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Behind The Screen

This blog is a little different to my usual because it is being written with the intention of adding a link elsewhere to try and explain/highlight what has happened ‘behind the screen’ to bring a web page together.

As some may know I administrate, edit and manage a web site about a particular musician and have done for many many years. It is an on-going, complex, multi-layered learning experience that gathers information into one place. I do it for my own satisfaction, to have a one-stop place that collates his work, for the fans and those interested to visit. Yes, it costs me money, but what hobby doesn’t.

Recently he was interviewed by Dom Familaro for The Sessions Artist Series published to YouTube. If you are interested in the workings of the music industry, the various musicians that back, support, perform with many A-list names, perhaps you play an instrument, these interviews are entertaining and interesting to hear so many peoples different life stories, how music became their profession and where that profession has taken them and things they’ve learnt and experienced on the way. But I digress…..

The website has a few interview transcripts and it occurred to me that even though YouTube has the ‘captions’ option (akin to on the go subtitles in language of your choice), there is still a section of the world wide audience who are missing out, so I decided to transcribe the thirty-eight minute interview and find a way it can be translated, thus broadening it’s reach. Sounds reasonably straightforward, doesn’t it. Ha!

Step 1. Using a mix of shorthand, speed writing and longhand I begin taking down the dialogue. Gone are the days when I could audio-type thanks to my depleted dexterity. So it’s listen intently, stop video, write, reread, rewind and listen again, correct script, add punctuation. Continue to listen, pause it, write it down, check it, relisten to the passage, make corrections and proceed ….. you get the idea. It took a few days, working an hour or two per day.

Step 2. Thanks to my muscle disease rendering my fingers/hands/wrists so weak the easiest way to transcribe the written word is to use dictation, no more confidently typing at between 70-75 wpm for me anymore. I create a fresh document, hit the microphone and speak clearly, deciphering my scrawl as I go. Stopping after a couple of paragraphs to read over the dictation, correct the errors, add the punctuation, capitalise names etc. Hit save and carry on. It takes a couple of days but at the end there are nine pages of crisp type, each paragraph a persons dialogue, all checked, proofed and corrected.

Step 3. Now it gets a little technical because I need to add the HTML tags that make it show on the eventual web page. Each paragraph needs a <p> at the beginning. It makes visual sense to have the interviewers dialogue in a different colour to the interviewees, so I add a font=“colornumber” to those lines. I also have to add the speakers name to each paragraph to make it easier to follow who is saying or asking what. So that’s added, all in capitals for emphasise.

Step 4. Using a specific software program I create the webpage, it’s basic style set to match the myriad of pages already there. I add the techie bit of code to embed the YouTube video, making sure it sits comfortably and is the correct size. I add the tab heading and explanation. Then in chunks I add the coded interview transcription. Crossing my fingers I hit the ‘test’ function to see what it looks like as a web page. I am reasonably pleased with the result except the colour is way way off, neon lime green, the hex code is a shade of red! Hmm……that needs investigating, it works on other pages already published.

Step 5. Thanks to an excellent web site that walks you through, teaches and shows how to grapple with HTML coding I can put together the five or six lines of instruction to add a button to bring up a menu of languages that Google will then translate the whole page. Wow! I add it at the top of the transcription coding and hit ‘test’. It’s there, and what’s more……it works! Victory! By chance it answers my query about the text colour coding, I think the issue is that versions of HTML change things, and that’s what has happened here, the code for changing the font colour is now a script command within the <p> notation, so I will need to put together the new bit of code, then copy and paste it at the beginning of each of the interviewers dialogue.

Step 6. I confidently upload the new page to the server, add the link to the main media page so viewers can get to it and voila….well no, not quite yet, actually. I forgot the special text snaffoo, you see when you type characters like & ( ‘ ) “ and then copy/paste them into a coding page, things go a little bit odd, it turns a ‘ into ’ . So I need to go through the entire transcript and remove the gobbledygook and replace the appropriate punctuation mark.

Next time I am at my desk, I will have to go through the coding, change the font colour code and correct the ‘ (oh I hope the find and replace will help me). That a rough idea of what is involved for just one page. I intend to add the translation script to every page of the site, a mere thirty or so. Like the Forth Bridge, there is always something that needs working on to improve.

