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[13:00] I sit here, waiting for the backup system to send the automated "here are the tapes to change this week" email. Everyone else has gone home for Christmas. I'm almost alone in the building. Still, it means the music is loud and the overly large amount of wine I had at the nibbles-and-drinks thingy an hour or so ago is keeping me in a good mood. As it is I think I will get the tapes changed... (the email's just come in and I've printed it out) and then head off to the gym and then home for showering and so forth. I have someone to have dinner with this evening, which is nice.

Last night was the last Thursday: before Christmas and all through the house not a thing was there stirring except for that stupid cold draft down the stairs. I'm pretty sire it's all from the window at the top but there's no real way to block it at the moment. Hopefully I'll get a curtain or something up soonish and ensure that the house is nice and warm for the remaining winter months next year and beyond. Anyway, it was lovely to see a few people before they went off to do their own things.

So, yeah, Christmas. I'm off to my parents' for Christmas as there's a long-standing plan for everyone to come to my parents' house the Christmas of the year my father retired (May just gone). This means my brother and I will be sleeping on the floor for about a week, but such is life. It'll be nice to be with family for a while. I'll be coming back on the 31st and home for the new year, whatever that brings (it could be anything at this point).

It's highly possible I'll be doing Journal updates from Manchester over the festive period, but that may be subject to being told to get off the PC and to come and be sociable. I'm taking my laptop anyway, I'm sure there'll be some unsecured wi-fi somewhere nearby by Boxing Day. On the offchance that I don't do any updates between now and whenever, everyone have a fabulous time with your respective loved ones, or, if you're on your own that you still have a lovely time enjoying the period of rest, relaxation and enjoyment of slightly finer things. Spoil yourself, if new year is as quiet as mine may be I'm going to be drinking a beer and enjoying the sounds of Jools Holland's Hootenanny.

Seeya, most likely in just over a week.

[18:00] OK, late one again today. Spent the morning doing very little at all. There really is nothing to do here at the moment. As a result the height of the excitement was getting someone to come and collect the 19" rack we don't need any more because it's a bastard to lead with anything. As it doesn't fit under any door frames that required all kinds of rackular contortions to make it out of the building.

Following that I sat around for a while and did some documentation while my one remaining co-worker fettled the internal work wiki to have a mildly festive theme. We have that little to do. Joel eventually arrived from the frozen North and we went to a) pick up some BBC computer kit, b) the switches from my house and, c) have a (late) pub lunch. He dropped me back at work and I've been fiddling with shell scripts and emailing ever since. Now it's time to go home and have the last Thursday: of the year and incidently Elaine's last one ever before she toddles off South.

[17:30] I wouldn't normally paste something like this into my journal but, well, I wanted to. And although the grammar is mildly off and generally the standard of punctuation isn't excellent (like either of mine ever are) I just wanted to give it some more air time. It's not mine. I present:
Why Geeks and Nerds Are Worth It...

In the wide world of dating, there are many options. Do you go for the flashy guy with the smooth smile, or the dude in the corner typing away on his laptop? The following are reasons why I think my fellow females should pay more attention to the quiet geeks and nerds, and less attention to the flashy boys.

1) While geeks and nerds may be awkward, they're well-meaning 9 out of 10 times. That smooth dude with the sly grin and the spider hands? Wonder what HIS intentions are... plus, I've never had a geek guy not call me when he said he would. Score major points THERE.

2) They're useful. In this tech-savvy world, it's great to have a b/f who can make your laptop, desktop, and just about anything else that plugs into a wall behave itself.

3) They're more romantic than they're given credit for. Ok true, their idea of romance might be to make up a spiffy web-page with all the reasons why they love you, with links to pics of you and sonnets and such... but hey. It lasts longer than flowers, plus you can show your friends.

4) Due to their neglected status, there are plenty to choose from. You like em tall and slender? There are plenty of geeks/nerds who are. You like em smaller with more meat on their bones? Got that too.

5) They've got brains. Come on now, how can intelligence be a bad thing?

