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31/01/2008
[15:40] I managed to crash the entire finance system this morning by dint of adding two machines to the Nessus scan. This causes traffic to go via the firewalls again and overflow the state tables, again. Currently no-one has any idea why. It's curious because the traffic makes its way to the two servers (zones on Solaris 10 boxes in other VLANs) by the right route. It just doesn't come back the same way. At present we're blaming the fact that, well, it's really technical and you really don't want to know. Suffice it to say we had to bring down everything and recycle before it'd come back up again and people could begin to spend money. That was fun. Surprising how dulled your response can be when you realise that it's shonky software that's to blame, again.

Otherwise I had a rather good afternoon out with a friend yesterday. After having come in early I was ready to leave at around 15:30. We met up and sat somewhere warm drinking white chai latte before wandering around and chatting. I think we ended up down by the river before a couple of undesirables forced us into a pub for some more discourse. Seeing as we'd never actually met before it was a little awkward, at the same time as feeling perfectly natural and obvious. All hail long and involved email communication periods. It'd be nice to meet again but time and schedules make this unlikely.

The remainder of today has been spent working out how to move all of my mail from one server to another (something I may attempt this weekend when I'm feeling brave) and doing some speed tests on the new NTL/Virginmedia cable modem which was waiting for me (actually leaning against my front door) when I got home yesterday evening. Incredibly it took less than ten minutes to get the old one deregistered and the new one installed and working. This means I should be ready for the 10Mb/s rollout which is purported to take place some time this year. My old cable modem was apparently only capable of 3000K/sec so I probably wasn't even getting the 4Mb/s I've been paying for for the past few months. All sorted now anyway, even getting the premium rate telephone charges for the call refunded too! Oh, I've also been plugging away at getting some documentation for Nessus scans straight in my head before I commit it to the wiki. That and working out what the hell is going on inside my head at the moment.

Thursday tonight, but first I need to go to Borders and buy a book and then do an imperial bumload of washing up. I would be going to do the final medical experiment thing tomorrow but its been postponed twice now and is going to take place on the afternoon of 13 February. I'll get to go in an fMRI again and obtain another picture of my brain. This'll make three now. Further proof that I actually have one. Something which repeatedly surprises a few of my acquaintances (and me) sometimes.

30/01/2008
[13:05] Last night was good at the gym. I felt like it was a really good session and I came away actually feeling like I'd improved somewhat. Dinner was kedgeree again with me still working on getting the timing of all the bits right so they all come together at the same time. Went to bed earlyish so I could be in very early this morning. I've a friend in town (just had a confirmatory text) who I'm hoping to meet up with for a bit this afternoon before they leave again. As a result I was up at the crack of before dawn this morning and in work in time to fire off a Nessus scan of all of the Solaris hosts we have here well before anyone else came in and noticed if they scan was going to cause problems. It didn't (although it did make Big Brother light up like the Red Light District in Hamburg with messages about weird things happening), but it did show me that two boxes I thought were fully-patched were in fact missing a few. That was a smidgen worrying. I got them sorted anyway. Since then I've reinstalled Shaun's workstation with RHEL5, discovered some updated RPMs for some funky stuff and had lunch. All I need to do now is wait for someone to turn up and cart away some servers and I can get out of here for the day!

29/01/2008
[16:45] A mixed bag of a day thus far. I'd managed to get my head around the weird network setup required to send the Nessus traffic to all the right VLANs without going through our firewalls... but when I ran the first few scans I DoSed the entire network for people using SSH to connect to things. I think I might have affected connections to the Exchange server too. Ooops. We're going to look into it shortly to see what the issue could be. I'm blaming aggressive Nmap and Nessus TCP port scanning for the moment. The new GUI is different but a lot more usable than the old GTKwidget one. I'm not sure I completely understand how it all comes together in terms of where files are saved and what options are saved in which files but at least it's a bit more consistent than the old one. I could be while getting to know this stuff properly. After that I'll have to write the documentation on using it too.

I had a lovely time out last night. I'm doing a tour of the nicer middle-of-the road (price-wise) restaurants in town with a friend. Last night was Thai again. Lovely place, a little more expensive than the last place but it was very, very nice food. I'm not sure where we'll go next. I don't know if it was the wine (which I barely ever drink) but I'm still getting quite tired in the evenings at the moment so by the time I got home last night it just seemed sensible to go straight to bed.

I'm also getting quite concerned by my foot now. Although I've had a few people say a new pair of running shoes might help (once my foot has stopped hurting this time around) but I'm worried it might be something a little more issueful. I'm going to go along to a decent sports shop (hopefully with one of those treadmills where you get to see how your feet come down on the ground) this Saturday after rowing and see if I can't get myself a new pair of shoes. My current ones are the ones I got when I first started running seriously and I'd be pushed to say how many miles they've done. It has to be easily more than 800 thought. I think it's almost certainly time for a new set. However, I'd be really, really bothered if I couldn't run any more. As it is I'm not sure I'll go out tomorrow or Friday...

