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April's Journal
June's Journal

Last day of the month. Printers arrived this morning. The LaserJet 1100 is quite nice. I may get one myself one day. I've educated the PFY again in the ways of circumventing Dell's morass of post NT-installed applications (such as IE4 and Microsoft Wallet). I've actually volunteered to take a printer round to one of the outlying parts of the institution this afternoon. With luck, I can go on from there to the hifi, shop, buy the amplifiers and speakers and head on home. I may even play a game on the computer when I get there. This is by way of being a calendar event, given the hours I've been putting in, and the way I've been feeling about computers recently.

I've just been copied in on a memo which has offered PCs and printers to a section of the Institution to which PCs and printers should already have been made available. Because some sections are too lazy, tightfisted or low on finds to have done the decent thing, the PCs will be coming out of our budget and muggins here will be setting them up. "Don't worry" says the AO, it'll only be fifteen or so. Bah.

[12:00] DoD usage time creeps ever closer. We're one PC short, but we'll be getting a nice new printer for people to print out the checking stuff that goes on each year. No sign of data monkeys yet. I really do not want to be the person doing the input again. Especially with double the data this year.

More machine arrived today. Including the two laptops still requiring Windows 98 that gives me five machines, with another on order. Still, it beats working on the DoD.

Some time this week I'll need to order the DVD players and the amplifier/speaker sets for the place. I'm not ordering anything until I get the cheque from Accounts, because we're ordering from Techtronics and I have to pay for them off of my own debit card.

And that's not happening without money in the bank.

Had some friends round last night to watch stuff. That was fun.

[10:30] Gah. I was under the mistaken assumption that we didn't observe Bank Holidays here. So I've arrived to find that most people aren't in today. Apart from passing up the chance to go to a barbeque yesterday (staying over until this morning) because I wanted a weekend at home for once, I've come in for no real good reason. As a result I'll be taking the afternoon off.

The last of my DVDs (from DVD Boxoffice) arrived on Saturday, so I was a happy bunny. Spent most of the weekend watching the extras on Ghostbusters and The Abyss. I also did a lot of housework (without the woman to get in the way), including fixing a lot of broken lights and getting some sand for my speaker stands. Did you know that it's almost impossible to buy sand in less than 25kg lots? I found that out on Saturday and so, on Sunday, went to B&Q with a 55litre rucksack and my bike and bought an etched glass light fitting and 25kg of 'silver sand'. I think everyone should be forced to cycle three miles with 25kg of sand on their back at some point in their lives. It's a liberating experience. The thrill of feeling the seat post sinking into the tubing, the excitement of your new centre of gravity, the crushing weight on your lower back as the sand shifts to form one big lump over your hips, the zip and whizz of high-speed traffic assuming you're as nimble as any other cyclist on the road. It's a blast. Still my speakers aren't going anywhere now.

I dumped the remaining 9kg in the bushes of the Guy Who Parks Repeatedly In The Drop Off Point. Hope it kills his plants.

[09:30] Right. I've not said anything these past couple of days, but I felt that it was time I contacted Simon Travaglia directly and asked if the use of terms he owns the tradename on was O.K. There followed a lengthy discussion between him and myself, culminating in some quite witty quotes on the nature of Windows, children and the future of humanity. It seems that nowadays the use of the words 'BOFH' and 'PFY', while having passed into the sysdmins' vernacular, are still the property of Simon. Naturally he isn't to be begrudged this, after all, he put in all the creative effort all those years ago (and now much more recently in The Register) to create the legend. He took advice from those beings, to whom in some ways, the BOFH himself could never be as corrupt and devious; his lawyers...

As a result, the more sharp-eyed of you (who also don't link straight to this URL) might have noticed a few small changes to the main page's small print. Also, I'd like to direct people to the disclaimer and read the new addition. This is important. I'm obliged to mention it, make sure it's prominent and let people know it's there. Don't let me down, kids.

Another condition is that this site is non-profit making. I have no problem with this. Down with all capitalist pig-dogs! This site will remain the domain of the People's Republic of BOFH(tm)! Long Live the Rebootion!

About the only thing I've gained from this site's existence is a whole host of great friends, some essential advice, some frightening rants, a chance to vent my spleen daily, and a free webcam from's owner, Erin.

The TV repair bloke will be ringing between 11:00 and 15:00 today, and giving me 20 minutes to get home to wait for him. After that I'll be going to buy some more RAM, then spending some quality time checking out surround (not Digital) amps and speakers for the Institution. Call it two hours, max.

