|Friday 31st March 2006|
Thank goodness it's Friday. I feel sort of knackered this morning, and a lazy day tomorrow would suit me just fine - except that tomorrow, being the first Saturday of the month, should see me drinking with my old Mastercare workmates in Elmers End during the afternoon.
If you missed looking at the single web page served from my 16 bit server, then it is too late now. After my final adjustments to the motherboard it was running very smoothly, and apparently reliably. I was tempted to just leave it on and see how much uptime I could get out of Windows For Workgroups 3.11, but with three other PC's running non stop I thought that a fourth may be overdoing it a bit. If you are curious as to what those three PC's are doing here is a list.
Tonight, after work, I ought to be going to have a drink with Iain at The Herne. I am not sure if I am going to make it now. Jodie wants to use the Studio, and Patricia is going out for a translators meeting (drink up !) early in the evening. I probably ought to go straight home to deal with them, plus I feel any more knackered tonight than I did last night, I will probably want to go straight home anyway. So if I don't make it -
Happy Birthday Iain.
|Wednesday 29th March 2006|
At last, some good news ! Last night I had a look at the motherboard jumper settings on my old museum piece PC. I am not sure what processor it was jumpered for, but now it is definitely set up correctly for an Intel 80486DX2. This has cured my intermittancy problem The machine no longer makes random beeps, and the desktop clock now runs reliably. In addition, the screen saver now kicks in correctly after it's time out of 15 minutes. That latter fault was not one I paid any attention to. I thought that maybe it was just activity on the LAN that was stopping the screensaver from starting. Heaven knows how long ago the incorrect jumpering has existed. The last time I used that motherboard in a serious way, when it was actually the fastest PC I owned, I don't recall any particular problems. So sometime between 1990 (say) and 2006, I must have been experimenting or something.
I am now convinced that the PC is running reliably enough to anounce the URL of the web server it is running (experimentally). It is :-
http://www.sunnyside.homelinux.org:8080 ( it is the 8080 that makes all the difference !).
|Tuesday 28th March 2005|
The weather yesterday was full of surprises. Most of the day was dull and drizzly. In fact at some points it was more than drizzle. Several times as I nipped out for a fag I got a bit of a soaking. As my train home left Wandsworth Town station I noticed it seemed to be brightening up. By the time I reached Waterloo the sun was out and the sky was blue. If it had not been for the very gusty wind it would have made a perfect end of the day.
This morning it is still a little windy, but the sky is still clear and the sun is shining. I reckon it could end up quite warm this afternoon unless the skies cloud over, and it rains again. At the moment it is very mild.
|Monday 27th March 2006|
Well, here I am, back at work again on this rather mild, but overcast and drizzly, morning. The weekend went well - up to a point. While I failed to get the Apus 2000 Mac clone usable (or something), I did have more success with my old 486 PC. I investigated the back-up battery, and it was fine (see yesterday for more details). In fact it is not the BIOS clock that is losing time, but Windows itself. I have come up with another theory that might explain this, and the random beeps the motherboard makes. When I installed Quicktime 2.0 it also installed a diagnostic utility. That suggests my processor is running at 75MHz. It is just possible that I once tried to overclock that motherboard, and that the jumpers on the motherboard are still in the overclock position. It is something I will have to investigate, but I didn't even know overclocking was possible on that motherboard. Assuming it is, and that it is being overclocked, then maybe my instability is down to that. The last possibility is that the power supply is on it's way out. In which case I ought to try and repair it before it damages itself beyond repair.
Despite all the negativity so far, I did fix one problem. The intermittent hard drive problem was most probably caused by a loose termination resistor on the SCSI interface card. Since fixing that (I actually removed them) the machine ran reliably for over 24 hours - except that I still get the clock display freezing, and the http server ignoring the outside world from time to time. In other problems, Internet Explorer (3.01) occasionally throws a wobbly, as does Netscape (4.05), but I think that was par for the course in these very early versions of web browsers. It can't help that some web sites have features not even dreamed of when those browsers were in common use !
One of the not totally unexpected observations on that old PC is that some programs are quite responsive, and very usable. Yesterday I installed Microsoft Works version 3 (I think). It loads faster than does MS Office XP (on a 2.1GHz machine !), and Word seems to have most of the features I would normally use when using a word processor. I reckon you could write your life story on it with ease. What we need now is a retrograde version of Open Office - stripped down to bare essentials and compiled for a 16 bit operating system. I reckon it would be a killer !
|Sunday 26th March 2006
At midnight (or was it 1am) the clocks changed from GMT to BST, and we have all lost an hours sleep. This was not very good timing for me. I stayed up extra late last night, and have not been able to get some extra sleep in. I was up several hours ago to let Smudge in, and to feed both cats, but after going back to bed I found it was hard to get back to sleep, and to stay asleep. So at some point today, perhaps after lunch, I must try to catch "40 winks".
"40 winks" is a phrase I have not heard in ages. I wonder where it comes from ? A little research on the internet shows that it is a common expression meaning to take a nap, and some suggestions for it's origins can be found here.
