Oil, rust, sand and concrete dust, everything here is covered in at least one of the four. It’s day three, we’re ranging, and everything’s looking pretty good. Of course, now that I’ve said that… best not to think about it, really. My poor sick PC is suffering from having to breathe its own exhaust in an enclosed rack, but as that’s an unchangable part of the ineffable design, we just have to work around it. Current suspicions lie with a loose heat-sink, and I suspect thermal paste will be involved before the day is out.

On which note, how does one remove thermal paste from a CPU? Ethanol! What’s banned in Saudi Arabia? Ethanol! I forsee sub-optimal solutions.


Tension. The room reeks of acetone, my alcohol-free cleaning solution of choice, and rags are caked with thick white thermal paste. It’s what they use in America (and thus in Saudi Arabia) apparently – I was rather expecting a clear fluid in a tube, not something more like Polyfilla. But nonetheless, it’s done.

The computer is up and running, temperature graphs scrolling slowly across the display. 30 degrees. 35. How hot will it get; have I fixed this problem, or just spent fifteen minutes undoing someone’s reasonable work and replacing it with my own shoddy attempt? Stabilising at about 40. Door back on the cabinet. The moment of truth.

The hour of truth, as it turns out. A full 60 minutes before the temperature stabilised, at 55-70 degrees. Within the limit – just. My nerves are well and truly whacked, but I have triumphed. Hardware, you now officially join Software on the list titled “My Bitches”.


The beast known as “Drama” is a strange and multi-faceted one. It rears its head wherever insular groups form, whether intentionally created or whether people are thrown together by circumstance. At school, at University, and of course, here. Except here it’s not relationship drama, because virtually everyone’s married, it’s just comedy drama – everyone’s been at it far too long, and everyone’s just immune to each other by now. There’s nothing quite like getting fifty Brits, building a wall around them and making them live with each other for fifteen years. It’s like Big Brother would be if it was much longer, there was no chance of achieving celebrity status, and Davina McCall sat out the front with a 50-cal. (Yeah, I can’t see that ending well either.)

Tonight I drank lager, watched a football match, and actually started to care about said football match. Somehow, six thousand miles away from home in a place hacked out from the desert, I’ve become more stereotypically British than I ever am back in Britain. Do not fear, however, for I returned early from the pub in order to blog. So I’m still me, it would appear!