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Brooknet's Freeserve Site

Warped Lex

Clicking the above picture should take you to my local intranet web server, if I'm currently online and using Linux.

Also, you might like to try my Roger Wilco chat server - just click 'Join' and type '' into the box that says 'IP Address or Hostname of Channel Host' and then assuming that I have the server running, I'll notice - or you may well find yourself all alone with no-one to talk to. If you don't get a connection, phone me up and tell me to start the server (kinda defeats the object, really, doesn't it?).

Greetings, and welcome to the Freeserve portion of my vast global homepage hierarchy, known as 'Brooknet'. This site is under construction, and probably always will be - a typical 'Lex' project is never finished. That's me above, by the way - me Lex/Alex.

If you have seen this page before, you may have viewed it on my BT Internet site. Today (March 29 2001) I copied the site over to my Freeserve site and made very few alterations.

Contact details:

Telephone: (01271) 864980, 867150.

I can receive calls while I'm on the 'net. In the unlikely case that you are calling from the USA (hello Trina!), add 44 and remove the leading zero - i.e. the number becomes 44 1271 864980/867150/866907.

About Me

I've been using computers for many years but have yet to find any talent for webpage design. I dunno, maybe it's just not in my blood; I grew up on glass ttys and 8-bit micros and am used to a blank screen and a flashing cursor, e.g.



- that sort of thing (the cursor should blink on Netscape or Mozilla, but won't on Internet Explorer). Astute readers of this page may note that the above prompt looks a bit like an early Microsoft BASIC prompt. I'm afraid to say that indeed it is - BASIC was my first language: BASIC on the Research Machines RML-380Z and then the Sinclair ZX81 microcomputer, with a massive 16K RAM!

After I grew tired of the limits of BASIC, I tried some assembly language - Z80, 6502, 68000. I've yet to get the hang of x86, though it seems straightforward enough.

Right, enough of the computers (for the moment!).

Me, I'm currently 31 years old and it's my birthday in June, when I will finally reach the ripe old age of 0x20 - twenty again.. wow. (That's hexadecimal - base 16, by the way - I will be 32 in decimal human years).

Appearance: I am about 5 foot 5, I am bespectacled and very short- sighted, and I talk to myself a lot and go 'hmpph', which often annoys my younger sister, Elly. I am proud to describe myself as a 'geek', being into many geekish things, as you'll discover if you explore this site.

Habits: my waking cycle has been known to follow a diurnal pattern, though my 'daytime' gradually shifts towards the nocturnal, when I will be found wandering around the house soldering bits of wire, playing R.E.M., Radiohead, Placebo and Garbage, tripping over the carpet and shouting. Diet consists largely of frozen curries, snacks, biscuits and chocolate.

In the 70s when I was a child - long before I discovered computing - I was into electronics, astronomy and rocket science. When I grew up, I wanted to be a robot. Already, I had glimpsed the tantalising world of logic, and I was hooked. Being somewhat pretentious and pseudo-intellectual, like, I was not treated well by my peers. On the whole, my school life sucked badly - I always felt that I was fighting the school for the right to be taught something interesting (the school won).

I think the first computer (of sorts) that I ever saw was an exhibit at London Science Museum. This thing looked like a large wooden box with a basic glass CRT - much like a television except that it had a clunky grey plastic keyboard underneath. A sign read 'TYPE IN A QUESTION AND PRESS RETURN. THE COMPUTER WILL RESPOND'. People had typed - the computer had declined to reply. Eventually the people became frustrated and typed insulting graffiti on the screen. The computer wisely stayed silent and kept its mighty technical secrets to itself.

