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December's Journal
February's Journal

[11:55] Got hold of one of the Windows 98 laptops to see if my script works on that platform as well as on Windows NT. I've also sent a copy to Central to see what they think. Could we email it to people and have them break the golden rule of "Never run something someone sends you". To be honest I'd be suprised if people just do it anyway, in complete disregard of what we recommend.

I've also had a brisk few minutes updating Apache on the official web server in the Institution. As it's Win32 it's only Apache-1.3.14, but it's always good to keep up as much as possible. Some time soon I'll update the BOFHcam to 1.3.17.

This afternoon is the last of the Perl afternoons. Not only that but I'll be starting on the exercises and getting an early evening as the thing should be finished well before 17:00.

[12:45] Spent the morning figuring out what exactly I need to do with NT's sparse command set to be able to send users one file which will download and run a Dr Solomon's SuperDAT file. It's been a long hard struggle, but I now have it. It's a little kludgy, but it does the job. I just have to make sure it works with Windows 9x as well and I can perhaps tell people about it. I'm particularly impressed with the use of non-interactive ftp and the inclusion/extraction of the commands involved in that. If anyone's interested I'll stick it somewhere and you can get a copy, laugh and send me a better version.

I'm off to lunch now. Then I'll be on the second day of the Perl course. I should have been doing Perl exercises this morning so the stuff I learnt yesterday actually sticks in my head. Two new PCs arrived today. One for a person who's going to be moving from a Macintosh to a PC, and one for a person who insisted on Office 2000 and a tower case. He didn't get a printer as a result, numbskull.

[10:30] You may have seen my rant in asr on Friday. It's gotten some good reaction which was nice. It also cleared my head a little too. Today I've got the PFY doing things with batch scripts to see if we can do some auto update thing for website maintenance. The only fly in the ointment at the moment is that she's found another job which looks interesting and has asked for 'further details'. This is not good and I need the AO to get on with sending the documents I wrote (with management ammendments) to the Board for approval so we can approach the Needs Committee with a common goal/voice.

This afternoon I'm on a Perl course, which should be nice. Must make notes.

[16:35] I've suceeded in not doing much at all today. It being Friday this isn't really a bad thing. About the most useful thing I've done today is upgrade the buildings (and incidently the BOFHcam's) Analog web statistics software to Analog-4.14. Which has the nice added function of seeing what search terms lead to people finding your page. Nothing too strange yet, apart from some references to Lindi St Clair (see the T-shirts section).

I've managed to sell my Babylon 5 video collection to a friend. I have them all mainly because I thought it was something to get excited about. Now that I've watched them enough I think it's time to make some room on the shelves... for the DVDs which should start coming out some time towards the end of this year. With luck. Either way, they will eventually. When that time comes it's going to be damned hard getting a good price for tape sales anywhere. I figure the repeats on the Sci-Fi channel should keep me amused until then.

This weekend should be cool, but may require some sleep as we've got lots on. I will also be playing some Homeworld: Cataclysm as I've gotten back into it and am getting addicted again.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons next week I'll be on a Perl course. This means that if I don't do an entry in the morning I'll do it the next morning.

[16:00] Lackadasical day today. Spent fifteen minutes freeing up the front derailleur on my bike (again). Ever since the council put down grit, or salt or whatever my chain has needed scrubbing with a nylon brush and reoiling every morning to make it run free and remove the corrisive blooms. Must have done it about six times in the last two weeks.

I've been trying to sell my Babylon 5 video collection (complete; 60 videos inclusive of feature films and pilot) because a) I need the room and b) within the next six months at least season one might come out on DVD, and I can always watch them on the Sci-Fi channel.

In work I fiddled with some stuff and hoped one or two of the new machines would arrive so I could set them up. Did I mention I ordered a server yesterday? Well I did. It's the Win2K server testbed thingy. Other than that I waited for the time to leave for the dentist. Went to there via a sales day at central. Nothing terribly interesting apart from a nice 40" Sanyo LCD which would have looked great on my wall at home. They only cost £4000. I could almost buy one.

