Warning: These are old.
Alan lay abed and then eventually got up when he realised how to fix a bug. Apparently lying in bed is second only to the shower as a source for lightning bolts of inspiration around here.
It turned into reminiscence day for some reason. Alan was looking at very very old saved messages he had discovered ("Oh look! Miguel's first post to l-k!") and I kept finding files that I have carted around from machine to machine since 1991.
Found a UK-produced Linux magazine in the newsagents. Woo! I'm a bit confused about why the pre-installed machine from their competition comes with the distribution that came joint-bottom of their review, but perhaps it's a subtle way of showing editorial independence :) It also appears to be focusing on getting new folks into Linux by talking about and reviewing all the (proprietary, non-free) software you can run on it (FrameMaker and something I've never heard of), but they did list the free alternatives for the latter and there was an article about what free software licences there are and what they mean, too :)
The big excitement of the day was that instead of sending stuff to other people to put in CVS (docs, not code, no!) I committed it myself and CVS didn't fall over. This was a bit of a shock, since my normal effect on new commands is to find bugs which have lain undetected for months.
Watched the skateboarders and listened to the buskers in the sun in Castle Square (yes, complete with real live castle ruins. And a fountain. And a sculpture, for all that I always complain that Britain lags behind the rest of Europe in cool sculpture). Summer is starting. You can't play on computers all day in summer.
We are still getting parcels of video CDs (Alan has been trawling Ebay for them so he has something for testing whatever his new obsession is) but only one of the CDs I ordered recently has shown up and none of the books. I am miffed. (This isn't ebay, just random companies on the net.)
Sallied forth into the sunshine to enjoy the spring and somehow ended up at the computer, video and electrics shop. Odd, that. Bought a video player to replace the one that ate our friends' tape. It has all kinds of funky features and a manual that has way too many pages.
It also plays American videotapes (NTSC or whatever it is). About a year ago, someone kindly sent Alan a Scooby-Doo video and we can finally watch it on our own television, not someone else's now. Alan is very happy now and insisted on watching it all at once. Joy.
Hmm. It turns out that manoeuvres involving beds, mattresses and rearrangement take two people (to clarify, I am talking about moving furniture around, before anyone attempts to derive other meanings, thank you), so I was afraid Alan was going to have a nasty shock when he returned. Luckily, he rang me from the airport, so I was able to warn him. Then I had a fit of working out the easiest way and recalling tricks from hospitals about moving big things safely, and most of the damage was repaired by the time he returned. I was glad to see him back. The furby was glad to see him back (I swear, it picks on him. And it just told me, "Dum de dum" in an innocent-sounding way as I typed that observation). Alan was not so glad to see the furby, especially when he started going through the post and the furby announced, "Oooh! Boring!".
Friday. Need To Know day. Woo.
Spent quite a bit of time answering various Alan-related questions over the last few days. In the interests of saving people from my typos when I reply in haste, I point people (again) to the section of the silly questions I get asked a lot list I made which deals with Alan.
I gather he has lots of photos of Finland now, and I see he has several souvenirs related to, um, mobile phones. I like the stress-reducer: a rubbery toy in the shape of a phone so you can throw it around.
Created space. Miracle. Now wondering whether it would be safe to try to maneouvre the filing cabinet upstairs to the computer room to surprise Alan, or whether it would be likely to result in Alan returning to a flattened hobbit underneath the filing cabinet at the base of the stairs.
I don't think I like that idea.
None of the discs have filled up. The modem hasn't died. No small many-legged beasties have entered the house (to my knowledge, anyway). I have been able to ftp in the day instead of doing it by cron jobs (Alan tends to regard being able to upload kernels as slightly more important than my attempts to grab the latest cool toy and capture all the bandwidth. I can't think why). Life is good. I am waiting for the inevitable disaster to occur.
Alan off at midnight to get the coach to the airport to get to Finland. He remembered to order the money from the bank this time. Swansea banks don't get much call for Scandinavian money, apparently, and have to order it.
