The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

April 1st

For some reason, didn't get a lot of sleep last night, and dreams centred around shrieking train whistles, old-fashioned kettles boiling over (the sort which whistle shrilly as they reach the boil), pneumatic drills and the like. This may explain why, when I eventually staggered out of bed, most of the April Fools jokes didn't seem particularly funny.

Visited by Justin, who was just in time to watch Alan cause more horrible noises (lucky man). Eventually put the rugby on and banned Alan absolutely from messing with the DVD player whilst it was on. France stomped Italy (despite some players' attempts to do some stomping of their own), and Wales managed to beat Ireland by the skin of their teeth. Then normal service of beeps, crackles and so on was resumed. I'm sure he'll work it out eventually :)

March 31st

I cannot say I am particularly impressed with Alan's new non-kernel project. We're into the loud crackles and beep territory again: and he has to come down and play the offending medium down here. The first time I was mildly interested in what my clever husband had been up to, so I came and sat with him next to the DVD player (which also plays CDs: this is a good thing because my CD player broke) as he put the disc in. Silence for thirty seconds, and just as I began to lose interest in the whole affair, out wailed a dreadful noise which was something like the consequences of "cat /boot/vmlinuz > /dev/sound" and very, very loud. Argh.

Alan looked pained more at his failure than the noise (the noise, apparently, was a good sign), and spent the rest of the night wandering between computer and DVD player with different versions of the horrible noise. He was still at it when I went to bed.

March 30th

Two parcels today: both, it emerges, for Alan and related to ebay. Argh. Eventually, I gave in and looked at the place. No dancing flowers, no Star Cops stuff, no Edge of Darkness, and no Rosemary Sutcliff books (I don't care if they're for children: ever since I lent them out I miss them), and no slightly obscure books and bands that I am trying to track down. But it did have lots of computer hardware. Ugh.

Had many troubles attempting to read a particular website which had better remain nameless. Lynx showed a blank screen. Links hung. I didn't have an up to date w3m. Mozilla went crackers and showed me three thousand "mixed content" boxes. Netscape worked, but informed me that the advertised 128-bit crypto was only true if you included the 40 bits the USA thinks it should know about. Started a really stroppy letter to the webmaster, then paused and wondered whether I was in any position to complain. Shoved a DTD in the pages that get looked at the most here, threw them at the W3C validator and fainted: the diary passes, my homepage passes, and my links pages passed once I'd corrected a typo. Apparently I can now put a little "Valid HTML 4.0!" logo on my pages. Whee. Of course, then I'd have to check it was all still valid and Bobby liked it (I can put Bobby logos on it too), and that would be a pain. So I won't :) But I can't help feeling quite impressed, since I know nothing about HTML and picked it up by stealing bits from pages I could view in Lynx :)

March 29th

Alan up late again, and then busy. I eventually snagged him to find out precisely how many items he'd bid for on e-bay, and I am reeling. Luckily, other people keep out-bidding him, so we are safe. I have been looking around there and I am a little concerned: there are far too many computers on there for my liking.

March 28th

Alan decided that if he went to bed at 5am then getting up in the afternoon is perfectly reasonable. I beg to disagree. Compromise.

To the theatre in the evening, Alan muttering "This is going to be awful". English Shakespeare Company, of whom I had high hopes after seeing their fantastic versions of Beowulf and Midsummer Night's Dream some years ago. This time it was Romeo and Juliet, transplanted into space and aliens. (I think someone went a bit overboard with the interpretation of "star-crossed lovers".) Some parts excellent. Others, um, not. I can see Tybalt as a bully, but I think the michelin man costume was a mistake. Set and stage design impressive. A lot of truncating, including one of my two favourite scenes ("Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?"), grr.

Bumped into friends (one half of the band Madra Rua, whom I have just missed seeing again) on the way out, so we gravitated into the bar. I bought a drink for the person we'd come with, and discovered she'd gone. Alas, I had to drink her drink as well as mine, because Alan doesn't like gin. What a shame. Much fun discussion. Ended up with an argument about how many friars there are in Romeo and Juliet. I lost.