My DVDs still haven't arrived. I have no idea how long they're going to take. With luck some of them will have arrived by the time I get home tonight, or tomorrow morning.

We went to the new gym last night. I see why it's so expensive. You're paying for a complete fitness assessment every six weeks, a tailored programme and a great set of machines/weights. I think the guy who did my programme was a little pissed off that I was doing more weight and feeling more comfortable that he was. The sauna/steam room/jacuzzi isn't bad either.

Someone may be coming round this evening to buy my old (but still in perfect nick) Aiwa hifi. It's the NSX-999 Mk II. The one with the beefed up amplifier and better speakers than the old NSX-999. It's probably better than the current NSX-S999, which is in silver, rather than black, anyway.

Two new images in the galley as well. Just so you know the gallery's for more than just pictures of me, you know. Anything roughly rectangular in jpg format (that I deem worth) can be posted there. Email it.

Anyway, excitement over. This site now operates with the knowledge and tacit approval of Simon T. That's great. Maybe one day I'll talk to Jenni too...

[16:55] Just got back from cycling through a lake with holes in it. The TV technicians 'couldn't hear the hum', the bastards. I left there, bought some RAM and then wandered in to town to buy some light bulbs. That done I went to the hifi shop to find out about amp and speakers for the place. Seems I can do the two rooms that require stuff for £900 all in, which is good. Of course, the speaker brackets and cable runs will cost a tad more. But that doesn't matter. Oh, yes, the first set of DVDs has arrived; Galaxy Quest (dts), Contact and The Abyss (2 disc set). Well, that's me set for the weekend.

[15:20] Something in the offing.

Health & Safety was a damp squib of a thing from my point of view. Five minutes of nondescript questions and a cursory glance round the office. About the worst thing was one of the people asking why the server's monitors were on cardboard keyboard boxes. How exciting?

Erm, what else? Nothing really. Well... no, nothing. Doesn't matter. Worked out that we'd paid for the last lot of RAM we bought twice, so I'm off there tomorrow to get 2*128Mb more with a credit note. Not entirely sure where I'll put it, but it's good to have. Perhaps the web server, that's only got 64Mb in it. Not that it's overstressed, as far as I can tell. Hell, it'd benefit more from a processor upgrade.

The bofhcam II machine is really annoying. Crashed again. If I power it off between reboots, though, it doesn't pagefault while in kernel boot. Weird. I still think I'm going to replace the FreeBSD box with something linux-based. No, scratch that, I'll just stick the camera on another box and keep the FreeBSD thing for the modem. Decisions, decisions.

[17:55] Sorry this one's been so late, there's been lots of little jobs to do. Anyway, there's a Helth and Safety audit tomorrow morning so I've had to tidy the place up, coil all the wires, replace the floor tiles and generally make the place safe for PHBs. Of course, in the following days things will revert back to their 'organic' state.

Managed to convert two people by force of will from Macintosh to Windows NT. It's the lesser of the two evils in my opinion. At least I can admin them remotely, and I know something about what's happening internally. Also moved one sacrificial machine up to Service Pack 6a+three hotfixes. Depending on how it fairs over the next week will decide whether I upgrade the machines here. I think the servers will go last, or at least on a Friday.

According to the girlfriend (who's on lates tonight) my DVDs hadn't arrived this morning when she left for work. On the up side though, went to the gym last night and had a fitness assessment. According to the People That Know I have 0% excess body fat and check out as 0.2kg under my ideal weight. I'll happy make that up with muscle.

Damn, just started raining. Other than that I may be changing the hostname of one of the RedHat 5.2 boxes here this week. I've had people sayd things from "It's dead easy, just change this" to "changing hostnames is Bad Voodoo, nothing will work right after you do it". Which is nice.

[09:30] The Dell representative came round yesterday afternoon. The new roving one to complement the new guy I have on the end of the phone. He's tall. As in at least six feet ten inches tall. Anyone who has to bend to fit under a door frame gets some respect from me. Shame he's a complete gimboid when it comes to being a sales representative. I scared him by asking about RAMBUS and the Xeon problems, got him to find me some data on the Dell NX1 (never heard of it? You're probably not supposed to), and how Dell we going to match up against the SunRay 1. All good stuff.

This morning is the probe talk (11-12, with me taking lunch afterwards) and then I get to order 17 Office 97 licenses, 1 NT Server license and 5 NT CALs. Naturally, this is going to cost a bit in the pocket department.

[16:00] The new phone Dell guy seems to be reasonably on the ball. Saved me about £100 per box out of the three I've just ordered. There's hope for him yet. The PFY's paycheque just arrived (mine seems to be missing at the moment). She's not been recognised as working full-time, or for the overtime she put in this month. I've given her leave to prod bottom with the old fools at Central.

