Tuesday, 28 January 2014

When The Solution Exacerbates

I first worked with computers back in the 80's, back in the DOS days (no Internet then, folks!), and felt completely at home with them from the very beginning, but i left the business and wound up (for my sins) in the hospitality industry, and didn't buy my first home computer until Windows 95 -- by which point my computer training was 100% out of date.

When i bought my PC, no one at the shop bothered to mention to me the importance of installing anti-virus software, and so i didn't install any. What did i know? Computer virus? Whassat?

So i gleefully started surfing the Internet -- the usual guy stuff, music and porn -- and sho 'nuff, my shiny new computer was infected within a month.  I had to take it back to the shop to have the virus removed, and that's when they told me about anti-virus software, grrr.

Ever since, i have been cautious to the point of paranoia about computer security.

Today, my anti-virus program, Avast, told me i needed to update, so of course i clicked "yes"automatically. But then i realised that the update would also install Google Chrome as my default browser and i neither need or want Chrome (i already have three browsers and don't like Google anything these days) and so tried to hit the "back" button. It didn't work. So i hit "cancel" instead, and that's when the problems began.

My computer went into a seemingly endless series of re-boots.

I eventually solved the problem by booting into Safe Mode and uninstalling Avast and tried to move on to a different AV program: AVG.

It took a long time: i spent most of this morning downloading, scanning, re-booting, uninstalling, having downloads fail, scanning some more, re-downloading and it was worth it -- i now have AVG installed. I've used them before, i forget why i dumped them, possibly because (as i remembered when i ran my first scan a couple of hours ago) an AVG scan slows my system down to a crawl. (System is clean, btw.) But i also remember my friend Troy (who runs OnSite Technology and who knows more about computers than anyone i've ever met) telling me that Avast was the best; i must ask him about this the next time i see him.

I'll be seeing him pretty soon, too -- i need a new computer. This old machine, which works extremely well (most of the time) is still running Windows XP, which is under its death sentence (scheduled to be executed just three months from now) and, for obvious reasons, i'll no longer be able to use it.

Here's the playlist, cos i know you care (sigh):

Van der Graaf Generator - Godbluff
The Sutherland Brothers And Quiver - Lifeboat
Renaissance - Scheherazade And Other Stories
Cozy Powell - The Best Of Cozy Powell
Vangelis - Chariots Of Fire (soundtrack)
The Byrds - Free Flyte
James Taylor - JT
Emerson, Lake & Palmer - The Return Of The Manticore
The Soft Machine - 3rd
Jimi Hendrix - Blues
Genesis - Abacab
Wishbone Ash - New Jersey 1974 (bootleg)
Original Soundtrack - "The Cowboy Way"
Incubus - A Crow Left Of The Murder
Steeleye Span - Wintersmith
Quintessence - In Blissful Company
The Albion Band - Rise Up Like The Sun
Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes
Jimi Hendrix - Live At The Fillmore East
Fish - A Feast Of Consequences

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Year-End Wrap-Up -- Literary Schtuff

Quotation of the day: Cormac McCarthy ~ Query: How does the never to be differ from what never was?

Right, well, the final episode in our year-end wrap-up: books. Here's the list of every book i read in 2013, in chronological order. As i wrote earlier, i keep track.

Dan Gookin – Android Phones For Dummies
Rod Stewart – Rod: The Autobiography
Stieg Larsson – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Played With Fire
Ian Rankin –  Watchman
Ian Rankin – The Flood
Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest
Martin Amis – Lionel Asbo: State Of England
Ian McEwan – Sweet Tooth
Astrid Lindgren – Pippi Longstocking
Julian Barnes – Levels Of Life
Ian Rankin – Let It Bleed
Astrid Lindgren – Pippi Goes On Board
Ian Rankin – Black And Blue
Astrid Lindgren – Pippi In The South Seas
Ian Rankin – The Hanging Garden
Ian Rankin – Dead Souls
Laurie Lee – Cider With Rosie
Ben Elton – Meltdown
Ian Rankin – Set In Darkness
Daniel Quinn – Ishmael: An Adventure Of The Mind and Spirit
Craig Cabell – Ian Rankin And Inspector Rebus
Ian McEwan – The Child In Time
Daniel Quinn – My Ishmael: A Sequel
Daniel Quinn – Providence: The Story Of A Fifty-Year Vision Quest
Erik Larson – In The Garden Of Beasts
Andreea RadÅ­can – The Other Side Of The Medal
Erik Larson – The Devil In The White City
Daniel Quinn – The Holy
David Lodge – Deaf Sentence
Erik Larson – Thunderstruck
Ian Rankin – The Falls
Ian Rankin – Resurrection Men
Ray Davies – Americana: The Kinks, The Riff, The Road: The Story           
Ian Rankin – The Saints Of The Shadow Bible
Martin Cruz Smith – Havana Bay
Martin Cruz Smith - Tatiana

