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January's Journal
March's Journal

[12:20] Just come back from a 'Preferred Vendors Day' demonstration thingy at central. I've come back with a wodge-load of brochures and stuff and a few T-shirts. I've also found somewhere that does the iPod for £325. Which is tempting me again. I will remain strong until the Tokyo computer show. Apple always seem to annouce something there. Perhaps it'll be a larger capacity iPod?

[14:15] Two DJs on Radio 1 are propagating the crazybus UL from and no matter how many emails I send they don't seem to be paying attention.

[17:10] I like Symantec. I suddenly found that I'd lost my Norton Ghost 6.0 Enterprise CD. After a fruitless search I dug out the client licenses form and rang the number for (now) Symantec's Enterprise License Support. I quoted the number from the license and the nice French woman on the other end said she'd source a CD and send it out to me. With luck it'll be the Enterprise CD and not the Standard.

I then proceeded to Symantec's web site for the updates I know I'll need. Armed only with a vague idea of what the knowledgebase article titles were I found the pages I needed, bookmarked them and then ascertained that the downloads listed there actually still existed. They did. There may be a few problems with newer versions of stuff, but I think it's going to work. Maybe.

Home time for pizza and DVDs.

[10:40] Weird error solved this morning by the PFY. Someone put an AutoCorrect into Word 2000 for a long description, so typing the acronym expanded to the long version. The user also has an Access 2000 database with a form containing a dropdown of different descriptions. One is that description. Even with all the validation in place, when the user selected that acronym from the dropdown Access would AutoCorrect it with the full version, thus breaking the queries and reports searching for the field by acronym. Of course, we didn't spot this for a whole day of puzzling and I'd been reduced to using strings to find the full description in the Access database somewhere. All solved now though.

Now that the PDC is now the PDC again it's time to reinstall the scratch server as a BDC again for the next NT domain, install all the stuff it needs, transfer everything across, cause hassle to the users, install RAID, reinstall the machine, copy everything back, hassle the users again and settle things down again.

[11:20] I'm also arranging to see some houses this week and next. We're still looking to move, but haven't found anywhere right yet.

[19:10] House viewings booked for this Friday and Tuesday of next week. I've been struggling to remember how to get Pcounter (2.03f) to install and configure correctly on NT this evening. I know it's out of date, but it does everything we need so it's fine. One small thing. By installing it on the scratch server (to make sure we're accounting while we move servers) I've kind of given myself a sixty day time limit to get this transfer done as the registration code for the thing is linked to NT Domain and NetBIOS name. Which is a bit arse, but seems to be a good way of not having pirate copies running everywhere.

[11:50] Windy this morning. Sideways on a bike is fun only if you have padding. Went to the gym last night. They've added a lot more machines now, and it was packed. Probably something to do with it being 18:00 on a Monday evening. I may try to start going in the mornings again.

Having trouble with Windows 2000 DNS this morning. It really is a mess and I can't see a way to get rid of the errors without hacking about with stuff in the registry which I'll then have to remember the next time I install a server, or this one again.

Just about ready to promote the reinstalled NT4.0 server to PDC again. Only I can't really do it while people are connected as it kills all client sessions. Much as I'd like to. I'll do that this evening, I think. This lunchtime I'm off with the girlfriend to look at some more houses. The ones I thought sounded nice from the location and the descriptions appear to have gone already. They were only made available a few days ago.

[14:50] Took the digital camera to the houses. The first one was passible, the lounge was a decent enough size. Needed a bit of work, though. The other place had more potential byut suffered from small-lounge syndrome again. Could possibly be fixed by the judicious application of sledgehammer to partition wall (it's not been there long by all accounts anyway) and the addition of some sliding doors between the extension and the kitchen.

[10:00] Windows 2000 server still misbehaving in the DNS area. Really don't know what the cause is. Will look into it again this week. We also do the final stage of the migration back to the main NT machine this week. Moving the antivirus console and master repository back over, and promoting that machine to PDC status once more. We're also waiting on the spare disks from Dell in the event that the RAID setup actually degrades.

Spent the weekend trying to figure out which MP3 player to get and came to the conclusion that if Apple pring out a 10/20GB iPod in the near future I'll get that. By that time XPlay should be fairly sorted. If nothing happens by, say the end of March then I'll get an Archos of some kind.

[15:00] Just migrated control of the antivirus software from the stand-in server to the other one. Now running a default scan on all machines concurrently. It's frightening just how many files are on some of these machines.

