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News - 2013






  • Back to Paris for the New Year.
  • To the Touraine for Christmas with a few family and friends. Unbelievably swimming comfortably at 10C and even sunbathing on 26th December!
  • Contract possibilities arrive - one in Brussels and the other to be completed remotely for a French client.
  • Paris and a power spike causing network problems; used backup PC during DIY repair.
  • Swimming (2500 yards [2.28 Km]), Westfield Centre, West End, Mandela sculpture at the Royal Festival Hall; London squirrels.
  • Updated Paul Myers CV for Download.
  • London for ISTC Technical Writer meeting.
  • Reviewed a recruitment agency web site (see 2014 Comments)
  • Updated personal CV for Belgian ex-colleague for a new role (see 2014 Comments).
  • Two Belgian lady friends for their Christmas shopping - B&B for 4 nights.



  • Trials of new software, web site update & pursuing opportunities..
  • Updated Corel PaintShop Pro X6 to SP1 - rather large and slow process (162Mb for a 240Mb original install).
  • Re-installed Flight Simulator (lost in disk crash September 2012), updated, works fine but need some refresher time.
  • London roof leak; back to the Touraine via Paris and boiler failure - forever busy.
  • SharePoint role dead but followed other leads.
  • To Hampstead Theatre with a good friend from the 80’s: ‘Raving’ by Simon Paisley Day - a fairly lightweight farce, but well done.
  • David Tebbs and partner for lunch at CHL.
  • Day out in London: Riverbus from Putney to Blackfriars and Holborn area where I used to work. A nostalgic trip.
  • Contact and follow up for SharePoint role in Brussels - interesting but not a hot prospect.

Season of Mists photos

  • Late ‘Spring clean’ for CHL and Paul Myers in London for a few days.
  • Installed updates / new versions of PaintShop Pro, VideoStudio and Flare.
  • London: negotiations on energy supplies, company insurance and software updates - all settled with significant discounts.
  • Web site update and September month end accounts.
  • Tiring visit but back to France OK and met partner at St Pierre des Corps for the weekend.
  • Emails / discussions for a London Wiki contract - interesting and put forward to the client..
  • Unexpected flight back from Poitiers (fog - diversion) to London for some administration issues and the balustrade repair to Chelverton House.

September photo gallery

  • Installed and re-organised backups of project histories and data on the new 500Gb and 1 Terabyte drives purchased in London.
  • Pre-dawn fruit gathering, sacking and sheep feeding and organised the Contrôle Technique (MOT) and service of the 207 - no problems.
  • Flight to Tours and found the Peugeot 206 in the free parking(!) -back to the office with no hassle.
  • Hired a hedge cutter and Karcher pressure hose to clean up the London garden and paving - satisfying results.
  • HMRC minor tax issue  resolved and a visit to financial adviser in Kent.
  • Hired a Peugeot 107 to visit friends in Portsmouth and also had early morning swims in the sea - excellent!.
  • Meetings with David Tebbs and Ray Notley.
  • August Month end accounts, updating web sites with sales information and networking (LinkedIn and face to face).
  • Flight to London for marketing and repairs - for a new dental bridge and a minor knee injury.

Liszt & Brahms LP Vinyl Disk

  • Organised flight from the Touraine to London for early September.
  • Updated Stephen Helms CV for download and Project details.
  • Playing pétanque (bowls) and still seeking a Chess opponent.
  • Much learning concerning the quality of recording from vinyl records and improving the results with Audacity, adding meta-data and photographing / scanning album covers.
  • To the Touraine for the holiday period. Given the relatively few visits together with the recent sun and rain, a lot of maintenance required for the orchard, house and pool. However, a good balance of good company, excellent food and wine and step by step maintenance, has put everything in the best order since starting the project 8+ years ago.


Click for Flare WebHelp images

  • Scanner and vinyl disc to .wav / .MP3 set up and data base update; experiments with Kindle for PC and Calibre to produce my first epub file (you need a suitable reader like Calibre).
  • A busy week including month end accounts, personal admin, the garden and a weekend with my partner and friends; returned to France via the Dover-Dunkerque route.
  • Drove from the office to Dunkerque, ferry to Dover and to Portsmouth for a great weekend with an old friend - swam in the sea during the heatwave.
  • Client and Prime Contractor very pleased with the results so a pat on the back for yours truly. Visit to Antwerp with partner & BBQ with friends in Tremelo - excellent.
  • Integration instruction document completed and final delivery package created including: HTML5 Help, User Manual in Word and PDF, Integration document, Use Case and Business Rules (Word & PDF).
  • Help on Help pages  and final ‘Final’ version in Flare and final outputs to PDF and Word.
  • Index update and ‘Look & Feel’ updates including colour matching with the application.
  • Start of the ‘big clean’ - serious proofing again with many updates including the text, the new payment system and finally the current screenshots.


