The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

November 4th

Retrieved DVD off a reluctant Alan (who had it almost working in one language at a time, even if the sound/vision synching was a little odd), and took it to friend's house whilst friend's hacker partner was out. Civilised afternoon watching Zorro. And Zorro trailers. And the making of Zorro. And Zorro scenes that didn't make it into the film. And lots of menus. And so on. Got bored before we could watch the version with the director's comments, though.

Watched the rugby in the evening with Alan. I see the Welsh weather has done typical things to the pitch.


November 3rd

Someone has told me that some things I said once are now in a fortune file somewhere. This is scary.

Putting the clocks back one hour doesn't seem to have made any difference to Alan's sleep cycles. This isn't much of a surprise, somehow.

Had delusions of competence and bought a serial cable for complicated reasons, with Alan's encouragement. Later discovered Alan telling people that I was going to have to use "poxy-arp" (I must have misheard) and set up some daemon I wot not of, and that he was looking forward to the inevitable resulting chaos. I am not sure this is the helpful attitude that I was anticipating...

And Alan has now got the DVD playing. A bit. With sound happening at approximately the same time as the picture. (Slowed down.) Only problem is that it's two seconds of English video and then two seconds of French video. Alternating. I suspect he's having fun here.

November 2nd

Chatting to friend on the phone. Friend used to vagaries of hacker partners. Friend has a DVD player. Friend has a day at home soon. DVD problem solved.

To the kind soul who emailed me about installations: your address is bouncing so I can't reply, but inadvertantly destroying a script that runs once-only without completing it does sound my kind of speciality, yes. It sounds even more like what Alan did. (I maintain Alan did this. I read the manual and it said to keep going, so I would have done. It was Alan who thought it would be a good idea to interrupt things in order to forestall a potential problem that turned out not to exist.)

November 1st

Eep. Alan bought a DVD today. One of my favourite recent films: Zorro. I was extremely excited until I realised that he wasn't planning on getting a DVD player and that although he can listen to the soundtrack or play the thing, he can't do both at once. In addition, the video half of it runs at about a third of the speed, so far.

I am not sure I am going to like DVDs after all if I can only watch them on his monitor upstairs in a computer room where you daren't lean on anything in case the paper has sharp things underneath, or the pile turns out to be balanced on top of a Jolt bottle (not known for stability),whilst sitting on his broken chairs. He also insists that he got it for 'research purposes', which always sounds ominous to me. If he breaks it, I shall sulk.

October 31st

Oh dear. Apparently Alan is finally joining the DVD craze. I have already told him which DVDs he is allowed to buy. Just in case.

More rugby, more madness. France knocked out New Zealand. Wow. To a cheering English crowd, who'd obviously forgotten about the beef squabble. (Don't even ask.)

Only one trick-or-treater.

I made a backtrace today. I have no clue what it means (though Alan, predictably, took one look and said, "Ohhh, I see") but it looks terribly impressive.

October 30th

Alan has been doing lots of hacking stuff, but I did see him a whole two times today. First he came down for the rugby (lesson for the South Africans: you don't need five drop-goals, you just need one at the right time), and then he was about in the evening as well. Shock.

He then beat me at every game of bagatelle we played in the evening. I don't think I like this "Alan being sociable and away from the computer" thing any more.

October 29th

You can tell it's October. We've been getting Christmas catalogues through the door. Sigh. A mere two months to go, so clearly it's time for shopping frenzy. Mmm.

Alan has now "mended" his chairs in the computer room. Sort of. I daren't ask how.

October 26th

Doorbell in morning. Vague slumbering mumbling from Alan. Apparently even the doorbell and a parcel aren't incentive enough to awaken when someone hacks until 5am the previous night.

October 25th

Hmm. Alan excelled himself today. First he broke his chair (well, my chair) in the computer room. Then he broke the spare chair. And he broke it so well that he came downstairs clutching the bits to show me and then leave behind as if he were a cat presenting me with a mouse.

He went back upstairs, and then reappeared almost instantly. The lights had gone. Disappeared back upstairs with the bulb, then came back down and headed for the fusebox...

October 24th

Oops. Slight interruption in diary, I see. Let me see if I can do the catching up in one paragraph: many parcels arrived for Alan, producing much glee and a conspicuous lack of him downstairs in favour of taking things apart upstairs. Lots of rugby (and lots of Alan laughing at my squeaks of horror during it) happened: I thought he must have got bored of it since he wasn't coming down for it until I spotted the TV picture in a quarter of the screen (replacing Civ:CTP). Weather varying from pouring rain to cold to bright sun. (I have to put this in: apparently we all talk about the weather.)