March 27th

A day of interruptions, all of which were great (visitors and gossip, um, I mean chat), but that was about it. Alan up horribly late. And someone outbid him on the Aliens DVD, but instead he is happy that he found a Muppet CD. Joy.

March 26th

Oh no. Alan has discovered eBay. It started when he decided to be nice and see if he could find a DVD of (the long version of) Aliens (because I go on about it all the time, I think. Aww!) and discovered one on eBay. Alas, someone outbid him. Then he started poking around the site more and announced mournfully that there was no Womble music to be found. Alas. I had rather been hoping that he was going to auction all the rubbish in the computer room ("Nameless cable for sale: you identify it, you get it"). But it doesn't look like this is the plan. Considered auctioning off Alan on ebay, but regretfully decided against it. Someone might buy him, and then what would I do? In the meantime, he is gleefully announcing yet more weird and wonderful products he has found there.

Clocks went forward. I discovered that "date -d '2 hours'" one hour before they jump ahead actually takes this into account. How cute. Alan has decided that the cuckoo clock in the computer room is going to remain on GMT.

My DocBook book has not yet returned downstairs. I (the dead tree book reader) am making do with the HTML version. Alan (the pdf and HTML preferrer) has my paper version. There is something wrong here.

March 25th

Alan has a cold, so is working on the theory that a little more dust won't matter: and is "tidying". This means he is taking everything which does not resemble a computer and throwing it out onto the (rather small) landing. I am underwhelmed. I ended up with clothes on my head after a particularly injudicious choice of times to look in and find out what on earth he was up to.

March 24th

Friends departed. The heating is now not on at all.

March 23rd

Ahem. Even I overslept this morning. Waved them off to the viva in the rain (surprise) and tried to catch up with lots of other stuff. About four hours later, began to wonder how long a viva actually takes. Another three hours after that, got a "returning home, via friends and the pub -- oh yes, apparently I passed" phone call. Evening, unsurprisingly, in the pub, (not one of Alan's favourites so he stayed at home listening to the ever-growing CD collection), and then back home; and yet another good night, discussing all manner of things for hours.

Alan attempted to stop the heating coming on so much (previously, 5pm until 9pm). Result: it was still on at about half-past midnight. He assures me it will behave itself tomorrow.

March 22nd

Friends visiting tonight as one of them has his PhD viva (where you get to defend what you wrote and find out whether the last five years of No Life were worth it) the next day. Created lots of space downstairs for the futon to fold out before they arrived. Alan simultaneously decided to create space in the computer room. Huge crashes and bangs were heard before he eventually blocked himself into the room utterly. I found this hilarious. But he still didn't have space to take the pile of "stuff that belongs anywhere that Isn't Here" computer things that have been accumulating downstairs (again). But he might get to take the filing cabinet soon (hooray!). Friends arrived, with suit, Southpart tie, and other official meeting accoutrements. They brought the computer, too, which is needed for the PhD, apparently. Decided that going to the pub the night before that would be bad and went for a colossal Indian take-out with, um, two bottles of wine instead. Alan didn't have any and Conrad had about half a glass and sat in a corner staring blankly at a sheaf of thesis notes which left me and Diana to deal with the wine (horror!) and talk with Alan for hours. Lots of fun.

March 21st

Duck for tea. Duck is not a particularly _large_ fowl. But nonetheless, it emerges that this second-best cooker which we ended up with has an oven too small for my roasting tray to sit on an oven shelf, but you can squeeze it into the grooves the shelves are supposed to rest on. You can't put the wire mesh on it to stop the duck sitting in its own fat, though. Some structural re-engineering required. Alan kept happily occupied (and in the way) for some time. Eventually solved. Apparently trying to fit large items into small containers is a talent which extends both to computer cases and to ovens. So long as he doesn't muddle the two up, this is a useful thing to know.