Oh, it looks like we might have worked out why the network was falling over. Turns out we hadn't raised VLAN interfaces on two of the networks certain servers are on. Having added those two interfaces to the Nessus box we appear to be happy again... or at least we've not had anyone else come into the office to complain that they can't do anything because their sessions have frozen. The firewall state tables really are something of an issue as far as I'm concerned. It seems very easy to overflow them and make the software start binning connections. Still, they can't be affected by anyone outside so we're only in danger from people like me on the inside. Which is nice.

I'm off to the gym in half an hour or so, then I've got kedgeree to make and a sofa to warm with my body for the evening. Plenty of things to watch on DivX and now that Shaun's very generously allowed me to replace the 1.4GHz Celeron CPU with a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 things are even more speedy and smooth. Hurrah!

28/01/2008
[12:00] Today will mostly be spent wrangling Nessus onto our new dedicated box and figuring out how to a) set up the new client/front-end thing and, b) getting the Direct Feed wossname moved across from the old installation. It's probably not too hard but I'd rather check with Tenable than do something which might invalidate our contract (like appearing to be running two installations from one paid-for feed). Oh and I'm going running too. It's going to be a bit weird seeing as I haven't been out on the road since this time last week. I did 6km on the treadmill on Friday just so I wasn't totally slacking off and that was pretty painful. I think my running style was completely wrong. Oh, not painful for the foot, just overall, like a good hard push (of effort, when running, you crude people) will leave you.

The weekend was pretty brilliant. Saturday morning was rowing. Back in the tub again with two of the other reasonable novices and a rather amusing female cox/coach who likened everything to sex and/or masturbation. It definitely made the session memorable! The rest of the day was rather lovely too with contact with a friend, some enjoyable banter and a curry (of which I ate far too much) in the evening. Happily I managed to get to bed in a state which didn't preclude bed-related things, like sleeping.

Sunday morning was lazy until I realised I had no food in the house. A cycle to Tesco (not going for a run was quite tough) and back filled the fridge and cupboards with provisions and then I cycled out again to Shaun and Linda's place for an afternoon of "anti-S.A.D." fun. Linda had, as usual, outdone herself with food and things so other than everyone playing with the children and chatting and enjoying themselves immensely we also grazed almost continuously for a few hours. I may have put on a bit of weight...

Either the experiment on Friday, the amount of activity I did over the weekend or the sheer quantity of food I packed away on Sunday meant that by around 18:00 I was really flagging and eventually cycled home at 19:00 to go directly to bed. Not passing go and not collecting any money whatsoever. Which is a shame really as I'm owed money by a few people at the moment and what with the shortfall in my remortgage deal just having been debited from my account I could do with a bit of the old folding stuff right about now.

25/01/2008
[15:25] Well, I'm here. I have to admit I think I was wrong last week. I'm very certain that this week I had the real amisulpride and the methamphetamine. I arrived on time after last night being a boy-only thing with Cormac, Shaun and a later-arriving Bob. We watched The Great Escape for some retro Christmas enjoyment. Then a few Animatrix shorts. But anyway, at the hospital a different nurse (an observer last week) tried in vain to find a vein in my right arm (so only one was going to bruise) and completely failed to get one. So, a hole and some bruising. She then had extreme trouble finding one in my left arm too but managed to get the cannula in anyway. Only then the blood refused to flow for the samples. Wiggling the cannula around seemed to get things going eventually but only after putting an electric blanket more useful for keeping a toy moose warm on my arm for a while to heat up my suddenly very cold hand and forearm and relax the veins a little.

The pills didn't seem to have any effect but when the main injection went in I felt certain that it was the real deal again but that this time the pills were real because the effects took longer to happen, weren't anywhere near as pronounced and faded away extremely quickly. I'm pretty sure this was reflected in my test scores as I won an awful lot more money this time (although that might be backwards given what I've been reading about dopamine production with regard to learning and stuff... although there's the impulsiveness aspect too...). Anyway, everything I described last week was back, only it was less noticable and lasted less time. Even before the second tests was over I felt about as normal as I usually am. You know, for me.

I cycled to work and got on with solving one of those issues which quickly becomes a stack problem. You know; can't solve this until that, can't solve that until the other. However, with some help from my line manager and some magic pixie dust (AKA just restarting everything and hoping something starts working again) everything started performing brilliantly and I got to pat myself on the back. All I have to do now is finish blanking those servers, and stick RHEL5 on that box I keep not getting around to doing! Gym tonight will definitely not involve any bending motions of the arms unless I can really help it. I'll save that for tomorrow's rowing and any other activities I do that day. Sunday is Shaun and Linda's "Anti S.A.D." party/thingy so I'll be sure and cycle over there as soon as I can.

I think that's it for now. Have a good weekend!

24/01/2008
[17:05] I've been really bloody frustrated today. And after last night was brilliant as well! Climbing was excellent with Cormac and Phil turning up so that I felt a bit more pushed to achieve something. I came away feeling like I'd had my first decent climbing session in months. Drove back with them and had a curry at Phil's house before walking the three or so miles back to my place and showering around midnight. I don't think it was the late night or the climbing/walking which affected me but I didn't feel great when I got up this morning. Nor did I feel particularly good when I finally got into work either. I'm really hope I'm not coming down with anything as that would put a horrible crimp on this weekend's activities, and I'm looking forward to them ever so much.

