The more accurate diary. Old stuff.

Warning: These are old.

June 1st
The week of Getting Things Done is turning into a month. Because the job today involved taking over half of the kitchen, which is currently being painted, we asked the painter to come in the afternoon only.

This morning, the gas people rang up. No parts in stock. How about next Tuesday?. (Which is when the builder arrives.)

I feel sorely put upon. We are both at home for most of the time (except that Alan has jury service coming up) and it's causing us nightmares. If one of us were taking time off work, we'd be running out of dental appointments, funerals, and car breakdowns to explain these absences.

Later, around 4pm, I realise that "come when gasman finished" probably translated into Monday. No painting today. Oh well.

May 31st
So the gasman who couldn't come last week arrived today to do things to the central heating. Whilst we don't need it, in case it all goes wrong. That timing proved to be one of our better decisions, given the results.

The painter was also here, doing painter things. The gasman needed access to every radiator in the house, which meant trying to move my great big desk without killing all the computers. Then both the gasman and the painter went out for lunch; the gasman was to return to do the second job of the day (there's another day of this, too...), which involved an overflow pipe from the boiler and stopping it pointing towards the kitchen surfaces and instead pointing outside through a hole in the wall. If it is ever used, the water will be coming out of this pipe at a very high pressure and could potentially be very hot indeed. It had never happened yet (but read on..) but it has nonetheless seemed a good idea to redirect it just in case.

Whilst they were out for lunch, Alan was working, and I was right at the top of the house, the pressure in the system built up and all the water jetted out through the as-yet-unmoved pipe. Argh! Straight down vertically, shaking the hose which was draining to the outside drain off, and landing all over my microwave at some ridiculous pressure so that it was bouncing straight back and all over the kitchen (which is the room being painted, wouldn't you just know?)

Most luckily for us, the returning painter spotted this through the window, and came in and managed re-attach the hose to the pipe and to divert a lot of the water; at the cost of his shirt which had to be hung out to dry whilst we started mopping up and wondering where the gasman was. Sacrificed one of the huge bath towels to mop up the mess whilst trying to find out where in the kitchen was not soaked. Water was dripping off the most unlikely places.

Sphere was on television recently. There's several scenes in it of intense claustrophobia in a half-lit submarine station, with water trickling down from the ceilings after floods and jets of water, just waiting for the next assault on their sanity.

I don't need to have discovered an alien spaceship in the vicinity to know exactly how the characters felt at that stage.

We stood outside in the dry admiring our new water feature. Then it started to rain, at which stage I just started to giggle helplessly. Clearly it was Getting Wet day.

So then everything stopped until we had had the gas people's electrical safety tester round to see whether we could salvage the microwave. Simultaneous with his departure came the arrival of the builder to see when he can start taking the front of the house off. (Next Tuesday, in theory, and what fun that will be.)

Amidst all this chaos, sorted a few bugs out. And, oh yes, despite the apparent survival of the microwave, this evening we ate out.

May 30th
After morning attempting to get through to council again, gave up. Sent nice registered letter instead. The Data Protection Act is so useful.

Alan has a new toy: a scooter (the sort you stand on and push) with Red Hat stuff on it. First thing he crashed into was the wine-rack. It has been banished to the machine room now.

May 29th
This is classic. It rained every day of the long weekend. Now it's no longer the bank holiday, it's sunny.

Spent the day attempting to get through to the council on the phone after they sent us a reminder for something we don't think we owe. Yawn. Didn't get anywhere, but chased down an engineer for one thing and organised more painting stuff.

It has only taken me about two years to notice that bugzilla's query page has a section where you can match patterns via regular expressions. Perhaps the sed and awk book is paying off: managed to pull out all the bugs matching a particular program in one query. Whee. Regular expressions scare me, but they turn out to be so useful.

May 28th
Well, I know I got up late today. I can't imagine when he surfaced.

Nostalgia day. Found a file on one of the machines I rarely use. mono-unix-file-old. mono was -- and still is -- a bulletin board based at City. It's been around a long time. And you wrote 'edits' in text files and scrolled through them. You could also mail yourself the files (that was added later) and at some stage, apparently I did that with the Unix Discussion file. Had a look, and began engrossed. The discussion began in 1991 and continued until 1999.

