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October's Journal
December's Journal

[12:25] Well blow me if there isn't a bomb scare in town at the moment. There are apparently two bombs set to go off at 14:00 today. I'll be in town at that time having a Thai as per usual. I'll take my camera in case something happens. If it turns out to be those bloody animal rights people I'm going to get exceedingly angry and see what can be done about getting them shut down. If it's normal terrorist (what a world) then there's nothing really to be done and that's that. I had an early meeting this morning which reaped a lot of very useful information. I'll have a think about it all, do the forms and stuff required and carry on again on Monday. Elaine's due this evening and eleven of us are off to Old Orleans this evening to have some good food, drink and company.

Saturday is intended to be a lazy morning, meeting up with Andy who's over from the US again and then some more relaxation and talking about recent developments with Elaine. Sunday will consist mainly of being relaxed and warm.

[14:25] No boom today.

[16:21] I hate trains, they suck so much. Why can we not have anything that runs on time for more than a few hours at a time? This means Elaine and I have to get a taxi from the station to our evening appointment rather than a nice walk through the night (and it's a lovely night here at the moment).
[11:40] Backups seemed to be fine, nicely enough. A few silly mistakes on my part, but it looks like we're up and running. The next thing to do is get the Roaming Profiles, Home and the general shares moved from non-RAID machines to this new one.

I'm off to look at a house for the second time with Shaun and a camera for picture taking, in a few minutes. Those of you who have the password can look at it on the gallery when I get back and upload the new ones.

[16:50] Well, a freaky day today. The viewing went O.K. and I'm damned glad I had Shaun there to point out all the things I missed. Still, the way things have gone this afternoon I feel a little rushed. I think I've done the right thing, though.
[16:50] Today I've been adding the new DC to the domain and sorting out all the silly little hacks you have to do to make it behave in a heterogeneous environment like this one. At the moment I'm just waiting on a reply from Central on how to get rid of that stupid 5774 Event ID which always gets me when I'm installing and configuring DNS.

I shifted all the five FSMO roles with no problem whatsoever and I've installed the backup software and all the updates etc. with no problems whatsoever, even if Computer Associates' regsitration and licensing procedures are completely arse.

Climbing last night was an experience. First time climbing with someone I've not seen in a while. Fairly odd and not really comfortable. Still, sometimes you just have to keep trying even when it's not the best thing in the world. Currently the best thing in the world is Elaine, because of the support and stuff she's giving me. Luckily I'm giving some back so it's rather well balanced. Sometimes things are nice like that, even in the middle of a time in life when a lot of things seem extremely uncertain.

I'm debating going climbing in London this evening. I'm really not sure I want to, but if I don't it's wasting money. Maybe I should cancel my direct debit membership there until things settle down a bit.

[19:00] I got busy with the new server and getting backup jobs running again. So I missed all the trains that were worth getting. I think I'll go home and actually have some tea for once. Hopefully there won't be too many problems with the backups in the morning. I think I'll leave a message for the PFY letting her know that a) I'll be in late and, b) she should check the backups and make modifications where necessary.

[15:50] Finally installing the PowerEdge 2400 this afternoon. We're using the Dell OpenManage installation CD with a slipstreamed Service Pack 3 CD. There was a minor issue with the version of the PERC2/Si driver, but that seems to have been resolved. We're joining it to the workgroup for the moment and patching it up to the nines. Once everything's installed we'll join it to the domain and start migrating people across to it.

House prices, mortgages and things like that have been bothering me today. Everything's so expensive and complicated and entwined with my life and the things I have to do to ensure I continue to function within it. I'm glad that I have Elaine and my parents and my other friends to fall back on when things get a little hard. I'm especially glad I have Elaine, without whom I think I'd have fallen back into depression again a long time ago.

[15:45] Monday. The laptop we wanted returned was done so while both the PFY and I were at lunch, which neatly avoided the confrontation I'm sure we would have had to deal with. We wanted to start the Windows 2000 Advanced Server install this morning but the CD we wanted was AWOL. I have no idea where it is.

I've got an ISO downloading (I consider it legitimate given that I own the license and media, I've just lost it) and should be up and running again in a few hours.

[16:00] I went to see a house over lunch (with the idea of buying it). It's nice but I'm not entirely sure I can afford the full asking price. I'll have to see what the mortgage people say.

