Sunday, 26 June 2016

Before I slope off to bed

I'd like everyone in the World to remember these things in such divisive times:

Politicians will lie
Inflation is inevitable
So is work, taxes and Death
History repeats itself
Except on BBC iPlayer when you may get only 30 days
The media are manipulative
The non-fiction section of the Library is not
Culture is a worldwide phenomenon
Tolerance is a conscious choice
Google is not the only search engine
Windows will still update at inappropriate times
Macs will give you a choice but hide the result
Jesus did not turn water to wine, that takes grapes as well
Rome did conquer most of Europe
We are here to learn
We may fail the final exam
Advice is a form of nostalgia
Opinion is the lowest form of human knowledge
People will still marry
Some will divorce
True Love will always endure
Hatred will drown in its own juice
The sun will not explode in your lifetime
Betelgeuse might
The rain does stop sometimes
The weather is a global event
Apophis might give us a firework display in 20 yrs
Etna does it at least once a month
If everyone is happy with you, you've made a lot of compromises
If you're happy with everyone, you've ignored all their faults
Judgement is always served warm
Retribution is served cold
True friends will stay with you
Families are fickle but still families
You will get old
You will not remember these words when you do
Goodnight and may your God (s) go with you x

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


Ugh..not another blog of Christmas woe I hear you mutter.

Tough, I need to get this all off my chest before the Christmas pudding explodes in a fiery finale.

It doesn’t help that I have 3 birthdays between 11th and 18th December, one of which is my own.  Additionally it’s the most wonderful (for that read manic) time of the business year for me, with 3 VAT quarter ends to deal with, one year end and enough PAT testing paperwork to re-sink the Titanic.

Officially the misgivings started when the tree was picked up 16th December and further as I sat surrounded the next day by baubles, pine needles and tatty tinsel.  A sudden flash thought occurred as my left L4-5 lumbosacral joint began to whine about all the extra strain:

“Bah, 2 weeks and I’ll be pulling this glitter off and dragging the mini-forest outside for firewood”.

It’s the time of year ladies when you’re other half throws all 360 day abandon of the year out the window and is reminiscent of a toddler rampaging through Tesco on a Saturday afternoon with handfuls of “we’ll have this”, “I’d like that” foot-stamping, plea-bargaining, wretched waste and wanton lust all blended with occasional bouts of Merry on High, Fah la la and Ding Dong.

Normally I have hoards to cater for on Christmas Day, all family mostly but sometimes a sprinkle of friends otherwise on their own.  The lounge becomes an extension of the dining room with a concoction of tables, chairs and dogs, breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I don’t mind this one bit, it is fun and takes all day to eat, un-wrap gifts, play games and clear up before collapsing into a chair with a bottle of Port.

This year my eldest daughter & fiancé are off to his family, the youngest is half working, half at the boyfriends family, my parents are hosting my sister and nieces so we were going to be home alone with the possibility of the in-laws turning up for lunch.  In fact I was squealing inside with glee at the thought of a quiet Christmas with just hubby, lying in bed forever playing hunt the toy soldiers.

As it is, there could be 4 of us at the table on the big day, but the fridge wants to know why it's holding enough for 40.  I have yet to tell it that by New Years Day we may just have gone through that many.

I want to get to Christmas Eve and be baking miniature madeleines in the morning, painting my nails by lunchtime and dancing a waltz with the one I love by candlelight at 11pm whilst the turkey cooks itself.

No chance.

Due to the fact some family members have already started the wind down and are at a loose end (so they believe you are too) I found myself at 10pm last night wrapping everything I had hoped to have under the tree a week ago, hunting for hidden gifts until I acknowledged they actually hadn't turned up yet, discovering broken ones and realising I had to make an early morning dash to exchange that before work and finally sitting down at 11pm before someone announces “I’m off to bed, don’t be too long…” ….eh???

I end up dreaming of running naked with my phone clamped around my head through British Homes Stores at 8.30am with armfuls of 5p bags covering modesty.

As for venturing onto the roads, I could have dedicated a whole TV show with some of the parking shenanigans witnessed in the last week.  Anyone who was caught up in the 6 hrs it took to exit Bluewater on Monday, 21 December - you had my deepest sympathy.

