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August's Journal
October's Journal


29/09/2000
[11:10] Quick rush this morning. First the guy came in to collect the PCs we're giving away free, so that involved lots of lifting and carrying. Once they'd gone I had to shift two more PC/printer/monitor combinations in quick succession. Admittedly this means we have a little more room in the place, but it's sad to see virgin machines leaving the nest to be tainted and sullied by the world at large. Still, I get to order some more soon.

[11:55] Should have done it months ago. But I've shut down my last ftp server on boxes where this is an option. Moved the update of the journal and stuff to scripted scp. Finally. Of course there are some boxes that can't have it shut down on. I'm working on ways to secure them utterly.

[13:40] Hurrah! My amplifier's back from the repair shop. They want to soak-test it for the minor fault I sent in for, but are happy if I collect it this afternoon. I may go home early. See if I can convince someone to push the bike while I carry the box. After that it's time to test the DVD Platinum DVD I got in the states, and all the others I've been racking up in anticipation. Did I mention my The Princess Bride has shipped from DVD Boxoffice?

[16:20] Begun download for RedHat-7.0 the first .iso file. I'll come back on Monday and find it stopped about 45k before completion.

28/09/2000
[14:50] Managed to sell a few PCs of the institution's today. Unfortunately I don't get to keep the money. Still, it can go towards getting a fairly good one to experiment with Windows 2000 on. A few more days and we may have enough room in some of the other rooms to have room to swing some felines. We have PCs coming out of our ears at the moment. We have to be careful that I don't sell one of the new ones at a cut-price discount.

I guess I should set up some more machines at some point. Luckily the ghost image takes all the effort out of it. It's just a shame the client service executable has such a crappy memory leak in it.

This new scanner we have here kicks butt compared to the old one. OCR is a breeze compared to the hand-crank-and-pray way we used to do it. Really really need to get rid of these PCs.

[17:40] Any BOFHs in the Netherlands, there's someone who's being thrown out of the US on this 'time's up you're out' deal. She's Clued and probably could do with a job. If you read a.s.r you'll know who. If you have any jobs for Clued sysadmins and stuff, give her a shout, or mumble something at me. Thanks.

27/09/2000
[16:35] Today has been a clearout day. We must have dumped at least one metric buttload of crap from the cupboards and shelves. Not only that, but as the AO has said there's no more room in the building to have as a test lab we've dumped an empty cupboard and stuck in another table. This gives us some room to fiddle about with PCs with odd configurations and stuff like that. Things on the cards are Windows 2000, MeetingMaker (shudder), Samba servers and stuff I haven't thought of yet.

26/09/2000
[12:15] Just sent out an email to people who are 'eligible' for PCs and printers to come and collect them as I'm not shipping them out to them. I've also stated that once the PCs leave here this office has nothing to do with them, we just own them. This means the local sysadmins will have to ask me for the administrator passwords and then look after them themselves. I know a few places where this isn't going to go down too well. Frankly I don't care, I just Ghost the machines and send them out. Let them deal with them.

The AO has pointed out some shared calendaring software which he used to used at the place he worked before he was assimilated here. I've had a look at it. It's monsterous. You could run IBM, Microsoft and three governments with it. I've downloaded the trial version but don't have any machines I'm willing to sacrifice to it at present. Even if I did, I'd not have the room to play with them. I've asked for a brief meeting with the AO to discuss using one of the 'scarce resource' spare rooms as a test lab. I may also mention that the servers are getting more and more full of dust and fluff from the floors here. Varnished cork floors, can you believe that, for a room with the servers in and sitting on that same floor?

Sometimes I think I stay here just so it doesn't all go horribly wrong. Plus there's no-one who can run things right but me around here.

[17:00] Just spent the afternoon fdisking twelve old PCs and crapping all over the NTFS partition with a DOS primary partition, then formatting that. When we sell these things no-one's going to benefit from 'free software'. Now all I have to do is mention that even I don't know which ones have 2Gb drives and which have 1Gb ones. Caveat Emptor I guess.

