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Diary for September 2009
September 2009
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Wednesday 30th September 2009
08:19 BST

 As I left home to come to work there was a tiny bit of light rain blowing around in the wind. It felt refreshing, but was not anywhere near enough to get me wet. So I didn't go back home for my coat, or slip on my cagoule that is now a permanent fixture in my bag. I left home before sunrise to catch the early train, and it was quite dark outside so I could not see how the sky looked. It was obvious there were no stars visible, and there was no sign of the moon (although that may not have been visible at that time anyway). One other clue to the state of the weather in general was that it was close to being warm outside. It was certainly very mild. Once the sun had risen I could see that the sky was horizon to horizon grey cloud. I think this may have been forecast, and if I recall correctly the cloud is supposed to break up during the day. There is no sign of that happening so far, but it will have to happen if tomorrow is to be a cold day as forecast.

 This morning I feel different to yesterday morning, but not neccesarily in a good way. Yesterday, at this time, my guts were growling badly, but today they are not doing that. They still feel a little tender though. Occasionally I have come over a bit hot and sweaty this morning. That is indicative that something is not right, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

 One thing that I know is responsible for part of the "not quite right" sort of feeling I have now is the result of bad sleep. I had a very poor night, and frequently woke up either needing a pee, feeling too hot, both of those, and maybe just as a way of releasing myself from the grip of some very strange dreams. In one dream I was apparently still working for British Telecom. I had to report for work at a telephone exchange I couldn't remember the name of , nor could I remember exactly where it was. I was on a train that didn't stop at the station I didn't know the name of, and I had to change trains at a station that I could almost, but not quite remember the name of. I was reasonably certain that I would recognise the names as they presented themselves, but just to complicate matters the display in the train carriage, that should have shown what stations the train should call at, didn't seem to working right. It was displaying something, but I could not make out what it said. Eventually I seemed to arrive at the right station, and as I left the station I thought I recognised the right road to go down. That lead me to Eltham telephone exchange, but that was not where I was supposed to be working. When I asked the staff in there they didn't tell me the name of the building I did need to be at, but said it was only the local branch of Tesco that seperated me from where I wanted to be. as the dream faded out I am sure someone offered to open up a bricked up doorway to allow me to walk through Tesco to save time.

 All that dreaming was fiercely complicated, and I am sure I woke up a couple of times just to ground myself back into reality (if this is indeed reality). I think it was around 3 am this morning that I woke up with my pillow soaked in sweat, and most of my duvet kicked off the bed. I don't know what I was doing in my sleep, but despite what looked like the result of a 6 round fight with the duvet, I found that Smudge was still sitting quite calmly on the edge of the bed, and was almost asleep !

 I think my only plans for tonight is to have an early night to catch up on my lost sleep from last night. If I suddenly start to feel wonderful during the day I could be tempted to have a couple of pints of beer on the way home, but I don't think I feel like that right now.
Tuesday 29th September 2009
12:50 BST

 After an unexpectedly dull day yesterday, I am pleased to report that today is pleasantly sunny and warm. Yesterday was quite reasonably warm, but it wasn't until very late in the afternoon that we got some hazy sunshine. The clouds that spoiled yesterday broke up overnight, and this morning started with thin wispy clouds streaked across the sky with bright blue between them.

 I had a pretty rotten day yesterday. I felt a bit odd during the morning, but I wasn't sure why. The only clue, and it was all too obvious as to what was wrong I with hindsight, was that I was getting a few odd gurgling sounds from my stomach. Shortly after midday I was struck down with "the runs". Over the course of the next 90 minutes it felt like I was having to go to the toilet every 5 minutes. Later on I seemed to settle down, and I presumed I must be empty, but no, half an hour before I was due to go home it started up again. It wasn't so bad the second time round, but I did fear that I might never be able to leave work. With just 15 minutes to go I thought I might take a chance and make a run for it. There were a few times when things felt rather perilous, but I made it home without any disasters happening.

 What I should have done when I got home was to eat very lightly, or even not at all. Initially I made some concessions to this idea, and did eat a small amount of fairly bland food. Later on I got hungry again and ate more substantial food. Maybe that was a mistake. In fact I am sure it was. I woke up this morning feeling like I had a jacuzzi in my belly. Happily things were not as bad as they seemed, but I was too concerned about the consequences of getting on a train like that, and I have stayed at home today. Since eating some breakfast I feel rumbly again, but I will be careful what I eat from now on. I have some bio-active yoghurt to eat, and that could be helpful, and I expect my dinner tonight will just be something like chicken soup and/or low fat rice pudding.

 One of the side effects of one (or two) the pills I am on is reported to be stomach upsets. I don't think they actually cause any stomach problems, but I am wondering if they do make things worse if something else triggers it. I can't substantiate it, but that is definitely the feeling I get.

 My time at home is not all being wasted. I have done some maintenance to my server. It seems I might have been a bit over generous when changing ownership, and permissions of some files when I transferred them between my archives and the new server. I think that is all fixed now, and I have repaired my September 2009 web page that mysteriously seemed to be corrupted. I am now concerned that other files may have been corrupted in some way. Hopefully I will eventually find them, but if I am lucky it was just the one file. As far as I can guess it had it's end chopped off during some sort of failed write operation. It was lucky I had a backup that allowed me to stitch it's tail back on.
Monday 28th September 2009
07:56 BST

 It seemed a little warmer than I expected when I woke up this morning. It took several hours to find out why. When the sun eventually rose it became obvious that it was very cloudy. That was unexpected because the forecast I saw on TV last night suggested that today would be another sunny day. Furthermore, it predicted that the weather would not seriously start to get worse until Thursday.

 Well, perhaps the cloud will disperse as the morning passes, and we will have a sunny afternoon. At least it is dry, and hopefully it will stay that way for the rest of the day. I don't mind putting on extra protection when it rains on a cool day, but this morning I was getting quite warm enough rushing about in my light summer/autumn jacket.

 It's a shame we can't turn the weather on and off like a switch. I am quite looking forward to a really heavy downpour to test my cagoule and over trousers, and I am quite looking forward to some lighter rain to test my new winter coat, but after I have tested these I would prefer the weather to return to bright sunshine and warmth. I should think that about an hours worth of torrential downpour, and a similar amount of lighter rain would be more than adequate. Of course that sort of thing does happen with summer storms, but I fear once we get some more rain it will probably be days of drizzle and gloom.

 Having written so late in the day there is nothing really to add to what I wrote yesterday. My server finished it's first full back up after I had gone to bed, and all seemed well this morning. This is the first page I have composed on the new machine, and it all seems to be working OK. One thing did surprise me was just how much get's installed when you install Xubuntu. Hidden away in sub directories are all sorts of things that seem to be there ....just in case ! There are documents and help files in multiple languages - some of which I am not sure if I have ever heard of before. Then there are all the "drivers" for different hardware. It is no surprise that Linux, or Linux of an Ubuntu flavour, supports more hardware on a fresh installation than Windows does. There are literally hundreds of support files all sitting on my hard disk !
Sunday 27th September 2009
18:34 BST

 Today hasn't been quite as warm as yesterday, and it is cooling down quite fast now the sun is setting. It has been a very sunny day, and that sun did warm up the south facing front rooms of the house, and the upstairs bedroom in particular.

 Yesterday was warm, sunny and dry, but it wasn't as good as the day before when I was out walking by the seaside. Before going out to meet Aleemah at the station I went out twice to do some shopping. The first trip was to Tesco where I stocked up on some essentials. The second was to buy some new clothes and shoes. My first port of call was to Peacocks where I found, much to my amazement, they had new stock, and all the extra large size stuff had not been instantly snapped up as seems to happen there. I bought a couple of t-shirts including one in a wonderful dark purple colour, and a new coat for the winter. I also bought a spare pair of black canvas shoes. The pair I used for my walk on Friday are already showing signs of wear, and frequent immersion in sea water seems to be taking it's toll on them too. They will probably last for quite some time yet, but one thing I have learnt about buying clothes and shoes is to strike while the iron is hot. Maybe it is because I use larger sizes, but if I wait until I actually need something I usually find that it is not available. I get the impression that mens clothes are more seasonal than womens and childrens clothes. For instance once common source for my clothing, Tesco's, has almost no menswear in at the moment. Almost half the display space is taken up with childrens clothing, and the other half seems always to have an abundance of womens wear. In a few months time I expect that mens shirts and trousers will start to replace all the childrens wear.

 After Peacocks I went into Shoe Fayre to buy some new shoes. They had huge posters up, taking most of the window space, announcing a buy one get one free offer, but only for selected items. While I was in there I didn't see any of these selected items, and I can only guess that it was summer shoes for women that had this offer as they ran down the stocks in favour of winter shoes. I bought two pairs of shoes, but I was disappointed with the range available. One pair I bought, made by Golas, I realised with hindsight were a very bad buy. I already had an identical pair, and they are very poor quality. They are of the construction where the inside of the heel soon collapses, and that makes for uncomfortable walking. The other pair I bought will also suffer this same fate, but I think they will last longer. What I should have bought was another pair of safety shoes. The pair I currently use are starting to wear out, but they remain reasonably comfortable for heavy(ish) steel toe-capped shoes. They are not the sort of shoe I would choose for long walks, but are fine for going to work in, and pretty good in bad weather.

I had a pleasant time with Aleemah, and we watched the "The Ninth Gate" together.It wasn't a bad film as supernatural thrillers go, and I enjoyed it despite it not being my favourite genre of film. After Aleemah had left, and I had another bite to eat, I sat down and finished editing the photos for my latest special web page showing pictures and a description of my day out walking between West Worthing and Lancing, and you can see it HERE.

 Today I have had a very lazy sort of day. I did go out, but as it was only to the corner shop it hardly counts as going out. One achievement was to do more tidying up of my new server. It is now live, and on the air serving this web page, but there is still more to be done on it. One reason for not doing more to it today is that it is taking an absolute age to run a backup on it. I am making a complete copy of the main hard drive over on to the second hard drive. That is a lot of data to transfer, and I would have thought that between two SATA hard disks it would have been quicker. I knew this first instance of running grsync (Linux backup software with a graphical user interface) would be slow, but not this slow. However it is getting there, and future runs will be a lot faster.
Saturday 26th September 2009
10:18 BST

 Once again it is a rather splendid morning. The sky only has a few thin streaky clouds in it, and it is beginning to warm up after a cold night. As far as I know, today, and tomorrow, are both set to be fine sunny days. Whether they are as good as yesterday remains to be seen.

 Yesterday was fabulous. The weather would have been considered good if it had been in the middle of July, but for this late in September it was incredible. I am not sure how high the temperature rose, but it was most definitely shorts and t-shirt weather. I am very glad that I finally decided to go out yesterday.

 I set out at 9.30 am, and intended to take the train to Elmers End where I would catch the tram to East Croydon. The first train was actually destined for Beckenham Junction, and didn't go to Elmers End. That was no problem because Beckenham Junction also has a tram stop, and it provided a bit of novelty. There is, as far as I am aware, only one train a day from Catford Bridge to Beckenham Junction, and I got it.

 At East Croydon I bought a return ticket to West Worthing for 17.60, and had just enough time to smoke of a fag before having to run to catch my train. It took just over an hour to reach West Worthing, and then there was a 0.8 mile walk to the beach. I will be making up a special web page about my day out, but I just want to share a couple of pictures here.
What's going on - Worthing Beach
This is a view looking up the beach towards the buildings along the coast road, but whats that happening almost in the centre of the picture ? Let's take a close up.....
Close up on beach activity
Is what I think going on actually going on ??

