goznet ...

David's diary: May 2001

So far so good with that busy week, getting a shed-load of stuff done yesterday, and hopefully a good deal today too, now I can settle down properly after a somewhat disjoint morning. Yesterday evening I was round at Darren's, sorting out label printing for some one-off CDs I'd agreed to do for Shine. It didn't work out quite as good as we'd hoped, but Gareth seems happy enough. This morning I took a trip up to the Open University's warehouse facility in Knowlhill, which was quite interesting. The main reason for visiting was to drop off a CD-ROM for Mikki to install some summer-school software, but it was a good chance also for him to show me around the facility, which opened only last year. Of course, had serious trouble finding a parking space upon my return, but eventually I found one, just in time for lunch - though having done so I took the opportunity to stop off at the bank to pay off my first Orange bill. Got a call from Shine's manager Mark while I was out, wanting to arrange a meeting; no idea what that's about and I'm loathe to agree to anything - especially since he's based in Manchester - without knowing exactly what it is he wants, so I've asked Gareth to prime me about that... Tonight it's our monthly astronomy club meeting - that's astroNOMy, Darren and Sarah, please take note! - so I'll probably be working a little late anyway before going out for a bite to eat somewhere.

Ouch, that was a scarily productive day today, and I'd liked to have carried on for another hour or more but for my tummy telling me otherwise...

That tummy of mine was duly grateful for a McDonalds bacon double cheeseburger meal, before I returned to work for the astronomy club meeting. Numbers were down a little on normal, but it was an interesting evening, with the highlight being a good talk on the chemical evolution of the universe. Yes, I was nodding off by the end, but it was no reflection on the content of the talk, merely how shattered I was by then!

This morning's progress meeting with Phil went well, and he seemed very pleased that we would appear now to be on the home leg with this Java software, though I am all too aware that some of the final questions might be trickier than they appear. It's monthly report time once again, and for once I can really be quite upbeat about it all!

There are a few little nagging annoyances in life at the moment though; nothing major, but things indicative of people's attitudes not being as good as maybe they should. Perhaps I may see things more clearly after tonight, though, assuming that all goes ahead as planned; I should be trying out one of the house-groups of the church I went for a walk with on Sunday afternoon, and I have a hunch it might just be the start of a new chapter of my life.

Oh, it turns out that phone call I got from Shine's manager yesterday was a false alarm - Gareth had given him the wrong Dave G's number, and his message was really meant for David Grant! Hmm, I might have got an inside scoop if I'd run with it...

House-group duly visited, and I was modestly impressed, I have to say. I'd also like to give their Thursday night one a try, since it has quite a different feel to it I am told, but that will have to wait until next week probably. Tonight it's the "family night" I mentioned a few days ago, when the MKCF elders' vision for the future will be presented, and even though it's now fairly clear to me that I play no part in that future, I ought to hear them out. Things seem to be looking up now, though, in all kinds of respect - and I'm not the only one. Not just church-related things, either; many aspects of life seem finally to be falling into place and making me - and others - feel more settled and at peace. And it shows, apparently - at least one person has noticed a change for the better in me recently, and I'm sure that's no coincidence.

Do I, don't I? Well I've actually got a few months to arrive at any final decision, though I suspect it will come sooner than that in practice. Last night's meeting was interesting, and even encouraging to a degree. It certainly showed that contrary to all appearances there is a heart for some change to the ingrained way of doing things, and that there is a positive and worthwhile vision underpinning it all. Whether the changes proposed are "for me" is quite another matter, though - but at least if I and others did now up and leave the fellowship, I feel it would be possible to do so in a way that would leave a lot less hurt for all concerned, and with full mutual blessing for our respective futures.

In summary, as I had already been tipped off, the "four local congregations" arrangement of the church - which has been in place to some extent for the last ten years - is being shelved, with a return to one congregation - probably in Wolverton, reading between the lines a little - as from September. To offset this, the house-group aspect of the church is to be overhauled, with a greater emphasis on such groupings than at present. However, this would seem to involve larger house-groups, since they consider them at present to be too small; I often find them too large, personally... So anyway, lots of food for thought and prayer over the coming weeks, even if I'm fairly sure what the outcome is to be.

