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30/04/2001
[01/05/2001 - 09:30] The weekend was pretty good. We went down on the Friday and got to the hotel. There was a problem with the fact that the room we'd been allocated stank like the inside of a smoker's lung. We complained and were moved to a tiny room on the top floor. This wasn't too good as the bed was two single beds made up as single beds and shoved together, and there was no zapper for the old television we had either. We just went to bed. In the morning we got them to move us to a new room which only smelt slightly of smoke. A few minutes work with a Leatherman and the sucide-proof window was providing a decent amount of air to get rid of the last of the smell.

The rest of the weekend went quite well. There were forty people wearing my T-shirt designed for the occasion (a BBS meet) which was nice to see, if a little sad. Chinese one night and curry the next in Manchester's Curry Mile brought back my student days. We met some people and had some drinks. I also got the opportunity to go and have a look at the CS department at the University again. I haven't been back there since I graduated from my Masters degree three or four years ago.

We came back today and juggled trains to get home well before dark. That was useful as we were totally exhausted. Finding a mystery debit on my bank statement didn't help much.

27/04/2001
[12:30] No sign of the backpack. I don't think it's going to turn up today. With luck it'll turn up on Monday while I'm still away. Anyone in Manchester this weekend may see me in town (also on Monday). I'm going to a meet for a BBS I've been using since my first few days at Manchester University.

There's a lunch organised today which I'll be coming back from lateish and then I'm out of here at 16:00 to go to the train station. I should do an entry on Monday night from home.

[15:30] Owing to the need to get an earlier train I'll be leaving at around 15:50 rather than 16:15. This means you won't get to watch me for the rest of the afternoon. Be sure and email Copyleft and ask them for Practical Unix Terrorism and Why You Can't Find Your Unix Suystem Administrator as well as Black Ops. You know it makes sense.

26/04/2001
[11:30] Right, well the mini internal NIC+modem card has arrived from Dell, but no sign of the backpack as yet. Do I ring them and get on their nerves a bit more or do I hope that it's going to arrive today at some point. Part of me says it's not going to arrive until tomorrow, or next week.

[11:40] Dell say the correct backpack was ordered this morning (not yesterday like I was told). Hopefully this means it'll arrive tomorrow. I've also been told that if I wish to install the card myself I can do. It comes with full instructions, anyway.

Of course, now everything's inside the laptop I can go along with reinstalling it with a proper partitioning policy and some more up-to-date drivers and stuff. I may even save something for linux.

[16:00] Now I have the thing set up like I like I can get on with doing the important things for today. This includes drafting up something which should get the PFY promoted again, or at least get her post put forward for a re-grading again. This isn't the same as the regrading I was talking about last week (or didn't I mention that?), this is a different one which we can hopefully swing some time around September of this year. Speaking of which, I should get on and start typing it up.

25/04/2001
[09:15] These are intolerable working conditions. Having a DVD-Rom at work is a really bad idea. Having a selection of Region 1 DVDs can't help either. Good job there are things to do or I'd stare at this thing all day.

[10:59] Oh... dear. I'm being restrained because otherwise I will tear someone a new orifice. Dell have sent me a replacement backpack. It's the same as the (wrong) one I already have. We now have two wrong backpacks. I'm beginning to think they don't have any of the one I want. I'm waiting for a call back from the Missing/Wrong/Damaged Orders guy at Dell, again. If he can't find the serial number for the Targus CSB1 this time and confirm that it's right then I'm going to go around there an insert a garden gnome into him. Then order one of the others.

[15:00] My tame Dell guy is a real godsend sometimes. Once I'd managed to insert myself into his phone queue he had a word with Orders and another backpack (hopfully the right one this time) should be getting to me tomorrow. I'll believe it when I see it. Until then, I'm not sending any of the backpacks back. With luck the technician is still on course to come in on Friday or Thursday then I can take the damned thing home and reinstall it.

24/04/2001
[17:15] After a day spent on the phone I've got someone coming out to fit the internal NIC and modem bit that the laptop was missing. I've also been doing some stuff with someone else's laptop installing another USB device (scanner this time). This is the person who I mentioned had just bought a Zip drive as well. Did I mention that? No? Never mind. Anyway, when I got in this morning my order from Dabs had arrived. Naturally it had gone to the other place with roughly the same address. I had to specify a house number and naturally this place doesn't have one. Anyway, 100Mb/sec goodness over eight ports gets fitted tonight. So does the D-sub to BNC cable which might fix some of the ghosting issues, but I'm not holding out any hope, really.

