The Blog of Zakspade
I used to work in IT. I know my way around a network. I
can get computers to talk to each other: usually.
A few weeks back, the Main PC in my household fell off the internet. It could see the rest of the network, but it just couldn’t see past the router and out into the Big Scary World out yonder.
I tried all I knew but it obstinately refused to acknowledge it was part of a Home network and treated what was once a warm, friendly network as one no more secure than that of an Internet Cafe dealing in dodgy Bit Coins.
The fact was that I was busy with a long list of tasks at the time. The PC had a unused built-in wireless adapter, so I enabled it and the PC was happy. My wife was happy. I was happy. All was good.
Then I had issues with a laptop connecting to a router. Or rather, it connected, but claimed it was a Public as opposed to Home network that it was known to be to all but that stupid laptop. The result was that it saw the network but couldn’t reach the internet. It was a test laptop, so I put it down and moved on.
I run a PC in the garage as local network storage. It became blind to the internet. It suited me for it to not be able to see (or be seen by) the internet, however it was visible across the rest of the network, so I let it slide.
Then a few days back, my wifi-connected mobile phone lost sight of the internet. It connected fine to the router - it just couldn’t see or shift data through it. The result was my smart phone effectively became a paperweight if left connected to the home router as it only allowed calls and texts rather than data (ah, the good old days).
Then a wired PC upstairs did the same. It could see and browse the local network, but access to the internet was lost. As it was also in possession of a wireless adapter, I enabled it. It worked for a couple of minutes before it also lost sight of the internet. It was now very annoying. The router started to attract some dark looks from me.
As the Main PC very much needs its connection to the outside world, I was now concerned that whatever was spreading through my home network would cause it to drop into a chasm of isolation, without warning.
As if to confirm my fears, this morning my daughter’s mobile phone was laid low by the same malaise. Everything pointed to the single path out of the network and on to the internet - the ISP’s router.
Heated words were exchanged with a support chap from the ISP. He clearly had never heard of a firewall or port blocking - if he had, then he would never have stated, very boldly, that it was impossible to block single machines or interfaces through a router. I’ll let that sink for the technically-minded out there reading this. He really did say that.
I had spent many hours battling the issue and ended up speaking with an idiot. Despite those hours, it remained unresolved - until it was fixed by my wife’s suggestion I isolate a particular device to see what happens.
Doing so cut off a small router I use in the garage. With it gone, the whole network was restored.
A solution, but now comes the investigation into how a single device can affect the DHCP router to all networked devices in such a manner as to have them drop off The Web over a period of time. Thinking about it, leases handed out by the router are seven days. Now if the DHCP function on the garage router was accidentally enabled, how would being overly helpful affect the rest of the network?
Oh I see more hours of fun ahead as I try to figure out the reason for the now fixed problem. Deep joy!
Fingers, Part Two
After much negotiation, I had acquiesced and gone
to my GP earlier in the year about my fingers.
Leaving bloody marks about me after each new split in a finger had occurred had become tiresome. Additionally, the pain of open hacks kept me awake at night and was playing havoc with my sleep pattern.
Opening screw-top bottles was fraught with concerns over whether it could be done without creating a new source of blood that would ooze out and over whatever I subsequently touched.
A number of visits to my GP had him stumped. My fingers (and feet) defied the treatment administered based upon the idea that it was eczema. Eventually my GP referred me to a dermatologist for them to assess my condition.
By now the novelty of hands being rendered useless by virtue of shedding skin that had previously been present to keep blood and other bodily fluids within me rather than spread over my surroundings, had worn off. All I now wanted was my hands and feet to be what they were for other people; rather than the blood leaking, redistribution appendages they had become.
An appointment was made for me to visit a specialist, at which a history was taken, hands and feet examined, and a record of the broken skin, lesions, splits, and dry skin recorded in photographic form.
I was told that I would receive a letter within seven working days, either advising me of a new course of action (medication, etc.) or to arrange a biopsy. Ten working days later, I rang them to enquire what had become of that promised letter.
It wasn’t impatience on my part. No, it was the fact that some fresh splits had been created while I prepared to trim a hedge. The pain was not easy to forget and dismiss, so chasing the specialists seemed to be wise.
I rang, and what the woman who was reading my notes said was enough for me to place her on speaker and asked her to repeat what she had said for the benefit of my wife who was present. Apparently the specialist had discharged me back to my GP. I asked if they were going to tell me this and I was told a letter had gone out - although it had not yet arrived.
