03-Nov-2013 Getting Better All The Time

It’s been a week of changes – tech stuff, glasses (or is that spectacles), step/health tracker, microwave, roller door, future pension etc. Improvements all round.

A few weeks back we’d noticed a deterioration in sound quality with our blue room recording setup. We had been through all the usual troubleshooting routes… updating drivers, repairing software, uninstalling and re-installing software, trying different software, using the laptop onboard sound system instead of the external M-Audio Ultra USB interface, swapping out cables – but all to no avail. Everything pointed to the sound interface heading west. And so, after our customary online research, we opted for a new usb audio interface – the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8. Within a few hours of deciding, we’d driven to Sounds Live Team Valley warehouse to pick it up, and we’ve installed it, tested its functions and quality… and we’re mightily impressed.

As your digital collection of videos (films, tv shows/series, music videos, home productions, etc), audio files and photographs increases it’s easy not to notice how disc space is being eaten up… it came as a bit of a shock to find our Synology DS411j NAS had only 10% free space on the 4 x 2TB drives. So, of course there was more research and another quick purchase – we now have a Western Digital 2TB MyBookLive sitting alongside the Synology and have transferred music, photos, and miscellaneous data files to it so we can reserve the Synology for videos only. It took a few days to get everything set up and all files transferred to their new locations, but everything seems to working well – and we expect it will be quite some time before we need to think about future storage expansion.

We picked up Jimmy’s new glasses at the beginning of the week, but took them back again after a few days – seems we didn’t get the soopa doopa ultra light lenses that we wanted, so our friendly opticians are sorting that one out for us. Don’t you love it when customer service does turn out to be just that… good service to customers who aren’t 100% happy.

And that brings us to Amazon UK. We recently bought Val a new Fitbit One health/steps tracker which worked fine for all of 3 weeks, and then… didn’t. Again, much troubleshooting and software tweaks later it still wouldn’t sync with either the PC or smartphone any more. So we went online to get return authorisation. Yep, no problem. Freepost return label duly printed, package dropped off for return to Amazon. Immediate notification that full refund had been authorised even before the item was received by them! Great customer service. We’ll be replacing it with a newer version of the pedometer that Jimmy uses.

Having spent a small fortune on block paving our back yard, and having a new wall built and having a Gliderol roller door installed we’ve come to the conclusion that we really need to have the full automation kit installed. Push button zapping from the car will certainly be better than manually lifting the roller and getting drenched if it either is, or has recently been, raining.

To cap it all, the purple (yes, honestly) microwave oven has decided to start misbehaving too! More research, more expense… aaarrrggghhh!!!

But it’s not all bad news. Jimmy’s occupational pension scheme has made him an offer which will result in larger payments up front in return for for smaller interest rate rises on a portion of the pension in future. Following a free consultation from an independent (wait for it) wealth management specialist (yes, really) it seems that taking up the offer may well be a good move as it will be quite a few years down the line before the break even and crossover points are reached – by then we’ll probably no longer be out performing the gentle jiva blend… that’s a sad thought, but it’s inevitable that the age thing will eventually tell us when to stop – but we’re not planning on reaching that point for many more years to come!

So what of the music during this past week? We did a couple of Halloween care home party performances complete with pointy hat and dangling spiders from guitar headstocks. We wear purple and black for performing, so already looked the part – but we’re not scary… honestly, we’re not.

The week came to a wonderful and fitting finale as we journeyed to deepest Lincolnshire to be the support act for Anthony John Clarke at Faldingworth Live. Our 30-minute set went down well, and we made some new friends and fans, and sold a few CDs too! Les Worrall has done a sterling job of organising and promoting world class entertainment concerts in the village hall, and is stepping down at the end of the year. Anthony John did a great job, making Les’s penultimate Faldingworth Live Gig truly memorable – he invited us onto the stage to join him as he encored with his rendition of our ‘One More Song’ and, as always, he managed to add extra lyrics to suit the occasion. Being called back for a second encore he asked us back to the stage for ‘Tuesday Night Is Always Karaoke’ – and, much to the delight of the entire audience, even got Les to sing the punch line from the back of the hall. Certainly an evening that will be remembered for a long time.

Life is good, and getting better all the time.

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