October 2005

eye left


eye right

Monday 31st October 2005
Weather - raining

07:45 GMT
   After a lot of hot sweaty work yesterday I am looking forward to a good shower and shampoo this morning. Once that is out the way it will be time to do more "spring cleaning". I have reached a point where the difference is starting to show, and the hardest parts are already done. This should make it easier to carry on. Despite all that there is still plenty I need to do. The one thing I am still dreading is cleaning the gas cooker. I very much doubt I could make much headway with it if I spent several hours a day for the next month.

 One important task for today is to set all the clocks in the house to GMT. I should have done it yesterday, but it did niot feel important enough at the time. With confusion over my bedtime last night it now seems imperative.
 Yesterday was most succssful. Apart from making the bed up I have finished doing the spare room/studio. Ideally I would have liked to have time to wash the curtains. In fact time is less of a problem than getting them dry again, and I have more urgent needs of both the washing machine and the drying space. I did wash the net curtains up there and they came up brilliantly. It's a shame that without a load of time consuming disruption I was not able to physically get at the windows to clean them too. It would have given that extra little sparkle to the room.

 After a lot of tidying up I managed to reveal plenty of floor area up there. There is now room to circulate without tripping over stuff. I also gave the clear floor area a good hoovering. I have to confess that this was the first time I had used the hoover in too long. Not only did I hoover the floor but I also removed some old remnants of spider webs. While the machine was upstairs I did my own room, for the first time in ages, aand I did bits of the hall and stairway. Both are too cluttered with junk to be effectively cleaned, but I made some improvements. Plus, once again, I removed much more hanging dust and old spider webs. Sometime you wonder where all the spider web comes from because you never see the spiders that make it.

 The work that needed the real grunt, and brought me out dripping with sweat, was repairing one of the chairs upstairs. Thesem particular chairs have a long history of the welds that hold the seat support to the frame breaking. I had to fashion a metal loop to act as a bracket to support the seat. It should be far stronger than the original welding, although it is less elegant.

I managed a few other more minor tasks yesterday. I did a lot of washing up, and I made the barest start to tidying up the living room.

 Despite all that hard work I did not feel sleepy when I went to bed. That was most surprising, but it must indicate that I have just about conquered my 'flu like illness. I was in bed with the light turned out by 23:00. or maybe even earlier (there is asome confusion because I haven't yet set all the clocks to GMT). It took ages to get to sleep, and even after I did fall asleep I was awake again at 01:30 and down here checking on the progress of something this PC was doing. When I went back to bed again I did fall asleep fairly easily. I think in total I had a good nights sleep. At least I feel fairly awake this morning.
Sunday 30th October 2005
Weather - bright and almost mild

07:15 GMT
    The important thing about today is that the clocks changed overnight, and we are now on GMT. This means the mornings are so much lighter, but it will be getting dark very early in the evening now - almost still afternoon !

 My plans for today are not so different to yesterday. It will be a case of mustering all the energy I can find to continue my "spring cleaning". I almost have the enthusiasm for this, although as a rule I hate housework. It is tedious back breaking labour. No doubt it could be argued that if I did it more often each task would be so much easier. Maybe I'll learn this one day !

 There may be one last lingering effect of my recent illness. I say maybe because  am not sure if it has only happened in the last fortnight, or whether it is just a sign of old age or something. Once upon a time I could wake up as fresh as a daisy (as they say). Within seconds of opening my eyes I was ready to go (in both contexts of the word - and I'll admit one of those contexts was often a bigger priority than the other). It seems that recently that has changed. I open my eyes and almost do the traditional groan. As I get out of bed I feel almost wobbly and unstable as if my legs are stiff and uncontrollable. It seems to be taking a longer time to clear my head and think straight, and for my eyes to become clear of grit and able to focus properly. It may be just a lingering symptom of the virus as this morning it may not have been so bad as the last few mornings.
 I started yesterday with a shopping trip to Tesco. I have almost spent my budget for the week, but I still have a tiny bit in reserve to buy milk, and maybe some breakfast cereal (or something) for when Patricia stays. My principle purchases yesterday were bathroom cleaning cream, and cat litter. The latter will last long enough to make sure that Patricia doesn't come into the house with a smelly litter tray to greet her.

It took a little while to raise the energy and enthusiasm to tackle the bathroom, and I had to do it in two stages, but after a lot of very hard work it is mostly sanitary in there. Many bits of it gleam, but some bits, mainly old paintwork still look very dowdy. In between time I did some laundry so she will have fresh bedding (Patricia that is, not Nelly), and I put away some of the old computer bits that were littering this back room. I will never make this back room pretty, but at least it is now easy to pass through it.

 There is still so much to do, and now only another 4 days to do it in, but the plan seems to be coming together.
Saturday 29th October 2005
Weather - raining again

     I don't feel very good this morning, but this is almost certainly just the result of a hangover !

 Once I can finally get my brain and body in gear the order for the day is more "spring cleaning".  I will need to paay a short visit to Tesco to get some more cleaning stuff. I think I need a slightly abrasive cleaner to polish up the hand basin, and some limescale remover would not go amiss either.
 Yesterday went mostly to plan. I went out in the morning and raided the local Aldi store for some bleach, bathroom cleaner (which was not as good as I hoped it would be) and some catfood. I managed to make a start on polishing up the bathroom, but it will still need another hour or two of intensive work to get it presentable.

 Iain came round a little later than I was expecting him. We had made the arrangements while drunk and one of us had misunderstood the other. My idea was that he would pick me up on his way to work at around midday. In fact when he did pick me up he had finished work for the day so we went straight to The Herne. We ended up drinking earlier than I had imagined. By the time Ruth turned up I was already feeling drunk. After a final pint in The Herne we went to The Forest Hill Tavern to see if Max was around. She wasn't, but it took another 3 (or was it 4 ?) pints to make sure.

 When I finally got home I was very drunk. It was all I could do to shove some food in the oven to cook. Anything else would have been far too complicated. So I had some food and then wrote a very drunken e-mail which I should not have sent. After that I went to bed and felt guilty about sending that e-mail. I was lucky enough to get to sleep before any serious hangover started, but I did wake up at 04:00 feeling rather rough.
Friday 28th October 2005
Weather - raining

   From a sunny day yesterday to a rainy day today - not such a pleasant idea !  I don't know whether it has anything to do with the weather, or just that I did go to sleep quite early on last night, but I do seem to be up a little earlier than usual. I actually woke up at 04:15 needing a pee, but couldn't get back to sleep. So I came down here to do some writing. I'll be going back to bed again once I have finsished writing.

 I don't feel too bad this morning. There is every indication that my illness has just about finished. The real test will be how much stamina I can muster during the course of the day. If it is like yesterday I will tire very quickly, but then recover equally as quickly.

 My plans for today start with a shopping trip this morning. Principle buys will be some cleaning products, but there will also be the inevitable catfood as well. Later on, around lunchtime, Iain will be picking me up to go into the school. There could be a lunchtime pint involved, but the real target is an early evening drink in The Herne where I hope to meet Ruth and discuss a computer problem with her.

 I don't know what time I will get in this evening, but I am sure that I will not be doing anything productive after a drink in The Herne. I must remember to get some post-drinking food in when I do my shopping this morning.
 Yesterday was a very waarm sunny day. I had no aches or pains, but I also had very little energy - at least for sustained work.I had a very lazy morning, but I did manage two jobs that I have been putting off for a long time. These two jobs were to dismantle and grease the threads for the two hot taps (one in the kitchen, and the other in the bathroom).These particular type of taps have a screw thread that needs to be lubricated or it feels like the washers have perished and they are almost impossible to turn off completely. I lubricated the thread with some silicone grease. That should last a reasonable amount of time before the hot water finally leaches it away. Both taps now turn off smoothly and easily.
I finally raised some energy, and enthusiasm in the afternoon and started my "spring cleaning" in preparation for Patricia's stay on Wednesday night. There is so much to do that it is a very daunting task. I mainly tackled my own bedroom, not that I expecting her to spend any time in there, but it was the easiest to tackle and give me some breathing room to shift a few things around. It was tiring work, and in the unusual warmth of the day I am forced to admit I got quite sweaty. It was worth it though. By tidying up in there I was able to shift a few things out of the spare room. With a little more effort I will now be able to make some progress in the spare room. Soon it will be time for some serious hoovering in both rooms. That will come after what I may be able to make a start on today - giving the bathroom a good scrubbing out. Over the weekend I will be washing the curtains in the spare room, doing that hoovering and giving the kitchen a bit of a scrubbing. The kitchen is really beyond redemption. In particular the cooker would need jetting down with boiling caustic soda over a period of a week to bring it up to a good shine. So I will only be attempting the most superficial cleaning there, but I can give the other work surfaces a good scrubbing and hoover out the cobwebs from above and behind the freezer. On Monday I will start on the living room. There could be a lot to do in there, or very little depending on just how I want it to look. Nothing but a paint job would really make it look very nice, so I will have to settle for a tidy up and a bit of dusting. That will give me Tuesday and Wednesday to do the finishing touches. I will not be doing much to this back room where my main computer is. The only thing I will be doing in here is to give the area around where the cats eat a good clean to try and get rid of the pet shop smell that often eminates from here. It's a lot of tedious work to do, but it will be worth it in the end.
Thursday 27th October 2005
Weather - mild

    I feel just like I have spent the night before in a pub. Actually I did, so I must be fit and healthy apart from a hangover this morning. Despite the mild hangover I think I still feel better than yesterday morning, and then I did not feel too bad. I still get the odd little pain, but mostly I seem to be over my 'flu. The one thing still lacking is energy. Now this is a pity because I have need of a great deal of that over the next 5 or 6 days.

 It is now more or less confirmed that from next Wednesday night Patricia will be coming to stay for a few days. This is both very scary, and also very wonderful. It is scary because this will be the first time anyone has stayed here in over 15 years, and then only for a single overnight stay. That was Jodie who would occasionally crash here after we had been to a late ending gig in London. This will be slightly different in that Patricia will be staying for 2 or 3 (maybe more) nights. So I have an awful amount of preparation work to do. Anyone who knows this place will be aware that it is like a pigsty. Somehow, over the next few days, I ought to try and overcome years of neglect.  Of course I will never manage everything, but I will be trying to work on a few key areas such as the bathroom, living room, and the spare room (also my studio). It will be very weird sharing this place with somebody. I have never really had to do it before. I just hope that we get on with each other as it will be the first time we will have spent and lengthy period of time together. Despite these underlying fears I am very much looking forward to it.

 So the order for today, and the following days is housework, housework and more housework (perhaps I ought to slit my wrists now !). No doubt I will be distracted by other things from time to time, but my experimental work on servers, and other PC related stuff will mainly be on the back burner for some time.
 All yesterday morning I waited and waited for the home interview officer to check on my details for the council tax relief. He was supposed to be here between 09:00 and 13:00. By 13:00 he still had not arrived so I phoned up their office. I was assured that he was still coming, and would be here in about 20 minutes. An hour later he finally turned up. We filled in the forms and that was that.

 While waiting for him I did do some video editing. This was to finish a little job that has been waiting for nearly two months now. It was to put together the footage I shot of the steam train that went through the local station, and combine it with the footage that Kevin shot on thje same day. It was actually a fairly quick project, but it still took over an hour to  complete just 3.5 minutes of video.

