A Covid-19 prayer for our society

Lord, we pray,

… for wisdom for governments, officials, and business leaders who have to make far reaching decisions with limited information and so many uncertainties,

that they will make decisions that are fair, bearable to those affected, and which save lives and jobs.

… for insight, courage and inspiration for church leaders and missionaries,

that they will honour you as they find ways to grow, encourage and support the church and to reach out to the community around us.

… for health workers and other carers and key workers who face increased pressures and responsibilities,

that they will feel valued and will have the strength to endure.

… for children and young people who have had their education interrupted, who are missing their friends and their usual activities,

that they and their parents will find new, constructive and enjoyable ways to learn valuable life lessons, to keep in contact, and to keep active.

… for those waiting to get married, unable to be together and struggling to make and fulfil their plans,

that this time will develop trust, patience and character, and that when their day does come, it will be even better than they ever hoped for.

… for new parents bringing children into an uncertain world,

that they will get the help, advice and support that they need, and that this will be a time of hope and excitement for them as a family.

… for those whose income has dried up,

that they find ways to make ends meet and will get the support and help that they need.

… for those whose finances are secure,

that they will have compassion and help others in need and that they will use their time and money wisely.

… for those who are isolated and lonely,

that you will draw them to yourself, that they will know your presence and peace, and that they will find appropriate ways to keep in touch with friends and family.

… for the vulnerable and those who are taken advantage of,

that they will find the way to safety and the strength to make that journey.

… for our society,

that we will emerge stronger, more caring and more supportive of each other, and with a more sustainable economy that better cares for the world we live in.

… that evil will be dealt blow after blow,

that corruption and inefficiencies will be exposed under the strain of the current times,
that selfish attitudes and behaviours will become less acceptable, and that the wrongdoers will turn away from their past.

… that we will give glory and honour to the one and only true God,

the one who loves us despite all our weaknesses and imperfections,
the one who gave his life for us that we can be free from sin,
the one who is there to comfort us, guide us, and support us, at all times and in all circumstances.


No internet on Windows 10 when WiFi connected

I’ve been struggling with my WiFi connection on Windows 10 for a while.  It would connect but not get access to the internet, or perhaps connect and work perfectly for a while – anything from a few minutes to a day or so – and then lose connection to the internet even though it was still connected to the WiFi point.  Restarting my laptop didn’t usually fix it, but restarting the access point usually did, so I assumed the issue was with the WiFi point.  However, I recently upgraded our WiFi point and the issues still occurred.

Searching on the web produced plenty of ideas to try, but none of them worked.  My laptop came with Windows 10 pre-installed and most of the advice related to machines that had been upgraded to Windows 10.

I eventually found an anonymous comment on a post on microsoft.com relating to Windows Vista which suggested turning off IPv6 which indicated “I fix many computers each day, it’s my job…  so If this doesn’t fix your prob then I’d really like to know cos it hasn’t failed me yet “.  I gave it a go, and my internet connection was restored.  A week later, I still haven’t seen any recurrence of the problem, so I am confident that the problem is fixed.

Clearly, this fix won’t work if you need IPv6, but I’m still using IPv4, as are the majority of users, especially in home networks.

Hopefully this will help someone else!

WiFi adaptor settings
WiFi adapter settings on Windows 10

Holocaust Memorial Day 2015

Holocaust Memorial Day falls on the 27th January each year, the anniversary of the liberation of the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, 70 years ago today.  This is a day to pause, to grieve for the loss to humanity, and to remember those less fortunate than ourselves.

But it is not a day to be proud that we were not part of the abomination of the holocaust.  The rest of the world knew it was coming, and most countries did nothing to help. The Évian Conference in July 1938 warned of what was coming, and Hitler openly stated he would help the Jews leave if they had somewhere to go.

So unless you are a citizen of the Domincan Republic, today is also a day to reflect on the guilt of your own nation.

For all of us, it is a day to resolve to protect and help the vulnerable, whether that’s an elderly neighbour, an orphan on the other side of the world, or a community of people facing extinction at the hands of other men.

Moving Picasa from Windows XP to Windows 7

I love Google’s Picasa application for managing photos, but I have been putting off migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7 for some time.  Blogs and forums show that this is a troublesome task that often results in people losing their face recognitions, etc.

It seems that Google have not provided a mechanism for restoring a Picasa backup onto a new machine with a different directory structure.  Instead of a Picasa backup, I used a backup of my photo directories and a backup of my Picasa database, but you could modify my procedure to get this to work with a Picasa backup.

So, for my own future reference, and hopefully to help others, here are the simple, though time consuming, steps.

