Greg
Greg's diary
November 2004
Translate this page
Select day in November 2004:
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30
Select month:
2004 May Jun Jul Aug
2004 Sep Oct Nov Dec
2005 Jan Feb Mar Apr
Today's diary entry
Diary index
About this diary
Previous month
Next month
Greg's home page
Greg's photos
Network link stats
Greg's other links
Copyright information
    
Groogle

Monday, 1 November 2004 Karlsruhe → Bad Honnef Images for 1 November 2004
Top of page
next day
last day

Off early this morning, in principle towards Aegidienburg in the Westerwald, where we were visiting Ute and Erwin Stiels, but since (as usual) we were close both to the Rhine and the French border, set off in that direction to fill up the tank (diesel is cheaper in France than in Germany). One thing I didn't reckon with was that there was no bridge over the Rhine, just a ferry:


This should be Rhine-ferry-1.jpeg.  Is it missing?

Image title: Rhine ferry 1          Dimensions:          2048 x 1536, 496 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 1 November 2004, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 1 November 2004, small
Diary entry for Monday, 1 November 2004 Complete exposure details

 

After waiting for 10 minutes, the ferry had just about managed to load somebody on the other side (who also had to wait far longer than made any sense), and it wasn't showing any intention of crossing, so set off back to Karlsruhe and along the Autobahn, more or less retracing our steps of a couple of weeks ago. Ute and Erwin live only a few kilometres from the Rhine, and the map showed a crossing at Linz (on Rhine, not Danube), so we headed for that—only to find that it was another ferry:


This should be Rhine-ferry-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?

Image title: Rhine ferry 2          Dimensions:          2048 x 1536, 368 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Monday, 1 November 2004, thumbnails          All images taken on Monday, 1 November 2004, small
Diary entry for Monday, 1 November 2004 Complete exposure details

 

This was just about finished loading, though, and we were across in less time than we waited for the other one. Another two Rhine crossings.

Spent the afternoon looking at various horses. Amusingly, Yvonne recognized one (she had had it offered for sale about 8 years ago), and knew the sire of a number of other ones. It's difficult to think that we live at the other end of the world.


Tuesday, 2 November 2004 Bad Honnef → Frankfurt → Schellnhausen → Kleinenbroich Images for 2 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

I've developed a bit of a sore throat, so off to the chemist's to look for some spray. Ute recommended a new product, Lokabiosol, and the chemist agreed that it was the thing to try. We'll see. Interesting was the name of the proprietor: Drüg.

Off then at a high speed towards Frankfurt. Despite the time of day (9 to 10 am) we made good progress. For the first time we were in an area we knew well, and we didn't need maps. First to visit Yvonne's sister Gabi, who still has my old grey mare “Nur al-Dahr”, and took some photos of her. Her mother “Nouira” died a year or two ago. Thought of riding Nur for a last time—it's unlikely that I'll ever see here again—but didn't have time.

Then back to the airport to leave a couple of bags: it will save us lugging them through the railway system. Frankfurt airport is a mess, and it showed well today:

  1. On the positive side, they have a 10 minute free parking area just before the departure area in terminal 2. Of course, since they haven't bothered to put up any signs, it's as good as empty. Just what we needed.

  2. In the terminal, couldn't find any signs to the left luggage area, and they don't seem to have any human information service. I asked a porter, who pointed vaguely to the other end of the terminal. In the middle I found one pointing to the departure gates. At the departure gates, I asked a border guard, who pointed back the way I came. Finally found it with a big sign “FIS” (whatever that means; it's certainly not “Gepäckaufbewahrung”). I had had to walk half way round the terminal because of the terrible sign posting.

  3. After that, looked for a toilet. I'm fairly confident that there are no signs pointing to the toilets in the terminal. Finally asked somebody at a checkin counter, but he was US military and didn't speak German. He asked a colleague, and they pointed to the entrance, where there is no toilet.

