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31/10/2001
[13:45] Bugger, while the UPSen have turned up on time, and they're black, the rack-mounted one does not fit in our non-standard rack because the sodding sysadmin before the sysadmin before me ordered a non-standard size. This is annoying. I've asked MISCO to come and collect it and credit us for it, but I don't know whether we'll be able to do that as we've had it out of the box, etc. It meant that I spent about an hour tidying up the rack and getting rid of patch panels we never use any more. I wonder where they come out at the other end...

Other than this tiny mishap (which means that power cuts to the building will affect the BOFHcam after all) I've swapped in/out another machine pair and am on the way to doing another one. Because they're dropping the power to the building tomorrow morning at 08:00 until 08:30 (allegedly) There'll be no access to the BOFHcam, however it should still keep running if I've managed to get the UPS into place to run it. There will be a slight break in service while I actually put the UPS into place, but then we should be fairly safe from any further power losses, at least for fsck reasons. With no power to the switches you still won't be able to get to the machine.

[17:20] I've just come back from losing half a square metre of skin to the rack which we wanted to put the rackmount UPS into. It now fits. Don't ask me how I managed it, but I think I've done my gym session for the day. So, come the half an hour of power loss tomorrow you should still be able to get your essential dose of BOFHcam. How cool is that?

30/10/2001
[15:45] Sorry for the wait but it's been a busy day thus far. Not a bad day, just busy. This morning the RAID kit arrived from Dell, which was nice. Reading the documents with it all made me realise that it's a little more complicated than I remember, so I've taken some steps. I ordered another £2000's worth of UPSen to help cope with power failures. They should arrive tomorrow, which is useful as you'll see below. Also convinced the AO to let us pass up the LCDs for the servers in exchange for another server from Dell to help the RAID installation time. Essentially have a fully functional BDC (promoted to PDC) while we install RAID in each server one by one. So that was nice.

The AO's in a personnel meeting right now working on getting the PFY's post fully upgraded to the level it should have been at over a year ago. I think it may just work. While I was swapping in someone else's PC in place of an old one an email arrived saying that the power would be dropped on Thursday morning to help the electricians complete the fudge they did on Monday evening. As a result the building'll be powered off (machine-wise) at 17:30 tomorrow, when I go home.

If the new UPSen have arrived by the end of tomorrow we'll plug them in and everything important (the servers, my workstation and the BOFHcam) should sail right through the estimated thirty minutes downtime the next morning.

29/10/2001
[12:30] Spent the weekend in Bristol and Chippenham at the ConCom, had an excellent meal in a rural pub on the Sunday (pork with crackling and only slightly too much salt left on). The trains either way were uneventful. Got some good reading done.

We've been replacing, Ghosting and selling PCs in all kinds of order and eventually we'll have a whole empty office, a set of machines to which we can apply updates without tearing our hair out waiting for them to boot, let alone install stuff, and a network capable of withstanding Windows 2000 next summer.

[17:16] Power loss at 14:49:04 GMT. Power restored at about 17:00. Really fucking annoying as I'd just finished turning everything off at the mains. Now I'm staying here to turn everything back on again. The power better not go off again tonight or I'll be most displeased. I'm ordering another four UPSes tomorrow, and a rackmount one too, for the main comms cabinet. Next time this happens I want to keep working, and have the web servers (mine) stay up too.

26/10/2001
[13:20] This morning I was accused of being Robin William's character from the film 'Flubber'. Someone needs to die.

Selling more PCs at the moment, and having to fdisk and format them first. We have some spare Iiyama monitors now, I think I'll sell them separately. It's not an exciting day today, however this weekend I'm in Bristol at a Convention Comittee meeting.

25/10/2001
[17:10] Yes, I am in the office today, after all. Got in late, worked for half an hour and then walked over to get a lift with someone else to the suppliers who were doing a Jolly for us. After a car journey we arrived, waited for the other person who was getting shown around and went on in. For thirty minutes we were shown the place, weren't hard sold at all and had a nice chat about the armed robbery they'd had.

