alink="#FF7F00" vlink="#8050A0">


This document has been hand-written using vi ("vee-eye") in Linux: no HTML editors were used and no animals - other than the occasional long- legged wobbly spider - were harmed in its construction.

Saturday June 12 2004, 07:44

Happy Birthday Bill! Bill is Tam's son, and he's.. er.. 1? Possibly.
What a week it's been! Actually it's been more like a fortnight: two weeks of total anxiety, lack of sleep and lots of fussing around... talking of which, I've got to go! I'm going to London. No, I didn't just decide to go in the previous minute - it's been planned for some time. I haven't been out of Devon for years - not since I was about 11 years old. I'm getting a coach from Barnstaple to Victoria Coach Station in London, and Simon's going to meet me ("just stay there," said Tam, "don't move!").

I haven't decided what I'm going to do when I get there, other than check into the hotel where I am staying (thanks to Simon and Tam for lending me the money) and I'm going to be visiting Ben and his family.

Wednesday April 21 2004, 19:13

I knew it'd be weird and I wasn't wrong: it's been the strangest couple of months in my whole life. I've basically got all my stuff and have shifted it, along with me, a few miles north. For the first three days, I couldn't sleep and I made several attempts to go back to Brook, as if I could just open the door and move back in again; this was not to be - since all of my belongings were at the chalet, I had to go back.

Two months later, I've got a phone line and am getting used to this place. At first, the noise of typical urban life was unbearable - every barking dog or slamming car door would cause a burst of adrenaline. I missed being able to wake up and look out of the window and see a field or a sunrise - where I am, there are buildings on all sides of the house and the sky is not visible; I can't believe how much that made a difference to the way I felt.

It all happens a week from now: the old house is going up for auction. I'm not sure what I'm going to be doing for the next few months. I would like to move back to West Down, and I might be living in a caravan, but it would need planning permission if I want to site it anywhere other than a caravan site. The district council's planning rules seem very inflexible and illogical.

Gotta go now - I'm drunk (drinking red wine - Shiraz Cabernet - good stuff). It's great being back on the Net!

Thursday February 26 2004, 14:22

Well, folks, it's all happening: the move is on. Tonight, Simon and Elly are journeying down from London and they're going to hire a van to move all of my garbage^Wequipment out of this place and to my new abode.

I've posted 'thank you' cards to my neighbours, and the utilities are set to cease next week - they'll send me a couple of rather inflated bills, I expect.

It's going to be weird, scary and pretty strange. I'll be on the Net so this diary will continue to be updated.

Other stuff: it snowed last night, and I woke up to find that the bedroom was very cold and the bathroom was absolutely freezing. I wish I could write something interesting for this entry, but.. you know.. me brain's all woolly.

Wednesday February 11 2004, 06:24

As of yesterday (I think), Ben's website is available at and not at the Freeserve address any more. I hope he doesn't mind me writing that here.

Thursday February 5 2004, 23:00

Things are going crazy around here right now: I've decided on a moving-out date (Feb 29) and am preparing to shift a lot of my junk to a flat in Ilfracombe, where I will be staying for an unknown period of time. I've moved house twice before, and I don't think I'll ever get used to it - before the move, I'm working out when I will move, where I will move and how; after the move, I feel alone in a strange place, with everything being unfamiliar and my usual daytime/nighttime routine in confusion.

The closer I get to my official time of departure, the more anxious I get: my dreams have turned very strange lately, with lots of noisy, confused imagery and uncertainty. There are some good points: I'll be back in a town with some larger shops - the village shop is okay but they can't stock everything, so I've got used to going into Barnstaple for that. I'll be a few miles further away from there, but I can get the bus as usual.

In spite of all this fretting, I'm excited about having a new place and making it my own bit of space on this cluttered planet. I'll meet new neighbours. I am happy about being closer to the sea, since the flat is on the harbour, although there are houses blocking the view. Stay tuned to this diary to see how things turn out! Oh, one thing: I won't have Internet access until I get a telephone line, but I might be able to go to the library, if they have a 'net facility.

Meanwhile, I've been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto. My sister, her husband and baby son William visited, too: they took me to a barber's in Ilf where I got my head shaved (a 'number three', this was called, apparently) and we had a Chinese meal.

Friday January 16 2004, 14:25

It's now 19:25 LST ('Lex Standard Time': my egocentric way of knowing what time it is for me) and I'm listening to 'Belong' - one of many R.E.M. songs that I copied to the Xbox for continuous playback. I've just finished hacking up a new cable for the speakers on Attraction (a screensaver, a horse, a Nokia tune but in this case, a computer on Brooknet) and am quite pleased that everything works. I'm going to be dismantling everything when I move - good thing that the knowledge to put it back together is stored in my brain, and that's not going to get moved.

'Belong' turns into 'Texarkana' - in my opinion, the best song from the 'Out Of Time' album, though 'Belong' and 'Endgame' are also very good. I like this song for its sense of space and travel, and I have dreamed about it a few times.

Dinner = lasagne, bought at Barnstaple Somerfield. I think that's all that I have to say - I haven't got any opinion on anything today, and I'm not in a mood or pissed off about the news. I was a little bit annoyed by it this morning, so I just crashed a few cars in Grand Theft Auto and did some missions (I had the mish with the radio-controlled cars and one of the mob assassinations, which was nice).

Wednesday January 14 2004, 21:18

Grand Theft Auto! Got it! I have been into Barnstaple, and there I did purchase the Grand Theft Auto 3 Doublepack, for the Xbox. I played it non-stop for around 8 hours yesterday, and that left me feeling rather dizzy, but it was fun. I started off by following the missions and getting used to the game. After a couple of hours, I went 'freelance' and just stole a lot of taxis, did some Mafia jobs and attempted to improve my driving. Having played the game a lot on the Playstation 2, I didn't need much time to get back into the fray again. The Xbox version seems more colourful, and the graphics seem different somehow. I also think that the car is a lot harder to drive on the Xbox version, though that might just be down to me being rubbish at driving, and the fact that I've got one of those big clunky old original Xbox controllers and not the smaller 'S-Type'.

Other stuff that I've been doing: oversleeping, then not sleeping, then not sleeping again. It's been a strange week. Beware, the next couple of diary entries are depressing (IMHO).

Monday January 12 2004, 00:52

More spleen-venting follows.

Having read back the diary entry that I wrote below, and listening to the news on the radio, I conclude with the following statement: us Brits don't 'alf whinge, don't we? In the news today: Robert Kilroy-Silk is accused of political incorrectness for writing some silly things in a newspaper column, a report (another one) claims that Scottish salmon is 'poisonous'; another report says 'chicken has pork in it!' Well, spank me with a kipper (better not make it a salmon) and call me Ethel! This 'chicken-bulking' thing has been doing the rounds for a long time - it is not 'news'. As to the Scottish salmon thing: it's bull (not pork.. now I'm being silly); eat enough of anything and it will kill you. Crossing the road kills you. Falling out of bed kills you. Breathing kills you (oxygen is toxic). Life kills you - Kurt Cobain was right.

Kilroy-Silk said some stupid things and should say sorry - and that's the end of it; let's not all get caught up in a meaningless cycle of 'bang and blame' (to quote R.E.M.). I blame the newspapers and the journalists - they have a 'slow news day' and have to create something out of nothing. I don't read the papers, but given the current price and quality of toilet paper (see below for that one), I might consider buying one so I have something to wipe my arse on.

I don't like to rant; it's not smart and since this diary is on the Net, I am held responsible for anything that I write... but honestly, what is happening to the western world? Is it just me? Stop blaming everyone else and get a grip, folks. I reckon I should take my own advice, actually - ha.. that's funny. Anyway, on with the show.

I think a visit to is called for - I wonder if it's still about?

By the way, I just had a chicken & ham slice, and very good it was, too.

Sunday January 11 2004, 19:52

Warning: this diary entry is depressing! Again!

It's been AGES since I've written anything in this thing, innit? That's due to my laziness, and nothing much happening around here. Actually, things are happening, but they're happening slowly and in a manner designed to cause me as much annoyance as possible - everything in my life is currently either confusing, uncertain, irritating or depressing, or a mixture of all of the above. You can see what kind of a mood I'm in today: I've decided that all of the anxiety-provoking stimuli in my life can be traced to one thing: toilet paper. Here's what I wrote in my IRC log; if you're interested, my IRC server is occasionally available on - go to the channel named '#tea' at around 17:30 British time if you want to see what I'm like when I've just woken up (if you don't get a connection, it probably means that I'm offline).

> Although the toast was good and everything's fine, I'm in rather a
> disgruntled mood.  Okay, to me, everything isn't fine: I somehow
> managed to get margarine on my pullover, there's water everywhere, and
> I'm basically clumsy.  This annoys me.  I'll feel better after I've had
> a cuppa.  The hectic pace of modern life, eh?
> (That was sarcasm)
> 19:39: When it comes down to it, I reckon that my 'morning misery' is
> caused by one simple thing: the toilet paper.  It's always the pathetic
> cheap, thin rip-off (literally) toilet paper that gets me in a bad mood.
> I'll get some 'Charmin' or 'Andrex' on Tuesday - none of this cheap stuff.
> I hate cheap bog roll.
> It's not even that, even: it's the fact that I seem to be striving to
> make my life better and more pleasant, and something always reminds me
> that in the end, everything's crap; that's what it is.
> Of course, I bring everyone else down as well.  I sound like Marvin THe
> Paranoid Android.  See that 'H' instead of 'h'?  That was it - the random
> uncertainty of my life.
> (Don't worry, I'll snap out of it I'm often like this in the morning -
> not that it really is a 'morning' - it's an 'evening'..)
And do I feel better after having had a cuppa? Yes and no - I feel better physically, but I am still 'seething away' mentally, with my emotions simmering just under the surface, waiting for some teensy, tiny thing to trigger an explosion of exasperated annoyance. Sometimes I just wake up in this mood and after a few hours of stomping around, growling at things, my mood vanishes suddenly and I find everything stupidly funny. This lasts for another four or five hours, and then I feel 'normal' again.

This week may have contributed to my emotional state: my dad visited. This is usually a good thing, except this time, I was left wondering why on Earth there's this great emotional gulf between me and my father, and why we never say anything to each other. To his credit, Dad did ask me "Is there anything you'd like to ask me?". It seemed quite absurd that he should suddenly ask that, and I was quite taken aback. I honestly couldn't think of anything to say, so I said "No - is there anything that you'd like to ask me?", to which he said "No." - and that was it. He spent his Christmas in a Buddhist retreat, and he talked about that - though not to me; he was talking to my grandmother. I thought that that sounded interesting - lots of blokes sitting around a table, eating, not saying anything (es ist verboten), and then going off and sitting in silence - that kind of thing. Other than that conversation, nothing much was said: an Indian meal was eaten, and we watched Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers. I'm not an LOTR person, so I excused myself and left; it's a long film, anyway. There was a talking tree, some orks and these little grunty guys, a Gollum and that magician bloke (you can tell I know my LOTR! Not!). Whenever I talked to my dad, I kept wishing that my sisters could have been there to 'interpret' - Tam and Elly seem to be quite good at working out what it is that I am talking about, and talking to Dad in a way that he can understand it, and vice versa. I wouldn't mind if Dad read this, but he doesn't know my website URL, and anyway, he doesn't 'surf the Net'.

I didn't do Christmas - skipped it again: it was a tiring, tedious week in which I avoided anything remotely to do with it. People still bought me cards and presents. I got my gran a DVD ('Perfect Storm'), but it was not a Christmas present - as I kept telling people, "I'm not doing it - I'm not religious and so I'm not going to follow someone else's idea of what I should be doing, so I'm not going to do anything". Sally went to a celebration of the winter solstice. Now, that I do believe in: it's a concrete fact that at one time in the year, the day is going to be at its shortest and at another time, it'll be at its longest. Why don't we celebrate that any more? That's something real and physical. Why don't we? Cos' the Christians came over and pummeled our Pagan festivals into submission, that's why. Actually, that's probably not the whole reason - history isn't my strong point - I just know that it's not what I'm into, so I'm not doing it... but why isn't there something for people who don't want to do it, eh? It's as if no-one on this miserable little island can even conceive of there not being a Christmas.

In a couple of months or so, I will be moving house: I will be out of here and will be staying in Ilfracombe for a while. I'm not sure how long I'll be there as everything is uncertain; the North Devon District Council's planning regulations made sure of that - will anything satisfy them, ever? I have no idea where I'll be living at the end of this year, and what's going to happen with 'all my stuff' and .. and... I'm confused. I feel old; I'm 35 but I feel as if I'm in my mid-sixties. Life grinds you down, doesn't it? I'm done now - finished this diary entry: there's nothing else to whinge about [not for a few hours, anyway, I write later].

Sorry. I'll snap out of it in a few hours, honest - I'm always like this in the morning. Not that it is a morning... said that already.

P.S. I'm off ISDN and back on good-ol' slow POTS ('Plain Old Telephone Service'). That means that the signals from my modem are going through 5 miles of rusty old cable, so I'm not getting as fast a Net connection as I got before. I couldn't afford the ISDN any more and I'm going to move soon. Sorry... so sorry. I sound like Arnold Rimmer now.

Saturday October 4 2003, 21:17

I've added a couple of new sections in the main website since I last wrote: some information on resources if you're wishing to buy or repair an old Sinclair ZX80 computer, and getting the Universal Amiga Emulator (UAE) working on a very old SPARC computer (ow, that was loud: I've got it running now, and it's running the Amiga game 'Parasol Stars').

I haven't much else to report except to say that things are moving on the housing front: looks like I'm going to be living in a converted stable in a few months time, and this place (Brook Cottage) will be sold - so I'll have to find somewhere to put my computers.

Monday September 8 2003, 19:57

This is one of those irritating entries in which not much is said except "I'm still here" and "sorry I haven't written anything for a bit". I've been preoccupied with computing projects which have gone from being an idle curiosity to a fully-fledged 'project' in no time at all. I am interrupted from my typing by a 'wall' message ('wall' means 'write all' - it's a Unix command) that tells me 'wakey wakey!' and beeps. I set one of my computers to wake me after I'd been asleep for 5.5 hours, but I woke up after 4 hours, having not been able to sleep well on the couch. Prior to sleeping, I'd been awake for > 18 hours and although I didn't feel tired, felt that I should sleep because I couldn't think of anything else to do. While I was feeding the cat, Dom called and asked if I could 'plug him in'. What he means is that he requests that I plug the 50-metre Cat5 networking cable into the hub, so he can go on the Net. I'm considering getting rid of that cable and just buying a couple of 802.11b-compatible wireless network cards, because they're so cheap now.

"I love the smell of rabbit in the morning," I write in my IrcLog as I prepare Bo's catfood. This is from 'Apocalypse Now', by the way. I found several instances of 'I love the smell of napalm in the morning' and one of 'I love the smell of toast in the morning' (from a review that someone had written about a toaster), but oddly, I didn't find 'I love the smell of morning in the napalm' - probably because it makes no sense. This is why I don't just paste my IRC log directly into this document - it would be full of noise:

 19:33: Interesting.. because the rapidly-thinning line of sunlight
 on the hill is a gold colour, it [causes] certain-coloured objects [to]
 appear brighter.
 The grass looks very bright green and the hedges look quite dim.  There's
 a bright red object that looks like some kind of skip in the right field.
 It looks very bright because of its colour: I don't normally notice it.
 PB served.
 Didn't I just say that?  Yes - and not only that, I've eaten it. I
 thought I could taste Peanut Butter.

See what I mean? I regularly write the times that I serve toast, the time that I serve tea and the amount of time that has elapsed since the previous cuppa (this is 'TSLT': 'Time Since Last Tea'). Occasionally it occurs to me that I am becoming obsessed with these things - these tiny connections between one day and another that give it structure, when I can't count on the sun rising in the morning and setting at night. In my life, the sun can rise at whatever time it wants, and it usually does this when I've been awake all night and am least expecting bright sunlight to shine straight into the kitchen.

