Please look after this geek

Sep 3, 2006 / 0 comments

I have been abandoned. Just over a week ago Kathy was offered a job at the University of Ulster, in particular on their Coleraine campus. She starts tomorrow (they wanted her to start last Friday) as a Lecturer in English, so yesterday she flew back to Northern Ireland. Leaving me in Norwich (well, actually I was in Cambridge, but I'm back in Norwich now and will be continuing to live here).

We've done the long distance relationship thing before, while at university. It wasn't particularly fun and I'm not really looking forward to doing it again, but her contract is only for 9 months and as such it doesn't make sense to have a massive upheaval for what's a relatively short period of time. If she gets extended then we'll need to rethink, but at present that doesn't look that likely given that it's maternity leave cover.

One thing is that I'm a bit worried I'm going to become very strange. Working from home will mean I'll not see anyone during the working day and there won't be anyone else around in the evening. I'm going to need to make more of an effort to seek out human contact otherwise I'll turn into an odd hermit. Especially given the fact I've a whole bunch of tech toys to play with (more on which later).

Overall I'm very glad Kathy's got a job; it may be in a bloody inconvenient location, but she was understandably getting a bit down about the lack of English lecturing jobs that are out there. Hopefully now she's had one the next will be easier to get hold of...

New toy! (What to do with it?)

Aug 31, 2006 / 0 comments

I went wedding list creating in John Lewis yesterday. It was fun for about 5 minutes and then the novelty of a Palm with a barcode reader wore off. They'd told me to be careful where I pointed it, so I didn't get to see just how good the range was. :(

During the lengthy process a Hauppauge MediaMVP caught my eye (it's a hardware MPEG2 decoder with SCART socket, ethernet and remote control - the idea being you stream content to it from your PC and watch it on the TV), reduced from £79.99 to £39.99. I'd considered buying one of these in the past, so I took a closer look. And discovered one marked down to £25.00 at the back. Took it to the checkout to confirm the price, got told it was right, and bought it.

I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with it just yet. :) I've already got a hardware MPEG2 decoder on the DVB card hooked up to the TV, though the MVP is a fanless device and might make a better choice than the living room PC. mvpmc is a potential option, and there's a plugin for VDR as well.

Or there's just the prod it and see what I can make it do approach. It's an IBM PowerPC 405 with 32MB RAM (though only 16M for the OS it seems) and an SMC 91C111 ethernet chip. The interesting bit of the MPEG2 decoder has no source which is a pain though. :( Still. Fun toy! \o/

Bank Holiday weekend

Aug 29, 2006 / 0 comments

The weekend started off with a visit from Simon - we'd begun to get more and more grumpy with each other which is usually a sign we actually need to meet up. A trip to the Fat Cat and laughing at VH1's "Top 100 Dance floor fillers" seemed to put us in a better mood.

We then headed off on Saturday to Cambridge for Steve's annual Debian UK related BBQ. I took some photos though Dave took many more. There were loads of people this year - it's amazing how many people Steve's house/garden can fit! As we've come to expect it was a fine weekend with plenty of food, drink and chat. Thanks Steve!

Monday was mostly spent invading Dave and Becca for the purposes of constructing wedding invitations. They look fab! Just a few little bits to finish before getting round to sending them out.

And now today's been a virtual Monday and I think it's almost time to stop...

Hair cut

Aug 23, 2006 / 0 comments

I haven't had my hair cut professionally in about 5 years. I figured it might be an idea to do so before the wedding, but also needed to do so long enough in advance so that if there was an issue I had time for it to grow out. So I finally did so yesterday, and ended up with something that doesn't look a lot different to what I had. Which is good as far as I'm concerned. :)

Anyway, it finally prodded me into creating a Hackergotchi:


Everything Old is New Again.

Aug 22, 2006 / 0 comments

My laptop HDD was unhappy. SMART was complaining about 2 uncorrectable sector errors and they were in the middle of swap so resuming from suspend sometimes didn't work. I formatted round the problem to begin with, as I didn't really want to lose my laptop for the week I knew it would probably take. However the fear that it was an indication of impending doom made me finally ring Toshiba last week.

After lots of fun (trying to explain that smartctl was reporting a Read Failure from the drives own testing, that I was running Linux and asking if they had a diagnostic disk (it's a Toshiba drive, but people like Maxtor and Western Digital have boot iso images you can download to confirm a drive is faulty before RMAing it), being told that I'd have to reinstall Windows, pointing out that the machine had no removable drives and the Windows recovery disk was a DVD and I had no USB DVD drive, asking them to send me a USB DVD drive if they wanted me to reinstall Windows) they finally agreed to take the laptop back on the condition that if there was no fault I'd have to pay the default investigation fee of £35.25. This was better than having to spend time trying to figure out how to get Windows back on the thing, so I accepted.

Next day I get a phone call asking if they can replace the drive. Well, yes, that's what I expected you to do. Seems they have to check anyway.

I'm not quite sure what they did with it for the next 3 working days. Testing it perhaps. Anyway, I got it back yesterday with a new HDD (and they hadn't even bothered to install anything on it, which I wasn't complaining about).

When I first got the laptop I installed it in a slightly sick manner. This time I thought I'd be more traditional and try the recently released Etch Beta 3 Debian installer. It's based on a 2.6.16 kernel which has the appropriate sky2 driver for the ethernet, so installation was hassle free (modulo apt-cacher playing up and not being happy about serving up files that I think had expired the cache). I'd wanted to try the graphical install to see what it's like, but I believe that's only available on CD images so I couldn't.

On the apt-cacher thing, anyone seen a similar issue? I track unstable on my desktop which tends to mean it has the packages already when they migrate to testing. However I think it's hitting a problem when it's expired a package from the cache and then needs it again. I don't actually have any firm evidence for that yet; need to do some further investigation and file a bug report I suppose.

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