This one takes a bit of prep but the flavour pays off. Not the cheapest dish, so wheel it out for a special occasion

750g seafood cocktail
3 chicken thighs, boned & cut into bitesize pieces
200g bite sized pork cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
Half tsp paprika

1 finely chopped small onion
2 green peppers – in strips
2 chopped large tomatoes
500g easy cook short grain rice
1250ml hot or boiling liquid
Half tsp saffron
Salt & pepper

Brown two cloves garlic and the bay leaf over a high heat in half the oil. Remove and set aside.
Brown the chicken and and pork and set aside.
Add the onion and pepper and cook for a few minutes.
Add the tomatoes and the remaining oil and cook over a high heat.
Add the rice and cook for a few more minutes, stirring regularly.
For the liquid, use stock from bones, seafood trimmings etc, and/or a Knorr stock cube. Add now, with the chicken and pork and continue to cook on a high heat.
Crush or blend the fried garlic and bay leaf with the saffron, paprika and the remaining clove of (raw) garlic. Add to the paella and season to taste.
Stir well.
Turn down the heat and simmer until the rice is cooked.
Remove from the heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Spicy Rice

Another convenient and filling one pot dish. Not too expensive, once you have a stock of spices

8oz/225g minced lamb/beef
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic
2 sticks celery
1 green pepper
2 tsp thyme
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp tomato puree
100g white rice, rinsed
Half pint stock
Quarter tsp Tabasco sauce
Pinch cayenne
Salt and pepper
Fry mince, onion, garlic, celery and pepper until browned. Add herbs & spices and cook for 2 minutes

Add all remaining ingredients, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Parsnip & Pear Soup

I have no idea why this is on the list, but I had it once and it must have been delicious…

1 oz butter
12 oz parsnips
1 onion, chopped
2 large Conference pears, peeled cored and chopped.
1 pint light stock
Half pint milk
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley, to garnish
Melt the butter in a large saucepan on the hotplate.

Add the parsnips, onion and pears and fry gently until the onion is transparent.

Add the stock and milk and bring slowly to the boil.

Season with salt and pepper, cover and simmer gently on the coolest part of the hotplate for approximately 20 – 30 mins, until the vegetables are tender.

Puree the soup in a blender or a food processor and check the seasoning.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve with oven baked croutons.

Stilton & Cauliflower Soup

This is delicious, especially in the winter months. Just remember that the stilton has a tendency to sink to the bottom, so keep stirring while eating

Half oz butter
1 onion, chopped
1 cauliflower broken into florets
1 pint light stock
1 bouquet garni
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon cornflour
Half pint milk
4 oz blue Stilton, crumbled
Chopped parsley to garnish
Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and fry until soft. Add the cauliflower, stock, bouquet garni and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes; cool slightly.

Remove the bouquet garni. Sieve or process in an electric blender until smooth.

Blend the cornflour with 2 tablespoons of the milk. Add to the puree with the remaining milk. Bring to the boil again, stirring.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.

Pour into warmed individual soup bowls and garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.

Gill Counselling

As an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Gill de Sylva wanted a light, bright and positive website to provide information to potential clients.


Edge Won’t Stay Running After Creators Update

This kept me up for a bit.  Microsoft Edge dies after 30-60 seconds of opening, Event id 10010 logged in the system log, application failed to register with DCOM in the time period…

many people on forums are blaming security software, citing Palo Alto or Malwarebytes in a couple of reports I’ve read.

In my case it’s been all Trusteer Rapport, but this is an easy one to check for.  Uninstall Rapport and you will hopefully be launched into a faultless Edge session!  Bingo.

I have yet to see if reinstalling Rapport will bring the problem back, but when the computers go back to the customers we’ll find out.  It definitely seems linked to the Creators Update though.

I don’t personally care for Rapport. I’ve never installed it however hard my banks pushed and have never regretted it, but then I am slavishly set on complex passwords which will never be aired on a post-it note.

Converting Word docs to PDF

I’m often asked by users of older version of Office, how they can create PDFs and which internet tools are to be avoided.  Rather than limit the functionality, or share your documents with some unknown third party, it is simple to give your computer the ability to create PDFs from anything, in the same way that you can print anything.

Here is the body of an email that I sent to one of my customers this morning:

For writing PDFs, you need a tool called Cute PDF Writer, which can be downloaded here:

It relies on a second utility called Ghostscript which should be installed automatically as part of the process, or to be sure you can install it first here:

Once you have both tools there will be a new printer in your list, so you can print any documents from any application and just choose the Cute PDF Writer as the target.  You will be prompted for a location to save to.

