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[09:24 - 01/06/2001] Stayed at home all day yesterday. I was waiting for the delivery people to deliver the case/PSU for the girlfriend's new machine. Only for the fist time in all the orders I've placed with them, it turned out that the ] stuff didn't arrive until after 13:00. Given that most of the day was over with, for all intents and purposes, I stayed at home and began assembling the machine.

It all seemed to go really well until it came time to fit the heatsink. Bastard thing wouldn't go on until I'd Leatherman'd it a bit. With Arctic Silver II all over my fingers I finally got it on. I don't think I used too much compound. I guess we'll see when the thing goes pop, or not. Not having anything else to hand I installed Windows 98SE and all the associated gubbins. Basically the thing looks identical to her old Pentium 266 MMX, 64Mb only it's an Athlon AXIA "Y" 1.0Ghz with the FSB up at 133Mhz (giving 1.33Ghz), 512Mb of 133Mhz SDRAM, 40.1Gb ATA100 HDD and my old Voodoo 3 3000. It's a tad faster. Stuff I'm seeing here is worrying me a little because of the motheboard I have is an EpoX KTA3+ (with the Highpoint RAID controller) with that VIA chipset.

Anyway, by 22:00 the thing was installed and the old machine was banished to the 'server room' while we make sure we've gotten everything we want off its disk. Then it become the home 'development box'. Don't want to fiddle too much with the router.

Oh yeah, and Copyleft emailed. They're doing two more of my T-shirts. Black ones which should finish the Black Series trio. Look out for them in a week or so. I should do the companion pages here at BOFHcam. Dunno if these ones are any good, but Copyleft seem to like them.

[08:55] Notice how people walking around on Tatooine never cast two shadows, despite the fact that the planet orbited around a binary star setup? Odd that.

I've put the fan on from the start today, in an effort to keep at least my part of the room at a tolerable temperature. I should also do something constructive today.

[11:30] Having under 500Mb free on C: when you do a Service Pack 2 install from WindowsUpdate to a Windows 2000 machine isn't enough if you want to retain the 'uninstall' option. This is annoying as it means that having Microsoft Office 2000 and associated gubbins on a 2Gb partition means you can't install SP2. We'll have to go to 2.5Gb when we do all the reinstalls.

[14:30] So I'm back from lunch, which was nice. This afternoon I use a neat little utility I found on the web to automate the starting and stopping of the Dr Solomon's/McAffee VirusScan service remotely. This may help me get round the little problem I have with Ghost and initial re-application of VirusScan from the Console, and needing to log in for the first time.

[15:55] I hate printers with a passion. Specifically Epson 600/Photo series inkjets. Fucking stupid things. You have to suprise them with a yanked out power cord to get to the ink when it's not empty and they clog up all the time. We sold one of three to a user and he's been back twice now (the first time getting another one and then with that one) because they won't print. They printed fine for us. I think he's using shoddy ink.

[17:30] Now with inkjet ink all over my hands I've managed to clear a space on the floor here by posting an advert to the internal newsgroup giving away four printers, a scanner and some other miscellaneous cruft. In under thirty minutes all of it had gone bar some old keyboards and mice (not IBM buckling spring PS/2 keyboards, worthless ones). Now we can look at dates for getting the carpet tiles in.

[08:55] Weirdo site of the day (at least up until now) goes to Kickbox the Queen. Don't ask, I don't know. Yesterday was nice. I went to the gym where it was frighteningly hot, then went home and had a nice relaxing evening.

This Radiohead song is really depressing. I think it's called Pyramid Song. It's the kind of thing you'd play to insomniacs who don't respond to strong drugs.

[11:40] I'm kind of stuck as to what to do today. I've got no impetus to do anything really. I should do some more Perl and come up with some funky deletion scripts for the machines which are getting full of cruft.

[17:10] Far too hot in here, even with the windows open. I've done some work on getting access to the images from the network camera by setting up the most restrictive FTP daemon I can think of currently. With judicious use of ipchains, tcp wrappers, restrictive shells and some really nasty passwords... well, I think I can get away with an FTP daemon in the building.

I wouldn't mind doing something outside this evening, it's a smashing day. Maybe I can convince someone to throw a barbeque.

