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OCTOBER 2003

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Friday 31st October 2003
10.50 GMT
Weather :
a bright clear start to the day after overnight rain. 10 C
     Last nights The Bill , which was broadcast live, was quite good. I was looking out for any major cock-ups, but I didn't notice anything. There were a few minor things like actors looking in the wrong direction before quickly correcting themselves. On one occassion an actress appeared to look for directions to someone out of shot, but on the whole it was well done. I would say the only major error was in not allowing for the fact that it was raining on the night. Some actors did not appear to be prepared for being out in the rain and had light clothing on. Also there were probably a few continuity errors where some external scenes were actually done in a studio where it was obviously dry.

     I had a bit of a late night, last night, hence this entry is rather late in the day. I did come down and feed Nelly at 6 am, but went back to bed again. I woke up at just gone 9.30 and decided to wash and get dressed before sitting down to write this.

     This is going to sound a little repetative, but my major plans for today are to go to Tesco's for more cans of cat food. But there are a other few things that I should do. It's the last day of the month so I will have to sort out a new page for this diary and correct other pages to point at it. I also should sort out the real dummy transmitter for Patricks filming. This transmitter is actually going to be a real dummy transmitter rather than the last which was a dummy real transmitter. There is a subtle difference there if you raed it back. It is for a quick insert during an interview when a raid on RFL is described. The raid took place in 1968 and the G.P.O. took away a dummy transmitter not realising that the real transmitter was concealed in a speaker cabinet. So lots to do now and a few plans for the future.

     Tomorrow is the 1st Saturday of the month drink with my old work colleagues and Sunday could be a day (or part day) out on c2c trains. They are running a special offer over the weekend with single tickets for just 1 from and to everywhere on their network.
http://www.c2c-online.co.uk/leisure/special.html
20.00 GMT
     I have actually had a lazy day. I went shopping and I read some stuff.  No, I lie, I have designed next months diary page. For a sneak preview you can click on the link to November at the top of the page. I feel quite accomplished because the whole page (apart from one tiny bit) was made with Mozilla Composer for Linux. The one tiny part was the background image. I had to boot to windows to used my scanner, and to mess around with the picture using Paint Shop Pro. It is a shame that my old scanner has no drivers that will work with Linux. If I could use it with Linux I could also force myself to get to grip with The Gimp (image processing software for Linux). Of course if i was a real geek I would have designed the page just using a text editor rather than an (almost) WYSIWYG html editor !

     I am a little bored now. There is nothing on TV to amuse me until 9.30 when Have I got News For You comes on. John Humphrys is hosting it this week. I think he'll be OK, but not a patch on Angus Deyton. It is about time he was forgiven and allowed back to where he belongs !
Thursday 30th October 2003

06.50 GMT
Weather :
cold and damp, but clear skies.
     Another early morning after 6 hours of good sleep. I can only remember a fragment of dream that seemed to be about tying a nuclear letter bomb to a toy (helium filled) balloon and launching it out of a window. I can't remember it going up, but presumably it did. Nor can I remember it exploding.
    
     I have no plans for today beyond going out to buy New Scientist. When I do go to get it I might take the scenic route. Although my trip into Lewisham yesterday was really a waste of time (apart from geting the Boots voucher ), it did feel good to stretch my legs for an hour or two. I sort of fancy doing the same again today. What would be good would be to go to W.H. Smiths in Lewisham and get the DVD version of the next Linux Format magazine. My local Smiths can't be relied upon to get the version with the DVD cover disk, but the Lewisham branch is so much bigger and may stock it. All I have to do is to find out when the next edition is published. What I do know is that it should have Mandrake Linux 9.2 on the cover disk. I am currently using 9.1 and there are a couple of things that I hope may be improved (or corrected) in 9.2 if I upgrade to it.

     I must try and catch a weather forecast this morning. As the day continues to brighten it looks as if it will be a glorious sunny day. It will still be cold, but I could be tempted to take a wander into the park to take some pictures of the trees shedding their last yellowing leaves. Where the sun is hitting a tree out the back here, some of the leaves look like they are glowing gold. (take a look at the picture on the 13th of this month)
09.20 GMT
Weather : still bright and sunny. 5.5 C
It may only be 5.5 C outside my back door, but the sun gives the impression it should be much warmer. In fact at the front of the house, which faces south, it is warmer. My external thermometer is in permanent shade and never gets to feel the heat of the sun - which is how it should be, but it also is mounted onto brick which may make it slow to respond to the air warming up with the morning sunshine. When I go out later I am expecting the sun to warm up my black leather jacket, and I may, personally, begin to feel quite warm, but still with cold hands and face. The weather forecast on TV this morning suggested that we are headed for wind and rain, but there is no sign of that yet.
14.00 GMT
Weather :
Sky now grey and it feel like rain on way.
I only took a short walk this morning. W.H.Smiths, Boots and back home again. I have been very brave and made a Dentist appointment. I'll be prodded and poked next Wednesday morning. I can't say I am looking forward to it, but with one filling definitely falling apart it will be good to get that seen to before I get any toothache.

16.00 GMT

I have just uploaded a new page with some scans of PC adverts from Feb 1993. Some of the prices, for such primitive equipment, were rather eye opening. Take a look HERE.

Wednesday 29th October 2003
06.30 GMT
Weather : cold, grey and raining.
Hangover : Bad !
     Actually my hangover is getting better already. I went to the pub last night and had several pints of Youngs Special followed by a bottle of Winter Warmer. When I came home I went straight to bed and read for a little while. I was reading the April 1993 edition of PC Today. It was fascinating remembering just how primitive computers were just 10 years ago. The prices of some stuff was very alarming and I will quote some stuff here later. I hadn't really intended to do an entry here at this time of the morning so I didn't bring the magazine down with me. I was woken up by the pathetic wails of Schiba who had elected to stay out all night. He came in all cold and soggy ! He has now had some tuna flakes and has gone to bed. I think I'm going back to bed now as well !
12.35 GMT
Weather :
Overcast, wet but mild. 9 C
     I did go back to bed this morning for about an hour, but I didn't sleep as such. I may have dozed off for the odd minute, but that was all. In the end I decided to get up and finally get my arse into gear and go out to Lewisham. I did indeed go to Lewisham to visit The Link and see about an upgrade for my cellphone. The bad news was that I would only be entitled to the phone on offer, the Nokia 3510i, as that was part sponsored by The Link themselves. My usage was too small to justlfy anything else. The worse news was that they were out of stock. Now why does that not surprise me ? Fortunately it was not an entirely wasted journey. I was shanghied outside The Link shop by a small band of market researchers doing research about transport. The questions seemed rather bizarre most of the time. A lot of them were about choosing to use either a double decker bus or a bendy bus. Maybe their is some weird mystical difference between the two, but for me I just get on the first bus that comes and is going where I want to go. In an ideal world I might opt to wait for an old RT bus if I knew one was on it's way, and possibly for a bendy bus as a first time tryout, but they would both be unusual. Any other time it would still be the first bus that came along. Another bizzare question compared the frequency of the two buses. Would I wait for a bendy bus if they were more frequent ? Fuck off ! I'd still get the first bus that came as, presumably, any other sane person would. By this time I was getting highly suspicious that the research was being conducted by a manufacturer of bendy buses. All this utter garbage was made worthwhile in the end as I got a 5 Boots voucher for my troubles.

