Warning: These are old.
We had to be out by nine pm to make way for another big party, so we came back here for ice-cream and hot chocolate and I am cleaned out of ice-cream now. We started with four cartons, and there were only seven of us. (Some of them were not full when we started, admittedly, but all the same..)
Matthew discovered the bandwidth here and did an apt-get dist upgrade
or something. "Hmm. I should get Mozilla, too. And there's that CVS
tree I could check out..." I left him and Alan to the joys of the
"Just two people? In this house?" "Well, we need the space, he works from home". "Oh? Doing what?" "You'll see..." "Good god, that's a few computers! What do you do?" [Inward groan] "Well, he works for... ur.. a company that makes software and an operating system that's a free alternative to Windows." "Oh! I've heard of that!" [Boggle]. "Really?"
So I showed him a pretty desktop, and flipped a few themes around, and
tried to find a graphical app I actually had installed on the computer,
because lots of gnome-terminals apparently look scary, even if they
are sweet and fluffy colours, and he asked a few questions, and then
he went off declaring he would buy it next time he was at PC World. Eep.
Watched the Wales-South Africa match on the television and um. Well. I really thought that an IRC conversation which had to break off for us both to find the television and watch the match was going to be picked up again with me bouncing and crowing, but alas not.
Up appallingly late at night, ending up in a bizarre "Imagine a
GNOME adventure game" conversation on IRC. "You are in a room. There
are 256 bonobos here". "You attack the panel! The panel slides away
from you! You miss!" And so on. Well, it seemed funny at the time.
Alan was up even later.
I seem to have lost Alan. We appear to be at opposite ends of the
sleep-wake cycle. I am rapidly going off this HP stuff.
Alan has realised that his web to phone program was a mistake
after I started sending him messages out of curiosity (and for
the entertainment value, I admit it). This is the first time he
has written a program which causes me more amusement than him.
Alan kept trying to print things. We had to unjam the printer (which now works, thankfully). He has stopped sending me text messages on the phone, thankfully, but I have now got "Win lots of money!" messages from the phone company instead. Not impressed.
Watched some more of the Edge of Darkness DVD we got recently. I had forgotten quite how fabulous this was. Discovered comments from IMDb readers that most American networks wouldn't show it, and the one that did cut 45 minutes out of it. I expect that'll be the bits about big business corruption and messing about with other countries' plutonium.
Played with aspell. I must have some US dictionaries installed from the days of ispell, because I got the most incredible results. "leaves" wasn't acceptable, and one of the suggestions for "documentor" was "tormentor". I am hurt. I think I need to nuke the spelling programs and dictionaries and start again anyway, because a year or so ago I accidentally managed to add every word from Jabberwocky into the dictionary of acceptable words.
Found out that American papers are apparently either not reporting the UN
climate conference at all, or are reporting it as "America improving
chances of treaty". Boggle. (Yes, the media here is slanting it slightly
Weather still typically wet. Alan still lurking around the computer
room doing I have no idea what. I summoned him to remove another
woodlouse and everyone laughed at me. Alan has been going on rampages
on E-bay again. I am scared now. He says he has bought "worms".
Weird programmers. He was downstairs typing at my computer doing this, and I discovered that he sings "bom bom, bom-di-bom" to himself whilst doing all the routine bits. "Do you do this when I'm not listening?" I asked. He admitted, "Well. Sometimes." Sing-a-long-a-kernel-hack, my gods. I laughed a lot, and in retaliation, he read all his mail downstairs, too. I got bored.
Forced Alan to empty his pockets after yesterday's visit to the
house we are trying to sell. Accumulated about 20 pence in varied
Watched the Iron Man on DVD. Squabbled pointlessly over whether it counted as a fairy tale, which was fun, if unresolved.
Panicked about visas for Australia. Living in the UK, it emerges we need them. Acting on advice from the nice man on the phone at the High Commission, rang a friendly travel agent who fixed up "ETA"s for us. "You're sorted now. It's all in the computer." Prayed it was a friendly computer.
