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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Public Google Calendar for Bank and Public Holidays in England and Wales

I have now created a Google Calendar England and Wales bank and public holidays, and populated it up until the end of 2015 (that being the limit of information published at

This is intended as a fat-free, strictly holidays-only calendar, no "funny little extra days". The reason for this is that it is easy to overlay another calendar, but impossible to exclude parts of calendars. So if someone wants a calendar that includes Valentine's day, Pancake day etc, please feel free to make one.

This calendar only includes holidays which apply in England and Wales. It does not include holidays which only apply to Scotland or Northern Ireland, though it does say when holidays in those regions coincide with with holidays in England and Wales. I do not intend to make a Scotland calendar or Northern Ireland calendar; if you want one, please feel free to create and maintain it yourself.

Google doesn't seem to offer any kind of sane public calendar searching any more (and is suspiciously silent on the reason why), so here are the links for it:

Calendar ID:

Embed: <iframe src="" style="border: 0" width="800" height="600" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>




If you like it, please tell your friends.

Any bugs or suggestions, please let me know .

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

What makes children naughty?

I have been involved in raising three children. Sometimes they were naughty, or awkward, or uncooperative, or miserable, or annoying, or cranky, or crispy, or silly.

After much observation and experimentation, I came to the conclusion that nearly all of the time this undesirable behaviour stemmed from the child being in one of these six states:

  • Hungry
  • Thirsty
  • Tired
  • Poorly
  • Needs a poo
  • Done a poo

So much so that I made this up into a little saying, putting these things into pairs: Hungry or thirsty; tired or poorly; needs a poo, done a poo.

("Done a poo" only applies to the child who is still in nappies; the others apply through toddlerdom, and into early childhood, and who knows how long beyond that.)

Of course each of these six states has something you can do to get the child out of them:

  • Hungry: Feed
  • Thirsty: Give drink
  • Tired: Send to bed
  • Poorly: Give Calprofen (Ibuprofen in liquid formulated for children)
  • Needs a poo: Encourage to do poo. Give warm tea. (In future ensure they drink enough so their poo doesn't get so hard.)
  • Done a poo: Change nappy

and once that is done, the child usually cheers up rapidly.

So whenever the child would become naughty, I would think through the list of six things and try to divine if one of them could be the problem.

So for example in the morning we would usually give them a drink of milk. But if that was delayed for any reason, they would tend to be thirsty and this would make them naughty. But by giving them a drink, they would rapidly cheer up again.

One time my boy didn't get enough to drink after breakfast, and he became naughty and uncooperative. I realised what the problem was: thirst. But on this occasion there was a problem: he was now so uncooperative that I could not get him to drink anything. A vicious circle.

I decided to time how long things would take. It took … 45 minutes … to persuade him to drink something. He then drank a significant proportion of a glass of drink. I then watched to see how long it would take for the drink to take effect.

The time taken for the drink to take effect?

Eight minutes!

— after which time he was once again happy.

This was understandably frustrating at the time: to have to spend so long persuading him, when the drink had such a relatively quick effect.

But this experience proved to be gold dust afterwards. If ever he became "over thirsty" and uncooperative, I could always explain to him that he was cranky because he was thirsty and remind him that a drink would cheer him up in eight minutes. Because there was a concrete example to refer to, it would have a much better bet at punching through his uncooperative frame of mind.

I wonder how many parents do not realise that these six things are often what makes children naughty, and waste untold effort disciplining and sanctioning their children, when all that might be needed is a drink, or to feed them at regular intervals.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adobe Flash Player 11 direct download links

A little while ago, I posted an article with direct download links for Adobe Flash Player.

This worked fine for Flash Player version 10, but since then Adobe has published version 11, and the existing links now return only the version 10 player.

I have now managed to procure links for Flash Player version 11. As Adobe have now made a 64-bit version of the Flash Player in version 11, there are now more different versions than there were under version 10, so there are more links.

Windows 64-bit

Flash Player for browsers other than Internet Explorer:

Flash Player for Internet Explorer:

Note: the 64-bit installers will install Flash Player for 32-bit and 64-bit browsers.

Windows 32-bit

Flash Player for browsers other than Internet Explorer:

Flash Player for Internet Explorer:


Flash Player for supported browsers:


Windows 32-bit:

Windows 64-bit:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Avoiding Click-to-Run on MS Office 2010

Setting up a PC for a client, one of the things which needed to be done was to install Office 2010 Home & Student.

In this case, all that was supplied with the PC was a product key on a card, but with no instructions on the card as to how to use it (FAIL!). There is some MS Office in the pre-load image on the PC, but I was specifically re-installing from scratch to get rid of the manufacturer's crapware.

It later transpired that this was a Product Key Card — another case where you need to know the "magic" name of a thing in order to make progress.

So, it later transpired that you can go to Microsoft, and there is a page which tells you how to use a Product Key Card.

Part way through the process, it told me that the key I had was associated with a pre-loaded install. This immediately gave me a sinking feeling that they would then block me from downloading the Office install. But it turned out it was just a warning and I was able to proceed.