 Later in the afternoon I had a rest. I lay on my bed and did a little reading before dozing off for 30 minutes (maybe longer). As evening approached I began to feel quite good. This was for a combination of reasons. The extra sleep obviously did me good, and I was quite high on hearing the news about Patricia coming to visit (we had exchanged several e-mails during the course of the day that built up to this). Then the prospect of a few pints and being able to tell the good news had me in very good spirits.

 We had 4 or more pints in The Ram before coming home again. I decided against staying uop watching TV, or surfing the net, and was up in bed very quickly. I did a little more readinguntil going to sleep at about midnight.
Wednesday 26th October 2005
Weather - fairly mild

   It is probably just as well that I do not feel too bad this morning. From as early as 09:00, to possibly as late as 13:00 I am expecting a visit from a benefit officer. No problem there except I will have to do a bit of rushing around once I am up and dressed to get the place into a fit state for visitors. As well as a bit of general tidying up I need to air the place. It smells as if some old catfood has gone off in the kitchen, and Nelly has deposited something in her litter tray that is bad enough to make you gag !  (I won't mention what I have just done in my litter tray !!!).

 I think I am up for a bit of rushing around. I have a few kinks in my body leftover from sleep, but those are already straightening out, and some minor pain in my lower belly. I don't know what the latter is - it's probably some organ rotting away. I do feel just a little tired, but I am expecting most of these maladies to be washed away by a hot shower.

 Once I am able to relax a bit, and while waiting for the visitor, I think I will fire up the video editing machine and finally try and finish the little video of the Steam train through Catford Bridge. The train went through nearly two months ago, and I started to edit the video soon after. Since then it has been ignored in favour of slightly more esxciting stuff.

 This afternoon I will either be still editing video, or I may spend some time doing some audio stuff. While this evening I will be going to The Ram for a drink. Just to make a cange I will have sufficient money on me to buy my own first pint. After that I will have to throw myself to the mercy of Iain and Kevin.
 Yesterday I started off feeling quite stiff, but by the end of the afternoon I was very limber (and pissed). The hot shower I had washed away some of the residual aches I had, although my head still felt a little achey for much of the morning. Iain picked me up at about 10:00 and we went to the school with the repaired Power Supply Unit in hand. I fitted it back into the ancient Compaq Reliant 5000 server and switched on. Amazingly it all worked perfectly. So that was an excellent start to the day.

 While at the school I took the opportunity to review the video tape I had shot there last Friday. I was very pleased with the way it had come out. My prowess as a cameraman has definitely improved a lot since I got my first camera/recorder combination (not a camcorder back in those days) some 30+ years ago. If I get the chance to edit that footage, and I can make a good job of that, it could possibly lead the way for a career opportunity.

 At lunchtime Iain took me to a pub to buy me first one pint, then another, and in the end, once we had got the taste for it, a total of four pints. I came home feeling very happy - drunk and with two successes under my belt !

 Once I got home the hangover set in, and I consumed a pile of very nice, but totally unhealthy food. It was not until 20:00 that the hangover started to dssipate, and maybe 21:00 before I felt back to normal. Still happy after my earlier successes I had another surprise come in via e-mail that added to my happininess. Patricia is coming to London next week, and has suggested that we should meet up. I don't know how long she will be here before going back to Spain, but I don't think she wants putting up here as I had offered some months back. So it is likely just to be a one brief meeting. That's better than nothing, and still definitely something to look forward to. Now I just hope I can be sure that the last vestiges of this 'flu have gone, never to return, by next week.
Tuesday 25th October 2005
Weather - cool

    I am having trouble working out how I feel this morning. The problem is trying to distinguish the effects of a heavy sleep from those of the 'flu, or whatever it is I have been suffering from lately. I have a slightly "thick" head, but that is not so unusual for me after I have slept deeply. It usually lasts until I have had a hot shower, and then slowly disappears. I feel a little hungry as well. There is definitely a slightly empty feeling in my stomach. The two combined do mimic some of the symptoms I have suffered as a result of my illness, but are not as severe. In the same way my neck and back feels slightly stiff and sore, but not as bad as I have felt. So once again I put this down to bad sleeping. What I need for that is a nice sensuous massage to get all the tensions out. Any volunteers ? (female only !).

 Despite feeling slighly uncomfortable now I intend to go out and fit the Compaq power supply into the Compaq server today. At least one person has bolstered my theory that some of the control circuitry for that power supply may be on the motherboard, and so it will not run correctly until connected to the motherboard (thanks Steve). Well later this morning I will find out how true that theory may be.

 Iain will probably be picking me up at some time around 10:00 today. Sometime after that the truth will be known. I wil also be able, or should be able to review some of the filming I did last Friday. So far I have no idea how well, or bad, it came out.

 The other signficant thing about today is that at some point there will be beer involved. How much, or for how long I have no idea, but I am sure it will happen.
 Yesterday was a very mixed sort of day. I was relatively pain free, and bored enough to overcome some of the inertia this illness gives me. I decided to experiment with the Compaq 486 powered desktop PC. I did have a working installation of Red Hat 6 on it, but I wondered how well Windows would work on it. I first had a battle trying to remove the Linux partitions on the hard disk. Eventually I used Windows NT 4 to delete, and make new partitions. NT 4 installed OK, but I couldn't get the network card to play ball with it. It is one of those network cards that is supposed to be NE2000 compatible but isn't. I did have a copy of some drivers for it, but for some unexplained reason Windows kept saying it couldn't find a certain file that I could see quite plainly on the disk drive. So I gave up on NT4 and thought I might try Windows 98SE. That complaned that it could not run on any PC slower than 66MHz. So the next thing to try was a processor transplant. I had a spare 486DX2/66MHz processor lying around so I put that in place of the 50MHz 486 that lived in there. From then on things went a bit strange. Windows kept hanging during the installation. I wanted to try Windows 95 next (not that I would really want to use it for anything involving networking). That never happened because I can't seem to find my Windows 95 CD. The CD case is empty. It must be around here somewhere, but where ?

 My simplest option for the future would be to go back to Red Hat 6, but I would also like to try and get a real working installation of Slackware Linux. I have had some limited success with Slackware before, but it has never progressed to a fully working installation. Some other options are Vector Linux, or Free BSD 4.3.I think both will work on a 486 processor, and I do have CD's for both. It gives me a lot of experimental options for the future.

 It was quite late in the afternoon, almost evening, when I decided to go out to Tesco and buy some diet cola and a few other goodies. Unlike last tinme I went to Tesco I did not suffer too much carrying some heavy bags home. They weren't so heavy as last time, but I think it was also to do with my improving health. I bougfht loads of junk food. It is not a very economical idea, but I fancied something nice. I didn't go overboard, and kept the bill down to under £10. Ideally it should have been closer to £5, but I need a treat now and then after being ill. Using willpower that is unusual for me I still have a lot of goodies left over for today, and maybe even the day after that.

 During the evening I mixed watching TV with nipping back to the Compaq desktop machine. I didn't achieve anything during this time, but curiosity can be a strong driver. I went to bed aat 22:00 and read for just under an hour. I fell asleep fairly easily, but the bed did feel unually lumpy and uncomfortable for some reason. I think that is why this morning it feels as if I slept on a sack of coal.Even as I sit here now I can feel some of the kinks coming out of my back and shoulders., leaving some alternative aches in their place. Strangely enough I also feel both hot and cold. The back door is open to let the cats in and out, but I am sure it is noit that warm outside. yet my face feels quite hot with a thin film of sweat almost, but not quite,  breaking out on my forehead. During all this illness I have not bothered to take my temperature, but I think if I had I would have noticed some wild variations in it. Perhaps these current variations in my personal appraisal of the ambient temprature suggest that I am feverish righ now. I think I will go and find my clinical thermometer and surprise myself !
Monday 24th October 2005
Weather - cold and wet

    In theory I was going to be out today to fit the "repaired" Compaq power supply back into the server to see if it aaactually worked.  That is now unlikely on three counts. Most obvious is that there is no way I could possibly be ready in time to be picked up any minute now. Second is that I had a very rough night and I do not feel up to going out this morning. Lastly the power supply unit stopped working the moment I put the two circuit boards back into their case. Hopefully all that has happened is that in the tight tangle of wires I managed to dislodge the connector that feeds the external power switch and interlock. The wire going to that socket was rather short, and the socket provided very little resistance to pulling that plug off.

 Once I finally feel fit enough to really get up after washing and dressing I will open up that power supply unit again. I have also a DVD player to take a look at. Another major diversion for today will be putting some finishing touches to a succesful installation of Red Hat 6.0 on an ancient 486 powered PC. I was amazed when it all installed last night. More so in that I have a working X based desktop which I did not intent to install. In fact I unticked all the boxes related to any graphical interfaces, but it seems Red Hat knew better than I !
 By comparison with the previous days I felt quite good yesterday. I started the day free of pain, and I stayed that way all day. I still felt rather weak and not up to much during the morning, and into the afternoon. By mid afternoon I felt I had enough concentration to tackle the Compaq power supply unit again. After some experimentation, and a bit of very rough circuitry chasing I concluded that there was a slim chance that the reason for the low 12V rail was that there was some additional control that should be taking place on the motherboard it was designed to feed. It seems hardly likely but it could be some sort of soft start control for the hard disks. Having got as far as I could, at least without any circuit diagram, I decided to take a chance that it would work correctly when connected to the motherboard. Unfortunately while putting it all back together I think I may have pulled off an internal plug that goes to the external power switch and interlock. When I re-tested it I found it to be as dead as a door nail. It was such a fight getting it back inside the case that I abandonded it there as my patience had finaally run out.

 After some dinner and a bit of a rest I felt my curiosity rising about something else. It was to see if I could successfully install an early version of Red Hat Linux (version 6) on the old Compaq 486 powered PC that I had thought I might use a s a server one day. The first hurdel was to get some memory into the machine. I had borrowed all the memory to put into the PC thatI had a semi working installation of SME Server on. The Compaq seemed very fussy about the type of memory installed in it. After mucking around with all my spare 72 pin memory sticks I only found two that it would entetain. I had to swap two sticks out the other machine to get a full 32MB of ram in the Compaq. Meanwhile the other machine was more than happy with some memory that the Compaq had rejected.

 After booting from the Red Hat 6 CD I selected the server option and that seemed to override the individual selections I had made for the software to be installed. It took a very long time to partition the 6.4GB hard disk with "check for bad blocks" switched on. Maybe that was not strickly neccessary, but I do not know the history of the hard disk, and if it does end up as a server I do want maximum reliability. With the hard disk formatted software installation started. I was not paying too much attention as this was happening, but I did notice some surprising packages being installed.

 Next caaame the usual setting of the root password, then setting up the lan connection. The next step surprised me. It was to set up the X server. I didn't think that machine would be able to run a graphical interface, but amazingly it could, and did ! It was a little crude, but it worked, I achieved a 640x480 screen with 256 colours. I was sure the next thing would not go right, but upon rebooting it booted up just fine, and after logging in I was presented with a desktop and the fwm window manager. I brought up Netscape Communicator and managed to connect to the internet, or at least I saw Google's front page. It was getting very late at this point, after 01:00 in fact. I was surprised that I could not see a shutdown option on the menu. So I brought up a terminal aand entered the mantra "shutdown -h now". That worked and I was able to shut the machine down and get to bed.

