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November's Journal
January's Journal

[11:20] So here it is, Friday before Christmas. I spent seventy minutes in some scummy room eradicating Outlook 97 from someone's machine and installing a semi-sensible IMAP client so that I could rest over the break without them complaining every two days (even over Christmas Day).

I dunno. I'm unhappy when I'm off work and unhappy today at work. Anyway. This afternoon I'll catch up on news, power down the department and try to go home early.

[16:00] Well, everyone's gone home. I've downed the machines which don't need to stay up and I'm off home. There will be Journals every time I remember (possibly) even on the weekends, and the reshuffle for archiving some time on New Year's Day (ah the wonders of broadband).

[17:00] Terrible day today. Went to Sevenoaks to find my amplifier wasn't there yet. Went and had lunch with friends (which wasn't terrible, actually). Went home and called Sony who said the amplifier had been tested by every piece of kit they had and the noises they were hearing were well within specification. On the other hand it is now being shipped back top Sevenoaks for Friday or Saturday morning. The nice people at Sevenoaks have promised to let me hook it up in the shop and they themselves will call Sony if the hum is still there at intolerable levels.

They've also said I can have 'a surround amplifier' over Christmas if this one turns out to still be making noises. Either way I'm pissed off that all the money I've spent has ended up with me with equipment which hums. Perhaps I'm over-sensitive in my hearing in the frequencies they're putting out. Perhaps I've got noisy earths here in the house. I'm not happy though, generally.

I created a little trouble for myself with the guy on the phone at Sony when I called for the first time. But I won't go into that. Suffice to say I actually had to apologise to the guy. It felt like ashes. I wish I could put my foot down when it comes to things like this. Sony have the policy that in the first year they will not replace equipment, they will repair it. Naturally as they don't make STR-DB930 amplifiers any more this is another reason not to do it as they'd have to give me a 940 instead.

Tomorrow I'm back at work, except for lunch and some of the afternoon. I'll close down the building by 16:30 tomorrow and go to Sevenoaks, see if the amplifier's arrived. I'm damned if I'm not going to have anything for Christmas.

The girlfriend got her leaving present from her colleagues today, the Buffy DVD box set...

[19:40] Lazy day at home today. Or it was supposed to be. I ended up going in to town to pick up some cat5 joints for the phone extension, talking to the bike people about the mystery scraping sound around the free wheel (no joy there), going to the lunchtime place I've book for my peers on Friday and increasing the booking from ten to fifteen people.

Then I went hope, and had to drag myself out to get my hair cut at 15:45. For some reason I've come back with hair barely any shorter than when I left and £9.50 less well off for the pleasure of it.

Haven't gone to the gym, should have done. I think I'll try and go tomorrow. Have to admit that I went into the workplace for a few minnutes to pick something up. Luckily I managed to avoid all the people who might have given me something to do. So stop looking at me like that.

I have tomorrow off too. The tree is hopefully getting delivered and I'm ringing Sevenoaks to find out what's happening with my amplifier. The girlfriend is going to London tomorrow evening to see some friends. I may tag along, I may not.

[12:15] Don't know if I mentioned it byt I rang Sony yesterday and spoke to Lee, my person there. He told me Sony had assigned "Job Finished" to my amplifier. This meant I should be getting it back this week. I called Sevenoaks to warn them of this just now and was told that Sony had called them and said they could not replicate the humming problem. This annoys me. I spoke with the manager of the Sevenoaks who said the place is open until Saturday 23rd. This means that I stand a chance of something coming back to me by Christmas. With any luck it'll be a fixed amplifier. Sevenoaks may give me one for Christmas if not. I hope so. Not that it's a requirement of them to do so.


I really don't think this hum is being caused by grounding problems or anything like that as apparently the same thing happens in the hifi shop who should have a clean earth.