How Safe Is Your Data?

The internet is full of scare stories about the latest viruses and ransomware that will encrypt your files, or simply delete it without trace.  These aren’t just scare stories, I have customers on my own little address list who have lost data to scammers.

You can’t underestimate the dangers of losing critical data.  Yet the complexity of managing backups for yourself can be daunting.  If you copy it to an external disk, how do you make sure the disk is safe?  What if it’s swept off the shelf by a passing tea trolley?  If it’s stolen, have you done enough to make the data unreadable to whoever gets their hands on it?  Data protection is a hot topic these days, so handing over all your customers’ names and addresses could be as much of a disaster as losing your data altogether.

Many backup processes have fallen flat because no-one checked the logs to make sure they completed successfully, or because no-one ever thought to run a test and make sure the data was usable when it was copied back off the device.

The answer nowadays is refreshingly simple.  With the increased availability of high speed internet connections (yes, I know, it’s never as quick as you’d like,but that’s beside the point), backing up to remote locations is now feasible for most businesses.

Your checkpoints:

Is my data going to be far enough away from the office if it burns down or there’s some natural disaster and an ark appears out of nowhere?  Yes.  Internet backups can have your data at the other end of the country.

Is my data going to be secure?  Yes.  Thanks to all the work that the banking sector has put into encryption, both when transmitting across the internet and when storing in a datacentre, these technologies are now available to the rest of us.

What if the datacentre suffers some catastrophic event – will my data disappear from their systems?  No.  Any datacentre provider adheres to strict regulations to make sure that there is at least one other copy of your data at least 25km away.

What about restoring all that information in the event that something goes horribly wrong?  If you’re not going to another site with super quick internet connections, you can request that your data be recovered to a conventional disk drive and couriered direct to your new location.

Is it safe?  Yes.  You will set the encryption key and you can make it as complex as you like.  The staff at the datacentre won’t know it and they won’t be storing it for any hackers to pick up.  Of course, if you want to set your encryption key to “abc123” we can’t stop you!

How do I know the job is running regularly?  You will control how often it runs, though we usually recommend overnight when your lines are quietest.  If something stops a backup from running at its scheduled time you will be free to start it again manually.  If the job repeatedly fails and you haven’t noticed, someone from the datacentre will make contact, just to make sure you’re aware.

Are you sure it will have time to backup all my data every night?  Well, the first copy will take some time, but after that the software will run “block level copies”, transmitting only the chunks of a file which have changed, not the entire thing.

Isn’t this going to cost me an arm and a leg?  No.  Prices start from £1 per GB per month for this fully managed, security compliant service that could have you sleeping at night again.

Now isn’t that the cheapest IT technician you ever hired?

For more information, please get in touch using one of the channels on our contact page.

We look forward to hearing from you!

Great Value Laptops

It’s never been easy to pick out the great deals from the huge range that’s available in store and on the internet, so if you’re looking for a new computer why not start here?


[amazon_link asins=’B01N5MBZD9,B01MRSXP2H,B01IMX5VAK,B01M4KL97V,B01NAW8DX0′ template=’ProductCarousel’ store=’11december-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’d682e243-1e9d-11e7-b214-45b582c29a7e’]

Here is a selection of handpicked Dell laptops at great prices.  We’re starting with the i3 Inspiron with 4GB memory, rising to the 7th generation i7 with 16GB memory and an NVidia GTX 1050Ti graphics card.  It comes at a price but we think it’s worth every penny.

Canon Printer Error 6C10

I nearly had to wave goodbye  to my trust Canon ip4700 this week.  Every time I tried to print I got an error 6C10 and every time I looked that up, printer boffs and forums told me the ink pads were saturated and they needed replacement.

Just to put that into context, a set of pads is £65, or a replacement printer (which would also upgrade me to wifi and a built in scanner) is £40.


Not to be deterred, and in recognition of the literally hundreds of printable CDs, sheets of A4 photo paper and the reams of invoices and bills that come out each year when I run my accounts, I  searched again.  This time I found someone who had looked elsewhere and cleared his 6C10 by cleaning the print head.  Not only that, he cleaned it with warm water, not one of the cleaning fluids advertised on ebay.

Suffice it to say, after a trimmed down process which took all of 15 minutes, I now have a working printer again.  Long may that continue!

You can see the process in action here:

error: Content is protected !!