I felt tired but not sleepy when I got into bed. I had a great deal of difficulty getting comfortable in bed. From the waist down I felt cold, while my chest and face felt hot and sweaty. After a lot of changing positions, and re-arranging the duvet I managed to get to sleep aat about 02:30. By 03:30 I was awake again with the pillow soaked with sweat from my head, and my chest was dripping with sweat. That seemed to very up very quickly once I got out of bed for 5 minutes to go to the toilet. I fell asleep soon after getting back into bed again.

 A good sweat like that often signifies a change for the better when ill, but this morning I am not so sure. It is hard to put my finger on any major symptoms, but I feel far worse than yesterday. Some of that is just the result of lack of sleep, and badly broken sleep for the sleep I did get. I think I will risk another hour in bed soon.
Sunday 23rd October 2005
Weather - cold

    I'm not sure how I feel this morning. To look at me you would think my lefthand little finger was about to drop off, but that is just the result of an ink jet cartridge refilling experiment that went a little wrong. Underneath the black dye I do have a normal healthy pink coloured little finger ! One improvement over yesterday is that I do not have any significant pains this morning. There are no suspicious aches over vital organs that might have suggested premature heart, kidney, or liver failures. My back still feels a little stiff, and my brain feels slightly tight, but these could just be symptoms of sleeping, and will ease once I have had a hot shower.

 It may just be wound up tension from being so inert lately, but I feel as if I ought to have a load of energy to do something. I also know that this is an illusion, and that if I were to rush around like a loony I would soon tire. So I shall be taking things very easy again today. I will plan for nothing so if I actually do anything it will be a bonus.
 I was feeling not bad first thing yesterday morning. I still ached in a minor sort of way, but I over estimated how far down the road to recovery I had really reached. When I went out to Tesco's I began to feel tired before  even got there. Unlike one of my correspondants I almost enjoy shopping. The bit I don't like is shopping on a tight budget. With a free hand to choose what I want it is almost a pleasurable pastime. So yesterday, within the constraints of a very limited budget, I freely loaded up with the essentials. This included 10 large tins of catfood, and 6 litres of diet cola. Plus an assortment of lighter items. Lugging that lot home was a real effort. When I got in my arms were screaming in pain, and I had revived a whole host of pains around my torso. If it were not for the pain in my chest going right round to meet up between my shoulder blades I would have thought I was having a heart attack. Maybe I was, but it seemed to fix itself along with the other aches and pains later in the afternoon after I had spent some time in bed quietly listening to some recordings of Sherlock Holmes stories recorded from BBC 7 last year.

 I took the rest of the day very slowly from then on. About the only technical thing I did was to try and fill a long empty ink jet cartridge from a Hewlett Packard printer. As I was filling it black ink started leaking from a previously unseen apaerture at the bottom. This is how my left hand little finger came to resemble one suffering from the effects of acute frost bit, or bubonic plague, or something.My attempts at printing test pages all failed yesterday. The cartridge has been unused fro so long that the jets will be clogged with rock hard ink. If I am lucky this will eventually soften. It may take a week of patient testing before the first ink gets past those nozzles, or maybe it will never manage it. We'll just have to wait and see.

 By aaabout 18:00 I was feeling that i should be eating something. I didn't feel that hungry, but still a little hungry all the same. I didn't fancy a major cooking session, and that was the reason why my appetite was partially kerbed. I did have a feeling I wanted something nice though. I settled for putting some sausages in the oven. To add something a little different I put some garlic in with the sausages. I believe that garlic is supposed to be good for you. So I reasoned if a bit of garlic was good, then a lot of garlic should be better (a spurious argument, I know, but why not ???). I added 8 0r 9 segments (cloves ?) of whole garlic to be cooked in the fat from the sausages. This was about half a whole garlic bulb. It was rather nice and if I attributed my improvement this morning to the garlic then you could say it was very effective. I may do something very similar today.

 By 21:00 I went to bed to listen to some episodes of "Journey Into Space" the 1950's BBC sci fi serial. Once again these were recorded from BBC 7 last year. Despite the excitement of the story line I fell asleep during one episode. It was 22:30 when I woke again. So I switched off the laptop that I now (under)use as an mp3 player, and turned off the light. I fell asleep very quickly, and slept virtually soundly until just gone 06:00 this morning. It wasn't solid sleep as  I think I did wake up briefly at one point. Someone had let off a few fiireworks at 02:15. I was awake then for under a minute - just long enough to open my eyes and check the clock - then I fell asleep again straight away.  I have vague memories of dreams. The only bit I can remember was pointing out a vulnerability in something vaguely like a cash machine. It had a slot in it for a multi media memeory card. I can rememeber suggesting that a good hacker may be able to make some use of that. What that use may have been, and the rest of the dreams have now evaporated upon waking up.
Saturday 22nd October 2005
Weather - dark, dry and breezy

     I feel improved this morning. I still have some aches and pains, but not as bad as yesterday. I am also feeling very tired after a bad nights sleep.. Fortunately there is very little I have to do today. The job with the highest priority is to finish the repair on the Compaq power supply unit. Even that is not an extreme priority for today as I could equally well work on it tomorrow. Maybe the real priority is to stagger back from Tesco with some diet cola ( the only stuff that will feed my caffeine addiction as I do not drink coffee or tea).
 Yesterday was quite good in a masochistic sort of day. When I was picked up the drugs had helped a little to lessen the pains I was in. Possibly the worst inconvenience was that I was suffering from a lot of lower gut pain which neccesitated frequent trips to the toilet. Occasionally these were even productive, and eventually helped a bit.

 The filming I was to do was not scheduled to start until midday so I had several hours to kill while waiting around. I partially filled in that time be doing a couple of hours worth typing. That earned me a light lunch and some beer in the afternoon.

 I was glad that I had taken my posh camera to the filming. There were reporters there from ITN and Sky news who had real professional cameras. They didn't look down too far on my semi-pro camera. Certainly not as much as if it had just been a little handy cam. I was only "booked" for one hours filming, but the event went on for two hours. So I am hoping for a better reward than the one originally set out to tempt me. I was shooting ad-lib for just over an hour. I have not yet seen how well any of it came out. I reckon for about 65 minutes of tape there is aabout 10 minutes of good stuff that can be used for a short momento film.  There is a possibility that I will be asked to edit that film. It will be a long job, probably a whole day at least, but it could be worth some more beer money.

 After the filming we went to The Herne for some refreshment. Ivor had already given up on us because we were so late, and he had already drunk his firt pint. Despite my illness I forced down the first pint and the rest followed easily. It was quite a good afternoon/evening. I had plenty of beer, and I had got hold of some bootleg tobacco. Plus we had the company of Ruth and Max.

 When Iain dropped me off at home I was fairly drunk, and very hungry. I made a decision that may turn out in future to have been a bad idea, but based up on the idea that I had just obtained some cheap tobacco, and was expecting some reward for my filming, I ordered a cheap curry. It was very hot, and very delicious. I was to pay for it later though.

 After eating I tried to watch "Have I Got News For You" on TV, but I fell asleep during it. I woke up feeling rather chilly and decided to go straight to bed. I have no idea what time I got into bed, but I think it was before 23:00. I fell asleep fairly easily despite being a bit uncomfortable. At just gone 01:00 the curry had it's first revenge. I woke up with a burning sensation, and the taste of old curry in my throat. I was probably close to vomitting at that point, but technically I think it s only called reflux where a small bit of food escapes the stomach. I found it hard to get a good sleep after that. I was feeling the first effects of a hangover, and was worried that I might actually vomit at some point. So I had a very disturbed sleep with loads of dreams and I woke up several more times for short periods of time. After several trips to the toilet since I got up I am feeling far more stable and will be going back to bed soon.
Friday 21st October 2005
Weather - cold and dark

     I feel both better and worse this morning. My ability to concentrate has improved, and I don't feel so spongy in the head as yesterday. However I do ache a lot a more than yesterday. I have pains in my lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and probably bacon and onions as well. It feels like I have been stabbed in the back, punched in the stomach, and battered on my shoulders. I am beginning to suspect that I have some sort of illness.

 Today I have been asked to go and do some filming. It is worth some beer to do so. I am not sure if I will be ready in time to be picked up to do it, but I have taken a couple of paracetamol to try and make myself a little more comfortable if it happens.
 Yesterday I felt dreadful. I managed to get out to Tesco where I was desperate to buy both catfood and some food for myself. That trip was not so bad, but I did feel slightly wobbly as some points. Later on I tried to concntrate on getting a server to work. I made some progress, but had to give up as it just seem to overwhelm my spongy brain. Later, in the faternoon, I went back to bed. It is some reflection on how bad I felt that I slept solidly for over two hours. After that I felt a little beter and decided to tackle the Compaq server power supply. I did manage to get it to run after a fashion, but the 5V supply was a little high at 5.4V, and the 12V supply was low at 9.47V. The fact that it was running continously was a step in the right direction, but my concentration ran out before I could face trying to work out the voltage control problem. For the rest of the evening I just flopped out in front of the TV. I got to bed soon after 22:00 and attempted to read for a little while, but gave up and went to sleep after about 10 minutes.
Thursday 20th October 2005
Weather - damp after heavy rain

     I don't feel so good this morning. I think I can trace this back to yesterday which I will describe later. I have two things I want to try and complete today. One is to repair the Compaq power supply unit, and the other is to try and make some progress in setting up my server.  I am not sure I will do either considering how I feel at the moment, but after another spell in bed I will be giving it a go.
 Yesterday was an interesting day out, although it did not achieve what was desired for it. The idea was that I would be driven all the way to Cambridge to assist in setting up a wireless network for a house full of students. Unfortunately the equipment there did not turn out to be suitable for the job. The internet source was a cable modem with an RJ45 ethernet connection. This was plugged into a wireless hub. The idea so far was good, but that wireless hub was actually an adsl modem with wireless attached. As far as I could see, it refused to do any work that did not include an adsl connection. When that was deemed as being unsuitable a "Wireless Access Point" was bought from a local shop. That didn't work either. As far as I could work out it was not a hub or router, but was made merely to provide wireless access to an existing wireless network for a single PC or something like a printer. It could be argued that yesterday was a waste of a day, but the worst part for me happened at about 14:00. I came over all dizzy and light headed. I think it was probably low blood sugar levels caused by not eating much in the previous 24 (36 ?) hours. Soon after that a sandwich was offered that I gratefully accepted. That did help a lot, but since then I feel that I am not quite with it.

