izmeina: (Default)
The inner serpent got let off her leash today. Not before time too.

Still undecided between waiting for a special deal on some cheap and cheerful smartphone and losing most of the recent month’s top up or just biting the bullet and getting one this week while there’s still some coins in the piggy bank.
I googled most of the phones in my price range and they scored pretty dismally. Of course the geeks who write these sorts of column most likely have some $1,000 gadget in their pocket so anything less than $700 would be an appalling abomination in their eyes let alone the 50 −80 silver sickles that this serpent has in mind.

There was one at a post office that caught my eye on Friday. I guess I could have asked then but Izzie is not a creature comfortable making quick decisions. Too many ‘What if’s and “If only’s” to take into account and anyway I wanted time to consult the Oracle of Google again for more inspiration (and procrastination)

It got many reviews as being one of the best of the budget models and far better than anything I had seen so far. So the inner serpent decided that today was the time to take a second look. After attending to bills and other boring things, I asked the postal clerk if the phone was locked to a network which it wasn’t. That was the make or break bit . I hadn’t seen it on the shelves of any other post offices so it was likely to be the phone version of a bin end. At least with wine there is only one vintage per year. It seems that the phone manufacturers bring out a new model every 3 months.
No point in waiting for the newest supermarket catalogues like originally planned because they might have nothing and if they do it will not be as good and every day that goes by erodes the remaining days on the prepaid voucher.
I nearly died of shock when she scanned the phone and instead of the expected 99, she says that it’s a half price special.
That was very good luck indeed for if the reduced price had been displayed in the window, it would have been gone long ago.

So now I have got the phone I wanted without losing too much prepaid time. So the evening will be devoted to shuffling sim cards, charging batteries and doing other set up stuff and hoping that it will not take 3 hours like it did the first time around last April. After all, there’s a whole bunch of tasty morsels of Goblin Porn from Panama to drool over.

For the third time I get to download that green glowing Scrabble app and here’s hoping that it doesn’t disappear into another black hole for a long long time.
izmeina: (oro)
The inner serpent got let off her leash today. Not before time too.

Still undecided between waiting for a special deal on some cheap and cheerful smartphone and losing most of the recent month’s top up or just biting the bullet and getting one this week while there’s still some coins in the piggy bank.
I googled most of the phones in my price range and they scored pretty dismally. Of course the geeks who write these sorts of column most likely have some $1,000 gadget in their pocket so anything less than $700 would be an appalling abomination in their eyes let alone the 50 −80 silver sickles that this serpent has in mind.

There was one at a post office that caught my eye on Friday. I guess I could have asked then but Izzie is not a creature comfortable making quick decisions. Too many ‘What if’s and “If only’s” to take into account and anyway I wanted time to consult the Oracle of Google again for more inspiration (and procrastination)

It got many reviews as being one of the best of the budget models and far better than anything I had seen so far. So the inner serpent decided that today was the time to take a second look. After attending to bills and other boring things, I asked the postal clerk if the phone was locked to a network which it wasn’t. That was the make or break bit . I hadn’t seen it on the shelves of any other post offices so it was likely to be the phone version of a bin end. At least with wine there is only one vintage per year. It seems that the phone manufacturers bring out a new model every 3 months.
No point in waiting for the newest supermarket catalogues like originally planned because they might have nothing and if they do it will not be as good and every day that goes by erodes the remaining days on the prepaid voucher.
I nearly died of shock when she scanned the phone and instead of the expected 99, she says that it’s a half price special.
That was very good luck indeed for if the reduced price had been displayed in the window, it would have been gone long ago.

So now I have got the phone I wanted without losing too much prepaid time. So the evening will be devoted to shuffling sim cards, charging batteries and doing other set up stuff and hoping that it will not take 3 hours like it did the first time around last April. After all, there’s a whole bunch of tasty morsels of Goblin Porn from Panama to drool over.

For the third time I get to download that green glowing Scrabble app and here’s hoping that it doesn’t disappear into another black hole for a long long time.
izmeina: (Default)
The Witching Hour for the Goblins of Oz fast approaches. At the stroke of midnight a bright shiny new Financial Year begins. Just the perfect excuse for a certain serpent to dust off the cobwebs and make a squeaky clean new start.

It is the ideal time to do a Scrooge makeover. This involves an unusual but very useful ritual observed for many many moons now. The habit of recording every single cent spent encourages mindfulness with money. But there are other side effects. The easiest way to do this is to replay the day's activities at the end of the day and write down all transactions in the order they occur.
As well as remembering the day's events it means that months or even years later I can look at the list for a given day and remember it in remarkable detail.
It also means never being sucked in by all those scary so called financial advisors telling folks that they'll need tons of loot in retirement and then offering some dodgy get rich scheme to get there.

Since squiggling in the Scrooge book is an almost daily ritual, it is also the obvious place for putting appointments, interesting events, names and addresses and a whole bunch of assorted notes.

Had tried many times to use another diary devoted to all this other stuff but it always falls by the wayside.
The local cheapskate shop had a stash of 2014/2015 diaries last week. Some of them were A5 size with one day to a page. One week for two pages is simply not enough space. When some of the daily diaries were mistakenly marked with the $3 price tag reserved for the weekly version, it was a temptation too great to resist. There's a section of each page devoted to appointments and even a to do list at the top for each day with space for ten things and nice little ticky boxes for each one.