6) Most are quite good at remembering dates. Like birthdates and such, especially if they know it'll make you happy. Due again to their neglected status, they're more attentive than guys who have more options. Plus, with all that down time without a steady girlfriend, they'll likely have mental lists of all the things they'd love to do once they GOT a girlfriend.

7) Sex. Yep. Sex. I'm not really familiar with this myself, but I've friends who've been intimate with geek guys and its raves all around. They say a virgin wrote the Kama Sutra... all that time thinking about sex, imagining sex, dreaming about sex, (they are male after all) coupled with a desire to make you happy? Use your imagination.

8) They're relatively low-maintenance. Most can be fueled on pizza, Twinkies and Mt Dew. No complicated dinners needed here, so if youre not the best cook, eh. Can you order a pizza?

9) Most frequent bars as often as slugs frequent salt mines. You won't have to worry much about your geek guy getting his groove on with club hotties because, frankly, he'll be too busy rooting around under his computer wondering where that spare cable went. You wont have to worry about him flirting with other women because, 9 out of 10 times, he'll zip right by them in a perfect b-line towards the nearest electronics store. I've seen this happen.
Me: Eww. Victoria Secrets Models... They're so skinny. How is that feminine? You can see her ribs!
Geek Guy: ooooooo...
Me: Hey! *notices he is staring lustfully towards the computer store*
Geek Guy: What?
Me: Never mind...

10) Although he may not want to go to every outing with you, you can arrange swaps, as in, you'll go to his Gamer Con dressed as an elf princess if he'll take you to the ballet. Plus, if he doesnt want to go someplace with you, you won't have to worry much about what hes up to. You'll probably come home to find him asleep on his keyboard in a sea of Mt. Dew cans with code blinking from the screen. It's ok. He's used to this. Just toss a blanket over him and turn out the light.

11) His friends arent jerks. I can't stress this enough. You'll more likely get Omg! A GIRL!! Can I see?! than Hey hot stuff back that ass up here and let me get some grub on... They're awkward geeks too and will, 9 times out of 10, treat you with the utmost respect and, more than likely, a note of awe. A cute girl picked one of their clan to date? It could happen to them! Hope! Drag some of your single girlfriends over, open up a pack of Mt. Dew, crack open the DnD set and get working. Nothing impresses geek guys more than a girl who can hack-n-slash (well ok maybe if she can code... a geek can dream).

12) They're rarely if ever possessive. They trust you, so you can be yourself around them. You like to walk around the house in a ratty t-shirt for comfort? He wont care. He does too! They won't get pissy if you dont wear make-up or don't want to bother primping your hair. If you gain a few pounds, they wont try their best to make you feel like crap.

13) They're usually very well educated. Physics majors and the like. See number 5. You won't have to listen to him blathering on about his car (ok maybe a little), he'll have loads of other interesting things to talk about. Politics, world events, how much the chicken burgers down at the local place rock, so long as you douse them in hot sauce...

14) You'll almost never have to hear, Yaw dawg whazzap!! plop out of their mouths. Unless its in jest. They spell properly, use correct punctuation, and are able to tell the difference between the toilet and the floor. They almost never get wasted, so you wont have to worry about coming home to find him and his friends passed out on the floor amidst a pile of beer bottles. Mt. Dew cans, perhaps...

15) And the final reason why geeks and nerds make great boyfriends: They actually give a damn about you. Not how you look (though thats a plus), not how skinny you are, not how much make-up you primp yourself up with, but they like you for you. That kind of thing lasts longer than DaMN baby you got a fine ass!!! Believe me.
Not amused? Don't really see the point? Well, bums to you. I appear to be classed as a geek in some circles, so any opportunity to show someone singing the praises of such a grouping I endorse.

What can I tell you about today? Well today starts yesterday when we had a power cut in the center of town around 20:30 last night. This meant that I was sitting in front of my laptop for a good few hours making sure everything was shutting dowen as it should, etc. I almost had to cycle into town at some horrible hour of the night to see what was happening. Of course, when I let my operations manager know about things he cycled in anyway only to find that all the alarms were going off in the office block where the affected server room was and a security guard scratching his head. Turns out he couldn't get into the building as something had happened to the maglocks on the doors. I'm informed that they had to break into the building this morning with hammers, chisels and crowbars. Nice. I got to bed around 01:20 this morning.