The milk tanker that regularly goes to Easterground to pick up milk (odd, that!) returns. This is a daily thing and I've become used to the sound of its engine. It's a long vehicle and is coloured white. I'll end the diary entry now, since it is, as Dom would say, 'gram b'tide'. I haven't a clue what this means. Remember, you can email me on lex <at> brooknet <dot> freeserve <dot> co <dot> uk. If you want me to see the mail, please include the phrase '[nospam]' somewhere in the subject so that my advanced spam filtering system (don't think so..) marks the mail as not being spam.

(Another 'wall' message appears: "Last warning!" it says, sternly. It doesn't know that I've been awake for hours.)

More typical Lex acronyms or phrases:

Bogon: Bo (the cat) has left the building
LTR: Leaving the room (not 'later')
LTK: Leaving the kitchen
Boh!: Exclamation of happy surprise
PB: Peanut Butter
TB: Tea Brewing
Phil: Philadelphia (Cheese - soft cheese made by Kraft Foods)

Sunday August 10 2003, 14:50

The following diary entry is from my IRC log, which is a little like a personal diary. I tend to write the same type of thing in there that I do in this page, except that it's a little more 'raw' - more noise and with no edits.

14:29: Morning.

I dreamed again - I always dream, but it was one of my 'city dreams'. Everything's so bright as I walk from street to street, walking through shops as if I am a disembodied entity - drifting effortlessly from one place to another, following the crowd. I ended up at a cafe, drinking coffee with a woman who had blonde hair and looked like Jenna Elfman (I saw 'EdTV' last night - she plays the character named 'Shari').

She said she was an avatar. She used words like 'focus' and 'icon' as she described her environment. I didn't think she was real, though she stood out from the blandness of her surroundings as if she was glowing. When I awoke, I was surprised and disappointed that I was my old self and not the confident easy-going man who I had played in the dream. I'm sure I borrowed a lot of my dream from William Gibson. Sorry dude - my dreams often have the quality of lucidity of your books.

Shit, it's hot; I thought they said it was going to be a bit cooler today. It's 25C in here (kitchen).

I originally woke up at 13:00, after my watch went off and the phone rang: I'd booked a reminder call. I went back to sleep and had the dream. I awoke at 14:15.

I can't wait for winter; I'm remembering the days when I would walk around the house clad in a blanket and three layers of clothing. This heat isn't normal, though I can remember another very hot summer from my youth - 1977, maybe.

Okay, it is breakfast time - toast on.

Friday August 8 2003, 19:47

When the phone rang this morning, I didn't answer - I never answer in the morning, cos' that's when I am usually asleep. I didn't answer when it rang yesterday, either. My sleep pattern being what it is, I'm awake all night and asleep for the early part of the day.

Elly called me in the afternoon and told me some bad news: my dad's wife, Lynda, has died. I had been out of touch with my dad for a few months, after he and Lynda left for Spain; so I found myself getting news second- hand via my sisters. My dad and his wife were going to buy some land in Spain and build a house there. They'd sold their house in the U.K., and had packed their bags and were boarding a plane, when they heard the news that the land that they were going to buy had been sold to someone else. Basically, they'd been 'gazumped' - someone had made a higher offer for the land, and it was sold.

They stayed at a friend's house in France, and it was while this was going on that Lynda became ill. She'd had treatment for cancer, and - er.. I don't know the medical terms - but basically she was ill because her immune system hadn't recovered fully after the treatment. On Thursday, she died. Me being me, I didn't find out until Friday afternoon.. sigh.

I called my dad a few minutes ago; it was difficult for me to find any words other than 'hmm' - I found that any ideas of what I was going to say had just evaporated in the summer heat. Dad said that he's going to come home in a few days time. I feel so weird, what with the sudden heatwave that has hit Britain this week - I wish it was cooler.

Other news from the previous month: not much - I went to the doctors and got some hayfever pills and antibiotics because I had an ear infection. This isn't news, is it? To tell you the truth (or what passes for it in my confused mind), all of my niggly little problems suddenly seem very small. I also feel quite useless, sitting here at this computer, somewhere in Devon. I'm wondering why I didn't go to London when my sisters did, in 1990. There's no point me going over all that stuff now - it's done with - gone.

I so wish this heat wave would go, so I could think clearly again.

Friday July 4 2003, 04:26

Phew, it's warm, innit? This British summer has been relatively cool so far, but it's still too warm for me - I like the temperature in the kitchen to remain around 13 deg. C, and it's currently 21 - too hot.

This is a short diary entry as I haven't much to mention, except that Sally and I went to Baggy Point yesterday. We walked along the cliff top and watched the sea in the distance - slate-gray waves perturbed by small ripples (the sea was calm). This Sally is an occupational therapist who visits occasionally, just to make sure that I'm on the 'straight and level' - she's not the same Sally who I mentioned before. I talked a lot about dreams and precognition, and we saw a house that looked as if it definitely didn't belong there - it was a bright concrete-white colour, and it was all geometric angles that looked like lots of clashing cuboid shapes. There was something unsettling about it - it looked industrial and it definitely did not belong in a landscape of gorse and brush grass, by the sea.

My email address, should anyone wish to contact me and tell me what I should improve about this site (maybe move this page into a number of smaller sections?) is XLE (at) ROOKNETB (dot) REESERVEF (dot) OC (dot) UK - instructions to getting a sensible address out of that:

1. Lowercase the uppercase letters
2. Turn the (at) or (dot) into symbols
3. Rotate word 1 back one letter
4. Rotate word 2 forward one letter
5. Rotate word 3 forward one letter
6. Rotate word 4 any direction :)
7. Word 5 is unrotated.
The above disguise is necessary because I get a lot of spam.

Wednesday July 2 2003, 18:19

Compared to the usual state of things around here, this week's been completely crazy - hence the strange entries in this diary: if I am going through a weird unstable phase, here's the first place that you'll see it.

I started preparing for my birthday about a week before the event; I considered what it would be like to be 35 and whether it would be that much different than being 34. The answer is 'no' - not immediately, anyway: getting older is a gradual process and there isn't a sudden change on a birthday - unless it's some artificial boundary like the age of consent or the age at which you can drive a car. Time flows smoothly and things happen gradually; this means that I don't notice them - I find this scary.

To take my mind off of all this, I went into Barnstaple yesterday and bought a pair of trousers (cheers Dad!) and a system upgrade for one of my computers (Winter). Since I had about 160 quid on me, I wasn't expecting to get much - I thought I might get another Xbox or a tent (Elly suggested that). I went to P.C.S. and was accosted at the door by Philip, who works there and is a sort of co-manager, along with Richard, who started the shop long ago - 1990, I think. Philip was enthusiastic about a very smart P.C. case that had a temperature monitor and easy device installation and removal. "It costs around 120," he said, "but it's worth it."

I told Philip that I was just 'window shopping' and I didn't know what I wanted yet, so he left me to shuffle about, peering at boxes of gadgets. He suggested a processor and motherboard upgrade, but I figured there was no way I could afford this. Wrong! The prices were totally cheap - and this is starting to sound like an advertisement for P.C.S., so I'll conclude this quickly - I bought an Athlon 1700XP+ CPU, motherboard (Jetway V400DB, which has a VIA KT400/VT8235 chipset with onboard AC97 audio) and 256MB of DDR RAM. I'm going to get another 256MB when I purchase my next graphics card, which might not be for a while as I have to pay the bills now, before they come round and cut the electricity off. At the time of purchase, I couldn't believe that I was actually buying an Athlon - I remember talking to Philip about buying an 800 MHz Athlon and a new board; the price he had quoted then (2001?) was .. well, it was expensive.

Imagine this scene: I'm sitting in a small carpeted room on the ground floor of a small cottage in the country. Outside, the birds sing and flitter from tree to tree. Occasionally a tractor or lorry goes by. I pay no attention to this though, as I am engrossed in the task of servicing computers: I am surrounded by three computer cases and numerous motherboards and tools. It takes me a few hours to do the following:

1. Remove old Pentium 'TopGun' motherboard from one case, install new V400DB motherboard and memory, cards, hard drive and processor. Test, reassemble.

2. Do something with the old case.

3. Install TopGun motherboard in another case, donated by Ben. This case was home to the venerable 'Revelstone' computer.

I started around 15:00 and finished the next morning (Wednesday - this morning) at 06:00. The reason that it took me so long was due to the VIA motherboard having an irritating fault with the speaker which would cause a voltage drop on the main 5V line when the speaker made a sound. This drop was sufficient to cause the processor to reset, so the motherboard would typically boot up, attempt to beep, reset, boot up again, try to beep again, reset - and so on until the voltage drop was sufficiently small that it wouldn't affect the CPU. This seems like a very simple fault to fix, but it bothered me because I couldn't see how the speaker was connected. I thought it might be something like this:

                       ---------------------------------------- Vcc/5V
                                    | | /|
                                    | |/ |  SPEAKER
                                    |_|\ |
                                     |  \|
                     resistor        /  c
                        __     b    /
VIA chipset   port| ---|__|-------|/
                                  |\     TRANSISTOR (supposed to be NPN)
				     | e
				    | |
				    | |
			_____________|__________________________ Vee/0V

It's not easy to draw a circuit schematic in ASCII, but I'm hoping this explains it - it's a simple transistor switch. What, I supposed, if the current limiting resistor has shorted out? This would cause a large current to flow through the transistor when it turns on, and this might be sufficient to cause a spike on the supply. I further decided that the spike might be occurring when the transistor switches off, not on - the inductive load presented by the speaker means that it would oppose current when it first flows, and would oppose the change of current when the transistor switches off. Something I've never been able to work out is how the current flow occurs when the transistor's off, cos' it won't be conducted through the collector and emitter, so does it flow through the collector and base instead? Possibly. I used to know how this worked, but since I decided to concentrate on computing, I've forgotten a lot of the simple electronics theory that I was taught at school.

The reset action would not happen if I increased the impedance of the speaker from 8 ohms to 32 ohms, by using a smaller speaker (an earphone speaker). This was far too small to make a loud sound, so I was at the point of giving up when it occurred to me that simply putting a silicon diode between the speaker and Vcc would prevent current from flowing back in the other direction when the transistor switched off. I did this and it worked - the sound worked and the computer didn't reset!

The sensible thing to have done would be to take the motherboard back to the shop and swap it, but at this point I was completely off my head - tired (had been awake for 20 hours when I started and 36 when I finished) and drunk, again - drinking lager may not be good for me, but it is something that I have taken to doing when I can't sleep and can't relax. It had the side-effect of making me rant uncontrollably about the state of the country and then writing out a list of silly computer names which included such awful girls' names as 'Veronique' and 'Emmeline'. I don't like giving computers human names, but when I'm drunk I don't think clearly and the usual rules don't apply.

I'll roll the clock forward a bit so the scene now looks like this: it's 6 a.m. and is light outside - again. I have moved around the room and am now standing by the radiator, shouting at a stubborn computer case. "Bast! Bast! You bast!" I squeak. I had relocated the Topgun motherboard to Rev's old case, but it is warped and things don't line up properly. After I'd finally got it back together, I notice that the front of the VGA card is bent - warped by the distortion of the case. Not wanting to damage it, I open the case again and try to straighten the card. It takes me a long time to do this and when I put the lid on again, there is an obvious gap between the VGA socket on the front of the card and the edge of the case: it's a close call, but the monitor plug just about reaches it. Circ's old tower case had a similar warp to it - for some reason, the chassis in these old steel cases become badly misaligned with the case after a couple of years' use.

I went to bed at 08:15, having been awake for almost 39 hours. I wake up at 15:43, when the telephone rings: it's my grandmother telling me that a man is coming to inspect the gas appliances - a yearly occurrence. Before I went to bed, I ran a few tests on Winter's upgraded system to check that it all worked - it did, and it was as fast as a greased ferret down a bolthole! Whereas I was used to waiting for things to complete - file listings, sort operations, archiving, kernel compilation - this time, I didn't need to wait for anything. I thought that I'd need a driver from VIA for AGP, sound and USB. I don't need one for USB as it's standard usb-uhci, though I've had a few odd kernel messages crop up. I was delighted to find that NVIDIA's driver supports this chipset. The Linux hackers are working on VT8235 support in the agpgart module, and there's a backport to 2.4. I'll try this, maybe, after I've backed everything up.

So far, not a pipsqueak has been heard from the audio - I'll be checking that out soon. The Wimbledon coverage finishes - it's been constant, keeping my mind occupied while I wrestle with fiddly leads and awkward PCI cards. Sometimes, it has become annoying, because I am not very interested in it. It's summat to listen to, though, innit?

Monday June 30 2003, 07:07

It's Monday and on the radio, Guy and Mickey talk about the state of the housing market. A few months ago, I discussed a similar subject with my dad. "No, the market won't crash," said my Dad, "the banks control the interest rates and they wouldn't let it fall too much." What do I hear today but that there could be a crash on the way? I won't say "I told you so" because I'm not that mean.

It's uncomfortably warm today, and I am considering going into Barnstaple and 'going a bit mad'. For me, this means stupidly buying something that I don't need and then regretting it for months afterwards. The last time I did this was January, when I bought an Xbox. What am I thinking of buying today, you wonder? Well, it might be another Xbox. I was going to get a Playstation 2 but I although I love Gran Turismo and Grand Theft Auto, I reckon that I'd grow tired of them rather quickly, and the Xbox is a challenge that continues to grow as the Xbox Linux Project conquer more barriers that Microsoft place in their path. But hey, I might not buy one - I was going to get a hard drive, but I reckon that 80G of basic storage isn't that much, and I don't like the idea of paying for something that will eventually wear out (so will the Xbox, come to think of it, but I get more fun out of it in the meantime - and one day I will wear out and I can't be replaced as easily as a hard drive).

This morning's shopping expedition will be to celebrate my 35th birthday, when I am supposed to grow ever more responsible and serious. No chance, I say: I'm just as stupid and reckless as I was ten years ago, but I'm fatter now. I promised everyone I'd settle the bills that are forever hanging over my head, but after I'd worked it all out, I realised that I owe approximately 60 more than I have to spend; my strange sense of logic deduced that it would be better for me to spend some money and have a laugh - and regret it later - than to spend 'responsibly' on bills - and be just as miserable as ever - afterwards.

I might just do something different though - depends how much I want to mess my life up. I'm 35, by the way; another year passes and I wonder for how long I will be living here, with my life endlessly cycling in a hopelessly predictable pattern, like the spinning Mandelbrot animation in Xscreensaver.

I'll end the diary entry on that upbeat note.


'Dining room': the flicker of candlelight and computer monitors, and one drunken computer fool walking around in an anticlockwise direction.

Slightly bemused by his lack of direction, [one rotation] hey you, hey you

Came to this world by Caesarian section, [another rotation] hey you, hey you

Chooses his clothes to match his pallid complexion [one more rotation]

Now it takes him all day just to get an erection, hey you, [rotation]

Things aren't what they seem [one more rotation]

It makes no sense at all [etc.]

Things aren't what they seem [another rotation..]

It makes no sense at all [round and round]

Goes out to cruise and to meet his connection

Hey you, hey you [You'd think I'd get dizzy, but I don't!]


I'm walking around the room, listening to Placebo and reading Bunnie Huang's article on Xbox hardware protection.

I'm a bit drunk: I get like this when I'm drunk. By the way, Brian says 'Luxembourger queen' at the end - says it a few times (I was on a lyrics site and they couldn't work out what it was - Luxembourg is a small European country). There's something in the music that calls to me, so I always end up listening to it when inebriated. I didn't go shopping after all - figured that I'd need a bit more money in case I want to get an Xbox memory card. I'll be going tomorrow.