Cycled to the dentist, had my appointment. For an NHS dentist the presence of a 17" LCD screen playing Jurassic Park: The Lost Worlds on DVD was something of a chock, but it was a novel enough experience that it took my mind off the ultrasonic cleaning of my teeth which were luckily "in perfect nick".

Went back to the demonstration hall to have lunch with some other sysdmins while we watched Deep Blue Sea on the Sanyo. It was something to do. Once I was back in the office I started looking for a URL I think I might have mentioned a few months back on here (although I can't find it). It was one on huge three-piece monitors for desktops, server racks or military use. They looked very cool. If anyone can suggest what it was I was looking at, please send in your answers...

[17:55] I just did a few tests at Brainbench and have been very discouraged by the results. I got moderate to crap results on the Linux tests and failed the NT Administration ones. That made me feel really good. Oh yes.

[15:25] Was here late last night. Partially my own fault as I installed the Delta Force: Land Warrior and was playing the demo version. Through the miracle of modern networking, and linux, I had a copy downloaded to the gateway by the time I got home. Anyway, here I was at work when the phone rings. It's 18:15, I know I shouldn't answer it, especially when it rings singly (internal call). In the end I spend forty-five minutes trying to get a DeskJet 670C to work correctly with an old and decrepid Dell Optiplex. Ending up with no real job I headed home.

This morning I dragged myself out of bed and into work to swap out the printer and the printer cable. Still no joy. We've left it for the moment and recommended that eventually we get a new PC with an actual ECP port. Other than that I've ordered the PC we're going to be installing Windows 2000 Advanced Server on for testing purposes (and then hopefully something more sensible once that's been done to death).

The guy came to collect his laptop, I just know it's going to come back with lots of entries in the scandisk.log but hopefully nothing too wrong. Still no sign of the other PCs we ordered, or the software. Gives me a chance to tidy the place and try and find somewhere to put the 17" monitor I have before we get more innundated with boxes.

[14:55] Went to the CAB this morning. They told me that I should persue the problem of my amplifier with Sevenoaks Leeds (where I bought the thing). If they didn't give me a refund, fix it completely or replace the unit, under the Sales of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) then I should take them to the Small Claims Court.

The were very helpful in any case. I went to Sevenoaks here and asked if they'd heard anything from Sony yet (we had put in a letter to ask for a response and resolution within seven days). Nothing as yet. I mentioned the problems and the solution that the CAB had mooted. They said they'd ring Sevenoaks Leeds for me. At least in the first instance. I went to work.

Actually I went to a short Windows 2000 ADS seminar (which wasn't very useful), then I went to work. After looking at the friendly probing results for the new photocopier printe server I took and early BOF lunch and came back to close as many of the holes as possible. I've closed most of them now, but there are some problematic ones still in existance.

The new swipe carded door was installed yesterday. No-one's been caught out yet, but the PFY's doing some signs for it of the form "If you are on the wrong side when it locks, you better have an autheinticated swipe card, bub." With luck we should still get some unlucky punters.

I'm currently setting up a laptop for someone to take to California tomorrow, he wants to use it on a plane. Wonder if I should put the PCMCIA card in that X-Rays like a limp of plastique?

[13:25] Well, great. The Chubb "Senior Security Surveyor" came to see me on Friday did I mention that? I told him about the people who came the day before. Which he didn't know about. We talked about the fact that the connection on the back of the PC was shoddy, that the software (running under DOS) was a bit odd, and what other stuff we wanted fitted. The guy said he would make sure the people coming to do the install would come and find me and the custodian before doing anything. They didn't. They managed to put things on the right side of the door (swipe reader/push-button and break-glass) but while one was in a better place than I'd wanted the other was in a worse place. They also told me (at odds with what the SSS had said) that to 'upgrade' to the Windows software we'd need to replace all the hardware that controls the door electronics. Which is damned annoying. What he actually said was that if we wanted to go to the Windows stuff, we'd need the really expensive software as it 'deals with' the hardware we have. The 'Light' version we want (it's only a simple system we have here) doesn't work with the kit we have, apparently.

I've left a message with the SSS to get back to me, soonest.

