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Moving house; pessimistic moanings; estate agents; Linux... - Life, hate it or ignore it, you can't like it...
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Moving house; pessimistic moanings; estate agents; Linux...
Hey. Yes I'm still alive. Yeah, I've still been lurking and posting comments and generally been lazy and the suchlike. Granted, I'll probably post this entry and then disappear into the abyss again...

Angela and I have just moved apartments. This is a fairly common occurrence for student types around this time of year, but it's not something I've ever done before without a stay at my parents over the summer. Plus in my previous houses someone else had always taken the responsibility of getting final meter readings and retrieving the deposit etc., so there have been some fun new experiences thrown in there.

I am convinced that I'm in some way clairvoyant when it comes to predicting how such transactions will go i.e. that if something can go wrong, it will. Call me pessimistic, and...well, you'd be correct. Just to list a few examples:

  • I turn up at the estate agent's in the morning, as instructed by said agents, only to be told they don't have the keys for the house (the landlord hadn't given them any);

  • British Gas couldn't find any record of the new house having a gas meter (it was registered with the property next door, which is owned by the same landlord);

  • The old landlord didn't know where the old apartment's electricity meter was, and when we found out it was in a locked cupboard accessible by only the caretaker, the caretaker wasn't in (he kindly phoned us our meter reading later in the day);

  • The Virgin Media technician managed to set up our pin wrong, so we were locked out of our TV for a while;

  • Said technician also replaced our modem for no given reason, and forgot to tell the system that he had. This locked us out of our broadband. Thus I had to call Bangalore on 25p/min only to be told that the people I needed to talk to to fix the problem were on the freephone line;

  • We went to Ikea and bought two sets of shelves for Angela's book collection (extensive) only to get home and realise that we should have bought three really (they were only £12 each);

  • We spent 2 hours previous to the Ikea trip waiting for an estate agent at the old property for our final inspection, only to be told that said agent had forgotten to tell anyone and wasn't around in any case...

Ok, so most of those are minor problems, but when you're wading through boxes and every second phrase you utter is "Angela, where did you/I/the Pope pack this/that/the other...?" you start to want to bash your head against the wall when other people start behaving like morons. The first and last points were probably the most annoying. This is why I'm home today, as I'm going to try and get in contact with the old estate agents to organise another viewing time. I get the feeling they may say they're busy now because all the undergrads are moving in, in which case they may just get an earful...

Enough moaning. The new apartment is excellent - very good furnishing, décor and fittings, in a relatively quiet part of town. It's very close to where I used to live as an undergrad in fact. It's got two bedrooms, both with en suite toilet/shower rooms, a living room/kitchen diner and a separate toilet (yes, three toilets for the two of us, must think students eat a lot of curries). The kitchen has a big fridge-freezer, a nice electric oven and, most importantly of all, a dishwasher. We bought the previous tenant's washing machine from them, which may seem like a boring point except we've been living without one for a while since our old machine's door fell off (thankfully while it was empty).

The living room has a "media centre" the Power Rangers would be proud of i.e. it's made of a load of random TV stands/DVD racks/shelves stuck together into one super-DVD-book-TV stand. It looks quite impressive from what little distance you can view it from. Eventually the assorted kit on there will be joined by my old PC in a new case as a sort of media-centre-esque type-thing. It's probably not going to function like a £1,000 bought-off-the-shelf media centre, but at least it should be able to play music and videos via the hi-fi and the TV.

The media-centre will also be running Linux, which is an interesting experience. The learning curve for Linux is steeper than trying to cross a hump-back bridge on the underside. Although modern distros such as Ubuntu happily install in a calm and friendly fashion, the moment you want to do anything complicated, like, say, install some graphics drivers, you have to delve into the command prompt and a whole world of hurt for a newbie. The main problem I'm having is a lot of the time I'm reading and copy-pasting from beginners-Linux websites, which is fine except they don't explain what they're doing. It'll get the job done, but why am I typing all these flags and symbols? Why can't it be like Windows where to install some drivers you just double-click on an icon?

I eventually found after about a week of fiddling (first on VirtualBox virtualised systems, which I found you can't install graphics drivers on anyway) that you can download an automatically install drivers via the add/remove programs application. By which time I'd already got it working (via several re-installs after I'd screwed the xorg.conf file) via the command prompt.

Linux. User friendly? Yes, if all you want to do is surf the web and do some office stuff via OpenOffice.org. Try and doing anything even slightly off the road-map however, and you're on a one-way street to a console-induced headache.

And don't get me started on Linux forums, which seem to be packed with a load of arseholes who seem to feel that it's their divine right to run free software, and anyone who stayed with Windows for a bit longer than them is someone to be derided and sneered at. Why do these people seem to stick around the newbies forums when they obviously hate them so much?

Anyway, I get the feeling the last few paragraphs probably alienated most of the three-and-half people who read this by talking geek, so I'll end this post now. Got to go shout at some estate agents. Then try and sort out the water bill. Then try and actually make it into Uni...

I'm feeling...: tired tired
My tunes: Barenaked Ladies - Easy

10 complaints or Talk to me
keletkezes From: keletkezes Date: September 3rd, 2007 12:23 pm (UTC) (Find this here)
I always thought of installing Linux, then I heard what problems people who have tons more computer experience than me had doing the 'simplest' things, so I decided against it. Besides, I made Word work for me (by bashing the paperclip's face in, mostly).

