The more accurate diary. Really. Old stuff

Warning: These are old.

June 2004

June 26th to July 1st

GUADEC. Hooray.

I had not been as enthusiastic as usual about Guadec this year befre going. But it turned out to be absolutely fabulous. Met lots of old friends, made (I hope) some new ones, and heard about lots of cool stuff. Free software really is changing the world. Honestly.

June 25th

Ferry from Newcastle to Kristiansand. All the rest will go in the write-up when I get it done.

June 24th

Apparently the winds are high enough to delay all the ferries. Went to Baltic (an art gallery, not the sea) in what the tourist bumf is pleased to call NewcastleGateshead. Argh, StudlyCaps in city names? Anyway, growing up north of the Tyne, Gateshead is a completely different place to me. We went there on a school geography trip :)

Okay, so this school trip was in fact because Gateshead had a much better demonstration of some theory to do with Central Business Zones and various rings around it which originally came from Chicago or something. You can't demonstrate it so easily in Newcastle. There is this great big town moor all across the north border of the city. The only thing that lives there is the cows. And, at the time I was there, the Hoppings: a fair originally set up as a temperance fair to tempt people away from Newcastle Races to a morally healthier environment. No comment.

Anyway, went to Gateshead. And the Baltic. It rained.

June 23rd

Caught up with mail; caught up with diary. Left Alan list of Things To Do whilst I am away (clean fridge, your horrible beetroot has escaped and stained everything purple, remember bin day and so on). Hope I don't need to tell him how to work the washing machine. I have left it on tumble-dry after an emergency must-dry-this moment, and forgot to tell him.

Train journey from hell, involving an hour and a half to get from Newport to Bristol. Woo. Eventually arrived at Newcastle and parents.

June 22nd

Packed. The day before going away for ages is such a clever day to reorganise all the mail. It is still the same address, but now a different machine. Hope this doesn't mess up all my mailing list subscriptions. vim isn't on the box either. Grr. I shall return in ten days and probably find everything exploded. Hope Alan spots said explosions and fixes them.

June 21st

Last day of Welsh classes this term. Sniffle. Alan is back at work, which means an instant switch into US hours again. His appearance at the LUG meeting must have been on his lunch hour, so to speak.

June 20th

Played around with getting to Newcastle, where I am getting the ferry to Kristiansand and Guadec. This has been an organisational nightmare, because first Alan wasn't coming, then he was, then no, he's not, now the ferry prices have gone up, and so on and so forth. Part of the reason for getting the ferry in the first place was to avoid flying. I fly too much. We don't have a car, we recycle what we can (which is tricky with no car to get to the very out-of-town recycling place), we (well, Alan) switch lights off, I decided to stick with the low-power box instead of the power-hungry Athlon, we put on jumpers instead of the heating.. and then I get in a plane. Bah. Probably cancels the lot out. And in the end, it is half the price to get the plane than it is to get the train to Newcastle. Succumbed, guiltily, since I still don't know what's happening with the threatened train strike. Bad Telsa.

June 19th

Day began at 4am. That would be when Alan finally remembered to go to bed. This was clever because today we were supposed to be going out by 11am. Surprise to say, he didn't.

Out with Justin, Sharon and Dick to find Cwm-Deri Wine (no, we did not set off to find out whether the location of Pobol y Cwm really existed). Found it, and the restaurant, and the friendly dog, and lots of wine.

On the way back spotted a sign advertising a chocolate farm. A what? That's what we thought, so clearly we had to go and find out. As we progressed to the place I realised that this chocolate place is only a mile or so from where my cousins lived until recently. All those years, and they never told me about this place! Still, at least they have online ordering. Discovered pear-and-something chocolate, chilli-and-lime fudge (I'm not joking, and it's lovely, even if Alan thinks it tastes of Opal Fruits -- and if that's the thanks I get for remembering to bring him something, next time I don't think I shall), and some very very nice plain chocolate.

After sampling all those wines and chocolates and fudge, what we really needed was cheese. We were very close to Llanboidy, which is the name of a local cheese, but only found out later than the cheese is actually made in the splendidly-named Login (Alan thought this was the ideal location for a telecommuting hacker at one stage, but then realised he would need a car..), which we had gone past already.

Gorgeous day. I have been in the area before but I have never had such good weather as today. I think we were lucky. Alan missed a good day out. It will serve him right. Nothing is so important that it still requires hacking at four am. No. It isn't.

June 18th

I met Word today. I do not like it.

Here are my sum totals with Windows and Windows programs: clicking on the network icon in the library to get the telnet prompt to get to my Unix and Linux accounts back in 1993 or so; playing Freecell in someone's office waiting for them to finish and leave; playing Freecell on Alan's PDA before it had a brain transplant and learned Linux instead of WinCE; attempting to use IE and a MUSH client on my sister's Win98 box (which has also had a brain transplant) and sitting through one two-hour session on the nursing course designed to teach us how to use the computer (running Windows and presumably Word) in the hall of residence to write up our projects (since I was not living there and had a perfectly adequate computer at home, I got permission to skip the other sessions and handed mine in in Applix and something else I forget).