By the time I staggered into work this morning (on time) it seemed they'd got the place open and all the machines had been brough back up and running, remotely. I'd noticed that when the power came back the UPS hiccuped and managed to drop power anyway at that point (which isn't 100% good in a UPS). Consequently my linux box rebooted from powered down and all the Sun kit came up to the 'ok' prompt. They'd been sitting at the 'ok' prompt last night anyway, rather than powering down so the fact that the air conditioning isn't on the UPS (thus meaning that when the power goes the room heats up rather rapidly) was possibly still an issue in the case of protracted power outages. We're going to have to look into that.

So yeah, I went over to physically check the place out at lunch time today as I was heading over for a Christmas Lunch with other computery-type people in the vicinity. I found out that the battery in the UPS was probably broken or faulty so that'll be replaced soon. Lunch was good and I ended up talking to my second replacement from my previous job and waxing lyrical with him to the entire table about power kiting.

The walk back to work in the sub-zero temperatures was bracing and enjoyable with an iPod to listen to. I think now though it's time to go home and get comfortable for the evening. Sorry this is a long one. Most of it's not mine and for those of you reading on LiveJournal apologies for the length and buggering up your 'Friends' page, I can't be arsed to use 'cuts'.

[16:35] This really really is turning into a dead week. Aside from it dropping well below freezing last night and not having risen above zero today at all (hence the freezing fog) there's been only one or two things that's blipped on my radar since I left work last night until right now. One of them was a phone conversation with someone which left me wondering if freezing fog affects telephone conversations. Oh, and I missed the Christmas Lunch thing on account of not having paid in advance, and then not having any transport anyway. This didn't matter as I saved some money and got to go for a walk in the foggy lunchtime air for a sandwich. I also gained the opportunity to take some photos of frost-encrusted spiders' webs with the phone on my camera as I didn't have my real one with me. I'll be packing that tomorrow in case the weather stays like this.

I think I'll cycle home for my gym stuff and go and do something warming in the gym for a few hours before settling down in a nice warm house with something enjoyable to watch. And some more mince pies, brandy butter and brandy cream.

[17:10] Very, very quiet weekend. Erm, that's about it. Really.

Work quiet, just two of us in the office. I think I'll get a toaster this evening.

That's how exciting and busy today has been.

[16:40] Today nothing actually happened. I had a lovely lazy, warm and snuggly lie in in bed (or actually I had a really early morning at work doing database upgrades. Take your pick, one is a blatant fib) and last night I held the annual Christmas Thursday: with mince pies, brandy butter, brandy cream, cheese, crackers, mulled wine and chocolatey things.

Other than that I've patched a few machines, categorically stated that I Didn't Break It with regard to one of our HR demo installations and eaten a few too many mince pies. I believe it's time to go to the gym. That might help.

Not sure what the weekend will bring as yet. Hopefully it'll be nice and fun and filled with cheese. Or climbing. Not sure.

[18:00] I'd resigned myself to an evening of cleaning the bathroom and doing washing last night. In fact I was so certain that's all I was going to be doing I'd complained to someone in that regard. I retracted this soon after in conversation and realised that it was going to actually be a reasonable evening in the end. Ended up heading to bed earlier than I thought though. All's well than ends well. And I have a spankingly clean bathroom.

Hmm, what happened today? Stuff I'm sure, and things. We had an interdepartmental Christmas luncheon thingamajig wossname which was a great chance to meet some people, chew the fat (actually a reasonable spread of food) and then head into town for mince pies, brandy cream, brandy butter and mulled wine. I should really, really head home now. I have people to entertain for the evening and then who knows? I think I did some work today... Oh yes, Oracle Client bug which rears its head after 262 days of uptime on a box, some authentication stuff and taking off some Solaris 10 patches which seem to bugger up executables which dynamically link to certain C libraries. I think it's patch 120051-04 (at least for Solaris 10 x86_64). Make a note, kids.