I've been told that changing a machine's host name (RH/linux) is bad voodoo. I've got a list of the files that need changing. Can anyone send me what they think the list is and I'll double check. Thanks in advance to anyone who actually bothers to read the Journal and replies.

[10:35] Health & Safety people are here today. I've been unable to remove the floor of the lift to cut short their visit due to lack of blow torch. So this means that I'm going to be browbeaten for not having tested each and every machine/server/laptop that's connected to the mains and putting little "tested xx/xx/xxx" stickers on everything. I've also not been keeping an inventory of the machines I've been buying. The A/V equipment which I also have to keep is semi up-to-date, but not the machines one. I'll get the PFY on to it later this week. Also in the works are a load of PC and PC/printer combinations which I'll need to get out to people fairly soon.

Everything is copeable with at the moment, but I get the feeling it's all going to go a bit Pete Tong at a moment's notice. In fact, arse, I need to ring two people and can only remember one of them. Not good, as it's to do with a swipe card security system that needs installing.

[17:10] All manner of small jobs done today. Best thing is that one of the masses brought in some chocolates for the help the PFY and I gave in making sure her big document came out O.K. I don't think she's noticed that I set the Mr T. generator off on her concluding chapter.

I didn't tell you about the weekend, did I? Well, we drove 860 miles, saw a play (which I didn't really enjoy; 1h45m for the first act, 40m for the second, 45m break), ate some food and stuff which we didn't pay for and slept in an assortment of beds. The girlfriend did all the driving, which was nice, but we were both knackered this morning.

[13:40] Immense NT Working Party meeting this morning. Discussed all kinds of things that don't matter to you. Took 2.5 hours anyway. I have another meeting this afternoon, and possibly one before I go home too. With luck this won't happen.

We're away this weekend visiting the girlfriend's parents, stay in a Travel Lodge (part of the Little Chef chain, apparently) and do lots of driving. As someone who never driven in this country (only in a left-hand drive Israeli jeep in the desert) I get to catch up on my reading. Which is nice.

[17:00] Meeting wasn't as bad as I thought. Mainly because I managed to get them to approve £25K of new PCs for one of the work rooms. This dopes mean lots of work, but I can spend some of the money on a copy of Ghost (or similar) and use the summer to get some good stuff going. It will also leave me with eighteen p100 machines with nothing to do. Can we say possible MOSIX/Beowulf cluster? Probably not. Still, it's good to have something to work towards.

[13:10] Subwoofers are expensive, aren't they? In other news, I have a new pet fuckwit. This morning he copied a few files from floppy to his filespace on the server. They were infected with one of the WM/Cap viruses. You know, the nasty little macro viruses that fuck about with your global NORMAL.DOT under Word. Anyway, I send him the standard "you need to check all the machines you sue the file on, and your floppies too" and get this... set of sentences back:
Date: Thu, 18 May 2000 12:05:41 +0100 (BST)
From: "I.Y. Fuckwit"
To: Me
Subject: Re: Virus

Many thanks for your message. I have frequently been informed by the
Anti_Virus software in the GRR that files I copy from my disks have the
'WM/Cap' virus. This is news to me, as both my computer at home (I have a
good virus protection system, thank you very much) and the GRR ones have
always operated flawlessly. If this is a virus, it has no visible
attributes other than the fact that it causes Anti-Virus software to
operate and rather imaginatively christen this non-existent 'virus'
WM-Cap. Perhaps it is a function of our virtual world that we now have
virtual computer viruses, with the very word 'virus' in this case
indicating an absence, rather than a presence. Who knows.

I will continue to be vigilant for viruses.

Yours sincerely,

I. Yama. Fuckwit
I dunno what you say to someone like that. Well, I do, but I don't want to have to pay the glaziers, or for their hearing aid afterwards. Maybe if I kill them, dismember the body, drop the parts in acid, bury the barrels in quicklime and hide the hole in the woods...

Argh! Arghargharghargh! How can one person harbour so much dumbassedness? Naturally I've replied. I won't post it here because it's got a lot of location-specific stuff in it. Unfortunately none of it is to do with their bodily orrifices and chainsaws. Although the first two drafts were tending that way. The effort I sent is good enough to slice steel, and calls into question more than you might imagine in a 'polite email'. I really hope they reply with something just as... bad. Then I can take it to the virus-panicky AO, and have them banned from computer use in that area.

Naturally, I'm drafting a new AUP as you read this.

