12 Jun 2013 13:57 by Rick
There are a lot of web articles saying that you can’t block numbers on an iPhone without Jail-breaking it. There are apps around that say that they can do it but they don’t work because Apple doesn’t allow apps to access the phone part of the device. However there is a way which is not too difficult to achieve.
What you need to do is create a contacts entry called for example “Blocked”. Assign to this all the numbers that you require to block. Now assign a unique ring tone to that contact (the “Old Car Horn” is a good one) and you will know immediately when an unwanted call comes in. To go one stage further, without too much difficulty you could create a silent ring tone and use that. Then you will never know when the annoying caller rings you. If you later discover that it wasn’t a caller that you wanted to block then remove it from the contacts list.
14 May 2013 09:31 by Rick
This fix relates specifically to the Mac desktop version of BBC iPlayer running on Mountain Lion (Mac OS X 10.8). It may work for other versions but I don’t know.
I will post the actual error message next time that it occurs but it relates to when iPlayer displays the station intro but then says something to the effect of “unable to play downloaded program”—usually one that has been waiting a week or two. It then immediately deletes the item from the repository.
The fix is as follows.
- Quit BBC iPlayer.
- Recover the program(s) you have just lost from backup—preferably Time Machine as that is more likely to be up to date. The location of the programs is ~/Movies/BBC iPlayer/repository and it is the items that start “b01″ that you want.
- Go to ~/Library/Application Support/Adobe/AIR and move the directory “ELS” to trash. If you can’t see ~/Library then see this article.
- Now Restart BBC iPlayer and the program should work.
One oddity is that all the expiry dates will not be well into the future but don’t believe it: they will expire just as before so watch them soon.
29 Nov 2012 19:03 by Rick
Since I wrote the original article on alcohol tax and prices nearly two years ago things have moved on a bit. The big idea now is that the minimum over the counter price, after tax and everything, should be 45p per unit of alcohol. To save you reading the original article again, a unit is calculated as 1% in 1 litre of liquid. So using these figures this is the revised table.
3.5% beer—pint—Minimum over the counter price 90p
Flandres 2.6% gnats—250ml bottle—Minimum price 29p
Special Brew 9% fighting juice—500ml can ==> Minimum price £2.03p
A nice 14.5% Rioja—75cl bottle—Minimum price £4.89
Budget 30% vodka—70cl bottle—Minimum price £9.45
Bacardi 151 death wish—litre—Minimum price £33.98
I haven’t had a chance to check current supermarket prices yet, but it will make a significant difference wiping out cheap wine. I will update later.
2 Sep 2012 21:42 by Rick
To get Windows into Safe Mode for some housekeeping functions the (reasonably) well known method is to hit F8 during the boot sequence to obtain the start-up menu. When you are running Windows under VMware Fusion on a Mac then this is not as easy as it sounds. Different Macs do special things with the function keys across the top of the keyboard—it is something that is not standard across different models. Sometimes F8 does brightness and other things. On my Mac Pro with wired keyboard F8 is marked as Play/Pause and most times kicks iTunes onto life. It does this whether the keyboard control is assigned to VMware or not. The various help guilds you get by searching the internet say to un-tick the “Enable Mac OS Host Keyboard Shortcuts” in the preferences but that doesn’t seem to be enough. The only way I could get anything to work was to go to Key Mappings and assign an unused “F” key to be F8 (fortunately the keyboard has 19 of them to chose from—I used F16).
7 Jul 2012 13:19 by Rick
As promised I have continued my survey of the businesses on Gloucester Road which I started last June.
Over the course of the year 55 of the 421 commercial properties have undergone significant changes, either by the businesses closing, opening or moving. I think this is a very high turnover, though I have nothing to compare it against.
An improvement has been a reduction in the number of empty shops down from 38 to 30 over the year. That is partly due to the demolition of the unsightly block between 148 and 156 – new apartments are being built there which is a loss of trading but will be a big improvement to the appearance. The empty block by the Baptist Church is still there but looking much tidier and other renovation work is underway so the future looks good.
The mix of types of business is largely unchanged with still over half being Retail (A1). The proportions of types of trade has remained much the same, just moving about a bit. Restaurants & Cafés are up a bit from 45 to 50 but a lot of the increase has been at the upper end of the road where they were not so concentrated already. As far as I can tell (as the applications are not as visible as for planing) the numbers and types of alcohol licences have remained the same. The numbers of branches of National chain stores is higher but that may be partly accounted for by my recognising more of them. This year I have also marked shops from local and regional chains where I have been able to identify them.
Again I have attached a PDF of the full survey and I have highlighted all the significant changes from last year.
There is now an informal local history group under the leadership of Chris Wallace who has created a web site devoted to the history of Gloucester Road. I have contributed my data and in June, when the weather was better, I completed a photographic survey of every commercial building which I still need to edit and submit.
24 Apr 2012 09:40 by Rick
Do you like to keep a few shortcuts on your desk top? Those things that you need often or might need quickly, or those in obscure places that are hard to remember. I do. I don’t like a cluttered desktop but there are some things that are easier there. I have links to stuff on networked drives (that maybe require a mount or VPN before they are visible), links to utility programs like KeePass and PuTTY and some scripts that do routine things.
Microsoft in its wisdom (Windows 7) has decided to clean these up for us on a regular basis and if they are broken or not recently used then “tidy them up” for us—i.e. delete them. It wouldn’t be so bad but there are bugs in it, so it often deletes stuff that is frequently used and are not broken by any definition. This is not directly configurable, you have to turn off the whole of the maintenance daemon but it is not a great loss. Open the Control Panel and go to Troubleshooting (or System and Security—Find and Fix Problems on some systems). Now select the Change Settings in the left margin and switch it off. Done.
