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[19:45] The weather was absolutely foul this morning. It was nice to be safe in bed and warm while listening to the rain and eventual hail clatter down outside. Elaine came back around 10:00 and we finshed setting up her new hard drive.

After some lunch she went into town to see if she could find something to wear for the New Year's Eve party thing. I finally decided to go out and buy the camera I've been drooling over for the past three months and so, with the help of James (who supplied the Mastercard such that I can get £100 cashback) I went into Jessops and bought a Canon 350D with 18-55mm lens kit. Now all I have to do is remind myself about shutter speeds, F-stops and depth of field calculations and get on with taking some excellent shots (perhaps). All I need to do now is wait for my free 256MB CF card to arrive and the cashback to be processed. I think I may need more CF cards in short order.

[30/12/2005 - 19:40] I went into town in the afternoon to see if I could exchange presents bought for me on Amazon at high street shops. First stop was Waterstones. They had no problem with the pristine book I handed them and I was able to swap it for what turned out to be the sequel to the duplicate I was exchanging. Unfortunately it was in hardback, but I don't really mind as I couldn't find anything else I really wanted that was near the same price. I did see that final book by John Meaney in the Nulaperion Sequence is due to be out in paperback next month, so that's cool.

After that I headed over to HMV to see if I could swap a CD for something else. This was a bit tougher as HMV insisted on looking for the cheapest price the CD had ever been available for. This was probably less than was paid for it originally but in the end I managed to get two DVDs I'd wanted for the same price.

I had a very quiet night in and managed to find a channel that was showing all of the Police Squad episodes. This meant a very late night.

[20:00] Another late morning (I could get used to those), before a morning of chilling out. Eventually left the house with Elaine and went for a walk in the snow which had fallen over night. We went south through the town (missing out the centre which was bound to be full of shoppers) towards the Botanical Gardens which we hoped would be open. It wasn't. Instead we walked back into town and saw loads of ducks and blackbirds and other fun things and then stopped off at a place called Browns where the cold and our hunger contrived to have us order some food and some nice warm cups of tea. Initially the service was pretty poor but we scored a free pot of tea from our waiter when ie realised how long we'd been waiting for things.

On the walk back Elaine stopped off at a friend's house while I came home to put on the heating and upload some photographs. They're online now in the Gallery if you feel like a look. I've also put a new poll in place after the last one was won by a margin of over twenty percent in favour of me getting "another woman". Go figure.

[23:35] I didn't think I was tired but I didn't wake up properly until just past 11:00 this morning. Elaine's cheer when she opened her curtains announced the snow which had fallen.

After we'd had something to eat and chilled out for a bit Elaine headed off out to see a friend and I cycled out. As I was out and about the snow started to fall again and I tried getting some shots of various bits of flora and fauna with my 2.1 megapixel camera. They're probably not very good, but I'll take a look at them on a big screen when I get around to taking them off the camera.

All in all I was out for about three or so hours, so needed a nice hot shower when I got in. After a while Elaine arrived home and headed out again to the pub with other friends. I popped on some Farscape episodes and tried to keep my feet warm before bed.

[23:55] Today has also been a smashing day all things considered. Another late rise, some good food and then far too much watching of Scrubs on television. Another light lunch waiting for evening meal has meant that we've been fairly hungry for most of the day (well, I have been). I've exchanged some text messages with friends which has also brightened the day significantly too.

Given the amount of cooking Elaine's done in this house in the past I felt it was high time I gave her a rest so I got to cook a proper dinner for the second time. This one was a duck crown, roast potatoes and parsnips (the latter in maple syrup), carrots, broccoli and stuffing. It went down rather splendidly even if I do say so myself. I think there's hope for me in the future as a cook.

I spent some time converting Word documents to first-stage HTML as part of the final assemblage of text for the web site I've been working on for a year or so now. The time it's taken hasn't been down to me but due to the academics who're supplying the text. Still, a bit more income at the moment wouldn't go amiss.

I'd love to go for a walk tomorrow while it's chill, crisp and quite pleasant outside. Hopefully Elaine'll come along too for company and conversation. I think I'll head to bed though at this juncture. Or stay up stupidly late again to watch something mindless on the box.

