The more accurate diary. Old stuff.

Warning: These are old.

January 2004

January 31st

Tentatively ran a few of the CVS incarnations of Gnome apps. I am not quite sure what this spatial mode in Nautilus is: it seems to mean that there is neither sidebar nor toolbar. gnome-games, however, is much more exciting. Laugh not. You can now resize mahjongg and glines and the sizes of the balls and tiles change. I have never seen the fuss about SVG, but this is really cool. glines now also has a colour-blindness theme. I am not colour-blind, but I like it. It uses symbols instead of colours. However, I fear this is a mistake. Our Fearless Leader of the Gnome Docs Project, Shaun, is colour-blind and has so far resisted the lure of glines because he couldn't see the colours. Now he can play it, he might stop speeding yelp up, adding printing, and doing all the other cool additions to Yelp that are in the works.

Gareth came to visit, and we went for a curry. Yum.

January 30th

Aargh. Last day to register for an exam (which is months away). No-one there at the town office, so had to trek all the way into university. In the rain. In the cold. Whinge. Caught up with a few people and got to see inside Linux Emporium's new home. And have a free slice of cake.

Scribble scribble.

There were 108 messages waiting to be approved for gnome-list. Approved two of them. At least 60 were the virus-du-jour. And I thought my personal totals of 20 copies of it a day were bad.

jhbuild, the build scripts for Gnome CVS, continued on its merry way. Running it on the emergency box we rsync'd all my files to was an interesting experience. The first thing I had to install on it was a compiler. Argh. And to think I lamented that Alan had not installed Lynx.

Total so far: auto* madness and many aclocal complaints. jhbuild patches to libtool wouldn't apply (fixed), metacity wouldn't build. Something is core-dumping. I don't think it's a metacity problem now: a couple of other applications (gok was one) had the same problem. I suspect intltool. There is a missing dependency in gnome-icon-them which means you get all the way to make install before it dies. nautilus actually built. I feel so elite. mozilla didn't, and I have no idea why, but it meant not needing to try to build epiphany. The doctype for the vte docs is ancient and in the end I commented out the If don't build, die with an error bit of gtkdoc. I suspect I need some more stylesheets. gnomemeeting wouldn't build because after I installed every foo-devel rpm in the entire world one of them was too old; and gstreamer keeps complaining about a missing macro in gstreamer configure. libklavier wanted something I didn't have too. gnome-user-docs took about quarter of an hour to check out from CVS and then didn't build.

Also discovered there was no docs component in the gnome-terminal bugzilla product; added one; gnome-terminal now has two general components; why is this? I didn't add another general, honestly; my head is exploding now.

In theory I have a semi-usable CVS Gnome now. It doesn't have any applets or a window manager, and the control centre wouldn't build so perhaps I should redo the klavier thing to make it. Trouble is, I am now scared to run any of it.

Two things sprang very forcibly to mind. First, there is a reason why I use a distro with package management. Second, I may still be sulking about metacity, but my word, fixes can happen fast and maintainers and Random IRC People can be very patient. At least one of those bug reports is closed and fixed already (and was within hours of finding someone on IRC who guessed the problem). thomasvs merrily spent quarter of an hour trying to figure out what on earth was causing the gstreamer failure. (Sample quote on IRC <telsa> Oh dear, aclocal is involved. This is build stuff, isn't it? I have no clue about this stuff. Be gentle. <thomasvs> I am being gentle. Aww :)) The user docs bug isn't even in bugzilla because as soon as I mentioned the problem, shaunm committed the fix. (Oops. Been meaning to do that for a while)

In other news, Alan had yet another exam today. He seems to have survived.

January 29th

Scribble scribble. Build build. I feel ├╝ber-el33t now. jhbuild is working, after ferulo on IRC fixed my libtool woes. I have built something like 20 modules out of 85 now. Well, actually, jhbuild has built them. But watching all those compilation messages scroll past makes me feel like I am actually contributing to the process. Not sure why. So far, my only contribution has been one bug report.

