September 2005

Testcard C


Testcard F

Friday 30th September 2005
Weather - occasional showers

 I didn't get a chance to write anything today. You can pick up the story by going to October.
Thursday 29th September 2005
Weather - cold but bright

    It's a bright fine morning, but rather chilly outside. What shall I do today ?  One possibility is that I might meet up with Taz for a quick (and cheap) beer lunchtime(ish). If she phones to say she is in Catford then we'll meet in the Wetherspoons where I can just afford one cheap pint of beer. Luckily all beer in the Wetherspoons is cheap (compared to The Ram) and I may even be able to extend to two pints.

 Apart from drinking I ought to haul myself into my studio, and I ought to continue my video editing. For the latter it would be truer to say -  start my video editing.

 I think I ought to check my bank statement this morning to see if I am safe to go out and buy some tobacco and catfood.
 Yesterday I didn't seem to get up to much. I spent a lot of the morning looking for material to pad out, or enhance my latest video editing project. I found everything I needed except for one image that does not appear on my back-up disks. Maybe it is still on the PC not backed up anywhere, or maybe I just imagined that I had it in the first place. Even though I had sufficient stuff to start, I didn't actually get around to starting. I think I was distracted by a phone call and never went back to it. In the afternoon I spent some time reading. It may have been an hour or two. That still leaves a lot of undocumented time that I am not sure how I filled in. The day passed quite quickly so I must have done something. I think it was a bit of e-mail, a bit of web surfing/searching and a bit of TV.

 The original plan for the evening was to go out to The Ram for a drink with Kevin and Iain. Kevin is ill with a snotty cold at the moment so he didn't want to go out and we called the evening off. This suited me OK as I had sufficient beer the day before, and I wanted to watch The Bill and the programme about the space race on BBC 2 afterwards. There was talk about trying again tonight, but with the prospect of having to be picked up at 06.45 the next morning for more fun and games (and beer) I don't think that is wise.
Wednesday 28th September 2005
Weather - dry

   If today is like yesterday I will be having a hell of a trouble trying to upload this to NTL's servers. I don't know what is wrong with uploading to NTL, but ever since I went broadband uploads either use to stop with a broken pipe error, or yesterday, kept stalling.  Since changing from passive transfer to active transfer I no onger get the broken pipe errors, but the upload is a very picky process. Yesterday was the first time it would get stuck for hours. Kevin tells me that ny 02.00 this morning yhis September page was still not showing. Fingers crossed for today then !

 Apart from trying to upload todays scribble I am not sure what I will be doing. I may need a little recovery time after yesterdays excesses, or after a broken nights sleep. I went to bed around 23.00 last night with a gut full of spicy food, and lots of alcohol still swilling around my veins. At 02.00 I woke up feeling cooked. I wasn't sweaty, but I felt like I was burning up. So I went to have a pee, and then sat on the bed smoking a thinly rolled roll up. I then lay down without the being covered by the duvet and promptly fell asleep. 2 hours later I woke up shivering and had to pul the duvet on top of me. 2 hours after that I woke up with bad pains in my stomach and here I am after two trips to the loo, the second being a mad dash, and feeling far better for the experience.

 One thing I ought to tackle today is to finish my video editing of the steam train through Catford Bridge Station. I started preparing all the material for that, and then it got sidelined by other stuff.
 Yesterday was fun. Iain picked me up at just gone 06.45 and took me to the school. where I was able to swap some of my knowledge for a beer and pizza lunchtime. It was in a pub called The Rosedale in Gypsy Hill. I didn't like the pub much. It was too big, airy and trendy. If it did have one plus point it was that they cooked pizzas on the premises, and that on Tuesdays it was buy one, get one free. There were 5 of us there, Ivor, Iain, Paul, Pat and myself. Initially I declined any pizza, but so much had been ordered that eventually I gave in to temptation and ate the leftovers.

 After beer and food it was back to school where I waited around until Ivor had finished his work for the day, and then it was off to The Herne for more beer. Sadly Ruth seemed to be entertaining someone else so we did not have her company, and it waas just Ivor, Iain and myself until Ivor went home, and then it was just Iain and myself. We did not stay that late, and I guess Iain dropped me home soon after 19.00.

 With all the beer swilling around in me I was keen for some food, but did not fancy anything I available to cook here. So in a foolish act of financial bravado I spent most of my remaining cash on a pizza. Once again it was a Tandoori Hot from Domonics Pizzas. Being a Tuesday I could not take advantage of the Wednesday special I used last time, but on Tuesdays they do any size for just £7.25. So I ordered the super size. It was surprisingly big. So much so that I now have a large slice left over for a cold breakfast this morning.

 I was too drunk to do anything except watch TV last night. There was very little on though. I ended up watching two episodes of Absolutely Fabulous on UK Gold. Even when drunk it is not that funny, but funnier on repeats than when originally shown. In fact when it was originally shown I could not see what all the fuss was about and very rarely watched it, if at all. Byt the time the second episode came on I could barely keep my eyes open. So once it was finished I went straight to bed and was asleep in minutes.
Tuesday 27th September 2005
Weather - raining

  I've not much time to write this morning. I am being picked up at 06.45 for another beer for work sort of situation. I may add more later.
 Yesterday was boring with very little achieved. I may expand on this later, but right now I need a showr and shampoo.
Monday 26th September 2005
Weather - cold and clear

  I think I slept badly last night. I woke up at one time with my right elbow feeling very sore. This is the elbow that was dislocated some years ago, but Lewisham hospital failed to diagnose it. I have a feeling that as the years roll by it will give even worse trouble in cold weather.

 One thing I will be doing today is to watch a home made DVD. It has taken two days to encode the video and is being burnt to DVD as I write this. It will be nice to be able to turn off that PC after 3 days non stop running with a rather noisy external fan keeping the inside cool.

 Another thing I must do is to sort out my finances. My mobile phone bill is due to be paid today. It should be my second to last one as I am having the service ceased from the 13th October. I think there is enough money in my account to pay this bill, but I am not sure how much money will be left to pay some other bills. I fancy going out and getting pissed today, but there is no way I can do it.
 Yesterday was very frustrating. It took several attempts to get a second sound card to work in my spare PC. I did it in the end, but the prograam that would call on two sound cards does not appear to work. There could be several reasons for this. One of them is worth a quite from the manual -
"Although BCX is designed to run under Microsoft Windows®, a key design feature is the absence of ‘geekiness’ found in generic PC applications. It has been designed to be operated by virtually anyone, with the minimum of training. If we’ve done our job properly, you will grasp how BCX3 works without having to wade through this book. Indeed it has been written in such a way so that topics are clearly broken down into clear explanatory sections, which means that should be up and running in no time."
Perhaps I am too geeky to understand their simple instructions. To my mind hardly anything in that program is intuitive. Another possibility is that it will not work when using Windows ME as I was. The manual suggests Windows XP with service pack 3 installed. Perhaps I am a little behind the times, but I was not aware that service pack 3 even existed yet !

 I got a little disheartened by my experience of that and went away to sulk with a DVD of Futurama episodes for the rest of the afternoon. The evening was very boring with little or no interest of anything on TV. So I put on another Futurama DVD and watched that. Amazingly the stray cat sat on my chest, with her front paws dangling over my right shoulder, for almost the duration of one whole episode.
Sunday 25th September 2005
Weather - showers

  Sunday morning and the ground is all wet after overnight showers. The sky is grey and it looks like more rain. A perfect English day (if you are a masochist).

 Despite the gloom I have a few things I want to do today. I will possibly spend the time in my studio that I meant to spend yesterday. I want to add a second sound card to one of mt PC's. I am hoping that an old ISA sound card will do the trick. The PC is running Windows ME, but I think I can find a usable driver for the card I have in mind. The only other thing that comes to mind for today is to continue filling up a 10GB hard drive with all my favourite mp3's.
 Yesterday did not turn out quite like I imagined it would. I did spend a little while in my studio, but it was not the creative effort I had originally intended. All I did was to rename a few dozen mp3 tracks that had incorrect names.

 I passed some time experimenting with adding a second sound card on my spare PC. Yesterday's experiment was using an external USB connected sound card. It worked but I worry that it may be a little unreliable. Today I will be tryng an old ISA soundcard inside the box.

 Copying a load of mp3 files via the network to the spare PC took up a lot of time. I was wondering if it would be quicker to re-rip the CD's directly on the PC where the new hard drive is. Probably not, but at least I would be spared having to rename the files where the previous ripper was set up incorrectly. For some bizzare reason it was set up not to include the artists name in the file name.

 I also started some video editing and stuff. After trying a few quick fixes I had to resort to converting a file to mpeg 2 (for DVD burning) using the slow, but high quality and reliable, TMPGEnc encoder. It is so simple to use, and does all that I need, but is 20 time slower than other encoders. The 94 minute video I am encoding will take 22 - 25 hours to encode. (This morning it has 14 hours left to go). It does produce wonderfully clean and artifact free video, and I can change an anamorphic 16:9 video to a letterbox 4:3 video with ease.

