Category Archives: General

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.


Charlie Hebdo”s vault into the Limelight.

A week ago, I suspect like most of the world’s population, I knew nothing whatsoever of Charlie Hebdo – a satirical magazine produced in Paris. The savage murder of 12 of its staff was indeed a deplorable action, the result of which was to bring people together in retaliation and defiance, and to blast the name Charlie Hebdo around the world.

If the intention of the attack was to avenge the Prophet for Charlie Hebdo’s satire of him, it failed miserably. It has in fact engendered defiance, it has welded the French nation together like nothing ever before, and drawn most of the world in support of France. And the magazine’s circulation has multiplied by a factor of about 15, apparently, if all 3 million of the new issue to be printed are sold.

There will, of course be repercussions. Already there is muttering in the UK of the “Snooper’s Charter” being brought in after the next election, which will be fought tooth and nail as being too restrictive for most Internet users, and a violation of their rights.

In general, not being a lover of satirical cartoons, I do not deliberately look for them. But one, however, did claim my attention completely. It says everything, even in death!


The Finger!

It is probably also the right thing to send to Kraft, who have provoked the ire of the British public by interfering with the recipe and reducing the size of the Cadbury’s Cream Egg.
See The Cadbury’s Creme Egg scandal: how to stage a chocolate revolution.

My great Outlander Binge!

OutlanderI had downloaded the first part of the Outlander after first checking what it was all about, and looking for ratings. I always check first on Rotten Tomatoes, for I consider it a waste of time and money to download something that isn’t liked by other people that have seen it. I generally reject everything below 50%, so it was good to see that the viewer’s rating for Outlander was up at 96%.

Although the content wasn’t what I would usually go for, the time travel aspect was certainly of interest, so I looked forward to my first viewing with anticipation.

I wasn’t disappointed! In fact, I was completely hooked. I downloaded whatever was available on the Internet, which amounted to 8 issues of the first series, and then looked around for more!

There was nothing else in video available, but my need was great. What else was on offer?

A quick search under the author’s name revealed that there was a range of material in e-book form, which covered most of her output to-date.

That was for me!

I downloaded all of them, and set to it.

Of course it is more effort to read something than to just watch a video, and essentially slower. But the first 8 episodes had already set the scene, so there was little left to the imagination, and the reading went splendidly. However, the amount of material to get through meant that I would be busy for a week or so. No matter, it was just what I needed. The list reads as follows:-

Dragonfly in Amber
Drums of Autumn
The Fiery Cross
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
An Echo in the Bone

I still have one to get “Written In My own Heart’s Blood”, but my hunger has been sated for a while, and it can wait a bit.

“Hats off” to Diana Gabaldon – a very accomplished and prolific author. And to think that The OUTLANDER series started by accident, when she decided to write a novel for practice!

If you have the time – highly recommended!


1. Access to WordPress

It has been a frustrating week, with access to WordPress being intermittent, or non-existent – hence the lack of posts. I am hoping that with an update to my browser that at least some of the problems have been resolved. Its good to be back – I’ve missed you!

I did find other options to get to my blog, but I won’t detail those unless it becomes necessary.

2. Introducing a new friend.
I mentioned previously that I had to change to the latest version of Opera, which entailed the loss of an important facility – the Data Transfer Rate indication. Since then, I have managed to find an alternative – “Bitmeter2” – which does the job I need very nicely. It is a free program from Rob Dawson, a freelance software developer from Manchester in the UK, who has done an excellent job with this!

You want one too? Go here!

3. The Real Horrors of Gaza.

What you may see in the media is often bad enough, but usually will not depict the full brutality of the situation, as such pictures are too gruesome for general use.

If you want to see what is really happening to those poor people, it is superbly documented in both poetry and picture by

Just be prepared for the reality!

4. Whichever way you turn – Fracked!

Despite all the protest and uproar, the government is intent on ignoring the wishes of the public, and doing what the hell it wants – again!

Half of Britain to be opened up to fracking

However, no damage has actually been done yet, so there is still time to work on the problem, and try to avert disaster.

Need options? Try the following:-
Frack Off – Extreme Energy Action Network
British Anti-Fracking Action Network
Sign now for a Frack-Free UK!

(PS. For the last one, you will have to enter a valid-looking phone number, they check!)

The Reluctant Commuter.

For most of my working life, commuting has been an unfortunate necessity. Although I started with the luxury of a couple of years in the Royal Air Force, where everything was in easy walking distance, the problems confronted me as soon as I left. My first commute was by bicycle, the only form of transport I had at the time, but it was rather too long for comfort. I was able to solve part of the problem at least by taking the bicycle with me on the train for part of the journey – complicated, but convenient.

Moving closer to work reduced the scale of the problem, and the train journey was no longer necessary, but to be out in all weathers, as one is on a bicycle, was not much fun at times – especially when there was snow or ice on the ground.

Although I admit to sometimes enjoying driving down leafy country lanes in Springtime, with the window down, and the fresh morning air in my face, I have never regarded commuting as a pleasurable pastime – more a painful necessity that has to be endured.