I'm also looking at Netscape 6 for the first time. No comments as yet. Except that a network installer sucks.

[16:00] Netscape 6 offically sucks. Massively. I will say no more on the subject. I'm am instead going to attempt to go to the local Citizen's Advice Bureau to see if I can get some help with getting a working amplifier from Sony. Don't know if anything will come of it today, but at least I get out of work early.

[16:30] Friday. Not too busy. The girlfriend was on a "Basic HTML" course which served as a reminder, rather than an education. We're going to the gym in about twenty minutes. This morning I worked on the documents which will hopefully get the PFY upgraded a little more.

Upgraded a laptop for a user this afternoon while snow began to fall from the sky, which was nice. Nothing much else to report. NTK is good this week and I'm only half way through. And it's Friday too. Isn't that cool? I need more suggestions for competitions to win T-shirts, or I won't bother. Can't be that hard can it?

[18:15] It was a quiet day which got busy. This morning I did some stuff, including some ugly management stuff involved with getting my PFY upgraded to something more befitting her actual role (rather than what her job description says). That took most of the morning.

Lunch was a BOF to which the girlfriend turned up (now working for the Institution and all). That went on until 14:15. Back at the coalface I moved a PC down one floor and lost the network completely until I realised that one of the pins in the RJ-45 socket was missing. A few minutes work with a thin piece of copper wire (stripped solid-core cat-5e cable) and we were back in business. As I was finishing up with the PC, some guys from Chubb arrived to see if they could turn up on Saturday to do the job they were contracted for. Now I really try not to come in on the weekends, and this weekend is no exception. I said no. Politely.

Back to it I started to replace the piece of shit application suite QVT_NET with something I actually understand. That is to say TeraTerm Pro with SSH extensions. Logging in to some of the machines I haven't seen for some time I noticed the old versions of Netscape and had a quick round of installs of that too. This then lead to the descovery that HP JetAdmin v3.4 had dropped its uninstall information into HKEY_CURRENT_USER (Administrator) rather than HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE (the NT server), along with some other leftover crud it was making the registry a real mess. I finished installing TeraTerm and wandered back upstairs to find that my keyboard had developed some kind of fungoidal infection, to whit postit notes all over the damned thing. I did a quick removal routine (swept into bin) and tried to catch up on my email.

Someone had sent me over quota on the mail server (I don't run it). Turned out to be the Chief Head Boss Manager person. He sends me the emails with attached files which he can't extract. This one was a WordPerfect file. I sent him back a Word 97 file and removed the daft "Draft" background on it, which wastes ink when printed on a DeskJet printer.

Now I've dealt with as much email as I can for the moment, have to organise the stuff I need to say at the next IT Committee meeting and figure out how to edit the massive document I've written to convince the board to promote the PFY (or her post, anyway).

I think that's about it. Naturally I've missed all the conversations on the MUD I use, and the one IRC channel I frequent filled with misbegotten sysadmins and other disillusioned IT "professionals".

[15:00] Spent the morning working out how exactly Eudora 5.0.2 works in connection with Windows 2000. We've decided (for the moment) that this summer we'll move everyone to Office 2000 and Eudora 5.0.2 while under NT 4 Workstation and then move to Windows 2000 Professional in summer 2002. This means that moving everyone from Office 97, Eudora 3.0.3 and NT 4 together won't happen, and the poor dears won't panic and innundate me and the PFY with complaints. It also means that I don't have to think about Windows 2000 and ADS as much for the moment.

Other stuff? Erm, bought a PC to replace another one of the Macs still left in the building. Always a good thing to do. Especially as it's another one left over from when I wasn't around.

[16:00] Hmm, the above was supposed to go in the Journal at 15:00, and didn't as I got caought up installing RedHat 5.2 and multihoming it for something to do. I have to go and move a PC from one room to another now, as a way to balance the scales from doing something fun efficiently and well.

[15:00] My friend's been offered the job with the company he went for a second interview with today. Which is nice. He and I and a few others had lunch in town today to celebrate. They want him to start on 29 January. Naturally he has to get a bank account before he can get paid and try and find a house/flat so that the bank has somewhere to send his bills and register his details with, etc.