Once that was done we had a huge slap-up meal at a chinese where there were more courses than I could count. After a few hours of chat which the sales people appeared to steer away from subject of purchasing we staggered back to the plant and from thence to the car and back to here. All in all a painless and rather fattening experience.

All I've done since I got back is swap in someone's new machine, and open my post. My new Farscape DVDs arrived at work while I was out. So it was good that I came in, after all.

24/10/2001
[12:40] We replaced a PC belonging to a chronic smoker this morning. It stank. And I never knew that Iiyama did monitors in brown. My hands stunk. Also my T-shirt where I had held the PC against me to carry it downstairs. As soon as the files and stuff were copied across I put an advert out on the local newsgroups putting it on sale for about fifty pounds. Anything to get it out of the office as soon as possible. Naturally I've wiped the master boot record, and formatted the disk with 0's. I'm not opening the case and I listed the thing as "owned by heavy smoker". Caveat Emptor, when it comes to opening the case at any rate. Someone's coming to collect it at 13:00.

This afternoon I'm going to laugh at Windows XP (there's a demo on at Central). I'll probably come back after it as I can't really justify going home at 15:30. We're going to the gym this evening anyway, recording Stargate SG-1 in case we're not back in time.

23/10/2001
[09:05] Was here far too late last night trying to work out how the hell to get WIndows 2000's DNS to work happily with someone else being the SOA for the zone my domain's in. I'm almost there by secondarying the entire zone and creating the four underscore domains within my domain. There are still some problems with the server (there's only one at the moment) throwing up errors about some kind of off registration request it's trying to send to the DNS. I've asked for outside help, this stuff is just too hairy for me.

I've also got an appointment with the doctor this morning at 10:00 to get my injections and advice for the Egypt trip. Today I'm also working on the second draft of the PFY's job upgrade as well as getting a BDC to take over in the event of the PDC coming a cropper.

[11:20] Back from getting my Hepititis A injection. Arm aches slightly. Luckily it's my mouse arm rather my writing arm, so I can still get along with both hands on the keyboard. I've just gotten cross-server restores working and printers 'shared' on the BDC. This takes us one step closer to being able to look happier when^Wif a HDD goes in the main server. The RAID kit's been ordered so we can also demote the PDC when we have a spare moment, slap in three 10,000rpm discs and move to RAID5.

[12:35] Right, the Perl's sorted I think. Just some other things to think about (the Dr Solomon's Management Console stuff, and other small things) and we're happy. The phones are out today, water in the electrics. Shame.

[19:30] The phones came back and people began to phone me to ask if the phones were working again. I kid you not. I finally managed to get OfficeUpdate to work so I could update the master image I'll be using for the new machines which are to replace the last of the old machines in the building (ten of them).

I've given up on Windows 2000's pathetic attempt at DNS for the moment as I had to spend the afternoon working on the PFY document [draft 2]. That's with the AO now, so the ball's in his court, so to speak. I'm going to a Jolly at Pars' factory on Thursday, so I doubt I'll be in the office all day. Look at the PFY, she's going to work all day I'd imagine. She's good like that. Oh, I'm here tomorrow though.

[18:30] Right, off now. I'll be in briefly tomorrow morning after all as I'm travelling from here in a car-share thingy. It's a chance to make sure the place hasn't burnt down before I go, and I can check the place when I arrive back here to pick up my bike in the late afternoon. Watch the PFY, have some fun, read some Sinfest. Knock yourself out.

22/10/2001
[08:50] This morning I have to do all the crap I didn't do on Friday as well as start retiring old machines and installing new ones. Ghost, again, should ease the pain a little.

