IBM 3.5 inch Floppy Disk Solar Powered Calculator

I was sorting through some old floppy disks this afternoon and came accross an original IBM 3.5″ Solar Powered Floppy Disk. I think I was given this at some IBM event back in the 1990’s.  It’s really great and still works! It’s identical to a standard 3.5″ disk in size and colour.



The flap opens to reveal the small LCD display and the solar panel.



Things brings back some happy memories of the days before networks and wifi were well established in small offices and people would walk around with one of these 3.5″ disks in their shirt pockets to transfer files around.  I think this was a great piece of marketing and certainly made people talk back in the day.

I’d love to hear if you received anything similar from IBM or others back in the 80’s, 90’s etc.


Keeping your kids safe online : Februray 9th is Safer Internet Day.

Safer Internet Day  9th February 2016

Safer Internet Day: 9th February 2016

What is Safer Internet Day?

Safer internet day, now in its sixth year, is coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre. The day sees hundreds of organisations involved in promoting safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

I’m often asked how you can protect children online. It is difficult, no matter how tech savvy you are be honest your children have grown-up with the technology all around them and they will be a step ahead of you.  Below we’ve got the top official tips from the Department for Education. I’m pleased to see that they’ve got talking to your children about the dangers at number one, well ahead of any technical solutions.

My quick checklist for keeping your kids safe online is:

  1. Talk to them and explain the dangers and wonders of the Internet.
  2. Set-up all the protection you can, for example activate your ISP’s adult content filter. I’m sure these days the means of bypassing these filters will be common playground knowledge but it’s better than nothing.
  3. You are the parent and it’s your responsibility to look at their internet history and try and keep them safe – you are not being nosy or intruding, it’s your responsibility.  Of course Internet browser history is easily cleared and many browsers have options for switching it off completely.
  4. Make sure that your children don’t have Admin Rights on  the computers they use.  This will mean that they can’t install unauthorised software without you entering the Admin password.
  5. Most broadband routers have an option to disable WiFi at certain times, turn it off at bedtime.
  6. Don’t allow computers, mobiles, tablets etc in the bedrooms.  Set computers up in a family room where you can keep an eye on what’s happening.
  7. Windows 10 has a useful feature where it can email you a summary of your child’s activity each week. Sadly Apple haven’t done this yet on the Mac!
  8. If you have the technical skills set-up an Internet traffic monitor on your broadband connection. This will log all the sites that are visited and which devices are in your house are doing it. It takes a bit of skill and some kit to do this but it’s well worth while. (It’s a great way to spot if there’s any malware in your house calling back to a controller as well!).
  9. I would encourage Children not to post anything online that will hang around and embarrass them in years to come, with new friends, work colleagues etc.

Tips for parents on internet safety from The Department for Education and UK Safer Internet Centre

  • Have an open and honest dialogue with children about staying safe online
  • Encourage them to tell you which sites they might be using and talk to about anything they see online
  • Set boundaries and make an agreement on what they can and cannot do online. If the agreement is broken, restrict internet access for an agreed period of time
  • Read up on information available through schools and official sites, such as ParentInfo, to make sure you are aware of issues and armed with information
  • Arm your children with advice:
  1. Be careful what you say online. Respect others and do not retaliate or reply to offending e-mails, text messages or online conversations – leave the conversation
  2. Be careful what pictures or videos you upload. Once a picture is shared online it cannot be taken back
  3. Only add people you know and trust to friends/followers lists online

What is government doing about internet safety?

In 2014 the government made internet safety a compulsory part of the curriculum. Schools are also able to teach e-safety during PSHE lessons and every school is required by law to have measures in place to prevent all forms of bullying including cyber-bullying.

In December last year the government also announced strengthened measures to protect children from harm online – including cyberbullying, pornography and the risk of radicalisation. Under the proposals all schools will:

  • Need to have appropriate filters and monitoring systems, so that no child can access harmful content via the school’s IT systems and concerns can be spotted quickly;
  • Be required to ensure that they teach their pupils about safeguarding, including online.


The government also announced a further package of measures including:

  • Two practical guides on social media – including one to help parents keep their children safe online produced by the UK’s Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCISS)  – to help children understand the risks and benefits of social media, and prevent risks becoming problems.
  • New online training, launched in the new year, will offer support for professionals, including nurses, doctors and teachers who work with children and young people.
  • An updated Thinkuknow site offers a completely refreshed suite of articles and guidance on all aspects of child internet safety, as well as providing specific advice for parents and carers on preventing their children from becoming victims of sexual abuse and exploitation both online and in the ‘real world; and
  • New industry-led awareness raising initiatives including Google’s ‘Internet Legends’tour which will travel around the country delivering assemblies to school children in 40 locations during this school year, to help kids stay safe online, so they can get the most out of all that the internet can offer.


In addition ParentInfo, a new government funded online service, offers free expert advice to schools on how children and young people can stay safe online. This information, packed as a Tool Kit, can be hosted on individual schools websites making it easily accessible to parents and carers who can then discuss these important issues at home. It’s already available in 2,500 schools giving parents practical advice and tips on issues such as sexting, and online bullying.

We have given schools powers to help them contain cyber-bullying during the school day by banning or limiting the use of mobiles and other electronic devices. Teachers also have the power to search for, and if necessary delete, inappropriate images (or files) on electronic devices, including mobile phones.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said:

 “As a parent I understand the real importance of internet safety in protecting our children. The internet is a powerful tool which can have brilliant and virtually limitless benefits, but with this does come some risk.”

“We are working hard to address these online risks but we can’t do it alone, parents are vitally important in making sure that children stay safe online. We want to make sure young people are educated, and parents as well as teachers, are knowledgeable and actively involved in promoting internet safety so that children are able to safely enjoy all that new technologies have to offer”



If you have any questions or advice please leave a comment below. I’ll try and research any questions and get back to you probably in the form of a follow-up blog.

Whatever happened to WordStar?

WordStar Word Processor











Going through some old box files this afternoon I’ve just found my copy of the WordStar Reference Card from the 1980’s.  I’ve scanned it as a keepsake now and you can find the PDF below.  It’s amazing how many of these command key combinations can still be found today in various editors especially those on Unix style platforms.  Many of these are fixed in my memory from nearly 30 years ago, but then WordStar was the first real word processor I used, followed very briefly by WordCraft.   I then moved onto Word Perfect 5.1 on MS/Dos and then Word on Windows.  These days I still use Word for compatibility with clients but for personal work I’m more than happy with Apple Pages.

WordStar Command Reference Sheet

What are your memories of the early days of Word Processing?