The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

January 1st

Much fun at party. Costumes, prizes, champagne, huge amounts of home-made food, interesting cocktails, DVDs (sigh), friends, chatter, laughing, and a series of cryptic clues to bad puns on Bond movies being handed out on business cards by a friend with the request to produce the 'missing four' by the end of the night. This was complicated by the fact that he didn't tell us what these clues were for...

Piled out into the street for fireworks, singing, and cries of "999 years since the millennium started!" (I thought I was a pedant, but it was nice to find I wasn't the only one.) There's always fireworks from an estate on the hill to the north and this year there were fireworks on the hill with the radio masts on. It was quite cloudy, which mean the clouds lit up with pretty colours. And lots of home-provided efforts. Sang many songs, far too many of which came from Monty Python, and eventually ran out of champagne and things we hadn't sung. Made new friends with other people also outside who taught us new songs full of what you might call "single entendres". Fun.

Returned home eventually, to find some people had 'celebrated' the new year by sitting on IRC. What fun. Found a mailing list archive on the web which had apparently started archiving in December 1969 and wondered whether this was real or a well-timed joke. I fear the former.

December 31st

Wail, doom, disaster! Woe, woe, alack and alas!

Nope, it wasn't Y2K. It was much more serious. As I stumbled around in a twilight state of waking up, the coffee mug made a leap for freedom, and deposited its contents all over the table. The table with the monitor on it. And the keyboard. And the mouse. And the books, and notes, and the coffee-mug coaster. The only thing that wasn't drenched was the coffee-mug coaster.

My mouse drowned, and wouldn't work. Whilst mid-complicated X session, this is bad. Fortunately, the magic combination of control-shift-numlock and the number keypad saved me. It's not as fast as a mouse, but you can even cut and paste.

Alan came to the rescue with a new mouse, and crashed the computer by being clever. After staring listlessly at fsck a few times, all was restored.

Sod Y2K. My mouse is much more important. I'm off to have many drinks. Happy new year.

December 30th

Alan is playing Sokoban with the contents of the machine room. The record player has gone. Many surprising articles have resurfaced in the machine room.

December 29th

Justin visited and we all took off to out-of-town big shopping place. Giant shops more like warehouses. Very American, except our carparks are smaller. Looked at exciting kitchen things like cookers and washing machines (sigh) for the future, and then accidentally went to a computer shop. I can't get a windows-key-less keyboard, but I did have to giggle at the software section. That is the first time I have ever seen copies of Linux outnumber Windows on a display that wasn't at a Linux show. And the Linux and BeOS boxes were also found nestling among the Windows ones, too. An omen?

Came back with a construction kit for strong shelving for the computer room (I gather do-it-yourself is much bigger in the UK than elsewhere, but I try to avoid it as leading to domestic chaos). Alan promptly produced what he referred to as a large erection in the machine room. Alas, it is in the middle of the floor rather than somewhere useful. There is still space for the filing cabinet, though. I have checked.

Didn't break anything on the computer today.

Spent large parts of the day dithering on whether to mirror some DVD files and be a potential criminal in California. (A small modem is not ideal for mirroring purposes...) Quite why DVD manufacturers should care whether I watch DVDs on Linux or Windows is a mystery to me, since at least I'm buying the things off them, but still. In the end got a friend to come up with a perl sig for grabbing them off By the time we thought of that, it turned out that doing so would apparently no longer be an immediate "get yourself a friendly letter from legal departments" action. What timing.

December 28th

Alan is having a fit of clearing out the machine room. This is a Good Thing. Alas, he declares we have no space for my record player anymore. Which is silly, because it's about 14x14x6 inches. But anyway: if anyone UK-based (or non-UK-based with more money than sense) would like it, contact me. It's just an old (very old. Very very old. But still working) mono record player with three sizes of record (7, 10 and 12 inch) and four speeds (16, 33, 45, and 78 rpm). It is easy to take apart and tinker with because it's so old, so all the bits are large and fit back together. It's fairly light, and I don't reckon it would cost much to send in the post. I might even find the spare needles I bought for it a few years ago.

I did once know a guy into amateur operatics who borrowed it to try out all his 78s of early music he'd got at a jumble sale. So it has its uses, which is why I would hate to throw it out or give it to a charity shop who end up throwing it out.

Its sillier use is as a music choice expander for the skint. I discovered by accident that if you play Rainbow on it (particularly Stargazer or whatever it's called) then you get a sound almost exactly like Candlemas, which saves you shelling out for both.

I suppose I should go and join the tidying fit, too. This is too good to miss.

