Friday, 30th April, 2021

[Day 410]

We were somewhat delayed this morning as Meg nd I had some domestic jobs to get done before we went on our walk. We did not want to rush in any case as it had started raining at about 5-6 in the morning (and perhaps even earlier) and was spluttering on even in the mid morning. As the morning wore on, though, the sun eventually broke through and we finished with quite a sunny morning Again, we had a slightly different routine this morning because having picked up our newspapers, we knew that we had better make a trip to W H Smiths (which also incorporates the Post Office these days) in order to buy some birthday cards and one, in particular, which needed to arrive by tomorrow in time for the birthday on Sunday. There was a group of colleagues at the University of Winchester who all had their birthdays strung out through various dates in May. We decided about twenty years ago now that we would have a large celebratory birthday meal to accommodate all of us, and this has carried on even after the year that many of us retired in 2007 or shortly thereafter. In fact, we call ourselves ‘The Old Fogies‘ and when we meet we exchange news of families,current politics an so on, I would like to think that we remind ourselves how excellent things were when we in charge and how things have gone to the dogs ever since then. We don’t actually say any of this but we might secretly think it, all the same. This year, one of our number has busily organised a large Zoom session for us on the night of 11th May (which happens to be my birthday) so that we can raise a virtual glass to each other (although, come to think of it, they could be real). Another of our number is 60 this year and would have dearly loved to have a party at home but that pleasure may have to wait for another year (and perhaps even longer than that if a third wave strikes us).

I had another little ‘play’ on my IBM ThinkPad this afternoon. From somewhere, I have found about a free utility suite named ‘Glary Utilities’ which does all kind of housekeeping things on your computer. These include examining the Registry for any error or inconsistencies, getting rid of any tracks you may have left around whilst browsing, using a Disk Cleanup utility, examining the processes and start-up items on your computer and so on. Most of these things are forgotten about by the average user but a set of utilities like these helps get rid of the clutter which eventually slows all computers down. As I only have a small amount of installed memory by today’s standards (1.25 Gb rather than the more common 4Gb) I am trying to run a ‘clean and mean machine’ whilst I can. I also have given the sound system a good workover by installing and then playing from my Music Library a whole series of Mozart tracks. Just out of interest, I wondered how easy it would be to get my favourite Paint Concerto (Mozart’s No. 23) onto my system and found it ridiculously easy. I located and downloaded the relevant mp3 files I needed onto a pen drive on my main computer (I intend to use the Thinkpad to go on the web only when absolutely necessary) and then transferred them into the ThinkPad – the whole process must have taken about 2 minutes. I was then giving my little external speaker system a good workout – it looks a little like a golfball but the top twists to add some miniature bellows to give a bit of extra volume. The whole caboodle has to be charged up beforehand and lasts, I think, for about 5 hours but has the advantage that it doesn’t occupy a precious USB port but all you have to do is to plug in the audio lead. I am quite astonished by how good the quality is for such a tiny (and cheap!) device so this helps to extend the functionality of the sound system as a whole. I discovered that the sound card is by Realtek (very good reputation for quality) and is part of the motherboard whilst the video controller is built into the chip itself. Incidentally, one of my acquaintances in the park today handed me a leaflet for a little firm housed in the upstairs of a store whose function is to recycle unwanted furniture into the hands of ‘needy’ people. The little firm advertises some incredibly cheap laptop deals with laptops with a 2.5Ghz CPU, 4 GB of Ram and a 250GB hard disk at prices ranging from £60 for a Lenovo to £90 for a Toshiba. If I need to install any new memory (quite a possibility) or have a need for a more specialised cable, then I know where I will be heading for in the future.