Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Computer Maintenance Tips

Computer Maintenance Tips

Eleven Tips to Keep your Computer Running Smoothly
1. Never, never, turn your computer off with the power switch until Windows has shut down. The one exception to this rule is when your computer locks up and your hard drive is not running (hard drive light is not blinking). In this situation, you can turn the power off without harmful effects to the hard drive. As cutting the power can also result in lost data or Windows files, you should only do this when you have to.
Following this rule will prevent permanent hard drive defects caused by the hard drive heads contacting the surface of the drive disc, and it will prevent a host of Windows problems.
Whenever possible, recover from crashes by pressing the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys at the same time. Press them again to reboot your computer 
2. I highly recommend that you purchase an UPS (uninterruptible power supply) for your computer. This will keep your computer from crashing during power outages, and will protect your computer from low and high voltage occurrences.
An UPS is far superior to a surge protector and will save your computer from almost any type of power disaster. (See #1 above for what happens when your computer crashes.)
4. Run Scandisk and Defragment at least once a month. This will keep your hard drive healthy and prevent crashes. Alternatively, purchase a disk utility program and use it to keep your hard drive healthy. These programs are part of Windows and can be found at Start/Computer then Right click on the drive you want to fix. Choose Scandisk or Defragment from the menu.3. Backup, backup, backup, any data you cannot afford to lose to at least two separate physical drives. So backup data to external hard drives, USB/thumb drives, CD-RW's etc. The time to backup is when you create something you can't afford to lose. Don't wait until tomorrow.

5. Never unplug peripherals from the computer when it is powered up. Unplugging with the power on can short out the connector socket or the motherboard. The only exception to this rule is if you know a peripheral is "hot pluggable". If you do not know what "hot pluggable" means then ignore this exception.
6. Do keep at least 300 MBs of your C: drive free for Windows to use. If you use Windows XP, Vista, or WIndows 7 then you should have 400-600 MBs of free space on your C: drive.
If you do not have enough free space you will choke Windows and it will start dumping data to your hard drive (or designated virtual drive), or it will just get really, really, slow (you will see your hard drive light on all the time and your computer will be locked up until the drive stops spinning).
Use the ADD/Delete tool in the Windows Control Panel to delete unneeded programs from your drive.

You can also use disk/utility cleaning programs and speed-up programs to get rid of clutter on your hard drive and to speed up your system, we recommend using a PC speed up program like PC CLEANER
 . See our review of PC Cleaner  for more information. PC cleaner
7. Do not let a lot of programs load up when you start your computer. They use valuable memory and Windows Resources (Windows internal workspace).
All programs in your Windows System Tray (in the lower left of your screen) are running on your computer. Close them if you don't need them or run them and configure them not to load when you boot up.
Other programs running in the background can be found by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete at the same time.
8. Do use an antivirus checker regularly. Everyone should have an antivirus checker that boots up when their computer starts. The best type of protection is continuous monitoring from a dedicated anti-virus program . Also, make sure the anti-virus program is set to update automatically. These programs must regularly update their virus definitions to provide the best defense against new viruses and other malware..
9. If you have a high speed Internet connection, you need a firewall program. A firewall program keeps those who want to hijack your computer from gaining access to your system. You really do not want someone else running your computer.
All current versions of Windows come with a built in firewall program. You can access the Windows firewall at Start/Control Panel/Internet Connections/Windows Firewall. This program should always be running unless you choose to use a different firewall program.
For additional protection, you should consider Internet security software that has firewall programs and other web security tools  built-in e.g. PC Tools Internet Security Panda AntiVirus PRO and BitDefender Total Security have firewall, antivirus, and other security programs bundled together in one package.
Case in point: When I am online 10 hours or more with my DSL connection, mycomputer is usually attacked by a hacker at least once.
Do not think you are safe from hackers!! Hackers use search programs to seek out computers at random. Get a firewall program and use it.
10. Keep track of the software disks you receive with your computer and new peripherals. These disks contain valuable software drivers and programs for Windows and are needed when Windows must be reloaded. Keep these disks and your Windows software disks in a safe, dry, place -- you never know when you will need them.
11. Make sure Windows Update is set to Automatically Update your computer. Windows is frequently updated by Microsoft to prevent virus and malware attacks, to improve Windows performance, and to provide new features. Access Windows Update at Start/Control Panel/System/ Security/Windows Update.
Keeping these computer maintenance  tips in mind will keep your PC in top shape and keep you from having an expensive repair bill. If you would like to comment on this article see the comment box below.
For network or computer problems at the office, maintenance may be a bit more tricky and complex. Your IT man can probably help with anything you can’t figure out, though – these Burlington IT consultants
  for example, cover everything from network support  to data backup. It never hurts to give your IT support a call if you’re stuck.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Potluck Ham and Pasta


                                             Potluck Ham and Pasta                                          



  • 1 package (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups fresh broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups 2% milk
  • 1 jar (15 ounces) process cheese sauce
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided
  • 4 cups cubed fully cooked ham


  • Cook macaroni according to package directions, adding broccoli during the last 3-4 minutes; drain.
  • In a large Dutch oven, saute onion in butter for 2 minutes. Stir in the flour, mustard, salt and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese sauce and 1 cup cheddar cheese until blended.
  • Remove from the heat; stir in the ham, macaroni and broccoli. Divide between a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish and a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 25-35 minutes or until bubbly and heated through. 12 servings.

