Telsa's diary: February 1999

Warning: These are old.

March 1
Blitzed kitchen. Discovered that now I have bought extra sultanas for Alan, he seems to have stopped eating them. Alan up horribly late again but this is becoming so normal I think I'll only mention it when he gets to bed before 2am, as that will be more of a momentous occasion.
February 28
Came back. On time! Woo-hoo! Swansea raining. Alan proudly pointed to washing up (done, mostly) and enjoined me not to look at empty state of washing machine, nor to comment on rest of house.

Then caught Alan attempting to dispose of double chocolate fudge cake before I noticed. It's good to be back.

February 27
Went to visit sister. British Rail managed to get me there only twenty minutes late. And smirked a lot at our complaints. Hmm.

Admired her photos of panda bottoms (don't ask) and Alan (not same photo, no!) a lot. Read Alan's diary whilst I was there. Suspect that his "nice long snooze" was probably until about 5pm. Suspect also that he bought chocolate whilst I wasn't around. Gave her some "Linux inside" stickers. Now she has to make this true.

February 24
I should be able to send the zoo the penguin money by Friday at the rate people who offered at the weekend have got the cheques in the post. Wow.

Found the X HOWTO, spent a happy hour rearranging fonts and colours. Alan not impressed by my idea of matching colours. This from the man with the black-on-black windows for a while?

Watched television. Enchanted by idea of taking a balloon trip across the NSA's UK listening base. Think I'll sign up at Menwith Hill Tours and hope this doesn't end up meaning I'm permanently banned from visiting the states.

February 23
Went to check ingredients for pudding. Discovered that Alan has eaten about two pounds of sultanas without my noticing over the last week. When I realised he was prone to stealing sultanas (as well as grated cheese, and pieces of salad, and anything I have weighed out and left unattended for more than a minute) I bought him his own bag. He has ignored that and eaten the ones in the cupboard instead.
February 22
I've had about a dozen offers of penguin-funding: I think it may be safe to assume we've got the money sorted now, before we end up sponsoring it into 2005. Thanks a lot to everyone.

Alan went shopping for a printer cartridge and "accidentally" went at the time the stationery shop was closed. This forced him to head into the computer shop instead. Which was having a sale at the time. Groan. "Well, it's a soundcard I didn't have!" is apparently a perfectly valid response, but it doesn't explain all the rest of what he brought back.

I've been trying to get the hang of sed on and off to tidy up this page (to remove the time-consuming tables whilst keeping the entries roughly right). I still haven't worked it out, but Alan did some magic and the nasty tables have gone away. When they go away from the old pages, you'll know I got the hang of it.

February 21
More wheeks! and buzzes through the afternoon. Only respite was whilst "Time Team" was on the telly. More penguin email. I think we're halfway there already. Whee.
February 20
Lots of penguin-lovers read my diary at the weekend, it seems!

Alan reverted to normal (?) waking hours today, but I got lots of other things done whilst he slumbered. At the end of the day (for me, not him) I went to bed but didn't sleep for a bit because there were lots of "Wheeee" noises and beeps emanating from the next room. That'll be a soundcard, then. And a happy Alan.

February 19
Thank you to everyone who saw my comments about new computers and Netscape and correctly surmised that until recently I hadn't really seen much of the graphics side of the web and suggested places to look at. I am now amply supplied with reading material until about 2010!

Alan got up really really early today and switched the alarm clock I use off. Waking up after Alan has utterly confused me. I have no idea whatsoever what caused this. I can't understand it. I have even checked the computer room in case this was some plot to smuggle Really Big Machines Past Telsa at 6am, but apparently not.

And every time I ask, he just laughs. I am feeling paranoid.