 I had a remarkable dream last night. Several infact because I continued the basic plot of the first dream after getting up to go for a wee in the middle of the night. The basic plot of the dream is that I had been in outerspace as an astronaut, but couldn't actually remember doing it. Some bits of the dream were set in a big building that resembled my old school in a superficial way, while other bits of dream were set on a space station. An odd fact about being on the space station was that I was very aware of the effects of weightlessness, and what could, and couldn't be done without gravity, but it was more like in a film where the lack of gravity was poorly simulated. At no time did I actually feel weightless, but I knew what it should be like. While the dream(s) were set around a background of space, the real object of the dream was to try and chat up a fellow astronautess (not seen that word before, but it must be correct for a female astronaut). I seemed to be making some progress, but the last thing I remember before I woke up was that she was probably going to visit me in my cabin that night (but only probably !).
Saturday 24th September 2005
Weather - bright and cool

   Out of all the things I could do today I think I may be spending a lot of time in my studio.
 Yesterday was a lazy day, although I did start with a burst of enthusiasm early in the morning. My curiosity about the 250GB hard disk I had been given got the better of me. My first attempt at accessing it showed that something was seriously wrong. This was in accordance with what I had been led to believe. A careful scrutiny of the circuit board showed that a quartz crystal had been smashed. It was a tiny little device, about 3 x 2 mm, with three connections that ran underneath the unit itself. Fortunately I was able to salvage one from my dead 120GB hard drive that had blown up. It was a tricky operation changing it over without the tools that I used to have available when I was in work, but I managed it even if I managed to put it in slightly skewed. From then on the disk sprung into life and I was able to read all the contents with no apparent problem. As a final test I used Maxtor's test utility "powermaxen" to give it a thorough test. The results were disappointing. It said that the drive was failing and recommended that all the data was backed up quickly. I guess this was the original fault, and the smashed crystal occured in transit. In my estimation the problem is caused by heat build up as it does run very hot in use. I will chance using the drive, but when I fit it in a PC I will add a fan to try and keep it cool, and hopefully extend its life.

 After getting the hard disk working I went out to get some shopping. From then on I did very little for the rest of the day. It was not entirely wasted time because I did keep myself occupied with a few things. At one point I sat down and renamed some mp3 files. It was similar odd little jobs that kept me occupied for the rest of the day until I went to bed at around 23.00. What I should have been doing was to increase the storage capacity of my fastest spare PC and done some experiments. One of those experiments was to see if I could add two USB sound cards (sound out only) and direct the sounds I wanted to the correct outputs.It all seemed a bit involved during the day, and it was only a strong grip on reality (or something) that stopped me starting that experiment late in the evening. I know that if I had started I would have been up to the silly hours and lost a load of valuable sleep because of it. Maybe I'll consider it for today.
Friday 23rd September 2005
Weather - bright and mild

  The good thing about to day is that my dole money should have been paid into my account. The bad thing is that I am up so early after a late night.

 This morning the weather is looking very good. It is bright and sunny with just some high clouds. Well that is what I can see to the north of the house. I haven't check out of the front of the house for the view to the south.

 I have several things to do today, and all are computer related. Yesterday I got my spare PC back from Ivor and I have a few experiments to try on it. I also got a broken, or corrupted, 250GB hard drive given to me. I am slightly worried that it may have shared a similar fate to my broken 120GB hard drive. That has literally blown up and is the same make, and uses the same electronics circuit board. I think some of the electronics on these hard drives overheat. So if anyone is using a Maxtor hard drive that uses the Calypso II circuit board I suggest they make sure it is mounted with plenty of air flow around it, and even use a small fan on it to cool the electronics.  Both my 120GB drive, and this newly donated 250GB drive were used in drive enclosures and probably both just overheated through lack of air flow.
 Yesterday was one of the better days. It started fairly slow, aand for a lot of the day I just pottered around. I managed to get some pains in my neck and shoulders by minding two PC at the same time. They are facing each other so I was constantly swiveling around to do stuff on one or the other. The results were quite good (on the PC's , not me). On my spare, and slightly cranky, 300MHz PC I have Xandros installed. That comes with a 30 day demo of Codeweavers Crossover Office that allows some windows applications to run in a Linux environment. I uninstalled the demo version and installed a full version before doing some experiments. Microsoft Office installed perfectly, but you would hope for that as that is that is what it was designed for. I was surprised that Winamp also installed and worked OK as well. Sadly Paint Shop Pro refuses to run. I was wary about wasting time with Cool Edit Pro, but I may try it one day.

 In the evening it was time for a drinking session in Barming with all the old pirates. There was John (with Wendy), Bob, Kevin, Howard, Ivor, Roger, Pam and Patrick all in attendance. Plenty of beer was drunk, and we all had a good time.

 I got home in time to see the re-showing of the earlier live episode of The Bill on ITV 3. I was still just about sober enough to notice a few fluffs, but for a live performance it worked well. Which is more than you can say for the story line. It has sunk to the low depths of a soap opera again with contrived plots that just seem so artificial. For the last few weeks they have shown some policing in action. So my guess is that some minor writer has written those scripts while the escapee from Crossroads (or whatever) has been working on the big plot.

 I finally got into bed, and turned off the light, at 01.40. I was asleep fairly soon, but not instantly. Once again I have got up too early after less than 6 hours sleep.  I think I got out of bed at around 07.00. Since then I have fed the cats and read, and in one case replied to, several e-mails.
Thursday 22nd September 2005
Weather - dry

  I am up early this morning after waking up feeling guilty that I might have gone to bed without letting Nelly back indoors. I don't know why I thought that, as it was untrue. She had been indoors all night as usual, but once up I thought I may as well write some stuff before going back to bed for another 30 minutes sleep.

 Tonight is drinking night in the company of the the "old comrades" aat Barming. This gives me some exciting possibilities for today like finally getting around to repairing my video machine. It probably only needs a good clean up inside - a delicate job, and not for those who haven't been trained in it like myself. I may need it tonight because there is an interesting episode of The Bill on while I will be drinking in the pub. To celebrate 50 years of ITV they are showing their only current semi-good programme on the entire ITV network as a live show. They have done this once before and it went quite smoothly. Shame really because I suspect everyone, including myself, was waiting for some major cock-ups to happen that didn't.

 I am wondering about today's weather. Earlier on the sky was bright, but I am sure it had a touch of pinkiness in it. That would suggest that today could be quite dull and wet, but so far the sky is brightening nicely. Maybe today will turn out like the last few days with a slightly dull morning turning into a glorious sunny afternoon with clear blue skies. Maybe it won't.
 Yesterday was a fairly unexciting day. Possibly the highlight of the day was when I went out mid afternoon to shop in Tesco's. I think I drained the credit on my Tesco Club Card Plus down to zero, but I managed to buy 50g of tobacco, and catfood, as well as a few other goodies. The previous evening I had gone to bed feeling peckish. It was not true hunger or I would not have waited until almost midday yesterday before having breakfast. It was actually just a strong desire for something "nice". Nice could have meant anything at all really, but ideally something savoury. I kept wanting something like peanuts or well done sausages. So yesterday I made sure that I bought a couple of packets of Tesco "Value" peanuts. At just 21p for a large packet they are good value for money. Of course by now only one pack still remains, and it is quite possible I will scoff that while watching The Bill after I get in from the pub tonight. The other good value buy is Tesco "Value" tins of tuna chunks. They obviously do not contain high quality tuna, but it does go very well with some pasta for an ultra cheap meal.

 There's not really much else to add about yesterday. I did have a play around in the studio, but did not achieve much. I didn't even tackle the ancient tape of my dad's recordings that is almost falling apart.
Wednesday 21st September 2005
Weather - overcast but mild

   I am up and dressed ! I wonder how the weather will turn out today ? This mornings sky is similar to yesterday, but it feels a little warmer, and yesterday ended up as a warm sunny day with clear blue skies. Apart from the uplifting effect of bright sunshine, and the depressing effect of dark rainy skies, the weather is not really important when most of the time is spent indoors.

 I have no real master plan for today. I know that before the day is out I will need to go and get more catfood and tobacco, but beyond that I have several options. I could do some video editing, or I could spend some time in my studio. Both options are fairly important. Kevin is no doubt impatient to see his video shots combined with mine of the steam train that went through Catford Bridge Station a week or two ago. Up in the studio I still have the one tape left of my dad's old recordings that I want to finish digitising and cleaning up before the tape finally disintegrates. I also have some "musical" experiments I would like to continue with, and I am sure John would appreciate a recording from me.
 In some ways yesterday was dominated by having to go and sign on. It was a most irritating session. Once again I had printed off a possible job from the Job Centre's own web site that I wanted more information about. The last time I did this it was recorded that I was going to apply for the job and I am still being investigated for not applying for a job that was offered to me. Which completely twists what was really happening. The job was not offered to me - I was merely making enquiries about I job that I had found and was possibly interested. Hopefully the situation was resolved yesterday by the woman at the job centre retrieving a contact number for the possible employer and dialling it for me. I was able to ascertain that the job was about 5 miles from the nearest railway station and so was no good for me. Now I just hope that it was not recorded that I was actually applying for the job.

