Archive for the ‘Computers & Internet’ Category

(In the words of the Faith No More song.)

The last few weeks I’ve been working full time-ish on my RPG system. Up until this week, anyway. Over the past couple of weeks, my laptop had been getting more and more annoying in the mornings. I would put on the previous day’s edition of PM (or The Week in Westminster on Mondays) and then prepare breakfast. Then, when I came back to check e-mails and stuff, the thing had pretty much frozen. The radio programme still played, windows would open and close, but nothing would load. The only solution short of waiting an indefinitely long time seemed to be to switch it off and on again (the age-old solution to most computer problems).

It did it again on Monday, and I got angry and delivered a short, sharp tap to the machine. Not a huge blow, but when I rebooted Windows wouldn’t start. And when I got my installation CD out to repair or reinstall, it didn’t go well, either.

It was a pretty stupid thing for me to do. Not just because of the results or potential results, but because of the lack of results. I was treating my computer like a sensible being (ie, one that is able to sense), one that would modify its behaviour in response to physical chastisement. But then again, the cause was also in large part because of a computer’s inscrutability, the lack of information or clue as to why machine froze like that. It wasn’t too long ago that I reformatted and reinstalled the operating system to stop such lack of performance.

Computers are pretty complicated devices, but it’s easy to take them and their unfailing efficacy for granted. Browsing the internet, running applications is what I have a computer for – why can’t it do what it’s supposed to? Who would drive a car if it crashed as often as a computer?

Another thing that makes me feel vaguely stupid and yet also vaguely proud of the incident is the sense that my computer deserved what it got.

Anyway, it all worked out fairly well in the end. I took my computer to Yongsan, to the large building behind the station but connected to it by a raised tunnel thingy, where the Fujitsu Service Centre is. I’d been there not too long ago to have the DVD-R drive replaced. This time they replaced the 110 GB hard drive with a 300 GB one for ₩110,000 (about £60) – and gave me the old one in a little plastic wallet. I got the memory upgraded from 1 GB to 2, from one of the many computer stalls/shops in the main I’Park mall while I was there.

Then over the next couple of days, I had the pleasure of downloading and installing all the main applications that I use, as well as copying over all of my information – which I’d previously backed up. The most tedious part of this was waiting for the Windows Update updates to update before I could install Vistalizator to change the language of my Korean Vista Home Premium to English. My suite of programs include OpenOffice.org, Google Chrome, Paint.net, Skype and μTorrent. A couple of changes I made to my line-up were exchanging AVG Anti-Virus and Zone Alarm for Comodo Internet Security and installing Synaptics Gesture Suite, which allows Mac-style two-finger scrolling and better-than-Mac-style spiral scrolling.

Things are running pretty smoothly for the time being. We’ll see how long it lasts before the digital red mist descends once more.

Read Full Post »

Read Full Post »

Today I didn’t do as much writing as I would have liked at lunchtime – a measly 127 words (as opposed to over 500 words on Monday and Tuesday). But I have been setting up various accounts with my name on them – Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, this blog. Actually, this blog was set up a while ago, but now I might just get into the habit of using it.

Read Full Post »

Skimming Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist today, I found some information on R Scott Bakker’s next book, The White-Luck Warrior, which I eagerly await. Said information was in a post on the author’s own WordPress blog, Three Pound Brain (beloved of zombies everywhere). His post concludes with a list of principles he regards as self-evident, and which resonate strongly with my own opinions. Bakker’s ‘No-Dogma Dogma‘ is:

1) Not all claims are equal.

2) The world is ambiguous because it is supercomplex.

3) Humans are cognitive egoists. We are hardwired to unconsciously game ambiguities to our own advantage – to make scripture out of habit and self-interest.

4) Humans are theoretical morons. We are hardwired for groundless belief in invisible things.

5) The feeling of certainty is a bloody pathological liar.

6) Science is a social cognitive prosthetic, an institution that, when functioning properly, lets us see past our manifold cognitive shortcomings, and produce theoretical knowledge.

7) Contemporary culture, by and large, is bent on concealing the fact of 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Read Full Post »

I logged in to Infinite Probability a few minutes ago to add another word to my Lexicon (clochard; see below) and to mention the World Names Profiler (also see below … slightly less below … in fact, above the previous below … I’d continue describing the post’s location, but it’s beneath me). When I accessed my blog’s dashboard, I noticed that the number of posts was up to exactly one thousand. It only took four years.

Anyway, it means that this post is my 1,003rd. Time for a general update.

Habiba’s father is still in hospital, doing a little better. The most recent worry was his having a bout of arrhythmia. He was also denied a place at their first choice rehabilitation centre – he will apparently need too much medical care, and they’re not set up to provide it. That’s a disappointment, of course, but, in a way, it’s also a sign of his progress. He’s now recovered sufficiently that he can be seriously considered for rehabilitation. Habiba’s mum now needs to find another place to apply to; there are a number to choose from in the general area (New York State/New England). He’s also able to communicate now. His first words, I understand, were about his boat.