[26/12/2005 - 23:45] A fairly excellent day all told. After a lazy morning, Elaine and I sat together on the bed and opened our presents. Both of us were extremely happy with the presents we had and Elaine smiled over the contents of her stocking (my first real go at stocking filling). Elaine popped out to see James after a small brunch and returned just in time for Steph and Cormac to drive us to their home to share Christmas dinner. As James was on his own we invited him over too and he arrived just in time to eat the first of four major courses with us.

Following a most excellent three courses we went outside for a good long while to play with the Poi Poi, Devil Sticks and other fun things that people had given to each other. Although tons of fun the weather was pretty cold so we went back inside after watching Cormac use his giant Bubble Thingy (TM) to make some, well, giant bubbles.

Returning home we headed to bed for a round and satisfied stomach rest.

[16:35] It's been quite a pleasant day today. After a good night's sleep I had a nice surprise in the morning which made me smile for a little while. After that was tons of bacon, eggs and potato cakes (something I've developed a real taste for in the last year or so) and a mug of tea (something else I've redeveloped a taste for again). The lazy morning meant that it wasn't long until Dunk (running an hour late) turned up. Chilling ensued, punctuated pleasantly by Cormac and Steph returning from some last-minute Christmas shopping to have tea and shortbread.

Right now I'm sitting on the sofa, thinking about putting some socks on so I don't get told (again) that my feet are going to get cold. With some luck we'll be having chicken and pancetta (actually Parma ham) with some nice vegetables and roast potatoes (my first proper go at them). I think we might watch Shrek 2 tonight for a bit of a laugh.

[24/12/2005 - 16:25] A very quiet and short day. Came in to work and changed the backup tapes. Chatted to a few people, went to the nibbles-and-dips thingy and then headed off for Christmas. Met up with Elaine in town and helped her home with a few things.

Cormac and Steph wandered over towards evening and took us shopping so we had some actual food to see us us through the Christmas period. While they wandered off to put their food away and so forth we began the Christmas relax.

We'd all decided to go to see King Kong at the cinema so I SMSed them both the cinema times. Turns out they didn't check one phone and the other one crashed so they only found out with very little time to spare. Driving hell-for-leather but safely we got into our seats as the final few trailers were showing.

King Kong is an overlong but amusing film with some genuinely impressive visuals and some very annoying scenese which stretch out well past when they should finish, and not in the Family Guy sense of the meaning. We got home around midnight.

[16:15] The curry was good. It's just a shame that both the pub we were in beforehand and the curry house itself were smokey. Definitely affected some of our group's enjoyment of the evening. Elaine, in a fit of drunken bravery, went for the Tandoori Trout as her main dish. We'd never seen that on the menu before so someone had to try it. Turned out to be quite nice actually, even if she did eat the fish's eyes at the end. We didn't get home until very late so getting up this morning was a real trial.

Happily today has been lovely and quiet and I've been able to do things like tidy some of the bookshelves of old and obsolete papers, hand back thin client hardware that doesn't do what I want it to and generally do some of the basic systems administration stuff that doesn't get done because big things come up. I now have a simple and foolproof (I wish) routine for giving the linux desktop users access to their Windows shares, so that's good.

I'm heading off in a little while to go and get mince pies and such for tonight's final Thursday thingy of the year. It won't be quite as fun as I would have liked as Elaine has something else planned, but I'm sure it'll be enjoyable for all those who do come along.

I've made some fun discoveries today including a plugin for xmms that allows me to use some of the 'multimedia' keys on my ergonomic Microsoft keyboard to control it. A less fun realisation what what the future was not likely to contain. Still, life goes on.
[13:35] Went to the Council Tax office on the way into work this morning to get the relevant forms for going back to a twenty-five percent discount for single occupancy. They've streamlined the process a little since the last time I did it.

When I got in later on there were multiple problems which all required a calm hand on the tiller to get under control. The tape robot had thrown its toys out of the pram again with regard to doing the duplication and had downed one of the tape drives in protest over some of the files it was being forced to read from one of the tapes it had itself written to not a few hours earlier. Luckily a powercycle of the robot and a manual ejection of the tape worked so I rebooted the host server and got on with the other errors. We're going to have to raise a software call with Veritas in the new year, but for the moment I've just disabled those particular files which seem to have consistently caused SCSI timeout errors (I mean, WTF?) on the tape drives and disabled the cron job which deletes the old versions. Our tier one backup is to a good RAID 5 set, so I don't think we're in too much danger of losing the data. It's only firewall logs anyway. The other problems were database hotbackup related and were solvable with a bit of mental effort and giving the results to the DBA team to masticate over and spit out a result.

