Monday, 29th March, 2021

[Day 378]

It was a little cloudy and overcast today but there is the promise of warmer weather to come. We had a slightly different routine today because we had decided to do some outline household jobs this morning and then take the car down to town to pick up the newspapers and also also to pop into Waitrose. There I had espied a basket full of spring bulbs and also a nice little container with a young rhubarb plants within it. The latter seems to be an odd present but I am sure that our friend in Oxfordshire can find a good use for it in a small corner of her vegetable garden (but rhubarb is best left for a year before pulling it in its second year) When we got the park, we bumped into several people who we had met in the past and who were vaguely looking out for us – being an hour later than normal might have helped us coincide with these folks in any case.The ‘upper’ seats were occupied so we had to contend with the lower seats that we used to occupy before we decided to migrate. And so, after several chats, we made for home and had a fairly light lunch as neither of us felt particularly hungry.

In the early afternoon, I had a ‘package’ delieverd two days earlier than I had been anticipating. Having dug around in my computer system, I had discovered some statistical software that I had written in my pre-Windows and pre-Mac days – evidently, I had no technology upon this would run but that had not troubled me over the years. However, the thought occurred to me that it might be possible to pick up a rather out-of-date laptop which would be sold ‘for a pittance’ on the grounds that nobody would want one in these internet days. Anyway, I trawled the web and thank that an IBM ThinkPad was on sale – the build quality of these was considered so good that it was rumoured that NASA had forbidden its employees to buy anything else but these. The keyboard alone is reckoned to be one of the finest ever made (by the cognoscenti) To cut a long story I put in a bid for this machine which was said to be in perfect working order save the battery needed replacing but the operating system was Windows XP which I always thought was particularly good and stable. My bid, which was less than 5% of its original selling price was, to my amazement, accepted and the machine loaded with Word and Excel and in in a brand new case arrived today.

Well, I have now had he chance for a little play and how pleased I am! To get me going I had indulged in a very good Windows XP book (subtitled ‘The Missing Manual – the book that should have been in the box‘) which I had possessed and disposed of before but at £3.48 for over 600 pages and incredibly well written, I was happy to replace this. Having had to update some details the BIOS (date and time settings), I fairly soon got going with the XP home page and of course all of the old memories come flooding back. I was delighted to navigate my way to the DOS prompt (which I need to recognise a pen drive and some USB-based flash memory) I had already ordered a 32GB little usb stubby flash memory unit which Amazon sold me for £6.18 which was not going to break the bank and almost acts as a small-scale external drive. Having got used to some basic navigation, I formatted my flash memory as FAT32 so it could be both read and written to in MAC and in IBM-PC machines. Then I located some of my statistical folders which were ridiculously small by modern standards as the two folders with two quite large statistical programs within them were only about 3.5 Mb. I got these copied over to me flash memory and saw the programs running for the first time in about 20 years which was quite a pleasant surprise. As the programs run within a sort of DOS-box within Windows XP there is no Windows clutter and overload to cope with and they were blindingly fast. So a very pleasant first day of playing in my sand-pit! Whilst I was rummaging in a storage cupboard thinking that I may have some old 3½ floppies, I did discover some more software that I had written as well as several copies of my PhD that I stored on several floppies.When I wrote it in 1996-1997, I must have taken the view that hard disks were relatively unstable and so had stored it on floppy after floppy – that does explain why it does not seem in any places that I might expect in the legacy folders of my hard disk. No doubt, I will bore you with more of this in later blogs…