Alan nearly bought a copy of the Third Man on E-Bay. But somebody else bought it for more. Boo hiss.
Attempted to explain the Great British Pantomime to an American
friend. There appear to be no good explanations of this for the
panto-deprived on the net. Someone needs to write one before I do.
(Note: it has nothing to do with people with white make-up making
gestures without speaking. No.)
He's also grabbing all the stuff he was writing in preparation before before the iPAQ turned up and shoving them onto the iPAQ. Some moons ago,I observed that it would be cute to have an application for magnetic fridge poetry. It's already been done in Java on the web, I found, but Alan started playing with the gnome canvas and along came gnome-fridge. It wasn't very useful, since all the little "magnets" all said the same thing -- "Hello, Fridge" -- but it was a start. Apparently he's now removing the GNOME stuff and putting it on the iPAQ.
Spent most of the day trying to scribble down Alan's LinuxTag talk and realising that it's awfully hard. I don't think I'm quite ready for getting into the OLS Transcription Project yet: they're doing it properly and just scribbling who said what down is hard enough. (And anyway, I found a list of things I promised to do and realised I should perhaps do some of them at some stage.) Alan was very happy until I informed him I expected him to fill in all the inaudible bits.
Alan was up until late again and wandered downstairs and finally caught and evicted the slug that leaves little trails just outside the shower. Hooray!
Woodlice evicted since return: three. Matters are improving.
Rediscovered some .ogg files I had downloaded ages ago and spent far too long attempting to install something, anything, which would play them. I found a Mandrake cooker rpm of ogg123, which I couldn't rebuild. I found there were plugins for xmms, but I couldn't get through to the site at the time. In the end, downloaded and compiled freeamp and got toally and utterly lost by the UI, after core-dumping it (surprise). The wizard won't talk to me any more, and I can't find its dot files. Eventually grabbed the CVS nightly tarball of stuff from the vorbis site and started mucking about. Had to summon Alan, but finally made rpms from it (hey, working specfiles in the tarball -- yay!) although I had to comment the docs-building stuff out. Played the ogg files, remembered I'd promised a transcript of one of them to someone, and opened the wine from Austria instead. Watched some more Edge of Darkness and sulked about forgetting to video Scrapheap.
The NTL man arrived to transfer some line or other (I have no idea:
I am totally lost on this stuff) to here instead of the other house.
He plugged it all back in and plugged the phone line into the modem,
which may explain the lack of a few phone calls I was expecting. Oh
well. If you were one of the people involved: sorry. It wasn't my
Alan was lost in his email, and has as a result of his playing with WAP, his phone, and his email, finally admitted that the machine he reads email on need procmail. Yes! I still read some email there, and very painful it is too: that's the address which gets the most spam. It's an old machine which he just never got around to upgrading: a 486 with 8 megs of RAM. It used to have the printer on it, too, but Alan kept hitting 'p' in elm by mistake and the whole machine would stop whilst it tried to print.
I wandered around making notes about What To Do To The House Next
(filling in the holes in the walls where we ripped the old gas fires
out is right up there at the top of the list, along with plastering
and putting the skirting boards back for half the bottom of the house.
I have the nasty feeling plaster dust is going to be very bad for
my computer and I am wondering whether switching it off whilst this
goes on and covering it with clingfilm or something is safe or just
very stupid and liable to land me in lists of "stupid tech support
calls". I suspect the latter.
Then back to Tamer's to pick up the luggage and depart mournfully to
the airport. Matters were enlivened by a monster traffic jam on the
road, and I had visions of our visit to Oslo, where we arrived so
late at the airport that we were now on standby and had about ten
minutes to clear customs and bolt down about a mile of corridor to
the furthest gate in the airport. Thankfully, things went a little
more smoothly this time, and we arrived safely in London in the rain
at 9.15pm, waited for our coach (11.25: Alan was playing safe with
the booking) amid the chaos that is Heathrow's bus station, compared
it unfavourably with towns where everything is signposted, and the
timetables list all services, not just random ones (at one stage, the
screen informed us that the next coach was at 8am) whilst Alan got
his phone WAP stuff working again ("I knew having it restart daily
in case there was a problem would be a good idea -- and anyway, it
was easier to write it that way"). Coach arrived, and we tumbled out
at the Swansea end at some unsociable hour in the morning, at which
stage Alan was feeling wide awake.
