Warning: These are old. Very old.
Alan has been pricing video recorders (because ours still doesn't work) and the cost of repairing ours. It seems that repairs are as pricy as a new one. This is ridiculous. No wonder so much ends up at the tip. Alan's plan was inevitable: "Buy a new working one and I can have this one and fix it myself and use it upstairs" (ie in computer lair.) A two-video household? Yikes. Two tellies are more than enough. What we need are programmes worth watching.
Went to friends for party. They rang and said 'Oh, there's a couple of friends here', mentioning three names. So off we went. Got there and stepped into time warp. About thirty people, most of whom hadn't seen each other for four or five years, and some of them hadn't changed at all. Seriously strange.
Alan and a bunch of people who had taken computerish degrees sat in one room (by the food) talking seriously technical stuff or investigating cat reactions. A bunch of people who spent way too much time five years ago in the computer society MUDding, MUSHing, using the JANET bulletin boards or just trying to solve Sokoban now all seem to be Qualified Wotsit Engineers (which is really really worrying) and explaining at length what a piece of cake it is ("Change a connector, if that doesn't work, change a lead, if that doesn't work, change a terminal, if that doesn't work, ring ICL" (or whoever, I forget)). One person was still The Eternal Student (there's always one) and attempting to convince everyone there that some film ("Dark Skies"?) was the greatest scifi film in the world by sheer lungpower. Interesting night.
It worked. So Alan slathered his in brown sauce and smothered the chips with salt. So much for subtle food flavours. And then was seen no more, being up late.
And what is ALS? This sounds mean.
Bed's reversal accompanied and accomplished by bangs, thuds, clatters and obstinate demurrals to comments such as "Are you sure you don't need a hand up there?" For some reason, taking furniture to pieces satisfies him greatly.
Household atmosphere grew perceptibly chilly around midnight with the discovery that Scooby-Doo had been shown half an hour earlier and he'd missed it. Shock, horror, gasp. A hacker's life is hard, clearly.
I have been tidying the contents of the dresser and discovered about eight bottles of whisky with barely a mouthful left at the bottom of each. I have rationalised the bottle situation somewhat so we have room for fuller bottles. I'll finish the Cardhu tonight; Bunnahabhain went last week. Alan hasn't noticed. Hee!
I have this nagging feeling that further "repairs" are going to be attempted, which will doubtless result in Linux coming with new folk-rock support and a smell as of burning tape-heads down here in pleb-land. Pooh.
Video still no work. Alan has threatened to "fix" it. Alan has never mended a video in his life.
Pile in car and head off onto Gower to King Arthur's Stone. Dodge lots of sheep. And goats. And cows. And ponies. Which are either all pregnant, full of gas, or just naturally have terribly round stomachs. (End-on, they look most strange.) Picnic up there.
Friends ring on our return. "Hiya, back in Swansea, we're going to the pub, which one are you going to?" Funny, whatever makes anyone think I might be in the pub?
Went to pub, played games there. Normal tabletops games like Jenga and Connect 4. Only giant versions. The Jenga tower was four foot high *before* we started building it!
Alan didn't come. Video still doesn't work.
I have just had email from Alan (not a shout down the stairs, no. Email) on his multi-media kick (well, telly, teletext and computers sounds multi-media to me.) I told him I wanted the telly to switch on and change channels via the computer and somewhat to my horror, he announced that he only needed another cable...
The television set that's been sitting in the bathroom for the last two months has finally departed for the machine room, there to feel happily useful by exhibiting Scooby Doo. I am not too impressed about Scooby Doo, but I am *very* glad the bathroom is now almost devoid of machinery. I'm sure that bathrooms aren't the right place to store electrical equipment.
Alan mentions some sock_lock function on his web page? Well, I dunno what it's supposed to do, but we need a RL sock_lock to keep his socks from showing up in strange places. The damn things escape and colonise the landing. I have no idea how (well, I think he plants them there to wind me up) but it stil occurs. Locking them in - or onto his feet - would be good.
We are having yet more guests this weekend. Last weekend we had friends to stay, and guess what? Tess and I (she's on the Cropredy pictures Alan mentioned) sat having a cheerful chat while JD disappeared upstairs to talk Linux with Alan. Like we should have been surprised.
I didn't get around to describing Cropredy at first, but there's a brief mention down around August the 13th now.
