MARCH 2005
Document made with Nvu
Welcome to Catford Bridge



Thursday 31st March 2005

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07.20 BST

Weather - cold , damp and miserable

 Yesterday was a deeply depressing day. It was not just the weather, which was very gloomy. It was not the lack of job/money, or various other related things which get you down, but I had some bad news. For the last few months it has been apparent that the odds of developing a long term relationship with Patricia were no better than hitting the jackpot on the lottery. It has now got worse and the odds are moe like winning the lottery in two consecutive weeks. She is definitely going back to Argentina. In fact she has her flight booked. I knew the likelyhood of this was very high, but it still came as a shock to hear it yesterday morning. What made the shock even more devestating was the date she is flying out. It is the day after my birthday in June. So I will be starting my second half century with nothing to look forward to, and nothing to hope for.

 It all made for a terrible day yesterday. I spent the morning at the college just going through the motions. In the afternoon I felt very irritable at the internet cafe. I got home from there quite late (18.00) and had little time to have some food, let it settle down, and get to the pub. It was the time required for the food to settle that was in short supply. I got to the pub still feeling rather full. This meant I could not get too enthusiastic about getting drunk as I could not force the pints down. I did have it in mind to get totally drunk, but could only reach slightly tipsy.

 This morning I do have a hint of a hangover, but it is totally insignificant compared to my ongoing depression about Patricia. Today there is nothing I have to do (apart from changing Nelly's stinking litter tray) so I am going to do whatever takes my fancy at the time. I am now convinced, more than ever, that this century is a bad one, and I can't wait for it to finish.

Wednesday 30th March 2005

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06.30 BST

Weather - dull, miserable and wet

 I managed to get up a little earlier this morning. It was only half an hour, but I'm getting there. I'm not sure why I wanted to get up so early as it is a dull, miserable, and wet morning. Fortunately we seemed to have missed the worst of the March winds, but it seems the April showers have started early.

 Yesterday was mostly nondescript, but there were a couple of highlights. On my way to buy my weekly bus pass for college I bumped into Patricia. She was looking nice in a new pink coat and we stopped for a brief chat. I saw her again for no more than 90 seconds when she left work after I waited outside for her. She was in a hurry to go somewhere. From the direction she went in I couldn't guess where she was off to, but I had time to give her an easter egg (actually a chocolate orange because I couldn't find a proper easter egg in the shops). If I am quick I may be able to see her for a few minutes this morning.

 The rest of yesterday was split three ways. The morning was college, and the afternoon at the internet cafe. There had been some excitement there that I was lucky to miss. The system disk in the server had died last Thursday afternoon (or evening). Apparently it was pretty chaotic. The server was still dead when I went in there yesterday, but as it does very little business carried on as normal using the PC at the front of the shop to run the Cafeeze client timing software. There were two jobs there that I had to do. Neither was finished when I left. The PC used (mainly) by the Boss's wife at home was having a total re-install. He had backed up all the data on it so I was free to re-format the hard disk and attempt to install Windows 2000. That kept failing with Windows 2000 reporting a hardware fault (but not saying what hardware it didn't like). So I started again from the beginning with Windows ME. That installed with no problems apart from being unable to install the correct graphic drivers (a task for this afternoon). The second job was a laptop that would not boot properly. It was running (or tryinmg to run) Windows XP. Even in safe mode it would crash as soon as it tried to bring up the desktop (as far as I can judge). With no Windows XP disk available it was not possible to do much with it, but I found it did run Knoppix perfectly - even the power saver features for an Athlon Mobile processor. Today I will try a few more things to try and get it to run. One possibility is to run Knoppix again and make backups of all the home directories over the network before wiping everything and installing Windows 2000. It would be a brutal method, but a lot quicker than spending hours and hours mucking about with the internals of Windows XP.

 The third part of yesterday was what was left of the evening at home. I spent some of it making more back-up copies of software to use at the internet cafe so I can leave my precious originals at home. In between doing that there was a new episode of Enterprise to watch on TV. By 22.00 I was feeling like it was definitely time for bed. I did not pay that much attention to the actual time, but I am sure by 23.00 I had been asleep for some time.

 Today starts much the same as yesterday. The difference comes in the evening when it is Wednesday night drinking time again.

Tuesday 29th March 2005

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07.00 BST

Weather - rain expected

 According to the weather forecasts there is rain expected today. The day is actually starting very similar to yesterday which actually turned out to be not too bad with some sunny intervals. It was fairly mild as well.

 It is tempting to say that I did not do much yesterday. It felt like a fairly relaxed and lazy day, but I do have some things to show for it. In the morning I went out to both Tesco and Poundstretcher. At the latter I bought 3 items. There was a special offer "10% extra" pack of blank CDR disks. 33 disks (in jewel cases) for £10 is not a bad deal ! I also bought a CD wallet to hold 24 disks, and a universal remote control. The remote control was a snip at only £3, but unfortunately it does not do what I want it to do (control a Yamada 5520 DVD player). In Tesco I just bought an assortment of food.

 I spent a fair time copying data CD's so I could take the copies to the internet cafe (in the new CD wallet) and leave my precious originals safely at home. Later on I finally looked at Jodie's mum's VHS machine. Sadly I declared it a write off. The power supply has blown up in a destructive way making repair extra difficult (although perhaps not totally impossible), and the PCB is carbonised in places. It is the carbonisation that would make a reliable and safe repair very unpredicatable. If it were my machine I might chance it, but if there were a few more blow-ups during the repair process the cost of parts would soon add up to near the price of a cheap factory refurb machine ( ~£25  - see www.morgancomputers.co.uk ).

 After passing on the bad news about the VHS machine I still had some spare time on my hands so I spent another hour, or so, in my studio. I also filled in some spare time reading the magazine PC Pro. It was a bit of an extravagance buying it, but it was the first glossy PC magazine I have bought in many months. I primarily bought it for the copy of Xandros (Linux distro) on the cover disk. Xandros is an (allegedly) easy introduction to a Debian based Linux. I did give it a brief try once I had burnt the disk from the iso image on the magazine cover DVD. Although there was practically no documentation with it I got the impression you could use it as a "live CD" without having to install it. So I tried it. It looked very pretty when it started up, but crashed to a black screen once it had detected all my hardware. I presume it did not like my graphics card (or something). I'll be trying it on a different PC sometime and see how it fares then.

 This morning I set my alarm for 06.00 but when it went off I decided it was just too early considering I had not got to sleep until gone midnight. I woke up again all by myself some 45 minutes later. Today is split into two halves (or three if you really want to be pedantic). The first half is a 4 hour session at Greenwich, and the second is an unknown time at the internet cafe. The third uncounted part is when I get home and can finally relax.

Monday 28th March 2005
Bank Holiday
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07.00 BST

Weather - mostly grey

 Yesterday was a mostly lazy day. I did pop out for a short while around dinner time to do a bit of shopping. I was very surprised when I found not only Tesco closed, but Pound Stretcher closed as well. Tesco I could believe because they are open today, but Pound Stretcher never seems to close ! I wanted some blank CDR's to do some backing up of data, and Pound Stretcher do some very reasonably priced ones. I guess I'll try again today.

  I think I wasted a lot of yesterday watching TV. I watched about the last 30 - 40 minutes of "Around The World In 80 Days" starring David Niven. I can't recall seeing it before. It seemed a harmless and amusing little romp. The rest of what I watched was mostly educational stuff on the UK History channel.

 This morning I have been having a fight with Nvu - the HTML authoring programme I am now using to write these pages. It has decided to completely ruin the table formatting whenever I try to join "selected cells" together. Mozilla composer was doing it as well, but eventually I got around it by only using the "join cell to the right" command. I think the page is now looking a bit better than it started. I will use Nvu on it's own to compose April's page instead of starting in Mozilla and changing over half way through. Hopefully it will behave itself a little better, although I may change the format slightly to use one or two of the very subtle changes that Nvu has in its collection of tools. There is one I want to play with that sounds most useful. It is a tool to insert a calendar. I don't know quite what it will do, but hopefully it will take the tedium out of handcrafting the calendar that I add every month. One other very useful thing is that Nvu has a spell checker. At the moment it wants to spell everything the American way, but I have just installed a British dictionary that may start working after I restart Nvu.

 Today the most important thing is to repair Jodie's mum's VHS machine. After that will come shopping. I still want some more blank CDR disks, and some extra food in the house might be useful as well.

Sunday 27th March 2005

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07.30 BST

Weather - dull and overcast

 Overnight several things have changed. Perhaps the most obvious is that the clocks have changed and we are now running on British Summer Time. The next change is slightly less obvious, but there is a clue above. I have now switched to using Nvu to compose these pages. This going to cause some confusion as the text size appears far bigger on the screen, and yet the actual size is identical to when I was using Mozilla composer. The other change you will find no clues for. I am now using Thunderbird as an e-mail client.

 I don't think anything happened yesterday until 17.25. I had intended to go to the internet cafe in the morning, but that never happened. Instead I decided to play with monitors and printers. I think I have finally given up on trying to coax some life out of the HP printer, but I have settled on an Apple monitor for Ruth's friends new PC. I guess the package is complete and I ought to phone Ruth today and tell her the good news.

 The highlight of yesterday was the start of the new Dr Who series. It was proceeded by another retrospective of Dr Who that was aired at 17.25. There was nothing very remarkable about it apart from the BBC choosing to use a few short clips of Radio Caroline to set the mood for the early 1960's. At 19.00 the fist episode of the new Dr Who was shown. I had many misgivings about it. I was worried that the modern special effects would detract from the charm of the programme, but I was wrong. There were some things I was not happy about, but overall I enjoyed it a lot. The first thing I did not like was the new theme music. It did not sound nearly as punchy as it's predecessors. The next thing was the interior of the TARDIS. It was over weird and too alien. The one saving grace was that it was not completely over the top as it was in the American made film. My last moan is not as valid as the previous ones. I thought that it was too fast paced. It wasn't quite as gross as MTV style TV, but it never gave you the chance to analyze what was going on. Hopefully it was not a true reflection of all the new programmes. It was a first episode designed to re-introduce a load of stuff and set the characters up, and of course to be an attention grabber. I do look forward to future episodes to see how it develops.

 Once Dr Who had finished (plus a a little more "making of" type stuff on BBC3) there was nothing on TV to grab my attention so it was back to the PC. It was then that I installed Thunderbird and played around with the workings of Nvu. I do like the way that Thunderbird (and firefox) are installed on a Linux box - just unpack the archive and start using. Somehow it finds all the system bits needed to make it work (printers etc.). I suppose it makes the download bigger, but it is far better than mucking about with all the dependency problems of RPM installations. I presume that it would probably work first time with any Linux distribution. I wish more developers would consider using this method when I consider the aggro I had trying to satisfy all the conflicting dependencies while installing Audacity. I can see it has some downsides though.  It is only installed for one user as it is installed in my home directory, and it is not added to the KDE start menu (although making a desktop icon is the simple way around that).