    Now another thing that is bugging me, and getting to make me angry, is NTL's smtp server. I have been trying to send an e-mail since early this morning and it keeps failing. Consulting NTL's server status web site it says :-
29 October 2003 09:29 ntlworld Email Service - Intermittent

ntlhome internet customers attempting to receive their ntlworld email may currently be unable to do so due to a technical fault.

Our engineers are aware and are working towards a resolution as soon as possible.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.
I hope the buggers get it up and running soon or I will get really mad !
21.03 GMT
     Tonights "The Bill" was all action for a change. Too many episodes this year (and possibly earlier) are like an extension of Eastenders. Tomorrow nights episode promises to be interesting as it is going to go out live. It would be amusing if they had a big cock-up somewhere. I'll be watching it with anticipation.
     It seems as if the dentist is calling. I was supposed to have a check up a few weeks back, but I have been putting it off. Today I lost part of a filling so I guess I can put it off no longer and I'll phone the tomorrow (probably !).
     I think that NTL have sorted out their mail server now. So I think I have a couple of e-mails to write now.
Tuesday 28th October 2003
07.15 GMT
Weather :
Cold, bright morning with clear skies. 1.5 C
     It is damn close to freezing this morning. I wouldn't be surprised to see the first frosts appear in a day or two.
     Schiba, with a little gentle help from me, decided to be sensible last night. I persuaded him to go out at 5.30 yesterday and he came back in a couple of hours later. He settled for a few hours, but I went to bed early last night and soon he decided that he wanted to prowl around. He really wanted some attention, but I was tired and eventually I left him to it and went to sleep until 5 am, this morning. At that point he managed to wake me up to say he had to go out. I was ready to get a bit annoyed thinking that he would change his mind once he had detected how cold it was, but no, he went straight out without any fuss and I was able to get back to bed and sleep for another hour and a half. He was back for his breakfast just before I started writing this, and is now getting ready for a nap on the settee.

     I might go along to The Link today to find out about the cellphone upgrade I mentioned yesterday. I had a look at Nokia's web site last night and found all they could say about the phone. It is very ambiguous. In the FAQ section there is a question and answer about how many pictures the phone can store. The answer says it depends on how much other stuff is stored on the phone and leaves it at that. Nowhere does it mention anything about the phones storage capacity in  KBytes, or anything useful like that. Well, I will mainly want it for the more useful functions like making and receiving calls, so the "extras" are really of no concern. So my real reason for a free upgrade is not for getting any extra facilities, but as a means of getting a fresh battery for nothing.
Monday 27th October 2003
07.12 GMT
Weather : Very cold with clear skies.
     I woke up feeling very tense with a headache. That seems to be passing now and I expect that by the time I have showered and dressed it will have gone. I can remember that I had many dreams last night, but cannot really recall what they were about. The last thing I remember seems very odd and I cannot place it in any context. I was using, or testing a radio controlled dragonfly, and for some reason this was taking place in Knightsbridge. I had emerged from somewhere and had to cross the road, but my path was blocked by some sort of procession. At the head of it were four very large black cars. They were in the same style as you would see following a hearse except they were huge and seated six people abreast. I think someone in the crowd said it was "George Dubya Bush", but I did not see him in any of those cars. Following the cars were several columns of Salvation Army women. I think there was something behind them, but I decided to cross the road between these ranks of the Salvation Army. I seemed to cross the road in perfect synchronisation with the marchers who were marching at right angles to me. None of us had to slow down or were involved in any collisions.  I remember feeling quite pleased with myself for my timing, and also relieved about it as well. There were a lot of police around and I wanted to avoid a "crash" at all costs. It was, more or less, at this point that I woke up feeling a bit confused about what had been going on.

     First thing for today is shopping. Nelly says her breakfast is inedible and Schiba has left home ! So cat food is at the top of my shopping list. I find it bizarre that so much of my world revolves around cat food these days ! I don't know what to do after shopping. I'll probably be back on the PC upstairs as I have a load of off-air recordings (all BBC7) that need top-and-tailing and filed in their correct folders. What I'd like to do is to go out for a couple of hours, but I can't think of anywhere I really fancy going. Chances are I'll be staying in.
17.41 GMT
Weather : 
Dark now, but it has been a sunny day. Max temp = 10 C, Temp now 5 C
     I think it is going to be a cold night, tonight. I threw Schiba out at 5.30. I just hope he has the sense to come back in later tonight, as I hate to think of him out in the freezing night. He often does it though, and it is his choice.

     The headache I had first thing this morning cleared after I went out for a short walk and a trip around Tesco's. For the rest of the day I have just sort of pottered round doing a bit of this and a bit of that. I don't think I have really achieved anything though. I did tidy up 3 (or was it 4) off air recordings. Two of them I listened to and enjoyed. the first was an episode of The Goon Show, and the second was episode 3 of The quatermass Memoirs. It makes me wonder what stuff being recorded now will still be enjoyable in 40 to 50 years time ? I am tempted to be very cynical and say very little !

     I have been invited to pop down to those ever so nice ( ????) people at The Link to upgrade my cellphone. Apparently I can get the Nokia 3510i as a free upgrade. It has a colour screen and can receive pictures as well (wow !). I am very tempted although I am suspicious of extra costs being incurred should I actually want to receive picture messages on it. In theory just receiving messages should be free, but for some modern technologies the goalposts often seem to move without rationale or  explanation. It would actually be handier for me if it could read a memory card and display pictures I had uploaded to the card on my PC. Although having said that, I can imagine few situations where I would actually want to do that.
Sunday 26th October 2003
11.12 GMT
Weather : A bright sunny day. Mostly clear sky. 7 C (overnight low 5)
Autumn is mostly definitely here now that the clocks have changed back to GMT (as they should be all year round !). I was able to get up, watch Dr Who, go back to bed for an hour, and still be up, washed and dressed to write this by 11.12.

