Friday, April 27, 2012

"Information, truth and lies,
It's all yours and it's all mine."


As a break from the norm, I thought I'd write about some geek stuff. Don't worry, there is a trans element to this :-) Tracey (Chameleons) was kind enough to give me a copy of the photos from last week's photo session and that may be wonder about keeping said information safe.

Clearly, there are on-line backups such as Microsoft SkyDrive, iDrive and Google Drive to name but a few. All are fairly easy to use, although Google Drive seems to be holding my interest at the mo. I know a number of folk swear by DropBox, but I've yet to have the pleasure. One for another time perhaps. For those of you know in the know, these remote storage systems let you upload your files via the Internet. Should your computer go pop, it's a fairly nice way of keeping the data safe.

Talking of safe (Ed: seamless as per, Lynn. Anyone would think this was planned! Well, almost :-P), what about data you need to keep locally? I mean, you may have a need to keep your browser traffic hidden; not so much secrets and lies, but if you share a computer, do you want the nippers to be logging into trans FaceBook account? :-) So there's a few things you can do....

Different Logon Account

Most modern operating systems let you have more than one user account on the system. You could set a spare one up for yourself - preferably with an innocuous name such as 'service' or 'backups' - and then hide it. Now, I can only talk about Windows, although I'm pretty sure both Linux and Mac will allow you to prevent a user account from displaying on the log in screen. For Windows, just use your favourite search engine to look for 'hide user account'. This will allow you to open a desktop environment that's just for that account. All the browsing history will be within that session and will not spill over into your main account.

If you're using Windows, you can also make use of a feature called Run As. To access this, hold you mouse over the shortcut - say Internet Explorer - and hold shift as you click with the right hand side mouse button. You should see an option to Run as a different user. Click that and enter the user name and password you created earlier. Internet Explorer will now open on the same desktop as your main user, but it will be under a different account, so the favourites and history will not mix in with yours. Sadly, this doesn't work with Firefox, but other browsers might be fine.

Portable Apps

Lots of open source programs - like Firefox, Thunderbird, etc - are available to run on USB memory sticks. Sure, it's one way to get an application to run without having to install it. They work well (just check out 'Portable Apps' and put your OS name next to that in a search engine). You may that that on older systems, the applications can be slowed down by poor USB performance.

A way to get around this is to download one - say Firefox, Chrome or Opera (note: you can't seem to run multiple instances of Firefox, the program doesn't seem to like it) - and install it to a folder buried in your computer. Don't put it under Program Files or /usr, have a good look under the computer's settings to find a place to stash it. Again, use a search engine to change the permissions on the folder you install it to. That will mean that only you can get into it and anyone wanting to break in will find it harder than usual.

Keeping it all stashed away

I don't know what it is about kids, but at a certain age, they turn into Neo when it comes to technology. If you've given your kids administrator rights to the computer, it's a matter of time before they work out how to get through any security you've laid down. There's a lot to be said about limiting certain family members' rights on a computer. Not only for their own safety (viruses/malware), but also to protect the computer from being messed up.... and you having to fix it again. :-)

That aside, there is another option to the thought about Portable Applications: TrueCrypt. This is a piece of open source software (so, free and available for Windows, Linux and Mac) which allows you to create a virtual drive. For those of you not down with the nerds, it basically a chunk of your hard disk that pretends to be a proper drive letter or mount point (Mac/Linux). However, as TrueCrypt is fully encrypted, no one can get into it without the right password and you can make that as complicated as you like.

One thing you could do, is create a TrueCrypt virtual disk on your computer and copy your photos and portable apps (Firefox, Chrome, etc) to it. TrueCrypt needs to be running in order to open those, so even if someone gets hold of the file, they can't do anything with it. Likewise, you can make a copy of that to a USB memory stick for safe keeping.


I hope you find the above useful and I'll stick the usual disclaimer about tech advice: use at your own risk :-) If anyone has any other suggestions about keeping data / programs safe, please do share.

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: Zeros and Ones by Jesus Jones... which I have probably used in the past. Oh well. ]

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Just switch off your television set and go out and do something less boring instead?"

