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Monday 31st March 2008
08:15 BST

 It was disappointing not to wake up in daylight this morning, but at least it was full daylight when I left to go for work. The weather is not exactly brilliant this morning. It remains cool (but not cold), and all the way to work it was quite overcast. As I type this I notice that the sun has come out. I think this sets the pattern for the day - some sunny intervals, and maybe some showers. If the forecasts are to be believed the afternoon will see the best of the sunshine. Now that will be quite nice. Now the clocks have changed to British Summer Time I will be going home from work effectively an hour earlier (by body clock). The earlier mornings don't bother me, and the earlier home time will feel really good until the novelty wears off. (Why do I get a sense of deja vu writing that [why do I get a sense of deja vu writing that]).

 Yesterday the weather was not too bad. There was at least one short shower in the morning, and there may have been another later on. Most of the day was fairly bright, but the amount of actual sunshine was disappointing.

 I took a bit of a vacation from my diet yesterday. I didn't go too wild, but there was some stuff left in the fridge I wanted to get rid of, and besides I did wake up feeling absolutely starving. Perhaps I slightly over did things on Saturday. I am not sure what was the worst thing I ate yesterday. It could have been the "southern fried (flavour)" chicken breasts, or it could have been the feta cheese. I cooked the chicken breasts in the oven and hardly any fat came out. So maybe they weren't too bad. Although the satay sauce I poured over them, to finish off the bottle, probably did me no favours. The feta cheese had a use by date of December this year. So I didn't have many excuses to use that up, but along with some chopped red onion, chopped tomatoes, chopped red peppers, and a small sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil and some dried basil, it was delicious. Apart from those two little indulgences everything else I ate was OK.

 I didn't actually do much at all yesterday. At least not after mid morning. After I got my shopping from Tesco I had my first bite to eat, and then I did a little bit of clearing up. I managed to throw out enough to half fill the wheelie bin, but somehow it did not seem to make much difference because it was not stuff hanging around in the open, but from a cupboard. It did leave enough room in that cupboard to stack some loose stuff, but next week I will throw out some more stuff and that should leave enough room to clear another area. I finished that little exercise with a bit of hoovering around where I had been working. After that I did nothing of any note for the rest of the day.

 Tonight I plan to have a nice healthy meal of fish, cabbage and red peppers. Then I have to sit down and design these pages for April.
Sunday 30th March 2008
09:23 BST

 It was quite wet overnight, and although the rain has stopped for now, it looks like there could be plenty more showers. My guess would be that today's weather will be similar to yesterday - a few sunny intervals, but many showers. The temperature will probably be similar too - just a tad too cool to really describe it as mild, but comfortable when the wind drops.

 Yesterday morning I dared weigh myself. There's a long way to go, but I was surprised that things were not as bad as I thought they could be. So the diet continues, but this morning I really, really, really fancy a huge great fry up. I wont actually have anything as drastic as that, but I may allow myself a small luxury just for this morning. Quite what that will be depends, to a certain extent,  on what I see when I go shopping this morning.

 I had a pleasant day with Aleemah yesterday. Having company meant I was easily able to avoid any temptation for snacking, but when I made Aleemah's dinner I couldn't resist having a small tin of mackerel in spicy tomato sauce with some raw spinach. I was going to say one trouble with eating all the spinach I have eaten recently, but it's not a trouble at all. So I'll say one observation I have made after eating a lot of spinach recently is what happens to the end product. It comes out karki coloured !!

 On a similar note; Smudge spent a lot of time indoors yesterday. She did go out a few times, but because of all the rain, all her visits to the garden were fairly brief ones. Obviously that was not enough. At approx 2 am I was woken up by some unidentifiable sound. Upon getting out of bed I heard Smudge run down the stairs. Normally this means she wants to go out. So I went down stairs to let her out, but at the bottom of the stairs I could smell something. After I let her out I had a look round but couldn't see anything. Before I went back to bed I went to use the toilet. In the bathroom I found the two mats that go round the pedastal of the wash basin, and the toilet, were in a heap. Investigation showed that Smudge had been so desperate she had crapped on one one mat, neatly folded that over and dragged the other mat on top of it. This was all rather unpleasant, but to give Smudge her due, she had chosen the best option of anywhere in the house. I was able to tip it straight down the toilet just leaving a small skid mark on the mat. All the bathroom mats are now in the washing maching.

 One plan I had for today was to go and see Nigel over on the borders of East London and Essex. It was only a possible plan, but two things conspire against it. Despite the forecast suggesting it will be a bright day with just a few isolated showers (apparently) it does not look like that to me right now. The other big impediment is that engineering work has closed the railway station today. There are other options such as buses, but I think I will leave it until another time. Instead of seeing Nigel I think I might do some tidying up today. Now that Nelly's litter tray is no more (handy though it could have been last night) I have far more room in the wheelie bin to throw out some more junk. Last Thursday the dustman emptied an almost half empty bin. This Thursday I ought to try and find more for them !
Friday 28th March 2008
08:23 GMT

 Paradoxically, it feels colder this morning even though I think it maybe very slightly warmer. The reason is that the wind has picked up a bit. It's probably only a strong breeze, but it is enough to feel quite chilly. My discomfort was not eased once I got on my train - it had no heating on. Along with the chilling breeze it is also rather damp outside. There were a few spots of drizzle I caught on my way into work, and the grey dreary sky promises more to come.

 After my server software update yesterday morning I did not immediately reboot, but set it to reboot at 4 pm. At five or ten minutes after 4 pm I tried to log in from work and got nothing. I assumed that it had not restarted, and that I would have to spend a fair bit of my evening trying to get the thing working again. I was really surprised when I got home at about 6 pm to find that it had eventually restarted all by itself, and everything appeared to be working well. It was also a relief to find two emails from it this morning showing that it was very happy after it's update. So the only thing that disappoints me now is that it never achieved a full 365 days of non stop running.

 Apart from feeling cold, I feel fairly good again this morning. This diet must be a wonderful thing. I have already achieved one goal. A new belt I bought last Saturday now fits me - just ! When I tried the belt on Sunday (I think) it was hopelessly too tight. I am now wearing it without any significant discomfort, but it would be better if it were a bit looser still. Hopefully that will happen in the not too distant future.

 Apart from the oxalic acid giving a feeling like the spinach juice had etched my teeth (read this), I had a highly enjoyable meal of poached salmon and spinach. Although it does contain some sugar, I poured on a little sweet mango chilli sauce on it to give it that special edge ! Apart from that, all I had last night was an apple, a pear and a raw carrot. During the rest of the day I just had an apple, a small orange, and a banana. I guess that lot is pretty low in calories, but I am only counting trouser inches. Tonight I have part prepared another curry. This one uses up the last of my Tesco "value" mushrooms, and the last of my cauliflower. Added to those I have put in some sliced carrot and a pile of spinach. The silly thing is I can't remember the alleged flavour of the curry sauce I poured over it last night. It might be jalfezi flavour.