One curious aspect of the clocks changing has lead me to a diagnosis of a fault on one of my computers. The story actually starts yesterday morning when I received the stick of server memory that I had high hopes would work in the cursed Apus 2000 Mac clone. Sadly it didn't, but I have come closer to realising just what type of memory I want. It appears that the position of the leftmost locating notch determines that I want SDRAM. Anyhow, with no luck with the Mac I turned to another old beast of mine. This was the computer I call "Museum" when it is connected to my network. The last time I tried it I haad terrible trouble with disk access failures. I have now sort of cured that. It was either dirty connections on the 50 pin SCSI connector, or maybe a dry joint where the SCSI connector is soldered into the SCSI interface card. I have not physically inspected the latter yet, but a good wiggle of the ribbon cable where it plugs in to the board seems to have given me reliable service back for the moment. So for the last 12 - 15 hours the machine has been on and not crashed once, and yet the web server in it keeps becoming unavailable, and the machine seems to drop off the network (invoking the web browser - Netscape 4.05 - seems to get it connected again). One clue to this mysterious behaviour is that occasionally the machine beeps (similar to when it first starts up). This was obviously some sort of BIOS problem, except that the BIOS should not really be doing much once DOS has loaded. A big clue to this has come about because I have been paying attention to the clock. Early this morning I set the clock in line with the clocks changing. It was several hours out when I did it, and I have been watching it carefully since then. Occasionally it just stops, and sometimes these stoppages coincide with the random beeps. It is now my belief that the back up battery is going intermittently short circuit and causing some sort of partial warm reboot. I last changed the back up battery with a very high quality Philips Ni-Cd's, as used in certain Philips TV sets, about 7 years ago. I know that these can last for countless years, but it is my guess that maybe one of the cells (I think there are three) has a short. I think that later today I may change the back-up battery to just a pair of ordinary AA cells and see how they fare.
So I guess the plan for today is to replace that back-up battery, extract and examine the SCSI interface card for dry joints, take 40 winks, and, errrr, eat and go back to bed ready for getting up at what will seem a stupid hour of the morning ready for work. It has been nice having an extra long weekend, but my cold is now over (apart from a few after shocks) and work beckons again.
|Saturday 25th March 2006
I have a feeling that the clocks change from GMT to BST sometime around this date. Tonight, at midnight, would be the logical time.
Yesterday was overcast with quite a few scattered showers, but today it looks as if the sun may come out. The temperature is not bad at the moment. For the last couple of days it has been up to 10 or 12° C. If It an manage it today, with sunshine, it will be a very pleasant change. There is still plenty of time for snow though. The picture at the top of the page was taken on the 3rd April (even though until now it has been incorrectly labelled as March).
My memory stick for the Apus 2000 Mac clone did not arrive yesterday, but I have high hopes it will arrive today. So yesterday I just lazed around in the warm getting over my cold. It was partially succesful. Although my nose is still often blocked I actually do feel less yucky than yesterday, and much better than the day before.
I have recently woken up from a dream that was another variant in series of dream I have had with a common theme. It was about moving into a new house. The first bit I remember was going into a relatively new house, not too dissimilar to the infamous 148 George Lane (those who knew it will know why I describe it as infamous). As I went in my oldest brother and brother-in-law were carrying out some furniture and asked for some help. It seems the stuff they were taking out was to make room for new stuff. I said I would help, but had to put on some shoes and socks first. I went upstairs into my room, but had trouble finding where my socks were. Upstairs the house seemed to be much older, and I knew there was a third floor, unused and dusty, that was even older. My mum came into my room and started fussing around, and for some unexplained reason started hanging a string of lights around the fireplace. They were not little fairy lights, but appeared to be not too dissimilar to the 8W coloured bulbs used in telephone exchange alarm lamps (about the size of ping pong balls). The last bit of the dream I can remember was asking my mum if I could take over the third floor where I planned to use one room as an alternative sitting room for my guests, and to use two other rooms as bedrooms - one for me, and one for guests. These would share an ensuite bathroom. Obviously I was hoping for some lady guests, and that access between rooms, albeit via a bathroom, was a part of my sordid plan (!!).
I do remember another dream, or at least parts of it, but I don't think here is a suitable place to describe it. As an aide-de-memoir to myself I shall just record the following keywords : Patricia, mistaken, cut foot.
So today, I hope that the memory stick arrives and I shall waste several hours, or more, playing with Mac computers. Other potential tasks are to transfer some more old VHS recordings to DVD on my DVD video recorder. I have done most of my Dr Who collection, and the three surviving episodes of Star Cops. So I'll move onto something else.
|Friday 24th March 2006
This is a silly time to be up in the morning, but I was woken up by a wrong number on the phone, and couldn't get back to sleep again. Under normal circumstances this would be a disaster, but things aren't normal at the moment. I am suffering from a cold. Just the common cold, but it is bad enough that I am prepared to lose two days wages to stay at home. Yesterday I couldn't face the idea of going in to work on a crowded train with my nose dripping everywhere. Besides which, the work I am currently doing requires a lot of squinting down a bench magnifier. The heat from the lamp, and the fumes from the soldering iron, would probably cause my nose to drip all over the magnifiers lense (yuck !!). So I had yesterday off work, and I didn't intend to go into work this morning unless I felt 120% fit. Right now my nose is a little drier than yesterday, but I still feel a bit bunged up. So no work again for me this morning.
