The more accurate diary. Old stuff.

Warning: These are old.

April 2004

April 30th

Cleaning fit. Kitchen beautiful (except for the slug, grr). Room we might call a dining room or a breakfast room when it is habitable and the holes in the wall filled in is also beautiful. Heaps of stuff to variously go upstairs, to the charity shop, be released for that bookcrossing thing and so on sorted. Now have to remember to take them upstairs, to the charity shop, or convenient dropping points.

Decided to stick the Fedora beta onto the box which has been resurrected after both RAID discs died at once. Alan stepped in. You need to put these in it What are they? Hardware encryption Oooh, how do I use them? You read the instructions You never say that. Have you used them yourself? No. I'm the guinea pig? Well... Gee, thanks. Also stuck some more memory in. The box which booted fine with test 2 is now in a state of not-booting, after variously being unable to find the new memory, one of the discs, and then either of the discs. I know who I blame for this, and it's not the beta.

April 29th

Alan has exams (more of them) today and tomorrow. I think that might be it for a while now.

Documentary on the television tonight about the state of the Royal Mail (postal service here). Parcelforce is or was part of this organisation, so watched with interest.

It was not inspiring. People sent out to deliver the post with an A-Z, people playing football with the post, people who somehow snaffle interesting packages to investigate the contents.

I am relieved to think that I can't see our postmen doing that. We used to live over the road from one. And half the parcel deliverers came to know where we lived, despite the folly of using a company name of Building Number 3, which was a joke to do with Red Hat having acquired a second one. We had one occurrence of I've been up and down the road and round the back alley. But where's the third building? And when we moved house, one delivery came to the new house despite being addressed to us at the old one, because I thought this must be wrong, you've moved to here now, haven't you?

Still, I am not going to put my passport in the post any time soon.

April 28th

Good grief. ZenIV has turned up after all. In Plymouth, or Portsmouth, or somewhere in the south, anyway. Which is odd, since it didn't start near there and it was heading for somewhere completely different.

Net connection unusable. Alan is revising so doesn't need the net to be very responsive. So he is downloading ISOs.

LUG in the evening. World's smallest turn-out ever. Alan was supposed to be revising, but came anyway.

April 27th

Over to a friend's in the evening to practise some Welsh, since I have realised how near the exam is. Discovered that the last bus to the area he lives in (where a lot of people live: it's not some hamlet) leaves at 6.15 in the evening. How useful. And there's no bus back.

Yes, of course I could walk. Except that I was late.

April 26th

Discovered that the replacement for the current is causing some complications. has about fifty names, starting with and going down through (yes, that was me, until I forgot to renew it).

But when I log into it, I get a hostname of parcelfarce. Because ParcelForce managed to drop the second incarnation of it on its way through the post, or to put a forklift through the box, or something equally dramatic. It got whacked on the corner which had all the heavy stuff. You'd think that would be the safest really, but no. Much brokenness.

We are now onto version III of this box. It is perennially running out of space. And so incarnation IV of this box was ordered and shipped. Via Parcelforce. And went missing. Whilst small packages falling down the back of a shelf is one thing, how can 25.5kg (56lb, or 4 stone) of computer just.. go missing?

After six weeks, Bryce gave up expecting ZenIV to show up and bought the pieces for ZenV. For some reason, it was shipped by Parcelforce. Perhaps the state of the arriving box should be no surprise. It wasn't well-packed by the original shipper, but that is no excuse for the gigantic rent in the top, with a sticker or tape stretching over the rip. And with a random collection of car parts stuffed into the box as well as the expected computer pieces.

April 25th

Mooched into town with Alan. He didn't want to head to Joe's Ice Cream because he had been there yesterday. Without me. Pooh. But we bought some ice cream anyway.

Doubled my collection of shoes by buying two pairs. I do not think docs are perfect for summer.

April 24th

Stunned. More sun. Alan missed most of it, and then spent the rest of the day wondering why there was no food in the house and doing essays. I suspect he is counting the weeks until the end of lectures now.

Up to Dick's for (another) barbecue in the evening.

April 23rd

Wow, more sun. Amazing.

Flying visit from a friend who is in the middle of moving house. Reminded why I don't ever want to move house again.

April 22nd

Discovered Alan had put the bins out, but not gone around collecting all the rubbish from the little bins or from the fridge first. Boo. On the other hand, he has been working. He had no lectures today but spent the day working on some essay or other.