Anyway, in work I found that I still couldn't apply firmware updates to my stack of Dell servers, even after I'd made the DVD ISO available via NFS. In the end I had to burn the disk and copy it back to my machine to make it accessible properly. Of course I couldn't burn or read the DVD in my computer owing to... I have no idea, but I couldn't. However once I'd burnt it on one machine and SCP'd the contents from another to mine... it still didn't work! The machines would see (via a DHCP setup I'd also had to cobble together) the NFS share and even copy down the stuff but every time I was told to reboot the boxes they wouldn't have applied the updates! Frustrating to say the least.

I took a break to take the replacement x4600 M2 and its StorageTek 2540 down to one of the other server rooms... and forgot a flat-bladed screwdriver thus necessitating a trip to the custodians on the other side of the site and back. Then I realised I'd forgotten the fibre cables to connect the server to the array so had to walk back to work (I took a taxi down with the kit) and then cycled into town again with the cables to connect them up. Le sigh.

Since then I've been finding out that the Dells that I have are almost all non-64-bit Xeons, which means the one person who expressed an interest in them doesn't want to buy them. Which is also frustrating. I may just go home and try to chill out for the evening now. Tomorrow is session two of the experiment thingy so I may or may not do an entry depending on where I am and how I'm feeling. If I don't see you, have a good weekend. Mine is going to be... interesting.

23/01/2008
[17:20] All manner of everything's happened since the last journal entry. First off there was a jazz evening last night to celebrate Ian's birthday. That was excellent, I got to see cool people in a cool setting, listen to jazz and eat buffet food (although probably not enough food). This morning was all about sorting out the machines I got free at the same time as thinking about the setup of the new Nessus box. Just before 12:00 I managed to work out how to get their BIOS, RAID and ESM firmwares updated in a sensible manner and was about to get on with that when I realised I had to cycle out to meet Gareth for lunch. The following hour and a half was spent chewing the fat most fully and him pointing out some mildly uncomfortable but (I guess) self-evident truths which I really didn't (and still don't) want to face. Also some up-sides which I could really enjoy if I get my head on right. Whether the latter will happen is left as an exercise for the reader. Since coming back from lunch I've had the replacement x4600 M2 to play with which arrived at about 14:20. I installed it and booted it in record time, then installed the fibre channel cards and booted it again with no issues. When I added the extra RAM back in it failed to boot... Oh dear. I pulled out the added RAM and it booted properly. I swapped the base RAM for the added stuff and it still booted. I added in the original RAM in the places where the other RAM had been and it still booted. I am satisfied and won't be touching that stuff again!

Right now I'm doing a few more firmware updates on my personal boxes and then I'm off home to climb. In other good news my foot isn't hurting any more but I won't be running on it again until next Monday (except maybe on the treadmill on Friday), I've got a full and extremely fun weekend in prospect and there might be curry tonight. It's all good, in the main.

22/01/2008
[17:10] I'm now in possession of five PowerEdge 2650 servers. I'm sure I'll think of something to do with them. I don't know quite what yet but it may involve consolidating RAM, hard drives and CPUs until there exists one box to rule them all. Or I may see if I can give them to needy causes. I don't know what those are yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something. Speaking of thinking of something I found myself remembering a party I went to after last year's Bumps this afternoon. It was dark, the house was incredible and packed with books (most of which I also owned) and I was extraordinarily happy. I seem to recall chatting to people and generally enjoying the post-race comedown even though I hadn't been racing. I wonder how different things will be this year.

On to other matters. The Xen guests I knocked my guts out getting set up before I went home yesterday seem to be as stable as stable could be. This is what is know in the trade as a Good Thing. I'm very pleased that a) Xen isn't a crock of shit (and especially RedHat's FrankenXen implementation of 3.1 and 3.0.3 mixed together in some unholy marriage of inconvenience) and, b) I actually seem to understand something of what I'm doing and I'm not completely making it up as I go along. Obviously a healthy portion of what I do here is flying by the seat of my pants, but I'm not going to tell you that, am I?

It's Ian's birthday wossname this evening so we're all off to some Jazz bar in a little while. Here's hoping it's smokey only in attitude (hurrah for no smoking laws) and everything is cool. Although, speaking of cool I went out last night to meet up with a friend I've not seen in a while and had a delicious Thai meal at a place I've been to twice before. A good time was had by both and having gallantly footed the bill I'm apparently owed a meal in return some time soon.

I should probably go and tidy those servers away so they're not in the way in the server room and additionally have a fiddle with the x4100 M2 we've got in preparation for running Nessus. Other than that... well, life goes on. I'm missing not running (and not gymming this evening) and generally feeling a mixture of completely self-contained and self-reliant at the same time as... just a little bit wistful. This can be solved in part by listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone at pleasing volumes in the office now that everyone else has gone home.

Also, the weather has been lovely today. Cold, clear, bright. I wish I was running.