Saturday June 14 2003, 21:43

I'm an uncle.. again! Tam's had a baby! This was expected, since she was pregnant. The baby is, according to Russell and Elly, rather a large baby boy. Looks like he's going to be named 'William'. It's Elly's birthday tomorrow, so she's taken a break from looking after her own offspring and is out on the town, in Brixton. I called her mobile and spent a lot of time shouting and hearing other people yelling down the phone at me, in return. It was very noisy there. "We're drinking saki!" yelled Ruth. I kept going on about webcams, cos' this is one thing I would like to do: to see someone who I know on a public webcam. "There's Leicester Square, and Trafalgar Square, and there's the Cafe Nero in Soho, and.." blah blah. Ruth said all of those places were "central London" and they were 'on the outskirts'.

I've spent much time looking at the Camvista webcams lately, and am currently watching the New York cam. Busy people rush through rain-soaked streets, hurrying to their destinations. Something I don't understand is why so few of these people are dressed for the weather: many are wearing light shirts and summer clothing, in spite of torrential rain coming down. No-one looks very happy - their faces show a grim determination and a need to follow the flow of the crowd. Once in a while I see someone standing in a clearing, just looking at the mayhem of the crowd. Crowd behaviour interests me. I was watching this morning, when it would have been around 04:30 a.m. in NY; I saw it get light, though it's hard to see the sky because of all the neon displays. A man was pushing a trolley around.

In West Down, it is getting dark - the birds are roosting. Happy birthday Elly! Sleep well, Tam & new baby! Did I say that I think they're going to call him 'William'? Yes. Okay.

Wednesday June 4 2003, 22:43

Isn't the world a weird place? It's disaster and mayhem one minute, hilarious and bizarre events the next. You gotta laugh, eh? Well, I either laugh or I turn the radio off and stomp off to find something geeky to do.

Dom's got a new car! It's a Nissan - I forget the make [it's a Honda Prelude!]. It's cherry red. I haven't seen it yet, but it'll be here soon. I called Dom but he didn't answer the phone; this probably means that he is driving.

This afternoon, I dreamed of a mix of Giger-esque imagery and Big Brother- like paranoia: I saw a woman, tightly curled into a foetal position, being manoevred into position for despatching to a vast conveyor belt-like structure. Overhead, a robotic voice droned, "The next escutcheon is ready". The woman wore flimsy clothing and was quite attractive - meaning that I'd better stop drinking lager in the early afternoon, cos' it makes me dream strangely. :) Typically, I awoke feeling that I had hardly got a wink of sleep, and I am feeling quite tired now. The dream wasn't at all disturbing; in spite of the mix of sexuality and technology, it didn't have the claustrophobic elements of H.R. Giger's work. I'm surprised I don't dream about penguins, being into Linux as I am.

I type 'escutcheon belt' into Yahoo's search system and am surprised to find an article titled "Achievements In The Adrian Empire". It shows several types of crown and coronet. I don't think that this has much in common with my dream; I think that I must have been dreaming about Dom's car and it was translated into the usual surreal dream imagery. "Remove the belt and chord pulley drive," I mutter. My dreams bleed into reality, and vice versa, and when I'm on LambdaMOO, that gets into everything. Tomorrow's dream will be completely different, I assure you.

Computer stuff: my diskless node ('Desertstar') now has 288M RAM and is off for most of the time. I just thought it might be a good idea if I bought some RAM for it - I haven't got a clue what I'm going to do with it.

Wednesday May 21 2003, 18:51

I'm very tired (have had many long days recently), so I'll keep this diary entry short. I've totally redone the ISDN system: I removed ISDN4Linux and am now using AVM's CAPI2.0 system. This is good because it means that at last I can add a proper voicemail/control system to my ISDN and have the computer go on the Net as well. I currently am trying out lots of different stuff but I usually have an answering machine-type application running on my usual ISDN number (being (+44) 1271 866907 or 01271 866907 if you live in the U.K.). Something I have been thinking about doing is a random record/play thing where folks leave messages and other folks get a random message when they leave theirs. I think this would be open to abuse, though, so I might do something else. If any readers of this page want to test the system, feel free to give me a call on the above number: it being ISDN, nothing rings or beeps or anything - it's completely silent.

Other news: I went into Barnstaple yesterday and being tired, I snapped into my 'shopping trance' almost immediately. It's a very pleasant feeling, drifting from shop to shop and letting one's feet walk along at their own pace. I felt as if I was out-of-body most of the time, and the only time I actually paid attention was when I needed to make a decision.

I went into 'Our Price' and bought a DVD. I left the store, walked around a bit, went back and browsed a bit more. I decided that I liked the music that was playing, so I bought the CD. It was Ministry Of Sound's Chillout CD. When I'm in the trance that I spoke of, I tend to be rather susceptible to ambient inputs (whatever that means) and I reckon the salespeeps can sense this. Mind you, the man I spoke to in Dixons wasn't at all interested in my waffling about my trancelike state. I wanted to talk to him about alpha waves but he was just trying to sell stuff, so he did not wish to know. 'CCD' = 'Charge-Coupled Device', by the way. :)

Yesterday Dom and I played Moto Grand Prix 2 in multiplayer mode, with about 50 metres separating his Xbox and mine. It was very enjoyable, and I look forward to many more multiplayer sessions. Is it me or do I sound extremely geeky and boring today? I'm tired. Leaving the console now.

Saturday May 3 2003, 19:03

Greetings froods. I'm sitting upstairs in the ant room, typing this on my Amiga 1200, in a Napsaterm window. The 1200's running a PPP link to the rest of my net, so I can keep in contact (and in control) and it doesn't matter where in the house I am - as long as there's a computer nearby. I'm considering going totally wireless, but cost is a significant factor (I do not have much money right now).

Yesterday I cut my hair again and it is now very short, but still long by the standards of the day. I was sitting at the kitchen table and I just decided that my head was too hot; also, I get a little frustrated at things and cutting my hair is my way of venting my frustration.

My dad and Elly (one of my sisters) are coming down on Thursday or Friday. Elly is bringing her daughter, Kate, who is about 1.5 years old now, I think. Elly says that Kate is learning to walk. Lots of my young relatives are having kids now: Ben's got 'em, Tam's about to have one, Elly's got Kate. As for me - forget it; I'm about as unlikely a father as you'll ever see - I lack any paternal sense. I have talked about this before - I'm repeating myself again. As I have mentioned, if I was going to have a child I would need to find me a woman! That isn't going to happen - I don't make friends easily and people scare the smeg out of me. My computers are my offspring, and sometimes I think that they must be just as expensive and as much hassle as bringing up a child: they just want all the time - more memory, a new hard drive, a CPU upgrade, a monitor - enough! (I must thank Ben again for providing much of this stuff!)

Current computing activity: my diskless 'nfsroot' system is coming along quite nicely - it's running either a VESA or ATI X server with a minimal Linux system that I copied from Cranefly's Red Hat 7.3. I have decided that it's much more important that I have a quiet and economical computing environment, rather than getting the latest power-hungry 200 GHz Pentium-X with a terabyte of RAM and 100 petabyte hard drive.

I think it's time I stomped off downstairs and fed Bo (cat) who is probably sitting patiently at the kitchen window. So long feeps!

P.S. (+44) 1271 866907, or 01271 866907 if you live in the UK. Call it. Leave a stupid message, or don't - all you get in return is a German bloke shouting at you. No-one will know - this is not a real telephone. (I've been trying to get people to phone this thing for ages - I think it lacks an incentive - maybe I should add some additional services?)

P.P.S. It's Saturday, isn't it. I thought it was Sunday. Bank Holiday weekends confuse me.

My choice site of the day: - a site 'by hackers, for hackers'. I'm hoping that that's 'hacker' as in the original sense of the word - not that I'd ever describe myself as a 'hacker' - the most I could aspire to is 'apprentice of kludges'..

Thursday May 1 2003, 06:14

This is just a brief note to say that my email address (the thief of garbage) is no more - due to an ever-increasing burden of spam (but nothing compared to the amount of shit I get in my Freeserve mail), I've deleted it; my photos are gone as well.

Sunday April 13 2003, 22:42

Come on everyone, type in "are you the skanker?" in Yahoo or Google, will ya? Please? If you do, something will happen - I'm not sure what yet, but... ... .. I should have thought this out before I typed it - that's what happens when one has been drinking all weekend. Well, there's nothing else to do in West Down. I'll tell you one thing I have noticed today, though - everything tastes totally good the day after a harsh'n. I don't know if it's just that the wind is a bit gusty today, but my sense of smell and taste has been very sharp - I ate some muisli, I ate a chicken & mushroom slice, I ate.. er.. lots of other things. I crammed corn chips into my gob and washed them down with lager. I'm not very subtle tonight.

Thanks for buying the computer, Ben! I owe you .. er.. stuff. Thanks.. I appreciate it.

Other stuff: I wonder how Yahoo manages to consistently return such fast, accurate results to my silly searches. I think it's alive, in a way, like they used to say that telephone systems were: if you take lots of simple systems and tie them together in a vast global network, could such a net be said to be 'aware'? Or have I had too much to drink? I mean, read the crap that I wrote below for an example.

Friday April 11 2003, 01:48

There are no cows. There are milk cows; there are leather cows; there are cows with spots and cows with stripes. We know the cows; the cows are known - the cows we know we know. We think we know the unknown cows, but it is not known if the unknown cows know. Know the cow. No brown cow; no unknown brown cow. No cow.

(Lex's response to a cryptic speech from Donald Rumsfeld, of which I found 5,590 matches on Google)

Today is Friday and I am going to the shop and have a meeting with an occupational therapist. Boy, if anyone needs therapy, I do; I'm going through a real weird phase in my life at the moment. Here I am, an almost-35-year-old bloke, and I'm worrying about time and about the Iraq thing and where it's all going. I sometimes feel as if I've been left behind by it all.

P.S. On March 27, I accidentally mis-uploaded the diary page in such a way that the diary page was absent. Evidence of absence is not.. yeah yeah yeah. :)

P.P.S. A message to Dom, who never reads this page: please accept the money; there is no stigma attached to your acceptance of it. Yes, I know that I am broke and that I will have less money remaining if I give 15 (or whatever) of it to you, but I would appreciate it if you would accept it, so that you can get your own DVD remote thing and you will not need to borrow mine. So, please accept it; it's not often that I am generous because I'm basically a very selfish person - so make the most of my generosity while you can [grin].

Thursday March 27 2003, 20:14

Yeah, I know, I haven't written a diary entry for ages. Well, what can I say? It's been 'same old same old' - I have been stuck in my usual routine where I awake some time in mid-afternoon, have breakfast, then it gets dark and I spend the night sitting in front of one computer or another, trying to stay awake. Since my waking and sleeping times change so frequently, it plays havoc with my biological clock.

Boring stuff first: the webcam's off. Yes, it's never really been on, has it? My excuse for it being off now is that it's too difficult to set up; another reason is that I don't like being on the cam all the time - I'm paranoid enough as it is. If you really want to see me on the cam, contact me by phone (+44 1271 864980) and ask me to put the cam on, or I could meet you (virtually) on Yahoo Messenger (the most recent version has a webcam option). This does, of course, mean that I'd have to reboot to Windows, so there'd better be a good reason why you want to 'cam'! ;)

By the way, if you'd like to hear a German guy yelling down the phone at you and telling you to leave a message, you're welcome to call my ISDN answering system on (+44) 1271 866907. I've been encouraging folks to call this number, but so far the only messages I've got are from people who have misdialled. The responses of these folks to being shouted at by a German man are quite amusing - I might put them on my website at some point (erm.. currently I only have one recording from a person other than myself).

Time passes so fast - spring is here and I barely had time to get used to it being winter. I am dreaming a lot about coppery sunlight and dusty rooms in abandoned houses. I don't often see the sun in RL ('real life' for non- mooers); I must see it tomorrow because I have to do some shopping.

Today was one of those rare days where I didn't shout at the cat or the tap ('faucet' for Americans) and I didn't mope about the house in my usual way. The windows were open, the sun was shining and I decided that summer is on its way - the air had a kind-of toasty 'barley' smell to it. Everything was quite easy and relaxed - very unlike the usual way that things go.

I cannot think of anything else to write, other than to say 'happy birthday' to my dad (his birthday was on 11th) and to Elly if she's got her net connection sorted out; and to Sharon, I'd like to say that I have been spending a lot of time in the LR on the moo lately. The folks I meet in that place are quite zany and more than often, they drive me batty. Hope to see you on the moo at some point - I keep missing you (I tend to be on about 0330-0500 my time).

Tuesday January 28 2003, 07:01

It's Tuesday, and I get a bit of money today - useful, as I've just run out of catfood and have a craving for fresh fruit that I have not been able to satisfy by eating sultanas. Bo (my cat) has been driving me to distraction as he doesn't seem to realise that when I run out of money, I really do run out and there's no way I can magic a can of catfood out of nothing. On the agenda: payment of gas & electricity bills and purchase of lots of food.

Mike Holwill phoned me from his car a few days ago - this was the last time I spoke to a human being, other than yelling at Dom out of the bathroom window (does Dom count as a human being? Maybe :). I haven't seen Dom for a long time and we're back to the routine of me not seeing anyone for ages, Dom saying he'll come over, Dom forgetting, me forgetting to call him, and so on.

Many millions of light-years away, a planet is about to be consumed by its sun - well, when I say 'about', I mean 'a few million years'. This interests me much more than any of the ludicrous things that Five Live are covering on their breakfast programme this morning. I will complain no more about it, except to say that it bothers me that although the BBC have these sort of science-related stories on their website, the only time you'll ever hear anything technical or scientific on the radio is if it's negative (i.e. the latest email virus) or sensational (the conviction of a notorious 'hacker', for instance). So ends Lex's 'gripe of the day'.


Sunday January 19 2003, 15:18

Today I edited this page slightly and removed a fair bit of embarrassing and/or irrelevant stuff. If you've seen this page before, you'll know that I have a habit of getting drunk and then typing copious amounts of pointless drivel - well, that's all got to stop.

Sunday started with a dream: I was in a large white house with bright echoing rooms. As I wandered from room to room, I was aware that it was raining outside. I blinked and found that I was suddenly on the roof of the house, fitting a television aerial. The rain fell and thunder boiled in the distance, but nothing touched me and I was unperturbed by it all. In another dreamlike 'blink', I was back in a large room. I was sitting on a couch, looking at the rain falling in the narrow street outside. When I picture that house in my mind's eye, I think it was in Fore Street in Ilfracombe. I don't know if I've ever been in one of those houses, though I went to a restaurant there a few months ago. Back to the dream. I heard a crackling noise and looked up. A bare lightbulb in the centre of the room swung slowly, and little forks of lightning were shooting from the filament. I remember thinking it was strange but not being scared. I then woke up to find that it really was raining (no lightning though).

A man on the radio talks about Barbarella and goes back to discussing the football.

Yesterday I visited Gillards (my gran's place, next door) for the first time since Dec. 21st. My attempt to avoid Christmas was successful, but I carried on avoiding everything and everyone else after that. After talking to Dom on the phone yesterday, I decided that I was being an idiot - I stomped off to Gillards, said hello to my gran and Max, and talked about various subjects including the Internet, e-mail, DVDs, corrupt Devonian councillors and their use of bad English; I will say no more on the subject as I don't want to be sued.

My dad called with good news - my grandmother (on my dad's side) is better. She had a stroke a few days ago. Dad said she's "doing well".

Things going on today: I'm continuing my research into USB, listening to Arsenal vs. West Ham United on the radio, washing my clothes and eating a packet of very hot crackers. I'm sorry that I have nothing much to say - my mind's all over the place.

Congratulations to Mike and Kat for the birth of their son - Holwill Jr. ('Sam') will no doubt honour the reputation of his father and will boldly 'Hole' where many 'Holes' have 'Holed' before.

One final note before I end this diary entry: if anyone catches me quoting lines from 'Fight Club' in here or in real life (RL), please tell me so that I can stop doing it. That film got into my head to such an extent that if I am not thinking anything in particular, I start running through scenes in my head - for some reason I especially like the scene in the house in Paper Street (houses again!) where Tyler tells Jack "this conversation.. is over" and the scene where Jack confronts Marla about being a 'faker'. It's a stunning film, so it is. That's probably post-traumatic stress disorder or summat - call the folks in white coats.

