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Do not lean out of the window

Thursday 31st May 2007
08:34 BST
 Another turnaround in the weather means this morning is bright and sunny, although there are still a lot of clouds in the sky. The forecast in my mornings paper suggests that this afternoon will probably bring some heavy showers, some of which may be thundery.

 This morning I feel a lot better than yesterday morning, and I am now back at work after my rest and paracetamol. I don't think I feel 100% though, but I assume I will continue to improve as the day passes. This might be a bit of a grand assumption. On Tuesday morning I felt just a little under par, and as the day progressed I got steadily worse.

 I have no specific plans for today (beyond being at work). Tonight there is one of the "old pirates" meetings in Barming, but I suffer from a lack of transport, and an unwillingness to get home drunk at midnight, and start Friday morning with a hangover after only five hours sleep. So i won't be attending that. Instead I think I might try for an early night, or at least to be in bed around 9pm (just when the boozing gets really going in Barming).

 I must say good morning to Rebecca who I suspect might be reading this. This Rebecca is not my friend Ivor's daughter, nor, as far as I know a relation of my friend Mike in Canada who shares the same surname, but just someone who I have exchanged a few pleasant e-mails with.
Wednesday 30th May 2007
07:16 BST
 The weather has reverted back to being gloomy this morning. So far it seems to be dry, but more rain, some heavy, and even possibly thundery, is forecast for later today. Much of yesterday was OK. There were plenty of warm sunny spells until it was time to go home after work. At 16:30, while waiting for my train at Waterloo East, it poured down, but by the time I got to Catford the sun was shining again.

 It felt very cold at work yesterday, and I felt like I was in the pre-stages of a cold.This morning I feel very rough. I think I have a slight fever from the way I feel cold and yet slightly sweaty. So I am taking the day off work sick. Maybe I'll feel better later in the day. I certainly hope so. I don't want to miss going for a beer this evening, and tomorrow I have to go to work. There is work to do that is pretty important, but more than that, my workmate Stefan is returning to work after a short holiday in Germany and I should be owing him some money for some "duty frees" that he was buying for me.

 I came home from work yesterday feeling rather tired. My initial idea was to just spend my time relaxing before going to bed early. Instead I got intrigued by a new computer operating system I had acquired. So I fitted a spare 30GB hard drive into my fastest computer, and had a go at installing it. The installation process reminded me of some Linux installation processes, but that similarity faded as the amount of restarts necessary mounted up. Once the installation was complete I found that the login process, and the way the desktop worked reminded me of SuSe Linux running the latest KDE desktop. It wasn't Linux though, it was Windows Vista.

 I can see that the amount of security in Vista has been improved in some ways, but not really in the best way. The chief security improvement is just a pop up windows asking if you really do want to install the software that you are attempting to install. Say yes and it just does it anyway. It would be much improved if Vista had adopted the Linux way of forcing you to set up an administrator account, who could do anything, but is not generally logged in, and a limited user account that is used by default, and only has very limited privileges.  The Mac OSX operating system is actually a good halfway house between the two extremes. In OSX I am not sure you can ever log in as administrator, but the administrators password is required before any major changes can be made to the computer. I guess Microsoft are getting there, but they are so uptight about software patents, and the like, that they possibly think that basic computer security is covered by some sort of open source patent. (Now there's an idea for someone to make a lot of money, or more likely make a complete fool of themselves - patent the idea of locking your front door to prevent burglars from getting in.)
Tuesday 29th May 2007
08:23 BST
 Now the bank holiday is over the sun has come out. At 4am, this morning, it was lighter outside than it had been for the whole of yesterday. It was a desperately grey and wet day yesterday. Records were broken in some parts of the country for the amount of rainfall, and high winds added to the misery. Despite this mornings sunshine it remains almost chilly outside, and the clouds do seem to be thickening again. I don't think that there will be any rain comparable to yesterday, but I am sure there will be a few showers today.

 After getting off to a reasonable start yesterday, I suddenly ran out of enthusiasm to do anything constructive. That included my mackerel pasta surprise. I resorted to just shoving some stuff in the oven and letting it cook by itself. For a really boring, wet and miserable day, I managed to eat comparatively lightly yesterday. Had I dared to venture out to the shops it could easily have been a different story. Several times during the day I had urges for stuff I didn't have in the larder. One of those urges was for chocolate, and that is slightly unusual for me. More often it would be for something savoury.

 Thinking back to yesterday I realise I cannot really account for my time. Could it be that I passed most of the day just watching TV ? No, that can't be right because I did do some writing, and I did go through some unlabeled CD's and DVD's to see what was worth keeping, and what was worth throwing out. Now I have written that my thoughts have become just a little clearer. One CD contained a back-up of some old e-mails dating back to 1999. I managed to import them into Kmail, the Linux KDE mail client (although I couldn't import them into Thunderbird, my preferred mail client). Out of curiosity I did read a few of those old e-mails. One in particular was interesting in reminding me of the state of computing a mere 8 years ago. It was from my friend Howard who was telling me how he had upgraded from a 1.2GB hard drive to a 3.2GB hard drive. (I think I remember those figures correctly, but I cannot check while I am work). He also went on to say how much faster the new hard drive was. Today, to do comparable work (which was mainly audio stuff) you would be talking of 320GB hard drives. That old 3.2GB hard drive would be pretty much used up just by the operating system these days. How much does Vista need ?????

 Today I have no plans beyond calling in at Tesco's on the way home for the inevitable catfood. Perhaps I should buy some chocolate too, but maybe not. That urge has passed now.
Monday 28th May 2007
10:19 BST
 This morning it is cold, damp, and gloomy. Since last writing here, the weather has definitely turned for the worst. Once today, an English bank (public) holiday is over, and everyone is back at work, the weather should improve again.

 It's time to try and remember what I have done over the last three days.

 Friday :
 Friday was the free holiday from work. I had been hoping that I would be spending a lot of time with Aleemah, but it never worked out that way. Instead of her coming over here, I met her at Camden Town. I have to say it was not very exciting. We first had a single drink in The Bucks Head. It is worth noting that this pub has now installed a roof terrace where smoking will be allowed after those state sponsored terrorists, the National Health Service militia, get their draconian, jackbooted, anti-smoking law in force on the 1st of July. Those bastards are so intent on suppressing any enjoyment, on anything that makes life worth living, no matter how short, that they make The Amish look like fun loving party animals.

 After our quick drink we wandered over to Camden Lock market. Allemah wanted to find some West Indian food ( peas, rice, and plantain to be exact), but stall selling it could not be found. Instead we had some Chinese food. I am not sure what I selected, it may have been pork in black bean sauce, but although mostly pleasant enough, it was not as tasty as I had hoped.

 A bit of a wander round the market later revealed quite a multitude of "ethnic" food stalls, and I think I am brave enough to try more of them sometime in the future. The next stop, after leaving the market was to visit a couple of shoe shops. Mercifully we did not visit too many, and Aleemah had a pretty good idea of what she was after.With Aleemah's new shoes bought we headed back to the pub for another drink, and it was just one single drink. Neither of us felt like drinking any more, and neither did we feel like doing any more shopping. So we went back to the tube station and said our goodbyes.

 It was only mid to late afternoon when I arrived back in Catford. I called in at Tesco on the way home from the station, and bought a few goodies. I then proceeded to do very little except to eat until it was time for bed.

 Saturday :
 Saturday was very boring. I thought it would be exceedingly unlikely, but I had hoped that Patricia would have contacted me beforehand to arrange to meet her at Ladywell swimming baths for an early morning swim. My idea for that had been earlier in the week when it was hot and sunny. On Saturday morning it was still fairly mild, but I was rather less keen to go out early to have a swim while it was grey and cloudy, and not only that, but I was not feeling 100% after eating so heartily the previous night.

 With nothing better to I spent a lot of Saturday just lying around reading or watching TV. It was not until the evening that I suddenly found the enthusiasm to do some computer experimentation. I decided to put into practice and idea that had been buzzing round my head for several days, or maybe weeks. I have a very large old server case sitting around not doing anything at all. It had once housed my own server until I upgraded it. I had it in mind to stuff it full of old peripherals and try and make it do something that could conceivably be useful. To this end I fitted two CD rom drives. One was just a CD reader connected via an IDE channel, and the other was an old burner that connected via a SCSI interface. That filled two of the 5.25" front slots. I then added an IDE connected 8GB tape drive (that I do not have any tapes for, but I might find one, one day), and another slot was filled with an ancient Syquest 88MB disk cartridge device also connected via a SCSI interface. The final 5.25" front panel slot was for a 3.5" floppy drive in an adapter.  

 Having shoved in an old ISA SCSI interface card, an old ISA sound card, and hung a 10GB drive on the first IDE channel, I first tried to install an old Linux distro. In fact it was Caldera open Linux owned by the now infamous anti-Linux litigant SCO. I had three reasons for doing so. Firstly the age of most of the hardware was approximately matched by the age of the Linux distribution. Secondly it was on an old magazine cover disk that I had never tried before, and thirdly I thought that using a Linux distribution by a company that is in dispute with many aspects of Linux carried a certain nice irony.

