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26/06/2008
[16:00] Mostly today I've been tidying up my work and getting ready for being away. This has involved writing myself a good set of notes on things I need to do, like set up email notifications for CVSNT, updating CVSNT so it actually can do email notifications and getting ready to create some more Xen installs because it turns out that the web team need another three servers to do their Rails migrations on.

Otherwise I've been patching the Zeus Solaris 10 boxes in a way that they actually work, oh and considering how I'm going to get the whole Oracle Application Express thing working on the development box.

Kris has arrived here and is waiting at home doing all kinds of useful things to prepare for the holiday tomorrow. I'll be getting out of here shortly and getting on with unplugging from work for a while, and also packing a lot. I think you should all have a really good few days doing whatever it is you do when you're not reading this and I'll see you a week on Monday for a debrief and so on.

25/06/2008
[17:00] So rather than go to the gym last night I thought I'd clean and tidy the house a little. Being me and living alone means the house is never really messy, other than the kitchen. Vacuuming and cleaning things like the kitchen and bathroom sometimes go by the wayside for a week or so though. Tackling those was what I got down to when I got home, as soon as I'd located the very very slow puncture in my bike tyre. After I'd finished the vacuuming I decided that maybe it was time to change the filters. Opening the box of them that were actually bought by my first girlfriend in something like 2000 I discovered that you're supposed to wash the filters every three months and change them every year. I don't think the filters have been removed from the machine in about five years. I binned them and put in new ones. When I turned it back on again I was almost unable to moved the vacuum cleaner due to the suction increase. Obviously this necessitated me doing all of the work again as I was actually cleaning the place. After that I started cleaning the bathroom and decided to move some DivXen from my desktop to my server so I could watch something while eating dinner.

This is were the excitement began. First the machine rebooted while I was standing there, almost as soon as it'd shown the desktop. After that it crashed and rebooted while I was unzipping a file. This caused a registry file to corrupt so much that the machine wouldn't boot. Initially I didn't help myself getting it fixed but with the aid of a Microsoft document and an install CD I was able to use a Restore Point to get back to what I think is the point I was at before the machine started to go nuts. Of course I still had no idea what'd caused the machine to crash so as soon as I had it working again I tried to do the things I'd done before which caused it to crash. Only a random glance at the C: drive free space caused me to come to the right conclusion. Coping the DivXen from Sam's portable hard drive to the Desktop had filled my system drive and when there's no space left Windows gets very unhappy. Deleting the couple of gigs of video left me with a stable system again. Talk about panic. At that point I'm pretty sure my heart rate and sweat (including cleaning and vacuuming) were similar to those from a moderate gym session!

After that I decided the house was clean enough and retired to the kitchen to cook up my first curry in a can't remember how long. Having Kris there on Skype to chat to and watch me cook was an amusing bonus. Dinner in company is almost always nicer than being alone.

Today I have been writing things that need writing, printing things out that needed printing and organising things that need organising. I've installed and helped configure Oracle's Application Express (which at first glance doesn't look too abominable). I've helped two people start using CVS on the CVS/Subversion server I set up, ooooooh, three years ago and haven't had but two people choose to use it.

Damn, and now I need to go, rowing tonight! Lots of preparing to do, too!

24/06/2008
[17:30] The rowing last night was really rather good actually. I'm glad you asked. Lots of technical work, the cox was helpful, the coach was good and we all seemed to stay switched on for the entire outing. I also got to slot myself into the boat for Wednesday rather than yesterday being my last outing before I get back on the 4th/5th. Which is nice.

There's actually been some work for me to do today. Not only have I and one of the DBAs been handed a project to do all on our own (Oracle Application Express stuff) but I've also been tweaking the fifteen Xen web servers I told you about a few weeks (months?) back multiple times and writing scripts for application specialists so they can get to mounts and shares from one place and use them to install software in other places. Which is nice.

I was going to go to the gym this evening but the coach actually told us to relax today. So instead (feeling like I'm missing out) I'm going to vacuum the whole house, clean the bathroom and make an attempt to turn the kitchen into somewhere that doesn't cause rats and cockroaches to die of poisoning if they eat there.

Then I may watch a film or two and eat something which isn't a ready meal of some description and try to get my fluids up after the activities of the last 24 hours. Tomorrow should be an interesting and active day, but we'll see what happens by the time I get to write the journal entry for it.

