The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

February 2nd

That'll teach me. Modem crashed. Power-cycled everything that looked like a modem until things worked again.

I hear than Alan made it intact to New York. Hope New York survives.

Whilst clearing old logs out, wondered whether there was any point to them. Peered at some and found some most remarkable contents, and ended up playing with grep a lot to find the weird things that Analog never mentioned to me. Entertained to discover that referer urls to pages of mine include the attempts of search engines to deal with some remarkable requests:

None of them beat my favourite, though: "dietary needs of a contortionist".

February 1st

Modem hasn't crashed.

January 31st

Well, the modem hasn't crashed yet. But then. Alan has only been away half a day. I am revising my bets about how long things will stay up without him. I'm not particularly bothered, really: much more important is that he didn't replace the lightbulb in the light that only he can reach. Waah!

January 30th

Plotted on irc with a bunch of other folks who write documentation to all meet up at GUADEC and we shall all lament our inability with DocBook together. (I have been messing about with it a lot lately, and one day I may write something that jade doesn't sulk about. Oh well. At least I know more DocBook tags than HTML tags now, although since I think I know ten in HTML altogether and one of those is <html> this may be no great accomplishment.)

There is a cvs log entry somewhere in Gnome about gdk-pixbuf being 1000% telsa-proofed. I don't know whether to laugh or cringe.

Alan has been playing at being a jet-setter and has finally organised himself. He has packed his laptop. Clothes, apparently, are to follow in the organisational procedure.

I bet the modem crashes whilst he's away. It always does.

January 29th

Passport located. Socks located. List of tshirts to buy provided (by me, yes. Entertaining tshirts are one of the best bits of trade shows). Many friends independently chose today as the day to descend on Swansea, so we accidentally ended up down the pub. Um. Odd, that.

January 28th

About 9pm, Alan announces he's going to New York. "This weekend". Hmm.

About 9.10pm, he broke again. The error message involved "FBI search failed". Clearly they don't liaise with the CIA.

January 27th

Spoke too soon. There is now a CD drive downstairs. This is good, because I can play the new CDs at last. Until now, I have been using the DVD player. Ahem. Haven't put it in yet, though.

Alan brought some CDs home. At some stage it occurred to us that half the tracks on Richie Blackmore's Night are represented in the cover art. Spent the rest of the night trying to find whether the other half were in there too. There are times I yearn for the return of vinyl, with big covers where you don't need a microscope to make out the details.

January 26th

Red-letter day.

Downstairs has stayed tidy and devoid of superfluous computer equipment for one week. There are no monitors in the bathroom. The only computer-related stuff in the bedroom is a pile of T-shirts with various logos. (And a pile of wires on the windowsill, but I am choosing to ignore that.) Everything I have touched on computers has broken, but other than that, at least some parts of life are good.

January 25th

Alan has decided to demonstrate how to really break things. Luckily, it was my turn to cook. Inevitably, the oven has broken. (And it wasn't me.)

January 24th

Apparently I have triggered a bug in the sound driver, too. This begins to get alarming. Alan thinks it is all very funny. People are starting to ask me to test their programs on the grounds that, um, "if they don't break for you..."

January 23rd

Three people I know have birthdays today, and none of them are close enough to go out for a drink. Wah. Alan confused himself by going to bed early (just after midnight) last night and as a result almost got up early, but "forgot to". I bravely (bravely, because not a single thing has ever gone right with the hardware junk on this machine) attempted to install the sound card on my own into my computer, and the computer still worked but the soundcard wouldn't. Broke sndconfig. Alan to the rescue again (sigh: it would be nice to think that one day my mere presence won't destroy things), swapping cards around like mad and ruining my diagram of which cards were where in the machine. (He laughed at my diagram.) After two hours, two sound cards, one kernel oops, countless fscks (hint: do not wiggle leads in the back whilst the machine is booting), one recompile, one bugzilla entry, and speculation on Alan's part about bus-mastering, managed to get a beep. Wow. Re-drew the diagram.

Then Alan said I have to move the CD drive now (spoiling my diagram again). I have decided that this can wait.

Alan made pointed comments about both hardware and what he is pleased to call my bad effect on things. We watched a friend's "Armageddon" DVD, though, and that didn't break. Luckily. I'm getting quite concerned about borrowing anything remotely mechanic from people these days. Much of the plot (ahem) revolves around machinery that persistently breaks, which felt entirely familiar. I can't resist adding that this resulted in machinery that was more realistic than the characters.

I have discovered, by the way, where Alan stores soundcards. He has a machine full of the things.

January 22nd

Apparently Paris in March is going to be cold. Oh dear.

