The more accurate diary. Really.

Warning: These are old.

On with the diary. If the fonts are wrong then this may explain it.

January 2002

February 1st
More tar discoveries. The --exclude option wants leading slashes taken off it, I think. I can't find it in the man or info pages, but I have a list of bugs in the docs now instead. Turns out that if I don't include the oggs, /home goes from 4.9bG to 0.6Gb.

Tethys let me know where I'd messed up a stylesheet and showed me how to add pretties from CSS3 (do they never stop) so that at least Mozilla would see them. I have the terrible feeling that this ridiculous style I was playing with will turn into something pretty now.

It's getting quite windy here. The Six Nations rugby starts this weekend, and lots of Welsh fans are trying to get across the Irish Sea to Dublin. I hope it's more exciting that the morass Swansea have got themselves into.

Alan spent most of the day hacking until I dragged him out for a meal (reason we eat out so much: no computers at restaurants). It was a leave-the-hat-behind night. Alan's would have gone sailing off into the wind. I wasn't confident my woolly one would survive either.

January 31st
Alan got up before me today. When I asked why he'd got up (which is not normally his favourite option) he looked perplexed and then decided, Don't know in a puzzled tone of voice.

He has successfully put the laser printer back together but it still doesn't work. Naturally it remains in my room as a result. He has also created a Telsa-trap in his room. Yesterday I wandered in and stopped to find I couldn't get any further: huge pieces of machinery were blocking my way in. I had to call him to move it before I could reach him. He found this funny. Today there was nothing visible there, so I bounded in and then ended up on the floor saying very rude words after treading on a number of case screws in bare feet. He thought that was funny too. I am not sure I shall look tomorrow.

January 30th
Analog says lots of people are reading this page, so I thought I'd better put something in it. Analog also says that at least a couple of people have looked at the rest of the site. No-one has complained about the stylesheets, so I think I'll just go ahead and change this page too, since it's the last one.

I don't have a fantasy font, so I can't tell how silly my silly purple style is. (Possibly I got the syntax wrong.) Panic not, however. I am not going to use that. I shall probably use the default one from my test page. There are three there atm: doubtless I shall play with some more some time.

Got so thoroughly confused with bugzilla that when I discovered it was my own fault I sulked and went off to do something entirely different. I've never learned LaTeX, so I muddled through a tutorial and printed out a recipe. Apparently there is a recipe style (there's probably a million) I need now. Then I can print them all out and put them into a covered binder in the kitchen.

I am bored with Alan being ill. Fortunately, so is he. He was up and hacking happily fairly early. Now he is taking a laser printer apart somewhere behind me and generating alarming crunching noises.

January 29th
The sweet one is recovering. Oh dear. He is well enough to eat now, but not to wash up, answer my questions, or do anything he doesn't want to do.

I have the feeling he's playing this up.

January 28th
Alan still not at all well. Managed half an hour of email and then back to bed.

Chased Parcelforce up after they tried to deliver whilst we were out. I don't fancy getting into the Yes, we do live at this address game again.

Counted up our right and wrong answers to the King William Christmas Quiz. Oh dear.

Well, we knew we had no clue on Rochdale, but smallpox? And I reckon Stratford was right too, but they have a different answer. Our chemistry fanatic insists that 6.5 is correct, so perhaps there were two answers. Similarly for 17.7. One of our alternatives for 14.5 was right, but I suppose we miss there, too. And explanations for 14.7 would have been nice. We figured out the rest, but this is still driving me crackers. Why is that the answer?

I make it 11 sections completely right. And anything from 8 to 12 answers wrong depending on whether misspelling names is allowed or not. So there we are. I suppose we did alright, but next year... Next year, we shall get the lot. (If you care, here's our answers which have the advantage of explanations. More than the Guardian could be bothered to do. Hmph.)

January 27th
Oh dear. Alan is not probably ill. He is definitely ill. I don't think he's enjoying the experience.

Caught up with much email, discovered some had been lost for ever, quailed at the thought of how much we might have had if it hadn't got lost.

January 26th
Plane down to Bristol, coach to station, trains to Swansea. Guess which one of those was late. (Actually two were late. Both the trains.)

