is a scam

Sorry, that’s much of a punchy title for the first new post in over a year, but the only punching I want to do right now are ones aimed at the scamming gits behind

Movie Maker is a nice, easy to use video editor that Wibs had on his old laptop.  So we downloaded it, installed it on his new one and he spent a happy hour knocking up his first movie on the new lappy.  The alarm bells started ringing in the back of my head when it said we needed to buy a registration code in order to save the video.  I didn’t remember the previous version doing that, but we couldn’t remember if we actually bought it or not.  I think the bit of my brain responsible for memory was damaged when I installed the alarm bells.

So a quick search later and I discovered that Windows Movie Maker was released by Microsoft as Freeware, and discontinued in January 2017. Freeware means not asking for money, so what the hell did we have on Wibs’ laptop?  It turns out that we had installed it from It looked and acted like Movie Maker, but it wasn’t Movie Maker. Searching for the site name is not reassuring.  At best it’s a scam, at worst it infects your computer with malware.  People have paid for a registration code and received nothing, others have had their computer damaged by it, and others have reported malicious-looking files added.  Luckily we installed it on a fairly new PC, so we didn’t lose much when I “nuked it from orbit” and re-installed Windows.

So, in conclusion and in bold red:

You do not need to pay for Windows Movie Maker.  If it asks for a registration code, it’s a scam and probably downloaded from, a scam site.  If you have used the scam version, at the very least run a good malware checker like Malwarebytes or better, re-install Windows.

There is a genuine download for Windows Movie Maker which appears to be legit, although I haven’t tried it myself yet. Thanks to John for letting me know.


A new plan

I want to discover a fundamental force of nature. What I’ll do is give it the unit of a “manilli”. Everyone will wonder why until they realise what 1/1000th of a manilli is. Then they will get that awful tune stuck in their head and hate me.

It’s a bit quiet isn’t it?

I’ve not had much to say for myself recently.  Obviously I’ve had no interesting thoughts since June, and then it was about getting bits of metal out of a skip.  What a life I must lead.

Highlights since the last blog entry:

  • Fixed the brakes on my bike
  • Fixed the washing line
  • Poisoned two rats
  • Pumped up the car’s tyres
  • Went bungee jumping in Wales, fell 200 feet before the rope snapped, crashed head-first into an underground cavern where I discovered that Keith Harris was plotting to use a nuclear arsenal to overthrow the world’s governments and install Orville the Duck as Supreme Overlord of the Earth, beat him up with my bare hands, pulled Orville’s stuffing out and disarmed 24 nuclear bombs using nothing but my knowledge of Portable Appliance Testing and an elastic band the postman had dropped outside the front door
  • Mowed the lawn
  • Bought a long handled spoon

I made one of those up, by the way.

A cunning plan

Here’s how to get rich.

1.  Hire an empty shop for a couple of weeks.

2.  Find a sofa/bed/whatever shop that is doing one of these “if you can find it cheaper, we’ll give you double the difference” deals.

3.  Buy a sofa/bed/whatever from the shop.

4.  Sell  it in your shop at 1/2 the price you bought it for.

5.  Go back to the sofa/bed/whatever shop and demand double the difference, citing the prices at your shop.

6.  Go back to step 3, using the money they just gave you.  Keep doing this until you have all their stock in your shop.

Congratulations!  You now have a fully stocked shop for the price of one sofa/bed/whatever.  Everyone will buy from your shop because that other one is twice the price and never has anything in stock.

A Grand Day Out

The nightmare journey of a what seems like a thousand miles begins with me saying “why don’t we go and see Thomas the Tank Engine at the Nene Valley Railway?” I blame Jen. My record for organising things isn’t good; I once booked a seaside holiday in what I was told was a “lovely chalet”, which turned out to be a damp shed at the bottom of someone’s garden. She should know better than to agree to one of my ideas, especially when I’m organising it too. There was a lot riding on this trip – Thomas is a very firm favourite of Wibs so failure was not an option.

The plan was simple. Take the train to Peterborough, walk to Railworld and Nene Valley Railway station, see Thomas, have a quick ride, a bite to eat, a look around and head back home. What could possibly go wrong? Jen, Wibs, a buggied-up Jimbo and I set off confidently.

“Can I see Thomas yet?” asked Wibs. No, not yet. Just a short walk, a train ride, another walk and then you can see him.

Once we were aboard the train to Peterborough and the buggy was safely wedged in the doorway, the kids’ excitement of riding on a train lasted almost up to the point when it started moving. Wibs and Jimbo amused themselves by kicking the seats of the poor bastards in front of us, banging on the seats of the poor bastards in front of us and ignoring our orders to stop kicking and banging the seats of the poor bastards in front of us.

