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March's Journal
May's Journal

[11:30] Bloody Dell. Got around to looking for the RAID enabler kit for the PowerEdge 2500 we have here and ran Parts. Apparently they don't do the thing any more and rather than paying about £150 for a small kit I'll need to pay about £650-odd for a whole new RAID subsystem. Bollocks to that.

I went searching on Dell's DellTalk forum and found a recent (February) reference to the part number on the US site. For information it's 340-3550 and until I hear otherwise from Dell I'm going to be asking for one to be shipped over from the US if neccessary.

[16:40] I've taken the first Ghost image of the last cluster of machines to be Ghosted from NT4 to W2K. It used the Ghost virtual partition thing that I haven't seen in action before but looks kind of useful. Not sure how that's going to pan out when it comes to deployment. Anyway, I've got lots to think about with regard to Default User (Network) profiles, printers and GPOs. With luck the PFY will do the user administration stuff and leave me to do the other things.

There's a good offer coming up for new machines from Dell which we may take advantage of in a while, have to look at that next week. For the moment I'm off for a long weekend (bank holiday on Monday) so I'll be meeting Elaine in a few hours and then trying to forget about work for a few days.

[10:55] You'll be pleased to know I both did some shopping, had a decent dinner and cleared all the washing up. Oddly though I woke up at around 05:00 and could only doze for the rest of the time I was in bed. Still, I had two ideas which might make the moving of the Ghost server we have from one machine to another less traumatic.

[12:25] Just had a user come in with a laptop which needed MS Office installing to find that it needed loads doing to it. I was a bit loathe to stick it on the network but found it has ZoneAlarm Pro so was fairly sure it was OK. An hour of Office install, patching, Norton suite patching (virus definitions last updated in August of 2003) and Windows XP patching has left it in a slightly saner state, but it still takes an age to start up once in Windows.

[15:50] A badly-worded email from Central had me in a fluster for a few minutes just now. Seems a machine inside the network has had its MS-SQL server compromised and they were looking for other instances and one of my machines (the only one which runs MS-SQL, for ePO purposes) was in there. For a second it looked like my machine was compromised but I've verified that not only am I up to date with patches, I'm also uncompromised (touch wood).

[09:10] Right, so the machines downstairs are hopefully obeying the Power Management settings they should be and the SCP has started and is currently 30% done. I've been in too long already.

I went to London to climb last night. My hands now ache, but through dint of starting to climb a lot more the rest of my body is now a lot happier. By the time Elaine and I go on the weekend I should be starting on this year's drive to improve myself a bit. If nothing else I can lose the little bit of excess I have and generally feel a bit fitter.

[11:20] Online shared calendar software is annoying. If nothing else because I can't really justify a linux box with Apache just to run something like Chronos. I think we're going to have to go with Meeting Maker as I think I mentioned a few months ago. We've played with it before but now I think it's time to really make the effort and get something sorted.

[11:50] I have to wait for all the Ghost images to copy off one of the servers before I can reboot it to clean it up from the mess that MM just made of it. Well, it was my mistake but the instructions were a bit odd and I'd rather start from scratch. Reminds me, I should go and pick up my printouts.

[17:15] Right, a fairly productive afternoon so I'm off home to realise I don't have anything to eat in the house and I've got tons of washing up to do.

[10:50] So here I am, ready to sent 1.5GB of FileMaker Pro database to somewhere else in the UK and I've managed to convince them to use SSH protocols to get it done (although it looks like they're already pretty security-orientated already, to be honest) and I can't start a shell at the far end. Never mind the fact they block ICMP at their border router for all their machines, making diagnosis difficult, but I think they've allocated me a bad shell in an effort to restrict my access to the machine at the far end. If I'm right then I'm trying to issue commands to /bin/false, which isn't going to work.

[12:30] Whoever decided that Windows 2000's power management settings were per user per machine needs to be shot, twice, in the hands and never allowed to even dictate code to someone else, ever again. Or policy. I'm off to earn a bit of money in a psychology experiement. Back at 14:00.

