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[10:13] Good day today. Went and spoke to someone about getting the last of the boxed PCs out of my room. It means a trip to the hardware store for more security cables and padlocks. To 'avoid disappointment' I've booked early and got the stuff I need stuck behind the counter. I've got a seminar this morning on more of the nasty internals of Windows 2000 and then I pick up a fixed hub. After that I have lunch, then head for the hardware store.

Because I came in for the afternoon of Monday I'm then taking the rest of the day off. I do have to go out to go the gym this evening though. Really need to get back in the habit of going.

Must get something small and solid to help secure the flat screen monitors to the desks. Perhaps some of those tiny, tiny D-locks which don't seem to be of any use to anyone else.

Doing more HTML stuff this morning, although it's tending towards dumping content into templates and then doing the type-checking that my predecessor couldn't be bothered to do.

Oh yes, got home networking working last night. Fun and games with ipchains and Windows 98 and a little D-link hub. I sacrificed some skin and blood to my PC during an attempt to get the NIC on its own IRQ, but no joy. Perhaps that went towards getting hosts and DNS working properly. I've called NTL to get them to tell me what exactly they'll be charging me for after the installation last Friday. I think they may be charging me for termination points and stuff like that on top of the call-out fee, when all they really did was give me a Y-splitter and some extended cables.

[13:35] Plumber arrived at 12:15, left at 12:25. There was a broken washer. Seems either the washer had come 'pre-split' or the installers had over tightened the thing and split it (more likely). A quick replacement and everything was fine. All we need now is for the whole are to be tiled and we'll be set.

While I was waiting for the plumber to arrive I upgraded the BIOS on my home machine. Talk about nerve-wracking. They don't mess about with the warnings and stuff when that happens. Good job they put in checking stuff, turns out I had a Revision 2 Abit BX6, not a version 1 as I'd thought.

Maximum of fifteen days until we get the cable mode installed.

The cable installatiuon went as planned. I won't detail the number of people who turned up, the discussion of the use of isolators, gromits and types of cabling, nor the discovery that the main guy did cat-5 installations and he was interested in the home network I was putting together.

Today is catchup day, and fiddling with the new site design.

[17:40] Which, while fairly fun (now that I've got a stable template) isn't really floating my boat today. I've got someone to come and drive home my multi-homed machine in preparation for the cable modem. The only problem is that the person who is selling me the modem before he moves back to Italy has closed down the only email account I have for him. So unless he calls me, I can't get to him. I've left a note on a newsgroup he uses, but I don't hold out much hope. I'm not impressed.

[12:00] Lazy morning, got up in time for Starship Troopersa but it was one I'd seen before. Pottered around, did some tidying, moved some of the shelves ready for the NTL guy(s) to do their thing. They really better show up this afternoon or I'm going to be pissed off.

Got bored with sitting in the house using the free modem connection so I wandered over to the Parcel Force depot to pick up the parcel they couldn't fit through the postbox yesterday. Some leaflets or something for the girlfriend to mail out to people involved in a convention.

Figured out why some of my machines pay attention to /etc/hosts.* and some don't. An elementary mistake really; some of the ssh daemons were compiled with libwrap so they were TCP wrappered, some weren't. Serve me right for using RPMs rather than compiling from source. I've fixed them all to use /etc/sshd_config, which is much nicer, except that it gives a polite message to people trying to connect rather than telling them to go away.

I think it's time to watch a DVD.

[14:35] Email from Microsoft on a TechNet briefling I've been invited to.
Return-path: []
Delivery-date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 14:11:05 +0100
Received: from (FR71275789 []) by with SMTP (Microsoft Exchange Internet Mail Service
Version 5.5.2650.21)
        id VANZ8S0K; Thu, 26 Oct 2000 14:09:43 +0100
Date: 26 Oct 00 14:10:25 +-0100
From: "Microsoft Conferences Registration Office"[]
To: "Ben [street name] - [place of work, misspelt] "[my.emailATaddress]
Subject: Microsoft TechNet Briefing Confirmation of Booking

Dear Mr [street name]
So they lose my last name, add the street I work on instead, misspell my place of work and actually send an email that is all on one line. I've pointed all this out and asked them to fire the people responsible for firing the people who type details into database forms incorrectly. Fuckwits.

