Not really my style . . .


A few months ago, after reading this blog, a friend made the suggestion that I might want to have a go at creating either a video blog post (Vlog) or an audio blog post (podcast). After I had finished laughing, I tried to explain my reasons for not wanting to go down this line:

“I don’t have any recording equipment!” was my first line of defence. “You have a smartphone!” was the response.

“I wouldn’t have sufficient space on my WordPress account for audio/video files!” was my riposte. “Just create a link to a shared area on your One Drive!” came the return.

At that point, I made an excuse and logged off the app I was chatting on.

The main issue is with both a Podcast and a Video blog, is that I know what my voice sounds like. In my head, I sound like a young Charles Dance. In reality, my accent is quite broad(ish) and I sound like a poor man’s Fred Truman, which makes me feel a little self-conscious. So I don’t think you will be hearing from me in that sense, any time soon. Although … I did get a phone tripod, just in case.

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The path to “Lock-down … episode IV” has begun. I was shopping for a few essentials (wine, beer, gin etc) in a local supermarket. Ninety per cent, of the shoppers were continuing to wear a face mask as requested. But I could not help noticing five or six customers that seemed to think that pulling the neck of their T-shirts over their mouth would work. The fact that as soon as they reach out to take something off the shelf, their mouth becomes exposed seemed to have little or no effect.

I fear that these next few weeks are going to be ‘make or break’ in this pandemic. Of course, the Prime Minister cannot lose here. As the Government appears to have abandoned responsibility and forced that responsibility onto us, he is in a ‘win-win’ situation. If everything goes well after the great ‘unlocking’ then he will be the Hero of the day. However, if the whole thing goes pear-shaped, then it will be our fault for dodging our own personal responsibilities.

Fingers crossed . . .


© Nottingham Post

Well the youngest went off this morning. His lead care worker and another care worker picked him around half past ten. We hadn’t told him where he was going, only that his flat wasn’t finished (he knew it was being decorated) and he was going on an ‘adventure’. K*** told him last night, and we were on tenterhooks regarding his reaction. This was another change to the plan. People on the Autistic Spectrum often don’t react favourably to changes to a routine. But it surprised us both. He just looked up from his laptop with a bit of a confused look, smiled and carried on searching You Tube for his favourite videos. I went up later and asked if he was excited about his ‘adventure’ and he said he was. We now just have to wait and see how the two carers go with it. I’m not sure if it is his medication or the care staff, or a combination of both that means things can change without too much upset. A year ago, any slight change would often result in an autistic meltdown, but these days, he just appears to accept things better.

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New phone arrived today. It’s the same make, just a later model. The price on eBay was £142.99, but for some bizarre reason there was a discount of £28.60 on the deal, but I had to buy that day. It was the phone I wanted, so I went for it. I was just about to go through my Cashback site for another 1% off when K*** explained that if I went through her Cashback site, I could get another 10% off. After a bit of ‘umming and ‘arring I bit the bullet and bought the phone. It now looks as if the phone will cost me £102.99. Not a bad saving!

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!

Beyond belief …


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waste of 40 minutes …


Not quite 40 minutes but it seemed like it. So what was the waste? I have been wondering about adding a vlog post to this blog. Do not know what I want from it yet, but thought it could be another string to my bow. Ladies and gentlemen, I have to announce that “It’s not going to anytime happen soon folks!” Firstly for want of a better word, the camera on this laptop is dire. In fact, it is probably worse than dire. It was grainy with the poorest sound reproduction ever. It took most of the said 40 minutes to work out how to start the recording. Then after viewing the video I began to wish I had not found out how to!

So then, onto the iPad. Much better camera, better resolution (although still very grainy), but I found myself looking at the screen rather than the camera itself. Result was that I seemed to be looking to the right all the time. Not good at all.

Next I tried my smartphone. This has a great camera. The resolution was much better but again can’t quite train myself to look at the camera.  Hence on that video I appeared to be looking at my feet most of the time.

In conclusion, unless I can get a better camera set-up, I think my days as a VLogger have to be put out to pasture. I might try and rig up my Panasonic Lumix Camera as a web-cam. I seem to remember seeing that it can connect to a computer using a HDMI cable. I also have one of those Flip cameras, but that only has one capture lens.

Labels … and other things


To be more precise … clothing labels. Wash-care labels, sizing labels and any other label that is on the inside of the clothes. Why do they always seem to have sharp edges and corners? It maybe the type of clothes I buy, cost , make, whatever, but I always have to remove the label before I wear them. If I don’t, then they scratch and boy does that scratch irritate. I think this the reason my youngest son R***, who is Autistic, cuts out the label from every item of clothing he has. The difference between us is where I cut out the label with a few (not so mild) expletives and hurl them in the general direction of the waste bin, he carefully stores each one in a mug on his computer desk. Last count he had over two hundred. We dare not throw them out.