[18:00] Damnit, if the secretaries haven't typed up, checked and printed the brochures with the same goddamn wrong bloody email address as I told them they weren't this time last year. Do they listen? Do they think to ask me if they've gotten this piddling little thing right? No, goddamnit it. They may make this place look like it crawled out of something's arse and rotted in the corner, but I'm damned if they'll make it look like this office doesn't have the Clue to make the 'right' email addresses active. If anyone asks, it's nothing to do with me. I Was Not Consulted.

25/09/2000
[11:00] Just sent my my email letter declining the offer of the job. Took me most of the time I was at my parents' this weekend to get it right. And it still wasn't when I sent it. I won't cite the reasons and such, as I don't want to. It would have been a big change and might have increased my skills and stuff, but if I can get a job like that now, what's to stop me getting a job like that that I do feel good about in a year or less? I'll have more experience and I'll be truly ready to leave here.

[11:20] I went and told the AO about my not leaving. He was properly gratified and decided that getting loads of new projects was the best way to get me to stay. Naturally I didn't disabuse him of this offer. I've mentioned linux intergration and the inevitable rise of Windows 2000. So new kit on the horizon at any rate. Still no reply from the person who offered me the job. Hope they don't call out a hit squad to blackball me throughout the institution.

Naturally I'm having problems with NT user creation and batch files. I've dumped it on the Technician as she likes that kind of thing. Must set up some more machines for dumping out to people so we have some space for the kit I want to buy. Must learn some more useful linux stuff too. Teach the Technician to install RedHat at the very least.

[11:55] Reply concerning my turned down offer. Obviously doesn't believe that I am turning down the offer for the reasons I gave, but mentioning that if there's ever a post with them again and I want to apply they'll be happy to look at my application form. Which is kind of nice. Still, it's all over now.

22/09/2000
[11:00] Back from interview. I don't know. The place is huge (it's got an engineering background). The computing staff is fourteen strong. I'd be working with every flavour of linux and unix under the sun (as well as creeping NT syndrome). The interview went well, although my lack of solid non-Windows operating systems might have been a sticking point. Also the fact that I probably couldn't start for about two-and-a-half months probably won't have gone down well.

I don't know, I'm not a big one for moving around. I like to stick in place. But I'd also like to get into other stuff. The interview had seven people in it. They asked some standard questions and I gave some intelligent answers. The dress code can be relaxed (luckily), I'm not sure how possible it would be to run the BOFHcam there; they're VPN'ed to hell and back and firewalled in places too.

I don't think that matters... if they offer me the job... I don't think I'll take it. The feeling wasn't right. The grouping of people, the nazi networking, and something else not quite right meant that I don't think I'd fit in there...

I've been the boss for too long not to get my own way, and with fourteen other people and a committee to report to and awkward questions to have to answer if I want to do anything fun, I think I can do without a move for the moment. I don't think the change of scenery and improved learning areas can make up for the loss of a free network connection, the BOFHcam, and the ability to fuck about with machines and not do much work when there's not much to do. Does this sound like the right decision?

I don't think I'm being greedy. I'm still happyish here. I just wish there was more officially to do than roll out and keep NT systems running. Maybe I'll set up some more stuff here and increase my chance of getting a good job elsewhere. I think I want a job where I'm in a small group of like-minded sysadmins where either I'm in the same institution, just a different section, or somewhere different. I think the amount of effort I've put into the BOFHcam means it's going to be part of the reason of chosing or refusing a job.

I was quite amazed that the girlfriend agrees with this analysis. Don't take a job if it's only "O.K." but doesn't let me run the site. I thought I was being stupid. The place was... too big. I'm not sure I could have adjusted my mentality to fit the space. What I'd really like is a small office of about seven or so people and me who support lots of stuff, but keep themselves to themselves and deal with people via email. Either that or a games company where people write games, shoot Nerf and don't care what's on the network unless it increases the ping for their Unreal Tournament sessions.

