file 4 - Journal (01-03/06/22)
1st June 2022
I'm sat outside again (I typed up file 1 and 2 outside yesterday). The sun is nice and warm, the sheep are out in the field opposite (sometimes they can be seen on the Webcam).

It's 2pm. It feels like a slow day where I'm not getting anything done but I've just been out on my bike for about an hour - I did around 300 miles last month, and as usual, I 'intend' on increasing this when there is a fresh new month at hand (that intent generally dwindles). I also spent (probably) a few hours working on my AlphaSmart Journal webpages, getting the design and layout ready so I can easily drop these files into it.

At first I had thought I could simply "IFRAME" to the text files. The first problem I encountered with this was that the text wasn't appearing 'word-wrapped'. After some 'Googling' I found a neat and elegant solution in the form of some 'CSS' code to put at the top of the parent page that instructed any iframes to have word-wrap enabled.

That solved that problem, and I liked that the file appeared in its text format but then I realised I wanted the ability to include relevant references and links, so to achieve this I started to have two parts to each page, one with the text file and one, more feature-rich, with all this other stuff. But that, I quickly realised was making the whole thing too complicated and not very elegant.

My solution has been to put the text (which I can load from the AlphaSmart) into a ready-prepared webpage/HTML file which has formatting to mimic the style achieved with the raw txt file, i.e. whatever font it is that Windows Notepad uses by default. With this solution I can add hyperlinks etc. and it all looks how I want... it's somewhat a shame that the word-wrap solution I figured out is no longer necessary, but it was a nice little achievement.

I was surprised yesterday when I transferred in my first two files (1 and 2) that they took as long as they did; a good 30 seconds for the first one, and more for the second. I had seen that there was mention in the user manual (which I had worked my way through yesterday) of how to change the transfer speed, so I assumed the AlphaSmart was set at a default speed and that there was a higher one. I was wrong though; it was already at its top speed. Oh well. The inconvenience is that you can't do anything else with the computer while it's transferring the text in, because it's as if you are typing it in - if you suddenly had the thought to check your email, or look something up, clicking away from whatever document the AlphaSmart is "typing" into, would obviously bugger things up. That I could have up to eight files to transfer in, say once a week as I had previously intended, means I might have to develop some sort of routine where I set the thing running for each file in turn and do something (none computer related) while things are busy for that minute or so... and then repeat that for each of the files. I could do this on the computer that is running the Webcam as that is in my kitchen and I can be making a cup of coffee, washing or tidying up between file transfers. This is providing the computer doesn't experience any momentary lag or freeze from being busy while it does its webcam stuff as the text transfer from the AlphaSmart has no error-checking.

What am I to do about continuing a file another day? Like if I keep appending to a Journal file each day after I've already transferred in the first part? Given that the AlphaSmart takes its time to transfer the text in, it seems like a waste of time to re-transfer in text that's already been transferred in. I don't recall there being an option to transfer text in from a particular line, I think it just runs from the start to finish of the file.

If this being the case it makes sense, assuming I get into the routine of weekly updates, to then erase the file contents after each transfer.

I don't want to get into a muddle with which file is up-to-date online; it therefore makes sense to erase it from the AlphaSmart once it has been transferred. However, considering I'm realistically unlikely to have the need to have 8 files on the go, this means some of the file spaces will go unused; so with this in mind I would consider cycling through each file space in turn. For example, I presently have book notes that I typed up yesterday in file 2, and these have been transferred, so now I should continue those notes, not at the end of that file because that would mean re-transferring what has already been published online, but skip to the next vacant file, presently file 5. I could then provide a helpful link between the live versions. A foreseeable issue is that the 'current' versions of the files are given the file name 1.htm, whereas once they are superceeded they are renamed so that the latest version can take its place (this would thus break those hyperlinks).

I still keep thinking I need to do CTRL+S!