23/06/2008
[16:35] Slightly fraught afternoon clearing up a bit of silliness I caused through my own wibbling and wobbling. It was actually a useful and productive thing to have happen as it established some useful bits of knowledge and became very much a learning experience for me and a way of solidifying some of my thoughts on important matters. All in all it's better that it happened and was resolved with a smile or two. Hurrah!

The weekend was full of rowing. Both mornings I was out on the river. Although for one outing I was at Bow and the other at Stroke. Truly I am becoming the guy who goes in every seat. And yet I still don't know if I'm in the crew for the races at the end of next month. If I am I'm pretty damned sure I'll be at Bow, or not in the boat at all. Of the two outings Sunday was by far the best even with high winds and lots of greenery in the water. It involved a very solid bit of technique training which left me (us) with a lot to think about. Given it wasn't tiring I went for a run after that but had to fight against the wind so much I ended up walking for some of it. Especially with the heat and direct sunlight in the mix. Saturday afternoon was shopping for food for the week and about ten miles of cycling to track down some clotted cream for scones. I visited two Tescos, a Sainsburys a Marks & Spencer (apparently they don't sell it) and finally an Asda before I found some. Damned glad I did as it's rather important.

Met Kate for the last time or so over the weekend before she leaves town for the duration. Drinks with someone who doesn't 'drink' are always pleasant. Oh, and I must not forget going to see The Happening with Sam yesterday evening. Hadn't seen her in a while so it was good to catch up somewhat and give her some more downloaded stuff to watch. As for the film, I was spoilt as to what the 'secret' was plot-wise but still hoped there was something else to give it some depth come the end. There wasn't. As the credits rolled I was left wondering "OK, and now what?" As per with Mr Shamalamadingdong's (I can never remember his surname) films there were some truly visceral and memorable moments but the whole thing left me cold overall.

Not much chance to chat with Kris as she was at her brother's wedding for the weekend. Still, with wireless in the hotel and airport hotspots we managed to snatch a few minutes here and there which was lovely. Even better is that she will be here on Thursday! I may have to come in early so I can leave sooner what with her waiting at home for me. Although given the amount of traveling she'll have done she will probably be asleep.

More rowing this evening (back at Bow again) before I'm out of the boat for the rest of the week (and the next week, being on holiday). Hopefully there'll be a seat for me when I get back! Kris is staying in town after we get back from Somerset for the week so she may get to see how much I've improved rowing-wise or even come climbing.

20/06/2008
[16:30] So, when you row full power for 30 seconds, then do ghost strokes for 30 seconds and then repeat that twenty times it can get a bit tiring towards the end. Still, lots of fun and the perfect way to improve 'bursting' stamina when you need it in a race. I'll be doing more of those I think. As it is I feel quite tired today but am still contemplating the gym after work. I may have to have some kind of recouperative chocolate confectionary before embarking on aforementioned exercise session though.

Last night was pretty good. Met up with Kate for a damned good chinwag. Put the world to rights a bit and then headed off to people my boat crew (those who could come out) and some ladies from a boat house just down from ours. A good time was had by all. We all got to talk to some very nice young women and only one person (not even from our boat, he arrived later) got drunk and loud. Pizza Express was the venue and it was pleasing to note that it was one of the girls (a rather thin, tall girl) who ate the most, even if I helped her with half of the second pizza. Amusing to say the least but I think anyone who does as much exercise as we do would be as hungry as we were. I decided not to stay with the group afterwards for the extra drinking but headed home, to bed.

Sleep is slowly improving again after the spate of early morning wakes I've had in the last week or so. Hopefully I'll be back to normal shortly. I'm in the boat for tomorrow and Monday's outings but not for any of the others before I go on holiday again. There still hasn't been an announcement of what the set crew is for the races at the end of next month. I'd really like to be in it, but at the moment I really have no idea whether I am or not. As it is I think I'll be running alongside the boat on Sunday as my usual ~10km run. That might indicate that I'm just a little keen.

Work is dull at the moment. I've resorted to tidying things and warning the web team when they make their web servers go nuts. I think I will eat some chocolate and then go to the gym. There's washing up to be done this evening, even before I make dinner. Not sure what I'll do this evening. I imagine there may be television involved somewhere. Or housework if I really feel the urge.

19/06/2008
[16:45] No rowing tonight and, in a fit of laziness, no exercise at lunch time either. In fact no official exercise all day. Instead this evening I'll be going out with a few of my crew mates and one of the female boat club crews for dinner and drinks... if they actually confirm the change of date. If they don't I'm going to have to sheepishly turn up to Thursday being hosted at Cormac and Steph's and explain that things fell through and everyone slogged across town for no real reason. Still, it's nice to have it hosted somewhere else every now and then.

