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October's Journal
December's Journal

[01/12/2004 - 09:10] One of those rare things; a day off. The people coming around to do the gutter turned up around 10:30 as I was setting up the camera at home to be a security camera (images uploaded to a friendly server). While I struggled to work out why my ipchains weren't working (it's -j not -J) they cleared out the old cruft, dried and dressed the tin lining in the trough, removed some times and inserted EPDM (pond-liner style rubber) stuck down with some kind of super-mastic.

Before he started I got to help them set up their scaffolding and see into the gutter for myself. I won't describe what was in there, suffice to say I think things are going to flow a little better now. Unfortunately being that high up allowed me to see the state of my garage roof. It's the job I should have had done as soon as I arrived back in January, but was too poor to do. I think now's the time, before it gets any worse. The people I had round have said they'll give me another quote for it (they were one of the places I went for one the first time).

Anyway, gutter done, hopefully no more damp on the rear wall any more. Just need to pay them now.

[17:00] Among the things I've done today have been: working out why Analog never noticed the agent information from our Apache logs before now. Duh. I've also done a fair amount of stuff on the web site again, as well as creating a simple favicon.ico to keep certain browsers happy and the logs a bit emptier.

The PFY turned up this afternoon at 15:00 even though I was expecting her to be away all day. It's meant I've been able to talk to her about stuff that may happen tomorrow while I'm at home waiting for my gutter to be lined.

One thing I did get sorted today was the ghosting of my PC router at home from a small and cramped disk to a much larger and (more importantly) quieter one. There was some excitement with non-booting lilo configurations before I got my act together and created a rescue floppy to help things along.

[16:55] For a Friday it's been pretty good, all things considered. Some new kit turned up (the mini PC for the audio visual installation, some other stuff) and I spent a little while fine-tuning the Windows XPSP2 ghost image we have for new machines that leave the building for outlying installations.

For much of the afternoon I've been researching kickstart servers (don't ask) and crossing some more stuff off the website snagging list that the PFY created yesterday. I've been going through some of the PFY's pages and correcting some things she doesn't seem to have done correctly. It's possible I'm just been pedantic but this is a public-facing website and I'm damned if it's not going to be Right, Correct and as much as possible Error Free and Consistent Viewing Experience.

That's my dream anyway.

[26/11/2004 - 16:45] Did I really not do a journal entry? I must either have been really busy or really bored. Probably both, at the same time. It is possible, honest. Anyway, it was a fairly uneventful day. The PFY and I spent most of the morning discussing how the new site design was going and what still needed to be done. She's printed out a list of the things that still need to be done and aside from a bit of fiddling with computers we've been working through those.

Thursday evening is films evening.

[16:00] Some work on web sites, some machines returned and reghosted, not much else. It didn't really get properly light here today, which was a bit disconcerting. We're really heading in to winter now, it seems. Climbing tonight.

I think I finally have a taker for the BBC Model B that's been sitting outside my office for the past few months. If I can get rid of the Apple Macs there too I'll be well on the way to cleaning this office of all its old and out-moded equipment (except the stuff with novelty value).

[14:50] The custodians' machine died this morning. Just a hard disk with a terminal case of the clicks but we were going to replace the entire thing anyway so we took the time to reorganise the corner of the room where camera II sits and use one of the computers there to replace the broken one. The PFY now has more room in her corner.

I've been playing with License Manager and Inter-Site Topology Generation for the rest of the day, as well as fiddling with web pages and generally not getting much done. It's been one of those days thus far.

[15:00] Before I forget, and don't ask me why but I found a far, far, far better version of Microsoft's "Save As Web Page..." thingy. You can get it from the Microsoft Office Update site and, while it doesn't do compliant code, it is a lot less full of crap than things saved with that option used to be.

Anyway, this weekend was marvellous. Saturday was spent mostly in bed until we decided it was time to get up. For the rest of the day I did something I haven't done in a long time; I played some computer games. Specifically I played Homeworld: Cataclysm. After warming up on a skirmish against the computer I was a bit annoyed to find that none of my saved games would load. I'll have to look into that later. Anyway, while I was indulging myself Elaine tidied the spare bedroom a bit, something that's needed doing for a while now. By the evening we were ready for a bit of more strenuous relaxation and headed out with Cormac to see The Incredibles. I strongly recommend you see this as it's a wonderful film.

Sunday was all about climbing. We took the train to London and I took the time to work on the web site I'm doing for someone. Once at the wall not only did I lead again for the first time in ages, Elaine climbed some 5Bs and did them well. We climbed with Will when he turned up (with a rope) before heading back on the train with a Burger King meal to stop us folding in half.

