Brooknet Web Log

The End Of The Blog
The GreyMatter blog is no more!

The new blog is Wordpress, and you can find it at from now on.

03.19.08 @ 09:25 PM GMT [link]

New router

There's a new router handling traffic from the Internet to Brooknet. It's been mangled by BT, so expect trouble, and I mean serious trouble. The older router (Voyager 220V) had also been mangled, though not to such a serious extent.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need a mug of tea.
07:49 PM GMT on 19-Mar-08 [link]

Whoops.. wrong entry
This entry was a mistake: I duplicated an entry due to a permissions problem on the blog. There is nothing here to read - other than this rubbish.
07:47 PM GMT on 19-Mar-08 [link]


Still awake
Hey folks, I'm still awake! I've been awake since 23:43 on Sunday 9th March, and it's now 11th March - which means it's my dad's birthday.. so..


I'm listening to the scanner, reading service manuals and drinking coffee to keep myself awake. Plus, I am eating chocolate. I went into town yesterday morning and I was blown against a wall by the wind - it was totally strong wind and it was blowing right at me from the direction of the High Street.

The strong wind has disappeared now, though it's still raining and the bucket needs emptying occasionally.

Here's what I look like right now:

I'm very tired.

This picture shows me absent-mindedly thinking about nothing in particular.

I'm drinking this.

02:18 AM GMT on 11-Mar-08 [link]


Ilfracombe Weather
Here's an update for those of you interested in the wind and rain sweeping in from the Atlantic.

The weather forecast predicts 'storm-force winds of up to 80 miles-per-hour'.

I'll write updates as the night goes on.

01:56: Rain and strong wind blowing from a south-southwest direction, hitting the kitchen window. In the old bedroom, the roof is leaking and is busy filling the bucket.

02:30: The wind is banging the windows and I can feel the vibration through the floor (the flats in this house have very thin floors - you can hear everything going on in the flat below). It's not going to get more interesting than that unless the roof blows off or the windows break. I tried to get a picture of the weather but this is difficult because it's dark.

The temperature in the kitchen is 18C. In the old bedroom, it is a bit cooler at 17C. The leak in the roof is now dripping a lot and I'm going to be emptying the bucket soon. I made the hole in the ceiling a bit bigger because it was full of water - the ceiling would have come down if I hadn't done that.

05:01: The worst of the rain is over. The leak in the ceiling continues to drip, and I've pulled off a strip of wallpaper, which would have fallen anyway. The smell of damp is very strong. Behind the wallpaper is a lot of very mouldy plasterboard and a few spiders (it's good to see some life in this place, other than me!). The damp problem has been present since before I moved in. The response from the estate agents handling this place has been dismal: they got a couple of builders to look at it, and the builders said that the ceiling would have to go. That was more than a month ago and since then, I've heard nothing. Still, at least they've done a bit more than the previous agents, who must have known about the leak because I took pictures of it and showed them. I am of the opinion that estate agents generally suck when it comes to rentals.

Click 'more..' to see some pictures of the leaking roof.

07:42: The rain has changed from a 'driven' freezing type to a drifting, scattered type. If you've read 'So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish' by Douglas Adams, you will recall a man called Rob McKenna, who drove a lorry. Rob was a Rain God and the clouds loved him and followed him everywhere. He had categorised .. erm.. I think it was about 400 different types of rain. With variations in air temperature, wind velocity, air pressure and many other factors, I can well believe that there are 400 types.

Minor characters from The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy: Rob McKenna

18:18: The light is fading from the sky. It's raining vertically now - probably around a number 120 in Rob's list. I'm watching Annabelle The Sheep dancing to Garbage's 'Sleep Together'. I don't think that sleeping with someone will sort any problems out, and it may cause a few more. Still, what do I know.
posted on Mon, 10-Mar-08 @ 01:56 AM GMT [more..]


No more comments (again)
Feeps, I'm turning off the comments again because:

1. Nobody uses them.
2. No-one knows they are there, except...
3. Spammers.

If you want to contact me, you know the address/phone numbers.

Thanks for everything, you know. Thanks, folks - especially Dan Maunder. Take care, dude.

