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30/12/2004
[17:35] Well, it's been a truly wonderful Christmas here. Elaine and I have spent a lot of time together eating, relaxing and generally having fun away from work. Shaun and Linda turned up on Christmas Eve to say hello and to show off Thomas, who's really getting big now. On Christmas Day we made the most wonderful Christmas Dinner ever (even if Elaine did most of the work) and opened our presents.

Between then and today we've mostly been relaxing, going for a few walks and cycles and braving a trip to PC World on the vague and remote off-chance that they might have a low-profile AGP card for Elaine's desktop PC. After a lot of hunting and a purchase of a GeForce FX 5200LE from Amazon that we're going to have to send back, we settled on a 5700LE from Scan which allegedly features the low profile bracket we need to fit her desktop case.

Yesterday we took the train to Reading to see Andy and Meri who were back in the country for a few days, and got to see Dunk, Dave, Ritu and Emma whom we've not seen in a while either. We're still looking forward to going to the US some time this coming year to see a Shuttle launch but we're not sure when yet.

After a great time out last night we took the train back this afternoon and decided to walk home from the station. About three quarters of the way home on Milton Road we decided to cross at the roundabout rather than sensibly at the Arbury Road junction. As we got to the beginning of the shops there was a massive bass thump from the other side of the road and the reflection of flames on the cars parked there. People came out of their houses and we crossed over to see what was happening and whether there was a car on fire. As we moved closer we could see that there was an old-style concrete and steel manhole cover (the rectangular type with "G.P.O." along the edging) in pieces and smoke and the smell of burnt insulation. There were no more flames.

Someone must have called 999 because the fire department were soon on the scene and we would tell them what happened and move on. As we walked the last mile or so home we realised just how lucky we were that we'd not been directly on top of the thing when it had gone up.

23/12/2004
[10:00] And this is it. T minus one day (today). I've already swapped over the keyboard and mouse for the new person to have. It's very strange to be typing on a 'normal' keyboard rather than a 'natural' one. Lots to do today, so I better get on.

[12:10] Well, it's the end of an era, and hopefully a pause before the beginning of a new one. I'm just about to power down BOFHcam I and II, the Brooktree Bt848-enabled linux boxes that've been serving images to you, the public for the last five years. By the time you read this images will be on standby, not to return until I discover the lay of the land at my new job.

[13:45] Right, I'm off. I'll be doing Journal updates over Christmas as and when. However I expect to be having a really rather lovely time of things and writing the Journal isn't really going to be top of my list if you know what I mean. The machines are just finishing wiping, I've begun to remove custom software and personal data from my work machine. As soon as the PFY gets back we'll do a final debrief and then I'll be on my way.

22/12/2004
[10:00] Whichever way you look at it, it's T minus two days until I'm out of here. This morning I got in nice and early and copied everything I wanted to a firewire drive and then started purging my machine of everything not relating to the job. The cameras will be coming down tomorrow too, as will the last of my personal servers. Rest assured (if you care) that there'll be something camera-wise coming back up again after I've settled in at the new place and there are ground rules in place.

I have a lunch appointment at around 12:45, then I'm off in to town to buy food and stuff for my leaving do/thingy this afternoon. For now, more filing and purging of machines.

[10:10] Woo! Permission to advertise my post has come. I can push the advert out to the local newsgroups in someone else's name now.

[12:15] This afternoon is going to be fairly busy, so I don't imagine there'll be another update before I head home today. There's lunch to eat, food to be bought and then my own leaving do to prepare for. I've cleaned all that I can, prepared the machines for brainwipe and generally got things ready.

21/12/2004
[15:40] No matter how you slice it, a whirlwind set of BIOS updates around the building just doesn't cut it as an afternoon pastime. Then again there's not a whole lot else I can do to fill in the time between T minus three days and The End. I've taken down all my posters, such as they are. I've begun filing some of the more useful bits and bobs I've discovered over the years into folders and started labeling the more esoteric floppy disks with easy to understand words. I think when I go this place will be organised enough that I won't have sleepless nights thinking about what I left undone.

At least I hope so.

The person who's going to provide occasional cover for when the PFY is on her own, and then the only cover (still occasional) when she goes on maternity leave came in this morning and I took him through all the major things he should know if he comes in and the room's on fire. I think he'll do fineish. He seems to be a linuxhead by origin and that's OK by me, but Windows isn't a walk in the park and you can't just jump in and assume it'll all fall in to place. The PFY should be able to ease him in to things and given how stable everything is I'd imagine things will be fine. I'm not expecting to have any calls once I'm at the new place anyway.

