A Really Good Book

So. I missed “yesterday,” as stated in my previous post. And I missed yesterday, as in relation to this post (I hope) as well — meaning that I also missed posting on Pi Day (preferably known as Einsteinʼs Birthday), as well. In both cases we must blame the computer (and somewhat my own sloth — but mostly the computer: bless you Apple with all sanctimonious and cynical sarcasm). Even today, with a new update for Mountain Lion, I have spent most of the day with the iMac frozen and (seemingly) forever restarting (fortunately, The Lovely One asked me to clean the house in preparation for some guests, who called last night to indicate illness all week was undoubtedly going to prevent their visit; so I could at least go away from the detestable device and do something worthwhile today — as yesterday I determined to not just sit and fume at spinning gear images and what not but read instead).*

Clearly I should keep this brief before the computer interferes with working successfully yet again.

KindlleHere it is: I love my Kindle (not so fond of the Kindle app for Mac, however, as it now takes a full five minutes to start and run, when not in “safe” mode when it loads perfectly fine and fast, and also apparently caused the most recent system freeze and forced hard restarts). It is really cool to be able to carry a full library around with me in one little, thin device. And I do mean a full library. Although the Kindle Reader only counts 437 books downloaded and included, a huge number of those are the cheap and usable “complete” collection available from various packagers of royalty-free material, meaning that about 50 of the “books” include from twenty to fifty books each!

However, the best thing about the amazon.com device is that I really get into reading things on it — new, old, reread for the umpteenth time and utterly fresh. I have always been a lover of the actual, old-fashioned book — the scent, the feel, the comfort of real pages in a real binding (paper or otherwise). But on the Kindle, reading works just as well, and I get perhaps even more lost in the stories. In my contemporary state of increasing joint pains (sometimes desperately excruciating), holding the Kindle beats trying to keep a hardbacked book open in my lap (not to mention the utter delight for My Beloved to be able to make the font just as large as necessary for her post-surgical eyeballs to perceive readily).

wolf-hallAnd one of the best things that I actually read (new and complete) thanks to the electronic reading machine has been Hilary Mantelʼs Wolf Hall, a brilliant book that thoroughly captured me and kept me up late, late (intolerably so when it came to arising sometimes less than four hours later to get out and work out), unwilling to pause at any story break and go to sleep.

I had first encountered her text in portions published in various literary magazines before the book was actually published (at least here in the U.S.) — in the TLS for certain and I also think in the New York Review of Books and possibly The London Review of Books** as well. Although I read the material each time (and also the subsequent glowing reviews), I wasnʼt entirely whelmed at the third-person present-tense imprisonment in the protagonistʼs perspective.

I did eventually buy the hardback at a Borders going-out-of-business 80%-off price a couple of years ago, but I never got further than the first fifty pages. Maybe, for an old man weened on the hagiography of A Man for All Seasons, it was too hard to imagine a Thomas Cromwell not utterly wicked and venal (although one can clearly perceive his hardening character in Mantelʼs telling, once I did read the book).

In October or November (I donʼt now remember just when I bought the e-book version), with the next volume in the trilogy, Bring Up the Bodies, well reviewed and winning Mantel her second-in-a-row Man Booker Prize, I sprang the nine bucks for a Kindle version. And have been devouring it since (spaced judiciously for other reads, particularly various research items for Sepharad and other books I whimsically have afforded to create the massive library that fits into my pocket).

Wolf Hall. Wonderful stuff. Incredibly well written and easy to read voraciously.

Now I am postponing the start of Bring Up the Bodies (also on the Kindle for some time now) in order to enjoy other things — The Moonstone for the fifth time and for  second time Anthony Burgessʼs Earthly Powers, which became available in January. And triter trifles, too (like Jack Vanceʼs Demon Princes series again and a pleasant discovery from a dead favorite — a mystery by Roger Zelazny, The Dead Manʼs Brother, already completed and archived). And more to come.

* And even now Spotlightʼs incessant cataloguing keeps taken over from my typing and leaving me with not a cursor but an Apple-effing spinning beachball.

** That periodical did publish the text of the speech the author gave recently about the royals which got her into trouble for (not really) disrespecting the expectant mother of the heir-to-become.

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Effing Mountain Lion

FML. My computer cannot keep up with my typing (and although I type relatively quickly, I do not type really, really fast, so anyone would believe that a modern — no, not contemporary, but still modern — computer could keep up with my only-human typing speed; that supposition would be wrong). So what is the problem?

