Monday, August 13, 2018

Laptop Coaching: The Power of Search!


Today, we discussed the power of Google Search – including some shortcuts for ‘power-users’ that speed-up search results.

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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Film: Mission: Impossible - Fallout

Surely there cant be any more impossible missions for the IMF to sort out, but it hasn’t stopped Tom Cruise squeezing more out of the franchise!

Mission: Impossible - Fallout
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So here we are at M:I-6 aka Mission: Impossible - Fallout and the synopsis (should you wish to accept it) is below…

“Ethan Hunt and the IMF team join forces with CIA assassin August Walker to prevent a disaster of epic proportions. Arms dealer John Lark and a group of terrorists known as the Apostles plan to use three plutonium cores for a simultaneous nuclear attack on the Vatican, Jerusalem and Mecca, Saudi Arabia. When the weapons go missing, Ethan and his crew find themselves in a desperate race against time to prevent them from falling into the wrong hands”.

Not content with metaphorically breaking a leg in previous MI productions, this time, he broke something else (literally) - an ankle - doing the majority of the stunts himself! OUCH! Still, as they say: there’s no such thing as bad advertising!

So, it was off to Kettering Odeon  with Jo and Janet for the 2pm performance. Excerpts (mostly focusing on the stunts rather than the storyline) had been nothing short of breath-taking.

Well, what was it like then? In short, action, action and err, more action, from start to finish  (with just a few short breaks to allow the audience to get their breath and to advance the storyline). In the pre-credits opening scene, it was typical old-school MI where fans of the original series will probably see the outcome a mile off, but it was a nice touch. Netflix addicts will have spotted a face they’ve seen before, playing a major part in the plot as well as someone that other cinema fave - The Greatest Showman.

Wow! It used to be that the Bond movies had the edge on stunts - but no longer! Car, bikes, vans, London skylines - and even helicopters - were used and abused in pursuit of this adrenalin-fuelled actioner.

Don’t worry about the plot too much, just sit back and monitor your pulse throughout the 2 hours 28 minutes! Given the level of continuous action, the time pass in a flash!!
And for the more cerebral of you, if you like storylines to involve double-crossing and triple-crossing, be prepared to ‘up your game’ for this one! Whilst you’re at it, play ‘catch-phrase Bingo’ and see how many times you hear the phrase :“I’m working on it”.
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One final point that caught my eye: look out for a major ‘reality error’ involving the London scene and the white van. Answers on a postcard please!
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Phew! I think we were all exhausted when the credits rolled!
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Friday, August 10, 2018

Boughton of Youth

Mouline Rouge

So, here we are again - Boughton House - and what’s become a regular event these past three years: it’s one of LunaFlix’s many outdoor cinema events. Our first visit to this novel form of cinema-going was back in 2016 when we saw Pretty Woman, and in 2017, it was La La Land. This year, it’s 2001’s Moulin Rouge starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman.

Many of our youthful gang were in attendance - Geoff, Rhonda, Jo, Janet, Carol and Ann. Missing the action this year?  Paul J & Sue and Nicki.

Ironically, in past years, the weather had always been pretty predictable - dry and mild at worst, scorching hot at best. This year was a bit different though! We’d been experiencing super-hot days of late, but yesterday, the weather broke, and it rained for a large part of the day. Our worry for tonight was that the evening may too, turn into a very damp affair!

Food-wise, the girls had it covered - a picnic to rival many picnics! Ann had cooked a chilli, whilst Rhonda made us a chicken-and-mango curry with rice (to rival Uncle Ben’s!). Jo, Janet and Carol supplied yummy desserts in the shape of Orange and Passion Flower Cheesecake accompanied by Apple Tart. Suffice to say, there was plenty of liquid in in its numerous variations too!

Simon, our host weaved his magic (as he always does) and we enjoyed great sound quality and a pin-sharp picture. The only slight glitch was the picture crapping-out near the end due to the projector overheating. Cue, a mass exodus for many - to the loo!
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The weather turned out to be well behaved - by raining in the afternoon, and perfectly dry in the evening (but it did get very cold about an hour into the film), but we were all well prepared for that!