 For the most part, my idea of using a version of Linux contemporary with the hardware I was using did work. Everything except the ISA SCSI interface card was correctly identified and worked OK. With some additional work I may have been able to manually configure the necessary bits and pieces to get the SCSI card working (and I could still do so by re-connecting the hard drive I installed it on). I then thought I would see what Windows NT4.5 would make of the hardware. That correctly identified the SCSI card OK, but try as I might I could not get it to work with several alternative network cards. I also had problems with the sound card, but I do have several alternatives I could still try at a later date.

 It was both fascinating, and frustrating, playing with that box of "stuff", and it was not until 4am on Sunday morning that I finally went to bed !

 Sunday :
  Yesterday was the special day where I was meeting up with Aleemah to go and see the play "Charlie & Henry" at the New End Theatre in Hampstead. Getting to Hampstead was "interesting". Someone had fallen onto the tracks, possibly underneath a train, at Camden Town station. When I joined the Northern Line at Waterloo station they were still scraping the mess off the tracks, and all the trains were severely delayed. Well, I say severely delayed, but my train was already there when I reached the platform, and it left seconds later. At first we proceeded normally, but halfway between Goodge Street and Euston we stopped in the tunnel for about 15 minutes. It grew increasingly hot and it was a relief when we moved again. Between Euston and Mornington Crescent we stopped in the tunnel again, but this time it was only for about five minutes.  Once we reached Mornington Crescent station the driver announced that we would not be stopping at Camden Town, and advised anyone wanting Camden to use Mornington Crescent (which is only 10 minutes walk from Camden). We remained in the station for over ten minutes before our considerably emptier train moved off again. Apart from going very slowly through Camden town station the rest of the journey was fairly normal. Rather amazingly I arrived at Hampstead station just a few minutes late of the time I had agreed to meet Aleemah. 

 I won't attempt to describe the play as that is done better on the link I have provided. I will say that the play was enjoyable, but watching it wasn't ! For the first half I was getting increasingly uncomfortable.  For one thing I found the seating to be bottom unfriendly, and the leg space cramped. Then there was the matter of the last pint of beer I had drunk wanting to exit again after being processed in the kidneys. In another theatre it might have been possible to sneak out to the toilets, but the only way out almost encroached onto the stage itself (the stage being only 6 inches high, and just 18 inches from the front row). So I sat and suffered for about 70 minutes until the interval. During the interval I had my pee and a couple of fags before trying to find a comfortable position to sit out the rest of the play. With no extra discomfort from my bladder I felt a bit more comfortable, but it was nice when the play ended and I could stretch my legs again.

 Before Aleemah and I said our goodbyes we had one more drink in Hampstead before going back to the station. The Northern Line had returned almost to normal, and a train turned up for me almost immediately, but I think Aleemah had a short wait for her northbound train. I arrived at Charing Cross station and went up to the mainline station where I discovered I had missed my Catford bound train by just two minutes !  After the 18:54 train, the one I had just missed, the service downgrades to a disgusting one-train-an-hour until the end of service for the day. So I was pretty pissed off with the train company at that time. After a wait of twenty minutes I was able to get a train as far as Lewisham. From there I had a zero minute wait for a 185 bus back to home. It was about 8pm when I got in, and I was feeling pretty hungry, but couldn't be bothered to do any cooking.  I was feeling rather tired after my excessively late night (early morning !!) and poor sleep I managed to get during the five or six hours that I was in bed. I had one and a half small (foot long) French sticks in the fridge and invented a new international sandwich to eat. The filling was Brie cheese, crinkle cut pickled gherkins with dill, and German salami. Maybe it sounds weird, but it was really rather tasty.

 I did not want to get to bed too late, but stayed up and watched the repeat of Saturday's Dr Who on BBC3, and a programme about children's TV in the 1950's before getting to bed at around 10pm. I was so tired I fell asleep almost instantly, and slept until I was awakened by a horrible taste in my mouth at 2:20am . At first I thought I had, or was about to, puke, but I think it was acid reflux (although a quick perusal of Wikipedia here, and here, suggests it was not that, so maybe I was about to puke). The puke like taste was in the back of my throat, and the back of my throat burned like it had been exposed to acid. It took several mouthfuls of water to wash away the acid, and a tiny bit more came back when I coughed. Perhaps Brie, gerhkin and salami is not a good thing to eat shortly before bed !

 Today :
 After my little mid sleep interruption I fell asleep again quite quickly, and then slept right through until about 6:30am this morning. Once I had fed the cats I had a shower and got dressed. For breakfast I had some lovely kippers, and for an early lunch a couple of large beefburgers. Later on, for dinner I will be cooking mackerel pasta surprise (surprise because I have not invented the recipe yet, and even when I do I have no idea how it will turn out).

 So far I have spent my time watching TV, and writing this. What I'll do next is a mystery, but I am feeling like a snooze could be a good idea soon. Before I finish here there are a couple of photos from my mobile phone camera I want to show.
Windows crashing at London Bridge

The first picture was taken on Platform 5 at London Bridge as I waited for a train home a week, or two ago. Sitting on top of the display showing the stations my train will call at as a typical Windows error message. The picture is not clear enough to show what the message was, but it said something like "one, or more, devices failed to start........". Despite that the display was still showing accurate information. The display that was mounted back-to back with that display was showing a BIOS screen. I did take a picture of that, but it was far too blurry to mean anything here. Some information gleaned from it was that the processor was (from memory) a Cyrix Media+ GL, and that the box contained two 3.5" 1.44M floppy drives, and no hard drive. By a strange coincidence another display unit was being worked on when I passed through London Bridge yesterday. The computer itself was a very small black box about the size of a small satelite receiver.

strange graphiti
 This next picture was of some graphiti written on the toilet wall of the pub next door to The New End Theatre (whose name escapes me for now).  I found it intriguing as I do know know exactly what it means beyond the fact that it must be something incredibly rude ! I can think of several possible explanations, all of them potentially offensive, but for now I'll just reproduce it here and I'll leave it to your filthy imagination to come up with an explanation !
Thursday 24th May 2007
06:55 BST
This morning seems, potentially, to be as good as yesterday morning. Yesterday turned out to be a brilliant day, and I have high hopes that today will be similar. The only cloud on the horizon is that the forecast suggests the high temperatures may trigger some isolated short showers of rain later in the afternoon. Somehow I doubt that, but I know that rain is forecast for tomorrow.

 Yesterday was a pleasant day at work, but with two surprises in store. The first surprise was the announcement that the production staff, of which I am for about 50% of my duties, had done so well in getting all the orders for this month fulfilled in record time, that we were all being given tomorrow off with no loss of pay, or annual leave entitlement. This is rather amazing, and something I have never come across before in all my years. So, with next Monday being a bank holiday, I am looking forward to a nice long weekend. I am seeing Aleemah tomorrow, and on Sunday, so it won't be the lonely disaster that last bank holiday was.

 The other surprise was when I left work to go home. Upon arrival at Waterloo I found the link to Waterloo East blocked off, and announcements that all train services that go through London Bridge were suspended. Once again this was because of a fire involving gas cyclinders. I am slightly more forgiving for the service suspension this time. Last time the fire was some way away from the railway. Yesterday the fire was actually in the arches beneath the railway arches.

 The general advice at Waterloo was that passengers should go to Victoria for service towards Kent, but I decided to see what was happening at Blackfriars. I did get a train there, but I have to leave for work now, and will finish this narrative later.
08:38 BST
 Now in work, and the story continues.....

Getting to Blackfriars from Waterloo involves crossing the River Thames, and jumping on the Circle/District line to Blackfriars tube station. I had several possibilities to do this. I could have walked across Hungerford Bridge (or whatever they call that footbridge these days), or I could get a tube the one stop to Embankment station. Another alternative could have been to walk along the Southbank, past Festival Hall, The Tate Modern, and a few other tourist attractions, and then over Blackfriars Bridge. I rejected that as a walk too far, and opted for the tube. I had a choice of either the Northern Line, or the Bakerloo Line. I chose the former and promptly got (almost) lost in the subterranean labyrinth that is Waterloo tube station. After taking the "scenic route" I found the Northern Line platform, and was on a train within a minute or two. From then on it was a simple journey to Blackfriars via Embankment station.

At Blackfriars I found a lot of crowds, and I feared that trains had been suspended from there too. I knew that the services that go via London Bridge would not be running, but I still had high hopes that trains via Elephant & Castle should still be OK. In fact they were, and there was a Sevenoaks (via Catford) train in the station and ready to depart. I had to run the full length of the train, fortunately only four cars long for the run, but unfortunate for it's passenger carrying capacity, before I found a corner I could squeeze into. I thought I was pushing my luck squeezing onto the train, but before we left another three people somehow managed to get on.

 I couldn't conceive that anyone else could possibly get on that train, but at the first stop, Elephant & Castle, there was a group of five young black men who would not give way, and literally barged their way onto the train. It took several attempts before the doors would close, but eventually they did, and we carried on with the journey. Prior to that stop we were packed in to the point that everyone was touching everyone else at some point, but after these five barged in we were literally squeezed together. It was a hot afternoon, and I am surprised that no one fainted. When I finally got off at Catford station I was on the point of feeling wobbly. It took a good five minutes in the fresh air until I felt totally OK, and far longer before I had cooled down.