January 28th

Spent the day alternately scribbling, failing to build Gnome from CVS (exactly how many simultanous versions of auto-thingies do I need?) and boggling at the results of the Hutton Inquiry. (Incidentally, our elected representatives really do behave like animals in the House. Apparently when it was televised for the first time, they all improved in behaviour remarkably. Whatever was it like before?)

Strange that an enquiry looking at how information was controlled and released should itself be the the victim of a partial leak within the final 24 hours. Or perhaps we should have expected it..

January 27th

Alan has finished the latest batches of lectures and is revising for the next lot of exams. This means that whatever I suggest for tea is wrong, so that he can have the excuse to go for a wander with I feel like Chinese tonight or I fancy a curry or whatever.

January 26th

Alan up at the shockingly hour of nine in order to attend a morning lecture. I had no sympathy. I was up at six. Worse, when he came back, he expressed his intention of having a brief nap. Ho hum.

January 24th

Oh, well done Kevin! Rhys has a lovely explanation of what Kevin managed to do to the Windows to be available in Welsh news this week. (Short version: the Western Mail, one of the Welsh newspapers, has a headline about MS but an article entirely about how MS is just catching up with Linux, which has had Welsh translations for Gnome, KDE, OpenOffice.org and Mozilla for months now.)

Tried out this frozen-bubble thing. It's dangerously addictive I am stuck at level 70. Alan keeps making oh no, you shouldn't have done that comments from behind me. He just wants to stop me reaching the same level he has reached.

January 23rd

Three people I know have birthdays today. Happy birthday, sis. Happy birthday, Jenn. Happy birthday, Chris.

What a crowded day.

January 21st

Several people seem surprised that I still use Lynx. I do. I do know about w3m and elinks. I just prefer Lynx. I have a sentimental attachment to it. On the 9600 baud radiomodem we used years ago, it would manage to retrieve pages where Netscape timed out. I like the 'x' command. I like the 'l' command. I like control-A, E, and friends. I get to play with e, E, g and G. I can follow URLs without having to put my cursor on them. And when I decide I don't want to quit after all, it tells me Excellent!, which I think is sweet. Also, there are none of those wretched banner ads and popups, and pages load really fast.

Out in the evening for a meal. Yum. And wine. Hic.

January 20th

Finally, all the files were rescued off dead disc and were on the new aloss. Alan had refused to rsync /etc over (You'll probably have about eight gigs of rubbish in that, too which meant we had lost the fixes to XF86Config which got my trackball to understand left-handed mice properly (it's a long story, don't ask) but we figured it out in the end. He had also failed to install Lynx (horror!) and then realised that frozen-bubble was not installed, so downloaded that and tested it. Some hours (or so it seemed) later, Oh. Did you want your computer back? and he wandered off to university and back to destroying Excel and demonstrating Gnumeric.

Now frantically trying to find every .swp file left by vim and rescue my editing (I am scribbling a lot at the moment, and I promised it all to someone by a specific date on the assumption that nothing would go wrong -- yay me) whilst wondering quite why Alan had a freshly-updated spare box running Fedora handy in the first place. Did he know something I didn't, or does it have an Interesting Bug on it somewhere? If it's the latter, I wonder how long it will take me to find it.

January 19th

Got lots done in the daytime. Welsh classes, shopping, scribble scribble scribble. Alan found a function that works in Gnumeric but which Excel can't handle. Nice one, Alan. Apparently the lecturer was impressed with Gnumeric, since he knows exactly how complicated the function is. Jody pointed me at a great URL comparing Gnumeric and Excel. Was showing it to Alan and proudly proclaiming that today I hadn't broken anything (over the last week I have broken dasher, the Gnome accessibility layer, metacity, gnome-terminal, and a variety of other things and have a heap of trivial bugs to file about typos in man pages and other such silliness). And that (of course) is when X died.