 There could be a small chance that I am going for a beer tonight, but I have warned Kevin that it will only be a couple of beers maximum. Too much beer brings too much temptation. It is like cannabis in that respect. i.e. The Munchies !!! Hopefully, if  we do go for a beer it will be a very early one. By the time I get home tonight I will be so hungry that I could almost eat my own socks. I don't want to eat before a beer, but coming home after a couple of pints to a ready prepared meal left on a very low gas in the oven, would be rather fine.
Thursday 27th March 2008
06:50 GMT

It is probably as cold as yesterday at this time of the morning, but I believe that it will warm up a little more than it did yesterday. I did catch part of the weather forecast on TV last night, and withing the next few days the temperatures are forecast to be consistently in double figures (°C). I am hoping that the sun will break through soon. The sky is misty rather than cloudy, as far as I can see from here, and it could go one of two ways. Either the sun will break through, or that mistyness will thicken in to black clouds. There were certainly some black clouds around as I came home from work yesterday. At Clapham Junction the clouds looked positively dark and thundery. I managed to avoid getting wet until I had finished my shopping in Tesco and walked home. That last walk was done under a heavy downpour. The rain continued for some time, and Smudge was walking around with her legs crossed waiting for the rain to ease off. Eventually it did and Smudge was out of the back door like a rat up a drainpipe.

 My special mushroom, carror, and cauliflower bhuna curry was very pleasant last night. In some ways it resembled a vegetable bhaji, and with some chunks of potato, and a gallon of oil, it would have been extraordinarily close to one. My only complaint is that I was too impatient to wait for it to get piping hot. I ate it while it was still merely warm. Tonight I shall treat myself to salmon and spinach cooked in some fish stock.

 I am feeling sort of fit and well right now. My reason for not catching the early train today is that I am doing a software update on my web server. For the past few days I have had some error messages about the backup regime it does. I am not sure what exactly those messages mean. One possibility is that the main hard disk is starting to fail. Having been running non stop for 248 days it could be a possibility. However, last night it sent me 219 identical e-mails that I think were suggesting that updating had failed. So I have started a manual software update. After over half an hour it is still only at 41% complete. I hope to see it finished before I go to work, but at this rate maybe I won't. The other worrying thing is that after a kernel update it will require a reboot. The last time this happened, over a year ago now I think, it refused to reboot. I am running that server on some old harware, and it is possible that some element in the new kernel does not support something. I am a little out of my depth here, and assuming the software update goes correctly, but I am still getting error messages tomorrow, I think I will have to call in the experts (Hi Steve !!). Of course if the update fails no one will be able to read this until I get the server back on line !
Wednesday 26th March 2008
08:13 GMT

 This morning it is merely cold rather than bloody cold. Unfortunately the sky is very overcast, and it is beginning to rain despite a few cracks appearing in the cloud cover. Today is very likely to be very similar to yesterday when it was mostly grey and cloudy from mid morning onwards. Perhaps there will be a bit more rain today. The only rain I can recall from yesterday was some intermittent very mist like rain as I walked from the station to home. Even then it was so brief that I hardly noticed it.

 Getting to work yesterday was "interesting" ! Having been distracted from getting my early train by some slightly longer visits to the toilet, I was at the station in time to get the next train. Unfortunately the ticket office was closed for some reason, and I had to buy a new seven day season ticket. I always buy my ticket from the Quickfare machine, but with the ticket office closed there was a long queue for it. By the time I had bought my ticket the next train had come and gone. It's a fifteen minute wait for the next train, and that goes to Cannon Street so I have to change trains at London Bridge. That was bad enough, but when we got to Lewisham the driver announced that because of a broken rain at New Cross we would be going non-stop to London Bridge. Last week when there was a points problem at New Cross something similar happened. On that occasion we were sent onto the fast lines and I arrived at Waterloo East faster than I have ever made it before. I think we took the same route yesterday but this time, being on a later train, we must have got caught in a "traffic jam". Instead of being the fastest journey it was one of the slowest ! I arrived at work rather late and consequently stayed at work an extra hour.

 When I arrived home I felt tired and hungry. In such situations I would usually want to grab something solid, filling, and tasty to eat as soon as possible. I had a raw carrot last night ! That was soon followed by two juicy plums and a large pear which I ate while my dinner was cooking. Dinner was mushrooms, cauliflower, and Tesco "value" white fish cooked in a Tunisian (or so it said on the jar) tomato sauce. It was pretty tasty, and the only deviation I made from a strict diet was to throw some croutons into the remains of the gravy (or sauce, whatever).

 It seems that these one and a half days of dieting may be doing some good. Either my belt has stretched or I have already lost an eighth of an inch round my waist. Maybe the former is more likely. To continue this regime I cooked tonight dinner last night ready to be warmed through when I get home. It is a mushroom, carrot, and cauliflower bhuna curry. Then, in a slightly more conventional manner, I can top off with more fruit for dessert, or as a snack later in the evening.

 One reason for precooking tonight's dinner is to reduce temptation when I go shopping on the way home. I am sure I will see lots of lovely things in Tesco, but knowing I have a meal almost ready and waiting for me will help focus my mind.
Tuesday 25th March 2008
06:50 GMT

 This morning seems to be bright and sunny. More rain is expected later in the afternoon, but for now it looks wonderful. Even the temperature is forecast to rise today, but not enough to get into double figures. The forecast for yesterday, as told by Nigel, was totally wrong. Instead of it being a bright sunny day, as indeed it did start out, the clouds just got thicker, and there were many showers of rain, sleet, and snow for almost the whole day. After the frosty start to the day I was expecting the snow to have a go at settling, but it just melted in seconds. Maybe today will be like yesterday, but at the moment there seems to be far less cloud in the sky compared to the start of yesterday.

 Apart from checking e-mail, and looking through some of my favourite web sites, I left the computers alone yesterday. I spent most of the day watching TV or reading.

 After a few days of gluttony I thought it might be a wise move to buy some healthier food in Tesco. I ended up with a basket that was nearly all fruit or vegetables. There were a few exceptions though. One particulat item caught my eye. It was a tin of sliced eels in brown sauce that came from Japan (or somewhere oriental). I ate that as soon as I got back from Tesco. The brown sauce turned out to be flavoured with sesame and five spice (as far as I could guess), and  the eels were quite delicious. I shall be looking out to get another tin of them sometime soon.

 I did have a strange breakfast just to use up some ingredients that were lying around. I had fried egg on ciabatta bread with camenbert cheese. It may sound odd, but it was actually very nice. After that breakfast I mainly ate fruit and veg for the rest of the day, and maybe I feel a bit better for it, although the not unexpected purgative effects of them were/are quite spectacular this morning. I could blame the very tasty plums, or I could blame the mushroom and cauliflower madras curry I had for dinner, but, in the words of the bible (or something), "all things come to pass" !!

 As per most days at work I shall only be eating fruit, and tonight I should be cooking another vegetable, and maybe white fish, curry. It should be very good for me, and maybe my digestive system will not be so shocked a second time. If, if, I keep this up, I could even lose a little weight.........
Monday 24th March 2008
08:02 GMT

 It's a fine frosty morning. Not that being freezing cold is all that great an idea ! There has been some sunshine, but at this moment the sun seems to have disappeared behind a fair bit of misty looking cloud. The forecast for today, according to my friend Nigel, is for a bright sunny day. That will be a definite improvement over yesterday if it is right. Yesterday morning's snow became quite heavy for a short while. There were snow flakes as big as a couple of centimetres wide falling for a little while, but at that point everything melted away. It seemed sort of strange that just as it looked like we could get a reasonable blanket of snow it all went away leaving just another damp and grey day.

