[15:10] Last day of the month, already. We didn't power off the machine in the
end, we want it to get the monthly backup on tape before we do that. It makes
Harry Potter last night was a passible film. The acting was terribly wooden in
places and there were some plot holes which I'm assured are just as they appear
in the book. Worth your time, if you've got nothing really important to do.
We had a nice hot Thai meal in the pub beforehand and decompressed from
the day's happenings.
Today I've been playing with UpdateEXPERT which is the smarter funkier version of
the script I found to do hotfixes. Don't think we'll buy it yet, not until we
have a big move to Windows 2000 (although it does support NT4 as well). I have
an idea how to deal with Iexpress-based installs on a one-by-one basis, which I
think I can test this afternoon, or next week. It just means I have to do some
programming, which I'm very rusty at. I think I can adapt the existing script to
[17:00] Sorry to the people I'm not telling about the IRC channel I use, the
people therein aren't keen on an invasion at the moment. I've figured out some
kind of way of doing all kinds of installs, but I'm not sure if it's going to
work because I don't know enough about GPOs and how they execute and interact
with shutdown tasks. But this is what Mondays are for. And scratch machines.
All I need to do now is decide whether I go to the gym this evening or save my
energy for the trip to the cinema to see Kiss of the Dragon. I may go in the
morning and just go home now.
[17:40] So I haven't gone home yet. I've decided to update the entire building's
anti-virus settings because of one user who seems to get all the viruses allotted
to the entire percentage of the population inhabiting this building. Still, it
[14:00] This morning I waited in for a Parcel Force delivery which didn't arrive
until well after 12:00. I kept myself busy with email and the sysadmin IRC
channel I frequent and worked out what me and the PFY have to do before I go away
at the end of next week when I head off to Egypt. There's a fair bit of stuff
which I won't go into here, because frankly, I doubt you care.
Sadly I've been convinced to go and see the Worst Witch^W^WHarry Potter film this
evening. We're going to a Thai food-serving pub first then I'll be the only
person in the cinema who doesn't know what's going to happen. All I know is that
this lad lives with some relatives who don't want him to get a letter. And there
is some magic.
We'll probably promote the server to PDC and sort out the replication at some
point this afternoon. That means we can start on the RAID testing tomorrow.
The good thing is that we're not using the disks in there at the moment so if it
all goes horribly wrong we can drop the old disks back in and promote it back to
PDCship (once we've taken the RAID stuff out of course).
[14:10] I'm getting my hair cut this afternoon. As there was very little time
free at the hairdressers I've got a trainee doing it for £3.50. I'm a
little worried, but normally all I have in the way of trimmer settings is a
three on the sides and a four on the top, and then some neatening up.
[15:20] New PDC promoted, old DC automatically demoted. Replication sorted and
connections to the old DC beginning to dwindle. Pretty soon it'll be ready for
powering off. We may even do it before I go today, at 15:45.
[09:20] The Chubb people are already five minutes late. I'm heading downstairs
to find out where they are. Someone's coming in today to pick up the BBC Master
I've completely failed to do anything with. I've demanded that he take the
monitor I got with it as well, to clear some space.
[11:50] The guy who is supposed to come and collect the BBC hasn't, yet. This is
annoying as I need to be out of the room for a bit to make sure that Chubb don't
make any bad mistakes with the new mag-lock. The main thing we're doing this
evening is copying the romaing profiles and user directories from one machine
to another with perl scripts and updating people's user profiles to reflect this.
Once that's done the old server is practically relieved of duty. It's still
doing backups, but we can offload them onto another box. All we need to do then
is promote the other box, fix the replication and then we're free to yank the
thing out, fiddle with its innards, install RAID and play.
The real fun comes when I learn about how Dell so volume and partition management
on RAID5 arrays. And getting the disks to run at 160 rather than 40 or 80.
