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D-I-S-K ... oh. - shadows of echoes of memories of songs — LiveJournal
D-I-S-K ... oh.
On Monday, my desktop PC turned up its toes and died, with a noise like small rodents eating through the hard disk. To be honest, vermin (or even this) might as well have the cause of its demise, for all they could do about it. A helpdesk guy came and looked at the disk, said "It's dead, Jim" (or words to that effect) and carted the computer away.

I wasted most of Monday afternoon fiddling around with the old G3 that belongs to the web team (and lives on my desk) -- removing my predecessor's account on the machine (he'd been considerate enough not only to set his password to his CRSid, but in case there was any doubt, to give "CRSid" as his password hint) and setting up my own; running a year's backlog of security updates and software updates; fiddling with Safari's preferences; installing Netscape; and generally doing nothing even remotely resembling work. While the updates were running (the mills of Jobs grind slowly, on a 400MHz G3) I borrowed a spare PC which was on the wrong network for me to use it sensibly, and experimented with Outlook's webmail interface (verdict: it is teh SUxx0r) in the vain hope of answering some webmaster enquiries.

Four hours later I had a new PC. Of course, being helpdesk, they hadn't bothered to reinstall any of the software I'd had on the machine before; I got Macromedia back, but I'm still waiting for my beloved Acrobat Professional and it'd be nice if they'd give me the registration code again for the copy of TextPad we paid for, so it doesn't keep telling me it's unregistered.

Somewhere in all this mess I went to set up a default printer. Start -> Settings -> Printers -> Add Printer, and it basically does it all for you; I browsed the network, selected our catchily-named printer "OLD102A4", and printed. Nothing. Checked settings, turned out I'd accidentally clicked the adjacent "OLD103A4"; oh well, somebody somewhere has a printout they don't know what to do with, but never mind. Change settings, print, all fine.

This morning one of the network guys came over, looking suspicious.

HIM: "Did you print to the domain server printer?"
ME: "Huh?"
HIM: "We've got a printout with your userid to OLD103A4 ..."
ME: "Oh, yeah, sorry, that'd be me; I selected the wrong printer when I was setting up, I've changed it back now."
HIM: [black looks] "You shouldn't be able to access that printer. It's not one we make available. What did you do?"
ME: "Uhm, well, I just went through the setup wizard..."
HIM: "You shouldn't be able to get to that printer."
ME: "Well, you know, I just selected it from a list, it was next to the other printer with the nearly-identical name, I mis-clicked..."
HIM: "We don't make that printer available. How did you get to it?"
ME: "Well, look, I just went to Settings ... [click, click] ... and then 'Type the name, or click Next to browse for a printer...'"
HIM: "You're not supposed to do that. See, you do it like this; go to Start..."
ME: "I'm in Start. Here's the Printer settings. Look."
HIM: "No, you're not supposed to do that. Go to Start."
[j4 grinds teeth, clicks 'Start']
HIM: "Then go to Search, and 'Find printers'."
ME: "Ah right, I'll do it that way next time. Anyway, I'm sorry I selected the wrong printer, I've changed it back now."
HIM: "No, you still have to go through and set it up this way."
[j4 grinds teeth, removes old printer, adds same printer via different click-through as dictated by self-appointed guru]
ME: "There you go."
HIM: [harping on] "You should never have been able to get to that printer."
ME: "Well, I could get to it."
HIM: "We've changed it now so that you can't."
ME: [sotto voce] "That would be sensible, yes."

[exit HIM, disgruntled]

ME: [internal monologue] "Because frankly, if you guys can't configure print permissions to stop people printing to your precious seekrit printer, the one with the name that's conveniently only one letter different from the main departmental printer, THEN YOU SHOULDN'T BE ADMINISTERING THE SODDING NETWORK. And does it really make any difference whether I select this printer from a list which I've arrived at by setting up the printer via the apparently misleadingly-named 'Printer Setup' or from a list which I've arrived at via the 'Search Everything: for people who can't read menus' option? Hmmm? Because if it does, Windows is more IRREDEEMABLY AND ARBITRARILY SHIT than I ever imagined; and if it doesn't, I suspect you just don't want to admit you didn't know how to do it that way."
HIM: [imaginary, and thus conveniently muted until this point] "Gee, you know, you're right. I will go outside and shoot myself now."

[exit, chastised]

ME: "Thanks."

[FX: pistol-shot offstage]

ME: "What a senseless waste of human life."


In other news: I'm tired. It's entirely my own fault, because I'm doing too much ... and loving it. It's getting to the point where I think I'll have been to more gigs, plays, clubs, parties, etc. in the last three months of 2004 than in the preceding three years. Complaining about this would be like complaining that I'm just too damn gorgeous and as a result I'm constantly fighting off suitors; that is, it'd be inviting a slap. The only real problem with this heady whirl of social and cultural activity is that it means I'm left with next to no time in which to write anything up... but here goes.