Out for a meal with friends in the evening. Alan ordered, then decided to go home. We have been seeing headlines about winter gastritis and strange mystery bugs since we got back. Oh dear. Demonstrating uxorial support, I stayed. Someone had to eat his order after all.

Alan tucked up in bed before midnight, so probably ill.

January 21st to January 25th
To sister's, then to Paris for two nights, then back. Much fun, and I have an excuse to drag out the € symbol again whilst I lament the fact that my sister got more non-French Euro coins than I did.

Discovered that I can no longer remember French lessons; muddled through; climbed lots of tall buildings (except for that horrible monstrosity of a black skyscaper: no-one will admit to knowing what it is in the tourist guides, but oh! it's ugly); had some wonderful meals; met Mathieu (Gnome friend) for drinks; introduced Alan to toilets that he hadn't seen before (Someone's stolen the bowl...); was mildly surprised to discover you really can find people reading Descartes at the table next to you in cafes in the Latin quarter; cringed at some embarrassing loud English tourists (What if you were caught short at the top of the Eiffel Tower? Would it, like... <snipped>); got lost in the Gare du nord; enjoyed the trains (I begin to wonder whether Britain's trains will one day just be a memory); missed the Musée d'Orsay and the Louvre; watched Alan try to get inside the bell at Nôtre Dame; admired the generosity of the barman at Beauvais airport (he just sloshes 'em in, dispensing with the measures); and returned home (for definitions of home involving sister's), admiring yet another crashed Windows display at Prestwick airport (which is a blasted heath with a windsock, but unlike Swansea airport, it has planes).

This sounds ridiculously extravagant, but it was a birthday trip planned long ago for my sister, and alarmingly, it was cheaper than three returns to London.

January 20th
Stopped overnight with friends and their very cheerful and bouncy dog, which likes Alan so much that after a long walk in the rain (which Alan avoided), it ran straight in to say hello to Alan and decorated his trousers with muddy footprints. The trouble is, it's so friendly that you can't help but laugh. Well, I can't.

Plane (how jetsetting it sounds, but appallingly, it's cheaper than the train and is much more likely to arrive on a Sunday, which is the day for all the engineering works which cause train chaos) to sister's for her birthday and the Great Birthday Plot.

January 19th
I am a rain goddess. Popped out down to post office. Blue sky went grey. Localised deluge erupted. Arrived at post office. Rain stopped. Came back out. Blue sky! And deluge! I don't know how. It was all very silly.

I fear more mail testing is on the horizon. Please bear with me whilst everything disappears..

...and whilst we disappear to make a long-overdue trip.

January 18th
A collection of web personality tests on tell me that I am male and likely to make a million dollars. I am also shy and don't talk a lot. I don't know why people bother to lie on these things: the results are surreal enough when you tell the truth.

Alan has promised to remove the laser printer.

January 17th
Mail returned, but the sheer quantity of mail that backlogged in less that 24 hours is scaring me. Ran away from it all for a bit. Gnome 2 alpha desktop came out. Time to Break Stuff (especially as no-one has replied to that thread at all yet, and someone has to. Hint!)

Alan's latest Ebay toy is a laser printer than doesn't work. It is, of course, down in my room, along with the packaging from both it and the last three million parcel arrivals courtesy of Ebay. I am unimpressed. He is happy, though: something new to take apart.

January 16th
Alan has decided to improve the mail system. He switched the box off, went to improve it and...

...the doorbell rang, bearing gifts from Ebay.

I foresee no mail for a while longer.

January 15th
No-one in Swansea sells either hippie trousers made of patchwork or plain leggings anymore. I am sad.

Spent all day waiting for the people who cancelled at the end of the day yesterday to show up, with one or both of us in the house ready to leap to the door. They didn't show. I wonder how people who have to take days off for people to show up deal with things when they don't.

Alan is claiming I crashed the television. Sigh.

January 14th
Things you don't want to see when you turn the monitor on in the morning after kicking first attempt at a backup off:

tar: /dev/st0: Wrote only 0 of 10240 bytes
tar: Error is not recoverable: exiting now
[hobbit@aloss hobbit]$

I have now learned the option --multi-volume. Perhaps I should learn how to exclude mozilla caches and so forth.

