Tuesday, 16th February, 2021

[Day 337]

Every so often, computer manufacturers release new copies of their operating systems and it is generally beneficial to upgrade whilst one can. The major upgrades used to be once every two years but Apple now releases a major upgrade every single year. As the new releases come on stream, so support for older MAC models tends to drop away i.e. you cannot upgrade and the more cynical will say that this is Apple’s way of making you change your hardware every five years or so whether you want to or not. As it happens, the new operating system will install on the desktop MAC I have in my study and the portable I have in the lounge (on which I am typing this blog) and as they both date from 2015 that makes them both about 5-6 years old and therefore ‘just’ upgradeable. So when I had the chance to update my main system in the study, I did so – and that’s when the problem started. Every major release of operating system means that some programs which are well-loved and useful but ‘aged’ are no longer supported and therefore one had to learn to do without them. In my case, the update seemed to take most of the night and then the whole computer failed to start. I was in complete despair and thinking that I would probably have to buy a whole new system. What I did not know, but fortunately my son did, was that there is a special ‘Recovery mode’ for a dead MAC which enables a user with an apparently dead machine to reboot it with a special keyboard combination of keys and this forces a reboot using an internet connection. Anyway, this worked and I eventually got the new operating system installed. But then my son and I spent about four hours getting the system cleaned up of redundant and dead programs, ‘clutter’ and other things that might potentially cause problems. we still have a little tidying up to do but I was mighty relieved to get my system up and running and in a ‘cleaner’ state than it was in before the upgrade (If you install or re-install new programs, all computers accumulate clutter so this is well known to most of us) So all is well that ends well.

After a night of precious little sleep and a lot of concentration in the morning, I should have felt terrible but in practice felt quite OK – I suppose it was a sort of delayed exhilaration in getting a system working again. We were were delayed in getting into town but passed by two of our sets of friends en route as well as coinciding with our Birmingham University friend who we had not expected to see this morning. After an extended chat about our various academic experiences of how we award classified degrees to our students, we returned home to a very, very late lunch but managed to rustle together a meal which was actually ready in about 20 minutes, which was just as well. Then I spent some time playing? learning? some of the new features of the newly installed operating system with which I need to familiarise myself.In the late afternoon, we FaceTimed some of our ex-Waitrose friends that we communicate with every week on a Tuesday at about the sam time. It was good to catch up on current news (although neither of us had that much new) but I did manage to tell our friends about my success in getting my EHIC cards upgraded to the new GHIC cards which will be current for five years.

Tomorrow night, we will Zoom some of our cousins in Derby and fortunately, the entire system has been set up for us so with a bit of luck, all I need to do is to click a link and enter the appropriate password (sent to me in an email). Also on Wednesday evenings, there is an excellent series exploring the legacy of Donald Trump particularly from the perspective of other world leaders and this has been a fascinating watch for us. Tomorrow morning, in the wee small hours of the morning, I need to update my Waitrose shopping list for two weeks time – once in the groove, it is quite easy to get the slot you need with a bit of forward planning.

Yet another variant of the virus has been identified which may have the ability to bypass the vaccines so far developed. Although this sounds frightening, it is the fact that UK medical science leads the world in virus genome sequencing which means that we identify new mutations far more rapidly than other countries. There is some evidence that these newly occurring mutations are both deadly and can evade current vaccines which sounds bad. But on the other hand, as the rate of infection drops overall, it is easier for us to ‘jump’ on new mutations that do occur and hopefully try to prevent a rapid and harmful transmission process.