Aww. Alan has made me a toy. How sweet. He has shown it to me and put it up for ftp but I found out about it through his diary. Hmm. (I had this plan about not having to ask silly questions on IRC if instead of dingus-clicking on urls, I could select something and drop it onto a launcher and have Google or the Encyclopaedia Britannica or one of the free dictionaries tell me about it. Rather to my surprise, he thought this was an interesting idea. So he made it, or at least the Google bit.)

January 21th

Friend passed some exams, so we went out for a meal. Alas, the other halves of the couples celebrated her exams by discussing complicated technical questions through the meal. We carefully bought red wine (which Alan doesn't like; and the other guy was driving) as revenge.

Still no sound. Alan decided to expedite matters by supplying a sound card instead, knowing that my reaction to "mess" downstairs is either to deposit it back upstairs or to stuff it inside a computer where it is out of sight. I think he is cheating.

January 20th

Watched a bit more of Plunkett and Macleane. At this rate, we'll finish it in February. Alan has decided he likes it. I think it's because there are a lot of loud bangs and noises that appear to echo from behind the futon now, and he can point out that we really needed a speaker there after all, you see, and wasn't it a good thing we got one?

January 19th

Messed about with new toy. It is now called 'trouble'. Alan says this is very bad and that computers take after their name. I said I had been going to call it Loki because of its behaviour so far and we decided that trouble wasn't that bad after all.

Discovered the mysteries of startx -query. Now I have two lots of X on one monitor, with lots of workspaces on each and lots of terminals on each workspace. Added all my favourite "not shipped from America" packages and spent the rest of the evening ssh'ing from one machine to another in different windows and trying to mount and export the right filesystems to the right places on the right machines whilst typing into the right window. Rapidly became gloriously confused.

The sound still doesn't work (on either machine) but Alan has promised me a patch from someone. But he's busy at the moment (ie, up until about 3 or 4am) so I join the queue of people demanding "When is the new stable kernel out?" I am worried. There is a slippery slope here.

January 18th

Alan was busy a lot, but we managed to watche an entire scene from Plunkett and Macleane regardless.

January 17th

Booked transport and hotel for GUADEC after discovering that the place I wanted to stay (same road - yes, I'm lazy) was in one of the dozens of brochures from the travel agents. Hah.

Came back from town and Alan promptly went back in, saying nothing about why he needed to visit a second computer shop. Was happily doing Telsa-things when Alan started making trips downstairs and depositing things in anti-static bags all over the living room. Then he announced, "There. You can make yourself a new computer now."

I'm not quite sure why he thought I might want one. No.

His plan was that I would do it, but this failed at the first hurdle when the case bit me. After staunching the flow and wondering why I was getting into this, I tried again. Alan had to help pull my original machine apart (it didn't want to know) and then we divided it up between two cases and added the rubbish he'd been depositing in to make the rest up.

Tried booting. Network, what network? Tried again. "Oh dear, wrong card, run make menuconfig". "That'll take hours!" "Run it." Recompiled. Went to make coffee. Came back and it was done. Boggled. Investigated bogomips and nearly fainted. Whee, it goes fast!

Much entertainment setting up X: the driver is trying to do the wrong frequency, the ethernet card keeps interrupting it and making flickers, and various other issues. Alan fixed. So much for doing it myself.

The clock is eight hours ahead, the sound doesn't work yet, and still no irda, but everything else appears intact, although the new keyboard is becoming a pressing issue now that I have been relegated to one with strange windows keys on it. Tomorrow I have the excitement of installing the other one and getting the two to talk to each other. Um.

I dread to say it, but it was all rather fun, (except X, and bleeding, and the way the shift key got confused so that modprobe 3c50x became modprobe #c%)x and... well...) and this time it wasn't I who dropped the screw into the case at the vital moment. It was Alan.

January 16th

Alan tried to claim he had a cold this afternoon, and cited this as a reason for not getting up until three. I think it has more to do with being up at ten on a Saturday the previous day. He's not used to this on Saturdays.

January 15th

Alan-toys arrived. In the morning. Alas, he somehow heard the doorbell, deduced it wasn't the meter-reader, a doorstep evangelist, or anything like that, and got up before I could hide them. The boxes were, as ever, huge, and I had to open them because he was half-asleep. The contents weren't that huge and looked quite boring, but Alan woke up, took them upstairs, and was not seen for the rest of the day or night.

Well, except for when he was sighted heading out to the shop for a new fan. And then again for something else. This is all seriously over my head: all I know is that something wasn't fast enough. I did offer to cool things down by draping the laundry over it to dry, but he suggested I didn't do that.

January 14th

Still no Alan-toys, although some tshirts happened instead. So he did real work instead, and then we watched very old Dr Who episodes.

The oven tried to go on strike but Alan beat it up.

January 13th

Alan increasingly peturbed about the failure of his toys to arrive. Not enough to get up in the mornings in case they arrived whilst he was in bed, however. Perhaps I should have had a lie-in and seen what he did if the doorbell went in the morning.