 I was able to get to bed at a reasonable time last night although I did stay awake reading until gone 23.00. I had one fairly long dream during the night that I can still remember some details from.  In this dream I was sleeping under a glass topped shelter at the back of the garden. I am not sure why this was because I knew I had a perfectly good bedroom that I could have slept in. The location for this was my old house from when I was a kid (19 Silvermere Rd - now demolished to make way for a multi-storey car park). The dream appeared to start with me waking up (odd but true). It was light and the birds were twittering. Looking through the back fence I could see into another back garden which had a variety of bird life in it. There was one strange bird that had long legs like a heron (or something), but had a spotted body like a thrush. The oddest thing was its face. It looked like a cross between a fox and a hippo. Then there was a large crow that was pushing a kids toy pram for no apparent reason. While considering this I was distracted by a minor crash as a washing line two garden away crashed down taking all the washing on it down as well. There was a woman there who had been attempting to take the washing in (she would be categorised as a milf, but I'll not attempt to explain that here). This left me a slight dilemna as to how I could discretely get out of my bed and pull some clothes on while she was in sight. I managed to pull on some underpants while still under the covers, but found that I already had a shirt on, and that I was already wearing inside out jeans. As I stood up I noticed that to my left there was a xmas tree with lights on it. I went into the house and there were xmas decorations up in there as well. So I asked my mum (now deceased) why they were still up in March as she was always at pains to make sure they were all down by twelfth night. Her only answer was that she liked them. At that point my memory fades away but I am sure the dream continued beyond there with vague memories of one, or both my sisters appearing somewhere.

 The only definite plan I have for today is to wash my hair. Beyond that I will make things up as I go.

Saturday 26th March 2005

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07.00 GMT

Weather - clear sky and sunny

 The weather yesterday was remarkably good. It was not that warm, but for most of the day the sun was probably out more than it was in. I finished writing yesterday saying the sky was totally obscured by clouds, and that it looked like rain. Another 30 minutes after that the sun was shining again. So what will today turn out like ? As I write this there does nor appear to be a cloud in the sky and the sun is shining brightly. I don't think it will get too warm as there is a cool wind coming in from somewhere - or so I seem to recall a weather forecast saying. On the other hand I don't recall that same weather forecast saying it would be sunny today.

 So, back to yesterday. I spent a little time making up a new printer lead to connect the PC I have got ready to sell to Ruth's friend to a printer. It works far more reliably than the USB to printer adapter I have. The problem now is what printer to offer. The HP is still not printing. The jets seem to be persistently blocked. I have tried soaking the cartridge without only small, intermittent, signs of improvement. It is probably time to admit defeat and only offer the Canon BJ220 which is black and white only, but does work OK. I could buy a new cartridge for the HP 420, but that would cost at least double what I was going to offer the printer for in the first place. It would rather defeat the object of capitalising on my unused assets.

 After I finished wasting time with the printer I headed over to Jodie's place. I had hoped to meet her at her flat (which she has not actually moved in to yet). Unfortunately she seemed incapable of unplugging the coax leads from the dead VHS machine and connecting them together to restore good TV reception. So I had to add 30 minutes to my journey to get the bus to her home, and then spend 30 seconds to remove the VHS machine, before we headed back to her flat to play with a totally hopeless computer program. The computer program is for connecting her Motorola phone to the PC to decant the pictures from the phone to the PC. Unlike the first time I tried I managed to get everything installed, but not neccesarily correctly. According to the installation instructions the PC's hardware properties should be showing a MAT-??? USB to serial cable, but all I can see is Motorola Modem. Try as I might I cannot persuade the PC to see anything else. The Handset Manager program appears to be installed correctly but - surprise, surprise - can't connect to the handset !  There is something about Motorola mobile phones that I do not like. I had one about 5 years ago and couldn't wait to replace it. I have told Jodie to bring her phone, and connection kit here and I'll try it from one of my PC's to see if it will work here. It seems incredibly unlikely, but I sometimes get the impression that the USB lead and the software for it do not match. They came in a sealed container, but there could have been a mistake at the factory. It is extremely unlikely, but it has to be considered. Maybe with the bits here I can do a search on the internet and see if there is anything written about them.

 With the prospect of earning a few bob repairing Jodie's (mum's) VHS machine I decided to splash out on a takeaway last night. I chose a Chinese as it is ages since I last had one. There was a menu lying on my doormat of a place I had not tried before. It seemed slightly cheaper than some of the other local places so I gave it a go. It was both good and bad, but predominantly good. The portions were big, but my chicken with cashew nuts in yellow bean sauce did not appear to have much yellow bean sauce. Despite such shortcomings I did enjoy it, and it made for a very pleasant breakfast.

 I almost managed an early night last night. I turned the light out at 23.00 (still at least an hour later than I probably wanted) and fell asleep instantly. So I have managed to get close to the 8 hours of sleep I prefer. I think I feel better for it, but I did feel very groggy for the first 10 minutes or so after I got out of bed. I had loads of dreams through the night. I can't really remember any details now except that old telephone exchanges seemed to predominate.

 Today I am going along to the internet cafe for a few hours this morning. I might see if Taz wants a quick meet in a pub lunchtime, but beyond that I do not have any particular plans. Well, maybe just one. I ought to repair Jodie's VHS machine as soon as possible seeing I have already eaten half the profits from it !

Friday 25th March 2005 - Good Friday (Bank Holiday)
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09.00 GMT

Weather - Sunny intervals

 I have done my best to have a lie in this morning. It wasn't entirely successful. I still woke up at 06.00, but I guess I did get at least an extra hours sleep in the three hours since first waking up. Maybe I will feel a little more energetic today, but somehow I doubt it. I have eaten too much of the wrong kinds of food lately. It has left me feeling a bit bloated. I wouldn't be surprised if my blood pressure, and blood sugar level, are both excessively high. I need a few days (weeks ?) of detox, but I need to be in the right state of mind for that. I'm not sure if I am in that state of mind at the moment.

 Yesterday did not go anything like I had planned. I did not feel like going to the internet cafe as it felt like too much rushing around. It was the need to get to Tesco in the middle of my plans that caused it all to go wrong. I just felt I could not fit it all in within the amount of time I had available. So having called off the internet cafe I went to Tesco mid morning. As well as the essentials I bought some nice food that I found on the reduced price shelves. Once I was home again I had a totally inappropriate breakfast and read some stuff from New Scientist. As my breakfast digested I fell asleep for over an hour. I woke up again just before Ivor phoned to see if I was coming to The Herne that afternoon (maybe it was the phone that actually woke me up). I said probably yes, but I felt very groggy and disorientated. To wake myself I decided to go upstairs and do some preparations for using my studio at a later time. After a while I got stronger and stronger urges to use the studio right then. I gave in and spent the next few hours up there. So I never made it to The Herne. The rest of the day seemed to fly by. A combination of TV, reading and the internet kept me occupied until midnight. This was actually silly as I should have been in bed by, say, 22.00. If I can't seem to sleep in the morning I should make up for lost sleep in the evening when I can.

 Today there is a sort of plan. Very early in the afternoon I should be going over to see Jodie at her flat. I have to pick up her video that needs repairing, and have another go at getting the crazy Motorola software working on her PC so she can download the pictures stored in her phone. It has been maybe a couple of months since I last tried it. The software seems very weird in that you cannot install it with the phone connected, and yet the installation fails with the error message that it cannot find the phone !

 I hope I will only be seeing Jodie for a few hours (it is a non smoking environment !) so I should have plenty of time to complete the PC for Ruth's friend. I will try and do a bit more to that before I go out.

 When I first woke up at 06.00 it seemed very bright. There was a fair amount of sunshine all the time up to when I started writing. Now 35 minutes later the sky has clouded over and it looks rather threatening. Maybe the sun will come out again later, but it looks as if there is a better chance of rain.

Thursday 24th March 2005

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08.15 GMT

Weather - rain

 Surprise, surprise, I seem to have a hangover this morning ! Fortunately it is not of the excessively painful variety, but I do feel off colour. It's actually hard to pinpoint any particular aspect of this hangover. There is a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, adding up to a general feeling of yuckiness. It would have been nice to get another couple of hours sleep, but my body would not seem to let me do that. I woke up, as usual, at 06.00 and spent a minute in the toilet before attempting to get back to sleep. I was only partially successful. Lots of tossing and turning later I decided that I may as well get out of bed. Perhaps I'll be able to grab a snooze during the day, or at least attempt to get to bed early tonight,

 Yesterday turned out to be a warm and sunny day. If I had been able to trust the weather I would have left my coat off when I went into Greenwich to attend my 4 hours worth of "programme centre", or college as I usually describe it.  Nothing much happened there, but it was nice going out into the warm sunshine for smoke breaks. I did find two more jobs that I will apply for. One job description is so vague that I don't know what, or where, it is all about. The other is possibly a little above my capabilities, at least my "official" capabilities, but I think there is a possibility that it is worth trying for.

 After Greenwich I went straight to the internet cafe to finish off a job I had started there. It was the PC with the faulty power supply. The customer had visited Maplin's and bought a new one for me to fit. With the new power supply installed the PC worked reliably again and I was able to clean it up and do an endless series of updates before declaring it fit for return to the customer. Before leaving there I made a start on another PC. This was owned by the boss and used by his wife. He said that it could not send or receive e-mails with attachments. It was a bit weird because the last e-mails received were in mid December last year, and when I went online it attempted to download over 1000, mostly spam, e-mails. I suggested the best course of action was to back up all the work on the PC and to reformat the hard drive before re-installing Windows and setting up a new internet account. The problem is that the PC has no CD burner or network card. All I could do was to lend the boss a 32MB pen drive and tell him to shunt the data to another PC with CD burner in 32MB chunks using the pen drive. I wonder if he will have managed it by the time I get there later this morning ?

 So my first port of call this morning is the internet cafe. I intend to be away from there by midday. If there was time my next visit would be to Tesco's. I am on my last roll of toilet paper and Nelly has no "crunchies" (she has plenty of non-crunchy food so she will not starve). If I can make the time I will do a flying visit, but I am booked for a session at The Herne in the afternoon. It is not essential that I am there, but I would like to buy at least one round there while I have the resources. Besides I fancy another drink.Maybe Ivor will be leaving early and be able to give me a lift home before I get too drunk. In that case I could do my shopping after the pub. I am pretty certain that Tesco will be closed tomorrow, being a bank holiday, so I ought to try and get there today !

 If I make it through the day without getting too drunk I will be able to carry on with the PC for Ruth's friend. I still have not tried the HP inkjet cartridge after its extra long soaking, and I still have to make a decision about what monitor I will provide with it. Maybe I will do these things tomorrow and just be extra lazy tonight (maybe ? - most likely !!)

Wednesday 23rd March 2005

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06.30 GMT

Weather - broken cloud, cool

 Yesterday did not turn out anything like I had imagined it would. It did start with a visit to the Job Centre. That was fixed and immutable, but for the rest of the day I did a few things that I liked doing instead of some of the stuff that I did not want to do. The pattern was broken when I got a phone call asking if I would be in during the afternoon.As this involved receiving some money owed to me I readily agreed to stay put and wait to be visited.