[14:40] Nice easy £7 made looking at weird pictures for twenty minutes or so. Still no further with this power management thing. I think we're going to have to come in early one morning, make the restricted user a domain admin, get the stuff done and then change them back again. We'll then include the fix in the next image.

[15:10] Turns out I was given a test user account and it's got no home directory. This is being footled now and I'll get an email telling me it's all go shortly.

[16:45] Or in fact, tomorrow. In other news it turns out one of our people has RSI and has been on a Dragon NaturallySpeaking course. Great, wonderful. Only the course admin has told them that they need a P4 3.0GHz machine with a gig of RAM to run the as-yet unpurchased software on. Somehow, I think not. I think I'll go climbing.

[11:35] An OK weekend as far as it went. No Elaine so not as good as it could have been. I was up at 07:00 on Saturday morning to get over to Bristol for a Discworld committee meeting. That went OK and I was back home by about 20:30. Pretty much the whole day gone, really. Sunday I was determined to get something done about my degrading fitness so I was up and about nice and early and on the train to London for some climbing by about 11:00. I felt quite embarassed by how much skill and strength I've lost on the Wall to be honest. Although I was there for about three hours I was complete pooped by the end of it and only climbing the occassional 5B. This isn't great. I expect to return there a lot more in the coming months and should be back up to regular 5Cs in a few weeks. My hands should start toughening up a bit again soon too.

This morning I really wasn't looking forward to. A meeting at 09:30 on the progress of the computer office on projects when I was on the course last week gave me no time to really prepare for it. Still, it seemed to come off alright so I think I handled it quite well. At present I need to roll out a trial of Meeting Maker before the end of May as well as do some strategic planning. It's a wonderful day outside and I've found I can take next Monday off (bank holiday). Hurrah for three day weekends with Elaine.

[14:45] It's blazingly hot here and I've not been outside for lunch. There were plenty of left-over sandwiches from meetings though, so I've eaten. I was setting up a laptop and projector for someone and it took longer than it should. As a result I'm going home at 16:00, which is suitable recompense.

[13:40] Bit of a confusing morning to be honest. Aside from not getting to bed until quite late owing to watching the last of the West Wing episodes and then starting The Matrix: Revolutions, we were doing LDAP, NIS and NIS+ this morning and frankly I'm not entirely sure I know much about any of them now. Still, that's over with now and it's time to move on to JumpStart™...

[17:05] All in all an OK course. Far too rushed in places leading to a feeling of missing out on certain key concepts, but overall, not bad. Share the JumpStart lab failed utterly but at least I have a better grasp of vi (even for the command line!) and I'm much more certain about things should I go messing with them later on.

[10:50] This morning I mounted a directory over /etc, which was fun. Luckily after the machine hung and the fsck ran it seemed to be fine. I watched some more West Wing DVDs last night. It's great to go through them at the rate I am, gives a real sense of progression. No climbing this week on account of Cormac being disabled in the shoulder area.

[15:20] Roles, Rights and Profiles. All very cool, but a little over-complicated. My brain hurts again though. On the up side I went to work for lunch and picked up my two DVDs from Amazon (Babylon 5: S4 and The Matrix: Revolutions). I'll watch one tonight (if people let) me, and the other as soon as I've finished the West Wing ones.

[10:40] This morning we've been working on ufsdump and restore. Exciting. I spent far too long watching season three of The West Wing on DVD last night and as a result really didn't get up too early this morning. Still, I was on time and everything's working fine at the moment. Today's one of the days when there's no-one at work (PFY day at home). There doesn't seem to have been any problems thus far (email-wise) so I'm knocking on wood that things'll stay that way.

[11:30] It appears I'm so feared that I have secretaries emailing me when they forget to use BCC: to send an email to a 'secret' alias. This is when I'm not on the alias and might never have known had they not told me about it. In other news I just blew away my root filesystem and restored it from backup using ufsdump/ufsrestore, a CD and incomplete notes on the fact that /etc/vfstab (holding the location of the slice with the backup on, no tape devices spare for the course) was, of course, missing due to a newfs on c0t0d0s0. All good fun.

