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[16:00] Another month gone. Where do they go now? Just seem to zip on by at the speed of light. It feels like we only just started this one. Before long now it'll be getting dark at 16:00 and snowing. Anyway, today's the day I finally realised I'd put a ConCom meeting (meant for tomorrow) in the wrong month on my wall planner, which is a bit of an arse as I'm now booked to go somewhere with friends tomorrow. I think I've got all the bases covered though so my absence shouldn't be too problematic, if at all.

It's been hotter than hell in the building today, or possibly in my room. Either way the machines probably haven't been too happy and I'm debating leaving the fans on over the weekend. Hell, I'm not debating it, I'll be doing it, and getting another one from elsewhere in the building. Other than that I've been keeping printers running, reading up on Oracle 9i (a copy of Oracle in a Nutshell has been keeping be engrossed for the past few days now) and trying to find time to talk to my boss about buying new machines at the same time as waiting for an outgoing secretary to come and find me to archive the files she wants kept and the ones she wants to take with her. Elaine's in town at the moment meeting Will so I'm going to head home in about half an hour, grab a shower and basically try to cool down for a bit until she gets home.

The barbecue last night was excellent. Elaine put out a thrown type thing that must have been about four metres square and provided more than enough space for all the friends who came around. The weather was stunning, if a little humid and we had a great time. Miriam looked like she had a good time too, for her first Thursday: experience. Hopefully she'll come back next time she's free. I don't know if subjecting her to Galaxy Quest was a good idea or not.

[14:10] Climbing last night was excellent. I can feel my fitness returning slowly as I become more active again. It was hot too. In a brief burst of machismo I had a go at beating the unofficial record for climbing one of the long routes and managed to get it down to 14 seconds from bottom to top. Completely unnecessary, silly and for no reason it still felt good to have the strength and control over my body to complete a smooth climb with the minimum of effort and a reasonable amount of poise. Naturally I failed miserably at some of the other climbs that evening. Cormac had brought along someone new called Miriam who appears to be slightly better than us. It certainly upped our quality for the session to have someone to match.

Elaine and I were woken in the night by cats fighting in the garden. What I wouldn't have done for a water pistol about then. Consequently in the morning we were both absolutely pooped but I still managed to get to work in time to install Sun's JRE 1.4.2_05 on twenty machines to help someone who was trying to access a site which needed a JRE last night as I was heading home. Naturally when they came in to use it it still didn't work and I had to admit that it was Netscape on the remaining NT4 machines that was the root of the problem, rather than the fact that the website still wanted a Java plugin when one was installed when accessed with Netscape. I'm going to be so happy to get rid of the last of the old installs.

Helping the user print out took up most (if not all) of the morning and I only just had time to finally get Samba working on the big pile-o-disks before I began to fold in half from starvation.

Elaine's been gardening this morning. Apparently the entire hedge has now been trimmed (boy, did it need it!) and the grass mown for the barbecue we're hoping to have this evening. I've been delegated to do the top of the hedge when I get home.

[15:10] I've been busy all day thus far. Initially I was trying to sort out with Meeting Maker why ther weren't going to give us any more trial code extensions even though I know about that DoS which they don't seem to be doing anything about. Then there was a machine to finish ghosting and do final setup on before getting it shipped out. After that I decided to have some lunch and try and chill out for a bit. Since lunch I've been trying to coordinate a lift to Stowmarket for climbing this evening, as well as shoehorning three 80GB drives and 320MB of RAM into a Dell Optiplex GX1 and get RedHat 9 onto it and in some kind of sanely updated manner. Don't ask.

[10:10] Karate last night was excellent. For me it was far better than the other club I tried a few weeks ago. Shaun and I arrived at the squash court it takes place at on Mondays well before everyone else and went through a kata or two before other people started arriving. In the end there were three black belts, Shaun and I as browns, a purple and a yellow. If I'd been the yellow belt I probably would have felt a bit nervous but he wasn't half bad at all. The sensei was a 5th Dan who reminded me very much of Gary Hartford (my first sensei in Manchester). In fact he knew Gary very well and told me that he'd now gained his 6th Dan. I don't know what it is about small, friendly scousers but they make excellent karateka.

So anyway, we warmed up and instantly I felt at home in that the warmup routine was exactly like I remembered from my University days. The following hour and a half was extremely enjoyable except for the immediate surfacing of my damaged right hamstring, or ligament or whatever it is which means I'll never really be able to do the splits completely again. Either way, I think Shaun and I did really qiute well. We've not lost it completely.

By the end we were both really quite hot but decided to spend a futher ten minutes running through all the kata from Kihon to Tekki Shodan to make sure we knew what we were doing. After that we both went home. I think cycling home after a session is going to be just the right kind of warming down exercise I need.

