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31/08/2005
[17:20] Excessively hot here today. First thing this morning I followed Elaine almost all the way to her work place and then went to spend about half an hour waiting for someone to register the right swipe card for access to another of our server rooms. Once that was done I went to work. For most of the morning I was fettling wiki pages on the SRC/P RAID Controller we have in this damned Sun E450. We now know what disks are in what RAID sets and which ones are doubly RAID 1 striped (don't ask). The Sun engineer was late not having been told that he was supposed to be here at 13:00. When he arrived at 14:30 we immediately got a taxi down to the server room I'd been to in the morning. In fact he arrived at the same time as the taxi and nearly shunted it as he was parking.

The disk swap went easily so I spent a few minutes trying to fettled a RHEL box which has been giving us hassles. No joy there so I went to the other server room about a mile away and did some checking for space for a 2U server and 3U disk pack. After that (around 15:30) I grabbed some lunch and sat to watch the (barely clothed) world go by for a few minutes. Walking to the bus stop I arrived at the same time as the bus so was back at work vrey quickly. It's oppressively hot inside the building too so I'm going to go home, have a cool drink and then go climbing.

30/08/2005
[17:00] Back at work and - you know what - it's not so bad at all. The first thing I did was log a call with Sun about a failed disk in the main DB backup server. It's an E450 with a weirdo-freaksome SRC/P Raid controller in it. I'll be going out to one of the other server rooms tomorrow lunch time to watch the Sun engineer replace the disk. Once that's done I'll see him on his way and go to the third of our installations to count spare 'U's in a rack for the PC-Support (Windows) guys.

Lunch was nice as Shaun and my team leader I and went out to a nearby pub. I didn't have much owing to having my own food already, but the chutney in my cheese sandwich was especially lovely.

Most of the day has been spent catching up on the things that have been in progress while I've been away. There's still no access to one of the databases that was moved on Wednesday afternoon, but it's a second-line testing database/application pairing so it won't be a problem for months, if ever.

The weather here has been stunning again today, but it's actually nice to be out of the sun for once after the weekend. I must remember that today is in fact Tuesday and as such this is a four day week.

29/08/2005
[30/08/2005 - 15:50] Well, we did very little (read: nothing) over the weekend. I have to say that while extremely relaxing I was getting ichy feet by the afternoon. I ended up going for a run while Elaine spent some more time catching sun and reading. In fact most of the weekend consisted of getting sunned and relaxing utterly. Sometimes I think it's something you just need to do. That and not using a PC for a while. Now that the boiler et al. has been done Elaine and I can get on with planning the kitchen. We cleared the whiteboard and drew up some initial plans before retiring to the garden for more relaxation. It was just after that that I went for a run, having retrieved my shoes from work on Sunday. The rest of the day was quiet, hot, sunny and ended well with food.

26/08/2005
[30/08/2005 - 15:20] After getting up at the same time as Elaine I got on with doing some painting. The stairwell wall hasn't been completely done properly owing to how hard it is to reach parts of it, so I had a go. The results are pretty good and mean there's no red splashes on the white bits and very little white on the red bits. All in all it looks a lot neater. Still needs more work though.

25/08/2005
[30/08/2005 - 15:10] The plumber, electrician, builder and gas man came later than I thought to start work on finishing the boilder installation. I'd originally planned to take just the morning off, but my line manager and an assumption that things might take longer than a morning to finish things made me take off the whole day, and Friday too. As Elaine and I were getting up the head workman rang and said they'd be a little late. Once Elaine was off to work I tidied a bit and got tea-making implements ready. The builder turned up first and bricked up the old boiler vent on the back of the garage. There wasn't anyone next door to let him into the garden so he had to go over the top of the garage and down. The garden was full of dog crap so he wasn't particularly happy although he got the job done. He left once he'd finished but returned almost immediately when he was told the other people were coming soon. What followed was about three hours of solid work by about four or five people in connecting the gas, running new pipes to new locations and old pipes to new routes, lagging pipes and connecting up the spanky new 7-day heating control panel. Smart heat, the intelligent answer.

The afternoon was spent reading and watching new episodes of Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis and Battlestar Galactica.

