Word Press 5 . . .

Gutenberg himself.

Word Press 5 has been a long time coming – we were warned about it some time ago but somehow it seemed to go off the boil, and one wondered if it was all a bit of a flash in the pan. However it seems that work is going ahead and we might see something towards the end of this month.

It has been evident in other ways that something was going on because the Gutenberg plug in has been updated frequently so I guess that when Gutenberg updates it causes hiccups in WordPress 5, and when WordPress 5 gets modified Gutenberg needs to catch up.

We wait and see. Rather like the awful Brexit.

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Codswallop . . .

Screenshot of Alice Lough entry on Ancestry.
Alice Lough – “LifeStory” screenshot of Ancestry page

I have for many years now been a subscriber to Ancestry and much of my family history research is kept there. Recently a relative of mine asked me why our great grandmother was shown as having been in America at various times in her life. I was baffled by this and could not find anything to back up his claim and rather ignored it – until – yesterday I happened to click on the Life Story tab.

LifeStory tab on the left

The photo at the start of this post shows what I found. In the screen shot, there are three events all of which are factually correct under the “Facts” heading, with references and sources, but in the “LifeStory” shot you can see that Alice’s mother allegedly died in Amador, California, her little son allegedly died in Alaska, and her son Harry was allegedly born there as well. And for the privilege of paying Ancestry £179.99 per annum this is the claptrap they produce. I have emailed them to tell them of my displeasure.

Here is the reply from Karen at Ancestry :

Hi Ian . I’m Karen, a Directly Ancestry Expert. We are experienced Ancestry users that assist with answering questions. While we do not have access to accounts, I will be happy to provide assistance.

I understand your frustration. Ancestry is experiencing an issue relating to this. Unfortunately we do no have a timeline for it being fixed, but we are hopeful it will be soon.

Let me know if you have any further questions.


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Why are we waiting . . . ?

An autumn day.
Laurieston Road, between Gatehouse of Fleet and Laurieston.

Some time ago, I forget when, we were told to “Brace !” prior to the imminent arrival of a new version of WordPress which would incorporate the fully fledged version of Gutenberg. Well, Gutenberg is with us having gone through one or two updates, but other than that we are still in limbo and I have rather held off posting and waited to see what the new creation looked like and how it performed, and not least, would I be able to manage it ?

In fairness to a no doubt hard working bunch of geeks there is a little more to be seen here.

And the photo ? Well, I just thought you might like it.

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Many Happy Returns . . .

The year turns yet again . . .

What will have happened by this day morrow in October 2019 ?

Birthday Flowers.
A nice way for geographically separated families to be together.
Birthday Flowers.
A nice way for geographically separated families to be together.
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Let there be Light . . .

Kirkcudbright is immersing itself in a “Festival of Light” this week, but the autumn weather is not helping. After a day of violent squalls of rain and wind which looked and sounded enough  to push the windows in, the evening cleared up considerably so we ventured out and did our own motor tour of the town – and it was obvious that we were not alone in this. But plenty of people with families and children were there too, with probably the biggest draw being the lighting of the Tolbooth which was a display lasting some time but of which we were not able to get many pictures.

The Soaperie Gardens, Kirkcudbright.
The Soaperie Gardens, Kirkcudbright.
Paul Jones Bakery, St. Cuthbert's Street, Kirkcudbright.
Paul Jones Bakery, St. Cuthbert’s Street, Kirkcudbright.
Kirkcudbright Castle and the War Memorial.
Kirkcudbright Castle and the War Memorial.
"Beyond the Line" Gallery at the old Station House, Kirkcudbright.
“Beyond the Line” Gallery at the old Station House, Kirkcudbright.

Photos taken on a Canon Powershot G5X using the “Hand Held Night Scene” setting which takes several images and then stitches them altogether.

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Here we go again . . . :-(

Yesterday I dug out a laptop that has been little used for most of the last year and totally unused since the fiasco of the Windows 1803 update.  The update failed completely on said machine, so having had enough trouble on my main laptop I put this other one to one side, and left it. Now we are told another earthquake bomb is to be dropped on us by Microsoft, so it seemed a good idea to resuscitate this other machine and get it up to date.

Ha !

The process started yesterday very slowly and was left to carry on overnight. Today we needed to go out. What to do ? Stop everything ? Or let it carry on, explode, and burn the house down ? Rightly or wrongly, the latter course was chosen and the house is still in one piece.

When we arrived home and had got the car unloaded this is what was found . . .

3.16 pm on 4th October 2018., 68 percent.

The slow process continued as you can see . . .

4.58 pm on 4th October 2018. 82 percent.