Link to the interview ….. The Sessions Artist Interview

Link to the website http://www.stcgibb.com

 
6 Comments

Posted by on April 17, 2020 in Music, people, Tech, Website

 

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Bactrian Conspires

Wednesday, often referred to as hump day, and I have the right ‘ump with this particular Wednesday, it’s not so much a Dromedary and much more a Bactrian of humps.

I mused this morning that today I would upgrade the OS on the iMac to the new Catalina. The timing was right, I’d time-machine backed up after the photo job was done, as well as external drive saved the valuable folders. I clicked the magic button and set it going, just one hour to download, followed by one and half hours to install and a further thirty minutes to set-up. Now that doesn’t sound so bad does it?

Just before Noon a four note trill sounded from the bedroom. Hmm, odd, that’s the sound the phone makes when you place it in the charger. Trill, weird was there a brief power cut, but everything else is working. TrillTrillTrill. Okay that’s more than a power out, it’s going crazy. TrillTrillTrillTrillTrillTrillTrillTrillTrillTrillTrillTrill non-stop and my next care visit would not be until 2:50, three hours of this four note TrillTrillTrillTrill that cannot be drowned out by music because the iMac is updating……… it’s like when the smoke alarm battery fades and you have to wait for a bod with step ladder.

After the install and set-up my computer ever so kindly informed me that some of the apps may not be supported by the upgrade. Hmm, well that all depends which ones. I perused the list and most seemed to be to do with the printer survey and compare list, all good. But oh hang on …. bummage ….. those two apps I use a lot, the one I use to write the HTML for the website and the one I use to organise and upload the photo albums to the web site. Whilst finding another HTML editor is not exactly difficult the photo albums one is, because it is essentially discarding all the work done over the past sixteen years and starting from scratch, again. Put that on the “projects” list. *sigh*

Carer came to the rescue taking the phone out of the cradle, whoohoo, bliss. We scuttle through to the kitchen to fire up the slow cooker, she went to open a draw and it wouldn’t budge ‘something’ was stopping it, I could barely get my fingers between the draw front and the work top. I teased out a plastic bag but there was something solidly jamming it, most likely the foil or cling film boxes. Grrr, between the two of us and the handle of the wooden spoon we managed to get it open, another to-do job, reorder that draw (there’s not a lot in it).

Not sure if today is the wisest day to try a new slow cooker recipe.

Is it bed time yet?

 
13 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2019 in General, Grumble, Life, Tech

 

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Pic App-titude

Way back I blogged a list of project jobs, one was the ‘ list Mac jobs’ which involved going through the iMac, my iPads, the external hard drive and flash drives, resorting, relabelling, reorganising all the various files, folders, media (music, movie snips, videos) and documents, the biggest job being the reconfigurations of photos.

When I first started keeping photographs on a computer a mere nineteen years ago, I applied my usual office organisation skills and had folders titled with the event, within was a folder containing the originals and a second folder for any that had been edited for whatever reason, made into collages etc. Slowly the collection grew and I began keeping a back-up on a flash drive and when the collection got considerably larger on an external hard drive.

Then I switched over to iMac with its useful (to some degree) iPhoto app. Initially this piece of kit automatically synced all photos anywhere and lumped them in, to then be divided into ‘events’, later also ‘albums’ and finally the annoying adage of ‘faces’ (it scanned your photos and tagged familiar faces). But the downside was that the photo was held in its library and not as an accessible file somewhere, some events had multiples of the same photo but different size or quality but the info was not instantly there for comparison.

Apple, in their questionable wisdom, revamped and released a new image handling app called “Photos” (dropped the i and added the s, bet that was an intense creative meeting). This new app added in the iPhoto library but as a separate folder and again the individual images had all their info hidden. Also I keep an archive of photos relevant to another project and use the file name as info and sometimes keep a second copy with the relevant ©️ info added for uploading to the web. I didn’t get on with this Mac method of handling images and preferred to keep some photos in organised files and some I uploaded to add to similar albums in either iPhoto or photos. It sounds messy doesn’t it? It is!