[12:20] Had someone come in from Central this morning to help me with the mess that is Windows 2000's DNS implementation. It hasn't seemed to have helped. We also discussed automated hotfix installation and patching Microsoft's SQL 7 and MSDE 1.0 when they're included in other products.

I still don't have a buyer for my camera. It's frustrating, but at the moment there's no way I'm going to spend money on an iPod or similar until I get some money. Even though I have the cash. It's the principle of the thing, and also making sure I don't have too much crap hanging about the place.

[14:20] I think I have a buyer for the camera. Which is nice. Still to confirm of course, but this could be what I need.

[15:55] I'm now £300 richer and one Axis poorer. I don't think I'll miss it to be honest. Two cameras is enough and there's no need to have one at home. I now have to come back to Apple iPod versus Archos Jukebox Studio. Opinions?

[08:45] Yesterday's meeting was non-eventful, but moderately interesting. Nothing of real interest. I did manage to sell my Diamond Rio 500 though. So that's gone. The Axis 2100's still for sale though. Someone buy it, in the UK, please.

Last night I ate far too much pizza and all my friends ate too much pizza and far far too much wine. I wonder how they feel. My stomach doesn't feel great at all. Maybe it's the lack of breakfast.

More laptop updates today. Also going to move all the users' home directories and roaming profiles this evening, when everyone's logged off. It should be interesting to see what the PFY thinks of the Perl script I have to do it.

[10:00] Well he's moderately impressed.

[11:00] Damnit, I'm now stuck between the Apple iPod and the Archos Jukebox Studio 20. Bear in mind that I use Windows at home, not MacOS.
			iPod					Jukebox Studio
Compatible systems:	Windows with Xplay (beta software)	Win98SE/2000
Interfaces:		Firewire				USB 1.0
Audio connectors:	Headphones				headphones/line out
Power source:		Built-in rechargable lithium battery	4xAA rechargable/AC adapter
Battery time:		Max 10 hours				Max 8 hours
Capacity:		5GB					20GB
Memory buffer:		32MB					2MB
Formats supported:	MP3, WAV, AIFF, also other data		MP3, also other data
Included software:	iTunes 2 (for Mac)/Xplay costs $40	MusicMatch, encoder, browser
File upload/download:	Drive in Windows Explorer		Drive in Windows Explorer
Display:		Backlit LCD				Backlit LCD
Height:			102mm/4.02"				115mm/4.5"
Width:			61.8mm/2.43"				82mm/3.2"
Depth:			19.9mm/0.78"				34mm/1.3"
Weight:			185g/6.5oz				290g/12oz
Accessories:		Headphones, firewire cable		Remote control (not available yet)
Upgrades:		Firmware upgrades (through Xplay maybe)	Firmware upgrades
The iPod is at least £90 more expensive. I need to also consider stuff like strength, durability, long-term support, and anything else I can think of later. What do people think?

[14:50] I've put the Axis camera on eBay. Anyone interested should go and bid.

[19:05] Moved everyone's profiles and home directories to the new RAID server this evening. Nothing went wrong. I'm worries. Going home for chinese and television.

[11:15] Happy palindromic date day. Nothing happening this morning, the PFY's working on OCRing some forms, I'm trying to keep busy. This afternoon I'm at a meeting with lots of peers, some of them Clued, some of them not. It's always interesting, if only for the 'free and frank exchange of views' at some points. With luck it'll go on long enough that I don't need to come back to work and I can go to the gym and then home for the evening's DVD and food eating activities. Normally scheduled for Thursdays, we're thinking of switching Thursday/Wednesday on alternate weeks to make sure everyone can come to at least one.

[15:15] Busy morning. We (I) decided that it was time to check what users we had that we could delete. I've held a pen for longer this morning than I have for the last three years. My writing hasn't improved.

I'm selling my Diamond Rio 500 mp3 player with a further 64MB of RAM, a leather carry case, webbing belt case, headphone and driver/applications CD. Cheapest I've found for all of that is £190. I'm selling it for £170. It's practically brand new and hasn't even had the little sticky plastic strip taken off the LCD. Does anyone in the UK want to buy it?

I'm also selling my Axis 2100 network camera. This is the one of the ones with a small linux installation inside and a web server. Does streaming video at a pretty good rate, 10/100 NIC on the back. Normally retails for something like £370. I'll do it for £315. UK people only, if you're interested.

The reason I'm selling these bits of kit is that for one the girlfriend doesn't like webcams at home, and secondly because I saw an iPod last night. I don't have a Macintosh, but I can download XPlay which looks to be all I'll need. Apart from the cash to buy the iPod. So, help a person in need, buy my kit so I can buy my iPod.