Ventured down into the cellar. It is dry. I am stunned. Now we get a pump to keep it that way, and it's all done. Or so I devoutly hope.

January 13th
Mentioning yesterday's sun was a mistake. Low-lying mist today so that we couldn't see the end of the street.

We really should do some shopping: we are down to ingredients which do not mecessarily lend themselves to obvious combinations. Ate in front of the telly and discovered Blakes 7 is now being reshown in the evenings as well as the mornings. I am very happy. Blakes 7 is cool.

Alan must have something interesting on hand. He stopped watching Scrapheap repeats and went upstairs to hack. (Yes, it could have been to check Ebay, but I live in hope.)

Played some more with stylesheets, on pages which people don't actually read. They look pretty here. They probably look dire everywhere else. They look exactly the same with Lynx though. Next stop, other media types, and getting the things to cascade. I'll probably work that out by about 2005. Oh well.

January 12th
It can't be January. The sun shining through the windows was bright and hot. So I put all the washing on an airer directly under it and not over the computers as threatened.

Watched DVDs with friends at Justin's in the evening. Shocked to discover that there are people in student-land who have not yet seen the Princess Bride. Inconceivable. Remedied this situation in one person's case.

January 11th
Decorating inside finished. Decorator put most of the door handles back on so we can now shut doors. (In a draughty house, this is a good thing.) Inevitably, some parts have gone missing, so I should really say that we can now shut most doors. Or that we can shut them with reasonable presumption that they will open again, at least. One of them has no handle, lacking another important part too (the bit that turns the thing) and another has screws which don't hold it on. Oh well. Fresh air is good for you.

Went to collect old mail archives to learn how to back them up (thanks to those who sent suggestions, btw). Found Mail/hobbit.027.to.Jan99, Mail/hobbit.028.to.Feb99 and so on and nothing earlier. Had a very horrible moment of heart dropping into stomach, and recalled moving them onto another machine when space got tight and Alan was getting enthusiastic with rm. I have the nasty feeling the spare disk from that got recycled into another machine and lost to a Debian and Mandrake dual-booting machine which was of course installed from scratch.

I do not feel very happy about this.

Alan acquired a new toy. He put it in my room to test it. It is very noisy. It has now been moved. Permanently.

January 10th
Parcelforce think we exist again. I have my books. Alan does not have his computer bits. Oh dear. Domestic disharmony in the offing.

I discovered wet paint today. Guess how. It has mostly come off me now.

January 9th
Alan up late and unwell. He went through his parcels and deliveries and letters merrily enough, but when his other parcel failed to arrive and a phone call to the supplier established that yes, it had come by Parcelforce and been returned to the supplier because the recipient (Alan) Doesn't live here any more, he became displeased. I realise he is rarely seen in office hours, but I can vouch for the fact that he is definitely here.

Began to wonder where my resend of my Amazon stuff had got to. Apparently it was coming first class last month, and it's not yet been sent. I can see it's going to be one of those weeks. Or months. Or... no. No. Not years. A polite call to them got it moving.

Wonder when the Guardian will publish the quiz answers. We never quite got them all. Sniff. If lots of students go back with answers involving a complete catalogue of diseases in Rochdale, you know they've been looking here. One answer that hasn't made it in (Nat! Update, update!) is that there might be a link with a person mentioned later in the quiz.

January 8th
Alan had to answer the door again and consequently has fixed the doorbell. He is apparently waiting for something to arrive by post, and after the last delivery was returned because we don't live here any more (don't ask me, but that's what the Parcelforce person said when explaining where my Amazon delivery had got to last month), we have to listen out in case.

The decorators are back, doing their decoration thing. It's all looking pretty; the rolls of the right pattern have finally arrived; and after this there is just the outside rendering to do. That requires a few non-rainy days in a row, so that's probably spring.

Alan up late again.

January 7th
Poor Alan. He got to bed as I was getting up. On the bright side, the box that died now lives again. Whee. Tired Alan. And then it emerged that the doorbell chime downstairs doesn't work, so I didn't hear it whilst I was downstairs and he had to be up again to let the decorators (who are back, yay) in. Oops. And then he was up again by noon. Just so long as it wasn't to browse Ebay.

