The more accurate diary. Old stuff

Warning: These are old.

August 2001

August 31st
Failed to catch up with everything after the link went down. Something to do with a lightning strike. That must have been one heck of a storm: a friend in London using NTL also commented that he'd lost connections due to the same excuse. I wonder.

Alan is plumbing the depths of his musical repertoire, I see.

August 30th
Builders came to look at more of the house and re-assess estimates (estimates never seem to go down, I have noticed).

Alan's parents departed. Much email catch-up. I have a megabyte of mail from the CVS commits alone. Something tells me that folder is is destined for mutt's delete-all facility.

The trains have finally become so bad that season ticket holders with Great Western are getting a 10% rebate. Does this mean that a tenth of them were late? Nope. One quarter of them were late. To put this into perspective, Great Western aren't even in the top five of most-complained-of train companies.

August 29th
Plan was to go to Dan yr Ogof, the show caves not far away, but that didn't come off. Instead, shopping expeditions in Swansea. We all split up, and then I popped into Oxfam for coffee and had to laugh as Alan and his dad sneaked in to the same shop for chocolate. Caught!
August 28th
Alan's parents visiting. Guided tour of house with much Watch that step! and Oh. Look out for the - whoops.

Alan's parents completed the Saturday crossword that day. I am sulking now.

August 27th
Bank holiday in England and Wales (but not Scotland, just to confuse) today. Alan staggered into wakefulness around lunchtime, and I dragged him out into the sun to experience daylight. He liked it!

Apparently he also put out two or three -ac kernels. Since he was asleep or out for large parts of the day, I have no idea how.

August 26th
Not too well today. Spent most of it sleeping. Missed Justin's barbecue. Only bright spot of the day was the raspberries Alan found on sale very cheaply. He doesn't like them, but he remembered I love raspberries. Aww! So raspberries and Greek yoghurt for lunch, and the same again for supper. Yummy.

Cricket rained off. Alan would have sulked, but instead found more programmes about the history of cryptography to watch.

August 25th
First Swansea home match today. The exciting new web site for Swansea RFU is sponsored by EDS, Private Eye's favourite company. I suppose it should be no surprise that my email to webmaster on the matter of This site designed for IE; netscape page coming soon came back with no such user.

Gave up trying to work out whether it was an afternoon or evening game and spent the afternoon watching a carnival pass down the road. It took half an hour to go past. We don't tend to have carnivals in Swansea, but it was a lot of fun. Lots of people came down from the hill behind to watch and the road was hugely crowded. And all the cars got diverted, which is always a plus.

Boggled at the crossword in the Guardian, which has added the periodic table and corrections to common dictionaries to the list of things you need to know to get started on the clues. (It's crossword number 22297 at the Guardian site for anyone who cares. If you get further than my meagre seven answers fitted into the grid, I am not sure I want to know. I shall only sulk.)

Swansea lost in the rugby. Boo hiss. Alan is much more interested in the cricket and kept flipping channels to check scores when I was watching the rugby. He is still alive, but only due to my incredible forbearance. Anyway, I can't work the five remotes that seem to apply to the telly. So he lives. For now.

So much for the beautiful ingredients from shopping. Worst cooking disaster for many years, comparable with the vegetable curry I made once before we married (a domestic by-word: Alan got lost hacking, arrived back home hours later than he meant to, and the entire lot went into the bin). We don't eat much meat these days, but I am reasonably sure neither of us have quite forgotten how to cook the stuff.

August 24th
The strange similarity between corn-based snacks and packaging for computers, it emerges, has a perfectly rational explanation.

Alan appears to have spent most of the day watching cricket, that most boring of games. Apparently he did some hacking, too. But I cannot imagine when.

Having filled up the fridge and freezer with beautiful ingredients, made beans on toast for tea. Whoops.

More banging and drumming from up the road somewhere.

August 23rd
Groan. It's not even September. Spotted in the local paper: an advert for Christmas shopping trips.
August 22nd
Back to typical summer weather: intermittent between sunny and rainy.

Lots of strange drumming noises from up the road in the evening. I suspect rehearsals for a parade which is taking place at the weekend.

