Thursday, December 19, 2019

Pocket Money Manager

Exciting times!

Today we launch a pocket money manager website for both parents and children to manage their allowances.

My kids names are Henry and Isabel, so the name - is the first three letters of each of their names.

For years, when they were small, I'd mentally record how much each of their totals was - this was prone to error and doubt.

Later we moved to a Google Sheet solution - I made a simple spreadsheet with rows for each week (their basic allowance is their age, in Euros per week), and another column for recording what they purchased.

After he completed the amazing Khan Academy course in programming I thought a fun practical project would be to develop a real-live application with the boy.

Since I'm fairly generous with the pocket money, it comes up in day-to-day activities a fair amount - and figured it was a small enough project to complete in a few months.

The site uses a .net backend and was my first experience of a bootstrap html design - so I get to learn too!

I've pulled in a few webservices to manage SMS notification sending and currency conversions to whatever base currency is selected for the pocket money.

I'm hoping that most bases have been covered:

- Chore payments:  That is one off increasing in the amount that the child has
- Regular payments:  The weekly (or monthly) allowance increase

- Cash handouts:  Record when a child is given some notes e.g. at an amusement park and they run off and spend
- On behalf purchases:  When you buy something for the child either in a store (maybe as part of your normal shopping - which is hard to manage if they have money in a wallet also), and Online purchases that you make on your credit card on behalf the child
- Regular subscriptions:  These days kids want mobile phones (and associated phone company contracts), or Netflix/Spotify subscriptions.  They don't credit cards themselves; so you can setup regular deductions from their "bank account" on and pay it from your own credit card.

There are both Adult and Child accounts - so your child can login themselves and see how much they have (without troubling you) and also help manage the process by adding the text and amount of the transactions themselves - you just need to click "Accept" and the details are recorded.

Got Kids?  Go ahead and try - all completely free.

Andorran Laws on Dog Barking Nuisance Noise

I've written extensively about the most selfish woman in Andorra who lets her dogs out into her yard in the morning, then clears off for work, leaving the mutts bored out of their tiny minds to bark incessantly at cats, passers-by, birds or themselves all day until she returns from work.

I get to listen to them all day long as I try to write complex algorithms in code.

When I tell her about this, she just shrugs her shoulders and says "Dogs bark".

I've been doing some investigation into the law, and whilst there is no penalty for doing what she does during the daytime 0800-2200 weekdays (0900-2200 weekends), if they are left outside after outside these hours there is fine of 200 Euro.

Most often she leaves for work at around 0800 and comes back in the mid-afternoon - once she is in the house the mutts are quiet, but occasionally she does go out for the day, and maybe gets delayed somewhere, and they are left out after 10pm - yapping away.  It is these occasions I and my other neighbours (who are just as frustrated as me) can strike.

For quick reference here is a the application sections of Andorran Law:

Capítol cinquè. Convivència ciutadana
Article 43. Tranquil·litat pública i dret al descans

1. Tots els ciutadans estan obligats a respectar la tranquil·litat pública i el dret al descans dels altres ciutadans, evitant de fer sorolls que alterin la convivència ciutadana.

2. S’entén que el període durant el qual regeix el dret al descans dels ciutadans és el que està comprès entre les 22:00 hores i les 8:00 hores els dies laborables, i entre les 22:00 hores i les 9:00 hores els caps de setmana i els dies festius.

3. Resta prohibit pertorbar la tranquil·litat pública i el descans dels veïns mitjançant l’ús inadequat o anormal d’aparells de televisió, ràdio o música, o de qualsevol altre aparell sonor, o mitjançant cants, crits, baralles o qualsevol altre acte molest, i, en general, mitjançant l’emissió de qualsevol soroll, àdhuc els sorolls que produeixin els animals domèstics.

4. Resta prohibit que els vehicles estacionats a la via pública o en aparcaments o altres espais públics o privats facin sorolls que pertorbin la tranquil·litat pública o el dret al descans dels ciutadans. En aquest cas, si els vehicles són a la via pública o en aparcaments o altres espais públics, el Cos de Policia, juntament amb els agents de circulació, els pot retirar.

