The more accurate diary. Old stuff

Warning: These are old.

September 2001

October 1st
Alan announced that the new motherboard in my computer had only been there on loan and that he wanted it back. Sulked. Then said No on the grounds that almost everything works now, with the exception of xine. Alan was insistent that xine worked.

So broke xine for Alan some more. He sighed. I have not sent any bug reports yet because I do not know what is happening, which makes it rather hard to summarise.

September 30th
Autumn is here with a vengeance: there are leaves all over the pavement. There would be more had the council not been sawing trees down earlier in the week (boo!)
September 29th
Discovered my parents had in fact returned safely from America. They'd sent a postcard on the 12th (which arrived about two weeks later, of course) but given the flying disruptions, I wasn't entirely sure they were back.

It seems somehow typical that they can drive for miles to reach spectacular caves in Texas and then the other visitors there are from Birmingham and the waiter is from Northern Ireland. Apparently our local show caves are not in the same league. Pooh.

September 28th
Alan up late again. So he missed one of our government grumbling on the radio that if only we'd had key escrow we might have caught some terrorists. Apparently those of us who objected are naive, and he is sure we regret it terribly now. To make up for this, the Home Secretary is proposing (yet again...) to introduce identity cards. This country is not nearly as suspicious of censuses (censes?) as the US: we grumble but then fill them in. But quite how the government is proposing to give everyone a card when we still have travellers who wander the country and people sleeping in cardboard boxes and people who can't get bank accounts because they have no way to prove their name and/or address is a mystery to me.
September 27th
Weather typical Swansea wet. Scrounged a lift off a friend for a whole ten minute walk and still got wet getting to theatre. We went to see Blackmore's Night: and great fun it was too, despite the most restless audience I have ever seen (except for an out-of-hand drunken audience at the Rocky Horror Show once). Apparently our fairly boring rain caught the band unawares on Swansea Beach. This is a good thing because it inspired them to perform The Storm, which was great.

Never thought I'd hear 16th Century Greensleeves live. Scarily, it's one of those we have on vinyl, languishing unplayed for years. And I still know all the words.

Was chatting to friends on the net immediately after and discovered that it is an incredibly small world: one friend said he'd met Candice Night, and another apparently persuaded the son of one of the Black Sabbath people to try Linux (well, for a week, at least). Then it emerged Alan had worked for a guy who was one of the session musicians for Sabbath, and whose father had taught Alan's grandfather to play the drums. I seem to be the only one who does not have a connection to the Birmingham rock scene of the time.

I have now turned over seventy of our CDs into oggs and am playing with mozilla and with wget | ogg123. This is fun. Alan has done three CD, and managed to put one into the wrong directory and to mislabel two of them. Someone is not pulling their weight here.

September 26th
Router remained functional. Instead, the mailserver died. Decided I didn't want email anyway and got lots done before Alan returned. Alan decided he did want email.
September 25th
Alan went off at midday to catch the train to London to bang on about patents to a bunch of people who were meeting at the Liberal Club. He did not take a suit and did not take a tie. The Liberal Club is in Whitehall and extremely grand. I'm amazed they let him in.

Half an hour after he left, the router fell over. The joys of long-distance troubleshooting. Okay, now try to ping.. Did that already Well, then check.. Did that, too. It turns out the network card is flaky. Three million network cards in the house, and the router gets the dying one. How typical. Did I get any credit for having thought of the basics before contacting him? Nope, of course not.

September 24th
Another LUG get-together, again in Swansea. Fun. The freaky thing is that half the Swansea people all turn out to be from the same social circle ten years ago. Much Good grief, how are you? from that segment as a result. Alan has decided he likes LUG meetings because he can find people to take away old hardware. So not only did we get a lift back from it, we got rid of about four boxes of junk. His room looks absolutely no better than before but it's a start.
September 23rd
The long almost-built ogg server box has now run for a week without dying. Started playing with grip (broke it), ogg123 (haven't broken it yet), and scp to transfer CDs into oggs and onto oggit (look, it seemed a sensible name at the time).
September 17th-22nd
Note to self: do not leave gaps of two weeks to update diary. Or your memory fails utterly. Things I do remember, in no particular order:
September 16th
I absolutely cannot remember what happened. I think it involved a lot of Alan watching rugby. And since it was a Sunday, I am almost sure I had to restart the mailer for him. (Sunday is a day of sleeping and for not noticing he still hasn't fixed the cron jobs.)
September 15th
Alan tried to sort out the mysteries of my new computer. I went to bed. The next morning I discovered his efforts had been a little more far-reaching than I expected. He had connected the second monitor up and given me xinerama. This is where the X session is spread across both monitors so you can have vastly long windows, and drag them from one to the other. Immediately became hopelessly confused.