At 9.15, the film began. We’d first seen it back when it was first released, and tonight, after the first 3o minutes, we were both reminded how much we enjoyed it. After a slightly noisy opening scene, it settled down into a musical love story. You know the type: Boy meets girl… boy loses girl… boy types a lot… boy competes with another boy… Girl wishes she had medical insurance. Bring the tissues!
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Probably the stand-out memory was Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman’s singing voices. They were so confident and tuneful, I had to check online to remind myself whether they had vocal-doubles! Well, co-star Jim Broadbent certainly had help, but it turned out that the two leads just practised hard - and the results were much, much better than we expected!

Check out Ewan McGregor’s version of Elton John’s Your Song HERE, or try the video below (Better than the original!!! Sorry, Elton!)

…and Nicole Kidman’s duet: Come What May HERE

As the final credits rolled close to 11.15, Simon thanked us all for coming, we then packed up bits-and-bobs and headed for our cars, and in our case, the heated seats!

All-in-all, it had been a fantastic evening and we’re planning to do it all again next year.
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Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Beer Diary… Steve P (aged 61-and-a-bit).

The Great British Beer Festival 2018
Well that’s a first - a visit to a Beer Festival - my first ever, and a boys’ day out too! 

The venue? London’s Olympia and to give the event its full title: The Great British Beer Festival.

This is a superb opportunity for a piss-up taste of fine ales. The event began on 7 August and is staggering through until the 11th - and it would appear it’s an annual event too. I got into training for this a few days earlier, by sampling some selected stock in the cupboard at home, and I now felt I was match-fit*!

*Time would tell - I clearly wasn’t!

On arrival, I met up with a few seasoned visitors who were very helpful in pointing me in the right direction, both figuratively and literally. Activities started at 12 noon, and I managed to stay on my feet (and still feel them) until around 3ish.

So, what was it like? Well, for me, I assumed it was simply an extended pub-crawl without the need for a pub or any crawling, but it turned out to be so much more!! The official website described it as:-

“The Great British Beer Festival isn’t just about beer. We have a whole host of entertainment such as rock, pop and alternative bands which appear alongside auctions, traditional pub games and Saturday’s Big Pub Quiz. A full programme of book signings and tutored tastings will be available to enhance your festival experience”.

First stop was the Glass counter, where after depositing a small err, deposit, I was given a glass-for-life. Actually, if I’d chosen to take it back afterwards, the deposit would have been returned. Still, this was the perfect date-stamped memento of the event.

Once inside, the enormity of the event was obvious. Not only by the number of ‘Bars’ but the numerous food pop-ups, AND the queue going in - including most of inner London, it seemed! Boy, it was certainly well supported!! A perfect balance of food and drink, although I wasn’t sure about the Pickled Egg counter though - so many variations on Egg and Pickledness, it just not natural!

Big fluffy and wispy-bearded folk were my expectation, with a higher-than-average number of pot-bellies, but actually, it wasn’t the case - the majority were all very normal looking folk, and there were even GIRLS too… all five of them (plus possibly the one on Security, but it was difficult to tell! Still, that didn’t count as s/he was on the staff).

First stop (because it was the closest and just because we had walked at least a mile to the venue) was the Cornwall-based St Austell Bar… and a swift half of ‘Proper Job’, a 5.5% IPA followed. It slid down very well!

My voyage of discovery (and gradual inebriation) continued, gradually upping the ABV, but carefully avoiding the American Bar, whose Beer range included one that was 10%. - yep, 10%!

I guess, in total, I must have sipped my way through five or six types of beer - but maybe only three pints in total, but it certainly felt more, a lot more! Sensibly, the Bars were dispatching their wares not just in pints and halves - but also uniquely thirds - and this variation suited my under-trained body perfectly. Luckily Walkers Crisps also were doing their bit for humanity by giving away free bags of crisps to anyone who was interested - in short, everyone! Unusual flavours too…

  • Jalapeno and Cheese
  • Hot Chicken Wings
  • Chilli and Lime

All very welcome! and in massive 150g bags too - proper mansize bags. Blotting paper never tasted so good!!

