Josterberry Jam

I’m posting this here as the site I tried to post it on decided not to accept the input after I spent ages typing it.  The post was in response to someone asking how to make jam from Josterberry.


Jam? I make josterberry into jam just like black-currant. Lots of acidity in the fruit so no need to add pectins.

1lb berries
1/2 pint water
1 to 1 1/4 lb sugar

Jam pan or biggest saucepan you can find.
Wooden spoon
Jars, with clean original or fitting lids if you can find them.
Jam funnel if you have it.
A sideplate or saucer.
Wax discs to fit your jars.


Berries – ideally take off the stalks and flower residue but I find if you simmer the fruit long enough they soften sufficiently that it doesn’t matter. TO your taste, its you that has to do it!

See how sharp they are. For blackcurrants, I’d use the full 1.25lbs sugar. For under-ripe gooseberries the same. For ripe gooseberries, only 1lb of sugar. Your tastebuds will tell you which end of the blackcurrant <-> ripe gooseberry scale your fruits are on. This would probably encourage me to make a small batch rather than scaling the above figures up! (Which is, otherwise, easy enough to do – i can fit about 4lbs of fruit in my jam pan!)


The above quantities are going to make about 2 to 2.5 lbs of jam. Get enough jars ready, cleaned out, then put them in the sink and pour BOILING water in from the kettle. leave then to stand. If you have the original lids, treat them the same. Whilst you’re sterilising, do the funnel and ladle.


Put the fruit and water in a big pan. Simmer *slowly* – I mean heat it until it *just* starts to boil then back it off a notch so you have bubbles JUST rising but not boiling hard. Let it simmer until the fruit is all soft. They’ll burst – if you like jam with big chunks of fruit in, then these are not the fruit! 🙂

Once the fruit is all softened, pour in the sugar. Still on a low heat, mix it well to make sure the sugar is all wet, surprising now long a “Pocket” of dry sugar can hold out against the juice… and then until it’s all dissolved, which you can test by putting your big wooden spoon in and seeing if you can hear any sugar grating against the bottom.

Once the sugar is dissolved, crank up the heat until you have a good rolling boil. WATCH it as big bubbles can form in the sugary juice which can lead to overflow! Just blow across the top of the pan if it threatens to boil over.

If you have a thermometer that;’s accurate between 100 and 110 c fine, but I find it very hard to get a consistent reading. You’re actually aiming for 104 degrees. As the excess water boils off the temperature will gradually rise. The “traditional” test is still easier I find. After a few minutes (and this process typically only takes five to ten minutes) dip a spoon in the mix, allow almost all the jam to drip back off into the pan, then catch the last couple of drips as a small “dot” on the cold saucer or plate. Set the plate on an angle so the drip doesn’t run. Give it 30 seconds, then hold the plate so you can see light shining off the surface of the drop, and push at the side of the drop with your thumbnail. If it remains a liquid, it’s not done yet. When you can see a ‘skin’ start to form, which will wrinkle up when you push at it, you’ve reached the point when the jam should set. Don’t go too far! If you boil it too long, you get less jam, the flavours start to disappear, and you CAN go past the point where it will set to the point where you’ve made compote instead of jam! 🙂

Once you reach a setting point, take the pan off the heat, and allow it to sit for five to ten minutes. Whilst it’s sitting, tip the sterilising water out of the jars, allow them to drain dry (don’t use a tea-towel unless its fresh and clean, you’ll be introducing unsterileness!) and set them with the funnel near the pan.

Allowing the jam to sit before you jar up stops the remaining solids from floating at the top of the jelly when it sets. Give the pan a quick stir when you start to jar up.

Ladle the jam into the jar, stopping when the jam is just above the “shoulder”.

EITHER put the wax discs on the surface of the jam at once, or wait for it to completely cool. It will take some hours to completely cool, so just let it stand. Don’t panic that it may not have set, it’s still warm! Overnight is best.

Once it’s completely cool, add the discs if you didn’t already, and then screw on the tops as firmly as you can. Label up, store. You’ll probably have a part-filled jar, so that’s your breakfast toast sorted!! 🙂

NOTE that the basic recipe varies a little depending on the fruit, in particular on the acidity. If you make jam from strawberries, apricots, etc., you need to add pectins, which is most easily done by getting a bottle of “Certo” – supermarkets tend to stock this next to the sugar. But blackcurrants don’t need it.

