Friday, 20 August 2010

..of cabbages and things..

I find it a peculiar thing just what one can accumulate - physically, mentally, emotionally...

Today has not been an easy day. The laptop at which I currently type is a pleasant thing, 17" screen, good keyboard with numeric pad (tho' CTRL is not always where I expect it); plus it has a collexion of software I like - AVAST for anti-virus, Agnitum Outpost for firewall, VMWare Server for sandboxed development work, plus various other juicy bits of kit. But all is not entirely well.

I like Outpost, I was one of the first adopters, buying my license within a year of the product coming out. I liked the way it presented itself, the way the rules worked, etc. But most of all I liked the way it was extensible - one could write one's own plug-ins for it. Being a coder, this was very appealing. However, I could never work out what I would want a firewall plug-in to do, since everything seemed to do what it needed via the rules. One chap wrote a plug-in which showed network traffic in a task-tray icon, which was very good - but since he'd done it, there was no need for me to. Oh well. After trialling ZoneAlarm, Symantec and a number of others at the time (this was 2001/2), I went with Outpost and have stayed with it for the last 8 or more years.

However, it has an issue with this laptop that I've never been able to get to the bottom of, and it appears neither did Agnitum. I was not the only one to report it - sudden, unexplained BSODs. I use the past tense, since I am using version 4. Agnitum are upto version 7. So, why don't I just upgrade? Well, as previously stated, I use VMWare products, and Outpost blocked all the VM network traffic in version 5 & 6, something reported on both Agnitum & VMWare forae, but never adequate resolved. Version 4 doesn't have this problem.
In the last week I have had upto 3 BSODs a day, and today I have downloaded the latest version having it in mind to try it out. However, I have a lot invested in this harddisk (both in terms of data & installed programs), and don't want issues of having to start over - so I thought I'd get my BART disk (Backup And Recovery Tools to the initiated) with a trusty copy of Drive SnapShot on it, and image the disk for safety, then try out Outpost 7.

I then go to find the disk - ha! Where did I put it? I knew it had come back from where I had been working sometime ago, so it must be in the flat. For reasons best explained elsewhere, for almost 2 years I have been living away from my family, the last 16months in this flat. I have various items with me that I have procured from where my family are, plus items I have gained since being here. I hadn't realised quite how much was here! There is a bedroom and a living area - two rooms.. shouldn't be too hard to find a disk in a clear red jewel case, surely..

And this is where I find what I have accumulated. Since being here I have been given a bookcase & have a set of shelves, plus a desk and some drawers. This furniture houses many things - I have my DSP library (as in Digital Signal Processing, not some documentation of an ego trip) culled from countless websites & PDF printouts; I have home-burned CDs & DVDs; I have books; I have artefacts of my life.

In looking for the disk I have ended up wading through things that need filing... I have found that in the time passed since printing of various bits of DSP papers, my knowledge has accumulated to the point where some things I remember struggling with in the past seem that much more readily accessible... and I have found various bits of art & craft and such that the children have made for me whilst I have been out of the house, even a father's day card that my eldest made for me when she was about 5 (7 years ago).

It's a curious thing that, in a relatively short time, a person can accumulate such a wealth of 'things' that occupy space, mind and soul, and the effects that they can have on one's being. Having to hawk through the stuff was a fairly tedious chore (and not finished - filing still needs to be done...); finding that one has progressed in the field in which one endeavours to create is gratifying; and being presented with emotionally significant artefacts can hamper one's desire and ability to remain focussed...

With this somewhat draining task, along with various other duties in the administration of my welfare today, I haven't done much dev work, which I know I should have done. I'd be interested to here folk's views on the extent to which I should feel guilty about that! [I did some useful work the last 3 days, in my defence]

Did the disk turn up? Well, yes it did.. I had given up & was going to settle down with a beer & watch 'Gonks Go Beat' whilst having some Llama pie I made yesterday, and idly looked in a pile of things on the desk where my DevPC is. Bottom of the pile. I think I saw it wink at me.

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