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31/08/2007
[14:35] Hurrah! I have a freshly installed workstation. And it's all shiny and new and running much better versions of everything. And the webcam works better and everything! It's wicked. Sound, lights, working USB and altogether less worry about things going wrong. Not that they won't go wrong, but probably les often. Hey, k3b might even work without me having to loop back in through SSH as root to get it to run.

I guess I should actually do some work now, but I'm too excited with all the new bells and whistles I've got to play with. I should really give a bit of publicity to tvtime which is a very slick and professional bit of software which also (in conjunction with camE) is what is bringing you the new and visually improved BOFHcam. Not only that but I think I can get the second camera running too, even if it's on another machine.

Other than that I've got a nice place booked for dinner this evening, the gym is being refurbished so I'm going swimming instead and I have clementines to eat. Life, right at this moment, is good.

30/08/2007
[16:40] Today I have been mostly working out how to set up my Bt848 webcam under RHEL5 and my goodness it seems to have gone quite well eventually. After some real difficulties trying to get xawtv to work I eventually found tvtime (which gives an astonishingly good image) and camE, which I ended up, after some huge faff, installing from Dag/RPMforge's repository of greatness. This, coupled with the fact that RedHat seem to have included the bttv modules in the vanilla kernels for RHEL5 means that there's no reason why I need hang around on RHEL3 with poor media support and next to no chance of running dual head.

So, I've backed up everything I can think of (more organised than last time when my hard drive began to fail) and have been racking my brains for things I might have missed. Tomorrow I'll be offline (and so will the webcam) until I have the system reinstalled and then everything should be an awful lot shinier (and the webcam image may be better too). I'm sure I'm going to have missed something but what can you do, really? Yes I know, be more careful in what you back up, but I'm sure I've got everything...

Should head off now and go shopping for the weekend, etc. Also, it's Thursday: tonight.

29/08/2007
[17:00] Today I have been mostly fiddling with RHEL5 and helping a colleague upgrade. Of course, I should be doing so too but I'm not sure that my Bt848-based capture card will work in the Optiplex GX745 that's sitting here. Probably something to do with PCI Vs PCI Express (PCIe) vs PCI-X. Computers are stupid and poo sometimes, it has to be said. I may need to use the other GX280 instead. Before that there's the small task of making sure I can compile and install the bttv kernel module on a linux 2.6 kernel.

Other than that... let's see, I went to the gym last night even though I didn't want to all that much. I decided it's time to do a bit more calorie burning rather than muscle building. This lead to a 6km run and then a 2km row on the ergo before I did a bit of light weights work. This had the result of tiring me out utterly. So much so that although I was able to go home, do a huge pile of washing up and make some dinner, once I'd finished a scrumptious munching of said dinner I nearly fell asleep watching one of the new DVDs I bought a few months ago (which only arrived while I was in Greece).

Even so, I still didn't sleep all the way through again, which is annoying. Still, more exercise tonight as I'm climbing. Speaking of which I should probably head off now and get ready.

28/08/2007
[16:10] Had really a rather fabulous weekend all things considered. Saturday was "my" day. This meant I had to make all the decisions and decide what we were suppose to be doing. As a result we got up late and had bacon sandwiches and then prolonged the relaxing morning a little more. After that we cycled into town and bought picnic food before heading down to the river. There we hired a punt and headed off out of town. The weather was absolutely perfect so we stopped out on a meadow and had a picnic with pork pies, buns, sliced meat, champagne and strawberries as well as some very nice fruit juice. After that repast we went back with the current, seeing some lovely things on the way back in. Following that we popped into Sainsburys for some more drink before going into private gardens to see a performance of Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale. After that all that remained was a trip to a Vietnamese restaurant for a lovely, but small meal (incredible that we were able to go without booking in advance!). Simply satisfactorily full rather than stuffed we headed home and ended the day on a high. I'm very very pleased with how such an off-the-cuff'ed planned day came together so perfectly. It's nice to know that I can do something so nice when I try.