 It seems like I must have spent most of yesterday behind a computer keyboard. I spent many hours getting my old Pentium III computer working. After a lot of mucking around I finally got full sound and graphics, networking, and the SCSI interface working. The SCSI CD burner worked just fine. There were only two bits that didn't work. There seemed to be some sort of conflict between the SCSI interface card and the onboard USB ports. Windows NT4 does not offer any support for USB so this is not too much of a disaster, although I did have installed a third party application that should have given limited USB support (and which did work prior to the conflict with the SCSI interface card). The other even more minor problem was that the ancient, and pretty useless, Syquest drive is not being recognised. It may be that I did not plug it in properly, but I only installed it in the machine to give it somewhere to live - it was getting too dusty sitting on the floor ! For the time being I consider that machine to be finished. It is very usable as it stands, and the wide selection of software I have installed all works just fine. For an old 450 MHz machine it does seem to be very responsive and smooth.

 Having put away that old machine, I next turned my attention to my everyday PC that I use for web surfing and email duties. It was running Kubuntu Linux, but I felt like a change. So I installed PCLinuxOS on it. The installation went smoothly, and I only had one problem when it was done. That problem was with my old Epson 640 inkjet printer. When I tried to print the test page the printer starting acting very strangely. It seemed to not be bothering to do any line feeds. It took some experimenting to sort out the correct configuration for smooth operation. Even now I am not sure if the settings I chose offer the best printing, but at least it does print. It's fine for text, but I still tend to reboot into Windows if I want to do any photographic printing. With the printer sorted out I had to go through all the rigmarole of changing, or adding applications to get my favourite ones installed, and removing the ones I don't like. Just like in Windows, there are loads of different media players. For Windows I still use the simple, unobtrusive, version 2 (usually 2.24) of Winamp, and for Linux I use the almost identical (which I "skin" to look identical to Winamp - try this or ). I guess I just hate media players that have odd lumpy shapes, controls that are frankly weird, want to re-arrange how I store my files, and offer to connect to the internet to do all sorts of nefarious things. I just want to open a file and play it ! For all the same reasons I will only use to play video files (although is sort of nice too).  By midnight I had that computer working more or less the way I wanted it to work.

 Today I think I am going to try and avoid too much computing. Although having said that I am downloading the latest version of Kubuntu. It is still a , but I am tempted to try it on something - maybe my bedroom PC. Now that the shops have re-opened, one of my first tasks for today is to go and get some shopping. I am both hoping, and dreading, that Tesco will be selling off all it's easter stuff at reduced prices. It would be nice to get some cheap easter eggs, or similar chocolaty things, but after eating very badly for the last few days it is a temptation that I really should resist.

 I am not really sure what I will end up doing for the rest of the day, but one thing I do know is that I somehow have to get to sleep as early as possible tonight so that I am reasonably fresh for work tomorrow.
Sunday 23rd March 2008
07:30 GMT

 This bank holiday weekend weather is highly variable except for one constant - it is cold ! Friday remained mainly cold and sunny until early evening. Then there were at least three bright flashes of  lighning and a heavy hail storm. For a little while the ground was white with hail, and a few sheltered pockets of it stayed on the ground for several hours after it had fallen.

 Yesterday was very grey with quite a few showers. A few of which were quite heavy. This morning it is trying to snow. As I write this it is just grey and horrible outside, but a little while ago I definitely saw a few flakes of snow drifting past the kitchen window. From the look of the sky there could easily be more snow falling later.

 On Friday I returned to my ancient slot 1, Pentium computer that I had been experimenting with a few weeks ago. It had been sitting around in a state of dismememberment for a long time, and I thought it was time I did something with it. When I last touched it I had replaced the motherboard with an almost, but not quite, identical one. Fitting my 450 MHz Pentium III processor in it made everything run incredibly slowly because it didn't really recognise that processor. Because the motherboards were so similar I tried swapping over the BIOS chip from the old motherbaord. That speeded things up a treat ! It ran so smoothly that I feel my thoughts that the old motherboard was faulty was probably correct. Once again I did a fresh installation of Windows NT (becuase it is probably contemporary for a machine of that age). The new motherboard did have onboard sound, but the old connector for it didn't fit. So I installed an old ISA sound card.

 Once Windows NT4 was installed, and the drivers for the sound card installed, I found I had a nicely working machine. Unfortunately I got greedy. The DVD ROM/CD Writer I had fitted in it could read disks perfectly well but couldn't write to blank CD disks. I knew this to be the case, and that was why that drive was spare to use in the machine. To get CD writing to work I wanted to fit an old SCSI based CD writer in addition th the other drive. That meant fitting a SCSI interface card. As soon as I did that I got the old conflict back of the network card "arguing" with the SCSI card. For some reason they seem to insist on trying to share the same resources and Windows NT4 is not man enough to sort the problem out. That was as far as I got very late on  Friday night.

08:00 I can see snow flakes drifting past the window again !

 Yesterday was a bit of a surprise. Aleemah decided that it would be better to come over yesterday rather than wait until Monday when transport would be worse, and the weather could be even more inclement. We had a good time together watching a film, watching some TV, eating, and other stuff.

 Today, with all the shops closed, little public transport about, and the grotty weather, I think it's time to just slouch around all day. In a small act of rebellion I don't think I can even be bothered to wash today (I just hope that if I do get any visitors they give me lots of prior warning !). One of the first things I shall do today is to have a proper breakfast. I have all the ingredients - eggs, bacon and tomato sauce !

 Later on I shall consider my options for that old PC. I do have at least one 99% working CD writer I could fit that uses an IDE interface, and so will not need the SCSI interface card, and I might possibly have another. I'll have to have a rummage, but I still would like to put either of the two SCSI devices I have sitting around to good use. It sounds like another fascinating way to waste a lot of time enjoying myself, and yet ultimately achieving nothing particularly useful.

08:15 - We have a thin blizzard now ! Well, the snow is blowing sideways even if there is not all that mch of it. Maybe, just maybe, I can see signs that it is starting to settle on a few drier bits of ground.
Friday 21st March 2008
10:31 GMT

 I am astonished ! I woke up at 5 am this morning and the weather seemed like I presumed it would be. It was cold, dark, and damp. Within 30 minutes of being up, and while poor old Smudge was out, the rain was beating against the back of the house. While I was in the bathroom the rain was hitting the window so hard it sounded like hail, which indeed it might have been. As soon as I could I let Smudge back in. She was damp, but had obviously found some sort of shelter because she was not dripping wet as I expected her to be. I went back to bed soon after that.

 It was when I woke up again, a little while after 9.30 am, that I became astonished. I could see bright sunshine ! As I write this the sun has gone back in, but I can still see plenty of blue in the sky. Surrounding those blue bits are some really evil looking black clouds. So I guess it won't be long before it pours down again. This has changed my nattitude about today. My original thoughts were that I would batten down the hatches, leave the curtains closed, turn up the heat, and pretend the outside world did not exist. Now I am considering going out to do a bit of shopping if I can select a nice bright bit of the day.

 Last night was a little weird. After work I called into Tesco to get some of the stuff I wanted to get the previous night, but was too knackered to bother. Inside a very crowded Tesco I met Kevin, and we decided to have a swift half once we had bought our shopping. I had a fair bit to buy, while Kevin had almost finished his shopping. I assumed that Kevin would get to The Ram first, but he made a mistake in his choice of checkout ! Long ago I learned that the queues at the checkouts at the end of the pet food aisle tend to be shorter than others. I wasn't until I was leaving the store that I noticed that Kevin was still about five people back in the "10 items or less" queues. So I got to the pub first and learned that Winter Warmer was still on sale, and tasting very delicious ! Although it was my intention to only have a quick one in the pub, it took very little arm twisting to stay for one more, but I drew the line after that second pint and came home.

