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February's Journal
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[17:25] Stuff done, problems solved, heroic pose achieved. Late for gym, missing Jenny, weekend in flux, cycling planned, bike purchase possible, head fuzzy. Weather fine, run missed, pub cramped, DBA co-worker frustrating. Repeat of "problem solved", skills unsung, time to go.

Happy weekend.

[17:50] Damn, I knew there was something I'd forgotten today.

Tonight is "Thursday:" so - in a change to regular pizza-eating - Cormac and Steph are going to be in town at Manna Mexico picking up food for those people wot want a change. I've not had Mexican in a while so it's kind of good in a way that no-one's going to be around in case, in the digestive aftermath, it turns outthat I'm more of a Mexican't.

After a morning where I so didn't want to get out of bed, lunchtime saw me going for a run with company. Ben (the networks bod) came with me. He's the one I used to do 10K with every week day, a year and a half ago. He's lost a lot of his fitness since then so it was nice to go at a slower pace and then push away from him for the last mile (of four). We've spent the afternoon planning routes of 10K which don't involve the A14 (as our original route did). There's a fab web site called MapMyRun which uses Google Maps to do the grunt work. It's excellent.

Tomorrow I intend to be in nice and early and getting some work done. I've got two new servers to install with versions of operating systems that we've never used before. So anything could happen (well, technologically anyway, there won't be balloons coming down from the ceiling, cheese manifesting itself in the CD drawer or the great god Zarquon chosing to make his first coming) but probably I'll just be compiling a list of gotchas we'll need to work through before we use the systems in a live environment. Then there's leaving early for the gym, relaxation and checking my bike for Saturday's run up the abandoned railway line to a village just north of here. Rumour has it that although the tracks have been taken up the ballast (stones) is still there so going might be "rough". We'll see...

[17:35] Life continues on, the fog keeps hanging around in the morning and my inbox is still a pleasant place to experience of a morning and in fact for most of the day. This week seems to be mainly about very, very long emails of import (both personal and work related). I'm looking forward to the sparse bits of time I get to chat to people at the moment.

I burnt a CD of the most recent version of our AV and security CD today in preparation for Jenny coming back with her laptop of great out of datedness. Other than that I've been working on documentation updates and trying to still get a response from RedHat about this bloody Application Server 1.0 child channel for RHEL3. I don't know what their problem is, I really don't, but they're amazingly bad at responding to any phone calls I make to them. As of today I'm going to start ringing once a day until I get a proper response from them. This is getting stupid now.

Didn't get to the gym last night owing to chatting online, but it was a one-off opportunity and I did run four miles yesterday lunch time. Tonight is climbing night so I'm off home now to repack and head on out again.

Oh, turns out I'm going toto be feeding a friend's cats for the next week. Haven't been a pet feeder before (other than guinea pigs when I was very young).

[17:15] Having Cormac over for the evening meant that I worked through some NCIS episodes and then our way through the last few episodes of Battlestar Galactica. Unfortunately he had to leave with Steph before we were more than ten minutes through the finale. I ended up staying up very late (again, given last night) watching more NCIS and generally distracting myself such that I didn't do much in bed other than fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Far better than dwelling on things.

OK, so I was fairly shattered this morning but the cold, dry weather, the freezing fog and the empty roads made the cycle in extremely enjoyable and I've found myself rising to the day's challenges with alacrity and enthusiasm. Which is nice. I've just this second had about a forty minute chat with Jenny who's over in the US for the next two weeks, which was nice. She's heading for breakfast about now, if her upset stomach can deal with it. Maybe dry toast is the order of the day. Now, to calculate the difference between BST and MDT.

Anyway, I need to get to the gym so I can get home in time for hosting Sam this evening. Night all.