    After some searching, found that there are two toilets hidden at the rear of the terminal, one right next to the left luggage. For a world-class terminal, they're remarkably few: three urinals and three toilets on each side. In the one I went, two of the three urinals were out of order (photo), and all of the toilets were locked. During the time I was there, extended by having to wait to take the photo, none of the toilets became free, and it's reasonable to assume that they, too, were out of order or locked. What a terrible state of affairs!

After that off through Frankfurt to the Talhütte restaurant in Kalbach. It's amazing to see how things change. Went down the Mörfelder Landstraße, where I lived 32 years ago, and it seemed completely unchanged. I commented to Yvonne that in those days there was a Wienerwald restaurant (one of the original German fast food restaurants, now almost completely forgotten) round the corner, and wondered what was there now. We drove past: still Wienerwald. Nothing seems to have changed in that time.

Going through town, it was clear that things have changed a lot in the town centre, even since we left 7 years ago, and by the time we got to Kalbach we hardly recognized the place. The Talhütte is still there, though it's changed owners. They still knew the old Tandem mob, though, and gave me an update on what had happened. Seems that HP closed down the entire department.

Then out to Rosbach to look at our old house, which looks pretty much the same as before, then to see Peegee Whone, the last survivor of the HP fracas. He's been with Tandem^WCompaq^WHP for 27 years now, and it looks like he'll be there until he retires.

Finally to Schellnhausen, where we lived up to 7½ years ago, and took a look round there, paying a brief visit to our neighbour Mrs. Kaspar before returning to Neuss, again with good traffic conditions. What a day!


Wednesday, 3 November 2004 Kleinenbroich → Frankfurt → London →
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Spent most of the morning preparing for our return journey, which included getting hold of a cargo bag from Michael and going into town to buy yet more things, notably bedclothes. European-style bedclothes are both extremely expensive and limited in style in Australia, and we saved something like 80% of the price.

Then off by train to Frankfurt, where the problems started. Our flight to London was with British Airways, who refused to acknowledge the higher baggage allowance that I'm allowed as a Qantas frequent flyer, and who wanted a total of € 230 excess baggage for the flight from Frankfurt to London alone. Hastily thought of a couple of alternatives, and put what proved to be about 17 kg of books into plastic bags to carry on board. Then back to the checkin counter, where they had in the meantime discovered

  1. I did indeed have the right to a higher baggage allowance, and

  2. The flight was about to close, and they'd have all hell to pay (well, much more money than we were talking about for excess baggage) if it were delayed.

So they let us on after all, checked through to Singapore.

Before leaving, had a chance to check the sorry condition of the toilets yesterday. The toilet I had been in yesterday had not been repaired, and I was able to confirm my suspicions that one of the toilet cubicles was locked without anybody inside. I looked at the other one and found a similar condition. While leaving the latter one, bumped into a “cleaner” who had come in to sign the log slip (without even looking inside; this was at about 17:40, for the unlikely event that anybody from Frankfurt Airport is interested) and asked him when the problems would be repaired. He didn't seem to speak much German, and the concept seemed incomprehensible.

Summary: Frankfurt Airport Terminal 2 has exactly 6 urinals on the ground floor. Of these, 4 are unserviceable, and they're in no hurry to fix it. I'm left wondering whether this is deliberate.

Three years ago I complained about the quality of the club lounges in Heathrow. Since then they appear to have redesigned, making them worse still. There's still a choice of wine and beer, but the only snacks you can get are potato crisps and similar.

On to the plane, which was full to the gunwales, and in poor condition to boot. They weren't able to screen the safety video, and it took them three attempts to get their act together and do it manually. The switches for the lights round our seats were non-functional, as were the call buttons for the stewardesses (though I'd doubt that the latter would have made much difference). Reported the problem three times before asking (by chance) the purser what was happening. She first claimed that she hadn't heard of any problems (her problem), then said “Ah yes, but I thought it was limited to 35B” (my seat). I wasn't the only person complaining, but I was the most vociferous. Finally she managed to get the lights turned off, a stopgap solution at the best. As if that wasn't bad enough, the seat in front of Yvonne was defective and kept leaning back. If such obvious problems exist, and the cabin crew are so disinterested, it makes you wonder what the condition of essential safety systems is.

