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December's Journal
February's Journal

[10:50] Last night was marvellous. Cycled home in an absolute blizzard of snow in the dark. Frankly I wasn't expecting anyone to turn up but two people did as I was making a snowball about a meter across. We ate Chinese, watched The Bourne Identity and then Scrubs. The weather closed in so as one person left to go and do his tax return the other took the spare bedroom and some hot chocolate and stayed the night.

I took my time cycling in this morning as the roads were treacherous. The whole population of the city seems to have become photographers but I still managed to get some shots I think others might have missed. I even got a picture of me writing my name in the snow.

As things stand I'm going to go for a Thai at lunch and then head off for the afternoon; don't want to be caught away from home if things turn bad again, especially on a Friday. Might go to the cinema. As it is there's only me and the Administrative Officer in today.

Did I mention that he's leaving in May (beginning of). I hope I have a new job by then or am on my way to getting one. Not sure I want another new boss. So anyway, I'm off to change the doors to lock at 16:00 today, and then work out if there's anything I can usefully do today. I doubt it.

[11:10] Actually, I think I'll be leaving earlier than I thought. There are large chunks of ice leaving the building at the top and dropping straight onto *crunch* lower parts of the building (like my skylights). It's very disconcerting and I'd rather not be here in case a heavy chunk breaks through.

[12:55] Snow! Lots of snow. Marvellous. I'm going cycling in it for lunch.

[14:15] Bracing, and so great. I was a cycling snowman by the time I got to my lunching place. Met up with a few other IT people and had an enjoyable time watching other people battling through the snow. My bike was encrusted during the time I was eating and cycling back was even better as there was a real blizzard going on. Excellent.

[17:15] It's not completely boring, but working through these machines, installing Windows 2000 again and again is kind of repetitious. I think it's almost time to go home. There is something vaguely pleasant about removing NT 4 (even though it's stood me in good stead for years) and installing a reasonably up-to-date operating system that actually supports USB and slightly more modern hardware. It's just a shame it's even more bloated in places.

[10:50] It never rains, but it pours. And I'm actually also talking about the weather. Bloody miserable outside today. Not stunning at all. I wouldn't say things were much better inside either. Things change, and they change in ways you never thought and hoped they would. But there's only the now and the to be to work with. More and more the past is another country that it's not worth visiting if I'm going to go there on my own. It's hard to think about what has been if there's no-one to smile about it with.

I think it's much more likely than not that in a while things are going to get better than worse, but I think there's a good few new and painful experiences coming and everything's different now. I don't particularly like what life is. It's nothing I would have chosen, but it's the way things are. So long as it's not just me making the effort to keep things good, I think things may eventually work out.

[11:10] Damn. I've just heard that a good friend's mother passed away this Sunday. He doesn't read the Journal, and I doubt it's something we'll ever mention it in conversation so I guess this is my only chance to offer my heartfelt condolences.

[11:50] One machine done today (would have been done yesterday, but I had to re-do the image for that type of machine), next one on the mutating block.

[15:40] Machine two of the day done, and ancilliary software also slapped on. I love standard images. They make things so much easier. As does centralised profiles and server-based filestores. Slowly but surely this place is becoming just a little more sane.

[16:15] Can anyone tell me when they last had some kind of communication with anyone at Copyleft, please?

[18:45] As if in answer to my plea, Copyleft have responded. I'm very happy to state that Copyleft are still running. Those of you in the US are still welcome to order from them and your orders will be honoured. Go for it.

[11:10] Another day plods on. I've got some machines lined up for doing things to today, but nothing spectacular. I need something else happening to keep me from dying of boredom.

I miss having someone to always chat to and share stuff with.

With luck there'll be some more climbing this evening (always good), and I'm sure I'll come up with something else to do as and when. I must resist watching my recently arrived Family Guy Season 2 DVDs at work.

[11:00] So the weekend, yeah? Rather good.

On Friday I went climbing to loosen up some of the tension and stress I've been feeling recently. Haven't really got any other outlet at the moment. So I got there and started climbing on the boulder wall at the back... and every climb I did came off, first time. It was amazing; I don't think I climbed anything under a 5B all evening. Best set of routes ever. Unfortunately I overstretched myself a few times and ended up locking my right calf and wrenching the entire right side of my neck, but it was a great evening.

Rather than go home I wandered over to Holborn by Tube and spend the remainder of the evening with friends in a pub before kipping at their house for the night. We intended to head back to my place in the morning to pick up a monitor and have some fun in town... Only SQL Slammer hit in the morning. By ten I'd joined my friend in his workplace and by early afternoon we were in a co-lo facility using ping and ARP tables to locate noisy Windows boxen. I had the distinct pleasure in removing connectivity from a good few myself.