Lovely lovely sun and wind today. No need for a hat.

No email. Tragedy. Then remembered that Alan had said something about a power cut when I saw a clock which had not been reset. Eyed procmail log, which seemed to have stopped on Monday evening. Was that power cut at about seven-thirty, then? Yes And everything came back up? Think so (pause for rant about the UPS which went down :)) Um. I don't think the mail server did. One restart later and my email was flowing through. Ten minutes and twenty spams later, and I wished it wasn't.

Swapped one CD of Cymrux for a stack of kids's books in Welsh. Must actually read some of these things to the end. I have a whole stack of books from friends which I get stuck on and it's getting embarrassing because they are all from when the friends were about seven. And I have an exam soon, in which I am supposed to be able to write sentences properly. Right now, I feel like I can't even read them. Holidays are bad for the confidence.

April 21st

Up bright and early to discover my hotel room door swinging open. As it opens onto the common room/dining room, not a good start, especially since I locked it. Window had been opened, too. What a strange time for room service. I am not talking about 10am here, but some time before seven.

Successfully navigated back to Olympia and was inside very early. Caught up with other early arrivals: had long chat about the excitement of the magazine world with a couple of the magazine people, admired the poster of patents stopping you making a web shop like this that James Heald had brought along, intended to buy the brilliant tshirt that the Campaign for Digital Rights had brought alone, didn't get around to it, and then the doors were open and it was time for a deluge. More of a trickle at first. Someone located the Gnome poster. We went to see the KDE people. They have won a sheet of glass. I think it's some sort of metaphor for enough of these and you can replace windows. More of the same as yesterday, only this time my laptop did not overheat, get the disc upset, and print Operating System not found on reboot. (Just what you need when demonstrating, but it's the hardware, I swear. Don't buy Vaios. Grr.) Some of the Lonix -- or was it GLLUG? -- people had booked a pub for after the show. Saw a friend from Swansea for about thirty seconds -- where did he go? Talked to someone about Microsoft marketing people. Apparently demonstrating that Unix has had remote desktops for years and years via X upsets them. Goodness knows what they think of Sun's system when you stick your card in the nearest workstation and your desktop just appears. Lots more people and lots more stuff, but I put most of it in yesterday's entry.

Network wasn't working so well today but luckily we had handy stuff all downloaded by the time that happened. Met more interesting people. Daf showed someone how to change gconf settings at the command line and ended up teaching someone shell scripting for an hour. Maria took loads of photos. Discovered how the Debian people had such a big stand: liberate spare tables, bring your own shelves. Saw Rosegarden working: oooh, how lovely.

Eventually headed off and avoided the Earls Court tube station by getting the bus. Cunning, eh?. Wrong bus. Got carried halfway to Kensington before finding out. Okay, not so cunning. Hopped out and tried another bus. This worked. Reached Paddington in excellent time to catch the 6pm. In fact, because everything was delayed, it looked like I had a very good chance of catching the 5pm: it was about ten past, and the 1700 hadn't gone yet. Nothing was moving, because there was some security alert at Reading and apparently the station was closed. The 5pm fell off the boards and I assumed I would miss it and looked for the 1730 on the boards. Then the announcer told us that the 1700 would depart from platform 10. Instant stampede. My ticket would let me go on that, so I hoped it would be quieter (not all tickets were valid for it). Ended up crammed into the space at the end of the carriage with another dozen people for almost half an hour whilst the driver waited to find out whether we could set off. Eventually he said that we would go through Reading but not stop there, but he wasn't sure about Didcot Parkway. Various people got off the train. Got a seat. Phew. Thank goodness for a small laptop after all, and it's a very very good thing I didn't take a (small!) machine and monitor with me. I don't think I'd have got them onto the train, and they would not have survived the return journey.

More announcements of ever more unlikely stops and not-stops and Perhaps by the time we reach the station we'll know whether we can stop there. Gale of laughter by the end, and much amused speculation about So, they've closed the station for a security alert, but we're going through it? How are we doing that, then? At great speed.

In the event, we did stop at Reading after all. Various people got on, and then came another announcement telling them to disregard the plaform announcer, Contrary to what you have been told, this train is not going to Penzance. This train is going to south Wales.

The buffet car decided to offer free non-alcoholic drinks, secure in the knowledge that we were so jam-packed in, no-one could get to the buffet car.

