The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

September 3rd

Friend was round after borrowing Linux books for more "what else do I need to know before switching from Windows?" chat. Conversation meandered onto security and having code that people can see. I wonder if he's seen the news today? :)

Went to cinema with Alan and Dick. Many trailers. I have now seen all the bits of "American Pie" that people have told me were funny, so I don't need to see that any more. Especially if those were the highlights. Apparently we only get Blair Witch Project at Hallowe'en. Degree-level marketing, that.

Watched South Park. Evil Canadians, evil Canadians! I must get to OLS or something, I must.

September 2nd

Much weirdness with a mailing list I (try to) run occurred, to the extent that I had to grab Alan to work out what was going on. Poor man spent an hour scratching his head and running strange sendmail options. It's quite neat to watch every stage of one machine delivering mail to another. When you don't have to understand it, at least.

I know he was building something today. No clue what. But at the start of the day it was "I'll just build this." Halfway through it was "Hmmm. It'll take another five minutes. Maybe. Or half an hour." And by the end it was "I don't think I'll be going out this evening." It built in the end, though. Whatever it was.

So we grilled some bacon and finally got to try maple syrup and bacon. We are now very low on maple syrup. But it's been fun :)

September 1st

Alan nipped out before the accountant arrived, and arrived back to find the accountant already here. He redeemed himself by having been delayed at the computer store and giving me some more memory for my computer. I think this is a case of "giving the sort of present you'd like to receive".

So I went "yea!" and grumbled cos he hadn't done the backups, and when they were done, opened it all up, and "just put that in there", and much of the inevitable "are you _sure_ this is designed to.. whoops" ensued, and then he found a cable that would let me hear noise from the CDs, and it wouldn't fit, so we took a craft knife to the CD sound cable, and then the knife - and the cable, together - went through the thing we were using to cut on (they're sturdy, these cables, I'll give them that..) so then the knife got applied to the connector on the board itself, and...

Anyway, it's connected now, and it's not going to come out in a hurry.

To my dismay, my computer, which had had 32 megs of RAM, didn't like the 64 megs thing Alan bought, so I couldn't have 96 (aww!), and then it didn't like the 64 one, so we cannibalised parts of something upstairs, added the 32 megs from that to the 32 I had already, and the 64 is going back into the remnants upstairs.

"It'll be easy", said Alan at the start with a meaningful pause. "You can do it yourself". (One of his more double-edged compliments, I must say.) It took four attempts, and then when it all worked with the lid off and we put the screws on the case, the fan started trying to eat the cables.

And I have just discovered that I have had a really screwed .profile for ages, but because I so rarely log out and back in again, let alone reboot, it's probably been like that for two months. Ahem.

August 31st

Conversation on the phone to the tax people over the non-existence of the person they sent their "is this the right NI number?" to would have been funny if we hadn't gone through it all before. I kept my surname when I married Alan. So there's an A G Cox and a T C Gwynne here. Somehow, the tax folk have decided that clearly my NI number belongs to T G Cox.

August 30th

Bank holiday (ie not a work day) in the UK day. So Alan didn't work on his computer. He just... plaued on it. And forgot to look out a CD sound cable for me.

August 29th

Alan needs to go on another conference and get his body clock back to something sane. Barely seen for much of today, enabling me to watch huge amounts of Blakes Seven and Dr Who in the morning whilst overloading the link again.

I am very proud because I wrote a shell script :) It's not a very impressive one, and everyone who's seen it so far has suggested a different way to do it (a different way for each person, too), but it sets my nethackoptions and that's all I wanted.

Alan attempted to tidy up at one stage after he lost his chequebook. Stupidly, I wrote the cheque, and his interest in tidying until his chequebook was unearthed waned after that. On the plus side, a number of things waiting to go upstairs finally got there. Alas, the filing cabinet was not one.

August 28th

Not really a lot to write about. Alan's been busy (even more) for this week. I have decided I don't mind him playing on his new machine because it compiled netback for me in about zero seconds flat. It has its uses after all. Alan now has some cuddly toy from South Park (no, I don't know which: it's got a green hat and an orange coat and says, "I've learned something today", "Dude!" and "You bastard!"). Alan says when it goes "Dude!" it reminds him of Miguel.

Oh yes. One of the (many) gadgets he acquired in Canada was a laser pointer that hangs off his belt. He has discovered that the Furby will react to it. What fun.

I have just realised that I have not felt the need to tinker with my .muttrc for at least a week. I'm amazed. Maybe I should put in some colours.