24/08/2005
[25/08/2005 - 10:30] A busy day. From the off I had a meeting about a machine I want to put a web site on with SSL encryption that's already home to a number of sites. The wrinkles are that the machine is already doing a large number of Apache virtual hosts and is statically NATed behind a firewall. After the initial meeting with someone from Networks and a web developer we all went off to do some experimentation in to what was possible. I also began negotiations for getting access to one of our live machines for external developers to get on and do some work one one of the services I administer. That required a business case because of the sensitivity of some of the machines inside the firewall.

That went on for most of the day, as well as a second meeting with Networks and Web to ascertain that a second virtual interface and a second static NAT were what we needed. After that all that remained was to move two instances of the payroll service from one machine to another database-wise (which caused one to stop working (which didn't matter as it's a play environment, not the real one) due to some kind of inability to access the Oracle database). Given it was at the tail end of the day I left things neat and tidy, mentioned it to my co-worker and went home.

23/08/2005
[17:15] I feel justified in having an extra sandwich today for lunch. The run at lunchtime was rather enjoyable, even if I did feel like I had cramp in my right calf muscle for about seven of the ten kilometers. I didn't run yesterday due to the weather being extremely crappy. Today there was a light wind and sunshine so I took the opportunity to work on my tan a bit too. Being outside all weekend has given me a bit more colour again too.

I've been solving issues today. Notably among these have was the requirement to get a file from a VMS box to a linux box running a web server to have the file served via HTTPS using our own authentication mechanism. I have to admit I resorted to FTP and a .netrc file (suitably locked down permissions-wise) to give the most fool/future-proof solution. Another necessary solution was required to solve the issue of moving a web site from one machine to another while avoiding the need to talk to a slacker company who happens to hold the DNS reins on the domain we're using. Unfortunately that's not going to be as easy as I thought, but a few minutes with the right people and a whiteboard and I think we'll have it sorted. There was a ton of other smaller things, but those've been the meat of the day.

I'm going to go home now and have a relaxing evening with a drink and some food. And Elaine. Can't forget her.

22/08/2005
[12:15] I found out a little while ago that the person I had my very first crush on in secondary school (I've only ever had two crushes in my life anyway) died from cancer a week or so ago. She was my age and had been married for fourteen months. It's times like these I really wish I'd kept more in contact with my school friends because no-one thought to contact me and tell me about the funeral, which I've missed. Anna was a brilliant and lovely girl when I knew her and I was very pleased when she seemed to have recovered from the therapy she had during 6th Form which allowed her to continue her academic excellence first achieved with her GCSEs with her A-Lavels. I regret I never plucked up the courage to talk to her as anything other than a vague friend but I will always remember a canal boat trip I took with her and a few other people many years ago. My condolences to those people who knew her better than I in recent years and to her family and husband who must be heartbroken.

In counterpoint I had a great weekend climbing and stuff. After walking across town to the pickup point we drove for about five hours to get to Rylstone. On arrival we found the campsite fairly easily and were about to set up the tent when it appeared that the person responsible for bringing it had in fact the inner from one tent and the outer from another. Luckily at that point some really rough-looking men wandered over from the tents behind us and mentioned they had a spare one. Which was nice. We put that up but then felt we had to spend a few hours standing around their fire/barbecue while they plied us with food, drank beers, smoked spliffs and generally explained that they were gypsies going for a camping weekend while the wife of one of the men gave birth. At around 01:30 we managed to get away from them after listening to a story about how one father had shot one of his sons in the belly and leg to show him the perils of air rifles and how one of them had a string of horses and got a helicopter to Ascot on race days while still looking like a shell-suited escapee from "Bratfort" (Bradford).

Saturday morning we got up and after some brief food made our way to the Rylstone rocks. Once another person arrived from elsewhere we made our approach to the rocks up an extremely long and steep farm track to the top of the hills overlooking Rylstone and the quarry. Dropping down through the heather and brush we arrived at President's Slab and Dental Slab. After some fun soloing of a route or two we settled down to some VS and HVS action. I'm not really good at remembering routes but I do know that I seconded an E1 for the first time, which is pretty good. Once we'd moved on a little some more people from the group turned up and we split into three groups, some doing Rylstone Wall Direct and others going off to boulder and do other climbs. I'd pulled a muscle doing a slide down a rather hard starting move (as well as removing my fingerprints and skin from most of my limbs) so took a break before rallying to do one more climb.