This baby supposedly born 2015 years ago in a stable has a lot to answer for.  As for those 3 wise men, do me a favour – it was their idea on the gift thing.  How did we get in this hilarious muddle? What did everyone do before this madness?   Well if you really want to know pull up a chair and the tipple of choice to watch this 45 minute documentary, it's eye-opening and covers the whole thing (but come back here for my jig at the end):

"In late December do not let your children and servants run too much abroad at night!"
Families, friends and Christmas are what it's all about even if it does bring out the worst and the best of us.  What do we owe to friends and families?  We owe them our time, love, patience and smiles for that day if nothing else.  Be kind to each other, even if at some point you do feel like burying that one person alive.  Let your heart sing to whatever makes you happy at this time of year.
So on my last day of work before I start getting my head into the freezer contents, at 5pm in the office I'll be raving along to this song, the lyrics say it all.  Enjoy and Merry Christmas (whatever...).
"Been doing this song a long time and the longer I do it the better it gets...I'm just getting started".

Friday, 11 December 2015


This is the story of a piece of Art.

On 13 September 2015 whilst I was soaking up rays by the pool of The Wyndham International Drive, Orlando, I received an IM from my friend Henna Khan in Mumbai founder of @UnivSimplified regarding a competition she was promoting for lunar and space exploration.   Henna remembered my rocket launch drawings and asked if I would like to enter.  I remember vaguely looking at The Lunar Initiatives Flash Art Competition website at the time but in bright sunshine on an iPhone the text and details were hard to see.

I didn't actually respond to Henna until the following day due to intermittent Wi-Fi, but said I would try to find some time on my return after 29 September.

In fact, by the pool I had already begun to think about the possibilities for composition.

So much goes on in my mind before starting a piece of Art, particularly in this case as I wasn't going to be drawing something I had seen or was in front of me, it would be more conceptual than actual.  It takes time and patience to let creative stuff flow and more often than not most of that happens as it evolves from thought to paper and conclusion.

After 3 weeks in the US, life is never easy when you help run a family business, there was huge amounts of catch up work to do and I didn't actually draw breath and start sitting at the drawing board until 10 October.

This was my tweet around the start:

As you can see there was a variety of post it notes on the board. This is how I started, building a theme, a storyline of the Art before pen even touched paper.  I decided straight away that art pens not graphite would be used.

Some questions I asked myself: Where are we going, what are we doing, how are we doing it, what are we missing? How do we change that?
The Post it Archive

For the next 3 weeks on my non-working days, I added content to the drawing based on my answers.  Rockets I could draw, have drawn and continue to draw. Lunar landscapes?  Never.  Time to start.  It transpired that my choices worked out better than imagined, a landscape caught on camera on my birthday in 1972 by the last human crew to land on the Moon became a focal point for celebrating.

I follow satellite passes quite a bit and one had caught my eye on several occasions, a real live experimental space habitat in orbit.  From the small icon on my iPhone tracking app I could gauge the shape, but had to research further for more detail.

Remembering the iconic photo of Buzz Aldrin taken by Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11 with Neil's reflection in the visor, I took that vision and extended it further with a different reflection, one that we are all familiar with.  The pale blue dot we call home..Earth.

Because of my love of retro, the drawing had to go back as well as forward in time, a current theme was also a requirement. I finished the artwork 2 days before the deadline for submission to the Art Challenge.  Curious as to how long it had exactly been since Apollo 17 had landed on the Moon, I looked this up and translated the years, months and days into hours, minutes and seconds that it had taken me to complete.  To reflect that, this was the next tweet:

Now and then in between the start and finish time, I had also given very subtle hints within most of my tweets as to the drawing content, it was a little fun which just added sparkle to the story and a few people began to pick up on it.  There were loads of tweet hints to be honest!
I detest photographing my art because of compression rates but this had to be done for submitting a JPEG of the artwork. Thankfully the next day was dry, sunny and windless. I took the drawing outside on an easel, pegged straight and snapped a few times. The result was uploaded later that day and locked into my Flickr account as private. I felt that as the competition had not quite ended, it would be unfair to others and myself to broadcast an entry before anyone else had submitted to the deadline, which as it happened ended up being extended from 30 October to 30 November!

