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February's Journal
April's Journal

[14:55] Done some fun things today. Went to the other place early on (walked in to town today because we're going to the pub this evening to celebrate the end of a week long linux course that some friends are giving right now) and set up the UPS so it's charged up for tomorrow (must remember to register a DNS entry for the server right now... done that now).

Anyway, the UPS is charging, I'm installing NT Server tomorrow (can't have it all, unfortunately), ARCserve, Dr Solomon's Management Console and VNC Server so I can admin the damned thing from here (remind people to change the tapes over). We got a new cupboard for all the expensive things we have in the room (with a door that actually locks properly. I've also gotten shot of another PC now so there's some room to sit down and get access to two PCs at the same time as well as the server.

A byproduct of getting the new cupboard (which is what the bofhcam box sits on, as well as my primary work box (non-Windows)) was that the bofhcam was off for about twenty minutes this afternoon, sorry for any disruptions this causes to your viewing pleasure. The first power down was unexpected but the box fscked cleanly so I shut it down again and gave it a bit of a clean inside. I also took the opportunity to drop some more RAM into the work box. Now running at 96Mb it doesn't do much, but does it nice and quickly.

[16:30] Oops. I've just dropped a LaserJet 4MV. I win't go into the details but suffice to say it's now popping up the error message 58.1 ERROR. That's actually what it was doing. The "58" was flashing and the rest wasn't. According to Google this means that the DC (presumably direct current) board needs replacing. Still, I don't care, it was second hand from an Ionica auction, buzzed all the time and had just been decommissioned. It's also Friday.

[16:30] Nice day today, my anticipated bible (satanic verses?) arrived; Windows 2000 Administration in a Nutshell. Read that for most of the morning which worried and reassured me in equal turns.

We tidied the room again this morning and threw out a load of crap. It makes the place a lot nicer and reveals some of the stuff we never use any more. We could sell about five printers, three monitors, twelve mice, a few network cards and a SCSI scanner. There still isn't any room in the development area for all the machines we need to set up a small Windows 2000 network. We have had approval for carpet tiles to be put in, finally, only a few years after we moved into this room. They'll give something for the dust to settle into, rather than sitting on top of the varnished (and cracking/peeling) cork floor tiles we have at the moment.

Installing Windows 2000 on a P200 machine with 64Mb of RAM isn't impressive. It runs like a dog, and it's not even doing anything yet.

[12:45] Sorry about the short entry last night, it was a full day. Last night we moved a disk from one server to another. It wasn't formatted or anything and had just been sitting there spinning around. Anyway, we did a full backup of the target machine before we powered it down and dropped in the disk. Once up and running we copied over all the user files and romaing profiles and reshared everything. It all seemed to go without a hitch. Sharing with the same names meant that nobody noticed anything this morning.

A whole slew of ORA books arrived yesterday. Unfortunately they're all Windows 2000-related. But at least I won't look like a fool when we roll it out here. If it all sinks in, anyway. So I've been reading the one by Meggitt and Lavy on Windows NT Workstation Configuration and Maintenance and deciding if I can face learning Perl for Win32.

I got an email from Axis on my suggestion to build SSH/SCP into the network camera products again. This one was short, badly formatted, contained spelling mistakes and atrocious grammar. I emailed them back something fairly sharp and pointed (two different things).

The PFY's still playing round with motion detection and stuff, hopefully it'll be ready to go into use within the next week or so. I was at the other place this morning even though I should have been here to make sure that things went O.K. with the accessing of romaing profiles and home directories. Anyway, there I was trying to work out where I'm going to put the computer person when they get someone full-time and I got asked to install the new LaserJet 4050N. This meant I had to dash round installing the drivers on all the machines (because there's no server yet) and then find enough network cables to get it wired up. Everything seems O.K. on that score at the moment even though I haven't gotten my first cheque from them yet.

When the server arrives there will be the problems associated with the fact that every machine has a copy of what was on the shared group drive pre-move to their current location. People have been editing and adding documents to the copy on the machine they use. I have to get one coherent version of all the files on the server. This is going to be difficult. I think I'll make sure I charge for my time.

