30 March 2010

General Relaxation

Well I haven't posted for a couple of days. Have felt really under the weather and just didn't want to touch a computer.

I might have mentioned that my wife works in primary schools, and unfortunately she seems to get every illness that is going around between the children. Unfortunately she came home with a cold last week and I then went and caught it.

So between Sunday and now, I've had a running nose, cough and sore throat. It's meant a couple of days off work, but when feeling rough you can't enjoy it.

Luckily I'm now feeling better so work is back on tomorrow, and I'm now able to let you know what I've been up to.

Sunday was an early rise as I wanted to see the Australian Grand Prix. Much better race this time, with some overtaking, and a brilliant decision by Jenson Button to go in early for tyres. Definately won him the race. Interesting to see Lewis Hamilton's attitude afterwards. Almost like a spoilt child. He needs to think about growing up a bit. Sometimes the team might not make the correct decision in one drivers eyes but it may be a better decision for the team.

As the weather forcast hadn't been that good for Sunday, we decided to stay in and watch a couple of films. We're members of lovefilm so get films regularly at a reasonable price. This time we saw Capote and Prime. From my point of view, Capote was the better film. Prime was definately a chick flick, so not really my cup of tea. Just need to send the pair of them back and get another couple for the Easter weekend.

Apart from watching the square box in the corner, I haven't done a lot for the past 3 days. The only benefit has been getting the chance to watch 'Everybody Loves Raymond' and 'Frasier'. Normally I'm at work so it's nice to see something different.

If thinks go well tomorrow, I might get the chance to do a bit more family history. It's been so long since we had any major updates with our data that it would be good to get things started again. I've manage to get a bit done lately, but still would like to spend more time on it.

Anyway, it's time to sign off so I'm going to tune my guitar for a lesson tonight.

27 March 2010

Lonely Saturday

Didn't have a good night last night unfortunately. My wife works in primary schools and if there are any colds to be caught, she'll catch one. No sooner did she get over the last one she has caught another one. It wasn't her fault but last night she was blowing her nose a lot and that was waking me up.

What made it worse was that I enjoy Formula 1, and this morning was qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix. So I was awake at 5:30am to see the pre-waffle and then the actual driving. Wasn't the most exciting session around - why not just have 30 minutes qualifying with everyone involved. The authorities should stop making rules so that the big boys have a good time.

I then went shopping to our local Sainsburys store. Didn't need a lot as we're still not eating large meals. I know it's lazy but our fridge is full of ready made salads at the moment. It makes life easier for us, and it also means we are portion controlled. Unfortunately we suffer from portion distortion so even a plate of home prepared salad would end up looking like Mount Everest.

My wife left mid morning to go to a pottery workshop with her mother. This is the third session she's been on, and I think she surprises herself every time. The first time she made a name plate for the house which I still need to hang. The next time was napkin rings, but we forgot to get them back for Christmas (no-one came to visit us so it didn't really matter). Look forward to seeing the results of this session.

I therefore returned to my 1911 Census research. I've now managed to get through all the names, including the 22 I had that were a bit of a query. Most of them look to be mis recorded so I don't think they were ours. The next job will be updating our website as this hasn't happened for a while.

Whilst doing the family history I had the Crystal Palace v Cardiff City game on. I'm a Palace fan and have been for a number of years so was able to see the game of Sky HD. Palace didn't look like a team from the bottom three just a shame that they didn't get a good result. The 10 point penalty was a big blow to the club. I just hope that they manage to survive this season and can start with a clean slate next season.

26 March 2010

Problems at the Office

Oh dear. Today really hasn’t gone well.

It started OK with another drop in weight. Another pound dropped and I still don’t feel like I’m starving myself. I’ve recovered from the illnesses so thought I would want to go back to the grilled protein item and vegetables that I was eating, but they just don’t appeal. Hopefully I will continue losing at a steady rate and will then be able to go through my wardrobe and throw out the items that are too big.

Once I got to the office, I started the day by re-booting three SQL servers as we still haven’t been able to back the systems up using Netbackup. The backups are still hanging even after the reboot so we logged a call with Symantec in an attempt to resolve as soon as possible. They tell us that the reason they aren’t working is that the SQL servers need to have a patch installed. However they didn’t explain why the backups used to work successfully and now they don’t. I guess that’s one of the mysteries of working in IT. Things work today and not tomorrow and vice versa.

We are also trying to rollout Windows 7 to all the machines in the company. We’re concentrating on the Head Office at the moment but unfortunately we have a problem with printing. For some reason none of the main printers in the building work with Windows 7. We’ve checked the manufacturers site and apparently the printers aren’t supported. We’ve not got to look at a different solution as we need to get this sorted.

