Category Archives: Articles

Staying Healthy!

I am by no means what you would call a “health nut”, but I am careful about what I eat, as I want to keep my body in as near as possible the same shape as it always has been. I am certainly not convinced that “Middle-aged spread” is at all unavoidable, and have managed so far to avoid most of the problems that people incur when they put on weight.

After watching “Sugar – The Bitter Truth”, which is an .avi file by Robert H. Lustig, and reading “Pure, White, and Deadly” (PDF) by John Yudkin, I was even more determined to restrict my sugar intake to an absolute minimum.

Sugar, however, is not the only source of unwanted body fat, and now Robert H. Lustig has come out with a new publication called Fat Chance_ Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. This I downloaded from , where it was available in “Mobi” format. I don’t use this format on my computer, but I can convert it to “Epub” using the “Calibre” program.

Unfortunately, when I loaded it into “Calibre” to start the conversion, the file was unreadable, so I searched around for an alternative. It was available as a torrent from the following source:-
and this had the advantage of already being in “Epub” format, and so would not require any conversion. I did check the “Mobi” file in “Calibre”, however, and it loads without any problem.

You might think that the material is as “dry as dust”, but this is not strictly true. Robert Lustig does try to liven things up a little at times. In fact, before the contents, he writes –

“This book is written only for those of you who eat food.
The rest of you are off the hook.”

If you need any further proof that doctors can be funny, try this:-

Warning! Make sure your bladder is nearly empty before reading this – or there could be accidents! It really is a scream in places.

This book is available as a free download from

And don’t forget:- “Laughter is the best medicine!”


Wheels within wheels!

It’s very strange how one thing leads to another.

I had an email message to say that “Limitless” liked a post on my blog. Well, I was curious about that, and went to look at his blog to see what he was doing. He really is doing some amazing things with graphics, and I would certainly recommend a visit to anyone else. The address is

While I was there, I looked at some of the comments people were making about his work, and they were all very appreciative. One of these was from a young lady called “rue202”, who lives in Australia, and who also runs a blog at

This blog I found very interesting, for Rachael, as her name turns out to be, has a rather different way of doing things – she posts chapters of her books on her blog! Seriously, she has already completed two parts of a trilogy, and is heavily into the third book already.

I read a couple of chapters, and thought to myself – “this is just what I need!” I had found a project that I could really get my teeth into, metaphorically speaking, of course. I downloaded all of Rachael’s chapters, and copied them into Open Office Writer. I ended up with three large files – one for each of Rachael’s books. The third one is the largest, and is not yet complete, as she hasn’t finished writing it yet.

The reason for using Open Office Writer I explained in a previous article “Electronic Publications”,
The “Writer2epub” extension to the Open Office Writer makes short work of converting a long string of text into a conveniently paged document. However, “Writer2epub” cannot handle everything you throw at it, as I found out in the course of the last 2 weeks.

It doesn’t like hyperlinks in documents, and it doesn’t handle graphics properly. The answer is to take all the links and graphics out of the material before you create the Open Office Writer document. They can be put back into the Epub file later, when you are tidying it up with “Sigil”. If you are at all into Epub, you must have “Sigil” available – it really is magic!.

Still not sold on EPUB? Grab the Epub Reader Extension to Firefox, subscribe to and download a few books for free. Most are available in both PDF and Epub formats, some only PDF. One that I particularly wanted, “Fat Chance”, by Robert H. Lustig, was only available in Mobi. No problem – I can use Calibre to convert that!

Just think of the bandwith you can save by downloading a book instead of a video. Fifty Shades of Grey, for example:- the video – 1.47 Gb, the PDF file – 2,133 Kb, and an Epub file would be smaller than that!

Are you convinced yet?

Dead, but it won’t lay down!

Microsoft 10 rears its ugly head periodically and still causes problems. Although I thought I had successfully killed the updates, I sometimes find that unexpectedly large volumes of data are being downloaded, and there is no indication of where this data is going at all.

All I see is that my prepaid load is disappearing much faster than I think it should, and unless I have picked up some unwanted virus, there is one most likely suspect – Windows Update has been switched on again.

It is easy enough to find out!

Go first to the Control Panel, and select Administrative Tools.

From the available tools, select Services.

And in Services, scroll down until you can see Windows Update.

