WE ALL REACH OUR SUMMIT...

WE ALL REACH OUR SUMMIT...

Saturday, 23rd October 2021

I guess mine was Huangshan... the Yellow Mountain...

This is about 5900' (1800 metres), and a long slog to the top! A great achievement - and yet, is there something missing?

ISN'T THIS HOW LIFE SHOULD BE?

ISN'T THIS HOW LIFE SHOULD BE?

Saturday, 23rd October 2021

Just able to relax in the midday sun...

Covid Lateral Flow Test

Covid Lateral Flow Test

Tuesday, 19th October 2021

Seeing as they're free, I ordered an LFT kit. Not sure what to make of the fact that the kit comes from Hangzhou! Has our corrupt and useless government finally decided it can no longer outsource to its mates and paymasters, and is now using a company that actually knows what it's doing?

I was a bit put off by the testing procedure as it's supposed to be simple, yet comes with a 20-page instruction booklet! In reality, not too bad, though.

Done a test. Negative.

Collared Doves Doing Well

Collared Doves Doing Well

Friday, 15th October 2021

Amazed to see a flock of 13 or more collared doves in a neighbouring tree this morning. They seemed to have almost disappeared a couple of years ago, pushed out by wood pigeons, but looks like they are back now. A great sight.

Daughter in the news

Daughter in the news

Thursday, 7th October 2021

Flyme is getting some well-deserved publicity. This syndicated article appeared in several places, including the mighty Yorkshire Post.

(And, no, that's not Andy in the photo!)

Double Dutch

Double Dutch

Saturday, 25th September 2021

Amazon have several free language books available, so I downloaded them. Just opened the Chinese one, and this page does not inspire confidence in the accuracy of the contents...

Strange, Isn't It?

Strange, Isn't It?

Wednesday, 22nd September 2021

Whenever home and car insurance are coming up for renewal, the amount of daily spam I receive rockets up.

I wonder if price-comparison sites have any explanation for this...?

Digital Mapping

Digital Mapping

Monday, 20th September

The Tracklogs saga still continues occasionally. My post on Sheffield Forum about it (back in September 2019) brings in the odd user who's realised Tracklogs is no longer available, and it's nice to be able to sort them out.

As for Viewranger, they've been incorporated into Outdooractive. The VR app still works, and I do like it, but I guess I'll have to move to the OA app at some stage. (I do now have a Pro subscription to OA.)

What's Changed Techwise?

Monday, 20th September 2021

I've gone "legit" with Photoshop. The old "fell-off-the-back-of-the-internet" version I had was really showing its age, so I opted for a monthly subscription to Photoshop 2021. It's just such a superb product, and amazing how Adobe are incorporating more and more AI.

As for browsers, still as changeable as ever. My main one for some time has been Brave, and it's generally OK - but it does have rendering problems at times. I'd like to use Firefox more, but it's just not as fast as Brave. For when I don't need to keep cookies and a cache, I use Slimbrowser - lightweight and fast.

And the website... I'd almost completely neglected it over the pandemic, but have started to rework it now cosmetically and to try and make it load faster!

And we're off...

Monday, 20th September 2021

Didn't take all that long to get rid of Wordpress and use this new blog.

Now I have to think about what to write...

Maybe time for some new items!

Saturday, 18th September 2021

Seems like I've been neglecting the blog for quite a while!

I suppose there's a lot been happening since the last update - like Covid...

I've been reluctant to do anything because Wordpress seems so bloody slow, so now I'll try and do a home-brewed version...

I'll start with the most recent posts and work backwards till I get bored and have a rest...

Just listening to “Mr Tambourine Man”…

Just listening to “Mr Tambourine Man”…

Saturday, 29th February 2020

… for the first time in 30 years!

“Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea,
Circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate,
Driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow…”

For Pierrot and Columbine...

Storm Dennis?

Storm Dennis?

Sunday, 16th February 2020

Things all got rather weird yesterday afternoon. Lost internet, so went through the usual router reboot, and it came back – for 10 minutes…. Tried again many times, but still got the 10-minute drop. Had a look at the router web page, and it was hitting 60% memory immediately after reboot, and then hitting 100% memory and 100% CPU after around 10 minutes.

Of course, Origin Broadband support was closed (both phone and Twitter), and they don’t post info about network problems on their website, so left in the dark. Never seen the router behave like that, and it is old, so assumed it finally needed replacing.

But, after about 6 hours, everything got stable again, so I have to assume that Storm Dennis had caused some disruption somewhere along the line. Of course, no word from Origin that I can see anywhere; I could call them, I suppose, but I really can’t be arsed.

Browsers. Again…

Browsers. Again…

Sunday, 16th February 2020

Been getting a bit pissed off with Firefox being so resource-hungry, so I’ve now switched to Brave as my main browser and been very impressed by it. The Firefox extensions I use are all working fine, and page loading times seem much better.

I’ve also ditched Opera as it can be very sluggish on start-up: giving Comodo IceDragon a try instead as a lightweight “test” browser.

UPDATE: And gave up with IceDragon to move to FlashPeak SlimBrowser: generally fast, and clears cookies and cache on exit.

Windows 10 1903

Windows 10 1903

Sunday, 16th February 2020

Hmm… After 3 months of trying and failing to install the 1903 update, Windows suddenly decides it can install it… Surprisingly, it worked fine – but the whole process took about 6 hours! Can’t see that it’s given me anything new that’s useful, Classic Shell is no longer working properly (moved to Open Shell), and get more and persistent annoying notifications.

And 1909 is waiting for me to give the go-ahead. Dear god…

Amazing view from Kinder!

Amazing view from Kinder!

Friday, January 17th 2020

Not my photo, just amazed that it’s ever possible to see Snowdonia from Kinder. In all my times walking on Kinder, I never had such a view! And not sure that I’ll ever have the energy to get up onto the plateau again and have a look!

The decline of Grenoside

The decline of Grenoside

Tuesday, 17th December 2019

Went to post a parcel yesterday only to discover that the Post Office has closed down! No notice, but brown paper inside the windows and the post box painted black instead of red. Bit of a shock, really, because I’d heard nothing about the closure. The nearest ones now are Fox Hill, Chape;town, and Parson Cross…

Just noticed that it’s up for sale on Rightmove (for £24,950!?), so I suppose there’s some hope that it can be put back in service.

This, on top of our bus service, which was reduced in September from every 30 minutes to every hour, and the closure of The Cow & Calf pub, is just another knock for Greno. Still a great place to live, but becoming more isolated and service-starved.

Thanks for the warning!

Thanks for the warning!

Saturday, 7th December 2019

Twitter telling me the Sûreté are after me?

Tracklogs has gone

Tracklogs has gone

Monday, 30th September 2019

Tried to visit the tracklogs website last week, only to find that it no longer exists: domain still registered with 1&1 till 2020, but no associated IP address…

I suppose I’m only half surprised, because software and website were very dated, but it’s rather annoying that there seems to be no announcement anywhere that I can find. And not even a contact number on the invoices they sent me. Sod ’em and their extortionate pricing: Viewranger and Memory Map are much better anyway.

Addendum
Found that there are archived web pages on Wayback, but no phone number to be found! What a crap outfit. But the parent company is A.J.S. Contract Design Limited. Still to find a phone number for them…

Pennine Way rethink

Pennine Way rethink

Saturday, 21st September 2019

Having watched Dean Read’s vlog of the Pennine Way 2019, I’m having a rethink about the glories of doing the Pennine Way. Yes, there are fantastic sections, but so much of it is dreary, wet, boggy, bracken attacks, multitudinous bovine botherers, and undefined or vague paths even now. It’s an arduous slog with occasional rewards: if only it were possible to walk the highlights!

Enough of What3words

Enough of What3words

Saturday, 14th September 2019

Well, What3words did seem like a great idea, but it’s proprietary and I’m not comfortable with that or their marketing strategy. So, giving Plus Codes a go as it’s open source. Although, do Google own it? Not yet sure: Google Maps does accept a Plus Codes value, and it’s frighteningly accurate…

Fickle as ever…

Fickle as ever…

Tuesday, 27th August 2019

Having plumped for Tracklogs and discounted Memory Map, I realised it would still be nice to have OS25 maps for the whole of GB. I found that Memory Map do them for 40% of the Tracklogs price and available immediately as a download! So I now have a pukka install of Memory Map…

MM is rather faffy to get set up, and V6 has changed significantly from my V5 version. Not least, gone are the .mmo files and it now uses .gpx which I like. So, as far as documentation goes, I will now use TL for map and route card, and MM for more accurate stats.

MM is available as an app, but I then found out that Viewranger beats it hand down – and that is chargeable… But I’ve got a 7-day trial and it looks like it might be well worth the £24.99 annual fee for full OS25 GB + other goodies.

So now I’ll have Tracklog, Memory Map, Viewranger, and OS Maps (probably just for fly-throughs from the latter)…

Oh… and Alpinequest! That’s been good, but I think VR is better, and it means I can get rid of the MM maps that AQ used.

