Internet Safety

One of the items on my weekly update email from the Scout Association caught my eye this weekend. The SA in association with Microsoft are running an online training session on internet safety for young people. This is aimed at Leaders who can then pass it onto parents so they are aware of the dangers on the internet.

I must admit I find it quite interesting that a lot of parents don’t know about what is out there on the net. Unfortunately, there are so many traps and pitfalls for young people to fall into on the net, it’s difficult for parents to keep up. I hope this session, which I’ve signed up for, will cover a lot of these areas.

It’s open to any adult of the UK SA and the details are here.

On a lighter note, the picture used to accompany the information (below) is worth a chuckle. It’s a picture of a laptop from about 1996! Nice and up to date then!!


After the session, I’ll post my thoughts.

Spam Emails

I’ve recently been bombarded with spam emails on my Scout Group’s email account. Some of these have been particularly devious as they pretend to contain new settings for my email account. And one of these nearly caught me out! Now I’d like to think that I’m fairly savvy about these kind of things, but I had look twice at this and check with my hosting company (I set up and pay for the Group’s web space) to make sure I wasn’t about to make a hideous mistake. I did take a look at the site it wanted me to go to and the file it asked me to download was a virus! Nice.

A lot of Scout Groups etc. have their own web sites and use their own domains and could get these kind of nasty emails, and someone could click on the link thinking it was genuine, run the file and get a nasty virus.

The most annoying thing is that I’ve been very careful not to put this email address on any websites so it can be lifted by spammers. What is likely to have happened is that someone who has my address has themselves got a virus which then emails out more spam etc etc.

Of course spam isn’t likely to go away as it is big ‘business’ and makes up around a staggering 45% of all emails. However, some of the evil people who send out this junk are getting caught and fined!

If you want to reduce the chances of getting this junk take a look here for some ideas.

As for me, I think it’s time for some Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and Spam.

Altogether now – spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam & repeat indefinitely!

Lending Web Space – Scouts Help School!

In the school where I work, we have a diary system which is a web based one. All members of staff have access to it so they can record if they are going out, having visitors or record any other information that the members of staff might need to know about. It sits on web space the school owns and is available whether you are in school or in the ‘real world’.

There is a small problem with it though. After around 160 entries have been entered, it crashes! Which is, of course, no use to anyone! So after trying a number of different ‘fixes’, some of which were suggested by the chap who wrote the calendar, it was decided to put it on another host’s web space.

My colleague who set it all up in the first place has his web space hosted by the same company as the school, so he asked me if we could put it on mine. However, I knew my own web space (which this is on) was going to be upgraded, so I put it on my Scout Group’s site (no one can grumble at me doing that as I own and pay for it!) to ensure nothing got interrupted.

And it works (well so far!) and we haven’t had any issues since – well except for the staff member who just came to me saying she couldn’t see the entry she’d just made for a date in 1981!

The point of all this is that I didn’t have to put it on my / the Scout Group’s space, but it’s worth doing a favour to the school as they are very good to the Group. They let us use the school minibus and I was able to borrow a projector for last weeks Pack meeting. In fact I may even end up getting a couple of the old PCs we’re getting rid of next week for the Group as well. A good example of cooperation benefiting two organisations I think!

Oh and for those of you in the know, we are thinking of getting an Exchange server in the next couple of years which will render the calendar obsolete!

International Rover Net Moot

As anyone who reads these pages regularly will know, I find the combination of the internet and international Scouting most fascinating (hello USA, Canada, Sweden, South Africa, Bradwell(!) and anyone from any other location who happens to be passing by!) and I have gained may new friends because of it.

So I’m quite interested by an email I got this morning telling me of the International Rover Scout Moot which is being held in the Sultanate of Oman from the 12th August for 42 hours. According to the WSOM page about it –international_rover_net_moot (Medium)

Participants..  will be able to connect and communicate during 42 hours with people worldwide through the use of Internet technologies, such as MIRC & teamspeak.

The email came from someone who I am guessing I must have chatted to on one of the JOTI weekends as I don’t immediately recognise his name, but I am grateful for him doing so as I wouldn’t have found out otherwise.

I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more info and I’ll post it when I know more, and it will be an interesting event to take part in and learn about Scouting in the Middle East.


