Older blog entries for Al (starting at number 93)

It's been a relatively quiet few days. A lot of my time has been spent working on some SMTP-AUTH and TLS stuff with Exim. Why I didn't migrate from Sendmail sooner? I have no idea. Big mistake!

I appear to have become a little bit sucked into Nokia Game. Very sad. It's taking a remarkable amount of time to play and I shall be glad tomorrow to move out of the real-time tunnels hell!

Took some time out yesterday to take part in a weekly meeting of the UK Campaign for Digital Rights. They are doing some interesting work on Copy protection and the EUCD. I have a lot of reading to do (links to come).

Been reading still: Lord of the Rings (part 1), Quiddich through the ages, and PWA. All very good.

I have started moving from using mostly Netscape to mostly Mozilla. This is still a difficult task for someone who works for a web company with designers who worship at the alter of flash and DHTML.I have persevered (with bug reports) where previously I would have gone back to Netscape. Mozilla 0.9.5 is certainly an improvement on any previous version though there's still room for improvement (I know, I know, get on and do it then!)

Fortunately for Bryce there has been a reprieve for Piranha. Various bits of PHP and C lie in patch files on my machine not looked at for a week. I'll wait until he's really busy to send it to him :)

The shift in excitement (away from Piranha) has been caused by Web Services and my current role as evaluator of company policy. I thought web services was something we'd been doing all along - since we're a company in the services sector doing web stuff... how wrong was I? The basic framework is extremely exciting and putting aside the huge hype that currently exists around Microsoft .NET and loking at offerings from other companies I've realised this whole revolution has been going on for ages and totally bypassed me. I am swamped in material on XML, UDDI,and long whitepapers produced by IBM.

Those in the UK and with an interest in Digital TV and Public Sector Broadcasting should check out Oftel's Review of pricing of conditional access services and related issues. There are various questions in here that Oftel raise and responses can be emailed to them.

Had a car trauma day on Thursday. Noticed cracked windscreen as I was dropping car off for MOT (32 quid), lead to me spending part of the afternoon at Autoglass getting a new one (60 quid), and then having to go back to the garage as I'd left my debit card there and they'd given me the wrong MOT certificate. When all this was sorted, about 4pm, I got to the Post Office to buy the car tax and found they don't take plastic. Nearest ATM was at Cribbs so fought through end of school holiday traffic hell there and back to get cash and finally the tax disc. Got home at 5:30 feeling exhausted and as if I'd wasted my day off work.

Just remembered I have 25 days till I go to the US... now where's my passport?

Bored.

Looked at Piranha. Had a few ideas. Bryce will be wincing right about now. If not yet he will be when the patch file arrives :)

I installed devfs on my workstation at work on Wednesday afternoon. I was impressed for a while until I upgraded the glibc on my machine and various things stopped working suddenly. Took this as a sign that it was time to upgrade 7.1 to 7.2. Mistake. Not really Red Hat's fault I suppose but their X setup tool and Matrox G400 video cards don't get on well. It seems to cause a lock up. I'll look at this again later but I ended up having to install on another machine (with an Intel graphics adapater) and now things are back to normal. Lots of errata (some avoided like the plague) later and I have Ximian Gnome and Red Hat 7.2 looking and working like my old machine. Various new toys to play with such as Ext3.

Some UKUUG things today. The CFP for Linux 2002 is out already. Last year was a lot of fun. Meanwhile they still don't seem to have a venue for the Winter 2002 conference.

Management and sales did eventually move into the room next to mine, but not before we'd purchased a bolt and made sure they couldn't use the connecting door to bother us! It's not much further to go out into the hall and round but it's the principle of it.

I think I might be addicted to Harry Potter. I can't wait for the film to come out. Meanwhile I started reading Chamber of Secrets on Wednesday night and was so engrossed I hardly slept last night and had to take the book into work today to finish the final two chapters. Very sad.

Watched Bryce watching zenIII handle a lot of Red Hat 7.2 mirror traffic.

Rumour has it that the sale and management teams are moving into the currently empty office connected to mine. I'm not sure I like the idea of either group in such close proximity. Also there are four desks in each room (3 in use in mine) and there are six of them... so even if one person sits in the desk in the window I'm going to have to have one in my office. This scuppers my plan to keep the connecting doors shut and locked from my side.

Oops. I've been neglectful again!

Mostly I've been ill. Some horrid virus thing had me feeling grotty for about 8 days and I still have a cough that keeps me awake at night :/

Work has been very busy. First a W2K fileserver decided it no longer wished to serve files and in fact no longer wanted to have any sort of filesystem. Then there were some problem with gremlins in the backups etc. All quite exhausting when you are already ill. Started looking at Interchange (flying vising needed soon), DB2, some bits of Piranha, tmpfs and DevFS. Various Compaq kernel patches which needed some modification. Translating some of our firewalls to iptables and some other stuff I forget. *phew*.

Have watched Run Lola Run (ace), Phantom Menace (OK), and Startup.com (anything but OK). I have read The Fifth Elephant, The Truth, and The Hobbit and enjoyed all of them.

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.

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