So today was a most auspicious occasion for the big switch. Just to get into the spirit of things, even devoted the first blank pages to listing a bunch of "New Year's Resolutions" all devoted to goblin business.

Also been busy setting up a new Scrivener file for July Camp Nano and playing around with Evernote. Very happy to find that it is possible to write notes and save as you go offline. It solves the problem of not being able to copy and paste using the tablet. It's even possible to take pictures and store them as notes or to draw scrawling scribbles. It would be wonderful if the software could actually decipher serpent squiggles since one finger typing is such a pain.
Since there seems to be not an advert to be seen, still trying to work out how Evernote manages to make money. Here's guessing some folks sign up for the premium service. Not sure what extras they get since the basic version seems to have lots of useful fun stuff.

Maybe they have secret sponsors at the CIA and NSA.

In any case it is still a never ending source of amazement all the useful free stuff that is out there these days. MOOCs, books and apps are just the tip of the online iceberg. So many toys. So little time.
izmeina: Strange Spiral Clock (Time Turner)
The Witching Hour for the Goblins of Oz fast approaches. At the stroke of midnight a bright shiny new Financial Year begins. Just the perfect excuse for a certain serpent to dust off the cobwebs and make a squeaky clean new start.

It is the ideal time to do a Scrooge makeover. This involves an unusual but very useful ritual observed for many many moons now. The habit of recording every single cent spent encourages mindfulness with money. But there are other side effects. The easiest way to do this is to replay the day's activities at the end of the day and write down all transactions in the order they occur.
As well as remembering the day's events it means that months or even years later I can look at the list for a given day and remember it in remarkable detail.
It also means never being sucked in by all those scary so called financial advisors telling folks that they'll need tons of loot in retirement and then offering some dodgy get rich scheme to get there.

Since squiggling in the Scrooge book is an almost daily ritual, it is also the obvious place for putting appointments, interesting events, names and addresses and a whole bunch of assorted notes.

Had tried many times to use another diary devoted to all this other stuff but it always falls by the wayside.
The local cheapskate shop had a stash of 2014/2015 diaries last week. Some of them were A5 size with one day to a page. One week for two pages is simply not enough space. When some of the daily diaries were mistakenly marked with the $3 price tag reserved for the weekly version, it was a temptation too great to resist. There's a section of each page devoted to appointments and even a to do list at the top for each day with space for ten things and nice little ticky boxes for each one.

So today was a most auspicious occasion for the big switch. Just to get into the spirit of things, even devoted the first blank pages to listing a bunch of "New Year's Resolutions" all devoted to goblin business.

Also been busy setting up a new Scrivener file for July Camp Nano and playing around with Evernote. Very happy to find that it is possible to write notes and save as you go offline. It solves the problem of not being able to copy and paste using the tablet. It's even possible to take pictures and store them as notes or to draw scrawling scribbles. It would be wonderful if the software could actually decipher serpent squiggles since one finger typing is such a pain.
Since there seems to be not an advert to be seen, still trying to work out how Evernote manages to make money. Here's guessing some folks sign up for the premium service. Not sure what extras they get since the basic version seems to have lots of useful fun stuff.

Maybe they have secret sponsors at the CIA and NSA.

In any case it is still a never ending source of amazement all the useful free stuff that is out there these days. MOOCs, books and apps are just the tip of the online iceberg. So many toys. So little time.
izmeina: (Default)
It’s scary to think that it’s exactly 6 months between last Christmas and the next one. At least the weather is gorgeous and there’s no chance of the mercury melting at 40 celsius at this time of year in Oz.
There’s just too much weird stuff and so little time to squiggle about it.

The fun started last Wednesday with an invitation to a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. It was a fund raising event for the Alzheimers Association. It was the perfect opportunity to dress up as Dolores Umbridge and wear one very special Cthulhu hat. It’s a tough job being the Queen of Hearts but some one has to do it.
Curiouser and curiouser )
izmeina: a spooky blue Cthulhu brandishing wicked weapons (pen and paintbrush) (Cthulhu)
It’s scary to think that it’s exactly 6 months between last Christmas and the next one. At least the weather is gorgeous and there’s no chance of the mercury melting at 40 celsius at this time of year in Oz.
There’s just too much weird stuff and so little time to squiggle about it.

The fun started last Wednesday with an invitation to a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. It was a fund raising event for the Alzheimers Association. It was the perfect opportunity to dress up as Dolores Umbridge and wear one very special Cthulhu hat. It’s a tough job being the Queen of Hearts but some one has to do it.
Curiouser and curiouser )
izmeina: (Default)
For the first time in four years, the serpent is squiggling at a spotless desk. Out with the piles of accumulated junk, the paper jungle, piles of books and tarot decks and a mish mash of unsorted CDs. Even the ink pots and pretty pens had to go and the zombie guardian of the Big Mac has been given a few days off duty.

It started ever so innocently with the resurrection of a strange item snaffled at a charity shop. It folds up like a concertina and is designed to hang from a wardrobe rail. While being the perfect shape and size for books, their weight would result in a serious wardrobe malfunction. But there was no reason the 8 compartments could not be used to store an assortment of quirky hats. Much neater and more accessible than their usual lurking ground on the top shelf of the same wardrobe. Next move in this game of musical objects was to use the new space for disks, DVDs and other digital gadgets.

This was the perfect opportunity to start again from scratch. Simply get everything off the desk and give the old Mac a bit of a dust and wipe and worry about the sorting later. That was the map. But once started and getting into the swing of things, it was time to make the most of this unusual mood.

