Life The Universe And Everything


It’s the second of April and there have been a few good April Fool’s this year. Apparently a few French papers fell for ‘Concorde to return.’ NASCAR did an April Fool story and later apologised for it said Yahoo. There was an invisible car to help you avoid speed cameras. Also some invisible treehouses. A half decent one from the Telegraph. The Daily Mail has a bunch of them, including a flying hotel. The UK press seem to love this more than anyone else.

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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.

Having recently bought Norton Ghost and discovering that it can convert Ghost backups to Microsoft Virtual PC drives I decided it would be good if I could Ghost the drive of my old computer, convert it to a Virtual PC hard drive and run it on my laptop. I already do that with the Win 98 computer (which is starting to show its’ age by randomly rebooting on the rare occasions I do switch it on).

The old computer is upstairs out of the way and of course hasn’t even been switched on in a few months at least. So I dig out Ghost, unplug the 500 GB USB hard drive and trot upstairs to install Ghost and let it chug away at backing up the drive.

Of course it doesn’t go like that. The computer boots up and gets halfway through the process before hanging. I restart it and get a blue screen of death (which I stupidly didn’t note down) and afterwards all it did was constantly reboot after offering me the start up option screens. Of course, I went through all of them one by one, from Safe Mode to Last Known Good Configuration but none of them worked.

It gets better.

The last time this happened – or something similar to it – I just got the Windows XP disk and did a repair. I keep all software like that in a separate bag, all together. Unfortunately as my copy of XP Home was an OEM version it did not come in a case but in a paper wallet, the disadvantages of which I found out as I hauled it from the bag to discover the disc was broken in two.

I’ve got a bunch of Operating Systems in that bag, all packed in together, and the one they chose to kill is the one I need. From Dos 6 floppy disks right up to Vista for the laptops. I still have the serial number – I stuck the sticker onto the computer itself – so if I can get another disk I should be able to make a repair of the system. If only to Ghost it and put it on my laptop; after which I think I might stick one of the other Operating Systems I have on it. Even though it’s a fair few years old the computer is still pretty high spec, even by today’s standards.  If it was more reliable as a machine I would use it more often.

It’s weird that it’s been blowing blizzards on and off all day. The snow fall has been heavy and fierce flurries at times but (late afternoon) there hasn’t been that much lying. Only about three or four inches. This morning the radio had said that parts of England had, at that time, already had up to ten inches of snow. Where I am there are hills that protect us from the worst of the winds, rains and snow, so we don’t get it as bad as other parts of Scotland but it looks like we’re getting it bad today.

As usual Britain goes kafump, what the hell’s that white stuff and why isn’t anything working?

So the car decides to go mental just before its’ MOT. There is a hole in the exhaust, it’s leaking oil, one of the tyres is flat. Then I get a phone call this morning from the guy doing the work. Turns out the car is in need of serious repairs and he’s worried about the engine.

It would cost more than the car is worth to do the repairs so I’m now hunting for a new car. When I say new I mean cheap. But that’s half the problem as you are buying cheap cars today which don’t seem to last too long.

The MOT runs out at the end of the month and the insurance as near as, so I’ve got three weeks or so to sort out a new car, get a re quote for the insurance and scrap the car I have right now.

The car is due its MOT soon and it’s booked into a garage on the recommendation of my sister.  She said she had hers done by this guy and it was great, near Cowdenbeath. I phone the guy, get a date for taking it in and he gives me his address and post code and it’s bloody nowhere near Cowdenbeath. Not only that it’s way out in the middle of nowhere. However, arrangements have been made so I don’t need to wander the empty country roads in the vain hope of finding a bus back to civilisation.

I hope it doesn’t cost much for the MOT. I had considered taking it in to the local Council for MOT. They don’t do repairs and so have no interest in getting money from the motorist. So what they say it needed would be what it needed and not what the garage wanted to charge for it. However, I do know it needs certain things done to it and it would be an unnecessary waste to take it to two places.

I should stop spending money.

I found 7digital (at, naturally, 7.digital.com) which sells mp3s without any drm and have been hunting their catalogue. They have songs and albums from all the major labels and quite a few small labels too. They also have independent and unsigned artists. I remember there being a press release recently about how they were the first to have the songs from the big four record labels without any drm.

I’ve never really like itunes. Never trust anyone who wants your credit card details before you’ve made any sort of order.

The good thing is that I’ve been able to download individual tracks rather than whole albums.  Which means spending less money, but some albums (like Horse, the same sky) you just have to buy the whole thing.

I’ve spent about twenty, thirty quid recently just on tracks. Eyes too big for my wallet. I did get some free tracks and they have some really cheap albums, starting from £2.

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