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December's Journal
February's Journal


31/01/2002
[15:00] I've lost a laptop. Or basically I've not got a record of who I've given it to. Needless to say this is rather annoying. I only discovered this when I got all the laptops out for the regular upgrade and update. Going through the records and the insurance doesn't seem to have turned up anything about it. I know we have it, because I assigned it an IP a while back. I just can't find it now.

[15:30] Panic (since about 10:00 this morning) over. The missing laptop situation has been resolved thusly. We had someone with a laptop (called X). Laptop X was stolen, and as this person was a demanding S.O.B. we gave him one of our spares (laptop Y) as soon as this happened. In the meantime we called our insurance people for a replacement for X. While this was happening we needed some new machine names in a hurry and one of them was X. When the new laptop arrived we called it Z. Naturally Z was added to the loan laptops list. Unfortunately while Z was added to the list and Y was on there, X's record was not removed/altered to be a desktop machine. So when I came to look for any insurance details (filled in whenever we loan a laptop out) for X, there weren't any. When I looked for who it was loaned out to, there wasn't anyone. There also weren't any serial numbers which matched up with the model I knew laptop X was.

Anyway, finding a machine not powered up called X proved to be the decisive point and reassured me that laptop X doesn't exist and I'm not one laptop short.

Cool site of today is the Pershing Webcam. Wait your turn, take control, have a look at London.

Film that Has To be Seen: Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Laugh, it's funny.

30/01/2002
[09:15] Email from Bram about the comment on contractors having maps before going out and sticking a JCB (backhoe for the Americans among you) through a fibre bundle. Should have put this up yesterday. For interest only.
As to your question "don't these people have maps", the answer is twofold.

1- Yes, but they're often inaccurate. The careful contractors (those managed by the end user of the cable) will recognize this and dig by hand around where the cable is suspected to be. The rest (managed by people who do not have a direct interrest in the integrity of the cable) realize that if the map is inaccurate it isn't their fault, or their liability, if they cut through it with their JCB.

2- Quite a few contractors don't bother to request the map in the first place. Those are the one that end up paying major damages to the owner of the cable. The average telco has a department dedicated to tracking these down.

Working at a telco (for the time being, we're all keeping a keen eye on management) I can tell you that we frequently have cable cuts, and we don't have all that much fibre burried, just a few thousand km of backbone and a couple of cityrings.

Bram
So there you go, the world is mostly divided as we though into two camps, those who don't care, and the fuckwits. It's up to the few of us who remain to try and fight against the flow.

[12:10] I've been press-ganged into being part of a seminar on what people around the Institution are doing with Windows in the future. I hate public speaking. I don't really know what to say. I'm worried that either a) people won't be bothered with what I'm doing or b) be doing things much more involved that I, and won't find what I'm saying anything new.

Apparently what I cobbled together to tell people seems to be what the person organising the thing is after. I'll just tell them that and they can lump it. Back from lunch I've managed to divest the building of another two really slow Dells for a 128MB SODIMM and 30UKP. I think I'll read DNS and BIND this afternoon.

29/01/2002
[16:00] Odd day today. Got in this morning full of the joys of spring having spent a good day yesterday working on the new RAID5 system in what was the master server. This morning, even though the net was up I had a hard time getting anything done because as soon as I'd gotten the server back into its RAID persona (having switched it back to plain old SCSI over night with the old disks so it could function as the backing-up server over night) I got a call from a user who needed a file restoring from last night's backup tape.

Once that was done I had to revert the machine back to RAID again and then start looking for firmware upgrades for a) the BIOS, b) the embedded server management/backplane and c) the RAID controller card. Installing those after taking off the old OS-specific RAID management software and rebooting, then putting on the new NT drivers was a bit of a trial. Add to this the fact I should have been in a meeting (which I called down to and told them to start without me) and I appear to have spent £15,000 without meaning to (thus requiring me to plead for some more money for the upcoming Windows 2000 'upgrade' which may or may not happen this summer), means that I'm in a weird mood now. And it's only Tuesday.

At some point I need to install the machine for real, with the up to date software drivers and get it backing up again. This should probably be done in one day so people aren't going to complain.

I hope the accounts people tell me what I spent that money on soon.