This morning I have a vague ache in my legs and a bruised knuckle from the kumite (sparing) part of the evening. And I really don't care.

[11:00] Some time last night Fotopic reached five million published pictures. The actual image was a pretty good one of some crop sprayer or fountain or something.

[15:00] It's enough to make you buy a car. I've just spent fifteen minutes trying to get information as to whether I can book a train journey to Scotland and back next week using a Super Advance Return and first of all been sent around in circles by National Rail Enquiries and then by my 'local' train company. It seems now that even though you can book it up to 18:00 the day before, there is no Super Advance Return available for the journey I want to make. The search continues.

[16:15] I don't think it's going to be next week now. Perhaps some time in September. I think, with some juggling and not caring quite so much when we go I may be able to get something for £55.00 Return, for us both. An Apex, I think. Time to do some thinking. It could be the best time to be honest; right after the last big bit of work for the summer, when everything should be settled in and working.

[16:30] Dum dum dum dum-de-dum dum-de-dum. NASA have spotted this in the Solar System. Remind you of anything...?

[11:45] Bitty morning, and I got in late too. A group of us went to Go Ape in Thetford Forest far too early on Saturday morning. I have to say it's the most fun I've had in a good long time. You can take a look at what it's all about by going to this site and stuff. I would have taken a camera but I didn't know how much risk I ran of getting it broken on the routes. I'll certainly be aiming to go again (in term time on a week day when we can do it a good few times and redo the best ones again) and getting some good action shots.

Once everyone was back safely on the ground again some people went for a walk while I and others headed back to get ready for an evening in Peterborough with Andrea who'd finally found a free weekend in her hectic social and sporting schedule. After dashing about like mad things, Elaine and I managed to get packed and cycled to the train station in time to get the same train as everyone else going from the same place.

The jounrney down was uneventful and the cycle to Andrea's house a nice way to stretch our legs. After putting up tents in the back garden for the night we got changed into our gladrags and headed out into Peterborough to go to a really rather nice chinese restaurant where nine of us managed to rack up a rather large bill between us. Embarassingly there was a bit of food left over at the end, but I think we did it justice. Rolling gently into the street we headed for a club where the music was loud and the dance floor packed. While most people danced the night away the morning's activities had taken their toll on Elaine and I and we borrowed Andrea's keys and walked home. It was a pleasant night and aside from shoes I'd not worn in a while a really funky time was had by all.

As I had the only keys to the house I sent Elaine to bed while I put on a DVD and tried to stay awake until everyone else arrived. I don't know what time it was when they did, but I was up and unlocking the door the firs time they knocked. Honest.

I headed out to the tent and after a few minutes was fast asleep, woken only now and then by the fact that even though Elaine had my skin mat sleeping mat and sleeping bag, the one I was in was still far too hot. By morning I was ready to get up and eat again, which I did once everyone else had stirred and were drinking tea and coffee. Realising that we needed to do some things back at the house, Elaine and I decided to make a move around 13:30 and cycled to the station to get home.

I don't know how much we achieved on getting home, but putting up the tent (wet from the rain during the night) in the garage was an experience and I'm pretty certain we went to bed feeling rather flaked out by a full weekend of excitement, food, cocktails and general madcap frippery. One of the better weekends this year.

Maybe that's why I had so much trouble getting up this morning and was forty-five minutes late for work. No-one noticed, or cared. As it is I've already organised £905 worth of telecoms work to be done and have some machines being built ready to ship out to the three new people we're due fairly shortly. I actually don't think I'm going to have time to go out for lunch. I will be making sure that the boiler man who's going to the house this afternoon doesn't charge too much for whatever is stopping the heating from coming on though.

It's also time to try out another Karate club this evening, with Shaun. If all goes according to plan I'll let you know how that goes tomorrow at some point.

[10:00] Surprisingly the six machines I ordered from Dell on the twentieth have just arrived. This is by way of being rather amazing. It gives me something to do today at any rate. I checked my email briefly last night when we got home and noticed all kinds of things that needed doing with regards to phones and new people arriving. I should write out exactly what I need to be doing and work through it today. That should make the time fly by. First things first though; I've uploaded selected pictures from yesterday's event to the gallery into a collection entitled Elaine's Graduation which you can look at if you're at all interested. The descriptive text tells you but I'll mention it here too; that the many duplicates are mainly so that those relatives who wish to get prints done can choose their favourites, rather than because the photographer didn't have much imagination. Anyway, there you go. Time to get on with some work.

