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30/06/1999 (What-I-did-on-my-holiday Edition)
Wednesday was vist-the-relative day. The girlfriend is going to be going to Merkia with on of her grandmothers for a month fairly soon, so she thought it nice to visit the other one to soften the blow of not going with her instead.

We extricated the car from the mire which was the approach road/track and drove over the windiest and up-and-downiest roads on the face of the planet to Colwyn Bay. Once there we took tea, browsed second-hand bookshops for sci-fi books and took a trip to Llandudno pier. Leaving at around 18:00 we headed back. I think that was the night we watched a large amount of Red Dwarf on video.

29/06/1999 (What-I-did-on-my-holiday Edition)
Tuesday was hot. It was hot and sunny, even at 07:00. We got up - at this insane hour for a holiday - so we could get a lift into Aberystwth. Once there we spent a lazy morning wandering around before the tourists got there and spoilt the tranquility before moving on to Bourth (or however it's spelt) where we found the beach and promptly jumped in the sea. I haven't been in the sea for years, it was quite an experience having cold water lap up over your waistline.

Back on the beach we sunbathed and found to our horror that welsh sun ins't like sun elsewhere, it burns you, even when you think you're O.K. She and I burnt on our backs and decide to call it a day, even while the sun was still up.

We caught the train back to the middle of nowhere and spent the evening applying coold cream to each others backs, and other affected parts.

28/06/1999 (What-I-did-on-my-holiday Edition)
The next five days worth of entries are what I did on my holiday as recovery from the job. Hopefully they'll answer all your questions related to things like did I tan, did I burn, did I get my end away and did I find a cyber cafe to log on from to check mail? Anyway, here goes.

We got up on the Monday and tried to hire a car (having found that it was in fact cheaper to hire a car for the week than to get trains everywhere) and found that having four points on your license (hers, not mine, I don't have one) and being a student (she's not any more, but she forgot) means you can't hire a car for a week. Luckily unix support bloke was around to remind the girlfriend that she was in fact no longer a student. Suitably molified by this, the hire company allowed us to take away a small red Toyota. We debated taking my bike (fairly decent mountain bike) and found that if you took off both wheels and the saddle, it fit, just.

Having a long way to go, we set off fairly quickly and made our way to Wales, land of sheep, mountains and clean air. Arriving in the valleys we found to my delight that cell phone reception is non-existant and there was no way I was going to be called with work problems.

Getting to the girlfriend's aunt's house was fairly tricky, with the trail leading up there being kind of muddy. The house/cottage was rural, miles from anywhere and devoid of television reception. When we arrived there was no-one there, so I climbed the mountain behind it. I must have gone at least four hundred metres vertically. The view was spectacular, the air clear and there were no computers. That evening we relaxed in an oversoft bed and wondered what the weather would be like on Tuesday.

There will be no updates to the BOFHJournal between the 28th of June and the 4th July. Normal service will resume on Monday 7th July. I'm on holiday. The PFY isn't, so you can always watch her (and email me if she does something wrong). Depending on how I feel when I get back, I will either fill in the blanks, or give a big entry on Monday 7th July. Email in the meantime telling me what you did during the week. Hard luck stories will be accepted and laughed at as I sit in the sun. Suffer, mortals.

SETI@home units: 500 requested, 482 returned
The PFY's back. She's full of knowledge and stuff. Luckily this means I can delegate more tasks to her.

The AO came round late yesterday and asked me to go through the final stages of the data input and calculations that we did last Friday. I could have told her where the hole was that caused the errors in the datasheet, but as it was mainly her fault that the bad data I input wasn't caught, I had to let her reach the conclusion herself.

This morning (because from now on the PFY's on half-days again) is preparation day for my absence next week. The PFY is going round all the machines checking their graphics and NIC drivers to ensure, in the case of a tragic crash, that she can rebuild a machine from scratch and get it going again. Having all documents and the lusers' Eudorka directories backed up means that a catastrophic crash is actually an opportunity to re-install someone's machine like I like it.

I'm also really pissed off with this graphics card thing. Ever sice I got it and (I think) upgraded to Service Pack 5, it's been losing gifs under Netscape. My guess is that it's not caching them correctly, which is a pain. Any suggestions on how to fix this would be useful.