 That's all I can write for now. In a few minutes I am off to the station to meet Aleemah. Hopefully I'll make up the entire picture page of my day out yesterday sometime later this evening.
Friday 25th September 2009
07:18 BST

 It's a rather splendid morning ! The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and there is hardly any breeze. Those are the exact same words I used yesterday, and like yesterday it is another chilly morning. Unlike yesterday I haven't actually been outside to experience the chilliness because I am on holiday from work today. My impression so far is that it is even chillier than yesterday. In another couple of hours, once the sun has climbed higher in the sky, it will begin to warm up, but maybe not as high as yesterday.

 At this time of year we are loosing too much heat to the cold night sky for the days to get very warm. This is particularly so right now after we have had a couple of clear nights. The universe just sucks the heat away from the Earth (what a mean bastard !). London will struggle to reach 20 C, and if I get to the south coast today the best I can hope for is 18 C. However, walking along the south coast means that the sun will be unobstructed, and if the day is as cloudless as forecast, the sun should feel delightfully warm.

 At this time I am still unsure if I am going out today. I feel a bit creaky right now, and my right leg seems to be particularly stiff. I'm also feeling like I want to go back to bed, and this could actually be a good idea. Although I normally try and get out as early as possible, it would probably do no harm to let the day warm up a bit before venturing out. On a more positive note, I did manage to curb my enthusiasm for eating last night, and I don't feel too bloated and uncomfortable to go on a long walk today. At least I think I am OK for that.

 If I do get out today, this is the route I propose to walk (except that I will use the beach and not the road) :-
Thursday 24th September 2009
08:44 BST

 It's a rather splendid morning ! The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and there is hardly any breeze. It was quite chilly when I left home to come to work, but the day seems to be warming up already. The sunshine is forecast to continue for most of the day, and the temperature should end up at about 20 C (also heard as 70 F on the radio this morning). Yesterday was pretty good too, although at lunchtime the sky was almost all cloud, and while standing out in the park the breeze did feel a little too cool for comfort.

 Tomorrow should be even better than today, although it seems unlikely that today, if it is as good as forecast, could be improved upon at this time of year. Perhaps the main improvement is that the south coast will be as good as London. That will be good because that's where I will probably be tomorrow. Taking a chance on the long term forecast a few days ago, I booked a days holiday tomorrow, and I think I will be going for a long walk by the sea again. I haven't made a firm decision yet, but I still want to do the walk from West Worthing along to Lancing (or one of the earlier railway stations if I feel too knackered).

 I suspect that my walk tomorrow may not be as satisfactory as I might hope. There are some minor reasons for this, and one major one. The minor reasons are that I may feel it is too cool to venture out in my walking shorts. This may be particularly so early in the morning. With no shorts on it won't be easy doing any significant paddling in the sea, but then again the sea may be getting too cold for me to consider that anyway. The big reason is that I have not done enough to prepare myself for effort free walking. Last night I ate some stuff that I should not have. My main meal was supposed to be just vegetables in a thick gravy, but one of the vegetable, probably the bean shoots, seemed to have a slight mouldy taste. It was not pleasant to eat (although not terrible). In the end I poured off the hot gravy, that still seemed to taste OK, and poured it onto a can of black eyed beans (along with some chilli sauce). Had I left it there I would have been fine, but I also ate some peanut brittle that is half pure sugar, and some Cheddars, which are pretty greasy. All that lot was an improvement on previous days, and tonight I will attempt to do better, but whether it will be sufficient for efficient walking remains to be seen (and I have to try and remember that most of this is all just head games).

 Apart from eating, I did manage one other thing last night. I copied all the configuration files from my old server to my new server, and it now serves web pages, and other stuff that the old server did. There are still more work to be done to my new server, but it is mostly just tidying up. It is possible that I might switch servers again tonight, and the one serving this web page will revert back to being my emergency standby server.
Wednesday 23rd September 2009
08:28 BST

 It almost feels warm outside this morning. There has even been some some sunshine, but the sky seems far cloudier now, and although I think it will remain dry, today will probably be quite cloudy. Yesterday had a fair bit of sunshine, and the afternoon was pleasantly warm when the wind dropped. The wind was not that strong. In fact it was no more than a good breeze, but it was enough to take the edge off the temperature, or how the body percieved it. There seems to be less breeze today, and although the forecast temperature is one degree less than yesterday, but still around the 20 C mark, it may feel a tiny bit warmer.

 It seems that the skies will be clear tonight, and that we will wake up to a very cold morning. That's a bit unwelcome, but it is inevitable as we head on into autumn. Friday looks to be interesting. The weather forecast I saw last night is predicting that the temperature will have dropped to a mere 18 C, but the skies will be blue, and the sun should shine all day. I think I am going to see if I can get Friday off work, and try and go for a long walk somewhere.

 The idea of a long walk is a good one - in theory. I need a bit of exercise. I have been eating so much crap lately that a good bit of walking would shake some of the cobwebs out (of which there are far too many of at this time of year - Thank you spiders - NOT !). Last night I got my shopping in Tesco after work, and I managed to buy lots of lovely, healthy, vegetables. I also bought some crap, delicious crap, but still crap, and fortunately not a great deal of it. Tonight, in theory, I should eat almost healthily. It won't be 100% healthy because I am quite looking forward to some Italian crackers and sandwich filler (that I use as a dip).

 By restraining myself from not going too mad with the bad food last night, I don't feel too bad this morning. I keep thinking that I feel almost good, but that can't be right. What is undisputable is that I had a really good clear out this morning. That's not a good clear out as doing housework and throwing unneccesary stuff away, but the sort of good clear out that happens when you are in the bathroom. This is, of course, an almost polite way of saying that my arse exploded this morning. Happily it did not continue to explode, and I had close to a comfortable journey into work. I expect the deluge of fibrous vegetable I intend to consume tonight may well induce similar effects once they have been processed.

 One other thing, and maybe the only thing, that makes me feel reasonably good this  morning is that inadverently I seemed to get a very good nights sleep. I went to bed earlier than I thought I would, and I didn't bother to do any reading. I think I was actually in bed by 8 pm, and I can remember lying there thinking I feel a bit too warm to cover myself up. The next thing I remember is being woken up by Smudge leaping around the bed at sometime after 10 pm. I got up briefly and let her out into the garden, and I can hardly remember even getting back into bed. The next thing I remember is being woken up by my alarm. That is something that is very rare. I usually wake up 30 - 40 minutes before my alarm is set to go off at 5 am.

 Despite my early night I was able to do some computer stuff last night. I hooked up one of the big hard disks from my old server, and using the incantation " mount -t /dev/sdc1 /home/bill/sdc1" I was able to start copying all the files from it to the new, and double the size, hard disk is the new server. It took a little time to run. I just left it to get on with it and went to bed. It was reporting that it would complete in about 4 hours when I left it. That seems like a long time, but it was over half a Terabyte of data I was transferring !

 One bit of good (technology) news is that the HP inkjet printer I mentioned last Friday is almost alive. It has taken a long while for the ink I refilled the cartridges with to dissolve the dried crud from the inkjets, and it is still not finished yet, but it has gone from printing blank sheets of paper to printing recognisable colour photos. OK, the colours are not quite right, and are still quite streaky, but it is getting better day by day. I could at this point declare that the printer works, buy brand new ink cartridges, and I would have a perfect printer, but I have a lot of refill ink to use up first. So for now I will use it as it is (and waste loads of paper !).
Tuesday 22nd September 2009
09:18 BST

 It is the wind that determines the weather in London, and particularly so at this time of the year. The sun, when it is able to shine, does not shine bright enough, nor for long enough, to really bring much warmth. So we rely on "borrowing" heat from the south, or get frozen from the north, with the wind providing the transport. I don't know the exact direction the wind is coming from, but it has brought with it some warm(ish) air. Yesterday was very pleasantly warm and sunny, but today maybe a little cooler, and a bit more cloudy, but I think it is set to be dry. My morning paper suggests that the temperature in London will still be somewhere around 20 C, but their forecasts are so vague that you could easily add +/- 50 C to that !

 When I left work yesterday I had originally planned to go home via Tesco. As well as food there was some other stuff I needed, but I never did get a chance to go shopping. Instead I diverted into The Catford Ram to meet Iain for a couple of pints. As part of this new plan of action I originally thought I might still have time to get some shopping, but I got a confirmation from Patricia that she was coming to collect her mum's new netbook, and to get home in time to meet her I had to drink my second pint a little quicker than I would have normally, and rush straight home.

 Patricia was very pleased with what I had done to the netbook, and most impressed when Avast anti-virus announced that it had updated it's virus database in Spanish (using actual voice as well as the onscreen message). After a couple of pints I was feeling really rather good, and seeing Patricia made me feel even better. I was feeling so good that I instigated a bold idea that could potentially have a good outcome. It was received better than I expected, and in the future it could mean seeing a bit more of Patricia for some shared exercises (walking or swimming etc.).

 Patricia didn't stay long, but even though it was still relatively early, I didn't feel like going out again to get my shopping. I'll have to do that tonight instead. One problem with not going out again last night was that I had very little healthy (as in low fat and/or low sugar) food available to me. I ate atrociously last night, and yet it has affected me in a way that I didn't expect. I expected to feel tired and sluggish this mrning, but in fact I seemed to have quite a lot of energy provided I used it in short bursts. For more extended periods of exercise, such as walking from the station to work, I did feel the stress building up towards the end. One thing I didn't expect to feel was more than usual discomfort from my guts. It was bad enough that I even elected to get off the train at the "busiest station in the world", Clapham Junction, to use the "worst station toilets in the world" ! One more side effect of what I ate last night, at least I can offer no other explanation for it, is that I can no longer type this morning. The backspace key on my work computer keyboard has probably gone through it's entire predicted life cycle twice so far this morning. Every word I try to type seems to come out wrong. Normally it is only one word in five :-)
Monday 21st September 2009
08:20 BST

 As the sun rose this morning all the thin and sparse clouds turned a rosy pink colour. That suggests that we are heading for bad weather again. Yet the weather forecast suggests today will be reasonably OK. Some sun is forecast, and the temperature will be a fairly respectable 20 C.

 Saturday turned out to be a fine day, but terrible evening. The day was warm and fairly sunny, but come the evening and the rain crashed down. It would have been ideal to test my wet weather gear, but it was late, and I didn't fancy getting dressed up just for a brief walk in the storm. Yesterday was not so sunny as Saturday, but it was warm and dry.

 I had to wait until after 5 pm before Patricia brought her mum's new netbook over for software installation. The netbook turned out to be a Dell Inspiron Mini 10 that was originally supplied with Ubuntu Linux on it. Patrifia wanted Windows XP on it, and therein lay a problem. Looking on Dell's website for support software was not easy. There are two Mini 10s listed, and each is slightly different, and neither was the same in all details as Patricia's Linux powered model. It too a very long time, but eventually I succeded in getting every last bit of hardware working on the netbook.

 At about 7 pm I sent Patricia home because installing stuff on the netbook was looking as if it would take all night. Luckily for Patricia she got home before the rain started. She had not brought even a coat with her, and she would have got thoroughly soaked if she had left any later. Meanwhile I battled on with the netbook. I wasted a lot of time trying to get the wireless card working before I realised that it would not connect to my wireless network because it's MAC address was not registered on my wireless point. With that sorted out the next major thing was the inbuilt webcam. None of the Dell software would install, and it was after midnight when I gave up in despair.