Tonight is the climbing night curry where we do no climbing but eat lots of curry. Elaine's gone to look at a room this lunchtime, hopefully it will be nice.

[17:20] Apparently the place she looked at isn't too bad. Now all we have to do is work out what's going to happen for Christmas. I don't know why but I keep thinking it's further away than it actually is. Maybe it's because I've not put up a tree or decorations or really gotten into the spirit of things quite so much this year. Here's hoping next Christmas is a bit more cheerful, eh? Time to head off for the curry and stuff now.

[14:00] I wrapped Elaine's Christmas presents last night while she began the tough job of packing up her belongings. For a little while I couldn't find the Christmas stockings my mother had made for us both, which left me feeling far sadder than it should. I eventually found them with the other Christmas stuff neatly stacked in the loft.

I find myself wanting to say the same things repeatedly in my journal about how unhappy we both obviously are about this, how it's still right that we do it and how hopeful I think we both are that at some undefined point in the future we may choose to be together again. It serves no real purpose though so I am determined to limit it to just this one (and last) time. We've been so very good for each other (as well as bad sometimes) since the day we first spoke. The care we've shown each other then and now is matched only by the sadness we're feeling and how much I think we'll miss each other when she moves out. I'm allowing myself to say this once, and no more; at this moment I hope we have an opportunity to be together one day, as two new people. Naivity and everything else aside, that's what I hope for right now.

That's it. No more. I won't really say much about things now unless there's something unexpected which occurs.

What's been keeping me amused this morning is a German safety video which is worth watching to the end. Promise.

[09:05] After a thoughtful weekend with my parents, with easy and uneventful train journeys either way, I got home on Sunday night. Elaine and I spent some time having a sensible and exhaustive conversation before heading to bed. We've decided to take a break from each other for the moment.

[10:35] For clarification this means we're actually splitting up and Elaine will be moving out when convenient. Christmas isn't a particularly good time to do this but as much as we care for each other we need to be our own people for a while to get some perspective and work out who we are when we're on our own, and what we want from life. It may be each other, but we don't know that yet.

As I said a few years ago; Life is Short, so I'll get on with life and be hopeful for what the future may bring.

[12:30] This morning I've done a load of washing, bought some fresh milk and sandwich meat for Elaine over the weekend, done some more washing up, tidied the house a little and dealt with another stage of my remortgage with my friendly independent financial advisor. She's sending me a wodge of papers to sign on Monday so I've asked for them to go to work. I'll spend lunch time working my way through them. In the end I decided not to drop from the remaining 28 years of my mortgage to 23 (as if I'd had a 25 year one to start with) but may drop from 26 to 21 years remaining in two years time when a) I'll have got the new kitchen in place and don't need to save so hard, b) will hopefully have had a payrise (I've been at the top of my payscale for three years now) and, c) will be a bit more sure of how the future is going to pan out.

At the moment I'm just preparing to leave and putting a few things in place. I'll be walking to the station for a bit of exercise (and because the buses are damned expensive here for the distances they go) in about an hour or so and then it's off to Leeds for the weekend.

Hmm, ever since I replaced that noisy, whining Maxtor hard drive I've noticed that there's a slight whine to the Dell 2405FPW monitor I have. I remember reading something about power supply noise in the 24" Dell TFTs online a few weeks ago and assumed my unit didn't suffer from the same issue. Perhaps it always has and only now am I able to hear it. C'est la vie, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose... with regard to noise from my PC setup anyway.

Back on Monday.

[15:50] I woke up this morning with an absolutely agonising pain behind my left scapula. It feels like something between a trapped nerve and a pulled muscle. I think I did it last night as I was getting up from the sofa (oddly not when I was exerting myself on the climbing wall). Even so I was up and around just after Elaine left for work. I changed the bed, did two loads of washing and the washing up before sitting down for lunch. Taking the opportunity to go online I struck up a conversation with Dunk who pointed me at his independent financial advisor who was extremely nice and is even now taking over all the leg-work of finding me a remortgage deal. My hearty thanks to Dunk for the tip.

