The more accurate diary. (Old stuff)

Warning: These are old.

September 1st
Oh dear, the day to get my mail down to a sensible size. Oh dear. Oh dear. Spent a lot of time reading bugs for a package Alan has been messing with and working out whether the descriptions of "How-To-Repeat" bore any resemblance to Alan's descriptions of what he'd allegedly fixed. Result: one very confused Telsa.

Spotted a slug in the back yard. Whilst I was in the kitchen looking out of the back window. Yes. A very large slug indeed. Uurgh.

August 31st
This must have been a particularly productive day. I have no idea what either of us did.
August 30th
Goodness me. A workman. Alan supervised damp-proofing escapades and left me to watch for deliveries of toys. Once they arrived I ran away and went out for a meal with old workmates of Alan's. Alan arrived later, just in time to miss the discovery that Steve (of the "One Man's Unix" many moons ago) had much useful advice on the subject of moving houses, having done it all not too long ago. Cleverly, he arrived in time for the bottle of champagne won in a raffle and the inspiration for the meal.

I didn't mention it before, but Andrew had been playing with the television and had managed to discover the most amazing selections of really bad television I had seen in a while. The really frightening thing was that he proclaimed a lot of it better than what Canadians or Americans get. We managed to find some decent television tonight, which is such a startling event that I feel it worthy of recording here.

Now that Andrew has gone, it started to rain here again. So much for his theory that we don't actually get rain.

August 29th
Catching-up day. We caught up with house stuff. Andrew caught up with travel plans and discovered the joys of all the companies which used to be British Rail. Alan and Andrew attacked the skirting boards in the new house and created much mess, so they were happy. Andrew departed. On return we found Alan had missed deliveries of "toys" to the house and Alan was no longer happy.
August 28th
Ferry back. Alan and Andrew sleep-walked through getting up and onto the ferry. I took pity on them, booked a cabin for the day, and left them to snore in the dark whilst I lazed about on the deck in sun, with a book and the view. I had hoped to see dolphins, but no such luck. Later I dozed for a bit which Alan watched the sea for much less time than I did. He saw dolphins. Sulk.

Other than the dolphins, it was a successful trip. The bed and breakfast we stayed in is definitely recommended. Anywhere that serves porridge with whisky and honey is good. We were apparently very lucky with the weather: Donncha was amazed. ("It's not normally like this.") It must be Andrew's influence because it has been sunny all this time in Swansea, too.

Found Andrew a free house (a pub not tied to any one brewery so with a wider selection of beers) for the evening, because he mentioned "I thought there'd be more beers". All my first choices were off.

August 27th
Blarney today. The castle is great fun: there are some castles which, when you go around them, you feel they are not collections of rooms with thin walls separating them but instead a great mass of stone with small rooms hollowed out within in. Blarney Castle is definitely one like that. Speculated on the function of various narrow slits: Andrew and Alan went for the "that's for pouring boiling oil/shooting from" theories: I was on the "well, it would be very dark and smelly if it wasn't there" side. Failed to spot which room was the great hall, which would have appalled my dad (historian, who spent hours taking us around castles, churches and medieval towns when I was a child: consequently, I should know these things...)

At the top is the fabled Blarney Stone with its tale about kissing the stone and the eloquence you derive from this. You have to see this to appreciate it. It's right up on the battlements. There is a gap about two foot wide between the edge of the floor and the wall with the stone on. And you can look through the gap to the ground eighty feet below. (There are bars in the gap, but they don't look big :)) The way to get your head near enough to kiss the thing is to lie on your back with your head and shoulders over the gap, reach your arms back to grab two bars on the wall, and then try to arch your neck back bar enough to kiss the stone whilst a castle employee hangs onto the rest of your body.


Down at the bottom of the castle, in the rock on which it is built, is a large cave. Once my guidebook claimed you could go through it and see something on the other side, Alan, Donncha and Andrew had to try this. I went in afterwards, once they had actually re-emerged. Those FreeSWAN LEDs make very convenient torches.

In the grounds are a great many yew trees. We don't seem to have many yew trees locally and I miss them, so we had to go and see them to shut me up. It's alleged to be an ancient druid site, but the nineteenth-century additions of big stones complicate matters a bit. I did like the label "dolmen" on three stones which could not possibly be anything else. And the yew trees were glorious.

