I asked about my problem with my sound card in the weekly ALUG IRC meeting and they managed to get me listening to tunes within about 10 minutes. All I needed to do was disable my onboard sound properly in the BIOS and about two commands in a shell and I had surround sound!

I saw this in a forum on Gnutella.com and thought it was fantastic:

Subject: the matrix has the answer
Date: September 8, 2002 @ 5:15 AM
I wrote this when i was downloading a song and had nothing better to do. i thought it was kinda funny. you won’t understand it if you hav’nt seen the matrix.

Scene 1
I dont know who struck first, us or them, but I know it was us that skorched the sky. throughout human history mankind has relied on the copyright laws to protect thier busineses. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.

the RIAA gain a substantial amount of money each year for their efforts to wipe out the abuse of copyright. combined with a form of brain washing. the RIAA had found all the money they would ever need.

Scene 2

firts of all you must remember, do not try and bend the copyright laws, instead, only try to realise the truth, there are no copyright laws. its just something the RIAA have in they’re heads.

the RIAA, what are they?

twats. they can move in and out of any software still hard-wired to “their” system. this means that anyone who spams, is potentially an RIAA agent. we have survived by swearing at them and hacking them, but they are the gate-keepers, they are guarding all the laws and they are holding all the keys, this means that one day, someone will have to fight them.


i wont lie to you gnutella, almost every music provider who has prevaled against the RIAA, everyone who has fought them has been taken off the web. but where they have failed, you will succeed.


i’v seen the RIAA send a guy to Jail, men have written entire books on the subject and affected nothing but paper. but the fact remains that the RIAA is based in a world which is built on laws. because of that they will never, ever, beat you.


Over the past couple of days I’ve been playing with Linux more, in particular Knoppix. I managed to get it to dual boot with Windows XP at school which was great.

I’ve now dual booted my main PC at home with a Knoppix hard disk install and Windows XP. At the moment I’m getting very frustrated with not being able to get my sound card to work under Linux. I must have spent about 10 hours talking on IRC, searching google, fumbling around in a Konsole and just generally not getting anywhere, while a fresh installation of Windows XP that I haven’t even touched is producing all sorts of sounds with zero configuration… it’s not like I even have obscure hardware. It’s a sound blaster card for goodness sake! Only the most popular sound cards, in the world! I think it’s about time I went to a LUG meeting to find out what I’m doing wrong.

ADSL arrived, and after a long time configuring the router with no instruction manual and a “quick start guide” for the wrong firmware version I finally got connected. It’s fast 🙂

The RIAA announced that it will be sueing a few hundred potential customers for up to £90,000 each over the next few months for offering copyrighted music over Kazaa, instead of actually adopting P2P technology to make money, which I guess makes sense. Not. Isn’t it about time music artists starting ditching these idiots and sold their albums online for a fraction of the price but actually get the profit themselves?


The Bourne Festival was CRAZY. An amazing atmosphere though, finally got to dance a bit towards the end and went a bit wild. Our pictures in the papers were funny, they got Wez’s name wrong, again! I really do enjoy live events, really made me wonder for a while whether I really want a career sitting behind a desk for the rest of my life!

Working from 10:30 in the morning until gone midnight for several days really tired me out, but was well worth it!

There were talks about going to University at school this evening. Although at the end of the day I really like my school, there are a large number of things about it I don’t like.

Next wednesday night I get on a train to Norwich where I will probably end up sleeping on a pavement for the night knowing J, then for the UEA open day – the fifth and final University open day I have planned for now. It’s all mad. I guess now is the first time I’ve ever really felt free to make a serious decision by myself. Do I take a gap year and get a job? Do I go to Uni, or do I get a busking license and find a cheap flat somewhere? Do I want to travel? What do I really want from life. Well I don’t mind saying that I don’t have the foggiest what I want from life yet, and I don’t believe I should know yet either.

I found out tonight that a very very close relative of mine who I haven’t seen for a while is actually getting married, and being basically the same age as me it kind of scared me a bit. Not sure why, but it just made me think.

Too much going on to think about at the moment, and I’m already feeling behind in maths which is NOT good. I think I need a break.

ADSL router should arrive tomorrow, woohoo!


Today was a geek day.