Well the fourth was definitely with me today, because I've now all but completed the Java software! OK, so there are a few bits to go that require a little more consultation, and I'm sure there will be tweaks and changes to be made, but it's basically there! And only a couple of months overdue... Anyway, it's the weekend and high time I was heading home, so signing off now.

This bank holiday weekend has been a busy one so far, and it's far from over yet, although plans for today have changed a little over the last couple of days. Today I was going to be doing more painting and decorating with Sarah, but she's too shattered to contemplate that, so instead I've taken my friend Doug up on an offer he hinted at yesterday to go sailing this afternoon. I'll be off to his house for lunch in a short while, from where we and others will go on to the lake at Haversham. I'll still be visiting Sarah later, to help take back her friend's car she's been borrowing for the last few days and to have a bite of tea - and hopefully not staying too late - so I'll only be spending a couple of hours at the lake, but that will probably be quite enough!

Yesterday was an interesting day, going to - and playing at - the MKCF celebration in the morning, the first meeting since the radical changes to the fellowship were announced. It all seemed quite upbeat, though numbers were perhaps a little down on usual, but it is a holiday weekend after all. I also went to the evening meeting, but managed to avoid being in the band for that, and it was perhaps as well that was the case because Edwin, one of the chaps who came along to the Vineyard house-group on Wednesday night, surprised me by rolling up soon after the meeting had started.

In between the two meetings, I joined Mark and Darren for a curry in Wolverton, followed by a walk round Willen Lake with the main cohort of the breakaway group from MKCF, meeting back at Paul and Carol's for a short while afterwards. It was good to see old friends for the first time in several weeks, and I hope it's a group I can stay in touch with even if they are not where I choose to make my "home" when I take the likely plunge and leave MKCF.

After the evening meeting last night I had a good chat - and a take-away and watched a video - with Chris and Claire, who seem quite excited about what the future in MKCF might hold. This seems to sum things up for me, that what is proposed should be good, so long as it's not empty words again, but just that they are going off in a direction - both geographical and otherwise - that's not right for me and many others. As such, I need hold no bitterness or resentment; it's just a parting of ways - MKCF is leaving me just as much as I am leaving them - which I hope can be made with everyone's blessing.

Saturday was a simpler but quite productive day, doing my shopping early and going round to Sarah's for lunch and to decorate, getting a fair bit done of the latter, though it will probably take another day to get it finished. I was a bit delayed going round there thanks to Gill phoning for a chat about things, and indeed I then spent the evening round at Seamus and Gill's, to help restore their computer to some semblance of normality after a hardware failure required a complete reinstall, to play a bit of pool and to give Abi a few hints on her really quite tricky maths homework.

So, working chronologically approximately backwards, that was about that - but as I said, there's still a little way to go, that hopefully won't involve getting too wet!

Not wet at all, in fact, since I invoked my better judgment and stayed on terra firma, quite happy to watch Doug and Rich whiz around getting their backs soaked. I'm thinking of buying a wetsuit and buoyancy aid, though - they're not too expensive, and I've been sailing several times in the last few years - so perhaps another time I might give it a go. The rest of the day was straightforward enough, with Sarah's friend's car safely dropped off after we'd had tea, and - as hoped - not leaving excessively late. This morning I had my meeting with Phil as expected, and he was delighted with the fact that the Java stuff is basically done, and has just asked me to run through it and make any odd changes I feel appropriate, before handing it over to him hopefully once and for all.

Starving myself today, in advance of this evening, when we're celebrating my colleague Tim's PhD at Elements oriental buffet. "We" sadly not including any of our unsociable colleagues, but instead a handful of Tim's Go-playing friends. So long as they don't talk shop all night, it'll be all right I'm sure. Four hours to survive - will I last..?

The short answer to that being a rather pathetic "no". However, at least I'll still be going along this evening, unlike half of Tim's friends, who couldn't make a firm decision even given a month's notice. Oh well - less Go players means less Go chat, I guess.

