The more accurate diary. Really.

Warning: These are old.

October 2002

November 1st

Goodness me. A Wales international where they didn't lose. I know now that the Welsh for Romania is Rwmania.

Cellar getting all wet again. So nice to know how well the damp-proofing and so on worked.

October 31st

After the wind, more rain.

To Justin's to watch videos. The plan was to watch various horror films, but we all arrived bearing vastly different ideas of what other people wanted to see. Whoops.

October 30th

We have an intact bathroom with no hole in the floor now. No toilet roll holder either, mind you (how could we forget that?) but no hole. Whee.

Alan has built lots of shelves in the cellar and now all the stuff he refuses to throw out is going down there. Wellies (wellington boots: I don't know the American for these!) ; pointless was a useful tool until we lost half of it things; and so on.

October 29th

I can't leave Alan alone for a minute without him putting things down on my desk, which I try to keep clear. This time, though, he excelled himself. I came back into my room to discover flat packs containing his new computer chair, two lots of shelves for me, more racking to replace some dying racking we already have, and even more shelving for down in the cellar were spread all over the room, and the doorbell was dissected on my desk.

The stuff for the cellar is like giant meccano and great fun. The stuff for my room should turn into two lots of shelves which fit in the alcoves. There are four alcoves, all with different sizes. We have measured them all. Alan's pretty good at this: the IKEA stuff fits with something like two inches to spare; and the cellar stuff fits with about the same gap. So naturally, I was fairly confident this would fit, too.

We have proved true all the cliches about MFI furniture. The square result was not really square until after judicious application of a hammer. Once the shelves were in place, Alan attempted to lift it the way I do with all bookcases: hands under the shelf and lift. The shelf went up, the rest stayed put, there was a splendid noise, and we had two parts again. (Back to the hammer...)

And after all that, it didn't fit the damn alcove. We trundled it around every alcove, flat piece of wall, or corner we had. In all cases, it was either unstable, wouldn't fit, or looked stupid. Eventually, we discovered it would actually go in through what I shall gloss over as lateral thinking. It will never come out again, but it's in.

Only problem is: there's two of them...

October 28th

Apparently the winds were much higher than expected. This surprises me. It is almost two years to the day since we had similar winds, and I remember large parts of the fence coming down in the old house around this season too.

Should have gone to LUG in evening; but the bathroom people were here until late and we missed the train.

October 27th

Some very clever people read this diary. I can't think they why do, but I'm grateful that they do, especially when they fix my Mutt colour-removing woes in triplicate:

white is grey. To get white, you need brightwhite. So color whatever black brightwhite gets black letters on a (real) white background. Or you can do color whatever default default and it uses whatever your terminal is using. Or you can say I am not a terminal that does funky colours before running mutt: TERM=vt100 mutt.

I had better put these in my muttrc on the web before I forget. Thank you, people.

It has been a bit windy overnight. Trees are down, roads are blocked, trains are disrupted (no change there), and I slept through it blissfully and woke to a fresh, if blustery, dry day. As the day continued, watched various people on IRC start to comment on the weather: you could practically track it across Britain and through Denmark and Germany.

The smoke alarm kept going off. The building work has obviously got dust flying about, and we think it must be inside one of the alarms. It's a very loud alarm: and you can't switch it off entirely. (The day we do, of course, we'll have a real fire.) After the third piercing wail in two hours, caught Alan up a ladder vacuuming the alarm. Bizarre image, perhaps, but it seems to have worked.

Highest recorded winds, according to the late-night weather on the radio: 96mph. At the Mumbles, down the road from us.

October 26th

Perhaps it's because I don't watch Big Brother. But I thought My Little Eye was a really really terrible film. The first half summed up what I always imagined reality shows to be like: a lot of boring people sitting around doing nothing but be unpleasant to each other and be set up by the company. The second half was ushered in by a remarkable revelation: you can create extremely powerful internet connections from abandoned GPS machines (which I had never seen before: I had no idea what it was). I am tempted to rant at length, but since I was caught out by seeing a spoiler in advance (whoever put the ending into the IMDb comments should be ashamed of themselves) I had better not do the same.