Alan did some interview for a magazine and it has been trying to get a photograph of him for ages. Finally, a photographer caught up with us, and Tamer and I got to watch as the photographer had Alan cuddle penguin toys, look off into the distance on the U-bahn (much to the confusion of the other passengers), ascend and descend escalators, and stand in front of terminals and great big machines. This last required access to one of the machines room at the university, and I frankly boggled at it. About all I understood or recognised was the vt520 terminals (I have a vt420 and I won't throw it out because I like the font and the keyboard and I live in hope of finding the control codes for cut and paste which people tell me exist). The machines were just scary.
We went to the Naschmarkt, which seems a little hard to translate: apparently naschen is to do with "how you eat sweets". It's full of spices, kebabs (Alan liked that bit), and about fifty stalls selling nothing but olives and sheep's milk cheese. Regrettably, I had to conclude packing those latter two would be tricky.
I don't know how Alan does it, but there is no trip he makes where he is unable to find a broken Windows display. In the U-bahn, there were rotating adverts provided by some kind of projection, and plastered all over one on the advert spaces was the German-language equivalent of the dialogue telling you about an application encountering a fatal error. He was very happy, and took a photo. What a lovely memento of Vienna. Mmm.
In the evening we went to the Riesenrad, the big wheel that made an
appearance in the Third Man, and I was shocked to discover Alan has
never seen the Third Man; nor did he recognise the quote about "In
Italy under the Borgias..." After that, we went to a cafe rotating
around the top of a very tall tower, which was rocking in the wind.
(You could hear it creaking!) It was built 15 years ago. The Riesenrad
was built a century ago. Guess which one I felt more safe in?
As a result of the late night, a late morning, although we made it to lunch with Philip and Sid (who is really Andreas, in that engaging way that net users tend to have). We headed to the university (ooh. Terminals with GNOME on them!), avoided having to use the teletype which they keep as a nice toy (Alan started suggesting useful things it could do, to everyone's disbelief), and on hearing we had as yet no Burgenland wine, Philip produced two bottles. (For later, I add.)
Then it was time for Alan's talk. Lots of activity and the room started filling up very early. Alan was supposed to be interviewed, so he went shopping for food instead (sigh) and I fear all the tape of the interview will have is Alan trying to talk and eat at the same time.
Alan did his talk, and then there were lots of questions. And then we
(which was about twenty people) went for food. I can't think how it is
that if twenty people wander around looking for food, they eventually
find somewhere decent, and yet if Alan and I want to go out, everywhere
is booked up. We caught the last U-bahn back, so it must have been a
good night :)
Tamer had somehow acquired tickets to the Spanish Riding School at Vienna at short notice (my Rough Guide reckoned you needed to book months in advance) so to my delight and amazement we finally got to see the dancing horses. Ahem. It's a little more refined than that, but it's horses and music, so.. The building they use is incredible: built in 1735 and as unlike the menage where I, at the age of ten, attempted to learn how not to fall off horses when they walk in a straight line that there's no comparison. I have forgotten everything I ever knew about riding except the horror of trying to make a horse start a canter on the leg you want it to, so seeing horses change leading leg every step was a bit unnerving. Show-offs, say I.
In the afternoon we headed for Burgenland, the easternmost part of Austria, bordering with Hungary, famed (according to locals -- including Tamer, who doesn't even drink the stuff!) for its wine. We started at the Neusiedlersee, a colossal flat shallow reed-surrounded lake, and then wandered around the Roman ruins of Carnuntum: this was their eastern border against the barbarians, apparently. I was delighted to find that the Danube really is blue -- at this part, at least -- and not the colours I had heard about as the result of industrial pollution.
