Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

What I’ve been up to lately

I know, I’ve lapsed again…


The surprise, in the end, wasn’t one. We were going to surprise my auntie and uncle with a family get-together at my cousin Elaine’s house in Elloughton, a village just outside Hull – we meet there since it is the largest house (5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms and 3 living rooms). Elaine’s husband is a Systems Architect for Novell, which is why they can afford such a house. The day was enjoyable – we had a nice lunch and a good natter, mostly about what I’m doing at university – David, Elaine’s brother, went to Bradford university and lives in Manchester so mum was asking him questions about what it is like. Honestly, mothers.
We arrived back in York quite late, and I seem to have gone down with a horrible cold, so almost as soon as I got home I went into a hot bath, which is why I didn’t update.


My excuse for Sunday is that I couldn’t use the computer for most of the day since my mother had monopolised it. She’s got a report to finish for Thursday, which will help her charity International Service get nearly £1million to fund projects in West Africa and South America.


Monday was the day I returned to College after Easter, and I have to say it was nice to see everyone again. The college computers had been upgraded – a mixed blessing since it meant that running a program took much longer since it had to be downloaded from the network server especially. It took 10 minutes to get into Word 97, for example. But it did mean we were now using Novell Client 4.83, which I believe includes Windows XP compatibility. Though on a network with workstations running NT4.0, that’s not entirely useful.


Today was a little annoying since the teacher I had for my first lesson (Geography) didn’t tell us he was on a course, so we had to do a timed essay. Fortunately, it was the same question as had been set the previous day, so it’s saved me from doing some homework. I also found my ‘Leaving Book’, a book signed by friends of mine from my secondary school. It was quite interesting to read it and see how many of them I’m still in touch with, which, for the record, is about half to two thirds. I’m going to get another book for this year (in fact I was in Tesco looking for one), since I may not see many of my current friends again.
Today was also the day of the funeral of our Queen Mother, who died last Saturday. While I felt that some mark of respect was necessary, I was annoyed that many shops shut down for the duration of the funeral, even the likes of Tesco, which hasn’t been shut at any time on a Tuesday since Christmas. But, well, it’s over now. For the record, the Queen Mum is the only royal I have ever seen in person – I saw her at the Imperial War Museum in London, though I was only very small and only have a vague recollection of seeing her.
I also saw an interesting article in the Guardian about exam boards – Clearing a path – where the chief executive of UCAS proposed that we have just one exam board for the whole of England. Currently there are three – AQA, OCR and EdExcel – down from many more which existed towards the latter ends of the 90s. I’d support this – EdExcel has shown how incompetent it is, and it would mean that results could be published sooner. It would also remove the element of competition that exists between the boards – there are often accusations that the boards are making concessions in the marking to encourage more schools to sign up.


Today was the final hand-in for my French coursework – although it was due in before Easter we were given a little extra time to make adjustments – namely to sort out grammar and to create second copies. Geography was cancelled, so I’ve had the afternoon at home to get this finished – I really do apologise for the time it has taken, especially since I started writing this on Sunday.
I’d also like to announce a project that I’m working on – I’m writing an eBook! Chris has set up GnomeTomes – downloadable eBooks with either 50 or 100 tips, costing US$5 or $10 (£3.50 or £7) respectively. My first eBook will be 50 tips for speeding up Windows (currently on number 9 but I have more to come), and I may also go on to write some quick reference HTML and CSS books.
It may seem surprising that I am charging for these books, but basically I need the money for university, and writing about something that I know about and enjoy doing is an offer that’s too good to miss. Besides, web sites take up time to keep running – this is a ‘write-it-and-forget-about-it’ project. Chris has already seen 5 of the tips, and he likes what he sees, so hopefully I’ll actually have enough money to get a bank account when I turn 18.
I’m also going to let you know in advance why I won’t be updating this weekend – I’m going to Brussels! The reason why my mother has to finish the report for Thursday is that we’re taking it with is to hand into the European Commission, and she doesn’t trust the post to get it in on time. That, and none of us have been to Brussels before, so it’ll be a nice experience. Hopefully I’ll be in tomorrow to update, but if not, I’ll see you on Monday with a report of what it was like 🙂

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