[16:28] Having wrestled with a Macintosh all morning getting NiftyTelnet+SSH and a newer version of Netscape to install and run, the printer we sent away for repairs throwing a wobbly again was not a good thing. The meeting with the Admin Officer to work through the PFY's job upgrade was brain-tiring and I've just been fighting with Dell's telephone system to find out a) what the speed of the disks in the servers are (7,200) and what speed they do now (not 7,200 but 10,000). I've ordered RAID kits for two PowerEdge 2300 machines and a PowerEdge 2400. I think they all come with 64MB of DIMM cache, which should be enough as I'm not running anything that's horribly requiring of disk I/O.

[16:45] Oh, and thanks to John S. for mentioning that http://www.menwithhill.com/ no longer points to Mark Thomas' Menwith Hill Tours parody, but to a porn site. I've updated the link to something a little more apposite.

19/10/2001 - Retroactive
[08:45 - 22/10/2001] Got up late, ordered 256MB of CompactFlash and a spare battery for my new camera, went into town, wandered around. At 12:30 the girlfriend and I trooped over to Unix Support, hauled the inhabitants to a bar where the birthday boy of the day opened a tab on wine and we stayed there until around 18:00. After a last few bottles of wine and two bottles of champagne we decamped to a pub where we stayed until about 23:00. We went home and went to bed.

18/10/2001
[15:55] Got in nice and late this morning but was extrememly annoyed by student cyclist clogging the roads and being muppets. Have spent the morning not doing that much really, but I did manage to squeeze in a goodly amount of digital camera research which culminated in going into town ostensibly to do some window shopping and price comaprisons. Eventually I ended up in a John Lewis store and managed to get them to price match a site I'd luckily printed out from the web. Walked away with about £80 off what I would have paid anywhere else, and a nice guarantee on top. Unfortunately the model I bought doesn't fit the really nice metal case that the slightly smaller models fit into. I like metal gadgets.

The camera is a Canon Digital Ixus (Elph to you American readers) 300. Canon do a great metal case for £18 which'd protect it when we go to Egypt on 8 December this year for two weeks. As it is I'm going to have to buy another case of some type which will protect my hefy investment.

17/10/2001
[10:40] For the rest of this week or as long as it takes I have to come up with a role description etc. for the PFY's new post. I'd like to think I can do a good job, but I'm a little nervous I won't be able to get it past Institutional Liaison (the people who say "yes, that's a post of level X you've described there"). I'm also hoping to take Friday off (or at least the afternoon) to celebrate someone's birthday. Should be fun.

[11:15] Thanks to Simon Tatham I've managed to rescript my Journal Update to use SSH2 DSA rather than poxy old SSH1 stuff. I may be using a snapshot release, but it seems to work. So I'm happy.

[13:15] Had an early lunch and came back to get a little bit of the monumental fuck-up Dell have made sorted out. We're still down one machine with a CD-RW but at least the GX150 still boxed will go, giving us some room back.

[17:30] The entire afternoon's been spent fiddling with WinSCP v2 and trying to get this role profile written for the PFY's new post. It's one of the most boring things I've ever done. It's like creative accountancy without the creativity, or any accountancy either. I think I'm going to go home now.

16/10/2001
[13:30] Not only did I stay far too late last night bringing up a BDC because I'm getting more and more convinced that an essential hard disk is going to go before we get RAID in place, but this morning someone came in and and demanded that when they produce documentation it go straight up on the web. When I asked if they'd be providing Word documents or HTML the person said that they didn't want downloads but HTML, so either I'd have to do it (this could mean lots of work and I said so) or they would convert it to HTML with Word and then mess about with it in Netscape Composer until all the effects they wanted were there.

At this point I was trying to control my Fists of Death and politely mentioned that there was such as thing as HTML Compliance. To this they replied that speed was of the essence and there was no time to comply to {finger quotes}HTML Compliance{finger quotes} and that didn't matter anyway. Nevermind the fact that the web site is our public face to the world and presenting shoddily formatted HTML turns our site to shit, oh no. We need these documents up now! If not yesterday!