December 27th

Back from non-net-land, despite the best attempts of British Rail. Highlights: bigger Christmas dinner than I ever make, and Alan didn't escape the peeling of the chestnuts. Exceptionally silly present for Alan from my sister: a Scooby-Doo hot-water-bottle cover. My parents appear to have scoured the country for penguin items. Is there no escape? Reacquainted myself with Newcastle (I grew up there; Alan regards it as foreign territory which just happens to have the same currency) and ahh'd at the Fenwicks Christmas windows and giggled at the "Newcastle Information Points": touchscreen computer terminals with a suspiciously-Windows-like mouse pointer which purport to tell you about Newcastle, but which were unfortunately crashed. And not by me! I didn't crash anything.

My parents (hello, Mum!) have a better net connection than I do. Hmm.

The best efforts of British Rail... no, several people have said that I do nothing but comment on the railways, so I shall simply say that today's excuses were (for the lack of light and heating on our carriage) "The battery recharger has broken", and (for the delay) "Sheep on the line". No comment.

It probably would have helped if we had not been carrying some most peculiar luggage. For a costume party, it struck me as a good idea to borrow my sister's Robin Hood accoutrements. It is very hard to disguise a piece of wood and some string and a bunch of dowel rods with feathers stuck to them. No matter how obvious they look at a party, when carrying them on public transport, far too many people affect an air of originality when asking what we're going to shoot for dinner.

Returned, giggled at Alan's incoming mail (see, if he used procmail, he wouldn't have this problem), and opened the wine. Spotted that Charlie Stross has finally updated his Linux columns, which is a good thing because the world needs more semi-colon users.

December 23rd

Off to non-net-land and family for Christmas.

December 22nd

Forgot to mention this, so it can go here. One of our local shops has had a notice up since November saying, "Due to the Christmas workload, we cannot accept any orders for videos or CDs after November 28th". The mind boggles.

December 20th

Apparently 'shuttle' is some manufacturer or other. I am disappointed. Parcels arrived. Alan slept (and did not spend the "morning" doing anything, no). Since my very first (I'm so proud :)) Mozilla bug had apparently been fixed, finally got around to finding out whether it worked for me (it did) and promptly found another one. This is fun :) Alas, despite searching beforehand, I didn't spot that it already had about six duplicates... In trying something else out, I broke lots of other things, too. Oh, my poor little computer.

Dragged Alan into town to look at cool things he might want to buy me^Wpeople for Christmas. Alas, he found a row of Scooby-Doo toys. "Guard dogs". Cuddly toys (yeah!) which talk (argh).

I left him alone for not thirty seconds and in that time he set the entire row of Scooby-Doos off. The clamour of "I'm a guard dog!", "Shaggy! This place is haunted!" and "Do you want a scooby-snack?" from two dozen Scooby-Doos has to be heard to believed. And then a small child wandered up and joined in. This is when we found Alan is better at making (some) things work than knowing how to switch them off again.

I grabbed Alan and we made a hasty exit.

Back home he redeemed himself by being creative with the contents of the fridge and making tea, and then plunged himself further into the dog(argh)house by finding a new way to test some silly phone thing. Ringing me up.

There is a phone downstairs. There is a phone upstairs. There are computers running Linux upstairs. I fear the one upstairs has been assimilated.

Time to lose the downstairs phone, I think.

December 19th

Alan deposited the printer from upstairs down here. He didn't take the again-defunct one away, of course. Nor did he tell me where to find the extra driver I apparently need for it.

Went to friends' house, clutching the Shakespeare in Love DVD. There is a long saga here, to do with my multiple failed attempts to see it, but I have teased Alan about it enough so I won't repeat it. Finally watched it. And it lived up to a year's worth of expectations. I was very impressed by that. Alan and Justin got all technical about DVDs, different sound systems and television screens. Heather and I played 'spot the Shakespeare reference'.

Asked Alan what a 'shuttle adapter' was. He told me it was for the big tower that's on the shuttle launchpad. I think he was hoping to convince me it runs on different power if you were to launch it outside the US.

And no, I didn't believe him.

December 18th

My printer has finally died. Wail. It's Alan's fault, of course. I said that I thought it was about to need more ink. So we took the ink-thing out to look, and it was okay, but needed cleaning, and then it wouldn't go back in until Alan pushed hard. And I tried to print something and it did nothing. Waah.

I am going to sneakily swap it for the other printer from upstairs. And wait to see how long it takes for Alan to notice.

Spent the evening trying to persuade Alan we should buy a take-out pizza. Failed. Then a friend rang up. "We're bored, what shall we do for tea?" Upshot: pizza. Heh.