[16:25] I'm not actually going to go into what happened for much of the weekend. This is mostly because I don't really understand it myself. What it comes down to is "Oh dear", "Hmmm", "Oh", "Oh!", "Whee!", "Drat", "Phew", then a fabulous birthday meal for the lovely Samantha. I had the opportunity to sit next to a rather lovely young lady called Mel and then chat to people at Keith's afterwards. There was then "Heh", "Whee", "Mmmm", "Wow!" and a bit of cycling into town for some guide books. Then I helped Jenny update her laptop (even if the antivirus application is still broken utterly). Without even Service Pack 2 installed we set the download of that going and went for dinner at a local curry house. Owing to the speed and outdatedness of her machine I didn't actually finish updating it to a point that I was reasonably happy about until around 02:00 this morning. Cycling home in the cold was exhilarating, as was most of the weekend, in various ways. Rollercoastertastic.

Consequently I was completely shattered this morning and I'm considering not going climbing this evening even though I'm sure I'm putting on a bit of excess around the back again. Damnit, is this how it's going to be for the rest of my life? Some kind of rearguard (ho ho) action against excess? Instead I will stay home, do some more washing, eat frugally and watch some Battlestar Galactica and NCIS. I may even play with Windows Media Center and see if it's worth all the hassle I've gone to in getting hold of it.

Oh, the weather's fabulous today. Cold, but tons of sun and a pleasure to cycle in. And speaking of cycles, I think I may be buying a new bike for myself soon. A birthday present to myself, and also one that'll put up with the amounts of cycling that I do and the Reivers Route I'm still hopefully doing come the end of May. Time will tell on that one. If there's anything I've learned in the last few weeks and months it's that planning Anything that involves other people is almost guaranteed to end in failure and/or upset. So I'm not going to until I find someone with whom it's a good idea.

As for work today. I did some. Some SSL certificate renewals, some fiddling with Java and still no BLOODY callback from RedHat. I don't know what the hell they're playing at but this is beginning to get ridiculous...

I'm so tired, it's a wonder I've done anything today. I think I'll go home soon.

[16:20] A quiet but productive day in the main. I woke early but dozed off again until around 07:50. Given I needed to be in work for 08:30 I then went into some kind of hyper-accelerated mode which found me at my desk showered, breakfasted, lunch made and safely cycled by 08:15. That's not half bad. We moved a machine that needed moving, got it cleaned up in terms of VLAN configuration and things similar and got it updated kernel-wise as well which means I've solved a weird pausing problem as well as clearing the old rack a little bit more at the same time. All good.

The morning passed quickly, as did lunch with Shaun. Our conversation was interrupted by other people we knew sitting at our table, but we caught up on all kinds of things, which was good. This afternoon I've mainly been installing RHEL 5 Server (x64) and pondering just what's happening in my life at the moment on various levels. I also need to see if I can get a small PC home in one piece this evening too so I can have a go at installing Windows XP and the MCE upgrade thingy I have.

Gym first though, not that I went on Tuesday, even after I said I would. Have a nice weekend, I hope I do.

[11:00] Today I will mostly be being dejected, flat and rather dulled around the edges. Climbing was good, the night following it wasn't so very good at all. A better night's sleep might have helped matters immensely.

[17:30] The day's improved a little with the final day of the cycle tour I'm going on now booked. Theoretically, barring other issues, we're good to go now. Of course, something is going to come up. Count on it. Still, it's good to know that I've almost pulled myself out of the last 12 hour's worth of funk naturally, rather than having to force it to happen. Hoping, of course, that it doesn't happen again for a while I'm still anticipating ups and downs over the next few months what with one thing and another. Ah well, at least I seem to be dealing better anyway.

You take the positive points where you can.

I had lunch in a canteen close by today with Cormac. Chips and a pasty seemed to restore some of my vim and vigour, as did getting my teeth into the stupidness of RHEL5's Client/Workstation installations. However at this point I'm going to go home. It's a standard Thursday evening this evening. We'll probably watch The Prestige. I think I may get a relatively early night.

[17:15] Busy again! Meetings all morning about pentration testing servers on the network, then into town for lunch with Jenny. Spent a bit of time wandering around an IT exhibition and then most of the afternoon updating my Kickstart setup with 32 and 64-bit versions of RHEL5 Server and Desktop. Now I just have to try some test installations of both, which should take up all of tomorrow.

I did some test Nessus scans this morning too and found that the state tables on the server I was using were in such a state (setup, not messy state) that I was killing parts of the network utterly when I did even small scans. We have some changes ready to try which should stop this happening again. Still, fun while it lasted.