 The first thing I did was to go up into my workshop and finish off some stuff I was working on. At long last , after many short to medium length sessions up there, I have finished what I set out to do. After a short breather I tackled my next task. This was to sort out a printer to go with the PC I am assembling for Ruth's friend.  I decided to see if I could get the HP Deskjet 420 colour printer working first. As I feared the inkjets were heavily crusted over, and the cartridges were almost dried out.  After a lot of faffing about I managed to get some sort of printing to work, but it was almost a hopeless case. I decided to give the cartridges a long soak to loosen up the crusty ink. While that was happening I tried out an ancient Canon BJ200ex bubble jet printer. It hadn't been used for used for ages and was caked with dust and cat hairs. I gave it a good clean and got most of the muck off the outside. After one head clean it produced print (and the paper pushed through more dust and cat hair from inside). A couple of test pages later it was just about perfect apart from a tendency for the paper to skew slightly as the last ¼ inch of paper emerged. Meanwhile the head soaking started to produce some results from the HP printer. It was still very bad, but it showed it had potential to work. It took the cartridge out again and left it to soak until late evening. At this point in time I have not rechecked it, but I hope to try it again tonight.

 The next task was to try and see what was the best monitor I could attach to the PC. The ancient NEC monitor I mentioned yesterday was fairly good, but I have an old Apple monitor that might have been better. The problem with the Apple monitor is that it uses a non-standard connection ( a standard 15 pin mini D connector instead of a high density 15 pin connector).  I was convinced I knew the pin connections for it and proceeded to make an adapter up. It didn't work so I made up a complete lead. It didn't work ! It was only while laying in bed last night that the truth dawned on me. I was following the pin outs for an Apple computer base unit, and they did not have to be the same as the connections to the monitor itself. In fact they may be a mirror image. I'll do some more experimenting later.

 Finally my visitor arrived with a small wodge of money for me. By what I would regard as a normal situation it was not much, but in my impoverished state it was a small luxury. I will definitely be able to buy a round in the pub tonight, and with care the next week as well. Not only that but I have been able to buy some real fags and a magazine as well ! Luxury !

 Today I have to spend the morning at college. After that I will be going straight to the internet cafe where the boss will be upset that I did not go there yesterday as originally planned. I expect I will be there until fairly late, but it depends on how things proceed. Tonight is drinking night so I do hope I'll be home in time to have a meal early enough for it not to interfere with my drinking. Maybe I will also get time to give the HP printer a test after it's extended head soaking. Maybe I'll even get the Apple monitor working. These are questions that will only be answered tomorrow.

Tuesday 22nd March 2005

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06.30 GMT

Weather - overcast with showers

 The weather continues to deteriorate. This morning there have been a few light showers. It is still fairly mild, perhaps milder than it should be for this time of the year. A recent long range forecast suggests it will be warm and sunny again on Friday - we'll see !

 Yesterday was not very exciting. I spent the morning at college and the afternoon at the internet cafe. Nothing of any significance happened at college, although I did identify another job that I will try for. It is an I.T. job that I am barely qualified for, but maybe I can bluff my way through it.

 The afternoon in the internet cafe was not very exciting either. Most of the time I spent reformatting the hard disk on the totally corrupted Windows XP PC I have mentioned a couple of times. I have installed Windows 2000 on it instead, and thrown in a few free programs as well - notably anti virus and anti spyware, but also Open Office, Firefox and Thunderbird. I don't know whether they will be used, but they are there if the customer wants them. Mainly it is to appear to have given better value for money. I left the internet cafe at just past 16.00 saying it was imperative that I had to be home at 16.30. I'll admit that this was a slight exaggeration. I did want to be home by then in case I was wanted (I wasn't), but without taking a firm stance I would have been encouraged to stay and stay until I was well pissed off.

 I wasn't sure if I would be doing anything once I got home (and after checking my e-mail). I felt very tired and I did fall asleep for at least an hour after I had eaten and was watching Star Trek on TV. I woke up not feeling very refreshed at all, but after a while I decided to see what I had available for a PC for Ruth's friend. I came up with a 300MHz Celeron processor, 128MB of ram, 4GB hard drive, sound card, and Windows ME. Unfortunately I could not find an internal modem, but for the moment there is a network card in it so I can download and update stuff. I'm still not sure what to do about a monitor. I have attached an ancient NEC Multisync monitor to it, but unfortunately Multisync refers to the amount of ways of synchronising it rather than the range of resolution available. I can only get it to work at 480x600, but it is nice and bright and reasonably sharp. I do have another dusty old monitor in the cupboard that will almost certainly run at 800x600 but I think the picture is looking a little soft on it. I will probably be able to assess it later today. I think I will also throw in an old HP printer as well. It is rather crappy in so much as it attempts to print black by mixing the three colours together instead of using a separate black ink cartridge. Photos can look very poor on it, but it is fine for multicoloured text etc. For printing black text the ink cartridge can be replaced with just a single large black cartridge. In that mode it is fine. All this makes the bold assumption that the ink jets have not totally clogged with a hard, possibly unclearable, crust of old ink. The printer has not been used for as much as 5 years.

 My first task for the day is to sign on. I must remember to take all my paperwork along to convince my adviser that I have been searching for work. He got most shirty last time when I turned up without it. After that chore is out of the way I am free to pursue my own choices. There are several things I would like to do. Obviously finishing cobbling together the PC for Ruth's friend should be my first task, but there is one other thing I would have liked to do. That is a new Linux installation on this PC. A few strange things have happened recently that worry me. I have had a few lock-ups using Mozilla Messenger, and Mozilla Firefox. Such things are not supposed to happen, but at least when they do it does not take down the whole operating system. It is possible to kill the failed application without having to do anything drastic like a re-boot. However until I do a reboot those applications continue to lock up. This morning everything is working fine, but if I do manage to trigger the fault somehow it will be most annoying. Whenever I do re-install Linux I will rename my old home directory so I an start with a totally fresh one (and yet still have access to my old data). Last time I did not do this and  think that is where some of my troubles are coming from. There is all sorts of old garbage left over from previous installations that interfere with the new one. I would like to try SuSe Linux, but may opt for Fedora Core 3 as I have it to hand. My main bone of contention with Fedora is that it insists on a password for all users, and that password must follow certain rules (at least 6 characters). I have no problem that it insists on a decent password for root access, but for a single home user I would like not to have to bother with a password for my own account.

 Despite my preference for playing with PC's here I am going to have to play PC's at the internet cafe again. There are three things that will need doing there. One may be a power supply transplant, or maybe a rebuild of the PC into a new case (with new power supply in it). Next there is a PC that refuses to send or open E-mail attachments (it could be that the protection on it is just too high). Lastly, and most irritatingly is transferring all the data from the old office PC to a new office PC. With data scattered all over the place it could be a tricky job, and I don't know if the new PC (new by use, but not by age) has all the software on it that the old PC has. I am not looking forward to it. I don't want to get stuck there all day, and yet I know that is what the boss thinks I should do. Meanwhile the rain is getting heavier and will not even be going out unless it stops (apart from to sign on - that is essential).

Monday 21st March 2005

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06.20 GMT

Weather - bright and dry

 Yesterday was mostly a day of rest, but I did manage to do a few things. The two most important things were shopping and laundry. You could say that both were rather essential, and yet in some ways neither was fully completed. The biggest omission from the shopping was toilet paper. It was not a critical omission, but it would have been handy. I estimate it will become a very critical purchase towards the end of this week.The laundry I did was only the coloured stuff. I still have to do my white shirts, and I may do them later today.

 The only other thing I did yesterday was some repairs to some PCB's. I had been intending to do them for a few days now but could not seem to find the time, or inspiration, to start them. Once I got started I enjoyed pitting my wits against the man who had originally made all the cock-ups in their construction. Time flew by surprisingly quickly while I was working on them. It seemed so easy at the time, but I guess I spent at least twice as long as it actually felt like. I was going to spend even longer in my workshop, but my bum had gone numb from sitting on a hard chair for so long. I decided to have a break and let the circulation return to my lower regions. In some ways that was fatal as I got distracted by some TV programmes about The British Army in Iraq during the war there. It was being shown on UK History. It was fascinating stuff seeing the full story behind what had previously been edited down to short news items, or had originally been censored at the time. I never did get back to my workshop, nor did I start to sort out a PC for Ruth's friend.

 It was rather overcast and chilly all day yesterday. I can't work out what the weather is going to be like today. It looks as if the sun is about to rise and start shining at any minute, but it has been like that for the last 45 minutes. Reluctantly I have to consider that it is going to be another grey day today. This will only effect two things. The first was that I was looking forward to leaving off my jacket when I go into college this morning. The second was that if it was a warm sunny evening I have volunteered to walk Patricia home through the park and show her the sights. Ultimately that depends on her as much as the weather, but if she does accept my offer it would have been far nicer to have done it if the weather was like that on Saturday (when I originally came up with the idea).

 After college, and before the possibility of walking Patricia home, I have to call in at the internet cafe. There I will learn the fate of the PC with the corrupt Windows XP installation on it (as described yesterday), and I may have to copy all the files from an older, slower PC used in the office there, to a faster and generally better spec'd PC. I hope I do not get bogged down with either task as I do not want to spend too long there. I certainly want to get home by 16.30 in case I have to act as a tour guide to Patricia.

 Finally, many thanks to Steve for your encouragement to go for the job at The Science Museum. I had already decided (brainwashed myself !) that I should go for it in a big way regardless of my dislike of the commuting. So extra encouragement does help to fixate it in my brain.

Sunday 20th March 2005

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09.30 GMT

Weather - overcast, but still mild

 Yesterday was a most beautiful spring day. The sun was out for much of the day, and it felt very warm. I did not bother wearing a coat when I went to the internet cafe in the morning. It was really nice to walk through the park with the sun shining, the birds twittering, and a feeling of freshness in the air. Unfortunately I got stuck in the internet cafe for far longer than I had intended to be there. Someone brought in a PC while I was there and what should have been a simple task turned into an uphill struggle.  It should have been a simple case of removing a virus and adding extra protection. After wasting hours just trying to get the machine to boot properly I came to the conclusion that the PC's owner had managed to totally corrupt the operating system (Windows XP). Running in safe mode was OK, and I managed to do a complete virus check and several different spyware sweeps, but it would not boot normally. After much mucking around I got it to the point where I was able to run task manager, and from there I was able to launch explorer.exe which gave me an unstable desktop. If it was my own machine I would possibly persevere at this point, but I was wasting so much time that I had to abandon it. I left instructions that I could only proceed if I had the original Windows installation disk to re-install Windows over the top of itself. I am pretty certain that the owner does not have a copy of Windows so I don't know how this one will resolve itself.

 The PC I had originally gone along to fix turned out to have a failed power supply. When the symptoms had originally been described to me over the phone I had suspicions about the power supply so I took along a second hand spare. That got the machine working OK and I left it in with instructions that it was not guaranteed. If the customer is happy with it he can keep on using it, or he can go and buy a new one and the money he was charged for the second hand one be used to pay for me to fit the new one (and I get my spare back).

 It was another very pleasant walk back home through the park in the sunshine when I left. I did have some vague ideas that I would do some work when I came home, but after calling in at my local corner shop and buying a comic (Micro Mart), I ended up reading for most of the evening (except when I was watching Dr Who night on BBC2).