  1. Restore the photos to the correct locations.  This is essential.  The Picasa database refers to photos in specific locations, so if these are wrong, you will lose things such as your face recognitions.  I had to create a Documents and Settings directory on Windows 7 and put my photos in the correct place under there, matching the exact orignal paths.  I also had to use an external drive for the photos that had been on a separate E: partition on my old PC.  If you are unsure what the original paths were, you can find these in the watchedfolders.txt file in the Picasa2Albums application data directory (see step 2 if you are not sure where to find this).
  2. Copy the 2 picasa directories from settings/Google. Both of the Picasa directories are needed: Picasa2 and Picasa2Albums.  Make sure you put them in the correct location on the new machine.  The precise location of the application data directory will vary, but on XP is likely to be under the user’s Local Settings / Application Data / Google and on W7 to be under the user’s AppData / Local / Google.  There are two Picasa directories, one called Picasa2 and the other called Picasa2Albums.
  3. Install the latest version of Picasa.
  4. Run Picasa. If you sign on with your Google account, you will need to use the same account as previously so that the contact information matches.  I don’t sign on and Picasa just uses a local contacts file which it keeps in its settings directory.  At this stage, you will be able to tell if everything has worked.
  5. Use Picasa to move photos to the correct location.  It is important that photos are moved using Picasa if you want it to keep track of them and associated data, such as face recognitions.  Set Picasa to watch the new directories before you move, use the tree view in Picasa and move directories to their new location.  In my case, I wanted the photos moved from C:\Documents and Settings to C:\users and from E:\ to C:\users.
  6. Tidy up the temporary photo locations. In my case, I had to delete the temporary directories from E:\ and the temporary Documents and Settings directory.

Enjoy Picasa on your new machine!

Compacting Outlook ost files

In order to free up some disk space, I tried compacting my Outlook 2007 .ost file earlier this week.  This should happen automatically in the background when my PC is idle, and it probably has been, but my file was large and manually executing the compacting function saved me around 20% of the file size.

However, today, and quite by accident, I discovered a much better way of reducing the size of the .ost file and got it down by another 50%, or, in other words, reducing it to 40% of the original size.

Important: this method does not work with .pst files.  Only use it on .ost files which are a copy of data held on your exchange server.  If you are not sure what that means, do ask someone who does know before you try this.

My laptop failed to wake up from hibernation and I had to do a full reboot, and when I tried to launch Outlook I discovered that my .ost file was corrupt.  There is a tool called scanpst which will attempt to repair .ost and .pst files, but then I wondered what would happen if I just deleted the corrupt file; all the data in the file is also on the Exchange server, so presumably Outlook could re-create the .ost file.  A quick search on google confirmed that this would work, so after renaming my .ost file (just in case it didn’t work), I restarted Outlook.

Outlook started with an empty calendar, empty mailbox, and empty contacts, but as soon as I tried to open one of the relevant folders, it started to download the contents of that folder from the server.  I picked the folders I needed most immediately (such as my inbox) so that it would do them first, and then tried opening each of the other folders in turn to ensure that they were downloaded.  Outlook downloaded more than one folder at a time.

The biggest folder was my inbox and that took a couple of hours to complete, but the big surprise, when it had all finished, was that the .ost file was only half the size of the old one, even when that old one had been compacted.  Further, the time taken to create the new one was a lot less than the time taken to compress the old one, and I was able to use Outlook while the download took place.  When compressing a .ost file, it is not possible to do anything else with Outlook, and due to the significant disk activity, other things on the PC run slowly.

Next time I need to compress my .ost file, I will simply be creating a new one.


Numbered lists in Microsoft Word

For some time I’ve been thinking that I must make better use of styles when creating documents in Microsoft Word.  They are there to help provide consistent formatting in the document you are working on, and if you get them right it is then easy to apply consistent formatting across all the documents that you create.

However, I’ve always found them a bit difficult to understand, and have therefore never really got the correct styles set up to allow me to gain the benefit of them.

Recently, I have been working on a document which consists mainly of multilevel numbered lists.  The effort of trying to get them right without styles was proving too much.  I concluded that the effort to work out the styles and how to apply them correctly was going to be quicker than persevering the old way.

Multilevel numbered lists are even harder to work out than regular styles.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know what I wanted, it was working out where to find the correct option to set the value that was needed.  This involved many searches on Google, where I found most of what I needed, but the biggest problem was working out how to fix the indentation.  In trying to solve this one, I found a great page on multilevel numbered lists that not only explained how to fix my indents, but also explained a few others things that I had either done badly or where I had not yet needed to know the answer.

So, if you are trying to solve style problems with multilevel numbered lists, take a look at Word 2007: Taming multilevel list numbering.

If you want to learn about styles in general though, this would also be a good place to start.  If you can master styles in multilevel numbered lists, you can probably cope with any style related issue in Microsoft Word.

