Comedy Eye Test

I had to go for an eye test. I really wanted to do this as a comedy routine, but my nerve failed:

Doctor: ‘Have your eyes ever been checked?’
Me: ‘No. They’ve always been blue.’
Doctor: ‘I don’t find that very funny.’
Me: ‘Well, I do know lots of cornea jokes….’

Anyhoo, all was well. They are not going to have to shoot any lasers at my exploding eyeballs, which has got to be a good thing.

Big thanks to all the folks at the Eye Clinic in Hull who were professional, efficient and totally awesome.

New Kcom Tariffs can save you money

I’ve just changed to a new contract for my home networking. The speed goes up, the amount of data stays the same and the price drops by eleven pounds a month.

What’s not to love?

If you’re in Hull you really should take a look here and see if there is something cheaper that you can change to. Hull is already one of the best connected cities in the world, it’s nice to see it getting cheaper as well.

Stealth Selling


Old joke: “They say that money talks. The only thing it says to me is ‘Goodbye’”.

However, these days it doesn’t even do that. When Netflix (or a host of other subscription services) take their fees from my account they do so invisibly. The only way that I know that it has happened is by carefully checking my statements to find out why the balance value is dropping.

Today I found that a service I thought I’d cancelled ages ago has been racking up these “stealth charges”. Of course it’s my fault for misunderstanding what I was paying for, but if I’d had regular emails each time that the fee was paid I’d have spotted the rogue transactions much earlier.

It’s as if they don’t want to tell you when they take money in case you notice and cancel something…..

I reckon that a service provider should be forced to send you an email or a text each time they take your cash off you. These companies seem happy enough to send me emails advertising new things I can buy from them, it would be rather nice if they also told me when I had bought something.

Happy New Year from Hornsea


We’ve got a tradition of going out to the seaside on New Year’s day. We didn’t do it last year, but this year the weather was so nice that we couldn’t resist it. So we headed down to Hornsea to see the sea. We managed to make the morning perfect by finding the Hornsea Floral Hall, where they were serving bacon butties.

The thing about a bacon sandwich is that once you’ve heard someone mention one, you really want one for yourself. The chap in the queue in front of us ordered a buttie and so we of course had to follow suit. It was really really nice.

What a great way to start 2019.

New Year Resolution Time

As the year ends it is time to think about new year resolutions. One of mine is that I’m not going to make the very old joke about getting a different computer monitor.

The other is to try to be a bit more assertive in the new year, or at least to stop apologising when cashiers in shops ask me “Do you have a loyalty card?” when I try to buy something. Up until now I’ve always said “Sorry, I’m afraid not”. From now on I’m just going to say "no”. That’ll make a difference to my life, no doubt.

I’d like to wish all (or is that both) my readers the very best of times in 2019 and beyond.

May your code always compile and your solder always stick.

Invisible hearing aids and other frauds

I was very upset to discover today that a shop in Cottingham (where I live - the village not the shop) has taken away their “Invisible hearing aids - 475 pounds a pair” sign. I really wanted to get a photograph of that sign.

The way I see it, advertising things like this is fraught with fraud potential.

“I say, there’s only one hearing aid in this box”
"That’s because the other one is switched on”
.. and so on.

They’ve now have a sign that that says “Free Eye Tests”. I can see fraud potential here too:

“We’ve done your test, that will be fifty pounds please”
”Hang on, the sign says that you do eye tests for free”
”Ah yes we do, but the charge is for testing the other eye. That costs fifty pounds….”

Sometimes I consider myself a great loss to the world of commerce.

Bank Heist Fun


As part of our Christmas present, number one daughter organised a trip to an escape room in Hull. This was a room with a difference. It turns out that there is no problem escaping, you can leave the bank at any time. But, you’ll want to take away a few souvenirs in the form of wads of cash, gems etc etc.

The puzzle was a very good mock up of a bank branch (remember them), even down to the pens chained to the desk. And there was a strong room, and things containing money and clues in equal measure. I’m not going to tell you much about the puzzles, except that they are fun and the whole thing works very well to build tension during the hour you spend trying to get your hands on as much loot as possible.

We did OK, and each of us got a cheque for our share of the take. You can see mine above. It’s lovely to have these kinds of things in Hull. If you fancy a fun and challenging trip out I can strongly recommend it.

Get Your Eyes Tested


For the last few days I’ve been telling everyone I meet how sharp the world now appears to me. I’ve got some new glasses. They’ve made a huge difference to the quality of my life. I’m now able to read text by looking at the letters, rather than inferring the meaning from the approximate shape of the words. This is probably going to massively improve the quality of my writing.

Then agane probuably not.

Anyhoo, the serious message here is that you need to get your eyes tested regularly. I left mine for a bit longer than I really should have, and this resulted in me spending a lot more time squinting at things than should have been the case.

