January 2006




This months diary features new cat, the still slightly stray, Smudge.

Contrary to last months message, I can now receive e-mails while at work. Send them to my NTL address.

Friday 30th December 2005
Weather - rain

06:40 GMT
    I have only a few things to say this morning (I think). Perhaps the most significant is that I thought I was going to wake up to a blanket of snow outside. That is what the weather forecast said, but it seems it was not accurate. It is actually raining outside. That doesn't affect me for this morning, but poor old Smudge had to have several attempts to go out after her breakfast. She has been in all night, and I do not want her to use Nelly's litter tray unless it is absolutely essential. Considering that until recently Smudge has been an almost 100% outdoor cat, I think that it is only proper that I should encourage her to continue using the garden for her deeds. Nelly, on the other hand, has never learnt that it is possible to dig a hole in mud, and so has to coninue to use her litter tray. In warmer weather there were times when Nelly would be out for hours on end, and then come in with her legs crossed as she ran to her litter tray. I'll give Smudge another 30 minutes and see if she wants to come in again.

 This morning I feel very tired, and I feel a little sick. The tiredness is because I was very late going to sleep, and the sickness is because I ate far too much yesterday. I got an unreasonable attack of the munchies last night, and that was after eating too much during the main part of the day. So today I really must watch what I eat. This will require a delicate balancing act. If I am going out to the pub tonight I will want to eat something fairly substantial, but to avoid being all sluggish going to, and at, the pub I will need to eat at least 4 hours before I want to go out. So that could be around 1pm - not an unreasonable time for lunch in normal circumstances. On the other hand that could be too soon considering how I feel at the moment. Perhaaps the answer is to have a very light lunch before the pub, and something more substantial after I get home. It is unlikely that I will be home very late, maybe before 10pm, so I think that is what I will try and aim for.

 Right now though, I think I will see if Smudge wants to come back in. Once she is in I will go back to bed.
Thursday 29th December 2005
Weather - icy cold

17:55 GMT
     To start with let me wish Kate a happy new year. Who is Kate ? You may well ask. I don't really know either. All I do know is that she managed to find me by doing a google search for Sony KV-2582U. At first I thought her e-mail was some sort of elaborate spam until I too did a google search. By adding "Bill" to the search, and only searching UK sites, I found a link to my diary pages from July 2004 where I had mentioned getting my new secondhand TV. She wanted to know if it was really a 25 inch, or 28 inch TV. I was able to confirm that it is, in fact, a 25 inch TV - a rather good one in my opinion.

(Does it feel funny to read about yourself in this way Kate ?)

So far we have had no extra snow beyond the very thin and patch scattering of a couple of days ago. The forecast is that there will be some snow showers tonight. We shall see !

 It's been another fairly lazy day. I did some shopping in Tesco this morning and bought a nice piece of lamb that is cooking even as I write this. There are still no good bargains in Tesco yet. Maybe there will be some more after the new year. This afternoon I am not really sure how all the hours have passed. I did watch the mockmentary "The Rutles - All You Need Is Cash", and that passed 90 minutes or so. The rest of the time seems to have been spent writing e-mails (two to Kate, both taking 20 minutes or something like that), and dodging backwards and forwards from the living room to this back room to oversee some things happening on the PC's.

 Yesterday was similar to today, but I didn't go to Tesco in the morning, but I did join Kevin in the pub for a few pints of Winter warmer in the evening. Last night was the first real test of my new DVD video recorder. While I was out drinking I recorded The Bill, and watched it after I had staggered home from the pub. Actually I exaggerate. I did not so much stagger but shiver back from the pub. It was icy cold outside. A cold that even Winter Warmer could not stave off. Of course if we hadn't started nattering outside the pub for about 45 minutes I would have got home before the warmth of the pub, and the inner glow of the Winter Warmer, had worn off.

 Tomorrow I am going to be lazy again. That might change for the early evening. Unless we do get some bad snow I may well go to The Herne and meet up for a drink with Ruth. Hopefully Kevin may be able to go as well so I can get a lift home afterwards. A lft is not essential, but in this cold it is desirable. I don't think I will be there long if I do go. It does tend to get a little boring there some nights, but it is an opportunity for a little more relaxed beer drinking before the start of work again next Tuesday.

 There are now just two more left before I have to design a new month AND a new year for this journal. I think that will be my project for New Years eve, which, for me, is traditionally a rather tedious night. Alternately I might just have an early night.
Tuesday 27th December 2005
Weather - cold and damp

12:22 GMT
     We have had a few minor flurries of snow here. As yet none has settled apart from a few little thin scatterings in the coldest of places. There was a a very thin patchy layer on my front garden wall. It must have been no more than one snowflake thick, and had only settled on less than half the entire area of the wall. There are blue patches of sky occasionally, but some of the clouds do look a little heavy.......

 I've been out for a rummage in Tesco's. I was fairly disappointed with what was on offer. There was some discounted chocolate, and xmas decorations, but none of the goodies I was hoping for. I did spot one price drop that I took advantage of. Tesco 's own brand (well sort of) DVD recorder had dropped from about £100 to £80. That is still more than the £70 that Argos were charging, but I bought one anyway. I am very pleased with it so far, and I haven't even tried to record on it yet. Not only does it play and record DVD disks, it also plays DiVx files direct from a CDR disk, and can also play mp3 files from CDR OR from a built in USB port used to access a memory stick type device. I have an idea that it would also recognise a USB connected hard drive on the USB interface as well. For playback alone this is a nice piece of kit. I wouldn't mind betting that if I booted it up with a Linux disk in the drive I could run Linux on it as well - maybe using a USB keyboard and mouse. Later on I will see what it is like as a video recorder. It is lucky I have a few DVD+RW disks here as it only came with a DVD+R disk (I have spares of those as well). For experimenting I will use a rewritable disk until I get the hang of all the options, and probably for just plain old time shifting of TV programmes. Before I forget, one other facility is a DV input to record direct from a digital camcorder.
Monday 26th December 2005
Weather - cold and drizzly

20:00 GMT
     Xmas is now over, and there is little left of boxing day. I am not sure if I have enjoyed the last two days, but they have been mostly pleasant.