The infamous chiclet-keyboard (with the inimitable Gwen Hernandezʼs incredibly useful Scrivener for Dummies right there, close to hand when needed.

The infamous chiclet-keyboard (with the inimitable Gwen Hernandezʼs incredibly useful Scrivener for Dummies right there, where it always resides, close to hand when needed).

Well, up front I should admit that I donʼt lways hit every key precisely (particularly on this damnable chiclet Bluetooth keyboard*). For example, that missing “a” in the previous sentenceʼs “always” is probably not the fault of the computer but of this user (of course, the spelling-correction feature is underlining the defective “lways” — both above and in this parenthetical insertion, but I intend to post this initial message for 2013 just as my computer — and I — create[s] it, more or less**; likewise, if I adntʼ mad Typinator change m regular mistyped “setnence” to sentence, that ould have remained wrong as well). I also, as suggested already, have a horrible tendency toward typos — dyslexic fingering that creates jumbled words with letters misordered, some of which I have programmed to get corrected*** (as noted above), some not. Both kinds, however, stir up Mountain Lionʼs intrusive correction suggester (putting up a blue suggestion of what I presumably was supposed to mean to type below the active word onscreen), which although helpful once in a blue moon, usually serves merely to slow down the computerʼs response to the continuation of my typing (which I guess could be resolved, at least somewhat, if I watched the screen and not my fingers/keyboard — as if that will happen at this very late stage in my typing life). Thus, third, I should acknowledge that I myself have created many intrusions into the ordinary typing process, some (if nch) my help to slow down th computerʼs acceptance and display of my maladroit dgitsʼ dance across the excruciatingly tiny keys.****

So some of my curet problems must be ascribed simply to me. (That boldfaced bit of idiocy is an automatic correction, believe it or not, for current!)

I missed BehavioralInjector_64 using 83.3 percent of the RAM by less than a second before the screencapture camera clicked. Drat.

I missed BehavioralInjector_64 using 83.3 percent of the RAM by less than a second before the screencapture camera clicked. Drat.

On the other hand, and that other mitt is the thrust of todayʼs post, none of this was a problem before I “upgraded,” witlessly, moronically, to Appleʼs system 10.8.2, the savagely unready-to-be-released Mountain Lion. (I know I have moaned about this Windoze-like***** set of programming incompetence already, but… ) I have begun to discover that the problem seems to reside with the vast number of processes that think whatever unimportant background activity (like updating Spotlight or too-frequently backing up to Time Machine or whatever mds and mdworker, among too many other gnomically-named bits of coded nuisance, keep attempting to do behind my back, without my permission) is more important than the actual task at which I am genuinely at work (meaning that my typing or program-opening or whatever comes a distant third to whatever other disk-grinding busy-nesses are happening about which I do not care). And I am not the only one.

Some of the worst offenders are processes from programs I have installed (namely Syncoveryʼs totalitarian backup agent and Intego VirusBarrierʼs horrible BehavioralInjector — whether underscore32 or _64, the former being the more dictatorial and domineering). However, using Activity Monitor, I can quit those processes (usually — sometimes it takes ten or fifty quits to get BehavioralInjector to stay absent/inactive). Appleʼs own intrusions are not so user-friendly. Furthermore, that aforementioned spinning beachball has really gotten irritatingly omnipresent!

And that, my friends, is why I keep not getting much done. (Amusingly — and I intend that word literally, etymologophiles — these processes donʼt interfere with getting online. Much — see beachball reference above.)

Maybe now, with as few issues in the most recent paragraphs as there were, I can get back to work on important fiction (really).

* Really, Apple? You couldntʼ make a real keyboard that connects wirelessly? Really…

** The less being that whatever I noticed was wrong when I finished, I boldfaced. (And I wonʼt comment on what I may know were my own issues and what the fornication-worthless software/hardware permitted to be wrong.)

*** Another standard correction, which the computer currently finds nearly impossible to handle adequately is the transformation of straight apostrophes to curly typographerʼs apostrophes (and since I cannot get PopChar to function today — more computer trauma, I guess — I canʼt show a straight one). What happens is: all too often the apostrophe gets inserted after the final s in a possessive (I am coming to think because of the ridiculously slow and intrusive correction-suggester); several examples have occurred in todayʼs post.