Sunday was Jenny's day. This meant getting up late, again, then more bacon sandwiches before jumping on a train with our bikes. I didn't look at the departure board or ask where we were going so it was a surprise when we eventually got off at Ipswich. We were to cycle home via quiet highways and byways (something I love to do). Again the weather was excellent so we did so, stopping off "along the way" in a place called Sudbury which gave us the chance to have a small but lovely pub lunch with two of Jenny's friends. That then allowed us to play board games for a short time out on the grass before eating icecream and drinking lots and lots of liquid. The remaining cycle was curtailed only by the onset of hunger and the close proximity of a train station which could get us home (we still did 55 miles all told though!). Happily the evening meal location was right next door to the station in the shape of an all you can eat Chinese buffet place. I don't think the proprietors made a profit from us that evening. Being quite tired we headed home a few stones heavier each and ended the day happily, again!

Monday, although a bank holiday in the UK, was something of a work day for me seeing as I spent at least three or four hours of it trying to cut my hedge into some sort of publically acceptable state. I have to wonder who actually likes leylandii. The weather was great again though so not only was I able to do that but we could also get out in the sun, go for a cycle to Jenny's place and get some of her room in order for her upcoming departure but also read some more too. I've missed reading for long periods of time and it's always great to be able to stick my nose in a book for a few hours and become absorbed in a story again. Oh, we also got to have pizza and watch a film, which can't be bad. Especially when there's also beer and ice cream. Anyway, Monday was a lot more low-key than the two preceding days but nevertheless a nice way to end the bank holiday weekend. Over the three days there were a few moments when I felt a little sad about things, but on the whole a great number of wonderful memories were created and I'm very very glad it all went so well.

Today work has been dull and frustrating with various technical issues to do with iowait, disk usage on the SAN and some lying utilities (I'm sure they're lying) leading the whole office on some wild goose chases. I could really do with a) eating a lot of chocolate and, b) not eating a lot of chocolate and going to the gym this evening. I feel kind of out of shape at the moment and some photos I saw of myself recently don't really make me feel to pleased. Still, all I need to do is exercise more, eat less crap and not snack between meals and things should come right eventually. As it is I expect to move up a gear with my climbing and running come the beginning of October. Gym tonight anyway.

24/08/2007
[16:15] More dullness today. The actual highlight was the missing RAID cards arriving and me getting to fit them to the three servers, set up RAID1 on them and then repackage them for transport to the company who'll install the firewall software on them.

I think that's it. Other than some planning for tomorrow's activities, which should be rather fun if the weather comes good. Oh and last night's Thursday: was attended by eleven people. Other than some people standing on the sofa (which really bugs me) I think it was a fab evening given the films we watched and the lovely snacks Helen and James brought over.

I should head off now, get to the gym and then get on with enjoying the long weekend. See you Tuesday.

23/08/2007
[17:35] Basically another day of doing very little other than keeping things running, going for a run and having arguments with people about terms of address. Oh and sending people films through the post.

Oh, we're watching Black Sheep and perhaps Smokin' Aces tonight. Which should be good. I'm still famished but I think that eating less and exercising more should mean that I don't have another climbing experience as embarassingly bad as last night again for a while. Jenny (with her new stuff) and I went and found a whole load of new route... and they weren't terribly fun for someone who hasn't climbed in three weeks or so. We didn't have the world's best session, it has to be said. I look forward to losing some weight, getting stronger again and getting to London a bit more often in the next few months.

22/08/2007
[16:40] Argh, so hungry! Must not snack. It's bad enough that I'm feeling hungry all the time since I got back from Greece and started eating sensibly again, but today it's someone's birthday so people keep walking past my office eating slices of cake and biscuits and doughnuts. I will be strong. I will resist.

Today has been dull as ditchwater in terms of work. In fact the highlight has been the torrential downpour outside the window. That and watching a DivX I happened upon over lunch. Still, Jenny has shiny new climbing gear and we hope to go climbing this evening despite the bad weather. What I really fancy right now is some of the curry and rice we had last night. That was fabulous. Stopping myself eating before I was full then was difficult too. Especially as I'd been to the gym for what turned out to be another very hard session. I hate feeling this unfit. It depresses (small D) me. I much prefer being able to run for 6km without feeling too bad, climb for an evening without feeling knackered (we'll find out tonight) and do a gym session without aching the next day. Still, if I go on like this I think I should be back up to snuff fairly soon. But is this my life, to have to keep exercising every day just to keep from becoming tubby? Not that I mind...

