Google Play Books – Unfair Play ?

25th June 2015

This week I purchased an electronic copy of a book from Google Play Books titled “The Lean Forward Moment” by Norman Hollyn . I used my Mac Mini desktop for this and having selected to link provided by Play Books in an email it was added to my Google books . So far so good !

Within Google Play – My Books is an almost invisible icon ( 3 liitle grey dots ) which if clicked open up a menu of actions including “download this book “. However, for this particular book no such action was available 🙁

I contacted Google support and was told that for this particular book Downloading was prohibited by the publisher. I complained that I should have been advised of this prior to completing the purchase as I would not have completed the purchase and so requested a refund.

Credit to Google Support agreed to this immediately.

This serves to remind us all of the problems surrounding DRM which essentially means you do not own the material purchased, only permission to access it –

Buyer beware !!!!!!


Great Coffe @ home – Good Beans + Good Barista = Great Coffee

30 th Nov ’14

So you would appreciate a GOOD coffee and would like to replicate to make Fantastic coffee in your home 🙂

Well the journey starts here with beans 🙂

Green coffee Beans


Expresso Roasted Beans  Note oily surfaces

A Wee bit of History

My love of Expresso style coffee goes a long way back. In the late fifties as working class Brits were starting to take there holidays in Europe and coffee bars began to pop up in every town and were the rage among the young jiving rock-n-roll set, then serving ” Froffy Coffee “. I was 16 in 1957 🙂 .

The coffee habit soon faded in the UK to the tune of Nescafe instant coffee made from mainly Asian Robusta beans this persisted until recent times. The US had been world famous for buying only the cheapest beans on the world market to produce the the worst that coffee could offer. From 1971 Starbucks single handedly created the Expresso boom in US by simply introducing good quality coffee in the traditional  Expresso form.

Although many coffee shops began to appear on main street and in malls few could replicate Starbucks Quality and consistency. So it was the Starbucks Brand dominated the market initially on the West Coast before the Atlantic population fell under the spell. Why ? because you knew what to expect and were seldom disappointed.

As one who traveled extensively in Canada and US on business I  became frustrated with the inconsistence of my daily caffeine dose a “Double Tall Latte” . Hence I began to explore what makes a good cup of coffee.

The first thing I learned was that almost all “off the shelf coffee” is stale and past its best even before you buy it 🙁 .This is because roasting coffee releases the essential oils which will begin to go rancid (acidify )when exposed to air.  Purists consider coffee beans that were roasted more than 5 days ago to be stale – past their “Best Before Date ” for sure. This means that you are unlikely to find fresh beans at other than you local Roastery.

How then can you make Great Coffee at home ?
The answer is simple and easy – Roast your own beans!

OK Here is what you need :

1- A coffee dealer who will sell you the RAW material = GREEN Beans
( more on Green Beans further down)

2 – A means of Roasting

3 – A Grinder

4 – An Expresso maker (  )


Green coffee beans have an indefinite shelf life given proper cool dry storage.

Thus you may buy larger quantities at reduced cost

Go talk with a local coffee roaster to find one who will sell you green Arabica beans, currently I pay $6 /pound in 10 lb lots.  Mine ; Creekmore’s Coffee in Coombes has been very helpful. David will be pleased to answer you questions :

Your supplier may be willing to allow you to buy smaller  amounts to try before committing to a larger order.

Your supplier may also share some of his expertise and suggest combinations of beans to try.
Mine suggested this blend:
Mexican Organic – 2 Measures
Ethiopian – 1 Meas
Columbian – 1 Meas
Sumatran- 1 Meas

Measures : My poppers are work well with 1/3 of a cup per batch

Roasting Equipment:

There are several roasting methods but all require that you heat the beans to 425 degrees F and hold them there a short while. The desert Arabs roast theirs over an open fire in a frying pan 🙁

Dead easy but the most expensive is to buy an electric home coffee roaster upwards of $300.

I tried one but found it disappointing in that it could not attain a high enough temp to give me my dark roast. So gave it away !

I was also given an aluminum stove top pop-corn roasting pan which allows for bigger batches but again disappointing because inconsistent results.
My weekly routine utilizes an electric Pop-corn popper such as the Popcorn Pumper 1200 watt + is needed. I buy mine at 2nd hand or Charity shops  $1 to $6 a piece.