Friday December 27 2002, 03:35

Today's techy modifications:

Added virtual hosting to my web server, splitting it into two virtual servers: and cranefly.brooknet. The '' address should be used from outside the intranet. I've gone through all of the webpages and have changed the URL. To all those who were denied from viewing my.. erm.. 'interesting' webcam, sorry about that - blame Freeserve for blocking port 80 (lots of ISPs do that).

Thursday December 26 2002, 01:38

Those of you who know me will be aware that this year, I have avoided 'Xmas' like the plague and have gone so far as to deny myself the luxury of a Christmas meal, any Christmas presents and the company of anyone of a 'festive disposition'. Yesterday I allowed Paul W., Dom and Toby to visit, but I made it very clear that talk of 'Xmas' was not allowed (as if I have a right to enforce any rules around here anyway!). To remind peeps of this point, I printed out a large banner reading 'XMAS-FREE ZONE' and placed it on the carpet so that it would be visible to callers.

The reason for my denial of festivity is complex. Mainly, it's due to the usual insecurity and paranoia, but it's also down to me not being able to reconcile celebrating something that I don't believe in. Every year, the season becomes more irritating. This year, I decided that I'd had enough, so I knocked it on the 'ead. Nuff said.

Webcam stuff: I've changed the webcam system so that the webcam image is on my local web server, and the Freeserve page references this one.

As a result of this, the webcam page comes straight from my gateway computer. If I'm not on the net or has not been updated, your browser will probably time out when you click the 'webcam' link from the index page. I initially had the webcam page on Freeserve and I adjusted the applet image loader to load from, but Java security restrictions mean that the image has to be in the same domain as the applet, so the whole page is now on the local webserver.

The non-Java page is unaffected by all of this gubbins.

[As of 26-Dec-02, webcam.html uses server-side refresh to update the page, and the Java page becomes webcam-java.html. The page with the refresh tags is 'webcam-refresh.html'.]

Friday December 20 2002, 21:09

I've just called Tam and found out that Ben & Sam's twins were born - Tuesday morning. This area of Ben's website features pics and information on the twins (Renee and Georgia).

Georgia's levitation trick

Sunday December 15 2002, 19:37

Today's been a surreal mixture of many events: I met an interesting person on Yahoo Chat, drank myself silly, slept very badly (as one tends to do if one consumes alcohol) and I woke at 9 a.m. (went to bed at 05:30, having been awake for 24 hours). I couldn't think straight until I'd had a strong cup of coffee and listened to the Travis album "The Invisible Band" and paid special attention to the lyrics of each song. I went to the shop, where I dropped my change - as always - and muttered something about not knowing what the date was. Heather was amused. I've spent the rest of the day looking at weird websites and shouting at the cat.

'The Archers' (a popular and very long lived BBC Radio 4 play) was very strange today; I listened to the last 20 minutes, which consisted mainly of people shouting at each other and a woman crying. I am not a regular listener (I'm not even an occasional listener), but I recognised this woman's considerable acting talent. How can people cry on demand? How do they do that?

Trina, if you're out there and you still look at my page, I got your Yahoo messages but I couldn't reply to them. Yes, the weather is very cold. No, I am not married. Yes, I am still here. [grin]

Saturday December 14 2002, 13:51

It's December, and the weather's turned very nippy indeed. I've brought the fan heater downstairs and I have a cuppa every half-hour these days (I'm getting like Dom!).

The monotony of life at Brook Cottage was broken recently by the arrival of my sister (Elly) and my dad (Frank). We spent a couple of days eating various types of food (Indian, and a Sunday roast - I had turkey and everyone else had lamb) and we drank a lot of lager. For the first time in about 10 years, I had a Southern Comfort. When I think of that, I get a mental image of a crackling fire, a large barn with surfboards on high beams, a fiercely cold easterly wind, my grandmother and I getting lost, me running backwards up the beach, a smiley face in the sand, drinking an enormous mug of cocoa at the Beachcomber Cafe. The barn was 'The Red Barn' - a restaurant sort-of thing. Elly asked me what I'd like to drink and I replied, 'Southern Comfort', and Elly got me one! I forget where Dad and Nana had gone.

The day before that, we went to an Indian restaurant in Braunton and were served by a surly Indian chap who Dad managed to make smile with his zany sense of humour. I ate so much food that I almost lost my balance and fell over.

Dad donated a laptop computer to my collection. To start with, I couldn't even find the power switch; I think I've got it sussed now, though: the laptop - a Toshiba T1910CS - now has Core Linux on its hard drive. The drive is a small one - 120MB. Installing Linux was a challenge because this computer hasn't got a CD drive, so all I had to work with was a serial port, parallel port and a floppy drive. Other stats: processor = Intel 80486SX (33MHz?). RAM = 8MB (4MB with a 4MB upgrade - essential).

When the laptop arrived, it had Windows For Workgroups 3.11 on it. I was impressed by the smallness and speed of this system, but it didn't have any networking capabilities (no TCP/IP - in those days, I think Winsock or Novell networking was the norm). I decided that the laptop had to be hooked up to the rest of the Brooknet intranet, so the only choice was Linux (of course)! I chose the Core Linux distro because it's small and I like the package management system. Note: the Core Linux HOWTO says that you need a rather ridiculous amount of space to install the full distro (500MB for /usr and 100MB for /), but I got most of the system into 80M (/=80MB, swap=8M, /home=35M) by customising the package installation script a bit and doublechecking everything.

One would normally install the system by transferring all files over to the destination drive, creating boot, root and utilities disks and then booting the system into the minimal system and installing from there. The trouble with this is that the system is very much designed for computers with at least 16MB and larger hard drives - although I was able to boot the root disk, as soon as I ran the 'installpkgs' script, the machine ran out of memory and disk space (it only has 8MB and swap was not enabled because there's no 'swapon' on the root disk). I sorted this by using tomsrtbt to create the root, swap and /home partitions, and then booting tomsrtbt again with 'noinitrd root=/dev/hda1' (hda1 is the root partition).

After this, things get a little more complex as although I could now unpack packages into the root filesystem, the tomsrtbt tar was a little bit different from the Core Linux tar (tomsrtbt uses 'pax' to save space, while Core's 'tar' is the full GNU version). I edited the installpkgs script (with 'nano') and ended up with a much-hacked thing that is a little different from the standard Core version.

I've got to stop writing now as I am neglecting Dom, who arrived about quarter of an hour ago, made a cuppa and then smoked a cigarette in the kitchen. "Mmmm, humdinger," says Dom. On the way out of the house, Dom stops to kick a conspicuously pink toy spider that I bought about.. er.. some time ago.

Lex: Needs new elastic.  Don't suppose you've got any?
Dom: No.
Lex: Pity - I thought you might have some in your pocket, or something.
Dom: I'm surprised you haven't got any.
Lex: Yeah.. could use some from an old pair of pants, maybe - I've got
lots of them kicking around upstairs.
Dom (laughing and walking outside): Gross.
Rook (flying past as Dom walks out): Rarrk!
Dom: Sounds like "bollocks" - flies over, goes "bollocks!" - that's
what 'e thinks of that.
Lex: Smart rook.
Dom: Seeya later.
Lex (laughing): Yep.

Stuff: Core Linux Tomsrtbt Toshiba Laptop Utilities T1910 shell session transcript

Bill Gates (smiling) says 'ARSE'

Friday November 22 2002, 02:49

I've cut my hair. The reasons: varied - support for the firefighters' strike (taking a bit of a militant stance, maybe), distrust of the government, frustration with my life going nowhere and the bland, depressing fact of life in a Modern Britain. Also, my head was too hot.

Thursday November 21 2002, 04:04

I received a mail from a certain Mr. Paul Willcox today, expressing regret that my webcam doesn't update more frequently. I admit it, I have set the cam on rather a slow update interval - it's gone from updating once every 30 seconds to an update once every 3 months. This is necessary because of certain technical restrictions; should BT decide to offer West Down a broadband Internet service, I may well run the cam all the time - a scary prospect if you've ever seen me in the morning.

I haven't updated this diary/journal/blog much lately, either. Believe it or not, I've been busy - there was the arrival of the SPARCserver to do. Ben donated this computer - a Sun SPARCserver 630MP - to my growing collection of antique/unique computing equipment. When it arrived at first, it had no cables and no keyboard. It had a monitor, but I had no way to attach it to the computer without the correct cable (it's not a VGA monitor- it's a fixed-frequency multisync). Magically, the correct cables, a CD drive and other goodies eventually arrived, and I had a working computer. I sighed heavily when I found out that the SPARCserver is sufficiently smart to allow one to use it just by plugging in a serial cable to one of the serial ports. In a way, it's an embedded computing device because it can be used without any external hardware being present (other than a serial terminal). Sun OpenBoot is the interface that one is presented with when using the system in its bootup state, and this is a very complete Forth interpreter. Sun is at

The SPARCserver is now running Debian Linux 3.0 (Woody) and is available via telnet on, port 56023. When the computer isn't up, connections to that address will time out, most probably, though I often mess around with the forwarding and you may find your connection being redirected to another of my computers.

I should warn visitors that they won't get far without an account, and attempts to crack my intranet will make me sulk... don't say I didn't warn you - I'm a meeaann sulkin' dude. A final note on the SPARCserver: its name is 'Sparrowhawk' and it's often turned off because it makes a very loud noise. Wanna hear it? Download this ogg thing, which is a bit quiet because the microphone that I am using is a headset mike.

Other technical stuff that I've been doing: I finally have upgraded my creaking old 10base2 network to a 10baseT/10baseTX net; network hardware is now cheap enough that I can afford to.

I have now mentioned the esteemed Paul Willcox, yes, I said Paul Willcox - he of LiveFlyers (R) *** 5 *** times in this file, and I've plugged his company several times as well, so he should possibly now be satisfied! If not, then...:

Paul Willcox, from my Yahoo Photos site

Friday October 25 2002, 06:26

This is a fairly pointless note to say "I'm still here!". Not a lot worth writing about has happened of late, except that I have been given a Sun SPARCserver (SPARCserver 630MP, also known as a SPARC 4/330M, I think) by Ben. This computer is about 12 years old and makes a lot of noise because it has a number of very large fans installed. The system unit is not exactly a desktop unit: it is about the size of two full- height tower units, placed side-by-side. I like it because it's not a PC, it's old, and Linux runs on it - it's that last point that's the clincher. Currently it is running Debian 3.0 (Woody), though I am experimenting with Aurora Linux as well.

My cousin Toby tells me that I should spice this site up a bit with colour and graphics. I am very reluctant to do so because I often browse the site with Lynx, which is a text-mode browser. I also dislike sites that take an age to load because they have Flash animations, animated GIF icons or Java applets that serve no use other than as 'eye candy'. So the answer is 'nope', Toby - and it will continue to be until the majority of folks who view this site (if anyone does) have broadband connections.

Other news: I'm getting a lawn mower! Hmm.. interesting.. not... and I bought the 'Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within' DVD the other day and it's brilliant and well worth purchasing if you like Anime and science fiction. Also, there's the small matter of the film's heroine being possibly the most desirable, sensual computer graphic that I have ever seen. Also, the filmmakers made her intelligent as well, and she has a personality - she's not just a pixelised bimbo (no names- ahem-Lara-Croft-ahem). This all reminds me of the William Gibson novel 'Idoru'. If you haven't read it, I would recommend that you do. I've got to stop saying 'also..'.

Wednesday September 25 2002, 05:37

This entry is from my webserver's syslog, as I'm too drunk (and lazy) to edit HTML in my current state. Shameful, I know.

Deleted - it's waayyyy too embarrassing!

Thursday August 09 2002, 22:01

I am sitting in the green chair in the 'ant room', writing this document on a strangely-coloured red, orange, black, green and cyan screen. The text is red, the border is orange, the status line is cyan and the menu is green - all of this on a black background. Enough colours!

A milky bit-more-than-half moon is visible outside, above the chimney pot of Peards. Every few minutes a vehicle rumbles by: milk tanker, tractor, car. The bright peach-orange streetlights shine down on a deserted road - except for the vehicles mentioned above.. sigh.

I awoke at 21:35 today; I would have preferred if it was a little earlier, but my sleep pattern has gradually been drifting towards midnight, as if it exerts an irresistable pull on my sleeping mind. It will be a night full of hootings and distant screechings.

Twelve hours ago, I was in Barnstaple. Having been awake for 16 hours, I decided that I couldn't put off the trip any longer - I just had to go in and get lots of essential shopping items, the names of which I had scrawled on several pieces of paper along with functions to calculate the value of pi, sketches of the view from the kitchen window, old shopping lists, telephone numbers and lots of computer stuff. I had rolled up all these sheets of paper and bundled them in a large plastic bag, which I placed inside a Marks & Spencer cooler bag.

I put on my black coat and as soon as I hit the street, knew that I'd made the wrong decision: the sky was full of clouds and a steady warm drizzle of rain was falling, and though it wasn't heavy enough to make things wet, it was enough to cover everything it touched with a warm, sticky layer of moisture. (Back in the present, a tractor rumbles by, its four headlights lighting the carefully-pruned shrubbery as it passes my neighbours' houses. Another tractor follows it. Far off in the distance, a child's voice shouts something.)

On arrival to Barnstaple, I thanked the driver (nice bloke - friendly, had a sense of humour) and disembarked from the bus. Since it was 08:30, there were not many pedestrians on the streets and traffic was still allowed to drive down the High Street (at some time - 10:30, I think, they close off the High Street to traffic and the pedestrians walk all over the place). With the drizzle coming down and the oppressive heat, I found myself dozing off as I followed the stream of pedestrians through the High Street and down Boutport Street. I was on autopilot and my feet were plodding along on their own, which left my head to do its own thing - I chose to look at shop displays and I paid special attention to the displays at the cinema, a toy shop and a restaurant. The clothing stores were full of large billboards featuring smiling, carefree, attractive young people - their bright smiles contrasting with my dour, weary expression and their sparkling eyes telling that their lives were a breeze compared to mine - everything was so, so easy. "Stop looking at me," I grumbled at a large picture of a smiling woman at Etam.

I headed for a fast food restaurant known as 'The Chatter Box' - one of a number of such establishments in the High Street. I chose a table far away from the street, shoved my bag down next to me and began to scour the menu. "Cappucino.. cream? No. No cream. Vegeburger. Chips." When a serving-wench arrived to take my order, I rattled off my choice of meal by rote, my mouth yabbering away while my mind was off with the fairies (that's not exactly true - Simply Red was playing on the stereo system and I was trying to guess what song it was so that I could avoid it in the future. I don't much care for Simply Red).

Lots of slow, depressing songs about love and deep stuff began to play. I attempted to ignore them but couldn't stop my mind from tracking back to days long gone, when I was 'normal'. I knew that my tiredness and paranoia was responsible for this, so I ignored the impulse to run screaming out of the restaurant - I continued to stuff chips into my mouth at a rate of knots.

I'll skip forward a few minutes here, as all I did was scribble notes on my bits of paper and shove more food into my mouth. One reason that I'd chosen The Chatter Box over another restaurant is due to the quality of their coffee, which is very good. That reminds me - I got some coffee at Marks & Spencer that I wouldn't mind trying.. anyway, back to the 'story'.

I paid for my meal, giving the folks a £1 tip because I usually don't, and I figured that they'd need it because the work is loud, tiring and dull- not that a quid would do much to change that. Back in the High Street, I engaged my feet and they found their own rhythm, stomping off down the road towards an unknown destination. It was 10:05 by now and the place was much busier (I was surprised that I'd been in The Chatter Box for an hour).

I was startled from my shopping trance by a voice, calling something. I abruptly stopped walking because the voice sounded so much like my mother's, and because I was tired and half 'out-of-it' - part of my mind almost believing that I had suddenly jumped back 15 years and was on a shopping trip with my mother and sisters. The realisation that I'd made such a mistake badly scared me, and I hurried to a bench, sat down and stayed there until I stopped shaking. Those little tricks of space and time always happen when I am tired.

