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November's Journal
January's Journal

[14:00] I'll not bother to fil you in on what I've been doing because a) it's none of your business and, b) you don't care anyway. Suffice to say I've travelled a lot, got a load of good books to read, plenty of chocolate and a small amount of recovery. I'm in today to check all the machines before I do something tomorrow. Then I have to go fix someone's machine which I 'broke' installing SP5 on December 23. After that I'm free and clear to set up the new year party at my landlord's house. If you're (un)lucky I'll take the digital camera long. As it is he's asked for one of the LCD projectors (no can do) and some lengths of cat5 (sure thing). We're setting up a small LAN for games.

Anyway, must dash and do things. I'm pissed off with cron at the moment as it seems to have just stopped running my webstats program (analog) for no good reason). I checked /etc/crontab and the line I'd put in ages ago (00 3 * * * root /home/httpd/analog/analog) had gone. Putting it back seems to have had no effect. I don't know why it could have gone, or why things now still do not work.

The BOFHcam Journal and associated gubbins will be boring and static until some time around either December 30 1999 or January 3 2000.
Go away.

[12:00] Well, last day today. So I have something of a treat for you (depending on your point of view). It's my first attempt at a filk. Actually it's not, but it's the first attempt you're likely to see on here. Basically, I thought up one line this morning on my bike on the way in, and thought I'd run with it.
Windowsian Crapsody (C) Me 1999 and stuff.

Is this a real OS?
Is this insanity?
Caught in a niche buy,
No escape from the GUI.
Open your eyes, look into your files and see,
Bill's just a rich boy, he needs no sympathy,
Because it's sloppy code, full of bloat, really crap, really slow,
Any way to sell 'dows doesn't really matter you see; s'not free.

Linus, just killed a corp.,
Put a gnu against its head, read the licence, now it's dead.
Linus, my code had just begun,
And now I've gone and ftp'd it all away.
Linus, GNU, Didn't mean to make(1L) you compile,
If your prompt's not back again this time tomorrow,
Code on, code on as if nothing really matters.

Too late, shutdown(8) has come,
Sends SIGTERM down my spine, cron jobs failing all the time.
Logout, ev'rybody, It's got to go,
Gotta re-compile the kernel; patch the goof.
Linus, d00d, don't want to lose uptime,
I sometimes wish I'd never been touch(1)'ed at all.

{cue MIDI-embedded web page of hampsterdance doing the guitar solo}

I see a little silhouetto of a plan,
ESR, ESR, is it catherdral or bazzaaro?
Underground of coding, very, very worrying Bill!
(Mo-no-poly.)  Mo-no-poly.  (Mo-no-poly.)  Mo-no-poly.  Mo-no-poly figures he,
Magnifico?  Eric; poor rich-boy, everybody loves he.
He's just a poor boy from a vi(1) family,
Spare him his life from this emacs-monstrosity.
Easy come, easy go, will you let me code.
Bismillah! No, we will not let you code.
(Let him code!) Bismillah! We will not let you code.
(Let him code!) Bismillah! We will not let you code.
(Let me code!) Will not let you code.
(Let me code!) Will not let you code. (Let me code!) Ah.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
(Oh mama mia, mama mia.) Mama mia, let me code.
Billzebub has Windows put aside for me, for you, for thee.

{cue frenzied accordian playing by Mahir}

So you think you can install it and spit in Bill's eye.
So you think you can LILO, then leave it to die.
Oh, baby, it's not that easy, no baby,
There's little support, there's little support for your games.

Porting really matters, switch to BSD,
Porting really matters,
Porting really matters to me.

Anyway, it's "Wind'blows"...

{JenniCAM on the gong}
So there you go. Opinions?

Other than that I've just realised/been told I have to go round the nine machines we have in outlying parts of the insitiution making sure they have the right service packs and office97 service packs installed. it might take a while as they're fairly spread out around town. This is an arse, as I don't want to leave here and then have to come back.