Hi folks,

Larks, how to start this one? There we go, just type the first thing that comes into my head and off we go eh? That normally does it and I wouldn't want to spoil you by actually writing something witty and clever now would I... although it would be nice. ;-)

I'm a bit torn (Ed: no, not like that) over today's post. On one hand, I sort of want to talk about the week being a bit pants (topped off nicely by a failed attempt at Invasion), but I'm conscious that to dwell on the negative isn't particular good for my mood, nor does it make for interesting read. So, if I'm not going to complain about stuff, I'm not going out and I've not been shopping, what is a t-girl....

[ BTW, when do you stop being a T-girl? Seeing as I'm trying to easy myself off the other T word at the mo. But that aside, I'm in the last of my 30s and while Ever Lovely Mrs Jones still has 'girls night out', so does that let me qualify too? Ahh, the life of a simple cross-dresser and the joys of language and labels... ;-) ]

.... going to blog about? Well, in time honoured tradition, you just look at a friend's blog and pinch - sorry, I mean be inspired by - their post. :-) Weak jokes aside, Sam posted an interesting article about her hobbies, interests and stuff that leaves her cold. So, after checking it was okay, I shall do the same, but first, the basic rules from Sam's post:

  • Hobbies - Things i actively take part in, That i actually do in real life. 
  • Interests - These are things i think about often, but haven't put into action (yet!). 
  • Dis-Interests - Things that i used to do, but now i either don't do, or i don't enjoy. Dare i say these are 'Hates?' 

With those ground rules laid down, off we go!


Hobbies. I've had a few, but then again, mostly nerdy.... :-) Yeah, I might be closet trans now, but I was not-so-closet-nerd in my youth. Heavy metal, role-playing games (CP2020 FTW!), computers, reading, etc. Some stayed with me, some I left by the wayside as I changed tack.

Sh**. Now that I come to think of them, it's look a pretty empty list.... Pants. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea! :-) What do I consider to be a hobby? Well, for me, it's something more than an interest: yeah, I know you didn't come here for an argument about definitions. ;-)

  • Writing:

    I guess I write for a hobby. Sure, there's the blogging stuff, but I don't consider that to be writing per say. That's more.... more a mix between social networking, being a nosey so-and-so, getting stuff off my chest and also - well, I hope! - putting out the vibe, that if I can, anyone can.

    So writing? It started off with writing a background for a role-playing game. See, I told you I was at one with my geekness. But as time went on, it became a lot less about the game and became more about the idea of the world: a rather bleak and harsh world of the future. Humanity messed up, climate knackered and the planet's in an ice age, rogue war machines and a heady mix of genetic / surgical engineering (hey, I'm trans right?) to alter people.

    Other than that, if I get an idea that interests me - something that's a spin on something I see in the real world - I'll put that in my notebook (yeah, pen and paper, baby) and maybe write something about that when the mood takes me.

    Very occasionally, I'll write a spoof article or a comedy script. Just a little short based on something I've seen or maybe read on the news. They don't tend to go far, I keep them for my own amusement more than anything. Secretly, I'd like to have a go at stand-up, but I'm terrified of not being funny enough. Really, you'd think I'd be used to that by now. ;-)
  • Walking:

    Not exactly rock and roll, but I try to get out when I can. I'm not one of those organised walkers; y'know, the folk who know what they're doing with a compass and a map. For me, it's just about getting out and stretching my legs. Being out of the office, or taking the kids plus hound for a stroll at the weekend: I'm easy really. It's an excuse to get some exercise and if the weather's good, enjoy the scenery. Provide the kids aren't nattering away, it's a little bit of quiet time where you can just enjoy what's going on around you. I don't tend to do long walks, just an hour, maybe two or three if we're on holiday.
  • Dancing:

    Okay, for anyone who's been on a trans night out will know, I can't stay away from the dance floor. Thus it was ever the case since I moved to Nottingham back in the 90s. Funny thing is, I can't do formal or organised dances at all. Ballroom, not a clue. No joy with Irish dancing (and I don't mean setting fire to an English castle. No, it's okay, I'm partly Irish, I can make that joke). But stick some cheesy pop and I'm gone, man, solid gone.... :-)

  • Baking:

    Baking, yes. Cooking, no. Cookies, cakes, treats, biccies: all good stuff and dare I say, most people who try them like them. Sure, I know your family are supposed to be nice, but you know kids: if it's wrong, they'll tell you. I think one of the nicest things someone said about my baking was a work-mate after a conference dinner. "The brownie pudding was nice, but not as good as yours." I did feel rather chuffed by that.

