Archive for November, 2004

Quick update

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

[ from the very-quick-photo-link dept. ]

Photo: The Eiffel Tower visited at night.

I am in Paris following a weekend of varied sightseeing and a little contemplation with some working. Visiting LynuxWorks today and hoping to do some work before returning to the UK tonight.


November’s first jcm update

Friday, November 12th, 2004

[ from the finally-it-gets-written dept. ]

Photos (from left to right): After-dinner Geocaching with the family in Prospect Park, An autumn walk along the South Bank (Thames, London), visiting friends in Nottingham, Redhat’s Michael Tiemann speaking at LinuxWorld Expo 2004.

In this issue…Laptop update, walking, travelling, LinuxWorld Expo 2004 and Wolves LUG, Geocaching, and more!

Once again, it’s been rather a while since the last update to this blog. Never mind, anyone suffering from withdrawl symptoms in the interim is strongly advised to consult a qualified physician about this issue. Soldiering on, I’ll attempt to give a rough and ready take on life at the moment and what I’m generally up to – as is the custom of blogging. Since I don’t seem to update this blog very often, I have toyed with the idea of running an announce mailing list for this site – in fact I’ll try it (subscribe here) and if anyone bothers to signup then I’ll announce blog updates there. Indeed, I’ve been doing some CGI development for an embedded box using only busybox and l33t sed scripting so I might indulge a little dynamicness on this site once again – perhaps even in sed, since it’s about as easy to use as perl, or something “nasty” like that :-) .

Since I last updated this blog, Carl and Susie have got married, we had the clocks change back, and it’s true to say that Autumn has well and truly come along now. It won’t be too long before my 23rd birthday – December 10th. I’ll be in Nottingham for dfb’s Christmas dinner – the first under the Digital Document Engineering renaming mantra. The group formerly known as Electronic Publishing. It’s funny, those years spent at Nottingham seem like such a long time ago already, and I am certainly trying to keep in touch with as many people as possible, but it is already evident that this is going to be difficult going forward.

Laptop Update

My laptop was repaired on behalf of John Lewis (since I had made a warrenty claim within the 2nd year of ownership, under the additional John Lewis extended warrenty, as mentioned in my last entry) and returned in about a week; I happened to be walking passed the store and it had just come back in at the time that I picked it up. In any case, the repair covered the issues I had had with the unit – everything from the right hinge to the DVD/CDROM drive and the asthetic damage to the paintwork on the metal palmrest. The system now has new casing and even a new battery – which actually gets 4 hours runtime, although it gets hot when charging.

The repair technician did follow the advice on one of the ten notices I had printed (directions for how to handle the unit – I stuck one to the laptop screen, one inside the laptop, and handed one over – the others were stuck in and around the laptop case, which they didn’t need) which stated I did NOT want System Restore run on the unit (of course it also displayed this in block capitals in yaboot if booted that way – just to be sure). As with friends of mine, they even returned it booting in to yaboot (I had previously switched it to Mac OS X). Of course, I cleaned out personal data files before it went off (including my GPG key) and restored those after it was returned. I didn’t want the hassle of restoring bits of the OS just for the sake of making it a bit easier for Apple authorised folk to swap my unit for another or something (the MAC matches the one it went off with and we know they didn’t swap it anyway).

Walking and travelling around

I’ve been walking a little, but nowhere near enough, and hope that the newly purchased GPS will assist me in getting more outdoor exercise during the winter months. I did recently walk along the Thames in Oxford and get stuck in a boggy marshland, after being a bit overadventurous as a result of my forary in to wearing boots (they really do rock – I’m wearing boots quite regularly now – whenever pratical and/or appropriate) and taking a town bike offroad. I also recently walked along the Southbank again, as well as the canal from Selly Oak to Birmingham when visiting Hannah and Joe Wrigley.

I’m going to Paris next weekend, with a friend from work. I’ve not been abroad in a couple of months but have some plans for early in the new year which I hope do actually happen. In February, there are plenty of geek events to go to, including: FOSDEM, GeekSki, and LinuxWorld Boston too. I would also like to pop in to Ontario to visit the fine folks at the Ottawa Linux User Group when next on that side of the Atlantic (and perhaps as a recourse to spending too long in the U$ – I’m sure it’s a nice place to visit but…). It’s interesting how many immigration requests Canada is rumoured to have had following the re-election of George W. Bookend. He managed to piss off the Chinese within a few weeks and bomb half the countries he didn’t like last time, I wonder what he’ll do next? There’s always China but he hasn’t deeply offended the Russians yet and we’re probably overdue for another Cold War (his dad would be very proud).

Working, writing et al.

Work is ok enough (takeover completion finally happened so I now work part time for a pretty large Plc.) at the moment and I’ve recently been doing some writing with Jono Bacon for an upcoming issue of the magazine. I’m also running a regular feature on Kernel Hacking and have just finished the second installment, for the next issue. I’ve also been doing some work on RoboDuck, having visited Gee Dee models in Nottingham last weekend to buy a rudder servo and some bits. I also found out about a popular online and offline model supplier – Robbe, where I can buy a Z drive prop and rudder assembly for power drive function.