[16:30] Aside from having a nice lunch in the sun with Shaun I've spent the entire afternoon updating all our DNS records on Central's database. Things make a bit more sense now. I've also been working on the telephone system and getting quotes for new lines, physical line movements and other such stuff. As it is I'm knackered and am off home for the weekend. We'll be going to Go Ape on Saturday morning and Andrea's on Saturday afternoon for the night. Sunday there's a good chance we'll be going to Shaun's to practice kata and get ready for Karate on Monday. Phew!

[23/07/2001 - 09:30] Wonderful day. Aside from getting up at 07:00 in the morning everything went perfectly. I dragged a protesting Elaine out of bed and, owing to forethought on both our parts last night, had everything pretty much ready to go. We cycled down to the station after I'd had something to eat. Elaine had pretty much no appetite. The ticket machines refused to give us the tickets we'd priced up last night so we had to go and get them from the ticket office. This meant we missed the train we would have liked to have caught, but in the end that didn't matter because the train we did catch got us to Doncaster exactly five minutes after Elaine's father arrived at Doncaster by car.

Once we'd met up we drive to Sheffield and headed for 'Centertainment' where we could have something to eat before the afternoon stuff happened. We settled on Old Orleans and wolfed something down before getting changed in the toilets. I don't think the other few patrons of the establishment were ready for Elaine's father coming out in complete Scottish national dress, brogues and all.

We drove to the center of town and parked on a side street and walked to the pick-up point for robes and hoods. Elaine looked wonderful in hers and, I think, began to enjoy the fact she was finally officially getting the hell out of there. We walked back to the Octagon Theatre and took our places for the Congregation. On looking at the programme we found that Elaine was on her own for receiving her particular degree, so had about a fifth of a page to herself and was also fifth to go up. She stood out, at any rate.

The Congregation took place, things were said, degrees were awarded and the address by the Chancellor was suitably short and pleasant and short. After it was all over Elaine and I went looking for the graduation photographer who seemed to think he knew what was what when it came to how academic dress was worn. Rather than get into an argument I retreated and let him do his job, even if he wanted to put the tassle on Elaine's mortarboard in the wrong place.

All of us suffering from heat-exhaustion (Elaine's father in 9 metres of kilt fabric second only to me in black jeans) we headed for the car to change and get out of town. As we left Sheffield the rain began to fall. Quite heavily. Then very, very heavily. Luckily we were blessed with a sensible road full of drivers and everyone dropped speed and increased distances accordingly. For a passenger it was more fun than fraught. The further south we travelled the better the weather got though, so by the time we arrived home there'd been no rain and the weather was warm and dry. It been late and all of us being a bit tired we simply opened some champagne, looked at the photos on my camera and then went to bed.

[11:10] I'm this close to not doing anything else work-related today. After working out how to get the firmware for my switches from 3Com for free (don't ask, I was just being numb) I downloaded the currently installed and most recent versions and wrote up some documentation on what I was doing. I then let people know what I was doing, set up a TFTP server and did a trial update on one of the standby switches. It all went perfectly. I did some tests, felt OK and began to update all the live switches. One by one they went, upgrading, rebooting, and reporting back; Success. I finished documenting what I'd done, let the users know that it was all over and tried not to think about the amount of karma I'd just used up.

Still, it was something to get my teeth in to for a bit. Those PCs I ordered yesterday will be arriving with the correct delivery address on them this time. I don't think I mentioned that the last two came with the wrong address on them and nearly got returned. Anyway, the next set should be fine. We also have a 'spare' on which I can try running Oracle a bit more sensibly than on the extremely underpowered machine I have at the moment. It's just not a sensible box to try something like that on.

[16:55] I'm off for the day now. Tomorrow I'm in Sheffield for Elaine's graduation ceremony and stuff. I'll be wearing trousers don't-you-know and maybe even something smart (you never know). Hopefully there'll be photographs and such like. We're getting the train up there in the morning and Elaine's dad is driving us back in the evening and staying the night. Saves on train fares, keeps everyone happy. Less stress everywhere. Marvellous.

[12:45] I must be due some bad karma sometime soon. This morning I have installed (on the same Windows 2000 machine) a parallel Zip100, USB Zip750, USB2 CD-RW, USB HP DeskJet and a USB Epson scanner. Also installed were seven bespoke applications, as well as Office 2000 and an MUA. I also joined the machine to the domain, installed A/V and got the user who used the machine I replaced logged in with everything working. It's a good morning's work but I can't help wondering if I've either missed something or left myself open to some really bad payback some time soon.