Eventually, we got through the tunnel and after Cardiff there were even spare seats and the train was absolutely racing along. As we approached the penultimate stop, the strains of the driver could be heard reminding us to be nice to our grandparents, because we never knew when we'd want to borrow money from them. I think he must have had a long day, too.

The 1700 is supposed to arrive in a bit under three hours. It was something like half past nine when we got off. Goodness knows where the 1800 got to.

I really do like public transport, but there are definitely times when I understand why people ask me why, in tones of incredulity. But they don't get to talk to fascinating people crammed in next to them, and I do.

April 20th

Up at 0515 to get to the station to pick up the ticket to get on the train which would get me to London to find the underground to get to Olympia on time.

Train was late, underground was dreadful, bumped into a friend at Earls Court tube station (which is surreal, the signs for which train is coming next seem to have last been upgraded in the 1930s), discovered he had got a much more civilised train down, reached the Expo, and they didn't have my pass.

I stood there looking forlorn and pressured and late and they said Better make you one, then. What's your name? Who are you with? and printed me a new exhibitor pass on the spot. How very secure.

Down to .org village to find that everyone had a poster but us. Ours was apparently in Manchester. Confused. But we did have lots of laptops, some ethernet, and a power lead with more plugs than the rest of the expo put together. What a useful thing to liberate from work. And we backed onto the wireless hotspot, had we but realised, too.

The Linuxchix stand was next to the Gnome stand, which meant some of us could do both. Met lots and lots of people over the next couple of days: finally met Caro from Linuxchix, who came armed with a stack of leaflets; discovered that Paul Sladen really does exist (I was beginning to think that the dozens of people always asking You've never met Paul? were all in some giant conspiracy to confuse me); lent my bagpuss mouse (it's red and cream stripes and it's furry, okay, just like the real Bagpuss, and yes of course Bagpuss is real) to the Dasher people; caught up with Jono Bacon and one of the other LugRadio people (I was really hungry, but trying to eat the microphone didn't go down too well: I am not sure what they thought I was doing instead); met a huge load of people whom I had never met in person but exchanged emails with; caught up with Kevin Donnelly who was demonstrating Cymrux, a Knoppix derivative with lots of Welsh and met Thorben Jändling, who did a lot of the work to make that happen. Experienced a KDE invasion of the Gnome table. Invaded them back the next day. Mutual backslapping all round. Oooh, yours does that? Pretty! Yeah, but yours has this, and we don't. Lots of people were nice about Gnome. Oooh. I run that. It's nice. So what's new in it? This is a nice change from Ooh. I run that. It's nice. But there's this particular bug which annoys me... Daf got Gnome showing four calculators in different languages at once, and then decided to have Gnome running in lots of sessions and showing three languages at once. Gael Chamoulaud (strider) and Michel Aubertin (athos) came over from France to help and demonstrated a keen grasp of what attracts people to look: moving pictures. Also some gorgeous backgrounds. Thomas confused everyone by having Gnome running on a Mac and joined a huddle of people commiserating with each other: People are looking all shocked that I have Mac OS X and haven't put Linux on top. Waah. The Gnome 2 Developer's Guide book was released just in time for us to tell people about it, although there were also people there who said they had learned all they needed from the code itself and the API docs. And I met one of the new arrivals on the Planner project.

Over on the Linuxchix half of the bench, got lots of interest from both women and men. Most of the latter was of the order of Cool or Can I take a leaflet for my wife/friend/daughter although there was one I see. So it's a female chauvinist pig organisation and another somewhat tortured attempt at a joke involving latex and expectations that we liked that. Expecting a few new arrivals on the mailing lists now.

There was a get-together in the pub at the end of the day, but predictably found the wrong pub. Braved Earls Court tube station again (twice: of course there are two exits and of course I needed the other one) and found a hotel one of the Debian people had mentioned and checked in. Grabbed a plate of pasta and wine somewhere near, rang Alan to remind him that it was bin night (he wasn't entirely delighted with this reminder and retaliated with the discovery of a peculiar odour in the fridge, which means that he has discovered the garlic butter I hid in it. Oops) and was asleep by 9.30.

April 19th

Supposed to be in three places at the same time: London, setting up for the Expo. A food handling course for which I have no address, no details, and no confirmation. And Welsh lessons. Still ill. Got to none. Got visited by a friend and stared blankly at her, trying to get brain to work.

