Tag Archives: computers

Computers!

Just a short post as I need to get to bed early – it’s flu vaccination day tomorrow, one of the biggest days in my social calendar. If it goes as well as my visit to the pharmacy today – a forty minute queue outside in a cold wind – it will probably cause more flu than it cures.

When I went to the Post office this afternoon I wasn’t able to send any post out because the computer system was down. There is, it seems, no manual system for sending post. There was a reasonably well-developed postal system in the seventeenth century, which they managed without computers and still found time to persecute witches and cultivate religious bigotry.

If I had time I would have a really good rant, particularly on the subject of pharmacy staff who don’t wear masks, but time, as I said, is short.

I seem to have been asleep most of the evening.

We had a couple of frustrating orders today – one where we’d got the postage wrong and faced a loss of £18 on the transaction and one where we seem to have sold the item through the shop and forgotten to remove it from eBay.

We bought a few lots in – mixed coins and a pair of First World War medals – sold a few bits, saw one regular customer and had to ask several people to put masks on.

I just need eighteen words and some photos and I will have done enough to meet the 250 word target – oh, I just did.

See you tomorrow with more ranting…

A Deep Distrust

I hate computers.

I’ve been having trouble getting information from Ancestry UK, which is why the Heeley article wasn’t as well researched as it could have been. I had cleared my cache/browsing history as recommended but was putting the other actions off, as messing with computers is always bad news.

Tonight I deactivated my browser extensions. No, I haven’t a clue what they are, why they are necessary or why I ever needed them if I can, it seems, do without them.

Then, as that didn’t work, I downloaded a new version of Chrome. Probably. I’m not sure there is a new version for those of us running XP or Vista.

Anyway, after a wild white-knuckle ride of button pressing and trepidation I still have a functioning computer. I still don’t have a functioning Ancestry site and I’m having to enter passwords every time I visit a site, but it’s mostly working so thank goodness for small mercies. I’ve attempted things with computers that have ended far less well than this.

I always say I’ll make regular back-ups and all that stuff but I never do. It’s a serious worry that all over the world nuclear missiles are being controlled by computers, and computers are in a perpetual state of decay.  It starts with a gradual slowing, moves on to shedding various functions, like Ancestry, and ends up launching a missile at someone who retaliates automatically and triggers Armageddon.

grayscale photo of explosion on the beach

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There is, of course, the possibility that computers hate me, which would explain a lot.

In an alternate universe, where they don’t trust computers they put the nuclear bombs under the care of highly trained teenage soldiers, who are likely to push the red button to see what happens. Or they may let computer geeks look after them. That’s unlikely to end well either.

While I’m here, did you know you can buy glow in the dark coins? I didn’t until someone asked if we wanted to buy one last week. We’ve had ones with copper from HMS Victory, bits of Avro Lancaster bomber and bits of meteorite embedded in them, even ascratch and sniff pizza coin, but never one that glowed in the dark.

They are advertised as “irradiated“, which is not the first word I would choose if I was trying to sell something. It’s close to “bubonic” and “carcinogenic” on the list of words you wouldn’t expect to see in an advert.

In the manner of these things, once I started looking I learned things I hadn’t realised I didn’t know. I had never heard of these, for instance.

The End of the Beginning…

I was encouraging my dining room computer to greater efforts last night, because I felt it was deliberately slowing down and refusing to obey commands just to wind me up. Shouting isn’t a long term answer, we really need a new computer, but it provides some short-term relief. In this, a computer resembles a teenager, though teenagers do eventually improve. On the other hand, you can switch a computer off and it never empties your fridge.

As I paused for breath I heard Julia say: “Simon, can you stop swearing please?”

This led to our usual discussion about me and my right to freedom of speech and how it was hardly even swearing compared to some of the things I could have said and how…

“Will you **** shut up, you foul-mouthed ****!”

I’ll leave you fill in the gaps. Unlike the tabloid press I have deliberately left the words unidentifiable. If you are going to blank out the bad language I’ve never seen the point of adding the initial letter and the exact number of asterisks. You may as well just print the word. As I know my readership contains churchgoers and grandmothers I tend to be honest in admitting that my language is not good, but refrain from exposing the true depravity of my language. Too many years spent working in the company of rough men. I really should stop it, but like vegetarianism and exercise, I seldom persist in my improvements for long. Te only two things I have really ever given up have been smoking and hard work. I have not done either for over 20 years.

It seems that Julia had just been adding sound to a video she had done for work and my advice to the computer meant she was going to have to do it all again. There really are times when I realise I’ve been a bad influence on her.

Chastened, I carried on typing, but when the computer seized up again I made my displeasure obvious with the use of hand signals.