We saw The Incredibles last weekend; enough people on my flist have reviewed it that I don't think I've much to add. I'm in the fortunate position of not having watched enough films to give a damn about whether it's a "classic" or a "great film", so I was free to just enjoy a thoroughly entertaining, witty and well-written animated superhero movie. Despite my film illiteracy, I'd somehow managed to see enough films to pick up a fair amount of the in-jokes and references; I don't think this was at all necessary to appreciate the film, but it provided us with some fun anoraky conversation over drinks & dinner afterwards at the Zebra.

The Cambridge Concert Orchestra had their last concert of term on Wednesday, at a local nursing home; it went well, the audience mostly seemed to have fun. It did occur to me, though, that there's some kind of unspoken and probably incorrect assumption that people in old people's homes will want to listen to the popular classics of the first half of the 20th century being mutilated by "enthusiastic amateurs". Worse, our audiences at such venues seem to just get wheeled in to listen to us whether they like it or not. I am starting to suspect that my karmic punishment for subjecting innocent oldpersons to this torture will be that, when I am old and dribbling, I will in turn be forced to listen to amateur orchestras performing medleys of Westlife songs, and "novelty" arrangements of themes from 1990s computer games (with hilarious solo for Gameboy).


I feel I should be making more effort to link to exciting things, but you're all so hip you'll be way ahead of me on the cool stuff. Everybody is coming to PopArt at the Junction on Friday 17th, right? In the meantime, if you need a quick fix of INDIE DISCO, Fopp currently have this rather fine double album for that insidious price "only a fiver". I wonder if I could play the Princess card and sue Fopp for selling cartloads of cool CDs at deceptively affordable prices without first checking that my bank balance can stand it?

On a slightly different musical tack, tonight I get to see the film of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. I confess I'm excited about it: not just because I get a ready-made excuse to wear my opera cloak, but also because it wouldn't be much exaggeration to say that I've been waiting for this film for 15 years -- i.e. ever since I saw the musical on stage. There's no way it's going to prove to have been worth that kind of wait; but the Independent's rather damning review makes me fairly confident that I'm going to love it anyway, for nearly all the reasons that they hate it. I mean, they say "Wedged somewhere between Bonnie Tyler and Adam and the Ants" like it's a bad thing.
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From: fluffymormegil Date: December 10th, 2004 04:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Which reminds me, I must go get the Best Of James.
(Deleted comment)
verlaine From: verlaine Date: December 10th, 2004 04:25 am (UTC) (Link)

(But I would if I could...)
j4 From: j4 Date: December 10th, 2004 06:42 am (UTC) (Link)
You'd better have a good excuse!
hairyears From: hairyears Date: December 10th, 2004 07:04 am (UTC) (Link)
I'd love to but I'd have to sort out crash space in Cambridge.
(Deleted comment)
hairyears From: hairyears Date: December 10th, 2004 07:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: To crash or not to crash?

Ah. I wondered how you managed. But no, that's just displacing the problem.
addedentry From: addedentry Date: December 10th, 2004 05:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Lloyd Webber's been waiting 15 years for the film as well. There, I think, the resemblance ends.

Is so-bad-it's-good the same as so-good-it-hurts, or as it-hurts-so-much-it's-good?
j4 From: j4 Date: December 10th, 2004 06:42 am (UTC) (Link)


There, I think, the resemblance ends.

Are you dissing my musical talent, or trying to compliment me on not having a face like the back end of a bus? I ask merely for information.

Is so-bad-it's-good the same as so-good-it-hurts, or as it-hurts-so-much-it's-good?

Yes! For tragical-comical-historical-new-romantical-pastoral. The thing is, though, I think it'll be so good it's good, because I just like the music. I mean, not in an ironic way. Not even in a post-ironic way.
addedentry From: addedentry Date: December 10th, 2004 06:53 am (UTC) (Link)

A question of (new) romantics

Are you dissing my musical talent, or trying to compliment me on not having a face like the back end of a bus?

Ah, the beauty of the London Routemaster ...


Tragedy tomorrow; comedy tonight. Which does a midnight screening count as?
j4 From: j4 Date: December 10th, 2004 07:33 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A question of (new) romantics

Tragedy tomorrow

You didn't tell me Steps were playing at that gig!
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: December 10th, 2004 06:45 am (UTC) (Link)
That Spamusement link is fab. I think my favourite is let yoda refinance your house.

Thank you for sharing! (And, talking of sharing, if you have a .mp3 of Dr. Spin's finest... hey, it was on Now 23!)
j4 From: j4 Date: December 10th, 2004 07:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually, I might have a copy of that somewhere... though probably only on tape. :-/ Will have a look, though. I do remember it, at least!
jiggery_pokery From: jiggery_pokery Date: December 10th, 2004 08:21 am (UTC) (Link)
This is about the third or fourth occasion on which I wished there was such a thing as a good-quality audio tape drive for a PC. I suspect it's possible to get the same fuctionality just from the microphone socket and sufficient clue which I currently lack, but I'd pay a little bit for hand-holding, integration with other useful utilities, proper treatment of stereo and so forth.

Does such a thing already exist?
mair_aw From: mair_aw Date: December 10th, 2004 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
sufficient clue which I currently lack

A cable with one end that goes in the headphone hole of the tape player and one end that goes in the microphone of the computer (I think that means both ends the same, and a fairly standard cable).

