scribbles tagged ‘Darling’

welcome Sparkle!

Monday, November 5th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Sparkle on my tableSparkle a ‘Champaigne’ coloured Acer Aspire S3 Ultrabook running windows 7 home premium joins my list of personally owned computers, dating back to 2004. Hooray!

Here’s how it all started:

In 2004 my employer provided me with a really good laptop and didn’t mind me using it at home. No need for a 2nd computer.  Until a 17 year old Swedish exchange student moved into my life, my home. My official role was “Host Mother”.  I didn’t think I’d be chosen when I offered my skills to the local Scandinavian society:

I drink, I smoke, I work long hours, live alone with 2 cats and have absolutely no experience of being a parent or living with teenage kids except with my brother but that was over 20 years ago so it doesn’t really count. If she and her mother are OK with that then I guess we can work something out

Much to my surprise, and slight horror, they choose me – for a year. At work my Canadian manager  told me I was crazy.   Unconvincingly, I tried to reassure him:

She’s a half Finnish Swede, studying cookery, we’ll work something out


You’re crazy, I left Scandinavia to get away from the bossy women and you’re inviting one home!

When a 17 year old moves into your home, is studying at Redmond High School (almost everyone’s parents work at Microsoft), you have to make sure they’re equipped with a computer.  I bought a HP Compaq and set-up a home wireless for her. She would be able to do schoolwork with privacy in her room, or join me on mine downstairs. There were times when we sat next to each other on the Sofa using MSN Messenger to talk to each other.  It was surreal and fun. When she left, she left the laptop.

Quickly I got used to personalising the machine and not carrying my work laptop home.  I started blogging and met other people who had their own laptops and blogged. I was hooked.  Sparkle makes me smile, helps me to sparkle.

Meanwhile, a few of you may remember my blogging from these laptops:

  1. Tinkerbell Silver HP Compaq Windows XP Home  – suicide in 2006 (Motherboard failure)
  2. Darling Maroon Sony Viao Windows XP Home  – retired in 2008 (XP irritatingness – traded-in for Sparkle)
  3. Neverland Golden Sony Viao TT Windows Vista Professional – suicide in 2010 (Hardware failure – power socket – much loved and missed)
  4. Cupboard Maroon Sony Viao Netbook – Windows 7 Starter – suicide in 2012 (Hardware failure – Screen-crack, touchpad left-click not working, some keys getting fussy and CRAP performance. I never liked the Cupboard much)

Can you guess how long I expect Sparkle to last and the likely main cause of her demise?

welcome Sparkle!
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I want Vista

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Reasons to retire Darling,   part 4

1. Increasing requirements to contact computer support services

2. I am developing  obstreperous-w intolerance.

3. 8loody hail, breeding task manager

4. I WANT Vista

I’ve used a Vista machine and I love all the search-stuff (start menu, control-panel),     I no longer have to remember where I put things.

Its got a thing called ‘snippit’ which takes pictures of what’s on your screen in a much easier way that control-print-screen,   open-paint,   then paste.  

It’s pretty! The computer I used running Vista is a rather ugly thing,   unlike Darling.   I want to marry the two,   prettiness of Darlings body-work  with  the  human-memory-complimenting  functionality of Vista.

I want Vista
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8loody hail, breeding task manager

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008 | tags: , , ,  |

Reasons to retire Darling,   part 3

1. Increasing requirements to contact computer support services

2. I am developing  obstreperous-w intolerance.

3. Generally increasing bizarre behaviours that do not actually require support calls because they are solved by reboots.  

In this example we see the results of my having hit control-alt-delete (CAD)  in an attempt to get the task-manager so that I can Zap the program that for some reason is now using all my processing power….   nothing happened… then…     …I didn’t press CAD that many times,   its been breeding…

8loody hail, breeding task manager


8loody hail, breeding task manager
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Darling’s double-you

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008 | tags: , ,  |

Darling and I have trouble communicating multiple U’s.  Darling’s  w-key is  getting fussy about being pressed,   it requires twice the pressure of any other key before it ill register a letter.   The increasing dodgyness of the keyboard as one of the core early symptoms of Tinkerbell’s stealth senility and eventual  NMI Parity death.  

