The more accurate diary. Really.

Warning: These are old.

September 2002

October 1st

Alan up at almost reasonable hours. Not impressed after he asked suspiciously, What's that funny smell? That's lavender, dear. From the polish.

LUG in evening at a curry house. Their idea of dansak way too hot. Swapped with Dick :)

Played musical trains on the way back. We had a choice between the slow train and the intercity, and opted to wait for the intercity because the slow train was late enough that there would be about two minutes between them arriving at Swansea.

As soon as the slow train left, the indicator board at the station started showing ever more dire times for the arrival of the intercity. At one period it wasn't even listed. Dick's phone and the WAP service for trains came in handy here.

Staggered back at about one in the morning. Alan promptly stayed up for hours forgetting he had to be up for (shock) nine the next day.

September 30th

Wow. Alan has hidden the computers. Well, some of them. Either that or he's Ebaying them. I can see one of the walls in the computer room now. He has also kindly left me the washing up.

Local bookshop has recently announced one of my orders will be late. Apparently a guide to style is being reprinted, because of errors in the last reprinted batch. Not what you want in a style guide, I imagine. Went in to sort out order. Accidentally bought two other books. Ahem.

Lots of running around doing non-computer stuff today. Alan has done a pile of paperwork. Wow. He has also been ordering more shelves, and I foresee a period of Insert part A into hole 28 on the future. Cunningly, he has arranged the delivery date for when he is away. I think I shall erect his upside down and see what he does then.

September 29th

Pah. Some hundreds of thousands in London to march and what did virtually all Sunday papers lead with? An affair between two junior ministers in the 1980s. Okay, one of them later became Prime Minister (John Major), but all the same, this was a bit galling. The exception to the mass coverage was the Sunday Sport, which greeted the day with the news that Saddam was breeding four-foot-tall hamsters.

The suggestion in a story that Blair is going to give into Bush and sabotage the International Criminal Court before it even starts makes me think he probably won't care too much about the demo either. Ho hum.

Back to Swansea on the train to find Alan rearranging computers again, and new improved cablemodem installed.

September 28th

To London at silly o'clock in the morning, to take part in the demonstration against starting a war with Iraq. It was gigantic. I think at least three (four?) time the numbers expected showed up. The BBC appears to have counted by the traditional method of adding police (150,000) and organiser (400,000) figures together and halving that to get a result (250,000). Apparently last weekend's Countryside Alliance demo was the first time police and organiser estimates have ever agreed, breaking the tradition that all the estimates are always different. All I know is that waiting somewhere not at the front of the march, queuing -- to the vast entertainment of a Canadian attender (How British) -- to actually start walking, we heard that those at the front had already reached the end and the speeches had started. We kept waiting for another hour after that. A whole pile of people gave up queuing to reach the start point and took a completely different route.

September 27th

Man for cablemodem came back. Some of the work was done. More to do tomorrow. No idea what's going on, but this is why Alan is in charge of this.

I callously abandoned Alan to computer and network investigations and headed off to Bristol to see friends. They had relatives staying, one of whom was Canadian and who knew Helsinki (as well as nearly every place I'd been to in Canada), and the other of whom was interested in politics and in the net. The talk flowed... :)

September 26th

We both came back with colds from Finland. Clearly we needed another sauna (it had killed my earlier cold stone dead). Alan snoozed his way through his whilst I had the washing done by 11am. Alan had caught up with his email in Finland (he took it to Valamo with him, sigh), so I d-key'd my way through mine and discovered that I had accidentally acquired a booth to organise at a show. Not the greatest timing.

Someone from NTL came around to install the new version of the cablemodem. I don't know what transpired, but he said he would have to come back the next day.

September 25th

Up early. Alan out of the hotel on his way to Nokia by half past eight. I loitered and then met up with Johanna for a chat somewhat longer than thirty seconds. She taught me lots of things I never knew about my mobile phone but we still don't know why it ate her phone number. Checked out of the hotel and started staggering around with luggage.