(The moon is drifting towards the horizon - enscribing an arc on the sky that will soon take it below the hills and out of view. With alarm, I notice that the parmesan-coloured moon seems to have been cut in two by a fine cheese wire. When I look again, I see that this is because it is passing behind a telephone cable.)

My next visit was to Barnstaple Bookshop. I'd passed briefly earlier and had seen red-on-white signs saying 'CLOSING DOWN SALE - 25% OFF'. I was sad that they were closing as I rely on the bookshop to find expensive Linux books and distributions. No longer will I hear the laughter of the women behind the counter, I was thinking; no more will my plodding feet hover around the science fiction and computing shelves. Another small shop bites the dust - a casualty of the brash commercial nature of retail in a modern society. Yeah, my thoughts actually _do_ sound like that! There were many people in the shop and the shelves were emptying quickly. I was torn between buying 'Learn C++ In 24 Hours' (I've already got 'Learn C In 24 Hours') and another, much heavier hardback book about the repair of computers. Which one would benefit me more? I asked myself. I decided that the repair book would be useful, so I bought that. I think the total was around £25, and this was on the level of 'just about affordable'. If not for the sale, I wouldn't have been able to buy it - indeed, I've seen it before and have been tempted but have not parted with the 'readies' for this reason. I embarrassed myself by telling the gentleman who served me that I had a shop loyalty card. Almost as soon as I'd said it, I realised that there was little point presenting this since there was a sale on and they were unlikely to give me a further discount. Still, you gotta try! "Sorry, we've stopped accepting those now," the man said, somewhat sadly. "Hmmm... of course - sorry, I didn't think - this is a _closing down_ sale.." I muttered.

Two words, more than others, are always on the tip of my tongue as I shop. The first is 'sorry' and is automatically emitted on a near-collision with a fellow shopper - no matter who is in the wrong. Other often-used phrases are 'thanks' and 'thank you', and these are spoken after a successful transaction. I rarely say anything else unless I happen to have a genuine conversation with someone (rare, as I regard people as objects to be negotiated with, and around) or if I meet someone who knows me. I hate this happening as it jogs me out of the daze that I go into when I am tired and in town. I like the drifting, emotionless sheen to that trancelike state.

(In the present, the moon has passed behind a tree and is touching the line of hills at the horizon. It will soon be out of view.)

My next visit was to Personal Computer Supplies (P.C.S.). I'd intended to swap a CD-RW disc for a different make, since the brand of TDK disc that the proprietor - name of Richard - had supplied me with was incompatible with my CD writer (even after a firmware upgrade! Shock!).

(The moon presents a final blue-tinted edge of brightness before falling out of sight..)

I ended up talking to Richard about my sleep pattern and my habit of dozing off while walking along, and being completely unable to sleep at other times. "It's a sorta narcolepsy," I said. That was me being a hypochondriac as it most certainly is not narcolepsy since the effects of this are far more pronounced than with basic insomnia, which is what I suffer from (no, I'll rephase that - it 'suffers' from me). Richard, to his credit, suggested that I read a book. When he said this, I think I must have looked at him in a manner which suggested that I was about to leap over the counter and throttle him with an IEC Inlet Lead (someone, please tell me where I picked up this phrase because I can't stop saying it! There's a story attached to this - see later). Calmly, I told Richard that I would try this - as if I haven't already tried this and a million other techniques to send me off to sleep. Still, he meant well when he said it, so I wasn't annoyed.. much. [grin]

As a brief aside ('asides' are always 'brief'), here's the story of The IEC Inlet Lead Incident. It occurred on a very bright and very warm summer's day, when I was out shopping, having been awake all night... again. I was on the last leg of my trip and was heading towards the bus station when I passed Active Computing, a small retailer that is now no more (I didn't shed a tear when they closed down, however). I was served by a man with a receding hairline and an evil-looking sharp little beard that he'd evidently decided gave him a fierce air of authority ("You will respect my authoritie!", I hear Cartman shouting in a distant South Park episode). Anyway.. since I found the man a little intimidating, I immediately went into 'muttering mode' and began talking about my desire to purchase an 'IEC Inlet Lead'. I know full well what such a lead looks like, but buggered if I could describe this to the man, who appeared to be on the point of blowing his top at any moment. "A.. power lead," I eventually managed to stammer. "Well, why didn't you say so?" shouted the man - and he slammed a power lead down on the counter. "Will that be all?" he asked, hinting that if it wasn't, he'd not be able to hold on to his temper any longer. "Yes," I muttered. I paid for the lead, left, and never darkened their doorstep again. To their credit, it was a very good and durable lead, but to this day I still stubbornly refer to it as an "IEC Inlet Lead" since as far as I am concerned, an 'IEC Inlet socket' is the socket on the back of the PSU that the lead plugs into. And that is the story of the lead - may I never have to tell it again. Rest in peace, Active Computing. That place used to be good when it was under different management, you know - there was this guy who gave me a PSU that he thought wasn't working. It was a trivial matter to fix the broken power switch and hey presto, I had a working PSU that went on to give 2 years of reliable service - until I overloaded it with fans and hard drives and its 12V regulator failed. Can't complain - it was free.

Since I've wittered on so much about technical matters, I'm going to skip the session at the library somewhat. In any case, it's not worth describing as I merely registered for a new library card and used their public access Internet service for 24 minutes. I sent myself an email. I used PC #3. No-one sat next to me, much, and I was able to concentrate. I'll include the email below, if possible - yes, here it is, sans most of the headers.

Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 11:05:19 +0100 (BST)
From: Alex Landa <>
Subject: Dozing off

Hello there me,
I am sitting in the library, at PC#3, on a balcony overlooking
the stairs and the ground floor.  I wandered up here after
registering for a new library card.  I am half asleep - hence
the subject of this mail.
Other places that I have been today:
First, I wandered around the High Street and looked at lots of
shops.  It was 08:21 when I started this, and my wanderings
ended at the Post Office in Boutport Street, where I cashed my
Giro and paid an obscene number of bills.  While I was doing
this I was fumbling around in my cooler bag and kept dropping
various assorted items on the floor - cards, bits of paper,
money, etc.  I was in quite a confused state.
After this, I decided that some refreshment was in order, so off
I trundled to The Chatter Box.  Since it was early morning, the
place was relatively deserted and I ordered a vegeburger, chips,
a Cappucino (no cream - just milk) and apple pie with cream.
The pie didn't arrive for quite a while because it took me ages
to polish off the main course; the chips, naturally, were
explosively hot, while the vegeburger was lukewarm.  Still, it
was a distraction from the confusion of the High Street..
I noticed that they played rather a lot of Simply Red this
morning, and there was some Kylie (her old S.A.W. stuff) and old
80s slow stuff.  Deary me, what am I going on about!  I find it
quite alarming that I am noting all this - and sending it to
myself, as well.. sigh..
9 minutes left for today's free computer session.  Darn, I need
a monitor like this - clear, with a good resolution - no
blurring (apart from my tired eyes).  Web pages appear in an
instant as well - it is funky.  The computer next to me is
rebooting itself - a gentleman is running stuff on it.  He's
gone... ah well..
A Windows 2000 Professional logo appears.  Rich has Win 2000 Pro
- he wanted me to get a password for it, IIRC. :)  Horrible
pastel Windows shades appear and a message scrolls across the
screen, telling me that my session will end in 4 minutes.
11:05 is the time
I'm gone, ba'y

I stopped off at Marks & Spencers before heading off for the bus station. M&S is a large department store, selling clothing and food. Guess which I was looking for? Yep, it was the food. I loaded up a basket with many tempting goodies and was just about dead on my feet as I stood at the counter, loading the items into my cooler bag. After some moments of chit- chat with the woman who was serving me, I realised that I was actually drooling into my cooler bag - I was so far gone (and presumably hungry) that my mouth was hanging open and I was drooling. Of course I stopped immediately, as it's not hygienic. I hoped that no-one had noticed and of course they all had, but everyone was too uptight to mention it - and no, I didn't mean 'polite'.

As I approached my designated departure stand at the Bus Station, I had an urge to walk around the wrong side of the shelter, so avoiding the people. I did this, and I arrived at a rubbish bin where I deposited an empty bottle of spring water. A young lad on a bike threw a can at the bin and missed. I picked the can up. "Hmm.. did you mean to throw this in the bin?" I asked, warily. The kid, a beady-eyed and dark curly-haired child of around 12 or 13, stared at me as if he thought I was nuts. "No, I meant to do this," he said. He grabbed the can (a can that I had picked off the ground) and chucked it at the top of the bin. The can rebounded and hit the ground. I decided that I was dealing with a difficult child, and I dismissed the whole situation. "Ok-y do-ky..." I said in a sing-song voice, and left. Kids... pah... the kid was a brat, but then boys are always worse than girls - I know because I was one (a boy, that is), and I was definitely 'worse'.

My final confrontation of the day occurred when I boarded the bus that would hopefully take me home to a place where I would be safe and happy - somewhere out of reach of the madness of Barnstaple. I stood on the step of the bus and couldn't find my bus ticket. The bus driver, a man with a receding hairline and a bored expression, glared at me. "Erm.. Foxhunter's Inn, please," I said. The man tapped a few buttons. "50p," he said. I decided that there'd been a mistake. "Was that 1 pound 50?" I asked, puzzled. The driver grumbled. "50 pence," he repeated, "Pottington - 50 pence." He'd misheard me. "Not Pottington - I said 'Foxhunter's Inn'," I stated. The entire scene was almost exactly the same as that which had occurred at Active Computing, only the guy was different and I was on a bus. It was the same situation though - me talking to a balding, bad tempered bloke, trying to speak and being tongue-tied. "Foxhunter's Inn? Not much like Pottington.." grumbled the driver. "I have a ticket," I casually mentioned, "but I can't find it amongst all this stuff." The driver grumbled again. "Get on the bus and have a look for it," he said. Off I went. I should just mention that the man's speech was muted and indistinct, and if he couldn't understand what /I/ was saying, the problem was much worse for me. A little advice to First Red Bus Services: turn the heating down on the little buses as there's no point wasting power heating a bus that is already incredibly hot, and employ drivers that are able to speak English clearly - if at all. I would add that this is _constructive criticism_ here - I am allowed to state my point of view; I would just like to be able to get on a bus that is comfortable and not have an argument with a surly driver. (The bus to Barnstaple was such a bus, actually, and the bus that I took back home two weeks ago was actually a rather luxuriant air-conditioned coach - more of those, please!)

The rest of the story is brief: I staggered up the hill with my shopping, toyed with the idea of calling Dom to get a lift back home, and I realised that since it was 12:35, he'd probably still be asleep. I picked up my bags and lugged them off to the village shop, where I bought lots of cans of drink and catfood. When I got home, my feet were blistered and I was sweating copiously. I immediately had a bath, changed my clothes and went to bed, waking approximately 7 hours later.

00:11 09-Aug-92

Sunday July 21 2002, 10:32

"Oh, there are lots of opportunities..." - so sings Neil Tennant. I am listening to my ancient Pet Shop Boys 'Disco' album and it sounds old and knackered, but on a certain level I can still get into it. I look back on my Pet Shop Boys years with a mixture of embarrassment and affection, cos' I was even more messed up then than I am now (in my opinion).. but.. it was fun - well, bits of it were. Oh no.. Paninaro! Is this Chris Lowe singing? What I like about this album - apart from the ancient drum machine sounds - are the odd samples that colour each track. There are a virtual panoply of what sounds like hiccups, orch hits and dustbin lids being banged. (shrug) What's Neil Tennant doing now? Probably the same old thing, but I reckon he can afford to do that.

It is hot up here ("Armani, Armani, Ar- Ar- Armani," says Chris) because I've gone and moved the computers around again. At about 3 a.m. I just thought it might be a good idea if I whip the ISDN card out of the computer known as Cranefly, which had been functioning as a perfectly good ISDN gateway. This I did, and I moved Cranefly upstairs to the much-mentioned 'ant room', which is where I am typing from. Good grief, I am going on about my computers again ("I don't like Country & Western," says Chris).

Two things have caused me to go a little bit bonkers this morning: firstly, it is the 32nd anniversary of Bloody Sunday, and I listened to a disturbing Five Live interview with a reporter who was there, all those years ago. As the man talked about being at the site of an explosion, I realised how far all of it seems from my everyday life and how I couldn't relate to it, and more than that, I didn't want to even think about it. I can't believe people do such stupid things as to blow each other up and run around shooting each other and chucking grenades - with all our technology and science, weapons seem always be at the forefront of it all, where wars and conflict are reported daily and we never hear about scientific breakthroughs or the good things that are being done (well, we do hear it, but on a lesser, much-watered-down level). When I was a child (here we go...) and I used to watch Newsround - a childrens' TV version of current events - they always would end the news with a happy story about a giraffe that got its neck stuck in a sewer grate or something (nah, I made that one up) and that would make the bad news seem better. Well, why don't they do that on the grown-up news? (You wouldn't think that these are the words of a 34-year old man, would you? :)

The second thing: my sleep last night (yes, I slept at night! Wondrous!) was disturbed by a series of violently graphic dreams where I saw a mad doctor performing a weird operation on someone - for instance, in the first there was this guy who only had one leg and the other one was sticking out of his back or something, and in the second dream the mad doctor had managed to half-turn someone inside out - it was all rather horrible. I knew that these dreams had been caused by my listening to the news again - stories of Harold Shipman and the things that the relatives of the patients that he had murdered had said (not very good grammar, there). The trouble with the news is that they keep repeating it, over and over, every 15 minutes or so. If it disturbs me, I wonder how the people who read the news can rest. The dream ended with a half-lucid 'epilogue' where I saw myself from above, standing in a small white room. Two spotlights on the ceiling lit a wooden workbench upon which were arranged a number of clipboards. I was filling out a form on one of the clipboards and from my vantage point, I could clearly see the questions on the form: "Was the dream unpleasant? Please give details of the emotions that you felt when viewing the dream." I could sense frustration that I was being made to fill out yet another form to submit to an overburdened bureaucratic system, where the form would be lost amongst millions of identical forms, forgotten. I'll leave the last word to Neil Tennant: ".. ask a question, blank faces; read the news and turn the pages; watch them play a different game - and no-one knows your name.. no-one knows your name.." I'll probably get a nasty letter from the PSB's lawyers now. dmm dmm bmm-bmm da-dum da-dum.. moose.

With all the disturbing news, bad dreams, missed sleep and crappy diet, I'd probably be a lot worse for wear if it wasn't for my sense of humour, which is a surreal Monty Python-like thing that often seems to come to my rescue when I am very tired and bored. It's a bit like being in a drunken stupor all the time, when I'm tired. I will end the diary entry now. The first thing I mention in the previous entry is my being tired. Typical, eh?

P.S. There are a couple of 'microdots' in the above text that will lead you somewhere.

P.P.S. I expect you've noticed that the webcam is currently off. The reason for this is due to me not being arsed to run it and being paranoid. I will turn the camera on if someone requests that I do so; I can't keep it on all the time because it uses bandwidth and Freeserve probably wouldn't like my Net connection being up for most of the night. That's my excuse.

Wednesday July 17 2002, 07:19

Tiredness is encroaching on me as I write this, so it may not be very clear. I've spent the past few hours on LambdaMOO and this time, I was so into it that I could almost see the trees, hear the birds, smell the flowers. Being very tired seems to help me to disconnect from reality, but in spite of this I couldn't help but notice that it was getting light outside; I think it's going to be another 'scorcher' today and once again, I will not sleep.

I would like to thank Hleli for being patient with me while we tried to work out how to open the tree at the End Of The Rainbow in LambdaMOO. This tree has a secret room which needs a key to open it, and the only clue is .. er.. 'the answer is in the question'. The question is 'who is it that you seek here?' I must have typed in practically every word in the English dictionary (except 'plinth' - I hate that word :) and buggered if any secret doors opened or magically transported us to... where in MOO were we going, anyway? Oh yes - the laundrette - I wanted to hide in a washing machine (kids, don't do this unless you are in a virtual reality!). You see, I am obsessed with hiding places in MOOs, and I usually find a small, cramped virtual space and get stuck in it (don't ask - just don't, as I don't know why I do that either!).

