strange_complex: (Computer baby)
A friend calls to set me up on a website for a Thing I'm doing. We agree on a temporary password which I can use.

"So where do I need to go to login?" I ask. He tells me the URL.

"Just go there and enter your username," he says. "It's [redacted]."

"OK, is that upper-case or lower-case?"

He checks. "It's lower-case."

There's a pregnant pause. Suddenly I realise what he's waiting for.

"I'm not in front of a computer now," I explain.

"Oh, right, of course!" he replies, embarrassed to have forgotten for a moment that sometimes, yes, that does still happen.

Click here if you would like view this entry in light text on a dark background.

The early bird

Saturday, 26 April 2008 07:58
strange_complex: (TT Baby Helios)
Well, it was one thing being up and out of the house by 9 last Saturday. This week I'm on my way a full half hour earlier! What happened??? Theoretically, I am going to help sort out a colleague's computer in Harrogate - but I think the limits of my technical competence on that front may lie closer than he believes! :-/

strange_complex: (Claudius)
I believe I may have mentioned as much on this LJ before, but just to reiterate - my Dad is teh aces! When he arrived at 9pm last night, I only had one working telephone socket in my house - a bit inconvenient, since it was in my study, and I couldn't guarantee to hear it if I was downstairs and the study door was closed. Now, I have no less than four working telephone sockets - a little excessive for my needs, perhaps, but they were all part of an old system which was just there anyway, so he figured he might as well reactivate them all while he was at it. I am incredibly impressed at his cleverness.

He also brought a plastic outdoor table and chairs, which will be nice as [ profile] hollyione is coming to visit me tomorrow, so we can enjoy sitting out in the garden with drinks while her daughter plays around us. We decided to take them straight through to the garden from the car when he arrived, and of course being 9pm it was dark, and the automatic light I have above the patio doors switched itself on as I opened them. And what should I see in its beam, sitting in the middle of the lawn? A hedgehog! I wasn't terribly surprised, as I see foxes and squirrels all the time, but hedgehogs are a bit more secretive, and I obviously haven't been out at the right time to encounter one yet. He didn't even seem very scared or anything - he didn't roll up in a ball, but just sat there, and after a while decided that maybe he would shuffle off somewhere a bit quieter. It was very exciting, and I hope I shall see more of him.

Anyway, now Dad has headed off towards Dundee, where he will be picking my Mum up from a Medical History conference and then going to the Moray Firth area for a holiday. Apparently the main attraction is dolphins, which can be seen by the dozen in the bay.

Meanwhile, in completely unrelated news, a film of I, Claudius is apparently on the cards. Could be very exciting if it happens, although I may be forced to kill myself if Leonardo DiCaprio is cast as Claudius. As Caligula, though... I could go with that.

strange_complex: (Computer baby)
I'm feeling pretty chuffed with myself on the technology front today. I have:
  • Finally got my DVD-video and Sky-box to talk to one another. It turned out that I'd got it all set up right in the first place, but just needed to choose the A1 channel on the DVD-video machine instead of letting it sit on channel 1.
  • Convinced my BT Home Hub to supply full wireless coverage to my entire house, rather than just a 2m pool immediately around it. Those people who said that the key to doing this was changing the channel it was broadcasting on ([ profile] dakegra first, I think, confirmed by [ profile] kernowgirl's husband) were really right. Setting it to channel 6 completely transformed it from basically not really working at all to working absolutely perfectly everywhere I could want it to. Amazing.
However, I still have a technological question:

Having recently bought my laptop from Dell, I want to take advantage of their partnership with ReCOM to recycle my old desktop PC to charity. I've checked that it meets their requirements, and established what I need to do to get it collected, but obviously it's crucial to ensure that it is data-safe before it goes out of my house. So far I have:
  • Uninstalled pretty much every piece of software I ever installed on it, with the exception of harmless ones like Adobe Acrobat
  • Told both IE and Firefox to clear all my personal data (passwords, browser history, favourites etc.)
  • Manually deleted all internet cache files, cookies etc. just to be sure
  • Wiped all my old documents, pictures and music (after copying them to my new machine, natch) and all temp files
  • Emptied the Recycle bin
  • Defragmented the hard drive
For the record, I never used anything other than web-based email accounts from it, so there shouldn't be old emails stored anywhere on it.

Is there anything else I should be doing before I let someone else have it? Or is rendering what was my primary personal and work computer for a total of six years truly data-safe so difficult to do properly that I'd be better off smashing the hard-drive with a hammer and taking it to the tip?

strange_complex: (Prisoner information)
...what manner of thing might be wrong with one's washing-machine if it performs the spin cycle in an apparently normal fashion, making all the usual judders and space-ship-about-to-take-off noises that washing-machines make, but the clothes still need wringing out by hand before you can hang them up to dry?