[14:55] Leaving prompt at 16:30 today. Now's your last chance to email me with something abusive.

SETI@home units: 490 requested, 476 returned
Hum. When I got in this morning I was sad to see that the number of units being processed had gone down markedly. However, I'm now happy to report (for those of you who care) that I've found a version of SETI@home that runs as a command line under Windows. Hopefully this should cut back on processor usage and get me back on track. I tried putting a version on Frankenstein, but every one I had core dumped.

There's been no further developments on either of the two big issues yesterday (the data and the nosebleed). All I can hope is that things remain like that.

Given the fact my paycheque clears at the end of this week, I think it's high time I purchased a computer. Sometime over the next week while I'm on holiday (did I mention I'm having next week off?)...

O.K., due to pressing needs this week (the PFY being on a course) I wasn't able to take my first real holiday in five years until a week after I'd finished the data processing. Now that this week has almost finished I can reveal that from the 27th of June to the 4th of July I will be Away From the Keyboard. Don't worry though, I'll either give you a bumper 5th of July entry, or do some retroactive entries. The PFY will be here for you to oogle at (I know who you are).

Today I am going to attempt to do as little work as possible.

SETI@home units: 480 requested, 473 returned
Oh dear.

The data I've been working on, slaving over, double- and triple-checking. The data I went to a stuffed shirts dinner last night to celebrate having turned out correctly and being over, has been brought to our attention as having a major mistake in it.

When the Admin Officer and I looked over the data ourselves we found a second, undiscovered error. I'll not go into the hows and whys of the matter, suffice to say that it was Her and my fault in equal measure and we're facing the storms of anger together.

The chief called us into his room and spoke in a Calm Reasoned Voice while his skin colour was something approaching alabaster. I felt ten years old again. Of course, everyone else is being supportive and understanding. The amount of hours I put in, followed by the PFY's checking and the AO's final checking at 01:00 on the day of release shows how much we put into something I shouldn't have been involved with in the first place except as a technical consultant.

Damage recovery procedures are now in operation.

And today was going to be a relaxing day.

[18:30] For the last 20 min I've had a monster of a nosebleed. Can't really cycle home while it's gushing like this. I guess it's too much Karate not enough practice at blocking...

21-22/06/1999 (Amalgamated Edition)
SETI@home units: 469 requested, 465 returned
I think I told you all I was having the day off yesterday. If I didn't, then tough, I did. Woke deliciously late (08:00) and actually breathed during breakfast. I had to get into town for 10:00 to install this PC I've been talking about.

When I managed to drag myself into town, having reassured myself that the PFY hadn't burnt the backup tapes, by phone, She was there with her car and the box. I had been hoping to meet the girlfriend at 11:00 to do some lazy window shopping, but the luser was so unclued about NT (having previously been on a monochrome Toshiba laptop) that I had to spend time getting him past the 'too scared to move the mouse' stage.

Not that the Institution's network administrator was any good. He'd lost the email detailing the MAC address of the box so he'd not set up the DHCP allocation or taken the port security off the patched in point. A quick phone call seemed to knock the cobwebs out.

The rest of yesterday was spent watching television (I'd forgotten I had one) and walking about in the sun.

Today (, tomorrow and Thursday) looks like being quite some fun. The PFY is on an NT course and from then on goes back on half-days. This should enable me to get a goodly amount of slacking done in the lazy, hazy afternoons. Truth be told, there's a lot I want to do, nevermind need to do. I'm still not totally au fait with this 'manager' thing so working on my own for a while might a) enable me to get some work done without having to worry about what to give the PFY to do and b) remind me how much I do need Her to do the work I don't want/have time to do.

Tonight is the celebratory formal dinner for the completion of the data work for this year. Black Tie, wine, good food and lots and lots of much older people than myself talking about highbrow concepts and boring topics of dinner conversation. If it wasn't free and probably involved sherry or port or somesuch at a later point in the evening I'd have said no. As it is, I worked damned hard for this 'perk' and if it wasn't going to be obvious I'd steal a few bottles and have it away on my heels before the conversation put me to sleep.

I dunno. Maybe I'll move the camera to somewhere nearer for a while.

