1973 – 2007
In 1973 I decided to go on holiday on my own, thinking this would cause a row with my parents who wouldn’t allow me to go. A nice challenge for a 17-year-old stubborn teenager….
But no, my Father thought it was a great idea, even when I told him I wanted to travel to the UK. He asked me if I was going by train, ferry or plane. Then I got worried, as this was not at all my plan! I was only hoping for a row!
I decided to go by Ferry, booked a ticket, bought a big yellow suitcase, asked my parents if they wanted to drop me off in Hoek van Holland (but no the nearest station was the real start of my holiday they said) and off I went.
Sweaty hands, a little nervous because I had never been on holiday on my own, let alone abroad.
I was going to stay with a Yorkshire couple in Glastonbury – Somerset (a cheap address via a friend). They sent me a letter in which they told me to get off the bus at Town Hall, a red telephone box was my guide.
Still a bit nervous (I hardly spoke English at the time) I took the buss from Bath to Wells and from Wells to Glastonbury. When I noticed the first road sign “Glastonbury” I looked for a Pub and a red telephone box. I had heard that Pubs had the weirdest names in the UK and it never crossed my mind to search the dictionary for Town Hall…
I got off the bus at the nearest pub with a telephone box in front and waited…….. and waited….. and waited. For hours! A green Morris Minor Traveller drove by, 2 grey headed ladies in the front, woollen twin sets and tweed skirts.
The 4th time they stopped and asked me what I was doing there. After I used my hand and feet to explain, they laughed, hoisted me and my yellow suitcase in the back of the Morris and dropped me of in front of the real Town Hall, 20 miles away.
As soon as they hoisted me out of the car, two elderly people ran towards me, hugged me if I was the lost daughter and told me how worried they had been: the young girl from Holland and her yellow suitcase got lost.
This elderly couple became my Foster Mum and Dad. I felt at home immediately and found as much love with them as with my real parents. Foster brother calls me his NOAF sister: Non Official Adopted Foster Sister.
Both my real Father and Dad, passed away many years ago. My two Mums are still alive. They met each other several times and are always talking about “our daughter”. My Mother is 79 and Mum turned 91 two weeks ago.
Thursday April 26, I am going to visit Mum again. I booked the Ferry Europoort – Hull and will return next week Tuesday.
During my first trip to the UK, I carried an international plug with me to connect my Dutch hairdryer to the English wall socket. But these little things tend to worn out and back in the 80’s I welded a Dutch extension cord to a UK plug. This is still my companion on my journeys to England.
But times change: the suitcase is now a roller bag + laptop bag. Last year one plug was not sufficient anymore. It needed organisation skills to have the batteries of the camera and my mobile phone (although this one has a car charger too) loaded before using the laptop or any other of my equipments.
And this year? Well, I bought a 6-plug-socket, which will be plugged in, to my Dutch-UK extension cord to avoid unnecessary thinking about what to charge first.
6 will do? Yes: laptop, WiFi phone, mobile charger, two camera chargers (I am known to take an awful lot of pictures), Bluetooth charger, hairdryer…..
Uuuhhmmmm…….. do I really need my laptop? Yes, showing Mum loads of pictures of her 95th birthday, my building activities, the new office etc. And what about my Wifi phone? Not sure yet, I have not used it outside my own office so yes, might take it with me. My mobile? yes, although it will charge in the car too. Bleutooth? Yes, pure safety.
Will I log on to the Internet, no, it is holiday!!!
How easy was life back in the early 70’s………..
Monday, April 23, 2007
1973 – 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Bluetooth and Vitaero, my match of the day
Browse for Bleutooth on my blog and you will find out that this is not the first time I talk about it. If it would be possible to have a Plastic Surgeon implementing Bluetooth devices, I would be number one on the list.
Although supposed to be glued to my laptops, I also need to move around for eating, drinking and some other perfectly human needs.
Because I also take calls from clients who forward to my mobiles (yes, I have a few…) I am already packed with equipments, pens and paper when away from my office but still within a range of 10 metres from my laptop (Skype).
My latest toy, the Logitech Mobile Pro is the most comfortable headset I ever bought but it is still causing difficulties with the various Skype versions Beta Testers are put up with (volunterely..).
After every update, I need to check the settings in Skype and Windows and figure out what works best: Bleutooth Audio or Bleutooth High Audio Quality or maybe a mix of these two.