[16:45] The replacement evaluation machine's arrived. Grudgingly I've begun my very first Windows 2000 Professional installation. Naturally even during the very NT4.0 installation there was a disk I/O error. It's hard to.. hello, what's this? "*** Hardware Malfunction, Call your hardware vendor for support, System halted".

I can see this is going to be a long day. But not too long as I've got free tickets to see Unbreakable tonight.

[12:00] Friday was cool; I went to help the Linux Administration course people clear up after a week's worth of detritus had built up in the teaching room. Had the fun of trashing as many boxes as I liked with dd's over the boot sector and various parts of hda. We went to the pub and read all the comments on the course forms, some good ones.

As we were leaving the pub a few hours later one of the group heard someone exclaim to her friend "Jesus! That guy's wearing shorts!" he looked around and only realised it was me when we got outside. I don't know what the problem is; my hands get colder than my legs and they're always uncovered.

Quiet weekend, did some shopping, ordered an artificial tree (much less hassle) on the Sunday to be delivered on Thursday. As a result I'm taking Wednesday and Thursday off to eat up some of the masses of spare leave I have. I'll be in on Friday to put the building to sleep for the duration. I've suggested to my peers that Friday lunchtime go well into the afternoon and we got to a 'Mongolian Barbeque'-type place for some decent food.

You can't really do much in the week before Christmas. I've ordered 45 phones to replace the almost Bakelite ones we have at the moment and some spare MOD-taps so we can keep them plugged into the structured cat-5 cabling. Naturally this also means that I can run the second home phone through the spare run of cat-5e I have waiting for people who come visiting, etc. Just need something to turn rj-45 male into BT socket female, but I think I have that somewhere.

[17:00] Nothing else happening today. I've unpacked the four new LaserJet 1100s but haven't had the energy to install them and move the LaserJet 4000N to the main office. I've booked Wednesday and Thursday off (tree being delivered on Thursday) to do stuff and use some off the spare days I have remaining. I've put feelers for a sysadmin's meeting/lunch on Friday when it's doubtful we'll make it back to work much before 15:00, I hope. Gym tonight, then I'll finally get round to downloading Counter Strike for Half Life.

[12:20] And the good news just keeps rolling in. Friday 5 January 2001 the whole site will be having power cut between 17:00 and 21:00. Naturally I'll have the entire building powered down by 16:30 if I can. I'll also have all the important systems physically disconnected from the wall in case of 'unfortunate accidents'.

Evan now I'm making a list of the bits of kit which need to be powered down. It's a shame I don't have a UPS which will power the servers for 4+ hours. Another problem is that I'm not sure how I restart the camera on BOFHcam I, it's been that long. In fact it's been (quick check) 311 days since the last power outage on site. I may experiment between now and then to make sure things are O.K. I'll also probably be coming in on Saturday to power everything back up again. There's no way I'm coming in on Monday to deal with Monday and a whole set of power on problems.

Otherwise things are good. Today I go to the pub with friends and I buy them drinks to help them get over the pain of doing a one week Linux Systems Administration course (teaching) with a number of people who required Clue to be rammed down their throats with a Roman crammer. My PFY, on the other hand seemed to be near the top of the class.

[16:40] Nothing else happened this afternoon, I've slacked totally. I'm going to the pub. Good weekend to the lot of you.

[13:50] Notning much happening to day. I've been fiddling with the Fiery printserver thingy. Far too many open ports. We'll have to look at that. Yeah, like I said, not much happening. The Sony guy is chasing my amplifier which is even as youread this (on Thursday afternoon) on the technician's bench getting checked. I hope to hell they find what's wrong and fix it.

The rest of the building have gone out for the cheesy Christmas Lunch. So with luck they'll come back half-bladdered and not do anything else for the rest of the day and I can go home early because I didn't take an extended lunchtime.

Or of course, they'll come back half-bladdered and mess up the computers. Leaving me here all evening getting things fixed for tomorrow.

