My office is still brighter and I still have no windows.

Around twelve months ago I started the migration of my office IT equipment away from the Windows Platform and across to the Apple Platform.

At the time I commented that I was really pleased with the new system, so I thought it would be a good time to now do an update on how things are at the moment.

Firstly I still have no regrets at moving away from Windows at all. The Apple system just works, no messing, no crashing and no instability at all. It’s there and touch wood has never let me down by crashing, failing to start or throwing a hissy fit when I am in the middle of doing something.

The equipment comprises of the following:-

MacBook PRO laptop.
iMac with 21.5″ screen.

Neither are top of the range but they both synchronise together and just work. The Macbook is the non-retina display model and I chose it because unlike the model with the retina display this one comes with a CD-ROM drive and an Ethernet port. I can’t see the point of using WI-FI when the machine is less than 6 feet from the router.

Now I will be honest and admit that the wife still has a Toshiba laptop running Windows 7 and she loves it. Personally when I check it for updates etc I just find it frustrating, some months ago I did a complete system reinstall on it and it took me longer to install all the updates and remove the unwanted extra junk that gets installed then it did to do the initial operating system install.

At least with the system in the office I don’t have to put aside an hour to sort out the updates each month on what Microsoft fondly calls Patch Tuesday. Disk defragmentation is a thing of the past, though I will admit that when I ran Windows I was not a fan of wasting time defragmenting anyway, to be honest I never sever recall seeing any noticeable improvement.

The laptop and desktop are networked and I use a Synology DS413J NAS device which I added to the office a few months ago. The computers both run the same programs and I can use either machine to work on any of my files. Remote access to the NAS is faultless and means I can access my files anywhere I have an internet connection. No mess no fuss setting up the computers to do this. The Router is an Apple AirPort Express and it’s rock solid, it has not dropped out or restarted in the last 3 months. The BT hub I used to have did so every couple of days.

The iMac comes with a lovely aluminium based wireless keyboard and it’s the first keyboard I have had for many years that’s lasted for more than six months, as they get such heavy use. Unlike on the Toshiba the wife uses there is no keyboard bounce, and the whole thing is a pleasure to use. On both machines I use Magic mice which have no scroll wheel and no separate left/right buttons, but yet again they work faultlessly.

Somebody the other day commented that they have no touch screen, he seemed to think that I should not be able to get things done if I could not put greasy finger marks on the screens. Having played with touch screens, my iPad and iPhone both have them I can safely say I am not a fan. Finger marks on screens irritate me greatly.

The iMac is used for mainly web design stuff and to hold my music collection, the MacBook is used for my writing and running the business on, but both are set so they can do either task if required.

I will admit to having Microsoft Office installed on both machines, but thats mainly due to the legacy of having so many word documents etc, and despite what many say I have yet to find any word processor amongst the free offerings that handles .DOC & .DOCX documents well. For my book writing I use a package called Scrivener, it’s the best thing I have come across for book writing and puts a normal word processor program in the shade.

So there you have it, I am still as happy as a pig in a puddle with the kit, though I do find the laptop a bit heavy to lug around much and as soon as the finances can stand the cost and I can justify it I will buy a MacBook Air to take out and about and to clients.

To sum up, when I need to replace this kit, somebody will have had to have produced something pretty good to get me back to a windows system and Windows 8 will have to be a dim and distant fading memory.

So there you have an update on the biggest expense I have ever made with computer kit and in my experience they are worth every single penny they cost, as is the Synology NAS device.


Two for the price of one……

For longer than I can care to remember there has been a scam going round where you are phoned by somebody about a problem you are supposed to have with your computer.

Well I have not had such a call for a few months and today I hit the jackpot and got two! Oh lucky me!

The second was the most memorable and went something like this…..

Good Afternoon Sir this is Dennis from (Some company or another)

Yes, what do you want?

I am phoning good sir because you have a problem with your computer that we are detecting when you connect to the internet, and even sometimes when you are not connected.