 Getting to bed after midnight is double incredibly late for me these days, and I should have slept like a log, but I didn't ! For some peculiar reason I woke up at about 4 am, after just over three hours sleep, and I could not get back to sleep again. It was still dark outside, but it did not feel that cold. So I went for a very short walk in the park at just before 5 am. It was sort of nice and peaceful in there, but I hadn't got that far before an urge to go for my first crap of the morning overtook me, and I headed back to home after only being outside for 15 - 20 minutes. Once indoors, (and comfortable again) I took a hot shower with the intention of going back to bed again afterwards, but of course I was now too hot and sweaty to get comfortable. I think I eventually got back to sleep again by, or soon, after, 7 am. I only slept for maybe an hour, but I lay in bed reading for another hour.

 Finally I got up, dressed and when back to tackle the netbook. With all the problems I had with hardware support for the netbook I finally did what I should have done in the first place. I installed Xubuntu 9.04, which of course just worked straight out of the box, and checked to see what hardware it had found. Then I did a fresh installation of Windows XP, and in 6 times as long as it took to install Xubuntu I eventually had everything working on the netbook including Avast anti vurus, Open Office, Firefox, and VLC media player. Patricia will probably be picking the netbook up tonight, and I just hope that in the next 4 days, before she flies out to Argentina to present the netbook to her mum , she doesn't manage to break it !

 I did so much sitting or laying around over the weekend that I feel pretty awful today. It is not helped by an excess of munching as I sat bored stiff waiting for Windows to do stuff. I ate all sorts of crap over the weekend, and I probably put on pounds ! One thing I did manage to do was to get a proper sleep last night. That's helped a bit, but it wasn't enough to make up for the lack of sleep on Saturday night, and I can't remember if I managed a reasonable amount of sleep on Friday night. What I can remember is starting to doze off on the train coming to work this morning. That's not good, and I'll probably be dozing in front of my monitor here at work today too.
Saturday 19th September 2009
06:38 BST

As the sun did it's best to rise, the sky turned a delicate shade of pink. The pink has faded away now, and the sky is looking a misty grey colour. It is now officially daylight, but it will be a little while yet before the sun rises high enough to actually shine here if there are no clouds in the way. The weather seems to be changing fast enough that each forecast seems to contradict the previous one. First today was going to be warm with sunny spells, but later forecasts suggest an overcast day with the possibility of some showers. I am sure one forecast I saw on TV that I ought to have paid more attention to, suggested there could be some very heavy rain later in the day, but it is possible that was referring to tomorrow.

 Yesterday was an unexpectedly nice day. The day started off bright, and from then on things got better. There was a lot of sunshine, and often the sky was pure blue like a good summers day. The day actually ended up feeling nice and warm. It wasn't hot, but it was certainly so warm that I had to stuff my coat into my already well stuffed back pack, and I had the pleasure to come home in my shirtsleeves after work.

 I seemed to spend quite a lot of time playing with my new Sony Vaio laptop at work yesterday. I managed to repair the ethernet socket, and that made installing/updating software a whole lot easier. Although it seemed to work quite well with Linux Mint 7 installed, it did seem a bit sluggish from time to time. That changed when I got it home. It was while I had it open at work that I noticed that the memory fitted was not DDR memory as I thought it would probably have, but PC133 memory, and I have a few spare sticks of that here at home. Once I fitted a second 256 MB stick of memory the performance improved considerably. I found that it would play a DVD smoothly as an example- something I was told it was unable to do previously. One minor niggle is that the USB ports are only USB 1.1 as I found out when I tried plugging in my DVB (Freeview) USB TV receiver stick. Happily I have a twin USB 2 PCMCIA card, and plugging that in, and plugging the TV stick into that, gave me perfect TV reception.

 I think I rather like my new laptop. It is a handy intermediate size between my small netbook, and my larger Acer laptop. It is possible that now it has the extra memory fitted it is actually the more powerful machine. The one thing that lets it down now is the battery. I was warned that replacement Sony batteries tend to be more expensive than for other brands, and this does appear to be so. I dread to think what the price of a genuine Sony replacement battery would be, but I did find some non-genuine ones for 42, and even a slightly higher power one for about 45. I am tempted, very tempted ! (But maybe not this month).

 I had less luck with my other new toy - the HP 3650 inkjet printer. I re-filled the ink cartridges, and even managed to reset the ink levels in them by fooling the internal memory chip in the cartridge, but still it will not print. I am confident that it can print, and that the problem is that the jets on the cartridges are just blocked by dry ink. I suspect that it's previous owner had just left it drying out for months and months before throwing it away. I am now pinning my hopes on the new ink slowly seeping through over the weekend, and that when I go into work on Monday there will be some sign of life from the print heads.Once it starts running I will waste a load of ink printing out large block of colour over and over again until it flows freely. Then I will top up the cartridges and bring it home. Alternatively, if there is no sign of life at all, I will return it to the skip where it came from,

 I took delivery of my new storm proof over trousers yesterday. The website I ordered them from didn't actualy specify just what the various sizes availble were in terms of any meaningful measurement, or at least I can't recall noticing any mention of inches, or centimeters. So I ordered the largest size. It is rather a novel experience for me to get clothing that is actually too big, but that is what I got. In this case it was bigger than I really needed, but not too big to be useless. When I got home I tried them on, and while they are a bit baggy, the elasticated waitband has sufficient elasticity that they grip my waist just fine. Perhaps as that elastic stretches with age they might become a little too loose, and that would indeed be a novelty for me. Now I just need some torrential rain to give them a proper test. Some weather forecasts suggest I may not have long to wait for that. I am quite looking forward to going out for a walk in the park as the rain beats down, and I stay perfectly dry. It was good when my top half stayed dry during the downpour we had mid week, but having dry trousers too will make for a novelty that I am looking forward to experiencing.

 Although I hope to go out for a short walk in the pouring rain this weekend, I don't think I will be going on any long walks exploring the coast or countryside (which is what all this wet weather gear is principly for). Sometime over the weekend Patricia should be bringing over her mum's new netbook for me to install Windows on using Spanish as the main language. The problem is that Patricia seems not to want to commit herself to any particular day, let alone time. So my sense of duty suggests I ought to keep myself available the whole weekend. If she does come today I could possibly go out exploring tomorrow, but I'll decide on that closer to the time.

 There is plenty of other stuff I could do this weekend without going out. I have my mk3 server to build as well as as much housework as I can stomach, and there is also the garden to do. About the only definite things I will do is to do some laundry, and go back to bed and see if I can sleep for a little more. The sleep, if it comes, will happen before the laundry, and I think I'll be attempting it within the next 10 minutes !
Friday 18th September 2009
08:27 BST

Yesterday I wrote that the clouds were broken, and this morning I can happily write that the clouds are now very thin and sparse. So far this morning it is looking like the start of a very nice day. I think that my morning paper even sort of agrees with that, although since "The Metro" stopped doing their specific London forecast it is very vague as to what will happen in any particular area. Yesterday saw a fair bit of sunshine, but there were also times when it grew quite dull outside.

 There were many things I could have done last night, and they included going out for a drink locally or in more distant places. I could also have done some work towards getting my new server box built (or the old one patched together again), or I could have spent an age trying to do some programming (or scripting). In fact I did none of these except for a few minutes spent looking at a script I had written earlier (and mucking it up). What I did do was get some shopping on the way home from work, and amongst that shopping was the latest New Scientist. I was in bed reading New Scientist at 8 pm, and half an hour later I think I was fast asleep.

 Tonight has many variable like last night. There is a chance that Patricia may bring her mum's new netbook over for me to install software (in Spanish !) on it, and if that is the case that will take priority over other choices. Failing that I might stop off for a couple (but no more) pints on the way home from work (preferably in Catford). At home I may, or may not, get to work on the new server project, but I may also bring home a couple of new toys and play with them.

 The first new toy is a HP inkjet printer I found by the dump. It works OK mechanically, but it has no ink in it. Last night I bought a couple of inkjet refill packs from Tesco (one colour, the other black ink), and I have brought them into work to fill the cartridges here. If the printer starts to print I will then take it home, and if the printing looks to be quite reasonable I might even consider buying some proper HP cartridges. My experience with slightly older, and perhaps more officed based HP colour inkjet printers is that they produce prints that are closer to be photographic when using non photo paper compared to me Epson printer. Whether this rather small, and lightweight, home printer can manage that remains to be seen.

 The second toy to play with is a new laptop. Yesterday I was given an old Sony Vaio laptop that basically worked, but had a useless battery (about 4 minutes capacity !), and a broken ethernet port. Before I left work yesterday I had already installed Linux Mint 7 on it, and it worked very well. As I sit here typing it is doing an update of the software - 229 new software updates all installed at a click of a button, and no restart required ! I have connected to the internet via a PCMCIA Linksys wireless ethernet adaptor that I brought into work today. In fact I brought two in because I couldn't remember which one was more Linux friendly. Oddly enough it wasn't the one I expected. Once all the updates are installed I will install some of my favourite applications - mainly media players, but a few others as well. Later today, if I have the time or patience, I may attempt to open it up and try to repair, or replace the broken ethernet connector. It will be far easier to do that here where I have all the right tools for subminiature electronic repair. Assuming I have done that, and that I have managed to get the thing put together again, I may take it home, but with everything I hope to do to it while at work there will be little left to play with when I get home except inputting the password for my home wireless internet.

 The final thing that I could do for this new laptop is to try and source a cheap battery for it. I have been warned that batteries for Sony laptops are scarily expensive, and that was the main reason it was given to me. Maybe a bit of internet searching will reveal something seriously under 60, and maybe I just live in hope !
Thursday 17th September 2009
08:12 BST

 The clouds are very broken this morning, and that means we should see some sunny spells today. Unfortunately the temperature is only expected to rise to something like 18 - 19 C, and that makes for a rather cool day. In some ways, today will be similar to yesterday, but a little cooler, and less breezy. I can only describe yesterday as comfortable, but bland. There were some sunny spells, and it stayed dry. That's about all you can say about yesterday.

 As the seasons move on pace of change seems to be speeding up. The nights are getting a lot colder. This morning I thought it would make for a more comfortable shower if I closed the bathroom window. It has been secured open since late spring (or thereabouts), but when I woke up to use the toilet at 2 am this morning it felt freezing in there ! The other change that is becoming more and more significant is the length of the day. Had I been ready to go out a few minutes earlier this morning I would have gone out to get the train to work before official sunrise. The gloomy, soul destroying, days of commuting in darkness are getting nearer and nearer now.

 I took the plunge yesterday and ordered some PVC over trousers for more complete protection if I go out walking on a rainy day. Wearing all this PVC will probably either change me, or I'll get branded, as some sort of PVC sexual fetishist, but maybe that's better than getting soaking wet trousers :-) The order may be delivered any time in the next few days, and then I will see if they fit, and what it's like to wear them. Assuming they are OK I will probably first use them for something like a deliberate walk in pouring rain in my local park. However, the ones I ordered, like my cagoule, are designed to be packed away in a corner of a back pack (or maybe a car boot) for emergency use. So it is possible their first use might actually be when I am caught in some sort of downpour that I had not anticipated (or had hoped to dodge).

 I didn't raise the enthusiasm to start building my new high power, high capacity server last night, but it is something I really must do soon. I think my standby server should be reliable, or at least I cannot think of any known weak point in it, but realistically I have to acknowledge that it could fail at any time, and I will need to switch back to the main server as a soon as possible. So the quicker I can get the main server operational, the happier I'll be. One distraction to doing the hardware work is that I am also thinking of software work as well. I think I have a project in mind that will stretch my programming abilities. It won't be 10,000 line of C code, but probably about 5 lines of bash code. Even so it will break new ground for me as I experiment with using the bash command "sed" - or stream editor. The object of this is to dynamically change a very small part of a web page automatically. I'll say no more for now so that if it all goes horribly wrong we can all quietly forget about it...............
Wednesday 16th September 2009
08:02 BST

 The weather really doesn't know what it wants to do right now. I guess that up in the clouds there is a very strong wind. One minute you look up and see a clear blue sky, and the next minute you see thick clouds. Those periods when the sky has been mostly clear has already allowed the sun to shine as I came into work this morning. I believe that the forecast for today is for a mostly dry day with some sunshine. That seems quite reasonable to me, and I hope that there is more than just "some" sunshine. It is cooler again this morning, and a bit of sunshine would just take the edge off the coolness.