SETI@home units: 451 requested, 444 returned
Ha! It's always the same. I get cut a break (Monday off) and then realise I can't take advantage of it. No, on Monday I'm delivering a PC to someone in an outlying part of the Institution, something that has to be done by car. I guess if this can be done early in the working day I can simply go home after that.


Damn, I just realised that fifteen minutes of pre-emptive work has been for nothing because I got the year wrong. Do I bother to print out the data sheets again because they have 1998 rather than 1999 on them? Have to see what the AO says I guess.

Tonight I get to see some of the shining examples of humanity that are a.f.p regulars. I've even got three of them using my floor for a bed tonight. Other than that, it's been fairly quiet day so far.

SETI@home units: 434 requested, 427 returned
Today is the first morning when I don't have to do something with the DoD. Unfortunately, some of this afternoon and much of tomorrow will be taken up with the final round of DoD work. Luckily everything has to be finished by tomorrow at around 15:00. So one way or another I'll be shot of that part of it by then.

Of course, after all of that there's still the further statistics, the analysis of this year's data input and the rewriting of the databases to help avoid this kind of stress next year. Of course, it's not actually the databases that caused the problems in the main. It was the lack of decently integrated statistics and reporting which gave me the headaches.

Yes, there are things I could do to make it more streamlined, but in the end there's still going to be lots of stuff to be done by hand.

Like I said, there's not much to do on the DoD this morning except practice for the stuff required this afternoon and tomorrow. I haven't thought about anything but the DoD for so long that I neither have the desire or mindset to do anything but the DoD or slack for a while. Thing is, there is lots to be done; the web pages need updating, the admin machines need tidying up, the network as a whole needs cleaning up, I've got a machine to roll out on Monday and we're still having some unexplained problems with ARCserve.

The fun never ends.

Something I spotted online:
WASHINGTON, DC--Citing a variety of vague misgivings he "can't quite explain," President Clinton vetoed Monday H.R. 1556, a bill that would have provided tax breaks to corporations that offer maternity-leave packages to female employees. "I don't know, it's just sort of hard to put into words," Clinton said following the veto. "It's weird, but something about this bill just didn't seem right. I know I should be, but for some reason, I'm just not into it."
That's the most powerful man in the world, that is.

[14:05] My eyes hurt. I'm assuming it's because even though I don't suffer from hay fever, this area has been getting pollen counts of 900+ when 100 is considered 'High' on weather reports. The blame is apparently being put un eight warm summers which has lead to the grasses shooting forth. I can't fault them there, my front gravel patch at home's been infested.

Database corrections happen tonight between the hours of 17:00 and 18:00. Joy.

[19:10] Despite starting thirty minutes early we've (the AO and me) only just finished going through the data forms that the othere see. But it's now so close to being finished from a this-has-to-be-done-sharpish point of view that I can smell the acrid odour of files being backed up for the long term.

Naturally in a few days I'll have to start picking apart the last few weeks' experiences and redesigning the DoD to be a little more simple to use (I'm not doing this data next time, I have whole new DoD to design!). But, until then, as a reward for services rendered above and well beyond the call of duty, job description or sanity, I've been awarded Monday off.

This isn't bad, considering Mondays round here. Anyway m'off to watch The Matrix again.

SETI@home units: 421 requested, 414 returned
O.K. Hopefully this entry will be a little more consious. On Monday evening I went to the Ball. I was quite tired from the day's session of data input so I wasn't especially happy to go to an allnighter. The thing was pretty O.K., the stand-up acts were good, food was excellent.

At 06:00 Tuesday I and a few others did the boating down the river (up stream actually) to have breakfast by the river. Unfortunatley I was seriously tired by this point and had managed to cut the palm of my hand fairly deeply so I wasn't in the best mood for this, either.

By the time we got back to the centre of town at 09:30 I was on my second wind and decided that rather than go home, crash out and have to face going into work (I had to go into work as things needed to be done on the DoD) I would go in straight away and see if I couldn't get home by 12:00 or something.

As it turned out there was masses to do and I didn't get home till gone 16:00. I crashed out and watched a bit of TV. Within five minutes I felt dizzy and went to bed. I didn't wake up 'till the girlfriend let herself in and made me eat something at around 19:45. Straight after that I lapsed back into u nconsiousness.

