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Losing your memory – 9 July 2017

It started off just dull, then the rain came.

It was a dull, dreich morning, but there were a few brighter periods. We’d bought some large bamboo canes to increase the height of the sweet pea frame and today we just got it built when the rain came. It forgot to go away again. Actually it did dry up for a wee while, but not long enough to entice me out.

What I did do was try to fix Scamp’s computer which has developed a memory problem, but nothing serious. I’d pulled the memory board out of the seating and then pushed it back in. It’s a simple thing that usually works. It didn’t. I remember Val telling me once that if the computer appears to start but there is no display, then memory is the problem and that is what was happening.  It had gone from a minor problem to an absolute disaster. I had taken the usual precautions.  I had earthed myself before I touched the memory module and even made sure I didn’t move my feet on the carpet in case I generated a static charge that if transferred to the chips on the memory board would fry them. I took a deep breath and told Scamp “I might have blown the computer.” To her praise, she just said “Ok. What do you want me to do? Shouting at you won’t do any good.” I took it apart again and nearly made the fatal mistake of removing the memory with the battery still attached! After plugging the memory module in again, it powered up. Thank goodness. Now, looking back, I think either a tiny bit of dust had found its way into the memory slot and it was preventing a proper connection or I simply hadn’t seated it properly. Anyway, it lived to fight another day … and so did I. It’s still not fixed. It may need a new memory board, because it’s losing its memory, but it is no worse than it was yesterday.

I finally decided that I wasn’t going to get a walk outside today and took a few shots from the back door. Next door’s washing line made today’s PoD. The highlight of today was roast chicken with potatoes and cabbage. Lovely!  I made some bread but it was too late for dinner, so we’ll enjoy it tomorrow.

It was a poor day for photography today and it looks as if we get to do it all again tomorrow.

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Summer in Scotland – 12 June 2017

Monday is Gems day. I usually get out, but it didn’t look like it today. It was dull again with rain and wind. That’s what you call Summer in Scotland.

I’d decided that today would be Boxer Shorts Day and I have finished the hard work. In fact, all the work is finished, it’s just the little bits of cleaning up than need to be done. I’ve still to give them a final press with the iron and then they will be ready for play testing. It was a bit of a challenge, Hazy, but an interesting one. I’d never have attempted it without your push. Thank you. Hopefully I’ll have pictures tomorrow.

Once that was done and lunch was over, Gems were gathering and I put my headphones on and painted for a while before biting the bullet and heading for Argos to buy a WiFi extender. Setup was simple and once the extender was paired with the modem, it worked out of the box. Now I have a decent WiFi signal in the back bedroom.

Looking forward to Salsa with Jamie tonight, but it was not to be. He had called off at the last minute because of a funeral. Some things you just can’t plan for. So it was Cameron who took both the beginners and the advanced class and he was really, really good. I was impressed.

Today’s PoD was taken from the top of phase 4 of the town centre, looking across to what I suppose must be phase 3 although it never gets called that. Its official title seems to be ‘that dump’ or ‘where the post office used to be’. It really shines in this light, doesn’t it?

Couldn’t settle on a sketch and finally decided to immortalise the two strawberries that were living on the top shelf of the fridge.  I really should have sketched them insitu, but that would have meant leaving the fridge door open for too long.

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Vote, Vote, Vote – 8 June 2017

Today it rained on the good, on the great and on the politicians. Today was voting day.

It rained on everyone today. It was dry for a couple of hours in the morning and that’s when I was smart enough to get the above shot of the coal tit. It was hovering for ages just beside the peanuts waiting for its time slot. It hovered almost like a humming bird. I grabbed my trusty Nikon with the 300mm lens and it had stopped humming and hovering. Not to worry, I got some shots of all the coal tits and blue tits on the peanuts. They move so quickly, the little birds, mainly because they are feeding their young just now.

By eleven it was raining and it simply forgot to go off. We drove up to the school to vote for the least worst party, that’s how bad it is this year. I just hope that June 9th isn’t a May day. A Theresa May day.

