[03/10/2005 - 08:50] Relaxing, chil... no I'm kidding. Today I got up with
Elaine and cycled into town to see the doctor about the problems I've been
having getting a decent night's sleep recently. Nothing conclusive, but I've
got a referal. I then spent some time walking around places asking for
remortgage deals and came away thinking that it's all a bit more complicated
than I really thought and most places are out to fleece you something rotten.
After some time spent in one bank/building society or another I went for my
sight test and found that although I have very healthy eyes, my left one is
still worsening (slowly). Following that I went and changed insurance provider
and took the opportunity to upgrade the amount of contents we have insured.
That took most of the morning and some of the afternoon so I went home and put
my feet up to watch the last of the Firefly episodes I've been working through
in preparation for seeing Serenity in a week or so. By the evening Elaine and
I were ready for winding down for the weekend but then something cool happened.
Andy rang from his new flat in London. He was at a loose end, didn't have
anything to do and felt the journey wasn't that far to come and see us. We
happily agreed and while he traveled to see us I made kedgeree for the two of
us while Elaine took a load off.
It was great to see Andy and, while I only managed to stay up until 02:00,
Elaine and he stayed up until about 04:00.
[03/10/2005 - 08:50] Relaxing, chilling, DVDs.
[03/10/2005 - 08:50] Relaxing, chilling.
[10:15] This morning was another 'I don't want to get up' morning due to
another night of broken sleep. I still managed to drag myself out of bed in
time to pull on my running stuff and run all the way to Elaine's workplace and
a few hundred meters back again before she caught up with me. Being quite
tired after that I've come home, had a shower, caught up on journal entries
and am now going to put some washing on, do the washing up and then have
something to eat while I have a well-deserved slob in front of the television
for a little while.
[27/09/2005 - 10:00] The weekend was pretty cool. I got up late on Saturday
morning and wended my way to the train station to go and visit Andrea in
Peterborough. She's been laid up for a while after a knee injury and a
subsequent operation to fix bits of it back together again. It's taken her
away from her athletics training and also, basically, having much fun. Dunk
mentioned that he was heading up there at the weekend so I shoehorned myself in and there I was too. Dunk and I managed to coordinate our arrivals into
Peterborough such that I was on a train which was one minute ahead of his.
Once we'd met up we walked over to Andrea's and, after a cup of tea and a chat
we wandered into the town centre to have a look around and take advantage of
the weather while it's still around. Andrea's been told to keep all weight off
her knee so I got to push her in a wheelchair. It's the first time I've ever
been out with her when I've been able to look down on her (she's over six feet
tall). You also gain an appreciation for the road engineers/designers who put
in drop curbs, etc.
After a bimble around town we wandered back via an AV shop where Dunk fell in
love with an LCD HDTV. I think he's going to buy one after Christmas. We also
dropped into Asda to get some snacks for the DVDs we were going to watch in the
evening. Those were, in the end, Kill Bill vol.1 and 2. We settled down to
watch them, breaking half way through to go and pick up some Chinese food,
before we crashed out for the night.
I don't know what it is at the moment but I'm sleeping really, really badly.
Saturday night was no exception and I was still very tired on Sunday morning.
Bacon sandwiches and Tropicana helped, as did mowing all of Andrea's grass so
she doesn't have to hobble about the place doing it. Once I'd done that is
was pretty much time to go so Dunk and I headed to the station where he caught
his train with about five minutes to spare. Good timing. Of course I had to
wait about fifty minute for my train and, as I had a book with me I settled
down on what I thought was my platform to wait for it. When I next checked
the departures board I realised I'd been sitting on the wrong platform and I'd
missed my train. Cursing my luck I got on the next one going in the right
direction and after a change I needn't have made, got home.
I slept badly again on Sunday night and really didn't want to face the day on
Monday (which should have been holiday). Luckily it wasn't a terribly early
start as Monday was planned as my department's 'Away Day'. This was a chance
for the Director to tell us about what's been happening and will be happening
in the department. It was actually fairly interesting and the buffet lunch
(TANSTAAFL) was quite nice too. I was home by 14:30 and able to go for a hair
cut later on. I spent the remainder of the afternoon trying to get doctor,
dentist, optician and insurance adviser appointments for the rest of the week.
