The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

July 30th
More music at the park: Motorhead, supported by Alarm 2000 and a bunch of other bands. We had intended to go, but the "bunch of other bands" (some of whom I definitely did not want to see) were playing for about eight hours, so in the end we skipped that.

Updated the proto-GNOME FAQ and hoped Miguel wouldn't kill me for stupid commit messages. I dunno, I just felt like writing silly rhymes..

Watched the Princess Bride on DVD. When I saw this at the cinema, one of the things I loved was the photography. The scenery seemed to have much more depth in my memory of that than in the showings on television or video. I had begun to think that maybe this was my imagination, but apparently not. I am ascribing this to the DVD because if I admit that the large television was a good thing to buy, I am lost. (When the box was too large to fit through the door and it had to be unpacked in the street, I was not desperately ecstatic; so I cannot possibly admit it was a good thing after all...)

The washing machine had another fit. I really was hoping it would hold out until we moved, but it's requiring draining every two or three washes now. Alan's theory is that it is the new powder. My theory is that it hates me. (It's reciprocated.)

July 29th
Alan celebrated his birthday by sleeping in until unimaginable hours, and then dozing on the futon. Went out for a meal in the evening with Heather and Justin, and spotted another friend in the restaurant at the table behind us. There are lots of events in the local park at the moment, most of them involving music of various sorts. Justin and Heather live close enough to it that they had to escape from the noise of "Escape into the Park". Heather and I worked out the right amount of wine to start with by asking Alan how much of it he wanted. He is worried by the fact that after he answered, we looked at each other and said "A litre, then" simultaneously.

Alan found I had not taken the "shrink-the-bite" tablets so that I could drink ("It won't itch then anyway!") and found this very funny.

July 28th
Alan kidnapped the Vaio again. Hmm. I told him to "get his own", which is a bit mean because his normal laptop is away for repairs, and he has to give back the one he borrowed for OLS. He went to Dabs and started checking prices. Oh dear. Perhaps this is a hint for tomorrow.

I got bitten by lots of horrible insects in Canada, and one of the bites has swollen up alarmingly. I described it to Canadian friends and their reaction was to start saying, "Maybe it wasn't a mosquito. Maybe it was a..." and coming up with all manner of dreadful things: spiders with nasty bites, blackflies that take chunks of flesh out of you ("Is skin missing in the centre?"), and so on. They didn't mention these before I went to Canada! By then it was naturally too late in the day to visit the doctors so I got some stuff from the pharmacist and sulked about the "do not mix with alcohol" part.

July 27th
Can't think how, but I am not jetlagged this year, or maybe I am speaking too soon.

Caught up with lots of stuff like tax and filing (ugh). Alan refiled everything in piles on the floor.

Rang lots of people about lots of house things. No-one wants to deal with my cellar for me: looks increasingly like I get to (somehow) travel out to somewhere that rents pumps out, take it home, mess with water, electricity and slime all at the same time, try to find a nearby drain for all the stuff to go down to, and then it's going to be some days' worth of shovelling any remaining horrible stuff around, up the stairs and out into... well. I dunno. I can't really see the council picking that up, since they have already informed me that no, they won't pick up glass, and it's up to me to transport it to a "civic amenity site". Having no car appears to be more of an issue than I thought. I can't quite work out what (warning, cliche alert) elderly housebound folk are supposed to do if they have to suddenly get rid of stuff. "Have children living locally with a car", I suspect.

Alan kidnapped the Vaio which I appear to have acquired en route to Canada. He wants to "fix sound better". It gets hot when it's compiling kernels, but not as bad as I feared.

July 26th
Returned from OLS. Discovered much email about Alan. Clearly the "I am not a shortcut to Alan" and "emailing me with questions about Alan is not a good plan" comments all over the place need to be in giant fonts and red and yellow flashy letters, so here goes:

Alan is not leaving Linux, changing jobs, or getting burned out. He is just very very busy. This ends up making me busy, too (especially when "need this particular tshirt for a conference" results in "blown-up washing machine" and "lots of hanging around waiting for repair men to tell us it's working, really" and other little domestic details like that. Grumble.) He has lots to do for Linux, and we both have lots to do with non-Linux things, like the new house (grr), the annual tax joy, and a whole bunch of little things like "it would be really really nice to see some friends and family for the first time in ages. Or even to have time to email them instead of replying to questions about Alan".

