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July's Journal
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[17:25] Some important stuff achieved today. A date for completion of something big for a start. Also, just before I went home last night I worked out why the UPS client software wasn't working. Somehow the local firewall had become enabled again. Totally and completely my fault. I've apologised to the people who were trying to help and today have been starting to push the software (Linux, Solaris/SPARC, Solaris/x86) out to the machines which are going to use it. The Windows guy and I who're going to be doing everything need to be reminded of the "fifty client rule" which I'll explain if you actually care but otherwise all seems pretty straightforward now. It's a less than ideal client/server solution, but it should work fine.

Otherwise I think I have a buyer for my Axis 2100 network web camera which has done sterling but almost useless service at home for the past five or so years as well as being a tiny power drain at the same time. Good to get rid of it, I think. I have no need for it any more.

Oh! And last night's deep fat wok frying experiment was an almost unqualified success! Tempura battered lemon chicken with rice. I'm giving myself a solid 7.9 out of 10 for a first attempt. Next time I'll coordinate the timing of the rice cooking a bit better and slice the chicken more thinly while increasing the size of the pieces. Also, I think the batter needs to be thicker, or at least more... fluffy. And my attempt at tempura battered vegetables needs work. Otherwise, it was really, really tasty and a nice change from the things I've been doing recently.

I think I'll head home this evening and consider whether or not to have cheap Domino's pizza from the new place very close by (take away any size for £7.99 can't be beat) or cook something. I think maybe takeaway. I am living like a batchelor at the moment after all...

[17:05] So it was a long, bank holiday weekend. Which meant plenty of scope for doing lots of things, or exercise, or missing Kris for one day longer than usual at the end of the week. I opted for a little from all three columns in the end. Saturday I decided to have a bit of a day off from running after the previous day's 10K and was all set to do nothing at all other than go to Tesco when I received an invitation to go out on the river. Two hours of moderately good arm workout later and I headed home again. Or was that Sunday? No, had to have been Saturday as I got an invitation to go and watch Dr. Who with people. Anyway, I didn't go and missed out on eating lamb, which was a shame.

On Sunday I went for a run! My 12.8K again. It was brilliant. I was up and out on the streets and down to the river before 08:00 so there was nobody about anywhere. When I got back I felt pretty good and in plenty of time to get changed and meet people in town for 11:00. Jon and Donna and Corwin and Jessica were in town so we ended up back on the river again, only this time we stopped off at one of the greens to have a picnic and meet other people before heading back again and then walking to a nearby playground for the purpose of lying on the grass for a bit while Corwin ran around and never actually got tired. I headed off eventually, came home and had a lovely bit of dinner before heading to bed.

The reason for the earlyish night was that I had to be down at the new server room for 07:00 this morning to meet the UPS engineers (who didn't arrive until around 07:30). Still, the work they did seemed to go pretty much perfectly and the rebalancing of the PDU draw on the dense Dell-populated cabinet also seems to have worked so we didn't lose a stack of servers when we came back off bypass this time. Which was nice. While they were doing that work I fixed two servers which has been complaining over the long weekend and was ready to go when they were.

Back at the office I pretty much got straight back up and was in a taxi to the server room we're clearing to pick up a server and move it to the new server room. That too went perfectly, which was nice. Since then I've done my 6K run, showered, had lunch, chatted to Kris and hopefully proved that the issue with the UPS client software we have isn't down to anything on our end. At least I hope so. If it is I'm going to feel very silly.

It's Kris' first day of classes today. In fact I think as I write this she's taking her very first one. I really hope it goes well. I'm thinking of her whenever I have a free moment, even though I know she's awesome and it'll all be going perfectly.

Tonight I make my very first attempt at lemon chicken with rice, doing my own tempura batter on the chicken and everything. I even bought a small wok (the big one already having been packed away). I'll let you know how it went tomorrow.

[16:35] A Frustrating morning trying to get this UPS shutdown software working even with the full cooperation of the firewall, the network and my team leader. I eventually had to put a call into the company who provided it... only to find that all the technical people were out on a site visit today. I have asked for a call back on Monday. That'll be amusing as it turns out that Monday is a bank holiday so I won't be in until Tuesday. And then I have to be at the new server room for 07:00 to let a UPS engineer come in and put the place onto bypass again while he does stuff.

