Warning: These are old.
Gorgeous day outside when we went shopping for lunch ingredients. Returned to baking hot rooms. I thought it was a bank holiday, being May Day and Beltane and International Workers' Day and all, but apparently that's next week. Um. Browsed various parts of the web watching the protests in London and noted a variety of approaches to reporting it (and also that we had the better weather for once).
The BBC was borrowing its Jam Cams (traffic-jam web-cams, and that's a monstrously large page to load) for the purposes of riot-spotting. All they got was lots of shots of police vans lined up in ranks. And a great quote from one of the police about "It's been quiet so far, but it will be worse later on because the anarchists don't get up very early in the mornings". The Guardian was publicising a memo allegedly passed round the BBC telling the news crews to find the violent bits. (It was also publishing its own lists of London webcams.) IndyMedia UK was reporting stuff from the Guardian's up-to-the-minute guide, whilst the Guardian was reporting stuff from IndyMedia's up-to-the-minute guide. Apparently Radio 4 reported that we had a demo in Swansea, but all I heard about was that a friend of a friend was going to be playing Monopoly in Castle Square. We appear singularly lacking in destroyed shop-fronts, certainly.
Watched the telly for the first time in an age. It had the problem of attempting to create a coherent sequence out of random unrelated events, which the web coverage didn't even try to do. Sky News lived down to its usual standard: the classic was the report made to camera about how everything was stalled and the police were seeming content to do nothing for a while; as in the background rows of police on horses appeared and slowly started to advance down the street. The studio reporter made increasingly agitated requests for the reporter on the street to turn around but he continued his piece about how nothing was happening as the crowd moved back and the police continued forward right until the moment the police horses reached him. Great stuff.
Doubtless any US readers I have will be appalled by my blithe references to watching half of this on CCTV and webcams, but I think David Brin got it right in The Transparent Society: the things are here, and won't go away. They will be used anyway by some groups. (I recall that the police were filming stuff back in 1986 when I first started going out on demos and so on.) It won't change. So the things to look for now are to know what other people know about you (in the UK you have the right to a copy for yourself of CCTV footage which involves you, as it falls under the Data Protection Act -- and I wish this law had been in force at the time I had my bag snatched under the eye of a camera in a shopping centre and the security guard refused to entertain the suggestion that he should go and look at the footage to get a description); and to make sure it works both ways. A society where one group has the information on another group seems to me to be a bad thing. A society where everyone has equal rights to information seems the best bet right now. And I do look forward to everyone in London yesterday requesting a copy of their data :) </ill-informed-socio-political-ramble>
Alan again played the "Yes, I'll come shopping in a minute" game, but this time it took him only half an hour to remember. We even remembered to post the census form. (More data. Dear me.)
Alan spent the day catching up and gloating about certain RFC implementations, burbling about the subtleties of penguin feeding, and telling me what a wonderful place Bergen is. ("They have vending machines for umbrellas! The weather is just like Wales only no wind!") This is not the way to endear yourself to someone who wanted to go :) Must find out about that folk festival there.
On that note, major problems with scheduling here. The Canadian band Great Big Sea are playing in Europe this spring and summer, both as support to Runrig and at the Trowbridge Village Pump Festival (lynx users need the sane link there). A week after Trowbridge comes the Cambridge Folk Festival, and that gives me a chance to see two bands that I missed due to Linux-related events: Show of Hands (played big gig whilst I was at Guadec) and the Levellers (played near here in the run-up to Gnome 1.4 release, and I didn't get around to booking in time). But OLS is on around those dates, and very well worth going to. But if I go to OLS I miss more bands, and I am fed up of missing gigs. (Missed the Oysterband because it coincided with two other events on the same date, neither of which I even got to. Typically, they are of course playing in Canada around the dates of OLS, just to confuse the issue further.)
But of course, if I book for those festivals, there's always the chance foot and mouth might cancel them and I'll be too late to book for OLS (and the Oysterband). Argh!