Had some more fun with Ghost this morning. Even though it doesn't work quite right with Dr Solomon's I think the behaviour is constant, so we can work with that. I was hoping to use something called SPQuery 4.2 to take some of the effort out of hotfixes and servicepacks, but it needs IE4 or higher installed. Maybe I'll sacrifice one PC to IE to see what it's like.

[17:40] Sorry, only a quick entry today. Been busy with ActivePerl and stuff and just about to move a disc from one server to another. With luck this should only take a few minutes, but this is Windows NT.

[11:00] The weekend was... full. We had ten people sleeping in the house and lots happening. You don't want to know about that though. The girlfriend's on a Linux Administration course this week. I know she'll be enjoying it as it'll mean she gets to learn more about how to configure her Apache for Oracle and DBI::Oracle when she gets back. She picks stuff up fast so I expect great things when she returns. Naturally she doesn't get root on any of my boxes. Not yet.

There's the end of course party on Friday for the course administrators and like-minded souls, so that's something to look forward to.

[15:15] Natuarally everything is now going wrong today. The network camera isn't wanting to take its own uploaded images (limits the number of FTP servers in the place), Ghost isn't working with one of the messed-up machines we have and are trying to fix and more people than in the last seven months are emailing to ask about attachments and FTP and stuff today of all days.

[16:25] I think I've sorted the problem with Ghost now, but I don't trust the configuration of Dr Solomon's v4.0.3 with some of the permissions we have in place linked in with the NT policy.

[15:58] Bah, out comes a new version of OpenSSH (2.5.2p2) and I'm glad I only have a few machines here that need to be done. It's needed a fair bit of frobbing on the machines I've installed it on thus far. We'll have to see what happens now I know what I'm doing.

The PFY's been setting up the second camera today, having lots of fun. She's come back from her course full of good ideas of a CSS bent. I may let her loose on the department's pages if she has some good ideas. As it is we'll have to have a big discussion on how the hell the motion-detection stuff is going to get to a web server. I really don't want to open an FTP server for this thing. I wish Axis would get their thumbs out of their butts and put an scp client on the camera, then I could do everything I need. Gits.

We're using the home camera this weekend. There are twelve people staying and they'll be using IRC, so the camera will be showing what's going on. It's pasword-protected, so if your name's not down you're not coming in.

[15:55] Must remember that at 16:30 I have to go over to the other place and deal with a user's email spaghetti of aliases. It's all a bit complicated. Other than that the other network camera has arrived but I have to wait for the PFY to come back tomorrow before we set it up. I've promised her she can do it all. Sometimes I'm too generous.

There was a user in the institution today who was working his way through the email directory telling them they'd just been on an Indexing Course and had we written any books he was happy to be paid for indexing them for us. Nice. Luckily my surname starts with 'A' so I was able to email them before they did more than the 'A's telling them not to carry on if they valued their email account.

I then contacted their sysadmin and let them know the score. They were fairly incredulous and hung up rather sharply. When the wind blows I fancy I can hear screams in the distance. It's a nice thought to entertain myself with at any rate. Other than that the PFY's been on a web course all day and I've successfully fielded a load of queries her way which should keep her busy for most of tomorrow. I'm nice like that.

For my sins I had a good look at Windows 2000's ADS and DNS server this afternoon. The DNS stuff is fairly standard once you get past the cruft Microsoft put on top. ADS has shitloads of crap in it. But I think it'll work.

[11:55] Just written a long ranting email to Axis Communications, the makers of the network cameras and other assorted network kit. It seems that I was the first person ever to ask for SSH/SCP onboard. No-one has ever asked to be able to turn off the FTP server inside it either. This suprises me. As a result of them not planning to give me the functionality I need to be secure here I'm going to have to stick the camera on a second network card in a PC to allow me to hide the FTP daemon sitting there saying "Look! I probably have buffer over-runs!".

The person I've been speaking to via email has passed on my 'comments' to the developers. Perhaps my mention of certain things I've already found out about the network camera (which I won't mention here) might spark their interest.

I've got to go to the other place at lunchtime to help sort out someone's email which looks like it goes through fourteen servers before he POPs it onto his Apple laptop. With luck we can sort it out into work mail and other work mail. On two seperate servers. Then he can POP from the right place depending on where he is. I also came in in shorts today. It snowed. That was fun. People point and stare.

Oh yes, I have to deal with someone who used Pegasus Mail before coming to the other place I work. I hope he was using it in IMAP mode.

