Friday, May 30, 2014

Update on Goals

So, day 150 of the year (already!), so time for another update.

  • Weight: This has been an odd one, but I'm essentially back where I was before the 'blip' I mentioned last time. I do need to refocus some attention on this, but it's difficult, because...
  • Work: Work is good, but sooo busy. There constantly seems to be a deadline looming, and no end in sight for the tasks needing done. That's good on some levels, but is has the downside that it tends to dominate everything else.
  • Books: I've read 22 books, putting me three behind my target for this point in the year. However, that's perhaps a false picture, since I'm likely to finish book 23 tonight and may well tackle book 24 in its entirety either tomorrow or, at the very least, over the weekend. One of the big advantages to being in Competition Season is that it gives me chance to catch up on my reading. (Incidentally, the three that I'm 'behind' are two books from The List, one of which is book 22, and this month's Pathfinder volume which arrived yesterday.)
  • Games: "Star Wars: Imperial Fist" actually wrapped up two sessions early, concluding just after the previous update. The ending, although abridged, was actually extremely satisfying, so that went well. I cancelled but have since rescheduled one of the two one-shot sessions I had planned for the year, and am actively considering running a three-part "Firefly" game at some point (this taking the place of the 'missing' one-shot from earlier in the year). And I'm scheduled for the third "Numenera" game next month, which completes my target for sessions as a player (with at least one more due to come).
  • Maintenance: Disappointingly, there has been no progress on this at all. In fact, it has regressed slightly, in that my car once again needs some work (but that's okay - it was due for a service anyway). It would be good to get that done by the end of June, though how realistic that is, I don't know.
  • Computer: One word: done. I'm actually not writing this update on the new machine, but I could if I wanted - it's all set up, the software is all installed, and even the emails have been sorted through right back to 2009.
  • Money: This is basically done, too. There are still three payments to make, but these are automated, so I don't need to think about them.

And that's where we stand. Things are in much better health than they were last time, and the prospect looks quite bright, but there is still work to be done.

The next update is due on the 19th of July, but as that's the day of the Paisley Highland Games it is unlikely to be made on that day. That will be just after our holiday to Barcelona, so I fear the weight goal may not be doing so well, and I expect the work goal to have very little to report. Conversely, I expect the books goal to be back on target, or nearly so (should be at 33 books read), and I hope also that the maintenance goal will finally be done.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014


I was going to do an epic rant about the political adverts shown before "X-Men: Days of Future Past", and especially the lies in the "Vote No Borders" adverts, but it turns out there's no need - following a deluge of complaints (including from me), Cineworld (and other cinemas in Scotland) have elected to remove all political adverts from before films.


(And, incidentally, I'm glad the decision has been taken to pull all the adverts. I may support "Yes", but when I'm enjoying a night out at the cinema I'd rather leave the stresses of the day behind - and the referendum is one of those stresses. I'd rather not be force-fed propaganda, even by my own 'side'.)

X-Men: Days of Future Past

A year ago, I was more than a little uncertain about going to see "The Wolverine", largely because "X-Men: The Last Stand" and "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" were both pretty poor. I'd heard good things about "First Class", but I don't think I'd actually seen it by then (turns out it's a good one), so I'd more or less decided to give it a miss.

Only I found myself in the US on a business trip, with a free evening with not much to do, and a nearby cinema. So I went, and I rather enjoyed it. But what I enjoyed more than anything was the 'stinger' at the end of the film, and suddenly I was very excited to see the next film, "Days of Future Past".

So, LC and I went to the cinema on Saturday to see the film, and I was not disappointed. The film rather neatly blends the 'classic' and "First Class" casts through the medium of time travel, everyone fills their roles admirably, and the whole thing moves at a decent clip. There is one face-palm moment, but even that's suitably in-character - the character in question has form for messing things up at key moments.

In my opinion, it's the best X-Men film since the second one (which for a long time was the best superhero film since "Superman 2". Of course, the title of "best superhero film ever" was eventually taken by "The Dark Knight", and then by "The Avengers").

So, yeah, go and see it. Unless you don't like superhero films, of course.

And now, a spoiler:

Possibly the best outcome of this film is that it serves as a "semi-reboot" in the same way that the time-travel aspect did for "Star Trek". This means that, going forward, the writers can use as much, or as little, of the 'existing' film continuity as they want. In particular, this means that some of the mistakes of "The Last Stand" and "Wolverine" can be essentially ignored. This is probably a good thing, as it gives them a better platform for progressing.