The work I've done today mostly boils down to relearning how to administer CVS and Subversion repositories and fixing mounting options for non-root users after I forgot that Red Hat break that bit of functionality when you do a Samba update. Other than that I've been catching up on technical and non-techical correspondence. I'm a smidgen behind here and there with getting certificates renewed, chatting with friends and confirming some configurations with Sun's engineers.

Hmmm, still nothing from the organisers of the evening.

18/06/2008
[17:10] Despite having fairly good forearm strength from climbing (not that I have been doing much of that recently) last night's rowing coupled with the night before's racing seems to be having a rather tiring effect on them. I think I need to do more with them to get the strength back again. That or hope that the boat stays more off bowside so it's not such hard work on the recovery of the stroke. We're out in the boat again tonight at 18:30 so I'm going to have to head home shortly and get some food inside of me. I have the remains of the mass of steak I fried last night as well as some fruit and vegetables which should stop me from feeling quite so cantankerous as I did when I got home last night.

Not much happening again at work. I failed to go for a run at lunchtime by suddenly finding myself eating my lunch. I guess my body took over when it got hungry enough. I'm beginning to get more excited about the holiday and Kris being here now. In some ways I'm a little peeved that it takes so long for me to get up to speed on things changing. I'd like to think I was the kind of individual who could roll with sudden, irregular changes in my life, but it seems like I can't. Before now I've found myself getting into things very quickly and deeply, and at other times not so much. I wonder what it is that decides how that works.

17/06/2008
[16:55] We raced last night! The race started with me getting home and to the boat house in time for the rowing. Of course the place was locked with everyone waiting outside for someone with a key to turn up. The rails on the number 2 seat are still broken and broken even more over the course of the row down to the start (which was abysmally bad). I didn't look at them once we started racing. After being told that this race was usually a small, quiet one we were surprised to see total freaking gridlock at the start area. Still, once boats started filtering through the start line and back along the 2.6km course everything was fine. I say fine, it was our first full head course and it was rather tiring. Not for my legs, which stood up (no pun intended) to the distance well, but my hands and forearms. Even with a conscious effort to keep my grip loose I still had trouble holding on to the oar by the end. This was more annoying than anything else. We chased some crew or other up the river and were in turn chased by another. Although we were overhauled by 1/3rd of a boat length at the finish line we also nearly caught the crew in front, which was nice. And even nicer that we did it having not really rowed together more than once this month and not so many times in the previous one. Not only that, my last row had been on stroke side. Anyway, after that I hung around for a drink and then headed home to eat before I folded in two. Happily I'd also arranged to chat to Kris so did that whilest devouring pasta.

A combination of Unknown X, light mornings and worry meant that I got off to sleep well but woke repeatedly early in the morning (i.e. probably around 02:00 initially, I chose not to look) and therefore dragged myself blearily and unhappily out of bed to get into work early this morning to do patching. Of course almost all of the scripts to shut down the servers' services needed a bit of a tweak but I think I got everything done and dusted and patched and rebooted well within my window of vulnerability. That didn't stop me feeling distinctly down in the dumps for most of the morning until my favourite person arrived and showed me the error of my ways, again. It's wonderful when someone can do that simply by smiling and telling you you're being silly.

The roawing coach appears to have found some free time in his rather hectic life to organise some rowing outings (training sessions) for us this week. I appear to be in three of the four outings, with a social thing planned for Thursday which I committed to when it was on another day. Mildly annoying but given I haven't been to any of the social things to date it would probably be a good idea not to miss this. Especially as I've already paid some money. Anyway, on the rowing front this means that I'm rowing this evening, tomorrow evening and Saturday morning.

Work-wise I've finished all my current tasks so have been trying to get the web team to start thinking more seriously about moving to the shiny, completely working (hopefully!) new Xen guest servers I have waiting for them. That and helping someone start using CVS or Subversion. No-one's sure which yet. I should probably write the three year old documentation on how to run and maintain the CVS/Subversion server if someone's going to start actually using it.

Busy morning, silly head wobbles and dull afternoon. Rowing this evening should just about finish me off. Hopefully an early night tonight will do me some good.

