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July's Journal



17/08/2018 [16:00] OK, just to tell you quickly that today has been dull and annoying, but not terrible. Although I have had to go back and forth to one of the server rooms more than twice because the 3rd party who warranty-cover a server with a failed disk sent us a disk a) in the wrong caddy (which I remedied) and, b) sent a disk with a firmware that the RAID controller doesn't like. Consquently we've a RAID5 set without redundancy over the weekend. Hopefully nothing bad will happen (like another failed disk) before Monday and a new disk arriving. The training course happening today was incredibly dull, but I've survived it.

I'm off now for the weekend. It'll all be in Croydon and points south of that as we attempt to do a casual 30mile ultra starting at midnight tonight. After that I imagine Saturday will be a fairly quiet day consisting mostly of eating and sleeping. Sunday I have no idea about at the moment. Then it'll be Monday again, obviously.

16/08/2018 [17:20] I got in to work very early this morning to do what I thought would be the simplest job of patching out of this sequence. Unsurprisingly, it being the most important group of servers in the set the database server decided to throw its toys out of the pram and pretend it didn't know which was its boot device any more. This is a firmware/BIOS bug in either the BIOS or the RAID BIOS. Luckily, I had a lot more time to play with than I would have if I'd come in at my usual patching time, so I was able to get it working again well within my patching/downtime window, thankfully. Then it was time to go into the training course for the morning. We broke for lunch, but it was still raining so I didn't get to head out until I only had time to do a moderately speedy 4K, rather than the very leisurely 6-8K I'd been hoping for. As it was I had to shower at speed and then eat my lunch sitting in the training course again. The course itself varies between deadly dull, moderately interesting, and barely comprehensible. I'd settle for simply holding my attention and being understandable, really.

Tomorrow morning I have to squeeze in a trip to the closer data center to replace a hard drive, and a meeting with some of the web team to discuss getting rid of some very very old servers which should have gone the way of the dodo years ago. All before going back to the training course. I will be leaving it early tomorrow afternoon so I can get the right (direct, if it's running) train to Croydon. We'll have to see how everything pans out, but I might not get to do a journal entry tomorrow, depending on time constraints.

15/08/2018 [16:45] I really didn't want to get out of bed this morning. It turns out Rachel in Croydon didn't want to either (ascertained via SMS) so at least I wasn't alone. I made it to work only a few minutes late, which didn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Over the course of the day I've done a fair amount of useful things including getting a new HDD ordered for a server which is predicting one of its will fail shortly, building three new VMs on a VM farm I don't use all that often (necessitating updating the template, as well as figuring out how the DNS registration works on that side of the fence), and a few other minor but important things. Over lunch I went to the gym for a bit of a workout, and hopefully haven't left myself in poor shape for this Friday's night run. I'll run a gentle 6K tomorrow lunchtime to keep myself ticking over and leave myself in hopefully a good place for the following day's night, as it were. Speaking of which, I got a response from my coach (coached me to a 3:04 marathon in April) and he's happy to coach me from six months out for my two 50 mile ultras next spring, so that's good, too.

I'm going to head off shortly, I think. Maybe go to the cinema to see The Incredibles 2, and then go home. Tomorrow morning's an early one to patch some live servers. It should all go OK, but you can never tell for certain. We'll see.

14/08/2018 [16:20] This morning was at least very productive. I got in early, had ten servers patched (one physical) and another new physical server installed and then configured to use two teamed 10Gb interfaces before 10:00. After that I spent some time working through my email and then going for a sprintervals session at lunch time. Oddly, after I got back to my desk post shower, and while having my lunch I got some very strange effects, like floaters, only far more twisty and turny, in my left eye. I don't think it was dehydration or anything like that, but they do seem to have gone away now, which is good. They were somewhat worrying. This afternoon I've therefore been trying to take it easy, and make sure that I entered the NDW50 again for the right reasons. I think I have (to beat my own time from last year, rather than for any other reason, like keeping up with Rachel). I also was told about two new servers which I should have been installing this week, but have only just been told about, so I've sent out emails saying that I'll get to them as soon as someone racks them up, and also asked someone to rack them up. More on those when I know more.

Otherwise I'm thinking of heading off a little early and going to the cinema this evening. Although after a quick look at the times of the things I'd be interested in, there's no real reason to leave all that early. Maybe I'll leave early on Friday instead and make sure I get the direct train to Croydon.