Fruitless act of new year is generally to ring and see whether I can give blood again yet. The very first time I saw a session and I was over eighteen, I bounded in, gave blood, and was on my way out of the door when everything went blurry and I woke up on the floor. It had been a very hot day and I don't do too well in heat. It was just my bad luck to discover the most dramatic form of this at a blood session. Because shortly after, I got a letter asking me please not to come back, because such incidents might put other potential donors off. And every time I've been back since, as soon as I mention that bloody letter, people have told me to go away. It's so annoying.

But this time I rang up the blood people and asked, and the rules have been changed and I can try again. Whee.

LUG meeting in the evening. It's amazing how long you can spend in a pub. Started at 6pm, and when it ended at chucking-out time (2320-ish here) some people headed for curry. Alan not back until 2am, and I have no idea what time he actually slept.

Added stylesheets to some pages. No-one complained. I suspect no-one noticed.

About a year ago, I put a link from my diary on Advogato to a page by Jamie Zawinski about the emacs cut buffer and kill ring worked. I didn't understand any of it (or, indeed, what those are, not being an emacs user), but it did explain the difference between primary selections and clipoboards and other X gubbins which people seem to ask about a lot. It wasn't actually supposed to be about X selections in general, but since people kept looking there for it, he updated it. Which is very cool. I nearly understand three paragraphs now.

January 6th
Alan up increasingly late. Pestered him unmercifully to update diary. He got about a week further, then got sidetracked.

Later he decided one of the boxes needed upgrading, and destroyed both the RH installer and the box. Not impressed. I have files on there, including mail archives going back to to 1990. He pointed out I had my very own tape drive now, and could back up my own files. I am not sure I approve of Christmas presents which mean I get to do more things I don't know how to do. Read the man page for tar again, whilst wishing I had copied all the files over. To bed very late indeed, for one reason and another. No sign of Alan. Hoping for builders and parcel delivery tomorrow, so I suppose I get to play porter at the door. Alas, doorbell is dodgy, so let's hope I hear it.

January 5th
Alan headed out to post an alarming quantity of cheques for ebay purchases. He swears they're all very small cheques.

Listened to the first installment of Lord of the Rings on the radio, with friends listening along on the net via the streaming ogg vorbis. Apparently the BBC's ogg experimentation is finished now. I hope they did well. Later, watched an earlier Ebay acquisition of Alan's: the cartoon version of the same book. I remember seeing that when I was little, and queuing up the side of the cinema for it, too.

Dark and gloomy and wet outside, so messed around with gnomemeeting for a lot of the day. Started with the stuff off the RH CDs in extra-binge, or whatever the thing is called, but upgraded to a later version to get rid of a nasty crash. Broke it horribly in a variety of ways. This is fun! Alan got involved. We only have one webcam (which is surely enough for anyone) and the microphone proved not to be happy. Alan still managed to send me lots of silly messages. Pestered the author and FAQ writer unmercifully.

Interrupted only by someone from Bristol, who had come to take away something Alan had sold on Ebay. Hooray! To my disgust it was only a small thing. Have to try again..

January 4th
I am having doubts about the Euro-happiness changes. I now have a reproducible X crash, which seems to have something to do with drawing characters. I have a bad feeling I know the connection...

Alan caused chaos by trying to write a... um. Creation. A window managing environment. In javascript. I don't understand this but it involves windows within my browser that I can drag around within Mozilla. I could drag it around but alas, it stuck to my mouse pointer and I couldn't drop it again. Lots of other fun effects happened. None of them were intentional though. The resulting IRC discussion has now gone on for about three hours, and descended into depths I do not wish to plumb. Comments about sorting object pointers in order to call then with best paging results, flagging objects to need no finalisation effects, and allocators and allocation of multiple small nodes with few references abound. The particuarly scary part is that Alan kept coming up with comments from his AberMUD days: it seems MUDs and browsers have common issues. That was the one part I understood.

Amazing how you can be so proud of successfully patching something and thinking I'm getting there. Then a conversation like that crops up and you think, Um, no.

