Posted by: Andrew Skelton | 25/04/2012

Eats Shoots and Leaves***


Blimey, Dear Reader, that was a long blog yesterday – I don’t know what came over me – it must have been the cocktail of painkillers I was taking for my bad back that resulted in the longest blog so far. If you managed to get to the end without falling asleep at your computer then you have greater resistance to my somnolent scribbles than I do.

With the Dartmoor Zoo training course over, there’s still no time to rest on my laurels; after the course had finished, George (Operations Manager at the Zoo) and I discussed ideas and plans for the imminent Zoo Photographic Society we are going to set up together. This is going to be a major undertaking for us both, but there’s something even more pressing than the Zoo’s PhotoSoc (as it would have been called back at University) – planning the major photographic event of the year – a trip to Africa to expand the portfolio and hopefully make some more contacts to aid with my photographic training, this time in exotic locations. The question is do I return to the Masai Mara, or do I solely concentrate on Lake Nakuru, a personal favourite, where a high proportion of photos used as examples during the course were taken (and made me sound like I was working for the Lake Nakuru Marketing board. I do prefer to visiting somewhere new, but that’s always a risk when it comes to stock photography, in case I don’t manage any saleable shots (not that I manage to take any anyway). I can’t go to the Serengeti, I’d love to go but I wouldn’t end up taking any photos – I’d be pretending to be one of my (and many other people’s ) hero – Sir David Attenborough – [in whispered tones] – “here on the Serengeti…..” . I’ve mentioned before my desire to travel through Namibia and Botswana to snap Brown Hyena, then there’s Rwanda for the Lowland Gorillas, not forgetting the Sifakas of Madagascar, the mighty dragons of Komodo, salt water crocs in Australia, Snow Leopard in the Himalayas, Steller’s Sea Eagles on the north island of Japan, King Penguins on the Falklands Islands, java rhino in India, the list is endless… well, it is as long as man doesn’t drive any more creatures to extinction. That’s only the things that live above the water… there’s an equal amount that live in the watery depths that I’d love to have close encounters with, there’s…..

I’ve had chance, over the last couple of days, to use my new laptop and it’s certainly a fantastic machine. Like any new computer, the start up time seems so much faster than my existing systems, and it will do until I start installing software left, right and centre, but with two hard drives contained within the casing, I plan to move a lot of data to the second drive so that when the system is scanning the machine at startup, it will ignore the data on this other disk. The machine has a very high resolution 17” screen (16:9 ratio) which allows me to have two web pages side by side, ideal when I’m working on my blog and want to check a fact (“A first for everything”, Ed.). The increased width of the machine allows for a full sized keyboard, including a number pad more often found on external keyboards which in itself has caused somewhat of an issue. I have various old laptops lying around the house (a bit like an elephant’s graveyard really), but all have the standard type keyboard – working on these the hands naturally rest centrally. With a number pad taking up a proportion of the space to the right of the keyboard, I now have to work slightly to one side, which certainly took some getting used to, it also means I’m making even more mistakes than normal (that’s my excuse for any typos in the last two blogs!). Typing could have been made easier but the optional backlit keyboard, especially as I seem to write these blogs late at night with little, or no, ambient light on – though having had a computer of sorts for the last 22 years (I’m not including the ZX81, ZX Spectrum or BBC Micro which would put the date much earlier (1981 even, in the case of the ZX81*) but I didn’t start out typing fast** until around 1990) I know my way around a keyboard and don’t need to look at it much as I type. During one of the brief moments of lucidity, with backpain under control, I did take a screwdriver to the one part of the laptop that users are allowed to access without invalidating the machine’s warranty -the memory and hard drive housing. Prior to the machine’s delivery I had read that there were two different motherboards that were used for the laptop I had used; one had two memory slots whereas another had 4. This is highly unusual when it comes to laptops, they usually have one, and at best two slots capable of taking memory, so I was keeping my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed that my machine would be the variant with the greater number of slots. Removing the fascia away from the disk and memory housing I initially though I had the meager two slot machines, however when I started to look closer I was overjoyed to see that there were four memory slots of which two were occupied each containing a 4Gb DIMM (Dual Inline Memory Module) leaving me free to add another 8Gb should I require it. That’s 16Gb in a laptop.. astounding…. Bwaaa haaa haaa (oops, sorry, Dear Reader I don’t know what came over me). Of course, even if I don’t need to populate those last two empty memory slots, you will have worked out that I will.. simply because I can.. its 16Gb of RAM…. Bwaaa haaa ha..oops!

* Boy that makes me all nostalgic, I wish I’d kept my ZX81!
** When I say “typing fast” what I mean is randomly poking at keys hoping to hit the right ones in the right order!
*** Punctuation Pedantry or Zero Tolerance to Punctuation.

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