My #Christmas Day row. It was all meant to be love and harmony and I thought they would be pleased

A friend had brought me the dvd of Chicken Run (which I had never yet seen). I showed to my chickens.

They asked was I sure it was meant for me and not for them. Now, I am fond of them as friends but they do have a tendency to snatch at things. I replied that it was mine but I was willing to share. They then insisted that instead of them coming to me, as there are five of them and only one of me, I should visit them in their house and we should all watch it together. Anything to avoid a scene on Christmas Day, I thought. So I agreed.

Well it was such a squash and I only mentioned once that I had got some of their bedding on my clothes when I bumped my head on one of their perch bars, but that is when it all kicked off.


I think at the bottom of it all is the bedding. I have been putting shredded rape stems on the bottom of their coop (really sold as horse bedding) but they preferred the old stuff, shredded hemp stems with bit of eucalyptus pellet to give a scent (also for horses).

I don’t know why they went on about. But then they said if got it again they wouldn’t smoke it. Smoke it?! That would have never entered my head had they not placed the thought there. Did they smoke it? I remember a smell in the summer and I had thought it was a particularly fruity bonfire. But come to think of it it did have that special smell.

I tried to change the subject and tried to cheer them up by showing them another present I had received, a plastic gadget to make square shaped boiled eggs. Big mistake! They said it was “not respectful”.

I will let them out for a wander along the street this afternoon, then I will give them some mixed corn and they will have forgotten about it by tomorrow morning.

I wish they would stop going on about that hemp bedding though. They keep glaring at me.

Merry Christmas. And as Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, everyone.”

Living with my new phone. The Sony Xperia Z Ultra the biggest HD screen phone in the world #xperiazultra #xperiaz


This is supposed to be the largest HD phone if the world. I did wonder if it would be too big. My previous phone was a Samsung Galaxy Note, and before that I used a Dell Steak with the 5.5inch screen. So I like using large screen phones.

Before buying my Z Ultra I had to know if it would be too big for carrying in my pocket. I knew that as I usually wear a jacket I could probably cope, but I was still not sure so…

I cut out two bits of cardboard from a cereal packet, the exact size of the Z Ultra, and taped them together. You think that is mad? I also filled the cavity with pound coins so the package was the exact weight of an Ultra. I sealed it up then carried it about in various pockets to see if this would be a phablet too far. I came to the conclusion the Z Ultra is about the size of an old fashioned tall man’s wallet. And I decided I could cope.


Don’t I feel embarrassed taking calls with that huge sleek sheet of black glass? No! I don’t care what others think because I know it is a great phablet. I don’t use my phone as a phone very much. I use my phones much more as a reader, emailer, diary, bible, word processor, internet browser, satnav, map, list and note taker, scanner, etc. Although I do use my old Bluetooth earpiece more now. What with that and the Sony Smartwatch I find I am doing a lot of stuff without even taking it out of my pocket or bag.

Having been using it for almost two weeks now I can say that this is a fabulous bit of kit. The screen is gorgeous for viewing anything. It was just right for watching a rented movie on a train journey. The battery life is incredible compared to my Galaxy Note 1 that I was using previously, and that is without putting it into ‘stamina mode’ which extends battery life to last more than a week on a single charge.

With a 2.2 Ghz quad core, Snapdragon processor it is more powerful than many desktop and laptop computers.

I liked the SPen on the Samsung Galaxy Note but with the Z Ultra I can use almost any pen or pencil to do pretty much the same things.

I love the magnetic charger bit on the side. No more fiddling with a micro USB getting it into the slot, just touch to the magnetic port and it gets going. As well as a spare magnetic charging lead, I got the magnetic charging stand, both of the cheap on Ebay.

I have my Ultra in a flip/book style case as I found the thing so slippery that I feared I would drop it. Now it looks very like an old fashioned black notebook in my hand.

I got mine from eGlobal. they were far cheaper than buying it in the UK and would use them again. An elegant task list manager for phone, tablet, etc but I dumped it as a security risk


Astrid used to be my list manager of choice but then, when it closed down, I moved over to I had some irritations with it but it all came to a head when I tried to change my password.

After the security breach at Adobe I decided to see if any of my passwords could do with being updated using the LastPass password creator. I changed passwords on a few sites and then came to to change it there.

