goznet ...

David's diary: October 2001

And now back at work, having spent the morning ploughing through about 130 e-mails, not even including the mailing lists I'm signed up to... I gather Phil wants to see me, so I'm going to take another wander up the corridor to see if he's back from lunch yet!

"Come back in half an hour", he asked. So that's what I'd better do I guess!

I survived. Phil seemed quite pleased with my work. And annoyed with the academic's stupid comments. One question he's asked me to revert to back-ups for, since I changed it in line with the academic's requests... Got about three or four not-too-major - or so I hope! - things to do to it, before handing it over hopefully once and for all later this week.

Ever get the impression some people are only friendly and charitable because of what they want back from you? I'm sure I'm wrong, but it's not doing certain alleged friends any good reputation-wise, nor their chances of actually getting what they want from me, of course... I wasn't born yesterday, funnily enough.

Thankfully I have the excuse that I am very busy this week as it is, and any spare time I do have I'm not very likely to spend doing anything other than relaxing or playing. So although it is true that I certainly do hope to have Shine's on-line shopping system up and running by next weekend - as I did indeed promise as far as possible - I'm certainly not going to be swayed by the revelation that they've apparently already told loads of people about it and are already "losing sales" with every day it's not done. I've heard enough stories like this with regard to paid work people do, that I'm definitely not going to lose any sleep over this goodwill effort. Not the first time the person involved has overstepped the mark in this regard either, nor is it the only way in which they have quite majorly hacked me off in the last week. I wonder if I can get Mark to send a little text message again like last time...

Today's been productive at work, though, getting what I hope to be the most major final change to the S205 diagnostic test software complete, as discussed with Phil yesterday. Specifically, I've written - with a little help from programming guru Sam - a nice little class to allow reading and writing of Windows INI files by Java applications. This will allow the diagnostic test to log its progress in an industry-standard way, so that the C++ programs in the suite can understand what it's on about. The end result may not look particularly impressive - in fact the only visible change is a little red progress bar in the launcher software - but I've written the Java class sufficiently generically that it should be useful to many other people here! There's a few little bits to go - and one may be a little tricky - but this all bodes well for getting this finally out of the door by the end of the week!

Wow, all but one bit to go now! That being a slightly tricky fudge to ensure that some random numbers generated will produce an intermediate result with three significant figures when multiplied. Mind you, Phil's kindly provided me with a six step algorithm to do so, so I really don't anticipate any problem.

Oh no, save me from the evil aliens! There's an alarm that's gone on for the last five minutes somewhere on campus that sounds exactly like the siren from Galaxians... Should I expect to be dive-bombed any moment now?

Successfully reworked that random number generator, but I really couldn't believe what a screw-up the previous developer had made. Indeed their algorithm pretty much guaranteed to produce multiples with only two significant figures, by virtue of insisting that one number should end with a five and the other with an even number! All fixed now, though, and seems to work most beautifully... Hmm, I wonder what I should work on now? And don't say "Shine website" - this is work time, OK? Probably do that this evening, all being well and barring any invitations to visit proper friends etc.

Yes, done that Shine site update - or at least as much as I could, given the incomplete and inaccurate information with which I was of course provided. I don't know when I'll next get a chance to work on the site, so when I'll be able to fill in the gaps and get this ready to go public is anyone's guess - and certainly not my problem. Please remind me of that latter fact should I show even the slightest sign of stress over this in the coming few days.

Further confirmation of who my friends aren't. Just wish I'd get a little bit of an inkling sometimes as to which of them are. Not a terribly good evening.

"You know what? I'm happy." -- Droopy

Time to go home, anyway - been a good day at work though. Had tandoori chicken legs and naan bread for lunch, so suppose tea ought to be a light one really...

A reasonable evening, and certainly a busy one. When I got home from work, I found that Darren had duly dropped off the new Shine photos I needed to complete the website update so I scanned those in and did a bit of Photoshop trickery to present them as I wanted, and adjusted the HTML accordingly. I also added a "test payment" feature, to pay Shine the princely sum of a cent in order to verify that the on-line ordering system was working, and this morning I was able to go through the rather tedious registration process - not our system, I hasten to add - to give that a whirl. Then it was time to go on to Open House - the Vineyard's term for "house group" - for the first time in several weeks due to holidays, illness and whatnot. Good to catch up with friends, and meet some new people too - even if in a way they were people I should have known for years, bizarrely. Next week's going to be a bit odd, because not only have Alex and I agreed to organise the meeting, which will most likely happen at Alex's abode in Stony, but I'm also probably going to be house sitting for Matt and Jill while they're away. No evening net access for a week, almost certainly - what bliss!

There's a bug in my conversion from someone else's Fortran into Java. Have I really got a hope in a very hot place of actually tracking it down? Errrm...

No joy yet, anyway!

Sussed it finally - and hats off to Java in the process for picking up on a long-standing array bounds issue that C++ clearly couldn't care two hoots about. It's really not a good idea to try and access element 15 in an array with elements numbered 0 to 14, you know... Thankfully the first character of the unwitting victim localResp[80] didn't mind being abused in this way!

