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[13:45] Bah, still nothing from last interview place yet for Elaine. They're saying it's a tough decision and will let her know tomorrow. It certainly is a tough decision, Elaine's great and they should be having a hard time not choosing her for the post.

The PFY and I have been putting some finishing touches to the scripts we'll be running next week to create users, install machines and the server and generally get things up and running as quickly as possible. The emails have gone out telling people about the password reset and I'm tracking down the last few niggly things we'll need to do. The PFY's taken the afternoon off, so I'm free to concentrate on what needs to be done.

[31/08/2004 - 10:35] I had a brainstorm over the weekend on how to fix this missing IE History thing. It's by no means perfect, but it has some semi-useful side-effects which aren't too bad, at the same time as doing pretty much what I want. I've turned off the deletion of cached roaming profiles on workstations for that user and similar users on the domain. These users are ones who don't roam at all. Never. This means that when they log off their profile remains on the workstation. In the event that the profile server isn't available they will still be able to log in as there's a copy of a valid profile on the machine they're sitting at. They get no home directory (as it's on the same server as their profile) but they can at least log in and read email/word process. Also however when they log off and their profile (sans Local Setting directory tree) is copied up to the server, the Local Settings directory remains on the machine and when they log back in again it's not created anew by Windows when it's detected as pre-existing. Voila! The IE History remains. Like I said, it's a terrible way to do it, and not at all portable in the eventuality they might need to roam. But they don't, so it's not an issue.

I popped in to change the backup tapes, not much else. Quiet day at home. More job applications. We haven't heard anything from Elaine's last interview yet.

[14:35] Does anyone know how to include the IE History folder when a user with a roaming profile logs out? Everything I've found to date indicates that no matter what you do pretty much all of Local Settings (including Temp, Temporary Internet Files and History) doesn't get copied back up to the server when you log out. No matter what I do I can't find a way to ensure that it is. If you have a solution then there'll be much kudos and singing of your praises.

It would also get this new user off my back somewhat.

Nothing as yet on Elaine's job interview. You'll know when I do if it's good news.

[11:35] Thanks to Lesley yesterday who sent me a link to a GPF cartoon that fits very well with my current style of dress. It would be a problem if my next post didn't allow me to wear what I wanted. I think for the sake of a new job I'd be willing to bend though, now I think about it.

For some obscure reason the image for our Dell GX270s which leave the building had no User permission on the root of C:\. I know I didn't do it on purpose, or even remember doing it at all. I'm going to have to either remember to change it every time, or redo the image. Given I have a spare machine or two at the moment I think I'll just redo it later. It's nice to see that a lot of people from the Convention are using Fotopic for their images. Every little helps.

Elaine's still having woes with Powergen, more than two months after she tried to close her account with them when she left Sheffield. Aside from having to do some more money things I think, once this stage has been done, that should be the end of it. Maybe. There's now a day and a half to find out if Elaine got the job she interviewed for on Tuesday. Here's hoping. She and Cormac went out yesterday to get the first loft's worth of insulation and boarding. That loft has rafters which are all the same height and are actually spaced sensibly. With luck we'll get around to fitting that some time in the next few weeks. Once done we'll be able to move a lot of Elaine's stuff out of the garage and into the loft where it'll be a bit safer and more out of the way. The second loft is going to be a nightmare given that most of the beams are different heights, thicknesses and spacings. Still, one at a time.

[16:50] Bloody users. This is why we don't make users administrators on their machines. It's because they think they're smart and try to do things that a) they're not supposed to and, b) they don't understand in the slightest. This is usually compounded by not contacting me in any way and then asking why thing are broken afterwards. I made them an administrator briefly so they could deal with a few small niggling things on the assumption (I know, I know) that they'd not start fiddling with things that have nothing to do with that which they asked for permission to do. Obviously in hindsight this was a Bad Idea.

[11:25] Sorry for the break in journal but there wasn't really any kind of way I could continue writing while I was at the Convention. I'll give you a brief and probably very incomplete version of what happened.

I got a lift to the hotel on Thursday and spent most of the afternoon helping Tech rig as well as attending a committee meeting and setting up the volunteers (gopher) area. By the end of the day I was already fairly tired but we were pretty sure we were ready to go. Everyone who needed one was also plugged into the others by walkie-talkie. I spent the evening reading in an effort to save some energy for the following few days.

Aside from the two hundred or so people who'd arrived on Thursday, there was a steady influx on Friday and I spent the day, as Gopher King is wont to do, making sure everyone who needed extra hands was furnished with them. I'll take this opportunity to thank any people who volunteered at the Convention for helping the thing take place. Without you it wouldn't have gone anywhere near as well as it did.