By the time that was over it was getting towards evening so we headed for my place with back-to-back I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue on the iPod providing the soundtrack to a nice drive. We got a Chinese, watched some DVDs and generally took the load off after a busy day.

Everyone slept late on Sunday before we drove back to London where I was dropped off back at the Castle again. I took it a bit easier this time around and spent some time talking to people. In the end I headed home and caught a late-running train which got me in roughly the same time as a friend. We wandered home, had some food and she headed home. All in all a fairly fun weekend.

This morning's consisted of winnowing down Slammer information to something I can actually use (I only have SQL 7's MSDE 1.0 here), fixing some vague errors which don't appear to want to appear when you need them and being about to place some orders for printers and mice and such.

[15:10] Oddly, as Slammer didn't affect MS SQL 7/MSDE 1.0, Central have decided not to act upon information I've sent them which may prevent any further network-based attacks against servers running either the above or MS SQL 2000/MSDE 2000. I wonder why.

I've been moving people over to the webmail service slowly but surely here. I think it's really rather impressive (HTTPS based) and makes my job a hell of a lot easier for all kinds of reasons. As it is I've got to get on with converting more machines to Windows 2000 today and for the rest of this week.

[17:05] A little more clarification on the whole Central thing. They don't want to use my advice at present (if at all) because frankly official policy and the different levels of sysadmin out there would make it rather difficult to construct some kind of coherent coverage thingy. Especially when anything put down on the web site is What You Should Do and anything going wrong will result in their heads. I can live with that. Once I have the time I'll construct my own test bed and do the stuff myself.

[11:15] Again with the Friday. Having some people to stay over on Saturday, kind of a return visit for last weekend. They're picking up a monitor, we're going shopping. That kind of thing. I had been planning to go away for the weekend, but had to cancel that. This makes up for it. Will be climbing this evening and on Sunday afternoon, hopefully make it nice and early so I get home at a nice sane time.

[15:40] Hmm, just had some really nasty shooting pains in my left forearm. It better not be anything serious or I'm going to be very angry. I've stopped all typing with it for the rest of the day. Saw friend off for the weekend at the station and walked back to work. Reinstalled a machine which was misbehaving; I still love Ghost an awful lot. As it is I've going to do the same thing again to two other machines on Monday.

As other people have said that climbing's good for the arms I'm going to go this evening. If nothing else it fills up some time, which is always good. Plus it gives me some required reading time on the trains there and back.

[12:10] Life continues to continue with me being dragged along behind. I'm pretty sure I'm getting the hang of it sometimes, then something silly happens. I understand why things happen, but I'm not pleased with the reasons. Or the outcomes.

On the up side I've booked my flight to Orlando to see the Shuttle launch in May this year. Got the cheapest flight I could and am heading out on 19 May and back on 26 May. Meeting up with an ex-pat friend out there and hoping to have a damned good time for a week.

[12:30] Been applying hotfixes to servers this morning, and probably to workstations this afternoon. Today is Thursday so it's Thursday evening DVDs again. Must send the email out.

[16:00] I've spent a large chunk of this afternoon having reasoned debates with people over the reasons for and potentiality of a war in Iraq. Stimulating stuff.

[17:40] I've just ordered a Powerball. Just for a laugh.

[11:15] Crazy, crazy mixed up kid. That's me. So wrong.

Went climbing last night to sort my head out. By 10:00 this morning I was back to square one. Go figure. Still, at least I'm not ill any more. The main web server is making odd noises so I've got to schedule some down-time to work out which bit of it is about to go crunch. I hope it's only a fan.

I'm finding it hard to get stuff done again. Had this before, but things are harder nowadays. Damn, forgot this evening's Stargate DVD. Have to go via my house tonight.

[09:45] So the weekend was pretty great. Or at least Saturday was. I got up raring to go and then waited around until my travel partner dragged themselves out of bed. We headed into London and wandered over to Bodyworlds on Brick Lane where a short queue got us inside within half an hour. I have to say that it's really not gruesome at all, and the only things which really gave me pause were some of the foetuses which had defects. It was educational and very enlightening.

Once we'd finished there we took a tube ride over to Marble Arch for pizza before meeting up with a few others to see the Star Trek Adventure. Totally cheesy, and completely commercialised but a lot of fun. That took a few hours.

Last but not least two of us headed for the Green Man near Portland Street to meet up with friends from all over the place and for me to do a few seconds networking with some LLUG people who were having a meet upstairs.

All Saturday I'd not been feeling too hot (put it down to nerves), but by the evening (staying at someone's house in London for the evening) I was a wreck. I didn't get a minute's sleep and in the end left the house around 08:30 in the morning before anyone else had stired.

Back home I actually felt so cold that I put the heating on and three layers and just sat with a warm laptop on my knees watching television. As I got steadily worse I asked someone to come over to a) drop off some supplies and, b) give me some company. I want to really thank them for taking the time and effort to make the journey and give me the support I needed when, frankly, I felt like death. It's hard not to like someone who does that a lot.

