[10:50] Last night was marvellous. Cycled home in an absolute blizzard of snow
in the dark. Frankly I wasn't expecting anyone to turn up but two people did
as I was making a snowball about a meter across. We ate Chinese, watched The
Bourne Identity and then Scrubs. The weather closed in so as one person left
to go and do his tax return the other took the spare bedroom and some hot
chocolate and stayed the night.
I took my time cycling in this morning as the roads were treacherous. The
whole population of the city seems to have become photographers but I still
managed to get some shots I think others might have missed. I even got a
picture of me writing my name in the snow.
As things stand I'm going to go for a Thai at lunch and then head off for the
afternoon; don't want to be caught away from home if things turn bad again,
especially on a Friday. Might go to the cinema. As it is there's only me and
the Administrative Officer in today.
Did I mention that he's leaving in May (beginning of). I hope I have a new job
by then or am on my way to getting one. Not sure I want another new boss. So
anyway, I'm off to change the doors to lock at 16:00 today, and then work out
if there's anything I can usefully do today. I doubt it.
[11:10] Actually, I think I'll be leaving earlier than I thought. There are
large chunks of ice leaving the building at the top and dropping straight onto
*crunch* lower parts of the building (like my skylights). It's very
disconcerting and I'd rather not be here in case a heavy chunk breaks through.
[12:55] Snow! Lots of snow. Marvellous. I'm going cycling in it for lunch.
[14:15] Bracing, and so great. I was a cycling snowman by the time I got to
my lunching place. Met up with a few other IT people and had an enjoyable time
watching other people battling through the snow. My bike was encrusted during
the time I was eating and cycling back was even better as there was a real
blizzard going on. Excellent.
[17:15] It's not completely boring, but working through these machines,
installing Windows 2000 again and again is kind of repetitious. I think it's
almost time to go home. There is something vaguely pleasant about removing
NT 4 (even though it's stood me in good stead for years) and installing a
reasonably up-to-date operating system that actually supports USB and slightly
more modern hardware. It's just a shame it's even more bloated in places.
[10:50] It never rains, but it pours. And I'm actually also talking about the
weather. Bloody miserable outside today. Not stunning at all. I wouldn't say
things were much better inside either. Things change, and they change in ways
you never thought and hoped they would. But there's only the now and
the to be to work with. More and more the past is another country
that it's not worth visiting if I'm going to go there on my own. It's hard to
think about what has been if there's no-one to smile about it with.
I think it's much more likely than not that in a while things are going to get
better than worse, but I think there's a good few new and painful experiences
coming and everything's different now. I don't particularly like what life is.
It's nothing I would have chosen, but it's the way things are. So long
as it's not just me making the effort to keep things good, I think things may
eventually work out.
[11:10] Damn. I've just heard that a good friend's mother passed away this
Sunday. He doesn't read the Journal, and I doubt it's something we'll ever
mention it in conversation so I guess this is my only chance to offer my
[11:50] One machine done today (would have been done yesterday, but I had to
re-do the image for that type of machine), next one on the mutating block.
[15:40] Machine two of the day done, and ancilliary software also slapped on. I
love standard images. They make things so much easier. As does centralised
profiles and server-based filestores. Slowly but surely this place is becoming
just a little more sane.
[16:15] Can anyone tell me when they last had some kind of communication with
anyone at Copyleft, please?
[18:45] As if in answer to my plea, Copyleft have responded. I'm very happy to
state that Copyleft are still running. Those of you in the US are still welcome
to order from them and your orders will be honoured. Go for it.
[11:10] Another day plods on. I've got some machines lined up for doing things
to today, but nothing spectacular. I need something else happening to keep me
from dying of boredom.
I miss having someone to always chat to and share stuff with.
With luck there'll be some more climbing this evening (always good), and I'm
sure I'll come up with something else to do as and when. I must resist watching
my recently arrived Family Guy Season 2 DVDs at work.
[11:00] So the weekend, yeah? Rather good.
