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February's Journal
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31/03/2003 - offline
[10:45] So I came in this morning and made a few temporary changes. They won't be permanent, I don't think. Couple of DVDs arrived, I really must stop going to without thinking about the consequences.

[11:20] It's very odd not having any of the usual communications methods I normally have at work. Feels like I've cut myself off quite substantially.

[11:40] Getting a fair number of accesses to the site, I'm sorry I've not said anything about this whole thing. I hope you come back next week.

[12:55] It's a lovely day outside. I think I'll go and have lunch.

[14:45] It's really marvellous outside. I spent a quiet hour or so just reading and eating my lunch. Managed to forget about everything but the book, just for a little while.

[16:50] I think I'll go home. May even walk. Such lovely weather, may sit on the back patio and read.

30/03/2003 - offline
[12:20] I have decided, as an experiment on the spur of the moment, to keep my journal off-line for a week or longer, depending on how I feel. I'll also be repointing the cameras for a time. I don't notice them any more, but in this situation it's all or nothing. I wonder a bit how many readers/watchers I may lose, how many people will email me and ask where I am. Currently I'm not sure whether I will reply until I publish these entries.

Right at the moment I'm on a train to London so I can go climbing. I guess this is one advantage of doing my journal off-line; I can add an entry any time I like, even on weekends.

Yesterday was good. My friend whom I haven't seen in over six years came to visit for the day. Turned up in the morning and we caught up on what'd happened in the inbetween time. After a time we decided to go into town, at which point I realised I didn't have my wallet. After a search of the house we headed into town to the pub I was at for lunch, no joy. We headed to work which was, of course, closed. I convinced security to come out and swipe me in (my card was in my wallet). Found the wallet in my office on the floor. I have no idea how it got there. All settled we went for some lunch in the sun, then shopping.

By four we just wanted to sit down, so we went to see The Core. It's not so bad as you might have imagined. Highly speculative, but a good way to spend two or so hours. Next to the cinema is an Italian restaurant so we heaed in there. Over food, wine and dessert we made great strides in rebuilding the friendship we both knew we had had before. It felt good to know things like that are possible...

Ever so slightly drunk we headed home and watched Lilo and Stitch on DVD. I have to admit it's really rather a good effort. I believe that if Disney can keep it up and inject that style of humour into future releases there may be hope for them yet.

Anyway, the clocks went forward this morning so we were both tired when we got up. They headed off to arrive with parents in time for a Mothering Sunday service at around 8:30 and dropped me at the outskirts of town. I ran back along deserted streets in the sun. I think I should begin running again. Maybe see if the iPod'll take it.

I seem to have lost a few friends. At present I don't know if it's a permanent state of affairs or not. In a way it's not up to me to decide. Circumstances are such that it's currently not my call. It's all changed so much with regard to how I'm treated. When you're not in the circle it can be very lonely.

[12:50] I wonder if the tone or content of what I write here will change, knowing that it doesn't go out on the web instantly. I imagine not because I think it's fairly likely I will publish it as it stands in the end.

[12:20] Been watching a pier in Brighton burn down this morning. The Internet is a tremendously powerful tool and really makes the world a much smaller place. It's a bit suspicious given that there was a big furore about it being a wildlife habitat for a large colony of starlings and there were some plans to have it rebuilt. There aren't many piers left in the UK. Losing another one is sad.

Thai for lunch today in about half an hour. Looking forward to it.

[12:40] This afternoon, among other things, I'll be working out why some of our machines haven't been getting up to date antivirus software and then thinking about Solaris and this dodgy network thing.

[17:00] In the end I've done very little. I blame Friday afternoon. All I need to do now is work out whether I go climbing or clean the house.

[14:00] Downloaded and currently applying the current recommended patch set from Sun. A couple of them don't seem to be getting applied but I'll read the logs before worrying overmuch. After that it's OpenSSL and OpenSSH and turning off the services which don't need to be there. Once I've done that I guess it's time to have a go at Oracle.

[14:30] Spent some of this morning booking tickets for Have I Got News For You recording sessions in may. Head over to Hat Trick to get some yourself.

[17:00] Solaris is such a mess. You know where you are with linux.

[12:20] Another nice day. We could be on for a drought except I think it's going to rain this weekend. I've organised an outdoor lunch for other sysadmins (good for us to see real daylight in the big blue room sometimes) from 12:45.