I was only partially successful. I did get to tidy the kitchen a fair bit and
watch some recorded Battlestar Galactica and Stargate though, so it wasn't all
[16:55] Spent most of the day regretting the fact that I forgot to bring my
trainers to work for running at lunch time. As a result I decided to work
through lunch and get an old server removed from a rack and the new one (which
isn't staying) racked up. With some trepidation I tried booting it with the
USB key of Great Kickstarting and it worked, well as far as it could without a
serial console and a network connection. I'm looking forward to trying it for
real in a week or so's time. I won't be doing it next week on account of
taking Tuesday to Friday off as holiday. This is what happens when you don't
take your holiday in a sensible manner and have to cram it all in at the end.
So yes, I'll be off next week but still updating if anything happens at all.
I'd be taking Monday off too but we're having an "Away Day" then from 10:00
until 14:00. The afternoon is for "leisure activities" so I would imagine that
will be shopping, or going home and back to sleep.
[17:40] So today I had tons of fun modifying splash.lss on the kickstart USB
key I've made as well as modifying the configuration to also boot a RHEL 4 WS
image as well as RHEL 3 WS and the mutiple RHEL 3 AS custom installations. I
nearly went for a run but ended up doing some test installations instead and
then speking the afternoon working on a machine that didn't seem to want to
talk to the network during installation. Turns out I had misspecified the
These are the tiny things that make up my day. As a result I'm going home to
do something a bit more exciting with my life. Probably.
[22/09/2005 - 11:40] Spent the morning working out how to get all my many RHEL
boot floppies onto a USB memory stick. It actually went very well and before
too long I was able to boot Shaun's new PC off it to kickstart his new
installation. Luckily it went quite quickly as I had to get out of the place
by 13:00 to get to the center of town for 13:30 for coffee, biscuits and the
yearly Institutional IT meeting. This is a chance for all IT people in the
place to get together, listen to what's been going on and, more importantly,
have a damned good bitch about new Directors, pay scales and projects which are
doomed to failure.
This was pretty much what happened and resulted in a group of us needing to go
to a nearby bar and getting semi-drunk on cheap cocktails. In the end I left
to go home and have chicken fajitas with Elaine and Cormac.
[17:25] Again, we had trouble getting a good night's sleep last night. Elaine
went out to see the new Pride and Prejudice at the cinema with some others
while I stayed home and watched the last four episodes of The West Wing, season
three. Those are the ones with Mark Harmon playing the Secret Service agent
protecting C.J. Very good television, definitely worth the rewatch. I may
start watching my DVDs from the very beginning some time soon.
This morning I spent some time getting the server I'm decommissioning in a
state where it could be brought back up in a rush if necessary as well as
tweaking the setup scripts to deal with the new server. After a lovely pub
lunch with Shaun and a co-worker I set to work powering down the old server
and moving all the connectors, to the new one and powering it up. The install
went smoothly, as did all but one part of the post-install scripts. That was
down to having too many copies of the same script floating about and not using
the one with the most up to date modifications in it. That's all sorted now
and therefore should be 'perfect' for the upgrade/replacement of the live
server (this one being the standby server). All I have do now is wait for
someone else to come up with a date for a disaster recovery (I know, a normal
DR event doesn't get planned in advance) switch and I can do the live server
and get it swapped into place.
Tomorrow I get to do a proper install of Shaun's Dell GX620 with RHEL 3 update
5 such that he can start working on it on Thursday. All I can say is thank
goodness for Kickstart install points and keeping them up to date with current
drivers and such. I seriously doubt the SATA2 interface is going to live up to
its 3Gb/s theoretical maximum, but it seems to be fairly nippy all the same.
I think I'm going to go home before it rains.
[17:15] A quiet weekend with very little done. Elaine bought a bike at the
tail end of last week, I forgot to mention that. It's a lovely new Marin with
sloick tyres and a chunky lock. She was fettling it for some of the weekend
including getting the pannier rack and new mudguards on it. Perfect for the
coming winter which seemed to put in an appearance at the end of the week too
with some bitter winds one one of the days. Anyway, we relaxed for most of the
weekend and welcomed Elaine's dad on Saturday morning. Other than a trip to
a DIY store for a bird table and a feeder the days were mostly about chilling
out. This wasn't entirely possible on Sunday morning as, between 03:45 and
06:00 there was loud music somewhere in the city. It was so loud in fact that
Elaine went out on her bike for two hours to try and track it down as she
wasn't able to sleep. She couldn't find it so I went out later on at a more
sensible time and tracked it down to a substation complex where there were some
snapped padlocks and a CCTV camera turned to the wall. I reported the damage
to EDF Electricity and guided an engineer to the spot a few hours later over
This morning I was in work for 07:30 to prepare for the upgrade of a major
application. Everything seemed to go swimmingly apart from a few problems
with Oracle listener port numbers. Other than that I've been racking up new
servers for replacement of our oldest Intel-based hardware (PowerEdge 4400s)
and will begin trail installs tomorrow. Have to go now, Elaine needs me to
read out the shopping list over the phone while she's at Tesco.