So, I rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in, I ‘exported’ each album to a folder on the desktop from both iPhoto and Photo, renamed them with the relevant info (exporting creates a whole new image and doesn’t carry over the originals metadata info, nor useful file name). Copied those kept as standard files in my documents into their relevant folders. Upload photos from my old iPad and my iPad Air, named them and sorted them.

The question now was duplicates. I needed a bit of kit to sort through each folder individually and across several folders to highlight any duplicates and show me the details (where it is, what size it is, what file type) so I can decide whether to delete or keep it. After asking Google and checking the App Store reading the reviews I settled on one. Prepped and ready I went through each separate album and then the complete library and was rather impressed that there had not been hundreds to check and check again. Hmm, a seed of niggling doubt crept it. I opened an album “MIAMI 2003” and skimmed through the individual folders, and found a significant number of duplicates! What!! A duplicate finder that didn’t find duplicates, I tweaked the preferences but still it did not find all the obvious duplicates. Back to Google, read more reviews, but I have not run the folders through it yet. I’ve already spent four desk sessions on the job, I’ll leave that for tomorrow. And I’m yet to start on the archive catalogue!

Still, it’s been pleasant flipping through all these photos, being reminded of things I’ve been to, realising what a bad choice that hair or clothes were, coming across that hidden gem.

We have this technology to quickly, easily snap away but do we ever take the time to flip through an album and revisit a memory.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on October 1, 2019 in Life, Projects, Tech

 

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It’s one of those Monday’s, that’s why

Technology is bad enough when it complies with our instructions, but it turns into a belligerent stroppy over tired toddler when it decides to be awkward.

Today I wanted to print off some notices for Big Sis’s ‘reflections’ service, she was adamant she didn’t want any fuss or funeral. I had spent Saturday working on the layout and wording, finding one of the very elusive photos of her and refining it for my purpose. Sent it off to BFF because I always miss something when proofing etc. Left it alone to give one final check over before printing it off, showed bro-in-law and hit the print button.

Printer chugged and clunked, whirred and span eventually printing out the test go, but the picture came out oddly coloured. Damn, colour cartridge must be super low. Discovered how to pull printer apart, remove cartridges and dispatch Bro-in-law to remortgage my hovel for a replacement. He was delayed getting back to mine as the police closed my cul de sac as an elderly gent had collapsed mid street and there were police cars and ambulances galore.

We attacked the razor sharp finger slicing packaging and extricated the cartridge and reinserted into its little housing compartment. Click, clunk, all done. Hit print and ……. flashing lights. *sigh*. We fiddled and bodged, I googled and “ah-ha’d”. According to the manufacturers website the domeflotchy (I am fully conversant with the tech terms) that senses whether it’s the correct cartridge and ink levels doesn’t work after the first lot of cartridges are removed but there is a work around, just hold this button for 15 seconds and presto the flashing lights will cease. So I did and they didn’t. *sigh*.

I disconnected everything, unplugged everything, uninstalled printer from my computer. Drank my (second) coffee. Plugged everything back in, turned on the printer and ……. light still flashing. *sigh*. So I hit print anyway, and it printed it out.

Of course I knew it was going to be one of those sorts of Mondays when I woke up, every hour or so from 1:15am, as I floated around the bed in a sweaty menopausal hot flush, as I turned over and neck made an awful crunch sound, when I poked my eye as I was sponging my face, when I clumped my funny bone on the desk draw.

I want to curl up on the sofa with buttered toasted crumpets, but with my luck today I’d set off my new ear piercing smoke alarm (installed by two very tall svelte firefighters).

Still, I almost managed to order Big Sis’s coffin topper spray of flowers coherently, only cracking up into a few tears as I read out the wording for the two cards. Not a phone call I ever wanted to make but the lovely lady was most patient and concerned to get everything ‘just right’.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Grumble, Tech

 

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The Other PostCode Lottery

With having different people visit my hovel recently I’ve found myself having very similar conversations. Firstly it’s “I didn’t know these flats were here, how long have you lived here?” (27 years) and after a brief surprised silence I add “it’s okay the Royal Mail don’t know These flats are here either”.

