Potpourri, June 18th (2016 edition)

1959ish, I'd sayIt’s been a few months of hardware madness here — and if you know my tastes in computer stuff, you know they lean towards the software rather than the hardware side of things. So I haven’t been entirely happy during that time…

Back in mid-April, my two-terabyte (2TB) hard drive abruptly failed. It took me several weeks — educational ones, to be sure — to admit that I probably could not resuscitate the thing. I replaced it with a 3TB one, and all went swimmingly at first…

…at least, until I installed Windows 10 on it.

Here’s how my computer at home has been set up, now going back maybe five-six years:

The hard drive is divided into two (main) partitions, running two entirely different operating systems: Windows in the first partition, and Linux in the second. This is called a dual-boot setup: when you boot the computer, you’re prompted to select which operating system you want to run for this session. The default for me is Linux, but I do occasionally (rarely, actually) use Windows for one specific program or another.

The Windows side has moved progressively from Windows XP to Windows 7 and then finally to Windows 10, via the automatic (i.e., forced) upgrade which Microsoft “offers” to users of older versions. When I installed Windows 10 on the new hard drive, I was actually restoring it.

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Smashing Your Thumb with Your Trusty Hammer

[Technology alert: If you’re not into PC tech, especially wonky stuff about operating systems and such, you might want to give this post a pass.]

As some of you may know, I almost never use Microsoft Windows anymore — at least, when at home. (At work, there’s no other option.) Until a couple days ago, in fact, I hadn’t used Windows since, oh, August, maybe? July?

That phrase “almost never use Microsoft Windows anymore” catches a lot of people by surprise. Especially when I clarify further: “…and I don’t own a Mac, either.” Like, what other option is there? And all other considerations aside, why would someone NOT use Windows or a Mac in the first place?

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Forward Bravely, into the Past!

Bogus RAND computer (click to enlarge)

This March — the 12th, and isn’t it interesting I remember the exact date? — marks my 30th year as a computer guy.

When I started out at AT&T, my job title was Member of Programming Staff (with a digression into Managerhood); at my present job, I’ve been a Distributed Systems Specialist, a Business Systems Analyst, and a Database Analyst. (Oh, and throw in whatever you call a departmental Webmaster, too. Probably exactly that.)

And then I’ve built and maintained other Web sites, as well, and RAMH is, like, my fourth or fifth blog since 1999-2000 or so.

By now, you might think, I’d be right up there in the vanguard doing the Pied Piper thing, urging everyone else to join the cyber/systems/virtual revolution.

Er, no.

Into my Inbox recently drifted a plaintive email from a young guy with a computing question. In purchasing a new computer, it seems that he had to choose between two options: a souped-up whiz-bang up-to-the-minute model? or scale back on the computer itself, and spring for a really nice monitor?

I counseled him to choose Door #2, introducing it with the (perhaps surprising) claim:

I tend to be conservative in matters of computer hardware: I don’t want my computer to make my heart race; I want it to be INVISIBLE.

That pretty much sums it up.

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Smile After Smile

JES, en mosaicThey say old habits die hard, and I guess it’s true.

But traditions are a sort of shared old habit, and traditions don’t die hard at all — although they don’t flat-out die, either. Traditions evolve. People come and go. What’s possible replaces what you could never do, and what you used to do all the time gets a lot harder as the muscle aches and stray indecisions of age set in.

So all right, I know: the “Christmas traditions” I remember from my four decades in New Jersey are probably long gone.

(Early in the week, I asked my mother what she’d be making for Christmas dinner — feeling all nostalgic, y’know, for turkey and pies and fruit cake and all that, to say nothing of the many-voiced family sit-down conversation around the table. “Meatball sandwiches,” she said. “What?!?” “Well,” she explained, “it was just getting too complicated trying to get everybody here at the same time, for the same length of time. This way they can drop in whenever they want and stay as long as they want.”)

But the one tradition that lives on — one that I haven’t been able to take part in, not for many years — is just seeing everyone at Christmas.

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