Websites and wotnot

Ooops, just realised I hadnt published this one, let Delia proof it but forgot to do the final click.

I wondered about having that as my tagline, not sure what image it gives but it certainly describes what I’ve been doing over the past fortnight.
For the website bit I’ve been sorting out enabling paypal payments on some sites and starting the next one for a personal trainer. I also had a machine that wouldn’t connect to someone’s camera anymore and had Windows steadfastly stuck in French – the windows version was not updateable for language (though a bit of googling soon solved that with a small hack). I also had an old Core user (my system for ServiceMaster written about 15 years ago). As usual, a bit of database corruption, easily fixed over a remote connection. Allegedly it was caused by Windows 10 installing itself unbidden and then manually reverting to Win 7. Whatever… anyway after getting my bit fixed I then proceeded to try to fix the users problems with opening spreadsheets and pictures. To cut a long story short, he had been inflicted with “ransomware” ! There was a message saying that all his personal files had been encrypted and could only be decrypted by clicking on links an paying the ransom. I have heard of these and usually even paying the ransom does not mean a fix. Fortunately for him it wasn’t “good” ransomware, in that nothing was really encrypted just renamed. It does mean that he had hundreds of pictures, spreadsheets, documents and all that needed to be renamed one by one (or as I advised, just as needed) at least he could get at them.

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Just for colour here’s a photo from an outing to Espace Hermeline – on a lake nearby.

 

 

 

 

 

I also had an encounter with a new dentist which cost nothing (70% covered in any case and the rest by CMU-C which is the top up cover currently free by virtue of being under the tax threshold) Apparently even when I need a crown it will be covered (certainly better than NHS cover). I also went for a routine blood test which was a bit more complicated: the equivalent of the “practice nurse” is a whole different institution effectively called Red Cross. During my morning walk I see little white Renault clios with the red cross markings, every morning calling at the several aged residents in our hamlet. So with my pieces of paper with instructions and a comment “à domicile” I fully expected one of these to be calling upon me. But no, at face value obviously judged too fit for such a service, I was given a 7am appointment – still it didn’t cost me anything.

Beaulieu to Colditz

Perhaps overstating it as Colditz but we had to stop Siena from digging our neighbour’s vegetable patch. Delia’s off in Aberdeen (see her blog) so, whilst the cat’s away the pat will… build a fence.

I had thought to get larch lap panels but the cost of delivery more than doubles the price. I only needed to secure the corner where Siena can jump onto the compost bins and then over into the neighbour’s “potager”. We had tried a 1.5m straw mat thing, popular here for obscuring the view through chain link fencing, but in testing it she broke it down enough so she could get over with ease. So, after dropping Delia at the airport I was off to see one of our first friends in Limousin… Monsieur Merlin (Leroy to his friends I guess, pronounced le rwa). Leroy Merlin is the B&Q (Bunnings to you Antipodeans) of France. Although I had later been unfaithful with the more local Bricomarché in nearby Cussac, Leroy remains my best friend for DIY. After some of the usual aimless wandering I do when not constrained by Delia in such places, I eventually grabbed 4 fence posts, a dozen travers demi ronds – 2.5m cross pieces and then moved to the quincaillerie (quite a mouthful, meaning hardware) section for figuring out what to hold the bars on with. I decided some nice long screw bolts but they had no price, so I asked and was treated to the exaggerated patience of having the system of selecting my choice of bag size to fit whatever bolts would fit for a fixed price. Even in French the attitude is universal. It was only once on my way home that I realised I could have fitted even more bolts than I needed in the bag. A pity because it turned out that I would need more.

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Anyway, the next day was spent sledge-hammering in the posts, not by the existing posts for the low chain link where they would be the neatest because those existing post had great lumps of concrete at their bases but it worked. My plan was to just quarter off the bit reachable from the bins but Jean-Claude my neighbour thought it best to block the whole corner of in case she could do a standing jump over the chain link – he did supply the post but I needed to get some more cross bars. A trip to Bricomarché later with no cross bars so instead some posts I had to saw the points off (I knew Leroy was my favourite). Sunday morning finished that off and retiring to the kitchen for a cup of tea. Wondering where Siena had got to, back out and there she is in the vegetable patch! Jean-Claude comes along with a roll of “grillage” with which I extended the fence even higher. Apart from a brief sojourn into his orchard (helped by our ladder leaning against the fence) Siena seems confined to our side of the fence, for the moment!

 

From the mundane to the digital… and I need more space/speed/sites/domains from my web host. The three year deal expires in May and renewal limits me (or costs punitively, my choice) so I needed to find a better faster and unlimited host. Every host wanted to charge me to do the transfer for me but I figured it was DIYable. Backup and restore of gigabytes took a long time with many retries but eventually it was all in place and, to my surprise all working in test mode. My existing host had dropped the ball a few times lately with downtime and first line support that failed the Turing test (essentially if an artificial intelligence is indistinguishable from a human it passes said test; their support was human but might as well have robotic going in circles as they did). What I hadn’t quite fathomed was the break in functionality I would have when doing the live swap. I foolishly thought that whilst the changeover happened anybody accessing my sites would see the old one, until the change had “propagated” across the net whence they would see the new one. But no, 24 hours of hiatus, some puzzling over the different ways things need to be done and enough first line support to appreciate that the Turing Test should be applied to more hosts than just my old one, a few facebook pleadings along the lines of “where’s my email dude!” and I think we’re there.

So next week and can recommence one of the two further new web sites I need to do and further the existing ones with paypal and facebook links.

The week leading up to Delia being away, I had been asked to feed and water another neighbour’s geese. Now these are noisy beasts but we have grown fond of them, there is some two way communication. Siena and they certainly talk across the road to each other. He also told us to take any eggs they laid and we got 5 in total. They are big and have huge yolks. They make very good omelettes. I got to quite enjoy the morning and evening chats I’d have with the two birds ( “oi” in French for goose pronounced wa, and goslings are oisons). They’d honk as I arrived, quietening down to just look sideways at me and then honking as I left as if to say “come back!”.

A New Year resolution was to do more social stuff. Geese aside, socially I didn’t do much whilst Delia was away though I did go to a (more or less) local expats group to check it out. Where we live is kind of between regions, most of the Limousin goings on are north of us and Dordogne stuff south. Anyway St Yrieix la Perche is 30mins drive away, the “coffee morning” drop in event I attended turned out to be an AGM but with 70 people in attendance and lots of info about other stuff to do it looks promising. The other more northerly focussed group we had joined so far looks pretty pricey for some events (eg 65€ pp for a go-karting event, albeit local but too rich for our pockets). However with these two groups it looks like we’ll be having two pub quizzes in April and a drinks party next Saturday. So let the socialising begin.