Posted by: Nick | Wednesday 5 November 2008

Windows 3.x

According to an article on the BBC, Microsoft still issued licences for Windows 3.x until last Saturday (01/11/08)! Admittedly these were on embedded systems, but WOW!

I last used 3.x last year when I made a virtual machine to run it on, but wrecked it when I altered a setting!

For a version of Windows I used from about 1994 to 2001 when Asda ‘upgraded’ to WalMart’s systems, I didn’t really like using it again.Whereas I still like messing around with Windows 98. I fact, I found an old P3 motherboard the other day and rebuilt it running W98. Works fine, as long as you can find the old software!

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Posted by: Nick | Thursday 30 October 2008

A Song of the Weather

January brings the snow
Makes your feet and fingers glow
February’s Ice and sleet
Freeze the toes right off your feet
Welcome March with wintry wind
Would thou wer’t not so unkind
April brings the sweet spring showers
On and on for hours and hours
Farmers fear unkindly May
Frost by night and hail by day
June just rains and never stops
Thirty days and spoils the crops
In July the sun is hot
Is it shining? No, it’s not
August cold, and dank, and wet
Brings more rain than any yet
Bleak September’s mist and mud
Is enough to chill the blood
Then October adds a gale
Wind and slush and rain and hail
Dark November brings the fog
Should not do it to a dog
Freezing wet December then:
Bloody January again!
(January brings the snow
Makes your feet and fingers glow).

Michael Flanders

With the weather going all over the place again, I was reminded of this Flanders & Swann song!

Posted by: Nick | Sunday 26 October 2008

The Nights Draw In

The clocks went back last night and although it’s only 16.30, it’s starting to go dark! Oh well not too long to the shortest day and then the days start to get longer again!

Posted by: Nick | Thursday 16 October 2008

North American Election

No not that one! There has been another election in North America, in a little place called Canada. You may have heard of it. It’s only the second largest country in the world! But the have just had a general election and it was decided yesterday.

However, what do we know about it? Not a lot compared to the forthcoming US one. There was a very small piece in my newspaper this morning and a couple of pages on the Beeb. But not a lot else.

As I’ve said before, there is too much coverage on the US elections, disproportionately so. I do wonder whether anyone else in the world will be interested when it comes to our next general election.

Oh yes, Canada’s Prime Minister is Stephen Harper who is a Conservative.

Posted by: Nick | Tuesday 14 October 2008

Credit Crunch Jokes

The BBC has a page of jokes on the credit crunch. You have to laugh don’t you?

Posted by: Nick | Monday 13 October 2008

I Now Own Some Banks!

Due to all these financial cock up, it appears that as a UK tax payer, I now own at least 4 banks! All this financial crisis is due to lots of dodgy deals from the banks, not just in the US but all across the world. And guess who ends up paying, not the bankers, but us the taxpayer!

For a funny, but accurate description see what John Bird and John Fortune have to say about it all –

and –

Very, funny, satirical and true!

Posted by: Nick | Saturday 27 September 2008

Training

Throughout the majority of my working life so far, whether it was at Asda or within the school where I now work, I have been involved in training. I’ve had to train people how to use checkouts, meat slicing machines, ovens, computers and the list goes on. And of course, I’ve been trained before I could train others. I’ve always enjoyed doing training as I’m learning something new. In fact, sometimes when there’s a timetable involved it gets more interesting. When Asda had to bring in the new Wal-Mart computer systems, I and some colleagues were trained in the systems over a two week period away from the store. When we came back to the store we had around three weeks to train all the staff, which I think was around 300 people. It was hard work, both the training we attended and the training we trained out, but it was fun and we did it successfully!

So with that background, why did I avoid doing my Scout Leader’s training for so long?

Well for one thing I think it was the way the training programme used to be. You would start at the beginning and work your way through right to the end. So the first thing you did, irrespective of whether you had walked in ‘off the street’ or been in Scouting for donkey’s years, was to be told about Scouting and its history and structure etc. I always remember that my Dad had to do the camping part of the training to get his Wood Badge, despite the fact that he’d been a Scout and run many successful camps in the past. So not wanting to be ‘bothered’ doing loads of training on things I ‘knew’, I avoided it. Quite how I kept my Warrant, I’ll never know.

Anyway, the Scout Association changed the training programme a couple of years ago to a modular one. This meant that provided you could prove that you’d done the work or got experience in that area, then you didn’t have to do the module’s training.

So after a bit of a kick up my backside from the District Chairman, I started to get myself sorted, attended a training surgery, got the majority signed off and booked myself onto the Group Scout Leader’s weekend training course. I did my ‘homework’ after the course and got signed off and was presented with my Wood Badge. I have to say I was most pleased once I got it!

So now I have to do at least 5 hours of Scout related training a year as part of my warrant review. Not a problem now!

Doing training whether it be first aid or how to do abseiling for example, is good for the Leader as it keeps them fresh and gives new ideas for their programmes and keeps the kids in their charge safe and sound.