Oh, and before anyone wonders how Fortran has mysteriously mutated into C++ - not that anyone reads this diary closely enough to notice - I should say that I was working from the C++ code, which was pretty much literally translated from the original Fortran, complete with nasty spaghetti-code GOTOs. I refer to the C++ source - as indeed its author Phil does - as Fortran code because it's only the syntax which differs, and it's certainly no less evil in its structure.

And back to square one I go, relationship-wise... Actually saw this one coming from a mile off, and in a way it was kind of a relief to have it confirmed. I guess this is partly why I've been a bit cautious about saying anything much, to be honest, especially given past similar experience and our agreement that we weren't going to be jumping to any hasty conclusions about the practicality of it all. Thankfully I have a couple of back-up plans up my sleeve, but I probably oughtn't act too quickly, for hopefully obvious reasons!

I lied. Back-up plan already initiated. Crack special forces troops are already behind "enemy lines" as we speak, preparing the ground for a full scale assault on this pitiful existence of mine.

Just a flying visit, taking a little break from house-sitting while some potential buyers for Matt and Jill's house have a snoop around with the estate agent. Good thing I did the washing up and gave it a thorough hoovering this morning - I think Matt and Jill must have left in a bit of a hurry yesterday!

Not sure whether the prospective buyers visited yesterday morning or not in the end, since I certainly wasn't around at the time. The estate agent should have had a key anyway, so that was no problem, but I couldn't see any obvious sign that anyone had been in while I was out, so I really don't know. I'm sure Matt and Jill will appreciate the hoovering anyway, and it's quite possible there will be other visits during the week anyway, and the estate agents have been asked to phone me at work first just to warn me.

Yesterday was a busy day, not entirely too fun, but not too bad I guess! Wanting to be out of the house in good time I volunteered to give Sarah a lift down to Water Eaton to do her cleaning job, then spent a couple of hours back at home checking e-mail and collating my holiday photos properly, before collecting Sarah once again and returning to hers for lunch. We'd hoped to go for a walk in the afternoon, but the weather really didn't play ball. Sadly it didn't completely curtail things, because Claire wasn't feeling well enough to do her paper round, so guess who ended up doing that for her, in the pouring rain...

Didn't stay exceptionally late - even with a rather disastrous game of Canasta - but it was still pushing midnight by the time I got to bed back at Matt and Jill's, after a couple of "emergency" text messages. Back at work this morning, though, having fought through the traffic jams for about a quarter of an hour - I really think I must be very fortunate living where I normally do, because I get a pretty much clear run in most days!

Tsk - it seems that "our" laptops here are no longer actually ours, but now - rightly enough - departmental assets. Assuming anyone knows where they are anyway; they certainly didn't last time the issue reared its head. Was hoping I might take one to Matt and Jill's with me this week, but I really can't be bothered if I'm going to have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to do so.

Maybe not so many hoops after all... "Come and collect it when you want, Dave" - though needless to say, no-one's around right now.

Got it now, and I've successfully installed the Nokia modem software and MSN Messenger. Seems to have Telnet too - now do I install PuTTY as well for good measure? Answers on a postcard to the usual address. Actually, too late...

So, with tonight's pizza sitting heavily in my stomach, here I am, spodding from Matt and Jill's on that work laptop via my mobile. Not going to type too much though, because I find the keyboard a mite awkward, especially when I keep hitting the # key instead of return all the time! Far fewer extraneous capital letters typed, though, pleased to say, so it's certainly not all bad...

Kroz is quite right - today is going way too slowly.

Now my office-mate Tim has just independently commented exactly the same. Time isn't linear, and there's the concrete proof.

Still only 3.30pm, apparently. I'm sure it was later than that last time I looked... Hey, maybe if this goes on long enough Einstein will un-die and can explain - albeit backwards - what the heck's going on.

This is getting beyond a joke now.

Still, in an hour and thirty long minutes it will be time to go home, assuming we don't all decide to leave early anyway. If we all ran round the office really quickly for a bit, would relativistic effects help or hinder us? Or actually do no help at all, come to think of it, since office time would be unaffected? But it might be fun to try anyway, and clearing the furniture out of the way to prevent any injuries would kill a bit more time in the process.

Cinema trip tonight, though; that's something to look forward to, I guess.

Well, tidied my desk anyway, since S205's pretty much out of the way now. That used ten minutes or so. An hour and a quarter to go now...

We've decided to clear off at five. That's eleven minutes away. Who needs Einstein when we're just a bunch of part-timers anyway?

Last night's cinema trip was most splendid. Just Tim, Sam and myself in the end, but it was well worth the effort. We went to see "Enigma", about the code-breaking efforts during the war, particularly from a local interest point of view, living as we do just a couple of miles away from Bletchley Park where it all happened. What a great film, though - fast moving, and with a pretty much perfect blend of history, action, geeky stuff, unslushy romance, comedy and sheer humanity. And a refreshingly different portrayal of the American military, no doubt perfectly deliberate after the travesty of "U-571" and its attempt - much as they denied it at the time - to rewrite history. Really couldn't fault "Enigma" though, to be perfectly honest...