You can run it manually occasionally for the other benefits—same panel at the bottom is Run Maintenance Tasks. On the panel that pops up first click Advanced at the bottom and un-select Apply Repairs Automatically. The other things it does is check logs that may be wasting disk space, that the system time is set correctly and looks for disk errors. The last is the only really useful one.
Addendum: I notice that it also affects entries in Programs\Startup as well!
2 Apr 2012 17:35 by Rick
One advantage of traveling by bus is that I get to read the paper in the morning.
The disadvantage is that it is the Metro.
So the double page article this morning looked like it would be their usual fare—titilating comments about the invention of Otto Titsling with statistical detail on sizes and suitable pictures etc. But I was wrong. Apart from some of that stuff from the subeditors in the form of big circular bullet points, the remainder of the article was remarkably sensible. It seems that as a nation we are good at recycling quality outer clothing via charity shops but think that they don’t want underwear. In the case of the ladies brassier, they do. It is a valuable and prized commodity on the third world second hand market and Oxfam are trying very hard to aid women in Africa by making a special effort to supply some of the demand.
So, ladies:— sort through your drawers and pass any serviceable but surplus over the shoulder boulder holders to your nearest Oxfam shop where they will be gratefully received.
31 Mar 2012 23:33 by Rick
Breaking news 28 August, 1845. I was reading Volume 1, Issue 1 of Scientific American today and this article was at the head of page 2.
The text reads…
This mammoth of the ocean, which has recently arrived from Liverpool, has created much excitement here as well as in Europe; being in fact the greatest maratime curiosity ever seen in our harbour. She was built by the Great Western Steam-Ship Company, at Bristol, England. Her keel was laid in July 1839, and she was launched in July, 1844, with her engines and machinery on board. She is composed entirely of iron, which renders her perfectly safe against accidents by fire, and even an explosion of her steam-boilers could not sink her, as she is divided into five different compartments, each being thoroughly water-tight, so that in case of accident even one perfect division would float the vessel and cargo. The length of the keel is 290 feet; total length 322 feet; beams 51 feet; depth 32 feet 6 inches. She has four decks, the upper one being flush and is 308 feet long; the second deck consists of two promenade saloons, one of which is 110 feet long by 22 wide. The third deck consists of dining saloons, the first of which is 96 by 30 feet. The saloons are 8 feet 3 inches high and surrounded with berths of which there are sufficient to accommodate 252 persons. Her burden is 3,600 tons, and her engines are capable of working 1,000 horse powers. She has four engines united, which with the boilers, weigh 540 tons. The main shaft is 28 inches in diameter in the centre, and 24 inches in the bearings, and weighs nearly 16 tons. The power of the engines is applied to the single submerged propeller, on the screw principle, and 15 feet 6 inches in diameter. The engines and boilers occupy a space of 80 feet in the middle portion of the vessel; the boilers are heated by 24 fires, and will contain 2,00 tons of water. She has six masts, four of which are hinged for lowering when head winds set in; the masts are made of iron having iron wire rigging, so that very little surface is presented to the resistance of the atmosphere; the quantity of canvas carried, is about 4,900 square yards. Upwards of 1,500 tons of iron have been used in her construction; her draught of water is about 16 feet, and the displacement of water equal to 3,200 tons.
The great Britain was visited while at Liverpool by 33,000 persons, and probably by an equal number at London. During the few days since her arrival at New York, she has been visited by about 12,000 people, who have paid 25 cents for the gratification. If there is anything objectionable in the construction or machinery of this noble ship, it is the mode of propelling her by the screw propeller; and we should not be surprised if it should be, ere long, superceded by paddle wheels at the sides; as there can be little doubt that such an improvement would increase her speed to 18 miles per hour, and render her the swiftest ship on the ocean.
A modern photograph of her, restored, can be found here.
9 Mar 2012 12:58 by Rick
I expect everyone gets these occasionally, but the situation is worse if you are already a timeshare owner as we are. The calls we get are from people like Bonus Week Breaks and The Gift Company who claim to know you and also claim that they are either part of or affiliated to RCI. RCI are the exchange organisation we belong to, another one is Interval International. (don’t the web sites look similar—the phone number is the same as well! Another one I have found is The Ultimate Holiday Package.)
I complained to RCI about this (knowing at the back of my mind that it was all bogus) and got this reply (extract).
We would advise you to always ask the caller for your RCI membership
number when receiving any calls regarding your timeshare. We are aware
some of these companies are referring to themselves as RCI. If they can
not provide you with the information you request i.e. membership number,
deposited weeks in your account, etc, we would advise you to terminate
the call. We have no control over these calls but we are gathering
information so that we can pursue these companies and put an end to any
Please be advised that RCI uphold the Data Protection Act and we do not
pass member information to 3rd party companies. We are at a loss as to
how these companies have retrieved your personal details.
The answer to the last question is that they got the information from some of the resorts who are less fussy about their clients privacy.
We are, in general very satisfied with our timeshare experience but the nuisance of these calls has tempted me to get our phone number changed.
MindTimeshare has an article about these companies and other Timeshare frauds.
25 Feb 2012 10:01 by Rick
Is your Apple Magic Mouse behaving strangely? Mine was juddery sideways and wouldn’t move vertically at all, though the scroll was ok. I tried switching it off, back on and reconnecting but that made no difference. The fix was rather surprising. Pick it up and gently but firmly thump in back down onto the desk. Considering that the only mechanical part is the click button this is a bit odd. We call it in the trade “The drop test” and is often works because it can reseat or jiggle connectors and socketed chips but I can’t see that that applies here. Anyway, try it and see.