01/12/2003 @21:00:51 ^00:01:49

too bloody dark

the light outside my office window never switched off at all today it was miserable


Access to the campus unix network is without a doubt the one thing I missed the most since completing my degree*, so you understand why I posted that little outburst on Friday. I felt just like I did the previous weekend when I realised I'd fixed caco. I spent a fair part of the weekend setting stuff up, like ssh keys and bash init files (the third command I typed in was chsh /usr/local/bin/bash, fuck that tcsh shit I don't think I can even remember how to work it properly) The weird differences between Solaris and the GNU stuff upon which Linux distributions are based were at least partially rectified by the addition of /usr/local/gnu/bin into my PATH, but their ssh isn't OpenSSH and its setup was quite unfathomable, as least for a while. But things there have improved because back in the day I didn't even know what ssh was other than something the merits of which used to get advocated on newsgroups.

*I guess more precisely I missed the use of the machines in the Party Zone (unix lab), but owning a similar machine, I think the reduction in connection speed is more than compensated for by the fact that I'm in my own house. Indeed I always said the most perfect situation would be to have a magic door from my room to a corner of the lab, and this is about as close as can be.

the card printer had a few more tricks up its sleeve

Work last week was otherwise very dull. All it is now is checking scans for Student Records. The Finances people didn't give me any cheques or anything to enter. It was a conspicuous absence; I know there were payments to enter but other people did them. If I were a suspicious person I'd wonder if Finances had been told to stop stealing Records' temp so he can actually do what he's supposed to be doing!

Card production has been officially handed over to Reception. This means our office no longer takes money for replacements, hands them out, and in particular I don't print them any more. This is true in theory but occasionally some come through unofficial channels, and I get to do them. Fair enough, as I like the card printer now... except on Thursday it found a new type of wobbler to throw.

In fact it was more like the opposite. Usually when I say the printer threw a wobbler I mean it made a querulous beeping noise and popped up a box on the screen going "Waah, waah, I'm dirty, clean me" or "Gim-me a new-a ri-bbon or I'll break-a da legs." This time, I printed this one woman's card and it just froze. Having coded the card's microchip it got to the printing and just stopped.

Having extricated the newly ruined card I tried again with a different one, and the same thing happened. After that I stopped because blank cards aren't cheap! Also, by that time the card printer was refusing to even attempt to print anything. "Printer not responding", its status window happily reported. "Screw you", I reported back, "and screw the lifelong learning centre, or wherever in hell's bells from which these requests for cards are being sent." Yes even when I'm swearing at recalcitrant technology I will resolutely bend sentences to grammatical breaking point, rather than end them with a preposition.

The printer maintained its sulk for the rest of the week. Only today did it actually decide to respond to the computer's print requests, which allowed me to print all but one of my backlog of cards (over which, by now, the department were losing their patience) But this one woman's record from before was still refusing to work. I wasted two more blank cards before talking to the IT guy who said the printer doesn't like corrupted records, which this one must be, and that I should try rescanning the picture; if it wasn't that, the whole record would have to be reconstructed manually.

Happily, rescanning the picture solved the problem, and the final card was printed, a scant half hour before this guy braved the horrible weather to come all the way up to Senate House to find out where the hell his cards had got to.

"And that's the end of that chapter."

The email arrived at just past three on Saturday afternoon. After spending fully five minutes laughing at the petulant tone ("I'm going home, you'll never have to see me again ever, I hope you're happy!") and believing it was merely yet another in a recent spate of stupid emails, the "forever" part registered along with the suddenness of this new development and I realised that in spite of everything I wanted to say goodbye in person.

This conclusion completely violated the policy of total exclusion which I have had to follow these past months in order to avoid being consumed entirely by vicious rage and as such it unbalanced me. I spent a long time arguing with myself about the correct course of action, but in the end I always knew it needed to happen. Anyway things have been a lot better recently and I figured I could cope, I guess.

It was almost too late but fortunately I had something she wanted. Arrangements were able to be made which resulted in a meeting, which, despite being brief, went as well as anyone could reasonably expect. Better than you could expect, in the face of those past months. At the very least caco's leftover PCI modem, which would have otherwise rotted in an antistatic bag, may get some use in a new home.

As I watched the car disappear up the road, almost without conscious thought I enounced at embarrassing volume original Police Cops detective Homer Simpson's catchphrase. Coincidentally, the episode from which it originated was shown on BBC2 the very next day.