By my reckoning - based on when that letter is claimed to have gone out - it has taken four days, thus far, to fail to arrive.
I have tried really hard to avoid writing this Blog entry as a rant. However, given that a fresh split has opened in another finger as I type this, it is really difficult not to descend into the form of gutter-language that might adequately sum up what I really think of the service and those who are working in the role of ‘specialists’...
There is a fair degree taking place at the moment, if one
follows the news. Whether we stay in the EU after the referendum result
being forgotten, ignored or overturned; or the UK leaves the EU - we can
be sure of one thing: those in the money will have made sure they stay
in the money.
While many carp on about the benefits attached to remaining or leaving, the Hedgers quietly arrange their affairs so that they don’t lose out either way. They won’t be losing any sleep over the matter. It will not cause a sweat because they can afford to get those who like to fiddle with figures to make their arrangements for them.
On the other hand, when I make arrangements on that front, I end up hot, sweaty and bothered.
I don’t have the luxury of employing someone to do my hedging for me. I have the tools and the time, so I get it together and cut the thing back to within an inch of its life.
Whether Brexit actually takes place or not: that pesky hedge has to be cut. The alternative is a permanently closed living room window. And in the present weather we are having, being able to open the window and enjoy a breeze is preferable to not raising a sweat.
It was while my electric hedge trimmer did its work that I noticed that a bramble was poking through and out the top. Oh dear, having brambles taking hold is not good. I had visions of a hard day becoming somewhat harder than I could have ever imagined.
However, it was simple to trace the stem down to the ground as the base of the hedge was much thinner than the main body. A long-handled broom with a hook at the end to allow it to be hung in my garage was used to gently pull the base of the bramble out of the ground - roots and all.
Victory today, but stage two takes place tomorrow or the next day. Having made the cuts, I now need to ensure all is straight and tidy. A bit like the economy, post Brexit - but without the money.
Anyone else in here do gig
A little while back I decided to take a peek at my
Facebook Timeline (called Wall, back in the day) and use the
first word or phrase that appeared at the top. It seemed a good idea -
at the time.
It could lead to some very odd titles and topics, thought I. Maybe some really interesting subjects could be covered, thought I. A Pulitzer prize might end up falling into my lap, thought I.
I guess that is the real thing I got from my good idea - the knowledge that I didn’t think.
So, now is the time to think, in order that I can write something that fits what has become the title. First, what is a gig? It appears that someone has asked if anyone ‘in here’ (in the particular Facebook Group the Post appeared) takes photographs of light two-wheeled carriages pulled by one horse, or light, fast, narrow boats adapted for rowing or sailing.
It could be that someone is looking to open a dealership offering said items and they want someone who can take a mean photograph of their wares so they can place ads in the quality press. It further crossed my mind that I might be wrong and they were referring to those ‘gigs’ that feature music.
The possibility that someone might want me to take photographs of famous people as they strut their stuff in front of thousands of fee-paying punters - while I am being paid to be there - appeals greatly to me.
My mind wanders and I begin to picture popstars being driven across a stage in a small two-wheeled carriage pulled by a Shetland pony. Meanwhile, bouncers populate the small flotilla of boats in the moat surrounding the stage - designed to keep the star-struck kids from the gifted and talented prancing about in the limelight.
Then I see myself slipping over on horse-poo and dropping my camera equipment into the water-filled cordon about the stage.
At first, the Post was merely something that gave me a title to hang a Blog entry on. Then it rapidly became a fantasy, before I saw the light and decided to not respond to it and offer my services.
Anyone else in here do gig photography? I’m playing safe by ignoring that Post...
The day is hot, the sun is beating down, I have a blister
on my foot, and I am still a good 25 minute’s walking time from home.
And my wife doesn’t appreciate the brilliance of my humour.
I don’t get it, I really don’t. Most women would give their hind teeth for a man like me. Or that gaunt-faced look favoured by some down the years.
There we were, making our way down one of the narrow footpaths that adorn the roads of Leighton Buzzard when I leant over and said into my wife’s ear,
‘You see that car that just passed us? It is no way as technologically advanced as other cars on the road, that’s for sure. In fact it is Corsa.’
If anyone else had heard me say it, I feel sure that that my progress towards home would have been slowed as I shook hands with the many people who had become my fans and admirers. What actually happened was that my wife shook her head almost imperceptibly as she rolled her eyes.
