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September's Journal
November's Journal

SETI@home units: 2431 requested, 2451 returned
[18:50] Sorry guys. Another short Journal entry. It's balancing up with the horrible long ones I've done early in the week.

Suffice to say, I've sorted out how to get the CDROM working on the linux box, been in contact with my pal Joe at Dr Solomon's about Management Console v2.5 and generally sorted out some luers LCD projector, which he never used in the end!. Slapper!

Anyway, I don't care, I'm off to have a life. Hope you do too.

SETI@home units: 2431 requested, 2451 returned
[19:25] Arse, nearly forgot to do this.

I've been fiddling with my RedHat 5.2 box all afternoon. Like I said, I got the CDROM working last night. Today I got the sound working... at the expense of the CDROM.

Fecking thing.

I'm tired. On the up side the UPS arrived today. Think I'll stick it in and go home.

SETI@home units: 2409 requested, 2423 returned
Oh no! Disaster. I went to the dentist this morning, a new funky one who plays music while he works (Prodigy mostly). Prognosis: top two wisdom teeth have to come out and I have to stop brushing my teeth so hard.

Arse. Looks like that might be happening on November 12, in the p.m.

[12:50] Quick bit of HTML and I'm getting up-to-date with the Whiteboard of Doom behind me. Did another VirusScan install today and managed to LART someone for having that bastard BBC Ticker thing running, slowing his machine down.

[18:10] Been fiddling with my linux boxes, trying to get updates for things like wu-ftpd. I was damned if I could get 2.6.0 to install. I figured out finally that it you use rpm -U rather than -i things actually work. Cue massive update frenzy on all the boxes. I can't believe I missed it.

I blame too much NT.

Oh yes, the NT box now seems to be stable as a rock, which is obscurely annoying. It's not going to stop me doing a complete and utter purge of the thing, just gives me more time to plan it and buy some kit.

I've been trying to load a module to allow me to access the cdu31a CD-ROM I've got on the old box that's going to be my pppd, unfortunately I have no idea how to append the base i/o and IRQ settings to the module on load. There's some docs that say you can only do it at boot time, but others make no such claim. Any advice would be useful.

[19:50] I appear to have solved it. I've stuck the insmod in /etc/rc.d/rc.local for now because it works. I'll do something more tidy later. Eject works too, even though /dev/cdu31a isn't the default device.

SETI@home units: 2409 requested, 2423 returned
It's been a day of two halves today, and no mistake.

Morning: I try rebooting the server in an attempt to deny the complete fallability of Windows NT Server. It crashes. The PFY comes in and I explain the problem, it still crashes.

Ina fit of pique I begin work on a magnum opus of longhand typing for installing a BDC for the domain and moving everything over to in in preparation for a nuking of the server (leaving us with no tape backup in the meantime) and a complete re-install (with SP5 and hotfixes from the beginning and a sensible partitioning of the hard drives).

Of course, this will mean setting up ARCserve NT from scratch, but that shouldn't be too hard (famous last words). Other than that, this time the machine will not have all kinds of useless crap reserved for luser workstations installed on it, for example, Themes will not be making an appearance, nor will the absolutely abysmal NT User Wizard and Client Agent for ARCserve. No, this install will consist of Windows NT Server 4.0 + SP5 + hotfixes selectri, ARCserve NT and Winzip.

No Netscape, no HP JetAdmin and no Norton fricking Utilities, nothing that's going to slow the thing down when booting, etc.

I could do with another SCSI drive, that'd be nice.

The idea is to install a BDC, install the networked printers on it, then, one evening, copy over the Roaming Profiles and User Directories, not that they use them much at the moment and alter the profiles to log in from the BDC. The next morning the PFY and I will go round and delete everyone's printers referencing the PDC and install identical ones shared from the BDC. Once all that's done we can promote the BDC (thus demoting the PDC) and remove it from the domain model. But not until everything is working as well as it'd able to under NT.

Hopefully this will leave us with a functioning PDC which serves login info, roaming profiles and acts as a printer spooler. Of course, for the duration there'll be no backups, but unless something really, really bad happens in the day or two there's no machine with a tape drive, I think we can cope.