Try as I might I could not find any way to change the password. I Googled, I searched the app settings – nothing. There is no “change password” option in the app’s settings. So there is no obvious way to change your password.

I emailed and got a swift reply telling me I could change my password through the app in settings. I could not! I emailed again with the full list of the options in ‘settings’ showing that a password change was not one of them.

Another reply came telling me to click on the “Forgot Password” feature on the log in page and follow through the prompts as if you forgot your password. Ah, I thought, you mean on a desktop, in a browser? To do it that way you have to have the Chrome extension installed. I had been trying to do all this my phone where most of my usage takes place. I followed those instructions by going on to the desktop, logging out of the Chrome extension, then instead of logging in again I entered my email address and clicked the ‘forgot password button’. sent me a ‘rest password’ link and I finally succeeded.

It was when I was searching for that information that I can across the mention that Any.Do transmits Passwords in plaintext. Link to the site here.


The site went on to say: Some of you may be interested to know that the Task Management and TODO-list Application, Any.Do, happily transmits your password and just about everything else in plaintext.

Why is that a problem? can be linked to contacts in Gmail. It can also have access to browser tabs, etc. A security weakness like that compromises the whole machine.



I have moved over to Wunderlist.

Some day I may be tempted to go minimalist and retro with plain text. Now there are apps to manage a plain text todo such as Todo.txt for Android and iPhone, or for my Ubuntu desktop there is Day Tasks.

Thinking of taking the plunge? My Smart Watch of choice is a Sony Smartwatch 2

The Galaxy Gear only partners with a few of the Samsung phones (not all) and the Pebble, though it has much in it’s favour (such as the long battery life due to the low power black and white e-ink display) has fewer apps and functions. The Google smartwatch (Google Gem),  is supposed to be out soon but no sign of it as yet.

See the 10 must-have functions on someone’s wish list when they were looking ahead to what functionality a smart watch needed to include.


The Sony Smartwatch claims it will work with most android phones but is that the case or does it need to partner with a Sony phone? Well the answer is both yes and no.

I ordered them together but as the watch arrived first I connected it to my Galaxy Note 1. I discovered that though there are watch apps that are extensions of dedicated Sony phone apps, there is still plenty of functionality with a generic android phone.

Leaving my non Sony phone in my pocket I can…

  • Feel the watch vibrate to alert me that a Gmail has arrived. I look at the watch and the first few lines of the email is displayed together with the identity of the sender. If a few have arrived at once I can swipe them sideways to go forward or back.
  • As above the phone will vibrate to alert be to an SMS (or this one) which can be read like an email. The same with Facebook messaging. Another app deals with Google+.
  • Consult my calendar.
  • Consult a shopping list I sent from my phone earlier using either Smart Note or Daily Helper. Daily helper is good for reminders or shopping list and notes if you know how to use it. The app comes with no instructions. Make sure you watch the video on Google Play, where you find the app, or you will be lost trying to figure out how it works.
  • If I have hands-free earphones, or bluetooth headset I can touch the phone to answer a phone call that I can hear in my ears without taking the phone out of pocket or bag. Without the headset the call will be answered but the caller will be talking in my pocket! In the same way I can dial a number and make a call, again, leaving the phone out of sight.
  • Toggle on/off sound, data, wifi, GPS and airplane mode. And another here.
  • Launch a variety of actions with the use of voice commands after using the watch as a trigger.
  • See where I am, displayed on Google maps. So if I am following a route in a city, I can do it more discreetly that holding the phone in front of my face.
  • Go running and use the smartwatch as a fitness aid as, using the GPS of the phone, it behaves like a GPS running watch.
  • Control music playlists with the usual stop, go, next track, etc.

The list could go on including the less useful and the odd, such as remotely controlling the camera of the phone to use it as a spy cam or recorder, myriad choice of watch faces

Oh, and it tells the time, like a watch. Even with the standard default watch face it looks super cool.

I had thought that with a Sony phone the Sony Smartwatch becomes far more powerful, and the range of possibilities increases, as it integrates with the native Sony apps. But the Sony extensions work great with my Samsung Galaxy apps.

Manual for the Sony Smartwatch2 SW2 is here, in English, French, German and Spanish. Sony Smartwatch2 SW2 manual

What I learned from my first marathon running the #yorkmara

It was a great day and the event was well managed. I am delighted I could be a part of it.