[15:40] Which will be based on something approaching the reasonbly good one at TCD's Maths department.

[18:10] Suddenly I'm overcome with an immense lethergy when confonted with another email which says "X is on a temporary post with us and therfore is treated as a Y for whom we supply a computer and printer. Z have written the letter to say they can't provide. Please could you contact X and discuss arrangements."

Suddenly I'm tired of working here. But there's nothing I can do right now. Sometimes I wish I could get a job in a unix shop where Nerf guns were de rigeur.

[11:05] Got home last night and noticed that the people who live across from us haven't picked up their post in weeks. I think there's no-one living there at the moment. I knocked on the door of the people who live next door to us. No answer. Right.

I've had the speakers long enough for them to get worked in. Time to really test them. Started off with some Apollo 440 (Lost In Space) at level 2. Not as much bass as my Aiwa NSX-999 MkII, but given that those speakers live on the floor, it's not suprising. Then again, the subwoofer units on my new speakers aren't as beefy as those on the Aiwa's. I guess I'll need a seperate sub to provide some basis for the music. Anyway, I moved on to some Jamiruquai and some Jazz. Both sounded good, even at 3.5 (which, frankly, began to make the floor shake).

[11:25] Enough about that anyway. I've been distracted by the amazing project at Just go there. And start from Day 1. Other sites of note today are those at Exploding Dog and Robot Stories. Meeting set for 10:00 has been moved to 15:30. Oh, and Dell have decided to change all their sales representatives around. So, instead of the slightly clued guy I knew and got on with, I have a new guy who I have to train up again. Annoying.

[15:15] Meeting cancelled until possibly Friday, when I have two other meetings. Joy.

[13:00] Naturally, now I need a sub. After pushing the speaker home on the bike (wasn't that fun?) I powered up the beast that is the amplifier, added the centre and tried the THX sound from the beginning of Aliens.


Thing is, there's the LFE channel flashing away on the amplifier's LCD screen telling me what kinds of rumbles and stuff I'm missing. Maybe when I sell the old Aiwa mini hifi I'll get one. Then my evil plan will be complete, Muhahahahaha.

Stuff today: cancelled probe talk. Boo. Moved another user over to SSH for mail reading. Yaay. Far too hot. Boo. Lunch is imminent. Yaay. Other than that, the PFY seems to be killing herself to get the DoD working and looking very professional. Which is nice. I'm off to see if I can spend the rest of the afternoon off-site (no chance) and if not, go home early and have a shower. Back later.

[16:30] I've given in to temptation and ordered some DVDs from Amazon. Don't tell me you could have gotten Galaxy Quest (DTS), The Abyss (SE) and Contact to the UK from the USA for less than $72.72. I've also turned off 1-Click(sm) ordering because I don't have a lot of money. Frankly, I don't have much money at all after saving for the speakers and stuff. Still, when the new paycheque comes in I may go with the sub. Or pay some bills, one of the two.

The PFY is doing wonderful work. I keep saying it, but she's great. With luck we'll get through this year and by next year, either I'll be gone, she'll be gone and everything will be automated, or we'll still both be here and everthing will be cool. I should get up to speed. In case she falls under a bus or something. All we have to cope with now is the stats. I say 'all' but there's feckloads, really.

[11:20] O.K. I'm officially knackered. We did some much walking and travelling this last weekend I'm already wiped out, and it's not even Monday lunchtime. The heat and humidity isn't helping much.

The weekend was spent seeing the city and stuff. Our hosts live in the Temple Bar district of the city (overlooking Meeting Square in fact) and have a great view. A brief list of the things we did this weekend include: seeing the Viking exhibition, shopping, eating Belgian chocolate (brought by Tom, thanks, listening to music, seeing the city on foot, pubs, plenty of dinners out, working canal locks, buying more Nerf guns and lugging them back to England, fairly crap hotel rooms abouve nightclubs plus windows next to air-conditionser fans on the roof and a plethora of other stuff. We had a good time though. I'm just really knackered. Oh, my speaker arrived on Friday here at work. The PFY will be coming in by car tomorrow so I can take it home then. Finally.

It's hot and humid today, there's been strife with the new alarm systems in the library, lots of finiky things that aren't my responsibility and spreadsheet stuff I've palmed off on the PFY (she's a wonder, sometimes). I think I'll be going home early this week. More later, meeting now.

