Six Quirks

Frank the Chicagoan has tagged me for the “Six Quirks” meme.

The rules:

  • Link to the person that tagged you.
  • Post the rules on your blog.
  • Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself.
  • Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
  • Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.

This is trickier than you’d think, at least if I don’t want to repeat myself. After all, I’ve exposed my quirkiness plenty of times already. There was “five weird things about me” and “five things you don’t know about me.” And let’s not forget that whole “12 Monkeys” business.

However, as Martine will attest, my quirks are endless. So here goes:

  1. Titus Pullo, innitEver since I watched the HBO series Rome (one of the best series ever put on television, by the way), I’ve been saying “innit” a lot. And I do mean a lot. I picked it up from the Titus Pullo character, a working class soldier who is played by Ray Stevenson, himself a North-east Londoner. Ever since Rome, talk around chez nous is along the lines of “dinner’s ready, innit” or “goddamn Cylon’s a bastard, innit.” The weirdest thing is that it’s now completely natural for me to talk like that, innit. It’s not like I just put it on for a laugh; its like punctuation, innit, demanding to be plugged into almost every sentence. Sometimes I have to consciously stop myself from saying it. Yeah, innit.
  2. Plenty of time for reading...Although I’m in no hurry to see the end of the world, I’m a big fan of post-apocalyptic movies like The Omega Man, Night of the Comet, 28 Days Later, and the first two Mad Max movies. I’m particularly fond of the ones where there’s hardly anybody left in the world. In fact, the only episode of the original Twilight Zone series that I remember is the one where Burgess Meredith plays a myopic and introverted bibliophile who spends his days as a bank clerk. One night he gets locked in the bank’s safe, and when the timer opens the door the next day, he discovers he’s the last person left after some huge annihilation (presumably nuclear). Joyful at the prospect of having all the time in the world to read, and of never again being harassed by his boss, he goes immediately to the public library. Unfortunately he drops and breaks his eyeglasses on the library steps – glasses he needs in order to read.
  3. ka-boom!Martine, with whom I share many things, is in the habit of blurting out “NOOK-ular!” (à la George Dubya Bush) whenever someone on the radio or television says “nuclear.” We both get a good laugh out of it, to the point where I’ve started to do it. So now it’s my quirk too.
  4. Model OneI love radios. We have at least ten radios in the house (not including the iRadio for my iPod), five of which do little else than be radios. (The others have CD players on them, or are attached to clocks or stereo receivers.) My newest radio is a Tivoli Model One.
  5. ba-bump, ba-bumpI have a miraculous ability to heal myself. No, really. All I have to do is suffer several weeks of mysterious aches and pains, worry about tumours and incurable diseases, obsess over the Web MD Symptom Checker, and read up on various plagues and epidemics. Then make an appointment to see my doctor. It’s virtually guaranteed that all symptoms will vanish a few hours before the appointment.
  6. Copyright Chris LevineI don’t like to tag people for memes. Yes, that’s a quirk, innit, particularly since I don’t mind being tagged myself. I guess you could say I’m not exactly consistent. Generally, I end up tagging folks who are highly unlikely to pick up the meme, such as the Queen, or Chelsea Clinton. This quirk will not abate with the meme at hand.

OK, as I said in number six, I don’t play fair in that I don’t tag people. But how about this instead; I hereby invite any reader who does not have their own blog to share their six quirks (or fewer, if you like) in the comments to this post. Go ahead. You know you want to…

The Verdict

As I write this, the vote for whether I should reinstall Windows XP or switch to Ubuntu is locked in a tie. As such, and for other reasons, I have chosen to do neither – at least for now.

Yeah, it’s a cop out. But a number of factors conspired against taking action. For one, there is the situation with my laptop, an old G3 iBook. Ever since it was upgraded to the latest Apple OS (10.4) it’s been almost unusable. Then there was Martine’s recent experience with her much newer G5 iMac; over the past week it had gotten really bogged down and was significantly slower than even this four year old Dell. So by comparison, my machine didn’t seem so bad.

Although I remain curious about Ubuntu, I had been leaning towards the Windows XP reinstall. So I looked at my “All Programs” list to see what I would have to deal with.

Holy mackerel.

It’s true that I don’t use a lot of that stuff, but what I do use – even if only rarely – constitutes a huge amount of work to reinstall and reconfigure. To wit:

all my programs

Keep in mind that some of the items in that list contain multiple programs, such as the Adobe one, which expands to show Acrobat, FrameMaker, Photoshop, and Adobe Type Manager. A lot of this software requires one to jump through a number of hoops in order to install them (ahem, Adobe) including multiple updates, bug fixes, patches, and other configuration tricks.

Even the basics, like Web browsing and email, would take more than a few minutes to reinstall. Heck, I’ve got 18 extensions in my Firefox for Pete’s sake, plus a handful of “about:config” tweaks. I’ve also got a non-standard theme and some GUI tweaks for Windows XP, a tricky plug-in that lets my Palm Desktop talk to my iPod, secret handshakes in my email, weird third-party products bolted to the side of my Paint Shop Pro, and a number of other oddities that I probably wouldn’t even remember until I’d lost them.

