[11:40] Weird day today. Only exists roughly once every four years. Surprises
all round on all kinds of things. I won't excite you with the details as I
can't be bothered. The DVD player is either a) going to be delivered to work
today, b) be delivered to work tomorrow, or c) be delivered to home at some
point tomorrow morning. Either way, I should have it by tomorrow
evening. Having given the AO a new PIII 500 machine yesterday she's as happy as
a clown and I'm doing better in the brownie points league after my massive
shortfall caused by the time it took me to mention the PFY's requirement for a
[17:40] Got ctwm running finally on the FreeBSD box (Which also serves as the
dial-up terminal). There are some 'differences' between SunOS 4.1.4 (the last
place I ran it) and FreeBSD, but I'm beginning to get the idea. Makes for
wonderful recovery from work; playing with a window manager. Almost as good as
sanding and varnishing Velux skylight window frames.
[08:50] I joined the Naval Reserves for the weekend. This can be the only
logical explanation for just how short
my hair is this morning. I asked for No.3 on the side and the normal No.4 on the
top. I get the feeling they didn't hear the second part of my instructions.
It's a bastard of a day outside and the rain's gone straight through to my head,
rather than bouncing off, as normal. The three further PCs I ordered arrived on
Friday while I was at home undergoing Recovery. Still no sign of the replacement
unit and the server I ordered.
The librarian's going to start getting twitchy this week, so I'm firing off a
DEFCON 4 email to Dell after I finish this entry.
[12:30] My old office is going to be used to test the new accounting software
for the institution as a whole, in a few weeks. This means the Unix people and
lots of BOFHs will descend on my building with all manner of hardware and
software configurations to see if they can sniff accounting data going back and
forth to servers in Central.
I guess I should spruce up the network, clear off all the services I'm not
needing and give the hubs a lick of paint.
[17:40] Woohoo! Apparently my DVD player has shipped. Problem is, I don't know
if it's going to arrive tomorrow, or on Wednesday. If it's Wednesday then the
girlfriend (who's on lates) can be in to sign for it. Otherwise (if it arrives
on Tuesday or Thursday) I'll have to ring them and get it delivered here. Or ask
them to pick a day and take it off work.
[14:40] I'm in repose today. In fact I'm recovering, totally. Yes, the new
monitor arrived this morning at 08:55. I installed it and the monitor.inf disk
and have it set at a cautious 1280x1024 in preparation for 1600x1200 tomorrow. I
hung around at home with my feet up waiting for the telecoms people to turn up
and fit the new line. At exactly 12:00 I rang the business office and
complained. An hour later to wide boys turned up and started work. After they'd
finished the brief work inside they went out to do the connections on the outside
of the building. After a few minutes they called up to me. One of them had
managed to partially free a small great tit caught in what looked like white hair
or very fine fishing line. I went down with some scissors and manaed to cut most
of it away, but still leaving the poor birds claws wrapped up in the stuff. As
we rang round for the local RSPB number it escaped and flew off. Hopefully the
amount of stuff I'd been able to cut off would be enough to see it through to
pecking the rest off itself.
Anyway, a few minutes of work later and they wandered off in their van to patch
me in at the local cluster. They came back, realised they'd labeled the double
socket (in place of the single presentation there used to be) back to front, tore
off the sticker, did the test calls and went. First thing I did (to my shame)
was come upstairs and dial the modem with a phone and whistled down the line.
Good, it works.
I dialed from the modem, making sure to add the special prefix and here I am.
This is the first remote Journal update in what I hope will be a long series of
days when I don't go into the office...
[09:40] Hmmm. Got home last night and plugged in the new 21" monitor. Perfect
picture, a little bit of pincushioning and away I went. Ten minutes later,
*tink* and the monitor dies in exactly the same way. Bugger.
This monitor is as dead as the last one, only more so. If that's possible. The
following hours (well into the night) were spent with me frantically trying to
figure out what exactly was going wrong. And more importantly, could Iiyama
screw me over for a new one.
Given that a) I can run my 14" monitor fine (albeit at 640x480) with the same
power cable all night without incident, b) modern monitors should simply say
'out of range' if the card is giving it something it can't handle, c) the rest
of the computer has been unaffected by possible power surges (likewise
everything else plugged into the wall sockets), d) as far as I can recall I was
running the monitor within its stated limits, and e) this shouldn't happen to
me, I was understandably pissed.
I came in this morning really worried that I'd be shelling out for a new monitor
and Iiyama would be a bunch or arses. I composed a fairly good email and faxed
it at the same time. A few minutes later I called as well. Iiyama's exchange
said I was "in a queuing system and would be ans-" and then I was through. It
seems to me that Iiyama don't get many complaints.