 I think I am looking forward to Dr Who returning to TV next Saturday, but there is always that worry that it will have been mucked around with too much. I hope that modern computer generated special effects are mature enough now to cease being a novelty to play with, and that they won't have been tempted to over use them just because they can, substituting them for good plots and good acting. Then there is the worry that the scripts are just too weird. Some of the plots that the previous Doctor had to work with were totally bizzare, and that was a shame because Sylvester McCoy did make for a good Doctor. The other problem with those last scripts is that they always gave the impression that the Doctor already knew what was coming. There was suspense for us the viewers, but  he lost credibility by appearing to know too much in advance what was about to happen.I came away with the impression that the writers had never watched Dr Who before. They had been briefed that he was a man (alien ?) who traveled in space and time. From that they deduced that he must know what the future holds like some  advanced crystal ball reader and only had to go through the motions of doing what had already been pre-ordained. Ultimately if he was not surprised neither were we.

 Today I have only two priorities and several options. The priorities are to do what I should have done yesterday - namely laundry and shopping. After that my options include doing some stuff in my workshop, recording some music, or seeing if I can sort out a spare PC for a friend of Ruth. I do have a spare PC of unknown capabilities, but I am not sure if I have a decent monitor to go with it. It ought to be a priority as I can sell it for a few beer vouchers (and it would help in a general trend of clearing out some of the crap I have accumulated over the years).

Saturday 19th March 2005

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07.15 GMT

Weather - bright with sunny intervals

 I don't think I should be writing this so early. Yesterday was a bit hectic in some respects. The day started pleasantly with warm sunshine during my 4 hour session at college. That was uneventful. So nothing to report there.

 As I came home I was in the front of the bus being dazzled by the sun. I decided that I would drop everything and head off to The Herne to have a drink with Ruth. We sat in the garden for a little while, but the sun eventually got too low and was obscured by trees, or buildings. At that point Ruth felt a little chilly so we went inside again. It was really wonderful being in the beer garden again, and I will really miss doing it this summer. I'll either be at work or too poor to afford it if I am not.

[ I must apologise for some of my typing at this point. I am using an alternative keyboard. The previous keyboard had a few sticky keys. This one seems to have a very loose "a" key. I think I have removed most instances of things like "aaand" or "haaaave", but some will get past my eye (as will many other mistakes)  I do have some other keyboards, but I think I like the feel of this one.]

 Eventually Ivor and Iain turned up to whisk me away to deepest, darkest Kent for a meeting. Our first port of call was to an Indian Restaurant in East Malling. Earlier in the day I wanted to avoid that option, but I decided that some breakfast was probably not a bad idea. After a pleasant meal we headed to the pub and met up with the rest of the group. Several pleasant pints followed. I think the damage for the day was :-
  • 4 pints of Kronenberg - The Herne
  • 1 pint of Bangla beer - Indian restaurant
  • 1 pint of Bombadier, and
  • 2 pints of Bass - The Redstart
 So an eight pint day and I am still up early on a Saturday morning feeling fine. (Well mostly fine - I think another trip to the toilet is coming soon !)

 It was certainly very nice in Barming last night. Initially, while I was in a minority of one, we were sitting at a no smoking table.  I took the opportunity to go outside the pub for a fag. Not only was it pleasantly mild, it was also great seeing really dark skies without all the light pollution that is so prevalent around here. Looking up at the stars I was immeadiately able to identify the constellation of Orion, and Ursa Major (the plough). There was also another one that I had never really seen before, but recognised. The stars form a "W" shape and I think either one of the stars, or the constellation itself is called cassiopea (which I cannot even spell - and I can't find any reference books nearby).

 We left the pub at closing time and I got home around midnight. On the way home I had a yearning for some sausages. So I did not get to bed until something like 01.00 after staying up cooking, and eating, sausages.

 Today I have to visit the internet cafe where there is another PC for me to look at. I believe that the fault is that it will not switch on. This sounds as if the power supply could be dead, It will be difficult to do a quick fix on that one. I am hoping I will be away from the internet cafe by midday as I still have some stuff I ought to be doing here, but I think the day will be unpredictable.

Friday 18th March 2005

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06.00 GMT

Weather - very mild, slightly cloudy

 Much of yesterday turned out to be quite sunny, but I stayed in all day. Annoyingly I could have gone out had I known a few facts earlier in the day. At lunchtime I received a text message from Ruth telling me that it was lovely in the beer garden at The Herne, and asking when I would be drinking there again. I would have loved to have gone to see her as I have not seen her since xmas (and she owes me a pint or two). Annoyingly I had to finish off some stuff for someone who was due to be picking it up at some unkown time later in the day. Even more aannoyingly, when he eventually turned up he announced that he did not want to take the stuff away, and would probably be trying again on Sunday. So not only was my time wasted, but I also missed out on a drinking voucher for tonight.

 I had a phone call from The Science Museum yesterday. I have applied for a job there that they recently advertised. The phone call was to offer me an interview on 5th April. I was initially in two minds about applying for the job. The pay is good compared with many of the jobs I have applied for, and it must be a wonderful place to work. The downside is the thought of commuting up to central London everyday. Despite my fears about the commuting I think I will be pulling out the stops to get this job. I may be in with a good chance as well because they want someone who has a very broad range of skills. The job advert seems to be targetting those who have had at least 5 years of experience in the TV trade, but also demands a knowledge of I.T. skills amongst others. I have not met many TV engineers who have that much knowledge of computers so that might boost my chances. I don't know whether it is a good sign, or not, but I was apparently top of the list to be contacted.

 Not much else happened yesterday. This morning I am off to college for a four hour session. After that there is a blank in my schedule until the evening when it is off to Barming for a special meet up. I do have some options for the afternoon. I could possibly go to meet up with Ruth for a quick beer, but if I am drinking in the evening that does not sound like a good idea. I may well spend a couple of hours in my workshop instead.

Thursday 17th March 2005

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07.00 GMT

Weather - slightly overcast, mild

 Yesterday saw a mixture of very warm sunshine and rain. In fact there were a lot of contradictions yesterday.

 During the morning I went for a job interview at a CD distribution warehouse. The place was far bigger than I had imagined. Although in some respects my guess had been right. It was only recently that the company has expanded and moved in to far bigger, and plusher premises. The job itself is a real low skilled, low paid job picking CD's from the warehouse and passing them to the packing department. For some reason I thought the pay was a miserly £5.69 ph, but it turns out to be worse - just £5.30 ph, but after 3 months it would rise to an amazing (!) £5.80 ph. I have no idea at all whether I will be offered the job, but if I am I will take it as a stop gap. Being an expanding company there could be some hope of advancement. I was told that the manager there does like to draw on the talemts of those already there before considering outside help. It was suggested that knowing what was on my CV I could get roped into doing I.T. type stuff. A nice idea, but I find it rather far fetched.

 While I was among the industrial estates that stretch along the road I thought I would have a look around and see if anyone else could make use of my talents. There was one company whose job advert I had already responded to by e-mail, and I had previously decided  to drop them in a paper application as well. Then there was a company who I had earlier noticed in Yellow Pages as having something to do with electronics. I meant to visit them, but found they had moved out. So I wandered around untiol I came across Hantarex who used to manufacture monitors. They were very friendly when I called on them, but sadly they have the receivers in and are in the process of winding up the company. I eventually found two companies to leave a copy of my CV with. One of these had "Electro" in the name, but I don't think they actually have anything to do with electronics.

 During all that walking around the sun had really come out and it was actually getting hot. I was feeling quite hot when I got on the train home. The train seemed to have its heating on full blast and I was dripping when I got off the train and walked back home. I had only been out for a couple of hours but I felt very tired when I got back home. I think it is a legacy of the cold I had. I am not fully over it yet even though it started well over a week ago. Even this morning my nose needs a good clear out every 20 - 30 minutes, and my chest is still fairly congested. It is a vast improvement over this time last week, but I will be a lot happier when it is finally all over.

 Yesterday afternoon was a classic case of time slipping by unnoticed. I had intended to do some stuff, but I thought I would have some breakfast first. So some time passed as I got some food together. A little more time passed as I ate it. Then I rested while the food settled down. That rest turned into a snooze and more time slipped by. I'll not describe the rest of the afternoon, or early evening. All I need to say is that I did a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and none of what I was supposed to be doing ! As the afternoon passed into evening the clouds gathered and it became gloomier and gloomier. and eventually it was raining.

 Today I really will get into my workshop and do what I should have done yesterday. Perhaps one temptation to skive is that it looks as if the sun may be out again this morning. I haven't really got anywhere to go, but it would be nice to be out in it at sometime.

Wednesday 16th March 2005

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07.00 GMT

Weather - grey, but not too cold. Dry

 Yesterday seemed to pass very quickly in some respects. There were times when time did pass very slowly. Like while I was on the bus going to the programme centre in Greenwich. On top of the usual rush hour traffic there were several places where roadworks caused some bad delays. Fortunately the times when time slowed down were few in number, and like I said, time passed very quickly,

 During the course of my four hour session at the programme centre I handed in my specially written report. It was a spontaneous idea of mine to write it to prove that I did take the programme seriously after there was a suggestion that I may not be. It went down surprisingly well. A few parts made the Programme manager laugh, but overall she agreed with all my observations whether they be positive or negative comments. If you are really curious to read it there is a copy here.

 After my session at the programme centre I was anxious to get home to check my e-mail. I was hoping for news from Patricia. I was not disappointed. There was an e-mail from her to say she had found a suitable room from one of the phone numbers I had found for her on Monday. Perhaps more surprisingly, she wondered if I would like to go along with her when she paid the deposit money last night. So I met her when she finished work at 17.30. She had worked out the bus route, but had not realised there was a quicker one using one of the small single decker local bus services. In fact it would be almost quicker to walk, but not on the first day when the area is unfamiliar to her. I was quite shocked to see how little she was getting for her money, but she seemed quite happy with it.

 After she had concluded her business there I took her to a bus stop so she could get back to East Ham, and I headed off in the opposite direction to my home. I didn't fancy a long walk through the back streets in the dark. In truth I didn't fancy any sort of walk as I was starving hungry. I already had a bus pass, but it would still mean a bit of a walk back to the bus stop for the direct bus home, or I could get a us from where I was and change. Instead I decided that I would get the train home. I was right by the station, a train was due and I had enough cash for a cheap ticket.

 Once home I did little more than cook and eat. I think I was in bed (and possibly asleep) soon after 22.00. I slept soundly until 04.30. I don't know what it is about that time, but if I wake up at all during the night there is an excellent chance that will be the time I see on my clock. After that my sleep was not very good at all. I tossed and turned until I decided to just get up some ten minutes before my alarm was due to go off.

 Today the most significant thing is a job interview at 11.00. It is for a badly paid job picking CD's in a warehouse. By a strange coincidence it is in the same road as where I have applied for another job that is better paid. I rate my chances of getting the job today higher than the other job applied for. To slightly boost my chances (or wreck them) I will take the opportunity to hand deliver another application. The first one was sent by e-mail, but the I received an auto response saying the office was closed until next week. I assume that my e-mail, with my CV attached to it, is still in their system waiting to be seen, but I'd rather not take the chance. I will also have the chance to do some cold calling on at least one other company with premises in the same road. I have never tried cold callling before and I don't feel very comfortable with it, but I'll probably give it a go. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

Tuesday 15th March 2005

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07.05 GMT

Weather - overcast, but almost mild

 Spring is definitely heading our way. Yesterday it was really quite mild. During a few sunny spells it was nice to be outside without having to wear a coat. I expect there will be a few ups and downs of the coming weather, but overall the trend is now up towards summer.

