[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
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
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
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
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
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
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
[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
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
[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
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
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
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
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
[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
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
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
[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
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
[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.
[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
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
[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,
[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