The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

May 29th

Thank you to all the people who read the Expo account and emailed to tell me that Terry Bisson wrote "Bears Discover Fire". I know now, thanks :)

Barely seen Alan, but today I found out that (a) he's finished Civilisation on the easy version, and (b) the latest kernel patch he produced says the system "stands up fine to the Civilisation test". Uh-huh.

Still experiencing jetlag: I want to get up and to sleep at horrible hours, though not as horrible as Alan's, of course.

Some smashing storms since Thursday night: cracks of thunder rather than rumbles, and all the lights flickering ominously. Being the responsible souls we are, did we power down, have a UPS installed or anything like that? Of course not. Sat on IRC with local friends saying "Wow, that was a good one! Did you see that?".

Sister visiting. Loaded her down with penguin toys to start colonising her home area. Went out for meal, and a miracle happened: Alan did not have a dessert.

Alan finally persuaded to shift "important computer bits" from bedroom into computer room (we switched the rooms round last summer). Shifted them into two very small boxes to keep and three extremely large boxes to go into the bin. All sorts of detritus unearthed: everything from an Amiga box and a 20cm SCSI cable to twenty feet of ZX Spectrum printer output (it really does look like silver toilet paper) and certificates stating that Alan is safe to ride a bicycle on his own and can swim 40 feet.

I have done a deal with Alan over space and must lose my record player. If anyone would like a mono record player that's about forty years old and plays four speeds (33, 45, 78 and 16), please let me know! It's not very big, and it works better than his (but his is stereo, so we keep that). It is also eminently fiddle-with-able.

May 26th

Okay, the Expo story (which in the cold light of day looks completely uninformative) is now at Expo 99: the non-technical version. And now I know why I woke up at about 6am this morning: it's when Alan's Civilisation-building collapsed.

He started playing it, incidentally, at about 11pm. No comment.

May 25th

Alan has written half an account of Expo, I see. I've done a quick run-through of the easier half: the non-technical stuff, and he's going to put it somewhere on the other side of the modem as it's a bit long. 35k. Whoops. When he gets around to it, I'll stick the URL here.

Remarkably, Alan was up by noon. I am in shock.

May 24th

Came back from Expo. Was lots of fun. More when Alan has written something I can comment on and when I'm properly awake. There's quite a bit to fill in. Star Wars, hot weather, many bars and a dancing robot (ahem). Also, sushi, a trip to the zoo, glow-in-the-dark drinks glasses, one copy of "Cryptonomicon" and two reels of film to develop. I think I shall put them on a site that has better bandwidth than this, if any are any good. There may even be Linux-related stuff, too.

May 14th

Set off for Expo. A bit early, yes. Set off at 2am UK time. Arrived 9pm US time (don't ask me to translate the two). Slight panic when we realised there was no room service for food, but luckily there was a place to eat that was "just within walking distance". 200 yards away. Ahem.

Many apologies from Doug and Jessica, who met us, for the "bad weather". (It was drizzling a bit.) It's very hot here.

May 13th

Packed for Expo.

May 11th

That'll teach me to make silly comments. Alan got back at 2.45am. By the time the train got to Newport it was an hour late and just in time for a bomb scare further up the line at Cardiff, so he ended up in a taxi.

As I remember he said something about "Various people said hello to you, but I can't remember who at the moment". And then he fell asleep. So: if that was you, then hello.

May 10th

Alan has stolen my train vouchers for netproject tomorrow. Re-reading the apology letter that accompanied them, I perceive some minor errors. I still have a copy of what I sent, but I'm beginning to believe no-one ever read it.

The envelope should have warned me. They got my surname wrong. They got the area of Swansea I live in wrong. They got my postcode wrong. My handwriting isn't that bad, but all of these were printed on my letter to them to avoid precisely this problem. Looking at their reply, I find that my complaint about a journey from Swansea to Exeter via London Paddington has been responded to with an apology for my journey to London Euston, a place I have never (knowingly..) been to in my life (unless they took us on the scenic journey, I suppose...) And the whole thing begins by referring to my "recent correspondence received 2nd March". Recent? This thing's dated 3rd May.

This approach to time, of course, explains a lot about the Virgin timetable.

I begin to doubt Alan's chances of arriving in time for his talk tomorrow.