At this point various web searches were done and all sorts of “helpful” suggestions made which would have been splendid for a well qualified engineer, but for the ordinary user were of no use whatsoever. The most helpful suggestion was to uninstall any 3rd party security soft ware altogether. I had started off by disabling ours, but these updates require many restarts and when that happens the security suite also restarts. So after uninstalling Norton this is what was found . . .

5.16 pm – it starts all over again !

The troubleshooter was run but did not produce anything very helpful, so the machine is now undergoing a complete reinstall of Windows 10 and is restarting itself, “Resetting this PC2, “Refreshing your device 1%”, and . . .

Watch this space.  We’ll keep you posted . . .

Monday, 8th October 2018.

Well, finally we got there. After starting the reinstall (see above) a message appeared at some stage saying, ” . . . may take 20 minutes or longer . . . “.  This might be true if one was prepared to sit and watch the endless process work its way through, so it meant another night of leaving the laptop ticking, and then catching up with the same updates and more besides that brought up the whole problem to start with. However, all is now done and the laptop is working OK.

But is this going to be the drill every time Microsoft produces one of its major rejigs ? Can Windows survive if users are treated like this ?

Wednesday, 10th October 2018.

And now, we read that Microsoft’s latest effort (update 1809) has caused sufficient and serious problems that its roll out has been stopped until it is examined and fixed. Will Microsoft reimburse peple whose computers have had material expunged ? Is Microsoft fit for purpose ?

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Go Kingston !

New Toy.

With the aid of Mr Memory, a firm I would recommend, (disclaimer : no connection, just a satisfied customer) this laptop on which I two fingeredly type has recently had its RAM doubled.  Flushed with this success, and urged on by articles in Computeractive magazine, it seemed like time to replace the hard drive with an SSD.  This was made by Kingston Technology and supplied by Mr Memory as a complete upgrade kit and the job began. One is given a coupon and code to download Acronis True Image, a programme I have never used, and the biggest brain teaser was that of finding out how that software worked. But once a little bit more confident it proved very straightforward to clone the existing hard drive to the SSD and surprisingly easy to get the old drive out and the new one into its place. It was somewhat nerve wracking to switch on once the job was done, and apart from a few unexpected message windows which seemed to be about something entirely different it was quite astonishing that everything fired up so speedily.

So, if this old gent can do it, you can too !

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What is a Tolbooth . . . ?

The Tolbooth, Kirkcudbright.
The Tolbooth, Kirkcudbright.

A tolbooth or town house was the main municipal building of a Scottish burgh, from medieval times until the 19th century. The tolbooth usually provided a council meeting chamber, a court house and a jail. The tolbooth was one of three essential features in a Scottish burgh, along with the mercat (market) cross and the kirk (church).


The word tolbooth is derived from the Middle English word tolbothe that described a town hall containing customs offices and prison cells.


Burghs were created in Scotland from the 12th century. They had the right to hold markets and levy customs and tolls, and tolbooths were originally established for collection of these. Royal burghs were governed by an elected council, led by a provost and baillies, who also acted as magistrates with jurisdiction over local crime. The tolbooth developed into a central building providing for all these functions. Most tolbooths had a bell, often mounted on a steeple, and later clocks were added. As well as housing accused criminals awaiting trial, and debtors, tolbooths were also places of public punishment, equipped with a whipping post, stocks or jougs. The tolbooth was occasionally a place of execution, and where victim’s heads were displayed. The tolbooth may also have served as the guardhouse of the town guard. Other functions provided in various tolbooths included schoolrooms, weighhouses, storage of equipment and records, and entertainments.

The first record of a tolbooth is at Berwick upon Tweed in the later 13th century, and the earliest known grant of land for construction of a tolbooth is at Dundee in 1325, with many more grants recorded through the 14th century. The oldest tolbooths which survive intact are those of Musselburgh (1590) and Canongate (1591). The tolbooth of Glasgow (1626) has been described as Scotland’s “most remarkable civic building of the 17th century”. Other Renaissance-style tolbooths were erected at Linlithgow (1668) and Kirkcaldy (1678). By the 18th century, the term “tolbooth” had become closely associated with prison, and the term “town house” became more common to denote the municipal buildings. Classical architectural styles were introduced, as at Dundee (1731) and Sanquhar (1739). In the early 19th century, increasing separation of functions led to purpose-built courthouses and prisons, and the replacement of tolbooths and town houses with modern town halls, serving as council chamber and events venue. The prison functions of tolbooths were overseen by prison boards from 1839, but the jail cell in the Falkirk Steeple remained in use until 1984.