[18:15] So I got in this morning early enough to start doing some seriously messy things with Apache, mod_urlscheme and the HR application we have. And after 20 minutes realised that what we wanted to do wasn't possible as the protocol being transmitted from deep within the Java applet/Tomcat thingy was hardcoded to HTTP. This left us with an entire morning in which to just play around and try some more to get the damned thing understood a bit more. I think I do now. It's not pretty in there, but I believe I have twisted my brain enough that I can think my way through all the weird angles and corners that make up the application suite and the weirdo way we have asked the people who wrote it to do authentication.

This afternoon I was pleased to find that the people who wrote the software we're trying to work with actually respond promptly and efficiently to queries and thus we should potentially be in possession of a fix for this issue (actually coming in as an enhancement update) potentially by the end of the week, if not tomorrow. I remain... suitably dubious until such time as it appears and gets to be installed. They can't be that good. Surely.

Everyone went for one of the many different Christmas lunches this place has considering all the project we have on the run here at the same time. Me? This one I sat out on account of feeling the pinch just a little for once. It's part of the reason I'm not climbing this evening, but also because I've really got to clean the bathroom (so domestic) and maybe find something to eat. Of course some of that may go out of the window depending on how the evening pans out. I remain hopeful I'm rescued from drudgery by something more appealing.

I think not.

[16:40] OK, what? Uh. Right, yeah. Is this thing on? OK, great.

Right, I think I've sorted today's mishaps out to such a degree that I can get on with the things I'm supposed to be doing today. Aside from basically getting very tired last night and then going to bed far too late I managed to make a phone call early this morning which put me in a good mood all the way through until lunch time today. This is good as the networks guy and I have been footling around with the load balancers trying to get them to work with some software we have from a quite large supplier of HR software. Mentioning no names but they've actually written an extension to their application to make it work with our Institution-wide single-authentication system. I'm not sure if it'd a heroic programming effort or the worst kludge known to Man. Either way we've got it working through the load balancer now so ZXTM's domain continues to grow, as does my appreciation of the network guy's skills. I'm keeping up, just, with what he's doing (and still providing at least half of the necessary knowledge and innovation) but he's impressively quick at picking up new things. I hope we manage to get him a better paid post here so he doesn't leave.

This afternoon I've mainly been trying to get the last of the redirection stuff working with the load balancers. It's not terribly easy when you're running a Solaris 9 box with Apache 2 and Apache 1 on it and no compiler. This means that when you need (and I mean need, I'd not be using it if I could help it) to use mod_urlscheme to get around one or two issues you need to end up finding install CDs for Sun's Studio 10 compiler suite, copying it to the machine (which has no CD-ROM drive) and installing it, just for a 1.5 second compile of less than 100 lines of code. Still, it fills up the day. Like I need that.

Christmas presents seem to be beginning to be shipped from suppliers to either here at work or my parents' (where I'll be going for Christmas). With luck things should all come together at the right points. I think I'm going to to to the gym tonight, then head home, make something scrummy to eat and then settle down to finish the book I've been snatching a few chapters of here and there this last few weeks. Of course, I might be interrupted by the phone, which I don't think I'd mind.

[12:30] Another fun-packed and busy weekend went by, carrying me with it to some degree. I left work early on Friday because... well, hell... because I wanted to. This allowed me to have a really huge amount of fun for a few hours before heading on over to Keith and Cat's soiree thingy. I'll admit that by the time I got there I was pretty much shagged out, and eating tons of chocolate and pizza and generally chatting to lovely people did me the rest of the way in. I ended up falling asleep, or at least dozing on a futon/sofa for the last 30 minutes before I headed home in someone's car. I don't remember going to bed.