I am still faffing around with the mpeg 2 video files produced by my DVB-T TV card. I have found out that the lip sync problems stem from the fact that the recordings can start with B frames instead of an I frame. These are technical terms for the types of video frames used in an mpeg 2 video stream. I frames contain the complete picture and B frames are just the part of the pictures that has changed since the last I frame (there are also P frames that are guides for sudden changes in picture content). It seems as if most of my video apps see the B frames as corrupt, unless they have been preceeded by an I frame, and thus ignore them. Meanwhile the interleaved sound during that time is treated as valid and so the video always lags behind the sound. The only video editor I have that will directly open mpeg 2 files is Pinnacle Studio 8. Unfortunately it is only a "lite" version that came with my DVD burner and will not let me unlink the sound from the picture so I can change their relative places. It appears that if I were to buy the full version of it I could do just that. There could be a catch though. I am not sure that it actually displays those B frames at the start, and that will make the task of getting accurate sync difficult. I am going back to Avermedia's website now to have another look around. I think I noticed it had a users forum and I want to see if anyone else has solved this problem.
Saturday 25th October 2003
08.25
Weather : clear skies. cold
     I had a full eight hours sleep last night, and I think I feel better for it. During the night I had some pretty bizzare dreams. In one of those dreams I was back in an old haunt of mine, The Forest Barn pub/bar. The layout of the place seemed strange, but it was definately there.  I used to be a (very) regular there back in the very early eighties. It was an odd place because many of the regulars seemed to be crooks, and others coppers from Sydenham police station. In my dream there were no coppers there, just crooks or worse. I think it might have been one of the bar staff who suddenly announced that he had to "dispose" of one of the previous management. ( There were several changes of management during the time I actually drank there.) He rushed out the back door and we heard gunshots. When he came back in again he was carrying new clothing. What happened next was a bit of a blur, but gave the impression that many of the regulars had sprung into action to change the guys clothing and appearance. It all seemed highly efficient and well practised, but at the same time it was like an edit in a film. In the next scene (to continue with the film analogy) I was still drinking at the bar, but feeling very uneasy about my fellow drinkers.  I can remember very little after that, but I do recall a woman who I fancied going off with a mate of mine. That was strange because in real life he is bent as a nine bob note.
     I continued with my experiments on video files recorded from my new TV card yesterday. I am beginning to get a bit frustrated with those files now. They are in mpeg 2 format, but it seemes to be something a little non standard. I am sure that the way the audio and video is interleaved is the wrong order compared to, say, mpeg 2 for a Super VCD or DVD. I am limited with the applications I have that will open those files. Windows Media Player plays them fine, but you cannot do any more than play the files with that. Pinnacle Studio 8 and Win DVD creator will both open them, but the sound/picture synchronisation is all wrong. I did open one using Studio 8 and save it as a dv encoded avi file. I then opened that file using Edit Studio. Edit studio allowed me to unlink the audio and video, and then move them relative to each other to get very close to synchronisation. Upon playback of the newly saved file the synchronisation was good enough, but the picture quality had deteriorated and was suffering from lots of mpeg artifacts. The poor picture quality is bad enough, but the time it took to just get back to a usable file was horrendous. I am going to try and find a better solution.
Friday 24th October 2003
10.31
Weather : Bright, but cloudy. 4.5 C (overnight low 2 C)
     This looks like a late start to today. In fact I have been up for an hour and a half. Obviously I did have a lie in, but I decided to do all my ablutions before coming downstairs and writing this up. Since washing my hair, showering and getting dressed I have fed the cats, emptied the rubbish bin and watched a little TV (mainly teletext). From this revelation you might conclude that I usually write this unwashed and undressed. I have to confess you are mostly right, although it is unusual, but not unknown, for me to be not wearing at least a pair of underpants for these early morning entries.  You didn't really want to know that did you ? I hope the image of me typing away in just a pair of underpants does not put you off reading this. Besides at this time I am fully dressed.

     Why do we call underpants a pair of underpants. It is only one item. It has two leg holes, but it has a further hole for the body, and even one for the willy. But none of these holes splits the item into more than one part.  As I write this I wonder "Am I  going mad" ? I am sure that the phrase "I am wearing a pair of underpants " is valid. Perhaps it is only me who says pair. Perhaps it was my Mum who was mad. I am sure I can recall her saying ".....and there is a fresh pair of underpants in the draw". Did she mean there were two underpants in the draw ? Yet underpants is always spelled in the plural so you cannot say "give me an underpants" in the same way as you can say "give me a vest, or a shirt".  Of course you can say "give me an  underpant" ,but what is an underpant in the singular ?  At this point I could go on about trousers which are also often described as a pair of trousers (I think). I think I'll let it rest though.

    
I spent a lot of time playing with my new DVB-T TV card in the PC upstairs yesterday. I have two different versions of the software for it and each has it's own merits. The software supplied with it does cause a certain amount of "hiccuping" on some channels - notably some of the radio channels. However the video is otherwise smooth and non jerky. That contrasts with the updated software that never seems to have any glitches, but the video is jerky like it is only running at 10 frames per second. What is strange is that recorded video plays back perfectly ( although there is another problem there that I will describe later). I thought that the jerky pictures may have been down to my graphics card so I reduced the screen resolution and colour depth. That made no difference at all. Now I am wondering if my 1.4GHz Athlon is not up to the job of decoding the digital video, and yet that cannot be the case because the recorded video is perfect.  I think I have to conclude that it is the software driving the card that is to blame.
     I have made a short DVD and a slightly longer VCD from video recorded from the TV card. The picture quality on the DVD is superb, but on both disk the sound/vision synchronisation is really lousy.  For the moment, and until I have done more experimentation, I am going to blame it on Pinnacle Studio 8. This is the only video editor/DVD builder software I have that will open the mpeg 2 files that the TV card outputs onto the hard disk. Playing those files on Windows media player is perfect with no synchronisation problems, so it must be the way that Pinnacle Studio 8 opens those files. I think I will have to convert the mpeg file to an avi file, possibly as seperate audio and video files, and see how that fares. It is going to make the archiving of some TV programmes a very slow and long winded process, but if I can achieve the picture quality that it promises, then I guess I will have to put up with it.
Thursday 23rd October 2003
08.08
Weather : Another dull, gloomy and wet start to the day.
     My new card (the DVB-T card for the PC) didn't come yesterday much to my great dismay. So here I am again, waiting with all senses on high alert, hoping that the parcel man will come today.
     One of the things I did yesterday was to transfer a TV programme that I had recorded on the digital camcorder to the PC, and, after a bit of light editing, burn it to DVD. I decided to use Pinaacle Studio 8 for the entire process (except for the actual DVD burning). It was the first time I had tried it. After a few aborted attempts I managed to use it to do all I needed. As an editor I don't like it, but I did like some of the flexibility it has for arranging DVD menu systems. I have yet to find out if it works, but it looks as if I can design my own buttons and backgrounds, using something like Paint Shop Pro, and incorporate those in the final layout.
     Once Pinnacle Studio 8 had written the DVD file structure to my hard disk I then used Nero Burning Rom to do the actual burn onto the disks themselves. My burner is capable of writing at x4 and did not complain when I selected that for some disks that were only rated at x2. Mostly the disks burnt OK and I could play them on a PC, but on a set-top player I noticed a lot of jumping. So the next disk I wrote at x2 and that played perfectly. As I type this the PC upstairs is burning a third copy of the disk at x1. That will be my master copy and the x2 disk I'll give to a mate. The x4 disk I may as well throw away.
10.45
Oh happy, happy, joy joy. My DVB-T card has arrived. It is installed, and seems to work perfectly. I think I mentioned that some reports on the internet suggested it was a load of rubbish ! I suspect those people just had difficulty with signal strength. There is a big sticker on the box saying it must be used with a high gain aerial. Well that's fine if you live a long way from the transmitter(s), but around here that is the last thing you want. The signal here is enough overload the receiver, and that can cause the sort of problems that have been noted on the internet. It was something we used to see all the time during my years in the TV trade.
Wednesday 22nd October 2003
07.30
Weather :
dull,grey and wet
     There was a lot or rain overnight. I got up for a pee at around 3 am and it was raining quite hard then. Poor old Schiba was out in it after being in most of the day, yesterday. He was crying to come in when I woke up half an hour ago. Somehow he managed to come in almost bone dry. There were a few small damp patches were he may have brushed some wet leaves, but mostly he was dry. Being an ex-wild/alley/stray cat he obviously knows the best places to stay dry when it rains.
     Yesterday I downloaded a program called Basilisk II. If I can install it, it should emulate an old 68K Mac on this Linux box. I have my doubts that it will install because it relies on a very large pile of library files. I doubt I have them all, and it can be a bugger tracking them down and installing them.
     I am now waiting, with eager anticipation, for the arrival of the postman. He may have my new DVB-T TV receiver card with him. I sorted out the hard disks, that I proposed using to store the video from the new card, last night. There is one that is very fast, and one that is reasonably fast that is larger than the rest. I am going to try the largest one first. The very fastest I am going to hold back for my video editing machine down here. That has to record DV encoded files which use less compression than the mpeg 2 that comes from the TV card and hence has a far greater need to be able to swallow vast amounts of data quickly.
10.35