It’s a good thing that we are doing more days at work in the coming week, as lockdown is beginning to change me. First I started eating too many biscuits, then I pretended to be a bear and now I’m making offensive hand gestures at a computer.

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Salon closed

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Salon closed

We’ve each been in twice a week for the last two weeks to do the eBay work and answer the phone. From this week we are going in four days a week and there will be two of us in the shop each day. I will be at work tomorrow, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

In two weeks time we will start letting customers in by appointment. I spoke to someone by telephone today – he has had a queue outside all day wanting new watch batteries. A lot of watches ran out of power over the last few months.

It’s going to be a long slow recovery from lockdown.

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Winston Churchill

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Picture of Desertion and Dejection

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Oh dear…

Real Men don’t use Switches

My computer has several idiosyncrasies, such as a missing On/Off switch, several pieces of missing software and a habit of randomly refusing to start. The switch was originally faulty rather than  missing, but where a faulty switch refuses to start the computer, a missing switch allows me to touch two wires together and get it going.

A faulty switch is a nuisance, but a missing switch is merely a cosmetic issue.

I’m not sure what happened to the software, but several years ago I started getting notices that things weren’t installing themselves on start-up. I tried reinstalling them and I tried letting the computer correct the fault. Neither approach worked. Now I just keep cancelling the attempts to reinstall and after thirty seconds of button pushing everything seems to work and the only fault is with some photo software. As the average computer seems to have several ways of coping with photos, this isn’t a problem.

Which gets us to the real point of this post. The computer refused to start tonight. It sat there on the table when I returned home and whirred into action when I hot-wired it, but there was little action. The green light on the DVD player flashed and the blue light by the main switch (or the space where it used to be) came on. There was even a gentle buzz, but the main flashing blue light and the expected sound of internal arrangements sliding into place were noticeably absent.

I administered a sharp tap to the casing, which always seems like it should work. It didn’t. Then I hit it with a book. Don’t judge me, I grew up when electrical goods were different.

Finally I switched it off and started again. How, you ask, as I have no switch and the computer wasn’t working enough to allow me to close down normally. Well, that’s where the power cord comes in. Or more accurately, gets unplugged.

It’s not quite as sophisticated as a switch, but it does stop the flow of electricity. There is the occasional crackle, suggesting that the power might be about to flow somewhere unwelcome but it hasn’t happened yet and if it does it might solve the atrial fibrillation so it’s not all bad.

When I plugged it back in it started at once and gave me the choice of starting normally or (the recommended method) letting the computer have a shot at fixing itself.

I tried the latter method and you know what? It just kept going and grunting and churning and telling me this could take several minutes and…eventually…repeating itself and not starting.

So I pulled the power cable again, started it up again, told it to start itself normally and a couple of minutes later I was in. That’s why I’m now able to write about the shortcomings of my computer and my troubles with technology.

We never had all these problems when TV was black and white and phones were attached to the wall.

The photo shows what happened in the shop a few weeks ago – leaving us staring at blue screens for ten minutes.

A Dozen Parcels, an Auction and a Hectic Day (and a Very Bad Magpie)

I was late getting to work this morning because I had a busy start – taking Julia to breakfast, helping her buy cement, fighting my way through several sets of road works and, finally, dropping her off at the garden.

That left me with twenty minutes to get to work, which was only just enough. Technically,I wasn’t late, as I was still there a few minutes before I was due to start. In practice, it felt late as I like to get settled and have an unhurried start to the day.

There were two big sales on at Spinks in London this morning and the boss was bidding on line. (I won’t add a link to Spinks as I’m currently arguing with them – I bought two lots off them a months ago – they lost one lot and the other was nothing like the description. They are not, currently, my favourite auctioneer.)

The problem was that my computer, though old and clunky, is probably the best in the shop, and is the only one with sound.

That meant I started late, answered some stupid questions from customers, and then had to swap computers when the auction started. It’s surprising how much a strange workstation slows you down.

I don’t mind questions when they have a point, but some are just a waste of time and energy.

Eventually the auction finished. It seems to have been quite successful, though everything seemed a little more expensive than he would have liked.

I had a similar experience when I looked in on an auction in the afternoon. I’d decided to save my money by not bidding, but two the three lots I would have bid on went for more than I wanted to pay so I’d have left empty-handed anyway. I’ve spent enough recently so it’s good to save.

Fortunately we managed to make a few sales in the shop too – it’s nice to get a bit back after all the buying we’ve been doing.

Julia rang me in the afternoon. She’d been working in the garden when she noticed some commotion by the polytunnel. There are two nestboxes with Great Tit families in them and the one by the polytunnel was under attack from a magpie, which had its head stuck in the hole.