Thankfully today's moving a little faster than yesterday.

Pigging myself on pistachios. Nothing like an impulse purchase, is there?

I've had a couple of days effectively off Mono, probably for my own and many others' good. If you want to know why I initially left - and why I eventually decided to make this not particularly triumphal return - you know where to look. This matter will not be discussed further here.

Hmm, away from Mono and work, it's been a vaguely interesting last couple of days, culminating with yesterday evening and Open House. I suppose I could have hosted it at Matt and Jill's, but before I had agreed to house-sit for them, we had already arranged to have it at Alex's in Stony Stratford, and that did indeed come to pass. I'd been shopping at Safeway on Wednesday for a few bits and pieces for us to eat - and a couple of wine-boxes for me, a rare treat - and had also devised some vague plan of an activity for us to kick the evening off with. But as it happened in the end it was just Sarah, Alex and myself there, so although most of the food disappeared, we didn't do much else than chat really. But it was a most pleasant evening and time flew by - and we were a little late wrapping things up really.

And then, once home... Well, it looks like I might well be paying Burnham a somewhat unanticipated visit - or vice versa - tomorrow evening, but I'm not sure yet. Really not sure about this at all, to be perfectly frank. I don't honestly feel too hurt by what's happened or been said, though I would be more than a little apprehensive about drawing it out further under the current climate. I guess if we really can both be open-minded - and that means more than words - then it will be worthwhile whatever the outcome, but history isn't in our favour to be honest. But... But... Oh, I really don't know. Plenty to keep me busy before then, anyway, what with a worship band practice tonight - playing at church Sunday evening, once again! - and helping ferry Shine to Luton airport early tomorrow morning. Fun fun fun!

Warmest October day for many a year, this was supposed to be today. I didn't bring my thermometer with with, oddly enough, so can't confirm that as fact, but I would agree it's pretty lovely out. Still very damp in the long grass, though, as we discovered on what I suspect might be one of our last lunchtime walks this year. Back to work now though, I guess, pressing on with the S204 diagnostic test software, now that the S205 one's out of the way...

Not much fun having been up since six this morning to do the airport run for Shine. Still, at least we left Darren's promptly enough; past experience had been less positive and I warned in no uncertain terms how I was going to feel if there was any hint of a repeat performance. No such problem today, though, and I was back in Milton Keynes long before I'd normally have been getting up in the first place. But now? Well I've just had a bath, and am going to start packing my stuff, since Matt and Jill return today. Seems like tonight's rendez-vous is a straightforward one for me, with the Barge looking our most likely destination as probably one of the quieter places on a Saturday night. What the outcome will be, I have not the foggiest idea, but I care enough about everyone concerned that I will cooperate and make it worth our whiles...

A reasonably fun day so far, in advance of this evening's unknowns. Met up with Sarah and Rachael at Woolworths for lunch - not bad for bulk-cooked chicken bhuna, though the others had jacket potatoes - and will be going out for an afternoon stroll with them in a short while. In between, I finally managed to find my car-tax rebate form; only a few months after I received it, but should now get a cheque for over fifty quid in due course, which is certainly not to be sniffed at! Better be getting on now though...

Survived both afternoon and evening. And none the wiser regarding the latter - but a most pleasant time had by all nonetheless. Fit to drop now though.

Eleven o'clock, and still way too early to be up. And I've got a headache.

The latter no doubt due to dehydration, since I almost passed out a few minutes ago, as it occurred to me I'd barely had anything proper to drink in the last 24 hours. "Proper" obviously not including a half of Theakstons, a glass of Fitou red and a pint and a half of Bass; man cannot live on alcohol alone...

Worship went well at church this evening, even if Rich didn't seem to agree - though it would indeed have been nice to have a slightly more enthusiastic response for the Happy Song. A slightly fraught time after that, though, running Sarah and three very tired and somewhat fractious girls home and stopping off for a glass of wine, a bite of supper and a good natter about the challenges life's throwing at us. Back at my home now, and just cleaned up the borrowed work laptop of anything vaguely private in advance of giving it back tomorrow. I'm utterly shattered, though, and I need to be up in good time to run my housemate Matt to the coach stop in the morning before work, so I'm not going to last much longer...

The run to the coach stop was nowhere near as busy as I'd feared, and I waved Matt on his way on his European "tour" in much better time than I'd expected. You see, the coach stop is on the other side of a dual carriageway, with no gap in the central reservation, so we had to go all the way round the M1 Junction 14 interchange to get there - and you can imagine what that can get like sometimes at rush hour! But no such problem today, but still found that my colleague Ross - no, not my neighbour Ross, another one - had swiped the last space in my preferred car-park when I got here to work...

Should I, or should I not, place an order with Play247 for "Dark Star" on DVD? Before advising, please bear in mind:

  • I'm still waiting for Play247 even to process my order for two Jars of Clay CDs placed a week ago
  • I might have overly rose-tinted memories of a film I've only ever actually seen half of, and had spaceships suspended by clearly visible strings

So... Answers on a u2u postcard, please.