     Still waiting for the postman, or more precisely, the parcel delivery man !  I've got to admit that it is a little frustrating. Until he comes I am limited in what I can do. I am even avoiding going to do "numbers 2's" unless it become very neccesary. I guess I am just a big kid who can't wait for xmas !
     It is still a very dull day outside. It is not actually raining at this very minute, but the sky looks as if there is more to come. It is cold as well. Unless I put some shoes on, and step outside the back door, I can't see the thermometer to get an accurate reading, but what I can see looks like it is only 7 C.
Tuesday 21st October 2003
07.33
Weather :
Grey skies (but it is early yet). 4 C
     I had some weird dreams last night. Some of them seemed to be about being back at work, but it was all mixed up. I seemed to mix up all the people and all the places I have worked into one super work experience. Somewhere mixed in with all that there was a little bit of the future. I have, in reality, ordered a DVB-T, "Freeview" TV card from Maplins (http://www.maplin.co.uk).
    [ They are selling them off cheaply (79.99) because they appear not to work too well. I did a little web research and found that many of those who had trouble with them went on to buy other models by other manufacturers, and then had similar troubles with their new models. I concluded that maybe the cheap ones from Maplin's were probably not so bad after all. Some of the problems I read about reminded me of my experiences in an earlier life as a TV engineer - bad reception from too much or too little signal, or just a poor quality signal (multipaths etc). Other problems were similar to the problems you can get with recording any video on a PC - dropped frames because of slow disk access. ]
     In the dream (remember my dream ?) Maplin's were selling them cheaply because they were closing down. When I received the package I found that instead of the more usual bubble wrap they had stuffed the box with other useful items to fill up the space in the box. There were all sorts of goodies in there, although I cannot remember anything except a bag of nails !
     Back to reality now as the cold grey light of dawn streams through the window. That is not actually true. The cold grey light of dawn is struggling to trickle through the window, but I thought the first idea sounded more poetic. Once again all this is being written using Mozilla Composer . Yesterday I even managed to upload without resorting to my favourite windows program (Cute Ftp 4.0). I'll admit it was a hell of a struggle to set up the Linux program I used (Gftp), and I hope it has remembered some of my settings from yesterday ! It is beginning to look as if I can use Linux for most things. There are two areas that need a lot more learning. Firstly sound recording. I have a program on here called Audicity that is like an early, primitive version of Cool Edit Pro. It seems a very flaky program and the preferences settings seem to make the whole program crash if you try and change too many in one go. The second area is image editing. I have the world famous The Gimp to use, but I hate it. Having been brought up on Paint Shop Pro I find it almost impossible to get on with its Adobe Photoshop like interface !
     Today's major exploit is to sign on at 09.25. After that I will have a wander around the Aldi supermarket (which I pass on the way back from the Job Centre). Once home I must try and force myself to tidy up a load of off-air recordings that are sitting on the hard drive of my "audio workstation" upstairs (using Windows 2000 and Cool Edit Pro).
19.55
     Today has been mostly good. One failure was trying to get Wine (application layer to use Windows programs with Linux) to work properly. It sort of works, but will only open the tiniest and simplest programs. I need to do more work on this. I managed to get the CD burner working for three of the applications on this PC, but one is stubborn and will not play the game. I'll try and ignore that one.
     I got an e-mail from Maplins today about my new DVB-T TV card. With luck it should be here tomorrow.  I will be installing it upstairs on my Windows 2000 machine as that is nearest the TV aerial signal. Not only that, but it will need a fast machine, and probably Windows as the O.S. There are some programs for Linux that may run it, but for now the machine upstairs will be ideal (it also has a DVD burner in it).  On that machine I have a hard disk caddy to take  a second  hard disk.  At the moment it has a 120 GByte drive that is  66% full of mp3's.  I will  be using another drive for video. I have  a possible 3 to choose from and I will test each one for speed before committing it to service. I am off to do that now methinks.
Monday 20MMonday 20th October 2003

07.58

Weather : Cold, but bright. Some red in the clouds.

I'm up relatively early this morning and using the new PC. I have bottled out from trying to use Linux for this entry, but I'll get round to it sometime. The Linux installation is working quite well so far, although it is taking a long time to configure. I think I have possibly worked out how to use the ftp program (or one of them). The safest step for me to take next is to build a brand new page using Mozilla Composer and try and upload that. I can then link to it from here and see how it works.

       There was a good programme on BBC4 last night about the BBC radiophonic workshop. Surprisingly it was made by Associated Redifusion - one of the "independent" TV companies. I find it odd that a programme about the BBC, and shown by the BBC was not made by the BBC. I recorded it on my DV camcorder and, possibly, today I'll be making it into a DVD for future viewing. One of these days I must do something about hooking the TV up directly to a PC so that I can capture programmes directly rather than use the camcorder as an intermediary.

    I feel like having a break from PC's today. I'm not sure what to do instead though. Maybe I might go out somewhere, or maybe I'll read a new book that has been sitting here unopened for a fortnight.
17.41
I have had a pleasant afternoon listening to a multitude of pink floyd track and reading Fortean Times.
For this entry I am using Mozilla composer to write the update. I don't know how well this will work, but I had to give it a try sometime. I'll probably find that when I come to save it I'll find that I do not have the correct permissions to save it back to the Windows partition. One thing I have got to watch for is that it does not save it with an html file suffix. The original that I am updating only uses the htm suffix. If it adds the extra "l" to it then all the other pages that point to it won't be able to find it. Before I get too carried away I had better try and save this (and maybe try an upload too !).

Sunday 19th October 2003

09.40

Weather : mostly clear skies, bright and sunny. 8 C (overnight low 6 C)

     This morning it is a very late start to the day. I have had a bit of a lay in, but I did get up at 09.00. Since then I have been battling with EPGexplorer on my PC upstairs. This is the electronic programme guide for the DAB receiver. For reasons that are obscure it has stopped listing BBC programmes. This may be because the BBC have stopped transmitting them, or it could be something daft like a corrupt registry entry. The BBC are transmitting something, but I have a suspicion that they have their wires crossed and are sending the wrong data. On the other hand the data stream is called "test BBC guide". On top of that Schiba has been doing his best to get my attention. He even followed me upstairs and sat on the spare bed with me for a short while. Normally he is very wary about upstairs. Partly because it is further from the way out, and possibly because he once peed on my bed and I chased him out with much fierce shouting.

     When I think back on Schiba and compare him now to what he was like when we first met, I realise he has come on leaps and bounds. Our first meeting was when he would warily sneak down the garden path to eat Nelly's leftovers. Then he was a bedraggled heap of skin and bones afraid of everything and everyone. Now he is much more relaxed and will even let Jodie stroke him and not bolt when other strangers are in the house. His coat is much smoother and clean, and he has put on a little weight. He is still a very lithe cat compared to Nelly's dumpy form, but you can no longer see his bone structure. I think this winter will finally see the transformation from ally cat to domestic cat. He is 95% there already.