 The highlight of xmas day was the time spent in the pub at lunchtime. Surprisingly I didn't feel too wasted after the three (I think) pints of Winter Warmer. I came home and had my lunch. It was not pasta as I predicted, but instead I opted for some haddock in batter with potoato salad, and some stuffed mild chillies. TV was mostly boring for the whole day, but I did watch a couple of programmes. The rest of the time I spent reading or playing with my new server. (I also napped for about an hour, or maybe a little less). The server is starting to show some promise. There is still a lot of work to do on it even as I write this, but the web server part is now running a single web page. You can see it at http://www.sunnyside.homelinux.org . Eventually I will think of a real use for it and put up some more interesting web pages. For now the whole point of it is just a self learning experiment.

 This morning I went to see if Tesco's was open. Sadly it was not. I was hoping to start rummaging through all their post xmas bargains (cheeses, beers etc). Instead I had a rummage around The Pound Shop, and Poundstretcher who were both open. I bought a new case for my mobile phone at The Pound Shop for £4.99. That is a little more than £1, but still less than half the price that a similar item was selling for in an O2 shop in Wandsworth. In Poundstretcher I bought two glass ashtrays for £1, some blank CDR in coloured cases (I thought they may have been the nice coloured disks that I once bought from a computer fair - sadly not), and a couple of CD carrying cases - each holding 24 disks.

 I guess Tesco will be open tomorrow and I will try again then. Aldi also claim to be offering some heavy discounts when they open tomorrow. So I will have two lots of rummaging to do !

 It was quite sunny for an hour or two this afternoon, but much of the sky was very overcast and wind was freezing cold. Later this afternoon we had some drizzle. The weather forecast is that snow is quite probable tomorrow. From the feel of the wind I would not be surprised to wake up to snow in the morning. This is a good time to have snow. It gives sufficient time for transport to come to terms with it before I go back to work in 8 days time.
Saturday 24th December 2005
Weather - mild and sunny

16:20 GMT
    It's xmas eve and the world comes to a grinding halt tomorrow. I'm just glad I am not at work because I feel really rough today. Maybe it is partially a hangover, and partially the after effects of stuffing myself with chicken and chips last night, but it doesn't really feel like the direct result of either of those. More likely they have contributed to something else. I suspect my blood pressure maybe extremely high. After coming back with some shopping this morning I had a bad nose bleed. This is the second I have had. The first being yesterday morning after a gigantic sneeze when I first went into the cold bathroom.

 Because of the way I feel I have decided to forego the huge curry I was planning for tonight (and xmas dinner). Instead I willl opt for something healthier (maybe). Xmas dinner is likely to be pasta with tuna fish. I will probably ruin the healthiness of it by smothering it with grated cheese, but I can't let myself be carried away too far with all this healthy eating.

 Tomorrow lunchtime I will be going for a xmas day lunchtime pint in The Ram with Kevin and Howard. It seems Iain will also try and get there. Last year we got a bit carried away with the Winter Warmer. If I can I may try and avoid getting too carried away this year. Having got drunk on two nights so far this week, and on both days woken up very much the worse for wear (the nosebleeds being the most worrying thing), it would probably be most prudent to not get carried away.

 Today I have mostly been resting. I have bought a selection of magazines to read, and they should keep me amused through tomorrow as well. At some point I ought to have another go at my server. I have a new plan of action for it now. The vesion of Linux I have installed on it at the moment is SuSe 10, but it does not have Pure FTP available on the installation disks. However I do have a copy of SuSe 9 Professional that does have the Pure FTP server software on it. So now I am going to start all over again, for the third time, and do a fresh install of SuSe 9 Professional, and then used the SuSe 10 disks to upgrade. I hope the upgrade will leave the packages that are only available on the Professional disks alone. The final stratedgy I may use is to buy one big hard disk instead of trying to spread the files around two small disks. SuSe 10 Linux wants to put all the server files on a folder called /svr. As yet I have not looked to see what partition that is on. I wanted to use the /var folder which is on the second hard disk to store all the server files (http documents amd ftp uploads and downloads). When I transferred all the demo web pages (that are installed as a default get-you-going service) to the /var folder I found I could not access them. The web browser on another machine that I was using to test the server, said I was forbidden to see them. I found this a little strange. I thought I had given everyone and his dog read,write,deface,eat and drink privileges to those files, but apparently not. All I need to know now is whether SuSe 9 Professional will also make a folder called /svr. If it does I want to put in on the second, bigger hard disk. Maybe I will get a clue when it comes to partitioning the disks during installation. There are a range of preset mount points for partitions. If /svr is one of them my life will become a lot easier. From then on the default configurations should be good enough to finally get the thing on the air. Then I can try tweaking things if I want to customise my system.
Friday 23rd December 2005
Weather - Mild and dry

21:47 GMT
    It's still two days (or a night and a full day) until xmas day, and the magic of xmas gas started already. That magic is the the two, three, four, or more days of enending boredom and solitude. It is great to have a few days off work, but.....................is it worth it ?

 Today at work was quite good. I was hoping for an early end of the day, but mysteriously I actually finished work a couple of minutes late as I rushed to finish one final job.

 After work I went and had a few pints at The Herne. Originally I was not going to bother going. I knew Iain would not be there, so I would have to make my own way home, but Ruth sent me such a nice text message the previous night that I felt obliged to go there. It was Ruth's birthday yesterday and I phoned her to wish her a happy birthday. Today I bought her a combined birthday and xmas present  - a bottle of cheap champagne from the local (to The Herne) Co-Op. She was very happy to get it., and gave me a lovely xmas card for my troubles. That was great, but it still does not make for a better xmas for me.

