Friday, 22 October 2010


A friend built himself a whole new computer recently, purely because he wanted one that was capable of running the latest version of CorelDraw.

I wonder, sometimes, why people put so much effort into being bang up to date, on the cutting edge of software technology. New software doesn't work. It's buggy, unpredictable, and never meets expectations.

If it's an update of something you already owned, you don't just have to learn how to use the new stuff, you have to unlearn the habits and shortcuts you had learned for the earlier version.

How much of an update do people actually use? How many unused, memory-eating features do they add, just to call it an upgrade?

Microsoft publish a word-processor and a DTP package, but the word-processor can do everything the early DTPs could do, and the DTP has far more word-processing capability than earlier versions of the word-processor. Who needs both?

Not me.

The latest version of PhotoShop costs $700. The "extended" version costs $1000. Do I want them? I do not. Do I need them? I do not.

I am still using my eight-year-old second-hand copy of PhotoShop Elements that cost a fiver.

It does everything I need - stick a few layers together, tweak a few colours - and uses a tiny fraction of the memory.

When I reveal this fact to my constantly-updating friends, I get treated like some kind of Luddite.

I haven't told them that I am planning not to upgrade my phone this Christmas. Again.

Saturday, 9 October 2010


My latest project has gone completely awry!

I've been working on making paper from nettles, and was all ready to do the actual sheet-forming, but I'd been delayed - events conspired to rob me of time whenever I tried to set periods aside to do things.

The pulp ended up sitting sealed in unsterilised jars for far too long.

Even though it looked OK, it smelled utterly faecal.

So, it has gone down the toilet and I have gone back to step one: collect nettles.

I have not given up, though. The local nettle patches have grown since I collected the last batch. The stems are woodier, and the bast might be easier to strip.

I am considering skipping the retting step this time, and going straight for the cook.

Watch this space.