[18:26] Many meetings later and I have my first ever IT agenda. Am I proud? Am I happy to have produced over forty pages of dead tree for someone's disinterested consumption on Friday afternoon? Bollocks. Huge sweaty, dangly, fetid donkey bollocks. No, I'm not. I'm a techie, I hate meetings. I hate having to discuss (and for that matter make) 'policy'. You use the machines, I maintain the machines, I buy new machines and keen shit on the occasions that either I or You (the users) demand it. I will do stuff to ensure that my machines remain in good working order and you can send you friends the attachments you need to send. Leave me the hell alone. You give me headaches.

But no, I must talk, and discuss, and (FFS!) minute and agenda itemise why I spent money on such things as toner and RAM. This is not my job, this are not my beautiful house, these are not my beautiful children. Letting the days go by? I'd rather let the blood run free.

Not to mention it's been over 28 degrees centigrade in the Office all day, and it's just going to get hotter. Can I wear shorts? No, fuck off, not until at least the middle of June. June? JUNE!? It's practically goddamn Chirstmas by the middle of June, given the temperature changes here. Words fail my tired and dehydrated mind. Never mind the fact the talk on probes I was going to tomorrow has been cancelled and I'm going out to reinstall stuff I took off by accident last week.

The girlfriend's just arrived with short (praise the gods) so I can go home in some semi-sane state. She pushes the bikes, I carry the centre speaker. Recovery, thy name is dts surround.

12/05/2000 - Retroactive
We got up early and went to Dublin by train and plane. I'm so tired after the weekend that I'm not really going to write much about it except to say that the flight there was uneventful and we met up with Tom and Colm and saw some of the city. More in Monday's entry, but not much.

[12:00] Meeting as soon as this update is up. Me and the PFY get to tell the AO all the things that need doing/have been done/need more money throwing at. After that I go into town to swap phones with someone (the girlfriend's and the landlords) so that we have a dual-band handset for Dublin this weekend. I'll be back in the afternoon though. Did the last of the laptops this morning. Something that should have been done two days ago if it hadn't been for Microsoft's yoyo net connection.

[18:00] Had a meeting at 12:00 which was rushed and left me with shitloads to do. These things included ringing round people for social-type information (I'm a technical person, not a secretary), doing the minutes for the bi-annual IT Committee meeting (I hate meetings, I really hate having to do the agenda, I really hate the fact I may have to be the minute-taker as well) and all manner of uther piddly-shit stuff that I self-respecting tech person should not have to suffer with. But, given my age and relative experience I figure it's brownie points on the CV for some later date. I went to lunch.

After lunch was the technical presentation of the new institution-wide accounting system. Due to start at 14:30 we didn't get down to the transparencies until twenty minutes had passed. This was owing to the fact that the people we're getting the system from hadn't been talking to their tech people and specifications had been getting changed without our sayso.

Needless to say, a room full of sysadmins, faced with the news that what we wanted wasn't now what we were getting was a bit... annoying. We let him keep his shirt so long as he got back to us when he'd fixed the problems. As it is the new system requires an imperial butt-load of Clue to drive with any semblance of skill and runs on only the smallest subset of Java Initiator, OS and web browser. Having an Oracle back end doesn't help much either. We grumbled our way through the thing to the end, then tore more strips off them lengthways. I got into a conversation with some BOF-types after the meeting to discuss firewalls and concluded that unless you were very careful you'd end up with a network that was crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside because the lusers would imagine they were fully protected by the firewall, not realising that if one machine was compromised inside the firewall, all the others would be easy meat. Such is life.

Of course, on my return to the office there were 1001 things to do as well as the draft agenda for the AO to look over on Monday. I've allocated IPs, phoned the people who needed phoning, given the PFY jobs for tomorrow, planned world domination, made appointments to install software in remote parts of the institution on Monday and basically tied up the entirety of next week already.

Oh, and the hifi shop rang, they can deliver my centre speaker to work tomorrow. Naturally I'm not here. But at least I can take it home on Monday.

I think I'll go home and pack. It's time to leave the country for a while.

[15:35] Yeah yeah, sometimes I actually work for a living. This is why the Journal is occasionally done later. Right.

Today. Well, got in, tried to do another of the Windows98 laptops Windows Update things. Would you believe I lost connectivity to again. It's been patchy all day, annoyingly enough. The one site I rarely visit, and on the few occasions I need to do something with it, it's about as patchy as a patchy thing at beta release stage.

We had a member of one of the outlying parts of the institution come in today. She doesn't know how to deal with attachments in Pine and how to get them to a LAN-attached Windows 95 box. I got the PFY to knock up a crib sheet, with screen shots and everything, to cover NT and Windows 9x. This was yesterday. When she came in, the PFY took her through it. She swore things were different on her version of Pine. Given that I use the same version I had to correct her. A few times. By the end I had her thinking everything she knew was wrong. Weird Al would have been proud.