Friday, 21 October 2011

There is enough going on in the world

There is enough going on in the world without trying to make news stories that arnt there. Today Ricky Gervais has had a barrage of abuse from the media for saying a word which in the past has been linked to someone with a disability. People that know him, will know that there was no malice in what was said, but this does open the flood gates to question what is morally right to say for comic effect. In my opinion race, disability, creed and religion are all fair game in comedy as long as its coming from the right place. As soon as its said with hatred, then that is not right........regardless of who said it and where it came from. On the other hand, if we want freedom of speech there are things we will hear that we will not like.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce Recipe


Basil Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce Recipe


  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs (you can use breasts, but the thighs are more flavorful)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil or grapeseed oil
  • 1 14-oz can coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
  • Hot cooked rice


1 In a small bowl, mix together the salt, ground coriander, cumin, ground cloves, cinnamon, ground cardamom, black pepper, chili powder, and turmeric. Set aside.
2 Rinse chicken, pat dry. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Put into a bowl and sprinkle the spice mix over all the pieces. Coat well and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
3 In a large skillet heat 1 Tbsp oil on medium high heat. Add the onions and jalapeños and cook for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Remove the onions, peppers and garlic from the pan and put into a medium sized bowl. Set aside. Use the same pan for the next step.
basil-chicken-1.jpg basil-chicken-2.jpg
4 Add 1 Tbsp oil to the skillet and heat on medium high heat. Add one half of the chicken pieces, spreading them out on the pan so they are not crowded. Brown for a few minutes on each side. When the chicken pieces are cooked through, and no pink remains, remove from pan, add to the bowl with the onions. Cook the second batch of chicken pieces the same way. Remove from pan, add to bowl with onions.
5 Add the coconut milk, minus a couple tablespoons, to the skillet. In a small bowl, mix the remaining coconut with the corn starch to dissolve the corn starch. Add the corn startch mixture back to the skillet with the coconut milk. Cook on medium heat and stir till thick and bubbly. Mix in the worcestershire sauce. Add chicken mixture, basil, and ginger. Cook 2 minutes more to cook through.
Serve over rice.


Easy Shepherd's Pie Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 50 minutes


  • 1 1/2 lbs ground round beef
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1-2 cups vegetables - chopped carrots, corn, peas
  • 1 1/2 - 2 lbs potatoes (3 big ones)
  • 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings of choice


1 Peel and quarter potatoes, boil in salted water until tender (about 20 minutes).
2 While the potatoes are cooking, melt 4 Tablespoons butter (1/2 a stick) in large frying pan.
3 Sauté onions in butter until tender over medium heat (10 mins). If you are adding vegetables, add them according to cooking time. Put any carrots in with the onions. Add corn or peas either at the end of the cooking of the onions, or after the meat has initially cooked.
shepherds-pie-1.jpg shepherds-pie-3.jpg
4 Add ground beef and sauté until no longer pink. Add salt and pepper. Add worcesterchire sauce. Add half a cup of beef broth and cook, uncovered, over low heat for 10 minutes, adding more beef broth as necessary to keep moist.
5 Mash potatoes in bowl with remainder of butter, season to taste.
shepherds-pie-4.jpg shepherds-pie-5.jpg
6 Place beef and onions in baking dish. Distribute mashed potatoes on top. Rough up with a fork so that there are peaks that will brown nicely. You can use the fork to make some designs in the potatoes as well.
7 Cook in 400 degree oven until bubbling and brown (about 30 minutes). Broil for last few minutes if necessary to brown.
serves 4

Steak Mushrooms and Ale Pie



  • 500g cubed beef stewing steak
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can pale ale or lager
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 300g peeled and cubed potatoes
  • 100g quartered fresh mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • pastry for double-crust pie

Preparation method

Prep: 45 minsCook: 40 mins
Place the beef, onion and ale in a large saucepan. Simmer over low heat until the meat is tender, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 200 C / Gas mark 6.
Season the beef with garlic, thyme, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Mix in the potatoes and mushrooms. Cover and simmer over medium heat until potatoes are just tender enough to pierce with a fork, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk a small amount of the sauce together with the flour in a small bowl, and stir into the beef. Simmer until slightly thickened.
Fit pastry into the bottom and up the sides of a pie dish. Spoon the hot beef mixture into the dish and top with the remaining pastry. Cut slits in the top to vent steam, and crimp the edges to seal them together.
Bake in preheated oven until the pastry is golden brown and gravy is bubbling, 35 to 40 minutes.

