Living with Linux

August 30, 2009

After a recent spate of malware infections I had come to the end of my patience with Windows.

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Through the magic of Twitter my plight was made public.

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The answering call came from from Mr.Mac, as you can see, suggesting I try a version of Linux called Mint. He also very kindly sent me a long email explaining a partitioning scheme and other useful tips.

So I had a play around with it, I wasn’t a complete newbie having played around with some live-cd installs before, oddly enough almost exactly a year ago! In fact, it was a live-cd of Ubuntu that I used to retrieve a lot of the files from my recently screwed up Windows install.

First off I installed Mint on my laptop, I’ll confess it wasn’t absolutely smooth sailing and I had some learning to do. In my typical fashion, I didn’t carefully read the instructions provided by Mr.Mac, leaving me playing around with the partitions for a few days. I couldn’t get the installer to create the ntfs partition I wanted to use as a shared area. Once I figured out to create the partitions in partition editor before running the installer I was away. My next step was installing on our desktop machine which, thanks to my laptop pain, went a lot smoother.

Once everything was up and running, I spent some time setting things up to share things across the Windows/Linux divide, for example I can open Thunderbird and since emails are on the shared partition are available to me in in either. My Firefox bookmarks are synchronised across all 4 installs using a handy program called Xmarks.

Things are simple in Linux and just seem to work, I haven’t had a problem so far that hasn’t been fixed by the first answer given on the Mint forums. You see those pictures up there, the ones taken from Twitter and Tweet deck? I grabbed them in moment using the Take Screenshot app that’s installed from the start. In Windows I would have been fiddling around with picture editing to produce the same result, in fact so ingrained is this behaviour that I fired up Gimp before remembering that I’d seen the screenshot app in the menu.

One of the main reasons I’d held off on going further with Linux on previous forays was my darling Paul. In practice this hasn’t been a problem, there has been the odd comment but mostly he has taken to it easily. The main things he does are web and email so there isn’t a lot of differences to get used to. He also likes to watch movies and that’s taken care of easily with the default programs, plus there is a version of VLC for Linux to make the change even easier. I’m missing utorrent a bit but the Linux client Transmission does the job easily and simply.

In conclusion, I’m sold on Linux, its ironic really the time I spent making things share across the divide far outweighs the actual time I have needed to boot into Windows. This week I booted into Windows once, I just need to get the Nokia PC Suite working in Linux and find a photo management app that I like and I think that might be me using Linux 100% of the time 🙂

If you are thinking about an alternative to Windows, I urge you to give it a go, you wont be sorry. If you want any advice, i’m no expert but I’m learning all the time, feel free to ask 🙂


Team Andy’s Curry Club

July 18, 2008

NaBloPoMo July 08 Day18

Last night we ate out, for it was Thursday, which means Curry Club!

I’ve been promising to go to Curry Club with members of my team and had to keep putting it off, either they or I was on late shift etc….. It all came together yesterday and we managed to get 5 of us in the same place at the same time 🙂 (The 2 no-shows barely deserve mention.)

Team Andy's Curry Club

You’ll have to excuse the picture quality, I realised this morning that I left the camera on “close up” for all of them. So only the actual close up of the food is of a reasonable clarity.

The 2 NRI’s proclaimed the curry to be of a passing standard. The mango chutney however, caused wrinkled noses and was discarded after the first tasting.

Top left, food. Top right, Satya between Luke and Lisa, the mosiac maker was pretty cruel in cropping them out of the frame. Bottom left, Paul and a blurry Nick. Bottom right, Luke and Satya admiring Luke’s wonderful photos that are no doubt much better than these, if only for being in focus!


All wrapped up.

April 10, 2008

I saw a trailer on TV tonight, a Cutting Edge show called Cotton Wool Kids, something about killing kids with kindness or something.

It got me thinking about how things how things have changed over the years. A colleague recently told me a tale of her daughter having a bit of a strop after a bit of wet water was spilt on her jeans. When I was a kid, somewhere around the 80’s, if it rained in the morning I still had to walk to school. I’d then most likely have wet trousers and blazer and just have to put up with it until I dried out.

A day or two afterwards, I was talking to another colleague and in the course, we landed on the topic of his childhood. He arrived from Africa into the UK aged 4, and over several years his family came back together, each taking their own journey to freedom and (some) normality. The most disturbing thing is that he remembers saying to his mum, “If its a war going on, why are people sleeping in the road?”

I’m sure you can guess why he thought they were sleeping.

In conclusion, watching stupid programmes made by idiots about how difficult things are in the UK, just makes me angry.


The daily grind.

April 4, 2008

The lovely Min and Lee bought me a wonderful gift this week. My very own Pestle and Mortar.

I’ve wanted one for a while but just not spotted the right one, if I had have, then this would be it!

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On Saturday I spotted an ok one in Morrisons, and I even put it in the basket. Paul was quite strong in letting me know that he didnt like it and it wouldnt go in the kitchen and it was the wrong size, colour and everything. Later after shopping we dropped in at his Mums house and I even relayed the story of how he wouldnt let me buy the Pestle & Mortar, he even “got dun” off his Mum. Now I find out that he was only trying to put me off because he knew that Min was looking for a nice one to get me as a gift.