If you don’t want updates, this service must be set to “Disabled”. If it is set to anything else, right-click on Windows Update, and select “Properties”. This will take you to a further panel where you can set the service to the state you wish.

Even though you set this service to “Disabled”, you may switch on your computer in a weeks time and find that something has set it back to “Manual”, and that it is running again after all.

Note 1. Microsoft does not like this service to be switched off, and may ignore your attempts to change its status. If you insist, however, it will eventually give in.

Note 2. Microsoft doesn’t want everything to be easily available if it means that their program is not going to be used as they intended. For example, the program I use to provide Screen Captures is Paint Shop Pro. Capturing the pictures above produced some strange results. The first two were completely normal, and no problem. The second two, however, could not be captured as a Window, or as an area – I had to use Full Screen, and then cut the pictures to size.

Just another example of Microsoft being difficult!

Your computer should now be behaving itself, and no longer have this voracious thirst for data as before.

Be aware, however, that this could change back at any time, as there are hidden mechanisms within Windows 10 to restore the status quo. You could just wait for the next incident to happen, or you could take a pro-active approach, in that you may a check on the state of the Windows Update service every couple of days.

Electronic Publications

There are various forms of electronic publication, some suitable for specific display devices only. My main concern, however, is with those suitable for an ordinary desktop computer, which leaves basically two formats – PDF and EPUB.

Of the two, although PDF was first available, and is in widespread use, it is not so easy to use as EPUB. The PDF file is treated initially as one long scroll, with all the attendant problems of getting from one part to another. Using books with pages makes much more sense, and the EPUB format goes one better, normally displaying 3 pages at a time. A single click of the “Right Arrow” key takes us to the next batch of 3 pages, and the “Left Arrow” takes us 3 pages back

Furthermore, the file size for an EPUB document is about 1/3rd the size of the same file in PDF, as the EPUB format is compressed. Saving disk space and download times are both excellent ideas, and good reasons for choosing EPUB over PDF.

To view EPUB documents, I normally use the Epub Reader extension to the Firefox browser.

It is possible to change from one format to another using special programs. Calibre will convert PDF format to EPUB, but doesn’t do a clean job of it. Although Calibre is excellent for making small corrections – correcting spelling errors in an existing EPUB document, for example – it is not particularly suited for correcting a complete document if the layout is not as desired.

An alternative program, Sigil, does not currently have the ability to convert from PDF to EPUB, but it will accept the output from Calibre when already converted, and is easier to use than Calibre, in my opinion. Sigil uses the F2 key to switch from the code display to the text display. Calibre, on the other hand, uses the same screen area to display both the code and the text.

As far as writing EPUB files from scratch is concerned, I first thought of using Calibre, but that would have been too cumbersome. When you are writing, it is better to use a text program for simplicity. Looking around, I found that there is a “Writer2epub” extension to the Open Office Writer, and that is what I am currently trying out.

After a little experimentation, it is beginning to look quite good. The first attempt produced a document with every single line of text on a new page, but this is easily altered. Select the Metadata button, (the center button of the W2E controls), go to “Document Preferences” and turn off all file splitting. An alternative would be to merge html files using Calibre, but turning off file splitting keeps the number of files to a minimum, and is certainly preferable.

I was so impressed by one book – How Not To Die, by Michael Greger M.D. – that I really put in a lot of effort to convert it. It was only available in PDF format, and I wanted a nice clean copy in EPUB. After I had converted it in Calibre, I was left with a massive clean-up job, as almost every line required attention for one reason or another. It took me about a week!

I also found that some of my attempts to clean up were actually making matters worse. In both programs, Calibre and Sigil, you have the chance to make changes in either the code or the text display. Experience shows that making changes in the text display can lead to “code bloat”, and your file sizes become significantly larger to no useful purpose.

For example, where text is in italics, you may find the instruction for italic has been duplicated for different parts of the same word. This happens where the text that is affected by the instruction is moved, and the part that is moved requires the instruction to be added separately.

Similarly, problems can and do occur with Span. When moving text in text display mode, the Span instruction, and all sorts of unnecessary text control codes, may be added. If you are working in text display mode, you will not see this happen, and your file sizes may increase dramatically.

As a matter of policy, it pays to check the part of the document you are working on in code display mode, and then you can see where “Search and Replace” can be put to good use.