I ran 10K (10.3K actually) at lunch time. It's the first time I've done that in a while and it was good to find that I could do it without feeling like I was going to die. I'll stick at that for a week or so then see if I can push up (eventually) to 21.1K (half marathon). That would be a nice achievement. Not sure I'd be able to fit that into a lunch break though.

So yes, bank holiday on Monday so I won't be back until Tuesday. Have a good one.

[16:20] Moved a huge server (plus its sliding shelf), did some racking, started playing with the RCCMD shutdown stuff for the new UPS and clients now that the enterprise license has arrived. Also slept a lot better last night, which was good. Other than that, the weather was so lovely yesterday evening I ended up cycling down by the river to do some coaching for an eight which was out.

I guess that's it. Other than watching a sofa be delivered to the apartment live on Skype. We truly are living in the future. And now, a haircut and thence to the pub to hear about why Cormac has his wrist in a split because of being hit by a taxi while cycling. He seems OK otherwise.

[17:10] Early start this morning. I was in and typing before 07:00 in time to get the 40GB Xen image transfered and running again within 21 minutes of the downtime window starting. Which was nice. Since then I've mostly been doing some minor patching, checking this and that, placing a tiny order for delivery to Kris (our first attempt at getting something delivered to the apartment) and struggling to work out why a DHCP hostname wasn't getting registered. It turned out that I was doing all the right things at the client end and the DHCP server was the one which was set incorrectly. That all seems to be working now. Which is also nice.

Right now, after running at lunch (must remember to add it to Endomondo before I go home) I don't have any activities planned for this evening. But I might end up being a scratch rower for some crew if Keith gets back to me in time. It's a lovely evening and would be a shame to spend it indoors.

[16:50] More machine moving today (just the one). Then lots of fiddling with new linux workstations for people. The first of the RHEL6 ones, at that. Not quite sure what's going on with SELinux given that it's disabled, but it doesn't seem to be causing any issues at the moment.

Otherwise today has been a bitty day as far as work goes. Which suits me fine as I'm in very early tomorrow morning and didn't want any stress today or to end the day such that I'd be coming back in to it tomorrow morning, and I also didn't sleep terribly well last night so haven't been the most sharp of people when it comes to doing a day job.

Anyway, all seems currently OK with the world, tomorrow morning's work should hopefully go without a hitch given the work I put in yesterday afternoon and with luck I may sleep better tonight. I also need to reply to some personal emails at some point but I've not been able to get an appreciable amount of concurrent blocks of free time to do so. Hopefully before the end of the week I'll be both free, awake and near a computer.

Time to go, I think. Tonight I intend to do some washing, some washing up and perhaps even watch something on the tellybox. That would be nice.

[18:10] I wasn't in on Friday. This was because I had some people coming to the house to do a lot of heavy lifting. The heavy lifting is now done and I feel much... lighter. Certainly more streamlined and batchelor-like. I think in a way it'll be good for me as I discover what I do and don't need to live my life. Anyway, that's that.

Saturday I decided that it was time I did a full 12.8K run, so after procrastinating about the bush for an hour or so after getting up I pulled on my AR Salomons (which after many years I'm starting to break in a bit more so they don't give me blisters when I wear them for races) and headed out. It was a lovely morning and I ended up doing the whole run without stopping (as I did last weekend). Suitably happy I went home and showered before heading into town to do a number of errands. On the way to finishing them I dropped in on Cormac and Steph to chew the fat for a while until it was time to go home and chat with Kris on Skype. Not much happened in the evening, which was nice. I could/should have gone to a party but I was so very much not in the mood for people, so didn't.

Sunday felt like a day that should be filled with exercise rather than sitting in front of the TV. Consquently I started the day with a 30 minute erg down at the boat house where I actually saw some other people (the place has been deserted for the last couple of weeks, even with the excellent weather). Once home and breakfasted I sat around for a while before deciding that maybe a cycle on the new cyclepath next to the guided busway might be a good idea. It is 22K to the top end of the busway from my house, and then slightly more than that back to town, Tesco and home. I did everything but the return home from Tesco at 90% pace and felt pretty tired by the end of it what with the erg as well. Lunch was inhaled at speed before another chat with Kris and then lots and lots of chilling out on the sofa.