 Yesterday started out very cool and overcast. This morning it is similar but maybe not as cold. By early afternoon the grey had evaporated and left a wonderfully clear blue sky with warm sunshine. It would be pleasant if the same were to happen today. I think if it had remained all dull I would have been seriously depressed about my signing on session. Instead most of my anger had evaporeted by the time I had walked home in the sunshine.

 I didn't actually do much of anything yesterday. Jodie came over and did some recording. That provided a distraction for several hours. Unfortunately she did not bring my "payment" for computer advice the other day - tomatoes and apples. I spent some time investigating some bit torrents. I found a few things to download, but my taste must be fairly rarified as there are very few sources for what I am downloading. One file has an estimate of 248 hours before it finishes !  I would do a lot better downloading porn instead of 1950's black and white sci-fi.. I am sure that porn would download in seconds ! It's hard to account for the rest of the time - a bit of this and a bit of that, but nothing worth recording.
Tuesday 20th September 2005
Weather - cold and grey

   Two things happen today. At 15.30 I sign on at the job centre. This will be the first time in 6 weeks after a little "holiday" caused by the recent bank holiday and a reorganisation at the job centre itself. The other event for today is that my bank will be attempting to withdraw certain bank charges relating to my overdraft. There is almost, but not quite enough money left in my account. So I dodn't know what will happen there.

 Apart from presenting myself at the job centre at 15.30, I have no definite idea of what I will do today. I may well spend some more time in my studio, and there is always some comuter related stuff to do.
 It was a relief yesterday not to have any computer emergencies of my own to deal with. I didn't get off that lightly though. At 09.30 I had Jodie's mum on the phone to me. She had tried to install the latest upgrade to AOL and found her internet connection no longer worked. Fortunately fixing it turned out to be fairly simple. First I suggested unplugging the ADSL modem from the PC and then plugging it in again. My hope was that the PC would redetect the USB connected modem. That did nothing so I suggested Windows "System Restore". She had never heard of it before, and it took a little while to talk her through finding it in the start menu, and then activating it. Luckily that fixed the problem and I could breath a sigh of relief. It is never that easy talking through a novice on something that you have to wrack your brains to try and mentally picture what is going on. Perhaps it is a little harder still when you are only just out of the shower with wet hair and only dressed in underpants and socks ! Apparently last time something like this happened she called out an expert and was charged £50 for the privelege. My fee was more surplus tomatoes, and some apples from her garden. Jodie will be delivering them later in the week (maybe).

 My own computer troubles are not fully over, and I did spend a few odd minutes here and there doing some investigating. I refused to let myself get bogged down with trying to fix everything. The problem is that I seem to have remnants of KDE 3.3 intermingled with KDE 3.2 (and possibly earlier versions). This has left some minor irritations that ideally should be fixed. I do have work arounds for all these little problems so nothing is urgent.

 I spent most of yesterday afternoon, and a little while into the evening, using my studio facilities. There's nothing remarkable to add to that, except I did find an old vinyl LP that had a particular track on it that I have been trying to download not realising that I had it in my possesion all the time. Of course it would be nice to get a pristine copy of the track in mp3 format, but the LP version is in quite good condition so I could spend some time cleaning and digitising it myself.

 In the evening I got some good news - I think. For the last three weeks a "care package" has been making its way very slowly from Canada. Until then I had not had it confirmed that it was on its way. I am a bit worried that it is taking so long to get here, but hopefully it has not been stolen and will get here soon. Three weeks sounds slightly excessive to me, but it is going the cheapest way possible. Presumably this means it is going by boat rather than plane. I guess that adds at least a week to the proceedings. Apparently mail transport can be slow in Canada as well - probably has to go via dog sledge over the Rockies or something :-) (sorry Mike - couldn't resist that).
Monday 19th September 2005
Weather - grey and cold

   The first thing for today is a good shampoo and shower. Then I ought to empty Nelly's litter tray. After that I am not sure, but this afternoon I think I will be in my studio. I still feel rough this morning. I don't know whether it is a lack of sleep, the change in the weather, or just some undefined illness.
 Yesterday was totally dominated by computers. I had a battle royale with this PC. I have come to the conclusion I do not like Mandrake 2005 Special Edition. That is what I installed. upgraded to on Saturday night. It lacks to major things that I use all the time. One is gFtp, a file transfer program, and the other is xmms, the Winamp like audio player. I never did get xmms installed, but I did get gFtp installed after adding one more library file. Unfortunately a side effect of this was to stop the KDE desktop from starting up (although the Gnome desktop worked OK). After loads of mucking around I decided that I would try to Instal SuSe Linux instead of Mandrake.

 I don't know what went wrong with SuSe, but after making a 5GB root partition for the operating system it first warned me that I did not have enough space, and then the installation crashed due to lack of space. What I can't figure out was where it was trying to install the operating to. The ram ?

 The top of my head ended up raw after so much headscratching before I decided to do what I should have done in the first place. I re-installed Mandrake 10.0 and suddenly all was well again. - almost !  The next battle is to get Kuickshow to work properly. This is my favourite image display program. Unfortunately there is a duff library file that causes it to show slide shows with an image resolution of 1x1 pixels. Yes, the whole image is compressed into one solitary pixel. I have fixed this problem twice in the past, aaand no doubt at some point in the future I will fix it again - but not for now as I am fed up with it.

 While battling with this PC I was preparing an alternate attack on the problem. I pulled out my spare 300MHz PC and shoved in a couple of spare hard disks, a 4GB and a 10GB with a view to using that as my main internet PC (and releasing this 1.3GHz machine for use as an mp3 player in the studio). I had a second go at installing Linspire on that machine, but there is something funny about it that many Linux distributions do not like. It locked up solidly before the installation program could even get going. The same happened when I tried to use SuSe, but Xandros worked just fine.

 With Xandros fully installed and working the one thing I tried, but as yet have not managed, was to copy the entire 2 year accumulations of e-mail from this PC to that PC. I don't want to lose those e-mail if I can help it, but it is going to take some future experimentation to work out a way of completely transferring them. I have similar problems with all the settings for gFtp and one or two other programmes. In reality transferring all that stuff is not that important, but it has now come as a challenge to my ingenuity (or lack of it). Another day I will have another go.

 After a day 90% dominated by computers I finally got to bed at 23.00, but initially I could not get to sleep even though I felt very tired.  It was past midnight when I finally fell asleep. I cannot remember a thing about my dreams beyond that I know they were all about computers that didn't work. I woke up this morning feeling very unrefreshed as if I had been doing battle all night.
Sunday 18th September 2005 Weather - high cloud, cold
  I am most definitely tired this morning. I didn't get to sleep until 03.30. At the moment I am dressed, but I don't think I can be bothered to shower this morning. I am not expecting any visitors so, in theory, I will be the only one to suffer.
 I will be doing an assortment of things today. Probably the first will be to continue to repair this Linux installation. (Read about a tale of woe when I describe yesterday). When I am either happy with that, or get fed up with it, I will probably spend some time in my studio.
 I didn't get round to doing much until it was too late yesterday. During the day I played with this and played with that. Jodie came to use the studio during the afternoon. While this was all going on I was downloading the most recent vesion of Mandriva (Mandrake) Linux. It consisted of three iso CD image files equalling just over 2GB of data. Naturally this took a little time and it was after dark before they were all safely downloaded. While I watched something on TV I decided to burn the three CD's.

 The next thing I did was a tragic mistake. I thought there would be no harm in using those disks to update my existing Mandrake installation. i.e. the one I am using right now to write this. It should have gone smoothly, but didn't. The first time I rebooted the whole thing hung as soon as the X server (for the graphical interface) started up. To cut a long story short I eventually had to resort to wiping out the old installation and start from fresh. That is not quite so drastic as it sounds as I did retain my home partition with all my work and desktop settings intact.

 The story does not end there. This latest version of Mandrake, or Mandrive as they now call it, does not come with all the software I know and love. For a start the e-mail client Thunderbird is not installed by default. So I had to get that installed separately. The ftp client gFtp is not included at all so I had to use the old Mandrake disks to install that. And so it went on. By 03.00 I was reasonably happy that most of what I need was in and working. That wasn't entirely true because Nvu, the program I am using to write this web page would not start this morning because the desk top link, the only easy access to Nvu, was pointing to the wrong executable. Another essential, for me, was xmms the Winamp-like mp3 player. It looks as if it is supposed to be included, but somehow was omitted from the installation files. I think the library for it may be installed, but not the actual executable. So today I still have a fair amount of work to do getting this installation back to a satisfactory state.

 Was it worth it ? Yes, to a certain extent it was. A few things work better than they did, and some of my add on programs are now installed correctly and integrated into the whole scheme of things instead of being stand alone bolt ons.
Saturday 17th September 2005
Weather - clear sky, very cool

   This morning I woke up with a stiff and sore back after, presumably, sleeping roughly. The temperature has dropped markedly in the last week or so, and I think I had trouble balancing trying to stay warm while not overheating in bed. I woke up with the bed in a high state of disarray suggesting I had been tossing and turning all night.. Since gettting out of bed my back has eased up a little, but I still feel rather stiff and creaky with a slight feeling my brain has been replaced by a wet dish cloth.