[18:00] I spent the entire afternoon trying to figure out where this guy's mail was going. I won't bore you with the details, they bored me.

[16:35] I set up the network camera at home this morning, and left it pointing at the skylight. I'm a little worried because the light was a tad bright, don't want to damage the CCD.

Went to the other place this morning to show the last of the people with newly-installed machines what they have on it. It should be fine now. They can understand what I've done and why I've done it. I did have to place the order for the Dell server and workstation again as Dell seemed to have lost it somewhere.

Our other camera hasn't arrived yet, seems as though there's a bit of a shortage of Axis 2120s in the world. The PFY's aching to set it up and fiddle with things so we're hoping it'll arrive this week.

I've allowed the PFY to have a week off at the end of April, only I need to take the Friday of that week off now. Hopefully something can be arranged. I've not done much else today. Which is nice. Oh yes, had a play with tcpdump and got rid of a whole load of multicasts and broadcasts on the local subnet. I like clean networks.

[12:45] I was in the other place on the weekend. I arrived at 08:00, without breakfast. I tend to find I work faster if I don't eat. I didn't eat all day the last time I did this two Saturdays ago. Anyway I got there and started on the networking equipment; pulling out the 3Com 1100 and mounting a 3300 below it once I'd made room. Running on 100Mb/sec just Makes Sense nowadays. Once that was done I realised that one of the three machines I was supposed to be reinstalling had its Administrator password set, and I hadn't asked for it. Tempted as I was to just reinstall over the top I rang her mobile and left a message asking for the password. I didn't expect her to call back.

I started on the other two machines, installing Eudora first to convert the Outlook Express mail, then copying off the documents and email to another machine while I did the dirty on the hard disks. This takes a while given the stuff I need to install for these people. Luckily I had two Office 2000 CDs, so when it came to installing that, and the Service stuff, I could do them at the same time.

Anyway, I got them Set Up (how they Should Be) and configured their new LaserJet for use and was ready to leave when the phone rang. It was the user, with the password. So rather than go home I reinstalled her machine. Well, not just like that. I logged in and copied off her documents and installed Eudora. I rebooted and watched the thing bluescreen on the blue screen boot up. Repeatedly.

I thought I was buggered. This was the worst user in the place. There would have been problems if I hadn't fixed the problem. I won't tell you how I did it. That's a secret. Anyway, I logged in and started converting her email. There was a lot. We're talking in excess of 3000 messages, plus attachments. It took a while and all the time I was thinking "please don't BSoD on me. Not now." It didn't. But at the end Eudora rolled over and died. Luckily all the mail and the address book appeared to be intact. I copied everything over and nuked the machine with extreme prejudice. Eleven hours later I left the place. That's the last machine done now.

The server's on the way (as is the IT support guy's (whoever that will eventually be) PC). 'All' that remains is to set up the server, make everyone domain users, plug in the other printer, set up a backup routine and do central anivirus administration. Then I can kiss that place goodbye and add it to my CV.

I other news I got hold of an Axis 2100 network camera. Which rocks. Some fun with ipmasqadm portfw and a cable modem and I now have live streaming video from home. Not everyone's cup of tea, ut cool and potentially useful. Plus I got to brush up my skills on port forwarding again. Which was nice.

I may add the home camera to the BOFHcam network at some point. Just not right now.

[12:15] This is not a good day. Fridays are supposed to be calm, relaxing days. I went to the other place this morning and worked out that all the DNS stuff needs to be changed. This shouldn't take long, I hope. The person who is doing stand-in IT support for the moment will be coming in for a while tomorrow to watch what I'm doing. I guess that'll help her learning skills. Anyway, I come back here and after a few minutes the phone rings. It's the accountant from the other place. She has a major fiftenn minute strop down the phone at me on how all this equipment's been ordered and not through her. Frankly I couldn't give a damn; all I do is specify what kit the place needs and then wait for it to turn up. It's not my place to decide what budget it comes out of, how the DTI are going to audit it, whether it's a Capital Equipment or not or why I've asked for in the region of six thousand pound's worth of equipment in the last two weeks.

