My life, part 3, 1998-2005

This is part three of my autobiography so far. Part one is here. Two is here.


So, just before I went to secondary school (age 12+) for the first time, we went to a covie camp. This was important for one main reason. During one of the sermons, we were shown a film, and whilst watching, I had an moment of absolute clarity, and total conviction. Christianity is true, there is a God, and he does love me. You know, typing that will never not be strange.

I broke down crying. I remember that moment as if it were an hour ago. I became a Christian. So, in a weird sort of way, my parent’s divorce kinda led me to converting to Christianity.

About year two or three of secondary school, I started going to visit the school counsellor. I remember nothing of those visits, only that they were helpful. During that time, I shunned friends, and mainly stayed in the school libary during my free time, or read books. I used books as an escape, leaving this world for different ones, preferring anything strange or different. I stripped through crime, fantasy and science fiction books rapidly. I also volunteered to help in the school library, putting books away, keeping it tidy and neat.

At some point, the school counsellor left, and a new one arrived. I didn’t gel with the new counsellor at all, and so didn’t go back. That would be my last counselling session for quite some time. Time passed.

At some point during this time, I felt snubbed by the librarian, a silly thing, I felt I’d been passed over for some additional responsibility. Additionally, I had a very brief ‘girlfriend’ and a relationship that I wouldn’t really engage at all with. That also led to an embarassing suituation a little while later, which I won’t repeat, which helped solidify my intent to remain a bachelor for some time, and would be the only time I briefly had a girlfriend, or any sort of significant other, to date.

Watching the solar eclipse at a covie camp

Watching the solar eclipse at a covie camp

I switched from volunteering at the school libary, to helping out in the school IT suite, spending any spare time playing with the computers. I was the source of at least two spates of communication tools getting around the IT department’s lockouts to prevent them, since I just continually played with the sandbox I was given. For those geeks, at this point we were running windows XP. I however didn’t keep my mouth shut about the ways to talk to other pcs, and they spread like wildfire around the school, till they were locked down.

That was the first point I really got interested in computers.

During all this time, we had an… interesting contact schedule. Dad got us 2 and a half weekends out of every 4, and a weekday evening. We were with mum the rest of the time. Dad was at this point working for Kleeneze, delivering catelogs and taking orders. Since mum and dad didn’t really get on, or talk that much at all, we had basically different responsibilities and rules at each place. To an extent, we just got used to it. Mum and dad took turns to have us christmas, with the other parent having us over new year.

New year 2000, the milienium, I was at a relatively boring party at my church. I never did really get the whole new year thing, and to this day I still don’t.

Eventually, I did A-levels. I am the proud bearer of 2 A levels in vocational Information Comunication Technology, or in other words, how to use Microsoft Word. I only got a C in that, mainly because I was bored out of my mind, and the spec was just a bit mad. We did get taught some useful snippets though, I learnt basic binary and database normalisation. That was also the first time I created a website.

Next up, my first job.. To Be Continued…

My life, part 2, 1995-1999

This is the second part of my autobiography write-up. If you’ve not read this before, start here.

For James, mainly, I’ve put way more emotional information in here, and stuff about how the divorce affected me, and continues to affect me, than I planned. So, if you’re a potential (or current) employer reading this, know I’ve gotten past all of this, and I’m working really hard to heal the scars my childhood left me. This isn’t really for you, it’s for him.

Dad reminded me of something that happened during the divorce. We were playing in the garden with some of my cousins, in fact on this climbing frame dad had got us:

A couple of my cousins. The one on the far right is the one in the story that follows.

A couple of my cousins. The one on the far right is the one in the story that follows.

Let’s call her Terri. We were all playing on the frame, and she was hanging like a monkey, from the very top. However, she got stuck, couldn’t find a purchase, or climb off, and her hand was slipping. I got to the top, and grabbed onto her hand, hard, wouldn’t let it slip, and shouted for the others to go get help. Help came, no-one was hurt, although I might have hurt her hand not letting it slip!

Terri went on to become an *awesome* climber, and is in fact still the strongest climber of the lot of us, so no harm done.

baby, children, and dogs

Baby me, with Nanny’s dogs, and some related family on Dad’s side.

Moving on! Mum and Dad both changed churches (we’re a christian family), related to the divorce. Mum eventually remarried. Dad’s church had a ‘covie camp’, basically a load of us went off with loads of other kids, and we did fun stuff, like go to a Gladiators TV filming, swimming pools and other really awesome things. It was a christian camp, so every night there’d be a sermon and other things going on. As we didn’t have much money at all, neither mum nor dad, church members paid for us to go, something I’ll always be grateful for.

I guess, if we go offtopic for a second, this is may be an affect of divorce some people don’t realise. Both mum and dad were spending most of their resources trying to bring us up, and give us a good place to stay whilst we were staying with each other. Divorce splits assets, and everyone has to spend more.