Peterborough. Here we are! Shit! Why is the only way off this platform up a huge flight of stairs to a bridge? Young Jimbo was violently bounced around in his buggy as a kindly stranger and I sweated and aarghed it up the stairs. I could hear my vertebrae screaming as we carried him down the other side, but Jimbo seemed to be enjoying the ride.

“What do the directions say about getting to Railworld?” asked Jen as we reached the exit. Now, only a complete fool would forget to print out the directions to Railworld and the Nene Valley railway station. “Don’t worry, there will be signs to it” I guessed optimistically, and just this once, I was correct.

“Can I see Thomas yet?” asked Wibs. No, not yet. Just a short walk and then you can see him.

We followed the signs. The looming towers of car parks provided an interesting counterpoint to the scary dinginess of the subways and underpasses but, as we doggedly trudged on, they were replaced by the hustle and bustle of a busy dual carriageway, the concrete splendour of the Asda car park and then a bridge with fine views of tramps in their natural habitat; the special wasteland you only get next to bridges, shouting and throwing bottles at each other. The path now went alongside a river and we walked past someone apparently fishing for turds.

“Can I see… yuck, what is that horrible smell?” asked Wibs as we walked under a urine-soaked railway bridge. “It’s Thomas piss” I replied. Well, I would have, had I not just been stunned into silence by the huge swan from the depths of hell which blocked our path, stretching out its 12 foot wingspan and baring its huge razor-sharp teeth. OK, it didn’t have teeth but it wasn’t any less scary for lacking them. “I think we should take a different path” whispered Jen, as I left her standing and ran past the swan, courageously using Jimbo and the buggy as a shield between my delicate body and hissing, feathered death. “Thanks for waiting” sarcasmed Jen, as she and Wibs joined us from the longer but safer path. Our tempers were back in the Asda car park somewhere.

“Can I see Thomas yet?” asked Wibs. Soon. We are almost there.

We arrived at Derelict Rusting Portakabin World, which turned out to be Railworld. The decaying boxes had all the charm of a vandalised toilet but weren’t as pretty. A spherical bloke informed us it was £10 each to see whatever foulness lurked within the quite scary-looking Portakabins. We were lucky it was still there, he told us sadly, it’s all going to be knocked down in a couple of weeks. “Well, a pile of rubble will be an improvement” I just about managed to stop myself saying. We declined and asked directions to Thomas. “He’s not here” laughed spherical bloke, “he’s at the other end of the line. You’ll have to get the train.” Of course.

“Can I see Thomas yet?” asked Wibs. Sorry Wibs, it’s just another train journey and then you can see Thomas. “You’ve just missed the train” said spherical bloke cheerfully, “it’s an hour until the next one”. Sorry Wibs, it’s an hour’s wait, a train journey and then you can see Thomas.

Never mind, at least we could have some lunch. Squatting next to Rusting Portakabin World was 70’s Yellowing Melamine Nightmare Cafe World. There were staff in it, but it didn’t look very open. A cafe would have to be mad to be closed in the middle of summer at lunchtime, surely? It was closed. Luckily, the Nene Valley Railway ticket office was open to provide the boys with a healthy, nutritious lunch of muffin and crisps. They ate to the howls and screeches of pneumatic paintstripping tools, eminating from the train scrapyard next to Derelict Rusting Portakabin World. This was actually a good thing because the hideous racket obscured the shouty fuckbastarding of the local Community Service yobs painting the station fence.

Jen went back to the ticket office to inquire about tickets to go up the track to see Thomas, and almost fainted when she found out it would cost £21. I took a deep breath and went in to buy them. There was a loud thump as I discovered that she had been told the wrong price and it was actually £35 to travel about 5 poxy miles up the line. But failure was not an option. I thought of Wibs, climbed to my feet and handed over all my money.

“Can I see Thomas yet?” asked Wibs. Soon. The train will be here soon and then it’s just a short ride and then you can see Thomas. And everyone will be happy.

The old rolling stock of the Nene Valley Railway provided enough room for the kids to wander about and annoy everyone in the whole carriage. On modern ones, they can only torment those poor sods in the immediate vicinity, unless I take them for a scream and a shout in a different carriage.

We arrived at the other end of the line. It had taken about four hours from leaving home and I had been wallet raped, but by god we had finally reached the station where Thomas was supposed to be.

“Can I see Thomas yet?” asked Wibs. He should be at this station. Christ. What is that over there? It’s blue and there is steam coming out of the top! It’s Thomas! He’s going to be coming in to the station! On the other platform! That you can only get to by going up the stairs to a bridge! Fuck! Run! Never mind about Jimbo, just get the fucking buggy up the stairs before Thomas pisses off again. Come on! Hurry! Get out of my fucking way kids! Eat buggy, granny! We’re coming through!