So now I’m looking at doing an NVQ in IT to help my career and I’ve already done my Group Scout Leader’s course and my First Aider’s course this year, so I wonder what is next?

Posted by: Nick | Thursday 11 September 2008

11th September

A day of mixed emotions for me.

I remember what I was doing in 2001. I was on holiday from work for two weeks, messing round at home and I remember at around lunch time hearing on the radio that something was going on in New York and that there had been an accident where an aircraft had crashed into a building. As time went on, I put the TV on and remember seeing the second crash. This was no longer an accident. There were reports of other aircraft flying into the Pentagon and crashing. Then the towers fell down – this was very very serious. I kept watching the TV to see what was going on and it was very clear many people had been killed. Not a good day (bit of understatement).

Fast forward to 2004. It’s a Saturday and Carol and I got married! The funny thing is, I don’t remember as much about that day, even though it was a much happier and personal occasion to me. I think it’s because there was so much going on and we were the centre of attention (well Carol was, as the bride always is!). A great day (bit of understatement)!

People said to us that we shouldn’t get married or won’t it be odd getting married on that day, but we said that it’s a day the same as any other. Just one that an appalling event happened on. You could say the same about many dates – 4th August (WW1 started), 26th December (Indian Ocean Tsunami), 8th December (John Lennon killed) or 20th April (Adolf Hitler born).

We actually went to New York on our honeymoon and saw parts of the WTC at USS Intrepid and even a bit of one of the aircraft – very eerie.

100_0719

So as I remember with sadness those innocent people in America who died in the attacks, I also celebrate with joy our 4th wedding anniversary.

DSCN0557

Posted by: Nick | Wednesday 10 September 2008

We’re Still Here and Not Been Sucked Into a Black Hole!

The Large Hadron Collider has been started up this morning and we’re all still in one piece! However, they don’t start smashing the particles into each other until next month so we will have to wait and see.

Posted by: Nick | Sunday 24 August 2008

A New Sport for the Olympics?

With the British team doing so well at this year’s Olympics and the games in 2012 being held in London isn’t it time to introduce Mornington Crescent as an Olympic sport? 😉

mornington

Posted by: Nick | Monday 11 August 2008

The Happy Couple

We went to the wedding of old friends of ours on Saturday. I’ve known Dave since he was about 11 and he used to be one of my Scouts along with his two brothers. It’s quite odd to think that I knew them as kids and now one is married with his own children, one has his own family and had another daughter about three weeks ago and the other brother is now in the Army!

Also there were some of my old Scout friends from when we were all kids. We’re all now ‘grown up’ and ‘sensible adults’, all married or in long term relationships and with a fair few kids around, but we still keep in touch and see each other (not as often as we’d all like) and are just as daft as when we were 14 or 15!

Once when camping with Scouts, we, as Leaders were setting up a game when we asked what the teams were to be. One of the Scouts piped up and said it should be ‘us against the adults’. It took a moment or two for us Leaders to realise that the Scouts were talking about us!

I think the trick is to keep a young outlook on life and even though you are now sensible and responsible adults, being silly every now and again doesn’t hurt and keeps you young!

19 

The Happy Couple

Anyway, here’s to Dave and Beccie, and the hope they have many happy years together!

Posted by: Nick | Monday 11 August 2008

40 Years Ago Today….

The last main line passenger train to be hauled by a steam locomotive was run in the UK. Well not quite technically, as many others have run since, but it was the last one run by, organised by and with locomotives and stock owned by British Railways.

There was a re run yesterday, which included one of the original locos (Oliver Cromwell) on the same route.

Posted by: Nick | Friday 8 August 2008

Being Prepared – Or Not!

Some of our Scouts are camping next week at the International Friendship Camp that’s being held at Kibblestone. They are going with one of our local Troops, 36th St. Wulstans. They are hosting a group of Norwegian Scouts and it looks set to be a great week.

As some of our Scouts are going, we were asked if some tents could be borrowed. Not a problem! So on Tuesday, me, our assistant Scout Leader and St. Wulstan’s Group Scout Leader went to get the tents. They were got out and I suggested we check them, but it was decided that they would have been put away properly so there wouldn’t be any problem.

Last night I got a phone call from St Wulstan’s GSL who was Kibblestone saying that the main guy ropes were missing! As they are using traditional Patrol Tents you can put you can put them up without the main guys, but it’s always best to have them in case of bad weather (the only time I remember one of these coming down was when we caught the tail end of a hurricane in 1986!).

So out we went with the guys. It did make a pleasant evening out! However, it proves the point that you should always check the kit before going out and therefore you are Being Prepared!

I can’t say that I’ve never done anything similar before. Once, as a Scout, we went backpacking and when it came to put up the tent, we found there were no pegs! It was my job to check the tents and somehow I’d missed the fact that there were no pegs. Luckily we managed to put the tent by improvising with sticks and rocks. I must admit I wasn’t too popular for a while that day!