Oh, and please bear in mind I'm mainly to be found on Monodot - the development version of Monochrome - these days. As such, I won't be able to read your replies unless you grace us heroic trend-setters with your presence here...

Or should that be "there", rather than "here"? Depends on your point of reference in comparison to mine, I guess. And where am I right now anyway..?

With Darren and Shine not eventually getting home until way into the small hours of the morning due to a massively delayed flight, there wasn't much likelihood of a pizza outing this evening - and indeed there wasn't. So instead I spent my time fixing and testing Sarah's computer speakers, which had been wrecked by some small urchin with a pair of scissors. A bit fiddly to solder, but I got there in the end and tested them with an ages-old minidisc recording of me jamming on guitar. Really must get back into playing again; the recording was nowhere near as bad as I'd vaguely remembered it!

No responses at all to my question about "Dark Star". Going to do any better if I ask the same question about Wallace and Gromit's "3 Cracking Adventures" DVD? Though I think my mind is already made up, as it happens... Click!

Much to the dismay of teetotallers - or is it "teetotalitarians"? - a glass of red wine every day is now pretty much universally accepted to be actively good for our health. White wine isn't supposed to be quite as effective, so hopefully having two glasses with my pesto pasta and jaffa-cake tea made up for that. Definitely a good idea getting a couple of boxes of wine the other day - one white, one red - so I can have a glass whenever it takes my fancy. Suddenly I feel all refined, cultured and civilised, like - if you know what I mean, me old chinas?

I really don't know what to make of last night, I really don't... Part of me wants to shout from the rooftops, whilst another wants to curl up and withdraw. It's amazing how effectively some people can rain on a perfectly good parade.

Anyway, nearly time to go home. Been a reasonable day, as they go, I guess...

Are the faint embers of my love-life stirring in the ashes? Will the bellows of my good intent prompt a phoenix-like resurrection or a snuffing out forever? Find out soon, in the next enthralling episode... Maybe! But no promises.

Not yet, anyway - not that I have anything else to write about, though. Except the highly unexciting news that I only just avoided oversleeping this morning.

Excuse me one moment while I have a small rant.

I decided to return to Monochrome with a somewhat different point of view and tolerance of others and their irrational attitudes, but it's plainly done not the slightest bit of good. Those who used to hack me off still do so, and if anything they seem to have got worse, and forgotten the value of friendship into the bargain. There are those who seem to have hair triggers on their offence-taking mechanisms, and in case they hadn't sussed it yet, they are ruining Monochrome from the inside out. They bleat on about the "good of Monochrome" and their extreme and blameless virtuosity, when they should just take a look in the mirror for a brief instant and see the hypocrites they are. I really don't give a flying one whether anyone to whom I allude gets to read this, nor what their reaction may be in - as usual - paranoidly assuming it's them I'm talking about. If the cap fits, wear it, though. And if you want to leave this place, good riddance; you plainly couldn't really care less, so nor do the rest of us, frankly. Monochrome will be a better place for it, believe me. Do us one last favour, OK?

Rant over. And rest.

But just to prove I can be a fountain of peace, calm and cute fluffiness too, unlike some, whose very veins seem to flow with pure vitriol...

             / \aa\_
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     ((.------`"=(          /,`.-'`'    -.  ;-;;,_
      \   \      |o        |,4-  ) )-,_..;\ (  `'-'
      /)  /__\  /         '---''(_/--'  `-'\_)  fL
     / \ \_  / /|
 jgs \_)\__) \_)_)

Oh, and a gentle word about Monodot, if I may? For those not in the know - or reading this when it's up on the web in a few weeks' time - Monodot is the in-development version of Monochrome, the bulletin board system on which this diary originated. There's not been an update to the live Monochrome code for several years, but Monodot gets revised frequently by its tireless developer. A tireless developer who is no doubt encouraged no end by the knowledge that someone, somewhere out there, does actually give a stuff about what he's doing. Yet about 99% of Monochrome's users clearly don't really give that vital stuff, and would rather carry on using the years-old and undeniably rather buggy version we've currently got live, rather than invest even a few minutes of their time in progressing the future. "But I use Monochrome quite enough already!" some indignantly protest as they dig their holes still deeper. Well why not use Monodot instead? Testing doesn't necessarily mean sitting with a bug-report form and the source code in front of you, checking a particular function against five thousand different unlikely input conditions. In this case, it means just using it in the manner you are accustomed to using "proper" Monochrome - barring any bugs, all your favourite files are exactly the same on both systems - and making sure it behaves as you would expect. Even if only for a few minutes once in a while. Is that really so very much to ask?

Please feel free now to return to gentle thoughts of puppies and kittens.