Got extremely wet on the way to the cinema. This is all the more remarkable because we only had about forty metres to go from the car to the door. On the way out, we discovered a new Welsh Water resource: Lake Car Park.

October 25th

More fire alarms from dust in the air. This is not at all good news: there are warnings out about severe weather over the weekend, so the dust isn't going to get much chance to settle.

More fireworks in the evening. I think this is the first time I have been so fed up of Bonfire Night before it's even happened. Walking around in the evening, I nearly jumped out of my skin when a hissing fizzing noise streaked down the street. Someone had set a firework off down it.

In other news, finally got the Mozilla-with-Xft-1.2 beta rpms. Looked for new preferences to play with. Saw some old ones I hadn't set too. Toggled a whole load and ended up with this remarkable result (34kb). On viewing it, a friend remarked Wow, I didn't know Mozilla had an ncurses theme. She has a point.

Went giggling to Alan and then wailing to Blizzard, who found the answer on #mozillazine, I think. (Thank you, whoever it was who knew I should turn user_pref("", true) back to false

The lesson for today is do not meddle with things you do not understand, I think :)

October 24th

No more fire alarms today from the bathroom today. Whee. Alan got up before me. Hee.

Discovered another set of CDs I hadn't ogg'd yet. Did so. Spent the rest of the afternoon singing along to more Flanders and Swann.

October 23rd

Bathroom fixing continues apace. As does setting off the smoke alarm with the dust. Scarily, as I finished typing the words smoke alarm, it went off again.

In a quest to tidy up my desktop (in the computer sense: my real desk is beautifully tidy except for the things Alan dumps there because there is convenient space to fill), located and nuked about 30 gnome-terminals and about 10 mozillas. Found a half-completed registration form for LCA in one. Completed it. It's only been sitting there for about a week. Oops. Suppose it's time to play the visa for Australia game again.

October 22nd

I always used to like the sound of the French word enrhumé for having a cold. It seemed to me to connote I am en-colded somehow: surrounded by a cold, set upon by a cold. Today, I am very encolded. I spent most of it in bed feeling sorry for myself.

October 21st

Alan has brought me a present back from Sweden. He has brought me a cold. How kind. Builders came round and ripped out large parts of the bathroom to get at the floor, which bends when you stand on it.

People came and delivered pieces of replacement bathroom bits. Needless to say, they are not in the bathroom yet. Were faced with choice between take-out or eating out since we can't reach the table or the cutlery. Went for hot food to see off cold. This sabotaged the rest of the plan. Dog Soldiers came out at the DVD shop today. Only to rent, but that will do for now. By the time Alan had explained where half my mail had gone and we had gone out and come back, there was no time to watch it. Meanie.

Ah yes. The mail. First, if you are the proud recipient of spam from, that is not my account and I'm getting it too. Second, if you have sent me mail to the address at the bottom of this page, then I do have it. It is just on a completely different machine now, to which I had no password until earlier tonight. That machine clearly needs to meet spamassassin, too, since I count five legit emails out of the few I've read so far.

Since it's not my machine, I can't do my usual trick of commenting out all the color (sic) lines in /etc/Muttrc, and it's all gone freaky. I tried turning all the colours into black on white and instead I have black on dark grey. Email may take some time to read at this rate. All I want is mutt not to set any colours at all. I like my boring black on white terminals. Time to read the manual again.

October 20th

Went tile-shopping for the next (and ye gods, it had better be the last) stage of house repair. Alan and I have such different tastes that this has been pretty much a doomed effort every other time. This time, however, I had a plan.

The plan went: work out what Alan might conceivably like which I like; work out what he would hate; enthuse about all the ones he'd hate (Look! It's purple! Urrgh); and offer to compromise on the other one.