So I was fiddling with the laptop today and I've found out that there is no firmware replacement to make the LG DRN-8080b DVD-Rom drive RPC-1 (region free). This is annoying as I've already used up all the user allowed region changes trying out varions RPC-killing applications. The thing's stuck in Region 1 until I find something (firmware or an application) which will allow me to play things from other regions again. It's not a terrible thing as I have quite a few Region 1 DVDs. But I want the choice. Damnit.

Anyway, I'm reinstalling the laptop come the day the guy installs the last bits of the machine and hopefully I'll get the replacement backpack on the same day.

23/04/2001
[11:45] Weekend was good. Parents were here. I impressed them with Gladiator in dts. I think they appreciate that the money I paid for the place was perhaps a little less of a waste than before. Still nothing from Dabs or Dell. I was informed on Sunday that my laptop had shipped on Friday. But it ain't here. The PFY's on holiday this week, in the States. Luckily it's quiet for a Monday so I haven't been too rushed. Some problems with Dr Solomon's, but nothing I haven't seen before.

The main problem this week is doing something rather than sitting here and messing for the week. I think I'll have to do some Windows 2000 hacking and try to get some more Perl done.

[12:30] Isn't the Internet brilliant? I've just tracked my laptop delivery to within fifteen minutes of the front door. Those barcodes which get scanned whenever a package goes somewhere are a really good idea. Looks like I'll have something fun to do in a while.

[14:00] Sodding Dell. The laptop's arrived but a) the backpack is incorrect (it's the one I explicitly asked not to have), b) there's no modem or ethernet on-board. The DVD-Rom looks like one which is a real arse to make RPC-2 (region free). I'm waiting for a call back from Dell to tell me what they're going to do about it.

[16:45] Still no call from Dell. I need to have a reply today and I'm damned if I'm going to wait more than three days for this to be sorted. Come 16:50 I call again and demand some kind of resolution by Thursday.

[17:35] Right, so apparently they're going to call me back tomorrow before 10:00. The backpack and the laptop are seperate issues, I don't think someone can come round and just fit a modem and ethernet chunk just on site so I assume I'm going to get another one. With luck they'll forget to ask for some of the extra bits back they've gove me. I also hope they get this sorted by Friday or I'll be most displeased.

Someone's printing a 297 page PDF to one of the laser printers in the 'public' area. It was started spooling at 16:21 and finished spooling to the server a while ago, at (checks watch) 17:37 there are still 205 pages to go. This is what you get when you have a LaserJet 4000N with the PCL 6 printer driver being printed to via a Windows NT server. I think I'll try changing the driver to PS and getting the thing to print directly to the printer, unless the Pcounter stuff we use to make sure people don't print more than their own tree's worth ever part of the year.

20/04/2001
[13:05] Godawful day outside today. Doesn't matter though, my first Babylon 5 technomages book arrived via Amazon this morning. With luck my 8-port 100Mb switch should arrive today, along with my D-sub to BNC monitor cable. I've had some more information from Dell on the problems with my laptop rucksack. The short version is that the Dell guy sent me an email yesterday morning at 10:09 with a 1Mb powerpoint presentation and a 1Mb zip file containing a 2Mb BMP. Both had information on the 'missing' rucksack from Dell's site; the 'Inspiron Rucksack Pro'. This is the one that no-one had been able to give him information on. Unfortunately there are no black ones left as the product has gone end-of-line until mid-June. To save on hassles and waiting and stuff I've gone with a Targus black version (Targus model number CSB1) and I'll order the other one later on for the building's loan machines and choose between them.

[15:15] Bah, still no sign of my Dabs kit. I've learnt that although we are between 9 and 11 in the road, we are not number 10, we have no number and the big building even further from the road is number 10. Still, doesn't matter most things for the site tend to end up here anyway.