Which computer?

You have more than one?

Yes I do.

Well you are lucky man sir but problem is with all of them.

Are you sure it’s with all of them I have here at the moment?

Oh yes indeed sir you have big big trouble with all your computers.

In that case I am impressed with your efficiency.

Thank you kind sir for the complement, we are always trying..

Yes you are…

No kind sir we are always trying to be of assistance.

Well as I said I am impressed that you can detect a problem with all the computers here.

Again thank you sir, you are most most kind.

Would you like to know why I am impressed?

Indeed I would sir.

Well you have managed to detect a problem on a computer I have not had 10 minutes and have yet to unbox, that is very clever.

There was much swearing at the other end and the call terminated.

Now that’s what I call a result!!!!!

What’s that mark on your back? Oh it’s a stab mark!!

Last week I read a book called “The Mummyfesto” written by Linda Green.

You can find it here

on Amazon UK:- The Mummyfesto   on The Mummyfesto

Now although this book is a work of fiction it has had a profound effect on me, and hopefully my book writing.

This is a description of the book from the back cover:-

Adaptable. Dependable. Good at clearing up mess. Being a mum is perfect training to run the country…
When Sam, Jackie and Anna successfully campaign to save their lollipop lady, a TV reporter asks them if they fancy standing in the general election.
It is, of course, a crazy idea: Sam’s youngest child has an incurable disease; Jackie is desperate for another child and her mum is struggling with Alzheimer’s; and Anna’s teenage children, and marriage, are in danger of going off the rails.
But sometimes the craziest ideas turn out to be the best. And just think what they could do if they did get to run the country…

The book will possibly reduce you to tears in a couple of the chapters, where it deals with a sensitive subject, showing great sensitivity and feeling with the writing.

Overall it deals with lots of things from the back stabbing in politics, to friendships, everyday problems, death and believing you can change things.

If you’re a book reader please have a look at this book, I promise you that you won’t regret it. If you do read it then I would love to hear your thoughts on the book and the subjects it covers, either by a comment to this post or if you prefer as a direct email.

I look forward to receiving your comments on the book….

You can tell Christmas is over and it’s the new year

I spent a happy hour today nattering to a friend on the phone and whilst doing so I looked out of the front bedroom window at the cul-de-sac I live in.

Now as I have said many times the place where I live looks better in the dark preferably during a power cut when the street lights are out. It’s a depressing sight with the view filled by badly parked cars and wheelie bins. Although I don’t currently have a car it does irritate me to see them badly parked, often taking a space where two could happily fit. I mean why is it that the worst offenders parking wise are the ones who moan about others parking badly the most? It’s not even a woman or man thing as both sexes are guilty of being unable to park a car in a space big enough to park two or three in if they took care.

As for wheelie bins…… Don’t get me started……. Whoops too late. Here we have three bins per house plus a smaller bin for food waste. We have a black bin for normal waste, a green one for recycling and a brown one for grass cuttings etc. I mean round here the idea is of a tidy garden is one where you can drop a beer can and it does not clang as it hits one already dropped there. The small food bins amaze me, if only by the amount of scrap food some houses put in them. Talk about wasting money, it’s obscene. The wife and I waste very little, I mean the object of getting food is to eat it, not bung it in a grey bin that smells in the summer.

Anyway there I was chatting on the phone, observing from above the people walking through the cul-de-sac, it’s an excellent pedestrian short cut for other roads if you get off the bus that stops at the end of the cul-de-sac every ten minutes each way for over twelve hours a day. The people I watched walk by were a miserable lot, now I know it’s cold, windy and downright miserable, but why did most of them have faces that could turn milk off at 50 yards? It’s always the same this time of year, it’s the post Christmas and new year blues so I am told. I call it just being bloody miserable.

Well I feel better after getting all that off my chest, you can’t beat a good moan on a Wednesday afternoon, does wonders for the digestive system, now I wonder whats in the kitchen for a snack?………..