 Yesterday was rather different from almost anytime in the last week or two, and hopefully very different to how today turns out. After the grey start it rained, and it rained very heavily around lunchtime ! Happily the rain had finished by the time I left work to go home, but it was still rather a dull overcast journey. The rain did have some positive aspects. Well, at least one positive aspect. I got to try out my cagoule for the first time.

 Until yesterday I had put it on at home for ten minutes to see if it fitted, and how comfortable it was to wear, but I had never tried it in the rain. I got my first chance when I went outside for a fag at 11 am. It worked, and worked well. It also worked well again for my next fag break. Such was the novelty of being out in the rain, and yet staying dry, that I went out for a 15 minute walk around the park during my lunch break. I am not sure that I have ever worn anything in living memory that has kept me dry from the top of my head down to my waist (excepting some of my face, and my hands). I have had coats that have been semi waterproof, and some I have even been big enough that I was able to do up the front, but nothing was as good as the cagoule. I still think I probably look like a total wally wearing it, particularly with the hood up,  but  I don't think I care about that now.

 I mentioned that the cagoule kept me dry down to my waist, but below there was another story. During my walk through the park the rain was really belting down, and inevitably my jeans got pretty wet. Maybe saturated would be a better word for how they were below the knee ! Perhaps I now need some waterproof over trousers as used by cyclists etc. With a pair of them I think I would be equipped to go out walking in the wettest of wet weather, and that could be good, or at least it would have some novelty value. Despite my jeans getting wet I rather enjoyed the novelty value of walking through the park in pouring rain. What I can't work out is whether it was just the novelty, or whether it might have been nice in other ways.

 If I were to get waterproof over trousers so I could go out for long walks in bad weather there would still be one other problem to overcome. Some of it was run off from the sleeves of the cagoule, and some of it was direct rain, but my hands were dripping with water after a short while. It was slightly unpleasant, and in colder weather it would have been uncomfortable, and particularly so in a strong wind. However the worst thing about it was that I kept getting my fags soggy. The funny thing is that I can't remember how I normally cope with smoking a fag when it's raining, but somehow I usually manage it with no problems. This is obviously something that will need to be worked on if I am going to make a habit of walking in the rain.

 I took the lid off my server last night, and now I know what's in there, and quite probably why it failed. The main operating system was installed on an old 10 GB Fujitsu hard disk. It was one of a bunch of identical hard disks that I was very generously given to experiment with while I was out of work and penniless. They were already probably close to the end of their life when given to me, and over the last 3 - 4 years I found that many of them started to suffer from bad sectors. It seems the one in my server was just the latest one to start to crumble away. It is possible that it's demise could have been hastened by a loose memory model. I am not sure if one of the memory sticks was loose, or whether I disturbed it while delving through the tangle of wires to get to the memory sockets. I think the latter is more likely. There is some bad news about the memory on that motherboard. I tried fitting a brand new 512 MB memory stick, but the bios would only see the first 128 MB of it. It seems the maximum memory allowed in each socket is only 128 MB, and with only two sockets it will never have more than 256 MB available. It runs reasonably OK with that, but I think I would like more.

 I am considering whether to rebuild that server as it is, or whether to build a new box with more memory and a faster processor. I have such a box available. It has 1 GB of ram in it (or could have) and a rather warm running Athlon processor. (All Athlon processors seem to need a lot of power, and hence run rather hot). It is that hot running Athlon processor that puts me off using as a server that has to run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but I think I might have a Duron processor that runs a bit cooler somewhere. If that is the case then my new plan is to build the main server from scratch rather than repair the old one (though it will probably get repaired as the new standby one day). A faster processor, and more memory will speed some things up a bit, but maybe more usefully allow No Machine NX to run more efficiently, for instance.

 No Machine NX is a remote desktop system like Citrix's "Go To My PC" that seems to be advertised in many of the morning newspapers recently. One significant difference is that Go To My PC is only free for 30 days, and comes with who knows what strings attached. No Machine NX, at least for the Linux version, is 100% free (although there could be non-free versions with extra bells and whistles). I had No Machine NX running on the (now broken) server, and apart from being rather slow, it worked, and was almost useful. The speed is heavily influenced by the speed of the network, but I think the biggest bottleneck in my case was the low end PC I was using as the server. With a faster PC it may become even more usable - should I actually want to use it ! Perhaps it could be useful in some situations, but for day to day work on my servers I am finding that I am doing more and more on the command line.

 Yesterday was a good example of my increasing prowess at the Linux command line. While here at work I remotely logged into my standby server, and installed, and configured one of the web site statistics programmes that I had mainly abandoned when I found a better one. I think I installed it just because I could rather than needing to. To my relief it all worked perfectly, although there are a couple of tweaks I could do to change the report layout a bit, but they are hardly neccesary. There is some command line stuff that still baffles me, and I have to resort to cut and pasting bits from "howto" web sites, but mostly I still find that the most difficult thing is actually knowing that something you can do, or want to do, actually exists. Until Google allows you to search for something that you have no name for, and don't know it's function, then there will be big gaps in my knowledge, but slowly these gaps are getting filled in by knowledge from friends or magazines. (Thanks Steve for providing more knowledge than probably any other source).
Tuesday 15th September 2009
08:28 BST

 It's doing it's best to rain this morning. The sky is a mottled in dreary shades of grey, and the chances of seeing the sun today seem very slim. All the overnight cloud has made is slightly milder than it has been for the last few mornings, and when the breeze gets very light it almost feels warm, but above a certain strength it feels cool again. I have seen evidence of some earlier rain, and when I left the station at Earlsfield I thought I even felt a few small spots hit my face. I didn't wear a coat this morning, but I have got my cagoule in my bag. Maybe today will be the first ever day that I get to wear it, and when it finally gets christened.

 After the rather dull start to yesterday morning the sun did come out. It was a most pleasant surprise, and one that I was convinced would not happen. I guess it was getting on towards midday when the first long spell of sunshine occured, and from then on it was a beautiful afternoon until it was time for me to leave work. At 4 pm the clouds gradually gathered, and there was even a brief spell of very fine misty rain when I got to Waterloo station. That was the only rain I was aware of yesterday, and it was so insignificant that I doubt I would have even been aware of it if I was facing the opposite direction. In fact when I was facing straight into the wind the rain did not seem to even spot my glasses. Maybe I just imagined that my face could feel a very slight dampness.

 Last night I did some technology stuff. One thing that was really bugging me was why my web server statistics program kept claiming it could not read the web server log file. The file, and the directory it was in, both had read permissions for the whole wide world, and yet the log file could still not be read. Even as an unprivileged user I could read the file from the command line (I think), but I did notice that I could not open the apache2 directory from an ftp program. I mentioned this to one of my workmates who is reasonably well versed in Linux operation, and he suggested that the apache2 directory should be made executable. That sounded pretty bizzare, but it did have some logic to it. With all the other permissions set there was nothing else to change but the executable bit. So when I got home I tried it, and lo and behold it worked. So that's another new thing I have learned, and having learned it the hard way I hope I can remember it.

 The other bit of techno play I did last night was with a D-Link DI-624 wireless router. I found it in a skip in suspiciously good, almost new, condition. I think I know why it was thrown out - it is a total pig to set up and use. The first major problem was that it would frequently lock up, and this would almost always happen after a restart. I did a firmware upgrade, and that did get it to the point when I could start to configure it, but it still seemed very tetchy. It was possibly the way I had configured it, but even when it appeared to work it seemed to have some random idea about where it would send packets of data. I am wondering if it is one of those boxes that can be reprogrammed with non-manufacturers software. I know there is an open source project which does this sort of thing, but I can't recall it's name off the top of my head. If I can find the project, and my wireless router is supported, it would be an ideal toy to experiment with. If it breaks, it breaks. The box cost me nothing, and seems pretty useless now. So easy come, easy go !

 Tonight I may make the first "forensic" examination of my main (and now dead) server. I am expecting a delivery today of an insanely expensive bunch of stuff to repair my server. The main thing is a new power supply, but I have also ordered a bit more memory for it - if it will take it. I seem to recall that the motheboard is really fussy about the type and size of memory. It is possible that the mere 256 MB already installed is the maximum it will take.

 The thing which pushed the cost of my order up to insane levels is that I also ordered two 1.5 Terabyte hard disks to upgrade the current 750 Gigabytes ones currently in it. One drive is a back-up for the other, and somehow I seemed to have accumulated such a load a junk on those drives that they were within about 20 Gb of being full. I think 1.5 Terabytes should keep me going for a bit.

 If I do get the server up on the bench (as it were) the first thing I will do is hang the new power supply on it, and boot it up from a live Linux CD to have another look at whats going on with the operating system hard disk. Maybe I can even run fsck to do a disk check and repair if I can remember how. 
Monday 14th September 2009
08:05 BST

 The sun has done it's very best to shine this morning, and for the odd few seconds it has succeded, but mostly it has been defeated by the amount of cloud in the sky. This is what the weather forecasters predicted, but we don't seem to have the accompanying strong breeze that was also part of the prediction. There is also the chance of scattered showers during the day, and although it is dry now, I think I can agree that the showers are indeed a possibility.

 Yesterday was nothing like Saturday, the previous day. Instead of lots of sunshine, and an almost warm friendly breeze, there was an intermittent cool breeze that sometimes was more wind than breeze, and there was very little sunshine. The sun did shine a few brief times, but overall it was a very dull uninspiring sort of day.

 Out of all the things I listed that I might do yesterday, it was really only the reading that I actually did. I never did the tidying up that I ought to have done, but I did do some laundry. I didn't do any gardening, but I did give the jungle a good long hard stare. Thinking of the things I didn't do, and the things I actually did, it is hard to explain where all the hours went in the day.

 One thing I did that was probably very time consuming, but was interesting enough for time to pass unnoticed, was to have another play with Estrella Roja, the Argentinian "communist" Linux. It has some interesting features that include lots of left wing graphics, a speech by Che Guevara in ogg format, and no obvious way of changing the language from anything but Castallan Spanish (as used in Argentina I believe). It was a very good test of my memory to do lots of stuff without actually being able to read any icons/messages/and all the other stuff that you take for granted when using a PC. Fortunately there are one or two Spanish words I know on a computer, and also fortunately it used a fairly standard desktop and I managed to remember what stuff did from where it was displayed. It was all good fun, and I know it will amuse Patricia if she ever manages to see it running. (The slim chance that I might see Patricia yesterday turned out to be less than slim, and precisely zero !).

 There was other computer stuff I could have done yesterday, but it got too late to delve too deeply into a little problem I had. I had wanted to run a back-up on my server for some files I had transferred from my desktop machine. I could have done what needed to be done remotely, but as it was just a case of swivelling my chair round, and logging in directly to the server I tried to do just that. My login failed in a slightly odd way, but it did give me a terminal to work from, and the X server was working to run graphical based programs. One other thing was very obvious. The picture was shimmering very badly. Sensing disaster to be close by I ran my original backup, and then with my standby server booted up, and connected to the network, I ran the web server backup script I had cobbled together a month or two ago.