Urgh. Alan, help! tappety-tap, tappety-tap. Your disc is dead Oh Pause. But I have RAID, right, so it's okay? tappetty-tap, tappety-tap. Ah. Well. Not necessarily What? The other disc is dying too

I am sure I have had more disc failures since setting RAID up than ever before. Alan points out that this is because I now have twice the number of discs to go wrong. I do not feel reassured. When I expressed this opinion along with some others, he laughed and told me he knew someone involved in disc drive manufacture who kept trying to explain to people how super modern discs are, and how they operate at sub-atomic levels (that's what he said, I dunno) and spin round at unimaginable speeds, and all anyone can do is to complain when this miracle of modern technology goes wrong. Don't care. Peeved. Complained some more and then decided to rescue things before anything more went wrong.

Dropped into single-user, winced, asked Alan to rescue whilst I made tea. Instant-super-just-reheat-for-great-goodness meal turned out to be repulsive. That'll teach me to try to save time.

Alan produced another machine from his seemingly bottomless supply of computer bits and pieces (incidentally, I am not amused to discover that one of the RAID discs came from his junk pile, and know who I shall blame now) and told it that it was now called aloss and should accept all the email for aloss, and gave it aloss' old IP, whilst the real aloss (which I intend to rename alas if things don't improve) rsync'd all of /home over to it. And we waited for the rsync to finish...

I must do something very very nice for the rsync authors one day because it has saved me so many times now. Alan boggled as my files flew past on the screen. Why do you have three separate copies of a film we have on CD anyway? Umm... three? Really? And how many rpms of Mozilla-1.0x do you have? Good grief, you have XFree86 4.1 on here too? Erm, well. It was just in case..

The thing is that whilst we were on the 28.8 with lots of machines, I got into the habit of keeping useful rpms locally rather than downloading them repeatedly. I used to download Mozilla overnight. (Now it takes about five minutes.) And I don't delete a lot, because you never know when they might be useful. I suppose they might be useful if anyone ever needs xine-0.3.7, or ircii from August 2000, or a tarball of Valgrind from February 2002, but I am beginning to have my doubts.

After about three hours had passed and we were still somewhere down in the oggs and had not even got onto CVS checkouts or unpacked tarballs of stuff I had built locally, went to bed.

January 18th

Discovered all manner of fascinating options to play with with XF86Config. After gnome-terminal crashed and took all my work with it (I can see the bug report now: step 1: run thirty gnome-terminals for six weeks; step 2: right-click... That'll go down well, I can tell), it seemed a good time to restart everything just to see what happened with the options.

Coo. Now I have a way to kill off applications which have stolen the mouse grab and then died, leaving things unusable.

January 17th

Not a lot to say because not a lot happened that I can remember at a vantage of three days' remove for today or the day before.

January 15th

I like my fixed metacity now. Whee.

January 14th

Alan decided to back up all the boxes. It emerges that whilst there is a fast network connection between mine and his, the hard drive I/O or some other some technicality is fairly low. Poor little aloss (aloss is the name of my computer). The load average was between 3 and 5 for hours and nearly everything interactive was impossible.

So left it alone after telling it to build rpms of patched versions of metacity (the window manager) which didn't steal my focus automatically. Came across mention of the patch on Planet Debian, courtesy of Scott James Remnant. I use focus-follows-mouse (now Scott has told me how to find the Gconf key so I don't have to suffer sloppy focus any more) and this drives me mad. The more easily amused readers may recall my encounter with focus-stealing IM windows of some time ago. Gossip (the app in question) apparently fixed itself very rapidly, but Mozilla, the control-centre, authentication dialogues, they all still do it and metacity cheerfully lets them.

Not any more. Scott made a patch called mendacity-2.6.3-no-autofocus-1.patch and it applied beautifully and I made my rpms first time! And now I am happy again.

January 13th

Alan was persuaded to come shopping in the evening. His contribution to the basket was a gigantic chocolate cake from the marked down for quick sale counter.

He then decided it would make a good starter course for tea.

January 12th

Alan back to university hours this week. I hope the shock to his system is not too great.