#22: "The Redemption Engine", by James L. Sutter

(Surprisingly, this novel has toppled "The Hundred Days" as my current "book of the year". I say 'surprisingly' because it's game-related fiction, which is notoriously awful. But this was surprisingly good. That said, it's not going to last long - it's about to be superseded itself by my current novel...)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Digging Through The Archive

When I set up my new PC, I took advantage of the opportunity to 'properly' synchronise the Outlook email folders with the webmail versions used by my providers. This had the effect that Outlook promptly downloaded every email I had received in those accounts, going right back to 2009. It was something of a shock to suddenly have 5,000+ emails to dig through, the vast majority of which are spam emails from one company or another.

Since then, I've been gradually going through the painstaking process of sorting all those emails, deleting the junk and filing the rest away into a more ordered set of folders. I'm now down to having a mere 1,000 emails to go through, from July 2011 back to January 2010. So with a lot of luck I'll have that job done soon.

What has been quite strange, though, has been reading through all those emails. Because I started with the most recent ones and worked backwards (excepting the three months of 2009 that were covered), it has essentially been a process of walking backwards through time - seeing the confirmation emails for Christmas presents, film tickets, and holidays; seeing the emails associated with the wedding cropping up (in reverse) and then subsiding; seeing the band have exactly the same discussions four years ago as we had in January (to do with school lets). It was quite odd seeing weekly spam emails from various companies gradually disappearing, presumably from the point where someone sold them my address. (In some cases, there was the oddity of the emails appearing, persisting for a while, and then disappearing again. I guess if you shop there once, and then not again for three years, they might lose interest.)

I was also somewhat perplexed for a while about an invoice from Premier Inn. Why did I have a one-night stay in London in November of 2011, I wondered? And then, a few 'months' earlier I found the answer - Lady Chocolat had been in Kenya, and that was when I went down to London to meet her return flight. Ahah!

But what has surprised me most, though, was the record of just when we'd seen various films in the cinema. Constantly, I was surprised at just how long ago it was since these films came out. (I was also surprised at just how many really bad films we'd been to see, but I probably shouldn't have been - after all, I was there at the time!)

(Oh, and what's also odd is not so much what's there as what's missing. There have obviously been some significant events over the past five years - several births, marriages, and a significant death - and some of these generated not a single email. Yet "Prometheus" gets two. Strange.)

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Star Trek Film I'd Like to See Next

I like "Star Trek", but I'm not an obsessive fan. Whereas "The Phantom Menace" and "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" were crushing disappointments, "Star Trek: Nemesis" was just a bad film, and not particularly a terrible thing. That being said, I'd much rather see a good "Star Trek" film than a bad one, for reasons that should be obvious.

I think they're on to a good start. While I felt "Star Trek" itself was rather patchy, I felt they'd managed to assemble a great cast and laid a strong foundation for the future. And, although it's becoming something of a minority opinion these days, I liked, and still like, "Star Trek: Into Darkness". Of course, with JJ Abrams leaving to do "Star Wars", things are a bit up in the air, but there's no reason they shouldn't make it work.

One thing I would really like to see is something different. "Wrath of Khan" is a great film, make no mistake, but one of the big mistakes that has been made with pretty much every "Star Trek" film since then is that every one has been in some way a reaction to, or a clone of, "Wrath of Khan". And so we get our Shakespeare-quoting Klingon in "Undiscovered Country" (instead of the Melville-quoting Khan), we get direct quotes of "Moby Dick" in "First Contact", we get an attempt at a new Khan in "Nemesis" (and, actually, "Search for Spock", "Undiscovered Country", "Generations", "First Contact", "Insurrection", "Nemesis", and "Star Trek"), and then we get a literal Khan in "Into Darkness".


Now, having said that, the "Star Trek" movies have indeed been at their best when they've liberally taken material from elsewhere - "Wrath of Khan" being essentially "Moby Dick", and "Into Darkness" being essentially "Wrath of Khan". So, something different that lifts a plot from somewhere else...

So: "Star Trek: Search for the Wa'maH-maqtagh Doq"

Which is a terrible name, of course, because the Klingon doesn't translate very well. If fact, they'd probably do better to show the name using the Klingon characters, which is much more concise (and which I daresay the fans would appreciate).

