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[01/04/2002 18:00] Friday was a really lazy day. We tidied the house, packed for the trip to the girlfriend's parents for the weekend and drove into town. I dropped into work to put in the monthly backup tape for the evening (don't say anything) and then we ended up by the river having a picnic with some friends. Around 16:00 the girlfriend and I departed for Wiltshire. We drove, we arrived at the B&B near her parents, we ate, we slept. More on the weekend on Tuesday when I get back into the office and do Monday's entry in April's file.

[01/04/2002 17:50] Waited in this morning for a friend to come round and walk with me to see the latest house we're interested in. At 10:40 he appeared and we walked round. The vendor was in and she gave us free rein to walk around and poke at things. For once the friend was hard-pushed to find anything wrong with the place we'd asked him to come and see so once I got back home I rang up the girlfriend and we put in an offer on the place. We can't afford the full price (in fact we weren't sure at the time if we could afford the price we offered, we were waiting on a call-back from the mortgage people) so have offered 5K less. With luck the fact that we can move whenever the vendor's ready should offset the fact we're under the asking price.

I then waited in for friends (plus baby) to come round and we walked into the centre of town to meet the friend from the US who's back in the UK for a while. We shopped. We went back to our house and began to set up for the party in the evening.

The party went on into the small hours with about twenty-five people in the place at one point. Much drinking, much listening to music and eventual pulling out of the DDR mats and the Playstation. I crashed out at 01:00, most everyone else either went home or went to bed by 02:00.

[13:20] Went out last night in London. Pretty good, a little cold. Met a friend who emigrated to the US to marry someone. He's back in the UK (comes back occasionally to stop losing his accent) and will be coming to see us on Thursday afternoon and evening (we're having an open house) so we can actually talk to him rather than shouting over the music we had in the club (Bad Bob's) last night. When we came out of the club at about 23:30 last night we found our way to a Pizza Express which was in the throes of closing and managed to get six people served two courses and be out again inside half an hour. Damned good service and the waitress was lovely. I think she was punch-drunk with tiredness.

Further fighting with ePolicy Orchestrator today.

[12:00] Set up another Windows 2000 PC this morning for shipping out. Ghost works. This is the first use since I reinstalled it. Nice to see stand-alone installations are O.K. The next thing to try is an Enterprise style rollout. I think we may do one of those once the last machine's RAIDed.

Went climbing last night. New shoes helped enormously and only hurt after about two hours. It was a lot better this time but I've still brought some hand exercise things into work to play with when I'm not doing anything. I want to be able to keep climbing for the whole time, rather than starting to drop off the wall when my hands just won't close.

Anyway. Today I'm off to see two houses, then going to London this evening for a party-type thing. With luck I'll be back by midday tomorrow.

[14:35] Well, both houses were very interesting. I could live in both of them. The second one is a bit out of the way as compared to the first place, and both of them are a bit expensive. We'll see.

[12:40] Fairly productive morning this morning. Moved all the users, printing and other gubbins back to the second RAID-enabled server and switched off the scratch one. Two down, one to go, in terms of RAIDing the main servers. We'll start on the last one soon. That should be easier.

This weekend I bought some climbing shoes (damned tight on the feet, but I think they're the right size) and we're going climbing this evening (if we get there in time) again. First time with the new shoes on, so I'll have no excuse for not being very good, apart from not being strong enough, yet.

Now I think about it, once we get the last server RAIDed we can use the scratch server as a second DC in the new Windows 2000 setup. I don't feel comfortable with only one machine being a DC for it at the moment. Even if it is only supporting two inactive users and two workstations.

I'm pricing up a new PC at the moment from Those of you who read The Register will remember that they're the people who almost sold a few hundred sticks of SDRAM for far less than the right price and had to back-pedal. Their other prices aren't bad though. So I'm pricing up something beefy (Athlon 1900+, Creative GeForce 4 Ti4400, 512MB 2700 DDR, ATA133, etc.) which looks like (minus some things I can reuse (like a monitor)) at less than £1000. Which is nice.

[16:30] Loath as I am usually to promote the viewing of such images over the web, here's an image which caught my attention. I think many sysadmins would wish for a BSoD like this.

[16:55] Going to see two houses tomorrow lunchtime. One's at 13:00, the other is at 13:30. This means we're going to have to get to the first one a little earlier as they're not particularly close together.

[15:30] Exciting day today, no really. Highlight of the day was installing ePolicy Orchestrator 2.0 again and making damned sure I'd secured it. I'm still not entirely sure it's locked down, but I think it is. Maybe.

Considering where to buy an iPod from, if at all. I think waiting too long for gadgets tends to be bad in the long run. You cool off a little. Hopefully not too much.

