The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

November 25th

Exceptionally strange day. Even for this place. After finally getting around to getting a pgp key signed, and promptly installing gpg so now I have to go through all that again, and seeing an article about the silly UK government proposals about key escrow show up, I popped out to the bank with Alan.

Parked _right outside_ our front door (in the residents' parking space that would be ours if we had a car) was a van. Now we got quite a few people parking in our street when they shouldn't, but they're not usually quite like this one. It was a van with lots of satellite equipment in it, lots of satellite logos and silhouettes on its sides and doors, and to complete the cheerful image, it had "member of the CIA" in big letters on the door with a picture of yet another satellite.

The timing was absolutely sublime. I boggled. Alan took photos.

If a sudden silence falls, you may take it the helicopters are following us.

November 24th

Went to Alan's old workplace to pick up some tshirts. Arrived back very wet (it rained) and finally nagged him into updating his CREDITS entry, since he hasn't worked there for nearly two years and they're still getting post for him.

I was reminded today that I haven't had any junk phone calls or faxes for months. Because someone rang up (twice) under the impression that we were the Department of Social Security. They got the number off a letter they'd been sent... Here we go again, I fear.

Alan broke his chair again. The one he'd mostly mended.

November 23rd

Huge quantities of email on the intricacies of oven thermodynamics arrived, complete with ASCII diagrams. Um. Alan is going to get very bored of Yorkshire pudding if I test all of these out.

My Mozilla bug has been labelled dogfood. This is apparently a technical designation. One of its more inspired naming conventions, I feel. I've been using Mozilla for a while now if a site resolutely refuses to work with Lynx (and what have the BBC done to their text-only news pages, eh? Eh?), but this is the first time I've managed to spot something which hadn't already been bugzilla'd.

Alan finally remembered to get his photos onto the computer. Lots are fun. I'm not so sure about the (numerous) ones of me asleep or otherwise unaware that Alan-the-camera-fiend has been catching, mind you.

November 22nd

Another dawn, another postman ringing the doorbell, another jolt to world stability as Alan awakened before 9am.

November 21st

Alan up late, and hid in the computer room. Out in the evening to the pub to see a local band. Madra Rua. Lots of fun, even if they didn't sing the Blue Skoda or Glastonbury Mud. (Grumble.) This makes up for missing Shave the Monkey the night before. Maybe.

Came back, watched the rest of cool programme on television, and Alan hacked.

November 20th

Alan up some dreadful time in the afternoon, but alas, he remembered Scooby-Doo in the evening. Luckily, it finished before the repeat of a BBC programme we'd seen before and loved. For once, repeats are a good thing: because we now have a (working) video recorder. Except for one slight hitch: we hadn't tried to video anything with it before.

Alan volunteered to do the magic. And after finding batteries for the remote control, he has now realised what the rest of the world feel like when faced with an incomprehensible interface and no manual. Ha. Worth every missed minute.

November 19th

No idea what Alan's been up to for the past few days, so that probably means work. I think he must be bored with the "Shakespeare in Love" DVD, because he's announced that's going to be my Christmas present. Now he's watched it. Hmm.

Finally found a bug in Mozilla that other people hadn't beaten me to entering. I wouldn't want them to feel left out, after all. It is, of course, irreproducible. Even from different machines in the same house. Baah.

Alan is very happy today, because there's (argh) a Scooby Doo marathon on the telly tomorrow. There have been a series of silly trailers for this based on the Blair Witch Project, which would probably make more sense if we'd seen the film. Then again, looking at the website, perhaps they wouldn't.

Kitchen experimentation again. Strange unanswered questions: why does the same oven burn the edge of the pizza that's at the front of the oven but not that at the back; and why does the back part of the Yorkshire pudding rise and the front part only half-rise, if the's hottest part of the oven is at the front? Alan is also proposing experiments on various other kitchen chemistry. I am concerned.

November 17th

Did some useful things. In contrast to Alan, apparently. He might not have been coding, but with the exception when a friend visited, he's been doing _something_. And not moving computers.

Justin visited. Much, much DVD conversation. Alan and Justin more interested in cool technology whilst I was more into the superficials. "Which ones have out-takes?" We're busy thinking of good films to put on DVD. I think someone should remake "The Beast Must Die", complete with the stopwatch and asking the audience "So who of the people is the werewolf?" and have different endings depending on who is thought to be the werewolf. "The Beast Must Die" is a very silly film, but still.

Found a screwdriver head lying about. "Oh," said Alan. "I was looking for that?" "Since when?" "Well, I last saw it a month ago..."

November 16th

Bought a new CD. Tidied my way around the house until I fell over a computer downstairs. Not mine, I hasten to add. Tower case. Threatened to throw it out (it's bin-day) but it didn't work; and it's still downstairs.

