Ken Craymer

How do I do my homework?

June 6th, 2014 by Ken

I really had a chuckle when I read about and then watched a YouTube video about the group of American children aged between six and thirteen years old who were asked to try out an old Apple computer. Well the first hurdle was the fact that the 1970’s machine had no mouse and they could not quite grasp how to move around it.

After a lot of encouragement from an adult one of the kids managed to type in the word Google, only to be greeted on screen by the expression “syntax error”! Confronted by the terrible news from another adult that the internet was not invented when the computer was in use, the child exclaimed with horror, “how do you look up things for homework” you go to the library, “never” the child responds.

I relate this because it just shows the enormous strides that have been made in technology in a few short years. We now have little tablets with responsive screens that we can do a multitude of things that a state of the art computer couldn’t do in the seventies and early eighties. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that I could do my job today without the tablet that I carry around. The same goes for smartphones, they will now do just as much as the old style computer with its floppy discs and more I suspect.

There is no wonder that he kids were confused, I wonder just how many of you could work a 1970’s computer, not at all sure that I could.

Typing

Image: stuartpilbrow

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The great half term getaway

May 17th, 2014 by Ken

Although the late spring bank holiday is not the first one of the year it is probably the one when most of us decide it’s time to go away and spend a few days on holiday. Naturally quite a lot of us decide that a few days away in France or Spain are “just the ticket” but with the cost of air fares and cross channel travel being at a premium always when the school term is over, holidaying in this beautiful country of ours is the first option for most people with children.

Now I live in the northern part of the kingdom and judging by the number of cars that I have seen “bowling” up the road towards Scotland, this seems to be the place that most people are heading for. I know Scotland quite well and there is no denying that it has some lovely places to see and spend time in, but it does suffer a bit more than the southern part of the island from the weather.

Tourism plays a huge part in our economy and judging from the number of German, Dutch and Belgian number plates I have spotted on the road; it seems to be doing pretty well. The fact that we are in “Europe” has to be a big factor by making travel to and from continental Europe so easy, I have no idea of course what it would be like if we decided that we no longer wanted to be in “the club” time will tell of course should that happen. What I do remember though is the time before we were “European” and I certainly did not like the endless queue that we had to endure at passport controls and having little stamps put into our passports, but of course as we know, there is much more to it than that.

Oh well the sun is out and I’m afraid the grass has to be cut before it rains, enjoy your half term holiday!

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Publicising my presence

May 12th, 2014 by Ken

I’m no stranger to exhibitions having attended them for a great number of years now, but there is a subtle difference, I am not attending to represent my employer, I am my own employer and this time I will be exhibiting my services and bringing myself to a much wider audience.

The important thing when exhibiting, especially if you are a new player in the field is to ensure that as many people as possible know two things, first that there is an exhibition, and second that you are attending.

So this is all about publicising and I thought about the best way to do it, I could of course put an advertisement in trade magazines, newspapers, billboards etcetera, but all that cost money and to be successful, you need to spend a lot. So what about attaching self adhesive labels to my invoices, letters, and flyers that I use? I have seen this many times and I have to say that my attention has been drawn to items all because a label was attached to an invoice or letter.

So I contacted Datalabel and had a chat with them to see what ideas they could come up with having used them for a couple of different labels previously. They suggested the best way would be to use customised self adhesive labels, which could be supplied to me on a handy roll so that we could easily attached them to items such as invoices.

I sketched out my idea and they came back quickly with artwork for my approval and I received my labels within three days after I approved the artwork, they are of the highest quality, on a roll, beautifully printed. Oh well I better get sticking a few on some invoices that are due to be sent out, mustn’t waste any time, Datalabel didn’t.

Labels

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Beef ageing process

May 10th, 2014 by Ken

I am not a butcher and I do not pretend to know about the different cuts of beef and how they are prepared, but what I most certainly do know is that beef that is aged, by that I mean left hanging after it has been slaughtered for a period, is better than beef which is fresh.

