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Archive for September, 2011

The main computer’s out of action until one of us gets around to taking it to a computer repairer.  Daughter has more time than me so I’m trying to get her to do it as businesses are open the exact times I’m at work.  I don’t want to have to rush at lunch or after work to try and get there because of the time it takes to get into the centre of town from the edge of town where I work.  So, as I said before, that’s left us with the netbook and the laptop.

I played a game on the laptop until I got bored with it, so no games!  I’ve deleted the netbook game console as all the games were trial only and many of them seemed to be for primary school kids.  The game console took up a massive 31 MB and space is always an issue on a netbook. (Just had a popup message to say the McAfee anti-virus trial ends today – what a ripoff!)

Bored with Facebook and still not in the mood to do genealogy, I’ve been spending less time online.  I’ve been scanning slides but as I can’t upload them I don’t want to go on with it until I’ve uploaded a batch and had a look (and photoshopped any).  I haven’t visited deviantart.com since I can’t upload any photos.  I sincerely hope we can get our access back and that we don’t lose everything (things like Sims 2 and Photoshop – other stuff is backed up).

Coincidentally, the warmer weather is coming and the days getting longer, so getting off the computer is a timely thing.

Those two reasons – lack of a decent computer combined with the season – may also be responsible for my creative juices finally stirring.  A colleague had mentioned one day that she’s signed up at a website for writing a 50,000 novel in the month of November.  I thought nothing much of it at the time as I didn’t think I could do such a thing (but was slightly envious).  Then an ex-colleague had done the same thing. Then I got an idea, something I’d mentioned before to daughter and had thought about sometimes, so… I took the plunge and signed up as well based on this one small idea.

I will be busy in November, writing a novel!  The website doesn’t expect a finished and flowing work of art – just 50,000 words.  It could be a jumble of ideas or a very rough draft, they don’t care, as long as it’s not the same word repeated 50,000 times.  It’s an exercise to get you started and there’s nothing to lose.  I’ve felt the urge to create something several times but apathy (and the computer, probably) have prevented me starting anything.

Since signing up I’ve been busy thinking of ideas and making notes and even thinking up dialogues in my head.  I’ve got a month to get some sort of outline in place from point A through several others to the ending.  My ideas so far have got me through a potential third of the book.  I’ll be racking my brains to think up more scenarios.  The story lacks a main event, but who cares.  I’m not aiming to publish this thing, just to write and write and write.

Ironically, the netbook will come in very handy.  I’ve downloaded free software to help with the process – somewhere to store the ideas and scenes and link them up when needed.  Excellent.  I hope this enthusiasm lasts.

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When will I get organised? Each weekend zooms by with me having achieved very little. I’ve told myself to write lists but I don’t even get round to doing that and I stupidly think I’ll remember what needs doing or what I should be doing.

Anyway, the netbook arrived on Friday just before I left for work. Friday evening was spent having a play. I played a few games. While it is wireless, I don’t have a router so can’t go online other than through the modem. (Having looked online at the price of routers, I won’t be going wireless anytime soon.) I enjoyed playing games called Amazonia and Heroes of Hellas which were just one hour demos. They were tile puzzle type games.

Saturday was a beautiful day but I didn’t get round to doing anything outside (apart from washing). Mid-morning I got a call from a friend down from Auckland who was staying at her mum’s in town so I arranged to meet her, needing to go to town for other stuff anyway. I first headed to the Regent theatre to buy tickets to the Russian ballet in November. Daughter was really keen, as she’d never been to a ballet and thought that would be a good one to go to as they will be performing bits from different ballets (the New Zealand ballet is also performing in town soon). From there I headed to friend’s mother’s place and it was good to see her and her oldest daughter with her – who’s looking tall and beautiful. Friend and mother kept talking over each other so it was hard to concentrate on what one person was saying, let alone get a word in myself. I ended up having lunch with them before heading off about 3pm! (They can talk!) On the way home I bought some grocery essentials. In the evening I scanned more slides. I’ve now scanned about five hundred and am not halfway yet. Unfortunately, the computer’s playing up again, so daughter’s boyfriend will come back and try the other thing he was going to do if it continued to play up.

Sunday was very cold and gloomy. I didn’t feel like doing anything. I had three computers: one wasn’t working; one was extraordinarily slow; one wasn’t connected to the internet. I went on the slow computer to go online to check about what I needed for wireless. It took about half an hour before I could do anything. Seemed the virus scanner was installing updates. I deleted the virus scanner. I had a look at the task manager and found that svchost and wuauclt were taking up large chunks of memory. I googled these and the conclusion seemed to be that Microsoft automatic updates were responsible. I turned off automatic updates and it was like the laptop could breathe again. Things were noticeably faster.