Off climbing in about an hour or so, I should head home and get ready! Night all!

[17:35] Today not so good. Foul weather, nothing achieved, feeling generally crap about things and really hoping that tomorrow comes off a little better.

[ This journal entry probably brought to you by "low blood sugar" and "failure to organise birthday celebrations" ]

No call from Dell about the Application Server channel. Air-conditioning going down in our worst server room. Failure to find anywhere to book for the last day of a cycle ride in the Lake District (as yet). Failure to do something fun this morning. Lack of bread for lunch (my own fault and not so bad given the reasons). Broken software which won't install. Complete lack of desire to go to the gym this evening. Eaten too many chocolate fingers.

Everyone else in the office is going to their respective gyms. I think I will have to go too.

[18:15] Another great weekend! Woke up on Saturday feeling pretty fantastic all things considered. Wandered into town after doing some washing and things and met up with Jenny to see a talk by the guys who do the Ig Nobel Prizes. Very funny, most interesting and definitely something I'll try to keep up with again.

After that we went for a drink and then went our separate ways to do other things. I went to a party with Sam, Ian, Rosie, Cat and eventually Keith. This was a housewarming which Sam graciously drove those who wanted to come home again around midnight, which was most generous.

Slept like the dead and woke to find the sun shining and everything right with the world. So Jenny and I went for a cycle and train ride to Ely. We'd intended to go one one side of the river which'd be mostly track but the sudden violent winds threatened to push us into the river so we had to tackle the other side as well as dodge those people running the same route. After a few hours hard slog we stopped at the cathedral for some quiet and then a tea shop for some cake and hot chocolate. Getting the train home was altogether a much more pleasant experience.

I'll admit we spent the rest of the day relaxing at home and watching DVDs before cooking some steak and chips (a definite "I need to get some carbs and protein in me now" meal). Great weather, just not for cyclists and people with large power kites who want to remain in the same postcode.

Today I've been trying to get more sense from RedHat about where my child channel access went and how I can get it back, trying to get the DBAs to give me information that I understand how to work with, buying very cheap stuff in town and watching the weather to see if it's safe to go to dinner with a friend without being drenched to the bone and/or blown away.

Tomorrow is Tuesday.

[15:35] Happy birthday to my brother today! Shame only 1/3 of the present I got him seems to have arrived. Ah well, I'm sure it'll all turn up eventually. It has been another fabulously sunny day here today. I was up with the larks this morning and in work in perfect time to intercept the Dell courier who was bringing a replacement DIMM for me to fit. Since then I've done a ton of work with Perl modules, versions of the Java SDK and little niggly things which have been bugging me for weeks. Of course the server monitoring stuff I installed is a completely closed book to me with regard for whatever ports we'll need on the firewall, what it's going to do and whether I've even installed the right bit of software. Oh, and I went for a run too in some of the wonderful weather again. I'm pretty sure I can feel myself getting fitter too.

I should head off now and switch that DIMM, go home early, shower, shave and generally get ready for going out tonight. The weekend's all about science, partying and hopefully a long cycle ride.

[18:15] Another busy day unfortunately. I did get to cycle to work in shorts and T-shirt again this morning, which was nice. From the off I was doing server-related stuff and ended up having to squeeze my run in as quickly as I could (probably a personal best, but I forgot to check the time) so I could then cycle down into town to a) power up the two new servers I took down to the city machine room now that I have power in the rack for them and, b) swap an obviously faulty DIMM in one server from one slot to another to prove to Dell that it's not the motherboard that's at fault.

Then I cycled back into work and dealt with the explosion of work which has suddenly happened. First off I've got to create some user accounts, keeping UIDs synced across a few servers (don't ask about LDAP), install some Perl modules which require a change from the Java JRE to the JDK I hadn't installed because I wasn't told to at the time. This may necessitate doing funky things with the UPS communications software that the machine has installed too as it's using Java and stuff. Oh, and I have to install some load testing software on a few of the new HR system servers (web, app, DB) and get that to talk through the firewall to whichever monitoring machine we're supposed to be getting the information (while the network administrator is out of the office all day). Still, at least that's tomorrow.

