Saturday, 15 January 2011

Jet lag strikes

Yesterday, I woke up at first light pottered around with catch-up tasks, then went in to St John's for the midday Eucharist - so much to give thanks for over the past month! I chatted with the tea room crew for a while, then went off to shop for a 'network through the mains kit', to replace the wireless network connection to my desktop computer. Reception from the router to the back room upstairs became erratic a couple of months ago, and no amount of re-positioning has been able to cure a problem causing all kinds of dysfunction.

It may be a hardware fault, but I suspect one of the neighbours may be running a piece of electrical kit that causes occasional interference to the signal. Currys had just the right thing at a reasonable price. Then I went on to browse the sale at Cardiff Camera Centre and came away with a the Sony Cybershot I'd thought of buying before going to Canada but didn't. That bit of pretend self denial (do I really need another camera? I say to myself) meant a I got 25% discount on pre-Christmas prices, before the added VAT price hike, and an interesting new toy with extra capacity to shoot photos in low light - so I'm pleased with myself.

Owain came around for a paella supper and catch up time. We were looking at photos after supper at table on a laptop, when I succeeded in knocking over a cup of coffee on to it. It died immediately, which was a bit upsetting. I did my best to dry it out, but my best efforts couldn't get it to re-start. We adjourned upstairs to Clare's study cum spare bedroom, to continue looking at maps on her computer. I sat on the bed, feeling fed up with my clumsiness - blame it on jet lag I said to myself - I lay down and conked out for several hours. When I woke up, Clare was already in bed asleep or trying to sleep. I re-joined her, but couldn't drop off. After some hours tossing and turning, mentally kicking myself for ruining the laptop, I got up to take a pill I'd forgotten. It was half past three. I moved into another bed to avoid further mutual disturbance. The next thing I knew it was light, but it was eleven o'clock in the morning, so I must have slept another six hours.

After brunch, I went to do some first aid on a friend's computer system which was rejecting the login password, with no intelligible explanation. A zealous BT Yahoo! security policy issued a refusal to forward an attachment which it considered to be dodgy, despite the fact that the anti-virus scan had cleared the attachment of all offence. And we thought it was a password problem. The reason was there in an Outlook Express error message. This was not written in plain but in geeky language, and displayed in a hard to read small font, contributing greatly to the difficulty of resolving the problem. 

We changed the password three times before cottoning on to the solution, and used a password sniffing program to double check that rejection of the password  was not a result of unintended corruption or mis-spelling. It took over three hours to track down the problem.  Deleting the offending email and attachment did the trick. Meanwhile, I set about updating (aka machine minding) a Vista laptop not used since last October and lacking Service Pack 2. This occupied the entire time taken by detective work on the main computer. So much for  low levels of user maintenance. So much seamlessly smooth collaboration leading to ease of use between big players in the world of everyday computer users.
My dried out laptop worked properly without complaint when I returned and switched it on. This post is written on it. Barring any more accidents, hopefully we'll sleep better tonight.

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