bluefluff's blue fluff

Friday, October 28, 2005

Word verification

Was confronted with this while posting a comment to Kat's blog.....

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Thank you broadband

Last week, I couldn't have had this experience.
& click the "clip" link.

I don't suppose we'll see the film in England, but there'll be a DVD, won't there?

Leonard Cohen has been the soundtrack to my life, right from the time I fell out with a schoolfriend back in 1968-ish over the lyrics of Suzanne (Songs of Leonard Cohen was the first album I ever bought).

On rumours of a world tour in 2006 0r 2007 I keep checking the Leonard Cohen Files (one of the most perfect fan sites for any musical artist I've ever seen) & tonight found the film link. The prospect of seeing two of my other favourite singer-songwriters (Jarvis Cocker & Nick Cave) performing tribute songs is so delicious....

Round the Twist

Actually, having mentioned my 1997 website, I think it deserves a little blog entry all of its own. I recently re-discovered it stranded in cyberspace, on the web server of my last but two ISP, who don't seem to have noticed I left about seven years ago. The username/password required to access it for editing are long gone, so there it floats, a little piece of history.

It's history at several levels. There's local interest there, as the Twist lads were well known round Grimsby - their 1998 CD release topped the local Virgin Megastore's sales chart that week - & the main venue they used to play has closed down now. They were an object lesson in the music business's disregard for talent, falling apart messily just after they'd been signed to a record label, as it had taken so long that stresses had built up to an unsustainable level.

There's lots of personal stuff in there too. It was the time of my midlife crisis, when I suddenly decided it would be a good idea to go out & do some living before it was too late. I became completely absorbed in this band, following all their gigs, running the website, keeping a scrapbook of the early days in the hope there would be fame & fortune ahead for them.

The site itself is a mess, but considering it's self-taught hand-coding, long before T171 showed me a better way, I don't think I should be too ashamed of it. I recall somebody at the time asking me "What did you make it with?" & replying, puzzled, "just my computer". I hadn't even heard of HTML editors...

I still maintain they were damn fine songwriters!

Catching up

With the C21st, I mean :-)

I just copied my first CD! Well, I've copied plenty of CDs onto cassette before (mainly to share around the family when the kids all had cassette walkmans) & a few years ago I used to put the computer back-ups onto CD Rewritables, until the time I needed to use the backup & it wouldn't play ball. But I'd never actually cloned a music CD until tonight.

Previous attempts had always been abortive, for one reason or another. The old software we had wasn't very user-friendly & used to jabber unintelligibly at me about closed sessions & buffer over-runs (or was it under-runs?). The newer software coincided with a very busy time when I couldn't play, & after a Windows reinstall, wouldn't work at all. The new super-fast PC comes with a full version of Nero (thank you, nice lady at the computer shop!) & I promised myself I'd experiment once the exam was over. In the meantime, daughter #3 has been happily making compilation CDs on the refurbished & Nero-ed "old" computer & it looked quite easy....

That's because it is! The hardest part was working out which drive has the recorder, as neither actually identifies itself as such on the front or in My Computer. But I needn't have worried, as Nero helpfully told me which was which.

Coming on top of the acquisition of a mobile phone for my birthday in March, this constitutes another Major Step Forward. They're both simple & common things, I know, but I've never been a gadgets person. Apart from the web (where I'm still quite proud of having had my first website online in September 1997) I tend to be a "late adopter" where technology is concerned.

And as far as the morality of music copying is concerned, I feel no guilt: the CD is for somebody who would never buy it, & I should think I'm one of the few people to have bothered purchasing the original anyway, given its ranking of 17,296th place!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What a difference a year makes

I know 2005 isn't over yet, but then again it started early! I've just passed my blogging anniversary (see 18 Oct 2004). I started out very uncertainly, & didn't post again till May 05. It still took a while to find a voice....

In July, I commented: This was going to be my "make or break" year. Despite the odd stumble that almost sent me scuttling back into my corner for good, I think I'm making it. & looking back, I think I did. Make it, that is. There were some silly moments along the way, but I've emerged with a much clearer sense of who I am & what I can do (& who I'm not, & what I can't).

I feel more settled now than I have done since the early 90s. I leave you with a poem, from a woman who got there before me.

Being Boring

If you ask me 'What’s new? ', I have nothing to say
Except that the garden is growing.
I had a slight cold but it’s better today.
I’m content with the way things are going.
Yes, he is the same as he usually is,
Still eating and sleeping and snoring.
I get on with my work. He gets on with his.
I know this is all very boring.

There was drama enough in my turbulent past:
Tears and passion—I’ve used up a tankful.
No news is good news, and long may it last,
If nothing much happens, I’m thankful.
A happier cabbage you never did see,
My vegetable spirits are soaring.
If you’re after excitement, steer well clear of me.
I want to go on being boring.

I don’t go to parties. Well, what are they for,
If you don’t need to find a new lover?
You drink and you listen and drink a bit more
And you take the next day to recover.
Someone to stay home with was all my desire
And, now that I’ve found a safe mooring,
I’ve just one ambition in life: I aspire
To go on and on being boring.

Wendy Cope

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

On being a student

So, I survived my exam on ancient Greek (as usual, after the event, asking myself what all the fuss was about) & signed up to be a post-graduate in 2006! I've been there before - got the doctorate, if not the Tshirt - but that was largely in response to pressure from peers & superiors at a time in my life when I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I'm not entirely sure that I've grown up even now, but I do know I've found my niche, as an online tutor, & the new course will give me a piece of paper to prove that I'm not only doing it, I also know what it is that I'm doing!