Had a run in with another department in the company as well today. I’d previously asked the cut off time for a Next Day delivery and was told 1pm. So at 12:25pm today I asked when the kit needed to be with the team if I sent the request now only to be told it had to be with them by 12pm. So started a whole conversation about what was actually required. All I needed was to know when the cut off time was and it lead to all of that. Why can’t we get people in that know what they are doing.

I did have some success though. I returned to the server I was working on yesterday – the one that blue screened 3 times. I decided to try installing a different operating system (Windows 2003 R2) via SmartSmart and surprise, surprise this time it worked successfully. So now I have a server that I can configure on the network to use as a new SQL server. It is going to enable us to have a spare SQL server available to run some DR tests. That’s going to be interesting, but it’s something we need to do, just to make sure we are happy.

25 March 2010

Comment :: Driving Dilema

On my journey home tonight, I was concerned about one of the other vehicles on the motorway.

Initially the Mercedes was in the near side lane. The reason my attention was drawn to it was because the vehicle seem to be moving from side to side and actually crossing or running over the white lines.

I was worried at the time as I was aiming to overtake him. As I drew alongside, I glanced across and couldn't see any reason such as changing a CD or radio channel, lighting a cigarette or even using a hand held mobile phone.

After a while, I noticed the same vehicle pass me in the outside lane. I then saw him move into the middle lane in front of a white van. I could then see the vehicle continue to move from one side of the lane to the other.

My concerns were that the guy was either tired, or even worse drunk.

The question then going through my mind was should I do something. There was definately something wrong, but should I get involved? The only way for me to do anything would be to use my hand held mobile phone to call the police.

Would they be able to do anything, or would they pick on me as the easy target. They would have my mobile number, and would be able to trace me from that.


Following the fun journey in, today started along the same lines as every other day.

I was still looking at the problems with performing SQL backups. Fortunately the system I worked on yesterday was successful last night, so now I need to look at the other machines. Things still don’t seem to be 100% correct, but with a bit more work I’m sure that all will be successful.

Having spent some time working on the backup issue, it was then into a morning of meetings. Nothing major but it has been some time since I have sat down individually with each of my team. Now seemed as good a time as any. All seemed to be OK. Just a couple of issues to bring to their attention which we all chatted about and agreed. They’ll be having full reviews in the next couple of months so we can discuss other things then.

Now that the meetings were over, it was conveniently time for lunch. Other than going for the occasional off-site meeting at lunchtimes, I rarely go out. So today I decided to spend a bit more time on Family History research. I’ve been looking into the KETCHER name for a number of years on and off. More off than on recently to be honest, but since the release of the 1911 UK Census I’ve had a bit of a kick. So far I’m going through all the Ketcher’s that appear and trying to get them to match up with the records we have. Lots of success so far, and very few transcription errors compared with previous information. I’ve still got 100 names to check off, but over the next few lunch times I hope to knock those on the head.

This afternoon was a joy – NOT !!!!! Trying to build a Proliant DL380 G6 and every time I load the OS it gives me a Blue Screen of Death. So far I’ve tried 3 different builds, so now I’m going to try a different OS to see if that resolves the problem. Otherwise I’m not sure what I’m going to do next.

Wasn't the weather different this evening compared to yesterday. Bright sun and sunglasses then 24 hours later rain and thunderstorms. However I had Radio 2 on the car radio for the journey home. It was great just after the 4pm news to hear Livin' la Vida Loca by Ricky Martin. I know it might seem to be a weird song for me to make it known that I like however it brings back great memories of my honeymoon.

I can still remember it being sung at the Clearwater Hilton just before a large thunderstorm came in. We then moved under the bar canopy so that we could continue drinking cocktails.

Comment :: UK Transport

What is it with drivers in the UK. This morning when driving to the office, there was someone in a VW camper van who I don’t think had any clue about lane discipline. At one point he was in the outside lane with no-one inside him at all. I live in the busy South East and having to deal with something like that is ridiculous. In order to get past him I’d have to break the law (which I didn’t).

I then got further up the motorway and there was an accident. It looked like all the parties were OK as they seemed to be walking around, but there was a very long queue of traffic. The Highways Agency had put the matrix signs on, but that didn’t stop people tearing down towards the incident as if it was the end of the world.

And finally, when I came off the motorway it was foggy. And people were driving without lights. What is it with someone them. They seem to have the attitude of I’m all right Jack. I can see OK so it doesn’t matter that someone might not see me. I know that people seem to use the fog lights whenever there is inclement weather, but at least try and use them when there is a fog about.

Unfortunately we seem to now be in a society where having a car is a necessity so these problems are going to happen more and more. Eventually the South East of England will be just one car park.

