Scary! ( the US election, I mean)

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Lake Eyre from the air.  © The Light Collective

Ha! I’m writing this at 4.30am after waking at 3am and being unable to get back to sleep. I’m “ripping” CDs, and the title of the first track of the first CD, a Handel disc is “Oh sleep, why dost thou leave me?”  Oh, ya gotta larf.

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I’m addicted to this CD ripping. I’m not sure why; it seems to be the pleasure at discovering CDs that I’d forgotten I have, and seeing the massive list of folders growing on the hard drive. In the classical category, I’m up to 169, and non-classical (everything else) is 294. So far. I’m less than half way to finishing.

Funnily, I’m finding I have multiple copies of a few CDs. I have two copies of the one I’m doing at this moment, and I have three copies of another! I forget what I’ve got when I’m out shopping and browsing.

I sing the praises of this ripping software, dbPoweramp. It extracts all the track names, saving me a massive amount of time and effort, and also finds images of the covers, so that you can recognise a CD at a glance. Sometimes it can’t find a suitable image (it searches the web) and I’ll have to go back and maybe digitally change what it finds to read correctly. For example, I just ripped a Mahler Symphony no. 7 disc, but the best image I could see was for no. 6. I’ll go back later and change that number by pasting over it.

Some discs don’t have a suitable cover image at all, and I may start taking photos or scans of my actual covers. That would be quite a lot of work, so only maybe.

Another point is that I’m storing all the digital copies on an external 2TB drive. That’s Terabyte. So far, the drive is 50.566% full. As it represents a massive investment of time and effort, I want a backup. The only way to backup such a big drive is to copy to another big drive. I’ll have to buy another one. Ho hum. Who would have believed 20 years ago that we would be wrangling such huge amounts of data? It’s amazing. I can remember around 1993 when I wanted to buy a 1GB drive. It was going to cost about $200 but it seemed as if that would hold my entire digital image collection with space to spare. Hah! Not even close. Now even a 1 Terabyte drive seems small. But so relatively cheap. I’ve seen a 5TB drive for $170. Affordable, do-able.

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My next big job? Above is the stack of my diaries dating from 1993. I didn’t write in detail, just brief entries listing important events that I needed to remember and receipts. They are not my life story and there’s no scandal, sorry. I got very enthusiastic in about 2001 and stuck all my supermarket till slips for the whole year in there for future price reference. Unfortunately most of the ink has faded.

I don’t want to keep them, but I can’t bear to throw them out. So I’ve decided I want to scan all the pages with important entries on them, and make PDF files of each year. Then I can throw the physical books out. Not a hard job, but it’ll take a few weeks’ work.

I don’t bother keeping a diary any more, by the way. I do write down every cent I spend in a notebook and write in needed reminders about when I went to the doctor or specialist, etc. And the entries for items are their own record, e.g. car tyres or whatever.

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In the laughing category again, I heard a cricketer on the news last night say that the WACA ground is “one of the world’s unique grounds.” Think about that. Unique means one of a kind, one only. So how can something be “one of a collection of unique things”?

I should be grateful he didn’t say it’s iconic.

Another good one is “pre-prepared”. Think about that. Prepared means made beforehand. So how can you pre-prepare something? How can you do or make something before you make it? It’s impossible.

I continue to be driven mad by “y’know”. Listen to the radio or TV. People use y’know every few words, even people who should be good speakers, even BBC announcers. It’s a plague!

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Another funny incident. I was supposed to have received a parcel delivery of some books yesterday, from Australia Post. They emailed me that the delivery had been made, but I haven’t seen it.

At 5pm I heard some thumps outside and looked out to see a white truck with red lettering parked on my verge lawn. Aha, I thought, and went out to speak to the driver. I said I was expecting this delivery but it hadn’t come. He said he was trying to find number 10, but looked through his order book. While he was doing that, I looked more closely at the truck. Duh!! It was a Coles delivery truck, not Australia Post. White truck, red lettering – I didn’t read it closely. No wonder the driver was confused. We had a good laugh.

But I still haven’t got my books, $47 worth. That’s not funny.

STOP PRESS: I had a look at 9am and my parcel was there. But it was torn open and on the ground next to my letterbox. Strange, was it delivered to another address, and they had a look and decided it wasn’t worth keeping? Did someone steal it yesterday and reject it too. But why bring it back? Oh well, it’s a mystery and I’ve got my books, so it’s OK. Uh oh, what if they’ve been read!

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Ain’t that nice?  © ABC News

I predicted that our cold spring would change suddenly and it nearly happened on Saturday, with 37degC., but we’re back to the low 20s again. Very strange weather. It was the coldest September on record, I believe, and the coldest October for 11 years. Odd.

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I’ve finished the book, The Man Who Saw Infinity by Robert Kanigel, the biography of Srinivasa Ramanujan 1888-1920, the maths prodigy who produced a massive amount of new work around the start of the 20th century. It’s an amazing book, with incredible detail of his early life and where he lived in south India and Madras. It also told me a lot more than I knew about Cambridge University in England. What a fabulous place.

