May 2011 Issue

I’m thinking I’ll just build my own next time. After all, I pretty much built this one. And I can buy the parts over time, like building an airplane in your garage. And I can use the disk drives, sound card, etc. I already have.

By the way, the failure of this computer freaked me out less than it would have last year, when there was a good chance I’d have lost the last few changes to whatever column I had been writing. But since I now use the Dropbox online backup service, my documents folder online gets updated literally as soon as I save the file on my computer (where it continues to exist in case the internet isn’t working, etc.). If you sign up through that link, you get 2 gigabytes of free storage, and I get an additional 250 mb. You should still run weekly backups of everything to an external drive, but Dropbox really is insanely convenient.

Elsewhere in computerville, one of our neighbors called me the other day. He lives about a half-mile down the road and, like most people who didn’t grow up with computers, he regards his as a temperamental mystery. He was wondering why his DSL connection keeps going dead, so I explained that last year Verizon unloaded its rural lines to a bunch of feckless gits from out west called Frontier, who apparently haven’t quite grasped the complexities of running a business with actual customers. The solution, which I learned last year and relayed to him, is simply to turn off the DSL modem, wait ten, twenty or twenty thousand minutes, and fire it up again. Works about 50% of the time. It doesn’t work when it’s raining, but, then again, neither do the phones around here.

By the way, DSL out here, sold as being between 3 and 5 mbps, actually tops out, on a good day, at around 370 kbps, or about one-tenth of the low end of the advertised range. It’s really just glorified dial-up. But you people in the big city with your true broadband don’t have vultures, so we win.

Lastly, as always, please consider subscribing. C’mon, gang — it’s four cents a day.

And now, on with the show….

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5 comments on this post.
  1. Clark:

    Hello, in there! It’s me, out here!

    I haven’t really ‘studied’ your site yet, but the name (TWD) and the first two columns I found make me pretty sure I like it already. I’m the kind of person who can go to a dictionary to look something up, stumble across something else, and off I go on rabbit trails! The curse of being a lexiophile. And I look stuff up(not just words) often; in books, on the web (gotta love the web; the world at your fingertips!), and anywhere else I can think of. So I enjoy digging for information on stuff that interests me (almost everything), not unlike a detective; so I related to your blog’s name immediately.

    I was there looking up the origin of the word, “pumps” as relates to shoes. See, a stray thought made me realize I barely knew what defined pumps as shoes, much less the origin of the term. So I saddled up my computer, rode out a ways, and found it pretty quick on your blog; and I busted out a big ol’ grin when the first words I read were a Firesign reference (Shoes for industry)!

    So I decided to investigate the site a bit more (after reading about pumps), and went to your blog’s home page. Another grin, and a lol to boot; Professor Tom Lehrer, for cryin’ out loud! Yee-ha! It’s old home week! So let’s make a date for the park next Sunday; I’ll bring my own peanuts.

    Thx, C.

  2. Charlie Nunzio:

    Tom Lehrer’s “Poisoning Pidgeons in the Park” just came to mind. Is Tom still around?

  3. admin:

    Evidently: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Lehrer

    There are a number of videos of his performances up on YouTube.

  4. Bill Schmeer:

    It’s a murder of crows, isn’t it?

  5. Renee Guillory:

    Hi there! As ever, love your column, and I’m glad your shoulder’s better. Can’t find the entry on “Budge” to comment on directly, and I’m afraid I’m going to forget to reply later, so here goes. Now, on the Beeb, and in my netflix list, there are a number of Brit films where I’m certain I’ve heard characters say, “Budge up there, mate.” It was even used in a similar manner by J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter – I think by Hagrid, whose colorful expressions and written idiom have a Scots feel to them. The phrase I think means, “scooch over a bit.” P.S. I couldn’t find an entry on scooch – is it possible you haven’t featured that word in the last five years? Please, sir, can I have some more information on this?

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