After over  2 years of daily blogging and travelling all over the place (and Spokane) maybe Darling is seeking retirement perks.

Darling’s double-you
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distributed (human) memory

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008 | tags: , , , , ,  |

<Essay warning>

Not distributed within the mind,  distributed across people and other things.   The work of Yvonne Rogers  in the 1990’s introduced me to the idea of distributed cognition.   Here are some examples from my everyday life:

  • placing my empty bottles by the front door to remind me  to take them to the bottle-bank when I leave the house (memory distributed between bottles and Wendy’s absent mind)
  • going upstairs to get my passport,   when I get upstairs I’ve forgotten why I went there,   going back downstairs and seeing the holiday (excitement level: Amber) details on Darling I remember why I went upstairs. (memory distributed between holiday details on Darling and Wendy’s absent mind)
  • At the pub quiz,   trying to name a song title from hearing a snippit of the  tune,   I can only hum the continuation of the  tune,   another team member can sings the lyrics to my hummed tune,   a third team member can now name the band then the fourth team member can remember the song title (memory socially distributed between team members).  
  • I can’t remember my password as letters and numbers,   I can’t remember the layout of a keyboard,      when infront of Darlings keyboard I  can reliably produce  my password  (memory distributed between keyboard layout and Wendy’s absent mind).   The recent move from US to UK keyboards has been a bit password-disruptive.
  • I can’t remember how to get from St Nicolas’s market to Clifton,   but when I am in Bristol I can walk the route directly with no trouble whatsoever,   very pleasant it is too   (Memory distributed between the city-scape and Wendy’s absent mind).   Note that the Schrocks recently experienced the way that St. Nicholas market can suprise you by turning out to be exactly where you  are wandering.

People, sensibly, strategically delegate the effort involved in constructing some memories to post-it notes,   lists, calendars,  address books,   mobile phones,  bag-contents, places,  blogs, photoalbums, family and friends.  

A die-hard cognitivist might say this is just context-cued recall.   Both paradigms provide the means to describe human behaviour,   but the approaches to psychological  theory building and  research are radically different.   The cognitivist would attempt to identify the specific cues that work most effectively and assess them in a lab,   one specific unusual context,  rather than analyse everyday activities in commonly meaningful contexts.   These different research techniques would yield different practical,   application, recommendations.

The cognitivists make the research language and approach to understanding human behaviour their domain as specialists,   ‘everyday’ approaches enable results to be readily recognisable, understandable and communicable to people outside of a specialist discourse.   They also afford more meaningful pragmatic applications.  

<Essay warning over>

My next essay will probably be on Reading’s buses

distributed (human) memory
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Darling’s cascading start menu

Friday, October 19th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

Darling’s cascading start menu is


because I have to be very dextrous with Darlings touchpad to pick the right item at the top-level, and it gets even more tricky to get the second level menu to stay there long-eough to get to a specific choice there.   I rarely manage to get to the third level,   at least not without buckets of tears.  


because it holds long readable lists of all sorts of things that I could use.   They are hidden away until I click on whatever opens the menu and then I can see it all without clicking again.   No multiple clicks to see something, no digging around,   I can easily visually scan.   I virtually never go there, having these things hidden then scannable even  when I get the impulse to run a quick disc defragmentation.   The cascade is works,   I really don’t want to have to remember where things are.

A couple of fellows compared web-based cascading menus,   with drop-down menus and in-page menus by timing people while they searched for things in them and asking them to rate their  experience.     In-page navigation came out with the fastest-performance and being most liked.     Hoorah for  inplace menus in web-pages.   Please  don’t do that to Darling.   I defintiely  would  not  like all of Darling’s start menu items on my desktop.   Quick access to my disk defragmenter and my control panel from my desktop is not really what I want.   I quite like them hidden away in the start menu.  