[10:40] Today is a Bank Holiday in England. This means that barely anyone is in work today. As We'd left my bike in town (somewhere safe) on Thursday evening we walked into work, picked up the bikes and went our own ways. I aim to do very little today. With any luck no-one will bother me and I can achieve this laudable goal.

[14:15] I think I'm going to go home as it's a Bank Holiday, there's no-one here and I want to find somewhere cooler.

[28/05/2001 - 10:30] Nothing really happened on Friday. We got up, we took a taxi to the train station and got a train to York. That took a fair while. By the time we got there we had to walk to the bookshop. Terry signed some books and we gave out leaflets. We left, got some food and got on a train to Leeds. back in Leeds we got to the bookshop and handed out some more leaflets, talked to some people and then went home. At home we had food, we talked to my parents, we went to bed.

[11:20] Did the network kit replacement this morning. It all went fairly well, apart from some trouble coiling the fibre cables somewhere neatly. The rack is now quieter, easier to manage (read: easier to cut people off) and doesn't get to temperatures like 45 degrees centrigrade overnight. Of course we really do have a shed-load of kit to get rid of now, none of which I need at home, so that's a bit of a waste.

For those of you who have Flash enabled you may want to wander over to Vector Park and spend a few minutes lowering your productivity index with the levers game. I should start putting in more memes and URLs I think. Just to add some colour (red) to the place. If you find something I might want to put in, send it to me at the usual address and I may even mention your name.

[11:25] Actually, here's an old one some of you might not have seen. The fine folks at Landover Baptist have a site which is sure to educate. You could look at CAP Alert too, to find out what films you want to see next.

[11:30] Did I mention that I'm not here on Friday? I'm going to some Pratchett signings to hand out leaflets for The Discworld Convention. Did I also mention that Scan sent me two ATA33/66 cables rather than the ATA100's I asked for? I probably forgot to also mention that I ordered a 68pin 4-head SCSI cable when a) I needed a 50pin actually and, b) I didn't actually need one anyway. I've put up an advert locally in case someone wants it. Not that it's arrived yet, it's due "before 17:30". With luck, I and the PFY will be going to a nice sleep-inducing Windows Security Seminar this afternoon, unless something goes wrong between now and 13:30.

Did I mention that the other place has gone to hell in a handbasket since Monday? This morning the person I left there was asked to hand over the Administrator password. I know she's been looking for other employment. This seems to be a day of annoying things. Scan's Today Only lists just the setup I just bought over a period of days plus the sodding case I've been wanting but they never put on Today Only. I could have waited until today and gotten almost everything! Gah. I bet they don't put the case on Today Only on its own, or do it while I'm away.

[12:45] Thanks to Bram for the typo correction. I'm off to lunch soon, and the the Windows talk. I have to come back to pick up my delivered kit so I may post some thoughts on it, like I did for the Unix one last week.

[18:15] I can't be bothered to tell you about the talk. What I would like is a nice cheap source of SCSI-II hard disks in the UK. Phone or web ordering is acceptible. I'm peeved because I didn't read the small print on the order I placed with Scan and got an SCA disk. Luckily the Institution requires a new SCA SCSI disk, so it's buying it from me. Which is helpful. On another note, does anyone want a 68pin internal 4-head SCSI cable, for ten of your Earth pounds?

Pure quality, these are the Chronicles of George. Read, nod and feel his pain.

[10:45] PowerChute Plus 5.1 sucks. This is from APC(C). While version 5.2.1 doesn't seem to be suffering from this precise problem, version 5.1 does. That is to say, it seems to be advertising itself on ports 6667 and 6668. You recognise those don't you.

[11:15] So I've downloaded the new version. The girlfriend's waiting at home for another delivery from Scan with parts for her new PC. I just noticed that there was no conducting paste included with the heatsink (which is huge) or the CPU (which is tiny on the mounting/pin-platform). As of thirty seconds ago the delivery arrived and she's checking the contents. There's no sign of our new laptop from the insurance people yet, and I've been trying to contact someone from Chubb to talk about our door control system, but he's now on holiday until the end of the first week of June.