This kind of money needs to be spent when you're moving in somewhere. It's life, IT equipment costs money. It is also not my place to wonder where the cash comes from. All I need is the kit, not the hassle. Anyway, I was fairly frazzled when I got off the phone and had to go and re-sort out the order I'd negotiated so that the accountant could place the order rather than me via the web. Hassle, hassle, hassle.

In the meantime one of the users here was having real problems with Eudora Pro so we've had our ears bashed about that until we decided to give her Eudora Light. I'm not moving anyone to Eudora 5 until the summer, when we do it all at once. As a result of the hassles this morning (only one of the cameras has turned up, the one I'm buying) I've organised a BOF at lunchtime so I can relax with some people who understand and hace similar stories to tell.

[15:20] Finally gotten the specification sorted on the server and IT guy's workstation for the other place. Just waiting for someone to give me a purchase order number so I can retrieve my shopping basket.

Got into a discussion with Simon Tatham and some other guy about WinSCP and its frozen implementation of PuTTY/PSCP. Not saying much more here. Anyway, the place has decided to buy an Axis 2120 network camera. Actually, it decided to buy a 2100 and then decided to order a 2120 instead. Unfortunately I'd already placed the order for the 2100 and cancelling orders with the financial system we have here is a real arse. So we'll be getting one of each. I think I'll wait a while and then buy it from the place as secondhand goods.

Anyway, I made the mistake of fixing the photocopier today while I was printing out manuals for the cameras and now every time there's a paper jam it's "Can you just come and stick your amr inside this monster and burn yourself on the fuser and stuff?". I got some satisfaction when the PFY went to do something and pulled out a chunk of copier which looked important when it jammed again. I tried for a few minutes to stick it back in and gave up. We'll have to wait for some technician to come out and find out how it's supposed to go in.

Getting my hair cut this evening. It's about time, I'm starting to bush.

[16:45] Spent most of the day not realising I hadn't copied up the last few days worth of journals with the right dates on them until 'Darius' pointed it out. Yeah, thanks. This morning I went to the other place and made sure the last of the people there knows what I'm going to be doing to their machines over the weekend. By Saturday evening my dominion will be complete, muhahahaha. On a more useful note, all the machines will have been stripped down to only what they need and no-one will be using Outlook Express. We hates it, Precious.

Once everything to do with reinstalls is done I have to set up a dual installation of Eudora for a machine used by two people, install the network printer, give everyone access to the 3Com 3300, give all the machines sensible (read: memorable) DNS names and then make sure the server and the IT Person's machines are on order. I guess once the server is in I'll be setting it up, getting the backup routine sorted (something simple) adding the machines to the domain, creating domain users for everyone, creating a network share into which I'll have to distill ten machines worth of almost identical documents and then leave them to it.

Simple really.

Collected the amplifier last night. There's no hum, and it sounds great. The only problem, the fly in the ointment is that Sony have decided to charge Sevenoaks %pound;40 for shipping my old amplifier back and forward between themselves and Sevenoaks. Sevenoaks have no reason to pay it and are obliged to pass it on to me. I'm not paying. No way.

[17:00] O.K. so nobody noticed I'd gotten the dates mixed up this last few days. Thanks. Probably no-one was reading it. Erm, today I didn't go to the other place for once, and they didn't ring here. Which was nice.

I've been setting up another PC for a home user and suddenly realised that I could have one if I want. As a result I've put in a request which should be granted. Also the guy who had the laptop stolen came in to ask for a replacement until the insurance pays up. Naturally he didn't tell me all the stuff he wanted installed. So it won't be ready until tomorrow.

Our main LaserJet 4000N flashed up "PERFORM ROUTINE MAINTENANCE" just now. That means it's printer 350,000 pages. Fairly impressive. All tat though. Time to go home and get a lift to pick up my new amplifier.

[15:00] Damnit! And everything was going so well today. I'd gone into the other place and sorted some stuff out, I'd spoken to a few of the people and gotten things sorted with the friend who is working there as an IT contact while I'm not and faxed over my invoice for the last set of work I've done. I'd come to work and seen that the new DDS-3 tapes (rather than the DDS-2 ones we were using before). I'd found out how well my T-shirts were selling, I'd spoken with people at Copyleft who were happy with how things were going. I'd even gone back to the other place and seen the kit they needed had arrived and I'd spoken to the people whose machines still needed reinstalling and worked out something to keep eveyone happy. I'd even gotten confirmation that my new amplifer is being delivered to Sevenoaks tomorrow and I can pick it up in the evening.

