March 2009


I recently had cause to take my laptop to another house and use dial-up. There are plenty of free Isps who will charge only local call rate and I used one of those.

The problem was that there is some program on my laptop that used that connection in an attempt to contact the internet. That ensured, for some reason, that connection was suspended until I canceled the dial-up dialog box; sometimes I don’t even know it was there and I’m wondering why my broadband connection is so slow and pages weren’t connecting.

I think, but can’t be certain, that the culprit is Adobe’s Flash player.

The problem was solved by un-ticking that particular dial-up connection in the Network Connections section of the control panel to ensure that it wasn’t the default connection.

I’m getting a little pissed off with software this weekend. In an effort to clean up my hard drive I un-installed some software which wasn’t necessary or getting used. Of course, one had to cause trouble. I have standard and pro versions of one piece of software which shall remain un-named. I un-installed the standard version and the whole lot disappeared. I then had to uninstall the various plugins for it and then reinstall the whole kit and caboodle. The malware program I have is still running after an hour and a half and it’s on ‘quick scan.’ And I’ve also discovered today that the One Note default setting for files is shared (or maybe I missed something when creating the file) so every time I’ve been online the file and folder has been available for – presumably – all to see and access. I have no idea if anyone has or not.

My local newspaper had a most disturbing front page this week. Apparently the local primary school is the most violent in Scotland. This is disturbing for a number of reasons. Low level crime in this area is already bad; the same newspaper reported a few weeks ago of a spate of car tyres being slashed and wing mirrors being broken. I’m not saying the kids at primary school did this but I have noticed more and more gangs of youths around the area.

And, it’s a primary school. The under twelves. If their behaviour is that bad at that age what will they be like when they become teenagers? Young Adults? Adults?

Of course some parents have already been complaining about it. How it is statistically based, and although there are a lot of assaults against teachers they are being committed by the same pupils: hence the rest of the pupils at the school are being unfairly tarnished.

The head teacher has already been replaced, and hopefully the new head will be able to turn things around if the situation really is that bad.

I have a backup of my laptop via Norton Ghost V14. I bought an external USB drive specifically to keep back ups on. Version 14 of Ghost does conversions of Ghost files to Virtual Hard Disk files – both Microsoft and the other one, which I can’t care to remember.

I’ve had various mishaps trying to convert Norton files to VHD files and today I finally succeeded. The problem was the FAT32 file system, which has a 4GB file size limit. (I’m 99% sure that’s what the problem is.)

Today I user Ghost to convert a recent backup to a VHD file. After one failure it worked. I had a 46 Gigabyte files sitting on my hard disk. I created a new machine in Virtual PC and let it load up. But it seems the copy protection in Vista spoiled everything as all I got was continuous setting up of the machine and then an error dialogs followed by continuous reboots.

So I never got to see my own laptop running within a virtual machine on my own laptop.

There appears to be an upgrade to Antics available on their site. It is around 200MB and states that it is Antics 5.1: the last upgrade we were promised from the company, a bug fix, minor improvements. Also the final copy of Antics the people who purchased it will receive.

I heard about this on Friday. There is nothing from the company themselves.

I am a little wary about this. It seems – from the Antics user forum – that it still requires activation. This is not good news if true. And it may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and forces me to another pre viz software program. Not that there’s any choice.

I’ll hang back at the moment, maybe download it and leave it on a back up drive. As long as the Laptop works fine I have Antics, and Norton Ghost to repair any damage.

It’s Friday the thirteenth. The second this year. We have one more this year to look forward. February, March and November are the months this year that have Friday 13ths. The next time there are three in a year is 2015. I’ve never really had bad luck on Friday 13ths (touch wood) but there have been occasions when things didn’t go right. It just seemed odd that they would happen on a Friday the 13th and not another day. Or perhaps we are a little more psyched up on Friday 13ths and notice things more than other days.

I recently heard the sad news of the passing of Phillip Jose Farmer, a fantastic science fiction writer. I have a good handful of his books and have enjoyed every one of them – even though some were considered extreme at the time of publication. I also ordered a book due out in September from the American publisher.

I went onto Amazon to look for some more of his books to buy – also some by Harlan Ellison, who seems to have limited publishing in the UK – and also searched for Doc Savage. Phillip Jose Farmer’s ‘biography’ of Doc Savage was the first of his books that I read. I have maybe ten, twenty Doc Savage novels that I bought in the eighties and was looking to get some more: there are around one hundred and eighty of them, and ten or twenty isn’t that much from the whole collection.

They are available on Amazon, but the prices are astronomical. £30, £40 one was even £126. I should make sure I look after the novels I have.

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