Alan has been tinkering with the Portaloo code all week and has now managed to work out how to find out what's on any tv channel at any time. Our interest in television can be shown by the fact that so far this has resulted in us watching one programme. Unfortunately, it started at about midnight and carried on until about 5am. (Lots of rock videos.) It's now rather late Saturday and he's still not surfaced.

This week has also seen its share of mystery packages and confused deliverymen. First one came with a deliveryman peering down the street, looking back to the address, which included the company name (Building Number Three, which was funny at the time,) and muttering, "Oh, so it's not a building, then?"; second one went to the address of where Alan used to work. Luckily, where Alan used to work is still populated by people who don't mind the occasional misdirected package. They were particularly pleased with the penguin mint delivery a while ago, and claimed several boxes of them as 'storage fees'. We collect such things faster now :)

August 23rd

Swansea can be very strange at times. On the Saturday we were in town and got caught up in a parade put on by a festival. And then the next day I saw a small girl clutching an inflatable plastic alien. It was almost bigger than her.

August 22nd

The excitement of the new machine (whatever it is) is wearing off. He slept in again. I decided to download lots of files, and was rewarded with the startling about-face of, "What's clogging the modem?" "Just me. I'm just getting some files." "All my mail's coming through in burps!" "I'm nearly finished, don't worry."

First time the conversation's been that way around :)

Discovered wterm, discovered its transparent terminals, then found gnome-terminal did this too, and preened immeasurably. Don't need a super-fast machine, either. He can send it back, now.

Alan is in a Furby-baiting mood. The poor little thing is emitting several new sounds. Yesterday, in demonstrating its reactions to a friend, he left it on the edge of a chair, we turned away, heard a loud crash, and Alan then insisted "it had jumped". Eventually we discovered Alan had been making it dance and it overtoppled.

I think the Furby has remembered this. It says "Loud!" and "Me scared!" when Alan comes too near now.

August 21st
Crash, bang, thud, sounds of stumbling downstairs and then the announcement, "You might not be able to connect to anything for a bit". Yes, it's rearrange the computer room day again.

Some time later, he returns in triumph with a piece of wire. "What's that?" "Cable." "What's it doing down here?" "It's broken." "Erm, yes. And?" "Well, I thought I'd show you." How kind.

Connection has mysteriously reappeared but the people supposed to be fixing it haven't noticed yet, or haven't told us, anyway.

August 20th
Much entertainment on phone to do with sudden disappearance of net connection. I was rather expecting this would mean the appearance of Alan as a sociable being, but no. Lots to do without email. Connection can't be restored until Monday, apparently.

I decided it would be a good idea to defrost the freezer, and then Alan arrived to help make the process more efficient. Mmm. Much theory on where the hot bowls of water should go and how to catch the drips most effectively, and observing the results, then re-assessing. Maybe I should get him interested in the relative efficiencies of floor-washing, mopping, scrubbing, and just leaving it until the next time we defrost and need to work out where the water can be redirected.

August 19th
Parcel arrives. Sudden appearance of Alan in the morning. Very startling. Apparently related to doorbell, parcel, and my prior threats of "I'm hiding it". He promptly vanished once he'd manoeuvred exciting parcel upstairs. Much activity resulted.

I gather it's some super-fast machine. Alan insists that he's got lots of useful stuff done, but the only difference I can see is that he's switched all the bells and whistles on in enlightenment and now has transparent windows over a backdrop of a misty Scottish loch, with the water rippling at the bottom.

And he laughed at me for playing with themes?

August 18th

Alan up late. Still no exciting parcel.

August 17th

Alan up late. No exciting parcel.

August 16th

Alan up late, although cautioning me to be on the look out for exciting new parcel in the post.

August 15th

Alan up late, after exertion of penguin-watching yesterday.

August 14th

Despite knowing we were going to Bristol in the morning, Alan still came to bed really late. He was eventually coerced into getting up and we set off to Bristol to see a bunch of folks and go to the zoo. Met the bunch of folks, some of whom I'd only known from IRC, and hit the zoo. Can't find our penguin plaque! Grr! The penguins have moved to a different enclosure. Now I know why 'zoo' is short for 'zoological gardens'. Bristol Zoo really is in gardens (in the middle of a city). Very pretty, but absolutely no room to expand: there's roads on every side. Much smaller than the last zoo I went to (in America, but Everything Is Bigger In America). Alan is a menace with his digital camera now. Absolutely nothing is safe from being photographed. This includes me when in a fit of the giggles, and random stretches of water when he 'misses' with the viewfinder. (In Canada he managed to take a photo accidentally whilst crossing the road. The flash went off, which must have confused a few drivers...) Went for a meal after. I wasn't actually hungry, so split a meal with Alan, but he didn't want to split the interesting cocktails, so I got to drink all of that. Hic.