Tomorrow I begin planning the downing of the two BOFHcam machines still here (I moved the site a while ago), my main linux box and taking an image of my primary work PC to firewire hard drive. I won't be wiping the box, but I will be reformatting some of the data partitions.

20/12/2004
[15:35] Last week on the job. T minus four days and counting. I've spent the morning getting rid of more spare PCs from the office. With luck I'll be leaving it not only neat and tidy but also fairly empty of tat.

The weekend was spent doing lots and lots of relaxing, a tiny bit of tidying and watching Elaine play The Sims on a spare PC. Eventually we decided that it was time to put up the Christmas tree. Elaine brought it in from the garage, assembled it and spent some time making it not dominate the entire room and bedecking it with lights before we descended upon it with baubles and other shiny things to make it pretty. I'll put up a few pictures in a day or so you can see what it looks like.

This afternoon I'd scheduled a demonstration of the new audio visual kit. At 14:00 I was in the room, media at the ready and the installation engineer next to me to explain things and then... no-one turned up. We waited fifteen minutes or so before packing up. I don't really mind. From next year it'll be someone else's problem.

17/12/2004
[15:50] Another Friday swings around. I really should cut my nails some time soon, they're starting to clack on the keys a little as I type. I think it's the fact I haven't been climbing this week that's to blame.

Today I've mostly been rolling out the three new machines we got in a while ago and trying to find somewhere to put the old ones we're decomissioning. I should try and sell some off quickly this side of Christmas to leave the new person in my post some space.

Bit more work to do cleaning and cataloguing these machines then I'm off home for the weekend.

16/12/2004
[15:40] Well, all the December patches applied cleanly last night. The only problems were machines which weren't booting due to floppy disks in the drives or faulty keyboards. Given we have a glut of spare keyboards this wasn't a problem. It's been a light day today. While most everyone else went out for the Christmas dinner thingy I stayed in and got some work done while no-one else was around. Given the extra time I've put in I'm going to go off and get some stocking fillers for Elaine's Christmas stocking thingy in a few minutes. There's no Thursday get-together this evening as sufficient numbers of people are now (or will be soon) out of the country to make it a bit of a waste of time. Anyway, time to shop while the place is semi-sane.

15/12/2004
[15:20] The audio visual people are back today to put the finishing touches to the system, including adding in the Room View software to control/monitor the Crestron stuff. I've been having a nightmare with my payment for the website I've been doing. Seems as I'm an employee of the place I did the casual work for they want to subtract tax and National Insurance at source, which isn't really how I wanted to do it. Still, I'm sure it'll all work out in the end.

Cormac took us to do a bit more food shopping for Christmas last night. I think we need to stay away from Tesco for a bit, before we run out of money.

14/12/2004
[11:55] I was in for 08:00 this morning to ensure that the people doing the audio visual installation wouldn't want for anything. Naturally they didn't get in until 08:30ish. This didn't matter as I got a load of stuff done before anyone else got in.

As I type, pretty much all the hardware is in place and it looks spanky. I can't wait for things to be finished so I can test it. I'm at the second half of the experiment this afternoon but will be back before close of play.

My parents turned up last night and Elaine (and I, a bit) made some food for us all and sat down at the dinner table for the first time since I moved in. It was good to see them, swap presents (although my ones for my Mum from BOL.com still haven't turned up (they'll have to be birthday ones)). They headed out this morning after I'd gone to work thanks to Elaine staying behind.

13/12/2004
[16:40] A full weekend. Saturday we got up really, really late and then had some great breakfast. In a spurt of enthusiasm I ransacked the garage for things we could put up in the loft. Together with Elaine I managed to pretty much reorganise the garage into something approaching a tidy workspace and now had a pile of things for her to sort through in terms of what stays, what goes and what goes in the loft. I took out a whole load of wood that'd been in the loft, mouldered in the garage and now was to be thrown away. After a while we decided that that was it for the day and I spent some time setting up a PC in the spare bedroom for Elaine to play games on (rather than her laptop). This was a minor event as it was the first time I'd reused the DNS name that had previously been allocated to an old machine now no-longer on my network. With some spare kit I got a complete system together, fired up Windows 2000 and installed what was required. For a few minutes the lack of driver CD was a bit of a problem, but broadband, a USB key and some effort and everything was sorted.