Reading it, I find that in 1991, the topics of discussion were the NeXT Workstation (with an education discount that bright the price down to five grand) the necessity of a floating-point unit, the amazing new HP Apollos, and the rumour of a new SunOS which might have a different name. There is also discussion from the same period of the chances of JANET (the UK academic network) finally giving in and allowing IP to run over their network, the price of Minix, the Sony laptop Unix machine (no, I have no idea what) and the bloat of kernels with the horribly massive SVR4 kernel weighing in at five megs. Which leads me on to the edit that made me laugh: a hacker not a million miles from here commenting (in December 1991):

Sys5.2 was the last _real_ unix with a sensible size - 160K on galaxy, and my home machine running sys3 has a 100K kernel and all the unix utils in 5Mb of disk space (15Mb free 8-)) - and it runs rogue etc happily for 2 or 3 people in 1Mb of ram

Bet you can't guess the author of that :)

(Galaxy was a Swansea comp soc machine, and the "home machine" was something called a Cifer. I spent hours playing rogue on it.)

Inspired by this, connected to mono and discovered a waiting message telling me happy birthday: my account was nine years old. (And I recall a crash which wiped all the user accounts too, so there's an extra few months there, too.) Had a look for the latest incarnation of this file, but alas, it was gone, replaced by people bickering over Linux distros.

May 27th
Apparently we missed the Barbarians playing (and slaughtering) Scotland in the rugby, but we caught the Barbarians playing England. What a grumpy game. Still, Baa-baas won (woo).

The modem which carries all the email died again. Alan had so much email to get through that he didn't even notice. I surprised him by remembering how to telnet to port 25 of machines that host tons of mailing lists I'm on and say Oy, send all my mail now!. I surprised myself too, but I'm not telling him that.

Visit from friends with small child. This household is not exactly safe territory for small children other than Alan (wires, paint-thinner, bits of wood, hatchet just lying about in the hall, multiple piles of things we really should unpack (from the move, yes. Groan) and so on, but we found a vaguely safe room and discovered all you need to keep small children occupied: two cardboard boxes and one squeaky penguin.

May 26th
It's a Bank Holiday weekend. As is traditional on British bank holidays, the weather changed (yay). Started raining about 3am and didn't stop for a while.

Still hunting Star Cops tapes before Alan loses all enthusiasm for them. Discovered that the only likely person to have borrowed them (sister) did not have them. Waah. But wait, she knows who did borrow them. Whee. Since a single tape (and there are three) goes for about 20 on ebay, this is a good thing.

Apparently parcelforce think it's a clever idea to leave parcels Alan and I post to people in their unlocked sheds if the recipient isn't in to collect them. I don't know who was more unimpressed: us or recipient.

Discovered American version of Scrapheap being shown. They still have the silly animations, but alas, everyone seems terribly focused on winning the thing.

May 25th
Still too hot for little hobbits, sigh. Bank holiday weekend is approaching though, so I suspect it will stop being hot soon.

Lunch with the ex-Equiinet/Dica/whatever they were this week people. Two palm-pilots, multiple mobile phones, no laptops, and one baby, which proved fascinated by beards, to Alan's alarm. Since Ieuan (the baby) had only met people with beards and glasses, Alan (beard, no glasses) and I (glasses, no beard) were proposed as experimental material. Ho-hum.

I am not sure Mimmo (the chef) likes me any more. I managed to order something with ingredients I don't like as the flavouring, by simply not reading the menu properly. He was most upset. Can I make you something else? No? Are you sure? You should have said, I would have made it without that ingredient for you..

After all the fun with mailservers, MX records, nameservers, and so on, I have been trying to understand networking better. I have acquired a Networking Linux book, a Think Unix book, and now Dick has lent me volume 1 of the Stevens book about TCP/IP, since Alan only has volume 2, which is way too hard for me, and his explanations only bridge half the gap. Although they did include the explanation of why no-one can ever say something is 100% RFC-1122 compliant. (Something to do with tall buildings. Grep for it.)

I can see a series of book reviews coming on...

May 24th
Today was supposed to include a man from the gas board, but they have sabotaged our week of stuff happening to the house by ringing up to say Can't come today. And yesterday's non-shower still hasn't shown. Boo hiss.