 I did buy some ingredients to cook a dinner rather than order a takeaway, but it was getting late, and I was starving. Then add in the effects of the beer, and I couldn't resist getting a takeaway delivered. Out of all the possible choices I chose the "killer kebab" ! (Although the chilli sauce on this one seemed milder than usual). As I ate I watched some TV and it was soon 9 pm. I could have propped my eye lids open and stayed up, but habit sent me to bed where I read for maybe half an hour. I have no idea what the exact time was, but I am sure I was fast asleep by 10 pm.
Thursday 20th March 2008
08:02 GMT

 The weather has reverted back to being very overcast again. The wind, although probably not as strong as yesterday, is still from the north, and it is very cold again this morning. Apparently there is likely to be some rain later today, and there is a chance it will be what is described as wintry. In other words there could be some sleet, or even snow, mixed in with it. Conflicting forecasts say that tomorrow will either be fairly sunny, or there is an even better chance of wintry showers. Tomorrow see the start of the long Easter bank holiday weekend. Some forecasts say that before it is over there is a high chance of seing some snow.

 Last night did not go exactly to plan. I rushed around like a madman to get to the Catford Wetherspoons pub to meet up with Ivor and others. I just about made it on time, but felt exhausted when I got there. I was quite surprised to see no one there. After having read my newspaper, and almost finished my first pint I decided to call Ivor to see where he was. His mobile did not appear to be available so I called his work number. Iain answered and said that Ivor had gone to a parent - teachers meeting and would not be going to the pub. Apparently everybody else would make it to the pub eventually, but I didn't fancy hanging around drinking a second pint on my own. So I went home to feed Smudge (and let her out to do what was necessary). I did contemplate the possibility that I might go out again, but once I sat down I just did not want to get up again. By 6 pm no one had called and I did wonder if everyone had given up on the idea. This morning I learned that everyone did turn up except for Ivor and myself. It seems most people got there at around 6 pm which was an hour later than planned. Anyway I had some nice food and watched a good play before going to bed.

 This morning there was a good problem on way into work. Due to a points problem my train could not call at New Cross station. Instead we were routed onto the fast lines and I arrived at Waterloo East station about five minutes early. That gave me enough time to catch an earlier train from Waterloo to Wandsworth. It was  a bit of a rush but I managed to catch the 07:22 instead of my more usual 07:33. It's only eleven minutes, but it felt a fair bit earlier. What surprised me was how busy that train was. On my usual train there are frequently a few seats left for the passengers who board at Clapham Junction, three stops down the line from Waterloo. On this early train it was standing room only by the time we got to Clapham Junction station, and from there on it was jam packed ! Fortunately, in anticipation of this, I got up and stood by the doors as we pulled into Clapham Junction, and I was able to get off easily at Wandsworth Town station without having to resort to pushing and shoving.

 Tonight there is no drinking going on that I am aware of. So I will go home via Tesco and try and stock up for most of the bank holiday weekend. Then I am going to put my feet up. With no work in the morning, and in fact nothing at all happening in the morning (except for lots of cold icy rain maybe), I could stay up late tonight and see what happens on TV after the 9 pm watershed. I doubt there will be anything exciting on, there never is these days. One thing I am very tempted to do is to get in a takeaway tonight. So what should I get ? Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Pizza, fish and chips, or maybe a killer kebab ? Maybe I will find something so delicious, so enticing, in Tesco's that I will not want a takeaway. It's all a mystery that won't be solved until tonight.
Wednesday 19th March 2008
08:23 GMT

 Finally, it's a nice sunny morning. The sun is shining and the sky is almost totally blue. The sun is carrying a fair amount of heat, and during a few fleeting moments when the wind dropped it did feel quite warm. Sadly the wind is coming from the north, and it just blows away any accumulated heat from the sun with it's icy blast. If the sky can stay clear, and the sun shines down, for most of the day it could possibly defeat the wind and warm things up, but that may be a little over optimistic.

 An incident at Waterloo station, on my way into work, reminded me of a rhyming couplet from my youth.
Here I sit broken hearted,
Paid a penny and only farted.
Well, that penny is now 20p, 48 times more than the original price, but the rest of it is pretty accurate !

 Last night was a pretty dull evening. I can't recall doing anything useful at all, apart from, maybe, a little cooking. I cooked up a rather nice pasta dish with lots of tomato and olives in it, which I served with some roast white fish. I say "roast" fish, but in effect it was grilled. I just happened to do it in the oven rather than use the grill - it's easier that way because you don't have to keep a close watch on it as it cooks. Apart from eating, I suppose I divided my time between TV and the internet. I started heading for bed by 8.30 pm, but a slight detour via to run a virus scan on the front bedroom PC meant I did not actually get in bed, and turn the light out, until a few minutes past 9 pm.

 Tonight I am going boozing with Ivor and a few others. It is going to be a very early session, and I'll probably be going straight to the pub when I get off the train in Catford tonight. With an early start it should mean an early finish, and maybe I'll be home again as early as 7 pm. That would actually be quite good. After 2 or 3 beers I can go home, have my dinner, vegetate for an hour, and then go straight to bed ready to get up at, or before, 5 am tomorrow morning.
Tuesday 18th March 2008
08:18 GMT

 The forecast was for clear skies overnight, and a frosty morning. As far as I am aware the sky did not clear overnight, and it is certainly not clear this morning. There is also no frost, but it feels like it came very close to frost. It was certainly cold enough to make my fingers tingle as I stood outside Waterloo station having a fag. There are a few tiny breaks in the cloud, and for a few moments there were a few rays of sunshine while I was at Waterloo, but if I had blinked I would have missed them. Maybe the cloud will break up a bit more during the day and we could see some longer spells of sunshine, but with the wind breeze blowing from the north there is no real chance that it will get anything approaching warm today. I did catch the tail end of a weather forecast on TV last night. It said that sometime over the forthcoming Easter bank holiday weekend there will be the chance of some snow, but I didn't catch which day it was forecast for.

 I felt very edgy at work yesterday. I don't really know why that was, but it was a relief to get home again. I think I feel OK this morning, but who can tell ? Last night I did little more than watch one of the old Betamax video cassettes that I had transferred to DVD via my upstairs, front bedroom, PC. I was quite pleased how well the transfer had coped with a few bad bits of tape. There was no loss of picture/sound synchronisation even after a few flashes of blue screen where the tape signal had totally dropped out.  Apart from those few rough bits the majority of the tape was fine, although the colour signal was typically noisy and horrible as home video recordings used to be on both VHS and Betamax machines. Maybe the colour noise was slightly worse than the average, but different makes of tape all had their own characteristics. I think this one came from a Scotch branded tape, and I always used to find them a bit noisier than, say, BASF tapes. Despite the inferior video quality compared to what we are now used to from DVD, the programme was most enjoyable. It was a recording from 1985 of a charity show in aid of the Oncology Fund, and entitled "Comedians Do It On Stage".
Monday 17th March 2008
08:28 GMT

 It is dry this morning, but very overcast. Apparently it will stay this way all day, and quite possibly tomorrow too. With cloud cover like this it is almost inevitable that it will rain. I just hope that the rain is not too heavy, and it would be very preferable if it could hold off raining when I go home tonight. The temperature has dropped a lot since last night. Although there was a distinct lack of sunshine yesterday, the temperature did hold up, and last night I was actually working at a PC with the window open. This morning the temperature has dropped  to about 4° and the forecast is that it will only reach 8° C at it's highest. Tomorrow it might not even get up to that.

