Thursday, September 30, 2010

Computer virus warning

I have just had to restore my laptop to factory settings with all the attendant hassle that entails because of something nasty that arrived on my computer which Mc Afee failed to pick up. So here is advanced warning for you:

There is a legitimate programme called Microsoft Securities which is an anti virus check. However, there is also a fake version of this circulating which looks very convincing unless you know the real programme.

Yesterday I do remember getting one of those annoying pop up adverts  telling me I had won a Mini Cooper, which I closed without actually clicking on any of their buy now buttons, assuming it was fake. But I think that is where the infection came from.

When I logged on to the laptop today I got a warning screen from 'Microsoft Securities' saying that a Trojian horse had been downloaded and I needed to scan to clear it off. Now, I was surprised at this becuase I had not been aware that I had Microsoft Securities. But this was before I researched and found it to be a programme you buy and, it being supposedly Microsoft, and my laptop having come with all kinds of stuff I didn't always take much note of, I can see how it would be plausible. In any event suspicious or not I could not get further into my computer without clicking on scan now.

When you do that it gives a list of about 30 antivirus programmes which are purportedly checking for a solution. On the results page many come up as having nothing. Five do and you are invited to free install them. Alarm bells rang everywhere  at this point becuase (a) Mc Afee, which I do have, was said not to have a solution. (b) it is unilkely that all the ones who do are free and (c) one of the the free ones is called Red Cross and there is no way the humanitarian organaistion would allow a software company to be using their name. So I went no further.

My research showed that the offered programmes are of course fakes themselves and are damaging. I did manage to get Mc Afee to scan my whole computer but it did not show up the fake Mc Afree Securities even though by then I had researched it on Den's laptop and had found out what was going on.

But even though I didn't download anything it killed my computer and I had to recover it back to factory settings.

So learn a lesson or two from me:

1. Don't fall for this scam. 

2. Then, before you get attacked, go and back up your computer to an external drive now. I have done that but not since we moved so some photos have gone but nothing major thank goodness..... and some photos are on the blog anyway, but not all my Festival of Quilts ones! (And there was an hour or two of desperately trying to remember where we had unpacked the hard drive to!)

3. Then back up frequently.

4.  Ensure your McAfee or Norton or similar is up to date. 

5. Buy a storage box and dedicate it to your recovery discs and discs of bought computer programmes so you can put them all back on again speedily.

6. Go on line now and search the website of your computer's manufacturer for instructions on how to recover your computer to factory settings and print it out - unless you are sure you will have access to an unaffected laptop to look it up when you come to need it.

7. And, if you ever think there is a chance you have been compromised, go and change all your online banking passwords at once as an added security.

Then reflect that, actually, its quite nice to have a computer free of all the junk that ends up on them after a while!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interactive kitchen

Wow! thank you all so much for  your response so far to my kitchen advice plea. It is all very useful indeed.
Just one more question. Dennis made the mistake of leaving half way through our joint internet shopping session tonight to go and watch football. that was fine by me - I am happy to do the research and then report back with options.  But he has to be aware that if he leaves me and I fall in love in his absence, all his budgetary caution shall be scattered to the wind.

I found THE tap.* Just the one I was searching for. Silly price but I am in love.

I was searching for a handsome tap with a sleek pull out hose with a rounded control that was centrally placed and which swivelled and had a good sense of humour and was non-smoking  - harder than you think. This Franke one was one of three that fit the bill but - oh be still my beating heart - it is black. So it's all matchy-matchy with the black sink and black microwave and black extractor and... you get the idea! I like matching and I didn't even know you could get black taps.
So on colour alone it was a must buy.

But - and here is where I need your help again. It has an added feature, as you can see in the picture of the steel version below. LED lights in the spray. Now this is surely extremely cool and, as I assume Swiss precsion means this is achieved without the risk of electrocution, amazingly clever.

But why on earth do I need LED lights in my tap spray?

* I know, this used to be a quilt blog. Give me time and I promise quilt show photos from the US.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pulling your weight

At midnight last night, as I found myself, in my PJ's measuring packets of cornflakes and quaker oats with a builders tape measure I came to a conclusion. I have had many emails and blog comments saying how much you are looking forward to seeing our house develop and how much fun it will be to watch the process. Which is great. Because I am having great fun too and I am all for sharing the joy. But you know, along with the fun goes the work and, well, you might all be having vicarious fun but I don't see any of you measuring the circumference of a tin of beans for me, do I? So I decided that I shall tap into my reader resource a bit more.

