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David's diary: September 2002

Aaargh, it's Sunday morning and I'm up no later than I was yesterday. What gives? Anyway, it's now a new month for this diary, and I think I've got everything set up correctly - at least to continue as I was before, even if there are still a few general deficiencies. For the benefit of readers on Monochrome wondering where "August" has vanished to, it would seem a good opportunity to remind you that full archives of this diary are viewable on my website at the address above. For the benefit of readers already using the web, that will be meaningless, but redundant information in any case.

Meanwhile, I just realised that in waiting for my semi-unmetered internet connection to get set up, I'd forgotten those fifty minutes I get every day on my mobile. I'm sure British Telecom will be laughing, though they can stop now. OK, so it's very slow, but if I'm just chatting on Monochrome, or posting the odd diary update, do I really need a lot more? Yes, the Fast24 deal will be better than both in the long run, but as an interim measure, this mobile link is by far the most cost-effective of the options I have at the immediate time, having not cost me a penny yet over and above my monthly subscription.

Bath relaxed in, Sound On Sound read, flat hoovered, bed-linen being laundered ... but still not dressed. Guess I ought to make sure that's been rectified by the time Gareth and Dave hopefully visit this afternoon to discuss a new area for the Top Dog website. Kind of relieved my mum's not visiting today after all, though it is a little bit of a disappointment having partially psyched myself up for it. She was going to pop in on the way back from a few days' holiday in Norfolk but now is pretty sure she won't, even though she's still planning on passing through Milton Keynes. Hmm, I hope I didn't put her off the idea at all, because that certainly wasn't even remotely the idea.

Hmm, mixed impressions of Rosebys today. Changing my bed-linen this morning, I decided I didn't like the colour of the new sheet against the duvet cover and pillowcases I'd bought the other day, so thought I'd try and swap it. Phoned the branch, and it rang and rang and rang, until finally it sounded like someone lifted up the phone and put it straight back down again. I found an 0800 number for the head office and spoke to a lady there, who couldn't tell me whether the store here was open today nor what their exchange policy was. Anyway, I decided I'd try out the more pleasant route to Kingston - having vaguely recalled I'd bought the stuff there on a Sunday anyway, so they should be open - and thankfully managed to exchange my unused lavender sheet for a bright yellow one which will go much better with my groovy new duvet cover set. Oh, and that suburban footpath route to Kingston was indeed much better; still a little dull in places, but at least it wasn't almost entirely along a redway between a dual carriageway and an industrial park.

Gareth and Dave were quite late arriving, but I graciously decided not to charge them for that time, and we did get through what we needed to pretty quickly in terms of sorting out a load of photographs of Dave's graffiti work for scanning and putting on to the Top Dog website. Once they'd gone I swiftly got to work on actually getting the stuff scanned and a web page written, which took me about two and a half hours in the end. I'm not sure when it will go live, but I've emailed Gareth to let him know it's there for review, so hopefully it will be within the next few days, once he and Dave have provided me with some captions. The rest of the evening has been pretty relaxed, with the only hassle being remembering, half way through cooking up my favourite pasta dish, that I had no grater for the cheese, so I had to make do with "shaving" the block of cheddar with a knife! Just had a good natter with my mum, now back from Norfolk and having caught up with my life's happenings via this diary - you see, it does have its uses...

It is a legal requirement that I have a driving licence with my correct home address on it - with threats of a fine of up to £1000 if I don't. Why then, is it, that they make it so incredibly difficult to update it? My vehicle registration document is easy; I just fill in my new address on the existing document, sign and date it, tear off and destroy the bottom portion, and post the rest off to DVLA. But to get a new driving licence I need to find a post office which will issue a D750 form - which would appear not to be just any old post office - get various photographs and other bits and pieces signed by reputable persons, either entrust my passport to the Royal Mail or pay them extra to check it on the spot because I don't trust them, and no doubt jump through yet further hoops still to be revealed. At times like this - and after a lovely healthy walk into work - I really wonder why I bother driving at all.

I actually feel really quite lousy today, and I'm not entirely sure why. Actually, I have a reasonably good idea why - and it's a combination of things - but I'll spare you the details. On the bright side, it's the kind of lousiness that can easily be turned around by unexpectedly good things happening. But I don't anticipate that, obviously, or they wouldn't be unexpected, now would they?

I'm not sure whether my new modem arriving in the morning mail distribution counts as an "unexpectedly good thing", since Dabs did tell me on Friday that they'd sent it. What might have made it so would've been getting confirmation of my new dial-up internet package, but no such luck so far today. Anyway, I've taken advice and decided I am going to pop down to Bletchley post office this afternoon to hopefully get my new driving licence sorted out on the spot, for the princely sum of four pounds. Just another of those expenses associated with driving, I guess, and I should hopefully get a nice fat cheque from Gareth in the next few days for the work on his website to date, so I'll live.

Getting my driving licence application checked over and sent off at the post office turned out to be much less painful than I'd expected, and hopefully I will get my photo-card back in a couple of weeks' time. While I was waiting in the queue there, Sarah phoned me on my mobile, wanting my help with a few things, and with it being Laura's birthday too, we decided we'd start off the evening with a nice celebratory meal out at the Kingston Tavern. Later I agreed I'd try and sort out problems with one of their video recorders and with the computer, the former being very simple but the latter not quite so - though it turned out it was a loose monitor connector all along which was a tiny bit annoying, but just one of those things I guess!

Oh, this new modem is fabby, the true meaning of "plug and play"! Just wish I had that new dial-up account to go with it - but hey, can't have everything.

I guess it was inevitable that if I started enjoying work here for the first time in longer than I can remember, something had to give. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I suddenly feel quite snowed under with tedious stuff, more "other people's problems" and so on to sort out, as if I haven't got quite enough on my plate as it is. Latest one this morning is being asked to sort out a problem with an Office 2000/XP spreadsheet - and you all know how much I simply adore spreadsheets, right? - that isn't even one I've touched, other than sticking it on a CD-ROM once. I hope this is a phase that will swiftly blow over and I can get on with doing the things I'm supposed to be doing and that I can broadly enjoy doing, but some of this stuff really does have a habit of haunting, and spreadsheets in particular it would seem...

Oh well, I seem to have been volunteered to try and help sort out that pesky spreadsheet problem, though at least I managed to persuade Jon to rephrase the bit of his email that implied I would actually be able to help. On a happier note, Jon thinks the I/O stuff I've recently put into the microprocessor simulation is great and should woo the academics, though he'd like interrupts to be implemented within the next day which is going to be a bit of a headache since there is no neat way of programming them. Still, I'm not dashing off tonight, because it's the first night back for the Astronomy Club after the summer break, and - clear skies permitting - we're hoping to give our shiny new 16" telescope a spin, which should be fun!

Now "digging in" for the hour and a half before Astronomy Club starts, having already had some semblance of tea from the shop downstairs before it closed. Making some headway with this interrupts business I think, but need to run more tests, which might well be a little tedious. Still, got to be better than finding out why a spreadsheet triggers a somewhat unspecified error when loaded into Excel XP, which is a small mercy I guess.

