For anyone remotely interested in the silence that has emanated from this corner of the world over the last few weeks can I just offer a quick apology and say that normal service (whatever that finally proves to be) will be resumed from about now.
The silence was caused by what some call an Act of God, others a quirk of nature and me....well, it was a pain in that area of the anatomy which polite English people have difficulty talking about. In short, it was lightning strike which took out three computers (two of mine and my wife's as well), a TV, a router, a set-top box, a digital telephone system and one telephone line.
One of the computers ( a Dell Dimension system) got fixed under warranty - which must prove it wasn't an Act of God at all - they're not covered by warranty! So by some strange coincidence, it stopped working at the same time as there was a bloody great flash of light in the sky and simultaneous very loud bang. For the other, a ThinkPad, I am still waiting to see what the insurance company offers/suggests. According to IBM, whatever happens, it wil be cheaper to buy a new one than get the old one fixed, as it will need a new motherboard at the very least.
The best bit - OK, `best' is being used in an artistic, ironic sense - is the telephone company, BT. I've been a BT customer for years and always found them efficient and good. But now I'm not so sure. Dell's startling coincidence (or lightning strike to the rest of the world) blew up the line splitter etc in BT's hole in the street. It also wrecked the cable from the street to the house, which has to be replaced. You'd think this wouldn't be too much of a problem, pulling a new cable through the duct by attaching it to the old cable being pulled out.
Ahhh, well, you see, that might work if there was a duct. But when the cable was laid some 30 years ago BT was, I gather, in a `saving money' mode so just laid an armoured cable. Now it will cost them an arm and a leg to replace it, for a duct has to be laid first, which means the front garden has to be dug up.....and the contractors seem remarkbly reluctant to do it. They should be here today - but that's the fourth time I've been told that in a fortnight.
But have I learned anything from this? Ohh you bet. The most important bit is that, no matter how much you think have backed up all the `important' data and files, when the solids hit the rotating parts there will be holes you will not always have the ones you need. And the most significant of all is that, despite all this clever technology, the one thing I must remember to start is a little book - pen and ink stuff - with passwords, settings, licence numbers and all the rest of that guff written downin one handy, readily accesible place.
Now, back to work.........