Monday, 14 June 2010

Impressionable Minds

We expect our children's schools to teach them how to respect their fellow pupils, encourage their strengths and help them to overcome their weaknesses [or opportunities for improvement in modern P.C. speak]. Indeed as a parent myself I hope that I showed these traits myself when ours were young ( quite a long time ago).

So if this is the right thing to do and it is of course, how come the BBC shows a quiz program, The Weakest Link, in prime 'home from school' time that enables the belittling of others, causes personal embarrassment and uses verbal tactics that remind one of playground bullies. All in the name of entertainment.

The panelists know what they are in for before they sign up, but young impressionable minds watching the show may just soak up how someone in authority can make others suffer.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Supermarket Home Delivery - A step too far?

We're supermarket tarts, no not the lemon ones, we like to shop in different places now and again and are not particularly loyal to one company.

The weekly run to Tesco can become a bit, well - dull. Same old products in the same old place. Interleaved with a bit of excitement when they put in self service tills or move the aisles around a bit. So now and again we go wild, and go to Asda instead. Green is a bit more calming than Red and Blue anyway and I quite like a bit of calming every now and again.

We use online food shopping, delivered to our door for a few pounds and that can be a real time saver. Yesterday we had a delivery from Ocado at 10.30p.m because it's only £2.95 delivery charge at that time of night. As I unpacked the various coloured bags and read the label on the lamb chops which said "Specially prepared for Mrs Susan *****" I began to think......This doesn't feel quite right.

This is really as far removed from Man(kind) being hunter gatherers as you can possible get. Exotic foods from around the world, all available at the touch of a button and two for the price of one at the same time. No effort, no thought, just order on a whim. Our parents simply could not have imagined this utopian state of affairs during the dark far off war days of the 1940s when buying a banana was impossible, you joined the end of a food queue without knowing what you were going to get and a lamb chop was something you saw walking around in the field. Internet shopping would have seemed like the most far fetched Science Fiction in those days.

It's almost too good to be true. So how is it possible? The Supermarkets must be making a very good percentage on their cost prices. If the items are supposed to be so cheap with Roll Back, two for one and offers offers offers, how come our grocery bill is so large?

Sir Terry Leahy is retiring having massively increased Tesco's profits, I like to think that we have played our part in his success. It's a high performing British company and we do need more of those.

Candidly, Susan and I must be paying more than we need for the food we buy. Perhaps it is simply that we are buying more higher priced items than we should. With so much good local quality produce available, perhaps we ought to be widening our scope somewhat. We do buy local produce as much as possible for our B&B business, guests rightly expect it - but we are not so principled when it comes to ourselves.

The (U.K. Government) budget looms large, we've all been warned that things are about to change in the U.K. for generations to come. Belt tightening is bound to be the order of the day.

So, market stall vendors, low cost supermarkets that you actually have to go to - and those who sell vegetable seeds for the garden, hold on - hold on - your day is coming.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Some technology never dies - A lament for my AST computer

These days, when technology hardware only seems to last for a short time before it's out of date or becoming faulty, my AST Bravo LC P/100 computer stood out, quiet and proud.

It's sat on the office desk year after year chugging away in its own sweet time simply getting on with the job. Around it, other PCs have come, become unwell, caught nasty things, been fixed and finally been disposed of.

A new fangled laptop and LCD screen now adorn the office, concepts in their infancy or not even conceived when the AST was bought back in the steam driven pre internet, pre email days of 1995.

In its day, the AST was used for everything that a busy Guesthouse
required of it, letters, brochures, accounts etc etc. It's 8 megabytes of RAM ( that's 250 times smaller than a modern computer), later upgraded to a whopping 24MB - and diminutive hard drive coped perfectly with everything thrown at it. The P/100 I think meant Pentium 100.

How many computers are still running Windows 95? This AST is.

You couldn't burn CDs on it nor copy files via USB nor connect it to a modern network - because it hadn't got any such fancy things. This became a problem. When I finally decided that we really ought to be running on a higher spec computer, my database files were too large to copy onto floppy discs (remember those?).
Hours of trying to transfer files with a cross over cable connected to the modem port ( remember modems?) didn't work. Finally managed it using the Windows File Transfer Wizard and some old floppies dug out of our ancient business records in the loft.

So there we have it - suddenly, we didn't need the AST any more. It sits in the store room, still in perfect working order, awaiting me taking a lump hammer and cold chisel to its hard drive before off to the recycling centre.

The secret of why it just kept on working? It was very well made and I never connected it to the internet with all its viruses and massive security and program updates. If I had it would have had to go years ago.

So thank you Albert Wong, Safi Qureshey and Thomas Yuen (Credit wikipedia), you made me a great computer.

Goodbye old friend.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Double the number you first thought of

Planting bedding plants by the score.

Took all the seats out of both cars, drove to the garden centre and brimmed both vehicles with bedding plants. There's bound to be enough, isn't there?

Returned home, removed all plants, put seats back in.

Planted all the bedding, took the seats back out and set off in search of late opening garden centres. Ended up at B&Q. Plants packed in polystyrene - not very environmently friendly.

I wonder why the job of planting such simple little plants - takes such very great deal of time. It's a good job it's light until 10:00p.m. during the British summer.

Metal fatigue is plaguing the trowel, better buy a new one before it snaps.

I don't know much about gardens

-- but I know what I like.

Living in North East Wales, I like Bodnant and Ness, I wish my garden was like them and I wish we had the staff to maintain them too - We don't of course.

So our garden is a pale shadow but it keeps Susan and I happy.

The garden is not looking as it should. Time is not kind to gardens if they are not maintained. Extensive property maintenance and improvements have been the order of the day over the last few years - but now is the time to redress the balance.

The plans are drawn - let battle commence.