The AO had told me catagorically that she didn't want me back in work until 10:00 today. The deadline for the stuff I was rushing through yesterday was 10:00 today. So I was in by 09:30, just in case something required my attention.

I have more stuff to do today, which includes extending the functionality of the previous incumbent's frankly piss-poor attempt at a database, to help with the statistics I have to produce. This is slightly less frantic, but needs to be done.

Doctor! I need recovery!

[18:21] Well, apart from the corrections after the evaluation meeting tomorrow I'm all done on the DoD! There's some stats still to be done and the corrections will need to be done fairly quickly, but the massive, massive bulk of things are done, finished, ended. Huzzah!

Naturally, this isn't the time to stop and do nothing for a while, I have shit-loads to do now these DoD are over...

SETI@home units: 396 requested, 390 returned
[16:09] Got back from Ball at 09:30. Tired; no sleep, came straight into work from Ball; lots of DoD work to do. Late entry in Journal, sorry. Going home. In from 10:00 tomorrow morning with more to do.


SETI@home units: 398 requested, 398 returned
[15:40] Monday morning saw the arrival of the main bulk of the data. A good few thousand discrete data items to be input, checked and printed for second checking. My eyes hurt.

The end is in sight though. The final databooks are been tracked down by my trained team of datahounds. They are manning (hounding?) the telephones, causing untold numbers of people to scrabble in their drawers and come up with flimsy excuses as to why the data isn't here with me. Deadline isn't Friday as I thought, but Wednesday, at 10:00. This isn't good. It means I get the corrections back and have to produce the new stuff within 36 hours.

The main reason I'm not happy is that I'm going to what might possibly be my very last May Ball. This is a University thing that the girlfriend is dragging me along to tonight. At a cost of £149.00 we will be wined (I don't drink wine), dined (I don't like some of what's on the menu) and treated (along with about 1000 other people) to amusements, music, attractions, live acts and general drunken debauchery from 20:00 until around 03:00. Then, the people who have coughed up the cash (me, her, some others) are boated down the river for what is going to be (or I'm going to raise some cane) a spanking good breakfast, before being boated back.

As a result, I'm hoing to leave here by 18:00 at the latest and try to drag myself in (after being up till 06:00) for 14:00 to get this stuff checked for the final time.

I doubt you'll see much of me on camera until Wednesday morning. This isn't my job, but I'm damned if someone's going to fuck it up at this stage.

SETI@home units: 378 requested, 378 returned
I'm annoyed that I can't run SETI on the big machines any more. I'm dropping away down the tables now. At least it's Friday though.

I'm not going to comment on that article on RedHat going public. I'm not even going to provide a link to it. If you're that interested, try Slashdot or something.

Data entry is stepping up a gear here, with more and more pouring in. It's one of the most boring jobs in the world, if it wasn't for the music in my head, I'd go insane.

dum, de-dum de-dum, laa laa, dum dum

In other news, the person I borrowed the digital camera from has removed it from my possession because I held onto it to long. There's a good possibility he'll email me the pictures though. So that's O.K.

I'm running low on comments from you people out there who read this. I get my usual posts from Erin and Co., but it's time the people who just lurk made themselves known. Tell me what's happening. Get a namecheck, complain, something!

[13:20] Nice one. Jack's the winner of a plastic chimpanzee nightlight for the first person to respond to my plea. Something I forgot to mention, which you might have seen on the camera at around 10:00, was two blokes and me discussing big sheets of white paper with black lines on. What we were doing was not the Institution's attempt at the World's Largest Paper Aeroplane, but the plans for the ethernetting of a big chunk of the building I'm in. The people above want 119 ethernet points and 6 phone points and it's up to me and these blokes to get the thing done.

Now, I know for a fact that there will not be one hundred and ninteen people in the building at once who will want to plug in laptops, let alone have ethernet capabilities. We'll put aside the headache in working out how to assign IP numbers while they're connected and move on to the fact that I've stipulated that there will not be (for alt least two years) more than forty-eight ports required to be active at any one time. This eases up my options a tad by allowing me to shoehorn a 37U and 27U set of racks into a dark, dank and damp room, rather than something more. I have stated categorically that until the place is damp-coursed, replastered and generally 'made good' there's no active kit going withing sparking distance of the place.