At that point we'll reinstall the other machine and bring it back up. It'll become PDC again and serve roaming profiles, do the backups at night and store all the commonly required software and drivers, while the other machine will deal with user's network areas and do the Dr Solomon's Management Console.

Anyway, that was the morning.

Afternoon: The guy I sold my Playstation to for %pound;50 and a 24port hub came into day to pick up the Playstation (his previous one having had it's mod chip broken by his 13 month old son). As an NT sysadmin (of old) and ex-institution computer guy I thought I'd show him the problems with the server. I demonstrated the Management Console while I was in windows before chosing one of the log off options that causes it to BSoD.

It didn't. Nore did it on any of the three subsequent attempt to make it do so. You know how this works yourselves. The luser calls, says their machine is doing {foo}, you go round and it performs {bar} perfectly, time after time. Cue confused and embarassed luser.

Well that was me. All I can think of is that running the Console for the second time (I didn't have time to run it again after the first time last night as I was too busy installing Service Packs and hotfixes) bedded down something internally.

Stupid thing.

The rest of the day has been spent doing more on the Procedure, checking out the parts of the Management Console that I hadn't looked at, some HTML for the main pages and trying to figure out why RH5.2 won't accept any of the RPMs from the upgrades directory.

Oh yeah. Happy Birthday to Erin, owner of the domain name, hope you had a good night (-:

SETI@home units: 2404 requested, 2412 returned
[18:30] Fuck. The main admin NT Server now crashes every time I shut it down or reboot it. I'd been having a good day too.

Morning consisted of saying "Damn!" because I'd forgotten to bring in my Playstation and games for the person who was swapping a hub and fifty pounds for. Then I realised it was time to make sure everyone was up to date with anti-virus software and Service Pack (5). So I cobbled together the requisite hotfixes, downloaded the service pack and dug out the free CD from the sysadmin's meeting and the PFY and I went machine spotting.

Basically we started from the top of the building and worked down, tidying and installing machines as we went. As they were all Windows-type machines they tended to take a fair while. So long in fact, that I almosed miss my pal coming in with the hub for me to look at. It's sitting behind me now, I might see if I can get it in my bag and cart it home tonight.

Anyway, we've done pretty much half of the machines not on the admin network/domain, which means tomorrow is going to be the other half, and then planning when and how to do the constantly-in-use admin machines.

Once the PFY had gone home I got down to the slightly more fun things (helping the odd luser out aside). Try as I might I couldn't seem to get RedHat 6.1 to install on my bastard old home PC, so in the end I went with 5.2. It works, it's only for a pppd and some filesharing, nothing big or security problematic. Perhaps when we get a cable modem I'll either beef up the version/security or stick something better on.

What I've been waiting all day to do is what I'm doing now: Updating the admin network's NT PDC. First of all I put Dr Solomon/NAI's new management Server/Console thingy on, which seemed to go fine. It's at this point that things are a little hazy though.

I think I rebooted before I installed Service Pack 5. I should have done. That would have been the sensible thing to do, wouldn't it?

Anyway, now every time the NT goes into restart or powerdown, it BSoD's with something to do with the rdr.sys and dumps something approaching 94 pages of memory. Not good. Reapplying the Service pack hasn't helped. Nor have the hotfixes.

I'll roll back to 4 and see what happens. I can live with SP4.

[18:45] YEEEEEES! He does it again. I chose not to overwrite the uninstall directory containing the SP4 files when doing the second SP5 install so I now have a stable SP4 (I think) which I'll hotfix to buggery and back.

[19:08] I think it may be the hotfixes that caused the problems... I'm reinstalling SP4 from scratch top see what happens.

[19:20] SP4 reinstalled, after some false starts, it's shut down correctly. Now to test for shutting down and logging off actions... Which haven't worked.

Theoretically the shutting down and logging on as a new user shouldn't be used on the server as the only person to log on is the Administrator. If the shudown->power off function is unimpaired, well, I think I can go home anyway.

Hmmm, Weird Shit Happenings at BOFHcentral. After a reboot I log in and select 'Restart' which works. I think I'll try doing some stuff, then the same option. Then logging in and selecting 'Shutdown', then finally the same with 'Different User'.