 I am not sure how I will occupy myself today. Jodie may come over this afternoon to use the studio for a few hours. That will be a distraction for a few hours, but I am thinking of doing some computer experiments at some time today.

 Before all that I am looking forward to a Saturday morning treat. All the timings have come together to allow me a rare Saturday morning breakfast of grilled bacon and tomatoes with some baked beans.
 I felt tired again yesterday. It was almost certainly the result of junk food instead of proper cooked meals the day before. I appear to have done the same yesterday I have to confess all I ate yesterday was some Tesco "value" fish fingers for breakfast followed by a rack of Tesco hot ribs for lunch . The rest of the day my only food was a large bag of highly fattening monkey nuts, and a bar of Tesco "value" dark chocolate. It is not surprising that I feel so rough this morning.

 I found it hard to concentrate yesterday, but I did manage to transfer another 4 (or was it only 2 ?) hours of reel to reel tape into the PC. I did find the other (I am sure there were only two) old reels of tape that were recorded by my dad. There is a strong suggestion that this second one was recorded before 1960, and possibly around 1957 or 1958. There is one short recording of a baby crying, and my dad comforting it prior to my mum coming into the room. That could only be me. To cry like that I must have been very young, but I don't know quite how young. Another short snippet has someone, probably me, singing the Fireball XL5 theme tune, with accompanient/encouragement from my mum. That must give a big clue to the era it was recorded in, but as yet I cannot date it. I managed to listen to all the tape, but I could not concentrate enough to sit down and slowly clean and edit the recordings into the PC. These trecordings will take quite an effort to clean up as there are all sorts of different background hums and hisses to try and clean. There is also the problem that the tape is very brittle. I had to resplice it 4 times just while listening to it. That tape is so old that this could be one of the last chances to recover recordings from it.

 I went to bed very early last night - about 20.30, but it was not to sleep initially. I was reading a Sci-Fi book in bed until 23.00, or maybe a bit later. The book "Years Of The City" by Frederik Pohl is a series of interlinked short stories charting the fall and rebirth of a of a future New York city. It has some interesting ideas in it, but many of them impractical, or too far ahead of their time, but definitely food for thought. If it were not for the fact that this country is heading for an Orwellian Police State, and I am not going to be alive long enough to really worry about it, I would consider trying to develop some of those ideas and try and get a wider audience interested in them. I actually woke up this morning with my head buzzing with ideas (another reason why I may have slept badly), and I am sure if some of those ideas were ever implemented it would make for a better country. However as I am almost past caring, and many of those ideas would mean taking power away from the same politicians who are driving us to a rather late 1984 situation, and hence want more and more power to subject citizens to their ever stupid ideas, it would be unlikely to ever succeed. So I'll just take the easy way out and watch from the sidelines as the politicians change the way of life in Britain for ever, and just remain content that I have lived through the last days of freedom, and haven't got any sons or daughters who will have to endure the nightmare of the future. Perhaps the real tragedy is that even in the worst case scenario most of the citezens of tomorrow will never know of the freedoms that they are not enjoying. Humans are infitely malleable and will belive even quite extreme circumstances are normal if it is part of their everyday experience. People who live in mud huts today probably think it is as normal as people who live in mansions think it is normal. So maybe nothing actually matters. Even under the most brutal political regimes there is probably a wide strata of people who are born, live, love, and die without giving any thought that anything is wrong, could be different, or would want to change anything, and for the most part live happy fulfilling lives. Life is just a punishment for being alive.
Friday 16th September 2005
Weather - dry but gloomy

It's another day where I have no specific plans. I don't need to, but I may pop out and buy more catfood and Tesco diet cola. Maybe I will do some computer experiments. Maybe I'll see what grabs my attention once I am up and dressed properly.
 Yesterday was one of those odd days where nothing much seemed to happen very fast. The morning seemed to be over in a flash. Although I must admit that there were times when time did seem to drag. I wrote a fairly long e-mail, but had numerous interuptions while I was writing it. That made me very aware of passing time. The other thing I did was to go to Tesco to buy tobacco and an assortment of vital supplies (and some not so vital). I couldn't get everything I wanted in sufficient quantities because I was loaded down with several large items (i.e. a  big bag of cat litter), but I bought sufficient for my immeadiate needs. The next time, which could be today, I'll buy some larger quantities of the essentials for the future.

 In the afternoon I pressed ahead with my reel to reel audio tape digitising. By the end of the day I had only added 4 hours to my collection, but I did finally come to the end of the big tape that was taking so much time to process. I also identified another two tapes that I may do today. One is very short, while the other is probably a two hour recording. I'm getting a little bored of these recording again so I may leave them for a day or two and do somethimg else.
Thursday 15th September 2005
Weather - raining

 Today I wil be mostly recovering from an excellent day yesterday. In betweeb recovering I have some urgent shopping to do. I opened the last pouch of catfood just now. The stray ate that, and Nelly just had to make do with "crunchies" (Go Cat salmon and trout flavour). I'll also be transcribing some lore ancient old reel to reel tape recordings. Finally, tonight, we should be on for another drinking session.
 Yesterday was a rather good day. It started when Iain remembered to pick me up at 06.45. He took me to their workplace and I proceeded to try and unravel why their audio recodings on the PC were coming out all wrong. One of the initial difficulties I encountered was that I have never seen a PC with three sound cards in it before. Two of them were for independant sound outputs fed to a sound mixer, and the other was an input for recording the output from that mixer. It was this input that the trouble seemed to come from. Luckily I had brought a spare PC with me and was able to test the output from their mixer console separately. Initially even that caused some confusion. It had a fairly fresh installation of Windows ME on it, and to my surprise the latest sound card drivers had set it up as a surround sound rig. I was not even aware that it was possible on that (onbboard) sound card. So what should have been the line in jack had actually been set to be the rear channel output. Once I realised what was going on it was easy to correct and I started to get some meaningful results. I was able to ascertain the originating PC was producing two correct stereo outputs into the mixer. The next step was to find out why that PC could not record a correct stereo signal on it's sound card input. It turned out that the input was being fed to the mic input, which was only a mono input.  Bizarrely the the line input jack seemed more sensitive than the Mic input jack and gave the impression that it was really the Mic input. I am not sure what was going on there, but I suspect it had some sort of AGC on the the mic input that was masking it's true sensitivity, or maybe something about the way it was internally connected was loading down the output of the mixer (that might also explain the strange distortion effect on the earlier mono recordings). In the end I built a simple attenuator for the output of the mixer, and it is now connected to the correct line input jack and everything now records correctly. My payment for this was to be in free beer.

 At lunchtime we went to The Angel pub on the Thames riverside at Bermondsey. It was a pleasant enough pub, but it had one major problem. All the beer was delivered by gas, and so was was fairly fizzy. This was a shame as Sam Smiths used to be one of my preferred real ales. The other problem was that generally I never eat in the pub lunchtime so was not offered any food. Except this time I was hungry and would have accepted it. After a couple of pints it was back to Ivor's workplace to finish off a few jobs (I mainly stood around getting in the way). It was only for about an hour, perhaps less, and then it was back to The Herne for more beer.

 I had previously stated that unless there was anyone exciting at The Herne I wanted to get away early so that I would still be in a state to do a few things here. Unfortunately (or fortunately) things occured to stop that. One was that Max was in the pub when we got there. Then Ivor had a phone call saying there had been some sort of incident in Catford causing the traffic to come to a standstill, and so he was reluctant to take me home. Lastly Ruth turned up at the pub. So Iain and myself stayed on to about 20.00 (maybe later - I think it was around 21.00 when he dropped me off here). I got slowly drunk and grabbed several nice hugs and kisses from Max and Ruth. Very pleasant !

 I was starving hungry when I got home, not having eaten since the previous night,  and had intended to order a kebab with the last of my pocket money. For some reason the number of the local kebab shop just rang and rang without being answered. So I opted for pizza instead. Selecting one of the menus lying on my doormat, where it had been pushed  through the letter box earlier in the day, I decided to go for a "Wednesday Special" This was a large pizza, garlic bread, ice cream, and two cans of drink for £9.95. The pizza I selected was called "Tandoori Hot" and was delicious. I considered leaving some of it for breakfast this morning, but I could not stop eating it until it was all gone.

 I tried to keep my eyes open until 00.10 so I could watch the repeat of The Bill on ITV 3, but I felt too knackered and was in bed by 23.00. I had a mixture of dreamlets that sometimes seemed to flow into one another. Most were tied together by two common themes. I was usually in a medium size house that I might have owned, and was surrounded by very familiar people. They may have been friends, but more likely relatives. Mostly I didn't want to talk to them, but it felt nice having them around. The other constant was that I was usually with a woman. I cannot say her identity because she was constantly morphing between different shapes and sizes, or even a combination of several women. Sometimes it was Max, and sometimes Ruth, but at other times it was  women from my past (and present) who I have loved, or lusted after. Despite all that I would not describe it as an erotic dream (or interwoven dreamlets). There were certain moments, but cuddly probably describes most of the time.
Wednesday 14th September 2005
Weather - dark and windy

 In theory I will be picked up at 06.45 to sort out Ivor's studio. Of course this was supposed to have happened on Monday, but didn't. Maybe it will happen today.