 I managed to do most of what I thought I might do yesterday. I did my shopping and cleared the backlog of washing up. I decided that it was just too damp to attempt to wash the kitchen floor, and I'll wait for a more suitable day before reconsidering that.

 As I suggested I would do yesterday morning, I fitted the cranky Digital (DVB-T) TV card in my upstairs front bedroom PC. It mostly worked, but it took a long time to track down some updated drivers for it. Avermedia, the maker of the card, seem to have disowned it, or at least there is no mention of it on their web site under any name, or model, that I recognise. On the strongest stations reception is good, but some channels, ones which work perfectly on my original OnDigital set top box, a first generation device, occasionally break up or stutter.

 Although off-air reception could have been useful on some odd occasions, it was the external video capture that interested me most. Using my old Sanyo VTC5000 Betamax cassette recorder I tried transferring a couple of 23 year old recordings to the PC. The results, although almost pathetic by modern digital standards, were surprisingly good. One of the recordings I burnt to a video DVD, and after watching it for a little while I concluded that it was probably no worse than we used to put up from any average VHS or Betamax recording 25 years ago. There is an advert (Divx format) for the Sanyo VTC5000 here.
Sunday 16th March 2008
07:36 GMT

 What a horrible murky morning. The sky is grey and there is a constant slow drizzle falling. It could be worse though. Very heavy rain had been forecast for this weekend, and if the forecast is as wrong as it was for yesterday then that heavy rain won't happen.

 Yesterday the forecast was for a damp drizzly morning followed by heavy rain later in the afternoon. In fact yesterday morning was fairly sunny with a warm(ish) breeze. By the afternoon we had lost the sunshine and there were spells of light rain. It was not until the evening that the rain turned from light to medium, but it still was not heavy rain, or at least not as far as I was aware of it.

 I had quite a pleasant day yesterday. After I had fed Smudge, and did some stuff on the PC, I went back to bed for an hour or so. When I got up I worked myself up into a sweat (literally) hoovering the front room , the hall, the stairs, the upper landing, and my bedroom. My new vacuum cleaner is quite hard work to use. Unlike my old upright, on this new one I have to literally scrub the carpets. It is a powerful machine drawing an amazing 1.6KW, or so it says on the outer casing, and while it is working the blast of heat out of the back is like a fan heater. I think it will be quite unpleasant to use during the warmer months. Yesterday morning was almost mild, and I had to have a good shower after doing all that hoovering.

 Just after midday I met Aleemah at the station and we went to get some food and do a little shopping. Aleemah had it in mind that she wanted to eat in an alternative cafe where they do a baked potato and vegie burger meal. I don't like that particular place so I just had a can of Diet Coke with her. Once we had eaten we went to look for a new trouser belt for me. The one I have been using since last Tuesday (or was it Wednesday ?) is fine, but it uses a sort of clamp arrangement that slip after a short while. Fearing that either it would lose so much tension that my trousers would fall down, and/or the strain on the top botton would be too much and it would break, I really did want a new belt. We called into Peacocks, on the high street, and I found three suitable belts in there, and because they were fairly cheap, I bought all three. So far I have tried one of them out and it was a great success. It only cost £4 so if it fails in a few months I won't be too sad about it. One of the belts I bought was a bit more expensive at £6. It is decorated with metal studs. I might just possibly be wearing that when I am feeling in a heavy metal music mood.

 Aleemah left at 6 pm to get the 6.15 train back to London. I walked to the station with her, and while walking there were a few bits of drizzle lasting a few seconds at a time. Once she was on her train I walked back home again. By then the drizzle had become permanent and by the time I reached home it had transformed into light to medium rain. Despite that I was only very slightly damp when I got indoors. I spent the rest of the evening just vegging out in front of the TV eating a lot of inappropriate food.

 I have several projects under consideration for today. The first is to do a backlog of washing up, and maybe tidy up the kitchen a bit. If I am feeling really enthusiastic I might even wash the kitchen floor, although I would prefer to do that on a drier day so it will dry quicker. A more enjoyable project will be to fit a digital TV card into the upstairs front bedroom PC. I have had the card for quite a few years now, but it gave problems when I first tried to use it. For watching TV it was fine, but I had trouble with the sound and picture losing synchronisation if I tried to do any recording. I believe that was because the PC was not fast enough.  The upstairs front bedroom PC has been upgraded quite a few times since then, and now maybe it will work OK.

 If that TV card does work OK I might try and transfer a couple of ancient Betamax recordings I have onto the PC using the video input on the card. The last time I checked, but that could have been 4 or 5 years ago, my Betamax video recorder was only suffering from one fault. The rewind mechanism was not working, but it did play OK. If the transfer worked OK I would not need to rewind the tape afterwards, so that would be no problem.

 My first project of the day will be to go shopping in Tesco. They don't open for another one hour and fifty minutes yet (as I type these words). So I think I will go back to bed for an hour now.
Friday 14th March 2008
08:15 GMT

  Friday the 14th: Is that one worse than Friday 13th ?

 Today has started out a bit murky. The sun has tried to shine a few times, but even when it finds a break in the clouds there is a mist just below the clouds that only allows a few diffuse rays to get through. However, it is dry, and fairly mild too.  I think it will be dry, but grey and cloudy all day today, and tomorrow will start the same way. The forecast for tomorrow suggests a fair bit of rain in the afternoon, but temperatures could get as high as 14° C.

 I saw a strange sight on my way into work. I called in at the Wandsworth BP petrol station to use their facilities, buy a few bits and to use the cash machine. When I went to use the cash machine I found that the VDU was displaying a "service mode" menu. With plain green text on a black screen it looked very much like an ancient computer screen. Had I been bold and experimented it is possible I could have persuaded it to give me a pile of cash, but maybe not. It would probably not been wise to try with all the staff around and security cameras watching, but it was certainly intriguing !

 Tonight I may, or may not, be boozing. It's too early in the day to tell, but I will make enquiries. I do fancy a couple of pints tonight, but have no wish to stay late in the pub. Ideally I would like a few strong ales at about 5.30 pm and then, maybe an hour or two later, go home to a slap up meal and vegetate in front of the TV until about 9 pm, and then go to bed.
Thursday 13th March 2008
19:33 GMT

I have had a further email from Mike. He says that the winter they are enduring in Canada is exceptionally bad. Apparently the amount of snow in the pictures below is only noteworthy for the time it has been around rather than the actual depth. It is the worst winter they have had in ages.

 Yesterday was "The Budget" where the chancellor tries his best to upset as many people as possible. I don't really understand this democracy thing. That's why I have never voted in my life. In theory, the electorate elects some people to do what the people want done, but it always seems that government does thing to me rather than for me. I wonder how many people actually wanted the government to raise the price of booze and fags ?  Well, of course there are those nazis in the health service, and maybe a few anachronistic puritans, who would ban anything that doesn't cause pain, discomfort or sadness, but they are an insignificant minority. Maybe if I could persuade half a dozen people to support me, we could equal that minority and insist the government raise the tax on rice pudding and digital watches.  I do sometimes wonder if the only difference between this government and, say, Hitler's or Stalin's government is that this government smiles when they stab you in the back.