Eventually they headed off and I went to bed. Oddly I slept really easily and well and woke on Monday feeling... not well, but a hell of a lot better. I wasn't good enough to go into work so I spent the morning doing stuff before heading over to someone else's place to stop from feeling the effects of cabin-fever. Left their place around 22:30 and came home.

This morning I've come in to work mostly because I need to get some things done and also because if I stay home I'll feel lonely and want to visit someone, and I think I've done enough of that for the moment. If they want to see me, they can.

[16:00] I hate Windows, and specifically hotfix Q329170 for Windows 2000. I should never have gotten into this today, but I was damned if someone was going to go without a laptop and start causing my assistant strife tomorrow. No fecking way. Not this time. I've stuck in a work-around which offends my sensibilities, but frankly at the moment I don't really care. Once I've ghosted this incarnation to the server I'm going to individualise this bastard laptop and get the hell out. I'm going to go to a bookshop on my way home and buy a present and then see what the evening brings.

[21/01/03 - 09:30] Was ill Sunday and Monday, more in the next entry.

[11:15] So I came off my bike this morning. It's a corner I've done hundreds of times in all kinds of weather, only this time it was either a bit greasier than normal, or my tyres need cleaning, or something. Either way I decked out most supremely (no-one came to see if I was O.K.), tore a smallish hole in my coat, bent my glasses and got a few cuts and grazes (see the BOFHcam for the next few days). I hobbled in to town to get the glasses bent back into shape and then headed in to work. Everything aches, but I don't have someone to soothe my fevered brow, feed me grapes or work out what the ringing in my ears is all about, so I may as well just keep on trucking. Climbing tonight, which should take my mind off things.

Thursday last night was good. Today I try to upgrade the Apple eMac we were fiddling with yesterday. More DVDs arrived today: The Bourne Identity, The Dish and a few others. Will be hoping to watch TBI as soon as possible, maybe this evening when I get home from climbing.

[12:20] I've just noticed there's a new version of WinSCP available. This is the best Windows SCP client available at the moment, in my opinion. Use it, spread it around, send loads of constructive comments to my pal prikryl.

[15:15] My face aches.

[18:25] Going home. Should have gone earlier.

[12:30] Installed two machines this morning, solved what turned out to be a typo error which was causing all manner of problems in the ADS and am just about to start on a Windows 98 laptop which is going to become a spangly new Windows 2000 laptop before too long. Productive morning. Shame the DVD I wanted hasn't arrived.

Nearly lunch time.

[17:10] Had a nice lunch, but ended up spending a long time trying to get the new eMac to boot and install MacOS 9. It's installed now and all that's required is to upgrade the software, install a decent email client and some kind of SSH client. As it is it's Thursday and I need to go home and get ready for Thursday events.

[11:30] Not much happening this morning. Got a few machines lined up for reinstallation, having to wait on things other people are doing for the moment. Letter through the door this morning mentioned that the TV License people are going to be wandering through my neighbourhood "soon". I took the opportunity to visit their web site and get my license moved from the old place to the new one.

Have someone coming in tomorrow afternoon to help me install MacOS 9.2.2 onto a new eMac. Yes, I know I should be installing OSX but the user doesn't want it and frankly I don't know enough to look after an OSX box while doing the other stuff that needs doing here, right now.

[12:15] Have asked for an application form for a Unix sysadmin post. I'm fairly sure I won't even be shortlisted, and it's with people I know, which'll be hard to take. But if they don't think I can do the job then at least I'll know I was turned down by people who know my skillset, rather than by people who thought I didn't perform well at interview.

[15:15] Installation time. If they all go like this I should be able to leave on time and get round to my friends' for Stargate SG-1 this evening.

[17:55] First install came off without a hitch. Just got to install the mail client, now.

[18:15] Damnit, why isn't Mulberry registering stuff? Home, I think.

[11:45] Another day, another few machines to install. I've finally cracked why some of my linux boxes weren't letting people log in via password. While many of them have OpenSSH installed via RPM, the two which are playing up (found a second one yesterday, had been using keys previously) were manually installed. I think I forgot the --with-pam option the last time I upgraded. Oops.

[12:55] Hopefully going to lunch soon, if the person I'm meeting wakes up. Also hoping to go climbing (not long distance) this evening.

[15:15] Just playing my new CD purchases from the weekend. The first one's only a set of Mozart's better pieces (nothing Great Work-like) but some nice stuff nontheless.

[12:00] Right then, back in work. I've decorated my best pair of jeans with laserjet toner this morning, not good. Other than that I've been doing some quotation hunting for the 2004 Discworld Convention T-shirt runs. Hopefully things should come back by close of play today.

