We’re into March already! Five things I learned this year so far:
(1) Treat your Mah Jong tiles with respect.
(2) Artists use battery-operated erasers.
(3) In Scotland you get a free bus pass if you’re severely or profoundly deaf. You still have to state your destination, which is not so hot if you have quiet or poor speech.
(4) There are no more photo booths in town. Even that technology seems to have ‘moved on’, at least locally. (Runs from various digital cameras pointed in her direction).
(5) It seems possible to replace just about any part of a blender — including the jug, supposing you broke it. Possibly depends on the model and the manufacturer, but always worth checking.
Mum was tempted by an offer of four trial months of free Sky TV (after £75 initial set-up, delivery of Sky box and installation of mini-dish). So now we have a dish on our house too.
It’s been enjoyable so far, though it’s shocking how little is subtitled, including programmes which are subtitled sometimes, and other times not. They must do something about that, as it seems such a waste of energy and resources.
We have seen The Colour of Magic amongst other things, very good.
A few days after the Sky box was installed, we tried to watch a DVD. Nothing happened… I suspected the DVD was playing but not showing up on the TV screen. I crawled behind the TV and changed the Scart cables around – the Sky guy had placed them so that they both ran from the TV. I put the DVD player in the middle, taking both cables so that the TV had one and the Sky box had the other.
The DVD sprang to life on the TV screen (already part of the way through).
After watching the film, we tried to watch Sky again, and this time Sky wasn’t responding. Again I crawled behind the TV and switched the cables round to Plan C… this time I discovered that it mattered which Scart socket you used! I thought it didn’t matter, but it does. The Sky box has one socket for the TV and another for the video or DVD player, so this time I put the Sky box in the middle, with one cable running to the TV and the other to the DVD player. The sockets on the other units matter as well, but I swapped the Scarts round till I figured out which ones worked.
This time we could watch Sky, and we could also watch a DVD if we switched off the Sky box first. But the Sky picture was green!!
“You’ve lost all the red,” said Mum, accusingly. After a little head-scratching, I crawled behind the TV again and discovered that one of the Scart cables wasn’t as well pushed in as I thought; pushing it all the way in was all that was needed to restore ‘normal’ colour to the TV screen…
We now have a TV set-up we can continue to use.
The excitement wasn’t entirely over, as Mum got a letter saying they were going to start debiting her account at the end of the month… she phoned and said she’s barely even started the four-month trial period she was promised, and they said they accidentally sent out letters saying they would, but they weren’t going to, and Mum’s money is safe for now.
Funny how it’s never easy.
I set my Mac’s desktop picture to change every half hour at random. Life is exciting now – you never know what it’s going to be! I’ve had two violent purple ones already.
My desktop picture folder was tidied up and includes a large selection of old desktops from both Mac and PC, along with a few I made or downloaded from the web. My favourites are the dinosaurs from ITV’s Prehistoric Park. There’s one with a prehistoric croc eyeing a young dinosaur coming down to drink, and I pointed at the croc and said “you’re in MY world, croc, and in MY world you don’t get the dinosaur.”
I’m afraid my world isn’t a very nice one for crocs.
As for the PC’s old desktop pictures, the Mac has been trying them on and laughing wildly. “Look at these old bloomers!” It better watch out, as the PC has stormed off in a huff once already. Well, the Mac probably wouldn’t admit it in a million years, but it rather likes the PC’s old iceberg picture. It promptly chose that one when I said it could pick whatever it liked.
In fact, I’m now feeling guilty for all the years I’ve forced both computers to stick with whichever desktop I told them to use – they must have got very bored.
Anthropomorphism isn’t daft – it’s a curse. You spend so much time feeling sorry for every dead leaf and speck of dust that it’s just horrible. When I was six or seven, I was watching something on TV in which they were testing the wing or tail of a plane. It fell apart and I started weeping. My grandmother asked, “what’s wrong?” and I said I really had no idea. The piece of metal fell apart and it just made me sad. She laughed, and said “they were only testing it.” I’m not sure it made much difference. The world oozes tragedy from every pore.
It’s not a coincidence that Mum ordered a printer so soon after I bought mine. She was going to buy more ink for her old one, and I told her the breakdown of my old printer was a blessing in disguise.