5. La prohibició a què fa referència l’apartat 3 anterior es pot modular en virtut de l’atorgament de l’autorització administrativa corresponent, sempre que la normativa aplicable en matèria de contaminació acústica o en qualsevol altra matèria així ho estableixi.
Capítol tercer. Règim d’infraccions i sancions en relació amb el títol VII
Article 58. Infraccions

1. Són infraccions administratives:
t) Pertorbar la tranquil·litat pública o el descans dels veïns mitjançant l’ús inadequat o anormal d’aparells de televisió, ràdio o música, o de qualsevol altre aparell sonor, o mitjançant cants, crits, baralles o qualsevol altre acte molest, àdhuc els sorolls que produeixin els animals domèstics.
Article 59. Sancions
4. Les infraccions que estableixen les lletres h), t ) i u )donen lloc a la imposició d’una sanció d’un import de 200 euros quan la infracció es produeix entre les 22:00 hores i les 00:00 hores, o entre les 06:00 hores i les 08:00 hores els dies laborables i entre les 06:00 hores i les 09:00 hores els caps de setmana i els dies festius, i d’un import de 300 euros quan la infracció es produeix entre les 00:00 hores i les 06:00 hores.
Chapter Five. 
Citizen coexistence
Article 43. Public tranquility and the right to rest

1. All citizens are obliged to respect the public tranquility and the right to rest of the other citizens, avoiding to make noises that alter the citizen coexistence.

2. It is understood that the period during which the right to rest for citizens is governed is that which is between 10pm and 8am on weekdays, and between 10pm and 9am: 00 hours on weekends and holidays.

3. It is forbidden to disturb the public tranquility and rest of the neighbors by means of the improper or abnormal use of television, radio or music apparatus, or of any other sound device, or by means of songs, shouts, fights or any other act. annoying, and generally by making any noise, even the noises made by pets.

4. It is forbidden for vehicles parked on public roads or in car parks or other public or private spaces to make noise that disturb public tranquility or the right to rest for citizens. In this case, if the vehicles are on the public thoroughfare or in car parks or other public spaces, the Police Corps, together with the traffic police, may remove them.

5. The prohibition referred to in section 3 above may be modulated by the granting of the corresponding administrative authorization, provided that the applicable regulations in the field of noise pollution or in any other matter establish it.

Chapter three. Regime of offenses and penalties in relation to title VII
Article 58.  Offenses

1. Administrative offenses are:
t) Disturb the public tranquility or rest of the neighbors by means of the improper or abnormal use of television, radio or music equipment, or of any other sound device, or by means of songs, shouts, fights or any other annoying act, even the noises made by pets.
Article 59.  Sanctions

4. The offenses established in the letters h), t) and u)result in a penalty of $ 200 when the offense occurs between 10pm and 12pm, or between 6am and 8am on weekdays and between 06:00 and 09:00 on weekends and holidays, and an amount of 300 euros when the offense occurs between 00:00 and 06:00.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Never give up

Whether we like it or not, democracy will be delivered on 31st Jan 2020.

This is a good thing, in some way, because if there had been a people's vote or anything else, we'd have never heard the end of it.

Leavers will however have to accept that democracy is a process and the fight for renewed EU membership for the UK will begin on that day, and for some of us - never end.

In the meanwhile the EU will be able to move, at pace, towards a fully democratic federal model, Euro stabilisation and further harmonisation among the key objectives.

It will take many years, but I believe day to day realities will slowly convince an ever growing section of the public that leaving was a bad idea.  Not necessarily closures of manufacturing industries e.g.  Land Rover or Airbus - these can easily be spun or disregarded, but more personal experiences:

- Not being permitted to travel and missing a holiday for having less than 6 months remaining on your passport
- The friend with a new Irish passport (who maybe voted brexit!) breezing through control, and others (maybe who abstained in the Referendum) having to wait in the non-EU line and be asked the purpose of their visit.
- The uncle who finds he need over 50K euro in the bank in cash to retire to Spain (Add another 350 Euro per month on top for Private Medical care)
- The couple who buy a holiday villa but then realise can't spend more than 3 months in any 6 in it.
- The phone left on roaming which hits a £50 bill
- Being caught and fined for bringing back three bottles of "tax free" vodka.

A lot, of course, depends on Boris' Brexit deal... He may opt for a softer-brexit in the end - but this then leads back to the UK being a "rule-taker" and pretty much the point of brexit bar the anti-immigrant vote.

- The xenophobes will be sadly disappointed when they see more brown people, not less over the coming years - the demographic necessity of the UK's ageing population means there is simply no alternative but to have more immigrants, and just wait until the next Abu Hamza-type case and they realise the ECHR is not the ECJ (oh dear!)

For me, it will be a very sad day, and the begining of a terrific amount of bureaucracy no doubt.  But we can continue living as immigrants on the continent and won't have to go back to "Prison Island" as I am now calling it, any time soon - as long as we can continue to support ourselves.

I will leave the last word to Tony Benn...