You see a frequent occurrence happened again and this time (again) I began an official complaint about it with Royal Mail. I had ordered some clothing from a High Street store via their online site, carefully added my postcode and ding up popped the correct address in full. On Friday last week the PostPerson ‘tried’ to deliver it, my usual Postie knows to try the door when there’s a packet and leave it on my desk, but Friday must be his day off. What made it increasingly annoying was the red card shoved through the door was discovered as my primary care person was leaving, she looked at the time and remarked “I was here at 10:40 I never heard a knock” nor had I and to add salt she added “I was in here (the lounge, window beside front door) I would have seen him”.

Hmph …. blessed redelivery needed.

I went to the redelivery web page and tapped in my postcode and hit the ‘find address’ button, annddd my address does not appear, my street does not appear, my town does not appear! According to the proper official Royal Mail my street name is really my building name, the street is the street my road joins, and my town doesn’t warrant a mention. I took screen grabs of the errors and then manually added my address. Thankfully when Postie delivered on Monday it was my usual Postie and he brought the parcel in.

Twenty Seven years and ‘still’ the Royal Mail cannot get it right with the postcode they issued to my street.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on July 11, 2019 in Grumble, Life

 

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Reporting Menacing Phish


Well, it’s not exactly what I had planned for my afternoon.  Firstly, I am fine, these things don’t bother me.

Today I was intending to do a spot of cyber housework (it’s easier than off screen house work). I logged into the server and headed to the emails, a mixed bunch of fan query, fan fawning and spam, but there was one that caught attention.  I knew it was phishing for personal details, financial fraud, general trickery but it was the manner and topic that was a little different.  It threatened to release to all my contacts a video of me that was sexually explicit, as well as pornographic images and spread rumour of deviancy with children unless I sent x-thousand via Bitcoin to a specified account.  The hacker generously explained how the deadline could be extended and even bragged about being able to hide his identity, seek sanctuary from all laws because they were not in my country, and that any ‘federal’ involvement would mean the stuff would be circulated immediately.

As this particular webmail client is tricky to manage, junk wise, I get regular emails from phishing fake accounts trying to get me to click a link, rearrange courier delivery, download court non-payment papers, etc.  Apart from being quite a savvy person, I know these are scams as the email address isn’t really used for anything other than web site business, so they get deleted and a new junk filter created to redirect others.

However, the particularly articulate, menacing, intimidating language of this email made me stop and think, hmmm I can fully see why the more nervy would fall for this, panic and stress over this, maybe send funds, even if they are completely innocent of all allegations (mud sticks and all that), so I decided to file a report with the Cyber Crimes people.  It was very straight forward, we shall see what occurs (if anything).

Well, well, hmm, there ya go!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 26, 2019 in General, In The News, Tech, Website

 

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Burnsy Woz Right

With Big Sis away for a weeks break, I decided to allocate this week to getting to grips with the video issues on the website. I had already googled and bookmarked a few how to pages and had mentally mapped out my productive days.

That’s where I went wrong, having a determined plan.

As some may know I’m pseudo consultant to the Resident Management Company that I used to run before handing it over to an agent when it got too much.  To say that the Agent have had ‘issues’ is a bit like calling pneumonia man flu.  Staff changes, lack of communication, confusing cross communication, time delays, etc have been adding to the general rumblings of dissension around here.  Consequently for every email sent, it generated two more, needing immediate attention. The Director and I decided to get to grips with everything and lick em into shape, we were going to go through the invoices of the past two years noting anomalies, we listed general running issues and we’re trying to get the next (already over-due) residents meeting organised.  

I did manage to list all the videos that need converting into three different file types (devices use different formats, desktop v tablets and phones, Apple v Microsoft v Android).  Apart from a couple of snaffoos that skipped along nicely, even managed to save the relevant back-ups.  This brought a recurrent issue, getting FileZilla to transfer the large files to the server. I’m three desk sessions into trying and I just cannot get it configured, nor find the instructions and answers online, it’s just something further than my limited knowledge and ability can handle.  So I’ll have to hope the web hosts ftp can cope with the file sizes.  It’s a time consuming process.

