Saturday, 17 July 2010

Plaster Cast Experiment concludes after 20 weeks

When things around you start crumbling... the plaster cast evaluation experiment of 2010...

At the start of March, a week before Jon and Corinna went to Texas, we decided to check the ability of some builder's plaster to form a cast of impressions in mud, in case Jon wanted to immortalise any tracks while in Texas.

I wetted some sand and then, for testing purposes, pressed a skull into it. Then withdrew it, and poured plaster in.

We weren't very impressed to find that, on the day that Jon and Corinna left the UK, it still wasn't dry. Easter came and went, and then the MayDay holiday... and it was still soggy.

I just left the tray to do its own thing, just to see how long the stuff really did require to dry. In June, it reluctantly summoned up some rigidity, and a couple of days ago I plucked the firmly-set plaster cast from the tray of sand and left it on a nearby bin, to let the July rains wash the sand off.

The next day, I found a crumbly pile of soggy gunk, that looked like a heap of guano.

So, a long-running evaluation of this potential CFZ resource finally came to an end after 20 weeks, and my official verdict on it was not very polite, when I told Jon about it.

Interestingly, Jon suggested we keep the rest of that bag of cement "in case it comes in useful, one day."

Perhaps we can run a CFZ competition one day, and find out the Top Ten best uses for the stuff. In the meantime, it's up in the workshop, if anyone wants to put in a bid for it!

Friday, 9 July 2010

Computers - staying in control

Staying in control, when running an unfamiliar operating system on an unfamiliar machine, can be a bit difficult sometimes.

Recently, I found myself getting increasingly exasperated by Windows 7 on my first laptop, where the touchpad would keep dragging things where I didn't want them to be dragged, or closing a viewing folder when I merely wanted to finger-tip-move to an adjacent folder.

It was like the system was second-guessing me, or making decisions on my behalf. Turned out that, all I needed to do was

disable tap-to-click on laptop touch pad

Now, when I googled the problem, I'd never even heard of tap-to-click, so I googled for "mousepad second-guesses me," or "touchpad anticipates my clicks," or something like that, and found many pages about this damned "tap-to-click" thing.

All that's needed to cure it is START > Control Panel > Mouse > Device Settings > Settings > Tapping > disable tapping.

So it wasn't the laptop being rebellious, or Windows 7 being a pile of rubbish. It was just a default setting that didn't suit me.

It made me wonder, though:

I wonder how many people buy a computer from a shop and then struggle along with a problem, not realising that their life needn't be like that, and that computers are supposed to obey our every whim. We shouldn't have to accomodate ourselves to the computer's whims.