[16:10] In a gesture od seasonal goodwill unlike anything I've ever experienced before. I actually went out and visited a few of the people with non-Y2K happy machines. It wasn't fun. It was cold. It was wet. I was grumped at by security people with nothing better to do than extract identification from people who don't carry any as a matter of course.

[17:45] The song's up on the PFY page now, not only that but owing to popular demand I've put up a few images on the gallery. I've also decided to take the camera home with me for Christmas (to save it from burgulars, of course), so you might see some candid shots of me and the posse doing stuff and things over the festive season. Don't want to get too personal though, can't lose my hard BOFH image.

Right, looks like it's time to head off. I'll be back on December 30, or the morning of December 31 to make sure the place is still here (and getting £250 to do it too), and then again, briefly on January 3 to make sure we haven't had any 'hiccups'. You all have a good break, don't work if you aren't getting someone to pay through the nose for your skills, and remember: Recovery comes in all kinds of guises, try everything once, it might just save you from killing your nearest and dearest with a paperweight in the shape of a tortoise.

[9:40] Moon not going to be brightest in 133 years after all (link will be out of date in a few days).

Well, last night was fun. My brother rang me up to complain that the present I'd bought our grandmother (the first time we've ever sent a joint present) wasn't going to be something she'd like. He knew this because my mother had told him what it was. The present was 'Walking With Dinosaurs', a truly gorgeous book with a a whole loads of wonderful pictures and some interesting text. Not my cup of tea, but I was pretty sure she'd find it interesting.

No-one else was. I got fairly riled on the phone and rang off to talk to my mother. She too professed a lack of interest in dinosaurs (which is a shame as I've now got to take back the joint present that the girlfriend and I chose for my parents of a double video of the 'Walking With Dinosaurs' series, and find something they will like) and was sure her mother wouldn't like it either.

Frankly, at this point I didn't care. I bought the present in good faith and if she doesn't like it, well, I'll consider it a mistake. In the same way as my last birthday present from her was a pair of Totes Toasties. Women's green Totes Toasties. Now, while I can excuse this as a result of being peeved over not sending a thankyou letter for the previous Christmas' present, perhaps she could have at least gotten the gender right.

As it is, my brother has decided to stay in on the present and we're going to hope that by some freak of chance she likes it. I still have to get into town and pick something else for my parents though. At least I'll get something right.

I went home at 17:30 last night. The AO hadn't come to see me so I got out of there. With luck she now won't have time to have a meeting about Access and the DoD until the new year.

Promoted the newest server in the building to PDC this morning. Amazingly enough it seemed to go without a hitch. Replication (something I'd had sorted before).

[14:30] Replication's settled down, but my stomach is churning because I have an Access meeting at 15:15-16:15 with the AO. Went out and bought a replacement present for my parents from me and the girlfriend. If they don't like this one they can lump it, basically.

[16:20] I will not be beaten by a printer, not this close to Christmas. I have three LaserJet 4000N printers. Two of them I can telnet to, the third I can't. I can use the sucky Java Applet thing on all three, I can also ping all three (obviously). A portscan reveals that two are listening on 23, the third is not. Does anyone have any ideas how to get it listening on 23 again, please? The options I want to set are not available from within JetAdmin.

[09:10] Link to the net down from 01:00.
[09:30] Which is really annoying.
[11:50] Now I'm just pissed off. Apparently there will be a Cable & Clueless engineer onsite in London in 10 minutes to perform a line card swap. If it works I'll be very suprised. No-one's going to be reading this until the net comes back again anyway, but still, it eases my temper.

I've been fixing up the new 3.8K LCD projectors this morning. They're sweet. My only problem is how (and if) I get one home to see how it performs showing DVDs on my wall.

[12:20] Still no joy.
[12:50] Assholes.
[13:04] Connectivity restored. Total downtime: 12 hours 4 minutes. Not good enough Cable & Clueless, must try harder.

[16:45] The AO has organised a meeting about the new DoD at 17:00. Five o'clock in the p.m.! How can you do that to someone. And this close to Christmas as well. It's not right I tell ya. I go for a whole day, trying to stay sane in this job, and then I have to sit for somewhere approaching forty-five minutes to an hour, talking about crud that neither interests me, nor should be my job in the first place. I've whiled away the time I would have spent cycling home in the freezing snow thinking up new names for all the machines in my locale.