Reasons I didn't like the place:
- Too big
- Too many users
- Lack of control over the network (lots of divergent groups)
- Lack of free connection through modem
- No way to run BOFHcam
- Working under a boss
- I don't know, a feeling of being a small fish in a big tank
- Ephemeral 'wrongness' where basically, I wouldn't be, the One.

[15:40] Simon T.'s emailed me. For the present there are to be no "BOFH in a Nutshell" T-shirts. There are reasons for this. With luck and time, this may change.

[15:45] I'm going to see my parents this weekend in Leeds. My mum rang the girlfriend a few days ago to ask for all my current favourite foods and drinks. I love going home to be spoilt and see the folks.

[16:55] They're only gone and offered me the job. Arse. I've put them off until Monday.

21/09/2000
[16:20] NT meeting all morning. Don't know if I told you but I'm on the NT working party for the Institution. This means I get to take time out from what I do here to bitch about NT with other people, and come up with some suggestions as to how to deal with NT and now WIndows 2000 in the least painful way possible.

It's looking more and more likely that if I remain here for more than a year I'm going to have to install Windows 2000 throughout (Professional==NT Workstation, Server/Advanced Server==NT Server). The upgrading Vs clean installation of a new server configuration is a tough one. When you install the new Windows OS you have to deal with MIcrosoft's DNS requirements, Active Directory System and all manner of interrelated crap. Something I don't want to touch really.

I'm not in tomorrow morning either. So you'll have to satisfy yourself with camera II and the back of the PFY's head. A quick reminder again. Copyleft have three of my T-shirt designs again and are doing "Things" with them. More information as it becomes available. I was contacted by one of the authors of "Windows NT User Administration" who wanted the T-shirt design for his co-author for his birthday. Maybe I'll get his address and send him a colour laserprint of it.

[17:30] Gym tonight. Get to do the new routine, should be a bit more taxing. Don't know what to wear for the interview tomorrow. I'm carrying on to work afterwards so I'm not wearing a suit (nasty thing). I think I'll wear clean jeans and a rugby to or something. Not sure a BOFH T-shirt would go down well.

20/09/2000
[14:10] Amazing what effect bad weather has on you. Even though things have been going wrong again today. The fact that the sun is actually visible some of the time means I've been happier. Still no sign of my amplifier coming back from the shop. My TV still hums. My copy of The Princess Bride is still 'on order' and I've just preordered Gladiator. Eventually something will happen.

[16:20] Also found out that the year planner we ordered had been mis-labeled by the people who sent it out. So we have a shite one I can't write in, rather than one which actuallyas some resonably sized spaces. Still Copyleft have three of my designs now. So there's a chance there will be good new shortly.

[17:00] Hmm, Jenni's changed her site design. Quandry time. Do I copy it? At the present time her new beta version is up at http://www.jennicam.org/j2kr/index.html. Your opinions welcome.

19/09/2000
[15:15] Crap day today. Got soaked cycling in to work. This was because a) I went to bed late last night and hence got up equally late, and b) the weather's been sodding awful for days. Soaked in work I sat there and steamed until I put on my spare T-shirt (for the gym tonight) and borrowed a heater from one of the other offices.

Other than that today has been a big day for stupid sodding NT and its bastard applications such as Norton "used to be a dream application" Ghost and Microsoft "always crashing for some unknown reason" Word 97. Norton Ghost's client agent seems to have a slow and steady memory leak and Word is just Word. It seems that if you don't reboot an NT machine running Service Pack 6a (possibly any service pack) after a week or so, the thing runs out of memory if the client is running.

I really don't want to go to the gym this evening. In fact today is a day I'd happily be working elsewhere. NT being its usual impenetrable self, things going wrong and people not turning up for a demonstration of stuff. I can't help it if Word keeps crashing, it's shoddy code and Service Pack 6a isn't worth the space it occupies on my servers.