Oh yes: someone sent me a little perl script and files to make random furby noises with the suggestion I put it into inittab and waited... Didn't do the latter bit, but it has certainly caused some amusement round here.

Wales are out of the rugby (boo-hoo, I won't even get onto that referee because I shall be excessively rude; but it was funny to watch the change in who had possession once the rain started - we concluded from it that it doesn't rain in Australia when they're training), but South Africa beat England so that's alright.

This modem link ain't big enough for the two of us. I am resorting to 'at' to get things now, because he has this strange idea that ftping kernel patches is more important than my silliness. Odd, that.

Alan is on a Scooby-Doo kick again. Apparently the series they're showing at the moment is "the good one". Boggle. (The 1970 one where they have the silly songs when people get chased and Shaggy gets more peeved than resigned when he and Scooby are told 'let's split up' by Fred. Dear me, the complexities of Scooby-Doo.)

October 14th

Alan came down mid-way through the afternoon because the rugby was on. Woe. Wales got hammered. I have found many "guides to rugby" on the net for those who don't follow it. I don't know which is funnier: a five-years-old glossary from down under which is intentionally silly, or the BBC's offering which simply describes off-side as "hideously complicated".

Then I stupidly told Alan about a weird core dump I managed to acquire (I dunno how, natural talent I think) and he went back upstairs to look at it because it was "interesting". After getting sidetracked, he eventually surfaced at midnight. Hungry...

October 13th

You can tell that there are a mere three weeks (and a bit) until Guy Fawkes' Night (Bonfire Night, November the fifth) because people are setting off rockets and fireworks early. We had three go off somewhere nearby today.

Quite what we celebrate it for is uncertain. Technically, we celebrate the capture of Guy Fawkes before he could blow up the House of Lords with Lords, Commons and monarch inside it. We do this by burning effigies of him, only - oddly enough - they often have the features of politicians, which seems like we missed the point a bit.

October 12th

Discovered that it might be possible to unearth a serial cable for the PC110, which would be better than floppies. Only trouble is that Alan has to unearth it from the "might be useful" heap of twisted wire and cable hanging off some shelves.

That'll be in January, then...At best.

October 11th

Loads and loads of boring stuff to do today, including tracking down why the local council thinks I haven't paid my council tax. Oops.

Alan chose today to clear all his rubbish off the PC110 and deposit it and its associated leads downstairs on my table and say, "Okay, you wanted this?" Such timing. Since I already have Red Hat happily running on one machine, I decided to put Debian on this one, so I can play with it. Things started out according to plan, but inevitably, as soon as I let Alan near it, they disintegrated. I have plans for this machine, and they don't include Alan-sabotage, but those plans seem to have gone awry already. Dear me. Oh well, I'm halfway through stage 1. (Got the install base stuff on, it boots from the boot floppy or the hard drive, but I seem to have lost the prompt that the docs assure me comes next. (What kind of installation I want.) And this vanishing occurred right after Alan decided to 'help' so it's his fault, not mine. So there. :))

October 10th

Went to friends to see this exciting Matrix thing on this exciting new technology. I am not going to make many friends here, but whilst I was more impressed than I expected by the DVD (largely because Heather and I managed to get the remote control out of the hands of the men and play with it outselves), I don't think the Matrix wins prizes for anything beyond pretty screensavers. But at least I understand an old Userfriendly cartoon which had someone leaning backwards on a roof now. I think the problem was that I was expecting some kind of -- well -- twist. (I am tempted to add, "Or originality", but that would be mean.) If you've read Ubik, then you know what I mean. If not, you should. It was very pretty though. Oh, and I did like the white rabbit touch, but I think they should have had Jefferson Airplane as the alternative soundtrack there.

Then Heather and I replayed the tank chase from Goldeneye with different soundtracks until we got bored and relinquished the remote control to the deprived hackers.

Alan and I discussed the Matrix as we walked back, and he thinks I am being petty about it, but oh well.

Caught a brief message on the television saying that the BBC are showing Jeremy "Minister, you didn't answer the question, yes, that's all very well, Minister, but can we get back to the point?" Paxman interviewing Bill Gates next Sunday. Wonder if he'll make any more headway than the US Department of Justice? Apparently the Beeb are soliciting questions, too.

October 9th

And I thought I got loads of email. Alan was forced up by careful planning on my part from yesterday: to wit, "Alan! Parcel!". It was for me, which didn't improve his temper, and after two hours of pawing fruitlessly at his email, I heard more snores.

