The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

June 2nd

Went to London for a Linux show thing.

May 28th

Went to a computer fair (voluntarily!) with Alan and Justin. On the way we stopped at a shopping centre in the middle of nowhere just off the motorway and I boggled. It was like being back in America. Huge car park, and then lots of low buildings in a curve around the edge, complete with food hall and open ceilings on the expectation it would be sunny, which it was. Apparently it's not so nice in normal weather.

Alan bought computer things. Justin bought computer things. I looked at UK keyboards with real shift bars (no windows menus) and then discovered Alan has a secret stash of them. Someone was selling some pen-and-tablet thing. "Will it work on Linux?" we asked. "Oh, I don't know about Lie-nucks", he answered. "That's all do-it-yourself, isn't it?" Someone else knew about Linux too: the young teenager who peered at Alan and then asked if he ever wrote kernels. At least the next generation will pronounce it right..

Then we kidnapped a Cardiff-dwelling friend and went for food. I was the only person there without at least two of laptop, mobile phone, and/or palmpilot. It still took them effort to work out the bill.

Whee. Someone has fixed some of my FIXMEs in my attempt-at-a-FAQ. I am happy now.

In the meantime, I didn't actually notice because I was trying to make a Makefile or a specfile or something in order to package the thing so that people might be tempted to look at it. Alan watched TV. Talk about role reversal. Normality has been resumed because I got fed up trying to understand info automake. People can download the tarball and lump it. (Warning: it is -guaranteed- to be horribly wrong, eat systems, mislead, delete all your files, and generate visual basic files which send resumes about friends called Melissa who love you to all of your address book. Well, maybe not that last bit, but you get the idea.) Also, I haven't included the fixed FIXMEs, but Dave Camp put an explanation for OAF into CVS. Whee.

May 27th

I have been messing around with an attempt at a FAQ for GNOME, since 1.2 was on the horizon. Predictably, I missed the deadline. After getting some "well, the markup's fine" comments from a tarball I made, and a couple of pieces of feedback and comments, I was very brave and put it into GNOME CVS.

Rather to my shock, CVS is still standing.

May 26th

Disaster. Found a programme I enjoy on television and watched it. And then realised it was going rather slowly. And it turned out to be a two-parter and I must tune in next week to watch it. Horror. I'm away that night. Which means setting the video. Alan is terribly possessive about the remote control and the instructions to both the television and the video, so I now have one week to work out how to do this or to admit defeat and let him do it. Ugh. And I still haven't retrieved the lakka from where he put it out of my reach. This is not good.

May 25th

Well, the plan was that I was supposed to reboot some machine remotely today (apparently. I thought they were joking when I got the job, then I realised that I would be awake in the morning. I decided to assume they were joking still, however. I think they were...)

Some part of our network connection promptly crashed. People laughed at the five-minute pings they were getting to me on IRC and I sulked. Then to complicate matters it emerged that Slashdot had announced two things before the mirrors had synced, and had for both stories linked to the same mirror for each: the one going down for the reboot today. (Cunning use of a plea for mirror use on Slashdot's part there, I must say: link to the same site from different stories.) It also emerges that the correct way to deal with a request to hold off on hitting the mirrors until they've updated is to connect to IRC and ask which mirror _does_ have the full distro and then hammer that, judging by the behaviour of about twenty people over the course of the time I was falling off and on IRC. Oh well, the machine lived happily, even if my little corner of the net was dying by inches.

Alan spent some time wrestling with the network whilst I gave up and did household things. Alan did some household things too, but I don't think his mind was on it. He came back from posting a cheque to discover he'd posted the envelope and not the cheque. We're now wondering whether he put a different cheque in that envelope and whether the people expecting the second cheque are the ones with the empty envelope. Or not.

I had a fit of building do-it-yourself storage drawers out of cardboard. After all that effort I was tired and nothing is in the drawers. They are merely cluttering the room further. I would have restored myself with the lakka Alan brought back from Finland, but the other day he discovered I'd sneakily drunk half the bottle over the last few weeks without his noticing. He has now placed it on top of the Welsh dresser, where I can't reach it. Waah!

May 24th

Very little to say, so I shalln't. Alan has gone into Martian time-cycles again, I am admiring the poppies in the garden, and life continues as normal. What is going to be more interesting is the next few months. Alan was adamant that he'd had enough of travelling for a while, so it was with some horror that I tallied up the calendar and discovered that somehow about four trips away are on there, together with multiple birthdays of friends and family (OK, so these should not have surprised me..), anniversaries (ditto), and a mind-boggling amount of domestic organising to do. He also has that Linux stuff to keep him busy, which I suppose we shall have to fit in somewhere...

Hence, there is a reason for lack of diaries.

