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31/03/2000
[10:20] A Friday, and the last day of the month. This means the backup tapes stay nicely in sync, rather than having to dick about with a pencil and rubber. Went to the hardware shop, found what we need to tie down the machines. Big brass padlocks and plastic-coated 2m steel cables with loops on each end. Besides giving a big visual deterrent they're rather strong. [Aside: When the hell would you use the adverb 'deterrently'? "He growled deterrently"?]

Cost is much less than the 'kits' you can get from MISCO and similar. The stuff won't look as neat as them, but I don't really care. The length is better too.

[12:50] Installed the TCP/IP patch for printing to the NT servers which actually do that type of stuff. Of course, the main admin server BSoD'ed on shutdown (hotfixes do that), but it seemed to come up O.K. The other server coped admirably. Looks like no-one will be breaking my printing. Isn't that just special?

[17:50] Naturally the printer hasn't arrived from Getech. Just as I was feeling smug for having helped a fellow BOFH with an outbreak of Napster on their NT Terminal Server I happened to note that the logs on Frankenstein hadn't been rotated since 16 Jan. Luckily, since the /. incident I've been keeping the httpd access statistics on /usr which is a bit bigger. Hum, I have no real idea why the logs haven't been rotating. The access time on the relevant file (/etc/logrotate.conf) was Jan 16, the Friday before the first of the failed rotation. Fishy. I've replaced the file with the original .conf file from a vanilla install and put some small changes in, with luck Monday morning will see everything back to normal. There'll be a larger file, but it's not too big. About 5Mb. Guess I have to wait till tonight to see if it works. Or I could run it now. No, think I'll wait. I have no idea what the problem might be. All I can think that I've done would be change the weeks to 54 from 52 to give me some overlap.

30/03/2000
[09:10] O.K. for those of you who decided not to read down to the bottom of yesterday's entry (can't blame you), yes, I have a new front page. I've decided to get back in sync with Jenni. Isn't it nice?

Annoyances abound already. I set the alarm on the room last night. Dunno if I told you, but it's been connected to Central Security now. Yes, think I did. Anyway, set it last night no problems. Came in this morning and unset it. Also fine. However, every five minutes after that it would start going off again. It's now silent, but seems to have locked up internally somewhere and is displaying a line of asterisks and is flashing pathetically. I've called ADT who are sending someone out. More trouble than they're worth, these things.

[11:20] O.K., so the faulty alarm was caused by the shite installation engineer dropping a long metal screw down the back of the main circuitboard. The occasional jolt or random impulse was thus being shorted, causing problems for all concerned.

[15:50] Clearing forty event logs is one of the most boring and repetitive things in the known universe. Not only that, but in the middle of a boring day it's a killer. Hmmm, just had a power flicker. Luckily nothing died here, but all the machines in the public areas rebooted spontaneously, taking people's work with them. Sometimes having completely plausuble deniability is a good thing.

[16:10] My friend with the employers problem had her meeting with the IT liaison people. They are nice. To use some quotes from the email I got "I have managed to see X, he suggests that I should get out as soon as possible [...] he couldn't understand what is behind this game." There's some thanks to me for support and a slightly chilling comment with which to end "it is very difficult to write email here." Now I know there's no email scanning software at that place so I'm assuming that someone is standing over her. It's just not on.

29/03/2000
[12:50] Spent the morning making about 200 pages HTML4.0/Transitional compliant. Not fun, but I was amazed at how many pages were already completely correct. Which was nice. Had more email from my female friend who works where I used to, almost. She's really suffering under the blatant sexism and bigotry that's going on there and I'm really tempted to do some nasty things there. All the backdoors I installed are still there, so it's just a matter of when to do it. I've been emailing her with supportive comments and she's going to be seeing the IT liaison people for the institution on my urging. With luck she'll get them all nailed and move on to a better job.

I don't know if I've told you much about this before. Basically, where I used to work we were within and beside another part of the institution. They looked after the 'site' and the BOFH and I looked after this one new building. Although we were nominally 'under' their umbrella, we did our own thing, we had top-end kit and for a long time not many lusers. Life was good. Obviously they hated us. Wednesday (of alt.fan.wednesday fame) worked for them. Those of you who know her know she's fairly Clued on most things and capable of doing lots of good stuff. So they had her doing installations of NT over and over again, and some documentation. Lots of documentation. This pissed her off. Not only did they underuse her, they took her documentation and rewrote it. She left in the end and got a much better job.

Not long after than my friend started at about the same time as a bloke. They worked at the same types of jobs for a while, but he got more of the plum jobs more often than not. Over time she was left doing the menial jobs while he was 'groomed' for better things. Around this time we were pulled back under the umbrella slightly and asked to have someone over once a week while I went on helldesk. Those of you who've read March 1999 and similar will remember the entries. Well, these two came over on alternate weeks, and suffered the BOFH's tutelage in all things building IT-related. Apparently he chafed under it. She loved it. In fact she went as far as to say that she learned more from us than she had since she'd been across the site.

Distressing, considering we weren't teaching her any of the Real Magic. The time came when the BOFH and I toddled off. Trips to our building stopped for her and she was left doing her repetative NT installs. The bloke on the other hand was doing fine, smooth bastard. Our heroine was suffering 'mild' abuse from the manager, who was outgoing anyway. I advised she get in contact with someone then.