 After my early start yesterday I managed to keep going all day without feeling too tired. I even developed my second wind far too late last night. In consequence I start another day with what I judge to be an insufficient amount of sleep. If history repeats itself I will be taking a snooze for an hour at around 17.00.

 On reflection I think I enjoyed yesterday. After leaving here I tried to catch Patricia before she got into work. I had some information for her andonly intended to detain her for a few minutes.I was too late to catch her before she went into work by only a few moments.So I gave her a call and asked her if she could come down to the street again. She did, and then invited me in to explain some of the events over the last few weeks. By the timeI left I had missed my preferred bus to Greenwich. That bus is usually packed solid with foreign language students heading to a school in Greenwich.  It seems like the best one to catch as it arrives a handy 10 minutes before the course starts. I was astonished to find that the traffic through Lewisham had thinned out enough for the next bus, which  was half empty, to make such good time that I was still able to get there in time for a 09.30 start.

 I have now learned that the correct name for what I  am doing is not college, or a course, but a Programme Centre. I think it is easier to keep referring to it as college. The session there was almost eneventful, but towards the end two of us were asked to step into another room to be given some kind of warning. It was all an anti climax because we were not warned of anything except to be pre-warned that the Adult Learning Inspectors were due to be visiting the centre next week. I think the tutor was worried that our tendancy to moan more vocally than  others, or to make a joke  out of our situation, would reflect badly on their efforts. Either our reasoned charm disarmed what we were to be accused of, or the tutor could not put into words what we were to be accused of. We came away from there somewhat bemused by the whole thing.

 Upon leaving the Programme Centre I headed to the internet cafe. It was still standing and in operation after my managing it on the Saturday. The boss was well pleased with my efforts and gave me an additional reward of a bottle of red wine. Unfortunately he could not come up with any ideas for accomodation for Patricia as I had originally hoped. The newsagent next door was better for that.None of what was offered on cards in the window matched Patricia prime requirements, but 5 matched her minimum requirements, and they were all within her wanted price range. I quickly scribbled down most of the details and headed for home where I e-mailed Patricia with the details. At the time I sent them I knew that it would not give much time to recieve them before leaving early to go flat hunting. I thought it best to meet her as she left work and hand over a printed copy of the details. I was surprised that not only had she received my e-mail, but she had rung each number and had one place to visit straight away. It may be wildly over optimistic, but it would be nice to think she had some luck with that first place. I now wait for further news. Before she left with her soon to be ex-landlord (who is being amazingly helpful by driving her around in her quest to find a new landlord) I handed over the bottle of red wine that I had been given earlier. I am sure that Patricia and her friend Laura can do it better justice than me.

 Having got the exciting part of the day over I went home to eat and to relax. Nothing much really happened until I got a bee in my bonnet and decided to  write up a report. It was gone 01.00 by the time I called it a day. Hence this morning I am suffering from a lack of sleep again.

 Today starts with another four session at the Programme centre. I am not sure what I will be doing after that. I will be coming home again, and probaly staying in for the rest of the day. If tiredness does not beat me (like yesterday) I should spend some time in my workshop.

Monday 14th March 2005

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06.05 GMT

Weather - dry, but possibly rather grey

 I wanted to be up early this morning, but I also wanted a good nights sleep. I have managed the former, but to excess. I woke up at 04.30 and found it hard to get back into a deep sleep again. This means that the latter wish was never completed. I'm OK at the moment, but I fear it will catch up with me later in the day.

 Yesterday was a fairly peaceful day. After I had carried out two of the mundane tasks I mentioned yesterday (shopping and hanging up the laundry to dry) , I never really did get up to much else. Parhaps the major ommision of the day was the washing up. This morning I had to wash up a plate to serve Nelly's breakfast. I did get around to giving the Windows 2000 machine a good long test. The monitoring program reports that the CPU temperature only rises about 5° C after doing some semi hard work. So that seems to be fixed now. Unfortunately the extra case fan does seem to be noisier than I had anticipated. I also noticed that the PC seems rather sluggish in operation. I think a good clean up, followed by a back up, and then a new clean installation would help a lot. But that will be a job for another day.

 Today my day essentially starts with a four hour session at college. After that, and maybe for 15 minutes before that, I want to see if there is any way I can help Patricia find a place to rent more local to Catford. She has had a change in circumstances that necessitate her moving again. Part of my assistance to her will entail a visit to the internet cafe. I wanted a brief visit there anyway to see if all is OK after my managing of it on Friday night/Saturday all day. The boss there may know of somewhere that Patricia could rent, and there is a newsagent next door that I have noticed has lots of small ads in the window.

 Right now though I had better have a shave, shampoo and shower (and maybe something else beginning with S !).

Sunday 13th March 2005

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12.45 GMT

Weather - cloudy after bright start

 I feel so knackered ! It was a long day yesterday and I should have gone to bed early. Instead I stayed up just a little too long, caught my second breath, and then stayed up until the early hours. I finally dragged myself out of bed at 11.15, and since then I have started my laundry, emptied Nelly's overfull litter tray, cleaned up and put new paper down on her eating area, and thrown out some rubbish. Add to that, receiving a long phone call, checking the news, reading e-mail, and finally here I am.

 I managed to open up the internet cafe at 09.45, and closed it again 10 hours later. It seemed like a very long day. Fortunately it was fairly busy for much of that time so there were no long periods when time dragged by too slowly. I guess it is something you get used to, but I don't want to do too many days like that just now. On the plus side I came away with 270 MB of files downloaded from the internet during the course of the day.

 The legacy remnants of my cold are still slowly getting better. The principal one being the smokers cough. Little by little it is drying up. I still have the occasional explosive outbreak when there is a change of air quality (hot/warm, dry/humid), but for the most part the attacks are now milder and more infrequent. After a major clearout when I first got into bed last night (more accurately; this morning) I was able to get to sleep easily, and I was not woken up during the night coughing as I had been on previous nights.

 It had been my intention to be a complete couch potato today, but as I have already written I had a few chores to attend to. There are still things I must do. When the washing machine has finished I have the wet clothes to hang up. I also have some shopping to do, but after that......well, there is a pile of washing up to do, and dinner to cook. Besides that there are some of the tracks I downloaded yesterday that have to be renamed to more accurately reflect exactly what they really are. Then there is also my rebuilt Windows 2000 machine upstairs that needs a good soak test. On top of that I have loads of coils to wind. I think I will be rather busy today after all. It seems a strange paradox that although I am officially unemployed I do seem to be more fully occupied than ever. I just wish some of this stuff actually paid a living wage !

Saturday 12th March 2005

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07.00 GMT

Weather - bright and sunny (for now !)

 Yesterday was a rather full day, but not much happened. That does sound a little like a paradox, but let me explain.

 The first thing on the agenda was to go into college, and do a four hour stint there. Maybe three hours of that was spent reading New Scientist. It was a long way to go and do what I would otherwise done at home, but it did help to pass the time nicely. One of the good things about New Scientist is that the wording across the top of the cover includes the words "The best jobs in science". These are ideal words if challenged about the validity of reading a magazine while you are supposed to be searching for jobs. In fact I wasn't challenged this time, but it did happen while I was at Focus Vision some months back.

 While I was quietly reading away I received a phone call from a potential employer, and I have been offered an interview next Wednesday. Now this is all rather strange. The letter I sent out was only posted on Wednesday night, and probably did not enter the postal system until Thursday morning.  So I seem to have been invited to the interview with very little consideration. Many employers seem to sit on applications for ages before (very rarely) responding.  The other strange  thing is that is the only application I have posted off which is totally outside the specialities that I have previously gone for. In fact it is an essentially unskilled job picking CD's in a warehouse. The one plus point is that it is only in Lower Sydenham so travelling would be cheap and easy. The pay, as you might expect, is pretty poor, but still rather better than dole money. If I do get offered the job I will do it, but unless there seems any way of boosting that pay I will continue to keep a look out for a job that can use some of my skills, and pays maybe double the paltry £5.69 p/h that this one does. The one final strange thing about this was the way I worded my covering letter with the CV. I was very blunt and said most of my CV would be irrelevant, that it was a radical change in career, and that I was applying because I was fed up with being on the dole. I think my interview tactics will be pretty blunt as well.

 At the same time I applied for the warehouse job I also applied to a great sounding job at the Science Museum. It would mean working in fascinating surroundings, and working on some fascinating stuff. The pay is obviously much better as well, although perhaps not as much as I might have expected. As wonderful as it sounds there are some serious downsides to it. I am still not happy dealing with the public, I am naturally not of smart appearance, but worst of all would be the terrible commute up to town every day. Given the choice I might still opt to work locally in a warehouse for less money.

 After I had clocked up my 12 hours for the week at college, and collected my fares claim, I headed home to grab some lunch and put my feet up for 30  minutes. Then it was off to the internet cafe to do the late shift. At around 17.00 the keys were handed over to me and I was on my own. It was not very busy in there for a Friday night, but surprisingly the time did not drag until it was about half an hour before I was due to lock up. I then had the difficulty of reminding people that I was closing down at 20.00. The last man did hold out right to the end. Locking up was very quick and I was out of there by 10 or 15 minutes after 20.00. On the way home I felt sufficiently rich to buy some fish and chips. Luckily it was still piping hot by the time I got home. That was the first time I have had fish and chips in ages and it was delicious. I don't know whether it was a knock on effect of my fading illness (which I haven't moaned about yet), but I could not finish all the chips - I must be very ill !!!

 I felt tired all day yesterday, and I went up to bed at 22.00, or less than 2 hours after getting home for the internet cafe. Some of that tiredness is probably a direct result of fighting the illness, but a lot of it is an indirect result of the illness. I have had trouble getting a good nights sleep as I keep waking up to cough a bit more lung up. Last night was an improvement with only one episode, but it did take some time to get to sleep initially. I hope that tonight I may be able to sleep through the night without waking up once. My cough is improving, but it will be a long time before it is totally gone. Meanwhile my nose is just about cured, although I can suffer from some mild hay fever at this time of year (I think it may be some sort of tree pollen).

 Today I am back to the internet cafe. I will be opening it up at about 10.00 and running it all day, by myself, until closing it down again at 20.00. I can't really say I am looking forward to it, but I can say I will be glad when it is over. Sunday will truly be a day of rest for me !

Friday 11th March 2005

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06.00 GMT

Weather - dry

 Ah Friday ! It should be cause for celebration, but this time it is almost the opposite. I have an ardeous time coming up, and I am not looking forward to it.

 Yesterday I did something I should have done at least once much earlier in the week. I had a day off sick. After the poor nights sleep, the hangover, and various aches and pains, I spent the day staying warm and doing very little. I even managed an hour or two of very poor disturbed sleep. I had been quite keen to go to college, but I just could not face it. At 21.00 I headed off for bed. After 30 minutes of reading I turned the light out and was soon asleep. For several hours I slept solidly, but at 01.30, or thereabouts, I woke up needing a pee and coughing my lungs out. After anothers hours sleep I was awake again and coughing another lung up. It took quite some time to get back to sleep again, but I managed it. I was woken up again by Nelly yeowling for her breakfast just a few minutes before 06.00.

