Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

A cautionary tale - and an unaccountable omission

I seem to have caught some sort of lurgi at the convention - felt pretty sick yesterday, a bit better but still a bit of an upset stomach today. Which reminds me to mention another bug, of the computer variety, that I ran into at the con.

One of the more annoying things that happened at Eastercon was a weird problem with my USB memory stick, which led to me being unable to use visual aids in my Forgotten Futures talk. This was a strange chapter of accidents, while I haven't heard of it happening to anyone else it's possible that describing it may save others from problems.

The first step was simple - I forgot to pack the VGA cable adaptor for my iBook. The second step was an unaccountable omission - for some reason I never seem to have used my memory stick (purchased a couple of months ago) with the iBook.

So about a day into the con I wanted to work on a document on the memory stick - and found that the iBook couldn't read it and wanted to initialise it. Got someone else to try it on another Mac and it was fine, so I began to worry that my USB ports were screwed.

To cut a long story short, someone let me store my files on their Macbook's hard disk for a few minutes while I initialised the stick, and after that both Macs could read and write to it. Problem solved... until it was time for the presentation and I realised that the cable was missing. Nobody had one handy, so someone suggested that I put my files onto a memory stick and use one of the con committee's PC compatible laptops instead.

So I transferred the files and got back to the room - to find that the laptop couldn't read the memory stick. Swearing and a slightly truncated presentation ensued. When I got home my own PCs couldn't read it either. Eventually I reformatted the stick on a PC, and after that everything (including the iBook) was able to read and write to it.

Not sure what caused this, but I think that the starting point must have been that the stick was never formatted properly when I first used it. Why initialising it with the iBook didn't fix the problem is a mystery. The moral, I think, is that if you're going to use a memory stick on multiple environments make bloody sure that everything works before life screws you over.

Finally, am I really the only person on my flist to notice the Marx Brothers reference in The Shakespeare Code? I know that others have spotted it, because it's already made it to Wikipedia, but nobody I know has mentioned it.

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