[11:20] You know how users never, ever listen? Well it's true. The place I was doing some paid work for had been told time and again not to install the outside accounting package without talking to me, or the person who's minding their shop. I rang up once I'd been told and was very polite and even casual and jovial and was met with hostility as I explained that you need to tell your sysadmin when you install software, even under NT. In the end it turned out to be pretty much O.K. as the drone who'd come to install the software claimed that there were no registry hooks, no shared .dll files and nothing needed to be installed on client machines. With reservations I let it go. It was at this point that they asked me if I could set up the laptop they have so they can copy the accounts package plus associated gubbins from the server to the laptop and back every time they go on the road. All 116 and growing megabytes of it. And then copy it back again when they get back.

[12:35] The problem is that the laptop is Windows 98 and I didn't install it, so it's not set up to contact the NT domain. The drone there wants to fiddle with the server (I imagine) to get things working. I Think Not. Tensions are high there anyway, and I'm having nothing to do with it.

And a buggering Microsoft Word RTF macro vulnerability has just come out. This means I have to redo all the disk images containing Office again. Great.

[12:30] Came in late this morning because I was waiting for the delivery of the first part of the girlfriend's new PC. It arrived at about 11:00, at which point I read through the motheboard manual, realised I had no conductive paste and then hung the washing out.

At work I found the details of who the insurers are and who they authorised to give us the dodgy laptop. A polite and cheerful call to them and they're sending someone to come and pick it up this afternoon. He sounded rather grim by the end of the conversation and intoted the words "I'll be having a few words with the buying department" at the end. I wish I had a microphone there.

[14:45] Lunch in the sun by a river is good. Someone from AMTRAK came to pick up our incorrect laptop. I think the company feel they've been rumbled and are taking great pains to make sure they do everything they can to get us a new laptop as soon as possible so we don't start raising heck.

[16:10] Had a meeting this morning so I went straight there from home in time for the start at 10:30. It was a long meeting. We finished around 12:50. Still it was fun and we discussed a lot of stuff. I saddled myself with documenting the installation of Apache under Win32, which isn't so bad as it's not too difficult and I'll be selling this to people who're fed up with IIS.

Scan tried to deliver my kit about the time I was going into the meeting, so when got into work at 14:00 I phoned them (the girlfriend got home about 12:00 and found the note) to arrange for delivery on Monday morning. All I need to do now is order the other stuff.

Showed the PFY how to update the firmware on the new 3Com kit as well. Last night I figured out that you need a null modem cable to connect to the serial port on the back and configured the stack and the fibre switch. I also downloaded a TFTP server to update the firmware on the other switches in the building, leaving one for her to do.

[17:40] Oh Monday is going to be so much fun. The replacement laptop from the insurers is not a new unit. It's a returned/reconditioned/auctioned unit (Dell don't even make this model any more) that was originally shipped on 12/01/2001. I am so going to have someone's balls in a sling on Monday it's just not funny.

Watch this space...

[13:55] This morning I have been mostly despairing at Perl under Win32. I know there's more than one way to do it, but just finding the one way which NT is happy to deal with is hard enough. Still, now I have a fairly well written script which will move en masse lots of user's directories from one place to another (command line specified), keep their directory permissions intact, share them and then set the associated user's home directory to be that share. Which is nice.

I never got around to it until now because I wasn't sure how many shares NT liked to have at any one time. As far as I can tell it's somewhere in the region of 100,000, but there's no reference I can pin it down on, yet.

I was playing with the switches this morning and was trying to put in the SC fibre cables into the front of it and was distressed to see that the cable didn't fit in there as the guide thingies, the slots, were offset. This was a bit distressing and I was ready to fly off the handle until I realised that the sockets were for two types of fibre and if I *turned the plugs over* they fits perfectly well.

[12:30] Switches have arrived. I didin't get into work until 11:30 this morning as I was waiting for Parcel Force to deliver my DVDs. They did so and there was a small LEGO Technic motorcycle in there as well. So I took a few minutes to build it before I came into work. There's a security seminar this afternoon, so I'll be out for that. I may come back with the fibre module from the other place though.

[18:20] Just bought the girlfriend the beginnings of her new machine from Scan on their Today Only site. An AXIA "Y" series 1Ghz Athlon, RAID KT133A motherboard, Coolermaster heatsink and fan and 512Mb of PC-133 SDRAM. I have a few of the other required bits at home (including my old Voodoo 3 3000 and a NIC) so we're msot of the way there. I'll keep watching the site as it almost always has enough at cheap prices to build a decent system for a good price.