Lost the mouse repeatedly. Windows kept opening on the wrong monitor regardless of which monitor I was expecting them to appear on. The GNOME panel wouldn't stretch across both, so I started a second (actually, fourth: I have tons of floating panels) panel across the second monitor. Then I restarted GNOME and got Beep. You already have a panel running. I knew that, so I told it to continue, and the latest panel appeared on top of the normal one and refused to move. Killed it off and watched all its applets appear in the old one. Because vastly confused, tried to repeat it. Couldn't. Started again.

I forget the details of what happened, but in the end I gave up and went to play with xine some more. Splendid. When Alan was faffing about with DVD stuff months ago, he reached a stage where he could get either sound or pictures, and then another where he got both at different speeds. I went through all these combinations and more in the course of the afternoon. Still couldn't figure out what was happening and what was meant to happen well enough to send bugs in.

Lost the mouse repeatedly. Eventually summoned Alan and demanded he tell me how to stop the xinerama stuff. He did, but pointed out I could still have the second monitor as part of the same session but on a different display. (I think.) Now I have xine on one monitor and normality on the main one.

I think there was some rugby involved, too, but I forget.

September 14th
More unexplained hangs with no information even on the serial console. Pah.

Three minutes silence today.

I have not put much about the events of Tuesday because I will upset someone somewhere. But the talk of war scares me. I am not even sure the UN Charter allows for declaring war on a thing or concept such as terrorists. What happened seems to me a crime and something for courts, not for invasions.

September 13th
New X, new kernel, retrieved beloved old vt420 as a serial console. X behaved perfectly. Something else broke instead.
September 12th
More gpg woes. I'm bothered about this. It's claiming bad passphrase and secret key not available and that doesn't sound very good. I thought at first it was moving stuff over to new machine that had messed stuff up, but I'm still reading mail on the old one.

Now I have found a way either to crash or hang X, but I'm not sure which. When it happens, I can't even ping the machine. Argh.

I seem to have dropped myself into doing useful stuff with Gnome. It does not look easy useful stuff however. Oh dear.

The local evening paper has a huge banner headline: No reprisals. Alas, the local Muslims have apparently already had phone threats to the mosque and comments that the women wearing the headscarf are very easy to identify... :(

September 11th
Much potential diary-fodder: gpg won't let me read stuff encrypted to me, fun exchanges in the morning, and so on. All overshadowed by the news today. Saw people on IRC mention the first plane crash into the World Trade Centre, looked at the television, saw the second one, and the world went downhill from there.

Like many other people, I first met this quote as the preface to a Hemingway book. It says it better than I can, and applies to far more than what happened today.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were: any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

(John Donne, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, 1621)

September 10th
Swansea got its own LUG meeting today. Respectable turn out, and lasted a good while.

Ended up at pub. Back very very late. Managed to off-load various bits of hardware to the person who gave us a lift. Whee.

Another giant spider. Another jump the length of the room. Oh, the embarrassment.

September 9th
Found a new way to break things. Whee. Now then, who put that ulimit there? Now I have to do it again.

Failed to make rhubarb crumble. Made instead rhubarb sludge with a little pile of crumble on the top and all the rest sinking through the fruit. Whoops.

September 8th
Still haven't switched the mail over. Have destroyed X once. Have got it terribly confused more than once by switching wmaker workspaces very fast with the keybindings. or a beta machine this is not at all bad. For a beta machine I had a hand in putting together, it's way better than I thought.

That's it, though. I am staying with this machine until it is grossly underpowered, because building machines is boring, finding all the little extras from the old machine which I installed from tarballs and not rpms is boring, and going through improving /etc/foorc files to the way I am used to them is incredibly boring.

Watching Edge of Darkness is much better.

September 7th
Argh. Last week Alan proudly displayed a photo of the spider he had failed to catch in the night: a Great Big Spider. Today, I found it.

I found it whilst stepping out of the shower, and how I didn't break something in the split-second gazelle-like (well, so I like to think, but it was probably more like an elephant attempting to imitate a kangaroo) bound to the other side of the room I shall never know. If I can see something without my glasses on, then it's big. It has now been removed to outside the house, where I hope it eats many woodlice.

New kernel fixed the xine woes and now I can get sound and audio at the same time, and in synch. Woo. Eyed drive thoughtfully. Looked at machine specs. So would this machine be fast enough to play DVDs? Alan found a spare DVD drive lying around (as you do). More rearrangements. Out with the RW/CD, in with the DVD drive.

Spent the next five hours watching Edge of Darkness whilst attacking email. Happy days. (Edge of Darkness was worth the BBC licence fee for the entire year and every year they have repeated it.) Then onto the next DVD, and disaster. Encrypted. Hunted down Ogle and bits. Failed to find one vital bit required for the thing to build. Grr.

