A month of Fridays draws in

Oh boy, it's THAT time of year again. December is like an entire month of Friday afternoons. You know that feeling of panic that bubbles up in you every Friday because it's Friday afternoon and you still have loads to do before the weekend? I feel that every day during December.

Oh boy, it’s THAT time of year again. It seems to me that December is like an entire month of Friday afternoons. You know that feeling of panic that bubbles up in you every Friday? The one you get because it’s Friday afternoon and you still have loads to do before the weekend? I feel that every day during December.

The worst part is that there’s so much fun stuff to do in December. Invites to lunches, shows and, of course, days out on the gulf probably not watching yachts race have been rolling in thick and fast. By the time the big day actually arrives I’ll be so well fed and watered that all I’ll want for my Christmas dinner will be a Berocca and some vegemite on toast. Still, I shouldn’t complain.

This year is going to be a little different. Rather than just throwing in the towel in December and taking an extended break through the Christmas/new year period and facing the music in January, I’ve elected to just take the stat days off and work the rest. Why? So I can do all those Friday afternoon jobs in the relative peace and calm of an almost empty building. It’s going to be a beautiful thing. Come early January, I’ll have finished all the things I should’ve done already and I’ll be able to take some time off to go fishing with a clear conscience. That’s The Plan, anyway.

Having got that sorted, I’m faced with another dilemma. My beloved and I have finally caved in to the pressure and have decided to get our offspring a game console for Christmas. The problem is deciding which of the evil empires we’re going to cast our lot in with. My research has shown that the PS2 has the biggest catalogue of games, plus www.thethirdplace.com has to be the sexiest game console-related website. I’m buggered if I can figure out what it all means, but maybe that’s the point.

Meanwhile, Nintendo has the cutest characters and the most attractive price tag, but it’s currently looking like we’re going to spring for an Xbox. Having seen one in action a few months ago at my Microsoft drinking buddy’s house, I’m pretty keen on them. Almost as keen, in fact, as my 14-year-old. The irony is that one of the drivers for buying a console is the lack of interesting, but not too bloody, games for the PC, yet the thing that’s sold me on the Xbox is a rather nasty sci-fi first-person shoot ‘em up called Halo. Go figure.

The other thing the Xbox has going for it is that, being 99% standard PC, it does much more than just play games and DVDs. How about Xbox Linux? You won’t read about that in the Microsoft manual but apparently you can, with a small (legal) hardware mod, a USB keyboard and mouse, install Linux in a dual-boot configuration that’ll allow you to surf the web, do email, run OpenOffice and any other cool Linux stuff as well as play games and watch DVDs. Check out http://xbox-linux.sourceforge.net/index.php for all the details.

Have a good break. See you on the other side.

Swanson is IT manager at W Stevenson & Sons in South Auckland. Send letters for publication to Computerworld Letters.

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