On-line reviews showed that people who were dissatisfied with their printers weren’t even waiting for them to kick the bucket. They checked out the competition and made the switch. It saved time, money and energy in the end. Makes me think of the old adage that we should not throw good money after bad, which is what you are doing if you hate your printer but continue to buy expensive inks for it. Your continued patience probably encourages the manufacturer to assume that the model is a winner.
It took the breakdown of my printer (and subsequent reading of reviews) to challenge my old-fashioned mindset. When I buy something, I expect it to last for years. To me, a printer is no more disposable than the oven. I would want to be relying on it for as long as possible. Anything else seems a sad waste – till one day you wake up and realize the real waste lies in:
- the ink (due to a bad ink-changing system)
- the paper (when the printer makes a mess)
- your time and patience (when a simple printout becomes a battle of wits and takes all day)
- your money
I don’t believe all printers are as bad as that, but I used to – it was all I knew.
There was one other printer I was completely happy with, and was sad to lose when I upgraded my computer. It was the Apple Stylewriter. That never gave me a day’s trouble. It stood upright and claimed very little room, but its reliability was the real plus. I would rather have a huge and reliable printer than a neat and cantankerous one – a simple one that works rather than a complicated one with lots of flashing lights and doodads that keeps me guessing.
I once believed in progress – imagine that! I genuinely believed that updated products were better. I was horrified to find myself buying some real lemons all of a sudden. The items I found reliable and cheap to run fell by the wayside and weren’t available any more. I’ve had particularly bad experiences with fax machines.
I didn’t mean this to turn into a diatribe on so-called technological progress (which feels much more like provide-the-manufacturers-with-undeserved-largesse)… I only looked in to apologize for my recent silence.
Jolly the Trolley is still going strong. The other day Mum gave me a lift, and she took Jolly out to the car while I locked my door. I hurried out, flung open the passenger door, and found Jolly sitting in my seat, firmly strapped in.
Well, if he can remember to buckle up, so can everybody else.
Thursday 28th September
It was nearly 5 and I was starting to give up on my new printer – then the courier came. He strode purposefully past my window with a large dark green box in his arms. Not wanting to keep him waiting, nor yet seem too eager, and not wishing to rush outside with open arms just in case he strode up a neighbour’s path instead, I jumped up and galloped out into the hall. There I stopped, and tiptoed a little nearer to the door, grimacing when a panel in the floor clunked noisily. I ran my fingers through my hair, straightened my shirt, and waited.
The bell rang, filled with slight reproach, as though to say, “I hoped you would be waiting right here.” Like something let off the leash, I scurried to the door and yanked it open.
“You are…?” he glanced at my face and saw from my look of happy expectancy that I was. The box was placed in the porch and he stepped forward to hand me a little machine for signing a digital squiggle.
“Ooch!” he said suddenly, dabbing at his face and plucking something away.
“Oh” – I said, apologetically. “It’s the cobweb.” I had seen a small brown spider spinning its home across the entrance a few days ago but had done nothing about it. I hoped the spider was alright.
I signed my squiggle and thanked him, and off he went. As he passed the porch, he looked back and gave me a wide grin. I smiled, but wondered if he was laughing at there being a cobweb across the entrance to my lair.
I dragged the box into the house. It was unexpectedly heavy. My old printer was as light as a bubble. I tore off the dark green bag and there was a very strong cardboard box inside, with pictures all over it.
My Canon printer.
Humming happily, I opened up the box, pulled out some ink cartridges, a print head in a bag, some leaflets, a CD, a CD-Rom tray, a mains cable, and a packet of postcard-sized photo paper. I placed them all on the desk to one side, and one of the ink cartridges promptly fell on the floor.
“Rats,” I said, “bet the instruction manual says ‘do not drop the ink cartridges.'”
Somehow I wrestled the printer out of the box and got it up on the desk between the two computers. The sloth and I sat and looked at it. It wasn’t just heavy, it was huge. Big and heavy, to me, means strong and solid, demanding respect. My last printer felt like a child’s toy, and skidded across the desk if nudged.
“Um,” said the sloth, “I think you’ve put it the wrong way round.”