Easy options based on money and time come down to Cat-5E or Cat-6 throughout, two 3Com SSII 1100's with a matrix cable and a 100Mb/sec fibre module to slot in the back of one of them. This means I have forty-eight 10Mb/sec full-duplex ports and two 100Mb/sec. The matrix arrangement allows me to stick another two 1100's in, should the need arise, and then I can always use one of the 100Mb/sec coppers from the front if suddenly everyone gets connected.

Comments (no suggestions, this has been approved and is now set in plastic, if not stone) welcome. Flames not so welcome.

Weird, I can smell cooked potato.

[17:20] Something of interest to people is The Rapidly Changing Face of Computing Technology Journal Best to have RealAudio.

SETI@home units: 371 requested, 371 returned
Today is one of those weird, nothing to do but idle around days. I've done nothing this morening but some trivial corrections on last night's data entry (was leaving at 18:00, early for me, when the AO handed me two thick data books, luckily there was very little data in 'em). Other than that I've been advising someone on RAID5 controllers and keeping up on the Monastary.

Yes, yes, I know quite a few of you want a new PFY story. As soon as the data entry is over I will do one. Just think of this time as more chance to build up content.

Bit of a shock yesterday when it was announced that SETI have been sending out the same units over and over again since May 24. Someone mentioned that according to them, only 115 discrete units have been sent out. I find this number a little incredible. Other people have countered that the problem is that with over 500,000 people now involved, with the average number of machines per person being two, there are simply not enough dayta units available to satisfy everyone, so the same ones are sometimes sent out again. I hope that's right.

Anyway, not much else to report just yet.

SETI@home units: 365 requested, 365 returned
Well, someone appears to have semi-sorted the SETI@home counters. However, now that I'm without the Suns to do the bulk of the processing I'm going to be much slower through the units.

On the subject of the Suns. I had a friendly sysadmin in another part of the Institution running SETI@home after hours when no-one else was using the machines. These machines are horribly over powered for the taks they're being asked to perform, yet yesterday my friend was told to remove the tasks and was told he had "too much time on his hands." He was then considered an untrusted user and (remember he's the sysadmin here) then had the root password changed on him. Hello? Had root removed from his possession? How's the man supposed to work? In cases like this (small network) you only need one person with root and he does the jobs. Hell, this other person broke Instutution rules by giving a shell access to himself while he was in another country so that he could get to data. Not that that's specifically a bad thing, it just caused headaches for me and my firewall.

At the time I was instituting a fairly hefty firewall type affair with the Cisco 7200 router and was not best pleased to have to go and deal with this. We only actually found out because various things happened in a certain order.

Anyway, I and my old boss (Him) have emailed his higher-ups and asked that this be considered something of a dumb thing to do. From the emails I've received this issue will be sorted by Thursday. Whenther I get SETI running again on the big machines is another matter.

SETI@home units: 95 requested, 355 returned
[15:15] Late entry today. Not really through over work, more through just not getting round to it. Got the PFY to do the first bit of checking on the second database. Over two hundred data items with only two mistakes. Not too bad really.

Only one databook today, plus the ones I didn't do yesterday due to the shortcomings of this particular DoD. I have to be finished by 18:00 today as I've got a formal dinner with the girlfriend this evening. Suits! I hate suits.

SETI@home units: 95 requested, 340 returned
Spent the weekend sleeping, buying and playing R-Type (I and II) for the Playstation (Retro city) and really, really spring cleaning unix support bloke's house so that when the assessors come round they'll give him a good enough money to enable his second mortgage to cover the mortgage of the house I and the girlfriend want to rent from him.

Oh yes, we went to see the house/flat/apartment that unix support bloke is angling for. It's a first and second floor set of rooms. Basically, you go in the front door, the entrance hall does a quick right turn and you have the bathroom on the left (bath/shower, toilet, sink). Opposite the entrance to the bathroom are the stairs (180 degree spiral, solid, cupboard underneath), which I'll get to in a moment. With the bathroom door on your left, walk forward two steps turn left and then one step. To your right is the door to the kitchen/dining room. To your front, three steps, is a bedroom. The room is approx. 4 metres square. Window next to door leading to false balcony. Going into the kitchen/diner area you have to your right a fitted kitchen (horse-shoe shape), then half a wall, then a long thin room (2 metres by 5 metres) with the same door to a false balcony.