We visited Tamer's parents and had a most fabulous Egyptian meal (as you do in Austria, yes..) although the pumpkinseed oil, they assured us, was from Styria and "very Austrian". Mahalabiya, however, is probably not at all Austrian :)
On our return we caught the Bim (bim bim!) and admired the statue of Strauss on the Ring. And then to bed -- well, for me. Like most nights, Alan and Tamer stayed up talking about all manner of things I didn't understand. Surprise.
I missed the final of Scrapheap. Forgot to set the video. Waah. And
it looks it was fun.
Dragged ourselves away from demos of Parsec and then of Wine successfully coping with Monkey Island IV to see something a bit more typical of Vienna: the Schönbrunn, one of the seats of the Habsburg family who ruled here until recently (note for Americans: recently means "last century"). The Great Hall really did live up to its name: I spent so long staring at the painted walls and ceiling that Alan and Tamer had to come back to find me because they were several rooms ahead and I had the tickets to get into the next part. Apparently the place was modelled on Versailles, so the grounds were stunning. We walked around them for a few hours and still saw only about a tenth of them. My poppy (I don't know how other countries observe it, but the 11th of November is the day everyone wear poppies in the UK in memory of the world wars) wilted.
Food in the evening suggested by Tamer's sister: Schnitzelwirt, which is clearly the local backpackers' and students' main destination: the portions are colossal. We decided to have a walk before dessert as a result, and I decided we needed to do the tourist thing and have "real" Sachertorte at the Sacher Hotel, where in a conversation about what drinks to have, the waitress said, "Is very nice, and not expensive" which made me think that perhaps we weren't dressed to the standard of the decor.
I discovered to my delight that the local trams are called the "Bim" because of the sound of the bells they use when cars are in their way. I don't know why, but I thought this was a wonderful name. Bim bim!
On return, had a look at the television. There has been a most
horrendous disaster in Austria: a fire in a train in a tunnel. :(
Off at silly hours in the morning to the airport, and thence to Vienna, to stay with one of the guys Alan met at LinuxTag in summer.
There were prawns in the airline food. I must find out how you get the veggie meals. I never seem to know where and when you request that.
Tamer picked us up, and we started off in this city of history and culture by going to the local fast food chain, Wienerwald, with Raymond and Heinz, whose name I have probably spelled wrong. Then we found a bar and I discovered dunkles bier, which is described as a little like stout, but I think it's more like the "scotch" (the beer, not the spirit) that you get in the north of England. Very nutty. Wandered around the town after going "Oooh" and "Ahh" (but not "Hic!") at the place, with Alan trying to stop me bouncing about trams. (I have this thing about public transport, and we don't have trams here. Waah.)
Alan had been gloating about his new improved "get email via WAP on
his phone" idea, but it didn't work. Which is probably just as well.
He had to be sociable instead. Oh the horror.
Large monitor arrived in lots of bubble wrap. After my attempt to requisition it failed, I was faced with the problem of getting all the bubble wrap downstairs again. Alan threw it all over me. I love him, I do. I looked at the sheer quantity of it and at the length of the stairs and sanity did not prevail.
I came back to earth with a bump and the realisation that on IRC Alan was telling everyone "Oh dear. Telsa is sliding down the stairs on a heap of bubble wrap, going 'Wheee'".
Matters degenerated, and he is in no position to cast stones anymore. Just don't ask.
Gnome election results came out, after a late attempt to claim we
needed a recount in Hawaii failed after half the channel volunteered
to be flown to Hawaii to do it. Pooh, they're spoilsports. I was
looking forward to offering to count there...
It must be a subconscious thing. I must have felt left out of all the floods in Britain. It's the only explanation I have for why, when doing Like The Manual Said and cleaning the lint trap, I didn't put it back in firmly enough and I created my own flood all over the new kitchen floor.