December 17th

I wish I knew what a shuttle adaptor is. I suspect it probably isn't for a space shuttle, which was my first thought. I was rather looking forward to a web interface where you got to drive the space shuttle.

Someone suggested it was an adaptor in case they needed to send a hacker up there, which led me to mindless but entertaining speculation. "Houston, we have a problem. That hacker you sent us: his beard's stuck in the airlock door..."

Perhaps I should be glad it probably isn't for that after all.

December 16th

I don't think cloudberry cures colds, but it's very nice anyway. Mikko left, resisting the temptation to transport my old monitor back to Finland with him and taking a cold instead. Oops. Fortunately, a friend later visited and took away the old monitor, some Macs, and a bunch of other stuff. I didn't give him a cold.

There is now a hole in the computer room which is almost big enough to take a filing cabinet. Hooray.

December 15th

Despite Alan spending all but two hours of yesterday in the computer room, I have now caught his cold. I wonder if cloudberry liqueur cures a cold?

Time to find out.

December 14th

Completed Odessa (one of the gnome patience games) three times. Wow. A productive day, yes.

The friend I met briefly in London came to visit. Went out for an Indian meal. Realised it's hard to translate Indian menus into English, let alone Finnish. "Well, it's sort of like a korma, only not as... oh, a korma? Well, it's not as hot as tikka, but...oh, a tikka? Well, it's...".

Also found out that tikka (common meal here) means a woodpecker in Finnish. Hmm. Now Alan can claim to have eaten puffin and woodpecker...

December 13th

Fun in the supermarket when Alan's card stopped working. I thought he was doing it to make me pay. He insists not.

December 12th

Came back to Swansea via London and met a Finnish friend in a pub there. As you do.

Alan awake and apparently better on return. I broke X again within two minutes of switching the computer on. (No, I am not making this up. I just have this effect on things.) Alan can't be completely better because he didn't elbow me out of the way to fix it, and just told me how to fix it instead.

December 11th

The End Times are upon us: both of us were up in the morning.

The plan was to go to a friend's housewarming party. Alas, Alan had to go back to bed instead (I know he must be ill, because he switched the computer off yesterday: looking at screens was giving him headaches), but being the loving spouse I am, I went anyway.

It was a very fun party: met lots of old friends, played beat-the-clock (well, the Psion timer) poetry competitions with fridge magnets with words on, found many interesting whiskies, and admired (um) the video link. Alec felt the doors might get blocked by milling people, so set up a camera and mike from the kitchen into the lounge, so people in the lounge got to hear two conversations at once.

No-one drank too much, no-one had a nervous breakdown, and no-one microwaved the cats, so I think we have all grown up a little bit.

December 10th

I'm used to answering the doorbell because Alan is asleep in the morning, but in the afternoon? Apparently he's sleeping off the lurgy. (Lurgy is a non-specific illness which confused lots of people last time I used it, so now you know.)

Eventually he recovered enough to decide that something hot and spicy would be good for a cold, and we headed out for an Indian takeaway. The weather was chucking it down, but town was really crowded. I had forgotten that Christmas is on its way and late night shopping is all week. Alan said naughty words when I spotted the bookshop was open.

December 9th

Aww. Alan is not well. We went to a gig (weird venue, I like it, despite the fact that I felt like I'd gone back ten years in time) and first he sank into philosophical musings ("What are you thinking about?" "MMX"), and then we came back early because there was loud music. Which is generally what you're expecting at a gig...

December 8th

Oh dear me. I had a birthday card which makes noises when you open it. I tend to hide this kind of thing from Alan, because he loves them, and particularly loves sneaking up behind me, then opening them suddenly and laughing as I groan.

Alas, he found it. It's a card. Piece of card with a crease in the middle and some gadget to produce the noise. Nothing more than that. And yet, after a mere ninety seconds he had worked out how to make it produce noises it was most emphatically designed not to make, merely by opening and closing it in a particular way.

I think hacking a birthday card (my birthday card, at that) is truly a new low. Get thee back to kernels, Alan.

December 7th

Eek. Many emails as a result of Alan's diary. Thank you, all. Apparently Illiad has his birthday on the seventh. Given the UF readership, I think he's about to drown in email.

Apparently my mozilla bug is fixed (and has been for some days). Talk about fast. Now we just have to update it all again..

December 6th

Yes, he was up late again. Birthday, so Alan did both the cooking and the washing. (Chicken in black bean sauce and broccoli in hoisin sauce, and yummy it was). Then he put something in his diary that he didn't tell me about.

December 5th

Apparently Alan didn't think the James Bond film worth a diary entry. I think it was, just for the chance to laugh at the Millenium Dome.