Alan's chicken casserole wasn't at all bad. Especially when you consider that it took no effort whatsoever other than washing up the oven dish and the total ingredients were: two pieces of chicken chopped up, one tin of chicken and vegetable soup and a pile of frozen peas from the freezer. He spent the entire cooking time watching a film. There's a lesson here.
Cabletel arrived an hour early but Alan was up by then. Much noise from Above. Little sign of Alan for the rest of the day until an enforced shopping trip around 4pm. Because he's got his own cable telly box up there now and can watch Scooby Doo without coming down here.
Alan did a clue in my crossword. I am seriously impressed. "Where Ruskin went to study is not debatable (8)": --N-S-O-.
Alan has also made a toy whose benefits even I can reap. I can look at the computer for what's on the telly. I have so far managed to miss a programme about Yeti-hunting and watch QED on spontaneous human combustion. I am now disappointed to discover that there's a perfectly rational explanation and if I set fire to Alan (who has set fire to my sister before now, so it's only fair) he'd *probably* be alert enough to not burn. Pooh. (Having said that, I am wondering whether he'd even notice if I did it when he was hacking. There's a testable hypothesis in here somewhere.)
Now if he makes the computer give me Radio 4's output for the day and the Archers update, I'll be happy. I found a strange 'cricket' port in /etc/services some months ago, and on asking him about it discovered that he was getting the test match scores off the web, so I'm sure it's possible.
I was happily pratting about downstairs when there was a series of bangs and thuds from above. Now I'm rather used to this, (every time he rearranges machines there are bangs and thumps from overhead) but this is the first time the plaster has started showering down in a fine mist from between the ceiling and the wall...
So I did what any self-respecting hacker-partner would do. Checked nothing was actually on fire and ignored it. Until one almighty crash and a series of clatters.
Alan, it turned out, had deconstructed the bed.
And was now busily reassembling it and evoking all those childhood days of meccano and taking his parents' watches apart to discover whether they went back together through thought or through brute force.
We now have a bed in the small room and all the machinery in the bedroom. And all sorts of things all over the top floor of the house.
Oh, did I mention the bed got put together backwards?
Anyway, that was some time this month and I've only just recovered. I see that Alan has not thought *any* of his enforced exposure to popular 'culture' worthy of mentioning, but sudden hiccups in Linux production on Tuesday nights are attributable to the local theatre having a rep season and cheap seats being on Tuesdays. It emerges that Alan does not like farce because it doesn't make logical sense.
Alan has taken revenge for my winning in the garden stakes by declaring my pretty flowers 'weeds' and requiring some pruning. This is purely because they're encroaching onto his 'lawn'.
Cropredy's a civilised sort of festival. The toilets work, there's loo roll there, the food is good, and despite the bar stretching for about sixty yards along the field no-one really gets aggressively drunk. They just.. laugh a lot, or take all their clothes off, or try to propose to me, or stuff. Alan finds this humorous. Hm. I've always kept a journal of the things, and one day I shall stick 'em up here, and you can be entertained or get very bored. But one thing is worthy of mention here from this year.
People always erect flags and poles with lights on the top so they can find their way back in the dark (why don't they take torches, I ask myself?) and watching a bunch of hackers try to work out wind strength, forces on guy ropes and the like while merry campers just do it all with much less fuss is always fun. It was even better this year, watching said hackers' faces as they realised that despite CD player, mobile phone, Psions, laptops, and the like, they'd forgotten the tentpegs.
The situation was saved by a hacker-partner with a car and knowledge of of a camping shop a few miles away. I make no further comment on this.
The music was some of the best I've heard; Alan drowsed in the sun and I bounded around to bands, periodically returning to point hopefully at particularly wonderful clothing on sale.
And when we got back, it's the first time for ages I've not seen him go to check his email. He slept all the way back on the train, and then fell into bed.
So that was fun. Any visitors, I strongly recommend going to the whole affair.
We have window locks! I note Alan didn't include his entertaining escapades to do with installing a new lock on the back door. The tools are still there on my floor, too. But at least the door locks. And *I* have the key. No longer will it be found on the bathroom windowsill, under the latest exciting packaging materials from the postman, or in the fridge, depending on where he lost his train of thought.
Alan's weekend away in Manchester was very pleasant. For me.
The accountant was nice, if a bit baffled by the fact that we didn't want a car for the taxman. The pensions man was nice, too, apparently.