A quick plot:

The movie opens, as in "Into Darkness", with the Enterprise on some mission going horribly wrong. This is some harebrained scheme Kirk has come up with, ideally featuring commentary by McCoy/Uhura/Scotty about how they miss Spock and that he'd clearly talk Kirk out of it.

It turns out that Spock has been seconded back to Star Fleet to do some research of something he's not allowed to talk about. On his return to the Enterprise, therefore, he and Kirk naturally butt heads on this topic.

But then the Enterprise continues its mission on the edges of the Federation, in a sector close to the Neutral Zone with the Klingon Empire. And then they start picking up strange readings, and get diverted by Star Fleet to go check it out.

Anyway, it turns out there's a new, highly experimental, Klingon warship out there, and it's making its way towards Federation space. Its mission is, of course, unknown. Kirk is tasked with finding it and destroying it before it can slip past and launch an attack.

Except that Spock's classified research was into exactly the type of cloaking device used by the new warship, so he knows that the ship should be undetectable and yet isn't. Plus, Uhura has studied the career of the commander of this vessel (let's assume her linguistics training also covered cultural and political studies, which makes sense and also neatly expands her role beyond just repeating what the computer says). Bottom line: they suspect that the commander may not be going to attack; he's going to defect.

Basically, it's "The Hunt for Red October", but in space.

Anyway, it's just a thought...

M(a)y Doctor

Fascinating fact: although for a very long time there have been two Bakers amongst the actors to play the Doctor, until last year there had never been a repeated first name (at least in the main series). And then two came along at once: a second John (or Jon) and a second Peter.

Okay, maybe it's not 'fascinating'. But it is a fact.

May, being the fifth month, is the month of the Fifth Doctor, as portrayed by Peter Davison. Who is, as I've mentioned before "my Doctor". I just barely remember seeing the last little bit of Tom Baker's run (I think), which means I was around for Peter Davison's run. And, indeed, Tegan, Peri, and Adric are all characters I remember seeing live.

And yet... I find memory is not wholly reliable, because I have no real idea who Nyssa is, and Turlough is also something of a void (despite my knowing I watched "The Five Doctors" when it was first on). I guess they just didn't make any real impression. (On the other hand, Tegan is memorable for being one of the longest-serving companions of all time, while Peri was both the last companion of the Fifth Doctor and the main companion for almost all of the Sixth Doctor's run. And Adric is perhaps memorable for the wrong reasons...)

This month's short story was "Tip of the Tongue", by Patrick Ness. This one features the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa, presumably in the brief gap while Tegan was off the TARDIS. That said, both Doctor and companion only actually feature in the story very briefly - it reads like one of those episodes in recent years when one of the main actors has been given the week off so they've done a Doctor-light episode such as "Blink" or "Turn Left". Which is fine, as it makes for an interesting approach.

And the story is okay. It's not a stand-out like, well, "Blink" or "Turn Left", but it's a decent story with attractive characters and some fun along the way. Plus, it doesn't feature the Master, which is probably something of a boon for this anthology (since both the Second and Third Doctor stories did feature that opponent). So, good stuff.

The novel, which I finished on Saturday, was "Fear of the Dark", by Trevor Baxendale. This was a strange one, as I know I'd never read it before (I haven't read any for the Past Doctor novels before the 50th Anniversary collection) and yet I had the strongest feeling that I had. That's, probably, mostly a good thing - the author had obviously managed to capture the spirit of the show, the characters, and the many stories I have read pretty accurately. And reading it I found myself agreeing - yep, that was my Doctor, and it was Tegan. All good.

But it had a big down-side as well. I hadn't read that story before, but I've read (and seen) ones just like it any number of times. It was pretty much a bunch of secondary characters running around a quarry being picked off by an unseen menace, at least for most of the time. So, it was all rather predictable, which was a shame.

Still, not to worry. I started it one Saturday, about tea-time, while huddled behind some seats (on a bus rather than a sofa, but it counts), and I finished it the next Saturday while huddled behind some seats (another bus), so it was all positively nostalgic. Good stuff.

Next up is the Sixth Doctor, widely regarded as the worst Doctor. I feel that's somewhat unfair, for various reasons I'll get into next month, but I'm definitely hoping that the novel and story will play on certain aspects of that Doctor and leave certain others in the background. I guess we'll see next month.

Dunbar Highland Games

Just a quick update on our second competition of the season.