[18:30] Well, I've figured out what I spent the money on, so that's O.K. I've also worked out what I need to do to install the new server as quickly as possible. All that's required now is to decide what day I do it. Do I wait until the beginning of February (a Friday(!)) or just do it any old day, like tomorrow?

28/01/2002
[10:15] Connectivity to the rest of the world down since 08:50. It's not my fault so all I do is sit back and catch up on whatever got into the news spool before then.

[11:11] I've done that now. The only other thing to do is perhaps warn people that I might be upgrading the server which handles the backups to RAID this week and things might get a little... complicated.

[15:20] Still no connection here. Seems someone has cut through a fibre somewhere in London. It's suprising just how often this happens. Don't people have maps? Just hope they don't have to lay a complete new run. Still doing RAID here (going to RAID 5), but making sure that I can put the old hard drives back in in the evenings because this is the machine that's currently doing the backups every night.

[15:40] News appears to be that the link will not be up again until possibly 20:00, which is a bit annoying.

[18:00] Listening to "Euphoria - Pure" on mp3, installing on RAID5 containers, and kicking back.

[19:15] Well, that all appeared to go swimmingly. I've dropped the original disks back in for this evening so the backups will go off without any new problems and tomorrow I'll think about installing the machine for real, slapping on the backup software and all that other stuff. I'll also hopefully have a net connection again so you can all read today's entries and I can get to Dell's site and see if there are any firmware/BIOS updates I should be applying before this thing goes into the production environment.

25/01/2002
[12:40] Kook site of the day goes to The Phone Dome, especially the link "WHY DOME" on the left hand side. This morning I've been spending some time working on Windows 2000 automated hotfix installations again and really getting annoyed at how unstandardised it all is. I think the trick is going to be to get an up to date Ghost image and then work it from there with some kind of commercial software which the place can pay for.

[13:10] I've got a meeting this afternoon where I get to actually spout off about this Windows 2000 stuff. The thing I went to on Wednesday showed me that loads of people are still running Windows NT 4.0 so I'm not behind the curve just yet. I think many people will be 'upgrading' this summer and autumn.

24/01/2002
[10:20] I really, really need to spend some time on this site; getting the new photos up, thinking about a redesign to keep the place 'fresh' and 'vibrant'.

[13:50] Been fixing up another laptop, doing Ghosting and registering more swipecards for use by people who want to come into the building after hours. I also showed people how to use the DVD player with the 20" LCD screen.

[17:55] As someone's suggested. If anyone wants to come up with a new look for the whole BOFHcam site (excluding the O'Really section) then they're welcome to knock up a dummy site and point me at the URL. If I like it then you get plaudits and I get to not have to spend a lack of free time on doing myself.

23/01/2002
[11:40] Setting up the replacement laptop this morning. Our connection to WindowsUpdate is down, again. Had to go and help someone with a video which wasn't giving sound. Or maybe it was the televison. Either way nothing was coming out. We swapped in another trolley's worth of kit in the end, and left someone else to find out what the problem was.

I'm heading over to a technical seminar this afternoon. Don't expect to learn much new, but it might be interesting. Given that there's no support when I'm not here, I'll have to come back after it, rather than going home early.

22/01/2002
[10:55] phpGroupWare has been a little better behaved this morning. Still not perfect, but I've gotten some good things out of it. I still think I need to do a reinstall on it, wipe the database and start again.

[17:15] I went to a long lunch this afternoon. Loads of sysadmins, very nice food, and a lack of coming back to work afterwards. We did come back eventually, but then I went to someone's office (in another building) and cleared old machines out of the way and found a Macintosh with a tuner in it. That's coming back here so I can have terrestrial television at work.

[17:55] Just emailed the AO here to tell him I'd like him to come and have a look at the phpGroupWare setup I've slapped together. I've deleted almost all the 'Applications' apart from the calendar, To Do list, Addressbook and Notes so it's a little bare, but it should do all the things we need.

This of course means that I'll have the opportunity to set up the first valid linux box here. For the moment we'll ignore the fact that there's been four of them up and running for years.

21/01/2002
[10:26] Working on the morning's stuff to get on top of things. Also had an email from the AO this morning mentioning that it might be cheaper to buy twenty new smaller form-factor PCs with LCD monitors that get new, deeper, benching in the room where we have currently have twenty larger PCs. He's right of course; given the pricing we had on the last benching in the building (wooden) it'd cost about forty thousand pounds (I'm not kidding). The new PCs would cost about twenty-five thousand.