“What?” I stared hard at the printer. “Oh. I think you’re right. Well, while we’re looking at its rear end, we might as well check where all the sockets are.”
We had a close look.
“Yes, the main cable goes in… there. And… er… that’s for the USB cable.”
I was using my old printer’s USB lead and was relieved when it fitted exactly. It was already attached to the iMac as I hadn’t disconnected it after the demise of the original printer. Turned the printer round and plugged it in without turning it on at the mains. Grabbed the Quick Start Guide and began reading eagerly.
It said the computer must NOT be on.
Ulp. I hastily powered it down and turned it off at the mains, then resumed reading.
It said I shouldn’t drop the ink cartridges, and should store them out of the reach of small children. “Ha!” I thought. “I don’t have any small children! I’m alright there – smuggity smug.”
Something moved next to my chair. Sharky was peering up at me with his sharp oriental face, preparing to leap onto my knee.
“No! Gerrout of here! These are tricky operations!”
Sharky thought I couldn’t possibly mean it, and gathered his haunches under him, preparing to spring. I half-stood, and he took the hint and left the room, his tail twitching with annoyance.
Somehow I got the print head installed, after slight confusion about what and where the print head was. After multiple repeated exhortations from the manual not to touch electrical contacts or anything inside the printer, my hands were shaking. Trying not to touch anything at all, I placed the first ink cartridge in its slot. It scraped slightly and I paused, feeling as though I was trying to disarm an explosive device. I seized the cartridge again and began to click it into place.
“Me eat naow!” cried a voice behind me, very loudly, and I jumped out of my skin. The red lamp in the printer flickered on.
“Fusspot, please! I’m busy!”
The Siamese cat turned and walked away, grumbling to himself.
I was only setting up the printer for 40 minutes or so but it felt like an eternity. I was convinced every move I made would damage the printer or one of its bits. When I finally put the paper in and printed my first page, it was much crisper than a similar printout by my old printer, and I was delighted.
What a palaver setting it up – but I love it.
Edit Feb 2008: Comments for this entry when it was on Blogigo:
1. Pacian wrote at Sep 30, 2006 at 21:59:
I’m going to attempt some html…
Sharky thought I couldn’t possibly mean it, and gathered his haunches under him, preparing to spring.
I know a cat just like that. Even if you shoo him away, he comes back a few seconds later. Once he’s got it into his mind to jump onto something he’s normally allowed to, he absolutely *has* to do it, even if he jumps back down a few seconds later.
2. Pacian wrote at Sep 30, 2006 at 22:01:
Failure! My beloved phasis tags, unrecognised!
3. Diddums wrote at Oct 1, 2006 at 14:32:
Bad luck about the failed tags!
Cats seem to think ‘no’ will turn into ‘yes’ two minutes later and that we can have no good reason for stopping them from sitting where they like. Maybe it’s partly our fault for saying ‘no’ and then feeling twinges of guilt at their woebegone faces and scooping them up for a big hug. And maybe that was their aim all along…
I was kept up all night by Microsoft Word. Even when you think you understand it and can find your way around it, doing things other people don’t even know Word can do, it still has the ability to baffle. I looked up a few ‘Word help’ sites on-line, but they don’t say very much, are too basic, and are chirpy and cheerful at a time when I’m keen to wring someone’s neck.
I enjoy the challenge of reducing a wild, fighting document to something pliant and beautiful, but when I think of all the time and sleep I’ve lost, and the frantic rush just before a printing deadline when everybody’s waiting for me to come up with the goods, and Word isn’t letting me do something that should never have been a problem in the first place… that makes me quite angry.
My printer broke down in the middle of it all. No, actually, I was glad. I’m usually upset when things of mine break (I don’t know when I last broke a mug) but I didn’t like this printer. Even as I turned away from its rapidly cooling corpse and my forehead met the desk with a thump, I thought to myself “I can buy a new printer now. And it won’t be the same make!”
I lifted my forehead off the desk and pointed my mouse in the direction of Amazon.
Not just because I’m a shopaholic who was fed to the back teeth with her old printer anyway, but because I felt bad about it and wanted to leave that moment behind. Move on, move on, move on. Get from a bad place to a good one. Despair begone and hope enter in. I didn’t want to fork out for a new printer, which was partly why I was upset, but let’s just get one and get it over with.