Beyond these complications, I think the "misc." section (which I created because I foresaw a separate page might be needed for some as yet unseen circumstance) will be well utilised as a general Index to provide clear lists of what files there are (or rather topics) (since particular topics in a numbered/dated file are just going to get lost within the depths of each 'file' section. An overall Index would be useful.
The sheep in the field are having a bleeting moment; there is one particular lamb that shouts all day and night; there was a similar one last year. I learned recently, from talking to a farmer about his shouty cow, that it's typically when they "fail to wean properly". The sheep last year, I noticed, was particularly attached to one of the farmers when he turned up and I suspected it was hand-reared for a while. It gradually grew out of this but it took a long time - I miss that sheep and I will miss this one too; it's curious how the quirky nature of one makes it more 'special' and thus memorable than any of the others that we perecive no "character" of. The same can be observed with humans; take a charasmatic person on Youtube; they gain the followers and if something occurs in their life then people jump on board with, say, sympathy and support. But if something similar happens to "a nobody" no body knows and no body cares. People will talk as if the "somebody" is (as they do with celebrities) "such a nice person" even though they really know nothing about them as a person - and when a person becomes somewhat famous, they really can't give too much of too-hoots about the many nobodies that hold them in such high regard. Aren't we call equal on this planet? No, but shouldn't we be? Clearly things don't work this way!
My cat has just arrived and as suspected I now cannot type with him (and the AlphaSmart) on my lap. In trying to do so I have discovered a fault with my AlphaSmart (no not that it's not Cat-compatible, but) that if I hold it by its left side and type with my right hand, this puts a slight twist in the casing and causes it to go off.

[I purposely twist the device a few times, confirming the issue... and then it stops doing it.]
Thursday 2nd June:
I suppose I could call this a test; I'm typing in bed, by torch light. I don't consider this a good idea; I'm not sat right and my wrists are awkwardly positioned and I'm prone to carpel-tunnel, although I generally avoid it (like making my eyes bad) by not doing anything silly for a prolonged period of time.

But, and this is further justification, I ran out of time today and I didn't want to neglect typing here. It's 11pm. I've been getting to bed later and later lately; this all began following my walking/camping trip, where, somewhat ironically I was in my tent and generally asleep by 8-9pm and awake by 5-6am, and away walking again with an hour of that.

Once home that all changed and I immediately noticed how "un-refreshed" I felt by comparison with my week of backpacking; was I alergic to my bedroom and/or bed? I'm prone to such things, being asthmatic. I've considered dust mites before, and while I'm not very good at sticking to such good things, I try and wash my bedding and hoover my bedroom regularly, but it doesn't seem to help (there can be an issue with the actual fibres of the bedding, detergents that are used to wash them, and the possibility that a vacuum cleaner stirrs up/chucks out fine particulates invisible to the eye and conscious senses). Perhaps being in a tent, being the more natural thing to do than be confined to a stuffy room; although I keep my window open a little at night and even my bedroom door open some nights. While the tent and being outdoors throughout the night, even if I am prone to getting chilly (but I have proven that I can tollerate that by camping outside for most nights of the summer months before now), I, alas, find the ground too uncomfortable for my scrawny frame.

So I've not been sleeping the same way as I was before my trip, i.e. getting to bed "on time" and waking up with a full day ahead of me. No, it has turned into 10pm, 11pm...12... and I think 1am one night, and this is not like me. The weird thing is I don't feel all that bad about myself for doing it, whereas before I liked getting to bed at 8pm with the sun setting, and rising shortly after sunrise.

Lately I've either been getting stuff done at my website (like editing my Travels pages and the photographs for that - which is the good part), or (and this is the bad part) playing Solitaire. I weirdly got into it shortly after returning from my trip, and find it quite addictive; like I can't tell myself "Just one game and then it's lights out for you young man." No, I just play until my eyes fail me, or "Just one more game... oh, another... let me win one... okay, another." Addictions, such as I am prone to in this manner, are stupidly stupid.