21/01/2008
[16:30] I sit here waiting for virtual hard disks to be created. I figured out over the weekend that it was the sparse files I was using for my virtual guests' hard drives which were causing the problem. Spending the morning installing the second hypervisor (so as to leave the current one in place doing what it's doing) was fairly enjoyable, as was building the second set of Xen guests and testing that they didn't manifest the same problems as their predecessors. That was the work of another hour or two. Seeing as I'm not running this week I worked straight through lunch and was ready to hand over two shiny DomU instances about half an hour ago. Unfortunately the DBAs took the opportunity to realign their requirements so I've had to go back to scratch and bin all four (I was binning the initial two anyway) instances so as to reconfigure disk size and RAM allocation. It gives me a chance to test build practice and post-installation scripts so I'm pretty happy really. Plus it keeps me busy and away from the doughnuts.

The reason I'm not running is that despite giving my foot a rest on Friday it still hurt again when I went out for my run on Sunday morning. This leads me to believe I need to give it a bit more of a break, even after it stops hurting. I find this irritating as I do like a good run every few days. Still, it saves on water for the washing machine quite so often.

After the experiment on Friday I found I still had tons of energy so stayed late at work (as you'll have noted from the time I posted my first entry). This energy level remained all the way through the gym (at which I did no arm bending so as to keep the chances of bruising to a minimum, which was hard) and into the night. So far into the night that I finally forced myself to bed at 02:00 where I lay awake until about 03:00. Around 05:30 I got up, feeling completely awake and ready for anything. Unfortunately rowing didn't start until 11:30 so I pottered around doing things until then. Rowing was indoors again owing to a lack of coaches, but I got paired with someone of a similar size and we had a decent coach so we went on the ergos mounted on sliders and had a damned good go at improving technique. I really hope that next week we get out on the water and do some proper stuff. I had intended to do something else with the day and in fact went into town to do so but turned around and came right back after finding that what I wanted to do wasn't doable. Sunday was mostly about the morning run which I did in a good time, despite walking about 50m when my foot became too painful to run on. Of course, once I was passed by a very good-looking girl I just had to run the rest of the way home and, oddly, that short rest seemed to fix things, at least for a few hours. I won't be running on it again for at least a week, despite how fidgety and full of energy I'm going to be because of an enforced break. The rest of Sunday was boring so I'm not telling you about it.

So right at this moment I'm sitting here waiting for 60 and 20GB files to come into existence so I can install operating systems on them, four times, then run my super-incredible post-installation scripts and pass them over (again) to the DBAs for them to have their wicked way with them. As soon as 17:00 or maybe 18:00 comes around I'll toddle off home and then go out for dinner with a friend for a catchup session.

Yes, this entry is of more than usual unreadable unintelligiblity. No, I don't know why, sorry.

18/01/2008
[18:35] OK, so I came into work after all. Let me tell you about that first, then I can talk about the morning. So I came in and found that one of the Xen installations was pegged at 100% IOwait during an scp to it from another box. No matter what I did the machine was pretty much locked up. When I managed to get some response I found that the load average was slowly spiraling up and into the clouds. With some judicious use of mpstat, iostat, top, ps and kill I managed to work out roughly what was happening and fired off an email to a RedHat mailing list asking for advice. This was after I discovered that we didn't actually have support cover from RedHat any more... Ooops. So, that took up pretty much the whole afternoon until about half an hour ago when I stopped working on that and sent some emails instead. I'm going to go to the gym shortly, but before I do I'll tell you about my morning....

I took part in a medical trial (pilot phase) to see how dopamine disturbances can cause problems in learning and give rise to experiences like suspiciousness or manic mood. It was also to study and learning more about how dopamine-blocking drugs addresses these abnormalities because it's believed it'll help people understand more about certain mental illnesses and their treatments. So, I turned up the the local hospital at 08:00 this morning and eventually found my way to the right floor of the right bit. I met Graham, Kevin and Phil and I sat down to explain everything to me. That done, and feeling a tiny bit nervous, I lay on the bed in the hospital room. Two nurses came in and after a bit of faff - which I looked away for - they inserted my very first cannula. Initially a little uncomfortable (and them possibly having missed the vein) it quickly became completely unnoticed (and was in the right place). It was probably a good idea I hadn't been looking at the time as they spilled about 5cc of my blood on the gauze they'd suspiciously placed underneath the insertion site... Anyway once that was done I had a blood pressure test... no hang on, that was first (having a needle stuck in your arm probably raise your pressure levels a bit!), as was my very first EKG. Apparently I have a perfect blood pressure and an impressive control over my resting heart rate.

