Accepting me for me

It’s been a good weekend. Got lots done. I think it was a good thing that I didn’t have my Mac this weekend.

The nervous tension brought on by the knowledge that next week I will get it back with a new screen, new keyboard, new optical drive, new Operating system, new iLife suite and double the RAM it had before has been enough to send me into a study frenzy! I spent another 10 hours in the library Information Commons today, and as a result of that completed virtually all of basic homework for the coming week. In addition to the two translations, the (Japanese) self-intro for the job application, the research into the immigration system in Japan (have you seen the new measures they’re introducing this month?! They think we’re all crimnials!) and the newspaper article, I also managed to finish off two text books on Work in Japan and turn them into a few pages of notes. Then, encouraged by my homework, I wrote the first draft of my real life application for the JET program, having downloaded the 52 page guidance manual. With competition so stiff nothing can be taken for granted, it’s going to be tough. I’ve sent my referees the guidelines that need to be followed for their contributions (includes the seal of the envelopes being signed!), and initiated the getting-copies-of-my-transcripts process.

Wow, it’s all happening!

Whilst doing some of that translation homework today, I observed an interesting attitude revealing itself within me.

I often talk about bettering oneself, and how important I think it is to push oneself beyond one’s comfort zone whenever possible. Thus, I was a little taken aback when I found myself saying,

“Hmm, it’s not great Joseph. But it’ll do. …it’s very you!”

And thinking back on events last week, notably the presentations I gave, I recall feeling similar feelings there. I didn’t really follow the regular academic presentation pattern (although come to think of it I doubt there is such a thing). I was more a Labrador on steroids. In fact in one of the presentations I left out most of what I’d planned to say as I was too hyper to look at my notes. I ended up just going with what it said on my Keynote presentation, and adding chunks of stuff that flew into my head along the way. Thus, it wasn’t quite as academic as it could have been. I missed out on the clever vocab, and got rather emotionally involved. Despite this, it went down very well.

Where does this feeling stem from? It’s not laziness is it?

I don’t think so.

No, I think it’s more to do with the fact that I seem to be trusting myself a lot more lately. If I am just me, if I am true to myself, things will all work out. There will be no room for regret, as I am just ‘myself’, and that’s who I am. There’s no point in worrying.

Yes, I know I’ve been saying these things in a repetitive manner for several months, but as this is the first time I’ve seen the attitude and the results manifested in an academic situation, it feels all new all over again.

I want to do well in my degree, but at the same time I feel it’s not helpful to overburden myself. Still, if I continue having weekends such as this one (which I have really enjoyed actually) I think I will do well. Whatever ‘well’ means.

Anyway, bed time for me. I have to be up bright and early for a time-management course. It’s being run by some professional advisers from a large corporation, the name of which escapes me, so I’m hoping that I may be able to learn a thing or two from it!

Under the sea

I think if it was just a case of having to put up with the very loud prostitute outside my window I wouldn’t feel that stressed.

But combine that with having to use Windows XP and it’s enough to make one want to live in a submarine. For about 10 years. Without oxygen.

p.s. Excellent news from Google – Gmail now offers IMAP support! They’re rolling it out over the next few days, just go to your settings and select the IMAP option.


It was about 10am when I heard the crash. Jumping up from my bouncy ball I pulled the net curtain back, and peered out onto the main road. There were a lot of stationary cars, a motorbike on its side, and in their midst, a guy lying on his back.

Seeing this, I dialled 999 and was put through to a man who asked me what the situation was. I briefly explained, asking for both police and an ambulance; at the same time I was trying to clear my head enough so figure out where my jeans and jacket were.

Name, address, phone number, number plates of vehicles involved, description of victim, is he conscious and breathing? Your name? Oh, sorry, I asked you that before.

By this time I was squatting in the road with the biker, David. Beside him, his bike, with the front totally scrunched up, lay bleeding petrol. With me was a man who’s witnessed the accident and parked his van diagonally across the road so as to stop oncoming traffic, and a doctor who’d been passing by (those medical folks really do come out of the woodwork when there’s an accident you know: in the 10 minutes we were waiting for the ambulance, no less that seven people stopped and introduced themselves as either doctors or nurses!).