Played musical travel agents. "I want to go to Paris, on these dates, cheaply. I've found some places that look reasonable on the internet, and I was wondering..." "Oh, we don't do that, no. But we have a brochure. You'd like Notre Dame|Sacre Coeur|EuroDisney.." (Been there, been there, no I wouldn't.) "I want to be somewhere near the XIIIeme arondissement" "Well, we have a hotel near Sacre Coeur" "How near is that? Is it remotely even on the right side of the Seine?" "Well, nearly. And there's the Metro..."

It also turned out that of the six travel agents I found in Swansea, four of them are all the same company. And the other two use the same brochures.

I think it may be time to get a youth hostel card, or subject innocent Parisians to my appalling French on the phone. Or rethink. Waah!

Came back. Alan's toys arrived. Well, one did. Oh, fun. A DVD player. Just what we always needed, yes... Sound didn't work. So now I can watch the pictures but not hear the sound on the computer, or watch the pictures but not hear the sound on the DVD player. Hmm. Alan went to find the right cable and sound occurred. Then he went and was terribly reasonable and polite at people on the phone about the rest of his order.

Friend came round this evening with his palm pilot program for making furbys burp (*now* I know what happened to my poor furby). How strange. The region-locking no longer works on the DVD player. Maybe palm pilots have a use after all.

January 11th

Alan discovered the answerphone facility on the phones, and started sending himself messages. I think they were meant to get to me, but the answerphone was picking up about two rings, before I could get to it. So he kept sending more. Then he discovered how to read them but not how to delete them, so I am now getting junk phone calls from my husband as he experiments further.

January 10th

Link broke again :) Alan most upset when the doorbell turned out to be the meter-reader and not the postman with new toys, so we went to buy him a chair and came back with phones. As you do. We do actually need a new phone, but this isn't what I had in mind.

He decided we needed phones attached to base stations which we can lose around the house. I managed to persuade him that black was a bad idea, or we'd end up answering the remote control and attempting to play videos with the telephone. (This house is not a model of organisation, no. All the remotes live in a heap with an insufficient number of batteries between them.) So we have white ones. That won't last.

Then the phone rang, and I answered it to hear "Behind you" and turned around to find Alan giggling. I am not sure this was a good idea.

I see Alan has had a spring clean of his pages, so I thought I'd provide some consistency. (Lynx-users: imagine pale green background.)

January 9th

Link broke again. After some netless hours Alan had run out of email to respond to. So he had another fit of domesticity. And cooked Scooby Snacks. (Some friend of ours gave him a kids' kit of "make yourself some scooby snacks" ingredients.) They have all gone now, but he insists on retaining the cookie-cutter which is in the shape of a Scooby-Doo head. Oh dear.

January 8th

Watched the Cardiff rugby on television. We had laughed at the weather in the Swansea game last night, but the weather has done some very bad things to the Cardiff pitch. More like mud-wrestling. The weather has been a little... er, typical, here, admittedly. Clouds, then a downpour of rain, then bright sun, all in the space of half an hour.

January 7th

How Alan can describe food he eats at four o'clock as 'breakfast' is beyond me.

My Docbook book arrived, and I think I did everything wrong. Whoops. Slashdot had yet another discussion about women and computers. Ouch.

January 6th

Succumbed to consumerism and bought a new vacuum cleaner. It's very cool. It's green and purple, and it whistles.

I have decided that memory, filesystems and process management are much harder than looking at 'top' would imply. Yuk.

Alan was overcome with domestic enthusiasm today. Not only did he decide to see how powerful the vacuum cleaner was (not quite powerful enough to suck my foot inside, but far too close), he finally installed his cuckoo clock on the wall. For some reason this involved falling over in the dark in the garden, but I haven't dared ask about that yet. I don't -think- he was trying to catch a cuckoo to put inside it, but you never know.

January 5th

Finally gave up ploughing through endless "SGML is a standard describing how to define markup languages"; "A DTD is a set of declarations"; explanations on the web. All I want to do is mark some stuff up. Found a file in Docbook, deleted all the content, and put my own stuff inside instead. Sorted. Then ordered the Docbook book.

January 4th

I've worked out when Alan's hours get (even) strange(r). When a new kernel is on the way. Trouble is, he stays on those hours after it.

January 3th

Hit the wrong button in Netscape with the new mouse and discovered Composer. Discovered a silly 'tableize' option next to a spellchecker. Spell-checked 'tableize'. It failed.

Friends rang up. "Where are you, then? The line's noisy." "About five minutes from your house." Another opportunity for a meal out, then. Cool. I am not sure that checking the distance from our house to the restaurant via GPS was strictly necessary, however.

January 2nd

Went for a wander around town on what was supposed to be a quiet Sunday. Shops heaving. Accidentally ended up in the electronics shop. What a surprise.

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.

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.)