For most of Saturday I was alone, quiet and generally reading on my sofa. This meant I became quite sensitised to noise and stuff generally. I also forgot to eat which meant that by the time Shaun came over and he and I had been given a lift to the thing we were going to I was feeling a bit "whoa, people, noise, stomach/body food reaction!" Had an excellent time, some lovely food and wonderful company as I expected. In the end I volunteered to run back to the house so that there were enough spaces in the car and a taxi for everyone. It was good to get out and stretch my legs to be honest.

Back at the house we drank altogether far too much port and I spent too much time staring into the middle distance thinking about things completely unrelated to the evening. I feel I can blame the half-pint glass alcohol delivery systems for that. Sunday started late with a wonderful cooked breakfast followed by Elaine coming over with Nick to pick up 99.9 percent of her remaining stuff. I now need to pop out and get a replacement toaster as the one in the loft really isn't going to cut it these days.

Cormac and Steph (who'd stayed over) took me and Phil out for a game of ten-pin bowling on the most malfunction-ridden lane ever before dropping me back home in time to have dinner with another friend (who cooked). We had some fun, watched the last Matrix film (which they'd never seen before) and ended up getting stuff on the sofa (damnit). Pretty sure there'll be no permanent mark. Went to bed feeling like it'd been A Weekend.

This has taken most of the morning to write in between bits of work and configuring the new console server we have and now I have to head off to do a psychology experiement and get some money for it. Back later.

[13:10] So yesterday morning I thought I'd spend a bit of time before work getting my new graphics card working with the computer and television. Given I'd had an nVidia 5700LE in there I'd installed the latest drivers from nVidia and was happy that the thing would display to both LCD and TV at the same time in an OK resolution. I whipped that out, stuck the 6200 in and powered the thing up again. Perfectly quiet (it's passively cooled). However the card refused to see the television at all until I did 'forced detection' at which point it claimed the thing attached to the S-Vidio (sic, the bracket has a typo stamped onto it) port was an HDTV. Not only that but it could not display to both S-Video and DVI at the same time. Not great. OK, let's see the image when I select "HDTV"... At this point the TV made a very odd noise, the LCD went blank and the image on the TV was garbage. Great. No, really. Wonderful.

After having to reboot the computer to get an image back on the LCD again I pondered for a while and (you'll love this) uninstalled the up-to-date driver from the web site and stuck in the CD that'd come with the card. Much older drivers, they showed the card identifying a plain and simple "TV" and choosing to display through it actually gave me the result I wanted (even if I didn't get to display through TV and LCD at the same time). Success, and not me snapping the card in half with anger. I got to work ten minutes late.

That was yesterday. Yesterday evening was Thursday which went as usual with us actually watching a film most of us hadn't seen before (I think) and not talking much through it. I ate half a large pizza in about 30 seconds flat and probably could have finished the other half if I hadn't been sharing it with someone else. Happily I still have something for lunch today. Tonight there's some kind of soiree thing going on that I've been invited to. I may even get to play some chess.

[18:00] Reminders of things bring me back down to Earth with a bump today. Despite a quiet and pleasant evening after a good climbing session I find myself alternating between a sad acceptance of life and a slowly encompassing sense of sadness. Luckily I find I'm getting better and better at noticing and hence acknowledging and then dealing with these mood changes (which are, in the main, much more gradual in their onset than they used to be). The root cause(s) remain (and remain the same) and I can't really see a resolution right now, and definitely not in current circumstances. Aside from that I'm still having a great time with my life and basically am happy with things as they are right now. It's complicated, but suffice it to say I'm where I want to be at the moment.

Where I should be at the moment is at home, washing up and preparing for Thursday evening. I mean, it's 18:00 and I've not even told you about nearly snapping my new graphics card in half (on purpose) this morning. How about I do that first thing tomorrow?

[17:05] I cooked a blinding meal last night. Salmon with cracked black pepper and thyme, asparagus in chopped almonds and butter (bit overdone but still tasty), baby sweetcorn and butter-glazed charlotte potatoes and carrots. All in all a rather good meal. Even had chocolate cake for afters. It's nice to spoil myself sometimes, even if it's very rare these days.