Whenever I contemplated taking a new job, the commute was always taken into consideration. So when I see a headline “London’s soaring house prices make a long commute a little more attractive“, I know exactly what people are up against.

The problem is that it is not only London that is affected. In any town or city with a reasonable chance of local employment, the price of housing will be higher than some can afford, and they will of necessity have to look further away if they wish to purchase a property.

It would be many years before I again achieved that optimum – to be able to walk to work. And I even went one better – go downstairs to work. This really is the ultimate, working from home, but there are usually other considerations that take some of the edge off the advantage. You will probably have to run your own company, for example, which means extra workload unless you pay someone to do it for you.

No, there really is only one answer to the problem – stop working!

Seriously! Find something that you enjoy doing, work at it as hard as you can while keeping your expenses down to a minimum. The idea is to save money to support yourself without working for a while. If you are not working, you don’t have to outlay the cost and the time invested in commuting – an extra bonus.

Then, find a way of earning money on the Internet, or simply

Retire early!

Guest Post – Vegan Vitality

by Lisa Webster

On Thursday 12th June I was staying overnight in London for the first time in a long while and the question arose, where on earth shall I eat dinner? London is such a vast place; I didn’t really know where to start. However, having a vegan friend kind of narrowed down the choice of restaurants somewhat and made it much quicker and simpler to choose a place to dine out.

So, my friend Ann booked the two of us a table at Vitao, just recently opened at their new location in Oxford Street, near Tottenham Court tube station. It’s very easy to get to, simply turn left out of the tube station, walk a few paces and you’re there!

I’m not vegan, nor am I vegetarian but I’m open to trying different foods – and this was delicious! Not only that, the service was excellent and the price extremely reasonable. We each had a drink, a main meal and a dessert for a total of £48, that’s just £24 each! And if you’re into presentation, well, just take a look at the pictures below of what we ordered….

I came out of there feeling satisfied, full, happy and pleasantly surprised and would love to have the opportunity to eat there again.

Here’s what we ordered:
Non-alcoholic cocktails
Non-alcoholic cocktails
Thai Dish
Thai Dish
Mexican Enchilada
Mexican Enchilada
Raspberry and Chocolate Torte
Raspberry and Chocolate Torte
Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Ganache

Opening Hours:
Monday – Saturday 12am to 11pm
Sunday 12am to 9pm

Vitao Ground Floor 25-27 Oxford Street, London W1D 2DW tel: 0207 439 8237

Achieving the Impossible – Without Even Trying!

Occasionally I get an email from Paypal, which I usually ignore, but this one was a little different.

It said I sent a payment to Evolution RC Ltd. for 102.05 Canadian Dollars – would I like to cancel the transaction?
This is all very nice having time to think things over, and having the chance to change your mind if you have made a mistake, but there were some problems with it!

    1. I don’t have any Canadian Dollars
    2. I don’t know who Evolution RC Ltd. is.
    3. I don’t know what the payment was for.

If there is anybody out there that does, and wants to take over the action on this one, here is the Transaction ID: 281138078J760221L

In the meantime, I suggest that Paypal get its house in order and stop sending me emails that I don’t need.

Why don’t I need them?

I don’t have a Paypal account!

Why is he lying down there – Naked?

I confess, I don’t have an answer for the question in the title just yet, but I can give you an explanation of why it is there.

I woke up this morning with a bunch of things on my mind – one of them being the difficulty of maintaining an Internet connection worthy of the name, (ie. reasonable speed and availability), and hence of replying to comments, and of thanking people individually for signing up to follow this blog.

So …

I needed a way of doing this in a more general manner. To be effective, it had to attract as many people as possible to view it. To maximise the number of viewers, I needed a title that would GRAB ATTENTION.

I didn’t have to think long and hard about it at all, that was the strange thing about it. It just arrived!

I won’t go into the metaphysics of the thought process here, that would not be productive. Its enough to say that this happens to me from time to time – thoughts arrive as though they are independent beings – and I just accept them for what they are.

I have been taking part in the 101 and 201 challenges (more or less), and although I did not complete either of them, they have both been very instructive and helpful. I have seen the number of followers increase from a mere 5 to a current 24, which is really gratifying. I thank you all most sincerely. The number of “Likes” has also increased considerably – another indication that I am writing things that people are happy to read – which is very good to know.

I will continue to make individual contact wherever I can, but if you don’t hear from me directly, don’t think I have forgotten you!

To all you spammers out there, I repeat – Don’t Bother! You will only be deleted.

There is some good news too. A recent article I read on the BBC website was “Sense of purpose ‘adds years to life’“, and that is my feeling too. So I could be around for a whole lot longer to regale you with posts about this and that.

I won’t mention the beer fund at all. I will only say that the temperatures are uncomfortably high here, and I am still thirsty! Oh yes, and that other thing I heard somewhere “Don’t clap, just throw money!”

As for the title, it is intriguing isn’t it! I really need to think about that a little, and see if I can weave something together. I have a few ideas already. I’ll work on it.

Happy Blogging!