 (Yes was a euro-skeptic... the feelings however are mutual, and we must continue to argue for what we believe)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

UK Election 2019

So, no vote for us.  Shame about the 15-year rule.  Particular as we lived in Raaab's constituency.

This was 2017:

This is today 2019:

Looks pretty similar if you ask me.   Labour slightly further behind the Tories, but Libdems have a fair bit more....

Will be an interesting night tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Just so you know... Retirement in Spain Post Brexit

1) We left in 2006 and thus have been stripped of our right to vote the upcoming election due to the 15 year rule.

2) So that I can say in the future that no-one I know "didn't know this"...

Please read the requirements for a RETIREMENT VISA in Spain - for 3rd country nationals.

(This is the Spanish California Consulate Document)

In particular:

- Minimum income required is 25,560 Euros annually plus 6,390 Euros per each additional family member

- Proof of having international medical insurance - This will cost upwards of 350 Euros per month at age 65+ = 4200 Euro per year

(Note that pre-existing conditions will NOT be covered by private medical insurance)
I've highlighted a few fun things that will need to be provided by Brits in the future if they want to retire to Spain.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Ear Plugs Needed

What madness is this?  I have resorted to wearing ear plugs all day to block out the noise of the damn dogs barking next door.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Check constraint that is a field has a particular value ensure that another field must be filled in.

DB time!

So this post regards "normalisation", or lack of, permitting me to be more lazy, and have simpler databases - what's not to like?

I had a DB table "users", and two distinct classes of user:  Adult and Child.  Now the business logic demands that the Adult users have an email address entered, whereas the child user doesn't necessarily need one.

The Boyce-Cod or whatever blah blah method would be to have 2 tables, but that means loads of JOINs, the inability to view the entire user list in one place, and more logic everywhere.

I'd prefer to have 1 table "Users", but how to enforce the business logic above?

So I've discovered a way - using CHECK CONSTRAINTS in MS SQL 2012+

The "redmouse" is a child user, it is optional whether he has a email address or not.

([role]='Adult' AND [emailaddress] IS NOT NULL OR ([role]='Child' AND [emailaddress] IS NOT NULL OR [role]='Child' AND [emailaddress] IS NULL))

Allows me to denormalise to my hearts content and yet retain the rock solid data stability that we all crave.

Similarly above the "childDoB" column is only relevant to "child" users.   For fun what would be the CHECK CONSTRAINT for that rule?

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Land Rover Discovery 3/LR3 upper rear grab handle removal

I'm not very good with DIY.  Has to be said.  So I bought a Upper Cargo Shelf. Very nice it is too..  So I need to fit it....  How hard can this be??

Comes with a A4 page of written instructions.  Very 70s I must say...

Anyway so apparently I need to "pry back the plastic covers".  I'm trying to "pop" the bloody things out from the bodywork.  Lucky a neighbour walks by and clears things up for me.

There is a plastic "flap" that covers the screws.

So I know there aren't any photos online of that..  I've checked,  so if you in the same boat as me....  Now you know.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Natureo De-alcoholised Wine from Torres

I just finished this bottle off... I'd opened it for a family friend who visited as he was not boozing.
It "looks" very good... looks a lot like wine
Tastes pleasant.. (however doesn't taste like wine)
so worthwhile keeping a bottle or 2 in I think... psychologically useful if you fancy a glass, but shouldn't really.

If you are thirsty and have a fair bit in the glass, you can glug it down (it's grape juice more or less) and that is something that doesn't happen with wine.  People looking at you will think you are a maniac...

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

I've had a idea for Boris.

This is what he should do.

He should go to Brussels and demand:

1) End of EU commissioner/president appointments.  These should be directly elected by the Members States populations.. think "US President"-style elections.
2) Move the European Court of Justice or the European Central Bank to somewhere in the UK (not London)
3) End the monthly move of the European Parliament to Strasbourg.
4) Probably a few other things he can come up with...


Come back to the UK and offer this new deal (and Remain) or full out (with all the implications like loss of NI and subsequently Scotland) to the people in a new referendum.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Waste rubbish dump in La Massana Andorra

There is a community waste disposal location in La Massana. 
Shared with the Ordino comú it is situated on the main road between the two towns, opposite the Elf petrol station.
It is open between 8 am and 4pm Monday through Saturday.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Calculating the benefit of going for a second hand laptop vs a new one living in a low VAT country.

So it is time for a new laptop!  My amazing Sony VPCCB has done so well over the years - I bought it in 2012 and it's still my daily workhorse.

Upgraded it to an SSD and had to service the fan a couple of times it was going good until something happened to the video card and I had to band-aid by loading Ubuntu and running Visual Studio in a VM to access Windows.  Not ideal, but kept me going for a few more months.