That's all I'm saying, except that next time I really shall use the <blink> tag; and I should add that it bothers me that I have to. He's had a link on his diary page to OLS for months. He's been listed as a speaker there for months. It was a reasonable guess that he might be away around those dates. I have a "I am not an Alan-substitute" disclaimer everywhere I can reasonably put it. I know about his comment about /dev/null'ing a lot of email if he doesn't know the source, but honestly, emailing me instead is pushing it.

Oh yes. When I went to put the washing in when we got back, I discovered a pile of water in the washing machine. I would swear it wasn't there when we went away. Lovely. How I wish we could move now and I could have the new machine.

Aside from that, it's nice to be back. The weather is much nicer here, for one! OLS review from my point of view is almost done, but needs tidying up and spell-checking and all that jazz.

July 25th
Kept bumping into LinuxCare people and took this as a sign. "We must invade the LinuxCare office!" Went to drag them out for lunch. I typed on willy's Netscape session and the link went down. I hid.

Headed off to airport, stopping only to pick up the Princess Bride DVD (hooray!). Discovered many Charles de Lint books at the airport which hadn't been in either bookshop I had visited. Sulked a lot as I had no more room in hand baggage and we'd checked in the rest so I couldn't buy them.

July 24th
More Ottawa-wanderings punctuated by repeated failures to get tickets for the "Amphi-bus", which is a tour bus which apparently slides down into the river and floats along it! Discovered the By-ward Market. My initial puzzlement on why Alan had not mentioned this delight to me was dispelled when I started trying to buy everything there... I did find a whole bunch of Cheap Ass Games (don't blame me for the name!) which are hard to get around here, and bought a good half of them.

Went for a meal with various LinuxCare-in-Canada people (and Australian hangers-on :)), which involved the inevitable "how many people have we got? Which restaurants can fit that in? At which of those are we prepared to eat?" questions and a brisk walk around the block to the same starting point before deciding "And which of these have we locations for?" was another pressing question to answer. Eventually simply asked the nearest restaurant to rearrange the tables, and they complied.

It was a nice meal, even if margaritas do not go well with Vietnamese food and they poured extra salt into the bottom of the margarita glasses (not something you want to discover when draining the glass, but I did. Ugh). Delighted to discover the alternative hacker way to paying the bill. Total it up, divide by people, throw money into centre until complete and hope the people who didn't have a starter have the sense to pay less and the people who did have the drinks (hic!) pay more. Much simpler than palmpilots.

July 23rd
Recovering from party and touring Ottawa with Alan and Dave and Nina Miller. Parliament Hill is wonderful, and has real live Mounties for the tourists. And I saw a groundhog, so I am very excited. I might not have seen a beaver, but I saw a groundhog, at least. I must confess, however, that it reminded me irresistibly of a "pet rock" (stones with a pair of eyes stuck on them), only hairier. On a more sane note, the art gallery has an exhibition of Impressionist stuff which is deeply cool (I could have stared at one or two pictures for a lot longer. Soothes the soul) and a display of Inuit sculpture which we spent the rest of the day in. Evening was taken up by a party given by friends, at which huge amounts were drunk and I missed all the food. Hic.
July 19-22nd
At OLS. Expect review later.
July 18th
Set off at unearthly hours for OLS.
July 17th
Packed frantically for OLS. Switched procmailrcs to the "/dev/null as many mailing lists as possible" one. Pondered unsubscribing from a few. This is for the machine which is not ORBS-protected. Pondered finally getting that sorted.
July 15th
Oh look. What a surprise. Washing machine broke down again. Drained it, restarted it, and it finished. It's now staying in the centre of the kitchen because I am fed up of trying to drag it there to drain it. Luckily, we had just stocked up with plenty of wine. So I am relaxing now, and happily anticipating the last part of Lord of the Rings on tape. For anyone who hasn't emailed me about this (and there can't be many), if you go to the Lynx-unfriendly and then search for "lord of the rings" without the quotes, you should find what I've been listening to.