What was particularly good about this plan is that we ended up not getting the damn penguins. I can cope with happy penguins, and t-shirts and mugs with them on. I can cope with sponsoring a penguin. I don't think I can cope with decorating the house to match an operating system.

Fortunately, Alan was not enamoured of stumbling into a bathroom adorned by penguins on the walls either.

Got back, congratulating ourselves on being a week early and in plenty of time. Promptly received a phone call: could the builders start tomorrow, please, at 8am? The skip would arrive then, and all the materials, and we'd just need to store them (the materials, not the skip) in the house for a while.

Put the heating on. Apparently winter has sneaked in early. The winds are certainly high. Last week, we were messing around on the beach and dodging the tide. This week, the lifeboat's been out rescuing people. Lots of rain, too. The cellar flooded again. Hope there's not much more rain. When things flood, it's generally the fire brigade who get called out. They've just voted to strike.

October 19th

Wandered into town to locate someone off the LUG list and deliver Debian CDs to them. Managed not to buy any more books whilst there.

Alan got the 1600 from Paddington (due in around 1900) and we spent a merry hour attempting to maintain a phone call for more than two minutes at a time as it meandered through countryside which is supposed to have ample mobile phone coverage. Arranged to visit friends at 8pm, which seemed ample. Train arrived substantially late. Surprise!

Round to friends. Again. I now owe Justin about eight meals and Sharon about twelve bottles of wine. Justin and Sharon unconvinced by my claims that I had located chairs and would soon be able to cook for more than two people at a time. (Yes, every time more than two people have been mentioned as eating here in the past year, this has involved a meal on the floor or someone balanced on the computer stool. The priorities in this house baffle me, too.)

Swansea hammered comprehensively by Leinster, Current status: won two games out of eight, and still a tenner to watch. For shame!

October 18th

Why is it that Dog Soldiers, a British film which was released on about two screens in total in the US, is going to be available on DVD via before has even heard of it? I did find a copy (where copy is probably the exact word) on EBay, too, but the Region 0, reasonable sound and picture, no picture on the box description makes it sound not quite what I am looking for somehow.

October 17th

Had a day away from computers. It would be nice to say that I got lots of things done, but no. I did read a lot of books though.

October 16th

More Gnome stuff. Mikael wasn't at the release team meeting, because he was giving a talk at the same show as Alan. At the same time. All the teachers and marketers apparently sat in Alan's talk about how to write device drivers. Not sure how useful that is for marketers, but oh well.

LUG in the evening. More Gnome. Being in a pub has another advantage: you can't hear fireworks. I am getting a bit tired of this. Caught up with Phil who had been 70% of the Gnome booth at the Expo I missed. Thanks Phil, Michael and the other person whose name I didn't catch. Apparently this is not one of my better-organised months. Daniel has apparently got the card he borrowed half-working already, so we might get it back soon. Damn.

October 15th

Unproductive day here, although I did manage to throw out stuff. I hope that pile of stuff in the computer room was destined for the bin, anyway. Did some Gnome stuff.

Alan reached Stockholm, and promptly text messaged me to ask where the conference centre was. Found website. Horror. All in Swedish. Dived onto IRC and demanded Swedish speakers appear. They did. If only this would work for bug fixes too. Relayed this all to Alan who turned out to be round the corner from the conference centre anyway.

October 14th

Autumn is here with a vengeance. Vile in the morning, then bright with fluffy clouds in the afternoon again. Can't kick through the leaves though: too soggy. Tried to listen to a tape and couldn't hear it because of the noise of the rain on the window in the evening. There's a joke that we don't have climate here, we just have weather. Today certainly supports that idea.

Alan is presumably doing Stuff in Brussels.

More bangs and explosions. This time I heard a rocket, too. Definitely firework time. The people in the local newsagent had heard them too, as had people living in the Sandfields, the near end of which is half a mile away. I don't mind it in the week before Bonfire Night, but we haven't even had Hallowe'en yet. (And yes, the Christmas decorations are on sale already.)

