Technology updates – a bit of a curate’s egg.

The term “curate’s egg” is one I use occasionally but is almost exclusively unknown by American friends and colleagues, who usually stare back at me with bewilderment. It originated from a cartoon in the British satirical publication, Punch way back in 1895 and subsequently became part of the English language, at least for some.

160821_CuratesEgg
Bishop: “I’m afraid you’ve got a bad egg, Mr Jones”;  Curate: “Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!”

[“True Humility” by George du Maurier, originally published in Punch, 9 November 1895.]

Originally it summed up the old British stereotype of “stiff upper lip” and “carry on” attitude, basically suggesting that, no matter how bad a situation, we should make the best of it, and just get on with it.

Sterling stuff, indeed!

These days I think the meaning has been changed slightly to mean a mixture of good and bad, although mainly bad.

Now, I could think of some deep and meaningful situation to apply this to, perhaps stretching it to to the current US Presidential Race, for example, but instead I am going to be very self-indulgent (as if writing a blog isn’t self-indulgent enough!) I will use this phrase to provide a promised update on the two technical activities I blogged about recently, namely the upgrade to my beloved (?) Asus laptop, and secondly, repair of my daughter’s iPhone 5c.

The laptop upgrade to a solid state drive (SSD) was meant to be “just” a case of cloning my original disk and then swapping it, so I duly procured a named SSD: (Crucial 480GB) and swapped out my second HDD so I could do the business using EaseUS Todo Backup software.

The problems started immediately when Windoze7 wouldn’t recognize the SSD so I had to use disk manager to initialize it for it to be usable. Cloning was fairly straightforward but the next snag came when Windoze wouldn’t boot up from the new drive, even when selecting it in BIOS. A few hours of head scratching and reading on the interweb, and not really wanting to play about in the Registry too much, and I ended up downloading Macrium Reflect to see if this could help.

This natty software, like that from EaseUS, is free to use for 30-days, but unlike the former it comes with a much better 350+ page pdf user guide which is very helpful. Cranking up Macrium Reflect for the first time I was prompted to create a Windows PE bootable rescue disk (or USB in my case as I have no drives!). Rebooting from this USB and I only had to follow a few prompts on the menus to get my newly minted SSD recognised as a bootable drive.

Rebooting again, with fingers crossed and success, my old Asus was flying again!

Now to the iPhone 5c story. An investment of $10 plus shipping for a new battery and $5 for the tool set needed (a tiny screwdriver set, including the infamous “pentalobe” required (designed) by Apple, plastic pry bars and a suction cup) and I was ready to go.

Opening the case was easy but why on earth (yes, I think you can probably guess why) did Apple have to stick the battery to the case with such strong adhesive? After very carefully prodding and pulling I managed to release the old battery and replace with the new one. Reattaching everything I eagerly plugged it into the charger. Nothing. Except for a low hum from the phone there was no sign of life. No combination button presses to reset it! So, ok the “genius” in the store was right after all – it’s broken! It still irks me though that they made no effort to open up the phone and even take a look at it, leaving me to do that. I guess that is genius (or at least cost-effective) customer service from their perspective.

So, all in all a bit of a curate’s egg for my weekend of technology. Good in part!

As a final piece to this story, when Punch Magazine closed in 1992, after 151 years, they re-published their famous cartoon in their final edition. This time they revised the caption to reflect how much modern society had changed over the century between publication:

160821_CuratesEgg

Curate: “This f***ing egg’s off!”

So much for progress?

~Richard

Will we all wake up as “April Fish?”

Today is the first of April, traditionally a time when we are allowed to play jokes on people and generally test their gullibility.  When I was child we used to think this was great fun and even used to buy tricks from the joke store sometimes to use. It wasn’t always a great success for the prankster though and I do recall overstepping the mark by embedding some sort of tiny combustible device in one of my father’s cigarettes designed to make it sputter, and him not being best pleased with the outcome.

April Fools’ Day (or All Fools’ Day) has a mysterious origin, although it has been celebrated for centuries as some form of collective “release” as Spring opens up.

One line of speculation is that this tradition of fooling one’s friends seems to originate in 1582 when Catholic France switched from the old Julian calendar to the modern (and more accurate) Gregorian calendar, in accordance with the papal bull Inter gravissimas. This involved a reset of the days to catch up but also changed the way that the new year was celebrated, being moved to January 1st from the older “start of Spring” on April 1st. Back in those pre-internet (or electricity, or any other form of rapid non-word of mouth communication) there were delays in this message being spread across the nation and so, the story goes, some people maintained “the old ways” and were subsequently rewarded by their more enlightened friends by having fun poked at them, having paper fish attached to their backs and being called April fish (“poisson d’Avril”).

Others speculate that April Fool’s activities are tied to the Roman Spring festival of Hilaria (from the same root as the term hilarious), which legitimized a sort of “anything goes” celebration for a day, including dressing up in masks, playing tricks and, by the sound of it, having a right raucous time with little to no consequences to one’s actions!

Now, all this being said, I cannot but think with recent events playing out in the US media over the last few months, that we must be coming to a head with one of the most prolonged running jokes of all time: the Donald as a serious contender to be president for the United States of America.

Surely today will be the day when he opens a press conference by shouting “April Fools!” in his inimitable manner?

~Richard

160401_AprilFool
Restored and modified illustration from Puck magazine, 1912

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