Older blog entries for MartBrooks (starting at number 52)

It's been a few weeks since I last typed here, and for good reasons. Work on making Clues is going, it's fair to say, more slowly than I'd like. It is also fair to say that it is going. We now have a few clients, one of whom we've even received a cheque from.

One more Clue that I can share with you here is that flyering for IT services (i.e. handing bits of paper out at London tube stations) is not an effective way of getting your phone to ring. So for now I'm resorting to the more traditional method of poaching my friends clients :)

This week has been a pretty good one, so far, but I can't wait for a phonecall saying that someone saw the site and....

It's amazing how major changes in your life really make you focus on what's really important. Hence my lack of diary entries here.

Jtrix, the company, is no more. Though the code lives on at SourceForge where it is, it's fair to say, being inactively maintained. :)

I work go into the gories as to why Jtrix, the company, shut down but it has left in a position to do something I've been planning on doing for several years. Start my own business.

In conjunction with my partners, we've formed Clues and I now have 6 week to make it work. Cool huh? :)


I've been having double glazing fitted over the past few days so I've been away from both work and keyboard.

Having double glazing fitted is fairly major surgery so I shouldn't have been surprised at the amount of damage to surrounding area nor the amount of mess caused. Still, the worst of it is patched up, and my decorator will be round this evening to tell me how much it will cost to fix the rest.

Five now has her own personal catflap, so she's nice and happy as she can come and go as she pleases without asking our permission.

My computer has developed a worrying fault: in some games, I get horrid corruption onscreen that makes the games pretty much unplayable. Secondly, I sometimes get a keyboard fault that acts as though the capslock is on and the shift key is held down. I have a funny feeling I have a motherboard fault. This makes me an unhappy bunny.


Despite being away, and with little or no connectivity, we've been having a few fun things happening. Firstly, we found a bug on the site which resulted in a mailstorm - sorry guys. If not fixed already, I'm sure CryoBob is on the case. Secondly,one of our remote offices accidently left a mail relay open. This resulted in a barrage of spam followed by a barrage of complaints. I'll be chasing up the ISP concerned in the next day or so. I don't like spammers.

1 Feb 2002 (updated 1 Feb 2002 at 15:55 UTC) »

I finally managed to install the two new 34gb hard drives on the file server - hooray! My users now have much more space to store their warez and pr0n.

An interesting outcome of this was that there is no command line utility for linux that will allow you to configure the array controller. This is kind of pathetic for two reasons:

1) They're hot pluggable disks! Half the point of HP disks is that you don't have to reboot your server :)

2) The config tool provided with SmartStart is a Windows application.

Compaq actually do provide a tool called ACU-XE for Linux which is unuseable for several reasons.

1) It provides an HTTP server (on port 2301) to do the configuration.

2) It only works if you have the array controller driver as a loadable module. As all my servers boot linux directly from the array controller having a modular driver is impossible.

One word, dearest Compaq: DUH.

I've been swappiong e-mails with a chap called Adam Kropelin who lurks on #kernelnewbies who feels pretty much the same way. There are IOCTLs for reading/writing the nvram in the driver so if compaq provide the docs.....


Fairly quiet weekend. The most significant achievements were tidying up the back bedroom so it's habitable and getting my home PC to dualboot Windows 2000 and Linux.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I don't suck quite as much as I thought I did at UT. Sub 50ms ping times to your server really do help. This is compared to 200-300ms on a modem.

All the bills have arrived, and I mean all: car insurance, house insurance, water, council tax, MOT, road tax, breakdown cover, electricity and telephone. Ouch.


My cunning plan to add some diskspace to the file server was foiled when I opened my drawer and discovered that my copy of Compaq SmartStart 5 has apparently been shot. Even more puzzling is that the cardboard holder it's in is undamaged. I ordered a new one from Compaq who outrageously charge 10ukp per copy and, even more outrageously, 5ukp for postage. At that kind of price they should give away a free server with every copy bought :)

Jim and Ulf tried to have a videoconference across our VPN yesterday using gnomemeeting. Voice only worked okay, but voice and video was apparently too jittery to be useful. I've more or less drawn a blank for a Linux based Open Source videoconference solution. ISABEL is the most feature complete to date but doesn't yet work properly. OpenMCU supports gnomemeeting and NetMeeting clients, but is very unstable.


Yesterday I spent a lazy evening in front of the TV watching the third Indiana Jones movie. Five didn't want to sleep in the house last night. Still, just a week and a few days to go til the catflap gets installed.

23 Jan 2002 (updated 25 Jan 2002 at 14:53 UTC) »

I've been playing with Microsoft Exchange's conferencing server. It's seems very stable but I've yet to persuade gnomemeeting to talk to it in a meaningful way. IE6, on the other hand, works perfectly well. Annoying.

We've been receiving a flood of connections to Windowsey ports to the tune of @8000 a day. I'm rather puzzled as to why to say the least. They bounce off the outside of the packet filter but it's a little annoying anyway.

I've finally persuaded the VPN tunnel from my house to work to stay up by the undignified method of sending a single ping packet down it every minute.


I've been improving my l33t DIY s|<1LLz, this time filling in holes in the cupboard under the stairs. The first lesson I have learned is that polyfilla applied an inch thick takes a while to dry. Should have RTFM'd first. I'm hoping that plugging the holes will cure the occasional funny smell (not unpleasant, just.. funny) that we get in there.

Lynda had to throw Five out in the rain this morning as it would be even worse to keep her locked in the house alone for 10 hours. She does have somewhere dry to sit, though, as Lynda propped open the shed door and put Five's blanket down in there. It's not all that cold today so I hope she'll be fine.


A couple of flapping services have resulted in a flood of spam from the monitoring system so I spent a few hours this morning trying to make sure that it doesn't happen again.

A well-timed e-mail to the editors of Linux User magazine, which I write for occasionally, means that they'll be a 2-3 page article on Jtrix in a forthcoming Web Services orientated issue. Thanks.


A quiet weekend, mostly DIY. I cleaned out the shed in order to put a layer of plastic down on the floor. There was an impressive amount of biological detritus on the floor, the oddest being 20-30 snail shells of various sizes. We then carted a load of stuff into the shed which freed up space in the back bedroom, which mean I could buy a clothes rail, which meant we could unpack a few more boxes, which meant the boxes could be thrown away, which freed up more space.... :)

Getting there.


As always Friday is backups day, and then I'll continue with the VLAN stuff.


The carpenter miraculously failed to turn up last night which left me growling a bit as I'd deliberately got home early to accomodate him.

Five spent the night sleeping on the bed quite happily. I was expecting to get clawed awake at some awful hour of the night to let her out but the worst that happened was a slight meow of complaint when I turned over and dislodged her from a comfy place. Bless.


I've spent this morning tinkering with backup scripts to replicate the live site database and content. This seems to work quite nicely though the only way to test, of course, is to recover the site to another box and check.

This afternoon I plan to play with the kernel VLAN module and see how well it works. If it works as well as I hope, I'll be able to greatly simplify the cabling in our rack at Globix.


We have the carpenter round tonight to correct a small problem with a section of flooring. I'll have to dash home tonight so I can tidy up a little.

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