Monday, January 30, 2012

Computer fun - post script

Oh yeah... forgot to add one little factoid that only came out a couple of days later.  One of the secretaries mentioned that when the PC wouldn't start, she "gave it a really good clean", said cleaning including pulling the side off the case and vacuuming the dust bunnies out of it.

I did wonder why that HDD failed, too.

Mrs Van De Graaff has been politely requested to restrain herself from interacting with the IT equipment other than from the outside of the appliances.

Computer fun

Got called in to triage the club's PC the other day, as apparently it had failed altogether.  Unsurprising, it's a POS old S478 Northwood that's got to be 8 years old and aging disgracefully.  It also sits on the floor inhaling every piece of crap that floats past.

When I got there it was unplugged, and the side was off.  Not good.  Complaint was "won't go", very typical.  Opened it up and found this (note HDD removed and ATX plug undone at this stage, but otherwise representative of as-found):

Those blotches on the bottom are not good.  Smells like mouse piss to me.

Hotwired the PSU and I can't get more than a faction of a volt on any rail, so that's a goner.  The rest is not worth salvaging, especially when there's a reasonable Core laptop sitting there I donated months ago that nobody could be bothered migrating to, especially when they had a working solution already - even if said "working solution" was taking 10 minutes from power on to a usable desktop.  This is the moment - HDD to be shifted to the other box and this is being junked.  If I can get the other HDD to boot I'll run up Outlook for a full export, if not I'll just have to grab the .PST file and other bits I can find and that's as good as it gets.

The only flaw with this plan is that the HDD blue-screens the other box no matter what I do with it - regardless of booting from it or the regular HDD, by itself or together, master or CS, different channels and cables etc.  BIOS IDs it and then it's a fatal crash.  Bugger.  Inform the club owner that it's not coming back, and the secretaries will be typing a lot of addresses back in again.  You have a backup?  Excellent, when from?  June 2010.  Excellence fading to mediocrity.  Still, not my problem.

Flung Office and AV on the laptop and set up mail, which I long ago converted to IMAP for exactly this reason - at least part of the data is on the cloud.  Club owner says can I move the contacts across from his personal PC to give the secretaries a head start - no problems, done.  Emphasise total data loss, nothing salvaged, he's got what is on the other PC and the >18 month old data disc, and off I go.

Secretary rings me the next day, where are all the files?  Did the owner not tell you?  Gone.

Can't be, she says - I found some of them, where are the rest?  No way, I say - I recovered nothing.  Unless the owner moved them back himself off the backup disc.  No, can't be that - not smart enough, frankly.  Agreed, but I didn't do it - the only other possbility is that Vista is finding and indexing network shares on the other box and you are seeing those.  If so then fine, but listen carefully - total data loss off that computer.  Nothing survived.  Are we clear?

Hmm, so why are most of the contacts there?  [muffled scream in the background]  Because I copied what was there to be copied across from the owner's personal PC.  And where are all the custom fields we spent hours typing in for things like membership anniversaries, birthdays, event achievements etc?  Hmm, the ones I specifically told you NOT to do because it's a bad way of doing it?  All gone, lost.  Remember that bit about 100% data loss?  This means you.  Had you done it the way I told you to -use a spreadsheet, and back that up to a USB drive - or mail it to yourself occasionally - you wouldn't be here now.  Start typing, and while you're doing that, repeat to yourself occasionally - Outlook is a really, really crappy database.

Honestly, people make me want to scream.  If the club had a broadband connection worth anything (ie not a Swiftel 1.5Mbps link that runs at about a third of that on a good day) then I'd just get him to buy a Dropbox account and auto back the whole thing up to the cloud once a week.  Bring on the NBN.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

OK, that's enough.

Right, I’ve had it.

Cretins sending their e-mail to my address will henceforth have it published here as a monument to stupidity.  Starting now.