I should really go home, I think we're watching The Prestige this evening which should be fun. Oh, I slept reasonably well last night, but I was missing something. Hopefully I'll get it back soon.

[13:45] Busy day. Sunny too. Just been for a run. Moving two servers from one machine room to another, then doing a medical experiment thing, then going climbing. Can't stop, busy!

[16:05] Mostly today has been about catching up on the 1,216 emails I had outstanding when I got into work this morning. That and getting machines subscribed to the 30-day trial period of "RedHat Application Server 1.0" which apparently we'd have to pay for these days. Never mind that we used to get it for free. Still, I've downloaded all the RPMs I think we'll need if this comes up again...

I'm a wee bit spaced today and a little peeved that the fig trees I got for my brother for his birthday haven't arrived fully (one instead of three) and the invoice went to him too (rather than me). Still, everything else seems to be on track, even if I'm still feeling mildly spaced. I think I'll go to the gym tonight, that may help.

Monday was more about lying in bed for most of the morning because there really wasn't much we could do given the flight time. Of course we made good use of the day by also going for a long walk on the beach and eating the remaining pizza and cereal. Around two we were out of the house and on our way back to the airport. I'm pleased to announce that for the whole weekend we didn't get lost once. Having dropped the car back at the hire place we were taken back to the airport where we had a drink, a snack and then boarded the plane home in good order. The flight was uneventful, again as was the perfectly-timed train home.

I ended up collapsing on the sofa on the way home and only just managing to watch some downloaded television before heading to bed without an evening meal. Odd to be back in my own bed again.

It may not sound it from the last few days' worth of descriptions but we had the most amazingly fabulous time ever and I don't think there's much we could have done better. I guess the reason they're not that detailed or descriptive is that it's all still settling in my head and much of the time it all blended into each other. Aside from some bits, which really stand out.

Sunday was Dublin day. Rather than drive in we popped outside of the front door and caught the commuter coach into the city. This gave us the ability to forget about parking and concentrate on seeing something of the city. Aside from not being able to find the national museum for some reason we did most of the big attractions aside from the Book of Kells which was a bit overpriced and not really something Jenny was terribly interested in given what else we could see. Eventually we simply ran out of steam and as the rain started to pour down we caught the bus back to the cottage again. Rather than cook we drove out to get a pizza (very Irish) and ate it while drinking the remains of the alcohol we had in the cottage. Bed came very quickly after that.

Saturday we designated 'get out and do things' day (as well as being my 30 years and 11 months birthday - presents!) so we were up fairly early to get to Newgrange, a megalithic passage tomb only a few miles from where we were staying. Unfortunately there wasn't a tour until 13:15 so we spent a while in the exhibition and having cake and drinks before being driven by bus to the hill and guided inside and around it. The amazing thing about it is that on one day of the year (the Winter Solstice) the sun's light reaches all the way into the central chamber, even to this day. Following that we used the map we'd bought in the slack time between arriving at the visitor centre and going on the tour to drive up to Carlingford Loch and do some walking around the woods above Carlingford itself. Given how hungry we were we stopped in Carlingford first of all to find somewhere to eat and found a fabulous deli which also doubled as a tiny restaurant. Suitable filled we then made the short drive out of town to find a forest road which would take us up into the wilds surrounding Carlingford Mountain. A few miles in the forest was enough to tire us the rest of the way out and, as the weather also began to close in and the light faded, we drove home again. By the time we were home the only thing we wanted to do was read and relax so following some brie sandwiches (something I'm becoming addicted to recently) we simply headed to bed for an early night after watching a video (the one and only time we turned the thing on).

So Friday morning I was up at the crack of dawn. Actually it was before dawn considering I got to the station and it was still dark outside. Met up with Jenny and we hopped on the first train to Stansted Airport. Only to jump off and get on the one next to it which we thought would be faster. Only the first one was faster and stopped at less places and we weren't on it. Still, it didn't really matter as we still got to the Airport in good time. Checking in and getting through Security we did pretty much as soon as we got there. I lost my mini-shampoo bottle and contact lens cleaning fluid as they were both over 100ml (like I had any choice on size with the contact lens stuff?) but everything else got through perfectly well, thank goodness.