Digital Mapping (update)

Digital Mapping (update)

Saturday, 24th August 2019

After a couple of weeks using Tracklogs, I’m happy with it. I haven’t gone for the full OS25 set yet because (a) it’s a bit pricey, and (b) the OS50 is much prettier for documenting walks (which I can create as GPX accurately with the OS Maps subscription). All my walk web pages have now been Tracklogised, and include (approximate before I had any GPS) a route card with whatever waypoints I want.

I did hit one problem after installing the full £100+ worth of OS50 GB maps. At first, everything was fine, but after a reboot, it was showing “Unlicensed Tile” in the map area. Reboots and reinstalls did improve it, but there was no elevation data showing… Not good. I eventually tracked it down to strange database files: Pcloud was trying to back up the files as they were doing the import, and so was renaming them with its [conflicted] suffix… So, simply a matter of not backing the database files up (no need – I have the product on CD and hard drive so can reimport any time).

I did open this as a problem with Tracklogs, then a follow up e-mail after I’d sorted it. But no response from them at all – this I find very poor.

Digital Mapping

Digital Mapping

Monday, 12th August 2019

After many years of relying on “a version” of Memory Map for plotting walk routes, I’m venturing into new territory. Richard has been banging on for ages about something called Tracklogs, and I had no idea what he was on about – I assumed it was a GPS thing. But I checked it out, and it’s Windows, similar to Memory Map.

It does have some nice features that MM doesn’t have, and a wealth of route stats. It does mean purchasing pukka maps to be of any use, because the trial version provides only a small area of West Yorkshire. So, I’ve opted for the 50K map of the Peak District as a not-too-expensive trial (£14.95 + P&P). Annoyingly, they only distribute on CDROM, so I’m impatiently waiting for it to come through the post. (Why the hell they can’t provide a download I don’t know.) If it looks as good as I’m expecting, I might be tempted to fork out £250 for the whole 25K GB bundle rather than numerous selective 25K areas at £30 each…

Better cut the grass again…

Better cut the grass again…

Friday, 7th June 2019

Almost 4 weeks since I could be bothered to cut the lawns, and the back one has rapidly turned into a meadow! Still a bit reluctant to do so, because there’s a bumper crop of buttercups which looks quite good. Along with the usual clover and daisies, and an increasing “infestation” of hawkweeds – both Mouse-ear and Orange. All been keeping the bees happy.

New way to Manchester Airport

New way to Manchester Airport

Thursday, 23rd May 2019

Used 1stchoice1stclass taxis to get to Manchester for the first time. Very professional service all the way from the booking phone call, and just £65 one way.

Driver had just come from the airport over Woodhead and reckoned it was not worth going that way, so opted for the old “Pott Shrigley” route. Except that it’s changed now: still goes via Castleton and Winnats, but then get on A6, through to Disley, after which a new relief road has been built (A555). This takes you all the way to the airport, had very light traffic (around 07:30), and only a little longer in time than Woodhead on a good day. Kept moving all the way, and no motorway madness! With the bonus of seeing planes coming low across the road during landing.

There’s always a word

There’s always a word

Wednesday, 15th May 2019

With the world increasingly being governed by the incompetent and downright thick, I was wishing there were a word for this. And there is: kakistocracy.


    A kakistocracy is a system of government that is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens
   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakistocracy

That just about nails it.

Words are heavy

Words are heavy

Saturday, 11th May 2019

Just been looking at the notes we were given for the school trip to Paris in 1964. It seems that the French then charged different amounts to send a postcard to the UK depending on the number of words: 20 centimes for five words or fewer, 30 centimes for more than five! Mind boggling. I’d have just written one long “word” with no spaces.

Full English

Full English

Friday, 10th May 2019

What a week for the Premier League! All four finalists in the Champions and Europa League are English clubs: Liverpool v Spurs; Arsenal v Chelsea. This is the first time that one country has provided all four finalists, and is really pissing off fans from certain continental clubs (especially Milan and Juventus)!

The surprise omissions from these four are both Manchester clubs. City is surprising, as they are (grudgingly) being recognised as the best team in the world right now; United, less so as they are a complete shambles at the moment.

Who cares? It’s been a great week to watch some thrilling and dramatic matches. Liverpool and Spurs achieving “impossible” comebacks; Arsenal clinically dispatching Valencia at the Mestalla; and Chelsea going through on penalties against a very impressive Eintracht Frankfurt side. Thank gods that boring Spanish domination has ended.

Alternative Coverage

Alternative Coverage

Thursday, 9th May 2019

Must say, I’ve been impressed by the quality of reporting of the two Champions League semi-finals by the New York Times (apart from their using the 3rd person singular for verbs associated with the team names). UK papers are often very similar in their reporting style and content, but the NYT has provided a refreshingly different angle.

Addendum
Perhaps there’s an explanation for this. The following morning, BBC Breakfast had on a NYT sports journalist: Rory Smith, English, who’s their “chief soccer correspondent” and based in Manchester…

What a comeback!

What a comeback!

Wednesday, 8th May 2019

After being (undeservedly) beaten 3-0 by Barcelona last Wednesday, the impossible has happened: a comeback greater than that in Istanbul in 2005 – and Liverpool again! I watched both, but this latest one was just unbelievable (a word used by all players – and Klopp – in post-match interviews).

The best I expected was a 2-0 or 3-1 win for Liverpool, as Barcelona should have been able to control the match, even in a hostile Anfield atmosphere – especially as Liverpool were without Salah, Firmino, and Keita.

It was important to score first, and Liverpool did that after 6 minutes, thanks to a misplaced header by Jordi Alba, interception by Mané, parried shot from Henderson, and follow-up into the net by Origi.

Barcelona recovered, and had chances, (helped by endless misplaced passes from Shaqiri) but were mostly outplayed, and the first half ended at 1-0. Not without damage, though: the sly, cynical, Suarez crocked Robertson and got away with it. What a thoroughly unlikeable player Suarez is, and well deserved to be on the end of “Fuck off, Suarez” and “Cheat, cheat, cheat” chants from the stands.

And the second half… Wijnaldum on for Robertson… Goal #2 from his right foot, followed swiftly by goal #3 from his head, and game on! Barcelona looked shell-shocked, fatigued (in spite of having a week’s rest) and clueless. Their over-reliance on a (mostly) shackled Messi, and memories of throwing away a 4-1 lead against Roma last season must have been eating away at them.

Heading towards the 80th minute, and the final coup de grâce – and farce! Alexander-Arnold wins a corner; the ball boy quickly returns the ball; TAA places it, walks away, glances up and sees Origi in acres of space while Barcelona are wandering aimlessly about; TAA turns back, ball to Origi, and back of the net! Barcelona totally stunned and the rest of the world goes wild!

Unbelievable! This was not supposed to happen! No-one gave Liverpool a realistic chance of anything beyond a graceful exit. But Barcelona’s game is dated now, and many players old and slow. In reality, they deteriorated after Guardiola left, then Xavi, then Iniesta: now, if Messi goes missing in action, they’re stuffed; and he did.

Fame at last!

Fame at last!

Monday, 29th April 2019

Wow – actually had a tweet “liked” by Private Eye! In response to their “Private Eye is £34 for 26 issues and you do not get a ticket to an evening with Michael Gove” I replied “Could you possibly make that two tickets? The wife doesn’t want to go either.

Silly, but nice to get acknowledgement. I’m easily pleased.

COYRAWW!

COYRAWW!

Saturday, April 27th 2019

Sheffield United 2 Ipswich Town 0 – and the mighty Blades are on their way to the Premiership! Unless, of course, Leeds can get a GD of +14 in their final two games… One of which is against Aston Villa, who are on a 10-game winning streak…

It’s been a long wait, but 2 years after winning League One with 100 points, and one year of consolidation in the Championship, the Red and White Wizards are back where they belong.

Ladybirds are active

Ladybirds are active

Friday, 26th April 2019

There seems to be an unusually high number of ladybirds around this year. Which is nice. Always a welcome sight.

Money, Money, Money

Money, Money, Money

Saturday, 20th April 2019

Had no idea of the best place to change our excess $US back to £GB, but a quick google (or should I say duckduck now?) offered NM Money as an interesting choice with a generous exchange rate. Simply set up the request online and pick up from Eurochange at Meadowhall the next morning. And they offered a significantly better rate than Eurochange themselves! How does that work?! Anyway, it does, and it did. Seemed too good to be true, but it was just brilliant.

Easy to misread!

Easy to misread!

Thursday, 4th April 2019

Saw this recommendation in the latest edition of Webuser magazine. And misread it as Porno Timer… Now there’s an opportunity for a useful app!

Image Viewers

Image Viewers

Wednesday, 3rd April 2019

Having been a long-time fan of Irfanview, I decided to give Faststone another look. It seems just as fast as Irfanview, has all the capabilities (and more), and is sufficiently customizable. So, looks like bye-bye Irfanview.