It's a bit shaky, but after a bit of a scare I think it basically works, at least well enough to let the academics have a poke around with it tomorrow. A level-one interrupt blocks and can preempt a level-two one, which I think is correct behaviour; the worst that can really be the case is that I've got it the wrong way round from what is deemed to be conventional. I think that tomorrow morning I'll try and write a sample program that makes use of this new functionality, then cut that CD-R for the academics involved to investigate and hopefully decide they really would like this I/O stuff at all. After all, switches and LEDs are always cool, right?

Adam popped round a little while earlier today, asking how I was getting on with using up my holiday entitlement. He said I still had 35 days left to take before the end of September - yes, it is September already - but wasn't sure whether that total was from before or after I'd booked my time off in August. It turned out that it was from after, so I still have 35 days outstanding leave. I pointed out that I would normally take September off, which would slash 20 days off the total in one fell swoop, but that much as I would like to, I can't because of the workload I've got. He considered that a fair excuse and one that I should mention when I make my pleadings to the new management.

Of course, Sam then made the fair comment that I really didn't look too busy for someone who couldn't possibly take September off, and he had a fair point. To an extent, he is quite right, but there's a shed-load of work round the corner, basically stuff that is supposed to be being passed to me over the next few days and weeks - well, should have had already, in fact - with my deadlines for completion well before the end of the month. So it's "phantom work" that's keeping me here, and if by any chance I don't get the stuff I've been promised, I can assure you I will not be terribly happy.

Anyway, I've done all I can for today, and the Club meeting starts in about a quarter of an hour, so I think I'll wrap things up for now - and hope the skies clear a little, 'cos otherwise we're going to be getting a rather splendid view of cloud...

Murkiest morning yet for my walk in to work, but in thankfully stark contrast to yesterday evening, when by some miracle, during the course of the formal part of the Astronomy Club meeting the skies transformed from overcast to more or less clear. Consequently we were able to celebrate "first light" for the new telescope afterwards, calibrating it on Vega, and then getting a rather nice view of the Ring Nebula in much the same part of the sky. We also gave the video eye-piece a try, but it was very hard to use and the results were rather fuzzy, but we think it should be good for rudimentary planetary imaging, public open nights and so on.

Sorry it's been rather a quiet day on the diary front, but I've really been quite busy, and those few lulls have been taken up with trying to sort out my new home internet connection. But, overall, it's been a good day.

It took me rather longer than expected to write a sample program to demonstrate interrupts in my microprocessor simulation, but I've got there now and Jon loves it more than ever, so having written some documentation for the sample I am just about ready to cut the CD-Rs and send them off to whoever. The sample program cycles a two-digit display between 0 and 99, with an interrupt-linked switch controlling whether it counts up or down. At the same time a slider bar controls a gauge via another interrupt, without interfering with anything else - or at least that's the theory! Ultimately rather trivial and not terribly interesting, but it proves some points and will hopefully persuade the academics that they do want this stuff in their software. It's got to be more interesting than just watching a register value change, anyway!

As for the internet connection, well I decided I'd risk phoning Fast24 to see what progress they were making, and eventually I fought through the network and line engaged tones to speak to one of the guys on their helpdesk. He said they had sent out the confirmation and details email, but I plainly hadn't received it, so he sent it again and it arrived immediately. However, the account still didn't work as described, so I fought to get through to them again and spoke to another chap, who agreed to sort it out later this afternoon. No more than three minutes later, my email account with them was fully operational, even if the webmail default was to include my password as my "real name" on outgoing messages... Of course, I've not yet had a chance to check the dial-up side of things, but you can be pretty sure that'll be one of the first things I do when I get in from work tonight!

Hooray! Effectively unmetered internet access is here! Rejoice!

Unless you're trying to phone me of an evening, of course.

You have my mobile number though - and if you don't it's not hard to find out, now is it?

Mind you, the preferred dial-up settings failed to provide any internet routing, and consequently I'm using the back-up BT settings, but I guess that's why they issue more than one number in the first place...

Why exactly am I hurrying to type this?

I have decided to fundamentally change the way this diary is served up on the web, such that it will integrate more directly with the rest of my website. This will have many benefits, including making the column of text to read somewhat narrower, which some people have specifically requested, as well as allowing "exciting future functionality" yet to be announced. From the Monochrome point of view, it will allow me to reintroduce date-stamps into the diary and get rid of the annoying footer, which should please a lot of people there. The only downside is the time it's all going to take - this diary's been running over six years, which means over seventy files to adjust! - so there will be a phased conversion, starting with the oldest stuff probably, and I'm not sure how often I'll be synchronising the on-line version with my local copy. But I'm sure it will all be worth it in the end!

Spooky that Dawn specifically asked about the date-stamps problem, about five minutes before that last entry automagically appeared on Monochrome with the hourly synchronisation run! Maybe I'll have to convert the archives in reverse date order after all...

I have successfully converted the archives for 1996, 1997 and 1998 into the new format and popped them on line; why not have a look? I'm getting faster as I go along, so will soon be up to date and can add the date-stamps bit, but I think that will do for this evening! Had a little trouble connecting to Fast24 just now - I guess it's the busy period for on-line gamers and whatnot - but I got here eventually and it's all free, well, so long as I don't value my time waiting too highly...

In between other thoughts today, I've had a few more ideas about how the web version of this diary will change, at least with new content if not the archived stuff. It won't be colossally different, at least to start with, and indeed some people may not notice anything much at all, but expect some subtle changes in order to make the HTML more standards-friendly for a start! I might well get a bit more of the archive conversion done this evening, but I am busy for quite a bit of my otherwise-spare time over the next few days, so I'll make no promises in that regard...

Well Monochrome readers will now note that this diary has hopefully regained its traditional date-stamps and lost the annoying footer, whilst web-based readers will have noticed I went back on my word not to change anything too much visually, and gone for what should be an altogether fresher "blog" style look. The latter also has some technical benefits, but I won't bore you all with the details right now!

Had a good evening at Jam and Simon's, my first Open House gathering back after the summer recess, and I think it's a group I should feel very comfortable in. But I'm pretty shattered now, so am not going to be making best use of my internet connection this evening - but rather better use of my bed, imminently...

And almost an hour later, now technically Friday morning...

Oops.

Really am off to bed now though, I can last no longer.

I don't want to be up not much after seven o'clock this morning, and don't need to be, but nor can I sleep. I feel awful, but figure it's better to feel awful, up and about, than awful and trying and failing to get back to sleep. I expect I'll feel better for a shower and some breakfast, so that's precisely what I'll do. Bye for now, then!

Today's dragging a bit, but I guess that's hardly surprising considering what ridiculous time I was up this morning - even if I didn't quite make it into work by nine. I now have a bit of a dilemma about this evening, having been invited round to Sarah's for tea, but there also being one of our occasional worship jams on, and although I could just about go to both, I probably oughtn't since I have a very busy day coming up tomorrow. Just need to make a decision - though I'm not at all sure whether Sarah's really ready yet to entertain visitors! Tomorrow afternoon sees the eagerly-anticipated wedding of my friends Steve and Kath, the other side of Oxford, and I need to get them a present of some description and perhaps some new shoes for that, as well as do my more general shopping. It's only about an hour's drive to East Hendred though, so I plan on returning late tomorrow evening, and there will be no rush to get up Sunday morning, with the Vineyard's first Sunday service after the summer break not until the early evening!