 As we approached home I declined a pint because I was feeling dead knackered and still a little light headed. Trying to type an email last night was quite difficult because I had terrible trouble concentrating. Even this morning I feel a little odd. The closest description to it is like feeling mildly drunk, but that does not really adequately describe how I feel. I am not sure exactly how I do feel, and that does make it harder to describe it. In some ways it is like the first few seconds after waking up from a deep sleep. The outside world does not feel quite real, and is still semi dreamlike. If any of this is caused by low blood sugar level then the flood of sugar from a can of (non-diet) Pepsi should sort it out rather rapidly. Of course it may be something more exotic like a brain tumour or something, but is more likely bird 'flu caught off one of the birds at the students house yesterday. I can't comment on Ivor's daughter, but her friend was a very exotic species that I would like to catch something from ! Other unlikely possibilities are deep vein thrombosis from sitting in the car for over 2 hours, but whatever is causing it doesn't feel like it will give me the luxury of death any time soon.
Wednesday 19th October 2005
Weather - damp after overnight rain

    In theory I have most of the day mapped out already. At some time after 09:00 I will be whisked away to Cambridge to assist in the setting up of a small wireless network at some student digs. Apparently an "expert" has tried to make it work already, but failed. The "admistrator" of the network is Ivor's daughter, and so Ivor has been called in to see what he can do, and in turn he has called in Iain and myself. Iain has some experience of setting up wireless networking, Ivor actually uses wireless networking at home, and I have experience with NTL broadband service (who are the provider in this case). Between the three of us we ought to be able to do something with it.

 It's a shame the weather looks pretty grim for a day out, but there should be some beer involved along the way, and maybe a sandwich too. I don't know when I'll get home again, but I doubt it will be very late. If it is early enough, and I feel exceptionally keen, I may continue with a project that is doing stuff even now as I type this. It is my new server based upon an old Compaq PC that uses a 486 CPU. I am installing Red Hat Linux 9 on it. It appears to be going smoothly, but I won't know until it has finished formatting the hard disk. I thought it may be prudent to get it to check for bad blocks while it was formatting the disk. This is equivalent to Windows doing both fdisk and format, and, doing scandisk (with full surface scan turned on) at the same time. Naturally it is taking a little time, but I never expected an overnight job. It started over 12 hours ago, but is is getting close to the end. I am very anxious to get to the end of the instalation to see if it successfuly reboot. If I can get over that hurdle then there s hope that it may all work. It will still takes ages to configure it the way I want it.
 I spent yesterday morning in my studio, and then some time uploading the results to a remote file server. The next job was to crack open the PSU out of Iain's Compaq server. It is fairly well laid out, and should be fairly easy to work on aprt from the piles of choking dust in it. Unfortunately my little battery powered vacuum cleaner I use for stuff like this had flat batteries. So I put that on charge and went away to do something else.

 That something was to take some positive steps towards building my server using the old 486 Compaq Deskpro XE 450. The current status of this project I have already described, but as well as building it, and installing the software, I had to do some research to try and find out what I will end up doing, and how to do it. A search on the internet revealed several cookery instructions for the ftp aanmd web servers. I also had to find some instructions on using one or more file/text editors that can be called from the command line. It has to be remembered that the server has no graphical interface and everything will be done from the command line just like working with DOS used to be. I have a slight problem in that I did not select individual packages when I started the installation. So I don't know what editors are actually being installed. One of them is certainly vi. I have printed out a tutorial on using vi I found on the internet. It looks rather scary. Another editor may be emacs. That loks a little easier, but all I need is something like the DOS based edit.com - roughly the DOS equivalent to windows notepad.exe. What I would really prefer to do is to mount the servers file system, or part of it, onto this machine and then I could use kwrite as a text editor. That would make life so easy, but at this point in time I don't know if that will be possible.

 During the course of typing this the formatting continues. I think it is on the last partition. That has moved from 54% to 91% since I started writing this morning. At this rate I will soon know the truth of whether I have successfully installed Red Hat 9 on the old 486 machine, or not. Fingers crossed !
Tuesday 18th October 2005
Weather - cold and dry

     I think I am going to make it ! My next dole money gets paid in on Friday, and I should still have about £15 in my bank account. That should just be enough for some tobacco and to pay the gas bill (I just got a red bill for that so I had better pay it today). Possibly the only fly in the ointment is cat food. It might be a struggle to get that to last until Friday, but I do have £1.30 in loose change - enough for an emegency tin, or two, of cheap cat food.

 The first task for today ought to be what I didn't do yesterday. That is to spend a couple of hours in my studio. After that what I ought to do is to take a look at a very large, very dirty, power supply from a Compaq server. I think there is a fair chance of repairing it. The general rule for switched mode power supplies is that if they just whimper they are repairable, but if they have gone bang then the chances of repairing them without a manual and specialist parts in unlikely. In the case of the Compaq PSU it just whimpers.

 Another project for today is to try and copy a 4GB DVD image from this PC to my video editing PC that has the DVD burner in it. Last night it crashed out after only the first 2GB. This would be one time when I wish I had a 100MB/s  internal network. I doubt it would be 10 times faster, but it would surely be quicker than the current speed and estimated time of 2 hours until completion. It doesn't help that the video editing machine is not normally connected to my network, and is only on a temporary connection using a USB connected network port. The file itself is another operating system that I have downloaded to experiment with. If I finally get the DVD burnt I will be putting a temporary hard drive in the video editing machine and seeing what happens when I try and do an install.
 Yesterday sprung a little surprise on me that totally altered all the plans I had. Iain phoned up mid morning to say he had extracted the dead power supply from the Compaq server we were playing with last Friday. He wondered if I would like a pint in The Ram if he dropped the PSU into me at lunchtime. I readily agreed and that is what we did.

 We actually had two pints. That was sufficient to change the whole afternoon. For a start I visited Tesco's and spent more money than I intended. My original intention was to just buy two bottles of Tesco diet cola, but that escalated into a packet of Cornish Pasties, and some intriguing red pepper and sweet chilli flavout crisps. The crisps were marked new product. The basic flavour was not unknown, but the make of the crisps was something I had not heard of before. They came in small bags in a pack of 6 and were really rather nice. Yes, during the course of the rest of the day I ate all 6 bags !

 In between munching I attempted to upload a 30MB file from my studio machine. It did not want to work, and internet access was very patchy. After many trials and tribulations I finally discovered my home made, extra long, network cable patch lead had an intermittent plug. I think a proper terminating tool for RJ45 plugs will be high on my shopping list when , and if, I ever get any spare cash for luxuries. I repaired the connection by cutting the lead and soldering it to part of a short lead I had cut that had a properly terminated plug on it. It looks a little unsightly, but it should be fairly reliable. It took a long time, but I finally got my file successfully uploaded.

 I felt a little hot and bothered once I had done that. So I settled down to watch some TV and generally acted like a couch potato. For the next few hours I pottered about a bit. I investigated a printyer that had come with my new laptop. It was a HP430, and I was surprised when eventually I found that it had a battery in it to power it while on the road. The battery was totally flat, but readily took a charge and I was able to put the printer through it's test routine. Unfortunately the ink cartridge was empty so I never saw and print come out. Surprisingly the cartridge is made of transparent plastic, and it was easy to confirm that it really was bone dry inside. I may make an attempt at refilling it today.

 I went to bed at around 22:00 and, once again, used the new laptop as a very sophisticated mp3 player to listen to some music while I read in bed. I was not so disciplined last night as I read until 01:00 this morning so that I could reach the end of the story.
Monday 17th October 2005
Weather - cool and rather grey

   I have finished doing stuff to the new laptop so I can concentrate on other stuff today. As yet I have no specific plans for what that other stuff may be, but it includes spending some time in my workshop, some time in my studio, or making a start on getting my Linux powered ftp server built. If I go into my workshop I could be looking at a DVD player with no sound from the speaker outputs, or I could be attempting to make a long RJ45 patch cable, and as a final option I could be mutilating laptop batteries ! It is even possible I could do all three. I think I really ought to aim to spend about two hours in my studio, probably this afternoon. That leaves the Linux based ftp server to contemplate. That rather scares me. The learning curve will be very steep as it will probably be a text based install, and after that all the configuration will have to be done in text mode. For the first time I am going to have to come to grips with command line operations. I know, and use a few simple ones quite often, but this will be taking things to new height. It would be a super A+ ego trip if it all works, but I suspect that I will have to ask Steve to ssh (secure shell) into it and sort out the mess. I just hope the man (manual) pages make some sense when I am forced to read them to guide me through some of the process.
 Yesterday I put the finishing touches (all bar the battery problem) to the new laptop. Once again I spent hours on it doing things like cleaning and editing the Windows registry. That has speeded up the start up time a little, but I also got rid of most references to AOL that had once been installed on it. Those who know what it means might be amused to know that Internet Explorer now says "Internet Explorer Provided by RFL" A complete disk defragmentation has also helped a bit. It took several hours to complete, but it got there in the end. It is not the fastest machine in the world, but it now starts reasonably smoothly, and it can connect to the internet and play internet radio stations. It will even play a video disk at almost the correct frame rate. I estimate it can manage at least 20 frames per second, so a PAL recording (at 25 frames per second) is almost, but not quite smooth. Overall it is now a useable machine. It's just a shame that with no battery power it is probably doomed to spend it's life in my bedroom as a rather over sophisticated mp3 player, although I may find a place for it in my studio as a playback machine.

 I t was in my studio that I spent from late afternoon until mid evening. I was pretty hungry by the time I finished. My previous meal had been a rather late breakfast some 10, or more, hours earlier. I had a strong yearning for a full Sunday roast yesterday. Maybe some roast lamb, roast potatoes,and some roast parsnips. All smothered in really vinegary mint sauce (just the way you are not supposed to make mint sauce). However my financial state does not extend to such luxuries these days.

 Having more or less finished in my studio I came down and cooked some tuna and pasta, and had a surf around the TV channels. There was very little on. In fact the best I could find was Michael Palin in the Himalayas. As such that was not bad, but it wasn't the sort of entertainment I wanted. By 22:00 I went to bed to do some reading. First I loaded the laptop with some mp3's and put it to it's first actual use - playing msic while I read in bed. I turned out the light and was asleep soon after 23:00.
Sunday 16th October 2005
Weather - bright and sunny

    I fed the cats at about 07:00 and went back to bed. Since than I have managed to get a couple more hours sleep. So do I feel better for it ?  I'm not sure. I think I feel a little disorientated than yesterday so I may tackle a few hours in my studio later this afternoon. For this morning I still have a few PC related things I want to do. Chiefly this will be wrapping up the new laptop. It is now running Windows 98SE fairly well, and that is about the most sophisticated thing it will run. My task for this morning is to load some extra software onto it and evaluated how it copes. I may also consider what to do about the battery in it. It appears to be beyond redemption, but I still have a sneaky suspicion that the cells in it may still be OK, and that it is a problem with the charging circuitry that is to blame. I'll probably end up on the internet for the rest of the morning looking for more information about it.
 Yesterday was a bit of a blurry day. I felt tired, but not sleepy, and my brain seemed very fuzzy, but still curious. I spent hours and hours experimenting with the laptop. I had two spare hard disks that I did some experiments with. One a 2GB drive I managed to get a working copy of Corel Linux on. It was slow, the text looked terrible, and the sound wouldn't work. On a larger hard disk, 20MB, I eventually got a working copy of Mandrake Linux 9.2 to work. It too was painfully slow, even when using IceWM as a desktop (which has far few overheads than KDE). One good aspect of Mandrake, and is usually true of Linux generally, is that it ignores what the BIOS tells it and can see the full size of the hard disk. The BIOS could only see the drive as a 8.45GB drive, yet Linux saw it for it's full size. I may have persevered with Mandrake, but I couldn't get the sound configuration application to run. I know the exact information for the sound chip as it is listed in the BIOS screen, as such it should have been easy to get it running, but I never got the chance. I guess it is just a legacy of only 32MB of ram.