I've put up the new web page designs and am now waiting for comments from people. One positive comment from someone already. In other news I'm hoping to take all of tomorrow off for the NTL guy and general slobbing around. With luck I'll be off all day on Monday as well waiting for the plumber to come and at least take a look at our shower. I'll try and do some journal entries then.

Copyleft have emailed with more design decisions. The "Snooping Email" is really excellent. They've changed the image for one which works a little better. I think things will progress another step soon. They've sent me a sample T-shirt to see what I think.

[16:10] Been working on web pages all day. The technician's been doing sterling work and a whole huge section has been validated and made live. I've been doing the new design and linking in some altered old-style pages.

I also slapped in some cable at home last night, after waiting for the gloss paint on the new door we've had put in. I need to get a set of cat-5 cable testers so I can find out if my crimping kit and RJ-45 connectors actually work with solid-core cable.

[17:15] I've found a reason for getting in to work late now. Starship Troopers (the animated series) is now on Sky One in the mornings.

[15:10] Went home early last night. 16:30 if you can believe it. Frankly I was so pissed off with the day that I thought that it was best to leave there and then than hang around and end up staying there all evening for no good reason. I couldn't face going home to an empty house so I wandered round to a friend's and we spent a few hours building and deomlishing PCs to make working systems. It's amazing just how therapeutic that can be. We eneded up getting a take-out curry and watching Andromeda and The Professionals. That Lexa Doig is a real babe.

This morning I crushed the last Windows 95 install under a fresh Windows NT and banished the 9x stream to the laptops only. This means I have much more control over all the machines on in the place now. On a slightly less happy note I wandered over to a seminar on roling out Windows 2000 and came away badly shaken. I aim to be out of Windows support if at all possible, and into linux/Unix within 12 months. By that time Windows NT is going to be considered retro and it'll be forced on anywhere that doesn't have it.

For the moment I'm just playing with it and hoping to get a handle on it. Also today is the start of the 'big web site makeover', I design a homepage and a template today, if possible.

[10:17] Weekend was fun. I cycled over to see the person who's selling me the cable-modem. He wasn't far away, I thought I'd be out of there in ten to twenty minutes; just long enough to verify the thing was in one piece and working. After I'd had a look at it and verified that he was a geek of the first order we sat down and had lunch (he and his wife were Italian and had some Italian friends over). We had some kind of bread/scone things with parma ham, then some tiramisu and then a nice lemon liqueur before some strong coffee in small cups. Turns out he's a network security bod for Lucent and he's about to go back to work for a bank in Italy. Used to work for UUnet before Lucent. Nice guy, lovely wife.

Shame the NTL cable-modem network was behaving really badly. There are a lot of complaints on the support groups. Looks like NTL to transparent caching through someone else's cache somewhere along the line. Unless you know what you're doing web access is almost worse than a 9k6 modem. On a lighter note, he opened a complaint ticket back when he got the modem and they said they'd leave it open until "he thought he was getting the level of service he was paying for" then they'd refund the balance. When he closes his account he should be due all his money back. I wait to see if this comes to pass. Good if it does though.

Oh yes, "whois". Don't know how long it will last. Whois and, too.

[15:20] Busy again all day today. Only this time I'm adding ID3 information to all my mp3s in preparation for burning to CD. I got a Diamond Rio 500 yesterday (USB transfers really are quick) and without a cable modem, getting my mp3s to a machine that does USB would take a) forever or b) as near as damnit to forever.

This also gives me the chance to trawl through what I have and discard some of the dross I never listen to. If I can get it below 4Gb it's be helpful. Other than that the head of Unix Support had a stealth birthday yesterday, so we headed for the pub and stayed there for a while. After some food and drink we headed back to a friend's house where we watched Amazon Women on the Moon. What a quality film that is. A real hidden diamond. If you come across it I recommend you give it a go.

[18:30] Windows 2000 Professional is... odd. It's far too shiny. And it sucks unless you have a server in the mix. There seems to be some kind of 'Some bits of NT meet the shine and glitz of Windows 98' thing going on. I don't like it. Then again, I don't like NT either, but at least I know where everything is. This is going to take a while to grok by any measure. I fear releasing it on the lusers, except they wouldn't use more than a tiny fraction of its 'functionality'. Urrrrh, it really is far to full of bells and whistles. And unless there's something rotten in the state of Denmark it's fucking up my network too. I'm burning a CD tonight (if I get time) and I'm moving the files across the network 640Mb at a time. Only I'm only going to have time to do one as it's taking an age to move. I may power off the machine. See if that helps.