On Friday I went climbing to loosen up some of the tension and stress I've been
feeling recently. Haven't really got any other outlet at the moment. So I got
there and started climbing on the boulder wall at the back... and every climb I
did came off, first time. It was amazing; I don't think I climbed anything
under a 5B all evening. Best set of routes ever. Unfortunately I overstretched
myself a few times and ended up locking my right calf and wrenching the entire
right side of my neck, but it was a great evening.
Rather than go home I wandered over to Holborn by Tube and spend the remainder
of the evening with friends in a pub before kipping at their house for the
night. We intended to head back to my place in the morning to pick up a monitor
and have some fun in town... Only SQL Slammer hit in the morning. By ten I'd
joined my friend in his workplace and by early afternoon we were in a co-lo
facility using ping and ARP tables to locate noisy Windows boxen. I had the
distinct pleasure in removing connectivity from a good few myself.
By the time that was over it was getting towards evening so we headed for my
place with back-to-back I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue on the iPod providing the
soundtrack to a nice drive. We got a Chinese, watched some DVDs and generally
took the load off after a busy day.
Everyone slept late on Sunday before we drove back to London where I was dropped
off back at the Castle again. I took it a bit easier this time around and spent
some time talking to people. In the end I headed home and caught a late-running
train which got me in roughly the same time as a friend. We wandered home, had
some food and she headed home. All in all a fairly fun weekend.
This morning's consisted of winnowing down Slammer information to something I
can actually use (I only have SQL 7's MSDE 1.0 here), fixing some vague errors
which don't appear to want to appear when you need them and being about to place
some orders for printers and mice and such.
[15:10] Oddly, as Slammer didn't affect MS SQL 7/MSDE 1.0, Central have decided
not to act upon information I've sent them which may prevent any
further network-based attacks against servers running either the above or
MS SQL 2000/MSDE 2000. I wonder why.
I've been moving people over to the webmail service slowly but surely here. I
think it's really rather impressive (HTTPS based) and makes my job a hell of a
lot easier for all kinds of reasons. As it is I've got to get on with
converting more machines to Windows 2000 today and for the rest of this week.
[17:05] A little more clarification on the whole Central thing. They don't want
to use my advice at present (if at all) because frankly official policy and the
different levels of sysadmin out there would make it rather difficult to
construct some kind of coherent coverage thingy. Especially when anything put
down on the web site is What You Should Do and anything going wrong will result
in their heads. I can live with that. Once I have the time I'll construct my
own test bed and do the stuff myself.
[11:15] Again with the Friday. Having some people to stay over on Saturday,
kind of a return visit for last weekend. They're picking up a monitor, we're
going shopping. That kind of thing. I had been planning to go away for the
weekend, but had to cancel that. This makes up for it. Will be climbing this
evening and on Sunday afternoon, hopefully make it nice and early so I get home
at a nice sane time.
[15:40] Hmm, just had some really nasty shooting pains in my left forearm. It
better not be anything serious or I'm going to be very angry. I've stopped all
typing with it for the rest of the day. Saw friend off for the weekend at the
station and walked back to work. Reinstalled a machine which was misbehaving;
I still love Ghost an awful lot. As it is I've going to do the same thing again
to two other machines on Monday.
As other people have said that climbing's good for the arms I'm going to go this
evening. If nothing else it fills up some time, which is always good. Plus it
gives me some required reading time on the trains there and back.
[12:10] Life continues to continue with me being dragged along behind. I'm
pretty sure I'm getting the hang of it sometimes, then something silly happens.
I understand why things happen, but I'm not pleased with the reasons. Or the
On the up side I've booked my flight to Orlando to see the Shuttle launch in
May this year. Got the cheapest flight I could and am heading out on 19 May and
back on 26 May. Meeting up with an ex-pat friend out there and hoping to have
a damned good time for a week.
[12:30] Been applying hotfixes to servers this morning, and probably to
workstations this afternoon. Today is Thursday so it's Thursday evening DVDs
again. Must send the email out.