March 20th

Life is back to normal. Alan got up at a suspiciously civilised hour, Apparently he's busy. Wrote up GUADEC tales, wondered how to get pictures out from the camera. Alan wants to take my computer apart. And has to take another one apart to find a cable for the digital camera.

March 19th

Came back from GUADEC. Longer version of it all is now somewhere safely on the other side of the modem.

March 15th

Went to GUADEC.

March 14th

Hard-boiled some eggs for the train trip to London tomorrow. Forgot about them. Came back to a dry pan and some very sad-looking eggs. I am sure the eggs shrank, too. I shall never be able to point fingers at Alan's cooking again.

Alan entertained himself by testing whether cold water on hot non-stick surfaces whose instructions said "do not put in cold water when hot" had any interesting effects. Results apparently not interesting enough to share, but the base is still attached to the rest of the pan, and most of the non-stick stuff is attached to the base.

Packed. It's a _lot_ easier to pack when you don't have any computers to wrap.

Will be off to GUADEC tomorrow -- well, to friends to stay over and (in theory) get a train at some ridiculous hour the next morning. So no updates for a bit. Alan is looking forward to unlimited chocolate, pizza and similar stuff whilst I am away, and (I suspect) to switching the alarm clock off.

March 13th

Still trying not to read books, and disaster: books arrived in the post. One of them was a Linux book (I have given up waiting for someone to send Alan a "Linux for beginners" book for review that I can steal; and books about kernels, drivers, and the rest don't help me much) which happily had a slink CD, which solves that problem.

After breaking jadetex in ways I have not managed yet, Alan stole my Docbook book.

Banked the penguin cheques. Still waiting for a couple, I think, or I didn't count correctly originally. Interesting question: how do you bank cheques when your bank account is on the internet? I had visions of.. well, I wasn't sure, but I was sure it was going to be complicated. In fact, no. The answer is that you do it at the post office (the British answer to everything), where you can get francs, too. Now all I need is my passport. Hmm.

Some people seem to be getting replies to their MP-letters about silly legislation. None here yet.

March 12th

Desperately attempting not to read books before travelling to GUADEC. Acquired some potato CDs in order to update the little PC110 (which has a rather stripped-down slink on it: in retrospect, removing ?roff and the man pages may have been a mistake, but it freed a lot of space!) and then realised that first I had to be able to get under the table to mess about with cables. Whatever happened to the "the computers will not take over the house" plan?

Tidied. Tidied, tidied, tidied, made a pile of Alan-stuff to be removed, put all the books back on the bookcases (I swear they breed), discovered a mousemat in the printer tray, rescued half my CDs from the computer room, found the TV licence has accumulated suspicious signs of coffee-stains on it (oops) and so on.

Eventually the cables were accessible. Of course, the PC110 doesn't have a CD drive, so in my light-hearted way, I thought, "If the CDs are going in another machine for NFS anyway, and it has partitions free, I can install this potato thing there". That's when we found that both the CD drives objected to the discs. Waah. Alan discovered I was intending to update the computer over a serial line and asked how many days I was expecting it to take. Eeek. Then volunteered to find an ethernet card (doesn't everyone have a selection of "works with some machines" cards floating around the house?) and we could do it that way. I also discovered no-one I know has actually installed potato: they just install slink and update to potato. I have slink disks somewhere, but they did not turn up in the CD rationalisation. Argh.

March 11th

Yesterday was national book day or something, so I acquired a book token from the paper. I took that, an old one of Alan's, and Alan all off to the bookshop. He forgave me, because he found lots of Philip K Dick books there. I don't know when he's going to read them. He still hasn't finished Cryptonomicon. Ended up in the queue behind a family where each child was gravely handing over their book and their money and passing their change back to their mum.