[18:40] Major task of the day over; the moving of all roaming profiles and home
directories to the new machine. Only one minor bump which was easily fixed.
The old machine doesn't do anything other than be PDC, be Replication master and
do the backups to tape. All of those can be handed to other machines. I've
decided not to go to the gym this evening as I've done a hard day's work.
[16:00] Sorry the update's been late today, I've actually been working, and that
tends to draw me in until I can't think of anything else. Today I was working on
Windows 2000 automation of hotfix installation. Lovely things, hotfixes, once
you understand what's happening and what the Registry is up to. With the help
of a nice man called Tony Chow (posts to NTBUGTRAQ), a .js script and a GPO I can
now dump hotfixes into a directory and schedule a reboot and on startup all the
machines will get the hotfixes they don't have, Qchain
them and then reboot.
This makes things horribly more simple. The only flies in the the ointment at
the moment are Service Packs and their installation and the ugly non-OS hotfixes
which don't use the same installation scheme. Bastards.
[16:15] Chubb have just rung. It seems that they've finally decided to come and
do the current final door on the ground floor. This means tomorrow morning I'll
be stopping them from poking holes in the walls as they string cables up. I've
got a meal with Pars this evening only all the cool people who were going to be
there with me are dropping out to go and do other things. This is a little
worrying as it means there are going to be less fun people to talk to at the
[12:40] This lunchtime we do the next stage of the transposition of all the
essential information from one server to another. Today it's the general shares
and the information contained within. Wednesday is the big one. One Perl script
to move all the home directories and roaming profiles as well as updating the
users' referenced locations for same. That should be fun. Should it all work
it'll take less than two minutes. Otherwise it could take longer.
Still, once that's done theoretically we could unplug the PDC and everything
would continue to work as we moved the printers on Friday.
[16:25] The moving of the general shares worked perfectly. Of course we had to
dash around the users at lunchtime remapping the drives, which was a bit
annoying. Same with the printers, obviously. What I would like is some way (I
think Windows 2000's ADS may be able to do this) to publish a share or printer
and transparently change the location of the resource at the back end without
affecting the users who are working with it.
[16:45] Damnit! I knoew I forgot to do something this morning. The door to one
of the rooms which I'm responsible for wasn't locking when I came in this
morning. I forgot all day until just now. Luckily the Custodian's still here so
maybe he can take a look at it and let me know. There's a combination lock on
there that's older than I am. I'm not looking forward to getting it replaced.
[13:40] The girlfriend's in Southampton and Brighton today on some of Terry
Pratchett's last November signing dates. If you're in the vicinity of his
locations, pop in and say Hi from me.
We have some of the cleverest people in the known world here. Yet how can one of
them come into my office and say "I wonder if I might share a problem with you?"
and then go on to say how when printing a long document and the printer (a
deskjet) runs out of paper she puts in more paper and then "presses the button to
make it work again". The printer then spools out about 28 pages of special
characters and then she restarts her job again. Turns out the button she presses
is the power button and (get this) she doesn't bother to stop the buffer vomit.
In fact while she was telling us about the problem the printer was coughing up
grollies as she hadn't pulled the paper out. She swears she presses the right
button, but when the PFY went down to press the right one, she swore that was the
one she pressed. Bullshit. A liar and a fool. I'm looking for somewhere to go
this afternoon just to get away from the place.
[13:55] Oh, and a big hello to all my *.navy.mil supporters out there over the
water. Why don't you buy some T-shirts, get pictures of yourselves taken in
front of some big pieces of LART technology (6" or above guns would be cool).
And that goes for everyone. Send me scans (or actually put them on a site and
email me the URL) of you in my T-shirts in various locations and I'll put them
in a special supporters gallery on the O'Really section. I wonder if anyone will
actually do it.
[14:05] A little Friday entertainment for you all is now downloadable from
[12:55] Feel really odd today. The glasses aren't sitting right just yet either.