“Have you got the camera?” asked Jen. Oh come on – what do you think? “I’ll take some pictures on my phone’s camera” I replied. And I would have done if the battery hadn’t been flat.

“Can I see Thomas yet?” asked Wibs. Yes you can. Look. Here he comes, puffing in to the station in all his glory. Peep peep! The huge beaming smile on Thomas’ cheery face is nothing compared to the wonderful grin on Wibs’. This is the moment that makes it all worthwhile.

But then there was a slight frown.

“Why is he not talking?” asked Wibs.

Yipes. “Errrr… well, he’s saying ‘wheesh’ and ‘peep'”

“But why is Thomas not talking to me?”

“But he is sort of talking by saying wheesh and well, you know he’s very tired from going peep, pulling the trains and” other pathetic excuses that cut no ice with a disappointed four year old. All Wibs knew was that Thomas didn’t want to talk to him.

We had just spent 60 pounds, spent all day travelling on trains, walked miles, seen the seedy underbelly of Peterborough (the fluffy top part isn’t that great), been threatened by the wildlife and driven the kids mad with boredom, all for Wibs to have his dreams ruined by discovering that Thomas is some sort of elitist bastard who won’t talk to him. Yes, that’ll be a day out organised by me then.

I’ll shorten the return journey; buggy back over the bridge, train back to Derelict Rusting Portakabin World station. I swear that if that swan comes near me I’ll break it’s fucking neck. Trudge back to Peterborough station and drag the buggy back over yet another bridge. Kids get very, very loud and screamy on the train to Cambridge while everyone else in the carriage fantasises about chucking us out of the window. Jimbo bites me twice on the shoulder, almost drawing blood. Wibs sulks because Thomas hates him. We arrive at Cambridge, where Wibs accidentally drops his favourite car off the platform. We have to leave it on the tracks and he cries for most of the walk home.

When we finally got back, I promised never to suggest anything again, ever. Jen promised never to listen to me again, ever.

My daily bread

Apropos of nothing, here is my recipe for bread that I use with my Panasonic SD254 bread maker.

  • 300g Good quality strong flour (Hovis Strong bread flour)
  • 175g Cheapo strong flour (Tesco strong bread flour)
  • 5ml Tesco fast acting yeast
  • 7.5ml Sugar
  • 5ml Salt
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground ginger
  • 20g butter
  • 2.5ml Vinegar
  • 315ml Water

Put the yeast in first and cover with the flour. Then bung all the other ingredients on top, making sure that the water can’t get to the yeast. I use the measuring spoon I got with the bread maker to measure out the quantities, except for the water, where I use the scales and measure out 315g of water.

Yeast likes a slightly acidic environment, which is why some people add ascorbic acid. I find that acetic acid (vinegar) works as well, making the bread springier but not affecting the taste. The other additive – ginger, helps keep the bread fresh.

Other handy hints: cheapo flour is about 1/2 the price of the good stuff, but never works as well, producing heavy, stodgy bread. As long as you don’t use too much, adding a certain amount of cheap flour to the good stuff doesn’t have any discernible affect but saves a few pennies every day. I find 300/175 good to cheap works well.

It’s best to give the bread at least an hour to cool and dry out slightly before hacking inexpertly at it with the bread knife. If you can’t wait that long, you can make cutting over-fresh bread easier by cleaning the blade of the knife every other slice and keeping it nice and sharp. Electric knives are not worth the money unless you’ve got something wrong with your wrist.

That’s it. Here is a picture of one of the many failures that I created before I got this recipe right.

Life after death?

Ooh, prickly
Ooh, prickly

I was walking back to the house, having just done a quick milk dash to the Coop with young Jimbo in the buggy. As I passed the church on the way back, I saw a poster in the window. It said:

Life After Death?

and had one of those thingies on the right here next to it. I think you are supposed to use them to keep your trilby on in high winds or something. I prefer to use Blu-tack myself.

Anyway, without thinking and talking aloud, I heard myself say “Life after death? No bloody thanks, I want a rest”.

Mopping up

Long time no drivel. I’ve been hanging around at Blah Your Branes, which is a site dedicated to taking the piss out of people who post to the BBC’s “Have Your Say” board. It might sound a bit odd, but have a look if you aren’t easily offended.

Now, to business. I received this rather splendid Nigerian 419 Scam this morning. It’s not the normal one though, it’s a kind of meta-scam which I found quite charming, in a fraudulent sort of way. They are obviously running out of victims and are re-visiting existing ones, mopping up those who go beyond merely dumb and greedy, charting new waters into the terminally gullible.