So I followed my nose, and ended up downloading a thing which turned out to the the beginnings of a "Click-to-Run" installation of Office 2010 Home & Student.

In summary, with Click-to-Run it pretends that you already have everything installed, and when you try to use something, if it hasn't already got it, it promply goes away and downloads just that bit. In the meantime, it downloads everything so that eventually you have it. The idea is that you can start using it straight away. Personally, I don't see it as much of a benefit. People understand that they have to download it and run it, and the problems caused by Click-to-Run tend to outweigh the touted benefits.

One problem with Click-to-Run is that it sets up a Q: drive, which is for some reason necessary for the virtualisation to run. The problem with this is that it's one more piece of weirdness for people to deal with; one more thing to explain to my client. Gee, thanks Microsoft.

I happened to have a sniff round on the subject and stumbled across a little golden nugget of information: You don't have to use Click-and-Run. You can just do a conventional download-and-install. The feature is hidden away behind a quiet "Advanced Options" button.

It's described in (my emphasis):

In order to successfully use the Office Click-to-Run version of Office Home and Business 2010 or of Office Home and Student 2010, use one of the following methods:

  • Determine which application or which hardware uses the Q: drive letter, and then move it off the Q: drive by referring to the documentation from the manufacturer or to a support channel of the manufacturer for help. After the Q: drive is made available, the installation does not display the error.
  • Download a version of Office 2010 that is not an Office Click-to-Run product. To do this, visit the site where you purchased Office 2010, and sign in by using your Live ID. Then, click My Account at the top of the home page to access your Office 2010 downloads. Click Download for the suite that you purchased, and then click Advanced Options under Download Now. A version of Office 2010 is listed that is not an Office Click-to-Run product and that does not require the Q: drive to be available.

It sounds implausible, but it actually works. You do go through "My Account", and there is an Advanced Options link, and going through there results in options for "32-bit download", "64-bit download", and "Click-to-Run". All you then need to is take the 32-bit download and it gives you a 900+ MB file, which is the complete installer for Office 2010 Home & Student. Cool.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Dell Downloads - Beaten

Setting up a PC for a client recently, I wanted to flatten the main Windows partition and re-install from the Windows install DVD.

All the drivers can be downloaded from Dell. But some of the software is a bit more sensitive, like the CyberLink DVD playing software, and can't be downloaded. Nor it is supplied with the machine on a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM.

All is not lost however, as the CyberLink DVD playing software can be downloaded via My Dell Downloads. The website gives you a little program which verifies your machine's service tag and then lets you download the more sensitive softwares which are associated with your PC. You are, however, limited to three downloads per file.

You get a little program which downloads the files you want. Each program comes as a nice packaged Zip file.

But then we have a problem. The little program downloads the Zip files, then promptly unpacks them, then promptly deletes the Zip file!

No! I want that Zip file, because it's a nice single file which encapsulates the program. OK, I could probably make up a new Zip file, but I like having the most original version of anything.

It turns out that there is a solution. We can use the NTFS permission system to our advantage. We can change the permissions on the directory ("Documents/My Dell Downloads") so as to remove the "delete" privileges. I found two delete privileges so removed them both. If you want to do the same, your waypoints are that you need to get into the permissions dialog, then do "Advanced", then turn off inheritance, copy existing inherited rights, then remove the delete privileges from all users.

Delete privileges removed, we can now use the little program to download any files we like, and when it tries to delete the Zip file, it promptly falls over with an error, and we are left with the nice original Zip file.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adobe Flash player direct download link

Update 2011-11-02: The links below are currently returning an old version of Flash (, rather than the current version 11. For download links for Adobe Flash Player version 11, see my later post Adobe Flash Player 11 direct download links.

I kept Googling for these, and sifting through the search results to find the "good" answers.

To save me having to do that again, I thought it might be a good idea to find the good answers, and then write them down here.

Adobe Flash player direct download for Firefox [URL now de-linked and shown for posterity only. See Adobe Flash Player 11 direct download links]
Adobe Flash player direct download for Internet Explorer [URL now de-linked and shown for posterity only. See Adobe Flash Player 11 direct download links]

Monday, September 12, 2011

'puppet resource user' fails with 'Could not find file /root/resource.pp'

Trying to follow the documentation for 'Puppet', we try a simple

puppet resource user

only to find that we are presented with the error message 'Could not find file /root/resource.pp'.

Googling over the error message returns nothing useful.

The answer is that in Puppet v2.6.0 things were changed to use a single binary rather than several binaries, but you are using a version of Puppet prior to v2.6.0 (for example you are using the one out of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Puppet v0.25.4).

(In case you're wondering why the Ubuntu 10.04 version appears to be so hideously ancient, the answer is that it isn't; Puppet switched version numbering paradigms and went straight from v0.25.5 to v2.6.0.)

puppet resource is the new way to invoke ralsh. So the way to do what we originally set out to do it to use

ralsh user

which will give you a dump of user data in Puppet RAL format.

If you have a look at the relevant bit of the changelog you can see the relationship between the new forms and the old forms.