Also, I'm coming down your way on Wednesday: we're viewing the works at Millburn House on Westwood Campus so we can make sure it's not going any more tits-up than we already know it is.

Sounds like you had tons more problems than we did. Good luck with them!
piphil From: piphil Date: September 3rd, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC) (Find this here)
Linux is quite a lot of fun for the basics, and all the major things are covered, along with some more advanced things like photo editing and music creation. It's the fact that sharing folders with Windows PCs seems to require in-depth knowledge. And the fact that installing drivers for my Soundblaster card (hardly rare) requires you to compile your own kernal!

I'm assuming you're meaning the tennis centre, or is this something else? I don't know Westwood campus all that well (apart form the games hall, which is where our archery club practices). Are you on a strict timeframe or do you have time for a meet-up or visit afterwards?
keletkezes From: keletkezes Date: September 4th, 2007 12:12 pm (UTC) (Find this here)
Helps if I log in. I'm 'hotdesking' today (which is not nearly as interesting or exciting as it sounds) because we've got the new corporate furniture being delivered.
emmavescence From: emmavescence Date: September 3rd, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC) (Find this here)
My lack of Linux knowledge is somewhat shameful for someone identifying as Geek. I've always vaguely meant to try installing it (or even just running a Ubuntu LiveCD thingy), but never quite got around to it. Partly because it's scary, and I'd probably get thrown sharply into the deep end. Plus Windows does pretty much what I want it to, and messing with that on the computer I use constantly is scary indeed. I'm going to have to learn soon though, since I'm doing the CompTIA Linux+ course/qualification in the near future. I'm going to pilfer my brother's desktop PC so I can take it apart and put it back together again, and network it with mine and stuff. I think it might get partitioned and Linuxed up too. No idea where I'm going to put a desktop PC in the room I'm moving to, which isn't very large... and it'll be damn weird to work on a desktop rather than a laptop. But they recommend strongly you have a couple of computers handy to practice networking with, and the dismantling is necessary too. Hell, I'm going to need to buy some tools...

Your new apartment does indeed sound good! Good to hear you're not dead :)
piphil From: piphil Date: September 3rd, 2007 09:29 pm (UTC) (Find this here)
That's the main problem with Linux - it will drop you in the deep end. I think the main problem is there are too many distros. They can't release universal driver packages for example, so you have to download the one compiled on the distro's server. That's fine for thing like graphics card, where the code rarely changes, but as I'm finding with the sound cards, sometimes it can be a complete pain. Because there are so many sound chips even within the same range of cards, they don't even have standard distro packages, and the thought of recompiling the kernel frightens me somewhat. This is a bit of a pain given this is eventually going to be a media system...

Windows is a lot better than people given it credit for. XP is stable, easy to use and secure, all without a lot of fiddling. Almost everything installs via a single file, double-click and go, with a nice wizard interface. And it is quite cheap - £60 for the OEM Home version, which is supported and updated for a number of years. Apple release new versions of OSX every couple of years, and each costs £100 for the same features as XP updated via Windows update.
rebeltrouser From: rebeltrouser Date: September 3rd, 2007 03:53 pm (UTC) (Find this here)
ahhh, the joy of moving! nice to see someone else having a "fun" time of it as well :-) at least yours didn't take 7 hours because of your husband's massive book collection (not that your husband has...well, you know). we bought more bookshelves and there's still books on the floor over here. alas, alas.

if it helps we're STILL wrangling with british gas over our previous address's bill, 4 months later. so count yourselves lucky!
piphil From: piphil Date: September 3rd, 2007 09:32 pm (UTC) (Find this here)
Angela does have quite a large book collection. I get the feeling your beloved likes to collect on quite a grand scale however. :-P

I've heard horror stories about nearly every utility and media provider. It seems these days that the individual companies are getting so bit they can't cope, and it only takes a couple of loose clicks by the operator to send the entire situation into a tail-spin. Still, I seem to be quite lucky in such situations...
rebeltrouser From: rebeltrouser Date: September 4th, 2007 10:40 am (UTC) (Find this here)
grand scale is something of an understatement. we don't even have all the books here- there's an atticfull in wales which I shudder to contemplate!

well done for your luck- treasure it! we've been ok with everyone except british gas, who cock up in such a massive level as to cancel out the efficiency of all our other utilities. still, keeps life interesting, no?
miranda_jane From: miranda_jane Date: September 3rd, 2007 07:04 pm (UTC) (Find this here)
Oh dear. I used Linux for ten years - without knowing how it worked - and after the demise of my computer, switched to a Mac three months ago. Mmm, apple. It's blissful - expensive, but blissful!
piphil From: piphil Date: September 3rd, 2007 09:33 pm (UTC) (Find this here)
Linux seems to be fine as long as you don't do anything complicated. I like to fiddle, so I'm a bit at sea here. The box I have set up will surf the net and print and so on with no problem. What I'm slightly annoyed about is it seems to be quite hard for a beginner to do networking stuff with Windows machines, which in Windows is extremely easy...

Time to get a "Ubuntu for Idiots" book I think!
10 complaints or Talk to me