August 26th
Donncha kindly played chauffeur and we reached outside Cork, which I hadn't expected. Saw Gougane Barra (where the river Lee rises), which is absolutely stunning. Alan and Andrew met a toad and took pictures of it. Um. Stopped for food at a pub and about six hours later realised we really should make an effort to get back. Encountered Kevin Lyda and his exciting new camera ("Look! USB support!") and headed back to another pub where we also caught up with Peter Flynn and I got to bounce about his book, because I very nearly understand parts of it now. Asked him whether kissing the Blarney Stone would mark us indelibly as tourists. He tried to avoid answering this. Made a mental note for the next day.
August 25th
Alan fixed lots of bugs in something but wasn't very interested in finding and closing the bug numbers he might have fixed, so I started ploughing through them earlier this week. I got sidetracked and ended up with a neat list of different categories and which bugs were in which. How... useful. Um :)

Decided to show Andrew Cork, and got the overnight ferry to Ireland. I like this EU thing. No-one asked to see our passports on the way in or out. This makes up for the loss of duty-free when travelling within the EU, I think.

August 24th
Massive update because I have been unaccountably lax about this recently.

Lots of announcements came out of LWE. Having seen the transcript of one press conference and the way it was actually reported by the brightest and best of the computer press, I have my doubts about some of the rest of the coverage, too :) Oh well.

Updated the GNOME FAQ a bit more. Got fed up of trying to find the right bits to insert information, so printed the original version out and spread it over the floor. Printed all the submissions out, cut them into bits, attached them to the right bits of the version on the floor, carefully gathered it all up and prayed I didn't drop it all on the way to the keyboard. Now looking for a folding editor. Looked at the README for one, got scared by the build instructions, was unsurprised to hear Emacs does this, and stuck to bits of paper on the floor for now.

Got vaguely interested in bug-reports after seeing some comments about the quality of bug-reports. Have some opinions on the quality of bug-responses as a result :)

Andrew Hutton, who organises OLS, appeared on our doorstep and came to visit. We knew he was in Britain, but we had no idea when he was likely to show up. He has arrived, the weather has brightened up (so far, only one visitor has experienced Real Swansea Weather and thus everyone now thinks we're making it up), we have dragged him round the market and to see the castle, and then we got utterly lost when Alan demonstrated a "short cut" to the coast from the far end of town. I can understand how we reached the marina, but the docks?

Alan has been playing with sound drivers again and my life is plagued by beeps and boings and ascending scales "du-du-du-doo".

The new house progresses apace (where "apace" is understood to mean a very very slow snail's pace). The room I wanted to put computers in turns out to be so hot that this is not a good plan: you feel the heat hit you as you ascend the stairs. I am given to understand that computers do not like this.

Alan is blaming me for the fact that his amateur repairs on the antiquated internals of the toilet are not very good, hence the "Telsa broke it" comments he is threatening to include. I have now beaten him to it.

August 15th
The GNOME footprint on the Sun website? Whatever next?

The washing machine appears to be acquiring more water in it now, without actually being used. I am most perplexed.

August 14th
Caught up with lots of email. Well, Alan did. I have got the hang of "delete lots whilst away" procmail techniques now. I like this :) Alan has lost interest (or time) in the Vaio now, so I am happy. Got bored of all the LWE announcements before LWE had even started.
August 13th
Came back from Cropredy, it being over for another year (woe). Did at least return with yet more CDs (whee).
August 10th
Off at somewhat short notice to Cropredy, a small Oxfordshire village which is the site of a rather large folk festival where we meet all our friends, listen to lots of really cool music ("Folk is dead" "Um. Right. So this festival doesn't happen, then, and there aren't really about twenty thousand people converging here on it...?"), drink a modicum of alcohol, and wander around lots of cool stalls.

Details of said three days later, maybe. But you can't escape the net: even there I met someone in a GNOME tshirt and saw someone else in a UserFriendly one. Then again, there were all manner of tshirts being worn, advertising beer festivals, bands, motorbikes, environmental causes, silly slogans, and how many previous Cropredys the wearer had attended.