May 23rd

After yet _more_ stupid fax machines calling me, which appear to be the same damn things as last time (see entries over the last few years), I lost all patience and in the middle of discussing whether BT could do anything about it, abruptly decided it was time to lose that phone line, which we kept largely because friends of years ago might try that number. We still have the other line, and so far, it's not got onto any fax machine or junk phone call lists.

Peace, perfect peace...

May 21st

Too behind to go through day by day. Life continues. Alan has discovered a new way to annoy: put on DVDs downstairs (where my computer is) when I am doing things that need concentration. He had "Das Boot" on, which may be great, but it has a distressing tendency to finish long periods of quiet sections with alarmums and explosions. My coffee nearly ended up over the keyboard at several occasions.

So I gave up, sneaked into his room, started doing stuff on there, got bored, played games on his computer, finished, and the computer went mad. It beeped for about five minutes, scrolled like crazy in one window, the mouse ran all over the place, and I sent a number of carriage returns to his IRC window. Argh.

Naturally I had to try and do it again for him to see. Naturally it failed to happen when he was there. Someone I know claims it's my aura. I must have a "destroy machines" aura and Alan have a "keep them running" aura. It would certainly explain why this never happens when he is watching and consistently happens when he's away.

I think there are two rules in this house. Alan is allowed to make beeps, bangs, crunches and other computer noises when he's awake, regardless of whether I'm in bed. If I put on music in the morning, though, he gets up, shambles downstairs, and switches it off before returning to bed. Hmm. Something seems out of balance here. (Okay, Blue Oyster Cult at 7am was probably pushing it a bit, but you have to play the ETL album loud. Really. Well, I do, at least. Hooray for foot-thick stone walls between us and the neighbours.)

Watched the rugby on television. Swansea lost to Llanelli, which is not necessarily good. Game was good, though. Apart from the part where Alan sat on the remote control and we ended up watching something else entirely.

May 18th

Tescos rearranged its layout. We both stared at the notices it had up for the benefit of people who hadn't noticed that the salads were now at the front and the fish had moved. "We have remarchandised our store" was the beginning and it didn't get better. Alan wants to bring the digital camera in to get that. I just want to send it to the Plain English Society. What's wrong with "We have rearranged our display. If you can't find something, ask a staff member"? "Remerchandised" sounds like they have turned it into something for sale for the second time.

May 17th

Didn't do more washing. Weather turned into sunny drying weather. I now have two bright orange flowers in the back garden. Whee.

May 16th

Did loads and loads of washing. Weather promptly turned unsunny and not-drying weather.

May 15th

More Ebay-related parcels turned up. I am wondering whether I can get rid of loads of rubbish^Wunwanted items from here on it. "As trodden on by Alan Cox" or something. Mind you, if he keeps buying things from there, I may have to auction him, just to make space.

May 14th

The first of the bright orange flowers I occasionally refer to from the back yard has opened. I now think they're California poppies, and they're slowly taking over the garden, which suits me fine.

May 13th

A two house day. Number one was gorgeous (and had bluebells in the garden, which is always a good thing) but needed masses of work. Like rebuilding. Number two was great in the parts we saw, but there were some parts we didn't see because one of the tenants had locked their door and there was no light in the cellar. "Don't go down there," warned one of the other tenants. "There's a lake in it." They didn't have a torch, but offered us a candle. I had visions of a crypt and coffins, or a ferryman poling a boat through the walls. We decided to come back with a torch. And perhaps some garlic. You never know.

I'm not quite sure how, "Look, our old flat is on the market" turned into "We don't have enough room, let's go and look at houses", but oh well. Evening out with friends, who are trying to persuade me that I need to use a Windows machine at some stage to experience the glory that is "Worms".

May 12th

I spotted the house we used to have a flat in on the market and went and collected loads of house blurbs. We ended up going to see some of them. It's quite true about the joist holding up the ceiling in the one today. Apparently the shower was directly overhead. We decided we could live without hackers plummeting through the floor in the mornings as they misstep in the bathroom and crossed that one off the list.

May 11th

Okay, for the people who asked, the F in fwvm stands for one of the words in the FAQ, and it's not fantastic, fabulous or some or the more hopeful words. I think the author had a sense of humour.

Alan discovered a program on the television about the net. "Oooh. What is a portal?" and other sounds of amusement echoed across the room until I went over to watch (by which time the BBC website man was about to explain "what is a news ticker?"). At that point, the screen went blank. We gaped. I begin to think it's my aura.

But the weather is too nice for television anyway. It's very warm here, and Alan's spider plant collection on the window sill next to the computers is getting out of hand.

May 10th

And I thought I was obsessed with certain gnome-games. Apparently there is worse to come, according to the README for a script to merge high-score files. Dear, dear, me.