After doing our duty, we drove to Robroyston for a coffee and just to say we had been out. After that we went to Bishopbriggs by a circuitous route because of one road closure and no diversion signs. East Dumbarton must be as bad as NLC. We went for Scamp to get some ‘messages’ and me to look at new tech in Currys. She was successful, I wasn’t. The ‘New’ Linx 64bit ‘puter Val told me about is a backward step, as far as I can see. Only one USB 2 slot and a touch pad that has a mind of its own. We drove back through the canal that is the M80. Well, that’s what it feels like in places.

Basically, that was it. I repaired the pocket on my M&S jeans. Scamp tweaked her music for Gems. I did a sketch of a cassette tape and by then it was bedtime.

Frantically hoping for better weather tomorrow.

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Driving Miss Daisy – 20 May 2017

Well, it should have been Scamp we were driving, but Driving Miss Scamp didn’t have the same ring. Then to be perjink about it, we’d have to say Driving Mrs Scamp and by that time the title doesn’t scan and we lose the whole joy of it. Soooo, Driving Miss Daisy it is. By the way, isn’t perjink a lovely word? It means neat or fastidious.

We drove to Stirling today to get a new jacket for Scamp. She had a 20% discount voucher burning a hole in her pocket, or her purse to be more perjink. Enough? Yes, enough.
We were driving just ahead of the bad weather, you could see it in the rear view mirror. As we walked in to Stirling town centre, the rain came on, but we managed to shelter in M&S. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Scamp’s jacket in the right size. I suggested we should go to Glasgow because there are two big M&S shops there.

As we were driving down the M80 the rain got heavier and heavier and then CITRAC lit up with a warning of congestion just a mile or so before the M8/M80 junction and from experience, this means that the motorway will choke up and driving in that is no fun at all. I’m guessing that those 22 men from Wednesday were having another kick about. Time for a change of plans. Glasgow Fort has a big M&S store and we had time to change lanes to get there and avoid the congestion on the M80. That is what we did and also as a bonus, we drove out of the torrential rain.

At the Fort, Scamp got her jacket in the colour and size she wanted. Sorted. Lunch was in Wagamama across the road. While we were there, the next rain shower descended on us and it was nice to be sitting looking out at folk getting wet. After lunch we went our separate ways for a while. Me to Waterstones and Scamp window shopping. We met up at Hobbycraft as we had planned. I’ve an idea to make a fold up stand for my Linx 10 tablet. It makes it so much easier to type into with the Bluetooth keyboard, so I got a piece of 3mm plywood to make it. Fairly strong and light, plywood should be ideal. Today’s PoD came from The Fort and is one of a group of bronze deer statues around the site.

Back home, I managed to convince Adobe to allow me to download Lightroom 6 for half price because I had a serial number for my original LR 1. It’s not an amazing upgrade from V5, but at least I can get the Teazer’s RAW files processed more easily. Yes, the Teazer is a keeper. It produced today’s PoD.

Tomorrow? Maybe going for plants for the raised bed to keep the peas company and also the beetroot which just appeared today. Maybe dancing too in Paisley. We’ll see.

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Happy Friday Eve – 30 March 2017

Sitting in the waiting at the plastic surgery unit of GRI just after 9.30am waiting for Scamp to have her stitches removed after her last op, I earwigged in on a conversation between a nurse/clerical assistant, (I don’t know which) and a clerical assistant.  Always find it best not to raise your head when you’re earwigging!  Anyway, the conversation went something like this:

’Good Morning and happy Thursday!’

’Happy Friday Eve, you mean.’

’Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.’

’I said “Happy Friday Eve”.’

’Oh, yes, Friday Eve.  I hoped I’d got it wrong and you’d said Friday.’ <resigned> ’Never mind.’

I’d never though of it as Friday Eve before.  Puts a whole different slant on Thursday.

Scamp wasn’t too long because, as it turned out, she’d had dissolving stitches, so didn’t need them cut out, just washed regularly and massaged liberally with moisturiser.  Since we were out and about early, we went for a run, as planned, to Braehead with the added excitement of taking in a trip to IKEA!  Oh, lucky me.