By the time the sun was setting we were all pretty tired so headed back to the campsite to cook or the pub to have a pub meal. I tried out the shower and felt a lot better for it afterwards. Pasta and pesto when all you've been eating all day is sugar is a great meal and I could have eaten far more than I did. I should have cooked up my share too. The three of us who'd cooked then went to join the others in the pub for a drink before heading back to avoid the gypsies and go to bed.

Sunday was a bit more laid back with us tearing down the tent and packing for a drive to Ilkley and the Cow and Calf rocks. In contrast to the previous day the walk in was less than 100m and was a lovely open site. Unfortunately this meant there were lots of tourists. After one of us attempted a lead of Josephine or Bulcher (not sure which) in the old quarry and leaving some gear in we set up a top-rope and I climbed to retrieve it and top out. I then lowered someone down to climb the same. After that we all felt so tired that we just lazed about on top of the Calf, watched some hard-core boulderers and then drove home by a much shorter route which got me home in time for Elaine to welcome me with open arms (which is always nice), have some dinner and then head to bed for a happy night after a long and extremely fun day.

There are photos of the weekend up at my Fotopic gallery if you're interested.

This morning I was, naturally, completely shattered but I dragged myself into work to find that one of the UPSen had drained its batteries for some reason and sent out a bleating email about it. It's done it before and as far as we can tell everything's fine. The SAN had thrown another disk too (one of the new ones). I've been compiling a TODO list all of this morning and after a lunchtime run (which is going to kill me) I intend to make a start on it.

[17:25] Naturally as soon as start on something it turns out that I'm going to have to do the tape changes for tonight's backup as the person whose job it is isn't in today and in between me getting last night's tapes out of the robot and returning with tonight's a disk went in the backup server for some of the main web applications. I popped the disk out and then back in again and the RAID controller seemed to think it was OK again. As we're not supported for this server any more (too old) and we're replacing it soon, and the RAID1 mirror failed over to the hot spare... I've added the potentially dodgy disk back in as the hot spare after doing a complete verify on it (it wouldn't do it until I'd done that step anyway). I know it's probably terribly bad form but the system's mirrored anyway and being a hot spare means that it'll fail as a spare before it's needed as a rebuild disk if there's something truly wrong with it. Either way, my laptop RAM arrived today so I'm going home to stick it in and see if it helps my aging luggable any.

19/08/2005
[10:10] I'm planning on going climbing for the weekend (leaving this evening). This means I'm spending the day looking after the plumber and packing, buying food and arranging BMC insurance. We're off to Rylstone (probably a fairly long drive) and I'll be back on Sunday sometime.

Should probably head back and make sure the plumber doesn't do something odd with the new pipes he's running through from the garage (where the old and now new boiler) to the kitchen. Of course, once this job is done there's nothing (other than the mountains of cash required) to stop me getting the kitchen done.

18/08/2005
[19/08/2005 - 10:05] Work continues apace on the heating/boiler stuff. One of the spare bedrooms which has boxing in one corner to feed pipes and electricity cables into the loft has been cleared and reassembled as pipes were removed. This should allow us to reduce the size of the boxing substantially. It's very warm here today so i've spent much of the day outside reading in the sun like a real normal person who takes holiday. I did do some spec'ing up of servers for work but got a reply from my line manager telling me to stop using a computer and actually relax.

17/08/2005
[19/08/2005 - 10:00] Day off number one for plumbing and stuff. I meant to take before (and after, later) shots of the work being done here, but I forgot. I may just take some after shots which will show you what was in place and then show you how things look at the end. I wasn't able to sleep in as the plumber turned up at 08:15. Friendly guy, seems to know his stuff.

