Older blog entries for Al (starting at number 87)

Finished my first OU module last night by handing in the End of Course Assessment. I'm not really proud of it but I've got good grades so far this year and so pretty sure to pass. The module (T171) is compulsary for all computing degrees but is nothing much more than an introduction to computing and the Internet and could probably be completed in a week full time but is dragged over 8 months part time. There's a gap now till Feb 2002 when I start programming modules using Smalltalk and C++ neither of which I knew much about (yet).

Work is still veering off in funny directions and management keep talking about Windows architectures now - very worrying. My cunning plan is to compile a report comparing the Windows model (and managements chosen software suppliers) with solutions based on Linux and open-source. I need to show that on paper we can do everything as well as they can, and then go on to show that in practice we can do it better. Fortunately the investors appear open to this suggestion. Most of this will be done in November though when I've finished this damned audit.

Someone had the bright idea of starting an audit process. Going through all the sytems looking for patches and other stuff that needed to be done to the machines. I am now drowning in paperwork mostly policy and procedure documents and the output from portscans across the network and new firewall listings. What have I started :/

There has been a couple of quiet weeks for new films, but in the last week I've seen The Fast and the Furious (lots of fun, lots of cars), Enigma (slow paced at times but good overall), and The Score(Cliche but enjoyable). Not a bad haul and more good ones soon!

The Enigma stuff is becoming a topic of interest to me now. Having seen the film last night I looked up some details of a talk I attended by Dr Mark Baldwin earlier in the year on the same topic. As chance would have it Channel 4 were showing their documentary about the work at Station X this afternoon. I think I need to go visit.

I'm a little worried about the state of the job market at the moment. We're on hiring freeze with no pay-rises and bonuses shifted having made 30% of the company redundant. Both my housemates have had similar situations at their companies. None of us have lost our jobs but friends have. Worrying.

In 1998, as a VAX/VMS user, I was horrified when Compaq bought DEC and all the resources and support that DEC and their WWW site provided vanished behind a huge Compaq logo. Times changed at Compaq though and in the last 18 months I have grown to like the more open Compaq that has embraced Open Source. I realised today as I spoke with support engineers about a problem with the kernel module that supports the SNMP server agents that I would miss the support and the technology if/when I have to start buying HP PCs with which I do not have such a pleasant history.

To contrast: I'm getting increasingly frustrated by the terrible service levels offered by the domain registrars. At first everyone left Network Solutions because of their terrible customer service, but slowly all their competitors are starting to follow their lead. I have so many outstanding domain transfers with all registrars it's stupid and it's a farce. Amid all of this though Nominet still shines out as an example of how it should work.

Finally, as so many have already done, I should like to express my condolences to the people of New York and Washington and the families of those that are missing.

After spending Friday dealing with hateful and corrupt (in more ways than one) Outlook mail files I swore I would avoid using PCs this weekend... managed BBQs and pizza instead... tomorrow back to .pst files.

Disproved the myth that there is no such thing as a free lunch by having one. Someone else paid for dinner too.

Back to work. Boo. Starting the process of migrating all the sendmail installs to exim. It's amazingly simple to do... why I put up with the issues with sendmail for so long is a mystery to me.

I finally completed my OU assignment. That's it for normal assignments for this year but I have one final mega-assessment due in October.

Finally got around to reading Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone in preparation of the film later this year. It's an excellent book, I was about to buy the others when someone leant me Them: Adventures with Extremists which is rather odd but strangely compelling.

26 Aug 2001 (updated 26 Aug 2001 at 23:15 UTC) »

Back from Edinburgh. Had an amazing week.

Saw loads of really good shows (will try and dig out some links tomorrow) and did lots of walking and eating and watching. My knees suffered somewhat (seats rarely made for people 6 foot 3 :/) frankly it was worse than being on a plane.

Many new books and CDs too. Madness. Caught up with Mr W, though Mr B is still on his hols.

Need sleep, right now.

I wonder if me and Bryce could do a show... It has been suggested... I should talk to him and Alan :)

Edinburgh
Pissed off with Amazon. That's the second time I've ordered books early in the week expecting them to be delivered in time for me to go on holiday and they've taken 4+ days to deliver something that's "usually ships within 24 hours". Gits.

The train up from Bristol was delayed slightly but I discovered the relative pleasures of travelling first class and so a extra hour on the train didn't bother me hugely (I got more free drinks). Arriving in Edinburgh was a joy. The bus to the campus wasn't bad and the rooms are fine. Pub in the evening.

Woo. Friday evening at last. The last couple of days have dragged somewhat - probably something to do with impending holiday :)

Most of my time in the last 24 hours has been spent trawling through documentation for the 9110 trying to work out how to make it work as an modem for my laptop. I figure I can't go on holiday without a network connection. Anyway turns out that if you set the baud rate of the cable to 56K at both ends and various bits of ritual sacrifice you can now get it to dial in at 9600 (the max for data calls on all but the Orange GSM network).

Lots of packing to to do. Tomorrow morning at 10:40 I get the Virgin Train to Edinburgh for a week. Superb!

I always find it hard to focus at work when I'm about to have a few days holiday! This is made even harder by the boss being away as well.

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