I also ran riot on online bookshops and Alan is wincing. Think we're on bread and cheese, or gruel or something, for the rest of the month. Some combination of Mozilla, a particular online bookstore with images off, Junkbuster, proxies, cookie acceptance and crypto does something really strange. Unfortunately, I fear the only way to narrow it down may be to buy more books with more options off or on. Alan's gonna murder me if I do that, but this sounds like the kind of bug-hunt I like. Lots of books!

Played with more Docbook tags. Couldn't think of any more interesting things to write FAQs about, so succumbed to egotism and did it about me. I apologise in advance for the HTML: it's the output of jade. I have found a wonderful tool called tidy for sorting out messy HTML but naturally I haven't quite figured it out yet. So there you go: Occasionally Asked Questions. To forestall the inevitable: I have been asked all of those more than once. Yes, all of them.

March 10th

Alan very very sleepy this morning. Something to do with 5am as a sane bedtime the night before. This of course was the morning that half the world decided to ring. We have a pair of phones which are supposedly portable, so I spent most of the morning answering it, running upstairs with it, and praying Alan would be semi-awake and the other people wouldn't hear dire imprecations and "Wake up!" down the line.

People are all getting excited about GUADEC now. I am wondering why every time I am about to travel to London in connection with a computer event there is a bad crash at the station I am about to travel to. (I was travelling to Paddington in the wake of the Paddington disaster, too.)

Someone's disk drive began to die. A wav or mp3 of a head crash would make my day (I have plans to do with Alan, wakening times, cron, many speakers and noises liable to get him out of bed) but alas, although he took my pleas for a recording in better part than you'd expect for someone watching his disc die, he had no way to record the noise. I am very sad.

March 9th

I have made a launcher for Mozilla and stuffed it on my panel. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a nice logo for it, so I had to borrow a GNOME one of a spider (spider -> web -> Mozilla (wince)). And the panel is a pixmap of mossy tree bark. And the other launcher there is bug-buddy, which has a revolting beetle icon. I hate many-legged things. And now I have two of them sitting on my screen, camouflaged in tree-bark and moss. I am just hoping that if every computer has bugs, then at least I know where mine are...

I expect I did some more constructive things (other than discover that the one Mozilla bug I could replicate and so reported was reported already and fixed about a week ago -- whoops) but I can't think of any. Oh yes: accumulating penguin cheques.

Alan was sequestered in bug-hunting land most of the day. Eventually we decided it might be tea-time. It turned out to be ten pm. So we went shopping at the 24-hour shop. It's definitely the best time to go. Alan must have had a bug brainwave because about half-way through he suddenly stopped messing about (skating on the trolley, sliding along the floor, and other things the average human male abandons at about the age of ten) and started zooming round sensibly, and disappeared straight upstairs on our return. He promptly re-emerged and announced that he didn't want what we'd just bought for tea, ate two doughnuts, wandered off to a take-out, came back munching a kebab, and over the next few hours managed to sneak another two doughnuts without my noticing.

So much for the healthy food experiment.

March 8th

Alan decided that faxes would be fun as a nice change from crunching things. Proceeded to crunch about four different fax programs. I'm not sure _why_ he wanted a fax sender (other than: it doesn't involve filesystems falling apart and is a nice change) but my suggestions of "There's a shop down the road you can send them from," or "So-and-so can send them for you" were met with mumblings and excuses of "I know, but I want to do it this way".

Alan is still eating healthy food. I can't quite work out what's happened here. But at least he's eating at completely non-normal hours, so some things are still constant.

Late nights for Alan this week generally.

March 7th

Found a mozilla and a crypto program that work together. Happy happy joy joy. Built, then waited until Alan was out and headed out onto the net to buy tshirts. Lots of tshirts. Now I'm looking for CDs. Then it's the bookshops. Whee!