Then out to Viikki and the university for grilling about open source communities and processes by some researchers. Since Viikki was in the airport direction, we stayed there after lunch, and some of the LUG folk came out too. We deposited our suitcase in a car and spent the afternoon at (I think!) Viikki-Vanhankaupunginlahti: low-lying land with many reeds which is a nature reserve which attracts very many birds. There are wooden walkways to a sort of island on which is a stand you can climb to look for birds from. This island was not full of reeds, but of deciduous trees, largely more birch, which were just beginning to change colour.

After that, it was straight to the airport, onto the plane, dozing all the way, back onto the coach (just as well we were bypassing London: there was another tube strike), and the triple discovery that we'd missed one train home by five minutes; we had nearly an hour to wait for the next one; and that the severn tunnel was closed and we would be taking the alternative route, adding on another hour. Argh. Welcome back to Britain. Reached Swansea at 0145 and collapsed into bed.

September 24th

Back to Helsinki on the plane. Alan went straight to an interview whilst I went shopping with Olli and Maria for picnic food. Then we got the ferry out to Suomenlinna, one of many islands around Helsinki, where a great fortress was built, and had a picnic. One of the other LUG members came, but the rest presumably looked at the weather and decided it would be extremely windy.

We came back as the sun was setting and headed straight to a LUG meeting, This was held in the Swedish equivalent of what in Britain is called a free house: a pub not tied to one brewery. The beer list was incredible. But alas! No lakka! (Lakka is the word for cloudberry -- or bakeapple to Newfoundlanders -- and is turned into a drink I love.)

September 23rd

Wandered around the grounds of Valamo and were also treated to a tour of the monastery by another monk, who claimed to entertain high hopes that Alan might join and that I would go to the nearby nunnery. The peace of no traffic noise and no television was wonderful. (We have a solution to television noise ourselves in the form of the off switch, but no traffic is harder to arrange in a city.) In the evening, there was a meal which involved a lot of Slavic food: dill pickles with honey and cream, reindeer meat with a red jam, various fishy dishes. There was also berry wine from the monastery. I'm not sure this is typical monastery food but it was wonderful. I want to learn how to make some of that.

Broke up at what was probably an early hour for us and late for the monks: after all, they had to be in church at six the next morning.

September 22nd

The Finnish organisers had apparently decided Alan would need a rest in the fairly hectic schedule (actually, we were on the go all the time in Helsinki, so they had a point), and so today we set off for Valamo, in eastern Finland, and site of a monastery (which runs Linux...) The drive was very long, with a great many trees. Alan saw an elk hiding in the trees. I was fascinated with the maps in the service station. Everyone kept telling us that had we only been a few days later we would have seen them all turn red, but we missed it. After settling into our room (the monastery has accomodation for tourists), re-encountered Jouko, who had heard we had not yet experienced a sauna and was determined to rectify this.

I am not a person who likes getting over-hot, but well. This had to be done. And it was wonderful. Jouko lives on the shores of a lake and his wife had been preparing this sauna for hours. It never occurred to me that the wood would have such a beautiful smell, either. Jouko's wife also managed to convince me that since the lake was so near, and we were in Finland, well, of course we should go straight from the sauna to the lake.

I've heard about this before, and I have always assumed this means Finns are just mad, but no. It was really great. And to have all of this with just the sounds of the birds and the woods was wonderful.

September 21st

Linux Demo Day all day in a lovely old building in Helsinki. Caught up with old faces (hello, Mikko, hello Scott), hunted new ones, particularly a friend from Linuxchix. The Gnome in Finnish people kept saying Come and sit with us and I kept getting kidnapped before I said much whilst trying to linger there to find Johanna. Eventually, as we were leaving, there was a shout and she came flying down the steps. Aha. Arranged to meet up later, and went for a meal with Lars.

September 20th

0930 to Reading, some coach to Heathrow, plane to Helsinki. Finland's a lot further away than it looks on the map. Two time zones away as well. Arrived in the evening.

Greeted at the airport by a small cuddly penguin brandished by Brother Viktor (not my brother, a monk sort of brother) and Jouko, and then into Helsinki to settle in, have a meal, and find Alan some time to (ahem) write his talk.

Stepmber 19th

Sharon's birthday, so splendid opportunity to go out for the evening. Lurched home, wanted to fall into bed, realised should probably pack, since off to Finland in the morning. Packed.

