The more accurate diary. Really.

Warning: These are old.

November 2001

December 1st
Happy Mailman Day to all those who got as many subscription reminders as I did. Ouch.

Persuaded Alan into town and promptly dragged him round the bookshop. Heh. Then discovered the Christmas Market which Swansea puts on every year: lots of little booths in the centre of the pedestrianised pavements. That was the end of serious shopping for the day. Time to browse and hunt down the fudge stall Alan remembered from last year. Even more stalls this year, some of dubious authenticity: Real Welsh Mead (yum, bought that, sampled half the stall, am going back to sample the rest), Traditional Welsh Craft Stalls, Authentic Welsh Waffles...

I was extremely restrained and merely bought a purse. (Note for Americans: purses here are what you put coins in. They are not the bags we call handbags. And I am going to make a glossary one day.) But then I ran out of money to put in it. Scarily enough, half these Ye Olde Market stalls accept plastic.

Around Castle Square there was also a French market, whatever that means. It seemed to mean a lot of completely unvisited bread stalls, a perfume stall (I have never seen perfume on sale at markets in France) and about five charcuterie stalls. I was a bit confused on how this had suddenly arrived in Swansea (my grandparents remember visiting onion-sellers, but entire markets?) then ended up behind the stalls (as you do) staring at a bunch of lorries with logos all about a French market. Hmm. Alan loves poking around at things like these and examining the contents of every stall very carefully, so the rest of the day was lost.

There were also several buskers (one lot were great) and a very loud American evangelist with -- alas -- a microphone and amplifier. It somehow seems unfair when only one group or person making noise has the amp.

The water in the cellar is now going down again. This is beyond frustrating.

November 30th
Still water down in the cellar, but the coloured dye (which I found on the table we eat off: just as well it says non-toxic) is not showing up there, so that's one route in ruled out.

Bumped into a friend in the supermarket. As you do.

November 29th
There is water in our newly-lined cellar again. Life is not good.

It has been raining heavily since we got back, so experiments with coloured dye are on the cards. On the plus side, a piece of wallpaper has gone up. Woo. That's the best I can think of in the way of news.

Alan has been very absent of late, holing up in his room and hacking. I imagine he's still attacking the email backlog.

November 28th
According to Slashdot, I am called Tesla Gwyne, I have no education, I am really a RH affiliation because of Alan (who presumably is going to tell me what to do), I need a make-over, and I shouldn't have been elected to the Gnome Foundation at the expense of RMS. Nice to see it's on top form as usual.

Right now, I do rather agree with part of the last bit: if I hadn't stood then Glynn would have got on, and Glynn is good at stuff. But all in all I think I prefer Christian's summary, which has the virtue of being written by someone who can spell my name.

November 27th
Just about remembered to vote in the Gnome foundation elections. Sent the monthly proofreading stuff back. Caught up with colossal amounts of email. Poked at bugzilla.

Election results came out shortly after midnight. Oops. I didn't actually expect to get on, so I'm a bit stuck for ideas now.

November 21st to the 26th
In Dublin. Alan gave a talk, we all wondered where the Aberystwyth contingent were, much drinking was done, and I saw Brotherhood of the Wolf (finally) and it was very very cool indeed.

Write-up is mostly done, but not up yet.

November 20th
Went for meal out. Discovered that our neighbours at the next table were our neighbours over the road, too; and that one of them had been the chef at a wonderful restaurant that is now gone. Nice guys.
November 19th
From Bristol to Swansea to discover that house now has a respectable exterior again and that Alan had neither washed clothes nor done any of the travel arrangements I had hoped. Did most of that. Left the rest whilst I caught up with email.

November 18th
To London on coach with friend from Bristol. I feel quite flamed enough from people who objected to my opinions last time I voiced them, but for the record, I was there to attend a peace demonstration. Peaceably.

Played hunt-the-bus and managed to get back onto the right one. I can't understand why everyone seems to think that all non-Londoners should automatically know where London locations are. Moving the bus to quarter of a mile from where they said it would be was a particular stroke of genius. We foiled these dastardly tricks by finding it ahead of time anyway, but met someone else who had missed their bus already.

November 17th
Builders on deadlines work at the weekend too. What a way to wake up. Escaped to visit friends near Bristol, leaving Alan to sort out some travelling details for next week.