I spent a good deal of yesterday sitting in the warm transferring some old VHS recordings of Dr Who onto my DVD recorder. It is a slow process because it has to be done in real time, but I have been quite pleased with the results so far. The picture quality does not seem to suffer during the transfer, and the results are as good, and sometimes better, than some material of similar vintage I have downloaded from the internet. I did make one major blunder. There was a really ancient Dr Who story called The Mind Robber that started with episode three on the tape I was dealing with. I initially assumed that was all I had recorded, but later I found the first two episodes on another tape. So my new DVD starts with episode 3 then follows with episodes 4 and 5 before episode 1 and 2. There seems to be no way of altering the position of the recordings (on my DVD recorder) so in future years, when I come to watch it again, I must try and remember to play the episodes in the correct order.
I may well spend some time, perhaps a lot of it, doing more VHS to DVD transfers today, but I am hoping for an alternative distraction. I had an e-mail from the man selling me the stick of server memory that I hope will work in my Apus 2000 Mac clone. He said he posted it off first thing yesterday. With luck it will arrive today and I can finally find out if it is going to work and convert a useless door stop into a semi-useful computer !
I am beginning to feel tired again. So I guess I will go back to bed now. I will have to be up again by 08:30 to wait for the postman, but at least I should be able to catch another couple of hours of sleep.
|Wednesday 22nd March 2006|
This morning the sun is shining - yet it is still very cold. However the forecast is for London to reach the giddy heights of 7 or 8º C this afternoon. Even in the hour it has taken to get to Wandsworth there has been a noticable rise in the temperature. Standing in the sun, wearing black clothing, it can actually feel quite pleasant when the wind drops. This sunshine does raise my spirits a lot. Quite how it could affect my irritable bowel syndrome is a mystery, but maybe it has. For most of my commute into work I felt quite comfortable, and yet my regular calls into the toilets on Waterloo East station, and the Petrol station near Wandsworth Town station, actually produced results. It is more often the case that I am in great discomfort and yet nothing happens. Weird !
It is looking like my chance to get a long neglected blue iMac has all but failed. That is a bit of a pity, but I now have some alternative plans to add a Mac speciment to my home network. Since mentioning about the 128MB stick of server memory on Monday I have sent off the required £5 to the man selling it, and I hope I may get it for the weekend. I have also found, and downloaded, a copy of the Jedec specifications (pdf format) for 168 pin memory. Armed with that information, a hot soldering iron, 20lbs of gelignite, and a pre-frontal lobotomy, I should be able to get anything working in that dreadful Apus 2000 Umax Mac clone.
Tonight, all being well, is drinking night. If Kevin's work schedule goes to plan I should be able to meet him in The Ram for a three pint session at 19:30. There is even a minor chance that Iain will join us, and also a very slim chance that Patricia may join us. If Iain does make it I foresee Kevin having an unusually long session, but I will still have to leave around 21:00 to get my beauty sleep in, and be ready to get up at the crack of dawn ready to go to work - which reminds me......It is now light when I wake up at 05:30 in the morning. I think this contributes to my occasional feelings of well being lately.
|Monday 20th March 2006|
It is a time of transition. Today is the first day of spring, and I feel slightly odd. As well as the weather going through (an alleged) transition, it feels as if my body is as well. It is a curious mix of contradictions. I feel amazingly well this morning, and yet I woke up several times in the night coughing, and with my nose threatening to start streaming. Then there was my walk from the station to work this morning. It felt like I should have so much energy, but I didn't. It was a curious feeling. Perhaps the closest analogy was that it was like I was drugged on painkillers. It seemed a horrendous effort to walk fast, and yet it was almost like my legs were numbed and I could feel no pain from the waist down. It is obviously all in the mind (man) ! Perhaps it was because I put on a fresh pair of jeans this morning. That does not sound too exciting until I say I got into the wrong pair (The Wrong Trousers !). I think they were a pair that I was not wearing because they were too tight. Yet I got into them OK, and almost left them on until I noticed the pair I was going to wear. The proper pair were a nice, almost, loose fit despite being freshly laundered. So what does this prove, and why should it affect me ? I'd guess it was the realisation that I have not put on the weight that I thought I had put on. Maybe there is hope that with warmer weather on the way I will be tempted to eat even less and those tight, but just wearable, jeans will fit even easier. Maybe, we'll just have to see.