We were supposed to be going to a friend's house to see the Matrix on DVD, which was Big Excitement as far as I'm concerned, since I've contrived not to have seen any of these newfangled things yet, and people kept telling me how good the Matrix was. But Alan was asleep.

Luckily, when he woke up again, he'd forgotten how I woke him up earlier. Phew.

October 8th

Alan claimed he'd be back early, since he was leaving in the morning. I arranged for the postman to try again with various parcels, paid lots of bills (yuk), did other similar exciting things, and waited. And waited. And waited. Eventually got bored, logged on to chat to friends and of course at that moment he arrived.

The rice that Alan cooked last week still had not dried properly so no creative cookery. Instead, we cheated and ordered pizza. I don't think that rice is going to dry. I fear Alan is now intent on finding out how long it would take for it to get dry, and he'll find out that it goes green first. My poor fridge.

October 7th

More Expo.

October 6th


October 5th

Preparation for the London Linux Expo (no relation to the big North Carolina one in May). Went there. The Expo account got a bit long, so I have put it on another page. Alan played games on his little computer on the train down, and I was reminded -- again -- that he no longer uses the PC110 and said that I could have it, and he still had his junk on it. Grumbled, but it didn't work.

October 4th

Removal folks arrived to transfer sister and flat contents to elsewhere. Realised that being part of the flat contents was a Bad Idea, and returned on the morning train. Alan vanished to deal with email, and was last heard snoring at 2pm.

October 2nd

Visitors in the afternoon, then packed and got to station in less than half an hour to catch train to my sister for another visit before she escapes to Scotland. Grim, another friend, visited too; and Alan is most impressed with his t-shirt: "Success means never having to wear a suit".

Drank all the wine. Alas.

Alan and Grim both had digital cameras, and I fear we shall never we welcome in the Didcot Tandoori again, since it's fairly dim in there, and the hundreds of flashes of photos being taken were rather noticeable. There was apparently some dispute over who could store the greatest number of photos. Doubtless the results will appear on some website at some stage. I'm not really sure the world's information reserves will be materially advanced by innumerable pictures of yet more dishes arriving onto a crowded table, but never mind.

Alan played huge amounts of Civilisation over the weekend on his new small computer. I'm not sure I'm keen on this business of different real civilisations in it: it's great when the Welsh taken over the world, but when the Mayans subvert Caerphilly, it's not so good.

October 1st

Alan back. He came through Cardiff at about the time the opening ceremonies for the new stadium were kicking off, and apparently there was a bunch of aircraft doing formation flyovers. (This is the new rugby stadium. A couple of weeks ago, some Sunday paper did a list of the most powerful people in Britain. The second most powerful person in Wales (the first was the Prime Minister) was nothing to do with the new Welsh Assembly. It was the manager of the Welsh rugby team. Yes, rugby gets a lot of attention here.)

Alan got back and promptly switched the television on and we watched the first match at the stadium. A good start: Wales won. Then he vanished upstairs and little more was heard of him until tea, when he was still thinking about hacking and consequently managed to just pour rice into the pan until there was enough for about ten people. There are only two of us. Much fried rice occurring for the next week, I suspect.

September 30th

Alan off to visit family briefly. Got lots done.

September 28th

Not too sure about this large box that's sitting downstairs "only for a day or two, it'll be gone by the end of the week". Do I believe Alan or not?

September 27th

Monday. Alan-snooze da -- oh no. Phone call before noon, and he has to get up. Shock, horror, whinge (on his part). Sniggering on mine. I found an excuse to print lots of things out on my printer -- and promptly sent the first job to the wrong machine, to Alan's consternation as all his mail stopped as the 16meg RAM machine he reads email on tried to print rather large things out for me. Still, I expect linux-kernel could do with the respite from him for a few minutes, and it made me laugh.

I have found out where some mouse gunk comes from (see the entry for the 25th Sept), but since we don't have a cat, I'm a bit peturbed. It can't all be from my fingers, although the button for "moving cards around in Aisleriot" is suspiciously sticky. I have also noted from the same source that living next to football stadiums, having bearded ones around the place, and being on the receiving end of parcel madness is not unique to Swansea.

In between releasing far too many patches, Alan found time for some excruciatingly bad puns on IRC. I am not impressed. That's my job.

Alan attempted to redo his masterpiece from Friday with less spice. My mouth is now feeling like I ate a burning coal (a very tasty burning coal, I should add), and Alan is commenting that he couldn't taste anything. I think tomorrow I'll cook garlic and pepper in retaliation.