November 15th

I have no idea what Alan is talking about in his diary. He hacked. Lots. That's about it. And laughed at me in the kitchen. We were constructing pizza. Mine snapped in half, and he thinks I'm a vandal.

November 14th

Ooh. I have entered the mysteries of dselect and come out the other side (and it really wasn't that bad; just long and it helps to know what you want on your machine) with the aid of a number of patient (and, I fear, vastly amused) IRC denizens and the attempted aid (ahem) of Alan. And I now have his PC110 running Linux again (I suppose I should say GNU/Linux, come to think of it) and it hasn't crashed yet. Mind you, I haven't tried very hard yet. I have a lot of upgrading to do still, but never mind.

Alan was only woken up at 1pm but has spent much time playing with DVDs, kernels, and other exciting Sunday pastimes. He did stir the parsley sauce for me, though. I think this is because our net connection was down. He must have run out of email or something, unlikely as I find this scenario.

November 13th

Located the files Alan had managed to destroy off the tarball, looked at them, and realised that none of the sample installations for Debian would actually do. Connected serial cable up. Discovered mysteries of pppd and some arp thing. Ended up nfs mounting things as well, and goodness knows what else, with the result I can now (allegedly) install via apt over the serial cable.

Watched Dr Who night with Alan, and cheered to see the sea devils getting more than 2 seconds.

Swansea quiet in afternoon. I suspect everyone was in Cardiff for the rugby. Swansea quiet in evening, too. I suspect that was due to the results. Alas.

November 12th

Alan has bought me another DVD. Shakespeare in Love. There is a long and complicated story here to do with the fact that I spent so long persuading him that he wanted to see it (which he didn't), that by the time he agreed to see it, it had gone. And all my friends told me how wonderful it was.

And when he came back from Canada, he told me that he'd seen it as the in-flight film, and it had been really really good. This was not one of his more well-received film analyses.

As before, I can watch it or I can listen to it, but I can't do both... I suppose I could buy Windows, buy a bigger computer on which to install Windows, buy the hardware required, and then get the "watching DVD stuff", but why I can't simply watch it on Linux yet eludes me. Apparently that's piracy.

Also, I now have a serial cable. This means I can get a bit further with installing Debian onto the old PC110. Maybe.

Broke netcfg.

November 10th

Cold is definitely going. Joint cooking experiment resulted in something that might have been a curry if we hadn't put so many carrots in it, but I couldn't taste it. We could both, however, smell the onions whilst making it. Ended up with the windows wide open (in November) and taking turns to retreat to the next room to breathe again, eyes streaming, whilst the remaining person stayed to fry them into submission. Incredible.

Alan's thinkgeek tshirt came out. I am not putting a link to it because I can't quite cope with the idea of calling him a geek god. I'm sure gods aren't supposed to snore, nor have they to be woken up at half past twelve, no matter what time they go to bed. (4am, apparently.) And besides, he has a link to it anyway.

I must say, the timing was good. He came up with the idea a while ago, and it managed to come out right as the DVD stuff appears to have gone lawyer-mad, and right after someone tried to patent some Y2K-fixing mechanism, and just after the burn all gifs day. Serendipitous. (I hardly ever get a chance to use that word, so I have to fit it in somewhere, given the appropriate opportunity.)

November 8th

Major festival overlap here. As well as the fireworks we caught sight of on November 5th, there were fireworks whilst we were waiting for a connection on the way back, on the 7th. And there were yet more today, although with luck, that's the last for a while. Meanwhile, local stores are advertising Christmas with even more vigour than normal.

Suffered from Alan's cold. Sulked. Didn't even notice the spice on the spicy pizza.

November 7th

Weather changed _again_ -- it's so like Swansea in that respect. We had been told to go to Cork Jail in the morning, but we were up too late. Donncha ferried us to the airport, and we went home. Aww. We were flying along the coast and the views of Ireland before the plane went up above the clouds were glorious: lovely lovely country. (Though quite why the route goes up to Dublin, across to Holyhead, then Liverpool, then down to Birmingham, I have no idea. This is not even two sides of a triangle; it's more like three sides of a square.)

Arrived back, Alan did email stuff (okay, so did I), we had a pizza, talked about lots of fascinating things, and then went to bed. Realised why we were both so tired. Alan had acquired yet another cold, and for once he'd given it to me. Grr! (But it made a great excuse for large dollops of whiskey in the coffee.)

Cork was lovely, and the people were lovely, and I have decided we should make more use of the ferry, because it's not really that far.

November 6th

People had apologised for the cold the previous night, but today started out bright, with a view over the river in the sun. Lovely. Taken to the conference place with a "Oh, I don't suppose you heard the news? The MS statement of fact came out." "Oh? And did you have a party?" "Oh no, we were already at the pub having a party..."

Cork university has some beautiful buildings. We were not in one.