HP Instant Ink

HP Instant Ink

Saturday, 30th March 2019

I’d heard previously about HP’s Instant Ink scheme, and thought that, although it made life easier, it probably worked out expensive because you were tied to HP’s cartridges. But I decided to give it a try…

I opted for the 50 pages a month at £1.99pm since we don’t print a lot (scanning mainly). And lo and behold: I was given 12 months Free Trial that allowed upto 300 pages a month! And 2 days later, they sent out new cartridges! That is impressive!

Also, I discovered postings about Instant Ink on the MoneySavings Expert forum: you just stick your referal URL on there, someone uses it, and you both get an extra free month! So I now have nothing to pay till 25th April 2020, and get an allowance of 300 pages per month, with as many cartridges as that takes!

How not to run a helpline

How not to run a helpline

Friday, 29th March 2019

Had to call Logitravel today as we still haven’t received the tickets for the ship. And what an exercise in absurdity. You have to enter a 9-digit booking reference number and then get a mere 15 seconds queueing before a voice says “All of our agents are busy at the moment. Please call us again in a few minutes.” At which point, they terminate the call and force you to call back, rather than allowing you to hold in a queue! I must have tried 20 times before I finally got through to someone.

Having got fed up with it after about 15 tries, I used their web form to contact them as an alternative. This gives no notification that they have received the message, and does not show up in the Messages section of your account. How difficult would it be to send a confirmation e-mail and add it to the Messages?

Plus, help is only available 09:00-18:00 Monday to Friday, so rather limited for either option.

Printers, bloody printers…

Printers, bloody printers…

Monday, 26th March 2019

…and Customer Support, bloody Customer Support.

The Canon printer came back with the U052 error again yesterday, and, after an hour’s cleaning, still persisted. So, decision made to bin it and look for a new one. Was going to go for a cheap Epson from Argos and bin that once the inks ran out, but visited Currys first, and they had a £49.99 offer on an HP Envy 5020, so plumped for that.

All set up and wi-fi connected OK, but when it came to setting up the drivers and bits on Windows, the nightmare began…

The “EasySetup” downloaded from HP was a mess: did a bit, saw the printer, then hung with blank screen. Clicking out of that gave an option to install drivers and software, so I did that. And that did install stuff but eventually went into a CPU loop when checking for network devices (even though it could see the printer). After uninstalling and reinstalling everything, rebooting, nothing changed: even though Windows could see the printer OK, any attempt to print failed. So I contacted HP support…

Gave them remote access and they spent 40 minutes doing all sorts of stuff, attempting to install using different methods, but all to no avail. At which point they washed their hands of it, and said I needed to contact Microsoft and say there was a print spooler problem with the printer.

So, with a feeling of dread and futility, I contacted Microsoft. And spent/wasted 2 hours in total with them trying to sort it by remote access. Three different people got involved, and gods know what they were doing or why (including service tweaks and Registry edits), but they had to escalate it to Level 2 in the end, with a call-back booked in 4 days time.

The MS people were not too bad overall, but did show signs of incredible thickness at times: like one bloke was trying to download printer drivers from HP by going to the HP Desktop section because I was using a desktop! I kept telling him he needed to be in the printer section, but he wouldn’t have it, until it finally dawned on him…

So, after around 6 hours spent trying to get the printer running, I was left for 4 days with a printer defined to Windows, but with no drivers… I decided to reinstall everything again, just so that it did have all the components, even though printing would fail.

The odd thing was, I could do a scan OK from the printer and it got picked up by Windows! And I could print OK from my phone. There was one error message that I thought might provide a key: attempting to print from Notepad gave a weird message “The parameter is incorrect”, so, as a last resort, I googled that – and got a hit… on HP’s support site… It was simply a matter of ensuring full access to every listed user in the Security tab for the Windows temp directory, as detailed here.

Why on earth did HP not pick this up?! Yes, it’s not an obvious thing to consider, but the solution is there on their own site! All these hours wasted on the phone has not left me best impressed. HP said they would call back later this week to see how I got on with Microsoft, and I’m looking forward to that!

Addendum
Well, HP did ring back. It seems they are not allowed to look at posts on their own forum! And he had no interest in what the solution was, so God help any other poor bugger who gets hit by this problem.

Twitter is annoying me

Twitter is annoying me

Saturday, 23rd March 2019

Twitter’s getting on my titters at times. Every now and then, it’ll force me to do a Captcha test for no disclosed reason apart from it suggesting I might be a bot!

I cannot make sense of what might be triggering it. It usually happens when I’m just viewing a tweet or linked content, but never when I’ve posted anything. No big deal, I suppose, but still very annoying!

Bloody Printers…

Bloody Printers…

Wednesday, 20th March 2019

Needed to print something for our forthcoming trip, and got hit by a U052 error on my Canon MG5250. Apparently, it means that the print head is the wrong type – yet it’s the one that came with the printer!

A quick google showed that I am not alone, and this error has been happening for years – yet still remains unresolved… Various solutions have been offered (from turning it off for 10 minutes to leaving in water overnight), but nothing that works for everyone.

So, I removed the cartridges, removed the print head, cleaned away obvious ink with cotton buds and tissue, and reassembled. U052 gone – brilliant! Until I sent over a print, when back it came…

Repeated the cleaning, but this time I ran a local nozzle pattern print before attempting to send a file over: the test pattern printed OK, and then so did the file…

All very mysterious, and totally unacceptable. The thing is, I don’t print very often, and use it mainly as a scanner, but that U052 won’t even allow scanning! Absurd. Add to this the fact that as soon as one colour cartridge is empty, it won’t allow you to print greyscale – even though there are two black cartridges with ink in!

Had enough of Canon and need to look for a sensible printer (if such a thing exists).

Sheffield Craft Beer

Sheffield Craft Beer

Tuesday, 12th March 2019

Interesting article in The Guardian today about craft beer pubs in Sheffield.

Not that I’ve ever knowingly had a “craft beer” (or even know for sure what the term means!), but a nice reminder of some decent pubs in and around the city centre.

WordPress again

WordPress again

Tuesday, 12th March 2019

Thought it was time to give WordPress another try, and so I’ve converted the blog from Dotclear. Not 100% impressed yet, but maybe WP has more of a future and better development than Dotclear. Although I do like the presentation of the latter.

Addendum
Not looking too bad having gone to town with featured images and additional CSS. A bit naff, though, when the images take up more room than the text in many cases…

Ooh, I do love MODX

Ooh, I do love MODX

Sunday, 10th March 2019

Happened on MODX by chance, and I’ve been very impressed with it. A bit of a slog to convert my own stuff, but, once done, so easy to make mods and add new stuff. Template Variables have been a godsend.

There was a problem with Softaculous backup, though: it insists on backing up everything in the root folder, even though that contains subdirectories for other packages that are not referenced by MODX. So, broken-as-designed to my mind. However, it’s easy enough to back up to PC:

    Download a dbase backup from cPanel

    Logout of MODX and FTP to PC assets/, connectors/, core/, and manager/, plus .htaccess, config.core.php, and index.php for completion’s sake.

Boing…boing…OUCH

Boing…boing…OUCH

Saturday, 12th January 2019

Haven’t been arsed to do any blog updates since November, it would appear. But maybe it’s time for another tale of woe…

New Years Eve, 6:20am, Mel decides to get up for a wee, so I think I might as well go too. And go I did – slipped on the stairs and bounced down on my left shoulder… Result: absolute agony making the slightest movement. Called for ambulance, but, sadly, that was a waste of time: first I was considered non-emergency (which I suppose was fair enough), then 2 hours later upgraded to emergency. However, after a further 3 hours, still no sign of an ambulance, so, as I could manage to walk a bit by then, I cancelled the ambulance and got Becky to come over and take me to the Northern General. Not a pleasant journey as she seemed unappreciative of G-forces on a damaged arm…

Only a one and a half hour wait for triage, at which I was given a rudimentary linen sling and two cocodamol, and a wait for X-ray. After the radiographers had taken their pics, I overheard a sotto voce “How the hell did he do that?!”. Finally on to the treatment room, where the nurse disclosed that I’d dislocated my shoulder, but nothing broken. So, just a simple matter of forcing it back into place (as shown on TV)? Ah, but no… She said she’d have to go away and think of a way to get it back again… Twenty minutes later, back she comes, sticks me on gas and air (brilliant stuff! – makes you feel drunk but the effect dissipates as soon as you stop breathing it) and starts pulling, pushing, twisting, turning the arm – all to no avail except adding to my agony. She summoned a doctor, but his efforts were similarly fruitless. As were those of a senior nurse and a consultant. So, all that was left was general anaesthetic and unwitnessed brutality.

All an interesting experience, as I’d never had a general before. First I was given oxygen, then carbon dioxide (why?!), then intravenous morphine (great stuff!) and finally the knock-out drops (fentanyl?) So, one second I’m fully aware of what’s going on, next “second” I’m awake and arm back in shoulder! Amazing. There were bits that I was unaware of though, as they said I’d asked them if they’d put it up on Youtube…

Such a relief to get rid of the intense pain and to be able to move more freely – albeit with arm in a sling and still some residual pain if I tried to raise the arm. Almost two weeks later now, and arm in a polysling (which I’m supposed to wear all the time apart from showering) and still limited movement. Apparently, this is all going to take some time to get back to normal – and, even then, it’s more likely to dislocate again after it’s happened once. Such a buggeration. Lack of quality sleep, as I usually tend to sleep on that arm 80% of the time and that’s been impossible; lack of exercise because that arm is no use for movement or support, and walking is only safe on the streets rather than the footpaths I usually use.