[16:15] And still nothing. The site says deliveries are between 7am (no chance) and 6pm (unlikely). It's therefore realistic that I'm not going to get it today. Which sucks. Reading Windows 2000 books just doesn't measure up, even on a Friday. My parents are due in town around 17:00. The girlfriend's going home for then to make sure someone's in.

19/04/2001
[12:45] One of our people has been doing a Ph.D while he's been here researching other stuff and today is printout day. We loaded up the documents, checked everything and then sent them to the networked photocopier (not cloging up our printer and much, much faster). Naturally he'd paginated badly and the fact that his machine thought pages were a different size rendered the 1200 pages we printed for him fairly useless for submission purposes. He's on the PFY's machine now, doing repagination on a machine with the photocopier drivers and margins installed.

I'm off to lunch and to sell some games to someone.

[15:30] Which was as fun as it ever is. I've been reading more Windows 2000 documentation and wondering whether it is even anywhere near as good as it all seems to say it is. I've been fiddling with a user's laptop too (a old Inspiron 3700) in eager anticipation of the arrival of mine. With luck it'll arrive while the PFY's away on holiday next week and I can fiddle with it in the office.

I've been helping the other place with some nasty email shenanigans and remote access stuff. Unfortunately there's only so much I can do without getting involved again. Sorry guys, I have a job.

18/04/2001
[16:20] Dell had no idea what backpacks they sell with Inspiron notebooks. I had to email Targus themselves to find out what Dell do and don't do as part of their Dellware stuff. In the end I've gone with the Targus CSB1 (black version) and asked the Dell guy to amend the order if the one that I want which Dell seem to think doesn't exist actually appears somewhere.

I had to go out to a remote part of the institution at 12:00 today to have a look at someone's DeskJet 690C which (you guessed it) wasn't sucking paper and was only sucking. That took an hour.

I've also been moving to SSH v2 protocol with DSA and RSA and getting away from those nasty identity files. Had some problems with sftp and stuff, but I think stuff is all sorted now.

17/04/2001
[10:00] The PFY has her regrading interview today. We're spending the morning going through the masses of stuff that she does and trying to work out how to make it actually look like it is as hard as we know it is.

[12:30] And it really is quite difficult. We know she does a lot and deserves the regrade to a higher level, but saying it and putting it down on paper is tough. Installed Black & White over the weekend, did I mention that? It doesn't look truly out of the ordinary and the tutorial is annoying. I don't like the control mechanism, the lack of in-game configuration or the tutorial which pissed me off. I went back to Delta Force and Unreal Tournament. I'll try Black & White when I have a spare weekend.

[14:50] Fun things to do on an afternoon No.87124: Trolling on a BBS until the people you're aiming at begin to froth with barely concealed rage at your 'ineptitude' of abuse (it's a place where you're meant to verbally abuse people) and resort to high-minded put-downs to try to claim that you're no good at it. Then get into arguments about generalities, all the time proving themselves to be less able to give decent abuse and respond decently to it.

16/04/2001
[12:50] Gave in to temptation today and bought an 8-port 10/100 switch from Dabs as well as a D-sub to BNC monitor cable to see if it helps with the ghosting I've been getting recently with the GeForce and the Iiyama. Either way I suspect I should get a marginally better image whatever happens.

The weekend was good; we had about nine friends over, some of whom stayed the night. We watched a ton of DVDs, had a lot of food and I managed to fob some of them off with O'Really T-shirts. Advertising where you can, eh? Speaking of which, I've still had no response from Copyleft over the three designs I'd like them to consider for the third three-pack. I know they're busy, but a status message would be nice.

Got a cool T-shirt from one of our guests this weekend. He works for Small Rockets and gave me an NFK T-shirt with the logo "Accuracy By Volume". I can get behind that kind of sentiment. Go look at the site, download some demos, poke about. Stuff like that.

Today I'm at home again, wondering about the new laptop and trying not to eat too much. Yesterday we went to a 'Hungry Horse' chain pub. The meals there are... large. I also made the slight mistake of ordering something for two people on the mistaken supposition that people would be able to help me with it. The didn't, apart from the human eating machine known as Bob. Still no real harm done at this age.

25. Twenty-five. I don't like it. It's all downhill from here on in. Hell, in less than five years I'll be thirty. An old man! I should probably have done something with my life by then as well. Any ideas?

