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I have been trying to retrain myself to use WINDOWS+E to launch Windows Explorer, rather than Right Clicking on Start, partly because the latter means that Explorer is launched within your profile, rather than at the Computer level, which is usually fractionally closer to where I want to be.

Anyway, by pure accident, this morning I discovered that WINDOWS+R is a shortcut to the Run... dialogue, which is good news, because I use that a lot (it's faster to type 'excel' or 'iexplore' {for those rare occasions where I need IE} than it is to navigate Start/Programs/Microsoft Office/etc...).

Was offline over the weekend - doubly frustrating because I'd arranged to play Forza 3 online against my brother over XBox Live on the Sunday. Alack, alas, not to be. Some other time, then.

On Saturday evening, P and I teamed up with [personal profile] cynthia_black and her family to watch Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief; overall, I don't think it did justice to the books, and was mostly an underwhelming piece of cinema.

Work is busy, and not particularly good right now.
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Well, couldn't bring up the interwebs at Castle Fox this morning, again, after possibly a clear seven or eight days' run with consistent connections. Instead just the red glowing light on the router indicating that attempting to load up some new podcasts to the Shuffle was going to have to wait until later.

So I'm listening to Larry Niven's Ringworld instead; I remember reading this waaaaaaaaaaaay back in the 80s, but don't actually remember that much of the story, so it's nice to get the refresher.

Also, I forgot my wallet today; result is I feel kinda naked.
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Got in from walking Mali just after 8 last night, and was surprised to hear a knock at the door. Answering, I discovered that it was a meter guy for the electricity, so I let him in, and he walks past me into the hall of Castle Fox as I'm closing the door behind him.

"Hang on a sec," quoth I, "I've got a dog..."

Electricity meter guy ignores me (rather rudely, I thought) and opens the door to the Banquet Hall himself and walks straight in.

The. Dog. Goes. Mental...

Now, Mali is, um, kinda 'in your face' when he meets new people. Actually, he's a bit over-boisterous when he meets people he's familiar with. But I have never before let anyone walk into his domain without me leading first, so that I can keep a hold of him

Anyway, he was not happy with this stranger, and hurled himself at him. Electricity Guy beats a hasty retreat back into the hall, trying to close the door behind him as I attempt to get past him in my own house to calm down the dog who's now in full on attack mode, heckles raised and growling.

Pacification took a little while, but was achieved with only mild scratches to myself, at which point I let the Electricity Guy read the meter, and then he went on his way (not unhurriedly).

Perhaps next time someone says 'hang on a sec,' to him, though, he might think that there could be a reason beyond perhaps the house-owner wishing to remove an incriminatingly paused DVD image from the screen...

As for Mali, I'm certainly not complaining about him; Electricity Guy was surprised and caught unawares, but not physically harmed. So I figure Mali did his job there. *proffers biscuit*
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"Once you have elimated the impossible," quoth Holmes, "whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth!"

It sounds so simple when he says it. But when faced with my intermittent web drop-outs at Castle Fox, I'm not really sure how to apply it.

First off, I ripped out all of my internal extension wires for the phone, so that the only socket in the house is the KC provided one, over which I have no control. The reasoning behind this was that mebbe some of my wiring had come loose, and was causing interference. Result? No difference.

Next, I swapped the router (I have a spare). Again, no change; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. When it's working, I can swap back to the original router, and it'll also work. When it's not working, I can swap routers, and remain subfunctional. So tentatively I draw the conclusion that it's not the router.

I then phoned KC themselves, who assured me that they test all the lines in the exchange on a 24 hour basis, and confirmed that my phone line had no faults. Huh.

Belatedly, I realised that I'd not swapped the ADSL microfilter throughout all the above, and perhaps that was intermittently faulty? Consequently, I swapped in a new microfilter on Friday, and everything was fine until this morning... whence, again, I have no web - PC or XBox.

So. Either both routers are intermittently faulty. Or both microfilters are intermittently faulty. Or both the PC and the two XBoxes are intermittently faulty (network only). Or there's an intermittent line problem that's evading KC's detection.