[11:20] Microsoft in suprisingly useful HFnetcheck 3.3 application shocker.

[12:45] I love bandwidth. Lots of lovely bandwidth. Mmmmmm. I'm installing a scratch RedHat 7.2 box (shut up at the back) to test out PHPGroupware, which I may prefer over MeetingMaker (both calendaring/scheduling application-type things). Getting some experience in MySQL, PHP and Samba intergration for authentication is just what I need at the moment given the rut I think I'm in at the moment.

[17:30] As much as I love working with non-Windows, phpGroupWare (which I've decided to try is a little unfinished. While I applaud the idea behind it, couldn't do anything better myself and am impressed with what does work. It's still a smidgen buggy, the documentation is missing a few things. Which is a shame as I think it's what I want to run here. I think I'll keep plugging away, wait for a better release and fend off the people here who want a shared calendaring application yesterday.

18/01/2002
[09:05] Lost my debit card yesterday at around 12:20. Went to Halfords in town to buy something and then didn't remember seeing it again. I realised when I tried to write a number on the back of a cheque. Anyway, I got someone to drive me to work to check it wasn't there. It wasn't. Came home and cancelled it. Annoying as I had two outstanding DVD orders on it.

This morning I rang up Halfords and they had it safe. I amused the guy on the phone by asking him to tear it up over the phone. Strangely enough the DVD order that was in process (I cancelled the other one) seems to have gone through. So all in all things appear to have gone better than expected. I don't need to buy anything for a while and the new card should be with me in a few days, unless the same thing happens as last time when the first replacement never arrived and someone in town spent on it.

[11:37] The advert for maternity leave PFY replacement is now up. Interviews are on 8 February. Wonder who I'll get.

[12:30] And then our connection to the network died, so I put on a DVD and locked the door.

[17:10] Went and bought some headphones for the DVD machine this afternoon. Watched a DVD for the remainder.

17/01/2002
[11:10] Guess what? A hectic morning. Already I've been talking with the Librarian about new PCs (again) and getting annoyed that she's going to want them in the same NT domain as the rest of the ones in there. This means another labourious time of setting them up and then locking them, creating images and rolling them out, separate to the other fifteen already there. That sucks. They also want them to have "possibly word-processing abilities". This means, in their eyes, installing Office 2000. That's a bugger to lock down on its own.

As it is I have to install the DVD-equiped PC on Monday so muggins has to go to a hardware shop today or tomorrow and get some more cables and padlocks.

[12:00] I'm so pissed off I think I'll go right now.

[13:02] I've locked the door again. I think while I'm the only person here doing IT support lunchtimes are sacrosanct.

[16:40] I think it's going home early time again today. I need to vacuum the house and other boring things before the standard Thursday evening of television and pizza and chinese and wine and stuff. I've dealt with three personal laptops a whole slew of printer requests and a Libretto with a dodgy installation of Windows 95. I've started to relearn stuff about RAID, containers and volumes in preparation for the time when I may get the opportunity to stick the RAID key and three fast disks into the main server which is currently just doing nothing except being a BDC and the backups.

16/01/2002
[13:55] I've actually locked the door for the last half an hour to pretend that I'm actually taking my regulation hour for lunch. Five knocks on the door already. It's sad that people have come to expect me to be here over lunch. I must do something to stop that.

Finally delivered the new G4 Macintosh to the office it's supposed to be in this morning. Obviously it was me doing all the carrying. Fixed another DeskJet, fiddled with some stuff, registered a few more cards for the door control system and got my payrise information finished and handed over. Now it's in the AO and the Chairman's hands. If it was just up to them it'd be a sure thing but there's another level above them, and a finite pot of cash.

[16:55] WindowsUpdate's playing silly buggers again so I'm off to the gym.

15/01/2002
[17:30] Another busy day at the ranch. Have installed a laptop and handed it over to someone for a year and a half (he's going to bring it back occasionally for me to fix what he breaks) and struggled with an IMAP program that wouldn't send mail without privs. above User. I've tried to make the DVD software on the new PC work with multi-region stuff, but it's having none of it. I'm thinking of giving up and just rolling it out as Region 2 only, at least that's how it's supposed to be.