[17:00] So, now that I have new 3Com switch 4400s it seems I can't upgrade the firmware (even in the event of a DoS or other security flaw being discovered) unless I pay hard cash for it. Which is nice. I've ordered a few more PCs to replace old and slow ones. They'll probably arrive some time towards the end of next week. That'll mean the last of the sub-500MHz machines are EOLed and I'll have a few to play with/sell off.

[09:30] What is it with parents. First of all I pull very slowly out of my driveway (as normal) and begin cycling. A small girl on a bike with her mum on a cycle behind her isn't looking where she's going and is drifting more and more towards me the further I pull in to the curb. Only when we're a few inches apart does her mum scream at her to look where she's going. We don't make contact.

I turn left, and then left again and onto a fairly busy A-road. I'm almost past the school when I notice a mother and her two children crossing diagonally from right to left (seen from above, from bottom right to top left). I know I've given them plenty of room, until the child furthest from me (behind her mum) begins running, putting my physical distance calculations off. I shout in surprise and get screamed at by the mother. I pull over and am subjected to a tirade of abuse. When I try to respond her large white boyfriend/husband begins to physically intimidate me. Any further comments are met with a loud "shut up!" from the woman who cannot accept that while she had right of way once on the road, I'd given plenty of space and it was her child who ran from behind what I would consider parallel to me to in front of my wheels.

Rather then get into an actual fight with the curly-shiny-mulleted podgy man with the gold sovereign rings and ear rings, I cycled off. I'll be fine once I've calmed down.

[10:10] Other things that happened over the weekend include getting up late on Saturday and finally having some time to chill out for a while. Elaine had painted most of the lounge white by the time I got home on Friday. I gave her a hand before we collapsed for the evening. In the daylight it didn't look too bad, although we won't be leaving it that colour. Anything's better than the orange and it'll mean we need less paint when we choose a colour that costs a bit more than white. So yeah, we got up late and pottered about a bit before cycling down to the station to make our way to Norwich for Ellie and Greg's BBBQ (sic). While in the shop at the station waiting for Keith and picking up food for the afternoon I found forty pounds on the floor. Not knowing whose it was Elaine and I waited outside the shop for about ten minutes watching for people who looked concerned about losing money. After a while, as time was getting short we gave up and got on the train, deciding to spend the money on other people.

Keith just made it to the station in time and onto the train in a bit of a lather. The journey was uneventful and after getting a little lost in town we began the cycle out to the house. It didn't take long and it was a pleasure to cycle somewhere that had a few more hills than were we live.

The party was a lot of fun. We spent some of the money on food for everyone and had a good time using the barbeques until the rain came down in absolute sheets. While Ben (another one) resolutely stood outside and cooked off the meat that was still on there everyone else stayed inside and dried off. The party went on and Elaine and I decided we couldn't head off for the last train as we're kind of only just arrived there. While I crashed out about 01:00, Keith and Elaine and the rest of the people carried on for a few hours more.

In the morning we headed out at around 09:00 to get a train back and make something of the day. I can't really believe we passed up a free cooked breakfast but I'm starting to feel a bit unfit so in a way it was the best thing to do. We had no trouble cycling back into Norwich and found the station easily. Unfortunately, with an hour to wait we were forced to buy breakfast in the Budgens at the station and then take some time to stare at the ironwork that made up the station's roof.

Back home we did a bit of shopping in town. Elaine got a new wallet, I got some new shorts and then we went home and collapsed. While I made some bread, did the washing up and generally tidied the lounge, the party animal known as Elaine had a sleep on the sofa. To top off a pretty great weekend we watched three episodes of The West Wing (S4) before bed.

All in all a pretty great weekend. Now there's Monday to deal with, machines to fettle and Elaine's interview this afternoon. I'm really hoping for the best in this one because it's structural rather than civil engineering and more of what she's good at and likes doing. I'm also doing another medical experiment over lunch and this afternoon which should bring in a little bit of cash and advance someone's research. I don't do the unknown injections and strange substances onces (which don't really exist), more the looking at things and people working out what my brain's doing ones.

[14:50] Back from the experiment early on account of writing very quickly. I haven't put pen to paper quite so much in years. My hand hurts a little. I managed to ring Elaine just before I went in to wish her luck. She'll ring me when it's over and we'll see how it panned out. For the moment I've got another PC to swap out so I'll get on with that.

[11:30] Went to Karate last night. An interesting experience. I didn't realise until I got home last night and checked my KUGB grading booklet but my last grading (to 1st Kyu) was in 1997, almost eight years ago! Where did the time go? It really doesn't seem so long since I was in Manchester, a few weeks away from doing my Dan grading. Things changed when I moved here.