September 26th

Sunday. Alan-snooze day.

September 25th

Saturday. Alan-snooze day. I was hoping to visit friends in London, but somehow I ended up paying all the month's bills last week, which was bad timing. So we walked to a friend's house in Swansea instead. :)

September 24th

I'm so proud. I (with a certain amount of help) resurrected the old printer. Months back, the printer living on the floor in the computer room finally bit the dust. Very very literally. Alan got a new one and the old one, predictably, languished in the room gathering yet more dust. In the throwing-things-out excitement of earlier in the week, I complained that the printer was still there, and was there anyone we could give it to who might repair it and get some use out of it, and was it really that badly broken anyway, or should I throw it out?

Stunned to discover that simply cleaning it might work. Spent some hours today with allen keys (to take it apart), a duster, a torch and, when it proved to be idiot-proof when I was trying to take it apart, Alan in his "should be easy enough. Hmm. Hmm. [Poke poke] [Peer] [Get hair in way] Ahhh" mode of operation.

Cutting a long story short, I now have a (mostly) working printer which is devoid of dust and some pieces of transparent wrapping plastic which it evidently ate some time ago and which probably killed it, and it only took two attempts with printtool's "Guess a setting" questions to make it print.

There's still all the subsidiary things wrong with it: it doesn't always know it has paper and so on, and it makes some astonishing grinding noises when Alan sticks his fingers in the way. Luckily, there is a simple answer to the latter problem. And in the meantime, I have a printer of my own :) (And I've stolen all the paper, too.)

Alan's other contribution of the day: He cooked something most intriguing for tea, but unfortunately it involved so much chili and similar spices that I decided to have something different before he was five minutes into setting out the ingredients.

September 22nd

Alan spends too long on the net. He just said 'gotten' to me in conversation. He's turning into an American.

September 21nd

Blitz. Alan came and spread paperwork out over all the areas I'd just tidied. Unspread paperwork, wondered if we need another filing cabinet. I don't think we have quite grasped the "paperless office" concept here.

September 20st

Goodness. Where does all this gunk inside mice come from?

September 18th

Morning spent playing with a screenshot-taker and admiring my sense of colour (it keeps Alan well away from the machine), and finding a most peculiar effect which then took me 15 minutes to explain in words. Eventually someone twigged, said, "viewport", and pasted a manual page including "--viewport: this option is difficult to describe in words". Well said, that writer.

Then headed off to sunny (huh, it rained all weekend) England to visit sister and help pack for an unexpected move. Retrieved several books, managed not to spill the red wine on the futons but on me, made abortive attempts to guess the root password on a very old Linux box of hers (RH 4.2?) where she'd forgotten it, wished Alan was there to undo all the security he'd put on it, and eventually had to laugh at my "not a geek" sister saying, "Um, I probably don't need _all_ of this" and attempting to distribute numerous keyboards and mice she'd had hanging around "just in case". "That one's a PS2 - no don't take the AT one, I might need that, and you're not having the microphone. Those speakers, well, they sort of work, you have to hit them a bit and then don't disturb them..."

I begin to fear there is no escape.

There were other friends there, too, and one of them had a laser pointer like Alan's. And my sister has a furby... Cue wails and lamentations as "Oooooh! Me scared!" echoed at inappropriate moments whilst attempting to play Sokoban with very large boxes in a very narrow passage.

September 17th

That'll teach me to be smug. Much entertainment due to mailing lists. Mmm. Even more entertainment trying to track down the bits and pieces for tax returns. The filing cabinet works wonderfully, but it rather depends on two people using the same filing system. And for some strange reason it is still in the wrong room. I begin to suspect that the strange "disasters" which occur and require huge amounts of floor space to be reclaimed in the computer room are, if not planned, welcome, because they stop me moving the wretched thing there.

September 16th

Interesting day. Built futon in morning whilst Alan wasn't around to breathe the dust in. Dead comfy. Reconsidered Alan's suggestions about IR ports and kernels in the light of this most excellently comfy futon. Discovered that Alan's old palmtop also had an IR port, and begged it off him until he finds a buyer or use for it. (If anyone's playing with IR beams and my computer from the comfort of cushions, it's going to be me. He has a room to play in of his own.)

Read many howtos. Read Slashdot and ZDnet. Decided howtos were more interesting than "we need more girl geeks cos then I might have a girlfriend" and "what would I like to see at a Linux conference? Booth babes!" and "women should stop whining" comments. Bye-bye, Slashdot.