Frankly I don't really remember much of the Convention after that other than running around, grabbing people and sending them to other places. There were some events which stick in my mind though. These are Leo in a dress, ringing Elaine whenever I could (this involved leaving the hotel to find a place with reception), doing the money table in the gambling hall and having lots of ladies in low-cut dresses lean over me (on purpose) and the feeling of an ear-piece in my ear even when it wasn't. There are, of course, many others, but they've all melded (as they always do) into a feeling of achievement and contentment at another job well done. There'll be some photos on the web eventually (hosted by Fotopic, hopefully). I'll provide a link when I can. I do remember late nights of drinking and chatting with friends rarely seen, hobnobbing with Jack Cohen at breakfast and a conversation with Terry Pratchett and Stephen Briggs about Spaced and Black Books in a Nepalese restaurant.

When I arrived home I found out that Elaine hadn't been selected for second interview for the job she'd worked so tremendously hard for. Turns out that although she had what was needed knowledge-wise, she didn't have enough actual experience. We're hoping this isn't going to be what lets her down on any other interviews she gets. If it is I'll see what I can do about having her come in to the office on the days the PFY isn't and giving her some first hand experience of tech support. As it is she had another interview that afternoon which seemed to go well too. We hear about that later this week, probably on Friday.

I've got things to do here, emails to answer, machines to install, thoughts on the final parts of the last NT4->W2K migration to solidify.

[12:45] Final day of work before the Convention. I've done something I've been meaning to do for years this morning. I took the door control machine off upstairs and cloned the hard drive to a Ghost image. This should mean that in the event of the neolithic technology we use currently going up the spout due to basically fossilising we have an image we can put on newer hardware. Indeed, I've already stuck it on one of our perfectly capable 450MHz Dells and am pleased to say that DOS still runs perfectly well. Of course, moving up from a 171MB HDD to something larger doesn't really have any effect either, likewise moving from 16MB of RAM to 128MB.

It's about time for me to go to lunch, thence to the T-shirt shop to pick up my Gopher T-shirts, then the reprographics centre for the posters/signs I was asked to get done and then back to work for a short afternoon's work. Currently everything seems to be on-track so I'll not do anything terribly disruptive in the hope that things will be fine while I'm away.

[15:45] OK, I have the posters and signs for the Convention but my T-shirts haven't quite come out as I asked them to so they're being done again. Apparently they've already been reprinted so I'm going to pick them up on my way home. Elaine's popped to the shops to get me some provisions for when I don't have time have breakfast, or lunch, or dinner over the course of the Convention and I'm just about finished tidying things up here.

Elaine's got her first real IT interview tomorrow and I'm still feeling annoyed that I won't be here to see her before and after it. Still, anyone who feels like wishing her luck should think about her at 14:00 tomorrow. If she gets it then I'll ask her to come on here and thank everyone who did.

I just had an engineer from an air-con company come by and do that backwards whistle thing at me when I asked if it would be possible to have something fitted in the room. The fact that the building is a bloody stupid shape and Listed means that the chances of getting something fitted for a price the administration will allow is slim to none. Still, with luck I'll be out of here by this time next year.

[17:10] Off now. Everyone have a nice few days.

[12:30] Karate's been cancelled on Mondays for the moment due to the venue being a bit contentious. Hopefully I'll make it to another day instead. It was a nice way to start the week, but as I get older I find I enjoy a nice quiet evening in now and then, especially at the beginning of the week.

Anyway, Elaine got another job application off yesterday and is still boning up for her first IT-related interview on Thursday. I'm now being charged with getting some A2 prints done for the Convention, so I'll have to pop out some time this afternoon and get them taken to the printers so we get them back in time on Wednesday or Thursday.

I've been fiddling with munge.exe again in an effort to figure out how to do sensible things with OpenSSH and a huge and inconvenient list of users whose home directories are sub-directoried within E:\Home. I may have to make some changes to that. It does, however really make sense. Honest.

[17:00] The stuff I needed to get printed was printing out as I left the person at the reprographics unit. Note to self: PDFs aren't always as portable as you might think. Still, a bit of PC fiddling and printing to EPS and then a trip to the RIP and everything seems to have come out OK. Encapsulation will take place tomorrow and I'll go and pick up the resulting copy at the same time as my T-shirts. For the moment I'm off home for a pleasant evening.

[10:40] Turns out that due to a sudden upturn in interest in the job I was going for and a massive amount of applications just under the wire by some supremely skilled people I won't be getting an interview this time around. On to other things. Saturday was excellent, Shaun popped round early in the morning (waking us up!) for a chat after the power work he was having done at his office fell through slightly. He ended up teaching Elaine some fairly useful database background knowledge. Just after he left Elaine and I cycled down to the bus station and took a trip to Milton Keynes to see Geoff, Shelly and Rhys. Rhys has certainly grown a lot and is running around like a mad thing. As well as seeing Caz again and Callum (who I haven't seen since Rhys' first birthday) there was great food (as always), water pistols and sun to relax under in the garden. We headed back on the bus to get home at a sensible time and collapsed into bed fairly early on. Bus travel really does take it out of you.