[19/09/2005 - 08:10] Nothing happened. Honestly.
[13:35] Today is mostly about relaxing and wondering whether Elaine is going
to come back with some new clothes, a new bike, or both. I'm also going to
tidy the house a bit and do some washing, reading and eating. That's about it
I think. A good holiday day.
[15/09/2005 - 12:30] We got up a bit earlier this morning in an attempt to get
to London in good time. The cycle to the station was fine but we arrived just
a few minutes before a train. We'd have caught it too if three of the four
automated ticket machines hadn't been out of action and the fourth one firstly
being used by the world's dumbest person and then (even after 10:00) refusing
to allow me to buy tickets with my railcard. In the end I had to go to the
ticket booths and queue. it didn't matter in the end as we got the cheaper
tickets and got on a non-stop train a few minutes later.
London was quiet (given the time we were there) and I didn't really notice
anything until Elaine mentioned how odd it was traveling on the Underground.
I have to say I hadn't given it a moment's though or even remembered that there
was anything to think about. We took the most direct route (even though it
mean changing twice) to Blackfriars and then walked over the Millennium Bridge
after inspecting the underside throughly. I've alwasy liked construction and
bridges and things but since being with Elaine I've developed a greater
appreciation of just how the vectors of force, etc. affect the design of a
So anyway, after admiring the bridge for a while we actually went into the Tate
Modern and made our way up to the top gallery floor. I won't bore you with
the details of the pictures, installation 'art', video installations and
sculpture except to say that there is some good art in the world and there is
some bad art in the world. Then there are the people who should be forced to
eat their 'art' as penance for inflicting it on others. So anyway, we had a
good look around, wandered around the shop, went into the Turbine Hall and
boggled at the size of the place and then headed out to watch the world go by
for a while. Walking back over the bridge we walked into St Paul's Cathedral
and then back out again given the price of admittance. After a brief look in
Blacks (pink Brashers!) we haed back on the Underground to the station and
took the train home.
Cormac and Steph turned up and took us climbing as usual. This time it was
Elaine's turn to flake out with exhaustion (makes a change from me) after a
while so when we came home she headed to bed while I entertained until around
[10:15] Elaine and I are off to London today to the Tate Modern (first time),
possibly some shopping and maybe even some climbing at The Castle. I'm getting
into the swing of the holiday now and am barely thinking about work at all now.
This is something of a record for me. It usually takes at least a week to stop
thinking at which point the holiday is over. I blame Elaine. In a good way.
[12:00] OK, the Ashes celebrations mean we're not going to London today. We
will probably go tomorrow instead, if Elaine gets her test ride on a Marin
moved to Thursday.
[13/09/2005 - 10:10] After a rather quiet weekend of relaxing and stuff it was
still nice to sleep in in the morning instead of getting up to go to work.
What we did do was cycle all over town looking at new bikes for Elaine to think
about buying. At the same time we stopped in at a kitchen design place and
talked over stuff with one of the design consultant thingy people about what
to do with mine. He came up with a huge price (which I won't mention here)
but that did see to include everything. I'm not sure I'm willing to
pay what he quoted, but we'll see how the saving goes and what else we come up
Back from town Cormac came over to take us shopping with him for stuff to do
his new shower and an incinerator for the garden waste. After bemoaning the
cost of an RCD (£50!) we drove back to his place where he started
replacing his electric shower, Elaine started designing a bespoke airing
cupboard and I got to work with the incinerator and some rather wet grass
clippings. The lesson of the day is "Used with respect accelerants can be
After two or three hours of playing with fire and everyone else doing their
thing we were tired and hungry so went for a curry at the place three doors
down from Cormac's house. After eating I had another of of those total energy
loss moments and after being driven home again by Cormac and Steph, they and
Elaine chinwagged for a bit while I crashed out.