Given my fanatical devotion to 'tidy computers' and not having shite installed on your machine I broke down and offered to go over this lunchtime and see what I could do. Turned up to find a P200MMX with a 14" monitor running at 640x480 with an imperial buttload of IE4 add-ons which she never used. TweakUI and some judicious use of Add/Remove programs and her machine started up in half the time it used to, her browser actually got to pages and there was less chance someone would be sniffing her unix accounts because of a PuTTY ssh connection. I felt pleased. The local sysadmin needs to be shot in the head with a crossbow though; there was no antivirus software on her machine at all. I would have installed something, but I didn't have the CD with me and network connectivity from her machine sucked coconuts through a keyhole.

Left just now and have come back to find that, if you don't stress with 16Mb downloads, but break the thing up into 5-7Mb chunks (rebooting between each set, naturally) it doesn't seem to barf instantly. Slack. Very slack.

This isn't good. My centre speaker hasn't arrived. If you recall, I rang the hifi shop the day the other stuff arrived and was told that the courier simply hadn't picked it up from the shop. I've just rung back and been told that the stuff was ordered from B&W 'to order' so they shipped it as it a arrived. I've now been rung back and told that the earliest they get them from B&W will be Thursday, meaning they'll ship it out Thursday. Unfortunately I'm in Dublin on Friday, so there's no use them sending it off until Monday. So I have to go a week without a centre speaker. I'm considering getting them to refund me the price and buying it from the sister shop here.

Bunch of arse.

[12:50] Of course, when you buy your speakers cheap in a package, getting a refund on one part of it means that the money you'll get back is nowhere near enough to get the same model in your town. Arseholes. I've now got them to deliver it a week today because a) It won't arrive in Leeds until Thursday, b) I'm away Friday to Sunday, c) they don't want it to sit in ParcelForce's depot over the weekend as sometimes things go missing from there on weekends. Consequently they'll be sending it out on Monday (as it should have been today) to arrive on the Tuesday. That is, if it arrives in Leeds on Thursday or Friday. I guess waiting that long means it gives B&W time to deliver the speaker between now and Monday morning. Feck.

[15:20] The party was good. Having to leave my speakers in their boxes was hard though. While we were getting the party host his birthday present in Milton Keynes I happened upon the next season of Stargate SG-1 on video. As I was proceeding towards the till I noticed DVDs bearing the title Stargate SG-1 also. Whoa. Drop the videos, pick up the DVDs. Purchase, wait a day until I get home again.

Unfortunately the DVDs I'd been expecting from the States failed to appear due to the shop they'd intended to go to having shut down. So I bought South Park: BLU at the same time as the SG-1 ones.

Spent Sunday bemoaning the lack of central speaker while I set up the rest of them. After screwing up the courage to read the Sony STR-DB930 manual, which appeared to be longer than my Master's thesis, I powered everything on having spent a few minutes stripping and preparing speaker cables.

*thunk* Went the power across the amp. Within minutes I was fiddling with the settings on the front. Learning more in a few minutes with a DVD than with the manual after ten I pushed the amp back into the recess vacated by my mounting collection of DVDs. Hmm, that's not far enough back. Why has it stopped? Ah. Seems that a Sony amplifier won't fit in a Sony widescreen TV's cabinet. A few seconds spent kicking out the back partition gave me increased air-flow (those amplifiers run hot!) and space to push the monster back so I can close the door. Not that I'd have it off standby and not have the door open. Apart from the heat it pumps out, I'd get sick of using the Remote Commander(tm) and want to resort to "kneeling before my god" to fiddle with stuff.

Random rant for the day: Stargate DVDs that aren't in the sound format they claim to be in.

[12:00] Argh! Waited in this morning for my speakers and amplifer to arrive. Which they duly did. All five packages. Of course, there should have been six. The docket said five, so at least it wasn't lost en route. The only reason I'm not going ballistic is that I'm away this weekend and so I'm not missing out just yet. Thing is, I don't want to have to take more time out of my leave to wait for it to come (unless I can demand it arrives before 09:00), so I might have to get it delivered to work. This of course means that I have to get it home from work, but I think I can manage that within a day or two.

While I was sitting at home I connected and sent a tour de force email on attachments, viruses and 'being aware'. I've no idea how it was received, but there's every chance it might inject some basic Clue.