The Izzie sister will be visiting in July so it’s finally time to make some sort of effort. After all the usual CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) is a piss poor excuse to keep some one away who has travelled half way around the planet to get to the Lair. Privet Drive is the main attraction but the Lair will also be on the visiting list.
It’s funny how reading “The Ring” that Japanese story about a definitely dodgy video tape has also added an extra incentive. The Japanese are famous for living in shoe boxes so small that they hire suitcases to go on holidays because there is no space in their flats to store such indulgent luxuries.
And there’s Izzie with all that space and simply wasting it with chaos and clutter.

So now a bunch of CDs and a couple dozen DVDs are sitting on the bed waiting to be sorted. Most of the tarot decks have been assigned to the upstairs linen closet where they now lurk with lots of books.
The real trick will be resisting the siren call of all that stuff as it attempts to sneak back to fill up all that bright shiny clean desk real estate.

Once again it is an external deadline that proves to be the most potent source of serpent motivation. Must make the most of the moment before the usual inertia returns with a vengeance.
izmeina: Roz with clipboard from Monsters Inc (monsters inc)
For the first time in four years, the serpent is squiggling at a spotless desk. Out with the piles of accumulated junk, the paper jungle, piles of books and tarot decks and a mish mash of unsorted CDs. Even the ink pots and pretty pens had to go and the zombie guardian of the Big Mac has been given a few days off duty.

It started ever so innocently with the resurrection of a strange item snaffled at a charity shop. It folds up like a concertina and is designed to hang from a wardrobe rail. While being the perfect shape and size for books, their weight would result in a serious wardrobe malfunction. But there was no reason the 8 compartments could not be used to store an assortment of quirky hats. Much neater and more accessible than their usual lurking ground on the top shelf of the same wardrobe. Next move in this game of musical objects was to use the new space for disks, DVDs and other digital gadgets.

This was the perfect opportunity to start again from scratch. Simply get everything off the desk and give the old Mac a bit of a dust and wipe and worry about the sorting later. That was the map. But once started and getting into the swing of things, it was time to make the most of this unusual mood.

The Izzie sister will be visiting in July so it’s finally time to make some sort of effort. After all the usual CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) is a piss poor excuse to keep some one away who has travelled half way around the planet to get to the Lair. Privet Drive is the main attraction but the Lair will also be on the visiting list.
It’s funny how reading “The Ring” that Japanese story about a definitely dodgy video tape has also added an extra incentive. The Japanese are famous for living in shoe boxes so small that they hire suitcases to go on holidays because there is no space in their flats to store such indulgent luxuries.
And there’s Izzie with all that space and simply wasting it with chaos and clutter.

So now a bunch of CDs and a couple dozen DVDs are sitting on the bed waiting to be sorted. Most of the tarot decks have been assigned to the upstairs linen closet where they now lurk with lots of books.
The real trick will be resisting the siren call of all that stuff as it attempts to sneak back to fill up all that bright shiny clean desk real estate.

Once again it is an external deadline that proves to be the most potent source of serpent motivation. Must make the most of the moment before the usual inertia returns with a vengeance.

Geek Week

Aug. 13th, 2013 10:00 pm
izmeina: (Default)
August is always a fun month in this bit of Oz. It’s the time of year when the universities are out spruiking for new customers. They do this using open days where the best toys are on show to the general public. These event are held on several Sundays over August.
And then there’s National Science Week which is a festival of geekish delights most of which are free.

It started with a big bang last Saturday at the city’s cultural centre. One of the guests was a Dr Chris Smith and his Naked Scientist travelling magical show. Would have gone to see this guy anyway because he has a way of explaining the most obscure and esoteric research into terms that normal folks can understand. So just assumed it would be a bunch of talking heads talking about the uses of science
Was it ever a surprise to see tables decked with bunsen burners, test tubes, large vats of liquid nitrogen and an assortment of intriguing ingredients

There were so many bright and shiny glow in the dark liquids and big fat very noisy bangs that it was pretty much a one hour lesson on do it yourself bomb making.

Particularly impressive was the little plastic coke bottle less than quarter filled with liquid nitrogen. Chris Smith put the little red lid on the top of the bottle and put it in a big wheelie bin, closed the lid and put a blanket on top. And then just sat back and waited. Within a minute there was a big bang and the lid of the wheelie bin flew up.
Then there was the ‘nuclear’ bazooka made of pipes and powered by a vacuum cleaner that fired six rounds in quick succession, the light bulb in the microwave and the very nasty ‘electric chair’ for gherkins made with two forks.

Liquid nitrogen is such cool stuff that it is the main stay of just about every science display at the university open days. Particularly gross were the eggs poached in liquid nitrogen. The idea that an egg could cook at room temperature or lower was quite amazing. But they did look rather rubbery and inedible. The students even let volunteers stick their fingers in a big plastic container of this bubbling liquid as long as they did it quickly. Rings on fingers were a no no.