September 6th
Printer day. Madness ensued. Perhaps it was a bad idea to attempt to transfer all of /home onto the new (well, it was new some months ago) box at the same time, but that meant only one powerdown, and it was bad enough having to do that at all. I am never quite sure everything is going to come back up.

Ran out of space when tarring /home up. Solved that, directed Alan in I want that there, and that there, and.. rearrangements of the physical stuff (it's heavy!) whilst in fit of tidiness I cleaned the keyboard to the extent that three keys would no longer work. It may sound strange but I never realised you could just pull the keys off and remove the ... erm, well, whatever it is from underneath. Yuk.

rsync'd gnupg stuff to about three different locations just in case. After getting people to sign the key, it seems a good idea to make sure I can still use it on the new box. (I made a revocation key, but I put it somewhere safe, which means I have no idea where.) And so on; and so forth.

Discovered Alan had bought me a printer without a printer cable. Improvised. Discovered Alan had bought me a printer which requires drivers not in RH. Collected, built, installed: it worked! Discovered Alan had not expected that.

Enquired whether I could now watch DVDs and mpegs and stuff on exciting new hardware. Proceeded to test. Broke xine. Broke X. Broke everything. X reported an unknown error that had Alan in fits of How on earth..? and laughter. Nautilus went all weird on me. Started again. And again. And again. I can now watch a video CD or listen to it, but both at once is proving tricky.

I feel put-upon.

The original plan was to mess with DNS (translation: make Alan mess with DNS) to get mail to arrive on new box rather than old. It's now 2am. I think that's tomorrow's job.

September 5th
Another early delivery, and another emergence of Alan in the morning. His revenge was to tell me the parcel was for me. I have been very good about buying things on the net recently (or not buying them, to be accurate) so this confused me.

It emerged that he had bought me a new printer after the unfortunate incident last week. It is still behaving as if it thinks the paper needs to fly across the room. It's extremely funny, but I want to print things.

September 4th
I can't say I got up particularly early today after last night's very late finish. The bright side of this was that Alan ended up answering the door for the postman at 7.30am.

I wish I'd been awake to see that.

September 3rd
Dashed into town with Alan at lunchtime. Alan forgot his hat. As ever, it started to rain. Alan normally enjoys this. This time though, he complained bitterly. It seems that without a hat, he has re-discovered the fact that rain is cold...

LUG meeting again tonight. The planned talk or discussion didn't happen, so we talked about everything else instead. Then we repaired to the pub. Then we went back to Eva's flat and ate lots and drank more. This LUG could be fun :) Then it was midnight. Eep! Luckily, someone was driving back via Swansea, which solved the train, what train? problem.

Back extremely late (it wasn't the puncture, it was fitting everything back into the boot afterwards) to discover that Alan was still wide awake. What a surprise.

September 2nd
Found a restaurant we didn't know about, with lots of Persian food on the menu. Gorgeous CD in the background, not that we understood a word of it: lots of music and then spoken words rather than singing. Asked the staff, who were delighted someone had asked, and found it was poetry by Omar Khayyam. Then they told us all about him, or at least a lot more than I knew before. Went hunting for the CD on the net, but failed: without knowing the artist, searches either turn up a record label with a related name or the history of mathematics.

I can see we shall have to go back there and find out the easy way :)

September 1st
Not a particularly productive day.

From getting up at sociable hours whilst his parents were here, Alan has slipped right round the time zones in days and is now on New Zealand time or something.

Alan proudly showed me a photo of an exceptionally large spider and then looked delightedly self-satisfied when my attention was taken up much more by my appalled observation that the carpet in the photo was in the house and where is this spider now?

It might be two inches long and the sort where you have to be very careful putting a pint glass over it to make sure you don't knock a leg, but he managed to lose it. He doesn't even know whether it's in the bedroom or the bathroom now. (It was on the landing, and after all the builders coming and poking at walls, we have holes all over the place.) I am not sure which is worse.

Messed about with a web page for a friend and got bored of all the <p align="center"> entries, and decided I knew why stylesheets were a good thing. Sat down with a book and struggled. Went visiting every web site I could think of which (a) validated, and (b) had a consistent design, in hope of collecting templates. Including the first requirement narrowed it down a lot. Got sidetracked repeatedly. Eventually discovered that making all paragraphs on a page be aligned in a particular way was dead easy. Finished friend's page. Tidy approved. It looked beautiful in Mozilla. It looked, well, usable at least in Lynx.

Then Alan said, You know that Netscape won't be able to do anything with it, and old versions of IE won't be able to do anything with it, and Opera won't be able to do anything with it, and..

Sigh. Back to all those <p align="center"> entries then.

Finally completed getting all of the Lord of the Rings tapes into oggs on a machine with lots of space. Tomorrow's project: icecast. Only now I discover that icecast only likes mp3s.

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.

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.)