[9:10] Last working (almost) week of the year. Huzzah. Desmond Llewellyn ('Q' from the James Bond films) has died in a car accident. It's a damned shame as he'd just done his last film and was probably looking forward to a bit of rest and relaxation now. Rest in peace.

I got back to work this morning. Found that I had a pile of Christmas card, so I suppose I should go round thanking people for them. Humbug. There's also a big ugly pile of crud (memos) which I have to sift through like some demented archeologist, looking for stuff I should be 'actioning' as soon as possible. I have to have two meetings about Access DoD, all kinds of letters I have to write to higher-ups about stuff and things.

[12:15] Not only that, I have to fill in a questionnaire on web-based learning and gubbins like that. Won't that be fun. I'm considering putting in a false email address so I'm not bothered by spam about it.

[13:30] Joe on a motorbike! Microsoft's service pack 2 for Office97 is 24Mb. That's criminal. I wonder how Y2K important it is. To be honest, most people here don't even have SP1 of Office97 installed. Perhaps we should do that this week. Oh, yeah, I'm here till Thursday this week, then, for the first time since the Journal started, there will be no more entries until Tuesday 4 January 2000. Unless, of course, I feel like it. I'm going to attempt to move all the web logs for last year somewhere else as close to the new year as possible, just in case. Also, I want a copy.

[13:45] Arse, I've got 40 blank Travan tapes here, and all the old Dell boxen I'm using for linux machines have Travan drives in them. But is the driver in the kernel already? Nooooo. Damn. Maybe I'll have a go at compiling the kernel this afternoon.

[14:00] Fellow BOFH and ex-fellow sysadmin of the insitution as a whole is coming round today (around 15:00 to burn a CD of service packs and stuff for his new workplace. All they have is a 64k/bit leased line, so getting SP5 + hotfixes, the abovementioned Office97 fixes and other 'stuff' would take a while. He's already bemoaned the lack of coffee in the place. Perhaps I should have asked for a percolator for Christmas?

[11:15] Today is major NIS magic day. We're learning all kinds of funky stuff. There's some scarey stuff in here. What's worse, though, is that I find myself finding the similarities between NIS and the NT Domain structure.

How crap is that? I've been tainted.

The landlord went out and bought 30m of co-ax (I'm sure I've mentioned that already) recently. Last night I moved the telly, video, hi-fi (for standard stereo) and cable box. The picture quality, if anything, is slightly better. Or at least the same. Of course, this means that even though we haven't had the holes drilled for the cable, I could buy the telly, DVD player and assorted gubbins now. I think I'll wait until at least January.

[09:40] Today appears to be managing users and groups. Unfortunately, today's lecturer isn't a public speaker. I get the feeling he's not happy with this kind of thing, A proper sysadmin, happier in a dark room keeping things going.

Ooooh, the sticky (set GID bit) bit.

[11:40] And now we're onto security. The guy admits we can't work through everything in three hours. But hey, he's going to tell us the basics and hope we go out looking for other stuff.

[16/12/1999] Ooops, did so much yesterday I forgot to do this. Basically we did more of the same. Specifically we did service management, dump/restore, breaking the filesystems and manually fscking, kernel upgrades (the rpm way only, I'm afraid), the boot process, inetd and removing stuff we don't like, and other general stuff. All good clean fun. It was impressive the way one of the sysadmins came up with something to shaft the filesystem in such a way that fsck would fix it in a specific fashion. Full marks for ingenuity.

Luckily, after a tough day's work it was late night shopping in town so I managed to get a chunk of my Christmas shopping done. We had a few people round in the evening and cooked them dinner.