Minolta have sent me the software to reinitialise the Fiery printserver attached to the photocopier. Haven't opened it yet so I don't know if it's the right thing.

[15:05] And it is, and the instructions are really clean (for once). Well, my job is set for the afternoon.

[15:35] Now 'printing' a 52Mb file to the Fiery via the parallel port. I'm reliably informed by People Who Know that Fierys run some kind of neutered AIX thingamabob. I recall that it has network ports open all over the place. I think this is going to take about another twenty minutes and then I have to practically toggle in all the settings in again on the front panel. I remembered that I had actually printed out all the settings as something to do before I formatted the disk. This is a good thing and was recommended as something to do before installing the OS again.

[12:30] Hmm. I'll mention the weekend second. First of all I have to mention that I got my amplifier back from Sevenoaks on Saturday but didn't get to plug it in until Sunday evening. The hum was still there. Just as loud. I was annoyed of course. This morning I took the thing back and Sevenoaks were happy to plug it in and verify that yes, even though it was quieter in the shop it was still there. Turning off the LCD panel (again) stopped the hum. I called Sony, who gave me another number to ring. They traced the job number and said that twice now they hadn't found a fault. They'd be happy to replace it, the guy said, only there's nothing wrong with it. Sure, we'll pick it up again tomorrow. Anyway, at this point the ownder of the Sevenoaks weas in the shop and told me to contact the Citizen's Advice Bureau. He's told my favourite guy in the shop to type a letter which mentions that I'm calling the CAB and Which? and expect something done within the next seven days. Hope this helps.

Anyway, I'm now without an amplifier again.

The weekend was good, Ingvar (the grey) came over from .se and our friend Tom from Belgium was over for an interview in town. An American friend also came along and we had a get-together. Plenty of food, lauging at Billy Connolly on the DVD player and some shopping. Tom's just come out of his interview as I write this and is meeting the girlfriend in town for a debreifing. He's here until Wednesday, sightseeing.

The Tuesday lunchtime thing has decreed that today is also 'Tuesday' so it's a BOF from 12:45 until later.

[13:10] Just come back from the NT Working Party meeting (incorporating Windows 2000 naturally). Plenty of discussions on papers we can all write to make the move to and operation of Windows 2000 stuff. Meeting of minds and all that. Plenty of scope for casual chat, discussion of blocking of port 23 throughout and how to make Windows 2000 'behave'. I've been issued with the task of writing a paper on adding NAI SuperDATs to Management Console repositories and rolling them out. Seems no-one manages to do this as well as I do. Guess I have Joe to thank for that. That's my job for the afternoon anyway. Nice plain HTML with a few screen shots.

I got a nice vi reference sheet printed out and laminated yesterday, also did a pocket version of some of the more useful but arcane commands so I'm never without. I also really need to do the Needs document for getting my technician made into something a little more in keeping with what she does here. And paid more so she doesn't leave. One friend arrives tomorrow, the other on Sunday. It should be a good weekend.

[16:00] Network still crap. Had to install sound for one of the home users' NT boxes. It's certainly much easier than I remember. That done I settled down to break Windows 2000's stranglehold over dlls and executables. Once I'd done that I managed to get really really annoyed at the network until I considered going home. But I didn't.

The rest of the day has been spent doing not that much at all. Two of my friends from across the water (notable Belgium and the Benelux area) are coming over this weekend and staying. They've both applied for jobs in the Institution and hopefully will be getting interviews in the near future. One of them has another interview in the city on Monday anyway, so he's coming over for that. As a result some of our mutual friends are travelling the country to meet him and I expect we'll all meet up in a pub at some point on Friday evening.

I should do some more O'Really designs tonight while the girlfriend is out doing other things.

[1:20] Network connection to email is down, which is bad. I've been forced to leave a message with the Minolta guy on his mobile asking him to ring me back. I can't imagine the process of recreating a print server to be too hard given a connection and some commands from a ready-made laptop to a creation program.