[11:40] Ooops, the guy next to me has a corrupted ufsdump of his / filesystem, so here's buggered. Silly arse didn't check it first.

[14:50] Lunch was good, went outside for once and met up with Mel. Came back and we started on SA-299. A speedy glossing over of the interfaces section wasn't what I was after but I think I got everything that he was talking about.

[16:10] Great, finish with prex and TNF symbols. What a way to totally screw with my head before I go home for the day. I think it's time for more West Wing.

[09:10] Quiet night last night. Cormac and Steph brought back my tent from Derbyshire where it had absolutely chucked it down, so we put it up in the garage and they got to meet my parents who've been here since Sunday evening. For the rest of the evening I read one of my new books, called Elaine who was in Birmingham for the day (poor lass) and then went to bed.

Today is day two of the course and we're just about to start.

[12:50] We're tearing through the course at a tremendous rate. Luckily everyone seems to be keeping up fairly well. For those of you at home following in your own books, since yesterday morning we've done the first ten modules of Sun's SA-239 Intermediate System Administration for Solaris™ 9 Operating Environment. We expect to have finished it, and SA-299 (Advanced) by Friday afternoon. Now it's time for lunch.

[16:15] The wonders of Security, Printing and Process Control were revealed to us this afternoon. More Brain Ache. Time for home.

[11:35] On the Solaris Administration Course at the moment. More later.

[13:10] My machine was used as an example of why not to install without swap. Sure, you can install Solaris 9 OK, but trying to install CD 2 won't work because the whole thing's written in Java and Sun seem to try and push a whole load of stuff in to memory which doesn't work if you've got no swap. Still, it's all part of the learning experience and I don't normally take lunch anyway.

[19/04/2004 - 09:40] Elaine and I woke early and finished the packing. Around ten we headed out to the station and took an uneventful journey to Bath Spa. After walking through town, stopping off for some lunch and up the hill to the hotel we checked in and announced to the bride that we were ready to help with anything she needed. After a while she came over to escape from the rush and learnt about the evening's practice session at the church just down the hill.

The practice went off without a hitch and we were soon sent off for the rest of the evening. Not really knowing Bath that well and being rather hungery we settled on a Burger King (posh!) before heading home to watch static-filled television and get an early night.

[13:20] Today is the last day of this week for me. Two four day weeks back to back is really rather nice. Didn't sleep too well last night unfortunately but having the water board come round to install a water meter (no more £40/month water bills for me) at 08:00 got me out of bed and functioning. I was in work by 10:00 and getting things done. All the patches rolled out to all the machines early this morning except to one machine which has been complaining of a dodgy set of blocks on its hard drive for months now. I decided now was the time to replace the disk and spend some time upgrading the Dell GX110 image for the building and that's filled up the morning.

[16:30] Right, as soon as this last set of printers has been firmware updated I'm off to pick up my morning suit for the wedding this weekend. I'm not in tomorrow so will do Friday's entry on Monday, and probably something about the weekend as well.

[12:20] Slightly late in this morning due to an appointment which taught me some useful things.

[14:05] Then I realised today was (Microsoft) Patch Wednesday and got sidetracked into making sure all the patching was ready to go tonight during lights-out. Downloads from MS are taking a dog's age hence me not finishing the journal entry until now.

[14:20] Right, I do believe that I've scheduled patching for the two main servers, all the workstation and all the terminals in the library. All I have to do is come in tomorrow and rescan everything and see what I missed.

[14:50] Elaine's turned up in the office, we're working on her CV for a bit before she pops out to some agencies.

[17:10] I've just ordered my first DVDs of this year. Should have been the West Wing Series 1-3 box set but I decided on Babylon 5: Series 4 and the last Matrix episode.