Alan, of course, doesn't want to go to any more shows for a while, so that doesn't help. I am hoping this doesn't mean "or bands".
Tescos broke their website with my aging "I keep it for Tescos" Mozilla nightly again (although they gave me a cheap laugh with their advert about delivery dates for foot and mouth. Yes, that's pretty much literal. Um) I could upgrade Mozilla, or I could just wait for Tescos to do their weekly website alterations and do it all then. They're a scream: they really do randomly rearrange stuff and sometimes it works, sometimes it works with some encouragement, once it worked after Alan downloaded the entire page and edited the size of the windows -- and put a penguin on it for good measure, and every so often it just sulks at me and I sulk back (I'm better at it though, because I have had more practice). With all this rearranging, some consultant is onto a good thing there, I'm convinced of it. Decided to wait for them to un-break it.
This of course meant going shopping in the meantime. Alan agreed to come and help carry the heavy stuff at about half past five. He then forgot, despite about three forays into the computer room. ("Are you ready yet?" "Yes, just need to finish this..") At about nine, he realised he was in disgrace.
Alan did go through his accumulated post, though, and discovered he'd bought more on E-bay than he meant (he claims. How can you not mean to bid?) Finally we shall be able to watch the Third Man. And we have to dig out the Amiga and the missing Amiga mouse so I can play Bubble Bobble. Sent off a bunch of cheques and forgot to send off the census form.
Had a good laugh at Glyn's no TV week account. I don't think we've had the television on to watch for that long and I hadn't really noticed. (We've had it on for Alan to mess about with strange computer programs and investigate the new teletext he discovered, but to sit down and watch something? Nope..)
Alan rang on his arrival at the airport. He has had a fantastic time, apparently, and I am jealous. He fed a penguin, went wandering Norway, was involved in a (successful!) attempt to implement (my gods) RFC 1149 (one of the April Fools RFCs: "Standard for the transmission of IP datagrams on Avian Carriers"), and ended up in the same hotel as Fairport Convention (whose webmasters need educating: don't bother following that link if you're using Lynx, sorry.)
I am jealous :)
Bright sun all day. Left the attic room (little room with slanting walls and lots of comfy cushions with three bookcases to hand. Yummy) window open. Returned after an hour to discover it had been raining hard whilst I wasn't looking. How do I know this? Because I now have a pile of soaked cushions underneath the window.
My irc sessions are still going, though, so not all is lost.
But it is sunny. And bright. And I hadn't been to the bookshop for at least three days. So off I went, to buy books and Welshcakes and sit in the sun and read in Castle Square.
However, it's not going to happen today. I have a cold. I hate having colds; they're so boring. The only advantage is that I can eat hot and sour soup and not explode half-way through.
Alan is still obsessed with his latest project. He has a computer attached to the television, and is attempting to use the computer as a video recorder. Last night, after a week of false starts, he successfully recorded a film onto the computer. A mere eight gigs' worth of file. And we can now watch it repeatedly. Well, he can. I'm not touching it. The good thing about this is that I have some very old videotapes which I love to death. I have splurged on the DVDs for one series (Edge of Darkness), but it's impossible to get hold of newer copies of Star Cops (a BBC series from the eighties which I loved). So whilst the tapes slowly die, we can get Star Cops onto the computer so I don't lose it completely. I am reasonably sure this is currently legal. I have no intention of selling, renting, displaying, or any of that. I just want to watch Star Cops, my videotapes are dying, and new ones don't seem to be available.
There is one problem, however. The massive files Alan's new toy generates need converting into a different format. It takes six hours to convert one programme at the moment. So the nine Star Cops episodes will probably take weeks.
Finally convinced Alan to go through his pile of coins and notes which he has been dumping on a shelf in the bedroom as he returns from trips abroad. It took him about an hour, but we have now established that we have enough money in various currencies to buy... well, not much. An ice-cream, perhaps. Money now sorted and put away.
