On having a deft touch (not)

This morning I put three minor edits in to Episode 2 of Shelved (the sitcom I’m working on).

The trouble is that the minor edits (and they really were very minor) had a cascade effect.

Episode 3 had a corresponding scene tweak which led to Episode 4 having a comedic device upgrade. As a result, Episode 5 had a re-characterisation and Episode 6 is up for a rewrite tomorrow.

Which is critical really; Episode 6 being the season climax.

In the last draft I thought Episode 6 was right, but with the new thin end of the ‘change wedge’ springing from the scene tweak in Ep 3, the first five episodes now feel tighter; better knitted together.

The dialogue has better structure, the visuals are leaner but more effective and there’s a new running gag which could feed a second season.

I know I suffer from Compulsive Editing Syndrome (and if that doesn’t exist, it really should!), but just once I’d like to stand back from a piece of fiction and be able to say ‘There, that’s finished!’

The hard thing, or so I’m told by the people who have successfully achieved this, is getting the pitch right and attracting the engagement of the commissioning powers.

But I’ve always had a difficulty in letting go, that’s my real problem.

Anyway.

In other news.

Sophie’s laptop has had life breathed in to it and is now almost silently whirring away, like an almost silently whirring thing.

It’s much faster than it ever has been too.

The hard-disk was fried which was why no amount of recovery procedures could get the thing back on its feet. Fiddling about with the registry isn’t going to work if the partitions are crumbling.

So it has a new hard-disk and a fresh install of XP.

I imported a backup of datafiles from one of the EDD’s I use as three-tiered backup devices.

And the hardest job encountered?

Getting the iTunes database to behave itself.

Really, iTunes, who’d have believed it?

As I was *manually* making squillions of adjustments to the content in that piece of Apple software, I was mentally composing a nested conditional SELECT statement and a corresponding nested UPDATE command which, between the two of them, would have tidied the 2,000+ song records, weeded out the duplicates which iTunes insisted on creating in the first place (because of a bad piece of re-routing in the most recent iTunes upgrade), renamed a few tracks to INITCAP *and* produced a tidy-up exception report, when I suddenly realised that my VB skills may not have worked on the Apple product anyway.

And then I thought ‘No, iTunes on XP has to be VB-compliant’.

But it was all academic anyway, because the exception-handling sub-routine would have needed to be about 80 lines long.

So I persevered and just did it manually.

What did I say about having a deft touch? Not?

But at least Soph’s back up and running, and I can now put my EDDs away.

So there is a slight feeling of satisfaction in this house tonight.

Feed reader question

… because these days we’re all using Web2.0 technology to read websites, right?

I have dumped Bloglines as my Web v2.0 Reader Of Choice.

See that blue shivering pile in the corner of the garden?

That’s Bloglines that is.

The replacement is Google Reader.

Now some folk might tut and shake their head at my tardiness in adopting Google Reader as my Web v2.0 Reader Of Choice, but the reason I didn’t adopt it earlier comes flooding back to me, now that I’m using the product.

Feed extracts.

A couple of websites I read show up as full-length articles in Bloglines, but they are only reproduced in extract format in Google Reader.

And yet they’re both reading *the same* RSS feeds.

I don’t get it.

So I have just typed the URI (not the feed address) for one of those websites in to the Google Reader subscription bar and guess what?

Yep, I’m now getting the full articles in Google Reader.

So what I have here, in my Google Reader account, are two subscriptions to the same RSS feed in the same Google Reader product, yet one subscription shows an extract of the original, while the other subscription shows the full Monty.

WTF?

Anyway, it’s an easy fix; I just follow the same process for the half-dozen other RSS feeds that were being truncated by Google Reader, delete the extract feeds and Robert’s your mother’s brother – job done.

I know this RSS reader stuff is so much easier than having to click through to every single website one wants to read on a daily basis, just to check if anything has updated, I just don’t understand where the gremlin in Google Reader’s functionality is.