There are around 90 tolbooths surviving in Scotland. Many are still used as municipal buildings, while others have been renovated as museums, theatres, or other attractions.


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Wigtown Book Festival, Part the Second . . .

Dr. Cicely Saunders
Dr. Cicely Saunders

Fortyfive years ago I was busy being a theological college student when Dr. Cicely Saunders and some of her colleagues were invited to come and conduct a seminar on death and dying. I was immensely impressed by what she said, and what she and St. Christopher’s Hospice were evidently doing so that when we were asked where we wanted to go on our  final placement I asked if it would be possible for me to go there. This caused a little bit of an upset as “placement” usually meant being placed in a parish, but thankfully someone somewhere decided that this was a suitable place and off I went. Since we were all living as thriftily as possible I did the journey from Salisbury to Sydenham and back on a Mobylette moped.

Picture of the cover of a book : "Dr. Cicely Saunders, A life and Legacy", by David Clark.
“Dr. Cicely Saunders, A life and Legacy”, by David Clark.

When the Wigtown Book Festival programme was published I saw that a David Clark had written a biography of Dr. Saunders called “Dr. Cicely Saunders, a Life and Legacy” and I felt I should like to go and hear what he had to say. So off we went on another Wigtown jaunt, but this time a little earlier in the day.  The town was much more crowded on this occasion but we were fortunate to find a parking spot within walking distance of the tent in the back garden of the Old Bank Bookshop.  I found the talk interesting. The early part of her life I knew vaguely, but learnt much more, and it was interesting to me to hear how her work and ideas have both continued, but have also adapted as the demographic and social character of our lives has changed.  Thus, back in the 60s and 70s someone in St. Christopher’s would likely be in the terminal stages of cancer, and cancer would be the cause of death. Nowadays a patient would likely be much older but would be suffering from a number of “morbitities” of which cancer might only be one.

The book blurb gives a good summary of its content and of what the author had to tell us . . .

“Born at the end of World War One into a prosperous London family, Cicely Saunders struggled at school before gaining entry to Oxford University to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics.  As World War Two gained momentum, she quit academic study to train as a nurse, thereby igniting her lifelong interest in caring for others.  Following a back injury, she became a medical social worker, and then in her late 30s, qualified as a physician.  By now her focus was on a hugely neglected area of modern health services: the care of the dying.  When she opened the world’s first modern hospice in 1967 a quiet revolution got underway.  Education, research, and clinical practice were combined in a model of ‘total care’ for terminally ill patients and their families that quickly had a massive impact.  In Cicely Saunders: A Life and Legacy, David Clark draws on interviews, correspondence, and the publications of Cicely Saunders to tell the remarkable story of how she pursued her goals through the complexity of her personal life, the skepticism of others, and the pervasive influence of her religious faith. When she died in 2005, her legacy was firmly established in the growing field of hospice and palliative care, which had now gained global recognition.”

After all this, we stopped on the way home at the Galloway Smokehouse and had an extremely nice supper to round off the day.

David Clark holds a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award and leads the Global Interventions at the End of Life research project. He is Professor of Medical Sociology at the University of Glasgow and founder of the Glasgow End of Life Studies Group.

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The Moss of Cree . . .

“The Moss of Cree” by Mary Cecil Gladstone

The Wigtown Book Festival is on at the moment and this book about our local area caught the eye. I bought a copy and read it and we decided to go to the talk given by the author at the festival. We booked tickets, including some for another talk later in the week about Dr Cicely Saunders, and yesterday afternoon we set off under lowering skies for Wigtown, somewhat apprehensive about what the parking situation might be on arrival.  They do make great efforts with car parking, but we feared we might find ourselves miles away (well, yards anyway) from the venue.  However, we parked without difficulty and made our way to the old Town Hall only to find that the talk had been shifted to the main festival marquee.  But we got our selves there OK and joined a cheery queue waiting to get in. By this time rain was spitting and spatting on us and the wind was getting up a bit.

Carsenestock is where Mary Gladstone was brought up and around which much of the book is centered.
Carsenestock as seen on Google Streetview.

Inside all was calm and the heaters were going well and we were quite comfortable on some very decent chairs. The two speakers were quite audible to me as there was an audio loop provision, but I don’t know what it was like at the back.  The talk, unsurprisingly, went over much of the material in the book from which Mary Gladstone read various excepts, and at the end there were the usual questions. It took just over an hour altogether and as we left we had to squeeze past the folk waiting to get in for the next talk.

We drove home in the half light of a northern evening, but as time went by darkness proper fell and with it came heavier rain.

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