And of the following friendly helpful fluffy people, if cute animals aren't your particular cup of tea:

daisy, shamus, gozza, bjh, herring, anam, worm, quaestor, karuvel, rik, nightjar, alexis, socrates, quinlank, jazz, boneist, tjfas, urchin, mayday, fade, azzog, imp, aahz, krush, splicer, del, live, starry, big-pete, stevo, gooey, kyrian, ken_d, armchair, reflex, flippy, tugs, ritchie, ponder, sycamore, icarus, robbob, docu, ayeaye, frood, phyphor, wacko, mormegil, thunder, mwxutbi, mercenar, stig, culf, lust, tackline, abs, string, nogs, unc, anakin and psyco

If you're not on that list, it doesn't necessarily automatically mean that you're not friendly, helpful or fluffy. At least not in every case, anyway!

I believe the phoenix's wings are beginning to unfurl... Wouldn't be fair to say any more than that at present, being still way too early days - and the forthcoming half term week's not likely to help much. But watch this space anyway.

Open House was pretty reasonable last night, and fairly free-flowing as such things go. Came away with the CD-R recording of last Sunday evening's worship, which was quite interesting since I've never actually heard myself playing live as such; certainly revealed a few areas that could use improvement!

Talking of CDs, my Jars of Clay discs arrived from Play247 yesterday, hopefully to be followed very shortly by the Wallace and Gromit DVD. I would have to say that neither is quite up to the standard of the Jars' first and eponymous album, with "Much afraid" being particularly bland on a first listen, though "If I left the zoo" did at least have some of their more traditional fun attitude to it and I suspect will grow on me.

Anyway, it's Friday, and the weekend is thankfully nearly upon us once again. Not quite sure what my plan of action is, though I'm out tomorrow evening for a meal at the Barge with Sarah and her dad and step-mum who're visiting for the weekend, which should be fun enough. For now, on with work, though...

Just sooooo tired this afternoon though. I dare not close my eyes for fear that I mightn't see what I'm typing.

Ordered some more memory for my parents' PC. Not fair - they're going to have 128 Mb more RAM than me, on top of the extra 316 MHz they already outdo me by!

Two minutes to go, then it's the weekend, pretty much! Yay! About time too...

Back at home, and listening again to both Jars of Clay CDs as I wait for a reply from Darren regarding our previously suggested pub trip this evening. "Much afraid" is actually growing on me now, and I feel I may have done it a bit of an injustice earlier; it's still very different to the first and third albums, but I've decided it's no worse after all. Well, just had a phone-call from Darren, and he's still shattered from last weekend's travelling, and I'm pretty bushed too - and would seem to have a busy day coming up tomorrow - so I think I'll have a nice quiet evening and a long hot bath instead. Good news though is that all our effort on the Shine website is paying off, with Darren reporting a healthy flow of orders, including a good proportion via the new on-line payment facilities.

Oh, and predictably enough, Wallace and Gromit are spending the weekend at the Royal Mail depot at Brinklow. I hope they get treated well there!

In the end, Mark decided he'd come out to play, so we went to the Barge for a couple of pints. Last chance before he goes away to Dubai for the week on Monday - and yes, I'm giving him a lift to Heathrow... Back to the Barge tomorrow night too for that meal with Sarah, Charles and Sylvia, and I've agreed to have lunch with them too, so I'd better be heading to bed if I'm to be conscious in time in the morning to do everything else I need to do!

After a bit of a sleepless night, I'm tired to the point of mild nausea, but get up I must, so... Maybe a bit of breakfast in me will help sort things out. Just maybe. Will try, anyway!

Feeling much better now, thanks, but must press on!

Morning greetings from the land of the midnight sun. Or actually, more the land of the four-o'clock-in-the-morning vehicular fireball, this sadly being nowhere more exotic than good old Milton Keynes - even if the pall of black smoke was more reminiscent of other places in the news lately. No, I wasn't getting a good night's sleep as it was, before what peace eventually descended outside last night was shattered by a series of explosions, and my sleepiness had to be quickly overcome to coherently phone the fire brigade. As it turned out, I wasn't the first to have done so, though there wasn't much left to attend to by the time they arrived outside the shop over the road. Looking across there in daylight now, the blackened shell of the car is upturned, which might at least possibly mean it was a dumped vehicle that got the Nordic funeral treatment rather than just some unfortunate member of the public's who's going to get a rather nasty shock around about now. Just really cheering for the first night of the half-term holiday; I knew we got off lightly over the summer compared with last year. Hey everyone, come and live in Milton Keynes, it's really great.

As for yesterday, well I think all agreed it went really well, with the fears shared by a few turning out to be little to worry about. I joined Sarah and complete family for a fairly light lunch - chicken drumsticks and ravioli - just as Charles was putting the final touches to an improved computer desk for them, then enjoyed a fairly relaxed afternoon chatting and maintaining the peace. Charles, Sylvia and Sarah all took a nap at one point or another, and I agreed I would walk the younger girls up to the park for a little while to let off some steam, which worked out well, and by the time we were back home it was time to wait for the babysitter and get ready to go out for the evening. The Barge was busy as expected but we had no real trouble finding a suitable table, and service was exemplary and quick throughout. I had a chicken Caesar salad, which I'd have to say was one of the most delicious meals I can recall, and plenty of it too! We weren't very late back at Sarah's, to relieve Anne of her sterling duties and wave Charles and Sylvia on their way back to the local hotel they wisely opted to stay at. Everyone was very tired, so with the girls packed off to bed, I was swiftly on my way, for a night that really should have brought an awful lot more sleep, but that simply wasn't to be...