Anyway, bye-bye Bloglines and welcome to my bosom Google Reader.

And to celebrate, here’s my word of the day:

Tit.

It’s Sunday evening, ho hum

Not exactly larkish behaviour, but I was up with the 7am alarm and out of the house by 8.

The roads to the stables were *very* interesting this morning; last night’s clear skies and accompanying sub-zero temperatures had made all of yesterday’s wet surfaces in to very slippery things.

I passed one car halfway in a hedge and saw another in a field.

I had a lesson booked with Tom for 9am but Owen, bless, was fashionably late. I really don’t mind his tardiness, it gave me a chance for a mug of tea and to spend quality time with the horses.

By 9.30 Tom and I were working-in, in the indoor arena; over the next 45 minutes Owen tested us with a series of showjumps that ranged from big, large-spread parallels to incredibly narrow ‘skinnies’.

By the end of the session we were jumping the track at the pace that *I* wanted, and Tom was jumping it very intelligently, going off a long, flying stride or a short one, as required.

In his summing-up Owen said we were nicely together and capable of going wherever I wanted us to go.

I wish I could say what this endorsement means to me. The only potential fly in the ointment is that I screw things up when we get out at competitions.

I came home and Sophie and I pottered around a little, then I showered, shaved, teethed and we went to bed.

We got up around 4pm and nipped in to Burford for a late lunch at the Little Chef.

And now it’s 7pm. Sophie’s doing the ironing in her Bridget Jones PJs, whilst watching Stephen Fry’s ‘America’ and I’m blogging whilst backing up my laptop to External Disk Drive (EDD) #2.

EDD #1 is, sadly, full up, so I’ve just bought another which I’ll run in parallel with EDD #2. It will be called, with startling originatlity, EDD #3.

In other news, I am desperately tired.

I read four hours of work-related papers yesterday when I would have liked to have been writing the sitcom (working title: ‘Sorted’ – though Sophie has just given me two possible titles: ‘On The Shelf’ being the better of the two).

Tom and I are due to compete at Allenshill on Friday; Owen is competing in the same class as us on a novice horse that belongs to one of the girls at the yard.

So no pressure on us then – competing against our trainer!

It’s going to be a mental week at work and I may end up riding at very late o’clock each evening.

Ho hum.

New Toy!

I have discovered Skype!

Thanks entirely to Allister down at the Sitting Duck Podcast I am now a member of the Skype gang.

Actually I’ve created two accounts, one for me and one for our little podcast because it’s logical to keep things apart.

How cool is Skype?

Free calls Skype to Skype?

I’m sorry, I’m starting to sound a little as if I’m a crazy convert.

Well der!

Backing up

beep beep beep

No, not the kind of backing up that one might do in a vehicle of some description.

Backing up your data.

I was having a twitter conversation with Nutty Cow who was asking stuff about backing up, when it struck me that I haven’t backed anything up for a week.

Shriek!

So now I am sitting here whilst my backing up routines run, erm, in the background.

Here’s how it goes in my world; every week I backup every file on this laptop and Sophie’s laptop on to a 1TB external disk drive (EDD).

And then I do it all again on to my standby 1TB EDD.

Then I log on to my web hosting account and trigger a backup all of the MySQL databases behind my various web-properties and I copy these backups on to my laptop and both of my EDDs.

Then I log on to my various web-properties and FTP a copy of every set of the htm/html, php and WordPress files on to laptop and both of my EDDs.

Why do I go to so much trouble?

I had a disk failure, once.

And the bad girls and boys are back

Email consters are starting to think a little bit. But just a little.

Those ‘I need to move £68 squillion through your bank account from this dodgy African country and for the use of your account I’ll leave behind a generous tip of £2.7 million’ emails are entertaining.

But what they’re not is believable.

So the email con-artists have raised their game, just a little.