[11:40] Breaking in the new PFY this morning. He's being taught a lot of stuff very quickly. Hopefully his head won't explode. It's been a hectic morning. This weekend was... more tiring than I would have thought. Installing the second computer was fine as it was all set up by me. Adding a 10/100 NIC to replace the 10 in there caused lots of problems. I think the machine's been fragile for some time and doing a hardware modification was the straw which broke the camel's back. I did two reinstalls before realising that it was likely that the FAT for the C: partition was corrupt and format C: wasn't fixing it. I ended up fdisking the partition away then recreating it and formating it with the /U flag. That seemed to do it. Joining the broadband revolution then went according to plan, but I was up until 01:00 on Sunday morning getting it done. My parents are happy and my brother should be able to do the last few email things as soon as he's able to get over there.

[13:20] Sent the PFY to lunch, tiring thing this, showing someone what you do.

[17:45] Showed the PFY stuff this afternoon too. He's going to do well, I think. His project for the moment is something I never got around to doing ages ago, which is the restyling of the Institution's web pages. He's going to use CSS, which is good, and we'll make sure the pages render well in Netscape as well as lynx.

[10:10] Got in this morning and the server was listing timeouts for SCSI disk ID(0:02:0) as well. Not best pleased I rang Dell's Server Support people. Spoke to a very helpful woman called Melinda who mentioned that someone else had rung up with the same problem, that she and someone else had reproduced it in their lab and that they were working on the problem. She'd ring me back by 12:00 with some kind of solution. Twenty minutes later she's back on the phone with a solution which involves a firmware+driver update (no great sweat). They've been running it in the lab and it seems to have solved their problem.

So I scheduled some downtime for 13:00 today. The machine's still only the printserver (not moved anything else back onto it yet) but it's good to give people a little warning. I know BOFHs don't warn, they drop, but I'd rather I wasn't interrupted with complaints during a firmware upgrade and driver update. A by-product of going to version 2.7-0 build 3552 is that the management application under Windows NT called FAST (Flexible Array Storage Tool) doesn't support version 2.7 stuff yet, so I'll have to dump it and move to Dell/Veritas' Array Manager software, why by all accounts is better anyway.

[10:50] A solution for the mobile laptop user with no power point may be here: looks vaguely promising.

[12:20] I wish I worked somewhere where I could produce bills like this.

[14:30] Installation finished, Dell Open Manage Array Manager (no email support, boo!) and no errors in the event log yet concerning SCSI timeouts. We'll see what is in there on Monday. It does have provision for adding hotspare failover though, which is a Good Thing(tm).

Were I running a squid proxy I'd have these emailed out automatically.

[17:15] End of the working week. New PFY starts next week. Just as I've gotten most things in hand. Hope they're not bored. I hate breaking in new PFYs, it's always awkward to begin with. Anyway, heading to parents this weekend to set up broadband for my parents and hopefully going for a Chinese at the place just up the road from them. It should be nice and relaxing.

[09:20] Damnit. 09/02/2002 was the BOFHcam's third birthday, and I missed it. It was a weekend, but still, I should have remenbered. Oh well. Far too busy.

It's the girlfriend and I's fifth anniversary of getting together, today. We didn't realise at the time what the date was, and how trite and seemingly predicatable it was, but there you go. Theoretically we meet the week before, but didn't do anything about it until the following weekend. Still, there you go. I'm installing a machine for my parents today. Just something to take to their house this weekend as they're getting cable TV and broadband fitted today and tomorrow (with luck, it's ntl: doing the installation).

I'm getting some odd warning messages from the RAID device on the server, I don't think they're serious, but I'll see what Google knows.

[15:15] Verify of the disk in question has now begun. Someone has suggested that perhaps it's not seated in the enclosure properly, but that doesn't sit right in my mind. For those of you who might know, here are the error messages:

\Device\AFA0 : ID(0:01:0) Timeout detected on cmd(0x2a)
\Device\AFA0 : SCSI Channel[0] : Timeout detected on 1 command(s)

[12:20] The PFY's here with her baby at the moment. The lad's tiny. Poor thing. I'd cry if there were a few old women crowding round me rocking my carry chair like they wanted to tip it over.

[16:20] Lots of small things being done at the moment. I've just set the accounts software to print out an order for two disks as cold-swap spares for the RAID and figured out how to get a bit of Group Policy muddle working on the freshly install Windows 2000 Advanced Server. I may go home on time today, so as not to jinx anything.