In spite of seeing bouncy rubber balls go all brittle after a nitrogen bath or how frosted flowers would just crumble into flakes, could not resist the temptation. Especially as the students doing the demonstrations would stick their own fingers in to prove they would not fall off. Mind you they were using big black padded gloves when pouring the stuff or submerging assorted objects in the liquid.
It did not feel like liquid at all. That’s apparently because the heat from a hand is sufficient to form a protective layer of gas around it literally like a glove. But the magic protective effect does not last very long.
The other favourite use for this steamy stuff is for making icecream. Some one has even started a business doing this very thing. They were offering demonstrations and teeny weeny samples of their wares on Saturday at the opening day event

Then it was time to peek at the assortment of magnets, spinning eggs and the bouncing aluminium rings before slowly slinking off to see the chemistry magic show at 3pm at the other end of the campus
In two weeks time the State Chemistry Centre will put on its own show with the usual stuff like demonstrations of clandestine meth lab busting and tours of the forensic science departments. All under strict supervision with the public kept on the other side of the glass.
At least this year there’s no need to go rushing off around 1pm in order to get to work on time for 3pm on weekends.

Next Sunday there’ll be another chance to catch those anarchic naked scientists at yet another one of those university open days

It’s guaranteed to be a lot more interesting than the pathetic pair touring the country begging for votes.

Geek Week

Aug. 13th, 2013 10:00 pm
izmeina: Strange Spiral Clock (Time Turner)
August is always a fun month in this bit of Oz. It’s the time of year when the universities are out spruiking for new customers. They do this using open days where the best toys are on show to the general public. These event are held on several Sundays over August.
And then there’s National Science Week which is a festival of geekish delights most of which are free.

It started with a big bang last Saturday at the city’s cultural centre. One of the guests was a Dr Chris Smith and his Naked Scientist travelling magical show. Would have gone to see this guy anyway because he has a way of explaining the most obscure and esoteric research into terms that normal folks can understand. So just assumed it would be a bunch of talking heads talking about the uses of science
Was it ever a surprise to see tables decked with bunsen burners, test tubes, large vats of liquid nitrogen and an assortment of intriguing ingredients

There were so many bright and shiny glow in the dark liquids and big fat very noisy bangs that it was pretty much a one hour lesson on do it yourself bomb making.

Particularly impressive was the little plastic coke bottle less than quarter filled with liquid nitrogen. Chris Smith put the little red lid on the top of the bottle and put it in a big wheelie bin, closed the lid and put a blanket on top. And then just sat back and waited. Within a minute there was a big bang and the lid of the wheelie bin flew up.
Then there was the ‘nuclear’ bazooka made of pipes and powered by a vacuum cleaner that fired six rounds in quick succession, the light bulb in the microwave and the very nasty ‘electric chair’ for gherkins made with two forks.

Liquid nitrogen is such cool stuff that it is the main stay of just about every science display at the university open days. Particularly gross were the eggs poached in liquid nitrogen. The idea that an egg could cook at room temperature or lower was quite amazing. But they did look rather rubbery and inedible. The students even let volunteers stick their fingers in a big plastic container of this bubbling liquid as long as they did it quickly. Rings on fingers were a no no.

In spite of seeing bouncy rubber balls go all brittle after a nitrogen bath or how frosted flowers would just crumble into flakes, could not resist the temptation. Especially as the students doing the demonstrations would stick their own fingers in to prove they would not fall off. Mind you they were using big black padded gloves when pouring the stuff or submerging assorted objects in the liquid.
It did not feel like liquid at all. That’s apparently because the heat from a hand is sufficient to form a protective layer of gas around it literally like a glove. But the magic protective effect does not last very long.
The other favourite use for this steamy stuff is for making icecream. Some one has even started a business doing this very thing. They were offering demonstrations and teeny weeny samples of their wares on Saturday at the opening day event

Then it was time to peek at the assortment of magnets, spinning eggs and the bouncing aluminium rings before slowly slinking off to see the chemistry magic show at 3pm at the other end of the campus
In two weeks time the State Chemistry Centre will put on its own show with the usual stuff like demonstrations of clandestine meth lab busting and tours of the forensic science departments. All under strict supervision with the public kept on the other side of the glass.
At least this year there’s no need to go rushing off around 1pm in order to get to work on time for 3pm on weekends.

Next Sunday there’ll be another chance to catch those anarchic naked scientists at yet another one of those university open days

It’s guaranteed to be a lot more interesting than the pathetic pair touring the country begging for votes.
izmeina: (Default)
It is now three weeks since the serpent started a certain taxation course. This is supposed to be a not so free pass out of house elf servitude and a feeble attempt to start a new life on The Dark Side

A true sign of the utter evilness was the requirement to be in possession of a Windoze laptop as the goblin software was incompatible with any other operating system. Most peeved indeed was the Izzie. Any cold hard cash to be spent on tech gadgets would have been better devoted to an upgrade of the ancient 2002 little red Nokia or preferably some cute bright shiny new tablet thingie.