Foot and mouth confirmed a few miles away.
Got bored with computers. Spring is here, the sun is shining, the sky is blue with fluffy clouds, all's right with the world. Wandered into town. Accidentally wandered into bookshop, Alan in tow. Big mistake. Had to leave after a mere half an hour. I can't imagine why, but he was bored. Sniff.
Spent afternoon lying under skylight alternately reading about the history of the Renaissance and staring at the sky. Decadance, decadence...
Perhaps we should watch "Twelve Angry Men".
Have barely seen Alan except for a "we should have something to eat" moment at about 10pm and a few forays into the computer room. Alas, he has spilled screws all over the floor and walking through in the semi-dark in bare feet is painful.
Weather has turned non-rainy. When I lie under the skylight in the attic room (the one with all the sheepy things), I can see nothing but blue sky and fluffy clouds.
Alan noticed the weather too. I'm not sure how because he was up extremely late last night and consequently missed the morning.
Alan bought a ton more Show Of Hands CDs.
At the end of this splurge on completely unnecessary items, we recalled at a critical cooking moment that yet again we'd failed to buy some baking trays (all but one were lost when we moved house). Bother.
Realised that nothing on the laptop gets backed up. Spent ages removing cruft and putting the rest somewhere the backups would spot it. Wrote up the last of the GUADEC talks I went to, (how to internationalise your application and RMS's keynote), stuffed them on the list, and wondered when anyone was going to write up any of the rest.
Alan is playing with computers and the television again now. Oh dear. There is now a long wire waiting to trip me up when I go through two doors in the house, and the benefit to me is...? Well, apparently Alan will be able to capture stuff off the video onto his computer. Not having a TV card, I am missing out on this excitement. However shall I cope?
Wandered down past Joe's Ice Cream Parlour (which does not have a web page, but Joe's and Sidoli's vie for the "best Welsh ice-cream company") where Alan decided he didn't want ice-cream in the afternoon. Vastly entertained later in the night when Alan discovered there was no more ice-cream left in the freezer and sulked.
Put the GUADEC writeup up with lots of links to lots of really really bad summaries of talks. I'm sorry they're rubbish, but none of the hackers seem to be summarising them so this is the best you get.
Rugby shortly. Woo.
7pm. Poo. Swansea lost.
Today was Network Rearrangement Day at home. We had ended up with two networks when they should all be on one. Much messing about with IP addresses: Alan changed the stuff on the RH boxes and then looked at the Debian one and told me it was my problem.
It was indeed a problem, but it seems to work now. I must heartily disrecommend the "Unleashing the Power of Debian GNU/Linux 2.1" book from SAMSs. Okay, so expecting it to be accurate for what I think is Debian 2.2 (it says it's woody so I assume that's 2.2) would not be fair, but I think it's fair to expect a 1100-page book to have more than seven pages on package management and something, somewhere, that explains which scripts call which other scripts. If you find the one at the end of the chain and alter that, the change goes away on boot. If you start at the right bit, it all works wonderfully. It's just finding the right bit :)
I want a "Debian for people used to RH" and "RH for people used to SuSE" and so on series of books. Without any mention of dummies or idiots in the title.
Actually had an evening which involved tea at a civilised hour and watching something on the television (a DVD, but hey) together. We should do this again sometime :)
The day turned into Lost Chequebook Day, which was not fun. I swore Alan had it; he swore I had it last. Argh.
People are posting and collecting pictures from GUADEC already.
Nice man from the census people gave us a form which we have to keep and then fill in at the end of the month. I can't believe he seriously expects me to keep a form for a month without losing it. Oh well. Wanted to fill it in now but Alan says that would be cheating.
Usual collection of email and post awaiting.
Must fix laptop: I'm not typing all this in again.
