This is the Hello Hackney drop-in blog

Older women looking at a laptop computer on an ironing-board, and is evidently very pleasedThis is the drop-in blog — a place for your suggestions, brainwaves, photos, recipes — anything you would like to share or show.

The blog posts are all on this page — to see them, scroll down as far as you can. Then, if you see a button labelled ‘OLDER POSTS’, click on it, and you will get some more.

To contribute (and see all the private posts) all you have to do is log in — if you are not sure how to do that, please ask a helper to explain — it’s really very easy. Everybody who wants a login gets one. Just ask Rick or Tom to set you up — it’s a one-minute task.

Suggestions to click on

What’s on today? Recommended blog posts 50 things to do The podcast

BBC – “The woman who spends her nights on a London bus”

A woman who lives in sheltered accommodation spends several nights every week riding on London’s night buses in order to meet people. Carol says nobody speaks to her when she is at home so she goes looking for company on public transport.

This is the link to the BBC video – The woman who spends her nights on a London bus

New day and times – a 2019 upgrade

Friday afternoons in 2019!Drop-in Friday afternoons, 2 to 5 pm

We have switched the drop-in sessions from Wednesday morning to Friday afternoon

Nothing else has changed. We will still be at Whitmore Community Centre, filling both large spaces.

Our January schedule

Friday 4 Jan, 2 to 5 pm
  • Normal drop-in
Friday 11 Jan, 2 to 5 pm
  • Normal drop-in
Friday 18 Jan, 2 to 5 pm
  • Normal drop-in + double volunteer team
Friday 25 Jan, 2 to 5 pm
  • Normal drop-in

What we did – 19 December 2018

Special thanks to volunteers Cliff, Jacqueline, Miriam and Tina from Digital RealtyFCAMJ Mapp and Willis Towers Watson via Benefacto – plus regular volunteers Derek, Gene, Margaret, Michael and Tom.

Recycled software

Another way to avoid exploitation

Don’t pay for over-priced software that you don’t need!

This post is about how you can find a cheaper and more appropriate version of MS Office (which includes MS Word), if you really need it.

Recommended MS Office versions

  • MS Office Home and Student 2007 — possibly the best deal, but not common now. One license allows you to install on three devices.
  • MS Office 2010 Pro — widely used. For example, the current A5 flyers and A3 posters for the drop-in and podcast were edited with MS Word 2010 because that’s what I use to edit complex documents for commercial printing. MS Publisher 2010 is also very useful — and the last version of Publisher that can create documents in the CMYK format that commercial printers require.

More recent versions of MS Word are not superior, just more expensive.

How to buy a retail product key

This is how we got MS Office 2007 or 2010 on the drop-in laptops.

What you need to know about buying MS Office this way …

  • What you actually pay for is a pre-used licence key — a retail product that can be transferred and traded.
  • Always make sure that you are paying for a key, not a recurring subscription.
  • The software itself is a free download from the Microsoft server. The licence key that you pay for enables you to install and use the software legally — and you can move it to a new computer if you upgrade your hardware.
  • When you buy a pre-used licence key, the seller company provides detailed instructions on what to do with it.
  • By the way — if you have bought a Windows computer with MS Office pre-installed, you do not have a retail key. You cannot sell it or move it to a different computer.


There are several UK sellers in this market. I’m not going to recommend any of them because you — as the buyer — must use your own judgement, not mine. I have been satisfied as a customer of Software Geeks (, but they have competitors and it might be foolish to ignore them.

Getting help

Although this procedure is quite straightforward, digital beginners can easily get lost. However, our drop-in volunteers can probably help you — provided you are already comfortable buying online with a credit or debit card.

If you are a Windows user, our volunteers might also point out that …

  • Open-source LibreOffice Writer ( is not only free, it will probably meet all your word-processing requirements.
  • All versions of Windows since 1995 have included a simple word-processor named Wordpad — so if your needs are basic, you already have what you are looking for.

Hackney Fixers

The Venue is:

The Redmond Community Centre, Kayani Avenue, London N4 2HF

Saturday, January 19, 2019  12:00 PM to 3:00 PM

Where you can get Electrical items and other items fixed for FREE.

This is to stop them going to Landfill, as part of Sustainable Hackney.

British Gas no longer read Gas meters

I have been informed by British Gas customer services that they will no longer will send someone round to read the gas meters. Even Vulnerable customers on their “Priority Register”

If the customer wants an accurate bill they must:-

  1. Read the meter every quarter and then ring British Gas to tell them what the meter reading is.


2. Get a Smart meter fitted, which will give British Gas lovely statistics about your daily Gas               use, so they can target their advertising using your personal data.

They introduced this change in August 2018, just after increasing their prices for the 2nd time this year, without telling anyone!

This means you now work for British Gas, until you get a smart meter!

Stephen Adams

PS They also deny EVER having read ALL the gas meters in the UK on quarterly basis!

End-of-2018 party

Celebrate survival — one more year

Friday afternoon, 2 pm, 21 December, at Whitmore Community Centre

What sort of party?

Look at some of the party videos on page Blasts from the Past — they just happened naturally — so that is what we have in mind at the moment. Music delivery by Haggerston DJ Sister Teresa.

Who is invited?

  • You and everybody else — past, present and future droppers-in, podcasters, volunteers, helpers, friends, family 🙂

Is party booze allowed?

  • WCC management say: “Yes – but don’t make a mess, and please take your bottles away with you”.

DWP home visits

The DWP have published a flyer for people who have difficulty accessing their services. Here’s an extract …

DWP Partnerships Team aims to develop efficient and effective public services which support the most vulnerable in our communities.

DWP Visiting provides face-to-face contact, through home visits or appointments at suitable premises, for customers who are vulnerable and unable to access the Department’s services through any other channel, such as telephony, post or online.

We are also here to help vulnerable people who are unable to access our services independently. Our officers will quickly check your entitlements and complete all the necessary paperwork and forms.

And here’s a link to the document, which you can download and read yourself …