During this time following my submission, I discovered part of my decision to include a space habitat into the Artwork was more than just the final interest in the anti-clockwise view I had envisaged. This experimental 'hab' in an updated form is to be launched aboard Space X's Dragon CRS-8 re-supply mission in early 2016 for testing and attachment to the International Space Station, something I shall follow.  The company that built this test habitat is at the forefront of habitable space structures.  On 8 December following months of bad weather in the UK, I finally had a clear sky that enabled me to capture Genesis I with my DSLR, crossing my sky at 17.47 GMT.

I had already decided exactly when to release the drawing for general viewing and pinned that tweet to the top of my timeline:

It followed days of complete madness on twitter over the Paris attacks. Sometimes the internet brings out the worst in people.

So today, being the 43rd anniversary of Apollo 17 landing on the moon brings me to the end of this Art story. It was quite a journey and a big turning point for me in terms of belief. Every time I start a major drawing there is a little fear of my own capabilities, it doesn't last long, fading within a few minutes. I don't think I shall ever be afraid of myself ever again.

The link to the Flickr submission for the competition is here. We were only given 1000 words to describe the work, hence this post on my blog to expand the story. I hope you enjoy seeing this as much as I enjoyed drawing it, every dot on the paper taught me further patience with myself, the world and humanity.

Of the Moon I speak
In regolith tone
Rising, falling
Through the ink of space
We've run this race
Planning, drawing
It's time we left home
To share what we seek


Friday, 27 November 2015


The Rest of the Day

After the sunrise walk with Dr Lucy and a 2nd breakfast (the full English Monty) I had a gap several hours before the afternoon lecture and discovered through chatting with other group members that there were two free entry workshops taking place at 11am.  So I headed along to the first one, an exhibition space run by Oliver Lang on mobile photography.  This included a detailed look at water microbes subjected to a laserbeam of light under a microscope that were then projected onto a wall, making viewing easier.  Also within the space was a projected light beam appearing to split the visible light spectrum and a display of light and colour with polarising filters entitled 'In/Visibility' by Vinita Khanna. In all the effects of this mobile exhibition space were quite astounding.  Please follow my numerous orange hyperlinks if you wish to find out more about each subject, but remember to come back here!

Water microbes laser light projection

In/Visibility by Vinita Khanna
  I met and chatted with a visitor here too
that had to be the most appropriately dressed guy
for not only the event but also the weather!

A photo posted by Antonio Cabrera (@antonio_cabreraseville) on
Oliver Lang has since put up a short instagram video of the mobile space.

A short walk along the corridor and I found the Ultraviolet Art workshop with Labern & Lloyd of The Drawing Shed.  Inside there was a range of very old-fashioned typewriters fitted with UV ribbon and a number of people were seated getting creative with the typewriters, black light torches and UV pens. Obviously I had to have a go at this!  My result was I'm afraid very sparkly: 
Twinkle's contribution to the UV Art workshop

To one side of the typewriter area was a large blackboard covered with a variety of drawings and equations fronted by two men talking animatedly to those seated informally on leather cubes and bean bags.   What a great hangout!

This was a very cool area where Q&A and general discussions on light, dark matter, dark energy and the cosmos was taking place to a captive audience. I sat here whilst Toby Shannon from The Institute of Physics relayed his knowledge on light, debated why blue LEDs should win the Nobel Prize as we all got very heavy duty with the cosmology questions for the scientists and they in turn gave us answers on the concept of 'nothingness'.

It was in this room that I first noticed a subtle, sometimes sub-conscious thing happening when the organisers and speakers were talking.

One of many wall messages viewable
with a Black Light torch
Labern & Lloyd artwork display
This thing was very visual in it's subtlety and in fact Toby Shannon actually described it in the same manner that I have always imagined it to be, he stated:

Dark matter could be viewed as if it were a piece of foam, with all the bubbles holding the galaxies, stars etc and the foam itself being the tendrils of dark matter connecting everything around it.

Mind map! Shocking to discover you're on the same wavelength as someone with much more education behind them.

Although not part of the exhibition, I am including below a black and white picture of a piece of foam I have at home, the type used to transport say a hard drive in the mail (two pieces fitting together forming a rectangle).  For a sense of perspective, this object measures 1.375 x 5.5 x 12.375 inches.  I'll ask you to come back to this foam picture later on.