In fact there’s such a bewildering choice out there it took me two nights. I talked to everyone and read all the reviews and shopped around from site to site. I stared at pictures and thought about what I needed. I narrowed my shortlist to two printers – one laser and one inkjet – and they were so much the opposite of each other in their pros and cons that I couldn’t decide! I slept on it, hoping for a definite decision during the night, but in the morning was still irresolute. So I bought the one I wanted instead of the one I thought I should probably get. I bought the Canon inkjet.
Those two nights – it was a good thing I held back, as the price came down while I was staring at it. The other printer held its price steady.
I’m looking forward to it so much that just now I went back to Amazon and pulled down its picture just so I could stare lovingly at it. I showed it to Sharky, who was sitting on my knee. “Look – there’s our new printer.” He looked at it for a few minutes while I clicked back and forth between views, but he didn’t seem very impressed. I downloaded one of the photos so I could admire it when I leave the site. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before, not for a printer. Not for anything other than a kitten or a teddy bear.
Maybe I just needed something to smile over and look forward to. I’m not down in the dumps; just tired. It’s one of those times when things are breaking down all around you – the PC’s hard drive packed up recently, taking a handful of pretty graphics with it, and I’m still waiting for a replacement. I didn’t particularly miss the PC, sitting blank and empty beside me, but today it hit me that I miss Paintshop Pro.
Edit Feb 2008: Comments for this entry when it was on Blogigo:
1. drifting wrote at Sep 27, 2006 at 09:05:
Word drives me nuts sometimes. Microsoft applications are not particularly ‘user-friendly’. I get so sick of the auto-formatting that Word insists on doing when it thinks it knows what I want. Excel’s help is not very helpful. Access is a nightmare. I need a new harddrive but just can’t afford it at the moment with the car bill coming up….
It is nice to get that document obedient, though. Just takes a lot of frustration!
2. drifting wrote at Sep 27, 2006 at 09:07:
Btw, I have to say I thought your title meant you’d meant a human printer… hehehe! It’s probably just as well to fall in love with an inanimate object – less hassle!
3. Diddums wrote at Sep 27, 2006 at 20:07:
That would be a match made in heaven, wouldn’t it – an editor and a printer! Even better if it was a writer and a printer.
What I find with Word help is it tells you stuff you know already – the troubleshooting information is thin on the ground. It seems to assume you won’t or can’t get into trouble. Or maybe they don’t want to have a huge troubleshooting section in case people think it reflects on the product! It doesn’t really, especially if it tells you what was going wrong in the first place. Then you would go “ah – silly me,” and fix it. I wish…
I’m more relaxed about Internet blips than I used to be. Previously, if I was trying to check email or surf only to be disconnected or cut off with a spate of error messages, I was enraged! My suspicion was always that there was a nasty gremlin saying “let’s disconnect that there Diddums, just for fun! Chortle.”
Right now I’ve been chased away with several unintelligible error messages and an unexpected disconnection. Instead of promptly dialling up again (cough) I deleted some of the old mail cluttering up my mailboxes then stared out at the rain. I could check again now, but rather than continue to wrestle with a system that might still be malfunctioning, I should take the chance to get a bite of lunch.
Maybe a soft white roll spread with Dairylea cheese? I could read my fantasy book – The Stone and the Flute by Hans Bemmann. There’s a man in it who can’t speak as others do, but he communicates using his flute. “Is your master dumb?” people keep asking, and his servant responds “yes – or at least, he can’t speak with words.”
After lunch and another chapter, I should walk Thundercloud, rain or not. In this weather I doubt if we’ll be meeting anybody hunting for Morrisons in the woods. Yesterday it must have been a fairy and her child, out for a bit of sun and a laugh.
Where does this conviction come from – that the world is out to get me? I suspect I’m not alone in such thinking. The truth is, the world is only interested in its own problems, and that’s bad enough. I’ve suggested here that I’m mellowing with age, but it’s a slow process. Today I’m calm and reasonable, but tomorrow I could be clawing my way up the walls again. So I have a question. Do people mellow with age – or do they simply resign themselves to fate?