 I am sure I spent almost the whole day playing with software on that laptop, but I did spend a little time writing a few short e-mails, eating, and generally lazing around. However I did spent just a little time looking into the battery for the laptop. I cracked it open and took a few measurements. It seems as if the cells themselves are charged. I measured roughly the right voltage across them, and yet no voltage was coming out of the connector to the laptop itself. This makes me think that there could be a fault in the complex electronics inside that battery pack that are always associated with Lithium Ion cells. What I don't know is if there is supposed to be an external signal that turns on the output. I find myself with several options now. Some are brutal, some are foolhardy, but as it stands I cannot use the laptop on battery power, and I doubt I would find a new battery very easily, and even if I could it would not be economical, and I certainly could not afford it. There is also the nagging doubt that it is the laptop itself that is telling the battery to misbehave. So when I am feeling brave I will attempt to bypass several things and see if anything happens.

 I went to bed at around 22:00 last night. It had felt like a very long day, but I still read until 23:00 as a form of relaxation. I was asleep very soon after that !
Saturday 15th October 2005
Weather - slightly overcast, but mild

    So much to write, yet so sleepy ! Yesterday finished at 04:30 this morning, but I didn't get to sleep until 05:00, or possibly later.

Today I am not really aiming to do anything much, but I am sure that curiosity will get the better of me and I'll be playing witha laptop, or trying to install Linux on an old box to run a web, and/or an ftp server. This afternoon may find me in my studio, but more likely I will be snoozing.
 Yesterday was fun, but my own curiosity, or stupidness led me to have a very long day. I was awake for close on 24 hours. It all started when Iain picked me up to take me to play with his servers at about 07:00.

 The first server, a huge and heavy ancient Compaq turned out to probably have a power supply problem. It took a fair amount of time to clean all the thick layers of dust out of it. Originally, when it had been abandonded it was supposed to be making a bleeping noise when turned on, and not doing anything else at all. Yesterday it was not quite dead, but close to it. It would briefly power up for one second and then die again (with no bleeping). It would then do the same cycle every 30 - 60 seconds. It felt like a power supply fault to me, but it could have been something else. Maybe someone with more experience on these beasts would have been able to make a more positive suggestion.

 With no joy there we turned to another server that was almost in kit form. That fired up OK, but it only had some basic disk space sufficient for the operating system (4GB). As an experiment we fed power to the disk array in the old Compaq from the "new" server and connected up the data cables to the new servers disk controller card. After some experimenting with a very unfamilar disk configuration menu we managed to get the Compaq disk array working on the new server, and that gave us a "whopping" 12GB extra space. It's a lash up that will have to be mechanically rebuilt somehow, or abandoned. I have a malicious hope that Iain decides to scrap the Compaq (except for the drive cage with the 4 fast SCSI disks in it). If he does I have laid claim to some of the memory in it. It appeares to use the fabled 5V dimms that I need to get a Umax Mac Power PC clone into a usable state. I have a suspicion that they are quite small memory modules, maybe just 8MB. It is a pretty old server. The single processor (it can take two) is a Socket 8 Pentium Pro (either 150 or 200MHz.  They predate Windows 95. So the machine is probably at least 10 years old, and more likely 12 or 13.

 At the end of the day I was given a present of an old laptop. I din't get a chance to find out anything about it until I got home again after several hours drinking in The Herne. I'm not sure what time that was, but it was very late evening - say 21:00. Once I got some food underway I was gripped by curiosity. It turns out to be a 10 year old NEC Versa 6030X. It uses a P133 processor and is equipped with a grand total of 16MB of ram.That makes the processor slightly faster than my IBM laptop, but that has 40MB of ram. The big plus point is that it has a CD drive in it. The huge minus point is that the battery appears to be totally dead (if I am very, very, very lucky I may be able to shock it back to life). It had a reputation of being incredibly slow. The reason is that it is forever disk caching to make up the shortfall in the memory. This has been made worse by all the anti virus, and other blockers, that have been added to try and cure the problem. It has Windows 98 installed. I think that it is a little too much for just 16MB of ram. I tried a new hard disk and installed Windows 95 on it. That made a lot of difference. It is now far livelier, but unfortunately this took some time, and even longer to find the correct graphics driver and work out the weird way it is installed. By 04:30 I had a fully working high resolution desktop with sound and network access with Internet Explorer 5. At that point I finally switched off and went to bed. I was past tired by then, plus my brain was still considering option, and I did not fall asleep until 05:00, or maybe even later. So I had been up, playing with computers (and doing a bit of drinking) for close on 24 hours non stop. So what am I doing up now ? I don't know. I woke up later than normal at around 08:00 and fed the cats. Then I went back to bed but could not get back to sleep properly. At some time this afternoon I will probably crash !
Friday 14th October 2005
Weather - still damp and cool

   I have very little time to write this morning as I could be picked up in as little as an hours time to go and play with an old server, and maybe get a pint or two in at lunchtime.
 Despite anything I may have predicted for yesterday, I was stuck behind a PC (or three) all day. I tracked down some software to use as an ftp server, and http server, on my old Apple Mac. First I had to do a fresh install of the operating sytem to keep things tidy and neat, and then battle to get the Mac connected to my internal network. I don't know how I did it in the end, but I got there. Then I installed the ftp and http server programs, and tried to work out how to set them up. In fact they didn't need setting up at all. They just sort of worked, but in a slightly weird way.

The ftp server was so very minimalist. It has a folder to drop files in you want to make available, and (in effect) a go button to start the server. It doesn't accept uploads, and there are no levels of access. It is all just guest login. In fact I think it will accept any form of user name and password. My next ftp server will be a little less forgiving.

I left the servers running overnight, and a few guests managed to access them. At some point the server crashed, and I found the machine totally locked up this morning. Such are the problems with Mac OS7.5 ! Another day I will try for a Linux based server as I am confident that will run for months, if not years, with no problems.
Thursday 13th October 2005
Weather - damp and soggy

   Today sees the start of my reduced mobile phone tariff. To save money I should now be on Talk 25. This gives me just 25 minutes of free talktime a month, and 25 free text messages. Be staying on my contract with O2, and not trading in my chance for a phone upgrade I have been credited with enough money to pay for Talk 25 for the next 12 months. In other words my mobile phone bill should be zero provided I keep to under 25 minutes a month. To be on the safe side I made sure I did not use the mobile for more than a minute yesterday. Basically I will give up making calls on that mobile. I was going to go for complete disconnection and use my pay-as-you-go T-Mobile  phone for any important calls. Keeping the O2 account open does mean that the mobile number on my C.V. remains valid.

 I am not sure how today will turn out. I am tempted to do some more computer stuff. I am very close to the point where I could have a toy web server running, but I have spent a lot of time recently stuck behind this, and other, PC screens. I may take a break and spend an hour or two in my workshop, and maybe a few hours in my studio. Meanwhile there is a beige box in the cupboard calling to me . . . .

 Here's some advanced warning about tomorrow. I may go out and play tomorrow. It won't be a money making exercise, but I could get offered a beer or two. If it happens I will be out very early and may not have the time to sit here waffling away as usual.
 It feels I spent most of yesterday behind a PC screen. That is not strictly accurate, but close. Through the day I made small modificaations to the configuration of my Firewall with the assistance of Steve (thanks Steve). I also took a look at possibilities to build a little web server to hang of the fabled ORANGE port on my firewall. The machine I was considering using, an old 486, I decided against, at least for the time being. To make my new firewall I stole the network card out of it, and I haven't got a spare unless I take one out of the old firewall. I thought it might be prudent to keep the old firewall together for a couple of days in case anything goes wrong with the new firewall. Another, slightly silly, reason for not using my first choice of machine is that it has a built in sound card. I am sure that I should be able to find another use for that, but I have to admit I have no idea what that use could be at this point in time. The obvious machine to use would be the old firewall itself. It is a pretty beaten up old piece of junk, and it has proved it can run for months on end without breaking down. (It had been running for 77 days when I finally turned it off - it may have been 77 days ago that I got my broadband connection). I have two other choices. One is an old Packard Bell PC, but I think I had trouble trying to install Linux on it once. The last choice, but one that might be my first choice on an experimental basis, is something else. It is old, it may already have a "personal web server" set up on it with some of my old website on it, and it doesn't run on Intel architecture at all. It is an old Mac. It is big and heavy. Has a noisy cooling fan, and only has limited storage capacity (although more than enough for a web site 10 times as big as mine). It would also be slightly immune to attacks by the nasties out on the web because of it's comparitive obscurity (I wonder if today's "script kiddies" even know of the existance of Mac OS 8). All my other machines will still be protected even if someone does something nasty to it, but I will take a certain amount of care as I don't want it to end up as a spam remailer or something.

 That more or less sums up yesterday. I did do other things in small quantities, but nothing worth while recording, or even trying to remember.
Wednesday 12th October 2005
Weather - mild

    I have no specific plans for today. There is a little housework stuff to do, like emptying Nelly's litter tray, but I will be making the rest up as I go along. I was brought a DVD player with internal surround sound amplifiers to look at. Apparently there is no sound from the speakers. I am not sure if I can do any repair to it without a manual, but I may give it a once over to see what is happening.

 Another possibility for today, if I want to give myself a headache, is to build a server of some kind - probably an Apache web server. There is no priority for this as it will be purely an experiment. I  do find the prospect a little daunting because the PC it may be built around is probably too low end to support any graphical interface - certainly not anything heavy like KDE, but it may just manage something like fwm95. The idea of doing a complete installation and configuration is rather scary. I may have been using Linux for quite a few years, but it is very rare, very rare indeed, for me to "get my hands dirty" and fiddle about on the command line. I think that Apache can be remotely configured from a web browser once enough of it is up and running, but it is still rather daunting.

 This whole idea of a server stems from work I did yesterday. . . .
 Yesterday was an educational sort of day. I spent the morning mainly bumbling around, but I did tryout some open source software called Dorgem to serve pictures from my "web cam" out onto the world wide web. It is not really a web cam, but can function as such. Specifically it is a Digital Dream L'Espion camera. http://www.paramountzone.com/espion.htm To do this I had to open up a port on my firewall, for the first time. So this was educational, and also got me thinking.

The software I use for the firewall (http://www.smoothwall.org) allows for the box to have three ports. One is the dirty outside world, the other is the nice clean inside world, while the third is a sort of halway house allowing limited outside access to a server. Ever since I got my broadband connection I have wanted to upgrade my firewall. It was running on the barest minimum of memory and hard disk space. I felt it was becoming a bottleneck to my data flow. To do the upgrade I was given an old Compaq PC some time ago, but it has been gathering dust until yesterday.

 The Compaq Deskpro 575 has a 60MHz Pentium Processor, and mine was fitted with 96MB of ram. It would never run Windows XP, but is perfect for my firewall. It needed a small hard drive, and just while I was installing the software, a CD ROM drive as well. I just hung the latter over the side of the box until installation was complete. It has an on board network connection, and I added two more network cards. One was a PCI card in it's single, solitary PCI slot, and the other was a plug and play ISA card. One of those cards is configured for use as my orange port. As yet it is unused, but it is there for when I want it.