Alan spoilt an entire week of being up at relatively sane hours. Boo, hiss. He partially redeemed himself (or dropped himself in deeper. I am not sure) by implementing a stupid idea I had for something that would be fun. Beware of gnome-fridge, if it ever gets to a release. (No, it has nothing to do with checking the contents or re-ordering Jolt.)

July 14th
Corrected the link at the top of the page. Apparently I can't count the right number of "../"s to put at the start. Ahem.

Talked to another kitchen man, who was slightly saner than the last one. The last one suggested, when I said I wanted the radiator to go because I didn't like hot kitchens, that we get some weird other heating instead. This one had helpful comments like "If your husband spatters fat everywhere with a wok, don't go for this: it won't clean off". I took this to heart.

Alan felt the urge to take all the kitchen floor up. I ran away back to tidy the house we're actually living in and contemplate decoration. I had tried to persuade Alan that what we needed was a house that was purple, with big green and orange bubbles painted over it. He looked at me and said, "Then you'd have to paint 'happy house' on it". I was enchanted with this idea, but when I asked him what colour it should be, he went strangely silent.

He is in no position to comment. Toward the end of the night, I was listening to a version of Saint-Saën's "Danse Macabre". Alan grabbed the squeaky penguins and made them sing (squeak?) along to it. Dear me.

July 13th
Dispatched by Alan to house to await gasman, arriving between 8am and 1pm, and kitchen man (1pm). Got very, very bored. Couldn't do much in the house because there is no doorbell and you won't hear the knock on the door if you're in the back of the house. Counted woodlice instead (uuurgh. My house. Not theirs). Decided I needed a laptop for scribbling stuff on in future. I am not sure Alan is convinced.

Both people arrived at once, of course, as did Alan, carrying the hoover. Made great inroads on parts of the house, then the hoover got worryingly hot. Eep. Alan played with electricity and failed to electrocute himself, much to my relief.

Patrick Moore (well-known British astronomy bod who has been presenting "The Sky At Night" for years and years) was at the Grand Theatre, so we trotted out to hear him. He didn't play the xylophone (he's also well-known for being "astronomy bod who plays the xylophone"...) but it was still worth going to.

July 12th
Washing machine now fixed. Allegedly. Survived the test load, at least.

Got a lift with friends to out-of-town place which is reputed to have places that do stuff like install things into kitchens. All were shut (so, if you don't have a car, it's a 45-minute bus ride to discover this) except for one. Our favourite. The source of the cooker chaos earlier this year. Oh well.

Discovered that the bin-men do not collect from the back alley. We now have eight bags of garden refuse sitting there. Oh well.

July 11th
Exciting new house tidying. And stuff. Local council doesn't like garden rubbish in standard binbags and expects us to locate the housing office, which is cunningly hidden, in its opening hours, which are cunningly different on different days, and buy the correct, which seems to translate as "they're green", ones there. I bought twenty and brought the queue behind to a complete stop as the woman carefully folded each one impeccably and then realised they weren't going to pass through the serving counter window. Promptly filled almost half of them with bits of tree, lots of rubbish from the garden, and so on. Wonder if we're supposed to leave them at the front or the back? Tried both.
July 10th
Alan almost up before nine but he got as far as the bathroom before returning to bed. Ran around frantically doing email things (Why do people email me questions about FreeBSD? More worryingly, why can I answer them after two minutes with Google?); ran around frantically doing house-related things (I know all I need to about 'tanking' and 'sump pumps', with one exception: local providers of such services) and discovering that every builder in Swansea is booked solid until August at best; ran around frantically doing all the washing from the London thing and (ahem) LinuxTag (the washing machine broke. Again. Two days before the annual service).

I am not a happy bunny.

July 9th
Alan up before nine for the third day in a row. I am baffled by his priorities. Owen le Blanc had figured out the pedestrian route to the conference location and entertained me with fascinating anecdotes about New Orleans on the way. Listened to Hans Reiser's talk, came to myself with a start and wondered why I was sitting in the middle of a series of talks about filesystems, ran away before Stephen Tweedie had started, and listened to Miguel on the subject of last night's dancing. Miguel does not like London weather: it is Too Cold. Good job he didn't visit in December.