Saturday was a much more satisfactory day than the previous week. Our pipe major is now properly registered with the band, and between him and two others who weren't available last week we had a considerably stronger band this week than last. Additionally, we were blessed with good weather, which always helps.

Once again, we played twice, in both Grade 4 and Grade 4MSR competitions. Both times, we left the field reasonably pleased with our performance. And, come the end of the day, this was somewhat vindicated: we came fourth in the Grade 4 contest (out of 9). So, this is our first 'real' prize of the season (last week's marching & discipline doesn't really count).

However, we did come sixth (and last) in the MSR. Given that that's our real grade, this isn't really a good sign.

The next competition is the British Championships in Bathgate a week on Saturday, the first Major of the season. So, lots of work to do for that. (On the plus side, we're only playing once, and in the early afternoon. So, no need to get up at 6am for that one!)

Also of note this weekend was that two of my students were competing in the Stirling Mod, a solo piping competition. They were in the 10-12 Solo Chanter contest, where there were some 17 competitors.

And we won! Well, actually, one of my students came first in the competition, while the other must have been just outside the top three. So that was quite a result.

All in all, a pretty successful weekend.

#21: "Fear of the Dark", by Trevor Baxendale

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Votes for 16-Year-Olds

Somehow, and somewhat surprisingly, the Guardian's "Comment is Free" section managed to have an article that I almost managed to agree with. (Mostly, it's a bastion of sloppy thinking and inanity, which is a real shame, since I should agree with most of the positions taken.)

Anyway, the article argues that we (that is, the UK) should give votes to 16- and 17-year-olds, and that way they'll be more engaged with politics.

Now, some time ago, I posted to the effect that 16- and 17-year-olds should not be given the vote in the Scottish Referendum, for the simple reason that they don't get the vote in General Elections, Scottish Elections, Local Elections, or European Elections. However, in the same post I also noted that there was a wider debate about that that we should have, and indeed that it is wrong that a 16-year-old can work, and thus be required to pay taxes, but not have the vote. (Because the Americans were absolutely right about "no taxation without representation".)

Anyway, one of the consequences of giving the vote to that group for the referendum is that, rather interestingly, we actually do now seem to have a fairly politics-savvy and involved group of teenagers in this country. When last the band played in Falkirk town centre, the Yes campaign were being represented (on that day) by their youth team, who were both articulate and informed. And the younger members of the band, who I heard talking on that day were likewise engaged in the debate, mostly on the other side.

(Incidentally, I'm frequently amused by some of the discussion around this. It seems to be a widely held belief that the SNP extended the franchise for this referendum because of a belief that our teens would be swayed by a romantic Braveheart-esque notion of "Freedom!", and also that this is a gambit that has badly backfired. This neglects that it has been SNP policy for decades to extend the franchise, it was a manifesto commitment, and that this is the first time they've been able to implement their pledge.)

However, I said in the first paragraph that I only almost agreed with the article.

The thing is, as far as I can tell, the reason that Scottish teens are engaged in the referendum debate is that, fundamentally, it matters. One way or another, this is a big decision, with a direct and lasting effect on all our lives.

Conversely, as far as I can tell, the reason so many 18- to 24-year-olds aren't engaged in mainstream UK politics (and nobody is very engaged in European election politics) is that, frankly, it doesn't matter. Both the Labour and Conservative parties are now dominated by a particular breed of career politicians, who were educated at exclusive schools and then Oxbridge, did internships arranged for them by Daddy (or Mummy), and then got safe seats somewhere. Worse, the two parties are both signed up for very slight variations on the same package of austerity-cuts/EU-sceptic/business-first measures. So, whoever you vote for, the government wins.

Faced with that, it's no wonder so many people really don't care. And, faced with that, there's no reason 16- and 17-year-olds would be any different.

So, I do indeed agree with extending the franchise to 16- and 17-year-olds. If they're old enough to have children, and if they're old enough to work and pay taxes, then they're old enough to vote. But if you expect that, by itself, to lead to them being engaged with politics you are bound to be disappointed. For that, we need some new politicians - 650, by my count.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

An Interesting Possibility...

It's funny how opportunities work. Just as I was carefully considering my position within the band, a possible vision of the future opens up.

As you know, since August I've been helping out teaching the youngsters in the band, largely due to our inheriting more learner pipers than we really know what to do with. In fact, we have five learners who all started at the same time and who are all now just, or just about, starting on the bagpipes (as opposed to the practice chanter).

