October 2009

All over the place. I’ve had a look at the Robert Howard books and I don’t see at least four of them. Sword Woman; there was an American import of the Spicy stories that appeared in the thirties which I can’t remember the title of; I came across the Second Book of Robert E Howard but noticed there was no sign of the Book of Robert E Howard; and similar applies for the Dark Man, I have volume two but can’t find volume one. That was the one I preferred, although my edition had a rigorous spine and therefore it made the pages vulnerable to splitting from the spine – and I remember that some had.

The web sites are back up and I’m told that there shouldn’t be any more problems but I’m not holding my breath. I contacted both my web host and ISP in connection with this problem, and my web host have told me that they have fixed ‘unusual errors in both dns zones for’ my domains. This problem has been appearing off and on since at least July 2008 which is the first time I reported it to them according to the ticketing system in their support centre, but I’m sure it happened prior to that; I just didn’t report it.

With the postal strikes in full swing I’m concerned about some items I’m waiting on. The Bob Shaw book from America hasn’t arrived yet, no doubt it is in limbo at the moment. I also have a signed Theodore Sturgeon book winging its way from America too and that will get caught up in the postal dispute. Plus I have a record (a real honest to God vinyl record) bought on Ebay which has been posted but no doubt is lying in a depot somewhere. I’m still going on Ebay but I don’t think I’ll bid for anything until the postal strike is sorted.


I was thinking of bidding for some Conan novels on ebay. So I went to my books and had a ruffle through them to see if it was worthwhile my bidding for them. It turns out not as I have some of them, and would only be getting a couple of books (which I’ve read anyway as I had them originally and sold them off) and would end up getting some duplicates, which I don’t need.

I regret getting rid of books – I bought Ian Rankin’s first novel when it came out and it’s apparently very rare nowadays, but I didn’t like it even though it was a fair read; it was some meandering nonsense about the growing pains of some boys from the fictional town of Carsden, which would have been based on the real town of Cardenden – but there you go. (I suppose it goes to show that Ian Rankin is a good writer as I can remember some things clearly about it, most notably – for some odd reason – their lying on their backs in a park discussing masturbation.)

On going through my books I noted a few things. One, I miss second hand bookshops. There aren’t any near me. A lot of the books I was picking through were bought from second hand shops. I got a lot of Star Trek novelizations and novels from second hand bookshops; a few from library sales too seeing as some had plastic covers. Robert Heinlein, Clifford Simak, odd SF collections, all these and more were acquired. There are charity shops but they aren’t the same.

Two, I’m down on Robert Howard books. I have about thirty including the Conan ones and there should be more than that. On the plus side I have more Philip Jose Farmer books than I thought I did; around twentyish including a couple I’m sure I haven’t read. I also took a note of the Doc Savage books I have in case I bid for more on ebay; again I don’t want doubles. I have around twenty. For some strange reason only one double novel. I did buy a fair few – or thought I did – but didn’t realise I got rid of all except one (The Fortress of Solitude/Czar of Fear), plus I only have one Omnibus edition. I remember getting a few of those too. Again twentyish Doc Savage novels, including two or three that were written in the nineties, although I don’t have the one written by Philip Jose Farmer, Escape From Loki. I also saw one Spider novel, two Shadow novels, the first of the Doom trilogy in paperback. I came across my old manual typewriter too but couldn’t get it open. A lot of TV stuff: the aforementioned Star Trek, Highlander novelizations, Babylon 5, X-Files, Red Dwarf. I really need to sit and rummage through them some more.

Three, the diversity that used to be in book shops is something which was taken for granted and seems to have diminished. i don’t think we have greater choice nowadays, just greater volume. I have lots of odds and ends that I picked up new in shops that would never see the light of shelf space nowadays. There was the equivalent for second hand books too: odds and ends that never appeared anywhere else except second hand book shops. I know the internet can bring you anything but there are times you want to handle the goods and inspect them before handing over money. And I suppose there are just times when you want to browse. Some of the stuff I had never heard of before and probably wouldn’t have bought if I hadn’t held it in my hands and browsed through it first, giving it a chance to pique my interest and make me chose to buy it.

Not general grumbling, more like corporal grumbling. What is it with some sites? After they have loaded some are still giving the message ‘transferring data from …’ down at the bottom left of Firefox with pictures and videos and stuff still being downloaded but no way for me to press the escape button to stop them. Well one site in particular does. I wont name it but it seems I wont go there too often either, which is a shame as I like the site. However, I’m not prepared to have it gobble up bandwidth at every visit. It mounts up. This month has seen one of the the lowest use of bandwidth since I signed on to Madasafish for broadband services. And this in the month when I found a couple of new sites, including one that has links to loads of MP3s. I downloaded and enjoyed the free preview of Tom Waits’ new album. Pretty generous this was too as they gave eight full tracks as a preview. It was around eighty megabytes to download and I had to give my email address to get the link to the download but it was well worth it. Not a big fan of Tom Waits; I have one CD and a few MP3s bought from 7digital, but if ever the word unique would describe anyone it would be Tom Waits.