Lots of people got on at Cardiff, all wearing red jerseys. Joy. Not only had I missed watching the Wales match. Now I was surrounded by all the people who'd been there in person. Sulk sulk sulk.

Watched a very strange film called Pi (well, apparently it's really called Π but if that entity works I shall be impressed).

November 16th
I updated the diary before the end of the day yesterday. Yea, verily did more events occur subsequently. Alas for the fact that I have forgotten them all. (Except for Steve departing, leaving behind chocolate. He can come again.)

For the first time, the building really really got to me. I was expecting the weekly phone conference call for Gnome 2 to result in people in three continents experiencing the sound of the radio through the ground floor (it's in the cellar, and it neearly got left here over the weekend), the cement mixer grinding away and the rattles as concrete rolls down into the cellar. Gnome 2 was saved from this, howver, and sweetness and light abounded, except for the moment when Jeff was trying to ascertain who was present and I interrupted the sequence of abrupt Here!s with a bemused Hello? under the impression that a builder was about to tell me something dreadful.

Realised that I am visiting a friend at the weekend and I am away next week and that I haven't organised either.

November 15th
Lots of running around to little purpose. Hosepipe fell off tap, but luckily someone (me) was there to notice. Our kitchen seems to have a thing about floods: that's three ways to do it now. (Taps that turn themselves back on, gas engineers, and now hosepipes.) Perhaps it likes water. I shall leave a floorcloth conveniently placed next time. Rendering on the outside doing well, though. It looks like a house again now.

Started answering the questions from yesterday again. Decorator moved the wireless link again. How does he know, I ask myself. Lost the answers again. Popped out for ten minutes. Seemed safer. Grabbed a sandwich from local shop, stuffed it in pocket. Crossed the road, heard a splat behind, and turned back to see my sandwich still wrapped sitting in the middle of the road. Was about to grab it when a car drove over it, leaving it somehow intact. So I ate it anyway.

Came back to a fire alarm going off (it was actually complaining that the electricity was off), and a parcelforce person. He was there to collect things. Ran upstairs to get it and found the machine room filled with beeps I didn't recognise. Oh, it was that circuit that was tripped, was it? Good job we got the UPSes after all. Shame none of my computers are on them. My Vaio battery now lasts long enough for booting up, logging in and typing startx and then it dies. Lovely. The builders are used to this by now and reset the trip switch before I'd even found the broomstick (the trip switches are nine foot up the wall).

Alan showed up in time to rescue all the boxes except mine and to stand over me wanting the phone back when a friend rang me. The only bright spot so far is that I am more than halfway through the Guardian crossword already. This week I am aiming to get to 90% of it done daily. I nearly had a 100% record until yesterday; but a clue to which the answer was "BUHL" foiled that. Oh well, I suppose it improved my vocabulary, although I question the likelihood of any immediate need for the word in my future.

Only halfway through the day, but updating this whilst the link is still there. (As I type that, there is a large crash outside. Wince.)

November 14th
Decorator back to ask for wallpaper. Wow: 24 hours to pick things to live with for the next twenty years. Alan was out so I nearly got to pick the stripes he didn't want, but he returned in time to stop me. Poo.

The inside of the house is now as much of a mess as the outside, as hosepipes from our kitchen sink snake their way to the wallpaper stripper and the radio in the cellar echoes up through my floor. I thought the builders were working extremely late until I realised they'd left it going when they went. Alan, being insulated in the back of the house, didn't even notice. He is still very busy, but I don't know what he's actually doing. I thought handing the 2.4 kernel maintenance off to Marcelo would mean Quality Alan Time, but if it does, I'm not the one getting it. Personally, I think he's hiding from the builders in case we have any more disasters or something needs moving. In fact, I have given up moving things from room to room. It's mostly books, so I shall just have to read with a duster in my hand for the next year or so.

Kept trying to answer a series of questions posted on one of the gnome lists, but the decorator foiled me by moving the wireless transmitter just before I hit send. I suppose this is better than having the wireless transmitter thing made good (in stripes!) but it took some effort to see it that way.

Burned the tea. (Well, a bit.) Alan ate all the bits I couldn't. Oink oink oink.

