Another one bites the dust

It’s really not my fortnight. First my PC goes down taking my last six months’ work with it. Then the hi-fi on my desk dies. And this evening my belovéd Nokia 6100 mobile phone was ringing, while I was on a call on the land line, I picked up the phone and it powered off, never to power on again.

I’ve transferred my SIM card to Jane’s old Nokia 6100, but I didn’t realise that my contacts were all stored in my phone’s memory and not on the SIM. More data loss! And I’ve lost my wallpapers, my ringtones, and my Java games (Space Invaders and Mah Jong).

I’ve had a shocking day today. I’ve felt so low, so lowsy, so lacking in self-confidence or self-belief … and all the bits of technology that I put my trust in have packed in. *Insert your own expletive of choice here*!

Blog down

Odd, both my email and my blog went down this afternoon. They’re both back for now, albeit very slow.

Server problems I fear at Pipex, although their system status page is next to useless. It appears to only advertise the planned outages, rather than what’s actually happening. Which isn’t any use.

I had a much better service when HostEurope owned WebFusion. It all started going downhill when Pipex bought them out. I would move if it wasn’t such a hassle, and I do find the MyServerWorld admin backend more useful than many I’ve experienced.

I’d host my own, if I could be bothered. It may come to that once Telewest upgrade our broadband connection to 10Mbps. According to that website we should be upgraded by the end of October. How exciting.

Online radio

Yesterday my stereo died.

I’d noticed on Friday that it was playing back both CDs and radio with some degree of distortion, then yesterday it was spontaneously resetting itself, wiping the stored radio channels and the cassette deck (the what?!) was switching itself off, with no cassette in, and making a continuous clicking noise.

It did that for the last time while I was out conducting a service at an old folks’ home, Jane strode through to my study and switched the unit off. We’ve not been able to switch it back on since.

So I’m having to find new ways to listen to the radio and my wall of cassettes: Real Player for radio (I usually only listen to BBC Radio 1, 2 and 4, and occasionally 6Music and Radio 7), and I’ll need to wire in my cassette deck to my PC soundcard once again … if only I had the PlusDeck2!

I suspect that when I get round to replacing this hi-fi I’ll go for separates from Richer Sounds to join my Sherwood double cassette deck. (I can’t believe that some people don’t know about Richer Sounds. It’s a wonderful chain of stores.)

MSN Messenger for Psion

When my PC went down a couple of weeks ago my trusty Wi-Fi-ed Psion Series 7Book came to the rescue for instant-on web access, email and even MSN.

That was my great discovery the week before I trashed my hard drive, and just in time too. MSN2Go is “the world’s first free web-based MSN client to be created in the form of a Java applet”. Not content to leave it there, a group of Psion programmers wrote a Psion-specific installation application and ‘Java wrapper’ making installation a simple case of running the .sis file.

MSN2Go for EPOC screenshot
MSN2Go running on a Psion 7Book, with two chat windows open. (Email addresses have been pixelated to protect the innocent.)

While MSN2Go has neither the features of MSN 7.5, nor is it as polished an application, that doesn’t seem to matter. It’s simply a joy to be able to connect to my MSN Messenger friends on a truly portable device.

The actual MSN2Go client is slightly too wide for the Psion Java wrapper, which means that when you run it the sign in button is only partially visible, but visible enough to use. One slight nag is that the client doesn’t remember your username and password. But once entered and the sign in button clicked logging on is very quick; the connection status window keeps you up to speed on what is happening.

The main contacts window shows a list of who is Online and who is Offline, listed by MSN nickname and email address. Their status is shown on the left:

[AWY] Away
[BSY] Busy
[IDL] Idle
[NLN] Online

Double-tapping a contact brings up the chat window. The major portion of the window is given over to your chat history, the lower part is where you type your message, beside which is a fat button marked “Send”. And beneath that is a status dialog telling you when the other user has closed the window or is typing a message. It’s simple, but wonderfully effective.

One conversation from a couple of weeks ago:

Gareth: Guess where I am
James: On your Psion?
Gareth: Yes, but where?
James: In the garden?
Gareth: Close. I'm sitting on the doorstep.
James: Why?
Gareth: ... because I can!

Instant-on, portable, wireless internet connection to my friends via MSN2Go for Psion. Life just doesn’t get much better than that!*

This evening it took me about 30 minutes to find the MSN2Go application for Psion. To save me again, and anyone else who needs it, I’ve uploaded it to my blog.

Download: MSN2Go for Psion ( 28 KB

(*Actually, I’m quite sure it does!)

Words of wisdom


This morning I received a gift in the post. It was from a Joinee friend of mine, Claire. She wrote in the accompanying note:

Hello you. Here is the present I saw in Padstow (hold it to your ear and you can hear the sea) and thought of you – obviously!

So I opened the envelope further and pulled out a green bookmark, turned it over, and there in all its wonderous glory was an orange … thing (I think it’s supposed to be a cat), holding out at full-stretch a door handle. Beneath it the following:

Unless provoked, never get your knob out in church.

And beneath that “Words of Wizzdum by Clive Gardner“. Wise words indeed. I guess. Thank you Claire.

What I really liked was the warning on the reverse of the bookmark:

This bookmark will not provide protection against fire, flood, nuclear attack or very large mad people with pointy sticks.

In a culture where too many people are needlessly sued I think it’s both a refreshing and a sensible course of action to print such a caveat in bold letters on this product.

Why do people keep sending me things like this? My good friend Danny Curtis often sends me stuff like this.