So, where was I? Cannula, yes. I had samples taken for DNA project/genotyping stuff and to check for other things which might affect the experiment. Then I filled in some mood forms and was given what might have either been dopamine-blockers (amisulpride) or placebos. We waited an hour (during which time I might have felt my muscles ache a bit if I'd had the real pills... I don't know as I could tell you either way) and then the nurses came back in force and hooked up a huge syringe (I'm serious, you could have drained a horse dry with it) with saline and either more saline or 0.3mg/kg body weight of methamphetamine (fun, huh?). Apparently that's the maximum legal dose. Rather than give me the whole thing in a few seconds (apparently Kevin had that and tripped out most 'excitingly') it was on a device which depressed the plunger over the course of ten minutes. I have to admit that even after the saline flushes of the cannula for the blood samples (which gives you a really cool (and cooling) sensation in your arm the feeling of the meth/placebo stuff was very weird. Within about two minutes my scalp felt tight, then my toes tingled, then my top teeth roots ached when I clenched my jaw gently. All the while I felt an awful lot more talkative [surely no change there then!? - Super Ego] but not hugely euphoric or anything else to be honest. It was, however, an odd and entirely pleasant experience. I felt the urge (which I can't fully put down to wanting to provide the guys with all the information they might want) to comment on everything that was happening to me but I'm certain I never started babbling. Or at least no more than I normally do. One fun side effect that thoughts that would usually send me into a bit of a sad/depressed cycle (thinking about things lost) were easy to dismiss with an "oh well, what about <fun thing> instead?" chain of thoughts. Once the solution was in I was asked to complete some computer-based experiments to do with learning and remembering (choosing which foods provoked an allergic reaction in a person on repeated showings/which of variously arranged pairs of patterns was the 'right' one) with the added risk/reward stimulus of earning or losing real money based on my choices.

Far more quickly than I'd hoped and expected the... 'rush' went away. There were more mood questionnaires (marking on a 0-100 line how I felt) and some more tests (think Minesweeper but deciding which of two colours was more numerous) before the standard 'recite numbers back after being told them' thing (reversed too). Then they gave me lunch. There's defintely no such thing as a free lunch.

By the time I left at around 12:50ish I was pretty certain I'd had the meth but not quite so certain I'd had the amisulpride. Either way I felt pretty much normal as I cycled to work. I kind of hope I didn't have the dopamine-blocker because one of the other two sessions is therefore going to be placebo pill + meth! That could be lots of fun... Of course the other's going to be amisulpride + saline-only injection, but you can't have everything!

Good not to use up a whole day's holiday anyway. I just wish I'd brought my gym stuff so I didn't have to go home first. Still, I also don't think I'll have any trouble sleeping tonight (they gave me two pills in case I need them) and currently I have no bruise from the cannula so rowing may still be on for tomorrow morning. I may just run tonight though. With my foot feeling fine I'd still rather do a session on a bouncy treadmill and give it more time to be ready for Sunday's 12.7K.

Oh, yeah, have a good weekend!

[22:00] Oh mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! I forgot to tell you about last night! So Sam (bless her heart) decided to organise a curry night rather than us all eating takeaway at my house from the off. Little did I know that Andy had decided off his own bat to make the drive up from London and was waiting with her in the curry house. I was rather and pleasantly surprised. Pretty brilliant. Equally brilliant was just how many people turned up. I think in the end there were eight of us and a damned good time was had by all. I don't know how long its been since I had some good bad-pun conversations and a few belly-laughs. Also some bloody good curry. All but two of us made it back to my house much later in the evening that I thought (who cares?) where we watched a film I've seen only once before. I'd not wanted to see it the first time (until I did) and it was even better the second time. It has more humour than the simple modern slapstick you see on the surface. There's supreme subtlety in the way some of the jokes are executed. The film? Anchorman: the Legend of Ron Burgandy.

17/01/2008
[16:45] I stayed up far too late last night after coming back from climbing. Climbing which - for the first time in a while - was pretty brilliant rather than just OK. I really think my climbing skills have atrophied substantially in the last year or so. Anyway, Cormac, Helen and Phil were there last night so I climbed with them for most of the evening which seemed to boost my performance a little. When I got back I was so pumped and stuff that I ended up watching a couple of episodes of the West Wing. Oh, and I called Jenny in the US as well to wish her a happy birthday in person. It's the personal touch, innit? All seems good there, aside from a housemate with food poisoning. It's surprising I don't have something like that considering the food I've been eating recently. I mean, its all been good food, just sometimes a little past its best before date, you know? And those beans from March 2006. Its not like they could ever go off really, now is it?

Today has been a successful day. Not only was I in work well on time despite my late night (early morning), I have managed to clean off five versions of Java from two machines (trimming down to one) and relinking all the things which were using them, installed a really annoying bit of CPANage (a perl module) on the selfsame machines (thus accidently doing a ToDo task from about a year ago) and reconfigured a machine, a Dom0 and a DomU to use a different VLAN, interface, virtual interface and IP address. Thank goodness I put in the hours on that stuff a few months ago or I'd have been totally boned right about now. <cigar>I love it when a plan comes together</cigar>.

Tonight there is... oh no, hang on, there's more! I've also had my hair cut and been to do a psychology experiment where I was apparently "way way above average [for the thing I was doing]" and now have almost a complete curry token (£10) for this evening's food, as organised by Samantha.

Seeing as I'm not in tomorrow (more on that on Monday) I should probably go and do some more amazing things for the last hour of the day before I head off for food, fun and frolics. Have a fun Friday (I think I will be) and I'll see you on Monday.

16/01/2008
[15:05] Happy birthday to Jenny all the way over there in America! I hope you have a smashing time and there's lots of fun and food and brilliant presents for you. Enjoy your day and especially your evening with everyone we know.