The security talk was fun (being run by the place's resident BOFH), and also nice and reassuring as I knew and thought as commonsense almost all of the stuff he mentioned. I even knew more than some of the purely Unix sysadmins in the room, which was nice to know for a guy whose primary support platform isn't linux.

[09:20] We powercycled two of the main servers this morning to add 18Bg disks to each of them in preparation for data migration in a few days/weeks. Suprisingly there were no errors (and still haven't been yet). The noise is different in here now (remember I share the room with some of the servers). I have to wonder what I did right. Maybe they know I went on a Microsoft course last week.

We saw Antitrust last night. I can't say it was a good film but I had an enjoyable time nonetheless. Not at all moulded on Microsoft, oh no. One of the main bits I couldn't tie in with Microsoft was the fact that the CEO was forceful, dynamic and charismatic. Bill Gates is not. From what I can see.

[17:25] Nothing much else today apart from playing off two suppliers against each other to get the cheapest networking kit from one of them. With that stuff, and the fibre module from the other place and the last of the main hubs will have been replaced with 100Mb switches throughout. Then I can replace the old fibre core switch with the spiffy new thing we have and things will play a little more smoothly internally.

[17:40] Gah. Muppet comes in for an account which he already has. Wastes my time and comes over as a complete numbskull.

[11:15] First day back and lots to read. First order of business was the BBS I frequent, followed by saying hi to people on the sysadmin IRC channel I frequent. I've not even looked at the accumulated download of news yet. There's close on about 8,000 messages in there. I've dumped some MP3s somewhere for someone to get to. These include such greats as the excellent mix of AYBABTU by The Laziest Men on Mars and Song for the Dumped by The Ben Folds Five.

My backpack from Dell this morning. Not last week, but about 09:30 today. I would have been so pissed off had I been here last week. Also one of the machines in the public-access area had crapped its pants all over the boot files (including the Last Known Good information). The repair disk took issue with the fact that I'd installed any Service Pack over 1 on it so I slapped in a Ghost boot disk and redid the thing. We really need to replace the 10/100 hubs with switches before we kill something important during a Ghost session. The traffic over multicast really hammers them (and consequently everything else). Must buy that excess 100Mb fibre module from the other place which I bought in error. Hope they're not too pissed off when I tell them they don't need it. It's not too expensive.

Everything here seems to be in fairly good shape, considering. I really hope the PFY gets her upgrade come Autumn, she deserves it.

[12:45] By the way, Wargames on DVD is just as good as it was the first time you saw it. This was the first time for the girlfriend (last night) and I think she loved it. Now she knows the origin of phrases suck as "war dialing" and "would you like to play a game of chess?". The Dolby Digital mixing was... O.K., and the picture quality was good given the age of the original print. I bought Good Will Hunting too, as it was two DVDs for £20.

[16:20-] I've just had to bite the bullet and email the accountant at the place I did the xtra work to ask if this place can buy the fibre module I bought in error on their account from them for us here. This obviously requires me to explain what the're doing with one of these modules in the first place. Apologies cost nothing, especially when you barely mean them and they should be damned lucky I deigned to work for a poxy amount of money to set them up in the first place.

[11:45] Final day of the course and it looks and sounds like the trainer is getting as tired and pissed off as the rest of us. This morning we've been doing security policies and will be going on to IPsec later on.

The group of us from the one location/institution went out again for dinner last night. As it was the final night we were going to be in Edinburgh we went for some dead cow pieces at a place called the Buffalo Grill on Chapel Street. Good stuff, the place did something called a "Boston Cut" which was center-cut prime rump steak. Nice.

One of the party is a little partial to extra-rare beef, as in "mooing, or even more lively". I have to say, the meat was so good you could have eaten it cold (or at least body-warm) right off the animal. This wouldn't have been do-able though, really, there wasn't that much room at the table.

I've pointed out my PFY stories and this Journal to some of the people on the course as they deserve to know what I'm writing about them, day after day. Naturally I don't think any of them will want to appear on the bofhcam directly, but there you go.