Well, three novels anyway. The first of the books I bought on ebay have turned up and I’m looking forward to reading some more of Doc’s adventures. It’s been a long time. I first bought a couple of the double editions way back in the eighties from the Science Fiction Bookshop in Edinburgh: The Czar of Fear was the first Doc adventure I read. I bought lots more after that but I also gave as many away – only a limited amount of room in my house – either selling to book dealers or as donations to my local library.

I got No 8, The Land of Terror, No 30, The Flaming Falcons and No 48 The Feathered Octopus, with more to come. I think I’ll start with No 8. I’ve started reading a crime novel, The Lost Sister by Russel D McLean, but it hasn’t grabbed my interest yet.

I got back into Ebay recently. I bought some things years ago but lost both user name and password so I couldn’t get back into that account. I created a new account and only purchased a hardback edition of Vertigo by Bob Shaw – which turned out to be ex library.

Recently I’ve used Ebay a little more, getting a comic – which when I got it and flicked through realised I’d already bought before; most likely from Ebay a few years ago on the other account – a Philip Jose Farmer novel and some Doc Savage novels, though some of the latter are still pending.

The Philip Jose Farmer one, A Feast Unknown, was bought probably late eighties early nineties and might even have been the first Philip Farmer I read (excluding his biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage). It was bought from the Bookshop in Dunfermline, now long gone, and I remember flicking through it and noticing that Theodore Sturgeon had written an afterword. Having Sturgeon writing an afterword was the equivalent of Five Michelin stars in my eyes and I bought the book straight away, read and enjoyed it. However, I can’t for the life of me find the copy in my books. I do know I’ve lent out books and not got them back but I don’t recall lending that book out. I do recall lending out a book of his short stories which I don’t seem to have either. Getting the new copy of A Feast Unknown I’ve started reading it again and have went about a third of the way through in one sitting – it really is a rattling good read.

I had a look at this again. I have an old computer that has XP on it and I bacyked it up using Norton Ghost, which has the capability of converting Ghost files into Virtual Hard Disks for use by Virtualisation Programmes such as MS Virtual PC and VirtualBox. I haven’t had much luck converting this backup to a working virtual hard disk. I recently updated Norton Ghost and a couple of days ago thought that I should try it again.

There was a little more luck. Ghost was able to convert the backup to VDMK, and eventually VHD. I thought I’d cracked it when the VDMK was created, in 2 gig segments, but the VirtualBox programme turned its nose up at the files, saying it wasn’t recognised and giving an error.

The VHD format always gave an error and stopped halfway through. At first I thought this was due to file size – or to be more accurate the 4 gig file limit for FAT32; but no, it stopped halfway through when I tried to create it on NTFS partitions too. However, after the update, it has now created a VHD file, some thirty gigabytes in size.

Again, fool that I am, I thought that creating the file was the end of the travails.

Virtual PC didn’t recognise the hard disk. When I attached it as a second disk to an already existing XP Virtual PC it couldn’t be read at all. On rebooting the Virtual disk it wanted to check the volume for integrity. I let it, assuming it wouldn’t take long.

So I get up this morning and it has finished checking the disk and re indexing all the files. Unfortunately it wont boot as a separate disk. It appears to be missing at least one file. It can be read in the other XP Virtual Machine but that’s of little use.

It brings another problem as I was looking to load the machine and export parts of, or the whole, registry. In particular the settings for Sophocles. I’ve done some hunting on the internet but can’t locate information on where the information for the registry is stored: to be exact what file. I know there are various reg files on the computer but they are – or should be – extra files where information too large for the registry are stored. Apparently there is a limit to the size of information that can be put into the registry; over two k and it should go into a separate file.

At least I’ve made some progress using Ghost; from being unable to create any files to creating dud files. But I think that’s not too viable an option. I think the main problem is Ghost itself. It may be able to create virtual disks from back ups but they don’t seem to be compatible with the programs that actually use the virtual disks.

Trying to buy stuff from Amazon but it’s not playing nice. It keeps asking me to put in my credit card information. I’ve checked the details in my account and the information is there already. Previous to this week buying from Amazon was as easy as a few clicks. I’ve also checked the address bar during the process of doing the order and I’m not getting redirected to a phishing site; it just informs me that the address the goods are being sent to is a new address (not true) and I have to re enter the details.

So far this week I’ve cancelled two orders just to be on the safe side and sent Amazon an email. First there was the final (?) volume of the complete stories by Theodore Sturgeon, Slow Sculpture (I tried buying from the publisher but they don’t ship outside You Sah) and then today an order for the Region 2 edition of Logan’s Run plus Logan’s Run comic number six. I have Logan’s Run on DVD but it’s Region one, and I don’t fancy messing about with Regions on the computer or using software to rip the DVD.

I just won Logan’s Run comic number seven on ebay: there were only seven editions of this comic printed before it went kaput and I have the first five. I actually came to Logan’s Run via the comic. It was a bright and shiny thing on the shelves of a newsagent in Cowdenbeath and I bought it and was hooked. They Film/Comic did the story differently to the book and I actually preferred it to the novel. A few months later I saw the film in Lochgelly (Lochgelly had two cinemas and Cowdenbeath, a bigger town, had one; now there’s just the multiplex several towns away) and a few years later got the paperback, then the sequel in paperback and then the final in the trilogy in paperback.

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