So, I had been contemplating the question of just how we were going to fit these extra five pipers into our pipe corps. It struck me that next year, or perhaps the year after, we'd have more pipers than we know what to do with.

However, last night I had a chat with our pipe major, and he mentioned that five pipers, plus an adult pipe major, is the makings of a Novice Juvenile pipe corps. Add two snare drummers and a bass drummer (which, at the moment, we don't have), and you've got a band.

So then, I think my best plan may be as follows:

  • See out the rest of this season, while continuing to teach the youngsters.
  • Try to recuit some new drummers for the band, specifically learner drummers. (Granted, that's probably not me, but it's a prerequisite for the next step.)
  • Revive the "Development Band", this time at the Novice Juvenile grade. In particular, I'll nominate myself for the role of Pipe Major.
  • Retire from competition with the 'main' band. The registration can remain active, and I'll stay current on the tunes just in case, but I'll focus on working with the Development Band instead.

I think that sounds like a plan. The reason the Development Band failed last time was that the then Pipe Major moved on to bigger and better things (and rightly so), which I can ensure doesn't happen again. Taking this step allows me to gracefully step out of the stresses associated with competition with the 'main' band, while simultaneously allowing me to focus more of my attention on building the future of the band (which I prefer more anyway).

All in all, it sounds like a plan. Now, if we can just find some drummers...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Competition Season Starts: Kinross Highland Games

There are lots of things I like about playing in a pipe band. I like the practices (mostly); I like the performances at gala days, weddings, and the like; I really enjoy the teaching of the youngsters. I do not like competing, the competition scene or, really, anything associated with that aspect of it. Unfortunately, I don't know how to disassociate the two - in order to be halfway decent, a band pretty much has to compete; without the edge that that gives to proceedings, they just drift, lose players, and aren't really worth the effort.

Saturday was our first competition of the season, and my first competition for eighteen months. The bus was scheduled to leave at 6:15, so I staggered out of bed at 5, made myself ready, and walked down to the meeting point. And then on to Kinross!

Unfortunately, there was a miscalculation of our travel times. We were due to play at 9:45, which meant we really needed to be there about 8:15. This meant that the pickup should probably have been at 7am, or even after. In the event, what it meant was that we got to the competition... and then had to wait an hour for anyone else to show up. Great.

Anyway, we waited, and then we made ready to play, and it was all okay. There was some rain, but it wasn't too heavy, and it stopped before the competition started. Hurrah. Of course, the pipe major wasn't happy, but that's his job. Though what was less than ideal was that, due to a mix-up with the bureaucracy, he wasn't actually registered with us in time, so didn't get to play. But no matter - I'm sure that will be sorted out soon.

Where things really started to go wrong was about 5 minutes before the performance. With the rain having stopped, we decided to go on without capes, as generally gives a better performance. Only when we took our capes off, it emerged that one person had left his jacket on the bus, so at this point we all had to ditch our jackets as well, and that made for a very cold event.

So, we went on, we played, and it was awful. Truly, a woeful performance. Even from the start it was obvious we'd stunk, with a chanter sounding early, which by itself is enough to mean you might as well not bother with the rest. And it got worse from there. Oh dear, it was terrible.

Anyway, we came off, and the pipe major was justly angry.

We had another performance, this one about 11am. Unfortunately, with this one we messed up our preparations the other way - just as we were starting to get ready an adjutant appeared and said we should move to "final tuning". Oops. Though we actually weren't far off ready when we started, so that was okay.

The second performance was better, but still not good by any stretch. In fact, the start was even worse, due to another early chanter. But the rest of it was generally better across the board.

After this, and the inevitable dressing down from the PM, I returned to the bus to wait and to read. But my overwhelming thought was, "you know, I've got better things to do with my summer than to spend it in muddy fields getting shouted at."

Wisely, the organisers at Kinross had the good sense to time their Highland Games to coincide with a local half marathon. So, the bands were bussed down to the 'town' centre, where we were asked to play to send the runners off, and then play again in a short parade along the main street. Which was good for all involved - it gave us something to do in the hours of waiting, and it gave them cheap access to several bands. The parade actually went really well, I thought.

And then there was more waiting for the March Past. At which, to our rather great surprise, we won the very first prize of the day - third in the "marching & discipline" for the parade. (Though it's important to note: I think that was third out of five bands who played the parade! Still, a result.)