 With everything important safely backed up I rebooted the server box to see what would happen. The answer was - nothing much ! I was able to get a terminal running, and from there I could see that  several files, and my entire home directory seemed to be missing. Most of the log files were missing too, and it was various things not being able to write to their log files that seemed to be causing some of the boot/login problems. I can think of two explanations for this. The first is rather less likely than the second, and is that someone has done some severe hacking into my server and done it so badly that they have corrupted everything. The second explanation is far more likely, and that is equipment failure. The shimmering screen was the obvious clue to that, and then there was the blow up I experienced two months ago. My attempt to repair the motherboard may have been less succesful than I had hoped, but I could also be experiencing a faulty power supply. The hard disk corruption may be related to power supply problems, but it could also be due to the fact that it was an old, rather well used (and abused) hard disk when I used it for the operating system on the server. Fortunately all my important data is duplicated on two brand new (when first installed) hard disks.

 Not only is my important data duplicated on the two hard disks in the main server, but thanks to my back-up script all the files for this web site were synchronised to my standby server - and it is from my standby server that the words you are now reading are being served (assuming you are reading this on, or soon after 14th Septemeber 2009). By the end of the week I hope to have the main server up and running again, but I think I am going to have to use my new credit card to get some bits for it. A new hard disk for the operating system is probably essential (but I might have a work around for that), and a new power supply also very desirable. Actually it becomes a bit of a toss up between a new power supply, or new motherboard, but a power supply is my first choice. I am thinking that I could do with even more storage space on my server. It not only serves web pages, but is also extra storage for my home network. I am very tempted to buy a brand new pair of hard disks for that purpose, and if I do I will put the operating system on one of them, and make a backup of it on the other one. Anyway, for now, the backup server is working OK, and I don't have to worry about being off the air like I did when the main server blew up two months ago.
Sunday 13th September 2009
08:57 BST

 As the sun rose this morning, the sky looked very clear, but now it has turned a sort of light milky grey. I hope that it is just early morning mist, and it will soon clear again. It is very cool outside. So the idea of a mist forming is not so unlikely. If it is indeed mist, then that is another herald to the start of autumn.

 I am not sure when autumn officially starts, or even if it has already started, but yesterday it was hard to believe it was not still summer. Particularly so in the late afternoon.

 Yesterday morning I did what may well be the last bit of exercise I do this weekend. I met up with Aleemah at Ladywell station to go and see the stone circle on Hilly Fields. Aleemah did not manage to give me much warning of what train she was on, and I had to rush through the park at breakneck speed to get to the station on time. My timing was actually rather good. I arrived at the station with a good thirty seconds to spare !

 From Ladywell station it is a relatively short walk to the stone circle, but in that relatively short distance we had to climb 175 feet. That is how the stone circle is, and we started close to the river Ravensbourne, and that is practically at sea level. After my rushed pace through the park I found that those 175 feet were quite knackering, but I found I recovered from it very quickly. After just a minute or so I felt all my energy levels return to close to normal.

 The stone circle itself was actually quite good in some ways, but as it was only built 9 years ago it lacks the antiquity to give it mystique, and supernatural powers etc, and there were no zoned out hippies in attendance. There was evidence of a small bonfire close to the centre of the circle, and maybe the odd virgin does get sacrificed there at midnight, but it all seemed quiet and peaceful while we were there. I took a few pictures of the stones, and you can see them on my stone circle web page.

 After we visited the stone circle we waited for what seemed an age for a bus to take us back to Catford. I am sure it would have been quicker to walk back, but Aleemah lacks my stamina. Back in Catford we went into the cafe where Aleemah had a baked potato with prawns, mayonaise and salad, while I had an egg burger and chips. I was going to have the chicken burger and egg, but had the normal beef burger because I couldn't decide what I would eat first. The chicken or the egg................

 Back at home we watched the film "Personal Services" made in 1987 (not to be confused with the film of the same name made in 1976. That was a hard core porn film, but may have been interesting anyway !). This was the follow up film to the one we watched a couple of week ago called "Wish You Were Here". Personal Services was another work of almost fiction based on the life of Cynthia Payne, and this one was set in her adult life when she was accused, and aquitted, of running a brothel. It was quite a funny film, and I enjoyed it, but considering it had an 18 certificate I was expecting more bums and tits.

 They say that pride comes before a fall, and I fell victim to this last night. Having extolled the virtues of using Linux when I wrote yesterday, I managed to do something that killed the triple boot, Windows + two linuxes, on my netbook. I was experimenting with two Argentinian sourced Linux distributions, and attempting to install them on USB pen drives to show them working to Patricia one day. One of them, Estrella Roja Linux (Red Star Linux), decided it would be a bit of a wheeze to transfer the master boot record of my hard disk to the USB pen drive. The result of this was that if I tried to boot the netbook without the USB pen drive the booting process would fail with a grub error 21. Grub being the Grand Unified Boot Loader ! There are many references to this on Google, and all the early ones suggest a similar method to repair this problem. That method did not work for me, and I had to dig deeper. Eventually I found this web page, and the simple method it suggested worked perfectly.

 As early as Friday I was toying with the idea that I might go out for some exercise today. I had contemplated a trip to Hastings as one possibility, but there are engineering works on the railway, and I don't fancy messing about with convoluted routes, or replacement bus services. Another possibilty was to go back to Southend and finally walk all the way back to Chalkwell station, but that didn't really appeal. I had considered a walk in the country side somewhere, but couldn't be bothered to plan a route. The final problem is that I think I ate stuff yesterday that has made my guts feel a little bloated this morning, and I don't fancy going out like that. There is one other possibilty why going out today might not be a good idea. There is a slim chance that Patricia might want to bring her mum's new netbook over for me to install Windows XP on it it Spanish.

 Unless I do get very welcomely distracted by Patricia I think I might try and do something constructive around the house today. One corner of the living room is looking very messy at the moment, and that could do with a good tidy up. I could also do something that would probably be better described as destructive, and that is to attempt to slash and hack my way further into the back garden. After making such good progress a few weekends ago I seem to have abandoned it lately. I can't say I am enthusiastic to get restarted on it again, and I think there is only a 50 - 50 chance that I will do more today. I do have one other big distraction, and that is the book that I started to read in the week - "Churchill's Wizards". I have only read half, or even less of the first chapter, and it is extremely interesting. Reading more of that book could very easily sidetrack me from doing anything else at all today. I must resist the temptation, but......................
Saturday 12th September 2009
07:25 BST

 It doesn't feel quite so cool this morning. This is a little surprising because the sky is clear. It has the makings for a really nice day, but this late in the year there is no chance that it will get any warmer than just warm. Things could change later, as they often do, but there is also very little wind, and that should keep things stable for a little while at least.

 Yesterday remained dry, and often sunny. There was a little more cloud later in the afternoon. At least I think there was. One problem with trying to remember how the weather progressed yesterday is that nothing noteworthy really happened that would embed itself in my memory. All I really remember was thinking that it felt like the sort of weather that would suit a long walk, and that the western sky got quite red as the sun set. By tradition, that red sky heralds good weather for the following day, and that is what seems to have happened - so far !

 I find it a little strange that someone I know has a bit of a downer when it comes to using Linux. He is reasonably competent when it comes to computers of the Windows variety, but seems to have some hang-ups about Linux. Maybe he has some very exotic hardware with limited Linux support, or maybe he has just never given a modern distribution a reasonable go. There are many instances where Linux is just so easy to use. I can cite two very recent events that illustrate this, although the second also contains a little sting in the tail.

 The first instance concerns using a Bluetooth USB dongle. After I murdered my Nokia phone by getting seawater in it I have "downgraded" back to my previous phone. Transferring pictures from that phone is easy via USB, but it uses a special connector at the phone end. It is not convenient to carry that lead around everywhere, and so Bluetooth is the second best option for data transfer. I had a good Bluetooth dongle which I appear to have lost, or someone has borrowed it, and two crap dongles. The crap dongles barely work with their specialised drivers for Windows (which is why they were being sold off for practically nothing). So I bought a brand new dongle. Installing the drivers for that on my Windows XP work computer was very irritating, and needed a restart for them to work properly. This was despite already having drivers installed for the very similar dongle that I have lost, or mislaid. When I came home from work and plugged the new dongle in my Linux box it worked instantly. Once again I had previously installed the supporting software for the old dongle, but even if I had not previously done so it would just have been a case of running the package manager and searching for Bluetooth. A couple of clicks, and it would all be ready to use.  So that's one up for Linux.

 The second instance was when I spoke to Patricia last night. She has bought a new netbook that she will be taking to Argentina to give to her mum. I am not sure what model she bought, but it came with Ubuntu installed. With no help from anyone (that I am aware of), Patricia did a complete re-install of Ubuntu on it using Spanish as the main language (as would be needed in Argentina). The last time Patricia wanted to re-install an operating sytem, and some applications, it was Windows XP, and she had to get me to do it for her. Patricia has had some previous exposure to Linux here, but really only to the extent of running Firefox (web browser). So to do a complete installation by herself really shows how easy Linux can be, and what's more she found it easy and satisfying to use. So another one up for Linux. However there is a sting in the tail. Patricia does not think that it would be a good idea to keep Linux on the netbook for her mum. She thinks that a more "standard" operating system would be more convenient when there is no one she knows out in Argentina who could offer any support for Linux. There is some wisdom in that, but maybe she underestimates the support that Linux has in Argentina. I know of at least one Argentinian produced Linux distribution, Utoto, and I am sure there are others.

 Today I will be seeing Aleemah. As well as the usual visit to the cafe, and the DVD afterwards, we are going to have another go at visiting the standing stones in Ladywell. We originally intended to have a look at this modern, micro interpretation of Stonehenge quite a few weeks ago, but it never happened. So maybe today it will.
Friday 11th September 2009
08:29 BST

 As we approach the final months of the year the mornings are becoming increasingly chilly. It was not cold enough to warrant wearing a coat this morning, but it wasn't far from it, although if I were not continually rushing around as I made my way to work it probably would have been a good idea to wear a coat. I would also have put a coat on if there was any hint that it might rain, but there is a lot of blue in the sky, and I think it will be a fairly sunny day. Unfortunately I won't get very warm. The nights are now too cool, and the sun too weak to raise the temperature to much above pleasant. Yesterday was very similar to how I have predicted today will be. From time to time it did get a bit overcast, but it stayed dry, and by the afternoon the temperature was about 21 - 22 C, which is pleasant enough just for shirtsleeves.

 One of the few advantages, against a whole host of disadvantages, of commuting to work via one of the big London terminus railway stations is all the free stuff you can get, and Friday seems to be a good day for it. This morning it was two small packets of "Curiously Cinnamon" - a sort of breakfast cereal and/or snack food. It was unfortunate that at Waterloo station this morning the "franchise" for handing out free stuff was taken by Ikea who were just giving away boring catalogues. I presume that Network rail, who run the station, only allow one group of promoters on the station at a time. The girls giving away the Curiously Cinnamon had to stand outside the station. Had they been inside then there is a good chance that I could have visited each stand and stocked up on my two free packets several times.

 Once I thought it was greedy to try and get more than the one handout, but now I think "what the hell" and the gloves are off. A month or so ago they were handing out little samplers of "Mitchum" anti-perspirant/deodourant. It was handy that I had a bag with plenty of space in it because that was the first time I have really played the system. Waterloo station is a big station, and there were four stands where they were giving away the samplers. By plotting my route across the station to approach each stand from a different direction, and the previous handouts hidden in my bag, I managed to aquire 4 sets of free samples (each handout had one small can for men, and the same sized can for women). I wasn't over enthusiastic about the smell of the stuff, but it was OK,  it was free, and so I used a couple of cans of it. I still have two spare of the male version, and two spare cans of the female version (I gave two cans to Patricia, but I don't know if she used them) .

