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31/01/2007
[01/02/2007 - 08:55] Spent most of the day sneezing, watching television and for the first time in years taking drugs. Had a bit of company during the day and made a tasty pasta bake for tea, which was nice. Still, usual strangeness quotient for the day was fulfilled, even if it was late on in the day.

30/01/2007
[12:35] I've been told to go home. Apparently no-one wants what I've got. It's only a sniffle and sore throat. Ungrateful co-workers. Still, things to do at home.

29/01/2007
[17:40] Blow me if I haven't managed to get proper dual head X display working on the new Dell Optiplex GX745. Not quite sure how/how I didn't manage it before. Maybe it was something to do with installing the beta of RHEL 5 and hoping that would do it automagically. It didn't, but it gave me enough raw material to work with to enable it to work properly. Which is good. I'm now trying the same configuration on RHEL 4 and then if that works, RHEL3 (which is what we're using on desktops and most of the servers here still (we be afraid of the 2.6 kernel heebie-jeebies)). More on that as I have it.

A weekend of ups and downs. Had a great Saturday but I can't quite tell you what happened. Really, I wish I could remember. There's definitely a two hour window where I can't remember anything at all. I do know I got up late after a delicious lie in bed, then went to the pub for lunch, came home to no washing up, which is always nice, and then there's a blank. Next thing Dunk is turning up and then we're heading out to meet Sam and Amy in the pub for dinner before Kate's party at James'. Everyone had an excellent time and it was nice to be able to get new people talking to each other. I do like bringing new people together and seeing them get on. Of course by around midnight I was having to take a brief doze on a sofa and just about the time I was going to get up and rejoin things almost everyone pootled off home. As a result Dunk, Sam and I went home for some tea and toast before bed. Even with lack of sleep we were both up and around and eating bacon and such by 10:30. The rest of the day was spent going walking out in what little sun there was during the day. Went to Tesco, had some food and watched a film. Another very late night though.

OK, this entry has been typed between 15:00 and 17:00ish and in that time I've been unable to get dual-head display working on RHEL4. Sure I can get clone head working, but not dual head. And the beat goes on. But probably not until tomorrow. I wanted to go and give blood today but I think that someone or something has given me a nasty sore throat which will definitely preclude me from doing so. Still, I'm being cooked for this evening so it's not so bad.

Why am I suddenly so tired?

26/01/2007
[15:10] OK, let's make a better attempt to remember something about today than yesterday. Well for a start I got into work in good time but ended up leaving and going home again for a few hours. Don't ask. Suffice it to say I had to change my shorts. Anyway, back in work I was able to concentrate on things long enough to start another test install on the Optiplex 745, this time with RHEL4, just to see if the machine'll do dual-head display with a DVI breakout card and the built-in D-SUB in it rather than an actual second display. Oh yes, the fun never ends here. Still, it's getting close to the end of the day and shortly I'll be going to the gym, home, eating a massive amount of chilli and rice and then reading my Jasper Fforde book. If I'm lucky it may be a great evening to the very end.

25/01/2007
[26/01/2007 - 15:00] Oddly I didn't seem to do a journal entry for today (I'm writing this tomorrow, as it were). Not quite sure why. Thursdays, as they are wont to be, was quite quiet. I think the highlight was having 4.2TB of new disk storage arrive, getting to play with a new Dell 745 and generally being a bit more relaxed again than the day before. What else. Oh yes, in the evening we watched Thank You For Smoking which has to be one of the better films I've seen in many a year.

Oh yes, went to lunch to meet Cormac and Natalie too. That was pretty cool. Now, why was I late for that... Nope, no idea. Anyway, there were over at my place well before I was last night. I'm still not entirely sure whether giving Cormac keys to my house is a good idea but it did mean the washing up was done, which is nice. Frankly very little seems to have stuck about this particular Thursday. Not sure why.