Mostly today I have been catching up on all the tasks which ended up in my inbox over the course of Friday. I'm pretty sure I'm up to date now, including getting interfaces wired up and Xen networking configured for the movement of a live service on Wednesday morning. I also emailed people about some remedial work to the new UPS in the new server room and installed two RHEL6 workstations. I'll probably end up doing more with the latter tomorrow. Kris did some amazing work on the telephone regarding some extremely important stuff this morning (her time), which I'm very grateful for and rather proud of her for doing. Here's hoping things go smoothly from here on.

[17:35] This morning was another one of those early starts. I and two other people were in town before 07:00 to move an application and database server pair across to the new server room. It all went perfectly except that when I got back to the office I discovered we had that same old exim startup problem which plagues us every time we take down one the DB/mail box pair. I eventually got it working, but I can't tell you why because the person who set it all up never bothered to tell me if there was a trick to it which I am missing. Consequently I used a brute force method.

Last night was all about getting things together in the house. I think I'm pretty much as close to being ready for tomorrow as I can be. It'll be odd afterwards, but a Big Step in the right direction. More on that in a few months. Speaking of which I had a confirmation email (sort of, it's a bit unclear what it's confirming) just as I was going to bed last night. Kris looked into it at her end once she was up and about.

It turns out we have no idea what it means and we're just going to have to wait and see what comes through the post... or doesn't. It's possibly something to do with the change of address thing we did over the phone on 4 August, but I'm not sure. I'm so not sure I did a change of address thing online (and then regretted it as it worked this time). I guess we'll see. If the letter went to the old address it won't be seen until Kris' parents get back from a month away traveling. This is frustrating.

In good news I have tomorrow off. Everything is organised and the people are due to arrive in the afternoon. Which gives me the morning to check postits and things. Gah, I wish I hadn't did what I did, but I did, so it's done. I guess it'll all be OK.

On top of all of this I'm trying to shoehorn Redmine onto RHEL6 servers, and it isn't the easiest thing in the world. I think I'll go home and try it all on Monday.

[18/08/2011 - 11:10] Sorry about not doing an entry yesterday. To be honest the whole day's a bit of a blur. I know that in the morning we moved a server and its associated storage and tape drive from one server room to the other and then got it all wired up properly. Then I came back and went for a run which I didn't feel like doing even before I got changed, let alone once I was in motion. Still I made my way around at a good pace and didn't even feel too bad at the end. Although I did do something to my right thumb while getting changed which still hurts this morning.

The entire afternoon was spent working on getting some more ports livened up on the SAN's SVC for the mammoth server I built recently. I worked on it for so long it was eventually really time for me to leave and I hadn't done my journal for the day. So here it is now.

[16:45] Sorry, short entry again today. Lots done, no time for email, more Xen stuff, more machine moves, more learning about SANs and multipathing and blacklisting (more on that required tomorrow). Also two new linux workstations need building.

I love and miss my wife, and now I need to go home and see a man about a thing. I may even do some work tonight from home. Or collapse. I don't know which quite yet.

[17:25] I spent most of Saturday and Sunday doing things with boxes in the house. I went for a run on Saturday and managed about 9km of the 12.8km course (which I'm putting down to being out of the groove and it being really quite hot and humid). Otherwise I did a lot of good work, some of which I will have to redo shortly, but for good reason.

Today I have mostly being doing lots of Xen guest installations, troubleshooting failed connectivity (for a variety of reasons) and learning just a little bit more about VLANs and how RHEL deals with them.

I was just about to go home but someone's come in and told me that I'm moving a 40GB Xen guest from one server to another. At the same time the guest will be moving from 6GB of RAM and 4 CPUs to 126GB of RAM and 24 CPUs. We'll see how much better it does at running the stupid software it has to then.

Server moves again tomorrow and throughout the week. Only one will be an early morning (Thursday) with the rest just being during the day as and when we get authorisation to take services down.

I miss Kris a lot at the moment. It's odd to think that I won't get to be in physical contact with her for so long. The longest since we've known each other, I think.

[17:10] The entire morning was again spent at the other server room dealing with UPS engineers, air-conditioning engineers, entire racks of servers popping breakers, using screwdrivers to open breaker boxes and generally standing around rather than doing actual work. Although now it looks like the UPS management is well on the way to being fixed and the air-conditioning units will come back on again after a power outage. Which is nice.