    I don't bake regularly and it's something I've got out of the habit of doing. It's not good for the waistline, but I find it does cheer me up. I think it's the slow process of it. You have to concentrate on what you're doing - well, I certainly do! - and you can get lost in doing so. Half an hour to an hour of non-thinking.

Oookay, that's hobbies. Wow, I'm so deep. ;-) I could have put 'the Internet' but that seems such a part of modern life now, that to me at least, it would be like someone putting "I like television". More on that later.


Stuff I like the think about or do, but I wouldn't say they were full time activities. Looking at Sam's list, these are mainly things I think about. The only item I'd say I've not actioned (to use an awful workism) would be doing something with my writing.
  • Technology:

    Am I nerd? Bah, I really don't care if you say so or not. :-) I find technology interesting: gadgets, gizmos, hacks and tweaks: they are very much part of the Jones' genetics. My Granddad was an engineer, my Dad worked in electronics, so I guess - no pun intended - it's pretty much hardwired in.

    Perhaps ironically, I don't have that many gadgets. I think that may be my Scots' heritage coming out (Ed: too tight to pay for them! :-P ) in that often I'll wait until the price comes down, or until I think I really need one. Not that we don't do too badly: a BluRay player, a PC under the TV for iPlayer....

    Which brings me on to a sub-interest of 'bodging stuff'. I guess if I was from Derby-way, I'd say I'd 'mackle' something, but I guess it's like a mix of fixing and tweaking. I like making technology do things it wasn't really designed to do. "See a need, fill a need" as a certain kids film once proclaimed.
  • Shopping:

    I shop, therefore, I am. :-) I don't have to buy anything, although that's nice. It's more the process of browsing and finding things that I like. To that end, I like shopping for people's birthdays - well, at least if I've got some idea of what they'd like.

    Top a day's shopping off with a spot of lunch or afternoon tea and I'm made-up. Nah, scratch that, if I'm out in Lynn mode and all the rest... ;-)
  • History:

    Not so much the dry stuff they'd teach you at school (or so it seemed to me), but the proper stuff: facts about people and places. Old buildings that have been renovated or altered to suit a new purpose. The changes our towns and cities go through over the years. All of those things, they fascinate me. Just the other day, I was in a pub and they had some photos from the 1900s on the walls. Snaps of Nottingham from the last century. I loved how much had changed and noticing how much hadn't.


Stuff that I just don't get.

  • Television:

    I used to watch far too much when I was younger. My pop culture bank was chock full of stuff I really didn't need to know..... and now? Now, I hardly watching any. Sure, I may watch something while the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones are downstairs, or if the kids want to watch something (more often a DVD boxes set or film nowadays). There's the odd gem that I make the time to catch, but now, whole series pass me by.

    I don't like soaps, talent shows, or...
  • Sport:

    Yawn. ;-)

    Look, I know some people like football. They like motor racing or stuff like that, but it just leaves me cold. I just don't get it. Luckily, there are lots of other things to do and no-one's sport mad in our house. My Dad's the same. Maybe I get it from him.
  • DIY:

    I am sh** at DIY. I much prefer EaP: Employ a professional. The job will look better, be done in a quarter of the time and I won't mess my nails up. Really, what's not to like? ;-)
  • Getting up:

    I'm just not a morning person. I'm probably at my most productive and awake around 8 to 10pm. If I do anything creative - writing mainly - that's when I'm in my zone. :-) No, in an ideal world, my morning would start around 9.30ish with an aim to doing something for 10. There shouldn't be any need to see a second six o'clock during the day. ;-)
  • Apple Macs... or rather, the OS.

    As a fellow blogger once put, "Thats right, a controversial one." ;-) I've used a few at work and while they're nice looking, I don't really like the way they work. It just seems a bit counter-intuitive, but maybe that says more about me than the OS. By they way, if you want a lesson in counter-intuitive, install Windows 8. :-P

    Plus, I'm not keen on Apple's walled garden, nor their legal battle against Google. They're not the only firm to fight their corner, I just wish all vendors would show a little common sense and let the consumer have choice. Hell, you've bought it, you should IMO, be able to do what you want with it.

    Does that make me a Windoze fanboi or a Linux advocate? :-D I work with both products on a daily basis and have done for more years than I care to remember. I wouldn't say I have any particular love for them. Provided they work reliably and play nicely with other systems, I'm cool with your choice.