I had a nice dream last night. It involved beer and trains (sadly no women). In this dream I was trying to get home form (I think) Victoria station. As we left the station the train almost turned into a tram and started going down the road. The route looked unfamiliar and I was not sure if I was on the right train. As the first station approached it was obvious it was not the right train so I got off. The view here was curious. The train was a single carriage, but was being pulled by what looked like just the front cab of a class 319 (Thameslink) type train. The station was just a basic halt with only a single platform for the single line. It was very basic and had few clues to it's age, but I assumed it was a station that time had forgotten. Just beyong the station was a bridge over the mainline (I never did discover where it went to and where it came from). I noticed a small steam engine shunting some carriages. I left the station and noticed Kevin was there as well. He suggested we go for a beer and lead the way to a pub. It was a difficult walk involving going along a narrow ledge on the side of an embankment, a long drop down onto the gravelly bank of a river, and finally crossing the river by means of some small boggy stepping points. Eventually we arrived at the pub. It looked like a proper pub, but was the size of a garden shed. There was no one inside, and no bar, but there was a barrel of beer in there. So we served ourselves and paid for the beer when we met the manager outside. At that point the cats (mostly smudge) were making so much noise that I woke up.
It was a good weekend. I was pretty lazy - as is now the norm for most weekends - but I did do some gardening. This consisted of pulling enough weeds in the front garden to let the daffodils see the light of day ! Today Patricia might buy me some seeds to sow out there. This means I will be forced to do some (almost) proper gardening ! As well as gardenuing I did a little computer experimentation. I fitted a wireless card to one of ther PC's in the hope I might see someones network, but there was absolutely nothing to see. This could indicate a faulty wireless card, but I think it is more likely that the nearest wireless user to me is too far away. One of my intentions over the weekend was to upgrade one, or more, of my old PC's with more memory. Unfortunately I either had a lapse of memory, or back in "prehistory" big memory was too expensive to even consider, but I found out the hard way that many old PC's will not accept 64MB 72 pin DIMM's. I thought I was lucky finding some 64MB strips of memory at what seemed a bargain price - perhaps now I know why it was a bargain. Fortunately my semi-pro (or something) Pentium Pro motherboard will accept the memory sticks. That motherboard is not actually in use, but maybe now it has 256MB of ram it ought to be. That 200MHz Pentium-Pro processor was very fast for it's day, and can still provide some very useful service even now. The one thing holding me back from using it until now was lack of memory. So what ATX case will get a motherboard transplant now ???
One other comment on memory. There was a classified ad in Micro Mart for someone selling a stick of 168 pin server memory. I had seen the ad before, but this time I have responded to it. If I can get it, and it works OK, I may be able to get my Apus 2000 Mac Power PC clone off the starting blocks and actually be useful for something.............At the moment it works OK, but if you want to use something like Photoshop on it you have to start the program the previous day to allow all the hard disk caching to take place as it struggles to fit everything into a mere 16MB of ram. With a full 128MB of ram it may finally come alive.
|Friday 17th March 2006|
I don't know what is more important - to say it is snowning, or to say that I feel knackered. It's probably best to clarify the snowning bit first as there is little to say about feeling knackered. It has been snowing - but only just. Maybe it was sleet, but it looked too substantial for that. My difficulty in identifying it in more detail is because I could rarely see more then two snowflakes at any one time. During my 10 minute walk from From Wandsworth Town station to work I only felt one snowflake actually hitting my face. It felt soft and wet, but not sqidgy and wet like sleet would. So for the purposes of my personal diary - it has been snowning this morning !
It is amazing to think it is Friday already. I am looking forward to a nice weekend of rest and relaxation. Rest and relaxation could take several forms - some of them not that restful or relaxing, but none of them involving commuting from Catford to Wandsworth (and back again). Several things could be on the agenda. I think Patricia is mostly free this weekend. So I hope I will be able to spend some time with her. Maybe if the weather is not too bad we may go out for a wander around London, or something. As an alternative, or maybe addition to that, I am hoping for a little PC action this weekend. If I am lucky I will have a packet waiting for me when I get home. Inside the packet will be a PCI wireless card. So my wireless networking experiments could take a step forward. Also in the packet should be some RAM sticks. I think I ordered 4 sticks of 64MB 72pin EDO memory. It's not much good for modern PC's, but it may get an old PC (or two) working a bit faster, and maybe I will finally have enough memory to do a useful installation of Linux on one of my very low end PC's. There is a danger that one or another of these "museum pieces" will not be happy with these ram sticks (double sided isssues etc), but at least one should benefit from a memory boost. Perhaps even the Dell PC that I found by the roadside recently will be able to install Windows XP like some joker tried to do with its meagre 32MB of ram installed (not that I would want to seriously try and use Windows XP on a 133MHz machine !). Incidentally, the memory came from http://www.scan.co.uk at around £9 per stick. I trhought that was a reasonable price for obsolete memory.
|Wednesday 15th March 2006|
The weather remains cold with occasional showers. I have managed to avoid most of them, but last night there was a bit of sleety rain as I walked from Catford Bridge Station to home. Today we are promised the temperature will rise to a "glorious" 8º C, and there will be sunny intervals - we'll see !
I have been feeling a little rough just recently. On my way home last night I was suffering some mild, but worrying, discomfort in the "lower" regions". It was bad enough that I left work 15 minutes late as I wanted to stay near a toilet. This morning I did not feel too clever, either. There was less fear of immenent disaster, but I was happy to get to work where I found I didn't need the toilet after all. In my younger days I was rather bemused by the fascination that older people had with their (and others) bowels. Maybe I am learning they were on to something after all. Does this mean I am now officially "old" ? Well, I'll be 51 this year, so I guess the answer is yes ! Of course there is more to this discomfort thing. I find I am increasingly suffering from lower back pain. I suspect this is the legacy of lifting very heavy TV's and TV tubes during my 7 years as a professional TV engineer. I am quite glad to have got out of that trade - which has a very bad history of crippling it's workers.
