Wednesday, June 24, 2009

News Bullletin

As some of you might have guessed, I've been off-line for a while,
but thanks to an excellent service from Vigin Media, I'm now back
online. Hurrah! One of the problems turned out to be an ancient
modem, which was not working properly ... a brilliant engineer
came round this evening with a new one (and set it going within a
few minutes). Wonderful!.

I was starting to get severe withdrawal symptoms without my all-day
internet drip-feed.

So here is my news in brief...

We went to Leeds to see one of our daughters, on Sunday 14 June, and
went on to visit Bolton Abbey in Wharfedale, with B and her partner.
It was a gorgeous hot sunny day.

Last weekend we spent 4 days in London visiting another of our four
daughters, her fella and their two daughters. We had a good day out
at Wimbledon Fair and another brilliant day out visiting a National
Trust house and gardens ~ Polesden Lacey in Surrey. The road traffic
back on Sunday evening was very bad on the M25 nr London ... it took
us an extra hour to get past Heathrow and up to the first M1 Services
at Toddington.

I've been busy drafting a website tutorial on how to use Gimp ... I've
found it quite difficult to transfer my Photoshop skills over to Gimp,
but having done so, it's brilliant.

Here's something I created this morning using Gimp, having a bit of fun
with the "drop shadow" ...

click on this to see a larger image

I've got stacks of photos to post up on my Flickr site from the last
two weekends ... I hope to get round to doing so, fairly soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Having a go with Inkscape

I've spent the past few hours having a play with Inkscape.
I've added some text to the new banner above (but I haven't
yet found out how to edit the font). I've noticed that
Blogger tends to make the text on my banners rather fuzzy
~ it's happened again with my Inkscape text. I suspect those
of you who use Wordpress don't have this problem.

The banner is one of my photos of Tegensee, which I took last
summer during our trip to Germany.

Also with Inkscape, I've created a button for website use,
with the help of the YouTube video I mentioned in my last

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Messing about, as usual.

I've been busy in the past month or so, building a few prototype
websites, latterly with Kompozer and with a new service called
Weebly dot com. Amazingly, this one is advert-free, and yet is
free to use, so if you'd like to have go a building a simple
website for yourself, you could try out one with Weebly. My only
criticism of this site is that it takes twice as long to put a
website together, compared with Webs dot com.

I've also been having a look at Gimp (for photo-editing), and in
the past 24 hours, I've been checking out Inkscape, which is a
free graphic design program. There are some good videos on You-
Tube on how to use both of these. I'm thinking of making one or
two buttons for one of my websites, just for a bit of fun.

Here are a few sample videos for you ....

Firstly, a video all about a few Gimp basics.

Here's one on how to use Weebly dot com.

Here's a link to a YouTube video, on how to make a shiny red
button with Inkscape.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I'm a Doubting Thomas

Yes, I’m a Doubting Thomas if you were to ask me if I believed in God,
Jesus Christ, the Pope, Heaven/Hell, fate / destiny, faith healers,
fairies, astrology, and that storks bring babies into this world.

I don’t wish to sound patronising when I say this, but if other people
believe in the existence and power of God, then I’m happy for them to
carry on doing so. Everyone’s entitled to his/her opinions/beliefs.

As I mentioned in my comments to LOM a few days ago, I don’t think
that our lives are mapped out for us in advance by some supernatural
force or being. I think that we all have a series of choices in life,
which we might take or leave.

A whole host of circumstances led to my meeting my wife, Mrs C, who
happened to be the daughter of long-standing friends of my parents.
Her dad and mine went to school and to university together, and
shared a lot of literary and musical interests. Her mum helped out
my mum for a couple of weeks, when my mum took ill with mumps, and
my future mother-in-law bathed me when I was a baby … how bizarre
is that?

When I was a lad of 14, we spent some time over Christmas in 1963
with Mrs C’s family, and then in later life, in the early 1970s,
there were a few more family meetings, during which time Mrs C
and I fell in love.

It was our choice that we decided that we should continue the
relationship, but I think it did help that our parents were very
pleased when it blossomed. It was fortuitous also that neither of
us was in another relationship at the time, and that we were able
to get married and live together about a year later.

Was our relationship pre-destined? I don’t think so.

And what about career choices? Are these pre-determined in some way?

Well, I decided just before going into the 6th form at school that
I would aim for university medical school entrance … encouraged by
my parents and following on my older brother’s example (who was in
his 5th year at Med School at this time). Getting into a Med School
was very difficult for me, owing to some poor O and A level results
(and I suspect a poor headmaster’s report also) .. I was put on a
“waiting list” for Med School entry at Leeds University the
following year, pending my getting better A Level results second
time round. I also had a bash at the Oxford University entrance exams,
which with hindsight was over-ambitious … I got to interview for a
place there after the exams, but I was one of 6 good candidates for
one place at Pembroke College, and didn’t get it. The following
summer, I achieved high A level grades and was offered a place at
both Edinburgh and Leeds Universities. I chose the latter.

My life might have turned out differently if I’d accepted the
Edinburgh place … different teachers, different friends and possibly
a different career choice, if I’d chosen a hospital speciality, or
if I’d gone in for dentistry or pharmacy instead. So these were my
choices, which I don’t think were decided in any way by fate/destiny.

I've been thinking that I might have some choice as regards my
after-life, if I were to convert to Christianity not long before
I die … so I could have a chance of going to Heaven rather than
going to Hell.

Some of you might be thinking: "Well, he's hedging his bets, the
cheeky bugger! He hasn't a hope in Hell!"

No doubt God or St Peter will decide my fate.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

In the past week ....

Those of you who live in the UK will know that we've had some
gloriously sunny weather earlier this week, which has now turned
to cool, wet weather ... almost autumnal. A good job it has rained
as our garden was becoming too dry. So it's now back on with the
longjohns ~ Summer's over. :)

I gave a talk a couple of days ago to my local U3A computer group,
about shopping at Tesco online (and also using a supermarket
comparison site at, which compares prices
at 4 UK supermarkets). Mrs C and I don't shop online for food much,
(my last big online Tesco shop was 3 years ago), but we do order
organic food from Abel and Cole - the two of us get through a
family-sized box of fruit and veg in a week (and shop for more).
We also order eggs, fish and veggie-burgers from A&C as well.
We have to pay more for the food, but the flavour is amazingly
good ... the veg is very fresh and tastes as if it's straight out
of your garden.

Yesterday, our daughter R and her two children Little A and Baby J
came over to see us and spent the best part of the day with us.
So we became children's entertainers and caterers for the day ...
fairly tiring. It's very hard work looking after young children
as many of you will know.

We're watching a couple of episodes of "The Wire" (the 2nd series)
at a time ~ two more episodes left to watch now. It's brilliant.
We're not watching much else on TV at the moment, apart from the
occasional documentary such as Mary Portas' look at charity shops.