Anyway, a sojourn in the Cotswolds next weekend and a visit to Oxford will be a welcome break (in the nicest sense).

Lessons learnt? Probably none – but I do wonder whether one-armed people can wear contact lenses…

Collared Doves

Collared Doves

Friday, 16th November 2018

Collared doves seem to be making a significant comeback here: this morning, there were 15 perched on the playground fence. And not a woodpigeon in sight! Not that woodpigs are particularly scarce around Greno: on the walk I did yesterday, there were dozens of the things all over the woods.

Yet more great decisions…

Yet more great decisions…

Wednesday, 22nd August 2018

I got rid of Koken and managed to recreate the gallery using my own code: a very repetetive slog, but not overtaxing. And as soon as I’d finished? SharewareOnSale had jAlbum available for free… And that now drives the gallery…

Again, not too painful to get it online as a basic offering. It does look quite funky, but I need to add titles to most of the pics. Had a bit of trouble getting geolocation to show using Google Maps until I discovered that you need an API key from Google. Easy enough to set up a couple of keys (one for local testing and one for the site restricted to my domain). So, gallery now in its latest incarnation…

Really, Netflix?

Really, Netflix?

Thursday, 16th August 2018

Got an e-mail from Netflix this morning regarding new profile icons: “Our new profile icons are inspired by all the TV programmes and films you like watching.” No they’re bloody well not, Netflix! I’ve never watched any of the programmes they list – and never even heard of most of them.

They all seem to be US programmes, so, as a UK customer, I probably coudn’t watch half of them anyway? Would it be that difficult to let customers use their own icons?!

Koken Broken

Koken Broken

Monday, 13th August 2018

Koken is all very nice, but it really is so slow. Plus, it provides no way to clear its cache, and this had built up over time to more than 12,000 entries taking getting on for 2GB! Which, considering that I have a 10GB limit, is just not on. The only way to delete cache entries is manually; but Filezilla FTP displays only 9999 entries, and you can’t delete the whole lot in bulk because the server gets arsey and disconnects… So, after a long deletion session, removing largest items first, I’ve got it down to about 6,000 small entries, and I’ll leave it at that till I can get rid of Koken altogether.

But that time is not now, because I need it around so that I can pick up all the geolocation info that I’d painstakingly added to the pics… I’m working on coding up my own gallery with a similar look to Koken (which I stil llike), and it’s not looking bad so far, and is much quicker! Going to take some time, though…

Coup de Grass

Coup de Grass

Tuesday, 7th August 2018

Well, after a wonderful 46 days break, I’ve finally had to mow the lawns again. The grass is slowly recovering from its parched, brown state, and it was mostly a matter of cutting grass around the edges, and weeds. I do seem to have a mixture of grasses, though: one small area had thrived, and had a few strands that were knee-height!

How are the mighty fallen? Not yet, it seems

How are the mighty fallen? Not yet, it seems

Thursday, 2nd August 2018

Noticed this in Chapeltown the other day. Access was the first credit card I ever owned, back in 1973 – and we called it “the mighty Access card” because of all the powers it gave us to spend the phenomenal amount we were being paid in expenses for working in Bristol. Phenomenal? It was over £200 a month on top of salary, which must be around £1800 in today’s money.

The card was discontinued in 1996, so why this establishment still has a sign for it I have no idea!

Why…

Why…

Saturday, 28th July 2018

… does Groundhog Day keep coming on Dave?

Modern Life

Modern Life

Saturday, 28th July 2018

Courtesy of Private Eye (with Ozymandius corrected to Ozymandias…)

Corona, vale…

Corona, vale…

Friday, 27th July 2018

After many years of stout service, I’ve finally had to give up with the UR1 post-crown. Since the beginning of the year, it was coming out every 2 months, but then started lasting only a few days. So, one hour in the dentist today while he took an impression of UL1 and UR1, sealed off UR1, drilled off the crown on UL1 (tooth underneath still strong, thankfully), and made a (plastic) temporary 2-unit bridge. He also shortened both, because (apparently…) the two tend to show longer as you get older…

The session took slightly longer than anticipated because of the heat: all the stuff the nurse had to mix up was drying too quickly!

Must say, though, it looks good, feels solid at the top, and a great relief to be able to eat without a sense of jeopardy!

Next step: a 6-week break before going back to remove the temporary bridge, remove the remaining root on UR1, and sorting out a permanent 4-unit bridge (UL1 to UR3): it means replacing the Maryland bridge on UR2, and anchoring to newly-crowned UL1 and (healthy) canine. Going to take 2 hours…

Rain!

Rain!

Thursday, 26th July 2018

At last! We have rain (plus rumbles of thunder). Been up to 32C today and very clammy, so this is a long-awaited relief! Until it stops, of course…

Second Home?

Second Home?

Monday, 23rd July 2018

Still the hot, dry weather continues, so an impromptu visit to Ladybower Inn seeing as we were in the area (well, Hillsborough…). I’d never noticed this fish carving on the wall before.

CSS Grid

CSS Grid

Saturday, 21st July 2018

I suppose CSS Grid merits its own entry: I’m amazed at how simple it makes web-page layout; a combination of it with W3C responsive is perfect for what I need. I didn’t intend revamping existing pages, but the temptation was too much… Not that it makes sense to apply it to all pages, but definitely the ones that have more structure. Up till now, I’ve just let W3C do all the @media queries, but CSS Grid has made me want to do my own, and presentation exactly how I want it on various device-widths is a doddle (or thereabouts).

The Art of Judicious Decision Making

The Art of Judicious Decision Making

Saturday, 14th July 2018

About a week after completing the move to the W3C template, I happened across Bootstrap Studio, and it looked rather funky. So I bought it… And then remembered how much I hated Bootstrap in the Joomla incarnation… But I started looking at converting the site to Bootstrap 4: far from a painless process, and a weird learning curve that rose very little but then more steeply once the concepts had started to seep through. Needed a lot of online help though, struggled to get the barebones of the front page created, and disappointed by the lack of control over the HTML it generates. All very hard work and not sure I want to give the time to changing the whole site.

And then yesterday I came across CSS Grids, and what a revelation! Such a simple and powerful methodology, so I’m trying to gen up on that now. Once I find out how to do a fixed menu bar with dropdowns, another conversion may well be on…

Addendum
Best to keep things simple, of course. I can continue using W3C for the menu bar, leave current pages as is (except for pic pages, which look better with CSS Grid), and use CSS Grid for future changes and new pages.

Got a semi on

Got a semi on

Saturday, 7th July 2018

England reach the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1990 after beating Sweden 2-0. Amazing stuff.

First time I’ve watched them in a WC match with a crowd of others since we lost to Germany 2-3 in 1970 (sat around a pokey little TV in the BNC JCR). Crowd? Becky and Andy threw open house and had the match on two TVs indoors and one in the garden, with BBQ, beer, wine, and snacky bits. Had to be garden, of course, even though the (still continuing) sun made viewing less than optimal. Soak up the sun and glory. Must admit, though, that even in the last minute of added time, I still had the feeling that they would find a way to blow it!

Great header by Maguire (yet another set piece), likewise by Alli (open play), and crucial saves by Pickford. Meanwhile, Russia and Croatia have just gone to extra time – don’t get too tired, now…

SSL Installation Method Update

SSL Installation Method Update

Monday, 2nd July 2018

Hmm… the instructions on how to install a new SSL certificate that I posted previously don’t seem to be quite right now. This is what I did to update today:

    Go to SSL For Free to generate a new certificate.

    Validate domain ownership by FTP (same pw as cPanel).

    When verified, it will generate details for Private Key and Certificate.

    On cPanel, go to SSL/TLS.

    Go to KEY and paste the Private Key contents into “Upload a New Private Key”, giving it a suitable description for identification. Save it.

    Go to CRT and paste the Certificate contents into “Upload a New Certificate”, giving it a suitable description for identification. Save it.

    Go to Manage SSL Hosts, Browse Certificates, select new certificate, Install Certificate.

    Back on cPanel, go to SSL/TLS Status to verify new certificate active.

Thai Festival

Thai Festival

Saturday, 30th June 2018

Still the sunny spell spell continues, so why not pay a visit to the Thai Festival at Manchester? A two-day event at Platt Fields, but day one is enough. Platt Fields is located just a bit further down the road from the Chinese Consulate in Rusholme, and I’m amazed that I used to think nothing of walking there and back from Piccadilly! This time, definitely the bus. I have to say that it’s well served by buses (41-43, 143, maybe others) at frequent intervals.