Headed back on one of the two trains which did not involve getting coaches due to Engineering Works On The Line. Sundays are railway repair day, which accounts for a lot of my tales of rail woe. Finished the back-up book (bought in case I finished Harry Potter) and listened to the battle of Helm's Deep and Frodo and Sam progressing through the marshes on the Lord of the Ring tapes. I could get far too fond of taped books and plays, I can tell already.

Alan immediately started a squeaky penguin conversation with the penguins. The mind reels, yes.

Lots of people asked about the house when I got back. As far as we know, it's still standing. Further updates as the saga falls out. But not, I hope, down.

July 8th
Well, I was up bright and early, but not so the slumbering one. Wandered down to breakfast. (Cooked breakfasts of the sausage, bacon, beans and egg variety, leading to, "What's vegetarian?" "Nothing." "Well, can I just have the eggs?" and a plate of two solitary eggs, much to my bemusement: when did baked beans become meat?) Advised Alan he'd prefer to eat elsewhere.

Decided to forego Stephen Tweedie on clustering and other delights in favour of hunt-the-bookshop. A trip into central London to find Forbidden Planet seemed unlikely, alas, so we settled for finding a Waterstones to buy the latest Harry Potter book. Yes, yes, I know. Huge amounts of hype. But I like the books. Back to UKUUG, discovering I'd missed Michael's talk. Hans Reiser arrived just in time for the long lunch-break, prompting BOFery with Stephen Tweedie and Rik van Riel. I settled down to more Harry Potter. :)

Admired the O'Reilly bookstand. Offered to review books if I got to pick which they sent to me. It didn't quite work, but oh well. It was worth a try.

Failed to understand more than one slide of the LVM talk, blinked at Wichert's talk about package management (a new tool? Woo) and after some discussion earlier ("What's a capability?" "It's for one thing" "What, like that Tanenbaum book?" "Yes" "Oh. Never understood that.") decided to skip Linda Walsh's talk. Anyway, I had only got up to chapter 7 in the Harry Potter book by then.

Nearly finished, when everyone spilled out of the talk and it was time to go to the pub where Alistair had managed to book the entire downstairs. Alistair was hunting Hans Reiser, hoping he hadn't got lost. We told him that we'd last heard him discussing clubbing plans with Miguel. Alistair didn't look reassured. The Debian people took one drink, "Lager? No beer?" and declared themselves in quest of beer. Ended up at the neighbouring Weatherspoons, baffled the bar staff: "Eight pints of bitter and a chocolate fudge cake, please" and discovered you could get change from a twenty-pound note after buying a round. Decided not to move.

Eventually, Alan and I headed off back to hotel, and I finished Harry Potter and fell asleep.

July 7th
Woke Alan up for the UKUUG Linux Developers' Conference. Persuaded him that he did not have to take the squeaky penguins we acquired at LinuxTag with us. He was very sad, and squeaked the penguins sadly.

Reached London despite landslips on the line (I swear: _something_ happens for every damn trip), discovered the cunningly-hidden extra tube station at Paddington (did you even know it had sixteen (!) platforms, let alone an extra tube line serving platform 16? I'd forgotten all about that one), found our way to the conference after meeting Martin Baulig and Dennis Daniel at the other station and playing "straight down the road... wait, we're still on the inside of the Hammersmith roundabout, haven't we been past this bit already?", and ran into the talk we were missing. Apparently we weren't sufficiently subtle in our entrance as Miguel stopped to announce, "Oh, there's Telsa.. and Martin... and..". Sorry, Miguel.

Rik van Riel promised me faithfully that if I listened to his talk I would understand "at least the first half", based, I think, on seeing me reply to a bunch of questions via email but not seeing me frantically hunt down answers before replying. I understood the first few slides, but that was about it. Decided I would not understand Raster on X programming, but slipped into Alan's talk. He offered people a choice of four talks, and the sods voted for the 2.4 kernel talk. Again. Argh. I could very nearly give that talk now, although without the silly asides.

Located hotel, which had Alan in fits of nostalgia ("Oh, wow, a really old-fashioned lift". Don't ask), checked in, and attempted to meet miscellaneous people for a meal. Restaurants with space for twenty-four people without booking on a Friday night are thin on the ground even in London, but we managed it. Someone managed to get multiple copies of the bill: the food price total was reasonable, but the drinks were a bit of a shock: did we really buy 17 bottles of the house red?