I was going to scan in my letter and the reply, but I can't, because Alan hasn't tested things since he moved things round in the machine room (he does this every two days, at a guess), and such is his faith in the stability of Linux that "he doesn't want everything to break if the scanner sulks". So he claims, at least. Looking at the heap of junk on top of the scanner, I suspect it's more that he might have to return some of the CDs to downstairs, put the Jolt bottles in the bin, and find out where he's supposed to be putting the heaps of paper...

May 9th

Email slightly better. I can now run a mail-reader again, but although Alan is receiving his mail, mine is getting lost. Alan was eventually persuaded that this was interesting and fixed it. Sort of. Broke my editor for me, but fixed it.

Found an abandoned box of penguin mints, half-full. Hid it. Now I can't find it. Either it's in such a safe place that I'll never find it again, or Alan found it anyway.

May 8th

Started stacking filing cabinet. I fear this was a mistake, as Alan will now be inclined to regard it as a permanent fixture downstairs.

Decided windowmaker is nice. For some reason, though, something wasn't working entirely right. Found the source rpm, was very brave and spent 40 minutes watching it build, giggled at the messages "Checking for (specific thing)... uh oh", was about to install it, discovered I'd got the wrong version. Well done, Telsa. Got right one. Gnome still refuses to admit it's Gnome-compliant and won't give me a pager. Pooh!

A friend of Alan's came to visit, Jean, which seemed a good opportunity to go for a meal again. Twice in one week. This is fun!

Alan decided to upgrade email to fix something. This, for reasons best known to him, required upgrading everything else on the (rather old) machine that has the mail. Email went mad.

One of the two railway companies I complained to after the craziness of trying to reach London for netproject replied, with vouchers! Just in time for the next netproject...

May 6th

I can't believe Alan is commenting on the size of the gateau that arrived for dessert. He not only polished off three large courses, but finished mine when I couldn't eat it all...

May 5th

Alan had to get up by 11 today as a phone call was expected. To my secret glee, the phone call didn't happen, with the result that he was up all morning.

The other expected incident today was the arrival of a filing cabinet. I am so fed up of falling over lists of jumper settings, piles of PC case screws, screwdrivers, empty Jolt bottles, and documentation in what Alan calls "dead tree" form that when Alan arrived back from Iceland I told him I'd bought him a filing cabinet. Alan was not exactly overwhelmed by this, so I had to drag him to the shop on the excuse of looking at printers to demonstrate that it was quite a small filing cabinet, really.

Well, it looked small in the shop. When it arrived today, it looked slightly larger. The delivery guy was clearly sceptical that it would get through the door. I was chatting to a neighbour outside the door (good timing, I thought) whilst Alan and the delivery man manoeuvred the thing through the door. When I tried to get back into the house I realised that it was going to have to move from its place in the hall very soon.

Alan hadn't (of course) cleared a space for it in the Black Hole, so after some hilarious attempts at moving the thing, demonstrating again that a hacker's grasp of practical life is driven only by theory ("Well, if you take the weight on that end, then it will go onto the trolley. Simple principles of physics...Oh. Erm..." Long pause punctuated only by giggles on my part and head-scratching on Alan's), it's currently ensconced in the telephone alcove.

Getting it up the stairs will be a laugh.

May 4th

There is one good thing about the accountant ringing up in the mornings. Alan has to get out of bed.

Alan is now horribly busy trying to catch up with stuff and has left me in charge of "organising a new filing system". (Paper, I note, for those who think of filing systems as being something to do with computers.) This is going to be fun. Organising Alan is an interesting experience.

I have found gnome-pim after his foolish "but Telsa doesn't have this" remark, and in the hunt for it I found a rather promising looking GNOME program: gAlarm which has most definite potential. If "Get up!" doesn't work, I plan to find a sound file of a disc head smashing into the disc, as I'm sure that'll have him up in a hurry.

Note to all ISPs: the link going down at the same time as Telsa hits control-alt-backspace makes for a rather panicked Telsa.

Alan apparently had a great time in Portugal, and comments that at least a third of the Portuguese language involves waving one's hands about. I'll bet he fitted right in there, then.

May 3rd

Whee! He's back, the bag is in the middle of the floor, and he's apparently had much fun. And what did he bring me back from the land of wine and sherry? Four plastic penguin heads, that's what. How ... useful.

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.)