I'm heading to Boots this lunchtime to get them adjusted so I'm not forever
fiddling with them. I'm also walking to the hifi shop this afternoon to get the
speaker stands for the building's boardroom. I'm tempted to walk with them so I
get out of the office for a bit. I don't know why but I'm far too hot and really
[16:40] Bugger. One of our loan laptops, currently loaned to a Ph.D student
working here has been stolen from Berlin Zoo train station. Luckily we had it
insured and he'd signed the "I agree to pay the £250 excess because I'm a
muppet" clause. Means we get a new laptop which doesn't match the others unless
we're very lucky. It was also security marked and was running Windows 2000
Workstation. So it's usless without a reinstall. Doubt that'll faze the theives
[14:55] I went out at lunchtime today and picked up my new glasses. The first
new frames and lenses I've had in over five years. My eyes hurt, I think I'm
getting a migraine. Still, people are saying they look good on me, so that
We moved the anti-virus management to the new server this morning, also did some
more Office 2000 updates. There's about ten more machines to go. I'll do some
more of them this afternoon. Set the video for Stargate SG-1's one-hundreth
episode this evening and we're off to someone's house on the outskirts of the
city for an evening meal. Bus either way, but should be nice. Speaking of meals
out. Pars are inviting me and some other people out for an evening meal next
Tuesday. They can't get enough of me, even though I've only ever bought two
machines from them. With luck they've invited the people from Unix Support so it
should be a good evening out then, too.
[16:10] On a BBS I use someone 'graduated' to the level of sysadmin and posted
this gem: "I am the Admin and today I did telnet to our router for the first
time." Obviously my reply was "And that was your first mistake." His reply will
help me gauge how likely he is to accept Clue.
These glasses are weird. I don't feel terribly comfortable with them, but
perhaps if I wake up tomorrow and put them on first thing things might be a bit
better. Unix Support also haven't been invited to the meal out. It seems that
Pars aren't doing this thing "to gain customer sales". So what kind of
bribery is this, anyway!.
[11:40] We wanted to move the new server. Which we now have done. The network
port we had spare want playing ball so I jammed a screwdriver in and wiggled it
around. That seemed to do the trick. The backup/swap-in server is now in place
and we're ready to start moving some of the services it needs to offer over from
the machine we'll be retiring for a few hours to install RAID. As the connection
is officially Dodgy we may swap it for the connection the retired server
has when the time comes.
Last night I stayed here late installing the printers it's going to be sharing,
working out how to move the AV stuff (I think I mentioned that) and other stuff.
We also (to our shame) discovered the Dell OpenManage CD and its install method
which slaps in the right drivers for your hardware and operating system. Much as
I love doing a clean install myself, this seems to install the stuff I want and
none of the stuff I don't. I haven't tried it with Windows 2000 Advanced Server
yet. But we'll see.
[10:30] Machine to deliver at some point today. Just sold the old fax machine
for £10. Anything to get rid of it. What the buyer didn't know is that
they could have waited and gotten it free if no-one had wanted it. I've got two
other people coming to pick up old PCs today and tomorrow and also my BBC Master
which I got for free and I don't have time to do anything with. That's going for
We had a great time at my parents' this weekend. Although it might have been
nicer to go up on the Friday and have longer with them, it was nice to be able to
go home on the evening, and not rush to the station arriving late in the evening.
Still, there we were on Saturday morning on an early train. The day was nice,
the food excellent and the chance to relax and not think about work was great.
Wish we could have stayed longer. I did get a chance to look through the
accumulated gubbins in my bedroom and rescue my old pure and applied maths
exercise books. My notes were so clear back then, I look forward to relearning
differentiation, intergration and the formulae of points, lines and planes. Mr
Martin is the teacher I remember from my A-Levels. He made maths fun
and explained difficult topics carefully in a way which just Made Sense. Even
[14:25] The new Dell PowerEdge 2500's arrived. We actually followed the Dell
OpenManage installer thingy and lo and behold it seemed to work fairly well. NT
4.0 Server was installed in fairly short order and it was up and running as a BDC
within about ten minutes. At the moment I'm on the phone with Dell's technical
support to find out whether the RAID key I have for the 2400 works in it. If it
does then we have a chance to do a dry run on stuff.