Miguel was now awake properly, and vanished along with Michael Meeks and possibly some others to locate clubs. "We must dance!" We headed back to the hotel for more drinks and discovered the bar was shut. After sulking, hopped over the road to the Debian enclave, where there was a bar (what is it with these people?) for a brief while.

July 6th
Good day: got to attack the bookshop with Rik. Giggled at the Harry Potter fancy dress competition it's holding. One of the staff looked slightly pained at all the attention on that book and we ended up in an animated discussion of when the final part of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights trilogy will be out.

Deposited Rik at coach station. More friends visited. So we showed off the house and its peculiar "no-one lives in me" smell and discussed (sigh) specs for a computer that's going to be doing a lot of maths. After, we started on the "how do we get that cellar drained?" quest. We have been told that all pubs locally have the same problem and deal with it, but we accidentally bought a drink in the first pub (as you do) and then sat and watched the rain and thunder and wished Rik had met this. He'd have thought the weather here was even madder. The answer from pub number one, incidentally, was "We get a man who knows about cellars in". Helpful, yes.

July 5th
Spent day doing house things, changing utility (gas, electric, water, phone) stuff over, playing with telephone menus, swearing, finding locksmiths, and fretting about Alan playing with electric sockets in the house. Rik sat upstairs admiring the connectivity to Brazil (no comment) at the real inhabitable house.

It looks like this house is going to take quite a bit of work.

Evening out with the usual crowd (who have acquired a student slave for the summer) for a meal at the place with a French menu and a Chinese menu. Lots of fun. Heather and I escaped the technical stuff and much to our disbelief, they didn't use a palmpilot to work out the bill.

I think it's fair to say that diary entries may be even more appallingly intermittent than usual. In the meantime, you can read the LinuxTag account instead.

July 4th
We have a house! We have a house! Ran out to see it immediately, dragging poor Rik, who encountered a summer rain shower in disbelief. "You say this is summer here?" Rik likes the house, too. Was a great time to check the drains. And the water in the cellar. Uurgh. We took lightbulbs for the cellar. It looks even worse now.

Went back armed with... implements.. later that day. Years of real-life Sokoban has a use: we manoeuvred the ladder into the back of a taxi with the help of an amused taxi-driver. We need the ladder to change the lightbulbs in the rooms. Alan chopped down a sycamore growing a foot from the house. I saved some of the sprigs and shoots, but I have doubts about their viability :( I went at the kitchen floor with a wire brush. When I got down to the level where I could see a five pence coin embedded in the gunge I felt I was getting somewhere. (In all truth, the rest wasn't too bad: it looks like the floor got cleaned and then they removed the fridge, exposing the gap between fridge and unit).

I am strongly of the opinion that we pay to get the muck out of the cellar, because I just know that once I get half-way up the stairs with a decaying beanbag I shall see something with too many legs (a woodlouse), scream, drop beanbag, and fall back down the steps onto it. And this will be very bad and no-one will hear the end of it.

I am also of the opinion that we are using the old (backup? :)) vacuum cleaner on the place before my shiny purple and green iMac-lookalike Dyson goes near it. It will probably eat the carpets.

Chinese food tonight. Says Rik, "It's not like this in Holland, Brazil, or America". We are not sure what to make of this :) Watched DVDs and opened some appallingly high-alcohol-content Brazilian drink. Hic.

July 3rd
Ran around frantically in preparation for buying a house. Took Rik around Swansea. He likes our bookshop but he is not so keen on the weather. We were complaining of the heat. He was too cold. Rik has brought us many presents from Brazil. I like the guarana syrup, but I confess to reservations about the chimarrão (one gourd, hollowed out, gloop in bottom, pour in leaves, allow to solidify on top, dribble water in down the side, insert implement which is half spoon, half-straw, and half stirrer, imbibe (carefully) through straw. It's nice. But it's odd. (And no, I don't drink tea, either.)

Got large Indian take-out for Rik (well, for us, too).

July 2nd
LinuxTag and home. We have a guest: Rik van Riel is here until the UKUUG show in London later this week. I was appalled to discover that Alan is extrapolating from the net to real life: he now opens all the post over the bin...
July 1st
June 30th

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.)