 So this morning I am still suffering the legacy of my cold. Principly this is a bad cough.It is not a dry tickly cough, but is the irritation caused by mucus congregating near the top of my windpipe.  As soon as I hear it gurgle, or feel it move I become racked with deep coughing to try and dislodge it. This would almost be of little consequence if it did not hurt my chest and stomach muscles. They are constantly sore now. Very , very slowly my chest is improving. As I sit here typing I notice that I am coughing less than I did last night. The same is true of my previously running nose. The latter is mostly dry now, although still needing a clear out from time to time.

 I think that by next Monday I will be almost back to normal. This is really not soon enough as I have a difficult couple of days ahead of me.  As I didn't get into college yesterday I still have to do 4 hours there today to make up my 12 hour total for the week.  I really didn't want that today as I have to go to the internet cafe late this afternoon to take over the running of it for tonight, and all day Saturday so the boss can have a weekend away with his missus. It is a huge challenge, and one that I do not particularly relish. On the other hand it is a bit of a boost to the ego that I am trusted with the keys to the shop and judged capable of running the place by myself.

 So the plan for today is to go into college as soon as it opens at 09.30. I will hopefully be picking up a copy of New Scientist on my way there so I can have something decent to read after skimming the rest of the papers there for new jobs.  I'll leave there at 13.30 once I have completed my 12 hours for the week.  Then I'll have a few hours at home to eat and rest before heading to the internet cafe at about 16.30.  I'll be stuck there until 20.00, or perhaps a little later depending on just how soon I can shut down and lock the place up.  By the time I get home I will probably be exhausted and do little except  have some food and get to bed.  Tomorrow will be worse. I'll be opening up at around 10.00 and not finishing until 20.00 (although depending on how busy the place is I might try and finish earlier).  All that inconvenience and I am not even sure what I'll be getting in return for it !

Thursday 10th March 2005

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08.45 GMT

Weather - dull and damp

 It's another morning where I have to moan about how bad I feel, and give gruesome details about my various bodily functions. Well it's my diary ! This morning I feel dreadful. It is a combination of hangover and the legacy remnants of my cold. On top of that, but caused by both of them, a great lack of sleep.

  Much of yesterday was not too bad. I finally got into college at 10.45, and so had to stay there until 14.45. I was expecting that four hours to pass very slowly, and uncomfortably, but surprisingly it went fairly quickly while my nose and throat were reasonably well behaved. It was probably the rapid change in temperature and humidity as I left the college, waited for a bus, and finally got on a bus, that my cough started to get worse. Towards the end of the journey I had two convulsive fits of coughing. This was to set the pattern for the rest of the day, and through the night.

 I spent the afternoon doing very little but quietly reading in the warm. Come the evening it was time to go to the pub. I was looking forward to several pints of Winter Warmer. I had taken a £10 note with me and was confident I would be able to buy a round. I had not predicted we would have a full house with not only Iain and Kevin, but Howard and Bob turned up. So once again I had to sponge off the others for my drinking (OK, I could have stuck to just buying my own drinks). It did leave me £10 better off - which is handy - but I hate making a habit of it.

 I came home feeling nicely stewed, and confident I would sleep easily. It never happened. Every hour I would wake up coughing, and everytime I had to get out of bed to have a pee. It was really quite amazing as to how much pee my body was able to produce through the night. I am sure it was far more than the 4 or 5 pints (of beer !) I had to drink last night. I have been drinking a lot of fluid lately to counteract the amount I was losing out of my nose. My excessive peeing may have been influenced by the fact that my nose has now almost dried up. I am at the point where I just get a slow build up of very thick mucus that needs a good blow every 10 to 15 minutes (perhaps more) ( I did warn that I would be recording gruesome details in my opening paragraph). The day before I practically needed a bucket under my nose such was the rate of flow.

 So my sleep pattern through the night consisted of half a dozen 30 minute sessions.  I now feel very tired and reluctant to go to college today. Somehow I will have to find the strength to do it. I could omit today and go tomorrow, but with a late night looming in the internet cafe I wanted to keep most of Friday clear so I could get to the internet cafe in a relaxed mood. I'll make a final decision about today once I have had a good wash (and shampoo and shave) and have got dressed.  Perhaps I'll end up oing midday to 16.00.

Wednesday 9th March 2005

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07.30 GMT

Weather - cold and dry

 I think I am getting better. I still have a long way to go before I can say I am cured, but this morning my aches, pains, and other discomforts have changed - some for the better, but others are just different or new. Perhaps one of the more significant things is that yesterday evening, and during the night I was running a rather sweaty fever. I always regard this as a good sign (although I am not sure why). I reckon that in a few more days I will be over this cold, and that can't come too soon. It will be nice to be free of pain again.

 Yesterday was pretty horrible. I had to sign on at 09.00. It felt a bit of an effort to go out to do that, and yet I had to go out anyway to get some essential shopping. I combined the two, but that meant travelling light and I got moaned at for not taking all my paperwork to the Job Centre. The more essential parts of the shopping where tissues for snot, and oranges for vitamin C. I also bought some carrots. I am not sure why, but it felt like the right thing to do. There is obviously something in carrots that my body needs. My body didn't tell me what that was, and I didn't ask. I just obeyed the urge. In doing so, I forgot to buy Paracetamol and beef stock cubes.

 Once I was home again I felt a little better once I had warmed up, and assumed a very relaxed laying down position. I really did not want to do anything else for the rest of the day, but I knew I had to go to the internet cafe to finish off a PC I was repairing. I estimated that I would be out for no longer than 2 hours, but I had not counted on the boss' wanderlust. I knew the boss wanted to pop out during the afternoon to go to B & Q in Woolwich. He was gone for over three hours and I was not pleased when he finally returned. In some respects I did feel better when I was kept busy, but I was stretching my budget of tissues to the limit. Another hour and I would have been wiping my nose on my sleeve !

 I finally got home at around 16.30 feeling rather knackered. Once again, as had happened the day before, the walk across the damp park did me no good at all. It was not quite as bad as the previous evening, but I still found myself very wheezy and chilled to the bone. I did recover a lot faster than the previous evening (which must have been a good sign), and I soon had some hot food to take away the last of the chills. Initially I felt famished, but I ended up leaving the last of the meal. That in itself must be a sign that I was close to death. I NEVER lose my appetite halfway through a meal !  I spent the rest of the evening trying to reach a compromise between feeling too hot and too cold. Fortunately since Monday night feeling cold has only been a very uncomfortable feeling. On Monday the cold actually hurt like I was being stabbed with icy daggers !

 So this morning I am still suffering. Most of my actual pain is from secondary effects of the illness. My nose and top lip are sore from excessive nose blowing (I do get some relief by regular smears of Germolene, but it still feels dry and crusty). My chest and stomach muscles are sore from excess powerful mucus shifting coughing. One new symptom is a slightly sore throat. Despite this I am positive I feel better than yesterday, and remain convinced I am on the home straight of this filthy cold.

 I remain commited to go into college this morning. Given a choice I would prefer to stay home in the warm, but I have got to put the hours in. It is only for four hours. So it should not be too bad provided I have enough tissues with me. It will not be a popular move with the other poor inmates there. In fact it will be a most unsocial act, but my benefit relies on me playing the game and I have little choice but to comply.

 This afternoon I will totally vegetate in the warm. Hopefully I will then be feeling OK to get to the pub tonight. I have the beer vouchers and a strong desire to shift a few pints.

Tuesday 8th March 2005

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06.30 GMT

Weather - cold and dry

 Surprisingly I am still alive this morning. I can't say I am better, but I do feel different.

 When I went to bed last night I decided that I ought to add an extra duvet to make sure I kept nice and warm. It certainly worked.I almost cooked myself during the night. As a rule I do not like to be too hot in bed as it usually feels uncomfortable and sweaty. Last night it was a very dry heat and I was able to tolerate it without having to resort to poking my arms and legs out from under the duvet.

 All that heat produced some vivid dreams. I had a very realistic dream that I was awake at 06.00. It was only when I really woke up at 02.30 that I realised the first time had been a dream. While I was really awake I had to go to the toilet. That was quite difficult when racked with shivering convulsions. It felt so cold when I got out of bed, and the shivers travelled from the tip of my toes to the top of my head. I was a huge relief to get back into a nice warm bed. I had a less severe repeat of this at 04.30.

 This morning it is hard to pin down any one major symptom. I seem to have a variety of minor annoyances that together make me feel fairly bad. I am expecting some of the stiffness to ease once I start moving around a little more. My nose has stopped running, although it is still very stuffy. It feels as if it will take a long time to finally empty my sinuses. My throat is no longer dry and tickly, but I am coughing up the odd bit of lung. Finally, my brain no longer feels vague and floating, but I do have a very low level headache which can be a bit distracting. I have taken some Ibruprofen which might help any, or all of these symptoms.

 So today I have to sign on at 09.00. That is absolutely essential. After that I think I will have to get along to the internet cafe to finish some work there. I'd rather not have to do that. I'd prefer to stay in the warm quietly restoring some old vinyl records, but it is to my advantage to finish the work there. Maybe I'll do some vinyl restoration later this afternoon.

Monday 7th March 2005

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22.00 GMT
STOP PRESS : Late night update !!

Weather - Cold

 Here's an unusually late update. I thought I had better write something now in case I am still dead in the morning. I feel like I have sort of died tonight. I have a cold. there is no doubt about it. My symptoms do pretty much meet the specification for the standard Mk 4(a) British cold. My head is bunged up and I have a cough. Like that it does not sound much, but it is the sub symptoms that are specially bad.  Not that I have a submarine, but if I did I am sure it might feel like this.

My day started with a four hour session at college. (I'll call it college for now as it sounds far more exciting than "a course". To get there I had to endure a bus that was unusually packed to the gunnels (if buses have gunnels). My four hours were not very pleasant but bearable. My nose was stuffy but still not pouring, and my cough was dry. but still fairly intermittent.

 After college I went to the internet cafe. That had mixed blessings. a couple of the PC's I had repaired had been collected and I had the means to buy beer. There was another PC there for me to fix. It was not a difficult job, but long winded. Unfortunately it is freezing cold in the back room and I can shiver in there at the best of times. Spending a long time in there with a cold is not ideal ! The repair went pretty much as planned, although I still have a few more things to do to achieve perfection. I left there at just after 18.00 and walked home across the cold damp park.

 By the time I got in I was feeling very poorly. I was wheezy and my nose was pouring. I felt really chilled to the bone and I did not think I would ever warm up again. I turned the heating up full and put a warm jumper on. After I had some hot food I felt warmer, but still really rough. My tolerance to pain was at an all time low. Accidently resting my arm against a cold wall felt very painful, and I can't tell you the agony of accidently combing one pubic hair through the teeth of my fly zip while taking a leak. (OK I know you didn't want to hear that, butI didn't want to feel it either !!!) There was other unnecasary pain as well. My nose and upper lip were very sore from continual blowing. I have put some Germolene on now and it is much improved.