Sunday was more about tidying up from Sunday, relaxation and preparing for Christmas a bit. We popped out to Tesco to try and get some food for the week and ended up getting some of the Christmas period food as well. In an effort not to overbuy, or buy the wrong things we went home with only a little bit and decided to eat out of the freezer for a while, not buy perishables yet and to sit down with a pen and paper and plan out the main festive meals. Bored after a while we ended up looking at cookery books for a while before settling down with some more West Wing. I struggled manfully to put some boxes in the loft as well while Elaine rationalised our crockery and cutlery for the first time.

A really productive weekend all things considered. I can't leave a description of the weekend without thanking Elaine for Saturday, which was a truly wonderful day here and there.

Today the PFY and I spent the morning doing the XHTML equivalent of polishing the hubcaps and other chrome parts of the web site in preparation for it going live. And, after lunch (when I braved town to get a present for my mother's birthday without dying) it did indeed go live. Naturally there's still bits that need doing, but we didn't want to leave it any longer and all remaining additions and minor changes will be done in situ.

My parents arrive this evening on the yearly Santa Run. Hopefully some other presents for them arrived while I was at work today from BOL.com. If they didn't they will hopefully arrive tomorrow morning while my parents are still in the house and I can leave them to take them away.

10/12/2004
[13:00] Having just read This post by JMS about the Crusade DVDs I'm not sure whether I'll buy them now. Part of me wants to support Joe, the rest of me refuses to pay money to a company as underhanded and conniving as Warner.

Otherwise I've been doing some niggling little website updates with someone which involved greping masses of text for key words and then linking them up with a mass of image-centric web pages. Not the most exciting thing in the world, but I've learnt a lot more about the corpus of information I'm putting on the web now.

Between now and the end of the day I need to check over the main web site a bit, go and deposit a cheque, have something to eat, work out when I'm going shopping for weekend food and to try and remember to change the backup tapes. Actually, I think I'll do that now.

The recording of HIGNFY last night was pretty good. Lots of people I knew turned up in addition to Gideon and Jenny. It was pretty cold in the queue but the studio stumped up for some 'mulled wine', although it tasted more like oil of cloves.

09/12/2004
[10:15] I came off my bike on the way in to work this morning. The irony of the situation is that I passed my nominal boss on the way in (she takes a much easier and quieter route to work) and we had a brief chat about cycling to work and I said my way was fine. It usually is, only this morning the road was extremely greasy in places. I'm sure I need to replace my front tyre with something with a bit more contact with the road. It's probably a bit too off roady. Anyway, the bike seems to be OK, I have some really dirty shorts and a goodly amount of cuts, and grazes. I imagine I'll bruise somewhere too.

Now I think about it the wheels on the bike are a little out of true. I'll try to find time to get them looked at.

When Elaine came home last night she was in a pretty bad way headache-wise. I think the LP headache was kicking in. As we'd decided I headed out for climbing and the Christmas curry thing. Had a great time but over ate and pretty much fell asleep on the way home. Elaine had gone to bed but wasn't feeling terrible good still. Luckily we were both tired enough to fall asleep anyway and she's feeling a lot better this morning.

We're off to see Have I Got News For You this evening in London with Gideon and Jenny. Hopefully I'll be able to go home beforehand and get into some clean shorts before we catch the train. Today I've already given someone a new computer and will be working on more of the web site(s) and configuring a set of GPOs for the first of the PCs that'll be going in audio visual stacks in some of our rooms.

[15:20] I cycled home at lunch time to get some clean shorts and stuff. The quote for the garage roof had arrived. It's a lot, but hey, it needs doing. Off in about half an hour. The PFY and I really blitzed the new web site this morning. I'm pretty sure it's done, except for the site A to Z and a few little bits we're waiting on from other people. I expect it'll go live on Monday.

08/12/2004
[17:05] Today it's been mostly annoying. I've been doing some more web site stuff and getting annoyed with Word and it's tracking of changes. I've then been setting up someone's camera on a spare machine so they can take digital pictures and upload them to a machine to burn to CD. Had I actually been asked in advance all this would have been ready to go, as it is I've had to do it all on the fly. I'm not a big fan of lash-up setups, but this one seems to work. On the plus side, it's time for climbing now and there's a curry to go to afterwards.