13/04/2001
[19:20] Is this thing on?

[19:25] Ah, good stuff; I now have the ability to update (in all the places required) the journal from home now. With judicious use of Pageant and PSCP and some Samba magic I'll never be out of sync again with any luck.

We went to a comedy club last night. It want' too bad, plenty of swearing which I think is the best way to get a cheap laugh from some people. Entertaining at the very least. Once back at the friend's house we were staying at I went to bed for about 01:30. Everyone else followed my example about 30 minutes later. In the morning we got up around 09:30, pottered about, packed, had some breakfast and drove home.

For most of the day I've been tidying the house for tomorrow's party (my birthday party), buying some 'party food' and running another length of Cat-5E through the generous ducting we have here, ostensibly for the camera to be plugged in somewhere other than facing the girlfriend when she's sitting at her PC. but also in a position so that when I finally get the laptop home I can use some of the spare coils of cable left attached for just this reason so I can sit on the futons watching television and doing anything I need to on the laptop which is connected to the cable modem via my router. Life should be good. I think I'll start looking for a 100Mb/sec five-port switch. There's a NetGear which looks promising.

12/04/2001
[15:00] Nothing from the other place today, apparently the machine logs in fine now. I think it was on strike because of the 245Mb of crap^Wdocuments I dropped on it yesterday. This morning I've been trying to spec. up a laptop for home use, paid for by work and getting stuck between the Dell L400 (small, not too powerful, tiny keyboard, very light) and the Inspiron 8000 700XT (bigger, very powerful, good keyboard, heavier). Whatever I end up getting I think it'll be in a Targus backpack, and a nice one at that if possible. With luck I'll be able to get something I can do some serious network development on as well as watching DVDs on the train and testbedding Windows 2000 applications for the place.

I can't go with any other manufacturer for various and multifarious reasons and much as I'd like to, Sony is right out of the question. We go away this evening until tomorrow (when I'm not in work) so I went out at luchtime and bougnt a new sleeping bag to replace the one I've had for the last ten years when I was a Cub and a Scout. Nice thing, unfortunately not feather-filled but packs down to something smaller than my last one and is less than a kilogram.

[17:00] Well, turn up for the books and no mistake. The people at the other place have clubbed together and sent me the person who's temping as the IT contact with a card and a present. The present appears to be The Terminator two DVD set (R2). Someone's been looking at my Amazon wishlist. Which reminds me, I should update it.

11/04/2001
[13:00] Looks like the morning went quite well, which was suprising. Copying across the files from each machine was really slow, even with a 100Mb/sec network but I couldn't see why. Naturally the person who'd organised today as the day to do this wasn't in the office until about 10:30. I didn't care, I was getting paid for being there. Sitting reading email wasn't a problem.

I've filled in my last invoice but realised that the method of payment means that I have to pay tax seperately and fill in two tax returns next year. I guess I can live with that. With luck I won't have to go back to that place again, until they get a permanent sysadmin and I have to go and show them what I've done with the place. The person who's there at the moment as a temp leaves tomorrow (we're all off on Friday and Monday as it's Easter) so someone's going to have to sort out the backups and stuff like that. I'm trying not to care.

One of my friends gave me Black & White last night as a birthday present before we went out to Pizza Hut for some food. Damn him, but I won't be playing it until I've finished some of the other games and sold Tiberium Sun and Firestorm.

[16:45] Obscure problem of the day is the NT Server over at the other place which isn't responding to Ctrl-Alt-Delete from either the console (keyboard lights still work) or a VNC connection. The machine is allowing people to connect via SMB and print through it, save/open file, but we can't log in. It's an arse and I expect we can reboot it with shutgui.exe, but no-one seems to know what the problem is.

[18:02] And no, we can't reboot it remotely, so it's been power cycled. Which doesn't seem to have hurt it too much. I just hope it doesn't do it again. Gym time, I think.

10/04/2001 - (Birthday Edition)
[10:55] Went to the doctor who took one look in my mouth and applied the roughest tongue-depresser in the world to my tonsils and then withdrew it with some kind of lump of stuff on the end once I'd stopped gagging. Throat's all clear now.