I think a suitable song to play now would be 'Daysleeper'. Back to reality: I have to stay awake long enough to go to the shop and get catfood, milk and a meal. It's 07:30 now and I think I'll make it if I have another cuppa and maybe some coffee. I am not looking forward to standing in the queue at the shop as it's always very hot in there. I should just keep the moonlit scene from the MOO in my head as I shop, and imagine that I hear the waves gently lapping the shore on the beach that is my virtual home (it's actually a sofa on the beach - okay, I think I've gone on about it enough now!).

Tuesday July 09 2002, 07:25

I'm a little pushed for time this morning, and due to me having had little sleep, I'm not too alert. I'll therefore forget trying to format this thing and will just add 'pre' tags here. You'll be seeing the output of one of my computers' system logs.

Jul  9 01:14:35 cranefly lex: I'm going to bed now, and I intend to wake up in
Jul  9 01:14:48 cranefly lex: about 4 hours 45 minutes, at 05:57.  I need to
Jul  9 01:14:58 cranefly lex: get up early because I'm going shopping and
Jul  9 01:15:07 cranefly lex: putting out the rubbish and boring things like
Jul  9 01:15:20 cranefly lex: that.
Jul  9 01:15:46 cranefly lex: I've been playing LambdaMOO; tonight's session
Jul  9 01:15:51 cranefly lex: was fun.
Jul  9 01:16:03 cranefly lex: Bed!
Jul  9 01:16:08 cranefly login(pam_unix)[30213]: session closed for user lex
Jul  9 06:24:20 cranefly login(pam_unix)[31210]: session opened for user lex by (uid=0)
Jul  9 06:24:20 cranefly  -- lex[31210]: LOGIN ON pts/6 BY lex FROM sunstorm
Jul  9 06:24:27 cranefly lex: I made it!
Jul  9 06:24:36 cranefly lex: 05:57, I think it was when the first alarm
Jul  9 06:24:44 cranefly lex: went off.  The second alarm followed it, and a
Jul  9 06:24:54 cranefly lex: couple of minutes later the third alarm beeped
Jul  9 06:24:59 cranefly lex: from the other side of the room.
Jul  9 06:25:22 cranefly lex: I thought about getting up but then decided to set
Jul  9 06:25:34 cranefly lex: one of the mobiles to 07:00.  I did this and then
Jul  9 06:25:46 cranefly lex: thought "that's only an hour away!  Why bother?"
Jul  9 06:25:50 cranefly lex: - so I got up.
Jul  9 06:26:12 cranefly lex: I'd been dreaming that I was in Barnstaple with
Jul  9 06:26:31 cranefly lex: Tam and Elly.  We had to meet someone there - I
Jul  9 06:26:41 cranefly lex: think it was Mum.  Tam was walking quite fast and
Jul  9 06:26:52 cranefly lex: she kept saying "Hurry up, Elly!" to which Elly
Jul  9 06:27:03 cranefly lex: would reply "I'm going as fast as I can!".  In the
Jul  9 06:27:20 cranefly lex: dream, Elly was about 12, Tam was 16, which would
Jul  9 06:27:34 cranefly lex: mean that I was 18.  Of course, I was the most
Jul  9 06:27:46 cranefly lex: immature one and I kept stopping at shops and
Jul  9 06:28:02 cranefly lex: looking at electrical goods in windows.  I remember
Jul  9 06:28:12 cranefly lex: a point where the scenery abruptly changed and I
Jul  9 06:28:24 cranefly lex: mentioned this to Tam.  "We're in the old part of
Jul  9 06:28:52 cranefly lex: Barnstaple," Tam said, "we're regressing, going
Jul  9 06:29:09 cranefly lex: back through time - things were more primitive
Jul  9 06:29:21 cranefly lex: then.. or at least, that's the theory.."
Jul  9 06:29:34 cranefly lex: I remember thinking "She's so smart - she'll go
Jul  9 06:29:49 cranefly lex: far.. I think she'll be famous and very rich.."
Jul  9 06:30:14 cranefly lex: We walked down narrow, grimy streets and all of
Jul  9 06:30:24 cranefly lex: the buildings were towering above us, great
Jul  9 06:30:43 cranefly lex: dirty sand-coloured buildings.  I noticed that
Jul  9 06:31:13 cranefly lex: some of the buildings had been painted with a
Jul  9 06:31:28 cranefly lex: red stripe, like the sort of markings you see on
Jul  9 06:31:57 cranefly lex: brown manilla envelopes in the post.  I told Tam,
Jul  9 06:32:06 cranefly lex: and she said it wasn't important, so I tried to
Jul  9 06:32:18 cranefly lex: forget it, but I couldn't - it seemed to me that
Jul  9 06:32:26 cranefly lex: we were walking on a map and each red line on a
Jul  9 06:32:41 cranefly lex: building was a fraction of a degree of longitude
Jul  9 06:33:09 cranefly lex: or latitude.  "They're in a terrible state," I
Jul  9 06:33:20 cranefly lex: muttered.  Tam stopped walking, looked up at the
Jul  9 06:33:36 cranefly lex: towering, crumbling buildings and nodded, sadly.
Jul  9 06:34:01 cranefly lex: "Yes, they're slowly deteriorating; they are
Jul  9 06:34:17 cranefly lex: falling victim to a type of mould that attacks
Jul  9 06:34:41 cranefly lex: shops - tastes like cliff mushrooms, actually.."
Jul  9 06:35:10 cranefly lex: I didn't know what a 'cliff mushroom' was and
Jul  9 06:35:19 cranefly lex: I was going to say something, but I was waking up.
Jul  9 06:35:43 cranefly lex: The alarms were going off.  My dream faded out of
Jul  9 06:36:07 cranefly lex: sight and returned like an echo, several minutes
Jul  9 06:36:08 cranefly lex: later.
Jul  9 06:36:18 cranefly lex: I'm going downstairs now.
Jul  9 06:36:20 cranefly login(pam_unix)[31210]: session closed for user lex
End of Tuesday's diary entry. I've got to sort the rubbish into 'green' and 'non-green' components now, and I'm going shopping at 10:20. I feel so unaware of my surroundings that it's as if I am stumbling through someone else's life, looking at curious objects and moving on; I didn't sleep very well. I awoke with a melancholy feeling and the R.E.M. song 'Good Advices' going round my head. Whenever I feel melancholy, I know it's a good thing - it's when I'm deliriously happy that I worry.

Tuesday June 18 2002, 00:00

My irritating habit of moving the computer known as Winter around the house has now reached an all-time high: in the past month I have moved the computer five times and in one week I moved it three times in as many days. There are many reasons for this but I think the main one is my need for a comfortable computing environment where I am not disturbed by noise, heat, bright daylight or any other irritating environmental property. Sadly, I have yet to find a single place where I am happy, though the upstairs 'ant room' (so called because the window sill is home to many ants) is a good choice because I fitted a dimmer switch and it has a carpet that the cat hasn't peed on. The drawbacks are that it's far from a telephone (I have my mobiles though) and it's also far from the kitchen, though this may be seen as a good thing if you've seen my bulging stomach lately.

Now, if only I had a wireless networking system and a laptop computer - then I would be free to wander around the house and sit and compute wherever I want - that'd be brilliant. Dream on, Lex. At the moment, I think I have enough desktop computers and thanks to Ben, I now have another computer that I'm using as a VNC terminal and to do word processing, browsing and email on, occasionally. Tech-heads: this computer is a Pentium 90, 24MB computer with an NE2000-clone network card that it took me ages to work out how to use because I didn't know what it was. The main ASIC says 'UMC9007AF' on it and this was useful information! The hostname: undertow.brooknet, named after another R.E.M. song and the title of a Suzanne Vega song. It conforms to the Brooknet host naming guidelines by having an environmental theme; I strayed from that rule a little when I named 'Pepperoni' (named after a pizza) and 'Sunstorm' (named because it's an 80386-based machine and I was in a sarcastic mood when I named it).

My current interests: I'm reading Steven Levy's Hackers book again (must be about the 5th time I've read it) and I'm currently attempting to find out what many of the heroes in the book are doing now. My search for Gerry Sussman's homepage led me off in many directions and I ended up at a page on FSF Europe and then wandered off to the GNU Savannah/Subversions machine, which enticed me with lots of GNU projects and technical data on the machine itself (uptime = 122 days!).

I'll go now as I have to fill the links in above and I expect that I've bored everyone silly, anyway - and it's a lot cooler downstairs (24 degrees C in here, and it's still getting hotter - it's only 19 degrees C downstairs).

P.S. I am absolutely furious at our government's continued attempts at invading our privacy. I believe that far from working, this snooping will force everyone to use heavy, slow encryption and we'll all have to keep phoning each other up and asking for our PGP fingerprints. Mind you, if quantum computing becomes a reality, encryption will be rendered useless - it's a little like the device featured on Sneakers that magically decrypts all encryption. If you use PGP or GPG, my public key can be found on (enter my email address - lex AT brooknet DOT freeserve DOT co DOT uk). I'm basically a wannabe cypherpunk - i.e. I know a little about encryption, occasionally run a client with the RC64 challenge, I bought Simon Singh's 'The Code Book' and yet I am useless at maths and stumble when confronted with gpg's command line interface, and I never send encrypted mail because I don't know how. :)

Wednesday June 5 2002, 01:38

Yes! At last, I have sorted all of the diary entries into descending date order, so the newest stuff is at the top and the oldest stuff is at the bottom. This is such a relief - I can sleep slightly better now, knowing that it's in the right order! Phew!

Tuesday night: Ben came round and he brought a lot of food with him - food from a barbecue that he had with Sam and her family. Dom came over shortly after, and he brought some food that Nana had bought me earlier in the day. I had also been to the shop and bought a sandwich and a bar of chocolate. I opened the fridge door to put the food away and I couldn't find any free shelves: the whole fridge was completely jammed with junk food. I decided to eat a lot of the food there and then, so I crammed half a ton of pasta and salmon down my throat and declared to Ben, "I can't eat any more." (I finished off the pasta later; by the way, Ben let me keep the sandwich that I'd bought for him, and he left the crisps behind too and said that I could have them!)

I heard disturbing news on the radio about something like 1 in 5 American children being obese.. or was it 4 in 5? 3 in 4? Sigh.. can't remember. It was a lot, basically. This made me think about my own burgeoning weight and my astonishment today that I was totally out of breath when I just walked round the corner to the shop (to get more junk food, of course). I have a problem, and I know it; I've been saying to myself for ages, "it doesn't matter if I eat a bit now, as I'm going to get an exercise bike soon!". When I get the bike depends on my finances; it's definitely going to happen. In the meantime, it is no good if I eat more and more. I used to go for long walks in the hills and I stopped going because I would arrive back at the cottage feeling absolutely exhausted, and I wouldn't enjoy it.

I would urge anyone who hasn't checked out my cousin Ben's website to do so, as it makes an entertaining read. I especially like the 'whatsnew.html' page, which is a sorta diary, like this one. After reading a few entries, one tends to get the feeling that here is a man who is very, very busy but who enjoys that lifestyle and appreciates the value of discipline leading to reward. That's not my kind of philosophy, sad to say - I explained this to my Pa in an email the other day: "do it, and if it's good, keep on doing it, and if it isn't, stop doing it, and if it annoys other people, stop it". There is not much of a sense of disclipline in that, is there? It doesn't account for my diet, in which I eat and eat because it makes me feel better, even if the eventual result is that I feel worse because I get unfit and fat. At the age of 33 (almost 34), I have discovered that life is not always logical. Someone once described me as a annilhilistic nihilist - I have only the vaguest idea what that means and it sounds like excrement of male bovine anyway. I used to be a nihilist but I'm not any more - that was way back in my 'younger days'.

Ben said that my moving to Barnstaple (it's just an idea, so far) was a good idea and that I would meet lots of women there. I stated that the only reason for my moving would be to get a broadband Internet connection and that I wasn't at all interested in a relationship (I hate that word) and I was going to add that if I wanted to meet a woman, I'd find a prostitute - I didn't actually say that because I would be the last person on Earth who would go looking for such a thing; I must admit to finding women rather strange and frightening and the thought of actually going to meet one for the express purpose of a very intimate encounter is not something that I would do - I have enough trouble chatting to them on the Internet, and I can only do that after I've had a few pints, at which point I usually spy on Dom's private conversations and then when he's away from the keyboard, type 'do it doggy doggy' and then run away. :) Does anyone know where that particular phrase comes from? I thought it might have been an old Harry Enfield show, or maybe Black Adder, or even Red Dwarf (I can't imagine old Arnie 'Iron Balls' Rimmer saying such a thing, but Dave Lister might).

We mainly talked about the chance of 'lots of little Lexes' appearing on the scene. Now, this terrifies me even more than the aforementioned encounter with a MOTOS, though as I understand your primitive Earth biological processes, the latter is necessary for the former to occur. If I was to have a child, I hope it is unlike me in as many ways as possible - and that is all I will say on the subject, cos' basically folks, it ain't gonna happen: woman meets Lex. Lex meets woman: "YOU! WOMAN! BRING FOOD NOW!" hollers Lex. "Yes dear, certainly dear," says woman, and brings food. "WOMAN! BRING MORE FOOD!" ... and so on .. Lex and woman have child: "WAHHHH!" screams child. "QUIET, CHILD! WOMAN, MAKE CHILD QUIET!" shouts Lex... I have said this before: in a sense, my computers are my offspring. I have eliminated the need to reproduce biologically; take a look at the way I've set up my Linux systems and you can see that my computers are just as f*cked up as I am.

So, now I've bared my soul online again and you can all see what a shallow and purile sense of humour I have, I'll end the diary entry before I embarrass myself further. Makes me wonder what the next diary entry will bring, this does... I shudder to think.

Monday June 3 2002, 19:59

It's a bank holiday and the whole of West Down has gone Jubilee mad. For the past couple of days I have been woken by people in cars with loudhailers. Yesterday, the squeaky voice of a child cut through my dreams of a house that I used to live in a long time ago - and this voice urged me to view a Fun Run or celebration of some kind that was going on behind the shop. I was grateful to the voice, if only because I would otherwise have forgotten the dream (it's sad to say, but I find my dreams much more interesting than things that happen when I am awake). In the dream, I walked around my old home at Chambercombe Road and it was completely empty except for a few rabbit hutches in the back garden. There was a guineapig in one of the hutches and a rabbit in the other. As I watched, a little short-haired dog appeared and ran around the hutches, barking. I turned round and my grandmother was standing at the back door. "Nana, please let me keep the dog," I said. Nana shook her head. "You can't - he'll frighten the pets," she replied. I looked back at the pets and was surprised to see that a pretty blonde-haired woman was stuffing straw into the guineapig's cage. The poor animal was quite distressed; I told the woman to stop. "Sorry!" she said, "I thought the cage was empty." When I awoke, I realised that the woman had been Alicia Silverstone - how ashamed I am to have dreamed about Alicia (again - I used to dream of meeting her on the bus from Barnstaple to Ilfracombe - for more about buses, see the next section) and not recognised her! The embarrassment!

I don't know what significance is attached to houses appearing in dreams, but I dream of them all the time: I'm always walking around large, deserted, shadowy houses - except today, when I dreamed that I was on a bus full of people from West Down whom I knew, and I accused everyone of stealing tools from my toolset and wouldn't let them off the bus until I'd searched them. It turned out that I wasn't actually looking for tools - I was looking for a sandwich. Dear me, this is getting ridiculous - is this subject matter really suitable for this website? Okay, I admit it, the whole dream was due to my guilt at having eaten a sandwich that my cousin left behind yesterday. Ben, I promise I'll buy you a new BLT, and I won't eat the crisps either (there was a strange kind of logic in the dream: although I had been looking for tools, I found a packet of crisps on one of the passengers - who shall remain nameless because this is a public site, Dave .. oops.. - but I didn't find the sandwich, and that was because I had eaten it! Fascinating.. not). After I awoke at the incredibly late time of 16:30, I went to the shop to buy Ben a sandwich. Sadly, they had sold out of them, but Heather told me that they'd have more in tomorrow. Why on Earth am I bothering to write that?! This site is going rapidly downhill..