Arrived there about 10:45 and not a lot going on. Grabbed one of the several bales of straw scattered around, and plonked down in the shade of one of the canopies provided. And just sat. Nothing really kicked off until the afternoon – singing, dancing, Thai boxing. And then the big event – Ladyboys… Unbelievable how much interest there was in that! As soon as they were announced, 90% of the crowd flocked to the stage and whipped out their mobiles… Entertaining and dynamic, but don’t think they’d get far on BGT (or TGT?).

Plenty of good food available; but also had to endure some painful “Thai Jazz” for half an hour: imagine jazz… played on bagpipes… through Motorhead’s sound system… That’s the only way I can describe the experience. Thankfully followed by a (pretty good) guitar/singer duo who launched into “Key To The Highway” (the first blues track I ever owned).

All in all, it was enjoyable: crowded in the end, but still relaxing. All this heat is beginning to get to me though!

Matlock Bath

Matlock Bath

Monday, 25th June 2018

We’re in an amazing sunny spell at the moment, so off to give the Heights of Abraham a whirl. The station car park was (surprisingly) almost empty when we arrived around 9:30 – just us and 2 others.

The cable car ride is quite tame, but does give decent views. (Certainly not on a par with the one coming down from 5600′ on Huangshan!) And it does have a rest on the journey (presumably to allow other cars to load/unload), which tends to cause alarm in some… At the top, there are a few diversions, but hardly anything spectacular. A climb up the 54 steps of Victoria Prospect Tower to get a slightly more elevated vista, and an (to me) interesting guided tour of an old lead-mining cave system (a constant 7C down there, so a welcome refuge from the heat!).

But at £17? A bit overpriced, I think. But no grumbles.

As for Matlock Bath itself, it’s a strange place. A really beautiful setting, yet it seems to think it’s a seaside resort: lots of fish and chip places, amusement arcades, and a honeypot for bikers.

Just 3 words…

Just 3 words…

Saturday, 23rd June 2018

Always nice to discover something new and useful. Having read this article today, I’ve been having a play with What3Words, and it seems a great idea, based on such a simple concept. Any use in the real world? Remains to be seen, I suppose, but it does seem to be gaining support from businesses, so here’s hoping.

Random World Cup Reflections

Random World Cup Reflections

Friday, 22nd June 2018

Having watched most first-round and a few second-round matches, I think it’s fair to say that no team has been outstanding. So many defensive errors, forwards with wayward shots, and listless midfielders. England have probably looked the best (albeit for only 25 minutes). Russia a big surprise, though: thank gods they have no history of drug-taking in their sports or else it might raise suspicions…

Good performance by Croatia last night to beat a very poor Argentina. Team looks solid, so no hope of an appearance by our local boys Hathersic, Burbic, and Stanic. Maybe Spinic and Futbolpic will get a look in.

“Wish You Were Here”

“Wish You Were Here”

Monday, 11th June 2018.

Now this is what makes Photoshop worthwhile! Posted on Twitter.

Time for a change

Time for a change

Thursday, 7th June 2018

Having settled on a template for the website for some long time, I thought it might be interesting to look at revamping it. The main reason was wanting to have a fixed horizontal menu, rather than the sidebar menu which took up a lot of the screen width. Plumped for W3C’s Startup template, which looks like it can handle everything I need.

It does mean changes to every single page, though – it’s not a quick CSS fix! It’s going to take some time, but I’m happy enough with what I’ve managed to convert so far. I do still like the minimalist idea of the old setup, but let’s see how it goes (I can revert without too much hassle. I think…)

Mistle thrushes are back

Mistle thrushes are back

Thursday, 7th June 2018

Well, one is. Had a visit to the back lawn yesterday afternoon.

Problem is, new neighbours two doors down have two cats which are very inquisitive…

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo

Saturday, 19th May 2018

After using (“a version of”) Photoshop CS6 for many years, I decided to go legit. But at Adobe’s prices (over £100 a year)? Not for me, Clive. Saw a recommendation for Serif Affinity Photo somewhere and had a look into it. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to offer a trial version, so had to torrent one to have a look at it. It’s very Photoshoppy, so it’s easy to pick up the essentials. It does have its idiosyncracies (like Personas), but seemed to do everything I need, so I bought it – £48.99 perpetual licence, and cheaper than even the (limited) Photoshop Essentials.

And thought I’d be unconvential and start with a clean slate of ignorance rather than ploughing straight into it and missing something of the “ethos”. There are some excellent tutorial videos freely available on Youtube – over 200 of them! I have 4k Video Downloader for downloading from Youtube, but the free version doesn’t allow downloading from a huge playlist, So, not fancying downloading 200+ videos individually, I got a licence for that too (£13+), and let it get on with the job.

Affinity Photo is excellent. So far, I particularly like the Haze Removal tool, which has done a brilliant job with just one click on some photos I struggled to improve with Photoshop. I don’t think it’ll be able to import Photoshop Actions (of which I have many), but it does have a macro capability, so I can (probably) regenerate them without too much pain.

Flamborough

Flamborough

Sunday, 6th May 2018

A drive over to Bridlington on a sunny Bank Holiday Sunday… Set off early (7am) and quiet motorways all the way to Howden, thankfully. Finished the friends visit by early afternoon, so went on to Flamborough. Must be 45 years or more since I was last there but can’t say it’s changed much! I can remember we camped there a couple of times, but, beyond that, it’s just an alcoholic haze.

Very crowded and had to park in a field. Had a stroll on to the cliffs, and sat watching the kittiwakes and puffins. Then, amazingly, this biggish orange bird flew across – a red kite! I know they’re becoming more common now, but I’ve only seen one before (about 35 years ago, blown across from Wales, by Alport Towers). Quite made my day!

Drove back a different way to take in the fantastic long straight empty roads across the Yorkshire Wolds. Until you hit Stamford Bridge, and eventually realise why there are now long queues: they do have a bridge, and it’s only wide enough to take a single line of traffic… Back to reality…

Only just discovered Google reverse image search

Only just discovered Google reverse image search

Saturday, 28th April 2018

Having tried in vain to identify the location of a series of photos showing a castle, and only coming up with that it must be in the UK (building style, amount of clothes people were wearing, tulips coming out), but a Google image search on “UK castles” not being helpful, I discovered that Google can do a “reverse” image search.

Just go to https://images.google.com, click on the camera icon, then “Upload an image”, and let it have a go. Just a few seconds, and it came up with the result: it turned out to be Arundel Castle.

It does seem to give good results for popular touristy places (London and Paris certainly), but not so with more “off-the-track” places. Still, I’m quite impressed by it.

OS Map Wrong

OS Map Wrong

Thursday, 19th April 2018

It’s a very rare occasion when you have to call doubt on something on an OS map, but I found out the hard way today that they can get things wrong. The OS25 has a very good path marked dropping from Houndkirk Road down to the Burbage valley. I was following the only good path, and when I checked with Alpinequest, I was well “off track”. So, I cut back to find the OS path. There was a stile, so looking good. And then a path which was nothing more than a sheep trod. And which soon petered out to nothing… So, had to struggle across heather and boggy bits to get back onto the original path. All very annoying and unnecessary. The supposed OS path does not show on Google Earth, so what made them think such a good path exists?!

Addendum
Having looked at other maps on the OS site, it’s still puzzling. The Greenspace does not show it; nor does the Aerial; but the National Park Pathways and OS25/50 do show it. Fact remains, it does not exist!

Ladybower Visit

Ladybower Visit

Monday, 16th April 2018

Weather looks very promising for this week, so time for a brief (2.8 miles) walk at Ladybower. Been wanting to see the “plughole” by the dam for ages, and today gave a great opportunity.

So how old am I?

So how old am I?

Monday, 16th April 2018

Did a test the other day in some online newspaper that allegedly judges how “grown old” you have become: and scored 21/35 (if my memory is working…). So that means I’m 60% grown old? I think I’d settle for that! Had a search for another one today, and, doing a random selection of the first Google hit, I had a go on this one. I think the result confirmed what I’ve always suspected: body deteriorating but mind never reached full maturity.

Landline woes

Landline woes

Friday, 23th April 2018

Tested out the 2 SIMs in the new mobile by calling our landline – and got the sound of silence… Further investigation (i.e. 1471) showed that the landline had received the calls, but hadn’t rung… So, duff handset (it is extremely old) or faulty line (broadband is still working, but has been a bit slow recently)? Took the opportunity to finally buy a replacement handset (Panasonic, £19.99, from Argos), connected it, and got a ring for incoming call – sort of: it was a rather truncated, strangled series of notes, and only rang about 50% of the time. Plus it’s possible to make outgoing calls, but you get an echo of the other party’s speech…

So, looks like a line problem, and had to steel myself for reporting it to my ISP. Gave up after being on hold for 20 minutes; rang an hour later from the new SIM – and got through to a human almost immediately… Now, I don’t want to be paranoid, but the suspicion arose that maybe they have had enough of the hassle I’ve given them over the years, and “deprioritised” the number they know about! *dons tinfoil hat*

Anyway, the support person ran a line test, and confirmed that there is a fault, it affects both phone and VDSL, and she’s passed it on to Openreach. 48 hours response time, she said. So, hopefully, some progress will be made in the next month…

Addendum
Not exactly “within 48 hours”, but sorted by Openreach within two working days. All seems to be fine now.