Two new Dell servers arrived for school, each running at 4.8Ghz (dual processors) with 1Gb of RAM and space for 3Gb! Inside the beasts very much resemble the view underneath the bonnet of a sports car, with an array of fans and heat sinks and a setup that looks, and sounds, very much like an exhaust. They also come with removable hard disks (just click and pull) and removable power supply (the same) as standard and boy do they make a nice sound! I’m plotting to install Linux on them when Mr C isn’t looking.

Earlier in the day the Head of Music suddenly said that the Head had given the go ahead to get the cabling and a new PA in time for the next MADD evening. This is all very well but arranging it all in the next couple of weeks is verging on impossible, especially with the quotes I’m being given. Still, if they really want to give me thousands of pounds to spend on geek stuff, who am I to complain?

Talking of sound systems, Wez and I were left alone with a 17 Kilowatt sound system, a 32 channel mixing desk, about 30 barrels of beer and a CD Player today in the middle of a field for two and a half hours! Seriously, they left us with a radio which, it turned out, had nobody on the other end and disappeared. We were also left to set the lighting up for the show which was a bit of a surprise.

A policeman arrived to discuss the event with the organisers and someone piped up “Are you a real Policeman?” to which I replied “No, he’s probably in fancy dress”, which I regretted afterwards, especially when the policeman replied “Easy, tiger!”. Another interesting quote today was in maths, Mike: “My dad works in software” Mr Stonelake: “When you say software, what do you mean exactly”. Don’t worry, he’s retiring this year.

Maths wasn’t too bad today, I’m determined to keep on top of it. But I must sleep tonight as I was in a bit of trouble for having a lay in instead of going to school for a double free period this morning…

I’m currently struggling to decide on a project to work on for my Computing coursework next year. Everyone keeps trying to persuade me that I shouldn’t use PHP and mySQL but should use Access and VB instead. Every bone in my body is yelling “NOOOO!” but I don’t know. There are plenty of easy options, but I’m worried I’d get bored with them. Oh and my hard disk arrived, mmm


That’s it, exams over, a weekend, two days off and we’re back at school starting study for our A2s. We’ve not even been eased back in, full on work all day.

Actually I say two days off, but one of the days was spent in school playing with computers and 8 hours tidying up back stage. Can not BELIEVE what year 9 stage crew get up to when we’re not there. They took the initiate to paint the back wall white and cover up the Wizard of Oz painting… and at the same time covering the £3000 stage flooring with white paint and getting it all over the black curtains. Some interesting wiring dangling all over the place, I didn’t dare go near the amp with power turned on. Me and Wez tidied everywhere but the paint is there to stay, for now at least.

Got a quote tonight for the cabling for the school hall, I’m concerned that the head’s not going to be keen on me spending another two grand of the school’s constantly shrinking funds, but we’ll see. Which reminds me, Mr C has ordered two new dual processor (P4s) Dell Servers that are going to be oh so nice! Oh and the head of maths has asked me to do a web site, again.

Once me and Wez left our first day back at school we went down the local park to meet up with the sound engineer for Bourne’s beer festival this year where the marquees had just been put up (I walked, he went by car, I beat him there). We ended up spending four and a half hours unloading a lorry and setting up sound equipment.

It was a lot of fun, partly due to the free beer on tap that had just been connected! I also now have a stewards T-shirt which entitles me to lots of free food over the weekend! It’s going to be a LONG weekend doing the sound for the festival with continuous music for two and a half days, then Nottingham University Open Day the following Monday. I’m beginning to think Wez is following me around…

Being back at school is a bit surreal to be honest and Maths is already driving me mad! Wez things I’m crazy carrying on Maths next year, but I’m trying to convince myself that it’s a good idea. Sis has started her exams and is plotting methods of suicide using stationary, which is more than verging on worrying. Gunna miss her so much when she goes off to Uni.

My brother has a cute little optical mouse he got from dabs for about £7 and I’ve ordered an 80Gb hard disk for my mp3 collection to overflow onto and to set up dual boot between Linux and Windows. Also, as if we haven’t been spending enough money we don’t have in our house, getting a new bathroom and decorating the lounge for the first time in about 30 years, we’ve ordered ADSL. The chosen ISP after much debate is Plusnet, although Virgin Net came in close second due to no connection fee and a 1 month only contract. So very soon the hippygeek will be enjoying broadband and no 2 hourly disconnections! Yey!