Oh, yes, I solved my Solaris networking problem. Turns out that just putting the hostname into /etc/hostname.elxl0 wasn't enough. Either the IP or the full DNS name is required. Oddly /etc/nodename was already there and populated with the correct information.

[16:45] In the name of practice and also space considerations I've replaced the hard drive in the Solaris machine with a larger one and am reinstalling. I've made a few other changes so we'll see how things go this time. Currently installing the 'bonus' CD so I can have something other than CDE to work with.

[08:35] It's a lovely sunny day outside. Hope I can meet up with some people to share it with.

[15:00] Lunch was good. It's good to know that my opinions are shared by others. Some progress was made nevertheless, which is promising. Contentment level currently greater than zero for once, which is nice. Climbing tonight will enable me to get some work done on the train down there and allow me to enjoy reading on the way back.

I gave blood yesterday because I realised that I couldn't do it next Monday, when I had planned to, due to time constraints. Nearly beat my record with a time of 7m 05s for the full donation. Had a quiet evening in as my regular Monday person is feeling a tad under the weather.

I think I'll revert to shorts again from tomorrow.

[16:50] Solaris 8 (x86) networking giving me problems.

[08:55] I witnessed an accident between car and motorbike this morning. Someone called an ambulance and I waited around until the police and the ambulance arrived. There were more than enough people instantly out of their cars who appeared to be better at first aid than I, so I didn't try to add myself to the crowd. In the end it was safer for other traffic and myself if I left the scene. I let the police know what I'd seen. I feel rather shaken.

[11:10] Just had to create another temporary user account here. We have five members of administrative staff now on long-term sick leave. Those remaining are beginning to feel rather stressed. It's rubbing off on everyone else.

[12:35] My Ghost Intel bootdisk saves the day again, for someone else.

[15:45] Just automated something else, which is nice. One small step at a time.

[11:10] Friday. Have a meeting this afternoon so I won't be around from 14:30 onwards until Monday. Hopefully there won't be any problems associated with it. Like the venue.

[12:30] Installing Solaris 8/x86 at the moment. Unfortunately in a effort to get a better machine to play with it on I've got one which Solaris doesn't seem to recognise the video or ethernet cards on. It's a Dell Optiplex GX110. Any opinions on how to get both working better would be nice. Currently doing a full + OEM install, just to see what I get. Oracle's next.

Of course, there's the fun of partitioning to have a good work through so I know what I'm doing with regard to things like 'overlap' and things like that. There are some oddnesses that're a little different to linux.

[14:10] Well, they've bought it.

[10:55] It's another nice day. I'm still waiting for Amazon to cancel my order for the Ipaqs. I don't particularly care, it was a bit of excitement for a few minutes. Anything to lighten the monotony of work. I've been stymied as to what I can do here at the moment due to certain people going away and leaving me with things to do their machines. I think I'll try and get on with learning something else.

A quote I found, by a Lt Col in the British army.

[15:25] Lunch was interesting. Meant to go out and have some relaxation in the sun, ended up inside getting steadily more worked up about things happening to other people. Now this afternoon it's too hot in here, I'm still wearing trousers rather than shorts and things are happening out of my control that I can't be a part of right now.

[09:20] A resolution.

Not that it'll last, but it's good to have for a time. I do it now in the hope of a happier time later.

[10:25] It's another wonderful sunny day outside.

[11:30] So I went and ordered one each of the Amazon Ipaqs. I think I was one of the first ten, given that the vector for the meme was the list I'm part of. I really don't think anyone'll get them at the price they wanted, but it's a laugh, innit?

[14:40] It really is very nice outside. I would have liked to have taken some of my friends out for a walk, but everyone I could have asked was busy.

[16:50] News comes my way. I thought I was prepared for it. Perhaps I was. Still had that cold wash feeling across my face. I'm sure like everything else it'll become something I either don't think about or just accept.

It is an absolutely lovely day to view from my window.

One might go so far as to say stunning.

[13:30] I've been watching web footage of the debate in the Commons this morning and feeling very angry with the government of this country. I've been talking to people and generally getting worked up. I wanted to talk to one or two people specifically, but can't. I feel quite worked up about all of this.