06:48 GMT

 It's a bright and calm morning. After fairly clear skies overnight the temperature has dropped a fair bit, but if the clouds can stay broken it could end up being fairly warm this afternoon.

 I have been taken to task by my friend Mike in Canada for moaning about the wind we have had here recently. I think my moaning was entirely justified on Monday when the wind disrupted rail travel, and not only that, it was driving the cold rain into my face like it was trying to sandblast my skin away. On other days my moaning may have been less justified, but I did have two reasons. The first was that on some occasions I was quite worried about the wind blowing down my disused satelite dish and taking some of the wall with it. The second was that the wind did spoil a few potentially sunny days by dropping the temperature a lot.
Snow in Canada - spring 2008
 Mike sent me some pictures  of the weather they are enduring in Canada at the moment.

 There is a fair amount of snow there right now, and although it was cause absolute chaos here in London, I am quite jealous. It looks really pretty, and a few days of that would have brightened up the dark winter months. I'll admit that more than a few days would get a bit tedious !
More snow in Canada - spring 2008
 It is a long time since London had a really significant fall of snow, and even longer since it had and persistent snow. That is the reason it causes so much disruption when we do get a few inches - we are just unused to it. I think, and I am sure that Mike will correct me if I am wrong, that these pictures illustrate what happens every winter where Mike lives. So things like snow chains for cars, snow blowers, and maybe even snow shoes, are worth investing in. Here they would just rot unused for intervals of several years at a time.

 Last night I fitted my new DVD burner into the front bedroom PC. The model I chose, as the replacement, had "" technology built in. (Basically a technology for using the burning laser to etch text or pictures onto the photosensetive label of special disks.). I thought that I would need some special software to use this feature, and so I uninstalled Nero Burning Rom and installed the software on the disk that came with the burner. This was, amongst other stuff, Nero Essentials. Sadly it seems that Nero Essential is just an even worse interface to Nero than Nero Smart Start. It is just awful, awful, awful !!!! I quickly uninstalled it and re-installed Nero Burning Rom. Which to my relief supports Lightscribe writing anyway.
Wednesday 12th March 2008
08:19 GMT

 This morning started quite bright, and with only about 50% cloud cover. Since then the clouds have thickened and rain seems likely. It is yet another blustery morning. The wind may not be quite as bad as it was on Monday morning, but it is certainly very strong. Some forecasts say it will strengthen even more during the day. It will certainly be good to get this day over and return to weather similar to yesterday, or so the forecasters tell us. Yesterday was quite sunny, and the sunshine did convey quite a bit of heat. By late afternoon it was feeling most pleasant outside.

 Yesterday I was feeling a bit shell shocked after the events on Monday. It left me feeling not exactly sad, but sort of edgy. As a very kind email sent to me this morning said, losing Nelly will leave a void, and it's true. Smudge has been doing her best to fill that void, but yesterday I tried some "retail therapy". I ordered a new DVD burner to replace one that is starting to have difficulty burning CDs, and to a lesser extent, DVDs. That shiny new toy should arrive at work today.

 On my way home from work I did a little more "retail therapy". Well, actually it was not retail therapy at all. It was actually therapy for my trousers ! On my way home from work my belt broke. I was still able to use it by doing it up extra tight, but that was uncomfortable, and precarious to do up. I wanted to call into Tesco's to buy some diet cola, amongst other things, and thought I might find a new belt in there. They do stock belts, but all I could find was a mere three belts and all far too small for me. I did notice that they were selling some trousers that came with a matching belt, but they were mostly too small as well, or were not quite in a style that I was used to. However I did spot a pair of jeans that were my size, and amazingly, astonishingly even, they were the right leg length as well !! Unfortunately they did not come with a belt, but I did have a belt at home that would go with blue jeans. So for a mere £10 I snapped up those jeans. This morning I am wearing them, and so far they seem most comfortable. So that's one little thing that has made me happy.

 Tonight I should be fitting and testing the new DVD burner. The rest of my evening will be spent either eating or improving my relationship with Smudge (now that she is top cat). That's about all really. I will be attempting to get to bed early. I managed to get to sleep by soon after 9 pm last night, and I do seem to feel better for it despite waking up, and getting up, at 4.45 am this morning. 
Tuesday 11th March 2008
08:22 GMT

 After yesterday morning's torrential rain and wind it feels rather pleasant to come to work in mild winds and sunshine. It seems the sunshine won't last, and showers are forecast for this afternoon. Apparently the temperature is due to rise to a quite acceptable 12° C today, and tomorrow it could even get one degree higher.

 Yesterday was a sad day. It was very strange not to have Nelly around the house. I spent some time cleaning up around the area where the two cats fed, and where Nelly would usually sleep. If I want to be positive about things, I could say that the house will be a little cleaner now with only one cat dropping fur everywhere, and I will be saving a fair bit of money by buying less cat food, and only rarely having to buy cat litter. With Smudge doing all her "business" outside (except in very bad weather), I hardly need the litter tray at all, and the house will smell a bit sweeter for it. Despite those positive things, and maybe a few others, I would still prefer to have a healthy Nelly around the place.
Monday 10th March 2008
11:49 GMT

 I made an appointment to take Nelly to the vet at 9.20 am. Upon arrival she immediately provided a "sample" for the vet while we were in the waiting room. The vet examined her and the only immediate conclusion was that she was dehydrated. So I left Nelly to be sedated so that blood samples could be taken, and so she could be put on a drip to rehydrate her. The vet suggested that I phone back at 4 pm today for a progress report. By about 11 am the vet had phoned me back to say that Nelly had obliged by passing urine and that had been tested.  That was tested for glucose and it seems that Nelly was suffering from diabetes. Some other test showed that she was also hyper-thyroid. Both are treatable - up to a point, but not so easily done together and with a cat who will not co-operate with being given pills, and being injected. So I had to make a difficult choice, and the result was that Nelly was put to sleep a short while ago. It was a decision that I think the vet supported, although obviously she will lose a considerable amout of fees with no ongoing treatment.
07:27 GMT

 It's a lousy morning. The rain is lashing down, and the wind is very strong. This is as forecast, and is a complete contrast to yesterday. Apparently this storm is forecast to be the strongest of the year so far. Yesterday was bright and fairly mild. It was the calm before the storm.

 It seems that all the trains to London have been cancelled from Catford Bridge. There is no explanation on the SouthEastern trains web site, but I assume that a tree has fallen on the lone or something. One train did apparently run, and if I had persevered fighting my way through the storm I may have caught it, but I turned back when half way there because I was getting drenched. I thought I would try again for a later train, but it seems there aren't any !
 Update : In the course of writing this, the SouthEastern web page has been updated. It now says :-
" Line problem in the Catford Bridge area.
Train services between Lewisham and Hayes Kent via Catford Bridge are being disrupted due to a tree on the line in the Catford Bridge area.Short notice alterations, cancellations and delays can be expected.