 Tonight would normally be drinking night, but Kevin can't make it and we'll try again tomorrow night. This suits me fine as I will probably be drinking lunchtime. Besides which, after this early morning start, and a slightly late night last night, I will probably be looking forward to an early night in bed.
 I spent most of yesterday transcribing just one audio tape onto the PC and cleaning it up.  That tape was triple play on a 7 inch spool and ran at 1 7/8 inches per second. So there was 6 hours of recording to deal with on each side.  It is not as simple as just recording the audio as it needs a certain amount of cleaning up, and other processing. When I finally gave up for the day I had just 4 hours left to finish the entire spool. It is quite surprising just how good some of it sounds, and not surprising just how bad the rest sounds !  Most of the recording where done in 60, or 90 minute sessions. While waiting for them to record I spent a lot of time reading. That just about sums up my entire day in bulk. There were some odd moments when I spent a little time on this PC downstairs, but they were insignificant compared to the time waiting around upstairs.
Tuesday 13th September 2005
Weather - bright with high clouds

  Today I will be carrying on from yesterday. I am half way through one side of a 12 hour audio tape that I am digitising, cleaning up. and storing as an mp3 archive.

 Tonight I will be trying to get to sleep early so that I can be up early in the morning for another attempt at sorting out Ivor's studio.
 It was a bit disappointing to have got up so very early, and then to be forgotten yesterday. Despite that the day went fairly well. I discovered another interesting tape that was unlabelled and dusty. It has 12 hours of old radio programmes on it dating from 1989. I am pretty sure about the year, and there are hints that some of the programmes are from the month of September, perhaps even exactly 16 years ago to the day. The tape is spliced together from shorter lengths of tape. The side I have been working on has programmes that do not match these lengths of tape exactly so either some beginings, or endings, of the programmes have been lost forever. When I finish this first side I am expecting to find complete programmes on the other side with the beginnings and endings matching the splices.

 All this tape digitising, cleaning, and archiving as mp3's, is interesting, but also frustrating. Perhaps the biggest frustration is an overwhelming curiosity as to what comes next. Sometimes I want to fast forward the tapes to see what is there, but the only logical thing is to play one programme at a time. It is also frustrating that it can only be done in real time. Actually that is not entirely true. The tape I am working on at the moment is recorded at 1 7/8 ips. I could play it at 7 1/2 ips and correct the speed and time in the PC, but I need to hear the audio to be able to find the joins between the programmes.

 One of the annoying, and yet ultimately good for my health, facts about the relative poverty that I now find myself living in is hunger. This is not the hunger of starvation, but the hunger for snacks brought about by boredom or frustration. I had two nutritious meals yesterday, but I wanted more, or perhaps I should say alternatives. Both meals were essentially vegetarian because that is a cheaper option than meat, but I found myself wanting to make a pig of myself with something like as plate of roast lamb with mint sauce, or chunks of tandori chicken. Most of all, several hours after my last meal, and into the early evening while watching TV, I was yearning for some snacks of some form, or even a nice sandwich. Usually on a shopping day I can indulge in these fantasies to a certain extent, but the ingredients soon run out. Despite the days of healthy living, without snacks, I do not seem to be losing any significant amounts of weight.

 The weather is definitely changing towards autumn now. Some afternoons, like yesterday, can be quite warm, but the temperature is now dropping a lot at night. The last few mornings have been quite chilly and this trend will probably continue until we get the frosts of winter. It is amazing to think that over two thirds of a year has passed, and that 2006 begins in only 110 days time (or just over 15 weeks time).

 And finally - from a jumble of images from overnight dreaming comes an interesting (dreamed) quote from Dr Who. "Humans are one of the few species in the galaxy who could foster infant aliens without wanting to eat them, but are also the only species in the galaxy to have invented spam (e-mail)".
Monday 12th September 2005
Weather - feels like autumn

  A slight change of plan !  It seems the plans for today have been forgotten about. So instead I will be spending today, or a fair amount of it, up in my own studio digitising, and cleaning up, some old reel-to-reel tapes.
  The major plan for today is to be picked up in 1 hours time, and driven to Ivor's workplace. Once there I am going to sort out his recording equipment. The idea is that he will be able to record in true stereo, instead of recording just the right hand channel on both the left and right hand channels. I think there may be some other improvements I can make as well. I should be finished by lunchtime when I will get some free beer, and maybe a sandwich as well.  I may go straight home from the pub, or come home a little later.

 I'm now washed and dressed, but it looks like I have run out of time. I'll finish writing later on today.
 Yesterday morning I mooched about, watched some 'Allo 'Allo on UK Gold, before deciding I should do something more contructive. After thinking of this, and thinking of that, I opted to start doing some more digitising, and cleaning, of some old reel to reel tapes I have. I did one three hour recording before discovering an old tape that was recorded back in the early sixties, or possibly even the late fifties by my dad. One side of the tape was pretty boring as it was just test recordings from the radio. These were orchestral pieces probably recorded from The Third Programme (the predecessor of BBC Radio 3). Even the continuity annoucements were of little interest, although I may go back and digitise an announcement by Victor Spinnetti that he is broadcasting via the British Forces Overseas service. It was the second side that had the most fascinating recording. It was recorded in the front of the shop which my dad owned. There is one good piece of a moany custonmer buying some dial cord for his radio, and there is an excellent piece where my mum describes what is happening out in the street. Lastly there is a very poor recording where my dad is making a diagnosis, with some commentary by my mum, of some unidentified piece of equipment which has a motor in it, and is battery powered. At some point I must distribute copies of my cleaned up recordings to my brothers and sisters.
Sunday 11th September 2005
Weather - cool and dry

  I don't know what I will be doing today.
 I started yesterday with an investigation into my dead 120GB hard disk.My educated guess the previous night that the integrated circuit that had blown up was a voltage regulator turned out to be close. In fact it was really a transistor masquerading as an integrated circuit, but its function was as a voltage regulator. It was controlled by a 64 pin integrated circuit, and it was that part that had really failed and caused the explosive demise of the transistor. A search on the internet suggests that it is not an uncommon fault to happen  to that part. So it is back to plan A where one day I find an identical disk drive and swap the circuit boards over so I can check that I have back-ups of all the data on that drive.

 Late afternoon, and into late evening was dominated by a summer storm. The air was thick with humidity while the rain fell and lighning flashed around the sky. Strangely I was spared the worst of the storm. Once  or twice, and before the lighning came close, we had some heavy rainfall, but once west, north and east of here were flashing with huge lightning bolts the rain here was more moderate. There is something odd about the weather over Catford. It seems to be a long time since we have had a storm directly overhead. I am sure this is not fantasy, and there is some sort of evidence to support this idea from the BBC's new weather forecast graphics. You can see this when they show "cloud bubbling up" in the greater London area. There are not many landmarks shown, but it is easy to pick out the loop of the River Thames with Greenwich at the bottom of the loop. Catford is about 3 miles south of the bottom of that loop. For the last few months since they have been showing these new graphics it always seems that Catford is the last place to get rain. The exception is when a heavy band of rain sweeps across London. Nothing spares us from them, but when it is hot air rising causing local storms to arise we are generaly spared.

 By 22.00 (plus or minus 30 minutes) the storm had passed from sight of Catford. There was still some showers, but at last the muggy air had begun to dissipate and the air became much fresher. This morning the air is quite chilly and is such a welcome relief to the sweaty evening of last night.
Saturday 10th September 2005
Weather - drying out after rain

There are probably loads of things I could be doing today. One thing I intend to spend a little time on is investigating a duff hard disk. It is my old 120GB drive that blew up earlier this year. Originally I had given it to Iain who thought he may have had an identical drive. Sadly this turned out not to be the case. If it had been we could have temporarily swapped the circuit boards over so I could read, and recover all my data. I finally got the drive back from Iain yesterday, and have already formed a new opinion about the integrated circuit that has literally blown itself up. I now think it is as simple as some sort of voltage regulator. This improves the odds of being able to repair the drive from almost impossible to almost possible. If I could be sure there was no collateral damage I would say the odds were even looking favourable now. On the other hand there is no telling what damage might have been done if, in it's death throes, that I.C. had squirted 12V into a circuit only designed for 3.3V.

 I am up rather earlier than I wanted. I had an early night, but it turned into a very rough night, and I frequently woke up. It was very hot and steamy last night (it still is inside the house). That made sleeping difficult. Just as soon as I was almost asleep I received two phone calls from someones mobile phone (Domonic's) which had been accidently triggered as they walked home from the pub. Having finally got to sleep I was woken up again by the sound of torrential rain at about midnight, and then again later in the morning (03.00 ?). I then woke up a couple of hours after getting back to sleep feeling like I was boiling over. I had pulled the duvet over my body and was being slowly cooked.  So here I am after only 4 or 5 hours sleep, still feeling hot and sticky, and feeling sure I will be going back to bed once I have cooled off a bit.
 Yesterday was quite good. In the morning I phoned up O2 and found out that my current phone contract is due to expire on the 12th of October. This is good as I can no longer afford to pay for a contract phone. Even better is that they can finally convert my phone to a pay as you go phone - and I will keep my old number. It will cost £5 to do this and I wonder if it is a good thing or not. It would be handy to keep the number as it is on my C.V., but otherwise I already have three other pay as you go SIM cards that rarely get used. Maybe the sensible option would be to revert back to my old Mercury 1-2-1/T-Mobile number. The SIM card for that is still working, and has £9 of credit on it. When I gave up the T-mobile contract to take advantage of a staff offer of an O2 phone they changed it to pay as you go for free. Currently that T-Mobile card sits in an ancient Ericson phone, but is tied to the battery charger as the batteries are dead beyond repair.  If I wave goodbye to O2 I could use the T-Mobile card in the O2 handset which is unlocked for any network.

