Saturday, 20 March 2010

Happy Birthday, Your Computer's Dead

March 13th: Today is my birthday. This morning, when I tried to boot the computer, nothing. Windows wouldn’t load. Of course I had plans for the morning, but that rather stuffed them up. I spent about three hours troubleshooting the problem, then went into town, to the Public Library, and spent an hour on one of their computers – responding to some (not all) of the greetings on Facebook, looking at my e-mail, the rest of the time Googling my problem. And it looks like a hardware, rather than a software problem. A catastrophic hard disc failure. So, until I can afford a new computer – or, more likely, a second hand (or “pre-owned”) one, I’m having to write this on my old Windows 98 laptop … which doesn’t have a working modem.

What a fuck**g pest! We truly don’t realise how dependent we have become on our computers until we lose them, as Joni Mitchell almost sang, once.

I mean, I do everything online: listen to the radio, check the news and weather, pay my bills, find out what day it is, even….

Anyway, after the library I went to Kelsey’s (my favourite pub) for lunch: a plate of their “suicide” nachos and a couple of pints of the foaming ale. I don’t call them “suicide” nachos because they’re particularly hot, but because the serving is so huge … but I made it through and didn’t turn into Monty Python’s Mr Creosote LOL

Right, well, guess I’ll play some Free Cell on the laptop.

Later: this is very sad. I’m trying to remember how I amused myself before I became seriously addicted to computers, back in the days of Windows 95. Well, I played the guitar and the mandolin a lot – but my guitar and mandolin now have many broken strings, I haven’t picked them up in a long time. I used to read about a book a week (I now read maybe one a month). My apartment was a lot tidier then, too. Maybe I’ll go and clean the toilet bowl or somefing….

Later still: I just discovered, or remembered, that I have Pac-Man installed on the laptop. Played Pac-Man for the first time in probably ten years. Man, I suck at it! (I used to be pretty good….)

March 14th: No Internet, Day Two

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first casualty: radio.

Normally, I listen, online, to 94.9 The Rock out of Oshawa, Ontario, a fabulous radio station ( Where I live, in a bit of a hollow, I can only receive one terrestrial radio station, Kool-FM out of Kitchener-Waterloo. It’s … ok in small doses but I listened for three hours this morning and they played the same song by Bryan Adams twice, and Bon Jovi three times (each time a different song, admittedly). I can handle Bon Jovi, but I don’t like Mr Adams’ music particularly (I did like “Summer Of ’69,” but that’s not what they played), so it’s radio off.

Later: I thought I had my computer working again. A while back I sent off for a (free) Ubuntu Linux installation CD, intending to install Linux on this laptop, but I discovered that it (the laptop) didn’t have enough hard drive space (I told you it was an old one!), and I didn’t do anything with the disc. Until just now. I thought I might be able to boot into Windows using it or, failing that, install it and have an operating system again. But the first idea failed miserably, so I tried to install it and … it seemed to be working but the install failed at 51%. I was online, a GUI appeared, but my cursor was dead. I was able to use one or two keyboard shortcuts, and managed to search Google for Facebook, but then couldn’t navigate to any links…. I thought maybe a soft re-boot, but then got this message: “Boot Failure: System Halted.” I’ll try a hard boot next but I’m not optimistic. I’ll do last night’s supper dishes first.

Later still: nope. A hard boot resulted in the same error message and I have to face it – my $1000 PC is now a paperweight. Fortunately – as I’m more than just another pretty face – I had almost all of the important stuff backed up.

March 15th: No Internet, Day Three

I’m not feeling quite as disconnected from the world – or from cyberspace would perhaps be better – as I have been. For one thing I spent a lot of the day in “meatspace” – i.e. at work, it kept my mind off it, and then went into town after that gruelling experience and (a) went to Blackcreek Technologies to look at their selection of second-hand computers and (b) went to the Library and spent maybe three-quarters of an hour on one of their PCs, checking e-mail and discovering what the “Fn” key on a laptop does ROFL.

And the good news is … I found a very nice (and affordable) PC, and hope to have it by Friday. Yay! I need to be back online.

I am a man of action. Well, OK, you might be surprised to learn that, as most of my spare time is spent in a lethargic state with my butt parked in front of the computer – or at the bar at Kelsey’s. But when there’s any kind of problem with anything that’s really important to me (cat, computer, music, Jen from Kelsey’s) (well, I had to add Jen, she reads this blog) (yes, amazingly, someone other than me reads it!), then I jump in head first and solve the problem. Damn the torpedoes!

March 16th: Day Four

For better or worse, I am a man of routines, and many of those routines involve online activities. Now I’m all at sea, and that sense of confusion – what do I do now? – is probably the most difficult part of this. Well, that, and some of the music that Kool-FM plays. I mean, Avril Lavigne? Oh, save me! (I do like some of what they play, of course.)

Anyway, I went to Kelsey’s after the day’s slog at the beanery, had a couple of pints and told them that, if they don’t see me again for a couple of weeks, they’re not to worry. I may have spent all of my money on a new PC, and even if I haven’t spent all of it, I’m expecting it will take a while to configure the thing.

So what do I do now? Play Solitaire on the laptop? Read a book? Play with Cate? Make dinner? Play a CD-R? Oh, well, there’s another problem … I have well over 800 CD-Rs full of music, all numbered and catalogued, but guess where the catalogue is – well, it was on my hard drive, fortunately it was also something I backed up assiduously to a thumb drive. What a shame that my laptop is so old that it can’t read from my thumb drives. I don’t know where anything is!

St Patrick’s Day, Day Five

Well, St Patrick’s Day doesn’t mean anything to me, not even sure why I mention it. To anyone who is not Oirish and uses it as an excuse to drink green beer (vomit) good luck.

One of the things about Kool-FM I heartily approve of, is that they play Chantal Kreviazuk (which 94.9 The Rock doesn’t), and our regular reader will know that I’m a big fan of Ms K. Sure it’s AOR. Call it a guilty pleasure. I like ABBA too. But, really, I can’t wait to get back to 94.9

“I can’t wait” is really a pretty stupid expression though, isn’t it. I can’t? But I am going to have to. Until Friday. And then such an expense at such short notice will require some of what, in the accountancy trade, is called “juggling.” But on Friday I shall be back online.

March 18th, Day Six

One more day to go, and I have booked the afternoon off tomorrow, to make the trek into town….

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Spriggsblog Goes To The Movies

Quotation: Dr Who: "Courage isn't just a matter of not being afraid. It's being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway."

And this is what Cate and i have watched in the past few evenings, and we thoroughly enjoyed all of them. I mean, really, we're all over the map here: fantasy, action, gritty and soppy.

Oh, well, that's us.

I Have A Problem With "Issues"

Quotation of the day: The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits (Anon.)

When was the word "problem" replaced by, or become euphemised as, "issue?" It's not a problem, it's an issue. Houston, we have an issue... Well, i hate it. I think it's one of those trendy management buzzwords designed to sanitize everything and make sure no one gets upset. We're up to our ankles in water at work, but we don't have a plumbing problem, we have an issue.

Well, i don't have an issue, i have a bloody problem: my socks are soaking wet.

Oh, and guess who, at my work, has just embraced the word? Stinky the egregious, appalling salad girl -- i'd never heard her use it until yesterday, but she used it about four times. I'm a great believer in enlarging one's vocabulary; trust her to screw it up.