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Journal archives: August

June 27, 2005


I'm really not up to speed on this blogging lark, am I? One of my friends suggested that I looked at other people's blogs for inspiration, but whenever I read the blogs of luminaries such as Alistair Livingston or Joel Biroco I tend to come away just wishing I could be as eloquent as they, and feeling "why bother?". Occasionally, I start musing on some particular subject on the morning train, but more often than not, any coherent string of thoughts is blown away by whatever little surprises are waiting for me in the office.
This morning, I walked through Victoria, enjoying the blooming flowers, the way the morning sun gave everything - even the building site across the road from my workplace - a kind of shimmering quality. A gentle breeze made the heat enjoyable rather than harsh. I was thinking "this is Lalita - she is all that is Lovely, which brought to mind a line in the Lalitasahasranama which I thought perhaps I could write a commentary on here. Of course, what should happen but that I strolled into the company offices and find that my office door is open! Who dares invade my inner sanctum? The boss, of course, who turns out to be staring as though hypnotised by one of those dreaded blue-screen-of-death on the main server's monitor. So all thoughts of the Lalitasahasranama fled, whilst I started reading event logs and frantically hunted for the phone number for our tech support people, continually interrupted by my co-workers ringing me up with a dozen variations on "Did you know the server's down?"

Within an hour or so, all was as it should be (or at least until the tech people finish poring through the logs I sent them) and I had a quite nice 'pat on the back' from the powers that be, which I always find amusing, since I actually know relatively little about server maintenance. The only thing I can safely say is that thus far, I haven't caused the thing to fuck up completely. And that reminds me of something else I wanted to write about here - the joy I experienced in switching from Mac OS9 to Panther. Writing about joy and operating systems is I suppose, a mark of geekdom, but I can't help but be enthused by an OS named Panther - and am actually looking forwards to moving up to Tiger (something I can't say for making the switch from Windows 98 to XP). Yes, I initially found Panther to be quite lovely, and started eyeing the Mini-Macs displayed in the windows of Silicon Alley speculatively. But do I really need another computer? In the last couple of months, both the custom-built desktop PC and my rather less magnificent laptop have acted up, way past the point where I can do anything about it. The desktop went away for nearly two weeks whilst the friendly gnomes who built the thing, hit it with little silver hammers and rubbed it with the finest ungents until they divined a RAM failure. I picked it up, and before plugging in all the cables, thought I'd check my email via the laptop, which both Maria & I had been using for work & writing. She'd just that day finished a major translation job and emailed all the files to her client. The laptop obviously thought it would be cast aside into the outer darkness, now that the desktop was back, and promptly refused to boot up. So off that went to the gnomes, and after a couple more weeks, they managed to restore the hard drive and all its contents.
Now here's a thing. Whilst the desktop was away being tweaked, I'd started throwing down notes for an article on Lalita - and managed to get a couple of thousand words or so into a more or less coherent structure. Of course I hadn't backed them up at all, and when the laptop took a dive, I thought "oh no, not again!" About four years ago, I'd come up with the idea of doing an article about Lalita - and, as now, reached much the same point when the computer I had at the time began to cough, groan, and then noisily expired (actually the Hard Drive just got trashed). Hmmn, there seems to be a pattern here, doesn't there? Start writing article on Lalita - computer dies - file gets trashed. Maybe I should do it on a machine at work? Maybe I'm not meant to write this? Maybe I just need to find a different angle to approach it from. Maybe I just need to go outside and sit in the sun instead of pecking away at a keyboard all afternoon. Having a park opposite my front door is just so tempting, at this time of the year.

And now, the desktop is acting up again. Same problem as last time, which leads me to wonder what those gnomes were swigging on when they came up with the RAM failure diagnosis. So once again my thoughts turn to the Apple Mac and Panther's relative Loveliness - although that enthusiasm has been dampened slightly by the whole kerfuffle over Apple's Java updates for OSX, which resulted in me not being able to use our printers' online flatplanning & proofing system properly (and much sweating and swearing), 'til I found a Java patch for Firefox. So I know that the Apple Mac has its own tricks up its sleeve for the complacent, and indeed, the G5 in my office devoured my Quark Printer settings last week, for no clear reason that I can see, other than perhaps to give me a surprise.

I was reading Lionell Snell's new book Uncle Ramsey's Little Book of Demons recently (a review will be forthcoming in due course) and found myself laughing along with his suggestions as to why machines (he uses the office photocopier as an example) tend to refuse to work at the times when it is most inconvenient for them to go on strike. I particularly liked his suggestion that the photocopier might just be in love with the person who is using it, and so wants to attract their attention. It's certainly a much more lively way to frame these kinds of interaction, than the more common Neil-from-the-Young Ones style groan of "Oh No, even the machines are ganging up on me." Perhaps these are moments for surprising each other. Had I not coaxed the server back to life we could have all taken the day off. Maybe turfed the journalists out of their den in the basement and turned it into a roller-disco. Lolloped up the street to Buckingham Palace to flirt with the Grenadier Guards. Anything. Lalita - Loveliness is everywhere. We just need to take the moment to nortice her.