Throughout this period, mum leaned on me more than she should have, and I had a constant want for my parents to get back together. I knew, in my head, that it was impossible, but in my heart I just wanted it like it was before. Looking back, what I really wanted was what I had thought of as a safe place, a safe and stable time before everything changed. I also had a constant want to help my dad, I knew he was unhappy, and wanted to help, but couldn’t do anything. Also, I felt responsible for Garreth, my little brother, though we fought and argued just like most young children. This responsibility would imprint on me, to the point that to an extent I still feel responsible for him, and try to look out for him, when he’s with me.

Left to right, Garreth, Mum, myself, and a baby B (cousin). Oh, and you can also see my Uncle C's arm on the left.

Left to right, Garreth, Mum, myself, and a baby B (cousin). Oh, and you can also see my Uncle C’s arm on the left.

During this period, I had real trouble handling my emotions, loosing control of them now and again. I was basically bottling everything up inside me, till it exploded. The explosions would be anger, and would blow up physically; it would be rare that I wouldn’t damage something or hurt somebody. After an explosion I’d be wracked with intense and overwhelming guilt and sadness.

During one of these instances, in Junior school, I remember I got into a fight with someone in the playground, and hurt them. I was called into the head-teachers office, and she basically said that there were other kids who were in worse suituations, I should just deal with it. Looking back, I’m just a little angry at that, all it did was make me internalise it all, and try to bottle it more. Just what I needed.

These spates continued till I was about 13, I eventually hurt a kid quite badly at school, to the point he was hospitalised and had a few stiches, as I’d trapped his thumb in a door. The secondary school of course reacted, but not how you’d think. I was put on a grade of emotional monitoring, having to meet with my tutor and set goals. The teachers also kept an eye on me to an extent. At that point I basically remapped the ‘fight’ explosion instinct to a ‘flight’ instinct, something that would stick with me, to the point if I have a anxiety attack for any reason now, or get into any sort of conflict suituation, I’ll run.

One last thing that was left in me during this period, was the following:

argument == conflict == threat == RUN (== being Equal To)

The covie camps we went to as kids were really fun, and eventually would go on to have a *massive* impact in my life, again changing me. But, I’ll talk about that in the next part: To Be Continued.

My Life, part 1, 1987-1996

A friend asked me to tell him about my life, some of the stuff I’ve gone through. I’m a bit nervous about putting it online, since there’s security implications, and I totally don’t want to sound narcissistic. I’ve changed some facts, and not put some in for aforementioned security reasons. This is of course from my point of view, and has my bias, and will be text, lots and lots of text.

So, if you’re sitting comfortably, I shall begin.

I was born in 1987, in a snowy city overseas, in a British Military Hospital, as dad was an army nurse. This has made life a little more interesting than normal, as technically, I’m not English, Welsh, Scottish or (Northen) Irish, but British. My place of birth always makes official people raise an eyebrow. My brother (Garreth) was born around 19 months after me, in a standard english hospital.

From left to right, Mum, Nanny, me, Great Grandma (dads side), Dad.

From left to right, Mum, Nanny, me, Great Grandma (dads side, shortly before she passed away) and Dad.

My first memory was, amusingly, swimming with a plastic lifebelt around me, in a hot sunny cyprus, quite young, thinking “I won’t remember this”.

I have broken and scattered memories of my childhood until my late teens really. If I dig really hard I can pull out more fragments, but not many. Quite a lot of my early history I mainly know through childhood photos, and the stories my parents told me.

Dad was posted to Cyprus a couple of times, we went with him and mum when we were quite young, pre-school age. A couple of funny stories I’ve been told; there’s a photo somewhere of me *just* as I bite into a lemon. My face says it all, EWWWW! I did go on to love the taste of lemons and sour things though, so something imprinted πŸ˜‰

kirrus holding onto mobility scooter

Holding onto Nanny’s mobility scooter

Another story, one time myself and Garreth somehow managed to climb up and grab dad’s car keys from a key hook on a wall. We then managed to open the car, and successfully start the engine. Bear in mind, this was whilst we were in cyprus, so only 5 or so at the time πŸ˜‰

Myself and my brother in cyprus, covered in washing up foam

Myself and Garreth (in that order), in Cyprus

Dad left the army, relatively soon after we started school, he and mum didn’t want us to grow up as army kids, and he didn’t really fit into the army, from what he told us. Mum at this point was also apparently quite unhappy.

At age 8, my parents started divorcing, a process that took a few years. I have a few visible memories during this period, of a social worker asking us who we wanted to live with, and mum coming home one day, and telling us it was over. I also remember one or two fights between my parents, and suspect I heard/saw far more that were supressed.

