FnaG a-rithist

Aig a’ cheann thall, thill mi dhan fhòram as dèidh trì bliadhnaichean. (Bha mi air sgrìobhadh am post mu dheireadh san Dùbhlachd ’13). The e coimhead gu bheil nas lugha dhen trafaig ann na bha anns na seann làithean, agus gu bheil feadhainn dhiubh a bhiodh a’ postadh a bu thrice air fhàgail cuideachd (chanainn gum bi mi gu h-àraid ag ionndrainn Seonaidh), ach cha robh iadsan a tha air fhàgail mì-thoilichte leamsa, ged a thill mi leis an fhar-ainm ùr agam, agus ’s e sin an rud a tha cudromach. Tha eadhon Akerbeltz còir deònach rim bruidhinn.


On Twitter again

Been there for a few months in 2012, then deleted my account. This February, on the spur of the moment (probably out of boredom), I created a new one. Like the first time round, I began by adding followed accounts, till I had hardly time for anything else than following them, then began gradually unfollowing those with too great tweets:interesting tweets ratio. I got almost to a ‘desirable’ number.

Then came the bender, then catching up on the consequent backlog and now I sort of regret I don’t follow a few more, I seem to have too much time on my hands. I even began considering contributing to Gaelic Wikipedia again, or rejoining Fòram na Gàidhlig. We’ll see.

PS Incidentally, the day after creating the account I was made aware via some account I followed that it was World Cancer Day. As I had had and possibly still had cancer, this was somewhat spooky.


Printemps ’17

Bon. La beuverie est terminé, et bien que je sois toujours quelque peu faible, je relève. Et parce que j’ai raté à la fois 1er mars, le début du « printemps météorologique » (il faisait encore assez froid ici) et 20ème mars, le début du « printemps astronomique » (la beuverie), il était grand temps que je remplace mes économiseurs d’écran: l’hiver par le printemps. Alors, je viens de le faire.


Cìs chraolaidh iPlayer

Leugh mi mu àrdachadh cìs chraolaidh is thug an aiste gu mo chuimhne mar a bha iPlayer an asgaidh air a chrìochnachadh an-uiridh. Agus thàinig rud neònach a-steach orm: Airson bhliadhnaichean roimhe sin, choimheadainn dìreach air iPlayer gus nach biodh agam ris a’ chìs a phàighead. Chan eil an t-adhbhar ann tuilleadh – ach cha do rinn e diofar sam bith. Choimheadainn fhathast air iPlayer a-mhàin. ’S ann cho annasach, cho neònach a tha an nòisean gum biodh agam air prògram air choireigin a choimhead aig àm puingeil, àm stèidhichte leis a’ chraoladair, seach dar a bhios agam ùine is togradh air . . .


December ’16 news

December news in February, hmm . . . anyway, here goes:

There were some minor surprises in politics. The Icelandic Pirate Party was asked to try and form a new government (but would later fail to become part of it). Donald Trump sort of broke decades lasting pretence that the US doesn’t recognise Taiwan (more publicity stunts would follow). The European Court of Justice ruled against the Snooper’s Charter (giving the UK government another bad reason respect the referendum result and leave the EU). And the SNP disclosed that despite the comtinuing devolution of powers from London to Edinburgh, the Scotland Office’s budget rose over the last five years by 20% (although a much more interesting question was how much would Derek Mackay have to compromise to have his first budget voted through Holyrood).

A sadder surprise was the death of George Michael at the age of 53 (making me look up what was it he sang at all, the biggest surprise being Freedom! 90). On the other hand, air an làimh eile, bha deagh naidheachd ann gun do chomharraich Tormod MacGilleathain an t-ochdadamh cho-là-breith aige (’s dòcha gum bu chòir dhomh The Leper’s Bell a cheannach mar faidhle Khindle is a leughadh a-rithist).

More good news were the opening of a new Edinburgh railway station and the reopening of Kelvingrove Museum’s Life Gallery (pity I may never see it again).

The sporting surprise, for me at least, was how close to each other the teams at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership were: Partick Thistle, last (ie 12th) three matches before the end of the month, got by just two wins to the 6th place and after a Hogmanay draw ended the year as 7th. Another sports-related news was Andy Murray’s knighthood; but to be honest, I admired more Lynn Faulds for rejecting her MBE – or rather, for her reasons to do so.


