2015 — 6 March: Friday

I mentioned1 the end of my trusting relationship with Windows XP that occurred back in early 2008. It set me wondering when I'd first ever had a Windows system. Turned out, that was in 1996 during the first couple of months of my decade-plus in the IBM Java Centre. I'd even told dear Mama about it:

... but the first version of the DTP software that eventually turned up was for the wrong operating system, and when the right version did show up, it turns out I'm still going to have to tinker with my system before I can run it. Yes! I'm going to have to install a real Windows system after six years of getting used to OS/2!
After nearly a week of uneasy co-existence on my desktop machine at work between IBM's OS/2 Warp and Microsoft's Windows 95 [I've had to make it "dual bootable" to give it the two distinct personalities] I've decided to wait until Monday before I try to transfer the Sun FrameMaker output rtf (Rich Text Format) files across to the DTP system I use under OS/2. I don't want my weekend spoiled by the knowledge that this tortuous transfer process doesn't work! I must reluctantly concede, however, that Microsoft is winning on "user-friendly" points, so far, though it is also managing to slow a very fast Pentium to barely a crawl at times.
Neither incarnation is up to the Risc PC I have at home...

Date: 3 March and 10 March 1996

Whatever happened to OS/2, I wonder? Indeed, whatever happened to "very fast Pentiums" for that matter?


Plus ça change! G'nite.

Hello, pension!

Get ready for your first burst of foody shopping this morning. Last night's "beefy meatballs in a rich herb sauce" (a first) went down (as it were) a treat. I regard myself by now as an accomplished heater-upper of previously unconsidered trifles — I wouldn't dream of heating a trifle itself, of course. That would be just plain wrong :-)

Mrs Dentist glared2 at me sternly, then asked "Do you drink a lot of fruit juice?" before (when I said "No, but I eat a lot of fresh fruit") waxing lyrical yesterday on the relative neutral pH effects of nuts over the nasty fruity acidity of, erm, fresh fruit. I wonder what the guvmint-level trade-off is between the UK's increased dental treatment costs and the obesity (and other) costs of munching less fruit? "It's all the sugar in junk food", opined she. You can't win, of course. And nobody actually gets out of here alive.

Then, in light of my delicious stewed plum and cranberry topping® for my daily bowel-friendly bowl of high-fibre cereal sludge, she told me to brush my teeth before breakfast, not after. Well, not for 30 minutes after.

Hah! The early shopper (me) catches the worm. While avoiding (some of) the heavier Friday traffic.

Having meandered...

... down past the Postbox, and then picked up a copy of the "Radio Times" from what was, for over quarter of a century, my newsagent3 purely to see what I've been missing (£2? Outrageous!) on the walk back, I now have Brian's latest code drop to experiment with. I think I shall need a cuppa to steady my nerves before tackling that.

16 pages out of 162 to cover a whole week of upcoming UK radio. Hardly seems fair, does it? I was amused to spot Alison Bechdel's movie test cropping up as the hook for tomorrow's "Sound of Cinema". [Pause] The afternoon snail mail included news of a minor-league uptick in dear Mama's weekly pension and, for some reason, a "payslip" from IBM. From which I see that my post-April 2005 age-related supplement that they pay me (to prevent me from suing them for Age Discrimination) is now a munificent 29 pence per month. Crikey. Seven months of that, and I'll be able to buy another copy of "Radio Times"!

You'll find...

... entertaining paragraphs in both these pieces. Best read in the order here. (Link #1 and link #2.)

This interview, by contrast, I found both depressing and disturbing. Source and snippet:

Computers are very, very, very far from being like humans, especially when it comes to consciousness. The problem is different, that the system, the military and economic and political system doesn't really need consciousness... It needs intelligence. And intelligence is a far easier thing than consciousness. And the problem is, computers may not become conscious, I don't know, ever ... I would say 500 years ... but they could be as intelligent or more intelligent than humans in particular tasks very quickly.

Daniel Kahneman and Yuval Noah Harari in Edge.org

Brian's hard work...

... boils neatly down to a little over one second of elapsed CPU time on BlackBeast. His three bits of magical Python code each read the same 9,000 lines of my now properly-structured "Books data" out of a SQLite DB, sorting them differently each time on the way out, and formatting them into the three different SHTML web pages I asked for.

3x Python data sorts

He's even now working on two more variations on this theme, to be published on the external 'molehole' server quite soon. That will probably add another 0.7 seconds or so to the CPU total. Given the basic 3.4 GHz clock rate of my quad core Intel i7 2600K, that's a lot of work...

... in human terms :-)

I was delighted...

... to see this visible evidence of the progress, towards Technology Towers, of my next little toy:

Yodel courier progress

My current graphics card can drive my 4K display screen at its native resolution (3840x2160) and refresh rate (60Hz). But when repainting complex screen images, and while playing some hi-def video files, I can see it struggles. So I'm upgrading to a GEForce GTX970. With 4GB of GDDR5 memory and over 5 billion transistors I expect this will handle anything I throw its way.

GEForce GTX970

Those cooling fans only spin if needed. I don't play games on BlackBeast, so I hope to remain in blissful silence. I've downloaded the official 64-bit Linux driver, and ordered the little power connector needed to avoid overloading the PCI-Express power rail. It's all due on Monday.



1  Yesterday.
2  Hard to be sure. She'd nicked my glasses and given me some battered goggles. People have no idea what a short-range visual world I inhabit until I find and put on my glasses...
3  Until one week, just after their new computer system went 'live', the spotty lad behind the counter used it to inform me that my week's paper bill plus the accumulated unpaid ones was (from repressed memory) a little over £3,000 (also outrageous!)