I wanted to play the netbook games again but I’d used up the one hour demos on three of them. One of them was a spelling game which was fun BUT I found it difficult to understand the American pronunciation of some words, e.g. “substantive” was stressed on the first syllable and “palette” sounded like “pallid”. Useless. Anyway, I searched for Amazonia and Heroes of Hellas. Tantalizingly, there were offers of cracks and serial numbers to get the demo working again but these turned out to be false hopes (and not free). If you’re going to pay for something may as well be for the actual product. Amazon had these games quite cheap but the download was only available within US. Typical! I find this is the case for so many things that I could legitimately download. Is it any wonder that people look for it on share sites? Anyway, considering how much I wanted to play Heroes of Hellas again I finally ordered a copy from the website which offered the second release, chucking the first one in free. Sounded good to me.

After that, of course, the rest of the day was spent playing the game! I barely ate anything. I can see why serious gamers can spend all day at the computer only getting up to eat carbohydrates (I ate sandwiches). It was so bad that I dreamed about the game.

I’ll act more responsibly next weekend… perhaps.

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Progress!

Well the computer was on the blink for a few days so I’ve been scanning a few slides – 200 so far with many more to go.

The computer’s working again (phew) so I was able to  upload the scans and have a look.  Quite a few will need some work on Photoshop to make them look better.  Funnily enough, the slides from the 60s have good colour whereas the later ones in the 70s have deteriorated quite badly, looking washed out and brownish – rather like the browning of some photos during that time – must’ve been inferior film or development.  Anyway, here’s an ‘unphotoshopped’ sample.

It’s not looking too bad.  I was always a chubby kid.  There’s me bro’ and father with our lovely dog, Patsy.  She died when I was young so I don’t remember a great deal about her.

So very relieved the computer’s working so Photoshop is still available!

While the computer was out of action we used my laptop which is so mind-numbingly slow it makes us want to scream with frustration.  Something must be happening in the background for everything to crawl at snail speed, but I don’t know what, as scans reveal nothing.  The timing on the laptop is broken too so every website you go to has an “expired certificate’, when it doesn’t, of course.  We hate the bloody thing and never want to use it because of its slowness.

I did do one thing on it though.  I ordered an Acer Netbook online.  It was on special for $300 or so and the special ended that night.  I endured about half an hour of frustration trying to load all the pages to ensure the payment went through.  It did, thankfully.  I look forward to my new toy.  I intend using it for genealogy notes (reorganisation of paperwork).  I might even be able to use it at future conferences (when I get to one).  Should be good.  What to do with the old laptop?  Nobody would want it and it actually costs to recycle computers.  I ain’t payin’ nothing!

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Mixed days

I’m enjoying the warmer sunnier weather. Sunday was glorious and spring was definitely in the air. It’s lovely to see blossoms and lambs and Jasmine sprawled on her back in the sun – she’s also loving it.

Poor girl got shut in the neighbour’s garage while we were out that day. She miaowed pitifully when we returned – she must have heard the car and our voices right next door and got quite panicky when the neighbour’s dog barked. I went round to the neighbour who had, herself, just got home and said there was probably a cat in their garage (not knowing if it was Jasmine, but suspecting it might be because she didn’t welcome us home). After a while, a cob-webbed covered Jasmine came to us when we spotted her by the neighbour’s fence and called her home. She was a bit unsettled until she’d had lots of cuddles.

A few months ago, a colleague had mentioned her interest in buying a slide scanner, to convert her many slides to digital copies. I hadn’t known such a thing existed and immediately thought of all my parents slides I had from the early 60s to the 70s. I put the idea on the back burner at the time. More recently, my thoughts had returned to the slides a few times – some subconscious prompt to do something about them perhaps, instead of letting them deteriorate in their little cabinet. I had a look online on Sunday morning to see what was available. It took me quite a while to finally decide to purchase one via Amazon, only to find that they don’t deliver to NZ. The ones on offer on TradeMe were inferior products. Then I saw reference to Jaycar, an electronics store (which has a branch in town). I looked on their website and found a suitable one and decided then and there to go in and buy one. Daughter got up and we headed into town to do a few things. I came back with the slide scanner and mucked about with it, not understanding how it worked. Daughter had a look and immediately saw how to work it. I felt old and useless just then. I thought the CD-ROM that came with the machine would enable me to scan and download onto the computer but I couldn’t find how (or even if) this worked. Daughter was busy elsewhere. However, it did work independently of the computer by inserting a memory card and saving the scans to it. It was late, so I didn’t get round to trying it out.

Yesterday I bought a memory card (instead of having to use my digital camera one) and started scanning. I’ve done about 80 slides so far – quite simple to use and I marvel at how thick I was. The only problem is, I can’t view them on the computer as the computer decided to play up last night and won’t start up. DAMN! Daughter said her computer-nerd boyfriend would take a look but not until Thursday! (He has assignments to do before then.) Bugger! Daughter and I felt very frustrated. It’s quite scary how dependent we are on computers! When we don’t have them we’re at a bit of a loss. She needs it particularly for her photography work so she’s really pissed off. I was hoping I’d backed up my trip photos but the latest batch haven’t been. DAMN! I only hope it’s something fairly harmless like dust accumulation and not hard drive failure…

Just what I need – yet another expensive item to either replace or repair…

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