Google Translate for Scottish Gaelic

The other day I came across a post telling me Scottish Gaelic has been added to Google Translate with worse-than usual results. I have little time for fools who think that simply running a text through this software can give them something even approaching natural language. But the adverse effect on learners is not to be underestimated. I remember it took me quite some time to realise that even if something on the Web looks like Gaelic, it may be faulty Gaelic by another learner (like my own posts), so one should always consider carefully the source.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing I can do about it, so I just amused myself by the old pastime: pick a random text in a language you know and have Google translate it into another one (which you know as well). I chose a BBC article about the HIE. The full text and translation I leave below for posterity; I’ll just mention here that I like most the way in which “airson dèanamh cinnteach nach tèid HIE a làgachadh”, i.e. “to ensure that HIE won’t be weakened”, is turned into the exact oppposite, and likewise of course the final cryptic “saying that in tharrraingeas this power away from the Highlands”.

Tha Cathraiche Iomairt na Gàidhealtachd ‘s nan Eilean ag ràdh gu bheil e “làn mhisneachd” gun lean a’ bhuidhean mar a bha. -> The Chairman of Highlands and Islands says that he is “confident” that the group as.
Tha mòran air draghan a nochdadh bho thàinig e am barr gun tèid cur às de bhòrd HIE ‘s bòrd nàiseanta ùr gu bhith os cionn chompanaidhean leasachaidh agus sgilean na h-Alba. -> Many have voiced concerns came from the top to eliminate HIE board and a new national board to charge companies and skills development of Scotland.
Thuirt an t-Oll. Lorne Crerar ge-tà gu robh e air gealltanas fhaighinn gun lean HIE anns a’ chruth anns a bheil e an-dràsta. -> Said Dr. Lorne Crerar, however, that he had received assurance that HIE in the form in which it now.
Thuirt e gu bheil iad ann an còmhraidhean le Riaghaltas na h-Alba airson dèanamh cinnteach nach tèid HIE a làgachadh, agus gur ann a tha iad an dòchas gun tèid a neartachadh. -> He said that they are in discussions with the Scottish Executive to ensure that HIE weakened, and that they hoped to be strengthened.
Tha mòran luchd-poileataigs dùbhlanach air càineadh a dhèanamh air na planaichean ‘s iad ag ràdh gur ann a tharrraingeas seo cumhachd air falbh bhon Ghàidhealtachd. -> Many opposition politicians have criticized the plans, saying that in tharrraingeas this power away from the Highlands.



Après avoir beaucoup réflechi, j’ai décidé de n’emporter pas mon ordinateur à l’hôpital. J’avait peur de le perdre (non: j’avais peur que quelqu’un le vole). Mais des semaines sans ordi, juste avec le smartphone et la liseuse ? Ainsi, j’ai acheté une tablette. Après tout, je pourrais l’utiliser dans un avenir plus lointain si/lorsque l’ordi meurt. Bien sûr, seulement jusqu’à ce que j’aurai un nouvel ordi – la tablette a le putain de tchèque préinstallé …


Toutes les images sauvegardés sur le Net

Il durait un an et demie, mais j’ai réussi. Toutes mes images (3 088) sont maintenant sur un compte Flickr (j’en avais trois), plus ou moins par ordre chronologique. Il y a juste un problème : j’ai supprimé un des autres comptes, mais je ne peux pas supprimer l’autre (le CAPTCHA ne marche pas). Eh bien, il e complètement vide quand même.

ETA, 2/11/16: Non, c’étais de ma faute : je tapais le CAPTCHA à la zone de texte pour confirmer le mot de passe …


Foghar ’16 (gu fadalach)

Leis na seachdainean a chur mi seachad air mhisg, cha tàinig e a-steach orm gun do thòisich am foghar; agus as dèidh sin, bha rudan eile ann air a bha agam ri cnuasachadh. Cha robh e ach an-diugh gun do chuimhnich mi gum bu chòir dhomh na sàbhalaichean-sgrìn atharrachadh bho dhealbhan samhraidh gu dealbhan foghair. Uill, rinn mi sin.


Kindle Voyage

I’ve had it for over two months now and I’m reasonably used to it. But I’m still reminded, every now and then, that as is usual with IT devices, when they release a new ‘generation’, they improve several aspects, making others worse, so that the new product is often only slightly better, if at all.

Specifically when comparing Voyage with my old Kindle Keyboard, ay, the backlight is definitely an improvement, and for once the touchscreen keyboard is easier to operate than the physical one. On the other hand, navigating inside a book and between books was much easier and faster on the older model. And so on.

All in all, I like my new Kindle better than my old one – but only marginally.


August ’16 news

Not a bad month for transport: the ScotRail strikes over guards were finally called off to allow further negotiations; Queen Street station tunnel reopened and so did Glasgow Subway; and the Tay Road Bridge was 50 years old. The exception was the oil rig, travelling from Norway to Turkey, which was blown ashore on a western Lewis beach instead, losing thousands of gallons of diesel and later temporarily moved to a bay on the other side of the island.

