Friday, 21 November 2008

Hard Drives, Viruses and a German Printer

Having managed to thoroughly screw up the hard drive on my computer, I was forced, last week, to put in a new one. Of course, this meant re-installing Windows XP (I’ve had this computer for about 4 years). Oh, joy!

Having done the reinstallation, taking hours to let it download all the security updates (about 25 including Service Pack 3) I reloaded most of my software: Pagemaker, Freehand, Photoshop, Filemaker, etc., etc., and then found I had no sound.

If you’ve ever visited any of the online Windows advice forums – my favourite is Tech Support Guy where there are real people helping, and they will stick with you until you solve your problem – anyway, as I was saying, if you’ve visited these forums, you’ll see a lot of queries with titles like ‘I’ve lost my sound!!!’ (the triple exclamation marks seem to be de rigeur) and people saying that after reinstalling Windows, they no longer have any sound device installed. Well, having done this (reinstallation) before, I knew what to do – go to the motherboard producer’s website and update the chipset. If this is all Greek to you, don’t worry, it is to me also, but my motherboard manufacturer is MSI Global and they have an automatic scan and update feature on their website.

So, I went to the website and updated the chipset. Sophos, my Virus Control - free from the University and updated every hour - went mad. Kept saying all sorts of terrible things were going to happen. These I cheerfully ignored, but after updating the chipset and rebooting, still no sound. I repaired to Tech Support Guy, and they advised shutting down the virus control and trying again so that it would not prevent some updates from happening. This I did, in spite of my worries about letting in a virus, and all seemed well… but still no sound. Oh, well, I thought; I can probably sort that out by putting in a new, better, sound card. The installation should overwrite any problems. Having done this, still no sound. In fact the drives for the new card didn’t seem to install properly at all.

Then, while I was trying to figure out what to do next, something began to install itself on my computer – something calling itself Virus Control 2000. And although I cancelled it, Popup windows kept appearing saying My computer was infected with all sorts of things. I tried deleting the files, clearing the HKEYs, etc, but each time I rebooted, it reappeared. Seemed like my worst fears had been realised; I had indeed got a virus – a Trojan.

B*****r this! I thought. I’m going to start again from scratch. So I did a reformatting job on the HD and reinstalled Windows and all the updates, then quickly turned off the virus control again with my fingers crossed, updated the chipset, turned the virus control back on again, rebooted and, TA-DAHHHH, lots of lively sound.

My only problem now is that the printer installation disk says my printer isn’t recognised (connected) though the plug and play recognises it instantly and gives me a choice of which drivers to install. I scrolled down the list and plumped (the only word – I had no real idea) for one and let it install. My printer is now German!

It’s impossible to change this and install the English versions because the installer knows it’s already installed (even if you uninstall it) without following a long and complex set of instructions kindly provided by the kind Mr Nathan at Epson.

This, also, I have had to do before (some people never learn!) Still, that should keep me inside in the warm, out of the snow over the weekend.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Curve Launch

Off last night to the launch of Curve, Leicester’s brand new theatre; all part of the cultural quarter.

A stunning evening of song, acrobatic performances and wonderful tricks by the lighting rig, the fly towers, and the auditoria, and a building so iconic and yet so flexible that it must restore Leicester’s reputation for world class theatre. During the time I was on the Board of Directors of the original Haymarket Theatre, the predecessor of Curve, we sent productions all round the world. Most of what we put on stage went on to London and Leicester was rightly proud of its reputation.

It was often said that the Haymarket only did musical revivals, and Iindeed, I remember lots of Sondheim productions, Wizard of Oz, Singin’ in the Rain, Rent, West Side Story, Joseph and the Amazing Coloured Dreamcoat, but there were also many, many superb straight plays, comedies and lots of experimental theatre. I remember O’Casey, Shakespeare. Strindberg, Wilde, Pinter and so many more. One day, I’ll go back through my accumulated programmes from the 24 years I was a Director and really wallow in the great memories.

Meanwhile, someone needs to write a history of the Leicester Haymarket Theatre.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Strawberries: a double pleasure

During the Summer, we had some wonderful strawberries from our hanging strawberry baskets. I should, by now, have taken them out and saved the runners for next year, but I haven't been able to find the time.

Now, the leaves are changing colour and I'm enjoying them all over again.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Putting the garden to bed

We spent the weekend putting the garden to bed. The early frosts had really devastated the Nasturtians and they turned to slime as we pulled them out, leaving plenty of fallen seed behind for next year. We planted a couple of new roses, swaddled the Olive Tree pot in bubble wrap and moved it nearer the warmth of the house. Needless to say, we filled the local authority's green composting bin and we can now take it a bit easier until early Spring.

Everything's not over yet, however. The Amelanchier we planted last year at the bottom of the garden is still showing its Autumn red, as is the Cotoneaster by the Kitchen wall.
(I find Cotoneaster boring for 90% of the year, but it really comes into its own in November.) The Silver Birch (Paper White) looks wonderful - a great shape and almost ethereal lightness as it gradually turns and starts to lose its leaves.
Anyway, lots of rain this week; the lawn's unwalkable on. Molly, the spaniel tiptoes around (she's very fastidious about getting her feet wet and muddy - yes, I KNOW, she's supposed to be a spaniel. Tell HER that!).
Cosby flooding. The worst is over.
Cosby, the next village - on my way to work- was flooded, though when the road was a ford, it could be up to 3 feet deep. I remember getting the Mini stuck and having to pull her out by putting her in gear and using the starter motor.
Cosby Ford
These days, it's a bit more civilised (I'm sure I've got some pics of the whole village centre under water, but I can't find them) though the culverts get blocked with weed and leaves, and there's always some idiot who thinks the way to get through is to drive as fast as possible, breaking down and making life difficult for all.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008


Ah, November. Rain and wind and cold.

This is this morning's picture. The milk delivery truck coming round the corner - it looks early but was, in fact, about 7.45 am.

No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -
Thomas Hood, 1844

The practice jumps are out, but the view is anything but glorious. Molly, the Springer Spaniel and I got thoroughly soaked this morning on what was really a very short walk. Neither she nor I wanted to stay out. They say there's no such thing as bad weather - only inappropriate clothing. They know where they can stick that!

In contrast, this rather sunny picture has a much sadder reason for being here. It's the Beach Head War Cemetery in Anzio, and as we come up to Remembrance Day, this blog page is dedicated to the memory of Gunner James Roberts, 3913389, 90 Lt.A.A. Regt., Royal Artillery, son of William and Cathrine Roberts, who died age 27 on 17 March 1944 in Anzio.
They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.