Thursday, December 24, 2009


it happened - all tested to boot at Big Yellow!

this place marker for reuse of blog as genuine tool for

Sunday, September 20, 2009

all change at comm-tech!

Well, believe it or not I have now found myself sort of "promoted" at my place of work!

When I say that it actually means my boss has resigned, but the consequence is that I both do his job and my own and that I also have his authority, more or less. Which means I have a say in what is actually kept at the Big Yellow among other things!

I shall post on that once I am on top of things... hopefully before too long! Right now I need to busy myself with the building of a number of linux systems and an Optiplex 280 with XP for a custom order...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Big Yellow SPAM! and working in a warehouse of geekiness

so... another month gone by and it's been interesting on the work front.

I have lost track of the number of machines Ihave put together, suffice to say over a hundred; which averages out as perhaps five a day when I'm at work. But there's so much moreby way of geeky pleasures to be had that I feel really quite spoilt in that respect - as an example I have to assemble a tower with SCSI soon to wipe a server rack of 19 SCSI 36 GB drives. But the best bit is that every day is different.

And why the title? Well if you look at the previous post you'll see there's a comment (SPAM). BUT the weird thing is that, unbecknownst to BYTWITTERINGSPAMBOT then in my new work I spend about a third of my time working on bulk stocks of geekiness (from thousands of Optiplex P4's through to XEON servers, a host of laserjets, and even oddities like a dozen Emacs, which is a heavy item, believe me!). So I shall leave the big yellow ad spam there... it is a new kind of targetted twitter SPAM and it gives me something to chat with the lovely people at West Norwood about in the imagined idle moment(which never comes of course).

Oh yeah - and another good thing happened... I got paid! And that is not something to sniff at or take for granted. The real rewards are wanting to go to work when I wake and the sheer quantity of geeky goodness for reuse - far more than I can handle personally (so if you have an interest in any of it feelfree to comment and indicate what it might be!)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

HAVE JOB! (also Elonex and Twitter fail)

Following on from my work placement I'm starting work on Tuesday.

I'm working at the place where BLAG grew and I expect I'll be spending half my time at least during the first three months in a Big Yellow storage unit going through about two thousand machines sorting those that will post from those that will not and generally inventorying....

I'll be a bit of an authority on the Dell Optiplex range in no time 

The other sides to the job should get real interesting once we get the incoming backlog under control....

The Elonex, now received after previous post) has turned out to ba a slight fail, but not in the way I expected.... Battery is fine and life is as expected for a netbook (around three hours casual use).  However wifi is a pain in the ass and reception is far weaker than I expected.  This is key for netbook technology.... Also the linux on there is locked down.... it's OK so far as it goes and can at least be used as a very low power way to check email, make casual internet queries, and leave an IM client up if I want one.... But I think I am going to have to invest again for my mobile computing requirments (luckily I can maybe afford to now!).

Also I removed Twitter from this blog 'cause it started asking for a log-in, pain in the ass and if you ask me Twitter is a bit up your ass anyway!  I'm only using it extremely occasionally (which is not what it's meant for)  Sometimes I like to browse the Jack Schofield twitters, so I'll probably keep the account on - though I suspect you do not need an account to browse others - must look into that...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

bye bye HP2133 - hello ElonexT1!

OK - long time no post. But an update of sorts...

The HP netbook was let down by the SUSE on there - turned out that a KDE rollout when applying all updates broke the wi-fi! Being a netbook recovery was no simple matter - although I ordered the DVD from support when I saw them reduced another £20 in Curry's that was it - I returned it for a refund. At least I had something for three weeks.

Recently I won an eBay Elonex T1 netbook for under £100 and since that is half the price and older I shall not expect so much (esp. with 256 MB ram!). But we shall see when the delivery comes (I just paid).

The sony Ereader on the other hand is a great little gadget and even has an SD slot to go with the flash memory, so you can carry pictures and not exactly view them, but get a sketch idea of what is on there - this is very useful to me since my daughter has a digital camera and I have to manage her picture filing - I used the (stolen) laptop for an SD slot before but now use this.

I have taken my terrabyte Exchange server out of mothballs and am making good use of that to secore and archive now (after the theft). Only thing is I am worried about the electricity bill - so it is not on 24/7. Working on building a low power one or maybe using a G3 I could get... also on building a computer for my father - which will be a mammoth task as I want accessibility options for his limited vision...

More soon on that I hope!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Things are looking up...

bloody hell and this draft is over three years back!

Gateway to work...

And I am blogging as a break from writing my novel during the "CV surgery" (I came on this course with five CV variations all ready to go).

It is interesting to note that I can blog and access my personal sites... But if Iwere, say, to attempt to browse the Gumtree jobs category then my internet browsing would be blocked!