In the end, just one of Tim's friends turned up yesterday evening, but it was good fun nonetheless. Yes, there was quite a lot of Go chat, but it was mainly at a level I could relate to, particularly talking about artificial intelligence and so on in relation to the game. The food was as good as ever, indeed perhaps even better than I can remember, hard pushed to find things at the buffet we didn't want to try. A return trip is a definite possibility... Last night wasn't my best night's sleep ever, with the Chinese food having its usual effects on me - worth the bother, though - and a violent thunderstorm in the small hours of the morning to provide some light - literally - entertainment for a while.

Hopefully later today I will cut a CD-R of the Java software I've been doing, for Phil and others to run through in detail, and then this evening I should be round at Sarah's for tea before we try out the other current Vineyard house-group. This one is in Bletchley, and is apparently of a quite different style to the one we went to last week at the other end of town. My friends Rich and Shona are starting their own group in Willen soon, which should be interesting, and somewhat more local, though I'm not jumping to any conclusions about which I'll go to, or even whether I'll be joining the Vineyard at all, even if it does seem somewhat likely given their easy-going membership structure.

Online-shopping-itis strikes again, this time ordering an infra-red port for my PC - so it will talk to my mobile phone and save me a packet on internet access costs - and a nice big 32Mb memory card for my digital camera just in time for my planned holiday. Hopefully only one of the former will be delivered and charged for; the ordering site was decidedly flaky and seemed to double everything up, though a quick phone call to the company involved should hopefully have sorted that out before it was a problem. The memory card should be more straightforward, from a company I've used before without any hassle at all - I bought my card drive from them - even if their online ordering system is even more prehistoric!

Well M99, the people I ordered the infra-red port from, say my order has been rectified as requested and duly dispatched, so hopefully that's that sorted out. Meanwhile, there's not a lot going on here at work today - with my Java software handed over for scrutiny now I've sorted out a little deployment bug that had escaped various other people's notice - so I'm going to make my getaway pretty soon I think!

Off work again today; this is becoming just too much of a pattern...

So I've had a nice quiet, warm, lazyish - but not entirely slovenly - day, not particularly getting round to getting up properly, and certainly not venturing further than the front door. I was contemplating perhaps going for a walk in the cool of this evening, but I think if I carry on taking it easy, I stand a much better chance of being well for the weekend, and it's quite a busy one... My one real concession to being active today was to make quite a good stab at tidying my room, and also identifying a fair number of clothes that really have no further place in my wardrobe and drawers!

Back at work now, though, and feeling not too bad even if still a little coughy and congested. It's been a good weekend in the meantime though, though definitely a turning point as far as church involvement is concerned - it really is now just a matter of timing and method as to how I announce my departure from MKCF.

Early Saturday I got my shopping done, then picked up Sarah and Rachael from their friend's house in Bletchley before going on to the railway station to sort out some tickets and seat reservations for a little journey we're making towards the end of the month. We'd tried last weekend but they wouldn't let us make the reservations at that time, but no such problems on Saturday. It was far too hot a day to do anything too much else until the evening, when I'd promised I'd help move some awkward furniture around, which turned out to be quite enough hard work for the day... A gentle walk to the park provided a pleasant end to the proceedings, though I'd agreed I'd meet up with Darren for a pint at the Barge, which I thought should knock me out good and properly for the night.

Sadly I didn't get a particularly settled night's sleep, and I had to be up early to set out chairs at the school for the MKCF morning meeting, though for various reasons - political, tiredness and health-related - that was the extent of my morning's activities. However, I was quite surprised to get an e-mail from my friend Doug, inviting me once again to come up to Haversham for a possible picnic lunch and a quick sail. Still feeling a little under the weather, I decided I'd go for the picnic but once again stay on dry land, though I had no way of contacting him to make sure everything was happening as planned, so I just had to risk it. As it turned out, there was no problem at all, there was a small crowd of friend there, and against my better judgement I did eventually agree to go out on the water for a few minutes, which was good fun indeed.