This is what I think I hate the most about NT; its transient behaviour. I'm loath to blame Dr Solomon's because on the whole they write fairly solid code, but this looks a little suspect. I know I may have made some 'mistakes' (read: unwritten rule breaking) with the Service Pack and installing applications, but I've not seen this error on all of the SP5 and Virus Scan installs I've done today.

[19:42] So it's the 'Different User' thingy that's causing the problems. If I can reboot and shutdiwn the machine without it bluescreening, I think I've managed to save a little dignity.

SETI@home units: 2372 requested, 2380 returned
It's Friday isn't it?

That's reason enough to make this brief. I'm not sure if I mentioned that I took home 64Mb of RAM for the 486 I have at home and is going to become the hub of my home network. Well I did, only it takes 30pin SIMMS. I had the wrong type.

Which was nice.

On the bright side, I have a RH 6.1 CD (easiest to install on this beast), boot floppy and a network card. I also managed to delete the fucked up record in the FileMaker Pro database I was having problems with. Every time I looked at this record the app would freeze and I'd have to kill it. Well, we thought this was database corruption and tried to recover the file. First few times it wouldn't work.

I finally figured out why this morning. Not enough disc space. Recovering the file to a mapped drive worked fine. Only the database was still corrupted. As in the beginning. If the database was visible on the web server and someone accessed the recored, both machines would die. If the database window was minimised it would just return an empty record.

So even with the recovery version it still did it. I finally figured out that if I made the window small enough, I could get a small enough amount of it on screen to select it for deletion (you can't specify records to delete unless you can see them in the window for some stupid reason. So if you have a record which FileMaker can't show you without crashing, you can't delete it) without rendering the corrupted bit (an image).

I then just replaced the record with an identical blank version, and filled the data back in. Simple. All I need to do now is wait for the PFY to come in on Monday, stroke my ego and then replace this working (but old) version with a non-working (but more recent) version and let me do my magic on it again. Then she can carry on where I left off.

If you didn't understand that, then tough. Frankly I couldn't give a rat's testicles. You're too dumb to do my job (or too intelligent to cope without going mad, long-term) so get lost.

Well, I'm off now to install RedHat 6.1 on the beast, if I can. I just have to see if someone will part exchange my Playstation for an Allied Telesys 24-port managed hub and £50.00.

Oh yeah, you may have noticed I've tweaked the title GIF on the Journal pages. If you didn't, who cares anyway.

21/10/1999 (Retro-active)
Last of the retro-actives for a while I think. Anyway, I've got lots of news and web stuff to catch up on so I'll get on with this days events.

It was pissing down when I got up, pottered around the house until 09:00 so I could slope off to the venue of the meeting in plenty of time. Met up with Landlord/Unix Support bloke, a sysadmin from my old job (original location of the BOFHcam) and pals and we sat through some talks in the main auditorium of that part of the institution on VirusScan, accounts packages, net networking breakthroughs and some abortion of an LDAP database/smartcard horror which may succeed in dividing people down the middle. Luckily the people from Unix Support were there to inject some humour into the proceedings. I wish I knew enough to work there.

We broke for coffee and biscuits and free McAfee Total Defence Suite CDs (always useful). There was more talking afterwards including a fairly funny image of a sysadmin trying to demonstrate his web pages with IE4/5 and not being able to get through to his site. There followed some really terrible information on the new Data Protection Act which might scupper the BOFHcam's content at some point in the future, more on this in time.

Lunch was free, gratis and for nothing, we all ate big, expecting to spend a short afternoon lounging around listening to other people doing work. The first order of business was a breif note to say that the reason the web site wasn't able to be contacted was the there had been a total power loss on one of the sites.

My site.

I left. At speed.

You may have noticed the BOFHcam went dead around 12:20 my time and came back sometime close to 13:20 on the BSoD. I arrived sometime around 14:10 and had everything running again fairly well by 14:30 I think. The PFY had done sterling work and I told her to come in late the next day.

My primary NT systems seem to have survived two total powercuts without any problems now. I'm beginning to worry that I've used up all my luck for the next millenia. Strange how it can take total power failure, but when I moved the machines to the new office I had to restore the entire registry on one of the servers after a normal powerdown.

I really need to get the UPS replaced.