Time came when one of the old guard network people in the office where these two worked was leaving (there's only eight or so people in the place). Rather than advertise the job internally and externally as normal they advertised it briefly in the office (as far as I can tell). Our friend was told "not to apply as the job is for X". X being our bloke. This wasn't good.

So things go on. She's managed to get her post upgraded slightly, after talking to IT liaison. Things aren't going well as far as I can tell. The newest insults concern the fact that she's Turkish in ethnicity. She's been forced to take English classes so that she can deal with phone and email better. Admittedly she doesn't have one hundred percent grasp, but hell, it's better than anyone's $TURKISH_NATIONAL_LANGUAGE that I know. She's already been told off for doing her 'homework' while waiting for NT installs to happen.

Frankly I think the situation is completely out of order. She's been misused, underused, held back, insulted and left in a dead-end position. She's looking for another job (which I can understand) but I hope she takes some of the shit she's taken out on the people who've done this to her. This is two women who've had to suffer, and I think it's time it stopped.

[15:10] More on this situation. Seems my advice to get this person to go on a linux course to get some skills has come up against more obstructions from the 'lads' in the office. They refused to let her attend the course that was running this week. They wouldn't even let her take time off and attend, as they would be understaffed if she did. Nothing at all to do with three of her colleagues going off on a jolly to a trade show down in London, no, definitely not.

If I'm not careful something inanimate is going to experience physics.

[17:30] Getech are a bunch of arsecandles. Never order anything from them, ever. The last thing I ordered from them was a spare power adapter for a G3 PowerBook. That took over a month. This time it's a printer, also for a Mac. Ordered it on the 15th. Rang two days ago and was told the printer wasn't in stock but the drone was going to snag it off someone else's order and it would arrive 'nextday'. Needless to say, it didn't. I rang back today. Seems the order had been assigned to someone else and so they were ordering it from someone else. So is this the original printer, or the one he 'snagged' from someone else? Frankly I think he's talking bollocks. It's now supposed to arrive on Friday. I think not. I should have learnt last time. Never order from Getech.

[18:40] At least I've done one thing worthwhile today. Well, kind of. I've altered the menu to look like Jenni's latest (read: has been for quite some time) main page. Of course, it has my alterations, just to make sure people know which site they've come to in a pinch.

28/03/2000
[11:40] Well, I'm in love with EditPad. This editor has saved me about three days work, and supports more than I would have guessed had I not been frustrated and made mistakes. Copy support for linebreaks is something I wouldn't have guessed at, but is proabably standard on most good editors. I really can't recommend it too highly.

The reason I've been using it so much this morning is because someone forgot to add BODY tags to all the web pages he publishes for the institution. Because of the laxness of browsers nowadays and the apathy of people who come to look at the pages, no-one had noticed until now. Not only that, but I hadn't set the pages to use a white background and black text. No wonder old versions of IE and Mac versions of Netscape were crap at displaying the pages. EditPad to the rescue again.

My project is now to get a couple of hundred pages validated to HTML4.0/Transitional. I'll have no truck with CSS or XHTML1.0 thankyouverymuch. Isn't that going to be fun?

Link of today (apart from EditPad) is Soda Constructor. It requires Java, but hell, in this instance it's worth it.

27/03/2000
[08:45] Cold, wet, tired and pissed off. Not only did I get back from the party this weekend to find that had I been a few hours later the video wouldn't have recorded my programmes (doesn't autoswitch to BST), not only that, but as this is the first time I've set the timer since the beginning of March I've only just noticed that it doesn't recognised February 29. I've had to stick the year back to 1995 to compensate. Doesn't really matter though. I guess.

I'm relieved to say that most of the machines in the building appear to have gotten through the GMT->BST switch without dying. I should check the few Win95/98 boxes that haven't been powered on, just in case I suppose. It might give my jeans a chance to dry out.

Anger of the day comes courtesy of StopDrLaura which, if it's to believed (I try not to watch anything but science fiction from America) really makes me want to break something with my feet and hands. I don't want people's opinions on this because it's every person's right to think what they like, what I object to is that she's been given the forum she has. Read the whole site, come to your own conclusions.

[15:40] FFS! Anger. Just decided we need to do a copy of the Office97 CD we have as it's beginning to look a mite scrached. I pull a CDR off the shelf and break open the plastic. Open the case. It's empty. Shit. These CDRs have been here since before I arrived so I don't even know where they were bought from.

24/03/2000
[14:40] Meeting all morning. I have to say, sitting in a room with coffee and nice biscuits talking about how crap NT is and how best to make your respective lives easier in working with it is actually quite good. Especially when everyone else in the room is also pro-unix. That went on till around 11:30 when I wandered back to work. The office was locked and empty. Fearing the worst I checked for signs of tampering, but it looked like the drop bears were asleep. I went in and found that the admin server was doing a manual backup. Obviously the only person with enough nouce to do this is the PFY. Ahhh, it's the staff meeting, something I don't go to on general principles. Checked email: "Admin server was frozen when I got in this morning, rebooted, everything seems fine but I managed to cancel the backup job, rather than letting it start up again." Seems the machine had stopped dead halfway through cleaning the sessions off the tape. I let the job finish, which it did, correctly. We use DDS-2 tapes because all the old servers have DDS-2 drives. The new server will have a DDS-3 drive and I'm considering getting a box or two of tapes to match as we're getting close to the 4.0Gb limit for uncompressed DDS-2. Not much I know, but there isn't much that's worth backing up on the admin machines in my opinion.