    I see computers as a tool (Ed: stop that sniggering). If they let you do what you need to do, be that for a hobby or for work, then yay. Of all the computer users I've met - and it's been a few - I've only met three really bad zealots and (IMO) each one was as wrong as the next one. Tears before bedtime because a certain Linux distro wasn't allowed (it didn't support the product we had to use); shouting at the project meeting because Windows wasn't the solution (it didn't scale compared to the Unix offering) and snootiness from someone from the Cult of Mac (the corporate accounts software wasn't available for her machine!). Users eh? Who'd have 'em ;-)

    I dunno. You don't see kids arguing about which type of crayon is the best, why is it so different for computers? :-)

Tag. You're it!

Seeing as I've nicked Sam's style for a post, I did check about tagging folk. If you're interested in rattling off something similar, please do! I'd love to read yours..... just remember to link back to the lady in question! Umm... not that I'm questioning Sam's ladyness... that would be rude ;-)

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: the theme from BBC's "Why Don't You?" Kids, go ask your parents ;-) ]

Friday, April 13, 2012

"You can't sing,
you can't play,
you look awful.
You'll go a long way."

Hi all,

Ah, back to work after a long weekend and very pleasant holiday. Still, the week has been both short and good to me.  The good stuff is that we're all well and whatever genetic clock exists within us to kick spring cleaning off, has well and truly chimed at Chez Jones. Okay, the house isn't exactly tidy, but it's tidier than it is usually! The thing is, it's not like I can blame the kids because Little Miss's bedroom is a model of minimalism - honestly, she doesn't get that from me or the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones. I think that's Grandma's genetics at work! :-) No, I'm a messy so-and-so, but I have a clutter limit and the aforementioned internal spring cleaning drive. So, we've been moving bookshelves around - yes, we have a lot of books (Ed: at least more than a dozen and some without large print or pictures :-P) - and with home improvements on the horizon, we need to empty the back room and the garage. With luck, the builder will be getting back to me shortish. Despite the disruption, I'm looking forward to seeing the work being done.

On a less than positive note, I've not got anywhere with two of the jobs I had my eye on. Well, in all honesty, the first one was an internal position (Ed: fnarr fnarr!) and as I posted on BookFace the other week, my application was, if I say so myself, a truly excellent piece of fiction, ;-) Glib comments asdie, it wasn't all made up, a lot of it was accurate and obviously I'd angled the application to big up (yoof speak?) certain areas. Still, no dice on that one, but better to have tried and failed, etc. If nothing else, it puts your head above the parapet.

Oddly, not getting an interview - perhaps because I wasn't expecting one? - didn't disappoint me. What did, however, was that I rang up an agency I'd registered with, to talk about a consultancy job I'd had my eye on. No dice on that one either. Pants :-( Again I've got good experience, just not exactly the right type of experience they wanted. Ho hum! I think I need to work on my BS to try and hone my chances. Still, on the bright side, said job was highly likely to have required a fair bit of travel, so that would mean less family friendly hours and really, that's more important to me right now. Maybe somethings just aren't meant to be eh? As the Ever Lovely Mrs Jones says, you only need to be lucky once. It's not like I'm unhappy where am I right now - again, something to be thankful for - so, being able to take my time isn't necessarily a bad thing. Hell, I've jumped ship once (a long time ago) and as I rushed it, I ended up in a job I really didn't like. Still, that was ages ago and I'm hopeful it taught me a lesson to keep my eyes and ears open and my ego off-line.

Rolling back the clock to Thursday night, it was time to pack the proverbial glad rags and head off to Chameleons. Little Miss was staying with Granny, so I was a little late in setting off compared to usual, but again, nothing to worry about. The Zumba massive had cleared off by the time I arrived and Pat & Alison were waiting to be let in upstairs. I'd packed the night before and unusually for me, I had an idea of what I was going to wear. Maddie turned up later on and we had a good long chat about this as that as we all got changed.

Arriving downstairs, Tracey and Sandi had brought in the new photo backdrop rig they'd bought (bless 'em). Tracey had brought along her fancy camera, so lots of people got stuck in having photos taken. Well, it was a trans do after all ;-) Yes, of course, I had some snaps done - mais oui!

Miss H of  Virgin Vie fame popped in too. This time to deliver the items everyone had ordered at the last meeting and also to talk about booking a jewelry event. Seems there's a sale on, so perhaps we'll fall on a bargain. That reminds me, I must get that put on the group's web site.