[19:30] Hmmm, how did it get some late? Anyway, tried installing the RAID stuff.
Naturally the 2500 has a battery backed-up RAID cache and my 2400 kit didn't have
that. So we reverted to the other hard drives with NT on it. Since then I've
been installing stuff, exploring Dr Solomon's Management Edition and its
migration options for when we stop the current NTME Server being such. Other
than that I've installed TCP/IP printing, done some partitioning and moved the
actual box to somewhere it makes a little less noise. Now I think it's about
time to go home.
[09:30] This morning I'm quite tired and hoping for a quiet day. This should be
possible with a meeting this afternoon which will mean I can leave early, attempt
a trip to the gym and then go home and collapse. Tomorrow we're going to see my
parents for the weekend. This means another early rise in the morning. I think
Sunday morning will be something I miss.
With five UPSen in here the temperature isn't going to drop below 23 degrees
centigrade all winter, I don't think. This is a shame as I'm much better with
cold than with heat. Still, with a pregnant PFY it's probably for the best.
Dell have still not shipped the black monitor we've been waiting for for
over two weeks. I'm beginning to lose patience. I think the person we're doing
the PC for has probably forgotten about it by now.
[14:24] Monitor's arrived, you can't see it as it's packed away ready for
collection now. I'm back from lunch, pottering about for 30 minutes then I'm off
to a meeting at 15:00. From there I'll try and head for the gym before going
[16/11/2001 - 09:15] Hard day taking the train to Lincoln and Spalding for
Terry Pratchett signings. I was up as early as I normally am, kept leaving
things behind when I went out of the door including one cycle for half a mile
before I realised I'd left the mobile I was borrowing for the day in the house.
It was bitterly cold but I'd still raised a sweat before I got to the train
station. Trains to Lincoln were pretty good and the signing was standard: big
queues, some chatting. The train to Spalding was a little late and finding the
bookshop was hard. The signing was a little disorganised and I had to leave
pretty soon. Luckily I'd handed out all my remaining leaflets, so the job was
done. Trains home were a nightmare and I got in thirty minutes late and had to
cycle like buggery again to get home in time for the pizza which was cooling in
the kitchen and the evening's Farscape and DVD watching. Not having had any
lunch I was fairly tired and pretty hungry. Bed was a blessing.
[10:30] Well, gym last night was fun. I pushed myself fairly hard and still
didn't feel too bad this morning. My 256MB CompactFlash card and spare battery
arrived this morning so the battery's on charge and the card's already in the
camera. Decent resolution video (320x240) gives me about 820 seconds, which is
nice. Otherwise I can get more than enough 1600x1200 photos to be more than
happy. This is good news.
One of the new machines with a new printer attached keeps dying. This is bad
news. I think it's something to do with HP, Microsoft's NT and Office 2000. But
I can't tell which. The user is using it again this evening. We'll see if the
same thing happens again. If it does then I can fix it and not get a snotty and
very annoyed email from the user when I check in the evening from home or in the
[11:10] An ex-BOFH of the Institution is coming in this afternoon to show his PFY
how to manage heterogeneous NT domains and run centralised anti-virus with McAfee
and stuff like that. Ghost too. He knows the score, so the few rough edges I
have here shouldn't bother him too much. That's from 14:15 onwards. Remember
that I'm not here tomorrow. Should you happen to be at the Terry Pratchett
signings in Lincoln or Spalding tomorrow (see These dates)
I'll see you there. Get me to sign yout T-shirts, take my photo, or don't.
[15:55] People gone. I'm freewheeling for the rest of the day, reading the
Onion and other choice web sites. For example this Guardian story
is rather well written.