Dave himself was alright, apart from what seemed to be a broken arm, and shock. The driver whose fault it was was not in such a good space. Pacing up and down the road, repeating “I have to go pick up me nan!” …and sure enough, a few minutes later he made his decision; despite our telling him that he could get in even more trouble for leaving the scene, back into his car he jumped and off he sped. We had his name and number plate though, and when the police finally arrived they seemed to be only too familiar with RTA scenes which were lacking in a culprit.

It was great to see how incidents like that can instantly being people together from very different walks of life. There was Dave, myself, the lady doctor and the van driver, all feeling very team-like. The van driver had also called the police, and seemed to be the only witness remaining. A skinhead, covered in tattoos of the Union Jack and sporting a thick local accent, I thought how much he reminded me of the people who attacked me a couple of years back in the city centre. Yet here he was, kind, concerned, and non-judgemental. I was ashamed by my own stereotyping.

Eventually the emergency services arrived. Once Dave was being treated in the ambulance, and after the Police had taken a look at the mess, we picked his big bike up and wheeled it to the side of the road. I fetched a dustpan and brush, and together we swept up the wingmirrors, speedo and lights. Statements were taken, the traffic moved on.

I was glad that the injuries sustained by Dave were not anything like as serious as those suffered by the chap who was attacked outside our house a week ago. I wasn’t in at the time, so it was only when the police came round yesterday morning that I heard anything about it. Apparently, a single man had been attacked by four other men in the middle of the road. Cars swerving to avoid the fight, the victim ended up with a fractured skull and many other bones broken all the way down to his waist. It sounded like a vicious assault. Despite the fact that it actually took place right outside my window, I still don’t consider where I live to be all that dangerous. Still, I will bear in mind what happened a week ago, and keep my wits about me when making the short walk home from the library late at night.

Anyhow, I’d best get on with the study.

Hello Leopard

The countdown to the launch of Leopard on Apple’s front page currently reads 3 hours 16 minutes 36 seconds. At that time, Apple shops will open their doors after a few hours of secretive preparation, and allow people to get their first glimpse of Leopard.

Unless of course those people happen to already have it installed…

The look on the face of the Apple member of staff who turned my MacBook on to check it before it went in for repair this morning was an absolute classic.

WHERE…?!!” he started out in a rather loud voice, then regaining composure, continuing, “Where did you get this?!” pointing at the freshly installed Leopard Desktop. I thought about telling him that Steve always sends me a copy of a new OS ahead of time, but thought he might punch me, so instead told him the truth: TNT had ignored the request to not deliver it before 6pm. Thus, it had arrived at 8.30am, and I’d installed it immediately (most of the installation actually took place whilst I was on the tram to the Shopping Centre; I was just completing the registration process as they unlocked the front door). The idea was that if I got in installed before I dropped it off, not only would that erase the personal data I hadn’t already manually removed, but also, if I had problems with the install I could get it sorted whilst I was there.

“That’s really not right! It doesn’t go on sale until tonight! We’d get in serious trouble if we even showed it before then, you know what Apple’s like with secrecy …and here’s a customer running it! You know, we weren’t even allowed a preview of it, not even for training. I only saw it myself for the first time an hour ago.

Thinking that he might ‘accidentally’ drop my Mac on the floor in revenge, I asked him about his holiday. He’d mentioned that he’d been away, and was looking mightily tanned. With the initiation of that conversation, he instantly brightened up. “Yeah, Spain, it was so nice…”

Back in good humour, he said they’d get it fixed asap.

So there we have it – my claim to fame is that I was running Leopard 8 hours in advance of its official launch.

(For about 2 minutes. Until I handed over my MacBook for surgery)

Now, I’m using this incredible OS, “Windows XP” I think it’s called. Comes complete with a Large Hammer pre-installed.

Anyway, initial thoughts on Leopard?