March 6th

Alan is worried. Looking at the basket in the supermarket as we approached the checkout, after he'd selected half the food, he said, "Urr, it looks awfully healthy, doesn't it?" It was all salad and organic baked beans (he likes them because they come in different sizes, I think...) I think he's wondering how come he came to like healthy food. He bought some chocolate to make up for it, though, so that's alright.

I think I have plenty of penguin sponsors lined up now. Thanks to everyone to responded: I have (I think) emailed everyone now.

March 5th

Whatever Alan is doing, as well as late nights it involves late mornings, too.

I have lots of penguin sponsor offerings: I am still colossally behind on email, but I shall answer imminently.

March 4th

Alan got up with just enough time left for us to hunt down a pub showing the England/Wales match (because evil Sky got the rights to England's home matches). Hunting a pub with satellite television was a popular decision, it seems. Apparently one pub in Swansea had half-hour queues to get in, and one ran out of lager. Alas, Wales lost, rather badly. Oh well. Playing at home, next year. Bound to win then (um).

Exercised democratic rights and all that and faxed my MP. I never get around to doing this kind of thing normally. (No, we still don't have a fax machine: the net is a wonderful place.) We were supposed to go out in the evening, but I lost my scribble of where we were going. Sniff.

I don't know what Alan is really doing at the moment, but it seems to involve late nights.

March 3rd

Decided to briefly try something out on the machine with the exciting new huge hard drive before Alan decided it wasn't getting used and he needed more space. Broke things amazingly. Yet again I triggered an NFS bug, but I didn't realise that. It all started after quitting and restarting X, so I thought it was X.

Eventually Alan appeared to rescue me. Blush. All I can say in my defence is that it took him half an hour to work out what was going on. Now fixed, but Operation Recover Floor is somewhat delayed. (Alan had a fit on the paperwork and separated it into piles of varying importance the other day. It's still there, drifting gently when I open the window or wander across the carpet. Piles of important telsa-scribbles are gradually migrating on top of heaps of paper with even more important alan's-jumper-setting notes on them.

Last-minute disaster. I was attempting to persuade Alan of the importance of more alcohol when shopping, with the reasoning that the Wales-England rugby match is tomorrow, when he reminded me that it's not being shown on terrestrial television. It's on some stupid subscription-only sports cable channel, which of course we don't have. I am not a happy hobbit. Have to find a pub with satellite telly now. The terrestrial channels are supposed to get events of "national importance". For some strange definition of national. Maybe they meant "notional". Would explain a lot.

March 2nd

It's obviously stupid letter week. Today I had a letter from the tax people. We've had fun with this before: demands for twenty-seven pence and so on. Finally, we appear to be all square. I have a statement telling me that I owe them zero pence, and a form to send back allowing my bank to pay them this princely sum.

I'm going to ignore it and see if they send me a reminder letter.

More letters: time for the annual penguin sponsoring at Bristol Zoo. I'm now confused. Apparently it's UKP260, or £260 (see, my HTML is coming on by leaps and bounds. Um.) I'm sure it was more last year. And, no, I'm afraid I'm still not accepting non-UK currency. Let me know if you're interested. I either want amounts of £13 or £26 I expect. It never works out like that, but we can try.

March 1st

Discovered that you can upgrade GNOME and get all the fancy new features from within GNOME without restarting X, which I was rather expecting to break horribly.

Found out that there exists an 'xmars' program (xearth for Mars), which may help me determine whether it's true that Alan is a Martian. Further evidence has surfaced in support of this theory: first, a form which had Alan listed as "birthdate: none", and second, a wonderful American form which described him as a "awful non-resident alien". I am rather entertained. If his sleeping patterns turn out to coincide with things on Mars, I shall know.

Actually, I'm not sure I want to know.

February 29th

Even with an extra day, I am not going to empty my "reply to these now!" folder, which I try to have emptied by the end of the month.

Things you Do Not Want To See On IRC: your husband commenting on the S390 port and in the next comment, announcing that he expects a new toy. He tells me the two are unrelated. I do hope so.

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.)