Anyway on looking at the GFS prediction report I noticed something decidedly odd.

The clocks go forward this Sunday: 01:00 becomes 02:00 (it's a British thing). For some reason the jobs I had set for 23:00 and 23:59 (to keep it on the same day, tapedate-wise) had been moved to 00:00 and 00:59 respectively, thus confusing the hell out of the GFS ordering for the following week(s). As a precaution I moved the backup jobs to 22:00 and 22:59 respectively. They will be advanced back to 23:00 and 23:59 on Sunday morning.

According to my GFS paper logs, nothing like this happened in October 1999 when the clocks went back. Since then I've applied the ARCserve patches to bring the application to version 6.5 (Build 622). These patches were recommended as essential for Y2K compliance, but that can't be it, surely?

All software sucks.

[17:40] Why am I still here? Perhaps it's because I now have time to deal with the BOFHcam email I get. There's never a lot, but each reply (should you merit one) is carefully handcrafted and personalised to you THE READER, for your delight and delectation. I've had a meta-rant from Greg and, frighteningly, a notification that Dan is actually coming over from the States for a wedding and would like to actually appear on the BOFHcam and get himself snapped for the Gallery. Frankly I'm not sure what the staff here would say if a guy and his mate turned up out of the blue and started asking for the guy with the webcams (given that no-one here actually knows I run the BOFHcam out of this office). I've got till the end of May to make a decision. What're your thoughts?

I should go for the weekend some time soon. Realised I've left the home machine dialed up all day. Not done it any harm I don't think.

No NTK yet, but I've got a new image for the gallery. Mark has sent in a nice GIMPed image of the BOFHcam II as done in an olde worlde style. Looks good. If anyone else wants to do weird and wonderful (and knowing you lot, disgusting or bastardly things to images you see on the cameras, please do. Then send them in. JPEG only, no more than the resolution of the original images, please. Right, time to go home. Party in Twyford this weekend.

23/03/2000
[10:20] ADT are here to fix the dodgy alarm systems we've been working with for the last year. From today we should be wired up to Central and I'll have to start turning it on in the evenings. Still summer is the time of burglaries. We had delivery of a PC this morning. The courier rang me on his mobile, he was lost. After negotiating him down a straight road with a signpost to the institution on it, I had to go out and wave to him till he found where he was supposed to stop. He then proceeded to drop both the monitor and PC boxes on the way to the door, and then asked what exactly we did "here at [mumble]". We do [mumble] obviously, fuckwit.

[10:40] The ADT guys are in the room at the moment. Numbnutses with loud voices. Piss off.

[16:45] Boring afternoon. I might leave on time. The box crashed again. I'm not going to run the camera except during work hours. The original camera will run 24 hours, as normal. There are a number of things I could have done this afternoon. For example, the PC which came in (once I'd set it up) had a non-working PCU fan. On a 533Mhz pentium this isn't funny. I managed to get everything installed for a standard NT domain office machine and called Tech Support after having the top off a few times and fiddling with the plugs. I even transplanted a new CPU fan in to see if that worked. It did.

After I got on the phone with the second customer support droid (corporate, rather than commercial, they were no help) I found that the tech database of machine tags is updated more slowly than the salesdroids tag database so they couldn't find it. How numb is that?

Anyway. On the phone with the corporate tech bloke I plugged in the fan once more and powered on. It worked. Damnit. I rang off and contemplated throwing the thing through the window. Anyway, finished the machine ready for ship-out then collapsed and thought about catching up on news. Did so. Thought about listing all the software that'll need moving to the new server. Wrote it down. Thought about moving PCs around, rolling out those two secure PCs. Didn't. Sat in my chair and gently cooked in the 25 degrees the office seems to reach in the afternoons.

I'm at the working party tomorrow morning from 09:30 till around 11:30, so you'll have to amuse yourselves with the PFY until I get in. Speaking of the PFY, I've managed to get her job upgraded to full-time, which is good as she can do more while I do less. The only thing is that I'll have to look busy all afternoon now as well.

22/03/2000
[12:15] Bitty morning. Teppic died _again_. I think I'll recompile the kernel again this afternoon. All these page faults can't be good for it. Not only that but on reboot it couldn't see the network, or be seen by it. I tried plugging it into a 10Mb/sec hub after a while and it worked. Back on the 100Mb/sec and then everything is back to normal. It's convert, I know it is. I don't have anything to prove it because the logs are empty, the machine just... stops.

Wrote a little treatise on ARCserve for NT yesterday afternoon for the working party I'm part of at the moment. Opened my eyes to some of the stuff it does that I've never played with. Not that I'll use it now, but it's still good to know what it does.

Payslip arrived for March. There's no fucking Y2K bonus on it. I am Not Happy. The AO now is aware that I am Not Happy. I am Awaiting Developments and if nothing happens I will be Taking Steps. It's not even mildly amusing any more.