August 21st
Poked at the printer a bit more. It died just as I wanted to print out a map yesterday. It didn't go quietly though. Whenever I try to print something, it pauses, the paper goes in it, and then the paper gets wound forward and back very rapidly. Whir. Whir. Whir. Whizz. And then it is spun round and shoots out of the top with a great sproinging noise. Twang! This echoes splendidly. I half expect a cuckoo to shoot out of a door and give the time as a result.

Naturally, I now have all manner of things I want to print.

August 20th
Off to LUG meeting in Cardiff with Dick. Alan stayed at home, wrestling with taxes. I have mentioned before that every time I take the train a disaster (a real one, not a oh no, spilt coffee in the keyboard sort) happens. I am now getting very superstitious: the trains out were all delayed by a fatality at Reading. Horrifyingly, it seems this kind of thing no longer warrants a mention on the news, as on our return, I couldn't find any mention of it on the BBC. A London-based news site was the only place mentioning it. (The paper today said someone was in hospital, from which I conclude it wasn't a fatality after all, thankfully.)

Lots of different sorts of people at LUG, from people just off to university to business types who just can't afford licensing for a certain company's products any more. Went through installing distros for firewalls (Smoothwall worked, although there was subsequent discussion on the partitioning scheme; Mandrake worked, then broke in some manner I forget) and then retired to pub.

August 19th
Up late. Alan tried to watch lots more cricket, but was foiled by the rain. Channel Four showed some of the Simon Singh series about code-breaking instead. I was quite sorry when the rain stopped and they ewnt back to the cricket.

Now I have a fan for the Cyrix with the dying fan, the dying fan has shut up and is apparently still alive. So I didn't need to get Alan to look on Ebay (and thus end up with all those computers) after all.

Several people have now told me that the packaging material which looks like Cheesy Wotsits also tastes like them too. Oh dear.

August 18th
Alan spent most of the day laughing at the cricket results. In the evening we and Dick met up with people from the local LUG. Apparently there a local LUG in south Wales. We just didn't know. Attempted to introduce Phil and Eva to the delights of Swansea pubs and realised that there are very few pubs which now do not have Sky TV and lots of football. Bumped into a Linux-using friend whilst waiting for them at the station, weirdly enough.

Ended up at a local Indian restaurant before they said farewell for a long drive back.

August 17th
According to the bot on IRC, it is GNOME's birthday today. Woo.

Various builders, engineers and stuff to the house today. Much peering at walls and rubbing of chins. Alan's ebay prizes also arrived today. Much peering at boxes and rubbing of eyes. (Nope, didn't work, I can still see them) Beautifully packed, in the usual plastic foam twists. It occurred to me that they looked far too much like a snack called Cheesy Wotsits for comfort. They smelled a little like them too. Alan tried to tell me that sometimes they even came in the same colour. I scoffed at him. Then we opened the second box. Guess what?

I wonder whether they're made in the same factory.

August 16th
Alan inflicted more filk and weird poetry on me. Oh dear.

I am in disgrace. After we'd finished eating, Alan went upstairs to fetch something for me. I put the plates in the washing up and threw away the remainder of the food that was still in the kitchen from dishing out. He came back downstairs and oh dear: But I was going to eat that! Oops. Bad Telsa.

August 15th
Argh. My exciting new Mozilla nightly and RH bugzilla do not like each other. This is very bad.

Alan normally browses the web or sits on IRC when he is compiling. I fear he found Project Gutenburg again. Now, in between Nautilus test-runs, he is producing streams of parody poetry on IRC. The version of Kubla Kahn about Mono was bad enough. Tonight, we were treated to Tennyson's Charge of the VC Brigade.

August 14th
It can't be many people who get a lecture on and then it reloads the font, and then it unloads it, and that takes a second and a half, and.. at lunchtime.

Fortunately, he did tell people who knew what to do about this, as well.

August 13th
Bright clear weather is back. I expect that means the meteors have gone now we can see the sky again.

Finally: the end of the fish-fingers. It's just as well, because I am sick of them. Alan got the pizza. Defrosting soon, and then I can restock. But no more fish-fingers. Not for at least a year.

Alan appears to have tired of kernels and is messing around with nautilus and a home directory with thousands of files. The combination of strace, sed and dc is scary.

August 12th
Should be lots of meteors tonight. Generally we are camping this weekend and can lie outside watching them. Not this year, alas. We're in town and the sky is completely overcast: mist on the hills in the morning and the moon shrouded with clouds.