 Installation of the software is a doddle, and having done it a few times in the past, the configuration is very easy as well. Where I came unstuck was in connecting it to my cable TV modem connection. Each new connection has to be registered in the modem, and I had forgot that it will only do that by switching the modem off, and then on again. After a lot of useless messing around I finally remembered what I was supposed to be doing, and it all started to work.

 The new firewall box is now installed and working just fine. It feels like things happen faster now, although I don't think I have gained any upload, or download, speed.
Tuesday 11th October 2005
Weather - overcast but mild

   I have several thing to do today. One of the first is to phone an agency up who claim they may have a job for me. This is probably one of those jobs that is located somewhere beyond the Outer Hebrides (humph !). Another thing is to re-install the software for my "web cam" (actualy a digital camera with added facilities) to try some experiments on, or maybe through, my firewall. Finally there is always the chance that I might make a start at building my new firewall with added orange port ! At some point everything will come to a halt when a visitor arrives. He may bring an amplifier for me to look at. "It must be something simple as I turned it on one morning and it didn't work". "Oh yeah, that's bound to be simple !!". Maybe I could make a couple of quid if I can fix it, but I think it will only be a social call.
 Yesterday morning I bumbled around not doing much for a few hours, but after reading an e-mail I became inspired to investigate the possibilities of occasionally streaming some ogg encoded audio. Unfortunately I had a very mild headache, and to make matters worse the PC I was to begin my inverstigation was had sunshine pouring in the window behind it. Attemting to unravel complex configuration files while being slightly dazzled just made my headache worse so I gave up. I went away and did some quiet reading. A few hours later the sun had passed the dazzle point and my headache had subsided, but I decided that I was in the mood to do some stuff in my studio.

 Several hours later I had finished what I was doing and had saved the audio in high and low bit rate mp3, and a fairly low bit rate ogg file. I first tried encoding stuff in ogg format several years ago, but still I am amazed at the audio quality that can be achieved on far lower bit rates than mp3.My file has a low enough bit rate that it could just about be streamed through a very good 56K dial up internet connection. Yet it still sounds nice and bright. Using mp3 it would probably need to be a mono recording and still sound rather flat and squelchy for a similar bit rate.

 I spent the evening cooking, eating, watching TV and reading while supervising the uploading of my files to various ftp sites. Eventually I found my way into bed and did some more reading. By 23:00 I was feeling sleepy, but I was near the end of the book so I carried on. I finished the book, with my eyes now wedged open with matchsticks, at 00:30. I fell asleep almost instantly after that.
Monday 10th October 2005
Weather - clear and cold

  I got up and fed the animals at 05:30, but went back to bed again after I remembered I had been up reading until 01:00.

 If today is like yesterday it would be a good day to go for a walk. For most of yesterday the sky was mostly clear, and although the air was fairly cool, it felt quite warm in the sun. Unfortunately there are not that many interesting places to walk to around here. I could go for a spin around the park, but that doesn't feel very attractive at the moment. So I will potter around and see if I can psych myself up to do some good work in my studio. Failing that there is project I have been putting off for a long while. That is building a new, and improved, firewall. It could be argued that this really ought to be a priority.  My old firewall is working well, but it has insufficient memory to be able to install the latest security updates on it. Besides which I have an idea I want to add an extra port for a server that is accessible from the outside world.
 Yesterday was quite safisfying. The weather was beautiful, although perhaps a little cool, and I took a very pleasant stroll to do some shopping in Tesco at 10:00, their opening time on a Sunday. By very careful shopping I was able to fill 4 very heavy carrier bags for just £14.67. Although when you consider that one bag contained a heavy pack of cat litter, another a couple of  2 litre bottles of diet cola, and a third had a six pack of tins of catfood (and a few other bits), it is not surprising it should all weigh so much. In amongst that lot there were few of any semi luxury items. Perhaps the scotch eggs from the reduced price counter (51p) were unnecessary, and maybe the bag of balti peanuts (from the ethnic counter rather than the high priced snack counter) were 69p more than I should have spent, but overall I consider it was a very economical shopping trip.

 While I was out shopping I left some breakfast cooking in the oven. It was one of my favourite indulgences for a Sunday morning (Sunday being one day when I am more likely to have breakfast than any other day) - grilled bacon and tomatoes. I ate that after unpacking the shopping and changing back to my indoor trousers. I then had a look through the local paper that had only been delivered rather late that same morning. As usual there were no jobs in there that I would like to do, and no jobs where I would stand even the tiniest chance of getting an interview. However I did find an advert fby a school looking for a Spanish speaker to help prepare pupils for Spanish conversation exams. The pay was not bad at an hourly rate, although the hours per week were not specified, and it was almost certainly a term time only job. I scanned the advert and forwarded it to Patricia for her consideration.

 Finally I got in the right mood to spend some time in my studio. In fact it was quite a long time with my first break happily coinciding with a brand new episode of The Simpsons on Sky 1. It wasn't a terribly good episode, but at least it was something new. After that it was back to the studio for the more tedious audio processing and uploading. During the waits for something to happen I did some reading. It appears that the latest software from Live 365 may have a bug in it. It uploads a file OK, but never thinks it has completed it. So I was kept waiting for ages while nothing happened. Eventually I gave up on that and did a direct upload from the web page. That worked, and by 21:00 I was able to shut down upstairs and come down here to finish off some emails etc. I'm not sure when I went to bed, but I was reading in bed until 01:00 before falling asleep rather rapidly.
Sunday 9th October 2005
Weather - bright sky, very cold

    The first thing on the agenda today is to do the laundry that I would normally have done yesterday. Then I think I ought to go out and buy some cat litter, and probably a few other essentials as well. Once these minor chores are out of the way I must settle down and do some stuff in my studio.
 After I had written my diary for yesterday I went back to bed for what was meant to be a quick snooze, but turned out to be another couple of hours of sleep. I woke up at around 09:00 from a fairly rare type of dream. It was a pan-temporal dream. OK I made that up, but it could be correct. It was a dream that had things (or people) from different time periods all appearing together. It appeared to be set in my Uncles house sometime in the early 1960's. Although I did not interact with anyone from that time, I did see several people I knew as a sort of background. Ivor, looking like his modern day self, appeared to be ripping DVD's onto an Apple Mac. The Mac itself was a bit anachronistic in that it was similar to, but maybe not exactly like, an Apple iMac. From the speed it appeared to be ripping the DVD's it must have had a 10GHz processor (or three) in it. The only major interaction I can remember having with any of the characters was with Pam who appeared as I remember from about 1980. (I think you sometimes read this Pam, so apologies for the rest of the dream). Pam was going out so I beckoned her over to give me a hug before she went. It turned into quite a passionate embrace with an effect I can only describe as melting. This is similar to when you pick up a cold cat and it is initially a bit tense until it feels the warmth and relaxes as you stroke it. So there was Pam utterly relaxed while I tickled the hairs on the back of her neck (or maybe I was feeling the hairs rise on the back of her neck). It is perhaps fortunate that I woke up then, before I had the chance of further embarrassing us both.

 Having got up again I phoned my bank to defer my next standing order to Tesco for my Tesco Club Card Plus. That should prevent any nasty bank charges creeping up on me unawares. Unfortunately it also means that I have no ring fenced money available for food and tobacco when my bank account runs dry ( I hope I have about £60 for the next fortnight). I have enough stocks of pasta and rice to keep me from going hungry for a fortnight, but it will be pretty boring. My main worry is tobacco (OK, I am terrified I will run out before my next dole payment comes in).

 The rest of the day was a bit of a mixture. I kept being drawn to the TV where UK Gold where doing a tribute to the late Ronnie Barker. I would rate "Porridge" as one of my all time favourite comedies, and "Going Straight" as being pretty good as well.  Between bouts of TV watching I spent a long time composing along e-mail to Patricia. The process was even longer than usual because I was also searching the internet for possible jobs for her. I found quite a few, but just like she did for me when I was her pupil on the PDC course last year, I am sure that most of what I found would actually be unsuitable for one reason or another (she kept pointing out jobs for me that were either for heavy electrical engineering, or were for jobs that needed driving skills). Eventually she came to realise the sort of stuff I was really after, and the areas I thought feasible to travel to. I also had a look for jobs for me. I have applied for two jobs that I am sure will be unsuitable for one reason or another. One was advertised by an agency as being in London, but the companies web site suggested they were located in Cambridge. Even if turns out they are in London it is bound to be somewhere on the North Western fringes where I cannot possibly commute to. I think the other one was advertised as being in Surrey. If that is on the fringes of Croydon it may have possibilities, but I suspect it is on the Surrey - Sussex borders, and almost unreachable.

 During the aternoon Jodie came over to use the studio. She was here for quite some time, and I was getting hungry before she left. She did bring a pizza with her that I ate half of, but that was just a small late lunchtime snack. I had been looking forward to cooking a home made chicken curry, but I did not want to offend Jodie with the smells of cooking garlic and onions. So I waited and waited until she left at about 20:00. Once she had gone I started cooking. The results were disappointing. I cooked the rice in a small saucepan, one I don't think I have used for rice before. I totally misjudged the rice/water ration and ended up with slightly soggy rice. The curry was not too great either. That was a bit water logged as well. Perhaps the worst bit was that the curry powder which smelled so nice before cooking seemed very bland after cooking. I put the curry powder in very late so maybe it needed more cooking to bring out the flavour. Despite not being that great it was still enjoyable, but not a patch on an unaffordable real take away.

 It had been my intention to get an early night, but I needed a little time for the curry to settle. So I started flicking around the TV channels. Surprisingly there were a few things on that were interesting. I ended up watching "An Audience With Peter Ustinov" on ITV 3, but kept channel surfing whenever an advert break came on. Eventually I got intrigued by the "Test The Nation" going on on BBC 1. I sometimes kid myself that I am fairly good at English, but I fear I would not have done too well had I attempted to answer many of the questions set during that programme. I would definitely have come unstuck on the comprehension tests because they were all verbal. In my estimation they were not comprehension tests but memory tests. My short term memory can be quite bad in such circumstances.It is comforting to know that in the English test set by the Greenwich Programme Centre, that I attended at the begiining of the year, I scored 98%. It was a test to weed out those who might be having trouble applying for jobs because their reading and writing skills were not adequate. I am of the opinion that it was set at about the 11+ level. So my achievement actually means very little, although I was led to believe that the average was only around 70%.. I would ike to point out that this diary does not really reflect my English skills. It is banged out as fast as I can type, and only gets a quick glance over every few sentences. Plus I blame my keyboard for any instances you find of double "A"'s . The "A" key has a nasty habit of bouncing sometimes.
Saturday 8th October 2005
Weather - cold and dark

   Another day, another dollar (less). This morning I will be up in my studio, but later in the afternoon it will be occupied by Jodie. One thing of vital importance today is to ring up my bank and get my standing order to Tesco's changed or cancelled for the month. It is due out on Monday and it will not let me change it over the internet.
 Yesterday started well. My dole was paid in so I was able to go to Tesco and stock up on food. In some cases I bought enough to last for the next fortnight, but there are still a few things I will need to get in the interim. As a consequence of my shopping I was able to have a good feed yesterday. It may not be good for my physical health, but it certainly helped my mental health. For a little while I forgot all my financial troubles and concentrated on enjoying the food.