September 16th

Alan has tidied his room amazingly. Partly by dumping things in the rest of the house of course.

Road still amazingly busy: the road where the old church caught fire is presumably still closed. Lots and lots of sirens for some reason too.

LUG meeting in the evening. We really should find a better pub: Rhys brought me some Shave the Monkey CDs from a festival. I am very happy now.

September 15th

Alan up at 1pm. Ugh.

Surprise visit in the afternoon from a friend who normally lives in Tromsø (he once gave me directions to his house which went: Fly to Oslo, drive north for two days, and turn left).

Didn't get much done in consequence. Went over to Justin's for a last-minute barbecue to catch the end of summer, and admired some gigantic spiders in the garden. Really, really gigantic. It must have been a good year for them or something.

September 14th

Alan didn't want to go down to the rugby today. Swansea promptly won. Hmm.

Got told off for being silly with the shredder. As if he wasn't. It's amazing the amount of entertainment value a simple eats things machine can provide. Bill Bryson wrote about test-driving his waste disposal unit (well, he called it garbage disposal). Alan seems inclined rather to take that article as a challege.

September 13th

Wandered out for the morning paper and spent five minutes trying to cross the road. At that hour in the morning? Discovered the answer in the newsagents: an old church building which had been undergoing conversion to flats had caught fire down the other end of the road, and a main arterial route into and out of Swansea was blocked off. The diversions were causing chaos. Another church 200 yards away apparently caught fire in sympathy at about the same time. Hmm...

I had been intending to go and take pictures of the building before it altered completely. Bit late now. It's the only building in Swansea I knew of where the graffiti was about philosophy. But you'll have to take my word for that now, of course.

Alan spent much of the evening watching terrible films whilst doing something to the computer attached to the television. It's a bit like having a cat in the room: every so often you feel compelled to look up to check he hasn't dismantled something important.

September 12th

For someone who was pretty ill the other day, I can't see how Alan is getting away with apple crumble for breakfast. Let alone for tea and supper as well. Still, he did give me a hand with user-mode Linux. Now I have a baby Debian install on that (with the devfs parts removed) and should probably go and blast the modem with apt-gets. First I need to find the approved Debian way to set up networking, though.

Actually got round to finishing some documentation started so long ago that ls -l shows the year. Ahem. Sent it for sanity-checking and now have to do half of it again. Sanity and sanity-checking, who needs it?

September 11th

Bright sun in the late morning was all over my screen. Couldn't see to get anything done on the computer so did the shopping instead. Was in town for quite a while. At 1340 in the market, the ding-dong you get before an announcement sounded, but there was no announcement. Everyone just stopped and stood still for a minute in silence.

Went hunting for books in the evening. I fear I have lost or loaned out our copy of The Shockwave Rider, and it emerges it's not readily available in the UK anymore. Swear-words.

September 10th

Last lingering doubt over. I type better in the mornings and can read my GPG-encrypted mail again.

Alan stayed in bed most of the day, with a headache and aching everywhere. He even got his lunch made for him. Then he recovered and cooked tea later, And much later, as I was going to bed, I found him making supper, too.

In the meantime he experimented more with the shredder. There is a set of labels on it which in simple graphics explain that you should not feed it paperclips, ties, or fingers. I am so disappointed.

September 9th

Rescue day. Out to the local computer shop in the morning to acquire not one but two identical hard drives. Got drenched in the rain, too. Alan unamused. Especially when I dragged him shopping as well. Returned. By the time I had put all the food away, he had removed the dying drive and inserted the other two. There. Now you can test the RAID 1 support on the beta Um, but I thought I'd stick to RH 7.3... Oh, I don't think that will let you do some of the things you said you wanted to. (If I find out he lied, he is in so much trouble.)

So now I have RAID and it's all very scary. I seem to have been talked into using usermode Linux as well. Or at least, to leave parts of the disc(s) unpartitioned to use for it later.