16/08/2005
[16:50] Documentation is coming on well although I'm beginning to get a bit bored of the same old thing, especially when much of it is just modified versions of other pages already up on the wiki. I've been trying to clear up as much as I can so there's less to do via VPN over the next few days. Not that I mind working from home, I'm going to be bored witless for much of it unless I'm allowed to get in and help the plumber(s). Of course this could prove to be disasterous, but it's a chance to learn something new. The actual guy I asked for is away on holiday so one of his handy apprentices is going to be doing the work, this means I may get to help/learn something too.

So yes, nothing much to report today other than some walking about in the sun to relieve the monotony of the day, plenty of documentation and a seafood and salad sandwich midmorning to stave off hunger pangs. The weather here today is pretty good and I'm looking forward to cycling home this evening, even if I have to spend some of the evening up in a hot loft getting some boarding down so the plumber(s) don't end up falling through into the spare bedrooms when they're taking the water tanks and associated piping out. Luckily the shower is electric so having the hot water out of action for a few days isn't a problem (and in this weather neither is not having any heating either).

I got notifications from my electricity and gas suppliers a few days ago saying both were increasing my direct debits from the beginning of September to take into account what I owed them. Seems I've been a bit more profligate with both over the past few year or so. Probably something to do with Elaine moving in and us eating more things that require an oven and there being more electrical kit in the house. Either way it's time to make sure things aren't being left on when they don't need to be (even more than we already do).

I should really start climbing a bit more regularly. I'm thinking about going out this weekend to Yorkshire, but it'll depend on other people bringing racks and more importantly providing transport. I think I said that I may stay home to soothe Elaine's fevered brow after she comes home from working on a Saturday and Sunday, but we'll see.

Oh, just remembered, decided that given I'm supposed to be saving for things like paying off the boiler work, getting a new kitchen fitted, getting a new bathroom, doing up the rest of the house, etc., etc. I shouldn't really go ahead and get a new laptop, but instead just buy some new RAM for it and sell the old stuff (replace two 128MB SO-DIMMs with 256MB ones). I was going to buy from Crucial (and in fact had) before I realised I could get RAM which is probably just as good from eBuyer for a hell of a lot less. Cue one cancelled order to Crucial and hopefully a delivery from eBuyer next Monday. I don't need it in any great rush and it's free shipping if I wait that long. I imagine I'll do a reinstall at the same time and see if XP speeds the thing up at all (currently Windows 2000).

15/08/2005
[17:05] A lovely weekend. Saturday morning was particularly fine. The rest of the day was spent reading, watching bad science fiction and generally no doing a damned thing. I do believe Sunday was spent in much the same way. Actually no, on Sunday Cormac and Steph took us home to have a nice evening meal before having another dinner guest take us home again. Extremely relaxing all round really. Kind of useful as Elaine's working Saturday and Sunday next weekend moving servers from one room to another, plus their racks. I'm thinking of climbing next weekend, unless Elaine needs some serious TLC after working on the weekend.

Today has been mostly about documentation. I had to show a couple of people that we do, actually, have a CVS repository that's just sitting around doing nothing most of the time so there's a chance it may get to be used a bit more in the coming months. This is good as it's a fairly powerful box to just be sitting there not doing anything. But yes, other than that documentation, a run at lunch time which left me very close to collapse (shows what happens if you lay off the training for a bit) and a sudden craving for satsumas. I'll see if some are bought this evening during the weekly shop.

Oh, I tried King of Shaves shving gel for the first time in Friday night. I have to admit it's probably the best experience of shaving I've had in a long long time. While Elaine's been using it for months I've never really thought to try it myself. As soon as my Gilette stuff runs out I'm switching; it's great!

12/08/2005
[15:15] I really am very bored and very tired today. There's nothing I can really start that'd make sense to do today so I've been doing what I can and trying not to fall asleep. I really haven't slept well for the last few nights. I think I'm just a bit wound up at the moment. It's probably backlash from not running for a few sessions, or just something catching up with me. Either way I just want to go home, have a sleep and then hopefully have a fun weekend.

I need to have some fun soon. I've not had much recently and all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Hopefully Elaine will be rested and feeling up for some too as it's much nicer when she's involved and making me smile. I miss when the week was all about the weekend and spending time somewhere other than the place where all the bills, responsibilities and jobs were and just going to see Elaine and having fun. Life can't always be fresh and new though and things move on. It would be nice to capture the old excitement now and again though. I'll see what I can do about that.