     Today should be the day ! I have tidied things up a bit and should, finally, move the new PC into place where the one I am using now sits. I still have not resolved all the problems with the new PC, but it is mostly there. The major problem revolves around the internal software modem when I am using Linux. It now works, but is intermittent. Sometimes it will pass data at full speed and at others it will only run at something equivalent to an old 300 baud modem. The simple answer is to use my external modem, but I still want an internal modem. I have asked a neighbour, who is going to a computer fair today, to look out for a PCI internal hardware modem. I doubt he will find one, but it is possible, although I am half betting that he will come back with another software modem if he comes back with anything at all. I don't think many people who have not used Linux appreciate the difference between a software modem and a hardware modem, and that includes the traders at the computer fairs. The easiest way to describe the difference is that a hardware modem is seen by the operating system as nothing more than another serial port. It neither knows or cares that there is a modem connected beyond that. The only driver it needs is that for a serial port. By contrast a software modem has an associated program that is run on the PC and does some of the work that would be done by internally on a hardware (or external) modem. As such. the driver is big and complicated and specific to the chipset that the modem uses.

     I do have some internal modem cards that are pure hardware modems, but they are all old ISA cards and can't be used on the new motherboard as it has no ISA slots. These modems all look like standard 15650 UARTS (universal, asynchronous, receiver-transmitter) as far as the operating system can see. They all date back to DOS days when drivers, as we know and love them now, did not really exist.

     Apart from the modem problem it should be all systems go ! Somehow I will need to bring both systems into sync when I do the transfer so look out for some gross errors on these diary pages (like days disappearing). I will endeavour to not to lose anything, but I doubt it will be that smooth at first.

Saturday 18th October 2003

07.27

Weather : cold

An early start for today. I am not sure why I am up so early today. I had another late night last night after a long session playing with my new PC. I am having problems with the modem still. I changed the internal modem card and found some Linux drivers for it after a long search. It now almost works, but almost is not enough. It is pretty strange because it can dial out, connect and log in to the other end, but no program seems to be able to access the data. I suspect it may be down to file permissions, but I am not sure. I did hook up an external modem via com port 1 ( or /dev/tty0 as Linux likes to know it ) and that worked just fine. I am probably being foolish in trying to use a Winmodem for Linux when I have a perfectly good external modem. It is just that an internal modem is neater than an external one. I hope that by the end of today I will have the new PC installed and in use. 

Friday 17th October 2003

11.18

Weather : Bright and sunny, but cold. 10 C (overnight low 8 C)

It's a bit of a late start this morning. I went to the pub last night and had several drinks with Kevin. Started on Youngs ordinary for the first pint. Then moved on to special, and rounded the evening off with a bottle of Christmas Pudding Ale. I felt nice and happy after that ! I made a terrible mess once I was home. I decided to stay up and watch The Bill, that I had recorded earlier, even though I was totally knackered after not much sleep the previous night. I felt a bit peckish so I made some ham rolls. In one of them I put in some exotic chutney that I had lying around. It was pretty nice, but on the first bite a great dollop oozed out and fell on my shirt. In attempting to clear that up I managed to dangle my hair in it as I reached over for a tissue. While turning my head to wipe the chutney off the hair on one side the other side dangled in it. This morning I have washed my hair and had a good shower. I am now beginning to feel reasonably OK again - err, forgot to mention I had a bit of a hangover this morning :-(

Today I have two choices. I can try and get myself dynamic enough to go over and have a pint with Ivor, or I can do some more to getting my new PC ready to take over from the one I am using now. I suspect it will be the latter as I still have few things to do before I could go out. Not least of all, have some breakfast. I think it would be a mistake to drink on an empty stomach especially as I have promised a neighbour that I will go and have a look at his PC early this evening. A few pints on an empty stomach would kill all my enthusiasm for the rest of the day ! If I am to stand any chance of going out I had better get my skates on as I will have to leave in 45 minutes, and I haven't even checked my mail yet.

Thursday 16th October 2003

08.55

Weather : mostly clear skies. cold. 8 C

I feel pretty rough this morning, and it's all down to lack of sleep. I got a bit carried away with trying (and succeeding ) in finishing the book I have been reading in bed. It was 03.05 when I turned the light out. It was 04.00 when Schiba started howling outside my bedroom door (which was open) that he wanted to go out. At 05.00 I woke up needing a pee. At 06.00 I woke up because I usually do then. Finally at 08.30 I woke up and came down here to feed Nelly and type this. At some point I am going back to bed again. 

I decided that I would use Linux Mandrake for my new PC as I am most familiar with it. It all installed perfectly and I have added many extras to it. I even managed to get a Winmodem working successfully. The software for that cripples it to only operate at 14.4 Kb/s unless I pay for an upgrade. I am not going to do that. Instead I'll either use an external modem (which I already have) or try and find an internal hardware modem (which I have, but only as an ISA card which is no good for the new motherboard).

There is one thing that does not work, but ought to. Every time I try and plug in my USB pen drive it locks the entire machine up ! I am not sure where to look to correct that. I may try and download the Mandrake updates first and see if that fixes anything. I have a nasty suspicion that it may be something to do with the way USB support is lodged in the kernel. That is one place I do not want to mess with.

Wednesday 15th October 2003

08.30

Weather : cool, but a bright start.

Another late night, last night. I was reading until half past midnight so I have had a bit of a lay in this morning. At 6 am I had Nelly come and jump up on my bed to purr very loudly at me. Sadly that is the best Nelly can do to try and convince me to get up and feed her. As it is actually rather relaxing I went back to sleep again. What I couldn't ignore was Schiba howling at the back door ! 

I didn't do an update after 11 am yesterday as I was rather busy. My second parcel arrived soon after that last entry and I got stuck into making up my new PC. I thought I would do something different so I have sprayed the case (and the CD drive front panel) matt black. Everything I sprayed was detachable from the main chassis so I was able to carry on working on the "innards" while the paint was drying on the outer panels. The basic spec is the new Asus motherboard, a 1.3GHz Duron processor, a floppy disk drive, an 80 GByte hard drive and a Toshiba CDRW and DVD combo drive. The motherboard has integrated graphics, sound and LAN. I have decided to make it dual boot between Linux and Windows. Originally it was going to be just Linux, but there are a couple of things I will still need Windows for. In particular my scanner is not supported by Linux (as far as I can tell). There is one other reason for making it dual boot. The hard disk was one that I originally was using for video work. Unfortunately it gained a few bad sectors after a little accident, and now drops frames when recording video. That area of the disk is now partitioned for Windows in the new PC. I have already installed Windows on it together with some of the core programs that I'll use on it. Today I will do the Linux installation. All I have to decide now is what distro to use !

Tuesday 14th October 2003

09.35

Weather : cool but bright start. 10 C

Although it is 09.35 now, I have been up since 08.00. I am currently waiting for a parcel to be delivered - 2 in fact. I know they have both been dispatched and are out there somewhere. So I am on full alert and increasingly excited about receiving my new shiny toys. I am expecting a new optical mouse and 1 Gigabyte of memory to put into my video editing PC. The original optical mouse I have nicked to use on the PC I am using now. In areas where there is a certain amount of fag ash lying around I find that optical mice are far, far better. The 1 Gigabyte of RAM should speed up video processing a bit, or that is what I am hoping for. I have also ordered a new, but cheap and cheerful motherboard to use with a Duron processor that I have had lying around for some time. I am going to make a dedicated Linux PC. For the first time I will mount the hard drive internally, rather than in a disk caddy, and try to use that as my main on-line PC. I can do many things using Linux, most in fact, but these journal pages could be difficult. I may have to rebuild my website from scratch, and that is a task I do not relish. On the other hand it is getting a bit messy and could do with a clean up. 

Right now though I am going back to looking out the window anxiously mode !