I spoke to the woman on the far end who stopped me after ten seconds to inform me
that she was in the process of replying to my email and that she had my fax in
front of her. It's my guess that Iiyama don't have more than two people running
the compliants service. This strikes me either as incredibly arrogant or simply
that it's very rare for their monitors to break. I'd like to think the latter.
I know I've never had a problem before now with them. Anyway, she said that the
head of Technical Services was going to look at my original monitor himself to
diagnose the problem. The head? Blimey, they must be lazing about in
the repair shop there. I'm impressed. I assume they don't get much work. She
went on and said they hadn't had the monitor back from the courier service they
use yet and it would be with them some time today or tomorrow morning. This
means they won't be able to send it to me until some time next week. I've
arranged to get my original monitor back, repaired, if they can. I stressed that
I thought it was either the power or VGA cable that was at fault, rather than
anything else, and she said she'd send me replacements in the post today.
Which is nice.
So, I have to use my 14" monitor in 640x480 until early next week. This isn't
such a hardship and should allow me to really make sure that it isn't the
computer/video card/power supply that's causing the problems. Unless this old
monitor is more robust in dealing with the power and signals that it gets than
I'd like to publically praise and recommend Iiyama for all your monitor needs.
Their service, staff and technical support are all top notch, all apart from
their monitors being fucking wonderful pieces of kit. If it wasn't for (what I
think is) a dodgy VGA cable I doubt I would have been as impressed with their
professionalism. Top Marks to Iiyama UK.
In other news, Techtronics have 'Confirmed' my 725D order, I'm still waiting on
a reply from Dell about a missing server and a wrong order that was delivered,
and the PFY is doing more good work on user and technical manuals for the DoD.
I am so glad she's here to do this stuff. It'd kill me at the
moment, with the other stuff that's going on.
I don't know if I mentioned that the girlfriend took her brother back to
Paddington Station in London yesterday, so we're back to a two-person household
again. He's a nice kid, but it doesn't half make you wish for peace and quiet
every so often!
[10:20] Just been called back by Iiyama. The woman on the phone (same person)
said she'd spoken to the Head of Technical Services and basically he was going
to send someone to pick up my second broken monitor and deliver a BRAND SPANKING
NEW 22" VISIONMASTER PRO 510 in its place!
Now, I believe I've been having some problems lately, and on the whole Life owes
me a few favours, but I think this balances the books quite nicely. If I
believed in a higher power (other than myself over the users) I'd thank it.
I'm slightly dazed. Perhaps sending the fax on headed Institution paper was a
good idea after all...
[17:30] Decided to brave taking my bike to Karate again. I'm going to lock it
to something and away from the quiet street it's normally on. I'll
lock it outside the swimming pool I think. I sight of a security camera. It
means a few minute's walk back to the gym, but I'd prefer that to being without
bike again. I just took some shots of the new bike with the digital camera.
Might put them up in the gallery if they're good enough. Karate's at 20:00, so
you've got me until 19:30.
[11:00] D'oh. Classic mistake. I realised last night while I was cleaning my
teeth why the funky scripts I'd written to powerdown the other servers from one
copy of PowerChute for NT hadn't and wouldn't ever work with the curt state of
play. To allow signals to get to each computer when the power has failed to the
building you require hubs which also take their power from a UPS. I don't have
I think I'll buy a small UPS and install it in the hub cabinet (plenty of
ventilation) and set the scripts to run after 10 minutes rather than low battery
on the server's UPS as I have no idea how much juice four hubs will take. Let's
face it, if the power's off for more than 10-15 minutes it's probably going to be
off for at least an hour, which is more than the server's UPS has capacity to
The girlfriend rang about 09:05, the monitor has arrived. It's another 21"
VisionMaster Pro 502. I was hoping they'd gone end of line and they'd replace
it with one of the 22" jobbies. No such luck. I also thought it was Thursday
today, so I have my Karate gi with me. Gah.
[09:00] Arse! Arse and Feck! Last night I was happily working on downloading
some SETI units and clicking about the place when *blink*, my 21" Iiyama monitor
(Vision Master Pro 502) went blank. I shut down the machine, I think, and power
cycled everything. All I got was a high pitched squealing sound and a narrow
image down the centre which looked like the bootup BIOS info curled round on
itself, cylinder-like. Then that vanished too.