Until then I guess I sit back, fiddle with Windows 2000 some more and work out what to do for the rest of the day.

[16:15] The world just keeps on throwing crap if you're willing to swallow it. There I was trying to figure out how to delete Outlook Express and NetMeeting from Windows 200 Professional and running up against the handy automatic system protection feature. Delete that stuff and watch it reappear again, yeah! The fun never ends. I have a cunning plan though.

We disappeared briefly to empty one of the basement rooms of old computer crap. Original PS/2 computers, some buckling spring IBM keyboards (mine!) and some old Toshiba laptops, if you're a sumo wrestler. On the way back upstairs I was accosted by one of the users who we're in the process of finding out if his class of user isn't even authorised to use the facilities I maintain or not. He asked why Flash 5 wasn't installed on the PCs. I told him in vague terms about images and ghosting. He earnestly told me about a new site he and his friend have launched which has been done in Flash 5 "because it's easier to make changes". He then insisted that he come back to my office and show me why it didn't work, and then how it should.

Back in the office he showed me what was so necessary. It wasn't. I asked him about W3C conformation. I asked him about special needs access. I asked him about text-only browsers. I asked him people with machine which won't handle Flash. I asked him about browsers which don't support Flash. I asked him about people on slow connections. Needless to say the answers I got weren't what I wanted.

I was this close to slapping him about, killing his parents and eating his dog (metaphorically, of course). Anything else would have been overkill.

[12:35] One suggestion so far. You people make me sick. No, not really. I was running round the building looking for a meeting I didn't actually want to be at and all I could find were empty rooms with plates full of biscuits. So I ate them. I finally found the meeting and was told I didn't need to be there. So I wandered back to the office via the biscuit rooms. Now I'm going to lunch with some fellow sysadmins.

[16:55] Lunch was good. Long, relaxed and full of people Recovering. Brought the Unix Support back and sold him a second-hand PC for some money. He claimed he'd never have a computer at home, but now he's started on the long slippery slope. He will succumb and eventually have a cable modem and a home LAN.

[17:00] Oh shit. I've just made a Mistake. In an effort to clear the print log on the photocopier I selected the 'format disk' option on the print server thing. Now I look at it, this may have been the wrong option as I think it wipes the HDD completely rather than just the printer queue section. Time to email the Minolta representative I think.

[11:55] The power up on Saturday went O.K. When the power went off on Friday I found out that the doors don't stay locked on battery after all. They open. It was a good thiong I hung around to make sure things went O.K. I locked the ground floor door and went home. It was only when I got home that I realised that the first floor door was still open.

I emailed the AO and then phoned security who went round to lock the place up by hand. Apparently the power was back on by 18:45 anyway. Sooooo, I came in on Saturday and powered on the building. Everything seemed to go swimmingly, except for the PCs in the library which appeared to have been powered off without being shut down (off at the wall, numbskulls). This was verified this morning when I accosted the assistant librarian in the car park. Anyway, they survived, and so did the PCs.

The second bofhcam camera appears to lock up the machine whenever I start the capture pprogram going. I'll be looking into that this lunchtime or this afternoon. Sorry about that. Those of you who emailed me saying they couldn't get to the site should learn to read the Journal daily. You have been warned.

In other news you may have noticed my attire today. Yes, my Copyleft T-shirts arrived, finally. Only two months to get here. Parcel Force suck. Anyway, this is where I need your help. I've got a few of these T-shirts and some of them are XL. This is far too big for me. I propose a competition for which the prize will be a set of the first three T-shirts in XL size. As a kind of meta-competition I need some ideas for what to use as a competition. I'll think up something to give as a prize for coming up with a competition if I can think of something. So, away you go.

Hmmm, what else? Booked myself on a Perl course today, that's at the end of January in the afternoons. I got a meeting moved to make room for it. Which is good. Erin noticed that my access stats for 2000 versus 1999 have more than doubled. I've also created a stupid little favicon.ico to stop it appearing in my logs so much. Be thankful I didn't link it to some huge file, or /dev/random.