Piece of foam on my kitchen worktop
After the engaging discussions with the Institute of Physics scientists, I headed outside to grab some lunch and air near the Christmas market in front of the Tate and here sampled some hot non-alcoholic Gluhwein, which was just as tasty as the alcoholic version.   The sun was out dancing between racing clouds, lots of people were walking along the river, shopping in the market or huddling beside hot food counters.  Just before entering the Starr Auditorium for the afternoon event, I purchased a couple of books from the Tate shop as stocking fillers for Christmas.

Although the auditorium filled quickly, I was able to obtain a seat to the left with a clear view of the panel just 4 rows from the front.  Asif Khan opened the proceedings with a short quote from Tanizaki's 'In Praise of Shadows' essentially an essay written in the 1930s comparing light and darkness to contrast Western and Asian cultures.  A candle was lit on the panel table with the 'scent' of space, one of Katie Paterson's creations.

The panelists Catherine Heymans, Katie Paterson and Dr Marek Kukula each gave a brief resume of themselves and their field of work and study before taking questions from the audience.
As an artist Katie Paterson draws inspiration from light and visible matter around her, but is also intrigued by the visual expressions possible from the invisible such as dark matter and dark energy, because I also engage in art this was perfectly understood.  Dr Marek Kukula explained that we don't as yet fully understand dark matter but we create images of beauty to describe it, this may be the result of not yet having the words to describe it hence the artistic connection.

In 2012 Catherine Heymans and Van Waerbeke led an international team of astronomers that mapped the largest ever scale of dark matter to date.  The ongoing project is the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Lensing Survey (CFHTLenS). 

Catherine Heymans referred to this image of dark filaments in the Tate lecture,
this was when I mentally made my connection to the foam.
A computer simulation of dark matter filaments

This mental connection was further reinforced when Dr Marek Kukula talked about the image below

Webs of dark matter, from Dark Universe part of
the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium show
Back to that foam...I've always struggled with understanding and visualising Einstein's Theory of Relativity and comfortingly, I learn't this week on the 100th anniversary of that theory, he too struggled to describe it!

To date my own view has been based on that piece of foam with the 'whole piece' existing in the same moment in time across all sides.  A person standing in one part of the foam sees an event say in the middle, another person on the other side sees the same event but possibly the event is seen to them at a different point in time due to disproportionate distance.  But..the event happens in one moment (a unit of time) and is then gone.  This is how I understand the phrase 'everything happening in the now' and why 'time' cannot go backwards, only forwards for everyone, no matter where they are in the universe.  In just a few minutes, the quantity of dark matter particles that pass through a fingernail is in the billions.  Think of how much then there is between you and the computer keyboard, the computer and your window, your window and the outside world.  It's almost like a never ending reflection in a mirror but instead of getting smaller, the particle quantity is growing.

Asif Khan showed the audience a relatively new substance in a round sealed plastic container able to conduct heat, block light particles and not reflect them.  The substance is called Vantablack and although I had heard of it, I had never seen it up close, something he gave us the opportunity to do after the talks. After asking the question, I was intrigued to discover the shape of the particles were like hexagonal nanotubes, neatly fitting together to form a shape so tightly packed that light cannot get through. Applications for this substance could be camera equipment and telescopes to name a few.  When drawing with graphic pens I've often been frustrated by not being able to achieve a complete black block of colour, maybe one day pens will be made of this stuff too!

The Panelists
By the time all the questions had been answered in the audience and the lecture was over, I was beginning to feel the effects of rising at 4.00am with very little sleep beforehand. 

Needing coffee badly I said goodbye to the people I had met along the way this day and headed for my car back through Borough Market to St Thomas's Street. 

Just before going underground to the car I caught sight of the Moon just escaping the clutches of The Shard.

All round this was a very entertaining day out and I really hope that Tate Modern do more of this collaboration with science again.

I hope this has given a small taste of Light and Dark Matters to the reader who might be encouraged to research further.

I make no apologies here for incorrectly theorising anything, that is the freedom of personal thought.  Where possible I have tried to link, embed and credit those involved with this wonderful day.

With the greatest thanks to Tate Modern and The Institute of Physics.


