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March's Journal
May's Journal

[09:18] Damned powercut at around 04:42 this morning. Luckily the UPSen seem to have kept my essential machines up and running.

[14:55] Absolutely pissing down outside, so I got wet at lunchtime. Most of today I've been trying to do the accounts for the places I spend money from. I hate accounts and accounting.

[16:25] I think I've done it. At least it's ready to be looked at by someone else and then sent back to me with red marks all over it and "5/10 must try harder" at the bottom. And as I look I see that my cable modem has come back on line at home, which is nice.

[09:20] House news: the mortgage people's surveyor has come back to us and said (suprise suprise) that the house is worth exactly what we're paying for it. How about that. The mortgage people have also agreed to give us the extra 2K we were denied before, which is nice. What the hell, it means more furniture in the short term and only another few more months in bondage to the bank in the long.

[17:45] Some file corruption in the journal.html document means that bits have vanished. I've reconstructed what I can.

Meeting this afternoon. And it's Friday.

[12:10] It's midday already! How the hell did that happen? Anyway, decided to go and look at motherboards and realised I will only ever buy Asus motherboards from now on. Their site (while a little slow with downloads) is comprehensive and well written (even if heavily reliant on up-to-date browser technology), the downloads are easy to find based on motherboard and (get this) the manuals are in Real English. None of this Engrish for Asus, it's written by someone who actually speaks the language and manages to slot in a few real colloquialisms, like "nifty screensaver". You don't get that from people like Abit. I've got the next revision of the manual printed duplex with two staples shot through it, all without leaving my chair. Network document handlers are great.

[13:25] All the machines get new AV DAT files in five minutes. I hope. I'll be running a one-off update to Service Pack 1 on Monday as well. That should be fun.

[12:30] Morning meeting presents new third way to replace the benching in one of the computer areas. I don't care so long as it leaves me with places to put the PCs, with the trunking out of the way. I also really don't care when it's done as I have other things to concentrate on in the next few months, including the potential new house. We're still waiting on the mortgage people's surveyor to come back with the estimation that "yes, it is worth what you're paying for it." and then all we need is for the vendor to find a house to move to. That's the worrying bit.

[15:10] Need some advice from my readers. I'm after a soundcard. I'd like it to be a Creative card, and it needs to be as cheap as possible while still having an SP/DIF out (to output encoded Dolby Digital 5.1 to a decoder, I'd assume this means it has an SP/DIF internally as well) and the standard front and rear stereo jacks. Suggestions?

[17:45] Little bit more Ghosting this afternoon. Nothing special. Home now. Pizza.

[13:45] Looking at and trying not to fall into the time sink.

[15:50] Just setting up the second network photocopier at the moment. It's thrown some confusion at Explorer. Probably something to do with me not wanting to reboot a live server in the middle of the working day. Will reboot it this evening. I applied the late NT 4 hotfixes to it this morning (as well as the newest JVM for good measure) and rebooted without problems. I should reboot it again this evening.

[12:20] Getting back up to speed this morning. Doing things, stuff. Did I mention that I moved one of the web servers to 2.0.35 last week? Seems to have gone O.K. Also upgraded Analog to something remotely recent. Folding in a lot of configuration upgrades/changes is an annoying task sometimes. I should do the bofhcam server at some point.

We're climbing again this evening. Should be good, food afterwards, etc.

[16:55] Ethereal is insanely useful after you've been stuck with WinDump (tcpdump for Windows) for a long time. I'm this >< close to tracking down the problem with my antivirus upgrade problems by sniffing the FTP traffic going back and forth. As I suspected it's a case sensitivity problem caused by Windows requesting a certain file and the linux FTP server having it not named the same.

[23/04/2002 - 10:05] I took today off. Woke up this morning and thought "No, I'm staying in bed." Got stuff done, relaxed, went to town, had some lunch, went to see the new house again (second time only for the girlfriend). Really very nice.

The weekend was good. The girlfriend went off on a friend's Hen Night, I and some others went around to the groom's place for a Men Night, more commonly known as a LAN Party. Although I don't play much Red Alert 2/Yuri's Revenge I had a good time, ate far too much junk food, drank at least three gallons of coke and got very little sleep. Came back on the Sunday night very late. That may have been some of the reason I didn't go to work in the morning.

