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Monday, 25 June 2018

Some Brexit misconceptions

First of all, I must apologise if this is not perfect but I am experimenting on producing a slide show in Blogger.

I have set automatic movement to their mazimum of one minute so you can use the arrows to move as quickly as you wish to.

If it works OK, I may do some on various subjects which lend themselves to this method of communication.

I'd be grateful for any feedback, either in the comments below, or if they are exceedingly rude about my capaabilities, you could be decent and leave a email in the slot on the right!



Ampers.

Monday, 18 June 2018

We are living in dangerous times

The important thing is, to keep your head and act wisely.

When walking down the street, always be aware of who is passing you, and who is behind you, even in broad daylight with crowds around you. Especially when the pavement is crowded. Keep an eye on the traffic.

Carrying a weapon is prohibited by law and the police attitude is, it is far better to be killed, or raped, than having to go to prison because you killed your attacker. If you agree, don’t carry a weapon.

Outdoor clothes

If someone intends to kill or rape you, then you need to consider what you are wearing. Killers hate toffs, and if a rapist thinks you think you are God Almighty, he will hone in on you. Slouch and wear dull outer chothes.

High Heels and leather soles give out a clickety clack sound and the eye immediately hones in on the wearer. I’m from Africa and am a hunter by nature (shops were 200 miles down the road and if you didn’t hunt you’d get pretty hungry). As soon as I hear the clickety-clack of loud shoes, my eye’s automatically swivel towards the sound, and I’m no killer or rapist. Wear trainers and keep your high heels or smart leather sole shoes in your bag until you get to your destination.

Another thing, always walk facing the traffic, if you walk in the direction of the traffic, you are at risk if a car pulls up next to you.

Andrew Kain gives good advice to people in his SAS Handbook.
If there’s a wall, walking close to it will reduce the chances of an attack from that side, because the wall protects you, and you’re narrowing the angles of attack.
As you approach a corner, alley or driveway, however, veer out away from the wall to give yourself that essential arms-length distance on anyone hiding around the corner.

Carry an aid to maintaining your arms-length space, such as an umbrella.
If you have a handbag on a long strap, wear it on the side closest to the wall and wear the strap across your chest, rather than over one shoulder. When crossing the road, clasp the bag in your hand, restricting the opportunity of a thief.
If you’re in crowds, whether it’s in subways during the rush hour, the supermarket on Saturday morning or at a football match, it’s particularly important that your valuables are tucked away and not obvious.
I bought the SAS Handbook for £22.00 way back, Andrew Kain signed the book in October 1996 so I must have had it before then. It was in a slightly larger than A5 loose-leaf format. Andrew, and two of his pals in his executive protection company, had 44 years in the SAS between them.

The book covers home security, street security, car security, and travelling abroad security and much more. Amazon sell the paperback for £6.99 and the Kindle version for £4.79. I can’t stress how useful this book is whether you are living at home, travelling locally or abroad. It is my bible.

Home security

First of all, make it visible. You may be very fond of your neighbours, but your object here for the thief is for him to feel it’s too much trouble – and move off along the road.

When we first moved in, I had Banhams replace the front door with a strong specially made door, with two Banham security locks – one latch and one mortice. The same with the back door. I so had window locks, and the lights – at the top of the windows – were fitted with an unobtusive bar so we can leave those little windows open in the summer without fear the burglar can lift a small child through.

Then I had another professional company come in, more recently, to install a burglar alarm and motion detectors in all the room, and security cameras.

By spending a little more I have insured that these precautions are invisible to friends and relations who visit me, but to a trained (thief’s) eye, these all spell trouble for him.

This is what Living in London is all about. I have taken further precautions but I would prefer to keep these to myself.

Ampers

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Is WhatsApp really all that secure?


Secure messaging:

Avoiding back doors is possible providing you use an open source program. This type of program is usually available in code; the user can examine the code and then compile it for their computer. If you don’t know how to compile a program, why not ask next door’s twelve year old son! You'll be amazed at what he can do!

You may ask "why would you need to use this app". I will give just one example but I'm sure you can think of many more. 'Political parties in opposition. Every party which is in government has access to MI5' (and, in America, the NSA)! Texts can be read!

Signal Messenger can also be used as a normal SMS program so you can remove your normal SMS app as there are special benefits with Signal Messenger.