This my preferred type of machine

This method restricts the amount of green beans  per batch to 1/3 of a cup of beans & may vary with your popper.
*Do not overload the roaster.
*Do not mix beans before roasting as each has slightly differing roasting requirements – i.e. Time and Temp.
My average dark expresso roast takes approx 7 mins/batch

Choosing a Pop-Corn Popper :

1 – The more watts the better 1200W is good
2 Good fan power is important as is it having a raised dome bottom as this helps keep the beans moving freely.
3- Discard the plastic top potion and find a tin can to fit in the top opening this is to constrain any high flying beans 🙂

Roasting the Beans

Roasting creates smoke , lots of smoke and beautiful aromas 🙂
So I roast outdoors year round
I find that in my climate BC with ambient outdoor temps ranging from 90F to  Zero that to get consistent results I place the popper in bucket and place a piece of plywood to partially cover the top.

OK you now have all you kit and beans.
So lets get started 🙂
Turn on the Popper and add you dose of beans.
Make sure they soon begin to swirl nicely so as to achieve an even roast.
If not moving well you need to reduce the dose 🙁

The beans will first give up moisture and turn yellow to light tan and begin bounce around a bit.

The next phase is  ” First Crack ” a distinct loud cracking sound as you see the beans darkening.

The next is called “2nd Crack ” a much more gentle sound and smoke begins to appear.

Finally – With much smoke gushing out your beans are done = about 5 -7 mins.

Tip them out into a bowl and allow to cool.

NEXT Batch etc.

Practice makes perfect 🙂

Mix roasted beans well and when cooled store in an airtight container until needed.


So now you have quality freshly roasted coffee beans , but you can’t make coffee until you have ground them properly.
Traditional hand crank grinders work OK. They are the cheapest but it is a bit slow and tedious and not a very consistent output.
Electric Grinders are much more convenient 🙂
Least expensive is the blade grinder or spice grinder. With these consistency is an issue since the beans vary in hardness and the blades do not chop all pieces to the same size. 🙁
The Burr Grinder is by far the better option as you can set the grind to your exact preference or the requirements of you expresso maker. Save up to get one you will not regret the move.

For the best results ONLY Grind enough coffee for that day 🙂

Here is a web site with lots more helpful info 🙂

Making Expresso Coffee :


Michael’s 67 Birthday Gift

25th January 2014

My brother Michael will reach his 67th birthday tomorrow.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to create something special instead of the usual short lived birthday card. Over past several weeks I have been improving my skills with Apple Final Cut Pro X and its sister software Motion 5 and Compressor. These are pro-am video creation tools for Mac.

First in Motion I created a 10 second lead-in title and exported it as .mov file.
With my newly acquired Green Screen kit I shot a short personal monologue.
These were then imported into a new project in FCPX .
Additional Media downloaded were the opening song “Happy Birthday Michael”
( ) ,
Fluttering Union Flag (  ) ,
Filling a Glass of wine animation ( )
Oceanside Background (  ? )

These were all combined in FCPX to create the 2 min 30 sec movie :

iStudio replaces MS Publisher or Adobe on your Mac.

10th Dec. ’13

Front of the Card with iStudio

It has been a couple of months since switching entirely to Mac. In this time I haven’t found a task that I could not do equally well or better on the Mac. That is until I needed to print more of our calling cards which I had originally created with MS Publisher. I now find out there is no way to open Publisher files on a Mac.

I searched the web for alternatives to recreate a clone of original. Adobe software is way beyond my price boundary and Apple’s Pages lacks many needed features that Publisher and iStudio have, similarly Scribus (a free download)
After much digging I found iStudio . 

A free 30 day trial is offered so I installed the program and soon got to grips with it. For those moving up from using a text editor or those new to desk top publishing there are currently 34 short video tutorials available here –

My first project a replacement calling card to be printed on a Standard US Letter Avery 10 up card stock sheet. Details as follows : Printed both sides with background image of our house and the usual text blocks with a decorative frame.  The obverse (back ) had a matching frame and a text block giving directions to our house.

I struggled to see how to place the card doc accurately into a 10 up page . Here iStudio support jumped to my aid after I contacted them in UK. Andy replied within minutes with a fully detailed tutorial on using and importing templates other than iStudio templates into iStudio as .pdf ‘s to easily obtain the accurate multi doc layouts for such jobs as making labels and cards.

As soon as I have a new photo of our house to add, the task will be completed and shown here.


