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What else I read in November 2016

In a previous post I wrote about three books I read in November.  I also mentioned some library books I had borrowed.  These were War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, which I spotted as I took a detour through the children’s section on my way to the grown ups’ one.  It had been put on display for Remembrance.  Michael Morpurgo writes brilliantly.  I decided that as it was already well into November it was unlikely that I was depriving a young person of this book.  In any case I returned it quickly.  It is told from the view point of a horse (as is Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty), but to my mind War Horse is better.  It is set in Britain and Europe during World War II.  That is as much as I am going to write about the plot.  Perhaps you have read it or seen the film.  (I am not a regular movie-goer.)  I recommend this book.  It moved me to tears.

The next book I read in the section for local interest books.  It was a self-published book produced around 20 years ago.  At first I struggled with the font and the lack of editing in the early chapters.  However the author had put a story together with a lot of interesting background information about places I have visited.  Most of the history was told as dialogue by various characters without distinctive voices.  Of the two main characters only the story of one reached a conclusion.  What the other would decide to do was left as a question mark.  The book is illustrated with line drawings.  It is set during the Wars of the Roses.  At least the author has a few books to her name, which is more than I have!  Her other books are humorous farming tales, which do not appeal to me.

The third library book was where my heart used to beat by Sebastian Faulks.  I wondered at the beginning, whether this was a book I really wanted to read.  However I continued and found that it was a fascinating book, dealing with some interesting ideas about treatments for mental illnesses.  I read another book by Sebastian Faulks several years ago – Human Traces, which explores similar issues in another work of fiction.

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What I read in November 2016

So far this month I have read six books.  That is perhaps too many for a single post.

The books are three I have reread, having located them on the bookshelves at home and three from the local library.

I shall review the ones I reread in this post and save the library books for next time.

Three books I reread

Three books I reread

It was a long time since I had read Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies by Rudyard Kipling.

These books make a set.   In case you haven’t read them, two children in Sussex stumble upon a fairy ring on Midsummer’s Day, accidentally calling up the mischievous Puck from William Shakespeare’s play.  On different occasions he introduces them to characters from the past, wiping their memories afterwards, lest adults think they are mad!

It was possibly the third time I had read these books.   Reading them as a child I missed a great deal of the background and simply enjoyed them for their atmosphere and vocabulary.  This time I was amazed by the links with some of the books I have read recently.  I found the whole experience of rereading these two books fascinating.

Weland’s sword was mentioned in Puck of Pook’s Hill and in Edoardo Albert’s  Edwin: High King of Britain.  There is a Roman centurion in Puck of Pook’s Hill, which tied in with the book by Hunter Davies, which I read in October.  The final story in Rewards and Fairies is set in the same period as Accession by Livi Michael.  Also in Rewards and Fairies there was mention of people being brought for safety, because they were nonconformists, from the Low Countries to Romney Marsh in Kent, England.  The Heretic by Henry Vyner-Brooks is about some of these people.

I am by no means a historian.  In fact I failed my O-level in history.  However, I do enjoy historical fiction.  It is interesting to find the places where authors overlap in their treatment of the various periods.

The next book I reread was Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.  This is another book I first read as a child.  The dust cover is missing, but I can remember the picture in some detail!  Again I must have read it more than once before.  However, only the first part of the story had really stuck in my mind.  It was like reading a book for the first time.

It is an adventure story with a historical setting.  There is a lot of background information about the Scottish Highlands and Islands.  The reason I read it was that the coach driver on the Isle of Mull (on our recent trip to Iona) had told us that we should read it.  David Balfour travels through Mull in the story, which I read with a map of Scotland to hand, so that I could follow his route on the mainland as well.  (For more of my pictures of Scotland and the Scottish Islands please consult the contents of Sue’s words and pictures.)

I was also struck by the information about Scottish culture.  The language is not simple, being a sort of Lowland Scots dialect.  Footnotes explain the most obscure words.  Coincidentally I heard a trailer for a BBC broadcast about Kidnapped.  The points which had stood out for me from the background to the story were mentioned.

I do not own a copy of the sequel, Catriona.  I read it at school, possibly in English lessons.  I have ordered a copy from the library.

These are three great classics, but not a light read.

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How to take control of your own (computer) updates

Every month I read the same complaints – mainly from writers – that they have been interrupted from working due to updates being installed.  Every month I refrain from replying to them with unsolicited advice.  Instead I decided to put up these guidelines!

Whatever electronic device(s) we use, they all have to be updated from time to time.  There is not much more annoying than finding that just as a Skype date (or even worse an interview) is looming, for example, the computer decides to update Skype without asking permission.

To avoid this and other more seriously disruptive updates, it is necessary to check one’s settings.  There is often a setting, which stops automatic download and/or installation of updates.  It is particularly important with mobile devices to make sure that updates are only allowed over wifi and not as data from a mobile provider.  Also when travelling, it is often useful to turn off automatic updates.  A roomful of people sharing a wifi connection may be slowed down by someone downloading large files.

I have heard stories of inconvenient upgrades to a new version of Windows.  I wonder how many people, who have been inconvenienced by having to wait for an automatic update to complete, have bothered to take preventive action afterwards.  To be inconvenienced repeatedly is not necessary.

This is not a technical article.  There are plenty of forums, help pages and the like, which may be found to address specific update settings problems.  What I am trying to do is increase awareness that electronic devices are tools, which we are able to control.  We do not have to allow them to disrupt our time management by leaving default settings unchanged.

On the other hand the updates are provided for good reasons.  It is always a good idea to install updates which address security soon after they become available.  My own view about accepting new systems, such as Microsoft Windows 10, is to wait until others have been using it for long enough that any teething troubles will have been fixed.

Sometimes updates are issued between the usual monthly updates for Microsoft, but usually these are on a Tuesday in the second week of each month (if you are in the US time zones) or the next day (Wednesday) in the UK.

I also like to check that all the updates have been installed successfully.  Occasionally there are problems. Persistent problems may be sorted out after consulting help pages or forums.

I hope you found this latest update to my blog of some interest.  Do you have any stories about ill-timed computer updates?