Providing both parties are using the program, full encryption is also available. This part can, of course, be covered by WhatsApp, but remember - WhatsApp is a proprietary program and you’ll never tell if the CIA for MI5 have forced them to put a trapdoor in no matter what they may claim.

                                              - - - - - - - - - - - -
I dictated this whilst on the London Underground using the EdiVoice app. This app allows for long gaps between each bit of dictation unlike Google’s own voice efforts, but you need to speak slowly and clearly. The app also allows for teaching, if it gets things wrong.

OK, I admit this article is a little stilted but I haven’t used mechanical means for dictation for over fifty years. Hopefully I’ll get better at it!

Ampers

Friday, 15 June 2018

High and safe security on your mobile phone.

Secure messaging:
Avoiding back doors is possible providing you use an open source program. This type of program is usually available in code, the user can examine the code and then compile it for their computer. If you don’t know how to compile a program, why not ask next door’s son!
You may ask "why would you need to do this". I will give just one example but I'm sure you can think of many more. Political parties in opposition. Ever party which is in has access to MI5.
Signal Messenger is such a program and can be used as a normal SMS program.
However, providing both parties are using the program, full encryption is also available. This part can be covered by WhatsApp, but remember - WhatsApp is a proprietary program and you’ll never tell if the CIA for MI5 have forced them to put a trapdoor in.
I dictated this whilst on the London Underground using the EdiVoice app. This app allows for long gaps between each bit of dictation unlike Google, but you need to speak slowly and clearly. The app also allows for teaching, if it gets things wrong. OK, this article is a little stilted but I haven’t used mechanical means for dictation for over fifty years. Hopefully I’ll get better at it!
Ampers


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Use your mobile phone and never lose your memory.

Subtitled: To old codgers everywhere - and a few younger ones!

This article is aimed at people like me, who have been retired for a few years, are starting to procrastinate, but still have their mobile phones. Alas, as I use Android, some of the apps I suggest may not be easily available on the Apple store.

You may not be exactly the same as me as, in under a month, I will be celebrating my 79th birthday. I run our home using the following apps and software.

Younger readers might be interested in the following as well, as – apart from helping procrastinators – it can also help to make one more efficient.

A little while ago I discovered £20,000 in an old ISA which I had totally forgotten about. This led me to search for a full accounts program to list all my assets and liabilities. I didn’t want to make the same error again! However, I can now see exactly when bills are coming in so I can be earning as much interest as possible.

I chose a free program – I like free if it works and this one does. I use Linux so was a little restricted but I chose GNUCash. The good news is it is also available on Microsoft Windows and Apple operating systems. Like Quickbooks, if you make a mistake and it hasn’t been reconciled with your statement yet, you can overwrite the errant transaction. And add new accounts to your account tree whenever you need. I won’t talk about their reports section! There are so maay of the reports I haven’t began to use them all!

I use “Daily Expenses” by Michel Garvajal. Load version 2 and if you like it, pay for version 3. This allows me to add my expenses, cash/credit card etc as I travel around and every Sunday I transfer the week’s expenses into my GNUCash. This is, in fact a great freedom.

I arrange my time during the week, but only Mondays to Fridays using the 52 minutes on a job and 17 minutes as a break. The 52:17 is a recognised system and you can Google it. For this I use “Just Reminder” by AppHouze Go. Available from the Google app store. I keep fairly bland names starting with Admin for the first period followed by Project A, Project B, Project C, Project D, Firefighting (for all those problems that crop up) and Reading as the last period when you may be too tired to work! During the day I have an exercise period where, rain or shine I walk one mile. I have a weekly time table proforma and against the projects, I put what I am going to use them for for that week.                                          

I use the “Todo List”, the one by Splend Apps. They write great apps and I have four of them, all paid for but you can use them free. This is for regular things and information throughout the year and I get daily reminders. I always forget to take my asthma puff mornings and evenings. I also remind myself here to take the dustbins out, Another reminder to increase my blood pressure every Wednesdays to watch PMQs. And to change my undersink water filter twice a year, and to buy a new pair once a year, to give an idea. To remind me a month earlier when my home insurance becomes due so I can shop around for a better deal. The uses here for a procrastinator are endless.

“Simplenote” by Automatic Inc for all the major things to do, listing all the major items I have to accomplish. I find this particularly useful as they have a browser app whick links so you can use your computer keyboard. Yes, I know there is Google Keep and Evernote. I use them both for various reasons, but this is best for this job.