[13:45] Well, I spent the morning on the phone to NTL getting things changed for my 27 October job. Rather than doing a telephone extension with the cable TV thingy, I'll be getting the TV done and then adding a line for a cable modem.

Yup, the prices have dropped and someone is willing to sell me a cable modem for £ off the original price. It's less than three months old too. Warranty is five years so I think I'm covered. I get the modem from the guy on 15 November so it'll only be two weeks between getting the cable in and getting hooked up. I may move a camera home. How JenniCAM is that. Perhaps not.

Finished another huge chunk of HTML last night (you american viewers may have seen me here late last night). Passed that on to the technician. She'll do the splitting up into pages and fixing the links. The meeting we have day before yesterday wants things done soon too. They'll have to wait.

I have one of my few official, planned meetings this afternoon between 14:15 and whenever I can get it finished. The new AO may be able to keep it short. I want to get back to this damned box which refused to recognise the floppy drive no matter what I changed. Eventually I noticed that the connector on the mother board has a pin missing/broken off. This means the technician is going to have another level of difficulty in getting linux installed on it. Should be good for her.

[14:20] Selling another PC today, to one of the secretaries. She's completely IT-illiterate so someone else is going to have to install an OS and MS Office for her. We don't provide Office and only providing Windows 95 because we have loads of licenses we don't use any more. I guess I should dig out a license key for her.

I've been juggling RAM between machines to make sure we have some saleable items for the punters. Fortunately, although I had thought we were out of monitors for these machines, we have in fact a surplus of three. Which is nice.

After far too long I've started a 'book of stuff'. Something I should have done years ago it contains the answers to all the problems I come across and solve. With luck this should mean that the next time I fix something odd, I'll stick it in the book and have it for next time. Already today I've solved the dumbwittedness of Windows 95/98 networking and browse masters. I won't bore you with the details in case you already know. Suffice to say I now know how to get it working now.

This morning we had another 'big meeting' about the web site and the stuff we've revamped already. They haven't asked for a small orbital planetoid on a stick, but there's more to do now. Suppose I should get back to it.

[11:30] Short entries for the last few days due to loads going on. Today the PFY is doing more of the HTML stuff and I'm trying to do less. We also have a 'Web working party' meeting to go to at 16:00. What's the betting we get conflicting instructions from them and the people who want these brochures on line tomorrow.

Last night I was trying to get two network cards into my old 486 linux box. Damned if I couldn't get two ISA cards to be recognised. I checked the IRQs and everything. In the end I tried with an old (but newer) Dell and its onboard ISA and a PCI one. The PCI was found but it didn't give me the option to select one or the other to be eth0 and eth1. In the end I stuck two PCI cards in it (the 486 is VLB and ISA only) and slapped a RedHat 6.2 install on it. Recompile failed for some reason though, I think I was careless somewhere.

I'm doing this so that I can (if the need arises) set up NAT on a house network with a cable modem. The problem is that if we go with a cable modem we'll have to switch from the old selection of cable television channels we have (lots, for little money) to the new packages (less for more). I'll talk to the guy who's doing the cable stuff for me on 27/10/2000, see what he says. Like I said, cost goes down, desire goes up.

[13:15] Hmm, friend of mine at Lucent, London (Embankment offices) has just told me that their server room got broken into last night. Seventeen quad-processor E450s had their RAM and CPUs stolen. That's a few gig of RAM and sixty-eight processors on the market now. They didn't touch the HP boxes.

[19:40] Blow me if I haven't managed to get a cable-modem ready routing box configured pretty much all by myself. Sure, it doesn't do port forwarding to get in from outside (I don't want that until I know a little more about things) but for the moment I have something rather good. Plus I did most of it myself. All of it is stuff I've not touched before except kernel compilation. May sound pretty easy to you lot out there, but for someone whose mind it drained away by NT day in, day out I feel rather pleased.