Once again I needed to make a prompt getaway, though, with Sarah - who had been feeling decidedly more under the weather than me - deciding she wanted to go to the Vineyard evening meeting at the David Lloyd Centre, which turned out to be very good indeed. It was their first ever such meeting, having existed solely as a house church up until now, but like all their other events we'd been to so far, they seemed totally "real" and in touch, even if Matt and Jill's nerves were somewhat obvious! It was also good for Sarah's children, who never fitted in well at MKCF; being amongst the first children in the church, they will be able to have a lot of influence on the way things develop for them.

That was about it for the day and for the weekend, though, just relaxing for the rest of the day really, and finishing it off with ripe Stilton and a couple of glasses of wine with Mark.

Well one of my internet-ordered packages has now arrived - or rather I had to go and collect it from the Royal Mail depot at Brinklow because Milton Keynes's postal service has gone so far down the pan it's pretty much cleared the U-bend. Still no sign of the infra-red adapter, but I now have the 32Mb flash memory card I ordered from Sherwoods, and it seems quite happy with both my camera and the card drive on my PC. This means that my camera now has the astonishing capacity of an estimated 112 best quality JPEG images, compared to a mere 13 with the supplied 4Mb card. It's only an estimate because some pictures will compress more than others, the camera making most efficient use of the memory available, so in practice it's often possible to get at least half as many pictures again as it has predicted. Reducing the resolution and JPEG quality to their minimum would allow a startling estimated 484 pictures, but what's the point now, really?

What of today otherwise? Well it was quite a productive day at work, quickly ploughing through most of the first wave of Phil's change requests for my Java software, sorting out some stuff for the graphic designer assigned to help beautify it, and making a little more progress with my new Java project which I started yesterday. I'm still a little under the weather from before the weekend, coughing rather a lot now, but generally feeling not too bad. I can't say I'm too sorry not to have planned anything in particular for my birthday later this week, but it seems most people are busy anyway, so I might do something next week when I'll hopefully feel better and others can make it more easily. We'll see, though. I think last year I was just so depressed at the idea of turning thirty that I was quite willing to let others try and cheer me up by sorting out something on my behalf, but to be honest it really doesn't bother me much this time round.

Perhaps I should say a little more about my work, because I probably take it for granted readers know what I'm on about when no doubt they have even less of a clue than I have... The Java software I've been focussing on for the last few weeks is part of a new venture by the Open University to provide on-line "diagnostic tests" for potential students to self-assess their aptitude for certain courses. My particular software was a set of seventeen multiple-part questions on various aspects of chemistry and associated subject areas, which anyone will be able to access over the web or optionally from a CD-ROM, before deciding whether the S205 second-level chemistry course is really suitable for them. My software makes use of a Java framework created by my colleague Chris, which provides basic handling for various kinds of anticipated question structure, such as ones with drag-and-drop functionality, entering values into a data table, and so forth. To begin with, it really felt like I was just putting a predefined jigsaw together and tweaking the odd setting, but it certainly got more interesting as it progressed, and I definitely feel the software is "mine" now rather than just some variation on a theme by Chris.

Before that, I was concentrating on a generic suite of applications to assess and improve students' basic numeracy skills. This was not terribly exciting stuff, involving precious little actual development - not that vanilla C++ programming would have been much fun or a useful addition to my skill set anyway, to be honest - more just going through pre-existing software with a fine-toothed comb spotting errors and anything that might give away their more course-specific ancestry. The actual software seems well received though, and is a perennial favourite despite now looking decidedly dated compared with the more visually lavish applications we tend to produce these days now we have formal arrangements with our design studio for just about every project we undertake. Although it was pretty boring, it was probably a good project to get me back into the swing of programming, having barely even glanced at a source-code file in any language for getting on for a couple of years, thanks to various non-event projects since the big rush of stuff that was the S103 science foundation course to which I contributed chemical equilibrium and quantum physics applications.