 A little while after midday I set out to meet Ivor and Iain in The Railway Telegraph in Forest Hill. To save money I walked all the way there. It is only about 1.5 miles, but it almost killed me. It is the furthest I have been away from home in weeks, if not more, and it is certainly the furthest I have walked in months. It did not help that I was walking in the blazing midday sunshine, but half way there I had to stop for a breather. I spent just a minute or so rolling, and lighting a fag, and mopping sweat out of my eyes. I was very surprised that all I needed was just that very short break before all the symptoms of impending death had evaporated, and I was able to continue walking with renewed vigour. I reached the pub gasping for a pint, and very damp with sweat. I did have one other brief stop on the way there to extract a £10 note from a cash machine. Some earlier calculations showed that I could not really afford even hat as I had not previously taken into account some bank charges, but I had said I would spend that much and felt compelled to do so. It was just enough to buy the entire first round.

 After a couple of pints it had been my intention to go home again in a reasonable state to do something productive in the afternoon. But after a couple of pints my will power had evaporated. Besides which I was not looking forward to walking home again even if most of it would now be mostly downhill. So after getting a promise that Ivor would give me a lift when he left for home, and that I would not be inveigled into the late shift with Iain, I joined in the journey to The Herne via Ivor's workplace.

 We had another few pints in The Herne, but sadly we were not joined by Max or Ruth. Eventually Ivor said it was time to go, aand we left Iain in there to carry on drinking until late into the evening. Apart from some congested roads that slowed us down a lot it was a very pleasant drive in Ivor's air conditioned car. Although it had been very bright, hot, and sunny earlier, it was now heavily overcast, but the rain had not started. The  ambience in the car matched the view outside. It was quite cool with a slight damp feeling, but as soon as I got out again it was like stepping into a sauna. The  air felt horribly hot and sticky. It may have been slightly cooler indoors, but not by that much.

 I slowly acclimatised myself to the real temperature, but I was starving hungry and had to cook myself a hot meal. I felt too hot, too stuffed, and too full of booze to do anything apart from watch some TV for the rest of the evening. As 21.00 approached I thought I may as well go to bed.  Of course, by the time I was actually almost in bed the effects of the day had almost worn off and I was actually starting to feel alert. I still went to bed and tried to sleep, but it felt hot and uncomfortable. By 22.00 I was just about asleep before Dominics mobile phone had accidently phoned my number and I stayed awake listening to him leaving a pub somewhere and start to make his way home. The rest of the night I have already described.
Friday 9th September 2005
Weather - bright and sunny

 Today I am reasonably happy. My bank account is back in the black, and I have a tiny surplus of money available. So I am considering going for a quick pint lunchtime to use up that surplus - about £10. After that I will be totally skint again for another fortnight, but at least all the bills have now been paid.

As I write this there is one of the more unusual sights of Catford in the back garden There are a pair of cats that are usually seen together. One is totally white, and the other totally black. The stray cat has just seem them off using some pretty foul cat language. She is master of the territory around here, but is still subservient to Nellyn who is allowed to cuff the stray cat if it gets in her way ! It is about time I gave the stray cat a name. I am contemplating something stupid like smudge because it has what looks like a dirty mark just to the side of it's nose which is otherwise all white.
 Yesterday started off pretty bad. I was very short of money and the cats were in danger of going hungry, and I was in danger of severe nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Finally, late in the afternoon, the money I had been expecting from almost the start of week finally arrived in my account. So I made a beeline for Tesco where I stocked up on tobacco, catfood, and human food. After several days of fairly bland, but possibly almost healthy food (the Wednesday night fried chicken excepted), I bought some crap and made myself feel almost ill, but happily bloated by last night. Today my dole has been paid in as well. All my bills have now been paid and I have a whole £10 to spare (to be pedantic even that is not truely spare).

 I spent the morning changing over the 30GB hard disk in my studio PC for a 40GB disk. During that time I did a lot of benchmarking and found the disk I took out actually performed faster when connected via an external USB interface. For some weird reason it was not talking properly to the IDE controller as it seemed to be stuck in PIO mode and not Ultra DMA. The new disk has installed properly and is as fast as the existing system disk. With the new (data) disk, and the newly formatted (system) disk, that PC is running much faster, and feels like it is back to how it used to be before something odd happened. Now I hope that my old 30GB disk will perform properly in the Macintosh computer that the 40GB disk was intended for, but didn't work. Sooner or later I will get the good, or bad, news from either Ivor or Iain.
Thursday 8th September 2005
Weather - hazy sky

   I'm not sure what I am doing up at this time of the morning. I had a late drunken night, and this morning I have had insufficient sleep, and a light hangover.

 My day will probably be dominated by hard disks. Last night I obtained a 40GB hard disk. I made a plea for one after I thought one of the disks in my studio recorder was failing, but it turned out that it was a problem with Windows causing very slow read/write. The new hard dsik was originally bought for a Mac computer, but it may be that it is too big for the IDE controller to recognise it's drive geometry. So I am going to swap it for my 30GB disk. If the Mac has a 32GB ceiling then it should work OK and I will be able to increase my storage capacity by 10GB.

 Just swapping the hard disks in my machine will be easy, although it will take a little time to transfer about 24GB via a USB connection. The thing that will absorb a lot of my time in pointless experimenting will be when I try and read the current contents of the new hard disk, and ideally back them up somehow. What should be on there is a complete fresh installation of MAC OSX. This could be useful if I were ever to try out a Linux program called Pear PC that can emulate the Power PC architecture of a modern Mac. I believe the latest version can run at a mind numbingly one fortieth of the native speed of the machine it is running on. That may be too slow to be useful, but still an interesting diversion.

 As I write this, the money I was expecting to appear in my bank account has still not appeared. I feel badly let down by this.
 Yesterday was spent almost exclusively in my studio. I decided that something had to be done about the slowing down of the Windows 2000 PC up there. The only answer was to reformat the main system disk, and then to re-install Windows from new. First I had to back up some important data on the system disk by transferring it all to the data disk. There was one folder that contained about 1.5GB of data, and it took sometime in excess of 15 minutes before it had transferred across. I don't know the exact time because I got bored and left it to it. Transferring it back after the reinstallation took just over 4 minutes ! So I had made a significant improvement.

 It took until early in the afternoon before I had finished the installation of Windows and all the software I need on that PC. So naturally I had to test it all by recording an hour of audio, and then process it. The final verdict was that it was all working slickly again. The only anomoly is that about 5 minutes before the end of  the one hour recording session the record level "meters" dropped to zero. And I mean absolute zero. Even with no signal there is noise visible down at the bottom end. It worried me, but I kept on recording and it recorded OK. So I don't know what happened there. Maybe it is just one of windows "things" !

 In the evening I went out to the pub for a drink with Kevin and Iain. Initially I was reluctant to go as I had no money, and I was on the dregs of my last tobacco. Fortunately I was persuaded by both Iain and Kevin that I ought to go as they both had reasons for wanting me to be there. Kevin wanted me to pick up a pocket memory drive that had some video taken on his digital camera in ASF format that he wants me to convert to a more standard format. Iain wanted me bring some copies of some artwork I had designed for a CD case. It seems that somehow the original artwork files had got screwed up when sent as an e-mail attachement. I had previously explained my dilemna to both Kevin and Iain, and so I was very pleasantly surprised when Iain thrust a £20 note in my hand as a loan for beer and fags. Then when Kevin came in he dropped a packet of fags on the table for me.  That was after I had bought a packet from the pub machine. So I had 40 fags and money to buy a round. Before going to the pub I had an idea for a money raiser. I had a mostly unused 4 Mpixel digital camera here. It can produce some stunning pictures under the right conditions, but suffers just one disadvantage - it suffers from bad shutter lag. The picture is actually taken as late as a whole second after the shutter is pressed. That is fine for static pictures, portraits etc, but tricky when filming moving things like a train rushing through a station. So I took it to the pub to see if anyone was interested in buying it. I think Iain has taken me up on the offer. As closing time approached I suggested he buy one more round on my behalf, and pay for one round for me next week, and with the £20 he had already given me we would call it quits.  So I left the pub feeling very happy. My immediate debts repaid, and a drink in the pipeline for next week (unless Iain is not happy with the camera, although at something equivalent to under £40 it is a bit of a bargain). With change still clinking in my pocket, feeling a bit drunk, and also feeling that I had not eaten anything really nice (= junk food) recently, I found myself drawn to the chicken shop.