18/09/2000
[11:30] Monday again. Still not much contact from Copyleft. We've been in discussions but I guess they're damned busy at the moment. I was furtling through the logs for the bofhcam.org site this weekend and noticed that a) the logs weren't rotating and b) some people had been going where they weren't wanted. Two minutes later and I'd fixed some RedHat brokeness and updated my httpd.conf to stop any more prying eyes. Jeez, keep your browsers to yourself.

Just delivered a new PC out into the wild. It's sad to see them go out there, where they can be sullied and crashed and have non-standard software installed on them. But you have to learn to let go.

[17:30] Hurrah. Managed to track down both Gill Sans MT and ITC Garamond. This means the actual T-shirts (when they happen) will use the actual fonts as used by O'Reilly. This is good news for the pedantic of you out there.

15/09/2000
[14:45] Great; Friday. Not only is the PFY not here (slack day all round). The new PCs have arrived (easy installs with Ghost make it look like I'm working hard), the second camera is now working perfectly, the web server of Ingvar's has been patched and is also working perfectly, I've found a page on repairing Wildfires (even though mine's beyond repair) and I'm converting another Windows95 machine to the slightly less deplorable Windows NT SP5+hotfixes.

So it's a fairly good day all round, really. Thanks to Mark for the URL, thanks to Ingvar for the web server (tiny thing; only 19930 bytes compiled). I'm in and out of the office all this afternoon doing the upgrade and poking holes in the broken Nerf gun for the rest. Gym tonight, followed by pizza from the delivery place. Tomorrow we're out at a convention committee meeting, Discworld 2002. I recommend you come to it. Have a look at http://www.dwcon.org/.

14/09/2000
[16:30] Woohoo, the new Wildfire's arrived. Boy does it make a lot of noise while it pounds whatever you're aiming at with a stream of foam darts. I lost one dart for ten minutes until I found it in the output bin for the laser printer lodged in the corner. The things ricochet.

Bit peeved with the camera on the BOFHcam II server. I thought that when I moved the camera to a platform other than FreeBSD I'd have no problems, but the stuff I use on camera one seems to work fine. It can't be the driver modules as they work fine under xawtv, it's odd. The picture appears to be missing some scan lines, as though chunks are overlapping and thus leaving a blank bit at the bottom.

[18:30] Ah. A new version of xawtv and some fiddling with the superior way of taking shots (finally a .rc file for settings rather than having to recompile the source every time I made a change) and we're ready to go. The only thing I need now is my friend Ingvar's superior ihhtpd to recognise and supply the right mimetype stuff. With luck this should happen tomorrow. I'm going home to put dents in the walls with my Nerf.

13/09/2000
[12:50] BP issue an apology for the current panic-induced petrol crisis. Nice. The accounts database thingy has been up the spout again this morning, as I learn that one of the accounts I paid for an Office 97 Professional license out of doesn't exist any more as it was a typo. Now I have to cancel the purchase order and do another one. Luckily this isn't anything really bad as we're always a few licenses behind in buying. I can live with this one not getting back to me this instant.

Still waiting for my new Nerf Wildfire to arrive. I've decided to hold of on dissecting the broken one until the new one arrives. That way if something goes wrong somewhere I can still send this one back. When/if the new one does arrive I can cannibalise the broken one for spares. I've read enough reviews which say the pumping handle can get broken if you're a little too... enthusiastic. Extra darts either way.

I had The Princess Bride on order from DVD Boxoffice in Canada (good prices, free delivery) and they said they had it in stock. Unfortunately it now appears to be on back order. Gits. Why didn't the tell me that at the time?

Delivering one of the many PCs I've had sitting in the office for months this afternoon. Between 14:00 and 15:00 I won't be here.

12/09/2000
[10:06] Funny. Or at least, I thought so.

[11:30] Hey, great news for me at least. Thinkgeek have said they'll send me a replacement Wildfire without me needing to send back the broken one. I even offered .jpg proof that it wasn't working but they declined. I may order from them again.

[13:35] I want to meet this guy. Read his entire site. Then you'll want to meet him too. Benjy Feen, he's broadcasting on the station I've been listening for.