Having got to the point that I now understand styles and how they work, I will be making much greater use of them.  It was worth the effort to do so.

Moving WordPress to my root directory

I’ve now moved my WordPress site to the root of my web site, and I’m pleased to say that the task was much simpler than I expected.

The WordPress installation remains in the same place. All I had to do was log in to WordPress, change the URL for the site address, and then copy and amend a couple of files on my web server. I didn’t need to update my permalinks structure, even though the instructions at codex.wordpress.org suggested that I would need to.

I did do one extra thing though, as I don’t want to confuse Google into thinking that I am trying to confuse it’s search ranking algorithms.  The old blog links still work and so I therefore appear to have two identical WordPress sites.  Google can penalise you for this in their search rankings.  I removed the old blog subdomain name using my web hosting account.

Postscript: removing the subdomain name did cause a rather nasty complication.  Once the DNS entries propogated, WordPress stopped working.  I had used the subdomain in the WordPress URL and the solution was to update the WordPress URL to use a subdirectory of the main site.

Unpalitable Cookies

For some time I have been dreading the task of making my website compliant with the new EU legislation on cookies, but as the end of the 12 month period compliance period approaches, I have finally taken a look at what I needed to do.

I do believe that the legislation is badly thought out, is almost un-enforcable and would fail to achieve its intention even if it was enforceable, but I want to comply rather than risk owning the random web site that is used as a test case.

I used cookies to allow visitors to indicate which version of my site they wanted (US or UK; mobile or desktop) and then to automatically return to that version on their next visit. This is not a privacy issue as I don’t record the information anywhere, but it is no longer legal unless I ask the user for permission to store the cookie. To request a users permission without making the site look silly and without annoying the user was going to take more time than I have to spare for this task, so the simple solution was to stop using these cookies.

But I have also used Google adwords extensively on the site. And adwords uses cookies. I don’t even have a mechanism whereby I can stop those cookies being saved or accessed. So I need to remove adwords.

My earning from adwords have been miniscule, so this is not a financial issue, but simply removing adwords would leave a lot of blank bits in my web site.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this, so I’ve decided what to do. This WordPress blog only uses cookies that are permitted, though if I had allowed comments on my posts, that would be a different matter. I am going to drop my original site and promote my blog to take its’ place. I will then republish the information that was on my original site as a series of blog posts over a period of time.

I thought my original site was clever, and it was my baby so I am attached to it; but it was rather overcomplicated for the purpose and for the number of visitors it received. Maybe the ICO has done me a favour.

Where has my hard disk space gone?

It always happens eventually. I’ve had my latest laptop for about a year, and the other day I got that dreaded message that my hard drive was almost full. I’ve used various tools in the past to analyse where the space has gone, but the latest one I have found beats them all by a mile.

WinDirStat is a free Windows disk analysis tool. You tell it which drive(s) to analyse and it quickly gets to work, eventually producing a three pane output of results.

Pane 1 (top left of the screen) is a list of your top level directories ordered with the largest first (though you can change the sort order if somthing else is more useful to you). Clicking the [+] beside an entry opens up the next level down, again ordered by size. This is a great way to find the biggest directories on your hard drive. It’s amazing how many big directories you can simply remove all together. You can delete directly from this pane, either deleting to the Recycling bin or deleting permanently.

Pane 2 (top right of the screen) lists file types and the amount of space occupied by each type. Again, this is ordered by space occupied and you can change the sort order. So now I know that 17% of my hard drive is filled with Outlook data files. I’m not going to simply remove those files, but that lets me know that there is scope to save significant space if I can go into Outlook and purge some old emails.

The third pane (at the bottom of the screen) is a graphical representation of the hard drive. Each file is represented by a rectangle. The larger the file, the larger the rectangle (though I don’t know if the smallest files are ignored or aggregated into a rectangle together). The rectangles are colour coded by file type. Clicking on a rectangle opens the entry in the first pane, so that you can see the details of the file; Clicking on a directory or file in the first pane highlights it on the third pane.

Great tool, great UI. Did exactly what I needed. Highly recommended.

A final thought, it’s almost worth getting just to see the Pacman style progress bars as it chomps its way through your hard drive, analysing what is where!


There are many differing political and religious views on Jerusalem, but most agree on one thing – it is a special and significant place. A team including Jews, Arabs, Christians and Muslims have been working on a 3D Imax movie which focuses on Jerusalem.

My only disappointment is that we’ll have to wait another couple of years for the release.  In the meantime, I suggest that you watch the trailer below; it’s best in full screen.

Jerusalem | Filmed in Imax 3D from JerusalemGiantScreen on Vimeo.

May Jerusalem be at peace, and may you find peace in your heart,