Other events that happened while I was at home included the PFY and a secretary putting the custodian's PC in place. He's never used a keyboard before, let alone a mouse, from the sound of things. Turns out he's a 'shotgun typist' rather than a 'key line scanner'. Used one finger on one hand too, really retro. Given his machine is a p100 with 16Mb running NT4.0 I think he and it will get along swimmingly...

[16:30] Rang the hifi shop, organised delivery of speaker to work on Tuesday because it's dangerous to leave the speaker in the courier warehouse over the weekend (apparently). The PFY has agreed to drive me home on the lunchtime with it so I don't have to wheel it home on my bike. Nice lady. Have a good weekend people.

[14:00] So, were you dumb enough to have your users running Outlook? Even though the previous guy here had people running Eudora I'd gotten an EXTRA.DAT from my pal Joe at [mumble] $ANTIVIRUS_COMPANY and had it deployed before Central had put out the alert. "Busy us? Why would that be?" was Joe's aggrieved comment at the end of his helpful email. Today is the day all the people who got stung by Melissa and swore they'd do something (and didn't) got their just deserts. Move to another mail client guys, this is just going to get more common.

Anyway, been installing a laptop and documenting the proceedure all morning here at BOFHcentral. This is so the PFY can do the other two with minimal input from me. Even I, with my fanatical devotion to the Pop^Wart of keeping machines tidy internally begin to get bored of installing and fixing up another laptop. Again.

Wish it was tomorrow, then I'd be playing with my speakers and amp. I hope to gods they arrive, otherwise I'm going to be really irritable. Must remember speaker cable, speaker cable, speaker cable.

We have four desktop machines in the building still running Windows95 (never mind the laptops, they'll be happier on Windows9x), I really need to get them running NT (as no-one understands Unix).

Oooh, crumbs; got hacked. There was a misconfiguration between the ftp server, the web server, the bug tracking system, etc... Someone got root. How embarassing. Don't worry though guys, the platform is secure, this was just a load of tiny misconfigurations. Luckily the people who got in were white hats. Check BUGTRAQ soonish for the lowdown.

[17:10] Fuckit. What a day. It all went off when ILOVEYOU was announce. Since then Joe's given me the newer of the two EXTRA.DAT to install. Unfortunately, although I have three Management Edition consoles here (serving my three major NT domains) the second of the two dat files was incompatible with version 2.0, consequently I've had to do some quick upgrading to version 2.5 with all the problems with machines not letting go of the 'Upgrades' hidden share. As a result I now have a MEUPGD1$ share, rather than a MEUPGD$. I had to wait until I'd gotten all the machines in the antivirus domain running the version 2.5 Management Edition agents before I was allowed to delete the old directories. Dunno why, I'm assuming some service or something was looking at it all the time. Annoying.

As Central continues to react sloth-like to ILOVEYOU, I've got Joe (whattaguy) reinstalling NT so he can check the veracity of my "You need ME2.5 to make the dat file work in a deployed manner" bug. If I ever grow up, I want to be like him.

[12:00] Found I need roughly 20m of speaker cable. It's actually 18m, but I know I'm going to make some kind of mistake somewhere and end up with a useless bit I can't use. I assume you cut the longest bits first, to make sure you have enough and then work down to the smaller ones. Anyway, I've forgotten my damned card today, so I can't buy the cable anyway. I might wait until Friday when I've actually had the stuff delivered and I can measure accurately.

There's a meeting this afternoon at 15:30 on the subject of the Databases of Doom. This year we've been a bit more organised, what with making the PFY do all the legwork in getting them prepared. All we need now is a few final details, someone to input all the data when it comes in and then me and the PFY do the onerous statistical analyses.

[18:00] O.K., here's how it's been. We've applied for a mail account from Central for the Custodian. This is so he can get with the Times and talk room bookings with the room booking secretary. I've cobbled together a p100 16Mb Dell and slapped a copy of NT on it. It runs, just. No-one in their right minds would want to nick it, it looks right crufty. Anyway, I got the poor dear to fill in an application form and posted it off. Normally stuff like this takes in the requin of ten days to get actioned, and then another three for the paperwork to come back. So anyway, I checked the on-line email directory this morning (having sent the application form off yesterday by internal mail). There's a person with the right name and initials already in the mix. What's this? They can't have done it by now, can they? I check the mail last read: 06:08:30. Damned odd. I call the Custodian and ask if he'd had an account set up previously that he'd never used. Apparently not.

It's at this point that I contact Central and ask what the hell is going on. Help Desk doesn't seem to know and it's only after a few confused mails from both sides that it turns out that when an account is created, the "Mail last read:" field is set to when the account is created. In this case, when the batched creation script fired at about 06:00 this morning. Problem solved I now wait for the line-noise password to come via internal mail and then I can shove another heat engine out of my office and into someone elses.