People make jokes about British food, and it seems that British Airways is going along with the joke. It would be difficult to say that the food on board was the worst I have ever had on an intercontinental flight: in general, airline food has improved beyond recognition since the 1960s, when I flew from Kuala Lumpur to London and back, coincidentally with BOAC, one of the predecessors of British Airways. But it was certainly the worst I have had in a long time: “bangers and mash” are not exactly what I would expect on an international flight, and the rest of the food seemed more appropriate for a fast food chain than anything serious. This flight was sold code-share with Qantas; in future I'll have to look more carefully at the operating company.


Thursday, 4 November 2004 → Singapore Images for 4 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Woken for breakfast round 16:20, only 90 minutes before landing, for which BA are to be commended: most airlines wake you at least 3 hours before. Of course, it was only a hot bread roll and an undefined cream (“Corner fruit“), so it went fast.

Finally arrived in Singapore and to the Hotel Broadway in Little India. I seem to spend most of my time in Little India anyway, so it seems to be a good idea. I didn't know what to expect of the hotel, which was good. It's clean, and the air conditioner works, but maybe next time I'll pay a little more money.

Lim Kim Yong came along in the evening and took us to an Irish pub in East Coast Road, where a number of his friends had come to meet me. Interesting discussion, but Yvonne started fading, so didn't make too long a night of it.


Friday, 5 November 2004 Singapore →
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

In seach of Nasi Lemak
Topic: general, food and drink Link here

Up a little earlier than prudent and down to the food court on the corner of Sungei Road and Serangoon Road where I had found good Nasi Lemak the last time I was in Singapore. I wasn't so successful this time: the place was closed, so we had a second-rate coffee and went back to Mohammed Mustafa Samsuddin looking with some success for baggage. Back to the hotel to repack yesterday's hastily produced bags of books, then down again to Sungei Road to look for Nasi Lemak, but at 10:30 am it still wasn't open, so I gave up. For such a popular dish, it's surprisingly difficult to find.


A new camera
Topic: photography Link here

Finished up with more shopping and then down to Lau Pa Sat food court to meet up with the people from last night again, after which to Sim Lim Square to buy a Ricoh Caplio R1 digital camera, which had caught my eye because of the wide angle zoom (equivalent to a 28-135 mm range on a 35 mm camera) and its fast reactions (only 50 ms claimed delay on the shutter release). Found a surprising amount of dishonesty amongst the merchants: after I had agreed a price and gone to get the cash (they charge more for credit cards), my chosen merchant told me that the accessories were not included, and asked if I would like them. Got quite annoyed, but still appear to have got a good price.


New kitchen extractor hood
Topic: food and drink Link here

Then back to Mohammed Mustafa Samsuddin: they had a very interesting looking kitchen extractor hood on offer, and after some consideration we decided that it would be worthwhile to have a couple shipped to Adelaide. Arranging that took forever (more searching for ATMs, amongst other things), and I didn't get back to the hotel until 1730, slightly the wetter for rain, and just in time to go to the airport.


Taxi problems
Topic: general Link here

I've complained in the past about the difficulty of getting a taxi in Singapore when it's raining, but this was worse than anything I've seen. After an hour we finally called a van and arrived at the airport 100 minutes after trying to leave (normal time would be about 20). After that, however, things went smoothly, and we left in another full plane headed for Melbourne.


Saturday, 6 November 2004 → Melbourne → Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Got as much sleep as possible on such a short flight (only 6½ hours). Qantas are also getting the message about not waking people too long before landing. Back home by shortly after 9 am, and spent the rest of the day doing little apart from sporadic unpacking. It's good to be home.


Sunday, 7 November 2004 Echunga Images for 7 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Catch-up mode
Topic: general Link here

Spent most of the day trying to catch up with things that had accumulated while we were away, without much success. Hardly made a dent on the number of mail messages, though I got through a large number of mail messages that required more attention.