Not only that, it's raining in a drizzly half-hearted sort of way. Whilst coming back to the house after dark, Alan and I counted over fifty slugs and snails on the pavement and walls. In a ten minute (half a mile? a mile?) walk. Ugh.

August 11th
Apparently the one mozilla I left lying about in my purge of /home was the wrong one. Discovered this when everything broke. Found the nightly rpms and breathed a sigh of relief. I could just restore the old stuff from the backups, but it takes ages, and it was about time I upgraded anyway. Mozilla is whizzing along even compared to the nightly I was clinging onto because it worked on every site I needed.

Booked for Blackmore's Night show which is occurring locally soon. Surprised to be asked Will you be attending in costume? If so, you can have these seats.... I can't say we had thought of attending in costume, despite the mediaeval atmosphere to some of the music. Well, mediaeval in that lots of the publicity shots are of Blackmore and others in fancy clothes. I'm not totally convinced the music is so authentic: but I like it, so I don't care. Despite the sniggers of the people behind us in the queue, contemplated this costume idea. It occurs to us that we know quite a few people who would probably play along with this, and it could be fun. Thing is, some of the people we know will probably want to wear their swords...

August 10th
Wow. Found seven Mozillas floating around in the depths of my home directory. Removed six of them (I hope they were the right six!) and /home use dropped from 72% to 43%.

Managed to get to the theatre after all. Not bad.

August 9th
Two parcels arrived for Alan. Signed for them and threatened dire reprisals should the packaging end up anywhere other than the bin or his room. A photographer arrived, also for Alan. He was also consigned to Alan's room. After decorating the rack with miscellaneous photogenic (or not) penguins (which Alan promptly removed), I hid. I was later roped in to stand behind the lights and talk at him in the hope he would not freeze with his face in a rictus of I am pretending to be animated and caught mid-discussion by providing said discussion. It was a most disconcerting experience. He nearly had to get up and go and check something after one of my remarks and he looked unhelpfully blank after most of the rest.

Around 9pm, disaster. Noticed the theatre tickets for the evening sitting unused. Sniff. Went to tell Alan and seek solace. Found him in an unusually cagey state. Realised immediately something was amiss. I should have known it would involve Ebay.

My sweetheart has bought five more computers. By accident.

August 8th
Off to London to catch up with friends visiting the UK. I met Rachel in Australia at after she'd made it out there, so it seemed only fair to make it to London since she was actually in the right country.

It's very embarrassing when an Australian who works in the US knows their way about London better than you do.

Trotted through London to the Tate Modern, and loved it. We only had an hour before they closed, so I am going back there and taking Alan one day. Next year, probably. I've been to London twice this year, which is enough for anyone.

Returned home to discover Alan had failed to dispose of fishfingers. Coward. He attempted to redeem himself by announcing he'd found me a fan on Ebay. What else?, I asked. Oh, probably nothing, he replied, People will out-bid me on everything else. I left the mention of everything else alone. This was a mistake.

August 7th
Oh no! We have still not run out of fish fingers. There's one pizza, a pile of veg, garlic bread which Alan refuses to touch, and endless damn fish fingers left.

I have a bet on with a friend about who can report ten valid bugs in a beta first. I am handicapped by being away tomorrow, but he maintains that this is fair, since he has work and a toddler. So tonight, I am going to attempt some jobs I have not done before and see what happens.

Popped out to town with Alan, booked for the local theatre's idea of high culture: a whodunnit. Yes, this is high culture compared with endless tribute bands and the penis puppetry show which caused all the complaints. (They managed to sell all the tickets for that one, of course :))

Endless fans in the computer shop, but none fit for my dying machine. Having heard the noise, Alan now agrees it needs a new one, and out of the goodness of his heart has offered to spend time on Ebay looking for a fan for you. Uh-huh. I know exactly how long he spends on Ebay already, and this is not nearly so altruistic of him as it might sound. For the next six months or more, I am going to be told I was looking for your fan, and I found this instead as he bids on all manner of junk. Thank goodness he is always out-bid. I have no idea what he was planning to do with a dry-ice kit for generating smoke on stages (I don't believe his protestations that it was for a birthday present for someone else for a minute). I am however quite sure he would have thought of many, many things to do with it had he got it.