Subject: Compensation Notice


(under the auspices of EFCC)

Attn: Scammed Victim,

This notice is to keep you informed that Mr. President/commander in-chief of armed forces federal republic of Nigeria,during the last federal executive council meeting inaugurated both bodies ECONOMIC & FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION (EFCC) in collaboration with the UNITED NATIONS (UN). I was mandated by both bodies to apologize to all those involved in the scam by Nigerians,and those listed for this exercise and of which you are among the list of scammed victims.

Note that money valued USD100, 000.00 has been approved in your favor as compensation following directives of Mr. President and therefore you are advised to forward the following information?s below to enable the apex bank process your fund for payment to you without any form of interference or delay.

Full Names:
Your Complete Home Address:
Your Tel/Mobile Numbers:

We will appreciate your immediate response; hence we have 7 working days to conclude with this exercise.

Best Regards,

Mr. Tom West

Isn’t that lovely? I would almost wish them luck with it, if I didn’t already wish them a fiery and painful death as they roast slowly on a spit.

Bad math tax

Adverts for the UK lottery make me want to rant. So I will.

Let’s give it up for the optimists out there. Don’t just dream of being a lucky winner – think big and think positive, as those dreams could come true.

No they won’t. Sorry to be a spoilsport here, but you will not win the lottery. Yes, I know someone has to win it, but it won’t be you. Yes, I can say that for certain. You will not win the lottery.

It’s not that the odds are low, it’s just how mind-bendingly low those odds are. Let’s give it up for the optimists out there. Give what up? Thinking? No, let’s actually have a think for those people who can’t really grasp huge numbers, which is all of us really. I’m not exactly a genius (I know, false modesty…) and I can’t get my head round the numbers either. So let’s try to put things in perspective…

Think about when you and someone toss a coin to decide who does the washing up, changes the nappy etc. Think about how often you win. Well, it’s half the time, isn’t it? Now take this coin and flip it. Got a heads? Excellent. You only need to get the equivalent of 23 more consecutive heads to win the lottery jackpot. If any one of those tosses results in a tails you lose. So that’s

  1. Flip-Heads [2:1]
    (It’s worth considering here, that after just one flip and with all those other flips stretching out below, you’ll only get to this point half the time)
  2. Flip-Heads [4:1]
    (We are only two flips in and already there is more chance you’ll get cancer than flip 2 heads in a row. Sorry about this, but you are almost 5 million times more likely to get cancer than win the lottery)
  3. Flip-Heads [8:1]
  4. Flip-Heads [16:1]
  5. Flip-Heads [32:1]
  6. Flip-Heads [64:1]
  7. Flip-Heads [128:1]
    (It is more probable that your car was stolen this year than to flip 7 heads in a row)
  8. Flip-Heads [256:1]
  9. Flip-Heads [512:1]
  10. Flip-Heads [1,024:1]
  11. Flip-Heads [2,048:1]
  12. Flip-Heads [4,096:1]
    (Half way there, and
    you are more likely to have died in a car crash than to have got this far)
  13. Flip-Heads [8,192:1]
  14. Flip-Heads [16,384:1]
  15. Flip-Heads [:132,768]
  16. Flip-Heads [65,536:1]
  17. Flip-Heads [131,072:1]
    (If you managed to survive the car wreck at flip 12, a bee or snake sting will kill you here)
  18. Flip-Heads [262,144:1]
  19. Flip-Heads [524,288:1]
  20. Flip-Heads [1,048,576:1]
    At this point, with odds of just 1/730,000, it is now more likely that the supervolcano in Yellowstone Park has erupted and wiped out life on earth as we know it.
  21. Flip-Heads [2,097,152:1]
  22. Flip-Heads [4,194,304:1]
    (If the cancer, drunk driver or killer bees didn’t kill you earlier, if the Yellowstone supervolcano didn’t wipe out life on earth, this is where you die in a plane crash)
  23. Flip-Heads [8,388,608:1]
  24. Flip-Heads [16,777,216:1]
    (Actually it’s only 14,000,000:1 but what’s a couple of million when the numbers are this big?)

Yay! You won! If you play the lottery weekly, on average it’ll take just 4,500 lifetimes to win. Assuming you get reincarnated a lot.

But never mind. There are other prizes aren’t there? Tell you what – forget about the odds – look at the lottery as an investment. Give me a quid and I’ll give you back 20p. OK, I’m actually being a bit more generous than the lottery is, but I’m nice like that.

Invest your money in me and I’ll give you more back than the lottery does. I’ll take Paypal payments. Go on. Give it up.