The PFY and I have worked damned hard to make our site compliant and no idiot who thinks he can drive HTML is going to splatter Microsoft HTML all over my server.

[17:10] And this afternoon I've had my one meeting of this quarter, I think it was pretty good, apart from the huge amounts that had nothing to do with me and my department of course. I think we're one step closer to getting the PFY's post upgraded to something sensible too. I also had someone come in and try to get the institution to pay for a piece of Microsoft Office software. That ain't happening.

[20:35] Yes, I'm still here. No, don't ask.

15/10/2001
[14:40] Do you know how hard it is to get (buy) shorts at this time of year? Very, that's how. Anyway, I have some now. They'll probably come with me on my summer holiday in December to Egypt. Yup, we're going back again and this time we're not seeing the Nile, we're seeing the Pyramids and the deserts, and maybe even snorkling a bit. We're advised to bring a roll mat and a sleeping bag. Which means it could be quite cool. That'll be for the middle of December, from about the eighth onward. As before I'll be keeping a journal and this time I'll be buying a digital camera to get the images up faster.

Anyway, this weekend I had to come in on Saturday morning to turn on the new web server because someone had forgotten that the service was set to 'Manual' rather than 'Automatic'. I had spent ten minutes knocking up a Perl script to do it from home but none of the linux boxes I had inside the firewall would accept the libWin32 Perl modules and in the end it was just faster to cycle over there and start it up manually.

Later in the weekend we went to a friend's housewarming. It was good, there was food and drink and friends and we went home fairly late and came back the next day for a barbeque and stuff. Plenty to talk about, a nice house to look over and a wine rack for housewarming present.

12/10/2001
[10:10] Maybe I should have explained, the experiment yesterday was about trying to find out how the brains performs skills of concentration and attention. It looks at how adults perform certain computerised tests when taking a medicine called Modafinil and when not taking it (i.e. a placebo dosage). Modafinil is a medication that can increase alertness and is currently being used to treat adults who have a sleeping disorder called narcolepsy.

One of the possible side-effects I might have suffered while it was in my system is the inability to sleep easily at night. This was certainly the case last night. We had the DVD evening, people stayed for a while drinking wine then went and we went to bed. I could not sleep and I was hot. I ended up worrying about the hard drives in the servers and how we should move to RAID5 as soon as possible and how difficult it'd be to a) restore if we had a disc crash or, b) reinstall the same system once RAID5 was in place. Not very Recovered of me, really.

This morning I've swapped the new web server machine into place and am just now waiting for the DNS to update with the new A and CNAME records. Once that happens on our institution's DNS I can drop one FileMaker Pro application and start the one on the new server. We only have one license and it seems to know when other copies are running on the subnet. Propagation should take about four hours.

11/10/2001
[14:00] Was being medically experimented on this morning. More on that once I've started off a ghost on a new machine.

[14:15] And then redone it when it turns out the image I put on was NT4.

[15:20] O.K., so now that I've updated the machine to a kicking bottom version that's as secure as possible for Windows 2000 I've ghosted it back and have a few minutes while I wait for it to finish. So, this morning. I turned up at the hospital at 08:45 and was talked through twenty minutes of questions before being administered a pill by a doctor which may or may not have been a placebo. I then had to sit around for the next two hours while the pill did or did not take effect.

Once the time was up (I read Red Mars for the whole time) I was subjected to a battery of visual tests to do with pattern recognition, memory, sequence tests and the like. It was pretty hard at times, I haven't concentrated for two hours at a time for a good few months. Throughout the two hours I had my blood test taken a good few times and had to fill in a few forms to list how I was feeling where the sliding scale listed things like "Active___________Drowsy", "Happy___________Sad", "Confident___________Nervous" and the like. I had to put a vertical line "|" where I thought I rated. By the end I wasn't feeling as confident as at the start as I'd gotten things wrong which I was sure other people might have done better on. Still for £30 I wasn't going to complain. Especially as there was no-one else there. Anyway, back to it.