[14:10] Right, today is (and has been) the RedHat Package Management system, the way to compile/make/install non-rpm applications and now it's the boot sequence and things of that nature. It's been good. Although I know what I'm doing, I've been staying fairly close to what's being asked of me. Some people are doing their own thing, including installing xmms and listening to mp3 music while fiddling with their window manager. This isn't right. We're here to learn, and it they don't think that what they're here for is important, they either know what they're doing and don't need to be here, or don't want to listen, so they still shouldn't be here. Either way, having lunch with my friend from unix support gives me a chance to tell him to get them thrown out.

This may happen, because, as I said, the supervisors are all BOFHs.

Other than that, apparently things are going fine back at the ranch. The PFY seems to be dealing with everything. I've also been in contact with some people who deal with sysadmins and the institution. They are promising to look into why I'm being asked to deal with the DoD. Part of me thinks this is 'betraying' the part of the institution I work for, specifically the AO. The rest of me hopes they'll be able to get me out of everything but sysadmining. That would be nice.

Anyway, back to it. Let me know about what you're doing this week, or perhaps any courses you've been on recently that had something memorable happen on them.

[13:50] On the Linux course at the moment. Just learnt how to install RH6.1 properly. This is because all of the course administrators are BOFHs of some level. The reason they chose RH over, for example, Debian was lazyness on their part. Debian requires three boot floppies, RH requires one. So there you go.

Other than that, my unix support pal is teaching the way to configure X this afternoon. There are one or two people who've skilled ahead a fair amount. They're going to be in trouble as they've not selected the right packages to install, or the right partitioning scheme. It's going to be fun having them reinstall while we're getting on with the fun stuff.

[09:30] What a fucked up world this is. Last night I went home and opened my bank statement. What did I find? Nine debit card transactions I didn't make. How do I know I didn't make them? I didn't have a fecking card at the time. Here's the sequence of events:

Sunday November 14 ----- Card reported lost to Card Services. Telephone operator tells me that this card "has now been cancelled" and a new card would be issued with a start date of the beginning of November. They also told me that they had already sent out a card with a start date of the beginning of December (as the one I'd lost expired at the end of November). I was told to destroy this card when it arrived and wait for the replacement card with a start date of November because when you cancel a card, you also cancel the series of cards issued to replace it when it expires.

Wednesday 17 November -- Found card reported lost at work in locked room and destroyed it. You remember, it's in my Journal.

Between 15-20 November - Replacement card (already cancelled) for lost one (valid from December) arrives and is destroyed.

Thursday November 18 --- Six debit card transactions take place, the last four digits of the debit card used are not known to me. All transactions are between 30 and 50 pounds. Three Co-operative supermarket, two Sainsburys supermarket and one Argos ctalogue store.

Friday November 19 ----- Two more transactions. Co-operative and a Burtons (Burtons for gods' sake!) men's clothes store. The same four digits on the debit card is used.

Monday November 22 ----- One transaction. Woolworths. Again, the same debit card used.

Saturday December 4 ---- Go to Lloyds here to enquire as to why my new debit card (with a start date of November!) hadn't arrived yet. Was told that "although my previous card had been cancelled another one hadn't been ordered". She ordered me a new one with the computer at the customer services point and I was told it would arrive by Friday December 10.

Tuesday December 7 ----- New card arrives with a start date of December.

Thursday December 9 ---- Statement arrives with unrecognised transactions, detailed above. Ring Lloyds Card Services between 20:30-21:00. The only information the can give is that "a card was cancelled on December 4". Advised to contact home Lloyds branch in Manchester.

The last time I used a debit card was November 4, having relied upon the girlfriend for money. I have not used my new debit card yet. I have a 08:00-18:30 job weekdays and spend 1 hour in the city centre between 13:00-14:00 with friends.

I rang the bank at 08:59 this morning. After passing through three people I was put on to 'VISA fraud'. They disputed what the number on my last card had been. Apparently my last valid card had been one ending in those same digits. The mystery card. This turns out to have been the card I tore up the day it arrived. Someone seems to have printed another one and used it.

Lloyds may tell you they have cancelled a card when you call Card Services, but they will not actually do so until fraud is proven to have taken place on that card.