This morning when I got in all of the servers had event logs full of all kinds of Weird Shit. Since installing the first server in the ADS here I've had less than three problems with the server infrastructure, this morning there were at least fifty warning and error events in every server's logs. It looked very much like some kind of DNS failure somewhere, in addition to the backup on one of the servers failing too. Central couldn't tell me anything about DNS problems in town so I'm inclined to believe it was all to do with the dodgy wall socket we have here that one of the servers was connected to. I say was because I've done some rejiggling and that port is no longer being used and should be again until someone comes in and tests it.

I'm going to leave the servers alone today (aside from one workstation re-ghost, an Office reinstallation and two antivirus reinstallations and see if things remain settled over night. If they are I'll chalk it up to the KVM installation on Friday disturbing a loose connection.

Aside from working out what's been happening to the servers today I've been doing some more (X)HTML and generally keeping the printers running.

[17:20] This morning was fairly empty until I remembered I could use one of the machines sitting around to do the new image that the PFY isn't doing, if you see what I mean. Once that was done I started on creating a Windows XP version of the image (the former being a Windows 2000-based one). This was a little trickier as I've not had much experience with XP. Still, the new version of Sysprep seems quite functional.

In the middle of all of that the new KVM arrived which allowed me to move the one server that's on the wrong side of the room over to the other side to share one of the decent 15" LCDs we have for server duty. That saves us having another 17" CRT running thus keeping the heat down a bit more in the summer. Not that I'll care really as I won't be here. However it's good to leave the place in a nice state for the next person. If there is one.

I had a quick meeting with the guy who'll be running the installation of the A/V rack in one of our rooms during December. Everything seems on track, now we just have to wait for a good time to do it.

One of the PCs here is having a tantrum over its antivirus installation. However it's minor enough that I won't deal with it until Monday morning. Not to mention that the user on that machine isn't going to be going home for a good few hours yet, it's Friday and I am.

[13:45] Ooops.

This morning I have mostly been doing XHTML, ordering PCs and writing a justification of why my post does actually, really, honestly need to be filled after I vacate it at the end of this year. I didn't even mention the fact that the PFY is going on maternity leave "mid-January" and then they'll have no-one unless they get their fingers out and actually decide to advertise the position. It's insane that they're prevaricating about this; it's a no brainer. Without someone in my post they place Won't Work, despite all the effort I've put in to make the place automated.

Still, their funeral.

[17:15] It's odd, in the last few weeks I've been working harder in this job than I have in the past year total. Admittedly it's mostly been HTML and documentation, but the site is coming together wonderfully now and it looks so clean and neat. It doesn't make for exciting experience but I know that it's something that'll last at least the next few years or so and should be a lot more pleasant to work with than what we're replacing.

At Elaine's workplace she's encountering her first case of frobbing. There's a work colleague who appears to delight in fiddling with stuff he knows nothing about, and it's causing major problems for people. I've given what help and advice I can to her, but what can you do other than kill someone who starts pointing with your mouse while you're typing?

Anyway, after another hard day's typing, recoding and validating, I'm off for a damned good climb and then some grub.

[16:00] The first quote arrived for the gutter relining. It's not cheap. Then again it's not a tiny job. I guess a lot of the money is because they have to set up scaffolding and they're working about eight meters up in the air and there's a very real danger of falling off. Plus they'll be pulling my roof tiles out and stuff. I'm not particularly happy with the price, but I think the current sole quoter is a sound person and looks like he knows what he's doing. If I don't hear anything from the other person I had round I'll go with this one.

Otherwise I've been doing more HTML for the work site. It's really quite neat and tidy how we're doing it this time. I think people are going to be quite impressed when we go live. We're intending to do it shortly before the beginning of December (if things go according to plan).

[10:30] As we were going to bed last night Elaine noticed some damp on the wall at the top of the stairs pretty much right underneath where the finlock guttering I have ends. This is annoying and quite worrying. Consequently I've been on the phone all morning trying to find someone nearby who can come and give me a quote for having the gutters cleaned and lined, probably with aluminium, but possibly with some kind of felt membranious lining thing.

Other than that we had a quiet weekend. Elaine didn't quite manage to get the new clothes she was after other than fifteen pairs of new socks (useful!) but she did make apple pie and we did watch the first four episodes of The West Wing season 6. I'm hopeful Jon and Donna had a nice party at the weekend as well as Ellie at hers. I wish we could have been there.

I've got another experiment to attend at 12:45 today, then I'll be off home to wait for two different people to come around and do quotations. I'll also be asking my next door neighbour who he had to do his guttering as he's got aluminium lining in his.

[12:15] I've been trying with an old version of Partition Magic to resize a Windows 2000 setup running on an SATA drive. I don't think version 4.0 is really able to deal with what's happening inside the NTFS tables.

