If he acts crazy so well, then he must be mad. ►

◄ Romancing the Personal Computer industry.

2002-09-14Hakuna matata, ain't no passing phaaaaase...

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Right… there are a lot of people I want to write to about the week just gone, but the facts are the same and if I wrote them separately, the twentieth version would end with an onomatopoeical BANG! and thus none of them would get sent. This will probably also end up on my weblog at some stage, so point your browsers at virtualdebris.co.uk if you want to read more slightly acerbic musings. :) [You're already here, folks...]

Therefore, you can take for granted the fact that I am traveling with just a suitcase, a Compaq Armada 7400 in a carry case, and a backpack—and am attempting not to acquire too many books and other things which I shall either have to send home or crumple under the weight of when moving during term (teaching practices aren't conducted within Aber, y'see.)

The accommodation is crap. :shifty: We appear to be paying for the refurbishment of the other Cwrt Mawr blocks, since we're forking out the refurb price for the worst block. The rooms are 2-amp fused, which means that someone is going to set something on fire by the end of the year. Alternately they will simply blow the block… boy, am I glad I have an uninterruptible power supply in the form of the laptop battery; it's something which people tend to forget the convenience of when purchasing PCs. I've already had to take a screwdriver to a leaking radiator which conveniently leaked everywhere… but at least the heating appears to be on now, at least some of the time. :|

The course is a little better now that we have timetables and an idea of deadlines, and aren't simply being told, "turn up again in an hour"… thus far we've been through the basic outline of Key Stage 3 English, drama techniques for introducing classes, been given a stack of stuff to read, traipsed around between campuses a lot, and got to know each other a bit. I think I should probably start trying to be a little less vocally sarcastic, because I am actually quite enthusiastic the majority of the time. Our course leader is rather similar in person and temperament to Christine Richards (my French teacher at school), which I offer as a quick, reductivist character sketch rather than considered critical assessment. It's always interesting how people begin to loosely inhabit archetypes as you meet more of them, isn't it? :smokin:

Old College remains a lovely old castle-y thing, although I still freak about how low the guide rails (which are all that stand between anyone over 5ft and a spectacular plunging death) are. :eek: It's something of a warren, but we aren't expected to find our way around most of it. Besides which, we're only here for another three weeks before we relocate to another part of Wales… thus, I need to look into housing around Queen Elizabeth Cambria as soon as possible, but the chaos is going to be slightly more bearable as someone on the same course (Rowenna) also has that as first placement. I shall worry about the second (at Llandovery College) after that is more planned. [Note to parents: Geographically this is below Aber, but the maps we have are not the most accurate of things. Will report back with further details once I've consulted another.]

Wednesday evening was fun, trying to print something in a campus computer room. :mad: If I could have carried my laser printer up here I would have, but having already lugged said beautiful piece of thirteen-year-old hardware back from Edinburgh (and considering that fact that it weighs about the same as I do), this sadly wasn't much of an option. Thus, I am reliant on what passes for Information Services at UWA; in the vernacular of A.A. Milne, this is Not A Good Thing and is Virtually Guaranteed To End In Tears Or Murder. First, the Cwrt Mawr room simply ate my disc. :glare: Nothing unusual there, although I now have even more sympathy for the many non-technical and foreign students to whom said room is typically their first struggle with the effects of entropy on campus kibble. Secondly (or zero-ly, to be precise), the swipe-card lock was broken, which myself and my flatmate Kate reasonably presumed was just as likely to be the result of duff issue cards. Fortunately it turned out the following day that this was not the case, though my previous UWA account hadn't been transferred correctly and I would have been prevented from issuing books (!)—actually, that brings me onto the gripe about printer quota. I had several pounds of colour credit on my existing card. Now, that shouldn't have been any trouble to transfer, you would think. But no… UWA not only does not bother to do that, it also treats colour printing quota differently to mono quota, rather than equating one colour page to ten mono, or whatever is the case. Unsurprisingly, at this point in the bureaucratic nightmare I just ditched the old card. Added to this :? , filestores weren't functional to receive emails, nor was the webmail system fully operational. Now, 'term' starts for freshers in a week and a bit, but the university has courses which begun on the 9th—so, as PGCE postgrads we're given ridiculous library opening hours (9 to 5) when a typical timetabled day may run from 9 to 4 and be mostly held on the other side of town. More to the point, we have more need for functional email systems at the start of a course than 'freshers' ;) , who won't be doing much of anything for the first week except give each other (and us) hideous ailments. It isn't much wonder, therefore, that most of the people I did three-year degrees with found they could not cope without a PC of their own, or access to friends who did… which is a shame, since there are over a thousand workstations over multiple campuses… many of which have the same knackered mice and floppy drives they did last year. This is largely due to a system which tends to insist on faults being reported individually, rather than "the situation is so bad that there's about a 1 in 3 chance of losing a disc taken into Cwrt Mawr"… :|

Most of the above problems could be solved by anyone who could handle a simple relational database or a department which put more priority on maintaining existing machines than acquiring new ones or pointlessly upgrading everything in sight to Windows and Office XP… and also got a budget which would last long enough into term to be able to replace things such as mice and disc drives. :glare: So, it's partly bad cashflow from the university, but general lack of internal communing is also in there. Heh; IT techs anywhere absolutely hate people who know their way around a computer, possibly even more so than those who think they do, as they can tell the difference between "it isn't possible" and "our system is too rigidly inflexible". I'm still at the woefully enthusiastic stage of thinking that possibly if people stopped casually exaggerating the difficulty of things; others might listen more when it was actually true. :p

On a related note, I've blown one side of the laptop speakers already… fortunately the passive Sony things I bought for my personal CD player are pretty responsive to dynamic equalisation. :lol: Therefore the working area is liveable with music, at least. (And as a complete aside, anyone looking for cheap PC graphics software should note that a full version of Paint Shop Pro 5 is featured on this month's PC Format mag, competent enough for the majority of users, but simple enough for beginners to play. It works well on slightly older systems, too, which is why I jumped on the chance—I may have doubled up to 128mb memory, but the processor is still 300mhz.)

Virtually all those who were hanging around in Aber until their summer tenancies ran out have gone as of this week… Mark and Karen to Bristol via Manchester, Pete has been in the Midlands for a while, Lou will probably be off this weekend (and has secured herself a uni course, which is cool!) and I'm unsure about Tim, who I haven't seen yet. Lisa has resolved to backpack for a while (helped by the fact Ed still has a flat in Aber), Gaz and Dan are still undergrads at Aber, and Laura is similarly doing an Eng PGCE. 8) I'm not entirely sure what Anthony and Fraisia are up to these days, but have seen Lisa's cool official photos of their wedding now! I think Jonny is also still heading toward Bristol at some stage, and obviously Anna is finishing her degree here.

When Gaz and Dan have a flat sorted out, we'll have a focal point for congregation… whereas at the moment Laura and Gaz are trying to move out of what was to be Laura's flat for this year, but turned out to be inhabited by a rabidly puritanical landlord :shock:—on the plus side, no contract signed whilst on the minus money has already changed hands. It'll all work out... anyway, for the moment, mobiles are the only way to find anyone and it's all a bit disjointed. :lol: My email provisions notwithstanding, there's little point in my giving anyone a postal address at this point—hopefully intermittent web access should cover all that, just bear in mind I'm not intentionally avoiding anyone, just busy, mobile and scatterbrained. Rather large apologies in particular to my ex, who I've failed to do more than text message for a rather long while… will send this via post, 'cause I know you hate email. If anyone wants to get in touch, you have my address, and I will endeavour to check mail as often as possible. Hugs to y'all! :smooch:


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