Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Been at the Beans Again

I love them... but they just don't love me...

As I have mentioned here and here, I love phasoulada, Greek bean soup...or the thicker version - gigandes - you get for starters.... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!

So, along with the excellent spanakopitta T-M made yesterday I also pigged out on gigandes - and am now experiencing the consequences...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Few Random Disjointed Bloggettes

Arthur C. Clarke, and his amazing imagination, died yesterday at the age of 90.
I have read quite a lot of his books from my teens onwards and while I never really, totally liked his writing style, which I sometimes found a bit awkward and bathetic - with the exception of 2001, A Space Odyssey where I think the influence of Stanley Kubrik made a huge difference, his ideas, his visions of the future were breathtakingly imaginative and always based in a sound knowledge and understanding of the current cutting-edge of science. Sometimes I found myself enjoying the explanatory footnotes and references at the end of his books as much as the story itself!

Who has not stood in the kitchen early in the morning or late at night, taken a tub of crunchy, chocolaty, yummy ice cream out of the fridge and felt the strong urge to eat the lot?
Just happened to me - it was a tub of some American crunchy, chocolaty yumminess and I was only stopped from a pig-out by realising that the spoon I was furtively using to dig out little dollops of delight had come from a dishwasher which had not yet washed the dishes... bleeuuugh...

However, I did return some minutes later, when my coffee was ready, with a clean spoon, a teaspoon, and hewed out some very decent and well mannered chunks into a small cup and then, on an impulse, mixed in a spoonful of peanut butter.
Not in the A.C.Clarke category of great ideas... but not bad.

A couple of weeks ago I had a cold; a sort of cold; a cold from a parallel universe maybe (sorry, reading David Deutsch's The Fabric of Reality at the moment); a cold but not a cold... anyway, along with having some unusual effects, it had the standard effect on me of putting me right off coffee and black tea and making me think that peppermint tea was quite a nice drink. This, actually, is a better way to define a cold for me than the effects and symptoms - a sort of Descartian 'I like the idea of drinking peppermint tea, therefore I am sick'.
This 'not liking coffee' continued though; a couple of days, a week, a week and a half... I kept asking myself, 'you do fancy a coffee, don't you?' And the answer would be a puzzled, 'no, actually, I don't!'
Family and friends were starting to get worried about me... in hushed tones they would ask,
'has he still not had a coffee...?'
Well, I am back to liking coffee again now but the strange thing during that time was not the not drinking coffee - I simply didn't want any - but all the time there was a feeling that something was missing, that there was some sort of invisible hole in my morning routine, some sort of black hole, some sort of black coffee hole...
(Cue Zarathustra theme... daa-daa-daaaaaaaaaaaaa - da-daaaaaaaaaaa...)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Linux on ME

My old laptop Lappy is old. Quite the old gentleman among laptops. He runs - or rather limps - with Windows ME; he needs a good few starts to get on his feet and sometimes I think he has something of a slipped hard disk. Any normal person would have got him a bed in a home for the computer aged.

But I have this urge to tinker and keep things going as long as they can – I hate throwing things away just because they don’t work any more (you should see my cellar).

I have been wondering for a while about maybe trying out a Linux operating system as a way to rejuvenate him; this whole Linux thing has fascinated me for a while – such a great concept – and I have been looking for a way to try it out. So, a bit of research last Friday and on Saturday I was busy getting Mandriva One downloaded. I was trying it out on my old PC which has served as a guinea pig on a few occasions. The reviews I read all said things like, ‘Mandriva is ideal for newcomers…’ ‘installed in just a few clicks’, statements which immediately make me suspicious but it was actually dead easy.

You download the OS file, around 400MB, save it on your computer, burn it onto a CD, tell the PC to start from CD-ROM, insert the CD and boot …and there you have it- a ‘live install’ which runs from the CD and doesn’t change your hard disk until and unless you want it to.

And here it is.

When I got my first PC back in 1999 I was a complete e-ignoramus. So much so that I thought you just switched off the PC with the switch at the back when you were finished, like a TV or a light. I remember my daughter Nicky exclaiming, ‘Daddy!!! You have to shut it down!!’ In the meantime, in my tinkery way, I think I know my way around Windows fairly well and I realised early on that you can always use the forums if you need help. Now, the good thing about Windows forums is that you get not only e-ignorami turning up but also absolute doughnuts who start threads like:

Doughnut: My PC won’t run! Can anyone help!!

Windows expert: Have you plugged it in to the power socket?

Doughnut: Oh wow! Great tip!! Now it works fine!!!

And that makes you feel better in a superior ignoramussy way.

With Linux/Mandriva I was a little bit back to those 1999 days. Gingerly feeling my way around a new environment. It has a nice feel to it definitely and you quickly realise this has been created by people who have thought problems through, which I really like.

But the forums…!

In the Linux forums they don’t say ‘have you tried plugging it in’, they all seem to come from the higher world of IT development and programming and reply with stuff like,

‘…extract ndiswrapper sources with the command tar zxvf ndiswrapper-version.tar.gz. This will create ndiswrapper-version directory. Change to that directory and run make uninstall, make Login as root and run make install…’


‘…make sure there is a link to the kernel source from the modules directory. The command ls /lib/modules/`uname -r`/build should have at least 'include' directory and '.config' file…’

This calls for a serious, HUH?

Anyway I am going to persevere. My PC has already managed to connect to the Internet via a Netgear USB adapter which I have had for years and had never worked until Mandriva came along so who knows what else I will discover.

Maybe Lappy will Linux on ME (very bad pun on ‘Lean on Me’ – no? Ok)