 Later on I went to the pub for a drink with Kevin and Iain. Iain was there already, but Kevin turned up later. He too had been caught up in the train disruption, and his journey had taken two and half hours from central London to Catford. I guess I had been very lucky, despite the discomfort, last night.
Wednesday 23rd May 2007
08:24 BST
 It's a beautiful sunny morning. It's quite warm too. Last night it was very warm going home. I carried my coat all the way until I reached Tesco's in Catford, where it was more convenient to wear it while carrying shopping. I arrived home quite damp with sweat. Today I have left my coat at home for the frirst time in several weeks.

 Yesterday was a quiet day at work. Most people were out at a trade exhibition. So in the spirit if rebelliousness I left 10 minutes early. It did make my journey home a lot more pleasant. Without rushing, I got to Clapham Junction station five minutes earlier, and that enabled me to catch a slightly earlier train. That train arrived at Waterloo just that little bit earlier, and so I only needed an (almost) sedate stroll over to Platform A at Waterloo East. From then on it was just the same as if I had caught my early train back to Catford Bridge.

 Had I not drowned it in "piri piri" mayonnaise, I would have had a very healthy sort of meal when I got in. It was smoked mackerel with lots of green salad, tomatoes, peppers, spring onions, and some dill pickle. Even without the excess (and delicious) mayonnaise, I ruined everything by eating a very large chunk of date and walnut cake for sweet. Nevertheless I feel fairly good this morning. I think my body woke up a little earlier today. I don't mean that in the sense of waking up from sleep, but feeling like my energy levels had returned to day time standards. By the time I got to Wandsworth Town station I was feeling almost frisky (although frisky is a very relative term !!)

 I didn't do much last night. Apart from eating, and spending quite a long time on the phone after Nigel called me, I filled in the rest of the time watching a 1964 sci-fi movie called "Robinson Crusoe On Mars". It was a sort of crappy film, and very American-centric, but in a strange way was quite entertaining. After it finished I went straight to bed, but by that time it was already well past 9pm and I wanted to listen to more of of the story from my audio book that I have been listening to lately. (If I haven't mentioned the name of it before, it is "Starbeast" by R.A. Heinlein.) I can't remember if it was at the end of the first side I listened to, or if I started a second side, but I fell asleep while it was playing. So tonight I will have to listen to part of it all over again once I am home from drinking with Kevin and/or Iain.(assuming one or the other is available tonight). 
Tuesday 22nd May 2007
08:25 BST
 At last, a sunny morning ! It feels like it is going to be a good day today. Maybe it will be too good. With the day being mostly sunny, and temperatures of up to 23° C it may be too warm on the way home. This morning I probably should have left my coat at home, but didn't. If the forecast for tomorrows weather is to be believed, I will definitely being enjoying commuting to and from work in my shirt sleeves tomorrow.

 Yesterday was not so good. It stayed fairly mild, and it did brighten up from time to time, but I was lightly rained on after I had arrived back at Catford Bridge station on my way home. That rain only lasted a few minutes, but it did stay overcast for the whole evening. What did brighten up my day was an unexpected visit from Patricia.

 I was halfway through my dinner when the doorbell rang, and I was stunned to find Patricia on my door step. She was looking good, and it was great to hear all her gossip. It seemed her new man has now moved in with her. So things are going well for her. She only stayed for 30 or 40 minutes, but it made an otherwise bland evening something special.

 I went to bed very early last night, but listened to around 90 minutes of an audio book I have been listening to. So I did not get to sleep as early as I should have. Nevertheless I do feel far better than yesterday morning, and the aches and pains of a sedentary weekend have almost worn off now. I had a dream that involved Patricia. It was one of those dreams where everything seems to morph into something new. The first bit I remember was being driven through Catford by Patricia. As we approached where St Dunstans college would normally be, she said to me that she had either been bad, or was feeling sad (I cannot recall which it was exactly), and that she needed to go to church (which was conveniently where the college should be). I was not too keen on this, but agreed to go with her. As a possible excuse not to go I suggested that it was not the done thing to appear in church wearing the bright orange t-shirt that she was wearing. She said it would be fine, and she turned into a place where once upon a time there used to be a load of lock-up garages (demolished and built over years ago in real life). Somehow she parked the car sideways in a garage, and we got out. As I turned to go she asked me not to forget the keys. I found that there were keys in both the rear and front doors of the cars. After making sure the doors were locked I removed the keys, and turned around to find that it was my friend Ivor wearing a bright orange t-shirt, and not Patricia. It seems the curse of the morphing dream had struck again.

 I doubt if much will be happening tonight. I need to call in at Tesco on the way home, but after that I may watch what is probably a really crappy sci-fi film I have acquired. It is called "Robinson Crusoe on Mars". May it is good, but I have grave doubts about it. It all depends on whether the story was written by a genuine sci-fi writer, or some Hollywood hack I'm betting it was the latter.
Monday 21st May 2007
08:11 BST
 Today started fairly bright, but as I commuted to Wandsworth the clouds got thicker and thicker. For the last minute of my walk from the bus stop to work it started to rain. It was incredibly light rain. Initially I felt two distinct drops some 10 or 20 seconds apart. Even as I walked the last few seconds before coming inside, the rain had not got heavier than a rain drop, or two, every second. I am not sure what it is doing now, but I suspect it is just a slow drizzle. Later on it may rain a lot harder, or so the weather forecast would suggest. there is a suggestion too, that the temperature will only climb to about 16° C. It feels warmer than that already though.

 I do feel a little crappy this morning. Bits of me ache, and I know that my blood sugar level is far too high. I did make an effort to not get carried away with eating too much yesterday. For the most part I succeeded, but I did have one bad lapse. Things started OK with smoked mackerel and fresh crusty bread for breakfast. During the day I did nibble on some fresh coconut. I suspect that like most nuts it is full of oil and calories, but it's rough texture (and the difficulty of extracting it from the shell) makes eating it less of a robotic experience than scoffing through a bag of peanuts (mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm peanuts !!!!!). During the course of the day I did eat about half the quite small coconut. The very bad thing I did was to eat some iced yoghurt that was smothered in raspberry syrup. I knew this to be very bad, and tried to eat it sparingly. Unfortunately, in the evening, I had more smoked mackerel with chargrilled mixed Mediterranean vegetables. By itself that was OK, but I decided to spice things up a bit with some hot pepper sauce. That would have been fine, but I somehow managed to get the distribution of the sauce very uneven. One mouthful must have been 50% pure pepper sauce and it hurt ! The remedy was to eat gratuitous amounts of more ice cream.

 After a day of just lolling around reading, watching TV, and dozing off, I felt sleepy, but not tired (or was it the other way round). I went to bed feeling like lying down would be a good idea, but I had difficulty getting to sleep. So I listened to another 50 minute episode of an audio book I had been listening to earlier, and tried again. The excess sugar in my blood made me feel hot, and also very alert. Eventually sleep came, but it was not until 11pm (or thereabouts). I woke early this morning, at around 5am, so I have had rather less sleep than I desired (I also woke up to pee twice in the night). I think I will be feeling a bit sleepy this afternoon. Right now, having been sitting down for the last 30 minutes, I don't feel too bad. Maybe I'll live for the next few hours !
Sunday 20th May 2007
09:13 BST
 It's a bright sunny morning. If it warms up it could be quite a nice day. Yesterday was not too bad. There was plenty of sunshine, but the wind kept thing it cooler than it might have been.

 As I was sure would happen, I didn't hear from Patricia on Friday, and so I met up with Aleemah for a couple of pints at Victoria. I managed to get my preferred train home from Victoria, and was home by 7pm. During the day I had eaten only one roll, and a very nice roll it was too. It was a mozerella, sundried tomato, basil, and pesto (small) french stick. I did have the opportunity to eat a lot more. During the afternoon we had a sort of work social with a film and a rather grand spread of grub to eat. I declined the food (and booze), and I had to miss the very end of the film to get to Aleemah on time.

 With so little food inside me, and the effects of the beer with Aleemah, I was feeling like a big dinner when I finally got home on Friday night. It was slightly weird, that despite my hunger, I was fairly patient and decided to order some food from the local kebab shop. I ordered, and ate, two large kebabs complete with salad and chilli sauce ! They were very tasty, and filled me up a treat, but I knew there would be a price to pay for eating them. The price was was paid yesterday afternoon when I had to make a series of rapid dashes to the toilet. 
11:44 BST
 Since writing the first part of today's entry I have been shopping in Tesco, and had some breakfast. So, to continue......

 Yesterday seemed to pass quite quickly. It was not a very productive day, but I did achieve a few things. My first achievement was to get another hour or two of sleep after feeding the cats at 05:30. I did a few of the usual Saturday things. I did the laundry, and went shopping for catfood and cat litter (and emptied, and cleaned Nelly's litter tray).

 My only other achievement of note was to do a completely fresh installation of OSX 10.3.9 on my iMac. The rest of the day was spent either reading, or watching old episodes of Star Trek.

