The more accurate diary. Old stuff.

Warning: These are old.

September 2003

September 30th

Alan up at a slightly later time in the morning but in well before he had to be, leaving me to install a new Dasher, crash all my gnome-terminals, and restart them to find that they thought Isabella was a cool font too. This is getting monotonous. (It is cool, but it does very badly at displaying IRC.)

Out in the afternoon, and bumped into one person after another. Obviously one of those days. At the university, found the local council had set up a stall about recycling. Finally, I get my hands on some bags and have the dates for recycling pick-ups. This is excellent.

September 29th

Alan up in the morning and all ready for first day at university. I wandered off to Welsh classes (this is exciting: I have now finished the first part and have reached the pellach (further) course) and when I returned the house was all quiet. Aww. Bummed around a bit and made lists of which rooms to sort out whilst he's not there first. Then into town to the library and shopping. Alan rang at about 5: he was finished and just going to the library for a bit before coming home. Two and a half hours later, he surfaced.

September 28th

Curses. The mouse is apparently holed up in or near the boiler. Next to lots of wiring. Just what we didn't need. Have been hearing too many tales of I knew someone whose fridge was destroyed by a mouse. Fortunately, we do not leave food out, and there are no suspicious holes in any of the boxes. Yet.

Cleaned out my Lynx bookmarks. Reduced them from six pages (in fifty-line gnome-terminals) to a page and a half. The number of bug numbers I still have in there is worrying. Some of them, though, are just ones that made me laugh. Alas, the Every time I type this letter, it comes out in upper case bug has long gone from Gnome, but I still remember it. Then there was the bug about localisation of wind speeds, and one from Mozilla about a kitchen sink, and another from Mozilla about... no, never mind, but it made me laugh.

September 27th

After two weeks of trying, Alan has infected me with the lurgy. He is shambling around sneezing and suffering, so of course decided it was a good idea to pull the washing machine out of its space. Mouse droppings. Again. Ugh. Out with the mouse trap. Then couldn't get the washing machine back in.

He has bought a textbook. He is very proud. He says he is going to read it, too. I am very impressed.

September 26th

Alan into university again for tours round the campus and lessons on how to use the library. He gets to take twenty books out at once and keep them for ages. I think I shall have to borrow his card. He also signed up for the computer society. Surprise. Probably just as well, though. When he got to play with his exciting webmail facility, he broke it.

He has fallen on his feet though. He has no lectures before 10.30am. We are all calling him an arts student now.

Bound by a promise not to touch the mail setup, I stayed at home and counted virus emails. I got fifty. And a couple of messages telling me that email from me had contained this Swen virus, which I find unlikely. Alan promised to add a virus-killing patch to exim on his return, but instead he fell asleep. He woke up just in time to go out for a meal with friends. Then we raided the 24-hour supermarket for cheese and ice-cream and returned home to watch the Clangers on his birthday DVD. Not sure what Justin and Sharon thought of that. Alan was happy. Small Clanger is his role model. Small Clanger regularly gets himself lost exploring or throws blow-fruit into the soup well to cause loud explosions and does other bad and naughty things, so I think he is an entirely appropriate role model for Alan.

There were heaps and heaps of bananas reduced in price in the supermarket today. I wonder whether the reduction is related to the story that a local man found a tarantula in his lunchbox the other day. It is not the first time, although it's more usually grapes. Britain doesn't have poisonous spiders, so these things are big news here.

September 25th

Pushed Alan out into the cold cold morning to register and got into fascinating IRC conversation with Shaun, who is Having Ambitions about Gnome documentation and help browsing and rendering of DocBook and related concepts. Absolutely exhilarating: ideas, thoughts about how to implement them, and how many hackers it would take. (All spare hackers, please report to the GDP for indoctrina^Wsuggestions: some of this sounds amazingly cool.)

Went digging in my mail archives to find something historical out and got sidetracked reading old docs mails from around the time of Gnome 1.2. Wow. We have come a long way. I found posts from me talking about I saw this new file browser thingy, it's called Nautilus, it looks like this; and posts from Ali as he was writing the DocBook to HTML on the fly renderer; and (earlier) posts from Dave Mason about why the decision to render DocBook on the fly in the first place; and posts with URLs for people who needed to know how to find and install DocBook (which no distribution shipped then); and so many other things. Dave was our Fearless Leader in those days, and after him came Dan Mueth, and after him came John Fleck, and now we shall have a new one. Who comes ready-supplied with not only ideas but thoughts on how to do it.

