PC Crisis

Crisis, What Crisis ?
(or “Why staying cool is important”)

Saturday 14 Jan 2006
While playing a demo of Warcraft 3 the monitor went blank.
Then it came on again, went off, flickered and looked like
an electronic device near its deathbed. I turned everything
off, went and did other things for a while then came back.
Now it worked, but not for long. Five minutes later it went
blank. By pushing the contrast and brightnesss to max I could
just see the image, enough to do a proper shutdown.

It seemed obvious, the monitor was kaput, deceased and gone to
silicon hell. So I got in the car and went to Dragon PCs in Archon
Drive. They had a Viewsonic VA702S, a LCD 17 inch monitor for
$427. I was tempted to get the 19 inch for an extra $100, but
knowing the image would be a bit larger than existing monitor, went
for the 17 inch.

I put the old, damaged monitor in the corner (next to the trash)
and installed the new monitor. It went perfectly – for about 10
minutes. Then the same problem occurred. Bugger, the only explanation could be that the PC was faulty, probably the video card.
Could it be a loose connection ?
I removed the cover and blew the dust from 17 months of use
away. Gently pressing on the cards, there didn’t appear to
be any obvious problems.

Sunday 15 January
With my digital buddy resting there wasn’t much to do.
I watched Red Dwarf series 7 then looked at the old PC in the
corner. I had been intending to reformat the disks and get
red of it. An old version of Partition Magic came out and I managed
to stuff up the partitions on both disks and get DOS installed
on the C: drive (that was the idea).

Monday 16 January
At 8:30 the PC arrived at Vintron with a worried owner.
The cover was opened and the innards examined. Graham found the
problem immediately. The videocard fan was so stuffed with dust
it had stopped operating. It was left to be fixed.
Later that day he phoned to say it was fixed and I could pick it up.

Tuesday 17 January
After work the PC came home to a desk with two monitors ready.
I would get an adapter cable and run two 17 inch monitors side
by side. Everything worked OK, I could get me email and stay
up to date with Trademe (current addiction). Then I noticed
strange red patterns on web pages. I was wrong, it wasn’t just
the web pages, it was everywhere. Next, windows failed to close,
icons went blank and everything overlapped everything else, bugger.
I unhooked the old monitor and tried the new LCD monitor. At first
it was OK, then the same thing happened again. I checked the video
settings, everything appeared to be installed correctly. I turned
everything off and tried again. After 5-10 minutes the same thing
happened. It took about the same time for everything to go wrong
as before, on saturday. Conclusion: maybe the fan isn’t working
on this videocard either. This PC is going back.
The keyboard went on the old PC and I got to know DOS EDIT.COM
again. I amused myself by getting old DOS games working, including
Discworld 2, a game that wouldn’t work on anything but DOS.

Wednesday 18 January
Phoned Vintron and arranged to bring the PC to their workshop.
At Vintron, Graham didn’t bother to verify my problem, he just took
the old Videocard out and put another one in. We hooked the PC up
to his monitor and waited for something to go wrong. After 10 minutes nothing did, so we concluded the problem was fixed. In total it cost $3, and that was for the cheap speakers I got to put on my old PC. It was still working after about five hours of operation at home, so it looks like that problem has been fixed.

Friday 20 January
Finally got the adapter for the second monitor and had both running.
With a bit of fiddling, changed resolutions and settings so they
worked together. New problem, the new LCD is brighter and better than the old CRT monitor. Maybe I should get a new LCD monitor so they match. Anyone want to buy an old 17 inch monitor ?

2016 Update
I an still using the same set of monitors.

 

100 Top Female Books

From Book Riot – 100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels by Female Authors

(with comments from me)

1. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

2. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

Have read a few of her short stories

3. Among Others by Jo Walton

Tried it, gave up half-way through

4. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Couldn’t get into it.

5. Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam

6. The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich

7. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Tried to read two of her books, gave up early.