The latest Ebay prize is a barometer which has provided him with endless hours of amusement, even though it arrived damaged in transit: the attached thermometer was broken. So in addition to getting a barometer, which made him happy, he got to cause chaos with the post office, which made him even happier. It had arrived with some form of insurance, so he rang up the post office, announced it had been broken en route, and asked for the repair costs. They wanted it and the packaging sent to them first, to check that it was broken and that it wasn't the fault of the packaging.

However, the post office have a list of things you can't send through the post. I would provide a link to the list, but it seems the Post Office don't have a website browsable with Mozilla yet. (Instead, I go there and am greeted with a jaunty message that a Netscape compatible version will be available shortly.) Luckily, Alan knows the list, and it would seem that broken glass thermometers with mercury leaking out of them are not the Post Office's most acceptable objects. And they wanted the damaged article posted back to them. So he got to cause chaos by pointing their own rules out and asking them now what should he do? Short of fixing software, I think interpreting rules in unfortunate ways is one of Alan's favourite games. He will argue the toss until the cows come home.

So the barometer was a most successful purchase from his point of view. If nothing exciting happens on the net, I suspect I know what his next game is going to be, and it's going to involve How does one dispose of mercury safely and several phone calls to an unlucky city council. Failing that, I foresee many more hours on Ebay under the pretence that he is looking for a fan for me.

Red Hat employees who have anything to do with X will be delighted to know that the failing fan is attached to the Media GX chip which features so often in my bug reports. If anything hinders Alan in his quest to keep this machine alive, I shall know exactly whom to blame.

August 6th
The empty freezer of contents in order to defrost it plan is proceeding apace. But I am getting very tired of fish fingers. However did we end up with so many?
August 5th
A third of the way through playing all the Lord of the Rings tapes, discovered tape player in question was mangling the tapes slightly. Aargh. You can't tell in the spoken parts, but you can certainly tell in the music. So I have had to abandon Frodo and Sam to the tender mercies of Gollum whilst the rest are frozen in the moments following Helm's Deep. Waah. I hate machinery, I do.

Wandered through town to sit in Castle Square and watch the skateboarders practise (one kicking the skateboard every time he didn't get it right) to the dulcet tones of some evangelist. No buskers. Boo. On return home, set burglar alarm off. It is loud. Ow.

The fan is dying in one of the computers. Waah.

Discovered some sorbet in the freezer which should have been eaten three months ago. Sampled it anyway. Decided that best-before dates are to be heeded. Oh well.

August 4th
Alan up earlier than usual for a weekend. I discovered why when I found him watching the cricket on the television. Silly game. Was also reminded why one of the fielding positions is called silly mid on: someone fielding there got hit by a ball travelling very fast. This is a well-known risk if you stand there, hence it's silly... (No, I am not a cricket fan. I just like the sheer surreality of the fielding position names and the fact that there is a rule for everything, including, according to Alan, if the ball splits into two halves whilst in play, then.... Before you ask, I have forgotten what happens then. Ask Alan, because he professes to know.)

Put the eat everything from the freezer campaign into action so that I can defrost it. I fear we are going to get very tired of fishfingers soon.

August 3rd
I am not cut out for very late nights. Up late, wandering around in a daze for the rest of the day. Played with the RH beta in a daze, and see a bugzilla-fest coming on.
August 2nd
Finally, rain! Discovered the wind had blown the open-a-crack window wide open and left a very soggy carpet. Sigh. Took up carpet and mopped up. Laptop three feet from the puddle, oh my!

Found that several friends who went to the London Linux Expo had also received junk mail, via email and post. One had even had a phone call about it. Strangely, none of us can recall leaving the please spam me box checked. Not impressed about this at all.

Up extremely late.

August 1st
Hot still. Hoped for rain, but alas.

Alan returned, a mere hour late. Thank you, trains.

July 31st
Weather still hot and stifling. I am very bored with summer now. Roll on the autumn and floods, storms, or whatever it has in store for us.

Junk After the Expo.. post (through the letterbox, not via email) which I strongly suspect is as a result of giving my address out in order to get my tickets sent for the Linux Expo in London last month. Not impressed, because I always tick the No, I do not wish to receive marketing boxes.

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.)