Dan Maunder

P.S. Don't ask me what Dan is sticking up his nose - I can't remember that far back (that picture was taken in the 'Easterground days' of the early 90s). [11-Mar-08: I remember now! It's a kitten - possibly Vera, who would hang around the 'deck room' a lot.]
04:58 PM GMT on 09-Mar-08 [link]

Last chance...

Some news:

Regarding's availability, the router's got an annoying 'undocumented misfeature' where it will sometimes stop forwarding traffic from the Net: all incoming connections time out. Outgoing connections are not affected, which is why I don't notice when this occurs. All I can say is *sorry*! I'll replace the router soon, when I can untangle the load of cables under the table and when it's not so cold in there.

I'm not sure if the 'Music' line appears with this GM theme - if not, the subject won't make much sense, but does it ever anyway? The concluding line is '...on the stairway' - I'm listening to this song at the moment. It's an old Duran Duran song from an album called 'Rio'. That was back in the days when they used to make these spinny things out of vinyl and people would put them in machines that poked them (the records, not the people) and sound would come out.

I've been thinking about lots of things lately. Here are some of my dumb thoughts, not in any particular order, but with timestamps so you can see how my train of thought goes off-the-tracks as the day goes on.

[10-Mar-08: Having sobered up, I've made a few edits to protect my privacy, and those of others. If you caught the blog before the edits, lucky you!]


01:02 <@lex> "Europe is about to launch the biggest and most sophisticated spacecraft in history.."

02:16 <@lex> Remember that EMP (egg mixture protein) stuff that I got for the pigeons? I've just tipped the whole lot out onto the window sill, old bedroom. Tomorrow morning there'll probably be a massive flock of pigeons out there. Let's hope it doesn't rain.

08:33 <@lex> I've been on SL so many times tonight.. a doing a lot of building, my first bit of texture design and more building.

08:45 <@lex> I've found another bit of cantaloupe - I think it's okay. I'm eating it.

10:12 <@lex> What if people in Hillsborough Terrace are on SL - I'd never know, would I? Maybe I should put a notice downstairs, asking anyone if they are on it.

12:36 <@lex> It's amazing how much [my SL persona] looks like Ben - I never noticed before. It's the glasses.

13:13 <@lex> Chocolate: Dream, Milky Way, Kit Kat Chunk. The girl at the counter smiled at me and asked me if I'd like a bag. I couldn't remember. I said, "Er.. yes.. er.. I mean no.. sorry, I'm so tired, I don't know whether I've got a bag or not." [I was carrying it]
13:14 <@lex> There's £11 on the electricity.

20:53 <@lex> I'm awake again. I woke up some time around 20:30, I think, though I didn't find out what the time is until 20:45. The sound of people outside woke me - teenagers shouting (the usual

23:05 <@lex> Dad should have got his flying monkey by now. I seem to be getting into the habit of buying Dad very silly birthday presents.


00:00 <@lex> It's Sunday.
9th March. Sunday. 2008.
It's night-time - dark. Temperature in the kitchen is 17C.
Spatula's system temperature is 29C.
Spatula's CPU temperature is 56C.
CPU Core Voltage is 1.59V.
DDR Voltage is 2.69V.
DDR VTT Voltage is 1.63V.
ATX +12V is 11.72V.
AUXC Voltage is 2.73V.
My throat feels croaky and I think I'll have a mug of coffee.
End of report.

Dotun is talking about fish and chips. This is all making me quite hungry - don't worry, it'll be lunchtime soon. I expect that Mr. Nolan is on his way back to his hotel now, where he'll stuff his face.

To do: create mushy peas in SL.

01:30: They've.. what? Hired dogs to suck the bloodsuckers out of.. what?
Hotels. In hotels, they've hired dogs to find the bedbugs, and then they get an exterminator to get rid of them. Americans. No, not to get rid of the Americans, although that sounds like it might work too.
If they're going to all of the expense of getting trained dogs to find bedbugs and then getting exterminators to kill the bugs, why don't they just shut the whole hotel down? They'd save money. I mean otherwise, they'd have to go back for something else - cholera or something.

01:36 * lex laughs.
They're talking about conkers again. Americans don't know what it is.
Memo: create a conker in SL.
Conkers, mushy peas, what's left? Lots.