The creepie-crawlies in the garden have done excellently, and our snail collection is now beginning to worry our neighbours. Oh, and I grew a strawberry! I grew a strawberry! So much for environmental control..the plan was to attract the birds to eat the beasties. Birds like soft fruit, and we had room for strawberry runners. So the strawberry plants survived, and grew strawberries - and the little beasties ate them before the birds could. So we've helped the 'orrible beasties and failed to attract the birds to eat them. Ah well. Next year, I'm for the slug pellets.
I can't find any earthworms at all in the garden. I'm beginning to fear we have those New Zealand worms that eat our earthworms. Maybe I can train them to eat woodlice..?
I note that back in June a Firm Decision was made to Move the Bed. Um. Yes, well.. guess what? It's still crammed into the main upstairs room, along with all the computers, and since Alan's been steadily stocking up, I'm not sure it's even possible to *move* the bed any more. Even in pieces. This is very sad. It's even worse that I'm the one who signs for all the parcels at the door and manhandles them up the stairs because he's still asleep. I know he's paid by an American firm, but nothing was said about adapting an American time-zone at the same time. Life is strange.
Alan is paying for lots of theatre tickets next month so I am happy.
Alan is burbling about more conferences, but this time I have to fund myself. Pooh!
And I did the mortar board and gown thing and Alan still can't iron shirts. But he remembered the tickets, so he's improving. Yes, dear. Well, you wanted me to update this.
I just looked at him. Why me? I did try to explain that he bought them so he should take them back. To no avail. Off I went into the rain, and found out that they do refunds, but Alan had bought them on the debit card, hadn't he? So they needed to card to swipe it before they could give the money back...
Will Alan remember when he goes tomorrow?
Everything on the link slow still. Lag of ten minutes writing mail on a MUSH four hops from me. Alan goes to learning-about-business course again in yet another scruffy Linux tshirt. Which was smart when we got it. Expo seems a long time ago...
Before departing, announces that the 180Mb FTP should be about 80 percent done now -- only another morning or so to go. Runs out of door before I realise what he said. This explains much.
Who decided I was doing paperwork? Uh-oh. This could be bad.
My half of the garden has bright orange and purple flowers, strawberries ripening and the honeysuckle growing wonderfully. Alan's half has what used to be grass. Once. It died. How can you kill a lawn?
Went to visit sister. Had much better evening than Alan, I suspect, regardless of his cider and banoffee pie. We had wine, you see. Lots of it.
Um. Maybe I should rephrase that. But anyway, I have to grab some space on the bed when I can.
Of course, if I knew how to work the wretched thing, I could retaliate. Answers on a post-card please...
Alan shambles downstairs after 18 hours of sleep interrupted only by a 30 minute window of food creation and acquisition. And says "You need to do some washing; I'm out of trousers."
Yes, that washing I'd already done. Gee, I love hackers...Sometimes.
Cabinet referred do is in fact my grandmother's chest of drawers for the bedroom. Since the machines have taken over the real bedroom and we're being relegated to the cubbyhole, there is no room for it. It will *not* be replaced by computer junk. It will be replaced by path through computers and a filing cabinet. If my sister had not been willing to provide a loving home for it, then whatever Alan's Linux projects currently are, they'd have had to wait. We actually have a solid mass of clothes (and electronic junk -- amateur radio stuff, a geiger counter (don't even ask), a six foot aerial and a very old record player which still can play 78s and 10 inch discs -- anyone want that last? Please..?) heaped up looking for space. They are so heavy that I couldn't remove something from the bottom of the pile.
Doorbell broke. Alan claims to have fixed it. The next two visitors both knocked to be let in. Apparently if I file off all the green bits, the doorbell will be as good as new. It strikes me that doorbells evidently do not whet hacker minds with interest.
The toilet, however, remains fixed.
Burgers in the US are big. And yummy. Note: I'm not talking about MacDonalds here.
Airport *again*. This time it worked. Flight back uneventful except that we landed at the wrong airport (so far as our rail tickets were concerned). And the bliss of cool air was wonderful.
Arrived back. Alan went straight to bed. Muggins here chucked the clothes in the washer, unpacked, sorted his junk out, looked consideringly at the Round File In The Corner, decided reluctantly it wouldn't work ((a) he'd only moan, and (b) there was too much stuff!), logged onto #linux and went down under a hail of "Is Alan about? There's a problem with the synchronous line-maintaining widget driver when configured with the rotary bug remover" and similar. Largely from Shaver, whom I suspect darkly of having me on...