 My iMac is a rather old version of it's species. It has a mere 233MHz processor and 160KB of ram. That makes it rather slow to operate. It may well be that it would be faster to operate if I was using an older version of the Mac operating system on it (maybe OS 9, or even something earlier), but I stick by my original idea that I wanted to know about using OSX to stay contempoary with other Mac users. I was advised that using native Apple applications would be far faster than some of my preferred applications (Firefox, Thunderbird etc.). That is certainly true, but it comes at a price. Safari, the native web browser, preforms well, but then again so did Firefox. Mail, the email application, works, but is really horrible to use. iTunes, as an mp3 player must be the crappiest application ever written. It is hard to use, does everything exactly the way you don't want it to do, and comes across as a mere vehicle to  induce you to spend money at Apple's iTunes online store. I will be most happy if ever Xmms, the unix media player, is ever ported to operate natively under OSX. (There is a way of installing it even now, but the method is complex, and hardly worth the bother on my iMac).

 I am obviously some sort of masochist because I am writing all today's entry on my iMac. It is painfully slow. Using Nvu as the page editor, and having Fugu open to download/upload the file to my server, has slowed things down to the point where characters are added to the page at approximately 1 second intervals no matter how fast I type ! I would be curious to know if there is a cure for this behavior. I suspect not, and that the real answer is in aquiring a faster machine. If you have the answer to this conundrum, or have a very cheap iMac for sale (very cheap !), get in touch ( bill dot kelsey at tesco dot net ).

 I am not sure what I am doing for the rest of the day. What I am sure about is that I will not be attempting to use this iMac for writing any more web pages !!!
Friday 18th May 2007
08:15 BST
 When I left home this morning the sun was shining. It was only weak sunshine, but there were lots of blue bits in the sky, and somewhere in London the sun could have been much brighter. The sunshine has not lasted though, or at least not here in Wandsworth. It is now fairly grey outside, but I doubt it will rain for a little while yet. Last night I saw a weather forecast that suggested overnight cloudy skies would keep the daytime warmth in. Well the skies were not that cloudy this morning, but it is certainly mild this morning. It is very close to being warm out. One more degree, and 50% less clouds in the sky and I might have even considered leaving my jacket at home. I think some rain is expected for this afternoon, and so my jacket may well come in useful after all.

 I was disappointed that I never heard any more from Patricia about visiting last night. In anticipation I cooked a large pot of tuna and spinach pasta with anchovies for extra fishiness. It was very nice when I finally gave up on Patricia and sat down to eat it. I had it with some hot pepper sauce on, something that Patricia would not like, and hardly authentic for Italian cooking, but it did give it a marvellous extra "zing" ! With no Patricia to help me out eating it, I ate the whole lot myself. It was a bit of a bloating experience, and this morning I still feel a bit "lumpy". It certainly slowed me down on my way into work, but did not make me late (there is a fair amount of slack built into my commute to work).

 Unless Patricia gets in touch with a 100% guarantee that she will pick up her post tonight, I will be seeing Aleemah for an after work drink in Victoria. I will probably be home by 7pm (if I get my favoured train), and so there is still scope for Patricia to stop. I very much doubt she will though as she will almost certainly be wanting to be in the arms of her lover by then.

 With Patricia being with her lover, and Aleemah off to Brighton with her friend John, it looks as if I have another boring weekend on my hands. Maybe I might go out and do some photography, or maybe I might just mope at home watching old episodes of Star Trek. It depends on the weather (should be bright with occasional rain), or it just depends..............................
Thursday 17th May 2007
08:12 BST
 More rain this morning, but so far it has been intermittent, and very light. In Wandsworth, as I went to the bus stop, the rain was so light as to be almost like a refreshing mist. I could not describe as be refreshing if were not for the apparent fact that it is warmer this morning than of late. The forecast for today's weather in this mornings Metro newspaper suggests that this afternoon will be cloudy, but dry, and with the temperature reaching a high of 22° C. That must be a good few degrees higher than the afternoon temperatures of the last week, or maybe even two. It would be nice to think that summer is restarting again after the couple of weeks of summer weather earlier on this spring.

 I ordered myself a new toy yesterday. It should arrive today. The toy is an electronic, USB connected, microscope. It cost a little more than I should really spend with another fortnight to pay day, but at £58, including delivery, I think I can bear the cost. For me it is a bit of a toy, but I think it could be useful here at work, and if it is I will try an persuade the company to buy one. Occasionally it is necessary for us to take close up pictures of printed circuit boards to show modifications, or to berate the circuit board manufacturer for poor quality work. Messing about with an ordinary digital camera to take such pictures is often tricky, but my hope is that this "toy" will do the job easily. It might even come in handy to inspect my own repairs before I release them back to the production people.

 There is not much to say about last night. I met up with Kevin and Iain for a couple of beers (and one scotch and ice) before heading home again at a few minutes past 9pm. Actually, there is one thing I was going to comment on. When I left the pub there was still a little light left in the sky. No doubt that if it had a been a clear evening it would have been a little brighter still, but it reminded me of the first sign of hope that I would soon be getting home from work in daylight from earlier in the year. Getting home from the pub in daylight will soon come, but is a mere novelty compared to the first joys of getting home from work in daylight after a long dark winter. Travelling to, and from, work in daylight seems so normal now, but the gloomy prospect of travelling in the dark is only, what, another five or six months away.

 Much to my surprise it seems that Patricia may visit me tonight. It remains to be seen if she does, but I hope she can drop in on her way home from work. I thought she was going to try and pop in tomorrow night, but I guess she want to rush home into the arms of her lover on a Friday night.
Wednesday 16th May 2007
06:50 BST
 I woke up at 04:59 BST this morning. That might have been OK if it had been a fine sunny morning, but it is grey, very grey, and as I was about to leave for work, raining very hard. So I am going to try my luck with the next train. Hopefully, by then, the rain will have stopped, or at least eased off. Right now it looks as if the whole day will be damp and miserable, but there is always the chance that the sun might break through for the odd moment or two like it did yesterday.

 With far less aches and pains, my working day was more pleasant yesterday, although nothing significant happened. On reflection, maybe something significant did happen. I appear to have found a portion of the universe where the laws of physics break down. I was working on repairing a circuit board that passed all technical tests, and yet would not work. Somewhere within one of the integrated circuits there is probably a black hole, or something. I will be spending more time on that circuit board today, but I have measured everything I can, and everything tests perfectly. Maybe I should call in a priest or a clairvoyant. It is obvious that science can no longer help in repairing this fault.

 My attempt to not buy anything outrageous in Tesco last night failed, but only failed a bit. I was intrigued by "hot spicy sausages" from the hot meat counter. I can't recall seeing them before and had to try a couple. They were pretty nice, but probably laden with fat and grease. Now my curiosity has been satisfied I will leave them alone until next time.

 The rest of what I ate was semi OK. I had half a stone baked French loaf with some seafood cocktail sandwich mix. The latter is probably unhealthy in large quantities, but I think I can get away with it this time. What I didn't have was my spinach and tuna pasta, and I won't be having it tonight either.

 Tonight I hope to meet up with Kevin and Iain for a beer (and Iain, try and remember my miniDV tape tonight - I'll call you later today and remind you). I prefer not to eat too much before a beer so I will probably just finish the rest of the French loaf off with some spicy mexican bean spread. After the pub I expect I will indulge in a post-beer snack. I have some Tesco southern fried chicken "slabs" that I may cook before going out, and snack on them once I am home again. Of course if I was feeling very healthy I would forego the snack and go straight to bed. I might even do that, but it depends on whether I have two or three pints of beer !
Tuesday 15th May 2007
08:03 BST
 This morning has not started as gloomy as yesterday morning. There have even been a few spells of weak sunshine. Unfortunately it seems the clouds are thickening again, and I expect there will be more rain later on. It might also be a tiny bit warmer than yesterday morning, but that still makes it a little too cool for comfort.

 As I made my way home from work yesterday, I felt cold, tired and unwell. It was very tempting to buy something hot and filling on the way home, but I resisted that. Once home, but not before the cats had been fed, I resorted to a couple of instant noodle pots as a quick means of getting something warm inside of me. With the need of instant gratification settled I was able to cook something a little better. As a counter to the aches and pains I had during the day, I opted for some oily fish. I had two lots that were in need of consuming before they went off. The first, some salmon, was actually on it "use by" date, and the other, some smoked mackerel, was actually past it's "use by" date. So I cooked both in the oven with a little olive oil to keep the salmon moist. To accompany the fish I just had some peas. As an experiment I tried cooking both some Tesco "value" tinned garden peas, and some ordinary Tesco tinned garden peas. The "value" branded ones, at about half the price of the ordinary ones, might just have had a slight edge over the more expensive ones. I didn't bother to read the ingredients of the tin, but I suspect that on average the contents are identical, and the extra price is for more ink on the tins label.

 That fish does seem to have made a huge improvement to the aches and pains I was suffering yesterday. This morning I feel almost good. I also slept a lot better last night. I got to sleep fairly quickly, and only woke up once briefly. Maybe it was Nelly jumping off my bed (or maybe jumping on, I can't remember). My sleep may have come from earlier exhaustion, but I choose to believe that a couple of large Scotch Whiskies helped most of all.