A somewhat apt title? :-)
I felt a bit guilty about sloping off to the pub earlier than usual, but I had promised that I'd catch up with Alex about the 'a different journey' web site she, Maddy and I had been talking about. I headed off to the pub with Sophie and Emma X (see as Emma lives not too far away and it'll save her a bus ride home). Sam, Rachel, Maddy and Kate were already 'in da house' and as it was karaoke night, I couldn't resist a rendition of The Irish Rover. After a bit more chat - really, do we do anything other than talk? LOL - Maddy and I had a go at performing (Ed: the use of the word singing doesn't apply to them!) Take a Look Around by Limp Bizkit. A good laugh if nothing else.  At that point, most of the trans massive headed off for a curry and as it was late, Sophie and I hung on for a bit longer before calling it a night.

All good stuff really and with the weather being so much brighter, the lack of movement on the job front doesn't seem so bad. Oh, that and it's Invasion soon too. :-)

Take care,

[ Today's lyric - or rather sample : A Perfect Day to Drop the Bomb by Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine. A bonus point if you can name the advert. ;-) ]

Friday, April 06, 2012

"We'll take our hearts outside,
Leave our lives behind"

Hi folks,

Not only is it the weekend, but here in the UK, it's a long break two: the Easter Bank Holiday. Well, for those of us who don't have to work it. The Ever Lovely Mrs Jones was rather clever when she planned a short break for the Jones Massive, so we've had a week away and now we're back to a long weekend. Just time to cram in the usual stuff of food shopping, dog walking, child entertainment, family visits and - if we're lucky - a decent amount of laying about, reading books. I'm hoping there will be quite a lot of the latter. Ahh, setting my sights on the dizzy heights once again eh? :-)

The short break was very good and very welcome. Just a little cottage in the middle of nowhere in particular: a few creature comforts such as a roaring fire, large woods to walk through, comfy beds and the modern luxury of a solid WiFi signal. Funny how that is so important, well to me anyway. I suppose I don't consider myself to feel the need to be fully connected, but I guess that's a bit like Ms Marcos saying she doesn't have many pairs of shoes. ;-)

We also got a reasonable bit of walking done despite the weather. Okay, not those day long treks of yore as Little Miss's legs are still only wee, but she does well. Certainly, we managed a good yomp covering a morning or afternoon. Still, Wee Man can hold his own these days and if I can fob the backpack on to him, there's always chance of a piggy back if a certain little girl gets too tired. What else are Dad's for? :-)

Despite the odd spell of bad weather, it was great to get out as a family. Equally, there were times when the kids and the Ever Lovely Mrs J wanted to stay in, so Muggings here ended up taking the hound for a walk. I'll be open with you and say that having a pet has really helped me drive away the proverbial Black Dog. Our hound - like our last one, bless him - comes to the door when I arrive home and is happy to see me. It doesn't matter what she's been up to, she always comes and is always happy. It's a lovely feeling to be greeted like that when you get in. She's good company on a walk too and the fact that she enjoys going out, means I like taking her for walks. Back when I was feeling under the weather, people stop and talk to you when you've got a dog. It's more connectivity with other people - even if it's just a simple smile and a hello from a stranger.

What else has been going on? Well, in the absence of work, I've been catching up on reading (some good, some not so) and thinking about that art project idea. I can't really think of it in any other way, although 'art project' makes it sound like there's drawing and/or some type of visual creativity involved. Other than a spot of colouring in, my art skills are very limited.... although I can make some rather odd clay monsters. :-)

Anywho, luckily some clever folk have stepped up to the plate - namely Alex and Maddy - to assist. The former lady with web hosting wizardry and the latter, in all things... umm... design-y. Me? I'm just trying to organise and gently nudge things along. I'm conscious that lots of ideas stay in the debate stage and I'm hopeful that we can keep the momentum going and produce something workable. Will it last forever? Who knows! Provided we get a few people to pen a potted (trans) life story, that'll be enough. Maybe the work will take on a life of it's own and run and run. I really cannot say, although I'm hopeful that if it does keep ticking over, that in some way, it'll be helpful to the trans community at large.

Talking of trans stuff, it's Chameleons this coming week and I'm looking forward to going. It's been two weeks since my last trip out and I'm ready for a bit of glamour.... well, as much as yours truly can muster, but that's by the by. ;-)

Take care,

[ Today's lyric: Stars by DubStar ]