[09:40] Today's Lie of the Day comes courtesy of Microsoft with this URL on Donating computers Specifically "It is a legal requirement that pre-installed operating systems remain with a machine for the life of the machine. If a company or individual donates a machine to your school, it must be donated with the operating system that was installed on the PC." This is going to catch people who don't know any different and wanted to install a free operating system. It may even catch muppets who were going to reinstall the Windows OS that was on there (making it marginally more stable).

[10:40] I've found someone to replace Gene "TimeCube" Ray as my favourite kook, at least for today. is great. Give it a read.

[16:40] The printer has been jamming all day. I think we're going to get out of here before we're forced to fix it. Climbing this evening, Scorpion King on at the cinema. Have a good weekend, I'm off to a LAN party.

[14:50] Fixed my CSS problem under Mozilla (Win32) this morning with the addition of "text/css css" to mime.types, which seemed to exist in too many places on my system. Thanks to those who suggested it.

The PFY (the first one) is here at 15:00 to talk about coming back some time in August in a part-time kind of role. This morning I reinstalled the last server with RAID-5 in place. It's currently sitting recovering from the trauma of multiple reboots and service packs/hotfixes being applied to it. Replication's up and running and things are bedding down. I'll do some more tomorrow. Unless I get a Friday Feeling in the morning. Noever do system reconfiguration on a Friday.

I'm at a meeting in the afternoon anyway.

[15:55] I'm going home at 16:00. I was here until 20:30 last night, so I'm going home. I'm going to go home, read a book and then have some pizza with friends.

[09:30] Got an email from the good people of Copyleft this morning. Those of you who have been expecting T-shirts from them recently may be glad to know that normal service is beginning to be resumed and it's likely that and problems you have been experiencing should be resolved fairly soon.

Some minor problems with the transfer of control from one domain controller to the other overnight. I think the scheduler service needs to be run as an administrative user, rather than System. I'll promote the scratch server today anyway, as that's not really a problem.

[15:35] Spent some time with the building people this afternoon getting more information on new desking on some of the computer areas. It's going to cost serious money in places. Oh well. Off to see Blade II this evening.

[17:10] I'd appreciate someone telling me why the stylesheet I have for the co-larters page doesn't load correctly and why the red bar at the top can't decide what length it is on refreshing. Also why the menubar on the left isn't working right either. It seems to work in Netscape and IE and Opera, but not Mozilla.

[20:20] I'm at work late this evening as I'm going straight to the cinema at about 20:50. Someone's mentioned to me that I might like to apply for a post with a mail group of the Insititution. It requires Perl, sh and the ability to read C. I really don't think I could do it, but the suggestion is that with as few applicants as they're having, it's worth a shot. Hmmmm.

[11:40] With the arrival of the last of the RAID hard disks yesterday I'm finishing up copying essential files from the candidate machine to the scratch server (which'll become the PDC fairly shortly). The weather's lovely today, I must have an extended lunch break to celebrate.

Nothing new on the house for the moment. I'll keep you informed, whether you like it or not. I went climbing last night. Apparently my first climb was an "assault" on the overhanging spine but I don't remember much other than the fact that there was a lot of strength involved. Pretty proud of it, anyway. I don't think I needed the rope, even when all I was in contact with the wall was hands.

[15:25] Migration of user accounts (all two fo them) now complete. Just going to wait overnight for Replication to sort itself out and then I'll do what needs doing.

[11:10] I'd just like to say that in Amsterdam there is a much more relaxed attitude to sex than there is here. And I for one as someone who is quite interested in it found that to be most liberating. I can tell you that I did not indulge in any drugs or any sex (boooo!) but had a great time, played some street chess (which I must get back into) and had far too little sleep. I have some photos which will be added to the backlog of images which I need to put in the Gallery at some point. The shows were great, though...

[17:25] So I'm upgrading my webstats applications and realising that moving up two major version numbers means that converting config files is non-trivial.

[15/04/2002 10:55] I went to Amsterdam today and left a secretary to do the backup tape change. I won't tell you what happens over the weekend as that's between me and the others.

[09:55] I'm officially ill. Well, I have an upset stomach with associated symptoms. This is annoying as I'm off to Amsterdam tomorrow. Hopefully it'll have cleared up by then. I've taken a secretary through monkey-task backup tape changing tomorrow morning. She'll get someone to unlock the door and pop today's tape out and tomorrow's in and then leave. That's it, no more. She won't even turn the monitors on. With luck nothing should go too wrong. There was a tape drive error this morning, but I think that's solved.