Less than an hour to go before I can head home, now. Really not been the best day. Just hope I feel a bit more perky this evening - whatever I end up doing - and tomorrow!

I didn't, and I've stayed in. I'm not sure it will have been a good idea, though at least my alcohol reserves are low so I'm not going to do anything too silly. I never did hear from Sarah so I guess she either forgot or didn't feel up to it anyway, so I'm not feeling too guilty to be honest. Early night for me tonight, though, I think. It's only eight o'clock and I could fall asleep right now given half a chance, though I probably ought to push myself a little further in the hope of a good night's sleep before tomorrow's hectic events.

Hmm, some rather sad - but not entirely unexpected - family news tonight, but I must keep my own hopes up high, even if there seems to be little happening in that kind of regard right now.

Saturday morning, and I'm up reasonably early - and just as well, because I had a parcel to receive that I frankly wasn't expecting today. The order status screen on play.com may well still say my "Monsters, Inc." DVD is still being packed, but I have distinct evidence to the contrary. Hmm, maybe they're going to send me another one... No time to watch that today, anyway, though I must admit I did take a couple of sneaky peeks at the extras - and what I saw was pretty good! Will bring back a few memories when I do, but I will pick my company.

Anyway, I suppose I'd better be getting up properly, digging out my suit - it only ever really emerges for weddings and the like - and popping into Central Milton Keynes to do my shopping. According to Sam there's nowhere that sells "proper" shoes at the Kingston district centre - not even the sell-everything-else-under-the-sun Tesco - and I would really prefer to buy Steve and Kath's present somewhere a little more upmarket given the choice. So long as I'm on the road to the wedding soon after lunch I'll be fine, but still oughtn't dawdle!

It's a little after one o'clock in the morning and I've been back a few minutes. Needless to say I'm utterly shattered after an excellent day, and am heading to bed just as soon as I've posted this up for the sake of anyone worrying whether I got home in one piece or not!

It's now a rather more civilised time on a Sunday morning, having had a reasonably good night's sleep - not perfect, but I don't think my body was going to settle for a lot less than what it managed! Yesterday was altogether rather excellent, though incredibly busy from start to finish.

Shopping in the morning turned out to be a bit of a nightmare, particularly with regard to buying some reasonably smart black shoes. I only wanted them for occasional use so was not prepared to spend vast sums of money, and consequently started off at Barratts where I have had good value in the past. But could I find anything I could afford and liked, and - more to the point - they had in my size? Could I heck! So I went on a trek round the entire shopping centre and of course found the situation elsewhere still worse. It seems it is nigh-on impossible to buy "unbranded" shoes these days, and smart shoes in particular seem to be the reserve of those with silly money to spend. So eventually I returned to Barratts in a last-ditch moment of desperation, and somehow - perhaps I had by then adjusted my sights price-wise a little - quickly found my perfect shoes, and in my size. But that all meant that by the time I'd bought Steve and Kath's present, done my shopping, and got some keys cut that Sarah needed, my quick trip into the centre had taken over two hours. And then, dropping those keys off with Sarah, I got waylaid making some running repairs to her back door and then stopping for some unexpected - but most welcome, don't get me wrong - lunch. So after all that, I was considerably later leaving for East Hendred than I'd planned.

And then, of course, I found all the slow traffic queues on the way out to Buckingham in particular, and became increasingly aware that if the AA's estimate of an hour and nine minutes for the journey was based upon getting a clear run, I was going to be late. By some miracle though, I got to East Hendred on time, though - like several others - very nearly went to the wrong church, which would have been a bit of a downer, not realising that Kath's family, who practically own the village as far as I could tell, were devout Catholics. Of course, Kath was late arriving, as is traditional for the bride, so it all worked out fine with ample time to spare, though I did get one of the very last pew-spaces at the church!

The service was lovely, conducted by no less than three ministers from quite different church backgrounds, and the choice of music was excellent too, with a perfect blend of old and new. Many people commented it was one of the best wedding services they could remember, and I certainly wouldn't disagree. It was rather hot in the church though - lots of big stained glass windows, many commemorating Kath's ancestors, making it a bit of a greenhouse I guess! - so it was quite a relief to get some fresh air an hour later. From there we all walked round to the nearby Hendred House, owned by further of Kath's family, where the reception was laid on in a huge marquee in the grounds, a wonderful setting for such a thing.

The reception was top-notch too, of course, with excellent food - not sure what the starter was but it was yummy indeed, followed by what appeared to be guinea-fowl with bacon, and rounded off with the most enormous fruits-of-the-forest pavlova most of us had ever seen - top speeches, especially the best-man double act by Kit and Ben, and then of course the party. I was largely staying off the drink of course, since I was driving home, but the latter wasn't too wild an affair, just good fun, and took us all very nicely up to the time for Steve and Kath's departure. That was rather spectacular, with them speeding off down the gravel drive at Hendred House in a borrowed BMW M3, perfectly synchronised fireworks going off to each side...

But by then they were running quite late, and it really was time I hit the road myself - no gravel sprayed or pyrotechnics of course though - and thankfully got a clear fast run home, taking me about an hour and nine minutes, oddly enough. Overall though, an excellent day, and lots of new people to talk to - people I knew were in a tiny minority, but there were plenty of friendly folk from all walks of life, though I have to say I found the more "ordinary" people a little easier to relate to!

A busy old Sunday in the end, being invited for lunch round at Sarah's now she has the house in some semblance of order after her move, sorting out a few bits and pieces there, and then walking to church with Sarah, Laura, Rachael and Laura's friend Natasha. Church was pretty good in the main, with excellent worship led by Gareth and Tash and a quite motivating presentation by Gareth about Top Dog Promotions - for which I had to model my t-shirt of course! - and Thebandwithnoname's forthcoming massive UK tour. The heavens opened just before we were due to walk home, but thanks to another miracle, the rain stopped just in time and we had a dry walk home, even if Rachael was moaning most of the way anyway. All were quite shattered by that time though, so plans for a further glass of wine were deferred, and once we'd dropped Natasha back at her house, we were all ready to pretty much call it a day!

A definite change in the weather today, so consequently a little sniffly, and I've been a total wimp and brought a coat to work for the first time in months. The BBC are forecasting thunderstorms, but - despite our spectacular light-show a few weeks ago, which even made it on to the national TV news - I'll only believe it when I see it.

Barring any anniversary atrocities, in a couple of days September 11 will be able to be reclaimed as what it really is, namely my brother's birthday.

Oops, really ought to go to the shop and get him a card, I suppose!

There were perhaps a few rumbles of distant thunder earlier, but nothing definite, though we had quite a long-lasting deluge from lunchtime onwards that has only just abated, now it's more or less time to walk home. Nothing much more to report; it's been a typically PricewaterhouseCoopers kind of Monday, and the sooner I can be home the better really, not that I have anything much planned for this evening at this point.

Please remind me never to set up a webcam as a permanent thing! Running one as a test for someone just to make sure it basically works is one thing; having it up there all the time, monitoring and broadcasting to the world every last nasal expedition, is quite another.