Anyway, I got back to the meeting in time for the host of the meeting to begin his talk on fault tolerant systems and backup procedures. Now most people in the room were going to all, if not more that this guy about RAID, hot-swapping and backing up. But he goes on and on and on on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and keeps going for so long that people begin to leave (which pissed him off no end). He begins to outline, and then go into excrutiating detail about a RAID system which, although you can buy the parts for from commercial manufacturers he'll provide the RAID controller (fits in a 5.25 inch bay with a front panel) and support. This sets off warning bells in my head (and many other people's from the look of things).

I asked with an air of genuine curiosity what exactly he was pulling here? His own commercial venture or selling on for another manufacturer? No, he was just providing his skills to other people. This whole thing didn't sit right.

He was pracically forced to break for afternoon tea and was seen angrily gesticulating on the corner to an IT liason person (probably about why people weren't staying). When I and my friends re-entered the auditorium there were about eleven people (out of a day's start of roughly fifty people) left. Over the next hour this was reduced to seven as he took us through what basically amounted to a product push on some backup software that came from America and only he seemed to be using. First of all it was nice a general; in fact too general. He told the remaining people how to back up. Something everyone in the room needed to know how to do before actually getting the jobs they were in.

Then he began telling us exactly how this one piece of software worked, in mind-numbing detail. I'll skip over the rest of the embarassment caused by having to sit through it while people slipped away (their footsteps echoing loudly, his voice pausing as they made the long trip up the stairs), the direct questions posed by some remaining sysadmins as to why the CEO of the backup software company was coming to see this guy, and why we could, if we wished, purchase this software through him.

When he popped up a Powerpoint slide (did I mention he had to split his talk into three Powerpoint files because of their size, AND the links he's put in didn't work) proclaiming that his part of the institution would provide support (in direct contravention of it's charter/reason for being/etc.) someone spoke up and asked if a) his superiors knew about this "'cos they could get really nasty, very quickly if they didn't know" and b) was he getting any kickbacks from this?

The speaker looked a riled and frankly, in my humble opinion, guilty as hell, and said no. Things wound down after that and we left, gratefully (all seven of us) at 17:10, with an estimated finish time of 15:45.

Can we say Corporate Whore?

SETI@home units: 2361 requested, 2360 returned
The little eight-way hub I thought I had turns out to have been a terminal server thingy. You know, one of these things. Useless for my little soon-to-be home network.

It was looking like quite a nice day today. Ease myself back into the swing of things, cobble together 32Mb of ram for my linux box, an ISA and PCI network card for some computers and a small 171Mb HDD to take the load off the 325Mb main linux drive, but then, oh no! Disaster. One of the two main FileMaker Pro databases seems to have eaten itself. Rather badly. We have, like, backups from two days ago (very little has changed, except that the PFY's been updating images with new, cleaner crisper versions, no additions or deletions), but that's not the point.

I'm trying the 'Recovery' function which, according to the third-party paper tome that the guy before me bought works very well, except on this author's largest and most important file.

Guess what? This is the largest and most important file we have in this format. I'm on my second 'Recover', the first one terminated with a non-specific error. If the worst comes to the worst I'll leave a note for the PFY to restore the old version to the machine and start again, saving, quitting and backing up every so often.

Tomorrow, like I mentioned is Sysadmin's Gripe Session or the day we all get together and look at all the toys we need to ask for in the coming year.

What do you think of the hair?

19/10/1999 (Retro-active)
What a day! Got up when the girlfriend did as there was no way I was going to get back to sleep with the amount of time I had before the plumbers/landlord arrived. Managed to potter around getting things looking half-way decent before I looked out of the window and saw tht the plumber was actually already waiting outside before 9:00am. Frankly, I was in shock. Up till now he's not even managed to arrive, let alone early.

So I let him and his mate in and they decided to get to work, rather than waiting for the landlord to arrive.

(let me explain what there were here to do. First of all, we have a crap shower in the place. The landlord knows this and has been trying to get it replaced. Unfortunately the head on the hot water is abysmal and the pipework leading to the bath taps can't be used for various reasons. What the plumbers were here to do was run some new pipes from the immersion heater to the power shower they were fitting. Thay'd been round once and stamped on the floor and said, "Hmmmm, chipboard, we're going to have to take lots of floor up." So, I'd shifted all the stuff I still had in boxes around to give them room to do so. Then they'd never turned up, so I'd been stuck with piles of boxes for weeks.