8. Ash by Malinda Lo

9. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

One of my top-rated books

10. The Pyramid Waltz by Barbara Wright

11. Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee

12. The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish

13. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

14. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Another good read

15. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

16. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

17. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

18. Chorus of Mushrooms by Hiromi Goto

19. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

First in a series. Recommended.

20. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

21. The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce

22. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

23. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

24. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

25. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

26. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

27. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

28. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

29. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

30. Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara

31. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

Tried reading it – not very interesting

32. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

33. The Etched City by K.J. Bishop

34. The Female Man by Joanna Russ

35. Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

36. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

37. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

38. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

39. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

40. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

41. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

42. The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

43. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.

44. Hild by Nicola Griffith

45. His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

First of another good series.

46. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

47. The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferré

48. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

49. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

50. Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias

51. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

52. The Island of Eternal Love by Daína Chaviano

53. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Now a TV series

54. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

55. The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

56. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Started, gave up due to boredom.

57. Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

58. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

59. The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

60. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

61. Moving the Mountain by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

62. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

63. My Christina & Other Stories by Mercè Rodoreda

64. My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

65. Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin

66. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

67. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

68. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

69. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

70. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

71. The Red by Linda Nagata

Just Read – see review

72. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

73. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

74. Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai

75. The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

76. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Read it – very average

77. Shikasta by Doris Lessing

78. The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Read this in 1990 – recommended

79. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

80. So Far from God by Ana Castillo

81. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

82. Soulless by Gail Carriger

83. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

84. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

85. Spirits of the Ordinary by Kathleen Alcala

86. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

87. A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

88. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

89. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

90. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

91. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

92. Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff

93. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

94. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

95. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

96. Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

97. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

98. The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh

99. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

100. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

After the Election

Sometime after the 12 October 1996 NZ Election
(c) Nigel Baker  11/10/1996

Cabinet meeting room, parliament buildings.

In walks Jim Bolger, grinning like a Cheshire cat. He’s still the prime
minister. He takes a seat at the head of the table. Next comes Helen Clark. She is also smiling, after some quick negotiating with Jim she is now deputy PM. Ready and able to take shuffling steps forward in to the past.

Bolger waves his pudgy hands around, indicating the ten cabinet seats and who should fill them. There is some fighting over the finance seat between Birch and Cullen. Bolger wasn’t all that specific when he allocated the portfolios.

The remainder of the cabinet shuffle in like a flock of sheep.

Some appear to be missing.

Jim Anderson is absent. Despite gaining 18 seats in parliament, the
coalition between national & labour has relegated him permanently to the opposition.

Winstone Peters is the same way. He has disbanded his party. His retired helpers have gone back to their potting sheds.

You won’t find Alliance, christian or even McGillicudy Serious MPs.
All have been rendered useless by the solid block of MPs that were in the correct position to kiss leader butt.

10 minutes later :

Some MPs are beginning to pass out on the floor. Not from the heat, or lack of ventilation but from the affects of alcohol.

Doug Meyers has been helping the celebrations with some of his product. There was still some left over from last Saturday night.

“Come on Jenny, pass some of those drugs around” bellows Bolger from one end of the table to the other. A medicine bottle slides along the table. Jim stretches to catch the bottle. He has been eating a bit too much. His suit is tighter than usual. He misses the bottle, and it
breaks on the floor.

“AWW SHIT”, exclaims Birch. He is still teetering on his chair, pressing his big red nose to the polished oak table.

Doug Graham is growing impatient. “Shouldn’t we be DOING SOMETHING” he ponders aloud. “Like what ?” asks Bolger, even merrier than before. “Well, were the government now, we should be governing”.

“Don’t worry”. Bill Birch rising from table level. “It’s all been taken
care of”.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN ?” cries Doug.

“Well”, starts Birch, “Remember all those state assets we sold during the eighties and nineties. We told you that it was to get money to balance the budget. It’s all bullshit. We were doing it so we could let others run the country and we could enjoy ourselves. We sold them to some fine fellows – Gibbs, Fay, Richwhite, Fernyhough, Kerr, Deane, Jones”

“Great school mates” Mike Moore adds.