Tidying up I found all the sponsored penguin papers that Dick Porter gave me when I stupidly asked "Who's doing it this year, then?". You can see what this is all about at the Project Penguin pages at I don't own those pages, btw, and it's not my fault the counter is broken :) It started two years ago when someone rather foolishly suggested that what Linus really needed was a penguin (actually I suggested that Alan needed one and Alan said er, no, he could live without a penguin, thank you, but he knew a man who deserved one..) and people banded together to sponsor one at Bristol Zoo. Alan coordinated it the first year, Dick Porter the second, and I found out how Dick got the job when I asked him "Who's doing it this year?" and he said, "I was waiting for someone to ask. Here's the papers."

Thank you, Dick.

The penguin costs UKP280 per annum to house and feed (obviously only fed on best-quality herring, this one).

So apparently I need to find 10 people (groups, AIs, I don't really care) to put 28 pounds each towards maintaining a penguin. Or 20 people who put 14 UKP in it. A quick check of the logs here shows plenty of UK folks read this. So: if you'd like to sponsor the penguin for its third year, let me know. A caveat: this has to be UK currency. There is no easy way for me to change money. (Don't say "You can change it on a credit card." I don't have one.) Cheques to me in pounds will probably be the only thing I can cope with. I'll get the names up on the penguin site once it's done, or rather I'll poke Alan to. (And if I can track down last years sponsors, we can add those too.)

February 18
Alan (according to his diary) did a lot today. I caught up on the entirety of userfriendly, bought a lot of Jolt and went shopping for the things Alan forgot.

There was supposed to be a joint cooking session tonight. About 7pm I went and reminded him. He said he'd be along in a minute and turned back to the computer. At about 11pm I began to think, "Perhaps not, then?"

February 17
Woken early by Mr Postman. With a parcel for Alan. What a surprise. When he emerged he announced it was actually for me. A serial card. Just what I always wanted..

Apparently it means I can plug my nice vt420 and keyboard back in. Which is good, because I've almost finished UserFriendly and I think that after that, Netscape is only going to come out when there's a real need (like specifically looking for a picture). Anyway, I can stick the terminal I like back into the side of the computer that Alan thinks I should be using. This, of course, meant getting the card into the computer first. And since it was mine (ostensibly), I wanted to have a go.

Alan started reading the card stuff and almost decided it was too good for me and would fix something else, but I think he decided I could have it when I said I wanted to read the instructions. He laughed. I didn't see why.

Then I tried to read them. Alan says I'm just lucky that they were in English. :( He magnaminously agreed to help (ie: tell me what on earth it all meant and laugh a lot), and together we got the wretched thing inside.

His instructions of "don't force it, be gentle, touch the radiator before you start" (!? Touching wood would have been more appropriate, I feel) all went for a burton when it proved extremely resistant to gentle handling. When he announced we really needed a spanner I nearly fainted. And as for knocking great holes in the back of the case so that the connectors (whatever) could come out at the back... At least I know why they're called jumpers now. They jump across the room when you finally get the little beggars out. They don't jump half as far as Alan when he got a shock from the capacitor, though.

So we got it in, and rebooted, and.. it no work. Alan had read the wrong jumper settings out. So we had to take it all apart again. Argh! This time a screw got dropped inside too, and I was introduced to when you completely ignore the "Don't shake it up too much, the disk won't like it" rule. Turn it all upside down and rattle, and the screw comes out. Er.

Is this really what he does all day?

It worked the next time. All we needed then was a cable for the little terminal. That means I need to tidy more of the computer room in order to find some cables to try, or so Alan tells me.

I think I've been conned.

February 16
Alan just won't leave what is supposedly *my* computer alone. All the the morning (ahem, early afternoon, but his morning) he was popping downstairs to "check" things so that we could make it talk to the machines upstairs. I'd come out of the kitchen and find - every time - that "check" did not mean "look at". It meant "tinker".

After agreeing that no, he would leave it alone so I could try to do things myself, he promptly announced that "pppd will work now". And started to disconnect my beloved little terminal from the wire in order to plug the new telsa-box (it's called aloss. Yes. hobbit@aloss. Well, I thought it was funny. And no, email won't reach it yet) in.