Messed about with new improved bigger screen. Amazing what a difference it makes in X. I can actually use the Gnome apps that insist on starting at huge sizes without losing everything else behind them. Played with xv and made a bunch of pretty pixmaps for my panel, since all the old ones now look silly.

December 4th

Four people wrote to me overnight. The LinuxTag page now has a proper close-title tag on it and you can read it without resorting to 'view source'. In my defence I hasten to add that I did check that all those links worked and displayed properly. With Lynx, which blithely assumed "we don't need no steenkeeng tags" and drew it all fine. Oops. :)

December 3rd

I am tempted to do nothing but add "And it's ever so quiet, too!", but for the Australians concerned about Alan's reference to 15 inch presents and local laws, don't panic. The monitor arrived today. Took it apart with excited squeaks, and lurched around the room, eventually staggering to the desk to deposit it. Disentangled the cables from the old one, met Mr Spider in the cables, and decided Alan could plug the new one in. Alan thinks I'm making it up about the spider because it hid when he got involved.

Turned it on. Broke Xconfigurator.

Eventually convinced X to work (read: summoned Alan back to fix). Horrors! I hadn't realised how ropy the old monitor was! I had had a nice theme with a cyan swirl in the centre of a black background. I now had a rather vile green with a fluorescent swirl and lattice pattern instead. Discovered that I have about two themes that look remotely decent. But at least I can see all of my xterms at once...

Alan says I can't use it until Christmas but I am ignoring him.

Apparently the Mars probes went silent again. I have a theory about this. In the UK there used to be one of the world's greatest TV programmes: a children's programme called The Clangers. The Clangers lived on a planet far away, and were very unmaterialistic creatures. When a television landed on their planet they thought it made a dreadful noise; and they much preferred singing with the music trees. They were probably pinko commies, come to think of it.

For people who remember this show, you may be entertained to know that Alan's role model was apparently Small Clanger: the one who threw things down the soup mines. Does this surprise you? Thought not.

Anyway, I think the Clangers are alive and well and living on Mars and whistling to themselves, "Who's throwing all this metal away? Oooh. We can make a scarf for the Soup Dragon out of that."

If any burbling noises come back from Mars, believe me, it's the Soup Dragon.

December 2nd
I think Alan is waiting for it to get light before waking up, let alone getting up. Since the bedroom gets sun in the afternoon, I'm not too sure about this plan. And once he's up, he doesn't come out of the computer room until about 4am. Apparently he's busy. Pooh.

In fairness, he did come down for food, and we watched a programme about how to take the risk out of the stock market, and what happens when mathematicians put their theories to the test. Hmm. I don't think I'll start getting too hopeful that Alan turns into a millionaire. Not after his comments about the cat. (See Nov 30th). And especially not now that he's commented that "it would have worked if they'd had an infinite amount of money"...

Finished the 1066 book. I feel really sorry for Harold, now, and William deserved his less-taught-at-school nickname, but Harald Hardrada is still my hero. (When I was young, I read that he was left-handed. So clearly he was a cool guy.)

December 1st

Alan up very late indeed. Grr.

It's Christmas soon, and I am worried. Alan has decided that what I would like is something technical. A new monitor. (The current one is a 13-inch one which manages 640x480 with a virtual screen of a bit larger, so I can just about fit four xterms on but I can't see them all. The big advantage is that it's small enough not to take over the room.) So the clicky-clicky Netscape thing has been done and it will arrive sometime next week, in theory.

November 30th

Lots of visitors. Fun. Alan got up for the second one.

Listened to a lecture on the radio about quantum theory with Alan. (Actually, this might have been the night before or the night after. I'm not sure). Alan looked thoughtful. Then, about two hours later on IRC whilst we were being regaled with accounts of Seattle and the Land of the Free, (hey, they tear-gassed one of our government. Cool.) he announced happily that "that cat makes sense if you assume that time is dependant on the observer". Apparently it had been bothering him all evening until he decided that. Hmm.

I have no idea what Alan did.

November 29th

Back from LinuxTag in Bremen. As ever, the write-up got a big long (and there's loads I wanted to put in and couldn't fit in), so it's on a separate page.

Despite the absence, I haven't been abducted by black helicopters or aliens. At least, I took a test on the web, and it said it was unlikely that I had been abducted by aliens.

This was probably the first trip I've ever made where I didn't finish all the books I took. I blame the conversation. I now have one third of a trilogy left, and half of a book about 1066. (No, not the one which started the whole Bad Thing saying, before anyone asks.)

I also have a huge pile of responses to my Mozilla bug to read, too. Eek.

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.

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.)