I will be celebrating getting two template Xen VMs up, running, updated, and tarred up safely. I will do this by working even harder on getting other machines up and running, going for a run (yup, looks like my foot was OK, athough my shins ache a bit after having done so) and climbing this evening. I've also just managed to get my hands on four decommissioned Dell PowerEdge 2650 servers too, so I should be able to cobble something useful together out of them. I'll collect next Tuesday I think.

I guess that's it for the moment. A marked difference to what I was doing this time last year, but then I think that's been true of most of the years of my life to date. Although perhaps more so since I started this journal. Who knows what will be happening in my life this time next year...

15/01/2008
[14:40] A teeth-grindingly frustrating morning, a brilliant burrito lunch and breakthrough in the early afternoon. Welcome to Tuesday. I've been trying repeatedly to get a 32-bit RHEL4 to install as a paravirtualised guest on a 64-bit RHEL5. This has resulted in consistent failure in inconsistent ways. I won't go into the details suffice it to say that what I wanted to do had been rescinded as a Technology Preview as it was just too unstable. I'm now going to have to install a 32-bit Dom0 and hope that the Xen-enabled kernel is also PAE aware or we're going to be in brown water...

OK, it looks like we might be OK. I've installed a Xen RHEL5 32-bit and there is mention of PAE. It's lucky we don't have more than 16GB in the boxes because it truncates the memory map there anyway. I'm now doing a guest install of RHEL4 and hoping it all happens like it's supposed to...

Anyway, I had a "steak with extra steak" burrito for lunch on account of needing something to cheer me up after my failures this morning and the fact that my left foot is aching a bit since yesterday's run. I'm putting it down to overdoing it by running on Sunday as well. If I get a hint of an ache tomorrow I'm not going to chance it and will wait for Friday. I'm damned if I'm going to cause an injury to myself which means I have to stop running. I worried for months after regular 10km sessions left my right knee feeling weird. I'm pretty sure I've kicked (no pun intended) that particular problem into touch with stepping down the distance for a year or so.

I will be going to the gym this evening as nothing I do there should put any strain on my foot in a manner it's not used to in every day usage. I will then go home and contemplate my vegetable intake for the day and wish that I had more of the steak I cooked last night available for munching. After getting home and feeling pretty low again I pan fried quite the most delicious piece of matured rump steak I've had in quite some years. Less than three minutes per side (turning every minute), some steamed baby sweetcorn and asparagus tips and (shut up) baked beans (I said shush). Truly the food of the gods. Especially when served with a Yop yoghurt drink.

I'm pure class, me.

14/01/2008
[13:40] They wouldn't let us out on the water this weekend because the river was over the slipway. This was annoying as I've been in the water before when it has been like that. Their reasoning was that we might be in danger from other novices. Hum, well, OK. Anyway, instead we did some technique training, a two minute challenge (row as far as you can in two minutes) and then separated into two teams for a 5km relay. I managed a disappointing 654m for the challenge but our team (including two small boys) managed under 19 minutes 30 seconds for the 5km, which was pretty good.

Thoroughly wiped out by the erg'ing I went home for lunch and then popped out to meet someone in Borders for the afternoon. I'd intended to read a book in the cafe but ended up chatting for the whole time. Once they'd gone though I settled in for a good three hour read in a comfy chair hidden away in the depths of the shop. I think I left around half past seven. Unfortunately, having not eaten quite enough during the day, being a tiny bit dehydrated and feeling a little forlorn about certain things which were passing out of reach or generally out of my grasp anyway I was quite substantially meh for most of the rest of the evening. I had some food and went to bed.

Sunday I ached somewhat from the rowing but pulled on my running togs and headed out for the standard distance. Happily it wasn't raining like Friday but I did feel I was a little slower than normal. Weirdly though on getting home I found I'd knocked a minute off my time previously, which was a bit of a pleasant shock. Shower, lunch, drag myself to Tesco and back. At that point I decided to slob for the rest of the day and overdose on West Wing episodes. I did wonder whether a good friend had had a safe journey, but I'm sure I'll find out shortly.

Today I've been for a run, racked up our new Nessus server (although that took a long time even with Sun's rapid-installation rails (of which we were sent two pairs for some reason) as they jammed when locking the server into the rack, so I haven't had it cabled up yet or installed), have an appointment to fix someone's VNC server and am still in the middle of bashing out a sensible Xen setup for the web/application tiers of our main web service.

It's nice to be busy. It takes my mind off other things.

11/01/2008
[15:30] It rained for exactly the amount of time it took for me to do my run at lunchtime today. I didn't mind, it's the first rainy run I've had since September. Not too cold and only one car drenched me as I ran by a road puddle. I've started installing those machines I mentioned yesterday and have decided to go with 64-bit... no, you don't really care about this stuff. What can I tell you that you might be interested in...?

Thursday last night was good. Shaun came over earlier in the end after my other thing was cancelled and we had a damned good natter about this and that. Then Sam, Bob and Ian arrived and a large amount of curry was had by all. Surprisingly it was Bob who provided our first DVD of The Devil Wears Prada (I happen to think Anne Hathaway is gorgeous) while we ate. I have to admit that the second (The Belles of St Trinian's) was just a little too slow for me at the time we watched it. Still, definitely good to watch something old-fashioned and from a more innocent age. Everyone went home full and happy which is always the best way to be. Oh, and I found out where my parcel is.