IMG_20180808_134758    IMG_20180808_131306    IMG_20180808_141510

I was now finding my feet, and swift thirds of Schrodinger’s Cat, Marmalade Porter and D-Day Dodger followed. From then on, in spite of additional (and regular) supplies of free crisps and even a cheeseburger about the size of Corby, my world was increasingly becoming a tad fuzzy. It was that wonderful feeling where you’re just ‘merry’ and can still feel all your limbs - and where joining words together was still perfectly possible! If I’d drunk anymore, my guess was that my slightly under-trained torso would have quickly deteriorated. Must do better next time!
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So, with the chiming of the 3 o’clock bell (or was that just my head), I said farewell to my better-equipped colleagues, and headed for the Station. Luckily, the Station was immediately opposite - and even in my slightly blurry world, what could possibly go wrong!!??

Well, it did..! slightly! A technical fault on the Tube meant that even allowing just over an hour to get to St Pancras International, it wasn’t quite enough. My smugness in buying my original rail ticket for a little over £20 return (which I’d now missed by about 10 minutes) was replaced by the reality of the need for a single at short notice - at the princely sum of £62.50!

I was now heading for the Platform. At this stage, with the recently introduced new timetable in operation, I couldn’t equate why my next Train - that only stopped at Wellingborough & Kettering - still took around the same time as the one it replaced (that used to stop at least another half-dozen more stations). Thanks East Midlands Trains; another of life’s mysteries or maybe just the effects of the alcohol on my mental arithmetic?
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Luckily, Ann, aka ‘Chauffeur-for-the-day’ was waiting, and I was soon home.

Trains aside, it had been a great day. It wasn’t quite what I expected (in a good way) and I’m pretty sure I’ll go against next year - but if I’m going to last the course, more training is required in the drinking department!
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Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Tablet Coaching: One to Ones


With only a few lessons before the end of the curriculum for this Group, today, we spent time, ‘1-to-1’, recapping past topics and answering questions.

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Monday, August 06, 2018

Laptop Coaching: Managing Suspicious eMails

Fake word on wooden stamp

Today, we looked at a number of straightforward techniques for identifying suspicious eMails. We also developed plans on how to manage those eMails.

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Saturday, August 04, 2018

ASK: The Family

It was of to see the Palmer Clan today - Debbie, Neil, Alfie and Frankie - Neil having booked a table at ASK in Bromley.

The table was booked for 12.15, so that meant an early exit from home and a short drive to Bedford for the ever-popular ThamesLink service! And boy, was it popular!!!

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It was OK at Bedford - almost empty - but at each station afterwards, the number of people attempting to board, defied belief! What are all these people doing getting a train this early on a Saturday? Ahh, as we pulled into Blackfriars Station, it all became clear as the sizeable crowd there was wearing very brightly coloured attire! Our conclusion? Somewhere in the UK there was obviously a Pride March going on, and just our luck, as it turned out to be Brighton - the ultimate destination of our Train! I’m glad we got off when we did!!

We exited quickly and fought our away along the impossibly long platforms, that are a feature of this newly (ish) revamped Station. Twenty minutes later, we were on the opposite platform, and our way to Bromley South - our final destination.
Neil, Debbie and Alfie were there, but no sign of Frankie. We learned he was apparently sleeping it off after a very late night, the previous night (lucky bugger!).

We were soon at our restaurant-of-choice - ASK - at the top of the High-Street. We were quickly seated (coincidentally, the exact same table as last time!)

…and were soon checking-out the Menu knowing that we had a 25%-off voucher awaiting its liberation. Actually, its freedom was short-lived, as I hadn’t read the small-print, and it wasn’t valid on a Saturday! Doh!
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After a quick look at the three-courser-for-£15.95, we returned to the main menu and made our selections.

Spicy Meatballs to start with for me…

…followed by Sausage Cannelloni

…and to finish, a cheeky Honeycomb Cheesecake

We skipped the Coffee course, preferring to take a very slow wander back down the High Street in time for our Train. After a good natter, we arrived at the Station and said our goodbyes. We’d timed it pretty well, and didn’t have long to wait for our return journey to Blackfriars.

Luckily, this time, by the time we got back into London, the Station was pretty much deserted (just how we like it) and we were soon on the final leg, heading for Bedford Station - and home.

A great day and always good to catch up with the Family!
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