This amusing little device fell in to my account:

from Gmail
reply-to Gmail

to
date 21 July 2009 10:46
subject Your Email Address

Dear Account Owner,
Dear Account User,

This Email is from Gmail customer care and we are sending it to every Gmail accounts owner for safety. We are having congestion due to the anonymous registration of Gmail accounts so we are shutting down some Gmail accounts and your account was among those to be deleted. We are sending this email to you so that you can verify and let us know if you still want to use this account. If you are still interested please confirm your account by filling the space below.Your User name, password, date of birth and your country information would be needed to verify your account.

Due to the congestion in all Gmail users and removal of all unused Gmail Accounts. Gmail would be shutting down all unused Accounts, you will have to confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Information below after clicking the reply button or your account will be suspended within 24 hours for security reasons.

* User name: ……………………….

* Password: …………………………..

* Date of Birth: ……………………….

* Country Or Territory: ………………..

Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his or her account within Seven days of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.

Thank you for using Gmail !

The Gmail Team
G MAI L BETA

So in the interest of providing a public service (don’t ask me why! I’m just feeling unusually beneficial to my fellow carbon-based life-forms today), here’s why you should just press the ‘Report Spam’ button – if you’re unfortunate enough to receive it:

fromGmail wcesssemembersss@verifsssscsss.com [Your first questions should be… who the hell is this?]
reply-toGmail pcesssemembersssssy@gmail.com [Your second question should be… who the hell is this?]
to
[Your third question should be: why isn’t your email address shown?]
date 21 July 2009 10:46
subject Your Email Address [that’s strange capitalisation!]

Dear Account Owner, [Google have your name. Yes they do. You gave it to them when you signed up for your googlemail/gmail account. So why isn’t it here?]
Dear Account User, [Eh? Why would they put two salutations, one after the other? And see above for name. We haven’t hit the body of text yet and already we’ve raised six very serious question]

This Email [strange capitalisation] is from Gmail [strange capitalisation, again] customer care and we are sending it to every Gmail accounts owner [accounts owner? What the fuck is an ‘accounts owner’?] for safety. We are having congestion [We are having congestion? Really, would Google phrase that in such an inarticulate manner? No, of course they wouldn’t] due to the anonymous registration of Gmail accounts so we are shutting down some Gmail accounts and your account was among those to be deleted. [Point 1. My account isn’t anonymous. Point 2. Was that sentence constructed by Fearne Cotton – or by someone else who speaks gibberish as their first language?] We are sending this email to you so that you can verify and let us know if you still want to use this account. [More bad grammar. And lack of punctuation] If you are still interested please confirm your account by filling the space below [More bad grammar] .Your User name, password, date of birth and your country information would be needed to verify your account. [The full-stop runs straight in to the Y, the capitalisation is incorrect and the sentence makes no sense unless the reader makes several intuitive leaps]

Due to the congestion in all Gmail users and removal of all unused Gmail Accounts. [More nonsensical gibberish] Gmail would be shutting down all unused Accounts, you will have to confirm your E-mail by filling out your Login Information below after clicking the reply button or your account will be suspended within 24 hours for security reasons. [Even more incomprehensible English, atrocious punctuation and a general lack of sense]

* User name: ……………………….

* Password: ………………………….. [What? Why would they need this? Come on people, think about it, why would they need this? If, (and that alone is a gigantic leap of astronomical proportions) if this email was valid all Google would need to do is ask the recipient to generate an email from the account in question. And since when does any reputable organisation ask for your password? If someone rang you up and asked for your bank details would you hand them over too? And your credit card security number?]

* Date of Birth: ………………………. [What?]

* Country Or Territory: ……………….. [Capitalisation!]

Warning!!! [Look, not even Google would use three exclamation marks] Account owner that refuses to update his or her account within Seven days of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently. [And that’s not even in English]

Thank you for using Gmail ! [So now we’re placing spacing between the final letter in a sentence and the punctuation?]

The bottom line here that this whole email is nothing more than a con and there are many, many signposts that it is a con! But, worryingly, there are reports that people are falling for it.

Why are people falling for it? That’s the question I’m really interested in finding an answer for!