Tonight it seems unlikely that any drinking will be going on. Since starting work, the regular Wednesday night drinks have become fairly rare, and Iain is usually otherwise pre-occupied with Angela. So tonight I think I deserve an early night - I certainly feel like I could do with one. The cats woke me up at 05:00 this morning. I tried to ignore them, but their racket, and the call for the first pee of the day, were too much and I had to get out of bed. Once out of bed it did not seem worth trying to go back for another 10 minutes sleep. So I lost 30 minutes of possible sleep this morning, and I stayed awake reading in bed for too long last night. The net result is that I felt knackered on my way to work this morning, and, no doubt, by the afternoon I'll be falling asleep.
|Monday 13th March 2006|
It was a funny old weekend.
It started, like many do, on Friday night. I left work an hour early to meet Ivor and Iain in The Herne. Several pints were consumed, and an interesing demonstration of the capabilities of a modern G3 mobile phone were shown (!). One of the reasons why I was determined to meet up with Ivor and Iain, beyond just wanting a drink, was to get my "new" G3 iMac. Sadly they seem to have lost in somewhere. So maybe I'll get it another day. Ivor left the pub a bit later than he intended - about 17:30 I would guess - and Iain gave me a lift home a bit earlier than I expected - about 18:30 (plus or minus 30 minutes). Apart from the traffic on the approaches to catford being a little bit slow moving at that time, it was nice to get in a bit earlier than I thought I would. When I got in I found Patricia had not eaten. So I treated her to a curry. She had Chicken Tikka Massala, while I had a Tandoori Mixed Grill. Later, it was time for an early night (for Friday) as I wanted to get up reasonably early to go to do my overtime on Saturday.
It was nice going into work on Saturday. Perhaps I had better rephrase that. It was a more relaxed journey going in than on a weekday. I had no specific time to arrive at work, but I intended to get there before 10:00. I left myself plenty of time, and took it easy changing trains. I managed to get in at 09:50. The day went well, but it was longer than I anticipated. It was my original intentio to work about half a day - four hours - but I ended up staying for six hours. It was no great hardship, and it earned me a little more money.
On Saturdays (and presumably Sundays) the rear entrance to the Wandsworth Business Village is locked shut. This meant adding another 5 to 10 minutes walk between work and the railway station. After the extra long walk I got to the station and was just in time to catch a Waterloo bound train. That was timed nicely to cross over to Waterloo East and catch a semi fast train to catford Bridge. Amazingly, I was home, door to door, in under an hour. I didn't time things accurately, but it may have been as little as 45 minutes !
When I got home Patricia announced that she was going out for the evening with one of her fellow translators (the Italian one) and her husband. She left home before we had eaten, so I ordered a killer kebab and stuffed myself stupid while watching TV. At 01:15, on Sunday morning, Patricia phoned to say that she would be out all night !! (To be fair she had warned me that she had been offered a bed for the night as the night out was in North London where the couple live). Apparently, being typical Italians (Patricia's words, not mine !) they decided to go for a Pizza last thing in the evening, and spent ages in a very Italian pizza resturant, doing very Italian things (presumably talking non stop and at high speed !).
Sunday was a very lazy day for me. I fed the cats at 05:30. After a quick check on my e-mail, and some downloads, I went back to bed only to be woken up earlier than I wanted by Patricia's alarm clock going off (several times !!). So I got up, showered, and then lazed around. Patricia finally came home shortly after 10:30, and immediately started work on finishing a translation.
Later in the early afternoon we went for a short walk to the shops. I think Patricia was looking for a far longer walk, perhaps a circuit or two of the park. We had a look around the Pound shop, and then Poundstretcher, before getting some real shopping in Tesco. I then carried on being pretty lazy for the rest of the afternoon. Maybe it would be better to say I was relaxed rather than lazy. There were a few things I did like taking out rubbish, and empty the cats litter tray. As afternoon moved on to the first stages og evening I was inspired to do some very destructive things - I viciously threw away some old junk that has been sitting on a shelf unused for the last umpteen years. I then moved my server onto that shelf, and liberated 2 square feet of workspace to clutter up with some other PC experimentation - or maybe even iMac experimentation !
Last night (Sunday night) I went to be very early. I read until 21:00, turned off the light, and was asleep almost instantly. Apart from getting up for a wee at 01:45, I slept solidly until my alarm radio woke me up - amazingly it was not the cats this morning. It was a nice bright sunny morning (it's still sunny as I write this at 11:24), but it is still very cold, with a nasty cold wind.
|Friday 10th March 2006|
It should be the end of the working week, but I think I will be working overtime tomorrow. There is some doubt in this because it really depends on how much I achieve today, and possibly whether some new circuit boards arrive.