Whizzed through install, rsync'd /home back on, recovered my mail spool, and then fell to getting my GNOME setup to work with GNOME 2. This is, um, fun. I seem to have managed to get the panel onto one workspace only. Alan says it is wmaker's fault. I think he's just picking on me. Also managed to remap trackball to misunderstand lefthandedness and have only button 3s everywhere. Twice. Alan incredulous. Not quite sure what I did. Am sure I shall do it again, though.

RH doesn't ship exim any more. Had to configure sendmail. Scary. (How do you deal with a line like somecommand > somefile in sudo, anyway? It doesn't like it with single quotes, with double quotes, or unquoted. Weird.) RH doesn't ship ircii either, so some Epic docs-reading imminent.

Still have to sort out some corrupted mailboxes, but that's what the old backups are for :)

Only worrying thing is that either .gnupg is corrupted, I have forgotten my GPG passphrase or I just can't type.

I see Tridge won an award for free software for his work on Samba. I don't use Samba, but my word, he deserves one for rsync. I'm not sure how I'd have got everything over to the other box without it. I could have restored from the old backups, but this way has kept more. Thank you, rsync team.

September 8th

So in the last few days I made some fatal mistakes.

Today, loading a mailbox in mutt, I was greeted by the sound of my oggs stopping and gronk gronk gronk emanating from the drive. Oooooh dear. Mutt appeared to hang. Something told me All Was Not Well.

Well, I suppose a few years ago, I'd have either done all the wrong things or screamed for Alan to rescue his poor little wife. I did yell for him, in case it was something I could blame on him (and the first thing he did was to say Oooh. Is it a $VENDOR drive? It was indeed. How does he know these things?). I have rarely had to resort to telinit 1 and shooting down anything that might conceiveably write to disc before rsync'ing /home, /var/spool/mail and /etc over the network to the box with the largest amount of free space before. Oh, for my lost uptime. 200 days. No wonder X was getting a bit large on top: it's been running all that time.

To Justin's to watch more films in the evening and to ponder which of the options for restoring my desktop (ie, the one I use all the time, not something I sacrifice to all the betas going) made the most sense.

September 7th

Parliament is still in recess and has not been recalled. Evidently Blair doesn't want any pesky debates before declaring war. This leaves the Parliament Channel with nothing to show. So, for some reason, they showed all the 1979 election night broadcast today. Fascinating stuff. (Really.) I was only nine at the time so did not stay up for it. This is the first time I've seen a lot of this: Callaghan's kept-his-seat speech being heckled by one of the other candidates; Thorpe losing his seat with an Old Bailey trial beckoning (I never understood that at the time: for some reason, John Craven's Newsround didn't seem to go into detail on that one) and predicting that North Devon would be a Liberal seat again in the future (well, it took a while, but he was mostly right, if you count Liberal Democrat as Liberal, at least); and earnest debates on the future of nationalism after Plaid lost Carmarthen and the SNP went down to two seats.

One of the highlights of the coverage was apparently The Computer (called Rover) which generated pretty pictures and would produce predictions of the overall results :)

September 6th

Sun. Rain. Wind. Pouring. Sun. Rain. Drizzle. No sooner do I leave a window open, get downstairs and look out of the window, it's pouring again. Run up. Rescue carpet. Go down. Sunny again. Welcome to Wales.

Alan has finally returned his shredder. And got a new one. He tested it for ages and then left it in my room. Now he is wondering where his passport is. I hope the two are not related.

First Swansea home match in the evening. I thought Swansea were moving to a different stadium, but apparently not, so wandered down to St Helens with Alan. Rainy. Found ourselves surrounded by a million Neath RFC umbrellas.

Swansea started as they mean to go on. They lost. Embarrassingly so. Innumerable knock-ons, spilled passes, and a sin-binning. On the bright side, the guy next to us turned out to be someone I hadn't seen for about five years. And on the other side I kept hearing snatches of hilarious commentary from someone with a very dry wit.

September 5th

Another from the collective LUG brain: IBM's page of dying hard drive noises. I had been intending to wire this up to the alarm clock to wake Alan (this has been a long-running scheme) but in the end opted to play them because he was being rude about my CDs. So I put a new one on. He complained there was no bass and what were these silly noises, anyway? Sigh.

