Monthly Archives: October 2012

First World Sunday

By the year 2000 we’ll all have jet-packs and robots will do all the work, allowing us to spend all of our time playing chess and discussing Chekhov.

Meanwhile, in 2012, here’s how I spent my luxurious Sunday.

M works on Sunday and so she had to abandon the snuggly bed at an early hour. Being a girl it takes her a couple of hours to leave the house which I spent drifting in and out of unnerving dreams; when the dreams gave way to conscious mental meanderings such as “I wonder what the lyrics to ‘Freak Magnet’ actually are” and “perhaps if I till the soil in Minecraft I can grow some grasses”, I happily remembered my Nexus-7 was in crawling distance of the bed and thus began two hours of Internet whimsy in the safe comfort of the bed. M brought up our new housemate, Corbett, in his travel cage because the little git was screaming his head off. Once on the bed he settled down to make his gentle happy noises and started to preen. There we sat for a long while: me messing about on Facebook, he messing around with his feathers.

Something in the corner of the room started playing annoying music which caused me to scowl and ignore it. Curiosity eventually led me to get out of the enveloping duvet and investigate the source of the music which turned out to be M’s iPad: it appeared my Dad had attempted to call me over Facetime. So I retreated to the comfort of the bed and the company of Corbett with the iPad, and called back. Now it feels like 2012! A video chat with my parents in their comfy room 3000 miles away and me in the bed.

After a nice long chat I took a shower and went back to messing around with a mobile app I’m playing with while Leo hung out on my shoulder.

I had arranged to go on a bike ride with a friend at 2pm but she wasn’t feeling too good when I called round. The weather was so spectacularly beautiful it would have been criminal not to take advantage of it so I went alone. It was the most beautiful autumnal day and I cycled along the Schuylkill River Trail up to Spring Mill and back before nearly killing myself walking up the bastard hill. But it was an 11 mile round-trip which pays for itself in smug value. If it wasn’t for living in Hilly Hillville on the Hill I would cycle everywhere. Probly.

This evening was spent hanging out with M and the birds, eating shrimp and pineapple tacos, watching recent British TV and drinking wine.

This is how we live in the comfortable end of the first world in 2012. If you ever hear me moan about anything then please give me a slap.

The 3000 mile USB cable

A while ago I shipped my (not very) old iPad to my parents in England. It took a while to get there – not to England, that part of the journey was impressively fast – it was after landing on Blighty that things slowed down. The HMRC (i.e. bastard taxation bastards) held on to it for a couple of weeks while they tried to find a way of squeezing some cash out of it. Eventually they gave up trying to think of something rational and just charged 80 quid in “VAT” because they bloody well can. My mum and dad therefore had to fork out in order to receive this gift.
Once they had it in their hands it worked as I’d hoped and we managed to use Facetime for weekly family chats. In the meantime they appealed to HMRC for a refund on the basis that they had taken their money for no good reason – the judgement is still pending.

One thing I had forgotten is that the developer version of iOS I’d installed on it would eventually expire and not be upgradable via the normal means…for some reason. Last week it expired. It doesn’t tell the user it has expired, it just gives a bunch of nonsensical error messages and leads the desperate operator through a variety of frustrating circular paths to nowhere. The only useful suggestion it gives is to connect it to iTunes. But my parents don’t have a mac on which to run iTunes. They don’t have windows either; they run Ubuntu. So how could this problem be solved.

The most frequent “solution” to this problem is to run iTunes in a VM or Wine and it apparently has mixed results. “If only there was a USB over Internet thing that would let me connect the iPad to my Mac over the Internet” I thought. Generally speaking, if you ever have an idea like this then it probably already exists so just Google it. I did. It does! OK this is proprietary software (something I prefer to avoid) but it’s truly awesome (in the genuine “awe” sense of the word). Using the trial version on my Dad’s Ubuntu box, the iPad was plugged in and shared. Using the trial version on my Mac I connected to his box and opened iTunes. iTunes was fooled into thinking it was plugged directly in to the Macbook and happily (albeit very, very slowly) upgraded it to the release version of iOS6 – over the Internet.
Apart from the delight of being able to get the iPad working again from 3000 miles away, the sheer hack value of the operation tickled my locksmith genes and made me very happy. I’ll be buying this software because not only does it do what it promises but it’s beautifully built. Oh and for geeks that care: of course it’s written with Qt.

Mr McG took me on a 9am bike ride today; we made it down to the art museum and back again. I killed my legs again, but I’m already feeling better for it. Also West River Drive is a beautiful ride.

This evening we were invited over Michele’s M[ou]m’s for a superb beef stew. On top of that she made Yorkshire puddings!