I am now fairly drunk, but it is no great deal. Tomorrow, the next day, and quite a few after that I will make my own amusement. With luck I will be able to put the finishing touches to my server. That will be one achievemnt that could make xmas a little better. After that the next thing to look forward to is going back to work.
Wednesday 21st December 2005
Weather - dry and almost mild

18:36 GMT
     It's been a good day today. It started off well with no serious lower abdominal pains as I did the long toiletless walk from Wandsworth Town Station to work. ( The last few days involved some slightly stressful walks !).  The rest of the day at work was pretty good as well.

 I had some major luck coming home tonight. At Waterloo East Station I normally now catch the 16:44 to Gravesend train, and change at  Lewisham. Previously I would change at London Bridge until I discovered that the Gravesend train got to Lewisham a few minutes ahead of the Hayes train that I would try and catch at London Bridge. Changing trains at London Bridge was always a mad rush, while changing at Lewisham usually allowed just a few more moments to cross platforms. Tonight the Gravesend train was aaa tiny bit earlier than usual, and the Hayes train was slightly later than normal. So I had time  for a more leisurely dash at London Bridge (The Hayes train comes from Cannon Street and I usually see it running parallel to the Gravesend train as we pull into London Bridge). I caught the Hayes train with time to spare, and we pulled away just about 3 minutes later than usual. The train is booked to stop at New Cross, St Johns, and then Lewisham where I would have caught it having changed from the Gravesend train. Except today, the very day I changed at London Bridge, it didn't stop at New Cross, or St Johns, and didn't even go through Lewisham ! The driver blamed it on a track failure prior to New Cross. Whatever the reason was I was just happy to be on it after changing trains at London Bridge.

 Today is the winter solstice, and I am looking forward to the days starting to grow longer again. Going to work, and coming home again in the dark is pretty boring. Until recently I would have described myself as an early morning sort of person, but after several weeks of practice I still cannot come to terms with going to work in the "night". getting up with the sun, and going to bed when the sun goes down seems to be how I like it. So only a couple of months to wait and sunrise and sunset will be at perfect times.

The only bad thing about yesterday was that I discovered I had made a major blunder when installing SuSe 10 Linux on what will soon be my new server. When I partitioned the hard disks I did not leave enough room for all the software. So Tonight I am installing it again from scratch.
Monday 19th December 2005
Weather - mild sunny afternoon - cold now

20:15 GMT
   This morning got off to a poor start. Catford Bridge Station is now using chip-and-pin for credit/debit card sales. The queue was not exceptionally long, but it was moving very, very slowly. Normally I would buy my weekly season ticket on a Sunday, but yesterday the ticket office was closed when I got there. So I had to buy it this morning. Unfortunately becuase of the horrendous wait to get served I missed my train. So I came home again for 15 minutes, and caught the next one. Fortunately most of the bosses are off this weel so there was no one to catch me coming in late - not that it would have mattered too much.

 It was pretty good at work today. I spent most of the day on my special project. I got some good results, and one of the development engineers praised me for my fast and useful results. The project will soon be over for me. The next stage will be writing software for the data stream my unit will produce. That will be someone else's job.

 My server is not coming on too well. Although I managed to test everything using the Knoppix live Linux CD distro, it seems that Red Hat 9 cannot find my network card. So I have gone back to plan A and I am, at this moment, installing SuSe 10 on the box. My first attempt ended in failure due to using a dodgy CD drive. I have now fitted my old Philips DVD burner that no longer burns DVD's. It does read CD's and DVD's though (and still writes to CDR's as well). Installation of SuSe 10 is proceeding correctly now. Let's hope it detects, and configures, the network card OK. It may be some time before I am ready to find out. Surprisingly the finish time for the installation is still estimated to be over an hours time. That is a shame as I was hoping to close everything down and get to bed in less than an hours time. At the end of installing from CD 1 the machine rebooted before asking for CD 2. There are another 3 CD's to go. If it does another reboot I may turn the machine off and finish tomorrow. Well I could, but I am obviously very curious as to whether the network card will be detected correctly. With no network connection the box is just a pile of junk (Ok, not really, but it does defeat the whole object of building it).
Sunday 18th December 2005
Weather - cold and dry

06:30 GMT
     Another morning where I am awake far too early thanks to a certain pussy cat who howled for her breakfast !  It was of course Nelly. Smudge stayed out all night after spending almost the whole day inside yesterday.  She has also spent a few nights inside recently. The first time it happened, a few days ago, I was a little worried that she would not settle down and would wake me up in the middle of the night. Being as it was on a weekday when I had to get up early in the morning for work, I would have been quite annoyed if I had missed out on any precious sleep. Fortunately my fears were unfounded and she was as good as gold all night. She could have stayed in all last night, but she refused to go out for just an hour late in the evening. She finally decided that she needed to go out just as I was getting ready to go to bed. This was a trick that the late Schiba used to do. If they decide that they want to pass over a nice warm bed for the night, who am I to argue ?

     Yesterday I was busy in a very low key sort of way.  I did my shopping, and I did my laundry. Then I had breakfast and read New Scientist. Not wanting to be too lazy I decided I ought to try and repair my mattress. It has a broken spring (or several), and this broken spring was not only uncomfortable to sleep on, but it also threatened to break through the outer cover and impale me. So it was out with a sharp knife and into the bowels of the mattress. I managed to join the two ends of the spring using a bit of 10 Amp electrical connector. I don't know how long it will last, but the bed was more comfortable to sleep on last night. Once spring is here I must seek out a new mattress, but the old one will do until then.

 With TV being very boring yesterday afternoon, and for most of the evening, I decided that it was time to really build my server box. By late in the evening it was mechanically built, but I resisted the temptation to stay up half the night installing software in it. I was quite surprised to realise the processor I am using is a 300MHz Pentium II. I thought it was only a 233MHz model. I must have misread the part number on it. I have kept the box fairly simple. All the motherboard has on it is a the graphics card and a network card. I tested them out using the live Linus distro Knoppix. That sort of confirmed that everything could work (well all except the hard disks).