The Sunrise Walk

On Saturday 21 November 2015 I spent the day at London’s Tate Modern for a series of walks, talks, events and workshops staged as part of the International Year of Light.  The fact I made this event at all was due to seeing a tweet fly past on my timeline detailing the event a week earlier, but I’ll come back to that.
On 17 November I bagged the last ticket to take the 7.15 am sunrise walk with Dr Lucy Green of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL’s Department of Space.  In addition I booked the afternoon Tate session entitled ‘Are we darkened by light?’ with Catherine Heymans, Katie Paterson and Dr Marek Kukula chaired by Asif Khan.
In order for me to arrive on time for the sunrise walk I had to rise at 4.00am travelling in from Essex. The journey along the M11 in the clear twilight was uneventful until I reached the brow of the hill by North Weald airfield, where as always I was struck by the dancing array of lights from the skyscrapers of London on the far horizon.  Within 12 miles I knew I would be bathed in megawatts of light.

Having booked a parking spot near London Bridge, it was just a short walk through Borough Market and along Jubilee Walk on the Southbank to reach Tate Modern.  Seems quite early I guess but in fact I ended up with just minutes to spare after a series of spanners in the works including being woken up 3 times during the night, one of which involved disabling our home fire alarm at 3am and another on arrival in London when the entrance to my parking area was blocked by a fire incident truck.  All designed to throw me off kilter I guess but these are the reasons for time management and planning!
It was a bitterly cold morning with a persistent north wind blowing and although I was wrapped up, I had failed to check the wool beanie was inside my trusty flying jacket, so my head was resigned to exposure.  At first I couldn’t manage to raise anyone at the front entrance to the Tate, so I tried the staff entrance and within a minute Dr Lucy appeared in that reception accompanied by two helpers armed with a bag of headphones and receivers.  We then trooped round to the Turbine Hall entrance to wait for the other walkers.
Our first stop along the walk from Southbank was approx. 50 yards along the Millennium Bridge where in the biting wind Dr Lucy had hoped we would see the sunrise; however the UK weather had other plans.  Here Dr Lucy discussed our knowledge of the Sun, it’s dynamic internal convection process, the magnetic field and particularly the ability to recycle turning hydrogen into helium at the core with heavier elements such as carbon, oxygen, neon and iron being formed by stellar nucleosynthesis.  The Earth’s relationship with our Sun being that most of us and it have at some time been formed from these elements when the solar system was born and will continue to do so for another 5-7 billion years, when the Sun recycles again, becomes a red giant followed by a planetary nebula and finally a white dwarf.

A timeline of the Sun’s life (Credit: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory)
The Evolution of the Sun is a fascinating subject for anyone wishing to explore further please use my orange hyperlinks in this blog, but remember to come back here!  
Our little group bravely moved on across Millennium Bridge to the framed view of St Paul’s Cathedral for the next stop where Dr Lucy discussed further the Sun’s magnetic field, it’s influence on Earth and the rest of the solar system and our first real understanding of that far-reaching process when space travel began in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  We were shown and able to hold a primitive early edition of a radiation detector used aboard aircraft and later developed for space travel.  Had we then not been interrupted by everything mother-nature could possibly throw at us including thick sideways blown blobs of snow, I might have had a nice picture of this object to include here.
We moved onwards towards the Bank of England, stopping just before under an arch by King Street.  Here we shook off the accumulated wet stuff and listened to Dr Lucy talk about the economic impacts of the Sun.  With the advent of electricity and technology in the 20th century the economic risk factors have increased.   When our nearest star decides to cough large quantities of matter and electromagnetic radiation out during the course of a CME or solar flare with the solar wind, it doesn’t just produce aurorae displays for our pleasure.  The subsequent shockwave of a CME or flare when it reaches the Earth causes our own magnetosphere to compress on the day side and stretch further out into space on the night side.  The magnetosphere works to protect us to some degree from solar storms, but there are other initially invisible reactions at work.
One such solar storm occurring on March 13, 1989 initially caused short wave radio interference with the arrival of x-rays and ultraviolet light ionizing the upper atmosphere, then aurorae recorded as far south as latitude 19° (Grand Cayman) followed by a total blackout for around 9 hours to the province of Quebec, Canada as a result of magnetic field changes giving rise to underground electrical currents that then interacted with the local igneous rock sending the current through power lines to ultra-sensitive transformers.  To avoid further damage to the transformers the grid was taken down.  The cost in damage to Hydro- Québec was circa C$10m with almost 10x that amount to end-users. Across the US within minutes of this solar storm there were over 200 power related network issues.  In space, satellites had electronic issues with some tumbling out of control for a while.  A further solar storm in August that year brought trading on the Toronto Stock market to a halt.  It is easy then to see the economic impact of a major solar storm.
On route to the next stop I discussed briefly with Dr Lucy the differences between now and 200 years ago when the world was not so reliant on the electricity grid for daily life and therefore the subject of solar storms and their impacts were not on the science discussion agenda.  A repeat of the famous Carrington Day event in 1859 would likely disrupt our modern technically built world to such a degree it could take a decade or more to recover from it.  This is why solar studies and monitoring of spaceweather events are so very important to prepare and minimise the risk to infrastructure on Earth.
We carried on walking through the unfailing cold wind towards Walbrook stopping briefly under an archway to listen to the sounds of the sun through our headsets.  I have heard this before but it’s always nice to reacquaint yourself with the unusual.  This video has a small clip at the end of the sounds.