The IT department (cue laughter) are in hiding and they have cunningly made sure there is no identifiable office or signage to find them. But I know they exist (and I know they are thick) because I disabled a borked Windoze 2000 box with a BIOS password - and when I came back the next day the IT department had equiped said box with a mouse (it had none the day before)!!

there is more - but I want to get back to my novel writing inbetween providing IT support at varying levels to all the other people in here fighting the system!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Retail therapy

Ok so now I have an HP netbook 2133 to replace the laptop - graphics and CPU are modest as could be anticipated, no optical drive ditto... But what to expect for £200? Anyway, battery life is adequate unmodified and it gets me online... A neat sort of gadget

Another gadget added to my set is a Sony E-book I could not resist. Again £200 lighter, but I am hopeful this may effectively pay for itself over the course of four years in terms of E-books costing about 20% less than books at list price... now if only that reduced further I could be quids in. Let's just hope it outlasts four years heavy use!

At least the retauil therapy makes me feel less awful about the stuff I lost in the burglary.

Then again what with the replacement DS and the hotel and associate bills I seem to be facing a day of reckoning in excess of a grand... on the credit card.... and energy bills plus water rates are looming not to mention the car service....

Man, i need work!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Oh bugger it - I got burgled

lost three laptops and a webbook... but what hurts most - the DS I bought my daughter for Christmas....

not going to mention all the non-geeky stuff they took (this IS the geek blog!).

My own lappie was totally insecure - I hope they are decent crooks and wipe it and I am not about to have my identity stolen!

But still - all I care about is my daughter's DS - what utter bastards :(

Monday, January 26, 2009

The other kind of samba

well today I saw marmite lover posted about activists samba in Gaza

At the same time I am doing some voluntary work to sort out the IT for Mosac and my current plan is to retire one of their low end PC's (a PIII), wipe it, install Debian, and turn it into a Samba Server!

Monday, January 19, 2009

laptop glut

Full geek post alert!

On Sunday I was given three laptops and led to believe on might work.  Two HP Omnibook Xe3's and a Toshiba Satellite pro.  This added to my own laptop and the Dell XPS M1210 which I fitted a new hard drive to around September and have had use of ever since pending payment (hoping to keep the iMac G4 they also gave me to repair in lieu of payment since my sister WILL pay cash to have that fixed).

Anyway, one of the HP's was completely dead.  Neither had power supplies (but I had a generic that enabled me to test them).  Swapping hard drives has confirmed both HP's have dead drives.  The Tosh seems to have a dead hard drive also, and the supplied recovery disc is only one of a two disc set and gave Win 98!  Insertion of an XP disc an attempts to repair gave rise to an error code 4 on a file - so flat Xp install fails too.  Three Linux distro installs also fail (damn small, Ubuntu, and Suse).

These laptops were given me for renovation or use as able - great shame there is not one working hard drive between them.  Have yet to track down where the Satellites hard drive is also - it was mildly overwhelming (making me doubt my true geek status).  Best part of the gift, (I hope!) was some sodim which if I am REALLY LUCKY will fit the iMac!

They were a gift from another member of the Quaker meeting I belong to and I am hoping the Meeting will give me a small fighting fund to try buying a hard drive and getting the Tosh functional - but I can tell it is going to be a struggle - that fact the BIOS screen does not come easily or consistently makes me worry it is not just HD trouble - there was a CMOS checksum error at one point, and errors seem to throw from the optical drive also.

But... It keeps me busy!  Must not grumble... it is weird that these were given me saying they were going in the skip otherwise, yet still I shall feel bad about having to dispose of any of them to garbage.  I am hoping to save two out of three and even if it is only the Tosh I should not feel bad.

Friday, January 16, 2009


semi-geek post alert!

Well - the new blog is there, and it took it's time, BUT it is not yet stable, nor as I want it.  This is very frustrating for two reasons:-

My (un)friendly server guy takes it upon himself to tell me he is implementing at the weekend, then proceed to do so without warning on a Wednesday evening, which partially gives rise to the second frustration.  This means that I did some small tweaking and then lost it.  Worse still I have just found updates (luckily only a test post) that I made last night have seemingly vanished into thin air.  I cannot speak to him until tonight, but no doubt he took it upon himself to perform some sort of site restore, again with no warning.  It's hard for me to take any firm line or action on this because he provides the service free (though I do sometimes send him paypal donations for extra domains and hosting, which are usually generous).

The final Chyrp extension I wish to add worked once, before the sudden server move.  It is just adding a readmore link into posts, but I can see how that will enhance the blog and really want to get it working.  All attempts to get it to work again have failed - worse yet it feels like updates I make are not reliably going through.  I found a bad .htaccess readwrite entry and fixed that, but I think something else is amiss serverside after the move.  I cannot control this directly and am at the mercy of server guy (see above)!

It leaves me powerless and unable to go ahead with my primary blogging.  Also unable to make headway in the coding tweaking of the blog, which should be quite minor but is turning into a major trial.

