David's diary: August 1996
Good news and bad lately, but hey what's new?!
I've accepted the job at the Open University, so hope to be starting there as from 2 September. For less regular readers, this job is to entail the specification, design and coding of all kinds of software applications to support the university's courses. They are moving over to multimedia and internet based education increasingly, and have made a heavy investment, including running this department called the 'Centre for Educational Software' for three years with a couple of dozen full-time staff. I'll be earning about 17500 pounds a year, which is highly respectable, and I think I've got somewhere sorted out to live, since I'm going to be moving to Milton Keynes.
The bad news is of course on the car front. It seems that Direct Line are going to write it off. I can't say I'm over-sorry about it, especially if their concerns about hidden damage are justified, but it's going to be yet more hassle shopping around for a replacement, especially when it's such a short time before I am due to move - plus of course the ever-present worry as to quite how much they will pay out; recall that I paid 2800 pounds for it, had owned it only two weeks and driven less than 100 miles - that should act in my favour, but insurance companies are of course in the business of minimising their payouts...
Still no news on an Ireland trip aftermath web URL, and in any case we've still got to get our pictures back, and then get selected ones scanned. The Obscure Orchard talker has moved to a new machine and it is likely that the Ireland web page will appear on there, seeing as most of the participants were Orchard members, but web support for the talker has still to be finalised.
In the meantime though, for those wishing to visit the best talker in the land, telnet to:
Prepare to get hooked! Nice domain name, eh? It's got a certain ring to it! If no-one else is on, and you'd like a permanent account, send a suitably-pleading e-mail to email@example.com with your first and second choice user-names, and you will receive a temporary password in due course.
Printers, printers, printers.... Pains in the backside really. First of all, it was found we had probably the only Apple LaserWriter model which wasn't Postscript compatible. Net result? It wouldn't work with Windows even when we'd spent about the last fortnight trying to track down the appropriate connecting cable for the idiosyncratic Apple serial port.
So we ordered a nice little Canon laser printer which arrived today. It's one of those GDI printers which have next to nothing to their hardware, but use Windows itself to render the printed bitmap images. Amazingly it all worked first time, especially amazing since it seemed to show that my PC really does have a bi-directional parallel port, despite everything the manual claims to the contrary. 300dpi with resolution enhancement and PCL emulation for about 250 quid is not bad, comparing quite favourably to what I paid for my little BJ10 inkjet a few years back.
Then this afternoon, strange things started happening. Frances wanted to print a letter, but it came out with a black streak down one side. She tried again and the streak just got wider... We rang Canon technical support, and they said they'd send an engineer out. We said it was a bit too urgent for that solution, and suggested there must be something easier. We eventually got passed to someone who asked if it was near a window, to which the answer was yes. Would you believe it, laser printers are allergic to sunlight, even if it doesn't get them hot. Just having sunlight falling on the printer is enough to cause these problems. Very strange though that there was no mention of this in the troubleshooting section of the manual, given that I would imagine that is it a very common, and generally easily rectified, problem. It makes sense in a way that sunlight should do this, since the printing process uses light to remove the static charge on the drum - though one would expect fade-out to white in that case rather than black streaking, though maybe it's something to do with ambient radiation reducing the effectivity of the laser at removing the charge from the drum. Anyway, moving it to a lower shelf on the desk solved the problem instantaneously. Ho-hum.
My leaving date has been agreed as the 23 August, just before bank-holiday weekend, though I'm probably not going to move until Monday or Tuesday the following week, and might not go direct to Milton Keynes anyway. I'm going to up Milton Keynes this weekend though to check out the flat I've been offered a room in, and will hopefully get to see my sister on the way, who is spending a couple of days at my parents' house in Prestwood - from where my car got nicked a couple of weeks ago, still unresolved from the insurance point of view, by the way.
Car news is not encouraging. Direct Line are trying to offer me ukp2200 to replace my Nova. I bought it for ukp2800, and have not seen another car like it going for less than ukp3000 from a reputable dealer. Frankly, Direct Line, and cars in general, are hacking me right off, though I need one now more than ever. I have my mum's car for the time being, but it's hardly a satisfactory arrangement, and she obviously wants it back a.s.a.p. I have a fax ready to go to Ian Chippendale, their MD (at the recommendation of a friend who works for them!) which makes things clear how I feel, and what I want, in no uncertain terms.
Other than that, nothing's really happened. I went up to see the room in the flay where I hope to be moving in week or so's time for the new job. It's not bad at all, and I think I'll get on well with the people there at the moment. How long term it would be I am not quite sure, though if nothing else it will be a useful base from where to look at other places, and it took no effort whatesoever to find this one, since it's a friend who's offering it.
Just a quickie, until I discover how to paste files using Linux (yes I know I could use OpenWindows, but it has a tendency to hang a lot, I find...)
I've moved in at my new flat in Milton Keynes, and am starting work with the Open University on Monday. Miltons Keynes seems not bad, though lacks a certain charm, it has to be admitted.
Anyway more when I know it ...
P.S. Ah yes, I'm buying my mum's Metro for the time being. Not ideal, but it will get me to and from work for as long as it takes me to find something better.