An Old Resource

I was sorting through some stuff at my parents house last night with a view of chucking some of it out (told you I am a hoarder!), when I came across some stuff I’d done for a qualification in greengrocery when I worked at Asda. One of the things I had to do was to find recipes for all the stuff we sold. As I did this in 2000 / 2001 and the internet wasn’t as useful or as fast, so I used a little Scouting database programme I’d downloaded called ‘Resource Information Management System’ and it was put together in 1994 by someone called M. L. McLaren.

I looked around some of my old backups, found it and tried to run it on my current Vista machine. And despite being that old and originally made to be run in DOS, it still works!

scout info 1

By the looks of it, it was made by a Canadian, but has information from the UK, USA, Canada and even some from BP himself. I’ve no idea where I got it from originally and I can’t find any mention of it on the net today. Presumably I downloaded it from somewhere and I guess it was originally shared by zipping it up and spanning it over 6/7 floppy discs (it’s a whopping 8Mb in size!).

scout info 2

All you do is select the section or age range you want, select the area and then select the thing that grabs your interest.

scout info 3

You can even print out the article (although I haven’t got it to work yet) or export to a text file – simple.

M. L. McLaren obviously put a lot of time and effort into creating this resource (the games and recipe sections are huge), so it seems a shame not to use it! I will be going through it and picking out the bits I think are interesting and we maybe doing some interesting new recipes on camp soon.

If anyone is interested in having a copy, drop me a line and I’ll email it to you. I’ve no idea if it will run on a Mac, sorry Apple people!

Careful of Possessions and Property

I must admit that I’m a bit of a hoarder (ask my parents & my wife!) and I hate to throw anything away. This is a bit of a family trait to be honest. My Grandparents were all born in the early part of the 20th Century and were never what you’d call ‘rich’. My parents were born during the Second World War and then lived during the years of austerity following the War and all of this has rubbed off on me.

I never like to throw things away ‘just in case’ they may be useful in the future.

Today, I went for a meeting at my School’s other site (we have 2  six miles apart) and in the room noticed that there were three laser printers in the room. I joked to my colleague that he was starting his own private collection! In fact two of the printers were broken and were about to be thrown away.

As one of them is the same as a model I have at my site, I asked about taking it with me and as it was only going to be chucked, this was not a problem (my colleague had tried to have it repaired, but it’s a bit old, so the parts weren’t available).

After the meeting, I stripped it down and was able to repair two similar printers that had minor physical damage. So although we had to dispose of one printer, I was able to repair the damage and ensure the printers have a much longer life.

If all things were so easy to repair!

This comes under the part of the Scout Law that says that ‘A Scout Makes Good Use of time and is Careful of Possessions and Property’ and I guess it falls in the BSA’s Scout Law as ‘Thrifty’ .

If only more people were able to follow this simple rule, then there would be a lot less waste in the world!


As Scout Groups we rely on donations to keep us going. Whether they are directly from the parents or we get them by doing bag packing at the local supermarket. It’s not just money we get given to us, but equipment as well.

I popped up to see the Beavers and Cubs last night and one of the helpers came up to me and said he’d got a laptop to give to us! Now this isn’t the most up to date model, in fact I guess it’s over ten years old, but it works and the battery in it isn’t too bad (i.e. it actually runs on the battery!). It has MS Office installed and is usable.

So I’ve brought it home to check it out and other than a few minor ‘tweaks’ it will be going back to the Hall for the Beavers and Cubs to use on their meeting nights.

I’ll also take a printer up that I was given for the Group and now, if necessary, we will be able to write letters home at a meeting if necessary!

So a great donation, and one that will prove most useful!

Getting Information Home

My Scout Group is of an average size with around 70 – 80 Beavers, Cubs and Scouts at the moment and we’ve been finding getting information back to the parents can be trying at times!

The traditional way is to send letters home with the Beavers, Cubs and Scouts for their parents. However this can be very hit and miss. The letters always get home when it’s about a camp etc, but seem to be a little less reliable when it come to comes to more ‘boring’ subjects such as Church Services and money!

We have our website with a calendar for forthcoming events (as long as the Leaders remember to tell me!), but that doesn’t seem to be used too often by members of the Group or parents, so this weekend I’ve done a few things to try to help communication.