Now Read On...)

So upstairs they go and pull back the carpet. "Oh dear," says them, "you've got solid concrete floors and walls. We didn't notice that. You can't have the pipes in that, they'll have to be surface mounted." I could have torn his legs off. Why the fricking hell didn't he notice this earlier?

Anyway, to cut a fraught story short, the landlord and I figured out that as it was a heated power shower, we could run a cold water pipe (much better pressure) from a T-piece leading from the sink's feed, under the bath side and up to the shower. This would solve the water side of things. We had to settle for some trunking around the top edge of the walls for the 30amp power supply.

While all this was going on, the double bed and the futons arrived. Julian (landlord) and I had to help the delivery men shift five very heavy boxes into the place and once they'd gone, shift them upstairs.

We had planned to assemble stuff this afternoon but I had to go get my hair cut (as you might have noticed). As I was about to leave I got a call from work (on my day off, for gods' sake!) asking me advice on shifting computers. I suppose I brought it on myself by telling people they were never to move machines, only me.

Anyway, got things done (including going along to a ballroom dance lesson with the girlfriend) and eventually get to sleep in a bed, for the first time since the middle of September.

I'm building some more stuff this evening.

SETI@home units: 2320 requested, 2297 returned
Before anyone asks, I was attacked by a homicidal piece of bacon fat on Saturday which spattered all over my face. One glob landed on my forehead (exhibited thus) another spitting amount impacted on my glasses, right over the place occupied by my right iris. Had I been of 20/20 vision, I probably wouldn't be now.

Anyway, I'm tired. I seem to be more sleepy today that I was on Friday afternoon. Hopefully though I can a) get tomorrow off and sleep in b) be there when the plumbers come round (they'd better) c) be there for the bed and futons to arrive and d) get my sodding hair cut, finally. This should make me a happier person.

This is also a short week for another reason. On Friday it's the Institution's meeting of minds for the sysadmins. It's the annual bitch-fest, tech-meet and chance to take a whole day away from our departments etc. to get together, have some food and drink and see what other people have been up to in their own domains.

I'm expecting to either be the youngest person there or at least the youngest person at my grade within the institution. Which'll be nice.

[17:50] Well, I've done about 500Kb's worth of HTML it seems today (mostly typed, some autogenerated and cleaned up). I've managed to get the day off tomorrow, but the PFY'll be here in the morning until she heads off for her 'Advanced HTML' course. I'll be hopefully getting a power shower installed and a double bed and two futons. With luck and a decent modem connection I may even do a log updated from home. Won't that be nice?

SETI@home units: 2320 requested, 2297 returned
Another boring day in which I've failed to do anything of any use. I didn't go to karate, and I don't think I will be at all. I dunno, I don't think I can face going to a club that does things so different to the place I used to go. Shoddy excuse, but I got my fun and experience out of it for four years, perhaps it's time to do something else.

Thing is, I don't want to let go of what I know, but I can't keep it up without a decent learning environment.

[17:00] One brief bit of excitement in an otherwise dull day: Adding another TCP/IP connected printer to the network.

That's how exciting today has been. Still, it's the weekend now.

SETI@home units: 2311 requested, 2287 returned
Looks like SETI have screwed up, considering the last few day's results.

Today has been a bit of a non-day really. The Chubb guy came to fit the new mag-lock. Turns out the broken one was caused by water damage from the building. Luckily he decided that he want' going to charge us £250 and said that if it happens again he will.

Other than that I've battled with trying to get APC Corp. to send a trade-in UPS for the one that's broken here. I won't bore you with the details because they're boring. Luckily there seems to be no ill-effects from yesterday's ADT inspired disaster. Except his permanent limp and the lost of sight in one eye.

Such a shame.

I have to decide whether to try to get to karate tonight. I don't know what it is, this lethargy that's struck me in the last year or so. Perhaps it's a new club that doesn't do things the way my old one did (whole sessions devoted to kumite, kata or basics, not mixed in together), or the lack of a proper Sensei for most of the sessions. If someone reminds me I'll try and remember to tell you if I go tonight tomorrow.