[16:10] It's been a stupid, depressing, horrible day today. And it may get worse before it gets better. I'm trying to get this entry written before that happens. Aside from pretty much nothing happening today (which is depressing in and of itself) I've got problems with everyone's 'new' Eudora 6.0.1 installations. It seems that on download of new email the application locks up for at least twenty seconds before putting the email into the IN box. I have no idea why. I can't find any reason for it. The old version 5.2.1 which I had to upgrade from owing to a security vulnerability didn't have this problem so I don't think it's an issue with storing the Eudora data on the server rather than on the local hard drive. Maybe I'll do some investigation over the weekend.

To top it off there's a user who's had one of our laptops in their possession for a while now and has apparently stopped using it because it's 'broken'. This isn't good on it's own but they refuse to take the time to bring it back, citing being too busy or it being too hard. The thing is also out of insurance and frankly there are other people who'd like to use it. I've sent plenty of emails and have resorted to sending rather strongly-worded ones saying we Really Need It Back, Now. I've now been accused of being threatening and obstructive. Whenever this user comes into the office with a problem when they're in the building they're short-tempered and brusque, it's hard not to respond in the same manner when you're faced with that. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough, we are (this office) a service (organisation) after all. The user is always right, even when they're annoying.

Ah well, in no more than half an hour it won't matter until Monday at which point hopefully I'll have had a nice weekend (no Elaine though this weekend so it won't be that nice) and I'll be able to face this user without wanting to make their knees bend in the other direction.

[13:40] My day consisted of getting up at 08:25 because I was knackered after three hours of bouldering last night at The Castle. I was rather impressed, even if my hands weren't. They're not in a good way these days. I'm wondering what to do to help them toughen up and stop peeling so much. I've started doing fifty pressups and situps in the morning to get myself back into a shape that I'm happy with. I then went for a shower, dried using a white towel and looked in the mirror to contemplate a shave. I didn't in the end.

I headed downstairs and made some lunch, dropped it into my rucksack, had a quick drink of orange juice, put on my iPod and left the house.

My bike is starting to really need some attention now. I think the front bearings are going, or need oiling. My rear gears are quite badly fucked. The ride to work was normal. It was spitting though and I don't have my waterproof back from Keith yet (I left it in his Discovery at the weekend). I got to work and wandered upstairs. After some settling in one of the custodians asked me if I could get an LCD projector fixed after the end of term. The power switch is really beginning to sounds a little suspect. A little while later I started to think about upgrading the firmware in the server we're about to move from NT4 to W2K. Fed up of waiting for someone at Dell to get back to me with the most recent versions for all the bits of hardware inside the box I spent a few hours looking around and comparing version numbers. In the end I downloaded some files with likely-looking numbers attached and put them on floppies. I Upgraded the machine.

Everything worked, amazingly! I'll let the machine sit happily at its new firmware level until Monday and then reinstall it with W2K. Once that's done we can copy users' files and stuff onto it and have a better level of safety for files and things again. Having files on a backed up but non-RAID5 volume bothers me.

Tonight is standard Thursday: so we're up for watching X-Men: 2 and Dirty Harry (don't ask). Should be a lot of fun. I'm not sure what I'm going to do this afernoon until then. I'm sure I'll think of something. I've been looking at houses again and it looks like the most sensible thing to do is buy a house on my own for the moment. Unfortunately I can't afford something quite as good as I'd like on my own, but it makes things a lot more sensible in other ways. I'll start doing some serious research with the gratefully accepted help of Shaun later on this month.

It looks like it's going to rain quite heavily this afternoon and me without a waterproof. Good job the house will be warm, dry and full of fresh clothing when I get there this evening.

[14:30] Another fruitless morning. I really need some information from Dell but they're not getting back to me no matter how hard I prod them. I'll try again in a bit.

[16:50] I've managed to work out some information from Dell's overloaded-with-information download site. I think I have the version information for the bits I need before I upgrade to Windows 2000. Now all I need to do is move the backup job to another machine and do the actual install.

I'm also not sure whether to go to London to climb this evening. Climbing on my own tends to be a little depressing and I'm not sure I can justify the expense of getting down there if I'm not going to enjoy it.

[10:35] Well, Room 101 was a bit of a disappointment, barely any shots of me, and the conversations with the audience weren't used. Shame really. The PFY's off today looking after her baby so it's just me today.

[10:55] I'm debating climbing in London versus subjecting myself to almost four hours of The Two Towers this evening.

[16:55] What a complete waste of a day. I've done nothing constructive except have a conversation which did very little except maybe leave me feeling perhaps a bit less confused about things. I want to rebuild a friendship, or maybe start a new one with someone I used to know, but only for the right and possible reasons, not for the wrong or impossible ones. Until I can do that one hundred percent I can't and won't try to have it. There's still niggly things in my head that are getting in the way of the happiness I want.