[12:05] All quiet on the Western Front this morning. Although I got a bad night's sleep I was in bright an early this morning to find one of the backups had failed for no readily ascertainable reason, but other than that that everything is fine.

When I got home yesterday Elaine and I had some more bacon for breakfast (at lunchtime) before Cormac and Steph took us out to kite fly for the afternoon. There are some shots of this in the gallery along with two collections showing the fun and frolics everyone had at the Good Friday Picnic and my birthday/housewarming.

I intend to spend the rest of the day getting some printers to work, looking at buying some new printer accounting software for the new server and basically trying to stay awake.

[11:35] This morning I've left Elaine in bed (asleep I hope) while I come in to check the machines, put in the backup tapes and findn out whether the stupid things I did to the ADS replication scheme on Thursday night have had any lasting problems. I'm such a tit sometimes. Anyway, everything seems fine, I'm going to change the tapes and get out of here until tomorrow morning.

[13/04/2004 - 11:25] I don't recall much of Sunday. Oh no, I do. We got up late (go figure) and Jon and Donna came over. Veg had stayed the night too. Anyway, Jon and Donna came over just after my belated birthday breakfast and after dragging me away from Knight Rider (it was a KARR episode!) we went for a walk up the river and back before visiting Keith who was making a table out of bits of a futon.

He and Ritu were busy with a bit of hammer action so we headed home and Elaine made an absolutely delicious roast chicken dinner, with potatoes and parsnips and bread sauce and stuffing. After watching Red Dwarf Andrea decided it was time to head home and said her farewells. I don't think it was long after that that we headed to bed ourselves. This lazing around really does tire you out.

[12/04/2004 - 11:20] Saturday was even more lazy than Friday, and also my birthday. Twenty eight. That can't be right. I'm supposed to be young. People who're twenty eight are adults. I'm not an adult. I mean, sure, I own a house now. And I've had a job for more than five years. I have a (hopefully!) long-term partner and I pay my bills but still, an adult. No grey hair yet, which is a surprise. Anyway, we got up late and after opening cards and such Andrea drove us all in to town to do some shopping. I bought Gideon and Jenny (the people who're getting married next weekend) a wedding present while Elaine went off to get 'some things done'. Once we'd all met up again we headed to Tesco to get food for the party. Food purchased we drove home and really made sure the house was ready to be invaded.

Just after five people started to arrive. Some friends I hadn't seen in a while, some I'd seen the previous weekend. It was great to see so many people enjoying themselves in my house. There was plenty of pizza, chinese and snacks and an absolutely wonderful cake and biscuits made by Helen. By 01:00 in the morning though I at least was starting to flag and the party wound down so some people could drive home and I could get to bed. I'd like to thank everyone who made the effort to come, it was wonderful.

[12/04/2004 - 11:05] Elaine arrived on Thursday night and we had a quiet night in with a few other people, then went to bed knackered. Friday was all about preparing for the weekend. In the morning we cleared up the last of the mess, put away the breakables and then waited for people to arrive. Once Andrea had turned up and we ascertained that no-one else would be coming to the house we headed in to town to do some shopping in Sainsburys and then walked over to the river to begin the semi-annual Good Friday Picnic. After waiting for almost an hour (which didn't matter because the sun was nice) people began to arrive and the eating of the food and the general lazing around began. When an aerobie made an appearance we had a go until someone threw it into the bushes. Sterling efforts by yours truly and Julian got it out again though. As the temperature began to drop we headed home with the decision to go and see Shaun of the Dead. This turned out to be a 'good decision'. It's a hilarious film in my opinion.

[11:25] A suffusion of yellow. For those of you who don't understand this you may need to read this and this too for completeness.

This morning I've been investigating the possibility of moving Ghost Console and HFNetChkPro to another machine. This needs to be done so that we can reinstall the server they're on at the moment with a RAID key and reinstall the operating system. Additionally this will give me the opportunity to find out what happens when you remove a Windows 2000 Server from a domain.

[12:25] As it is it's time to try removing a disk from the 2000 installation to make sure everything works the same way.

