The more accurate diary. Old stuff.

Warning: These are old.

May 1st
Took revenge for my wasted morning yesterday by causing Alan not to waste his morning and making him get up. Around 11am he was seen wandering the house with a dazed expression on his face and wondering plaintively "What time is breakfast?" since he had been up for hours.

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.)

April 30th
Up late. It's Alan's fault. His coach was due in at 1am and might be up to quarter of an hour early. It was, of course, half an hour late. I spent the intervening time at the bus stop playing with a mobile phone (I arrived late to this particular revolution), running out of WAP sites to read, and listening to strange metallic grinding and clanking noises and wondering whether someone down at the other end of the station was attempting to steal a building. So late to bed. (For me. Alan found it quite a normal time to think about sleep.)

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.

April 29th
Census day (night). Called myself Person One and shunted Alan down to Person Two. Pondered filling his in and decided it would only result in his not arriving in time to be on it.

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 :)

April 28th
Still no mail. Mysteriously, whilst I was out, Alan appeared on IRC and mail subsequently started arriving. Damn. I was getting quite into no interruptions.
April 27th
Fibres were supposed to be fixed yesterday evening. They weren't. By about 1pm, gave up and went to do constructive things (hah). Checked about eight hours later and it had all been back for seven hours. Good timing there. Except the email to our machines here. I can send it; I just can't receive it. Weird. Decided to Blame All on Alan and let him fix it.

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.

April 26th
Whoops. And down goes the local network at the university, due to a JCB (digger) meeting fibres just under the road. This has hit most of the university and the small business centre, so lots of people are shouting at NTL, who own the fibres. One of the boxes affected is the one that has the DNS and MX records for a lot of machines (linux.org.uk and all the machines in this house for a start), and Alan has still not moved the secondary records off a machine in the same network. The affected box is also our nameserver. This has all gone wrong before and I had a backup nameserver "just in case" until Alan, "showing me" how to set something up, saw that and deleted the entry because "you don't need that". (Never hire Alan as your sysadmin.) So. No mail, in either direction. No ssh'ing to linux.org.uk. (I forgot the number.) No finding half the web pages I want.

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.

April 25th
Alan wandered off on his travels today. Norway this time. It sounded like he was going to have a great deal of fun. He is due back in the middle of the night the census is taken. What timing.
April 24th
We (well, Alan) set the burglar alarm off by accident today. It's very loud. Ouch. My ears.
April 23rd
Books arrived. HTML/XHTML in a new edition to replace my old one. It's still obsessed with kumquats. Wondering how much work it would be to take all my pages and turn them from HTML 4.0 transitional into XHTML. I never understood all this DTD stuff until I started messing with DocBook, but it seems learning a bit of DocBook does wonders for your use of HTML. Except that I keep trying to write <para> instead of <p>. Having rearranged all my pages the hard way once, I am going to do it the other hard way this time, and have books ranging from bash to regular expressions to sed and awk to hand. Oh dear.

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.

Parents visited.

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.

April 22nd
Less beautiful day. Oh well.

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.

April 21st
Beautiful day. Poked around the new Government website which is apparently going to replace the open.gov.uk stuff and discovered that without cookies you get to see precisely one page: the one telling you to get cookies. I am not sure this is the way to ensure maximum access, especially given their list of "To view this site you will need.." requirements which I eventually found. (Java, javascript, and the latest IE or Netscape.)

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...

April 20th
Spent too long at the computer. Alan spent waaaay too long at the computer. Escaped for a meal. Alan has been called up for jury service yet again. Perhaps this time he'll be in the country for the relevant time period. Their random selection looks a bit dodgy: this is by no means the first time he's been called, and I never have.

Perhaps we should watch "Twelve Angry Men".

April 19th
The GUADEC notes have been up for a week or more now, and only today did someone tell me that I messed up the bgcolor attribute in two of them, resulting in black-on-black. Of course, one of them had to be the accessibility talk, didn't it? They all went through the validator and Bobby and neither of them mentioned it to me. (And yes, it has occurred to me that I should have set a fgcolor too :))

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.

April 18th
Wow. Show of Hands CDs arrived in the post less than 24 hours after ordering them.

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.

April 17th
Bought some cushions and rugs for the little guestroom-cum-escape-hole at the top of the house. They have a general theme of sheep, and Alan is feigning bemusement. I can't see the problem myself. I think they're cute.

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.

April 16th
Finally, "The Third Man" was on the television. It's set in post-war Vienna, and Alan likes Vienna, but has never seen this film. So he started watching and getting all excited. "We've been there. Oh, look. That's the big wheel. We've been there. Hey, isn't that...?" and so on, and paying no attention to the plot (which is a little involved). I think he was quite relieved when Justin came to visit ten minutes into the film. It gave him an excuse to lose the plot, and an excuse to mess with the video recorder and the computer. We shall pass hastily over the precise results of this exercise.
April 15th
Alan is catching up with sleep since GUADEC still. It would help if he came to bed before 4am.