[16:40] Quality T-shirts 'R' Us here at Games Skins.
I particulary like this Gauntlet-inspired one.
[15:10] Finally! My camera kit is shipping. Spare battery and 256MB
CompactFlash to ensure worry-free photography and not missing anything while in
Egypt. Just hope the right stuff comes. This lunchtime I went to get some new
glasses and some sunglasses. I should have gotten some perscription goggles as
well, but the cost was pretty high, just for two pairs of glasses (one tinted).
I took advantage of the 'second pair of frames free' deal and was sitting with
the sales-person while they took the measurements and stuff and then plugging in
As he added in the second frames and told me about how if you get a certain level
of lenses the lenses in the second pair are half-price, only I was getting tinted
lenses so it was a bit more. Anyway, he hit the calculate button and the price
was a little high, so he fiddled and the price was too low, so he fiddled again
and the price dropped again. He called over the supervisor and she said there
was nothing they could do apart from plug in the two ordered again. She
obviously didn't want to take up my time so threw up her hands and said "Sod it,
give him the price on the screen." So all in all my second set of glasses,
rather than costing £100, cost £13.45. Which was great.
Other than that I managed to get a machine to accept the Whistler beta 2 this
morning. That wasn't pretty. A P-II 300 with 64MB and it creaked a little.
Still, once you've turned off a lot of the gloss the thing is fairly workable.
For the most part. Still don't think we'll be using it here while I'm the
[16:57] Oddly enough, I'm going to the gym. Haven't been in a while. Still,
should be interesting.
[12:00] Just finished a draft of the reference required to get my PFY upgraded to
something which gets her a whole whack more money and acknowledges how good she's
become. Which was difficult, but fun.
This weekend was a major party. There was a pool, food, drink, lots of bacon,
DVDs of terrible films (Deathstalker, and Deathstalker II, Amazon Women on the
Moon) loads of people to talk to, no sleep, more food, Chinese orders for 25
people with the numbers written in Chinese and Sun E420R servers in toilets
serving a network of SunRays. All good fun.
[16:55] There goes another plane. Shame. This afternoon I've distributed over
6GB or RAM about the building as all the remaining machines have been upgraded to
128MB. This means we're in good shape for the Windows 2000 upgrade next summer.
[15:55] Nothing much happened today. Got some emails which are quite interesting
but that's about it. Recycled a few machines and began to think about what I'll
be doing next here at excitement central.
I'm at a party all weekend at someone's house which is worth about £0.5M.
He's splitting with his wife so it's a house cooling. Naturally we're all taking
swimming costumes and towels (indoor swimming pool). I don't know what I'm going
to be good for on Monday.
[12:10] Eight days into November already. Swapped in potentially the most
problematic new PC this morning and it went flawlessly. Not only that but the
user was complementary on the process and pleased to be receiving the new
equipment. Installation, configuration and post-configuration all went according
to the mental checklist and all her files were in the right places straight away.
This means that she'll always expect this kind of support, but in this event I
don't really care as it's the next to last part of a long job almost done. When
I've done the last machine we should have an entire network of machines which I
installed and containing standard software in standard locations with only a few
bumps where some people wanted Quicktime/Realplayer/Winzip/FTP clients.
The weather is godawful today, and I have no lunch. Time to blag some from the
bunshop downstairs I think.
[12:30] So today I've done another two machines. Nothing exciting there. I'm
not sleeping too well at the moment. I think the girlfriend isn't either. She's
working too hard. I'm having odd nightmares. Nothing serious, but we're both a
little more tired than we'd like.
