Menu Members Guests LTQ
BOFHcam navigation bar

BOFHJournal

1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017

August's Journal
October's Journal


30/09/2005
[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.

29/09/2005
[03/10/2005 - 08:50] Relaxing, chilling, DVDs.

28/09/2005
[03/10/2005 - 08:50] Relaxing, chilling.

27/09/2005
[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.

26/09/2005
[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 bad.

23/09/2005
[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.

22/09/2005
[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 gateway IP.

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.

21/09/2005
[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.

20/09/2005
[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.

19/09/2005
[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 the phone.

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.

16/09/2005
[19/09/2005 - 08:10] Nothing happened. Honestly.

15/09/2005
[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.

14/09/2005
[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 bridge.

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 midnight.

13/09/2005
[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.

12/09/2005
[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 with.

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 FUN!"

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.

09/09/2005
[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.

08/09/2005
[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 off.

Thursday evening DVDage tonight. Then bed. Very much then bed.

07/09/2005
[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.

06/09/2005
[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).

05/09/2005
[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 these days.

02/09/2005
[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 haven't been.

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.

01/09/2005
[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.