As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been having problems with my computer. And of course, those problems started at the weekend. And naturally, that weekend happened to be a long weekend, with the Monday being ‘Clean Monday‘, an important day in the Greek Orthodox calendar, marking the beginning of Lent.
I should mention here that the Greek Orthodox Easter (and all the dates around and pertaining to it), doesn’t often fall on the same date as the Anglican or Roman Easter (I think I can recall just one occasion in the past fifteen years when Greece and UK have celebrated Easter on the same day), due to differences in the way the different churches calculate when Easter should fall. Don’t ask me why – the arcane rituals and pronouncements of the various churches are a closed book to me, and have been since I was a young teenager and decided that it all seemed a bit, well, unbelievable.
Anyway, Clean Monday meant that I wasn’t able to take my computer to the guy round the corner until the Tuesday, which I duly did. Parking in that area, as in many parts of Patras, was as usual a nightmare, but I managed to find a spot not far from the shop, for which I was grateful, as it was pissing with rain at the time. I explained the problem to the guy as best I could, my command of technical Greek being somewhat limited (indeed, my command of technical English is pretty limited also, requiring multiple visits to Google to translate various words in computerspeak language). He seemed to understand what I was trying to explain to him (fortunately things like ‘HDMI’, ‘DVI’ and ‘VGA’ are deemed universal, and are the same in Greek as in English), and told me that he’d call me when he knew something, probably in a couple of days. So I left it to his tender ministrations, wondering if his ‘couple of days’ was going to be a Greek couple of days (that is, anything up to a month), or an actual couple of days. I must admit I wasn’t overly optimistic, as he was surrounded by tower units in various stages of evisceration, but having carted my tower unit there, I didn’t have much choice but to leave it with him. So it was a pleasant surprise when, two days later, he called me to tell me it was ready.
I hotfooted it up to his shop to pick it up, where he explained to me that one of the memory cards was dodgy, and that had caused the problems. He’d also removed and cleaned a couple of the cooling fans to improve the airflow, including the fan on the graphics card, which had apparently seized up completely and was causing the graphics card to run much hotter than it should. I knew that the graphics card fan wasn’t working properly, but to access it meant removing the whole thing and dismantling the casing to access the fan; something I was somewhat reluctant to do, my knowledge of the internals of a PC being rudimentary at best. He charged me €25, plus another €5 for a DVI to HDMI adapter I needed, which I thought was quite reasonable.
The removal of one of the memory cards, however, left me with just over half the RAM I had. When Manolis first built the computer for me about eight or nine years ago, we put 3 x 1GB memory cards in, which seemed quite sufficient for the XP I was running at the time. A few years later, when I went to Win 7, we decided that a bit more memory was required, so I got another card, this time 2GB, for the empty slot, thus giving me 5GB of RAM and a faster computer. Unfortunately it was the 2GB card which was causing the problems, so I’m back to 3GB and a very slow computer. He also said to me that it’s always best, if you use multiple memory cards, to use all the same make and spec. So now I’m looking at the added expense of buying 4 x 2GB cards to replace the ones I have – about €100 outlay. Bugger. Still, with 8GB of RAM, the old girl should be able to break into a gallop when I’m demanding it. Or that’s the theory, anyway.
So I’ve been checking out the suppliers websites looking for something suitable (for ‘suitable’ read ‘cheap’). Problem is, I don’t really know what I’m looking for by way of specification. A friend in NZ who knows much more about these things has been giving me some pointers, so I guess I’m going to have to bite the bullet and order something and hope that it works. The choice is somewhat limited, as being an old computer it uses DDR2 cards, and most stuff is DDR3 or DDR4 nowadays. And they’re not interchangeable. Oh well…
Last weekend was Carnival weekend in Patras, where on the Saturday evening they have the ‘foot parade’, where all the various clubs and societies participating dress up in their carnival costumes (as many as 30,000 participants) and march and dance their way along the route, and on the Sunday they return to the same route, but this time with their floats. I’m told that the Patras Carnival is the third biggest in the world, although I rather have my doubts about that. It is, however, well attended, with something like 300,000 people piling into the city centre for the weekend parades.
We went into town on the Saturday evening by bus. It’s still too cold for the scooter (I fall into the ‘fairweather rider’ camp), and parking in central Patras is a nightmare at the best of times, let alone on Carnival weekend. The bus service is actually very convenient for us, as it’s only a two or three minute walk from here to the bus stop, and then a ten minute bus ride into the centre of town. And they run every 10 – 15 minutes, so you never have more than a few minutes to wait.
Patras is a university city, so the students were well represented in the crowds; mostly drunk and doing the usual sort of studenty stuff, they were quite entertaining on their own. Dotted around everywhere were stalls selling half-bottles of Mavrodaphne (a sweet, fortified red wine that originated here – I’ll wager there were a few sore heads the next morning! It’s not my choice of drink, I have to say…), and of course all the peripteros (kiosks) had stocked up on beer, so many people were wandering around swigging on their booze and getting slowly sozzled. They don’t have any laws here about drinking in public as it’s not considered to be a problem. It was also interesting to note that despite the huge crowds and the booze flowing freely, there was no visible police presence. They stayed out on the periphery of the proceedings, ready to move in the unlikely event that they might be needed. They weren’t. Events like this in Greece are very relaxed affairs, and tend to be self-policing. No hard and fast rules and regulations, no restrictions on anything, and normally no trouble.
I grabbed this on my phone, so it’s not exactly high quality, but gives an idea of the parade. You will notice that ‘Health & Safety’ do not loom large in Greek celebrations! As well as the flares the marchers were brandishing, they were letting off fireworks, including rockets, although I’m not sure how they were launching the rockets, as they were constantly on the move.
All in all a good evening, lots of fun. We sat down at a table in the main square for a few souvlakis and a half kilo of wine, which came to about €15 for three of us – we met a friend in town, who I believe that apart from me is the only expat living in Patras, which is quite surprising given that Patras is the gateway to central Greece and the Peloponnese. There are probably quite a few who maintain summer / holiday properties here, but as far as I can ascertain we’re the only expats who live here all year.
(I pixellated his features as I’m not sure how he’d feel about having his image uploaded to the web, and I have no wish to upset anyone.)
Hopefully by this time next week I’ll have 8GB of RAM and be able to process images and video at a decent speed – at the moment it’s all a bit clunky.
So I’m sort of sorted, computer-wise, but not quite.