Without doubt, once we got home I knew wheel ‘have words’ unless she was too tyred.
Some people have no real appreciation of the genius that goes into puns.
Phew! Sunny, dry and hot, and very unlike a UK summer as
anticipated of late.
I walked into work and roasted on the way. I worked then walked home - and roasted some more. I was hot and bothered before I set out for home - but I was hot, bothered and knackered when I arrived home. It didn’t help that I had dug out a long-sleeved shirt to protect my arms but due to my ironing backlog, the only one available was dark and thick. It was also very wet by the time I finally sat down on the sofa in my living room.
I managed to rectify the lack of long-sleeved shirts predicament by ironing my white shirts. Result! The question became one of how best to avoid cooking in the sun on my way back and forth.
Then I remembered I had a bicycle in the garage. Such has been the weather these last few months, it never got out. And so it was forgotten about as it languished up against a wall with bags of ‘things’ partly covering it while it provided interesting homes for spiders and their friends.
Out it came. After working up a sweat putting some much needed air into the tyres, I began to think it might not have been the best idea of mine this century, but riding into a gentle breeze n my way into work soon changed my mind.
I spend my time thinking of many things, but maybe I ought to concentrate on thinking about what really counts: think bike!
Last week, someone asked me if I was able to help with
their laptop lid. Apparently where the hinge was positioned, the halves
of the case were parting.
I supposed that a screw had fallen out and allowed the casing to come apart whenever the lid was opened or closed. My plan was to take in a variety if screws and a pin (to determine the screw length) and replace the likely missing screw.
Something called the weekend intervened and the intention to take an assortment of small laptop shell screws of varying lengths, a suitable pin, and a small screwdriver, slipped my mind.
However, on Monday at work, the laptop made an appearance.
I examined the poor thing and decided that no number of screws was going to fix that baby. The bezel around the screen had come adrift near the hinge. One might have suspected a missing screw, but the cap over the top was still there - as was the screw. My forgetfulness was of no consequence because I was not being faced with something repairable through the simple expedient of replacing a missing item.
That was the good news - for me.
The bad news is that the screen surround is held in place by clips and a tiny screw. Unfortunately, the screw has been yanked out and stripped the hole into which it was fastened. The clips are not beefy enough to cope with the stresses and strains of opening and closing he lid by themselves, therefore there is a parting of the ways for the halves.
Double unfortunately, the forces now go into the metal components that surround the screen under the bezel. That means electrical connectors and the like, such as the connection to the wifi antenna, are currently bent and look increasingly like they want to break. Not good and not ideal if one is looking to continue using said laptop until it dies a natural death.
I still feel guilty over forgetting the selection of screws, but at least the owner now knows for certain what the issue is and how it can best be contained. So a win for all - except the laptop...
There I was, out walking down the high street, when a
dolphin stepped in front of me and asked me if I could spare a few
moments of my time to complete their questionnaire.
I took in the serene expression and the clipboard held in a flipper and I thought, ‘Hey, why not.’ So I stopped, smiled and told the dolphin that I was game.
I was a little uncomfortable as I have never before met a dolphin wielding a clipboard, or otherwise. Consequently I was unable to tell if I was speaking to a male or female, In fact, I was at a loss to even identify whether it was a Delphinidae, Platanistidae, Iniidae or Pontoporiidae dolphin. I didn’t know whether to look him or her in the eye, avert my gaze, bow, or shake a flipper. Such was my embarrassment of not knowing the sex of my interviewer or their cultural leanings.
There was no need to worry as they started the process of asking questions before my mind managed to pick up speed and run away with itself.
‘Global warming is a man-made phenomenon. Select a value between one and ten, where one is Strongly Disagree and ten is Strongly Agree.’
At first I thought it an odd question to be asked by a dolphin, before I realised that rising sea levels would effectively increase the area of the sea and possibly devalue underseabed prices due the effective expansion of free real estate. Therefore, possibly quite pertinent, I thought. Then the opening statement made me question what I was letting myself in for as it was clearly not a question, and I thought I had agreed to answer questions. My fear was that my time was about to hijacked.
‘Again, with one indicating a strong disagreement with the statement, and ten being a strong agreement, you would give the following what value? I like eating tuna.’
It was suddenly simple. I do not like fish. If the scale ran into negative numbers, then that’s where my response would have headed.