Message Received: 07:06:34 10/03/2008"
 I do have a good reason to stay at home today. I want to take Nelly to the vets if I can. She has been getting very feeble lately, and last night she semi collapsed. I am not sure what was happening, but I found her laying on her side in the kitchen struggling to get up. With a little help she was able to, and although a little unsteady she was soon walking OK. Her increased feebleness lately I put down to old age. She is at a minimum 12 years old, and more likely to be in excess of 14 years old. In late 1996, when she was rescued by the Cat Protection League, she was estimated to be 2 - 3 years old, but maybe she was older than that.  This morning she seems to have recovered a bit, and has taken some food and cats milk. I fear that the vets recommendation will be to put her to sleep. If that is recommended I will accept it, but it is going to make me very pissed off for the rest of the day, and maybe more.

 Yesterday was a fairly quiet day. I spent some of it playing with my laptop. I have this irrational desire to use my little webcam on the laptop, but it does not appear to be supported by Linux. So using a spare 40GB hard drive I have installed both Windows XP and PCLiuxOS on it in dual boot configuration. That laptop is very Linux friendly. The installation went smoothly, and everything just worked first time. Of course I had to make some modifications to personalise it, but apart from that it just worked "out of the box". Windows XP was a different matter. I had to track down all the drivers, and it took quite some time before most things worked. I think the only thing that is possibly still not functional is the infra red communications port, and maybe that doesn't work with Linux either, but as it is rarely used, if at all, it is no great hardship.
Friday 7th March 2008
08:52 GMT

I spoke too soon about the weather. When I left the house it had started to rain, and the wind had picked up a bit. It is still sporadically raining now. A few showers have been quite heavy, but I managed to miss all of those, but I am still a little damp.

 It didn't really affect my journey to work, but others were not so lucky. there has been a fatality at Lewisham station this morning. As my diverted train went around the Lewisham avoiding loop (I can't remember it's official name) I could see Lewisham station in the distance and there did seem to be a lot of high visibility jackets, both orange (railway workers) and green/yellow (police and ambulance) wandering all over the tracks there as they scraped a body off the line.

06:51 GMT

 It's another very grey start to the day. Once again it is dry, and there is no sign of any frost, but it still feels very chilly. It stayed dry all day yesterday, and contrary to my expectations the sun did show itself a few times. I am not sure what the weather is going to be like today. I expect it will be similar to yesterday.

 When I got home from work last night, I set about replacing the fan in my front bedroom PC. The old fan did not seem to be that bad, and I did wonder if the replacement would make much difference. It didn't ! At about the same time, 3 am, I was awoken by the system alarm again, and once again the graph in the monitoring application showed that the fan had lost speed. It is curious that it should at about the same time in the morning on both times, and I have a hazy recollection of it happening at about the same time some time ago. It make me wonder if there there is some exotic bug that is causing it rather than a partial fan failure. I must check to see if anything is scheduled to take place at 3 am.

 About the only other thing I did last night was to watch the film "Airplane". Of course I have seen it many times before, but it still raises a laugh when you haven't seen it for a few years. It's possible that I will watch the sequel, "Airplane II", tonight.
Thursday 6th March 2008
08:14 GMT

 The day has started grey and cloudy, but this has meant that it far milder than the few previous mornings. The sky actually looks quite wintery, but I don't think it will rain today, or at least not much, and it definitely won't snow (there's a challenge for the gods !!).

 Yesterday was a lot sunnier than the forecasts suggested it might be, and at times when the wind dropped, and maybe in a naturally sheltered spot, or other sun trap, it was feeling almost warm.

 Last night I was in the pub at 6.30 pm, but I only stayed for a mere three pints. Annoyingly the pub, Wetherspoons "London And Rye" in Catford, did not have any exciting beers on. For my first two pints I drank Marston's "Pedigree", but it is not a beer I particularly enjoy, and so I had a pint of Kronenberg for my last pint. I would like to have stayed a little later but I was tired and hungry. I forgot to mention it yesterday, but I was awoken at 3 am by the PC in the front bedroom. It was reporting, very loudly, that the fan on the CPU had momentarily slowed to below the critical point. That PC definitely needs some maintenance ! Attending to the PC took a thirty minute chunk out of my sleep, and I ended up feeling very sleepy at work in the afternoon.

 It was around 8.30 pm when I left the pub, and I was quite keen to have some dinner and get to bed. The dinner I had planned needed 45 minutes in the oven. That was more than I cared to wait so I bought a pile of chicken and chips. I bought in excess of what I needed and intended to leave a piece, or two, of chicken for a snack when I get home tonight, but once I relaxed in front of the TV I seemed to end up scoffing the lot. Despite feeling I needed to get to bed, I didn't actually turn out the light until 9.30 pm. That was at least thirty minutes later than I thought would be a good idea.

 Despite eating too much,and getting to sleep so late, I somehow woke up at 4.30 am this morning. At that time it didn't seem worth trying to get back to sleep. So that was the time I got up. I think I am going to feel it later today, but for now, apart from a little stomach ache on the way into work, I do sort of feel fine.

 I think there could be an opportunity to go drinking again tonight, but I want to fix the fan on the front bedroom PC, and I want to try and get a full eight, or more, hours sleep.

 One final comment on Nigel and his blown up PC power supply. I may have been a bit overenthusiastic about saying how easy it ought to have been for him to replace the blown up power supply unit. I had missed out on one key bit of information that only really came to light when he sent me a picture of the PC via SMS on our mobile phones. His (dead) PC is made by Compaq, and I hadn't really appreciated that they still make PCs using totally non-standard components and assembly methods. I reckon I could fit a standard ATX power supply in Nigel's computer, but it would probably mean using hammers, nails, glue, sticking plaster and an oxy-acetylene torch ! (or maybe just a bit of blue-tac). We have reached a possible solution to the problem. If all goes well, Nigel will be getting an identical replacement PC, and I will eventually buy his old one from him. There are a few ifs and buts in this solution so we will just have to see how it all pans out later.
Wedesday 5th March 2008
 Today was forecast to be milder, but wetter. However there are clear skies and in my opinion it is actually colder outside than it was yesterday. I can see what could be either condensation or frost on some cars outside. So if it isn't cold enough for frost it must be very close to it. I expect that the cloud will gradually move in, and maybe the forecast westerly breeze will bring in some warm air too.

 The cloud did cover a lot of the sky after the clear start to yesterday, but there were still a few sunny spells. There were a few light showers as well, but I manged to avoid all of them. As my train drew into Waterloo station last night there was a small shower, but I think it had stopped by the time I had alighted from the train and walked across the concourse.

 I received my shiny new hi-tec toys yesterday. The new 750 GB hard disk took three hours to format. It seemed to be going so slowly that I thought I would be late leaving work, but it finished in the nick of time. I tested the two cheap webcams on my Windows machine at work and both worked well. They both seemed to be able to cope with a fairly wide range of lighting - which was a problem with the previous two.

 I had little time to test those webcams on my Linux machines at home because I had my final visit from Patricia last night. I was surprised when she turned up alone with just one suitcase of stuff for me to look after. I thought there were supposd to be several boxes, and that Andrew, her partner, would be helping her with them. So we had a pleasant hour or so together, and many hugs as she departed. I look forward to seeing her again in 2, 3, 4, 7, ??, months time.