Things were not that simple. First the wire was suddenly too short. The same wire that had worked for a year. That was fixed. Then something else wouldn't work. This -- claims Alan -- is because the wire was running backwards? Yes, Alan. (I'm probably ruining his reputation here, but I did think it was funny.) Then there was something else to mess with. And of course, every time he decided something needed changing, he tried to steal my keyboard (which is a horrid one, and I'm swapping it for his tomorrow morning whilst he's asleep) and do it himself. He has tons of computers to play with. Why pick on mine? After some negotiation (of the "Gerroff! You've got sixteen, leave me play with mine!" variety) he agreed he'd just help rather than doing it. My resulting attempts to type what he tried to explain to me caused a few problems of their own (in addition to this keyboard). Alan is not used to people who need to be told that there is a hyphen in ifcfg-eth0 but no, there is no e in resolv.conf.

It works now, and there is probably more that needs doing, but after adding some more programs that both Red Hat and Alan unaccountably fail to realise are absolutely vital (like tinyfugue..) I had to try Netscape and graphics and X and exciting things like that. So I've been hitting all sorts of places now I can see pictures on the web. And I dread to say this, but I've decided most pages (especially his, what a vile photo) look better without them.

February 15
Had words with BT. BT had words with person with fax machine from Friday. Hooray. Alan offered to help sort out the computer room mess. Started by carrying down one monitor, one keyboard, one mouse and a machine to downstairs and announcing they belonged down here. So I went up there with a big bag... After much time, had cleared one binbag's worth of detritus, made one two yard square of clear floor, Alan promptly put a big box down in the space and I sneaked out with the binbag and all the spare change I'd picked off the floor. I have made 22p and 78 cents. And several schillings.

Plugged the machine in, played with it, broke lots of things, had to slap Alan for trying to help by saying "here, let me" and grabbing the mouse. This is a peril of hacker partners. They see something break, they *have* to try it themselves.

Not necessarily to fix it, you understand. First they want to know whether they can break it that way too.

February 14
Hmm. I don't call 3am Monday morning, "sometime on Sunday." I do call it pretty typical, mind you. Around midnight I did check the news stories, but seeing no "Another British tourist is cause of aeroplane trouble" headlines I concluded that he probably hadn't got into a row with flight staff about whether palmtop computers being used would cause the plane to crash and probably hadn't attempted to install Linux on the autopilot.

I told him this, and he seemed shocked that I would even think of such a thing.

February 13
Alan due back tomorrow. I have not managed to clean the computer room. Blast. When's the next conference?
February 12
Technology plague day. Parcel for Alan and repeated phone calls from a fax machine that must be lonely and think I am a fax. I get "(Pause) BEEP! (Pause) BEEP! (Pause) BEEP!". Hmm.

Oh yes: for the people who've asked, I should explain that the game which goes "whirly-whirly round and you click on them and they vanish" is called "Same gnome" or something and is on the games bit of the footprint thing you click on in Gnome. (Technical, huh?)

February 10
Realised something unchanged in bathroom despite absence of Alan. Sponge bag (for travelling without toothpaste leaking onto tshirt and soap ending up inside a sock) is still there. Investigated. Discovered Alan had carefully removed everything from the sponge bag and taken the contents with him. But not the sponge bag.

Swansea covered in light dusting of snow (most unusual, we're on the coast and hence warm here). Very pretty.

February 9
Tidied. Tidied a lot. Tidied more. Did bank stuff. Sorted papers. Fixed central heating. Raised loads of dust. Now sneezing.
February 8
Today was hardly any better. Alan did much computer stuff after a late (ahem, very late) start and then headed out to town. Within five minutes there was a ring at the doorbell. More parcels.

Three boxes. Big boxes. I can physically climb into the smallest one and probably get the lid shut (only Alan might have taped it down again so I didn't. Well, okay, I did, but not for long). I couldn't leave them in the hall for him because he wouldn't have been able to get into the house.