[16:25] Rebuild went perfectly. Move of HFNetChkPro seems to have gone smoothly too. Luckily we've only pushed out one image with the current Ghost server so it's not going to be too much hassle to redo those machines with the new PubKey.crt thingy we have to fiddle with. That's something for after Easter I think, though.

This weekend I'm planning to have a picnic (weather permitting), a birthday and a housewarming, all within forty-eight hours. Here's hoping...

[14:20] I've been installing a server with Windows 2000 Advanced Server this morning to join it to the domain. Everything seems to be happening automagically (ADS voodoo) so I've left it to settle down for a little while so I can play with the IKEA Kitchen Designer which is giving me lots of ideas for how I'd like my kitchen when I eventually have some money.

[17:25] While cleaning off unwanted bits of software from the new server I received some slightly worrying news. Hope it all works out. The software is fine, by the way. A new, and slightly less buggy version of HP Web JetAdmin. Next up is moving printing across so that I can down the other server without worrying that someone's not going to be able to print.

[10:10] I see that The Register have changed their design. I also note that this time yesterday they started selling another of my designs. I wish they'd mentioned it so I could make a few changes to the site and perhaps take a look at it before they did. Oh well, no great loss.

All the new machines seem to have rebooted happily and installed the patch I scheduled last night. Which is nice. Today I'm going to be playing with the currently redundant server and finding out what happens when RAID Goes Wrong.

[10:30] I've just read an interesting article on what Google is doing which leads me to worry that perhaps in a few years it won't be SkyNet but GoogleNet that takes over the world.

[15:05] I whipped one of the disks out of the server that's pending a reinstallation and rebooted it (no hotswap so I had to down it first, not a full test). The alarm was suitably annoying and attention-grabbing. Dell's Array Manager duly reported the missing disk and the degraded status of the RAID5 array. We did some file copying, etc. and then downed the machine and inserted the same disk. The machine still complained on boot, but for different and valid reasons, as you'd expect. Once we'd booted and silenced the alarm I showed the PFY how to rebuild onto the 'new' disk. I'm going to take her through it once more later on and then I'll be happy that I can leave her in charge of them in the event of a disk failure. Of course, a RAID controller failure is just going to piss us off royally.

[15:35] Started at the RAID rebuild is now at 90%. Even at 100 rebuild rate I fear how long a larger (and in-use) array would take to rebuild.

[10:00] Another absolutely stunning weekend. Elaine was in fact early by almost an hour due to stealthy manipulations of the national rail network and my bus to the station arrived a few minutes after she did. What was even more useful was that I pulled in next to the return bus, so there was no waiting around. It was a good start to the weekend. We returned home and decided to watch Amadeus on DVD, something neither of us have watched in a while. Owing to its extreme length we stopped about half way through and went to bed.

Saturday we got up at a sensible time and were on the way in to town for 11:00. We even caught a bus as soon as we left the house. The most important things on our list to buy were shoes for me, shoes for Elaine, a top for Elaine and a white shirt for me. All for the wedding the weekend after next. While it wasn't easy we did return from town with everything except shoes for Elaine, which I count as a major victory. We spent some time dealing with stuff which had cropped up before deciding to make our way to Keith's for his Murder Party.

I was dressed as a tennis coach (white socks too, was sure I was going to be lynched on the way over) named Tim Himen ("with an 'i'") and Elaine as an archeologist called 'Diana Jones' (pron. 'De-anna'). Pretty much everyone barring a few significant people were there (shame) and a great time was had by all. Elaine and I had a great time and left around 23:20 and happily cadged a lift home with Dunk and Liz. I believe we went to bed straight away, I can't really remember.

Sunday was all about relaxation, some really nice chipolatas and the remainder of Amadeus. We declined an offer of a fryup and some more company as we'd already eaten and needed to get some stuff done. Lots of relaxation and then I saw Elaine on to the bus for the station. I had to stay behind to wait for Linda to bring around the mattress for the absolutely stunning futon she's generously given me. It'll come in very useful next weekend at my birthday/housewarming/easter party thing.