None of these seem terribly likely, to be honest.
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You'd have thought, perhaps, that when finding it hard work looking at the monitors (both home and work), I might have investigated the brightness settings perhaps a couple of months earlier than, er, today, wouldn't you?

Both screens were set to 100, and so I've toned them right down, which is making things a lot easier on the eye. So yay for that.
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Back at work, after what turned out to be a pretty mild case of 'flu, if my previous experience is anything to go by. Mostly better now, although I have some freshly brewed lemsip on the desk to try and keep me functional for the rest of the day.

Anyway, thanks to all for the good wishes and stuff - Castle Fox was offline for the duration, which means that this is the first chance I've had to check back in on Dreamwidth. The ISP thing is something I'll have to sort out eventually, but I wasn't really feeling up to it (or anything, really) just then.

Right now I'm slightly perturbed by the fact that Outlook is projecting that it's going to take 13 minutes to update my Inbox with the emails from Thursday. That doesn't bode well.
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Huh. Intermittent internets seem to have plagued Castle Fox for the weekend - am not sure whether the fault lies with my router (a Netgear 4 port with (disabled) WiFi), or upstream from these walls... either way, though, if it's intermittent, that usually means it's a pain to diagnose.

Another quiet day, really - P & I ambled into town this afternoon, and I picked up River of Gods by Ian MacDonald, a SF story set in mid-21st Century (I think), where India has been carved up into twelve (I think) semi-independent states. I'm barely a chapter in, thinking it's got a sort of Gibsonesque vibe to it. Proper review as and when...

...which could be a while. I've currently got four open books at the moment, which is unusual for me, because I tend to read serially rather than in parallel. Hmm. Must. Try. Harder.
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's been a quiet Saturday, all told; I took advantage of being dog-less to have a lie-in, until 7.15am.

It was pouring when I went to fetch the hound, but has since eased off a bit. Nonetheless, given the recently thawed snow will have saturated the ground, it's no surprise that the roads were starting to do the Venetian impression...

I was actually wondering if I was going to be able to get online today at all - the router dropped the net connection this afternoon, and I've been flicking it on every hour or so since to see if the situation had corrected itself. Assuming that this post does, y'know, post, then that should be evidence that a resolution of sorts was found, but it's a bit disappointing to lose access across the weekend - especially when KC have an effective monopoly as the ISP for this fair city.
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After lunch with [personal profile] cynthia_black yesterday, I got back into work only for parts of my vision to start dropping out... the critical, dead-centre parts, naturally, and with such migraines, experience has taught me that all I can do is go for a forced reboot, and crawl into bed.

So I came home, walked Mali, and was in bed by 4pm. Although I got up a few times, and let Mali out into the yard for good measure, I didn't get up properly until 6.30 this morning, feeling mostly better, but still a bit woozy.

As a result, I've avoided the PC until this evening, hence the slightly odd update time for this post.

The migraine threw a few things out, actually - aside from missing an afternoon's work, I also had to postpone a vets' appointment for Mali (kennel cough vaccination - been and done this afternoon instead), and had to put off picking P up from the Farm, too :-/

I also had a plumber returning to look at a leak under the sink - the stopcock got replaced last week, and now, by the power of PFTE tape, I think I've finally reclaimed use of the undersink cupboard. Which is nice.

Anyway, because the plumber had fixed the time as 'Saturday morning', and I had a vets' appointment for Mali at 2.30pm (the only available slot I could shift to from Friday at such short notice), that meant I couldn't reliably pick P up any earlier than 5.

It snowed a little, the last couple of days - this is always bad news around the Dukeries, because the snow compacts, converts to slush, then freezes, and the roads become ice-rinks. The drive up to the Farm gets better once we're onto the main arterial routes through Hull, but once onto the winding roads past Beverley, conditions got just a little slippery once again, and I could feel the car squirming around as we pootled rather gingerly along.

Not pootling fast enough for the BMW (what else?) driver, who roared past on the return flit, though.

