Imported From Epistula stories

The Tea Problem

This morning, a wormhole opened up in my tea cupboard.

When I say “This Morning”, I don’t actually mean “This Morning”,
obviously, it’s just that when I use the phrase “A wormhole willon haven
be opening up in my tea cupboard yestormorrow morning” people look at me
strangely, so I’m being forced to restrict my use of future pronouns
until such time as time resolves, or dissolves, or possibly revolves.

You see, I have recently moved into my new flat. It is a nice new flat,
with heating and lighting and also gravity, and it has fridges and
microwaves and shelving and books and jam and televisions and
alarm-clocks and beds and computers and cables and cds and beer and wine
and screws and allan keys and jumpers and candles and mannequins and
bags and coffee and hats and blankets and pillows and laptops and jam
(yes, more jam) and Christmas hats and headphones and boots and phones
and laundry bins. However, I have moved into this new one room flat from
a two bedroom terraced house, which also had a garage, and so have had
to resort to… unusual methods to place all the items that were once in
my house into my new flat. Partly, this was achieved by the use of Ikea
and gratuitous use of boxes, but this fell apart when faced with the
small issue of my tea collection.

I collect tea.

I also drink tea, by copious amounts, but I always seem to be buying
more tea at a rate faster than I can actually drink this tea. This is a
constant, so if I start buying less tea (as has happened since I moved
to Bedford, a place with – and say it quietly lest anyone hear you – no
real tea shops) I will find myself drinking less tea. Previously, this
was solved by devoting a shelf of a cupboard to tea, and then ruthlessly
throwing away tea I wasn’t drinking, but the new flat has little space
to devote to such frivolities, and so I was forced to get a portable
dimensional expander, which I sourced from eBay, knowing full well that
it was unlikely to be properly certified. the PDX arrived a couple of
days later (After being held by the post office, since they tried to
deliver it while I was at work). You may not have seen these devices, I
suppose, since they haven’t yet shipped officially from their native
Japan. basically, they take a limited space, and then by some means (and
here I’m somewhat at the mercy of my own poor translation of the
Japanese manual) reach into another theoretical dimension where the
container was built to a larger scale, and provide you with access to
that extra space. The further up you scale the space, the more unstable
it becomes. It’s revolutionising the cargo shipping industry, as you can
well imagine, although commercial use has yet to really catch on, as the
instability is difficult to insure against (If it fails, the entire
contents is probably lost in the one case, and replaced with something
entirely random in other cases, probably as a result of a “Switch” with
whatever the cupboard was being used for in this alternate dimension.
Theories, obviously, abound). Anyway, I installed it into a reasonably
useless shelf (The kitchen builder had apparently wanted a shelf four
inches high by twelve deep) and managed to stack my tea inside the now
archive-boxed sized opening. (Obviously, the front of the shelf was
still only four inches high, but it now was right before a large drop
that appeared to go right though the solid bottom shelf and end
halfway down the bread maker under the unit. A most weird sensation,
to be putting your hand though a shelf that patently isn’t there). And
so we went on for a couple of weeks.

This evening just after I’d got back from being home for the holidays, I
was packing away things when I discovered a box of boxes of tea that I’d
somehow missed last week, but as I was adding the last couple to the
extended shelf, something went wrong with the unit, and the shelf
collapsed. My arm, still trapped inside, stopped the unit from
collapsing cleanly, and a wormhole opened up in my kitchen cupboard.
After a great deal of effort I managed to pull my arm free of the hole,
only to discover that I’d gone back to some time mid last week. I
immediatly did what any self respecting geek would do after such a
traumatic experience: I went and talked about it on IRC for a while. It
was somewhat to my surprise that my doorbell rang a couple of hours
later with some representatives in black suits from… well, I don’t
suppose I’m actually allowed to say who they were from, but their
existence is interesting to say the least.

Anyway, after the kerfuffle of closing up the wormhole and documenting
it all, and Christmas and such it’s been a pretty hectic couple of weeks
around here, so I’m sorry to say that I didn’t realise that in this
revision of reality I hadn’t posted you all your christmas cards yet.
I’ll get round to it at some point soon, but sorry about that.

Yours Faithfully,


(Ten percent of this story is ninty-five percent true, fourteen percent
is sixty-five percent true, thirty-five percent is only five percent
true, and all the rest isn’t)

Fiction Imported From Epistula


Good Omens’ Crowley & Aziraphale’s New Years Resolutions

2005 Imported From Epistula

Merry Christmas

Okay, I’ve got three Lovefilm trial accounts (two months free trial of the Lovefilm online DVD rental service, worth about 25 each) to give away to the first three people who express an interest in them by commenting on this entry (LJ users, the website, not the LJ feed). Existing LF users can’t use them, otherwise I’d swap mine with my mums and get six months free 🙂

2005 Christmas Imported From Epistula Personal


Christmas, then.