The day's been pretty quiet otherwise. There's not a while lot I can do today without getting in far too deeply and leaving things hanging over the weekend. This isn't the way I like to work so I think it's about time I did some work on some of the more easily suspendable projects that are awaiting my attention.

We're staying in town this weekend on account of not really being in a cash-rich situation right at the moment. It means we're going to be missing not one but two parties we would have loved to go to (some people we haven't seen in a while), but unfortunately needs must and all that. With luck the new year will see an improvement in that area and we can start going to see people rather than hoping they're able to come to us instead.

[17:10] I spent most of the morning getting up to speed on some documents I needed to review for the AV installation we're hoping to have done before Christmas. Once that was under my belt I emailed the people who need to know saying we'd like to go ahead please, with all the bells and whistles thank you very much.

I wandered down the road to take part in another psychology experiement at around 11:00 and was back for about 13:30. For a bit of the afternoon I had another chunk of HTML coding to do which seemed to go pretty quickly. Now that I have the routine down it's just a case of doing the partitioning of the master document, saving as a web page *shudder* and then stripping out all the bad HTML that Microsoft put in and sorting out the typesetting, in a manner of speaking. The person I'm doing these pages for came in just as I was finishing this set and I got the money aspect out in the open. For over 100 pages of text and images I'm giving them a pretty damned good rate. Even so it should certainly help with some of the things I want to do around the house. As it is I'm tired, finger and eyesore and am going to go home.

[12:50] This morning I've mostly been trying to reduce my email in box to something approaching manageable. At under one hundred messages I can be sure I've got everything covered, almost. Filtering means a lot of stuff I can get to later. I've been doing a bit more on the website I'm working on for someone else and playing around some more with sudo to make things easier.

I'm climbing this evening while Elaine's helping out with an open evening at the place she's working now. With luck I'll be able to leave early because there's an IT exhibition nearby at around 15:30 which I intend to go to. This may also mean that we can leave for climbing a bit earlier than usual, get a good session in and still have time for a drink afterwards.

We started a recondition cycle on one of the RAID batteries this morning, first time we've had to do it since it was installed. It doesn't really matter that the caching on Read and Write is disabled during battery usage as it has to be the most underused server in the building at the moment. This will change if the new person in my job decides to move the ePO server over to it, as I think they should.

[10/11/2004 - 11:45] So Cormac came over late last night and we played on the Playstation 2 for far too long before going to bed. Up early in the morning we drove over to Shaun's house and with his friend Andy drove to the NEC in Birmingham for the Bike Show. I've been to the NEC before but never to a show this large. I think it spanned four or five halls. Aside from the extremely impressive bikes on display there was naturally a large amount of feminine flesh to be seen also, much of it extremely attractive. Alas I hadn't put the charged battery in my camera so there are no pictures to be seen. Apologies. The day went well, Shaun bought almost all the things he wanted and we all got to look at some stunning bits of machinery. I'm particularly interested in what Cormac bought for Steph and hope to see her wearing it soon! If I'm allowed.

The drive home was a bit harder as the traffic was abysmal, but we all got there safely. That's about it really.

[16:25] I've been busy the entire day today. I think it's the fault of the web site I'm doing for someone connected with where I'm working. To my shame I have to admit that I used Word's "Save as Web Page..." option to get the right HTML tag elements for the nastier characters on the pages. I did then go through each page and weed out all the extra cruft though, so the pages do validate.

This afternoon, just in the last ten minutes or so I've been looking at Dell's new GX280 (no PS/2 ports, SATA drives) and wondering whether it's possible to shoehorn Windows 2000 on to them still. Currently things look OK.

Elaine and I were in Hutton Rugby this last weekend helping my grandmother celebrate her 90th birthday. Taking the train on Friday to Leeds to my parents' house, we stayed over and then drove over on the Saturday. A lovely pub lunch later, a walk around the countryside and a drive home and Elaine was subjected to the baby photographs. She didn't seem to mind, in fact I think she enjoyed them damn her. After sleeping late on Sunday I spent the morning cleaning my father's computer of trojans, malware and other problem things with Ad-Aware before doing the same on my mother's and replacing IE with Firefox. Hopefully that'll keep them a bit more safe in the future.

Tomorrow I'm off to Birmingham NEC to a motorbike show. I may even take some photos.

[16:10] I spent a reasonable amount of time on more XHTML stuff this morning before getting very deeply into some far-reaching design decisions which aren't mine to make without consultation with the PFY (who's nominally the lead on this one). With that in mind I stopped, and quite sensibly decided to prod the documentation for a while.