Playing with the new camera
Topic: photography, technology Link here

Also spent some time playing with my new Ricoh Caplio R1 digital camera. It has some nice features, but USB support doesn't seem to be one of them. It seems that most digital cameras automatically appear as a SCSI device, but this one just shows:

ugen0: Ricoh Company Ltd.  Caplio R1/RZ1, rev 1.10/0.00, addr 2

Installed gphoto2, yet another badly documented multimedia program, and finally concluded that it couldn't access the camera either; looking at the code, it looks as if I'll have to modify it to at least recognize the correct USB IDs.

Things looked better with the USB SD card reader that I had also bought (thanks to Joe Karthauser for the info):

da0 at umass-sim0 bus 0 target 0 lun 0
da0: <Generic USB SD Reader 2.00> Removable Direct Access SCSI-0 device
da0: 1.000MB/s transfers
da0: 121MB (248320 512 byte sectors: 64H 32S/T 121C)

I was able to mount the card and read the images in almost exactly the same way as for the Nikon CoolPix 880 that it replaces. The results are interesting: the colours are better, of course the resolution is a little higher, and the zoom range is much better.

Also tried the “movie” mode, which is in proprietary AVI format. mplayer should be able to handle that, but it seems to drop the last few seconds of the data. Since that was all I recorded, there's little to show. I must investigate alternatives.


Monday, 8 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Back to work after the best part of a month. What joy! It wasn't made any easier by the backlog that I had failed to clean up over the weekend, but managed to make a start on the work I had left lying.


Tuesday, 9 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Gradually things are getting back to normal, and I'm back to work documenting the stuff I've done in the last few months. It was painful before I left, but now it's getting easier. I wish I could find something better than pic for drawing diagrams.


Wednesday, 10 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More documentation today. It's difficult to document something that's still not complete; I found things like function names Monkey_open and Monkey_close (with lower-case initial letters) and other functions like Monkey_Read and Monkey_Write (upper case). Do you document that or fix it? In this case, it was easier to fix it, but it leaves me wondering to what extent I should be documenting something that isn't cast in concrete.


Thursday, 11 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Still more work on documentation. Why does it take such a long time?


Friday, 12 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Somehow I'm not making the progress I want. Yes, I'm creating more documentation (at a snail's pace), but it's somehow unsatisfying. Still, documentation for this sort of software is important, as I found in April of this year, so it's probably worth the trouble. Also took the trouble to update my groff macros, which are now deviating noticeably (and, hopefully, positively) from the original .mm macros. That will come in handy in a number of places.


Saturday, 13 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Another whole day spent brewing beer! There must be an easier way. At least I should find a way to brew larger quantities, so I won't have to do it so often.


Sunday, 14 November 2004 Echunga Images for 14 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Somehow the last week has been more tiring than it looks. Didn't do much today apart from a certain amount of tidying up. battunga needed a new Ethernet card; for some reason, all the dc0 cards I have cause problems. The driver writers say that it's the cards (and the fact that things have been getting worse tends to confirm this), but I wonder if it's as clear cut as that.

I used to read several magazines. Nowadays it's only c't, and even that is keeping me so busy that I'm a couple of issues behind. Where does the time go?


Monday, 15 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Things are getting monotonous. I'm finally getting past my structural problems with my documentation, and the formatting macros are making more sense, but I still don't have much to show for my time. Time to get back to some real work.


Tuesday, 16 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Enough documentation! I've got to do some real work. There's no point documenting stuff that may never see the light of day because it gets implemented differently. Time to set up ARLA and play around with it a bit.

While in Germany I bought a copy on CD-ROM of “Das deutsche Wörterbuch”, by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. It's an interesting contrast to the Oxford English Dictionary for a large number of reasons:

All that sounds very promising, but there are a couple of down sides.