16/06/2008
[16:40] It's all happening today. In reverse order (kinda) it looks like Kris is coming over to join me and about thirty other people who're going to Somerset at the end of this month for a join 35th birthday party for two friends. This is going to be both lovely (in that we get to see each other), mildly expensive given the fact I've just paid for a new front door I had replaced this morning and 'intriguing' given that it's going to be the first time she meets my friends and it's going to start with... everyone in one go. Talk about going in at the deep end.

I'm a little nervous, truth be told, because of the situation and this and that. This, however, is simply part of what is both right and necessary on the path to getting things settled/sorted/whatever. You know; meeting the friends. I don't know whether my nerves are coming from the fact I don't know how everyone else will react, how Kris will react to the barrage of new faces, that I hadn't really got my head around the holiday as a concept anyway because I've been too busy with rowing and work and Kris separately or simply a combination of everything coupled with the fact that I'd banked my emotions like a low-burning fire on the assumption that Kris and I wouldn't be seeing each other until a week and a bit into August. Now I've got to reverse direction and unpack all the good things I'd wrapped in tissue paper and put carefully away ready to take out in plenty of time for August. Obviously it's a brilliant thing, but I don't think it's going to sink in for a little while. Also I've got to spend a little while making sure that I have the money in my current account to pay for my share of Kris coming over and going on the holiday with everyone, but that shouldn't be an issue whatsoever. All in all "hurrah!"

There's at least two swarms of bees in the tree outside our window today. I think one swarm got too big and has split. This means we've been unable to open our window all day. It's hot and stuffy in here. This also has not contributed to clarity of thought regarding the holiday thing. On top of that I'm racing (rowing) this evening pretty much straight after work so that's taking up valuable thought space too. I suddenly feel a smidgen overwhelmed with stimuli. I think being in the boat this evening will help me center myself somewhat. That and the blisters.

The weekend was pretty much mowing the lawn, going rowing, lazing around, doing imperial buttloads of washing up, chatting to Kris, doing lots of ergo work on Sunday, going to Tesco, playing computer games with Cormac and relaxing for the evening having missed an opportunity to go to the cinema with Sam due to my ineptitude at replying to email. Today has been all about the door, updating servers (also doing some very early tomorrow morning too) and beginning the process of finding out why our new Red Hat Network subscriptions and entitlements aren't showing up yet.

Oh, I'm very, very happy with the door, yes.

13/06/2008
[16:45] A Friday the 13th when nothing particularly bad happened at work. Which is nice. Then again nothing much happened at all. I did a reasonable ergo row at lunch time (my first since Tuesday 20th) and didn't die completely so I feel moderately happy about a light gym session this evening. Then the only fly in the ointment is that I have a load of washing up to do because of last night's Thursday session. It was a fun one with a good few people turning up even if, after a good long chat about eco stuff afterwards, I came downstairs to find people poking a little bit of fun at my recently changed personal circumstances. I guess it's just because they haven't been in the loop much, but even so, it was a little off-putting. I'm sure things will work out fine though.

I've rowing on Saturday and a race on Monday evening so I need to actually remember how to row in a real boat between now and then. It's a head race, so it won't look too embarrassing if we're less than impressive. Other than that I desperately need to mow the lawn and do some hedge trimming. There's also some food in the fridge I have to whip into some kinds of meals, do some food shopping and try to catch up with one or two friends I haven't seen in a while. I might even go for my run on Sunday.

I think that's it, see you Monday... although not until I've had my new front door fitted. That should be interesting and leave me with a bit of painting to do if I'm not mistaken. I hope they do a good job and don't leave it looking like a dog's dinner.

12/06/2008
[17:25] In at 06:45 today to do some patching and rebooting. I had my stuff done by 07:30 but couldn't reboot a box until a DBA or two had come in and manually killed a DB that just wouldn't die. Once that was done all seemed to go smoothly. Since then I've been watching the load balancer which I partially killed yesterday and being quite relieved that it seems to be behaving. Other than lunch with Cormac the highlight of the day has been making a Skype video call with someone on a bus traveling between New York and Boston (gotta love that mobile wireless/GPRS/EDGE technology) and tracking them with Google Maps at the same time. Talk about getting close to the total surveillance society. I bet the bus has GPS in it too, not that I'd be able to access it.

Thursday night regular thing is back on this evening. Not entirely sure who will show up to be honest. I need more exercise, I still feel out of shape. Tomorrow is rowing at lunch and gym in the evening. Still no sign of any rowing outings this weekend, maybe it'll come tomorrow. If there's nothing doing I'll be mowing the lawn, running and going to the gym.

