The more accurate diary. Really.

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Warning: These are old.

February 2003

February 28th

The Welsh Labour Party is having its conference in Swansea. There were possibly more people outside the building than in today though: a peace demo outside was it. With figures up in the clocktower of the Guildhall with binoculars watching the crowd (which was nowhere near the thousands suggested in last night's paper, but I think more than the two hundred I saw mentioned by the BBC); and someone out on the roof of the courts opposite watching too.

Alan is still messing aroun with his phone. He has found some game now: the Hobbit or something.

Choir in WHSmiths and samples of Welsh alcohol in the supermarket: the run-up to St David's Day seems to be a good time to go shopping.

February 27th

Alan's new phone has now acquired rogue. If you're fed up of hearing about this phone, imagine how I feel.

Even better is his mention of cleaning his room in his diary. (Trust me. It's there.) This is such a rare event that it should go in a diary?

February 26th

Inspired by my participation in democratic process (ie, getting a reply to my letter to my MP), I listened to large parts of the Commons debate today on the Parliament Channel. I thought that Parliament had calmed down a lot since it has been televised as well as broadcast on radio, but whatever do some of those gestures mean?

Deluged by suggestions on apps that are simpler than OpenOffice: everything from Lyx to Kile to You know XHTML and CSS: use that and print from Mozilla. I'm actually wondering about being old-fashioned and using a real pen and paper: it seems so much simpler.

I see I have neglected to mention the new phone line and the (new) new mobile phone for entire days in a row. What is going on in this house? First Alan decides we need a new phone line, and then after telling me the latest mobile phones were rubbish really and I didn't need one, he buys himself one which makes loud bleeping noises. Then he breaks it and takes it back. And then he gets a new one. It is ostensibly the same model as the last new one, but he does not seem to have found the mute button on it yet.

It has an English-Welsh dictionary on it, too. Well, American English-Welsh, at least.

February 25th

Coo. A cream letter day. Alan and I both got (identical, I suspect) letters from the House of Commons. A semi-recent NTK (10 Jan 03) suggested people use and see whether they got counted as for or against entitlement cards. I got a tatty postcard back from my MP with little boxes ticked, and felt unlistened to. Now I get a fancy envelope and a forwarded response from the Home Office too.

Then Chris and I got the last answers into the prize crossword. Whee.

A good day, marred only by the realisation that I am going to have to learn either how to use a word processor or LaTeX. All I wanted to do was to print a letter out with my address shifted over to the right at the top. OpenOffice started thinking I wanted to write all text over on the right, and Abiword queried my spelling of my own address. I have managed to survive years without needing to know how to use a word processor, but oh dear, I suspect I am going to have to learn. All for one silly letter, which is faster to write by hand.

Admittedly, absent-mindedly typing in commands from a text-editor probably had something to do with it, but argh.

February 24th

Wow. Some years ago, in search of something to do to help free software, I subscribed to the proofreaders' list at GNU. I would put a better link in but the one I want is down. I read a a few things and then a mail came through about a monthly column which I replied to.

I eventually came off mailing lists because of the spam: but four years later I am still proofreading columns for Brave GNU World. The most recent one arrived in my mailbox today and will be out shortly.

I can't believe it's been four years. Well done to Georg for all that effort: and to the translators who turn it into all those languages.

Where did those years go? Skimming the old columns, I see patents were already a worry in 1999; GnuPG had just hit version 1.0; and Mailman was just beginning to really hit the scenes. There was no GNU Free Documentation Licence (License, whatever...) parted was at versinn 1.0, and grub hadn't even reached that. And that's just the things mentioned in the column's first year or two.

Well done, Georg. Since I rarely need to touch a thing in the proofreading, however, to make myself feel useful, perhaps I should start correcting color and license to colour and licence...

Febrary 23rd

Justin and Sharon took us out to the Enterprise Park, which is where all big shops hide these days. There are buses up there, but the last time we got one it took about an hour and gave us a magical mystery tour of the lesser-known areas of Swansea. Ordered some benches so we can have more than two people sitting at the kitchen table at a time. It's amazing how long you can get by without such things, but it's getting silly.

Justin took a large monitor away. It didn't help fix the problem of how to negotiate my way around the floor of Alan's room. It's a veritable Telsa-trap in there. And all of it junk which I think should be binned. Or put on Ebay. The underlying concept (removing it) is the same.

February 22nd

Well, the result could have been worse. England won, but not by the fifty points confidently predicted by a friend. It's bad when you have to stoop to pick up such crumbs.

Caught up with a pile of mail, caught up with housework, attempted to celebrate being beaten rather than being disastrously beaten. Um.

Quote of the day, after getting stuck into the crossword with a friend:

<clahey> Great.
<clahey> news isn't in my dictionary, but NeWS is.

February 21st

Went to pick up a book at the bookshop. Accidentally bought three more. Hid them from Alan.