 Later in the morning I spent several hours ripping CD's. By and large they were all dreadful CD's, freebies in the main, that I will get rid of one day. Somehow I doubt that CD's of practically unheard of bands are worth much at all, but all together they may be worth a fiver or something. The most important thing was to gather them together so they can be locked away in a dark cupboard away from my preferred collection, and leave that preferred collection uncluttered with junk.

 In the afternoon, quite late in the afternoon, Jodie came over to use the studio so my ripping had to stop. She brought with her some tomatoes, and apples, that were surplus from her dad's garden. The last tomatoes I had from there were very nice, and the apples she brought yesterday were delicious (or at least the one I tried was).

 In the evening I did a little more ripping and trawled through the TV channels looking for entertainment. All I really found was some episodes of The Simpsons to watch.  So I pottered around getting philosphical before going to bed to do some reading at around 22:00.

 Most of my philosophical musings were considering the fact that perhaps 50% of my male friends and colleagues are single like me, and wondering why. With perhaps one exception, we all have lusted, and continue to lust, after certain women. So there is no lack of desire there. That leaves a whole bunch of negatives that we may all be suffering from in one degree or another. Lack of : passion, commitment, opportunity, nerve, beauty, wealth, transport, faith (in the future rather than anything to do with religion), trust, dancing skills (or the desire of them), etc. Select any random three of them and it probaby describes one of us. Of course there is one other reason - someone else got there first. Most of those potential negative attributes are changeable given the right circumstances. And perhaps that leads to the crux of the problem. The assumption that the change will be made after meeting the right woman. We probably all know, and have experienced, that it can happen like that, but in reality that is putting the cart before the horse. So what changes ? Probably very little. The answer to a problem may not always be the solution to a problem.
Friday 7th October 2005
Weather - cold and dark

   The only thing to do today is a little shopping. There were plans to go to The Herne for a drink late afternoon, but I have to cancel that now as once again I am  totally skint. My dole was paid today and I have approx £30 left over after my bills are paid. That has to last for the next fortnight. So all entertainment is off for the next fortnight. My next dole payment will be on the 21st. After that I may be able to afford something, but I'll have to try and conserve most of that for some bill payments on the 4th of November. In theory things could get better after November. Provided I keep my mobile phone calls to a minimum (max 25 minutes of air time a month) I shouldn't have to worry about any charges at all for the phone. Also my direct debits to the water board end for the year sometime in Novemeber or December. I still think it is going to be a long cold winter.
 Yesterday got off to a crushing blow. I suspected it might be coming, but it was still very depressing to get a letter from the bank with my overdraft charges on it. The two extra deposits into my bank account, the ones that I was hoping would give me some freedom, and that I had already started to spend, have been wiped out by bank charges. That left me feeling a little pissed off. In consequence I did very little yesterday.
Thursday 6th October 2005
Weather - dull and grey

   It looks like I have got up really late, but this is not the case. I got up soon after 07.00 and have lots of stuff since. I've sent e-mails, started a file transfer session, washed and dressed, fed the cats, and put some laundry into the washing machine. I feel quite exhausted now ! That is only a mild exageration. I did not get to sleep until gone 02.00, and the woke a few times in the night. So I am a little lacking in sleep at the moment.

   I have no particular plans for today beyond having a few more e-mails to write. After that I may well end up doing something in my studio unless Jodie wants to use it today. She did mention that she might want to use it towards the end of the week, but was so vague about it I have no idea if it will be today, tomorrow or next week.
 Yesterday started off in a strange way. I paid two visits the Job Centre on Patricia's behalf. That could even be three trips if you count that the first visit was to the wrong branch (I was after a particular advisor). On the first visit I found that the place was not open on time because they were short staffed (lateness !). I hung around until it did open, but by then there was quite a crowd eager to sign on. So I went home again and left it for 2 hours. It was sort of weird going in there as an ordinary member of the public instead of as an "inmate". Anyway I got the information Patricia wanted and e-mailed it off to her.

 The next job was to do the complete re-install of Xandros on my spare PC. That went very smoothly, and all the updates and extra programs installed correctly. I can now put that PC back into storage until I feel the need for some more mad experimenting.

 During the afternoon I did some reading. After a while I began to feel quite chilly, and almosy shivery. So as I was already lying on my bed (for that more relaxed reading pose) I decided to get under the duvet. In a short while I had warmed up and fell asleep for an hour, maybe more.

 Nothing more significant happened until it was time to go to the pub. I had some nice booze there, and Iain returned a pile of my DVD's he had borrowed some time ago.  (I might waste some time this afternoon re-watching one of them).

 When I came home again I watched The Bill on ITV 3 before going to bed. Despite the booze I found myself wide awake. This is odd as booze normally makes me very sleepy.My brain had got stuck in a loop and refused to relinguish it until gone 02.00. Even then I only slept for an hour before waking up again. At that point I almost decided to get up again and come down here to see what was happening on the internet. Fortunately, after a pee and a fag, I was able to get back to sleep again. I think I woke up at least once more for a brief period of time before finally getting up at 07.00.
Wednesday 5th October 2005
Weather - dull cold start

   One of the first things I must do today is to wash my hair. For some reason I have not bothered to do it for the last couple of days. This can't go on. It feels awful !

 At the end of the day there should be some drinking to be done in The Ram. Now all I have to do is to fill in the spaces in between. I do have one task to do this morning. That is to either go to the Job Centre, or to phone up their job enquiry point, to ask about three jobs listed on their website. Strangely enough these are not jobs for me, but for Patricia. At least two of them will require her to be UK based, and one of them London based. So I will do my best to help her get one of these jobs. It would be nice if she were back in London.

 Another little diversion for today is to re-install Xandros on my spare PC number 2. This was the PC that I had been experimenting with BeOs on. That experiment was on another hard disk leaving the disks with Xandros installed on them untouched, but yesterday I tried an upgrade to the deluxe version of Xandros. For some reason it corrupted the /home partition. Luckily there was nothing of any significance on it. I think this may have happened because I might have set the disk in the BIOS to "Large" instead of "LBA". It is not easy to tell with hindsight. So I am doing a 100% fresh installation.
 I'm trying to think what happened yesterday. I rememeber the evening quite well, but not so much of the day.  Of course the day was dominated by having to sign on at 15:30. Prior to that I did some job searches, and got my paperwork up to date. When I did sign on I found that I do not have to sign on again for another month, and when I do the location of the Job Centre will have changed. It is now located in the old DHSS building on the opposite side of the main road, and is an extra 1 minutes walk away. This is terrible ! It already takes me 5 minutes to walk to the old Job Centre.

 In the evening I decided to re-install Xandros on my spare PC number 2 (300MHz Pentium II-MMX). Like all previous experiences of installing Xandros it was as easy as pie. What I didn't bargain for was that the disk partitioning went wrong somehow. I didn't learn this until later when I found accessing the home partition took about 2 minutes. Worse than that, it showed 2Gb of used space, but no files. I think it may have been beause I changed some of the disk parameters in the BIOS by accident. I didn't learn any of this until after I had then did a complete online upgrade to the latest versions of all the packages. That took absolutely ages. I started it possibly as early as 19:00, and it did not finish until just gone midnight. I had been hoping for an early night, but that never happened. As I type this right now, Xandros is doing a new installation having just reformatted both disks. It should work this time ! Maybe even the online upgrade will go a little faster (last night did generate a lot of unusual error messages during the upgrade).
Tuesday 4th October 2005
Weather - rather cold and grey

  The one thing that dominates today is that I have to go to The Job Centre to sign on at 15:30. So one job for this morning it to have another check out of available jobs. I then print a few possible leads off just to show the Job Centre staff that I really am looking for work. Of course I am really looking for work with some desperation, but it is not always easy to convince that I can find nothing that I really want to do. So all I can do is find similar things, usualy stuff I would like to be able to do, and even could do with the right encouragement, and show them those printouts.

 Another thing to do this morning is to worry about whether Ivor's payment into my bank account made it in time to pay my NTL bill this morning. If it didn't then the cheque I posted yesterday will just be swallowed up in bank charges. That will be a shame because it was the one amount of money that would have given me a little freedom this month.
 Yesterday got off to a fine start, and then sort of dwindled. The first thing I did was to rush to get to The Post Office before 09:00. I don't know why I bothered. The queue was already aabout a hundred yards long. So I gave up trying to pay my cheque directly into the Post Office and posted it to the bank instead. It probably only delays the money becoming available by a day, but I still do not know whether it is possible to pay cheques in directly.

 I came home again and tackled the radio recording I was supposed to make. The first thing was to see if I could unpack the ACE archived file I had downloaded from th radio stations ftp server. It contained guidlines and jingles. I did find an old copy of WinAce that i installed on my PC, but it was not new enough to unpack that archive. So I downloaded a trial version of the latest version of WinAce and that unpacked the archive OK. Generally speaking the jingles sounded crap, and the advert breaks (every 15 minutes !) sounded really tedious. Next I had to open the audio files in Cool Edit to equalise the levels of the different files. Then I had to burn them to CD, and from CD copy them to Mini Disk. The tedium didn't end there because I then named each track on the Mini Disk so I would know what I was playing. Finally I could sit down to record the radio programme. I think I played some excellent music, but the rest did not come out as smoothly as I would want. It is difficult to raise enthusiasm for a radio station you have not heard before, and cannot even hear now because I don't have a Sky Digibox. Not only that but the jingles sounded crap, and the ad breaks every 15 minutes really disrupted the flow.

 I was just tidying up after recording when I got a call from Iain. He and Ivor, in a rather bizzare move, were heading to The Ram to have their lunch. They wondered if I would like to join them. I was actually about to have my breakfast, but I replied "if you're buying, I'm coming !". So I finished what I was doing and headed to the pub for 2 pints of Stella Artois. Being on home ground I did not have to fight the effects of the alcohol and I came out the pub ever so slightly tipsy. With my will power weakend I decided to spend some of my last available cash so In went into Tesco. There were really just two things I wanted. One was a cheap six pack of catfood, and the other was a couple of bottles of Tesco Diet Cola. I ended up buying a couple of packets of "value" peanuts, and a bar of "value" plain chocolate (21p + 21p and 50p respectively) as well. I now have just about £1.43 to my name (and all of that in small change) !

 I got in and slumped in front of the TV expecting to be entertained, but it was all rubbish. Neverthe less I sat there inanely watching some crap while scoffing peanuts and eating chocolate. That just about put a damper on the rest of the day. I found I was not motivated to do anything else. At one point I lay down on the spare bed and did some reading, but I fell asleep and woke up shivering. TV in the evening was not terribly exciting either. So I first tried surfing the seedier side of the internet, but gave up on that too and went to bed and read until 01.00.
Monday 3rd October 2005
Weather - grey sky

    It occurs to me that the reason why the sky may be so grey this morning is that it is earlier than I thought it was. I was intending to get up at around 08.00, but it seems I have woken up earlier than that. Maybe as the morning progresses the sky will lighten up, and maybe the sun will break through. Of course it is possible that it will pour with rain today.

