Sunday, August 29, 2004

Midsomer Norton South train station

Took the kids to the "Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust" - currently consisting of Midsomer Norton South train station and a few hundred yards of relaid track. See these pictures I googled for.

It was the open-weekend and the little ones went on a small (8 inch track?) electric train, that they had laid over the main line. We also rode the footplate of the 1970 diesel engine they have there (they have no other working trains yet) which even though it was a diesel was still pretty schweet.

Along with the usual train paraphenalia (books, videos, and Thomas-related stuff for the children) there were displays about the local wildlife and the Somerset Coal Canal. Old rolling stock was being repaired, refreshments were available, and the children enjoyed the bouncy castle. An Austin A30 sat outside in beautiful condition.

The new "woodland walk" was officially opened: this is a lovely small wood just downhill of the station. The actual new path is very short, but leads you out to the fields beyond, running alongside the old trackbed. There were a fair few birds hopping and flying about in the wood, which made it feel alive.

We all had a great time and I'm looking forward to next year to see how far they've got on.

If you're local and like the idea of a nice amenity for families, or would like to see steam trains in MSN again: why not become a member?

P.S. I am not a trainspotter. I just like trains, history and nature.

P.P.S. When I was younger, MSN always stood for Midsomer Norton, nothing to with the other MSN...

Proprietary software shock

I can't believe it, you can't believe it, no one can. However, it is painfully true: I've been using Hello to upload pictures to my blog. Moreover, I've been using Picasa to manage my pictures. They both only run on Windows! I have truly sold my soul to the dark side. They are both closed source.

The real reason this all started is because my camera-phone (a Nokia 7250) only talks to Windows. If you can write a decent Linux interface, be my guest.

While the dodgy "cheap" non-Nokia software + cable I have works, it ain't pretty. "Hello" also isn't the nicest piece of software in the world - it's a bit limited. (I edit the posts afterwards). Picasa, however is sweet - a really nice program, that feels nice to use. OK, so one could put all it's core functionality inside Nautilus (with symlinks) - that's not the point. It's eye-candylicious and a joy to use. Beat that, HIG-obsessed, open-source software.

Plus Hello and Picasa are now owned by google (blogspot's owner) and are free (as in beer). Which blogspot also is. Ethics, schmethics - I'm a hypocrite and I and don't care.

Friday, August 27, 2004

A picture of tom

That Akasa fan in full, in action on the side of tom. You can just see where I scratched the case in this murky jpeg.

Posted by Hello

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Recommended GDM Theme: Saki

Just a quick note to say that I love the GDM theme known as Saki. It looks really nice, compact and kewl (except on my work PC, e082, which uses huge fonts for GDM and RHGB - anyone know a fix?)

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


OK, obviously I never use IE when I'm forced to use Windows, I always use Firefox.

I followed the excellent work of the Fire*/Phoenix group since 0.1, downloading each release/milestone, until I discovered Galeon and later Epiphany.

I love Epiphany - it's simple, GNOME HIG compliant (which is a good thing), but I've switched to Firefox (at work, at least) for some simple reasons: Firefox looks and feels like a fully feldged GNOME application (apart from the icons); Adblock, Sage, other plug-ins; identical interface to the browser I use in XP (damn, I mentioned it)!

Oh, and I love the Firefox icon/branding. Very cute. (By Hicks Design, who seem to have a good eye for design - kudos to them).

Link farm:

  1. Mozilla Europe Firefox page
  2. Firefox site
  3. Switch to Firefox
  4. Take back the web


Cruising blogs and Sun's blogging site and you see mentions of OpenSolaris - the open source version of Solaris. So it lives, it breathes, it even has a name...

Also (back to Solaris 10, which still excites me) see the top 20 exciting things in Solaris 10. Kewl.

Solaris 10: truss

truss with thread support - thank you Sun!

One thing that is fucking difficult is trussing a multithreaded program (not that I expect it to help any with BIND, which seems to work by magic ;-). So thanks Sun for this.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

xfs, ACPI, SiS 745, bloggers, ni[ck]*

So I fixed the underlying cause of my problems by looking at this non-bug on the kernel bugzilla; now my machine powers off properly. A suggestion from Nicolas Brouard.