Highlights: meeting more people; Calum's testing talk which revealed that no-one knew what the icons on the desktop, but they thought they were very pretty; and the trains (I do like public transport. Why can't we have this? Have I said this before?).
Bought much Red Bull in lieu of Jolt (no-one seems to sell that here any more) and a sandwich. Hung around the airport, got on the plane, managed to get a veggie meal ordered (I'm not that veggie, I just can't eat shellfish; and to my shock some airlines include prawn in their normal meals), and met someone also going to GUADEC on the same plane. Due to foot and mount, had to throw my sandwich away as we came into Denmark, but no-one told me I had to dispose of the cuddly sheep, thankfully.
Found the Cab-Inn, and realised why it's called that. Everything in the tiny rooms is bolted to the walls and folded away as if we're about to set sail. Someone else compared it to the rooms in the Fifth Element. Also found about thirty hackers milling about in the lobby, two (at least) organisers trying to organise, and so on. Lots of renewing auld acquaintance, "Oh! -You're- so-and-so!", and "When's otherperson getting here?". Went upstairs to collect Alan for outing around the town, fell asleep. Oops. Woke up in time for food-questing, and sallied off to find Danish food, were directed by Alan's phone (!) to a French restaurant that didn't exist, bumped into random hackers on the street, were pointed at a Thai place, and found a Spanish one instead. Spent hours chatting back at hotel.
He was very rude about some of the food.
Bought tickets for getting to airport for GUADEC. Horrors. Half of Wales is descending on the same airport in order to get to the rugby (Italy-Wales) at the weekend. So not only shall we miss that, we get to share a coach with fifty supporters eagerly anticipating it. Wah. Pondered getting the train because of the timing of the coach departure (ugh) but it's £60 for two coach returns and £110 for one return on the train. So perhaps not then.
Alan claims to have met a kernel hacker who still prefers ed for editing. I boggled, but eventually occurred to me that presumably it or something similar was what was originally used in the seventies for Unix anyway.
He has been up til 3am most night in California and now I have to wake him up at about 4am on Thursday. This is going to take some thought.
Alan has still not entirely explained the great Amazon-raiding incident. He and a mob of people were alerted to some ridiculously cheap RAM on Amazon, but apparently orders from about twenty people for the same article alerted them in turn to the fact they had made a mistake. Oh well, he got a gift voucher as consolation for "we're not selling you that for that price!". I have plans for that voucher already. I did actually come to regret the lack of all that RAM, because we could probably have made tons of oggs very fast. The CD-wandering around this house is getting ridiculous. "My CD! Give it back!" "Gerroff, I'm listening to it." So gigantic oggification may take place, and we may have to investigate GramoFile and get all those old Wombles LPs onto something more useful. And then we can listen without the "Where has it gone now?" searches. (This is mostly Alan atm, as I abstracted several CDs from his room to this one in his absence.)
Of course, this is one of those plans which will probably take a year to come to fruition. It would be useful, but it will be boring to implement. So it's not on Alan's list of urgent stuff. ("Pointless but fun" seems to summarise that.) And the CD burner is in his room. Boo hiss. I meet more and more comments that this diary has got more technical, but I really have no clue how to use the CD burner, and if I try to, I'll probably wire it up to the telephone and burn everything backwards so that I get back-masked messages and inadvertantly summon Cthulhu or something whilst trying to ring my sister. And she might not like that.
Discovered Alan's overnight bag crammed full of clothes. Must teach him how to use washing machine.
Thud. Front door bangs, I jump, and in walks Alan, a day before I expected him. Whee. He has not yet explained himself over the great RAM accumulation incident, but since he arrived just in time to remove a large spider from the shower, he is forgiven.
Other than that, not a diary-worthy day. Dunno what Alan's doing, did nothing of note except some very stupid things (cringe, including leaning on ^D and deleting the window I was editing this in) and I hope the rest of the month improves.
I think it may be the computer room tomorrow.
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.)