Alan stole my laptop and tested the wireless card in it. I got it back, luckily.

And the all-new exciting no longer a 486 mailserver crashed. I suspect Alan of continuing to run test kernels on it. Grr.

May 23rd
Day three of Getting Stuff Done suggests we're losing it a bit. People who are supposed to be giving us estimates are not ringing back. Argh.

However, Alan is having great fun regardless. He's playing with wireless cards, wireless base stations, laptops and the other machines. At least five times today he's put the base station in a different position and attempted to make it to the nearest pub without the signal cutting out. There are lots of pubs nearby. The nearest is about twenty metres away, and he can get to within five metres of the outdoor tables before the signal cuts out. The one that does veggie burgers I like is a little further but possibly just about within line of sigh. I am finding these repeated forays vastly entertaining. They soon will come to an end though: I gather an aerial or something is on order.

May 22nd
Doubtless anyone living in more tropical climes will laugh, but it is still too hot for my taste here. (A whole 20° or so according to the local BBC forecast. Melt, droop, wilt..)

I couldn't open the windows in my room (no change there) and Alan couldn't open the windows in his (because the painters were on ladders right outside).

Day two of a busy week finished.

Sun released Gnome 1.4 for Solaris. They have lots of docs, but I was taken aback to see multiple references in the technical FAQ to the Gnome FAQ, because I put a lot of it together, and I am not technical at all. In fact, I collapsed into giggles at the thought. I think I shall link back to it.

May 21st
Today is Flanders and Swann week, I think. And this is merely day one of it. The painters are still painting. In addition, there are carpenters making our banisters safe and putting the skirting boards back in the room that got damp-proofed and plastered.
May 20th
Normality was restored as Alan lay abed as I got things done. Rambled out to sit outside the pub down the road and eat, then returned for the rugby on the television. Wales versus the Barbarians ("Baa-baas"). Storming game, lots of fun, lots of tries, lots of fancy passing, and then Wales had a fit of playing to win rather than playing for the sake of it right at the end: on two points ahead, they had a penalty which gave them a safe three points, or a chance at a try which might give them five (and then two from a conversion). They went for the safe points (boo, tries are much more fun to watch) so were then five ahead, which is not a lot when people are scoring tries all over the place. With minutes to go, the Barbarians promptly got a try, bringing them level, and everything hung on their conversion attempt, which was the last kick of the game. They made it. Wow.

Alan is all ready to play with my Star Cops tapes. There's one problem. We can't find them. Argh!

May 19th
Day started well. Alan answered the doorbell whilst I lay in bed. Luxury. To our varied delight, the post was both Alan's parcel (whatever was in it. Some piece of wire, to the untutored eye) and my goodies: more books and some music.

Then it deteriorated. First I fell asleep again. Then, after I had staggered forth in quest of caffeine and was attempting to wake up properly, the phone rang.

Not the normal phone. Alan gave me a mobile phone as a present, whose use other than WAP I have successfully failed to understand for some months. I haven't given many people the number because I can't remember it. So I was a bit surprised when it started ringing. I was even more surprised when it turned out to be a data call and I was again the lucky recipient of a fax machine's desire to talk.

Argh! A year or so ago, I was driven nearly mad by a fax machine which would not stop ringing up. Whenever BT monitored the line, it would stop ringing, but that was the only way I found to stop it. In normal circumstances, it would ring, then ring again, and then ring every five minutes. If I left the phone off the hook, the phone would bleep at me and tell me I had left the phone off the hook. It was madness, and happened at any time from 0830 to eleven at night.

You may imagine my delight at the prospect of such events returning. Whilst Alan tried to find out how to bar numbers, I sent a plaintive I am not a fax SMS reply with his SMS sending program (which borrows Lycos' gateway) and it ceased. Hoorah. One of Alan's toys has turned out to be useful. I am shocked.

Then a burglar alarm across the street went off and wouldn't stop. A bored policeman stood outside. Presumably he was waiting for the keyholder to show up. I retreated to the back of the house to escape the noise, only to discover the smell of paint.

I felt plagued by imps of electronic perversity.