Elaine's back at work today, although it sounds like her lumbar puncture headache has kicked in a bit. A bit of back plot: the last test Elaine had done was a lumbar puncture. I sat with her through the whole thing. She lay on her side, knees to her chest while a very friendly nurse who admitted she'd had the same thing done to her a few months ago swabbed down Elaine's lower back with iodine. She then pressed firmly to find the lay of the land spine-wise. This caused Elaine some discomfort. Once the nurse was sure of where she was going to be sticking things she made sure the trainee nurse in the room could see everything and gave Elaine the first of the three anesthetic injections. That hurt. The mixture of alkaline in the anesthetic and the acidity of human skin isn't great. After a while the second needle went in, much more deeply. Elaine didn't feel that one quite so much. The last needle neither of us realised was going in as I sat by Elaine's head and watched her face. Only when the main needle went in did Elaine shout as it touched one of her nerves. She described it as an electric current going from her right buttock down to her right foot and making it tingle. After a few seconds even that faded though. The nurse took a pressure reading before beginning the fluid collection. I walked around the bed and watched the nurse remove the guide needle from the middle of the large, inserted one and the perfectly clear fluid drip slowly out. Roughly ten drops for each of the two containers were collected before the nurse withdrew the needle and told Elaine to lie on her back.

For about forty minutes Elaine lay perfectly still before slowly getting up and going down to where Cormac was waiting with the car. Like I said previously, the lumbar puncture, the MRIs and the nerve tests will apparently give a definitive result on whether Elaine has MS or not. We'll just have to wait and see.

07/12/2004
[09:55] I've left Elaine in bed today. I don't think she's up to going to work today. Hopefully a day laid up and/or pottering around the house will see her back to her usual bubbly self again. Meanwhile I'm back in work and looking forward to getting a few more machines prepped and out of the door. I've already emailed the person I'm doing the website for to find out why I've no more work to do on that score at the moment. For the moment... on with other things.

06/12/2004
[07/12/2004 - 09:00] The weekend was fun (and full). On Saturday we got up early and headed to the station to get a train to Nottingham. By 13:00 we were in Elaine's sister's house and I was plugging in my 'USB key of much fixing' to work out what was bothering her PC. Turns out that after being plugged into the ADSL line for less than five minutes it had two IRC worms on it. Being a sensible person she'd quickly disconnected it and waited for us to turn up. A quick application of the latest SuperDAT from NAI and both worms were ferreted out. Truth be told I'd already found them in the registry but it was nice to be backed up by the antivirus files. There then followed a bout of patching and upgrading every piece of software I'd installed on the box, installing a printer and then changing the CD-ROM for a CD-RW. By the time I'd finished and Elaine had shown her sister how it all worked it was getting on for 17:00. We said our goodbyes and headed back on the tram to the station and caught the train.

Naturally we missed our connection by about thirty seconds and had to wait for over half an hour. I took the time to do something I never have before, I played Snake on my mobile phone. Once back in town we cycled to Steph's new house for a nice mini-party with home-made food and plenty of drink. It was great to see Ian, who turned up out of the blue as well as Keith who we've not seen in a while either. Surprisingly we stayed well past 01:00 before cycling home and collapsing into bed.

Sunday was much more about relaxing. At least for a while until I got itchy feet about doing something. Getting up off the huge sofa (still too big but so very comfortable) I vanished up into the loft and moved all the huge joists that provided a floor on one side of the half-loft to the other so I could lay some more loft insulation. Clad in my paper suit and wearing a face mask again I couldn't really smell the burning wood until Elaine (who'd been doing some more sewing to make a curtain for the front door) poked her head up to see how things were going. One lightbulb removed from the side of a joist later and the smell had gone (although there was a smoking indentation in the wood). We're going to need somewhere to hang the light permanently, and a better run for the cable.

So I finished the insulation laying (worried about why some of it was wet (probably just condensation from being in contact with the roof)), had a shower to scrape off the worst of the fiberglass and then settled down with Elaine to relax and prepare for the next day's activities.

We got up far too early but needed to for the traffic effects on the bus journey to the hospital. By 08:40 we were at the hospital and at the MRI place. As before she slid into the machine and the banging and clanging of the electro magnet started. However this time it was a much shorter experience and half way through the nurse came back in to give her a gadolinium suspension to improve the contrast. After that it was back to the place we'd started where they told us we'd have to wait for a few hours for the next part (a series of non-invasive tests to check some other things) so we got some food in the concourse. That part of the day was the only part I wasn't with Elaine and it felt odd. I was just outside the door though, so that was OK. Straight after that we went for the final stage of the day's tests which I sat in for. Not the pleasantest of things, but it'll help give a definitive result, which we hope to get this side of Christmas, but probably won't.