This is bacause of lusers. Fricking morons who call Lloyds bleating about how they've lost their card and can it be cancelled, please. They then proceed to find the card again in in some stinking fetid buttock crevasse[1] and use it. Of course, they're arrested for card theft/fraud and sue the ass off Lloyds Bank Plc for wrongful arrest.

I mean, FFS people. If you cancel a card you do not then use it and expect nothing to happen. Argh, I've run out of words to describe the sheer imbecility of the type of people who would do this. Apparently, in 3-5 working days I should be getting back the £380 that some theiving bastard(s) have had from me (plus the interest I would have lost, I hope). If I'd been low on cash this would have scared me. As it is I'm just annoyed. Really fucking annoyed.

In other news, I go to see someone's NT Terminal Server setup at 11:00 today, and then head over by taxi to deliver this Outlook POS back to its 'rightful' place. This will hopefully enable me to have a longer lunch break.

Oh yeah, it's Friday too. Happy fricking Friday.

[12:00] I'm back from a fairly impressive meeting with someone who's set up Terminal Server, Citrix MetaFrame and DiscZerver (no typo). Looks impressive, and it seems to work. Need to order a taxi now and think how I'm going to submit this debit card thing to comp.risk.

[18:15] Right. I'm off to the pub and thence to a course next week. The PFY will be in from 10:00-15:00 every day and I'll be doing Journal updates when I can. Have a good weekend.

[1] Yes I know it might want to be 'crevice', but it depends on the individual. I'm tempted to go with what's written.

[08:55] O.K. this is a call out to anyone who can draw something that'll match Jenni's Christmas menu and not look too shite. Thanks to Erin for pointing it out. Jenni's Journal mentions that she's thinking about another site redesign. For god's sake woman! Some of us have better things to do that try to keep our site changing to be a proper parody!

[09:20] I'd appreciate anyone who can do some kind of a Christmas/BOFH/Me drawing a lot and would have to think of some reward worthy of it. Other than that, I'm going to try and get some other stuff done, like updating the Co-LARTers and getting the unSupport pages in place.

[11:11] Just added my version of Jenni's Tech Support pages. They're fairly crap. Anyone who wants to suggest improvements will be... well, not totally abused.

[16:30] Had an excellent idea for a match for Jenni's nice image on her menu page, if I can find it. Also went to the doctor's over the lunchtime period to register and ended up getting a tetanus booster and polio sugarlump. Nasty tasting thing. If you're very quick you can see the bloodstain on my T-shirt.

I've been in a meeting with the librarian over what type of networked computer system to get in there. NT Server with thin clients and a beefy server Vs workstations and all manner of other stuff. I've thrown it open to the sysadmin's list for the Institution and had a number of replies which have served to cloud and clear the issue in equal measure.

I should be delivering the computer I've been working on back tomorrow at some point. Probably in the morning just before lunch so I can take some time off. I'm also going to see someone's Terminal Server setup across the way at some point, so I can see how it's being done.

The girlfriend and I are going to the gym tonight. it's about time I got back into a routine of exercise. She had her wisdom teeth (two of them, same as me) yesterday, they weren't happy teeth.

[14:10] The Dell rep. arrives soon. We're going to be talking about Terminal Server and as low spec. boxes as possible.

[19:00] O.K., it's been a pretty busy afternoon. I've been in the room, just out of camera-shot, learning Outlook and MS Exchange on a need-to-know basis. It really is a pile of steaming turds. Huge and steaming. Anyway, the thing was was that this person who rang me up to dump a problematical PC in my lap (slow printing and no connection to mail for Outlook), so I went off in a taxi around 11:30 to pick it out and bring it back. Once back here I found that it was a non-standard Gateway2000 box. By this I mean that there was no mention of what type of NIC or graphics card it used. Of course, the old sysadmin hadn't kept any records of what was in the box, and had simply passed it on to the luser with the factory install of the OS and applications. So it was a mess.

Rather than try to figure things out, I just reinstalled from scratch. Around that time, the Dell rep. arrived. He took me through a long and tedious PowerPoint routine about things I couldn't and didn't need to afford. Fibre Channel and rack soloutions for gods' sake1 I only have 10 grand, and that's got to cover 8 machines and a chunky server.