One of the difficulties in building this box is that the case does not have any 3.5" bays. All it has are 5 x 5" bays. I managed to dig out an adapter for fitting a 3.5" floppy drive in an old 5" bay, and a pair of brackets to do the same for a 3.5" hard drive. The second hard drive is in a removable caddy that natively fits in a 5" bay, and of course the bays are the correct size for a CD rom drive. So it is now all together, and the outer case is screwed down. The only trouble is that the hard disk activity LED does not appear to work. I think I will have to whip the outer case off again to investigate. I suspect I have put the connector on reversed. One annoying thing about the motherboard I am using is that it refuse to boot if it can't find the keyboard, or can't find a monitor connected to the graphics card. Fortunately it has a keyboard lock switch connector (and the case has a keyboard lock switch), so I can remove the keyboard and mouse once the server is up and running. I am not so sure about the monitor though. If it gets upset about me removing the monitor I may have to make a dummy plug to simulate a monitor.

Back to today:
   I guess today I ought to make a start installing some software onto the new box. What should I use ? One option is Windows 2000 server, but I prefer the idea of a Linux powered box even if the configuration will mean embarking on a steep learning curve. That leaves the choice of what Linux distro to use. I think I may try SuSE 10 having recently downloaded it. That just leaves the big decision of what I am actually going to do with it all. If I had a gigantic hard disk available I would include a samba server for network file storage. If I run it on the ORANGE port on my firewall it will not be directly accesible to the rest of my network so that may be a waste of time. I definitely want to put an ftp server on it so  can upload and download to home when I am elsewhere (and so could a select number of other people). I am not so sure about a server for web pages. There are no specific web pages I want to host here, but I will probably set something up even if it is only experimental. Initially I am going to use two 10GB hard disks. One will be just for ftp, and the other for everything else.

 I find I am putting myself off this project just by listing all my options here. Sometimes it seems mind bogglingly complicated and will need a lot of work sorting it all out, but in some ways that is the point of it. I think I will stop thinking about it for now. I am going back to bed soon, and then after I get up again I will go and buy my weekly season ticket for work, and come home via Tesco with all the little things I did not buy yesterday (and even more catfood !).
Saturday 17th December 2005
Weather - cold and dry

06:30 GMT
     It seems to be a very cold Saturday morning. Last night the sky seemed to be fairly clear, and I guess this is why it feels so cold this morning - or maybe it is just me.

 So what's been happening in the week.........................
       I had my dental appointment. It was a long session in the chair, maybe 35 minutes, but I survived it OK. I started off telling the dentist how bad a patient I was. I tend to gag easily, my tongue always seems to be in the wrong place, and for some proceedures I can't stand lying back too far. The dentist thanked me for telling her all this, and at the end she complimented me on actually being a good patient, and easy to work on. I was a little confused by the treatment I got. I knew that one tooth was to be crowned so I was expecting a lot of drilling and grinding there. The other tooth was just supposed to be a filling, but she did so much drilling and grinding that I think she is going to put a crown on it as well. One other clue is that both teeth have got temporary plastic caps on them. These feel like a lump of chewing gum stuck to my teeth, and there is a lot of temptation to start picking it off with my tongue. On the Thursday the 5th of January I will finally know the truth when I have my final appointment for this course of treatment.

 It took a long time for the anaesthetic to wear off, and as my treatment did not start until 17:30 I went to bed at 21:00 with one tiny part of my mouth still slightly numb. I was starving when I got home, and I all I could eat was some soft noodles at about 20:00 with only about 75% feeling in my lips and mouth. Fortunately they slipped down well, and I did not end up eating my own lips or tongue !

   Thursday was a difficult day. I was supposed to have xmas dinner with Ivor and the rest of the crowd. It would have been a little difficult to get a half day off work, but I thought I could arrange to leave early to meet up with everybody for a drink after their meal. It didn't happen like that at all. In fact the opposite happened. In the afternoon I started a special project at work. Basically it was to examine the signalling protocol of another manufacturers product so our products could respond to it. It was so interesting that I actually stayed late after making such good initial progress. I stayed an extra hour, and this helped offset one of the hours pay I lost for the dental appointment the previous day. It was both good and bad. The good I have explained, but the bad was the terrible journey home. At that time the trains become really packed. From Wandworth we were packed in tighter than sardines, and the same was true from Waterloo East to London Bridge. From London bridge I did manage to get a seat, but it was a close run thing. Instead of the normal 60 - 70 minute journey home it was more like 90 minutes. I don't think I want to do that too often. If I feel more "overtime" coming on I may well consider staying until 18:00 and hope that the worst parts of the congestion have eased a bit.

   The significant thing about Friday was the work xmas dinner. It took place in a bar/resturant called Ghillies On The River which overlooks the River Thames, aand is about 10 minutes walk from work in Wandsworth. It started at about 13:00 and was all free. Best of all I was told to book a normal day on my timesheet so I will be paid for it as well. There was an unlimited tab behind the bar so drinks were free until the last man standing had finished, and the food was free as well. The fod itself was rather artistic. For once, considering the long journey home (and the extra walk back to the station) I was quite glad that the portions were very small. For starters I had cabbage leaves wrapped around some sort of filling that included pine nuts. It was peculiar, but quite nice. I had ordered it, along with the other courses, a week or two ago when we were all shown the menu, and asked what we wanted for the day. I can't rememeber what other options were available, or how what I chose was described. I assume that I chose what was either intriguing, nice sounding, or just the lesser of several evils. For the main course I opted for sliced turkey breast with roasted vegetables (mainly sweet potato, parsnip, and onion). I expect I chose that because I do like roast vegetables. It was served with side dishes of small roast potatoes. For sweet I had ice cream and nougat. There were three very small scoops of ice cream sitting on thin slivers of nutty nougat with an "artistic" dusting of cocoa powder across one quadrant of the dish. I think the ice cream scoops were lemon, orange and melon. With the benefit of hindsight the nougat was a bad choice considering how chewy it was, and considering that I have the two temporary fillings in my teeth. Fortunately I did not have any mishaps. The only unfortunate thing was I didn't want to have to get home while drunk so I limited my booze to a pint and a half of lager and two large scotch on the rocks. If the resturant had been in Catford I would have stayed a lot longer, and drink far more. I left at about 18:10, and managed to get a train at around 18:30. It was a bit of a walk back to the station - not quite 20 minutes, but maybe 15 minutes at a fairly fast pace.