[13/09/2005 - 10:00] After getting in and working on a plan to replace the
oldest hardware in the building with brand spanky new PowerEdge 2850s I
realised there wasn't anything else I could sensibly get on with before going
on holiday so, shortly after lunch I left.
Heading into town I stopped off in Borders and bought Elaine a VW Camper
magazine I'd spied before realising that the skies had literally opened and
there was no sensible way I was going to get home undrenched. I settled down
with a book for a bout an hour until the thunder, lightning and torrential
downpour had paused. Once home I prepared for Elaine's arrival and watched the
rain come down again, plus hail and wind. When she arrived, bedraggled and
giggling I helped her dry off (neither of us had waterproofs with us). She
told me that the street was flooded so we wandered out in shorts, t-shirts and
sandals to wade about and take some pictures of flooded roads and bubbling
manhole covers before heading in and getting dry.
Cormac and Steph came over later to take us all to one of the new Wok and Grill
places in town. I have to say the food was excellent but they refused
to serve us tap water and charged £1.00 for 'filtered water' by the jug.
That was the only negative aspect to the whole experience. Well that and the
pain I had from overeating.
[17:20] It's like all my energy just left my body in one sudden burst. Very
odd feeling. At this rate I may not make it home. It's been a good day
otherwise. Aside from having to figure out exactly what the APC management
cards meant by some of their settings I've had to interrogate the Oracle DBAs
to find out how long their shutdown scripts run so that I can get the machines
to shut the operating system down after that, rather than during. In the end
I've gone for a flat ten minutes after the script starts. If the machines are
up much longer than that they'll cook in their rails due to the air
conditioning having failed.
Running at lunch time wasn't as body-destroying as I thought it might have been
(after Monday's slight debacle) but I think that's part of the reason I'm now
so incapable of movement. I'm enjoying the endorphin thing that comes with
having finished a pushed 10k run and getting away from the screen for an hour
or so but it's meaning that a good night's sleep is essential. Unhappily this
weather isn't helping in that regard.
About the only important thing I still have to do this week before a week off
is come up with a plan of action to replace the two aging PowerEdge 4400
servers running some very important applications with two spanky new 2850 boxes
instead. It should be really easy given the development work I did on
kickstarting and the rsyncing stuff I have in place at the moment. We'll see
how it goes. Other than that I'm on tape-changing duty this week but the old
backup system was today completely phased out so I only have the tapes in the
L25 to do tomorrow, and the one in the VMS box. How I wish we could turn that
Thursday evening DVDage tonight. Then bed. Very much then bed.
[17:55] Last of the Solaris boxen with dodgy old versions of Java added to the
APC UPS thingy. Pretty neat how little time it's taken when I actually got
down to it.
Mostly the rest of the day has been spent getting a handle on the Java
keytool/keystore thing for the application upgrade I'm doing a week on Monday.
Had a nice lunch with someone who's on 24hour vet duty at the moment. Outdoors
is something of a novelty for them at the moment.
This afternoon also had a meeting about who does what in the upgrade. Not
terribly exciting, but it certainly irons out what's Not My Problem come 08:00
on the 19th. No climbing this evening so I intend to finally finish the
Clifford D. Simak book I borrowed from someone a few months ago.
[17:10] One of those really productive days you sometimes get. From the off
I've been listening to tunes, installing, modifying, saving and zipping up
setup files for Solaris and Linux APC Network Shutdown client software and
generally getting all our machines to listen to the UPSes they're actually
served by. I believe this is something of a first. Of course there are the
usual problems with multiple versions of Sun's JRE/JDK on the same machine and
none of them being the right version of better (1.4.2_03). You'd have
thought that Solaris 9 might have shipped with a newer version (or that we'd
have patched it by now). Still, all but six of the machines I look after
(three on each of the two sites which are APC-served) have UPS clients on them
now. Of course, there are two Windows boxes that need doing too but that's so
not my problem (even if I have emailed the people responsible and will help
them if they need it).
[17:30] Amazingly simple day considering we lost another two SAN disks, two of
the UPSen had fits over the weekend and I got very little sleep last night due
to a monster thunderstorm at around 04:00. None of the machines had a problem
with the power issues, the SAN maintained itself and my coworker had already
logged the call when I arrived (early) this morning.