The spare caddys for the dual head FreeBSD box arrived today. Now all I need to do is buy some drives to go in them. I also got the AO to agree to the new server purchase for the admin network. A nice PowerEdge 2400 should see us right. The current server is the last of the old guard; the ones that were in place when I arrived. Once this one has been wiped, reformated, disassembled and cleaned the only 'essential machine' I haven't installed myself will be the web and webdatabase server. This machine has such a bare install anyway I think I can live with it. There's something about knowing how/who installed a server, and with what to give you some small peace of mind when considering what's happening internally.

[12:30] I'm annoyed with the cam II box. It has the modem on it. I really don't want to have a machine for the camera and a machine for the modem. These things are supposed to multi-task. Plus, against all normal ideals I'd rather not have another box to admin. Less is more, know what I mean?

[17:25] Netscape is lame. It's official. If you recall the NT boxes I'm rolling out which I've locked down as much as possible. Well, I decided that there was no way I would be letting the Little People cover my machines in dodgy bookmarks, so I wanted to lock them down so they were read-only. Unfortunately Netscape has this annoying habit of (no matter what the permissions or ownership rights) allowing the current NT user to write to them (in some temporary fashion) and then on application close changes the ownership to the logged in NT user and the permissions to Everyone (All)(All). Which is, frankly, bollocks.

I've taken to using AT to do things I don't want to have to do myself, so there's an AT which goes off every 2 hours during 9-5 which copies back a fresh bookmark file to the workstations and dumps whatever evil p0rn/warez bookmarks people have dropped in there. That, coupled with the mandatory profiles, the bastard policies from hell, and the nightly reboot shouyld make them fairly sarosanct.

You just know I'll have missed something.

21/03/2000
[10:20] As I was leaving last night I did what I normally do; log out all the servers and turn off the screens. The admin server (which is the oldest we have) takes a while to log off. While it's doing it I normally log off and turn off the screens on the other ones. As I was progressing down the row I heard the unmistakable sound of a monitor changing frequency. The admin server had bluescreened on log out. If you recall, I had this problem a while ago, possibly connected with the installation of Dr Solomon's Management Console. Fearing the worst I let it boot up again (painfully slow 233Mhz, 64Mb), logged in and logged off, same shit. Rather than stay the night and fruitlessly work on it, I left it logged in and went home. Not before I'd sent an email to the AO asking for permission to buy a new server. The other servers are my domain and she doesn't concern herself with those, but the administrative stuff is her domain, so I thought it best to ask her before I went ahead and spent £3,300 on something to allow me to sleep at night. Came in this morning (the thing still seems to be running) and wrote a 'memo' to her, as she works on paper still. Just have to see what happens.

20/03/2000
[10:00] Really couldn't get out of bed this morning. The party, while not 'wild' was quite tiring. When I got into work I wished I'd stayed in bed. All the NT machines appeared to have rebooted on Saturday at around 12:44, the UPS log (wonderful thing, saved the servers) stated that there had been a "momentary deep sag 045.5V" which lasted a second or less. Naturally all the NT machines had thrown a wobbly and dropped their trousers. None of my unix- a-likes had done any such thing.

Incidently, just so you know, camera II is being a little tempremental at the moment so I shut it down for the weekend (no new images) because I wanted the machine to stay up. It's back updating now.

Anyway, we have an NT machine here (the PFY's, used to be the old sysadmin's box) which seems to forget its MAC address on powercycle. The upshot of this is that it then floods the network with requests/broadcasts when it comes back up before NT (which I'm guessing is responsible for the loss in the first place) gives it back what it needs. This causes the dumb 10/100 hubs I have to overflow their MAC tables, effectively locking up the 10Mb/sec repeaters inside them. In real terms this means that the first person who tries to print (printing is done through the main admin server over TCP/IP) locks up the server and their own box until I can (in order), kill Word on their machine, turn off and unplug the network cable on the PFY's machine, powercycle the hubs and reboot the server.

Normally it wouldn't be an issue, if we need to cold boot the machine we shut it down nornally, turn it off, yank out the network cable, reboot, wait for the login screen and reconnect. If there's a powercut on the weekend, that ain't going to happen.

Someone unauthorised has been using some of the email aliases the place has set up for disseminating information to large groups of people. As a result I've had to disable them all pending a renaming scheme. Now and again on of the admin staff needs an alias re-enabled so that some official stuff can go out. For some reason, when I uncommented some of the aliases, I was still getting bounces which complained that the addresses weren't valid. Sunday night I got round to RTFM and discovered that alias files take one to three hours to propagate to all the mail machines. Hmm. Just hope the AO sent out the email she wanted about a Monday meeting at a time when tha aliases she wanted were active.

Oh, yeah, the party.

Got home late on Friday, went out for chinese and watched Buffy and Angel (good Recovery). Had a friend round. They went home, we got the place ready and went to bed. Saturday we got food ready, locked up all the valuables and stood by for action. People arrived on and off throughout the day, food was consumed, chat was passed back and forth and a good time was had by all. The afternoon was taken up with DVD watching. Rush Hour and The Mummy happened while I kept an eye on on-line happenings (deeply unRecovery-like) for word of people leaving to travel here. By the evening we had about 16 people in the house, eating, drinking and chatting. Naturally we all knew them, but the overwhelming majority were in IT-related fields and knew each other though over channels than me and the girlfriend. IT really is an incestuous place to live.