I finally managed to get rid of him with promises to look up specs and prices for a 'net PC' type of affair. The NX1, in case anyone's interested. Thin-client architechture and an internal floppy drive for booting. No more than I need.

Anyway, after that I got back to Outlook and how the hell to get it to talk SNMP/POP or even say hello to something. After some help from John from Moose Mansions, I got somewhere. Just. In the end I dumped all his saved mail (like I give a monkey's arse, he should have had a backup) because it seemed to be part of the problem and copied in all his 'Contacts' from a backup copy.

[Just noticed I've got blood on my hands, I don't remember anything, and I'm not bleeding anywhere. What's been happening?]

I *think* everything is hunky-dory now. Of course, he's away till the weekend, and I'm on the course next week so I'm going to have to deliver it back to his place, reconfigure it for that subnet and make sure it works. Then leave detailed luser-followable instructions so that he doesn't panic and core dump when he gets back.

I've taken the liberty of a) removing his user from the Administrators group (FFS!) b) Given him the right graphics drivers for his machine so he can see things in more than 16 colours and 800x600 c) tidied up his entire directory structure and d) all kinds of small piddly-shit things that make a PC work as well as possible, given the OS it's lumbered with.

Will he care? Will I get anything other than requests for help from him? I think not. I'm going home.

"Thought of any new year's resolutions?"
"I was going to try 1280x1024, but I don't know if my monitor's up to it."

And they just get worse.

I get to order the LCD projector this morning. Tomorrow I'm probably having a visit from yer man from Dell to discuss what type of machines I'll want to roll out in the new library area (NT Terminal Server). I know, I know, I don't like it either, but that's the way things go.

[11:38] I've just had a series of phone calls. Seems I have to go out to a client and fix his Outlook/NT problem. Not only that, the IT bloke on site has specifically dumped it in my lap because the machine was installed by the luser sysadmin before me. I hate Outlook, it's shite. As I don't have any transport other than my feet and my faithful bike (what with the PFY being away), it looks like I'm going to have to sting the Institution for a taxi there and back, twice.

i've told him to back up all the vital files to floppies and I'll try and salvage his mail and stuff. Of course he's got a mass of 1.5Mb excel files. I've just emailed the AO to get permission to raid the piggy for taxi funds.

[15:50] Looks like I'll be going round tomorrow late morning or early afternoon to pick up this damned machine and do the business with it. Suprisingly enough, the previous numbwit in this job bought it from someone other than Dell (where he seems to have occasionally had the sense to buy from) so none of my library of carefully gathered driver files is going to be of much use as Gateway(2000) don't believe in standard installs. Especially not at the time the PC was bought and 'installed'. I say 'installed' because it looks like he was in the habit of taking the machine as it arrived (factory installed operating system and all associated gubbins), making sure it turned on and then shipping it out. He wouldn't check for service pack requirements, etc. As a result I figure no matter what's wrong with it (I'm guessing a corrupt library somewhere) I'm going to do a clean install, whip it up to SP5+hotfixes, stick on some decent anti-virus software and then see what files I can restore back onto it. Should be a nice small project to make sure the PCs I've been forced to take responsibility for actually work.

The AO rang me about twenty minutes ago. Asked me if I'd bought the LCD projector yet? I said yes. Can we buy a second one? Sure thing. I didn't mention that if she hadn't been so keen for me to order the first one so quickly, this desire for a second one might have saved us money by getting a discount for an order >1. It's not my money, but I'd like to save cash for toys I'll get to use more often.

I'm not telling you anything more about Saturday's debacle. Suffice to say that although I'd prefer to be the Ultimate BOFH, there are some things that even I should do. And that was one of them. I've begun a thread on the things that happened on a news server nearby, to see what others of my station think. When we come up with a definitive answer, I may post it here.