Yesterday was a fun day. The "fun" actually started as I was leaving work to go home. The heavens opened and the rain just gushed down. After a few minutes it did ease off a little, but by then I was wet anyway. As I walked to the bus stop there was just one solitary flash of lightning, and one peal of thunder. The lightning could have hit anywhere, but it chose to hit the railway signalling system controlling all the trains in South London. When I got to Wandsworth Town station all the departure boards were showing DELAYED. I had to wait until about 16:34 before a train finally turned up (potentially I could have just caught the 16:10 if it had run). That train then moved at walking pace towards Clapham Junction (the next station). Half way there it stopped for what seemed like an eternity. I would estimate that it was over 10 minutes. Meanwhile I was feeling very uncomfortable, and very keen to get to a toilet. When we finally reached Clapham Junction I dived off and headed for the toilets in the underpass. My need was not as desperate as I had thought, but it was still a great relief to get there. Anticipating that the trains to Waterloo may still be severely delayed and slow moving, I decided to get a train to Victoria in the mistaken belief that those trains would have toilets on board - just in case I experienced a repeat performance of what had happened between Wandsworth Town and Clapham Junction.
The first train I saw to Victoria did not actually have on-board toilets, but it did stop at Battersea Park station. So I took a chance, and apart from one brief wait at signals just before Battersea Park station, it arrived faily quickly. The advantage of Battersea Park station was that I could change trains to get a train towards Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye. At either station I could change to a "Catford Loop Line" train to take me to Catford. The announcements always say to change at Peckham Rye, but I prefer to change at Denmark Hill. At the latter it is a quick run over the overbridge to change platforms. At Peckham Rye you have to go down a long twisty staircase, along a long twisty corridor, and then back up another long staircase.
I had about a 5 to 10 minute wait at Battersea Park station for my (also delayed) Denmark Hill and Peckham Rye train. Some of the time I passed by taking a call from Ivor. Soon after the train departed I wondered what would happen if I phoned Iain. I thought there may have been a chance that he was in The Herne. He was. So I left the train at Peckham Rye and caught a bus to The Herne where we had a couple of pints before he dropped me off at home.
Tonight I will be repeating some of the same journey, but in a more controlled, and planned, way. I will leave here (at work) at 15:00 and take a 77 bus to Wandsworth Road station where I will get the train to Peckham Rye. From there it is only about 5 to 10 minutes on a 63, or 363, bus to The Herne. With luck and a fair wind I'll be in there to have a drink with Ivor, Iain ands Ruth at about 16:15. Hopefully Iain will also have found, and brought with him, the iMac that is the next item in my absurd collection of computing equipment.
|Thursday 9th March 2006|
Last night I spent a couple of hours in The Ram with Kevin. It was a good night with nice beer - Youngs, St Georges ale if you are curious. Some of the time was spent experimenting with infra red communication between our two Nokia mobile phones (Kevin has a new one). We managed to exchange business cards with ease, once we got the hang of it, but exchanging pictures proved to be impossible. One of us is now going to RTFM (read the flaming [!] manual), or not, as the case might be.
Today, as was the case yesterday, viewing this page could be a slow experience. I have left a PC on at home downloading some stuff. Yesterday it was the four CD's that make up Yellow Dog Linux. Today it is something different. When the downloading is going well it can almost saturate my bandwidth leaving little spare capacity for use by my server. Yesterday was probably not too bad as it was a straight ftp session, and so I was not sending much data from my location. Today it is a Bit Torrent download, and that means my PC will also be uploading stuff as a peer on the Torrent. That data is going in the same direction as data from my server as it makes it's way out on to the world wide web. So apologies if this page take 99 minutes to download.
The reason for the Yellow Dog Linux is that tomorrow, if all goes to plan, I will be taking delivery of an old iMac, courtesy of Iain. The age of the beast pre-dates Mac OSX, although it is theoretically capable of running it. The recent releases of OSX have difficulty on this machine because of hard disk size and hard disk partitioning - or at least that is what appears to be the case. I have my suspicions that with a little jiggery-pokery I will get OSX running on it OK, but in the meantime I want a safe alternative *nix based operating system, and Yellow Dog Linux not only should provide that, but also satisfy my curiosity about Linux on Mac's.
|Tuesday 7th March 2006|
All dreams are strange, but the one I had this morning comes into a slightly different category. I am not sure what category it should be "filed" under, but for the moment I'll just say it was rather novel. In this dream I did not appear to be a participant at all. It was more like watching TV or a movie. The view was of some red neck bar in America. Drinking in the bar, amongst some pretty raw characters, was Superman in his guise of Clark Kent. One of the rough characters was getting annoyed with Superman for some reason or another. I was looking forward to a movie style comedy bar punch up where, not only convention dictates that "our hero" comes out on top, but being Superman the outcome was assured anyway. It did not happen like that though. It ended up with the two of them singing a duet. If that is not bizarre enough, the bad guy was singing in a high pitch, while "mild mannered" Clark Kent, aka Superman, was singing in a powerful bass voice. Logic dictatates it should have been the other way round. On reflection, I wonder if there was an earlier part of the dream I have forgotten where I was actually watching TV, and the images I can remember were what was showing on the TV. If only my imagination were as good as that when I am awake I could make a fortune in writing fiction. Alas, these things only come to me in dreams. I can't even remember the song being sung, but I have a feeling I might have "invented" that as well ! Bah, another lucrative career down the drain !
|Monday 6th March 2006|
Nelly had a bit of an adventure last night !