Darlings lovely cascading start menu,   you can see lots of things that I rarely use,  all at once!:

Darling’s cascading start menu
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hot darling

Wednesday, May 9th, 2007 | tags: , ,  |

forty-first post in a Wednesday series  detailing the etiology of   Wendy’s singleness.

Reason # 41:    hot darling

The virtues of darling are difficult to match:      

  • doesn’t sulk
  • no snoring at night
  • warms the bed for me
  • doesn’t frown when Flat Eric comes out to play    
  • is always awake in the morning to join me for a cup of tea  
  • is always awake at night when I get in to join me for a beer  
  • doesn’t drink, smoke, burp, diet, fart, dribble, wobble  or watch TV
  • is an excellent source of navigational information especially when the GPS reciever is connected

Darling, ready for an early night with me:

hot darling
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device drivers to distraction

Monday, July 3rd, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

(extremely boring entry warning)

today I had to scan a copy of my new passport information for the US  immigration people.   I haven’t used my scanner since Tinkerbell bit the dust.   Somewhere in the universe there is a CD that I should use to make my Canon scanner work with Darling.   Do I know where it is?   Um,   no,   Do I want to rummage through piles of user manuals and CD’s in some dark disorganised cupboard, err, no thanks.   I probably threw the CD away when recycling the original packaging,   I like to live ‘light’.   Below is a description of my punishment for trying to live light……  

  1. plug scanner into one of Darling‘s ample USB ports.   Little balloony-thing says new device detected and pops a wizardy thing asking me to either  
    • insert my CD  
    • search for the drivers on the internet  
    • browse  to a folder that contains the drivers.  
  2. Search the internet.   Drivers not found.   Bollocks.
  3. Try a different USB port.   Drivers not found.   Bollocks.
  4. Find driver downloads on Cannon’s web page,   find the name of my scanner (on the scanner) and download the driver.   Didn’t read the instructions.  Just clicked ‘download’ and ‘run’.   That should work.
  5. Unplug and replug the scanner.   Select manually point to a folder that contains the driver.   Darn,   I didn’t check where the download put it.   I’ll point to the windows folder,   its probably put there and its the default place being pointed to by the search anyway. Drivers not found.   Bollocks.
  6. Try a different USB port.   Drivers not found.   Bollocks.
  7. Go back to the Cannon download site and read the instructions.   I should have clicked on some “set-up.exe” once I’d done the download.   Bollocks.   Since I have no idea where the download went,   I download the drivers again and save them to my network drive with a sensible name rather than meaningless name  that Canon has used.   Aha,   progress!   I run the set-up.exe.  
  8. Unplug and replug the scanner.   Select manually point to a folder that contains the driver.   Try to select the folder on my network drive.   But,   when I point at this folder the dialog wont let me select ‘OK’,   it only lets me point to the Windows folder.   Bollocks.
  9. Copy the downloaded folder into the windows folder,   run the set-up.exe again (just incase). Unplug and replug the scanner point to the folder containing the drivers.   Drivers not found Bollocksy-Bollocks.
  10. Make cup of tea.   Breath slowly and deeply.
  11. Open the device manager.   It shows my Scanner with a yellow exclamation mark over it – no drivers.   Right-click on this and select ‘update drivers’ get the same wizardy thing I’ve already tried 700x.   Point to the folder where I’ve downloaded the files.   Drivers not found Bollocksy-Bollocks  with brass-knobs on.  
  12. Start pulling at my hair and take the swearing up a notch to ‘unpublishable’.
  13. Open the folder that I downloaded from Cannon,   notice there’s a second .exe in there that I haven’t yet clicked on.   Click on it.
  14. Unplug and replug the scanner.   The yellow balloony-thing  this time includes the name of the scanner.   Hooray.    A dialogue pop’s up asking me what I want windows to do everytime I plug in this device,   it includes an option for running the ‘scanner wizard’,   thankyou,   I’ll take that please.   Then I successfully scan my passport for the US immigration people.   Phew.

