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Archive for January, 2008

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Birdsong in January

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

This is the summer that never was. We must have had at least 3 days of sunshine last week. And this morning I was in the kitchen, making sandwiches for John’s lunch, when I realised that I wasn’t wearing my dressing gown.

The downstairs of the house isn’t heated.

On Sunday, we arrived home from shopping to the sound of birds chirping in the bushes.

There is something wrong with this image, of course. The branches are still bare. It’s only January. And birds don’t sing to celebrate the sunshine; they sing to establish breeding territories.

Might be a lot of frozen little chicks out there, come February.


In other news: we are still house hunting. We almost found a place, but the landlord was pushing his luck, then bailed out and put the place on the market. Shame that he couldn’t have waited a year or so until the housing market has slumped more. But seriously, things are turning around in our favour, only the timing’s off. One or two years down the road, we might consider buying. Maybe Brown will deliver on his promise to develop housing on brownfield sites and put an end to this madness once and for all. There’s plenty of space, even in London.

The EeePC has left customs and—as of 7:04 this morning—is on its way. Now I’m just crossing my fingers that the thing isn’t damaged or the international bueraucratic merry-go-round will start up yet again. Honestly, stick to local markets.

I still wonder whether I should have bought a machine with twice the specs (1 GB RAM, 8 GB SDD) for a measly 68$ more. Probably, but it doesn’t come in light blue. Still, my little machine has 8 times the flash memory of the OLPC. And I’ve just seen a 2GB RAM upgrade for the 701 EeePC from a local Ebay seller 🙂

Moving Out

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

I’m not going on a trip this winter.

It’s not enough to go away for a few weeks, not even if you seek refuge on an island retreat, wishing you’d never have to go back even as each day passes.

It’s not enough to go away—only to have to come back.

I have to get out of Shitville before I’m going stir-crazy. It’s not the country (although I’ll trade the UK with Australia any day), it’s the location.

John is committed to supervise several PhDs which means another three years on the job. It also means that the company where he works is full of bright young people, but none of them actually live here.

Tadley was never more than a temporary abode. In the three years that we have stayed, I feel that I have aged twenty.

The village had its charms. At least until the smoking ban came in. But the ban means that you can no longer choose your company. We all have to share the same campfire—a wood-burning stove in the pub courtyard—and it turns out that the people gathering there are not of my tribe.


[read on]

An OLPC for Grownups

Friday, January 11th, 2008

Have you noticed how brats are always the first to get access to decent computers? I bet that back in 1997 there were more laptops per primary school child than per postdoc, by about an order of magnitude. That’s not to say that I don’t think the OLPC project isn’t a great initiative (even if I would like to see it go out to older children first).

But it does mean that I’m (lime-)green with envy.


Having missed out on the buy one-give one campaign, I had a look at Ebay and I must say that the XO looks—well—childish.

However, it’s obviously an idea whose time has come, because my prayers from years ago seem to have been answered. An ultralight, mobile, capable laptop—for adults

Roll on the Asus EeePC (Easy to work, easy to learn, easy to play).

Watch this space.

Photo by luisramirezuchile

The Ultimate in Backwards Compatibility

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

You may not think it from our backgrounds, but both John and I are late adapters. Dating from our poor student days, our attitude has always been ‘why fix (replace) it if it ain’t broken’, which is why John’s anno 1997 desktop is still standing next to mine (complete with dial-up modem, a new-ish DVD reader and hard drive upgraded to 12 GB. I think it still runs on 124 MB RAM, but the point is, it still runs.)

When the TV we inherited from John’s parents gave out after a quarter-century’s reliable service, he opened it up and took a look inside before declaring it buggered.

We opted for a new model from the same company. It came with a built-in video recorder and gave out about one week after the warranty expired. The picture just stopped, leaving the screen covered with grey snow.
[read on]

Back to work…

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008

Isn’t it just terrible? I thought that this holiday would never end and—Blam!—it’s all over.

It is grey and cold and wet and it’s January, and everybody is back at work 🙁

OK, so I’m unemployed. I’m just saying

My New Year’s resolution is to finish that pesky telepathic-tree-SciFi novel I’ve been working on for almost exactly two years, and get it submitted. I also hope to sell at least one story. Then I can say that I’m a science fiction writer—nay, author—rather than an unemployed housewife.

But since the year has only just begun, I may go on a little trip first. John was forced to take some of his leave back in November, which means that we’re not going to spend January in Cuba as previously planned, and I’m not likely to go for long solo trips any more, but by February latest I expect I’ll be stir-crazy and looking for a tropical escape.