If it makes any difference, this is definitely A Change - it was fine a month ago, but has developed this problem over the last few weeks.

Edit: I've now cleaned the filter by opening a little panel at the front, which yielded quite a lot of water, a few bits of fluff, and one of those ivory-coloured plastic toothpicks which slots into the end of a Swiss Army knife. If anyone wants the latter, I'll gladly post it to them - I'm the kind of person who never lost mine, but I know a lot of people do.

strange_complex: (Bettie Page shoes)
To celebrate having a free day on Saturday, I first enjoyed a big fat lie-in, then took a leisurely breakfast, watched some TV, noodled on the 'net, and finally headed into town to complete a few shopping missions I hadn't had time to attend to for the past week or so. I needed to stock up on things like shampoo and so on from Boots, but it had also become urgent that I buy a new pair of actual boots. So urgent, in fact, that I'd got to the point of being faced each morning with the choice of wearing either a) a pair of boots with one missing sole, a broken shank1 and a rapidly disintegrating interior or b) a pair of boots with the bottom of one heel missing. Usually, pair b) won out - but it was clear that this state of affairs could not go on.

I wasn't really looking forward to the boot shopping very much, as I have terrible trouble finding boots I like which are appropriate for work. I've railed in this journal before about those stupid heels which are placed right at the back of the boots, I don't like wedges, and I don't want to wear anything more than about 2.5 inches high for the sake of comfort. So there's not much on the contemporary high street which I really want to wear.

However, yesterday the Shoe Gods were clearly with me, as I walked into Clarks, saw a pair of boots I liked straight away, tried them on and found that they fitted beautifully. I can't find a picture of them online that I can link to, but they're Victorian-looking black leather ankle-boots, with cosmetic laces up the front, a practical zip up the side and a nice-looking heel about 2" high. Plus, they were in the sale. Yay!

Thanks to Clarks, I'd got everything done I needed to do within an hour of leaving the house, so I used the time I'd expected to spend trudging gloomily around boot-shops checking out mobile phone deals instead, with an eye to the upcoming end of my current contract with Vodafone on 27th February. This is what I found, in the sort of price-range I'm willing to pay and with the sort of features I want:

Plan150 AnytimeOnline 25X-Series SilverFlextDolphin
Monthly charge£25£25£22.50 for 8 months, then £40£27.50£35
Minutes150200300c. 85250
Texts5005001000c. 170250
Internet allowanceReally unclear1Mb then £3 per Mb1Gb1Gb£1 per Mb
HandsetSony V630iAnyNokia N73Nokia 6253Most
Contract18 months18 months18 months18 months12 months

Given that I'm currently paying £30 per month for a mere 25 minutes, 250 texts and no internet allowance, those all look pretty tempting. In fact, I think I'm most tempted by the T-mobile Flext deal. Although the numbers of minutes and texts are a bit lower on that deal than some of the others, you can actually use up an overall 'allowance' on whichever you like, which is rather nice, and I very much doubt on current usage levels that I'd feel restricted by it. And that lovely, ripe 1Gb of internet usage is very tempting! Although my current phone can theoretically access the internet, I never use it, because I have no idea how much it will cost me, and suspect it might be rather a lot. A 1Gb allowance basically means being free to surf as much as I like, in practical terms, and the web browser the guy in the shop showed me looked pretty decent, too. Although I probably won't make as much use of it now as I might have done a year ago (when I was spending at least nine hours on trains a week), I can still see how it could be really handy for things like house moves (which I know needs to happen again fairly soon), trips away and so on.

If anyone has any thoughts on that deal, or any of the others, or any general experiences with any companies other than Vodafone (the only company I've ever used so far) which you think I should know about, speak up!
1. The steel 'backbone' of most heeled boots. You know it's broken when the heel no longer stays solid in relation to the boot, will move about if pushed by a hand and feels like it's slipping out behind you when you walk.
strange_complex: (ITV digital Monkey popcorn)
I've just been out to see the above with [ profile] nigelmouse, at a fabulous cinema called the Hyde Park. Leeds City Council inform me that it was originally built as a hotel in 1908, but became a cinema in 1914, and has been one ever since. It's a real treasure, and I could quite understand why [ profile] nigelmouse said he often goes there as much for the cinema as for the films.