[18:10] I've just been lumped with learning Acrobat to make some major changes to a PDF which is currently live. I could do it tomorrow but I'll just forget and I don't know what else will happen then, so I'm doing it now. It's not that difficult, really.

14/01/2002
[12:45] Busy morning. Made the new DVD player on the PC with the 20" LCD RPC-free (you've always got to do your bit) and then started doing loads of work. I hope I have time to finish my personal statement before Friday. It's Monday (hmmm, morning's over) afternoon and I'm already snowed under and rather tired.

Been working on HTML for the building's site this morning. I really hate it when people don't provide the information you need in the format you asked for and you have to fudge bits of it. Not only that but there a some gray areas about what information I need to be putting up and a lot of it has accents and other weird characters. Fun.

Oh yes, try this http://www.electrotank.com/games/playGames.cfm?gameID=34 apparently it's quite fun.

[16:55] Sorry I still haven't gotten my pictures up yet from Egypt. I have no free time at the moment and I'm trying to get home in time to have a life in the evenings. I've dealt with two laptops today (including one complete rebuild and patch), tried to get some web stuff done and left it a little messy. I'll mail a secretary and get them to take a look and email me with the changes.

11/01/2002
[14:15] Been working on my personal statement this morning. It's tough working out what I can and can't say so it sounds good, but not too self-agrandising. The new PC for the libray's arrived.

[16:10] And may I say that a black 20" LCD screen it one of the nicest things in the known world. It's really rather nice. I want one. Now. For the moment though I'll just go to the pub.

10/01/2002
[13:45] Today I will be working on my payrise stuff. Someone came in for a laptop this morning but as I couldn't update the software as Windowsupdates was down I didn't give it to them. Shame.

I haven't done anything else.

[16:00] Seriously, I haven't done anything.

[17:30] Well, I've gotten my role profile from the boss so I can now create my personal profile which will be stunning. If I ever have time to do it.

09/01/2002
[11:40] Managed to get some other work done this morning. Just small things, but even though they weren't niggling they needed to be done and it leaves me free to concentrate on bigger things if they happen. With no-one else to talk to I'm beginning to think some things are falling through the cracks in my brain. All I think I can do is wait for people to come to me and ask if I've done $FORGOTTEN_THING yet and then I can get it done there and then.

Today I'm going to try and get some research done on why Iomega and HP don't get on, as well as try to work on a payrise.

[15:40] I've resolved to let the user with the problem PC get back up to speed before I do anything else with it. I think I'll try attaching a DeskJet 520 to it. That's nice and basic. Nothing fancy about that. I'm also installing a USB card and sound card for one of the secretaries (in a machine she bought from here). She wants to watch so that she knows what to do next time. Shame there's no more free PCI slots in the machine.

Haven't managed to do anything with my payrise stuff yet.

08/01/2002
[11:51] Organised the course for the secretaries this morning including sorting out the LCD projector and stuff. There's all kinds of small things to do today but I'm damned glad that I got the two problems yesterday sorted.

There's a PC to order today and, erm, some other stuff. Frankly I'm knackered already. Why isn't it Friday?

[20:20] Yes, 20:20. That's not a typo. I'm about to search Google for contract assassins to go to Iomega and HP's programming groups and kill everyone there with some kind of electrically charged rusty barbed thing. I've been working on one PC (and then two, but you don't want me to explain) since 14:10, purely to get a poxy Parallel Port Zip Drive to work with it. To cut a long and incredibly boring story short, it turns out that you can't run an HP Deskjet 670C printer on the pass-through on the Zip or the Zip stuff stops working. No warning as to this happening and no way to fix it. It took me six hours to find out through trial and error and numerous Ghostings. I swear if I didn't have Ghost I would have damaged something permanently with my fists by now. As it is I've fixed everything except for the fact that the computer with the Zip drive attached can't print to a local printer. I'm going to have to think about that, but tomorrow. I can try another manufacturer, or another HP printer (hopefully the drivers for that will be different), and in the meantime get the user to print to my printer or something. I don't know. Frankly I'm too wiped to think of anything else. Home.