A volume button that allows you to adjust "microphone" volume (turn it up).

's all you need.
sion_a From: sion_a Date: December 11th, 2004 03:42 am (UTC) (Link)
both ends the same, and a fairly standard cable

3.5mm stereo jack male to 3.5mm stereo jack male, available in your friendly neighbourhood Maplins in more varieties than you can shake a stick at. Or, if it's a proper tape deck with line level phono connectors, use those with a stereo phono (RCA jack to Americans) male to 3.5mm stereo jack male. Likewise readily available (it's what you need if you're playing from a computer through a hifi). Or stick that into a line out from your amp (mine has two—one for the tape and one optimistically labelled "MD"). Sound cards, as I understand it, are usually engineered to take either mic level or line level, and you fiddle with it in software.
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: December 10th, 2004 07:24 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Music of the night?

See, again, I read the review and think "but that sounds wonderful!" :-)

(Deleted comment)
burkesworks From: burkesworks Date: December 10th, 2004 08:04 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Music of the night?

Love the review, though personally I'd rather have my teeth pulled with rusty pliers than sit through anything involving music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, especially when directed by a bozo like Schumacher who has a well-earned reputation as the kind of guy who puts the kind of flash-bang-wallop as developed by Industrial Light & Magic well ahead of actual content in his films. Each to their own, I guess!
vinaigrettegirl From: vinaigrettegirl Date: December 10th, 2004 01:02 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Music of the night?

Maybe someone had Michael Howard and the Tories in mind when reviewing the film? Grand guignol covered in vanilla sauce...?

I once went to an ALW, just to say I had done it, and to oblige a good friend (I didn't inhale ;-> ) but otherwise it's you and me with the rusty pliers. ALW alone is bad enough. The review, though, is also a rusty pliers job; reviewers should always remember that pitch sticks.

Erm, time for more Ch. de Chasselas, I think.
burkesworks From: burkesworks Date: December 11th, 2004 04:50 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Music of the night?

Vanilla sauce would not be unctuous enough for Howard. Grand Guignol covered in something cheap and nasty like Caramac would be more apt for the Man of the Pee-Pull.
From: besskeloid Date: December 10th, 2004 09:00 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Music of the night?

There's been a lot of Pseuds' Corner entries that ought not to have been there lately.
hairyears From: hairyears Date: December 10th, 2004 07:20 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, there's a weary sense of familiarity in reading about your Helpdesk techs. Are they born, or made? Or hatched in Jam jars? They sure as hell ain't trained.

BTW, why didn't you log a help call, asking them to turn your machine on? Always good for a laugh, getting some smugly amused master technician up from the basement, armed with crusted finger and the sure and certain knowledge that he can find the 'on' switch and you can't. Only to find that it won't start up and he hasn't a clue why not.
j4 From: j4 Date: December 10th, 2004 07:30 am (UTC) (Link)
They sure as hell ain't trained.

This is what saddens me; either they're not being trained properly once they've got the job (in which case somebody above them in the management chain is stupid) or they're being employed when they're not qualified to do the job (in which case, err, somebody above them in the management chain is stupid).


BTW, why didn't you log a help call, asking them to turn your machine on?

Heh. Could do that now just to annoy them, & then when they do it, say "I wasn't sure if we were allowed to switch it on that way." ... A while back, when we weren't allowed to install anything, we weren't even allowed to have access to the control panel etc. in case we "broke anything". So we logged helpdesk calls for things like "turn the volume up", "change screen resolution", etc. ... until they gave up and let us have administrator rights on our own machines. That was fun. :-)

I think at least part of the problem is that policy is set by people who don't understand the policy, and then implemented by people who don't realise this. :-/
nja From: nja Date: December 10th, 2004 08:55 am (UTC) (Link)
HIM: [harping on] "You should never have been able to get to that printer."

Translation: I've screwed up and it's your fault for finding me out.

Our lot got away with an awful lot until recently, because they refused to use a proper fault call reporting system and they could lie outright about having recieved and/or dealt successfully with fault calls. Now it all goes into a database and their boss can check the request and their response to it, they have a markedly better attitude. Also, I suspect someone told them that being rude to "some idiotic woman" isn't a good idea when the woman in question is a) not by any means an idiot, b) perfectly capable of telling when someone doesn't know the answer to a question and is bullshitting her, and c) the secretary to the Dean of a Faculty.
emperor From: emperor Date: December 10th, 2004 09:56 am (UTC) (Link)

The Phandom Movie

Not sure whether I will go to this or not. I loved the stage show, and elb and I used to sing bits of it together for fun.

You should write rants about helldesk people more often. In any case, do they count as "human life"? :)
ewx From: ewx Date: December 11th, 2004 03:55 am (UTC) (Link)

Oh, we went to see it last night too, in fact. What did you think?

(I wonder if it was the same showing...)

j4 From: j4 Date: December 13th, 2004 03:45 am (UTC) (Link)
same showing

I doubt it -- we went to an 11:30pm showing in London...

I thought it had a lot of good ingredients but overall it was disappointing. Will probably get round to writing more about it at some point on LJ...
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