Hot weather and Wall Fixings

This may not be what it seems but …. for over two years I have had two shelf supports fastened to the workshop wall with screws and plastic wall plugs.   The load on the shelf has barely changed over this period.

The other night while relaxing on the terrace we heard a very loud crash and on investigation found the shelf, contents and both brackets in a heap on the workshop floor.   Fortunately no major damage ensued to anything.

On investigating further I noticed that the blocks used for the wall material was warm to the touch.   This is a consequence of the extraordinary long period of very hot weather we have experience in the UK.   The plugs had come out of the holes intact with the screws still in place.

So my thought is that the warmth in the wall has somehow changed the characteristics of the grip in the wall.   This could be the plug plastic degrading in some way i.e. going soft and having less grip, or maybe the hole in the block work has expanded in diameter enough to lose the grip on the plugs.  Either way it suggests my civil engineering was marginal in the first place !

The shelf is now back up with an extra set of fixing holes and some seriously larger screws.

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France Visit – Managing Expectations and Martel Railway

It has been a bit quiet due to a visit to France.  As ever France continues to be a contradiction to me.

We are having some work done on the house – a terrace and balcony on the rear of the property and a new wall bordering the driveway to define the terrain.   This has been ongoing for nearly a year since first discussed and agreed with the builder.  There is always a reason why the project is delayed be it weather, subcontractors etc.   Like many other similar encounters there is no communication either positive or negative to let you know what is going on.   You arrive expecting to see something as promised and it is not done.   It results in a confrontation, a shrug of shoulders and ‘tomorrow’ (Demain).   I used to think Peter Mayle was joking in his book ‘A Year in Provence’ but now I am not so sure.

I can’t help but contrast this with when I was in business when I always stressed to my team that they must manage the client expectations.   If the job was going to be late tell the client early on so there are no surprises.   If you are going to delivery before expected then also tell them so they think you are wonderful.  This clearly does not fit with the French psych.   That having been said they are nice people and we have some great times out there.

Anyway the light is at the end of the tunnel and the work they have done looks excellent and very well engineered.   It has just taken a very very long time …..

Martel Steam Railway

Speaking of tunnels we had a friend staying and we visited the Martel Steam Railway for a steam train ride.   The Martel line is a few miles long and has a very steep gradient from the village of Martel down to the valley side overlooking the Dordogne.  The society runs both steam and diesel engines and the carriages are really just open trucks with a roof over them.   It was busy and it was hot (mid 30s).   We had the added pleasure of a brass band on the journey playing ‘umpahpah’ music.

View from the trackside over the Dordogne Valley

There is a lot of history regarding the line.  For a steam engine the gradient is very steep and the engineering of the line involved a number of tunnels of varying length.  During WW2 the line had to be pressed into service for all mainline traffic following resistance action on other routes.  If you are in the area it is worth a  visit.

Martel Steam Engine in the Dordogne

http://trainduhautquercy.info/en/steam-train-martel-le-truffadou/

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IT issues in France – Google Backup and Sync + Port 25

As you might have guessed from the above we are in France and the weather is somewhat hot being in the late 30s centigrade.   It is too hot to sit outside so I am inside playing IT.

For the past three visits I have seen an issue with my desktop having long and erratic ping times and download speeds as tested with Okla speedtest.   I have had support visits from the service providers and still no joy.

I brought out my new XPS13 and discovered that if the resident desktop machine is not online everything is normal for all connected devices (25ms ping and 8Mbps download) (That is fast for rural France …).  If I boot the desktop everything goes very pear shaped.

Huge frustration to say the least with all sorts of things on the desktop being checked and services stopped etc to no avail.

I noticed last night that when ever I turned the desktop off, the shut down process was held pending Backup and Sync closing down.   A search today revealed that Google Backup and Sync is a connection killer.   While I wasn’t really aware I had every loaded it in the first place, I certainly know now that I have unloaded it.   Normal service resumed.  Magic.

The other issue that has arisen which I had forgotten about is that in France the use of Port 25 on POP connections is regarded as spam by France Telecom.  The XPS was not sending messages due to being set to  25 and it now is set to 587 outgoing (110 incoming).

So a useful hour (or two) spent inside from the heat has got me two ticks on the problems to be solved list.

Time for a Pimms and lemonade to celebrate.

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