Featured

Welcome

Thanks for dropping by. There is a variety of stuff on my website mainly because my life has been a mixture of IT and Walking. Walking is the latter bit as I had been stuck in an office for 18 years and did little adventuring over the weekends. That has now changed and I get out as often as I can, there is so much to discover. This website is quite new so please pop by again soon for updates. Thanks.

A view from the Teign Valley

This was taken on 1st October 2018. I had taken a trip to Fingle Bridge with intention of getting up Wooston Hill fort as well as walking to Clifford Bridge. I never did make it to Clifford bridge because I found an old Land Rover (I think that’s was it is) in the woods off the left side of the main path, it’s well overgrown and I don’t think one would see it unless you were down there. Still, not much beats the sight of a valley of trees and the silence of nature. It was worth the climb. Bigger image here.

 

Best Value Antivirus and Internet Security

So, Windows 10 comes with it’s own built in security! Great, that means I don’t need any extra anti virus or internet security software – right?

I get asked this question a lot. My answer usually is that one should always make sure you are as protected as you can be. Yes, windows 10 does have good built in security, but the constant quest to keep your computer safe and out of the cyber criminals hands is and always has been a two horse race. Many people choose free security software and that is fine, but if you want better, consider these.


Eset Internet Security

Windows 10 will not complain if you install an internet security program, it will happily work with it, this brings me to my second point. I’m often asked which security programs I recommend, there are two in the ‘Paid for arena’. Eset and Sophos.

 

Over the 20 years that I have been repairing computers two things stand out. The first is that those people who have a good, paid for internet security package tend to have fewer problems. When I do a site visit and check the computer for malicious software I often find that there is none or what there is has little of no effect on the machine. The second thing I find is that these two programs, Eset and Sophos tend to be very robust and not break.

What I mean by this is that the programs themselves don’t go wrong. I have been on many house calls where other popular and what we call ‘bundled’ (came preinstalled with the computer) security software has actually malfunctioned for some reason, and gone unnoticed by the owner. This then often involves fully stripping out the existing, malfunctioning software and reinstalling it, then updating it. I have not even mentioned the bit where the computer owner may have forgotten their password for the online account area of their security software provider – we can deal with that too.

My other annoyance with other brands is the constant up-sell. All of the free ones do it which is fair enough but there are two in particular that are always trying to sell you the next level. Driver updates, VPN etc. From my experience a great many people have no idea what these things are anyway. So, save yourself the hastle and grab one of these Eset or Sophos. They just stay in the background doing their job. 

Sophos is a little different in that it incorporates an online control centre where one can log in and see the status of all computers covered under the account and carry out admin tasks.

Here is the heads up;

Sophos  provides cover for  Windows computers, laptops and Mac. A full licence will cover up to 10 machines –  mobile phones are  covered and it’s called ‘Sophos Intercept X’,  Android,  IOS –  you can find them in the app store.  Eset is much the same but on their website one can choose how many devices to cover, as you add devices the cost increases accordingly. I am not sure if the Sophos Intercept X would be a separate mobile subscription or not – I will try and find out.

I have been a customer of Sophos security for three years in a row now to protect my families computers. For my mobile phone I use Eset smart security purchased via the Play Store on the phone. I don’t have a preference over Eset for my phone or Sophos for the computers – that is just the way it happened. Sophos have given me a discounted annual renewal as a loyalty which is nice, I think last year was less than £40 for all the families computers, very good value in my opinion. My mobile Eset subscription is paid for via my Google account and is about £11.99 a year.

 

Lets have a deeper explore of the reasons you may not need a VPN. Tom Scott knows a thing or two about computer science and cyber security, his video is well worth watching while you drink your coffee.

River Otter to Mutters Moor

I did this walk on 27th August 2018. During this lockdown I thought it would be something nice to see. The walk starts at South Farm Road, White bridge on the river Otter. It continues up alongside the river and up to Otterton Mill, then continuing from the other side of the bridge following the river Otter to Colaton Raleigh before heading up to Passaford Lane and Mutters Moor, this takes us to Peak Hill Sidmouth where one can walk the SW Coast path to Ladram Bay & Otterton and return to the car. 9.94 miles.Enjoy.

River Otter to Mutters Moor & Peak Hill Sidmouth

Keble’s Seat on Mutters Moor Sidmouth

Mutters Moor at Sidmouth offers stunning views over the Otter Valley and Dartmoor. It is a favourite walking spot for many as it s free car park offers a central place, an ideal location to start or finish a circular walk – and there are many to choose from. You can walk just around the moor itself or, plan something bigger to Sidmouth, Otterton and Ladram Bay or Colaton Raleigh, East Budleigh or Budleigh Salterton. There are plenty of hills and quite a few uneven footpaths, many of which get very muddy at certain times of the year. It is however, a fabulous place to walk around.

Keble's Seat Mutters Moor
Keble’s Seat on Mutters Moor

Towards the back of Mutters Moor there is a park bench where one can sit and enjoy stunning views over the Otter Valley and beyond. The sign beside the bench reads ‘Keble’s Seat’ In memory of John Keble – Anglican priest, theologian and poet. He was born April 25th 1792 and died March 29th 1866. Here are some of his poems and there is also a memorial bust commemorating him in the poets corner of Westminster Abbey In 2014 there was a tree planting ceremony in his memory at this, his favourite spot on Mutters moor – info here.