11.00

No sooner than I had pressed the save button after the last entry when my first parcel arrived. I now have a whopping 1.25 Gigabytes of RAM in my video editing PC ! The parcel also contained the new motherboard. It looks OK apart from one minor disappointment. It does not appear to support USB 2, but that is only a minor gripe and it was probably only to be expected of such a cheap board. I hope that before the day is out I'll have it up and running. My next major decision is to whether I'll use Red Hat Linux or Mandrake Linux.

Monday 13th October 2003

07.07

Weather : not bright enough to tell, but it's cold.10 C

I thought I had better get up early this morning even though it was late before I went to sleep last night. In fact it was 22 minutes after midnight when I turned the light out this morning. I was reading a rather well written sci-fi book called The Trigger in bed last night, and could have read on for even longer if I hadn't noticed the time. The book is another collaboration between Arthur C. Clarke and someone who's name escapes me for the moment. In the book, a future is discussed where a means had been found to cause explosives to be detonated at a distance using a projected beam (apparently microwave radiation at a certain frequency and power level). This would enable any enemies weapons to explode before they could be used, and, significantly, ones own weapons to do likewise. Once the science bit is over, which is where I am up to in my reading, the story then goes on to consider how the world would adapt to having no guns and bombs that work in a conventional way.  It is a good idea, but I think the science behind it is fatally flawed. There is apparently no way to shield any explosive from the effects of the radiation, and that seems odd for any electromagnetic radiation at microwave frequencies. Secondly it would appear to operate only on Nitrogen based explosives by breaking the molecular bonds between nitrogen containing molecules. Well that's all right up to a point, but many other things use nitrogen containing chemicals, including us ! There could be get out clauses for both these objections because at the halfway point in the book the reasons for the effect have not been found. Maybe when I read more these explanations will become apparent. I suspect not though, because it is not necessary for the basic plot of near total disarmenenent to continue.

Yesterday I noticed from my bedroom window that Autumn is well and truly upon us. The leaves on the trees are turning yellow and falling. I tried to capture what I could se from my bedroom. The sun was making the yellow leaves glow like gold, but sadly the effect seems to have been lost on film.

Leaves glowing gold in the Autumn sun

Sunday 12th October 2003

09.08

Weather : slightly grey skies with sun breaking through. 10 C (yesterdays high - 18 C)

I thought I would watch some Dr Who before writing this. I was only up in time to watch the last 1 hour of Dr Who on UK Gold. It was not one of the better stories, although it was supposed to be one. For a start it was a Peter Davidson era story and had Tegan in it. Peter Davidson was not one of the best doctors. Some of his stories were good, but he seemed so let down by Tegan. Tegan, whose real name I don't care to remember, always seemed annoying and somewhat ugly to me. She was supposed to have been an air hostess and thus represent glamour and beauty. Instead she was as irritating as a wasp and as attractive as a bag of spanners. Perhaps I am too picky, but most of the doctors assistants had a certain amount of sex appeal in one or more episodes, but I cannot recall Tegan ever appearing remotely that way.

09.56

I've just got to cut-n-paste a couple of lines I read on a blog site (http://www.livejournal.com/users/redcountess/231200.html). It describes how I felt last week so nicely ;

"I appear to be ill. Whether it was walking around in the sun earlier, the excesses of last night, or a virus, Im not sure, but certain parts of my body hate me right now."

Yes, indeed, some parts, of my body did hate me ( quite a few in fact )!! I do seem to be 99% better now, but I am still not prepared to agree on that last 1%. Interestingly there is a further line from that same web page which backs up other stuff I've heard ; "a lot of people seem to be getting this virus....".

Saturday 11th October 2003

08.20

Weather : A bright sunny start to the day. 9 C

I hope it is all just part of waking up, but I feel slightly snotty this morning. As the day progresses it could get worse or it could go away. I hope the latter ! 

I first woke up at 6 am because I was having a dream that seemed to have got stuck in an infinite loop. In the dream I was building another transmitter. This one was never intended to work, but the valves had to light up. One of the valves I had selected was an old valve that was probably made in the 1930's. When it lit up it displayed, or somehow showed, something like a cross between an e-mail address and a URL. By going on the internet it was supposed to be possible to trace the history of that individual valve. I knew that this was impossible, but every time I looked it was there. The only way out of the dilemma was to wake up.

Priority for today ; I must go to Tesco for cat food. I said I was going yesterday, but I never did. I had to give Nelly some food she wasn't keen on this morning. She has now left home to find her own food ! (She'll be back soon - it's cold out there, besides she has never caught anything before except one small mouse that was probably half dead from poison when she first moved in here). 5 minutes later and she is heading for the back door !



Friday 10th October 2003

11.05

Weather : Cloudy skies with brief glimpses of sun.16 C

Another late start to the day ! I was up at 7 am to feed the cats and I did do a little research on the internet about the old brewery at London Bridge/Tower Bridge that was owned by Courage. It was the last place that brewed a decent pint of Directors (in my humble opinion). You can read what I found here :- http://www.keith.emmerson.btinternet.co.uk/breweryh.html.

After that bit of research I went back to bed for an hour or two. Since then I have put some washing in the washing machine, emptied the rubbish bin, scanned for spy programs ( Spybot - http://security.kolla.de/ ), and downloaded the latest virus definitions from AVG (which is now scanning)

Last night, as I was feeling better, I went to the pub with Kevin. I Had quite a few pints. The first being of Youngs ordinary bitter, and then I moved on to Youngs Special. Sometime, perhaps a year ago, they changed the recipe for Special and I now quite like it. I used to think it was far too dry and hoppy, but now it has a hint of fruit about it and is a pleasant drink. It was while discussing beer that I mentioned how (I thought) Directors had changed since the Tower Bridge brewery closed down and production moved to Reading (or somewhere). Kevin was unaware that there had been a brewery at Tower Bridge so I looked up some information to send him. The site of the old brewery is now called Butlers Wharf and is a new development of housing and shops.

Today I would have liked to go and have a lunchtime pint with Ivor, but it is already rather late and I still have some stuff to do before I relax. Probably the most important is another trip to Tesco for more catfood. I do have some "unapproved" catfood, but I opened the last tin of Felix this morning. I could be mean and open some of the sachets that they don't like, but I prefer to stay on their good side and get what they both want. I probably ought to change Nelly's litter tray before I do anything else.

As for me. Well I think I am over my "cold". My nose never ran in the end so I am not sure it was a cold. In some ways it was 'flu like with aches and fatigue. I say I think I am over it, but I do still feel a bit fatigued and as I type this next to an open window I have just had a hot flush with a thin smear of sweat appearing across my brow. At 16 C outside it is mild, and I recently had a long hot shower, but for the last 30 minutes all I have done is sit here and type. That should not be enough to raise a sweat ! Perhaps I am having a mild skirmish with the 'flu. A lot of people do seem to be going down with 'flu at the moment, but it could be a mild strain or one that I already have partial immunity to. If it is 'flu then I am glad I have now rather than when it is freezing cold and damp outside. 

Thursday 9th October 2003

08.10

Weather : A clear start to today. Sun expected later. 12 C

I'm not sure how I feel this morning. After last nights sweating I feel as if I ought to feel a lot better this morning. In some ways I do, but in others I don't. I still have a few aches and pains, but they are partially what I would expect after a rough nights sleep. It may be some hours yet before I can give a definitive view on whether I am getting better, just going through a different phase of the illness, or maybe even cured. Judging from all my typing errors so far I am actually worse than yesterday !

Maybe a good hot shower (which I neglected yesterday) and washing my hair will improve my outlook.