I don't think I'll bother talking about my Amiga 1200 Debian Linux project - it all pales into insignificance compared to the drama described above. Briefly: I've installed Debian 2.2 on my Amiga and it has Emacs and it kicks butt! It has a PPP link (a long cable made of two telephone cables stuck together with PVC tape and Elastoplast (American readers: this is a band-aid)) and it can go on the Net via proxy ARP and all that stuff. Funky.

Sunday April 21 2002, 19:20

I'd just like to say thanks to Bob and Carol Langston, for their gift of an Amstrad PC2086 to my collection of antique computers. It's had a clean and a general checkup and is now looking forward to being connected to a keyboard (I got a bit drunk at Bob and Carol's last night: one glass of beer! Sigh.. I can't take my drink - anyway, I forgot to ask about a keyboard at the time).

Sunday April 21 2002, 17:36

This diary entry has pictures.

The moon, from a great distance
Recently, Elly (my sister, in case anyone isn't aware of that) asked me a simple question. "Lex," she asked, "why do you get so bored at weekends?"

The havoc caused by the Russian Vine
I thought about this. Because I have no job, no responsibilities and no life, I should be bored all the time. This isn't the case, though; I find that I am much more bored (and depressed) at weekends than I am in the week. I've decided that this is because I am aware that around me, 'normal' people are doing 'normal' things - going to the shops, driving around, taking their kids out for a family day - stuff like that.

Morning sun in the kitchen
If you watch the webcam, you may see me lounging around, drinking mugs of tea and occasionally typing something on the computer. I do not find it easy to concentrate during the day, so most of my creative stuff is done at night. Even when on a daylight waking pattern, I am waiting for darkness to fall so I can 'wake up'. Around me, daylight-dwelling people are waiting for that same event so that they can 'call it a day' and get a good night's sleep.

Sunrise, kitchen again
It's a conflict that I can never resolve as long as I am going against the tide. Having lived this way for 16 years, it's not easy to change - it is practically impossible because it's who I am. In the early days, being awake at night was a way of challenging the norm and of exploring the freedom that I found when I moved out of the family home. 16 years later, I cannot ever see myself swapping my nocturnal moonwatching existence for days spent walking on the beach, getting a tan. I don't do that; I live in the shadows and computers are my constant companions. I don't understand the way that people think; I wish debugging human problems was as easy as sorting out a troublesome network connection. What can I say? I'm a typical geek. I don't care. End of diary entry (I need a cuppa!).

Saturday March 16 2002, 22:49

My sleep cycle is shifting forward by roughly 4 hours a day now. Today, I got up at 18:00 - terribly late, though I was pleased that it was still light outside. The days are getting longer and this has two useful effects: it means that I am in less of a bad mood when I wake up because, if it's light enough, I can adjust to it being 'morning' for me, even if it's evening for everyone else. It doesn't matter so much if it gets dark after that, as long as I get that initial bit of daylight. The second useful effect: the cat's not here quite as much as he would be in the winter. Bo's a very affectionate cat, but is very stupid and insists on walking all over the kitchen table and the tiles (not the floor tiles - the ones at waist level). It's impossible to train a cat, so he will always walk at that level because that's what he's always done. The cottage has no back door so Bo has become used to entering the house through the kitchen window. After he left, I wiped all of the kitchen surfaces and started vacuuming. I did the rest of the house as well (all except Tam and Elly's rooms - I don't go in there much).

Dom is currently ill, suffering from a bad cold and a chesty cough. I haven't seen him since Thursday. He's apparently well enough to drive, as I saw him leaving yesterday (Friday) evening. I guess he doesn't want to spread his cold all over the place. I don't care, really - if I get it, I get it. Still, I would rather not get ill if I can prevent it.

More news: I've got another webcam! Dissatisfied with my Creative WebCam Go Plus, I went into Barnstaple and bought a Logitech QuickCam Web. The picture is much brighter and clearer than that from the Go Plus cam, and the software is vastly more stable; I've only had one 'blue screen' crash with it. Lots of peeps seem to be working on a Linux driver for it. I was annoyed at myself that I had just assumed that if it was called 'QuickCam' it would work immediately with Linux - this is not true: support under Linux depends on the cam chipset and manufacturers often do not give out details about the hardware unless one signs an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). NDAs are the bane of the Linux world, and in my opinion, they do not do the reputation of the hardware manufacturer much good either. I do not know what is stopping Creative or Logitech from releasing their own closed-source Linux drivers, but they don't want to; maybe the market is too small. In the 'old days', computers and peripherals used to come with a full printed manual (yeah, on paper - not a cruddy Acrobat document!) and schematic diagrams so that the user could add their own hardware and figure out what was wrong with the device, if it developed a fault. It's impractical to supply a schematic with modern PCs, but programming details would be very useful. What amazes me is that no-one objects to this, not to mention the highly restrictive license agreements that most Windows-compatible devices are supplied with that say that although you own the hardware, you are prohibited by law from finding out how it works.

Links: Linux USB Project.

Sunday March 10 2002, 16:06

My right leg has gone numb - what a great way to start a diary entry. I've been typing whilst sitting on the floor and it is very uncomfortable; all of the tables around here are either too low or too high. To try to fix this predicament, I've brought my computer console in from the garage. I now spend a lot of time upstairs in a room that I call 'The Ant Room' because in summer, ants arrive at the window sill and multiply, chew a lot of wood and eventually fly off to start new nests elsewhere. In a quest to understand why they do this, I read a lot of online documentation. Having had a go at them several times with Nippon Anti-Ant Stuff, I am now content to let them be - buggered if I could get 'em. I rather respect them now as they are hardy little critters.

A few weeks ago, I bought a webcam - a Creative WebCam Video Blaster Go Plus Extra Something Or Other (why so many names for the thing?). It's a Windows-only Webcam, which irritates me a little, but a geezer is working on a Linux driver for it. In the meantime, it's fine on Windows, if a little cranky sometimes; I got some mpeg encoding software and I'm producing lots of tiny videos of the rooks landing on the TV aerial on the house opposite, as well as timelapse videos with the clouds shooting past and the sun hooning around the sky like a bast. Windows is so limiting, though - I actually want to use the thing to do stuff - not just use Creative's buggy software.

I spent a lot of time on LambdaMOO last night and didn't get to bed until about 09:00. I woke up 4 hours and 50 minutes later, and I'm looking rather rough right now. I need more tea! Which is better: Miles or PG Tips? I used to be devoted to Miles Tea and then I suddenly switched to PG. I don't seem to be able to write anything remotely interesting today- ah well! I think that's due to my tiredness and the fact that my mind is trekking along on three different 'threads' - one where I am thinking about Friends Re-United and how much success I've had with it (in spite of not paying them their fiver!) and another where I am thinking of LambdaMOO and what it is that makes people behave so strangely when they're behind a keyboard. LambdaMOO is full of freaks and eccentric folks, and I'm just a 'basic bloke' - I find it difficult to socialise when I'm there. I love being able to build and program, though. Having said all that, there was a time when I had a female character (Brock) and it was going fine until the character began to exert too much control over my non-MOO life - at which point I went back to a male character, tried a 'Spivak' (non-gendered) character and a few other weird variations, before settling on a male character (Arkanoid) with a female alter-ago (MoonCresta - you may see a certain arcade theme here!). In my opinion, male is fine, female is fine, but mixing the two is better... hey, it just depends on what mood I'm in, really. (Incidentally, the 'third thread' is my constant need for a hot mug of tea!)

I forgot to mention the most important thing of all: Slow Wave. A talented artist (Jesse Reklaw) draws comic strips based on dreams that people submit to him. The dreams are sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, and always very odd, in the way that dreams are. My favourite is "DogWash" (see archives section - I think it's October 2001). [June 2002 update: 'Smarter Than He' (March '02 archives) takes some beating too - a dog dressed as a dolphin? Very strange.. oh, I found another one - 'Cats Can Fly' - August 2000.]

Finally, if this site suddenly blinks out of existence, it's because I've been unable to cope with a recent 396 telephone bill. The reason for the high bill is technical but I can sum it up briefly: "three phone calls a second, 8 hours a day, for several days".

Thursday 18th October, 2001, 06:36

TOTAL REDESIGN TIME! This page has remained unchanged for far too long. Inspired by Ben's site, I have decided to do some work on this site and do the things that I've been saying that I'm going to do for ages: split it into separate sections, add colour and images and generally spruce it up a bit. Okay, so I know practically nothing about HTML - I'll learn as I go along.

First major change: colours; out goes the boring black on a white background, and in comes a rather difficult-to-read blue on a very deep blue background (and out goes that again, and back comes the black and white).

Sunday 7th October, 2001, 03:14

Today I re-implemented port forwarding. What this means, in English, is that '' [as of 27-Dec-02, port 8080 is used instead] will now connect your browser to my local intranet pages again. I haven't a clue if anyone ever used this facility in the first place. I am taking a bit of a risk by having open ports on my system, but hey, I'm willing to try things cos' I happen to think that it is fun!

If you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a cup of tea now. I got up at 00:21 today and I have not had my breakfast yet because I've been in the 'dining room' all the time, typing on one of my computers (Circ). Also, Bo is probably waiting at the kitchen window for his food.

Saturday 25th August 2001, 14:51

Upstairs 'ant room': bright afternoon sun slants across the window sill. The ants have been and gone - they arrived early (May) and left in July. As usual, the window sill (more like a seat, actually) did not fare particularly well - it's been chewed to bits by the l'il blighters as they extend their nest. This cottage is home to ants, spiders (many different sizes), birds, slugs, woodlice, earwigs, a cat and .. me. "Yippee! Transfer completed!" says the Amiga as it finishes its download. I always wonder why no other computer comes with a text-to-speech system as part of the OS, and why Commodore got rid of it when they released Workbench 3.0. I'd imagine that having these facilities built into the hardware of the computer would be a boon to sight- and hearing-impaired users; changing the BIOS options with a braille display would be fun.

My dad phoned me earlier. "What's your website address?" he asked, when I mentioned it. I told him and he said he'd check it out. It wasn't until a few days ago that I realised that hardly anybody knows my website address. The reason for that is that when I first got on the Net, I had quite a few different ISPs. As a result of this, my email address was constantly changing and at the start, I didn't have enough webspace (5M, IIRC) and didn't know diddly squat about HTML anyway. But now, the situation's different - everyone's into HTML! I can see why. BTW Dad, the noodles were very good - chicken with Tabasco. It was a simple meal and it didn't take long to make. That reminds me, must get some sweetcorn next week.

Technical stuff: if anyone's tried connecting to with the Roger Wilco chat software, I don't currently have it set up. The reason for this is that no-one showed any interest in it and I didn't get any mails about it, so I removed the facility. If anyone would like me to set this up again, mail me and I'll do that. For the same reason, isn't currently being updated. If I'm on the Net and you want to use one of my computers, give me a call and I'll tell you what my current IP address is. (...but will I answer the phone? Will I be awake?...)

My latest projects: extended the coax on the Ethernet system (I stubbornly remain a 10Base-2 user - can't afford a hub, that's the reason why I haven't switched!). I've upgraded Winter to 256M, upgraded its processor to an AMD K6-2/500. The old K6-2/400 is now kickin' around without a computer to go to, and I have a spare 128MB of RAM. I think I'll upgrade Circadian to 128M at some point, but there's no hurry. Today I am installing Debian Linux on the Amiga. I don't think the hard drive's going to last much longer - I am amazed that it's been going for five years or so and it still boots up (just about). Although AmigaDOS is useful, I'd really like to have a Unix-like OS on the Amiga again, cos' it doesn't get a lot of use. It used to be my main computer, this one - the 1200. Before that, there was the BBC Model B - still operational, though I don't use it much - haven't got enough monitors.

I still wonder why isn't up - I expected great things of that site, but nothing happened. I reckon that this village would benefit from a shared bulletin board kinda thing. People love to have a natter, they do. I imagined being able to post a message with the subject "I'VE FINALLY MOWED THE LAWN!" and see what the responses were. It'd be great if the village shop had a website too - an area to advertise the latest goodies and get some feedback from their customers. I'm sure that people in this place are well aware that the Internet exists, but it's always the same - go on the Net, take, take, take, and give nothing back. If everyone did that, the Net would die.


^^^ blatant misuse of the header attribute

The End.

Thursday 29th March 2001, 21:44

A lot has happened since I last did any work on this page. For some reason I left it unmaintained for a long time. I think that the reason for this is down to me being unsure of my ability to write; I found my vocabulary suffering along with my confidence.

Today I moved (well, copied really) the page from its home on BT Internet to my Freeserve site. This was my first site, and probably the place that most people would check first. I also have another site which is only available when I am online, and I have told my friends about this site instead of the Freeserve one. This may have been down to me hoping that I would have an 'always on' link very soon (I am currently interested in setting up a low bitrate D-channel X25 link, but I very much doubt that Freeserve or BT would support such use of my Home Highway system).

Multi-user games have consumed a lot of my time lately. May I refer interested readers to LambdaMOO, which is a textual virtual reality where you can do anything, be anything, create anything, see anything. LambdaMOO is fantastic when you get into it, but I have got into a bit of a mess with it. The problem is this: my character on the MOO ('MUD Object Oriented' - 'MUD' = 'Multi-User Domain' or 'Multi- User Dungeon') is badly out-of-sync with my real-life ('RL') character. It's a little difficult to describe, and I would not want to bore anyone with the tedious details.

My money situation at the moment is thus: I have a tenner to last me two weeks. I don't mind this because a) I have lots of junk food stashed in the cupboard, and b) I can always run up a bit of a 'tab' at the shop.

While sitting in the conservatory at Gillards today, I watched ants running haphazardly around the tiled floor. I saw one of them carrying a small disc-shaped piece of matter. I saw a dead bee (half a bee). I stared at the intricacy of the ants' tiny lives and wondered whether a group of computers could behave like an ant colony; I followed the progress of the ants until my grandmother arrived and extinguished their tiny existences with the heel of her boot.

(Sorry Nan! I added the above for dramatic effect. It was only one or two ants.)

Thursday June 15 2000, 16:59


I woke up at 22:30 yesterday night and had enough time to go on the net before BTI's free period ran out at midnight. My BT Highway/ISDN system is working very well now, and I'm getting used to the convenience of instant connection with no pause for dialup or negotiation. Compared to the modem, the rates seem pretty much the same, but web pages load a lot faster and everything is smoother.

I spent the night listening to 'Up All Night' on Radio 5 Live. I particularly like the brief poetic verses that Rhod Sharp occasionally reads after the news. I very much think that middle age is creeping up on me, when I start saying things like that!

In the morning I read a bit of 'Virtual Reality' by Howard Rheingold. Good book, though I find the print very hard to read with my short sight - I keep losing track of which paragraph I'm on and find myself reading the same sentence over again.

I couldn't concentrate on reading, so I looked out of the kitchen window instead. A baby slug was crawling up the window pane. As an experiment, I put a piece of milk chocolate out for it. Sure enough, it turned around and eagerly began munching the chocolate (as much as a slug can be said to 'munch', this one did). I was pleased to have made a small mollusc's life a little more bearable - charged with a sugar rush, I expect it went on to eat a whole field of prize cabbages. After the slug had returned to its native green territory, I went out the front to check on the mail and had to take my glasses off due to the rain. On the way back I trod on a very large slug that had crawled into the porch. I didn't know that I'd trod on it until I ventured out again later and found its entrails spread all over the carpet and the slippery floor of the porch tiles. I figure by its size that it must have been an elder relative of the slug that I saw earlier. Whoops.

At about 09:30 I was wide awake and felt like completing a 'project.' I moved one of my old computers around and then phoned Elly (my youngest sister) to wish her a happy birthday. She was about to set off for a not-very-pleasant appointment with a Jobcentre advisor, but she said she was going to get very drunk later.