I still haven't managed to get around to fitting my low-profile passively cooled graphics card, but I do now have some content (DivXen) to watch which means there's some impetus for me to actually go ahead and do it. Given how busy I was last night enjoying myself, and the climbing and fun I hope to be having this evening I don't think I'll have much of a chance to try fitting it before tomorrow night. Maybe Friday. Actually no, I'm busy on Friday too.

If nothing else next week looks like it'll be a bit more settled and less prone to the occasional random occurrences which have caused things to be 'fun' this last few weeks.

Hopefully I've straightened out the stupid snafu I've caused by emailing in haste (again) in the last half an hour or so and everyone who wants to go climbing will be climbing come 18:00 this evening. For now I think I'm off to get ready and maybe have something to eat before we leave town. It would probably be a really sensible idea for me to have some energy for climbing and things.

[11:40] Ooops. So I meant to go home last night and have a few minutes' fun fitting the bracket for my graphics card, getting the thing in the box and setting up some high-quality DivXen watching action. Instead what I did was walk a friend from another office in the building home talking about what was best to serve as a compliment to salmon was, and from there end up having cassoulet at their house, half a bottle of white wine and spending three hours talking through religion to paganism, Eastern Philosophy, Gaia, mono Vs polydeitic theories and the very fundamentals of morality. I think I could have had the conversation stone cold sober, but the wine certainly loosened my tongue and mind a little. I got home fairly early. I think we only talked for about two or three hours but by the time I'd wobbled lightly home I just crawled into bed and went to sleep.

Unhappily I woke around 02:00 this morning with a really sharp pain in my abdomen so had to deal with that for about half an hour before I could get back to sleep again. Still managed to feel very rested when I got up this morning which means I'm going to be feeling pretty chirpy this evening when I go to the gym, and then cook something nice for dinner. It has been quite some time since I cooked something interesting for dinner and I'm looking forward to doing so. I'm just wondering what to have for dessert. I'm sure something will present itself.

I'm going to spend lunch time either cycling to Tesco and home, or blagging a drive from someone in the office and then this afternoon thinking about SSL decryption and re-encryption and writing the outline of a talk on what the load balancers can do for us here (that they're not already doing). I could really do with leaving early, going to the gym and having a night in but they're paying me to be here so I should probably get on and make it worth their while to do so.

[18:00] I had an absolutely fabulous weekend. Among the things that I did were going on a boat ride around Orfordness and being served bruch while doing so and getting to see avocets, egrets and herons, doing a whole lot of walking along the Suffolk coast line and getting to read Jasper Fforde in nice warm surroundings. Basically I got away for the weekend to have a break from life and such. Came back feeling altogether more relaxed and ready to face the week.

Annoyingly I missed the (actually quite dull, but still fun) upgrade of the Zeus ZXTM load balancer software but it wasn't like it's rocket science. However as I was bemoaning this fact a parcel turned up for me. Inside the box (which measured 15cm x 15cm x 25cm) was a tiny padded envelope inside of which was my £10 bit of bent metal (also know as the low profile bracket for my graphics card). Hurrah. That gets fitted tonight, I hope. It better bloody fit the graphics card. I've also got stuff downloading, a meal to plan and some washing to do. No climbing for me this evening. Possibly even an early night!

[11:00] Turns out I've missed out on some funky load balancer configuration stuff this morning. This is a bit sad considering I was one of the people who went on the advanced course for Traffic Scripting. Still I completely understand what has been done by the networks guy so it's not like I'm out of the loop. Speaking of out of the loop I do feel like I've been doing a little less than I could have been recently, at work. Blame it on being a bit more distracted than usual (for me). It's not a bad thing; I've been working quite hard recently so it's nice to have slacked off just a bit.

This morning I've done some very useful patching of our increasingly important load balancers and checked the failover still, indeed, fails over. I've also found the third Sun V20z we have and begun patching that (only 212 patches out of date! Nothing!) too. I intend to write documentation for the rest of my time here today, then get the hell out of here, do a tiny bit of shopping and then have a damned fun and relaxing weekend. Even if the weather doesn't look like it'll be stunning. If it's not then, hell, I may just spend more time in bed.