24/01/2007
[18:00] I had such a weird time last night. Not to say that is was any kind of bad thing. Completely unprovoked (at leat that evening) I had four people being very nice to me all at the same time. Those kind of evenings are very rare and I'm very glad to have been the recipient of it. Additionally someone from my semi-recent past resurfaced and it was fairly pleasant to talk to them too. However it was the nice things that kept me up until 01:20ish this morning. Oddly I wasn't too tired when I awoke this morning. Thankfully. I was in work in good time and actually being productive even with the snow outside. We didn't have much snow to be honest. I'm hoping for more overnight. Not that it'd stop me getting into work, but I'd like to do another snowman this year and not be chastised for it by the management.

The whole Unix and Networks group went out for breakfast this morning as soon as I got in, which was nice. A walk in the cold and snow to the food place, sitting around doing some social stuff and a cooked breakfast pretty much got me off to a perfect start. We only missed a few important messages.

In a stroke of good luck it appears that this evening is going to be rather fun as I've an offer from a good friend I've not seen in a little while to keep me company if what I have planned doesn't come to pass. I like that. In other good luck news the Dell server in town which started reporting a 'bad DIMM' a few weeks ago and no-one noticed until this morning (have to add something to our monitoring for things like that) has been 'fixed' with a BIOS and BMC/ESM firmware update. This is somewhat intriguing, but also better than having to deal with the machine physically. Thank goodness for Dell coming up with userland packages what work properly from within Linux. That and problems which fix themselves. I wonder if it's something to do with integrated temperature monitoring on the DDR2 ECC DIMMs we have, or something else.

Anyway, I should head off and get things done before this evening's fun.

23/01/2007
[16:55] I'm feeling all kinds of better today. Sleep helped, going climbing with some nice people helped a lot too. I can't swear to it but I think I've got a handle on things for the moment. Well, maybe. Basically I think I've worked out what goes where and who I get to be for a while. As a result I'm feeling more of my usual self today. This is useful as I'm off to the gym in five minutes or so and then going home to watch some new episode of good television which I have been waiting for to arrive.

Oh, and in conversation with a few people it looks like there'll be something fun in my future no matter what happens. So that's nice. I do wonder sometimes if I'm changing in ways I shouldn't, or might regret. I think about this a lot now and again. Recent evidence has indicated that even after a protracted period of... difference I don't seem to be any the worse for wear. This leads me to believe that either personalities are incredibly elastic when you move from your base/original/normal state and that after a while things snap back to how they were again, or simply that I'm not changing myself in any way which is incompatible with how I feel I should be. This... Yes! This actually gives me considerable cheer here and right now.

There was some work today. I installed someone's new work station. And now; gym.

22/01/2007
[13:10] A lovely weekend, marred only by oddness caused by general weirdness in my life. And that was Sunday evening so on the whole things were pretty good otherwise. I remain, as ever, confused and probably terminally stupid in my life's dealings. Perhaps now, on this cold and leaden Monday, I'm beginning to take more control over what I do and why I do it.

You know what I would like? I would like to be in love and have someone return the huge amounts of effort, emotion and affection I'm capable of now. I don't think I was good enough before. I probably wasn't the best person I could have been. Now though, I think I'm perhaps a little better at things. I don't want to throw my energy into the wind any more only to see it scattered, rather I want it to be reflected back or even have some spontaneously directed at me. I'm fed up.

Fun I've had. Now I want more. As to whether I'll get it, who knows? I'm always hopeful. Probably the reason I keep getting hurt now I think about it.

Bah, enough navel-gazing and useless ponderings. This morning I was due to be in before 08:00 to do a systems upgrade on a highly useful application we have here. I've been running the developer-actioned tests for a few days previously and, following some words with the DBA doing the database updates, things were looking good. Over the weekend it appears that some problems developed so I asked the person at the head of the committee who oversees this thing whether we should hold fire on the update of the live system due to the ongoing problems with the test one. I still planned to come in early this morning so the DBA who thought he was doing the updates to the live system wasn't confused. After an odd night's sleep I was in for around 07:30 and looking at the errors on the test system which (when the DBA came in) I was able to solve. In a fit of proactiveness I decided to upgrade the live system given the fact I thought I'd fixed the test one...