 While I could be described as greedy, I don't think that stupid, or dangerous describes me very well - well not all the time, anyway. Some people can do some stupid and dangerous things though.
A stupid person blocking a fire exit
 The owner of this car is not only being stupid, but potentially dangerous too. There is room to pass, but if 20 or 30 people suddenly need to use that fire exit door there is going to be a big pile up as they try and squeeze their way out. More importantly, it is the door I use when I go outside work for a smoke. I felt very tempted to just sit on the bonnet of the car, and knowing my weight, and the flimsyness of a typical car bonnet, I reckon I would have left a large dent in it. I do have a suspicion about who might own the car. There was a middle aged lady hovering nearby, and she seemed to be quite worried when I was taking this, and several other pictures (this being the best one). She was hanging back as if she feared being told off for parking there, and not in one of the clearly marked out official parking spaces around the "Business Park".

 Tonight I think is going to be New Scientist night. I could have bought it yesterday, and read some of it last night, but I shall do that tonight. I did do a little reading last night. I read some of the first chapter from the second book I mentioned buying last Saturday. This one is entitled "Churchill's Wizards" and is about deception, and tricks used by the British in the two world wars.From what I have read so far it is going to be a very good read, and probably the reason for more lack of sleep.

 That little bit of reading I did yesterday I did not do in bed. I was trying to install a computer operating system on an 8 GB USB flash memory stick. It did work  - eventually ! The process was excruciatingly slow, and once installed it ran agonisingly slowly as well. I am not sure what to blame. I do have a couple of Linux installations on USB memory sticks, and they work very well - exceptionally well in some cases. So I know it can work well, but whether it was the type of filesystem in use (MAC HFS+ as it happens), or whether it was an unusually slow memory stick, is as yet unproved. Today I hope to be taking delivery of my first 16 GB USB memory stick, and I may well try the same experiment tonight to see if I can get a working system on it. If not, it's back to Linux. is a very good resource for this sort of thing.
Thursday 10th September 2009
08:28 BST

 It's quite chilly this morning after the skies were clear overnight. The sky is still clear now, and the sun is shining. I believe that today will remain quite sunny, and there is hardly any chance of rain. Yet the temperature is forecast to stay on the low side. If the sun does continue to shine I might have predicted that we could see the temperature rise to 24 - 25 C, but apparently the high for today will be a two or three degrees below that.

 Yesterday did get reasonably warm, but the afternoon was very cloudy. Most of that cloud was just thin white cloud, but occasionally there were some heavier clouds to be seen. At about 6 pm there was even a bit of rain. Over about a minute I counted 4 tiny drops of rain hitting my face. That was about as bad as it got, and as far as I am aware there was no other rain last night.

 After work I met up with Iain in The Catford Ram, and we exchanged a couple of disks while consuming a couple of pints of beer. Iain had taken an interest in FreeNas, the free BSD based Network Attached Storage software. I have had a box running FreeNas for some time now, and I found it easy to set up, and easy to connect to from any computer on my network, running any operating system. Iain seemed to be having less luck than me, and also seemed to have trouble downloading the latest stable version of FreeNas. Now he has a copy I have burnt to disk for him, and I hope he has more luck this time.

 After having my couple of beers I went around the corner to get some shopping in Tesco. It is always dangerous shopping in Tesco when you are starving hungry, but wanting to really only eat low calorie/low fat and other "healthy" food. Last night proved no exception to the normal dangers, and I ended up eating stuff that I really wanted to avoid under other circumstances. It could have been worse though. I did manage to moderate the quantity of food even if I did not moderate the quality. One small problem with that is that I have more bad stuff to eat tonight, and unfortunately I am rather looking forward to it !
Wednesday 9th September 2009
08:21 BST

 In theory, today could be a nice day. It has started off quite fresh, but some early morning cloud has mostly gone, and there should be plenty of sunshine today. For all this, it will apparently not be anything like as warm as it was yesterday.

 Yesterday was rather amazing. The day started out seming to be quite dull and gloomy, and I had some quite pessimistic thoughts about that. The weather forecasters had promised that it would be a hot and sunny day, and much to my surprise that is how it turned out. I am not sure when the process actually started, but during the morning the nasty grey clouds broke up, and probably well before midday we were left with a clear blue sky. The hot sunshine was aided by gentle warm breezes that had made the morning feel warmer than it looked, and these combined, raised the temperature to over 26 C, and possibly as high as 29 C in some parts of inner London.

 After work last night, I was due to meet up with Aleemah to visit The Viaduct Tavern in Holborn. I left work as normal, walked to Earlsfield station, and then caught a train to Waterloo (also as usual). From Waterloo I had many options of getting to St Pauls tube station where I was due to meet up with Aleemah. Some internet searches I had done while at work suggested a nice easy roote by taking the 521 bus. One minor bit of novelty in choosing the bus was that I finally had a good reason to use an exit from Waterloo Station that I had never used before. About half way between the gents and ladies toilet on the main station concourse is an exit that starts with an escalator going downwards. Prior to yesterday I had a rough idea where it went, but had never used it before. Last night I did use it, and it came out roughly where I thought it might, but also rather conveniently directly in front of the bus stop I wanted for the 521 bus.

 One problem with getting a bus is identifying exactly where you are on the route, and when you have arrived at your destination. This problem has been theoretically solved by the use of automatic anoouncement, and a display that may even be triggered from Satelite navigation signals. In theory it all works fine, but the stop nearest the pub is just called by some road name that I had never heard of, and the actual stop I wanted was not called St Pauls, but "New Change/Cannon Street". Not calling the stop St Pauls when the most overt landmark is the tube station is weird, but also calling the stop NewChange/Cannon Street is strange too. The bus did stop in what I have just learned is a road called New Change, and a short walk down that road is Cannon Street itself (but not Cannon Street Station - that is a fair walk down Cannon Street). It is almost as if the bus company did not want to acknowledge the obvious connections with other modes of public transport. Being as the buses are run by private companies that would be no surprise except that their routes, frequencies of operation, and where they stop is all dictated by Transport For London who run the buses and the tubes !

 I was actually about ten minutes early when I arrived outside St Pauls tube station, but Aleemah was there already, and we walked the couple of hundred feet (or was it yards ?) to the pub. Outside, the pub looks very big and ornate, but it is surprising small inside. It is also very ornate inside as well (there is an excellent description in the link I provided above). The reason Aleemah wanted to visit the pub was not for the paintings, and architecture, but to visit a cell from the original Newgate prison that stood on the site the pub was built on, and was preserved in the pubs cellar.

 I expected the pub to be far too busy to accomodate private tours to the cellar, but the pub was reasonably quiet when we got there, and on a chalk board that was mostly advetising food it specifically said "ask to see our cells". We had one drink, and just as we about to go to the bar with our empty glasses and ask about seeing the cells, we had our empty glasses collected from the table we were sitting at. I had a hunch that the man who did it was the manager, but it turned out he was the under manager, and would be very happy to show us the cells. In fact we were only shown one of the 5 surviving cells (the others are probably rented out to the CIA for extraordinary interogations or something). To be honest there was little to see, and it was being allowed to see it that was the actual fascinating thing (it's not in many pubs that you get to see the beer cellars, either).

 We had one more drink in the pub before we headed for home. Aleemah walked back to St Pauls tube station, and I headed for City Thameslink Station which I noticed was within a couple of hundred feet of the pub. I had to wait between 10 and 15 minutes for a train, but it took me straight back to Catford station with no changes - which was sort of handy. The train was well filled with passengers, but not jam packed, and it was pretty hot to travel on. The train I got was a class 319 train, which was sort of traditional for a "Thameslink" train, and at any other time it would have been what I would have hoped I would catch. Yesterday I think I might have preferred a new, air conditioned, class 377 train. I arrived back at Catford feeling very damp and sticky, and it was nice to get out into the fresh air again.

 Tonight I am doing a little more drinking, but not in a pub with a cell in it's cellar. Actually, tonights pub hasn't even ot a cellar. It will be The Catford Ram where the "cellar" is actually above the bar ! I am meeting Iain in there for a couple of pints as as soon as I get to Catford after work, and before doing a little shopping in Tesco.
Tuesday 8th September 2009
07:52 BST

 Sometimes you wonder where the weather forecasters get their inspiration from. They said that today would be another "last day of summer". The sky should be blue. The sun should be shining, and the temperature today should reach 27 or even 28 C in London today. I wonder if it will ? As I write this the sky is very grey. I even thought I felt a couple of very small spots of rain as I walked fom home to the station. All the grey cloud has kept in some of yesterday's warmth, and it feels close to being warm, and definitely humid outside. When I think back to the weather forecast I saw on TV last night, this cloudy start was mentioned. Apparently the cloud is expected to disperse soon, and then we will have the summery type of day a bit later (so it actually won't be like a summers day, but like half a summers day !). The only thing that bothers me is that if it feels a bit humid now, what will it feel like when the day really starts to warm up? I suspect the answer to that is "horrible".

 I felt quite tired by yesterday afternoon. Such are the perils of getting engrossed in a good book, and getting to sleep far later than is good for you. I fell asleep while reading from my computer screen at work yesterday afternoon, and a missed a few hundred yards of my commute home when I momentarily dozed off on the train home. It would have been wise to ensure that I went to sleep very early last night, and I did indeed go to bed very early last night. The trouble was that I continued to read the same book, "Bad Science", and it is a very thought provoking book. So even when I forced myself to put the book down my brain continued to churn away digesting facts, and inventing new ones.The end result was that I wasn't asleep by 8 pm when I probably should have been. I wasn't asleep by 9 pm, which is the optimal time for me to be asleep most nights, and I was barely managing to start to doze off by 10 pm.

 At 4 am this morning I was using all my seductive techniques, and the power of my charm, to seduce a lovely woman who I have not seen in ages (and whose name shall remain unsaid). This being a dream, I was making excellent progress, and the fruits of my labours were in very close reach when I heard a scratching sound from outside my cosy dream world. Smudge had woken up, and needed to go out. Well you can't have succesful erotic dreams with a cat tearing the paint off the door. So I woke up, got up, and went downstairs. I opened the back door, and put down a plate of food for Smudge. She wolfed down a couple of mothfuls of food before tearing out the back door with her legs crossed (metaphorically !). She evidently agrees that it is very mild, almost warm outside, because she never came back to finish her breakfast (as she would have done if it had been cold). I assume she will pick up a takeaway during the day. If she does I hope she disposes of the corpse somewhere discrete !

 So once again I have had a sub-optimal amount of sleep, and I wouldn't be surprised if I find that my eyes have closed at some point during the afternoon. It could well happens several times. On the other hand it is feasible that I might actually fall into a deep sleep. I wouldn't mind being paid to sleep if it happened, but I doubt I could get myself comfortable enough to do it. Later on this afternoon I will have to try and stay alert. After work I am meeting Aleemah for a drink. We haven't done this for a long time, and the special attraction for today is that she wants to visit The Viaduct Tavern pub near St Pauls tube station (where we are due to meet at 5 pm). The Viaduct Tavern has cellars that incorporate some of the cells from the old Newgate jail that stood on the site where the pub was leter built. Aleemah seems to think she will be able to visit these cells, but I don't think she will be able to. It is possible that at quiet times a member of the staff might be persuaded to escort you down for a quick look, but I have grave doubts that we will find the pub very quiet at 5 pm. Some of the city types who may drink there may work until fairly late in the evening, or so they claim, but others will be on their third magnum of champagne by 5 pm !
Monday 7th September 2009
08:45 BST

 It is not easy to describe the weather this morning. I suppose you could say the average is a sort of greyness. There are breaks in the clouds, and as I walked from the station to work I walked in bright sunshine, but my view of the sky ahead was of quite dark coloured clouds. The clouds have at least kept some of the warmth in, and I was quite comfortable coming to work in my shirtsleeves. After a bit of commuting I even rolled my sleeves up. The temperature is actually around that tipping point where hard work makes you feel quite hot, and total idleness feels too cold, but I can't any actual numbers to that explanation. I believe that the rest of the day will be dry, but there will not be that much sunshine.