By the way, just think about the consequences of an all-out nuclear war. Places like this, and in Rome and Greece, which date from the medieval times or earlier, would be erased from the face of the Earth. All civilisation’s magnificent history, art and culture. I think about this more these days because if that madman Trump were elected POTUS, we would be in grave danger from him and the Russians. There are nuclear missiles aimed here, you know, at the RAN submarine base at Garden Island. We, in little old Perth, would be erased too. Gee, what was that flash? I’m more frightened now than I was in the Cold War.

Anyway, back to the book. It’s a bit hard going but I’m very glad I’ve read it. I know now what the TRIPOS exam is at Cambridge, and what the Senior Wrangler is. What a strange name to give the first place-getter in the maths exams at Cambridge. There are second, third, fourth wranglers and so on, of course, but to be Senior Wrangler is to be the pre-eminent mathematician in Britain and is hugely prestigious. Ramanujan’s sponsor when he came to England in 1916 was G.H. Hardy, who held this Senior Wrangler position. Yet he, Hardy, stood in awe of Ramanujan, calling him “the most intuitive and original mathematician” he had ever known. The man was a freak of nature. Original mathematics formulas, equations, and concepts came to him as if by magic. He was a genius.

Unfortunately, he was felled by TB and died at the age of 32. Even right up to the last weeks of his life, he was still producing original, inspired maths. We’ll never know what he could have done had he lived to a normal old age.

So on Sunday night I watched the DVD movie starring the Indian actor Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons. It was good, if you hadn’t read the book, but it was so abbreviated to fit into a 100 minute time limit that huge sections of Ramanujan’s life are missing or brushed over. His arranged marriage to a 13 year old bride when he was 18 is not mentioned, and although she stars in the movie, they don’t even say her name, Janaki, until right near the end. The importance of his mother is also glossed over. Steven Fry is listed as one of the big stars of the movie, but his part is quite minor, no more than about two minutes on screen.

I recommend the movie, but please read the book. It’s hard going, but I’m hugely glad I read it.

That makes a trio of books I’ve read recently that have been very satisfying: the biographies of Alan Turing, the maths and computer genius in the 1940s and 50s, and the biography of our current cosmology genius, Stephen Hawking. The Turing book is another that goes into very great detail and is a bit hard going, but very rewarding. The Hawking book is written by his wife Jane and is also very insightful and warm. She is an academic herself, in both music and early Spanish literature, but had to go through an awful life with Hawking, both from his disability and as he fell under the spell of his nurse, forcing his wife to leave. She found love with another guy, but feels very hurt by her treatment.

By the way, why hasn’t Stephen Hawking won a Nobel prize? He deserves it, surely? The reason is that prize winners’ research has to be verifiable and reproducible by other scientists. But cosmology by its nature can not be proven. It’s nearly all conjecture. Maybe he will be awarded a Nobel one day, but nothing so far.

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My saga with the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro S tablet/laptop, where a BIOS change automatically applied by Samsung made it go wrong, and it was away for six weeks with no fix, has been resolved.

When I finally got it back, there was no change. It still couldn’t be made to sleep by pushing the power button was unchanged. Then it developed another problem, where I couldn’t even power it off! Pressing the power button brought up the wallpaper screen and a message to “Swipe down to Power Off.” But doing that just made it stay on. Crazy. I had to repeatedly press and hold the power button to turn it off. There’s no other way, by the way.

Then last Friday night an update for “Samsung Update” arrived (yeah, an update for an update). The next day, a Saturday, another BIOS update arrived. This time it fixed the problems and it all works properly now (except the volume buttons are still reversed). This update also coincided with a massive Windows 10 update from Microsoft, so it was a very busy machine for a few hours. Many reboots.

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I’m annoyed by another problem with it, though. The tablet only has one USB-C port for everything, charging included. So I bought a Targus “Powered 4-Port USB Hub with Fast Charging” so that I could charge and use external USB devices at the same time. The device name sounds as if it will do that, right? It cost $79. It has a plug pack for power, a USB-C cable to connect to the tablet, and three other USB ports.

But I found that none of the USB ports are recognised by the tablet via the USB-C cable. Huh? So I got onto Targus in Sydney and described the problem.

It turns out that what I want is simply not possible. You can’t send power through the USB-C port and send/receive data at the same time. The only way to use this hub is to connect one of the USB-A ports via an adapter cable to the USB-C port for data, but that means the power is not supplied. And the adapter cable is only USB 2.0, not USB 3.0. Therefore this hub is simply not suitable. It won’t work in the way I expected it to from the description.

I told this to Targus and they agreed. I said I wanted to return it for a refund and they agreed, but I have to go back to JB HiFi where I bought it and explain it all to them. Targus said I can show JB the emails. Of course, the packaging was one of those sealed plastic packs that you have to destroy to open, so I’ll be taking the bits back in a plastic bag. I can’t find the receipt at the moment either. Grrr.

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