Rumour has it that Windows Vista will be hot on ‘plug and play’.   No more keeping old CD’s from device manufacturers with the device,   no more searching for and installing (or failing to) drivers from the device manufacturers website.   I hope.   Vista might just let me plug in my scanner and scan.   In the future normal people might not have to know about drivers to use their computers.

How sexy is that?     ooooooOOOOOoooo     🙂

device drivers to distraction
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hunt the monitor

Saturday, May 6th, 2006 | tags: , ,  |

oOo look:  

Darling's device manager says 3 monitors

Darling‘s ‘Device Manager’ says she has 3 playful monitors!   I can only find one.   This baby is full of suprises,   I’ll keep looking for the other two…  …maybe they’re disguised…

hunt the monitor
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who? when? where?

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006 | tags: , , , ,  |

My gorgeous little Sony Ericsson T610 mobile phone reminds me of the answers to all these questions.  


It synchronizes with my Outlook 2003  contacts and calendar.   Both Darling and my phone know where I have to be and when I have to be there.   If they are turned-on, they remind me.   Wonderful for a scatterbrain like me.   My phone is always turned on.   I just need to remember to charge and synchronize it.   I did have to buy a ‘Bluetooth adapter’ to enable Darling and my mobile phone to build a ‘partnership’.   Disappointing that a brand new laptop had neither an Infra-Red beam port or internal Bluetooth given how common these connection methods are on phones.  

Now  I dont ‘remember’ anyones phone number or where I have to be when,   my phone does it for me….  

Geeky GUSH!

who? when? where?
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Saturday, April 8th, 2006 | tags: ,  |

Darling’s inside casing is a light metalic pink.   Her touchpad is the same light metalic pink.   The gal not only has style she has  3 USB ports on her sides  near the front.   Easy to plug-in  and remove a mouse, music player,   camera,   or any other thing,   all at the same time!   Versatility with working well  are so so so SEXY Oh!

Darling poses


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Friday, March 31st, 2006 | tags: , , ,  |

60  mins:   drive to and from Fed-Ex.   Read Sony’s reassuring ‘we’ll help you when its bad‘ message on the box.   I hope its not a confidence vote in their equipment…

Returns and support information on Darlings box

5  mins:   to unpack the little beauty christened ‘Darling’  from her box of big open spaces.   Easy access packing,   nice work Sony!  

Darling in her box

0 mins:   Read the instructions,  warranties, etc.   I don’t think so! I’ll leave that to Matrix (fluffball).   No 6-pack of CD’s? Tinkerbell came with CD’s for  Windows, AOL, System Recovery, Antivirus and  5 times the wieght in documentation!

All the documentation that ccame with Darling - actually not that much!

5 mins:   plug everything in,   press the power button and wait to be asked all those IMPORTANT questions.   Wow,   so easy!

10 mins:   Say ‘Yes’ to  WAY  TOO MANY  questions that are important to someone.   Not me.   It’s torture I tell you!    How can anyone seriously expect me to read this stuff?  I am much too excited….     Stop asking me questions and show me the goodies!

700000 mins:   BOOO!     Re-Start!  mania.    EVERYTHING and their  cousins twice-removed  got  ‘out of date’ while Darling waited for me in the Sony storehouse.   You know  dates can be troublesome.    Then there’s my distaste for  that sticky AOL thang.   It’s worth  avoiding sticky-clinginess.  These all told me to restart:  

  1. Windows Update  
  2. Office Update
  3. Norton Antivirus Live Update  
  4. AOL uninstall

Then you have to  smile at the antispyware program that proudly announces it doesn’t require a reboot to get updated.   Well done antispyware program 🙂

After much booting and geeking around Darling made the pinkier first step into the land of creative accessorizing, oh YES….

Darling and her travel case  

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