I hardly ever buy jam or marmalade. It’s so easy to make, the flavours are so much better when you make your own, and I love the row of colourful jars on the shelf! Here’s a pick from a summer or two back – blackcurrant on the left, strawberry and tayberry on the right, redcurrant at the back

New “Desktop Client” for Synology Surveillance Station

IF you use the Surveillance Station application on your Synology NAS to monitor one or more CCTV cameras, you may have been (or soon will have!) problems with the “live view” and “Timeline” tools ability to show you the actual footage from the cameras! All the other controls work, you can check the logs, change settings, but you can’t SEE the images.

A few months ago Chrome stopped supporting one of the important elements of the Surveillance Plugin. This week, Firefox on my machine updated itself and now the addin won’t load. Annoyingly, it doesn’t’ SAY it won’t load, and it doesn’t SAY what to do about it, it just tells me to download and install it but, it already is!

The only browser I have now that supports the system is Internet Explorer, something I hardly ever use!

It turns out, and for the life of me I don’t know why Synology didn’t arrange for the web control panel app to inform me of this, that there is a new stand-alone (i.e. doesn’t run in a browser at ALL) app called “Desktop Client”. it looks and works exactly like the web-control-panel did when it worked, but it’s installed as an application in its own right.  It had the added advantage that you can just log in to the app, you dont’ have to launch DSM first, wait for it to load all the windows you don’t want and close them again and THEN launch the SS control panel.

You can download it here

You can also of course still use DS-CAM on Android and IOS devices to monitor camera feeds.



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Fixing your AMG-1302-T10B if it’s been hacked

December 2016 – an internet attack has found vulnerabilities in certain router models, including the very popular Zyxel AMG-1302.

The symptoms of this attack are

  • Your router appears to be connected to the internet (green DSL light, lots of activity) but you can’t access anything
  • You can’t log in to your router’s control panel

TO fix it you need to obtain the latest firmware for the router, see the link below. Clearly you can’t use your router to get it. Sadly I can’t help you with this step. Pop round to a mate with a memory stick…


Now here are the steps to follow. Don’t skip any – if you try to upgrade to v.15 firmware from v.08 you will lock your router and need to buy a new one!


  • Unplug from the DSL line and reboot. This should give you access to the config menu.
  • Upgrade it to the latest firmware – ONE STEP AT A TIME, e.g. if you are on v.02 as most will be, go first to v.08, then to v.12, then v.14, and finally v.15
  • NOTE that from v.12 on you MUST change the password from the factory-default of 1234. Don’t forget what you changed it to.
  • NOTE also that for some reason one or more of the upgrades seems to upset the browser and it doesn’t subsequently let you log in – switch browsers.
  • THEN when you’re safely on V.15, you must do a Factory Reset of the settings. This will obviously require you to re-enter your ADSL login information.
  • NOW you can plug the DSL cable back in and you should be off and running.


The firmware files for the AMG1302-T10B (not to be used for any other router!) are here



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New scam alert

The bad guys are always trying to come up with ways to get you to let them have a go on your computer. Of course, whatever the scheme, the reason they want in is to capture your personal data with a view to emptying your bank.

The new gig is to call up pretending to be from BT and saying you’re about to get cut off the internet as your router is doing something it shouldn’t.

Even if you tell them you don’t get your internet from BT, they assure you that BT still run the underlying network.

If you get a call like this, don’t do anything that would give them access, don’t do anything on your computer. Hang up. IF you really think it might be real, take a phone number and details of the supposed problems, then call your ISP and ask them about it.


Never let anyone fast-talk you into accessing your computer, or giving out your passwords, pins, or other personal information.

Zyxel VMG-1312 VDSL router

This is just a brief introduction to configuring the Zyxel VMG-1313 VDSL router for use on UK (BT) FTTC (Infinity) connections.