As I didn't have to spend anoher half a day trudging around town looking for a place to move my mortgage to I instead happily wandered around looking for stocking fillers for Elaine and a birthday present for my mother. I didn't come away empty-handed for myself though; I have a good book to keep me company on the train journey tomorrow afternoon. I fully intend to spend tomorrow morning actually having a relax rather then getting up and being just as active as if I was still at work. Befoer then I need a call back from my new financial advisor telling me what wheels I need to put into motion though.

Tonight is the other work Christmas meal so I should do some stuff to get ready for that as well as unpacking what I bought today and hiding it around the house.

[15/12/2005 - 15:40] Spent much of the morning wandering around town going into banks and building societies looking for remortgage deals. I'm coming to the end of the discount period for my first mortgage and rather than go onto the Standard Variable Rate with my current lender I'm choosing to find another deal. Perhaps it's not particularly sensible to move every 2-5 years, but for the moment I think it gets me the better deal in the long run.

Around midday I headed over to the Chiinese buffet for the first of this Christmas' work meals. As I sat down with everyone else I suddenly realised that this was the first work Do I'd been to since I worked at my first real job over six years ago. That was mainly because everyone else I worked 'with' in my last post was a middle-aged female secretary and not really my idea of a fun mealtime out.

After the meal many of us headed off to a nearby pub for more drinks. A few minutes after arriving I was called on my mobile by someone who was still in the building at work. There was something of a major web crisis and mine was the only phone number she'd been able to find. Luckily I was chatting at that moment to the entire Web Team so was able to pass over the phone and they solved the problem without putting down their pints.

As people began to leave I headed off home to be ready for climbing and, as I had a spare moment, Ghost my Windows partitions from a noisy HDD (which turned out to be a Maxtor) to a new and quieter drive. This went flawlessly as far as I can make out and this entry is being written from a near-silent PC now.

Everyone turned up for climbing and we headed off for what turned out to be an excellent session for me (completing cleanly a rather hard route) and a very good one for Elaine (in my opinion).

[13:25] Turns out I've spent three and a half hours researching something that's not only impossible, but not required. There's a web developer here who's been wanting to install that KnowledgeTree application I mentioned earlier. He was having major problems which appeared to manifest themselves as a requirement for the mysqli connector method/module for PHP. Unfortunately this is only available for PHP 5. We're only running PHP 4.3, which is what KT wants. Trying to shoehorn mysqli into PHP 4.x just Isn't Going To Happen. Nevertheless I've been trying, reading around and generally getting quite annoyed with the whole thing. In the end I resorted (as I should have from the beginning) to the KT forum where (in conjunction with the developer changing the database access method from "mysqli" to "mysql" in /var/www/html/kt3.0b2/knowledgeTree/config/config.ini) resulted in finding a new error message which allowed us to zero in on the probable cause of that error which turned out the be something to do with password access/storage/encryption stuff. Some use of "OLD_PASSWORD()" apparently fixed that and we were 'in' for some value thereof. It's now up to the developer to make sure it all actually works and then we start discussing KT applicances for other groups within the Institution and whether we go with RHEL 4 which seems to be a better bet when it comes to compatible bits of software.

IKEA last night was pretty fun. We drove there in a big white van and arrived at the IKEA mothership in plenty of time to wander around and find all the bits we liked the look of before ending up in the furniture bit which is basically a huge warehouse full of wood. It's sad that wood is so highly useful, we're cutting down an awful lot of it.

[17:00] Have been helping one of the Networks guys with some weirdo VLAN stuff for most of the afternoon between emails to The Register about its articles and how things have changed over the last two years. I'm off to the gym in ten minutes or so then on holiday until Monday when I'll be back, hopefully with a trip to Leeds under my belt, all my Christmas shopping done and my mortgage redone for the next two or five years (to be decided). Elaine won't be coming with me to Leeds owing to financial and time constraints even though (thanks to the best phone support from GNER ever) I've managed to get a return train fare of £32.50! This is about twenty-two pounds less than 'normal'. Almost tolerable!

Right, so, off now. Back later.

[10:10] I'm pretty sure we fixed the tape drive problem on Friday. In the end it turned out to be a mistake on my part. Basically the whole thing was all my fault. The engineers didn't seem to annoyed at the end of the day (literally the end of the day). That was nice. I missed going to the gym though. To be honest I'm not sure I could have managed it anyway. It's not that I got really stressed by the whole thing, more than I just felt drained.