[16:45] Anyway, the week's over. I'm off for a Thai.

[11:30] Hmmm, new 10GB iPods have come out. Only I tried my friend's iPod with my (admittedly no-name) Firewire card last night and only got 500kb/sec transfer speed. That was 101MB in 3 minutes and 31 seconds. Anyone want to check my maths?

[15:50] Been doing some stuff, and things. Nothing much.

[15:10] Working on autoinstalls of Windows 2000 hotfixes again this morning. Got a lot further than before. Finally got the emails to go out and to the right people from the right address. A major achievement given the use of .js files.

Off to see the house again this evening. If we buy it I'll do some pictures in the gallery (hmmm, must put up the Egypt pictures at some point!) of before we moved in and how it gets altered.

Tonight's also DVD evening. I'll miss the beginning unless we're really quick at the house. It's nice that it's so close (but not quite close enough) to the current place as it's a quick trip back. Nothing more on the prize yet. Hopefully it'll happen before the end of next week.

[10:20] Short little gym session this morning. Came in, had a delivery from MISCO of two new printers. Put one in place, showed a user how to in fact have more than one thing on the screen at the same time, rather than using two PCs. Removed a printer from the place where I'd put one in place. MISCO are messing up order information so I've asked around to see if it's just something they have against me.

Went and saw a house up the road from us last night. It's about half to three-quarters of a mile up the road, so it's not so good for the Co-op and the Chinese take-away we frequent, but it's got real potiential, is currently in need of very little repair (just some windows need replacing, but that's not more than a couple of hundred pounds to a thousand) and could be expanded all over the place. For once the lounge could house the TV and speakers with very little work too. I think it shows real promise. The rooms aren't bad either. Yes, I think I could live there. Eventually, with some money, we could probably make it huge, and have a really good place. I have photos.

[12:10] Just upgraded to a new version of EditPad which seems to work just like the old one did, only with a few more bells and whistles. Now that I've gotten the colours under control and it editing with FixedSys I'm pretty happy with it.

Oh yes, the joystick works well too.

[15:45] The Prefered Vendors Demo Day I went to a few weeks ago has finally had its prize draw and I've won. Hurrah! £25 and whatever money is left in some kitty or other for the department to spend.

[12:00] Feeling a bit happier today. Probably because of just having had a weekend, my two Amazon books and my new joystick (Saitek Cyborg 3D USB) arriving. Thanks to those of you who have offered advice, I may just take some of it.

[13:10] The PFY's popped in from the linux course he's on this week to see what's happening. Which is good. I've solved (mostly) the Access 2000 problem this morning which he's the partial cause of. Not really too difficult once I'd figured out how it was thinking.

[11:45] I won't tell you how early I was in this morning. I've decided not to do anything more to the reinstalled server (apart from reapplying SP6a the SRP and some extra hotfixes). I want it to bed down a little first before I inflict Norton Ghost 6.0 on it. That'll happen on Monday. Once that's done we'll start moving stuff back onto it. A weekend of unattendedness should do the trick.

I'm having a spot of bother keeping busy at the moment. There's a kind of hiatus in things I want to/need to do. It's embarassing as I need to keep busy in front of the PFY. I could probably research how to secure ePO 2.x and how it's supposed to be secured (officially or unofficially), in fact that's probably the most constructive thing I can do today.

[12:20] I think I want another job. Not right now. But I need something that's going to stretch me more and stretch me into learning, rather than stretch me into how to fill up my time waiting for lunch/end of day. I want a job in unix/linux support. Only I don't know enough to get a job right now. I should try and do some more learning. Only what to learn? "Everything as I need it" or something more structured? Suggestions?

[14:30] Well, I've ordered the book I've been coverting for the past few months, It's the UNIX System Administrator's Handbook and should keep me amused and informed for a good long while. I may even read it at work.

[08:20] Went to the gym this morning. This is the reason I'm in early. I have no other excuse.

[08:30] That's bloody odd. I've found my Norton Ghost 6.0 Enterprise CD. I was sure I'd checked all of the CDs in my rack. Just I was equally sure I'd never have thrown it out during my CD cleanout. Yet the first time I couldn't find it no matter what. Really odd.

[13:20] Machine now almost completely reinstalled with RAID 5 now. Still missing the library of installable software, all the printer balances, and Norton Ghost. I may do Ghost today (this afternoon) or more probably tomorrow/Monday.

[14:55] Consistency checking even on only 34GB of RAID 5 takes a while.

[16:55] Tonight's DVD night, etc. I've been watching the UPS consoles this afternoon (it's that exciting here) and the power fluctuations are horrible. From 228.9V to 250.2V in the space of less than a minute. Thank goodness I have UPSen attached to all the important machines.