On the bright side, the piece of wire Alan got in the post is very important: it will play some part in rescuing my Star Cops tapes. Apparently when Alan was hunting the web for software for rescuing videos, one of the pages he came across also mentioned Star Cops as one of the tapes that were on the must be rescued list. So I'm apparently not the only one :)

May 18th
Lovely day. Painters back. Alan up early. This confused both of us. He mooched around the house for most of the morning before announcing he was off for a walk. I was abandoned to the joys of waiting for the postman. Just in case Alan should happen to receive a parcel. Hmm.

He did in fact receive a parcel, which had the wrong name, the wrong company, and the wrong address on it. Luckily, the local parcel deliverer has become adept at working these things out and brought it to us in triumph after only one false start. It was not the parcel he expected, but never mind.

More house happenings. It's all beginning to seem rather like the Flanders and Swann song, "The Gasman", in which a succession of different workers arrive to do things, necessitating the recruitment of yet more. Now we have no more holes where the gas fires went. Alan was eventually dissuaded from attempting to run ethernet down the chimney flues on discovering that none of them connect up; and we had those holes and the holes from the damp-proofing plastered up. Now we need the skirting boards putting back on. Unfortunately, some of them disintegrated into sodden pulp when we removed them. I also have one gas fire to dispose of, and our local council seems somewhat resistant to the idea of actually collecting anything you can't fit in a bin bag.

May 17th
Rain. No painters. Alan back to work on his web-browser. He seems to have abandoned the video-project, the oggification project and all until more bits arrive. I should have known he'd use these, which benefit me (allegedly) as an excuse for more hardware.
May 16th
How is it that when Alan is away I get up way earlier? I have my suspicions about the alarm clock again. More painting on the back of the house. Ordered lots of things off the net whilst Alan was away. Then the nameserver vanished for a bit. It came back, but my email didn't. Tragedy.

Alan got back early because the second train was late. (Don't ask me.) He's never quite got the hang of the south-east of England. Apparently there's no brown sauce in the pub at meals. (This is a major problem, yes.)

The weather has been warm and dry all week. Naturally, now that the house is getting painted, it turned to rain.

Eazel shut its doors :(

May 15th
Painters are painting the outside of the house and the bits we can't reach (and incidentally removing all the spare wires and aerials that turn out to be about twenty years old and attached to nothing), and the plasterer has finished filling up the holes on the walls inside. We are now up to the Choosing of the Colours. I have an unfair advantage here: Alan is briefly away again. Just as we need to tell them the answers.

It's a shame this is only the back of the house. I am still enamoured of a pale lilac house with multicoloured bubbles drawn all over the front. But alas, they are not doing that bit. Sniff.

Apparently Alan is evilly forking the kernel or something. Again. Informed him of this when he rang to announce he'd arrived in Guildford. He laughed.

May 14th
If it's not one thing, it's another. For some months a year or so ago, I was being plagued by phone calls which were for a fax machine. I don't know whether it was the discussions with BT or the house move that did it, but that hasn't happened for a while now. (I cringe as I write those words. It's bound to now.) However, since we moved, my half of the phone has been playing up. It's one of those arrangements where there is a main phone set (in Alan's room) and then a second one (downstairs). And the one downstairs has been running out of battery (I assumed) and beeping at me ten minutes into calls for months. And months. And months. Ever since we moved. I have told Alan about this repeatedly, but to no avail. I thought it needed new batteries. This is simple, but it's not interesting. Alan could think of several alternative explanations and wanted to explore those before doing something as mundrane as changing the batteries.

So the last time he was away, I switched the handsets.

He got a long phone call today. I can only presume it beeped at him. Because he has changed the batteries already.

May 13th
Still hot. Amazing. Justin gave us a lift to the supermarket, and it rained. How typical. The rain did not cool the weather down, though. I am bored of this weather already. (It's not that hot by the standards of people elsewhere in the world: I think the BBC and papers were reporting about 23° for parts of the country, which is what I consider about right for August.)

As I was going to bed, Alan came to find me. He had an Amiga emulator running -- and Bubble Bobble. So I bubble-bobbled for a bit and then burbled about bubble-bobbling, and then bumbled off to bed.

May 12th
More heat. Wandered into town to collect my bag from the restaurant. At last, my hairbrush!