“Great mates” Birch continues. “Although some of them were tightwad sadistic bastards, but great school mates all the same. A toast to them”.

Those MPs still conscious raise their glasses.
“TO GREAT SCHOOL MATES” they boom throughout the beehive.

1941 Hugo Awards

The 1941 Retro-Hugo Awards will be presented at a ceremony on Thursday, August 18, 2016 at MidAmeriCon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention.

The finalists for the 1941 Hugo Awards are:

Best Novel

  • Gray Lensman by E.E. “Doc” Smith (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Jan 1940)
  • The Ill‐Made Knight by T.H. White (Collins)
  • Kallocain by Karin Boye (Bonnier)
  • The Reign of Wizardry by Jack Williamson (Unknown, Mar 1940)
  • Slan by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Dec 1940)

Best Novella

  • “Coventry” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, July 1940)
  • “If This Goes On…” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Feb 1940)
  • “Magic, Inc.” by Robert A. Heinlein (Unknown, Sept 1940)
  • “The Mathematics of Magic” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (Unknown, Aug 1940)
  • “The Roaring Trumpet” by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt (Unknown, May 1940)

Best Novelette (310 nominating ballots)

  • “Blowups Happen” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Sept 1940)
  • “Darker Than You Think” by Jack Williamson (Unknown, Dec 1940)
  • “Farewell to the Master” by Harry Bates (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Oct 1940)
  • “It!” by Theodore Sturgeon (Unknown, Aug 1940)
  • “The Roads Must Roll” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, June 1940)

Best Short Story (324 nominating ballots)

  • “Martian Quest” by Leigh Brackett (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Feb 1940)
  • “Requiem” by Robert A. Heinlein (Astounding Science‐Fiction, Jan 1940)
  • “Robbie” by Isaac Asimov (Super Science Stories, Sept 1940)
  • “The Stellar Legion” by Leigh Brackett (Planet Stories, Winter 1940)
  • “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius” by Jorge Luis Borges (Sur, 1940)

 

24(1) 2:00PM – 12:00AM

24Season1-CastPic

Yet more absurd twists and turns. Agents do stupid things, leaving doors open, not looking behind them. But most annoying being a sniper played by an actor who had obviously never held a rifle before. It ends, then end and ends. The plot has more endings that ‘Return of the King’.

Palmer looks more like a goody two-shoes one dimensional character that just becomes more annoying. His wife is the better character, actress Penny Johnson Jerald played Kasidy Yates in Star Trek DS9.
She is great as the Machiavellian wife that pushes her husband. The Palmer couple could have been based on the Bill & Hillary Clinton, but even more accurately Frank and Claire Underwood from ‘House of Cards’.

Despite the plot holes and absurdities of the plot, it’s still a good and tense ride for the 24 hours.

 

24(1): 3:00AM – 2:00PM

24Season1-CastPic

 

Jack follows a lead from Walsh’s card. At CTU, Nina Myers and Jamey Farrell (Karina Arroyave) decide to go against George Mason’s (Xander Berkeley) orders and help Jack. Kim is handed off to Gaines’ men while Janet is taken to the hospital.

Palmer meets with reporter Maureen Kingsley (Devika Parikh), who explains that she has two separate sources accusing his son Keith Palmer (Vicellous Reon Shannon) of murdering his sister Nicole’s (Megalyn Echikunwoke) rapist. Kim and Rick (Daniel Bess) are taken to Ira Gaines’ compound on the outskirts of the city. Jack finds an unidentified body connected to Gaines in the trunk of a car. Alan and Teri wait in the hospital as Janet undergoes surgery.

Jack and Teri are briefly reunited at the hospital, where Jack warns the doctors not to let anyone near Janet. Gaines contacts Jack and tells him that he has kidnapped Kim. Jack must follow Gaines’ orders if he wants to ever see his daughter again. Teri leaves the hospital with Alan to continue searching for Kim. Palmer discovers that his entire family has been keeping secrets from him, but he needs them if he is to come clean before Kingsley breaks the story herself. After Jamey helps identify the body from the car, Nina calls Teri to tell her that the cadaver is the real Alan York.