About 01:30 on Sunday morning (we're all really old, 23-27) people who were leaving left, those who were staying bedded down for the night. It was good to be the hosts and have a bed already booked. People were up by 08:45! FFS! As the hosts we had to get up too, helped make breakfast, instructed on use of the shower, etc. A few more people sloped off around midday leaving us to do the clearup. Being an anal retentive about tidy I'd been doing some throughout the party, so the clean up only took ten minutes. The rest of the day was given over to Slack. Still got to bed late though.

The camera ran out of batteries, the images I got aren't impressive, I'll put them up in the gallery anyway later today.

[10:25] New Tale Fron the Front: Pieter has sent a copy of what happens When New General Managers Attack!

[12:20] O.K. that's weird. Someone's just dialed into my modem. My 'number unlisted' modem. Sitting across the room from it means that I can roll across and power it off in a few seconds. Still, makes me wonder who might have been doing it though. Probably a wrong number...

[17:40] Another boring afternoon. The cam II box crashed (again). Perhaps I've compiled something into the kernel which really doesn't like something else. Either that of the brooktree kernel drivers are really crap. I guess I can get by with rebooting it until I get time to take a look. Annoying as it might be the grab/convert stuff.

17/03/2000
[13:00] Party tonight, and all weekend. I'm tempted to take the camera home to get some shots for the Gallery. I almost demounted camera II so I could provide live 2 minute updates from home, but some people probably don't want to appear on the site, especially if they get drunk. So I'll stick with stills at selected moments, unless I forget to take it home.

Going into town now to pick up cocktail sticks (yes, real party equipment) and assorted gubbins that we haven't managed to get get.

[14:00] Joke I just heard: Microsoft Frog2000: *reboot* *reboot* *reboot*

[19:00] Far too late to still be here but I was securing a RedHat box before I went home. Party time. See you Monday.

16/03/2000
[15:50] Yeah, great. Not one comment on the camera. Thanks guys. There I was last night, working away on getting USB support onto a Windows 95 laptop so that I could cater for some grubby oik and his digital camera and not one person emailed to say "Hey, nice work there. I'm impressed." Sod you all. And the horse you ride in on. No, not really. If you're anything like me you don't really care and it's just something else to eat up bandwidth with.

21:15 I was here till last night. Only when I'd finally got Windows to acknowledge that USB existed and was usable did I go home. Next morning I fought a pitched battle with the Zip drivers and emerged victorious. Bloody, but unbowed. Bastard thing. I turned my attention to the Ricoh-5300 digital camera the guy had splashed out on. Connects via USB or serial. I'd done USB because there's no proper serial port on the ultra-slim Dells we have for people like him. After a fruitless hour installing/deleting/reinstalling the software and the USB drivers for the camera I turned to the Ricoh forum on- line. Ten minutes after that I turned up a post mentioning offhand that the USB drivers on the CD labeled Windows95/98/NT are in fact only for Windows98 and 98SE. The reason for this is the fact that Windows95's USB support is a joke and frankly a pile of wet toss.

Nice of them to mention that. I went and saw the guy and sorted out that I'd get him another idential laptop with Windows98 on instead. Copied over all his files and installed the absolutely dire MGI PhotoSuite II image manipulation software he'd gotten free with it and got stuff working after another two hours or so.

Nasty stuff. Anyway, now he has a removable Zip drive (parallel), a USB hot-plug camera and all his documents plus a network connection on a machine I'd kill most of the staff here with a spoon for. There's no justice.

15/03/2000
[10:20] Anyone grok the "config> " section of FreeBSD? Even though I've taken out loads of options from the custom kernel I built last night there are all kinds of things for which I have not idea of where they came from. I won't list them here, but I'm confused as to where it's trying to config them from when I don't reference them. There's things like wdc0 and matcd0, both of which I removed the lines for. Should I have left them in and commented out?

[10:30] D'oh. It's all the cruft in /boot/kernel.conf. Well, I think I'll leave that with a 'q' in it and have done.

[16:00] It's an auspcious day here at BOFHcentral. If you look closely at the main page you may notice that there in indeed a reference to another camera!. My thanks must go to Erin, owner of the bofhcam.org domain for supplying the camera free of charge, to my unix support landlord type friend who helped me with my first ever FreeBSD install (yes, the camera's running under FreeBSD) and dealt with almost half of my requests for information on recompiling the kernel to support the Brooktree card. One day soon I'll get round to updating the Luser Type Questions. It may even be today.

14/03/2000
[12:30] Is it me or have I picked the flakiest installation of FreeBSD ever? Either that or the scripts/apps I'm running just don't agree with this operating system. At 02:20 this morning the machine locked up again, solidly. Still no problem at the moment, gives me something to play with. I'm installing FreeBSD on the old server this afternoon for something to do. With luck and a following wind I should be able to then take it home and use it for the girlfriend and I to do some web work and also have a nice box for logging though etc.

