Thursday, 20 November 2008

Bad things and something good

1. I had to buy a new laptop because my old one was getting iller and iller, and can no longer access its battery among other issues, not least the tractor noise it makes. It was a bit of a waste because I haven't really been in the mood for heavy technological expenditure. If you're going to spend hundreds on a new gadget you ought to get the most possible pleasure out of it, but it all just seemed like a huge chore to me. Anyway I solved three little problems and I thought I'd mention them in case they're of use to anyone.
a) Predictably itunes was the hardest to transfer: it turns out that wherever you keep your library -- I was moving it from an external hard drive to the second partition of an internal drive -- the actual important files are in the Music folder in your own user directory on the C: drive, and those are the ones you have to transfer in order to keep all your info like play counts and podcast subscriptions. If you copy over the ".itl" file you're OK. For some reason using the XML option didn't work. Then of course I had to authorise my new computer for the itunes store and for, and deauthorise the old one. Also, why will itunes only let you back up to CDs or DVDs, and not to an external hard drive? Given how long most of us have spent posting CDs into the drive in order to amass our itunes libraries, why on earth would we want to reverse that process? It's insanity.
b) You can't connect to Lapwing with Virgin Wireless Manager on. This puzzled me for ages before I worked out what the issue was. You can easily turn Virgin's Wireless Manager off; in fact I'm thinking of jettisoning it altogether. I told the computing service help desk and they're going to add it to their FAQs, since there must be other people in Cambridge who use Lapwing and have Virgin broadband at home.
c) I keep all my important stuff on a little USB drive so that I don't have to worry about versioning, and I have a beautiful little batch file which automatically backs up for me every time I plug it in, meaning I have all my work in a recent form on both my home and work computers. My new laptop wouldn't autorun from a USB drive, which ruined this whole scheme. Eventually I sorted that out by editing the registry from these instructions; thanks AJJ for googling better than me.

2. I got two notes yesterday which made me sad. One was from a local police officer, handwritten, and the other was from the Housing Society of the block of flats where I live, both to the same effect. Apparently there is going to be a community meeting to discuss "the problem of youths climbimg and antisocial behaviour". Now, I have mentioned before on this blog how much I like having the Le Parcour/free-running kids about. They leap around the area between the two blocks which make up the flats where I live, bouncing off things with the elegance of monkeys, and walking on their hands, etc. They must be in their early teens -- I'd guess around 13-15 -- e.g. they are children, playing outdoors and having fun. I haven't ever thought of them as anti-social. Did we need to get the police involved? Is this a police matter? I'm worried we're doing that thing one hears so much about in the media these days, reacting with unfair fear to children who are only being children. What are we actually expecting them to do with their time? OK they're not a very approachable bunch, but we don't want young kids to be approachable by strangers, it wouldn't be appropriate. I understand that children over the age of 12 have been banned from the local playground, and presumably we don't want them sitting at home playing on their playstations or doing unsuitable things on the internet. Poor kids. I want to see them running free! In time they'll have to grow up and worry about adult things but for now why can't they just leap about, daringly risking grazed knees and perhaps broken arms in order to look cool in front of their friends and very occasionally girls?

3. But if I go to the meeting and try to put this point of view I will not be sympathetically heard, and it will probably turn out that the kids have been throwing stones at old ladies or something. I have had bad experiences with this before. It is very hard to deal with people whom you think are over-reacting without coming off as an unpleasant person incapable of sympathising with other people's traumas, and there are some hardcore complainers who live in my block of flats.

4. I did have the audio cassette of On the Hour, but it was only a few episodes, and now both series are available on itunes. Hurray! This is the good thing. It has the beginnings of Alan Partridge, when he went around asking athletes about their groin strain, and will make you feel nostalgia for the days of John Major and Douglas Hurd. Some of it was repeated in the later TV version, The Day Today. Hurray for Chris Morris! Here are his thoughts on the CERN hadron collider.

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