Upstairs. Now upstairs is something special. Top of the stairs is a small landing with a fire exit and a walk in wardrobe at the head of the stairs. Turn to your left and take a step and you're into the main room. The description lists it (as far as I can remember) as roughly 6 metres by 5.5 metres. Sloping walls (roof) start about 1 metre up the walls. Twin skylights. It's an A/V-phile's dream. In fact the estate agent said the last person in the place had it as a bachelor-pad. You could tell he'd had four big speakers and a sub, we were informed he'd had a wide-screen television and some serious audio equipment in place. Damnit if I'm not going to use the room as it looks like it wants to be used. A couple of comfy sofas, foot stools (of course I'll need a bigger television and some beefy speakers and things'll be excellent) and a DVD player.

Went to the first of a number of meetings to do with the data I'm working with, this morning. Everything seemed to go O.K. People that they are, they weren't blown away by the fancy graphs but I don't mind, that wasn't the hardest part.

Today I start on the second set of data (the big one).

[17:55] Due to excessive numbnutterage above and beyond the call of duty I've had to take SETI@home off all the Sun boxen I was running it on, pending someone getting a clue as to what effects it distinctly wasn't having on other people's work. And the fact that running something between the hours of 18:00 and 08:00 does not take 'processing power' away from other people during the working day. Jeez.

SETI@home units: 95 requested, 294 returned
Friday! FridayFridayFriday! Thanks goodness. It's not that I don't enjoy the work. Hell, I'm learning so much about Access and Excel (*grind teeth*) that it's muchos plus points on the old CV as and when I come to update it. No, the problem is that it's energy-sapping, bone-wearying, mind-numbing work that has to be done correctly or people get bad things happening to them.

Now, I'm all behind people having bad things happen to them, even if it can be traced back to me. But in this case, the data I'm dealing with impacts on people's lives permanently... Which is kinda cool, in a way. But in the end it's got to be done right. Which means checking, checking, then more checking.

Luckily, as the girlfriend has finished her exams now she's offered to come and help this afternoon "at some point", so things may go more quickly. According to the AO, I'm pretty much (from what she said) four-ninths of the way through the databases for this year.

Not encouraging, but at least it's progress.

Soptted something on the BBC website yesterday: "Global warming - is the Sun to blame?". What do you think? Our lines are open.

The Dr. Laurence Godfrey trial finally caught my eye so I thought you could see just what's happening. Personally, I think he's a troll, in the truest sense of the word.

SETI@home units: 95 requested, 272 returned
I hate ARCserve. I really do. Dodgy piece of 'adapted-from-the-Netware-version' crap. Myabe if I'd ben shown how to use it by the previous incumbent I wouldn't be having all this trouble now. But I've just wasted a morning trying (with the help of the PFY, who's coming on in leaps and bounds) to figure out why the GFS backup wasn't taking the right tapes and kept failing.

We think we've sorted it now, but just as we're starting to get a handle on it, the most important batch of data to date comes in. And it turns out that unless I've missed something, even the database I thought was cool and fine and dandy, is also missing some vital functionality.

This is an arse as it means that I'm going to miss seeing the girlfriend before her final exam, and probably the celebrations afterwards. This annoys me immensely. One plus is that I've got two ways to do the final part of the statistics that I wasn't even required to do. One way is all funky and really rather impressive and makes me thing Excel has some hidden depths, the other is easier, takes less time for me (an Excel-neophyte) and strikes me as being just as descriptive for the recipients, given what they require.

All I have to do now is decide which I do first; input the final data (upon which no statistics depend) or finish the statistics and then input the marks. Either way, I'll miss the celebrations.

[20:30] Welcome to another evening with the DoD. Although I managed to get the essential data into the database and munge up some stats, I then thought it prudent to get the PFY to check my input skills. Lo and behold there were a number of serious errors (not many, just annoying ones) which required fixing, this then gad the knock-on effect of fucking up all my statistics. So, I do the fixes, recompile the statistics and then realise that although She had managed to do most of the checking, I hadn't given her all of the data books. So that meant I had to trawl my way through a few hundred data items, checking them off against another sheet and then going back to the Sanctum do the corrections, do the corrected statistics and then come back up here, check some other stuff and then stop.