01:43 <@lex> Don't they have Fish 'n' Chips in the US?
Bizarre! No tea, no conkers, no mushy peas - I'd never make it there.

02:20 <@lex> What's that guy's name? Enzo Macaronelli? The announcer bloke had some trouble with that one. It's the boxing. Lunch is a PB & Banana sandwich. I've cut a milk carton in half and am going to use it to put tea bags in, so I can avoid that annoying 'splashing teabag' problem where, because I carry a teabag across the kitchen, tea ends up dripping on things (the fridge, mostly).

02:30 <@lex> I wrote 'USED TEA BAGS HERE PLEASE' on the side of the carton, and 'TEA BAGS - USED - HERE PLEASE', and 'TEA BAGS - USED PLEASE HERE' and stuff.

06:07 <@lex> I'm transferring data off the Nokia 6230i (Llamatron) and I'm writing it to a CD-RW, on Circadian's Windows XP system. That system is being very uncooperative and I conclude that it is buggy.

Everything is. That's what Thom [Yorke] should have shouted, in 'Planet Telex'.

09:37 <@lex> I am following my train of thought to try to work out why I am perusing the kernel source (2.0!) on It was something to do with dmix - if only I could remember what.. oh yeah, I was looking at top and trying to see the dmix process, and I couldn't so I figured it was part of the overall 'system' load. Then I did more 'top' stuff, thought about SMP, about the SPARCserver, and.. er.. can't remember what I was thinking after that.

09:42 <@lex> I need one of those portable media players.. oh, wait, I've got about a million of them. I just need to work out which one to use for all of my audio and get a big enough storage card for it.

10:31 <@lex> 'Exit Music' still makes the hairs on the back of my head stand up.

10:42 <@lex> 'Strange News From Another Star' makes me feel strange [sigh..] - groggy, drunk, heavy, lethargic. No change from the usual then.

10:50 <@lex> I love the start of 'Last Chance On The Stairway' - the sound of a cigarette lighter, I think (not very politically correct these days, but who gives a [four asterisks, disguising a word starting with 'S' and ending with 'T']?).

Things that I want (slightly - it's a long list):
1. X Files Season 9, although it's crap
2. Old Duran Duran albums
3. Knight Rider DVDs, other than the one I have already
4. A Knight Rider RC card.. car, I mean
I'm getting towards 40 so I am getting quite retro.
Why does that happen? Why, as I get older, am I losing the memories and the feel of those old times, and yet I want to relive them? [Maybe that's why..]

11:02 <@lex> I still think that 'The Chauffeur' is a truly excellent song.
"Who's that up front?" - maybe he says that now..
"There's more to his kind of camouflage - more than just colour and shape."
"Who's calling now? From the toy box in the attic.."
That last word is so quiet as to be almost inaudible. It might be 'somewhere', but I think it's 'someone'.

[I never noticed those words when I first heard that song, way back in 1982.]

13:27 <@lex> WARNING: /iommu@f,e0000000/sbus@f,e0001000/dma@f,81000/esp@f,80000/
sd@0,0 (sd0): Error for command 'read' Error Level: Fatal Requested Block
67936, Error Block: 67936 Sense Key: Not Ready Vendor 'CONNER': ASC = 0x4 (LUN not ready), ASCQ = 0x0, FRU = 0x15
13:28 <@lex> Disk error... bad..

13:33 <@lex> If I can stand that stink [the odd smell emanating from the SPARCserver], I'll go back in there. After a few more glasses of wine, I probably won't care.
* lex laughs.
I feel as if I have most spectacularly failed to do anything that I wanted to do, today. As usual, I got diverted from my objectives.
"You've wandered so far from the person you are," sing Keane.
I wander into the other room, disconnect the Sony CDROM drive, wander back into the kitchen.

14:06 <@lex> I declare that the Papermate ComfortMate is my favourite biro at the moment. It's good - it writes well, it feels good in the hand. You can tell that I'm drunk, can't you?

14:16 <@lex> "Female red squirrel, blond hair. Amy the Squirrel is intelligent, independent, and very protective of her loved ones, like her son Timothy. She too has been approached by Sabrina's employer to appear in her films. Her job is unknown, but a video by Eric implied she worked at a hospital as a nurse."
A nurse? I fancy her even more, then..

