Alison Scott is undergoing a religious conversion.

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Monday, March 25, 2002

I just feel like such a newbie. A couple of e-mails have gone astray somewhere between and the demon address I forward all my mail to. So, on the PC, I use the godawful Windows telnet client to zip off to the server, and pine to check that there's no mail hanging around at my web hoster. Now, I ought to be able to manage that on the OS X terminal, right? Pretty basic? So it has me down as user 'Alison', and when I ssh off to the pair server it wants to log me in as alison rather than my actual user id. And can I work out what to do? Can I buggery.

On the bright side, I managed to go shopping, shed the six large bags of charity donations, get a USB cable and an extension, with which I've got the inkjet printer working from this machine, and buy slightly fewer things from Poundland than I'd just shed at the charity shop. I also had the happy thought that I could shed the no-longer-required travel system (pushchair and car seat) by selling it on Ebay, but a quick look at completed items for travel systems has convinced me otherwise. Does nobody want to buy them second-hand? Loot here I come.

If I can manage to get my HP Laserjet 4+ hooked up to the parallel port on the router, I should then be able to print from any of my computers to either of the printers. This is clearly a desirable goal. There are, however, three reasons why I haven't attempted this feat yet.

1) I am sure it will be severely non-trivial in a variety of ways.
2) The Laserjet is currently on the far side of the room from the router, and I'm not sure there's any sensible way to reorganise. It also weighs so much that I have no choice but to decide what to do first, and then get the bloke to move it. This rankles; it's my network and I want to be able to sort everything out myself.
3) The primary use of the Laserjet is as a workhorse printer printing full runs of fanzines. I don't want to do anything which will slow down the production of Plokta, or make it more likely that Word on the Athlon will fail to produce a print file that the printer can handle.

You know, one of the main reasons for buying the iMac was that I was fed up to the back teeth of tinkering with computers.

And I wish there was a preview mode in Userland. Every time I post I immediately have to go back in and correct all the typos in the HTML.

3:33:07 PM  comment []    

No, no, I really am going to get out of the house and go and run those errands. I'm just getting distracted. I am actually the last person on earth to mention Andrew Plotkin's "My Very Secret MacOSX Diary", which was slashdotted weeks ago. But when an article by Andrew appeared in Plokta , several people wrote to us implying that we'd invented him. So it's quite nice to provide some firmer evidence of his existence.

What's more, he provides a technique for getting rid of the Incredibly Annoying QuickTime Pro ad in the QuickTime Player. It involves firing up a Terminal window and typing some magic runes. If the runes are exactly right then the spell takes effect and poof! the ad disappears.

I suddenly realise that many of the ways that magic is constructed in fantasy novels and games imply that junior wizards just run carefully constructed lines of code on the universe. Lying around a dungeon, weblog or whatever is a scroll inscribed 'CREATE FOOD' or 'SMITE MONSTER' or 'VANISH QUICKTIME PRO AD', which they carefully memorise and then recite to have the desired effect. Somewhere quite Other are the senior wizards who actually work with the fabric of the universe to create the processes. And every so often a junior wizard cocks something up and reformats their hard drive causes the very fabric of the universe to unravel.

This analogy feels dangerously promising.

10:56:38 AM  comment []    

5 USB ports sounds like a lot, doesn't it? But one is the keyboard, and a second is the mouse. The other one on the keyboard (the non-mouse one) is a passthrough, and won't work with (for example) the printer. So that only leaves two on the machine, just the same as with my other machines. And one of those will be taken up by the printer. Which leaves one USB port for everything else. This alone would cast doubt as to the iMac's suitability as a single machine; nearly every USB peripheral I own hates hubs. And besides, hubs detract from that pristine whiteness.

10:24:22 AM  comment []    

OK. I nicked the USB cable off the scanner, and by dint of moving the colour printer and moving the iMac, managed to get them close enough together to join up. The printer worked, but the airport stopped talking to the network and had to be cajoled back to health. A tip from the web was that the easy wasy to network an Epson Stylus C80 with both PCs and Macs was to plug the parallel port into the PC and the USB into the Mac. Apparently the printer is savvy enough not to accept instructions from both ports at once.

So now I'm going to wander down Walthamstow High Street, in search of a shop that will sell me a long USB cable. 3m should just about do, but 5m would be much better. I'm also taking multiple bags of tat down to the charity shop, thanks to Flylady, which gives me a warm feeling of contentment.

10:10:06 AM  comment []    

There's dirt on the keyboard. I think Jonathan has been pressing on the keys with his horrible grubby little fingers. I had sort of assumed that this was The Computer In The White Suit, and that dirt wouldn't stick to it.

I added the site to Apple Links, in a pathetic attempt to increase the number of readers (from four).

And my brother and sister-in-law came round for lunch. Christian pounced on the iMac with glee! "Isn't that a beautiful computer?" she cried. "So much nicer than that huge boxy thing (waving at the Athlon). It's just gorgeous!" My brother was less convinced. "But PCs are better than Macs, aren't they? It's just a sort of graphics computer, isn't it?" I was reminded of the Serious Business Computer advertisement. "So what are those?" asked David, toying with one of them. "Ah. They're the speakers."

After lunch we played them the iDVD of Jonathan and Marianne, and spent an hour watching some of my father's ciné film from when David and I were small children.

Alison aged 3 and David aged 18 months or so, playing in the garden of our grandparents' house in Winchester

This still, for example, is from the summer of 1968

The films have been in a shoebox in a cupboard in Lincolnshire for years. This still is from iMovie. It's not that the quality's brilliant; it's just amazing that it's possible at all. I fear I had to drop back to the PC to tart up the piccie in Photoshop. I couldn't spot the crop in Appleworks (though surely there must be one?), and I wanted to clone out the desperately irritating dead pixel in the CCD of my DV camera.

The creative side of things continues to amaze and astound me. But I am still no closer to any of the following: attaching a printer to this machine, finding a news client that I believe I can live with, picking up my e-mail from this machine, or doing any graphics manipulation. The upshot is that I play with this machine, but the hard graft this weekend has been producing a flyer for <plokta.con>, printing 400 copies, and producing the 2002 TAFF ballots -- I've yet to print a few hundred of those. And all these things were done on the PC.

12:19:44 AM  comment []    

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