 Tonight I have to call in at Tesco's for some essential supplies, but I am going to try and reign in my enthusiasm for buying bargains that I shouldn't really eat, or for tasty comfort foods. I have decided that tonight I am going to have spinach and tuna pasta for my main dinner, but if I am feeling tired and cold when I get in I may have a little snacklet before I start cooking. One of the penalties of eating nothing but fruit until I get home from work is that in cool weather, such as we are experiencing now, I do feel starving by the time I get home. Given a moderate rise in temperature the hunger becomes less, although is still fairly strong, but I do feel like I have so much more energy.

 I am wondering if it is pure coincidence that my weblogs show that in the last few days I have had visitors reading this page in Finland, while at the same time I have recently exchanged a couple of e-mails with a lady living in London, but originally from Finland. It may well not be a coincidence, and have nothing to do with that lady since I recall a few visits from Finland a month or two ago. If you are reading this Veera, have a pleasant day.
Monday 14th May 2007
06:55 BST
It's another cold, grey, and wet start to the day. It looks as if it will drizzle, on and off, for the rest of the day. This is not too dissimilar to yesterday, although in the early evening there was some weak sunshine. Perhaps the sun may break through at some point today, but right now it does not look like it.

 I had a very lazy day yesterday. With al the computers working OK there was little else to do. I could have done some intensive spring cleaning, or something, but elected to just loll around the house either reading or watching old episodes of Star Trek. Contrary to my predictions of yesterday morning, this couch potato work did not involve beer or unhealthy snacks. While there were no snacks involved, I did manage to consume a lot of food. In the morning I managed to munch my way through four (or was it five) small bread rolls with some assorted fillings. In the late afternoon I had a rather tasty dinner. While shopping on Saturday morning I came across a £5 pack of steaks reduced to £3.85 (or something). They looked a bit grey, but that does not bother me. What did surprise me was the amount there was in the pack when I actually opened it up. They were packed in clear plastic so I could see how much was there, but it was still seemed more when I handled them directly. It was poor quality steak, as you would expect from the price, but aside from a bit of toughness they were quite tasty when served with a pile of "chargrilled mediteranean mixed vegetables". It did make for quite a big, satisfying, dinner. With the steak being very lean (and hence the reason for a lack of flavour and texture), and the vegetables being cooked in olive oil, it was, if you stretch your imagination far enough, almost, but not really, a healthy meal. I did feel pretty stuffed after eating it, so I guess it was not very healthy at all !

 This morning I am obviously writing this from home. I did get 50ft from the house, heading for the station, but a rumble of stomach pain drove me back again. I think it was just wind, and very soon now I will be attempting to get to work again.
08:37 BST
 I have now arrived at work, just 30 minutes late. It is still very grey outside, but at least it did not rain while I was travelling.

 When I first started writing today I did not have time to mention that I had a really rough night. I went to bed at a suitable time, around 9pm, but could not get to sleep initially. It was one of those nights where I felt stifled by the heat under the duvet, and shivering cold without the duvet. After numerous experiments of leaving bits of me outside the duvet, I finally fell into a very disturbed sleep. I woke up numerous times, and at about 3am I woke up with a headache of almost migraine proportions. A couple of Ibuprofen dulled the headache enough to get back to sleep eventually, but I lost out on at least 30 minutes of sleep. I woke up feeling very stiff and sore after sleeping in some bizarre awkward position. My pillows were all over the place, and the duvet was twisted out of all recognition. So this morning I am feeling quite rough, and I still have a mild headache. If that does not improve in the next hour or so I think I will be forced to take some more painkillers.

 I am wondering what this week will bring. I know I am not seeing Aleemah again until maybe Friday, and if not then it will not be until sometime during next week. Although I do have the chance to go for a drink with Aleemah on Friday, my preference is to hopefully see Patricia . She was planning a visit to the dentist on Friday, and said she may pop in afterwards. I would love to see her, and she does have a good excuse to drop by to pick up several pieces of mail that have been sitting at home for some time now. Besides I want to hear all her gossip, and hear how well things are going with her new boyfriend (assuming everything is OK on that score).
Sunday 13th May 2007
09:16 BST
 No sun this morning ! It is cold, grey, wet, and miserable. I haven't seen a weather forecast for today, but I estimate it will stay overcast, with frequent rain, for most of today. Yesterday was brighter than today, and for odd moments it was pleasant and sunny, but at other times there was plenty of rainfall, and some of that was quite heavy for short periods of time. When I met Aleemah at London Bridge yesterday, she commented on what a nice day it was. It seems that as she travelled down from North London she experienced nothing but bright sunshine. So it must have been a bit of a shock to her when we arrived back in Catford and it rained on her !

 We had a pleasant afternoon together, although whoever it was who kept ringing me while Allemah and I were busy did spoil the ambience a bit. Prior to being "busy" we watched the film "Hot Fuzz". It has seen some good write ups in the papers, and they were not far wrong. It is pretty funny, and the humour increases towards the end. Despite that I did not think it was that well done. I am sure that some other director, producer, cast, or something, could have made a better film from the core of the script. As to who those other mysterious people may I have no idea. I am not well educated on directors, producers or actors.

 This morning I have been busy - well, sort of. Although I am still only partly washed and dressed, I have fed the cats, put a load of washing in the washing machine, and fitted a proper graphics card in the PC downstairs. Instead of the onboard graphics, it now has an Nvidia Geforce 5200 128MB AGP graphics card. I think it was well worth installing it. I am currently converting four 59 minute avi files to DVD, and it id now doing it in approximately real time. That is getting on for almost double the speed that it was achieving using the onboard graphics adapter.

 Once I am fully dressed I must go and buy some more washing powder from Tesco (which opens in 30 minutes). While I am there I will inevitably buy yet more catfood, and I think I'll look out for some nice goodies for me. I have a plan for this afternoon that involves watching a pile of old episodes of Star Trek (the original series) in my best imitation of a couch potato. And if that involves eating unhealthy snack food while doing so, then that is what I am going to do (and probably drink some beer) - Homer Simpson ? Pah, mere amateur !
Saturday 12th May 2007
08:10 BST
 I am just thirty seconds too late to say that the sun is shining. For the last hour there has been intermittent sunshine, but the clouds are thickening and it may be getting time for the next bout of rain. This does seem to make the most recent weather forecast I saw look fairly accurate - more rain with sunny intervals !

 After just a little more preparation I started to put my rebuilt Windows 2000 computer to work last night. It's first task was to transcode some avi files to a DVD. There were still some Windows updates taking place while it did it, but I was disappointed that it seemed to take five hours to do what used to take four hours using the old motherboard. I could blame this on the on-board graphics card, but I have my doubts. At some point I will double check this by disabling the on-board card and fit a proper graphics card. Maybe it will help, or maybe it will make little difference. I believe that some graphics cards can assist in mpeg encoding, but on the old motherboard I was using a video optimised, but rather old Matrox PCI card. Curiously enough, the PC I am using right now (upstairs, front bedroom, Windows XP), that uses a theoretically slower processor, seems to win the race for mpeg encoding. Both machines have the same amount of memory (1 GB), and this machine has (I think) an old ATI "All-In-Wonder" graphics card. I was about to say that it too was a PCI card, but on reflection it may be an AGP card. I do know that it does have some mpeg encoding hardware on the card for the TV tuner, and video capture, functions. Whether the DVD encoding program I am using can make use of that hardware is an unknown quantity, but perhaps that does explain why a slower machine, by pure numbers, manages the job faster.  It seems like a good incentive to fit a faster, more upmarket (but actually "last years model") to that machine downstairs, and see what happens.

 Today Aleemah is visiting me. So far I have not had the dreaded text message to say she is calling it off. It was about this time last week that she did that. So theoretically I am in a bit of a rush this morning to tidy the place up. I am now washed and shampooed, but have yet to get fully dressed. I must get dressed soon and rush out to the shops. I am hoping that one of the local shops will have a drive belt for the beater bar of my vacuum cleaner. It still sucks OK without one, but does not do a very good job of lifting some stuff from the carpets - and they do need doing. The next stop after that will be the inevitable visit to Tesco for cat food and cat litter. I don't need to get any special food because Aleemah wants to eat in the Catford Cafe (or should that be the Broadway Cafe) pie and mash shop. She has taken a liking to their pie and mash in the possibly mistaken belief that she is eating eel pies instead of mincemeat pies. (She doesn't eat mammal protein, but eats any other animals).
Friday 11th May 2007
08:12 BST
 The weather is sort of half and half this morning. the sky has plenty of clouds, some almost black and sinister, but between those clouds there is some sunshine occasionally getting through. It seems to feel cooler than yesterday, but the way I was judging the temperature yesterday seemed highly subjective, and may not have reflected the true temperature as felt by everybody else. I would guess that there wil many times today when it rains just as it did yesterday, but for the moment it is dry.

 It was my intention to get home as soon as possible after work yesterday. It didn't happen like that. I got half way to the bus stop and made the decision that I would be a lot more comfortable if I turned back and used the toilets at work. This decision turned out to be a wise choice. With no chance of ever getting my early train home I had a slightly more leisurely journey to Clapham Junction. It was lucky I did not leave it until a bit later because the traffic on the way was pretty heavy, and in all probability would have got heavier still.