So had been on the prowl since mid January for something cheap and cheerful with a deadline of two days before start of class on Thursday 21st February. The cute little silver touch screen ASUS 11 inch model that seemed the best compromise between portability, price and performance got a big F due to the absence of a DVD drive. Oh it was so easy to be tempted to upgrade from the under $500 budget to some bright shiny sparkly blingish thing but this serpent resisted. After all anything with Windoze would only ever be a Portkey of last resort due to the inherent awfulness

Had eyed up a couple of Acers but the geeks at Whirlpool said that anything from Acer is a pile of shit and they have appalling after sales service. They also like to indulge in dodgy cash back gimmicks. Been there and done that already with Apple back in 2005 and it left a most sour taste indeed

In the end had to settle for a Toshiba with an AMD processor even slower than the infamous Celery. After all this was supposed to be some basic workhorse model. Being windoze it would most definitely be not advisable to do much online due to the risk of all sorts of nasty viral infections. But Murphy’s Law declares that no matter how long and how hard you look the minute you buy some gadget it will be on sale a week later. Yesss. The very same computer was $50 cheaper the very next week in Dick Smith. But even worse they had a new ASUS model with a DVD drive with a proper Pentium Intel chip and 4GB ram for the same price the serpent paid for the pissy little AMD device. Was most peeved indeed

At this stage the class had already started and the teacher had gotten through three pages of putting stuff in the database while Izzie was still waiting for the infernal thing to load. Was ever so peeved. At this rate would need to turn the infernal thing on some 30 minutes before start of class. So along with the frustrating efforts at learning the ins and outs of Windoze 8 there was nothing but disdain for this infernal machine. The fact that another student also had problems getting the thing to start counted for nothing

Then finding the junk mail leaflets will all those Dick Smith specials two days later just added insult to injury. It was only the second visit to do the assigned homework that changed things a teeny weeny bit. This time it took less than a minute for the thing to load. Maybe the first time is different. So this nasty little black Goblin box turns out to be suitable for its intended purpose after all. But the one or two attempts at doing stuff online were an exercise in frustration. Could not install Google Chrome quick enough to avoid the awfulness that is Evilnet explorer and quick on this snailish goblin box turned out to be a good 40 minutes. But that could also be due to the wonderful internet connection courtesy of Vodafail

This Windoze 8 trail of trashy tiles was so obviously an attempt to catch up on the whole Smartphone apps thing. Even turning the infernal thing off is a bit of a ritual. It seems designed to be used as a touch screen and using the more basic laptop track pad is rather an exercise in frustration. Finding the path to invoke the off button is a right little ritual in itself. Its appearance seems to be rather random

Figured it might be possible to use this black goblin box for next month’s Camp Nano squiggling but then thinks that there is most likely no already installed word processing program. Not even some basic text edit gadget.
A bit more poking about revealed a pretty basic program that uses RTF so at least it is compatible with the Big Mac. There seems to be no autosave so that sucks. Must test transferring a few files with a USB stick before spending too much time with the thing
Anyway after becoming addicted to Scrivener, everything else is not worth the bother. Will stick to the tried and true rituals of plotting, planning. outlining and old fashioned emerald ink squiggling away from the desktop and then typing up the day’s inspiration some time at night.

The course itself is quite interesting. Was ever so amused at the special categories of tax deductions including the list of things that sex workers can claim against tax which include condoms, frilly knickers, make up, laundry and wages to pay bodyguards

It sure helps to be doing DIY tax returns for the last 19 plus years. Loving that the software that does all the hard work. Figured it might be a good idea to add a certain serpent to the database along with all the hypothetical homework clients. So adding bits as they come along meaning that for once there will be no last minute rush to have the infernal thing completed by the witching hour on 31st October. This week we were doing employment termination payments so that will be most relevant indeed

There are a handful of nuts in this class but will save that sad saga for another day. It is such a pity the text book and tax legislation that we are supposed to bring every week along with the laptop weigh half a ton. It means having to return straight to the Lair after the class to dump the infernal things
There’s a big barn garden store just across the road so it sucks the logistics of lugging all that stuff about makes a visit very impractical
izmeina: Roz with clipboard from Monsters Inc (monsters inc)
It is now three weeks since the serpent started a certain taxation course. This is supposed to be a not so free pass out of house elf servitude and a feeble attempt to start a new life on The Dark Side

A true sign of the utter evilness was the requirement to be in possession of a Windoze laptop as the goblin software was incompatible with any other operating system. Most peeved indeed was the Izzie. Any cold hard cash to be spent on tech gadgets would have been better devoted to an upgrade of the ancient 2002 little red Nokia or preferably some cute bright shiny new tablet thingie.

So had been on the prowl since mid January for something cheap and cheerful with a deadline of two days before start of class on Thursday 21st February. The cute little silver touch screen ASUS 11 inch model that seemed the best compromise between portability, price and performance got a big F due to the absence of a DVD drive. Oh it was so easy to be tempted to upgrade from the under $500 budget to some bright shiny sparkly blingish thing but this serpent resisted. After all anything with Windoze would only ever be a Portkey of last resort due to the inherent awfulness

Had eyed up a couple of Acers but the geeks at Whirlpool said that anything from Acer is a pile of shit and they have appalling after sales service. They also like to indulge in dodgy cash back gimmicks. Been there and done that already with Apple back in 2005 and it left a most sour taste indeed

In the end had to settle for a Toshiba with an AMD processor even slower than the infamous Celery. After all this was supposed to be some basic workhorse model. Being windoze it would most definitely be not advisable to do much online due to the risk of all sorts of nasty viral infections. But Murphy’s Law declares that no matter how long and how hard you look the minute you buy some gadget it will be on sale a week later. Yesss. The very same computer was $50 cheaper the very next week in Dick Smith. But even worse they had a new ASUS model with a DVD drive with a proper Pentium Intel chip and 4GB ram for the same price the serpent paid for the pissy little AMD device. Was most peeved indeed

At this stage the class had already started and the teacher had gotten through three pages of putting stuff in the database while Izzie was still waiting for the infernal thing to load. Was ever so peeved. At this rate would need to turn the infernal thing on some 30 minutes before start of class. So along with the frustrating efforts at learning the ins and outs of Windoze 8 there was nothing but disdain for this infernal machine. The fact that another student also had problems getting the thing to start counted for nothing