I've spent the day looking at the upgrade instructions the external developers
have left me for the application changes they've made over the weekend on the
development site. That, a run in the hightest humidity I've ever run in and
changing the tapes and working out (very quickly!) why they'd failed (the
backups) so spectacularly on Sunday night has been most of my day. Nothing
terribly exciting for once.
The weekend was very quiet with a relaxing Saturday and a Sunday spent lazing
in the sun and then preparing for a barbecue, having a barbecue, organising the
initial stuff for my 30th birthday trip to Spain next year and then sitting
back and watching Ray Mears explore Canada on the television. The huge thunder
and lightning storm overnight really didn't help my need for more recharging
[03/09/2005 - 14:20] It's really not been the most pleasant of days. After the
hassles of yesterday I was hoping things would be a little easier today. They
I had to disable the UPS client software on all of the machines in this server
room yesterday. That was a blast. Forty-four machines to SSH to and issue the
same commands. They don't allow root access either so there were extra hoops
to jump through first. So, yes, my team leader stayed late last night doing
more experiments with the network card and sent an email late on in the evening
mentioning a firmware upgrade we could try. Damnit if I don't usually look for
those type of things myself. I can't understand how I managed to miss that
possibility this time around. Anyway, I set myself to finding a Windows box
where I had enough rights to install the firmware upgrade software and then
performing the upgrade. I've never known 779KB of firmware code take so long
to flash to a device. Almost two and a half hours before it was done. There's
nothing like worrying you're about to power off almost one hundred production
machines to keep your blood pumping.
The new firmware seemed a bit more stable (and also gave 3-phase monitoring
back, something we'd lost since we changed card types a few months ago) so the
team leader and I spent most of the day trying to understand the various and
overlapping time variables that're available to us for notifiying and shutting
down clients and the UPS itself. Not all of them make sense or seem to be
obeyed in some circumstances. On top of this worry I was tasked with trying to
get our servers at two other machine rooms to start listening to our two
different APC UPSen there as well. Not having an easy way to get to and work
with machines that might be shut down by a bad software install I chose to
install the software I found on APC's site on a machine here. I'm sad to say
that after the hassles of the MGE stuff the built-in mini-web server of the
APC client software was a refreshing change. Of course, groking the
'silentInstall' stuff was fairly annoying when the command line options don't
understand ./ for "this directory" but require the full path regardless. That
and the software writing out the sample silentinstall.ini file but neglecting
to put in the slash-protection (yes I know the comments in the actual
file tell you you need them, but why can't they be added at the same time
automagically if it's known they're required?).
Anyway, I made some progress with that stuff and the team leader made some
progress with the MGE stuff, even if she ignored what I was saying for a while
before admitting that perhaps I was right about a little bit of it. We both
ended up staying way way past when we should have gone home on a Friday as I
had to start up all forty-four UPS client installations before I went home to
ensure that we at least had some protection over the weekend and she
needed to make sure she wasn't setting the wrong values on things.
Aside from bone-aching tiredness, annoyance, anger over shoddy software,
hardware, firmware and vague vapourware I'm just a little stressed out and
could really do with some release. The one good thing to come out of the last
few days is that the Operations Manager is now so pissed off with the MGE
installation that he's decided to bin the whole thing and get another APC
unit (80KVA rather than the current 40KVA we have right now) which will mean
we can run more machines, for longer, with the air-conditioning on, finally.
I can see that that excites you. Don't hide it.
[17:50] It's been a bastard of a day today. As soon as I got in this morning I
was helping a colleague bring up all the machines in the server room
in this building. The management card in the MGE UPS had gone
nutso-schizoid-bonkers on us again and decided that the UPS (with fairly new
batteries) only had one minute of runtime remaining and had told everyone to
"Shut down NOW NOW NOW!". This wasn't helpful. The card was removed from the
network and all the machines powered up again. No data loss, no (as far as we
can tell) significant/noticable loss of service. But bloody annoying. I've
spent the entire rest of the day doing all kinds of things to it via a laptop
and hub to see if I can get any joy from it. I've had my team leader looking
over my shoulder and taking over half the time as well. It's been a stressful
day, I hate everything and the run at lunchtime was hot, exhausting but in the
end very worth it. The chance to do something other than curse Java, internal
connections twixt management card and UPS and the stupid number of machines we
have getting their instructions from the UPS was very very worth it. I'm so
glad it's a short week this week, I only wish it were Friday today. I've
cancelled tonight's DVD evening because I just want to go home and have some
peace and quiet for a while.