Author Archives: thatconsultantbloke

About thatconsultantbloke

Based in North Wiltshire UK I try to have fun whilst making things happen. I spent almost 40 years climbing the corporate ladder before getting bored with being too far from the action. Now I use my experiences of that time, the good and the bad, to keep the bills paid and have fun helping clients turn strategy into positive results.

Letters to the Editor – low battery warnings

Dear Sir

I frequently receive a Low Battery Warning from my various electrical devices. Is this because I leave them on the floor around my armchair? Would placing them on top of cupboards reduce the number of warnings?

These are important factors as we try to save electricity. I think that we should be told.

Yours etc

Concerned of Covingham

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Letters to the Editor – the smart meter scam

Dear Sir

There is something very wrong in this campaign to have us all sign up for smart electricity meters. Looking at the benefits for me as a consumer then there is nothing that I can do with a smart meter that I can’t do with what I have now. It may be that some things might be easier, but that is all.

From the supplier’s point of view they can read my meter without my intervention, or at least in theory, but from what the technicians tell me they can’t always do that. The meters cannot be transferred if you change supplier; it seems ridiculous that there is not a universal meter that is transferable, but there is not.

Their reliability is questionable compared to unsmart ones so why on earth would anyone want to have one installed? I am not a believer in conspiracy theories, but the current push towards us all having them concerns me. Do people think that we are so stupid that we will just accept that they are a good idea? Presumably they do.

What is the real reason why we should have them? I think that we should be told.

Yours etc

Disgusted of Dorcan

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Letters to the Editor – a national scandal

Sir

The evening before last, on national television, someone proposed murdering people in the UK because of their political belief. Had I appeared alongside them and proposed the similar murder of people of, say, a particular sexual persuasion, those who are transgender, belonging to a particular race or religion I would have been arrested and charged by now, but for the other person? Nothing so far.

Where is the outrage? Why are the leadership of the Left not all over the media saying “Not in our name”? Other than a few paragraphs buried deep in newsprint simply reporting the incident there is little evidence that it happened at all.

It is a national scandal that Left leaning people can get away with openly calling those of an opposing view “Tory Scum”. That is personal abuse that should not be going unpunished, but it is just accepted, and yet it is an example of hate crime as much as any form of racial, sexual, religious or other abuse that would see a person clapped in irons these days. Why the double standard?

Yours etc

Disgusted of Dorcan

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Letters to the Editor – trusting the judgement of the Left

Several of my friends on the Left, and others of similar persuasion, have been calling Liz Truss useless and a failure. How they can make such a judgement so soon into her tenure I can’t understand, but could they be right (as opposed to Right of course)?

Let’s face it, perhaps they know a useless leader when they see one, for, after all, the Left has an extremely good track record of electing them to govern their own party.

Yours etc

Disgusted of Dorcan

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Letters to the Editor – Education

Sir

Anyone who thinks that education in the UK has not declined over the last three or four decades need only to read social media posts for a few minutes to see the lack of literacy on display.

Of course the flaw in my argument is that they will either be unable to read such posts, or not be able to understand the appalling display of spelling and grammatical errors.

Yours

Disgusted of Dorcan

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Software, its usage and abuse

I have been muttering here about rationalising my blogs. One of features of my last cutback was that I moved my websites into WordPress and merged them into my blogs, but in doing so I lost some of the freedom that I had before.

My myriad websites were all written by me in HTML using Notepad or a similar blank page and then uploading the raw code to the web where it would emerge as pretty pages. In theory using WordPress should be easier, but I find it restrictive and it often does not work in the way that it leads me to believe it should. Perhaps I just need to work with it more.

Forty years ago I was a COBOL programmer writing business software, mostly for financial systems, but rarely seeing the machines that my programmes would run on. Once I was happy with what I had coded on paper I would book time on a data input terminal and key in my code for someone to run for me at a convenient point after which I would, in all probability, get an error report that could be anything from one to far too many pages long. The latter was actually better because it usually meant a single cock-up, or syntax error as we preferred to say, that could be easily fixed.

Soon after I moved to work in Swindon I was presented with an IBM PC. Despite having tried to persuade my employers to buy around 20,000 of these things the year before I had not actually seen one myself at that point and had not worked with BASIC as a language, but the PC came with MS-DOS and MS-BASIC and so I read the books and got to work, knocking up a few simple programmes.

The power of the computer was amazing back then as it began to reach into mainstream business life. I can remember one of the junior managers that I worked with coming back from his weekly quality of service meeting having been savaged over the manually produced figures that he had to present. I wrote him a simple routine that allowed him to input his manually produced data and print it off on piano lined paper. He breezed through his weekly meetings thereafter; the hierarchy believed his numbers because they came off the computer system; they didn’t know how they had got in there – if they came out of the system then they must be true.

One of the arts of programming back in those days was economy. Memory was in short supply and I was used, in my COBOL days, of having about 1K of memory for my programme to run in. That last sentence will have taken more than 1K of memory here with all of the overheads in the software and I have more memory in the ‘phone in my pocket than we had in our entire network back in my early days in the trade. Eight inch floppies, dustbin lid demountable discs (or disks) were our stock in trade.

By the time that Windows came along memory was less of an issue, but it was treated with distain by people like me. We held the snobbish view that it was in some way cheating, but the reality was that it encroached on our art and perhaps diminished our role as high priests. Such views were a little academic for me though because I had, but then, moved on from IT and was back in the world of the suits. I even had a one of those new fangled laptops and was getting to grips with Lotus 123.