Going to lunch with the landlord today, we'll go to the department store where we got the blinds and see if we can get the broken one replaced. I can't image we'll get it for about two weeks.

[19:20] Well, we didn't make our lunch appointment. Something came up at his end which meant that I ate at my desk, again. I really should get out more often during the day. As it was I got to play with my Recovered box, which is even now compiling a new kernel with SMP support and no IDE stuff. With luck this machine should kick at least a little bottom. Of course the compile is taking a while, but at least it's not fallen over yet. All operating systems suck. I've been trimming down the scripts I've been running on the other FreeBSD box (no more csh script!) and will be setting it going again tonight to see if this fixes the problems I've been having.

Many thanks to Neil who suggested I join the UK FreeBSD User Group mailing list. I'll get around to it and if my problems persist I may even venture into the breach and put forth a frequently asked question and take my flames.

13/03/2000
[12:45] Odd morning this morning. We've had invoices from Misco for some printer stuff we ordered weeks ago forwarded from the Royal Mail because they put the paper in the windowed envelope the wrong way around. We also got the invoice for the second set of stuff which they delivered by accident. I've decided to keep it as it's useful stuff. And pay for it.

Installed two IMAP clients this morning and was pleasantly suprised to find that both users understood how they worked straight off. Also stuck the spare 64Mb that wouldn't work in the girlfriend's machine into the BDC for the secondary NT domain. What was a p100 with 64Mb of RAM is now a dual P100 with 128Mb. Not really a blindingly fast machine, but good when I take it home and install linux on it. Also ordered some more caddys for SCSI drives.

Must order a PC today for the librarian.

[19:10] Well, PC ordered, afternoon hectic (all kids of luser worries and me having to justify the second of the two Misco orders to the AO) but I'm over it now. Not only that, but I've started using webfs(d) for something I might be able to tell you about tomorrow, if FreeBSD doesn't go tits-up over night. It might. Anyway, need to go home and convince the girlfriend that we need to test-view Rush Hour (Jackie Chan) before the party this weekend.

10/03/2000
[14:00] Hurrah! Friday. I've groked WinAT, finally. That, coupled with mandatory profiles and some jibbing about with registries has left me with machines that reboot every night at 01:00. This is good as it means any mess that people leave on the desktops (something I can't really stop) will vanish over night. Which is good. The broken Zip drive is now working and I have to prepare for the luser who went out a bought a digital camera and requires this Zip drive to be taken abroad.

I really should order the new administrative server soon, but I'm caught up in all kinds of PC rollout stuff at the moment and can't really spare the time involved in setting up the main NT domain to move servers, plus moving everyone's printers and filespaces.

Hmmm, do I buy atboot, or do I just go with logging in every time I reboot the server? It's a tough choice.

[17:20] Yes, yes, thanks for the typo corrections people, also thanks for the comments on working with locked-down NT machines. For some reason reaon my machine seems to suddenly be running like I've got it wading though mud. I don't know why, I think it might be something to do with installing Netscape 4.7 morning when 4.6(1) started to be more trouble than it was worth. This is useless. I think I'll reboot before I go home tonight.

09/03/2000
[09:45] Well, MISCO have indeed shafted the pony. The order I amended yesterday arrived this morning. On the delivery note my order number is the same as the first one, theirs is different.

I think I'll wait for the invoice before I do anything...

[15:10] Spent a morning fighting with NT policies and have ended up with a bastard setting that (along with TweakUI) enables you to do very little in a fully functional way. Not only that, but it barely pisses about with setting permissions on files on the machine (thus making installs much easier) and just means you have to install some stuff that I'd install anyway. I think I'll start on the second machine today, then go pay in a cheque and buy a Zip adaptor. I may even go home early, again.

Slack or what?

[18:00] I'm now at home and kind of wishing I'd brought my karate gi home with me, because then I could go to karate, y'know, if I wanted to. Which I'm not sure I do. So in any case, it's a good thing. Thanks to Gabe, who reads the journal frequently enough to point out mistakes quickly enough that none of you other buggers notice them.

08/03/2000
[12:00] PrettyPark.exe has arrived in the institution. I've changed the AV stuff to simply delete anything it thinks is a virus, rather than attempting a clean. This I like as it's more BOFHly. The AO came in all-of-a-bother just now, couldn't work the fax machine. Seems a film director had come in, scanned in a massive 24 page document and set it going. Of course, the person he was faxing was engaged so it started on its timely dialback sequence (4 times, 3min apart). Unfortunately it seems to listen to the engaged tone for 1 min before actually disconnecting to wait for the next go. They'd (the staff in the room) had read the entire manual in an attempt to cancel this (including using the correct sequence of keypresses apparently). I came in, pressed the buttons, it stopped having a fit. Had to tell them it's because I get paid so much I get all the complex tasks.

We order from MISCO. They supply all kinds of stuff, it's usually of reasonable quality. I ordered those parts from them yesterday, if you recall. They rang this morning to tell me that the HDD and video cards I'd ordered weren't in stock and could I drop the cards and get some cheaper but larger disks? Sure. Seagate for Western-Digital, 8.4 for 6.4Gb at a cheaper price is fine. And frankly, given that we use Dells with onboard video anyway, if the video dies there's a good chance the machine is U/S. So I agreed.