Now all I get is the squeal and a blank screen. This happened at 18:10 last
night. Iiyama's VisionCare Line closes at 18:00. I rang them this morning and
was told they could deliver a replacement (note: not new) monitor some
time between 09:00 and 17:30 tomorrow (Wednesday). Luckily the girlfriend can
be in the house until 15:00 (at which time, if it hasn't arrived, I'll go home)
so that should be O.K.
The phone company rang just now. They can install the new line to the house on
Friday morning between 9:00 and 12:00, so that's the morning taken care of; I can
arrive in work late and leave early for Friday Reasons.
I bought £36 worth of locks for the new bike yesterday lunchtime. With
luck and a following wind it should be delivered today. Techtronics have
confirmed my order as of this date. Half of a Dell order has arrived, there's an
error in one already here and I have two laptops to set up. It's all happening
here at the moment.
Just got my paycheque for payment into my account on Thursday. Still no sodding
Y2K bonus. Given the expenditure I've had this month, I was hoping to have the
extra cash to help soften the blow, bit no, some fucker's forgotten to add it on
to the amount. I've emailed the AO for confirmation on who's fucked up.
[10:00] TV arrived around midday on Saturday. It got a little scratched getting
it up the stairs, but nothing noticable really. Last time I had a TV delivered
it was at 09:00 so I spent the entire morning looking out of the window and not
being able to leave the house to get things done. Assembling the stand was fun,
Although I did manage to mess up a part of it, although again this isn't
The girlfriend had gone out for the day to pick up her brother who's staying with
us until Wednesday. He's young and has been ordered not to
touch items such as the PC or the television. They're visiting London most days
so I should on hand when he's at home. I had a spot of embarassment once the
delivery people had left and the stand was assembled: I couldn't life the thing
onto the stand on my own. This television weighs in at 65.5kg. I could lift
a box that heavy given time, but not something of the dimensions of the Wega. I
had to wait until 19:00 when the girlfriend came home to get it put upon its
new home. And very good it looked too.
Naturally I worked out how much I was willing to spend on a DVD player and bought
one from Techtronics this morning.
With the £50 excess on the new bike from the insurance people (which
incidently I have to buy new locks for this lunchtime) which is being delivered
to me at work tomorrow and the Y2K bonus I figured I could go for the Sony
In other news, I ordered another three PCs. I can't believe the Custodian of the
building is going to be having a P-III 500Mhz machine on his desk that only runs
email. Perhaps I'll give him one of the ones from here and save the new one for
I hate Mondays, they always leave me with a bad taste in the mouth. Possibly
it's because the little terror wakes up at 05:00 and demolishes the kitchen
looking for breakfast-type things. That would do it.
[10:17] Damn. I just overwrote the Saturday Journal entry. Anyone who has it
cached and can email it to me would be mentioned in dispatches. Fool.
[12:40] Going for an early lunch to buy some bike locks and then have some food.
After that I'm on an Access course in town because I can, and it'll mean I can
legitimately go home at 17:00. With luck no-one will email me while I'm on the
course and require me to go back to work.
[10:40] Yeah, sorry about the short entry yesterday, there wasn't so much on, as
lots of things kept me away from the machine. Walked in yesterday because there
was no way I was leaving the girlfriend's bike at the train station while I went
to London. This was a good idea anyway as I got a lift there and back with the
landlord and his boss, who also came.
Toy Story 2 was excellent. No spoilers here though. Not one of you found in
Garfunkel's where one of our friends footed the £130 bill. What it must be
like to earn money like that. Still, I don't work in London, thank god.
People are ordering PCs here left and right. I need to get the new
administration server ordered very soon. I have this horrible sinking feeling
that in a few weeks/days/hours something is going to go horribly, horribly wrong.
There was a lot of traffic on an internal computer people list yesterday. There
was a luser request for the ability to plug in laptops anywhere and have valid
IP details whenever they wanted. Most of us couldn't list the dozens of reasons
why this would be a bad idea and difficult to implement. Unfortunately there
seemed to be more than just computer people on the list and we got into a bit of
a 'discussion' before things died down. Someone's only now suggested we turn
from laptops to lapdancers. I don't know how this will go down with the female
members of the list.
[12:00] Oh, the big news? It can wait.
[17:00] More tomorrow, short entry due to lots being done and a trip to Toy
Story 2 in the offing. Big new tomorrow on the BOFHcam front.
[17:00] Well blow me if the television is going to be delivered on Saturday.
I've double-stressed the access difficulties in getting the television upstairs.
I only hope they're prepared for the narrowness. There's no way this TV is not
Set up another laptop this afternoon. I guess one a day will see the last two
done before the the end of the week. It's nice to have them running with all the
right software in all the right places, ready to use, and then packed neatly away
in their carry cases and locked in my cupboard, so no-one actually does. If I
had my way, no-one ever would.