Then finding the junk mail leaflets will all those Dick Smith specials two days later just added insult to injury. It was only the second visit to do the assigned homework that changed things a teeny weeny bit. This time it took less than a minute for the thing to load. Maybe the first time is different. So this nasty little black Goblin box turns out to be suitable for its intended purpose after all. But the one or two attempts at doing stuff online were an exercise in frustration. Could not install Google Chrome quick enough to avoid the awfulness that is Evilnet explorer and quick on this snailish goblin box turned out to be a good 40 minutes. But that could also be due to the wonderful internet connection courtesy of Vodafail

This Windoze 8 trail of trashy tiles was so obviously an attempt to catch up on the whole Smartphone apps thing. Even turning the infernal thing off is a bit of a ritual. It seems designed to be used as a touch screen and using the more basic laptop track pad is rather an exercise in frustration. Finding the path to invoke the off button is a right little ritual in itself. Its appearance seems to be rather random

Figured it might be possible to use this black goblin box for next month’s Camp Nano squiggling but then thinks that there is most likely no already installed word processing program. Not even some basic text edit gadget.
A bit more poking about revealed a pretty basic program that uses RTF so at least it is compatible with the Big Mac. There seems to be no autosave so that sucks. Must test transferring a few files with a USB stick before spending too much time with the thing
Anyway after becoming addicted to Scrivener, everything else is not worth the bother. Will stick to the tried and true rituals of plotting, planning. outlining and old fashioned emerald ink squiggling away from the desktop and then typing up the day’s inspiration some time at night.

The course itself is quite interesting. Was ever so amused at the special categories of tax deductions including the list of things that sex workers can claim against tax which include condoms, frilly knickers, make up, laundry and wages to pay bodyguards

It sure helps to be doing DIY tax returns for the last 19 plus years. Loving that the software that does all the hard work. Figured it might be a good idea to add a certain serpent to the database along with all the hypothetical homework clients. So adding bits as they come along meaning that for once there will be no last minute rush to have the infernal thing completed by the witching hour on 31st October. This week we were doing employment termination payments so that will be most relevant indeed

There are a handful of nuts in this class but will save that sad saga for another day. It is such a pity the text book and tax legislation that we are supposed to bring every week along with the laptop weigh half a ton. It means having to return straight to the Lair after the class to dump the infernal things
There’s a big barn garden store just across the road so it sucks the logistics of lugging all that stuff about makes a visit very impractical
izmeina: (Default)
One of the joys of having a sort of serpent sabbatical was the opportunity to visit the university open days. While still in zombie mode was simply too exhausted to attend the local one. For the very first time in about seven years had not indulged in this annual ritual. Had gotten our serpent snout in the Chemical Centre not once but on two separate occasions last year. This had been the major incentive last time. Had been eying up the place for years and years and waiting for the one annual chance to sneak a peek

But having ditched the toad only in the last week or so, the old serpent spark had returned. The zombie form became reanimated. So instead of the usual staying at Petunia’s place on Saturday night and staying curled up in the serpent sack until at least 11am, remained at the Lair that night instead and was out and about by 7am in the morning. Most unusual indeed and a very good sign. Such an early start would be necessary due to last year’s experience of missing not one but three buses going to the university as they were all packed like sardines from the very first stop.
It was so good to feel awake and alive again. Even the miserable drizzling rain was insufficient to put a dampener on the big day of adventure

It turned out that there was no need after all to go to the first stop at this early bird hour as no more than a dozen prospective students boarded at that stage but it was best not to take chances. So no regrets. It also meant having more time to plot and plan the grand adventures before the official opening at 10am

Last year turned up around midday and picked up a program only to discover that I had just missed the intriguingly titled talk in the arts faculty “Expelliarmus - active Latin from medieval to modern times and beyond”

So that was most definitely not going to happen this time. The there was the obligatory ‘Magic of Chemistry’ show which is so good that it is worth seeing twice in the one day. Decided that once a year would be sufficient since there are so many temptations and so little time to indulge in them all

So found the arts building and watched two peacocks strutting about in a small sort of quadrangle. There were a few geeks showing off their collection of medieval replica swords and some strange sword like objects that did not look particularly lethal at all. Asked what they were for since they would not be much use for lopping off heads or hands. It turned out that they were training swords and were modeled from illustrations in medieval manuscripts.
By then it was time to look for those wand waving Latin mavens. Was so looking forward to this lecture in spite of holding a deep detestation and loathing of Latin. It is clunky and ugly and is best left for Gregorian chant where at least it does sound beautiful and you don’t have to see the ugliness on the page.