New Mobile

New Mobile

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Finally got round to buying a new phone, after plodding along with my 3-year old cracked screen Motorola. It’s a Xiaomi MI A1, and I have to say it’s quite impressive! Dual SIM, dual lens, same size as iPhone 7, 64Gb memory. It’s an AndroidOne phone, so gets all Google’s updates (for 2 years). Not getting regular updates was one of the annoying things about the Moto (and most non-Google Android phones). It’s a lot larger than the Moto, but easy enough to handle. Well, I hope so: seems very difficult to find a tempered-glass screen protector that will fit snugly!

It will take an SD card, but what I didn’t realise was that it takes up one of the SIM slots… after I’d bought a second SIM… Still, 64Gb should keep me going for long enough – at least until the 2nd SIM contract ends and I can have a think. The camera’s not the best (poor in low light), but it seems more than good enough for taking pics on sunny day walks. Happy bunny.

Weather: you like it or not

Weather: you like it or not

Tuesday, 10th April 2018

Today is like a dull, miserable November’s day. How different from yesterday’s sunshine and blue skies – perfect walking weather, so a 4-mile meander through the woods around Greno was called for.

SSL at last

SSL at last

Saturday, 7th April 2018

Well, I’ve finally got round to installing a proper SSL certificate, courtesy of SSL For Free. Needs regenerating every 3 months, of course…

Just as a reminder to myself, the process is not exactly daunting…:

    Go to SSL For Free to generate a new certificate.

    Validate domain ownership by FTP (same pw as cPanel).

    When verified, it will generate details for Private Key and Certificate.

    On cPanel, go to SSL/TLS

    Go to KEY and paste the Private Key contents into “Upload a New Private Key”, giving it a suitable description for identification. Save it.

    Go to CRT and paste the Certificate contents into “Upload a New Certificate”, giving it a suitable description for identification. Save it.

    Back on cPanel, go to SSL/TLS Status .

    Select the right Certificate (if more then one showing) and then click “Install Certificate” (at the bottom of the page).

Working together

Working together

Thursday, 14th December 2017

Having booked a flight from Manchester to Cebu with Singapore Airlines, it turned out that the first leg was Manchester to Frankfurt – with Lufthansa… Two separate airlines involved, so what’s the procedure for checking in and getting boarding passes? Called Singapore several weeks ago, and they said check in with DLH at Manchester, which is fair enough; and to advise the check-in desk that the luggage needs to be automatically loaded onto SIA at Frankfurt (which I would have thought would have been done automatically…). But it occurred to me that the Manchester check-in may only give a boarding pass for MAN-FRA, so I called SIA for clarification…

Talk about wading through treacle… Getting the SIA woman to understand the concern was a nightmare…

“Yes, you can book in online, sir.”

“I’m not trying to book in! I just want to clarify the procedure, when, where, and by who the boarding passes will be issued!”

And it went on in this vein for 10 or 15 minutes, with her putting me on hold several times.

“You need to contact Lufthansa with the routing code, sir.”

So I had to ask what on earth a routing code was, and why SIA can’t answer my simple question seeing as the flights were booked with SIA! Very difficult to understand what she was saying, and she seemed totally clueless. Surely to god, SIA and DLH can make it all a seamless procedure between them? She said she’s going to talk to DLH and ring me back in half an hour: 45 minutes later, nothing…

Two and a half hours, and still nothing. So rang Lufthansa: apart from an alleged 2 minute wait turning to 10, they were very efficient… If you check in at the desk at MAN, they will provide boarding passes for all 3 legs; if you check in online, you need to do it with both DLH and SIA. Annoying about the double online check-in, but problem sorted. SIA have been appalling over this, and Emirates may be getting new custom in the future…

Struggles with Koken

Struggles with Koken

Tuesday, 12th December 2017

Spent a day tearing the remnants of my hair out trying to find a way to stop Koken appending the site title to the <TITLE> in the HTML header (it’s a bit annoying that it does that as it ends up making the <TITLE> too long in many cases). Found it difficult to follow the flow of page creation between the theme and the backend, but got there in the end thanks to Windows 10 having a Bash shell!

It was essentially a matter of finding the right variable to search for using grep, and it turned up in a location I’d previously not thought relevant… Turned out that it was app/site/tags/TagLoad.php that was the culprit, and then just a matter of removing Koken::\$the_title_separator and Koken::\$site[‘page_title‘] from the appropriate echo statement.

Annoying greetings

Annoying greetings

Saturday, 9th December 2017

I have a courier delivering my tea who insists on addressing me as “pal”… WTF? He seems to be an obnoxious twerp, but it does rile me. Anyway, I have to sign for the delivery, so I just write PAL and everyone’s happy.

But there seems to be a trend amongst the younger generation to use the term “bud”, which pisses me off even more. Are they trying to be “cool” or what? Maximum cringeworthyness.

And another change of mind…

And another change of mind…

Saturday, 9th December 2017

Very disappointed with Firefox Quantum, and I’ve changed my main browser to Waterfox. Never heard of it until today, but it’s looking good. And I can get back the plugins that wouldn’t work under Quantum…

I reserve the right to change my mind. Infinitely.

I reserve the right to change my mind. Infinitely.

Saturday, 2nd December 2017

Right, then: having definitely decided to use Coppermine for the gallery, I am now using Koken… Just felt that Coppermine looks a bit dated now, and Koken is much “cleaner”. Now I have to decide whether white or grey background is better…

Have to say that Koken is quirky, but once you get used to its idiosyncracies it’s quite impressive. Handling of geotagged photos was a bit disappointing as it uses Google Maps whereas I want Openstreetmap. However, a simple change sorted that out: just change storage/themes/elementary/content.lens in the <koken:geolocation> section to replace

href="http://maps.google.com/?q= geolocation.latitude , geolocation.longitude "

with

href="https://www.openstreetmap.org/?mlat= geolocation.latitude &mlon= geolocation.longitude #map=18/ geolocation.latitude / geolocation.longitude "

(The 18 is a number specifying the zoom level; 18 seems about right.)

Piwigo problem solved

Piwigo problem solved

Wednesday, 29th November 2017

OK, this was not too difficult to sort out. Just stick:

date_default_timezone_set("Europe/London");

near the top of /include/common.inc.php.

However, Piwigo does not seem responsive enough, so I’ll stick with Coppermine…

Where did they go?

Where did they go?

Wednesday, 29th November 2017

Been wondering what happened to the mistle thrushes we had in the garden earlier this year: spotted one by Greno Surgery.

Photo Galleries

Photo Galleries

Wednesday, 22nd November 2017

Having settled on Piwigo for my image gallery, I’m a bit disappointed to find that it won’t run properly on hosting.co.uk: it installs cleanly, but throws out a stream of PHP errors (date related) on trying to connect. I really can’t be bothered to delve into it, and have moved to Coppermine. My main gripe with Coppermine previously was that it was not responsive; it now is (well, 99%: it does seem to break up on certain thumbnail displays) and I’ll be using that…

Blogging software

Blogging software

Wednesday, 22nd November 2017

Looking to move from my home-brewed blog, I’ve been trying just about everything that’s available from the Hosting Cpanel. WordPress looked good for a while (and even considered redoing the whole site using it), but it was taking more time and giving more headaches than I can spare; plus it automatically became a target for every hacker and spammer in the known universe… Some other blogging software looked to have potential, but was either too fiddly or not responsive.

So I plumped for Dotclear because of its simplicity and customisability. All working great until I tried to log in as Admin the next morning, and it crashed with a MySQL timeout… Reinstalled a couple of times, but still the same. The fact that just browsing to the blog itself was fine showed that the database was OK, so what was going on?! What’s different about an Admin login? Well, it checks for updates by calling home… And dotclear.org was extremely unresponsive… So, I edited admin/index.php to comment out the lines that call home (for updates and RSS feed), and Robert’s your mother’s brother. Annoying and tedious, but I can now switch away from my home-brewed blog.

Bye bye Hostinger…

Bye bye Hostinger…

Thursday, 16th November 2017

… and hello hosting.co.uk. Couldn’t justify the price hike from £50 to £70 for what is essentially a bit of dabbling, so here I am. So far, I’m impressed by (a) the price, (b) the offerings on cPanel, and (c) the speed compared to Hostinger.

Gone back to Coppermine for the gallery, and giving WordPress another try. See how it goes…

Collared Doves…

Collared Doves…

Saturday, 7th October 2017

We seem to be being invaded by collared doves; which is nice… Yesterday, noticed a flock of around 20 descending on trees behind the old garages; and today, just had four perching on neighbours’ fence. Collared doves seem to have been scarce in this area over recent years, so hope this is a serious revival.