[15:35] Been working on the accounts database thing and trying to figure out how I can get the same information I had with the old system out of the new system. The desk has begun to suffer from paper overload again. I'm half-tempted to bin the lot and wait for new memos to arrive in priority order.

11/09/2000
[11:50] Grah! My Nerf Wildfire arrives quickly from Thinkgeek and what do I find when I open the pristine transport packaging and the box? The thing's broken. The air resevoir indicator has a chunk missing from it, the while thing rattles and I can see a spring and some pieces of plastic lying about. I pumped the handle once. Nothing happened except there was a ping and another piece of plastic joined the collection visible through the transparent section. Not good.

I've emailed the customer support person to see what happens. I really hope I don't have to send it back to them as that'll take forever. Still I can't prove it unless they're holding it. For gods' sake, it was still covered in lubricating oil, and I haden't even opened the bag with the darts in. I may ask Copyleft if they'll start seling Nerf weaponry. That and Koosh stuff.

I got my first ever purchase order done with the new accounting system. I don't take back any of my misgivings as yet. It still took me two hours.

[16:30] I could've done another purchase order this afternoon, but the system doesn't like the codes it's given me to work with (don't ask). I've been in contact with Copyleft and stuff, made some suggestions which might get things running. I've got a 'fitness assessment' at 18:00 at the gym I go to regularly which means I have to leave reasonalby on time for once.

08/09/2000
[16:40] Friday friday friday. Friday friday friday friday. Yay. Gym tonight. Party this weekend. I've been fiddling with the second camera and moving it to the linux box that runs the dhcp server and samba. I'm that fed up with FreeBSD freezing all the time that I'm going to move the modem over to it as well and then reinstalled FreeBSD with the latest version. As I don't want to have my connection out of action I'm going to move everyting across while I do it.

No I don't trust any operating system during an OS upgrade. Not one.

Not much else happening today. No word on the T-shirts at the moment. Thanks to Ingvar for the minimal httpd. Just what I needed.

07/09/2000
[13:35] Broke the new just now to the AO that I'm seeking other employment. Nothing urgent, but just that he should be wary in case I hand in my three months notice. The thing is, while I like this place in turns a lot and slightly less it's become a little routine for me. I deal with NT all day, I solve a few people's problems, I fiddle with some PCs, maybe order another one and a printer. The colour laser's here, the scanner's here, the new servers work perfectly (for NT, anyway), the new network's in place, the phone system is sorted, the new PCs in the library and the research room are set, it's just a case of day-to-day operations, backups and making the web site for this section of the institution a little less embarassing.

All the new kit is here. There's nothing exciting per se to do here any more. The only things stopping me going elsewhere are a) whether the new job is under too many people, b) whether it's got more than Wintel, c) whether I'm working with Clued people who 'get' the BOFH ethos and d) I can run the bofhcam.

If these aren't satisfied, I ain't moving. I really would like to keep the bofhcam. It's made me a lot of friends.

06/09/2000
[10:45] There are some... problems with copyright over these T-shirts, I think. I've emailed Simon to make sure it's O.K. to have the design which uses the word BOFH printed by Copyleft. His reply hasn't filled me with confidence. Naturally I can't say anything here.

I'm almost completely sure there's no problem with the other images being on my site and Copyleft selling them as T-shirts. BOFHcam.org is not commercial in any way, the designs don't have the word BOFH on them, everything would be done by Copyleft.

I had a brief panic over the use of Windows NT on a design or two. But I've seen a number of pages (some in Yahoo's store) which use the word Microsoft and/or Windows. So I can't imagine Microsoft would have a leg to stand on if they took issue with my designs. If they haven't enforced it with them, they can't expect to enforce it with me.

I really want this to go ahead. I just need Simon to say everything's O.K.

[12:45] Permission to run BOFHcam.org comes from Simon so long as I placed the disclaimer on the disclaimer page as you might have seen and "so long as [I] remain a non-commercial site - i.e. [I'm] not advertising or selling things." Am I going to be breaking this second part by telling people you can get them from Copyleft? I'd appreciate your opinions via email.