‘One. Lower if you can manage it,’ I replied, nervously smiling, asking myself if I was inadvertently flirting with a dolphin of indeterminate sex. It seemed rude to ask the dolphin at the start, so I hadn’t.
The dolphin looked perplexed. At least I think it was perplexed. It is hard to tell with dolphins if one has never met a dolphin before. It could have been wind.
Another dolphin stepped from the doorway of a nearby shop and approached. It said to the first dolphin, ‘Move on, there can be no worth in this one as they obviously can have no opinion on the value of dolphin-friendly tuna.’
With that, they both turned and moved off. It struck me as rude until I realised it had probably already been a long day for the pair of them, and clipboards get very heavy as time passes...
I will not claim that I am a Master of Numbers,
but I will say that I am not blind to them - especially when they
are used to support amazing claims.
A recent story in the national news referred to the number of murders of sex workers in London over the last few years. I love the term sex worker as it saves leaning how to spell the word prostitute - something that is very possibly beyond some of the journalists who regurgitate figures without actually trying to understand the figures they quote in their scribbling.
The risks attached to being a sex worker in London are shocking. Something ought to be done about it. We all need to understand the dangers to the girls (and boys) who risk their lives plying a trade considered to the world’s oldest. A life taken is a sad thing, no matter how or why.
However, because lots of stats had been quoted, I felt duty-bound to examine them so as to determine what they said about the risk of murder to those nice sex worker people in our capital - and I was shaken Not because of how badly off they are in the grand scheme of things, but because of how misleading the headlines and articles were.
If you examine the number of murders per million people, then a truly shocking fact emerges: if you live in Bedfordshire, then you are statistically more likely to be murdered than those 40,000 sex workers in London. The figure for Bedfordshire is somewhat skewed by figures that show the number of murders in Bedford and Luton at well above the average for the rest of the county. In fact, Bedfordshire would be quite well down on the list were it not for those two towns. I must add the rider that we are not talking about huge numbers here. Note that if I were a tabloid hack then I’d not have written the sentence prior to this one.
It gets better. If you look at average earnings, then it can be seen that sex workers earn more than the average income for those living in Bedfordshire. So, the obvious conclusion is that sex workers have safer lives and earn more money.
Well, that’s the facts, but what can we deduce from them? Should career advisors at schools in Bedfordshire point young people at London and the sex industry? Don’t waste time building up a colossal debt through attending university when it is safer and more lucrative selling ‘tricks’ to punters. Maybe I should refrain from being a careers advisor?
In 2009 Professor David Nutt annoyed the government of the day and was removed from his post as an advisor to that government because he published a paper that showed that there was a greater statistical chance of death from horse riding than taking the drug ecstasy.
Clearly I would not be well suited to being an advisor to a government or authoritative body because I am able to understand what numbers say as opposed to what they can be twisted to do in support of headlines or political aims. Consequently I will stick to popping pills as I set up business in London...
So, Who Failed the Traffic Warden
School Entry Examination?
Yesterday I dropped a form into Central Bedfordshire
Council offices. I didn’t fill out the form, my wife did, but I’m
the mobile person of the two of us, so...
The woman who took the form berated me for scoring through fields not requiring an entry. I explained that my wife is systematic and they indicated she attended to the item, but I apologised and apologised and apologised. The woman just would not let it go. I rapidly got to the stage whereby I understood how perfectly reasonable people become crazed maniacs standing in the middle of council offices yelling their heads off at the staff working there.
I offered to take the form back and copy it into a fresh one but she told me that would not be necessary - before going on again about how ‘they’ at CBC don’t like fields being scored through. Additionally there was a query over Child Benefit I could not answer, so I advised I would find out and drop the information in to the office ASAP.
To say I was livid by the time I left that office would be putting it mildly.
This morning I dropped into the same office. I spoke to the same woman and said she was correct yesterday as we were indeed in receipt of Child Benefit; telling her the amount to be added to the form.
No can do. The form had been sent off to CBC. She then asked me to supply a letter of proof that we received Child Benefit before they would send through notice of the amendment. When I asked why it was required she informed me that because there had been a change in our circumstances, a letter was required.
I was incredulous. I patiently explained that Child Benefit had been paid for nearly 12 years and it was not part of any change of circumstances. She stood her ground: no letter - no claim. When I told her to cancel the claim so I could start it again as it would be quicker, she refused: CBC were already in receipt of the form.