The real issue I had, though, was simpler. Greek words were being represented incorrectly. After some examination, this was related to fonts. The program is very talkative. For every reference, it prints lots of stuff on the controlling terminal. It looks like debugging output to me:

$w ins insert "Tatian" {s1 }
$w ins insert " 85, 4) " {s2 }
$w ins insert "erklärt sich durch übergang der adjectiven stellung in substantive und durch häufigen gebrauch des wortes, ebenso die im mhd.  schon theilweise erfolgte kürzung des stammvocals.  schwierigkeit macht nur das verhältnis der ags.  und altnord.  wortformen" {s1 }
$w ins insert " hearra, herra, " {s2 }
$w ins insert "die sich nur dann in beziehung zur oberdeutschen bringen lassen, wenn man annimmt, dasz die letztere als titel für höhergestellte sich nach norden zu ausbreitete und in die genannten dialecte als lehnwort eindrang, eine annahme für die manches spricht." {s1 }

The very first one is of a different nature, though:

=== grog@wantadilla (/dev/ttyp3) /home/Texts/DWB 2./DWB
xset:  bad font path element (#93), possible causes are:
    Directory does not exist or has wrong permissions
    Directory missing fonts.dir
    Incorrect font server address or syntax

I don't suppose you can blame the software for inadequacies in xset's error messages, but it took me a session with ktrace to find that the program is letting xset loose on a subdirectory of supplied TrueType fonts without a fonts.dir directory (so at least the error message was correct, if vague).

Today I finally got round to installing TrueType fonts, with some help from an article by Jim Weeks on on Dan Langille's site. Installed Xfstt with no trouble and then discovered that I had to move all the fonts to the TrueType font directory (/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/TrueType), since xfstt doesn't seem to handle more than one directory.

Things weren't helped by not reading the instructions properly: clearly the font paths needed to be updated to include the TrueType font directory (/usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/TrueType), and that's in /etc/XF86Config (or wherever it might be; lately I've been looking for the location of the config file in /var/log/Xorg.0.log). As a result, I updated /etc/XF86Config to include the font path, stopped the server and tried to restart it. For some reason it couldn't reinitialize the second display card, so I had to reboot. And that caused a panic, a trap holding Giant. Only after rebooting did I read the man page for xfstt and discover that xset has an option to update the font path without stopping the server:

xset fp+ unix/:7101

All seems to work well now, but it's not clear how the font server is supposed to get opened at boot time.


Wednesday, 17 November 2004 Echunga Images for 17 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

As intended yesterday, finally got down to looking at ARLA. One of the big problems was finding documentation; there are plenty of documents about how to set up NFS, for example, but I didn't find anything similar for AFS, so started a separate page on the subject. It's not intended to be a “how to set up AFS” tutorial, but it will give me something to look at, and maybe it'll be of use to others as well.


Thursday, 18 November 2004 Echunga Images for 18 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Up in the middle of the night for another meeting of the ICT Council of South Australia (previously called the IT council; I discovered at the meeting that the last meeting agreed to change the name). This was the first meeting of the new board, and we spent a lot of time deciding on direction. One good thing: we've agreed to hold meetings at 3 pm instead of 8:30 am from now on. That should make things a lot easier, and also ensure that the meeting doesn't completely waste the day, like it did today.

After that off to Marion to find some cheap second-hand monitors:


This should be computer-junk-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?

Image title: computer junk 2          Dimensions:          2304 x 1728, 512 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 18 November 2004, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 18 November 2004, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 18 November 2004 Complete exposure details

 

The monitors were $5 a piece, and claimed 1024x768 resolution, which I haven't had a chance to check. There are lots of them; it's amazing how quickly things go out of fashion. All seem to be newer than the right-hand Eizo monitor on my desktop.


Friday, 19 November 2004 Echunga Images for 19 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

One of these days where I got nothing done. I really wanted to get back to the work I was doing with ARLA earlier in the week, but little things got in the way, and I got nothing done. One of the real problems has been recovering my telephone setup: in August I had signed up with a telephone company that had promised me 30% savings off my Telstra bills with no other strings attached. What I actually got was something completely different and somewhat more expensive. This fraud has caused me several hours of work, and the company in question doesn't want to recognize any responsibility. I'm still hoping that they'll compensate me for it, so I'm currently not publishing the name of the company. They're certainly causing me a lot of pain, though.