Accio, Lumos and other useful magical charms )
izmeina: (oro)
One of the joys of having a sort of serpent sabbatical was the opportunity to visit the university open days. While still in zombie mode was simply too exhausted to attend the local one. For the very first time in about seven years had not indulged in this annual ritual. Had gotten our serpent snout in the Chemical Centre not once but on two separate occasions last year. This had been the major incentive last time. Had been eying up the place for years and years and waiting for the one annual chance to sneak a peek

But having ditched the toad only in the last week or so, the old serpent spark had returned. The zombie form became reanimated. So instead of the usual staying at Petunia’s place on Saturday night and staying curled up in the serpent sack until at least 11am, remained at the Lair that night instead and was out and about by 7am in the morning. Most unusual indeed and a very good sign. Such an early start would be necessary due to last year’s experience of missing not one but three buses going to the university as they were all packed like sardines from the very first stop.
It was so good to feel awake and alive again. Even the miserable drizzling rain was insufficient to put a dampener on the big day of adventure

It turned out that there was no need after all to go to the first stop at this early bird hour as no more than a dozen prospective students boarded at that stage but it was best not to take chances. So no regrets. It also meant having more time to plot and plan the grand adventures before the official opening at 10am

Last year turned up around midday and picked up a program only to discover that I had just missed the intriguingly titled talk in the arts faculty “Expelliarmus - active Latin from medieval to modern times and beyond”

So that was most definitely not going to happen this time. The there was the obligatory ‘Magic of Chemistry’ show which is so good that it is worth seeing twice in the one day. Decided that once a year would be sufficient since there are so many temptations and so little time to indulge in them all

So found the arts building and watched two peacocks strutting about in a small sort of quadrangle. There were a few geeks showing off their collection of medieval replica swords and some strange sword like objects that did not look particularly lethal at all. Asked what they were for since they would not be much use for lopping off heads or hands. It turned out that they were training swords and were modeled from illustrations in medieval manuscripts.
By then it was time to look for those wand waving Latin mavens. Was so looking forward to this lecture in spite of holding a deep detestation and loathing of Latin. It is clunky and ugly and is best left for Gregorian chant where at least it does sound beautiful and you don’t have to see the ugliness on the page.

Accio, Lumos and other useful magical charms )
izmeina: (Default)
Izzie has a soft spot for stationery, journals and books of all sorts. This time of year is especially tempting with all those delightful diaries out there and the promise of a year of productivity with just the right diary proving to be the ultimate weapon against the demons of procrastination
Decided to learn the lessons from so many previous attempts at getting stuff done rather than just dreaming about it. One being that a to do list needs to be looked at if it has any hope at all of jumping off the page into reality.

The diary for doing such stuff which also serves as storage space for letters received, bills and such invariably became too cumbersome by April or so and would end up abandoned and gathering dust on some shelf.
But the one that always gets checked every day is the little black Scrooge book where every penny spent is recorded along with beginning totals, end totals for the day and bank withdrawals. This started as part of the “Your Money or Your Life” 9 steps to financial freedom program and ended up as a sort of religious ritual. It also serves as an amazing memory jogger for specific days from years past.

So had the inspired idea of getting a reasonably sized day to a page diary instead of the usual week to a view slimline diary. This would leave half the page for to do lists and on the very frequent buy nothing days - a whole page of blank space for squiggling. So got a cheapie Octavo journal from the Reject Shop which is actually quite good and looks identical to the Collins and Debden versions of the same with the little blue tabs and stuff for each month. That may well be because it is the same and for a quarter of the price
But lurking in the serpent mind was the lure of a certain cult. Had been eying up these diaries in Dymocks and New Edition book shops just before Christmas and could be severely tempted to snatch one in the post Christmas “20% off everything” sale as a belated nanowrimo winner’s prize. And even the reduced price would still be an unjustifiable decadent luxury for what is after all little more than a glorified almost blank notebook.

But for some inexplicable reason there was no end of year sale. Most likely to do with the fact that Angus and Robertson were not having their 20% off everything sale. Oh well thinks Izzie. Did not really need to indulge in a second diary. That was until today and seeing them at 50% off in the very yuppie Art Gallery shop. There was one A5 model left and not the A6 we were hoping for. Also Snoopy was on the cover so it was more expensive than the plain vanilla model.
It was very nice and elegant and all that but made in China just like everything else these days. But the proof of the pudding will be in the using. And the Izzie has got to use it this year because it will be another 28 years before it can be recycled. Even a serious hoarder is rather unlikely to have any unused 1984 diaries lying around that can be dragged out again for 2012. Easter and all the moon based holidays would be wrong but all the other the days and dates all perfectly correct including Wednesday 29th February

But in line with yet another attempt to use stuff the Izzie already has instead of adding more, decided to actually write in one of the very beautiful leather journals with hand made paper. The paper is quite coarse and looked rather unsuitable for our favorite emerald ink. The seller said that it was perfectly fine for fountain pens but she would say that wouldn’t she? But still it was too gorgeous to resist. It looks like the sort of book that would be found in the restricted section of the Hogwarts library, at least while it was still blank and full of potential

Did first write in it while sitting at the beach for the summer solstice sunset and sure enough it was far too scratchy for the fountain pen. Such a pity. It is so so hard to write decently with a biro and the paper is so thick and soft that it is like writing on quicksand.
But it is good to have gotten in the habit of using these beautiful journals instead of just saving them for a rainy day in some dark mysterious bottom drawer.
Must also resurrect the collection of wax seals and rubber stamps. 2012 is to be the year of gobbling up what we have got and using the savings to banish the mortgage goblins.
izmeina: Strange Spiral Clock (Time Turner)
Izzie has a soft spot for stationery, journals and books of all sorts. This time of year is especially tempting with all those delightful diaries out there and the promise of a year of productivity with just the right diary proving to be the ultimate weapon against the demons of procrastination
Decided to learn the lessons from so many previous attempts at getting stuff done rather than just dreaming about it. One being that a to do list needs to be looked at if it has any hope at all of jumping off the page into reality.