I should have known something was wrong, we never stop each other buying things we really want!

(I did apologise for telling his Mum!)

Hint Hint, if you also feel the need to buy me a gift any time soon, I’ve got my eye on one of these 😉


My masala dabba Originally uploaded by Laquet.


Foodie stuff from the last week.

April 2, 2008

I love nosing around the foreign food sections in the local supermarkets, in the past these have been mostly Indian, Chinese and West Indian foods. I’m not talking about the aisle with the Sharwoods or the Vesta prawn curry, I’m talking about the tiny section of shelves that have the authentic stuff, packets of Dosa mix or Urad dal, Jerk seasoning, fish sauce and every type of lentil you can imagine.

I know the recent influx of migrants from Eastern Europe isnt everyones favourite topic, but lets not dwell on that. I for one am pretty happy that the supermarkets are catering for them 🙂 There is, it seems, a never ending array of different Polish, Czech and even Bulgarian beers to try and believe me I’m trying! I’m also loving some of their spicy sausage products.

I was most pleased to come across these packet soups on the Polish bit, reduced from 20p each to OMG I love a bargain, only 10p each. I had no idea what they were but a little translation sticker on each packet gave a helping hand in this direction, “I can always check the Internet when I get home” I thought and that clinched it. So apparently I have Barszcz Czerwony, Barszcz Biaty and Zurek which all promise to be delicious 🙂

It just struck me that when the Marvellous Ms.Mac is talking about finding McVities biscuits in the village of the damned, she is doing something similar but she is the ex-pat and maybe its her neighbours that are getting excited about the foreign food!

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For dinner last Friday, I knocked up a rather quick and easy pasta number. Tricolor Fusili, some lightly steamed green beans, a jar of red Pesto, a can of Tuna and some shavings of good strong mature Cheddar. Delicious!

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It was so tasty and filling that there was a good portion left over. Even as I was eating this for dinner I was planning what to do with the leftovers 🙂 So, on Saturday morning I boiled up a couple of eggs and left them to cool and made some toast. Put it all together and we had the most fantastic brunch dish, hearty, filling and sooo tasty!

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On Bank Holiday Monday just gone, I popped over to my Sisters to drop off that Monitor and the Easter eggs for the boys and I came away with these not so little beauties in return. Not from my Sisters own Ducks, they have Hens, but they do swaps with the Duck owners on the next allotment.

Duck Eggs

The big question what to do with them? Well, we put our heads together and came up with a Frittata / Spanish Omelette, or at least my take on one anyway.

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I can tell you that despite looking a little overdone, it was jolly tasty, I even had a slice left over to take to work as a mid-morning snack.

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Torremolinos pics

March 12, 2008

We got back from Torremolinos on Monday, the weather was fantastic and we all had a great time. Here’s a couple of pics to enjoy.

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These 2 ladies may have also had a great time but they will be regretting being around me and my shameful lack of camera restraint.

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Watch out if you see me poking my camera in your direction!!


Teabag vignette

February 22, 2008

Teabags Vignette

Look at this bounty!

I arrived in work a few days ago and found this little lot on my desk.

What a good friend I have, she had been given a fancy bag load of teabags at the freshers fair and hadnt been interested in them.

I’ll mention no names, she knows who she is and I’ve already thanked her profusely.

All I will say is “Jade, why did you wait so long to bring them into work for me?”


A thought for a friend.

February 5, 2008

A late night, unexpected knock on the door is usually not a sign of good news. Last night at around 21:30, this was proven true yet again. One of our neighbours was at the door and I took one look at his face and knew there was something wrong. I’m trying to avoid using names so this might get a bit confused, its a guy and a gal, they arent a couple, one is gay one not and they’ve lived together for a dozen years.

Its only the other day that Paul and I were saying we hadnt seen much of these neighbours lately. We put it down to our recenty holidays overlapping and the amount of work we had been doing since getting back. In fact, it turns out that the gal in question hadn’t been feeling well but had decided to go on holiday anyway. things got worse and so she went to a hospital in Thailand and paid for an MRI scan. The results came back and her worst fears were realised, they had found a brain tumour.

So the reason we hadnt seen them is that the day we got back from holiday she was (back in the UK) being taken in to hospital for further tests and then a few days later an operation to try to remove the tumor. The news came as a great shock and for me personally it echoed back to my Dad’s brain tumor and subsequent operations to try to remove it. In Dads case, and our neighbours, it wasn’t possible to remove it all, it was certain to grow back.

In this ladies case it’s doubly sad that the operation to remove the tumor has caused paralysis in one leg, there is a small chance this may return but its not looking good. We will be going to see her in hospital this week, its the same Ward that Dad was on, so that may bring mixed memories for me. But its not about me so I’ll try to forget that.