When I finally got back to my desk it was so very much time to go for a run. Today, in keeping with my effort to try and not push my tendons too hard I paced someone for a 5K time trial they wanted to do. It allowed me to a) keep (for me) a nice gentle pace and, b) walk the last kilometre of the 6K loop I tend to do at the moment.

This afternoon I've mainly been fielding emails from developers who want small orbital planetoids on sticks, sales people who need two weeks to generate and email a license key and working out why a RHEL6 box with two KVM guests on it sent over 600 emails from cron saying it was unable to talk to the management software to deal with them.

I think I fixed the last one. Time to go home and sort the kitchen out and then have some dinner and watch a film. Over the weekend there's more stuff to do, and I might go for a nice long - but very gentle - run on one of the days, maybe erg for 40 minutes or so the other day.

[17:00] Today I have been mostly standing in a hot server room trying to reset the air-conditioning (I succeeded) and then doing lots of clever things with KVM for the first time. Mostly I just wish I'd spent more time at my desk. As it was we didn't get to move the servers and arrays we wanted to today because of yesterday's tape drive failure slowing down the duplications, but that's OK as we can probably just do it next week instead.

To be honest though, today was a good day. I didn't mess anything up, I fixed the air-conditioning when we were close to having about forty servers shut down badly due to over-temperature alarms (our maintenance people never even showed up despite being called repeatedly) and I learned a lot of very useful stuff about KVM. I think I'll go home now, do some packing stuff and then go to the pub and see people I haven't seen in weeks.

Other than being over at the new server room again for most of the morning helping get the UPS reporting to its management card again properly I'm very much hoping to go for another gentleish run at lunch tomorrow and then getting stuck into some more KVM stuff after that. We'll see how that pans out.

[19:30] Today I did so much awesome work with an IBM x3650 server involving serial console redirection, Xen and RHEL that I'm still at work at 19:30. But that's OK as there's no-one at home who'll be annoyed that I'm not there yet. The only plus side to this arrangement right now, I think. In othe news I went for a 6K run today and nothing hurt. That's even more good news. Other than that, nothing else happened. Seriously. Nothing. My life is that interesting at the moment.

[17:10] Bit of a varied day today. Up at 06:00 after going shopping and then out to erg last night wasn't pleasant. However, cycling through town was nice as it was deserted and the weather was lovely. I moved three machines from one server room to another, flashed another firmware onto the UPS management card (even though I keep insisting that it was the engineer fiddling with the relays wot broke things) and finished catching up on email and stuff... and then it was lunch time. I would have gone running but I forgot my stuff so instead I did more work.

The afternoon saw me armed with a hose pipe washing accumulated crap off the radiator fins of an air conditioning unit which had popped its breakers due to drawing too much power because of overheating. Sysadmin, gardener. My skill set is unlimited.

And now, long after I should have gone home today (having started work at 07:00) I've been rack mounting 12 core, 192GB of RAM servers and being told they need to be installed with RHEL5 and Xen stuff as soon as possible tomorrow. I do like being busy. Just not at the end of the day.

[17:10] Back again! Here I am. Kris is now properly ensconced in the USA and we've spent the last week or so getting bits of furniture (a bed, a sofa on order, chairs, tables, bookshelves, etc.), looking around a bit of the city and trying not to do too much shopping. I tell you, it's hot over there at the moment. I can see why air conditioning is a must in places like that. I just wish I was there too, or she was here. It's going to be a long time before we get to be in physical contact again and that pains me. A lot. Thanks heavens for Skype, that's all I'm saying.

Work is something I'm catching up with today and tomorrow. After that I'll start working on all the things I put in hibernation before I left and whatever else they hand to me. Tomorrow morning though starts with moving another three servers from one server room to another so it's a good thing I'm all jet lagged at the moment and will be awake at some stupid hour of the morning anyway.

There's not a lot else to say to be honest. I need to go to Tesco, get home, make some dinner and then start the first in a series of evenings of packing the few bits that need to be in boxes before people come to take them away. It'll be good on one level to live a spartan existance again, even if at this point in my life I didn't imagine I would be doing so.

Speaking of Spartans though, I have a promise to keep to Kris to get into a bit better shape before we see each other next. That'll have to start a little later in the week or at lunchtime tomorrow. I just hope I can start running again and my tendons don't play up. Otherwise it's just cycling, erging and restarting at the gym.