Entered the mysteries of make menuconfig for the first time. Took time out to read the poetry alluded to in the arcnet directory, giggled mightily, guessed madly at everything, to Alan's winces, and discovered that there wasn't an option for Alan's airport (? or something -- looks sort of like Hal, only flattened, and is apparently the magic IR thingy.) Escaped intact, and boggled at the messages you get in make. Malign functions? What's wrong with benign ones? And sock_glue, frankly, _really_ worries me as a name. Alan can do his own washing in future.


Oops. Where did NFS go? I only seem to have half of it.

Back through the routine again. Tried again. Whee. I now have a kernel which I expect to crash at any time, (poke, poke, poke) and after all that, no driver for this airport thing because Alan got overexcited and didn't check it existed in 2.2.x first.

Oh well. There wasn't anything on telly.

September 15th

I forgot. We bought a futon the previous day. It arrived today. At 8.30pm. Logically enough. Just as we were going out. We decided to leave it for the next day.

September 13th

The computer room is still amazingly hot, so the threat of drying clothes in there has been carried out. And it's _very_ effective. If I'd been faster off the mark I could have got two lots done by the time Alan woke up and wandered in there.

Luckily, he seems to have forgotten about kernels and recompiling, so I'm safe for the moment.

September 11th

Last Night of the Proms (the annual Promenade concerts at the Albert Hall), and an orchestra in the local park playing before the actual relay of the concert to a big television screen there. It's not an event we'd be likely to go to anyway, but -- what a surprise. It rained.

The rain is not doing wonders for the heap of clothes that need drying.

September 10th

Doorbell. Parcel. Thumping great box. So large that again I can climb inside it, and we filled a bin bag with all the plastic packing. And all this was for...?

A palmtop.

Alan is now measuring the distance to my computer from the downstairs armchair. Apparently, if it's less than three metres, I get to recompile the kernel on my machine so that he can use IR beams to sit in the comfy chair and use the rest of the machines.

I'm not sure I am too keen on this plan.

September 9th

I suppose it was inevitable that the typical reaction to the website I mentioned below was email saying, "Ooooh. Where?"

September 8th

Oh dear. Went out for a meal with the usual gang. Alan, Dick, Robin and Justin were enchanted by a website they'd found which offers such vital necessities of life as two thousand underwater pens, hydrogen fuel cells, geiger counters, job-lots of printers and blueprints for building things which I refuse to believe are real objects. They now have a new game: select three items randomly and work out what you can create with it.

Heather and I consoled the new guy at the office with "Don't worry, they'll only ever do about half of it" but it didn't seem to console him. He's already encountered the 'door-cam', which they use to see whether they want to answer the door.

Two teams for the bill division (one total divided by seven): the gadget freaks on one side, and the "work it out in your head in the supermarket" contingent on the other. They got an answer faster; we got the correct one. No prizes for guessing who "we" and "they" consisted of.

September 7th

Alan has been informed that if it's going to remain about 10 degrees warmer in the computer room than anywhere else, then I am putting the airer in there and shall be drying all the clothes in there in future. He hasn't come up with a good reason why this can't happen yet.

September 6th

Well, of the six music CDs I have tried on the computer so far, the CDDB has refused to recognise four of them. Bah. I have typed the contents in, and the cdplayer I am using doesn't have an option to submit them.

I suppose I should find a different CD player. Wow, (quick look at freshmeat), that'll be hard...

Half the diary-reading population of Canada has emailed me and signed off as "Evil Canadian". Well, two or three of them, at least. Talk about a national sense of humour... (with two 'u's in the word, of course.)

September 5th
Very nearly a triumph for the "afternoons don't exist, either" brigade.

Looking at his diary, I can't imagine when he's going to have time to finish Cryptonomicon. It's been sitting there with the bookmark (the sort you put in a book, not click on in a browser) still in place since about July. And I'm incredulous that he didn't mention Rose Tattoo on the band list. I'm sure they're in his top three, never mind top ten. He brings them up every time I put Guns'n'Roses on. The Hawkwind album would be Live Chronicles, In Search of Space, or Electric Tepee, I should think.

He doesn't need a desert island currently, though. That Athlon box has pushed the temperature up in the computer room by about 4 or 5 degrees (Celsius: 8 or 9 Fahrenheit, I should think). The window's open, the fan is on, and I melt at the doorway. And it gets hotter when it compiles.

September 4th

Another triumph for the "morning does not exist" approach to time-keeping.

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.

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.)