Patricia finally got home from Spain at about 23:30. She was totally knackered and it appears she did not have the strength to fully close the front door. I got up at 05:30 this morning and found Nelly coming in the front door that was half open. Fortunately we were not murdered in our beds, nor was anything stolen by intruders, but it was a hell of a shock to realise the front door had been open all night. It is just possible that Nelly managed to open the door if it was only closed but not latched. She is quite good at opening doors if they have only been pushed to.
Normally Nelly is never allowed out the front, although she has been out there on one or two previous occasions (and of course, in a basket on her way to and from the vet). I wonder how far she wandered last night ? I would guess not too far, but you never know..........
Today I have been feeling tired, and right now I have a mild headache. It was a funny sort of day yesterday. I got up a lot earlier than was neccesary, and then had a series of cat naps throughout the day. I knew I would be up late waiting for Patricia to come home, but I had no idea just how late she would be. Her plane was due to land at 21:00, and we estimated that with luck she could be home by 22:00. Obviously she was less than lucky with the trains. I believe that she caught a train to Lewisham and took a bus from there. Maybe she had just missed a Hayes train, or just decided to play it safe and get the first train to where she knew it would only be a short bus ride to home. It was too late, and we were both too tired, to discuss the finer points f her journey home last night. I hope that she is not distracted by a huge, and inevitably urgent, translation job tonight. Not only does she need a rest, but it would be nice to sit down and have a relaxing chat with her.
|Sunday 5th March 2006
It's only just Sunday, but I thought I would get up again and do some writing. I originally went to bed at around 9pm feeling hung over and bloated.
Yesterday - Saturday, just over 30 minutes ago now - was the first Saturday of the month, and I went to The William IV pub in Elmers End to met up with my old work colleagues from Mastercare. It has been the first meeting I have attended since at least last November, or possibly October. As such, it was rather better than that last meeting. After such a time there was lots of news to catch up on, and that made it far more interesting. As far as servicing is concerned, the company seems to be taking a huge dive. It is now (informally) estimated that the move from Elmers End to Erith, when all the consequences are added up, would probably have paid the rent, and the wages of at least half a dozen of us, for the next ten years (without us even lifting a finger to actually do any work). Those consequences go far beyond the actual cost of physically moving the workplace, and far beyond the cost of redundancy payments. Allegedly, some of those consequential costs include the recent mountain of paperwork generated by the process of sacking someone who was taken on in haste as we all left the sinking ship !
Anyhow, it was an excellent drinking session that went on far longer than I realised. I had finally got to the pub at just after 2pm, and it was dark when I left the pub. Annoyingly I just missed a train home at 18:08, and had an almost 30 minute wait for the next train. Although it had been bright and sunny when I first went out, and it did not feel all that cold, after dark the temperature seemed to plummet, and I felt really chilled waiting for the next train. It felt so cold that I investigated the possibility of getting a bus home. There was a 54 bus waiting at the bus stand. So I got on it and paid my rip-off £1.50 fare. After sitting there for 10 minutes (it is where the buses terminate and head back to Woolwich) I decided to get off again and wait for the train (which was now less than 15 minutes away). I lost another minute taking a pee in the bushes on the rear approach to the station, and then the train was a minute early anyway. So I reached Catford at least 10 minutes before the bus would have done, and probably more. I was fairly drunk at this time, and also feeling very peckish. In consequence I abandoned plan A and went for plan B. Plan A was to order a huge curry when I got home. Plan B was to order a bucket of chicken from the fried rat shop on my way home.
After I got indoors I had a few chores to do. These included hanging up some washing from the washing machine, and the inevitable feeding of the cats. With that done I sat done in front of the TV and munched my way through a substantial amount of fried chicken. After that I felt very sleepy and went to bed. I was so knackered I went to sleep almost instantly. I can't remember the time, but it may have been just before 9pm.
After about three hours sleep I had some dreams. The last of which got so absurd that it woke me up. In the first dream I was in a school. I am not sure what age I was supposed to be. I was almost, but not quite, a pupil there, although part of the dream conversation suggested that I was not far from my proper age. I was there to attend a science conference with a teacher and a pile of assorted pupils. Most were anonymous, but I did recognise "Steve Ego" across the other side of the classroom. I was sitting next to a girl who was a pupil at the school, but who was obviously not a schoolgirl. I would estimate her age to be about mid twenties. At some point she showed me some device with a small screen on it. I was not sure if it was a games machine, mp3 player, pocket TV, or even a personal DVD player. I couldn't see the screen (and I am not sure what she wanted me to be able to see on it). To give me a better look she put her arm around me and pulled me in very close to her - which felt rather nice ! Just then I noticed Ivor sitting behind us and turned to say hello. She then asked me if I used "Media Services" to do my photocopying as well. I said no, and that I had known Ivor for a long time. So she asked Ivor if he employed me. He said no, and I said that in a way, I once employed him (thinking, but not saying, of the time when he was one of the DJ's when I was said to be running RFL). She said that I was not old enough to have employed Ivor (implying that Ivor looked far older then me). I think I could have got on well with that girl, but we had to leave then, and I started a new dream sequence.