Out in the evening with the usual gang.

Odds for Wales are something like 25-1 on a win tomorrow. Most of the offered bets in the bookies are to do with how many points England will win by. Ouch. Some people put money on the Grand National (a horse race with forty starters, where anything can happen). I generally put it on this game, but I think I'd get better odds on the National.

February 20th

Oh groan. The phone saga contines. After playing with it repeatedly until I pointedly asked whether it had a mute button, Alan has discovered his new mobile phone is broken. (Thankfully the mute didn't break though.) He is now wandering round the house forlornly looking for the remnants of the old one (which he took apart and has lost).

For complicated reasons we also have a phone engineer who is not from NTL visiting us in the near future.

Gave up trying to understand this.

February 19th

I don't think I need any more pastes of what the better of the two Welsh->English translation services on the web do to Alan's diary, thanks :)

I don't think I dare try to translate it, either. For those still attempting to, ffôn dychmygo is imaginary phone. The one NTL are still charging for. Not the new mobile phone which arrived. That's separate. I think. Oh dear. I look forward to Alan's attempts to translate Data Protection Act, since a sheaf of docs he got out of NTL after invoking said Act arrived today.

February 18th

I have fallen into the habit of attempting to do crosswords with a friend over the net. Now he's doing better than me. Still can't finish the prize crossword though, but we are learning lots of new words (and, in his case, British spelling :))

LUG in the evening.

February 17th

The Welsh press are not amused about the weekend's rugby.

I am not amused to discover that if Alan plays Quake or whatever that game I caught him at is, the bass comes through the floor and down into the kitchen. I honestly thought the wind was blowing a gale outside until I realised it was his speakers.

Caught up with news. Apparently my sister was caught up in the chaos at Gatwick airport last week and ended up there overnight. (Whilst I was commenting on Heathrow being surrounded by the army, someone coming into Gatwick was found with a grenade in his luggage: entertainingly, one of the comments from the staff was These things happen from time to time.) Best comment overheard from a disgruntled passenger (no-one had any idea what was going on, but the rumours they got turned out to be pretty accurate) was From Venezuela? Huh, our grenades aren't good enough for him then, are they?.

No. I cannot do anything to persuade Alan to write his diary in English. If it helps, I am informed that clo troelli means spin lock. And what I thought (not having the dictionary, cos he's stolen it) was murder... wasn't. Which is a relief.

February 16th

Bah. There are no longer direct trains from London Paddington to Swansea on Sundays. Or, if there are, they don't stop at Parkway. This is ridiculous. The train is always full until Swansea. Instead, we have to change at Cardiff. This would usually be for another train, but today: no train. Coach instead. I am a bit tired of coaches.

Alan seems to have started writing his diary in Welsh. I shall not be following suit. Not for a good while, anyway :) I have enough trouble writing without typos in English...

February 15th

Up at silly hours. By 0730, standing at a windy carpark in Bristol watching coaches line up ready to take about three thousand people to London.

Went to London. Marched. Shivered in Hyde Park. Came back. Well, as far as Bristol.

Discovered I had not exactly missed anything in the rugby. Well, not unless you count national humiliation.

I fear the Six Nations is not going to get any better this year, either.

February 14th

Off to Bristol to stay with friends overnight. They are involved with the Bristol peace group. Spent most of the night helping put different sets of paper, information, numbers (to attach to buses) and so on into bags, so that marshals on the (more than sixty) buses going to London tomorrow know what's going on.

February 13th

Alan clearly has the lurgy and has spent most of the day in bed. Wondering which of three people with it last night we can blame.

February 12th

Oh dear. Alan is starting a cold. Hope the cold doesn't finish him.

Out for Justin's birthday. Excellent night. Alan recovered enough to stay out at the pub whilst I went back, just in time to catch a phone call. Stayed up over-late as a result of having been in the bookshop earlier in the day. Unread books are such a temptation.

Apparently the army is occupying Heathrow or something.

February 11th

It is not a good start to the day when a parcel arrives, I ask Alan what it is, and he doesn't seem to be sure. How many articles is he expecting if he has to work out what this one might be?

Shopping in the evening. Alan took over the trolley-driving. As we split up to fetch things, I caught a glimpse of him whizzing round the corner with it as though he were about eight. Pretended I wasn't with him.

February 10th

The beeping on oggit, the ogg server which sits in a rack in Alan's room, has become intolerable. I thought it was the I am rebuilding myself beep. Alas no. It's the I am broken and cannot fix myself beep. So it needs to be investigated by Alan with his favourite screwdriver. So first Alan took over my computer and tied it up with a massive rsync of all the oggs onto it, just in case he breaks oggit even more.