Anyway, last night was in a sports hall nearish my house. The sensei was nice, and the session small. I thought it lacked the regime/discipline that my KUGB sessions had had and the instruction differed from what I'd been used to. I think this was mainly due to the fact that I hadn't really trained in a long time, I wasn't quite so up on my Japanese and another sensei was taking loud children at the other side of the hall. But, aside from the usual big chunk of skin that comes off my right big toe whenever I start Karate after a bit of time off, and feeling a little out of shape I think I did fairly well. I'm going to try the other sessions (no children at those ones) and see how it goes. With luck I should also be able to convince Elaine to come along too, and possibly Shaun if he has the time to spare.

It was good to know I hadn't lost most of my flexibility (although the suspected tear I have to the inside tendon of my right thigh jumped up straight away and said 'hi') and my accuracy and speed are still there. Style and control are right up the spout though.

This morning I dropped a HDD with RH ES3 from a Dell GX1 into a Dell GX270 and booted it. I was coloured very impressed when Kudzu removed all the old hardware configurations, added in all the new hardware and just carried right on booting without a care in the world. Not bad at all.

[10:30] Shaun and I are hopefully getting our arses in gear about returning to karate again. We've only been talking about it for the past six months. With luck we'll head along to one of the places we've shortlisted soon and see whether we like the teaching style or not. It'll be good to get an honest sweat on again and get back up the level I was not so many years ago. For cardiovascular fitness you couldn't beat two hours of kata and kumite. It'll also give me the chance to try out karate with contact lenses, something I always bemoaned the lack of previously.

In a fit of 'needing to do something in the evening' Elaine (and I, a bit) painted one wall of the lounge white last night. Specifically the window wall. It's already made the window look huge. Doing the whole room in a light colour is going to make it seem like we're sitting in a room twice as large. Mostly the reason we're doing it is that coloured paint is expensive and white paint isn't. Covering the darker orange with white will make things a bit cheaper in the long run, given the size of the walls.

I ran HFNetChkPro patching at 01:00, 03:00 and 05:00 this morning for most of the machines in the building. Naturally I forgot to close my own open files and lost some useful notes I'd been jotting down. Ce la vie.

And finally for the moment, Elaine has a job interview this afternoon, so here's hoping on that score.

[15:10] You are in a twisty maze of Oracle configurations, failed installs and leftover stuff that you aren't sure if you should delete or not, all alike and very confusing. Learning this stuff without any kind of structured teaching is really tough and my head hurts. Nothing seems to work despite my best efforts and it's too hot in here. I'm this close to reinstalling the box and starting again. I just wish I knew why certain parts of it refused to work.

[11:15] Naturally now that I have the machine set up, the groups and users created and the kernel parameters set. Now that I've got Oracle to install and chosen a setup that'll allow me to play. Now that I've done all the prep-work and I'm ready to use the DB Creation Wizard. Now it tells me that there won't be enough room, even if I drop all but one of the undo logs.

So now I'm migrating the entire install to another disk with more space on it and starting again. If nothing else it's teaching me about preparation, reading the caveats that hadn't seemed so important at the time and bedding down some of the more esoteric settings that I hadn't really remembered terribly well. So, that's my morning at the moment. Redoing ES3 and then starting on Oracle 10g again.

In other news Elaine's still hard at work looking for gainful employment and has been contacted (finally) by a company she last talked to over a month ago. They want her in for an interview on Monday which'll be for a department which deals with highways (boo!) and structures (yay!). If nothing else it'll be a job in the right technical area so she'd be keeping her hand in in that regard.

We're also ringing around boiler people at the moment because it looks like the thermocouple has gone wrong or the jets are clogged on the boiler which does our central heating. Best to get it done now, before we actually need it.

And in even more good news Elaine's had a ring from a place where she was hoping to get a job as a teaching assistant in engineering disciplines. They'd like to see her for an interview tomorrow. The money's not great but it could also be the start of something good. We'll just have to hope something comes of one or other of these things. If not there are still plenty of other opportunities bound to come her way.

[15:05] *burp* Thai food is nice, if a bit too spicy sometimes.

[08:00] Everyone has come down on me like a ton of bricks for what I said in my 10:00 journal entry yesterday. Feeling quite demoralised by losing another job opportunity and by other personal matters in my life at the moment I wrote that I thought that in some areas I (I didn't know obviously) believed I was stronger than that person. These areas were ones I was reasonably sure they'd not been doing for a while. I then wrote that I guessed they weren't the areas the panel were interested in (seeing as how I didn't get the post). The fact that I followed it with "Or perhaps I'm just deluding myself" I hoped would show people that perhaps I was deluding myself and even in those areas I'd obviously been well outclassed. It was an off-the-cuff remark born out of frustration at my lot, I didn't expect it to explode in my face. But it has. I've pissed off at least half a dozen people. People whose opinions matter to me. I've greatly annoyed perhaps a few more and left myself with egg on my face, again.