 After those fairly small, almost snack like, portions of food I was hungry again soon after I got home ( the drink probably helped as well). So I ordered some Chinese and Thai food from a local takeaway. It was the first time I have had any of this type of food in ages and ages, and it was very delicious. I think that since starting work, and getting paid, I have now re-aquainted myself with all my favourite food. I have had kebabs, fried chicken, Indian, and now Chinese (and Thai). Now I ought to kerb my appetite for more special occasion. Xmas is one of thise special occasions. Like I have done for the last few years (maybe last year was an exception - I can't remember) I will order a gigantic amount of Indian on xmas eve and have a feast on the night, and the rest for xmas dinner (lunch, breakfast, or however long it lasts out !).

Today (Saturday)
    I am obviously off to an early start, but that may not last long. I may well go back to bed for an hour (or two) soon. Later on I have laundry and shopping to do. After that, well it's anyones guess. It could be TV, magazines or computer stuff. I may well carry on building my server box, or I may not. About all I can say is that I have no plans to go out or to see anyone at this point in time.
Tuesday 12th December 2005
Weather - surprisingly mild

14:10 GMT
I'm writing this update at work, but I can't actually upload it from here. Instead I will e-mail it to myself as a text file, and then cut-n-paste into Mozilla Composer. This is a little weird because I am talking in the future tense, but by the time it appears here it will be in the past tense. Confused ? Don't worry about it. It is my problem !
Last night I felt quite rough coming home from work. I think I had eaten too much on Sunday, and then compounded the problem by eating two cheap rolls bought from the sandwich makers who operate out of the same business village as where I am working. Today I decided to starve. It is not easy as I do feel very hungry right now, and the temptation of cheap food is hard to resist. With luck I wil have a more comfortable journey home, and I can look forward to cooking something delicious later.
Last night I made a few brief moves to building my new server. This consisted of mainly staring at the motherboard very hard. I also have a choice of fitting a 233 or 266 MHz processor. The 233MHz one has a heatsink fitted, but no fan. While the 266MHz one does not even have a heatsink. Both are pentium II's, and I wonder if one has any paqrticular advantage over the other. Somehow I doubt it. Either processor would probably only be very lightly used when just running a server. Allegedly, a 66MHz 486 processor would do the job just as well, but I think I prefer to stick to the Pentium because the motherboard has so much more flexibility. For a start it has PCI slots, and also the hard disk controller will be happy with bigger disks than a 486 motherboard. Maybe tonight I will actually get as far as mounting the motherboard in the gigantic server case I have.
Tomorrow afternoon/early evening I have an appointment at the dentist so I will have to leave work early. I reckon I will leave at about 13:30, but it could be a little later. I am not looking forward to this visit. Not only will I have a couple of small cavities filled, but I will also have to undergo all the preparation for my new half crown. That will mean lots of drilling and grinding of a tooth that already has a gigantic crater in it. On top of that there will be the taking of the impression. Something else that I hate (tastes bad, and feels bad !). Finally I expect the dentist will be fitting a temporary metal cap over the ground down area. That feels terribly as it is forced on. Of course none of this will actually hurt, well not much, but it is so uncomfortable having it all done. Of course the worst part is that I know in advance that it will take a whole half hour to do. This must be one of the few times that I have known in advance the time it will take. For previous similar treatments I have been blissfully ignorant of how much time has been allocated.

17:14 GMT
    I'm now back at home again. I forgot to mention that I was nearly 45 minutes late for work this morning. It was partly my fault, and partly the fault of S.E. Trains. The part that was my fault was because I could not be bothered to run for the train when I realised I had missed my time to leave the house by a few minutes. The part that was S.E. Trains fault was because their traain broke down at Platform 6 at London Bridge. It was quite interesting, even if it did add to my delays. I am not sure what the problem was exactly. I suspect it was the brakes locked on. Everytime we tried to move forward we actually went backwards a tiny amount. My gues is that the backward movement was the tension of the brakes  being relieved once forward power was stopped. After 5 minutes the driver announced that he would try re-booting the train. All the lights went out for a few seconds, and then came back on. Interestingly the displays inside the carriage displayed "BRB CLASS 465" for a few moments. BRB is the manufacturer of the train, and CLASS 465 is the type of train - a 4 car "Networker". After a while we were advised to cross over to platform 5 for the next train to Waterloo East (and Charing X). It turned out to be a Class 465/9 - the first I have been on. These are the Networkers that have been tarted up for longer distance travel. They seem to be pretty reasonable inside. Not excellent like an old slam door train, but better than the new Class 375 and 376 trains, and of course better than the grubby old Class 465 trains that they were refurbished from.