Tell me a good and a bad thing about your kitchen. Or more if you like. What do you love - be it an applicance, a colour, a fancy gadget for turning tomatoes into swans - whatever. What would you not be without that you use all the time? What makes you happy about your kitchen? And what don't you like? What little thing niggles and annoys you. What would you change if you could or what mistake did you make when you fitted your kitchen? Or maybe tell me what amazing thing you saw in a shop that you would love to have in your kitchen. That way I can ammass all your wisdom and apply it to maximise good design and minimise regrets.

And in return? Well I shall keep amusing you with tales like how the electrician came back today. And told us that the metal lights in the bathroom - you know, that room with all the steam and water in - no earth wire. Oh, and the shower is illegal. And you know how he was in the house to do the extra sockets in the dressing room becuase the fitted wardrobes are coming soon because all my clothes on the temporary rail fell on my head.... We do realise that if we fit them he will have to unfit them to do the electrics for the kitchen below? Hence why the kitchen gets done soon. And while he was at it he told us that to rewire all our exceedingly dodgy sockets and lighting fixtures he needs to take the flooring of the upstairs out and really we need to move out of the usptairs for three days.

Problem? Not at all. I am going to give a key to the electrician and move out to California. And when I come back I will not longer have to wonder whether naked flame candles are a more or less risky alternative to my light switches..

Oh and in case, you were wondering about the cereal packet measuring. I was almost asleep when it occurred to me that if we got said electrican to move a light switch then, instead of leaving a small gap between a wall and a run of cabinetry in the kitchen ( to allow us to get our hands down the side of the cabinets to get to the switch) as the planner had suggested, then, as long as I change the radiator at the other end of the run to one 10 mm narrower we could swap the 300mm pull out larder to a 500mm. Was it worth the effort Dennis asked. Would we get all that much more in or would we just have usless space around what we would put in the 300mm cupboard? Don't really know. Turns out the answer is about 55 packets of Quaker Oats.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It was an accident. I swear on my fabric stash it was.

You see, everything is temporary in our house at the moment and that includes the shade on my bedside lamp. It is slightly too big but it does a good job of temporarily replacing the one that got broken in the packing.  Only, it being slightly too big, when I caught it with my hand as I tried to put the light out, it slipped and overbalanced the lamp base. Which toppled onto the water carafe, which poured its contents over the radio alarm clock.

Now I did scoop it up quickly, but the first dribbles seem to have seeped into the base. And caused the radio to come on. Which ought to be a good sign of me not having drowned the thing. Save that it was on even though it was turned off. And would not turn off, whatever buttons I pressed.  Radio 4, on and on and on. (Dennis likes us to wake to the Today Programme. For myself, I would choose something more serene or upbeat. But I will give you that having to listen to John Humphries interupting and hectoring a politician who is intent on ignoring both question and reality in their desperate attempt to convince me of the sense of whatever inane policy they dreamt up overnight does get me up quickly. Newshound Dennis manages to snooze serenely through the first twenty minutes or so of the baracking and slimey avoidance).   Of course, the radio turned off when I did the electrical equivalent of smacking its bottom for tantruming and pulled its plug out. But when I plugged it back in, it started again. Not good.

But not a disaster, because a little while ago my Dad won an ipod docking station/ alarm clock and a large bar of chocolate in a raffle. Dad having no real need of (or idea what to do with) a docking station, I was given it the day before this happened. My ipod-less sister got the chocolate.  So I get up and go and get it. It has four pages of instructions. All of which have large simple diagrams for 'quick set up'. None of which tell me how to tune the radio. And of course I am only reading the instructions after I have spent time trying to fathom it out myself. It suggests I download the manual online. At gone midnight? Not good.

But not a disaster, because it is after all, a docking station. So I dock my itouch, set the alarm and go to sleep.

And at 6.41 am ( because this, like all other digital clocks you or I have ever set, skips the time you are actually trying to set it to by one minute) I start gradually to rise out of my sleep, eased out of it painlessly by  the gentle and interesting tones from the ipod. I snuggle down and let myself have a couple more minutes to enjoy....

Or I would have done if Dennis had not, within five seconds of it going off, sat bolt upright and demanded, "What is that?"

That, my dear Westminster-Village-wannabe-resident-political-conflict -thriving husband of many years, that is Annies Smith's quilting podcast.

It was, I swear on my stash, an accident.

PS. By the time I got home he had fixed the original alarm clock and asked me,"What is Patchwork Tsushin anyway?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Going backwards to go forwards

You remember how I had  taken over this warm, decorated, equipped dining room as my studio?
And how I was dissatisfied so we moved so I could get a better studio?
Well, this is it.
(Gerrie you asked to see a photo of the guest room. It's the same place.)
The plan is that next week my brother-in-law and husband will be hiring a van and going to my former barrister's chambers to retrive my desk and book cases which will go in here as a temporary studio solution. In around March/April we anticipate starting work in here to create me a dedicated studio and second bathroom. Then the temporary studio becomes the guest room.
Well when I say we start work, I mean the builder starts work. After he does our bathroom and kitchen. And finishes the neighbours loft conversion - he waved at me from their roof today.