 For some time now I have been feeling quite hot. I don't think it is fever, but more a combination of hot food, pleanty of heating and a warm jumper. There is one other factor as well. My head feels very heavy, it is a bit like being light headed, but it hurts when I move my head too fast. The closest I can describe it is like being drunk and having a hangover at the same time. To either counteract that, or maybe enhance it. I have attacked my miniature bottles of Scotch and downed four bottles. I know on an intellectual level this will do no good at all. but on a psychological level it feels fine. I now feel like an amateur drinker. The room is stable, but my head feels like it is floating in space, and I can feel my heart beating in my cough  massacred chest. It all feels both good and bad. Every now and then I forget I am ill ,and just concentrate on feeling almost stoned. This has been enhanced by just watching John Cleese listing his favourite comedy actors. By and large we agree a lot on what we like. The more surreal stuff like The Goon Show, and Monty Pythons Flying Circus goes down very well in this state of mind, but even Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin can very very, very, good in small select doses. So I feel sort of surreal at the moment. I don't know if I can sleep like this. I think I feel very tired, but I am also fairly wobbly at the moment. If I am lucky this wobbliness heralds a high fever tonight and  I will wake up cured, but weak, in the morning.

 No matter what state I am in tomorrow morning I still have two things to do that I just have to do. The first is 150% essential and is to sign on at the job centre. The second I could dodge, but I would prefer not to. That is to finish of the PC I was repairing today. I will probably go in wearing the thick jumper I am wearing now. It is stained, and covered in cat hairs, but if it keeps me warm in that back room I don't care !

 One thing is for certain. I have now said 99% of what I would say tomorrow morning. So if I write anything tomorrow it is likely to be little more than the weather.
06.05 GMT

Weather - cold and dry

 I might, or might not, be suffering from a cold this morning.It may have started last night when I first started to get a dry  itchy throat, and a little while later, a runny nose. It all happened while I was rebuilding two PC's simultaneosly. In an attempt to cure some overheating problems I was cleaning up and installing extra fans. The old fans were, and the interiors of the PC's were filled with very fine dust. It is possible that it was that dust that dried my throat out and got up my nose. This morning I feel a bit wheezy and my chest feels a bit heavy, but the dry tickly throat sensation has gone and my nose has stopped running (mostly). My eyes still feel a bit sore and watery, but that might just be the after effects of sleep (or maybe lack of it). It still feels too early in the morning to work out just how I feel.

 Yesterday I did get to Tesco's, and fortunately my Club Card was in credit so I did not suffer the embarrassment of getting a basket of goods to the checkout without being able to pay for it. The other thing I did that I should have done on Saturday was a load of laundry. I don't know why I did not get around to doing it on Saturday. What I do know is that this morning it is still not totally dry and reday to wear.

 The other major project for yesterday I have already mentioned. It was the rebuilding of two PC's. Both my audio editing, and video editing PC's have suffered from overheating from time to time. Recently I transferred the insides of the audio editing PC to a huge server tower case. That actually made things worse as I relied on the extra space to make things run cooler. I have tried to avoid too many noisy fans as I want a quiet environment when doing audio work. Yesterday evening I transferred the innards of the audio PC to the case that was previously used for the video editing PC. That case now has a fairly powerful, but fairly quiet case fan mounted in the front bottom of the case. I hope that will be sufficient to keep that PC cool during the shortish periods when it is working hard. That part of the project is complete, but is still untested. While I was doing this I had the emergency PC in use to record, and clean up, some rare(ish) tracks from a few sampler LP's. The last track only finished being processed just before I went to bed so I could not disconnect it all to test the "improved" PC.

 The video editing PC is still only half rebuilt in the huger server tower case. When rendering a very big video file it works really hard and does get hot. The new case has plenty of spaces for cooling fans. It had some fitted already, but two of the are very noisy indeed. I will select a few of the quietest ones and fit them, or I may see if I can fit a one very large mains opertated fan. I have a really good one here that makes no significant mechanical noise, but the rush of air does sound hurricane like ! I could maybe fit that one somehow and have it switched so that it only operates when needed.There are several alternative ideas that I will pursue as I finally get the thing back together.

 Once the video editing PC is running satisfactorily I have an impossible job to do on it.  On Saturday night Patrick lent me a digital copy of a video tape dating back to the early 1970's. It has a fascinating, but amateurish documentary on it. Unfortunately the original tape has deterioated so badly that there is interference all over the picture from beginning to end. There are several techniques that can be used to restore some quality to video like that. Unfortunately they are extremely labour intensive. It would take me many months to try and restore the whole video, but I am going to have a go at restoring just a few minutes to see if I can actually do it. The entire documentary lasts for about 20 minutes. That represents 30,000 video frames. For a complete restoration each one of those 30,000 would need to be seperately worked on using a variety of techniques similar to restoring an old faded, and creased photograph. One bad photograph can easily take over 2 hours to restore. So assuming it was as simple as that, and that there are 30,000 frames to do it would take a minimum of 60,000 hours to do, or almost 16.5 years working for 10 hours a day, every day ! Oops !

 My plans for today were going to be rather unpredictable, but as time passes I think I have a better idea of what is going to happen. There was a possibility that if Ivor was still snowed in I would be going along to help out Iain. Ivor was supposed to call me last night if that was to happen. I never recieved a call, and haven't had one yet this morning. So I assume I am not needed. Therefore it will be college this morning and PC repairing at the internet cafe this afternoon.

Sunday 6th March 2005

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09.10 GMT

Weather - bright and sunny

 It's nice to wake up to a bright and sunny day. I think it is slightly milder too. It is still very cold, but the air has lost the chilling bite. Even Nelly seems full of the joys of spring this morning. She has been rushing around like a mad thing this morning. Is it just possible that spring is really here at last ?

 Yesterday was a funny sort of day. In the morning I went along to the internet cafe. There was still nothing for me there, but I did get an interesting, but rather scary offer. "How would I like do next Friday evening there, lock up at the end, and open the place up and run it on Saturday ?" The owner wants the weekend off to take his wife out and evidently trusts me enough to run the entire place, on my own ! It is a frightening responsibility, but I think I will do it.

 I spent yesterday afternoon being fairly lazy. I did want to go to Tesco's, but I was still unsure if my Club Card was in credit. I'm still not sure today, but I will have to chance it. For some of the time I amused myself by printing out a portfolio of some of the art/graphic work I have done that I am most proud of. In the end there didn't seem to be much of it. Some other time was spent cleaning up a few more singles.

 In the evening I was taken out for a meal by Patrick to thank me for the help and support I gave to his "Free Radio" DVD documentary project ( see http://www.radiokaleidoscope.co.uk for more details). We were joined by his sister and brother-in-law (who did all the video editing) at an Indian Resturant in Chelsfield called Saffron. It seemed a very pleasant place with very nice food. It did have one tiny downside though.
Dangerous plug wiring
It is diffiult to make it out what is going on from this poor quality picture taken with my camera phone. This is the plug and wire that powers the hand dryer. With a bit of imagination you can see that the cable sheath ends befoe the wire enters the plug. So the cord grip cannot be working correctly. What is not evident at all from this photo is that the earth wire has been cut short before it even goes into the plug. So the hand dryer is working right next to water and earthed taps without the case being earthed. I think officialdom would have a fit if they saw it working like that !

 Today I have a yearning to do some computer stuff. I still have to sort out the overheating problem of my Windows 2000 audio recordin/editing machine. For the last fortnight I have been using my "emergency" machine. It works well, but has limited disk space and is a little slow.

That is about all I can predict today. I will be waiting on a phone call from Ivor this evening. If he is still snowed in, and will have difficulty getting into work, I have been offered some beer money to go in and assist Iain covering some of his work. If East Kent is now passable, and Ivor can get to work, I will go to college instead. But that is for Monday, so I'll stop trying to see that far into the future.

Saturday 5th March 2005

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08.00 GMT

Weather - dry and cold. Some breaks in the cloud

 Soon after I had finished filming the snow falling yesterday it stopped. By midday most of it had melted, and by later in the afternoon the roads had dried out leaving no trace of just how snowy it had been earlier in the day. This morning it looks as if we could see some intermittent sunshine. The sky is mostly grey, but there are a few small breaks in it. It will be nice when one of those breaks lines up with the sun.

 Yesterday was quite a good day overall. I initially decided I would not be going out anywhere while the snow was still falling. I phoned up Iain to say that I would not be bothering to go to The Herne in such conditions, but to my surprise Ivor answered the phone. I thought he was cut off from the outside world in East Kent, but he had managed to get into work. He said that they were not going to The Herne, but instead going for an earlier than usual lunch at The Railway Telegraph in Forest Hill. With that news, and the promise of being stood a pint or two, I decided I would go out. By the time I left home at midday the snow had mostly melted and the bus journey easy. The two pints I was hoping for turned into three, and I heard of a couple of ways that I may be able to get a little more pocket money. I had the choice to go onto The Herne from there with Iain, but decided not to push my luck for charity too far. It may have been possible that I could have got a pint from Ruth, who I would have loved to see, but decided to take Ivor's offer of a lift home.

 It was reasonably early in the afternoon when I got home, but after three pints of Hurlimans I did not want to do much. So for the first couple of hours I read New Scientist, and had some late lunch/early dinner. Later on I decided to do some more 7 inch vinyl restoration. By the end of the day I had only done an extra four songs, but the collection is slowly building up.

 At several times during the course of the afternoon and evening I had phone calls from Lee who was desperately learning Paint Shop Pro so he could do a few modifications to the artwork I did for him. Apparently the customer was mostly happy with what I had done, but still wanted a few modifications made. As far as I know the definitive version has now been finalised and I can expect to be able to buy a round a little easier soon. Even better than that, I seemed to have sown the seeds correctly for Ivor to get the printing job. That should help offset my debt to charity beer a bit !

 This morning I ought to try and get along to the internet cafe to see if there is anything there for me.  I think I want to do some shopping today, but that may depend on the state of my bank account. My Tesco Club Card Plus should be charged with plenty of shopping money. It is usually in credit by the 5th of the month, but sometimes it takes until the 6th. I don't really want to get a basket of shopping and then find I can't pay for it. So I will only go if there is enough in my bank account to pay by debit card if the club card fails.

 One other thing I want to start today is to force myself to learn Adobe Photoshop. I am very proficient at using Paint Shop Pro, and it is difficult making the transition to something that does the same job, but in a different way. Unfortunately Photoshop is almost universally used in the the print trade, while Paint Shop Pro is almost unrecognised. I think it would help my career prospects, and money earning potential, to fall into line with that world.

Friday 4th March 2005

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07.05 GMT

Weather - overcast but dry
Update 10.00 : lots of snow. see it falling here.
 It was a cold day yesterday.  Perhaps this was not surprising considering the clear skies during the early hours of the morning, but it was also a lot to do with the wind which drove icy air into any crevice it could find. A few times during the day it did cloud over, and there was even a few weak little flurries of snow. Aside from that, and one other disappointment, it was quite a good day.

 I was supposed to have a one-to-one interview at 14.00 to discuss my needs, and to set some targets for my course. I did have something very similar on the Tuesday so I wondered what yesterdays one would be all about. It turns out that what I had on Tuesday was the one-to-one !  This peeved me a little as I had wasted some of the morning and gone in late to make sure I would be there at 14.00.