I was thinking things were too good to be true, when I was proved right. Someone broke into room of one of the staff and stole one of my laptops. This annoys me as it was one of the ones I hadn't gotten round to getting the serial number from. I don't believe that the police will stop us from having it back in any event of them getting it back. Neat little machine it's a Dell Latitude LS H400ST. If you find one being sold in a pub or something, give me a shout.

Other than that, like I said it's been a good day for a Monday, so far. I think it's time we got all the records up to date concerning kit we have.

[15:40] The PFY went to collect the LaserJet from Hardware Support this morning. All fixed. Only cost us £46.50. I was tempted to debit the user, in blood but decided not to in the end. Dunno why. Perhaps it's because I was at the other place until 22:00 last night reinstalling another two machines. There's only three machines there which I haven't installed myself now. Once they're all done I'll feel much better. At the moment I'm getting loads of calls from the people there who've been dicked about for months now by 'IT Professionals' who've not given them any explanations and not been on hand to fix problems. It looks like some of the dams have burst. What they need is someone full-time to be on-hand to change their paper size to A4 rather than Letter and show them where their files are. I can't do that and hold down the job here. Once the server's arrived perhaps I can put some kind of order in place but for the moment it's more of a holding action, and they don't like it. Still, after doing two of the worst machines last night I'm left with two more crap ones and a reasonable one still to do. Once things like Regional Settings are set to UK all round I think they'll be a bit happier with printing and stuff.

They're getting a LaserJet4050N and a 3Com 3300 24-port to tide them over and at some point next week I'll be spec.'ing up a server (which Dell have promised to give a nice fat discount on) for them to dump all their files on. There's going to be some messiness when the server arrives; everyone took a copy of the share on their old server when they left, they've all been updating their sections of the directory structure on their own machines. Reintergrating everyone's copy into one master copy is going to be a nightmare.

I've just had a phone call from the clued person at the place I'm consluting, seems he's been in contact with a person I know who was interviewing another person I know. She didn't get a job but needs somewhere to work. It might be that she'll get the part-time post there and then get the job that eventually appears. At least I'll be able to talk to her in a vaguely technical way.

[17:20] Pushed out A new O'Really just now. General reception so far has been fairly good. Must post it to some of the groups as per normal later on.

Another dead day, our forty-five DDS-3 tapes arrive this afternoon. Oh, apart from the secretary issue. One of the secretaries decided to put a sheet of paper through her LaserJet 1100, with wet tipex on it. Naturally it went all over the toner drum in the cartridge and also melted onto the fuser. Nothing we could do to fix it. I sent her off to Hardware Support with a fea in her ear (someone would notice if I killed her) and will have to think hard about not charging her the £46.50 in labour it cost for someone to take the thing apart and melt the white stuff off the contact plate. Still not to worry eh? Humour of the day (apart from the new O'Really) comes from AmIAllYourBaseOrNot?

[16:55] I don't know what it is with me this week and late entries. Perhaps it's the fact that nothing interesting is happening that gives me something to rant about. Today I've fiddled all morning, poked people about quotes, set up a PC and put it in someone's room. I've also been to the other place to convert some people to Eudora from Outlook Express. Naturally even though all the ones I tried here went perfectly, one of the ones I did there threw up a nasty error when I tried to run Eudora as the person involved. Fixed that.

That's about it for today. Filled in a timesheet at the other place and handed over a document on How Things Are Going To Be while I'm in charge of the IT. With luck this'll mean the guy I help interview will be given something pre-cowed into submission. I like documents like that which Lay It Down.

[14:45] We fiddled with Windows 2000 Advanced Server last night. Horrible thing. Not impressed with the obtuseness of the Active Directory stuff. It's been an empty day otherwise. Ordered some PCs, modems and forty-five DDS-3 tapes to replace the DDS-2 ones we;ve been using since before I arrived. Seriously, we've been using these tapes since before April 1999. Probably time we changed them given each tape's used once a week.

[14:30] Yo yo yo, get down with the BOFH massive. Innit? Yeah. Whatever.