 Having arrived at Clapham Junction I assessed the available trains and noted that there were two trains in quick succession from platform seven. This is my favourite platform where all the long distance trains call. These trains are most often partly empty after Clapham Junction, and are usually fast to Waterloo (main line) station. I didn't get to the platform in time for the first train, but the second was only three or four minutes behind. That train was a class 159 diesel electric multiple unit. Travelling on these train is a fairly rare occurence for me, and so injected a little novelty value in my journey home.

 I arrived at Waterloo a little later than I might have desired, but still in plenty of time to catch the late train from platform A of Waterloo East station. The ride from there to Catford Bridge was uneventful, and I was looking forward to first grabbing a bite to eat, and then getting stuck in repairing/rebuilding my downstairs, back room, Windows 2000 computer. It didn't happen like that. I was two thirds of the way from the station to home when I was suddenly greeted by name from someone initially unfamiliar. After a double take I recognised the man to be Andy Leaper who I hadn't seen for something like 20 years. We had a long and interesting chat where we were before he continued towards the station and I continued towards home.

[Andy, if you are reading this, I told you the wrong date. It is Thursday 31st May, and not the 30th]

 It was 6pm when I arrived home, and the cats were very keen to be fed ! I was pretty keen to feed myself too. So I fed the cats, and made myself a couple of rolls. Between all that I put some salmon in the oven to cook. The next thing that happened was a text message from Aleemah asking me to call her at home. We had a long and pleasant conversation while my salmon started to cremate itself in the oven. I did nip out halfway through our conversation and turn the oven off, but when I came to finally eat that salmon it was rather overdone (well, a lot actually), but it was still quite tasty, and the soy sauce I had experimentally basted it in ended up as a rather nice touch.

 Finally I got to work on the computer. Everything seemed to go well, and although I stayed up a lot later than I should have, I managed to get most things installed (software, hardware and drivers) that I wanted. This morning I found the new SATA hard disk was not being seen, and a quick check showed that the drivers for the controller card had been rejected by Windows. It was only a few minutes work to install the drivers that Windows considered to be correct and start the process of formatting the new hard disk. According to the instruction sheet there should have been a choice of two drivers for the controller card. One set was to use the controller for individual disks, and the other to use a pair of disks in RAID formation. Windows decided that it only like the RAID drivers, but then asked if the hard disk it then detected was to be part of a RAID formation or to be treated as a single volume. I opted for single volume and from then on everything went to plan. There was just enough time to format the disk before I had to leave for work, and now I look forward to putting that disk, and the rest of the machine, through its paces when I get home tonight.
Thursday 10th May 2007
08:23 BST
 This morning is a vast improvement on yesterday morning, or indeed the few previous mornings. The sky still has some clouds, and is a little hazy, but there is sunshine this morning. It also feels warmer than the previous few mornings as well. My appreciation of the temperature may be a bit wonky this morning. Perhaps it was the two and a half pints of beer last night, or the hot chilli flavoured tortilla chips I was eating last night, but I have felt quite damp and sweaty without actually feeling exceptionally warm. Of course the other reason for the sweatiness is that after the last couple of days the trains and buses have their heating turned up rather high. Now that's OK for an empty train or bus when it first goes into service in the morning, but once it starts to get crowded a little less heat is desirable.

 I got home on my early train yesterday, and although I went home via Tesco, I was still in nice and early. That gave me a chance to fit my new motherboard into my ailing computer. I didn't get a chance to connect up the first hard drive and floppy disk before I went to the pub, but I did get as far as checking the machine would P.O.S.T. (power on self test), and this confirmed the board worked, and that I had set the CPU parameters correctly. Perhaps it is wrong to say I confirmed the board worked. The old motherboard, and the now abandoned faulty old, but new, motherboard would get by P.O.S.T OK, and the troubles started after that. I am confident that the brand new motherboard will work OK once I have the hard drive connected up and Windows re-installed.

 After my beers with Kevin, Iain, and a rare appearance of Howard, I went home again just a little after 9pm. I was very tempted to do some more work on the PC, but I knew if I started that I would probably get carried away and not get to bed until midnight, or some such silly time. So I ignored the computer and watched a bit of TV while munching through half a large bag of hot chilli flavoured tortilla chips. Now I realise that this was not very healthy eating, but prior to going to the pub I had been very careful of what I ate. The trouble is that alcohol, like smoking cannabis, can give you the munchies, and I most definitely had the munchies after eating quite lightly through the day, and drinking booze afterwards. All I could find on TV was an old "Carry On" film (Carry On Doctor I think). It provided a bit of amusement while I wound down, but I did not stay up to see the end of the film. I think I was in bed by about 9:45pm (and the film finished at 10:00pm).

 Tonight I was due to be seeing Aleemah, but she has texted in sick. Although I am disappointed by this, it does come at a convenient time. I can now devote the evening to setting up the new incarnation of my "downstairs, backroom, Windows 2000 computer.

[In case you don't know me I had better explain I have rather a large home computer network. In the front room sits an old, slow, but still stylish, iMac computer. In my bedroom I have a slow, but still useful for playing mp3's, and checking e-mail, Windows 2000 computer. In the upstairs front bedroom I have a reasonably fast Windows XP computer. Downstairs again, in the back room I have a semi fasr computer running SuSe Linux, and that is used mainly for internet based stuff. Then there is the fairly fast Windows 2000 machine that I am currently repairing. That is optimised for video work. Also in the same room are three more machines. One is an ancient machine that is used as a firewall. Lastly there are two old machines that are both used as servers. One has these web pages on, and the other is mainly for "network attached storage". It also has an ftp server on it. I have several other computers, all fairly old, and one pretty ancient. The ancient one is in good working order with Windows For Workgroups 3.11 on it, and has had so much stuff added to it that if it went back in time to when it would have been new, it would be hailed as a super computer ! All of these last computers are just in storage, but could be plugged into my network at any time, and used.]
Wednesday 9th May 2007
08:10 BST
 It's another rather grey morning. Not as grey as yesterday, maybe, grey enough. It is also possibly cooler than yesterday morning. The forecast suggests that the top temperature today may only reach 14° C, but I suspect that here in London it may be a degree, or two, warmer. There is also the suggestion of rain later on today.

 After my rocky start to the day, yesterday, I began to improve as the day wore on, but this was at the expense of a headache that ranged from extremely mild to fairly bad. Despite still feeling like I was almost, but not quite, ill, I surprised myself by running 50ft for a bus with no ill effects when I left work. I didn't even feel very winded, just slightly winded. Later on I thought I would try out my stamina by racing up the stairs from the subway at Waterloo East station. That almost killed me !

 When I got home I did my best to eat fairly moderately, and in some ways I succeeded. Ideally I should have eaten less, but what I did eat was moderately healthy in some respects, bread with no butter or margerine, but unhealthy in other ways, or to be specific, blue cheese. I also had some leftover ham cooked with tomatoes, a red pepper, sweetcorn, and some black bean sauce. The ham was fairly lean, and the vegetables only cooked enough to slightly soften them ( a la dente is the term, I believe). So do I feel better for it this morning ? Maybe. My energy levels seem to be fluctuating wildly this morning. My walk to the station was about average. The long rush from the platforms at Waterloo East station to my platform on Waterloo main line station was typically challenging (read - knackering). The walk from Wandsworth Town station to the bus stop felt very easy, and the walk from the bus to work seemed unusually tiring. I am not sure how I feel as I type this, but I reckon I'll live.

 I didn't do anything of any significance last night. I watched some TV, wrote a semi long e-mail, and went to bed. It doesn't sound like much, and I guess it wasn't. Tonight I could be really busy, but won't be. I should be getting my new motherboard delivered today. were it not for the fact that I will out having a drink with Kevin and Iain, I would probably end up getting to bed stupidly late after playing with the computer half the night. Tomorrow I should be meeting Aleemah, and so I won't be playing with the computer then, but Friday night I should have plenty of free time to get stuck into it.
Tuesday 8th May 2007
08:14 BST
 The rain gave up yesterday afternoon, and I don't think it has rained since. This morning is overcast, and the forecast suggests there will be plenty of opportunity for more rain today. When it did rain yesterday, it really did rain. For maybe as much as two hours it pelted down. Once it had stopped the clouds did break up, and early evening was quite bright and sunny.

 It is good to be back at work. Three days of eating and smoking too much, while being mostly lazy, have left me feeling almost ill this morning. Yesterday I did manage to curb the quantity I ate, at least to a certain extent, but the quality of what I ate was far from healthy. Mixing greasy Tesco's own "hot spicy chicken thighs" with a large bag of peanuts, and chocolate covered ice cream things, has probably left my blood pressure  high, and my blood sugar level high (the humous and fruit were probably blameless). So it will come as some relief to my poor suffering body that I will only be eating fruit until I get home from work. It is possible (but not necessarily probable) that I might just eat some grilled salmon with vegetables for dinner tonight, and nothing else.

 Yesterday afternoon I spent some time playing with old computer motherboards. Of the two old Socket A motherboards that I wanted to try, I only got as far as the first one. Superficially it seemed to work OK. I installed Windows without any trouble, and could read and write to the floppy drive with no corruption to the hard disk. The AGP slot seemed to work just fine, and I began to wonder just what I originally thought was wrong with it. I soon learned that the major fault was that nothing in the PCI slots was being detected, or at least correctly detected.Also some jumper settings on the motherboard were no being read properly. I was not sure if it was the onboard sound card, or the PCI network card, that Windows kept thinking was a "VGA Device". In desperation I tried flashing the BIOS chip. That worked, but didn't help, and in one respect it made things worse despite being a later release. The thing that was made worse was that the CPU was no longer correctly identified, and it was impossible to set the frequency and multiplier to the correct settings.