 It was a glorious feeling when I came out of the course at 15.00. The week there had finished, and thanks to some sunshine while on the bus home, it did not feel that late in the day.  From then I felt quite upbeat with a few good things that left me feeling quite happy. Perhaps one of the best things is that I think I may just about scrape through this month with no extra bank charges. After some really hard economies, and lots of sacrifices, I may have turned round a run of "unauthorised withdrawals" charges (half, or more,  of which have been caused by lack of funds due to having to pay unauthorised withdrawal charges anyway).

 Another high point was receiving an e-mail from Patricia. It seems she is still having trouble at work so I will still not be seeing her at any time in the near future. I do miss her, but her work has to come first. Other good things were Lee calling round to pick up a CDR with some stuff on it and swapping it for a bottle of diet Coke, and listening to some of the old 7" singles I had restored on the PC. It was the first time I had listened to them on good quality headphones (as opposed to the cheap crappy speakers attached to the PC). I was very pleased with the way they sounded. Some were not perfect, but considering the  state of the original playback I was almost surprised just how well they had come out.  I must find some time to copy and restore more of my collection.

 My plans for today are quite flexible. One idea that may still happen is to go over to The Herne for a drink. I have a bus travelcard, thanks to the course, so I do not have to pay any fares, but I could really only afford one pint. I was hoping hat Ivor and Iain would stand me a pint each, but Ivor is trapped by all the snow in East Kent and hasn't been able to get into work for the last few days. However Iain says he could probably afford a couple of pints for me, and I think Ruth still owes me a pint, so I may well go anyway. It may well have been before xmas the last time I was there so a visit is overdue, although for today it does depend on the weather. At this moment in time, 08.00, it is starting to snow. I doubt it will come to much, but I don't fancy being on a 185 bus struggling to get up the steep bit of the hill by Hornimans Museum. Once again, depending on the weather, I may pay a short visit to the internet cafe where there may be something for me. Later this afternoon, or maybe earlier if I do not get to The Herne, I think I will be tempted to do some more old record restoration.

 In parting, thanks to Dawn for the most recent comment. If you haven't read my reply Dawn, go there right now as there are a couple of links for you.

Thursday 3rd March 2005

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07.15 GMT

Weather - clear and bright

 What a surprise ! This morning all that nasty grey cloud has gone away, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that it does not appear to be frosty outside. It is still very cold though - except for my livingroom where I appear to have left the heater on low all night. I wonder how long this can last before the next band of cloud comes over ?

 Yesterday was pretty awful weather wise. It was cold, dull, grey, and prone to sleety rain all day. I managed to get out and do a little shopping, but a lack of funds prevented me from getting too much. My Tesco Club Card Plus had run out of funds so I had to use the last of my Club Card vouchers to pay for most of he bill. I got enough to stop Nelly and myself going hungry, and my Club Card will be back in credit in another day or two.

 Just after midday I went along to the internet cafe to cover the place while the boss was out in the afternoon. It was a miserable experience walking across the park in the sleety rain, and I felt very cold and damp when I got there. It did have some rewards going there even if they were fairly meagre. One reward was a small drinking voucher worth rather less than the time I put in, but better than nothing at all. The other reward was that one of the PC's there had finally downloaded a song I was rather keen to get hold of. While I was there I downloaded a few more songs from an archive site whose URL I can't remember (but I did bookmark it on the PC I was using). These songs were all in the public domain, and two were transcriptions from original 1930's 78 rpm records. Of these two one did turn out to be. like I had hoped for, an old blues record that has subsequently been covered by Eric Clapton (and others). It was the song "Motherless Children". It does sound radically different to Eric Claptons version, and I can't say that I like it, but it is interesting from a historical perspective. The other track was called "Cocaine", but I can't really relate it to the song performed by Eric Clapton or J.J. Cale. Maybe it needs a slightly longer listen.

 When I came home from the internet cafe I was once again frozen and sleeted on as I walked across the park. It was nice to get home and into the warm, and to have some dinner. The rest of the evening I spent either relaxing, playing with some artwork, or checking out the stuff I had downloaded at the internet cafe (transported back here on CDR). Being a Wednesday night it was supposed to be drinking night, but I called it off. I knew that Howard was not in London. Kevin had e-mailed me to say he was expecting to be late home and might be in too late to come to the pub. Finally, at the time I called Iain off, I was skint. That subsequently changed, but my first priority for that money is tobacco. Maybe everything will be OK next week.

 Today everything hangs around the course at Greewich. I have a one-to-one meeting with the staff there at 14.00. It is a sort of getting to know you thing and totally harmless except for the time. I do prefer to be in there as early as possible to get it over and done with, but today I will have to start at 11.00 and finish at 15.00 to get my last 4 hours in for the week. Fortunately it does come with a small sweetner as I get reimbursed for my fares. Not that I can spend that money as I will need to use it for next weeks fares.

 Before I go to Greewich I will do some job searches, and see if there is anything I can apply for. I may also do some research to try and identify some  firms I can send spec letters to. I don't really agree with this idea, but anything to keep those miserable people on the course off my back.

 Once I finish the course for today I will come home and vegetate (or something). Actually there are a few things I may do that do not really fall into the catagory of vegetating, but I'll leave my options open for the while.

Wednesday 2nd March 2005

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07.15 GMT

Weather - cold and slightly damp

 I've made a couple of small changes to the layout of this diary. The links to view my comments page (and read my response), and the link to add a comment are now up by the date in otherwise unused space. I have decided to keep to the idea of showing the cumulative totals of all the comments added for the entire month. If comments were coming in thick and fast (very unlikely) I would list the total day by day.

 Yesterday's session on the new course actually got worse than the first day. I had been lead to believe they were more relaxed about looking for work, and more prepared to let us use the methods we found best. It seems not. I have been set a seemingly impossible target of sending off 10 spec letters a week. I somehow doubt that I can identify 10 companies a week that I can spam via snail mail with pleas for job vacancies. Besides which the concensus of opinion among those of us who have worked in the sort of industries I am looking for work in is that it is just not the done thing. The last time I tried this method half the letters came back as undeliverable. Presumably the targets I had chosen had closed down. That is sort of indicative of the state of the industry, and why finding a new job is turning out to be so hard.

 After finishing at the course I headed over to the internet cafe to finish off working on an old Windows 95 machine. It's owner wanted to have a modem installed to get on the internet, and hoped that I could transfer some software to another machine. Unfortunately she is having great difiiculty coming to terms with the idea that once software is installed it is very difficult to transfer it to another machine without the original install disk(s). She is also convinced that the PS/2 mouse she brought in with the PC can be plugged in somewhere even though there is no PS/2 port on it. I have left one of my own serial mice there and offered to swap it for her old 28.8KB/s modem which has no power supply, but does have a couple of useful leads with it, and may possibly (very long shot) be software upgradeable to 56K. I hope she will finally be happy with what I have done for her and will be coughing up a drinking voucher or two.

 Today I have the morning off. I am not sure if my Tesco Club Card has enough credit on it, and if if doesn't I am not sure how I will pay, but I need to get some catfood, and some human food would be useful as well. So a quick trip to Tesco is on the cards. After that I have some artwork to attend to. That is causing me a few headaches because the specification for it seems to keep changing, but maybe it is my memory that is failing.

 This afternoon I am back at the internet cafe to cover the place as a special favour to the owner. That has got to be worth a packet of fags. While there, if business is slack enough, I will investigate possible companies to spam with pleas for job vacancies. To be honest I don't even know where to start when it comes to companies in the electronics sector. There are no major companies that I know of within 20 miles of S.E. London. For smaller companies it is often difficult to work out just what they actually do. Even those that do manufacture something often only assemble modules brought in from overseas, and just throw away faulty units.

 Something odd is going on. While writing this I have been listening to internet radio. Twice, in the last half hour, my modem has dropped out. I hope my phone line is not failing again. I wonder if I'll even be able to upload this page ?

Tuesday 1st March 2005

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06.30 GMT

Weather - cold and dry

 Welcome into March and a hastily knocked together new web page edited from last months web page. I'm not sure if I'll be leaving it like this or making any major changes to it. I have still to find a suitable picture for the header, or some zany (or serious) background pattern......correction : yes I have. I have found a KDE wallpaper file that is not too bad. It could be a little more purple, and I may make it so later.

 Yesterday I learned enough about my new course to depress me. Principally it lasts for 13 weeks, or 156 hours. I do have to do 12 hours per week, and no more than 4 in any one day. So far I have done 4 hours so there is still 152 hours to go ! I hope that I find a job before these hours are up. The hours are flexible which could be of some use, but normally I intend to get in as early as the place opens which is a rather late in the morning 09.30. Normalyy that will be Monday, Tuesday and either Thursday or Friday. The latter two days are the only ones when I can get my fare claim re-imbursed. After yesterday's morning induction session the rest of the time will be spent doing nothing but looking for work. Already I have had a conflict of interest with the staff there who cannot believe that I would prefer to use my own computer here at home, where I can eat, drink, smoke, belch and fart without offending anyone, rather then their computers with all those, and other, restrictions on their use. I will have a chance to more fully explain my feelings at my one-to-one assessment scheduled for Thursday afternoon, and hopefully resolve the conflict. It will be difficult though as their chief argument is to ask what I am going to do all the time I am there. The correct and truthful answer is that I will be very bored !

 Partly as a result of being forced on this course, but mostly just ongoing job searching, I have found a few more jobs to apply for. One is for a firm in Clerkenwell and is for PC/Mac/Linux technical support. Much of their business appears to be web centric. It may have been an act of bravery, but I have quoted this web site as a demonstration of my knowledge of web site technology, and in particular cited these diary pages as my best output. So Hi to everyone in Clerkenwell. Ignore the bit in the last paragraph about conflict on the first day of the course. (It was not a stand up row, but just some input during a classroom discussion). Also please ignore any typos and other bad spelling. I do these pages first thing in the morning, in a mad rush, before my eyes have even opened properly. Finally - give me a job or I'll come back and haunt you in later lives !

 After I had finished my 4 hours at the course I took a bus to Ladywell to visit the internet cafe. There is a customers PC there that they want put onto the internet. It is a rather low spec machine, but should be OK for basic web surfing and a bit of office work.Last week we sent her off to buy an external modem, and to bring in the mouse and keyboard for us (it is an old AT machine). The first modem she brought in was an internal modem which was no good. It was a PCI one, but there are no spare PCI slots on her motherboard. So she exchanged it for an external modem as per our original instructions. The keyboard she brought in was OK, having an AT style DIN connector, but the mouse was a PS2 mouse and useless on that PC. She swears it was the one her daughter (cousin, aunt, sister....?....?..) was using with it, but it must have been magic as there is no port for it. It most definitely needs a serial mouse. The upshot of all this is that I will have to go back there again today to try and sort it all out. I will bring in my own serial mouse to get things rolling, and hopefully finish the job today.

 That about sums up my day for today. Another 4 hours on the course, followed by another spell at the internet cafe, and finally a chance for some breakfast and put my feet up for 5 minutes. As I finish these last few words it it trying to snow again. It is only sleet, but the sky looks grey and horrible.
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