That's it really. Gym tonight, then a few hours of relaxing before bed. I may even watch television. The weekend contains rowing and running, much like last weekend. Probably some food shopping too. I might even clean the kitchen. Exciting, huh?

10/01/2008
[16:25] This evening has been jiggled around a few times today what with one thing and another. I'm disappointed as to how it's finally ended up, but in the end it's not about today, but tomorrow, at least metaphorically speaking. Anyway, here's to brilliant memories and future good fun.

But enough of that. "Shush", indeed. Today I have been involved in sending a monstrously huge email, discussing the state of the United States of America, doing psychology experiments, learning that the word "infective" exists, discovering that machines I was going to be prepping for the end of February now need to be done for the end of this month, and one of them still hasn't been replaced. This last is... vexing. Still, I like working under pressure, it makes me perform better. I'll start work on things tomorrow. Today there's about a dozen other things I at least need to pick up and pin to the wall, in a manner of speaking, before I leave. Oh, and I've just been to post my pannier rack back to the people who sold it to me now that I'm sure it's completely broken (weld gone).

It's dark and wet here right now and I feel a bit low. Still, I'm off home soon and then it'll be Thursday and there'll be friends and things. I still remember fun late nights and lazy weekends of not so long ago, too.

09/01/2008
[16:25] I'm not entirely sure what I've achieved today. I think I've been away from the keyboard so long I've forgotten how to type at my normal speed. This entry has already been typed about three times by this point to get rid of all of the mistakes. I have got two machines up and running, balanced the three-phase demands of the server room next door such that our UPS isn't practically falling over because of stupid imbalanced draws on it, been for a rather good run in more lack-of-rain, thought about stuff and things and come to the conclusion "Life goes on" and eaten my lunch late.

Tomorrow I will try to discover where the things I ordered are, where the cheque that was sent Recorded Delivery actually is and do some work> This will probably be to do with kickstarting the two boxes I got racked up yesterday, figuring out how to get a sensible and replicable Xen-kernel para-virtualised RHEL4 DomU installation on top of a RHEL5 Dom0, getting the networking happy in such a way as I can forget about the increasingly weird Sun V20z upon which I have the only copy of the bastardised networking stuff I need to get the DomU installations on the right VLANs. That and keeping my mind on track. I'm sure I'll manage: anything's possible with a bit of effort and practice. For now though I'm going to finish the day, go home, prepare for and go climbing with good friends and then go to bed in one piece.

I had more to say. Quite why I'm not saying it I don't know.

08/01/2008
[11:00] I think I give up. Right now, for the moment, I give up. I'm obviously not doing very well at certain things so it might be best just not to try. Hopefully this doesn't sound histrionic and if it comes across as such... well, poo. It's really just a statement of intent. I'm just tired of pouring energy away for no sensible reason. I write it here as the usual aide memoire I use this journal for.

Our replacement backplane for the StorageTek 2540 arrived this morning. After ploughing through pages of documentation about offlining the array and saving configurations and generally preparing the unit it turned out that all I really needed to do was power the thing off, move all the drives to the new chassis (they didn't just send a PCB, it was an entire array chassis with the PCB backplane riveted inside), the power supplies and the array/FC controllers and then power that assemblage on. Case closed! In fact boxing the old FRU (Field Replacable Unit) for shipping back to Sun and calling DHL took more time and brain power.

Other jobs today may include racking up two x4200 M2 servers (and potentially getting their SPs, RAID arrays and BIOSes configured) and deracking our ugly-but-incredibly-workhorse-like Sun 280R to make room for them. That and tracking a parcel, working this afternoon after all and going to the gym this evening to work off some energy. Other than that... there's Mexican for lunch!

07/01/2008
[16:00] I've just spent a lot of the morning replying to another uberlong email from someone and trying to work out how this month is going to play out in terms of social, work and technical arrangements. Everything seems to be clumping more and more towards the last week or so. I'll try to keep you informed as to how it all works... or doesn't.

The weekend was pretty good. Saturday was rowing day. First time in a coxless double. We pretty much zigzagged from one bank to the other and utterly infuriated our pretty 22-year old female coach who was with us, but it wasn't so bad really. We only nearly tipped over once. I just wish the person at bow had played around in kayaks before now so he had more of an idea about using his core muscles to keep the boat steady. Either way, lots of fun. Playing Dave's Game in the boathouse afterwards was also amusing. After lunch and relaxation at home I went out to try and buy some new climbing shoes with my Christmas money but couldn't find the ones that I wanted in any of the outdoor shops here. So I bought a really brilliant fleece in the Open Air sale instead and came home.

Sunday I got up early (who can stay in bed when there's no-one else in it?) and pulled on my running togs. Out of the house, down to the river, along to the lock and back via a different route. 12.7km unfolding beneath my feet in 58 minutes. There was frost on the ground and in the trees and a good few boats out on the river for me to keep pace with and eventually leave behind. A pretty damned lovely way to start the day. I really do wish I lived closer to the river or somewhere else where there was more interesting countryside to run, cycle and walk through. Maybe one day I'll move. Just not this year.

