Saturday, October 26, 2013

And the Red-Hot Pointy Stick Too ...

So I was pretty sure I'd worked out my Windows woes when I headed off to Vitry-sur-Seine to see my good friends at the SNCF, and so I had: those I knew about, at any rate. The first inkling I had that all was perhaps not well was on the TGV, when I plugged the phone in to check my mail and it stubbornly refused to connect. "No worries", I thought, "it'll be better when I'm not swapping from tower to tower" ...

Of course when I got in there was Wifi at the little chambre d'hotes in Sucy (yes, that's the actual name of the place, the inhabitants call themselves Sucysois and apparently get away with it) so I didn't bother looking any further, which as it turns out was a mistake. For when I got to the SNCF the next morning I discovered that the update to Windows 8.1 had somehow screwed the licence key for InstallShield, which needed to be repaired - over the internet, naturally.

Now I don't know if the SNCF follow security best practices but their offices are certainly locked down tighter than a cat's arse: there is no Wifi, only authorised computers are allowed to be connected to the intranet, and of those only a small number have external access - and even those privileged few have to got through an SNCF portal that makes a slow stroll through a septic tank seem like a brisk walk up Everest.

Naturally enough I plugged in my phone, dialed up - at which point my mousie suddenly stopped moving and a few minutes Windows cheerfully told me that there seemed to have been a problem, it was just logging some information and would then restart for me. Very sweet of it, good thing I had no important open, edited and unsaved files ...

After three tries I realised that this was not going to get any better, also it's not very easy to look up solutions on the web when you have no internet access ... so I gave it up as a bad job, abandoned that, and went back to other things.

That evening I went out to dinner with Jean-Pierre and Denis and when I got back at about midnight had precious little urge to go problem-solving, so I told myself it'd wait - and so it did, until the next evening when, driven mad by a lack of cute kitty videos and craving my fix of "news" from El Reg, I fired up the phone and used it to google the question.

It's something I hate doing because a) the screen is really too small for anything useful, b) it's kinda slow and c) as one should expect, the Samsung browser is crap, but I eventually found out that the problem seems to reside in a buggy Microsoft RNDIS driver which - knowing them - probably got reinstalled with the update. And there's sod-all I can do about it.

But I finally got around the problem: not the most elegant of solutions I admit, but activating the phone as a mobile access point and then connecting to it via Wifi from the PC does actually seem to work. At least once. And I managed to reinstall my licence, but repairing the Visual Studio install so that I have a C++ compiler again will just have to wait until there's a wired connection in reach.

Actually, it won't. I just discovered, at 11pm, that not only had that bloody update screwed the licence but also Visual Studio itself, so that it would open a project but then be able to open any of the files in it. Seems something happened in the registry, as usual. I do actually have better things to do with my time than faff about fixing Microsoft's cockups, for god's sake! But I still wound up running the "repair" option from the Visual Studio DVD (which I still, luckily, have lying about on the PC as an ISO image) rather than sleeping. Only took two hours. And whilst I was about it, took the opportunity to back up 2Gb or so to some cloudy backup service - over my phone, as that's all I had. At least it was working.

Do not nibble your toenails
Off-topic, I agree, but - did you know that all around gare de Lyon there seem to be a number of sex shops? Some offering "salles climatisées" so you can watch your porn in air-conditioned comfort. Innocent that I am, I thought everyone just watched the stuff over internet these days. But as I walked past I have to admit I was sorely tempted by the "Vibrating Ice Massager", the pictures looked so very attractive. But I thought better of it, and refrained.

Whatever, autumn has come and the sky over Carcassonne was cool and wind-swept when I went off to the marché this morning. Didn't seem to put a damper on anyones' spirits mind you, was as animated as usual. And the bright colours of the pumpkins and courgettes and the last of the summer's sweet little tomatoes and the aubergines and poivrons and tiny buttery yellow pears and the clementines and muscat grapes more than made up for the slate-gray sky.

And when I'd filled my bag with all these things and more, like a few cobs of sweetcorn that I bore off with cackles of glee and some sucrines, which are my new favourite lettuce (yes, I'm a complete slut in the vegetable fidelity department), I took that back to the car, got out the camera, and went for an amble. One which, unfortunately, took me back through place Carnot where I suddenly remembered that it's been a bloody long time since I stuffed and baked some mushrooms, and then past les Halles where it came to my attention that if I was going to stuff them then some decent pork mince would come in handy, and they had épaule d'agneau sitting there as well and it would've been a shame not to buy one, as they were calling out to me.

So by the time I'd done all that, and picked up a little ciabatta for my lunch and some chives because - well, I didn't have any left in the freezer - my arm was getting longer and it's kind of uncomfortable with a camera slung over one shoulder, so I was glad to get back to place Gambetta and head back home.

Where the dog greeted me joyously, and in an attempt to make up for leaving him alone for all of four hours I took him off for a long walk through the vines, and he pranced merrily and slurped as many as he could of the last sticky-sweet grapes left on the vines after the vendange. Just hope he doesn't get diarrhoea.

Note to self: do not eat any low-hanging grapes, you never know what else has been licking them. Although, now that I think of it, now might be the perfect time to make a another grape flan, to eat after that rolled roast lamb shoulder. With the stuffed mushrooms. And maybe some goldenrod broccoli (Digby Law's excellent "Vegetable Cookbook", doubtless out of print these days but that's just too bad, go look it up).

Mind how you go, now.

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