Acting on Gaines’ orders, Jack returns to CTU to interfere with the decryption of the key card. He is then ordered to shoot Nina, but manages to do so without actually harming her. Teri escapes from Alan’s impostor, but is captured by more of Gaines’ men.

Nina Myers and Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) realize that Jamey is the mole inside CTU and is communicating with Gaines. Using instructions and equipment from Gaines, Jack gets in to see Palmer’s appearance at the San Clarita power plant. Jack soon realizes that the terrorists plan to frame him for the assassination.

Sherry Palmer (Penny Johnson Jerald) tries to convince Maureen Kingsley not to run her story. Jack is taken into custody while Kim and Teri encounter more problems at Gaines’ compound. Nina and Tony pressure Jamey for information about the assassination plot. After leaving and returning to the room where Jamey is held they find Jamey with her wrist slashed in an apparent suicide attempt.

Teri acquires a cell phone and calls Jack, giving him clues to her whereabouts. An Acting Director, Alberta Green (Tamara Tunie), arrives at CTU and declares Jack a fugitive. Jack follows a lead from Jamey’s computer to a Los Angeles businessman named Ted Cofell (Currie Graham).

Jack poses as the driver of Cofell’s limo and soon interrogates the businessman on his family’s whereabouts. Initially Jack has no success but after Jack breaks Cofell’s wrist, Cofell curses him in Serbian, which Jack recognizes as a link to the day’s events. Cofell suffers a heart attack and dies. Jack then runs into Cofell’s contact, Kevin Carroll – the man he knew at the hospital as Alan York – and interrogates him. Carroll agrees to take Jack to where Teri and Kim are held in exchange for his life. Nina and Tony grow more concerned about the possibility of another mole inside CTU. Andre Drazen (Zeljko Ivanek), Gaines’ superior, orders the deaths of Kim and Teri.

Jack makes it into Gaines’ camp and enlists Rick’s help to secure for a vehicle in which to escape. Gaines quickly finds out when Carroll is found unconscious and chaos ensues. Jack manages to escape the compound with his family and Rick until the tire of their van is shot out. Continuing their escape on foot, Teri and Kim make their way to the rendezvous point while Jack and Rick hold off Gaines and his men. Rick is wounded but manages to escape with Jack. When Palmer tries to talk to Dr. George Ferragamo, his son’s therapist, he soon discovers that there are men inside his own campaign that are willing to commit murder in order to protect him.

Jack has a final confrontation with Gaines who, fearing retribution from the Drazens, chooses death over helping Jack. Jack, Teri and Kim are airlifted back to CTU. Rick manages to escape from the compound, fearing that he would be jailed for his involvement with Gaines if he turned himself in. Palmer plans to talk to the DA about Dr. Ferragamo’s murder, but Carl Webb (Zach Grenier) tries to stop him. At CTU, Nina discovers that a second assassin has arrived in Los Angeles, which means that Palmer’s life is still in danger.

Kevin Carroll, having escaped the compound with a small group is killed by Alexis Drazen (Misha Collins), who is mopping up the remnants of the first team of mercenaries. Jack returns to CTU, but is not authorized to see his family. Tony refuses to tell Alberta Green and Ryan Chappelle (Paul Schulze) what he knows about Jack’s activities. Nina escorts Kim and Teri to a hospital, but comes across evidence that they may still be targets. Palmer discovers a link between himself and Bauer, and decides to take matters into his own hands — demanding to see Jack personally to confront him about the day’s events.

Bauer is great is these episodes, combining the skills of a super-spy and showing some vulnerability when holed up in the construction office. The problem is Palmer, he is becoming less realistic as an ambitious  politician. Now willing to make tough decisions he is overshadowed by his wife ans aides. And finally when the assassin’s boss meets his end… we get a re-start and another threat.