This was a dream, really. I'd often looked at the OU's postgrad courses with longing, but knew I couldn't afford the fees - or more precisely, couldn't justify diverting the family finances in that direction. I'm working for the OU to earn, not to spend, & I don't "need" any more qualifications, right? So I stuck to keeping my brain active on courses the OU would pay for, my staff "perk". (No chance of nicking paperclips when you're working from home!)

This approach had already paid off once, big time, when my experience as a student on T171 (You, your computer & the net, my first ever "freebie") led to an invitation to tutor it & thence to involvement in a pilot scheme for online support of the Arts Faculty's main level 1 course. So I became a convert to online tutoring & got a career, of sorts, out of it, not to mention the arty friends who've featured in other posts :-)

This is the logical next step. Within hours of the OU announcing that staff fee waivers would no longer be capped, I'd scoured the online prospectus for possibilities, compared notes with a colleague, & was just waiting for my exam to be over before deciding whether it felt right or not. It feels right!!

The course is H806, "Learning in the connected economy" - the qualification, a Postgraduate Certificate in Online and Distance Learning.

I'm very excited :-))

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Anti-toe-rag measures

I've finally been goaded into turning on the "word verification" feature that Blogger offers as protection against unwanted spam comments (not that there's such a thing as wanted spam comments, is there?).

So, Mr "angry Asian man", thank you for scrawling verbal graffiti over my blog. Wanna bet that I'm far, far angrier than you?!

About the banner

A friend sent me the link & I was pleasantly surprised to find it was a genuine one (I don't think she'll mind me saying that I usually run her forwarded emails through Snopes before responding!) . It turns out the Pink Ribbon site is run by the Hunger Site people, who I used to keep on my links bar until I lost my bookmarks some months ago....

Anyway, it seemed appropriate, in view of recent postings (still waiting for the results, btw).

Since I'm deep into revision-avoidance territory at the moment, I thought it might be fun to add a link to my blog... then realised I could fritter away even more time if I set it up as an image link, & more time still if I didn't just put it into a post but worked out how to add a banner to my template. So I did :-)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Small victories

Doesn't it make you feel good when you crack a little computer problem?

Since we've had the new PC, I had the constant annoyance of being locked out of my "secure" work sites after a certain time, & was forever having to re-start the computer to re-gain access. I'd been blaming my ISP for caching security details... even faffed around with tracert to see where the problem lay (packets were timing out half way through the JANET - Joint Universities NETwork - system).

Tonight I twigged that it was happening whenever the other networked PC had initiated a connection after a time-out (my dialup ISP dumps me out every 2 hours). Persuaded late-night daughter to deactivate the auto-reconnect & the problem has gone :-)

Soon, really soon, we'll be going broadband & won't have such minor irritations to contend with any more.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Like mother, like daughter

So I'm sitting up late after a pleasantly mixed day (in the morning I was a sleeper, in the afternoon I was a tutor & at night I was a student) & across the way is daughter #3 busily creating CD inserts now that we finally have CD burning software & a computer that can run it.

Mum: "Are you staying up all night?" Daughter: "Yes, probably." It's just seen as the normal thing to do in this household! Well, apart from Alan who works the other way round... I quite often meet him just getting up as I'm on my way to bed! Daughter has seen her sisters follow the pattern too, with all-nighters when GCSE coursework or an A level presentation was due.

Big brother never worked through the night, but used to stay up watching videos or obscure sports on TV. In fact it was his failure to sleep, as a baby, that encouraged my night-owl tendencies - Alan & I would do shifts, swapping over at 4 or 5 am. Quite handy, really, having both a night person & a morning person around to cover everything.

Yes, OK, I'm rambling - but hey, isn't that what blogs are for?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Should I be worried?

I lost a year somewhere.

Dad & I were talking tonight about Ronnie Barker's death at 76. I'd thought he was Dad's age, but Dad's 77. I'd worked my version out from when Mum died, as I knew that was just a couple of weeks after his 75th birthday (she was determined to hang on for that & for their late July wedding anniversary). I've mentioned in an earlier post here that she died in July 2004. Except she didn't - it was July 2003. How could I get something like that wrong?
For a little while I thought Dad was going gaga & politely refrained from correcting him. But then I looked up my old diary & there it is, July 2004, anniversary of Mum's death... I'm the one going gaga! Weird.

Other age-related notes... Dad, at 77, has just acquired his first mobile phone. (If you think trouble-shooting other people's computer problems at-a-distance is tricky, you should try explaining text messaging when you haven't a clue what the interface looks like!). But his comment on our news about Alan's decision yesterday? <broad Lancs>"Bloody hell, me son in law's a pensioner - I must be getting on a bit!" </broad Lancs>.

Think maybe he's got that year I lost?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

monkey zoo

No, this isn't about monkeys or zoos - it's just the Wildhearts track I have blasting through as I type ("It's a mystery how we keep on seeing it through We just do, we just do here at the monkey zoo "). My own monkey zoo is taking on a new look these days. Daughter #2 has departed to university (son has been through, daughter#1 is working on it) leaving daughter #3 to bear the brunt of parental neurosis.

Resolution of sorts has been achieved today with husband's decision to take his teacher's pension instead of going through the motions of being a supply teacher (at a time when nobody seems to want supply teachers any more, not that he wanted to be one anyway) just because he couldn't escape early male-breadwinning conditioning. No more hanging by the phone hoping it rings & simultaneously hoping it doesn't. He's asleep, but I'm here imbibing a celebratory brandy or several.

Not an OAP, but an ARP (Actuarially Reduced Pensioner). Makes all the difference. Why didn't we do it years ago?