Dear Oliver,

Thank you for your kind message, but I should upfront note that yet again some cretin has failed to make the determination that there is only one person in the world with their particular surname – and it’s not them.  Their mistake is perhaps notable in that in this case they have only missed by 2,000km (as opposed to the messages I regularly receive from South Africa and England) however I still can’t help but feel that it’s a sad indictment on the state of society when someone can afford to send their troubled little crotchfruit to an institution that costs well over $15,000 a year and yet can’t spell their own freaking e-mail address.  I am far from holding a socialist point of polticial view, but I find something about that quite repugnant and morally repulsive.

If I may offer an opinion, Cameron should perhaps grow a set of balls now, or accept the fact that he’s going to be a geek for the next 6 years and join the robotics club.  The latter is perhaps more remunerative in later life, but Cameron should bear in mind that he’s unlikely to get laid much in the interim until he buys his first Ferrari following that path.  Should he feel he’s able to hold on though, I am sure he will find no end of scatterbrained little gold diggers who spent their formative years worrying about how many friends they had on Facebook willing to put out for their new meal ticket once he proves his financial worth.

Either way, I suggest you seek an alternative method of contacting Cameron’s parents for future discussions of his educational future.


Mr Pankhurst (not the one associated with Cameron).

From: Oliver Cozens []
Sent: Saturday, 28 January 2012 10:51 PM
To: Pankhurst (Cameron); Pankhurst (Cameron) (
Subject: Cameron settling in

Dear Mr and Mrs Pankhurst,

Sorry it has taken me until the end of the week to respond regarding Cameron. Gary Musson spoke to me about Cameron feeling a little lost. Some boys take a little longer to make new friends, and at a new school, Cameron is sensibly testing the water before he jumps in. Detecting he was a little quiet Monday and Tuesday, I took the liberty of asking a very caring boy from the class to keep an eye on him. I have also been observing him during my duties at lunchtime. I am happy to report that on Wednesday he was starting to turn the corner, getting involved in handball with a group of Year 5 boys. Generally there were noticeably more smiles as the week progressed.

I would encourage Cameron to get involved in extra-curricular activities, which are a great way to break the ice. We have CIC Cricket starting next week (training Tuesday and Thursday mornings 7am, with games on Saturday mornings) and we welcome all levels – lots of boys last year had never played cricket before. It’s not super competitive and the games are a lot of fun. I am taking one of the teams and can probably get Cameron on my team if that makes him feel any easier. We also have Robotics starting very soon on a Tuesday afternoon (I also take one of these groups).

From my point of view, Cameron seems like a great lad and I suspect that it won’t be long before he makes a firm connection.

I hope this allays some of your concerns. Please feel free to call or come in if you would like to discuss this further.


Oliver Cozens

Oliver Cozens | Year 5 Teacher | MIC CIC Cricket

Brisbane Boys' College | Kensington Terrace | Toowong | Queensland 4066 | Australia

T +61 7 3309 3595 | E | W

BBC cares for our children's future. Please consider the environment before printing this email.

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…and here I am at work.  J


Whoops, time to go to work…

Mmm, coffee.

Lovely cup of Jamaica Blue Mountain for breakfast.  Calley loves me.  J

Friday, January 27, 2012

Joys of car ownership

Fark, don’t I just love cars.


Split radiator top tank, whole thing needs to come out and go to a radiator place.  Bugger, I was hoping it was a hose or pipe flange.

Alternator is stuffed and needs a rebuild, which would explain the occasional alternator light and why it keeps eating head light bulbs.  And a battery last year.

Front brake pads need replacing and rotors are below minimum thickness >_<  New rotors please.

Belts need replacing, can deal with that.


That’s all on top of the normal service cost.


I gently fended the mechanic off the leaking clutch cylinder, apparently the alloy walls are pitted so the replacement seals a few years ago were a waste of time.  Complete replacement of the body is the only thing that will fix it.  For 10c worth of brake fluid every couple of months, it can stay as is.  The front shocks are also apparently weeping but they can stay as is for a bit too until my wallet recovers.


To add to the general merriment, this all means the car won’t be ready until Monday.  I have to work tomorrow.  Calley is off to the Mornington Peninsula tomorrow so it’s a train to work… oh yeah, Metro are doing trackwork tomorrow so it’s bus replacements that adds an hour to the journey.