ObTrainJourneyChaos: the 90-minute journey back with no changes turned into a 3-hour journey, the last part on coach. I am getting really irritated by this. Either I am an involuntary destroyer of signals merely by being on a train travelling towards them, or the huge profits of certain train companies could be sensibly redirected towards the infrastructure. Yeah, I know we could get a car, but then I'd miss the fun conversations you get. I've met all manner of people on train journeys, from a signal-box worker who told me all about how the system used to work (and his predictions on what would happen after privatisation were uncannily accurate, btw), to troops returning from taking food and medical stuff to Bosnia, to someone who took my mention of something (I forget what) as a sign, threw yarrow stalks around, and decided they were going to move to a different town... C'mon, would you rather be stuck on your own in a traffic jam polluting the roads and being unable to have a quiet doze or nip to the loo, or be stuck on a train with lots of different people who can tell you all about different things? I even got a job offer on a train once. (Unfortunately it meant moving to somewhere neither of us wanted to live.)

Anyway, much chaos at Cardiff where the hapless station workers were trying to fit two train-loads of people into three buses and deal with other people who were somewhat unhappy with the arrangements, and we overheard our coach driver talking on the phone as we were all getting on and telling the other person "I know where the towns are, aye, but not the stations...", which was not entirely reassuring. Alan has had this happen before and seen local folks up at the front directing the coach drivers, but luckily this guy was either a brilliant psychic or exaggerating on the phone.

Despite late return, tried to sort some things out on computer. And wow: success! With the aid of a lot of assistance from the manual, the website, the mailing-list and one or two people who have spent ages courteously explaining things by email, finally tamed my attempt at a .muttrc into sanity, finding loads of typos in my .procmailrc in the process (typos in that file explained a lot, whoops). Hooray. There's loads more things to play with, but at least I'm getting somewhere now. If you read this, thanks, Tom!

August 13th

Alan is expecting another computer (sulk). I took revenge by pestering him unmercifully with the Furby. Alas, he has now worked out exactly how to make it fart and burp on demand. And he won't tell me how to, or how to stop it!

August 12th

Apparently one of Alan's copious tshirt haul from Ottawa belongs in fact to Russell King, who was also there. I know I saw it when unpacking, but foolishly I made Alan put things away. I now have to find it to send it. This is taking some time.

August 11th

9 am: Weather forecast for the morning (and eclipse): 15% chance of clear skies for Cornwall, where it's total, and 30% for those of us in the partial zone. How very... British, I suppose. Alan was supposed to be up an hour ago but has failed to surface.

9pm: Alan did eventually surface in time. Swansea was cloudy (surprise) for most of it but we did manage to produce a respectable pinhole camera, thus justifying at least one school physics lesson, and use it for the few breaks in the cloud. Then Alan got ambitious and brought out the binoculars to focus on the piece of card and we had a much nicer picture, despite his comments about "now I see why people get tripods".

No birds around to get confused (aww) and I forgot to see whether my flowers (which are the sort that close up in the dark) did anything, but the temperature dropped and the light became quite eerie. Was fun.

A friend took some lovely pictures of the partial eclipse which I have snipped a long segment from. It makes a really nice pixmap for my Gnome panel - much cooler than Alan's silly television in the panel, too :)

August 10th

Apparently everyone who wanted to see the eclipse heard the same as I did and Cornwall is practically empty. Pah. Of much more local concern is a football match tomorrow night.

I doubt Alan will see the eclipse. He was busy all yesterday and still in bed at some regrettable hour. Now 2.2.11 is out, I was expecting to see a bit more of him, but no. I'd forgotten those ac patches. And someone sent patches for portaloo. And so on.

August 8th

Alan got up at a more usual time. Ugh. I still have a cold, so curled up with books (thank you, Steve) and promptly fell asleep. No reflection on the books.

One small entertainment today. At last Alan knows how I feel. He was moaning. He'd been on some remote machine and some evil person had rebooted it without walling to warn people. He's not at all used to this and was utterly taken aback. Since this happens to me daily if I dare use his machines - and every time there is a shout of outrage from me as a window on my machine vanishes - I have very little sympathy.

I found it hilarious, actually. Do it again!

August 7th

Cold came on. Alan is not Mr Popular. This was one present from abroad I was hoping to miss.

August 6th

Alan up at a slightly less good time today, but still the morning. His cold has gone. I am feeling headachey instead. His pictures are now on his computer, but I haven't seen most of them yet.