Strolled around the town. Counted:

The skateboarders who attempt to take over Castle Square were very fed up with the man with the shoe on his nose. He'd gathered a very large circle around him of kids sitting on the ground watching in awe (or boredom, who can tell?) and they couldn't zoom around any more.

In the afternoon, finally got around to reading the book on Swansea's other world. Like most people watching, listening to, or reading something about a place they know, I kept muttering, Nono, that's been demolished and Wait, if he's heading for St Helen's Road, why did he turn left and end up by Marks and Spencer?. It was okay, but it didn't grab me. One nice twist in it, though.

Alan is very happy with his web browser. So happy that he keeps telling me about all these new features it's acquiring. Joy.

May 11th
More Alan-busy-ness. I did drag him out at lunchtime, and we wandered around in the sun before I got too hot and decided it was far too far to walk for an ice-cream. Ahem.
May 10th
Eventually gave in and called the nice man to come and check the drains over the source of mysterious smell. He arrived just after lightning, the machine which receives all the email here, let the magic smoke out. Alan took off the top and discovered it had been steadily overheating and burning up and chewing away at its own insides for some time. Alas, poor lightning. It was a 486 with 8megs, and it coped admirably with the ill-treatment it has received for years.

It emerges the replacement machine was already in existence: I thought it was the one currently attached to the television and that Alan would have to postpone and rearrange his video-recording games for a while; but no. That's staying put. Waah. He has stopped playing with that anyway, because he discovered that the satellite telly we subscribe to comes with games. He particularly likes mines, because it features a chicken pecking at squares. If it finds a mine, it blows up. I think this is horrid.

The drains man arrived, and so I went out to watch whilst Alan hid in the computer room with the doors and windows firmly closed. Coward.

Went out for a meal later. It's a good job they're a friendly place. Managed to leave my bag behind. Whoops.

It could have been worse, however. No haldhelds, no laptops, and no attempts to IRC on the mobile phone. Yes, it could definitely have been worse.

May 9th
There's a strange smell in the house. I hope this is not something that has arrived because it is warm weather. It's only just spring. Alan thinks it's most prominent in the machine room, which is not good. We are both thinking about machine rooms, cables, heat, and our rodent visitor on new year's eve, which subsequently vanished.

The local end of the network is amazingly flaky these days. I hope this is not something that's going to continue through summer, too.

Alan is very busy and I saw him for half an hour at lunch (for me; breakfast for him) and then another half an hour at tea. Aggravatingly, we began to watch an old film on the telly whilst we ate. He disappeared "to get second helpings" and he didn't come back. I later found him -- where else? Staring at his computer screen.

May 8th
Alan's excursions into mornings have ceased, but alas, my alarm clock is not waking me. Must find out what he's done to it.

More bugzilla sorting. This is slow work.

Alan eventually emerged to ask when tea was occurring. Unfortunately, this time he didn't start cooking out of sheer hunger. Started to watch films whilst eating dinner. Alan wandered off to get seconds, and... vanished :) Discovered him some hours later sitting at his computer as if he'd never been away from it.

May 7th
Bank holiday in the UK. Which confuses me. What a silly day to have it on. If it's a May bank holiday, it should be on the first. (And then we have a second one later.)

Several shops open, so I made more friends at the bookshop. This time, I don't know the name, the author, or the publisher. But it's about Swansea and some parallel world or secret world or something. Um. I think. And he led me straight to the book. I'm impressed.

Spent a few hours with bugzilla, bringing order to chaos and putting bugs in the right categories. Trouble with Bugzilla is that lynx doesn't play well with it and I don't know the keyboard shortcuts for Mozilla. And all the mouse-clicking hurt. So when Alan came to see where tea was, he ended up driving the mouse and doing the typing for me. And then, predictably, he attempted to take over the entire process and add useful comments like "the workaround to this is an incantation of dd" (!?) which I suspect will confuse anyone who knows me.

He originally came to find out what had happened to tea, and ended up cooking it. Hee. So I went to catch up on news and discovered that part of the network had fallen over again, and the only address my browser could resolve, it being recently cached was... bugzilla. Decided I didn't need any more news today.

Alan has a new toy: a tiny tiny web browser. He thinks it might understand my pages because my HTML is simple. I told him about the <q> tag and he looked worried. Now he thinks it won't understand my pages.