Did manage to get Fedora 1 upgraded to Fedora 2 beta 2. Kernel promptly oopsed. The laptop has two ways of getting things onto it: network and CD. Difficult to use either with a kernel oopsing as it boots. Alan pointed out that it was only oopsing halfway in, so got to single-user, ftp'd a newer kernel over, and rebooted. Whee. Alan then decided the obvious way to upgrade to Gnome 2.6 was to fetch everything across the network and upgrade with rpm by hand. He seems to carry the entire dependency tree in his head. Scary.

April 18th

Haven't had much sleep recently. I am supposed to be organising myself to get to the Gnome booth (stand, table) at the Expo in London on Tuesday and Wednesday. This involves finding a computer small enough to take on public transport and getting it and myself there in time and spending the minimum amount of time in London hotels. Laptop sounds good, even if it is very small. Realised that laptop does not have Gnome 2.6 on it yet. This means a long session coaxing the Fedora beta installer to talk to the laptop.

Plan foiled by curling up with a book around lunchtime and waking up at about 7pm to the strains of Alan and I'm hungry. Argh. Where has my day gone?

Great. Falling over asleep in the middle of the day usually means I am sickening for something. What timing.

April 17th

Alan working on coursework all day. I am very impressed by this. He is in the living room where I am, so I can't play music at him. I am less impressed by this.

Barbecue at Justin's planned for tonight. The Met. Office promises sun today and they seem to be correct so far. As people start getting ready to go, the rain starts. I blame the Met. Office. Over to Plan B: mixed grill. This means barbecue bits, indoors.

April 16th

What rotten weather. Alan still not back. Dafydd came over and we went to watch Shaun of the Dead, a zombies in Britain film. I suspect it will get censored immensely for language by any film channels, but it was definitely worth seeing. Like I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle, it's much funnier when it's set in an environment you know: local newsagents, bachelor flats full of mounds of take-out remains and beer cans, suburban back gardens, pubs.. all much more familiar to me than gigantic shopping malls and wildernesses and convenient hunting supply stores with big guns.

Got an exasperated text message from Alan who was not going to be home on time. He returned eventually, sulking because he had been stuck waiting for a plane with all his baggage checked in. He has coursework to finish, and took two textbooks with him. Those two textbooks alone were over the carry-on limit, so they sat in the hold as he twiddled his fingers waiting for hours.

April 15th

Aaargh. I have been wondering for ages why a group of aliases in /etc/aliases stopped working. They used to work. And then I forgot about them or I upgraded or something and something went wrong. I didn't notice for ages, until I needed one of them. It has been a pain because I use some of those for the web, and pressing the Remind me of my password button works (ie, it claims to have sent an email) but reminds me of no password. Discovered why today.

At some stage I had put comments in the file to say what each alias was for. And I had put the comments on the same line: things like
alias1 accountname # where I use alias1
alias2 accountname # where I use alias2
This turns out to be very stupid, as I found out when I tried to mail one and got a bounce back of permanent fatal errors because hobbit #for web: User unknown

Argh. Removed all the comments. Regenerated the file (and it took me too long hunting through man pages before I had a brainwave and checked the top of the aliases file only to see Regenerate this file with this command. Sigh). And now I can have my password back for various sites, such as Tesco. Only it still seems to be quicker to walk to the shop than to wade through a website going click click click.

On the other hand, it doesn't rain on the web. Decisions, decisions.

April 14th

Alan off to Brussels.

He had not got around to buying more Euros, but luckily I have a secret cache of money that falls out of his pockets on his return from places. He can now at least afford to buy a map when he gets there and find a cashpoint with it.

April 13th

Alan spent the day catching up with email and doing the homework he didn't do in Newcastle (although he did take the textbooks, which were really heavy. And boring.)

LUG in the evening. Lots and lots of people.

April 12th

Weekend Firsts operate on bank holidays too. Sat in blissful solitude back to Swansea on a train bursting at the seams in all the other carriages with people who didn't know you can upgrade from normal-expensive to abnormal-only-slightly-more-expensive. Forgot to tell them. Well, actually, the weekend first stuff is pretty pricy, but it meant Alan could stretch his legs and not grumble about cramp, so it was worth it to keep him quiet.