I have a meeting in about half an hour, which I must admit I'd clean forgotten about if I ever really knew it was happening at all. At it, I will be asked how I'm getting on with creating the CD-ROM for a particular course, and will have to explain that production is stalled because I am still owed getting on for a hundred vital documents for inclusion on it. Yesterday I was scheduled to receive the final few bits of content - and of course there was nothing. Indeed, a month ago I was supposed to have had 90% of the content in my possession. Instead, I currently have about 10%, which is barely better than the situation was in June! I am supposed to be handing over the finished article to QA in a fortnight, and there are still far-reaching design decisions to be made even once I have all the actual text. I just sincerely hope Jon's not too late joining me after his double-booked meeting, because I have a horrible feeling I might well be about to start World War Three if no-one holds me back.

Of course, I would add that if they'd not wasted several days of my time earlier in the summer thanks to getting me to produce software they'd not got rights clearance for, I might have progressed a little further, but there is still no avoiding that given no input, there can be no output.

Well World War Three didn't start - at least not today - but that was perhaps thanks in part at least to Jon's involvement in his clashing meeting ending rather earlier than he had expected. We've got some modicum of commitment from the academics, editors and designers involved that we really will get what we need within the next couple of weeks, though that obviously means we've had to agree to ask to push back the QA handover deadline somewhat anyway. I guess it's all part and parcel of working under bureaucratic systems, and it wouldn't really have taken an Einstein to realise that doing all this over the summer in the first place was a Seriously Daft Idea. Can I make another production meeting in October? Errm, I would sincerely hope I might be on holiday by then, seeing as I've already been forced to delay it from this month thanks to their disorganisation.

Oh joy, just been advised of another flipping production meeting on Thursday, for another course where the academics seem to have largely forgotten about me. I think I might well just have to be ill, or volunteer for the Army, or something. Last one of that particular course's meetings, I sat through about two hours of tedium just to say about half a dozen words to explain we were using StarOffice for some warped kind of reason. Mind you, Jon's just mailed me to say the course is on the brink of being shelved, which would be kind of cool, I have to say. This is the course that most recently almost saw me waving goodbye to this place once and for all, it was so depressing.

With the closing chord of Orbital's gloriously sublime "Belfast", so I finish this phase at least of sorting out my flat. Believe it or not, I now have a sofa that is sittable-upon! OK, so the wardrobes and cupboards are stuffed further full of things that need a methodical sort-through, but I've not consciously stowed away any outright rubbish, so that should be a reasonably straightforward task whenever I get around to it. I also had to mend one of the wardrobes, discovering that the reason it didn't open and close very smoothly was because the sliding doors had half fallen off their runners, and it was by no means easy hooking them back on. But anyway, now I can relax a little with a glass of wine, and see if I can get anything other than an engaged tone on the 'net, so that I can post this diary entry up! Blimey, first-time connection, at the very peak of the busiest time of day...

Three glasses of wine later... Though in my defence I would point out that these are very small glasses, more suited to sherry. About time I was heading for bed now though; at least I should sleep quite well!

A year on ... my brother's 41.

Happy birthday Pete.

All in all, it's been a pretty tedious day really. Mainly because it saw the inevitable eventual return of the infernal StarOffice spreadsheets, which I never really thought I'd seen the back of when other things took priority a couple of months ago now. But it's almost time to go home, and our Open House meeting has now moved from Thursday to tonight by popular demand, so I'll have a good evening out hopefully. Yes, I have that glorious production meeting to look forward to tomorrow morning, but with a bit of luck it might be at least a little entertaining if it's going to be overshadowed by doubts over the future of the course, as Jon seemed to be suggesting would be the case.

Oooh, lots of post waiting for me when I got home this evening!

Good things:

  • New driving licence, even if the photo looks like I've just done a round with Mike Tyson
  • New vehicle registration document
  • New supply of black sacks - OK, not exactly post, but near enough

Not such good things:

  • Council tax bill for £278.08, and payment slips

I guess that all means I pretty much officially live here now...

In attempting to W3C validate these diary pages, I have become alerted to the fact that the archives for July and August are somewhat broken. I think I've done a reasonable job of patching up August, but July would seem to be damaged beyond repair at this point. I'm hoping I might have a back-up at work that I can reconstruct the on-line version from, but in the meantime there is a high proportion of garbage - some obvious, some not - in the page that I can't really do much about. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but prime suspect at the moment is a problem with Windows' WordPad, so I'm currently downloading the far superior TextPad, which I should have done ages ago of course. Stable doors and long-since vanished horses do of course spring to mind if that was the cause...

Oops, I've just spotted some bugs in this September page too, but all dating from before when I switched over to this new updating system, which would tend to confirm that it was something that crept in with editing the archives for that. Even more for me to try and remember what I wrote, though at least the events of the last couple of weeks should be fresher in my mind than July's!

As I drove to Open House at Jam and Si's this evening, I suddenly remembered that web browsers have caches. Consequently, since I changed the filenames of the web pages when I moved over to the new delivery system a few days ago, I was able still to find copies of some of the old - and consequently intact - ones in my Temporary Internet Files folder. Hopefully I will be able to do the same at work and fill in the gaps in what I have, then everything can be restored to how it is supposed to be.

At least that's the theory, though it's hard to be completely sure which of the forty-odd pages I have manipulated recently have errors on them. I'm only aware of the ones from July, August and September this year, but there may be more, and they really aren't anywhere nearly so likely still to be cached anywhere. Though I guess there's always the WayBack Machine on archive.org if push really comes to shove in that regard, and my diary does seem to have been indexed there on and off over the years!

With the combination of the WayBack Machine and Google's cache, I think I've found everything else now. Thank goodness for the internet, eh..?

Not sure when I'll get to fix it all, but at least I have the resources now!

That was all just as well, because my cache and other records at work turned up nothing of use whatsoever when I had a look just now. Indeed a file I thought might be of use turned out also to be corrupted, but it's possible I might have "touched" it with WordPad at some point prior to the overhaul the other day. I am pretty much completely sure it's not the script on my website that's playing up, though now even that bit has changed quite fundamentally, so if there were any problems before, it should be safe now. Assuming WordPad was to blame, I do - with hindsight's wonderful benefit - remember similar things happening with Write in Windows 3.1, but had perhaps hoped that a decade on that might have been fixed...

That production meeting this morning was indeed a little tedious, but was sometimes amusing in a black comedic kind of way - though I was mainly laughing because the alternatives would have been way more depressing or disturbing. Needless to say, in the true style of the course as a whole, the meeting substantially overran, to the annoyance of the next users of the meeting room - and me who missed lunch. Quite tempted to slope off home this afternoon, but I've said I'll try and put an installer together for the CD-ROM for this course, even though it is now less clear than ever what software they actually want. Still, we have a whole month to play with before it's all got to be finished, and we seem a little more organised than the course team as a whole...

Hopefully my web diary is now fixed, after the problems discovered yesterday evening. I've only repaired July, August and September, though I've kept the copies of the other months I downloaded last night just in case. But anyway, if anyone reading the web archives spots anything else weird - whether from 2002 or any other year's pages - please let me know as soon as possible, OK? Thanks!

And, going back to my original reason for poking around at my web pages at all last night, I can now happily confirm that my 2002 diary archives on the web are fully compliant with HTML 4.01 Transitional. That might not mean a lot to most people, who won't have a clue what I'm on about, and to others it may not impress, believing that I really should be complying with HTML 4.01 Strict, but it's a good start for making sure these pages maximise their compatibility with the widest range of web browser technologies. So regardless of whether you understand or approve, it's definitely an improvement, OK?!