November 13th
Decorator arrived with way too many books of wallpapers we might like. Given the running battle over the colour of the outside of the house (Alan thinks something sober would be good whilst I am all for giant bubbles of colour painted on top of that), this may take some time. We have agreed on the colours for the room, but this time he wants boring one-colour paper and I want stripes.

Alan still too busy to write diary. I am going to start making up the events here to see whether he falls for it when he checks mine to remind himself what happened when.

Long chats with Steve in the evening. Steve is an enthusiastic gardener. Alan is now thinking we should have raspberry bushes in the back yard: a back yard which serves as the drive, is entirely concrete, and has assorted rubble beneath it. I fear we have been here before. And on that occasion we turned a back yard with weeds into an organic free-range slug farm with the occasional poppy surfacing above the mess of pulled-up and abandoned paving slabs. I hope he doesn't get too stuck on the idea of raspberry bushes. There is also the small matter of a sycamore tree which refused to die when Alan chopped it down last year. It has flourished instead. Alan keeps muttering about finding the axe. I hope he doesn't. We haven't settled the one-colour/stripes discussion yet. I don't want this to get out of hand.

November 12th
Good news! No more building work in my room (that's the one in Alan's photo, which is normally populated by an extremely large desk, some machinery, and two overstuffed bookcases).

Bad news! I still can't move everything back.

Making good next. I hadn't known it would start inside whilst the outside of the house was still being finished.

Steve (current guest) escaped out for most of the day whilst we discussed the joy of having a dry cellar (no more lake: repairing the water mains seems to have done the trick) and the troubles of You can't get this wallpaper anymore.... Looks like making good is coming to mean redecoration from scratch.

Alan was also threatening to review the Harry Potter film, but when I reminded him his diary was behind he said he was busy. Found the bunch behind us in the Harry Potter queue were in the local paper (what a URL! I hope it works...) today.

November 11th
Justin felt the urge to cook, so we turned up to help him eat the results. Also there was another friend from Alan's university days, who had just arrived and was hunting hotels. Enticed him back here to catch up with news, and anyway, he has a car and I need to pick something up this week. Realised we have no food in the house again. Not even fishfingers. Never thought I'd miss them...

Had to move laptop out of guest room again. Wondering when I can have my proper room with its nice desk again before I develop a permanent hunch.

November 10th
Alan actually got up early of his own volition. Harry Potter day, it seems, has more effect than But you promised... on his rising hours.

You'd think that a cinema which has already announced it's sold something like 3000 tickets and is doubling the showings over the weekend after doing much of the booking by phone would have the sense to open early so everyone could collect tickets. But noo. An hour before it started, no-one was there. We went for a wander, came back, and there were dozens of people there waiting in about four different proto-queues (very British, yes). There was a small meeting of harried-looking employees as we waited.

The local press showed up, but Alan declined his moment of fame and we listened to the reporter interviewing a bunch from Ammanford and watched as the photographer took photos of a very small child in glasses, a robe, and a hat. Then the queues started being rearranged as the cinema people started putting up the posts and barriers to direct us, with lots of people discovering they were now at the other end of the queue and much No, I think you were before me.., No no, you go on...

I suppose I could try to beat everyone else to a review, but really, what is there to say? It followed the plot very closely. The owls at the Dursleys were hilarious (the first of many moments where the audience roared), most of the lines came from the book, Hogwarts looks mustier and dustier than I am sure any reputable house-elf would permit, the chess match and the episode in the bathrooms were jumpy as hell, and the scene of Harry sitting gazing into the mirror pensively was wonderfully done. Some parts went, as did entire characters, but the main points are there. My favourite moment was entirely unscripted: a main character speaks, pausing for effect before continuing. And from somewhere behind in the audience a very small voice piped up with the rest of the sentence (correctly). I creased up trying to stifle laughter.

Oh, and a trailer for Lord of the Rings, too. Woo.

Missed all the rugby because the television is not plugged in. Alan went to the pub to watch it anyway.

In the evening, off to a birthday party for a friend. Much meeting up with old friends from university days who have all moved away. Alan managed to give away his silly properhead hat too, so I am very happy.

November 9th
Attempted to deal with email. It kept arriving. Trimmed inbox down from 110 to... er... 127.