[17:10] In a moment of madness I've added the refreshing bofhcam.jpg image to the sinkhole of attention that is at I'd prefer it if you didn't bother to go there, but if you do, well, tell it like you see it. Wading through the site rating people for the hell of it is certainly something fun to do while you're waiting for compiles to happen or Windows fricking 98 Second Edition updates to download and install.

Naturally, overnight I expect to get rated at '1' as the place will be dark and I won't be here.

[09:10] I've got a meeting from 09:30 until at least 11:00 this morning. Hopefully there'll be some kind of long lunch recovery afterwards which will make up for it. I've not been to the gym all week and I think I should make an effort to go tonight.

Things for today: change tapes, go to meeting, have lunch, waith for Sony to call, wait for Minolta guy to come and fit print server, wait for Dell guy to come and swap in second replacement motherboard.

[12:10] So I go away for 1.5 hours and one of the secretaries gets an .exe through the mail, and runs it because her best mate in another company "says it's O.K.". Have these people never heard of delayed payloads, or stuff that doesn't drop characters down your screen like in the films?

I've been round all the people it's propagated to and deleted it and Virus Scanned all the machines. Doesn't look like there was anything on board but I'm keeping this as an example; You Run Nothing You Get As An Attachment. No Not Even If It's From Your Mum. This Is Because .EXEs are Bad News In Any Form.


It's Tuesday again in terms of Lunch. I'll be back around 14:15.

[16:00] O.K. I officially hate the swipe card system. The people at central who issue the cards aren't coming back to me with the numbers I need so I've been reduced to swiping the cards in a (non-handy) swipe lock and then running to the control computer to see what number was denied access, then adding it to the database. Remember this system is running a pure DOS application. I'm running on top of DOS 6.22 here.

Did I mention? The Dell Technician arrived before lunch (another guy not the same one, so I had to guide him in again), swapped in another motherboard which actually came out of Manufacture Mode and booted properly. Like I said, all I have to do now is make sure things work properly next Ghosting time. Lunch was fun; head of Unix Support was wearing "NT Obliteration".

The whole afternoon I've been out of the office trying to keep the swipe card stuff up to date and non-confusing. I may have missed a call from Sony about my amplifier because of this.

[16:05] To those of you asking for O'Really 'direct from the source' this close to Christmas; sorry no can do. The people I would do it through are closed. Try Copyleft, you might get a fast shipment. Thanks also to those people who've commented on the solution to .exe files coming through the mail, unfortunately I don't run the mail (thank god) but I will mention it to the People Who Do.

[14:10] Looks like I got shipped the wrong machine to evaluate. Luckily I'd already wiped off the Windows 98 SE on there and installed a secured version of RedHat 6.2 (removed loads of stuff, installed ssh). Hopefully they should be able to work with that now thatI've boxed it up again.

Added a few more people to the swipe card database this morning. One or two people couldn't get in this morning it seems. To combat the fucknuggets who keep locking the door with the Yale lock I've taped over it twice and sellotaped a note securely over the top of that which says "DO NOT USE". I expect to have to replace it more than once.

A fellow sysadmin came over from the building next to mine to have a look at our swipe card 'master computer'. He was most amazed to see that it was the DOS version but went on to say that the version they have under Windows doesn't appear to be working right now. Unfortunately, like me, it's his problem according to the building administrator.

The Dell technician hasn't arrived yet. He should have arrived yesterday. I've called Sony too, and am 'expecting' a call back on my amplifier. I'm also going to call the TV people and see if I can't get some wires varnished.

[19:25] Well I rang Sony and should be called back tomorrow or Thursday. I also called the TV repair people who explained stuff and left me realising that the TV cannot be made quieter.

The Dell technician finally got here, after getting lost five times. He swapped the motherboard out, and the new one didn't work. I've also realised that this motherboard swapping will cause problems with the MAC address registered with Norton Ghost. I guess once the machine's back in circulation I should be able to sort something out.

[09:55] Monday. Actually remembered to do the backups this morning. Naturally the stuff that the PFY does to do with one of the more ornery databases came up to bite me before I'd even managed to sit down.