So today I was in the local Welsh centre in order to learn how to use and clean the Very Exciting New Coffee Machine which has arrived. It will get pressed into place for the cafe on Wednesday and Thursday lunchtimes, and will apparently be re-programmed to say things like Water Low and Cleaning Cycle in Welsh. And that means we have to add some prices onto the menus stuck around the place. And the menus are printed from a computer. Which runs.. that Word thing.

So we found the computer and shoved a floppy which has the current prices in, and then Telsa, you know about computers, yes? Can you just add in the rest of the corrections whilst I..?

You may fill in the blanks as you see fit.

In fairness, it did not crash, although the file did all vanish away when no-one was watching and had to be reloaded. Fonts changed as new lines were started; words changed colour; accents failed to work because the font didn't have accents and it didn't know how to go and find substitutes (yay for fontconfig) so we have to ink them all in by hand after the printing; and when the end of the page was reached, the page break menu entry refused to become active, remaining greyed out, so that I typed the exciting chocolatey drinks into a gap between two virtual sheets of paper in the end.

But to all of these problems, there was always a response of Oh yes, it does that. You need to... and then a surreal workaround. I realise all programs need some time to get used to them. And you should see me in OpenOffice: I keep using joe or vim commands in it and wondering why my left-hand margin is now off the right hand side of the paper. But if people can manage all of this madness that is Word, they can surely cope with Linux.

Suddenly the question of yesterday about bringing some CDs of that Linux thing with the Welsh on it becomes a priority. Fontconfig. Accented characters which work. Mmmm.

And of course, we now have coffee for coffee-snobs in the cafe. (And chocolate so thick that I don't think even Alan will be able to drink a double one. I intend to be there to giggle when he tries.) So if you speak or want to learn Welsh, are near Swansea, and fancy a scary hissing machine making strange gurgling noises to the accompanying commentary of the peanut gallery formed by some of the regulars on Thursdays (or Wednesdays, but then you miss the commentary..) you know where to go.

Except that it follows university terms (ish) and thus will close in three weeks' time, but it will be back. With added explosions as soon as I get my hands on it, probably.

June 17th

Coo. Can you bring some CDs of that Linux thing in? With the Welsh on it? This is what you get for boasting that your computer speaks Welsh.

June 15th

Hooray! Sharon had lots of stuff to take to the civic amenity site or something (aka: the council dump, which will recycle a lot more than the stuff they collect at the door), and had space in the car for Mount Cardboard, which was was threatening to rearrange Swansea geography (or, at least, our house) quite substantially.

The room looks so much bigger now.

June 14th

Have caught a cold from somewhere, which means I can't hear properly. I don't know why, but most people get blocked-up noses. I get blocked-up ears.

Alan has been present, but unseen and unheard, in the house all day. I am worried. What is he up to now?

June 13th

Another bin bag full of rubbish outside Alan's room. They are beginning to block the way into the bathroom.

Whilst washing the cupboards in the kitchen, discovered the sponge tins I bought in a fit of enthusiasm some months ago. Unused. I am hopeless at cakes. Made a sponge cake just to see how hopeless. Amazingly, it worked.

Turned into a kitchen day: lots of cleaning, sorting, discovering of things which must be eaten before sell-by and best-before dates. Lots of consequent attempts to create stuff from them. The fridge is now crammed full of stuff. Almost a shame we went shopping, really.

Watched the EU election results in the evening. I know, sad, but the alternative was football. And Peter Snow and his graphical representations of possible results, actual results, what might happen if trends continue and the rest are national institutions by now, although the famed swingometer took hours to appear.

I am not a fan of the UKIP and even less of a fan of their star recruit, so it was not a great night from my point of view, although the tabloids and anything owned by Murdoch will doubtless be happy; and seeing the BNP repeatedly getting votes was worse. Bah.

June 12th

Fatal error today. Took Alan shopping. Worse, took Alan shopping to the supermarket. He doesn't like shopping anyway, although he is very good at telling me what I forgot when I return from it. He insisted on referring to the list. Ooh, we need this It's not on the list; we don't need it. Ended up grabbing pen and scribbling them on the list, at which stage he agreed that we needed them. And so on.

He does it deliberately so that I shall never take him again. Naturally, I am not going to fall for it. Which inevitably means he comes up with worse things to do. I just wait in awe for the next attempt.

Out to see a band in the evening. Fun.

June 11th

Local election results had trickled through overnight, but most of the results came in during the day. Mid-term (ie, midway through a Westminster parliamentary term) local elections often get votes based on opinions about the government rather than local issues. Only fair, since people do seem to make general election decisions based on whether their bins are collected or not. Perhaps we should switch the results round next time and see what happens.

Swansea slipped from Labour to No Overall Control, which means no single party holds a majority in the council and negotiations will ensue. Something to do with the amazing disappearing Swansea Leisure Centre, presumably.