If my simple input and print programme mentioned above had pulled the wool over eyes a spreadsheet was a huge step forward in misleading the gulible and you could get away with all sorts of nonsense with those; lies, damned lies and statistics had nothing on a spreadsheet. It was The Emperor’s New Clothes all over again for a time as pie charts and bar graphs bemused all and sundry.

The beauty of software though was that, if you specified and designed it right, you could produce your performance data as a by-product of doing the job; information for nothing in effect and I loved my suited time in those days as I had the benefit of having worked on both sides of the fence and could communicate exactly what I wanted to the IT mob. It was a golden time for me in my career.

When I first wanted a web site to help promote our Florida villa a colleague offered the services of his son who was trying to break into computing. I wrote him a spec for a four page web site and he came back with something that looked great. Until I loaded it onto the server. He had used a package, I think called Dreamweaver, and my hosting package only had room for the first page. Memory problems again and so I bought an HTML book and coded my own site, the raw HTML taking a fraction of the memory.

That was the way that I built all of my web sites thereafter until I decided to rationalise and that’s where this post started. Now I need to try and get to grips with WordPress and spend some time reviewing and testing what I have to make sure that I have got it right and that everything works before I try and merge things so that I come down from five sites to three.

It will be an interesting, and no doubt, from time to time, frustrating journey, but I will give me something to do over the Winter and I will try and report on progress here as I make it. For now I apologise for any broken links; I am aware that the ones to Amazon are down because of things that they are doing with their site(s). That is another issue: I do my thing, but others are doing theirs and, if I want any linkages, I have to keep up.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Letters to the Editor – the class war

Dear Sir

The class war is really a middle class thing, hence the fact that we have an upper class, a lower class and a plethora of middle classes; upper, lower, not quite upper middle etc. However, that is to keep the pretentious people out of the peasantry where they do not want to be, nor do we peasants want them amongst us for that matter. The upper class certainly don’t want them, so for the middle class the class system is an essential.

It is in the lower orders that resentment flares up, mainly through the politics of envy these day and every day I see in the mire of social media evidence that my Leftie friends are winning this battle to rid us of the class society. Indeed almost every social media platform shows that the Left in this country has no class whatsoever.

Yours etc

Disgusted of Dorcan

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Man hit by train

It is just a thought, but I have read that headline many times and recently it was there again, this time the gist was that someone on the platform of my local station had been hit by said train. Continue reading

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Roman Swindon

The Roman legacy around this part of the world centres on the town of Cirencester on the crossroads of Ermine Street and the Fosse way. As far as Swindon is concerned there are probably not that many people who associate the road called Ermine Street that runs through the Stratton district of the town with the Romans, but its dead straight line ought to be a bit of a giveaway to anyone with a little knowledge.

These days Ermine Street is no longer the main road up to Ciren, it having been by-passed by a dual carriageway to the East of the town back in the 1970s, the A417/419, commonly called the latter. However that road is partially built over a large Roman settlement called Durocornovium that extended across from what is currently the Eastern edge of Swindon through to the village of Wanborough and straddled Ermine Street.

The industrial area of Swindon know as Dorcan is probably named as a corruption of its Roman forerunner. As the town expands Eastwards much more of the old Roman settlement will be built over for housing and it seems that there is little enthusiasm for celebrating its presence. The town’s council appears to almost wish it had never existed rather that try to add that heritage to the better know one as the home of the Great Western Railway.

It seems that the Saxons scavenged must of the stone from Durcornovium when they built their settlement on Swindon hill, where the Old Town is now and away from the flood plain where the Romans had built. It had been a significant industrial centre for the Romans with iron and pottery works amongst others, but all was abandoned when the Romans swanned off back South to warmer climes in the 5th century.

Swindon is far from the boring town that comedians like to take a swipe at. From where I sit now I can see the profile of a Bronze Age hill fort just outside the town and this is one of several such settlements nearby. The Ridgeway path, an ancient path often described as Britain’s oldest road, runs from the ancient stone circle at Avebury across to Ivinghoe in Buckinghamshire and passing just outside of the town. There is a lot of history in these parts and it is a shame that is largely ignored.

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An ego trip

Blogging is something of an ego trip; I get that and have no issue with it. Whilst I do try to keep my ego in check I know that it can run away with me given the slightest loss of control, but I also know that it is not possible to do the sorts of jobs that I have done without an element of ego being prevalent.

I know that, at times, I have been a pompous prat and that realisation is part of my control mechanism. I can recognise the symptoms and, for the last 33 years, have had a good woman at my side to make sure that I have seen the signs of going over the top. Like most things in life it is about balancing opposing forces.

Over the years since blogging became popular I have had more than a dozen blogs of the go. A few years back I cut all of that back, deleting three blogs and five websites including dropping all of the social media presence around them. It had all got out of hand and my lifestyle was changing as I ceased working overseas. Now the time has come for more rationalisation and I am looking at merging this blog with ThatConsultantBloke.com.

There will be consequences to doing that, not least in terms of audience, and there are various sundry issues like email accounts linked to the blogs (which are also websites in their own right). It may turn out to be impractical, but time marches on, I will be 70 in a few weeks and I need to try and declutter my life a little as other priorities become important. My last two business ventures are being closed down and I will trade on a personal basis when and where I choose to from now on.

This is not the last you will here from the bloke at the back, but my voice may come through a different URL soon, ego permitting. Thanks for stopping by, stay safe and maybe you’ll look in again.

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