Corel had a demo of their Gnu/Linux with added KDE and Corelly bits running on it, but I don't know enough about Debian or KDE to have noticed anything particularly different. One person was very pleased about some improvement or enhancement, though. (Icons or something on one workspace not being shown when you're on another workspace? Something like that.)

Indigo had lots of tshirts and pens, and FreeBSD CDs.

Red Hat had provided lots of Red Hat CDs.

There was some concern that they'd ordered coffee for a certain number of people and that more had showed up, but luckily, several people arrived, went to the first talk, grabbed their free CDs and vanished. So the coffee worked out in the end...

Lots of talks happened. The morning ones seemed to go well, but I was too busy being enthusiastic (I am told other people who saw this in London merely described it as "excitable" -- yes I heard about that :)) because one of the local LUG folks turned out to be someone I'd lost contact with about five years ago. So we were both eyeing each other thinking "I'm sure I know them" and then catching up with "Do you remember...?". This seems to happen at all Linux events I go to.

Made list of talks to go to: installation, Samba, printing and games demo, Gnome, care and feeding of Bugzilla, that Alan person... The demo went well: they installed it, (the 'everything' option took 20 minutes. I hate them: mine isn't that fast) added Star Office, opened a Word file in it, and printed it (someone's choice of file was inspired: the MS document...), and then got onto the games, at which time I was kidnapped for lunch. Worried about being late for afternoon talks, then realised that three of the speakers were also going for lunch. Sorted.

Came back, and Peter had heard my plaintive "I can't do this SGML stuff, it's confusing" and found me a book about it. Wot he writted. Aw :) (Now I have no excuse, which is very bad.)

Missed the Gnome talk, but Kevin Lyda did explain to me why cookies were necessary in Bugzilla, so I suppose I should stop making rude comments about cookies, Lynx and Red Hat's bugzilla to every Red Hat person I meet. Drat.

An Australian who was visiting (with perfect timing, as he'd missed a more local Linux do and now found himself at one on the other side of the world) vanished upstairs to the college bar for the rugby, and returned delighted: Australia won. He was _very_ happy, and commented that it was at least a bit more of a challenge than winning the cricket. I cannot dispute this fact. Alan loves cricket (he used to have an extra entry in /etc/services which was a 'test match results' service), so I get regular "Oh dear, I didn't think they could get worse" comments from him.

Things were overrunning towards the end, and Alan gave the fastest overview of Linux 2.4 I have heard yet. Then it all finished. It had been a lot of fun.

Then we went to the bar. I nearly committed a serious mistake in asking for Guinness (apparently that's 'a Dublin drink'), but someone bought me Murphys instead. Learned how to say "cheers" in Irish. In two different accents. After much heated debate about how the end of Slainte _should_ sound from various people. It's odd. Irish is much more an official language in Ireland than Welsh is in Wales (or at least used to be), but it seems that some of the Welsh-speakers are much more hopeful about the future of their language than the Irish-speakers are about theirs.

Then we went to a pub.

Then some of us went for a meal.

Then we were supposed to go back to the pub :) But Alan and I were tired, and headed back to the hotel.

November 5th

Grabbed paper, checked times, took Walkman in hope of hearing the Australia/France match on the radio, bought two books for train...

Off to sunny (ahem) Ireland. Since the Swansea-Cork ferry stops for the winter on the 6th, we could get there but not back. So we were going by air instead. Train from Swansea to Bristol. Train from Bristol to Birmingham. Train from Birmingham New Street to Birmingham International. Miracle: all on time, all went the right way, nothing broke down and nothing crashed. Went to pick up tickets. Bounced around airport. Servisair desk told us "You want the _other_ Servisair desk. There, behind that pillar." Servisair desk behind the pillar told us, "Tickets? We don't have tickets. You want Jersey Airlines." Jersey Airlines said, "Are you sure?" and phoned around. "Try our other desk." Their other desk phoned around, and sent us back to Servisair. Servisair looked embarrassed. "Tickets? Oh, _these_ tickets?" And gave us Jersey Airline tickets wrapped in Aer Lingus covers. And sent us to Aer Lingus to check in. Aer Lingus sent us to Jersey Airlines. Jersey Airlines took one look at the outside of the tickets and tried to send us back to Aer Lingus, but had to settle for telling us that actually, they didn't check in rucksacks here and we'd have to check that in somewhere else.

I was giggling madly by this stage. And then the people with the scanner let Alan through and picked on me to empty my pockets, which contained about five trees' worth of paper: bus tickets, shopping lists, stamps and so on.

Then the plane was late. Then we got told by the pilot "Sorry for the delays. It's been one thing after another and things have kept breaking. [Pause] Still, they're all fixed now." How reassuring.

Taking off on the evening on November the fifth is fun, because you can see all the fireworks as you start off.

Got to Cork eventually, and were met by lots of people, who had apparently heard the plane was late and decided "never mind" and waited in the bar.

Taken to hotel. Very posh but very friendly too.

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.

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.)