Plus when the battery gets flat because I forgot to recharge it, I need to switch to one of my old devices and the whole sorting out business starts again.
Until one of my network contacts, Stuart John, Managing Director at Ocean Observations (UK), reminded me of Vitaero.
Vitaero is a Skype-certified software application that seamlessly manages the connections between Skype, your PC and your wireless Bluetooth headset.Vitaero connects to the headset and puts it in standby mode, preserving it's battery life while idle but enabling it to respond instantly when needed. Vitaero watches for any Skype event that would involve the headset (e.g. incoming call or listen to voicemail), or waits for you to press a headset button, and then intelligently performs the appropriate actions (e.g. ring the headset, open the audio connection or pick-up/hang-up a call).
The answer to my questions……
I downloaded the software, configured it to my needs and ever since, my connection problems are gone. Even Beta updates are of non influence.
Also, I can use it with more then one Skype account at the same laptop.
The sound quality improved tremendously, delays are gone.
If I am accidentally outside the 10-metre range of headset-laptop connection and the headset disconnects, Vitaero picks the signal up immediately after I step back in the 10-metre area. No need to push any buttons.
What I truly love, is being able to answer a call by pushing the call button of the headset. Something that is possible answering calls from mobile phones but not Skype calls. Vitaero makes that possible for me. Aaahhh….. mobile Skype freedom!
I am a happy kid and would like to advise everyone using Bluetooth with Skype, to at least try Vitaero. A free trial for 14 days!
Posted by Helen Varras at 10:15 am
Friday, April 20, 2007
Back in 2000, I created a Hotmail account with my surname. I received the message that this combination was already taken.
My surname is not a very common one so I was surprised to find another Roelfsema with the initial “I”
I wrote this person a letter (in English, you never know where someone lives) and received a wonderful letter in return form a 25 year old KLM Stewardess from Holland, called Ineke.
Ever since, we exchanged numerous e-mails and met several times. She became a very loyal friend, a very close relative although we do not share the same ancestors.
When I was diagnosed with Cancer, she wrote in an e-mail: “Ike, the coward Cancer doesn’t know yet, but he messes with the wrong person!!” This became my Mantra and it has been my e-mail signature during all the (successful) treatments.
Half a year ago, not long after she met the man of her dreams, Ineke was diagnosed with Skin Cancer, a little spot at her back. They removed the Cancer and found it as well in the Sentinel (gate-keeper) lymph node. All lymph nodes got removed and there was no Cancer found in those. This was very hopeful.
Though a few weeks ago, Ineke got very painful ribs and X-rays showed “hot spots” and yesterday the MRI scan confirmed it was Cancer.
She told me this in an e-mail, which I received half an hour ago. Her Cancer cannot be treated. She does not even get the chance to fight. Ineke, who feels like being in a nightmare, has now the difficult task to change the direction of her life. She and her partner, have now to find a way to create a new life, a very short life, together.
Both families now know, they have to get on without this very special woman. There is no life expectance. Maybe a few months, maybe a year. No one can predict this, Ineke’s Cancer is aggressive.
I can’t accept yet that where I survived my Cancer, Ineke is going to lose the battle.
I was just copying a quote I found on the Internet to my Skype Mood Message when Ineke’s e-mail arrived.
The quote says: “Life is like the seasons, spring always follows winter.” This quote is how I live and experience my life. That is why I felt attracted to it.
All of a sudden this quote got a totally different meaning. Yes, Spring follows Winter. I still believe that. Though my first thought was “There will not be a Spring after Ineke’s Winter. Inekes suffering will become very dark and difficult at the end. Spring follows when the suffering ends, but only for Ineke at that very moment.
For her partner and her family it will take a long time before the flowers bloom again.
Eventually all memories of Ineke will cause a Spring again. She is a beautiful person and these memories of her will bring the sun back to those who love her so much.
Ineke is still a fighter, she fights for a special last stage of her life. She will try to keep the Spring alive as long as possible.
Posted by Helen Varras at 2:07 pm
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Networking, what is this?
I apologise to all my readers for being so quiet in this blog. Of course, there was much to report about new sound devices, the Skype worm, private life but it has been fairly busy at the office.
I also tried to catch up with networking: maintaining and expanding. Time consuming but extremely pleasant.
Not only nature celebrates Spring but so do the entrepreneurs. People are in a good and sunny mood which makes it easy to chat and connect.