The swipe card system comes into effect tomorrow. Actually, it starts tonight at 17:00. But I've not told people this. It all adds to the fun. Luckily some people already have the official cards so those clever people get access to the building. Naturally I'm one of them.

[10:45] Just helped a secretary with one of the databases of doom. Not too bad, but she's been given real donkey work to do by the person above her. I've made it as simple as possible for her, but it's going to be a slog. Working with Terminal Server can't be helping her humour much either.

Bugger, just realised we have a whole raft of users no-one thought about who'll need swipe access. Time to email for more DPA-protected data.

[17:04] And the door maglocked on time. Shame some of the important people haven't been added to the database. The eveluation workstation arrive this afternoon from *IDENTITY_NOT_DISCLOSED*. There are problems with it. For a start they've given me a monitor with a USB hub, an internet keyboard and Windows 98 SE. I asked for Windows 2000 Professional. I also asked for 128Mb of RAM. There's 64Mb. I fiddled with the packaging and gave my opinions, I fiddled with the peripherals, and then emailed my comments. I tore the machine apart and then gave my criticisms. I then booted up the machine, and did "deltree windows". While I wait for Windows 2000 Professional to arrive I'll try installing linux. Perhaps even Debian (you peasant) for once.

[17:20] Oh yeah, there's no network card in it. Which is a bit crap in a workstation for a networked environment.

[16:30] Oops, sorry, miles away. Things today include walking to work from town after dropping off bike, not doing much all morning except trying to get Dell to come and repair the dead PC. Sony called. Thye will be getting the amplifier back from Sevenoaks again to see if they can find the fault again. They won't give me a new one, gits.

Dell are shipping out a new motherboard with fitted engineer on Monday. I have a number to call Sony on Wednesday to demand some kind of resolution on this amplifier thing. The PFY's off on a course next week so hopefully I can slack for the whole time apart from the continual panicky people coming in to complain about the swipe card system I'm activating on Tuesday.

What else? What else? Erm, me and the girlfriend are off tonight around the country on a Santa Run, should be back some time on Sunday evening. I'm a little worried about the temperature in the comms rack downstairs. We've replaced the 10Mb/sec hubs with 10/100Mb/sec hubs and being 3Com kit they've got huge honking fans in them. The temperature has jumped at least five degrees.

Bit pissed off with Microsoft at the moment; they've changed the style of their security bulletins. BUGTRAQ used to run them until they changed their design. Aleph1 published the information gleaned from the web page (Microsoft demand that you go to their page to read stuff now and there appears to be some kind of Java counter thing embedded in the page source) and they called copyright on him and told him not to do it again. Since then Microsoft bulletins will not be getting approved to the list. Naturally the advisories from third parties will still be going up, which is good.

[16:45] I'll be off around 16:50, all things going according to plan. So, erm, that's about it.

[12:45] I've been teaching the PFY linux this morning. She shows some good aptitude and should do well at the week long course next week. I've also called Sony's Customer Service Centre and had at least something out with the people on the other end. I can only hope something will happen before Christmas.

Thanks to Koos for the apache configuration I'd been looking for. I'll try it after lunch when I get time. I'm a bit peeved. My package from Copyleft with my T-shirts and stuff in (my own goddamned T-shirts) has gone AWOL. No-one knows where it is.

Hmmm, do I go to town to get my mother's birthday present, or wait for Sony to call back?

[15:45] I went to town, picked up the present after a bit and asked the PFY to stay in until I got back, which was fine. They didn't ring. I'm going to try them before I go home.

[17:35] They've told me I'll be rung back tomorrow. I've also been trying to trace my package from Copyleft which was dispatched via air mail "a while ago". Unfortunately I haven't gotten a consignment number so there's no way to track it just yet. Hopefully Copyleft will get back to me with something soon.