21/08/2007
[16:25] Happily my mother's back was a lot better this morning and after breakfast I bid both of them a fond goodbye and headed to work via town to see if I could buy something for Jenny. Unfortunately I couldn't find quite what I wanted so I ended up going to Field & Trek over lunch where not only did I get my ten percent BMC discount but also watched the assistant fail to ring up one of my purchases which meant that everything that I bought was a lot cheaper than I'd expected. Which was nice. Normally I'd have told them they'd not scanned one of my items but given their register system was screwed, I'd had to run across the road in the rain to get some cash out and there was a queue behind me I just let it go for once.

Otherwise today has been fairly quiet. Nothing else much to report. I didn't go for a run seeing as I went to town and I'm off to the gym momentarily. I'm hungry all the time at the moment. Probably something to do with reducing my rations to more sensible amounts and doing more exercise. Hopefully this'll have the effect of taking some of the mild excess I've built up over the last few months off a little.

20/08/2007
[16:50] Saturday was fun. There was a wedding. Even though there was obviously a lot of money floating around the ceremony was quiet, short and sweet. The reception was fairly understated (held in the orchard of the bride's family home) even though the food was top notch. Unfortunately, even though I was in linen shirt and trousers I still overheated terribly (possibly something to do with dancing ever ceilidh dance) and developed some kind of nasty headache which meant that I missed Keith and Cat's housewarming. Still, life goes on.

On Sunday my parents arrived from one of the grand tours of the UK and we had a relaxing afternoon (other than my mother pulling her back badly getting off my sofa) and then a lovely evening meal with Jenny at a local pub. Unfortunately even with my parents in my bed and me on the futon my mother had a terrible night's sleep. I also had a terrible night's sleep and appear to be being bitten by something(s). Even following a run (which nearly killed me) and a shower. I intend to boilwash my clothes and my bed linen tonight in the hopes that that'll help.

Today I have discovered that the three new PowerEdge 1950 boxes we have for new firewall setup have arrived with plain old SAS cards, not RAID versions of same. This is frustrating. It appears that they weren't ordered with same, even though I specified them on the specifications I passed on. Now I have to wait for them to arrive as another order. With luck that was placed today.

Tonight I get a home-cooked meal courtesy of my lovely parents. I should go home soon and make sure my mother's still in one piece. More running tomorrow and gym too. After Friday's semi-successful attempt I really, really need to get back into the swing of things. Did I mention I'd put on some weight during my holiday?

17/08/2007
[16:50] Hello everyone, welcome back. Not that you've been away; I have. Did you notice? I think so. Or not. Maybe you did and you're just not saying. It's OK, you don't have to say anything. It can be our little secret.

Anyway, yes, I've been in Greece. Just under two weeks of really fabulous times. I would have kept a journal as I've done before on other trips (like my sailing thingy last year) but as I had company and, to be honest, didn't want to squander any of my time writing things down I'm going to have to give you a summary of the fun we had here and now in this entry. I'll try to make it a little interesting and more than simply an aide memoire but it's not going to make scintillating reading. Even if the trip itself was.

Jenny and I took a coach from the centre of town to Birmingham (not a completely dull trip as you might suppose, probably due to the company) and flew (yes, I know, carbon footprints and all that) to Kalamata (where the olives come from. Jenny and I hate olives). The flight had been very late for various reasons not adequately explained (we reckon they just wouldn't tell us there was something serious broken on it). This meant the chances of us being able to collect our hire car were slim. However the nice Greek lady at Hertz Kalamata Airport stayed open an extra hour to allow us to collect it. This was fantastic as it meant we could drive to our first night hotel rather than take a taxi there and back to get the car in the morning. In the pitch darkness, on mountain roads, in an unfamiliar car, on the other side of the road we set off.

Everything was fine, Jenny drove brilliantly and we found the place easily. After celebrating in the best manner possible we went to sleep in a cool, air conditioned room. In the morning we ate hugely at breakfast. So hugely in fact that I felt a bit ill for a while afterwards. Luckily this went away and we were able to abuse the facilities until checkout time. The drive to our first long-term accommodation didn't take more than half an hour. Up on a hill, overlooking a narrow but long beach we had a great view of Koroni just around the coast. The place was Greek-basic but perfectly lovely.