On arrival, we had coffee in Costa.  Now, I’m not getting into that big Costa v Nero thing again, but Nero sell coffee and Costa don’t.  Fin.  I had an Americano which was supposed to be extra strong.  If this was the extra strong, I’d hate to see the normal variety.  However, it’s only coffee, not worth starting a fight about.  After drinking brown water, I agreed to a walk around this almost empty group of retail opportunities, or shops to you and me.  The only one marginally interesting was the Apple shop where all the shiny new mega buck technology did grab my attention.  One scary machine, labelled a Mac Book, had a cable plugged in to what I thought was a power socket and sported one other socket which turned out to be a headphone socket.

  • No USB ports.
  • No SD card slot.
  • No Lightning connector.
  • No DVD drive, of course.

I asked one of the Apple acolytes if I was correct in my assumption and she said I was.  “If you want to add a usb drive you need to buy a USB-C adapter.”  What about an SD card reader?  “Oh, you can get an adapter for that too.  The USB-C socket is what is used to power the machine and also to connect peripherals when they become available.”  It did come in pretty colours, though, but is it a computer?  I think not.  What would Steve Jobs say?  After watching the movie about his life, last week, I think he would have agreed totally with this ethic.  I don’t.  I think I’ll keep using my eight year old MBP until it stops working entirely.  Hopefully, by that time peripherals will have become available, or Apple will have dropped this ridiculous extravagance.

Thankfully, IKEA have actually listened to consumers and have now provided short-cuts through their massive warehouse and it no longer mandatory to follow the yellow brick road.  We ended up with the purchases we’d planned and a couple more besides.   One of which I’m resting my tootsies on as I write this.  We bought a new rug for the living room.  A cream coloured patterned rug which I am trying to avoid getting dirty.  It looks and feels very nice.

When we got home and had lunch, I went out looking for inspiration and a plant pot big enough to hold Scamp’s azalea.  I found one and also a pretty wee pot of anemones that brighten up  the garden a bit.  My final purchase was a plant pot tray, like a big saucer which is sitting on the upturned cracked pot that used to house the azalea.  With an old clay flowerpot on top it makes a fine water container / birdbath for the garden.  We’ve been talking about getting one since we got back from Trinidad.  I doubt if we’ll attract Blue-Gray Tanagers or Kiskadees, but it might give the Starlings and the Robins a place to drink and have the occasional bath.

No plans for tomorrow.  Maybe lunch somewhere.

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Programming for Nerds – 21 February 2017

Nothing to do with Elton John.  Keyboard Maestro is a very powerful programming tool for the Mac.  I’ve been struggling with it on and off for over a year now and have to tell you that with great power comes great complexity.  I’ve programmed interesting stuff in Basic and Assembly Language along with simple stuff in C and in Pascal, and even used Visual Basic to write macros in Excel, but the programming syntax in Keyboard Maestro is back to the stone age.  It makes assembly language look slick by comparison.  All I wanted to do was add two numbers together.  It shouldn’t be difficult, should it?  It was.  Mainly because of an almost total lack of tutorials using variables with this behemoth of an app.  I eventually found a wiki for it and all became (almost) clear.  I don’t think I’ll be coding very much in Keyboard Maestro, but my macro now works and I’m happy about that.  Actually I’ve been using it in the background while I type this blog.  I’ve got it set up to alter a few of my typos and also, if I type * KM without the space, it changes it to Keyboard Maestro –  See?  It did it there and you never even noticed.  I know, lots of other apps do the same thing, but this is an app for nerds!  I’m not afraid to say it: I AM A NERD!!

Scamp went to visit her Auntie, well, her dad’s cousin [that’s close enough to be an Auntie (or Uncle, depending on the version) in Larky].  Anyway, she was going for coffee with Isobel this morning and I was looking for something to do, so I copied yesterday’s sketch onto watercolour paper and made it into a painting.  I was quite pleased with the result.  I know it’s a bit gloomy, but the real thing is gloomy too.  The house sits back among trees and there can’t be a lot of light getting in those windows.