By this time I was seriously annoyed by her attitude and the way she was messing me about. So I asked her for a number for me to contact CBC to cancel the claim. She said she couldn’t do that. Now I was furious because I felt the whole thing was being mucked up by someone who was mad with power - so I stated that I’d just not bother to supply the letter and would merely allow the claim to die before starting it afresh. She had an answer to that ploy: CBC would not allow a fresh claim while an unfinished claim was on the system...
I walked out rather than become that person who stands in the middle of council offices yelling. and instead phoned my wife. After I related the tale, there was silence. The incredulity was obviously catching.
Rather than leave it there, I returned to the office just in case either the woman or I had misunderstood the situation, but no, she was adamant that a letter was required.
Another call home and my wife told me to leave it with her.
She phoned CBC, explained the situation, and they told her to email in with her name, date of claim and amount and they’d sort it.
Obviously the bob-haired woman was working as a clerk for CBC because she failed the entry exams for Traffic Warden School.
I was tired and a bit down yesterday. If a clown had
jumped out from behind a bus stop shelter and told me a joke, I would
probably have told him that his shoes needed cleaning.
The day seemed to be longer than it had any right to be. I was on my way home in the car and looking forward to chilling for the evening. As I passed a local supermarket, an ignorant and arrogant, person behind the wheel of a 4x4 swung into the road ahead of me causing me to brake. I use the term ‘person’ as they were clearly not driving the vehicle. Aiming it might be a better word to use rather than driving.
It would be against the rules of Polite Society to repeat the words that were framed in my mind at the time.
What was worse, a particularly fine example of idiocy followed the 4x4 out in front of me in his black Golf GTi. The manner of his cutting across my path was indicative of someone of low intelligence fearful that if they didn’t assert themselves by behaving like an imbecilic Womble, they would become a blueberry muffin.
The thoughts in my mind were already dark when I had approached the roundabout. They darkened further when the 4x4 launched itself in front of me. When the Golf GTi followed it closely, my mind was about to be filled with rage.
Then all those black feelings evaporated. A woman was using the pedestrian crossing on the exit to the roundabout and the 4x4 had to stop abruptly. My mood lifted significantly when the Golf GTi slammed into the rear of the 4x4.
I had nowhere to go, so I slowly followed the pair of vehicles as they inched along to the lay-by to presumably swap insurance details. As I drove past the two vehicles, I wanted to peer and look at the level of collision damage but I was laughing so much, it was all I could do to watch were I was going.
The day started quiet, and became tiring as it progressed. Then in a matter of seconds it became one of the best days of the week.
I suppose some are too eager to pull out into moving traffic...
And so it continues; things to do, places to be, pain to
Yes, my bloody fingers are - er - bloody. Only at times, you understand. Like when I’m trying to do something, or not do something. It really depends on the direction of the wind, it seems; on a far away planet; in another dimension. The word random comes to mind.
In between fissures leaking everywhere, I have been trying to read data from a microSD card, rearrange my garage, write some column copy (I have a couple of deadlines looming), and generally make an attempt not to fall too far behind with my list of tasks.
But it is not all doom and gloom. No, we have just bought a puppy. Nice.
Said puppy needs to be attended to when it suits her and not my fingers or list of other things that need doing that I couldn’t do before because my fingers were playing up.
Finally I am to see a skin specialist who I hope will sprinkle fairy dust over me and pronounce the condition banished. I had to ring to confirm the time and date because after the letter telling me they would be in touch - they weren’t.
Oh that was so funny. The fact that they didn’t contact me as their letter advised? No, that wasn’t it. What really was hilariously and uproariously funny was that at the time I determined to ring them on the number thoughtfully provided in the letter, in case they failed to call me, was that my fingertips were suffering from a very pronounced degree of sensitivity. Dialling their number on a push button phone was interesting.
Of course, after having made arrangements, one might think that relief would step in and cause an increase of good thoughts that would overcome the pain. And indeed it did. During the time it took me to place the phone back in the cradle, I felt on top of the world.
Regardless of the condition of my fingers, there is still the small matter of getting things done. I keep a pen and paper on me at all times. I usually write down things I need to later do or say. Sometimes I modify stuff according to the time available to me.
Here’s the side-splitting thing: yesterday I was unable to hold my pen properly because the tip of my thumb had split and I was forced to keep the pen between my fingers instead. Consequently, the notes I made yesterday are incomprehensible to me today. Talk about a spider’s scrawl!