Unfortunately our next stop was blocked at Walbrook Wharf river walk by a 58 minute estimated wait for the crane to finish unloading city waste onto a barge.  A detour was organised to take us across Southwark Bridge to The Globe on the Southbank, our final destination before returning to the Tate.  Here Dr Lucy spent a short while reciting a poem by Simon Barraclough inspired by the Sun and Shakespeare taken from his collection book Sunspots .  It was a very fitting end to our walk and her tweet is shown here on the left.

Detour of our group walking along Cousins Lane

I think we were all a little relieved to be back in the warm confines of the Tate Modern where we were led up to the 6th floor for a breakfast of tea, coffee, cake and fruit.  During the walk I had chatted with many others in the group including several artists and these informal chats continued over coffee.  As an amateur astronomer I take a great interest in our Sun and regularly observe sunspots and finer details of our nearest star using safe white light filters and a Hydrogen Alpha eyepiece.  I showed one of these images detailing a solar prominence to a lady artist who was interested and it is reproduced here.

Nice clear curling prominence feature on the Sun's West limb - 8 Oct 2015

My interest in the subject of light and dark extends further to the stars outside our solar system and I have been following one variable star in particular now for a year whilst it displayed increasing light curve variations in the form of a Nova, observing this through the iTelescope network and collecting data myself.  This week I have chosen to ‘adopt’ V5668 Sgr for a year via AAVSO.
I would like to pass a huge thank you to Dr Lucy Green for taking the time to travel into London so early, braving some pretty extreme weather conditions to talk us through one of the most fascinating objects in the Universe, an extremely enjoyable Saturday morning all round.  I’m always looking to learn from such events even with subjects I’m already aware of, there is always more to take on board.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Art of Trolling and other Social Media Nasties

Anyone who reads my Twitter feed, see's my Flickr and 500px pages and is my friend or family on Facebook knows that I love photography and that it goes hand in hand with my other love of astronomy.

Anyone who has ever tried to combine the two will also know that IT IS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS.  Hard work, hours at a time and energy are put into both and I share it with like minded people because they understand the process only too well.

So...when I've given permission for use of my photography to anyone, I've done so in the knowledge that those people are trusted with correct usage whether they have paid for the photo or not.

Earlier this year in February 2014 I had a run-in with two major daily UK newspapers that had used a photo which they swiped from another paper that already had my permission.  The result being they agreed to pay costs and damages.  This was settled amicably on both sides.

Last night I was given a heads up by a family member about a local paper that already had my permission to use the same photo (originally correctly credited) that had of yesterday been re-posted on their FB webpage. Unfortunately, the link to the FB page showed a distinctly pixelated image with no credit; once you clicked on the news item it did indeed take you to the local paper's website where the image was correctly displayed.

  1. It would have been nice for the local paper to just ask again for it to be used.
  2. I will always now question that integrity originally proferred to me by this paper.
  3. The resulting reply comments on the paper's FB page under my comment querying the issue are the product of ignorance from a mass audience that refuse to check their heads before opening their mouths because...well it's easy to do so when that person is not in front of you eh?
Now I'm guessing you're all thinking "Crap...whose been having a pop at Twinkle?!" and "Where's the link to this, I wanna dive in?!" have been warned...


Silly isn't it?

Now if this 'item' belonged to any one of them, they would be up in arms and all over it like a rash, but because the author made comment they feel disconnected in some way, so that's alright then we can trash and troll away to our hearts content right?  Wrong.