  • Socks. It is traditional that people get socks for christmas, so therefore the fact that my stocking (Which is the same Snoopy stocking I’ve had for at least two decades now) socks in it, as well as chocolate, a clementine, and the first City of Heroes book.
  • CDs (Yay Music)
  • The entire first season of the Muppet Show on DVD
  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Season 2
  • Yet more chocolate (Yay grandparents)
  • A tumble dryer for the new flat (Okay, I got this a week ago, but it was still a christmas present. It’s good. On the one hand, it’s a tumble dryer and I need a tumble dryer because I can’t live my life drying clothes on the Cat5 strung up in the bathroom, if only because I’ll end up running experiments on how I can monitor the dryness of the clothes by the ping time across the wire. On the other hand, it’s so shockingly domestic I want to go hide under the duvet until the real world goes away again)
  • A combination kettle/liquidizer. Basically, it’s a machine that heats stuff as it mixes stuff, and therefore makes capachino quite well. Also domestic, but in a fun studenty way, rather than a distressing adulty way.

    My brother is one of the limited number of people in the universe to own an XBox 360 at the moment, and the fact that he doesn’t get to play on it until he visits his girlfriend after lunch is the kind of neato-cool torture that elder brothers enjoy more if they are the one causing it.

    Got the Wireless network working, for certain values of. I’m reminded how much I hate dealing with Wireless networking in Windows (Especially when you have the Windows Wireless Wizzard fighting for control against the card’s native software), and the fighting to find an encyption system that both the Windows machines and the Macs (My Powerbook and my mum’s brand new iMac) can talk. I did find one – WPA – but then the Netgear software started crashing on startup. Bastard thing.

    So, presents, check. Movies, check. Socks, check. Tech Support, check.

    Family Christmas. Check. Now to go watch the Muppet Show.

2005 Imported From Epistula

The, You know, Christmas thing.

May you all have a happy chri holida last few days of the year, and a fine and happy 2006, filled with health, wealth and happiness.

Except you, I’ll be getting your share.

Imported From Epistula linux PHP

PHP sessions in Debian Sarge

This is how debian Woody (and all sane systems) clean up PHP disk based (the default) sessions:

  1. Every x (default: 1000) requests, PHP will delete all outdated sessions.

    This is how Debian Sarge does it:

  2. Every half hour (at 9 and 39 past) run a script
  3. This script runs a second shell script that parses the PHP config file with a regex to get the value for how long sessions should last (Which is odd, because a PHP script will get this automatically)
  4. The first script will then find all session files older than that value
  1. Delete them.


    This is the kind of braindead overcomplication stuff I’d expect from Gentoo, but the whole point of Debian is that it’s /sane/.

Imported From Epistula Those who evolve

Corperate Shrill Mode

Okay, The folks that I work for are looking for a PHP developer/Sysadminny type person in order to do, you know, stuff. For money. It’s a decent company, so if you are – or know of anyone – looking for that kind of thing in Bedford-type area, you could do a lot worse than take a look at the advert thing

Here endath the shrillary.

Imported From Epistula Moving to Beford


So, I have moved all my crap out of Letchworth and into Bedford, filling one flat and one storage unit. There are photos of the great unpacking at flickr (I did promise my dad digital photos to prove I finished it 🙂

Oh, people have asked. The new flat is called “Fortress One” (Following from Geekhouse (Cambridge), Catrion Towers (Reading) and Casarufus (Letchworth). There are three reasons for the current one. The first is that it is possibly the exact opposite of whatever scale you put a fortress on except in regard to the second reason. The second reason is that it’s the first house I’ve ever lived in with a burglar alarm. The third is a self-pitying superman reference, which I’ll spare from those of you who don’t get it already.

I am reflatted, tomorrow I will cycle to work. Time to start again.

Imported From Epistula stories


It came in the morning, in the post like everything else, along with the bills and the statements and a magazine about something I don’t understand that I apparently asked for at a convention I didn’t go to.

I missed it, to start with, as it was under the CD I had been waiting for for months, but there it was, in a handwritten golden envelope with my name and address clearly marked.

“You are invited to celebrate our wedding, on September 9th in Camelot.”

It was signed “Art and Jenny” as they aways did, and there were instructions to get to the coach, and I wondered how I was going to get back from then.

As he went sliding down the corridor – and who had waxed the corridor that morning? – I heard him say a word, and I knew it was the key to the final door, and behind that I would find the numbers. Now, though, I was watching him flail ineffectivly as the corridor tipped him towards the stairs. I turned before he fell though the crack, and wondered if the house would kill me too.

I pushed, and the wall slid back at my touch. The walls either side extended smoothly, unpapered and unpainted, revealing windows that looked out over gardens that weren’t in Cambridge. I pushed at the walls between those windows and again the room extended outwards, the crisp summers day outside those windows pulling away as my touch extended the rooms width another dozen feet. It was only seconds it had taken to turn this closet into a room bigger than my entire old flat, and I wondered old the magic that created this house could be, and how much of it I could learn. The room, though, was too big, and I was going to have to find Cath to see how you pulled it back in again. In the meantime, though, I went to get another door from the garage. I wanted to explore that garden.

computing Imported From Epistula

Web in a nutshell

This is exactly how the World Wide Web works: the HTML files are the pithy description on the paper tape, and your Web browser is Ronald Reagan. The same is true of Graphical User Interfaces in general.

In The Beginning was the Command Line just in case you haven’t read it, or haven’t read it recently.