Condensing

Near the end of the Iain M Banks novel “Look to windward”, an artificial assassin arrives on the target planet as a cloud of e-dust particles, which gather together and condense into a recognizable imitation of the targets’ own species.

My return to the Cambridge area seems to have something in common with this, not in the sense of being an imitation or an assassin, but in that my presence here seems to be condensing gradually, rather than being an arrival at one specific moment in time.

I’ve now dealt with what I had anticipated as one of the major legal hurdles: re-registering my Land Rover as a UK vehicle. In fact, it went through the MOT without trouble, and the next day I drove to the nearest vehicle licensing office, and was able to register and tax it on the spot. The only hassle was that I had to go to Peterborough to do so, and Peterborough is a tangle of roundabouts and dual-carriageway roads with lots of signposts for places all called “Orton something” but with nowhere to pull up for a moment to look at a map. Eventually I simply pulled onto a smaller road, and a smaller one again, at some random place probably called Orton Dogsick or something like that, and remembered with relief that my N900 has GPS and a mapping facility. So I enabled the GPS (which I normally leave switched off, to save battery), found where I was, and found a minor road route to the DVLA office. If I have to go to Peterborough again, I’ll probably get the train. Or even better, try to find a way of not going to Peterborough.

Now I have to get my driving licence sorted out, as a prerequisite to hiring a van to collect the rest of my belongings from Ireland. I had never bothered to exchange it for an Irish one, as Ireland didn’t seem to require it (and what Britain required wasn’t pressing as I wasn’t there), but I had changed the address from the house I had lived in (which I sold) to a relative’s address from which I can get post forwarded (and of which I’m joint owner)… but they hadn’t done the change correctly, and it still had the postcode of my previous address. This left it in a state from which I could not unstick it with the online address change service, so I’m going to have to do it by post. While I’m at it, I’d like to refresh my HGV entitlement, for which I must undergo a medical (mostly an eye test IIRC) as I’m over 45. But it’s a couple of weeks before my GP has a suitable slot. I think I’ll have to do the address change and the HGV re-entitlement as separate operations, even though it costs more, just to keep things going.

It’s also time for me to learn more about router setup and related networking things, as I now have broadband (well, ADSL) at home, and I want to be able to have several machines switched on at the same time so I can copy stuff between them (probably with rsync). (Up to now, I’ve worked “unplugged” at home, sneakernetting my files around with “cp -vurp” to and from a USB memory.) To do this, I need to make each machine (desktop, netbook, N900) able to find the others by name. I think the way to do this is to switch off DHCP for those devices, and use /etc/hosts for them to find each other. It looks like this should work even over wireless (for the netbook) but the desktop machine refuses to edit the configuration files from its GUI program. I’ll probably force it by editing the files. I have yet to find how to make the N900 play along with this; I’d like it to be able to do much the same kind of thing on my work wireless network.

At least some more practical parts of my life have condensed a bit, thanks to the buying power of money: I’ve bought a washing machine and a fridge, and that makes life superficially more civilized; I had been hand-washing my laundry and wringing it out as well as I could, and had been using the conservatory as a fridge, which was tedious as the door to it requires the key to be moved in a very fiddly way.

I took the trike for a quick test ride today; the main result of the test was that I’ve realized I need to go and buy a new cycling top, as a fleece really isn’t enough. I must order a couple more parts for rebuilding my excessive cycle lighting system, but I’ve got most of them now and I’ll start putting it together very soon, probably this weekend. It’ll have LED and halogen forward lighting, and at least two car brake light LED strips for rear lighting. All run from a 12V lead-acid battery, with the charger built into the system just like I did when it was a 6V system. I really won’t bother with anything less than 12V now; it is just so convenient to be able to use car (and motorcycle) parts. I’ll include a regulator down to 5V and a USB outlet with the appropriate identification resistors (the N900 is said to be fussy about USB chargers) so I can have the N900 running GPS continuously to monitor my cycling performance.

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