I've not only being playing the Solitaire on laptops (yes multiple onece becuase I turn my power off at night so I rely on their battery powers and some don't last that long (they are laptops I fixe up and have for sale on ebay, so it's not like I've hoarded them...) I've also been playing Solitaire on an old "Compaq iPaq". You'll find it in my Projets page; I replaced the battery in it - I need to update that page and I also need to install the software for the iPaq and investigate it some more (beyond Soliatire). It's a fun little gadget.

I have lot of other things to tinker with, things I have hoarded, but for tinkering (and generally, resale) purposes.

I try and list these projects on my Website and develop them, but a lot of it is just hoarding - that is something else that has been getting away from me following the trip. It happened also about a year ago; it was a weird phase that I couldn't pinpoint a trigger of, this time it just followed my trip - hoarding is generally a "making up for something", but I'm not entirely sure what that is, other than wanting things to do. I'm not someone that hoards and seemingly doesn't know they do it, although how it runs away from me is weird and shocking. I kind of let it happen because I enjoy it, like the accumulation of stuff coming through the post for me to tinker with - that's how it has been this time. I actually laughed when I realied it was like many a childhood Christmas that I used to have where we would each get a sack and stocking full of presents and, after waking up stupidly early, we would set about unwrapping everything (although I remember actually having some self-restraint and going through this methodically and enjoying each thing), but generally out bedrooms would turn into chaos with unwrapped presents, parts of games and their instructions and packaging being scattered about (and mislaid). I would like to add that we were far from being a well-off family; money was always tight, but out mum made sure we got lots of "stuff" for Christmas, and a lot of the time it was just that, stuff - some later years of home life I got quite annoyed when I saw what crap I was being landed with, just tat really, to make up the presents (and I don't mean to sound ungrateful to my mum for saying that, but there was truth in that observation). I think hoarding is prone to coming about when one experiences a lacking, it could be that memory from childhood of not having enough, always wanting, or making up for a lack of something in other areas; love and deep connection, for example.

Who knows, all I know is I inadvertedly re-created my childhood Christmas recenlty by buying stuff off ebay, computer tinkering projects; think I got cheap that I see value in (that's hoarder-speak right there, I know!)

My mum is a hoarder too; perhaps it's a trait I learned from her.

So all of this stuff... I want to do things with it all; it might be a computer to build, a laptop to fix, or a gadget to try.

In additon to documenting them on my Projects page, because I like to properly enjoy the tinkering process by immersing myself in the things like that, I can imagine having some form of Youtube channel that follows me on this journey, but I am doubtful of that panning out.

I have tried to Youbtube such things like that before; I did a video about my attemts to get video off an old camcorder which seemed to work quite well, but further attempts failed to materialise; I vaguelly recall recording some footage but things quickly lost momentum - perhaps I got only so far with a problem before hitting a snag or hurdle, such as needing to order a part. Stopping and starting a project or putting things on hold for a week or two (or more) seems to stifle the flow of things, and when some video footage or photos have been taken, when you return to them to try and contine, things aren't the same; the spark is gone.

That or the recorded footage takes up disk space while I procrastinate about the project and I begrudge it doing so.

How to rectify these issues? I'm trying to think of ways I could 'film' these tinkerings in the way they develop and progress (I mean actually in their haphazard way), whist producing a video that is somewhat conside, and actually watchable. I know I get annoyed with a video that just meanders on, and especially ones that drag on for too long or ones that take you down deadends before showing you the sollution they came to. I'm talking about tech channels, the kind where they tinker with tech, like the popular LGR, or 8-bit guy. These people do great at talking you through whatever thing the video is about - I feel I actually lack that charisma, but in addition to this I lack the ability to even talk, let alone clearly to an audience (even if it's only an imaginary one when you haven't yet garnered one). I realise this ability to talk, or record to camera what you are doing, is a skill that can be learned and developed and that actually taking the plunge and doing it will lead to one getting better at it, but when you feel so bad and/or awkward at doing something, it's a challenge to even give it a try.

It's not as if I haven't done it before, as said, there was that camcorder video, and there have been some othes, such as ones where I was creating a model railway, but alas that project stagnated and died a death, and the room it was/is in, got taken over by my hoard...