Elaine and I are off up North tonight until Sunday to celebrate my maternal grandmother's 90th birthday. She's quite amazing, having gained a GCSE in History and now uses a computer to email, browse the web and instant message many of her children and grand children. As I don't use an IM client I am require to email her on a regular basis.

[17:35] Busy all day with HTML to XHTML conversion. I've done about one hundred and five pages. Not only that but I've completely redesigned the home page for that section and I have to say the whole thing looks pretty damned funky.

But now I'm tired, so I'm going home.

[16:45] Well, there we go, Kerry concedes. I'm not surprised to be honest. There are too many scared and underinformed people in the US for Bush not to get back in. But while his being in power affects me, I'm not going to waste any more time on that issue in this journal. Not when I have the excitement of converting pages from HTML4.01 Transitional to XHTML1.0 Transitional to deal with! You just don't get more edge-of-your seat than that.

Seriously, today has been ultra-dull and only the semi-random wibblings from some of the secretaries needing web page updates "Now!" has stopped me from falling into a coma. That and watching the BBC's US Presidential election coverage. Anyway, it'll soon be time to brave the 'invisible cyclists' on the roads on the way home. Then off to climbing.

[16:10] It's been pretty dull today. I did manage to find (I think) someone to host the site when I move jobs in January, which means there'll be no way to connect it at all with where I work. This is important as the things I'll be doing will have rather a large impact on the place I work and the things I say and am involved with could have far-reaching effects if the wrong person were to read them, or be pointed in their direction. That doesn't really matter as I'm going to be altering some of what I say about the new job to strip out any details that might bother my bosses or people who would be working with us. I should still be able to run the camera(s), from my computer rather than a dedicated camera/web server though. Shouldn't make a difference.

Anyway, potential hosting site, marvellous. Thanks Will. Other than that it's dull as ditchwater here (inside and out). I've been correcting and validating web pages for the PFY for most of the day which is strangely rewarding when you get that little icon on the screen saying your site actually confirms to standards.

It's getting dark outside now. I don't like cycling in the dark when there are so many idiots on the roads. I'll be glad when my journey is a little easier (in terms of route, not distance). I may even be running to work as of next year anyway. There are showers at the new place so a new well-secured bag. a towel and a change of clothes and I could get my running back on track again.

[09:25] Rather a productive weekend, considering. Both of us were completely knackered by the previous week so spent some time sleeping in on Saturday morning. Elaine had sneakily bought some bacon and bagels the previous day so we had bacon bagels (what else?) for breakfast. Vowing that this was the weekend that we'd get the curtains up in the lounge I cycled out to the hardware shop to get some decent masonary drill bits while Elaine started back on the second (left) curtain. When I got back she was well into the swing of things so I got on with drilling the remaining holes for the curtain pole. I have to say that decent bits (I bought a granite-grade one I didn't get to use) make mincemeat of their target materials. Anyway, once the holes were drilled I started plugging them and screwing in the fixtures. For a few minutes it was a picture of domestic bliss; Elaine working at the sewing machine, hair clipped back, pins in her mouth, me on a stepladder with a drill in one hand and a screwdriver in the other, brick and plaster dust in my hair. This was shattered by Elaine being sensible and practical and helping me line things up with the spirit level/straight edge.

Saturday evening we went to the cinema with Cormac and Steph. Well, we started to until I locked us out of the house (for the second time). Again I asked for help from my next door neighbour who furnished me with the things I needed to get back into my house. Obviously I'm not saying any more than that, but it wouldn't work if any of you tried it anyway.

Cormac and I saw Alien Vs Predator. Oh dear. Elaine and Steph saw the remake of Alfie (the Michael Caine original). We came home, played some GTA: SA and went to bed.

Sunday, with the clocks having gone back, we got an extra hour in bed. We needed it. Elaine was recovering from illness and I was just tired. Having enjoyed our breakfast so much the previous day I cycled out to Tesco to get some more bacon and bagels while Elaine started on the last stage of the curtain. Throughout the day she worked on that while I started sneezing and getting progressively more ill. By the afternoon I was reduced to lying on the sofa and watching West Wing episodes while Elaine did more curtain. They're huge these things (more than 4m long with a 1.something m drop> so they're not easy to do. I'm glad I bought her flowers on Friday.

Eventually she finished, we hung both up and drew them for the first time. They look stunning. All we need to do now is press the bottom edge and they'll be practically perfect. Not like my curtain pole, which is a bit crooked.

This morning I nearly didn't get up, so ill did I feel. But I'm here and ready to finish the documentation for the office. Or at least the first draft.

[13:50] I'm going to go home now. I really don't feel great and frankly I have so much holiday going spare that I really should use some of it. I'll end up doing work at home anyway so it's not much of a skive.