Erm, I think that's about it for the moment. Other than a niggling sensation that I've probably got the wrong end of the stick on something. Time will tell on that anyway. Not doing anything tonight I don't think. Which is odd as I was sure something was supposed to be happening. I may just end up cleaning the kitchen and waiting to find out what I'm doing tomorrow evening while reading one of my books from the To Read pile. Oh and I'm in early tomorrow and late tonight to make up for time off later on. That and there's a replacement backplane coming tomorrow for the 2540 I unboxed on Friday only to discover that the LEDs for one of the disk enclosures didn't work. So, like, the drive spins up, it can be accessed, but there're no lights to indicate it's good, bad or kaboomified. Not great.

04/01/2008
[13:40] I went home very early yesterday on account of being completely shattered. I popped out to meet up with someone briefly, deliver a late Christmas and early birthday present and so forth and ended up spending an hour or two relaxing and chatting and setting the world to rights (or at least tying up loose ends and working some things out fully) with drink and food before heading home for around seven, even more tired and just a little exhausted. By around eight-thirty I was in bed and I don't remember hearing my bedside radio turn off thirty minutes after I set it to do so.

Oh, I have been gifted a Gorillapod! I can't wait to try it out! Definitely one of my better presents this year. I also have an item of clothing from two other good friends far away. I'm not entirely sure when I'll find a good time to wear it though. Stuff that has also been happning is that our broken x4600 M2 was carted away this morning, I written another mammoth email or two, rung my mortgage advisor and unboxed two x4200 M2 servers with the intention of setting them up. Oh, and I forgot my trainers so I could't run this lunch time. It also means I'll have to go home before the gym this evening too. I'm unsure if there's any rowing this weekend but I'll be pulling on my trainers again regardless as I've found an absolutely brilliant 12.7km route which leaves me feeling wonderfully tired afterwards. Also there's sometimes some really attractive women on a large section of the route. It's just a shame I'm always far faster and going in the opposite direction to them.

Must get on.

03/01/2008
[10:00] I've been in work since 05:00. We've been doing firewall upgrades (whole new machines, management server, interconnects) and up until half an hour ago I was standing in a loud server room shoulder-deep in cables with a freezing back and an overly hot and dessicated face. Still, we seem to have achieved the impossible: an almost flawless switchover (just a few minor issues with backup permissions and the like). I am absolutely cream-crackered already and am contemplating cancelling this evening's Thursday thingy and going to bed early. Like, really early.

Until then I've got plenty of work to do, engineer visits from Sun to organise (I've managed to convince them to come today when they were saying "tomorrow" even though we've had a call in about one machine since before Christmas) and deal with and then then just the usual things which crop up when you're a sysadmin for a busy IT place.

[14:25] I've had a Sun engineer here with me since 12:00 today. I can now field-strip an x4600 M2 server and replace pretty much every part of it from mainboard upwards. Of course, none of that mattered as the box still displays transient faults. Why? I have no idea. It's basically a completely new machine, just the same chassis. Anyway, we've finally lost patience (officially, I personally lost patience with it before Christmas) and demanded a new unit from Sun. They're going to collect this one and subject it to all manner of tests. I don't care, I just want a new one.

Since I've been here far too long today already I'm going to go home and relax shortly before having a nice quiet evening sorting out a loose end or two and clearing my mind of problems, woes and difficulties. At least for a little while.

02/01/2008
[10:15] Welcome to 2008. In some ways very similar to this time last year, and in others very, very different.

360-odd days ago I was nervous, semi-expectant and mildly confused by my life. But also extremely happy with what was happening. This year I am none of those things. At least not about the same situation. Times change and things come to an end. I must admit though that given the uncertain and random nature of the future I can't deny that I'll always retain some small hope that it's not the end of things forever. In the meantime I'm hopeful that what came out of shared experiences will remain because it would be tremendously sad if it didn't. If it does and time and effort is put in there's plenty of scope for tons of excellent fun still to be had. Right now I have enough things happening closer to home to keep me well and truly dizzy, sad, happy, confused and excited and generally occupied. I really wish things had turned out differently though; I miss what was and what could have been in another universe. It's just a shame time, location and life weren't in sync this time around.

New Year's Eve was good. I actually got dressed up in semi-smart clothing and with fourteen other people saw the new year in in a club in town. It was loud, hot and the music was brilliant (live band) as was the company. Unfortunately I'd had a headache for most of the day and by about 12:45 I couldn't take any more and needed to get home. Doubly unfortunately I was in sensible shoes and so now have two big blisters on my achillies heels from walking home so I can't run today. Maybe Friday. It's a good job I ran another 12.7km on New Year's Eve. We'll see how climbing goes this evening, if it happens.

Right now we've a ton of things we need to get sorted after the Christmas break including the setting up of the new machines and their storage. I should also call Sun and get them to bring out a new system board for that broken box too. Oh and DynDNS seem to have forgotten both about my home machine and my account, so I can't send any stuff at work home at the moment either.