Great Tit at Wilford

Great Tit at Wilford

She chased it away and we’re hoping it won’t be back.

I know it’s nature, but there are plenty of other things to eat.

 

 

I am vexed…

That’s a line from The Lion and Albert, a venerable old monologue from the days of pierrots and end of the pier shows.

It has no bearing on the events of the day, but after the computer-based problems of yesterday it sums up my mood nicely.

After finally getting the computer to start yesterday I noticed quite a few things had disappeared. I then noticed that WordPress was informing me about all comments on the blog. That’s a lot of emails to go through. I assume that they have previously gone to the email account that I set up when I started. After changing email accounts I am now snowed under, and will be changing it again quite soon.

Then I noticed that my avatar has disappeared…

Vexed is probably an understatement.

Flower Beds and Disillusionment

I turned on my computer tonight and was not pleased to see a message that it was 51% through downloading a load of improvements. Thirty minutes later it is complete. Guess how happy I am. You never had this nonsense in the old days.

Anyway, here are some photographs of the newly extended kitchen on the farm. Note how they are burning perfectly good timber and how the pizza oven and barbecue area have been demolished. Great use of resources…

Flower beds have been wiped out, the allotment area looks like a desert and the money spent on rabbit-proof fencing has all come to nothing. However, it’s been replaced by elements of design like the “flower bed”, so it’s bound to be popular.

No matter what we say about air miles and local produce a lot of people still want colour coordinated doors and table numbers written on wooden spoons. To be fair, it does look more attractive than the old set up, but it’s been at the expense of evicting our group and emptying the bank account we filled so laboriously.

Is it worth it?

Well, I’m not the best person to ask.

 

 

 

If I ruled the World (2)

I’m back, and I’m ready to write a list of major improvements I would make to the world.

One, I would  launch a major research project into the causes of low intelligence, with the object of developing a vaccine against stupidity. This is a watered down version of my true feelings after sitting next to an idiot with a mobile phone and a demon-spawn toddler in the surgery waiting room.

Two, pass a law requiring that computers would allow you to write (2) instead of “Two” without all sorts of unintended paragraphing consequences.

Three, make it law that all doctors required to perform prostate tests were selected for their small hands rather than for their qualifications. Possibly they could be selected from families of concert pianists, who tend to have long thin fingers. I’ve never asked to see their credentials, but have strong views about their fingers. I’m also convinced that the people who take jobs like this aren’t the ones that came top of their class. Not a criticism, just an observation.

Four, I would encourage all current MPs to follow George Osborne‘s example and get a job outside politics. It would be nice to get them all jobs in the hospitality industry and see if they could organise a party in a brewery.

Five, replace health warnings with pictures. Don’t tell me something has a lot of fat in it, that means nothing. Even if it is in red. But show me a picture of a fat man clutching his chest and I might take notice.

I’ll leave it at 5 for tonight because I’m trying to design a kitchen knife that incorporates a sticking plaster dispenser. It’s a gap in the market I spotted whilst preparing vegetables tonight…

 

Peaceful Sunday Afternoon

It sounds like it should be a song from the 60s but it’s just a description of what I’m now experiencing. With just the sound of poultry and sheep in the background it’s very relaxing. Even the occassional outbreak of raucous guimeafowlery can’t break the mood.

If you’d asked me for a title half an hour ago, while I was still engaged in moving watering cans, I wouldn’t have been so mellow. I would probably have muttered something terse in the beginning, but by the time of the twentieth something quite rude would probably have resulted. Not only would I have been trudging along with my 20th can of water, I’d also have been annoyed by the snails attacking my horseradish, various degrees of sun shrivelled foliage and the fact that I have forgotten my card reader.

So, despite having photographs I am unable to load them onto the computer. The antique machine here in the farm office doesn’t have a card slot (though neither does mine at home, to be fair) so after forgetting the card reader I am powerless. I did try taking photos with my phone but it’s a new and mysterious phone, and I can’t find out where it hides the images after I take them.

It was also a society for young men before the Great War, as I recall. I don’t, of course, recall the 1913, but I do remember my grandmother telling me that her father had been a Sunday School teacher and member of a group called Peaceful Sunday Afternoon. I have a book of his somewhere at home, concealed in several thousand other assorted books, with a PSA book plate. I have never been able to find anything about them on the internet, which is strange when you think what is documented on there.

Ah well, I will leave it there. I’m off to visit Number two son in Sheffield when Julia finishes work, so probably won’t have time to load photos tonight. Sorry about that but it will probably have to remain a pictureless blog post.