I also use “Voice Recorder” and “All Notes”, also by Splend Apps. Voice Recorder records onto various sound files – I use mp3 – for notes on the go. You can speak fairly fast, and have gaps whilst you think of what to say. I use it for taking down people’s phone number, appointments, notes and sometimes expenses, to be added to various apps later when I am sitting down comfortably. All Notes is different. It allows speech to text, but if you hesitate too long the sound closes and it types out what you have said. It also has a todo list, use of your camera, and you can also record a voice file. You can also share all types of these notes by email.

Suddenly, at approaching 79, I have become more efficient. You may find it hard to believe, but regimenting myself this way has given me a new lease of life. Now I never have to clutter my mind with all the things I have to do over the coming twelve months.

I also use “Call Forwarding” by DHC Apps. I have a good phone system at home with a wire free handset in every room. So when I get home I forward all my mobile calls to my home phone. When I leave home, I “unforward” them. Apart from the obvious, saving battery, it also saves me rushing from room to room searching for my mobile. [I also have a wireless charger in each room so that doesn’t help me find my mobile!]

If you can think of other apps which can be included here, add them, together with a paragraph on what the app does, to the Comments Section below. Please also add the cost of the app.

Ampers.

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Does your account program cost you an arm and a leg?

Welcome to GNUCash!

First of all, it runs on many operating systems, including Windows, Mac and many flavours of Linux, including ]Debian series (Ubuntu, Mint, Debian etc)], Red Hat, SuSe and a few others.

Secondly, it is Open Source and totally free to use. For the suspicious, this includes the souce code which, if you have a technical programmer working for you, you can download and look through the code before compiling it yourself. But that’s for the techies – however, it is reassuring.

So, what does it do.

  • A simple answer here, is everything. I have used Quicken and Quickbooks in the past and this works in a very similar way, from entering all your accounts to producing a copious amount of reports right up to Balance Sheet. Reports can be for the month, quarter or year.
  • Not only can you build your ‘accounts tree’, but you can call the headings whatever names you like. In addition, you can add to them even after using the program seriously for some time.
  • You can download your statements in the Quicken QIF files or the new OFX files, which between the two, are used by most banks in the UK.
  • The program has routines to enable you to reconcile your statements with your accounts easily, and as you reconcile each item, you can mark them as reconciled.
  • You can liaise with your accounts program through your Android phone.
  • You can, as I have done, download the 275 page manual, print on both sides, and have it bound by the local print shop for under a fiver. Well worth doing if you are going to be serious about using this program.
  • Amazon have many books, written by many people, available in book format or Kindle format. However if you own a Kindle, you can download the document in .mobi format. Those with other e-readers, you can use the e-book format.
  • You can start using the program from any date. I used the first of the following month, and when the statement arrived later in the month you can add the balances in, these were dated the first of the month and immediately appeared in the correct place before the records I had previously entered. Great.
  • If you put in your company name and address, and your client’s name and address, you can print invoices for any sales transaction.
  • When using for the first time, you have a choice of different sets of accounts to automatically set up. Then all you need to d
There are many more good points about this program, but I tought I’d just give you a flavour of this FREE software.

The way open source works is, someone has an idea for a program. He puts this information out, and someone technical takes it up and calls for help. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of programmers around the world offer half a day, a day, or even  longer to code up, or solve problems from other coders.

There is a GNUCash Android app, but it doesn’t feed the main program too well so I use an app on my Samsung phone called “Daily Expenses”. You get a whole lot more by buying it (just over £2) and it will back your data up to either Drive or Dropbox. I use this when I am out to record all my purchases and, every week, enter them into GNUCash every Sunday.
    
You can delete any account errors, but that is not advisable once the entry has been reconciled with your statement. Some, but not many, banks and building societies, offer an electronic statement. I don’t mean a pdf but what is called an OFX or a QIF, or even a csv file, which you can upload to your GNUCash and most of the items will be reconciled, leaving only a few to investigate.

It is said you don’t need to be a book-keeper to operate it, but a little knowledge of book-keeping will stop you making a few errors in the first month.

Don’t worry about opening balances, you can put these in at any time, just don’t forget to put the date as at the last day of the month before you begin and they will always show up first.


A word of warning, although this is ideal for small businesses, if you, like me, are using it for your home accounts, you could be heading for a little heartbreak when you see just how much certain aspects of your life is costing you. Men, if you are doing this, split the “clothes” account into his and hers. This could be ammunition when she says “You’re not going out to the pub yet again?”

Ampers