11/08/2005
[14:40] So I got in early this morning (after a reasonable climbing session last night) to move a machine over from one DNS domain to another and found all it needed was a reboot because I'd done so much preparation for it. So that went OK. The problems appeared when I went to one of the other machine rooms across town to remove the RedHat 4.2 box. It powered down perfectly well but when I removed it from the morass of cabling and such there was a call to say the main payroll system had gone non-responsive. This was worrying as it was one of the machines I'd been stepping over/around. I checked power, network and so on and it all seemed fine. Looking at the serial console revealed it'd dropped to a maintenance prompt though (this is an E450 running Solaris 9). A bit worried now I tried some basic diagnostics but nothing doing. Happily one of my co-workers who was picking me an the RH 4.2 box up came in just then and - as a former Sun engineer - ran the box through some more tests and worked out that it wasn't something I'd done but some kind of failure in one of the hotswap disks that'd caused the RAID controllers to throw a major tizzy. Suffice it to say we got the box back up and running with that disk popped (it wouldn't boot with it in) and have logged a call with Sun.

We returned to the office via the sandwich shop and I'm now sitting here about to power on a very old PC next to a new Dell Optiplex 620 which I'm going to be testing for RHEL 3 compatability. I'm tired, and I need a better night's sleep than last night.

[17:00] Oh yes, the SMF course. Fascinating.

10/08/2005
[11/08/2005 12:50] On a Solaris 10/11(Nevada) SMF course all day. More tomorrow.

09/08/2005
[16:30] Much ado about machines today. One that was due to have memory replaced today can't because we were shipped the wrong part. This was the penultimate day for disk replaces in the SAN. Another machine failed half of two different mirrors on Sunday when being rebooted and didn't tell anyone. Everything's under control but it's all so annoying and bitty. I meant to go running today (can't tomorrow as I'm on a course) but forgot clean clothes for afterwards. At this rate I'm only going to get to do 6.5 miles this week. I suppose I could do with a bit of a rest to be honest.

Other than that it's been a bit of another dull day. I went round to see my friend in Networks and he too is feeling a bit bereft of work at the moment. I'm sure it'll pick up soon. It always does.

08/08/2005
[09/08/2005 - 11:30] Not the weekend I'd been planning for by any means, but very relaxing nevertheless. We'd been hoping a friend could make it down on Friday or Saturday morning but more important things got in the way for them and they had to cancel. We're very much hoping they can make it down for real some time in the near future. I tidied the spare bedroom and everything. As a result Elaine went to town to get some clothes and I met her a little while later to pick up some bits and bobs I needed. I now have a Digisender attached to my Dell TFT and it's great for watching television in the corner of the screen while I work. Sunday was spent hacking the holy hell out of Cormac's garden again. We made some very definite progress with the turfed bit and actually found a path!

Much of Monday, however, was spent feeling sorry for ourselves due to having eaten or drunk something a little wrong. Cue lots of lying around and getting well slowly. Luckily whatever it was was both short-lived and had no real after effects so we were able to be driven out for a late afternoon picnic nearby to celebrate someone's birthday. We got back very late and fell into bed some time after midnight.

05/08/2005
[13:30] Aside from getting up at 07:00 to get to work for 07:40 to let the Sun engineer in I've had a re... no actually I've been doing stuff all day. For a day off it's been kind of busy. Since I got home I've dusted and vacuumed the entire house, tidied the spare bedroom enough that - should someone come and stay the night - it's able to be used as an actual bedroom. I've also put some washing on, had a shower, shaved (thank goodness) and helped a few people with Fotopic issues. I've even attempted to tidy a tiny bit of Elaine's stuff. Not a lot mind, just enough such that I'll be able to tell here where I put each bit. I honestly think I deserve a break.