Windows 7 – The End of The Road

Windows 7 has been one of the most popular operating systems, the big brother of Windows Xp. Like all good things it has to come to an end, January 14th 2020 is the day – what are your option

The first consideration – Back-up your files!

The first thing that comes to mind is whether to upgrade or buy a new machine. If you are considering an upgrade then the following information is important, you need to make sure your computer can be upgraded. Here are the basic system requirements for Windows 10:

Processor:1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit 
Hard drive space:16 GB for 32-bit OS 32 GB for 64-bit OS
Graphics card:DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
Display:800×600

This information can be found on this Microsoft support page.

Taking into account the above figures I would encourage readers to consider the following:

These figures for RAM (aka memory), Display and Processor etc, are, minimal.

If your home Pc or laptop only just meets these requirements then I would strongly consider buying a new computer.

If your computer is more than 5 years old, it is also probably a good idea to think about a new one. There are exceptions – those computers that were top-of-the-range when bought, and whose specifications already well exceed the ‘recommended’ above, may well be OK. 

There is a comprehensive list on this Microsoft site to help you check whether or not your system and computer can be upgraded.

In my opinion, Windows 10 provides a far greater experience if it is running on a solid state drive (SSD). Providing the hard drive can be removed from your computer, it can almost certainly be replaced with a solid state drive. These types of drive are many times faster and absolutely quiet. There are also new computers now that have M2 SSD drives slotted straight into the motherboard – very fast and often worth the investment. In addition I would also recommend a memory upgrade if you have less than 4Gb. 

There is more information here about possible upgrade scenarios. I have not tested any of the tools on the last link, I cannot vouch for their performance.

These are only suggestions – having a professional assess your computer may well be the best option if you are not sure.

A word of caution. Upgrading your existing Windows 8.1 or Windows 7, SP1.

  •  Don’t expect all of your existing programs to work under Windows 10.
  • You MUST fully back up your data before an upgrade.
  • An upgrade can fail for a number of reasons.
  • Your system should be cleared of rubbish, adware and malware and consideration should be given to any older programs you still want to use.
  • Your computer’s performance could be reduced after an upgrade.
  • Be aware that you may need to upgrade to Office 365 as well.
  • Some older hardware may not be compatible – flatbed scanners etc.

There are some cases where legacy programs are still needed, as such it may be better to keep that computer for that program, have it disconnected from the internet and purchase a new computer for everything else.

If all is well and you want to upgrade, a Windows 10 licence will cost you £119.99 from Microsoft’s website

I offer a full consultation and upgrade service, only if I deem your computer suitable. There are various options of installing once a purchase has been made and you have downloaded the media creation tool. Full back ups of data are essential before upgrading.

In short, If your computer well exceeds the minimum requirements then there is usually no reason not to upgrade, providing the general health of your computer is good. There are other options, Linux – you may be surprised how good it is.

Please get in touch if you would like a visit and an assessment to consider the options. It’s not just about upgrading to Windows 10 but making sure you do it right. All consultations are charged at my normal rate of £45 per hour. An onsite consultation usually lasts 60 to 90 minutes.

Thank you.

07895 098 137

Local farm conservation & ecology tour

It was wonderful today to be given a tour and plenty of information on farming, ecology and conservation. There is so much to take in but every week my knowledge increases. I have today joined the Devon Wildlife Trust and an envelope will be posted tomorrow to join the Axe Valley & District Conservation Society. Another walk planned for this Thursday, not sure where yet though.

Pennywort

Pennywort / Navelwort

Dandelion Coffee

Dandelion coffee. I have wanted to give this a go for a while. It is a way for me to begin reconnecting with the natural world and what it has to offer. To start foraging one really does not have to trudging through the countryside in search of those edible plants that most of us simply ignore on our walks, our very own back garden can be a great source and this is how I got started on the dandelion coffee.

My partner who does most of the gardening, OK, all of it actually. He shouted through the door “Would you like a dandelion root?”, “Yes please”. I needed no more persuasion and by the time I was off to work it was sitting on the kitchen worktop awaiting my attention.

The jug in the picture is just my preparation of peppermint tea, I take a flask to work daily. So, according to the SAS Survival guide that I’m slowly reading the root should not be peeled but simply washed and scrubbed to get rid of the mud, trim the green bits off and that’s it. Ready to bake

I popped this onto an oven proof dish and baked it in the oven at 150C for an hour. The SAS Survival Guide says it should be cooked until brittle and after and hour this is what I got. I tested it by pressing against the hot baked root with the back of a spoon, it cracked and crunched with relative ease, I was happy. Left to cool I then transferred it all into a bowl and began slowly crushing with the spoon. I did not want to use anything more sophisticated because in a wild camping situation you are very unlikely to have a blender with you.

The result was more pleasant than I was expecting, the more I crushed the root the smell of coffee began to emerge and once I was done it both smelled like and had the look and feel of coffee. This is completely caffeine free. I don’t drink coffee but I was willing to give this a go. I would say it could be improved with a drop of honey but that really is a personal taste, although very palatable in my opinion it had a slightly bitter edge but nothing I couldn’t put up with.

Making the coffee is simple, make it just as you would an ordinary cup of coffee with just the same amount you would have on your spoon but keep it black for now. Once made it then needs straining into another mug because the bits do not dissolve. That’s it, just add whatever sweetener or milk you want and enjoy. I have put mine in a small airtight container for next time i want it but next spring I intend to make more.