Of course, there were the Olympics in Rio, but I’m not into this kind of showbiz, so I’ve only seen Ross Murdoch qualify to semifinals and my namesake create a new British record before ending 5th – yet later with not one but two silver medals from relays (the first with 2 other Scots, or 3 if you count in Renwick). But somehow I admired no less Ieuan Lloyd, whether bottle-fliping or dabbing – and even more than all these Nick Skelton. Winning an equestrian gold aged 58 … can you beat it? (Of course, I couldn’t help noticing that Team GB ended second in the medal table, with 16 Scots getting such a disc or two.)

In other news, bha briseadh-dùil ann mu dheidhinn fo-thiotalan air BBC Alba, on a tha Urras a’ BhBC dhen bheachd nach urrain dhaibh leigeil le luchd-amhairc an roghainn a dhèanamh; Michael Russel was appointed the Scottish government’s Brexit negotiator, although the UK government later indicated they’d only pay lip service to negotiating with Holyrood; Poles overtook Indians as the largest migrant group both in the UK and in Scotland (which slightly surprised me, I thought they’d already done so); and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation named (on p 10) both ‘my’ Keppochhill and Tommy’s Wyndford among the 5% consistently most deprived areas in Scotland since 2004 (which didn’t; but it is interesting that the allegedly most and least deprived areas in Scotland are only about 7 miles distant).


July ’16 news

It looked a bit as if everybody – except for Glasgow Subway, which closed to be reconstructed – was in a hurry to have everything over and done with so they could go for holidays.

The Scottish Parliament was officially opened, only to be effectively adjourned for several weeks (then again I suspect they do this on a regular basis). Two days later, Nigel Farage resigned, as his “political ambition has been achieved” (good on him, if he means it). Two days later, the Chilcot Inquiry completed its report (having taken seven years to find out what everybody but Tony Blair already knew anyway). The following week, with Fox, Crabb and Gove already out, Leadsom surprisingly quit the final and two days later Cameron handed over 10 Downing Street to Theresa May (probably a lesser evil than Gove, but only just), who the next day formed a new government: nice to see Osborne and Gove go, fun (if a bit bitter) to see Johnson become the Foreign Secretary.

Westminster still managed to vote through Trident renewal (the British Empire strikes back) … and then nothing, until at the end of the month, the results of a major online child sex abuse investigation were announced* and the Right to Buy ended in Scotland (so all’s well that ends well).

* With Det Insp Andy McWilliam reported as claiming that “new technology meant there was no way for perpetrators to hide or erase what they had done online […] Whether they throw the computer in the bath or not, we can find what they have looked at. And we can use covert technology to identify who you are and where you are”, in other words confirming that all that hullabaloo about the Snooper’s Charter is just smoke and mirrors. Big Brother has come.


Buying new Kindle

My good old Kindle Keyboard had been unexpectedly resetting itself with the frequency of an Android phone for some time; when it began turning pages of its own accord, the time has obviously come for buying a new one. (This is not a complaint. Not only had it travelled extensively; I’d spent so much time reading on it in a bath that it’s probably a miracle it still works at all.)

The idea was to hopefully have the new one before the old one dies. So it was rather disconcerting, after choosing a Kindle Paperwhite, logging into my Amazon account and being told they can’t deliver it here. The same thing happened when I switched to their US, French and German websites. “It’s in stock all right but we shall not send it to the country you live in.”

In the end I found out they would deliver Kindle Voyage. Maybe because it’s one and a half times more expensive, without any significant benefit that I could discern. But given that reading is one of the very few pleasures I have left, and that I had had to move house one too many times to be willing to buy a printed book again, what could I do but order one?


8 years online

A lot has happened since my last post like this. Once again, I’m living on the Net and only ‘occurring’ in the so-called real life. Unlike before my migration attempt, however, I’m mostly just observing what happens, without communicating much with anybody even online.

There is the nice portmanteau netizen, created as a blend of net and citizen. It would be nice if there was a similar blend made from net and hermit (what about nermit?), because that’s what I feel like now.


EU referendum

Once again I watched the results of a popular vote come in during the night. To begin with it was an absolute thriller, with the lead switching from one side to the other several times.

(In retrospect it seems the reason was quicker counts in Scotland, where every single local authority area voted to remain, even if in Moray only just. The turnout, however, was only 67.2%, as compared with almost 85% during the 2014 referendum.)

But by the time I had to go to work Leave was almost half a million votes ahead and before 7am it lead by about a million, with only 9 results still to come, so I surreptitiously texted Rob the result was a success. (In the end the difference was more than a million and a quarter.) To my pleasant surprise an his.