Back of the Card

Whilst I have not yet played around with it. IStudio integrates with Lythoglyph’s Mondriianum  – Download here : which is a decribed as :

If you’ve never heard of the Adobe Kuler community then prepare to immerse yourself in its wide and technicolored world via Lithoglyph’s Mondrianum.
Adobe Kuler is an online community where you can explore, create, and share color themes. The color themes in Kuler are contributed by users, many of them professional designers or in the creative business so you’re dealing with top notch results. So where does Mondrianum come in?
Well it’s a plug-in that enables Mac applications to get the most out of the Kuler community. Once installed, it acts like a built-in, system-wide color picker which is available on any Mac application that supports this feature of Mac OS X. These include all the big apps such as Apple’s own iWork and iLife suites, Google Sketchup, Adobe Photoshop and other widely used applications such as Coda and CSSEdit.


Mondrianum is a great plug-in for designers and creative professionals looking to access a whole world of unusual and creative colors.

Vlogging- First steps

5 th December 2013

What passes for winter on this island is settling upon us in the form of a light dusting of snow today.
As mentioned in earlier blogs I enjoy working in video. This is the time of year when many of us are inclined to reflect on the fading year and write a seasonal epistle to our friends and family .
In past years this has taken many forms. Prior to acquiring my first compeer an Amiga 500 in they were hand written and a hundred or so Xerox copies mailed to distant family and friends .
With computer I was able to move up a notch and using the text editor, create a more legible typewritten document for 1993, which was photocopied onto decorated Christmas Papers. Variations on this over the past 20 years included brochure style missives. For 2002 the then new, digital-electronic e-pub format was tried with self -turning pages, but few could fathom how to open it :(O

This year I am embarking on aVlog edition  ( Video-Blog ) . Having drafted an outline of my topics I waited for clear weather and have tried twice down at “Our Beach ” to record the piece . I much prefer to shoot at outdoor locations because they have good natural lighting and attractive backdrops On the first try I had no script prepared and blew it ! At the 2nd attempt 2 days later the wind got up and drowned my voice and blew away my notes.  Now the weather has turned cold -4C, far too cold to sit on a log at the oceanside.
I will need to wait another 10 days for the weather system to move off inland and renew filming efforts or as a last resort, to recording it indoors.

8th Dec

Temperatures climbed to 0 C degrees today so  donned my arctic gear I headed back to our beach location. This time in addition to the camera and tripod, a music stand, to firmly hold my script outline now printed on heavy cover stock which I hoped would not flap in a breeze.

Success ! I have edited the shoot and now need to shoot indoors Dian & I toasting the audience.

I will post a link here :

24th Dec : I have now made a DIY teleprompter :

Managing Your Mutiple Clouds

OK where did I Store that file ?

Free Cloud Storage is now readily available from Dropbox, Google’s Drive, MS SkyDrive etc. but it can become a nightmare keeping track of what files you placed where and accessing multiple sites with PW’s is tedious to say the least.
Opportunity knocks ! and several Managing services have recently emerged.
led me to install and use PrimaDesk .
I now have just one login to access my 4 cloud locations it will also aid me in managing other file formats such a emails and uploaded Photos.

Thans guys !

Ecstatic Customers !

Ex-Pats around the world often long for something from their homeland. It might be a food or a fovourite condiment, a drink or as in my case quality television programing. I emigrated from Great Britain in 1967 and like most Brits have missed  the humour, documentaries and drama programing which has set the BBC apart from all other broadcasters.
For many years now the only TV entertainment programing that interested us was recycled Brit programing on PBS and Knowledge Network. This has now changed.  Internet access speeds are now capable of sustained video streaming. I recently happened upon NetglobalTV a start-up Canadian business which provides the hardware and software to facilitate direct access to both BBC & ITV programing using their respective  iPlayers.

How does it work?:

  • The software connects via the Internet to one of 4 servers they have in UK. The broadcaster assumes you to be connecting from within the British Isles.
  • NetGrobal and their partner Astrill also have servers in just about every other country too 🙂 Take your pick !

What you need !:

  • A hi-speed Internet connection,
  • A reasonably fast computer
  • An Astrill account and to
  • To install BBC iPlayer Desktop.

NetGlobal TV can also supply you with a special wireless router which will broadcast the incoming TV signal to a wireless device such as Apple TV – PS3 – WII etc which is connected to your TV.