And now? Well I'm not likely to get any more sleep just yet, not being at all good at sleeping during the day, but I have nothing much planned for the day so I can take it as it comes, really. It's now pouring with rain outside - wish it could have doing been the same four or five hours ago! - so I doubt I'll be missing out on much to be honest. I will need a restful day, though, since I need to be out of the house by six tomorrow morning to take Mark to Heathrow, so if there's any repeat performance of last night, goodness only knows what I'll do!

Car's still there. No doubt it'll be a designated adventure playground by the end of the week if past performance in this glorious city is anything to go by.

No sign of movement, but at least terrorist involvement has now been ruled out.

Didn't see whether the burnt out car was there this morning - way too dark when we left for Heathrow at six - but it was still there late last night, so I doubt anything would have changed in the meantime. The journey down to the airport was a mixed affair, ranging from 70mph to standstill, and it took us pushing on two hours. Flying with Gulf Air, Mark had understandably been requested to arrive early for checking in, and he was a bit later than planned in the end, but he texted me a little while ago to say he was boarding, so all was well. Apart from missing the M25 turn from the M4 - no idea how that happened! - the run back to Milton Keynes was fast and simple, calling in at the Brinklow Royal Mail depot on the way to collect my Wallace and Gromit DVD before arriving at work only about twenty minutes late. So, altogether too little sleep this weekend - and no comment on being woken up at about midnight last night - and keeling over already. I sense an intentionally quiet day coming up!

Just turned eleven o'clock, and my first serious yawn of the day. Not bad.

This afternoon's going to drag, I can tell it already. Not helped by the running commentary I'm getting by text message from a friend having a day out at Thorpe Park! Still, at least I'm staying dry in my soporific office.

Watching "A Grand Day Out" up until the rocket launch passed a few minutes, though - as well as installing DVD-playing software capable of doing so!

A busy evening, yesterday, which I probably little needed having been up since whatever ridiculous hour in the morning, but hey, at least I got a modestly good night's sleep even if I did wake up with a coughing fit having dreamt I'd got something stuck in my throat. I'd promised I'd buy Mark a couple of new bulbs for his video projector, so having double-checked the type required, I drove to Maplins and relieved them of their remaining stock of them and bought a few more CD-Rs and a couple of other bits and pieces. Then watched "A Grand Day Out" in its full - well as full as possible under the domestic circumstances - cinematic glory, before joining Darren for a meal at Pizza Hut. Stopped off at Darren's on the way back to take a look at a budget PC he'd bought and was setting up for a friend, since I'm thinking of getting something similar for my sister's family, and I was pleasantly surprised how respectable it was. Then back home for what was intended to be an early night, but got caught up in a couple of slightly fraught phone and internet chat conversations before deciding I really could use a nice hot bath to suitably relax me before bed. Oh, and the upturned burned out adventure playground of a car is still there, by the way.

And another busy evening coming up tonight, going down to visit my brother and his new girlfriend who're house-sitting for my parents this week. Will also be taking the opportunity to fit the memory upgrade for my parents' PC, which arrived this morning while I was unusually actually around to sign for it, along with my car tax rebate cheque which arrived much quicker than I'd ever expected and nicely covers a few recent expenditures. Applying for the latter much later than requested evidently meant I missed the rush, and it only took a little over a week to process in the end!

Oh, I should say - in the ten seconds between the postman knocking and his handing me the package with the computer memory, he'd already neatly written out the non-delivery card, which he invited me to bin. Well, the Royal Mail would obviously like us to believe that, rather than that he'd already assumed he wasn't going to get a response and had it written out ready beforehand. No wonder it sometimes seems easier for them just to drop the card through the door than even bother "wasting their time" knocking even at reasonable hours, as has been the case on at least a couple of occasions lately...

Why is life so flipping complicated? Actually, I know the answer, but it's not terribly heartening or helpful in the short term. But I know what's right and proper shall ultimately prevail - it just might take some time...

I'm getting to love Java these days. So long as it's not someone else's code I happen to be debugging at the time. Someone, that is, who misunderstands the fundamentals of applet-writing - other than avoiding like the plague of course.

Well it's the 24th really now, but a fabby evening anyway. Must get sleep!