Facebook has it covered if you are not clappy happy:                                                             Standards

I'm guessing that these type of people don't have much experience in life, have never done any real hard graft, grown or created anything from scratch, never come close to death, stood 200 yards from a 1 ton bomb going off and never had to make their way home through that carnage, never cared for an animal or much less a human and never stood in wonder at nature or the planet we live on.

At the time of blogging this issue isn't really a problem since I'm not feeling harassed...however it could go completely pear-shaped, you just never know.  Interestingly the local paper's webmaster hasn't responded back since the reply last night.

I don't use FB particularly often or extensively for this very reason and I'm only connected to people I know, can trust and are also my family (and believe me, I get hacked off by family too at times!).

Social media is great for debate and comment and really should be used for such as if you had that person standing in front of you..e.g. would you really call that lady a c**t to her face?  Many of us think that is OK on a keyboard but you'd likely get a black eye in reality.

On Twitter I can block those who are downright stupid, arrogant and full of nastiness, it's a simply click and I actually prefer debate on this medium.  However, I generally love all of my followers and the people I follow, it's rare I have to block anyone.  In future I'll just be asking the FB webpage owners to remove any of my stuff or links to it if such a thing is abused.

If you're hoping to see Aurora (the Northern Lights) in the North or South of England tonight or tomorrow as predicted may happen due to the G3 solar storm, my advice is.....get checking the NOAA website, get off your butts, get outside, get away from street lighting, get your eyes accustomed to the dark (30 mins minimum) and get looking for yourselves.   In the words of Paul Newman:

"Stop feeding off of me!"

Friday, 11 April 2014

Today I have earned my wages tri-fold..

I always look forward to Fridays...don't you?  Why, because usually I can slow down the work pace a little.

No such luck today, needed a brain, a heart, courage and distinct yellow brick road instructions.

I have been trying to update one of our software programs, Sage Payroll 19.02.157 for best part of a week without success, each time I kept getting this at the end:

After which, the Sage program did not update to version 20.01.  If you're not familiar with RTI (Real Time Information) this will mean nothing to you suffice to say that due to collaboration on an unprecedented scale with HMRC, without the update I would be unable to a) post our company wages in the new tax year and b) file RTI submissions to HMRC, the latter whip out penalty letters faster than you can access their online services.

Then when I tried again to re-install the update I got a different message asking me where my installation was as it now couldn't locate it (nuts since I had the thing open!).

Now I'll have you know that .Net 4.0 WAS installed, I checked.  I also checked my Windows Updates....hmmm what's this then?  I'm pretty sure I have seen this message from time to time:

And this one..

Uh oh..haven't seen this one before...

In fact, the windows update service WAS running according to the administrator console.  In the middle of all this I have a guy from Sage emailing me back and forth telling me things I already know how to tweak and at the same time failing to properly read my email responses back to him.  Doh!

I must have restored the computer to a previous moment in time about 5 times as one tedious trial and error fix after another failed to work.  The best one was when I tried to uninstall Windows .Net 4 Framework and then re-install it to which I received the message 'cannot complete install : HRESULT 0x80003f3 error'.   Binary, if I say so myself Watson.

Something just wasn't right...

Then I found this beautiful thread which if you click and scroll down to Kumar12337 you'll see a nice simple set of instructions.


1 hr later after restoring computer back to 8 April and any other shenanigans, re-booting for the umpteenth time, and taking another restore point (just in case) I followed Kumar12337's instructions to the letter.

It worked...except...I ended up with 64 Critical Windows 7 updates that had quite clearly failed to ever update before, despite said machine saying it had.

In the meantime, the boss (hubby) arrives home; yes I know what you're all thinking and yes...he drives me round the bend too, all day and night.

Sparkleupalot:  "Er...would you mind going for a drive?  Take the ol' racing pigeons for a spin up the road for me?"

Twinklespinalot:  "If I must...."                                                           *rubs hands with glee* I don't have to watch a spinning blue circle for an hour updating Windows 7.

A quick white van run up to Steeple Bumpstead and back with birds in tow and lo and behold the 64 updates have finished. Another couple of re-boots and I was ready to try installing Sage Payroll V20.01 again.


And now....I'm going to polish off a glass or two of wine, my day is done.