**** That would translate as: “some (if not each) may help to slow down the computerʼs…” (Hmmm… you can tell that these footnotish interjections were created down here as I wrote because with these, too, the number of errors decreases with time. Interesting?)

***** Shall we enumerate every Microsoft Windows nonimprovement since XP (and most before)?

Did anyone get the punning initial acronym? Apple… ? (Itʼs not my life that I was addressing.)

©2013 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

Tech Frustrations (3) — Apple Edition, part one

Having resurrected Janetʼs laptop (at least to an almost acceptable point, admittedly lacking virus protection), I proceeded almost immediately to screw everything up to an almost unbelievable degree by upgrading my iMac from Snow Leopard (MacOS 10.6.8) to the current Mountain Lion edition (MacOS 10.8.2 — with another improving update already available and suggested).

Big mistake. Huge, as a matter of fact.

My computer couldnʼt even restart the first time after the Apple App Store application had installed the new system. (And I had hesitated over the many complaints in the reviews section, wondering why Apple didnʼt think anyone needed an installation CD from which to restore the system when necessary, and it has been necessary — five times up to now, and thatʼs not shutting down daily as I had formerly done). And the installation took four hours (maybe a little more)!

I made my twenty-dollar mistake on Thursday evening, September 27, and I was frustrated and computer-deprived for the next three days, reinstalling the system all over again twice (and learning all about what the new installation had done, not to mention getting almost instantly sick of that tan cordillera/sierra felineʼs glare). The biggest flaw (for me at least) with Mountain Lion is that the software cannot restart from a hard shutdown/restart (meaning pushing the little  power/startup button on the rear left of the computer when everything suspends activity unalterably — freezes or hangs) or in my experience from an ordinary restart sequence (even the one Apple imposes with the installation — and upgrade — packages).

As I reported in my own review of the product once I had successfully gotten my iMac operational again (the following Sunday, then Monday):

Got really tired of seeing this visage on this screen in the past three-and-a-half weeks (five times, friends and comrades — so far)

Installed Mountain Lion (MacOS 10.8.2), foolhardily, Thursday afternoon (four days ago, as I write) — net result: couldnʼt get my iMac to fully restart afterwards… Constant, invariable hangs/freezes once the lovely new constellation desktop picture loaded.

Reinstalled said system, using the hidden Recovery partition this installation creates (and, buyers, do make sure you already know your Apple ID and Password [and LAN/Wi-Fi access code/password!!] without software assistance when installing this premature ejaculation of a product) on Friday evening after a whole night and day of forced restarts after start-up hangs, but no go on fully loading on restart, even after the four-hour download and installation. 

However, Saturday morning, inexplicably and without any changed approach on my part, when I tried another start-up, the system loaded and worked… until some programs wouldnʼt open and I decided to restart the computer… Naturally: hang city all over again…

No luck all day Sunday, either (even leaving the stalled start-up alone for hours and hours). The “consult the Apple Support Forums” option presented by the recovery partition merely takes you to standard info, no real help. Except perhaps for restoring from Time Machine and runnning Disk Utility (no problems of that kind in my case), none of the options works without internet connection (thus the need to have your LAN password ready before trying anything from the recovery partition).

Reinstalled for the third time this morning, Monday, and even before the promised three hours and 41 minutes (download and installation) had elapsed, we were up and running. Wowza.

Iʼm planning to leave my poor, abused machine continuously on for a long time today (tomorrow… into next year?) to let Spotlight index (if it actually is — estimate is back up to 20 hours, after ten hours on). And get three or twenty good Time Machine backups complete. Surviving so far without troubling Apple support by phone, although they were VERY helpful once in the distant past.

Anyone think I can afford to shut down (ever) without needing to reinstall yet again?

Hardware Overview:

  •   Model Name: iMac
  •   Model Identifier: iMac9,1
  •   Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
  •   Processor Speed: 2.66 GHz
  •   Number of Processors: 1
  •   Total Number of Cores: 2
  •   L2 Cache: 6 MB
  •   Memory: 4 GB
  •   Bus Speed: 1.07 GHz
  •   Boot ROM Version: IM91.008D.B08
  •   SMC Version (system): 1.45f0

Not really recommended, based on my experience. I should have heeded all those earlier reviewers with problems!

Too harsh, thinkest thou, O Gentil Reader? Itʼs only gotten worse…

©2012 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.