[11:55] Oh yes, we were due to go up Arthur's Seat this morning at around 06:30 to get the sun on the other side of the city (good photo opportunity) but the Haar which came down yesterday evening from the sea as we were heading up to the Observatory was still in full effect this morning, so I stayed in bed.

[12:15] Oooh, just noticed that the new Black Ops O'Really is up on Copyleft. Wander over to the Co-LARTers section, or go direct to Copyleft's site and have a look.

[14:20] Today has been Terminal Services and RAS setup. Fairly cool, plenty of problems if you happen to not get your Replication right. As it is I've been spending the morning fire-fighting crap at work via email (web site requests and some petty stuff for resources). The fun came at about 12:40 when power went out to a huge part of the city. Naturally this included the place I was supposed to be doing administration for this week but had forgotten I was on a course and didn't tell them.

First of all the told me they'd moved a machine without telling me and then tried to call me when they plugged it into a network port I hadn't made live. When the power went out naturally the server was fine as I put it on a UPS the day it arrived. This is kind of essential as the place uses the server for everything from documents to email storage. I don't think the client machines were harmed over much as it was around lunchtime and they're NT and sometimes unexpected reboots don't faze it (overmuch).

Last night we went out for a chinese meal and some whisky which went down well after a really hard day's worth of learning about Group Policies.

That's it for the moment. There may be more later when I finish 'learning' about Connection Sharing. Or there may not be.

[09:15] I swear those breakfasts are getting larger every day. The first day it was one sausage, and two rashers of bacon. The next it was three rashers and a sausage. This morning it was three rashers and two sausages. Add on Rice Krispies and scrambled egg (with the cooked portion) and I'm beginning to bloat just slightly.

Because I know at least one of the group is a surly bastard who doesn't subscribe to the BOFH school of thought but only to the basically nasty all over school, I took the precaution of upgrading my copy of Win2K Server with the most recent security patches. We're running IIS5 for some reason and I don't want him fiddling with stuff. Today is Group Policies, which are mildly useful for distributing software and the numerous patches which Microsoft products require on a regular and not so regular (read, whenever someone is bored enough to find another hole) basis.

[14:00] The morning was Group Policies and more holes in the instructions we had to work from. Lunch was uniformly uniform again (it's great just showing your tray to the cashier, pausing, then walking on). This afternoon we have more of the same, followed by something else. You can see how excited I am about all of this.

I took time out before lunch to send a quick email to my place and the other place to tell them about the current vbs/html virus going about. I don't want to have to go back to them on Monday and deal with two major outbreaks. Preventative maintenance is good sometimes. It also reinforces Proper Working Practices.

[09:45] So now we're watching media clips about how the DNS works and is organised. Although that's just finished we're now on to a cute-yet-stern description of the Active Directory system and the Global Catalog. I'm not hugely happy about the propaganda which is sprinkled in within the small nuggets of information. Only the fact this is costing serious money is what's keeping me from pulling a sicky.

Well, that and the fact that I need to learn this stuff to make sure I can set up the required network, come summer 2002.

[11:20] Oh dear. The Microsoft trainer didn't know what Windows-E did. Sometimes I despair. And now he's said explicitly, "Remember I don't answer the question why unless I can possibly help it." This is not a policy I agree with in any shape or form, especially with other sysadmins. Sometimes this policy is right for dealing with users, but never with other sysadmins; we need to know the 'whys' so we can work out the 'why not'. I find this obstructive and unhelpful.

[12:00] He also rushes through the stuff which is the answers to the questions in the lab exercises too quickly so when you're faced with a query you can't remember where the stuff is to answer it properly. Not impressed.

[14:20] Back from lunch (three-course meal) I can see where our course fees have gone. Still, it was nice food and the lunchbreak was an hour and a half.

[13:20] On the course here in Edinburgh. The weekend was nice with some fine weather and a chance to walk up Arthur's Seat. The hotel is pretty good and is allowing me to stay in the room I and the girlfriend stayed in for the weekend, for the rest of the week. This is good.

The Windows course is... as you might expect. A fair amount of evangelism of a Windows nature and a fairly large misunderstanding of the need for why we're doing things to be documented as well as how.

What I'd appreciate from people is an indication of what they're doing this week and also what questions I may want to pose to the MCT who keeps telling us "just how good Windows 2000 is now".