By the time we got back to Castle Fox, the Snow Proper started to fall - we don't get much of the stuff, so when it does fall (and, more importantly, settle), it's a Big Thing. More amusingly, Mali turns into a sort of inverse dalmatian when we're out walking in it - the flakes creating white spots on the predominantly black coat.
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Standing in a gradually rising puddle whilst having this morning's shower convinced me that the drain needed clearing out in the yard. This is not a fun job, and despite my best efforts at trying to separate grungy water from fox, there was some cross-contamination, which I was less than thrilled about.

The problem is that the drain itself has a plastic 6"x6" cover that sits in a recessed square in the concrete... unless a curious hound sees it. For some reason, Mali takes an active dislike to the plastic inserts being in the drainage channels, so he flips them up with his paw, and then carries them across the yard to put them down. He doesn't chew them(!), he just feels that the yard is more aesthetically pleasing sans drainage grates.

What then happens is that rubbish and the like that blows into the yard flutters down the opened gulleys, resulting in me pulling out plastic bags and chocolate bar wrappers that have been blocking the channel.

Flow is somewhat improved, but I'm going to have to come up with a more long term solution - ideally, I'd like to find some metal grids, in the hope that they'd be sufficiently heavy to resist canine interference. Otherwise, I might try and screw down some wire mesh across the top, to make them fully tamper-proof.
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In the customary fox-like manner of preparedness, P and I went to pick up tools that, in all probability, would have proved much more useful yesterday. Still, next time, I am totally sorted.

Anyway, B&Q, I learned to my cost, has taken to broadcasting covers of songs over the internal PA.

Not just any old covers, mind. Excruciatingly bad covers of really good songs.

Songs like Perfect (Fairground Attraction), Fast Car (Tracy Chapman), I Knew You Were Waiting (George Michael and Aretha Franklin). What makes things all the more painful is that the cover artistes are evidently trying to stamp their own personal authority through their warbling, and thus you're 'treated' to the most bizarre renditions of said ditties.

Poor P was watching me literally wince in pain as each successive travesty launched a fresh assault on the bastions of reason, good taste and ... well, just plain fair play.
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It has bugged me for a while that I've had the fridge at Castle Fox positioned in almost the worst place possible, from an energy efficiency point of view: vis, next to the radiator and immediately beneath the boiler.

So I've shifted it to the other end of the kitchen. However, this meant that the door now opened the wrong way - from being a right-hinged door that ensured that the fridge was accessible from within the kitchen as it were, shifting it to the other end meant that the door opened to create a barrier, and you had to practically exit the kitchen (at the opposite end) to be able to reach the milk.

Now, when I bought said domestic appliance, I remember flicking through the instructions (admit it, we all read the instruction manuals for white goods when they arrive) those 9 years past and seeing a subsection headed 'reversing the door hinge' or some such. Despite all the resources available to me courtesy of the highly structured filing environment that is Castle Fox's archives, I was unable to locate the fridge's Book of Words to seek further guidance, but in the end the rough hint proved enough.

First off, you need to lay the beast (carefully) on its back, remove the front feet, unscrew the lower bolt holding the door on and slide the whole door assembly downwards, so it disengages the upper pin.

It then lifts off, and you can extricate the upper bolt from the door casing and transfer it to the opposite (top left) corner of the body. Likewise, the lower hinge bolt and its dummy partner can dosey-do and swap positions, whereupon everything gets reassembled in reverse order (you just swear in different places).

All this would be so much easier if I actually possessed a non-stripped posidrive screwdriver, or a 6mm spanner. Lacking both, I had to use the needlenose pliers from my Leatherman, and also its cross-head driver. But believe me, trying to torque up fixings with that device was not easy on the hands. Ouch.

Anyway, with luck, the upshot of this transformation will be that the fridge will no longer be fighting a cooling battle against the wall of heat roiling off the kitchen radiator, and instead will be able to chug merrily along, sipping far less elctrickery than in the past. Will I notice the difference? Probably not, but at least that's one less thing to keep me awake at night.


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