Is it worth the effort?

That very much depends on whether you have the time to spare, or not. I have lots of time, being retired, and am always looking for things to do. I also like a challenge, and since I started this conversion process have become quite proficient at it.

Your situation will probably be very different, so if you have better things to do with your time, use PDF!

Video File Conversion

It is not always possible to use video files on all devices. Although modern mobile phones do a grand job with most formats, sometimes it is necessary to convert to another format they can handle better. There are a number of programs available to do this, some of them paid, some of them free. Some will do the conversion on your own computer, while others require you to upload the file to the Internet, (or at least provide the url.), for the processing to be done elsewhere, and the result downloaded.

My personal preference is always to work on my own computer. Having downloaded the video once already, I fail to see why I should pay for the bandwidth to download it a second time in converted form.

One of the programs I normally use for this purpose became unusable for some reason, and I was able to recover it, so I looked for an alternative.

Movavi offered a 7-day trial, with the restriction that it would periodically show adverts for Movavi during the replay. I tried this out, and threw it away – it was hideous.

I looked for recommendations on the Internet, and came up with a program called “Any Video Converter”, (AVC). This was free, and easy to download, so I decided to try it out.

A few minutes and 49,6 mb later, I was ready install. The installation was straightforward enough, and so was loading the program to be converted, but then came the tricky part – selecting the output format. These people have really gone overboard on options. For example, for Samsung mobile phones, there is a choice of 18 versions, another 4 for Samsung tablets, 10 for android phones, 19 for android tablets, etc., etc. So you make a choice, and get started.

One of the things that puzzled me was the slow reaction time of the program after it had already been started. It was several minutes before an indication of 1% completion was indicated, and the next change was certainly not going to happen very quickly. I had almost decided that the program was a failure and was about to kill it when the first indication of movement indicated that it was actually alive and doing something.

This type of behaviour is very unusual in my experience, and I wondered what could be the cause. A quick look at the computer loading in Task Manager showed the problem immediately. AVC was loading the computer up to 100% continuously! This one program was using 2 Intel Pentium cores running at 3.3 Ghz almost completely, and was taking over 41/2 hours to convert a video file of 1.39 Gb.

I was already aware that video conversions were time-consuming, but not to this extent! I’ll see what the result is before passing final judgement,.

The final file size is 5.76 Gb, more than 4 times the size of the original file. Considering that a conversion targeting a mobile phone with correspondingly small screen size compared to a desktop computer, the final file should have been considerably smaller than the original 1.39Gb. The file is too big to fit in the target phone!

On balance, I think that AVC fails, and I need a new converter!

Fun and Games.

I didn’t like the Windows 10 Solitaire Collection for several reasons:-
a) There was no way of resetting the score to zero
b) If a game had to be restarted, holding Ctrl + Z down together no longer produced a fast return to the starting point, but went back only one card movement. It was the same in effect as the “back arrow” – one card at a time.
c) Many of the games available in Windows 7 were no longer available. This didn’t affect me so much, as I only ever played Spider Solitaire or Freecell, but other users were affected.

Checking around on the Internet, I found that Microsoft had made changes to a later edition, and scores could be reset, so I resolved to update my games.

The first step was easy enough – remove the present games. There are various ways of doing this, but I opted for an easy one – CCleaner – and it was done in a flash.

Now it got rather tricky. It was theoretically possible perhaps to download and install an updated games package, but I connected in to Microsoft, made the appropriate requests, … and nothing happened!

So, I gave up on that, and looked for an alternative. Ah, there it was! “How To Get Classic Windows 7 Games In Windows 10”

“Luckily, restoring classic games in Windows 10 is fairly simple thanks to Eldiabl0 at MDL forums. The Windows 7 Games for Windows 8 and 10 tool brings back Chess Titans, Solitaire, Spider Solitaire, Purble Place, Mahjong Titans, and Hearts games to Windows 10.”

Step 1 in the instructions takes you to a developer page which you wont be able to read until you open an account and log in – all perfectly painless.
Download the installer package, its about 170 Mb.

Step 2 Run the installer, and select the games you want to install. I deselected all the games that require an Internet connection, and installed the rest.