October 13th

Weather indeed foul. Despite his departure for a week, decided not to accompany Alan to station. Or Mike. Just waved him at the road. Hope he gets back.

Alan reached Brussels safely.

Huge amount of bangs and explosions outside. Most disconcerting. Can't be that many car crashes in a night. Presumably someone is practising for Bonfire Night.

October 12th

Alan remembered to get his Swedish money. In the afternoon, wandered down to the beach with Mike. The tides around here are large anyway, but this week has seen huge ones. The seaweed was much further up the beach than usual. Got the bus out to the Mumbles and wandered around Knab Point and Bracelet Bay. A group of people had gone crab-hunting, apparently: they were plunging arms into the rock pools and then retreating with much laughter and shrieking when someone found one.

Weather yesterday was foul. Weather today beautiful. I imagine it will be foul tomorrow, too.

Apparently Mike has not seen Blakes 7 for a long time. Attempted to fix this.

Alan ran around packing. He's off travelling tomorrow. Again. I wonder what I can move, throw out, or otherwise tidy whilst he's away this time.

October 11th

Picked up Mike from the station. Wandered through town and found an interesting when-I-grow-up-I-shall-be-a-community-centre place on the High Street. Looks interesting. Must wander back.

Curry in the evening and then we watched old Dr Who videos whilst Alan wrote his talks or whatever he was up to for his next set of wanderings. They must be important: it's very rare he gets them done in advance.

October 10th

Still not at Expo. Good job Phil's on the ball.

October 9th

I am supposed to be at Linux Expo in London today. I am not. Sigh.

Lots of parcels for Alan this morning. Fortunately, the balance was remedied by Daniel, another Wales-based RH person, coming round to remove stuff too. Unfortunately he says he'll bring it back.

One of the local news stories made the national press today: it might be tax evasion but it's still hilarious to think of people puttering around in cars fuelled by cooking oil.

October 8th

What a day. First the Gnome board conference call was beleagured by telco daemons (we ended up with all the Americans on one conference call and all the rest of us on another, and there was little rejoicing but many rude words), and then Alan spent the time rewiring our network connection. Right as I was trying to find out what was happening with the call via IRC.

Alan is good at this. Yesterday a grand clean-up of unused accounts on Zen (the box hosting this diary) managed to kill of several people who were logged in at the time. It emerged that Alan had checked lastlog, and there were one or two people using the box who had logged in so long ago that they didn't show up. I ended up with various messages about Ask him whether he knows Linux stays up longer than Windows and so on to relay.

If this entry appears, then he's fixed the networking again. But since no web address will resolve and I'm falling off IRC, I suspect this is not the case.

October 7th

Went shopping in the day for house bits. As various friends never tire of pointing out, it is expected that you have seats in a house. We have two for the table and still nothing in the living room: there's a beanbag and a pile of cushions. It emerges we have completely different ideas of what is desirable. Yet again. We are now quibbling over colours for tiles and over absolutely everything to do with seats. The one thing on which we can agree is something that is so old-fashioned that nowhere stocks it. Except possibly E-Bay. I think our friends are going to have to remain used to the floor for a while.

I remember years ago when Alan decided the place to store two microVAXen designed for a rack was in the middle of the living room. Eventually I stacked up all the documentation on them to make a flat top and put a cloth over them as a table. I thought we were past that. But I am eyeing Heap Of Stuff To Sort and the lack of chairs and having worried moments.

October 6th

Removed all the remaining clutter from the room in which it has been stored since this time last year. (From when the builders were here.) Dumped it where I can't help but fall over it to remind myself to finish sorting it.

I am already learning to walk around it. This is not going to help.

Went through it. Discovered: a video of old Mark Thomas Project programmes which I swore blind to a friend I hadn't borrowed (sorry, Rhys!); tons of RH beta CDs, Mandrake 7.2, a complete set of Flanders and Swann songs, the programme for GUADEC 1; another (and very out of date) first aid kit; and my favourite floppy hat.