.. and I hate Thomas Woolfe, who is her husband. Bast.

[Oh no, sounds as if my Amy The Squirrel fixation is returning from my Amiga days.]

14:52 <@lex> I definitely had AF issue 110. 111 had 'Quake' on the front of it, and a Quake-like 'Q'. I may have had this - not sure..
Release date was Fri 15th May 1998. Issue 112 had a pink logo and a bloke who looks like Harry Enfield on it. I definitely didn't get this one. Why did I stop getting Amiga Format, then? I think it's the usual thing: the shop missed a couple of issues and I thought that AF had packed up. Mainly though, I was skint...

15:18 <@lex> I love Harriet Wheeler's voice. She's got such a brilliant, clear voice. I still love this album (R, W and A) although I've heard it lots of times.

15:23 <@lex> [Looking at the SPARCserver's files scrolling past]
Huh? /var/local/info/woman? What kind of file would that be? Next to 'widget' and 'viper'.

15:28 <@lex> It always gets me that when I listen to this stuff (Duran Duran again, currently) that the singer is frozen in time, always the same age, always in that moment, but I am accelerating away from them on the timeline, getting older all the time and seeing things differently. That spooks me.

16:03 (the present): It's moving so fast, it's standing still. That's not my quote - that's William Gibson's. I don't have a single original quote to my name, except maybe...

'Er.. dunno, stuff.'

Vague things like that, I say a lot: mostly to myself, in the dark, before I walk into a box of junk and fall over.

I'll go now.

[It's gone already: the present becomes the past and vanishes down an infinitely-receding timeline, where it will be endlessly re-iterated and changed by events in the present, until it bears little resemblance to what it was when it existed. The future awaits: a looming chasm of noise and randomness, generally buggering around with the present and turning it into another one. This makes life seem like a very long and nauseating fairground ride - The Waltzer, maybe, and the idiot who spins the cars around is the poking finger of fate, squashing order and sense into a meaningless mess.. and I need another drink.]

[Instead, I had a mug of tea and went to bed, waking up about 6 hours later. I'm sorry that this blog page couldn't be more interesting - it's never a good idea to paste bits of my diary into it, as it's unstructured, rambling, and usually contains something embarrassing. I've removed a lot of it since I originally wrote it, and there's not much left. I should have planned what I was going to write before I started typing.]
04:06 PM GMT on 09-Mar-08 [link]


Compiling SIMH
I recently tried compiling the SIMH application on my Ubuntu 7.10 box. I needed to make a few modifications to get it to compile with network support, and I'm listing them here in case anyone else has the same issues. These instructions may contain errors - in fact they probably, almost certainly, contain errors - lots.

The first thing to do is get the latest version of SIMH, which you'll find at

I have All of the source files are DOS-formatted, but this doesn't seem to affect the compilation.

You'll need the latest libpcap, which you can get at
I'm using version 0.9.8.

Unpack libpcap to a separate directory and do a ./configure, adding a --prefix argument to install to a non-system directory, e.g. /home/lex/libpcap-install. You'll probably need to install flex, m4 and bison.

Do a 'make ; make install'.

SIMH expects include files in /usr/local/include/ and lib archives in /usr/local/lib. I added symlinks for these, instead of editing the source code (please replace '/home/lex/libpcap-install' with wherever you compiled libpcap).

cd /usr/local/lib
for a in /home/lex/libpcap-install/lib/*; do
ln -s ${a}

cd /usr/local/include
for a in /home/lex/libpcap-install/include/*; do
ln -s ${a}

Then, change dir back to the SIMH compile directory. Before you start compiling, a minor edit to the Makefile needs to be made. Edit 'makefile' and find the line that starts: 'CC =' in the 'ifeq ($(OSTYPE),macos' statement. After the 'else' line, edit the CC line and add '-lrt' somewhere (I added it after '-lm'). Then, rtlib will be linked in, instead of just for MacOS.

Do 'make USE_NETWORK=1'. SIMH should compile without errors. After it's done, you can delete the symlinks.

That's all!