During all this strife I've been at a meeting to do with the DoD. Seems the Powers That Be want changes this year. This is by way of being an event to carve on stone tablets. Naturally this means that Things Need To Be Changed. Which is annoying. The PFY and I have also been saddled with some of the data input after all the protests we put up. Luckily it's not the biggest part, and we can split it between the two of us, rather than me doing it all, like last year. On the downside, the statistics are supposed to be a reall bugger this year. Typical. I wonder if I can leave now, rather than in eight to ten months time, when I might decide to get the hell out.

[11:30] Nothing much happening this morning. I do have to go and buy some padlocks this afternoon so that I can lock down the custodian's 'new' computer which he'll be getting. I've tried to get the slowest and cruftiest machine in the building that will semi-sensibly run Windows NT and a monitor that no-one in their right minds would want to steal, and it seems to have worked.

Will be going briefly into town to pick up some more Cobra security cables and some more keyed alike padlocks to go with them. Dunno when yet.

[16:00] It's weird having the PFY here in the afternoons. Just got back from buying the security cables (there were no padlocks) and found here in the room. It was like "why are you still here?". I now have to maintain the illusion that I work all afternoon as well. Not good. Still it gave me time to get a decent digital interconnect cable for my eagerly anticipated amplifier (between amp and DVD player). I've been advised that it's probably better to get the DVD player to output whatever bitstream it's currently dealing with DD/dts/etc. and let the amp (which is designed to decode) do the legwork, rather than the DVD player. I need to go home and get busy with a tape measure so I'm ready, come Friday night. The annoying thing is that I've got a party that weekend so I can't play until some time on Sunday. The consolation is that the party is being held by the people who've just come back from America with suitcases full of Region 1 DVDs. With luck I'll be paying for something approaching twenty-five Region 1 DVDs at $9.99 each.

[19:30] Well, it's been a rum weekend and no mistake. Here's what went down. We left late on Friday to go visit my parents in Leeds. It's only about three hours on the train. Unfortunately we'd tried to be smart and booked tickets on-line. You know how much of a bad idea this can be. Although we'd booked over two weeks ago, the tickets still hadn't come through the post to us. Naturally, they couldn't do anything until 24 hours before the journey. We rang and were told that they'd fax the ticket authourisations through to our departure station. Naturally, when we got to the station (in plenty of time) the authourisations weren't there. There ensued a rapid number of phone calls to Virgin (fuckwits) which culminated in them giving us the tickets and sorting out if we'd actually paid for them at a later date.

The journey was uneventful except for the three lager-louts (no more than 16 years of age), one of whom had no ticket and was forced off the train in the middle of nowhere. Most amusing.

Saturday was fun. I've been considering getting some decent speakers and an amp to finish my home cinema system. I took the time to go into town to compare prices and ended up getting the stuff within twenty minutes of being in town. I don't know how many of you are speaker/amp people but what I ended up with was this. A Sony STR-DB930 (Dolby Digital/dts etc.), a pair of B&W Series 2 602 fronts, a pair of B&W Series 2 601 rears and some low and high Atacama stands. I'm fairly sure a total price of £1000 is pretty good. If anyone can confirm or deny this, it'd be appreciated.

I'm getting it delivered on Friday, which will necessitate another at least morning off. Still, it gives me until then to buy the speaker cables and interconnects between the DVD player and the amp. Do you need to have a separate cable for dts from player to amp than for the five discrete cables for Dolby Digital? Looks like it's time to read that section of the manual at long last...

The Yorkshire Dales are Recovery. We went to Kettlewell on the Sunday and did some Quality Walking. The scenery is beautiful. For some strange reason there was a huge number of dead rabbits around the place. We weren't sure whether to blame foxes, mixamatosis or hyper-accurate farmers. I also picked up a Leatherman Tool Adapter. Damned useful piece of kit, even if it "doesn't fit properly" in my opinion. I've got the 'Tool' or the original PST.

Today I checked in with the PFY this morning by phone, dealt with some email (no replies, just reading) then spent the rest of the morning wandering through Roundhay Park. The place is amazing, it goes on for miles in directions you hadn't considered. And there's a lake, and the remains of a fortified gatehouse and everything. More Recovery.

We've just arrived home, found out the toilet was unflushed (no solid matter), opened our post, listened to the answerphone messages and shopped for the rest of the week. We've got about three hours of video to watch, Voyager on the telly at 20:00 and a reasonably early night to have for work tomorrow. Decisions, decisions.