I have reasonably recently been to Wolverhampton to meet up with Jono, and also visited Open Advantage West Midlands as a technical member of the press, to attend the PayThyme pre-release Open Source preview session. I popped in to Milton Keynes a couple of weeks ago, to visit Nexcom UK, where I reviewed one of their Blade servers (see upcoming magazine issue). I have also visited the Monta guys in Bracknell again. I had a conference call with various folks at

Monta a couple of weeks ago, and a longish chat with Victor Yodaiken of FSM Labs, at around that time. Both calls concerned the new Real-time work going in to the 2.6 Linux kernel and their different takes on it, as well as the release of RTLinux Pro 2.1. I did a feature on the RT stuff and plan a code walkthrough at some point – the latest patches by Ingo Molnar of RedHat are pretty interesting indeed.


I won a coffee hamper in Whittard as part of their Big Coffee morning charity event (I don’t recall who my local store were running the event in aid of now unfortunately). After I received a message on my voicemail to say I had won, it was some time before I listed to it, and even longer before I went to collect the sweet coffee goodness. However I did eventually get a hamper and 25 pounds worth of goods to go inside. This included a selection pack of 6 coffees, some cantuccini biscotti and an oversized mug with a text printed on the side reading “I’LL HAVE A DOUBLE DE-CAF NON-FAT LATTE MEDIUM FOAM DUSTED WITH THE FAINTEST WHISPER OF CINNAMON” (as one of the Monta folks likes to describe such drinks, it’s also perhaps known as a “why bother”). In other coffee news, Starbucks now have Ginerbread Latte’s again and I’ve switched to Caffe Nero as my preferred coffeehouse (whenever possible – despite the smoking, they’re seemingly less evil than Starbucks). I did buy a four pack of syrups from that certain American coffeehouse (including Gingerbread) and spent the best part of 30 quid in a Birmingham outlet during last Friday on wifi/coffee when finishing up an article, and am considering signing up to Surf and Sip for wireless (Caffe Nero wifi affiliate).

There’s a Wagamama opening in Reading soon, at the Oracle riverside, next to what might be an interesting new Italian place. I’m looking forward to popping in on a semi-regular basis for Japanese. I went looking for the Oracle microcache but haven’t managed to find it yet since it really is very well hidden (well it would be, given the busy area).

LinuxWorld Expo 2004 and Wolves LUG

October featured the LinuxWorld 2004 conference and Expo, at Kensington Olympia in West London. I went along to the show, mostly to meet up with friends and catch up with Jono and the
WolvesLUG folk. The magazine listed them as LUG of the month last month, and I enjoyed having a curry with the Wolverhampton folk, as well as meeting several of Joe’s workmates who are LUG members. The Expo was quite small this year and followed the trend of ever smaller and more reconciled events, filled with a few large players and a few smaller guys. The .org village was tucked away in the corner but I met up with a number of the people I had gone to see. Evidently every show must have its showgirls, and Novell had hired some girls who were not shy to extoll their skanty outfits (and at least one was wearing an obvious g string underneath). JD managed to get some phone numbers, I of course was beyond such tactics, electing instead to arrange something more official, but apparently they’re only in the business of providing software and services solutions. The SuSE/Novell people were quite fun in the pub afterwards too, though I think a certain person from Wolves regretted drunken activities a little on the next day. Twas fun, I saw David, Paul, Philippe, Justin, Alasdair, the usual gang.


I bought a GPS from a friend at work. It’s a Garmin 12XL 12 channel receiver which works reasonably well. Although this unit is not as small as the popular Etrex, it does have a few features which are missing from the cheaper models and the battery life is pretty good too. As usual, it never ceases to amaze me how new technology can be so fascinating for that initial period after purchase – I have pointless statistics on distances from home to most places I went soon after getting the GPS, and many other wonderful facts (like that work is 29.7 miles from my home). I’ve restrained myself from posting my current co-ordinates in an effort to avoid the ICBMs this evening.

Other stuff

Obviously other stuff happened. We had family fireworks a couple of weekend’s ago – Joe did them again, and did a good job (see photos). There were a few trick or treat visitors this year, who at least had taken some effort with face masks and costumes. I caught the end of the Forest Fields event in Nottingham last Friday night (literally arriving at the end by the time Jo and I had eaten), when I went to visit Robin and Beckie and jok. I found the Caffe Nero in Nottingham and confirmed that I can use Surf and Sip there too :-) . Also I decided to follow another friend’s recommendation on music, having had several good purchases recently – from an Ultimate collection of the Kinks to Euphoric techno music. I’m going to buy a Hoobastank album this weekend. I did also finally buy some bootcut jeans and warm jumpers as part of my winter collection 2004.