Saturday, 20 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Somehow I still haven't got back to normal after getting back from Europe; I've been tired all the time. Today was the day I made up for it: I slept for 12 hours, got up late and went to bed early. About the only thing I did during the day was to bottle some beer. My stocks are now getting back to a more reasonable level.


Sunday, 21 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Another day spent mainly brewing. Things aren't quite as hectic as they have been, but I still need to find a way to use less time per unit volume. Also spent some time working on AUUGN, which will hopefully be out on time this quarter.


Monday, 22 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Back to work today. Rather to my surprise, somebody else at work came up with a proposal rather similar to what I've been working on, so spent a lot of time analysing that. Looks like he can benefit from my work, so I'm back to documenting after all.

Getting my phones reconnected is a real pain. Telstra have a “cheap” plan (HomeLine™ Budget, only $18.50 per month, much less than the going rate of $27 to $30, but much more expensive than the $11.65 that we paid 7 years ago. Why are phone rates going up in Australia?). Applying for it seems to be a problem. On Friday, a consultant called Hamish promised to send me the application forms, but nothing happened. Today I spoke with Lea, and by the evening nothing had arrived. I'm getting the feeling that Telstra wants to discourage this option.


Tuesday, 23 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More trouble with telephone companies today. My promised faxes hadn't arrived, and I spent 45 minutes on the phone with four different people before I finally had confirmation that they would not send me the application forms for the service I wanted. I'm coming very much to the conclusion that Telstra has the HomeLine™ Budget program only to satisfy some legal requirement, and that they'll do anything to stop you actually get it. Ended up doing an online application which refused to accept my details: it insisted on things like street number, street and suburb, all of which I don't have. In the end faked the numbers and followed up with a fax. What a pain!

Made more progress on my documentation, somewhat punctuated by more suggestions from other people in the company. Amusingly, once again they're proposing something that Monkey could do 12 years ago.


Wednesday, 24 November 2004 Echunga Images for 24 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

My problems with AAPT have come to a head. Having heard nothing from them since Friday, I sent a complaint to the Australian Telecom Industry Ombudsman. The copy I faxed to AAPT was the last time the line worked: despite Rick's assurances that nothing would be disconnected until the end of the week, they disconnected the line. I was forced to pay the entire amount to have my line reconnected. Yet another reason to refuse to have anything to do with verbal commitments on the phone. Hopefully the TIO will pay some attention to this state of affairs, but it's looking like I'll have to sue them.

Work is heating up too. Spent a lot of time with mail messages and talks on the phone. Looks like Monkey will be used earlier than expected.


Thursday, 25 November 2004 Echunga → Sydney Images for 25 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Confused day today: more email discussions and more work on the documentation. Things are taking shape, but once again I made less progress than I had hoped.

Off to Sydney in the afternoon. Flying is becoming less and less pleasant: planes seem to be more cramped than ever before, maybe because the are almost always full. Food is also getting worse: today we got a packet of almonds and a packet of cheese sticks:


This should be qantas-food.jpeg.  Is it missing?

Image title: qantas food          Dimensions:          2304 x 1728, 416 kB
Make a single page with this image Hide this image
Make this image a thumbnail Make thumbnails of all images on this page
Make this image small again Display small version of all images on this page
All images taken on Thursday, 25 November 2004, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 25 November 2004, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 25 November 2004 Complete exposure details

 

To add injury to insult, it was stuck together with tape which attacked and damaged the magazine I was reading. Things are going downhill. Paradoxically, there were free drinks (beer and wine), but the overall impression is negative.

In the evening to Bar Broadway to meet some of the BSD people in Sydney. Pleasant evening, but why are all these places so loud?


Friday, 26 November 2004 Sydney → Echunga Images for 26 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

AUUG board meeting today. After my comments about the last one, Steve Landers asked me not to mention specifics. I decided not to change the policy I had decided on, not to mention specifics.