Saw headlines in local paper. We are having a solar eclipse in Britain this week. I have known about it ever since a map of it covered the inside cover of a book I had when I was eight, and for twenty years now, I have been planning to be in Cornwall to see it. In about 1991 I was arranging to camp in a Cornish friend's cabbage patch...

However, recently I discovered that (a) everyone else in Britain has had the same idea (about Cornwall, not the cabbage patch, but read on), (b) my friend had also agreed to let about twenty other people camp in the same cabbage patch, and (c) British Rail have decided, in their wisdom, that we don't need extra trains and that releasing timetimes on time, let alone early, for the period involved was unnecessary.

Since several hundred thousand people are planning to be there, and a pile of Cornish friends are going "Argh", and the thought of British Rail having an off day does not fill me with enthusiasm, I decided that since Swansea gets more than 90%, I'd stay here, and watch with my pieces of white card with holes in them from somewhere on the Gower, a penisular which usually has some quiet spots even in tourist season.


The police have decided that if the traffic on the M5 (to Cornwall and complete black-out) gets too bad, they're going to direct people to the M4 (to here), and the local paper is claiming that there will in any case be up to ten thousand people on the Gower. I can't believe this. Well, okay, Gower's a big place, but there's only about two roads onto it, and they're the sort of roads which explain why, although Britain is a small country to Americans, we can't just cross from John o'Groats to Lands End (been there; tacky theme park) in a day.

Yuk. Maybe I should stay in the back yard. Or do as my parents in the frozen north of England are doing and watch Patrick Moore (very well-known astronomer in Britain; I missed him doing a lecture in Swansea last month. Paah.) on the television.

The biggest joke is that the chances of a clear sky are, at best, 45%.

I wonder if Alan will be awake to witness it?

August 5th

Cloudberry liqueur is lovely. Canadian bands are cool. And my Furby sneezes a lot and wants feeding. And once fed, it burps and farts. I suspect sabotage. And Alan only had it for five minutes.

Alan got up in the morning at a sensible time today. He's very confused about how.

August 4th

Woo! And the wanderer returns, with many tales (dear me), photos, and goodies. Not all computer ones, thankfully: or at least, if there were computer goodies, he had the sense to hide them quickly. This includes a Furby, which was either a stroke of genius or a very bad idea indeed. And yes, I know all about Furby dissections, thanks).

He's apparently had a great time and met lots of really nice people. Next year, I want to go, and hear all these bands, and meet all these people, and see all these sights, and - oh, it was a Linux conference?

Canadian weather sounds horribly hot, though. We had a thunderstorm last night whilst out walking, and Alan didn't want to hurry to shelter because "he'd missed proper weather". So we got wet instead.

Alan has a cold, too. He says it was Canada, and not the thunderstorm.

July 31st

Aha. Found out snippets of what Alan's been up to. He's still (wah!) in Canada, and it was his birthday a few days ago. (Well, I knew those bits already.) So some bright spark made him a cake in the shape of a puffin. I hear he took alarming pleasure in cutting the puffin up. I'm a bit worried about the hat he was apparently given. Not another one that's bright red, surely? He has also, after years saying we didn't need a camera, gone overboard with the digital one he has.

Weather in Canada sounds far too hot. Weather here is quite warm enough.

July 28th
Have chased down all Alan's vagrant socks. Have explored computer cave. Have discovered many things I thought had been lost for good.

Yet more entertainment with the link: this time it was diald, and it was on Alan's machine, so I blame him. Only thing left to go wrong is hardware now. Expect disaster. I do.

July 26th
Bad Telsa. I am so used to it being Alan (not me, nonono) who breaks things that I assume it even when he's not here. Apparently it wasn't he who broke the nameserver, which is someone else's problem and is now working again. I got to catch up with two weeks of Userfriendly at once - whee! - and two weeks of email - argh.

It's very hard to write my take on what he's up to when he's 4000 miles away. All I really know is that he left his shades in my sister's car when we dropped him at Glasgow station, and that he got up at six am local time for an interview recently in Canada. _Six am_. I'm not at all sure I believe this. I suspect it of being Canadian humour.

According to an interview with him the other day, Alan has gone native over there and is saying things like 'fall' (the word is 'autumn' here). Hmm.