As an additional point of procrastination, I'm trying to get my hands on another camcorder to film on; I have used a variety of cameras up until now; there is my webcam, but that's kind of set up in place as the Webcam (it's hogging my tripod too), there is my actual camera that can record at 1080p but it has an awkward auto focus this and the build-in mic isn't very good (and it doesn't have an input for an external one), and I have a phone that can record at 1080 that I bought with vlogging in mind, but it has a few issues... namely battery (which I think is the cause of it just going off), there is a mic issue with that too (regardless of whether I used the built in one or attach one)... perhaps I should just get on and use it (at least for the time being) as intended, as it's just lying around doing nothing - I should just make do with it and understand and work around its issues.

Okay, it's coming up to an hour now. I need to think about this videoing idea some more, and give my wrists a rest from typing awkwardly on this thing (the keys still aren't all pressing smoothly...)
Friday 3rd June
As a continuation of my thoughts about "Youtubing" (it's the following morning btw and I've been dreaming about computer parts...) I sometimes consider the mental state of some of the Youtube "fixers" I watch. Some of them clearly, or obviously have a lot of stuff, but you just don't necessarily see it on screen. I wonder what the rest of their house is like, what their home is like, what their partner of wife has to deal with! I also think about the psychology behind the way they talk to camera; there is one particular fixer in mind (not of computers - I watch people fixing cars too) who can tinker, to camera, for up to an hour, and I've come to realise he says "we" alot. Obviously it could me we as me "me and you lot watching" but then it would be like he is imaging that all these people sat watching him are providing life input/feedback, when they're not, or he is just talking to himself, to camera. Not that that's a bad thing becuase he's getting stuff done, but when I began to notice it it made me cringe; like, the the ego of these people who have thousands of people taking something apart, or unboxing stuff, and just talking about... stuff. So in me myself making videos, I think about what they show, or might reveal about me, like in a self-conscious kind of way, which I realise is one of the things holding me back from making actual videos.

Further more, I think of the benefits to any viewers. What if I have some sort of "I'm an addict and a hoarder and I must make videos" yet all of that is a waste of time, yet in making those videos and leading people to sit and watch them, rather than getting on with their own stuff, I'm contributing to or encouraging unhealthy lives. I also think about the unhealthy aspects of Youtube, or the things I don't like or agree with (like their ability to and stance on silencing people or pushing an agenda or things through their algorithms; by being on the platform, and certainly by contributing to it, I am (perhaps it might be considered, inadvertedly) contributing to those things. I also have issues with some certain people already knowing my Youtube channel and me not wanting to show a certain side to me... I'd prefer to be somewhat anonymous and as such consider either creating a fresh new Channel or using another platform... but getting the ball rolling on these other channels/platforms is an issue of itself.

Anyway, I have sweet tea to drink (I accidentally put some sugar in it, instead of putting already sweetened coffee whitener in it, because I was out of actual milk and reached for the sugar instead of the whitener..." It's only 8am... and I hadn't had my tea yet!
Some hours later...
In writing about filling up the memory on this AlphaSmart 3000, I recall how I filled up the memory on my personal organiser. It must have been the mid-to-late 90s and these digital personal organisers we attractive to me; the Argos catalogs had whole sections devoted to them. And one birthday or Christmas I received one; it must have been one I specifically requested as I would have been comparing the specs in the catalogue for months prior, except I ended up getting a Radio Shack one, which likely came from our local Tandy shop, rather than argos. It was a 128K model, which was pretty respectable. If I recall correctly it cost a whopping 50 as that was my typical "main present allowance".

I proudly added contacts to the thing (it had two address books), various notes, and scheduled things too. And this is how I filled it...