I find it interesting when I try to detach myself how upset I get about this and how I cannot seem to detach and say "it's only a blog" and get on with my "real life"!

Then again I am having a minor swing into a depression, which I think is just partly January blues and the pressures of financial peril with my ongoing long-term unemployment.  Hopefully it is just a hypomanic depression and not a major one.  hopefully I canmanage it and get through it without majoy colateral damage.

And hopefully I can talk to server guy and we can come to a more friendly understanding!

Resolution of the remaining tweak to the blog may fall out of that, I need to try to take a cool logical approach and not let it annoy me so.  Also to be very methodical in how I work to debug it and stay focussed - perhaps interleaving work on the technical side with a little blogging once I have ensured there's some assurance anything I do will not get vaporised unexpectedly!  (Note to self, take backups of updates independent of server!).

Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

state of blog

So - the latest news, they finished the backup so far, and recovered everything EXCEPT the database!

Although I have a backup I made on the fifth January this misses my last two posts.  My mate has a ticket in asking for the databases, but as he said "I shouldn't get my hopes up".  I'm just grateful I do have a backup in the new database format, since the database holds all my users log-ins for returning registered readers as well as blogroll etc.

Also my mate is planning to move to the new server at the weekend, so even if it does get recovered (which would be nice) I shall have to wait to do any more blogging there or updating to the blog engine until he's finished - hopefully some time over the weekend.

It's about as I feared - so it seems I was not pessimistic but realistic.  I find it interesting that I am so attached to blogging - perhaps I should try to take that energy and direct it more to writing "creatively"?

[edit] database restored, my pessimism unfounded, but site still relocating server at weekend, so I should inhibit my blogging impulses until after that, then hopefully normal service is resumed ;) [/edit]

Monday, January 12, 2009

Lest any Didactic followers find this...

I somehow doubt this will be read by anyone who wanted to view my primary blog at but in any case, there's been a disc crash at the server end of things apparently.  Their support is not 24/7 and they are likely skimping on support staff, but they are digging aroung for the backup and maybe they'll be in touch tomorrow.

Whenever they do my friendly hosting guy will swing into action and use the backups to populate a new server he is directly in control of at a data centre he used to work at and we will be back in business.  My most optimistic guess is for tomorrow afternoon/evening (GMT)  and my most pesimistic is before the weekend.

Worst case scenario would be there's no backup and I have to rebuild my sites from my own files, but fortunately I have a database backup in the new release format.  Unfortunately it is from the fourth of January, so it misses a post or two.  I'm off to see if the Google cache and a little pasting can help me salvage that, anticipating disaster....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I feel the need...

... not for speed, no, but for a blog extensioon.  Below from #Chyrp IRC just now;

[08:14] oh dear... I feel the need to blog a poll - now I shall have to fiddle in another extension... 
[08:14] (that's irony, I think)

Anyway, the thing is it just occured to me (with my new literature based focus) that it would be interesting to know how many people read more than one book at a time and of those how many are male/female and whether they feel comfortable doing so as a natural way to read or not.

So, as you see, a poll.

Unfortunately oftentimes it seems implementing a seemingly small change to my primary blog will entail a gap in my actual blogging while I do so.  Watch this space (or that space)...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Blog traffic...

This is interesting.

My new blog has far lower traffic.  Yet my comments have increased many fold and are good ones!

I guess the moral of the story is that it is not about quantity, but more about quality.  It is highly gratifying though, since the driving force of my redesign was making comments both easier and more likely.  On the technical side the upgrade makes my spam filter (Defensio) effective and thereby enabled me to remove the requirement even to give name and email (never mind implementing Captcha, which I shall hold in reserve if spam ever does become a problem).  On the content side I am hopeful that the new literary theme will be more provocative for comments to come.

One niggle I can mention in this blog, being on blogger, was that I had to really frig with the profile blog setting (which annoyingly insists on ftp etc to try to trap you into posting from blogger; needless to say I do not do that).  Basically it is totally Blogger-centric, with an insistence on an address and page , defaulting to "http://anyblog/blankpost" or something.  Luckily for me the kind and considerate Lydia at Writerquake made a comment alerting me to the 404!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Shiney Chyrpie Blog Newness

I have just completed the migration of my primary blog to the latest greatest release of the Chyrp blogging engine and redesigned the look.  Comments should finally be working with no problams whatsoever (waiting to see if DEFENSIO is sufficient to keep spam at bay or if I have to implement a TXTCAPTCHA extension.

Better yet I have put in categories and this has helped me refine the blogging platform and how I use it - see here for details.  I also acquired an ancient Word Processing machine - early predecessor of the computer.  I might put a picture onto this blog, I think the acceptance of this outmoded ancient machinery confirms that I may, indeed, actually be a geek!