[18:10] How very odd. I've just had an email from Andrew who appears to have a reason for why my television hums, his did too.

"After shipping it back three times it turns out the transformer wires needed varnishing. Now I thought varnishing was for wood but nope, it appears that as the transformer warms up the wires wrapped around the coil stretch slightly and start to vibrate - bingo you get a high pitched hum. Apparently varnishing the wires sticks them all down and they don't vibrate. Sounded distinctly iffy to me but lo and behold it works and I have a silent Sony. The repair ticket even came back with the "varnish wires" as the resolution."

Like I said. Odd. I may try asking for it to be done.

[20:00] Fuck. One of my Dells has stopped working. The power light on the front is orange and the HDD light is on permanently. The HDD doesn't appear to spin up either. Not that it matters, swapping the HDD doesn't help. I can't be arsed to see if the motherboard is shorting out against the case or not, that's a job for tomorrow after I drop the bike off at the YHA for its free service.

[10:50] Still no network connection. Routers down all over the place. Luckily none of it is my fault. The down side to this (apart from not being able to talk to people or read my email) is that the PFY and I are working on the Chubb INOVA_PC door control system. It runs on a DOS box, it's counter intuative, it's lame,it's crap, it really really sucks. It just doesn't work how you'd expect things to. And we have to have it up and running before Christmas.

I can't even get to the linux box on which the journal is stored at the moment. It makes me want to set up a DNS server, not that that would help at the moment. I've left the PFY reading the manual for the Chubb system for the moment while I listen to the Marshall Mathers LP. I've only got it because the girlfriend bought it for £4.99 from some on-line place. Some of the tracks are good, the others... aren't.

The PFY is going on a linux administrator course next week. This is good as I approve of Clue in whatever form it comes. It also means that I have to field all the helpdesk-a-like calls she normally does. Which reminds me, I need to do some really important evaluation stuff on her post to see if I can get her upgraded.

[11:50] *cough* *coughcough* It seems someone rewired the fibre last night after the swapping out of 10Mb hubs for 10/100Mb hubs and patched the connections in backwards. This is the reason for the outage. Whoever it was deserves a slap.

[14:50] Booked the cycle in for a service on Friday morning (which means walking from town to the workplace) and collecting it at lunchtime. I've also had a request from Security to add their cards to the Chubb swipecard system. I could so add them and then deny them the ability to leave the building again. Muhaha.

[18:00] Hectic day, all in all. I'm all over the place. The Chubb stuff is really odd and we've decided to do it our way. It may not be The Way but it works.

[10:40] Well, I can't say I'm blown away by the GeForce2 GTS 64Mb. Installed it without too many problems. The desktop looks a little... odd. Most of the games needed re-tweaking and the OpenGL stuff that comes with the Detonator drivers doesn't like things like Half-Life. Plus trying to run at 1280x1024x32 under Homeworld caused it to bomb out back to Windows and not allow me to get to the taskbar. Repeated trying locked the machine solid. Still it runs. Halflife looks fairly good, a little jerky in places still. Odd.

Anyway, this morning I learnt for the first time of being required how to set up mod_auth access with AuthUserFile to directories. This means we can set up an "intranet" set of pages. I'd like to tie in the functionality of Order deny,allow to allow people within the building to bypass the password section, but I'm having trouble working it in at present.

There's the weekly BOF lunch today so I may be gone a little longer than normal. Not that any of you care. No word from Copyleft recently. Wonder what's happening there. I've also written a letter to Sony's Consumer Services department. I rang them last night after Sevenoaks told me to and they told me they were only a call centre. I've also filled in an online comments form so I can hope I'll get some joy soon. I really, really want a working amplifier for Christmas and the new year.