The morning was hectic. Apparently, the main NT server went unresponsive at
08:47 this morning, the backup job also died last night (probably mid-backup),
which leads me to believe the crash was well before the time stated in the log.
It was pingable up until I power-cycled it at 09:00. Weird shit, standard NT.
One person lost their profile, no big loss.
The papers for the new telephone line came in and I and the nice accounts clerk
filled them in, got the AO to sign them and posted them off, first class of
course. On a slight downer it seems that without some funky kit and an ISDN
or digital equivalent phone line into the FreeBSD box, I can't get a 56k line
running. Maximum of 33.6kbps without the kit. I mean, it would have been 56k
downstream from the server/LAN and 33.6k upstream from my home box. Now, the
downstream speed's been cut to 33.6k, shame really. Given I've got free dialup
costs I can set off big downloads and just watch telly/go to bed. I do have the
option of taking up the institution's own 56k service, but that costs
money and I don't want to drain the coffers too much. Not yet, anyway.
Oh yes, I'm leaving semi-early tomorrow. I'm going to London with some people to
see the late-night digital presentation of Toy Story 2. I will be
signing autographs if you happen to be in the theatre before or after the
presentation or in Leicester Square near Garfunkel's at 18:45. Linux
distribution or Solaris CDs (bring your own marker pens), or anything else geek
related. Photos by appointment only.
[10:40] Last night was nice. Left work at 18:45 and got to the restarant with
two minutes to spare. Went in and had a great meal. Starter was king prawns
with 'fire sauce' (messy), followed by duckling in a black cherry sauce with
vegetables. Dessert was a chocolate truffle torte-type affair. Stunning all
round. We wandered home after the lesurely meal and happily didn't have to do
any washing up.
I'm certainly glad my meeting with the AO went well. While things haven't been
'sorted', at least I've got her on my side. I've got lots of things to do, but
nothing that's causing heart palpatations. Dell have managed to send me a
machine with Windows 95 rather than NT. Not that I like either, but a
pre-installed machine rather than install one from scratch is almost preferable.
[13:50] Just had two sober men in suits come to visit me. Security Advisors for
the institution. Initially they came to see the place I'd be placing the new
computers in the library, but it turned into a full-on security audit with the
upshot being that we're going to get a whole rash of new security thingies. Not
only that but we're finally going to be connected to the institution security
alarm backbone. This means when I set off an alarm now, instead of one red
flashing light in a dank cupboard in the basement, a huge klaxon, strobe lights
and jets of dry ice will be used to tell a dopey security guard someone's trying
to steal my computers. This is good.
For this evening we're getting a dalek delivered. Not quite a Dr Who prop, but
a tall cone-shaped device with 360 degrees of IR and movement sensors. This will
be 'deployed' in the computer room to a) scare the shit out of people who wander
in there and b) radio back to base automatically if so much as one ant farts in
its presence after 21:30 tonight.
[15:50] Whoa! There's an excellent chance my TV-of-choice, the Sony KV32FX60, is
off the endangered species list. Just phoned Powerhouse who said "that doesn't
seem to be in such short supply any more, let me get back to you..." With luck
and a following wind I may be able to get it delivered this weekend. Which would
be most excellent.
[20:50] Got pppd working. Only at 33.6 for some obscure reason. Had a fire
alarm at some time this evening but I was deep in hacker-mode and didn't notice
the time as I stood outside in the cold, not really noticing as 15 fire officers
piled into the building to turn off the blacked kettle that had boiled dry on
the 4th floor (luser still in building). Came back and solved the hardest part
(as I thought at the time). All I need now is proper authentication based on
/etc/passwd and a speed of max 56.6 and I'll be ready for the new line in the
house. Anyway, home.
[12:00] Well, today is my third anniversary with the girlfriend. We swapped
presents this morning which was cool. I'm wearing the t-shirt today (and
probably tomorrow). It suits my current mood with this job.
The PFY and I worked on a letter to give to the AO explaining how, even though
there was 'no money' for a full-time Technician, it was something that was
required. I think there is scope for negotiation because a) I need a full-time
PFY, b) I don't want a new one when I've trained this one so well, and c) I
should be given what I want. I've held off giving her the letter because the
news is that one of the secretaries has had a car accident this morning (nothing
too serious) and another one managed to require four hours of microsurgery on her
thumb over the weekend when she attended a PTA event and almost sliced off her
entire thumb on a glass. Apparently arterial gushing was involved. Gack.