Anyway, this weekend was 'fun'. For some value of fun. Saturday the girlfriend went to Wales for the weekend. She left at 04:30. Which as nice. I got up at 08:00 and decided that I'd go to the place I was contracting for 08:30. Which I duly did. Without breakfast. For the rest of the day I didn't eat and got five machines installed with NT4, VirusScan, Eudora, Netscape and Office 2000. That took eleven hours exactly. During that time I reorganised their physical network (they need more ports), locked down their printer (colour, laser) so that anyone on the internet could no longer send print jobs to it, tidied the offices around the cabling points and basically made it a more sane place to do IT. Then there's Office 200 Professional. What a bag of shite that is. They only had one install CD. That meant that I couldn't do the service releases and service packs concurrently. Not only that but there was the issue of IE5. It seems you can't run Access 2000 without IE3.00 or greater. It installs IE5 no matter what you choose and when you uninstall that posat installation of Office 2000 it can't find the IE3 that NT4 comes with. Back on with IE5 (minus VBS and Media Player 6.1), then Service Release 1a and Service Pack 2. It takes three hours per machine to set up Office 2000 Professional completely. And this is when you've dropped the installtion from 467Mb to 270Mb.

Not fun. So I go home at 19:30. Today I went in to make sure that people could still print to the network printer which I'd changed the IP number for (because it was conflicting with a laptop) and found that although some of the machines have a blank administrator password, someone had set a password on one of them, so I couldn't fix it.

People are also using Outlook Express there too. Oh dear. That's one of my first priorities. There are still five machines which are already in use which I haven't been able to reinstall yet. Those will be the tricky ones as I have to extricate all their email and documents (including Lotus Organiser diaries) before I reinstall. once they're done I'll 'know' all the machines and no-one but me will know the administrator passwords. From there I do some documentation on how not to fuck up may machines and then work on installing the NT server and getting stuff saved to disks which can be backed up a little easier.

No word from Sony yet on my replacement amplifier. Hopefully that should happen this week at some point. Today I've been trying to get up to speed on stuff here but it's been a losing battle thus far. And for some reason I want to get going on installing Windows 2000 Advanced Server. How mad is that?

Oh, at about 18:00 on Friday I had a minor breakthrough with Norton Ghost. It still sucks.

[16:20] I hate, hate, hate, Norton Ghost. Hate it, hate it. It's crap, and I hate it.

We had a BOF of NT admins this morning. NT Working Party. Was long but fairly eventful. I really can't be arsed to do much more in today's entry as I'm trying not to jump out of the window. It's only the fact that the network is fast enough to deal with the download of disk images that I'm not already on the floor.

Dunno why but configurations aren't getting slapped onto the machines we ghost. I really don't want to do anything tomorrow even if it's for money, but I have to having made the commitment.

[17:35] Not exactly a busy day, but like, still didn't get time to do stuff like this until now. Spent the morning ordering another laptop and wondering why Windows 2000 Advanced Server comes as five floppies and two CDs. I never trust an OS that comes on more than one CD.

Geert emailed me with another version of a virtual desktop application for Windows called MultiDesk. Not tried it yet, but it does have something ZDDesk doesn't; keyboard shortcuts for moving between desktops.

Around lunchtime I got around to installing RedHat 6.2 under VMware on a Windows 200 Professional box. Isn't VMware fun? Wish I'd gotten round to it before now. Anyway, that should provide hours of educational enjoyment when the PFY's engaged in doing the stuff I can't be arsed with. Oh I know what I did this morning. Yeah, at 11:15 I went over to the place I'm working for on weekends and sorted out keys and what I'll be doing on the first day. There were a few people who seemed annoyed that someone would want to be touching their machine and touching their files. I can see they've never had a sysadmin before. This could be painful for them, for a few minutes. They are now MY MACHINES. You only use them on my sufference. Do not attempt to install cruft on my machines. You will save all your files to a structured directory system, and you will not touch the server I will be installing for you.

So I think I've worked out how much they're paying me per hour. It should cover the cost of a subwoofer. Which is useful. Nothing from Sony yet. This weekend is installs of NT on the virgin machines (shame, but it's their desktop standard). Eventually I'll have to face the machines which a) are already in use and b) were installed by some crazed crack-monkey. I'll have to talk to the users to find out what they've dropped where. There's also the network printers to secure and all kinds of other stuff. Anyway, gym time now.