07/01/2002
[11:50] I'm heading out right across town at lunchtime to buy one of the groups here a USB hub. I've been spending the morning working on the Apples which are still here. Unfortunately (for the users who settled on Microsoft Word 5.1 and FileMaker Pro 2.0) the disks are 800K Macintosh format and the USB floppy drive won't read them. This means I get to force them to move them to slightly more sane versions.

Someone also pointed me at "http://letters.oreilly.com/spoofcovers_1201.html this morning. Nice to see that I account for almost half the images there, even if they're not showing all of mine. Anyway, the insurance people called about the laptop which was stolen last year from Berlin train station, so that should be replaced soon.

I was at my parents' this weekend. While I was doing some security maintenance on their lone PC I began to tell them about cable television and broadband. By the end of the weekend they'd been convinced and are having the television part of it installed in two weeks. Broadband follows soon afterwards. This means that when I go to visit I can a) watch Sky One and b) ensure that I have a decent network connection. Oh and I can see the parents. They'll get another PC out of me too. As they'll be on the network a lot more I think it'll be as secure as I can make it.

[19:30] So I've been here all afternoon and evening trying to get the new Mac to print to the USB HP LaserJet 1200. Easy you'd think. But no. Anyway, in the middle of that someone wanted a Zip drive attaching to an NT box. Easy too, you'd think. But no. Luckily when the machine got hosed I was able to restore it from a Ghost image in a few minutes while I fought with MacOS some more and contemplated reinstalling that too. Another hour with the PC and it's pretty much there. There's one problem, but it's cosmetic only. Back to the Mac and after doing the software equivalent of slapping it about with a baseball bat it decided to start working, for some reason. This was annoying, but pleasing that I was now two for two. Now I'm going home, before something else goes wrong.

04/01/2002
[14:20] Nice short week this week. This evening we're taking the train to Leeds to see my parents and eat up the last of their Christmas food/get the last of our Christmas presents. For today I've unpacked the Powerbook Titanium, cut my finger badly on the corrugated cardboard and installed MacOS 9 and the extra update. I've also had some 'fun' making the DVD region free.

This afternoon all I'll be doing is watching Stargate SG-1 on the laptop and hoping no-one comes in to bother me. Have a good weekend.

03/01/2002
[11:45] All go here this morning. One of the people we have here continues to power down his PC, rather than logging it out. I've gotten quite abrupt with my paper messages left on his keyboard. I've been setting up a new Macintosh G4 and resisting the urge to boot it into MacOS X because I have no idea how to secure it in the time I have available. I'll make sure the person who's getting it isn't able to boot it into X before I hand it over. Not only have they gotten a new desktop toy, it seems that I've got to set up a Titanium too. Not as funky as I thought it'd be (the keyboard sucks), but it looks beautiful and the screen's huge.

I've also being doing all the web updates for the building's web site. It's not that it's tough, I was just used to handing it off to the PFY and getting on with other stuff. There's a lunch today to listen to people bitch about stuff, and this evening is the first of this year's Thursday DVD+Pizza+Chinese+wine sessions.

[17:30] Been setting up the G4 this afternoon. It's a little too simple... I think it's time to go home. The purchaser needs to buy a USB hub as soon as possible as they have a USB printer, floppy drive and Zip drive. As well as the keyboard and mouse. Anyway, tomorrow's it's the turn of the Mac Ti.

02/01/2002
[12:28] First day back at work. Amazingly the entire place hadn't gone to hell in a handbasket. I've almost finished reading my post, had another DVD arrive and chased one order. Someone in Administration borrowed a laptop of the wrong kind and won't be coming back in until next Monday so I can't crack heads until then.

I've fixed a Windows 2000 server DNS problem, I think, been given a new Mac G4 to install and been given an old Dell that isn't wanted any more. This afternoon I'll do the Mac install, tidy the office a bit and work out what else needs doing. I've also fiddled with the Journal archives a bit. Should make browsing it a little easier.

01/01/2002
Woke about 11:00. Went for a nice long walk in the light snow and sub-zero temperatures before heading back to the party house for more food, drink and pinball. Ended up watching eXistenZ which looked like a typical David Cronenberg film with too much focus on the gore. Still, it took up an hour or so. Ended up getting a lift back from friends and playing Return to Castle Wolfenstein (which I now have to buy) on multiplayer because it's such an excellent game.