Water, Water, Everywhere…

Water, Water, Everywhere…

Tuesday, 8th August 2017

Had a visit from a Yorkshire Water bloke yesterday to test the water quality in our area, and learnt a few things. Our supply comes from Langsett, apparently, so not too far away. What surprised me was that areas quite close to here get their water from York! It seems that they are not allowed to lay pipes under the M1, so those areas east of the motorway (such as Rotherham, Thorpe Hesley etc.) have to look elsewhere, and that elsewhere is near York. The water’s pumped to a huge underground tank “like a cathedral” (can’t remember where), up to a hill near Wentworth, then gravity fed to destinations.

I did ask him what that small reservoir up on Hallam Moors is used for, but he wasn’t even aware that it existed, so that must remain a mystery.

Lazy summer Monday

Lazy summer Monday

Monday, 17th July 2017

Glorious sunshine, no clouds, no wind – today must be summer! A late decision to have lunch at the Ladybower Inn: meal, 2 pints Batemans light, lazing outside by the Snake Pass. Then back via Hathersage and up Dale Bottom to Stanage, Burbage, and Ringinglow.

The age of equality? Not just yet, it seems…

The age of equality? Not just yet, it seems…

Monday, 3rd July 2017

An advert spotted by Andy after family lunch at Monsal Head. Where would women be without us men, eh?

Birds again

Birds again

Thursday, 18th May 2017

Swallow perched on telegraph pole along Skew Hill, singing quite merrily.

Yellowhammer singing away along Stanley Hill. I disturbed some largish bird, but not sure what! Seemed to have a greenish hue on the brief back view that I had, call unfamiliar to me. A mystery.

Fox again

Fox again

Wednesday, 10th May 2017

Looks like we’ve had another walk-through from a fox: left a pile of droppings on the back lawn overnight…

Avian Activity

Avian Activity

Monday, 1st May 2017

Don’t know what’s going on here: amazing number of bird visits to back and front these past few days. Mistle thrush (one or two) very regular, and squabbling with blackbirds. This morning, had great tit and chaffinch on front lawn: unheard of since we moved into this house.

Bird News

Bird News

Friday, 28th April 2017

Since the neighbours hacked down all their bushes and replaced them with a stalag fence last year, bird visitors to the gardens have been scarce. But these past few days have brought regular visits from a mistle thrush and a collared dove. Seen the occasional song thrush around in the past, but a long time since I’ve seen a mistle thrush anywhere, so a welcome visitor.

Now had a crow visit: first time I’ve ever known one come so close.

Getting rid of Piwigo

Getting rid of Piwigo

Saturday, 15th April 2017

Having used Piwigo for my gallery for some time and found it pretty good, I now need to replace it as it’s not responsive. But finding an alternative that looks decent has proved to be a bit of a nightmare for various reasons. However, today I’ve come across Koken and that looks like what I need, so looks like I’ll plump for that – and start from scratch…

Addendum
First impressions of Koken on trying it in earnest were not good: gave useless “HTTP error” when trying to upload 4000×3000 image. After much trial and error, it seems it doesn’t really like large hires images (not a PHP problem because upload limit is 128MB…). Not a showstopper though, as a Photoshop action can quickly sort out the ones giving problems with little loss of clarity. So… accepting that, it’s all looking the way I want it: clean, crisp, and responsive. Adding titles and captions will have to come later…

Looking good to me

Looking good to me

Friday, 7th April 2017

Getting rid of Joomla has very much improved the look and feel of the whole site. The Editorial template provided free by html5up has been easy to work with and provides the basis for a fully-responsive HTML5 site – along with it actually looking decent. Impressed.

How many browsers does one person need?

How many browsers does one person need?

Saturday, 25th February 2017

I’ve just installed Opera Neon out of curiosity. It does look rather weird, and I’m not sure whether I’ll find it useful. But it’s a completely different presentation method, so I’ll try to give it a go if I remember… I do like the standard Opera, even though it’s not my main browser but gave up using it much when it seemed to be getting rather OTT.

I’ve really been rather promiscuous as far as browsers are concerned; finding a favourite and then discarding it for slowness or bloatedeness. Chrome was a long-time favourite, but I switched from that to Vivaldi, and have been pretty satisfied with it. But I still have Chrome… and Opera… and Firefox… and IE11… and Edge… and still use (or have to use) all for different reasons. I suppose the obvious omission is Safari, but I never got on with that, and, post-iPhone, post-iTunes, I am quite content to steer well clear of “the Apple experience”!

What I got for Christmas

What I got for Christmas

Saturday, 25th February 2017

Amongst other items, Becky and Andy gave me a DNA-testing kit from ancestry.co.uk. Being dutifully-minded, I gozzed in the tube and posted it off. After 6 weeks and several e-mails saying “We’re processing it… honest…”, I finally got the results – and I haven’t a clue what light they’ve shed.

It turns out that I’m 53% GB, 20% Europe West, 13% Ireland, 5% Europe East, 3% Italy/Greece, 2% Scandinavia, <1% European Jewish, <1% Iberian Peninsula, <1% Caucasus, <1% Middle East, and <1% Asia South… Approximately… As for matches to people that ancestry.co.uk have registered, there is an “Extremely High” chance that I am related to a fourth cousin (or range of fourth to sixth cousin, or third cousin removed) called Kenneth Lawrence, about whom they seem to have no other details… Plus, they come up with 148 pages of matches of varying likelihood, with 50 matches per page… Seriously – do they expect me to wade through over 7,000 entries to find something interesting?!

I’m just a bit worried that my 53% might have voted for Brexit without my knowing it!

Boredom is…

Boredom is…

Saturday, 11th February 2017

… being bloody housebound! Apparently, back problems are the biggest issue for GPs nowadays, and I’ve added to the statistics… Had a mild lower-back pain 4 or 5 weeks ago, so did the exercises that the GP had recommended in the past, and that cleared it up, apart from a small niggle on the lower right. “Good enough”, I thought, and left it at that for a couple of days, until I had the brilliant idea to keep doing the exercises anyway, to keep the back in good nick. Big mistake! One of the routines upset that niggle, and it decided that agony was the best response… Sitting and lying in bed were fine, but stand? walk? – no chance! Only way I could manage either was by bending forward at 45o… and only for a very short time… So, I’ve had weeks of sitting and lying around the house, which effectively means TV and PC and a numb mind.. Thankfully, it’s finally getting back to normal, and I’ve managed a few walks outside – for a whole 10 minutes! Oh, the power!

Had to visit the GP, of course: and the only way I could get there was for Mel to drive me the vast 300m and then use her as a human zimmer frame to walk to the surgery! Got prescribed cocodamol 30/500 – plus diazepam… The cocodamol did bugger all for the pain, just made me light-headed and constipated – deep joy! The diazepam were brilliant: can’t remember ever being so chilled-out and sleeping so well (weird dreams, though…). But they ran out after 5 days, and 24 hours later I’d gone from chilled-out to spaced-out and freaked-out! Anxiety, panic, lack of concentration – it was a flaming nightmare for a couple of days. Do not want that again…

So what have I learned from this? Divert by keeping the brain active – learn new stuff or revisit stuff long forgotten; nothing short of morphine is likely to alleviate the pain, so accept that it will eventually pass, and intersperse the sitting/lying with short walks up, down, and around the house; enjoy the feeling of the pain getting less once it happens; and, above all, AVOID DIAZEPAM!

School Days

School Days

Saturday, 11th February 2017

Decided to scan (and read!) all my school reports from Brigg Grammar that have survived the years. Interesting reading! Didn’t realise I only came 7th in the first term there and shot up to 1st the next! Such acceleration never surpassed later, I guess… Interesting 6th Form comments about my lack of contribution to school activities: they were obviously unaware that the 60s were rather fervently in progress at the time!

The scans are now all available here. Turns out that all the reports through junior school and grammar school are extant. Made interesting reading! Now if only Oxford had given us written reports

Time Can Do So Much!

Time Can Do So Much!

Thursday, 15th December 2016

An attempt to recreate the 1968 Oxford matriculation photo outside the Sheffield Tap in October 2012…

Bleaklow, How You’ve Changed

Bleaklow, How You’ve Changed

Saturday, 16th July 2016

Walked for half an hour or so from the Snake Road summit onto Bleaklow along the Pennine Way. Half expect these wilderness areas to remain untouched, but that’s not the reality of course. Not like it was in my day blah-blah-blah, squelching through peat mud, just easy, comfortable walking on a sandy path and paving stones. It does seem a shame, but so many pairs of boots for so many years must have caused immense damage.

Still a great feeling walking there, even though we didn’t even get as far as Hern Clough (it was the second walk of the day…). Such splendid isolation, rawness, brooding hostility with evil pools either side of the path; yet beauty with abundant cotton grass, the call of a golden plover, the fluttering of meadow pipits. I’ve missed this badland.

Physio, heal thyself

Physio, heal thyself

Monday, 16th May 2016

Poor old Ziggy: after all this time treating my tennis elbow, he’s been suffering from the same complaint for 2 months! It came on when he was testing another patient… And, yes, he is treating himself.