I’ve written a newsletter which will be given out when everyone returns from the Easter holidays next week. This is the traditional method and as it’s newsletter with lots of different information on there is a very good chance it will get home.

The other thing I’ve done and is more ‘modern’ is set up a group page on Facebook for the Scout Group (search for ‘porthill’ and look at the groups section and you can’t miss us!) and a Twitter feed for the Group.

Whether or not this will help us to communicate with everyone, I do not know, but it’s got to be worth a try.

Many Beavers, Active Cubs & Trying Something New

Last night I went to see the Beavers and Cubs mainly because of the reason I’ve discussed in my last three posts.

However I was also there because seven new Beavers were invested into the Colony last night. To see seven excited 6 year olds getting their neckers and badges is great!

Then at Cubs I watched as they continued with their Fitness Challenge. As part of this they are getting some experience of doing martial arts as it is a new experience for most of them.

Because I knew these were going on I took my camera. As well as taking the usual photos, which can be seen in the Group’s Gallery, I thought I’d use the video function to take some ‘action shots’.

Obviously video on a stills camera is never going to be great, but it’s good enough to show what’s going on and also to put on the net –

Of course with the software included with Windows (Movie Maker), it’s quite easy to knock something up quite quickly albeit a bit rough and ready.

This video is now on the Group’s site and is only the second time I’ve put video on our website. The first was about 8 years ago and was a rather nasty Real Video clip that was awful quality and yet took ages to load up because of using dial up internet connections. Thank goodness for YouTube!

There are plans for another video in the near future, but I can’t go into that at the moment!


clip_image002After sending a load of emails of to various people in my Group and the District I thought how much easier it is to communicate today. I can email any documents to my Leaders that they may need in a fraction of a second. I can also send information to multiple people in one go. Isn’t it great?

Also typing letters is so much easier, as I type it into Word, check the spelling(!) and send it to my printer. I can remember Dad typing letters to Cub parents when I was a kid and he’d use his typewriter and loads of carbon paper. Luckily he was good at typing, spelling and had a good idea of what he was going to type beforehand – unlike me!

The great thing is I can email my old Scout Leader when he is working at the South Pole on his telescope, all my other friends around the world, all my Group’s Leaders and Carol when I’m on my PC upstairs and she’s watching the TV downstairs!

However, I have to remember I can’t just rely on email. Some of our Leaders don’t have it and some don’t check it as often as others (unlike me as I’m on my PC at work all the time and the PC at home is rarely off). We would love to be able to send letters home to parents by email and then they don’t get lost or forgotten about.

So we still have to actually talk to each other, be it in person or by phone and sometimes that’s the best way to communicate. The written word sometimes cannot convey the meaning of a sentence the way saying it can.

Scouting & Technology

I realised the other day that I have had a PC at home for just over 10 years. My original machine had a massive 3Gb hard drive, 128Mb RAM, a Celeron 333Mhz processor and ran Windows 95. I thought I’d never fill that hard drive!

With the advent of home computing, the internet and other technological devices such as mobile phones, digital cameras, Sat Nav and GPS it has made our lives much easier. I can type documents (so people stand a chance of being able to read them) and email them instantly to people in the Group, District, County or even HQ at Gilwell if needed, in a matter of seconds. It’s easier to create letters to parents, as I now just print them off using my laser printer. Photos are a lot more instant and easier to manipulate. It’s also a lot easier to keep all my records in one place on my PC and not have lots of ‘hard copy’ around the house (although Carol will disagree with me there!). That 3Gb hard drive would be easily filled these days.

The Group has a website with loads of info about us on it.

Over the last 18 months or so, by reading blogs, listening to podcasts, talking by to people by Skype, Tweeting and emailing, I’ve learned so much about Scouting and culture in other countries. And as a happy by product of that, I’ve made new friends.

BUT, we must never be solely reliant on technology, especially when out walking or camping. Mobile phones have a nasty habit of having no signal when you are in a remote valley in the middle of Snowdonia and your GPS’s batteries will run out when it’s a particularly cold and wet day in the Peak District. To ensure these issues don’t cause you major problems, the ‘old fashioned’ tried and tested methods must be adhered to. Always have a home contact when you are out walking, who has a copy of your route plan and a time you will be back at (not forgetting to tell them when you are safe and sound). Take a route plan, a map (preferably laminated or in a waterproof map case) and compass with you and know how to use them!