 In some ways, the weather today is probably not going to be that significantly different to yesterday. There was some sunshine yesterday, and it did feel quite mild outside. That is another rather variable constant - mild ! It probably means anything you want it to. I think I just use it as neither hot nor cold. I suppose everybody does, but our personal appreciation of what is hot, and what is cold probably varies considerably. The true yardstick is what the cats think of it. Smudge spent most of yesterday indoors. By that criteria it was cold and autumn like !

 I had a very lazy day yesterday. I was so lazy that I didn't even bother to wash or shave. It seemed to take an awful long time to write my bletter yesterday. I started it with the idea that as soon as I had written it I would take a shower, and have a shave. I started it at 10:17, and that was already getting quite late. Researching the unusual amount of links to more information that I provided, and also getting sidetracked by reading some of those web pages (and links from them  as well) meant that I didn't finish writing until gone midday. Midday is a critical sort of time, and my gut reaction was that it was too late in the day to consider doing anything important (like showering). Besides, I was pretty certain that I would not be seeing anyone at all on Sunday. So if I was a bit stinky I wouldn't be offending anyone except perhaps for Smudge. Evidently I wasn't stinky to cats because Smudge was most keen to help me lay on my bed quietly reading - which I did rather a lot of.

 I am quite surprised that after a day of intensive relaxation (and it has to be said, a fair bit more the previous evening) I don't feel terrible today. I do have a little mild backache, and my guts have been a bit funny recently, but I don't actually feel too bad this morning. My neck, that was even giving me some trouble yesterday, seems to be almost cured. There is still some tenderness, but it's a tenth of what it was on Saturday, and that was a tenth of what it was on Friday (which was almost pure agony !). I also seem to be in possesion of energy I didn't know I had. I caught a slightly later train to work today, and that meant I had to change trains at London Bridge. I didn't feel tired, or achey, but neither did I feel like I would be able to sprint up the steps of the overbridge to catch my next train from a different platform, but I did, and it was sort of effortless too. The next test of endurance came at Waterloo East station. I found myself racing up the ramp, and across the link to the mainline station at a far greater speed than was actually needed. I did find myself very slightly short of breath, but also very far from gasping, and I could feel my heart beating harder at the end of that 5 minute dash (literally 5 minutes, and getting close to 6).

 The next long walk (approximately ten minutes) is the walk from Earlsfield station to work. I took that at a more steady pace, but I still didn't hang around. Towards the end of that I was looking forward to getting to my desk for a sit down. So I guess I haven't got that much energy after all, but it's still probably a lot more than I started the day thinking I had.

 Tonight it is possible that I could try and eat in a sort of healthy way. I don't need to do any shopping provided I source stuff from the freezer. So I could have skinless chicken breasts with green beans and mushrooms tonight. It is very possible that is exactly what I will eat, but rather less possible that is all I will eat. I do have some very naughty food in the larder that really should not be there is the quantities it is in. One packet of baked chilli flavoured potato swirly things would not be ideal, but tolerable, but I have four packets of them (4 for 99p in the 99p shop !). They are very nice in a painful burning chilli sort of way, and once I have eaten one, as I am very likely to do, it could be hard to resist having another bag soon after. It is perhaps fortunate that they do burn the mouth and lips sufficiently well to provide some deterrence against eating a third packet (but even that has a large margin of doubt - more so if I were to be getting any pain twinges in my neck and decided that a drop of scotch whiskey might be beneficial before going to bed).
Sunday 6th September 2009
10:17 BST

There doesn't seem to be much sun this morning. I thought that the forecast was for sunny intervals today, but the last forecast I saw was several days ago, and I guess the weather forecasters have had a change of ideas. At least it is dry, there is little wind, and it is only moderately cool outside. I can see one small patch of blue drifting past my window, and maybe there are others I can't see. If one of those blue patches finds the sun then we should be treated to some glorious sunshine, even if only for a few minutes.

 Yesterday was much sunnier. There were some long spells of sunshine, and it did get mildly warm by the end of the day. I certainly felt no need to wear anything more then a t-shirt when I went out to meet Aleemah at the station, and later saw her back to the station. ( I hasten to add, for the weirder minded, that I also wore trousers, underpants, shoes and socks when I went out). As usual, Aleemah brought along a slightly less-than-mainstream film for us to watch. Yesterday it was "Wish You Were Here" made in 1987. Sadly it had nothing to do with the excellent Pink Floyd album of the same name that was released in 1975. The film was actually about the early life of Cynthia Payne who made the headlines several time in the 1970's and 1980's when she was accused of running a brothel in Streatham, South London. There is also a film, called "Personal Services", starring Julie Walters, that deals with the time when Cynthia Payne was alleged to be running a brothel. I have yet to see that film, but I think Aleemah has it, and may bring it the next time she visits.

 After Aleemah had gone home I still had time to do a bit of shopping. In WH Smiths I bought a magazine and a couple of books. The magazine was Linux Magazine, and the books were "Bad Science" by Ben Goldacre (author of the Bad Science website), and "Churchill's Wizards", by Nicholas Rankin.

 Linux Magazine had an interesting cover disk on it. It was a DVD with a live (but installable) version of "slampp". In their own words - "SLAMPP is a generic Linux distribution that can boot directly off a CD/DVD-ROM drive, or optionally can be installed on a local hard disk. It is designed to be used as an "instant home server"." I had not heard of it before, but it would seem to be just the sort of thing I would have found useful if I had not decided to use Xubuntu for my own server. Inside the magazine was an article about using Hiawatha. It is, once again in their own words - "the world's most secure and advanced webserver. ". Despite being self billed as the worlds most advanced webserver, it seems that it can also be used in a very basic and simple way. I find it interesting, and I may do some experimenting with it. Currently I use the Apache webserver, and that is a hugely powerful bit of software. By slightly twisting a claim once made for the Sinclair ZX81 personal computer I can make a sort of comparison to what I currently use, and what I actually need. "The Apache webserver is powerful enough to serve a whole nuclear power station, but all I want is to serve up a couple of AA cells" ! As a sidenote to this, while searching for the links used above I came across an interesting website for the ZX81. It features lots of emulators for the ZX81, as well as software and other stuff. It is at

 I stayed up rather later than I wanted to last night as I read through a couple of chapters of the book Bad Science. So far, what I have read is good stuff, but maybe just a little too over zealous in places. After reading the first two chapters I went to the toilet. While sitting there, letting my mind idle (as one does) I came to predict what the next chapter would be about, and strangely enough I was right. By that, I don't mean what the subject matter would be, but what the conclusions of that subject would be. In this case it was about how Homeopathists, whilst not providing cures from the substances they offer, can still teach good lessons about patient care and the placebo effect.

 The second book I bought yesterday, Churchill's Wizards, I have yet to open, but I have a strong suspicion it is going to be a very good read. I am hoping it expands on the book "Most Secret War" by R. V. Jones. That latter book was a most fascinating read, and formed the basis for the TV programme "The Secret War" narrated by William Woolard. Most secret War was mostly about how the newly maturing art of electronics, and other technology helped Britain (with a bit of help from the Americans) win World War 2.

 I have already mentioned once how sitting on the toilet, and letting the mind just idle, came up with one idea, but another time brought forth another idea. This one came to me sometime in the night while waiting for other things to happen. In this case it concerned what I am writing here. Originally blogs (web logs) were just a sort of record of stuff people were doing, and I would hazard a guess originally started by programmers who wanted to document, and explain to their fellow programmers what sort of stuff they were writing, and how the process was going. Then along came Livejournal (for example) and the idea was extended, and made relatively easy, for other people to write and maintain an online diary. Much of what was written on such websites was trivial (just like what I write here), and often concerned what their cats were doing. While that continued in the background there came a sort of split. The most ultra trivial stuff was banished to the simple 140 character messages of Twitter, and blogs became more associated with strange political rantings and other agenda based stuff. So I wondered just exactly what it was I was doing, and what category it should come under. I have the occasional rant. I sometimes document some of my computer experiments, and I write lots of really trivial stuff like what the weather is up to. Then , while I waited for my peristaltic muscles to do their stuff, I clarified a thought that had popped up a couple of times in the past. What I actually write here most days is a letter. In the same tradition that kept the postal service alive in times past, when seperated lovers would write to each other every day, when soldiers, and their nearest and dearest would exchange regular letters even from the battlefield, I am writing a letter to you in electronic form.  Imagine that this very piece started with "Dear yourname", and ended with Love, or cheers, or whatever is most appropriate, Bill. The next thought was that this requires a new name. So if a web log is now a blog, then a web letter is now a bletter. Now you may think that is stupid, and it probably is, but I will continue to use it until it is laughed out of existence. On the other hand, it may turn up in some mispelled web search, and someone (probably a mad man) will think "that's a good idea", and start using it himself. Maybe I have just inveneted a new word for the 21st century, or maybe, like most stuff on the world wide web, it will sink into total obscurity. Anyway, welcome to the first official bletter in the world ! You can comment on this insane piece of narcism by following the instructions here.

(for the first, and probably only time)
Saturday 5th September 2009
08:43 BST

If we can believe the weather forecasters, it is set to be an almost warm and dry day today. I think I am inclined to believe them. There is a lot of blue in the sky as I write this, and the sun is shining. It is still a bit chilly, but it should warm up, and now the strong wind, we had yesterday, has dropped it could make for a pleasant afternoon.

 It was definitely cold when I went to work yesterday. I skipped my autumn jacket and went straight to wearing my winter jacket. This was mainly because I felt I needed extra protection and/or warmth for my sore neck. If I think that maybe I was still suffering from whatever it was that caused me to take Wednesday, and Thursday off work. I say that because even when coming home from work, when the day had warmed up a bit, and in the shelter of a train carriage, I didn't feel like I was overheating. When I am feeling in reasonable good health that jacket can be a little too warm to wear even in the depths of winter when the heating is on, on the train. I came home via the Aldi supermarket last night, and even after carrying 4 moderately full carrier bags home I didn't seem to break into a sweat like I predicted I might.

 Among the stuff I bought in Aldi was a bottle of (alleged) 8 year old scotch whisky. It was reasonably cheap, like most thing are from Aldi, but it tasted quite nice. My sore/stiff neck had been giving me a lot of grief during the day, and for most of the day I had a bad tension headache. Paracetamol, Aspirin, and Ibuprofen, taken at different times, all helped a little, but not a lot. So I resorted to "Scottish muscle relaxant" as a remedy before I went to bed last night. I didn't drink myself into a stupour as I had threatened, nor did I drink enough to get noticably drunk, but I had a three decent sized measures before I went to bed. (For "decent sized measures" think in the region of more than a double in a pub - actually probably more like a triple !)

 After having my "medicine" I was in bed by 8 pm, and I think I was fast asleep soon after that. I probably woke up again at 1 to 2 hour intervals, but I think I did manage one continous sleep of 3 hours at one point during the night. I did find it a lot easier to find a comfortable sleeping position for my sore neck when I first went to bed, and subsequently it became easier during the night. My neck is still sore this morning, and I still have some restricted mobility, but it is definitey improved by an order of magnitude compared to yesterday. It should improve further during today, or at least that is what I hope, but I feel I am likely to take some extra "medicine" before I go to bed tonight.