I'll apologise here as well as in the emails I've sent and basically try to get on with dealing with life. It's probably not worth continuing this journal in its current form seeing as every time I write something personal in it, someone has a go at me because they read the words, and not the sentiment behind them. I thought I was a fairly good writer, all things considered, but every time I put finger to key someone takes issue with me and I ostracise myself further.

I'm just getting tired of losing friends now.

[12:15] After an entire morning having a go at a) disaster recovery steps on my life and b) learning lots about RedHat Enterprise 3 I never knew before (the Sysstat stuff is far more involved than I thought, for a start), I'm going to go and have lunch at 12:30 with Elaine and Co. and try to bed some of it down. Of course after lunch it's back to it again.

[17:25] This afternoon we have mainly been installing RedHat ES3 from CD, updating OpenSSH and securing the machine from those nasty internet people who get up to no good. We've also been reading about the differences between ES3 and 9. I've been reading through the monster PDFs on (free signup may be required) as well as running through some of the standard things I try on new installations. I've also been fiddling with the Oracle 10g files in preparation for installation tomorrow. It runs, which is more than it did under RH9. There are hacks to make it run under RH9, but I've never played with ES3, which is why I'm doing what I'm doing. All the kernel tweaks are in place now, the user's set up and basically we're go. Custom install time tomorrow.

Still a bit worried about the shortage of RAM and disk space though.

[10:00] Unsuprisingly it turns out I didn't get the job I interviewed for the week before last. It went to someone else I know though. I think I'm much stronger in many areas than him, but I guess there weren't areas the interview panel were interested in. Or perhaps I'm just deluding myself. Either way, no job for me. It feels like there's no way to get out of the mainly Windows administration area I'm in without going for something on at least half the pay. Both the places I would have killed to work at have now turned me down. Still, there are things to do here (now and then) so there's time between them (when I'm not going mad with boredom) to at least do some theory on things that might help me do better in the next job interviews I go for. Even so, I'm feeling a bit demoralised at the moment.

Elaine went to the doctor this morning to have a proper look through the letter Sheffield sent about her MRI results. Nothing much new on that score. We're waiting for her notes to come down from Sheffield still so she can get a neurologist consult here. As soon as that happens I'd assume that the lumbar puncture appointment will be set up. I learnt an important lesson in my last relationship which I've been working with in this one. Anything Elaine has to go through I'm going to be there with her. And if possible I'm going to go through the same things she does so I know how she's feeling. There's no way she'll be going through this on her own.

Job hunting for us both continues to continue.

[15:35] I'm getting hold of a copy of RH-ES 3 so I can start getting some experience of Oracle. At the moment all I have is a RH9 box, but Oracle 10g isn't too happy with that so I'm going to have to reinstall.

[09:45] There was an absolutely torrential downpour as I was cycling home last night in my shorts and T-shirt. Lightning and thunder had recently made an appearance and it was looking extremely grubby outside. Still, cycling home when you know there's warm towels and, more importantly, warm person waiting for you makes it quite enjoyable. Of course I was completely soaked but I thought everything important had stayed dry. While my mobile was OK my watch appeared to give up the ghost some time during the evening when I took it off and left it on top of one of my speakers to dry. Not that the location would help, just that I wouldn't have a wet watch strap on my wrist. So now I am watchless and find it very odd. I may journey in to town at lunch today and see if I can actually find something to replace a watch I've had since at least my second year of university.

I'm rather displeased with NTL at the moment. I don't know whether it was the storm last night or simply that their broadband network is duff but the first time I've ever put it under any amount of stress it seems to have less resilience than west string. SCPs are having to be constantly restarted and the other downloads I have going are suffering mightily. Still, there's no rush on what I'm downloading so I can wait.

Someone emailed me to say I should think about removing Copyleft from my O'Really pages as they seem to have really gone under/ceased trading in any meaningful fashion. This is a real shame as they were the first people to really give me a break when it came to getting my designs out to people. For the moment I've put up some changes on the front page of the O'Really area of the site with the idea that this'll dissuade people from trying to order through them. I'm also on the lookout for a new US-based distributor for my designs. If anyone feels like prodding ThinkGeek or other sites who may be up for it until they contact me then I'd be more than happy to entertain them. If you have any other ideas then please email me on [email protected] with the subject line "US O'Really Distributor" and I'll take it from there. For the moment though it's only The Register.