Other than that, we (the girlfriend and I) went out to her work 'do' on Saturday night. Plenty of food, free play on a SEGA Gunblade machine (finished it three times without losing a life by the end of the evening), a fairly good run on the Blackjack table which I would have won the prize for until I found out it was a bottle of champagne (I can't stand it), so I bet everything and lost resoundingly.

We got home in the small hours and crawled into bed. Leaving us bleary-eyed for Sunday. The day began at around 13:00. I cleaned my bike finally and did some housework because, frankly, the place was beginning to feel like my student accommadation.

I've been having some stress over the fact that, frankly, my job sucks due to a boredom/frenetic activity swing every so often. In some ways it's gotten me really down. To be honest, Saturday saw me dipping fairly low. A lot of the time I don't do much during the working day. And occasionally this is Good. But now and then it would be nice to have something to do steadily for a few days. Unfortunately that's not how things work. Instead 19,000 things will arrive on my desk at once and piss me off. The girlfriend, on the other hand, has something fairly exciting to do every day, and she tells me about it.

I don't begrudge her this. I'm glad as it means she's getting over the panic she had at being crap as the first female software developer in the company. But listening to her and not having anything to say in response about my day does wear somewhat. Anyway, to cut back to the chase, we were at the cinema on Friday night and I fianlly had something to say about my job. I thought it was cool, I thought it was both BOFHish and useful.

I got shot down in flames for doing something that, on relection, the girlfriend and the people with us were right that I shouldn't have done. I hated the fact that the first thing I'd done that was worthy of me talking about social was in fact wrong. Of course I took offence. Quite a lot in fact. I was Pissed Off.

The girlfriend took the brunt of it that night and Saturday morning. I'm not happy with the way either of us acted, but the resulting tearfest and shouting served to clear the air neither of us knew had clouded over. Which was nice. I need Recovery.

So, that was my weekend. Today, the digital camera arrived and I've been playing with it all day in between cursing NT and it's inability to allow anybody but Administrators to get to shares over the network. There's a new rant-type-thing up on the PFY page from Simon in partial response to my comments on what a sysadmin does and doesn't, should and shouldn't have to do.

Other than that I commend two links to you today. The first one tells you how to Know Your Sysadmin. Vital in today's shifting standards. The second sounds like a standard day in NT hell and tells of life as a sysadmin.

If you have a fairly good idea that people are using your server to store porn, MP3s, warez and dodgy movies, where does the law/privacy etc. stand on allowing you to search for them. What is your personal opinion on what you should and shouldn't be allowed to do? Does a simple search for *.mp3 *.jpg *.exe breach privacy rules?

04/12/1999 (Shhhhh)
[00:34] No, I am most definately not here. I am not doing a restore of some files I shouldn't have deleted. I am therefore not shitting myself in case someone find out over the weekend and furthermore I am not typing up a brief note for the computer room claiming there was a slight loss of data over the weekend and anything still missing over the restore I've just done can't be helped.

So there.

Approached this morning about getting a laptop cheap (with institution discount) for someone to use 'for institution work'. Frankly I think he just wants a cheap box for mobile mp3s.

I'm still pissed off over the amount of Access I'm going to have to learn and deal with. This ISN'T supposed to be what someone like me does. But apparently this institution requires it's computer people to be flexible. Which is nice.

When I first got into sysadminning (which admittedly wasn't too long ago) I thought people would leave me to do one job. If you have one job you can concentrate on it and make sure you provide the best service in your field. Making people do lots of pissing small and frankly crap jobs just because they use computers is not on.

i've very quickly become aware that the sysadmin is not expected to do his job and make sur ethings run right, he's expected to fix everything, do all the things people expect he's good at, be creative with his (or her) job description, work long hours dealing with badly designed databases and applications and set up things classed generally as 'technology'.

If I didn't do it, admittedly, it wouldn't get done. But I don't get any thanks for it. People expect that as I'm doing it, it must be what I do. It isn't. In some places (like my previous job). I was responsible for setting up computers running patch cables, configuring hubs, switches, the router, PCs, Suns on occasions and watching the net. On top of that we occasionally helped people with their problems (if we had to). The rest of the time we monitored the network and had a lot of fun. This Is How It Should Be.