[13:20] We tried to go to the London Eye on Sunday, only all the spare tickets had gone by 11:00, which was annoying. So the lot of us who'd turned up went to the Science Museum and spent most of the day looking at stuff. Shame most of the good exhibits in the technical areas were broken. We've had the girlfriend's youngest brother her this weekend. He's one of those children who goes to bed at any time he can get away with and is then up by 06:00 unless you stop him with tranquilisers. Not much sleep.

Oh, yes, they've dropped the prices of cable modems to £25 a month from £40, which is good. We'll be looking into that soon, I think.

[10:20] O.K. Yesterday was lots and lots of HTML stuff. We've got, like, six big brochures which need to be marked up, split into pages and then linked in such a way as to not upset the two offices who've produced the information.

Problem is that one office has produced something with only a small armful of errors concerning the IT resources we provide (wrong email addresses, incorrect information on resources) but wants to make up the backbone of the revamped pages. While the other office's information is completely crap and has had to be fixed by the technician for all kinds really bad stuff. Their brochures are all anong the same lines but weren't written together so their common components are all messed up. We just have to hope that they won't mind us 'fixing' them into a state where they can be read without making the eyes bleed. Also, their stuff needs to be part of the main backbone. This is going to annoy the first office.

Other than that, happy Friday.

[13:00] Help, I'm trapped in an HTML editor. They've removed all the bracket-matching and turned off the lights. I think they've forgotten about me.

[17:50] And suddenly, the week is over. I've stayed late (for a Friday) to get a nasty bit done so I can start on something else on Monday. I did not want that chunk of stuff waiuting to be done when I got back. I'm going to be waking up over the weekend shouting things like "em! br! and "strong!", I just know it.

The girlfriend left work early to go and pick up youngest brother from London so he can spend the weekend with us. With luck we'll go on the London Eye tomorrow, do some swimming, maybe visit the circus. Or maybe they will and I'll be in bed.

[11:45] O.K. this sucks. Official. We've just had a forty-five minute meeting with one office concerning about four megabytes of text that wants to go on the web site. Never mind the fact that the technician has been slogging her guts out for the past week doing the exact same thing.

[17:10] More on what I've been doing today, tomorrow.

[14:10] Not done a huge amount today. The video guy didn't come round last night, so that was a waste of an evening. I'm going to ring in a while and see what's happening. Following the HP JetDirect advisory on bugtraq yesterday I've indoctrinated the technician into the fine art of TFTP and upgrading Firmware on printers. For once HP have made it fairly easy to do, which is nice.

That's about it thus far. Some internal office politics involving use of a laser printer. If it comes near me I'll have to remove someone's nipples with my Wave.

[16:50] Things I did today. Got NTL to come and do two jobs (business and residential) allegedy. Also fiddled a Windows 98 machine to accidently get dual headed video stuff working. Quite nice. Shame the things are different spec. so the colour depth and refresh are different. ANyway, have to go home now, the engineer's coming round to find ou why the SCART signal from my new video is worse that that from the RF input.

[13:00] Leiden was good. I could describe it but none of you bar one or two will know what I'm going on about. Met up with Skud though, whom some more of you will know. Skud. You know; from the Monastary. That was good. As with most people, Skud's shorter in real life than you'd expect. Good to put name to face though.

Anyway, flights were good (with KLM). Short too. We spent more time at the airports than on the flights. Fun. Saw the Sony MP3 playter portable thingy. Want.

Today I've brought in the girlfriend's PC from home to do a motherboardectomy which should result in a p233 rather than p166 and 160Mb rather than 80Mb of RAM. I've already tried this twice and it seems to work, if you're careful.

[12:30] Hmm, don't rush and forget to copy over the Win98 directory from the CD before moving things. You have to resort to boot floppy to get the CD copied across. Then you can carry on as normal.

[18:15] Well it hasn't all gone according to plan. The graphics card conflicted with the onboard one, so I've dumped that. There's a new PCI sound card in there but the biggest problem is RAM. The Dell doesn't take SDRAM, it takes EDO DIMMs. That sucks. What it means is that for the moment (until I can trash a machine for more RAM, the thing only has 32Mb. Not enough by any means. I have a few machines which have the RAM I need. I've asked the AO if I can replace them (thus freeing up the RAM I need). Things are looking good, in the meantime I'm trying to get the modem onto another box as the dialup FreeBSD box has the same RAM.