Very nice. The changeover was painless, and only took 58 minutes. Whilst the default option upon insertion of the disk is ‘Upgrade’, I went for ‘Erase and Install’ as a simple Upgrade will always leave some cack behind. I was impressed by the way it didn’t even have to restart to format the hard drive – I think it ‘reinitiates’ the HD rather than formatting it as such. So yes, just a couple of clicks, and 58 minutes later it’s up and running.

Having handed it over to the Genius Bar staff, I had a play with the other Macs in store that had just had 10.5 Installed. Unfortunately they were yet to be linked up to a backup drive, so no chance of playing with Time Machine.

Looking at the new Finder, with coverflow and all, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that it is still pants when compared with Pathfinder. It really is a lame program (in the same way that Windows Explorer is), so limited in functionality, despite the enhancements in 10.5.

There are some practical improvements I’m happy about, like the built-in Japanese dictionary and the way that Automator can now record any action. There’s some great new networking options too, although these only really come into their own when you have several macs in the house.

One of the features I especially like is the new Parental Controls – great idea. I guess I’m thinking about that time when I buy my twin baby girls their first Macs at the age of 7 days.

Anyway, I’ll let you know how I get on with it when my Mac comes back shiney and new next week.

Till then, it’s ctrl-alt-delete all the way!

Bye bye Tiger

I had serious doubts last night as to whether I’d be able to attend all my classes today. I don’t like missing lectures, as we have relatively few, so any missed tend to have quite a big impact on one’s overall understanding of what’s going on.

It was after 1am, and I still hadn’t finished my Keynote presentation for the Work and Society module, a presentation that was due to be made 16 hours later.

Then there was the Japanese newspaper article homework – read the two pieces and find the 3 connections. Going to that 10am class would cost me precious preparation time – should I skip it, or attend and just blag it without preparing?

Then at 1pm was our spoken class, which required research into the drugs scene in Japan. But I wouldn’t have time for that – at 2pm was our translation class, and a lack of prep for that would leave me in the poo. It was following that class that I had to give the presentation, then after that and another class on population issues in China, I’d need to do a final bit of prep for my 9000 Miles presentation at 8pm for Photo soc… surely I couldn’t fit all of this in…?

It’s now 10.44pm. I’m back home.

Work and Society presentation prep? Done.
Prep for Newspaper class? Squeezed in 30 minutes before class.
Drugs research? 30 minutes during lunch.
Translation of UN piece? First section done in 45 minutes after the newspaper class.
Work and Soc presentation – done, and done well apparently. Thank you Peter.
Photo soc presentation? Went down well. Got to know folks better after the meeting as we chatted about travel photography.

Just goes to show, when I stop messing around, I can actually get quite a lot done!

I feel very grateful towards everyone who watched / listened to my presentations today, they were very kind audiences.

Now it’s on to my dissertation, construction of a website for CILASS, and a small matter of a 3000 page job application!

My Mac goes in for surgery tomorrow morning. Its perfect timing, as tonight the CD/DVD drive well and truly packed up, refusing to acknowledge that it had a disk in it – it wouldn’t even spit it out!

It’s not just the DVD drive, screen and keyboard surround that’s being replaced – upon its return I shall be formatting the hard drive and installing OS 10.5, a.k.a. Leopard.

Thus, tonight I am backing everything up onto three external drives – one can never be too careful! Tomorrow morning I shall delete all my files, and bid my Mac good luck as it has some of its most prominent components replaced.

I hope I don’t forget anything. It’s the things like transferring calendar events and address book to Google that are fiddly. Backing up my secure password database (I’d be stuffed if I lost that!), Bookmarks from Firefox, preference files, flagged emails and so forth.

I’m looking forward to giving Time Machine a whizz. Oh, and the new dictionary has Japanese as standard.

Meanwhile, I’ve been preparing the Windows laptop I’ve been leant. Ouch. It’s a painful process. Have already had one forced shutdown, when the installation of Skype went awry. Perhaps it’s just me. I never used to find Windows so cumbersome. Perhaps it’s my Mac-tinted spectacles.

So yep, that’s it from me on Tiger. Thank you Tiger. You have been mightily sexy these past 15 months. May you Roar In Peace.