The film was very much worth it in itself this time, though. It uses a new animation technique, which involved filming the action with live actors, and then tracing over some, but not all, of the frames with animation, and using a kind of 3D equivalent of tweening to fill in the rest. The effect was really quite trippy - movements were realistic enough to make you expect full realism, but still unnervingly not-quite-real, while in some shots it was entirely clear that you were watching an animation, and in others (especially long shots), the line between animation and live action became very thin.

And all of this fitted in very well with the subject-matter of the film - a world of drugs paranoia and double-identities. Much of the story, in fact, is seen through the eyes of a character who is suffering increasingly impaired mental faculties through drug-use, and is hallucinating and confused. Whilst the viewer is allowed to work out what's actually going on by the end of the film, for much of it we're as confused about the nature of reality as he is, and the animation style adds a lot to that.

Definitely worth seeing once: probably even better a second time when you can benefit from being clearer about what's going on than the main character is.

Le shiny!

Wednesday, 28 June 2006 18:43
strange_complex: (Computer baby)
Many thanks for all the printer-related advice yesterday, all those who commented. I am now the proud owner of an HP Photosmart 2575 All-in-One!

It is very cool and shiny, and does lots of lovely things. It scans, it copies, it reads and prints digital photos, and, most importantly, it prints out nice neat pages at super-fast speed, without hideous streaks across them.

*is satisfied with her purchase*


Tuesday, 27 June 2006 14:19
strange_complex: (Computer baby)
I really need to buy a printer. Quite urgently, actually. Please convey your printer-related advice to me via the poll below:

[Poll #757065]

I am also interested in views on the relative merits of straightforward inkjets, straightforward laser printers and 'all-in-ones' which copy and scan as well as printing. Do comment if you have thoughts on any of them!


Monday, 9 January 2006 19:44
strange_complex: (Mariko Mori crystal ball)
My final Christmas present arrived today. It is a Canon PowerShot A620 Digital Camera.

When my Dad asked me what I wanted this year, I said that I wanted a digital camera, but that I wanted to get quite an upmarket one, so wasn't expecting him to pay for the whole thing. I can handle the money side of these things myself nowadays. No, what I wanted from him was his technical expertise. I told him what I wanted from my camera, and charged him with the task of identifying a suitable model.

He did some online research before I went up to Brum for Xmas, and then we spent a few hours browsing together and talking about what I wanted. The A620 is the result.

I've yet to actually put batteries in it, or anything like that, but depending on progress with the lecture I'm currently writing, I might have a little play later on tonight. I think it's safe to say that you can expect my first stumbling experiments with it to be appearing on this LJ some time soon.
strange_complex: (Leela Ooh)
The other day while taking money out at a cash-point, I noticed that there was rather more money in my bank account than I'd been expecting. The next time I had a spare moment, I went online to find out why, and saw that a payment of £477.34 had been made into my account by Queen's University Belfast.

This worried me for a few days. I've finished working there, and my last pay-cheque came in at the end of September. So why were they suddenly sending me more money? Was it a mistake? Or some kind of tax rebate based on the erroneous assumption that I was now unemployed?

Either way, my future looked likely to involve hassle and having to pay it back.

Until, that is, I actually got a pay-slip from them yesterday, where the money was described as a redundancy payment. Now, to be fair, I did get a letter from the Personnel department shortly before I left saying that staff who'd been employed by the University for a year or less were due a week's worth of their salary as a redundancy payment if their contract was terminated. But I got a lot of other rather nonsensical letters that were obviously being generated automatically by some sort of 'system' around the same time, and assumed that it didn't really apply to me, since I'd been on a fixed-term contract and had always known it was going to end when it did.

It seems, though, that this particular letter really was true. So, to celebrate, I popped round to Richer Sounds this afternoon, and bought something I've been meaning to buy for some time, and especially since I was in there the other day buying a coaxial cable and saw it there, winking at me on the shelf: a combination VCR / DVD player / recorder. This one, to be precise.

Is this machine teh sechs? Oh gods, yes! These are some of the benefits it has brought into my life:Combi lust )Suffice it to say that I am feeling more than satisfied with my purchase. And kinda warm and gooey towards Queen's, of course.

Meanwhile, in a somewhat-related vein, I also feel that the world should know about the bill I got the other day from BT:

What do you mean, not worth the paper it's written on? )

Now I'm going out. I look forward immensely to my DVD recording of this evening's episode of A Bit of Fry & Laurie when I return. Let's just hope I managed to set the timer correctly...


Sunday, 21 November 2004 19:42
strange_complex: (Default)
On Friday night, thanks to my brand new working DVD player, I was finally able to watch the DVD of Jinnah which I bought almost four months ago.

My review of Jinnah )


strange_complex: (Default)

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