[12:00] Friday. We go to Leiden tomorrow, the girlfriend and I. For 23 hours. We're going to see some friends and delivering muffins and ginger snap biscuits to people who can't get them there except in 'speciality shops'. Other than that there have been nasty problems with ARCserve again. I unlocked the server this morning and was told that the thing was running low on virtual memory. 128Mb and not doing much and it's running low. Naturally Norton Ghost's server service was at fault. Eating memory again. I rebooted it before I thought of just stopping and starting that particular process. I thought for a while and decided to write another really stroppy post to Norton's online support thingy. They're recommending we still upgrade to version 6.5, and it won't be free. This is bad on the part of Norton as they refuse to fix the memory leaks in 6.0.

I rang the people who we bought 6.0 from and they said they'd ring me back. They haven't yet. I tried to find something to remotely stop and start services on NT boxen (because rebooting them seems like a bit of a crap thing to do), perhaps leaving the Ghost client application on the client workstations stopped the whole time unless required for a reGhosting and found that the stuff shipped with NT and the Resource Kit aren't up to it.

Luckily at this point friend Colm reminded me of the AINTX toolset. Which, quite frankly, rocks. I can't recommend this too highly for all your NT administration needs. Along with Hyena you can't fail to take some of the drudge and panic out of dealing with NT networks. Try them TODAY!</sales rant>

Yeah, other than that there's not much happening today. Last night I ordered out 'play machine' for testing and learning Windows 2000 Professional (the workstation incarnation). once we know that we'll splash out and get one of the server versions and dip into ADS and other horrors.

Dunno if you've noticed but there are mumblings of Service Pack 7 for NT4.0 coming out soon. Won't that be special.

[15:00] I don't know what policy is and your own personal feelings concerning IP configuration of new machines on a network, but where I come from a machine delivered by someone else that runs NT is not configured by the end user by dint of the local network admin calling them up and telling them to ask me for the administrator password and changing it themselves, thus meaning from then on you can't be sure if a) they've gotten it right and b) they log in as administrator all the time out of laziness. This happened to me. I rang the local admin and told him (even though it was his network) that he sets the IP details and the user damned well logs in as himself and not the administrator account. It may be his network but it's my machine.

[17:00] Someone's just come in to try his presentation on the laptops and LCD projectors only he's got a super-whizzy CD-RW and he's forgotten to close the session and so our standard CD-ROMs won't read it. In a burst of magnanimity brought on by imprending weekend-itis I've offered to burn his disc to a CD-R we have here and see if it works. How nice is that?

And late-breaking news from friend Erin (owner of
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 2000 08:41:06 -0700
From: Erin
To: [email protected]
Subject: Today, you are...

I work with stupid people.

Today you are my long lost brother. No offence.

The Dean came into my office while I was out of it.  He saw your smiling
face on two remote IE screens.

When I came back in he asked me if I knew the internet policy regarding
personal use. I said, "Yes." It seemed to be the correct answer, after all I
wrote it.

He pointed at my monitor with the ever refreshing picture of a printer and a
green fan somewhere in the .uk

Thinking quickly, not easy this early in the morning, I blurted out, "He's
my brother."

Dean, "oh. ok. I thought he looked kind of like you."

Really?  I have a good 50 pounds on you skinny boy.  :-)

Feeling stupid, he left.  It's funny he never mentioned my notebook and the
huge number of emails I get a day on it.  None of which have anything to do 
with this job.


I feel a connection, brother.

[15:30] Day of fun today. Spent the morning getting rid of another new PC to someone, trying to work out why the ARCserve database engine decided to shut itself down and refuse to log last night's backup job. Then over lunch, while the PFY was out collating stuff with one of the secretaries I tried to swap over a p200 and ap233 processor. Unfortunately the Dell with the the p200 in had a non-standard heatsink on it. Naturally this didn't fit on the GA-586ATX2 main board in the other machine. There were capacitors in the way.