10/10/2001
[13:50] We've done some extensive redesigning of the website for the building here this morning. It looks a lot better now, for just a few little fiddles. Sometimes I think I might have liked to have been a web designer, creating pages which looked almost as good in Lynx as they do in Mozilla or IE. Maybe that's why I like doing the T-shirt designs, etc.

Anyway, as it's not my site we have to take the proposed changes to a committee and have them rubberstamp it. Personally I can't stand the old version now, when I look at it. So I may be rather convincing in getting them to accept the new version.

09/10/2001
[11:00] Todo: Deliver PC back to user who thinks it's a new one because they think I listen to them and I've gotten them a new PC rather than reinstalling the old one. Collect 3Com hub from sysadmin on other building and then sell it and three others. Sell four HP DeskJets. Sell five monitors. Sell four PCs. Sell three keyboards. Copy website to new machine, notify hostmaster for DNS update tonight. Breathe. Have some lunch. Update website substantially (work). Eat Citrus Sharp Polos. Slob about a bit, fiddle with Windows 2000 DNS. Wait for someone to come and pick up a pre-paid for printer. Go home.

[18:00] Would you believe just how much of that list I've actually achieved? Apart from only selling one of the DeskJets and collecting the hub and, well, most of the other things to be honest, it's been a really productive afternoon. We've still not managed to get the web server in a position to put the new one in its place yet. I think that'll happen tomorrow. Maybe.

08/10/2001
[08:55] While the girlfriend's on the equivalent of early and late shifts I find myself matching her for hours of waking, sleeping and work. As a result I was in at 07:40 this morning. Plenty of time to check the computer rooms, the backups (both servers had tape errors, double cleaned them).

[09:15] It's a day of HTML and webserver juggling today. We hope to swap in the new machine tomorrow morning, if all goes well. It's a little complicated but downtime should be extremely minimal. The only people who may be affected are Americans or people who get up early. People who access the site while I'm not there get everything they deserve.

[15:10] Negotiations continue on the production of the "BOFH in a Nutshell" design from O'Really. I don't want to say anything about it really as it's... complicated and not something I wished to be embroiled in anyway. If I can cause some old wounds to be closed and more people to get on with each other again (and incidently get my T-shirts on people's chests) then, hey, I'm happy to be a go-between. Just see me as a facilitator, if you will.

05/10/2001
[09:20] So I got in at 07:55 this morning to swap one of the PCs with barcode scanners into place. Everything went well apart from an odd power cord problem which was solved by throwing it out of a window and getting a new one from the breeding box we have in the office. I'll swap the other one in on Monday when the users are used to having one and it doesn't show any signs of exploding or otherwise causing them unnecessary grief (being perfectly happy with causing them normal amounts of grief).

I think today is going to be a round of Office 2000 patches. I thought we were up to date, but it appears not. This is annoying.

[17:30] I downloaded all the patches that we need. There's only three, so it's not that bad. The rest of the day has been spent complaining about the fact that Dell have sent the wrong kit again, but this time I've managed to find out that the reason is that Dell no longer have any 10GB 7.2K IDE disks. Once I stopped complaining I installed the new web server, loads of stuff I've been meaning to add for ages and also ran Analog 5.03 on the logs on the current web server. It's rather fast. I'm leaving it doing a DNS resolved version of the stats for the last three years which I'll have a look at on Monday.

04/10/2001
[11:10] Doing a shopping list this morning for my one meeting of the quarter. We have been thinking of anything to make sure we don't lose what we don't use. Nothing too extravagant, just enough to make sure we're comfortable. Thing is, we have pretty much everything we need, and more besides. We're selling old kit at the rate of one PC per week, and have old but usable networking kit coming out of our ears.

Got the new machines set up correctly before I went last night. Figured out that I had two large boxes which my friends (Landlord and partner) could use so rang them up. Turns out they're almost finished moving but were heading out for a curry not far from work so I dropped everything and had a nice meal before cycling home to record Stargate SG-1 for them (no TV until NTL wire them up some time today).