10:04 PM GMT on 15-Jan-08 [link]


Christmas night
Hello, and Merry Seasonal Festivities to all readers of this blog. I have had quite an eventful day so far. It all started on Monday, 06:30, when the electricity went off. I'm on one of those annoying key budget meters and I'd run out of money about 5 days early. The meter had run into its 'emergency credit', when I would normally be expected to add more credit before it runs out. I was not able to do this - I was broke - so the emergency credit ran out and the electricity went off. Prior to the outage, I'd been dozing in the 'orange room', huddled in a blanket, with the heater off to preserve the electricity for as long as possible. I was shivering and after the electricity went out, I continued to shiver and got up to shut down the web server before the UPS ran out of juice. It's supposed to last 30 minutes and indeed it used to, but the battery is old now and it typically only runs for 10 minutes before doing its rapid beeping (means "I'm really short on power") and shutting down. To make matters worse, it has a ridiculous feature called 'Green Power' which, far from being environmentally friendly as the name might suggest, actually forces the user to drain more than 80W from the unit, or it shuts down after five minutes. There's probably some valid reason why this 'feature' has been implemented. I suspect that it's the way of the manufacturer telling me that I should have bought the more expensive UPS instead.

I won't go into much detail regarding Monday night and Tuesday morning - suffice it to say that I was cold, hungry and would have really appreciated a mug of tea. I walked around in the dark, listened to the radio (on batteries) and time passed very slowly. When the morning arrived, I settled into an uneasy half-sleep where I occasionally woke, shivering, pulled the blankets tighter around my freezing feet and went back to sleep - if you can call it that. I finally got up at 07:43 and prepared to go out.

It was Christmas Day, 2007. Ilfracombe was not only a ghost town, but a forgotten, lost ghost town. Of the few pedestrians I saw, a few were dog-walkers, a few were scruffily-dressed men such as myself, and the rest were loosely-scattered groups of teenaged boys. I felt cold, uncomfortable and paranoid. My marching feet took me to probably the only shop open in the town, 'Jack's Dairy'. There, I bought a lot of food and asked the guy behind the counter to put £20 on the electricity key. I stomped off back to the house, inserted the key (really, an EEROM) into the meter - there was a click and the electricity came back on.

My aunt and uncle picked me up at 14:30, and we went to dinner at my gran's. It was great - total nosh: turkey, sprouts, carrots, potatoes, stuff. Sophie (my half-cousin) was given a car as a present! Dom and I totally failed to eat as many roast potatoes as we could (this is an annual tradition that seems to have waned a little) and Julian brought his parrot with him. It's called 'Macy', as in 'Macy Gray'. It's a grey parrot, see?

When I got back to the flat, I wrote a really bad poem:

"oh moose moose oh moosey moose
you're so moosey and so moosy and did I say that you are a moose?
not a mousse, which is chocolatey and smooth, not like a moose
which is leathery and has a bit of a short temper."

There. I have drunk a lot of wine and port today, and eaten a few chocolates. I do not feel very healthy but at least the electricity's on and I am not freezing.

Some pictures:

Not a very flattering view of Dom.

Dom's mysterious present, which turned out to be a visit to a race track (of the automobile type).

I ate approximately 5 of these. I think that might be my aunt Max there.

01:38 AM GMT on 26-Dec-07 [link]


Some photos I forgot to upload
Here are some photos from my trip to Knowle a few weeks ago. Click on these and a window will open (unless you have pop-ups disabled).

QEmu installing Windows XP (very slowly because I'd forgotten to enable the acceleration module)
Stand F at Barnstaple Bus Station. This is to remind me where the bus goes from/to.
02:07 PM GMT on 05-Nov-07 [link]

Another BT rant
If you read this, please imagine that it's being read by Victor Meldrew (if you don't know who that is, do a search for 'One Foot In The Grave' on the BBC website).

Anyone trying to connect to Brooknet this morning will have had a variety of problems: timeouts, server errors, odd webpages appearing and disappearing. I would describe today as having been 'interesting'.

It started fairly early: I'd been awake since 02:50 and I was mooching around the flat, looking at the computers, when I saw the Internet light of the router blinking on and off to indicate the passage of data. "That's odd," I thought - "I don't have anything running that would download a lot of data.." - and then I checked the wireless camera (Linksys WVC54G). Sure enough, someone was looking at the camera and had been doing so for a few hours. I don't like people 'hogging the camera', as it slows down my LAN and the Internet connection - uses all my upload bandwidth, and I don't have much to spare.