Still nothing from the mortgage people on their "24 hour decision" on lending us the extra cash for the house. We have it covered but would prefer to get it from them, rather than parents.

[10:30] We appear to have been sent a copy of the game "Europa Universalis II". It really isn't my thing, does anyone want to buy it? £20, rather than £24.99? UK buyers only.

[13:55] I'm reading about Libertarians this afternoon. Fascinating. If boring after a while.

10/04/2002 - (Birthday Edition)
[09:20] I've just been reading back over the last three years' worth of birthday entries. Things haven't changed so much over the years, have they? I've gotten a few more things, put on a bit of weight (probably muscle) and have just begun to buy a house. I have a different bike, I wear shorts more often and I seem to be a little calmer when it comes to major catastrophes at work. I've gotten plenty of money this time around and driving lessons from the girlfriend (a pack from the BSM) which I should take advantage of as soon as I have some free time. I don't know how hard driving is, but it should be like any other skill I think. Hand/eye coordination and the ability to do different things at the same time. I have to admit that being in control of a car on the road is a bit daunting, now I come to think about it.

Nothing more to report on the house at the moment. Still not had final confirmation from the mortgage people, and I'm told that this part of the whole thing is the bit where you will lose money if the vendor backs out. You can't help but spend money at this point and lose it if things go pear-shaped. We measured out the lounge in our lounge last night and figured we can fit in it. Our current lounge is huge (pictures one day) so it'll be a step down. But I think it'll be fine.

[16:25] Stomach ache, going home.

[14:30] Nothing much happened this morning. I did however take one of the secretaries through changing the backup tape on Friday. I won't be here (and neither will the PFY, as he's on holiday this week) because I'm off to Amsterdam for the weekend for someone's stag event. I've event labelled the tape drives with "Orange tape" and "Green tape" in preparation.

I don't think I'm going to get overly drunk, or event attempt to get stoned unless it just happens to be something that's being done. It doesn't appeal to me at all. Call me boring but it just doesn't float my boat.

[16:30] House, house, house, house, house, house, house, house HOUSE HOUSE HOUSE HOUSEHOUSEHOUSEHOUSEHOUSEHOUSEHOUSEHOUSEHOUSEHOUSE!

Our offer's been accepted. Well, actually the girlfriend was rung by the estate agents and was told that if we offered the full price (2K more on top of our maximum, so we've gone back to the mortgage people and the girlfriend's parents and we can get the money) we'd have our offer accepted over the other peoples'. We've made the offer, so it's been accepted. Things are now in motion, and subject to contract we're sorted. Actually we're not sorted, we're on the long road to getting the house. From now on in things get complicated. Really complicated. Hell, if it works and the vendors find somewhere to buy then we have a house, eventually. Hurrah!

[12:15] Stressful morning this morning. More later.

[12:20] Just been updating more PCs with the hotfixes batch file which seems to kill one in five. Thus far two have died a horrible death doing eleven. I have one more stand alone to do. All the others are in groups of four, eighteen and twenty. They can all be done with Ghost anyway. The two machines which died I've reGhosted and they seem to be fine (I copied all the files off first) but I'm sure I've lost some stuff, somewhere.

There's been some problems with Access databases this morning as well as a shortage of ink for one of the printers. That's not so much of a problem though really. We're also waiting on the estate agents and the vendor to get back to us on the house. Still. I can't believe they haven't made up their mind whether to accept or decline our or the other peoples' offers yet. As it is we've given in and upped our offer by 3K (bringing it to within 2K of the asking price). Hopefully this, coupled with our flexibility will ease the others out of the picture. We can't do anything else now. We're at our maximum price. That's it, there is no more, we're tapped. I guess it means the ball's well and truly out of our court now.

There's still one server which hasn't had the hotfixes applied to it yet. I'm contemplating only putting on the ones it hasn't got, rather than reapplying the whole thing again.

[13:22] So much for following Microsoft's "reapply all patches when applying new ones doesn't hurt" rule of thumb. I'll just apply the ones it hasn't got.

[16:55] Unbelievably I've finally started the last package installation of the Administrative Installation of Office 2000 on the server. It's taken a while but I think I'm nearly almost up to date, maybe. Once this one's done I can finally 'Redeploy' the application and see what breaks horribly. I do think something's going to go wrong. Today has been a bugger of a day and there's still no call from the state agents. I suppose it's a good sign that the person hasn't said 'no' at least. Maybe.