My latest software, though, takes me back many years indeed, back to 1993 when I was studying for the HND I never actually completed - the possibility of transferring to a degree course proving much more interesting - and specifically when we had a team assignment to produce an implementation of Conway's classic "Game of Life". I was very pleased with what Simon and myself managed to come up with, and since it was pretty fast even on the sluggish machines of the day, it has always been interesting to test it out with the latest and greatest machines over the subsequent years. So it was that my colleague Jon remembered having seen it when I was his office-mate a few years ago, and when a Technology faculty project recently emerged to produce an implementation of the game in Java he immediately mentioned it to me. So that's what I'm working on now, although I'm largely redesigning it from the ground up rather than working from my old code. "Life" really isn't very complex once you strip away the user interface, and that was always going to have to be overhauled when programmed in an object-oriented language such as Java, rather than the Turbo Pascal I used in 1993 or the Turbo C a previous fallback option - in the unlikely event I can't come up with the goods in Java - version used. So far so good, though, with it running through the generations modestly quickly and looking quite attractive, and I'm hopeful that if I can concentrate on it, I should have a demonstrable prototype by the end of the week.

So that's my work at the moment, basically. What's in the pipeline? I'm not too sure to be honest, but I know there are a few more small projects from the same stable as the "Life" one, and I've made it pretty clear I'd like to focus on Java stuff for the time being, which should mean there's a ready supply of things to do - for both Science and Technology - for about as long as I want...

Right, that's another year down, though I don't really feel any older - least year was the psychologically traumatic one, after all. Cakes bought last night at Sainsburys duly deposited in the second-floor kitchen, departmental e-mail sent - even if the draconian mail server predictably removed all the nice Mr Men themed formatting I put on it, hey ho. Sarah's invited me to pop in this evening, en route to housegroup - not that she's going this time for one reason or another - and I also got a few family bits and pieces in the post this morning, so it's going to feel like at least a slightly special day I think!

Collected my infra-red adapter from the Brinklow office early this morning; I contacted M99 yesterday evening to ask where it might have got to, and they quickly replied to say that the Royal Mail had attempted to deliver it on Saturday and had notified the recipient that they had returned it to Brinklow. Needless to say, there had been no such notification, so it was just as well I contacted M99 when I did, or the package would have been returned to sender in a couple of days. All is sorted out now, though, and the lady at Brinklow was very helpful and able to confirm that it looked like it was their screw-up. Just hope it all works now!

Well the infra-red adapter works, although I found a few quirks along the way, most notably my phone's clock display deciding to stop updating for a while. I tested editing the graphics and ringtones, updating my phone-book, and of course connecting to the internet, and although it's a little clunky, it all basically does what it's supposed to. Oh, and I can wholeheartedly recommend M99, the people I bought the adapter from; their web site might seem offputting to some, but their service was top notch throughout after that initial hitch with the order quantities. Just a pity the same couldn't be said for the Royal Mail's service, but that's history now.

Worked fine at work, that is, but not at home. Or rather, not the bundled Handset Manager software anyway, even though the infra-red adapter functions fine as a modem link to connect to the internet. This suggests to me that there's a compatibility problem between Handset Manager and Windows 98SE, and at the recommendation of a newsgroup posting, I've just downloaded a recently updated version which I'll test out over the weekend. Although the internet access was the main thing I was after, being able to use Handset Manager to design graphics and compose ringtones was an important secondary issue since I promised Gareth a long time ago that I would create some stuff like that for Shine.

So I was up until some crazy hour last night trying and failing to get that working, with more torn hair and system restarts than I care to mention. That was on top of being out all evening anyway, first at Sarah's and then going on to the Vineyard housegroup in Bletchley. Both parts of the evening were somewhat birthday-themed, someone - and I can guess the likely culprit! - having tipped Matt and Jill off, even if the "cake" was "just" a plate of jaffa-cakes with a few candles stuck in! All very nice, though, and thoroughly indulgent, especially after more cake and so on at Sarah's only a little while earlier.

It meant I only managed five or six hours' sleep in the end, so I enjoyed a gentle start to today, but I still got a fair bit done this morning, improving the performance of my "Life" Java software fourfold and demonstrating it to Jon and the academic involved. Both were very pleased with it, even in the unpolished form it is at present, which gives me a real incentive to get it tidied up and the last few minor problems ironed out.