So I thought for a bit and called one of the custodians. Five minutes later I was back with a junior hacksaw and an attitude. Grasping the huge Dell heatsink in one hand (avoiding getting my fingers sliced to ribbons this time, see my previous job where I tried to get a PII out of a motherboard without undogging the clips) I attacked the metal. It was probably aluminium. cut fairly easily even with a mostly blunt blade. Ten minutes later and some work with the file on my leatherman and it looked like an original design (apart from the lack of black paint). The only problem was that the other machine (not the Dell) thought the chip was a p233 too. A quick download of Intel's processor ID application and I was none the wiser, the chips were too old to test.

Did I relaly have two p233 CPUs, or was something more obvious afoot. I checked the net for GA-586ATX2 jumper settings and worked out that this is what denotes what the POST CPU speed indicator. It was also at this point that I checked the undersides of the chips and noticed that there was a serial number-type thing which ended in xxx3200 and on the other xxx3233. This seemed like the most obvious notation for showing the chips' speeds. I stuck the things back in the right boxes and tidied up, just in time for the PFY to come back in.

And that children, is why the machines will never win.

[11:20] Jesus! How the hell am I expected to shift stuff to the web pages from these godawful brochures when they're all in different styles, don't obey any typesetting rules and have no common indexing or informational structure. Not only that but some information is missing; "the deadline is ", some information is just plain wrong (especially in relation to the services we provide, even after I asked them to tell me if they wanted information on the current state of affairs. Hell, some of the contact email aadresses are also wrong. This reflects so badly on me. But it's Not My Fault. It's their's for ignoring my emails and (god help me) personal conversations I've had with people. Most of the blame lies with one woman. But she's too brittle to keep telling she's getting it wrong as she'll fly off the handle and freak if I tell her she's gotten it wrong again.

[14:30] I've assigned the major stuff for the brochures to the PFY. This doesn't mean I won't be doing anything, but it'll be good for her to do all the planning and I'll help with the donkey work. Means I can concentrate on other stuff.

[17:30] Like reinstalling one of the few machines which haven't had me touch them since I arrived. I've decided that it's time to move people to Service Pack 6a. As a result I'm digging out all the hotfixes I can find, but it's damned difficult; Microsoft don't make it the easiest job in the world. I think I've been downloading all kinds of security updates and not the hotfixes I need. Sod it.

[14:20] It's been on of those really full days so far. I hate them, they make my head spin. Not only that, but the new people in the place don't seem to undertand that a closed door means you should knock before entering. We also have a few people who sweat overmuch and have no sense of personal space. One of them has left a body odour in here that makes me want to miss lunch. Only I'm really hungry, so that's not an option.

We're delivering PCs this afternoon for an hour or so, it'll give us a little more room in here so I can order the PC we'll be trying to fiddle with stuff on. Speaking of which I installed RedHat 7.0 from CD last night. Crufty thing. Maybe I should have taken some more time over package installation but the things installed so many cruft daemons it's untrue. You'd have thought it would have recognised that I wasn't on a laptop and not installed PCMCIA stuff.

[17:45] What a damned busy day. Why can't people sodding knock on the door. It's closed for a reason! People coming in for resources or stuff like that need to understand that I don't like visitors. Anyway, we went out and drove round the place for a while delivering PCs to the outlying sections of the institution. Annoying. We should have killed a few numbnuts cyclists and pedestrians. That would have cheered me up.

Anyway, got someone coming round this evening to bottow a RedHat 7.0 CD. I may let him keep it as the whole distribution's gone to hell. I may try Debian. I've been in a mood for days now. Wonder what it is.

[18:30] New PFY story, number seven. Go read it. Dunno how good it is.

[11:20] We have to give people printer credit today. Don't ask. It's too horrific for words.

[12:40] The new stuff from MISCO arrived this morning. So now all we need is a spiffy machine for it all to go in. The second-hand machines we've been selling should go towards some of the costs. I may order it today because machines take so long to arrive. I still need to decide of I want to order any of the nice little additions you can get with machines of this type, which I'll then pay the Institution back for at some point. Eventually. I never thought I'd look forward so much to installing Windows 2000.

Hey, nice; EZ-CD Creator knows what .iso files are. Looks like I can just double-click on them and it'll burn the CDs for me. I may do a few copies.

[17:42] All burnt. No time to try them right now. What I may do sometime soon is upgrade the BOFHcam main box. This'll involve some serious downtime and I'll need to remember to copy off the apache logs, the apache config files, the extra stuff in the html directories and the fun little scripts I've cobbled together.