This morning I've brought the PFY up to date on what happened on Friday work-wise. I'll be ordering a new floppy drive for the server that does the Ghost boot disks now (at least until we install another server for it to go on) so I don't have to sit in front of a machine dd'ing all afternoon.

[16:50] This afternoon the PFY and I did a dry run on one machine of the Ghosting process to take machines from NT4 to W2K. While that went according to plan there were a few hitches when we did the live rollout to fifteen machines. This was because of dodgy Dell cases, BIOS upgrades which we forgot to do and forgetting we only had a 10Mb/sec network to the cluster we were doing.

Still, once everything was sorted it was just a case of pushing the buttons and watching the image roll out. It was a pleasure to replace NT4 even with W2K. The scheduling is set for the reboots, the antivirus software rolled out perfectly (even if I did reboot everything slightly sooner than I should have) and we even have nice backdrops on the desktop now. I think it's time to go home to be honest, before I break something. As it is I've scheduled an HFNetChkPro install for 21:00, but that should be fine.

[17:10] This has particularly impressed me today. Transformers are now becoming possible.

[12:40] People are idiots. And so am I. Norton/Symantec are as well. First off I find that the reason I'm getting 'failures' for my Ghostings is because of a barely documented feature (in the readme.txt only) which explains that if you create a Ghost image with a boot partition it'll claim it's failed on rollout, even though it hasn't. On top of that I was trying to ghost back an image I'd created previously, rather than the one I'd been repeatedly creating anew because of useful changes I'd been making.

I finally got Ghost doing what I wanted and felt fairly good until I tried to check the state of A/V DAT files on one of the servers and ePO wouldn't start. Not only that but on reboot I couldn't even log in to the server any more. This obviously wasn't good. Having no idea what to do I rang Central who have a bit more experience with unhappy servers. Luckily they were able to point me at the right place where it seems that a Ghost (undocumented) feature of specifying a user account for joining machines to the ADS is that it's denied Domain Controller logon rights. This is fine if you use an account you don't use for anything other than that. Perhaps stupidly I used an account which we do use fairly frequently. This meant that any services designed to interact with the desktop/machine using those credentials wouldn't run, as well as that account not being able to log on to the servers. That's fixed now.

Finally I tried to do a favour for the custodians by advertising a TV to give away. Everyone calls me, probably due to one bit of information I forgot to remove from the news message I posted. What was even more annoying was that all the people who rang up were foreign and I couldn't understand them.

[12:45] I'm in a mood now, even though I've accomplished something this morning. Maybe I need food. Oh, and the backup tapes were confusing too.

[13:35] It's sad when it gets this bad isn't it?.

[16:45] I'm very much looking forward to Elaine coming this weekend. It's been a hard week and sharing time with her is something we don't get to do too often at the moment. Here's hoping.

[12:20] There's no funky April Fools Day stuff to be found here, I'm too annoyed with Perl, and my bloody old installation of RedHat to have the time to do what other sites do. I can't upgrade perl for some reason, the Movabletype site is down, the MySQL installation failed abysmally and basically it's really annoying.

Climbing was pretty OK last night. Did some good routes and didn't manage to injure myself, which is always a bonus. Having a kebab on the way home and then watching Tremors was just a bit extra.

Elaine's microphone for Skype justice arrived this morning too.

[12:55] Very soon I'm going to reinstall this box. This will mean that the site is down for a little while (hopefully less than a day). I'll try and give a bit of warning beforehand. Once the reinstall is done there'll be much more opportunity for making changes, improving the site and allowing more to happen. Not sure when yet, but it's going to have to happen soonish.

[17:45] I've come on a lot with Ghost this afternoon. Unfortunately I've not been able to get machines to join the domain yet. I think it's just a case of creating a user with the permission to fiddle about with a machine and get it to join the domain. I thought I'd got it set up, but this was the same problem with Ghost 6.03. Bums. I think I'll go home.