August 9th
Matthew Szulik, one of the Red Hat head honcho types, came to visit. It didn't rain. Seized the opportunity to go to favourite restaurant and when we came out it rained. He claimed to like the weather. After he left, dragged Alan tent-shopping and bought the funny-shaped one which looked like it would stay up in the wind. "Oh," said the woman at the till. "Don't forget to thoroughly immerse it before using it." We assured her it would get wet (it often does when we go camping) and she said that wouldn't be enough. Still reeling at the thought of a tent which required soaking before use, we went back and remembered to pack.
August 8th
Lots of rain. Recalled that we were supposed to be going to Cropredy, a folk festival in Oxfordshire. Went to look at tents. Not impressed. Our old one was a simple ridge-tent which took about five minutes to put up and which we bought for a song in a sale and did us proud for years. We've been taking it to Cropredy since 1992 but it finally died last summer in Savernake Forest. Boo-hoo. All the tents now come will silly extensible poles, require mucho strength to put up, and cost a lot more. Postponed decision until Alan could come, too. Alan does not want to come and inspect tents, but I do not want to put up with "What did you get this for?" if I can avoid it by delegating.
August 7th
Alan playing with sound drivers. After one particularly painful test at volume number eleven on a one to ten dial I was consoled only by the fact that Alan was much, much closer to the offending hardware than I was. He has now learned the value of checking the volume and turning it down before the first test.

It was almost (but not quite) enough to make me head over to the new house to do more washing. (This gets very boring in the rain.)

August 6th
More visitations and trips with friends. Went to the Hungry Horse at Dunvant. The big feature of this place is very large meals and refillable cokes. It seemed so like what was 'standard' in every American easting place that I have been to that it was quite eerie. Only the local accents (and the fact that you can smoke in the bar) made it any different.
August 5th
Friends we haven't seen for ages are down, so a trip or two to the pub seemed indicated. Tripped down to the pub. Someone (not me, not Alan) got his hand stuck in the pool table. I was impressed.

Found more bugs. Alan "fixed" the Vaio. It is now detecting devices on "-1". No comment.

Seagulls keep massing in the sky at dusk. They are very, very loud. Alan is trying to work out how to take pictures of them without their coming out as a lot of black dots on a dark background. I am not sure why, because they in fact look like a lot of black dots on a dark background.

August 4th
Too much has happened over the last few days. I can't even separate the days out. Sorted some more house things out: too much remains unsorted. Broke less of the Red Hat beta than I expected to, and people keep fixing bugs as fast as I file them. I'm impressed. I'm now reduced to bugs about the difference between "its" and "it's" in man pages. Hmm. (It could be worse, I have a friend who swore he used to file bugs against /usr/dict/words when he was bored..)

Alas, the old way to resurrect the washing machine no longer works. I hate it even more now. Conversations with the insurance people on the phone (we did not renew the insurance, but since the person who checked it failed to fix it, I feel it's their fault) proved... well, um. Let's just say we are waiting for the return call. Still. In the meantime we are carrying the laundry to a different washing machine in rucksacks and feeling very silly as people on the street stare and wonder who is possibly going hiking at 11pm at night.

Someone (either person or group) spammed me through three different methods today on the machine I don't have filters on (so that one or two friends with ISP "issues" can reach me). From three different accounts. Three different complaints duly sent off. One automated "Thank you for your email" response so far.

Alan keeps kidnapping my Vaio and crashing it. He plugged a camera into it and it kept taking pictures of me. I am not convinced this is a good thing. He then left it running and it refused to unsuspend. It was working until he touched it.

In further "appliances falling apart all around us" news, he blew his desk fan up. I was nowhere near it and am glad that I now have proof that I am not always the cause of such events.

Alan's solution to the council refusing to collect glass and wanting us to get it to a dump ourselves is to push it on a trolley down the road slowly in the middle of rush hour and direct complaints from people stuck behind us to the council. I am not convinced this will make us any friends.

A friend reminded us that we are supposed to be going camping with them (arranged months ago) next week. Argh. I suppose I should buy a tent (the old one finally died) in case one of us makes it...

July 31st
Finally remembered to put up OLS experiences and tidy the diary into something smaller. Because of the Vaio, I even had semi-legible notes for some of the talks, which will probably prove exactly how over my head that conference was. Those were the easy talks :( I gather that Rik stripped the half of the talk I very nearly understood whole sentences out of in London out of his memory management stuff for OLS as "introductory level". Hmpf! For laughs, ran it all through the validator and corrected a single error. Felt very proud, until I skimmed through it again and realised that whilst the markup was reasonable, the content was rubbish: I had all the wrong dates, among other things...

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.)