Bored now.

Long story short: it worked, and it works strangely well in that there are no errors being reported any more, which is a first for this application. Maybe the developers really did read my bug reports. Of course, the Operations Manager needed to 'explain' my updating of the live system to the committee after I'd been told to wait until we knew what the issues with the test system were about.

So, that was my morning and the reason I've not been too down (busy makes for less time for my favouite pastime of introspection and self-absorption). Now I'm just waiting for a lift to the south of town to pick up some old rack mountable servers which I have some vague and nebulous ideas for at some point. Then, more meetings, and maybe climbing. I think it's time I started getting back into my routine and not disrupting it so much for no good reason.

19/01/2007
[22/01/2007 - 12:40] I was in Oxford today. Went over there, having gotten a bit lost on the way to Banbury and similar (don't ask). Lovely place, first time I've had the opportunity to wander around there properly and see it. Very different to that other collegiate town of note, Cambridge. I took a few photographs, had a Moo Moo milkshake and wandered amidst the Dreaming Spires a while. It was, in its way, a wonderful day. I also had a Chinese meal for dinner and read some more of my Jasper Fforde books.

18/01/2007
[17:00] Damnit! Why did it have to be so windy this evening? I did not need it to be windy. I will have to Have Words.

Today was a lot of fun getting into work. Wind: Nature's resistance training! By the time I got to work I was feeling rather pleased with myself and my progress against the elements so I didn't feel too bad about the fact that the test site for the new version of some software we're working on appeared to be broken. Cue me spending almost the whole morning working on it before deciding to get the DBA involved to add a permission back in and then bouncing the Resin container it was in. This meant bouncing the live service too, but what the hell. Suffice it to say it all seems to work now. As a result I didn't have to sit with the consultant/contractor this morning when it came to learning more about the load testing solution thingy. This was probably better for the other person as the consultant didn't have to keep switching between highly technical and slightly less so to keep the other person in the loop. I just didn't go in for the afternoon but went to get my first ever print out of digitial camera pictures. Just two, not even taken by by me.

I think now is the time to go home and see if my house still exists and stuff. I hope the wind drops a bit, I had fun things planned for this evening. Oh well things can be altered as necessary.

17/01/2007
[18:35] I seem to have slept very well last night. Probably something to do with really needing to. I was all set to get into work early this morning to do some good things with my list of tasks but ended up not getting here until well after 08:30. This was OK as it turns out I'd forgotten that from 09:00 I was going to be listening to the consultant/contractor who's been here since Monday on the subject of the software we've just bought. I swear it's interesting stuff but I'm sure it's what they subject insomniacs to when the strong drugs just aren't cutting it any more. After about three hours my eyes are definitely starting to fail to keep open quite as easily as they normally do. I even resorted to a bacon and sausage barm for morning snack and something nicer than the usual for lunch. No joy.

Why I'm still at work now is proving to be something of a conundrum. Why in all that is holy am I here?? I think I should remedy this, make some bread and then get some good old-fashioned television watching done. Something I don't think I've had a proper chance to do in weeks.

16/01/2007
[17/01/2007 - 18:05] Fabulous day. I went ice skating in London for someone's birthday. Started off the day with a sleep in, which is always nice, even if I was awake at some time early in the morning, like 04:10. Anyway, by eleven, after a nice breakfast and a surprise or two I was up and about and at someone else's house so we could get to the station. It was raining which wasn't so good. A quick trip to London got us there well before we needed to be so we pottered around the Natural History Museum for a while looking at dinosaurs and things like that, dodging the school children and generally reminding ourselves that the hyrax is possibly related to the elephant shrew and actually even the elephant itself as joint descendants of the giant hyracoids.