10.20

I've just spent ages under a hot shower smoothing out some of the creases in my muscles. I do feel better now in a psychological sort of way. The sun is shining, many of my aches have gone away, and I feel nice and clean. I do still feel a bit weak and I still have the odd ache here and there. In particular my eye sockets feel tender. But overall I feel much happier. I'll give it another hour for the air to warm up a bit more and then I shall pop out to buy my New Scientist and Micro Mart. There is a small chance that a letter of mine might be published in the latter, and that is always good for an ego trip.

19.00

I have felt better for most of the day - not best, but better. I've spent a long time, and much headache inducing time getting the web page together for last Monday's day out. I have still to correct a few mistakes, but you can see it here.

Wednesday 8th October 2003

10.00

Weather : cold with grey skies

I should have been out again today. We were going to go to Clacton for a quick whiz round on The Waverley paddle steamer. Unfortunately I still feel rough and couldn't face the journey. Having been up for an hour I can now report on how I feel. The expected nose fountain hasn't happened, but I do feel very stuffy and an hour in the cold fresh air could easily trigger off my nose. I'll probably find out if that is correct a bit later when I go out for some fags. A lot of the muscular aches and pains from yesterday have subsided and my brain no longer feels like cotton wool. My neck is still stiff and I can feel my sinuses filling up, particularly below and behind the eyes. Overall I think I am better off staying in with the heater on. I must try and clear some floor space in the back room so I can put the heater on in here while I am at the PC. One quick e-mail to write and I'm back in the front room and warmth !

21.45

For the past 2 to 3 hours I have had the sweats. I think this is a good sign. I was feeling fairly comfortable just watching TV in the warm. My aches were not noticeable while just sitting down. And then I realised I was feeling hotter and hotter and hotter. So, about 40 minutes ago, I came out here to the PC where it is cold and I am slowly cooling down. I can still feel a prickly sensation across my brow and behind my ears where I am still sweating, but my bare arms feel cool (not cold though). It may just be in my head because at last something has changed, but I actually feel a lot better. Prior to this it has just been constant aches and a fuzzy brain for the last 2  and a half days. At last something is happening, and I hope that it is I am getting better. Strangely I have had no trouble with my nose. There have been a couple of time when I thought it was going run, but it never happened. I still feel my throat is slightly constricted but it has never been what I would call painful, although it has tingled a few times. I don't know whether some people would describe that as pain. The nearest I can describe it is like the very first stages of when you eat something with chilli in it. There is that time when you feel the heat to be nice before it actually starts to hurt. That was what I felt in my throat, a sort of chilli warmth type of tingle.

I think I am going to try and get to bed now. I may do a little reading before sleep. I bought a magazine today, but everytime I tried to read it I either lost my concentration or my arms would hurt as I held it up to read (I was lying down at the time).

Tuesday 7th October 2003

16.45

Weather : sunny with a couple of brief light showers. cold.

I have felt really grotty today. I signed on at 9.25 and then did a quick whirl around the Aldi supermarket. When I got home I tried to sort through the pictures I took yesterday and prepare some for a new web page. After half an hour of that my head felt like it was going numb and I had to get away from the PC. So I watched some TV and ate some food. By one O'clock I was starting to shiver so I turned the heater on and settled down to watch a film on Channel 4 called "Train Of Events" Starring Jack Warner (He of Dixon of Dock Green fame). By the time I started to feel comfortable Schiba and Nelly declared it too hot. Schiba curled up on the floor and Nelly left the room. Once the film was finished I went to bed for a couple of hours. I was woken up by a dream that Kevin had called for me and I told my mum to ask him to wait. At that point I woke up to put my trousers back on. It was one of those dreams where dream and reality blur into one another.

My head still feels "buzzy". I still feel a bit shivery. My throat is feeling odd - not exactly sore, but tender without being tickly. My neck aches as well. I could mention some other muscular pain, but that is more likely the result of yesterdays exertions. The last time I felt like this was 3 or 4 xmas's ago when I had a week and half a day off work with the 'flu. Unfortunately 4 of those days were xmas day, boxing day and a weekend - in terms of time off work, not very good value for money !  It all might be a reaction to yesterday and I hope I feel better for tomorrows day out.

Now, about yesterdays pictures. I don't think I'll be getting round to finishing them off today. So here's one to be getting on with. It was the reason we went all the way to Aylesbury - just to have a ride on the heritage unit, "Bubble Car" 121020.

Bubble car 121020 standing at Princes Risborough

20.00

Weather : freezing (or that's the way it feels)

It's bloody cold out here where the PC is. I've just been comparing notes with Jodi who is getting over a cold or 'flu now. Hers started last Saturday and she still feels weak now, 4 days later. From the way I have described how I feel now she reckons the "nose fountain" will start tomorrow. I have had a few hints of this happening this evening, but so far just a few isolated instances. My nose does feel "itchy" in a way and I have sneezed a few times. It is my throat that still feels worse though. It is still not exactly sore or tickly, but I am aware of it every time I swallow. Sitting down in a warm to almost hot room and watching TV feels OK and I am barely able to notice that there is anything wrong with me, but out here where it is cold and I am using my hands, I feel like I want to get back into the warm very soon. My arms are actually aching just holding them up to the keyboard.

Monday 6th October 2003

07.00

Weather : rain

I've got a long, and probably knackering, day coming up today. I'm off to Aylesbury and Princes Risborough for a drop of "trainspotting" with Kevin. On the "branch line" between those two places there is a shuttle running using heritage rolling stock - a Class 121 "bubble car". Unfortunately the shuttle only runs during peak times and so our first trip on it will not be until 16.41. I hope to post some pictures here tomorrow.

I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday re-installing the software on my little Macintosh laptop. Having taken out the hard drive from the monchrome laptop and substituted it for the duff hard drive in the colour one, I thought I ought to re-install everything from scratch. I had to prepare 19 floppy disks with the operating system on them and then copy these to the hard drive. Having done that there was just enough room left to install the operating system (it is only a 40 MByte drive !). Once that was done I could delete all the install files and make room for some other software. Mac's are funny things and do things differently from PC's.Files can become corrupted in strange ways and it is not obvious that has happened. What I do know is that laptop has never run so smoothly since the totally fresh install. I suppose the next job is to try and get it online. It can be done, but on such a slow machine it is a very tedious process ! 

Sunday 5th October 2003

08.42

Weather : clear skies. Sunny but cold. 5 C

I had some strangely sexy dreams about women who I would not normally have any fantasies for. Like most dreams, things are not always what they seem. In this instance the woman didn't always look the same at all times. It sounds like a huge orgy was going on, but it wasn't like that. In fact I think it was only two different women. While their appearance would seem to change, their names, or perhaps more accurately their  identity as perceived by me, remained constant. I think it wise not to mention names to avoid embarrassment both to me, and to them in case they should ever read this (unlikely). 

Saturday 4th October 2003

07.50

Weather : Cloudy, but with some breaks in the cloud. 11 C (high yesterday 18 C)

The first Saturday of the month, and that means a drink with my ex-workmates. Also planned for today will be Jodie's third attempt at coming over to use the studio. This time I am going out for a couple of pints and she will have to take her chances that I will be back when she gets here.

Other news came from Kevin last night. His wife has booked him up for something next Friday night so the potential for a third day out, next week, has gone. Somehow I thought that 3 days was a bit ambitious. I might even prefer it that way.