SETI@home units: 2297 requested, 2297 returned
It's been an arse-end of a day so far, only saved from being a pile of crap by the communications I've been having with one or two people at RedHat.

Here's the gen.

Arrive in the morning, get handed a pile of paper to HTMLise as soon as possible. I file it somewhere forgettable. Luckily the backups have gone without a hitch for the first time in weeks. I sit down. I try to connect outside of the institution, no joy. I wait and try to reduce the pile of work on my desk by pushing it closer to the bin, perhaps some of it will fall into it while I'm not there.

The Chubb guy arrives and confirms that the 2 week old mag-lock has indeed bitten the big one. He looks apologetic and orders a new part (to arrive tomorrow) and when I threaten to slam his head in the lift door, he also agrees to fit it tomorrow too. I subside and let him go with some bruised testicles.

After a few minutes in the office I'm asked to deal with some login problems, luckily the people I have to help are slim, naturally blonde Spanish women with low smooth voices and figures that could have been envisioned by Michaelangelo.

After that, no matter what it was, things were sure to go downhill. They do.

I'm asked to plug in another phone, luckily they want to use the same number as another line in place, which I happen to have already from the last shift around, which gets me muchos brownie points. Unfortunately the other phone requires the assistance of the B Telecomms Engineer FH, who happens to be a mate of mine. I fire off an email and leave the ball in his court.

During the move upstairs for me I had to leave behind the ADT security system for the room. Today was the day the guy came to move it. Unfortunately, once he's got the thing disconnected and moved upstairs he finds he has to keep a battery attached to the traling wires in the old room to stop the external bell from going off (12 hour battery life on that beastie) as the anti-tamper circuits have somehoe become engaged. As he's sectioned 8'ed not to be able to lift heavy things such as ladders (we don't have one anyway) he can't get to disconnect the bell until his mate arrives. Marvellous.

"It's O.K." says he, "I can still power up the stuff in your new room." So there I am, happily typing away as the NT server serve and the web server webs and the FileMaker Pro stuff... does whatever twisted things it does, when suddenly *crump* {fading whine of fragile NT machines}...

. . .

"Oh. Was that me?" Says he from across the room. "I appear to have blow the fuse for the room while trying to get a spur."

I consider immolation with a zippo but instead settle for the more subtle torture of dashing round the offices telling the secretaries that the ADT guy has stopped them from printing and emailing. I don't think he'll make it out alive...

Anyway, the power's back on now and I've just received an email from a sysadmin at an outlying part of the institution bleating that one of his users has had to have a 'special hole' poked in his all-damned firewall to get to the FileMaker Pro database. I send back a reply referencing the IANA port-numbers listing and hope he gets the message that causing grief for me today is a Bad Idea.

Theoretically all that needs to go wrong now is actual physical bodily harm to myself and the day will be complete.

How was your day?

SETI@home units: 2287 requested, 2266 returned
Hmmm. A litany of small disasters today. Biggest of which is the failure of the mag-lock on one of the swipe card access doors. Which means I've had to call out the B Chubb Guy FH to get it fixed, even though we only just installed it.

I bought a P100 today to upgrade the aging NT Server that the lusers have to romp on. Unfortunately the heatsink is one with a fan attached and it won't reach the power cables I have due to Dell's old-style motherboard placement (it's an SP5100-2). I got as far as installing the chip and getting the heatsink popped into place before spending a fruitless thirty minutes trying to re-arrange the power cables to get enough slack on something.

I've managed to roll back to the original state it was in, not counting the few fraught minutes when the HDD refused to work because one of the power connectors is dead. I'll get the Institution to put up for some extension cable and the price of the chip (£15) and then see what happens.

I tried a dry-run-back-out-before-altering-anything and have to figure out which HAL to use. AST Manhattan SMP, C-type and Compaq 100% compatible aren't anything I know about, and certainly not at 19:00 on a Tuesday evening.

Oh yeah, I got RedHat 6.1 installed correctly, finally. I've taken a brief first glance at Samba. It looks... promising, shall we say.