In the evening—yet again—to the Bar Broadway with the Victorian contingent. It was even louder than last night.

Back home and again got offered “food” that I couldn't be bothered to eat. Qantas seems to think it appropriate to serve no real food on 2 hours flights. I fear we're looking at American conditions; under those circumstances, I don't see why I should remain a member of their frequent flyer programme.


Saturday, 27 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

AUUGN time again, and there's plenty to do. Spent most of the day editing articles. Thanks to Warren Toomey, I now have a copy of the Lions Book, and I note that the version published on USENET 10 years ago has very different markup, so I spent some time fixing that. It's difficult to guess how John would have set it if he had been using troff instead of nroff, but hopefully I'm not too far from the mark.

Trying a new web browser again today. I had discovered a web site for the Le trésor de la langue française, unfortunately with really broken HTML. Due to the lack of character encoding data, it would at random display all accents as ?, making it almost illegible. That's not really netscape's fault, of course, but I thought I should set a default character encoding. After hearing great things about firefox, decided to install it.

People say that firefox is a small, fast browser. The source tree was 430 MB, about the same as for the entire FreeBSD operating system, and it took a couple of hours to compile. By comparison, Emacs, once the benchmark of bloatware, is done almost instantaneously, in less than two minutes. When firefox was done, all my Emacs key bindings were gone and had been replaced with something Microsoft-like. Nobody I knew seemed to know how to reenable them; it seems that people don't use editors any more.

No, this isn't a vi/Emacs rant. It's a question of being able to use any kind of editing commands beyond Backspace without taking your hands off the keyboard. This seems so basic to me that it shouldn't be removed without a very good reason (not stated) or at least as an option.

Spent some time looking for how to reenable the keys. You'd expect that it would be possible via the Preferences menu, but it seems that all browsers nowadays expect to run under other bloatware like GNOME and KDE. Is this really the way software should be evolving?

Finally found the answer with google. I had to create a file ~/gtkrc-2.0 and add the following entry:

gtk-key-theme-name = "Emacs"

Not a big deal in the end; what surprises me is that nobody seems to care any more. Is this a sign of growing illiteracy?

Another new development that everybody except me seems to love is “tabbed browsing”. This is an attempt on the part of individual programs to take over the job of a window manager, and to ensure that you don't see more than one window at a time. This baffles me: it seems to be so much the opposite of what anybody would want. I'm still trying to understand some advantage in the concept. Is it maybe because window managers are becoming too complicated, or that the reliance on the use of a mouse has made it inconvenient? Spent some time trying to find a way to disable the feature, finally finding a plugin that completely disables tabbed browsing. Surprises weren't over, though. I couldn't download the plugin: I had to let the remote site install it. What kind of security model is that?


Sunday, 28 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Spent most of the day working on AUUGN; it's more work than it should be. Got most of it done, though.

firefox is an enigma. Turns out that I can't just install flash on it (Macromedia claims it can't find anything for my platform; maybe I need to find a way to pretend to be a Linux system), and for some reason I see the same rendition problems that I've already seen on Opera and Microsoft “Internet Explorer”: the lines are far too far apart in relation to the (relatively large) font. By contrast, Netscape gets it right. This time I didn't find any knobs to twiddle, and when I discussed it online, the general feeling was “that's the way things are nowadays”. Do we have to throw out long-established best practices in the name of ”progress”?


Monday, 29 November 2004 Echunga Images for 29 November 2004
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

Still trying to finish my documentation, not made easier by the number of work-related mail messages I've had to answer. We're having a meeting on Wednesday; hopefully that will clarify things a bit.


Tuesday, 30 November 2004 Echunga
Top of page
previous day
next day
last day

More work on documentation, and got on to comparison between different approaches, which proved to be very revealing. Still lots of work, but at least I now have the feeling that I'm achieving something.


Top of page Previous month Greg's home page Today's diary entry Next month Greg's photos Copyright information

Valid XHTML 1.0!

$Id: diary-nov2004.php,v 1.48 2015/10/29 23:50:28 grog Exp $