The next few days were all about relaxing, swimming before breakfast, doing something in the afternoon after reading or sleeping through the heat of the midday sun and then going out for a lovely, lovely meal in the evening before bed. The weather was fantastic the whole time with clouds only on the Monday (rumour had it there could have been rain in Athens). We took some trips in the car to Koroni and so forth (some good shots of the castle and churches there will follow soon) and basically 'chilled' (heat allowing) out. One of the best days was a drive through Kalamata to Stoupa on the 'finger' of the Peloponnese opposite ours. Driving up and around the mountains was apparently a lot of fun and not very stressful for Jenny. I wish I'd had more driving experience so that I could have taken my turn, but I think we did little enough driving that it wasn't a problem.

On the Saturday morning we packed up and drove to Kalamata to take a bus to Athens. Aside from the sheer length of the journey and the fact that the toilet onboard was filled with mops and buckets (i.e. not in use) it was an uneventful and enjoyable way to see a lot of Greek countryside (note: all Greek countryside looks the same, only the contours differ). A taxi from the bus station to our hotel (five star no less, laa-de-dah) was interesting due to the soldier sitting in the front seat who paid far less for his journey than we did, I think. Also for the police car which pulled us over to get change for some large Euro notes. The hotel was fabulous and very worth the money I'd paid for one night. We thoroughly abused the facilities before putting on some half-way decent (actually we looked pretty darned great) clothes and making our way across Athens by foot and metro to the Acropolis area to stare up and around at the ancient ruins laid out around us. The Greeks really are very lucky to have so much 'history' so close to them. Of course it means that any civil or structural works will be plagued by archeological finds! After a wander we headed thence to the area in and around Plaka to be convinced to eat at one of a thousand eating establishments. Full, hot and tired we made our way back to the hotel.

Sunday we abused the facilities some more including a huge breakfast before checking out on the dot of midday. Leaving our bags with the hotel we wandered into the National Archaeological Museum which was less than two minutes away. After getting dizzy looking at so much history we had a snack in a cafe just outside the entrance and wandered through the park opposite the hotel before collecting our bags and catching a metro to Piraeus and the harbour.

Although we'd wanted a 'slow' ferry to Hydra we ended up on a "Flying Dolphin" (hydrofoil) which was probably better as we got to the island in plenty of time. Despite the door saying we weren't allowed outside we both spent the whole trip on the deck at the back of the speeding ship getting mildly damp from salty sea spray.

Hydra is a lovely island and although the area around the harbour is very commercialised this drops off to nothing almost immediately. In fact Hydra is one of the places Greeks come on holiday. I may not have mentioned that both places we chose to be had little to no other English-speaking people. It was wonderful. So yes, Hydra was our other destination and a small six-room guest house a little way back from the harbour. Clean, spartan (ho ho) and basic it was all that we needed.

Hydra was all about walking, drinking cool drinks in the shade and taking trips to a beach around the island's coast (where we hired a sea kayak and discovered the world's largest super-yacht (AKA a djinn palace) in the next bay. We also managed to get a 'slow' ferry to Spetses where we spent the day walking and exploring as much as we could in the time we had, as well as a swim in the sea off a rock cove. Also, more drinks and ice cream.

My overriding memories of that time are meals in real Greek tavernas surrounded by Greeks and listening to live Greek music (especially on the last night), walks in the sun and shade through the streets of the town and other such nice things.

When we left we took a "Flying Cat" (a catamaran) back to Piraeus and a bus to the airport where we spent the last of our Euros (I know, we didn't need to on a McDonalds (how gauche!). The flight home was with BA and left a little late so while the seats were very comfortable and the food edible, we landed a little late and had to wait over an hour for our bags to come off the carousel owing to staff shortages. Staff shortages? So, why not employ more staff? Anyway, we missed two coaches home but were lucky enough to get on a nearly empty one at 22:40. This saw us home a little after 01:00 this morning.

Yes, this means I came into work the same day as I got home from holiday. I know. Still, it does mean that I can start next week with a reasonable-sized inbox and no worries about things having fallen over in the meantime. Speaking of falling over, my DECT phone gave up the ghost because I turned it off at the mains while I went away. I didn't mean to but I thought it was something else. When I tried to turn it on this morning it looks like the power adapter has gone, or something in the base unit. Good job I've got a mobile.