I can't really remember what happened on Friday night.

Saturday wasn't bad. Dunk turned up around midday with his XBox360 and then left for what he thought was a few hours for a date. This turned out to be more than a few hours (the dog that he is) but he returned happy. In the meantime I got to try his console out with an LCD projector. Well, after I'd worked out how to get a signal through the video rather than composite leads and had finished my panic about breaking his brand new console.

I have to admit that it really isn't half bad. I think the killer game has to be Project Gotham Racing and the ability to watch some of the best drivers in the world playing each other live, online. If they do Burnout Revenge in the same manner it'd be a reason to think about purchasing one. Some of the other games, while cool, really didn't agree with me when projected onto the wall. For the first time ever I got motion-sickness from watching someone play a game and had to go elsewhere. When Dunk got back the three of us took a drive to the nearest Tesco to pick up some supplies for dinner. After watching Dunk play some more impressive but dizziness-inducing XBox360 games Elaine invited James over for dinner so the four of us sat down to a well-prepared roast beef dinner. After that Dunk requested a veiwing of Mr & Mrs Smith on DVD as he'd not seen it before.

Sunday started lateish with the news of the fuel storage facility explosion in the south of England. Some other stuff happened like connecting the XBox360 to my big Dell monitor to see it in 720i (or p, I can't remember) glory, Elaine headed out to meet James for juggling and firebreathing again and a bit later on Keith arrived to play on the XBox360 with Dunk and I. After a while we got hungry so actually went out to collect pizza rather than having it delivered. Seems the pizza place had had a rash of delivery driver accidents and it would have taken over an hour and a half to get the pizza otherwise.

We watched Top Gear before it got late and everyone went home. Some time after midnight Elaine got back after having fun and games out with James. Oh yes, over the weekend the backups seemed fine on Saturday morning but the duplication process to the offsite tape robot messed up. I don't know whether that was my fault too. Probably.

I didn't sleep very well last night, we were rushed getting in to our respective workplaces this morning and I'm feeling low again at the moment. So all in all not a stunning start to the week. It must be very hard for Elaine when I'm difficult to be around and am being odd/feeling down. I wish I didn't give her such cause for concern/bother because I'm really hoping that we grow a lot closer in the time we have together. She's probably the most special person I've ever had the fortune to meet and I want to make her life as special as she can make mine sometimes. She's someone who (through no action on her part) makes me want to Do Better. Plus she loves being around people who smile, so when I don't it's not so good.

Chris is in again today though so I've turned over the backup problems to him. He's doing stuff with them now. Maybe he won't mess up quite as badly as I did. Still, on the plus side the Operations Manager doesn't seem at all bothered by the issues of last week which happened while he was away. Possibly this is because he was away or maybe because of the excruciatingly detailed incident reports I did in both events. In any event no-one seems particularly bothered. It was nice not having any upper levels of management around when I made my mistakes as I was able to do what needed to be done exactly when they needed to be without having to do any of that tedious keeping-people-in-the-loop stuff.

[12:40] I've just pulled off something of a coup as far as I'm concerned. The web developer who wanted a newer version of MySQL wanted it so he could run a test installation of KnowledgeTree, which requires a MySQL server version higher than 3.x, a version of PHP higher than 4.0, preferably higher than 4.3.x and lower than 5. Luckily RHEL 3 (his platform) comes with a 4.3.x version of PHP, but only 3.23.58 (plus backported security fixes). What I've managed to do is rip out the version of MySQL and associated Perl, PHP and other RPMs and install an RPM-packaged version of MySQL 5.0.15 in such a way that I can reinstall the RHEL 3-approved version of php-mysql and the Perl DBD::MySQL and DBI modules. Fear me!

I'm feeling a lot brighter now. Maybe it's thought of the chocolate biscuits I'm about to reward myself with.

[17:25] This afternoon has been a study in why the web is a useful source of information. I was asked this morning to upgrade the version of Rails someone's Ruby installation was using. This consequently broke the MySQL communication stuff that Ruby has built in. This lead me to look for a way to downgrade or fix Rails and thus to a search for a way to install the 'better' MySQL libraries for Ruby/Rails. A few hours of searching and trying the source version (which had some issues on the RHEL 3 installs I have here) lead me to a set of magic commands and arcane arguments which allowed me to actually install the most up to date version rather than the revision previously which was the only one I could install from source. All hail the web, gem and the really fiddly use of double hyphens.