Time I was off to bed, I guess, having had a reasonably productive day and evening I suppose. Oh by the way, my new ISP is now officially wonderful, having apparently just activated a load of new FRIACO lines, which would explain why I've been getting first-time connections almost every evening this week. Yeah yeah, all you BT Openworld users I am sure are used to that kind of thing as a matter of course, but your ISP gets preferential treatment, y'see...

Urrggh - why am I up so early today, after a rather sleepless night? Hmm, perhaps because I've got to be at work in half an hour, since I kind of forgot to book today off like I'd intended. That being the case, I suppose I'd better be getting up, washed, dressed and breakfasted.

Oh, by the way, wonders never cease - I'm currently connected via the "preferred" number for Fast24, which has never ever previously worked in the time I've been subscribed to their service! That'll definitely help with load balancing across the available numbers, now won't it?

On Wednesday I encouraged someone to "cheer up, it's almost the weekend" when it plainly wasn't. It is today though, incredibly; despite it being a week of rather tedious meetings, the time has still flown by. Really no idea what I'm up to this weekend, but things do have a habit of materialising at short notice, and I might send out a fairly predictable invitation or two I guess.

Do I have permission to grumble a little? Arrived back home from work to find - as I'd sort of hoped I would - a non-delivery card for a package, so trudged over to Brinklow to collect it. No problem at all, apart from the usual gripes about why they even try to deliver domestic packages needing a signature during the daytime. Anyway, as expected, it was a load of stuff from Gareth for his website, specifically a few photos of work by his resident graffiti artist, and a Minidisc of a newly-signed band. The latter first, the Minidisc was utterly silent. Perfect length tracks, all neatly and painstakingly titled, but quieter even than John Cage's 4'33". Took me ages to dig out the leads to copy it to the computer and then troubleshoot when I thought I'd got a dodgy connection rather than a dud recording. The photos are OK, but there's loads of them, and no suggestion Gareth wants anything but the lot scanned, manipulated and put up on the site. I sincerely hope he's making a fair packet out of booking this guy, 'cos the next bi-monthly bill for the work I've done for his page alone is going to be at least £100 at this rate. I won't be grumbling quite so much then though, I guess...

Just spotted what was really wrong with that Minidisc yesterday - it was recorded in long-play mode, and only the very whizziest, newest players can handle that. I've suggested to Gareth that the cheapest solution for him will be to persuade the band to re-record the disc in short-play mode; certainly sounds a preferable idea to billing him for a new player, eh?

Anyway, I guess I'd better be getting up properly now; need to go to Tesco as usual, and I have visitors later too, so it will be a reasonably busy day as Saturdays go. No sign of the postman yet this morning, which is a little annoying, since I'm expecting another package; I thought it was him a few minutes ago, but it was the Jehovah's Witnesses out and about...

Phew, finally I can relax a little, after quite a hectic day...

Got just about everything I needed at Tesco, but wasted a lot of time in the process being plain daft. First I spent ages trying to locate one of those small trolleys, before giving up and getting a big one, and then finding I needed the latter anyway. That was because of the CD racks I was buying, having spotted some there the other day that matched the well-used one Zoë bought me for a present years ago that's now horrendously overflowing. Then went on a lengthy trek to generally fail to find my car again, wasting the effort I'd made parking it faintly close to the shop. And then, despite having carefully checked the CD racks before I bought them, because some of the boxes on display were a bit battered, noticed that one of the ones I'd picked up was utterly trashed, so back to the shop I had to trudge once again, and plainly could not read the notice explaining that the customer service desk I was queueing at was strictly for food related queries only.

Finally I got away from Tesco, but just before I did, Darren phoned, asking if he could borrow some of my music stuff to practise on before he gets his own, so I met him back here and we dug out my mixing desk and a load of cables, and he was about to go when Sarah phoned... Well, actually, I was expecting a call from Sarah, since she was supposed to be coming round for tea with Laura and Rachael, but it was a little earlier than expected and caught me on the hop rather.

But all was OK, I was encouraged not to hurry too much, and I eventually collected them at about the time we'd originally agreed. "Monsters, Inc." on DVD went down pretty well, as did my traditional concoction of seasoned chicken and pasta, but we were all pretty shattered after that so decided we'd call it a day. Well almost, deciding it would be a splendid idea for the girls to let off some pre-bedtime steam at the local park, but then it really was time to take them home and for me at last to have a little time truly to myself!

It's been a good day though, and I really can't complain about the level of productivity, even given my utter repeated daftness at Tesco!

They don't make 'em like they used to - in this case referring to my new CD racks, which will be going back to Tesco next time I pass by, possibly tomorrow afternoon. One's plastic insert is broken, and the other one's won't last very much longer it's so stressed due to being mounted in the wrong place. Seeing as that's three out of three I've had that have been frankly unfit for sale, unless they can open two units up in the shop and demonstrate to me that they are in perfect condition, methinks I'll be claiming a refund and living with my CD heap for a little longer.

Up and about way too early for a Sunday, as per usual - it's only just turned eight. Please remind me never to leave my phone on vibrate-alert, sat on top of a rattly empty CD case! 'Twas only a text message, but it was enough to shatter my slumbers... I need to be getting up properly fairly soon though, 'cos it's Café Church up at the ski-centre later this morning and I'd like to collapse into a hot bath first. Oops, just realised I left my washing out on the line overnight; no harm done I'm sure, but really not at all intentional, and I must remember to bring it in before I go out later!

Café church was pretty good; it got off to a slow start, but there was a packed house in the end, and plenty of people to talk with - including a few old faces I'd not seen for a good long time. The idea is that members of the public are quite welcome to come up and see what's going on, and what they will find is a completely friendly and non-intimidating environment where at the very least they can get a free cup of tea or coffee or a soft drink and read the Sunday papers. OK, so it mainly ends up being the regulars, but if even a couple of other people venture up, it's worth the effort, and if nothing else, we can enjoy watching the skiers on the snow below.

I ran Simon, Laura and Emma back home afterwards and was invited to stay for lunch, which was most welcome - mmm, bacon sandwiches - and then quickly whizzed over to Kingston Tesco before they closed up for the afternoon, Sundays of course being the exception to their 24-hour opening policy. The assistant was inclined to agree with me that the chances of finding replacement CD racks that weren't similarly broken was next to nil, so happily refunded me, and I will just have to carry on seeking additional storage for a little longer.

Seems to have been a busy Sunday for the emergency services, in particular the ambulance service. As I was returning from Jam and Simon's through Simpson, there were no less than two ambulances at the pub there, loading up their involuntary passengers. And only a few minutes ago, I heard an intensifying beeping from outside and saw an ambulance reversing up the road, it being next to impossible to turn around in this cul-de-sac within a cul-de-sac. Just hope and pray that neither incident was anything too serious, but I have to say, the one at the pub in particular looked a little ominous.

How much do I really not want to be at work this morning..?

And I can't really say that situation has improved significantly this afternoon.

Now my evening going-out plans have been put off until tomorrow at the earliest, not that I can honestly claim to be too sorry, being decidedly shattered and a bit run down. Perhaps a quiet evening and an earlyish night will do me some good?

But then Darren phoned as I was walking home, so perhaps I won't get that quiet evening and earlyish night after all...