I've reinstalled another machine that had been crashing all on its own and it turns out that the reason it was crashing was probably something to do with some application called 'Alan Titchmarsh's Barleyworld *mumble*' or something. A fresh reinstall seems to have sorted that out (Ghosted anyway). Must go and modify the backup job.

[12:45] Bugger of a morning thus far. No sign of a call from the estate agents yet, but there you go. The kicker was the problems we've been having installing the latest NT4 (also 2000) patch marked as MS02-17. Out of the twenty-sevenish machines we've done this morning, four of them complained that they were missing the ntoskrnl.exe file on the black screen part of the boot sequence. We managed to save one of the machines by copying the file from one HDD to the other when we extracted the HDD. The others just failed further into the boot process.

As luck would have it, all the machines were Dell GX110s and I could copy off all of the data files and reGhost the machine in about ten minutes. There's a lot of machines still to do, but most of them can be Ghosted in the event that they die. Annoying things.

[15:20] Installing more updates to the administrative installation of Office 2000 this afternoon. One of them's already locked up the machine (msiexec) and I'm not sure if it's going to work again this time.

[16:45] Off climbing this evening. So I'm going home now. I'll set one last patch to the Office install going before I leave.

[11:20] We didn't go to the gym in the end, we went for a long cycle ride out in the sticks around the city. That was nice. Got back hungry, had a chinese went to bed. I was absolutely knackered this morning though, for some reason.

Real problems with backups on one of the servers this morning. Seems the tape which causes hassles last Thursday (which I found on the Friday morning) is royally shafted and required an emergency reboot when it caused the tape drive to do something nasty to the SCSI chain and also ARCServe's tape engine. Still everything seems to be O.K. now. And with the database purge job back in place since the reinstall it's possible that the old tape which has been removed from the media set might vanish as I'd like it to, rather than hanging around and looking messy.

Looking at more houses this lunchtime and waiting on a call from the estate agents we put an offer in with last week. Seems that two other people have offered the asking price (we're 5K below) for the same house, but they're both involved in chains... Hopefully our total flexibility and ability to go to within 2K of the asking price (we haven't mentioned that yet, the estate agents are talking to the vendors and will ring us back this afternoon with more information) will help swing it.

[17:40] Got a Technet article this afternoon which tells you how to apply hotfixes to the administrative install of Office 2000. This is good because it means I can install the security fixes centrally and then Redeploy the applications with the fixes in from my office one lunchtime. Only it looks like I'm going to have to do a new administrative install from scratch because something's messed up somewhere.

[16:20] Warm outside today. Been reading stuff on NT policies today. Also had a look at my profile that I use day to day. It was 110MB. Decided I needed a new profile and spent the rest of the morning reconfiguring my desktop to look like it used to.

This afternoon I and a few other people headed over to Central to look at a big old networked photocopiers. I think we'll be dumping the remaining analog ones we have here and going for one which does 105ppm.

Gym tonight, or this afternoon at least.

[15:10] Windows 2000 is decidedly odd. And I don't mean that in a good way, or in any way known up until now. There's something wrong with profiles. For one thing when you log in as administrator on a server it may download the profile from the Roaming Profile directory for the administrator, but on logoff it doesn't seem to copy it back again. Client Workstations seem to do this (at least now, they weren't for a while), but not the server. Even when I delete the profile from the server's C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator directory it downloads a new copy from the Roaming Profiles directory, but doesn't copy it back up again on log off.

The other problem is the intermittent problem with Windows Update. On logging in it's possible that instead of getting the Windows Update web site a little window pops up asking if I want to download or open redir from, which is silly. If you leave the machine alone for a while then this doesn't happen the next time you try. This is annoying. Any ideas?

[16:40] Now everything's working again, which is odd. I've done some more tweaking to other things and everything is still working. Annoying.

[18:10] Sent the PFY home early today, and meant to leave early myself. Only I haven't. I think I'll go home now.

[02/01/2002 08:45] We got back from the girlfriend's parents at about 16:00 today. Did some washing up, did some washing, read the stacks of email, looked for some more houses (in the likely event that we don't get this one), got a reply from the mortgage people who said we could have 3K more than we'd just offered for the current house and no more, and then ended up watching Enterprise and Dark Angel before going to bed.