Now with VS2017 it takes just too long to get everything running. The power supply also died last week.  It is a sign.

Now.. I've never really used tablets but I do fancy seeing if having one will encourage me to read the paper again - and these are all e-versions now (except Private Eye - still only available on the street of shame).

So this fancy Microsoft Surface 2 looks nice.  Insanely expensive, but ooh so nice.

I'm going to go for the big screen 15" and either the half or full terabtye model.  256gb will be filled up in no time.

Living in Andorra there is only 4.5% VAT to pay, but if I do the importation myself I can claim the VAT back from whatever country I buy it from - in my case 21% from Spain.  On a hefty purchase like this, that makes a big difference.

Locally I can get the i7, 16Gb RAM, 512Gb model here in FNAC for 3026€

But in Spain FNAC is selling that model for 3134€.  Great if you from Barcelona and want to save 100 odd euro by buying it here.  But I can go to Barcelona myself and save a fortune.

3134€ - 21% = 2475.86 Euro on which I will have pay 4.5% to re-import. Giving a final cost of 2587€

For the 1 TB version the figure is 3609€ in Barcelona and that's final cost here to me would be 2851€ minus the Spanish IVA and then adding the import duty give  2979€

Now the other alternative for me is to buy one on ebay in the UK and get mum to bring it over.  I can't claim any VAT off that way, but prices are cheaper and I'm also happy to get a 2nd hand one if there is a reasonable saving.  The warranties offered by Microsoft are pretty poor really at only 1 year, so no loss even if it is few months old.

I tried to bid on a just-a-bit used 1TB over the weekend from a lass in Scotland using ebay's "best offer" system.  I bid 2K GBP and it went for exactly that - there must have been another bidder bidding the exact same price.  Anyway now I have a benchmark....

2000 pounds today is 2321 Euro. So that would have been a saving of 658 Euro.  That is the kind of saving I looking for! 658/2979 = 22% off.

So for the smaller one.. getting 22% off the FNAC price is 2017€.  This in GBP is £ 1737 - again this is the "mint condition, but taken out of the box price"

Converting the "brand new, 12 month warranty" prices into GBP I get £ 2573 and £ 2233 for the 1TB and 512gb respectively.  In order to justify the cost and hassle of getting the thing to me here in Andorra I need to see a price midway been these and the used price.

Spain € UK Pound Conversion UK Pound New Ebay GBP UK Pound 2nd Hand Mint
1Tb 2979€ £ 2573 £ 2286.50 £ 2000 (2321€)
512Gb 2587€ £ 2233 £ 1985 £ 1737 (2017€)

I will post here with my results....


So here I am typing on my swish new Surface Book 2 - 1Tb

I had to bid on a fair few machines.  2 were cancelled by the seller, both due to incorrect screen size in the description.  Another, I mentioned above, was sold for the same price I bid to someone else, as they must have bid moments earlier than I.  I have been "watching" a lot of them, and now I see them coming down in price.  

Anyway I got this one, shrink wrapped, UK keyboard, £ sign... all good. 

The price... £2250 which is just under my predicted mark.  Amazing I paying 20% VAT and it's still cheaper to buy it in the UK than do an export from Spain, and cheaper than buying it here in Andorra.

As is typical with eBay you get a lot of activity at the end of the auction.. but I'd put in my max bid from the table above.. so will not complain.  The price I paid is fair value.

Happy hunting for your dream machine....!!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Spanish verbs

Damn Spanish verbs can be frustrating.  I been trying for 13 years, and still get confused.  Must be the old brain.

I found a great "Cheat Sheet" (for fun try getting a Spanish person to say that :)) on but it a bit long so I cut it down a bit to just the most useful verb endings.

The cheat sheet is only good for regular verbs, and the most important/often used ones are irregular.

So last intercambio I worked with my friend to translate some typical sentences.

Here we are:

My mother was here until today,

Mi madre ha estado aqui hasta hoy,

and she will probably be back in April.

y ella a lo mejor volvera en Abril

We all had a nice time.

Nos lo pasamos bien.

Tanya & Isabel went to Barcelona on Sunday for appointments Isabel had yesterday and today.

Tanya y Isabel fueron a Barcelona dominigo para hacer encargos Isabel tenia ayer y hoy.

They are coming back now and are expected to be at home when Henry and I get there.

Ellos estan volviendo ahora mismo y se espera que esten en casa cuando Henry y yo lleguemos alli.

We went to Pas de la casa on Sunday and had a nice meal.

Nos fuimos a Pas de la casa el domingo, comimos bien. 