Not that we finished at Ask too late in the end, back home well before ten. I said I'd do a quick email check and head to bed, but obviously that was going to take a little longer than planned...

Why does it feel like Friday today when it's only actually Tuesday? Must get ready to go to work, little though I may now feel like it. I'm not going to remotely be in the office by nine - not that I have strict contractual hours, I should add.

Apologies for the annoying diary problems overnight on Monochrome; the system decided it was going to temporarily "lose" Lynx which it uses to fetch the web page for processing on an hourly basis, and everything went pear-shaped after that. I'm surprised my diary didn't vanish altogether, actually!

Ah, just had confirmation from Abs that the Lynx installation was updated last night, and that it was "not an instant process", explaining hopefully why it was unavailable on and off for several hours. All being well - and assuming the update hasn't dramatically changed the way Lynx works - that should be an end to those problems!

Oh, by the way, I still made it the office before Sam this morning, so my pride remains intact. OK, so I did tell him I only beat him here by five minutes, and that I very nearly called by his flat on the way...

There's really not a whole lot for me to do here right now - though plenty on the horizon, believe me - and Jon didn't seem to bat an eyelid earlier when I said I'd rather like to take this afternoon off. So that's precisely what I'm going to do, just as soon as I've emailed him and Marion to confirm.

Now back home, and done a bit of off-line work on my website to bring it up to even more standards compliance than before, particularly in the area of CSS use. But the really fabby news this afternoon is that thanks to a very timely discussion on Monochrome, I'm now completely unexpectedly £140 richer - or will be once my Orange Equity cash-in application has been processed which may take a couple of weeks. OK, so it's in Amazon shopping vouchers rather than cash, but hey, I'm sure I can find enough worth buying there to make the difference all but meaningless... I'm still gobsmacked - not least as to how I racked up nearly 36000 points. About the closest thing yet to free money! Yay for Orange!

Back at work today, of course, although a meeting I was hoping to have convened for this morning wasn't possible, so the day's been a little lacking in direction so far. Still, I generally feel much better than I did this time yesterday, thanks to a reasonably early night last night - once I was back home from my evening out deferred from Monday - and vaguely settled sleep. I'm not sure why, but I haven't yet managed a single night's sleep at the new flat without some kind of bizarre panic-laden waking dream. In my experience, so long as I am comfortable, I tend to sleep better in relatively unfamiliar surroundings, so I'm frankly a little baffled. It's Open House night at Simon and Jam's tonight, and I must remember to take my Cutting Edge CDs along for Laura, after our discussions at lunch on Sunday!

Probably about time I was heading home if I am not to repeat the shameful events of a fortnight ago when the nibbles at Open House were the closest thing I got to "tea" that evening... Mind you, I had a lovely lunch at the pavilion today - a whopping great pizza slice, loaded with sausage, ham and bacon, and topped off with lashings of HP Sauce. Like a meat-feast pizza and a bacon roll, all rolled into one - how much closer to perfection can one get?

Open House was at least as good as I'd expected last night, and overran quite substantially - but not in any "dragging out" kind of way, there was just a momentum and it carried. Consequently I wasn't home until gone eleven, and I still had a bit of emailing and whatnot to do, so an early night I certainly did not achieve. At Open House, after prayer and worship, we studied a U2 song about the Omagh bombing of 1998, leading into a more general study and discussion about the Fall - not the band, silly! - and, although none of us can be immune to it, what we can do about it today.

Just bought a packet of cashew nuts. No prizes for guessing what a notice on the back said...

WARNING: Contains nuts

I'd heard tell of such daft things, but never before witnessed anything like that myself.

Now twiddling my thumbs waiting for Gareth to turn up, for me to back up his phone-book on to his laptop, and some of his laptop documents on to a CD-R. I just hope it all works as planned, since I'm trusting a previously somewhat unreliable USB CD writer with some largely untried software, especially given entertaining things like my PC rebooting when I snaffled the USB lead from the scanner. Still, first of all, I need a phone and a laptop... Excuse me while I twiddle my thumbs a little longer!

Aha, here he is!

And now, at just turned eleven, all done! All the backing up went smoothly enough, although for a horrible moment I thought the CD writing was going to fail, but it was just that either the blanks I had or the USB CD writer couldn't handle quad speed properly. Darren phoned while I was talking it all through with Gareth beforehand and he kindly arrived a short while later with a takeaway Pizza Hut meal, and helped me with some of the finer points of backing up Gareth's Outlook settings. Anyway, all done now, and I have every excuse now not to spend the next hour on the 'net, because my ISP is doing network upgrades this evening and despite their assurances that dial-up disruption would be kept a minimum I can't seem to log in. Good old Clara will do just fine, but not for a long stretch when it's costing per minute!

Fast24 still wasn't working when I left for work this morning, and judging by the discussion on the ISP Review website, it still isn't. However some of the contributions there really are narking me off, because it's not actually Fast24's fault, but that of one of the companies they buy service from - and that was pretty clear right from the start to anyone with a brain-cell. I'm not out to defend incompetence when it occurs, but the tedious cheap shot sniping from some people, quick to attack an ISP who have done little or nothing wrong, really does grate. Fast24 are so cheap because they run a tight ship and mainly re-sell others' service. When it works - which is most of the time - that's great, but it means they are entirely at the mercy of the reliability of those they have chosen to buy their provision from, and the world of ISPs is notorious for companies being bound into contracts with suppliers who don't deliver. Indeed that's been the death of a fair few "virtual" ISPs over the years, and I sincerely hope that Fast24 don't go the same way - though the loss of some of these professional whingers from their books probably wouldn't go too far amiss.

As for today ... well it's Friday, innit?

And now it's just about time to shut everything down and head off home for the weekend. Been learning some of the finer points of Wise InstallBuilder today, particularly fun things like building custom dialogue boxes - in this case to offer the user the Hobson's choice of Excel or Star Office spreadsheets. No idea quite what's happening this weekend, apart from tomorrow evening which is a film night round at Simon and Jam's, with "Pitch Black" on the menu. I saw it at the cinema and quite enjoyed it, so will happily partake of it again!

Oooh, got home to find my ISP working again - as I had understood would be the case - and my Amazon gift vouchers in my email, a couple of weeks ahead of schedule! Hmm, now what to buy? Oh, and also a stroppy red-trimmed letter from TV Licensing, who clearly won't rest until I knuckle under and accept bland conformity by getting a television. In my own time, maybe, not theirs.

A slightly frustrating evening, deciding I'd catch up on some web work for Gareth, and hitting technical problems. The main one of those was finding my scanner wouldn't work. It was recognised as connected to the PC, but any more communication than that was doomed to failure. As you know, my PC rebooted the other night when I unplugged the scanner, so I had a horrible feeling I might have blown something in either the scanner itself or the hub, but everything else seemed to be working fine. Anyway, eventually I reinstalled the scanner driver - just as well I had it on a CD-R, all 50Mb of it! - and it seems to be OK now. Not too sure what might have interfered; the modem is the only new thing I've added lately, but I don't really think its driver could have had that effect. But anyway, I managed to get at least some of what I needed done, and I've sifted through the remainder of the stuff I've been given, to decide what's really worth putting on the site, so maybe I'll get that done over the weekend sometime. For now though, bath and bed!