For some time now, Nelly has been on a sort of diet. She has had no dried food, and instead has to eat the canned food I put out for her. As a result I think she has lost a tiny amount of weight. She has just jumped up onto the windowsill, and I am sure she did it a little more elegantly, or more fluidly, that I recall. Meanwhile she is sitting in the open window and I am freezing my nuts off ! I hope she makes a decision soon about going out, or staying in, before I turn blue. 

21.00

I'm not sure what today's maximum temperature was, but it did warm up compared to first thing this morning. Much of the time it was dry, but we did have a few showers. One, earlier this evening was brief, but quite heavy.

I went for my "first Saturday of the month" drink today with some of my ex-workmates. Attendance was quite low today for some reason. Some people were on holiday I think. Jodie finally came round and recorded two one hour radio shows.

 This evening I swapped over the duff hard drive from my Mac Powerbook 180c with the hard disk from the 140. Sadly the working drive is only a 40 MByte drive, but at least it has got the colour machine working. The rest of the Powerbook 140 will now become just a source of spare parts for the 180c. Unless, that is, I can find a 100 - 500 MByte SCSI 2.5 inch laptop hard disk from somewhere. 2.5 inch SCSI hard drives appear to be as rare as rocking horse shit !!

Friday 3rd October 2003

07.43

Weather : A murky start to the day. Overcast, but currently dry. 15 C

Today could, potentially, be a busy day. A visit to Tesco will be the priority for the day. I am out of catfood now (apart from emergency stuff that I hold back because the cats don't like it that much). After that a drink with Ivor. That assumes that it is not pissing down with rain. Then after that a rush back home to met Jody who wants to use the studio. So it could be an exciting day, today.

I still do not feel quite right. It is almost as if I am fighting against a cold or something. I appear to be winning, but my nose does feel a little itchy this morning........

11.00

After I had checked my e-mail, and looked at a couple of websites that I like to keep an eye on, I went back upstairs to take a shower and get dressed. Nelly was on my bed so I laid down beside her and started petting her. She was purring away, and I felt relaxed. The next thing I knew it was gone 10 am and I still wasn't up ! So far I have had my shower and washed my hair. Put my washing into the washing machine. Started off a long bit of video converting to mpeg 2 for burning on a DVD, and finally sat down to write this. My hair is still wet and Nelly is complaining that the food I put out for her is inedible ! Once my hair is dry my first port of call has to be the supermarket for cat food. Come to think of it, a bit of human food would not go amiss as well. I seem to be running 2 hours late at the moment and I wonder if I will ever be able to get over to Peckham (North Dulwich, Honour Oak, Nunhead - or wherever the pub is postally situated) in time to get in a pint with Ivor and then get back to get Jodie into the studio. When I have found the exact URL I may add the address here in case you want to try and hear Jodie on Pipeline Radio (stupid name !)

13.55

I have finally heard from Jodie several hours after I first called her to find what time she is coming over. It turns out she is not coming after all. She seems totally dazed and confused and has to take some forms back to the job centre today that she should have taken back yesterday ! She doesn't even appear to know what she has signed and why she is taking them back. Meanwhile any last hope of being able to get out for a pint at lunchtime has been blown clean out of the water ! 

Thursday 2nd October 2003

08.38

Weather : a damp start after overnight rain. Sky still very murky.13 C

I have the merest hint of a hangover this morning. It is not very painful, but I do feel a little bleary eyed. Last night I went for a drink with Kevin. I came home quite late as we were chatting outside the pub for some time. I should have gone straight to bed, but I felt peckish and put some fish into the oven (not nearly as nice as genuine fish and chips from the chip shop, but a bit better calorie wise). While waiting for the fish to cook I put on the TV. I found a channel showing a documentary about the electric chair. I already knew that the electric chair is one of the most loathsome and brutal forms of death where you are virtually cooked to death over the course of several agonising minutes. What I did not fully appreciate, although I had heard hints about, was that the electric chair was invented as part of of the rivalry between Edison's DC electric company and Westinghouse's AC electric company. I am lucky that it did not feature in my dreams last night.

The first bit of dream I can remember involved feeding peanuts to parrots and squirrels (or they may have been small monkeys). I can't remember why I did this, but I remember it happening. The other dream I can remember parts of involved driving into the country in a large posh car, possibly a Jaguar. I don't know who was driving, but I had my two cats with me plus one other cat. We had parked on some grassy field that was surrounded by trees. All three cats managed to escape and went running off towards a corner of the field. My two, Nelly and Schiba, disappeared, but the other hung back. I grabbed that one and tried to get it back into the car. It was most reluctant and said to me (yes a speaking cat !) that it didn't want to go back because Marge would beat it up again. ( Who is Marge - cat or human ???). Time passed and I was getting very worried about Nelly. I was not too worried about Schiba because he is generally an outdoor cat and would probably do OK for himself out in the wild. Eventually Nelly appeared from the diagonally opposite corner of this field. When I tried to pick her up to put her back in the car she hid under a bed. ( A bed in a field ? - Apparently so !)

Next week Kevin is on holiday and we have possibly three days out planned. All are somewhat dependant on the weather. Monday may be a trip up to Buckinghamshire for a bit of exploration and a trip on the "heritage" Class 121 "bubble car" that Chiltern Trains are running up there. Wednesday could see us going up to Clacton for a short trip on the Waverley paddle steamer. Finally, on Friday, another South Central day rover ticket could be a possibility. (See this for last time we used one).

21.13

Weather :dark and gloomy

Today has been a bit of a miserable day. It started with me feeling tired and just gently hung over. Over the course of the day that hasn't really changed. It is probably the gloomy weather, but I have felt listless with a few mild aches here and there. One thing did cheer me up. This evening I received an e-mail from Jenny Leather who has finally, after something like 12 months, checked out a couple of CDR's I gave her.( I never realised that you didn't have a fast enough computer to play them on Jenny. Glad you liked them anyway.)

I am going to write one e-mail and then I am going to bed with a magazine to read (only a rail or computer mag !). Hopefully I will feel brighter in the morning.

Wednesday 1st October 2003

07.41

Weather : A slightly murky start to the day, but mild. 12 C

Welcome to the month of October. I hope you managed to scroll down to find this.

Today is the day that I go along to have a look at what could be my new workplace. It is mainly a chance to have an informal chat with the manager and see if I can persuade him that my past work experience is equivalent to the requirements of the job. Unless I can do that, and unless he has sufficient influence on the selection panel, then there is no chance that I will selected for even their shortlist.

All that happens at 10 am this morning. Before that I have to go to my building society and deposit a cheque. I have had my first dividend payment through for my Dixons shares - a whopping 25 !! Rich at last ! (or maybe not). 

14.30

Weather : Still overcast and mild. 17 C

I'm having a really lazy afternoon alternating between snoozing and reading. I went along to have a look and chat with my possible new employer. Although I feel there is little chance to get the job without previous medical equipment experience, I was told not to give up hope. Just like TV engineers, it appears that medical equipment engineers are getting very thin on the ground. If there are no candidates with that suitable background then I may well have a chance, but I am not going to hold my breath ! I would obviously be disappointed not to get the job from a financial and convenience point of view, but in some ways it is not a job that is exactly what I want. Like many jobs involving electronics it is tending towards more software than in deep fault finding. There are also some unpleasant things that could crop up as well considering the environment that the equipment is used. Some, such as doing emergency work in a live operating theatre, would be interesting, yet at the same time potentially nauseating. I think I would be OK, but you can never tell until actually faced with it. All I can do now is sit back and wait. If nothing else it will keep the job centre happy !


Copyright - Bill 2003