It was a pleasant restaurant, although the menu was not accommodating.

Era un restaurant agradable, aunque el menú no era complaciente.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

How do you fix a roll of aluminium foil once it's started spiralling?

I had this problem.

Seen a post on Reddit.  Old one.

"This thread is archived
New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast"

That is a shame.  As I now have a better answer than any of the posts.

Get a pair of tweezers and scrape down from the part of the foil roll that is "stuck".  

Don't matter if it digs down into the layer beneath.  Try to maintain even digging across the roll.

Worked a treat!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Dog Saga Continues

So this new neighbour of ours who really must rank as one of the most selfish people ever, now has a new dog rapidly changing from puppy to expert-barker, in addition to the two older dogs she had previously.  The puppy has a hoarse-sounding bark that is even more penetrating than the older dogs' barks.

My whole body convulses when the damn thing goes off.  It is not possible to concentrate on my work, when they looking over the fence and barking away for hours.

I googled for some information on the physiological effects of the barking and found an interesting site.

This guy seems to have been tormented for years by inconsiderate neighbours, but checking his facebook, it appears that he has been able to sell up and move.

So good for him!  I however am stuck with this woman who very rarely exercises her big dogs, so they roam around the yard all day barking madly at cats, birds, workmen etc. who pass up or down the street.

Here is the annoying yappy little thing...  This is the fence between my yard and her yard.  I park my car where my son is walking.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

(Bit) Bonkers Relationship Advice

If you want a really strong relationship - I recommend moving abroad.  It needs to be a country where neither partner can a) speak the language b) has lived before.

This, in my experience, will be a little crazy – for example if will make even the simplest task; like talking to a plumber fraught with possibilities to get the wrong end of the stick, you won’t have a family or friends network to rely on, and everything will be an uphill struggle.

But.. you will probably have a rock solid relationship with your wife.  After a few years you will be able to guarantee they can take just about anything in their stride.  Travelling to other parts of the world will be a breeze – and going back to your home town will bring a smile to your face when you have to sort something mildly problematic there.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Business Ideas to try

Sometimes one wakes up in the morning, or takes a long leisurely bath - and "Archimedes-like" you get a brainwave.  Lots of people do, I even heard about a CEO who out a bath suite next to his corporate office to capitalise on this phenomenon.

I get of lot of these "brainwaves".  Most business ideas (to their owners), seem "genius", at least initially.   After a day or two, the shine normally comes off them.  Bitter experience has taught me that peer reviewing your new business concept is the best way to get some honest feedback on whether it's a go-er or not.

So I'm going to try the biggest "peer" review of them all - posting these ideas on the internet!  Of course the idea will have lost it's element of "surprise" - but maybe a reader will fancy using it a the seed of their business empire.  Or just having a good laugh if the idea it too "hare-brained".

Ideas are important, but they are more or less free, and really to make a business succeed its in the "doing".  I don't have much time for "idea's men"; unless they are grafters too.

I'm going to post them once and while, all with the business idea tag

Monday, January 28, 2019

Determining actual pixels rendered from relative settings

So I'm finally.. after maybe 17 years... getting round to looking at CSS in a bit more detail.

Sadly CSS has moved on a bit in the last 17 years... I'm going to have to go ALL OUT.

Doing it via an Udemy course - so far so good.  Just had a pretty mental lecture on how the browser finally calculates the actual "end result" pixel values; and I'm certain I'm going to need to refer to it again.

The main new point here for me, em settings are measured relative to their parent font-size, if used to specify font-size, whereas em settings are measured relative to the current font-size, if used to specify lengths.

em - is a multiplication factor, so 2em could be 2x the parent's font size for a font-size definition.

Mind blown.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Recollections from a mis-spend youth

I came across an article in the Nottingham Evening Post.

Brings back some memories.  No a lot of memories actually...which is a shame because I spend a large amount of my life during my 20s in these places.  

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Twitter still doesn't allow phone numbers from Andorra

I last posted about this in 2013!  It is now 2019!

Lot of exclamation marks!! yes!!  Very very frustrating!

Just trying to add a company twitter account to my mobile.

And I'm still getting "This appears to be an invalid phone number. Please enter a valid phone number." message.

My phone number entered is perfectly valid.

Hey twitters..  How about fixing this.

This appears to be an invalid phone number. Please enter a valid phone number.

This appears to be an invalid phone number. Please enter a valid phone number.This appears to be an invalid phone number. Please enter a valid phone number.

This appears to be an invalid phone number. Please enter a valid phone number.

Distributed Backlink Service

Wouldn't it be great to work together and create a "distributed search engine" with the index spread across thousands of peer...