[10:00] Saw Equilibrium last night. A very fun film in places. Shades of Matrix meets Minority Report with a nod to Brave New World, 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Rather good, tiny bit slow in places, but to be expected. Friday I went climbing and had a good time with some rather mad people I know from there. Tried to sleep in on Saturday morning and then headed over to see some science day stuff at the local university. Among the fun things on offer were a group called Urban Strawberry who make some rather good music on those big blue plastic chemical barrels and long pipes. I was thinking I'd like some other people to hear it and I didn't have a tape recorder on hand, until I remembered my Tungsten. In the end I narrowed my efforts down to two samples which I am providing here as exhibit 1 and exhibit 2.

I spent most of Sunday working on a set of rules for the MUD I frequent, but it looks as though much of my work is going to be in vain unless something big happens soon.

[10:05] We're going to do the Ghosting early as there's no-one in the room where the machines are, at the moment.

[10:36] One set done, set two now starting.

[10:55] And all done. All we have to do now is wait and see if any problems emerge this time.

[16:40] Had a request to do some T-shirt designs against the 'war' which is about to begin in Iraq. Done one, wondering what people think.

[17:55] Time to go home. Comments will be read in the morning.

[14:15] Friday.

[15:00] I couldn't think of anything to say.

[15:05] O.K., so it's Friday. End of another week. The sun is shining, I've had a nice lunch and I'm going climbing this evening and may have some company. All in in all things aren't absolutely abysmal. Just not so great. Time to build on what is good and simply leave what I don't know for the moment. I hope for a good future, but I can leave it alone for now.

Today I have mostly been installing Mozilla 1.3, checking on stuff that needed checking and dealing with one hundred and one small thing that stop you from getting on with a project.

The weather is nice. I feel like going out and experiencing it.

[15:55] In fact, here I go, back later.

[10:40] This morning I'm keeping things running generally. At 11:45 I'm off to a seminar for the rest of the day. Have been showing the PFY my Tungsten, she is thinking of getting one. Pointed out some imaginative things I hadn't thought of yet.

[10:55] There's some fun science things going on over the next two Saturdays and the days in between. I can't make the stuff during the day, but there's a few things on in the evening which I might like to pop along to. Hopefully I can grab a few people to come with me so if there's anything interesting we can chat about it afterwards.

[11:35] Just posited the possibility of a room move to the PFY. There are a few moves in the offing at the moment and I think we could do with the space. I imagine that things will get a bit heated if it goes ahead (room allocations are a spikey topic here) but I think it might work. Anyway, closing down for the seminar this afternoon.

[16:15] Seminar so boring and dry that I had to leave and come back to work. Go figure.

[11:55] Climbing turned out to be fun as not only did one of my friends turn up but two people I'd met previously also came along and I spent the evening teaching them some of the routes and general skills. I love teaching, it's something I think I'm rather good at. Got home knackered though. Still annoyed with AvantGo which refuses to sync sometimes. It's probably the sites it's getting the information from.

The PFY deleted something rather important a few minutes ago. And there was no backup. I think she's learnt her lesson the hard way, unfortunately. I believe it'll probably not happen again.

I miss one of my friends.

Not sure what's happening this evening. I'm going to wait and see if someone suggests something. I bought a book on cognitive behavioural therapy which is quite an interesting read. I'm hoping to apply it where needed.

[12:15] I'm getting back into reading again, slowly. Find it hard to do at home at present, but I'm sure that'll change.

[15:50] Have taken the image and stuck it on the server. I'm pretty sure it's as solid as it possibly can be, so unless someone tickles something I've been unable to find, I think it's going to be better this time.

[16:20] Did I mention that I'm still going to America in May? I was going for a Shuttle launch, but that seems to be on hiatus for the moment, obviously. I booked the time, I'm still going to go. That's just after the half-way point in May, anyway. Maybe it'll be a turn-around point for me, but I doubt it. I don't think there's going to be a point at which things become fine, I think it's going to be a gradual process. I just hope I don't lose it all, like I feel I already have.

[10:30] Climbing, on my own, this evening.

I like my new Palm case, only even with this one you can't hotsync with it in the case. I don't really mind as the case colour-matches the Tungsten perfectly and it's metal. I love metal kit.