Phantasmagoria

Phantasmagoria
Big Finish Doctor Who Audio Drama (1999)

The TARDIS takes the Doctor and Turlough to the London of 1702 where a mysterious highwayman roams the streets, a local occultist has made contact with the dead and gentlemen of fashion are disappearing, only to find themselves in a chamber whose walls weep blood…

The time travelers become enmeshed in the hideous plans of Sir Nikolas Valentine, a gambler at the mysterious Diabola Club who always seems to have a winning hand.

It’s a Stuart era monster/detective story. And rather pedestrian one at that.  Of course the ‘monster’ turns out to be an alien.

 

 

Cast
The Doctor — Peter Davison
Turlough — Mark Strickson
Henry Gaunt — Nicholas Briggs
Quincy Flowers — David Walliams
Edmund Carteret — Jonathan Rigby
Jasper Jeake — Mark Gatiss
Poltrot/Librarian/Major Billy Lovemore — Jez Fielder
Sir Nicholas Valentine — David Ryall
Dr Samuel Holywell — Steven Wickham
Hannah Fry — Julia Dalkin

24(1): 12:00AM – 3:00AM

 

The first season of the American drama television series 24, also known as Day 1, was first broadcast from November 6, 2001, to May 21, 2002 on Fox. The season’s storyline starts and ends at 12:00 a.m. on the day of the California presidential primary.

It’s the eve of the California Presidential Primary. Jack Bauer’s (Kiefer Sutherland) daughter, Kim (Elisha Cuthbert), sneaks out of the house to go out with friends. As Bauer’s wife, Teri (Leslie Hope), searches for Kim, Jack is called in for a meeting at CTU Los Angeles in response to a threat on Senator David Palmer’s (Dennis Haysbert) life that is believed to take place within the next 24 hours. Bauer discovers that there may be a mole inside CTU. Senator Palmer gets a disturbing phone call at his downtown Los Angeles hotel.

Jack’s plans to find his daughter are sidetracked when he gets a call from CTU agent Richard Walsh (Michael O’Neill), who is being stalked by assassins connected with the David Palmer hit. Walsh meets another CTU agent, Scott Baylor, who is subsequently killed. Mandy (Mia Kirshner) passes the ID card of a dead (presidential) photographer to Ira Gaines (Michael Massee), the man leading the assassination plot. Kim realizes that she and Janet York (Jacqui Maxwell) may be in danger, while Teri and Alan York (Richard Burgi) search for them. As Jack and Walsh escape from the assassins, Walsh is gunned down, but manages to throw a keycard to Jack, which contains information about a mole within CTU.

The files on Walsh’s key card finger Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) as a dirty agent. Kim and Janet try to escape from their captors while Teri and Alan continue their search.

Wow ! It’s been 15 years since the series was aired. The obvious precognition is the black senator looking to be President. It was in 2008 that this actually happened. The first plot problem I had was that Bauer cut off the finger of a dead assassin so he could get a fingerprint match. This was done to establish his character, despite being a family man, he was tough and brutal when necessary. The problem was that the way to scan the fingerprint was to use a portable scanner. Something he could have done without removing the finger. Next is the obvious ‘damsel in distress’ story-line of his daughter. It may be the 21st century, but this trope just won’t die.

It’s apparent that the use of constant background music is setting the tense tone of the series. It’s unrelenting and sometimes could do with some toning down. Still, a good start to an iconic thriller.

 

 

Bloodline

Bloodline (Star Wars)
by Claudia Gray (2016)

A prequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, set roughly six years before the events of the film.

Despite the positive reviews, this just isn’t as good as her previous book ‘The Lost Stars’ The main problem is the pacing and plot. The first two-thirds feel too slow. Not much happens and around the half-way mark I was not sure if I could continue. Then the action and pacing occurs in the last third of the book. Where ‘The Lost Stars’ had the grand sweep of the original trilogy as background, this feels very restricted to a few planets. And despite mostly taking place at the administrative centre of the galaxy, it lacks an epic space-opera feel expected of a Star Wars novel. I kept going to the end and a new beginning for Leia.