[10:40] Elaine just rang her doctor. The MRI scan has shown up 'abnormalities' on the optic nerve. This is the one that was affected by her bout of optic neuritis a few months ago. This seems to indicate an increased risk in her developing multiple sclerosis 'at some point'. They're recommending that she go for a spinal tap some time soon. When she asked the doctor how far she should take this the doctor recommended that she go "as far as you feel is necessary to get a result". OK then. Elaine's notes haven't arrived from Sheffield yet, which is very poor. However she has been recommended to a consultant at the teaching hospital here. She's got a doctor's appointment on Monday and I guess we take it from there.

[10:45] Oh, no news yet on whether or not I have this new job. I'm thinking that I haven't got it, or at least that I'm not the first choice. If I'm second choice (yeah, right) then I doubt I'll get a look-in. Whoever is first choice would be mad to pass up this opportunity so I guess once again I'm pipped at the post. Elaine's applying for more jobs today. Maybe one of us will have some luck.

[15:15] Another odd day. I don't know why but it seems to be a really slack week at the moment. There's very little for me to do at the moment. I've used the time to get a load of small things that needed doing done, but I'm running out of them rapidly.

I'm still on the lookout for a Win32 command line password randomiser that allows you to specify the user and the length of randomised password, write it to the Windows 2000 Active Directory (I'm pretty sure I can do that with some WScripting using oUser.SetPassword and some other fooery) and then append the result to a text file in the form "". If someone feels like writing me one (portable Perl's fine) as my programming skills really aren't up to it, then I'd be more than grateful, I'd probably be able to pay you with a T-shirt or something. My attempts to do something have resulted in a lot of wasted time and very little structured progress.

Annoyingly my NTL cable modem connection appears to be acting up the first time I want to use it with any seriousness.

Climbing last night was good. Plenty of exercise, plenty of new routes and a pullup area as well. For the price well worth the travel.

[15:15] It's been a very quiet day today. Initially I was asked to work out why one of the databases wasn't showing the information someone wanted it to show when it spat out records to a mail merged Word document, but when I offered to take the thing apart and look at the queries to work out why it wasn't working I was waved off. Fine by me, I have other things to be getting on with.

Really tired again this morning, not entirely sure why. Elaine's hunting for more jobs again today. I've already posted her application to work here in the institution as well as sending off other stuff after making illicit use of the photocopier. I'm so bad.

For the first time in a while we'll be going climbing with Cormac this evening. That's a bit of a car journey away in Stowmarket. I have no idea what the wall's like... actually I'll take a look once this entry's live. Either way I doubt we'll be home until it's late tonight. This is a shame as I'm hoping to set up eMule on one of the machines at home. I would put it on the linux box I use as the router, only the only eMule/eDonkey linux command line application I can find requires glibc2.2 and RedHat 6.2 (don't ask, it's stable) ships with 2.1. Still, cest la vie.

[10:45] For some reason my entries on LJ still aren't showing up on people's friends lists as yet. Not quite sure why as I've turn off the backdate flag while leaving backdate entry on (I need to control the date/time entered).

[12:15] I do believe I've managed to get JLJ to do what I want now. Turns out that the "backdate entry: yes" flag doesn't just prompt you for the date, it also explicitly turns on LJ's "backdate" flag, even if you put "backdate: no" in your RC file. This is because "backdate" isn't actually a configurable option, it's set internally when you use "backdate entry". Which is annoying. Anyway, I've stuck in a few lines which now look for "backdate" in your RC file and if it's set to "no" it then unsets the backdate variable whether or not "backdate entry" is set. Which is nice.

[15:55] We ran out of West Wing episodes last night. There doesn't seem to be a reliable source for a date at which cable/terrestrial television will start showing it again, either. When it does the problem is going to be that it'll be season five. We've only just finished season 3. There seems to be a few West Wing eDonkey sites around with season 4 available. While I'm waiting for my preorder of season 4 to arrive from Play I'm going to see what happens there.

In between work I've been playing with the box that's eventually going to replace the primary BOFHcam box. I even swapped in the Bt848 card from the secondary camera server to see if that side of things was ready to go. It is. All I need now is a reason/excuse to spend some time not doing work to do the actual swap and final configuration. It probably won't happen any time soon.

In other news there's been no communications from Meeting Maker about the DoS I found a few months ago. We won't be buying licenses until there's a fix for this. Despite the usefulness of the thing and the lack of extra bloat it has over other shared online diary applications I cannot spend money on something that anyone in the world can break whenever they like.