I spent yesterday afternoon doing a Kofi Annan routine with the administration of the MUD I use ( which all seemed to work out in the end. Which was nice. Someone came over last night for a curry and a chat and Enterprise watching, which was also pretty cool of them.

[12:05] NT image still seems stable. I'm trying to work out what I can do to it to make it die. Very odd. I'm beginning to really blame the order in which I added things to it last time. Have to say this is rather annoying.

[11:15] The karting didn't happen. Aside from the fact that in the end there were only four of us (everyone else were unable to come for some reason) we got there later than I'd planned and there was no room for us. Effort for nothing. Ah well, we went to the pub and played pool. Which was cool. I wandered around town for a bit and then went home.

In the evening I was treated to a gorgrous steak and chips meal. Wasn't expecting that.

Sunday I actually didn't do anything all day until the evening when I went to the cinema with a friend.

Nothing much happening today. My new Tungsten-T case arrived (lovely aluminium design) as well as my Due South Season 1 box set. 17 hours of my life, filled. Marvellous.

[16:05] So I've redone the NT image and slapped all the hotfixes back on in stages, notably doing all the software upgrades before doing the hotfixes, just in case it was something like EndNote that caused the problem. Now I get to leave the machine to stew in its own juices and be fiddled with for a while before I do anything with it.

[14:20] Got vaguely drunk last night. Still got in stupidly early this morning. Today I've done very little but I had an interesting lunch learning about other friends' problems. I'll be doing some NT image fiddling this afternoon and then working out whether I go climbing this evening or wait for a friend to come and visit. Tomorrow a few of us are going karting again. Initially a large crowd of us were going to go but one by one people have dropped out, so I don't know how many people are coming now. With luck there'll be enough to make it a whole bunch of fun. We'll see.

[14:46] It's "your solutions here" time on BOFHcam and first up it's Koos with:
A tip for you and your readers:

For your better 'BOFH magic' image: when an HP 2100* gives you a '49.C042' error, walk up to it, get the cpu module out, reseat the memory modules and put the cpu module back in.

Presto, error has disappeared.

(Chanting Gregorian songs and wearing a black robe optional)

The error code can be found in HP manuals (on-line and on paper) but just knowing the error, believing the description (Memory modules having loose contacts) and fixing it like 49.C042 is a perfectly normal error made my day today.
So there you go.

[12:00] Saw Michael Frayn's 'Cophenhagen' last night. A very good play. The actors were excellent. I won't launch into a discussion of it here. If anyone has seen it then I'll happily get into something via email. I recommend you do go to see it, if you haven't.

Further mistake made, actually thought for once that it wouldn't be. Resolution even stronger, hurt at situation still almost as strong.

Trying to upgrade the old NT image today as well as one of the remaining first round W2K upgrades.

[14:30] And there we go. That's it, it's gone. Nothing to do but deal. Hope I have something good to tell you in mid-May. Probably not until I come back from America.

[08:55] Came in early this morning. Not quite sure why. Will be removing one of the machines from downstairs to begin redoing the image which failed (three more machines had the BSoD when I got in this morning, it's embarassing). Going to see a play this evening.

[15:25] Reghosting at the moment. Not going to say any more until it's all done as I don't want to jinx it. Feeling very odd at the moment due to doing various things that I don't like doing.

[17:00] Ghosting seemed to go O.K. so the machines are running an old-but-stable image now. I start work on redoing the new one again tomorrow. I may just install the new software and then take a look at which hotfixes are really necessary.

[12:00] Didn't go climbing last night, but am this evening. In the end it just seemed like too much hard work. Went round to a friends' house, had a nice korma and just relaxed in the same city as I live in for the first time in too long. Very pleasant and in the end I just went home. Admittedly I then spent far too long getting my Tungsten updated with all manner of stuff like Acrobat Reader, Documents to Go and AvantGo (bloody thing doesn't seem to update very well, at least the channels I have), but that's beside the point.

A nod to Brad who emailed me recently, can't see what's so exciting myself, but maybe I can stick "Caution: may be habit-forming" somewhere. I wonder sometimes why over one hundred of you come and read this stuff every day, I mean why?