Hmm, it's being an odd Saturday somehow, though I can't quite put my finger on why. Despite further experimentation last night and this morning, I still couldn't persuade the infrared adapter to work properly with my PC, and the modem functionality later cut out too, so after getting an e-mail from M99 to say they could give me a refund, that went straight back in the post at lunchtime. What I'll get to replace it with I'm not entirely sure now, but it will definitely be a cable-based solution. I still maintain that had it worked properly, the infrared adapter would have been better than a cable, but I somehow trust a good traditional serial port connection to be somewhat less hassle to set up.

Further annoyance this morning was that when I went to print out the covering letter to M99, my printer wouldn't play ball, printing gibberish at best and otherwise just flashing meaningless lights at me. Whether this was associated with the failed attempts to get the infrared adapter working I'm not sure, but Sarah's said I can try the printer out with her PC when I go round for lunch tomorrow. I'm hoping it's the printer that's broken, to be honest, since it's one I was given for nothing and a bit troublesome anyway, and anything else would be likely to mean it's the PC itself that's at fault, given that raw printing from MS-DOS doesn't work either.

Any unhappiness was soon countered with a good dose of retail therapy this afternoon, though, now feeling at least slightly prepared for going away in a week's time. As such, I now have a nice beach towel, loads of sun-cream and so on - well here's hoping! - and a new pair of sunglasses to replace my utterly worn out ones that finally broke last year. Trying to find sunglasses that really suited me turned out to be quite a challenge, so it was a decidedly pleasant surprise to find a pair that I quite liked for a mere five pounds in Superdrug.

I'm really looking forward to the holiday now it's pretty much sorted out and I have just about everything I need for it. I suppose I should say what it is I'm doing, if only to prevent wild speculation. Basically, Sarah's dad and stepmum have invited me to stay at their house in Newquay for a week, to give Sarah some extra help while she's down there and simply because they would like to meet me - though Sarah has made it very clear to them where we stand, lest they start getting any ideas. Sarah's going to be staying elsewhere nearby with the children, so it's completely above board, and it gives me some flexibility as to how much time I choose to spend with whom. My friend Jo has also invited me to visit at her new house in Truro, and has offered to drive over to Newquay to collect me, so that will provide another useful escape at some point during the week.

Anyway, it's nearly tea-time now and I've barely eaten today, so I think I'm going to cook myself up some good stodgy pasta with the usual accompaniments. Oh, that reminds me, yes, yet further annoyance this morning was having to spend about half an hour evicting ants from my food cupboard. This afternoon some ants seemed to have returned, but I'm pretty sure all my food is now safe, but I must persuade Matt to do similarly to his side of the cupboard since I suspect that was where they all took cover while I was clearing out my bit.

And then I decided I'd go home to my parents' for a while, to show them a few more of the ropes of their new computer. Still didn't really get time to do everything I wanted - and we had a few too many visitations from Microsoft's "blue screen of death" for my liking - but it was still a useful opportunity and I arrived back in Milton Keynes for a late Sunday lunch chez Sarah. They had to go out late afternoon, so I thought I would go for a walk while the weather was so pleasant, but got no further than Seamus and Gill's where I stayed for what turned out to be the second roast of the day... Back at work now though, and I'd better sort out a little Java security problem that bit last thing Friday - so bye for now!

The Java problem is duly sorted out, though I encountered a few inconsistencies in Java's security model along the way - why allow pasting from the system clipboard into the main applet window, but not into pop-up dialogue boxes? It's probably better for being how it now is anyway, and all that's really left to do is to drastically tidy the code up.

Yesterday's usual flurry of e-mails to sort out my regular Monday meal out with Dave and Darren ended somewhat inconclusively, with the Sizzling Wok looking the most likely destination, but Darren seeming somewhat non-committal about it. "I was hoping for pizza", he belatedly said - so to pizza the plan changed at the last minute, and although we had perhaps our longest ever wait for our food, Ask was well up to scratch otherwise.

Later last night I finally formally left MKCF, though there are still a few people I need to let know for practical reasons, and tonight I'll be going to my first "serious" meeting with the Vineyard, a worship seminar with Vicky Beeching. It will be interesting to hear more about the Vineyard's vision for worship, and Vicky is an accomplished musician and worship leader in her own right, so I'm sure it will be a good evening.