[16:00] I've spent a large chunk of this afternoon having reasoned debates with
people over the reasons for and potentiality of a war in Iraq. Stimulating
[17:40] I've just ordered a Powerball.
Just for a laugh.
[11:15] Crazy, crazy mixed up kid. That's me. So wrong.
Went climbing last night to sort my head out. By 10:00 this morning I was back
to square one. Go figure. Still, at least I'm not ill any more. The main
web server is making odd noises so I've got to schedule some down-time to work
out which bit of it is about to go crunch. I hope it's only a fan.
I'm finding it hard to get stuff done again. Had this before, but things are
harder nowadays. Damn, forgot this evening's Stargate DVD. Have to go via my
[09:45] So the weekend was pretty great. Or at least Saturday was. I got up
raring to go and then waited around until my travel partner dragged themselves
out of bed. We headed into London and wandered over to Bodyworlds on Brick Lane
where a short queue got us inside within half an hour. I have to say that it's
really not gruesome at all, and the only things which really gave me pause were
some of the foetuses which had defects. It was educational and very
Once we'd finished there we took a tube ride over to Marble Arch for pizza
before meeting up with a few others to see the Star Trek Adventure. Totally
cheesy, and completely commercialised but a lot of fun. That took a few hours.
Last but not least two of us headed for the Green Man near Portland Street to
meet up with friends from all over the place and for me to do a few seconds
networking with some LLUG people who were having a meet upstairs.
All Saturday I'd not been feeling too hot (put it down to nerves), but by the
evening (staying at someone's house in London for the evening) I was a wreck.
I didn't get a minute's sleep and in the end left the house around 08:30 in the
morning before anyone else had stired.
Back home I actually felt so cold that I put the heating on and three layers and
just sat with a warm laptop on my knees watching television. As I got steadily
worse I asked someone to come over to a) drop off some supplies and, b) give me
some company. I want to really thank them for taking the time and effort to
make the journey and give me the support I needed when, frankly, I felt like
death. It's hard not to like someone who does that a lot.
Eventually they headed off and I went to bed. Oddly I slept really easily and
well and woke on Monday feeling... not well, but a hell of a lot better. I
wasn't good enough to go into work so I spent the morning doing stuff before
heading over to someone else's place to stop from feeling the effects of
cabin-fever. Left their place around 22:30 and came home.
This morning I've come in to work mostly because I need to get some things done
and also because if I stay home I'll feel lonely and want to visit someone, and
I think I've done enough of that for the moment. If they want to see me, they
[16:00] I hate Windows, and specifically hotfix Q329170 for Windows 2000. I
should never have gotten into this today, but I was damned if someone was going
to go without a laptop and start causing my assistant strife tomorrow. No
fecking way. Not this time. I've stuck in a work-around which offends my
sensibilities, but frankly at the moment I don't really care. Once I've ghosted
this incarnation to the server I'm going to individualise this bastard laptop
and get the hell out. I'm going to go to a bookshop on my way home and buy a
present and then see what the evening brings.
[21/01/03 - 09:30] Was ill Sunday and Monday, more in the next entry.
[11:15] So I came off my bike this morning. It's a corner I've done hundreds
of times in all kinds of weather, only this time it was either a bit greasier
than normal, or my tyres need cleaning, or something. Either way I decked out
most supremely (no-one came to see if I was O.K.), tore a smallish hole in my
coat, bent my glasses and got a few cuts and grazes (see the BOFHcam for the
next few days). I hobbled in to town to get the glasses bent back into shape
and then headed in to work. Everything aches, but I don't have someone to
soothe my fevered brow, feed me grapes or work out what the ringing in my ears
is all about, so I may as well just keep on trucking. Climbing tonight, which
should take my mind off things.
Thursday last night was good. Today I try to upgrade the Apple eMac we were
fiddling with yesterday. More DVDs arrived today: The Bourne Identity, The
Dish and a few others. Will be hoping to watch TBI as soon as possible, maybe
this evening when I get home from climbing.