When I left school I dithered about for a bit until I started a course at North Devon Microcentre in Barnstaple. In those days Maggie was in power and YTS (Youth Training Scheme) and ITeCs (Information TEchnology Centre) were the latest trend in training. I therefore ended up on this course and spent a year drifting through it, being bored. There were fun moments, particularly because this was the first time I had ever used a computer system that was on a network and offered primitive timesharing facilities. The system (state of the art at the time, it seemed to me) consisted of four Octopus/LSI CP/M computers with 2-4 terminals (Hazeltine Esprit) connected to each node and linked with serial hookups and thin Ethernet.

It would not have been such fun had the sysadmin not been such a paranoid and insecure bully. Being 31 now, I can almost see from his viewpoint. Being minimally trained in IT and suddenly being put in charge of 10-15 hyperactive teenagers would have been a bit of a shock to the poor bloke. When not completing some dull project, I would be reading the system manuals, experimenting with the terminals and writing amusing hacks which drove the management crazy. My favourite hacks are still 'ghost in the machine' type hacks, such as getting the daisywheel printers to type random gibberish from across the network, or simulating a CP/M prompt in BASIC and causing it to behave unexpectedly (this was a simple 'Trojan Horse' type hack, though I hadn't heard the term then).

To be continued.. possibly.

Where I Live

My home is a cottage on the outskirts of the village of West Down, which is a few miles away from the town of Ilfracombe in North Devon, United Kingdom. I'm delighted to say that West Down now has its own website, at

There used to be a note here saying 'where's gone?' - well, I don't know about, but is up. (Thanks to Mike & Janet Tolman for bringing that to my attention)

From what I can tell, West Down is home to many professional people, and a large amount of vets and farmers. I'm probably completely wrong there. To be honest, I know a lot of people who are neither vets or farmers. I don't know why I wrote that, really. Maybe I should amend this bit.

Hello World!


(Rather Silly) Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my cousin Ben for getting me into all this, for providing the means by which I can get a BT Internet account (free! No call charges! Waheyyy, I can spend as long as I like online - well, up to two hours at a time anyway). Ben has offered much good advice over the years. I think back to the days when I'd run NetBSD on my Amiga and Ben was running Telix in DOS, and I'm amazed how much (and fast) everything has changed. Still, nostalgia ain't what it used to be, so that's enough of that.

A special 'hello' goes to Birds Eye Wall's Ltd. - thanks for the curries, dudes - I especially like the sultanas and would like to see more vegetables, please.


Tam and Simon, if you visit, please feel welcome to send me a mail if I've left anything crucial out or you think there's something I should add to the site. I'm not particularly adept at HTML yet, but I can write basic text.

Other greets: hello to Dad (Frank) and Linda, Tigger the cat and the yacht, the name of which I do not know. My dad's on the net.. wow, that makes me proud, he says as a tear comes to his eye. "My dad's finally on the net! Good one, Pa!". Nuff playful sarcasm.

Hello to Mike & Heather Reeves and all the folks at the shop who serve me with a smile and ignore my annoying muttering, my tendency to linger like a phantasm around the biscuit shelves and my dripping raincoat.


Linux: a free operating system developed by a Finnish university student named Linus Torvalds.

If I start going on about Linux, I'm not going to be able to upload this before midnight. I will not tempt fate by saying that if you haven't got into Linux, you might like to try it. I think it largely depends on the personality of the user as to whether they take to Linux or not - if you just use a computer as an information resource via a browser, for example, then it might not be for you. If you want to actually interact with your computer and actually get it to work with you instead of against you, Linux might suit you (sir). Linux now offers a choice of complete windowing environments which in my opinion are far more pleasing on the eye than the clunky Windows interface. In my opinion, StarOffice is the 'killer app' of the Linux world, seconded by GIMP. With StarOffice you can continue to edit Word/Office '97 documents, and it will handle a lot of other .. er.. stuff.

Some Linux sites:,, There are many, many others - I suggest typing 'Linux' in a search engine. My distribution of choice is Red Hat Linux.