That was our one success of the day. We came last in both competitions, and deservedly so. Rather worryingly, there's a suggestion also that one of our settings may not actually be valid in our competition grade (which would be a disaster, since it's really too late to change it). So, we'll need to go back to the drawing board at tonight's practice.

There are two tiny crumbs of comfort that we can take from this. The first is that our performances genuinely were terrible, and egregiously so - it's not as if we'd played well and just been poor; we played truly horribly. On another day, even without major surgery, it wouldn't be so bad. The second is that for most bands the symbolic start of the season is at Dunbar, which is next weekend. This was really something of a pre-season run out. So, in theory, it doesn't really 'count'. In that regard, better to make the mistakes now, and correct them now, rather than next week when things are more serious.

But those really are just crumbs. Mostly, it was a really bad day, and we'll need to do much, much better.

Also, I have better things to do with my summer than to spend it in muddy fields being shouted at.

Tick (sort of)

So, I got my new PC. Actually, it turned out to be more of an adventure than was first anticipated: as soon as the laptop died, I got onto the PC World website (yes, I know...) and identified the likely replacement, and then headed off to the branch round the corner. However, it was out of stock. There was then a debate about whether the touch-screen was really necessary, and then off to another branch in the hope of picking it up. No joy. So I instead ordered it for next-day delivery, only to discover to my horror that the "next day" from Sunday was, in fact, Tuesday. Disaster!

Anyway, I picked up the PC on Tuesday, and all was well. It then sat in its box until Friday.

After all this, the PC didn't actually get switched on for the first time until Saturday evening (I took it out of its box on Friday, but that's all). And then the set-up began.

It was horrible. Although surprisingly, and with one exception, the problem wasn't Windows 8.1. Instead, the bulk of the problem lies with our WiFi network, which seems determined not to work - although the laptop had no problems connecting to our router, the new desktop refuses. It can connect to our network extender, and so can get online mostly. Mostly. But I'm going to have to figure out why the system just isn't working as it really should - as things stand the internet is both unreliable and desperately slow, and given the main uses for the machine, neither is acceptable.

But we're getting there. I estimate that the setup is now about 75% done - there are still a handful of programs to install, some documents and lots of emails to sort through, and no doubt a few other bits and pieces, but it's definitely getting there.

#19: "The Final, Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey", by Patrick O'Brian
#20: "Little Women & Good Wives", by Louisa May Alcott (a book from The List)

Monday, May 05, 2014

Unfortunate Timing

I didn't have a good weekend. There was a sweary rant on Friday (aimed at me by some random bloke), then a bout of feeling not at all well on Saturday.

Then, on Sunday I woke up to find my PC dead. It was showing the infamous Blue Screen of Death (itself unusual in post-XP versions of Windows), and when rebooted it just didn't come back at all - the screen was lit but blank.

This precipitated something of a panic. Although I had been planning to replace the PC at the end of the month anyway, I had hoped to have it up and active for the upgrade. And although I was in the habit of regular updates, for reasons unknown Vista decided that this would stop working late in January. Provided the last backup was still good, I wouldn't have lost much, but you're never 100% sure...

There is good news on that front, at least: I got a suitable hard disk enclosure, and have verified that the HD on the laptop was not the cause of the problem (I suspect the display driver), so everything remains intact - I just have to copy it across.

So, what this really means is that my plan to get a new PC had to be brought forward by a few weeks, and also conducted with rather more dispatch than was intended. (Even that may be a good thing, since it means I need a good PC now, rather than having the luxury of waiting for the perfect PC. And since "the perfect PC" is a mythical beast, that saves me what could be a long process of deliberation.)

Of course, the other part of upgrading a PC is the process of setting it up for use, which in this case will mean getting used to the new OS layout, sorting out which settings can be set back to a classic mode and which cannot, and also installing the required software on the new machine. To an extent, even that's a blessing, since it automatically means getting back to a reasonably clean slate - I can install only those handful of applications I actually use, and leave the rest behind.

(I'm intending also to take this opportunity to upgrade the handful of applications I do use to their latest versions. Which means a bit more expense, and a bit more of a lead-time, but this is the best time to do that - otherwise, I'd be installing the old versions only to remove and replace them later.)

So, anyway, that's where we are on the PC front.

#18: "Pathfinder: Empty Graves", by Crystal Frasier