The most powerful memory I have during that period, was clinging onto my dad, as he was dropping me off in the school playground, not wanting to ever let go, not wanting to leave him, at the start of a Junior school day. I would have been around 8 or 9 at this point. They somehow managed to get me separated, dad left, and me into a quiet office. I fought, hard, wriggling whilst someone held me, trying to calm me. Eventually someone said ‘Johnathon, you hurt me!’, and instantly I calmed. I never wanted to hurt anyone, ever, I just wanted to be with Dad.

That divorce would go on to shape me, to an extent I’m only now realising.

Part 2

grub-probe: error: no such disk

Ran into this one today, on a debian squeeze box:

/usr/sbin/grub-probe: error: no such disk.

It actually was telling the truth, the disks listed in /boot/grub/ were wrong. Replaced /dev/disk/by-id/serial-of-drive with /dev/sda. Worked.

Whilst researching this problem, I did run into a similar debian bug, but it wasn’t relevant. In case you’re interested, it’s about LVM drives, and it’s here:

Mythubuntu 12.04 and Radeon 9200

Hi all, I was having trouble installing Mythubuntu 12.04 on an old PC I had lying around.
Mythubuntu is based on Ubuntu 12.04 so if you’re struggling with the ATI Radeon 9200 on there these steps should help.

(Since I have a Hauppuage Nova-T 500 dual freeview pci card from old projects, and a 2tb drive from new ones, I wanted to see about recording some films!)

Basically, when booting it would come up with a garbled, black or blank screen.

If this happens during the livecd boot, preventing you from installing, when you see the logo:

Logo that appears when first booting ubuntu from livecd.

Logo that appears when first booting ubuntu from livecd.

Hit enter, and F6 for other options, select nomodeset, hit enter to enable then Escape and enter to boot.
If operating from a laptop, you might want to try noapic too.


In the latest grub setup – grub 2 – the boot menu is hidden, making it near impossible to access.
Might make it look pretty but is major frustrating for troubleshooting!
The script /boot/grub/grub.cfg it uses is supposed to boot in textmode if it has failed to boot, but this does not work.

The fix:

Note: you can login, type

sudo su

and then skip typing sudo with every command below (it gets quite annoying I know!)

  1. To access the grub bootmenu, hold down shift – after all your pc’s bios and add-on cards bios screens have disappeared and until it pops up – it takes a while to appear!
  2. To access the console – textmode, insert the word text and remove ‘splash quiet’ from the kernel options,
    also insert the word nomodeset
    then press F10 or Ctrl-C to boot with the new settings.
  3. Connect to the internet, if using Wired connection you may need to connect (hopefully you connected ok during the install)

    sudo nmcli -p con up id “Wired connection 1”

    If that doesn’t work check your wireless connections names with and edit the above command appropriately

    nmcli con

  4. Install xserver-xorg-video-ati

    sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-ati

    (don’t freak out when you see ‘Removing Mythubuntu-desktop’ it seems to come right in the end.

  5. Create a new link for the X server
    (Not sure why this breaks after the upgrade but it won’t work without this step!!)

    sudo ln /usr/bin/Xorg /usr/bin/X

  6. Edit the default bootmenu script
    Add nomodeset to the default grub bootmenu

    sudo nano /etc/default/grub.cfg

    Change this line near the top:

    #”quiet splash”

    The # tells it to ignore this bit, it’s a backup so that we can make it quiet again later. You’ll notice text streaming by as the system boots instead of the cute (Myth) Ubuntu …. logo

    Ctrl-X to exit, type s and Return to save

  7. Update grub

    sudo update-grub

  8. Reboot and Revel in the shinyness

    sudo reboot

I actually ran this command to to start the windows manager, (and I haven’t tried rebooting yet, shhh)

sudo start lightdm

If you have any extra trouble, comment below, check the ubuntu forums and google.
I managed to work this out on my own as I couldn’t find the answer!


I also created a script to set the resolution of lightdm at boot, following the guide here:
LightDM Resolution

This did not work as when I started lightdm, the resolution was set higher than I’d set in lightdm, so I don’t think this was part of the fix.
Thankfully it was within my monitors capabilities. I think I set the output name wrong.
I need to figure out the display outputs are available but couldn’t query it from the command line without x running, which seems kinda silly.

Hope this has been helpful!

Cook Me.

This is on my list of things to cook. Soon. Posting it here so I have *no* excuse. Instructions from a friend:

Visi: you should make the roast squash!
Visi: chop them in half, scrap out the seeds, score it with a grid, rub butter in, coat in salt and pepper and roast
Visi: put a lil bit of curry powder on near the end
Kirrus: temperature?
Visi: 180 I guess
Visi: whatever temperature you want!
Visi: takes a while but when you can shove a fork through it it’s done
Visi: *easily