With luck I can get though the list (as long as my arm) of things to do and make
it home in tie to go out for a celebratory meal tonight with the girlfriend. No
news on the bike yet. I've been talking to people in the city via usenet and
posted a URL for a picture of the bike. People are on the lookout, a bit.
Thanks to them.
Everything's a bit shit at the moment really. Still, so long as I go home alive
[15:00] Well. That was good. Got a call from the AO, she's in a tizzy over a
file which would vindicate her totally as it was the minutes of a meeting from
May of last year (my first meeting as it happened). I wandered down there, found
it, found the creation date (luckily I keep the PC's clocks running on time, not
like some people), and watched her dance about the room in joy at pulling her
peers over a barrel on something. While she was happy she mentioned the PFY
problem and I showed her the letter the PFY and I worked on all morning. She
liked it and agreed to set things in motion. They may work, they may not, but at
least she's happy to try.
[14:15] I knew I'd spoken too soon.
I had my bike stolen last night. There were no adequate cycle-locking facilities
where I was. The only decent place to secure a bike is against the disabled
Last night I decided that for once I wasn't going to inconvenience anyone who
had a wheelchair, and simply locked the front wheel and the saddle to the frame
(both quick-release) with a steel cable, and the rear wheel (also quick release)
to the frame with a fairly good D-lock. This was at 20:00.
I came out of Karate at 21:45. The bike was gone. No lock bits, nothing. I
went to the police station and reported it. The woman on reception gave me a
form to fill in and I walked the 2.5 miles home in a foul mood.
This morning I went back with the filled in form and had a good talk with the
guys who sit in the Lost and Stolen Cycles building. Apparently I was the
second person to lose a bike there last night. Other random facts include the
statistic that 1 in 4 bikes recovered by L+SC are returned to their owners. A
frame number is the best piece of information you can have written down.
Thieves may hold onto bikes for a few hours or a few months before selling them.
Many drug users stockpile bikes to sell when they need a hit. Many younger
thieves will steal bikes and swap parts between themselves, in some cases
reducing the bikes' value by hundreds of pounds, before selling them. Many
place that buy second-hand bikes call the police occasionally to check frame
numbers with the list of 'marked' ones. Places that buy second-hand bikes are a
good place to leave your details, and a nice closeup photograph of the bike, or
you and the bike, is a damned good idea. Luckily I had both the frame number
and the photo.
Following this slightly heartening news I went on a little tour of the environs.
First stop was a Cash Convertors. The salesdrone inside was a little dopey
(it was only 10:00) but he gave me a scrap of paper to scribble details
of the bike on. There were a number of bikes inside and outside the shop with
extremely dodgy-looking paint jobs. I showed him the photo and left.
Next stop was a bike shop. They claimed they only bought old bikes,
and I may as well give up now on ever getting mine back. Which was nice. I
After that I went to a more down-market cycle repair shop. The guy who works
there is excellent. I gave him some details, he was happy to have a photo to
look at. He said he called the police on every bike he bought second-hand.
Said he'd recognise my bike "straight off" if it came in.
Final stop was the town Market. Unfortunately the second hand bike dealer is
only there Monday to Thursdays. Still, it gives me a reason to get out of the
office on a lunchtime.
I posted a news article to the end that if anyone sees it or comes across it in
a shop, news paper forsale advert or something, for them to give me a call.
Like I said, if it's just pure generousity of spirit rather than material gain
I'll still be happy to pay if the information leads to me getting this bike back
where it belongs. Frankly I don't give a shit.
I have another meeting now. Back around 16:00.
[15:30] Meeting finished early. All went well, apart from the fact I'm going
to be doing doing loads in the coming months. Lots. Suddenly, after the
meeting I remembered something. Something very important. The PFY is part-time.
She wants a full-time job fairly soon. I was sure I'd mentioned this to
the AO, but she says not. Apparently the 'needs' round has gone for this year.
So this means we (I) could be in ths shit. Quite badly. If the PFY has to get a
full-time job and we can't provide one she's going to walk come the end of the
Master's degree she's doing. Frankly, I think we can use some of the money that
we've been so progliferate in spending recently, or as a last resort I'll take a
paycut to pay the other half of her salary. I'm that desperate. She's gold.
In lighter news, the girlfriend phoned Nationwide (our insurance providers) who
said plainly that if we provided a crime number (allocated by the police station
by post in a few days) and some credit card details, they would take the
£50 excess and deliver me a new bike (same model, this year's version) to
wherever was convenient on Tuesday of next week. Given we don't have the crime
number yet, I doubt things will be that fast, but still, top marks to Nationwide.