 Today Aleemah is visiting, and very soon now I have to do some serious housework. That is not going to be easy, or at least pleasant with a stiff neck, but I'll do what I can. (Of course doing housework is never pleasant, although the results can be if I do it sufficiently well).

 The most recent weather forecast I have seen suggests that tomorrow could be a bright warm day. That forecast is a little old now, but could still be roughly correct. If my neck is OK, and the rest of me feels OK, I feel I could be tempted to go out for a walk somehwere. I doubt it will be to the coast, but maybe I might do a little country walking. It was slouching around that probably did my neck in, so a walk would be a good idea. On the other hand being intensly lazy after a few nights of bad sleep is also appealing. Perhaps I'll just toss a coin in the morning. Maybe I am just thinking aloud without there being any actual substance to what I have just written about tomorrow !
Friday 4th September 2009
07:55 BST

Another morning has started dry, but it is quite cool outside. At the moment the cloud is well broken, and from time to time there are brief interludes of weak sunshine. As the sun climbs higher in the sky, and if it can shine for longer periods, then it could warm up to at least "pleasantly mild". Yesterday stayed dry, but there was not that much sunshine, and the wind stayed very gusty all day.

 My appreciation of just how warm and cold it is should not be relied on this morning. I am back at work, but I still feel quite rough. I checked my temperature before coming to work, and it showed I definitely did not have any fever. What it did show, or at least would have showed if whet I measured was actually my core temperature instead of my under the tongue temperature, was that I was officially 1.1 C below the point that is considered to be the onset of hypothermia. My actual measurement was 35.0 C. I don't think this is particularly unusual for me. It seems that my temperature is always lower than the textbooks state to be normal. There could be some interesting implications for this, but I will have to do some more research before speculating about it.

 The main thing I am suffering from this morning is a very sore neck. It is incredibly painful to try and turn my neck. I think I may have pulled a muscle in it, or something like that. I suspect it would not have happened if I had taken some painkillers and gone to work yesterday. It was probably caused by slouching around all day. In some ways it is less of a bother now than it was at 3 am this morning. I woke up several times in the night, and struggled to find a comfortable position for my neck, but at 3 am I just could not put up with the pain and discomfort any longer, and decided that I would get up. I don't feel too sleepy at the moment, but I reckon I will be falling asleep at my desk by this afternoon. Another problem that my painful neck caused is reduced road safety. On my way to work this morning it was too painful to look left and right before crossing the road. On busy roads I stopped and swung my whole body around to look out for cars, but on less busy roads I just relied on my hearing, and peripheral vision, before stepping out into the road, and I have lived to tell the tale !

 The pain in my neck is effectively masking the other discomforts I am still suffering from. It was curious while I walking that in being so focussed on my neck I often didn't notice other things. What I did notice was that I was suffering from a sort of paradox. Swinging one leg after the other as I walked along seemed almost effortless below the hips, but at the same time it felt a bit of a strain above the hips. I just couldn't really feel my legs working hard, but my heart rate and breathing could. The only conclusion I can draw from any of this is that I am still suffering from some unknown malady (that could still be some variant of 'flu), and that is corrupting my onboard operating system, and external sensors in some weird biological way.

 Tonight I ought to make a start cleaning up home prior to Aleemah coming to visit tomorrow. Somehow I doubt I will be doing that. If I haven't fallen asleep on the train home, and ended up somewhere exotic, I shall probably be falling asleep soon after I get home. Hopefully my neck will have submitted to whatever repair mechanisms are in place, and I will be able to sleep painlesssly tonight. failing that I might pop out for a bottle of scotch and drink myself into a stupour to get to sleep (and relax the twisted muscles in my neck).
Thursday 3rd September 2009
07:48 BST

As I write this it is dry outside, and there are even a few breaks in the clouds where the sun could get through, but most of the clouds are very heavy and threatening. More rain is likely to fall at any time. It is still reasonably mild out, but later on, when I go out for some shopping, I think that a coat wouldn't be a bad idea even if it is still dry. One feature that is helping to keep the temperature a little higher than it could be, and is also helping to dry everything out in between showers, is the wind. It is quite strong and gusty.

 Yesterday ended with quite a lot of rain, but it was not as heavy as was forecast for some parts. The evening weather forecast suggested that some parts of London could have some spectacular thunder and lightning, but I didn't see, or hear, anything here.

 I don't feel so bad this morning, although I still don't feel quite right. Between now and this time yesterday it is like I have skipped the worst days of having 'flu. It did definitely feel like I was starting to come down with 'flu yesterday morning, and this morning it feels like I am almost recovered from having 'flu. The horrible sweaty, achey, close-to-death feeling that marks the middle of suffering from 'flu doesn't seem to have happened. I haven't taken my temperature this morning, but I am not aware that it is anything other than normal, and I think it had probably returned to normal by the middle of yesterday. What I was, and to a far lesser extent, what I am suffering from will probably remain a mystery. I could have taken a couple of paracetamols and gone back to work today, but I think another days rest is probably needed even though I am losing something like 90 a day wages when off sick (this new rule only applies to the first three days of being sick).

 Late yesterday afternoon I felt I had rested sufficiently, and had enough patience to sit down and make up the web page recording my visit to the Upminster tube depot open day. You can look at the pictures, and accompanying notes right here.

 Today I think I am going to take it easy. At least that is my intention, but it could get boring doing that. One distraction will be getting some shopping in, and at the same time buying a magazine and/or a book to read. Another thing I ought to do is to drop off a repeat prescription form to my doctors surgery for all the blood pressure drugs I continue to take like an automaton. If I do get the urge to do anything active later in the day I do have a range of housework that needs doing. Maybe I'll just do some gentle tidying up, or if I really begin to feel very active I could do the unthinkable and hoover the stairs. It is more likely that I will just lay on my bed reading all day, but you never know !
Wednesday 2nd September 2009
12:22 BST

As the weather forecasters predicted, it has been a gloomy morning, and this afternoon has seen the first sprinkling of rain. After the rain the sky has actually got brighter, but there are still plenty of clouds in the sky, and some do look threatening. More rain is certain to fall today, and quite possibly tomorrow too.

 Yesterday's bright morning soon clouded over, and late in the morning there was some moderately heavy rain. It didn't last long, and I think it stayed dry after that.

 I have stayed away from work sick today. Yesterday I felt very tired, and I ached quite a bit. One bit of me, my right foot, that had given me a lot of pain on Monday, and was giving me some pain towards the end of the several bits of walking I do to travel to work, actually improved while other bits of me got worse. During the day my foot gave very little trouble, or maybe it just became less relevant as other joints creaked and groaned. It did get sore again as I came home from work, but in the evening I was still aware that certain movements reminded me it was still not right, but they were not painful enough to be significant. The same remains true today.

 This morning I woke up feeling quite dreadful. It's hard to be specific, or to list every ache and pain, but one thing was quite specific. I had a slightly raised temperature. Most of the symptoms could easily have been relieved by a couple of paracetamol, including the raised tempearture, but I thought it would be a good idea not to expose the people I work with to whatever ails me in case it is the dreaded swine 'flu. I am pretty certain it is not swine 'flu unless swine 'flu is considerably milder than the screaming newspaper headlines might have us believe. This morning it did feel like a subset of 'flu. All the aches, pains and fatigue were in the right places, but unlike real 'flu where all these things seem to come from the very core, my ones seems more from the surface and more superficial (but still unpleasant).

 After phoning work to tell them the good news I went back to bed. Unlike when I go to bed at night, I really wanted to crawl under the duvet, and tuck myself in tight. I usually feel too warm when I go to bed at night to do that, but my raised temperature, even though it was only a degree or two, made me feel quite cool otherwise. I was in bed for three hours, and during that time I attempted to do some reading, but my eyelids kept dropping down. So I tried to do some sleeping, but sleep didn't seem to come - or so it seemed. I assume I did sleep because that three hours seemed to pass quite quickly.

 When I got up again I had a couple of bowls of hot soup to warm me up. That must have worked because half an hour later I started sweating profusely. I still feel a little warm even though I am now sitting next to an open window, and it is only supposed to be 18 C outside - and that is hardly warm for someone quietly sitting at a PC just wearing a t-shirt. I do actually feel a lot better now, but I think I will go back to bed soon - maybe not in it, but perhaps on it - and try some more reading/falling asleep.

 At some point today I will try and finally make up the special web page with all the pictures I took at the Upminster tube depot open day last Sunday. Last night I spent some time preparing all the pictures for the web page. Thanks to the marvels of my new camera, and some clever stuff from The Gimp (Gnu image manipulation program) I think they are quite presentable. Perhaps I'll make up the web page early this evening because although I feel considerably better now compared to early this morning, I am feeling like a good lie down would be very nice right now.
Tuesday 1st September 2009
08:59 BST

 I thought that today was forecast to be overcast and dull, but it seems that forecast was as accurate as the one for yesterday ! It is bright and sunny this morning, although the air is a little on the cool side. Perhaps it will cloud over later today, ut for now it is really rather nice.

 Yesterday was forecast to be a scorcher of a day, well maybe not scorcher, but hot, dry and sunny. When I wrote about the weather yesterday morning I said that it was actually quite cloudy. Soon after finishing writing the cloud did break up, and by the afternoon it was clear and bright. The only trouble was that the temeperature didn't feel particularly hot. It was certainly very pleasant, but there was no danger of actually feeling too hot, or at least indoors there wasn't.

 I stayed in all day yesterday. Whatever I did to my right foot on Saturday, and made worse on Sunday, was often quite painful when I moved, or used, my foot is some ways. After resting it virtually all day, and trying to keep it warm all night, it did seem better, but not cured, this morning. A lot of the time I don't notice any pain from it, but after about 9 minutes of walking I do start to get some sharp pains radiating out from an area that I can't recall having a name. It is all part of the ankle, but the specific bit I am talking about is between where the leg ends, and the slightly in to the top of the foot. If the opposite end of the world to the arctic is called the antarctic, then the bit of my foot that radiates pain is the antinstep ! The significance of the 9 minutes I mentioned is that many bits of my journey to, and from, work involve walking for 10 minutes. So that is one minute of pain everytime I walk to, or from, Earlsfield station (for instance). Of course these times are approximate, and worse still, variable. The good news is that this is a reasonable improvement on yesterday. If my foot continues to improve at this rate I could be OK for a good long walk at the weekend - maybe !

 I don't think I achieved hardly anything that I predicted I might do yesterday except for the laundry. I did two loads in the washing machine, and hung them up to dry. I never did get around to doing any, what I laughingly call, gardening, and I never managed to edit all the photos I took on Sunday to make up a new web page.

 Instead of dealing with the photos I had already taken, I took some more. I found a sudden urge to compare the different cameras I own. It was an interesting experiment, and if you want to see what I did, and what conclusions I reached, you will have to click here.

 Tonight I feel that I will probably be going to bed early, but I'll see if I can make some progress in getting the pictures ready for my visit to Upminster tube depot web page (and maybe even write that web page). There is one other distraction that probably ought to take precedence over that web page, and that is correcting some terrible typos I have noticed on some of my current web pages. That is going to need some strong concentration to find all the terrible mistakes I have noticed, and I doubt I will correct every page I know to have bad errors tonight. One day, someday, I might get most of the errors corrected, but as they are all old pages my typing errors, bad spelling, and grammatical balls ups have already been exposed to the world (and his dog).


Bill Kelsey 2009