I reckoned that putting a WRT54G (wireless router) between the camera and the Internet should make it easier to deal with, so I did that - it took a few hours to sort the routing out. Having done it, I found that there wasn't even a proper firewall configuration on the WRT - I've got to upgrade it to Kamikaze.

At around 9 a.m. I called BT about my router. It's a 'white box' BT Home Hub - a gleaming white obelisk with built-in WLAN, VoIP capabilities, firewall, tons of stuff. One thing that the specs fail to mention is that it is a complete and utter bastard to configure: the web interface is very slow, confusing and buggy. While I was fooling around with the port forwarding - or 'Games', as it confusingly calls it - the router locked up and needed to be reset (i.e. pull out the power cable). I'd had enough: I called BT.

Naturally, I got an Indian call centre. The woman to whom I spoke was really bellowing down the phone at me. "YES, MISTER LANDA, I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU'RE GETTING A SLOW CONNECTION SPEED?" I explained that no, the connection speed was fine and it was the software on the router that was the problem. She didn't get it. I was put on hold. "We need to test your line - could you tell me what lights are showing on the router?" she asked. "It's not on," I said. "I have it here.." (I waved it around - fat lot of good that does!) ".. I've unplugged it and am using my old router."

"Well, Mister Landa, could you please replace the router and call us back? We need to test it."

BUT.. there was nothing wrong with the line - as I explained, the ADSL connection was okay, and it was just the buggy/crawlingly-slow/annoying software on the router that was the issue. I figured I may as well do what they asked, so just to placate them, I removed the good ol' Voyager 220V (why I decided to upgrade from this router is anyone's idea), attached the 'white box', booted up one of my PCs to Windows - which, by the way, I hate - installed the irritating BT Home Hub software, and I got it on the Net. This took another hour because the configuration on the Home Hub had been changed and I couldn't reset it to the defaults (it seemed okay after I held the 'Wireless Association' button for 15 seconds after powerup).

So, with the white box working and online again, I called BT back. They didn't want to test the box this time - they just wanted to test the line. "There's nothing wrong with the line," I stated, again. BT have a speed tester page - ''. It didn't work - it put up an error and refused to co-operate. "We'll report this to our technical team," said the Indian-accented woman to whom I was talking. "Could I put you on hold again? I've just got to talk to my colleague."

Another few minutes passed and I was transferred to another woman, who said she'd try to do something about the speed of my line. I was losing my patience, although paradoxically, I thought it was all my fault. "I'm sorry," I said, "I think there's been a misunderstanding. I've never had any trouble with the line speed - as I explained, my Home Hub's software is buggy, slow and cumbersome. While configuring it, it stopped responding and I had to reboot it, several times."
"I'm sorry, Mister Landa," said the lady (I was getting irritated at being called 'Mister Landa'). "What we're going to do is replace your router."

AT LAST! Yay! At last, the penny (well, the roupee, probably) drops! "Within the next two business days, a courier will call to replace your router," she said. I asked whether I should include any cables when the swap occurs. "That's fine, Mister Landa," she said, "we won't need your old Home Hub."

I was overjoyed - now I can sell the white box on EBay and let some other schmuck more tolerant person handle its idiosyncrasies, and I get an upgrade! After all that, I've decided that I'm happy with the original Voyager 220V router. I should never have got a new broadband package.

[09-Nov-07: BT included a return bag in the package, so they obviously intended me to return the old Home Hub. I sent it off this morning as I don't to annoy BT by hanging onto it.]

[I ranted a bit more here and decided to delete it as it doesn't do anyone any good to read this stuff. I left the bit below though.]

And another thing! My visual recognition systems are on-the-blink: every time I look at this computer out of the corner of my eye, the plastic bag sticking out of it (it's protecting the CF-to-IDE interface and card ) looks suspiciously like Tony Blackburn. I think it's time I got back on the medication. Does anyone agree?

It's not Tony Blackburn - it's just a plastic bag.
12:31 PM GMT on 05-Nov-07 [link]

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