I have been nagging him to update his diary (in English for at least some of it) over the Christmas holidays, because I know he spent some of it hacking. He has been Too Busy, apparently. So I will do it: he has been messing around with something to do with X. That, unfortunately, is all I know. I presume it means that he has acquired yet more hardware without my noticing and that whatever driver it needed was either absent or not perfect. I am more interested in the question of how he sneaked more hardware into the house than what exactly it is.

January 11th

What revolting weather.

Oh yes: we have finished the evil quiz. We think. Might put the provisional answers up soon and risk the wrath of people still hunting. At least this year, I have learned about robots.txt. Looking forward to next year's. It will be the one hundredth anniversary and doubtless evil in the extreme.

January 10th

Found out that Mark Finlay, another of the Gnome gang, died yesterday, far too young. From his mentions of chemo and radiotherapy, I knew he had been ill, but damn, damn, damn. I barely knew him, but I enjoyed reading his diary. He appeared in Gnome and managed to make a great deal of impact in a very short time.

Decided I needed a newer copy of Pango so that gucharmap would show the numbers instead of blanks for characters I didn't have fonts for. I had clearly forgotten what fun upgrading your software by hand was...

Grabbed the source rpm for the Pango I currently had, and the tarball of the new version. Stuck the tarball in /usr/src/redhat/ somewhere. Unpacked the source rpm. Edited the specfile to point at the new tarball. Ran rpmbuild. It failed. Surprise! It was complaining about a reference to a function it didn't know about. A few minutes' research (ie, asking on #gnome) revealed that this function was new and in glib.

Grabbed the source rpm for my current glib. Grabbed the tarball of the new version. Stuck the tarball in.. well, as above, including running rpmbuild failing. Surprise! Apparently the ChangeLog entries in the specfile were not in chronological order (yes, I put 2003..). Tried again. It built, it built! Installed new glib. Long long pause before prompt came back, which was scary. Nothing broke.

Went back to Pango. Ran rpmbuild again. It failed. Surprise! It had found a man page and didn't know what to do about it. Stole a promising-looking line about _mandir from another specfile and that cured it. Ran rpmbuild again. It worked. Fainted. Installed new Pango. Started new gucharmap. Whee! I have little numbers now. Excitement.

You do not want to know how long this took. Nor to what horrible uses I put it.

January 9th

For about an hour this evening I thought I was going to end up submitting a patch to XFree86. It was all very exciting. I am still wondering whether to try to. No, I am not following in Alan's footsteps (he has been playing with X servers over his holidays). I just found a plain text file that had what I think are bugs in it. And I thought that I might be able not only to point it out but to send a fixed version. I even checked out the CVS version of the file to see whether the problem was there, too. Alan nearly had a fit when he thought I had checked out the whole of CVS, but looked relieved when I pointed out you could check out a little less at one time. I don't know why he is complaining. He does things like this all the time.

Alas. I don't think I provide a patch. Ah well, it was nice whilst it lasted. I suppose I should just file the bug instead. But I am still thinking of ways that might mean I can fix it. :)

January 8th

Dave Jones got bored with hacking kernels and trivial patch penguinship in kernelspace and decided to try to find the same errors in userspace. Specifically, in Gnome. He showed up on IRC and I stupidly said No bugzilla account? No CVS account? I'll submit them for you in exchange for kernel fixes at some future date. Whereupon he sent me many patches.

Discovered that nautilus patches go not to bugzilla but to nautilus-list and that evolution patches go to evolution-patches and that sodipodi bugs go in sourceforge (whose bug-tracker doesn't work with Lynx) and that we have all manner of dead modules in Gnome CVS.

It took hours.

And before I had finished, the first Actually, this one is probably deliberate had arrived, and worse, along came the response Okay to commit. I can only assume that the epiphany people didn't realise my effect on all programs including CVS (in fact, I core-dumped epiphany today, too). Still haven't summoned up courage to attempt to commit to real live code. Fortunately, some of the other modules' hackers just dumped the fixes straight in.