Here's some stuff from the syslog:

11:45:41: sunstorm root: Okay... The network is back up. I've found the perfect (-ish) place for Pepperoni here in the storeroom, adjacent and at a 90-degree angle to Sunstorm. The wiring is a total nightmare - the mains wiring, that is: four plugs in a two socket outlet. It just all looks right though. Looks like a geek den, and is conveniently positioned next to the 'facilities'. This root NFS system totally rocks. I ran top on Sunstorm, disconnected the ethernet and turned off Winter. A day and a bit later, I come back and reconnect it and it's fine - it just resumes NFS operations straight away. Rather funky.


That Ctrl-F was a typo.

Midday: I tried to contact my cousin Ben at his place of work, but he wasn't around. There was a great deal of confusion caused by me not having clearly heard the telephone number that Ben left on my answering system. I called a petrol station and had a few more wrong numbers. It turned out that Ben had emailed me to tell me he would be out of touch, but I didn't get the email until I went on the net that afternoon. By this time I was very tired and as is typical, I started to make a few rather amusing mistakes. My dad called and talked to me about employment and my current situation. Paul Willcox phoned up and asked about sending large files with an ISDN line, and at 15:30.. well.. here's what I wrote.

Garrrghhh!!! Disaster has struck! I unplugged the fridge .. er.. some time, and forgot about it. I only noticed this when I opened the fridge door and almost got swept away by a tidal wave of water from the freezer compartment. I think I must have unplugged it some time this morning when I plugged in the radio. No... hang on, the radio was plugged into the right outlet - I unplugged the fridge from the left. This means that I plugged something else in there, such as.. I don't know, but I think it was yesterday afternoon.

Bugger. I've just called the Ross Pizza Careline. The woman to whom I spoke said that nothing much can go wrong with Cheese 'n' Tomato pizzas but that the 'cutoff point' for defrosted items is 24 hours. I reckon that the fridge has been defrosted for a little less than this time. Still, we'll see - if I get food poisoning, it was too long. :)

It's not really a laughing matter - still, I can't help seeing the funny side of it. "I have a strange enquiry - I expect you get this all the time... I accidentally switched the fridge off yesterday and a pizza I had in the freezer compartment has completely defrosted. The box was swimming around in about an inch of water and the pizza's totally defrosted and floppy." It definitely wasn't swimming around in an inch of water - maybe a few millimetres, perhaps. She suggested I cook it for slightly longer on a lower heat, and turn the heat back up again towards the end of the cooking period.

I did not exactly follow the above instructions. What I did was to put the pizza in on a lower heat - that part was correct. I then unexpectedly left the house for half an hour or so. It didn't seem like half an hour, is all I can say. I met Nana at Gillards, talked about Sally and her job at Nottingham University. Mario arrived and Nana bought me some apples, and then I went to the shop. When I returned to the house, I was surprised to find that approximately 30 minutes had passed and that the pizza had completely burned - well, all except for the bit at the middle, which I ate. While I vacuumed up the bits of pizza on the floor, I remembered that I'd originally unplugged the fridge so I could plug the vacuum cleaner in. :)

Nana told me that in the war (and before it), she and her family did not have a fridge so they regularly left food for the weekend and ate it on Monday. "A bit of mould won't hurt ya!" said Nana.

"Are you Italian?" said Nana to Mario. "Arrr, no," said Mario in possibly the most un-Italian Devonian accent ever - "my mother is." That was that. Nana bought me some apples. I was happy. At the shop, I bought replacement goods for the fridge with some extras that I didn't really need but got because it was 'on the books'. I must run this stuff through the barcode reader, or run the barcode reader over the stuff, rather. I'm very precise today, but unfortunately I keep making large glaring mistakes because I am tired. It's funny though - I wonder what will be next.

Some facts demystified: Mario is a gentleman who delivers fruit in a bus, and sells flowers and other items too. Sally is one of my cousins - she's a doctor. Hosts list (format: hostname, CPU type/clock speed (MHz)) : PCs: Winter (AMD K6-2/400), Circadian (Intel Pentium MMX/200), Pepperoni (Cyrix MII/300), Sunstorm (Intel 386SX/25), Cranefly (Pentium-S/90); Amiga 1200: Tabitha (68030/50). Nana is my grandmother on my mother's side. Paul Willcox.

P.S. In the evening I phoned Elly on her mobile. She was at Crystal Palace with a four year-old wee laddie. She told me she had drunk many Tia Marias with gin, or with something. I played her the Monty Python song 'Eric The Half A Bee'. She appreciated that, but I don't think she heard the 'Cyril Connelly' line. I like that line. That's my favourite line, that.

Sunday June 11 2000, 18:06

News in brief: I've got Home Highway - it's installed, it's working, and it's bloody expensive. I think I might have to re-mortgage the house. Is it possible to take out a mortgage on a house that you don't actually own? I'm hoping that Herbert (the landlord - least said about him, the better) will not notice. This is similar to a situation in 1994 when the whole of West Down thought that Herbert was selling Easterground, with me in it (presumably as some kind of resident computer-crazed hermit who eats canned food and lives upstairs).

Dear BT... make Home Highway a bit cheaper, will ya? Please?

Back to the present. I was woken at 1630 after having slept for about 4 hours by a loud 'rat-a-tat-tat' knocking at the door, and the window, and the door again. As is often the case when I am asleep, I did not answer. I waited until the person had gone away and then I got up, feeling as if my eyelids were glued shut and someone had stuffed cotton wool up my nose. I phoned a few of my friends' mobiles: Dom was watching the football and did not want to be disturbed. There was no answer from Rich's mobile.

I will end this diary entry here as I've nothing to say. Once again I am on the Internet and it's proving to be a lonely, rather sad experience. No-one has called. I'm in a rather pathetic mood. I'm astounded by the speed that the Internet has spread - and been accepted - in the States, rather like the telephone did around 120 years ago. I'm not surprised that it's taking so long for the net to become popular here. It's one of those days when I'm not particularly happy about being British (or more precisely, English). Moo.

Tuesday June 6 2000, 18:05

The following is copied from my system log:

Jun  6 17:58:52 winter lex: What a harshen. 
Jun  6 17:59:01 winter lex: I got up at about 15:30 today.  For the 
Jun  6 17:59:07 winter lex: past few hours me and Bo have been eating 
Jun  6 17:59:15 winter lex: stuff out of cans - canned tuna, canned 
Jun  6 17:59:26 winter lex: ham.  Bo has no catfood left and the bread 
Jun  6 17:59:33 winter lex: has run out (couple of crusts left, but 
Jun  6 17:59:47 winter lex: I can't stand the crusts). 
Jun  6 17:59:58 winter lex: That'll teach me to oversleep, that will. 
Jun  6 18:00:10 winter lex: I should have got up at around 9 a.m. to 
Jun  6 18:00:19 winter lex: cash my giro, but I missed it, so I am 
Jun  6 18:00:32 winter lex: now skint and hungry.  Still, it's good 
Jun  6 18:01:20 winter lex: to be hungry once in a while as it makes... 
Jun  6 18:01:38 winter lex: whoa.. a spider crawling over my neck - 
Jun  6 18:01:46 winter lex: how did it get there?  Off ya go, mate. 
Jun  6 18:02:12 winter lex: As I was saying, it makes the food seem 
Jun  6 18:02:19 winter lex: better than it is, when you finally get 
Jun  6 18:02:22 winter lex: round to buying it. 

So, today = Canned Food Tuesday. Quite how one small cat can eat a whole can of tuna and half a can of ham, I don't know. Cat's probably got worms. Anyway, that's ya diary entry for today.

P.S. No molluscs on the window today - I'm disappointed; I was thinking maybe I could boil a few and add an Oxo cube for a bit of flavour. Sorry about my irritating mood.. I'm angry with myself for oversleeping. When I'm like this, I tend to brood and sulk for a few hours, and then I go completely gaga. Tomorrow is 'Home Highway Day' - this time tomorrow evening I will hopefully have the service running, though I don't know if it will be available so soon. Will it make this Net connection any faster? I think not, though we'll see.

Monday June 5 2000, 19:14

It's dinnertime. This evening's dinner consists of Happy Shopper Baked Bean Grill with Tabasco and brown sauce - it's basic food but it fills a hole. Musicwise, I'm listening to Green Day's Dookie album. It's not loud enough.. it's got to be loud enough to get through the annoying mood of distraction which has gripped me today.

While I was preparing tonight's feast, I noticed another mollusc crawling up the window. This evening, it was a snail. By the looks of it, it's spent most of the day climbing up the outside of the house. If anyone out there is an expert in the study of molluscs, maybe they could mail me and answer this question: why do slugs and snails climb houses? I thought that maybe the mollusc can sense magnetic fields and when it wakes, decides 'right! today I will go foraging to the north!'. Off it goes, but bugger me if there isn't a blooming great house in the way. The mollusc, thinking that perhaps it has encountered a novel sort of boulder or pebble, attempts to climb it. I wonder what will be climbing up the kitchen window tomorrow? A giant squid, maybe, or a sea cucumber, or perhaps a beluga whale - you never know. [Astute readers may notice that the sketch linked to by the words 'giant squid' and 'sea cucumber' does not show a depiction of a squid, but shows an octopus instead. For some reason, I got squid and octopii confused.]

Computer stuff (non-propeller heads can skip this bit): this evening I added one more 'X Workstation' to my network - the Amiga 1200. The ancient AmiWin system turned out to be exactly what I needed, and I soon had Netscape running on the Amiga's X server by exporting the display from Winter. One tiny little nag: why is so much Amiga software shareware instead of freeware? The author of AmiWin has obviously gone to some lengths to compile it for the Amiga, but when you come down to it, it is still just a port of a free Open Source project - so why the $50 tag, mate? (I wouldn't be complaining if I could afford it, BTW.)

You're sharpening stones, walking on coals, to improve your business acumen... enemy sighted.. enemy met.. I'm addressing the realpolitik. Welcome to the bookburning.
R.E.M. - Exhuming McCarthy

Sunday June 4 2000, 19:51

I think it would be accurate to say that I spent the entire day on the Internet - mainly at, downloading large quantities of themes for Window Maker 0.62. The whole process took rather longer than I would have liked due to the net being incredibly slow. I later discovered that this was probably due to being a massive 29 hops away from my host. I switched to Freeserve and the figure was reduced to 11.

I am currently planning to convert one or more of my local intranet (.brooknet) hosts into a diskless workstation. This is mainly due to me having become thoroughly irritated with the constant humming, whirring and clanking of the computers. Winter is by far the worse offender in this aspect: it has a total of three fans (PSU fan, CPU fan, air inlet fan) and the hard drive is mounted in such a way that the clicking of the servos reverberates through the entire case. I think that the main cause of the problem is me: I am basically a grumpy old Internet addict who needs to get out of the house more and spend less time online.

Elly's slug picture
Untitled Slug Picture, by Elly Landa, 1998.

Tuesday May 30 2000, 11:47

Today I woke up at the late hour of 22:30 and immediately went on the net to upload data from Seti@home and, which I recently decided to run on my P90 named 'Cranefly'. After that, I fed the cat and turned on the radio to listen to 'Up All Night' on Radio 5 Live, as I usually do in the morning. The presenter's name was Eric, and he had a rather eccentric-sounding guy called Lucian Morgan (I probably spelled that wrong) on his show. Mr. Morgan was (and indeed, is) an interpreter of dreams. I listened intently to several elderly lady callers who had suffered a bereavement. I felt that things were getting a bit gloomy, and I decided to email one of my merry 'flying' dreams. This I did, and the presenter read it out at about 03:10. He got my name wrong (he pronounced 'Landa' as 'Larrrrrnder' - people always do) but he was very nice about my style of writing, so I didn't write back and complain. He said I wrote like a poet. Indeed, I did concentrate on the emotion and sensation of the dream, and it must have sounded quite descriptive.

A brief description of the dream: I'm walking by moonlight on a clear night. The stars are out and I have a perfect view of the fields and roads as I walk up the hill. The further I get up the hill, the more free I feel; it is as if I am slowly becoming part of the landscape - moving invisibly among the trees and fields. By the time I reach the top of the hill I feel as if I can float, and because I always think this due to the sensation of climbing the hill, this is what happens - my feet gradually leave the surface of the road and I float up into the sky where I drift amongst the cool clouds and watch the stars, which seem to grow brighter as I go higher.

After I have spent some time drifting around, I usually wake up due to the onset of lucidity. I find that I can sometimes make my dreams partly lucid, but I am never totally aware. I'm sure there's a technique to having a perfect lucid dream. A few years ago, I had another very clear lucid dream when I was sleeping on a sofa at my old house. I think the sofa was very uncomfortable so I kept waking up. This isn't enough to explain why I became lucid though.

So that's the dream. Not else much has happened today other than me feeding the cat a couple of times, being rather bothered by the fact that the cat keeps attracting ticks. I compiled a new kernel for one of my computers.

Sunday May 28 2000, 05:31

This weekend I have been behaving strangely. I have seen no-one, and have only ventured out of the house on a couple of occasions to get vital supplies from the shop or mail from the postbox. Mainly, I've been creeping around in the dark at night and playing old computer games on my Amiga 1200. This morning when the daylight threatened to cloud my mental clarity with harshness and glare, I blocked off another window upstairs - I've yet to see how good a job I made of it; there is only so much you can do with bin bags, staples and silver foil.

My British Telecom Speedway ISDN card (a rebadged AVM 'Fritz' A1 card) arrived on Friday and I installed the software on Windows. Getting it to work on Linux will be somewhat more challenging than inserting a CD and rebooting a few times - it means a kernel recompile and a couple of updated packages. I'm glad for the presence of such volunteer groups as isdn4linux at these times - I doubt BT would have wanted to help.

The magpies are squawking outside: an odd 'racheting' sound like a squeaky hinge. I've come to know that this sound means "I've found it! Food over here!", or maybe it's just a magpie expression of excitement. I threw some stale cornflakes out just now - the food will be gone in a couple of hours.

My dad mailed me the other day and included a Microsoft Office document which featured some colourful graphics. "More COLOUR!" it urged: "Like the site but want COLOUR!" I am going to add tons of colour to this site at some point (meaning 'never' in Lex language!), however I often view webpages with the Lynx text browser, which ignores graphics. Wouldn't the web be boring if it was all text though? I will add graphics soon, I promise. I'll also try to split this page into a number of mini-pages, and add frames.. maybe. :)

Friday May 26 2000, 20:30

It's a grey, wet evening and the rain is coming down in large, cold drops. The magpies squawk loudly outside as they quarrel over some catfood that I have just thrown out. As I write this, I hear a message which informs me that the modem has just disconnected the call - a modem retrain failure caused by my living so far from the exchange. I have noticed that the line drops more frequently when it's wet outside.

My sleep pattern has been chaotic recently and having stayed up for 36 hours since Wednesday, this morning I went back to bed for four hours and awoke again just before 0800 so I could be awake to collect a parcel which I knew to be arriving. I had a cup of tea and a biscuit but didn't have the appetite to eat anything more substantial.

Things should get better with my net connection as I'm getting Home Highway (ISDN) soon. The parcel that arrived this morning was the BT Speedway ISDN card. Drivers should be available for Linux as apparently this card is just a clone of the AVM Fritz card. I'm really looking forward to having a fast, stable connection that doesn't drop or retrain every ten minutes.

I visited my landlord (at his farm) at 19:00. He was asleep at the kitchen table. He woke when I had been talking to my grandmother for a few minutes. He grumbled some complaint about the rent at me and watched me with a bleary eye. I did not reply as I'd not heard what he said, and I have decided that since I don't speak his particular drunken Devonian dialect anyway, I may as well not bother entering into a conversation with him. I've suffered so many hateful, whinging and bitter complaints from him that I just don't let myself deal with it any more.

Ah well! That's today's brief (and cheerful) diary entry concluded!

(end of diary entries)