Alan has been prettifying his desktop. He has the splendid Isabella font for all his menus. The GPL looks fantastic in that, especially if you have a parchment colour as a background. So I downloaded it. I have never successfully installed a font in my life, so I stopped trying some years ago. This time, I made a ~/.fonts/ directory and dropped the file in, and it was picked up instantly. Um. By nearly everything. I started gedit and it started up using Isabella. I opened Nautilus, and it opened using Isabella. This wasn't quite what I had in mind. It seems that in a hunt for particular characters, I had specified simply Sans somewhere in preferences, and since Isabella counts, it decided to use that. Oops. Picked a different one, but left Isabella there to play with.

September 24th

Alan didn't go shopping. He spent hours instead regretting the fact that he deletes Welcome to this list. If you ever want to unsubscribe, then... emails as a matter of routine. And unsubscribing from one at a time as he remembered which he was on.

Not even Evolution's vfolders could save him: you can't create a vfolder out of messages you deleted months ago.

In the meantime, people on IRC explained how to type characters such as y-with-a-hat (or roof, I suppose: it is called a little roof in Welsh, which I think is cute) and w-with-a-hat on IRC. Since these are quite important in Welsh, #gnome-cy exploded into accented activity, just because we could.

September 23rd

Getting even tireder of viruses. I just can't believe the sheer number of them. If you have my email in your Windows address book, please, please have a decent virus checker. I try not to be rude about that OS because I haven't used it (well, I played minesweeper on it on a friend's work machine once), but it's getting very hard when my day is being interrupted by one sodding virus mail after another.

Alan is still just finishing off odds and ends (and posting enough to every mailing list to tide them over for a year, it seems) before his course starts. He still has to buy some new clothes and (he thinks) files, paper, pens and so on. Well, not that last lot. I have been buying him paper and files and so on sneakily since he found he'd been accepted, because I knew he would never get around to it in time. He still seems to be spending half the day on phone calls. Or possibly this is just because it's a splendid excuse not to come and help put the shopping away when I need him. Anyway, I shall surprise him with the stuff tomorrow.

September 22nd

I am getting very very tired of viruses. I am getting very very tired of mailers that permit them. I am getting very very tired of address books which can be plundered to send me viruses. I don't run any of these, and it's my mailbox which is filling up with the results.

Out in the evening to practise Welsh. Oh dear. I don't know which was worse: doing disastrously, or being told how much better I was now than before.

September 21st

Dan fixed my attempts at LaTeX. All those errors from one unescaped underscore. How was I to know that?

I was on telly today. By accident. I was watching something and the camera cut away to pan round faces and there was I, apparently rapt in concentration, for about a tenth of a second. Scarily, a friend on IRC saw it and recognised me from it, too.

At 6.30pm, remembered Max Boyce was on at the Grand. Took a chance, and got two seats. I have only ever heard half of those songs on records and tapes, so it was good to hear them live.

September 20th

For no good reason, thought it was Sunday for most of the day. Alan apparently stayed way late at the party looking at what you might call dirty pictures: someone had photos of a sewer which everyone decided they wanted to see.

I am getting old and reactionary. There were yet more fireworks and barking dogs, and I am getting fed up with them. I bet the coastguard are too. Swansea's on the coast. So every time we have a bonfire on the beach, we ring the coastguard to let them know we are not a wrecked ship or something, and every time they say You're not planning on fireworks are you? and every time we say no. There was one occasion when some distress flares went up at the harbour and the coastguard thought we'd done it (two miles away). That caused hilarity all round. Or not. You can imagine. With the current spate of fireworks, I am now wondering if they are whizzing around Swansea on little beach buggies looking for the ferry which has unaccountably hit the rocks in the back gardens of Brynmill.

Trying to print out a nice neat list of URLs and notes about them for friends who think the obvious way to receive them is on paper rather than email, I discovered I still can't use LaTeX. Alan can't use it either so wouldn't help. Alan thought it would be a good idea to write it in XML and use XSLT to create something nice out of it. As far as I can tell, this simply results in the HTML which I had decided was a silly format to use to print something. But spent an hour reading tutorials and managed to create my very first XSL stylesheet (or something) which spits out HTML to stdout. Felt all chuffed with accomplishment. Then realised I already know how to write HTML.

September 19th

Nine 2000-line messages in a row all allegedly from Microsoft? I don't need the BBC to tell me there might be a new virus out.

Sharon's birthday party. Various attenders opted to continue the Talk Like A Pirate Day theme of the day, turning up with pirate flags, pirate hats, and so on. I'm not sure that's quite what she wanted for a birthday. And she gets it all again next year too.