Man, where have all the good days gone?

[14:35] Talk about a response. All kinds of new people have been popping out of the network with something to say. I'm typing to reply to you all personally over the course of this afternoon. Special mentions go to Mark S., Simon S. and Mike H. who all send in something that earns a gold star (the ordering is based on the arrival time in my /var/spool/mail. Thanks guys.

02/12/1999 (Recovered)
Erm, where the fuck is the original entry for today? I typed it out and it's no longer here. That pisses me off. It was good too, proper bile in full flow. I doubt I'll be able to recreate it fully. Here's an attempt.

Why the hell do I put up with this shit? Here I am, working as a sysadmin and they expect me to hump huge fecking printers about the place. There's this one secretary who's been pissing and whinging about her printer. It's a deskjet which admittedly is providing pretty shitty print. We swap her in another one and it degrades too. I'm confised and we give her another, it drops quality in short order. Neither I nor the PFY knows the cause. Meanwhile the secretary is raising merry hell asking for a top of the line laser. Of course, because she works for $BIG_CHEESE she's going to get one. We have a spare laser. It's the twin of the pair I got from the Ionica auction a few months ago. Only its developed a nasty buzzing sound. I've had the back off and found that this is due to a small fan keeping the jet direct board cool.

I rang HP and asked to be told how to get the fairing off so I could clean the fan. No-one would tell me without taking my name and institution so they could charge me if the call resulted in a success. There's no way I was going to be charged 20-30 quid for beiong told which screws to undo (believe me, I've tried for hours to get the casing off, if I wasn't in need of the printer I'd have resorted to hammer and leatherman by now), and the callout charges would happily buy a new laser printer.

So what I do is swap this printer with the one in the general office and give the general office one to the moaning secretary. The staff in the general office complain to the AO who comes to see me. I tell her I did the swap because I thought that as she worked for $BIG_CHEESE she'd want things this way round. No.

Apparently this secretary can either be happy with a noisy printer or get $BIG_CHEESE to get her one of her own. This entails me humping the printers around again, deleting and recreating printers on the machines and banging my knuckles on door frames.

To add insult to fricking injury I get five memos, all of which are going to require me to do some work. Added to that, the AO comes in and tells me that we need a database setting up, in addition to the DoD and the new DoD I have to write from scratch, all of these are going to be in Access. And hence, shouldn't I begin to do some 'serious Access learning'.


I've never wanted to leave so much as I did then. Coupled with that I had a brief panic on how I'm going to be stuck in NT adminning for the rest of my professional life. While knowing lots about setting up solid NT networks, I don't think I know enough saleable Unix to get by. I griped on a BOFH channel over IRC and was asked some questions on just how much I knew. The consensus was that I could get a job adminning Unix given what I knew, many had dome with less.

This helped a little. I installed Win32 Perl and as soon as I have the time, I'll be trying to make a start on picking it up. I'm going to try some other stuff as and when I can, so that when it comes to leaving this place, I can at least get a job in a heterogenious environment and sidle my way out of NT and in to Unix.

There. In some ways that's actually better than the entry I lost.

December. Hell. That means doing all kinds of things like buying presents and stuff soon, doesn't it. Damn.


Backup failed again, slightly. So I've just stopped backing up the part that was failing. Makes things much easier. Maybe I should promote the new server and get things over with. I dunno though. It's like taking the old sheepdog out to the barn with a shotgun. Taking another task away from the old server (it only does domain verification and printer serving now) would leave it practically ready to be powered down for the long rest. Lunchtime anyway. More later.

Instant karma: I managed to deflect a Compaq salesman in under 30 seconds by repeatedly claiming to buy Dell. It looks like they're trying to copy Dell's direct sales technique.

Just noticed that there's another version of Service Pack 6a now out. Seems the possible reason they messed up the networking stuff might have been a stupidly transparent attempt to stop BO2K from getting access. Numbnuts. The people at NTTools have thus far identified three *distinct* versions of SP6a in the wild.

Not that it matters. I'm sticking with SP5+hotfixes.