Finally figured out how to set the boiler clock. Waking up to hot water is a Good Thing. It's turned colder here over the last few days and I have been trying to wear my new boots in whilst they try to wear my feet out. Ouch.

November 8th
Finally, windows are done! Strangely quiet in the front rooms now.

Alan, Dick and I went on a minor pub crawl scouting out new locations for LUG meetings. Venue A was rejected by Dick when its real ale selection turned out to be one whole barrel. We ended up on Wind Street, which is attempting to reinvent itself as the cool place to be and get back all the people heading off to Cardiff and its outdoor cafes and bars. They'll have to get rid of a lot of the roadworks first, I think.

Had a strangely meaty vegeburger in one pub, boggled to discover the No Sign Bar has a new sign and offers tapas, and eventually ruled another out on finding the food stopped at six. Now if I could remember any of them, we could do something with this information...

Alan was on Newsnight. All very exciting.

November 7th
More windows-fixing. Spent the day having trouble with the cablemodem and watching Alan get filmed for an interview.

Both attempting to stave off a cold. Alan flaked out and was in bed by 8 pm.

November 6th
Windows people came back and took the windows out, filled in the gaps, and put them back in again. More to do tomorrow.

The predictable jokes were dusted off, by everyone from Alan to my sister. I am wondering what the house equivalent of a reboot is.

Still trying to understand fonts and encodings. It's all hard, but since I live in the UK and euros are used over that channel thing, I think I'm going to stick to 8859-15. Some browser tweaks will appear as I find out about them.

Found out that I could book Harry Potter film tickets now. Spent an entertaining five minutes navigating local cinema's telephone menu trying to do so. I'm sure talking to a human and saying I want this many on this day would not have taken that long. Alan claims he'll get up for it, but I think he thinks I booked for a 10pm showing. It's 10am, and it will take a while to get there, so this could be funny.

November 5th
Window-fitting people arrived today. The plan is to fit the new windows before the builders are finished so that they be made all beautiful and tidy. These are pretty large windows at the front of the house. They are also a constant source of terror, as the panes rattle even in still air. We have never dared open them in case something falls out. Like one of us, a pane of glass, or the entire window frame. I have been known to close the curtains in a storm as a shield just in case the glass did come out.

The fun really began when they took the old windows and frames out and large chunks of the surrounding wall came too. Then they found part of the new frame was the wrong size. It looked bad enough from inside the house, but returning from the shop later I realised why we had attracted a crowd of sight-seers. It looks really dramatic from outside. I felt like going out and selling tickets. Then I found this was not going to be a one-day job, and that they were going to have to come back the next day to finish it all off.

It's amazing how having no window glass makes a room feel part of the outside, not the inside.

In the meantime, Alan acquired a new laptop which this time will not fit in his pocket. He left it alone for a minute whilst hunting the Linux CDs, and came back to find me playing patience (solitaire for Americans: over here, solitaire is the game with pegs in a board and patience is the card game) and complaining Where are all the other layouts?. This dealt with (There aren't any. Gerroff), and my attempts to use the accessibility options (If it's giving me a choice of font sizes, why are all the instructions in the tiniest font?) thwarted, the turning of it into a useful Linux box began. He took great pleasure in listing all the parts in it and how it all worked with Linux as I sulked at my Vaio.

Unsurprisingly, this was another Ebay purchase. I can't understand why he finds useful stuff there and I only find rubbish, so when he said he'd found a category I'd like, I was interested. It's the general/metaphysical category or some such, which contains gems such as your own land on the moon, cauldrons full of crystals, dolphin spirit candles and (as I write this) someone's soul. I think he is taking the piss out of me. I have never wanted a dolphin spirit candle.

Tried to understand about character encodings and the web. My pages suddenly stopped validating for no apparent reason and started complaining about encodings. So I stuck a
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-15">
into it. Trying to be a good little European, I used 8895-15 instead of 8859-1. I have been bombarded with email (well, an entire three) as a result. It seems that Netscape hates this and doesn't know what to map it to, and also that (old?) Konqueror and Opera are having trouble too. Eep. Changed it to 8859-1 for a bit. I can only say that it validated and it looked fine in Lynx :) (Okay, and Mozilla..) This stuff is hard, but if it looks better (or worse), let me know. And be warned, stylesheets are still planned, so it will probably look even worse in Netscape soon.