Insufficient sleep, ultimately, though, and presently conscious only by the grace of God, Coca-Cola & Schweppes Beverages Ltd and a ready supply of extra-strength Paracetamol. Definitely glad I decided against inviting friends around tonight rather than Friday; I honestly doubt I'll be good for anything much more than supper, bath and bed when I get in from work tonight... But yes, last night visiting my brother and girlfriend was a really most pleasant time, with them cooking up a lovely pasta dish for us all, and chatting our way into the small hours of the morning with great ease. I also fitted the computer memory as planned, and we looked at my recent holiday photos I'd popped on a CD-R particularly for my mum and dad when they get back, then had a good laugh at some of the atrocious bike shop web-sites around and about. Anyway, it was really good to catch up with them both properly this time - last time was all too rushed - and we're hoping to do a bit better at staying in touch from now on, especially since Pete's a whole lot happier about going out visiting and so on now, oddly enough...

Absent colleagues' incessantly ringing phones, lawn-mowing outside, screaming children en route to the nursery, emergency sirens, trolleys loaded with crockery being taken off-road by the sounds of it... There's only so much that recommended doses of painkillers can do for a headache like this one, you know.

Office dialogue as the electric post-van squeaks and clatters past outside...

Tim: "I suspect that vehicle could use a little oil"
Me: "Or a rocket launcher?"

Feeling better for a bit of a sugar-overload lunch - sweet and sour pork with tortilla chips, followed by chocolate fudge cake with loads of custard, and a cinnamon whirl for good measure.

Cinnamon whirl with icing, I should add!

I've been accused by a couple of people of - in another file on Monochrome - "letting the cat out of the bag" relationship-wise. With all due respect to those concerned, was it really so un-obvious before that "something" was afoot?

And just as my headache finally subsided ... fire drill. Need I say more?

Hmm, definitely a bit too much sweetcorn in last night's dinner. Once again, need I say more?

Ha ha, further fire drills for other nearby departments, and it's chucking it down with rain outside! So sympathetic, I know - sorry...

And now two of the aforementioned squeaky electric post-vans are racing each other round the campus blowing their horns every ten seconds or so...

Yesterday's icky Java problem sorted, and now it's time to go home. I'd love to claim credit for it myself, but the truth is plain to be seen:

  // hack to fix repaint bug - courtesy Sam, 24/10/01
  Point2D.Float dp2=new Point2D.Float();
  catch(Exception e) {}

Mind you, at least I'd have done the proper thing and caught the exception as a java.awt.geom.NoninvertibleTransformException - but hey, it works...

It's still incomparably evil code in this applet. I think I shall have to have a quiet word with Jon upon his return from Crete.

All my intentions of an early night yesterday came to nothing, with Sarah phoning while I was in the bath, and me agreeing to pop over to work out what was going wrong with Word 2000 on their PC. As it turned out, it was just that she was trying to load an orphaned temporary file rather than the document proper, but there are some things you would just never guess over the phone. Didn't stay too late, though, and was in bed and pretty much asleep by eleven I think, and subsequently managed one of my best night's sleep in a long time. Still more sleep to catch up on, though - I really could have done with going to bed by about nine yesterday as planned - so I won't be hanging around for too long after Open House tonight, and I'll probably take tomorrow afternoon off so as not to be in too much of a tiring mad rush to plan a little entertaining I'm doing in the evening.

Woo, payday, and a grand's increment for having been here another year. That's per year, I hasten to add, but still better than a kick in the teeth. Mind you, it also takes me to the top of the non-discretionary pay-scale, so I need to think very hard over the next twelve months what I'm going to do next...

Anyway, with another - somewhat better written, amazingly for an academic - Java applet successfully debugged, it's time to go home I reckon. I've already made my apologies to Matt and Jill for my likely absence from Open House, so I'll probably have that early night I was planning on enjoying yesterday...

It's a wonder that 1&1 Internet make any money at all given their seeming inability to deduct a few quid from a perfectly respectable debit card. Would be nice if they didn't threaten my client with bailiffs as a result of their own incompetence, however. I still think their hosting service is top notch, but their billing department really is a complete pile of steaming stuff.

As expected, I didn't make it to Open House last night, one of the only house group gatherings I've ever voluntarily missed, but I really did need the rest. I didn't get to bed amazingly early in the end, but the fact that I was up and about early enough this morning to check e-mails and field a phone-call or two before going to work said a lot for the fact that I did at least try... Anyway, just a half day today, then a bit of a hectic afternoon in store, going to Maplins to buy a mini vacuum cleaner, doing some food shopping for my evening entertaining, picking up Sarah from Sarah's - yes, confusing, I know - collecting the girls from their childminder, then playing things as they come really through into the evening. Tomorrow evening is going to be a busy one as well, agreeing last night at short notice to entertain once again - this time for the delectable Claire, who's up in the area tomorrow anyway, and fancied the idea of having my cooking inflicted upon her for a change!

Is the cat any further out of the bag than a couple of days ago, by the way?

Curious to know why searching for "vacuum" on Maplins' web-site returns an RS232 interface lead - was that from Not The Nine O'Clock News or Spitting Image, can anyone remember? - as one of the four hits? The valve bases are somewhat more logical inclusions, but one of the mini vacuum cleaners - selling for a fiver and a tenner respectively - look like the best bets really...

Anyway, time to go!