[10:30] Tired. It's been a long weekend. We had a party on the Saturday night until late (early). Then walking and stuff on the Sunday. Saw Charlie's Angels last night. Good quality fun and cheese. Thankfully it didn't take itself seriously at any point and as such may be worth getting on DVD. The inspired use of Smack My Bitch Up by Prodigy at one point was classic. Alas I did get back to find that the cable modem service had fallen through the floor. Seems the local UBR had gone to cloud-cuckoo land. I rang the technical support line and found that whatever Cisco kit they're running there had jumped up to 97% CPU usage and then folded over in the middle and died. Either way it was dead at 20:00 and back by at least 08:00 this morning. I may still get some money back give that it dropped some useful connections I was using.

I've just been looking at the programme for LISA2000 and realising that this year's has enough Windows NT/2000 stuff for me to have attended had I been able to sell it to the administration (not a chance in hell). I would have gone anyway given the chance to go to the other stuff, but I should really have a 'work reason'.

Not sure what I'm doing this week, yet. As per normal it's a case of taking things as they come. Joe, the pal from NAI, and I had a chat on Friday afternoon about the weird errors I've still been getting. He's advised me to poke the registry with regedt32 and reset the permissions on the HKEY_LOAL_MACHINE and HKEY_CURRENT_USER (logged in as a local administrator) back to whatever it was they should have been. Doing that however gives you a really nice Windows NT warning: "The system has detected tampering with your registered product type. This is a violation of your software license. Tampering with product type is not permitted.". Which is good.

Arse and feck! I should have ordered some kit from Dell and MISCO weeks ago and haven't managed to do so. Need to do it right now and get it rushed through for before Christmas.'

[14:10] Kit's ordered, flap over. The PFY's having trouble importing some of the tab-delimited records into the nasty Citrix-accessed database. She'll solve it though.

After the gym this evening I may get around to replacing my Voodoo3 3000 AGP with a GeForce2 GTS (64Mb). Should be lots of fun and games. I wonder if I'll need to do a complete reinstall. Detonator drivers look good, should provide some reason to go to the gym quickly this evening.

[16:55] Just been on the phone to Sevenoaks who've told me to ring Sony to get my amplifier sorted. I rang Sony (a call centre) and was told that they can't do replacement units and that Sevenoaks need to call them to get the unit collected so they can have a look at it again. I really don't want it to go away again, I just want another unit. I'm pissed off and I want an amplifier for Christmas.

[11:30] Another day, another journal page to cobble together with witticisms, moans, gripes and observations. If you want something more exciting try my friend's pages at who even uses images and frames, the rotter. Don't forget to come back.

We've been asked to make a shopping list of all the stuff we might need in the next year or so. It's not until you actually sit down and do the maths that it turns out you need a shit-load of kit, licenses, machines and the like. I hope I don't cause more than a small heart-attack, I like this AO, at the moment.

[13:55] I'll tell you what really gets my goat. What pisses me off the most. The fact that, as we have to move to Windows 2000 within the next two years, all the software which (while all software sucks) we know and work with fine has to be changed too. Let me give you a little list. FileMaker Pro, Pcounter (possibly), ARCserve Enterprise Edition, Ghost Enterprise Edition and all manner of other gubbins. This pisses me off as it takes money away from other things I have to budget for.

Budget for.

I can't believe it. I'm twenty, erm, five, four? Something like that, I never remember, and a manager. I never wanted to be a manager. It's about this time in my life I should be a console monkey to a BOFH who's teaching me the finer nuances of sysV versus everything else and giving me huge swathes of non-windows skills to fill my CV with. Somewhere something's gone horribly wrong.

I've given the PFY the afternoon off in thanks for staying late on whatever day it was that we swapped the switches in.

[16:35] Just been rung by Sevenoaks. Apparently my amplifier is back with them. Sony have reported "No Fault Found", which is plainly bollocks. They guy in the shop is going to hook it up on Monday (busy I guess) and verify the hum is still there. If it turns out to still be there he'll give me a ring and then I get medieval on Sony's arses. With luck I should get some kind of new amplifier (probably a 940) out of them for my troubles. Out of seven months I've had this piece of kit it's been in my house for only four of them.