04/08/2005
[16:35] I'm taking the day off tomorrow so today ahs been a day of getting things ready and realising I don't have enough time in the day to do all the things I want to. For starters there's a box which seems to boot perfectly well, it even gets to the login prompt buy you can't log in on console, let alone via SSH. It asks for the username and then just sits there once you've put in the password and pressed return. I was supposed to go and take a look at in in person this afternoon but I haven't because:

I've had to explain everything I'm doing to the lead sysadmin this afternoon because of the massive amount of time off she had due to a virus a few weeks ago. This is ostensibly because she should know what I'm doing day to day but also because I'm taking the day off tomorrow. I've also had to do a complete machine swap this afternoon. One of the DBAs is off for three weeks from Monday and he's got to do it this week or someone else will (he needs the experience). This meant doing some Oracle installs and then copying live (standby actually) databases across, applying transaction logs, etc.. I then had to bring down both machines to single user, change a few files in /etc and in the Big Brother installations and then reboot them for good measure. Things seem to have gone pretty well but it's meant that I've been on my feet all afternoon in and out of the server room for various things. That coupled with the fact that we took the opportunity to move the machine from one domain to another has meant there've been updates (hopefully!) to the tnsnames.ora file and some database restarts.

I'm still hopeful that the weekend is going to be fun and exciting. It's part of the reason I'm taking tomorrow off; to get the house tidy and things squared away. I'll know more later on I think. Elaine's going diving for the first time in her life this evening. I'd be going but I have things to do and Cormac can't supervise two people at the same time.

03/08/2005
[16:15] I don't know what it is but the run today nearly killed me. As it was my running partner quit about half way round and got a lift home with someone he know who was passing at the time. I managed the whole thing, just.

I've been dealing with recurrent memory errors on one of the big Sun 1280 boxes we have here. Luckily it's all ECC so all we're seeing for the moment is lots of errors on Big Brother and a worry that something's going to go tits up eventually. Sun however say that it's not passed a threshold where they think it's worth replacing yet (something to do with static discharge and data loss being more of a worry during a parts swap than the current bad pages of RAM). Not sure I can understand that, but then I'm not Sun.

Otherwise it's business as usual. More documentation written, more sighing a complete name changing on our new HR software install (OS, DB and application level stuff) and more planning done online. It's all going rather well at the moment.

Elaine, Cormac and I went out for a walk last night and aside from the usual birds we spot managed to see some long-tailed tits. They're my first live ones I've seen, which is pretty cool. For now though I have to go home and meet the plumber who's going to be whipping out my old boiler, water tanks, immersion heater and excess piping in the next few weeks.

02/08/2005
[16:05] Still very tired today. I managed a tiny bit of exercise this morning and cycled to work for about 07:40 still half asleep. Luckily at that time of day there's very few other road users around so I didn't die. The disk swapping went far more smoothly than yesterday so I spent the remainder of the time getting the Sun guy to investigate some other SAN issues we're having.

The rest of the day I've been attempting to remain awake while writing more documentation and thinking about the weekend and a chance to relax and have some fun. No running today obviously, I think it'd kill me at the moment if I did it every day.

Elaine popped out into town today to get some new gym kit so she can get back into going again. I'm proud of her for going when she's just as tired as I am at the moment. Hopefully and slightly against how tired working out can make a person feel, I think we'll both have more energy the fitter we get.

01/08/2005
[17:30] Absolutely cream-crackered today. This is probably down to a late night last night when Elaine came to bed and woke me up. The weekend was excellent as Elaine's dad and partner came down from Scotland to say hi and pick up two PCs for themselves and Elaine's sister in Nottingham. While Elaine had intended to set them up I inevitably took over doing them in a sly kind of way. I need to stop doing that. Other than that we all went out to a local country park to show off the birds and water fowl we have nearby to Elaine's dad who's a big bird spotter.

This morning (and in fct every morning this week) I was in before 08:00 to give the Sun engineer access to our SAN to facilitate the gradual fail out of disks (those Seagates with the predicted spindle failures). Not having been the point contact before I wasn't sure of the process this time, but things'll be smoother from tomorrow.

Most of the rest of the day has been spent working on job evaluation forms, talking over migrations with the DBAs and getting things sorted with people online. I think I've managed to settle some things down and with luck there'll be a good outcome fairly shortly. All I need is for people to relax and things should be fine.