Y'see I was having a discussion with people over the weekend about LiveJournals and the like. I didn't mention that I have something equivalent here, but I think it was already known. Why do people feel the need to stick stuff up on the web. Why do some of them (and I'm just as 'guilty' here) feel the need to put up their woes and unhappiness; their personal problems, for someone, anyone else to read? I don't really understand it myself. For a long while I could claim I was parodying Jennifer Ringley and her journal. But that only washes for so long. This thing's been going over three years now, and I still try to put something down every working day. I tell you about my weekends sometimes. While I had a girlfriend I sometimes told you what we'd done together (no names, no real details of course), I tell you about things I'm doing at work. Sometimes that information has technical content, but not always. In the last year I told anyone who would listen or who loaded my journal that I was looking forward to buying a house and then that I had lost pretty much everything that was important to me. I went on at length and what I said was deeply personal and probably shouldn't have gone up. Why?

I'm not quite sure. I think if I'm honest I like to be paid attention. I enjoy it when people listen to me. Rather than actively go out and tell people that I'm sad/happy/neutral/bored/busy/angry I find I can just scribble it down here and then no-one is required to know. Like I said to the person in the pub at the weekend, "You don't have to load the page if you don't want to read it." I spent too long telling people exactly how I felt, I don't tend to do that any more even though it sometimes hurts just as much as it did that day. Instead I limit it to here, and then heavily censor myself. Despite how I feel, it is time to shut up.

I can look at the logs and see how many people are visiting, but I don't tend to nowadays, not sure why. I don't even really read what I've written, never did. Only occasionally will I look back (find typos) and see what happened a year ago or more. I think it's more cathartic more than anything else. But if so, why don't I just stick it in a book, or a file that's just on a computer somewhere?

I think the answer is a mixture of things including the fact that many of you actually enjoy reading what I write and (in the case of my outbursts in August 2002) a large number of you contacted me to offer thanks for help it'd given them. I won't claim that end justified the means, but that, the connections I've made, the people I've met and the fact that writing this stuff gives me something to do and You The Reader something to read is, I think, enough for the time being. That and the attention-seeking element.

Things continue, life isn't good, but I have my health and on some level I have a friend rather than not. So that's good.

[17:25] Fairly productive afternoon. Tomorrow we Ghost that set of machines with the dodgy installation back to something a bit more stable while we take a look at what went wrong. Personally I'm blaming either hotfixes, or Endnote.

[12:10] And another month begins. There's stuff to be done and thoughts not to think. So let's get on with it. Had a pretty cool weekend in the Netherlands as it goes. Train to Gatwick on Friday (where I gave in and bought a much-reduced-in-price Tungsten), plane to Schiphol (fifteen minutes early, so a half-hour flight), train to Leiden and bus to friend's house. All good, and all done on public transport. Spoke to a very nice young lady on the plane over who confessed to being a non-fan of Bill Gates and asked me if I knew of any alternative to Windows. She got five minutes on Linus' kernel, Linux and OpenOffice. She also took my email address. With luck she's well into getting her Crawley college sysadmins into installing RedHat on her machine. Or I've just caused a whole lot of problems for someone.

Anyway. Friday I ended up watching "It! The Terror from Beyond Space". It's a marvellous film. Recommended. Saturday we wandered over to Delft to see some other friends and wandered around looking at things, going up church towers and inside to look at stained-glass windows and such. There was food somewhere in the day, as well.

Towards the end of the day we took a train to Leiden and (don't laugh) a British pub. Loads of other people arrived and food and drink was had by all. In the end we all toddled off home for some sleep.

Sunday was just as relaxing with people coming over and some DVD-watching done. Eventually we roused ourselves and headed into Leiden for some pancakes. Those eaten we wandered around Leiden some more, looked at a windmill and then began to split up to head home.

The plane back from Schiphol was a little late, but we still managed to land only five minutes late. Running through the airport I got the next train to Kings Cross and met up with a nice friend who'd thoughtfully waited for me there.

[15:25] Damnit. The NT image I rolled out flawlessly last week appears to have a flaw in it. A Rather Large one. One that causes a BSoD every so often. As a result I'm going to have to redo the image (putting the old one back for the moment) and weather the complaints from the users. Gah.

[17:30] Flights booked for June trip to Netherlands. Nice and cheap again. I can't go for as long as I like (to see a friend's Doctoral Defence) but at least I get to be there until Monday due to no flights on Sunday.