 Out of the two webcams, only one worked on one of my Linux machines. It did work well though. My favourite one is a tiny little thing meant to clip on the screen of a laptop. It gave surprisingly good pictures when I tested it at work, but none of my three machines here that currently run Linux would even acknowledge it's existence. That is a shame because I did want to use it with my laptop (which runs Linux Mint). Later on I will have time to investigate that further, but tonight I believe I am going out for a beer or two.
Tuesday 4th March 2008
08:28 GMT

 It's another cold and bright start to the day. More cloud is forecast for later in the day, but right now the sun is dazzling. Northern Britain got it's snow yesterday, and later forecasts suggested there could have been a few light flurries over London, but I never saw any. In fact it has been totally dry. Maybe there could be a little sleet, snow or rain later today.

 It is possible I got a little carried away yesterday. I ordered my first 750 GB hard drive. It, along with two more cheap, but not as cheap as the last one, webcams, should be delivered today. Shiny new toys to play with !!

I heard from Patricia last night, and she will be bringing the stuff round that she wants stored tonight. It will probably be quite early so I had better try and get home early tonight. I think she is bringing round more stuff than she originally suggested. Sadly she will also be bringing Andrew along, her partner.

 I think I know what I have got to do next Sunday. I will probably have to travel to the far side of London to fit a new power supply in my friend Nigel's computer. Apparently it went flash and bang - literally ! I just hope that it didn't produce and destructive surges when it died. It is possible that I still may be able to coach Nigel to fit the power supply himself. After all, he once was a dab hand at installing a complete pirate radio station by himself in the long distant days before he was prosecuted for it. Fitting a new power supply ought to be childs play by comparison.
Monday 3rd March 2008
08:18 GMT

 It started getting light at 6 am this morning. The sun rose on a relatively clear sky, and the sun has been shining all the way to work. The penalty for this clear morning is that it is very chilly outside. This morning paper forecast the temperature to be 4° C, and it is only supposed to rise to a disappointing 8° C. My estimate is that it is colder than forecast, although I could be being deceived by the wind chill factor. I certainly hope that the maximum temperature will be a little better than forecast.

 There were reports in this mornings paper that areas of Britain to the north of London could have some heavy falls of snow today, but it looks as if we have been spared that. Now that the days are long enough to guarantee commuting in daylight, the next goal is for it to get warm enough to commute without the burden of wearing a coat. I fear that is some way off yet.
Sunday 2nd March 2008
19:20 GMT

Today has ben dry with a fair amount of sunshine. It is possible that there was one very short, exceedingly light, shower this afternoon, but it could have just been my imagination. It has also come close to being slightly warm. The temperature has probably been at that in between point where it is too cold to do nothing, but comfortable when you are active.

 I haven't been all that active today. I did venture out to get some shopping from Tesco's. It was mainly fruit to take to work, but it also included some heavy cat litter and cat food. I went out at 10 am and it felt just mild enough to go out without putting a coat on. I wouldn't have liked to stand around like that, but it was OK while walking. The one thing that did make it feel even cooler than it actually was, was the wind. Compared to Friday night's wind, and to a lesser extent last night's wind, the wind was quite light.

 I actually felt quite warm after lugging back my shopping from Tesco's and survived quite comfortably with the back door open for some time. It was only when I sat down to watch TV that I began to feel quite chilly. Watching TV has been my main pursuit today, but I did do a few other things. One was emptying Nelly's litter tray, and giving it a good clean up. The other was to do some PC related stuff.

 I managed to force myself to throw out six old CD rom drives, and one old motherboard. Then I took a look at an old PC power supply. I thought it was faulty, and maybe under very heavy load it will stil fail, but for a more modest load I found it was working quite well. I used it to power up an old motherboard. It was the motherboard from the PC in my bedroom before I upgraded it. Originally it came out of a computer made by Time Computers. It was working OK, but it could not recognise a faster CPU than the one that was originally in it. That CPU was an AMD K6/2-366, a 366 MHz processor. I have a spare 550 MHz processor and I wanted to use that in it. After a lot of searching I found an updated BIOS program on the internet.

 Upgrading, or "flashing" a BIOS is a dodgy business, One error can leave the motherboard not working, and with little prospect of ever getting it to work. So it was with fingers crossed that I ran the update program. Happily it all worked OK and that motherboard is now happy to work with my spare CPU. The last time I used that CPU it seemed quite nippy using Windows 98, and I am sure it will run something like Mepis Lite linux quite happily. At the moment I don't have a case to mount it in, but I do have one at work if I can ever get it home. Maybe other options will also come to light sometime.

 I had a bit of a strange mixture for dinner tonight. My first course was some baked baby potatoes in herb butter. This was a ready prepared dish that I found on the reduced price counter at Tesco. To be honest it was rubbish. I expected it to be really nice, but without some jalapeno hot sauce to perk it up a little it was fairly bland and tasteless. Even the hot suace did little for it. My second course was a Tesco ready meal of Chicken Korma and rice. It was not bad, but not that good either. I think I have now tried most of the flavours of that range of ready meals and I can only recommend two of them. They are the Goan Fish Curry and the Rogan Jhosh. Both are very tasty, but I think the fish is my favourite.

 I thought I would see Patricia this weekend. She has some stuff that she wants me to store for her. She texted on Saturday afternoon saying that she was sorting stuff out, but was too tired to bring anything over then. So I expected to hear from her today. So far I haven't, and it is now getting a little late. I shall be in bed in under an hour unless I hear from her beforehand, and that will only give her tomorrow, Tuesday, or Wednesday evenings to bring any stuff around. On Thursday she flies out to Argentina for any time up to mid December.
Saturday 1st March 2008
 It's been a nice sunny morning. The only thing that has spoiled the weather has been the strong winds. During the night the wind was exceptionally strong, and noisy enough to keep me awake at some points. The only damage the wind did that I noticed was to set one of the fence posts of my neighbours fence at a bit of an angle. I was going to offer to help fix it, but by the time I was up and dressed my neighbour had fixed the problem by himself (but before retirement he was a professional fencer so it was not that surprising).

 I have been disappointed with the results I have been getting from the new webcam I bought recently. Until this morning I had really only tried it on my Linux PCs. This morning I thought I would try it on a Windows machine using the proper supplied drivers and application. It is still rather crappy !Admittedly is was a cheap and cheerful device, but it is a branded , and in my naivety I expected it to perform better than a cheap supermarket bought one (made by - purveyors of cheap and cheerful PC accesories). In fact it is probably identical to the Trust one I had tried before. The main problem is that the automatic exposure (and white balance) is absolutely awful. I get far, far, better results using my spy-type stills camera in webcam mode. I guess that one day I will just have to buy a less cheap webcam. One piece of good news is that all the webcam, or cameras with webcam functionality, have been recognised, and automatically configured, using PCLinuxOS 2007. I have just plugged them in my USB extension cable (saves groping round the back of the PC) and an icon has sprung into life on the desktop. That is so much more sophisticated than Windows can manage !

 I have decided that I am going to throw some computer junk out today. It won't be that much because I don't want to overload the wheelie bin. There are some "historical artifacts" that I am reluctant to throw out, but do I really need things like an ancient x2 write/x4 read speed SCSI CD burner ? Probably not !

 From this month I have slightly changed the format of my dairy pages again. To make a second (or more) entries in a day slightly easier to do I have moved the time out of the main date bar. The time is now in the main text area, but I have still to decide whether to add a second entry above or below the first entry. I think it will be above so it is immediately visible upon opening the page. It is less logical that way, but more ergonomic (or something). So the latest entry, be it date or time, will always be at the top of the page.