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.

April 14th
Installed xwrits. Core-dumped it.

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.

April 13th
The missing chequebook turned up. In Alan's pocket. I feel vindicated.

April 12th
Wrote up a ton of Guadec stuff whilst waiting for someone else to write up even one talk I hadn't been to. Grr. Wrists hurt. Found xwrits and promptly forgot to install it.

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 :)

April 11th
Stole Alan's dongle (that sounds so rude. Caught up with stuff. Didn't get around to doing shopping and used this as an excuse to eat out. Ahem.

The day turned into Lost Chequebook Day, which was not fun. I swore Alan had it; he swore I had it last. Argh.

April 10th
Bought superglue. Didn't fix dongle. Waah. Need to wait for a new one now, or recompile kernel to deal with wireless. Only, um, that would require getting appropriate kernel onto it.

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.

April 9th
Back. Sniffle. Got taxi with more people on same flight as us, they got the exit row seats (grr :)), discovered summer, or at least spring, had broken out in Britain, and melted in the coach on the way back.

Usual collection of email and post awaiting.

April 8th
GUADEC Day 3. Waah! Where did it all go? Only one day left. This was User Day, and had many more people. One of the linux.com people tried to do an interview with me but I think I was incomprehensible; and someone else asked me for one, but we lost each other because we were all busy signing posters. This happened last year, too. We made a chain of people and passed the posters up the chain, with signatures getting more and more incoherent as more and more posters arrived.

Must fix laptop: I'm not typing all this in again.

April 7th
GUADEC Day 2. More fun, all on laptop. Write-up will get off it at some stage. Ximian party in evening. Mucho fun. Radek Doulik gave my sheep a name: Ovecka, which I have misspelt because I can't find the entity for "c with an upsidedown circumflex on it from ISO-8859-2" It probably means something very rude with the wrong letter in it, but he assures he it means nothing more than "sheep" in Czech.
April 6th
GUADEC Day 1. Lots and lots happened. Took lots of notes on the laptop before discovering I had destroyed the dongle on the laptop and now I had no way to get anything off it. The write-up is mostly done; but it's stuck there for now. Alan was permanently ensconced plotting with Jim Gettys and went to one talk: the keynote. Last year, Miguel introduced everyone in the room. This year there were three times as many, and we had to do it ourselves. Federico introduced himself as "I'm Federico. I reject patches" and George as "I'm George and I write easter eggs".

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?).

April 5th
Off to Heathrow at silly o'clock, boggling as Alan IRC'd from his mobile phone. He only does it to annoy me. Phrases like "/join" involve hitting the same key about fifteen times to get the / even before he gets to #foo.

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.

April 4th
Packed. Just to prove a point to Alan, who thinks I take too much, I got everything into the overnight bag and a cuddly sheep. Urm. This is a rucksack which came courtesy of the Sheep Shop (which has a real name, but everyone here calls it the Sheep Shop) because I thought it was cute and just the right size for a laptop and bits.
April 3rd
Got the story on Alan's trip away. He has acquired me no books, and the Baileys he bought at the airport disappeared into various kernel hackers at the kernel summit. Someone gave him a small Scooby-Doo toy. I made it talk. He didn't know it could do that. Now he is making it talk at me all the time. I preferred it when he didn't know. He claimed he meant to bring the giant cardboard one home too (it's three foot tall) but he forgot. I am so sorry to hear this.

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.

April 2nd
Okay, the month improved. Messing around tidying up before Alan came back (due tomorrow, I thought, after some rather cryptic conversations mediated by friends at the kernel summit who were IRCing between the talks).

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.

April 1st
Considered diary entry about how I had rearranged the computer room and although the computers were now lined up in order of colour and size the net access went all funny, but decided it wasn't that funny. And someone might believe it. Various other April Fools ranged from not too bad (NASA's pic of the day about astronauts playing Quidditch) to awful (all the rest).

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.

March 31st
Had a fit of docbook. Recovered, straightened out the room currently being plastered somewhat, cleared a path through the hall's pile of "things Alan thinks we need but hasn't found a home for yet", found a box of games and puzzles that was as yet not yet unpacked from moving, unpacked them, put them away, managed not to play quite all of them. Bedroom tidy. Upstairs now done except for painting. Downstairs getting there. Except for painting, plastering, and reconstructing the furniture. And the funny smell. I hope it's not the cellar. I'm not going down there. Alan can do that when he gets back.

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.)