Cormac gave us a lift home at around 12:50 and I looked after Elaine (who crashed out on the sofa as soon as we got home) until bed time when she crashed out again once in bed.

03/12/2004
[10:15] I forgot to mention, there are photos of the sofa on my gallery at Fotopic if you're even vaguely interested in looking. Meanwhile, I'm back at work again (hence the journal entries) and noticing that the analog run I started yesterday still hasn't finished, more than 24 hours after I started it. Should be done soon through. Good job I disabled the cronjob though.

[16:50] And the job finishes. Here's a quick summary of what happened with the BOFHcam since I arrived at this place:

Analysed requests from Mon-30-Aug-1999 17:08 to Thu-02-Dec-2004 09:47 (1920.69 days).
Successful requests: 17,790,403
Average successful requests per day: 9,262
Logfile lines without status code: 18,129,053
Successful requests for pages: 3,650,244
Average successful requests for pages per day: 1,900
Failed requests: 57,363
Redirected requests: 8,386
Distinct files requested: 5,871
Distinct hosts served: 296,558
Corrupt logfile lines: 1,204
Unwanted logfile entries: 116,812 Data transferred: 134.706 gigabytes
Average data transferred per day: 71.817 megabytes
Total run time: 1825 minutes, 32 seconds.


Yes, I could have speeded things up a lot more with adnslogres and some parallel DNS lookups but I didn't know about that until the thing was well under way. Doesn't really matter. As it is I think it's home time.

This weekend I'm off to Nottingham for half a day to help Elaine's sister get back on the net after her rapid worm infestation when she installed DSL yesterday. Once we're back in town there's a party in the evening and then Sunday should be all about relaxation.

02/12/2004
[03/12/2004 - 10:10] Another day off! This time waiting for the new sofa to arrive. I took the opportunity to rearrange the lounge a bit and make room for the sheer size of the thing. I don't really remember what I did for much of the time I was waiting. I know I did some icons for the site I'm working on using Icon Edit (feeware). I also tried uploading a favicon.ico to my Axis camera but it won't let you put one in the place it needs to go.

The gutter guys came back to put in the bit of mortar they knocked out and probably gave me a new tile free to replace the one they found broken. I'll see if they charge me for it when the invoice comes through. They did forget to drop off the hand brush they borrowed though. Hopefully that'll come back tomorrow.

I started an analog run on the complete web statistics for the BOFHcam since it came on line here. That's about five years of logs for it to chew through. It could take a while. Just as I was setting that off the delivery guys arrived with the Thing. Luckily it comes in two parts by design, because although they had no problem getting it in the house and into the lounge, once it was assembled the thing took over the lounge completely. It's very, very comfortable, and huge. Personally I think it's a little big, and it really means we need something on the wall behind it to break up the large blank area that's there now. But that's perfectly okay because it's time we got some things on the walls. Did I mention it's huge. It's wonderful to lie on though and will be perfect when Elaine needs to stretch out next week.

01/12/2004
[09:30] It's extremely cold this morning. Very December in feel. Of course, mildly slippy roads and a slight fog doesn't stop the idiot cyclists on the road from go straight through red lights in the middle of flowing traffic, only to wait on the far side for their friend who isn't enough of an idiot to do the same thing. Still, at least I'm here safe.

[17:15] A fairly exciting afternoon, by this place's standards. After getting a request to write someone's reference for them, asking the person I'd be doing it for to write it himself and then let me see it, I headed out in the cold to meet up with some people for lunch. After lunch I got my ass in gear about moving the site to a new location pending my move from here at the end of the year. Some quick fiddling with ssh keys and some update scripts and the site was moved across (all hail relative links). Now I just have to ensure that DNS updates won't kill anything and I can get that updated.

The new sofa arrives tomorrow (allegedly) so I won't be in again unless it arrives before midday. It's huge and I don't think even Elaine is going to be able to appreciate what it's going to do for the room until she sees in in place. We're passing on to Steph the four-seater futon Shaun and Linda gave us for free so that our old lounge futon can become the spare room futon/bed (it's more comfortable to sleep on, even though it's smaller). For now I'm off home and thence to climbing. If I'm not in tomorrow I'll be in on Friday.