Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Yet more - non-cycling - until today

One of the "interesting" things about this Christmas were the problems we had - nothing serious but still annoying. My wife's laptop spent some time ignoring the hard drive and refusing to boot - the helpful error message being to check the cable. My desktop computer refused to boot because of a disk error in the boot part of the disk. I got the laptop going again after a few attempts, but I had to dig out one of the programs that came with the desktop computer to allow it to boot from a DVD and then fix the boot code. The real challenge was finding the DVD to allow it to be booted from a DVD.

We have a gas fired radiator system to provide heating, but we do have a gas fire in the living room to provide rapid warmth as well as looking nice with real flames flickering. The fire is great when it works and s capable of pumping out a lot of heat quickly. We do not use it a lot - only over the winter when it is cold and we want to sit in the living room and quickly boost the heat. The fire is to complex for its own good though I think. It also has a computer system to control it. (Actually a micro-controller - but the same thing really). When it was installed we had problems - you switch it on to light it and the computer gets a spark going and turns on a gas tap. If it fails to detect a flame it turns it all off again. It only seems to do this around the Christmas holidays when it is quite difficult to get anyone to "fix" it. Last year, I think, we had the controller system replaced and it seemed to light reliably - until the Monday before Christmas when it went off and refused to light. The local company that installed it could not send anyone out until after Christmas - January 5th. as they we closing over the holiday period.

In the end I sent of a very unhappy email to the manufacturers of the fire - Bodart and Gonay, copying the local installers indicating how unhappy I was with the fire that seemed to fail just when it was needed. Surprise - the next morning someone turned up to "fix" it. Except it could not be fixed an inlet valve had broken and replacements were being shipped over from Belgium and would not arrive until the 18th January. So the 2 weeks extended to 4 weeks of unavailability. I then emailed both again suggesting I would pay for it to be FedExed over - it really can't take that long! I have yet to hear back.

The last thing that stopped working was the Central heating timer/controller - it crashed - (in a computer sort of way). A quick search on the web and I downloaded the manual - worked out the magic sequence to reset it and re-programmed it.

To continue the geeky theme, Father Christmas brought me a Windows 7 OS upgrade for my desktop machine. So I have also spent a happy several days backing up system and all my data before embarking on the upgrade. I've read user reports that suggested it freed computers from the resource tyranny of Vista and that my machine would be quicker again. The good news is that the Upgrade went smoothly - long 4 hours I think but pretty much everything worked. (Note I upgraded rather than did a clean install). My first impressions are that there are some neat improvements to the UI - although MAC users will claim they got there first. I am a bit disappointed that it does not seem to make my machine seem any quicker though. It might be because the Install was not a clean install or it might be because Windows Media Player 12 (yes one more than you get on Vista or XP) has been spending ages updating the media - I have a lot of CDs on my system so it is taking ages. Still time will tell. So far not bad.

for these reasons and others I have not been cycling much - but did manage to get out today. It was dark by the time I got going - pretty much all the snow has gone from the roads - but be warned the Track through Wicken Fen was sheet ice - I ended up walking along the first bit of it - I managed not to fall over though (either walking or cycling). No pictures though it was dark.

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