[12:20] I've just noticed there's a new version of WinSCP
available. This is the best Windows SCP client available at the moment, in my
opinion. Use it, spread it around, send loads of constructive comments to my
[15:15] My face aches.
[18:25] Going home. Should have gone earlier.
[12:30] Installed two machines this morning, solved what turned out to be a typo
error which was causing all manner of problems in the ADS and am just about to
start on a Windows 98 laptop which is going to become a spangly new Windows
2000 laptop before too long. Productive morning. Shame the DVD I wanted hasn't
Nearly lunch time.
[17:10] Had a nice lunch, but ended up spending a long time trying to get the
new eMac to boot and install MacOS 9. It's installed now and all that's
required is to upgrade the software, install a decent email client and some kind
of SSH client. As it is it's Thursday and I need to go home and get ready for
[11:30] Not much happening this morning. Got a few machines lined up for
reinstallation, having to wait on things other people are doing for the moment.
Letter through the door this morning mentioned that the TV License people are
going to be wandering through my neighbourhood "soon". I took the opportunity
to visit their web site and get my license moved from the old place to the new
Have someone coming in tomorrow afternoon to help me install MacOS 9.2.2 onto a
new eMac. Yes, I know I should be installing OSX but the user doesn't want it
and frankly I don't know enough to look after an OSX box while doing the other
stuff that needs doing here, right now.
[12:15] Have asked for an application form for a Unix sysadmin post. I'm fairly
sure I won't even be shortlisted, and it's with people I know, which'll be hard
to take. But if they don't think I can do the job then at least I'll know I was
turned down by people who know my skillset, rather than by people who thought I
didn't perform well at interview.
[15:15] Installation time. If they all go like this I should be able to leave
on time and get round to my friends' for Stargate SG-1 this evening.
[17:55] First install came off without a hitch. Just got to install the mail
[18:15] Damnit, why isn't Mulberry registering stuff? Home, I think.
[11:45] Another day, another few machines to install. I've finally cracked why
some of my linux boxes weren't letting people log in via password. While many
of them have OpenSSH installed via RPM, the two which are playing up (found a
second one yesterday, had been using keys previously) were manually installed.
I think I forgot the --with-pam option the last time I upgraded. Oops.
[12:55] Hopefully going to lunch soon, if the person I'm meeting wakes up. Also
hoping to go climbing (not long distance) this evening.
[15:15] Just playing my new CD purchases from the weekend. The first one's only
a set of Mozart's better pieces (nothing Great Work-like) but some nice stuff
[12:00] Right then, back in work. I've decorated my best pair of jeans with
laserjet toner this morning, not good. Other than that I've been doing some
quotation hunting for the 2004 Discworld Convention T-shirt runs. Hopefully
things should come back by close of play today.
I've moved a few machines this morning, tried to fix a PC or two and caught up
on all kinds of things (like invoices for stuff we haven't had done). Tonight
I'm off to do a bit of climbing (again, can't get enough).
[12:35] Bought a whole load of stuff in the January sales for some reason. Had
a really excellent day yesterday, for all kinds of reasons. Ended up trying a
T-shirt that was far too small but didn't half look bad on me. I do
like climbing, does wonders for the body. Got some other clothing including a
great fleece jumper which is marvellous and some CDs (already ripped).
Ordered my new futon today. Delivery date is apparently 2-3 weeks unfortunately
but I don't really mind. All I have to think about is whether the landlady will
mind removing the 'sofa' I have at the moment to make room for it. I can't
believe I'm buying furniture.
[15:30] Day 5, the last day. Lots of stuff on SSH, NFS and the automounter
today. Oh, the dangers of extra spaces in /etc/exports, what fun. It's been a
good week, I've upgraded my knowledge for free and had a nice break from such
things as dying printers, user requests for more printing quota and Windows in
general. Back to the grindstone on Monday.