I've moved a few machines this morning, tried to fix a PC or two and caught up on all kinds of things (like invoices for stuff we haven't had done). Tonight I'm off to do a bit of climbing (again, can't get enough).

[12:35] Bought a whole load of stuff in the January sales for some reason. Had a really excellent day yesterday, for all kinds of reasons. Ended up trying a T-shirt that was far too small but didn't half look bad on me. I do like climbing, does wonders for the body. Got some other clothing including a great fleece jumper which is marvellous and some CDs (already ripped).

Ordered my new futon today. Delivery date is apparently 2-3 weeks unfortunately but I don't really mind. All I have to think about is whether the landlady will mind removing the 'sofa' I have at the moment to make room for it. I can't believe I'm buying furniture.

[15:30] Day 5, the last day. Lots of stuff on SSH, NFS and the automounter today. Oh, the dangers of extra spaces in /etc/exports, what fun. It's been a good week, I've upgraded my knowledge for free and had a nice break from such things as dying printers, user requests for more printing quota and Windows in general. Back to the grindstone on Monday.

For the moment though I'm going to enjoy the course and then climbing this evening. I would go to the pub, but climbing'll be a bit more active after sitting at a desk all day.

[15:40] Day 4 of the course. Dump and restore, /etc/fstab and assorted other gubbins including services, cron and kernel updates via rpm. All very exciting. The perils of ext3 labels was explained to me for the first time and the ease of moving partitons about the place. Now we're onto inodes.

[16:45] Hmmm, annoying exercise with fsck. The only winning move is not to play (use the -y flag). Kind of thrown in and expected to not understand but don't worry about it. Kind of frustrating.

[14:30] Sysadmin course, day 3. This morning was the package management system and then a refresher on basic network concepts. Just before lunch there was a rather fiendish exercise involving 'dig' the +norecursive flag and trying to find the PTR record for a random machine on the Internet give it's address. Luckily I managed to get my head around doing my own recursive lookups and had the thing done in about five minutes. Makes your brain work, though.

As I said last night, climbing was good, only I think I'm beginning to damage my right knee. We'll see what happens on Friday when I go again.

Here's a little something my friend Koos pointed out to me this morning. I've mirrored it here so his server doesn't get hammered.

[14:00] Day 2 on the course. This morning has been rather packed, with lots of information on the linux boot sequence (including grub and lilo), the run levels and rc scripts. I've spent a lot of the time when I knew what was being explained trying to work on Fotopic which is something you should all be using. Especially if you have digital cameras.

Climbing this evening. Should be cool.

[23:40] And indeed, climbing was cool. Fell asleep on the train home, though.

[13:55] So I'm on the first day of the linux admin course. We're doing installations at the moment and for some reason the Ultra5 can't deal with forty simultanious NFS connections all trying to slurp down a RH8.0 install. As a result we've had to stagger the installs (I was in the first batch) and do lunch over the course of two hours. It's not been too bad. I like the people doing the course (they're from Central) and the whole thing's rather relaxed. I've actually been on the course before (the very first time it was run) so a lot of this stuff's old hat. Still, it's good to keep up to date.

I went climbing again this Sunday gone and am getting rather frustrated that there's no-one else around at the moment to go climbing with. I don't like just doing bouldering (as much as it improves my technique) I need someone to belay me. I think I've gotten someone to come with me tomorrow evening, which is helpful, will let you know how it goes.

As things stand at the moment I've changed to a virtual console during the installer sequence and chrooted to the installer image so I can use ssh to update the journal for all you lucky people. It looks like the server's starting to respond again so I better get back to it...

[16:40] And here I am now in full-on GUI mode. I have to say I'm very impressed with the font smoothing you get nowadays. Gnome seems to have done some very nice things with fonts (as has KDE) and even takes into account the fact that some people have LCD screens. Funnily enough the machines we're all on here are Pentium 4 2GHz machines with Matrox G550 cards and 17" Iiyama LCD monitors. It makes for a rather nice user experience.

[11:30] Got a list of things to do today. Top of this list is why the hell one of the .msp files for Office 2000 Service Pack 3 won't apply to the administrative install I have here. It's... most vexing. Other than that there's the various problems with Mac OS 10 and 9 I need to sort out, email to set up for people before 13:00 and swipe cards to activate.

[16:55] Burning CDs take forever when the device keeps defaulting to x2 speed. That sucks. I really should have gone home by now, but frankly there's nothing to do there but watch telly, so I'll stay here and do something useful.

[10:00] Welcome to 2003. I'm in work, are you?

[11:25] There's no-one else here today. A couple of staff, sure, but not really anyone at all. It was absolutely pissing it down this morning.

[11:55] Just remembered that I'm on a sysadmin course for the whole of next week. With luck I should be able to do jounal updates from the course. I don't recall whether they kill external access or not. I'm sure I can find somewhere to get an SSH session from though, at some point.