[09:30] Went back to see the house last night with a friend. It was still nice, but. Just but. It's a little bit too out of the way, the lounge isn't quite right, the back garden ("Primarily laid to concrete") while huge, isn't right either. I'm sure we could live there. But I don't think we will. We could afford it without any problem, I just don't think we will. I have to call the people today to tell them we won't be making an offer. It's suprising that it hasn't been sold in the three months it's been on the market, really.

[10:00] Woohoo, payrise! Or more precisely a 'discretionary increment'. Back-dated to 1 October 2001. While I'm not mercenary (more than any other person in the street, that is to say, quite a bit actually) I'm worried this is going to get mixed up with my standard salary scale point step up every year I'm in the job (1 April every year).

[10:50] Jeff Minter is back! Yes, the creator of Llamatron and Attack of the Mutant Camels has returned. Have a look at his site for his latest creation. "No Goats, No Glory".

[15:50] Just back from a presentation on new software which may be used to access all kinds of stuff on the web. Nothing really more to say on that.

[11:55] Tried installing the PERC 2/SC in the next server yesterday. It seemed to work. At least, once all the firmwares were upgraded. Blowing all the dust out of the inside of the box seems to have messed up the workings of the tape drive for some reason. Not only that but last night's tape seems to have been completely buggered. This is annoying. Hopefully it'll be fine this evening or I'm going to have to do a tapedrivectomy.

We went and saw a house last night. A little bit too far out of town, but with definite possibilities. If we don't like the house we're seeing at lunchtime today then then we may make an offer on it. It's a little cramped upstairs, but could work. With some changes.

I tried to fix my joystick last night. It's a well used Saitek Cyborg 3D Digital with a broken twist axis. I've had it apart, but the bit that needs fixing is a little hard to deal with. Not only that but I've stripped the head from one of the six-point star-headed screws. So I can't get back in again without some serious work. I've ordered a new Cyborg 3D USB Gold as that'll work with Windows 2000, when I move to it, at some point.

The PFY was mugged last night. They took his mobile (insured, cancelled on all networks, new one on the way, calls forwarded to home for the moment), his wallet (all cards cancelled) and £15. He was unharmed, luckily. Good to know.

I'm off to see the other house in about half an hour. We went to the gym before work this morning so the cereal bar I had this morning really wasn't enough. I think we'll stop off at the Co-op on the way back from seeing the house and load up on sandwiches.

[17:10] Off to see last night's house again with the friend who came to see the last one we were keen on. He has a way of crystalising the way we feel about places, so it's useful for him to see places we are stuck on. Hope the backup works correctly this evening or we're in a spot of bother.

The house we went to see at lunch time was O.K., but not really up to much, even though the location was wonderful.

[09:40] Argh! Sodding Scan Computers International Ltd. Won't allow Initial CityLink to deliver to an alternate address, even on my say-so because of 'the potential for credit card fraud'. Even though I'm the person who rang up, and I am the person to whom it will remain addressed. As a result I'm going to have to go home again in a few hours and wait in until it turns up.

The weekend was good. Didn't do much, except break my joystick with large amounts of frantic Freespace 2 action. I love that game, it lets me use the twist axis on the joystick, and killing things with missile and laser volleys makes for satisfying explosions. May need to get a new joystick unless I can find a tiny six-point head for my screwdriver.

[11:30] Just come back from home where I dashed when the delivery people said they'd be there in half an hour. The card's in (haven't powered on yet) and I have a standard to floppy power plug sized adapter to allow the card to provide power to Firewire devices. All I need to do now is decide when I want to buy an iPod.

[16:30] Off to see another house. Talk to you about SCSI and PERC 2/SC RAID cards tomorrow.

[10:10] This morning is the OpenSSH upgrade time. As I run mainly RedHat here and they're not doing OpenSSH 3.1 RPMs for 6.2 I'm having to move to source. This means that those machines that I uninstalled (sorry --erase) OpenSSH from now need OpenSSL installed, from source (I may as well) as it's not around.

[10:35] Stupid CityLink. Can't deliver before 11am ("Between 11:00 and 13:00"), won't deliver on a weekend and can't deliver to a different address without authorisation from the sender. Not helpful.

[11:50] Two machines down, one of the remaining is expected to provide no problems. The last of the four machines seems to have some kind of problem with compiling OpenSSH-3.1 for some reason. The ./configure works, only at the point where it gets to work on cypher things go horribly wrong. I don't think it's anything to do with the fact that I installed OpenSSL from source before removing the RPM of OpenSSL. I eventually removed the OpenSSL RPM and reconfigured and reinstalled it from source. Although it could be. All I can see is that the make fails on the file cypher.c.