 As an experiment I removed the flash memory device that holds the BIOS from my recently condemned motherboard and tried that in the new(old) motherboard. It was no great surprise that the computer would not boot at all with that in there. So I resorted to the dangerous practice of hot swapping BIOS chips. That was successful in as much as nothing blew up, but I was unable to reprogram the alien chip to make it work. So maybe tonight two motherboards will end up in the dustbin, but that does leave one more to experiment with. That must be the one where every time the floppy disk drive is accessed the hard drive gets corrupted. If that is the only problem then I may still attempt to use it with the floppy controller disabled, and no floppy drive fitted. 

 I note that there is another bank holiday Monday coming up on the 28th of this month. I knew it was imminent, but it was only this morning that I checked the actual date. I think that for that long weekend I must try and do something more entertaining, or try and get to see someone. I have felt rather isolated over the last three days, and that is another reason why coming back to work is good. Kevin did give me the opportunity to go for a drink on Sunday night, but without any advance warning. There were essentially two reasons why I did not join him. First I felt too stuffed from overeating to go out, and secondly I had assumed that I would be safe in complete slob mode by not even bothering to wash when I got up in the morning. Maybe a quick rub over with a damp flannel, and a good spray of deodorant may have fixed the latter problem, but the first problem was really insurmountable. This was a shame because getting mildly drunk was just what I think I desired on Sunday night.
Monday 7th May 2007
08:52 BST
 It is a bank holiday (public holiday) in England today, and in keeping with tradition it is cold, damp, and grey outside ! From time to time it is more than damp, it is actually raining. Yesterday was similar, but with very little rain, and the day before was mostly grey, but without any rain.

 I haven't written anything for the previous two days. Does this mean I was busy or away ? No, I just never got around to it despite never really having anything better to do with my time. So let's see what I can remember since last writing on Friday morning.

Friday :
Shortly after writing in the morning I found, and ordered a new socket A motherboard from Ebuyer. I was surprised to find one so easily considering it is now just about an obsolete system. At £27.84 it is a cheap buy, but the spec looks reasonably OK. The motherboard I am replacing has two extra IDE connectors that can be used for a , but I just used them individualy for extra storage when handling big video files. The new motherboard does not have the facility. So I have also ordered a controller card, and a 160GB SATA hard disk to go with it. This will be my first taste of  serial ATA working, and by all accounts it is pretty fast - just the thing when working with huge video files.

 On Friday afternoon we were supposed to be having a minor social event at work. This never happened, and it may have been convenient that it did not. I was due to meet up with Aleemah after work, and the social event could have resulted in me not leaving work on time. I met up with Aleemah, more or less on time, at Victoria station, and we retired to the Wetherspoons pub on the station concourse for some refreshment. We had a nice long chat, and I consumed several pints of beer. I attempted to find out why Aleemah has abandoned for the entire bank holiday weekend. I can't really remember her breakdown of what she was doing, and when, but it confirmed I am a much lower priority to her than I really hope for. It did not exactly leave me feeling sad, but it did reinforce the depression I felt from having a depressing dream in the early hours of Friday morning. I had intended to go home on what is now my favourite train which leaves Victoria at 18:19 (to Ashford, but conveniently calling at Peckham Rye where there is just a five minute wait for the Sevenoaks train that calls at Catford). Unfortunately we were chatting too much, and I missed that train. So I had another pint before trying for an alternative train. I spied a Dartford bound train that left at 19:16 and also called at Peckham Rye. I had hoped that this would make for a reasonable connection too, but I was sadly mistaken. Although leaving Victoria 3 three minutes after the hour earlier, it was slower getting to Peckham Rye mainly because it also called at Denmark Hill station. The train pulled into Denmark Hill station thirty seconds before the Sevenoaks train, but we were held at signals until after my Sevenoaks train had left. This annoyed me. In fact it annoyed me a lot. Had I been in the middle of the train I could have alighted from the train and rushed over the footbridge to catch the Sevenoaks train at Denmark Hill. Instead I was right at the front of the train - that being where the exit is assuming I had eventually arrived at Catford station.

 The rain I was on also called at Lewisham station. Rather than wait nearly thirty minutes in my shirtsleeves as the day rapidly cooled off at Peckham Rye, I stayed on the rain until Lewisham. Once again, being at the front of the train was a big mistake. In fact it was a bigger mistake because the exit at Lewisham is opposite the very rear of the train (in fact it is even beyond that). I made my way along almost the entire length of the platform, down the subway, and up onto platform two, found there was a Hayes bound train (calling at Catford Bridge) in about twelve minutes, and made my way three quarters along the platform to wait in the now quite chilly air until my train arrived.

 It would be a mistake to think I was happy when I eventually got home. Well, I was happier to have got home, but I still felt pretty depressed. I was also very hungry and decided the best cure for both was to order some very tasty food. With no expense spared I ordered a few Thai dishes from a local restaurant. They were very tasty, but at £20 just to feed me (quite well !) it was a bit extravagant.

Saturday :
 On Saturday I started off doing some domestic chores, but not before I had a long lay in bed. I emptied Nelly's litter tray, emptied the rubbish bins, did some laundry, and did some shopping. After that, laziness took over in a big way. I had two magazines to read, and a lot of tasty food freshly bought from Tesco. For the rest of the day I did little apart from read and eat.

Sunday :
 Yesterday was another mostly lazy day. My few achievements included doing another load of laundry, and making the first preparations to ready things to start re-building my downstairs, backroom, Windows 2000, video orientated computer. The most important part of that was to get my NAS (Network Attached Storage) machine onto the shelf sitting next to my server. Since building it, it has been sitting in the middle of the room on the little plastic chest of draws that stores odds and sods, and makes a convenient place to work on the insides of computers. I also dug out two old motherboards that could potentially have been used to replace the faulty motherboard in the Windows 2000 machine just mentioned. One in particular is a very nicely specified motherboard that would make an ideal replacement. Unfortunately both are faulty as well. As I recall, one has a faulty BIOS chip and will not boot, and the other has a fault that corrupts the hard drive whenever the floppy disk drive is accessed. I feel I ought to re-evaluate these faults as I have a spare processor and memory that could be used with them. I think, though I haven't checked in detail, that the BIOS chips of the recent faulty motherboard are of the correct type to fit in these two older faulty motherboards (though first I will have to take the motherboard to work where I have the tools to unsolder them). As those chips stand (I say that in the plural because there was a main and emergency "hot spare" on the motherboard) it is unlikely they will work in an "alien" motherboard, although there is a very feint hope that there may be enough commonality in their programming to allow booting from a floppy disk. If that did work it would be possible to reprogram either (or both) of them to work in the new motherboard. If that fails there is a very dangerous process where the one working BIOS chip from the two almost identical boards is hot swapped with the "new" chip that is to be programmed. These chips are most definitely not designed to be unplugged/plugged in while the power is on, but it can, and has been done before without catastrophe. In this case I will have nothing to lose by trying, and maybe everything to gain.

 With everything set up for playing with old motherboards today,  slipped back into lazy mode. You could say it was ultra lazy mode. I started to listen to an audio book - ultra lazy - I didn't even have to turn the pages of a real book. The book was Robert A. Heinlein's "For Us The Living". It was a good listen. So good that I listened to the entire book over the course of the rest of the day. The entire story lasts for just over seven hours, and although I took some breaks for eating, going to the toilet, feeding cats, checking e-mail etc, it occupied my whole time until it was time for bed.

Today :
 So far today I have fed the cats, had a shower, and washed my hair, and apart from writing this, that is all I have achieved so far (10:28 as I write this). Soon I will be going out in the hope that Tesco is open on this bank holiday Monday. There is some stuff I want to get, and in particular I want some fruit to take to work with me tomorrow morning. Some stuff, like Diet Cola, I could get from the corner shop, and I know that will be open if I need it.

 I find I have little enthusiasm, though a lot of curiosity, about playing with the two old motherboards that may yet be resurrected. Once I am happy hat any shopping I am able to do has been done, I must try and engage my enthusiasm to play with those motherboards. It is either that or spend a boring day just moping around (although the weather is conducive to it). My two most important aims today are to eat moderately, and to make sure I am in bed early enough to ensure a comfortable journey into work tomorrow. 
Friday 4th May 2007
08:34 BST
 It is possible that the temperature is even lower this morning than it was yesterday morning. Ideally I should have worn a coat this morning, but I think it will be quite warm enough to make a coat slightly uncomfortable when I go home again after work. Of course I am not going straight home, but meeting with Aleemah first. Provided I manage to get the 18:19 train from Victoria tonight, I think I will be comfortable. By then this mornings clouds should have dispersed, and the sun broken through. Hopefully that will happen mid morning, or even earlier.