Saturday morning, up bright, reasonably early and at least faintly raring to go. Shame all I really have to do before the evening is wander up to Tesco, but hey, at least I feel a little motivated for once!

Almost four hours later, I guess I'd better be putting the final touches to getting dressed, and toddle over to Tesco. Will make a nice change to be able to walk rather than drive for once, with no bulky items on my shopping list! Especially now I know that much more pleasant route through Kents Hill, and won't be in any real hurry.

Now back from Tesco, and I have done something I wouldn't have believed I'd ever do. I've bought a trivet. Still, at least it wasn't a set of them, and it wasn't from Kaleidoscope or Innovations. Just one, and it's quite understated. I just panic, as a major pizza eater - just in case you didn't realise - that one day I'm going to melt one of my rented work-tops, and hopefully that need not now happen! But mustn't hang around for long; I have a chicken chow mein stir-fry to prepare for a late lunch, and then hopefully I'll get the rest of the updates to Gareth's site done...

Site update done, but it's not a public area yet, so you can't have a look at the present time. Scanner was still a little troublesome, but it got the job done eventually. Anyway, better carry on with getting ready for the film night tonight - given the film we're watching, the commandment has gone out that we should all wear black. Just how gothic can I look? Answer, not very, but I will be wearing entirely black items, even my socks and underpants! And of course my new black shoes, given the trouble I went to in shopping for them the other day in advance of Steve and Kath's wedding...

It's Sunday morning, and I had a fair night's sleep, interrupted by the crash of the Sunday Citizen falling through the letterbox a little while ago. My sleep was undoubtedly helped by the purchase yesterday - at Sarah's suggestion some while back - and use of a sleeping mask to block out stray light. It will take a little getting used to, but it definitely had a positive effect on the quality of the sleep I managed, with entirely normal dreams all night as far as I can remember - and I do tend to remember having abnormal ones, even if not their detail, because they involve me waking up in a panic.

Last night was fun, round at Simon and Jam's for the "Pitch Black" video - and I didn't get home 'til just after midnight in the end. I'd forgotten a fair bit of the plot-line to the film, so could enjoy it as much as anyone - though I'm not much good at getting scared by alleged horror unlike some! Was more comic than anything, most of the time, whether intentionally or not. Oh, and apart from Annette, the level of attire was very black indeed - though Paul really did look like he was about to break out into something distinctly new-romantic, with his spiked hair, black eyeliner and black waistcoat!

It alternates between looking really bright and sunny out, and decidedly threateningly stormy. Pondering going for a walk round Caldecotte Lake, but realise I run a serious risk of getting soaked to the skin. Now it's just actually started pouring with rain, so I'll certainly hold off for a moment! But if I can catch a dry interval, it would do me good; I'm trying to get into a routine of walking somewhere moderately substantial every day, even if it's only something mundane like the journey to and from work or Tesco.

Well I went out for my walk around the lake, and although it spotted with rain at one point, it largely stayed fine if mainly overcast. It took rather longer than I expected, not helped by getting a little lost a couple of times, but I came back via the local centre shop, so have some tea to cook up whenever I feel like it. I feel really quite sleepy now, but once again it's been a weekend when at least I've done something to justify that!

Damn, 710ml of Becks went down extremely easily with my chicken in black-bean sauce ready-meal. Normally I struggle to finish these double-sized bottles - cue sudden flashbacks of Akash Cobra incidents - but no such problem today! As for the meal itself, well it seemed more like a black-bean flavoured stew with noodles, but it was filling enough and I might well go for it again. I guess comparisons with the equivalent prepared at the average Mongolian restaurant are rather unfair - which reminds me, mmmmm, Mongolian...

As James Bond might be tempted to say, "shaken but not stirred". My colleague Sam, who lives just across the close from me, felt last night's earthquake quite distinctly - his flat shaking as if a door had been slammed downstairs but much more powerful - but I more or less slept through it I think. I do have a recollection of hearing what sounded like an alarm going off at one point, thinking at the time it was a figment of my imagination, but it may well have been connected. A few precariously-balanced carrier bags of stuff had fallen to the floor overnight, but that happens at the best of times, so I'm not jumping to any conclusions there!

Anyway, it's Monday morning now, and Tim's back from his week away on the Llangollen Canal, so our office is now back to full strength. I'm trying once again to convene a meeting this morning, but the emails I have sent out have so far met with stunned silence, so I'm not holding out too much hope.

By some miracle, the meeting did happen, though the most important attendee very nearly didn't make it. Anyway, it now means, all being well, that not one but two of my current projects are pretty much done with - and two of the more tedious ones it has to be said. Including the one with the spreadsheets. But now, as soon as Sam's back from wherever he's disappeared off to, it's time to wander home - and hopefully remember to check out the motion detection feature on my webcam for Larry!

Tsk, it seems that the Logitech software I have installed for the camera is not in fact better in every single way than the cut-down version originally supplied by Dexxa - namely in terms of the lack of the motion detection bits. And needless to say, I cannot find the original CD-ROM anywhere, having had no need for it. It may even conceivably have gone in the bin at some point! Just to rub it in, all the third-party motion detection software out there costs money for anything that will record for more than a nanosecond, and the asking price is generally more than the cost of a basic camera... I'm pretty sure the Dexxa software will do what Larry wants, but the only other person I know in the world who's got it never managed to get the camera working at all!

Hey ho, I think I'll take a break from these decidedly un-fruitful fun and games, and go cook myself up some tea of some description. Bye for now!

Mmm, toast. With Marmite and Tesco's low-fat olive oil spread.

And Nutrigrain bars for pudding.

I am realising that one thing my larder is lacking is comfort food. Plenty of comfort drink, but that's another matter entirely.

P.S. Yes, I did have a slightly more substantial lunch.

It's been a long old day at work today, but I'll be heading home imminently. Nothing wildly exciting's been happening, but there's been plenty to keep me busy, the most interesting activities being legitimately ripping mp3 files from a couple of CDs, and testing our new 48x TDK CD-Rs. In the former case I learned that DVD drives are not as reliable as CD-ROM/RW drives for digital audio extraction, and in the latter, I found that the new discs resolutely refuse to work at above 12x speed, which seems a bit of a con when the 24x ones we'd been using up until now worked perfectly fine at 24x. Hey ho!

Back at home now, and having had tea, I'm utterly shattered. I think another early night is on the cards for me. Since using this new mask thing, I've definitely been managing better nights' sleep, with the only real lapses into former unsettledness being when I've realised I've taken the mask off. I had a slightly distressing dream last night, of which there will hopefully be no repetition tonight - though it was not distressing in and of itself, more in terms of realising it wasn't true. Don't you just hate it when that happens?

Aaargh, I was planning to spend today slicing up a 60-odd page Word document into individual documents per page, and doing a little manipulation on them. Except that there's a number of things I've had to query regarding the main document I've been given, so I am wary of doing anything more quite yet, and if past experience is anything to go by, the person who'll know the answers won't be in now until Monday. Being at work this September isn't proving to be as complete a waste of time as I'd perhaps feared, but not far off.