September 18th

Apparently the postal workers are not going on strike after all. Watched the satellite pictures of Hurricane Isobel. Some photos have the outline of states marked in, but I had to guess at the names. Isobel seems to be bigger than some of the states.

Discovered BBC 4. It's like Radio 4, but with pictures.

September 17th

Postman caught us with more letters as we were off out. They are voting on whether to strike today. Perhaps this is his way of ensuring support if they strike? :)

Lots of food in the house, but Alan didn't want any of it. Splendid excuse to go out for the evening. Did so.

September 16th

Into Cardiff for the day. Alan was supposed to be coming too, but didn't (of course, since it involved getting up early and so on).

Tramped around failing to find any of the things I needed. Tramped around some more. Tramped around looking for buildings which existed according to their websites. Tramped around some more. Found two Waterstones (a book shop). Matters improved.

Read almost all of new book sitting in an outdoor bar (it's September: how can it be this warm?) and then off to the Shot in the Dark for LUG meeting. Now I know how to get there in the daylight, which is a first. Got a lift back. That's enough tramping.

September 15th

Set off out to town in the morning. Hadn't got halfway there when there was a hail from across the street. It was the postman, halfway through his round. Oi! I got a parcel for you! Turn out that now the posties and the parcel delivery people recognise us. I think perhaps Alan should stop using EBay as his DVD hiring service. I found a whole pile of chatter in IRC scrollback about what he had bought for EBay this time. He has worked out that it is cheaper to buy a DVD second-hand on Ebay and sell it off again after watching it than it is to rent one, and anyway, I have lost our video shop card. Having said that, I managed to get a DVD from there some weeks ago by looking woebegone and saying sorrowfully that I would have to go back to the house and find the card. Who did you say you were? Address? asked the bored attendant, and I walked out with my DVD. I am still wondering what would have happened if I had used the names from the misaddressed envelopes to the neighours we get every so often.

September 14th

Tidying up, I discovered Alan has been receiving the usual bumph you get on going to university. It is not very well targeted. He left home some fifteen years ago, so adverts from Endsleigh (who insure a lot of students) about his chanced of being burgled and adverts from the Student Union that his parents might like to send him a care pack seem unlikely to be used.

More fireworks? This is getting silly. I can understand the ones last night: they were for the end of the Proms in the Park. But I don't think the ones tonight were.

September 13th

Alan appalled to discover that mornings exist at weekend. Bus ridiculously early because it passes two schools normally, and Saturday is not a school day. Another day of Welsh lessons and then wandered back in the sun. I'm sure I was looking for my coat earlier this week.

Was supposed to be going to Singleton Park for the Swansea contribution to Last Night of the Proms but didn't make it. Watched it on telly instead, and looked for the people I was supposed to be meeting. Didn't see them though.

September 12th

To the doctor about back, and sent to the neighbouring hospital for blood tests. Got ticket number 75 with 37 showing on the counter. Luckily it was like an assembly line and I met the vampires in short order. I am allowed to call them vampires. I once met a phlebotomist who used to show up on the wards with cries of Vampires calling!. So there.

Missed stop on the way home and ended up in town. The bookshop had a fire alarm. When can we go back in? Dunno. This has never happened before... Managed to buy books regardless.

September 11th

Did not a lot today.

Several large bangs in the evening. I can't believe they were fireworks: it's another two months until November 5th. Then again, I don't see what else they could have been. Oddly enough, I had just been reading that a Private Members' Bill (one introduced by an MP rather than the government) restricting firework sales and use has almost finished its passage through Parliament. It's very rare for such bills to become law, but this one is nearly there.

September 10th

Being the responsible anti-terrorism country we are, we are hosting an arms conference this week. I hope no-one has shown Bush the list of attenders, or we'll be putting the disaster planning from the weekend into practice.

Still, the police got to test how to use parts of the terrorism acts. The stop and search bits. On the protesters...

Out for a meal in the evening and returned in time for the arrival of Gnome 2.4. Hooray.

September 9th

It's very nearly a year since we started Welsh lessons. Watched S4C and nearly understood entire sentences. Felt happy. Then the next person started talking. Didn't understand a word. Felt sad.

September 8th

Back still hurts. This is getting annoying. Every time I think it's better I lean over and pick something up.

Alan had to take some passport-style photos today. Discovered that these photo-booths have come on a bit. They talk to you. Quite disconcerting. I wonder if they talk to each other at night when everyone's gone home and it's all dark in the post office.