Posted by: Nick | Sunday 3 August 2008

Keeping Records

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to ensure that all our Group’s records and documentation is up to date and accurate. And as far as I can tell it now is! However, this has lead to at least two bookshelves full of files and ringbinders full of paper and quite a lot of space taken up on my hard drive! What all this does mean is that everything is now quite organised (I wouldn’t like to go so far as to say totally organised as I’m not quite that efficient!) and I can put my hands on the right document quite easily. Of course, with looking more into our history, the amount of documents and photos have grown quite a lot, but now we at least know our own past.

Bearing all that in mind, I’ve just started to transfer all the Scout’s details onto their new record cards. Earlier this year, the badge schemes were slightly altered and new record card were created accordingly. One good thing is that now the kid’s personal details are now on a separate card, which can follow them from Beavers to Cubs and onward.

The trouble is, we haven’t been too good at filling the current cards in smile_embaressed.
So this means that once all the info is copied and when we start back, I’m going to have to speak to all the Scouts individually and make sure all their details and their badge work is up to date. Hopefully this should mean that a few more badges are awarded and that we can ensure that the Scouts who are close to being awarded one will get what they have worked towards.

Once we’re all up to date, then we must ensure that these records are kept up to date. After all, there’s nothing worse than a Scout working hard for a badge and never receiving it because the Scout Leader isn’t very organised!

Posted by: Nick | Tuesday 29 July 2008

Top Tips, Blogs & Pod Casts

I was listening to Jerry’s Scoutmaster Minute Pod Cast show 17 on Saturday (where do you get the time Jerry???), and one of the things he and his guest Shawn were talking about was promoting their Packs and Troops. When talking about Pack / Troop etc. web sites, one of the suggestions Shawn had for these sites was to have a calendar. He suggested Google Calendars as a good, free solution. I was aware of Google’s calendars, but had forgotten about them.

A few weeks ago, I totally redesigned our Group’s site (I went from a Joomla based one to a WordPress one) and I found a calendar plug in, but it didn’t work properly! You could see the current month, but not go forward or backwards – most unhelpful! Anyway, after Shawn’s suggestion, I’ve put the Google Calendar into our site (which was easy) and I’m now in the process of populating it. The main thing is that it works ‘out of the box’ and is free. These are both important for organisations where there isn’t a lot of ‘computing knowledge’ (not meant as in insult, just an observation) and they don’t want to be spending oodles of money on non activity and meeting related items. Job done!

I got me thinking of all the computing ‘freebies’ out there that can be used by Scout Leaders to promote their Groups / Troops etc. without spending lots of money on commercial products. So below is a non definitive list of programmes that can be used on your computer to help the promotion and organisation of the Group / Troop etc.

However, a quick thought. There seems to be a considerable number of Scout Leaders (I’m using the all encompassing UK term here) in the US, who take the time and effort to produce web sites, blogs and pod casts with the purpose of passing on their knowledge and experience to others in the movement, especially the BSA (makes sense to talk of what you know!). I enjoy reading these and listening to them all and keep coming across new ones all the time (just listening to An Hour A Week? by Cubmaster Chris for the first time). And while these are interesting and provide good ideas, they all, of course, relate to the BSA, which runs their Scouting slightly differently to the SA. So where are the blogs etc. in the UK? The answer is, I don’t know! My blog has started to become more Scout based in the last year or so, but I still talk about other stuff. But I haven’t found anything similar. Escouts provides forums for Leaders to discuss issues.
In the mean time I’ll still enjoy reading and listening to what my colleagues across the Pond have to say!

So here’s the list of useful, free programmes –

  • Ubuntu Linux – Got a PC and don’t want to have a less than legal version of Windows on it and can’t afford to buy one, then try this. A relatively straightforward operating system, which comes with most things you will need to surf the net and type stuff. Does need a bit of technical know how though.
  • OpenOffice.org – Want to type letters etc. but can’t afford Office (this isn’t going to be an anti Microsoft rant – see later), try this. It has a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation functions which are all compatible with MS Office.
  • PDFCreator – Make all your documents available to all by being able to create PDF files.
  • Firefox – A great browser which has lots of add on’s available – IE Tab, Morning Coffee and Foxmarks being my favourites.
  • Windows Live Programmes – Windows Live Writer (which I’m using to write this) to publish to blogs, Windows Live Photo Gallery to view and fix your photos and Windows Live Messenger, MSN Messenger as was. There are a few others, but these are the ones I use. See, told you the list wasn’t and MS bash!
  • Paint.NET – A image manipulation programme, which is almost as powerful as Photoshop and around £600 cheaper!
  • WordPress and Blogger – Provide free blogging software and hosting.
  • AVG Free – Popular anti virus software. Something to never be without, especially if you use a PC!
  • Zone Alarm – Popular free firewall software. See above.

There is loads more out there, just check out File Hippo, but that will do for my list! A lot of the above are cross platform, but some are Windows only.

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