Came in and was glad to hear that nothing had broken, read my emails, went to a few web pages and opened my presents. The Amazon care package from my parents shipped directly to work certainly made my morning to date. The last of the Centauri trilogy (Babylon 5), Use of Weapons (Banks), The Fifth Elephant (Pratchett), Practical Unix and Internet Security (Garfinkel & Spafford, ORA). The girlfriend got me a new cagoul, a stack of Bernard Cornwell books (the Sharpe series) and some Sherri S. Tepper. All good stuff.

Nothing from Copyleft yet on the three designs I have ready for printing. Perhaps they don't want to print any more. Or maybe they're just busy. I'll try them again in a day or two. Getting requests for the new designs, anyway. Which is helpful. What I need now is a nice quiet day with no problems from the other place and nothing much happening here because tomorrow is hopefully the last time I go over there. I'll be taking the initially identical contents of people's D: drives (where they all put a copy of the central documents store before they moved into the new place and have now added to seperately) and merging them into a single copy of all the most up-to-date versions of everything. I don't want this to go wrong and we copy something older over something new. I think I'll do the copy and then make this D: drives read-only for a few weeks, until they're sure everything's there.

How likely is this to happen according to plan?

09/04/2001
[11:20] Today is a bad day already. The weekend was nice though. Today is bad because I have a nasty mouth ulcer which gets rubbed by my teeth when I eat, I have something like quinsy which means there's something nasty up with my tonsils, there are numerous problems over at the other place to do with Eudora and Windows NT and stuff and I'm beginning to get a twinge in the ouside of my right wrist. This sucks.

I've also had no comments on my new O'Really design. Not one, apart from a comment about how the colopon for PUT now isn't right (yeah, I'll fix that soon). Copyleft people are really bust at the moment so there's nothing from them, which is a bugger because I want to talk to them. I've booked an appointment with the doctor tomorrow morning at 09:10. With luck he/she'll reach in with some angled needle-nose pliers and yank out the bit of pus lodged in the back of my tonsils and everything'll be fine again. That or antibiotics.

This weekend the girlfriend and I went to Lincoln and stayed in a hotel. It was nice, we got to have a look at the cathedral (huge, excellent) and go up in the roof-spaces and into those bits you can just see way up in the rafters and stonework. Excellent stuff. It rained all day though, which can't have helped my throat.

Sunday we visited some of the girlfriend's relatives who live in a huge house that'd be ideal for a geek commune, should it be wired for ethernet and wireless LAN technology. Miles from anywhere, ranbling annexes and TVs and stuff all over the place. Like I said, cool. The trains either way weren't too much of a problem as we'd packed books. Greg Bears 'Forge of God' is an O.K. read although he does take some satisfaction in the 'you're all doomed' mentality at the end.

[18:00] I've been printing out and reading information on configuring Office 2000 for IntelliMirror publication all afternoon. Dry and unexciting reading. Slightly more exciting is... well there isn't anything more exciting. I'm waiting on Copyleft to get back to me on the three designs which can be printed next of they want to, I think they're busy again.

06/04/2001
[16:10] O'Really & Associates Inc. are pleased to announce their first in the "Black" series of books. Located in the Co-larters section of the BOFHcam site, this new series of books comes in an smart black binding guaranteed to look attractive on any book shelf, or, co-incidently if Copyleft decide to print it, on any BOFH who cares to wear it printed onto a T-shirt.

Comments/flames/suggestions to the usual address. I could tell you what I've been doing today but basically it's been fixing some small problems with the site (including updating the "Practical Unix Terrorism" page with what should be a design that's approved for printing) and some purchasing of 7.2Krpm SCSI drives for the servers. I think you can tell what was the high point of my day.

I'm off for a weekend in a hotel in Lincoln and you can all go and do something else, for all I care.

05/04/2001
[12:00] I've got Pagent working with PuTTY and PSCP now, so journal updation from the Windows box is a double-click operation now. Pageant was the key, and adding a few identity files about the place. SSH rules.

[15:20] It was raining at lunchtime so the PFY took me into town so I could deposit my second cheque from the other place. Putting that in the bank helps dull some of the pain I get every time I have to go over there and sort out the mess they keep their files in.