The flight was a Ryanair bus ride in a 737-800. Nice and quiet but I'm damned glad we weren't flying any further than Dublin when it came to comfort. An uneventful trip and my first one on such a commercialised flight. Tannoy adverts for alcohol and scratch cards, I mean really!?

Not having checked in luggage meant that we could head straight out and find the hire car desk. While Hertz, Avis, etc. were in well-located, branded booths staffed by uniformed people ours was around a corner, unstaffed and almost completely unbranded except for the name in black and white on a board. This did mean that the price was excellent though. After ringing the telephone on the desk we were picked up and driven to the unit where the car was waiting and after paperwork was complete we headed out onto the M1 and north to the cottage I'd found.

The drive was lovely and we found the place with the minimum of effort. I just have to say that the place was absolutely fabulous and I couldn't have chosen better. We settled in and then popped out to get some food for the time we'd be staying. Once back we relaxed for a while before going for a walk on the beach which the cottages (ours was one of a few varying shapes and sizes in a mini-gated estate) backed onto. Naturally, being by the sea and ravenous we stopped off for fish and chips before walking back at an accelerated pace to the cottage to devour them with some wine.

[17:15] More achieving! I've done wadloads today after a truly excellent evening of climbing and fun. Took a friend climbing for the second time and was pleased to see them improve on how they were the first time. Had a great night's sleep and was in work feeling frisky and raring to go on time today. I've been achieving all day and was very pleased to be able to get out for my two mile run at lunch time. The weather is still bloody excellent which made the run really good, again, and I'm looking forward to getting out of town tomorrow until Monday afternoon.

Tonight's Thursday should be pretty cool with Once Upon a Time in Mexico and probably a few Scrubs episodes before I kick everyone out for the night. I've eaten tons today but still feel hungry. I think my mojo is coming back and it needs feeding. Perfect timing, I say. Perfect timing.

Hmm, what else? Oh yes, I was the blood sacrifice for the installation of a Sun x4500 "Thumper" (not ours unfortunately) this afternoon, so that's going to work swimmingly when the people who're using it get it online. I've just managed to get the second replacement database server installed with the bare OS and started the up2date process running. I'll try and reboot the thing before I go to bed tonight. Other than that, see you on Tuesday!

[16:50] Still waiting on RedHat's Technical support and the RedHat Network team to work out why I don't have access to the right (child) channels such that I can install the things I need "The RedHat Way". Ah well, I'm not in that much of a rush. But imagine if I was...

Anyway, I woke up feeling quite energetic this morning and that's carried on throughout the day and through the two mile run I did at lunch time. It carried on even further until someone kind of killed my buzz a little. I can't blame them too much, I think they're feeling a bit under the weather, but it would have been nice to have my mood reflected a bit and maybe enhanced. Hopefully I'll find someone later at climbing who'll be in the same frame of mind as me. Oh well, all this energy and no-one to bounce it off at the moment.

I also have a whiteboard full of new tasks to do. I wonder how many of them I can fail to do before I finish this week. There's lots of documentation to write, some servers to configure, a tnsnames.ora file to distribute to all my Oracle Client installations and then someone to talk to about the new HR system. All go really. Shame I'd rather just do something fun and outdoorsy for a few days instead.

Climbing this evening took a bit of organising what with one thing and another but I think it's going to work out OK at the end of the day (no pun intended, given the time of the day we go). I should head home and get my things together.

[16:35] Although I didn't climb last night I did get to have a very nice evening anyway watching downloaded television and reading in bed. Quite an early night to be honest, but still lovely anyway. I wasn't expecting to be in work in time to move another server (and had SMSed and emailed the networks guy to tell him not to rush in) so was slighty surprised when I was. Only to find that the networks guy hadn't come in early not because I'd told him, but because he'd forgotten about this morning and hadn't received my SMSes. Anyway we still managed to get the server moved and more of the old rack tidied.