May 6th
Alan back to normal hours. This was a pain because all the net was "all funny" again. I started off by presuming it was the nameserver. Then I realised it was only web stuff and thought it was junkbuster here. Stopped using it as a proxy and things nearly worked. Then they didn't. Eventually, I learned that NTL has transparent proxies for web traffic and was encouraged to blame them.

More bluebell-spotting in the afternoon. Alan doesn't think we should paint the outside of the house as a giant bluebell. I am sad about this.

Came back to find that whatever the problems were earlier, they'd gone. As an added bonus, Tesco's website is working again! The mind boggles. It's still the same Mozilla using still the same settings.

Barbecue at Justin's in the evening. Discovered from people there where to buy rugby tickets in the future (but since there is only one game left this season, this is of limited use). Apparently there is one location which doesn't get the queues the others get. And I am not putting it up here, no :)

May 5th

Alan unaccountably got up at 0800 today. After switching my alarm clock off. This is not fair. Without my alarm clock, I slumbered on to wake to his teasing about having been up for hours.

Missed the rugby again. We even went to get tickets yesterday and failed to. Argh. Spent much of the afternoon playing with shell scripts to generate web pages (!). Well, actually, it's an attempt to make a sitemap after I realised that I had no idea what was on my website. Rather to my shock, I made two shell scripts which together locate and index any page with the right tags in them. If I start it in the right directory, at least. It even generated valid HTML at one stage. Then I got over-excited and tried to improve it and of course now I have two shell scripts that break things and one half of a sitemap left. And multiple pages lacking the right tags. Ho-hum.

On a more cheerful note, friends who used to live here but who moved to England to get work came back recently. Night in pub catching up. Whee. Leila and I have the same book tastes, and luckily we've been eyeing the same books and only buying half each, and we haven't overlapped yet. Much borrowing is about to occur, I can tell. She mentioned one book I hadn't even heard of: set in Swansea, and featuring a hidden underworld (like Neverwhere, I gather). Naturally, I have to buy it to find out whether the entrance to this other world is that little alley just off... no, never mind.

May 4th
Another warm day. I'm totally confused. Alan doesn't know it was a morning because he slept through most of it, after spending half the night writing responses to silly Microsoft speeches about why they should be allowed to reinvent the net, only this time with patents. Still got outside for at least an hour, though. Lots of people have bluebells in their front gardens. I love bluebells, so I'm wandering around in a pattern designed to take me past as many front gardens with bluebells in them as possible.

Scrapheap was on tonight, but no sooner had I realised it was a repeat (submarines) than Justin arrived to visit. I'm convinced he knows when I turn the television on and visits then. I had a shower, and then we went to grab a Chinese take-out. By the time it finally arrived, my hair had dried completely.

And now for the rant.

If anyone out there has the lyrics to the Hudson/Ford song, Burn, Baby, Burn, I would love to hear from them. It's one of the few songs on the Strawbs album Halcyon Days (which comes with no lyric sheet, presumably because it's a collection) for which there are no lyrics on the Strawbsweb web site. And it's extremely annoying singing along louder and louder and then getting to Another... La lalala LA la lah! Family... blah... didn't work again, Another mouth to feed...all in vain and thinking What is that line?.

Do not think of pointing me to the-website-formerly-known-as For a start, it wants specific browsers (guess which) with specific properties. And more importantly, I'm one of the people who reads copyright and legal notices on sites before using them. (Why? I dunno.)

The site has one of the most immortal copyright notices I have ever read:

Access to Songfile does not grant you the right to reproduce, copy or distribute by any means, method or process whatsoever, now known hereafter developed, any of the information obtained via Songfile, including the song lyrics contained on this site, including without limitation,transferring or downloading any Content to a computer hard drive, or otherwise copying any Content onto any other storage medium.

Should I flush the cache in case Mozilla swaps a bit too enthusiastically and the sacred lyrics touch my profane hard drive? Does memorisation and subsequent accidental mumbling in your sleep count? I don't know, but since its browser requirements leave me out of it, I won't find out.