But have you seen the York Press pics? Even before they set off those Kenyans looked fast. They all looked built for speed. I have seen more fat on a butcher’s pencil! As I approached my starting zone they were heading off for a last minute warm up run. I have recently been reading about how the Kenyan runners train in ‘Running with the Kenyans’ by Adharanand Finn. He tells about their training camps and the total dedication they give to their training. They do little other that run, eat and sleep.

I was not quite so fast. If you read my previous post about my preparations you may have wondered how it went.

The shoes were great and didn’t cause any discomfort at all, in fact they were just right. But the gels?!

However, I have now discovered I have not got the knack of opening those little gel packs while running. I found I had to stop for a few seconds each time to down them. I also found that I completely lost track of when I had taken one and when the next one was due. I need a better system next time.

The weather was good, though a bit warmer than I had expected and I was soon wishing I had worn something cooler. I had foolishly worn leggings and a long sleeve top. Wrong! The periods of torrential rain did not appear, or perhaps they were forecast for a different location. I should have listened more carefully to the weather forecast.

Would more rubbish bins along the route have been good? If we had some every mile or so we may not have seen all those empty gel packs lying on the road. Out of the city people were offering trays of jelly babies – how kind. If I were giving them a suggestion I would say some gel wrapper bins would be great here and there.

Talking of gels, many runners have special belts to hold their nutrition gels. Some of those belts obviously don’t work, evidenced by the number of full gel packs lying on the road that must have dropped out of badly designed belts, leaving their owners disappointed when the time comes to fish one out.

What a day though. The runners are preoccupied at the start and tired at the finish, but for the spectators it is a real party atmosphere and a great spectacle. One spectator said to me, “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world!” the organisation was excellent and the number of volunteers is a credit to the city of York. I can not imagine the amount of income it will generate the city in the years ahead as it becomes better known and able to include more competitors.

Nearly forgot, how did I do? At least I finished, but at about mile 17 something went in my right hip and I was in great pain. I had to walk long stretches in those final miles. I finished at a half a minute less than 4:30. I don’t know if anything could have prevented my injury but already I am thinking that next time I will aim to fit in more long runs as part of my training. I would certainly like to do it in less that 4 hours. I think I can do that, apart from injury.


Heading for a personal best at the York marathon 2013

Of course I am as, although I have done long runs before, I have never raced in a marathon. So it is bound to be my personal best even if I end up crawling over the finish line.

Only a few days to go now and it already too late now to add any more miles to my tank. All training is complete and it is now just easy runs to keep myself flexible and to preserve energy for Sunday.

I am now at the point where I am trying to make up my mind what to carry for nutrition such as which gel, or whether to stick with jelly babies (which have been fine on long runs previously). I could not get on with the SIS gels I tried but I have found the Highfive ones just right. Highfive even have a guide on their website about how many I am likely to need for a marathon.



I have often used the Highfive Zero tablets for hydration and my only complaint with them is that they fizz in the bottle as they dissolve so that when I run along and want a slurp I have to open carefully or I get a squirt in the eye – which has happened a few times.

I have decided on the shoes I will wear, as I have used them for a while and they don’t rub anywhere and are nice and light. They are a pair of Lunaglide+4 that I got less than half price at TKMaxx.


Am I optimistic about how it will go? I hope to finish in under 4 hours which in normal conditions should be okay. Problem for me is that I am not quite recovered from a sinus infection which has been making me feel as though I have flu and has been slowing me down on my training runs. Also, my left Achilles tendon is still sore to the touch after injuring it in July when I ran from Bristol to Bath. On a flat cycle path of all places! Don’t know how I managed that. But yes I am optimistic.

At church they are raising money for charity (Biojemmss) by guessing my finish time so I hesitate being too precise about what I expect. I aim to enjoy it though.


Excellent coffee, laptop hire, walls of second hand books at Black Books Cafe


And all to the sound of trad jazz.

This is just the place to be in Stroud. Situated in the old art deco Co-op building. A place of tranquillity and delight.

I almost forgot to mention the basket of knitting for anyone to add some rows to. That is what Penny is doing.

For the eagle eyed, yes that is a Maker Bot Replicator 2 behind her. Not often you come across one of those.