Ephemerides

A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Wednesday 26 June 2002

First day of my "new and improved" computer training business. Lots to write about the execrable Microsoft, Telstra, ISPs, so-called professionals and bastards who borrow things and don't return them. Probably tomorrow.

Thought for the day:

No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be true.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Current Listening

Mark Gillespie -- Only Human


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Thursday 27 June 2002

The topic of how rapidly and readily some of us find information came up in discussion this week. Are You a Good Googler? is a brief explanation about getting the most out of arguably the best search engine on the the Internet. Another useful tool is Kartoo's metasearch that places your query with the the appropriate search engine(s). Well worth a look.

-oOo-

Yesterday's Excel/Word training session went well. I'm hoping word of mouth enables me to obtain more business of the same kind. The client was very happy and is coming back with a friend for some PowerPoint training.

-oOo-

Late in the day, the computer I ordered from EYO for a neighbour arrived. It's a 1 GHz Celeron in an A-Open ATX case, A-Open AX3S-U integrated MoBo, 128 MB of KingMax PC150 RAM, 40 GB IBM 7200 RPM HDD, 17" Acer flat monitor, Acer CD rewriter, MS keyboard and mouse and an Epson Stylus Photo 810 printer. A bargain at a tad over $A2,100 including Windows XP Home Edition. To be honest, I have only looked at one new machine over the last eighteen months and that was a Dell P4. I specified the machine for my neighbour based partly on guesswork and partly on the pronouncements of Jerry Pournelle and Bob Thompson.

The H500A midi-tower case is quite impressive considering it's the same price as the one on the desk to my right, also an A-Open. The edges are all folded over so there's no risk of unexpected cuts. The power supply has its air inlet underneath, directly above the CPU. Below the power supply, there's provision for two extra fans, definitely not needed with the 1 GHz Celeron and 128 MB of RAM. The card side of the case is held in place by captive thumbscrews -- a nice touch.

Subjectively, it performs about as well as, or slightly faster than my 700 MHz AMD K6, but then it's lightly loaded compared to my main machine -- it uses a swap file despite having half a Gig of RAM. Initially, I was disappointed by the slightly fuzzy screen display and was preparing to check it out on one of my two machines with Matrox video adapters when I heard a slight crack and the image on the monitor snapped into focus. The image wobbled a little beforehand as it does with a degauss, so I suspect that's what happened. Whatever, for a mid-range monitor, it looks better than many a budget monitor I have seen and is likely to last longer, too.

The machine is unlikely to be used for playing 3D games, so the onboard video courtesy of the Intel 815E B-Step chipset is more than good enough. Onboard sound was also more than good enough with the mediocre speakers that my neighbour uses.

The only disappointments were that A-Open didn't supply a copy of the MoBo manual on paper. In the past, they have always had better than average manuals and it's possible that were I setting up the machine at the client's premises that I would not have access to a CD reader if problems arose. EYO installed the OS with US regional settings instead of Australia! The setup instructions for the Epson printer were incorrect at one point and it was only a bit of searching that found the button to activate the dialog box needed to set things straight. Not something a beginner was likely to find. Nevertheless, the installation procedure was far less fraught than a recent experience with a recent model HP inkjet!

Doubtless there are many obsessed with GHz that would sneer at this machine, but for a budget box, I think it's fan-bloody-tastic. And when the Tualatin PIIIs are just about to go off the market, a trivial amount of money should provide a decent and economical improvement.

-oOo-

Peter Smith writes:

Hi Jonathan,

I guess it takes a Tasmanian to work at a 7ft high desk. Even in Queensland we don't build them that high.

Peter

Well, the 7 ft high shelves do support one end of the bench -- with a support 28.5 inches from the floor. What is it with you Queenslanders? The sugar? Bananas? Whoopee weed?

Thought for the day:

I don't understand you. You don't understand me. What else do we have in common?

Ashleigh Brilliant

Current Listening

The Great British Dance Bands -- Roll Along Prairie Moon


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Friday 28 June 2002

The computer I set up for my neighbour on Wednesday is running Windows XP Home. From my experience so far, it appears to be impossible to obtain Product Activation via the Internet. Since I am loath to spend an indefinite amount of time on the telephone and I am sure my neighbour has no desire to pay me to do so, this leaves no other recourse than to use one of the illicit Key Generators. One questions the sanity of the fool that concocted this stupidity!

-oOo-

The Pompous Git is a sceptic and by and large, that leaves him among a very small group of people. A sceptic, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "holds that there are no adequate grounds for certainty as to the truth of any proposition whatever". This is often confused with cynicism. According to the same source, a cynic is "a person disposed to rail or find fault; now usually: One who shows a disposition to disbelieve in the sincerity or goodness of human motives and actions, and is wont to express this by sneers and sarcasms; a sneering fault-finder". Pompous and gittish I may be, but The Git adheres firmly to the belief that he is of the former rather than the latter camp.

Far more common than scepticism is being opinionated -- holding to particular beliefs, no matter the facts. Usually, this majority group establishes the primacy of its position by appeal to Authority. In these democratic times, Authority is often equated with the Majority. In other words, when the famous Relativity experiment demonstrating the bending of distant starlight by the gravitational field of the sun took place, the opinion of the Classical Physicists should have prevailed. Having noted that the rays of light ignored their opinions, the True Believers should have discovered scepticism. Instead they became True Believers in Relativity.