 So I came home feeling supremely happy with junk food to eat, beer in my belly, and TV to watch (repeat of The Bill on ITV3). It's shame that it was bad mistake to spend the money on chicken and chips. With the money I have been expecting in my bank account for the last few days still not appearing, I could have more usefully spent that money on catfood. Both cats have now been fed for the morning, but I have only one sachet of food, and one tin of disgusting "value" catfood left now. My dole should be paid in tomorrow so it looks as if I will queing outside Tesco, waiting for it to open, armed with my debit card to buy food for two hungry cats.
Wednesday 7th September 2005
Weather - slight haze

  Will my money become available today ? Not as yet it seems ! This rather puts a damper on any plans I might have had for today. In theory tonight is drinking night, but I don't think I will be going if I am forced to start recycling dog ends for tobacco. Let's hope that money can still be credited to my account later today - perhaps after the start of banking business ? I know that in the bastard world of banking business, withdrawals are made before deposits, so there must be some arbitary time when the changeover happens. I think I am being wildly optimistic that the time has not arrived yet. I'll check again after 09.00 - just in case.

 Apart from wanting to spend money I am not sure what I plan to do today. One possibility it to re-install Windows 2000 on my studio PC. It has been feeling very slow and sluggish lately. I have enough protection on it to make me think that it is not infected. My worst fear is that one of the hard disks is failing, and that the slowdown is because it is having read/write difficulties. What I do know is that I have allowed it to become bloated with unnecessary software. So perhaps a major spring clean is due.

 I was just about to move on and describe yesterday when I spotted movement in my back garden. My latest visitor was a grey squirrel. I have never seen a squirrel out there before, although they are plentiful in the local park just a few hundred yards away. It didn't stay long. Having travelled all the way along the fence, only to discover there is a house in the way, it went back the way it came, and I last saw it disappearing over next doors shed.
 It feels as if nothing much happened yesterday, and yet I wasn't bored so I must have done something. For some of the morning I was researching information, and options, for shoutcasting. I was wondering if there was a solution that could make use of an old Apple Mac that is not much good for many things, but would make an ideal server. It appears there was once a program called Liquid Streamer that may have done the job, but I did not finding a working link to it after seeking here , there and everywhere.

 It was not until it was getting close to midday that I went out and carefully spent most of my remaining £7. For that I bought 25gm of tobacco, 12 sachets of catfood, one bottle of Tesco diet cola, and finally a packet of Tesco value peanuts.

 During the afternoon I was distracted by Jodie coming over to use the studio. When Jodie finally left I was able to start preparing my dinner. I could have started earlier, but it did involve several cloves of garlic, and Jodie hates garlic !  I was fortunate in that I had been given three gigantic courgettes, and some tomatoes that were surplus from Lee's garden. I have never really had much to do with courgettes before - specially giant ones. So I had to invent a recipe to use one (or just a half of one in this case). I started by sweating a largeish onion, and three cloves of garlic in olive oil until they were just starting to brown. Then I added chopped courgette and tomatoes, and continued cooking for another 10 minutes (perhaps a little less). The last ingredients were a small tin of black eyed beans and about half a pint of some old cheap white wine. I let that simmer for enough time for the liquid to reduce quite a lot, then I served it. Originally I was going to serve it with pasta, but in the end I could not be bothered. So I had it as it was. I have to admit, for a random, invented-as-it-was-made recipe, it was delicious.
Tuesday 6th September 2005
Weather - sun and showers

   The money that I was counting up to be in my bank account has not appeared yet. This is a bit of a blow. I hope my benefactor was not mistaken in his belief that he had transferred the money last week. So this morning I will have to stretch out my last £7 of cash on some tobacco and some catfood. I was hoping I would be able to buy some diet cola as well, but maybe it won't stretch to that. So no caffeine fix for me today.

 I have three choices of things to do today. I could either try out Linspire on a more modern, and Linux friendly, machine, or I could do some preliminary experiments with shoutcast (or equivalent) technology, and finally I could spend some time in my studio. I may end up doing all three, but that depends on how much time each takes to do.

 The renewed interest in shoutcast is because I am currently listening to Howard doing test transmissions from Suffolk. He is using a Windows solution, but if I do it I may do it the hard way and use a Linux solution.
 Yesterday finally brought some success with the frustrating new PC build. Within a short time of restarting work on it I had solved the problem that was causing all sorts of grief. The cure was to shuffle around the PCI cards. I can think of two possible explanations for what was going on. The first was that one of the PCI slots on the motherboard was faulty. The second is that there was some sort of race condition where the sound card and network card were confusing each other as the operating system was trying to set up plug and play. I doubt I will ever know the true explanation, but I am just thankful that it is sorted out OK.

 I never did get Linspire to run again as the Linux boot option. I think it was having difficulties with the graphics card or something, but Xandros worked OK.

 I surprised myself with just how useable that machine was with only a 300MHz processor. Using Windows, and Cool Edit Pro it seemed to be doing things as fast as my 1.4 GHz Athlon machine upstairs. This was mainly illusion. I was only working on a 3 minute sample of music, and most of the work was probably happening in RAM. On the machine upstairs I am routinely working on 2 hour blocks of music (and last weekend a huge file lasting 6 hours !). A 2 hour music file needs 1.2GB when opened out as a wave file, and none of my machines has over 1GB of Ram, let alone the close on 4GB required to hold a 6 hour file !

 I continued to play with that machine (named Redsky on my network) until about 17.00. Then I screwed the back on and put it away until it is needed. After that I had some dinner and watched TV. The TV got pretty boring by 20.00, although there was something on later that looked worth watching (I cannot remember what), but I decided I ought to treat myself to an early night after not getting to bed until 02.00 that morning. By 21.00 I was in bed and falling asleep.
Monday 5th September 2005
Weather - damp and gloomy

   After another hour or two of sleep I think I feel a little better. Whatever happens today, I must try to avoid playing with computers into the early hours of the morning.

 Having just checked my bank account, one of the things I won't be doing today is going out to buy catfood, or tobacco. Both are at a critical point, and things will be a little tricky if some money that should appear in my account soon does not appear tomorrow.

 I will probably be amusing myself for a lot of the day by carrying on with the frustrating task of trying to get a new dual boot PC set up. It is frustrating in that there are a lot of unknowns involved (in particular a motherboard that is old and battered and may be faulty). Later this afternoon Jodie may come over to use the studio.
    I feel like a zombie this morning. I didn't get to bed until close to 02.00, and then there was a massive downpouring of rain with at least one very loud clap of thunder. I don't know when I finally fell asleep, but I am sure I have had less than 5 hours sleep. So I am going back to bed now and will finish this writing later.
 Yesterday had its good points and its bad points. The good points were the steam hauled train going through Catford Bridge station. I managed to capture two reasonable video clips of it. Once as it headed out into Kent, and once on its return journey back to London.

 The rest of the day I spent tearing my hair out trying to get a new dual boot machine built. I decided to take the Pentium Pro motherboard out of the case and substitute a Pentium II/300MHz motherboard in its place.  Then with two freshly wiped 10GB hard disks I staarted to install first Windows ME , and then Linspire.  Windows ME seemed to install OK, but I was using a slightly funny PCI network card that needs special drivers.  Linspire found it OK, but unsurprisingly couldn't find the ancient ISA sound card I had left in the machine.  So in a moment of madness I replaced the network card, sound card and also the graphics card and memory. From then on things went downhill fast. I screwed up Windows by using the wrong sound card drivers and software, and I couldn't even re-run the Linspire installation disk to gain access to the the Linspire installation. It is not worth describing the rest of what I did, but by 01.30 I was sure that something in the PC has an obscure fault - possibly only when used in conjunction with something else. I think I'll be wasting lots of time today testing alternatives.
Sunday 4th September 2005
Weather - misty, murky and overcast

   I think I slept well last night, although some idiot woke me at around 03.00 by dialling a wrong number. I could do with a little more sleep, but I have an important mission for this morning. At 09.33 a steam hauled train is due to pass through Catford Bridge Station. This is a bit of a rare happening,and I want to be there with my camcorder to film it. The train itself is the "Hop Pickers Special" and has been chartered by the Shepherd Neame brewery in conjunction with the Faversham town festival (whatever that is). I'll also be trying to film it on the return journey back to London at around 19.00.

 I think I will be spending a few hours today, possibly a lot more, playing with a new Linux distribution I downloaded yesterday. It is Linspire, formerly called Lindows. Alhough it is Linux it is heavily configured to look and act in a very similar way to Windows. Apparently it is capable of running a lot of Windows software as well. Normally this would be a paid for distribution, but for a limited time it is available as a free download. I think it is a full copy I downloaded, but it is possible it is a slightly crippled version in an attempt to drum up sales of the full version. In at least one way it is definitely crippled. The full purchased box set would almost certainly come with documentation and other manuals etc.
 I felt dreadfully tired for a lot of yesterday. By mid afternoon the effects of my bad night were making themselves felt. It was a relief when I finally got to bed at around 23.00. Ideally I would have got to bed a lot earlier than that, but I had to wait for the studio computer to finish processing some files, and then get them uploaded.