 After eating last night I made a start on rebuilding my downstairs, backroom, Windows 2000 computer using the new parts I had bought. The first observation was that the AGP graphics card slot does not work. I tried three different cards in it, including a brand new one, and all the PC could do was to beep at me. So I put the old PCI graphics card back in and re-installed Windows. Everything seemed to go OK apart from one attempted reboot where the computer would not shut down. Subsequently, whenever I did shut the PC down it would restart all by itself (this was with all the "awaken on ......" settings in the BIOS set to disabled. I finally shut down and turned the mains off to it before going to bed. this morning I found the hard disk had once again become corrupted and Windows would not finish loading. This was another hard disk to the one when this behaviour first started. With just about everything replaced in the PC I am left with the conclusion that the motherboard is to blame for this happening. The AGP slot not working is fair proof that the motherboard is faulty. I doubt if I will find a new Socket A motherboard, but I have a couple of highly dubious spares amongst all my computer debris. Over the weekend I will try one, or the other, of them.

 I woke up this morning from a rather depressing dream. It has left me feeling low in some ways, but in other ways, and in sort of contradiction to this, I feel more dynamic this morning. I have some of the usual aches and pains, but somehow I feel very slightly more alert, and with a modicum of more energy than usual.
Thursday 3rd May 2007
08:17 BST
 This morning it is overcast and fairly chilly outside. This seems to be in direct contradiction to the weather forecast in my morning paper. According to that it is supposed to be sunny all day today. Maybe the sun will break through later, and maybe the clouds will thicken enough for a spot of rain. Only time will tell. All I know is that when I got off my warm train at Wandsworth Town station I had a strong urge to dash round the corner to the BP petrol station and use their toilet to have a wee. I did give into that urge, and arrived in work a few minutes late this morning.

 My commute home was uneventful last night. It was done in bright warm sunshine, and so was a relatively happy experience, although late running of my train from Clapham Junction made my connection at Waterloo East a little tight.

 When I got home I had a little time to experiment with the live CD's on my iMac. Unfortunately no amount of fiddling would get any of them to work properly. I suspect that my iMac, being the very first of the iMac line, has a few subtle differences that are not allowed for in these live CD's. I guess what I should do is to look around for a very cheap G4 iMac. The power PC range of Apple Mac's is pretty much obsolete now, and the G4 machines are now several generations old, so if I am patient I will eventually locate, or even be offered one, ultra cheap. Maybe even for free. I still regard owning a Mac amongst all my Win/Lin/Intel machines as just being a novelty item - interesting, but not really used for anything. So paying more than, say, £30 I would regard as too much. My current G3 iMac actually does serve a useful purpose, I have to admit. Using the open source it makes for a nice living room clock !

 After playing with the computers I joined Kevin and Iain in the pub for a couple of pints.

 Today I should be getting a parcel of goodies delivered to me here at work. Among the bits is the new power supply for my downstairs, backroom, Windows 2000 machine. So I should be playing with that tonight.
17:10 BST - Footnote
 I ran out of time to write all I was going to write this morning. I meant to record some memories of an exciting dream last night...........
I was in some sort of field with some people, and also a couple of vehicles. I have no memory of what we were doing there. I looked up into the sky and saw a plane that was very similar to Concorde, but also had a touch of the Gerry Andersons (Thunderbirds) about it. It looked as if it had stalled or something because it was only about a hundred yards up, and it was pointing straight up. I thought the pilot was try to apply full power to try and lift the plane while trying to get it level. I can't recall hearing any sound, and there was no down draught from the engines which were at full power (how I knew this without any sound is a mystery). Eventually the plane started to level off and it circled around about 180°. As it reached level flight it suddenly dropped out of the sky, and there was a huge, but once again silent, explosion behind some buildings. Flames leapt high in the sky, and the burning aviation fuel started to creep towards us. The flames coming toward us were actually quite small, maybe just a few inches off the ground, but we knew we had to get out of there. For some reason we could not se any of the vehicles nearby, and we had to run up a slope towards some houses. Still the flames crept towards us, and we went through some sort of building like a school. Out the other side I came across a bright pink Land Rover type vehicle. Although styled like a Land Rover it was very narrow, and high sided. I got into the drivers seat and found the keys. Somehow my companion, who may have been Jodie, squeezed into the narrow seat beside me and we drove off. (I was driving somehow, although in real life I have never driven before). As the dream faded away we were driving through a village on a road that had once been a railway line. The last bit I remember was driving past the remains of a railway station platform alongside a row of shops.

Other late news. My computer parts came today, and sooner or later I will be fitting some of them into the computer and, once again, attempting to re-install Windows 2000 on it. One bit of bad news I learnt today was that after tomorrow (Friday) night, I will not be seeing Aleemah again until next Tuesday. So I will be spending the entire bank holiday weekend alone.
Wednesday 2nd May 2007
08:14 BST
The sunny mornings continue. This morning is very much like yesterday. There is not a single cloud in the sky, or at least nothing that I have noticed. The temperature is about the same as yesterday - cool, but reasonably comfortable for just shirt sleeves. I would conceded that it may be a little too cool to stand around in just shirt sleeves in a draughty place, but for commuting it is just fine.

 My journey home after work last night was rather eventful. I arrived too late to catch my early train from Waterloo East (if it ran), and the next one was cancelled. If there had been any indication that the 16:55 train would be cancelled early enough I could have got the 16:44 Gravesend train to London Bridge, and tried for the 16:50 train to Hayes. Alas there was not sufficient warning, and could not get to London Bridge in time. I went to London Bridge anyway to catch the 17:10 train to Hayes. Both these two trains from London Bridge are slow trains, stopping at all stations, and hence a little irritating, but they do get me home. Soon after getting to platform 1 for the 17:10 train, an announcement was made that this was running late. It turned up at about 17:18, and I did not get home until twenty to six. this must be one of the latest times I have got home for ages (not counting when I have not been going straight home from work).

 I seemed to spend a lot of last night looking for, downloading, and testing live CD's for Apple Mac computers using the processors. I had varying amounts of luck. The first one I tried was a (presumed) abandonded version of . That worked up to giving me a command line, but no graphical desktop. The next was for PPC. That booted up to a graphical desktop, but it did not seem to find the network interface, nor the sound card. The last, and I only got to test it when I got up this morning, was . That seemed to boot up, but at the time the graphical interface should have come up the monitor went into standby. I suspect it has chosen some outlandish screen resolution, and the monitor shut down for safety purposes. I suspect that by experimenting with the options available before booting it may be possible to get all three to work, but with insufficient time to experiment last night (and this morning) I'll have to experiment later. I have brought all three CD's in to work to give to my workmate Sanjaya who is a Mac user at home, and who inspired me to do this experimenting.

 Tonight, being a Wednesday night, I hope to be doing some drinking in The Ram with Kevin and Iain. With the end of the world now rapidly approaching (July 1st) it is pretty important I should get to a pub as often as possible before it becomes impossible.

From here:-
Simon Clark, director of pro-smoking group Forest, said many people had not yet realised how "draconian" the ban would be.
He said: "From July next year it will not only be illegal to smoke in every pub, club and bar in the country,
it will even be impossible to set up a private club run by smokers for smokers.
"That’s an amazing state of affairs but typical of a Government which seems determined to
interfere in every aspect of our daily lives."

Tuesday 1st May 2007
08:12 BST
 May has started bright and sunny. It is most pleasant outside, although maybe just a degree too cool. My gamble yesterday paid off. The thunderstorm that some forecasts predicted didn't happen, and in fact the sun shone for most of the day.

 I went home via Tesco last night, where I bought the inevitable cat food, but I also bought some goodies for me. I was starving when I got home and had quite a lot to eat, although some of it, like the couscous, was closer to the healthy side than the unhealthy side. Once I had eaten, and done a little reading, I had a go at re-installing Windows on my back room machine. I decided to use an old, but last known to be in good condition, 30GB hard drive. There was one thing I initially forgot when I started, and that was to remove the USB2 interface card from the PC. I can't remember being like it ages ago, but now it seems that the Windows hardware detection sequence hangs when that card is installed. On the second attempt I removed the card and Windows installed with no problems. After shutting the machine down again I re-fitted the card and attempted to reboot. Upon hitting the power switch the fans started up, but the machine just sulked. This gave me a possible clue as to what is going on in that machine. Some of the symptoms felt like a faulty power supply, but the power supply in that machine is only a few months old (maybe as much as 6 months), and it should not have failed already, but maybe it has. So I am about to order a new power supply. I am going to get the same one as I used in my upstairs front room machine. That one seems nice. It has a large downward facing fan that improves the internal cooling of the PC, and being a large fan is runs slower, and most importantly quieter. At the same time I will order a few more spares. A spare USB 2 card may be a good idea, but anything in that PC could be suspect after the previous power supply failed in a most destructive way (it killed a hard drive and a graphics card).

 After giving up on installing Windows (until I get the new power supply fitted) I went to bed to do some reading. It was already gone 9pm and I decided that I would not read any later than 10pm. I wasn't watching the time, but when I considered I had read enough I checked the clock to find it was exactly 10pm ! I think I had a good nights sleep. Yesterday I woke up feeling really groggy, and that feeling persisted into mid morning. This morning I don't feel too bad. My guts were a bit rumbly, which made my commute into work a little uncomfortable, but some of the now usual assorted aches and pains seem quite mild this morning.

Original template made with Seamonkey 1.0.6 30th December 2006