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Now, talking about R***, his room at home has, and I may have mentioned this previously, a laptop, a TV (now new) a Sky box, a DVD player, a CD/Cassette player, and until yesterday morning a faulty VHS video player. It’s been faulty for about six to eight months, maybe more and had an old VHS tape stuck inside. He tend to want to use it when the Sky connection fails. But it does not work. We had in the other bedroom a further five players that had been given to us when his previous player broke back in November 2014. A friend heard about his breaking and kindly let us have all the ones she had. There were no guarantees with them, but one of them did actually work. The issue with that was no handset. Without the handset, there was no tracking and without tracking, the tapes were unwatchable.

The failure of his TV and his weeks respite gave us a great opportunity to remove the VHS player and hope that he either did not realise it or did not care about it. They are now stored, for the foreseeable future in the garage. As with the labels, we dare not throw them out!

Have you ever ?


Some time ago, I had a go at recording a Vlog. I think that’s the name for posting a video as a blog post. When I say ‘I had a go’ what I really mean is that I sat in front of my Webcam and tried to make a recording. It was as I expected a total disaster. So much so that it/they got deleted from my computer within minutes of watching it/them back.

I tried two ways of doing the recording. The first attempt was completely off the cuff. I prepared nothing at all and just spoke, as if I was writing. The problem with that method is that unless you are utterly focused you can just clam up. When I’m writing a post, such as this, I often will stop … pour a glass of wine …look at what my wife is watching on TV  and things like that. It never is a straight forward sit and write until it’s done. That doesn’t work with a video, unless you are an expert in video editing.

The second attempt saw me writing out my monologue/rant/story and trying to read as I recorded. Unfortunately, that is exactly what it looked like. Even though I had practised and rehearsed, it just looked like I was a 1950’s newsreader giving the headlines with no auto-cue. So I don’t really think the Vlog is for me. I may willing to have another go sometime in the future, the distant future, but I think I will need a lot of help if I’m to take it at all serious.

The prodigal returns


Well, the eldest returned home on Saturday. Me and Mrs H, have been bringing bits and pieces back from his flat since early last week. Saturday was the ‘move’ day. It took three trips to shift everything home and by the end of the day, I was completely shattered !!!! However, it is quite amazing how much ‘stuff’ you can get in the back of a 2005 Ford Ka !!! With the back seats dropped, it turns into a small van, but I did struggle when we come to put in a ‘put-me-up-bed’. I just have to locate the coach screws for his TV wall bracket and he will be sorted.

Mrs K decided that It would be good for him (and me) to go to the pub on Saturday night, so that made the day even longer ! We met up with one of his drama friends, so it was quite a good evening. I can see though, that he will be wanting to go out on more evenings, which as he has no income yet, could prove a bit expensive. I’m only used to going out on Tuesday and Fridays. Still it must be strange coming home after 2 years of living more or less as you please.

Youngest has been a bit up and down since the school holidays started. He frets about things and this leads to him being a bit aggressive at times. At the moment he is fretting about the summer play scheme at school. He will enjoy it, he always does, it is just that he will say he does not want to go, and this will become a theme with him. His latest thing, is having his laptop and TV/video running all night. Problems this morning, when his laptop crashed with an ‘out of memory’ error. It would appear that he had 4 or 5 YouTube videos running on automatic reply, whilst recording the sound with sound recorder. Six hours later I turned the sound recorder off !!

Work is going quite well for the time being. The latest initiative is set to go live next week, so there is plenty to keep me occupied. I’m trying to make some of the reports more accessible to others, which on the one hand keeps me working, but on the other hand somewhat negates the need for me at times. It is a difficult balancing act.

Expected


   The backlash came as expected. He seems to keep things in his mind, pondering or worrying over them, until the bubble bursts. In this case, he woke up at 01:00am on Wednesday morning!! Now usually, he puts his TV on, with the sound turned right down, and goes back to sleep. This time, did did not go straight back to sleep, and was up and down until about 04:30 am, when he did seem to drift off. However he was back awake at around 08:30 am. Both Mrs H and me were complete wrecks. To cap it all, the eldest was coming across for a drama meeting (did I mention he was directing the local group play this year?), which results in a trip to the pub at 09:30pm. It was gone midnight, when we finally left, so not much sleep last night either.

   This evening, we had another bad do with him. All stemmed from him wanting to download a video from the internet. He had found a Japanese site, similar to YouTube, and wanted me to download from there. It could not be done, not with any of the download tools I have. Not a good night.

Well pleased …..


   The computer task I had scheduled to run as a test, this morning, went without a hitch. The routine started, did what it had to do and finished. A couple of things were different from the usual, but it is nothing untoward. Part two of the testing will happen next week. I have set the routine to run at 1 minute past midnight on Monday morning. If all goes to plan, and I don’t see why it should not, then our notices will be ready for printing when we get in.