I'm so extremely lucky to have someone very special in my life who is giving me the chance to work things out in my own time, and it would be the best thing in the world to present her with the complete person I know I can be. I'm trying my hardest, but it's taking too long.

At least I know that I've come a long way since this time last year. Who knows what the next year will bring in my development. I dearly hope to share my improvements with her.

[18:25] Aren't some people wonderful. You should really hang on to those people who shine through their actions, thoughts and deeds. They are the people to whom you can become closest. Nothing is perfect in this life. No one person is the perfect person for you and it takes effort to maintain a relationship. I never really got that before I don't think (or I don't remember). I'll do better this time.

[17:50] I knew I'd forgotten to do something today. Thing is this window's been obscured by my DVD player which has been playing the scratched disk from my second Babylon 5 Season 3 box set. Seems no-one's been sent a copy without at least one disk being loose and scratched to buggery. I've played my scratched disk from beginning to end today and it seems to be O.K. so I'm not going to ask for a second replacement. It just doesn't seem worth it as the next one to arrive may be worse.

A stunning weekend was had, with Elaine and I and Keith heading to Peterborough to see Andrea (no Ellie unfortunately) and see Jasper Carrot and Phil Cool. Although both of them looked tired and there was no new material it was great to see them on stage and have the social event. After the show we all headed to see a blues band (one guy) who turned out to be someone Elaine knew in from a good few years ago from a band one of her ex-boyfriends was in. Small world. Saturday was spent wandering around the market in Peterborough where I bought some honey as well as us gorging ourselves on ostrich burgers, pork, crackling and stuffing from a spit-roast pig and chocolate-covered waffles. Extremely fattening, but very very nice. After all was done three of us headed to Peterborough's climbing wall for a few hours before we drove home and had a nice relaxing evening. I think I left my waterproof and honey in Keith's car so a) I'm going to get wet going home this evening and, b) I'm down a pot of honey for the moment.

Elaine stayed over last night and headed home very very early this morning on the train after which I went home and then fell asleep for an hour, leaving me an hour late for work. Luckily the PFY was late too so that was O.K. I'm so tired now that I'm going to go home, watch Stargate SG-1 and the Room 101 at 21:00 on BBC2 (which you'll see me in the audience for) and the go to bed.

[12:10] Elaine arrived last night as we were watching The 9th Gate. What an odd film. It really could have done with finishing in a much more safisfactory way. But never mind. Getting up this morning was a real difficulty. Aside from having someone else warm in the bed I had a monster stomachache. I think it was the cheese on the pizza I had last night. Or the fact that I was so hungry that I ate a nine inch pizza in less than five minutes.

Off to lunch now with her outdoors and a few others. There'll be a little work done this afternoon then I'm off early to see Phil and Jasper.

[15:00] Afternoon a write-off. So I'm off.

[15:55] Whew, what a day. From the get-go I've been fiddling with HFNetChkPro (which still doesn't register when patches have been pushed out) and feeling pleased that the two servers I rebooted overnight were actually alive when I got in at 07:30 this morning. It's the first time I've done that in a while. I was so tired this morning after climbing last night in the freezing cold that I really didn't want to get out of bed but the idea of sloping in later on to find that people had been doing things without a server to back them up got me out of bed, into the shower, dressed and to work in time to find out everything had been fine anyway.

I got an email from our intrusion detection people today saying some of my machines had been heavily probed over the last twenty-four hours. I run a pretty tight ship here so I don't know as there's any chance of being broken into. It was worrying to know that people on China Telecom are looking at me from across the way and probing my ports, as it were. I wonder if the BOFHcam caught their attention, or the O'Really designs.

Anyway, the main thrust of today's efforts have been directed (successfully I believe at this point) towards a secure and SEcure remote up/download mechanism for my Windows servers. With the aid of Michael Johnson's OpenSSH for Windows (which uses a minimal Cygwin installation) and the helpful people on the SSH-l list I believe I now have a) a secure Windows server and, b) an SFTP-only access method for all users in the domain. Of course, it required a shed-load of work at the back end to get my fairly vanilla server to the stage where I'd be happy to let any user and their dog access it, but I think I have it at the stage where this is 99% certain. I'd say 100% but this is Windows and it's me who configured it.

It's time to write the documentation and tell the users that the service exists now. I've already taken some screen shots with my favourite application (WinSCP) and just have to do the web page they're going to go on.

[17:35] It's the end of a long day, I've done a lot today and I'm fairly happy with the results. Time will tell whether I'm about to be cracked to hell and back, we'll just have to see. As it is Elaine arrives tonight during the usual Thursday: activities. We're off to see Jasper Carrot supported by Phil Cool tomorrow in Peterborough (bit of a drive!) but it'll be good to get out and see some people. Anyway, time to start closing things down for the day.