Finally did the table in docbook I had messed up the other day. There used to be a series of books here called I-Spy. There was one for birds, and one for cars, and so on. And the idea was that you ticked them all off and sent your book in and ... well, I dunno then, because I never got that far. But I am finding myself doing it with DocBook. Haven't used that tag yet? Damn, must find a way to work it in somewhere, and tick another tag off. So I can gleefully mentally cross off tables and <foreignphrase> now (and then try to find a way to justify it to the person whose article it was). All very silly, but it keeps me amused. The only problem with this is that I think it means I need to write a man page at some stage, because I see that there are lots of tags I haven't used which live inside <refentry>. Hmm.

February 9th

Of course, the day I am not hanging around for half an hour outside is the day it's not raining. Still, if that is the most annoying thing to happen for a while, I can't really complain.

Alan has been tidying his room up just in case a new rack arrives. (The arrangements for this are becoming increasingly farcical.) There is a mound of rubbish on the floor in it and other things outside. Because they are painful in bare feet, I keep throwing the things outside back in there. He hasn't noticed.

February 8th

Okay, the discussions in the Guardian letters column about Hyde Park, a peace rally, and the imminent criminalisation of outdoor sex (yes, there's a connection) are getting more interesting to read than the actual news.

Alan went shopping today. Returned with neither food nor loo roll nor any of the other things we might need. Instead be brought back new boots (finally) and computer bits. Grr. We are still waiting for the much-feted racks. The last thing I heard on the subject was that they might arrive at 3am in the morning.

In the evening, conflicting options. We had said we'd go to something already when Justin rang suggesting a meal. Alan promptly changed his plans, leaving me to go elsewhere on my own. Stood outside venue in rain for half an hour in the rain before deciding some wires had obviously got crossed. Send Alan text messages about Where are you? and got no reply. Apparently he was in the dead zone for phone calls. Grumble. Clearly this is all his fault.

February 7th

Practically took over an irc channel whilst attempting to get somewhere with an evil crossword. Ended up enticing a friend to have a go. I think he got more than I did.

Messed around doing some docbooking. Tables are evil in DocBook. But then, they're pretty horrible in HTML too. Took the easy option. Left it for another day.

February 6th

Alan finally fell into Alan-hours.

You live and learn. Useful article for dealing with recalcitrant CD drives number 42: a paperclip. Finally got some silly CD out of the drive where it was stuck. Now I can put more in :)

February 5th

There is a soap opera on the radio here called The Archers which has been running so long that everyone knows the theme tune even if they don't know why. I haven't listened to it in ages. But I may have to start again. Apparently the Grundys have discovered email.

Eddie Grundy is the sort of person who will try any get-rich-quick scheme going. It's a toss-up whether he'd send half the net emails advertising really cheap fertiliser, baling equipment or the remnants of whatever he did with those Christmas trees; or whether he'd be on the next plane to Nigeria to meet a man with millions of dollars to transfer out of a war-torn country.

I can't wait.

Oh yeah. GNOME 2.2 came out, too :) Astonishing amounts of hits within the first five minutes of the announcement.

February 4th

I appear to have been slashdotted overnight. Judging by the comments, it's definitely an overrated experience.

Reacquainted myself with docbook to mark some stuff up. And I thought tables in HTML were bad.

February 3rd

For some reason, Alan left an empty pop bottle by the sink. I am now wondering whether he put the glass in the bin.

LUG in the evening. I am coming to like that new venue more and more, although that might change on the day I have to get there by train rather than a lift in a car.

February 2nd

Alan up and moving stuff around in his room at seven. Seven am, that is. Apparently his body-clock is still confused. Delighted. Alan in daylight hours. What a difference. Alan not so delighted.

Finished LCA write-up. Took less time than some because I only took notes in two talks. And no-one reads the talks write-ups anyway. Only two of them out of 34 have ever made a blip in the logs.

Something that did make a blip in the logs the other day though: I get more people visiting the site with Mozilla than with IE. Mozilla, Konqueror and Galeon together (55%) are almost double the IE numbers (30%). This confuses me, because Windows is reported more often than Unix (all flavours). or Unix and Mac together. I think perhaps I do not quite understand how to set up Analog -- unless there are many many more people using Mozilla on Windows than I realised.

February 1st

Yet again IRC is the harbinger of news which sends everyone to the television: the loss of the space shuttle. I begin to be appalled at the substitution of attempts to be first on air with something, even if it has no substance, rather than first with reporting of facts. Quote which I copied down from CNN Europe's coverage: it's definitely something that occurred, uh, that at this point we don't know what that is. Shortly after they rang up another astronaut and asked him about the coverage they were running non-stop only to find he hadn't seen it yet. Switched off. Less than an hour after contact was lost, people were complaining the NASA website hadn't been updated. Possibly NASA had bigger things on their mind.

Cadged a lift with Justin to the supermarket to return with great amounts of shopping and the one thing Alan had specifically requested. Alan promptly thought of two more things we needed. Ignored him.

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.)