July 24th
Okay, so "enjoying the sun for a bit" was a euphemism for "going on holiday for two weeks". Alan went for one week, came back early, and headed off to Canada. I got back today, peered at the washing up and contents of the bin left spilling over the floor for me (Indian take-out, Chinese take-out, pizza boxes: dear me) in resignation, and discovered that Alan has broken all the DNS. I have no idea whether anyone will read this, as I can't connect to anything beyond the modem, and I can only talk to Alan's machines with the silly number addresses rather than real names.

I can't get onto IRC to berate him. I can't get to his diary to see if he has done anything. I can't read the past two weeks of UserFriendly. This is very bad.

However, I think I remember the password to one of his machines, and people keep telling me the only way to learn is to try stuff. Hope he did a backup before he left...

July 6th
Alan still hasn't fixed the printer, but thinks he know what caused it, and suggests I email him the files to be printed. This is to his account on the same machine. I am deeply suspicious about this: I (again) suspect that the answer is in the code and something to do with "If it's Alan's job, print it. If not, be inventive".

I hope the fact that he bought me a present is a coincidence and is not a "take her mind off this possibility" tactic. One problem: Alan has now started giving me presents consisting of computer stuff. Uuurgh. I shall forgive him, though, because this computer stuff was speakers. I have already downloaded lots of Blakes 7 samples of Orac and Zen, and I can now play lots of Show of Hands MP3s. (Plug: cool band. Go see them.)

However, it's much more fun to be listening to them or singing them outside, and the sun is peeping out more, now, so don't expect too many entries for a bit. Computers can wait.

July 5th
More warm weather. Guessing it wouldn't last, I decided to give up on waiting for Alan. Since he still hasn't got the BSD games (I've been deluged by pointers to where they live and am quite capable of grabbing them - thanks to all! - I'm just determined that Alan will do this one for reasons that only make sense to me) and can't even explain why the printer is now opting only to print the first page of any file that I send it (although it will print anything _he_ sends it) I didn't think he'd be up for helping with PGP either. The last time I tried to install this was some years ago and I retired, defeated by dependencies. This time I found a nice rpm and plop, into place it dropped.

Of course, drowning in documentation as I was, it still took me far too long to realise that keys and signatures and whatnot are not all the same thing, but still. It's a start.

Got bored with computers after that. Did exciting housekeeping things. Got even more bored. Kidnapped Alan to a local Indian restaurant instead, and deprived him of his email for an entire hour and a half. I am evil.

July 4th
Weather still doing the inevitable glorious warm (but not over-hot) switches to rain and back. As a result, the washing machine is choosing to work happily now so that it can leave me pondering whether or not to hang clothes on the line.

A friend has identified my "orange stuff" in the garden as Californian poppies. Apparently they don't like rich soil and require good drainage. This probably explains why they're growing vibrantly on what is basically sand.

July 3rd
Went out for a meal with the usual gang last night. Carefully arranged seating so that I and the other non-geek were sitting next to each other. Didn't save us totally, but it helps. Conversation ranged from the inevitable "Linux on lawnmowers" (and yes, I know there's a mailing list for it.. Wince) to the benefits and drawbacks of cookies, which had a sotto voce accompanying murmur of "Cookies? Biscuits? The ones you get from the shops?" "I don't think so, no, do you...?" "No. I know he likes that sort" from we two baffled real people, for whom cookies are something you eat, boxes are made out of cardboard, and cores are found at the centre of apples.

Bizarrely, no palmpilots or Psions were harmed during the making of the bill.

Note for those people who have expressed interest in our Beeblebear (the two-headed, three-armed teddybear with an eyepatch, inspired by a certain character in a certain comedy series..) - they're still available. You have to be a member of ZZ9, the UK-based "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" fan club, but it's only a few quid to join. (Eyeing the logs of daily visits here, I'd better add: this is a small group, run by volunteers, and I doubt that they'll have more than a few of the things in stock at any one time; I also suspect the turnaround on responses is not going to be as fast as, say, Amazon, or something.) A very good friend of mine at university was a member of this group (which is how we came to have a Beeblebear in the first place) and used to come back from weekends away at conventions bubbling about the fun she'd had.

July 2nd
Oh dear, this page is getting big again. Time to chop soon, I think.

First, a thank you to the kind soul who sent me the Goldilocks in COBOL program, and to the three people who provided links to various transcriptions of it. I have all the copies I need now, thanks.

Weather has been horrible all week until today. Today Alan has been musing about radio modems again, so he can sit on the beach and hack whilst gazing out over Swansea Bay...

Apart from that, I haven't seen much of Alan this week, so I imagine he's been doing constructive things. Like...mmm, portals with very bad puns as names. And.. urr, oh yes. COBOL compilers.

But he got up before ten thirty (am) three times this week. Whee!

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.)