He packed at about 10pm. Sigh. At least he didn't take my new tshirt. Seems someone saw my comments about Alan not sharing his Userfriendly tshirt, because they sneakily sent me my very own with a big "not for Alan to steal" label. Thanks to the conspirators at UserFriendly for that. I really didn't expect that. As soon as he was gone, I started tidying. Upstairs...
Friend came round and we watched Shakespeare in Love on the DVD. Halfway through, the DVD stopped. Summoned Alan, who claimed that I was clearly breaking things long-distance now, and promptly started "investigating" until we pointed out that we didn't want a lecture on how the DVD player should work and suggestions on what might have occurred: we just wanted to see the end of the film. I had forgotten how irritating hackers can be about this kind of thing. They don't really want to fix things. They want to understand why they broke, first.
Eventually switching it off and on (no comment) and selecting the scene to start from worked. This was not Alan's idea, and he appeared to regard this as a kludge. (Yes, with the 'd', I don't care what the Jargon File says. It's how it gets pronounced here.) We said "tough" and he retreated, miffed, leaving us to watch the thing in peace but switching the magic all-around-sound on. I hadn't noticed it was off until then. Oh well.
Discovered how to do (simple) tables in DocBook. I never figured this out in HTML.
The Computer Stupidities page has updated again. It does so monthly. For the first time, almost half the new additions involve Linux. Even if some people don't seen entirely convinced on some matters. (That link will only work for a month: if you're reading this after about 16th May 2000, don't expect a relevant link there!) I'm not sure it's legitimate to start assessing how wide-spread something is by how often it appears in "silly questions" columns, but it made me laugh.
Wandered down the beach with Alan (and alas, digital camera). Someone had drawn the most incredible design in the sand. It looked like a practice run for a crop circle (part of Britain are prone to strange designs appearing in crops in the summer: their origins are, um, somewhat disputed): interlocking circles, a maze, and swirls. Also, drawn carefully underneath, the label "tide machine". I don't know who made it, but the time they spent was well worth it. All the better for the unexpected nature and the impermanence of it.
Tide was coming in. Britain gets tides that lots of other people apparently find incredible. Swansea gets particularly impressive ones (you can find out the local tides from a friend's Swansea tides predictor and it's a very flat beach, but I managed to retrieve Alan from peering with interest at dead starfish and live... things.. in the end. This happens every time, unless he figures out the answer to a bug, in which case he has to retrieve me. (A perennial question is "Why do you live in the middle of a city?" One of the many answers is, "The sea is ten minutes' walk away".)
Why, when finding a rock sticking out of the ground, is the human urge instantly to stand on top of it?
Read Alan's diary. Is that what he's been doing? I thought it was making beeps and growls. I have a counter-attack, however. Some kind soul found me a recording of a hard drive crashing. His hard drive. What an amazing presence of mind to record it in the process. (Why, I ask myself?) Alas, Alan saw (heard?) me messing about and testing the file before I was able to hide a speaker under his pillow and attack the crontab.
Glorious sun in the afternoon, which we wasted because lots of rugby was on the television. Whoops. But spring is nearly here, along with the Easter tourist descent. You can tell because all the breakdown contractors sulking about not getting a contract blocked the Severn Bridge, some of the buses from here to the Mumbles and the Gower are double-deckers and a police helicopter landed in Cardiff on someone's roof. (It's one way to avoid the problems on the bridge, after all.)
Alan awake at usual time, but downstairs today! Woo! Vegged out in front of the television. Didn't watch any videos, after the Unfortunate Incident of yesterday (Alan is already planning the new specs for the new widescreen television that a new video player would "require" and I begin to think he sabotaged it deliberately for this purpose. Hmm.)
Twister is a really cool film. I don't care if real tornadoes don't behave like that. But based on my experience with some of the nuttier hackers I've met, I'm sure the tornado-chasers really exist. Alan did indeed stop the DVD several times to stare intently at the screen. I didn't mind that -- it was after we'd watched it. What I objected to was the fact that he left the sound (of the storm) on and then paused, ran a few frames, paused, ran a few frames, paused, ran a few frames... Another _horrible_ noise he has managed to generate.