[18:30] Naturally I've been here since then working on HTML for someone who wants Garamond and something close to studdly-caps for his web pages (Caps and small caps, actually). It's murder on the fingers doing things like that with cut and paste over and over again.

[12:10] Impressive site of the day is which requires Java but is worth it. This morning I've been moving people over to the reinstalled server for printing. Over the next few days I'll move the profiles, the home directories and the general shares until there's nothing left but the antivirus console. Once that's moved I can relax.

[12:45] Just plain odd:

[18:40] Blue-arsed fly mode. There's a crack on the loose which has caught me and a lot of other people. Naturally it's a Windows-based hack that it never occured to anyone that would exist any more. Gotta love Microsoft. It may require a reinstall of my Windows 2000 server. Good job I hadn't gotten around to using the software on any other machines yet. Still a pain though.

[13:10] As stated, today is NT server installation day. The machine takes an age to boot now, with twenty five extra seconds devoted to making sure there's a RAID set in there somewhere, and starting it up. Installation of software has been almost flawless; there was a problem with ARCserve and for some odd reason the newest version of ActivePerl doesn't install with the MSI Installer they recommend and even provide a download link to. Once the machine's up and running and has done a few days of backups, etc. I'll start migrating people back over to it. Then the scratch server can come back out of comission and I can think about doing the next server in line.

[14:30] I think some HR people need a kick in the knackers.

[16:40] Just reinstalling a laptop I thought had two partitions to have two partitions so the AO can take it home instead of the desktop boxye he's just brought back. Seems it's either eat on your lap or have the PC put away. And he needs the PC set up most evenings. I just hope he doesn't get food in the laptop. Note to self, get insurance form upgraded from desktop to laptop.

[10:55] It may be that the 11Mb/sec wireless LAN stuff I have is discontinued, but that doesn't mean it should be such a sodding pain to set up. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't. There doesn't seem to be any reason for when it decides it's not going to negotiate and get a DHCP address for the card in the laptop. It's really odd. Yesterday was a comedy of Windows 2000 drivers, today it's a tragedy of encryption keys. Really annoying.

What I really don't need today is interviews for the replacement PFY, although I know that whoever we pick in the end is going to make my life much easier in the end (once they're eased into the way things go here).

[11:40] No matter what I try, when I turn on 128-bit encryption the communication between the card and access point stops. Oh they're able to see each other apparently, but there's no TCP/IP traffic. They also don't seem to be able to grasp the concept of changing the keys. I can have different keys on the client and on the access point and it all still works. How crap is that?

Like I mentioned before, interviews start at 14:15 and go on until after 16:30. Once that's over I'm heading to Wokingham for the weekend by train for a party or two. A chance to read some books and stay in a B&B.

[13:55] Have a good weekend all, I'm off to do one of the more hated things my job entails. Interviewing.

[17:05] Well, that was... interesting. Can't say anything about it until the official notifications go out in case any of the by some strange chance happen to be reading this from a net cafe somewhere in town. More on Monday. Time to go to the train station.

[13:00] It's lunchtime already, how did that happen? All this morning I've been putting monster updates on the building's site. On the fly I've created a new directory structure for part of it as it's grown out of all proportion. I've also taken the opportunity to replace the Word97 GIF icon with a Word2000 one. The times; they are a-changin'.

I've also taken action to book Monday as 'server installation day'. The only thing planned or able to be planned for that day is the server installation. Nothing else big can happen, as I won't be doing it. It's a good feeling to be able to tell people to get lost. Now I think about it, I've updated so many pages to day I'm not sure I've copied all of the changes over to the live server. Must check that.

[18:05] Decided to get into the wireless LAN stuff again this afternoon. No time to talk about it now, will mention it tomorrow if I remember.

[11:30] I've been asked to wear trousers on Friday when we do the interviews. I really have to remember to do so. Maybe I should bring some in anyway, in case of accidents, or heavy rain. I've got about three people setting up cron jobs around the world which'll go off at differing times between Thursday evening and Friday morning which'll remind me of the fact.

Today's seminar day. I really hate doing things like this. I have to present to people who are either well ahead of me in what they're doing, or just not interested. It shouldn't take more than ten minutes, but still, I'd rather be teaching to people who are there to learn something new, or being here working on the server which I still haven't had time to install yet. I need a full day to make sure I can get the backup software in place and ready to go by the evening.