[12:40] Solved it now. Old versions of OpenSSL files hanging around, even after I'd uninstalled the RPM and installed source over the top. Manual deletion of everything OpenSSL related and a start from scratch seems to have solved it.

[13:20] I'm off to a meeting this afternoon, so you won't see me again until Monday. Should be fun, maybe. We'll see.

[12:00] Damn. We lost the house we put in an offer on. Someone else must have offered more. Damnit, I wanted that house. Nice place, nice decor, great kitchen, etc. Damn.

The thing I was alluding to yesterday was a Playstation and Dance Stage Euro Mix (AKA Dance Dance Revolution) which I got for the girlfriend as our 5 years together present. She got me the BBC Radio version of The Lord of the Rings on CD box-set, and had also done me the favour of ripping the CDs to one and a half CDs of mp3s.

I wanted that house.

[17:10] Spent the afternoon going over the institution's site, making sure that the CSS validates, and everything. I think it's pretty good.

[11:25] Well, that went almost worryingly well. Moved 509 users, their home directories, roaming profiles and where they print to all in under 40 minutes (most of the time was taken up with a couple of gigabytes of scopy'ing the data around).

This afternoon the girlfriend's giving a talk on Perl and web-accessible databases and this evening we're watching DVDs and having pizzas. Unless something terrible happens today could be a very good day. It has been so far.

In fact it's just gotten better. Can't say why, just yet.

[12:00] This is weird. Everything seems to be working. I'm worried. I'm also away all afternoon, as I said. The PFY should be able to cope. Backup job is updated, no-one's complained yet.

[11:55] More preparations this morning for the move of the mass of users from one machine to another. Now that the printer change-over .reg file is primed, all we need to do is lock the room for a few minutes. Make the machines load the Wbalance.exe from the new server, stop the old Pcounter server, copy over the data/balance files, activate the .bat file in people's profiles and home it all works. Once that's done we do the old Perl on the Roaming Profiles and home directories and we're ready to go.

Still no sign of my Norton Ghost 6.0 Enterprise Edition CD yet.

[12:10] Right, off to go look at another house. Two more this evening after work, as well.

[15:00] Spent some time looking at the house in the north of the city. Unfortunately the place was too near the dual carriageway, the rooms not quite right (although the house was very roomy) and the lounge just not the right shape. Once we were back in the city I stopped off at a John Lewis shop and happened across an Archos Recorder and an iPod next to each other. Once I'd managed to get access to a sales assistant I was able to hold both in my hand and feel the difference. The weight difference isn't that much of an issue, the chunkiness of the Archos and the fact that it's a splodge of Ugly, compared to the iPod on the other hand, is. I think I'm still going to have to wait to see if Apple bring out a 10 or 20GB version.

[11:55] Working with the NT registry all morning is brain-curdling work. I'll be glad to take some time off to go and talk with other sysdmins over lunch. I think I've worked out how to get people to log in and automatically have the right printer mapped and the other one deleted for the duration of the time they'll be using the scratch machine. Thanks to some Googling I now know how to delete sections from the registry from .reg files. Wish they'd documented that a while ago. Still, useful now. I bet it still working in Windows 2000, so that's helpful.

What I need to do now is figure out when .bat files run when placed in the NETLOGON share. Will they run automatically with any name ending in .bat, do they have to be called netlogon/logon/login.bat to work. Or, as I'm pretty sure, can they be called anything so long as the file is specified in each user's profile under the "Login Script Name:" box...

[16:35] Busy updating laptops for people to take away for a while. Even with a 100MB/sec network card it's slow going.

[17:10] Something to note: Default Users cannot affect the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE hive. I think it's about time to stop for the day and go to someone's house to watch Enterprise and stuff.

[10:43] Going to re-visit a house this lunchtime with someone who's just bought one himself and who can offer a second opinion and a critical eye. Got someone coming in this afternoon to take another look my Windows 2000 DNS setup in an effort to eradicate these warnings for once and for all. There's no way I am going to roll out this thing without a way to get it done as 'right' as it's possible to be.

[10:55] It's Friday. I can't do anything big on a Friday as there's no way I'm being trapped here late into the evening. As it is we're off to see the girlfriend's parents after attending someone's 30th birthday party. That should prove interesting.

[16:30] Had the guy come in to talk MS DNS. I think we've solved it. Microsoft were mostly to blame. Their question when installing DNS for the first time was not properly formed so I answered it wrong. The question was to do with the fact that it asks whether the DNS you're installing is the first one on the network or not. I thought it was, considering I'm on my own network. The answer was in fact no, because I'm not authorative for the zone, I'll be secondary for the zone and being an ADS Primary for the