Each video page needs the HTML re-writing, all eighteen of them.  Some are videos I’m hosting, others are on YouTube, but I cannot start these until the video files are uploaded.  It’s already Saturday, that leaves a heck of a lot to go wrong right before Big Sis gets here at 9am Tuesday (her hubby’s car has a garage appointment first thing, so he’s using her car for work).  I’m polishing a draft for a new web article before coding that into a fresh HTML page as well.  BFF’s visit is coming up and I so want it all done by then.

Who was it who said, if you want something done, give to a busy woman, well if you find him, shoot him! 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on September 15, 2018 in General, Projects, Tech, Website

 

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Startember 


My lists have broken, historically they helped me get organised, sorted and done, but the ‘meh’ apathy has set-in.  Is it because the list is on the iPad and a mere swipe deletes them as if they were never there, whereas writing them in longhand on a note pad and crossing it out doesn’t remove it from view, just reminds you of a failure?  It’s deeper than that, it’s a personality trait, accountability thing.

Sometimes success of getting stuff done is dependant upon the sense of satisfaction (personal and third-party) that comes along after the effort and struggle, it has to have a worth.  Sometimes it might be because someone else is relying on what you do.  Sometimes it’s something that is time sensitive.  I am fortunate that I don’t have things pulling at my time, I don’t work thus reducing the free hours for chores, projects and such, but because my days have no structure it’s neither here nor there what time I get up, go to bed, today is like yesterday and will be the same tomorrow.  Granted initially after ceasing work, having the comfort of so little pressure was so relaxing and reviving, and so needed after the stress and pressure of grief, work and deteriorating health, but now it has become a hindrance. Even enjoyable pastimes become things to merely fill empty hours, which takes the shine off the brightest activities.

But occasionally a spark of possibility needs seizing to try and wrangle the waining spirit, and ignite the motivation to get on and ‘do’, because it will bring satisfaction in a project successfully completed that others might just enjoy.  Give a sense of purpose and instead of time filling I’m being ‘productive’.

So, September is the month, BFF’s visit is the deadline.

  1. Research and write the new article
  2. Upgrade video player (current one doesn’t handle mobile devices)
  3. Rework each video file/page
  4. Upload everything to the server and publish
  5. Update back-up drives 1 and 2 (I’m not loosing all that hard work)
  6. Possibly pick up cat blanket crochet

I know, I know, I might be over reaching with the crochet, lol, but goals be goals.

Not being able to just get stood up from the desk is a major faulting factor, I could and should spend a couple of hours most days at the desk but the thought of shuffling on the chair to get to the sofa is a chore even though when I do do it, it’s not so bad, only some degree of hip discomfort.  It’s a mental tug of war. It is necessary to put myself in an outright absolute ‘have-to’ situation to give my mentals that extra decisive tug.

Right then ….. 2–6–heave!

 
9 Comments

Posted by on September 1, 2018 in General, Projects, Website

 

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Testing technology (and my patient resolve)


*disclaimer* The following blog may sound a touch technical, it may also sound like I know what I’m talking about, however it isn’t and I don’t.

As some of you may know, I administrate a website about a musician and the work he has undertaken over the past years. I try and be diligent in my duties and keep things up-to-date for the fans and those who google interest. Over the past couple of years with a deterioration of my muscle strength and the complications surrounding using my desk for any extended periods of time, I have been lax in updating the photo section of the website. This has been weighing heavily on my mind and conscience, so I took the arrival of my new chair as impetus to get cracking and just do it. 

In order to put a photo gallery together I use an application on my Mac called iWeb, very much a user friendly drag and drop style of templates to create each album and contents, creating a cover, thumbnails, slideshows, and enlarged images. There are now some 18 to 21 albums each containing a couple of pages or more of images from various events, gigs, tours and with fans. Although I haven’t counted them individually there must be several hundred photos.  Now before any image can be dragged and dropped into the photo album it requires a little editing, usually it needs copying or resizing and all of them require the necessary copyright marking. Once added to a particular album I then add a caption detailing the event and that event date. Back up images and details are stored separately ‘just in case’ catastrophe occurs.  All very time consuming.  So for the last couple of months I have been slowly adding more photos to existing albums, amalgamating some albums, as well as adding new ones. Once I was satisfied everything was up to date I hit the ‘publish’ icon to save all the necessary files and folders to make this straightforward piece of the website work.