I mention this because of a story that has broken in the newspapers about problems that have been found at a butcher’s premises owned and used by Jamie Oliver. I do not wish to comment about the problems that were found on the premises by health inspectors, it was the statement that “mould” as it has been described was found on carcass that were being aged. Apparently these are hung for up to 70 days, which I have to say is much longer than I would have thought necessary, but the mould is trimmed off before joints are prepared.

Ageing beef makes it tender, no question about it and my grandparents always shopped at a butcher that served only Argentinean beef. The reason for this, in those days, was straightforward, it had to be transported by refrigerated ship and the whole process took about 21 days, result perfect tender beef joints for Sunday lunch!

Well I do not think that we see much Argentinean beef today, but it is still possible to get steak from a well-known supermarket which is “aged” for a period of 21 days or more, and believe me you really can “taste the difference” when it is cooked on the barbecue!

beef ageing

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Straight glass or dimple?

April 30th, 2014 by Ken

Going back very many years when I was a lad, an apprentice so to speak, learning how to enjoy the taste of beer, the pubs that we frequented had only one type of glass, a jug with dimples in the glass with a handle. Of course it was not the done thing to hold the tankard by the handle, oh no, you slipped you hand through it and firmly grasped the glass with a thumb pressed into one of the dimples! My recollection is that you could get a straight sided glass, but you had to ask for it. However, some of the pubs “downtown” always served the foaming pint of ale in a straight sided glass, but they were few and far between. When you ventured out into the country in the car, you could have a couple of pints in those days, you only ever found dimple glasses.

Now you might be wondering why I am waffling about straight and dimple glasses, well it would seem that the dear old dimple glass of my youth is making a comeback! It was always a fixture in British pubs, but then the dreaded lager came on the scene which was served in a straight glass. Added to that, the biggest makers of the dimple tankard, Ravenhead Glass, closed down in St. Helens and gradually the dimple lost the battle.

But, there has been a revival, pubs all over are starting to serve beer in dimple glasses, a fact that has been welcomed by CAMRA, the real ale campaigner, as Neil Walker a spokes man for them commented, “I personally like to see ‘dimpled mugs’ in pubs serving traditional cask ales” well amen to that I say, what do you think?

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ANZAC day

April 25th, 2014 by Ken

The photographs and news clips of the young Royals in Australia at the annual ceremony paying tribute to the Australian and New Zealand men who gave their lives on the disastrous landings at Gallipoli brought a tear to my faded eyes. Yes I know I am an old serviceman, who never had to suffer in a conflict, but it served to remind me of the millions of men and latterly women from the dominions and old empire countries who fought on the British side during two world wars and other conflicts as well.

For those who may not know what the Gallipoli campaign was, it took place 99 years ago today and it was an attempt to take the peninsular and capture Constantinople by opening up the Black Sea.  Well the tragic campaign dragged on for eight months and eventually the allied forces withdrew, but not before it had taken its toll on the forces, 21,255 from Britain, 10,000 from France, 8,709 from Australia, 3,721 from New Zealand and 1.358 from India.

The campaign did not achieve its objectives, as so many others before and after didn’t, but it still should not stop us from remembering the ultimate sacrifice made by these man and I repeat what many have said before, “lest we forget” let us not.

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Two great inventions from WW1

April 15th, 2014 by Ken

We are this year commemorating the outbreak of World War I, the war that was going to end all wars, but didn’t and like most conflicts inventions inevitably come out of them. There were many that evolved during that awful period, 1914 to 1918, but I have picked a couple that are in everyday use today.

I wonder just where we would be in our modern world without the little device that has to be found on most articles of clothing that we wear, the Zip Fastener. I understand that although people had been, since the 19th century, trying to find way to make hooks and eyes work effortlessly it was actually a Swedish gentleman who immigrated to the United States that eventually mastered a way to do it. It was during WW1 that the US military incorporated it into their uniforms and after the war it found its way into civilian use.

One invention that I know came directly from WW1 was stainless steel, used in just about everything now. Our military was asking for better metal for our guns which became distorted from repeated firing. Henry Brearley a Sheffield metallurgist was experimenting with chrome added to the steel and apparently threw some of the scraps he had been working on away and was amazed to find that they did not rust. Eureka our metallurgist had discovered stainless steel and it was used in the production of aero engines of the time. Later of course it was the choice for cutlery and the vital instruments in hospitals.