A long time ago, Alan's email archives at work grew so large that they eventually set aside a disk for it. Slightly less time ago, he retrieved the vast quantity of it, and put it somewhere else to do something with it when he had time. Over the last few days he has been quoting choice snippets from it. The first attempt at a code freeze for the kernel, the announcement of fvwm and what the f really stands for, and so on. I am just hoping his filter has removed all traces of frantic email from me along the lines of "Help, I cat'ed a binary file and my terminal has gone all funny" or "I have broken AberMUD again".

The weather is now officially too hot for Telsas. Yuk.

May 9th

Alan claims to be surprised that the room with the worst phone reception in the house is the computer room. Since I have been complaining (and being ignored) about not being able to get FM radio in the room next to it for some time (years!) I am laughing at him.

And if there's no connection between phone and radio reception (which I suspect), I don't care. It's still funny.

May 8th

Five minutes after the dear one departs is not the time you most want to see a sudden huge surge in network activity when you're not doing anything. I had a moment of "did the firewall crash?" panic before remembering that backups run over NFS here.

Wonderful weather, or at least "hot" weather (yuk). Alan got back early and laughed at me when I refused to buy something in the supermarket because it had two spelling errors on the side of the packet. ("To use this despenser..." was one. I forget the other.)

May 7th

Spotted a new milkshake shop in town and lost Alan for quarter of an hour as a result. I have no idea why it takes him so long to decide which flavour to have: he always ends up with chocolate.

Installation saga continues: I have half a fix for one install (even if it doesn't find the mouse there are keystrokes, which I have yet to find in the documentation) and got a very old Debian onto the machine in the meantime. It stalled at that stage because I forgot the IP address and Alan gave me the wrong one.

The man in the laptop shop (ahem) took my unfamilarity with Windows to mean unfamiliarity with computers. I muttered something about "I can cope with computers, I just don't know this OS" and he came right back with "Well, you can put Linux onto it". I am amazed. This is not what you normally expect from that particular shop. We weren't actually there for laptops, but I am doing anything that keeps Alan away from the wide-screen televisions. It's not as if we actually watch television generally, although the adaptation of "Breaking the Code" was on this weekend. (Play about Alan Turing, which we saw some years ago when it was touring. Recommended.)

Alan off again (at midnight, again) to Europe. Apparently this time it's Amsterdam, a place I would dearly love to see. Everyone who found out he was going there has been suggesting reasons why he might not want me with him there. I'm so reassured now.

Found a cool-looking toy, installed it, ran it, stared at core dump listlessly. This is getting quite out of hand.

May 6th

Guess what's still sitting downstairs? Yes. The 386. I discovered ample space for the filing cabinet in the computer room which is currently being occupied by four ice-cream holders in the shape of penguins. I am not impressed by this. Alan is sulking now that I have found this out.

May 5th

Two gigantic boxes arrived today. Alan is very excited about the contents, taking a screwdriver to them almost immediately. Mutterings of "Ooooh" and "Wow" were heard, along with "I wasn't expecting that." I typed some of his more obscure utterances into IRC with plaintive requests for elucidation and got back, "MCA bus? You're joking, right?"

Yes. Alan's exciting new toy is a 386.

May 4th

Hardware and installation day. What fun. By the end of the evening I had cured the videocard woes (I have been stuck on X for a few weeks or months because a dying netscape took down X and the videocard sulked and refused to display consoles after that) with a reboot, broken the Mandrake install process by not having a mouse it could detect, established that it's not my hardware that prevented Debian installing (and it's not me, either: I suspect the CD isn't bootable and I am desperately trying to avoid the floppy route), and still not successfully put anything onto the remaining two partitions of the second machine with the monster hard drive. (I know, triple-booting between three Linux distributions is silly, but I was curious.) And I broke various bits of Gnome.

So a productive day all round, really. Sigh.

May 3rd

Wow. A deluge of emails about sed (and a few "Use perl" comments, which I suppose I should have expected).

May 2nd

Alan had to be up early to leave for Guildford at 7.30am. Astoundingly, he did this. Spent a happy Alan-less day still failing to break CVS and wondering how to write sed scripts to change all my markup typos from <dunction> to <function> , from <commmand> to <command> and from <quandasomething> to <qandasomething> because I am bored of going through correcting them. The alternative is to learn to type, of course.

I didn't understand most of it, but I did like the approach of the sed manpage: "See also" has a long list which includes, "regex(5) [well, one ought to be written]". Maybe it's just me, but I like the dry comments you occasionally meet in manpages.

I suppose I could just use ispell. Trouble with that is that I am a menace with that program. It's not so very long ago that I hit the wrong key and told it to accept (and remember) every word from "Jabberwocky".

My sister became some sort of MS Certified Professional today. I knew she could do it. She's the only person I know who sends me email with Outlook and yet still manages to send it in ASCII with the quoted material at the top with "> " at the start of each (less than 76 char) line and her comments nicely interspersed beneath. (See, Outlook users, you can do it!)

May 1st

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 :)

April 30th

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.

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.)