So, what is networking?
In business, entrepreneurial networks are social organizations offering different types of resources to start or improve entrepreneurial projects. Having adequate human resources is a key factor for entrepreneurial achievements. Combined with leadership, the entrepreneurial network is an indispensable kind of social network not only necessary to properly run the business or project, but also to differentiate the business from similar projects.
The goal of most entrepreneurial networks is to bring together a broad selection of professionals and resources that compliment each other's endeavors. Initially a key priority is to aid successful business launches. Subsequently provide motivation, direction and increase access to opportunities and other skill sets. Promotion of each members talents and services both within the network and out in the broader market increases opportunities for all participants.
One of the key needs of any startup is capital, and often entrepreneurial networks focus on providing such financial resources, particularly tailored to their membership demographic.
Entrepreneurial networks may also become community involved, endorsing reforms, legislation or other municipal drives that accommodate their organization's goals.
Graeme Gibson of Wispa invited me to Ecademy. Totally new to networking, I was a bit careful with completing my profile. But even after entering minor information, I already received e-mails to welcome me. By replying, I connected to these net workers.
Slowly but surely, I developed a valuable network with wonderful people who are always willing to advise and to help out without expecting any profit at all.
One of the goals is of course doing business but this is not the first intention at Ecademy. Expanding your network, recommending and linking you to other members, trust and friendship is important, comes first. The private part in a profile is therefore very valuable. A year passed and I feel at home at Ecademy. I met wonderful people with a zest for life and friendship. From multinationals to small business holders with one thing in common: hard working to archive a healthy grow, willing to share their knowledge. It meant and still means much to me. Being a is even for the smallest entrepreneur affordable and it allows you an enormous freedom to e-mail, post and join clubs.
I would recommend every businessman/woman to join. Networking rocks!!
You can also find me at LinkedIn. Please feel free to contact me to connect. Speak to you soon.....
Posted by Helen Varras at 1:01 pm
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Skype Adds Premium Rate PSTN Numbers
Skype announced today that they are opening up calling to premium rate PSTN numbers in the United Kingdom.
Because of heavy consumer request, Skype will making premium UK 09/minute priced numbers available to their subscribers worldwide. “The 09 series is particularly popular with the likes of purchasing mobile ringtones and advisory lines such as love, relationships and astrology.”
Skype is only opening access to premium numbers in the UK. Users have the option of blocking access to those numbers, by going to their ‘My Account’ page.
Posted by Helen Varras at 6:10 pm
Sunday, April 01, 2007
A week before Easter
Off the Skype record but a funny story. Being a former paraveterinarian nurse, I have a few animals. Also a cockerel and hen. The hen is the most intelligent of the two and often expanding her garden with that of my neighbours.
She can fly and is known to dwell within 300 metres of her own territory. Her partner is a little shy, more muscles then brains and spends most of his time on his own. These days he is not too sad about it because he loves sitting in the sun just outside my back door. He has loads of other birds around him, my garden is flocked with all sort of bird breeds and very colourful.
The weather is and has been marvellous for many days and my back door to my shed which leads to the kitchen, is always open (I still live in a village where this is possible and of course I do have a large dog).
A few days ago, I heard a strange noise on the stairs to my attic. Like someone was scratching it. I had a look and found the hen sitting half way. As soon as she saw me, she made a lot of noise. I guided her outdoors but after a while, she was back. We played this little game a few times until it was quiet.
But an hour later, I heard her coming downstairs so somehow she managed to go upstairs without making any noise..
Upstairs I found a warm white egg. She never did it again but choose another location: I found two eggs behind the door (she is laying one egg every other day). She is very sneaky as I never saw or heard her doing this.
But it gets even more silly. Two days ago, I found her on top of the cupboard, looking at me if this was the most normal place to be. While I told her that chickens do not belong on top of cupboards, she all of a sudden raised her body, stood on top of her toes, broadened her shoulders and started to make funny sighing noises. I watched her because I thought she was not feeling well. But then there was that “cloinck” that announced a fresh egg.
With a lot of noise, hen flew from the cupboard, out of the door and started foraging in my garden if she had never been indoors.
This turned out to be her favourite place and this morning she laid another egg. But now I was prepared and took a picture of her.
I also know now where to look for eggs until she starts playing Easter Bunny again…
Posted by Helen Varras at 3:00 pm