Saturday, June 20, 2009

My new computer

I've decided I don't know as much as I used to. I haven't maintained my currency. For several years now, my use of computers has become just that - usage. I haven't been teaching any of the technical stuff, haven't needed to pull a computer apart, diagnose problems or rebuild it. Other people have looked after that aspect at work and I've had the same computer for eight years at home so it's just needed basic maintenance and the occasional upgrade.

Last week that all changed. My old computer had been annoying me for a while. It had become very slow, freezing regularly and shutting down spontaneously. Rather than try to fix the problem I decided it was time for a new computer. So I sat down with Lauren's boyfriend and talked RAM and graphics cards and other things with unintelligible letter/number model numbers. I knew what I wanted the computer to do and I knew enough to decide on the parts I wanted and I could have put it all together if Adam didn't do it for me but I really have no interest in all that any more. I've been happy to hand all that over to him and let him be my 'tech advisor'.

The things I'm struggling with now are the gliches that have been arising all week. My printers, having been bought at the same time as my old computer, were eight years old. While I could find drivers for both of them on the internet I was at an absolute loss as to how to get them to work. Downloading and installing didn't work. I ended up losing patience with it and bought a new printer this morning. It's a colour laser so it's taken the place of both the laser printer and the bubblejet. Even then I had trouble. The driver that came with it wouldn't work - for some reason it was looking for someone with administrator access or the usual user of the computer. Both me, but it still didn't want to work. Of course just plugging the printer in and connecting it worked just fine but the installation instructions that specified several times in big red writing that I wasn't to do that confused me.

I'm also having a weird problem saving things. Word thinks it saves a document but I go back into it the next day and all my changes are gone. I can check a document in a couple of different ways. In the "Open an office document" window, the document won't appear, but in my directory folders it will. Neither place shows a document has saved; at least not consistently. Sometimes the save date changes, sometimes it doesn't. I know enough about computers to know how to save things, and I'm saving my work in as many different places as possible at the moment because I'm not sure my files are going to be there the next day. This problem has defeated me - and it irritates me. I need something I can rely on. I don't want to have to spend nearly an hour every night checking to make sure the document I've been working on has saved somewhere - anywhere, as long as I can find it again - before I can close it and go to bed.

All this is a huge change from my position years ago when I used to build and repair computers on a daily basis, used Linux and C every day and was the person everyone went to when they had a problem. People still come to me when they have a problem but it's differen. The problems are different; user problems with software, not hardware or technical problems. Isn't it amazing how interests and aptitudes change throughout life?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Puppy school graduate

Logan has graduated puppy school. We're so proud of him. Through the six week course he's learned that Lauren is his human and he has to listen to what she says - that's the most important lesson.

He now sits perfectly, leaves things alone on command, waits for things, drops onto his belly, and, most of the time, comes when called. He's also learning to bring things to Lauren.

Lauren's yard looks like a disaster area, strewn with Logan's bones and toys and the grass worn thin, but if it keeps him happy and not digging under the fence no one cares much.

Lauren has also learned to accommodate Logan into her life. It had been four years since she'd had a dog so it was a big adjustment for her - particularly as she's never dealt well with change. It's good to see them happy together. It was a stressful time for a while.

Sometime soon, Lauren will get him into some agility training so he has an opportunity to run some of that excess energy off.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Writing activities 2

These activities were timed. The exercise gave us a word or phrase and I had to write for 60 seconds and see what I ended up with. I forgot to time the first one so it's longer than it should be.

I'm beginning to think I'll do ok at this course. It has a reputation for preferring 'literary' writing and I've never seen myself as a literary writer - I'm speculative fiction to the bones - but maybe, if I work on increasing my vocabulary a bit, it'll be fine.

Here are today's activities:

They were long and thin and frilled, shaped a little like a woman's vulva, and bright irridescent orange. They fascinated me so much I sat on the log next to them and stared at them for ages, wishing I'd brought a camera or pen and paper to draw them. They clung to the rough bark of the fallen tree, two thirds down the side, hiding in the damp mustiness of the southern side of the trunk. The lips grew out from the trunk, curling lace waving along the grooves, glistening in the low light of the forest.

The way the light filtered through the water and bounced around the coral and gorgeous fish made me forget I needed to stay near the surface. I ducked my head and breathed in water as the top of the snorkle ...

The telephone rang at 11pm. It was enough to send shivers down my spine and fracture my breathing. The stalker always range between 2 and 3 am so it wasn't him but 11pm was never a good time. Something bad had happened.

My gut twisted with the fear. My throat was so tight I couldn't get the shout for help out at all. No sound louder than a whimper or a tummy rumbling in sweat soaked terror ...

The fur was all that was left amidst a smear of thick red blood. The bones and guts were gone, just those scraps of fur trailing towards the edge of the road ...

Most people wouldn't use James Bond to formulate life philosophy but that's exactly what I did with "Never Say Never". Just the phrase opens up a whole host of possibilities ...

You wouldn't have thought
so many things of significance could happen in one life and how memories of them can be triggered. Snippets, images, things that last less than a second can cause life-changing decisions to be made ...

She wasn't a
friend and never would be. Her need to control everything and everyone around her was understandable given her life circumstances but very irritating. She never gave an inch, never accepted that others could also be right ...

Lying face down
on the bed, the woman slept with her head turned towards the crib. When the baby first stirred her eyes snapped open. This child wouldn't cry, he was too ill for that, but he still needed care ...

Writing activities

I'm starting a new uni course next month and have bought some of the books I need. One of the books is "The Writing Book" by Kate Grenville. Each chapter finishes with some writing exerices. I love this sort of thing. It gets my mind working in different ways and challenges my imagination.

So far I've completed four of the thirteen activities at the end of Chapter one and haven't delved into the fiction world once. I had no idea that there were so many things from my life floating around in my head that could be used as potential stories. Of course as most of the things are written in first person they're coming out a bit like a diary or memoirs but that's fine. I'll still be able to use some of them in fiction stories later.

Here's a sample of what I've been doing. The instructions were to write two paragraphs. One paragraph had to start with "I remember" and the other with "Yesterday I". The paragraphs don't have to be linked in any way. This is what I wrote:

I remember reading through an old composition book from primary school. I loved those times where we could create stories and write them down but I never finished any of the stories started in class. I had it in my head that when the teacher said 'stop' the story had to stop as well. Play time at home was never writing time so even then the stories were left half done, languishing one on top of the other in the back corner of a kitchen cupboard. They hid there, those compostion books, moldering over the years, tempting the desires of a young mind that was at that point incapable of considering completing them. I've forgotten what any of the stories were about; I no longer have any of the books, but I remember the joy of creating a different world to live in, even if just for a short time, and I remember the disappointment and disatisfaction I felt when I couldn't stay in that world and see what happened.

Yesterday I had a great day. I was out all day. It's unusual for me to be out all day and still feel the entire day has been good. Usually I can't wait to get home and dive into one of my fantasy worlds for a time. But yesterday I spent more than two hours with other writers, critiquing and talking about writing. It's invigorating, to speak with other people who think it's perfectly normal for a woman to go to a topless bar with female pole dancers and sit there taking notes on technique and body piercings.