I booked the hotel and train tickets this morning with an extended pre-stay in Edinburgh before the week of hell. Now all I need to do is claim the money back afterwards. The bookings do kind of require me to get the 19:00 from Edinburgh on the Friday (if not the 17:30) but there we go. Thinking about it I'll either try to get a network connection throughout the week or keep a journal on paper again and upload it all on the following weekend.

Not much more to say about today, it's been kind of slack really. I should get back in to Windows 2000 published applications and stuff like that, maybe. Or have a look at Apache 2.0.16 (first public beta) which looks like fun. Maybe I'll reinstall the dual processor box with something nicer than FreeBSD-old-and-decrepid. Not sure really. If I can get away with it I'll try and think up something that'll look good in black on a T-shirt. There have been more calls for black designs.

04/04/2001
[16:35] For my sins I've gotten booked on a "Migrating Windows NT 4.0 Support Skills to Windows 2000" or somesuch course in Edinburgh between 07/05/2001 and 11/05/2001. Should any Edinburgh BOFHs wish to get together (ASREd anyone) in that week, please let me know. It's good that someone else is footing all the bills (travel, course fees, accommadation) and I'll learn stuff which will allow me to get CV points and let me leave the job satisfied that I won't have to come back to help the person after me keep the place running in a year or two. I also won't be panicking when I'm asked to roll Windows 2000 out here in a few months.

Other than that I've been reading books on hacking the Windows Registry for the Greater Good and remotely administering the server at the other place. It's a shame I can't claim for travel time to them now. Still, I should do enough work for them to keep my bank balance happy for a bit longer.

03/04/2001
[12:20] WinVNC is nice. It means I can do all kinds of stuff with the server at the other place without having to trog over there to do it. It also meant I could reboot the server properly (not by sending it malformed packets) once I'd done some fiddling with Virus Scan.

The workstation for the computer person who gets the full-time job there just arrive, according to the person who's baby-sitting the place. I should go in there at some point and set it up. It'll have the printer monitoring stuff, the network monitoring stuff and probably the remote admin tools for the NT domain. Much better than putting them on the server. I just hope they get someone clued.

Once I've moved their documents over and installed Lotus Organiser I'm out of there. Adios amigos. I've made my cash, given them something fairly bullet-proof and set up their backup routine. I do not want to keep getting calls from them weeks from now.

We're having a clear out of old machines here again. After I dropped the LaserJet 4MV+ we cannibalisedit this morning and took out the fans, the RAM, the JetDirect card and I/O assembly, the paper trays, the toner, the screws, some of the rollers and one or two of the larger and more interesting looking capacitors (*fzzzzwap*). Interestingly the RAM appeared to be an 8Mb SIMM and some kind of SIMM management module. Putting it in the other 4MV+ we have here caused errors again of the form 53.04.10 until we took it out. Oddly the stuff in both printers was in slots 4 and 3, rather than 1 and 2. Still, our printer has 20Mb in it now. Which will be helpful for some of the larger PS print jobs we do.

[17:45] Windows 2000 Server's published application thingy looks neat, but a little overblown. I get the feeling that learning piecemeal IntelliMirror stuff and Group Policies isn't the right way to go about it. I'll have to see if I can find a jolly to go on.

02/04/2001
[12:25] The weekend was not impressive. I did get the NT server installed for the other place but it was a trial. Won't go into the details but if anyone wants the solutions to some gotchas to do with NT installs and ARCserve 2000 then I've got the jive, turkey. Anyway, I was in at 08:30 and away by 18:30 if not a few minutes earlier. Which was better by an hour than the previous times.

Friday night was good, we had a BOF after the end of the Linux course that people were taking. That went on long after I'd gone home to crash out in preparation for Saturday. Sunday we went to see "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" again. It's a quality film, but still not something I'd like on DVD oddly enough. Speaking of DVDs and hardware, I'm about to spec. up a monster PC for the girlfriend who requires something which'll cope with Dragon Dictate as she's getting a touch of the RSI and we want to nip it in the bud.

Other than that I'm off to a meeting this afternoon which I may not return to work from (with luck), and a lunchtime BOF again with two of IBM's finest (cast-iron) buckling-spring PS/2 keyboards to hand over to a needy sysadmin who's equiping his machines with them.