I'm not quite sure what the local issues elsewhere which resulted in two seats for the UKIP were: did the Hull council have a website where payment was evilly accepted in Euros? Or is Derby about to attempt to leave the EU on its own? What was the point of voting for them in the local elections? Not that I can understand the point of voting for them in the EU either (if you didn't want software patents you could have voted Green, SNP or Plaid Cymru, after all) so perhaps I am being petty.

June 10th

And yet another bin liner of rubbish! He has also started vacuuming things. Not, alas, the floor. I found him vacuuming the power supply of one of the computers.

Voting today, for both local council and EU elections. Discovered one person I know went out to vote at 7am: now that's enthusiasm. We have a council of 70-odd, in Labour hands. For now...

June 9th

Rubbish went out. Alan has filled another bin liner with more. I expect more to come.

Mail died today. The box overheated. I how how it feels..

June 8th

Alan has collected an entire bin liner of rubbish from the computer room where he works, to go out tonight for the bins. It does not seem to be making any difference.

June 7th

Oooh. TheyWorkForYou.Com is brilliant. Well, if you are in Britain, at least :)

Bastien has started everyone on #gnome and Planet Gnome counting up how many of the bottom 100 films on IMDb they have seen. I have only managed two, but I have gone one better. Whilst I have never watched the whole of Plan 9 from Outer Space, merely the clips that get trotted out, I have seen instead the whole of Plan 9 from Outer Space: the Musical. Beat that.

Before you think that sounds like a laugh, it was absolutely awful. The one decent big song is the one straight after the interval, by which time, if you have any sense at all, you have left.

June 6th

Alan is in disgrace. After getting in the way and ladling out the food from the pan, he left the hob on. If he had done the washing-up, he would have noticed in time to rescue it. As it was, I went to do the washing up some hours later, and discovered the charred remnants of what was intended to be another meal's worth of food. I summoned Alan, who promptly scraped all the salvageable non-charred stuff out and put it in a dish for later. Uuurgh.

Alan did the washing-up after all, then. Under supervision.

June 5th

Over to friends for a surprise birthday party. The victim was lured out of the house in order to prepare it, and disappeared for hours and hours - argh! He was located and returned eventually, and was pleasingly surprised at the party: we all thought he was bound to have noticed something, what with all the phone calls and so on, but he hadn't realised what it was all about. Hoorah.

June 4th

Out to town with a friend then back to see the new(ish -- not seen her for a while) house. We had to dash out for some shopping. That may be one of the biggest supermarkets in Swansea -- surely it must be, in fact, it's huge -- but it's not a very happy one. I counted three people smiling whilst we were there.

Out to see Harry Potter in the evening. Enjoyed it a lot more than the second one.

Alan didn't come. He was celebrating the end of exams (and the taught part of the course) with the rest of his class. As ever, he has no idea how the exam went. Ah well, only the results of the last two exams and one essay to come. Other than that, there is only the dissertation left. That is due in in September, so I don't think I shall see a lot of him until the autumn.

June 3rd

Bafflement of the day: what is this word attendee? And more to the point: why?

An employer employs. An employee is employed. A detainer detains. A detainee is detained. A trainer trains. A trainee is trained. So what does an attendee do? Attends, apparently.

Fowler is no help on this one. Six paragraphs on two different versions of -ee (the second one is for diminutives like bootee, no, not one who is booted) and all it does is remark that whilst some ---ee words are like those I began with, others, remarkably, are added to intransitive verbs and mean 'one who ----s'. Although, annoyingly, it looks like I should not be complaining about Why don't we just say attenders?, since attendee is apparently allowed. Grr.

What a silly language.

June 2nd

Alan had an exam today. In a spirit of uxorial supportiveness, I told him I would be out when he got back (I wasn't) and would not be able to make him tea (still didn't).

Over to Cardiff in the evening with friends after getting a last-minute spare ticket for Bill Bailey. I didn't know anything about him, but friends assured me that he was good. They were right. I have no idea how to summarise him. He talked about... stuff. Lots of stuff. He played... music. Lots of instruments. He was funny. is as good as I get. But that doesn't come close to describing it. Not surreal, exactly, just.. ever so faintly odd. From what might even have been a real experience on public transport (well, as a fellow user of the thing, I found it entirely plausible) to absolutely wonderful musical weirdness.

When I got home, found Alan had ignored all the tea-construction kits in the fridge and cupboards (preparation of more than five minutes being anathema to him) in favour of take-out (a walk of five minutes and a wait of ten minutes being better, apparently). Why he asks for Quorn and then goes out and buys meat is beyond me.

June 1st

Alan still revising. I was up to the shops before eight. Incredible. There were fifty people waiting outside the door at eight o'clock (yes, I was so bored I counted). Realised on the way back that I seemed to have gone accidentally vegetarian for a week. This is partly Alan's fault because he specifically asked for a particular Quorn thing. Let's see whether he notices no meat for a week.

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.)