I naturally am no lover of any kind of conflict, but it has to be said that it is in these times that the ingenuity of man comes to the forefront.

zip

Picture: Isobel T

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Water Fluoridation right or wrong?

March 31st, 2014 by Ken

I see the great debate about adding fluoride to the water supplies has come round again; I do not take a particular stance either way, I think that what worries people is that the state can make a decision to add something to our water supplies which may or may not benefit people. I feel sure that there must be some people who do not believe in fluoride, they consider that it causes discolouration amongst other things. On the other hand our dental profession think it is the finest thing that could possibly happen.

But are our nation’s teeth as bad as many people are saying. I think that with modern toothpaste, electric toothbrushes of many types, that the actual teeth of adults and children are better than it has ever been. Many dentists will point to the addition of fluoride in toothpaste as the reason, more attention to the way we take care of our oral hygiene and regular checkups with the friendly dentist, of course!

Adding fluoride to the water supplies will apparently cost as little as 40 pence per resident per year in the water board area, so it is really cheap. But as I say, are teeth as bad as many would have us believe? No it is the gums that are the reason so many lose teeth, often these teeth are absolutely sound, but gum disease causes them to become lose and eventually drop out. Preventing gum disease has to be the priority and this is where the dentist has to lead. Perhaps school visits and demonstration of how to keep gums healthy should be the priority, but sooner or later the state will add fluoride to water supplies, they have been trying unsuccessfully for about 40 years.

 

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Keeping your home and business premises secure

March 16th, 2014 by Ken

Although I understand that house breaking and burglary rates are falling from the time during the 1980’s which saw rapid increases, it can be still worrying when you leave your home or business premises and go away for a period.

Things have changed quite a lot since that days when you could have a set of about twelve keys and could wander about new housing estates and open just about every door lock! It was whilst I was reading a new website which has been developed for Secured by Design that I came across a lot of remarkable facts such as the twelve key saga.

If you are not any wiser about Secured by Design than I was, it is a group of national police projects that were set up in 1989 to focus and work with the industry to test houses to ascertain how secure they are. It is due to them and the locksmith industry that the incidence of house and business crime has been reduced since they were set up in 1989 and anything that reduces this crime or fear of it if you are concerned about leaving your premises can only be welcomed.

I have signed up for newsletters from the organisation to be sent to my email and you can also find a list of accredited suppliers of products such as. Lock, door, and window suppliers that are accredited and are happy to give advice on home security, it certainly makes me feel less anxious about leaving my home or business premises, how do you feel?

door chain

Picture: 0Four

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Advice and help for a friend

February 27th, 2014 by Ken

It was whilst was I was down at my local a few weeks ago that I got talking to an old friend of mine Bob and during our usual banter he told me about a problem that he was having. He has a small retail unit and it was during the conversation that he told me about the problems he was having with a company that supplies his barcode labels. Now he told me that he was not complaining about the price as he thought they seemed pretty competitive, he was more concerned with the quality of the barcode itself as often the scanner would simply not read the barcode.

As he said he can punch the numbers in manually, but as I said he may as well just put a price on the product. Now there is one thing that I know as a customer and that it is so frustrating standing at a till or check out and having to wait whilst the operator punches in the information. Why we all get het up I not sure, but we all do.

So I told him about my experience with a company that I have used on two occasions this year Data Label who supplied me with some barcode labels and later on a special polypropylene label that I needed for a particularly harsh environment. Now I have experience that the barcodes which were supplied to me by Data Label scanned every time and as I understand it they ensure that every barcode they supply is scanned for its readability prior to dispatch.

Well Bob telephoned me and said how delighted he was with the service and prompt despatch of his self adhesive barcode labels and true to their word, the barcodes supplied by Data Label scanned every time. Nice when you can recommend a product to someone and they call and tell you they’re completely satisfied.

barcode

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