[11:50] Microsoft Patch day, plus a Eudora vulnerability I need to address. I'm a bit busy at the moment.

[15:45] So I think I've got everything I can scheduled for tonight. There should be some rebootings happening over night which should mean we're all secure by the morning.

[16:20] I was going to write some more here but I got caught up in providing SCP/SFTP access to a Windows NT4 server for the users. Don't ask me why. I'm not sure I'm going to turn it on.

[11:10] Idiots. Stupid idiots. So an email goes out saying they'll sound the fire alarm to mark the two minutes silence at 11:00. I don't think this is particularly a problem, until 11:00 when it goes off a) late and b) for more than a few seconds (in fact two and a half minutes). People are confused, there's lots of chatter, there is absolutely no silence. How're we supposed to remember the sacrifice and bloodshed of the past when there's an ultra-loud three-tone warble in our ears.

[15:30] Got some keys cut (finally) at lunch time and ended up looking at DVD players and LCD televisions. Met up with Julian and wandered around while he bought another of those radio TV transmitters for home use so you can pipe your antennae, cable or DVD output to TVs all over the house. If there was more than just me in the building I'd probably do it. But for the moment there isn't. Plus I'm trying to save money at the moment.

[11:10] Damnit! My Babylon 5 Series 3 box set has arrived, and two of the discs were loose so they're scratched to buggery. Can't the manufactures and packers at the plant learn to press them in firmly before wrapping them? As it is I have to post it back to Jersey (Jersey for heaven's sake!) recorded delivery before Play will send out another one. I'm annoyed.

You might have seen (had you been looking) myself and Elaine here on BOFHcam yesterday (Sunday) afternoon as we waited to have a PC and a 19" rack picked up by Neal and Will. We popped in, I showed her around and we generally tried to keep warm as the temperature dropped more quickly than the setting sun.

[16:00] According to the news articles I've been reading it looks like there are very few people with a copy of the new Babylon 5 box set who don't have one or two scratched discs.

[17:50] I've done bugger all today. What a waste of time. I needn't have come in to be honest. Yesterday better be an improvement or I'm just going to write off the whole week. Luckily Thursday evening is going to be wonderful because Elaine's turning up, so that's O.K. We're off to see Phil Cool and Jasper Carrot on Friday so she's taking the day off. Marvellous.
[14:50] I can't believe the gall of some people. They come in asking for obscure operations in Microsoft Word and still can't be arsed to bring in the laptop we've been waiting for for months. And they say it's "broken". How the bloody hell are we supposed to fix it or give it to someone else if it's just sitting at home? Stupid woman just stands there demanding more without giving anything back. I know we're a service but there has to be some 'give' to match the 'take'.

Other than that I've been working on trying to get a duff direct debit cancelled with my bank. It's never been collected on so although my internet banking lists it as 'active' it's actually not, but it is 'registered' so it can't be deleted until the company who set it up take something out on it, which they won't as they and I set up another one because the first one (that one) never took. The helpdesk woman seemed to be reading from a script and wouldn't tell me anything I could do to remedy the situation. It looks like it's going to sit there until I close my bank account now. In fact if I move my account it may even move with the others.

After my transatlantic telephone call to Shavlik yesterday I was submitting logs this morning but still have no joy from those on the other side of the Atlantic. Still, the job I manually frobbed the registry for yesterday appears to have worked a treat and deleted itself, which is nice.

[18:20] Hmm, even though I've updated the IE version of a few machines so that they're using Task Scheduler instead of AT they're still not reporting back to the HFNetChkPro server. And this is with the reboot job thingy as well. Oh well, I'll take another look on Monday. At the moment I'm about to reboot the building (all the W2K machines) to install the last of the important fixes but I'm waiting on the AO to go home first. This'll also get round all the machines asking for an update of Office 2000 from the Intellimirror point at the wrong time, too.

I'm off to see The Matrix: Revolutions this evening, but not until 23:30. It's a good job I don't live more than two minutes walk from the cinema or I'd be shattered by the time I got home. Elaine's due in town in a few hours (hence why I'm still at work) and we're off to a party on Saturday which should be interesting to say the least.

[19:40] I've not worked this late in ages. It's great for getting things done. Rebooting fifty machines and having them contact a single machine for Office 2000 can do horrible things to your network. I'm sure it's what caused some applications to go screwy for a few minutes there. Still, all over now.

[13:10] I've spent the morning looking at HFNetChkPro and getting peeved at its inability to reschedule/modify or otherwise delete jobs on client machines. I'm due to ring Shavlik directly this afternoon and open up a support call with them.