So, that little snippet of evolutionary information aside, once it was time we headed down to the ice rink in the grounds of the museum and strapped on our skates. Now, I've not skated in about seventeen years and the person I was with used to do ice hockey. Add in to that the fact that it'd been raining and that the weather was kind of warm, and the ice has been there a while and you're looking at something very slippery (yes I know ice is slippery by default). I think I acquitted myself admirably considering the circumstances. I went over once (on the most waterlogged part) and took them with me. So it wasn't too bad (I wasn't alone sliding through the ice-cold water). We dried out in a short while due to the exertions of skating for another forty minutes or so. So that was good. There was a surprise at the end.

After skating there was time for a hot chocolate and a chance to fill in some competition forms for a trip somewhere hot (or cold, I forget) before we headed back to the museum for a while to look at more rather fun exhibits. In the end the museum closed so we spent some more time waiting for the Underground to take us to High Street Kensington where we popped into Wagamama for some food. I arranged a final surprise for the person whose birthday it was before we journeyed back to the train station and caught a train home again. Skating and other things take a lot out of you. Whatever the reason I was in bed early and after a bit of tossing and turning went to sleep rather quickly. All in all a rather good day.


15/01/2007
[17:00] My goodness, it has been A Day. We've been dealing with a load testing bit of software and I've had to bite my tongue all day not telling the person who came from the company which wrote it to show us how to use it that we have the solution to the complex stuff he's been battling with all afternoon with regard to the application suite we'll be using it against. Suffice it to say I've not done that much C programming in A Long Time. My brain hurts in all kinds of ways it hasn't done so since I was at university.

I won't even begin to tell you about the weekend past other than it had definite high points, definite very low points and all manner of confusions to which I have yet to find completely satisfactory conclusions. Whatever happens I think it may all end in tears. Doesn't everything? Anyway, Sunday night was especially good with a trip to the cinema and then a local restaurant where we had free sake, which is definitely always good.

As for tonight, I'm off home to find some chips, wrap some things up and make a steak dinner. I'm also not in tomorrow on account of being somewhere else.

12/01/2007
[14:10] Someone rang me three times last night between 00:00 and 01:00 from a withheld number. Not only that but I'm damned sure they were a) female and, b) seemingly quite excited. No, I have no idea who it could have been. I've enquired of all the girls I think might have even remotely been the possible person, but no joy. It's a half pleasant, half I'm-now-tired-today mystery which I'll just have to live with. In other news I need to go shopping tomorrow for some things, go to the gym tonight and maybe watch a film later.

We've ordered (and are now eating) Dominoes pizza and nattering now... Well, actually we've finished now and are back to work on account of nattering and eating rather than writing this entry. This afternoon I will be adding Dymo label printers to the live applications server and then getting them the hell out of my office for the last time.

11/01/2007
[12/01/2007 - 13:15] Up far too early. Wearing a shirt. Long drive to Nottingham. Very interesting meeting after all. Wonderful lunch caused by ticking all the boxes on the 'menu' we were given on arrival. Drive home well before the end of the working day. Friends over for Thursday evening, Elaine staying over due to thingy happening in town today. S'about it.

10/01/2007
[13:10] First things first. I'm off tomorrow in Nottingham doing some work things. So no journal entry. Although I may backdate it when I write it on Friday.

Otherwise I've done bugger all this morning other than prepare for tomorrow and suddenly remember I need to go to a meeting this afternoon. Climbing tonight. Last night was good, although being less tired might be better next time. Best be off.

09/01/2007
[16:25] OK, so I got into work late due to doing some stuff in town. Some purchases too, hopefully all good. I've got some tickets bought too, which is useful also. Now I just need to wait to use them, like my free cinema tickets I got from that vendor demo day thing. As for work today... hmmm, not all that much has gone on actually. I do need to go shopping this evening, then make a meal and perhaps get some washing done. Some other things're planned but those depend on whether I go to the gym or not. If anything else crops up worthy of note I'll be sure and let you know.