Turned on the television for the headlines, missed them, headed to News 24, and found a programme I've never heard of before called Click Online which I would have turned off after hearing just the title (how can you click online for goodness' sake?) except that the first words I heard were something about stability and alternative to Microsoft. Then came various explanations about Linux and an interview with Linus.

Unhappily, I think News 24 has about five viewers at any one time, but it was a nice effort.

October 5th

Yet again, we are attempting to eat up the reminder of the food in the freezer and have been for some time. Last time, we were left with endless fishfingers. I still can't face fishfingers. This time, it's frozen carrots. We now have a freezer filled with ice and carrots.

At this rate, we shall turn bright orange.

October 4th

Ugh. It's dark when I get up now. But it's fairly dry (for Swansea) so the fallen leaves make a nice rustly noise as I wander my way through them. No, I have no intention of growing up so far that I can't kick or slouch through leaves in the autumn...

To Justin's in the evening. No leaves to kick on the way there. Boo. On the way back, Alan insisted on taking the route that goes down, along, down, round, up and over. It took about 40 minutes. I think my way is quicker (half that).

Missed the rugby, but when I saw the score later, decided it was possibly just as well.

October 3rd

I still can't get over the fact that Alan's room is now tidy, and much emptier. After years of being a packrat, he has admitted it's better like that, too. I have been telling him this for ten years, but no, he had to discover this for himself.

Now his room is tidy, he is messing mine up. I have to forgive him though, because the reason for brutalising my Cyrix (yes, I still have it, and yes, it still destroys installs) was to put a radio card in it. Now I can leave the radio in the shower and have Radio 4 in here too. I haven't quite got round to teaching the computer (again, yawn) that it has a mouse attached, so I daren't start X just yet. When I do, I can play with RadioActive but for now I have fmtools and my morning dose of Today. I'm not sure turning a computer into a radio is the most useful thing I could have done, but it made me happy.

October 2nd

Some difficulty awakening Alan this morning. Dear me.

Was up at the top of the house at lunchtime. Came out of the room to be greeted by the smell of smoke. Ugh. Became more and more worried as I couldn't find Alan and the smell increased as I went downstairs.

Eventually found him burning rubbish in the back yard. The wind was blowing all the smoke straight through the open back door. This turned out to be because the council had come around and told Alan off for putting a box of rubbish out instead of a bin bag. (Actually, that was me.) Then apparently he was told that leaving stuff on the pavement was bad. Well, we hadn't left it there permanently. We thought it would get taken away. We don't put glass or needles or garden rubbish (which they also won't take) into the bags. Or into boxes. But they still won't take the box. It's fair enough, except it would have been nice to know in advance. I knew about the rest of the rules.

Since the box wouldn't fit in a bin bag, Alan decided to burn it and contents. The neighbours were, I fear, unimpressed: but it's our house which got the brunt of the smoke. Then he scraped all the bits up. I suspect those are now going into a bin bag next week. Just as well this is not a smokeless zone.

So apparently if we have rubbish that won't fit in a bag, they won't take it. At all. The council also has no provision for getting stuff to the tip or to the recycling facilities if we don't have a car. Last time, we offered to trundle it down the road in a shopping trolley or to take the very large broken pane of glass on the bus. They didn't like those ideas either.

There is a recycling service now. It's brand-new and they're very proud. It covers an entire three areas of the county. Ours is not one, of course.

Alan messed around more with Linux on the television in the afternoon, then was told to stop because I wanted to listen to Rhodri Morgan's speech on it. He must be confident. He managed to slag off every other party in Wales by name, except for the Lib Dems, whom he just slagged off by sniping without naming them. What fun politics is.

By the end of the evening, I was still getting whiffs of charred lavender as the bonfire smoke competed with the wood polish. I do not think charred lavender is a fragrance liable to make anyone's fortune. Ow.

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.

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.)