Note! If you read the comments at the bottom, a number of people seem to have lost their Windows 7 games after an automatic Windows 10 update. Reloading the games after the update doesn’t seem to work, so if you want to keep your Windows 7 games, you have to stop Windows 10 updating automatically! Use a personal firewall, or whatever you have to do to stop Windows 10 accessing the Internet without your knowledge. Luckily, my Wifi Hotspot does it all for me. Nothing goes anywhere until I allow it, and I can see exactly where it is trying to go.

My favourite game used to be Spider Solitaire, but I have now switched over to Freecell, as I have found a couple of tricks to improve my score.

As long as you haven’t moved any cards, you can select a new game by pressing F2.
Inspect the layout you have been offered. The deck is divided into 2 blocks; the lefthand block has 4 rows, each of 7 cards, whereas the righthand block has 4 rows, each of 6 cards.

As a requirement of the game is to clear one row completely, it is easier to clear 6 cards than 7. And to improve matters still further, if we have 2 aces in one row, we only have to find homes for 4 cards to get it clear.
So, keep pressing F2 until you have a hand with 2 aces in one of the righthand rows. This gives you a distinct advantage.

Of course, you will also have to inspect the hand to ensure that it is worth starting to play. If you cannot clear a row without using up all of the free cells, then you don’t have much change of getting it out to completion. It is possible, however, to get that first row clear, and have all 4 free cells empty.
It is also possible to get all four aces out with the first card moved!

However, even though the aces are available, it is also necessary to consider the position of the 2’s and the 3’s, and a big part of some games is piling up cards on top of the aces. As a rule, I try to make sure they are at least no higher than the third position in any row.

By the way, as long as you have that starting advantage, with 2 aces in one of the righthand rows, the likelihood of success is very high. If it doesn’t seem to work out, and you get to a position where there are no more moves left, go back to the start, and start in another row. Repeat as necessary – it will probably work.

Just to show that it is possible:-

Happy Gaming!

Second Wind.

DECEMBER 28, 2015. That was the date of the last post to my blog. It seems such a long time ago now, but circumstances have kept me away from doing anything more than a little maintenance now and again. Fortunately my Twitter feed is displayed on the left side of the page, and will assure people that I have not died in the interim, as luck would have it. But the accident I did suffer could have been a lot worse.

Its now been one and a half years since then, and I still have no memory of what happened. I doubt that I will ever recover that now, but it has made me a great deal more cautious crossing a road – even on a pedestrian crossing.

Subsequent to that, my computer started to play up. Nothing too serious – just an unexpected freezing of the program currently in use now and again. The problem was the “now and again” bit, for on no two consecutive days would it behave the same way. Some days it would behave perfectly well most of the day, then crash in the evening. The next day could be a real nightmare, with it crashing every 5 minutes or so.

In addition to which, as the computer had previously been damaged in a flood, the battery contacts were not doing their job. This mean that on every restart I had to enter the date and time anew. This gets very tedious, very quickly!

Eventually my monitor died, and had to be replaced with a new one. Then the computer finally gave up the ghost, and I took the plunge with a new motherboard, new memory and processor (64 bit instead of 32). The two hard drives, power supply, and the case I kept, – everything else was new. The power supply had a clean up, but only managed to hang on for about 2 weeks, then it too bit the dust. It was quickly replaced with a new 700 watt unit.

I also had to update the operating system, which was an unexpected requirement. The motherboard would have run the old one if I had been able to modify the installation files in time. I will look into that later, when I have a spare hard drive.

Since the rebuild, I have taken the time to find my way around the new system, instal what protection I could against malware, and of course, make sure that my Antivirus (Avira) is kept up-to-date.

As it happens, I am also using Zone Alarm again. You may remember a scathing article I wrote about it after it was first taken over by Check Point –
Fortunately Check Point have got their act together in the interim, and it is all running very nicely now.

As you may expect, I am no longer running a copy of my blog on my own computer. It was an interesting experiment while it lasted, but is not a real necessity. I will manage without it for a while, and see how things go.

Contracting – Then and Now!

A group of cleaners at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been put under disciplinary investigation by their employers after raising the issue of their low pay in a letter to the foreign secretary, Philip Hammond.

“Foreign Office cleaners disciplined after writing to Philip Hammond for pay increase”

While being perfectly within their rights to seek better remuneration, it could be said that the way they went about it was by no means the best.