[13:25] Gah, finally gotten the evaluation machine to install Windows 2000 Professional. The new BIOS image I got seemed to install. And now everything looks to be O.K.

Now, today is Power Off Day. All this morning the PFY has been fiddling with Red Hat 6.2 and now we'll be doing kernel recompilations which is something she didn't cover in her course. Other than that, fiddling with Windows 2000 has cost me a lunch date. Which is crap. We get to turn off all the machines in about three hours. Which could either be very good, of very very very bad, come Saturday morning when I come back to turn them on again.

I may not do another update before Monday (or Saturday if I feel like it). Have a good weekend.

[14:00] Although I don't know why I'm upset I find I am unable to install Windows 2000 Professional on the evaluation machine no matter what I swap out or disable or enable in the BIOS. I've swapped all of the components bar the Athlon 800 and still it dies during the detection phase with a "Hardware fault found" please contact vendor". I've just been on the phone for the third time with the people who are letting me have the machine and finally gotten through to someone who thinks he has the answer. I'm getting a BIOS update but I'm to try turning off the AGP-4X setting in the BIOS to see if that works. Thing is, that shouldn't affect a PCI card, which is what I tested at one point.

And indeed, it hasn't worked. Time to use the BIOS update.

[11:55] I'm having a Bad Day. First of all I've been running all over the building replacing old phones with new ones, during the middle of that one of the secretaries comes in and demands I finx the Windows 95 installation I gave her out of the kindness of my heart when the institution sold her a very cheap PC. I had explicitly said that I would not be supporting these PCs once they'd left the building but she's come back to me because she wants to get some dialup thing working and claims it's something I should do because she doesn't have two technical braincells to rub together.

I've also got to deal with another dialup PC which is going to a secretary who has children at home. Now I've installed Windows NT on this box but I know what happens when work PCs go home to families. They get covered in shite and probably crash. I am not going out to someone's house to fix it. If it needs reinstalling once I'll place a ban on her kids using it. I certainly don't want them installing games and shit on it. This is one of the reasons I chose NT as the OS. Yes, I'm a bastard, but this is a work PC and I'm damned if I'm going to have to continually fix the thing.

I'm in a bad mood.

[13:40] I've missed going to lunch with a) the girlfriend, and b) my peers who decided that today was Tuesday too. Still, it means one less PC/printer/monitor in the room to get in the way while I'm fiddling with other stuff. Must send out the email detailing the power-off procedures for Friday afternoon.

[18:00] Send the email, did some stuff, fiddled around and installed a phone for the PFY. Now my phone does not ring and hers does. How many times do you think I will be answering the phone from now on? Exactly.

[11:20] Spent the morning tidying up the BOFHJournal archives in preparation for the stashing of 2000's journals. Also dealt with remarkably few PC problems since since returning. Three PCs didn't respont to WoL commands, one printer choking on paper and one BSoD. Not bad considering. Perhaps this was due to the fact that barely anyone could get into the building until I unlocked the maglocks on the front door.

Going to do the structure update now. Sing out if you find any broken links or images. The girlfriend starts at her new job in the Institution (different section, same purse-strings) so should be getting her login/keys to the building/induction about now.

[12:50] I think I'll take this afternoon off. Goodbye.

01/01/2001 - After the event
Doing this on the Tuesday because yesterday was, as you'd expect, rather frenetic. Over the weekend we bought in a lot of food, prepared a lot of stuff and tidied the house a few times. Come Sunday night we had a good few people over (four, two couples, cried off but we still had a resonable gathering). Lots of food was eaten, lots of drink was drunk and a good deal of amiable conversation was had. I crashed out at around 04:20 on new year's day while the girlfriend powered on through the night keeping people entertained. Around 11:00 I got up and watched people play head-to-head Red Alert 2 on the network. Hmmm, that remind me, must take IPX/SPX off the PCs at some point now that it's not needed.

People left throughout the day until we had three of four people left. In the evening we watched The Negotiator and ate Chinese. I must have put on about half a stone over Christmas. Two friends are staying over tonight and will be leaving at some point today.

Were you awake for 01:01:01 01/01/(20)01?

Erm, Happy New Year.