Older blog entries for MartBrooks (starting at number 55)

Well, that's bizarre. As you can see it's been over a year since I last posted, mainly because I'd completely forgotten about Advogato - sorry :)

Clues is still going strong and we're, fingers crossed, about to take on two more members of staff. Dave has been working quite hard on his GPL'd ACAP server called Infotrope and Steve, is, well Steve.

I'm told that around 90% of companys fail in their first year, so, given the current UK job market in the IT sector, I think we've done quite well.

29 Apr 2002 (updated 29 Apr 2002 at 17:02 UTC) »

Despite my vow to update this regulary, it's now been a whole month since I last posted here. I have recently learned that persuding someone to let you do work for them is one thing, persuading them to pay for it afterwards is another. Still, Clues is soldiering on.

In a little blast-from-the-past, I got an e-mail from a chap who'd bumped into a long abandoned SourceForge project of mine - a GUI mail client written in Kylix called suckmail. Jon's mail client is a lot more complete than suckmail was and it prompted me to download and install the open edition of Kylix 2 and the Indy sockets components. I may waste some time butchering Jon's code.

We now have a kitten, Sina.


After a very busy week last week, this week looks like it will be slow. Starting up a business is hard work, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

We've redesigned the Clues website so that it now looks like, errr, a website rather than a random boilerplate holding page.


I bought a lawnmower today and therefore my garden has had it's first prune of the year. Tommorow is "Buy a Grass Rake" day.

Five was messily sick a day or so back, wooden floors have their advantages.

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.

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