08/01/2007
[16:55] Whew! Talk about another killer start to a week.

I have a large number of PERC 4-based RAID systems which are all happily working away usually. They're all running Dell's OMSA thingy as well as Dell's Megamon stuff as well.

I have the megamon thing set to email me (which it does, if you restart it occasionally to stop it failing to do so silently after a few months) whenever the machine is rebooted, a check consistency event happens or the battery goes into recharging. You know, things like that.

Usually (when working), once a week on a Monday at 06:00, megamon emails me from each of the machines to say that machine's RAID system is in a check consistency state. It mails me a few times giving percentages of completeness, etc. This is fine and dandy.

Owing to not having restarted megamon on those machines in a while none of them mailed me this morning when my Big Brother/Hobbit RAID monitoring script which uses OMSA storage components to give a ton of useful information (which I'd just last week modified to give more information than it used to (let me know if you'd like a copy)) screamed that all of the PERC 4-based machines were resynching their RAID arrays.

For a few minutes we were 'mildly curious' as to what might be happening.

It was only when I recalled that I'd not seen the emails for a few weeks and that all the machines were reporting this state as of 06:00 this morning (the time that the consistency check starts) that we felt a bit calmer. Call me strange but I don't call a consistency check the same as a RAID array "Resynching". For me "Resynching" implies some kind of data-reconstruction. I'm happy to be disabused of this assumption, though. This turned out to be an artefact of the OMSA we're running and the PERCs' firmware status messages such that there's no entry for "Consistency Check". It's "Resynching".

Even though the virtual disks were marked as "Resynching" it was in fact the array disks within those virtual disks which were in a different state. Which is even more mildly confusing (given that my monitoring script didn't have them marked as "Resynching" themselves, only the virtual disk), just not as worryingly so.

Either way, now that we know about this particular foible (we'd never noticed it before owing to getting the emails saying soothing things like "Check Consistency in progress" and "Check Consistency completed" and not seeing the OMSA details due to my script not being verbose enough) we can ignore the fact that every Monday our screens are going to go red for an hour or so. Or I could modify my checking script to denote "Resynching" as a yellow warning, not a red panic.

So, yeah, just thought I'd mention this for a) those people who're using my script already and who (having downloaded the newer version and are using Raidmon to initiate consistency checking) may be in for a surprise and, b) the opportunity to have someone at Dell tell me more about this particular mode of behaviour/reporting and whether there are plans to modify firmwares to add in a value for "Checking Consistency" or similar.

And also to advertise my shonky attempt at scripting for Big Brother/Hobbit...

And then! And then we've been trying to get a Dymo label printer connected via USB to a JetDirect print server to print labels from a cgi script on a linux box. And for the life of us we couldn't get it to work with CUPS.

... Until we added the printer using the web GUI not the command line or the standard GUI. Then it worked flawlessly. If you can hear a ticking sound, that's the little bits of tooth enamel on my teeth being ground off and hitting my screen from the pure frustration of it all. Still, working now. Busy day! Time to climb!

Oh, hang on, the weekend. Yeah, that was really bloody brilliant. Went for dinner at an Italian place, went to see Apocalypto (better than I thought it would be) and then spent pretty much the rest of weekend having more fun than you can shake, well, anything at. Must do it again some time.

05/01/2007
[16:55] Feeling a bit better today. I think it's because I've settled my head down (a little) and lowered my expectations. Instead of stressing and moaning and griping about stuff (especially here) I'm just going to go with enjoying my life again and letting stuff happen, rather than trying to force it. That seemed to work fairly well a few months ago. I think I'd forgotten to adhere to that concept recently. Suffice it to say there's a good chance the next period of time will be pleasant or better if I just chill the hell out for a bit.

Part of my chillding out has involved chatting to people a bit online today. As usual (when I get to do it) it's a lovely chance to catch up with people and see some fascinating sides to my friends. I think at some point I'm going to spend a few weekends traveling to parts of the country to see those who I've either not met before or not seen in a few months.