 To make up for getting in late this morning I left a few minutes early (!). After not eating anything apart from a few biscuits first thing this morning, I was able to rush around a bit more. I managed to catch the early train at Wandsworth (a Class 444 if anyone is counting), and was able to just make the early train from Waterloo East (a grubby Class 465 Networker - or Notworker as some will have it !). I was in before 17:00 and even had time to empty the rubbish bin, and Nelly's litter tray, before sitting down to write this.
Sunday 11th December 2005
Weather - bright, but very cold

08:20 GMT
      One more day of rest before work starts again tomorrow.
 Yesterday was a very lazy day. After doing my early morning writing I did go back to bed again, and did not get up until about 08:30. I was still feeling the after effects of the beer, and chicken and chips, from Friday night when I finally decided to get washed and dressed.  I didn't fancy rushing around feeling a bit rough, but I did do some very light shopping. - mainly fags and magazines. The magazines were my downfall. I spent many hours yesterday just quietly reading. It was good to get back in touch with the world of computer magazines. For too many months I could not afford to buy any magazines, and I felt a little out of touch with the scene. So I was a little surprised to see that Socket A processors are now obsolete. Every advertiser was only listing 64 bit processors for the newer sockets. I guess if I am going to upgrade it will mean a new motherboard, memory, etc, or in reality a complete system.

 What I was hoping to achieve with my future PC upgrade was to get a faster processor, for instance an AMD XP2800 or XP3000 to put in my video editing machine. The XP2100 processor out of that would go into my studio machine, and the 1.4GHz Athlon processor from that into my Internet machine. Finally the 1.3GHz Duron processor, from the internet machine, into a cheap new everything-on-board motherboard to make a new, fairly fast, office machine that Patricia could use when she stays next. Doing her translation work does require a few extra resources that a slower machine would struggle to keep up with. My experiments with a PIII 450MHz machine suggests that it needs a lot more power to run a web browser, word processor, PDF editor, and maybe translation software all concurrently. At a guess it will need about a 1GHz processor (with a lot of memory) to make switching between applications nice and smooth. Of course memory may be the stumbling block for my earlier experiments, but it might also be that the motherboard I was using has always seemed very temperamental (it often requires a reset during initial boot for the BIOS to recognise the second hard disk). Life would probably be a little easier if she could use a Linux solution, but she is so reliant on collaaborating with Windows users that it may not be practical.

 Today I may be less lazy than yesterday. I need to do some heavy shopping later. Yesterday I didn't buy any catfood or human food. I have a wide selection for me in the freezer, but I did open the last tin of catfood this morning. I ought to do another load of washing, and maybe some other household chores.

 One of the things I meant to make a start on yesterday was to renew my server experiments. Rather than trying to squeeze it all onto a very low end machine, I think I am going to go for something bigger. I do have a gigantic server case that is rather old, and just gathering dust. I also have an old ricketty AT motherboard with a PII 233MHz processor on it. Maybe that will form the basis of the new server. The case has something like 7 five inch bays and I can try and fill them with an assortment of old drives (maybe even a 30MB Syquest drive just for a laugh - I wonder if Linux will know what it is ?????). Even if I do start the project today I doubt I will finish it until before xmas. Maybe it will take even longer if I try something bold like trying to set up a couple of 2GB SCSI disks in a raid configuration. They would be used for ultra critical data (if I had any), and just part of a wild assortment of drives that I could hang in there.

 Later in the week things get sort of busy. On Wednesday evening, at 17:15, I am back in the dentists. Maybe I will go for an early eveing drink after that, but it is probably unlikely. On Thursday it is the "Media Services" xmas dinner. I don't know whether to take half a day off work, or just a few hours, or even just to join up with the rest for an after work drink. Finally on Friday afternoon it is the official work xmas dinner. That is all paid for, but I don't know how I stand on getting paid for the time eating and drinking. Every hour I take off work I lose £10, and although I can get away with the lack of cash, I am trying to build up a small surplus. I also have to consider that work shuts down for the xmas week and I will not be paid that week (I think).
Saturday 10th December 2005
Weather - cold and dark

04:45 GMT
     You may well wonder what I am doing up at this time in the morning. Well so am I ! I am actually up inder false pretences. My little furry alarm clock said it was time to get up and feed her. Smudge agreed as well. At first I thought it might have been 05:30, and I was most shocked to se it was 04:30 !!! So while the two moggys fill their faces I thought I ought to do some writing. Then I will go back to bed again.

   Work continues to go well (apart from the travelling in darkness). Yesterday I learnt that I had been picked to help out with a special project by the owner of the company. I would like to think that this was because my good work had been noticed. That may not be the case, but it was definitely suggested that I may well be offered a permanent position once my three month contract is over. For this reason alone it was probably worth missing out on the drink at Barming last Thursday night. I don't think it would have made a good impression turning up late with a hangover, or not at all yesterday.

 After work, yesterday, I felt I had the energy to go home via The Herne. It was certainly the least stressful journey I have had when getting there. I had to wait a little longer for the bus, but this time I got off at the right stop. Strangely the bus ride seemed to take longer than last week, and I only had a few minutes to get from the bus stop to Battersea Park Station. For most of the bus ride the bus was not too crowded, and it was the same for the train to Peckham Rye Station. Even more strange was that the bus I caught at Peckham Rye was also very lightly loaded (but I had just missed one bus by 30 seconds, and my bus came soon after). So I was in The Herne just a few minutes later than my predicted time of 17:15. In fact had I not made a 100ft diversion to the cash machine I would have been in the pub by that time.

 I stayed in the pub for a few hours before Iain gave me a lift home. Once indoors I ordered some chicken and chips. It was a fairly big order and I could not eat it all. So I have plenty for breakfast, or more likely lunch today. I did feel very tired as the evening wore on and was in bed by 22:00. With no rush to get up this morning (apart from Nelly demanding her breakfast at this unearthly hour) I cast caution to the wind and started reading a computer magazine. After 30 minutes of reading I had to put the magazine down, turn off the light, and close my eyes. I was asleep in minutes after that.

