Monday, 22 December 2014

computer system upgrades

and why they are a pain.

Here at Grumpy Towers we have two computers, both desk top jobbies. The one I use is a powerful 64 bit system using an Intel i7 processor and 16GB of RAM. You need that sort of thing if you are going to run Photoshop and want to process a large file before the Sun grows cold.

Mrs Grump uses my old computer which for a time was relegated to a cupboard and brought out of retirement so she would be able to spend hours trawling through old family records in the hunt for her elusive ancestors without keeping me from my (much more important) research.

For reasons which you will understand if you read my earlier posts, both of these machines have the Linux Ububtu operating system running on them. Mine runs a dual boot system. I still need Windows to run Photoshop, also the 64 bit version of Ubuntu is terribly buggy and is mostly more pain that it's worth.

The 32 bit version seems to run without problems for Mrs Grump and that is all she needs for her computing requirements. I do the occasional software upgrade and the last time I did this I was presented with the opportunity to upgrade the operating system to version 14.01. Advised that it could take several hours to install, I set it to run overnight, thinking it would be up and running when I got up in the morning. 

No such luck, I'm afraid. It seems that around half way through the installation, it stopped to ask me if I wanted to do something with the way it was connected to the internet. Why do these people think that I am going to do nothing but stare at a computer monitor for hours on the off chance it would need to ask me something? Instead of a complete installation, it still was only about half way there.

Worse was to come.

Having finally got it going again, about a few minutes later the whole thing hung at the point when it decided to install Dropbox. It just sat there doing nothing, so what do I do? The answer was nothing, I left it for ages but it became clear that it had decided to call it a day leaving me with a half installed operating system. Googling Ububtu and Dropbox I soon discovered that I wasn't the only one with the problem. It seems that the new upgrade was distributed with a nasty bug that stopped everything at this point in the process. Okay, it was easy to fix with a workaround but I shouldn't have to do that. How hard can it be to test these upgrades before releasing them?

I suppose I shouldn't grumble too much, after all, I'm getting an operating system for free and it's not like Microsoft is exactly trouble free but I am the Grump after all. 

So when are they going to fix all those bugs in the 64 bit system?

weeds are flowers too,

once you get to know them

The first book I ever remember reading was A.A Milne's classic, "Winnie the Pooh". I was about seven or eight at the time and I still have this flashbulb memory of being in the classroom at Gallion's Mount School, Plumstead, sitting at my desk near the door and in front of a small bookcase containing the class library. I must have read other things before this but have no memory of them.

I can remember being completely lost in the magical world of Pooh with his unique, totally idiosyncratic view of the world and the way it worked. Something which has influenced my way of thinking ever since.

It has certainly influenced my choice of reading subjects and I have never really found works of fiction based on any reality I am familiar with to be of much interest.

Which nicely leads me on to my next piece.

the outer limits

It came as a huge shock when I first
discovered that there were 11 year old
schoolboys who would not want to read
a book called "The Death Rays of Ardilla"
I was always a bookish sort of child, I was never of the sporty persuasion. Too shy to put myself forward enough to bully my way to success. I could play a sort of kick around with an old tennis ball when my chums turned up to play and sometimes, it might evolve into a game of cricket but that usually ended with the ball finishing up in someone's garden or lost in the nettle patch.

Most other times I could be found with my nose in a book, and not just any sort of book, it was always science fiction. I don't recall how I discovered the genre but it was almost certainly by visiting my local library. In my case, this was Plumstead Library which had a junior section and was, for the most part, my second home. When I wasn't lost in among the bookshelves, there was a brilliant museum upstairs with a 3D model of the local area that I would look at for hours. I wonder what happened to it? Perhaps someone can tell me.

Capt. W.E. Johns was my author of choice. Famous for his series of books about the RAF fighter ace Biggles, he was much less well known as a writer of a series of science fiction novels. Really a sort of Biggles in outer space, they had me enthralled and I would read them over and over until I knew them all by heart. I used to plagiarise them something rotten for school homework essays. I didn't steal the stories but wrote my own based in the W.E. Johns world. This gave my stories much greater depth that would ever have been the case if left entirely to my own devices. Fortunately, none of the teachers had ever read them, or if they had, kept quiet about it. They were also well aware of my general weirdness so didn't think there was anything strange about the fact that all my stories were about Martians.

By the way, I'm not the only Capt. W.E. Johns nut and there is even a fan website which you can visit here.

Another series of books by E.C. Elliot about a group of children living on a space station and led by Kemlo, Captain of the Space Scouts was also on my list of must reads. Wonderful stuff and corny enough to give anyone with a gluten allergy a bad attack of whatever it is they get.

Once I was old enough to use the "adult library" there was a whole new universe of authors opened up to me. In those days, pretty much everything in science fiction was published by Gollancz and I have discovered a wonderful website where I can now re-visit all my old favourites. All of their back catalogue is being released in digital form and books can be downloaded for under £3.00. You may not see me for a while. Find it (and me) here.

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