 I think I will have another go at paying in a cheque to my bank account at the Post Office this morning. I am worried that the money Ivor transferred into my account will not be credited before a debit is due tomorrow. I am sure that a cheque paid directly into my account today will not clear in time, but at least I will have tried. I suppose I ought to aim to be cueing up outside the Post Office before 09.00 (when I guess they open).

 Today I will definitely spend some time in my studio. I downloaded all the stuff I need for the radio show I have been asked to make. Listening to the stuff I downloaded does not give me any greater enthusiasm for recording this show. I was not very enthusiastic when I was first talked into it, and the jingles and adverts depress me further. It would help, but not much, if I was being paid to do it. There is certain information, and most of the jingles, that I have nor even read or listened to so far. For some bizarre reason they have been archived in ACE format. I am not even sure I can unpack them on my Windows PC. I certainly can't on this Linux PC.
  Yesterday was yet another day when I did not feel very motivated. I spent some time just watching the whole of Red Dwarf series one. Oddly enough I now know that I had previously seen all 6 episodes. This is odd as I thought I had mainly ignored series one. I remember watching the first ever episode and disliking it.

 Another little diversion yesterday was trying to get my Epsom 660 printer attached to the PC upstairs to print in colour. The printer was given to me as not working, and true to form, it remains very reluctant to print properly. For reasons that I cannot even begin to guess at, the ink jets block at the drop of a hat. What it probably needs is a set of genuine Epsom cartidges fitted and used until they are dry. That may finally flush all the crap out of the nozzles. I cannot afford genuine cartridges, or at the this momemt even patten parts. In fact I cannot afford to buy any refill inks, but what I have used is food colourings. The dye colours do not match the originals, but are close enough for non-photographic prints. I was surprised as to how much ink (or dye) I could feed into the cartridges. So they must have been close on empty. So where did all the last ink go ? After a lot of head cleaning I finally managed to get the print out that I wanted. It is quite passable considering, but another test print, this time a photo, made straight after the good one came out really streaky as if the heads had clogged in 5 seconds flat.

 I had some good, and bad, results while having another play with the PC that I had installed BeOS 5 on. The good thing was that I found, and installed, a graphics card with an SiS6326 chipset on it. BeOS recognised this straightaway and I then had a full colour 800x600 display. The nad news is that no matter what I did I could not get Mozilla, or Mozilla Firefox, to work on it. I downloaded the specific BeOS versions of them and then unpacked them. There did not appear to be any installation to do, but they both refused to do anything. One or both would try and start, but the complain about missing libraries. Yet the libraries were there in plain view. I am obviuosly missing some vital knowledge here. I guess this means doing some long winded research, but it may have to wait as I do have other experiments to carry out. In particular I have a copy of IBM's OS2Warp version 4 to try out. I have haad some mixed success with version 3, but it was very tetchy. Version 3 was very similar to Windows 3.11 so I assume that version 4 will be more similar to Windows 95. Hopefully that will mean it is easier to set up, but equally easy for it to fall over again. Just like Windows 95 it is not on a bootable CD so I will have the tedium of making install floppies before I can try it. There is little chance that I will actually use OS2Warp, or for that matter BeOS 5, but for me it is interesting to have a quick play and see what they look like.
Sunday 2nd October 2005
Weather - bright and breezy

    What I would like to do today is to go and do a little shopping. It seems that will not be possible for a little while. I only have £6 available in my bank account. That will soon change. There is a payment on it's way that will add £30, but that is to pay for my cable TV/phone/internet. Then I have a cheque for £31 to pay in. I should have tried to do that in the Post Office yesterday, but even if I can pay cheques in there the place was far too crowded. The queue was almost out the door, and onto the street. Still, next Friday, just 5 days away now, my dole money will be paid in.

 So today, one of the few things I can do, and with some urgency now, is to get up into my studio and record some stuff.
 I found it very difficult to get motivated yesterday. It even took some time before I was ready to face going out to the sorting office to pick up my parcel. It was actually a pleasant sort of walk. The temperature was mild, it was dry, and the wind light. I even took the long way round passing the main Post Office on my way to the sorting Office, and coming home. Unfortunately I could not face the gigantic queues in the Post Office so I did not get to see if I could pay a cheque in directly. (I'll send it in the post today). My parcel did not have what I was expecting exactly, but it was close enough, and very, very handy ! (Thanks Mike).

 On the final leg of the journey home I stopped off and bought 50 blank CDR's for £10. I was almost in desperate need of blank disks, but maybe I should have waited and used the £10 for more important items such as food (not that I'll starve, I just fancy something a little exotic). Unfortunately Poundstretcher seem to have stopped stocking the very nice white top "Strand" disks, and only stock Mitsubishi disks. They feel a little better quality than 5 Star disks, but not by much.

 Once home I felt a little knackered. I seemed to spend a fair amount of time making back-ups of important data to the new CDR's.. I also did some DVD making. Most of those operations needed just a little time to get them started, and then they got on with it by themselves. I'm not sure how I filled in that spare time.

 By the evening I had got my second wind, or maybe curiosity got too strong. I have an installation disk for BeOS 5 - another different computer oparating system that is now mostly open source. The first PC I tried it on hung during the boot sequence. That was no surprise because that PC has a weird motherboard that causes the CD to disconnect at random times until it is operating under the correct drivers. The second PC was more rewarding. It booted correctly from the CD so I turned off and put in a small spare hard drive before rebooting from the CD again. (Actually I tried a couple of old hard disks until I found one it was happy with). I did the full install twice. Once incorrectly, and the second with the boot manager correctly installed. It worked well. The first obvious thing is that it had found the sound card and configured it correctly. As the desk top came up it played me a little tune. After a few abortive attempts I managed to get the network card installed correctly so I had internet access. The only thing wrong was that it could not find any drivers for my graphics card. Fortunately, unlike Linux, it will automatically revert to a 640x480 8 bit greyscale screen in these circumstances. Using the built in web browser (I don't know what it is called, but it's a bit crap) I was able to do an internet search for garphics drivers. First I found that drivers for S3 graphics cards are poorly supported and buggy. Unfortunately my graphics card is made by S3. I found a driver, but it did not work and only gave a black screen. Luckily I had readf the instructions about booting into safe mode so I could remove the driver. I think it is in my best interests to try and find a non S3 graphics card if I am to pursue experimenting with BeOS.

 It was very tempting to carry on with the BeOS experiments, but I decided to give up before it turned into a 3 o'clock in the morning job. It was already late when I finally switched off for the day, but I was still late getting to bed (about 01.30) as i waiting for a video file to finish transcoding. It took a fair bit longer than I had imagined, but hopefully it will have turned out OK.
Saturday 1st October 2005
Weather - cool and bright

   This morning I woke up at 05.30 and got up to feed the cats, and check my e-mail. I also made a start at choosing this months colour scheme. It feels nice and moody. After that I went back to bed and may have slept for an hour, or perhaps even more. I am now up, washed and dressed.

 Today I have started the day like many Saturdays by loading up the washing machine to do my laundry. Once I have finished writing this page, uploading it, and attending to a few more things on the PC, I will be taking a gentle walk to the Post Office sorting office to pick up a parcel. With luck it should be my "care package" from Canada. During that walk, if it doesn't look too crowded, I may enquire in the main Post Office if I can deposit a cheque into my ex-Girobank, Alliance And Leicester bank account. I have just received a dividend payment from my Dixons shares. That was a most welcome surprise when I came home last night.

 Later today I really ought to spend some time in my studio, but I don't know if I feel in the right mood for it. I think I'll just see how I feel after coming back from the sorting office.
 Yesterday should have been a very good day, but it didn't turn out that way. I was picked up a little late and Iain took me to the school where I had several things to play with. First up was giving an opinion on an Epsom printer that was printing in funny colours. My onlyu conclusion was that the ink, or the ink jets themselves had become contaminated. All I could suggest was that a set of brand new, and hideously expensive, genuine Epson ink cartridges be fitted and hope the contamination would eventually disperse.

 The next thing was fun. Iain has an old Dell Poweredge server that is complete, and with an operating system still on it. Unfortunately we did not know the adminstrator password to get in to delete all the crap, and configure for how Iain imagines it will be used. We had two choices. One was to reformat the hard disks, track down all the required drivers, and re-install Windows 2000 server from scratch. The second option was to use a Linux distribution I know of to reset the adminstrator password to blank. The first tool I had recommended last Tuesday did not have all the drivers to access the SCSI hard disks, but the second had extra drivers and worked a treat. We then had full access to everything on the machine. It seems that it has three 18GB hard disks. The first is formatted to FAT, and the second two in a raid configuration were formatted to NTFS. Those disks were very full, and out of the total storage space of 36GB, there was little more than about 300MB free.

 The final bit of fun for the day was installing a new hard disk, and operating sytem on an iMac. Iain had previously installed a new 40GB hard drive with Mac OSX on it, but it didn't work. So I swapped a 30GB drive for the 40GB and suggested that was tried incase the IDE controller was had a limit of 32GB (a long shot, but possible). So I fitted the drive with some considerable help from Iain (Initially I could not even work out how to open the casing !), and proceeded in attempting to install OSX. The machine failed to boot from the CD, and apparently this is what happened before. I was very suspicious of this. My knowledge of "modern" Macs is not very good, but I did not believe that any hard disk should stop the boot process. So I tried a genuine copy of OS9 and that booted, and I was able to paartition the hard disk and get a working installation. Next we tried a copy of the original OSX version 10.0.1. That booted OK, but we had a lot of trouble partitioning the hard disk. Eventually I found that a partition of less than 8GB (say 7.9 GB) would be recognised aand I managed to get a perfectly working instalation installed. Disappointingly the hard disk tools shipped with that original version of OSX were crap, and I was not able to resize, or combine some of the left over partitions - I had made 4 partitions so that I would be guaranteed of getting the start partition under 8GB even though the partitioning tool seemed very flaky indeed. One of the big issues with that iMac is that it only has a CD drive, and newer versions of OSX only seem to come on DVD. Iain had used some utility, or something, to get a DVD version split over 4 CD's. Unfortunately it seems they were not bootable. I have suggested that Iain now try a network install using the DVD drive in one of the bigger Macs, but amazingly Iain says that will only work if you have a Mac server.

 All that was going on under a bit of a cloud after we had heard that Paul, one of Ivor's best mates, and well known to all of us, had died of a heart attack the previous night. That put a dampener on the day and contributed to my moodiness. I had almost started the day feeling a bit moody for various reasons - most of them to do with money. So I had a miserable evening in the pub. After several pints sunk during the course of the day I was feeling a bit uncomfortable, but I wanted to get a bit drunk. So I moved on to Scotch and Cokes. It took a lot of effort to start feeling a bit drunk and lighten up a bit. Ruth did all she could to help me cheer up, and it was more thanks to her than the alcohol, that I did feel a bit brighter when we left the pub. My mood was lifted a little higher when I came home and found that the pile of mail on my doormat was not more bills. Most of it was just junk mail, but one was a cheque for £30 as a dividend payment for my Dixons shares. So I was able to go to bed not exactly depressed, but then again not exactly cheerful.

top of page