (we have a ‘return to work interview’) will be “Are you back to 100%?” I’ve not been 100% for many years, I tend to hover around a normal level of around 92%, so the question always winds me up a little.

I’ll get the usual raised eyebrows when I mention I’ve been off with a ‘cold’. These are the same people that would complain if they caught a cold, that “…they got it from ‘so and so’ who has been sneezing all over the place …” Can’t win with a simple cold!See what I mean

We are also starting with a new telephone system tomorrow. It uses Skype for Business as its exchange and means that laptop users, which most of us are, will have to wear a headset, when making or receiving a phone call. I’m expecting to look like an overpaid telephonist (no offence). It is supposed to save the Council. The theory, as I understand it is that as we already use Skype for Business for instant messaging, using it as a phone does not coast any more. Training on the new system seems to be a bit sporadic, but as ‘The Team’ are classed as IT people, I think we are supposed to just get on with it. That part of tomorrow could be quite intriguing.

It had to improve …


It started when I got home Friday afternoon. I left early as K*** was taking her mother to an appointment and I needed to be home in time for R*** coming home. He’d been on respite since Tuesday and has been getting home the previous week at about16:40. So I needed to ensure that I was home in good time to allow for problems on the motorway.

The guy who had done our rendering was supposed to have been to clear up, but he can’t have done much because it was hardly noticeable. What I did see though was that he had dumped some of the rubble he had cleared in the garden waste bin. Working for the Councils Waste Management, I know that he should not have done that and that we could have our garden waste collection stopped. I managed to get most of it out and into an old compost bag which I can get rid of later.

So back to being home early for R***. What a waste of time! It was 17:40 when the taxi finally dropped him off with the drivers excuse that there had been a ‘serious accident at the roundabout.’ Now this was a blatant lie. When I got home, I checked the travel details on the BBC website, which showed that traffic on the motorway was running fine with no delays in our area. I continued to check as it can give an indication of the time that R*** would arrive home. There were no issues at all. It was a lie. K*** is going to check what time he was picked up, and she will take it from there.

The thing with R*** is that when his routine is compromised, the effect comes out in his behaviour. It’s one part of his Autistic condition that we always try to prepare for. Doesn’t always work though. He started to get a bit tetchy at around 21:00, shouting and playing his computer at full volume. We gave him some medication to settle him, which seemed to work. He became more his usual self. Went off to bed at the usual time and it was all as it should be.

Then disaster! At about 01:00 we heard him shouting, not too loudly, but loud enough to realise he was not dreaming. K*** went to see him and called me to look at his computer. Now I think I have mentioned this before, but R*** sleeps with both his TV and computer on. His TV is on a specific channel and his computer has some YouTube videos on a loop. Both are very quiet, but he always has them on. What happened was that his computer was not working. It was completely dead with no power at all. I checked all the other power connections and they were working okay. So I changed the fuse in the plug for the computer and tried again. Nothing! Then without warning, his computer kicked back into life. All happy again. I could only surmise that the computer battery had completely discharged. It was either the fuse or more likely that the power cable had come loose from the machine.

By this time though R*** had gone into partial melt-down and K*** had given him some of his PRN medication. This really calms him down, but sometimes effects his sleep pattern. It was about 04:00 that he finally settled to sleep. A long night for all of us.

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Now after ‘The Curious Incident of Laptop in the Night’ to paraphrase, I began to worry about what would happen if his computer had not restarted and was broken. He does have another laptop that he takes when goes on respite, but that is for there. He just would not accept that he could use it at home. I began to think that my ‘old’ laptop could be upgraded to Windows 10. I bought a new one when Microsoft started to push Win 10 and reduced the mainstream support for Win 7. I did not want to upgrade my machine as there was some core software that I use, that was reported not to work in Win 10.

So, I bit the bullet and decided to upgrade the old machine to Win 10 and use it as an emergency machine. I knew it as going to take a couple of hours, but what I was not prepared for was the actual time it would take. It was 10:30 when I clicked the ‘Upgrade’ button and I sat for the next hour watching what was happening. I had been told that there was very user input, and that was correct. It finally finished installing leaving me with a workable system, just under eight and a half hours later!

I am now in the process of un-installing all the software that nobody would actually use. Could be another long day.

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A quick update on my early retirement bid. On the 7th, I emailed the pension company asking for a copy of my 2015/16 pension statement. The reply I got back was short and sweet telling me that the ‘… statements were being sent out everyday, in alphabetical order and I should hear in a couple of months …’ I was going to wait until Saturday and write a more detailed email to point out why I needed the statement now. So it came as a bit of a surprise when the post came on Saturday morning to find my 2015/16 pension statement had been sent. Date of printing … 7th June. Coincidence?