He headed off to Vienna later that night, leaving me with boxes galore and hundreds of small polystyrene filler objects. I was going to sew a beanbag and put them into it (waste not, want not) but a quick test in the back yard of what happens when you chuck a match on them has put me off that, given the fact we have candles out at times. It would be quite handy to have a heat source, as as soon as the washing machine was fixed, the central heating broke, but that's not the source we really needed. And of course as soon as the central heating broke, the weather got colder.

February 7
I'm not sure what to make of today at all.

About 3.30am Alan announced on his way to bed that he was getting up at 7.15 to go visit people. I confess to a certain amount of scepticism. He got up, left, I and my sister had a productive non-computer-interrupted day, she went in the evening, and I popped onto IRC. Where people told me Alan was on his way home with computers. That's when I discovered he'd been to a computer fair.

Sigh. And it got worse...

He arrived back before I could change the locks so there is now a monitor downstairs. The machine and keyboard is upstairs. And I have the horrible feeling they're my responsibility now. He got bored of my invasions of the computer room with wails of "I want to play that game! You know, they all go whirly-round and you click on them and they vanish!" and had apparently decided that what I wanted was a computer of my very own. And threw the Red Hat book at me, said, "There's the floppy, you'll have to do an NFS install, you can't just do the workstation version, and the network card is a 3c501. Here's the network address and you want to work out what the videocard is and where the mouse is plugged in by looking at the back."

Thanks, Alan. Er, yeah.

Rather to my surprise, it worked. It didn't take long; I probably spent longer happily nuking packages I didn't want in order to make some space on it. It - of course - doesn't yet have the game where they all go whirly-round and you click on them and they vanish, but apart from that, it's done.

(Not that I believe that for a minute, but I can live in hope.)

February 5
Thanks to the folks who pointed out my life appeared to be running backwards. Diary date entries fixed. Shame life ain't that easy! Much busy stuff which is all very boring.

Until today, when the washing line took off.

Yes. Catching up on much housework and needing extra space after filling the washing line, I took the airer (one of those contraptions that fold up which you spread clothes out on to dry) outside, too, and put sheets over it. The wind blew up, got up under the sheets, and sent it all into the air. Alan stood in the kitchen laughing his socks off as I grabbed the frame as it passed me at eye-level. Problem temporarily solved by tying it down to a half-brick. Half an hour later, it dragged the half-brick along the ground. I need something heavier. Hmm. What's up in the computer room at the moment?

There is another box downstairs (the cardboard kind). On the pretext that Alan "will throw it out, really, but I have to check that everything works first in case something needs to go back." He can now put this off indefinitely, knowing I will have no clue whether anything works. Pooh.

Sister came to visit, arriving in evening, bearing gifts from a recent American visit. Sister gave Alan a catapult (note to Americans and Australians: you call this a slingshot: a Y-shaped piece of wood with elastic or rubber band which is used to propel objects at great speed). Sister and Alan tested whether it was true that penguins don't fly.

Penguins fly.

February 2
Washing machine fixed. Hardware problem! Left Alan to his own devices whilst I and a friend went to visit other friends. Came back much much later after car refused to start unless a particular person turned the ignition keys. Discovered remnants of chip shop run in bin. Alan obviously in need of good food tonight.
February 1
The penguins were having such a gossip I didn't like to disturb them. Alan must have been bored whilst something was compiling.
January 30
Alan's hours are getting silly again. So I went with home-improving car-owning friends to Homebase: one of those warehouse-sized DIY shops. I now have many plans for when Alan is out of the house (or the country, for safety) next. The way to stop yourself being bored to tears in home improvements shops is to go with friends who have no sense of embarrassment and are prepared to dance to the piped music, attempt to phone each other on the showerhead display (well, they *looked* like phones) and take photos of this and other silliness.

Came back, did shopping, did more shopping, messed about, noticed it was 4pm, wondered if he was actually going to get up. I suppose it is Saturday, but it is rather hard to come up with meals that serve as breakfast for him and tea for me.

Rearranged all the penguins for something to do. Either Alan rearranges them when I'm not looking, or they're alive. They're never in the same place twice or doing the same thing.

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.)

Valid HTML 4.01!