My set-up:

  • This is slightly different because I happen to have an Ethernet T100 from my computer station to my media room. 35 feet away.
  • The T100 to the media room is plugged into my router
  • In the media room I connect the T100 from the wall to my Mac Book Pro laptop
  • To the Thunderbolt media output on the Mac in connect a media adapter and from that adapter a HDMI cable to one of the available HDMI  TV inputs. QED 🙂

Watching live and saving programs:


  • I will now describe how to use BBC iPlayer to get you started.
  • Firstly, you can watch live broadcasting directly from BBC –
  • However, the 8 hour time shift is problematic. So I suggest that you also install the free BBC iPlayer Desktop –
  • This enables you to download and save programing for 30 days . There are choices of format to save-as – iPlayer  or .wmv formats. Also there is a Series save option which automatically saves all forthcoming programs in the series.
  • Some programs are also available in HD

My experience in dealing with Netglobal TV – and Steve Greening was extraordinary in that he was so helpful and even provided a free months access for me to see for myself how well this system works.

I am ” Ecstatic Customer “


On being Re-Kneed

Friday 18th March – We arrived home four days ago, that being 5 days post operative as they say in hospital lingo. I would say that overall not too much pain but with peaks of severity that make it difficult to manage. This is brought on by the fluid pressure around the new joint which inhibits flex. The leg is rather like one of those New Years Eve blowing toys which when blown sufficiently hard unwinds the feathered tube and when fully extended shriek’s a loud whistle. Sleep is much disturbed by pain and potty runs but as all else is improving daily. Two visits to the physio (PT) have significantly improved flexation, mobility, and confidence. I will have the staples removed a week today and I am told to expect even larger strides after that  🙂

One of the alarming things learned during my stay was the very poor standards of PT on my two floors. In the first case they told my the wrong way to get maneuver into or out of bed. 2ndly the lass sent to transfer me into a wheel chair didn’t know how to remove adjust or replace the leg/ foot plates.

OK a minor thing ! But when I saw with my own eyes how poorly the Engineering profession is serving the needs of the Medical I was disgusted. I mentioned this to my brother Michael who told me that he recently had a similar experience when he took his wife’s Uncle out for a day in a wheelchair around Gosport.
In both cases the design of the basic wheelchair which had about twice the number of needed components was cumbersome, unnecessarily heavy, and thus expensive to produce. Perhaps even more important did not serve the occupant or the escort at all well. Compare this with the elegant functionality that comes with a modern 21speed bike for $200 and we engineers should banished in disgrace until a significant improved design can be offered with humble apologies for our dereliction. I shall be raising this with my nephew Kevin who is the designer and owner of “Clickgear” $200 sophisticated Golf Cart

Clickgear golf cart

I think he has the design ability and facility to lead the world in medical transportation and mobility aids. ComeOn Kev ! this is right up your street 🙂 Give us some more of your “Pure and Simple” elegant work.

Doing it right – The Joy of

One of the joys I discovered upon retiring was that there was no longer any real need to rush things. Throughout my working life all projects and maintenance had to be compressed into the available time an evening or weekend. Which generally meant that for example that if a tool became dull or damaged it was necessary to press on , to continue, as best could often frustrated. However, now as today, I just stop and rectify the situation right now ! This came to mind when it became apparent that machining the bevels on the raised panels would be better effected if a feather board were used to press the work against the sliding fence. However, the feather boards were not long enough to reach the work so I stopped! Figured out a way to make useful extention on which to mount the featherboard 3/4 hr later, hey presto! I have a useful jig and near perfect 7 1/2 degree beveled edge cuts on the panels. The joy of Doing it right far out ways the fact that a project may take  considerably longer to complete. 🙂

Day one as a newbe Blogger

Greetings all;
I thought I would give Blogging a try to enable another way to stay in closer touch with my grandchildren in far away places. Over the coming months I will try to regularly post things that they may be interested in and hope that they will respond with blogs of their own perhaps. In reality only one, Amber is old enough to set up her own blog but younger ones may not be far behind as children move to adulthood at an alarming rate.
We have five grandchildren 12 through 5, Amber and Erin in Leicestershire, Sam and Olivia in Southport and Louie in Sydney.
We have Skype (tomndi) but it has proved to be difficult to sync between the widely spaced  time zones of UK, Canada and Australia.

So we will see what the coming  months reveal.

Ok Amber are you up for this ?

Grandpa Tom