SETI@home units: 2275 requested, 2257 returned
Damn. The UPS looks to be totally broken. It's what happens when you see a 'full battery' light and then simulate a 'loss of power' with a quick yank to the power cord and the thing turns off. Seeing as it was bought in 1996, I don't think I can get it repaired under warranty.

I have a spare machine. I think it's time to try RedHat 6.1.

[18:25] Well, the GUI front in it ia bit of a disaster. They've done away with Fdisk from that approach (some kind of Disk Druidy thing) and if you get the partition table wrong you're stuff as it won't re-read. I'm onb my second install now and may go with a text-only attempt if this doesn't work.

NFS installs over two hops is quite zippy though.

SETI@home units: 2244 requested, 2215 returned
[9:20] The number of stupid people allocated to this city is enormous.

As I was cycling and walking home last night (a distance of 2.33 miles) I saw 18 people cycling at full speedon narrow pavements and 9 people cycling down the wrong way on one way pedestrianised streets. I even shouted at one guy to get off, repeatedly. Turns out he was foreign. He stopped looked at me and asked me if I knew where the hospital was, so I told him. It was about ten minutes that I thought he might be trying to issue some kind of a weak-assed threat. Nonce.

The plumbers were supposed to come this morning to fit the shower and plumb in the washing machines. Did they turn up? No. Early morning tidying the house and moving stuff all over for nothing.

The landlord rang to say he'd managed to get them to say they might come and at least do the washer around midday (he's going to be there for that, if it happens), and the shower has been rebooked for Monday. Ha.

[12:38] Just got off the phone with the landlord. We apparently have a working washing machine and waste pipe now. Which is nice. The shower is still set for Monday, aledgedly. I've been doing web page updates all morning and frankly am glad the day's been this quiet.

[17:05] Messed up my installation of Delta Force trying to upgrade it with the upgrade thingy. Must remeber not to do that again and to try and rescue the saved games on there. I'm impressed with the demo for Delta Force 2, especially the fact that it'll still run on Windows NT and it's woefully under-developed DirectX 3.

Well, the rescue seems to have worked.

SETI@home units: 2232 requested, 2207 returned
[17:30] Look, if anyone has ever used/programmed FileMaker Pro before I'll give major kudos and mentions to you on here if you email me and give me hand with this DoD I'm working on.

I can't believe this mixture of HTML, CDML and FMP internals that I'm being presented with. It seems impossible to create anything but the simplest of simple searches through the web interface. Anything else seems to make it panic and fall over.

Now I'm just pissed off.

[18:00] No wonder I can't do a search on ranges of dates. The stupid fucking MORON has stored them as text, and even then not all the same format.

For fuck's sake! This is what I expect from lusers and subhumans with low beetling brows with no communication skills, not a syadmin who seemed to be able to hold a place like this together most of the time.

Sod it, I'm going home.

SETI@home units: 2222 requested, 2198 returned
Although today seems to have been less frenetic (I sent the PFY to do the induction talk to the new lusers), I've still had to walk through sending email attachments with Eudora. Patch in two PCs, deal with the technophobe's barbed comments (*slap* *slapslapslapslap*), hand out passwords (sealed envelopes) and generally do the stuff that needed doing. To be honest, I think things are going to calm down for a little while.

I'm still working on the web-accessible database, apart from the godsawful search mechanism inside the web front end, no proper way to logically and sections of the search between dates. FileMaker? Sure, it'll make files, but can you find them? No way.

The plumber is coming to plumb in the washer on Friday morning, there's furniture arriving all weekend from IKEA etc. and the bed/futons are due to arrive 'before the 15th'. So all that's left is to make sure we're in when things need to arrive, get the plumbers to drill a hole in the ceiling so we can pipe the cable TV upstairs with the telephone and get them to leave some trunking so we can run a few Cat-6 cables round the place. What with a 'spare' 100Mb/sec (where 'b' equals bit)ten port hub sitting spare here, things should be set for the arrival (eventally) of the cable modem system and a pppd in the shape of my old 486DX2-66.