People keep talking about the election results on IRC being imminent and these trouble-makers in Florida being slow, and I keep thinking, "I didn't realise we had anyone from Florida standing for the GNOME Foundation". It's so confusing.
I bet any Florida residents who claimed "Why vote? One vote can never
make a difference" are feeling a bit silly now.
Really strange thing. Alan has been getting up at very nearly reasonable hours until today. Like, before 10am. Consistently. For a month. I am at a complete loss.
Voting day. No, not those silly foreign elections. GNOME. Like a lot
of other people, I got my list down to thirteen people and then got
stuck. (You got eleven votes.) I didn't quite get to the stage of
sticking a pin in the list (well, it could do bad things to the monitor!)
but it was a close-run thing.
Tried Tescos site again: a newer Mozilla behaves with it a lot better. I suppose I should get the latest and then update my bug to say "okay, well, maybe I was wrong..". How embarrassing.
Was all set to get to bed by nine until friends we rarely see rang the doorbell. "We're at the pub! That one, there!" (pointing to the one over the road).. Well, ill or not, how could we say no? (Alan has decided he too has a cold and so it must be my fault. Needless to say, I disagree vehemently.
My printer will no longer talk to my machine. It worked with RH 6.x,
but I fear the combination of non-standard printer drivers (or filters,
or something) from a kind person who saw my previous woes, and this
silly LPRng have upset it.
Alan tried to poison me today. He was trying to be helpful, and found some
hot and sour soup for me because I had a cold. I got to the bottom before
we found the prawns which had sunk to the bottom in it. (I am allergic to
shellfish: or so we thought. I have not died yet, though, so either these
were fake prawns or I am not so allergic after all. Which is a bit of a
surprise after twelve years of avoiding them after an, um, unfortunate
Floods elsewhere. I love the town of York: my dad used to test his history tours for his students out on the family first, so I used to know it well. (Don't ask me hard questions: I've forgotten most of it now.) There is a hall from centuries back called the Merchant Adventurers' Hall which has great banners from all the mediaeval guilds hanging from beams in it. (School exercise: draw a banner. Ahem.) And I seem to remember that downstairs in it, there are marks carved into the walls to show where the waters reached in previous great floods. I am wondering whether they will have a new one for 2000.
Shipping forecast had gale warning for about half the different areas it covers. We have someone coming to pick up all the rubbish from our moving in, others moving out, wallpaper-stripping, and so on next week: I fear he'll have to collect half of it from the Mumbles or Port Talbot, because it's in the back yard and there is no way we can tie it down more than it is now.
The public fireworks displays are off and people are letting their
fireworks for the back garden off tonight instead of tomorrow. Whee!
Weather still very very wet. Forecasts are for the storm of the century
on the Sunday. This is unfortunate as Sunday is November the fifth,
which is the day when Britain celebrates the foiling of the
attempt to blow up the House of Lords whilst it contained Lords, Commons
and monarch. Well, we're suppose to celebrate the foiling, but it seems
quite common to celebrate the attempt. Since this involves fireworks
and bonfires, this is the wrong day for a storm.
Malcolm Tredinnick (who is the other half of the gnorpm-hacking combination along with Alan) worked out that we have closed over 900 gnorpm bugs. (They're all the same three or four bugs, really, but they get reported a lot.) Unfortunately, people with the old packages are still reporting them. Only 650 to go.
Caught up with lots of email and then stupidly transferred all
the remaining messages out of my spoolfile. I've done this so
often though, that I now have a special "transfer to a catch-the-accident"
default, so they have gone somewhere I can find them again. Talk
Someone pointed out I didn't -need- fortify with Netscape 4.75 because
it was no longer hobbled or something. Ahem. Oh well, we all make
mistakes/fail to read the notes from time to time. Anyway, it still
doesn't work with Tesco's page. Oddly enough, Tescos announced they
were going to be Linux for some things. Clearly not "testing their
webpages" though. There were no contact details on their website so
I filled in the feedback form and asked for contact details about
the right person to talk to. They have not responded.
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.)