I had to run xfs_repair against / (/dev/hda7) on tom (from the FC2 rescue CD - loving the new for download speeds) to completely fix it.

Thanks to Nik Borton for pointing me at one direction for a possible cause. I love blogging and I love bloggers.

Hmmm, a 'nic', another 'Nicolas' and a 'Nik'. A whole world of ni[ck]*s.

xfs, power, kernel 2.6.8-1.520 and /etc/fstab

Curious one this. Debbie powered tom (my main machine) off a bit hastily earlier (thank you Fedora for not understanding ACPI on my motherboard properly, even though Mandrake did) and I managed to lose /etc/fstab. Not nice. What was it doing open for writing at shutdown time?

Well, I think I may have got a little bit of filesystem corruption (heaven help me) as other things have been acting strange (wvdial and xcdroast - not the most reliable parts of the system anyway...).

Fingers crossed people.

Monday, August 16, 2004 and Fedora Core 2

Two things:

  1. The ever lovely Richard Mant got mirroring correctly onto late last night. Cheers Rich. Big virtual (and real) love and hugs to you for that.
  2. New settings for /etc/sysconfig/rhn/sources : change as follows
    #yum fedora-core-2$ARCH/os/
    #yum updates-released-fc2$ARCH/

    yum fedora-core-2$ARCH/os
    yum updates-released-fc2$ARCH

Ta-da. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 12, 2004


I've just converted all my accounts (which I've been doing by hand for years) to be in GnuCash. Along with 2 months of receipts (and everything else) it only took 3 and a half hours. I'm really impressed - this has got to be one of the best pieces of Free Software that there is.

Just like Novell/Ximian Evolution (unless your using 1.5) it's a GTK 1.2 app, which means it doesn't look as good (or share libs with other apps) but apart from that - no complaints. Simple, easy to use (once you grasp double-entry), sane - how many other Free apps are that good?

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

M-x yow

(XEmacs joke for the unitiated).

I feel like I've been punched very hard in the face. I had my front teeth dealt with today. Or rather, I had my middle two top teeth taken down and moulded for crowns, another played with and buit up to (near) its original height and a final one smoothed off to mirror the height of that one.

Now my dentist is very good; I didn't feel a thing at the time. However, an hour or so after and yow - that hurt! It's starting to hurt less now, so I know it'll be alright tomorrow, but that has got to be one of the worst pains I've had in my life (without involving a hospital or a third party).

Monday, August 09, 2004

New home

So I bought a domain at last. Now I've just got to move in. I'm not going to copy over the old uklinux web site. I want the new look I've been promising myself for a year or so. Watch this space for updates...

My next computer 2

Previously in the world of nic (blog edition), I wrote that my next machine would be badged (if they still do) as the equivalent of a "6300".

That kind of assumed that I'd need a desktop machine. But if broadband ever makes it out here, I won't need a fixed machine connected to the modem - an ADSL router, a touch of WiFi and shazam, no fixed computer desk any more. (I'm using my laptop wirelessly at the moment to write this, but my main machine is dialed up (bit of ssh action) and acting as a router).

So, I was thinking about replacing my main machine with a new laptop... At the moment, assuming Fedora Core compatibility, I'm thinking about perhaps an Acer Ferarri 3200 (Mobile AMD 64 2800 based + ATI graphics) or Apple Powerbook G4 (1.5GHz 15" or 17" - no need for Linux! except maybe YDL for pointless fun) or some Sony or even HP thing. It'll probably never leave the house so a 17" monster won't be too bad.

Now I just need to find the money... One advantage desktops have is that they're a heck of a lot cheaper and not everything needs to be upgraded at once.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

I am not alone

At the weekend I went to a CLIC funded conference, called the 1st annual UK Survivors' Group meeting. Other countries have had these things before and globally, all groups like CLIC can talk to each other about how such events are co-ordinated through the ICCCPO.

Anyhow, enough of the shameless link-farming.

What was weird for me, was meeting other "survivors" (that appears to be the term used, although it sounds like we were in a 'plane crash). I've never met one before, and meeting 20-30 in one go was amazing. The other "survivors" were such lovely people and I mean that. What was really weird was that I seemed to just click with them all. The common bond we all shared meant that we seemed to be able to understand each other at some subliminal level.

I have made many new friends and a new understanding of myself. I am not alone; there are other people like me.