I don't know what "taking revenge by singing" is meant to mean.
Watched the rest of "Romeo + Juliet" that a friend had lent me last night. Went to take it back today. Oh dear. Videotape dangling out of the case. Alan decided to improve things by putting it back in the video player and fast-forwarding it and rewinding it. It came to a stop, we tried to take it out, and it was jammed solid. This is not a good thing to do friends' videotapes, so sent Alan out to find a replacement quickly. He came back with another DVD. Hmm. And the one he was sent for, luckily.
Out with the usual gang for a meal, and no palmpilots were harmed in the making of the bill: because we were too busy using it to look up the films at the local cinema. Ah well.
Alan must have been busy, because he didn't have time to look at Ebay.
Last year, I said something about not knowing exactly what Alan did, but it involved lots of flashing blocks on screens and lots of squeaks and squeals on the speakers. It's not normally that bad, but Fate (or Alan) decided to make me aware of how much worse it could have been. For the last week or two, Alan has recently been doing something to do with sound which has been making the most incredible noises, which I can hear downstairs with the music on.
This morning, I put a different CD on, and about ten minutes in, whilst I was in the kitchen making coffee, I saw Alan shamble down and blurrily stare at the speakers and then turn it down. Weird "wheeek" noises are allowed, apparently, from anywhere between 2pm to 2 or 3am. The Pogues at quarter to eight in the morning, however, are not. Apparently I am anti-social. Hmm. I think tomorrow I'll put on Anhrefn. (Welsh punk band).
He did not emerge for some time after that. I _really_ need that disk-crashing-in-a-ugly-manner.mp3 sound effect.
Alan's parents departed. Alan brought the stash of Things To Do out of his "neat pile of paper" format (which hadn't fooled anyone) and spread it over the floor. He has another cold so I got to answer the door for a parcel in the morning. Yippee. Aliens DVDs. (Alien through to Alien Resurrection.) Alan incredulous that I managed to hold on through most of the day before opening it. I suspect this present was a peace-offering to make up for the nightly Ebay rampage he is going on: the unfortunate thing for him, of course, is that he always gets outbid...
Well, we can't all update diaries every day, but I have grown bored of waiting for Alan to update his. Last week's events:
Occurred to me that I completely forgot to mention that I'd sent the penguin cheque to Bristol Zoo. This should actually have gone in last month's diary! (I know I have not cashed two, I was waiting for the final cheque to arrive before doing that.) Anyway, I haven't run off with the money. I'm just waiting for the zoo to reply. (Snore.)
Alan has announced that his parents are coming to visit tomorrow. Consequently, I am rather busy.
Vastly bemused by Alan being in bed before midnight. It emerges that somehow he caught a cold. He's sure it's nothing to do with playing in snow.
Alan has found something even more obnoxious than the videoCD stuff to play with. I'm not sure what it involves, but it makes an astounding, and piercing, noise at unnervingly random intervals.
It's that tax time of year again. This time, I can fill in my self-assessment thing over the internet, which sounded cool. Then I saw the requirements. Windows 95 or later. Black mark. Looked at the site anyway. Running Apache on Linux. Cool mark. Bobby-approved. Cool mark. Went to the first of the secure pages out of idle curiosity on their crypto and hit the "Page Info" stuff in the browser.
Came back after catching the plane by the skin of our teeth. I'll write more when I've woken up. Oslo is very cool (cold, too) and its inhabitants are even cooler.
Went to Norway. Alan ecstatic at snow in Oslo: a line of about fifteen snow-ploughs were clearing the runway as we landed.
Packed for overnight trip to Norway. Learned at last minute that "overnight" was in fact "four or five days". Nearly melted washing machine as a consequence. Commented mildly on the timing of such an announcement of a change of plan. Alan protested in response, "I did tell you several times, but you always seemed to be asleep". There is really not a lot that can be said in reply to that.
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 :)
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.
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.)