 Today (and Sunday) I must avoid another spending spree. Taking Wednesday of last week off cost me about £65, and so I have a little less money to spend. I also have to remember that I will (probably) not be paaid for the week over xmas when work shuts down. So I had better try and save a few pennies for after xmas. I will have to get some supplies in from Tesco, but this week it should be cheaper than last week when I needed to stock up on all sorts of things. With some of the money saved I think I will invest in a few magazines to read over the weekend. I haven't bought any of the "quality" computer magazines for most of this year, and I think it is time I caught up with what is happening out there. Hopefully W. H. Smiths will have a copy of "Linux Format" with a decent cover disk on it.

 I have a selection of housework to do today, but I will not be busting a gut over it. So in my free time this weekend I may resume my server experiments that I abandonned prior to starting work. Having access to part of my file system seems to have a new relevance since starting work. Being able to upload and download stuff from work could be useful.
Thursday 8th December 2005
Weather - continuing mild and mostly dry

18:20 GMT
    Tonight I should be going to The Bull in Barming for the final "old pirates" bi-monthly drink of the year. The trouble is I already feel knackered after a hard day at work, and I do not want to come home three hours after my bedtime, roaring drunk, and not be able to get to work in the morning. So I think it is better that I do not go tonight. A lot of people will be disappointed, but I feel that work in the morning is quite important. I think I am making a good impression so far, and I want to keep it that way.

 Perhaps the most disappointed person will be Imogen. I must admit I am disappointed not to see her myself. It must be 20 years since I saw her last. In that time she has married and had two kids. Allegedly she is still just as beautiful as ever. To get to Barming the poor women will have had to travel for several hours to get to Barming, and then the same going home again. The only thing I can say is that it is probably Ivor she wants to see more than me. We were good friends once, but she used to have the hots for Ivor.

 Work continues to go well. I actually enjoy being at work. It is just getting there, and coming home again I dislike so much. Many mornings I start travelling with lower stomach pain, and many mornings I have to try and use the toilets on the platform at Waterloo East. Sometime I even do use them ! One of the problems recently is that I am buying cheap sandwiches from the manufacturers who are based in the same business village. They are very nice, but it leaves me so sleepy for the afternoon. That was one of today's problems. I didn't want to go to Barming on a totally empty stomach so I had two lots of sandwiches. Coming home it was not only tiredness that I felt, but I was winded as well while walking to the station. For my first week at work I was eating very little and able to rush around a lot. These evenings when I have eaten too much it is almost like I am suffering from Angina (maybe I am). An alternative explanation is that I have been suffering from some sort of bug. It does feel a little like the closing stages of the 'flu I had 4, 5, 6, ? weeks ago. The 'flu, being a viral infection, does tend to linger, and can briefly revive itself under conditions of extra stress. Maybe that is what I have been feeling.
Sunday 4th December 2005
Weather - fairly mild and dry

18:42 GMT
    I did something I am not proud of today. I went and bought some stuff from PC World !  I phoned Iain this morning to see if he wanted to go to a computer fair, but as I sort of guessed, he was too tired to come out to play. So I went out to buy my weekly season ticket at the station, and on the spur of the moment decided to go to PC World. Actually I didn't do too bad. I was specifically looking for a new DVD burner to replace the now very cranky one in my video editing PC. At a computer fair I was expecting to pay around £35. So I was quite surprised to see some "brown box" (OEM) drives going for £34, and some fully boxed, retail packed, drives for just £39. In a moment of madness I bought one of each. Both support +/- disks, and both support dual layer disks. One is now in the video editing machine, and the other is in this Linux box. Meanwhile the DVD burner that was in this Linux box, the burner that no longer burns DVD's at all, is in the machine I have built for Patricia to use. The burner from the video editing PC will go into my studio machine upstairs. I very rarely need to burn DVD's up there, but it could be useful if I can resore some life back into that burner. It may respond to a good clean up as it does occasionally manage to burn a readable disk. If nothing else it still burns CD's faster than the one it will replace, and it can still read DVD disks perfectly OK.

 This afternoon I had a special treat of roast beef with roast potatoes and sprouts with chestnuts. It was really rather nice ! An hour, or was it two (?), after eating it I had the luxury of being able to lie down on my bed and have a snooze. I think I was asleep for nearly two hours.  It certainly made up for lost sleep last night when I didn't go to bed until past 2am (and still got up at 8am).

 Tomorrow brings another day at work where I have to earn some money to make up for my frivoulous spending in PC World. It may also bring news from Patricia as to whether she has been offered the week long assignment in London. I may be being a little premature on this, hoping I will get the news tomorrow, and I may be being over optimistic that she will be coming at all, but I have to live in hope.            top
Saturday 3rd December 2005
Weather - still mild, but occasional rain

22:16 GMT
    It's Saturday night, and everything is OK. In fact you could say everything is great. The reason for this is that I have had a message to say that there is a possibility that Patricia may have another assignment in London. At this time it is still 50 - 50 if she will get it, but if she does it will probably be for a whole week.

 I have had a sort of lazy day today. It has been moments of activity punctuated by moments of watching TV. One of the frist things I did this morning was to go to the sorting office to pick up a packet. This turned out to be a waste of time, and having to do it affected my plans for the rest of the day. Inside the packet was a DVD from Lee. The sad thing was that I only wanted him to return the DVD because I thought I had lent him my master copy. Instead the silly dope could not recognise that it was a copied DVD and not an original. The copy he was supposed to keep for himself. I am now left wondering who I lent my master copy to. The most likely culprit denies having it, and was after a copy for himself.

 When I got home from the sorting office I did some laundry, and then sometime after midday I did some shopping in Tesco's. I have treated myself to a joint of beef that I will have with roast potatoes and sprouts (with chestnuts) tomorrow. What I should have done next was to go to the William IV pub in Elmers End for the "first saturday of the month" drink with my old work colleagues. I haven't seen them in months because previously I have been too broke to go there. Today I could afford it, but having to go to the sorting office in the morning completely messed up my day. Instead I stayed in and watched some old episodes of 'Allo 'Allo on UK Gold.