This is stupid. I have the CD. I can't make the words out. Most normal people probably could. But I am just deaf enough not to be able to hear the difference in quality between a tape and a CD anyway (nor between a tape and a vinyl record played on a good sound system). And I can't make out words. I must have listened to Led Zep IV hundreds of times, and I only found out yesterday that it refers to Lord of the Rings at several places in it. There's a lovely website with all the relevant lyrics and comments on it. But I suppose I had better not mention the address in case the poor site gets told to vanish.

Btw, I have tried Google and Yahoo for this song. There are about a million different songs with this title. This one is, as far as I can tell, first, the version that's not on Google, and second, it's about pollution and the environment, and has a chorus about the earth is getting drier and the flames are getting higher. Or maybe a pyre. And comments about something in the river bed, but that's another verse I can't make out.

As the above demonstrates, my current take on the lyrics of this Burn, Baby, Burn song are a candidate for the Archives of Misheard Lyrics. But I don't want to laugh at it. I want to sing it. Wah.

May 3rd
Warm day again. So warm even at the end of the afternoon that I was seriously contemplating taking the laptop and my pile of unanswered email down to the ice-cream parlour. Someone then suggested I should get a wireless card. Apparently that wouldn't work, but interestingly, if I pick the right time of day, I could use the mobile phone to send the email out.

Abandoned these pleasant speculations because really, the last thing I wanted to do at Joe's Ice Cream was to take the laptop there. The point was to escape from all that email, after all. Took myself there instead. Alan heard the word "ice-cream" and so I ended up taking him, too. Wandered along the beach after. It might be sunny, but it's very windy, too. Most of my ice-cream went into my hair. Waah. I'm sure this is supposed to stop happening after the age of about ten. Alan found it hilarious. He didn't notice the wind lift a great splodge of it onto his t-shirt (which had about the same slapstick humour value), so I didn't tell him. Until he reads this, at least.

Alan was a white knight in shining armour and opened a bottle of some fizzy drink for a family where neither mother nor children could open it. Aww :)

You can tell it is exam season by the number of students revising on the beach. Funny how revising seems to involve a football or a frisbee.

On the way back, found one of those second-hand furniture shops which call themselves "antiques dealers". It had a tiny door, and no room to move inside, but turned out to contain about three houses' worth of furniture in three rooms. And one chatty owner, who took any sign of interest on our part as a reason to explain why the price was well worth it. We stared, peered and poked at one particular article which looked a little like a combination of a meat-hook and an old-fashioned scale with no pan (the sort where you hang the thing on a dangling wire and hope it doesn't break). In the end we confessed bafflement. Apparently it's for cooking the meat by a fire. It has a little mechanism you wind up at the top, you do indeed hang the meat on the hook at the end of the vertical pole, you attach the whole to a convenient piece of wall by the fire, and then it revolves slowly until the mechanism stops, thus ensuring a perfectly even finish.

We have old fireplaces in this house. They even appear to be connected to chimneys which have recently been swept. But oh, I hope someone buys that thing before Alan gets ideas...

May 2nd
The note about the contents of the diary moving from the machines here to has been there for ages. I still write it locally and validate before rsync'ing. The directory it's in here, though, is full of cruft. All the useful stuff is on and sorted neatly. So I thought I'd tidy this machine up. It needs the diskspace. I know I'm not the first to do this trick, but for entertainment value, here's what happened next:

[hobbit@aloss /export/roadrunner/hobbit/public_html]$ ls
(Long list of stuff)
[hobbit@aloss /export/roadrunner/hobbit/public_html]$ rm muttrctest*
[hobbit@aloss /export/roadrunner/hobbit/public_html]$ rm london-*
[hobbit@aloss /export/roadrunner/hobbit/public_html]$ rm ols.html *
rm: cannot remove 'ols.html': No such file or directory
[hobbit@aloss /export/roadrunner/hobbit/public_html]$ ls
[hobbit@aloss /export/roadrunner/hobbit/public_html]$

Thank goodness for backups. For so long I have believed that tar was actually for confusing new users and putting in cron jobs for backups which simply slow the machine down. I had quite forgotten that you can actually recover from backups as well as make them :). That restored the directory as of two weeks ago (I had to do this right before the next backup was due, of course) from tape, and rsync got this page back from the site it lives on. Sorted.

Gratuitous link because I think it's one of the best tales of the net: it could have been a lot worse.

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.

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.)