* * * * * * * *

Shortly after, David Cameron announced he’d resign; Nicola Sturgeon said a second Scottish referendum was highly likely; the pound began to plummet; people began signing a rather bizarre petition (“we lost so we want the result annulled”); some Leave proponents showed their duplicity claiming the actual leaving can wait for several years; nevertheless, EU leaders – quite rightly – refused Brexit talks before the UK triggers Article 50 . . .

. . . and my relationship with The Guardian took another turn. In 2014, with the exception of Kevin McKenna, they were just about all for Scotland remaining in the UK. Now they just about all turned pro-indy. It seems that being leftist they just love centralism: “the best option would be Scotland under the UK and the UK under the EU, but short of that let’s be under the EU rather than under the UK, because the EU is a Bigger Brother”. When this appeared as the Guardian view, I stopped visiting the site again (except for their Country diary, needless to say).

By the way, some more interesting maps and charts here.


Adieu to LibraryThing

I created my LibraryThing account on 10 May 2009; I think I had only two or three dozen books back then, but was already a regular Amazon customer, buying new ones whenever I felt I could afford it.

I kept it while the number kept rising; while I was discovering Kindle and the possibility of obtaining out-of-copyright books for free from Gutenberg; while emigrating and discarding probably more than a half of my prints; while extending my library in Scotland again, even over a hundred items; while returning with – Kindle aside – only six of them . . .

Recently I realised that keeping (and updating) the account more or less solely for the contents of my Kindle was largely pointless. And on Wednesday I deleted it.


Back to basics

The other day my laptop for some reason stopped producing any sounds. Apparently I deleted some software I shouldn’t have. Anyway, a ‘refresh’ solved the problem; it took a few days but after 87, then 6, then 45 and then 12 other automatic updates the one from Win 8 to Win 8.1 happened as well, so I got where I’d been before.

During those few days I also reinstalled the software I’m too used to to go without: Firefox, VPNUK and so on. Likewise, I refound the websites which are most important for me. In this respect I’m not where I’d been before. I’ve resolved to only add these one by one as I go along, if and when I decide I really need to use the particular software/visit the particular website.

I think something like this has happened before, more than once. Strangely, this time I really stick to the resolution – and it’s not all that hard. Maybe I’d become a little surfeited with the Internet …


March ’16 news

Several things ended in March: For the first time, a professional 9-dan go player was defeated by software. Shortly after the Budget (whose main point, according to media, was the sugar tax), Iain Duncan Smith resigned as the DWP secretary: apparently even he had finally got fed up with the way Mr Osborne mishandles the revenue. The Holyrood Parliament was dissolved before the election: it was the last session for some MSPs, including Alex Salmond, who gave his (possibly) last speech there. On the same day the Longannet Power Station, the last coal-fired one in Scotland, was switched off for good.

And then there were the deaths: George Martin, without whom the Beatles in all probability wouldn’t have been as trailblazing as they were, and Ray Tomlinson, generally seen as the inventor of one of the most important features the internet’s ever had: the email.

But Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba can be seen both as an end and a beginning, and the closure of the Glasgow Queen Street railway station’s upper level for a renovation of the adjacent tunnel is definitely more about the future than about the past. As were the approving of the Scotland Bill (which would later in Westminster become the Scotland Act ) and the Land Reform Bill by the Scottish Parliament before its dissolution.

But I’ve no idea where belongs the news that Ben Nevis is somewhat higher than we used to think.


BBC’s Your Pictures of Scotland

Another fine thing I liked for years killed by the kind of ‘developer’ who refuses to behave in accordance with the good old adage ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, who thinks you must change a website’s appearance every now and then just for the sake of giving it a ‘new look’.

I discovered and started visiting this weekly selection of photos sent to the Beeb by readers soon after getting online in 2008. At first the pics were rather small, although they didn’t appear so to a Web rookie me; later they got larger; much later they could be enlarged so as to appear almost full-screen. However, the other week BBC changed the format: now you just see one page with the pics following each other in a column. Which works retroactively for those previous ‘almost-full-screen’ ones as well.

So I lost interest. The photos may still be larger than those first ones I’d seen; nevertheless, somehow by not being presented one at a time, I can’t enjoy them the way I used to. I think that for more than seven and a half years I hadn’t missed a single week; now I stopped going there.


Nouveau fond d’écran

Finalement, j’ai changé mon fond d’écran à cause de ce qui est arrivé au milieu de janvier. (J’avais le fond d’écran précédent depuis septembre. Exactement cinq mois et cinq jour. Ça doit être un record.)

La première porte sur le Sentier de l’Ermitage près de Dunkeld.

C’est un peu symbolique: métaphoriquement, je suis encore sur la route, avec l’espoir, et la porte est comme mes dettes. Je pense avoir le prochain fond d’écran lorsqu’ils sont payés.