1830 and Justin suggests heading out for a meal. To my horror, I understood almost all of the conversation. People present: Alan (works for RH), Dick (works for Ximian, Justin (works for Caederus, Sharon (computer science student) and me. Um. I am not supposed to understand such conversation unless it applies to How to win at Aisleriot. I am worried. Then again, I have only to think back to the conversation of earlier.

Alan recently broke the news that ebay had had a period when you could auction stuff without some normal fee, and that thus he had been placing lots of bids. Today was the end day for several of the auctions. Thank goodness. Annoyingly, he has won some again.

January 3rd
Destruction Day.

It started when I gave one of the newly-decorated doors a tug and the door handle came off. In two pieces. Oops. I should have taken this as a hint for the rest of the day.

Note to self: building new mail programs is all well and good, but it helps to remember that I read mail on several machines. Better yet, one is old enough not to have a prerequisite that the mutt src.rpm wanted. Summoned Alan. Removed the bits saying include this library and whinge if it's not present. Finally got it up to date everywhere. I expect the distro update to arrive any second now.

People staggering back from Christmas breaks now.

My Christmas present arrived, courtesy of Ebay. Alan has bought me... a tape drive. Um. I think he's bored of my You did remember the backups, didn't you? fretting. I think this is a hint. The half-hour downtime turned into four hours, as things got switched around, substituted, and all the other processes I associate with fitting things into a case. Now I have to learn some more tar options: I have been doing very nicely for years with c,v,t,v,f and z. Except for the very first time I tried to make a tar file. Many years ago. I didn't understand the syntax and thus didn't give the name of a file for the output. So it wrote all over the tape in the drive, which was (a) sitting there after a backup; (b) world-writable; and (c) the source of much annoyance to the poor person who got laughed at for leaving the tape in the drive. So I have never been too keen on getting too experimental with tar.

Tested the tape. Fixed the kernel (wouldn't boot, so summoned Alan). Put the old network card back (new one Alan tried to palm off on me wouldn't work). Reset the clock (stupid BIOS). Tried to stop box going to sleep when idle, or I won't be able to receive mail on it. Not sure that's worked. Found Debian HOWTO for Euro symbols. Stared dolefully at it. It mentioned fonts. I hate fonts. Summoned Alan :) Instructed to make it work. He did. Now I can type (so I am going to, just to show off) and now I can see it. Next trick: find out why I can't select a single character, either from a gnome-terminal or a character picker applet.

Well, we're not joining this Euro-mechanism thingy in the UK (yet..?), so whilst European friends are watching their coins to see how long it takes before they get a foreign Euro (there are national designs on one side), this is the closest I get.

January 2nd
Fun and games. Started to build a new mutt. Realised it had been so long that I'd had to rebuild anything that I had forgotten how to edit specfiles.

After a lot of messing about and then setting Alan at the problem, found out how to get a Euro character to show up in gnome-terminal in an en_GB locale on RH 7.2. export LC_CTYPE=en_IE@euro. Ugh. RH-specificness, gnome-terminal, fonts and locales all in one. Still didn't seem happy about producing a Euro, though.

Got side-tracked from doing anything useful like filing bugs after Alan mentioned needing to install Mozilla 0.9.7 to look at the DOM viewer. Wossat, then? One minute, it has to be in the menu somewh-- Oooh. Messed with lots of things. It hasn't crashed yet.

January 1st
Matthew and Danielle departed in search of planes and travel. Waah. I thought they were staying for longer. Oops. We now have a lot of food to eat up.

I caught a pile of the Blue Planet episodes on the television and was entranced. Can I have this as a screensaver?

December 31st
Flying visit from Matthew and Danielle. Wandered into town to expose them to Welshcakes, but could not tempt them to take laverbread back to Canada because the market stall was closed. Waah. Danielle wandered blithely through Swansea completely failing to notice the temperature was hovering at freezing point. Perhaps I shouldn't visit Canada in winter.

Inevitable party in the evening. Justin had a most bizarre video involving animated lego pieces replacing the characters in Monty Python's Holy Grail. Tequila events occurred, but we survived and spilled out into the street to watch the fireworks and pounce on passers-by with cries of Happy New Year. I could swear the same taxi has been in the same place at the same time that night for about four years running now.

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.)

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