It's the wee small hours of Saturday morning, and phase one of my weekend of entertaining is complete without any major hiccups. Phase two is now fully planned and confirmed for Saturday evening, and needless to say, both involved parties are looking forward to it immensely! For now, though, bed beckons...

Last night's epic pile of washing up has now been tackled, and the downstairs hoovered - using a full size vacuum cleaner, I hasten to add for the benefit of anyone who actually reads this diary - so I should hopefully make a reasonable impression of domesticity tonight! Anyway, all that was way too much like hard work me for so early in the morning, so I'm going to go and collapse in the bath for a bit before pondering walking up to the city centre to shop for tonight and probably get my hair cut. Or maybe I'll do it the other way round? Yes, I think that's a better idea, and I could use the fresh air right now!

Shopping done, then, though no hair-cut, since I decided it really wasn't that long since I'd last had it done, and a wash and good brush not immediately before going to bed is probably all it needs to return to some semblance of order! Had a slightly odd experience at Waitrose, losing the price stickers for some fresh produce I'd bought, so rushing back to re-weigh them. Then finding that the first of the two sets of scales I'd used was over-weighing by a factor of three! I knew red peppers could be expensive, but that was taking the mickey a little, and the cashier tended to agree as she called for someone to check the scales... Anyway, I think I'm all set for tonight now, so it's just a case of having a nice relaxing afternoon - with that hair-wash and earlier promised bath - and awaiting the phone call from Claire to say she's on her way! Last night was great, don't get me wrong, but hopefully tonight's going to spectacularly top even that!

Phone call received; Claire's ... ermmm ... on her way!

I'm just right the way I am, apparently. Even if that does make me three or four inches shorter than Claire... Still, at least she consciously avoids wearing high heels! Needless to say, this evening was splendid, and my sweet and not-very-sour pork went down a treat, even if there wasn't much room left for the exceedingly naughty Sara Lee chocolate danish. But all good things have to come to an end, so I waved her on her way a short while ago, and will just await her "got home safely" text before calling it a night myself!

The text duly arrived just as I was getting ready for bed, and after a good night's sleep enhanced with that bonus hour - an owed hour, I like to think, though in actual fact it's the other way round, being a May baby - I'm actually feeling fairly awake this morning, and looking forward to a pleasant day of doing nothing in particular until church in the evening!

And at that precise moment, the workmen doing something to the garden of the house a couple of doors down started up some smoky noisy tool, so there's definitely no more sleep happening round these parts. On a Sunday, too...

Church this evening was OK, but just a little low on numbers, hitting the worship especially hard - though Paul and Jill fought on admirably anyway! Anyway, getting late now, so I guess I'd better aim for bed really...

Oh how I'd rather not be here today. Quite what I'd be doing instead I really have no idea, but hey... Back to the "boom and bust" way of life, I guess.

Though there's a lecture here this afternoon by Doug Engelbart, which might be interesting. He patented the computer mouse amongst other inventions. Oh, and our university firewall gets turned on tomorrow, so goodness only knows what happens to net access from now on...

These key points sound quite positive, though - so long as they are bypassing the firewall proxy altogether where appropriate:

  • Outgoing POP3 access will still be available
  • Outgoing telnet will still be available
  • Access to Internet banking systems should be unnaffected provided that they are web-based or configurable with an http-proxy
  • Outgoing SSH will still be available

Well Doug got a standing ovation - but only because everyone had stood up to leave just as they were asking if there were any questions, and it seemed polite to give him one last round of applause. Sorry Doug, ultimately you invented the mouse and a few other clever things, but you simply don't cut it with the visionary stuff - no matter how virtuous it may have been - so please do the decent thing and retire gracefully! Or go and have a self-importance deathmatch with Jakob Nielsen; that could be quite entertaining in a strange kind of way I guess...

Today's being a bit yawn-inducing at work, but at least there are no dull lectures to go to. Highlight so far has been popping over to the design studio to see what Ruth's cooking up for S204 and being modestly impressed...

And that remained the highlight, to be honest. Enjoying a nice quiet evening now, and probably aiming in a bedward direction before too long....

Maybe I am staying on the Monochrome staff roll for a while longer, after all. Caroline's just kindly taken the Religion & Faith section off my hands and is making all kinds of threats as to what will happen to it if no-one volunteers to take it on, and I'm behind her all the way on that. I've done the long-awaited reorganisation of the AudioFile section; it's subtle, but should allow better usage focus in future bearing in mind the way discussion had been drifting over the last couple of years, and I am much more inclined to hang on to it now. The Gadgets & Gizmos section will now close I am pretty sure - it was interesting while it lasted, but it's had its day - but I've proposed a new section to replace it which I would be happy to look after. So unless anyone decides to stick an oar in, it looks like I'm not completely resigning as staff after all, and I think I'm happy with that state of affairs...

I suspect being out for the night at the Vineyard prayer meeting helped me avoid most of the trick-or-treaters stupid enough to call at a house like ours, though I think one lot called before I left. I've said enough about this in the past which I still entirely stand by, so will leave it at that. Anyway, the month's now up, so it's time for another diary archive I reckon...

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