Ziggy is pure stardust

Ziggy is pure stardust

Saturday, 9th April 2016

In previous posts, I’ve alluded to this “tennis elbow” condition that had seemingly settled in for the duration. I finally got referred to a physio three weeks ago, and two sessions with him have made a world of difference! Just a simple exercise to do thrice daily, and the pain has all but gone now. So much time wasted to get to this point. Thanks to Ziggy the physio for his time and skills, and to the NHS for still being able to provide such brilliant staff despite the best efforts of Lansley and Hunt since 2010.

Blessed be the Brian

Blessed be the Brian

Saturday, 9th April 2016

Well, I woke up this morning…

No, not a blues song – far from it. There was an article about Brian Blessed in The Guardian today, to which I got in the first below-the-line comment over breakfast at 8am – just seven words which has had 164* recommends so far! This is fame… this is glory… this is ridiculous!

"This article should have been in uppercase."

Marvellous bloke, though. Wish I had his energy, enthusiasm, and sod-the-buggers attitude.

    Up to 167 since I started this post.


Addendum:
Good grief! Just looked back through my other BTL posts and one about Stephen Fry in 2014 got 353 recommends! Perhaps a sign of the times that my cynical posts get recommends, but my serious ones don’t?

Words (2)

Words (2)

Friday, 25th March 2016

So I “learnt” two new words today: donds and zedded. This is what you get for venturing into the darker regions of The Guardian. Not that they are going to be of any bloody use to me.

Words that only journalists ever use

Words that only journalists ever use

Saturday, 12th March 2016

OK, you gentlemen of the press, have you really ever “hailed” someone for doing something you consider worthy? Or ever told your mates that you had a good “romp” last night? No, of course you haven’t – and nor has anyone else. So stop it. Just stop it.

Rondo RIP

Rondo RIP

Saturday, 12th March 2016

Very sad to hear this morning of the death and probable suicide of Keith Emerson. I never got beyond Pictures At An Exhibition with ELP, but the Nice were the most exciting and entertaining group I ever saw – and I saw them many times. The live performances of Rondo and America were the anthems of our youth, and we travelled miles just to idiot dance/freak to them: on the dance floor several times at the Boston Gliderdrome, in the aisles at a Hull gig. The crescendos in Rondo are still spine-tingling forty-odd years later, though a freak’s probably out of the question nowadays…

I never knew that Lemmie was their roadie and responsible for the knives in the keyboard till today, though. Not that I’d have known who the hell he was back then, but it does add an extra cachet to the legend.

And no mention of the Boston Gliderdrome could be complete without referring to the wonderful and unforgettable Stan Griggs, the resident “conductor”. Always there at the front of the stage, always immaculately dressed, brylcreemed hair, baton in hand, calmly conducting anything that was thrown at him while all around madness reigned. Another name to keep alive on the clacks.

The Joys of Old Age (Part 94) (cont.)

The Joys of Old Age (Part 94) (cont.)

Thursday, 10th March 2016

Well, this flaming “tennis elbow” is not going away in a hurry. The first prescription of some NSAID eased the pain for a couple of days, then flatlined. The second prescription of a strong ibuprofen gel did bugger all. And the third prescription of cocodamol was, I think, clutching at straws on the part of my GP (quite useful for hangovers, though). Meanwhile, it’s now spread to my right arm and may have reached crisis point as it’s a struggle to lift my beer glass.

Daylight foxes

Daylight foxes

Wednesday, 20th January 2016

Had a fox amble through our estate during the cold snap the other day – beautiful to behold. Only my second sighting of one since moving out to Grenoside, the other being on Elliot Lane, just before the junction with the A61.

Words (1)

Words (1)

Saturday, 2nd January 2016

Having just posted about Microsoft, and the words “pain in the arse” having strangely sprung to mind, I was thinking of a suitable word for that condition. “Analalgesia” sounded useful, but it seems the word already exists for something completely different… And, anyway, it would be a mix of Latin and Greek, and I’ve learnt from watching TV that such etymological hybrids are grating. So what to use? Perhaps “proktalgesia”? Looks impressive… Google it… Bugger… There’s already a word “proctalgia” that fits perfectly… Dear Google, you are proctalgesic, do one.

In praise of Microsoft

In praise of Microsoft

Saturday, 2nd January 2016

Certainly not praise for Windows 10, which has proved to be a significant step backwards from Windows 7 on my PC: slower boot time, odd incompatibilities, and, worst of all, mysterious and annoying random freezes for about 1 minute). But praise for the Surface 3 which I received as an unexpected Christmas pressie. I’ve had an Android tablet for a couple of years, and it’s been a great experience and release from the Apple prison, and I could never imagine myself using any other platform for phone and tablet. So I did have some misgivings about having to adapt to using the Surface 3, and the interface is far from ideal, but the display is excellent, and it’s taking over as my main tablet for most of the things I want a tablet for: browsing (Firefox, not Edge), e-book reading, Kodi, live footie streaming (*cough*), and Memory Map. I can’t even be that bothered about turning off all Microsoft’s spying: if they really want to know about every time and place that I pick my nose or scratch my arse, they’re welcome.

npower

npower

Saturday, 5th December 2015

So I went through the formal switching process to change banks, all DDs in place two days before the switchover date, npower sent e-mail acknowledging the new account details – then five minutes later another e-mail saying “We couldn’t collect your Direct Debit amount of …“. The DD was already in place, and they shouldn’t have even been trying for another week! And it stated that they’d changed me back to the standard (i.e. more expensive) tariff because of it… Left it till after the due date and still they hadn’t requested payment… Rang them, and (a) they have no record of their trying to get a payment, (b) I am not on the standard tariff and the DD will be collected next month, and (c) “it takes 19 days to make the change”… Takes who 19 days? Not the bank, not other DDs, just npower… But it means I’ve now missed a payment, and if that buggers up my credit rating, I want their balls on a skewer.

Joomla copyright notice (part 2)

Joomla copyright notice (part 2)

Saturday, 5th December 2015

Hmm… that wasn’t particularly difficult, was it? Just delete it from the template and add it to the footer menu… No need to be frightened by jdoc:include…

Meadowhall

Meadowhall

Saturday, 5th December 2015

Went. Saw a lot of people. Came home.

Joomla copyright notice

Joomla copyright notice

Saturday, 28th November 2015

Just a reminder to myself… Been bugged by how to remove the © notice that Joomla sticks at the bottom of every page. Google turned up loads of stuff that has no relevance to what I see with Joomla 3.4.5. Eventually discovered that it’s defined in /templates/protostar in the footer section. So took a copy and then deleted the copyright line.

Not too keen on the dangling “Back to Top”, though…

Catch 22

Catch 22

Thursday, 26th November 2015

Always nice when one of your favourite books intrudes into real life. I’m having the routing problem again, Dear old Origin Broadband are insisting that I query the issue with Hostinger; but the only way I can do so is via their cpanel – which is what I can’t connect to! So when I am able to report it, there will be nothing to report… This is Major Major in spades.

(And would be a showstopper for anyone without a VPN or mobile access…)

Fancy ticklers

Fancy ticklers

Saturday, 21st November 2015

aw a neat tweet from @sam_bambs today: You can spell the word ‘upside down’ upside down by using other letters of the alphabet: umop apisdn

Ranks along with “eleven plus two” = “twelve plus one”.

VPNs not just for obscurity

VPNs not just for obscurity

Thursday, 19th November 2015

Unable to connect to my own website or Cpanel this morning, even though checkers show that both are up, so looks like a routing issue – which a traceroute confirmed: packets go from my ISP (Origin Broadband) to some outfit called Call27 (who don’t even have a working website yet…), and then timeout.

Of course, getting first-level ISP support to understand the issue is like pulling teeth, and once he’d exhausted his script options and my patience, he just passed it on to second-level, with a 24-48 hour response…

Of course further, by the time I’d finished writing this, the problem had been sorted and no routing is being done via Call27 – not that Origin have bothered to tell me..

Sad News?

Sad News?

Wednesday, 18th November 2015

aka “Unfortunately Guardian”. The bloody Guardian android app is becoming totally unusable with its constant “Unfortunately, Guardian has stopped” messages. And past experience shows that it’s a waste of time reporting issues to them.

To think, I used to be a paid subscriber: you’re no fun any more, Genghis…

The Joys of Old Age (Part 94)

The Joys of Old Age (Part 94)

Wednesday, 18th November 2015

Aches and pains… The doc confirmed today that I have Tennis Elbow, and used the word “degenerate” (verb, not noun): once you hear that word, you know it’s all going downhill – and even downhill will probably leave you out of breath.

Also had my first flu jab while I was there. Supposedly available once you reach 65, but this is the first time it’s been offered to me (I’m 94, you know…).

While she was fiddling about with her bits, I asked if I could get my ears syringed pre-flight to avoid any pain on take-off/landing. Yes, I can, but wax doesn’t cause the problem, apparently – it’s a middle-ear thing, and more likely to be sinus related. Right ear is clear anyway, but left ear may be of interest to candle manufacturers.

Left arm, left ear, dress on the left – it’s all a bit asymmetrical.