Truth be told I've spent the rest of the day trying to get some sense out of RedHat's support system over the reason we don't seem to have access to "RedHat Application Server 1.0" any more for RHEL3. Some time ago I installed one machine with RHEL3 AS and installed tomcat5-5.0.28 from the above child channel. Fast forward to today and the only similar channel is "RedHat Application Server Beta" which doesn't have the same version in it. For some unknown reason we don't have access to that child channel any more. I've spoken to sysadmins at other places and they have access from the same kind of entitlement/subscription as we have, but we don't. Anyway, I'm expecting a call back tomorrow about it which should hopefully solve the problem.

In the meantime I have to decide if I'm going to the gym, going to the gym for less time and then hightailing it to the cinema, or just not going to the gym at all and going to the cinema. I did go for a two mile run (in slow preparation for working back up to 10km a day again) at lunch time to try and get my mind off the stupid RedHat thing, but I think gym too.

[17:55] OK, I wrote this entry once and then lost it die to my machine crashing (first time in a long long time). So as I was saying... I've had a really productive day today. From getting up and in early this morning we've been moving more machines from the Medusa's hair of the old Dell rack to the shiny new tidiness of the new Dell rack. Along with that has been me trying to work out why one of my Dell PowerEdge servers wasn't kickstarting. This turned out to be because out of all of the PowerEdges I've configured over the years this one had decided to use NIC2 as eth0 and NIC1 as eth1. This was, as you can imagine, non-optimal for getting network traffic to flow given the standard place I initially put the network connection. I've now disabled NIC2 and everything seems to be fine. I must say these dual Core2Duo machines go very very quickly.

Elsewise today I've been to lunch with Shaun and Cormac, done some organisation for a trip and tried to work out what I'm having for dinner this evening. I've also done some other stuff, but it's even less journalworthy that what I've already written.

I should probably go home at this point.

[16:50] Very busy day. Lots done. Had a great lunch out in the sun. Racking servers, doing things for the rest of the day. Can't really stop now as I'm off to the gym soon.

Erm, the weekend. Yeah, well tonight I'm having steak and chips. Hurrah. Tomorrow I'll be going for a walk, I hope. Saturday night is a belated birthday celebration thingy with food and some theatre. Not sure about Sunday yet. Have a good one yourselves, I'm off to gym, then maybe fit my new chain ring.

[17:55] March already! How the hell did that happen? I swear the months are just beginning to fly buy now. This must be what it's like to be getting old. I have to say, I don't like it much. I mean, it's not like I'm going to die tomorrow, but you can appreciate the passage of time more as it begins to pass you by seemingly more and more quickly.

Maybe part of it is that I'm working quite hard at the moment and that always seems to make the days go by a lot faster. Anyway, yesterday I went to the dentist and paid £45 to be told that my teeth are still in good shape and to have the tea stains cleaned off. Must drink less tea. Other than that I headed to a bike shop or two to find out that I really could do with a complete new drive train for my bike. This is going to cost on the order of £125 with labour costs on top. I'm thinking it may be time to treat myself to a new bike instead. I've not had one in seven or so years (not counting the one I got on the insurance when my first decent one was stolen, I'd have to check old journal entries to tell you when that was). Given it's my primary mode of transport I think I'm entitled to have a good one. The thing is I've just spent some of this month's free/play money on a mini holiday so rather than get the bike this month I've gone for replacing my ourter chain-ring and dealing with things for a few weeks. Hopefully that should arrive soon because my chain is slipping like a bastard at the moment.

Work today has been moving servers from one rack to another (remember I said something about this a while ago), doing wiring, eating eclairs and installing RHEL3 on a Dell GX745. This is definitely a Microsoftian experience as I think the OS is causing the machine to actually slow down, even thought it's a Core2Duo machine with 2GB of RAM. Anyway, installing a working, Oracle-client enabled version of TOra on it has taken more time than it should have done. That and Firefox with all the trimmings has made me late for Thursday evening so I should head off now before I have people waiting for me on my doorstep.

In other news, I think I'm getting close to the end of something. Call it instinct but by now I think I've a bit more of a feel for this kind of thing than I used to. Perhaps that's why last night's conversation was ever so much fun. Cryptic much? Yeah, sorry. Call them aides mémoires.