The shop I ordered the 256MB CompactFlash from hasn't gotten them back into stock
yet, so they haven's shipped my battery yet either. I've been getting annoyed
with the number of old PCs in the room again so I've asked some people who asked
for PCs to come and buy some as soon as possible at knockdown prices. I didn't
bring any lunch today, mainly because I'm lazy and I was doing the washing up
this morning and was too busy and because this afternoon from 16:30 there's a
hardware and software demonstration thingy at Central. This means I'll be off
there to steal wine/apple juice and eat all the sandwiches and pastries. There's
some kit there too. And some software. I'm just after the freebies though.
[11:20] Cycling through the city last night was a little like I'd imagine cycling
through a moderately active war zone might be. Lots of explosions, big
explosions, flashes lighting up the sky from horizon to horizon and the
occasional scream. Odd.
There's big discussion here at the moment about a new report which has come out
which could lead to Big Changes hereabouts. We're (sysadmins like me) having a
council-of-war meeting at lunch which should provide a jump-off point to
something larger and more organised. Sometimes it's good to take an active part
in things non-technical, especially if it means that something better will come
out of the far side. And in the end it'll affect our jobs anyway. So better to
have some say in it from the off.
The Dell GX150 we got yesterday resisted all attempts to let Windows 2000
identify one of its PCI-attached devices last night. Only this morning did I
work out that I needed to install the i815E chipset drivers before
anything else for Windows 2000 to identify the stuff on the motherboard properly.
[17:30] The Dell's just sitting here now, waiting for the right monitor to arrive
now. I've swapped in another PC elsewhere in the building leaving four more to
do before I can get back to doing something else. Like preparing for the PFY's
maternity leave at the end of January. The AO seems to have decided to get her
post upgraded in a different way to how we'd planned, so I have to have a chat
with him about what exactly he's up to. The PFY on the other hand needs to do
lots of preparations with regard to the Databases of Doom so that I can run them
[11:46] So today I've downloaded some new software for the Librarian and
installed it. It looks tacky and nasty and is going to cause problems for me, I
know it. I've also received a very late order from Dell (ordered 18/09/2001)
which has turned out to be very, very wrong. This is annoying. A lot. I'm
waiting for our Dell rep to get back to me so I can get something sorted.
I've also finally had a reply from some contacts with whom I've been negotiating
a settlement between. With luck this should seal a fairly large rift
and help my T-shirt sales in the UK. More on that later.
[15:00] Printing 81MB Word documents is No Fun... unless you have a network
attached photocopier with a 100Mb/sec NIC and a 40GB hard disk which can do all
the work while your machine doesn't slow to a crawl.
We're sticking with the incorrect Dell machine we were sent, it's been counted as
the first of the new style we'll be buying. All we need now is the monitor.
02/11/2001 - Retroactive
[05/11/2001 - 11:45] Got up, went for the appointment and then headed to Hinkley
in Leicestershire to look at the hotel where we're having the Convention. Took
plenty of photos with the new camera and was given free lunch. When we got back
(traffic was a bitch) I checked the photos. I need more practice.
That took up most of the day, really.
[08:55] Well, we had the powercut, all three minutes of it. Hardly a test of
the new UPSen but still enough to prove that someone on the site upstream of us
doesn't have a UPS on their switch. Which is annoying and tends to negate all of
the work we did yesterday. This is annoying, or would be if I wasn't so
lethargic from getting in at 07:50 this morning to make sure everything was O.K.
Long enough to check machines, not long enough to have powered everything down
[12:55] Sod it, I'm taking the day off tomorrow. Ostensibly it's because I need
to go and have an opticians appointment and go and see the hotel where the
Convention is going to be held (and take digital photographs), but also because I
feel really rough and I think a day off and a long weekend would be nice. I will
do tomorrow's journal on Monday, or perhaps in Monday evening at home, but I
Ghosting some more machines right now. With luck I'll be able to do three
machines today, which should leave only a few more to do next week.
[13:30] The Site Of This Afternoon is Acts of Gord.
It's note quite BOFH, but good enough to spend some time reading through.
[13:45] And while we're at it, The Chronicles of George
are always worth a re-read.