 Tonight I have been doing some computer stuff. I am trying to get one of my old PC's set up for Patricia to use. The last two times she has used the PC in the studio, but I don't really like that machine getting cluttered up with non-audio related programs. I have been having a few problems with a crappy old CD/DVD drive in the machine. It does have trouble reading some parts of CDR disks, and it gets worse once it warms up. I think I will have to scrap it very soon. I may well have a replacement for it soon. With luck I will be taken to a computer fair tomorrow by Iain. I am desparate for a new DVD writer. My Philips made drive in the video editing PC has provided good service for the last three or four years, but has recently become very unreliable when burning DVD disks. It reads them OK, and as far as I know it burns CD's OK too. So that drive will be swapped out when I have bought a new drive. I also want a big hard disk to replace the one in this Linux computer. It doesn't need to be massive, but something around 120GB will give me plenty of breathing space (It is currently an 80GB drive with 40GB allocated to a Windows partition).

Yesterday (Friday)
    I started the day yesterday feeling far better than I had in the previous few days. Work was unremarkable. I enjoyed a lot of what I did, and hated the travelling as usual. After work I went for a drink in The Herne with Iain and a few others. Saying it like that makes it sound so simple. In fact it is harder to get to The Herne than it is to get home - even though it is closer ! Last week was a total farce using the number 37 bus. This time I got on a number 156 bus intending to get to Battersea Park Station. I got a little lost and got off the bus several stops short of the station. Thankfully a kind lady gave me directions and suggested I get on the next bus along which was a number 137.  A few stops and I eventually found the station in time to get the next (and only feasible) train to Peckham Rye station. It was only a two car train and completely packed. Fortunately it is only a 15 minute ride packed in like sardines, but I was still very glad to get off. The main road outside Peckham Rye Station (I can't remember it's name) is a joke. It is very narrow, and some eople completely ignore the bouble yellow lines and park in it regardless. This causes many holdups, and the buses get really jammed up. After a 10 minute wait my bus turned up already pretty full, and I had to stand again for the ten minute crawl to the pub. Despite all that I think I made slightly better time than trying to use the number 37 bus, and it was certainly less aggravating.

 I was hoping to see Ruth in the pub, but she was off getting medication for a chest infection (as I learned later). I had three or four pints of Stella Artois before Iain dropped me off home again. Once home I ordered a large Indian Takeaway. It was the first I have had in months and was delicious !! So, full of beer, and full of curry, I went to bed soon after midnight feeling quite pleased with myself.                    top
Thursday 1st December 2005
Weather - mild with some showers

18:28 GMT
Patricia on the phoneLet's start the month with a picture of Patricia. This was taken on Monday 21st November, the last day of her recent visit. I think she was on the phone to her sister.

 I started today feeling pretty rotten. I ached all over, and had no energy. It may have been part hangover, part illness, and part the after effects of my food poisoning yesterday morning. It was a real pain in the proverbial getting to work, but I made it on time and felt a lot better after sitting down in the warm for 30 minutes. For most of the rest of the day I felt OK, but I had a late lunch and bought a couple of very large rolls from the caterers who operate out of the same building. They deliver to local offices, and then sell off any remainders to us for £1 per roll. It it very good value for money. Unfortunately two rolls was one too many. Later in the afternoon I felt very tired and if I could I would have layed down and had a snooze.

 Getting to the station seemed very hard work. I was puffing and wheezing all the way there, even though I did not attempt to walk very fast. I sometimes wonder why I usually rush to the station becuase I caught the same train as usual. (Although if I do go at breakneck speed I can get an earlier one if I am very lucky). At Waterloo I just strolled across the link to Waterloo East station and still had enough time for a fag before my train came in. At London Bridge it was still the mad dash to cross the bridge to get the Catford train. That left me very winded, but I did it.

 It was after getting home that disaster struck ! I decided that Nelly's litter tray needed emptying rather promptly. As I lifted the bin liner with the contents of her litter tray it tore open depositing the contents all over the kitchen floor !!!

Yesterday (Wednesday)
    Yesterday started very badly. Not only was I aching, but I seemed to have some stomach trouble. I made it onto the train, but the joting of the train felt very uncomfortable, and I was worried that it was a very long way to Waterloo where there are some toilets. So At the first stop, Ladywell, I got off the train and came home again. Despite my feelings of impending doom I did not need to rush to the toilet, but I still felt very rough. I phoned work and told them I was sick, and for much of the day I just stayed in, or on, my bed sleeping or reading.

 Later, as evening approached, I felt much better, and at 17:15 set out for my dental appointment. I would normally walk to the dentist, but at the bottom of the hill I saw a bus coming and jumped on it. I got to the dentist 15 minutes early, but was seen 15 minutes late. Unfortunately, owing to a cock up, I had only been given a 15 minute appointment instead of a 30 minute one. With the dentist aalready 15 minutes behind schedule she decided there was nothing she could do for me then. So we made another appointment, this time getting it right for 30 minutes, for the 14th of December. To compensate me for my troubles I asked for a free sample of toothpaste, and was generously given two.

 I had just 30 minutes indoors, after coming home from the dentist, before going to the pub to meet Kevin and Howard. Iain was supposed to join us, but he was taking out the new barmaid from The Herne. (I guess his carnal desires are more important than us). At 5 minute to 9pm, and three pints of Winter Warmer later, I came home. I think I just about managed to achieve my goal of sleep by 10pm.

Tomorrow (Friday)
 The plan is that I will be going to The Herne after work. What I will not be doing is getting that bloody number 37 bus again. I will decide on the spur of the moment whether to get a number 156 to Battersea Park station, or to get the train to Queenstown Road station (they are just a few minute walk apart). From Battersea Park station I can get a train to Peckham Rye, and the a number 63, or 363, bus to right outside The Herne. If Iain is not available for a lift home I will probably just have one or two pints, but if a lift is forthcoming it may be a few more !!                                                                                                                                                                                                       top