t o o l s

990714.0148 watermill , st mary’s

i lie once again in my tent with the wind swishing in wonderful 3d through the elms around me . today the tropical weather gave way to gloom and light drizzle . but at some point between midnight , when i cycled back from the workshop , and half past one , when i retired to the tent laden with gaz and button’s sofa cushions , the sky cleared completely . perhaps the sun will reassert itself tomorrow ?

my equipment continues to torment me . most of what i am using was provided by apple in 1995 . it’s working well considering its age , though the main system is due for a complete rebuild . this year i added three new devices . a nikon film-scanner to digitise the slides i’m producing ( over a thousand since the beginning of february ) , an iomega jaz drive to store them and a canon digital camera to start experimenting with real-time photo-reportage .

the film-scanner has been a nightmare since i got it in february . it crashes , it locks up my system , the auto-focus fails . it’s been back to nikon twice ( at my own expense ) and both times they have returned it saying nothing was wrong . cheers nikon . the agonising fact is that when it works it produces fantastic results . over the last few days i truly believed i had found a way to make it work . this involved launching it immediately after start-up , running no other applications , avoiding all preview functions and operating the auto-focus independently of the main scan . thus i have managed to scan several hundred images since saturday , clearing my backlog from april to the middle of may . it still crashed two or three times per film , which is no picnic , but i was grateful to have it working at all . tonight , though , it all seems to have come unstuck . the unit is reporting an auto-focus failure and nothing i try makes the slightest impression . i am at my wits’ end .

the jaz drive arrived in march and worked faultlessly until my relocation to st mary’s , at which point it gave up the ghost . in contrast to nikon’s inscrutable response , iomega immediately shipped out a replacement unit and pre-paid postage to return the duff one . it’s working perfectly and i’ve got a nice warm feeling towards iomega .

finally the story of my digital camera , a tough one for me to tell . for years i’ve been waiting for a model which suited me and finally canon produced the powershot a5 zoom . compact , robust , a decent lens with a proper optical zoom . a little research revealed that they cost half as much in the states as in london . so i asked my friend simon to pick one up in new york . this must have been april or may . he duly did so , but something went amiss and the package was returned to the warehouse . he tried again , succeeded and brought it over to london . i collected it from his sister caroline when i was up there last week . i could hardly believe i finally had the thing in my hands . on the tube back to where i was staying a delightful scene developed , with three strangers on the seats across from mine making escalating claims about their sporting heroes for the benefit of a crowd of travellers clustering around them . i too became absorbed by the performance . the long and the short of it is : i changed trains , the camera didn’t . it had been in my possession about an hour and a half .

i realised what i’d done when i reached my destination . i felt almost awed that i could have been so careless . but i also felt an extraordinary lightness . i really wanted that camera . it would have opened up a lot of new avenues and i’m probably not going to be able to replace it . i don’t have much money . but i felt no sense of anger or depression . rather to my surprise , it just didn’t seem to matter that much . i’d lost it and that was that .

i faxed london transport’s lost property office but i’d be foolish to raise my hopes .

anyway i’ve been writing over an hour and i’m quite tired . i didn’t mean to write a despatch all about my blasted machines . maybe it was triggered by the accounts from tom in australia charting the demise of his laptop ? these things are nothing but trouble . but how can i say that , lying here tapping on my tiny keyboard . seeing the words appear deliciously on the screen in front of me ?

: cH

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