Public transport hasn’t been the same since Dr Beeching decided to close may rural rail lines, and then the Conservative government decided to sell off what railways were left. If the government want us to leave our cars at home and use buses and trains for more of our trips, make it work for us. I have a 80 mile round trip each day and that takes me two hours. If I want to do that journey by public transport it would be a three hour round trip and then I’ll probably end up standing for most of that. With an election coming up, Public Transport should be one of the priorities, but I’m guessing all the time the car driver is filling the pockets of the treasury that will never happen.

24 March 2010

Backup Issues

Well today was fun – to begin with.

The garden was looking very sorry for itself so at the weekend we went out and did a bit of clearing up. It looked much better after all our hard work pruning and generally clearing up the mess. We also moved the bird table we have and put some new plants in. Yesterday morning I woke early and took a look outside. One of the plants was looking a bit 'unhappy'. When I got home from work, I watered it a bit in the hope that it would feel better. Will have to keep an eye on it for now.

Once getting to the office my first task was to re-boot the server I mentioned yesterday – the one that had lost connectivity to the tape library. Had to be done out-of-hours as it is a global system. Luckily all went OK and the backups ran successfully afterwards so that was a good job jobbed.

Then the problems started. I’ve been away from the office a while so haven’t been checking on everything. We were having problems with backing up our live SQL servers. Tried a few things and then thought I’d upgrade to the latest Netbackup Maintenance Pack. That didn’t resolve the issue so I investigated a bit further. I then found that all four drives in the library required cleaning. Oh what joy. Netbackup started playing up big time – and it didn’t matter that Windows could see the tape library – Netbackup refused to.

After spending about 6 hours trying different things, I found a web site that offered a number of suggestions, one being that a door was open which on investigation was found to be the case. I managed to resolve that issue, and to get a cleaning tape recognized which allowed me to clean the drives. Surprise, surprise cleaning the tapes allowed one of the backup jobs to run successfully. Will have to look further into that but need to bear the doors in mind for next time.

Having resolved the problems with the backups, I then downloaded a copy of the Microsoft Office 2007 Office Ribbon. I know it’s really bad but I had a good time doing some of the training on Word and Excel. In the quick 15 minutes that I spent on it (didn’t have a lunch break so thought I should have some me time) I learnt quite a few things I didn’t know.

Anyway, time to relax so enjoy yourselves and I'll write again soon.

Network Issues

Well the first day in the blogging world is over. What have I learnt ?

Firstly, that even though the experiences of a recent bout of Norovirus wasn’t very pleasant, it has helped me change my thought patterns relating to food. Before I was more than happy to eat just because food was there. On more than one occasion I have searched through the cupboards trying to find something to eat. I would often hide any wrappings so that others didn’t know that I’ve just eaten. In the week that I was unwell, I lost 6lb. That was a great boost as I’d been hovering around the same weight for months. Since clearing the illness, I’ve been eating more fruit and salad and have been slowly losing more. Another 1lb dropped yesterday, so more than pleased.

One of our sister sites has numerous back doors into their network. They were a company of about 20 people before being taken over. We have just performed an audit of the infrastructure and have found 4 routes into the network – two of them via wireless routers so not very secure. Lot of work involved, but we will resolve all the issues over there.

I’ve also found out that one of my team wasn’t following the morning checks routine correctly and have discovered that no backups have worked on two systems since Christmas. Examining the logs, the server has lost connectivity to the tape drive. Simple thing to find out, but obviously something that wasn’t checked.

Apart from these findings, I had an almost pleasant enough day. Cleared up lots of loose ends that have been left due to other commitments. Completed the building of a Citrix Presentation Server 4.5 machine. Added a number of new machines to the backup schedule.

23 March 2010

Welcome to my Blog

Where do I start ? Why am I doing this ?

The second question is definitely easier to answer so let’s start there, and that will naturally resolve the first.

I recently watched Julie & Julia and thought what a fun way of doing things. Julie Powell had a great idea and followed it through.

So why did that lead me to start blogging. I’m guessing I’m seeing it as a release for all the stress, strain and hassle I experience in my working life. I’m employed by an UK based IT sales company as their network manager. My job involves my staff and I supporting the expanding workforce to ensure that the network and telephone systems all work so that they can do their job. Doesn’t sound too difficult, but as I say, it’s a Sales company and unfortunately there is a lot of pressure on the sales people to make money, and therefore everything needs to be done yesterday. They seem to forget that other members of staff exist and also need assistance.

When I leave the office therefore, I look for different ways of forgetting the problems for just a few hours, until it all starts again. I do a few things in the evening, but sometimes you just need a break from the norm.

I think at the moment writing a blog might be a way for me to vent any of the frustrations and rejoice in any of the successes that occur.