Watching the world go by.

I am writing this blog whilst sitting in the local shopping centre, such are the advantages of public WI-FI and tablet computers.

It’s new years eve and I am waiting for the wife to get out of work.

The centre is quite busy, mainly it appears with  people buying food and drink, the none food shops all seem very quiet.

Here in the U.K. New Year’s Day is a funny day in as much as that for many it’s a normal working day. Some shops will be open whilst others will be closed.

Looking back it’s been an unusual old year in many respects, so we will see if 2014 turns out any better.

So wherever you are have a happy new year, and thanks for reading the blog.

Currants, Raisins And Peanuts.

Well here we are just past midday on Christmas Day.

The smells of lunch cooking are wafting up the stairs. Being at a loose end for a while I thought I would do a posting in the blog.

Now I will be the first to admit that I have not posted as much as I originally intended to do since starting this blog, but then again unexpected things have happened since the start of the year.

For example my mother has been in hospital three times since the middle of the year and is currently being assessed in a care home to see what her long term needs are regarding care. Sue and I are off to visit her later this afternoon and spend some time with her. How long will depend on the kind of mood she is in. This will be governed by for example how much she is enjoying this care home and if she likes any of the other residents. Today is the first time in 17 years that we have not all sat down together for Christmas lunch, plus she always comes over for the opening of the presents, so every things been a bit strange so far today and we will have to see how mum is coping with it all.

Overall it’s not been a good year really I suppose with lots of unexpected things happening and putting a few spanners in the works so to speak. But that’s life and we just have to get on with it.

One thing I have enjoyed this year has been reading a few blogs, some peoples postings inspire me and put my own trials and tribulations into perspective. I don’t intend to list all my favourite blogs as I am bound to forget one and that would never do. But there are perhaps six that I check on a daily basis for updates and look forward to reading any new posts.

I think only a brave person or perhaps stupid person would hazard a guess as to where we will all be in twelve months time and what we will be doing.

The title of this blog post sums up my year pretty well I think, and if you have not worked it out just take the first letter of each word and look at the resulting word. That sums up my year.

Enjoy the rest of the holiday season and I hope that 2014 will be a lot better for all of us.

Happy birthday to me……..

Well over the pond it’s thanksgiving and here it’s my birthday……

Nothing special planned, too many other things on at the moment, with my mother now out of hospital but still presenting some challenges.

But I thought what the hell let’s do a blog post and look back on a few highlights and perhaps lowlights as well. Or failing that just have a general waffle.

There have not been too many highlights in the last year to be honest, unless you count the Government informing me that my retirement age is now 66 and not 65! No perhaps thats more a lowlight.

I was reading the other day where a person wrote they had been to fifteen schools. I only went to three and they were all within walking distance of where I lived. I have previously posted about my time at school so I won’t dwell on that.

When I left school I worked in a factory for a short time, my father also worked there but not in the area I worked in. It was a paper conversion factory and made everything from cigarette paper to the corrugated paper that went in biscuit tins. Now I will freely admit I hated it, the reason being that the others I worked with were basically mostly lazy, they did the minimum they could get away with, and that’s not my style.

After a few months of that I went into retail where I stayed for almost 17 years, all with the same company. Generally that was enjoyable but as with any job it had it’s good days and it’s bad. Thankfully despite it being amongst other things a photographic retailer there are very few photographs of me at work, for which I am eternally grateful.

These days I work for myself, I like many others got to the stage where our skills made us expensive, so we were passed over for younger cheaper people, which in the long run is a false economy as skill and knowledge is everything. So I went self employed some 15 years ago, and I must admit I enjoy it, I will never be mega rich but at least what I do is for me and not an employer.  I do fancy looking at other markets and I am drawn to try and do something the other side of the Atlantic, that I will be seriously looking at in the next year or so, but it will depend on a number of factors.

So I hear you mutter what are the highlights he was going on about at the start. Well just to stop the moans lets list the most important one….