They should have first tried to handle with their employer, rather than go outside the company. This is true for two reasons:- a) both their employer and the contracting company would expect it to be handled that way, and b) the contracting company would not expect to take any action unless it could be shown that their employer was at fault.

In this case, the result was very bad for the contract workers.

Airbus A300This reminded me of a spell in Hamburg, Germany, in 1976, when I was working on contract for MBB, Finkenwerde. There was a group of us Brits working on contract there, but the group was split between two different agencies:- Premmit Associates, and Bothwick International. Premmit was the more experienced agency by far, which soon became apparent.

Payment was into a local bank in Finkenwerder every 14 days against signed time records. The problem with Bothwick was that they didn’t seem to be aware of the fact that public holidays in Germany were different to those in the UK, and several times this resulted in a non-availability of money in the bank. Representations were made to Bothwick, who promised to improve, but in fact didn’t. The situation reached a crisis point on one weekend when I had planned to visit my family in England, but had no money with which to do it!

Others suffered similar crises, especially families with children, who would suddenly find they had no budget for the weekend, as the payment had been delayed.

Of course, the people on contract with Premmit, had no such problems whatsoever, as Premmit was organised properly.

This presented a solution to the problem as follows:-

I requested an interview with the Personnel Dept. at MBB, (the client company), explained the situation, and explained the measures that had been taken to correct matters. The Personnel Manager was very understanding, and even offered to lend money to those left in dire straits until a permanent fix to the problem was available.

The fix was to remove Bothwick International from the list of approved agencies, and to allow all contractors who had been working with them to transfer to Premmit.

For the Germans it was simple enough. They did not want disgruntled contract staff on the premises – it would interfere with the work schedule. And time was always tight!


As I had no intention of staying longer than the initial 6-month contract, I didn’t make the transfer, but most of the others did. The type of work we were doing was aircraft wiring diagrams, which was technically a long way below my normal work on computers. I couldn’t stay there too long without a permanent penalty in employment prospects, even though the salary was attractive.

(In spite of that, we found out that the German permanent staff workers were on a higher salary than we were, and they didn’t have the inconvenience of working in another country.)

In general, the agencies were not trusted by the working population. They were regarded as greedy swine who were taking an exorbitant rate out of our salaries just for being in the right place at the right time, or knowing a little bit more than the rest of us.

This made it almost compulsory to find out exactly how much of a rake-off they were getting from the client company, and anyone that took too much off the top soon found they were having trouble to find recruits. Word soon got around on the jungle telegraph, and greedy so-and-so’s were black-listed.

Agencies do have value, but not if the costs are too high. Agencies working with people abroad should be able to manage comfortably with a 21% mark-up. If working solely within the UK, the mark-up should be no more than 15%. If you find yourself working with an agency that is charging more than that, ask for a better rate. If you don’t get it – MOVE!

Enlightened agencies will have realised that to keep their clients happy, they have to look after the staff they supply. This is borne out by the present situation resulting from the Hamburg episode above – Premmit Associates, and Bothwick International.

You can find Premmit Associates at
The company still exists, some 40 years later, with the same man still in charge – Reginald Gourgey. The nature of the company may have changed, but its success depends on the vision and capability of this one man.

Bothwick International, on the other hand, no longer exists. See
where you will find that the company has been dissolved, and there are no accounts available.

Knowing the people involved, I find that this is no surprise at all!


In fact, it is even more complicated than that, with Jews, Israelis and Zionists, with subdivisions in each category. However, as the intention is to try to reduce random acts of antisemitism, we might just find that sticking to just the two classifications will suffice.

The following text, and the title above, are taken verbatim from the web page –

We would like to take a few minutes of your time to prevent you from making a terrible mistake that may have disastrous results for many.

You have always without a doubt heard and read much about the political crises in the Middle East in which the State of Israel plays a central role. This is, in fact, an ongoing series of crises with potential to bring the greatest misfortune on the entire world. Tragically many believe that Zionism and Judaism are identical. Thus they conclude that the entire Jewish people is responsible for the actions of the Zionist government and the world crises which emanates from it.

This is a Grave Error!