Lancashire Hotpot Recipe

What you need (serves 4):
  • 1 kg under shoulder, neck and shin of lamb (Cut into 3-4cm thick pieces) perferably regional lamb, eg Bowland Lamb
  • 700g thinly sliced onions
  • 1kg peeled King Edward potatoes
  • 25g plain flour
  • 40g salted butter, melted
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 3tsp sea salt
  • White pepper
  • Hotpot dish - stoneware, diameter 8"/21cm, height 3.5"/9cm
  1. Season the lamb with 1 teaspoon of salt and a good pinch of pepper, dust with the flour. Put the lamb into the base of the Hotpot dish.
  2. Sweat off the onions in 15g of butter with one teaspoon of salt for 4-5mins (to sweat is to cook without colour in a covered pan, on a moderate to hot temperature). Spread the onions evenly on top of the lamb in the Hotpot dish.
  3. Slice the potatoes horizontally (2mm thick). Place in a medium size bowl, add the remaining 25g melted butter, season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of white pepper, mix well.
    Put the sliced potatoes evenly on top of the onions, reserving the best-shaped rounds for the final layer and add the chicken stock.
  4. Place the Hotpot, covered in a pre-heated oven for 30 minutes on 180-200C (Aga equivalent bottom of the baking oven) then for approximately 2½ hours on 130C (Aga equivalent in the simmering oven).
  5. Remove from the oven, take off the lid or cover, return to the oven on 180-200Cfor 30-40 minutes or until golden brown (Aga equivalent bottom of the roasting oven).

Apple and blackberry shortcake



For the fruit
For the shortcake
For the brandy custard
  • egg yolks
  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250 ml milk
  • 185 ml cream
  • about 3 tbsp brandy


1. For the fruit: peel the apples, remove the cores and cut each apple into about 16 slices. Put the apples, lemon zest, sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium saucepan. Cover and stew over a low heat for about 10 minutes, until the apples are soft but not mushy. Allow them to cool. 

2. For the pastry: cream the butter and caster sugar together in a mixing bowl until fluffy and smooth. Add the egg and mix well. Sift the flour and baking powder into the mixture and stir until combined. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and divide the dough into two equal portions. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

3. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4. Roll each piece of cake dough into a round approximately 22cm across. Press one round into a 24cm nonstick springform cake tin. Spread the apples over the dough, leaving a small border around the edge, then put the blackberries on top. Place the other round of dough on top and press the edges together. Brush with water and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. 

4. For the brandy custard: in a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornflour, sugar and vanilla, then whisk in the milk and cream until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and stir over a low heat for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. 

5. Add the brandy to taste, stirring well. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and keep warm. 

6. Remove the tart from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing and serving with the brandy custard. 

Monday, 17 October 2011


Hi I 1st got in to blogging to help me with my spelling and reading as i am dyslexic and along the way i found a iphone app. the i phone app is called dragon its a dictation app it a great app to have if your not the best at spelling. if you know any great app that can help please let me know many thanks

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Health Insurance Tips

The cost of health care has increased substantially over the past decade, so it should be no surprise that the cost of private medical insurance has followed suit. With premiums up from around annually to 18 according to Data Monitor, it is becoming harder for many people to afford private medical insurance at all. There are ways to cut costs and still get quality cover and quality medical care, though. Here are a few suggestions for getting quality health insurance for you and your family on a budget. Downgrade from comprehensive cover If you’ve been paying for comprehensive PMI, you may reduce your costs by downgrading to a budget plan. There are a number of budget plan types available. One of the most common methods of reducing costs on PMI is to exclude cover for some types of treatments. Those treatments may include tests, complementary health care, and psychiatric care. Exclusions are one way to cut costs t if you end up needing tests, scans, or physical therapy, or any other type of treatment not covered, you could wind up paying far more out of your pocket than you would have paid for the extra cover. Agree to a higher excess Another popular way to lower premiums is to opt for a higher excess. You can lower your premiums by well over 50% if you choose to accept a high excess. If you do choose to take on a higher excess payment, be sure to check how the excess is charged. A per claim excess can wind up being far more expensive than a full cover excess. Share the responsibility A third way to cut the cost of your premiums is to share the cost of your medical expenses with your insurance provider. Rather than paying a fixed excess cost, you agree to pay a percentage of your treatment cost up to a predetermined cap. Pay for your own treatment A new class of payment type for private health care costs is to pay for your own expenses without insurance. There are private hospitals that offer fixed rate operations to allow you to shop around and budget for an operation rather than wait for your turn on the NHS. Private treatment at NHS facilities If you opt to pay your own medical expenses, one option to look into is using private facilities at NHS hospitals. The cost may be cheaper than the same treatment at a private hospital. Employer based PMI Check to find out if your employer offers PMI as a company benefit. Group rates for private health insurance are considerably cheaper than individual, so even if your employer requires you to make a contribution, it’s likely to save you a good amount of money on your health insurance policy. Depending on the policy and the company, you may also be able to get cover for your spouse and children. In some of the larger companies, you may even be able to get cover if you have a pre-existing condition. Shop around for the best deal Comparison shopping will always get you the best deal, so do shop around, and compare premiums. Ask for quotes from several insurance companies but be sure to know beforehand what type and level of cover you want so you can compare like with like.