The high point in an otherwise shitty day is that I’m now working from home tomorrow, so at least I am spared the PITA of the train.


Oh yeah, and our eldest cat hasn’t shown up for 2 days, I hope she has not gotten skittled by a snake/car/dog.


Not the best day.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nice try, guys

This is a nice try, but the last time I looked, observance of a religious belief did not absolve you from the law.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Things your children will never learn in school, but should.

Rule No. 1:  Life is not fair. Get used to it. The average teenager uses the phrase "It's not fair" 8.6 times a day. You got it from your parents, who said it so often you decided they must be the most idealistic generation ever.   When they started hearing it from their own kids, they realised Rule No. 1.

Rule No. 2:  The real world won't care anywhere near as much about your self-esteem as much as your school does. It'll expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. This may come as a rather rude shock. Usually, when inflated self-esteem meets the cold, harsh light of reality, kids complain that it's not fair. (See Rule No. 1.)

Rule No. 3:  Sorry, you won't make $60,000 a year right out of high school. And you won't be a vice president or have a company iPhone either.  BMW?  Forget it. You may even have to wear a uniform that doesn't have a Mossimo label, like those trendy McDonalds ones. (See Rule No. 5.)

Rule No. 4:  If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He either owns the company or is employed to make sure it runs correctly, so he tends to be a bit touchier to get on with. When you screw up, he's not going to ask you how you feel about it, or if you found it a valuable life experience.  Don’t even think of asking for stress leave.

Rule No. 5:  Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping. They called it opportunity. They weren't embarrassed being paid the minimum wage either. They would have been embarrassed to sit around talking about some talentless rap singer or how “bored” they are on facebook all weekend.  Try getting off your arse and doing something.

Rule No. 6:  If you screw up, you are responsible. This is the flip side of "It's my life," and "You're not the boss of me," and other eloquent proclamations of your generation. When you turn 18, it's on your dime. Don't whine about it, you just come off sound like a pitiful, puling infant.  Remember all that really boring advice your parents tried to give you that you ignored?  Hope you learn faster than your mediocre grades indicate.

Rule No. 7:  Before you were born your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning up your room and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are. And by the way, before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the cupboard in your bedroom. You can feel free to go and recycle your sandals all you like after you move out and start paying your own bills.  (See Rule No. 2, Rule No. 3 and Rule No. 5.)

Rule No. 8:  I realise your school has done away with winners and losers. Life has not. In some schools, they'll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. Failing grades have been abolished and class valedictorians scrapped, lest anyone's feelings be hurt. Effort is as important as results. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4.)

Rule No. 9:  Life is not divided into semesters, and you don't get summers off. Not even Easter break. They expect you to show up every day. For eight hours, whether you stayed up last night playing computer games or not. And you don't get a new life every 10 weeks, it just goes on and on and on, for the next 50 years. While we're at it, very few jobs are interested in fostering your self-expression or helping you find yourself. Fewer still lead to self-realisation. (See Rule No. 1, Rule No. 2 and Rule No. 4.)

Rule No. 10:  Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.  Their boobs will not be as perky, either.

Rule No. 11:  Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them. We all could.

Rule No. 12:  Facebook is not the centre of the universe, and nor does anyone care how many “friends” you have other than the other self-absorbed adolescents of all ages who use this self-demonstration of lack of independent thought.

Rule No. 13:  Regardless of your own passionate convictions or those of your Facebook “friends”, the real world actually cares about your ability to communicate in proper English.  This includes subjects such as punctuation, sentence construction, and spelling.  Your boss will expect this, because like his clientele he comes from a time where shallow self infatuation was something to be despised, and a basic education expected.

Rule No. 14:  I realise that the concept of getting up in the morning, every morning, is strange and alien to you.  It might come as a surprise, but if you actually went to bed at a reasonable time at night the getting up would be less of a strain.  This behaviour will be of significant value to you should you ever be lucky enough to obtain full time employment (see Rule No. 9), but I don’t expect you to understand this until you have pissed away several opportunities telling the world how you think it should be run.  (See Rule No. 1 and Rule No. 9.)