The truth is that the Jewish faith and Zionism are two very different philosophies. They are as opposite as day and night. The Jewish people have existed for thousands of years. In their two thousand years of Divinely decreed exile no Jew ever sought to end this exile and establish independent political sovereignty anywhere. The people’s sole purpose was the study and fulfillment of the Divine commandments of the Torah.

The Zionist movement created the Israeli state. The latter is a persuasion less than one hundred years old. Its essential goal was and is to change the nature of the Jewish people from that of a religious entity to a political movement. From Zionism’s inception the spiritual leaders of the Jewish people stood in staunch opposition to it.

To this day Torah Jewry remains forever loyal to its faith. Zionists want the world to believe that they are the representatives of the entire Jewish people. This is false! The Jewish people never chose them as their leaders.

The Zionists have deceived many well meaning Jewish people via terror, trickery and false propaganda. They have at their disposal the use of a nearly universally subservient media. Whoever attempts to criticize them puts his livelihood and, at times, his very life in danger.

However, despite the media blackout and easy resort to terror the simple truth remains unrefuted and irrefutable:-

The Creator gave us the Holy Land thousands of years ago. Yet, when we sinned, He took it away and sent us into exile. Since that time our task is to wait for Him to send the Messiah. At that time, the Creator alone, without any human being lifting a hand or saying a word, will bring us together and take us out of exile. He will likewise establish universal peace among all mankind and all will serve Him in good will.

Some religious Jews, confused by Zionist propaganda quote Biblical verses that state that God gave the children of Israel the Holy Land. They overlook, unfortunately, those verses which say that He took it away due to our sins. They further ignore those prophecies which explicitly describe the last exile’s conclusion as a Divine, not a human process.

The Creator has commanded every Jew to follow the ways of peace and to be loyal to the country where he lives.

Torah true Jewry waits patiently for the Messianic redemption. They have nothing to do with any kind of pseudo “Jewish State” and its aggressions against other peoples. They have a deep sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians who have suffered the most from Zionism’s false teachings and barbaric actions.

The Zionist state is not a Jewish state. The Zionists alone are the only ones responsible for their actions. Authentic Jewry has and will continue to oppose the very existence of this blasphemous state.

May all mankind witness the true redemption.

Copyright 2003, Neturei Karta International

A Night of Pure Pleasure!

Before we go any further, “A Night of Pure Pleasure” has nothing to do with sex whatsoever, so if that’s what you expected, sorry to disappoint.

I refer in fact to a night some years back now, when I found an on-line poetry competition on the Guardian website, quite by chance.

There was an article by someone (sorry, I forgot the name, but I think it was Simon ——-), and underneath in the comments section there was a host of Limericks.

Now, as I was teaching at the time, and Poetry was one of my subjects, I was interested, of course. In addition to that, the Limerick is one of my favourite verse forms, so wild horses were not going to drag me away from the computer!

I watched and I waited.

I needed to see where the flow was going before I made a move. There was large number of contributors on-line, so new posts were coming thick and fast. When I coupled the posts to the names of the people posting, I could get an idea of how fast they were composing new Limericks, and I thought “Ouch”, this is serious stuff – I wonder if I can keep up?

I bided my time, then jumped in, posted one of my standard verses, and waited for a reaction. It wasn’t a repeat of any previous post, I had already checked them all.

The reaction wasn’t long in coming. A new name had appeared in the list – mine – and people started to respond to it.

Now we were at the make or break stage. I needed to compose a new Limerick “on the fly” as it were, and post it in response to the others. A couple of minutes of furious thought, and I had it. Type it in quickly, and send it on its way. I was in!

To my amazement and delight, the Limericks kept coming. Page after page of comments scrolled by, with 50 or so Limericks to a page. And my Muse was in top form – I was keeping pace with the best of them.

Gradually the numbers started to dwindle, as people who had to go about their lives signed off and left the group. In the end, there were just two of us left, and a moderator, and the other guy, who came from somewhere in South America, I think, was really good!

We continued our conversation in verse for a while, but unfortunately the moderator had run out of steam, and suggested that we close down. I protested, (in verse, of course), and suggested that he could sleep if he liked, while we carried on.

But then, my South American partner also sent a Limerick to the effect that he too would have to close down.

Sadly, the fun was over.

By this time, dawn was breaking!

Reluctantly, I said my goodbyes, and shut down the computer.

The whole of the next day, people kept asking me what I was smiling about!