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.