You just never know whats around the corner do you? Just before Christmas these guys were sitting on our sofa having a drink, laughing and joking and looking forward to their holidays. Now, she is fighting for survival and you can imagine that her housemate is in pieces too, although not a couple, they’ve lived together for so long that it adds up to the same thing.

She is very much in my thoughts today, maybe you could spare a thought for her too?

Look after yourselves and those you love and remember that however bad your day is, you still have blessings to count 🙂


Looking back, moving forwards…….

January 19, 2008

I’ve been talking a long hard look at myself recently and I’m trying to be more aware of how my actions might affect others. I catch myself thinking bad thoughts all the time. Not like murderous or criminal stuff, just little things.

Mostly its cruel jibes about a persons physical appearance or even the way they’re dressed. These are things that I wouldn’t have thought twice about when I was younger. Recently, I’m more aware than ever that these strangers are actually people, they have feelings too.

I’ll see a young woman dressed in a mis-match of colours or wearing a silly hat and I’ll be thinking “What is she like?” Then the little voice will break in, “that’s someone’s Sister, imagine if someone was being cruel to my Sister?”

Or, there’ll be some old lady dawdling along in my path and I cant get past. I might open my mouth to proclaim something like “I’ve all the time in the world, dont mind me!” Again, I’ll stop myself with a “that’s someone’s Nan, that is, dont be so cruel.”

Maybe its an overweight, greasy haired frump with terrible skin. Previously, I’d sneer or make a joke, now I wouldn’t. You get the idea.

Writing just those few lines above, gave me quite an uncomfortable feeling, that is probably the best indicator of all that I know I was doing wrong.

When I start to think back over my early years, I hate to admit that I’ve not always been the nicest person. You know the sort of stuff that even many years later, just thinking about it makes you blush with a private embarrassment?

All of this ties in quite nicely with something that happened fairly recently. I was shopping at a local DIY superstore and after a bit of brain-scratching, realised that one of the Greeter/Trolley collector types was a boy that had been in my form-room in School. Lets call him Michael, for no other reason than that was his name. This was a bit unusual in itself since I now live about 30 miles from the town I grew up in and he is the first Mexborough person I’ve ever bumped into over here in Sheffield.

Now Michael wasn’t the brightest kid, more than a bit overweight and rather short (even when compared to me!) He was also a ginger, albeit very dark ginger, had a home haircut courtesy of the pudding basin and to top it all off, he was adopted. Oh, and those eyebrows which always seemed to be in a state of stubbly re-growth, we speculated a lot about that one, punishment from adopted Mother was our conclusion.

So, Michael did get teased a lot and I’m ashamed to say that me and my friend Chris did as much of this as any others. We were the ones tripping him, hiding his things, cheating at cards to make sure he got “slaps” for losing.

It’s true that Children are our future, its also true that they can be cruel little bastards too.

Fast forwards back to the present and I’m now feeling totally shitty. I’m doing OK, after a few early years struggling to find my way, I’ve had a decade of happiness with my Paul, I have a reasonably paid job, my own home that will be paid for this year, I holiday 5 times a year and life is good. I really do have a lot to be thankful for.

Michael, On the other hand, is greeting people as they arrive at the DIY store, collecting trolleys from the car park in the wind and rain, he is Obese, possibly morbidly so and looks like he doesn’t have a lot to smile about. That may all seem to be a lot to have noticed in one visit and it is, in fact I’ve now seen him on 3 different trips to that store. Each time I visit I promise myself that I’ll say hello to him and see how he is. Each time I chicken out.

I guess I’m worried that if I did approach him and say hello, I may just hear some things I dont really want to know. I suppose that I really ought to leave well alone forget about it. I mean, its not like I’m going to re-kindle a friendship we never really had in the first place. The most I’m looking for is a hello, how are you, nice to see you again and by implication an “its not your fault.”

Is it terribly egotistical to imagine that my actions may have had some effect on his later life? Did we destroy his self esteem or did his adoptive parents do that alone? (you should have heard the stories he told us!)

Perhaps, despite outward appearances and my interpretation of these, he is very happy, enjoys his job, has a loving partner and maybe a kiddie or 2. Maybe.

I think I’ll think about it some more………


That’s Crackers.

December 20, 2007

These are Christmas Crackers.

Not just any Crackers, these are hand finished, hand decorated, up-market Crackers.

These are British Home Stores Crackers.

Up-market Crackers have posh gifts in them, not plasic tat, actual metal gifts.

Lets go around the table and see the gifts that popped out of these crackers….. Sharon gets a nice ballpoint pen, Paul finds a metal get-the-ring-apart-from-the-jointed-magic-trick thing, Jane discovers a set of nail clippers* and Denise a pack of mini playing cards.

All very nice I’m sure you’ll agree.

So can you imagine my surprise at the gift I found inside mine?

That's Crackers.

Thats right. A condom.** Can you see the bewilderment plastered across my face?

Hrrrmmmmph, so much for posh Cracker’s.

*beware, I got these last year and look what happened.

**Looking back I’m now wondering how long the Crackers were unattended at Sharons house? This would have been a perfect prank for a Husband/Son to play on the Wife/Mother 😉