[13:20] In an effort to fix a mistake I made in not having the Scheduler service running when the machines reboot a job set for this morning didn't run. This has left things up in the air a bit so I've been trying to get the job cancelled, only HFNetChkPro won't/doesn't send cancel commands to the client machines to delete those at commands sent out. This is annoying. I decided to reschedule it for tomorrow but owing to the way Shavlik work I can't even use WinAT as the command line is too long. In the end I went in to each of the (luckily only) fifteen machines and hacked the registry to change it to tomorrow morning at the same time. With luck and a following wind everything should be OK tomorrow morning. Gah. I only hope AT deletes the job on successful execution.

[11:15] Apparently the film The Matrix: Revolutions opens today. Someone's booking tickets for a group of us to see it on Friday at some unsociable hour of the night. At least there'll be a chance of there being no homeless drunks in it like there was in the showing of Bad Boys II I went to see last night. Not only were they loud, they were smoking drinking and walking around. Had I actually been bothered I could have caused them problems, but the film was so entertaining I didn't want to miss any going to find someone to eject them from the screen. If you like action and stuff you'll like Bad Boys II. Oh, and there's almost a plot.

This morning I've only just managed to finish emailing right this minute. It's been non-stop and I'm missed out on a maintenance window, when I was going to reboot some machines. Still I can always stay late one evening and do it then.

Anyone in the UK who wants to see me looking mildly stunned can tune in on Monday 17 November to see me in the audience for Room 101 on BBC2. The guest is Linda Smith. Both of the people who hopefully make it into the final cut of the show are friends of mine. No, that's not Elaine sitting next to me.

[17:20] I'm off to see the fireworks this evening rather than going climbing. Socialising will be great. I may see some people I've not seen in ages. Part of me wants to go climbing but the chances of getting hit by a rocket on the train or in London are significant so, frankly, I won't. I'm also booked to see the Matrix film thing on Friday night at 23:30 or something. That should be a nice distracting couple of hours. It'll be easier than getting down to a UCI cinema anyway, even if they are better. First impressions are that it's really not lived up to the potential it had, but never mind.

Between now and the fireworks I'm off to meet someone and find out some distressing news. I hope there's a light at the end of the tunnel for those concerned. I'd say more, but it's private. Suffice to say it's not been a fun time for other people.

[11:40] I've been getting lost in a maze of Windows 2000 ADS intricacies, all alike and all very vital in some way. We're looking to reinstall the first Windows 2000 server we did (in a little while) and the Global Catalog (sic) and all the FSMO roles need moving as well as making sure the DNS is up to date, etc.

Aside from a little confusion in the AD-intergrated _underscore domains (specifically gc._msdcs.[...] not having two entries for the two GCs we have now) everything seems to be fine at the moment. Part of me likes fiddling about with this stuff, the rest of me is mildly scared I'm going to cock something up quite badly.

[12:10] Still, this is how you learn and I'm nothing if not wanting to learn at the moment. Life has become a little more interesting at the moment with the news last night that my rent's going up by £100 in January. This is not entirely unexpected but renders me a bit more out of pocket per month than I would be otherwise. Luckily my Student Loan repayments stop in April (some £73) so with those, and a bit of belt-tightening and the money from my T-shirts I should be back to the same place again. Not great really as I should be stacking cash away to help me buy a house, but the other options aren't really great, even if they're doable.

[12:40] I think I'll start looking for a house, find out what my mortgage options are in terms of prices. If nothing else I can learn how to actually buy a house.

[14:45] Another month came to an end and with it the last month when I have to (hopefully) do Windows updates by hand. We'll be rolling it out on a few machines first of all (three workstations to be exact) to make sure they don't go tits-up and then we'll begin scheduling updates overnight on a rolling basis.

The weekend was pretty good when we decided not to actually do any climbing and instead just have a nice relaxing time. We popped out to see the Alien Director's Cut (given it's 25th Anniversary) and had the enjoyment of seeing it in glorious 70mm projection, something I would have never have seen at any other time owing to my age. Oddly it was certificated as a 15. Other than that I let Elaine sleep for most of Sunday and caught up with some reading. Given how much we try to cram into weekends it was actually nice to take some time to take time for once.

I still need to get some quotes for Norton Ghost 2003 (Enterprise?) before we go ahead and buy it from someone. Maybe this time we'll get the right number of licenses first time.

[15:15] OK so it's not Norton Ghost 2003, it's Symantec Ghost 7.5 Corporate Edition. Only version 8.0 is due out soon. Do I wait or do I not?