11/06/2008
[18:25] Today has not been too great all things considered. First off, after last night's run (I just had to, there was a need to not feel quite so out of shape as I do now) I got to bed failry early but just couldn't sleep. After lying there for a few hours I got up to see if there was anything in the fridge. There wasn't. So, round about 01:00 this morning I went back to bed and waited for the BBC World Service to do it's job at sending me to the land of Nod. As usual, it worked. However this morning I was really, really groggy and in not real mood to go to work.

It might have been a good idea if I hadn't as all kinds of weird and problematic things have happened. First of nothing at all happened in the morning, which in itself is a bit annoying. However in the afternoon we had two tiny power cuts which meant we had to check everything was OK, twice. Then one of the ZXTM cluster machines failed to boot after I'd installed officially authorised patches. This was distinctly annoying as it made me look like a bit of a fool in front of my team leader who doesn't seem to have a terribly good opinion of me at the moment following a misunderstanding with regard to web server and Subversion configuration this morning. I get the impression he really thinks I'm a bit of an idiot sometimes. I'm probably not doing much to dispel that impression since my return from the US. Hopefully things will improve as I continue to learn more.

Anyway, other than that there's been some servers drop off the bottom of the asset register which I've been able to get my hands on, as well as a KVM or two which may come in handy at some point. Right now, especially after my lunchtime run I'm feeling a bit run down (hoho) so I'm going to head off and do nothing this evening. After last night's seminar on linguistics and the run I feel perfectly entitled to do sod all tonight. I might even watch the new Futurama feature length thingy.

Of course, I'm in at 07:00 tomorrow doing more patching. Hopefully that'll go a lot better than today!

10/06/2008
[16:30] It's a beautiful day here. As a result I've been indoors all day working. I wish I was outside. The only outside I've been exposed to was when I went out at lunch time to grab a burrito.

Work has mainly consisted of patching machines, making sure machines I can't contact are actually supposed to be dead (or even removed from the rack and sitting on the floor of the machine room) and getting up to date with a few projects. As of tomorrow I'm back on writing documentation.

I've booked some vacation for the end of August when I'm due to be running the volunteer force ("Gophers") for the Discworld Convention again, but before that I imagine I'll be taking a few days off here and there while Kris is in town. Not sure when as yet, though.

I'm off to a talk on linguistics in a little while if I can get out of work in time to get there for a seat. More on that tomorrow if it's actually interesting.

09/06/2008
[15:30] Hello there. I'm back. Obviously you've not missed me. Although perhaps you've missed this little daily insight as to what's been going on in someone else's life. Who knows? I doubt it to be perfectly frank, but nevertheless it's back and if you choose to read it it's here for you to do so again.

For the last week or so I have been in New York. And, well, it was pretty darned fabulous. I'd give you a rundown on everything I did but, well, as with all my best holidays there's both too much to relate and lots that I don't feel like sharing. In no particular order here are some of the things I do feel like telling you: watching Avenue Q performed on Broadway (with one or two of the original cast), exploring large parts of Central Park, towing a duck in a cardboard box down 5th Ave in a child's four-wheel cart, eating breakfast bagels and drinking orange juice on the street New York-style, eating a stack of pancakes with blueberry compote, bacon and maple syrup in a diner, poking fun at people in the Apple Store, having a private tour of the Museum of Natural History, wandering around the Met and getting educated in Chinese art, looking out over Manhattan from the top of the Rockerfeller Center (sic), visiting Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty (queuing), walking everywhere, eating real Italian-American pizza, eating lots of very nice food generally, having brilliant company 24-7, making some good choices, experienced deeply unpleasant humidity and finally sitting on the runway at JFK for two and a half hours before actually taking off.

There's photos to follow soonish.

Getting to work this morning wasn't particularly fun. With the flight arriving an hour or so later I missed my coach and had to get a later one. This meant I was later getting into town, had hotter weather to walk home in and got to work about two hours after I should have done. I now have to make up time over the next few days rather than retroactively book off this morning as holiday. Something I'd really rather not do as I'm going to be taking off at least half a day shortly to get my new front door fitted too. Anyway, I should get on with the mountain of work that's accumulated in the week I was away having fun. I don't appear to be rowing tomorrow which is good as I'm due to be going to a talk instead. I could also do with going to Tesco and restocking my fridge at some point too. How've you been?