Wednesday, 9 October 2013

That’s enough, for now

When I started blogging, five years ago, it was from two motives.  Firstly, I’d recently lost my wife, and although the support from family and friends couldn’t have been stronger, I felt a need to reach out in new directions.  Secondly, I saw it – blogging – as an opportunity to exercise what I know to be one of my skills, writing.
Both of these aims have been more than achieved.  Through blogging, I’ve met many delightful people with whom I would never otherwise have had contact.  I’ve even met several of them face to face.  And, modesty aside, I know that I’ve been able to write, occasionally, some pretty good stuff – which would otherwise have been confined to the fading pages of a notebook to be read only by me.
So it’s been a good experience.  But I’m moving forward in my life.  So I’m going to take a break from blogging.  My ambitions are moving elsewhere.  Writing will certainly figure, but not here.  So will music, which I’ve shamefully neglected for too long.
I’m not disappearing in any sense – continue to expect comments!  In fact, I might become a comment pest…
Oh, and me being me, I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A warning re some nasty malware

I've been away, in several dimensions, about some of which I'll update you later, but in the meantime I need to share the following with everybody.

Last Saturday, something calling itself  ‘Antivir*ouss Sec*urity Pro’ (I have deliberately garbled that name, you can guess the real words) appeared uninvited on my computer.  I have no idea how it got past my security filters – I suspect it somehow piggy-backed on a software update.  I’ll try and research this further.

Anyway, it immediately ran a ‘scan’, which reported 23 supposedly corrupt files which it couldn’t fix.  It then started to report apparent invasions, attacks etc. which it also couldn’t fix.  Finally, it effectively blocked my access to the internet, by advising me that the site I was trying to access was suspect and could damage my computer.  This included my home page, Wikipedia, and Google.  If I clicked the ‘continue anyway’ button, it got worse – I won’t scare you with the details.

At every step, I was told that I had to upgrade my protection, by giving them money and card details.) Naturally I declined to do this.  I tried to uninstall it, but it seemed to have craftily hidden itself away so as to make this impossible.

This thing is evil!

I called my software support service, who were aware of this Trojan.  I was advised that the only safe way to get rid of it is to reset the computer to ‘factory settings’.  You have to make sure you have a full external back-up of personal files before you do this, because you’ll have to restore them, along with everything else that didn’t come with the computer when you bought it.  (I started at 2.45 today and have just finished.)

This is obviously a seriously malicious bit of malware.  I don’t know how you can avoid it, but just thought I had to alert you to its existence.  If I find out any more about it, I’ll let you know – please do the same.

As an update, my brilliant brother has provided the following guide to how deal with it if you do get it:


Friday, 4 October 2013

They’re closing in on me!

Since I posted this over a year ago, the range of targeted adverts has narrowed drastically.  No more solar panels, female fashion accessories or baby buggies.  No, now they’re homing in on the fundamentals.  I am desperate for life insurance, private health insurance and payday loans.  And Amazin’ are even more convinced of my need for yet another copy of ‘The Essential Jerry Lee Lewis’.  (Can’t have too many of those, can you?*)
Isn’t it good when you see technology working as it should?
The spam is even more impressive – I now know that I need ophthalmic treatment (true), in Dallas Texas (less true), and that several effusive admirers of my blog would love to enhance certain aspects of my anatomy.**
But this morning brought a real delight.  Yesterday afternoon, I’d booked transport to Jersey, for Christmas with my relatives there, with a small, very customer-friendly airline.  They try so hard, you almost feel sorry for them, because in my inbox was an offer, as a new customer, of a discounted Christmas break, in Guernsey.

* I may just have given myself a theme there for tomorrow’s post.
** I’m not convinced.


Thursday, 3 October 2013

You can’t beat a good cliché!

Len Deighton once put into the mouth of one of his characters the thought that the cliché was a much-maligned means of instant communication.  (‘Billion Dollar Brain’, I think it was.)  But the character was, if I remember correctly, the baddie.
The trouble with clichés is that they almost always get drained of any meaning or relevance once you look behind them.  Let’s take the current favourite, here in British politics:

We are going to fix the roof while the sun shines!” 

This boils down to “We’re going to save some money, because another crippling economic crisis is going to happen and we need to be ready.”  There are a few things wrong here. 
First, and most obviously, fixing roofs in sunshine calls for a guaranteed spell of fine weather.  (As it happens, the roof of the house opposite me is being fixed, but it’s been raining for a couple of days, so they’ve stopped.  Luckily, they got the felt installed, otherwise water would presumably be dripping into the bedrooms by now.) 
Secondly, you need to make sure the walls can bear the weight of the new roof. 
And thirdly, using this cliché equates to admitting that ‘There Will Be Rain.’  In other words, we can’t control the economic weather, we can’t stop it raining when it chooses to.  This is such an abject confession of political failure that you have to wonder where they keep their brains.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!  It’ll come back to haunt them.  And bite them in the bum.  I don’t believe it!!

Okay, one more, which I haven’t heard recently (Ed: you will, Tim, you will):
You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
I can’t be bothered to deconstruct this one right now, just to say it boils down to “The end justifies the means.”  Hmm, heard that somewhere before.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Alien Invasion

It had been a slow morning, and I was starting to wonder how I’d fulfil my self-imposed daily blog quota.  I hadn’t even been out of the house, except down the paper shop (and there’s rarely any bloggable material in that trip).  I’d done a bit of housework, including ironing (ditto).  And though the newspaper and the radio contained several rantable idiocies as usual, my rant mojo seems to have gone a bit limp lately, and besides, I did one yesterday.

Just after lunch, I went outside to put the wheelie bin out.  When I came back, I noticed that the back door, and some of the surrounding brickwork,  was covered in ladybirds.  And I mean covered.  I didn’t do a precise headcount (carapace count?), I’m not quite that dedicated, but there must have been, ooh, sixty or seventy.
It was the first time I’d seen a ladybird all year, indeed I’d been wondering about this, especially compared to last year when they were around for days on end.  Just when you’re pondering whether the lack of a single ladybird can be worked up into an entertainingly informative blog post (Ed: prob not), seventy turn up at once, a coccinellidaeous flashmob.  I can use this, I thought, and went inside to get the camera.  I noticed that several had already made their way into the kitchen.
Just then the phone rang, as a result of which I had to do some business on the internet involving aeroplanes, so it was an hour before I could make my way out again, camera in hand.  Guess what, they’d all gone!  Well, there were about four left, to convince me I hadn’t imagined the whole thing.  Oh well, I thought, another blog idea gone carapace-up.  (Or down.  Or something.)
I remembered the ones who’d snuck into the kitchen.  Gone too.  I’m not particularly paranoid by nature; but I will confess that I went up to check the bedroom.


Tuesday, 1 October 2013

I’m a bit cross

 Now that you’ve opened this post, I can expand on that – I’m fucking fuming!  How much lower can that bunch of filth-brained scumbags lower themselves?  (Just in case you hadn’t guessed, I’m talking about the Daily Mail.)  How dare they slander a good man (read his biography) in that scurrilous way, purely in the hope that some of their lies and innuendoes will rub off on his son, twenty years after the father’s death?

Congratulations, Dacre, you have shown your true colours.  Cameron can wriggle and squirm all he likes, but this may just have lost him the election.  You have to wonder at the stupidity, don’t you?
The Mail claims, by some kind of weird osmotic process, to speak for something it sees as ‘Britain’.  If this is the case, then I have to say that I, too, hate ‘Britain’.