On Sunday Gideon and Jenny (recently married) popped in to Cambridge to see me and a few other people. We went to have some fun on the river and drink some champagne. Elaine elected not to come on account of having too much cramming to do for her interview on Thursday. It's a shame I'm going to be at the Con then, but I'm hoping she'll ring me afterwards and tell me about it.

At the moment I'm investigating AutoStreamer which looks kind of useful for those of you who don't do this kind of thing (slipstreaming Windows XP SP2 into an install CD for Windows XP) often. There are some minor gotchas if you're using a Dell OEM XP CD. In the event that you're doing that, then give me an email and I'll provide the extra information you need.

[14:50] On account of doing all of my planned work for this week already I took a bit of time to work on a T-shirt design for the Discworld Convention. Oh, before I forget, it looks like the nameserver for has gone down, or something stranger than that. I doubt everyone who normally reads this is able to do this at the moment. I've emailed the hostmaster responsible and hopefully it'll be back soon. Oddly the slaves are still responding so I don't know why some people can't get to it.

Anyway, I'm looking into it.

With luck I can get out of here fairly

[15:20] Thunder all day today. I was sure I heard it while some people were saying there wasn't any. Thought I was going mad. I've ordered some new PCs for the offices which are going to be occupied in a month or so, as well as two more PCs for users outside of the building. While the temperature has been down a little, there's not been much letup in the humidity inside the building, at least in my office.

The storm seemed to cause a monster power spike a few minutes ago. I think we lept up to about 255V for a few minutes. Probably a groundstrike somewhere close to a power substation or similar. All the UPSes went into active trim mode anyway. Speaking of which, the replacement replacement UPS battery arrived this morning and is happily charging away. I'll stick it back in the cabinet tomorrow morning if I get in early enough.

Elaine's here today, she's upstairs in one of the spare rooms absorbing knowledge on database and IT matters like a dry sponge. I know how she feels; I've been learning more in the last few weeks than I have in a few months here. I still can't get this damned database created though. There's something really screwy going on with Oracle 10g. Still, it's certainly a very good way to learn how Oracle (doesn't) work.

[16:35] It's really been raining here now. Serious drop in pressure and the heavens have opened.

[15:30] It's been busy for me here this morning. First of all there was another office rejiggle so I was in and out of the room moving PCs and printers while the custodial staff did desk shifting. Then I got requests for PCs for now and the near future all at the same time so was trying to juggle specifications for them at the same time as realising that Misco, rather than sending a new battery for the second UPS whose battery had gone, sent me half of a battery set. I know for a fact that APC don't like you doing what I would have had to have done. Plus it was only half the components I needed. Hopefully the right part will come out tomorrow.

Berfore lunch I started upgrading all the in-use Ghost images we have here in preparation for the new machines I'll be ordering in a few minutes. With luck we'll have everything we need for the rollout of them in a few weeks time. Hmm, printers. I knew I'd forgotten something.

Yesterday I think I overloaded Elaine's brain with information on the basics of networking, the OSI layer model, DNS, routing and POP and IMAP. Hopefully I'll be able to give her some more grounding in other stuff the next time she comes in. It's a learning experience for us both going through some of this stuff as in many cases I've not thought about it in any real detail since my undergraduate days.

[12:50] Still struggling with some weird and freaky database creation template that Oracle 10g has made for me. It's certainly an excellent way to learn about SQL*Plus and database creation. It's also really annoying as I want to get on to other bits now.

Elaine's in today, and may be for future days for the next week or so as I'm showing her the fundamentals of systems administration with some specifics on Windows and (if we have time) Linux. We're also applying for some trainee sysadmin posts.

[14:00] Another UPS battery appears to have died over the weekend. I've got a replacement on order, due to arrive tomorrow. It's not quite as essential as it's one that keeps the switches going. I've been reinstalling Oracle 10g on a box that'll actually be useful to play with finally. With HyperThreading enabled the RedHat Enterprise installation also thinks the box is SMP which makes for added fun. 1.5GB of RAM and a 2GHz processor means it may actually go when/if I put it under load.

We're still looking for a job for Elaine. All the people we're contacting are saying no or not interested without giving her a chance to show just how amazing she can be given the opportunity. I hope we find her something soon. Being unemployed really sucks. I'm doing more on Oracle this afternoon and hopefully heading to karate this evening if I have the energy. The heat last night and in the office at the moment is really sapping my strength something fierce.