Technology is great and I love new ‘toys’ but never take for granted it will work!

Gilwell Park Webcams – Er no not really!

Although the 1st Gilwell website still isn’t up yet, they seem to have put up a couple of webcams to see the comings and goings!

Well that what I thought until I noticed there wasn’t a lot of movement except for a bit of flutter on a flag. When I looked again the other evening it should have been dark, but nothing had changed. Then I realised they’d just put up a couple of short Flash movies constantly repeating!

Looking at them today, the whole of Gilwell should be covered in snow!

See here.

Do a Good Turn Every Day

As my job is an IT technician, whenever anyone outside of work’s computer throws a hissy fit, needs work or just plain dies, I get a call. It can be family, friends or friends of family!

But the thing is, no matter what I do, I never ask for money. Of course I’d never ask family or friends, but I suppose I could for friends of family etc. BUT, I never do. One reason is if someone asks for help, I don’t like asking for money (I am British after all and these kind of things are somewhat ‘vulgar’ don’t you know?) and the other is that people do stuff for me and never ask for payment, so why should I?

Occasionally I may get some chocolates (always appreciated), but that’s it. In fact the only time I can think I’ve had some money from anyone was when I sold a PC to my sister a few weeks ago as hers had died. But that was mainly as I was letting her have a whole new system. Another time I set up my sister-in-law’s new PC and she let me have the old one. Nothing much wrong with it, so I wiped it and it’s going to my Mum so she can manipulate as many photos as she likes, when she likes, without getting in my Dad’s way on his PC!

What made me think of this is that one of the cleaners at work has a grandson who has been give a nearly new laptop. It was bought in August by a man who passed away just before Christmas and his mother gave it to this young lad. However, it had no discs, manuals or any info about passwords so they couldn’t do anything with it! I’ve wiped it, done a new install of Windows and I’m in the process of running ALL the updates Sleepy and installing the programmes that he will need. But she’s asked me a couple of times now how much do I want and each time I’ve said ‘nothing’. This is partially as I’m doing it at work between other jobs so it’s not really taking up my time and partially as I’ve found that it’s always a good idea to keep well in with people like cleaners and caretakers at work as you never know when you will need a favour from them!

The point of all this (Finally I hear you scream), is that it reminded me of the Cub Scout Law –

A Cub Scout always does his best,

thinks of others before himself

and does a good turn every day.

OK, that was the version I learned when I was a kid, it’s now –

Cub Scouts always do their best,

think of others before themselves

and do a good turn every day.

The bit that sprang to mind is the ‘does a good turn every day’ line. Doing a ‘good turn’ has always been a part of Scouting and even though it’s not mentioned as such in the Law and Promise (the ‘help other people’ part of the Scout Promise is probably closest), it’s still a good concept to keep to in day to day life.

Imagine how easy it would be if everyone followed this simple law! Doing your best, thinking of others and helping them – WOW what an amazing idea!

So I’ll keep doing my IT support free of charge and helping others, but if anyone wants to give me the odd choccy, I won’t say no!

RSS Feeds

The RSS feeds to this blog are provided by Feedburner, which means that iTunes can pick up when I’ve put a new podcast out. However, Feedburner was taken over by Google some time ago and now Google wants to move the feeds over to their service.

When the switch is made it could mean that my feeds go a bit odd for a while, so please be warned!

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!


Well, that seemed to work ok without any fuss. I’m impressed! 😉

However if anyone does have any issues with the RSS feed, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do.


Scouter Jeff left a comment on my last podcast asking if my podcasts are going on iTunes. Honest answer, ‘dunno’!

I’m not a great fan of all things Apple to be honest, well Apple Corps yes, Apple Computers no! So I’m not too clued up on iTunes. Is there a cost involved to putting stuff on iTunes, do I have to install iTunes on my PC?

Answers on a postcard please 😉


I’m probably doing another tomorrow (Sunday) if anyone’s interested.

NOTE: dunno = don’t know.I dont know Shouldn’t use slang here really.