[13:20] I've practised my talk twice this morning. I think I know what I have to say. The word is that about sixty people are going to turn up. I'm glad it's not just me they're coming to see. With luck a lot of them will have some sudden network problem and not turn up.

The girlfriend and I are going to see a house in a village to the north of town after work this evening. We don't think we'll like the cycle out there, but think it's worth having a look at for reasons other than the distance. We then need to decide whether we're too tired to go and celebrate someone's new job or just go home and collapse again. I've been doing a lot of that recently in the evenings. I think I'm working too hard.

[16:30] I've come back from the seminar now. It wasn't too bad, but it wan't great either. At least no-one laughed, and I don't think anyone thought I was saying the wrong thing. In fact someone who writes fairly hairy code and is doing some pretty complex things seemed to think it was on the money, which is good. The topic was "Not getting out of your chair: how to centrally manage NT and Windows 2000 centrally".

[11:50] Dentist in ten minutes, back after that. Unless I go to the club to welcome a friend who's now working in the same part of the Institution as the girlfriend, only not in the same building. Except some of the time. He has two offices.

[14:30] Apparently my teeth are fine. That's one weight off my mind. I was running through my talk for tomorrow this morning. I think it'll go reasonably O.K. so long as I don't run out of words. My parents are also getting broadband so I need to fix up a PC for them to have. I may do this this afternoon.

I need one complete day to do the reinstall on the server with RAID. Tomorrow is stuffed because of the talk so I guess it'll have to be Thursday. Hmm, it's really raining outside.

We did the shortlisting for the PFY job yesterday afternoon. Seemed to go O.K. I think we may get someone who knows what they're doing, unless something goes really wrong. We basically need someone who can do Access, and some other stuff. There's one person with AIX, HP-UX, linux and Solaris skills. We could have her but I think she'd be bored.

[14:20] I'm tired. I'm busy, and tired and generally having too many things to do. I got in this morning after a bad night thinking about what to do to upgrade the network when we go to the new server. Do I install 2000 Server? Shall I move to a new centralised antivirus management setup, or shall I just stay where things are for the moment until things settle down a bit?

[14:25] Anyway, when I got in this morning there was lots to do. So much on the calendar that I don't have time to work on getting the server installed. I've had to work on a talk I'm giving on Wednesday afternoon, fix a whole load of annoying problems, deal with someone coming to do a quotation for new benching and go and visit a house in the event that we want to buy it.

I've also got to talk over with the AO the shortlist of candidates for the PFY's maternity cover replacement, attend a meeting about the digital photocopiers and try and keep my head together until I can go home. Then the same thing happens again tomorrow.

Oh, and the Windows 2000 server's DNS stuff is being annoying.

[17:30] This is how annoying. I have one server and two workstations for the moment. I don't have authority for my subdomain which is part of a much larger zone. I can
a) Create the four underscore "zones" _mscds.XXX, _sites.XXX, _tcp.XXX and _udp.XXX and set my server (running the DNS) to forward any unknown name or number lookups to the machines which are authorative for my sub-domain, even those from this sub-domain. However this then means that the workstations which are set to register themselves with the DNS can't do so, as there's no XXX zone to register in. That's O.K. though, I can turn that off. The kicker is that the server (and any other servers) are required to register with the DNS so that clients can log into them. Or I can do
b) Create the "zone" XXX. This is then autopopulated with the underscore domains and some other guff. All the workstations can then register their DNS records as can the server without any problems. However, even with the forwarders still set, while IP number->DNS name queries for machines in XXX which aren't registered in the DNS on the server work, DNS name->IP number resolver queries don't as the server believes it's authorative for the XXX zone and as there's no record of that DNS name in its database, it doesn't exist.

Someone must know what I'm doing wrong, right?

[10:05] Looking at our first possible house to purchase today. I doubt w'll like this one as it's quite a busy road and I'm sure the place is going to be a dump, but at least we've started looking now. We're looking at another four places tomorrow. Still we're going climbing this evening at a nearby climbing wall. I haven't been climbing in years so it should be a lot of fun and interesting as to how well I do. Today I'm doing a lot of laptop image updates.

[15:15] I appear to be something of a techno god at the moment. I've done about nineteen different updates to the web site, started some Ghosting going, solved a few people's tech problems and pruned a few ARCserve databases down to something more tolerable.

At lunchtime the girlfriend and I went out to look at the house. It wasn't too nice. I don't think we'll buy it. The climbing this should be good though. A bit of serious decompression at the end of the week followed by some hectic cycling tomorrow moring when we look at the next few houses.