[12:30] One of the better weekends in a long time. Friday evening was all about relaxation, more West Wing episodes and generally decompressing from the week. On Saturday we were actually up and around fairly early on. The weather was extremely changable but we decided to cycle out to see Shaun, Linda and Tom anyway. After cycling against the wind we watched Tom running around the lounge and remember that only a few months ago he'd been unable to stand and could barely crawl with any real coordination. Babies grow up very quickly. Shaun looked absolutely knackered after a tough week but he still had enough energy to play around with Tom. It was the village Day where they lived so the lot of us went out with Tom in the pram to see what was happening. Linda took a turn on one of the stalls so Elaine and I volunteered to wander off with Tom for half an hour or so to give them both a break. Walking around with a toddler in a pram was a very strange experience. It's certainly something I could do, y'know, eventually. Just not right now. Elaine claims I'd be a great father. I have no idea myself.

After we all came back from the Day (avoiding the occasional cloud-bursts) we chilled out for a while before Elaine and I cycled home again. Having had plenty of exercise for the day we decided we owed it to ourselves to vegetate for the rest of the day. Which we did.

Sunday was all about preparing for Go Ape in the evening. Unfortunately some guy had an accident a few hours before we were due to arrive so the walk Elaine and I had to the station ended up at the cinema where we watched Shrek 2 before going home. It's a good film, crammed full of one-liners and laugh out loud jokes. I'm not quite sure whether it's better than the original, but the animation was certainly impressive.

It turns out this morning that most people are on holiday this week. This makes job a whole lot easier and I can spend a bit of time putting more of 2002 on LJ as well as looking at upgrading the BOFHcam servers. Go Ape's been rescheduled for probably the 24th.

[15:00] Right at this moment I'm assuming I didn't get the job I interviewed for on Thursday morning. It's getting close to the end of the working day and they tend to tell people as soon as they can. Damn.

[09:20] Right this minute I'm working out how to make JLJ hide the huge number of entries I'm backfilling with from you all (so those people reading this on LJ don't get spammed) while making sure that the current entries do appear. I think I've got it.

[10:30] I'm on a list to do with MRI volunteering. It's not restricted to where I live. Someone just posted the Scariest Email Ever from a researcher to it:
I am seeking volunteers for my either of two studies. The first involves 2 MRI scanning sessions at XXXXXXX. During the first scan subjects would receive mildly painful electrical impulses to the lower abdomen, in the second mildly painful electrical impulses to the rectum (via a thin catheter) which would be inserted either by myself, Dr Debbie Painter or the subject depending on his/her preference. Subjects would be paid for time lost off work and travel expenses. In practice this usually works out at 50. If you would like more information/ would be willing to volunteer please contact me via the e-mail/phone extension below or ring XXXXXX XXXXXX.

The second experiment involves 3 MRI scans. During 2 of the scans the subject would receive short-lived mild-moderately unpleasant heat stimuli via a 2*2cm thermal resistor to the left foot or lower back. During the third scan the a small (2cm) balloon would be inserted intothe rectum either by myself, Dr Debbie Painter or the subject depending on his/her preference and inflated to mild-moderately unpleasant levels. Subjects would be paid for time lost off work and travel expenses. In practice this usually works out at 50. If you would like more information/ would be willing to volunteer please contact me via the e-mail/phone extension below or ring XXXXX XXXXXX.

Kind regards,

Ow. I think I'll pass on that one.

[16:35] I've put up a few more months' worth of journal on LJ. We're well in to 2002 now. I've also spent a little time getting a RedHat 9 box up, running, secure and up to date with some of the applications I want for it to be able to take over as the new BOFHcam box. I'm fairly serious about this happening now, I just need the time to do it.

Other than that it's been quiet here. I've allocated an IP to a visiting machine, watched the rain fall and the lightning flash and generally tried to relax given it's the end of the week. This weekend I hope to cycle out to visit Shaun, Linda and Tom tomorrow and make my way to a 'Go Ape' centre on Sunday. Just have to hope the rain stays off. Speaking of which I'm going to head off now and try not to get drenched.

[11:10] Well, I've just had an interview for a Unix support post here within the institution. I had to answer some questions, then do a presentation, then do some more questions. My presentation was on a brief history of cheese. I know that I could have done something on climbing, or karate or something technical that I knew more about but cheese was the first thing to come in to my head and I decided that that was what I was going to stick with. I won't hear anything until Monday, so for now it's just back to the grindstone and getting things done here.

[14:00] That's the whole of 2003 now on LJ. It's tiring work, but I still can't find a sensible way to script doing it. At the moment I'm doing a month at a time offline and then flushing it to the server. Seems to be the most sensible way and stops me from making too many mistakes.

[16:45] I've spent the afternoon installing someone's "Lamborghini of mice" (a Logitech cordless of some description) and using one of the spare machines to build a replacement camera and web server for the BOFHcam cluster. I really do think it's time to move off RedHat 5.2 to something a little more modern.