Bollocks, I am in so much shit over this PFY thing. The AO is going to have my
balls come Monday. It suddenly struck me after the meeting and I mentioned it
to her quietly. She already looked tired, but I thought I better mention it as
soon as possible. I think in retrospect I should have mentioned it as soon as
the PFY mentioned it to me, but it just slipped my mind and she said "it wasn't
important at the moment". As a manager I should have thought it was, and told
the AO straight away.
When you seed the wind, you must prepare to reap the whirlwind.
[16:30] I've had suggestions to make this theft part of the next PFY story. What
a damned good idea. I'm glad I had it, and welcome to the non-copyrightable
world of my mail spool.
[12:25] Today has been a Good Day. The forms to get a scond line installed in
my house arrived today. I filled them in with the direct debit information for
my own account, expecting that no-one would be silly enough to pay for the
installation and monthly line rental within the institution. I approached the
telephone liason officer (whose name must appear on the form for it to pass
through the magic portal of administration at the cable company) and explained
what I wanted. She stopped me and told me to get a blank form and the
institution would pay for it all, as I'd be 'logging in from home to check
machines even if I was on holiday on on a weekend'.
Frankly, this is true, I will use the line for work, to collect email
from laptop users who are having problems on the weekend, to check the backups,
to look at things after weekend powercuts and to keep a weather eye on things if
I'm 'on holiday' - but that's, like, not the whole story. 56k net access, on a
modem that's never engaged when I call it? 100Mb/sec upstream from there? You
couldn't complain even if it wasn't free.
So I've torn up the form and have asked for another one. It should arrive
tomorrow, or Monday. Once it's filled in and sent off with a first class stamp,
things should progress within ten days. Which is nice.
I still have to get this modem and pppd working, perhaps I'll have a look this
afternoon. The PFY is working well on the exams databases, I managed to 'spend'
£64,700 last night with the AO, the machines are all running well, I've
just installed a nice silent NTP broadcast/client system which the lusers can't
fiddle with and I'm about to have lunch.
The only blots on the horizon are a day of meetings tomorrow (one in the morning,
one in the early afternoon), the requirement for machines to be ordered when I
haven't finished setting up the laptops yet and the report I have to write.
[14:40] Arse, meeting.
[17:30] Even though I've just been asked to order all manner of shite for the
institution, amounting to some obscene number of tens of hundreds of pounds, I
don't get the same buzz as I did the first time. It's like I've become jaded.
Perhaps it's the fact I've got so much to do at the moment I don't have time to
appreciate the stuff I'll be in control of soon.
[19:40] Just about to leave for karate. Sometimes I really hate staying late.
I've not had time to do anything with the pppd today. I've found some more
information on setting it up, so with luck I may be able to figure some stuff out
in the CFT I have tomorrow between meetings. I do get to wander into a meeting
at 09:30 though, so it's not all bad news. With luck the new telephone line
form will make it into work on Monday, I can get it filled out same-day and sent
off in time for a visit from the engineers the following week.
09/02/2000 - Special First Birthday Edition
[08:40] Whee! The BOFHcam is one year old today. Exactly 365-odd days ago this
site came up on iceberg, also known as http://www.bofh.gits.co.uk and consisted
of a very limited set of pages which imitated very badly the layout of Jenni's
site. Since then I've added stuff similar and not so similar to Jenni. I
haven't always been able to keep up with her (she is a full time
graphic/web designer) stuff, and I don't have the money or time (I work for a
living) to do RealVideo streams or stuff like that. I have managed to lag behind
in a constructive and cohesive manner though, I tend to think.
O.K. so I haven't keep the Co-LARTers pages up to date with my new job but I've
done so much since these pages first appeared it would be difficult. I do have
the technology to do this now, and the skills to make the index page for it a
little nicer, I just need the time.
The last year, time and motion-wise has been fairly eventful. Thirteen months
ago I wasn't a BOFH, hell, I wasn't even a PFY. I came to a new city because of
a woman (how cliched is that?), took a job in the institution, learnt at the
knee of a BOFH, learnt the meaning of LART, BOFH, began my process of jading,
(which obviously lead to) subscribed to asr, found a camera, saw JenniCAM, felt
the need and stuck up one page in the old style. There were enough hits from
people external to the institution for me to spend some time (I really didn't
work much there) parodying the whole site.