Every week my mum would buy a copy of the Radio Times (TV guide) and as soon as it arrived I would take my time to work through it, keying in what I wanted to watch, what channel it was on, and at what time, being sure to avoid conflicts. This activity I must have adopted from my grandparents who I learned, when I got to stay with them for a week or so one summer) would work their way through their TV guide highlighting what each of them wanted to watch; I didn't have my own TV guide, I had to share the one my mum got for all of us, so that is why I used my personal organiser for this - it avoided me having to go downstairs each time so see what was going to be on TV, it avoided me missing something, or avoided me wanted to look at the guide when one of my siblings was hogging it. And this is how I filled my personal organiser; I never deleted a TV guide entry, I kept on adding them each week. It likely took me over a year, and weirdly, when it was full, I couldn't bring myself to erase it; there was probably the option to clear the whole Schedule section, or even reset the device, but this (and especially the latter) would have meants losing all the other stuff I had stored in the thing (like people's birthdays).

I don't recall what I did after that; perhaps I'd now reached the point in my life where I had a computer with a TV card and thus access to Teletext which included a TV guide.

I remember when the batteries went in my personal organiser; I think it had started to worn me, and it took 2 x CR2032, or similar, or maybe even three, and you could replace them one at at time without losing the data if you were quick enough, but perhaps by now I was hardly using the device and couldn't justify spending money on batteries for it.

Some time later (or maybe around this time), I took the thing apart, as I often did with things that were broken or of no use to me otherwise, and either couldn't get it back together and working again (even with batteries), or I broke it or lost parts in the process - I'm not sure how since they are pretty simple things; little different to a calculator.

It seems odd to me now that I was able to fill the 128K with just TV guide data, perhaps the thing didn't store things all that efficiently, such as if it incuded a lot of eroneous data with each field. It's not like I'd typed an essay on it.

Speaking of which, I have "1 page" of remaining space left in this (12.5 page) file.
I was given two iPads recently, but sadly, although somewhat expected, they are Activation Locked. I thought that was a bust until I followed all of the options from Apple and found myself able to open a request with them; the form asked to a proof of purchase receipt and identifying codes from the ipad in question, so I provided those things and waited for a response. A few days later and a response was received... Apple, weirdly stated that MY receipt didn't match their system... it appeared they were assuming I was the original owner when I thought the point was that I could be a device's new owner and I just needed to prove this. So I responded with this poing, but the form required I provide an attachment before I could click send, so I attached the receipt again. Let's see what transpires.
I dismantled a DVD drive today and got it working, somewhat.

I recently obtained a somewhat old, but sleek-looking Dell. It originally had Vista Ultimate installed on it so I proceeded to reinstall it, except the DVD drive wouldn't read the disk, or any disk. I have contacted the seller and they have agreed to refund me an amount "for the inconvenience/to put towards a replacement drive". That has yet to materialise so I set about swapping the DVD drive from a dead laptop. (Oh, it's that kind of drive in the Dell btw.)

I'd got as far swapping the mounting brackets over until I realised the drive in the dell was and IDE drive, it just had a SATA adapter inbetween like some sort of hybrid. So that put the kybosh on using the laptop drive. I swapped the bracket back.

I went on ebay and looked up the model number of the faulty drive and found various used replacements for as little as 4. "Good to know." I thought "But for now, maybe I can fix this drive..."

So I set about dismantling the drive enough to get access to the mechanism. I observed it trying to work and considered it migh just need lubricating, so I tried that and retested it. It was still struggling but would eventually start reading the disk. I got Vista installed.

I also had the challenge of locating display drivers. The computer had included a graphics card, but it had that weird non-HDMI socket which I don't have an adapter for, but it had onboard graphics so I'd removed the graphics card so I could use the VGA socket there.

Dell's website came up in the search results and appeared to be doing a good job of providing me with the drivers I needed, but only for the graphics card the system was originally installed with, no where was there the driver for the onboard graphics. That took some more searching until I found that elsewhere. There is still a mystery device without a driver, but otherwise it is back up and running, and now awaits a use.

FILE FULL! Continued on File 5!!!!!!!!!
End of document.
Last updated: 2022-06-03
(P.S. I think this date formatting makes more sense than 01/06/22 as I use the above in my file names, whereas the latter with / wouldn't work.