This second dream also had Ivor in it. It started off normally, but descended into farce. I don't know where we were going, but we had to either catch, or change, trains at some station on the banks of the Thames - maybe Woolwich. The station itself resembled the architectural style of Crystal Palace station, but it was a terminus, and it was also built partly on a pier over the river. The first sign of the dream degenerating into something resembling an LSD trip (not that I have ever had the pleasure of one) was when the water level was different depending on the perspective. At the station the water was at high tide and threatening to wash over the platform. It looked terribly deep and turgid. Yet a little way further up the bank the water looked at low tide with plenty of mud exposed. On the mud were these strange creatures that were the size of small cats, and were a sort of cross between a lobster and a crab (maybe a horseshoe crab). Behind their front legs (pincers ?) they had inflatable gills (almost frog like) and could bark something like a dog. It was more a sort of roaring bark. For a laugh I tried barking back at one of the crabs that had come close to us. To my surprise it started chasing me. I can't say this scared me, but it did irritate me as I thought it might make us miss the train. It could run very fast, and even down stairs. At the bottom of the subway between platforms it caught up with me and grabbed my coat. I didn't want to hurt it, but realising it had a hard shell I eventually kicked it away like a football. At that point I heard our train come rumbling in over our heads. Rather than run up the stairs to catch it I woke up instead.
Now I have recorded my dreams I think I'll go back to bed. In the morning I have some chores to do. There is another load of washing to do, and shopping to buy. Then once I have taken out some rubbish, and emptied Nelly's litter tray, I can sit back and either do some stuff, or just be a couch potato (or more likely a bit of both). The final decision for the day is whether to go to bed extra early to grab a few hours of sleep before Patricia comes home from her weekend in Spain, or to just stay up until she gets here. Whichever I decide, I want to be up and around at approximately 10pm which is about the earliest she may arrive.
|Friday 3rd March 2006|
Hooray ! It's Friday !!
So far the forecast wintry showers, and maybe even snow, have not materialised. The morning is not so bright as yesterday though. The sky is rather grey, so anything could happen later. I hope I am able to get home before anything nasty falls from the sky. I particularly want to get home early tonight. Patricia is spending the weekend in Spain, and I want to try and spent a little time with her before she rushes off to the airport.
Last night I did get home early. I don't think I left work particularly early. In fact I doubt it was early at all, but one difference is that for the previous few days, ever since I had my volatile guts, I have not had any cheap sandwiches from the company up the corridor. Instead I stuck to eating fruit. The net result was that I was able to rush to the station without feeling all bloated and winded - and with greater reserves of energy than has been the norm lately. Last night I did eat more than in the previous few days, but I will only be eating fruit for lunch today. Maybe then I will be able to repeats last nights high speed performance.
I have discovered one of the problems of editing these web pages from work. They way I do it means I cannot see any of the graphics that I might include. For instance, yesterday, when I added the snowy scene (from March 2005) to the top of this page I had to trust to luck that it would display OK in a normal web browser - I couldn't see it in the editor I am using (Nvu). In fact my first two attempts didn't work as I got the path to the jpeg file incorrect. It worked on the third attempt, but I think it would be less grief for me to add pictures when I am at home.
|Thursday 2nd March 2006|
It is a nice, bright, sunny morning, but very, very, cold. with a thick frost. It's a shame that this afternoon the weather forecast is for wintry showers, and even the chance of snow. Now I like snow - usually, but not when I am many miles from home, or when I want to get many miles from home. A bad fall of snow could seriously disrupt my work, and at the moment any day not worked is not paid for.
As may be obvious, or maybe not, this is another update done from work. I am now using the wonderful WinSCP3 to connect to my server. This not only allows encrypted connection to the server, but a graphical , Windows Explorer type, interface to the file system. Even more than that I can call local programs to edit files - Nvu in this case. Many thanks to Steve for revealing the existence of this wonderful program.
By the miracles of modern science (blah, blah, blah) I am actually updating this page from work. It is a little complicated to do. First I had to download Nvu, the WYSIWYG html editor. Then I had to ssh into my server and copy this page from where it normally resides to "My Documents" (using Midnight Commander). Then I could ftp into the server (it is only set up for me so far, and I am limited to my home directory) and copy the file onto this Windows machines. Once I have finished writing I will attempt to reverse the process.
After my severe gut problems yesterday I feel much better this morning. It was a close run thing though. I was still having some stomach pains when I went to bed last night. I also had a few worrying moments on my journey here this morning, but basically I am pretty empty now, and so nothing much could have happened.
Last night I had an almost invalids meal - poached fish with spinach. The fish was actually a salmon fillet, and the whole meal, although a little small, was actually very nice. I am almost tempted to have the same, or something similar, tonight.
As much as I am tempted to write more, I really ought to do some work now - and I have still got to go through the long process where I hope I can get this edited page uploaded to the server.