Operation BGSTux is coming on, if a little slowly, and we’ll soon have a whole lab of Linux boxes at school running mainly Knoppix, mmm. My interest in “free” software and the GNU Public License has grown greatly over the past few weeks because of discussions with members of two local Linux Users’ Groups but my choice of University course is getting harder and harder. I’m also seriously considering taking a year out and getting some work experience, which is something else to think about. I’ve talked to the (acting) Head Teacher and Head of Maths about carrying on maths next year, and even if I get a U, which seems quite likely, they think I should definitely try and do it next year. I know I’m capable of getting a decent grade if I just get another chance next year but, it’s just… hmph.

I finished Life, the Universe and Everything for the second time last night and am being driven slightly mad by not understanding why Arthur Dent’s bag keeps changing all the way through the book! Also, I keep getting the feeling I’m missing something really deep in the story, but it’s probably the late Douglas Adams having a laugh at my expense.

Anyway, must go to bed, have to get back into the rhythm of this whole school thing and I need a good nights sleep.


Today, I flunked my pure maths AS. When I say flunk I mean I failed it, quite spectacularly, I estimate around the 7% mark. But hey, it’s an exam, and it’s an exam I can re-take next year, and I WILL NOT BE BEATEN!

Of course it didn’t help that the fire alarm went off half way through the exam and we all had to stand outside for a quarter of an hour in complete silence. Apparently we should get “special considerations” – oh good, so that means I get 8% instead then does it?

Some day before 31-05-03

And so the madness has begun. Started with a period of 48 hours at the beginning of last week. 20 pages of coursework, 1 exam, cumulated 2 and half hours of sleep and a blood to caffeine ratio of 40 to 60. Wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

And then the first maths exam, looks like there are re-takes on the cards for next year. Hmph. Oh the joys of modular qualifications.

The only thing that keeps me sane during this period of inhuman fetes of cramming and caffeine consumption is Douglas Adams, Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect along with plotting ways to make monstrously rich companies lose money.

Plan One. Introduce Open Source to school. You wouldn’t believe how much Microsoft charge for educational licences for their software. I wondered, just how much could a school save on IT costs by using a FREE (as in beer) operating system? And what benefits would there be of using FREE (as in speech) software? At least by the time students leave school they won’t have been turned into a Microsoft Drone who think Internet Explorer is the internet and you press “Start” to shut down your computer, because that’s just the way it is.

When the Doict* showed a distinct interest in trying something new on a few PII 233 boxes that will soon be surplus at school I wrote a spur of the moment email. The email was sent in the direction of the Open Source Community in the form of two local Linux Users’ Groups’ mailing lists (ALUG and PLUG) and outlined the idea of introducing Linux to school and asked for advice on how to go about it. Within literally a few minutes the replies started flooding in. Advice on which distros to try, what to expect from the system and how to plan the project and implement it in such a way that would be compatible with the existing Microsoft based infrastructure of the school network. Even offers of phone support and weekends given up to help set it up! It shouldn’t be this easy, should it?

And so the proverbial ball is rolling and the IT Annexe at the epicentre of the school is set to become a Microsoft Free Zone. The My Computer icons and office assistants are set to be replaced by a sprinkling of red hats and lots and lots of penguins!

Plan Two. This is the naughty one. In the blue corner we have the monopolising British communications company. In the red corner the bargain hunting consumer who quite likes the idea of accessing the internet without redialling every few minutes and having all their friends listen to an engaged tone trying to get through, and at a speed that less resembles a tortoise on a treadmill.

OK, so this is how it goes. Someone buys broadband from the telecom company in the form of a shiny new “Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line” for a ridiculous sum of money. Then what? Well we have this great thing called Wi-Fi which allows networking without wires, and its set for a revamp in a month or so when we get a pressie from the IEEE, the 802.11g standard.

So what are we going to do with it? Well we’re going to use it to share our new broadband internet connection with the next door neighbours and split the cost. What a nice thing to do, caring and sharing. If they like the idea, perhaps the neighbour’s neighbours would like to stick up a wireless access point and chip in. You get the idea… same contention issues, fraction of the price. (I told you it was naughty didn’t I?)

The disadvantages are obvious. Too many people catch onto the idea and BT “has to” put the wholesale price up a notch, or worse still starts suing its own customers. And there’s always the problem of deciding whether the teenager sitting on your back lawn with a laptop is there to look at the pond or whether he is taking advantage of a free internet connection and sniffing a few of your data packets on their way to your online banking account.

OK OK, I’m going back to my revision.