The diary for doing such stuff which also serves as storage space for letters received, bills and such invariably became too cumbersome by April or so and would end up abandoned and gathering dust on some shelf.
But the one that always gets checked every day is the little black Scrooge book where every penny spent is recorded along with beginning totals, end totals for the day and bank withdrawals. This started as part of the “Your Money or Your Life” 9 steps to financial freedom program and ended up as a sort of religious ritual. It also serves as an amazing memory jogger for specific days from years past.

So had the inspired idea of getting a reasonably sized day to a page diary instead of the usual week to a view slimline diary. This would leave half the page for to do lists and on the very frequent buy nothing days - a whole page of blank space for squiggling. So got a cheapie Octavo journal from the Reject Shop which is actually quite good and looks identical to the Collins and Debden versions of the same with the little blue tabs and stuff for each month. That may well be because it is the same and for a quarter of the price
But lurking in the serpent mind was the lure of a certain cult. Had been eying up these diaries in Dymocks and New Edition book shops just before Christmas and could be severely tempted to snatch one in the post Christmas “20% off everything” sale as a belated nanowrimo winner’s prize. And even the reduced price would still be an unjustifiable decadent luxury for what is after all little more than a glorified almost blank notebook.

But for some inexplicable reason there was no end of year sale. Most likely to do with the fact that Angus and Robertson were not having their 20% off everything sale. Oh well thinks Izzie. Did not really need to indulge in a second diary. That was until today and seeing them at 50% off in the very yuppie Art Gallery shop. There was one A5 model left and not the A6 we were hoping for. Also Snoopy was on the cover so it was more expensive than the plain vanilla model.
It was very nice and elegant and all that but made in China just like everything else these days. But the proof of the pudding will be in the using. And the Izzie has got to use it this year because it will be another 28 years before it can be recycled. Even a serious hoarder is rather unlikely to have any unused 1984 diaries lying around that can be dragged out again for 2012. Easter and all the moon based holidays would be wrong but all the other the days and dates all perfectly correct including Wednesday 29th February

But in line with yet another attempt to use stuff the Izzie already has instead of adding more, decided to actually write in one of the very beautiful leather journals with hand made paper. The paper is quite coarse and looked rather unsuitable for our favorite emerald ink. The seller said that it was perfectly fine for fountain pens but she would say that wouldn’t she? But still it was too gorgeous to resist. It looks like the sort of book that would be found in the restricted section of the Hogwarts library, at least while it was still blank and full of potential

Did first write in it while sitting at the beach for the summer solstice sunset and sure enough it was far too scratchy for the fountain pen. Such a pity. It is so so hard to write decently with a biro and the paper is so thick and soft that it is like writing on quicksand.
But it is good to have gotten in the habit of using these beautiful journals instead of just saving them for a rainy day in some dark mysterious bottom drawer.
Must also resurrect the collection of wax seals and rubber stamps. 2012 is to be the year of gobbling up what we have got and using the savings to banish the mortgage goblins.
izmeina: (Default)
Izzie has been a bad bad serpent slinking around gardens and graveyards in possession of a new toy.
The seed for such a wicked treat was planted about a week ago while following a link to a totally unrelated story in Wiredmagazine
(The resident frog and the serpent had been talking about the Goblins of Wall St and the geekish math freaks so Izzie went searching for a recent radio program about that very topic)

Seen the wee beastie in a department store yesterday but they had sold out of the more basic Windoze free versions. But it turned out that Myers - the department store in the city not only had plenty in stock but much cheaper too. It's stock take sale time.
So got to drool over all the pretty penguins and open source software. It's got Skype, Picasa, all sorts of Googlish Goodness, Firefox and Open Office. Just the sort of thing to appeal to a Scrooge Serpent. Especially that it's less than half the price of the Windoze versions. It's also only got an itsie bitsie teenie weenie 8gb storage space but that problem is easily solved.

So now we've got our own Baby Linux laptop - we thinks that netbook is the proper term. But going over to the ma's tonight and back at work on Monday so will have to wait till later in the week to test drive the new toy.
Soon will be able to tick off 3 whole things on that evil 101 list
Such an insidious thing it is indeed. Most magical one could say.
izmeina: (Default)
Izzie has been a bad bad serpent slinking around gardens and graveyards in possession of a new toy.
The seed for such a wicked treat was planted about a week ago while following a link to a totally unrelated story in Wiredmagazine
(The resident frog and the serpent had been talking about the Goblins of Wall St and the geekish math freaks so Izzie went searching for a recent radio program about that very topic)

Seen the wee beastie in a department store yesterday but they had sold out of the more basic Windoze free versions. But it turned out that Myers - the department store in the city not only had plenty in stock but much cheaper too. It's stock take sale time.
So got to drool over all the pretty penguins and open source software. It's got Skype, Picasa, all sorts of Googlish Goodness, Firefox and Open Office. Just the sort of thing to appeal to a Scrooge Serpent. Especially that it's less than half the price of the Windoze versions. It's also only got an itsie bitsie teenie weenie 8gb storage space but that problem is easily solved.

So now we've got our own Baby Linux laptop - we thinks that netbook is the proper term. But going over to the ma's tonight and back at work on Monday so will have to wait till later in the week to test drive the new toy.
Soon will be able to tick off 3 whole things on that evil 101 list
Such an insidious thing it is indeed. Most magical one could say.

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