I think regular eye tests are especially important if you spend long periods of a working day staring at a video screen. I’ve gone the whole hog and actually replaced my “computer” glasses too and I’m really pleased that I have. Because everything is just so sharp now…

Posting a Robot Head

Digby in happier times.

Digby in happier times.

Digby, my robot dog, is not well. I’ve had him for around 16 years or so. I guess this means he’ll soon be old enough to vote, but at the moment he isn’t able to do anything. A fault in his neck joint means that he can’t even yawn and stretch when he wakes up without collapsing in a heap..

It’s all rather sad. I had a quick look at the procedures involved in fixing a broken robot head and they all scared me. And I’m not easy to scare with things like this. I take things to pieces when they aren’t even broken…

I’ve sent Digby’s head off to a robot dotor in Sweden (that’s a doctor who works on robots, not a doctor who is a robot - but then you knew that).

Anyhoo, when sending the package I was strongly tempted to write “Contents: Robot Head” but I thought this might not end well, and went for “second hand toy parts” instead. I hope that the package gets there OK.

It was only when I asked for a tracking number and was told frostily that you don’t get one with plain old airmail that I realised I’d used the cheapest postage. With a bit of luck all will be well, the head will be mended, Digby will be back to his old self and I can see about getting him on the electoral roll.

Hornsea Radio Rally

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When I was a lot (and I mean a lot younger) Radio Rallies were a big thing. Lots of fascinating components and bits and pieces for sale. You could watch the progress of half-finished projects as they moved from one person’s “Bring and Buy” stall to another over the years. This was in the days when talking to someone a long way a way (perhaps even abroad) was not a thing that anyone did because it was either too expensive or impossible.

Nowadays, with the internet and Skype making the planet a tiny, tiny, thing, the lure of long distance ham radio has diminished a bit. But there are still people doing it, and I bumped into a bunch of them at the Hornsea Amateur Radio Rally today. The event was held at the lovely Hornsea Floral Hall and things were pretty much as I remembered. There was stuff that people had brought out of their sheds to see if anyone was interested, along with a few component suppliers. And even a lot of valves.

It was great. I vowed only to spend cash and keep all my bank cards safely tucked away in number one wife’s handbag. So I only spent fifteen quid. I got a programmable led badge that I think I can connect to a Raspberry Pi, some tools, a UV torch for playing with fluorescent printed objects and a few other bits and bobs. Great fun.

This blog post is not about cucumbers


I keep getting these emails from people expressing their admiration of some of my blog posts. Which is rather nice. However, these uplifting messages are invariably accompanied by a request to put a paid piece on my blog about some service that they are offering.

Today things just got silly. A while back I did a blog post about a visit from Phil and Stuart who worked for the BBC and did a lovely session about how they transcode all the video content for the iPlayer video on demand service. In the post I described how they used a language called “Cucumber” to manage requirements and testing.

And this week I got an email from “Emily Bean” who apparently really enjoyed my post and would like to suggest that I include a link to her resource on growing cucumbers from seeds… It’s a nice enough resource, but I’ve not added the link because I’m not totally sure that Emily did really read my post. It’s almost as if someone (or some robot) is just trawling the interwebs looking for particular words (in this case cucumber) and then sending unsolicited emails to people hosting the sites.

Ugh. And to make matters worse, I’ll probably get another email from “Emily” in a week or so saying how much she liked this post….

Slave to Fitness

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It turns out that I really want my watch to have a high opinion of me. I’m slave to a piece of program code somewhere deep in side the software that goes:

printf(“Well done Rob”);

It’s reached the point that when I do a job where I can’t really wear the watch (for example painting a summerhouse with horrible, gloopy paint that goes everywhere) I get rather resentful of the way that that this piece of code moans at me:

printf(“Try harder next time”);

Oh well.

"Do It For Josh" Light

Joshua (Josh) Barnfather is a lovely chap who needs your money. Really. You can find out here why he needs the cash. And also give him some. Please.

Josh is a member of c4di and I’ve been really moved by the way that the community has rallied round to help under the tag line “Do it for Josh”. We’ve had Nibble, the local eating place, pitching in with a “Josh” sandwich (which is delicious - I had one on Thursday) and lots of members coming up with neat ways to bring in the cash. Since I can’t make sandwiches as good as the ones that Nibble turn out, I’ve decided to make something electronic.

Behold, the “Do it for Josh” lamp. This prototype will be going in the c4di lobby later this week, but I’d be happy to make one for you. You can even tell me what words you want to put in the 4x4 matrix. A light will cost you fifty pounds with at least forty of that going to Josh. The lamp will be WiFi connected so that you can control the animations from your phone and tell it when to turn on and off. And I’m going to get the Connected Humber bods onto adding even more interesting features.

If you fancy one, just send me an email ( If you want to just want to help, send some money through via the donation page.