Been another long day …


INR blood test day today. Now that the footbridge over the Wharfe in Tadcaster has been installed,Damaged bridge going for the test has got a whole lot easier. Instead of a  20 miles detour, it’s now more or less back to the usual 8 mile trip. The old road bridge was severely damaged in the floods in December. So badly damaged that it partially collapsed and has had to be closed . For the past two months or so, the town of Tadcaster has been virtually split in two. It has had a lot of television coverage, footbridgebut it is only when you see the damage and what it has done to the town that you really appreciate the new footbridge and the near normality it has brought back. So back to the blood test. It was my favourite phlebotomist that was in today, so it was a quick ‘in & out’ and the job was done. Well almost a quick in and out. The usual vein proved to be rather obstinate and it took a couple of attempts before she got a flow. But I was still in and out, before half past 8 and was on my way to work in good time.

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Work proved a little stressful. It was ‘go-live’ day for part of the project I’m working on. It should have gone without a problem, but as is normal for this project, it all went wrong. We had to get the engineer for the software house out, who after a few tests decided that a part of the equipment was faulty. So that was the end of that. The part has been ordered and we will start again on Thursday of Friday. I’m hoping for Friday, as that would mean having to miss the team meeting (sad face, tears, depression etc etc.) Hopefully, that will fix the issue and I will be the hero of the day!

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Serious Autistic melt-down from R*** tonight. We had been concerned since he got in that all was not well with him. He was ‘droning’ which is basically him walking around with his fingers in his ears humming loudly. It sometime is indicative of him having a headache, but this has never been proven. We gave him the usual 20mils of liquid paracetamol, but we knew that it was probably not going to work. Ninety minutes later it went downhill really quickly. He completely lost all control. K*** managed to give him his ‘come-down’ medication, and eventually he started to settle. We are now two hours on, and he is still a little distressed, but at least the violence has stopped.  

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This was supposed to be the start of my ‘short and often’ posts, but it still has gone over 450 words. Maybe 450 words is becoming my norm, or maybe I had a lot to say today …

New lappy … getting there … ish


So the new laptop arrived on Monday and I have to say I was a bit worried about how I was going to accept the change. But after a few false starts, I am beginning to get the hang of this Windows 10. I think I have mentioned this before, but I am one of those people who find change for change sake difficult. I’ve been using Window 7 for heaven knows how many years now, and it was a bit of a struggle upgrading from Windows XP. I resisted changing then until I was forced to change.

My main worry in upgrading to Win 10 was the issues surrounding my financial software. I have been using Microsoft Money 2002 since I got my first real PC (back in 2002 as you may have guessed) and it has been really useful. I have never used the so called ‘on-line’ banking facilities that Money 2002 featured, so it was mainly a simple cheque book monitor. The decision I took was that I would buy a new laptop with Win 10 and keep my old one as just a non-connected machine, so that Money 2002 would continue to be of use. So imagine my surprise, when finding a post on the Internet that stated Microsoft Money 2005 was available for free download, and that it had been proven to work on Windows 10. After a nervous download and install, my latest fears were proven to be unfounded. The bloody software works! I’ve not done a full test yet, but things are looking good and when I checked, it looked to have a license key, so no need to register.

It is going to take a few more days to get me back up to scratch, but I will get there. I have so much on my old laptop that I probably will never replicate, but maybe that is a good thing. There is no doubt that much of the software (or ‘apps’ as they now seem to be called) I have accumulated over the past few years is not really used, so it may not take as long as I hoped. Wish me luck.

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.’

I sometimes hate MS Windows


For the past six days, my Windows Start button has been showing this . Now most Windows users know this to mean “Hello person. I have found that some of the files on your computer need updating. So shutdown/restart and we will get it sorted.” That’s what it is supposed to mean. I never update straight away, as I wait until I get the all clear from a website I subscribe to that checks there are no ‘after effects’ to installing the updates.

Today, after checking the site and finding no issues reported, I went ahead with the updates. This was at around 08:30 this morning. At just after 10:20, it finally finished. I had four restarts, one failed system restore and five attempts to install the updates, Three failed to install, so I will have to wait and see what happens there. But surly, it should not be that difficult? Now before all you Mac users tell me to scrap Windows and get an Apple machine, I can tell you that Apple updates can also be fraught with difficulties.

It all seems to be working as it should, but time will tell.

Watch out for this one ….


I’m pretty keen, when it comes to my online security and tend to delete any emails that offer any type of security/antivirus service, often without even reading them. On this occasion though, I thought I would share it with you, as a number of people I know have received this email and at least one of them has been fooled and responded to it. I have copied the text below (all links have been removed).