For the moment though I'm going to enjoy the course and then climbing this
evening. I would go to the pub, but climbing'll be a bit more active after
sitting at a desk all day.
[15:40] Day 4 of the course. Dump and restore, /etc/fstab and assorted other
gubbins including services, cron and kernel updates via rpm. All very exciting.
The perils of ext3 labels was explained to me for the first time and the ease
of moving partitons about the place. Now we're onto inodes.
[16:45] Hmmm, annoying exercise with fsck. The only winning move is not to
play (use the -y flag). Kind of thrown in and expected to not understand but
don't worry about it. Kind of frustrating.
[14:30] Sysadmin course, day 3. This morning was the package management
system and then a refresher on basic network concepts. Just before lunch
there was a rather fiendish exercise involving 'dig' the +norecursive flag and
trying to find the PTR record for a random machine on the Internet give it's
in-addr.arpa address. Luckily I managed to get my head around doing my own
recursive lookups and had the thing done in about five minutes. Makes your
brain work, though.
As I said last night, climbing was good, only I think I'm beginning to
damage my right knee. We'll see what happens on Friday when I go again.
Here's a little
something my friend Koos pointed out to me this morning. I've
mirrored it here so his server doesn't get hammered.
[14:00] Day 2 on the course. This morning has been rather packed, with lots of
information on the linux boot sequence (including grub and lilo), the run levels
and rc scripts. I've spent a lot of the time when I knew what was being
explained trying to work on Fotopic which
is something you should all be using. Especially if you have digital cameras.
Climbing this evening. Should be cool.
[23:40] And indeed, climbing was cool. Fell asleep on the train home, though.
[13:55] So I'm on the first day of the linux admin course. We're doing
installations at the moment and for some reason the Ultra5 can't deal with
forty simultanious NFS connections all trying to slurp down a RH8.0 install.
As a result we've had to stagger the installs (I was in the first batch) and
do lunch over the course of two hours. It's not been too bad. I like the
people doing the course (they're from Central) and the whole thing's rather
relaxed. I've actually been on the course before (the very first time it was
run) so a lot of this stuff's old hat. Still, it's good to keep up to date.
I went climbing again this Sunday gone and am getting rather frustrated that
there's no-one else around at the moment to go climbing with. I don't
like just doing bouldering (as much as it improves my technique) I need someone
to belay me. I think I've gotten someone to come with me tomorrow evening,
which is helpful, will let you know how it goes.
As things stand at the moment I've changed to a virtual console during the
installer sequence and chrooted to the installer image so I can use ssh to
update the journal for all you lucky people. It looks like the server's
starting to respond again so I better get back to it...
[16:40] And here I am now in full-on GUI mode. I have to say I'm very
impressed with the font smoothing you get nowadays. Gnome seems to have done
some very nice things with fonts (as has KDE) and even takes into account the
fact that some people have LCD screens. Funnily enough the machines we're all on here are Pentium 4 2GHz machines with Matrox G550 cards and 17" Iiyama
LCD monitors. It makes for a rather nice user experience.
[11:30] Got a list of things to do today. Top of this list is why the hell one
of the .msp files for Office 2000 Service Pack 3 won't apply to the
administrative install I have here. It's... most vexing. Other than that
there's the various problems with Mac OS 10 and 9 I need to sort out, email to
set up for people before 13:00 and swipe cards to activate.
[16:55] Burning CDs take forever when the device keeps defaulting to x2 speed.
That sucks. I really should have gone home by now, but frankly there's nothing
to do there but watch telly, so I'll stay here and do something useful.
[10:00] Welcome to 2003. I'm in work, are you?
[11:25] There's no-one else here today. A couple of staff, sure, but not really
anyone at all. It was absolutely pissing it down this morning.
[11:55] Just remembered that I'm on a sysadmin course for the whole of next
week. With luck I should be able to do jounal updates from the course. I don't
recall whether they kill external access or not. I'm sure I can find somewhere
to get an SSH session from though, at some point.