I had been hoping to keep quiet at least for the time being about my musical leanings, but Shona brought up the topic in conversation with Jill the other day, so I might as well go with the flow now... Mind you, the church is not yet really set up for a full-on worship band, with a distinct lack of PA equipment and so on, but I understand that's something they are planning on resolving over the summer, and by then I may feel more like getting involved with that side of things by my own volition anyway!

The worship seminar last night was quite interesting, and indeed even for those more seasoned leaders amongst our number it was clearly useful, especially since the Milton Keynes Vineyard has little experience of anything more than small-group worship but will be developing that side of things very soon. Nothing that was said came as too much of a surprise really, but it was good to hear from someone with that kind of track record, and Vicky led half an hour of cracking worship too, kicking off with her best known song, the rousing "There's no-one like our God". I also had an interesting chat with Vicky's sidekick, also called Vicky, who it turns out used to live literally just round the corner from where I grew up!

I was a little annoyed to get a package in the post yesterday - or rather, yet another non-delivery card, with a trip to Brinklow necessary this morning - namely another infra-red adapter for my PC. Now the company involved had agreed to offer me a refund, but instead they've sent me a replacement, albeit a rather more recent version in different packaging. However, I doubt the hardware will have changed, and the version of the software I downloaded from the web before is even newer anyway, so I really don't have very high hopes it will work at home any better than the last one. I'll give it a try though, certainly, but I'm pretty sure it will be following the last one back to M99 the next time I can get to the post office...

Today's been quite good so far, though, getting this Java "Life" applet just about complete - and just as well since tomorrow's my last day at work for a week or so. It's been decided that all the applets for this particular course should use buttons rather than menus, which could have been a bit of a pain at this stage, but thankfully yesterday's architectural tidy-up meant it was nowhere near as onerous as it could have been, and I have to admit my applet looks better for the changes. Of course, this means Jeff the academic has got to amend his documentation since he'd written it with menus in mind, but it shouldn't take him too long, and all the screen-shots need re-doing anyway since he was working with a very rough prototype.

Unsurprisingly, no real success with the replacement infra-red adapter, so I'll be making yet another trip to the post office tomorrow to get that sent back to M99 before I go on holiday. Further research on Usenet seems to imply that there are real problems with that particular model of adapter and Windows 98, especially Windows 98SE which I have at home, with the author of the well respected LogoManager handset management software suggesting there's hardly any point in even trying! Quotes like "I have never seen anything quite as bad as this" simply cannot inspire much confidence of even the possibility of success.

Anyway, it's my last day at work today, having booked tomorrow off too since I'm not otherwise going to have much chance to get packed for my holiday. That's because tonight I'm off for a boat trip with the Vineyard, an hour on the Grand Union canal from Leighton Buzzard! Should be a lot of fun, especially since there's a bar on-board, though of course since I'll be driving and carrying passengers, I'll be sticking strictly to the Diet Cokes I'm sure.

Wow, it's so nice to be able to enjoy the gentle smells of spring without itching and streaming like a mad thing. Of course, conditions may well yet get worse, but so far the Beconase nasal spray I bought seems to be working wonders - and really good value too compared with any of the half-decent antihistamine tablets available over the counter. Hopefully the sea air next week will do a lot of good too; actually being able to unreservedly appreciate this time of year will be quite a novelty.

A bit of a frustrating afternoon, really, hurriedly trying to get the current version of my "Life" software into a presentable state on the development server. It all went pear-shaped when I tried to change one of the package names, with a bizarre bug popping into existence out of nowhere, and many other problems conspiring to stop me getting away from here in good time. I think it's all resolved now, even if my applet will not run over the network for some strange reason, but it's going to go on a CD-ROM in the end so it doesn't matter too much. Anyway, I'm done now, so unless anything major happens in the next ten minutes, I'm out of here...

Right, busy day coming up packing and so on, so if I don't get another chance to say hello, have a good week... Oh, and last night's boat trip was good fun indeed - and not the last time we do something of that ilk, either!

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