There was just one thing left to do, transfer all the files folders and contents onto the server for the website.

Historically I have used an FTP program called FileZila to act as intermediary between my computer and the host server so that the files and folders could be transferred over in the right order so everything was in its right place. When you are dealing with something that is so pedantic that a , instead of a . can send the web site into meltdown it is mentally exhausting on a good day. But FileZila is a very competent piece of kit, that when you have a folder containing files and folders, that contain files and folders, that contain files, it can’t be trusted to put the right thing in the right place in the right order.  There was just one slight, tincy, little, problem, the darn thing wouldn’t connect to the server and authenticate it self!  I could have cried.

Unfortunately the host server will only let me use FileZila as I use a Mac computer, however the host site has its own FTP client but it is notoriously slow, frequently crashes and cannot cope with transferring folders from the files and folders it needs it doing individually.  So for a number of hours I sat at my desk and diligently, slowly, transferred each file and folder double checking that they were in the correct order up to the host server.  Once all the files and folders were transferred, and I was satisfied everything was where it should be, I then opened my web browser and collect the link to view the photo gallery. Always a tense moment. Of course, it goes without saying, and is to be expected, but half of what I wanted to be there, wasn’t. Back to the individual files and folders checking the latest update date to make sure I hadn’t missed one (I had, just one) to then try again, and again, clear the cachet and web data, and try again again.

SUCCESS!!!

After the photo gallery was successfully updated, I then set about uploading the pages that have been updated to the main section of the website. These are created by handwritten HTML and not a template or wizard, and are far better behaved and easier to maintain, but photo albums are very technical to create from scratch.

The web to do list had been cut down to just a couple of items, and all the weighted updates were on screen for friends and search engine Google is defined which was a satisfactory failing.  But I’m not quite ready to tackle upgrading the video pages as if that is going to take some hours of diligent patience to make sure the videos comply on multi platforms.

In other news, I have finished two cat blankets and I am working on a third and have the pattern for the fourth one all mapped out. Spring has sprung, a new fresh dose of gumption has been grasped. 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 17, 2018 in General, Projects, Tech, Website

 

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Rebellious technology


Life has a way of making you pay for time off.  I’m paying a price, in frustration!

Wednesday morning I sat and woke up my computer, it had had a holiday too. After dealing with a top priority necessity I clicked to install the update, during its restart process it got stuck, trying to locate my Bluetooth keyboard (I don’t have one). It couldn’t sense my plugged in one. Panic.  Grab the iPad and ask Google, the first two ‘try this’ options failed, one was to just turn off the Bluetooth which was incredibly unhelpful as I do have a wireless mouse. Panic rising, scan read a couple more articles and discovered that either plugging the keyboard into a USB extension or plugging a thumb drive into the USB ports on the keyboard can ‘wake things up’.  Thankfully the extension trick worked. Phew.

Most work days my BFF calls to chat during her walk home, I sat waiting for the phone to jingle into life and when it did I eagerly pressed the green button – to silence. At first I thought our phones had missed connecting, but I could hear the bedroom phone ringing, I looked at the screen and it was blank. Panic. I heard my answerphone click in and the phone screen came to life and I pressed the green button with authority to hear the dulcet tones of my BFF wondering what was going on. Phew.

My wizzy super new desk chair requires recharging from time to time. On Wednesday I dug out the charger and plugged it into the socket and plugging the chair into the charger, the indicator light looked dead (yes, I had switched it on). Hmm, maybe it goes green once its charged. After a couple of hours still no light, I’ll plug it in again Thursday to charge some more, but still the light remained dead. Panic.  Now where exactly is that ‘safe place’ you put the instructions?   Apparently the light ‘should’ be yellow while charging and green once charged.  So, is the charger not charging or has the light gone do-wacky….either way as its only been three months, I need to contact the peeps and get another charger, hope there’s enough charge in the battery. Slight panic.

At least the microwave hasn’t melted, no light bulbs have plunged me into darkness or kettle fizzled ….. although the WordPress app has crashed a few times while typing this.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on April 6, 2018 in General, Life, Tech

 

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