And now the course editor has decided she wants to make some changes to said documents anyway. Who am I to say no, lowly software designer that I am, who they only bother to invite along to their meetings when reminded to do so? Not that missing the odd production meeting is a terrible loss - indeed it's probably better that way on average - but it's the principle of the thing. But as for these changes, well, it's not as if I'll be able to do sod all else before Monday anyway, so the editor might as well do her worst. Just need to decide now whether there's really much point coming into work tomorrow and Friday - or even whether I bother returning from lunch today. Especially since October appears to be turning into September Mk II at this rate, with the hope of ever using my holiday entitlement looking increasingly slim. Do I sound a bit negative about this all? It's not intentional, believe me.

Contrary to expectations, this afternoon isn't being a total waste of time, but it's not being without its fair share of annoyances. Not the least of which was being given a Word document to convert into HTML, which I duly did, but then being provided with an amended document with unspecified changes. When will these people understand it's impossible to do anything final when not only are the goalposts continually being moved, but the pitch seems to be forever shifting under one's feet... I could go on, but frankly it depresses me.

As expected, today's proving to be a pretty much complete waste of time. The only thing that's saved it at all has been sorting out a problem with Jenny's PC, which was rebooting every time she started a 3D screensaver since she updated to Windows XP SP1. Turned out to be a dodgy GeForce video driver that the service pack had apparently installed, and was quickly resolved with a visit to NVIDIA's web site and a quick 10Mb download. I expect my machine had escaped because I had a more recent driver anyway that presumably SP1 had decided was more up to date than its own, even though it dated from May.

Last night at Open House was really good and overran once again, continuing with last week's U2-inspired theme about the inevitability or otherwise of evil and suffering in the world. Perhaps the highlight, though, was getting to lead worship with Annette and Amelia. At Annette's suggestion we'd been having a bit of a jam before the meeting started properly, and Jam then asked if we'd like to lead! So it was all a little unprepared, and I don't yet feel too confident playing guitar, but it wasn't too atrocious and the "audience" wasn't in the least bit critical so I think we'll be invited back...

Hooray, I found something useful to do this afternoon... OK, so it was only converting another Word document into a load of CSS/HTML files, but it filled the time nicely and was sufficiently mindless that I could think of other things for at least most of the time I was doing it!

Aargh, was just caught "talking shop" with Larry. Work is over, done with, finito. Until tomorrow, anyway, it can go forth. Rest, relax, recreate...

Ooh, I've managed to rescue Yrrigs, the mad carpenter, in ADoM. Actually, I managed to rescue him the other day but didn't realise, so had to do it all over again tonight! For my next intrepid quest, I am to tackle the running of the bath and the subsequent occupation of the bed. 'Night folks!

This hasn't been the best of Fridays but it's been quite bearable. Finished off the HTML-coding I started yesterday, and ran a TV themes quiz on the voice conferencing system we're developing, as a test of sorts. That's about it, really, but I can go home in ten minutes whereupon I shall no longer care.

Not exactly sure yet what's happening this weekend, though there are a few tentative plans, including going to watch a play tomorrow, and Lord of the Rings on Sunday. Given that the latter is pretty lengthy, and that I need to do my shopping sometime too, that would probably just about fill the time!

It's still Saturday morning, just about - for once I've been able to make a truly leisurely start to the weekend. Fielded a phone-call or two and some unexpected visitors, but now I'm going to have a bite of breakfast and make a bee-line to the bath! I went out for a pint with Darren last night, and I think he's interested in having lunch out, so I guess I'd better give him a call. Not yet heard anything definite about this play - well, actually a musical, apparently - I'm supposed to be going to either this afternoon or this evening, but it doesn't bother me too much either way to be quite honest.

And lo, we did agree to meet for a visit to Pizza Hut in two hours' time.

Guess I'd better be getting on, in that case!

What a fab day and evening, in the end! Pizza was as good as expected, but Matt also phoned finally to confirm the arrangements for the musical this evening. That was up at Stantonbury Campus, so I agreed I'd pop in and see Darren on the way and give him a little off-the-top-of-my-head advice on audio compressor usage, and then met up with the other guys at the theatre. The musical was "Into The Woods", a subverted fairy-tale by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, and quite amazingly kept my attention for the entire span! I guess I'm a bit of a fan of that broad genre, loving films such as "Shrek" and "The Princess Bride", though I was quite surprised to be so engaged by a musical, and one that apparently had a much higher than average amount of singing in it. Anyway, I'm quite shattered now, and if I am to regain the stamina required to watch the film tomorrow, I'd better be heading for bed!

Sunday morning, after a good night's sleep, and I plan to make the most of a hopefully leisurely day before going round to Sarah's this afternoon for a stroll and tea, and then on to Simon and Jam's for the film. Still got some of the songs from last night ringing round my head - just way too infectious!

Stroll, tea and film were all good to a decidedly fair degree! More tomorrow - or, rather, later today - once I've had some sleep... Night night for now!

Finally I can take a short breather, after quite a busy morning here at work. The highlight was meeting with a few of the academics working on the course I've been writing the microprocessor simulator for. Readers with good memories may recall that during the summer I had implemented a load of stuff on a somewhat speculative basis, entirely unsure of whether the course team would want it. The rationale was that it would be helpful to do the bulk of it during the financial year that ends today, and that if they did happen to like it, we would be considerably ahead of schedule. Anyway, the upshot is, that with a few small issues still to iron out, they like what they've seen and we can push ahead with polishing it. There's no massive hurry, with the course presentation pushed back to 2004 now I believe, but it'll be nice to get some stuff done well before time for once!

As for yesterday, well yes, it was a good day. I was able to enjoy the leisurely start to the day I'd hoped for, and drove round to Sarah's at about three. Margaret was taking Laura out to the cinema, so we had to wait for her to arrive before Sarah, Rachael and I went out for our stroll round Willen Lake. Rachael was a little unwilling, but was fairly happily appeased by a visit to the birdwatching hide and an ice cream. She missed out on the last miniature train ride of the day by seconds, though, having stopped to stroke one too many dogs. Back to the house then to wait for Margaret and Laura's return, and to prepare tea. Incinerated oven chips prompted a quick trip across the road to the kebab van with Laura to pick up a rather more appetisingly-cooked portion, and by the time everything was consumed it was high time I was on my way round to Simon and Jam's for the film.

So, at last, almost a year on from its cinema release, I got round to watching The Fellowship of the Ring. I'd been resisting quite defiantly, and was very nearly caught off my guard at Greenbelt by Jo and friends last month, but last night I gave in. It was long, and it felt it, but not for any shortage of story, action or anything - and with a few exceptions it was visually stunning too. I've not read the books either, so it was all new to me - or would have been but for the fact that the books provide the basic inspiration for pretty much every fantasy created since. I can see echoes from it in everything from the Harry Potter series to Star Wars; the profoundness of the world and concept of Tolkien's writing really is immeasurable. But was it life-changing, as others have found it? Er, no, but I'm glad I've seen it - and won't now have to sit through another three hours of it!

My flat is cleaned in advance of Wednesday's inspection - hardly immaculate, but a definite improvement, and it all smells so lemon fresh! And finally sent out the first wave of invitations for my belated flat-warming in just under a fortnight's time - amazingly, no bounced emails yet! Still got to send out the invitations to my colleagues, which I'll do tomorrow from work. I'm keeping it all pretty local, but if you're reading this from further afield and think you'd like to make the trip for what will be quite a modest do, please let me know and I'll send you the details as soon as possible!

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