Gnome 2.4 is due to release in a day or two. Today, the CVS machine went down as everyone was frantically checking in last minute docs and translations and the maintainers were trying to make tarballs. Argh. And we so nearly kept to the release date.

On a related Gnome note, achieved a new high (low?) in lunatic aisleriot (the solitaire game -- it's an anagram) bugs. Somehow finished one game with cards in my hand, so to speak, started the next game, and ended up with a complete pack of cards dealt out plus the cards from the previous game. Jon (author) boggled at the resulting screenshot (80kb). I told him I had had the extra cards up my sleeve.

Mooched over to Cardiff to meet friends and to demolish yet another giant platter of food. Don't think I shall eat for three days now.

September 7th

Alan clearly overcome by effort of hoovering. Still in bed at 1.30pm.

There is blue stuff inside my cheese. I can only assume that what was advertised as white stilton is now in the early stages of becoming blue stilton. Alan thinks I should throw it out. Ate it instead. Not dead yet.

September 6th

Up at half past six to find myself in completely the wrong room. Turns out I was reading in the attic room (which serves as my den and the guest room) and fell asleep with a book in my hand. And Alan just assumed I was reading late and didn't notice until I shambled into the bedroom. Oops.

Still, it got me up early enough to finish all the shopping by half past nine in the morning. Spent most of the rest of the day cooking, reciting I owe you five pounds, You owe me two pounds and Do you accept IOUs? along with the Welsh tape until a resolution not to lend or borrow money came upon me.

Alan voluntarily hoovered (okay, was told to but actually did it). Impressive.

Friends round for food in the evening. Successfully avoided poisoning them -- well, I haven't heard from them since, but I'm alive and we ate the same things.

September 5th

Rang up the company which put the window in. Goodness. Window technical support. Is the button pushed in or out? Have you tried pressing here? Exactly what model is it? and so on. Eventually they agreed it was broken and that someone would be out to perform a site visit. Erm, I mean, come round and look at it.

They duly did and discovered what I already knew: it was broken. Fixed now.

Keith decided that Welsh needs not three (Mozilla, epiphany and Konqueror) but four browsers and started translating galeon. Because it and epiphany have the same strings in many places, msgmerge did wonderful things to the .po file, filling in about 300 strings automatically and then filling in another few hundred as fuzzy (where it thinks the words match but isn't sure, so marks it as fuzzy). Fuzzy translations can be hilarious. Today's crop included travel instead of true, and Greek instead of week. Good job fuzzy strings aren't shown in the application. He also discovered a brilliant vim plugin for editing po files. All of this meant that he had 1000 strings done in less than a day, with 300 to go. Whee.

September 4th

So much for Alan's cold. If it weren't for the echoing sneezes of the other day, I would think it was all put on in an attempt to justify curry. But not even he can manage to fake sneezes just for a curry... can he?

Got a splendid Nigerian spam originating from (allegedly) Aberystwyth. Considering suggesting we meet in Borth.

Broke window (the singular, uncapitalised, form) last thing at night. I don't know what happened. It locked itself whilst it was open and refused to unlock so that I could close it.

September 3rd

Alan made the street echo with his sneezing on the way down to Welsh lessons. Feared the worst. Lessons are in a very small room. He managed not to make echoes in that, though.

Short of April Fool jokes, found the silliest name for a cookie in a while.

September 2nd

Scribble, scribble, scribble. It is much easier to just write stuff than it is to write in a coherent order, with all the facts in the right order and no extra digressions. Well, when typing.

Alan has a cold and mentioned it about twenty times. Eventually he decided to go for the curry cure (the idea that hot food will make you feel better) and headed off round about six different take-outs collecting things. Accidentally tried a bit of his when the spoons were mixed up and felt as though there was steam coming out of my ears.

One of the cable channels had a documentary about hackers which we saw by accident. Lots of people Protecting Our Cyber Frontiers, one or two Bad Hackers, one of whom apparently believes he will remain anonymous after an interview showing his face clearly (can this be true?) and Eric Raymond versus the OED on the history and meaning of the word hacker. They have citations back to the seventeenth century which aren't very complimentary, if the television pictures aren't some daft mock-up.

Alan must be feeling better. He did the washing up without being asked to. I approve of curry now.

September 1st

Ooh, look, bug! Known issue
Ooh, look, bug! Known issue
Ooh, look, bug! Known issue
This is boring. Must find some more interesting ones.

LUG in the evening. Recall discussions on rugby, Welsh, university courses, profit margins in the pub trade, but not a lot about Linux. Perhaps that was the other end of the table.

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.)