Log in to the router as any other – default IP address is, username “admin” password “1234”. Wait for it to finish building it’s “network diagram” status page, then click on the “Network” icon at the bottom and select “Broadband”. You should see the following screen.

Configuring the VMG-1312 for internet connection

Configuring the VMG-1312 for internet connection

Click on the icon indicated with the red arrow to Edit the VDSL wan connection.

Nearly all the settings on the WAN config page are correct, you need to put in your DSL username and password, which we should have given you by the time you get the router, so if you don’t know them please call 01494 837515, and select the VLAN.

Configuring the VMG-1312 for - the DSL username.

Configuring the VMG-1312 for – the DSL username.

In the top part of the page, confirm that the i/f is “Active” (Tick box at the top) and put your DSL credentials in under “PPP Information”. In the next section it should already be set to “Obtain an IP address automatically”. We always give you a fixed IP address but the router will obtain this when it logs in. If you manually input the IP address here there can be connection problems.

AMG-1312 config for - these should all be correct!

AMG-1312 config for – these should all be correct!

In the second section, all the defaults should be correct and ready go to. Note the DNS servers will be picked up automatically when you log in.

VMG-1312 config for - setting the VLAN

VMG-1312 config for – setting the VLAN

Finally at the bottom of the page you will find a section entitled VLAN. You need to turn on the tick box “Active”, and put the digits “101” in the box for “802.1q”.


Once you have filled in the DSL username and the VLAN information, click “Apply”. The router is now ready to connect as soon as the VLDS/FTTC circuit is live.

Configuration of other features on this router are the same as other Zyxel routers.  The factory default WiFi settings are printed on a label under the router, which you can use to configure your WiFi clients without making any changes to the router, or you can change the SSDI and Passphrase to something you prefer.

If you need any help with the following or other configuration changes, give us a call!

  • NAT
  • Firewall
  • Port Mapping
  • WiFi security

Fame at last

Thanks to Nigel Whitfield for the “mench” in his latest piece on getting good internet service.



A tale of two engineers.

Ten days ago a customer who is about to move offices in London phoned to say he’s signed up all the paperwork for the new office and can we get a line in asap so he has phones and broadband from the first of next month.

I’m already aware the building has lots of spare capacity from BT so I submit an order. Annoyingly, it goes wrong, screw-up in BT’s database, but we submit for manual tweakage and in due course an engineer is appointed to visit site and put in a new line.
I inform the client as he’ll have to be there from 8am to let the BT guy in and show him where it’s going, etc.

The BT engineer duly arrives, introduces himself as Fred and says he’s worked on the same exchange for 20 years and he knows every cable and connection intimately. Indeed, he knows, which is handy as we didn’t, that the DP he would need to connect the new line from is actually in the gents’ toilet of the cafe in the adjacent building!  Off he beetles, sets up what he  needs to at the exchange, the street cabinet, the DP in the gents, and tests the new line socket in the comms room and it’s good as gold. He departs leaving our customer with his mobile number “lest there’s any problem”. Probably felt very safe doing so as he’d done a tip top job and there would be no problems.

The next day, an engineer arrives to install a new line at another customer site 30 miles to the west. It isn’t Fred. It’s Joe. I wish it had been Fred.  Joe is seen driving his van past the office at 17:55 whilst on the phone to the customer saying “there’s no lights on, looks like you’ve all gone home…” but they got him back. He arrived at 17:58,a member of staff having stayed late to admit him as we had a firm appt for that afternoon. He was told by same where the new socket was to go. He declined. Said he wasn’t there to install new sockets. Said he’d re-connected one of the existing disused sockets. Tested it to show it was working. Despite the fact these sockets are in a quite unsuitable location for the required service, said he wasn’t doing a new socket (he would have HAD to had there BEEN no spare sockets). He then plugged all the customer’s existing broadband and phone equipment into the new socket (thus ensuring that the customer’s broadband didn’t work the next morning!) and left.

Fred gets our man of the month award.

Joe gets a raspberry. And as the customer doesn’t actually have the service he wanted and has paid for, we will be on the blower to BT and Joe will presumably be hearing from his boss.