Since that fateful day when I did my first entry in this Journal I've come a long
way, moved house twice and become a BPFYFH. I can't claim complete BOFH-hood
yet, I I'm of the opinion that this accolade is conferred on you by your users,
or by BOF. I've tried to contribute something to the ranks of unsung sysadmins
with humour and sarcasm in equal measure with the pfy stories, the Wear A
Leatherman and Windowsian Crapsody filks (both mentioned in
NTK in their turn. I'm known in some quarters,
still completely unknown in all. I still don't know if Jenni knows about me at
all. I'd like to think that she wouldn't want me closed down if she found out.
I'm never quite sure whether to keep up with the changes Jenni makes to her site.
It's been an education learning the HTML to keep up with her. I doubt I would
have done some much with apache, analog and HTML without something to 'aspire'
to. I'd like people's opinions as to whether to stick to Jenni as much as
possible or eventually 'go my own way'. Your opinions (almost) count! You can
(probably) make a difference!
Thanks to Jack who sent the first congratulatory email of the day, "crazy jobs,
crazy bosses...". He's right of course. But we do the job because it's there.
We keep things going because if we didn't, someone else would eventually get
round to doing it, and they'd do it wrong. And no-one touches my machines but
So, happy birthday to me. I feel like royalty; two birthdays a year, how cool is
[11:10] The landlord (unix guy) is helping me set up the pppd here. I was
talking to the PFY right next to the modem when he dialed in. She nearly jumped
out of her chair.
[13:45] Look guys, stop oggling the PFY, she's married.
[11:45] I've done two heroic things this morning. Heroic thing number one was
getting Analog to read all of last year's web logs. All of 1999 is now tallied
up, and I have to say, I'm impressed despite myself. If it wasn't for my /var
being too small I'd also have the Slashdot week in there too, but I don't. I may
tell you where it is, eventually.
Heroic thing number two was managing to get DeskJet drivers onto a Win3.11 laptop
with no network card. Yeah, so all I did was use PKzip and a spanned archive,
but it's been five years since I last did it. I was in the PC room at
Manchester's CS department (back when the majority of machines were Suns) trying
to get someone's dodgy .avi files onto floppies for them. I was nice back then.
Paint Shop Pro 6 arrived this morning. I grabbed 6.02 as soon as it was
installed. The modems arrived this morning as well, so I can 'work from home'.
The weather was terrible this morning, but I'm dry now. I may even go to lunch.
The AO wants a meeting, the unfortunate thing about working late on a regular
basis is that she now expects me to do it every night. As a result we'll be
having the meeting for a 18:00 finish, because everyone else goes home on time
and she needs to see them as well.
[13:30] Powercut between 11:13 and 12:20. Just too long for the UPS.
Perhaps if I got another one, or took one of the servers down, like the BDC. We
don't really need a BDC, the PDC is too beefy to ever need it. This would then
give a free slot to plug a monitor in. The thing was, I wasn't sure the funky
shutdown script I'd written was working because the HDD are so quiet. Even now
with the event logs I'm not sure of the shutdown notification they have was from
the script or generated automatically when they rebooted. I'm looking for some
way to make an NT box beep now, so I know the script is running.
[17:10] Thanks people the control-g suggestion works fine on some
machines, but not others. Luckily, the machine the batch file is eventually
going to be running on does beep. So that's O.K.
All the machines seem to have survived the power cut and I've been up to my
eyeballs in ordering gubbins for the new machines in the library. I've managed
to put off actually ordering them till Wednesday, but then I'm going to have to
bite the bullet. Ten Dell GX110s (she wants 128Mb in them for heaven's sake) and
a nice beefy PowerEdge 2400 (dual 533Mhz naturally) with at least 128Mb in. I've
managed to convince her that a tape solution is a positive aspect to the server,
rather than an annoying money-waster.
Hmmm, even though I've had my wisdom teeth out, I still seem to be getting one of
my molars rubbing on my cheek. The right hand cheek is quite sore in places. I
hope I don't have to have anything else done.
I'm doing a stats page for 1999's access stats. Maybe I'll share them with you.
Maybe I won't.
Fairly decent page from
someone argues with his wife. Well I liked it.
I don't know aboutyou, but today has been really weird. I say this because
everything we've been working on has happened. Y'know, worked. I
ordered a PC, and it all went O.K. The backups were O.K. All the luser problems
were fixed. No-one has come asking for anything difficult. The dial-up account
information arrived and worked first time. I closed down more non-essential
services on my boxes and moved people to other machines, and everything went
well. I'm really rather worried.
The user who wants this laptop is coming in later to take it away. As far as I
can tell, he's going to be fine. I'm blaming this turn of events on the new
office layout as it seems as good a reason as anything. There are two
viewer-captured gallery images up in now. One from
Joe and one from
Tom. Thanks guys.
