'GC' in the snow, Woodford Halse, 9-Feb-2009

Friday, 23rd April 2009: Catching up on St. Georges Day!

Having spent the last four months either working on our boat at Cropredy or dealing with administration and correspondence at our house at Woodford Halse (the latter was mainly connected with tidying up our business affairs - after the demise last year of our principal client, Planet Three Publishing, who went to the wall owing us a tidy sum that must now be written off, we have decided to wind up our commercial activities and concentrate much more of our time on enjoying life afloat) the last few months have just flown past and there has been little time to update our website or keep in contact with our friends - hopefully these omissions will be rectified in the next few months. The year started with heavier than average falls of snow and the canal was completely iced over for a couple of weeks. The photograph above shows 'GC', the famous ginger cat, surveying his snow covered 'hunting grounds' at Woodford while the picture at the bottom of the page shows ducks coping with the ice at Cropredy.

What started as the simple task of replacing the cabin batteries, grew and grew until the entire electrical system in the engine room had been overhauled. This included replacing the original 10 Amp battery charger with a new Sterling 25 Amp unit, changing all the wiring and installing a SmartGauge to monitor the battery voltages and charge levels. While undertaking this work, we made use of the extensive technical information pages on the SmartGauge website which are absolutely packed with helpful guidance and explanations. As with all boat maintenance jobs it all took much longer and proved far more expensive that we expected but, at least, it is finished now and we are very pleased with the results. When all the work was completed and tidied up at the end of March, Tom Keeling, the Boat Safety Scheme examiner, carried out a thorough inspection and issued our new certificate.

We are not entirely sure how it happened, but at sometime during the last three months some person, unknown to us, managed to write some rogue script onto all our web pages. The script was invisible to most web browsers but from what we could decipher it reported details of site visitors back to an i.p. address in Latvia. This activity could have been harmless but there is always a suspicion or possibility that it may have been malicious - for that reason, we have carefully edited and removed the unwanted script from every page. This was an extremely tedious operation but it does mean that we can now be sure that each page is clean! To protect ourselves and anyone else who reads these pages, we have increased the site security levels significantly and, as a result we are confident that it cannot happen again. The increased security may cause a few glitches and we welcome any reports by email regarding pages that misbehave, images that are not loading correctly or, for that matter, anything at all!

Perhaps not connected with the above but at the beginning of April we also discovered malicious software on our computer. It was able to to hide itself by hijacking the file names of legitimate Microsoft Windows components and it caused the computer to run very slowly - then it started redirecting the results of our Internet searches to websites that were, at best, completely irrelevant and, in the worst cases, downright unhealthy. We also found that it was blocking access to certain helpful websites (like www.bleepingcomputer.com) and preventing us from editing the Windows Registry or using other, previously successful, corrective measures. Our regular security system had failed to pick it up, as did two other highly recommended 'anti-malware' programs, so we ended up having to re-format the hard drive and re-install the operating system - at least we now know that our system is clean - that is until something else finds a way of getting through the 'firewall'.

After all that, we were quite fed-up with computers and boat maintenance so we went boating again - the initial plan was to head up the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union Canal, firstly for the Crick Boat Show (which took place during the weekend of the 23rd to the 25th May 2009) and then on up as far as Loughborough and possibly Nottingham before returning via the Trent & Mersey Canal to Fradley Junction and back through Birmingham to Cropredy but during the course of travelling to Crick we settled on a more ambitious destination.

Ducks at Cropredy, 9-Feb-2009

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© Graham & Jane Oliver 2009