Five minutes after the guy rang off with the new price, a delivery turned up from MISCO. Everything but the video cards were in there. Including the three Western-Digital HDDs they'd said were out of stock. I have to wonder now if I'll be getting three 8.4Gb drives tomorrow and an invoice that doesn't mention the 6.4Gb ones. Either way, it doesn't really matter. It's not my money.

This afternoon I'll set up one of the new machines for the library people, order another one and then get off early again to go to Tandy and pick up a new external Zip PSU. We installed 128Mb into the PFY's machine this morning. Certainly helps NT more than it does Windows98, which probably can't deal with more than 128Mb sensibly.

Speaking of Windows 98, I have a PIII-450 with lots of RAM at home, all IDE unfortunately. I was running Winamp and loading The Register over dialup and the whole machine froze for a few seconds. Winamp skipped badly too. Same nasty skipping happened this morning while I was watching a quicktime clip. I've asked around and someone seemed to think it might be DMA for the HDD or Bus Mastering. Can anyone spread a little light on how to get this stuff to work properly so that things are a little more smooth? I think it's either interrupts, bus speed or something else I haven't thought of yet.

[17:40] I hate NT and all the apps which 'run' on it. I'm going to be rolling out boxes (30 in the end) into enemy territory and I want them to be as locked down as possible. Problem is there's no documentation widely available on what I can and can't keep away from the lusers. It's a case of do a few files/directories at a time and keep logging in as a user to make sure everything still works fine. I suppose once I've done it right I can just duplicate the settings again. If anyone has any documentation on locking down NT, I'd appreciate it.

07/03/2000
[13:00] I'm in an NTL area. Not that that narrows down my location in the UK much. Not sure if I'll go for the free ISP deal as I'm always assured that the line I have at 33.6 will never be engaged. Plus it's free, rather than me having to pay for at least ten pounds worth of normal calls per month. If they eventually get their arses in gear with cable modems I'll either pay for one myself or see if I can get the job to pay for that instead.

Shipped out a PC to one of the lusers in an outlying building this morning. He was reasonably clued, but had screwed his parallel cable in so tight that it had to be left in place, or leave the port dangling inside the case (it had locked itself to the retaining nuts). I've left his local sysadmin to move all his files and Eudora (*ptui*) settings and mailboxes across. That'll be fun. I hope she doesn't take offence to the explicit instructions I've left on how to work with the machine. The bricktext probably helped.

[14:30] Just fired off an order for almost £700 with of spare parts for the building's machines. Graphics cards, network cards, HDDs, mice, keyboards, NICs, printer cables and gubbins like that. With luck I'll get out of here early this afternoon and go buy some RAM for the PFY's machine (she can't do all my work if she's waiting for the scanning work I get her to do). 192Mb should see her right for the short term. With a new scanner on the cards she should be a lean, mean scanning machine.

06/03/2000
[12:50] Scared myself a bit this morning. The new server's arrived (Dual P-III 500Hz, 256Mb DIMMs, etc. etc.) and I've been running my diagnostics on it. While it was running I opened the front face-plate of the server we have doing sterling service at the moment and noted a warning light (orange) flashing. Shit! What's that? I partially closed the panel to see what the marking was next to the LED...

[O] !

Arse! What's gone wrong? The PFY wandered over as I was beginning to sweat an upcoming HDD Failure on an almost new machine. "Oh, that's the "You've opened my front cover while I'm powered on, you numbnuts!" light." she says. Gah.

[16:32] Hmmm, although everything seems to be running as quickly as you'd expect something you'd expect to run under WindowsNT, there's a niggling little problem. Under each disk point on the front of the machine there is a bank of three lights which denote Power, Access and Fail. On the server I have already in operation the power light is on for the disk I have in there. With a separate light for disk access...

In consultation with Colm on #drum we've worked out that the lights only work if you've got a hot-plug backplane. Something the old server has and the old one doesn't. Otherwise the only differences are the amout of disks and the space on them. I've left 33Gb of space unpartitioned for the moment because we have no use for it at the moment and that amount of gaping chasm is sure to attract all kinds of stuff, if I'm not careful.

03/03/2000
[10:00] I didn't even go to karate in the end. I woussed out. How crap is that? I dunno, I just don't enjoy the teaching at this place as compared to the last club I was at back in Manchester. I will try to get along to it next week, if I have the inclination. Otherwise I'll just start going to the gym instead. I have to do something apart from sitting in front of a machine all day and night.

Got home last night and put up the blinds. Or at least one of them. It went up beautifully and feels and looks like it's a permanent fixture. Works nicely too. The other one unfortunately had a weak bit of plastic. Tiny part really but responsible for keeping the whole thing attached to the frame in one corner. It's useless with this thing broken. Superglue doesn't seem to have any effect as it's both too small and too badly placed to hold together while it bonds. I also think that the elasticity of the plastic was an essential part of its fixing. With superglue you get a rigid bond with no give. That won't work. I called the landlord who's hopefully coming round on the weekend with the car to take it back to the shop where it was ordered to have a complain about shoddy workmanship.