The Operations Manager came in a few minutes ago to ask if I'd been really hard on myself about last week's issues with the firmware upgrade early in the week and the backup stuff at the end of it. I said yes and he basically said that as I'd already beaten myself up about it there wasn't anything else he was going to say, not that he was going to have said anything anyway. Which was nice.

Oh, yes, I'm going to book Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off work so I can sort out my re-mortgage (I hope), get some shopping done and then head to my parents' for the weekend. Elaine won't be coming due to being all kinds of resource-poor. A shame, but it can't be helped. I'll try to do journal entries where possible.

Time to go to IKEA!

[11:40] Of course, everything is broken this morning to do with the backups. I got in late because I had my haircut appointment for 09:30. In the end I was in for 10:10. Not that it mattered, the backups were broken utterly by about 03:00 this morning. Seems I (with my lack of actual training with NetBackup) hadn't managed to completely configure the new tape drive, so when the system tried to use it, things went wrong. I'm on the phone with my coworker (who has actual NetBackup training) - who isn't in again today either owing to the development of some really nasty flu-like symptoms - trying to get it to work now.

[16:40] Well, in my professional opnion, after careful consideration and exhaustion of all the available options, settings, configurations and things to do with the power switches, the cables, the software and any deities which might be listening I'm pretty sure it's broken. Broken in some weird and wonderfully obscure-but-someone'll-just-say-"oh all you needed to do was this"-way, but broken nevertheless. I've opened calls with Sun and Veritas, had calls back from Veritas who got me to prod the robot and the tape drives with 'robotest' which showed that I can load a tape into a drive but there's no way that bastard is coming out without manual intervention on the L25's front panel; I get I/O errors in /var/adm/messages. This has the effect with NetBackup of it loading the tape into a drive, then timing out after about 315 seconds. Nothing's logged to the NetBackup activity monitor for the job, it just sits there like a dumbshit waiting for me to cancel the job again.

I have two engineers freezing their short-sleeved shirted selves off in the server room at the moment. Better go and join them and see if we can't get to the bottom of this. If we can't get anything sorted by 18:00 I'm going to disable all the backups and start again on Monday.

[09:30] Poo, large backup device robot thingy tore one of the tapes last night and now there's bits of magnetic media everywhere, wrapped around everything.  An engineer's been called but appears to be a brand new jobsworth-type one so is asking for all kinds of logs which aren't going to change the fact that we have a broken tape drive. Chris (who started dealing with this this morning) isn't sure he told the engineer what type of replacement part to bring, the call's not been in the system long enough that I can make amendements to it (like saying, "we have one of these") and Chris has just gone home with a monster headache from hell that he feels might kill him before he gets home.

Happy morning.

[13:30] The engineer is here, he's removed the drive with the tape stuck in it, but there's no replacement drive from Quantum here yet. Allegedly it's due here in the next twenty minutes. Chance would be a fine thing. I need to pop out at some point before Friday evening to see if I can track down a Playstation 2 to S-video cable, but I can't do that while there's things to be done and an engineer on site. Maybe tomorrow morning after I get my hair cut.

[17:05] It's been a bit of a saga today. At the time the engineer arrived the drive hadn't turned up. Regardless he set to work powering off the drive, removing the SCSI backplane and opening the drive so he could get the tape out. You can see that one end of the tape had become free from the mechanism. The engineer reckons there were bits of the tape mechanism inside the drive. No tape had actually torn.

By 15:30 we were wondering where the hell the drive was so he called the courier who said a "D Owen" had signed for it at 13:30. I checked all the D Owen people in the institution directory with no luck. As a final thing to check I ran the place down the road from us' reception where an "S Owen" confirmed they'd had it there and just hadn't gotten around to ringing me yet.

So I brought the drive over, the engineer fitted it and checked it worked. I then tried to get the drive registered in NetBackup and though a combination of screaming, shouting, sitting still and staring at the screen for minutes at a time managed to (I think) get the new drive registered. There's something screwy going on with the GUI/daemon that knows about the drive because I would highlight a drive to be deleted and it would delete another one instead. Maybe I was just clicking wrongly or I restarted the daemon at the wrong times, but the net result is that I deleted the good drive too and had to re-add that as well. As a result both drives have a mount time of 0.00 hours (rather than roughly 437 for the existing drive as I remember). I'm pretty sure everything is working properly but both drives seem to be listed as not "Ready" in the Device Monitor tab, even though they're show as "UP" everywhere. Here's hoping it all does the right thing tonight. Currently the robot is one tape down (i.e. I haven't put a new one in).