Much spam to return to. If you sent me a legit 22-line email with a name in the subject, I deleted it. Which reminds me: Erica: got your mail. AOL hates my email address. I am trying from a different address now. Write again :)

What a useful thing a diary is.

April 10th

My sister got married today. It was all lovely. Alan wore a suit. Gosh.

April 8th

To Newcastle by train. The strange metal shelf at Bristol Parkway station is the perfect height on which to store clothes in suit-carrier coat-hanger things.

Oh god said Alan, arriving at the hotel room. You'll like this. He is still convinced that I am obsessed by the colour purple. (Not true.) Never have I seen a hotel room in more colours. All dark, except for the yellow. We'll never find the socks on the floor here.

April 7th

Fatal mistake: buying four books. Read two already.

April 6th

Looked more closely at the address label from the parcel of yesterday. I see why the delivery man was confused now. It was addressed to what a friend described as that well-known Welshman Sir Gorllewin Morgannwg. As the first line. This probably looks reasonable, but unfortunately it's the Welsh for the (old) county, and not for a person.

Largish meal at dinner (the lunchtime sort). Is that all there is? asked Alan at teatime (which some people call dinner..) Well, we had a big meal already.. Oh yes, I forgot. Good point. Next morning came down to find the remnants of yet another meal he had extracted from the freezer in the middle of the night. So much for trying to eat sensibly.

How can you forget what you had to eat within eight hours in the first place?

April 5th

A survey claims to show that Britons can't distinguish between films and fact. I can't decide whether to expostulate along the lines of what on earth was their survey sample? or whether just to giggle madly. (Although from everything I've heard about Braveheart, it might be better to treat it all as fiction than to take a single factoid from it as truth.)

Taro'r Post, a Welsh-language programme on Radio Cymru was doing stuff about Welsh on the web today, and talked to a bunch of people I more or less knew about being on it. In the event, I knew one person on it, had met another person, and don't know the third, but I read his blog avidly. When I can understand it. I think there were a couple of others they didn't have time for: or at least I know there was one other who was expecting to be on.

So faced with the possibility that people I know were on the radio, clearly I had to record it. Couldn't find a single audio tape to use. Okay, where's the radio card? Argh. It's in the Fedora beta box and I haven't got any useful tools for recording off it short of dd or something equally stupid, and there is no time to build the things (and doubtless to destroy the build tools into the bargain). But wait. Our television does radio too, and I can video the television programmes, so can I video (ahem, for some value of video) the radio programmes? Apparently so. Went hunting through unlabelled tape after unlabelled tape for something to record onto. I am not very good with the collection of electronics that make up the television. They work for Alan but not for me. As well as Dr Who and the Planet of the Spiders and an episode of A Very Peculiar Practice (wow, brilliant), I appear to have created a video of four hours of broadcasting a message to the effect that BBC 4 will begin broadcasting at 7pm. Wonder what that was meant to be...

Recorded something at least. It seemed to be the right programme, but have not yet dared play it back for fear that it was in fact stuck on live broadcasts from the House of Commons or the best of celebrity product placements or something.

No less than three parcels arrived for Alan today. I was about to chastise him over his Ebay habit when he claimed only to have expected one. Another was something he hadn't ordered, and the final one was a book. That was particularly good: the delivery man wanted to know why it was addressed in Welsh (which he doesn't speak). We have no idea, because we didn't do it. It came from America somewhere, and finished with Cymru, England, which is along the lines of sending something to Canada, USA, I should think. Points for trying, at least. (But not from the perplexed delivery man, I suspect.)

April 4th

Over to Steve's for food. The weekend get-togethers are getting larger over time, and I think it's our turn soon. We still have the problem of the the great holes gouged out of the wall by Alan. Perhaps I can call them a conversation piece.

April 3rd

Peeved. Watching television for the first time in ages and all the picture went odd and the signal vanished, just as I was learning about Iron Age chariots. Didn't realise until later that the power spike took my computer out, too. Boo hiss. Why is my test box on the UPS and my desktop not?

April 2nd

Over to Cardiff in the evening for the Gnome-cy gang's contribution to the 2.6 release parties. Well, some of us. Lots of others couldn't make it. Waah.

April 1st

Oh, for a good April Fool.. Instead, all we got was a phone call from the bank checking that Alan really had been playing with his debit card online in the small hours. For some reason, they found his hours odd.

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.)