 I dared to look at my bank account yesterday. I am into my overdraft, but my immediate bills had been paid, and I still had £11 left to spend. £8.70 of that was spent on tobacco, which won't last more than a few days, and now I have no money left to buy catfood. I hope some more money will appear in my account next Tuesday, maybe Wednesday, or if I am very lucky on Monday. So the cats are on 3/4 rations until then (or 7/8ths if they don't waste any).

 I spent a lot of yesterday in my studio. The first thing I did before actually using it was to make a repair/modification to the mixer. Over the years it has developed a nasty click whenever one of the pre-fade listen buttons was used. Some say the click has been there for the last 20 years, but with the advent of digital recording, and even more recently digital signal processing, that click became very annoying. My modification has not eliminated it, but has reduced it to more sensible proportions. I then had to record a 2 hour test "tape", and spent more time digitally re-processing and uploading it.

 During the evening I fancied some booze. Sitting both within, and on top of my fridge I have 8 or 9 bottles of cheap plonk originally given away with Indian or Chinese takeaways. Many of those bottles have been standing around for as much as the last 5 years. As an experiment I opened a bottle of Lambrusco. I expected it to be like vinegar, but it was delicious. I drank a whole 75cl bottle and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately because it was cheap give away stuff it was only 4% - a fact I only realised when I wondered why I was not getting drunk. I am wondering if that bottle was the exception to the rule, and that all the other bottles will be rancid. There is some slight hope that a few may be OK. The Lambrusco had a screw top instead of a cork, and few others are like this. I would not be surprised if the ones with corks will have gone sour where the corks have dried out (thay have been stored upright instead of on their sides). Maybe I might test one tonight.
Saturday 3rd September 2005
Weather - overcast

    It is now a far more reasonable time to be up in the morning, and I am still alive ! After going back to bed at 04.00 I had more time to contemplate some of my aches and pains. One thing became immeadiately apparent - it was a lot cooler than when I had first got into bed at around 23.00 last night. To get comfortable I had to haul over the duvet that I had left out of the duvet cover when I changed my bed linen recently. Very soon my legs felt warmer, although my upper torso felt just a tiny bit warmer than I would normally like.

 So some of my pains could probably be explained away by me twisting and turning trying to stay warm as the temperature dropped rapidly outside, and a frigid breeze blew in through the open window. Even this morning my neck feels a little stiff, but most of the other pains have disappeared. I am wondering if at least one of the other pains I had was acid reflux (heartburn) caused by a late snack of tomatoes (with a light drizzle of olive oil and basil) and some grated cheese.

 By now all my debits scheduled for the first part of the month should have left my bank account. In theory I should still have some money left that I can draw on, albeit dipping into my overdraft. There will be some more money entering my account in a few days time, and even more when my dole is paid in next Friday. It is today that I need some money as I have just run out of tobacco (apart from my emergency reserve) and I need to visit Tesco this morning and stock up. I think I feel brave enough to inspect my account right now !!
   I have just recently woken up with a terrific load of pains around the neck, spine and sternum. It feels like I was sleeping with my nech twisted through a right angle in all the x, y, and z axis ! So I thought I'd come downstairs and check my e-mail (nothing exciting) and write about the pain I am in. The pain is hard to describe accurately. It is not very strong, and seems to have no specific origin. It loosely starts a few inches below shoulder level, and continues up to about ear level. Most strange !  Perhaps I am about to die, but I want to get in a few more hours sleep before I do that, and I need to spend a few hours in my studio as well. Then I'll consider it.
 I finally finished my workshop project yesterday. It was done in two sessions. The first in the morning, up to around midday, and then in the evening from 21.00 to 22.30.  I am rather glad it is finished as I have some other stuff that wil be a lot quicker to do that I want to get on with. I still have a frequency counter in bits where I started to modify it. I put that to one side as I have not fully worked out just how I am going to do the modification.

 A great chunk of yesterday afternoon, over three hours of it, I spent composing, and typing a letter of complaint to The Job Centre. They have written to me again about a job I enquired about, but did not apply for. I have already answered their questions once saying that the job, on reflection, contained too many requirements that I could not easily hope to satisfy. After all there is only so much bullshit you can include in a job application. Having fully answered all their queries on one form, I had another form through yesterday asking pretty much the same questions in a slightly different way. I will be answering that form, but I have also written a two page letter to the Job Centre manager complaining of being victimised for trying too hard by enquiring about jobs that are a little way outside my usual role. I am aware that my arguments will probably cut little ice, and could even rebound on me, but I had to say something about how irritaing the accusatory tone of their enquiries are. Their take on it is that they offered me a job and I turned it down in contradiction to my job seekers agreement. My take on it is that I found a job whose description was close to what I could do and commited the sin of wanting to make further enquiries about it. On further reflection I considered that there were too many requirements that I could not fully satisfy, and so did not apply for the job. If they persist in this silliness my next step may be to send in a formal job application for the post of Job Centre manager. I will point out that just because I have no previous experience it should be no bar to employment, and that I do have my own date stamp and supply of paperclips ! Also, after 20 years working for Post Office Telephones/BT, I am fully conversant with civil service paper shuffling techniques. By their argument I would seem to be fully qualified to take on the job.
Friday 2nd September 2005
Weather - cold before dawn

 The sun is not up yet, and the breeze coming through the window feels icy. Later on it is forecast to be a warm day with temperatures up to the low to mid twenties. I was woken up by the sound of foxes jumping over the back fence several times. At least I assum ethat is what it was as I could not actually see anything in the dark. The stray cat was sitting on the old chair outside and seemed unconcerned with the noise, but  thought I would come down and see what was going on. Both cats have now been fed and have gone out undeterred by the idea of foxes on the prowl.

 Today I need to spend another couple of hours in my workshop and I will finish my latest project. It's been a long hard slog, but it will have been worth it. Later on today I should be spending some time on my studio, but first of all, once I have finished my writing, I will be going back to bed until 07.00 at the earliest.
 Yesterday, while cooler than the previous day, was still fairly hot. During my quick visit to Tesco I remembered to check the price of food dyes. The little 38ml bottles were 31p each so I bought one of each of the nearest I could get to yellow, cyan and magenta. I know the yellow is a pretty good match to the correct colour for inkjet printing, but the cyan and magenta substitutes will probably give some strange colour effects. I have refilled the colour cartridge of the Epsom printer upstairs. This has a fault where the jets are always clogging and only on rare occasions have I ever got a photographic quality print from it. It was a freebie, so if I wreck it further it is little loss.  It has been ages since I last had any colour ink in that printer so the colour jets are clogged and crusty. I started to get some ink through them yesterday after many cleaning sessions, but today, now the ink has settled down, and any bubbles should have dissipated, I will give it another intensive try to get smooth colour printing out of it. When that happens I will see how a photograph prints on it.

 I spent another 3 or 4 hours in my workshop yesterday. I am now definitely close to putting in the final screws, and doing the final polish. I'll be quite glad when it is all over as this project has dragged a lot longer than I had imagined. If some of the hot days had been cooler, and some of the murky days brighter, I could have spent longer up there and finished sooner.
Thursday 1st September 2005
Weather - slightly hazy

Despite a mild hangover, and feeling uncomfortable warm and sticky, the first job of today is to cobble together this page, and this first entry for September. I am not very happy with it yet, but it will do for a start. I'll modify it in due course.

 Once I am up and dressed I think I'll go to Tesco and see if they have any new stocks of their own brand diet cola. When I last went they were out of stock. I'll see if I can remember to satisfy my curiosity about the price of food colourings for use as cheap and dirty ink jet refill ink as well.

 I need to spend a little more time in my workshop today. I am very near the end of my project, and I can't wait to finish with it as it is now getting boring.
  Yesterday was a steamingly hot day. Even by my backdoor, which is in permanent shade, the temperature was close to 30° C. It was cooler indoors for a lot of the day, but towards the evening the heat had penetrated the house. Even this morning my bedroon feels like an oven. I slept fairly well, aided by about 4 (5 ?) pints of Stella Artois, but woke a few times with my pillow saturated with sweat.

 Despite the heat outside I was able to spend 3 or 4 hours in my workshop, but at 15.00 I decided to have a siesta. I lay on my bed for nearly two hours occasionally dozing off. I can't say I really woke up feeling refreshed. By 19.00 I thought it was about time I made myself presentable to go to the pub later. I had an aalmost, but not quite, cold shower and shampoo. For about 5 minutes I felt very refreshed, but then I had to put some clothes on and move back into the hot interior of the house.

 When I left for the pub the air outside was very hot and steamy. The daytime heat had "boiled up" some cloud and there was the lightest of light showers as I walked to the pub. It provided very little relief to the ambience. Inside the pub the air conditioning was struggling if it was on. It was cooler inside, but not by much. Both Kevin and I had a permanent film of sweat on our foreheads. After a pleasant few pints I found it was a little cooler outside. There was no sign that there had been any additional rain, and it seems to have stayed dry overnight. The forecast was for a few thunderstorms last night, but there did not appear to be any within earshot of here. The forecast predicts some rain today, and there is a lot of cloud at the moment, but it does not look thick enough for rain - yet !
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