And if Fred’s reading this – thanks mate – a job well done, not really harder to do properly than to skimp, just a positive and friendly attitude and pride in the work. We won’t mention it to your boss coz knowing BT, he’d probably tell you off for giving a customer your mobile number instead of saying “well done, that’s how to make the customer happy”!

Track this!

A friend of mine chose to register a company called “Railtrack Limited”, at a time when the company that runs the uk national rail infrastructure changed its name from “Railtrack PLC” to “Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd”.


Since then he has received many letters from people assuming he is actually that larger company. Many of these letters from legal firms seeking to sue said larger company for one reason or another, having failed to do their research correctly.

Many of these letters and the answers penned to them have been visible (with the names of unfortunate bystanders removed) on CIX for some time. Now, John has published a selection as a Kindle book.

It’s one of those books you probably don’t want to read cover to cover but it’s well worth having it on your Kindle, phone or tablet to dip into whilst you’re waiting for a bus…


HTC Car mode

I love the “Car” app that comes with my HTC-One. It replaces the phone’s usual Home screen of up to sixteen buttons, with a bigger eight-button layout that’s far easier to stab at when you’re driving. Easier? Frankly the standard home screen is so fiddly there’s no way you should be trying to handle it whilst driving.  The Car app then populates this home screen with four preset apps, and a simple swipe takes you to similarly sensibly laid out screens, so you can Phone Home with a swipe and a prod…. Clarkson could no doubt do it whilst powersliding…

To top this off I just found this article

HTC One home screen in "Car" app, showing changed lower-right icon

HTC One home screen in “Car” app, showing changed lower-right icon

on the interweb which has allowed me to tweak the only icon on the home screen which is tweakable. It is of no use to me to have SoundHound there. But Audible (Amazon’s taking book service), now we’re talking!!

(And thanks to the ease with which an Android phone can take its own picture, you can see the result!!)

To add to the fun, I have an iBolt dock in the car. This takes me back to the good old days when you can just drop a phone into the dock, not have to find the cable and insert the fiddly USB connector. The phone just drops in, makes contact with the power connector to charge, the phone also knows it’s in the dock and swithes to “car” mode automatically! Then as soon as it finishes linking to my Parrot bluetooth system it optionally resumes playing whatever music I was last listening to through the main radio.

With this added automation we’ve been listening to The Devil’s Star  as we drive across rainy, chilly France. Where are you, Spring?


Checking your BT line

We often need to ask people to check if a fault on their phone line, affecting either broadband or voice calls, is with the line itself or their internal extension wiring.

The distinction is important because BT own the wiring between your master socket and the exchange, and will turn out, test, and repair it free of any charge. BUT the wiring from the master socket, where the line first enters your house or office, to any extension sockets or other connected equipment, AND the equipment itself, be it phones, modems, fax machines, Sky tv box, etc. is yours. If BT turn out to look at a fault and they find the fault is with your device or with your cable (a) they will send you a bill and (b) they won’t fix it!

The test is simple enough and will take only a couple of minutes. All you need is a screwdriver.

You need to find the “master” socket. It may be your only socket. If you have more than one, look for the bigger one with a split across the faceplate.

When you unscrew the two screws, the bottom half of the faceplate comes easily away but careful, there may be wires connected to the back of it, which you should take care not to tug loose!  The picture here (borrowed from Wikipedia1) shows the faceplate removed with the cables to the back still attached. You can safely leave the faceplate dangling on the cable. Your internal extension wiring is now disconnected from the BT line. You can also see the “hidden” test socket bottom right, now revealed.

If you are testing a broadband problem, plug your microfilter into the test socket.

If you are testing a voice call problem, plug a known working phone in to the test socket.

If the problem continues, then it’s a problem with the BT line and we can safely call them out without fear of unexpected charges! But if the problem goes away, then the problem is with the extension wiring you just disconnected, or one of the devices connected to it. Call us, we’ll talk you through further tests to narrow down the culprit.

To reconnect your extension wiring, just offer the faceplate back to the remainder of the socket, slide it carefully in, making sure the cable isn’t trapped, and then put the two screws back.

1 – the photo in this post was borrowed from Wikipedia, where the copyright owner has stated that that is permissable – for the original photo including licence and a link to the photographer, please follow this link.