No doubt I will eventually get to know what it is that I wrote down but cannot read. Just as soon as whoever, or whatever, prompted the bout of note-making returns to lambast me, I am sure it will all come flooding back.
If you are that person who reads my Blog each and every
day it is posted up online, you will have noticed that I now write
something every other day. Except in this instance.
Yesterday was the Fourth of July - a big day in the US calendar - and I spent the day celebrating the freedom that this great nation gained for itself and, as time passes, the rest of the Free World.
Or, if I were American, I would have been. But I’m not, nor am I going to be. The truth is a little more mundane and - if one is normal and not a geek - quite boring and uninteresting. However, as geeks really do not get it when non-geeks are in the process of stifling yawns, I will press on.
Last week my mobile phone finally gave up and died. Well, that is not strictly true - I could still use it to make phone calls, but I had to enter each number I wished to call. An update had not only broken the Calendar that I relied upon, but it also broke the link between the voice/text functions and the Contacts Book. If I uninstalled or reset the phone, it worked as a phone. If I tried to do anything other than speak to someone, it would then demand that update - which would once again leave me holding a lump of plastic containing a small amount of toxic metals.
A new phone was ordered. I backed up all my text messages and contacts to the microSD card fitted in the phone’s reader. I then removed said microSD card and smashed the faulty phone.
Why? Well, it looked okay, but it was sucking up time trying to keep it going in the face of Google’s onslaught. So rather than allowing it to draw me in any further, I opted to bring its existence to a halt.
Another issue I had been suffering, on and off over the last few months, was the phone losing sight of the microSD card. A restart would make it once again visible, and I put it down to the phone dying.
You can see where this is leading, can’t you?
The replacement phone arrived. I got it up and running and then tried to import my backed up contacts from the microSD card carried over from my now defunct and trashed phone. No luck. The card was mullered.
I have since retrieved the remains of the old phone from the bin and now have the carcass out on my desk with wires all over the place as I attempt to use it merely as a card reader in case it I ever manage to get it to see that card. While an old backup taken off the card has supplied me with contacts; the fact is that there are some added since then, plus photographs, and they my well now be lost. The biggest issue is that I don’t know what is missing.
A number of suggestions have been forthcoming that I hope might remove my time consuming tinkering with the innards of the wrecked phone; some quite promising. I’m going to work my way through them, but won’t again allow it to hustle the rest of my life out of the way like it did yesterday.
Joy and Tears
My mobile phone died earlier in the week. It was
subjected to a mandatory update from Google and it was just too
old to take it. Sad, but eventually all things become too old to go on
First I managed to backup all my contacts and text messages to the microSD card within the phone before junking it after that card was removed and carefully stored. Step two was to determine a suitable replacement. As more modern smartphones seem to be designed to break in a mild breeze, I invested in a decent case while opting to install a bigger capacity microSD card, as well as requesting a new SIM card because my old phone used a giant-sized SIM that seems to no longer be in vogue.
So, of the four things ordered, which would come first? First the replacement SIM card, then the microSD card arrived. Due next was the case. I had been advised the phone was not going to get to me until mid-July and the case was promised to arrive after the weekend.
Of course, the phone came early. It looks as fragile as I suspected, despite being described as a sturdy piece of kit in various reviews. When my old phone died, it was a heck of a job trying to break it so that didn’t end up attracting the attention of some poor fool who might have thought it was salvageable. The supposedly better mobile feels like it is looking to throw itself against something hard.
The case - yes, it would have been nice if it had arrived before the phone, but it didn’t; so I am left hoping I don’t manage to break the thing while waiting to encase it in something that might thwart any suicidal tendencies it may harbour.
But that isn’t what is making me want to cry. No, it is the fact that despite my knowing my old phone was dying, I still didn’t think to backup all my contacts and text messages off the microSD card it carried. It turns out that I was suffering from two problems: my mobile was playing up and apps were failing due to a combination of my needs and the insistence of Google that they knew best, AND a microSD card on its last legs. The soon-to-die microSD card was responsible for my phone losing sight of it at times - and I thought at the time it was just another example of my phone playing up...
Oh, and all my personalised ringtones have gone. And now that I think of it, so have those photographs I took of the notices I spotted on a fence the other day. I don’t recall what they were about - why would I? I had taken photos of them with my mobile so as to be able to read them at home...
Joy and tears - I’m just not certain which are for what.