The biggest highlight of course was getting married to Sue, around 28 years ago if I remember correctly, I am lousy with dates, and to this day I still don’t know how she puts up with me. Here is a picture of the big day, the sun even shone. Some have said I looked shell shocked!!!!


I reckon they might just be right……..

I suppose that I should count every birthday as a big highlight, but I am not really into birthdays to be honest, it’s just a number as they say.

This is a rare picture of me in a terrible pullover with my father, I have many of his traits, both good and bad. I don’t think we were ever really close to be honest, looking back I think it’s because we were so alike and we often clashed because of it.

Me and Dad

There are so many things looking back that I would have liked us to do together, but for various reasons we rarely did anything together and if I am being honest then I deeply regret that.

My guide I suppose when I was young was my mother, and I have like I did with my father got a lot of her traits, hopefully the good ones.


This is mum taken a few years ago, she is now 86 and her health could be a lot better, in her mind she is fine and as sharp as ever, but she has trouble getting about and her long term care is a current worry, still we will sort it in the end no doubt. As she has become older she has become a clone of her own mother, she has selective hearing, bad eyesight and a heart of gold. She only lives over the road from us and she has been here for seventeen years, I am still not sure if we keep an eye on her or she keeps an eye on us…..

Right time to nip over and have a coffee with the old devil, remember with her some of my past birthdays and no doubt she will remind me that she still has my first pair of shoes, my first payslip and all my school reports, including the ones she always drags up from when I was about 5 that said I was a nice little dancer!!! Still mums are there to embariss children on a regular basis. Or so she occasionally tells me.

So Happy Birthday to me…………


Trundling towards the end of the year…..

Well here we are in November trundling towards the end of the year and just one week off my birthday.

I am sitting here in the office just idly messing about really and thinking about how the year has gone.

In all from my perspective I don’t think it’s gone too badly, some things I wanted to achieve I have failed to do but on the other hand I have achieved some unexpected stuff as well, so I guess the two about even themselves out in the end.

Little hiccups have occurred as well, such as my mothers two stays in hospital, all being well she should be home from the second one which has lasted seven weeks on Monday afternoon. One thing that has been noticeable has been that people my mother phones regularly to see how they are have made no or very little effort to find out as she is. My mother is very forgiving in this matter but I am not, I have a long memory. The old saying “Out of sight out of mind.” Springs into my head.

In all honesty I would have liked the business to have done a little better this year, but things are still tough for many people and things will eventually get better. Looking on the bright side the business owes no money to anybody and that’s a rare thing these days.

My book is coming along slowly, I am having one of my dips in enthuasiam at the moment, I have these in most things I do from time to time so we just sit it out and wait until I get back into it again. Both my blogs have been quiet this year as well, I have either not had the time or the will to write anything, hopefully this will change for the better next year, but at the moment I have lot’s of other more important things on my mind.

Blogs are funny things, many people pour their heart out typing stuff they would never normally say to people directly, they pour their heart out across our computer screens. That I will admit is not me I tend as now to just type what comes into my head. I am not a planner or an in-depth thinker it’s just not me. I just trundle along admiring the view I suppose, big plans and the like are just not me. I am generally happy with my lot, I mean why be miserable? Misery has never solved anything at all to my knowledge. Though I will admit to knowing a few that thrive on misery both that which affects themselves and that which affects others. I personally can’t see the point.

So there you have it, me trundling towards the end of the year via my birthday, the excitement for next thursday is building, not that I will do anything special, I never do. Age is just a number nothing more.

Right time for a drink I suppose so I can settle my brain after writing this…..

On your marks……Get set……Get into debt…..

Well it’s sneaking up once again, and the shops have their annual exercise in getting rid of over priced tat.

I am of course talking about Christmas, now I know it’s not yet even November but the fact remains that the retail industry is gearing up for it’s annual exercise in removing money that people haven’t got from their pockets in return for stuff they give to others who actually don’t want to receive it in the first place.

