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A brief, personal, look back at 2011 (and a peek at 2012)…

Posted Jan 03 2012 8:49am

Well, as I’ve said elsewhere (possibly to the point of tedium!), I’m happy I’m still here. Better yet, I’m actually feeling much more positive. Physically, I’m much the same (crappy, but least I’ve stopped going to sleep wondering if I’ll wake up, and not really caring if I didn’t), but psychologically there’s been a huge improvement.

So much so, in fact, that I’ve invested in a new computer (my bank has suspended interest on agreed overdrafts until April, which I’ve taken advantage of, and will have it paid back long before then). I had planned to upgrade the current one, but so much work would need doing in a very short space of time (not just the hardware, but reinstalling all the sodding software is daunting**), if I’m not to be offline for days, I just don’t have the energy. In the end, I bought the one above, which is way better than my upgrade would have been, and I already have a 64-bit copy of Windows 7 to take full advantage of the 6GB of memory. And I thought that, seeing I spend so much of my day on the thing, I might as well have a decent one.

**True, that’ll still need doing with the new one, but at least I won’t have to bugger about with the hardware first (not hard, just fiddly and best not rushed)! And all I’m installing, initially, is Office 2003, Firefox, MetroTwit, PSE8, and Gadwin PrintScreen (for screencaps). Anything else will be installed when I’m in the mood or as and when it’s needed.

And over the next few days I’ll be doing final backups of bookmarks, email, Contacts, and the current Desktop Contents folder – everything else is already backed up.

The current PC can then be upgraded at my leisure, and kept as a spare, just in case.

Before I can use the new one I’ll have to install a new PCI Ex wi-fi adapter as my old one is plain vanilla PCI, and won’t fit. I could buy a PCI to PCI Ex adapter for the old one, but at £36 it was way too expensive, and hunting down a PCI Ex wi-fi adapter was very much cheaper. Ditto a USB external fax modem (internal ones in the right fitting are elusive), sourced from Amazon, the only ones who had one at a sensible price (a tenner, delivered).

I’ve also ordered – and I should have thought of it at the time and saved on postage (the above two items had to be sourced elsewhere) – a PCI Ex USB card, to add a couple of extra ports and, while I’m at it, upgrade to USB 3 (backwards compatible so will work with all my USB 2 stuff).

The new machine has a 1TB HDD, so rather than install the old machine’s XP drive (and that machine is throwing up many pointless error messages which suggests something dire might be about to happen, either to HDD or motherboard), I’ll partition the new drive into two equal parts, putting Windows 7 on one, and XP on the other. I’ll need XP, at least for a while, as I’m by no means sure my HP Photosmart 7150 printer is compatible with Windows 7. HP are being too damn cagey about it.

My blog is still going from strength to strength, with 206,933 page views last year, which is 32,286 (a tad over 18%), up on 2010. On the writing side, I still managed to average over 1 post a day in what has been, physically and emotionally, a very trying year.

The focus of my blog changed considerably last year, too, from around the third quarter onwards, becoming increasingly personal, and scaling back the political stuff, partly because I was simply too ill to sustain the anger, and partly because I was so pissed off seeing stuff I’d written a year or two earlier reappearing and being lauded as someone else’s original work. No, I’m not accusing anyone of plagiarism – but only because I can’t prove it, as I’m certain that, in a couple of cases, that’s what it was – but they weren’t dumb enough to copy it verbatim, and you can’t prove the provenance of an idea.

I had expected the hit rate to diminish with the change but, to my surprise, it increased dramatically and more or less steadily, from 12,106 in July to 25,025 in December. It also brought in an almost 50% increase in the number of subscribers, taking their numbers to 160. Must be doing something right, then.

So, what else is new? Well, if I want to capitalise on not being dead yet, I need to scale my drinking way back. For whatever reason ( Furosemide is one), I have relatively little tolerance for alcohol, compared to even a year ago (over Christmas and New Year, for example, one glass of port and I’d sleep for hours!). It might be age related, it might be because I’m very much weaker, physically, than I was a year ago (just discovered I need two hands to use a garlic press – not happy about that), and maybe it’s because my heart’s buggered (which it is, the only bone of contention being the degree), Or maybe it’s all those things, plus the effects on my liver of having taken so many (prescription), drugs for so long.

While having another look through my medical records, I spotted something else that I didn’t know about when I went into Arrowe Park Hospital in January, and which I’d overlooked through being totally pissed off with the whole thing as it’s largely fiction – the discharge report quite conspicuously lists Ischaemic Heart Disease. That won’t be helping  either.

But why – other than being an utterly useless bugger – has my GP not picked up on that, and treated it? OK, not a lot to do, as I don’t smoke so he can’t nag me about that, and exercise just isn’t possible, but statins couldn’t hurt.

I have an appointment with a cardiologist on January 9. Unfortunately, it’s at Arrowe Park Hospital, so I’m not overly confident of one doctor saying of another, “Ah, yes, sorry, Mr. Graves, my colleague fucked up!” And to add insult to injury, APH is a very hostile environment for wheelchair users which, in a hospital, is inexcusable.

Now then, what is it with people on Twitter? Don’t get me wrong, I love Twitter, and I’ve made some very good friends there, but please, folks, don’t appeal for people to follow you. It’s demeaning.

People acquire followers because others like what they’re doing, and find them interesting, they – and you – build up followers through the quality of their contributions to Twitter. If you want followers – work for it like the rest of us (by which I don’t mean endlessly retweeting until you’re blocked or unfollowed because you’re swamping timelines with unwanted tweets), but writing original tweets.

It’s the same with blogs. If you write quality posts then you’ll attract readers – er, that’s it. It’s all about quality, plus a subject that people want to read about – and that there are so many who want to read about me is still an amazing thought). And frequency of course – once you’ve caught somebody’s eye, you have to keep them interested. OK, there’s always the Daily Mail effect – write total garbage and you’ll still attract some readers – but is that what you really want?

Ask yourself, before you publish a blog post – does this work, and would I want to read it if someone else had written it? If the answer to either is no, don’t just say sod it and publish anyway, go and write something else! If you want the respect of your readers, you have to respect them.

On the bread-making front – sausages, too – I’ve long wanted to include videos of the process or, at least, sequential stills. Ideally a remote webcam, which my new PC will have the power to handle – depends what the buggers cost – will be the solution to video, as I can wall-mount it above my workspace (showing people how to knead, for example, is far easier than describing the process). If the remotes are too expensive, my little Canon Ixus 860IS – which is what I currently use for stills but also takes video – will be pressed into service with the addition of a higher-capacity SD card. One way or another I’ll do my best to make it happen – the big problem being locating the camera away from possible contamination by flour (bloody stuff gets everywhere!).

And finally, as I said a short while ago, I really must get out more, and if that happens, I’ll be taking my camera with me, so there will be pics too. Not before time, either – I’ve not taken a single outdoors pic since 2009.

Watch this space…


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