More window-fitting tomorrow. Not the MS sort, no. With any luck, no-one will have taken all the wood away for a fire (Bonfire Night tonight).

November 4th
Alec, being immensely tall, managed finally to replace the blown lightbulb in the top floor room where the light is right up where the two sides of the roof meet. It has been unreachable for either of us or for me carred piggy-back by Alan for months. Put in an energy-efficient bulb which claims to last for three years. Then we shall need another very tall visitor.

After Alec went, I was messing about with the ethereal program. Found a massive brilliant users guide for it, but summoned Alan to explain stuff to me instead. He'd never seen it, but at least he knew what all the weird initials meant. Discovered to my vast entertainment that when you ftp from, the ftp daemon is very chatty and says Ready, dude, and Beat me, break me. Those never showed up in lftp! This is the sort of trivia that entertains me. Ethereal's a bit complicated for me, though: etherape is much easier. It has pretty pictures :) Alan seems to find all the networking stuff second nature. By contrast, I was overawed to just sit watching it and think Wow, I can see all the little packets whizzing about and watch little handshakes. (How very polite and attentive to detail they are. Not like people :)) It's just so cool.

Found out that the very cool CD was by a Tuvan band called Huun Huur Tu.

November 3rd
Woke up way late (Alan sabotaged the alarm clock) and realised it would be a good idea to tidy guest room and ensure food in the house. Was all set to hie self off to market when a ring on the doorbell heralded a Norwegian friend whom we haven't seen for some years. Much catching up and discussions of the advantage of being the only one in the company who knows how to read email along with bizarre drinks which only Norwegians with no access to stills could possibly think a good idea. Jan lives up around the Arctic circle, so I am plotting to visit and finally to see the Northern Lights.

Jan headed off for the airport and we headed off for foodstuffs. Alec arrived on time (a miracle: most people get as far as the turn-off into Swansea and then get lost) and came bearing wonderful wine and a CD I must buy of very cool music. If I had not drunk the wine, I would remember what it was. Much discussion of times past (Alec was the sysadmin on the Aber computer I first had a UNIX account on. That's -- oh dear -- 11 years ago now. DECs running ULTRIX which probably had less memory for the entire system and its many users than my laptop does now for me) and catching up on Where are they now? of friends.

Alas, no astronomy: it clouded over five minutes before he arrived. (This is also a feature of astronomy with Alec: I can remember another occasion where exactly the same thing happened, waiting for a comet in the cold hours before dawn. As it warmed up, the clouds appeared, and no comet.)

November 2nd
Another morning of Alan's snoring.

Very bad meal out to celebrate the prospect of seeing Alan a bit more now he's shucked off some work onto other people. (I am not convinced this means less hacking, it must be said, whether of kernels or nice friendly userland things.) Service was fabulous, starters fabulous, main course, um. Not so fabulous. Picked up a bottle of wine on the way home to celebrate in a more predictable fashion. In the wake of it, ended up inviting Alec Muffett to visit and show us pretty planets in telescopes. Couldn't organise calendars and in the end he asked, Well, what are you doing tomorrow? and everything was made simple.

November 1st
Alas, my tricks with the alarm clock have finally failed and Alan took revenge by sleeping in until 1.30pm, after some late night hacking. Damn. Ah well, it was nice while it lasted.

No sign of builders yet. I want my nice desk back in place.

October 31st
The water people turned up to dig holes in next door's yard. Alan went out and watched and got to see spraying fountains and hear bubbling torrents beneath the ground. Apparently it is All Fixed Now (Again). The mention of again is not reassuring. It seems a previous repair had broken...

Hallowe'en party at Justin's, complete with lanterns (I swear we used to make them out of swedes, a much tougher vegetable than pumpkin, when I was young), toy bats, and (oh dear) games. Some drinking games and some not-a-drinking-game-honest games. Avoided both. Alas, had to leave early: we suspect we may have an outbreak of building in the morning. And Alan has cottoned onto my trick with the alarm clock and realised that he has been woken at 7am, not 9am, ever since the clocks went back. I am in disgrace.

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.)