I want to write another filk. The subject is compiling. Consequently I need
people to email me with all the programming/hacking/compiling words and phrases
they can think of. Things like 'parser', 'linking', 'object code', 'header
files'. That kind of stuff. Also any standard hacker (not hax0r) terminology.
[18:20] Working all day today. Which makes a change. The PFY and I did some
little removal work with some of the filing cabinets and a few tables. We now
have a much nicer window corner, somewhere to put my soon-to-be dial-in box and
store the boxed laptops.
My parents arrive this evening to stay until Saturday afternoon (my dad preaches
on a Sunday back home). The girlfriend'd gone home to meet them (in fact they
should be arriving around now). I'm off to Karate until 21:45 and then I'll go
home, grab a shower and meet the folks.
Ah yes, today. Yeah, we moved the stuff around, did some physical labour and
generally had a good time not doing much. Around lunchtime I realised that the
forms I'd sent off to get dialup accounts were useless because I hadn't gotten
them signed by the people who are going to use them. So I cycled into town and
picked them up, at the same time going with the landlord to pick out some blinds
for the Velux windows in the top room. Once that was done I came back to the
building to get the guy to sign it. I thenm got my breath back and cycled back
into town to return it. Hopefully the PFY can pick up the details tomorrow
morning on her way into work.
I've been locking down the newest addition to the room this afternoon, The
FreeBSD box which will eventually become my modem access point. No reason to
slow down things at this end with non-essential services and gubbins. Then all
I need to do is get some help from the landlord to get the modem running (28.8)
buy a new one and away I go. The PFY's really please as she gets more space to
think in. Must remember to add £30 back on the budget as it turns out the
other person who needed a dial-up account already has one. Why they
didn't tell me is matter for debate at a later date. With an axe handle.
[16:15] Dull day. Tried for many hours to get the dialup to work with the smtp
and imap servers I have to work with. It seems the people at Totalise have a
policy of not allowing people to use their smtp server (even if you're logged in
through their PoP unless your email address is the username you logged into the
PoP with. Many conversations with the mail admins here and I've signed up some
of the laptop users for institution dialup accounts, which I won't have to worry
about until they give the laptops back as we just pay £30 a year for each
of them (not my money) and set them up to autodial with stored details.
The info just has to arrive before Friday now.
We almost have permission to buy all the new toys I had to come up with. Once we
have that I'll have to go out looking for things, so I can be out of the office,
I hope. The problem is that when we have all this gorgeous kit apparently my job
will change and I'll become teacher as well.
[17:55] The FreeBSD ports collection is big, isn't it?
[10:40] First day of the month again. ARCserve barfed last night on the monthly
backup. Luckily the PFY and I know enough now to save the job and run it this
morning with a fudged name and sequence serial number. I remebered last night
that according to legend, the BOFHcam was started up in its present incarnation
at 15:00 on 09/02/1999. This means that in eight days (next Wednesday) it'll be
one year old! Hurrah! I'll try and get some stats up on that day around about
15:00 to show how many hosts have accessed here, how many total requests, gubbins
like that. I may even arrange a trip down memory lane to see what's changed over
the year. Not much really.
While the PFY and I were discussing some stuff, and things, I got a letter.
Someone's been talking. This letter is from a small startup company offering
database development for small to medium companies in such languages as Access,
Visual Basic and SQL Server. Now I want to know who's put my name forward. The
person who seems to own/run/be the only employee signed the letter and hand-wrote
the envelope (no franking, a second-class stamp). Fishy.
[19:10] The rest of the day has been spent fruitlessly trying to get laptops to
dialup and use an IMAP/SMTP client to send mail from a domain which appears to
have become part of the MAPS DUL. This pisses me off as it means the 'free ISP'
that is, an 0845 number (local calls) and no dialup charges, is completely
useless because a) it doesn't support SSH connections at the moment and b) the
users want to use this godawful IMAP/SMTP client rather than a 'real' mail client
like mutt, pine, elm or suchlike over telnet/ssh. It has to be "exactly the same
as their desktop machines", which means Windows 95 to imitate NT and this client
from the black lagoon. I can't configure it to use the ISP's servers (which
incidently aren't MAPS'ed) as the mail will need to come from the users' mail
account on the institution's servers, something sending from the ISP's servers
I've sodded it, bitten the bullet and filled out two application forms in the
names of the two users who need these laptops like yesterday and I'll be sending
it off tomorrow in the vain hope they'll arrive back within the week and I can
actually get shot of these beautiful annoying exasperating machines. The only
confusion arises when they hand these laptops back and I have to change the names
on the dialup accounts. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I leave and it's the
next sysadmin's job.