I’m not doing too badly at work. Over the past few weeks I’ve redesigned the homework I give to the students so that I have less work to do preparing for the higher level classes. For those, I now let the students do the bulk of the vocabulary work – they have to find their own definitions, basically. Strangely, since I’ve been back in Korea, I’ve had very little proofreading to do. Which is nice. I hate it.

I started writing a new short story yesterday. It’s going pretty well so far – I have over a thousand words down, I’m enjoying writing in the narrator’s voice, I have a clear idea of where the story is going. It’s a first person, present tense narrative, neither of which techniques I use very often. It’s also intended to be more philosophical in tone, something else I don’t go in for much. This philosophicality was inspired by my current reading material, Immortality by Milan Kundera, which I’m enjoying.

Lastly, I’ll briefly mention that it’s Habiba’s birthday in just over a week. Last weekend (speak it quietly, take care she’s not around to overhear) I bought her a couple of presents – of the useful and thoughtful variety. This weekend I need to work on the, um, presentation of said presents. We’re going away the following weekend, so there’ll be no time then for such preparation. Not much time, either, for a party.

That’s all from me, for now.

Read Full Post »

I kind of got married on Saturday.

But I should emphasise the ‘kind of’ part of that statement. Habiba and I and a couple of friends went to see a half-price performance of Nanta (half-price because of a special ‘brunch’ event that cost half the usual 60,000 if you came in a group including at least one foreigner and one Korean). Nanta is a very successful Korean show, vaguely along the lines of Stomp or the Blue Man Group, which consists of a combination of drumming, dance, comedy and audience participation.

The stage is designed to be a kitchen, and the story line (expressed here in knowingly cute Konglish) involves four cooks – the master chef, the ‘sexy guy’, the ‘female’ (seriously – that’s how the character was described on photos in the lobby) and the owner’s nephew – having to prepare a wedding feast for ‘seex-o’-cla”.

The whole thing was hugely entertaining – the main four actors are very fit, very agile and very funny. There was lots of drumming with improvised drums and sticks – one memorable sequence involved sometimes-synchronised, sometimes-competitive drumming with pairs of big knives on chopping boards. The final set piece had the actors pounding away thunderously on large food drums.

The humour was very Korean – quite broad, lots of mugging, lots of slapstick, lots of caricaturish character interaction, a small dose of bum-related jokes (one character gets a brush handle accidentally shoved up his arse). It sounds annoying, but the actors’ charisma and the positive atmosphere in the theatre made it all work, and work well.

At one point, the characters were tasting a soup they had made, but the cooks couldn’t agree with the owner, so they brought a couple of people down on to the stage – one of those people was me. I was audience participated. I was quickly dressed in a traditional Korean hat and coat-thing. A young woman had been brought down from the other side of the audience and similarly attired. We had to taste a thick, creamy soup. The characters soon got distracted by a fly buzzing loudly around the kitchen. As they tried to deal with it they kept motioning for us to continue tasting the soup.

Then the fly landed on my hat. There was a moment where everyone froze, then crept towards me. They bonked me on the head. Then they hypnotised me. Then we all pronounced judgment on the soup. And the other audience victim and I had to link arms while the ‘Wedding March’ played and rice rained down. And that’s how I got married.

Later in the evening we spent a few hours playing Monopoly (finally – it’s the first time I’ve used my Monopoly set).

The following day was Habiba and my first anniversary. One year since our first real date, going to watch Burn After Reading up in Nowon. We slept in somewhat, then exchanged gifts. She made me a wonderful poster and card set, the former showing the stages of a seed sprouting, becoming a sapling and finally a strong tree; the card compares our love to that process. The poster is very impressive – all the images are cut from paper and the tree is home to a few golden birds.

I gave Habiba a box set of Meerkat Manor, which I’d wrapped up and decorated with a few paper flowers and leaves. We’ve been watching a lot of meerkat antics in the last few days. In the evening on Sunday, I took Habiba to a ‘Korean traditional vegetable restaurant’ called Pulhyangi. It was a very nice place and our meal consisted of lots of tiny dishes served almost constantly. Good food was eaten.

Today, I took my passport to Immigration and applied for an Alien Registration Card, as, just like Quentin Crisp, I’m now a legal alien (only not in New York). I should get it and my passport back on the 12th of April. Not quite all the way there, yet, but I’m close to being totally settled.

The other anniversary of note is this very blog’s fourth birthday. Yes, I started my blog out of sheer boredom four years ago today at my intensely crappy temp job in the Facilities Office of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Page Street in London.

Here’s to many more years of Sean and Habiba – and writing about it.

Read Full Post »

Or, in English, Sean’s Korean Diary, which is the name of a new blog I recently set up. I haven’t posted on it much – nor have I worked all that hard on learning Korean, but it’s better than nothing. About a year ago I added a Korean Vocabulary page to this blog, but then deleted it as I hadn’t used it. Well, that lexicon now has a home and a little substance.

My next task, assigned by my language exchange partner, Ji-hyeon, is to write some instructions for something. I am considering writing how to make a cup of tea (what else, really?), but I can see myself relying almost entirely on Google Translate. My next language exchange session is in a couple of weeks – plenty of time to forget everything I learnt last week.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »