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December's Journal
February's Journal

[08:45] Climbing last night was bloody excellent. Met up with Keith and Gary (who'd never climbed before) and did a whole load of fairly technical 6A routes and trusted my life to an Autobelayer for the first time. Damned things, I'll never get used to them. After the climbing we adjurned to a nearby pub for food and Leffe beer which I had to admit I could probably get used to. Shame they only sell it in half-pint configurations.

The trains home on the other hand were most amusing. The state of mind I was in I didn't give two hoots that three trains were cancelled and retasked as one "stops at every blade of grass" service upon which everyone was crammed. I simply smiled at everyone I saw and very quickly many other people were smiling too, even though it'd gone 01:00 before we completed the journey.

I'm on training today to begin my takeover of one of the major projects that my team leader is leaving me the reins to when she leaves at Easter. That's going to be fun. Actually it probably will be and will mean some major CV points either way. Of course I have far, far less experience of what's going on underneath the hood, especially when it's tied in with the load balancers we have here, but I'm sure eventually I'll get my head around it and feel like I'm actually doing some good again. It's been a few years since I've felt like I was making a difference in what I do and who I am.

[12:45] PeopleSoft training makes my brain hurt. I really feel like my ignorance boundries have been pushed back. There's so much more I didn't realised I didn't know. And now I know. Still, free lunch (TANSTAAFL).

[12:20] I had a quiet weekend. Saturday I went into town and spent most of the day reading in a coffee shop and watching the world go by. Peoplewatching is an interesting passtime and I recommend it. Also, sitting in a coffee shop for long enough you get to migrate to the really comfy seats eventually.

Sunday I cleaned the house and went out for a meal with friends for the Chinese New Year. Happy Year of the Dog. It hasn't been a particularly good 2006 thus far so I'm going to take the opportunity to begin a new year from now instead and see if I can make a better bash at at.

Most of the last few days has been spent looking at myself with a view to trying to find out who and what I am now, as a single person approaching thirty. It's a very confusing process and not particularly fun, however I don't think it's terribly easy for anyone. How have I defined myself previously? How 'should' I define myself in the future? Who do I want to be? What would I like out of life? What am I prepared to do to become who I feel I should be and do the things I want to do? How have past events and relationships molded and affected me and, in a future where I'm lucky enough to be with someone who cares for me, how might I do my part in helping that relationship work? I don't actually know any of the answers at the moment (quite academic in some cases anyway) and it's all rather scary and big and just a little bit frightening.

Thinking more, rather than envy those people who seem to have worked out what they're doing I get the feeling that pretty much everyone is still trying to find their way through life, they're just better at showing what they want to show to the rest of the world, or simply haven't encountered the abyssal plain of uncertainty and the breadth of options both open and seemingly closed to us all that exist to all human beings living in the world.

Sometimes, when I'm alone on The Wall high above the ground (especially without a rope), or with friends - either way concentrating on something worthwhile and fun - it all goes away and I'm content. The rest of the time I can't keep from my head the feeling that life is much bigger than we can comprehend (and possibly hope to deal with) and it's only through just chilling out, enjoying what we have and have made for ourselves, the friends we've made and the experiences we've collected that life becomes fun. Forgetting about the complexities of life for a while or possibly sharing your worries and fears with someone close who can help you make sense of them are just some of the ways that you can create your path through the world without being overwhelmed. Friends are important, I hope to keep hold of my more special ones and watch the relationships with them deepen and change for the better over time as well as creating new friendships in places I didn't think to look before.

For the moment I have absolutely no idea where I go next. But perhaps that's the best starting point of all.

[10:25] We racked up the new NetApp filers this morning. Plenty of fun with different sized screws, cage nuts and shelves. The kit's in there now and the consultant's just turned up to show us where everything plugs in.

There was a leaving do last night in the pub around the corner so I ended up going out and having spending some time there before heading home to a quiet and cold house. Still, this morning's shower was one of the best I've had in a while (don't ask me why) so I came in in a fairly good mood this morning. Time to listen to the NetApp guy...

[16:10] Lots of stuff sorted with regard to the NetApp installation, except whether we bond/team/aggregate the two Gbit interfaces in the back of it and not use jumbo frames, or use one for a storage network with jumbo frames and put the other one on the 'other' network for access by non-servers that need access. Then there's the stuff to do with volume creation and other things we haven't quite thought of yet. Naturally I'm looking forward to the wiring up and powering on... but it seems I won't be here for it as my parents have booked me for a family holiday the weekend after next and some of the following week when the installation is taking place. Drat.

This weekend I will be getting the thin client I had trouble getting to do XDMCP requests back to set up in the lounge. I've managed to get it working now. With the always-on RHEL 4 NAT box I have upstairs this should give me an easy-to-access, quick-start X desktop with connection that's silent and has a tiny footprint. Luckily I have an LCD screen 'spare' that I can press into use too. Maybe I can keep busy this weekend rather than bouncing around an empty house.

[27/01/2006 - 10:00] New cassette fitted to bike, skipping on higher gears reduced but not zero. Curry out last night with the climbing club. Life continues.

[15:25] The talk seemed to go fairly well. I went off into a room this morning and ran through it twice beforehand and managed to get it down to eleven minutes and eighteen seconds (I was aiming for ten). We went in to do the actual thing around 12:30 and it all went surprisingly well. None of us waffled, there were no hanging sentences or general confusion and the overall opinion seems to be that our presentation was one of the best to date. Which is nice.

I went into town to pay in my remortgage overpayment cheque and get my bike fixed overnight but the repair shop was already full for today. I'm going to have to get in really early tomorrow and see if I can beat the crowds.

Off climbing again this evening, if someone's willing to drive. Feeling quite full of energy, probably due to just having had lunch.

[16:40] We did another run-through of the presentation this morning. Happily it only took fifty-five minutes rather than the seventy it took last time. I think we can all shave off a couple of minutes (I know there's on slide I can drop completely) and get it under the forty-odd minutes we're aiming for.

Climbing last night was interesting. I went in the car with our youngest participant and kept her amused on the way there. Climbing started off OK, although a miscommunication lead to a momentary bit of strife that brought me down a bit. In the end I seconded someone's roof route unclipping as I went and keeping off the rope as much as feasible given the angles, etc. That left me shaking and rather pumped, something I've not been for a while after having been climbing.

I met Elaine in town at lunch time to get my Council Tax discount sorted. Hopefully it's all done now and I've not caused her any hassle. I guess there won't be many occasions when I see her now except when I'm in and she picks up the last of her stuff, or when we both go climbing at the same time. By definition not going out with someone means not see each them as much (if at all), and while I miss that and talking to her in the evenings, it's how things go. She's making new friends and having a good time though, which is good. I am off to the gym this evening. I'm starting to feel a bit better about how my body is behaving now posture-wise and how I'm finding climbing. Not only that but all this exercise means I can go back to eating what I want, when I want (taking healthy eating into account) without worrying about turning the wrong shape.

[17:25] I got a call this morning from my new lender's solicitors to tell me that the remortgage was going through and I'd be getting paperwork to that effect shortly. They also told me that I could go ahead and cancel the direct debit to my old lender if I wanted. It occured to me at that point that I could probably also recall the payment of my last mortgage amount to my old lender before it went out, rather than waiting for them to get my money and then send it back again. So I did.

Now all I need to do is wait for the excess remortgage money to arrive as a cheque to me, pay it in and use that and this month's mortgage money to repay the complete excess money to the new lender and get my payments back down to where I thought they'd be originally. If that makes sense. It does to me.

The weekend was as I expected. Saturday I went out and did some essentials shopping (bin liners, etc.) then everything's a bit of a blur. I'm sure some other stuff happened... oh I know; I went to Tesco and picked up some food, then went home to chill out for a bit and try and fit my new bike chain. This I did with the help of Elaine who came around towards evening to do some more packing. I made a reasonably good roast dinner and fed us both.

Sunday was more about chilling until Elaine came over to pick up her stuff. As she was doing some more packing Cormac and Steph came over to pick up some new episodes of programmes I had and then left so James could arrive to drive off with a car full of Elaine's posessions. Around 20:00 I cycled out to go to a gig at a bar across town. Small, intimate, only around fifty people it was an excellent end to the weekend. The only downside being the new chain on my bike which refuses to do anything than slip when in the higher gears. I think I need a new rear cassette. Elaine's had a go at me, again, about using other gears but I have been using pretty much all of them (except the silly hill-climbing ones) for the past year or so.

This afternoon we did the first run-through of the talk for Wednesday. We need to cut quite a lot out if we're going to get in under the firty-five minutes we've been allocated. A seventy minute talk on systems administration is going to wear down even the most interested parties I think.

Climbing this evening, I could do with a bit of a workout I think, feeling a little frustrated and in need of something to wear me out a bit. I'll try pushing myself a bit. If nothing else it'll mean I sleep well for once. Tomorrow we go through the talk again with someone else listening, just to point out any particular problems with it. I just wish my bike was being a bit better behaved, it nearly killed me this morning.

[16:30] Today has been a bit crap to be honest. Sure, I got enough sleep but I'm just struck with a malaise that threatens to reduce me to apathy and leave me slumped in my chair being extremely unproductive.

I'm giving part of a talk next Wednesday lunch time where those attending would a) rather be somewhere else and, b) probably really don't care about what I'm going to be telling them. I've tried hard to make it interesting, but when your assigned subjects are Kickstart and Jumpstart, the UPS system and the Operations Group wiki it's not going to be the easiest job in the world.

I've cobbled something together to say and show while trying to reorganise some of the fun things that fell through a few days ago. Not quite sure if that's worked as yet though. However it is a friend's birthday curry this evening so I get to have a fairly decent meal, although I should try not to spend too much given all my other expenses at the moment. This weekend I intend to try and strip my bike down and clean all the crap off it as well as fitting the new chain. I might even try to do some house cleaning. Sunday evening I've got a gig to go to in town which I'll take my camera along to. Not sure if I'll get any decent shots but it's worth a go.

Oh, I went to a CAMRA Winter Beerfest at lunchtime today. Obtained the obligatory glass tankard and tried one of the ciders. Not bad, not great, but not bad. Shame I'm not a beer person really. Then again if I'd had much more I wouldn't have got the first pass of my talk done this afternoon. With some cider inside of me at least I got it finished with a modicum of good humour rather than putting my head through the LCD or shattering my keyboard.

[17:40] Unfortunately some of the fun things I had planned for the future seem to have fallen through for the moment. I'm hopeful they may be ressurected in the future but for now I'll be getting on with other things. In the meantime I've got a load of holiday stuff to get organised, the financial hell of January to get over with and then to make a start on February and hopefully a bit more in the way of normality to my life. Still no sign of my CompactFlash card yet although I was away from home last night having 'popped' down to see Andy in London for the evening and attend a recording of Clive Anderson's Chat Room. It was fairly funny, nothing special and was most notable for Andy having to run over a mile because he turned the wrong way out of the Tube station and ended up nearly missing the door time. Well, that and the fact that people dropped plastic glasses, got up and left and generally didn't seem to get that they were attending a recording of a radio show.

After the show we headed back to his place, stopping off at a Chinese take away to stop from folding in two. I have to admit that the food was some of the best I've ever had, and not all that expensive either. If I remembered the name I'd tell you it. But I don't. Something like 'Good Earth' I think. Nicely laid out inside too. If you go there you'll understand what I mean. I managed to get the first allowed train back (stupid ticketing system) and was in work for a reasonable time this morning.

Aside from an informative lunch with Shaun today has been about fighting with and coming to understand the service processor on the Sun V20z and trying to work out why the installation of Solaris I've installed doesn't seem to want to do anything with the serial port... as yet. I think maybe I need to poke and prod a little more. At least it can see all its storage now thanks to that ITU disk.

[15:55] Last night someone came around to take some photographs of me for a calendar twelve or so of us have decided to pose for. The whole thing was over fairly quickly and I think we got some good shots. I'm not particularly pleased with how I look in any of them (I thought the gym had done more for me) but I'm sure one of them will be acceptable.

I transfered a couple of thousand Euros to a bank account in Spain yesterday as deposit for the villa a group of us are renting for my 30th birthday in April this year. This morning I looked online and noticed that not only had the money come out, it wasn't at the exchange rate I'd figured (it was lower, hence costing more pounds), the transfer fee was twice what I'd been told and there was an extra "agent fee" which is apparently payable to stop the recipient being charged to receive the money. All in all I was paying about fifty-five pounds more than I thought I should be. A few calls to the bank sorted it, mostly. It's still costing me four times what I thought it would to get some money into the Euro Zone. Sometimes I really wish we were in it too.

Other than that I've been struggling with the V20z some more. I left it (I thought) resyncing its RAID 1 set over night but came in this morning to find that it didn't seem to have got anywhere. The serial console also appears to be playing up too, I'm not sure why. It'll probably be fine under Solaris, but the BIOS and the Solaris installer don't seem to be doing too well with it. Anyway, once I'd got the mirror 'working' I started the installer and tried to partition, slice and dice the resulting virtual disk. For some reason the new operating system seemed to think that the volume was only 4.34GB in size, which isn't big enough for a Solaris 10 install unless you fiddle. It should have been approximately 68GB. Turns out the documentation that came with the machine was only partially correct. It stated that Solaris 9 needed and ITU floppy disk (Install-Time Update) for the 'sd' driver. What it didn't say is that Solaris 10 also needs its own version of same. Once I'd downloaded and utilised it as part of the install process things seemed to go a whole lot more smoothly. Right now I'm up to about CD3 and have seen a few problems with the lack of Xorg X server and fonts. Hopefully this won't matter. I wish I could do the whole thing from my chair rather than having to walk to the server room every time. Once I've got this sorted I'm going to consider how to add Solars/x86_64 stuff to our current Jumpstart setup.

In my free moments I'm also writing my part of a talk I'm giving next Wednesday lunch time. Apparently I have to try and make Kick/Jumpstart, our UPS monitoring/management/notification/control system and the internal wiki we have here interesting to other people. Now I find this shit fascinating, but I strongly doubt some of our developers, DBAs and applications specialists are really going to want to listen to even strongly glossed over information on these subjects when they could be (if it wasn't semi-compulsory to attend) somewhere else enjoying their lunch. Still, them's the breaks.

Off to London for the evening. Back tomorrow.

[17:05] Most of the day has been spent fighting with the Sun V20z. For some obscure reason the Solaris 10 CD seems to think there's only 4330MB free on the two disk RAID 1 array of 68GB that the chassis contains. I've decided this is probably due to the fact that the mirror hadn't fully synchronised before I started the install. I'm going to leave it overnight to make sure it's ready to go tomorrow morning. If it's not I'll have another think then.

Canon got back in contact with me today to say that a) they're pretty sure my £100 cashback is probably still being processed and b) there are no more 256MB CF cards... so I'll have to have a 512MB one instead. The bastards. Well, I'll believe it when I see it. Nice though.

Climbing last night was fun. I did a route I consider to be a good indicator of how near the top of my game I am twice without any real problems, which was good. Surprising in fact. We had two newbies with us too which meant I was in teaching mode a little too. That was a lot of fun as the people were eager to learn and picked things up quickly. I'm off to the gym in a few minutes having just taken a few shots of the absolutely spectacular sunset I was alerted to a little while ago. After that I'm getting my photo taken for a calendar.

[13:00] OK, kind of a full few days really. Friday I managed to probably get everything sorted such that the remortgage is going to happen on the 23rd as it has to, went to the gym and generally collapsed. Elaine was due to come and do some more packing on the Saturday morning so I went out early to give her the house and took my camera into town for the day. The fruits of my labour can be seen at where you can see my two favourites:


among many others (although I did try to cull viciously). When I got home Elaine hadn't made it over so I did some tidying, washing up, washing, general clear up and downloaded my photos before she turned up to do some more sorting. After a while Cormac and Steph turned up to drive us all to the cinema to see Jarhead. After grabbing James from his house we got there just as the adverts were finishing.

After the film most of us went for a sit down Chinese meal before heading to our respective houses for the night. Sunday I relaxed, got some reading done and generally chilled out for a bit. Elaine came over for some more things and we chatted for a little while. I sorted some things for next Wednesday, said hi to some people online and eventually made myself an Ultimate Pork Chippolata (Sainsbury's) baguette with plenty of greens for tea before attempting to watch The 6th Day without switching off in disgust. Elaine had said she might come back late to pick up some stuff, but didn't turn up in the end so at the end of the film I went to bed.

This morning I was up in time to find out that the roofing guy was going to be late. This gave me time to read some more of the book I have on the go at the moment. When he turned up we took a look in the loft where he explained that the new insulation I'd put in (even though I'd not packed it in where the roof met the loft floor) didn't leave enough gap and that was probably the cause of the dampness in there. Basically, air not being able to circulate properly. He did find a crack in the felt in the guttering over the damp patch in my bedroom and some suspect mastic work around some cables going into the house and a window, but he reckons he can fix them all for a one-off charge. More than I expected for the size of the job he mentioned, but far less than I was worried a big job would be. Even so, this is going to be a hellishly expensive month all told.

[17:25] This day has flown by. I think is probably due to fighting with the V20z in an effort to get it to output to the serial console during the BIOS sequence. Aside from setting things up in the BIOS and checking J19 wasn't closed you also have to change the setting on the front panel under the SP menu. Oddly though, even with that set up the response to keypresses and screen updates take an absolute age. Still, it shouldn't be an issue in the normal day-to-day running of things. Off home now. Climbing tonight.

[10:25] Some good news first. The solicitors for my new lender rang me yesterday afternoon (at home) so I returned their call this morning. Initially they said that my buildings insurance people hadn't added my new lender's 'interest' to the schedule so I re-rang the insurance people and asked for another fax to be sent. A few seconds later the solicitors rang back again and said they did have one after all. It seems now that everything is sorted for the twenty-second which is when my current lender's redepmtion penalty period ends (and I go onto the Standard Variable Rate). All I need to do now is the money shuffle when the last payment to my current lender is returned and the extra monies from the new lender hit my account.

The other news is that Elaine began to move out last night, which is one of the reasons I didn't have a standard Thursday: evening; it would have been too complicated. Last night was the first night she slept in her new house.

[10:45] Of course, nothing good last forever. I'd been contacted by the new lender's solicitors again. Seems that because the twenty-second is a Sunday they can't complete the remortgage that day as no-one works on a Sunday. They have to recontact my current lender, get a new redemption statement, talk to the new lender, etc., etc. ad nauseam. I hate it when things get complicated.

[11:45] This morning I noticed that there were what looked like paint streaks in the corner of the master bedroom (which I haven't been in much recently). Great, it seems like perhaps the front guttering or the roof is leaking and allowing water seepage. Just another cost to add to what is turning out to be an expensive month. I've managed to get someone to come out and look at it first thing on Monday morning so they should be able to tell me if anything's gone horribly wrong or not. I'm mostly worried that it's at the join between where the two halves of the house meet and it's actually a major structural fault.

My new mortgage lender contacted me this morning to say that they're going to waive the need for documents saying my (mythical) extension had planning approval, etc. This is a good thing and probably thanks to my super financial advisor. The revised mortgage offer for the extra £2000 came in this morning too so I've signed and sent that off. In case I didn't mention this, it seems that the mortgage redemption statement prepared by my current lender doesn't include the last payment due on the day I intend to move to the new lender (thus serving out the penalty period but not incurring any costs at the Standard Variable Rate). This means that I asked the new lender for less than I needed. The last payment's still going to go out to my current lender, but then they'll send me a cheque (hopefully quite quickly) for the same amount. Stupid, huh? I'm so going to be chasing them for that as soon as I think they have my direct debit. At the same time my new lender will have put an extra 2K (they'll only give me £2000 more, no less) into my bank account, less the stuff needed to cover the mortgage underpayment (so about 1.3K). Once the cheque comes back from my current lender I'll send a cheque to my new lender with the full £2000 repayment, to bring me back to the original remortgage amount. Make sense?

It certainly looks like I'm going to need to raid my savings a bit to deal with paying for the camera (still no cashback yet), the remortgage costs, the potential roofing/guttering costs and generally living for the next month. I wish things weren't so complicated sometimes. This, coupled with the other things that're happening at the moment are contributing to a very full life. Luckily there's one or two fun things coming up soon, I hope.

Today I'm hoping to do a Solaris 10 install which will necessitate being in the server room for an extended period due to needing to set up some RAID stuff first.

[16:00] Off for football at 16:30 today. That's going to be interesting. More, if I survive, tomorrow. Got some very interesting news today which could be quite exciting in a few months time. We'll have to see.

[15:40] Argh! This fucking remortgage is going to kill me. Because I explained (out of interest exhibited by the man at the shape of the house) to the surveyor that the house was made up of two extensions (40 years ago) he'd put in his survey that an extension had been added to the property. As a result the lender's solicitors have been asked by the lender to get all the building approval and worthiness stuff from me and the council to say that the extension is approved and stuff... before they'll do the remortgage. Bastards! I've been ringing people all day trying to get it undone. It seems as if it's thought that I was the person who added the extension in the two years I've been here. With luck this should be sorted tomorrow, but I doubt it. I've also had to get my buildings insurance people to fax a copy of my buildings insurance schedule to the lender's solicitors too, "showing their interest in it". Whatever the fuck that means.

All in all one very pissed off person today. It's only chatting to people that's kept me sane. Climbing tonight with a new climbing partner should be a bit of relaxation, I hope.

In other news I've been completely unable to start installing ziggy, the testbed Solaris/x86 V20z box today. Maybe I'll get to do that tomorrow. Ha.

[17:25] Just got back from NetApp HQ in Middlesex. Quite an interesting day but not much opportunity to do much practically with the kit. Hopefully when it arrives we'll all get a chance to play with things before they go into service. I'm now fully cognisant of flex cloning, snapshotting and what happens when you start messing around with oplocks when you're mixing Unix and NTFS-style permissions as well as the best way to deal with someone totally trashing the OnTap operating system stuff on /vol0 and all the manual configuration files therein/on.

I should really head off to the gym but someone's come online I want to chat to so I'll go in a bit.

[06:35] Woke up at around 03:30 and couldn't get back to sleep so decided, eventually, to just come in to work and get on with something constructive. Thus far I've got tons done and have prepared the way for the co-worker who deals with the backup system, which appears to have gone wrong again over the weekend. Not that I'm sure of that, I can just see red flashing lights in the server room where I don't think there should be any.

The weekend went fairly well. Elaine came back to the house on Saturday morning around about the time I was tidying in preparation for people to come over for an afternoon's hammering out of details for my 30th birthday holiday in Spain. Around 13:00 people began showing up and, after some searching and discussion we ended up with a villa (which I've emailed to book) and someone (Keith) to work out what trains or planes people might want to catch to get there. In celebration in having managed to pin down almost everyone and everything to do with the holiday to the points they could be we walked into town to a Japanese restaurant for some food before heading home to relax for the remainder of the evening.

Sunday was mainly about going out with Gareth to test Canon lenses on my 350D. We headed over to a park with some water around about 14:00 and took a good few comparative shots with the 50mm f/1.4 and f/1.8 lenses before we lost the light and the weather closed in a bit more. Back home we downloaded them and spent a good while trying to work out what differences, if any, there were between the shots. To be honest I'm not sure I really see any great differences except in the physicality of the lenses. The f/1.4 is far better built, feels better to use... but has a price three times that of the f/1.8. I'm debating just waiting a few months to absorb the camera and remortgage costs and then go with the more expensive lense which, in the end will serve me better, last longer (I imagine), hold its value more and work with more camera bodies if I ever upgrade. Until then I'll save and learn to use the 18-55mm and the more manual aspects of photography.

[16:25] I've been helping the newest member of the team move into the office today. Once our ostensible line manager came in and said she was OK with the location of the desks we got to work and got rid of a lot of extra furniture, streamlining the office quite a bit. He's now in place (you can see his desk on Camera II) and we've got the Big Brother monitor sitting on a filing cabinet looking a bit more purposeful and taking up far less space.

Bit low on achievements this afternoon. I'm still waiting for someone at Central to tell me precisely how I'm supposed to retrieve two SSL certificates from Thawte without a password (and then no request code). Hopefully they'll let me know before the end of tomorrow so I can come in early on Wednesday when the current certificates run out and install the new ones. I'm not in tomorrow on account of going to NetApp in Uxbridge, Middlesex to play with the kit we're going to be buying soon.

Climbing tonight, if I can stay awake long enough.

[16:55] I've made some real progress with linux/Samba/Windows ADS/Kerberos today. I can't say I one hundred percent understand exactly what it is that's happening and why my PAM modifications work (who truly understands PAM anyway?) but you can log in to the linux box as any Windows ADS user and it'll create a home directory for you. This is via SSH. Of course when you come in via SSH you have to enter your name as 'domain/username' (where I've specified '/' as the winbind separator) rather than just 'username'. I wish I knew what I had to alter (in krb[5].conf?) to be able to drop the 'domain/' bit. If anyone knows please pipe up. I've added the mkdir PAM stuff to pam.d/login and pam.d/ssh but not pam.d/samba as yet. I may do that on Monday. I hope I can get this coherent and sorted as it's actually something that's required by the Web Team here, rather than just a toy thing. It's actually nice to be required to learn something new about Samba rather than just picking at it for my own amusement.

I should head off to the gym and then go and do some washing and washing up before the weekend. Saturday is hopefully the day people come over and we pin down what's happening on my 30th birthday holiday in April and Sunday I would like to be testing the f/1.4 and f/1.8 50mm Canon lenses back to back to see whether an amateur photographer myself is actually going to notice the difference (and hence pay the many more pounds required for the f/1.4).

[17:25] More documentation concerning my remortgage turned up last night. I brought it in this morning along with all the things I needed to photocopy etc. to prove that I am who I say I am and I live in the house that I'm trying to remortage and that, unsurprisingly I'm not involved in organised crime and am not involved in money laundering. Photocopies done and form filled in, checked and rechecked I posted it off to my independent financial advisor in the hope they'll catch anything I've missed and also do the certification of the necessary proof-of-identity stuff.

The rest of the day has been spent learning about Sun LOM (Lights Out Management) cards as we're going to start connecting all fifty-odd machines up via that interface too in the next few weeks. I've had some interesting conversations about future events both in and especially out of work, with luck and a following wind they'll come to pass. One interesting thing is that the Networks group is being split (all two people) and we're getting one of them as part of the Unix Support team which is going to be pretty cool and very useful when it comes to getting things done.

Tonight is the first Thursday: of the new year. I'm hoping we get some wine this evening and I can get nicely toasted while shouting "There can be only one!" at the television.

Just been discussing with the Networks guy who'll be moving in with us on Monday. We're pretty sure the person who's away this week is going to be okay with everything that's happening, but we're not entirely sure how the room is going to be arranged to deal with another desk and a few more computers.

[13:25] We both managed to oversleep this morning so I got to work some time after nine. I wasn't actually sleeping properly past - I assume - 06:30 but I was dozing at least and waiting to hear the radio, which I never did. It doesn't really matter for me. My colleague is always in well before 08:00 and my ostensible line manager doesn't usually get in until around about 10:30 most days which means I'm nicely bracketed.

I made a huge Geomag construction last night which I intend to take a photograph of as soon as I get home tonight. Rather than end up repeating the same designs (which aren't particularly fun to build) I'll keep a record of them all when I remember so as to build up a corpus of what I've achieved. I also watched Speed (uncut!) last night on Sky One and ate far too much pig product.

When I got in this morning I was just in time to see the Sun engineer leaving having fitted the replacement PSU to the machine I made go pop. The first one we got sent didn't actually work. Hmm, thanks to William who's just pointed out that until today all dates in the BOFHcam Journal (non-LJ) were incorrect.

I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do for the rest of the day. I have found that EditPad Lite (the software I use as a replacement for Notepad in Windows) actually has a linux version, so I'll try that and see if it's as useful. Other than that I may chat with some friends about what they did over Christmas and what their plans are for the new year. Hopefully one or two may include me.

I'm not entirely sure what's happening about normal climbing stuff this evening. I would really like to go but Cormac doesn't have a car at the moment and I've heard nothing from James as yet. Hopefully something'll be announced soon.

[15:00] OK, I'm off climbing this evening with someone I haven't climbed with for many years, and two people I've never climbed with before. In sadder news I've just read this article on trying to close down the poppy/opium/heroin trade in Afghanistan and wonder just what the hell we're actually playing at these days? I've not read Simon Jenkins before, he seems to make a fair amount of sense in the main. We're not sending enough troops to do what is expected of them and it's not even getting to the root cause of the real problem, which is that the farmers are poor and no-one'll pay them as much to grow anything else. What might help is proper economic aid with the potential to help farmers replant with other produce and the legalisation of certain applications of opium derivatives to give the farmers another way to sell their crops.

[11:45] OK, so the photos I took are up in the gallery now as the New Year's Eve collection. I know that many of the shots are over exposed, have harsh flash shadowing and are probably badly framed, but it was my first real excursion with the camera and I'm sure I'll get better. I've already worked out that I could have gone to f/3.5 (the limit for the lens I have) and probably ditched the flash and just had some nicely lit shots. That would have required more skill than I had with the camera at the time though. Still, never mind. Lots to learn, lenses to save for (do I get the 50mm f/1.4 or the f/1.8?) and probably a reasonable flash.

My Geomag purchase arrived this morning at work. Four hundred pieces of extra magnetic fun for me to add to the sixy-two I already have. Perhaps a full Buckminster-Fullersphere here I come!

Today we have a Sun engineer here fixing the blow PSU in the server which frightened me and the UPS yesterday, I've be bringing up the other systems which didn't need to to be frobbed back into life this morning as well as updating my journal (do any of you still read it on or are you all LiveJournal readers now?) with 2006 links.

[11:30] Just popped in to work briefly (two hours plus now) to power on all of the machines in the machine room here at work. We had a power cut on December 31st at around 20:50. I got a call from our Operations Manager on the 1st asking if I could come in today and see what could be done. Naturally I said yes and it's been a fairly easy job. The one surprise was when I powered the most important V1280 back on and there was a loud bang and the UPS went back on to bypass again. Scared the living crap out of me. It turn out to be one of the power supplies (of which there are four) giving up the ghost in a spectacular fashion. We'll get that replaced tomorrow I think. Other than that it was a fairly uneventful poweron procedure. A couple of minor backup and Perl-related issues which I've either solved or left in a state such that the person responsible can solve them tomorrow.

The New Year's Eve party at Keith's was excellent for the most part. I had a ton of fun, dark just enough and only made a fool of myself (in my own eyes) a few times. It was also an opportunity for me to try out my new Canon EOS 350D for the first time in anger. As I only had one 256MB CF card someone lent me theirs for the evening (which was very nice of them) and I borrowed a Master/Slave setup of Speedlite flashes from someone else. If I'd had the 50mm f/1.4 lens I probably wouldn't have needed it, but that's a little way down the line expenses-wise. I bought the 350D because before the 31st of December you get £100 cash back if it's bought with a Mastercard. I have James to thank for that. We dashed out on the 30th to Jessops and got one on almost the spur of the moment. Not that I've not been thinking about it for the past few months anyway.

More tomorrow.