I hope everything goes OK tonight.

[13:40] Just a quick entry as I've had a busy morning and may not be back this afternoon. Got up and headed in just in time to help the coworker restart the now massive-amounts-of-log-producing application that depended on a database that had been restarted. Once that was done I did a rapid install of the web developer's workstation, installed a shit-load of extra, non-RedHat support gubbins and got it shifted up to his office. This included the 16GB of stuff he'd had on the old install. Oddly it copied back very much faster than it copied off. I don't know why. Once that was done I did an even more rapid installation of RHEL 3 on Shaun's workstation which was sporting a new (non-broken) disk. This was a feat of skill beyond compare and included a very tricky installation of TOra which luckily I knew how to replicate having done it before.

As a reward well done I'm off to a seminar on Solaris 10 patching and won't be back today. Climbing tonight too.

[17:30] I had a weird attack of needing to hyperventilate this morning when I got up. I don't think I've had anything like it before. Symptoms were that I didn't feel too hot but the breaths I was taking weren't providing me with enough oxygen for me to feel comfortable. I ended up sitting up in bed drinking water and taking lots of deep breaths for about two minutes. Oddly I didn't feel light headed or over oxygenated at any point. Most strange. Since then I've been fine.

Just as I arrived at work I realised that I needed to be on the other side of town for 10:30 so there was only enough time to sort out the installation I'd be doing in the afternoon, talk to Shaun about the failing hard drive in his linux workstation and then head off. The talk was by Dell and had representatives from their server sales team, EMC and VMware. The server guy was up first and laid some fairly interesting information on the Dempsy and other newer chips. When I asked about AMD he became (as all Dell people do) very defensive and actually accused me of being fickle and wanting to follow six month upgrade cycles 'just to have the fastest CPUs'. I decided not to rise to it and just let it drop. The EMC talk on disk-based WORM technology was quite interesting. So much so that I'm thinking of asking the Operations Manager to invite Dell and EMC to talk about it here. The final presentation was on VMware. It's come on a lot since I last looked at it. Server consolidation looks to be a lot more advanced these days and is approaching the kind of hardware usage levels that would influence my specification decisions if I had any applications that would benefit from it.

I got a phone call from B&Q just as the thing was finishing telling me that the chest of drawers I ordered is finally in. Hopefully Elaine and Cormac will be able to collect it this evening when they go shopping. But only if I get out of here in time to get the paperwork. The reason I'm still here is that as soon as I got back I started backing up the linux workstation of one of the web developers in preparation for reinstalling their machine. They forgot to tell me until I got back that the stuff I need to back up is about 16GB in size. Consequently this is still happening and I won't be able to do anything until it's done. I did want to start the operating system installation before I went home this evening but I think I won't bother and will just get in reasonably early tomorrow and do it then (leaving the backup to run for now). They user wants his machine back for lunch time tomorrow so I'm going to have to get a move on. To while away the time since the backup started I've been writing idiot instructions again on how to install the extra stuff the user wants. Of course the last time I had idiot instructions written by me the machine in question was down for half a day, but it's always worth a shot. For now though I think I'll head home and try to assemble some flat-pack furniture (should it arrive).

[10:25] So the weekend was a tale of two days really. On Saturday we slept late before I got up to do some web site work. Eventaully Elaine too got up and we headed to London to see Andy. After meeting him at Victoria and heading to his batchelor pad we spent some time chatting and talking about his movement plans for the future. His current place is lovely; it fits him very well. After a while we wandered into Leicester Square to have some food at Tokyo diner before going out separate ways.

Sunday was all about relaxing, apart from me getting up to try and finish the web site changes I'd been given. This went on long past breakfast time, lunch time and even afternoon snack time, but I think I finished satisfactorily in the end. There's a bit more to do eventually, but not for a while. I'll be glad to see the back of it to be honest. Elaine went to see James for the second half of the day to do firebreathing and juggling on the common. Around 20:00 I took a bike trip over to see them both and we left some time around 22:00. Elaine and I had a chat when we got home before snuggling up in bed.