Forget it. At least for now. It was enough just to watch Martine recover her iMac on Sunday. That involved a lot of wizardry and voodoo via user forums, iChat sessions, downloads of dubious legality from friends, a complete network shutdown and reboot, IP address renewal, a DNS lockdown, and a bit of luck. Fortunately, something in all that worked, because she’s back up to speed, and I think my system is a bit faster too.

So that’s that. Mind you, I’ve already downloaded Ubuntu and burned it to a CD (although I don’t seem to be able to boot from it), so one of these weekends I might just install it in parallel to XP. You know, just for fun.

Thanks for voting, and for leaving helpful and encouraging comments. But for now, status quo is the way I go.

Reinstall Windows XP, or Switch to Ubuntu?

My computer is getting old and tired. More precisely, Windows XP is getting old and tired. As you may know, Windows is notorious for getting more and more bogged down over time, leading to a slow, clogged, and unresponsive computer.

The machine itself is four years old, but I bought at the front of the pack, so its specs are still fairly respectable (2.6 GHz Pentium 4 with 1 GB RAM). That’s certainly adequate for my needs, which primarily include Web browsing, email, light word processing, and some photo editing with Paintshop Pro.

But oh, does it feel old and tired. I know that a reinstall of the operating system (meaning a complete wipe of the hard drive, reformatting, and reinstall) would make it like new again. Or I could give up on Windows altogether and switch to Linux Ubuntu, an idea that appeals highly to the contrarian in me.

For the record, Windows Vista is out of the question, as is switching to Mac – at least for now. All I want is to squeeze another 12-18 months out of this machine, at which time I will quite likely go Mac.

But in the meantime, I’m not sure which route to take. Here’s how it stands as I see it:

Switch to Ubuntu; Pros

  • Stick it to Microsoft. Good riddance!
  • Free! Easily upgradeable. Lots of nice free, open source applications available.
  • Faster to leave hard drive alone and install Ubuntu than to reformat and reinstall Windows.
  • Supposedly, using the WINE Windows emulator means I could still run most Windows applications (but it is unclear just how convenient – or not – that would be).

Switch to Ubuntu; Cons

  • It means I have to find, and learn, substitutes for some of the applications I use (e.g., HTML editor, file backup utility, photo editor, iTunes, etc.).
  • My scanner is absolutely, unequivocally, not supported by any flavour of Linux. (Thanks a heap, Canon. Canon is on record as having no interest in supporting Linux for any of their products.)
  • I don’t know if the custom features for my keyboard and mouse will work.
  • I don’t know if there is a “suspend” mode that is as reliable as what I’m used to (I use “suspend” on a daily basis).
  • Although it is quick to install, it will probably take me weeks to get fully up to speed as I endlessly track down the various tweaks, applications, and goodies I need to make it work the way I want.

Reinstall Windows XP; Pros

  • No surprises. Once the job is done, it’s business as usual except faster and smoother.
  • Although the reinstall will be slower than installing Ubuntu, the whole process will be faster in the long run.
  • I get to keep using the apps I like.

Reinstall Windows XP; Cons

  • I don’t get to stick it to Microsoft.
  • I don’t get to knotch up my geek quotient.
  • Assurance of having a really bad day, as the process of dealing with Windows, multiple updates, multiple software installs, multiple reboots, etc., is sure to throw me into a tailspin of anger and despair.

I’ll probably do one or the other next weekend. Please vote in the poll below to help me decide.


(One vote per IP address. If you see the results but no voting buttons, you – or someone else at your IP address – have already voted.)

My “Test the Nation” Score

CBC runs the occasional “Test the Nation” quiz show on TV, and while I’ve had a mild interest in playing along I always manage to miss it. It ran again last night (the “trivia” version), and Martine and I recorded it although we only watched it for a few minutes. Doing so prompted me to go to the CBC web site at lunch time today and do the test online.

As you will know if you’ve ever seen the show, CBC invites people from various walks of Canadian life to attend the show live, in the studio, and to play together in groups according to interests or profession. Last night’s show was interesting because one of the competing groups was a collection of 36 Bloggers, including local representatives Hugh McGuire, Julien Smith, and Craig Silverman. Happily, and perhaps not unexpectedly, the bloggers kicked ass, winning the game over the other groups (celebrity lookalikes, cab drivers, chefs, backpackers, and flight crews). The average blogger score was 50 out of 60.

my score

rankingsI scored 48 out of 60 when I did the test, although there were two answers that I knew I got wrong the second I submitted them. But close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades (and drive-in movies, soft shit fights, and Florida elections) so I must accept my below average (at least for a blogger) standing.

On the other hand, the tests rankings puts me near the top of the “world wide wonder” category, whatever that means, so I guess it’s not so bad.

How about you? What did you score?