Spending some of my time as I do hearing Small Claim cases, I am aware that choosing a builder can be a tricky business. No-one knowingly chooses a cowboy so how do you know if your builder will do a good job? Well recommendation is a good start - this builder has already completed a full refurb of the bungalow opposite us including a loft conversion there too. But I do think gut instinct and an assessment of the character of the person is part of it.

This builder came to visit to take his first look at the jobs we had planned. He walked into the lounge and stopped talking when he saw my quilt over the sofa.
"Did you do that?"
He picked it up, examined the back.
"That's really neat machine quilting. " He fingered it some more. "And these feathers are really good. I like the colour combination."
Now excuse my total prejudice but I didn't expect that. Turns out he used to be a sail maker. And he gets why I need two studios.  (The second will be the converted garage which will be a smaller wet dying and printing studio but thats 18 months to 2 years down the line when the rest of the house is done.)

I think he's worth a punt on don't you?!

Bath revisited

During my blogland absence we snuck in a trip to Bath. As we stay in this flat at least three/four weeks a year I have become lax about photos as it is all so familiar, but this time I took some especially for you.

At the moment Bath is full of Lions. First these statuary kind. Most are actually quite naff but this was the prettiest.

And this the one that made us laugh the most. Isn't he delightfully arrogant?

Then there were the human kind of Lions.Although not all humans pictured are Lions a goodly number were. Applause and impressed acknowledgement will be lavished upon any North American reader who can tell me (a) what a Lion is in this context and (b) what this position is called.

When I was a child I liked to sit in the bottom of my wardrobe with my library books. The flat in Bath has two perfectly good sofas but my penchant for squeezing into small spaced to read/write has not diminished!

Good and bad news

The good news - finally (but not until Talk Talk reduced Dennis to tears with their appalling service and need to spend hours on the phone to call centres who did anything but what they said they would do) the home wifi is working! I am back in blogland!

The bad news. The electrician came to check the electrics in the new house. His exact comment on this socket? "Bloody hell. Don't use this one!"

His comment on our fuse box? "This is twenty years old. Its working fine but it will go eventually. And when it goes, normally I would say you will never get a part for it, but actually I've got an old one for parts in my garage. And you know where I got that from? Its the one I took out of your last house."

Well, its nice to recycle isn't it?!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Move photos

No, still no broadband, but at least I have finally found time to tranfser  a few photos to a memory stick and bring them to work for a lunch time posting. I know nearly a month after moving these are a little out of date but these are all I have with me so be greatful ! :)

Imitially my thrifty little sister gave us some grief about wasting money by employing a removal company and not just getting a hire van and doing some work ourselves. When she rocked up at 3pm and saw these vans I think she understood!
And besides. It was quite hard work watching.

A few snaps before we started to dump boxes everywhere gives you an idea of some of the downstairs space:
Kitchen: to be replaced very soon I hope.
Dining room leading to sun lounge (through 60's arch to be squared off soone I hope and with oh so dated wood pannelling!), leading through those white double doors ( which for some inexplicable reason only have handles on one side) to the lounge

Oh aren't empty rooms so interesting?!

Out the sun room you come to the garden

From upstairs you get views
Although these have now disappeared. I fear they may be steak.
Little sister, despite her scorn turned out to be quite helpful in getting us settled, scrubbing away happily.

Even that day we had produce from the garden

and one of my first acts in the house was to make this delicious plum cake from Nigella's Domestic Goddess Book
And yes, I know and no I could not wait!
As I expect you can tell, the house needs work in every room so we shall be doing bits as we go along starting as soon as we stop going away for holidays (Bath for the next fortnight and California for me in the first fortnight of October, Ireland for Dennis. And don't be taking his side on that one. It was his choice!).
We are glad that the frst task - due to be completed in three weeks - was always going to be replacement of the hot water system with a combi-boiler as this week the hotwater stopped heating then the pipes started to make alarming screaming sounds that caused us to have to stop even trying to heat the water. Clearly Something Is Not Right!

I have inspiration for all this work in the form of my old school friend ( well, she is not old, not much older than me anyway, but you know what I mean!) who now uses the moniker Working Mum. She is posting the before and after photos of her house renovation on her blog  and I am glad to say is visiting soon when I hope she will reassure me that there is life after inherited white anaglypta wallaper and faded mottled brown carpets everywhere!