A lot of these i read for the second or third time -- in particular Ian Rankin's Rebus novels, which, now that i've finally read them all, i'm going through again, in the order he wrote them (and it's fascinating to see how he develops as a writer). Apart from his new novella, "The Lie Factory," which i've listened to on CD (as read by actor Aidan Quinn) but which, in analogue form, is somewhere in my "to-read" pile.

My greatest discovery of the year in non-fiction was Erik Larson. His "In The Garden Of Beasts" gets the nod as best of the year (although "The Devil In The White City" came pretty close!). Larson's forte is linking historical events in hitherto unthought-of ways. "In The Garden Of Beasts" is the story of the American ambassador to Berlin in the 1930s. All around him, he sees signs that Germany is gearing up for war and evidence of Nazi brutality, and sends increasingly-frantic signals back to Washington, but is by and large ignored. Meanwhile, his daughter is having an affair with a high-ranking Nazi officer....


Rod Stewart's autobiography could have been a contender. It started well, lots of laugh-out-loud moments as he wrote about his early days, but then, much like his musical relevance it disintegrated half way through as his drug consumption, his materialistic leanings and his philandering overtook him. Loved the first half, though.

In fiction, it has to be Stieg Larsson, and "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo." A friend recommended the film version way back in 2012 and i became a devoted -- nay, obsessed -- fan of both Larsson and his amazing creation Lisbeth Salander (which i've written about here many times).


And that's it, folks, the end of the year-end wrap ups -- unless you're interested in my favourite pubs (Kelsey's wins again), my favourite pizza (Domino's for the nth year running), my favourite sub (Quiznos, of course!).

Here's the recent playlist (just a short one again):

The Electric Light Orchestra - Out Of The Blue
Bonnie Raitt - Silver Lining
Saga - Images At Twilight
Radiohead - Kid A
Peter Hammill - Sitting Targets

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Radio, 2013 = K-SHE 95

Quotation Of The Day ~ Margaret Atwood: I particularly like Twitter, because it's short and can be very funny and informative. It's a litle bit like having your own radio program.

My year-end wrap-up wouldn't be the same if i didn't mention the three radio stations that i listened to the most in 2013.

I can't live without the radio in the mornings, and as i've written previously (ad nauseam, probbly), last December the station i had listened to loyally for a couple of years, nosedived and became just another crap station -- all of my favourite deejays either left or were let go and the music, which had once been brilliant, became just the same old schtuff one hears everywhere else but worse.

Mostly, i listened (online, of course!) to K-SHE from St Louis -- a friend who lives in St Clair Missouri (40 miles west of St Louis) told me about it in December and i was hooked the moment they played a Rory Gallagher song! And one of their deejays and i are now friends on Facebook -- we natter about music almost daily. And in fact i've developed a fascination with the city of St Louis, as i've written elsewhere, thanks to K-SHE.

The station i listened to the second most often in 2014 was K-Rock from Kingston, Ontario. Well, it's an excellent rock music station, but the reason i started listening to it is that my old chum Wendy Boomer is co-host of the morning show and she's great.

The other station i stream occasionally is Boom. They play 70's / 80's / 90's and a lot of schtuff i love but also a lot of more technodisco nonsense that i could quite happily live without. The selling point here is that another old pal, Vanessa Murphy, works there part-time. Usually the morning show on the weekends. She's terrific, but it would be unusual for me to listen to the station if she wasn't on-air.

Oh, there are other stations i listen to once in a while, New Zealand's Hauraki for instance, but these are the ones that do it for me more than any others.

Here's the latest from the CD collection:

and a (very) brief playlist (i've been busy, what can i tell ya?):

Jethro Tull - A Passion Play
Fairport Convention - Liege & Lief
John Tams - Unity
Joe Satriani - Unstoppable Momentum
Genesis - Selling England By The Pound