Decide I want to go to another of these things. If I write all this junk up, can I just read that out? Hee. With my luck the answer to that would be "yes: in Milton Keynes." Ah well.
Went to airport. As Alan says, our plane got more and more delayed until we were faced with 15 minutes to change at JFK and run the length of it from gate 3 to gate 40-something. I wanted to try! Alan overruled this jolly plan and altered flight to next day. Resigned self to a very boring 24 hours at airport. Rescued by Erik and Brigid, who took us home, fed us, provided a bed and were then rewarded by Alan's snoring and resorted to earplugs. Boggled at their fridge. It makes ice on the outside! And crushes it up!
Alan's talk. Oh dear gods, those slides coming back on, after a slideless talk and ten minutes trying to make them happen before that was funnier than the account of the MacLinux saga. (Mind you, I've heard most of that before. You get kind of used to 'And *another thing* about the Mac...' comments interrupting those special mealtimes after your husband's decided to beat the system. So to speak.)
Trivia quiz hysterical. Alan was absent and so doesn't quite realise that he was (erroneously) blamed for about ninety percent of the questions. (Anything ridiculously difficult or just plain stupid. Which was, as I say, about ninety percent.) I got the ones about Yggdrasil and Ratatosk though! Woo-hoo! (And the PDP 7 one, don't ask me how.) Jes smiled through gritted teeth and claimed after to have enjoyed it. Bruce Perens might not know the real answers but was damn fast on the one-liners.
Packed. Went to bar. Owe Shaver a drink. Repacked on return after Alan took the bags apart looking for something. (For the second time. Alan took everything apart looking for that book containing the talks early on Saturday because he was so unused to sending talks in early he'd forgotten what he'd actually *said* and was going to talk about...)
Heard about the paintball war. I suppose that microemacs is a *sort* of emacs, and I can't cope with vi. Tis hard. So I sulked.
'Collected Telsa' implies some intention here. Actually, I suspect him of avoiding me cos he knew I wanted tshirts. But he eventually worked out that people give him things, and getting them given was better than my trying to buy them. And anyway, he'd run out of tshirts. So, yes, he found me. And gave me lots of tshirts to carry so he'd have both hands free to play with the exhibits.
Barbecue was fun, although I needed a native guide (and hijacked Eric Raymond) to explain this odd food to me (I'm allergic to some foods). Miguel and Nat playing with laptops and IR links was so funny to watch. Reminded me of old Apricot keyboards at Aber which had this 'feature' linking the keyboards to the computers. Alan used to go around with a keyboard, one hand on the reset key, and walk into labs of these machines and zap machines (in use, yes) as he walked past...
Went back to bar. Owe Puffin a drink.
Adaptec and Sun might have been there but I just kept staring at the Corel things going "why can't Alan want these?". This was precipitated by Dave Niemi's gift of an obsolete card to Alan which was about the size of the Netwinder. Gee, thanks, Dave. This was not the only article he managed to acquire, sigh.
I went to more talks than Alan, despite the fact that I wasn't feeling too well and went home early, and had to miss the Greenshields jaunt, which sounded hysterical. In more ways than one. Is it true that someone told the three outnumbered staff 'see you tomorrow!' as they all left? Evil.
DaveM gleefully recounted the fact he had a room all to himself, went to bed early to catch much-needed sleep, and was heard the next morning recounting Miguel's somewhat bouncy 2am entry.
Friday (24th): Train to Heathrow. Slept there overnight. At midnight the staff woke everyone sleeping on the benches up and moved the benches. We all went back to sleep. At 2am they vacuumed the empty benchless space. We all went back to sleep. At 6am they woke us all up and moved the benches back. We stayed awake that time.
Flight to JFK was fun. Found a control pad on my chair. Somewhat to my disappointment it was not for the ejector seat and Alan didn't install Linux on it. JFK customs nowhere near as bad as we feared. At the baggage carousel we met someone also going to Expo (hi, Adam!)
Flight then to Raleigh-Durham was also fun, although a much smaller aircraft. The fact that the rows skipped from 12 to 14 with no row 13, combined with the first two things I saw outside JFK being adverts in the clouds and a *huge* stretch limo (our minibuses aren't that long!) made me realise that this was going to be a fun trip.