Dear Sir or Madame

We at VirtureScan are an industry renowned internet security company. We have been contacted by your Government as your ISP is alarmed at the volume of emails originating from your computer’s IP address. We have scanned some of these emails using our VitrureScan software and believe your computer has been contaminated with the Zeta321 virus. Currently there is no current AV software that is able to detect this virus. However we at VirtureScan have developed an online scanner that is able to hunt down this and remove it from your equipment.

There is a charge for this service, and the cost will be automatically deducted from your Paypal account. We understand that your ISP are willing to re-imbuse you for your cost.

We are currently offering a large discount of 68%, if you undertake the service by the end of today. After this the charge will reverse back to its original charge of $360.00.

If you our a responsible person, then you will take up this offer now. Click on the likn below to be taken to our site.

As you can see, there are a number of spelling and grammatical errors, and this type of thing should ring alarm bells. The link takes you to a website which I understand automatically installs a key logger type of virus. These capture every word you type and are used by hackers to break into any online banking you have. The name of the company changes often so it may not be the same if you receive the email. Just be aware.

Just a brief note


    Just thought I would mention this. The last post was created in word 2013 and then edited in WordPress. For the past, I don’t know how many years, I have written my blog posts in Microsoft Live Writer. This free piece of software came with Windows Live Essentials, and for the most part has been my ideal blogging software. Recently, however, I have been experiencing problems with some of the software extensions. More specifically the ‘Tag Creator’, which quite often crashes Live Writer and corrupts the draft.

    I have tried other blog writing software, but none of them have lived up to the standard that Live Writer offers. I understand now, the Live Writer is no longer developed\supported by Microsoft, hence the use of Word 2013. I just need to discover how I can add tags within Word, instead of having to post as draft then edit online.

Bit of rant and a bit of a moan.


So it’s Fathers Day!  What does that mean. Well is supposed to compliment Mothers Day, but basically, it’s just another Americanism that seems to have embedded itself into British culture. It you want a history about it see this link. I don’t like these ‘special’ days, that just seem  to be a money spinning scam for card retails both online and offline (funny how we now call shops, “offline” and not shops.) It annoys me how advertisers try to make you feel guilty for not celebrating this and similar days. Well my father died some time back, and as good as they claim to be, I bet even Moonpig.com can’t deliver one of their personalised cards to where he has gone to.

Now for the moan. I have a portable hard drive, that until yesterday, was where I was  keeping my Classic films. I say, until yesterday, because at around 22:45 last night, I decided to move them to my main laptop hard drive. Not such a difficult job and I have an applicaman-pulling-his-hair-out-300x138tion that does just that. Only problem was, that instead of moving them, it deleted them. I spent a good hour or so, searching my hard drive for sign of the files, but alas they were gone. However, I have in my software armoury, a program that will recover files that have been deleted, if it is done quite quickly afterwards. The software is called  Recuva and is part a group of very useful free tools available from a software company called Piriform. All are free for home use, and no serious computer user should be without them. Forgive me if I am sounding like a complete Geek, but sometimes specialised tools are needed and it is useful to have them on board from the start.

Good intentions


   I have meant to post, but the evenings just seems to run away these days. so to catch up. The play was as good as I was told it was going to be, and S**** was really pleased afterwards. As expected, Saturday night was a late one again. We got back in about half past two, and it would have been three when I fell into bed. Sunday was a lot quieter.

   The past week was a bit hectic at work. We were having some new hardware and software installed, and it never quite goes to plan. This time it was not too bad. Still had problems, but they seem to be working themselves out. Fingers crossed. But it made for a very exhausting week.

   Saturday, saw the first Strawberry Jam Music Festival. Well, I should explain. The toilets in the village hall need refurbishing, but there is no money to do it. One of the young people people in the village, decided to do something about it. She organised, what she called the ‘Strawberry Jam Music Festival’. It was basically a twelve hour musical event, featuring local, unsigned bands, that performed in the village hall. Some of the bands were quite well known in the local scene. Bands such as Soul Circus (who are playing both Leeds and Reading festivals), White Light Parade, Die Video Die, Testtone3 to name just a few. We had a Bramham guy called Owen Richards, who is part of a well known band called ‘Grammatics’. All in all, it was a good event.

   The PTA website is coming along nicely. i just need to get people to pass me information. And as important, visit the site. I’ve emailed the committee members, to try and get them to pass the web address to other. We will see what happens. At the moment, the stats have ‘flat-lined’. It would be good, if people would sign up for the email. That would help.