[18:40] Got my New York pictures up in the gallery now. As per usual I take no responsibility for how good they are or not. I do like the one which shows just how crap American standards of spelling are, though.

05/09/2000
[09:50] Got in at 08:00 and tried to get things working by taking an image from one of the other machines. The image came off with no problems. It was when I ghosted it back that the four machines who were receiving it complained that the image had a corrupt data run again. I really really don't want this to be a case of bad sectors on the server's SCSI disk. Perhaps I should ghost the entire server disk and keep a cold spare.

[16:45] Reghosted the four machines with a slightly older image and did the changes by hand, didn't take long to do that. That image went on with no complaints whatsoever. Odd. Been in some more dicussions with Copyleft and cleaning up some PCs for sale this afternoon. The PFY's been in the background on camera II doing some Databases of Doom work for next year. I'm going to be leaving early (before 17:30) for once to partially make up for yesterday. Theoretically I should have left at 14:00 to make up really. But that would be silly.

04/09/2000
[17:20] Completely crap day. Got in and the office was freezing. Realised at the gym last night that I had to reghost ten machines, and spent most of the morning fighting with mandatory profiles and policies. After fighting with the librarian about "unscheduled unavailability of essential library machines", by which she meant the one person who wanted to check their email I've resigned myself to doing the reghosting in about ten minutes when everyone's logged off and they don't pull the bandwidth.

I've had printers go wrong, ink run low and the godawful accounting abortion system for the institution still doesn't work anywhere near good enough to get anything done. We've got orders piling up and if things aren't fixed by the time something really important comes up I'm going to order on paper and simply enter them at some point in the future when things 'work'. I can't believe the people at the top decided to go with this crappy stuff. The consultants need to be shot and then beat over the head with a broken steel bottle of liquid nitrogen, and then shot again, in the gonads. Then the painful stuff starts.

I was enjoying my job until recently. Still no word on the T-shirts. I'll keep you posted. When I know, you'll know.

[20:20] Fucking Ghost. Why the hell are the ghost images corrupt? Is it something to do with the hubs? Or the switches? Damnit, I've stayed late to get this done and all I have to show for it is an email to the librarian apologising for more downtime tomorrow. This can't be right. Really don't want to have to shift these machines nearer the server network-wise. Argh. What the hell is wrong? The PC I'm taking the image from boots fine. Next step is to try taking the image from another machine. See how that works. Fucknuggets.

01/09/2000
[18:00] Back at work today. The sleeping at the right time seems to have done the trick jetlag-wise. Big news of the day is that copyleft.net has agreed that they'd like to print and distribute my O'Really T-shirts. Not only that, but NTK featured them in their top story, which is cool. O'Reilly have said that if I don't use the term "O'Reilly" on the site or on the T-shirts I'm not breaking any rules or laws. If I keep bofhcam.org non-commercial by selling the T-shirts through copyleft I think I can satisfy Simon T's rules too. I must ask copyleft to contact Simon with regard to using the BOFH term on what would be a T-shirt they were selling. I do know that they do at least one T-shirt with the word BOFH on it. I'll have to work out things are going to work in full with them anyway.

In other news I've been rolling out some new machines with the Ghost partial setup I told you about last week. It's great that it's Friday, nice feeling to have such a short working week.

[19:45] Although still being here at 19:45 doesn't seem like a great idea does it?

[13:50] Oh yeah, forgot to mention. I admitted Richard into the sanctum today to buy the remainder of the US dollars we hadn't spent in New York. He was suitably in awe of my and looked quite gobsmacked at the "original O'Really posters" I had on the wall.

[16:10] Back from delivering a PC. Gods but some of the Computer Managers out there have it easy. Fully furnished offices, air conditioning for gods' sake. And a seperate room for the servers, space for testbed machines, the works. Bastards. Still, I wouldn't have his job, having to deal with more people, more chances to be hacked (more Clued users), more people to report to.