KDE and Enlightenment, beware! Apparently Dave is wondering how many projects he can have patches accepted into in the space of one week... Everyone else should beware too. I know he mentioned that pair. I don't know what else he has in mind...

January 7th

Alan now officially Does Not Approve of the intercom. He has decided we need a computer (or, more properly, an appliance) in the kitchen. This is all because I beeped it at him to tell him that I needed him to stir the sauce. He thought it meant tea was ready.

He is very good at stirring the sauce, though.

January 6th

11am and Alan still asleep. Holidays are hard work.

January 5th

Welsh lessons started for me. Alan is (he thinks, and I am still not convinced) officially on holiday. He has work to do over the holiday, so spent the afternoon down at the university.

Weather absolutely repulsive. Wind, rain, and cold. Horizontal rain, ideal for getting under the roofs of bus shelters, I discovered, too, after spending ridiculous amounts of time waiting for the bus. I had expected to, and took my Walkman along to listen to a tape. I forgot to check the batteries. The introductory music started, the voice came out, The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkien, in thirteen parts. Starring.. and then the music started to slow, and the voice started to slow and went lower and lower until it sounded like something diabolical out of a horror film. Half-expected to hear it turn into Puny mortal... you are in my power or something. Somewhat relieved when instead it just stopped, and the sound of the rain on the roof (and under it) resumed.

LUG in the evening.

January 4th

Experimented some more with the bread maker. This is fun.

Remembered to put the recycling out. However did we end up with so much glass? Told Alan it was things like marmalade jars and tried to stop him noticing the number of marmalade jars which came with corks.

January 3rd

Started a count of how much spam I actually get. Today, in two accounts, I got 154. Plus a couple of viruses. I am so glad I am not on a 28.8k modem any more. It would still all be filtering through.

January 1st

New year, old habits. Me up early, Alan up late. Have discovered that the reason he hasn't done any of the homework so far is that he has an extra week of holiday. I thought he went back on the coming Monday, but apparently not. This explains why he is still sleeping for hours and messing around with X servers or drivers or something.

Discovered that Alan has never seen The Sound of Music. I didn't know it was possible to grow up with a television in the house and not see it. It's on at nearly every holiday. Also discovered that this interactive television thing has a scary new option: the Singalong option. It prints all the lyrics under the screen. Not quite as much fun as the referee link in rugby, but still wonderful to use to plague Alan.

Alan discovered a documentary about the Mabinogion (a collection of old Welsh tales which I loved ever since finding the book at my grandparents') in the evening. Hooray. Then found it was in Welsh. Damn. Struggled through it picking up about one sentence in three. There was also an animated version of the four branches later on. I thought I might be alright with this because I bought the graphic novel a year ago and spent months plodding through it. That helped a bit. Not enough. Picked up rather less. Admittedly, I have the excuse that meadowsweet and beggar and arms (in the sense of weapons) and the rest are not words that turn up regularly on beginner courses. (Except for the old Arms Park, of course.) Video'd the thing. Will watch it again in a year and see whether I follow more of it.

January 2nd

Alan still up at silly hours. Chris round in the afternoon and got huge amounts of the quiz answers on a single reading of the questions. Have to tell him about it when it comes out next year.

Stuffed Debian on the testbox. The installer has improved from when last I did this (potato), but being asked a series of silly questions about whether my non-existent printer does PostScript and what X server I wanted for my monitor and what variant of an language of a keyboard I wanted for X made me realise just how far the Red Hat install has come on. Also, I have no idea whether being asked about a printer I don't have is a bug or a feature.

X crashed. I will try another server. But first I have to find out how I make debconf (I think) know about the other server. Someone on IRC told me I want debconf to look after XF86Config, so I trusted them. By the time I realised I had given it the wrong server, they had gone and I couldn't ask them how to redo that bit. I shall figure it out. Eventually. Then I can do the grand update to all things new and Gnomey and destroy everything even more.

I shall be very busy over the next couple of months. Don't expect this rate of diary updates to continue.

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.)