Access to net-accessible machines is a little restricted (the Windows course is on a private network for obvious reasons) so I may not be able to do an entry every day.

[13:45] O.K., so I've managed to figure out how to get through the NAT firewall they have installed, this should make things a little easier.

[12:30] I think our insurance people (or their suppliers) are trying to jib us with the laptop they're replacing for us. They claim that they can supply a Dell LS H500ST. According to my tame Dell guy they don't make that any more and haven't for some time. Which is odd. I've rung to ask for confirmation from the insurance company, but the word came from their suppliers, so they're following the paper trail back to them.

The girlfriend has agreed to be a guinea-pig for some clinical trials at the local hospital. There are thre overnight stays (of which the first was last night) and I've just seen her this morning at about 12:20 and she looked like it had been a long night. I forgot to ask her how much they're paying her...

Congratulations to the Damerrell for landing a job at Oracle, you corporate whore-in-training, you. Let me know how you get on. Anyone who knows him should send him a congratulatory email with comments on how the drinks are on him, and that he should still descent to talk to the Little People every now and then.

[16:00] I'm now trying to get stuff ready for the week away next week. Replying to email. getting a few things on floppy and hoping that the course next week will have a permanent network connection at some point so I can read my email and keep up with the BBS and stuff. Theoretically I'm supposed to be supporting the other place next week. I doubt I'll have any problems unless they need me to get over there and do something important. I think I'll take VNCviewer with me, just in case.

[09:55] Sorry should have added some more to yesterday's entry but when I went for lunch to pay in some cheques and meet some people to eat I was reminded that there was a joint talk given and hosted by Dell with people from Microsoft, Novell and RedHat coming to tell us what was happening with them and how they wanted to work with the Insititution.

Suffice to say the Microsoft talk mentioned a lot about how Windows XP was the next big thing. This was mildly upsetting as many of the sysadmins there were only just thinking about moving to Windows 2000. Some of us got in some questions about licensing and stuff which made them a little unconfortable. The problem was that the Dell guy went on for ages about SAN and NAS technology (getting out of his depth too, in my opinion), then the Microsoft and Novell ones did too, leaving us to have the 'refreshments' after them adn before the RedHat guy. This was a shame as he was forced to rush through his talk a bit. He did have a nice little slide where he reminded people that there were no license fees at all, anywhere. I was hoping the Microsoft guy would squirm a little, but I think his implants were in full recoding mode.

We got some freebies, though. A couple of CDs with RedHat 7.1 (evaluation version for some reason) and a Windows XP beta 2 to laugh at.

[10:00] What I'm looking for at the moment is a Wake on LAN application for Windows. I have a Perl version which I can probably run under ActivePerl, but I'd also like something portable to machines without Perl installed. Let me know if you find anything.

[16:25] Perl is really good sometimes. I had a WoL script running on Linux and decided that there was no Windows applcation anywhere which I could use, so I just copied it across. It worked first time under ActivePerl and did as advertised with no sideeffects, etc. As with Linux, I had to arp in the MAC addresses first and then run the script with the IP and that MAC address. Smashing now we need to decide if we install ActivePerl on the server serving as NT PDC for those machines (for ease of use) and then script it, or run it from my machine. Given that we need to powercycle the machine anyway to put in a new HDD we may as well install ActivePerl at the same time.

[17:30] "nslookup -q=mx". I'd be tempted to set up a server to handle stuff, perhaps pipe it though a pornoliser and send it on.

Took the plunge and flashed the BIOS in the DVD-Rom this morning with XVI's LG DRN-8080B 1X13 firmware. Naturally I forgot to bring in any DVDs today but I've decided to take it home this evening, so that doesn't really matter. First impressions look like it's worked. I still have to test it, and see if DVDgenie has circumvented Windows 2000's regioning stuff.

[09:35] A few calls from the other place this morning, and no cheque from them as yet. This is... disappointing. Also no backpack from Dell yet. This is even more disapointing. I'm about to start looking for traces of this mystery company who claim that I've mail ordered something from them. The PFY's back too and seems happy with the fact we're looking to upgrade her post again.

[12:45] Hmm, Dell tell me that the eta on my backpack is the beginning of next week. When I'm on my course in Edinburgh. That's not too impressive.