Bryan met us at the airport and drove us to the hotel and soundly disproved Alan's 'you bought a truck? Bet you never get it off the road' comments on IRC. Thank you, Alan...
Over Memorial weekend investigated hotel cable tv (oh dear!), free drinks (yum), grits for breakfast (aka: porridge) and much, much US hospitality. This last continued all week and if I mention everyone who was lovely at us this would be a *long* entry.
Erik took us to Redhat on the Monday. He claims for work, but I reckon so he could slave-drive everyone else for the rest of the year by pointing out he was in work that day. Note (if he tries it) that we lit out by lunchtime. (Chapel Hill bookshops are way cool, incidentally.)
Erik also managed to make Alan do his slides in advance. A miracle! How he did this in one sentence when I've been moaning at Alan for weeks I'm not sure, but it's a shame that the events of the talk took the shine off this.
The softball match, the heat, how to spot Jes in a crowd and much else will have to go for reasons of space.
Prodded Sir into sorting out the insurance, the American money and where we're actually going. Find out that he hasn't wired the printer back up since moving things. Endeavour to memorise strange aeroplane incantations. Give in and write it down.
Update: Alan is doing gardening! Outdoors! With no computer near him! (This usually means he's broken something but apparently not this time.) He's killed lots of weeds. With his bare hands! Wow. (He'll probably have a rash at Expo now.)
Some weeks ago mention was made of moving lots of machinery about and how it resembled Sokoban only bigger. We ended up stuffing all manner of things all over the place to get other things where they should be. And then - stopped. And there were one or two residual items left homeless. Well, finally, one of the monitors has made it out of the bathroom. Hooray!
Alan looked at my comment about his going to see the band and laughed. And didn't. And had to cook his own tea as a consequence. The kitchen is now messy. Messier.
I have to be nice to him, though, because he bought me lots of CDs. I keeping trying to persuade him that we don't want more Red Hat CDs; we want people to send us lots of my favourite bands instead. Somehow, 'version x.oddnumber' doesn't have quite the same ring to it as Show of Hands, or Shave the Monkey, or all the rest.
Wandering down at 9.30pm and saying 'it must be tea-time by now' is not necessarily going to result in instant food. Not if we've run out of frozen pizza, at least.
Excitements of the day: the toilet broke and Alan discovered how to drown snails. No, they're not related.
I'm not sure why the toilet broke, but we fixed it by generally attaching things back together and seeing which arrangements didn't involve water spraying about. Memo to self: turning water off beforehand a good idea. Snails -- leave the watering can outside and they all climb in. I'm really impressed by this contribution to zoology.
How to make a web page: tell your husband what you want and that you don't *care* what it looks like with graphics, just so long as it works with Lynx. (I have a little terminal of my own downstairs which doesn't do graphics but does let me play about on the net. And we used to have a radio modem at some ridiculous edge-of-the range distance and 60% packet loss but Lynx would actually fetch pages. So I like Lynx :))
Husband's revenge for the 'extra work' (five minutes' worth): call the 'hobbit' photos 'boggie', and wait until 40 people or so have looked at them with those names, and then announce the page is up.
Amazing what advanced topology can do when you ignore it completely and just determine that no matter the theory, the box *is* going in. Once it got through the outer door, the inner door was no problem. Apart, that is from the doorhandle.
It ended with me collapsing in giggles. I let go the box. And it stayed there. Wedged in mid-air. With Alan on the outside, unable yet to shut the outer door...
Two weeks later summoned up the courage and energy to transport it up the stairs. Dear me.
And the TV was Scooby Doo. Again. Quote of the night: "yes I know I've seen this one, but it's a good episode." Um. Yeah. (The Chinese temple, for those who care)
Amateur radio rally. He also survived the explosion of wrath when he came home with said article. Cue wifely wail of "But you *promised* not to buy anything!"
Steeeeve's wedding: was jolly, if far too hot. Alan wouldn't dance, but I met a nice man in a kilt who would.
I've been asked for a more obvious feedback route. So there you are! But please note: This should be clear from the above, but: I am not a kernel hacker. I am not an anything hacker. "Is this diary true?" will get answered. (It is.) "I have a problem compiling the brainsplat module under the pre-sliced option terminator; I am using the mutability framewedger on the standard infernalisation build" will not. (Well, it might be answered in a similar vein, but for a real answer, look elsewhere. It's much safer.)