Finally, a word on the pronunciation of the word 'Linux'. I have always pronounced it with a long 'i', as in 'Lie-nucks'. This is not the official pronunciation though - this would be 'Li-nucks' as spoken by Linus with an 'ee' sound. Other people say it with a short 'i', as 'Li-nucks'. In my opinion, this method of pronunciation is more suited to the folks over the water in the USA. Therefore, I will continue to stubbornly say 'Ly-nucks' even though I know it's 'wrong'. Sorry Linus! My defense: everyone I know says 'Ly-nucks'. I rest my case (some case! Who cares how you say it, as long as you use it?).

Linux Serial Terminal

Recently I found myself with a spare 80386-based PC and a VGA monitor. I'd bought an NE2000 clone network card a couple of months previously, which I'd installed in the 386. When I moved the 386 upstairs, I was stuck without network access because I didn't have enough thin ethernet cable to reach - well, I had a very long (50m) section and then a few 2m sections. Linking the network to the distant '386 would have meant moving the kitchen computer, and I didn't want to do that as the kitchen is the first room that I see after I wake up (whether in the evening or the morning).

Here's a two-disk Red Hat-based serial terminal system that I put together. The first disk is your root boot disk. It boots and then requests the second (root filesystem) disk. Insert that, press Return and it boots. The root shell has very little available - basically, just microcom, date, ifconfig. The kernel is 2.2.14.

As of 25-May, it doesn't have ifconfig on it any more: I felt that dd and cat were more important.

Useful links: microcom Serial Terminal Emulator, Linux Terminal Server Project.

Disk images (gzipped - you'll need to shift-click 'em): kernel floppy (1), root floppy (2). SysLinux boot floppy (see below) BusyBox root filesystem (see below)

Tarballs: kernel floppy, root filesystem.

sunstorm-boot.img.gz is a Syslinux boot floppy that I use to load Linux on my old Laser 386 PC, named 'Sunstorm'. It loads a 2.2.14 kernel, initialises the ethernet card (a D-Link PCI NE2000 clone) and then looks for a DHCP server. If it finds a server, it gets its IP address and root filesystem name and then mounts the rootfs via NFS. If it doesn't get a reply, it reverts to a floppy rootfs, which is where 'bboxroot.img.gz' comes in - that is a tiny rootfs-on-a-disk system with BusyBox and very little else. It is slightly customised for my system; about the only files that I modified were the startup file /etc/init.d/rcS (a shell script) and /etc/hosts, which contains entries for each of the hosts on my intranet but is not used because resolver doesn't work (no libs).

To use these images, write the files to a 1.4M formatted floppy with the command 'dd if=<image file> of=/dev/fd0H1440 bs=1440k'. Make sure you decrunch the images before writing them. This assumes that you are running Linux - if not, you'll have to get hold of a disk image-writing program such as 'rawrite' (included with Red Hat Linux, of course :).


My interest in computers stems from a lifelong obsession with gadgets of all types. Here are some electronic resources sites which you may like to visit.

EPE Online -- The Internet site of Everyday Practical Electronics - an electronics magazine - useful for both the beginner in electronics and the advanced gadget geek.

Hardware Book -- an HTML-based guide featuring pinouts, cables and schematics.


At some point I will move all of these subsections to a different page.

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!

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. :)

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 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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

Sunday 7th October, 2001, 03:14

Today I re-implemented port forwarding. What this means, in English, is that '' 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.

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.


My Yahoo photos. Some of them were taken with an expensive digital camera. Most of them weren't.

Doctor HTML - advanced HTML checker.

My local intranet pages - also available by clicking the above 'lexwarp' picture.

Look!! The first bitta graphics on the page, below! Mooo!

Distributed Computing

The link button of dreams    

Copyright (C) Alex Landa, 2000. I am not responsible for any omissions or errors contained within this text, which are the product of a woolly brain - usually a sleepless one. This site is currently in development and is being designed with the help of Using HTML 4, Fourth Edition, which was a Christmas present from Ben. If you have read this book, you may notice that I'm following the format quite closely.