With luck we should get a replacement by the party. Oh, didn't I mention the party? Yeah, we're having a 'house keeping warm' party in two weeks. Although we've been in the place for a good few months now we feel it's time we warmed it over and invited some friends round to see the place and make approving noises. As such we've booked all the people we wanted to (and could) invite, given the space and told them they will attend on the weekend. We've pulled people away from athletics meets, cat neuterings and pub sessions to come and eat food, watch DVDs and generally laze about doing nothing really constructive. We hope to go from Friday night till Sunday afternoon. There's free net access (courtesy of work), DVDs, videos, food, drink, possibly some sleep and conversation into the small hours.

I'd invite you all, but frankly the house isn't that big.

[17:00] Flaky network connections. Sorry if you couldn't get through.

02/03/2000
[11:30] The DVD player works a treat. After a disappointing flirt with S-Video I managed to get RGB from player to TV.

Whoa.

Once you've had DVD you never go back. I didn't really believe that, until now. Anyway, I'm going to have to drag myself to Karate tonight when I'd much rather be at home, putting up the Velux blinds on the skylights and settling down to watch a DVD or two. Admittedly I can feel the input straining to be allowed to go through a nice sized amp and 5.1 speakers. I'm going to wait a month or two, let my bank balance recover.

I talked the AO though moving files this morning on the phone. It took six minutes, that was fun. Hopefully I'll be getting a server from Dell soon, and perhaps even a replacement HDD for the one that came with Win95 on it.

The main people are starting to trickle in to have mug-shots taken so that we can put bios of them up on the institution web server. Of course it's muggins here who has to correct all their typos and convert it to something approaching reasonable HTML.

[18:10] Am pissed off. I have a problem here which I've been struggling with for days now and not even the author of the program I'm using has any ideas why it's not working. I appreciate that this thing is free and worked on for no other reason but desire to make it work, but I'm skating close to trashing FreeBSD in favour of RedHat, which I know I can get something working under.

I don't really want to go to karate. This is the second time I've attempted to stick with it and it's just not working. I don't know what it is. Perhaps it's the fact that I still haven't been able to buy the 1st Kyu belt I've earned after two years, or maybe the fact that no-one talks to me and it's a case of turn up do stuff, go home. It might even be the fact that the one guy I do know is a little strange with me and doesn't speak that much and looks at me like what I'm saying is really 'off'. Tends to ake me start rattling things off to fill in his silence.

Anyway, I messed up a set of moves last week which doing prearranged sparring with him last Thursday and it felt like he was saying "FFS! Learn or piss off!" which didn't help. Frankly I could almost give up again, except that last time I wasn't doing anything I got jumpy. I dunno, most of me wants to go home and fix up the blinds on the skylights, the tiny, tiny remainder thinks I should go to karate because I might enjoy it.

If I don't enjoy it tonight I'm not going again.

01/03/2000
[09:00] A pinch and a punch for the first of the month. With luck my DVD player will be delivered today. I've got (I think) all the bases covered concering where it will arrive. I left the modem downloading 146Mb from one of the NT machines last night, 11 hours later it still hadn't finished. I really, really hope I've dialed up right and this call is free...

I left for work with it stiil going. The guy from Dell emailed me yesterday evening seems they found my order, they just hadn't filled it. Oiks.

Today I spring-clean the AO's old machine in preparation to give it to the custodian. Yes, even he is getting email now. I should find some way to secure it to the desk down there as it's in a prime vanishing point when left unattended. He doesn't really need the PIII 500Mhz we bought, so that went to the AO (I think I told you that already). Other than that it's business as usual except for some fun things I'll be doing this afternoon. More information on that if it applies to you lot. Otherwise, you get nothing.

[09:42] Erk! Just been informed by the PFY, who gathers covert intelligence from the staff in the building, that the AO is leaving. She's got a new job. I assume that we'll get the usual 3 month grace period before I have some new line manager to train up. There are two ways this could go. Either a) the new person is IT friendly and wants me to carry on as normal, or do more 'exciting stuff with lots of our money', or b) they're some draconian bastard who pulls the purse-strings shut whenever I buy a new printer cable. Either way, in the short term, it is bad for Zathras.

[10:27] Woohoo, my DVD player has arrived here at work. Not only that but my download from home has also finished. The PFY has agreed to drive me home and then back to work at lunchtime, so I don't have to cycle back to let her in. The hardest part is going to be stopping from trying it out until I get home. I've just noticed that it's not very deep at all, this means it should fit on one of the TV's cabinet shelves wonderfully. The remote is rather chunky though. Not something you could lose down the back of the sofa (if we didn't have futons anyway) as you'd feel as though you were being subjected to The Screw.

Hey! It comes with an S-Video lead. I could plug into one of my capture cards here at work and see if it works... I must resist. It's also come with two 'free' DVDs; Le Masque De Zorro (French dubbed version, but with English DD5.1 soundtrack on there as well) and 'Nothing to Lose' starring Tim Robbins and Martin Lawrence. The IMDB with 1305 votes gives it 6.7/10 and some lukewarm reviews, but frankly it's free, so what do I care?

Oh yeah, a belated Happy St. David's Day. And if I find out what machine Jonathan is sitting at, I'll send a voltage spike right up his monitor lead...