Unfortunately Elaine is coming down with a sore throat/cold/something so she (and consequently I) didn't sleep too well last night. As a result I wasn't feeling 100 percent fresh this morning when I got up at 06:50. That wasn't so bad, what was bad was getting in and after getting all the databases down on the machine I was due to do LOM and OS patches on, resetting the LOM at the wrong point and leaving the server in an unbootable state. Now I'm waiting on a Sun engineer and hoping that they'll be able to get the machine back up by 12:00 which is when one of the key users needs it back for. I had idiot instructions I'd written myself, did I follow them? Did I buggery, I read what the LOM patch said and reset the SC between patches rather than at the end.

Sometimes I'm so stupid.

[12:45] Ah, Sun engineer saves my bacon. I may do very little this afternoon in case I break something else.

[16:30] In a fit of retail therapy the co-worker and I went into town to try and erase the morning's worry. Ended up making some quite fun purchases and saving money at the expense of the shop. The till person didn't seem to mind (more on that tomorrow too) and I came away happy. I'm thinking of what I got as a pre-Christmas present for Elaine, who's feeling a bit low at the moment. This should cheer her up a bit.

[16:30] Well, the V20z turned up this morning. Naturally it was missing one of the hard disks but we don't think it was the vendor's fault as the machine looks to have come direct from Linlithgow and hence hasn't been vendor-modified as yet. The vendor has promised to ship out a second hard drive for Monday. In the meantime I've powered it up to make sure it works and installed RHEL 4 on it for a laugh. Two things strike you first about V20z machines. Well one thing strikes you straight away; You Don't Start Them Up Outside Of A Server Room. This is because they're really very loud. The second is that they're stinkingly fast. Not only was the install rapid and without problems, the machine ran like a greased stoat once booted. I'm actually looking forward to installing Solaris 10 on it next week.

In other news I got Elaine off to catch the bus with seconds to spare this morning (for which I was duly thanks, and hope to be again this evening when she gets home...), had reheated Domono's Texas BBQ pizza (no onions or green peppers but sausage and steak instead) and a Garlic & Herb dip for lunch. Talk about delicious, I only hope I don't die of something nasty. Chances are slim to none but you never know. I'm off to the gym in a few minutes and then home for a relaxing weekend. Much of it is going to be spent in front of the computer editing web pages for the job I took on and was paid for over a year ago. I can tell you this because the Inland Revenue (bless their little horned hooves) have been delaying taxing me for the money I declared until recently and are now extracting their pound of flesh in ways which reduce my level of happiness substantially. Still, this is what happens when you're a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen.

[11:35] Elaine's got a monster tension headache this morning which came on some time last night during climbing I think. I was very hot at the climbing wall and quite crowded. I think we might start going on a different day after Christmas. We'll see. Anyway, I left her in bed this morning with the phone nearby so she can call her workplace and let them know.

I toddled in to find an email from the people who were supposed to be sending us our replacement Sun saying they were sorry and how was £100 of the next purchase we made? Well, not stunning seeing as it's been a week since I unboxed the original machine when I've not been able to do anything, but hey. Still, it means I've had time to work out a way to shoehorn MySQL 5 onto a RedHat Enterprise Linux 3 machine (at least, it seems to think it's working), catch up on journal entries and generally tidy up the Apache 2 configurations I was talking about yesterday.

[17:05] Gah, what an idiot! I've spent the entire day ringing Homebase trying to track down a chest of drawers I ordered at the beginning of the month. They had no idea what the part was, who I was or when I'd ordered. I checked my online bank account; the money had gone out. I rang Elaine at home and got the entire till reciept down on paper, I rang them back and listed everything, went to the web site but couldn't find the item any more. Nothing doing.

By the end of the day (nowish) I was getting pretty peeved with Homebase until I realised that perhaps (even though I was sure it wasn't) that perhaps I had the wrong place and maybe I should be talking to B&Q instead. Checking my bank account a bit more closely and actually asking Elaine what was at the top of the till reciept confirmed my stupidity. I rang B&Q and am now finally waiting to find out if they actually have my item in the shop yet.

I'm such an idiot. I'll go home as soon as they've run and get some hugs from Elaine.