After I explained, we had to go through the entire list of noises, and then he dug out an old Western Digital drive which was mostly dead. We have an even better Star Trek phaser noise than IBM does, apparently. And I can now confidently diagnose it as head stuck to platter.

There was absolutely nothing on television, and Alan wanted to watch Apollo 13 for about the fifty-eighth time, until I prevailed and we finally watched the whole of The Third Man together instead. Now he finally understands why I wanted to see the Riesenrad when we were in Vienna two years ago.

September 4th

I seem to be running to stay in the same place these days, but I did at least see something of Alan today. He is very happy: he has found a scenario gdm (Gnome display manager) can't cope with; he has fixed up some X stuff; and he has got some weird helmet thing that looks like a Blakes 7 prop to work. The attraction of it is that it controls the pointer on your screen, so he can tilt his head and move the pointer about. Tried it, but got a headache rapidly: it was set up for someone Alan's height. It cost 10 on Ebay :)

LUG in Cardiff in the evening. Even had attender from Aberystwyth, so thought we'd better get there from Swansea :) Strange tales told, including one of a friend on holiday in France who found the television set was voice-activated: it would turn on and off at some sounds, and go up a channel when you said Cheh (like the first syllable of chequebook). This discovery inspired the kids to shout at the television for a day to find more syllables that worked. They found something that worked to turn it down a channel. Now we are all wondering what on earth this television was, and what these words mean: are they French? Korean? (TV was Korean, apparently.)

Alan to bed extremely late, bringing the sad news of the death of Leonard Zubkoff. I met him once, at OLS, and have vivid memories of that meal with him and Jaylene in the sun. Very sorry to hear this news.

September 3rd

Poor old Grauniad. I was startled last Thursday to see a picture of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland in a round-up of images of global pollution. By the time I had finished laughing at this and gone hunting for the corrections address, it seems lots of people had beaten me to it. And there must have been a lot of them. I have never seen three corrections (for the same thing) in five days before. First there was a brief note in the daily corrections; then it came up in the weekly Readers' Editor column; and today, one of the feature editors has a penitent full-page article about the place. Dear me.

Found cool Indonesian restaurant locally. Alan clearly has every intention of working his way up the menu to the really hot stuff. The non-hot stuff is gorgeous.

Alan up until ungodly hours.

September 2nd

Apparently my mono account had its tenth birthday earlier this year. Coo.

Discovered why one of the Sunday papers had the most surreal summary of part of Lord of the Rings earlier this year. It had been reading a glorious summary of the characters and plot. I would not advise reading this before you read the books, btw. It may confuse :)

Saw Alan for about two hours over the entire course of the day. Dunno what he's doing, but obviously there's a lot of it.

September 1st

Really must truncate diary, yes.

Dragged Alan out into the sunshine in the afternoon. Lots of people out on the beach. Quite unlike the other night. I think I prefer it when it's just me. There was a queue at Joe's the ice-cream parlour which stretched out of the door, across the pavement, and almost onto the road.

My ice-cream melted. Alan laughed at me.

Trying to get a sed pattern to match, gave up, tried ed to see what happened in that, and then started playing with vim. I have shied away from vi ever since a Nasty Accident about two weeks into my first time with UNIX. I still don't know the reason for what happened. I just remember the horror.

I am consequently hopeless at regexps, a hopelessness not helped by the decision of the O'Reilly book to explain everything by means of NFAs and DFAs and to keep referring to this all the way through the book. I pretty much gave up until a friend asked Why on earth are you asking about those? Are you writing a regexp parser or just trying to learn regexps? (Thanks, Mary, for explaining!) Trouble is, I do remember simple ed commands. Bit the bullet and started vim. Discovered vimtutor. Have not yet broken it.

August 31st

One of the problems with living with a hacker is the work hours. Alan has never quite separated work and fun, and consequently spends most of the weekends on the computer unless he's asleep or I think up something fun to do that is even more fun than staring at oopses and hardware specs. It's harder than it sounds to think up things that are more fun than that.

However, I now know I shall see him downstairs for at least a few hours at weekends (provided, that is, that he doesn't get too attached to the TV card upstairs). The rugby season has started...

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.)