Click to see Cerises_en_Touraine

  • Using the MadCap Forums for some detailed issues (very good) and finished the month with the successful first link integrating the application with the Help.
  • Glossary conversion, clean up and additions - rather dull work but essential for the users.
  • Visits to the Touraine and London for orchard maintenance and CHL administration.
  • R&D on updated payment system in the web application: demo screens and draft text.
  • Drop-down text in HTML5 Help and PDF tested OK.
  • Word Import issues with Flare resolved and planning with the end client successful.
  • Partner with me in Brussels for a good weekend: good with a visit to Leuven and dinner with friends.


  • Learning and re-learning the ‘tricks’ of preparing a document for importing into Flare - saves a lot of work later if you get it right: testing, testing...
  • Dinners with old and more recent friends and rather rushed visits to the Touraine (grass growing like crazy with the current weather) and to London for administration and the garden there too.
  • Re-met the team and visited the end-client, negotiated the purchase of two copies of Flare (one for CHL + maintenance), purchased and installed. 
  • New contract settled and back to Brussels to update a source manual for conversion to Web Help using MadCap Flare - now up to version 9.1.

2013-04-25 08.32.26_150

  • A few days in the Touraine - property maintenance and also an important a visit from my old school friend (for 48 years) and his wife.
  • Negotiating a new contract in Brussels.
  • 6 - hour delay on the return flight: tiring but not serious.
  • Back to Paris and a flight to Fuertaventura for a real break with excellent weather, good food and much swimming and reading: Life of Pi by Yann Martel - a very good read.
  • Drove to Paris for the weekend and on to the Touraine to tend the orchard and clean the pool - lucky with the weather!
  • Updated document and completed Flare tests. Social events with erstwhile colleagues before a holiday break.
  • Studied the effects of the latest CSS changes to the system.

Click to see Flare research

  • Updated web site pages: Onscreen, Internet, SharePoint, Projects.
  • Started another User Manual on a related application for the same end client.
  • Installed Camtasia v6 (my legal copy) to produce a working demo quickly: recorded application screen video, intro and ‘outro’ slides, basic call outs and voice over - no problem - must try v8.
  • Installed MadCap Mimic but additional software (Java [easy] and some open source stuff [failed] on Win 7 64-bit so currently stuck!
  • Installed MadCap Flare v9 trial version and produced:
    • HTML5 versions of client’s Use Case doc and User Manual
    • Web Help and Web Help+ versions of client’s User Manual - no great issues except a little work required before and after importing 200+ Word pages and Glossary is not easily converted.
    • Web Help+ looks to be the better option but more research needed on the Glossary; the *.h file for Context Sensitive Help was produced easily.
  • Good progress on image updates and text consequences: a bit more exciting than watching paint dry :-).
  • Most of the team now installed at the client - office very quiet.
  • London: visiting friend with sad news; month end & house maintenance.


  • End client visited us - interested in Help systems & video...
  • Changes had major implications for images - about 100 updates needed as well as improvements.
  • Updated Stephen Helms, Projects and CV for download.
  • Significant changes to the system: ‘look & feel’ issues affecting the User Manual, some functions deprecated. Most efforts on Use Cases (several additions) and some essential updates on the Manual. End client expressed compliments on the work so far.
  • Back to Paris before the restart in Brussels.
  • Took some advantage of my club to eat well, swim and read the papers.
  • Lots of administration and cleaning of files - boring but essential.
  • Usual Eurostar trip to London for a busy and slightly stressful period:
    • Getting the new passport (easy in fact but without it leaving the UK for work is of course impossible);
    • The two session treatment for a root canal filling in a dental bridge supporting tooth (painless and without anaesthetic!)
    • The company annual audit - all the usual minor accounting issues at noticeable cost, but at least completed on time.



  • Organised a busy trip to London at the end of the 3-month contract but will start an contract extension in February.
  • Social life quite active with erstwhile colleagues, Belgian friends in Brussels and Tremelo, my partner in Paris and friends in London. The visit to Keerbergen in the snow was good with our friends and with a good dinner!
  • Appeared to have cured the PDF production issue and met the deadline for deliveries.
  • Busy in Brussels for the month. Interesting project requiring ‘reverse engineering’ of the system’s documentation: user reference manual followed by Business Rules and then the Use Cases for a purchasing system based on an Oracle database.
  • End of sub-contractor’s contract in Brussels.
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