Anyway, yes! It's Friday and I'm off home to have a pleasant evening and stuff shortly. Speaking of shortly you may have noticed that I had my hair cut yesterday afternoon. Or maybe you didn't. I have. Had it cut, not noticed, which I also have, on account of being there when it was done.

ANYWAY! I've sorted some stuff stuff today with regard to some of the HR system configuration and its use of the home-grown authentication system we have here, investigated the upgrade procedure for another internal system I'm responsible for and generally had a good fiddle with a few things to reacquaint myself with how they work. Right now though, home time! Have a good weekend, I hope to.

04/01/2007
[13:05] Life has gone all weird on me again. Just when I thought it was going to be simple for a while. Actually I'm lying, it wasn't simple before now either but at least I was fairly sure what was happening. Right now, basically, everything's complicated such that I'm not getting what I want... I think. Maybe I am. I don't really know any more. Is it what I want actually but I didn't know? Given the timings involved, I have to think not.

Cryptic enough for you? Good.

So I was due to give a quick talk to three or so people before Christmas. That got canned due to timing issues and I was asked to reschedule for 4 Jan 2007 (that's today, for those of you watching in black and white). When I entered the room at around 10:00 with my rough draft of what to chat about, there were about twenty-one, highly placed and very technical people waiting for me to tell them all about things they didn't know. That was my only saviour, that they didn't know anything about the subject I was going into. Or not much, really. Cue about forty or so minutes of me standing up, ad libbing heavily and making copious use of the whiteboard. Apparently it went well.

I'm now going to have something to eat and spend the rest of the day trying to get my head around Stuff.

03/01/2007
[15:40] I'm sure there was something I was going to tell you today... Oh that was it. This bit of amusement caught my eye. I guess the customer is always right as long as they're willing to wear the right clothing when they visit.

I stayed up just a little later than I should have last night. As a result I'm a wee bit tireder than I thought I would be this morning. I guess I'm still on holiday time. Other than that I've been sorting out NTP (again) on all of our machines, trying to concentrate on things and going to lunch with a work colleague and atempting to sort my head out a bit. Suffice it to say I'm a bit confused at the moment about a few things and I really don't know what to do about them. Maybe this evening will be useful in getting things a bit straighter.

I'm not entirely sure what's happening with work at the moment. I'm treading water a little before the next round of major happenings... happen, I guess. In the meantime I should probably take a stab at clearing down some of the little jobs I have pending on the Whiteboard of Doom which you can't see as it's out of camerashot. Suffice it to say it has all the tiny annoying things that crop up as side-issues to everything else that we do here, and that I/we never get time to address.

02/01/2007
[09:30] "Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends. We're so glad you could attend. Come inside, come inside."

Happy New Year, etc. I'm back in the saddle and straight away fixing the server which died quite spectacularly over the Christmas period. More on that once I have something back up and running. In the meantime why don't you tell me about your best and worst Christmas happenings/presents? Aw, go on.

[16:30] So I've spent most of the day on the phone to Dell trying to get them to come out and replace the disk which failed in some way over Christmas. Now that I've managed to get them out here I've also had the opportunity to fine tune my Big Brother/Hobbit PERC (RAID hardware) monitoring script for PERC 5-style hardware. It's been a labour of love and not as fun as you might have thought. At least, not initially. Awww, who'm I kidding? Even when it was broken and I couldn't think of a way to fix it I was loving the chance to do some coding...

OK, the Dell engineer was just here and we've had the disk replaced and stuff and now everything is happy and shiny once more. Aside from the other machines which went titsup over Christmas. But they're less my responsibility. Hence they're next on my To Do list and other people have been dealing with them as they're top of their's. I'm actually going to leave on time today and go to the gym for the first time in a few weeks. I may not try a 2km row today, just get back into the swing of doing things again for this time. I think that's it for today. Seen some fun things online which I'll tell you about later. For now I'm heading off to do some catching up with people before I go home.