When Scamp came home and after we had lunch we went searching for food in Waitrose which is where I found the group of Neds you see above.  Who would have thought that Neds would be allowed in Waitrose.  Either they’ve cleaned up their act or that supermarket is allowing its standard to slip.

It was such a dull day, we just drove home afterwards with our spoils.  Lamb chops with potatoes and mushrooms for me.  Salmon and potatoes for Scamp.  Still on our self enforced diet, we didn’t even have a pudding!  We did have a crayfish salad to start with though, but you can’t consider that, because it was healthy!

Played a game of my new addiction Upwords tonight, but I don’t think Scamp was impressed with this Scrabble look alike.  I think it might be going in the next but one charity bag.

Nothing planned as yet for tomorrow because the weather may be taking a turn for the worse.

Oh, yes.  If you’re in the need of someone to add two numbers together, I’m your man.  Just give me a couple of hours to write the code and debug it and I should have it done!

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AirTable v Bento – 16 January 2017

Another aimless day mostly spent under grey skies with the occasional shower of rain falling to give a bit of variety.

I spent most of the morning working with and learning to use AirTable, a multi-platform database that Hazy alerted me to.  Up until recently I’d used Bento,  the delightfully simple database for IOS and OSX.  I don’t use it much on the Mac, but it’s always there on my phone, especially the books database.  If I’m browsing in Waterstones and see a new book I like the look of, I type its name into my Bento Books Database, along with the author.  Then, when I have the time, I look it up on Amazon to see a price I’m willing to pay.  More recently, I have started looking in my local library e-book list to see if there is anything there.  Unfortunately, NLC library don’t have a great deal of e-books in THEIR database yet, but it’s always worth a look.  Once I’ve borrowed or bought a book, I tick it off as ‘Checked Out’ then later when I’ve read it or junked it I mark it either ‘Keep’ or ‘Drop’.  All done on Bento.  Unfortunately, Bento was itself ‘Dropped’ by Filemaker for reasons best known to themselves in 2013 (ish) and users were encouraged to replace it with Filemaker Go which is free, but really requires Filemaker Pro which costs around £170.  A hefty price to pay for a book database.  Enter AirTable which seems to fit the bill of price (free for non-commercial) and power.  I had a bit of a problem getting my Bento database into it, but with some HazyHelp, it worked a treat.  The main problem was that Bento on the phone wouldn’t sync with Bento on the Mac.  I gave up looking for a solution and in the end, just typed in the details I was missing.  Not comes the big test, when I take it out in the wild tomorrow to see if it cuts the mustard!

Went for a walk down the Luggie Water in the later afternoon, while Gems were invading the house, but saw very little apart from the ‘Ripples’ shot.  Drove up to Hulks Road, a wild bit of country road on the outskirts of Cumbersheugh, and got some lovely light on the landscape after such a dull day.  That’s where the rest of the shots came from.

Salsa tonight was a disaster.  I couldn’t remember the move we did last week, despite having watched our record of it before we went out.  Worse still, we did Chi-wa-wa (sic) which I know and like, and I couldn’t get that either.  I must have been one of the few leaders who actually knew the move, but was the only one who couldn’t get it right.  Embarrassing?  Just a little.  Lots of folk there tonight who hadn’t been to class for ages.  Good to see.  Scamp and I went for a coffee and a soft drink with Catherine and Linda after class to catch up with everybody’s news.

Tomorrow we may go to Perth for coffee and the run.  Weather looks as if it will cooperate.

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It Rained – 9 January 2017

All day it rained. Sometimes fine, not quite drizzle.  Sometimes heavy, chucking it down in buckets rain.  Sometime it rained through sunshine.  Sometimes it it dropped, no, chucked, hail down from on high.  It rained as only Scotland can.

In the morning I attempted to repair the damage I’d unwittingly done to Mac Mail last night.  By the end of last night after an hour and a half’s work I’d managed to get my main email address working.  I gave up and went to bed.  By the end of today’s morning shift I’d all the accounts working and the email data recovered from all of them.  Thank heavens for that.  I now know that you cannot boot from a secondary disk, no matter what the cloning program says.