Now the one advantage of being an atheist is that generally this madness passes me by, mums annual present will be sorted by the wife. She will have asked mum weeks ago what she wants. But come christmas day she will still find it a surprise simply because she will have forgotten she had ever mentioned it. Which of course begs the question as to why Sue asks her in the first place, but that’s female logic for you.

When I was a mere youngster presents seemed much simpler, and we were happy whatever we got. There were no computers, at least none that would fit in the average house, nor were there mobile phones and computer games. Remembering back there was no peer pressure that I can recall where we had to have the same as or better than our friends got. These days children want the latest, the perceived best and of course the most expensive. They seem to have lost the appreciation that money does not grow on trees. Many families are suffering from the current economic problems and simply don’t have the money to spend on what their precious little snow flakes are demanding.

But children don’t appreciate that, they just want to out do present wise what their friends are getting. The sad fact is that their friends parents are probably as short of money as their own parents are. Its a vicious circle, and of course a slow slide to poverty. Without doubt it’s a tough time for many families and it’s also a time when people will go into debt they can’t afford to stop their offsprings thinking they don’t love them. It’s a shame that many children seem to think their parents love is directly related to how much money they spend on them.

When I worked in retail we had a period where by law you had to pay a 10% deposit for anything you bought on credit, actually remembering back some luxury items required something like a 33% deposit up front. The theory behind this was of course if you couldn’t afford the deposit then neither could you afford the monthly payments that followed. Agreements were for a fixed period of 6-12-18-24 or in some cases 36 months. But in all cases you knew exactly what the monthly payments were  and for how long together with knowing exactly at the end how much you would be paying. Bad debts weren’t that common as credit checks were quite extensive and you had to show you had the ability to pay.

Now the company I worked for had publicly said many times that if the need for a deposit was removed then bad debt would shoot through the roof. The were proved right because that’s exactly what happened when the legal requirement for a deposit was dropped.

These days you will not have a fixed term agreement you will pay by using a credit card, typically at a very high overall interest rate. I have seen people get a credit card with say a £2500 credit limit. They then assume they have that amount in their pocket to spend, where more accurately they have the ability to accumulate that amount of debit, but because they can spend it they look on it as cash and it is of course far from that.

So spend wisely this christmas, it’s still no fun to be paying off the debts you accumulate this christmas when the next one comes around. Remember if you have cash in your pocket or bank account you have it to spend, if it’s in neither of those places then it’s not money your spending but it’s debt your accumulating.


City of no hope and no glory

For the first time in it must be two years I ventured into the city centre.

I came out depressed to be honest.

There were people just sitting about on the floor leaning back against shop fronts, there was litter blowing around. An old chap begging whilst playing an old accordion. To misquote a comedians well known phrase he played the right notes but in the wrong order.

People were just wandering about with no aim. It could best be described as moving unemployment.

The faces showed no hope and no expectations.

We walked through the major shopping centre. Now when I first moved here to Peterborough 28 years ago it was a lovely centre, well kept, all the shop units full and  busy even mid week with shoppers.

What a change now, it’s full of display tat, and stalls scattered about that make it look like more of an indoor market than a shopping centre. It’s lost it’s sparkle. People were sitting on the cold marble seats looking depressed downtrodden and bored.

There are boarded up shop units, with information painted on them giving details about the centre, in I think the vain hope you will not notice they are empty. There was a Sky TV stand with a couple of men on plying the benefits of satellite TV, to be honest they looked as though they would be more at home selling dodgy second hand cars on a bit of waste land.

The bus station where we caught the bus out was no better, yet more people sitting about not even waiting for buses, rubbish on the floor and a couple of security guards who looked more dodgy than the people they were keeping an eye on.

Peterborough city centre has changed, the council have just spent money on covering much of it with free WI-FI. Looking at the place I can think of many other ways the money could have been better spent.

As I said at the start it was a depressing experience.