In other news: only 1,308 emails to wade through this morning, a load of washing done already, three servers racked and ready for prepping before I box them up to be sent away to have firewall software installed on them and my Amazon order from the US arrived while I was away, so on the whole I'm more happy than sad.

I still wish I was on holiday. Photos to follow shortly. Probably over the weekend when I get time. Although I'm at a wedding and a housewarming over the weekend. One of which is going to be a bit odd, but I'm sure it'll be fine. Oh, and my parents will be staying Sunday and Monday nights which'll also be nice.

I should head to Tesco and get some food back in the house. Can I be bothered to go to the gym after that? Who can say.

03/08/2007
[15:30] They say "always end on a song". Well, I'm going away for two weeks to Greece on Sunday so there's an ending (or a pause at any rate). It's not a song I'm ending on but more an accounting for my actions and behaviour with people and one or two persons in particular that I'm doing at the moment. I've been very remiss in my handling of some friends, old and new, over the past few months for reasons both obvious, obscure and just plain personal. I need to be a lot better at things and I'm hoping that with the turn around in my fortunes over the next two months my head'll be back on more of an even keel. I've been quite selfish and self-absorbed (something I thought I'd mostly kicked after my first girlfriend left) and what's more I've been able to see it, but its felt like (not the right thing but the) easiest thing to do in the rarified circumstances I placed my own good self in.

Well now, finally the chickens I've been juggling are beginning to come home to roost and I need to clean up my act. Luckily at least one of the people affected has the patience of a saint and is a nice person to boot. Even so I've pushed them quite a bit further than even they expected they could be pushed. I really need to go back to being the nicer person I know I am. Between now and being so I'm going to have to disappoint at least one other person and tidy up some other aspects of my life... but I think at the end of it all I'll be back to being a) a little bit less happy with my own personal satisfaction and fulfillment but, b) a hell of a lot happier about my impact on other people's lives.

In other news, I cleanly updated the SP and BIOS on the last of our Sun Fire V20z servers this morning (the live load balancer), had a lovely cycle through town and have cleared my email inbox down to a startling 28 messages. As a result I'm going to go home via Sainsburys very shortly and have a great night out before a day of shopping and a garden party tomorrow and then an early coach to Birmingham Inhternational for my flight to Greece.

I'll be back some time around about 16th/17th August. Not sure I'll keep a journal as things are liable to be quite hectic, but there should be photos and a roundup of what went on at the very least. See you soon.

Sorry there's no song.

02/08/2007
[11:15] Over the last day and a bit I've been dipping in and out of an old journal written by a freelance writer moonlighting as a video store clerk. It's quite interesting. Other than that I've decided to come into work in sandals this morning. Obviously this means that its become overcast now. This therefore doesn't bode well for this evening's barbeque.

[16:25] Bums to this, I'm bored witless. Home time and preparation for my barbeque, even if it isn't sunny.

01/08/2007
[16:15] August, how did that happen? Time certainly does fly when you're having fun. And I've been having fun. Make no mistake about it. I will admit that the overwhelming experience of the year to date has been positive. Still, not long now. Anyway, on with today's trials and tribulations...

First up is the mystery of the completely confused Sun Fire V20z service processor which refused to do anything other than being in a snit and continue to reboot itself. One wonders if it wouldn't have been better to simply let it be for a little while and then approach it with fresh eyes. As it was it took myself and my line manager to bully the thing into accepting a new firmware image and an IP on the same network as the NSV server (my linux box). It all seems fine now, but I'm glad it was the failover load balancer and not the live one (which I'll be doing on Friday!). Still, I'm pretty sure I know what I did wrong. Pretty sure, anyway.

Other than that I've been working on graphing something, fiddling with the load balancers and generally nattering to people about stuff. Last night was lovely as I ended up going for dinner at Jenny's, a cycle and a walk out in the country and then back to her house for dessert before going home. I'm pleased to say that after the excellent climbing session on Monday I appear to have been pretty spot on with my application of relaxation and exercise in getting over this cold in short order. Of course it's not gone yet, but it's hopefully very much on the way out.

Tonight I need to go into town to get some shoes which aren't Gore-Tex lined or designed for strenuous activity. No, these will be smart-casual shoes (my first pair, fear my lack of wardrobe!) such that I can wear them with trousers (!) and soforth.

Try not to faint. I know, it's the heat.