Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hail, hail Balconia!

I've spent the day so far in a mix of idleness and mild activity that is quite common on Sundays at Maison Udge: making a backup of Alberich on a newly-purchased external drive, 320 gigabytes for 150 Euros. (Here's a tiny competition: Why is its name "Hagen?" Winner will get, um, a modest amount of satisfaction.) Took nearly two hours to copy 46 gigabytes, almost the entire contents of Alberich's internal drive.

I had been irritated in recent weeks by the variability and weakness of the wireless LAN signal out here (yes, forgot to mention: balcony blogging again. Coffee and sun and birdsong and Baiocchi cookies), it varied from strong to very weak and back over a period of minutes, and would invariably break off completely at some random time. I moved the WLAN router to a new position in line-of-sight from my usual position on the balcony, as far as the cables could reach, with no improvement in strength or stability. As I was looking through a mail-order catalog for a range extender device, I suddenly remembered reading that the router could broadcast on any of twelve channels. So I changed the channel from 6 to 7, and suddenly everything is peachy: signal is very strong and quite stable. I infer that the problem was interference from the near-dozen other WLAN routers in this building or its immediate neighbours. Many of these have been newly installed, because I had no such problems out here last summer.

While sitting out here—and before thinking to change the channel, meaning while I couldn't use the laptop—I have been reading Happiness: a guide to developing life's most important skill by Matthieu Ricard, a French buddhist monk and ex-cellular geneticist. I bought this some time ago to give to U, who is an unhappy and negative person, but kept it because on consideration her English isn't good enough; I shall find an equivalent in German for her. It's a very simply written and sensible book, quite un-mystical and definitely not a religious tract. There will probably be more about this later.

To be honest, reading it is an avoidance tactic, a displacement activity: reading about something I'm already quite good at instead of doing things that need to be done (like Unfilthing) or that challenge my mental comfort (like writing up a CV or deciding what kind of jobs to apply for). I justify it by saying that this is a day of rest (a sound practice regardless of one's religious inclinations) but the truth is that I've only done about eight hours' work since returning from holiday. Perhaps I should become a university prof or a schoolteacher, their long summer holidays have always appealed to me and I did enjoy training when I was at the Great Big Computer Company.

Lunchtime; and after that if the weather holds, a walk around the Feuersee. Enjoy the day, my dears.

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