[14:45] Very little has happened today. I've been doing clearup things for most of the day, commissioning new printers and things like that. It's too hot to do much else. Elaine went out and got paint for the lounge today. Apparently the colour I chose was out of stock, until she found some one-coat stuff which seems to really go with the room. So that's good. Hopefully this weekend we'll be getting some shim or somesuch to get all the rafters in the loft to the same height so that we can start putting down loft insulation so that we can get boarding down. Hopefully all this action will tie in with her getting a job somewhere so we can stop spending time looking for jobs and get on with the things we have planned for the house. Anyway, time to update some of the desktop images here with the new PuTTY and most recent security updates.

[12:15] In a vague flash of inspiration and necessity I've managed to create a fairly neat bit of scripting that completely bypasses Windows 2000's add-user stuff and all the extra things we need to do for users here. Fully batchable, configurable and able to clean the peskiest of sea-bound mammals, it sets up everything including the SFTP access and printer quota stuff that's unique and mildly tricky for our setup here. I think it's worth going to lunch about.

[16:30] It really is very hot here. I'm even more concerned about my machines now and and making sure all the UPSes are capable of supporting their loads. The only problem is that I can't do runtime calibration on their UPses when they're in live use so I'm shifting things around so they aren't doing anything important at the time so if the batteries go we don't lose anything. Other than that I'm learning about coalescing extents. It's still too hot and I want to go home.

[11:15] I've already had someone from the building services group in this morning to finally take a look at what would be required to get air-conditioning fitted in this room. I'm not sure what the costs are going to be, or what kind of kerfuffle is going to arise from all the other people in the building who'll feel annoyed that the servers (I, from their point of view) get air-con and they don't. I'm more than happy to explain to them how computers don't get to go home on the weekend, or take a cold shower. And how, when they get too hot, they don't just take a break and go for a drink. No, in fact they break in interesting and possibly terminal ways (as a UPS battery did) and then nobody can do anything. The fact that the PFY and I get a room which is always pleasantly cool in summer (not that I intend to be here next summer if I can help it) and that the door will have to be kept closed while it's on is neither here nor there.

I'm off for another one of those psychology experiments today. I can't help thinking that using the same people for all of these experiments (you go on a list of people willing to take part in things) is going to skew the results as those people who keep coming back must obtain a certain mindset which makes the results a bit less natural.

[16:35] The experiment was more fun that normal, which was nice. Another small bit of cash for use in paying for things always helps too. For most of the afternoon I've been learning more about Oracle, including Views and Materialized Views, Clusters and Hash Clusters, Indexes and Sequences and a bit more on tnsnames.ora and initSID.ora. It's all really interesting and I'm wondering why I didn't get in to it a good long while ago. Still, there you go. It's still really hot in here and I'm a bit worried about the servers and the UPSes. I've done a few runtime calibrations and will be doing a few more tomorrow to ensure that all the batteries are still in good nick. Also off to climbing in twenty minutes, too.

[10:00] I've been a long-time occasional watcher of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and watch it whenever I get the opportunity. Unfortunately it's not on that often so when I come across something that ties both really, really bad fantasy writing with the irreverance of MST3K it's likely to be worth a good read. I hearby challenge you to make it to the end of The Eye of Argon *dum dum dum*.

[10:45] Karate last night was extremely intensive. The usual sensei wasn't there so we had one of the 2nd Dan people take the class. Lots and lots and lots of warmup stuff, then a large amount of basic work requiring good thigh muscles. By the end of the session most people were quivering gently. Luckily the squash court we were in has token-controlled lights and they went out towards the end of a nasty chunk of kicking combinations he had us doing. Cycling home was a fun affair and I barely remember getting in to bed after the shower. I'm really enjoying being back in the dojo again though. Honest.

[17:10] Oh, the new UPS battery arrived and has been installed. We're just waiting for it to charge and then it'll go back into service tomorrow morning. My calves ache from karate still. I think I'm going to go home and have a nice cold shower. Elaine bought something in town this morning which I'm supposed to see as well...

[13:00] Internet Explorer Cumulative Patch came out late on Friday. Which was helpful as I'd already gone home. We're scheduling it to install this evening. I don't think it's particularly worrying. Still, it gives the PFY a chance to flex her HFNetChkPro muscles again.

Shaun and Linda came over with Tom for an impromptu barbecue after work on Friday. Elaine and I would have gone over there, but the idea of cycling in the heat with rucksacks full of food and drink caused a small change of plans. It was wonderful to see Tom and how much he'd come on in the few weeks since we'd last seen him. He can now walk completely unaided and doesn't tend to fall over unless he steps on something.

The weekend was good. More on that another time. Elaine and I are back on the job trail today. We're both still looking for someone who'll recognise just how much she has to offer a job if she's just given the opportunity. Civil, Structural or general Highways engineering is what she's good at but moving in to IT as a trainee somewhere is also something we're looking at. Unfortunately even with an M.Eng in Structural Engineering no-one seems to be biting at the moment.

[15:50] And one of the servers' UPS batteries has died. Blummin' marvellous.

[16:10] New battery ordered for delivery tomorrow.