[16:40] And I've managed to shaft the new expensive barcode scanners most aggregiously. That'll go down well. I've also found a failure mode where I can not only lock up the scanner, but the keyboard, the application and eventually the whole PC. I won't mention the fact that I first attempted to connect the scanner to the mouse PS/2 port, rather than the keyboard one. I've never seen a computer display an epileptic fit before.

03/10/2001
[15:35] It's been an arsehole of a day thus far, but things are looking up. This morning the screen on the door control system wafted its magic smoke invisibly into the ether necessitating its replacement with another of my dwindling stock of crappy 14" screens. After that I carted the two newly arrived machines upstairs eager to do a clean install and found that the people at the company hadn't popped out the coverplate for the built in NIC. This meant I had to take out all the cards, unplug all the cables (which had been taped down for 'tidiness' and unscrew the mainboard from the case so I could get some room to remove the chunk of metal. I won't go into the hassles I had installing NT4 on the thing afterwards, suffice to say that I was glad that I was going to ghost the resultant image onto the second box (once I'd popped that machine's casing too). So that's me not happy with the manufacturers. Actually I will go into the hassles. Firstly when NT4 came out Microsoft couldn't understand hard drives larger than 8GB so the installer doesn't see more than that on install, then the AOpen motherboard doesn't let NT see the Intel NIC, the monitor doesn't like the Nvidia graphics card and nothing works without a service pack higher than three.

While I'm having a nightmare and a half with the install the PFY calls from a secretary's office where the secretary is giving her an audible rendition of how the machine appears to have carked it. I wander over and find that the box has managed to boot but frozen before the login box has come up. I powere it off, wait and then bring it back up again. The hard disk tried to escape through the casing. It's really not happy. So I have to redo that at some point before the end of the day. So that's me not happy at another manufacturer.

So that's in the office and I've finally gotten one of the new machines installed correctly and I try to ghost the image up to the server. Only the driver disks that Ghost has don't support the built in NIC. I bodge something together and hope it works. It does. About this time I decide that I'll pull a late night and take my time for the rest of the day, rather than working my arse off and going home in a foul temper. Not that it matters as the girlfriend's working late and is then attending a formal meal which'll make here even later. I'd have calmed down by then.

02/10/2001
[10:40] Up at 06:00 for another gym trip. As the girlfriend needs to be in work for 08:00 we were at the gym for 6:15. Naturally the gym doesn't open until 06:30 even thouhg we were sure it was 06:00. Anyway I dozed though an hour and a half of exercise and got into work. It's rained all morning, by the way, so I was soaked before and after the gym.

Since I've been here this morning I've collected a PC, downloaded a slew of BIOS and other driver updates and have begun to rebuild the machine to make it look to the complaining user who wanted a new machine that they did in fact have a new machine. Not that they do of course, 450MHz is enough for anyone.

[12:30] At the same time as negotiating a party date-clash I've also been installing this machine with stuff in record time. Never mind the fact that it's NT4.0 and recalcitrant as hell to get to a point where I can install the network drivers, there's the other stuff that needs installing to get the machine vaguely secure.

01/10/2001
[08:45] The girlfriend is going to be getting into work at 08:00 for the next two weeks or so because her work is in a panic session dealing with demand which should ease off in a few weeks. Maybe. As a result I'm getting up at the same time as her (solidarity, Comrade!) and getting into work for about the same time.

When I left on Friday (after 18:00) the front door hadn't locked itself like it was supposed to. This is annoying as it's probably going to be my job to sort it out/call Chubb.

[14:00] Actually, HP Web JetAdmin isn't as good as JetAdmin as it doesn't update its status stuff as quickly as the old version does. I also haven't been able to get the SNMP->SMTP traps to alert thing working. Still, the fact that sections turn yellow might mean it stands out more.