   Youngest is not very happy tonight. Mrs H said he was upset when he got home, and that he had been upset on the bus. We are guessing, as he cannot tell us, that someone on the bus is causing him a problem. Of course, the escorts can’t say what upsets him, just reports that he is out of sorts. Mrs H is seeing his teacher tomorrow, so may get more of an idea. Could be the length of time he is on the bus that’s the problem. It is silly really. We only live a mile and a half away, but he has to go by the school transport because there is nowhere to park to drop him off.

   I uploaded a video, to Facebook from the gig on Saturday night. Looks quite good, and already B** tagged his flatmate in it. Well pleased ……

Early start ….


   That early start, was the youngest. For some reason he awoke at around 01:45. Now usually, when he wakes early like that, he’ll lie in bed with his video playing quietly, and eventually drift off back to sleep. We have leaned not to turn his video off at times like that, as it usually wakes him again. However last night was different. He did not go back to sleep at all. And of course both me and Mrs H lay there, dozing with one ear open, listening for every little noise. Between 2:00am and around 4:00am, I must have been up four times to get him a drink or something to eat. So we are both a little bit tired.

   Eldest is back today, big drama rehearsal today, so lots to do at the village hall. He was there at 01:30, but should be back here around five. He then has to go back at around 7:00pm, and that could take until well after 10:00pm, as it is a full run through dress rehearsal. Hopefully, I’ll get the programme details when he comes home for tea. I get the impression that this panto, has not been as well organised as previous years, and has not gone as smooth as it should have. Time will tell.

   Managed to write my Christmas cards for work this afternoon. When I say ‘write’ what I mean, is that I put my name inside the card, and the recipients name on the envelope. Job done !!! I’ll now just wait for the people that I have missed, like every year.

   Leeds Utd managed a 1 – 1 draw, at Kettering Town today. They could have finished it off a couple of times, but the Kettering keeper (and manager) played very well. Still, we should beat them at Elland Road. Well hope so anyway.

Saturday 10/10/09


   It was a long evening yesterday. With the youngest being away for the week, he was keen to get back onto the internet. So much so,that it was gone 11:30pm, when he finally went back to his room. At last we thought (well I thought, Mrs H was already in bed), at last, he going to settle down. But no ! There was a print to do, and he was part way through creating one of his pictures. All this finished about midnight. “Bed now ?” I asked hopefully. His reply was the usual ‘10 minutes’. So he watched a video for just about 10/15 minutes. Of course, then he needed his ‘goodnight’ cuddle from his mum. So all in all, it must have been about 12:30am when he finally went to his own bed.

   You would have though he would have been really tired, but he has still chattering away to himself at 01:00am. I know this, as I had just been woken by Mrs H. She is just getting over a cold (no not Swine Flu), and is suffering from a very bad hacking cough. It was this that woke me, and continued to wake me at around every 30 minutes or so. Then at 06:00am, on the dot, R*** woke up. So a late night, with fitful sleep, and an early wake up, sees me a bit bushed. And don’t for a moment think that R*** will going to bed early to catch up on his sleep !! Not a chance. It will be around 11:00pm when we get him settle down, and he’ll be up again at 07:00am. I could put money on it.

A successful day


   Today went pretty much as expected. I managed to get nine PDA’s installed and back into service. So I’m the hero of the day again. Then to top it all the remaining thirteen PDA’s came back from repair. I’ll put another seven into service tomorrow, which should mean more praise. If only I took it serious. I must get those renewals done tomorrow though. It’s getting urgent now.

   We got to talk to S**** on Skype tonight. The video and audio was not brilliant, but that could be down to a number of things. Connection, network speed etc, etc. I’ll do a Google and see what it comes up with. I think though, that it could be my PC and the processor speed. We also tried a video call with messenger, but that was just the same as last time. I think Mrs H expects it to be a lot better than it is. Only one contact on tonight (at the moment), although N*** is probably hidden.

   R*** has been remarkably calm tonight (fingers and things crossed). He kicked off a little first thing, but that may have been leftover from last night. Mrs H said he did not have his medication this morning. He did not need it, so only two doses all day. We thought he was going off earlier this evening, but it came to nothing at all, and he seems very content at the moment. Mind you we have had this before. Little devil lulls you into a false sense of security then bang !!! and all the theories go out the window.

   I played at being Captain Stupid tonight !!!! We were watching Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and the viewer question came up. I quickly noted the number and the answer down. Pulled out my PAYG phone and texted the answer. Three minutes later, the acknowledgement came back. It was then that I realised, that we were watching a recording from yesterday !!!!! Thankfully, it would appear that I only paid a standard text message charge, not the usual £1.00 entry charge.

   Oh, remember me saying that the biog I’m reading did not have any endnotes ? Well it has !! Lots of them, but unusually none of those irritating subscript numbers embedded in the text. I always feel I should look to see what the note is. It is then so frustrating, when the note refers you to another book !!!

   I finally worked out how to update Twitter from my phone. It would appear, that I have to use the mobile web version. Otherwise I pay 15p each update if I use a Twitter app. Now, go on, ask me how often I’ll use it. Well about as often as I use facebook on my mobile, about four times a week !!! But still it’s there when I want it.