After lunch I did a bit of sewing, fixing the pockets on another pair of jeans.  That’s two down one more to go.  Then it’s on to the bow tie.  That may need a bit more practise.  At that point, I began to feel the effects of last night’s lack of sleep and went for a quick snooze.  A quick snooze that lasted for about two and a half hours.

Salsa tonight was a physical and mental challenge.  Who knew dancing could be so stressful.

Let’s hope that tomorrow is drier than today.

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Christmas Eve – 24 December 2016

For once we stuck to our plan and went in to Glasgow on a freezing cold bus.  Storm Barbara was still lingering around and making its effects felt as the double decker bus wandered across the road, buffeted by her gusts.

In Glasgow, after wandering through John Lewis we headed down Bucky Street then took a left turn to get a pizza in Paesano.  Our pizzas were a bit more rustic than yesterday’s lunch, but equally enjoyable in their own way.  The food was on the table less than 10 minutes after we sat down and it was as good as any pizza I’ve ever tasted and a lot better than many.  Maybe not quite as good as those from Napoli, but that’s only a maybe.

From Paesano we went down to Argyle Street for a coffee in Cafe Nero, then along to St Enoch’s, but the German market was closed.  I’m guessing that it was closed to allow the Polish folk to get home, because we all know there are few Germans in the German markets, as they are all run by Poles.  Hope ‘Pole’ isn’t a derogatory term, because I can’t think of a ‘proper’ name.  Hope it’s not as bad as ‘Scotch’.  I’m not Scotch, I’m Scottish.

With no market to investigate, we headed back up Bucky Street.  I finally got a mini display port to VGA adapter in the accursed Apple shop to try connecting my Mac Book Pro to my old ten year old monitor.  The result wasn’t exactly high fidelity, but it did work and allowed me to test out the possibility of using a desk setup.  Better to try it out for £30 than just dive in to an iMac costing £1400. From the Apple store we walked up through Buchanan Galleries to get the bus home.  A warm bus for a change and it looks like Barbara has kissed us goodbye becaus it was a much less fraught journey home.

Finally got the last copies of my calendar printed earlier tonight, so in the next couple of days they will be punched and clipped together.  After that they can be sent out.

Tomorrow?  Well, I think tomorrow is Christmas Day, so it might snow.  With temperatures in double figures that could be difficult, but we live in hope.

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Printer Problem Solved by Old Tech – 20 December 2016

The old tech in question isn’t me.  I’m not a Tech.  It was, in fact, CUPS which has been around since OSX 10.2 (c2000).  It’s a fairly technical printing system that involves a Scheduler, a Filter System and a Backend, and of course I don’t understand any of it, I just quoted that guff from Wikipedia, but it sounds clever.  The main thing is, that once you link it up with some (legally) free printer drivers from Gutenprint it works!  And, that’s what Macs should do.  They just work.  Or at least they used to before they got all high and mighty and started going full tilt into Technology Push.  But no, I won’t get into a rant.  Someone saw the need and designed a solution to a problem.  That’s a good thing.  Apple, are you listening?

The day started cold and frosty and we didn’t want to go out and get our tootsies all froze, so we stayed in with the heating on.  By lunchtime we were brave enough to go for a swim.  The water in the pool was probably too warm, but it was good and warm and there weren’t too many folk in the pool, so it was an excellent decision to go for a swim.  Sauna has been fixed – boy, has  the sauna been fixed.  It’s almost too hot now and the steam room is the same.  Just the job on a cold day.

When we were leaving the leisure centre I spotted the wee bear sitting all forlorn on the grass by the path and decided he would be my PoD.  The best camera in  the world is the one in your pocket.  In this case the camera also doubles as a phone and a personal computer, but today its strength was in its photo taking abilities.  It’s an Apple phone, but I’m not getting dragged into that rant again.

Tomorrow is going to be windy and cold and Scamp is heading in to meet her Nancy in Glasgow for a gossip and I may go for a wander round town now that I don’t need a new printer!