SETI@home units: 2214 requested, 2187 returned
[16:35] It's been another hard shaft of a day here at BOFHcentral. As many of you will have noticed, I've not been in the driving seat all day. There's lusers to deal with, 109 Mac Word files to add .doc extensions to and copy to PC formatted disks (the PFY had gone home), tens of small but time consuming task to do for people and desks to move.

Let me tell you about the desks. We've ordered some new desks for people. Of course, no-one but me moves the computers sitting on the old desks. If there's only one thing I've managed to get people to understand it's that only I and I alone am allowed to move computers around.

So anyway, the new desks arrived today so I went round downing the machines and moving them to precarious places while the new things were built. Once they're in place, I power the machines back up again and walk away. Then someone discovers that they've all got the wrong desks. Not the wrong style or the wrong colour, no. The sizes are very slightly wrong. So back come the installation men (we share a few similar type dark words about end-users) and I have to move the computers back, replace the desks and then move them back to where they were.

Some time soon I'll have to do the whole thing again.

Now, let me tell you about last night/this morning. I put the computers back in the spanking new library workrooms last night, plugged them in and added them back into the backup job. Before I went home I took a quick trip back to make sure the lusers hadn't powered them down (power socket, not shutting them down). Everything was dead. I could have torn their still beating hearts out.

Then I realised that the lights didn't work either. There was no power in the library at all. None. Shit.

I went home.

This morning I found out from the Building Management people that when you turn off the lights from behind the library desk, not only do the lights go off, but also all the power to the wall sockets, and quite possibly the hubs in the library comms room. It's a fire risk see, having running computers, sitting on metal tables in the middle of concrete rooms with fire retardant carpet tiles. They demonstrate by turning the lights on and off rapidly, causing the Win95 machines behind him to spasm and beep alarmingly. I swear that the next time he gets in the lift, it's going to a long time before he gets out again.

Anyway, it meant that I had to stick signs all over the computers and doors and light switches to make sure that the luser library staff turn off the machines properly before they go and kill the HDDs.

There's much much more, but frankly, I don't want to make you jump in front of the next bus you see in sympathy.

More of the same tomorrow!

SETI@home units: 2202 requested, 2176 returned
[17:32] Gah! What a godwaful day. First day of the new session and there's like a thousand and one things they want me to do as sysadmin.

Is it really my job to help people work out how to print to substandard labels? It seems so. Is it my job to move people's computers around and patch in new sockets, get phone working correctly and generally be *nice* to people. Apparently so.

Jeez, if it wasn't bad enough, I tried to install Mech Warrior 3 over the weekend and found that I was missing IFORCE2.DLL. Don't ask me why, but the only game I could find that used it was Carmaggedon 2. Needless to say, I got someone to email me it this morning.

I found I was missing some other .dll files as well, from my recent DirecX 7.0 final installation. Turns out you can only get these from a full install of IE5. So I got the requisite .cab and ripped them out.

Best thing I did today was download the demo for Delta Force 2. Man, does it look good. I've been trying to put off playing it until day's end, which it is now. So I'm off to play it.

SETI@home units: 2148 requested, 2128 returned
Welcome to October. Miserable, isn't it?

I know I come in in shorts because I get hot while cycling, but it shouldn't be this cold in the office. Even with nine machines and a laser printer the temperature was around 18 degrees when I got in this morning. Not cold really, but when you're sitting still...

Managed to get some HTML done yesterday. The database I'm working on with the PFY is nearing completion and it looks like another job well done by the team. There was a message sent down from on high late yesterday. NAI Associates are dropping Dr Solomon's AVTK from April 2000. Or course, this is just as I've got all the machines up-to-date with the momst recent version and everything. Fuckwits. Luckily, we've signed a license agreement for VirusScan. From the looks of things VirusScan is a bit more functional than the AVTK and comes with all kinds of nifty (for NT) tricks which you used to have to use the Management Edition (v1.51) to do with the AVTK. I won't list all the benefits here except the fact that VS will remove old versions of the AVTK on install, can be remotely installed and doesn't need to be upgraded each month, instead you just auto-connect for a new .DAT file. Stunning. Should save the PFY *cough* me, a good few hours work every month or so.

All I have to do now is spring the installs on the administration. The sight of a little box saying "This machine will be shutdown for reboot in 60 seconds" will cause a few heart attacks, I think.