Bertrand Russell wrote: "people hate sceptics far more than they hate the passionate advocates of opinions hostile to their own. It is thought that the claims of practical life demand opinions on such questions, and that, if we became more rational, social existence would be impossible". Heh, heh...

From my Inbox:

ATTILA THE STOCKBROKER
email:

attila@solutionsinc.co.uk
               or
attila@attilathestockbroker.com


NEWS UPDATE SUMMER 2002


Hi everyone...Hope those of you who came to Glastonwick had a good time (we did!) and that those of you who are into football are enjoying the World Cup. As for England's exit - when your club has been 28 minutes away from being relegated to the Vauxhall Conference with no ground, you tend to get such things in perspective!  (Brighton's Michel Kuipers would have saved that free kick though....)

GIGS


Ranging far and wide this summer! Firstly, if you're going to
Glastonbury this weekend, the Attila/Otway show is in the Cabaret Marquee between 2-3 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and I'm playing with my  Renaissance punk band Barnstormer on the Dance, Fire and Variety Stage (somewhere in the Theatre and Circus Field!!) on Friday at 7.20 pm, and backstage with Barnstormer in the Theatre/Cabaret Green Room on Sunday evening (time TBA)

Then, next week, Robina and I head off across the Atlantic for my first ever
US tour as a double act with the brilliant TV Smith, doing eleven shows along the East Coast...

and two days after we get back Barnstormer are off for 3 shows in
Germany.  

I'm having August off - then Barnstormer are back in
Germany in September on our way to and from Poland (our first ever tour there too, thanks, Sawa) before we do some more Northern UK gigs with Blyth Power (as promised) at the end of the month.

And there will be lots more solo UK, German and Swiss gigs in October and November...some of which will coincide with away matches of course, and in some new cities now the mighty Brighton and Hove Albion FC are in the First Division.........

And remember that in the first week of October OTWAY is going to have
ANOTHER HIT!
If you want to help decide what
the Hit is going to be (the fans are selecting it!)  or find out how everyone buying it on October 1st will get Otway back in the charts (last time was 1977!) or simply discover what the hell I'm talking about.....taking the piss out of the corporate music industry, BIG STYLE!!!!!!!!
visit http://www.doremi.co.uk/otway

Really looking forward to playing in the US for the first time - thanks to all those who have emailed with offers of gigs and above all to Bryan Swirsky for setting it up.


We now have a  new
Barnstormer T-shirt, and - a first this, after 20 years - a very classy Attila the Stockbroker enamel badge! Pictures of both should be on the website very soon.....they are of course available from the PO Box, along with loads of other stuff...see below.
Have a great summer!!
Cheers
Attila

Thought for the day:

Laughing at someone else is an excellent way of learning how to laugh at oneself; and questioning what seem to be the absurd beliefs of another group is a good way of recognizing the potential absurdity of many of one's own cherished beliefs.

Gore Vidal

Current Listening

Chicken Shack -- OK Ken


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Saturday 29 June 2002

The Prime Minister of Australia has a new nickname: R. Slicker. Needless to say, this produced predictable howls of outrage when I mentioned it on a discussion list frequented by A******ns. On another list, I linked to this story. Oh my! Yet again I am Y**k-bashing! Tasmanians apparently are "Imperialists-manqué" (frustrated Imperialists). Did you ever see The Mouse that Roared?

Today's Y**k-bash revolves around one Sergeant Sleaze, a recently reinstated member of the Tasmanian constabulary. He lost his job for performing oral sex on his girlfriend while wearing her knickers on his head. The judge hearing his appeal decided that there was no apparent danger to the public he was sworn to protect, nor was he on duty at the time.

Thought for the day:

Egotism is the anaesthetic given by a kindly nature to relieve the pain of being a damned fool.

Bellamy Brooks

Current Listening

Randy Newman -- Good Old Boys


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Sunday 30 June 2002

I came across Viktor Frankl while reading Stephen Covey's 7 Habits. Viktor survived The Holocaust and wrote many books. Here are some quotes of his I found worthwhile thinking about. 

"Everything can be taken from a man but... the last of the human freedoms -- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

"There is also purpose in life which is almost barren of both creation and enjoyment and which admits of but one possibility of high moral behaviour: namely, in man's attitude to his existence, an existence restricted by external forces." 

"Logotherapy... considers man as a being whose main concern consists in fulfilling a meaning and in actualising values, rather than in the mere gratification and satisfaction of drives and instincts." 

"What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."

"The meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves, but rather detected."

"What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general, but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment."

"We can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by doing a deed; (2) by experiencing a value; and (3) by suffering."

"A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the "why" for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any "how."

"It did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us. We needed to stop asking about the meaning of life, and instead to think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life -- daily and hourly. Our answer must consist, not in talk and meditation, but in right action and in right conduct. Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual."

From: Frankl, Viktor E., Man's Search for Meaning, Washington Square Press, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1963.

This post was stimulated by reading Mark Zimmerman's post here.

Thought for the day:

To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must cultivate our personal life; and to cultivate our personal life, we must first set our hearts right.

Confucius

Current Listening

Jim Horn -- Jim's Horns


 

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© Jonathan Sturm 2002

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© Jonathan Sturm 2002