SETI@home units: 95 requested, 254 returned
It was pissing down when I woke up this morning. I'd already woken during the night to hear the sound of a thousand clogged tap-dancers doing the Mazurka on the roof. I rolled over and watched the vertical river outside. GIven the lack of choice, I got up.

Cycling in was fun. No really. Because I've been unable to fit a pannier rack to my new bike I was consequently soaked by the time I got to work (a mere 5 min by bike). Luckily I had the foresight to pack a towel.

The last set of data for the easiest of the DoD comes in tomorrow morning. They expect me to turn out the databooks by the following morning, plus the reams and reams of statistics that look like a bugger to calculate. The old sysadmin has told me catagorically that he's not coming over any more. Apparently , it only took him a few hours to get up to speed, and anyway he's far too busy. Basically, "go fuck yourself I'm working". Which is fair enough, I suppose, he's left this job, it's up to me to carry the can. Just this can's been fiddled with by two people.

I only wish someone had told me everything about this particular part of the job before I signed on. It's not that I can't do it, it's just that it pisses me off; this isn't a sysadmin's job. It's a data entry weenie's job. I'm having to let all kinds of stuff slide until this is over, and I haven't even got to the tough 'here is the raw data, we need it back in 2 hours in shiney tables' and somesuch.

I know I'm griping to the converted, but it helps for me to get this down. This afternoon is thusly dedicated to statistics and the use of Excel in all its myriad and arcane methods.

Oh yes, according to an out-of-date SETI@home page, the account I'm using is 3rd or 4th (depending on which stats (argh, stats) table you look at) best in the United Kingdom. Isn't that nice.

(Just had a visit from the AO. Wonderful human being that she is she's told people that I may or may not get the statistics done this year because I'm new to the game and have come in at a difficult time. So they may have to do without. Whew! The pressure's off, but I still want to get them done.)

[20:00] I'm tired. I've just worked from 14:00 to 20:00 without a break on these damned statistics. I know I don't have to, y'know, do them. I could just say "Sorry, they're just too damned hard for me this year." and take it easier (just data to enter). But Noooo, I have to burn myself out because I'm damned if this thing's going to beat me. I've done a lot of finiky stuff today, and solved a few mysteries, but the weirdest stuff is tomorrow, once I've rounded off the data entry for the first database.

Did I mention that I can't spend too much time on this first database as the data for the second and third ones has already started to come in.

SETI@home units: 95 requested, 224 returned
I'm running of things for the PFY to do while I'm working on these DoD. I've started a file called 'after the databases' which contains all the things I think of that I can't start now because they'd take too much time away from the DoD.

The girlfriend's first exam seemed to go reasonably well. Apparently one of the question's subjects wasn't covered in the lecture course. Dunno what's going to happen about that.

I input another few hundred data bits yesterday, fnished early and knocked off, fully intending to get home in time to watch Voyager. Damned if I didn't download a trial copy of Diskeeper4.0 and spend the evening speeding up my drives with some well needed defragmentation. Missed the beginning of Voyager, but was filled in by my friend.

Factoid #543: A pregnant goldfish is called a twit (and also a twat, apparently).

[10:40] Hmmm, just checked 'dmesg' apparently Frankenstein had 'Warning: unable to find swap-space signature' twice in its last bootup. A quick '/sbin/swapoff -a ; /sbin/mkswap /dev/hda3 ; /sbin/swapon -a' and everything seems fine. Just hope /etc/fstab wasn't lying and I've made / swap...

[19:10] No sooner do I think I'm on top of the Access part of the DoD than the Excel part rears its ugly head. Yes, they want statistics. Statistics by the bucket load. Statistics of this by that, this by the other and that by the other, given this. I hate this. Not only that but even though the DoD were badly written, they are nothing as compared to the horror of exporting sorted tables btween Access and Excel, doing =SUM(Xnn:Xnn) and the like. It may be easy to you, but it's as finiky as hell.

And I hate it.