13/08/2018 [17:10] Lots gone on since I last put anything on here. On Wednesday evening I relaxed and generally behaved like it was the end of the week. Which it was, working-wise. On Thursday morning I got up lazily and fully intended to go for a run, but didn't. I cycled to the train station gently and got the train to London after worrying that I was going to arrive late due to cancellations. Once in London I headed across to Marylebone and arrived in plenty of time to eat most of my lunch in the station before Rachel arrived. I bought us some cupcakes and then we jumped on the train for Stratford-upon-Avon, changing at Leamington Spa. After walking to the hotel, we met Rachel's parents and caught up before relaxing a bit and then getting changed for dinner, preceded by drinks in the bar. On Friday most of the day was spent looking around the town and generally enjoying the tourist things you can do there. The rain held off for the most part, but when it didn't we took refuge in places and had food. It was nice to go back there and do different things to that which I did last time. Although I can't for the life of me pin down exactly when I last went, or indeed, who with. In any event, we saw the town by open top bus, had a back stage tour of the Swan theatre, and even did a riverboat cruise. All very enjoyable and relaxed. Friday evening was like Thursday evening with drinks and dinner and enjoyable conversation with Rachel and her parents. On Saturday morning Rachel and I got up and did the local parkrun. Rachel, as per usual at the moment, absolutely blew me away in terms of speed and finish time, which always makes me very proud (while at the same time disappointed in myself for not keeping up with her). Immediately afterwards we jogged back to the hotel, showered, and made it to breakfast in time to eat everything. After that we checked out of the hotel and did some more tourist things before heading to the train station and going our separate ways after changing at Leamington Spa. Rachel and I headed back to my place and I went out to Tesco to get food for the remainder of the weekend and this week. The end of Saturday was spent relaxing on the sofa and eating. Sunday morning was a gloriously lazy write-off with us not really stirring much before midday. We didn't bother with breakfast and went straight to lunch before heading out to cycled about 26 miles on Rachel's new bike (now with added mudguards) and my 'good' one, which hasn't seen the light of day since before I moved into the new house. Once we got back and were cleaned up we watched some Top Gear on Netflix before taking a break to logisticise some more of our running holiday in September. I then had a good think about why I'm so disappointed in my running ability at the moment and how it ties in with how well I feel Rachel is doing at the moment and tried not to feel disappointed that I didn't feel the urge to sign up for the NDW50 again next year like she has. Maybe I'll feel more like it in a few weeks, and if it hasn't sold out, do so then. We'll have to see.

Then it was this morning and Rachel headed out on her new bike and I on my slightly less new one to make an early start. After dealing with stuff at my desk I headed over to the further away server room to track down the server I'm supposed to be installing and did the initial setup of it. I fully intended to head back over there this afternoon to do the OS install, but after going to the gym at lunchtime and then waiting for the massive RAID10 array to initialise the day got away from me somewhat. In any event, I'll get in early tomorrow morning to patch and reboot a few servers and then cycle over there around 09:00 to get the install done. The remainder of the setup (which should be handled by Kickstart/Anaconda but isn't, because there's either a bug or I'm not doing it right) I can do remotely via the lights out management thingy.

I think that's it for now. I'm going to head home to have a dinner of Rachel's amazing stew that she made over the weekend, try to stay up late as acclimatisation for Friday's overnight run, and hope to not get caught in one of the torrential downpours we've had today.

08/08/2018 [17:20] I spent the entire morning in a server room attempting to get a RHEL7 server to kickstart in a manner which would use two 10Gb DACs to do LACP teaming across the interfaces. I was singularly unsuccessful, but with the help of a Networks Person I was able to at least get the OS installed and some network connectivity such that I could set the networking up properly by hand. I still need to see how to get it working via Kickstart, but for now I have the machine ready for use, which is almost as important. I had to forego the lunchtime run as I was hot, tired, and generally at the end of my tether after the morning, but I think a day off now and again is a good thing for my muscles.

This afternoon I've been doing research into this morning's problem, posting a few questions online, and getting ready for the short holiday which starts tomorrow. I won't be back in the office until Monday morning, so hopefully nothing will go too wrong while I'm away.

Tomorrow I head to London, and thence to Stratford-upon-Avon with Rachel and her parents. We hope to do a bit of sight-seeing, maybe a bit of running, and a whole lot of relaxing and eating. There's a good chance the weather will be one of: cooler, wetter, just as hot. Or probably a mixture of all three. I'll let you know. Rachel will come back home with me on the weekend, and then head to work from my place on the Monday.

07/08/2018 [17:20] I elected not to go to Tesco last night, so I was stuck with digging things out of the freezer for last night's dinner, and finding something edible for lunch today. I managed to do this, but I'm now scraping an empty barrel for tomorrow. I don't need much as I'm off away on Thursday, so it's only really tomorrow (and maybe Thursday lunch) that I need stuff for. I'll go tonight and get a few things, I guess.

This morning I got up early after an OK night's sleep (it's still hot here) and headed into work to patch and reboot thirty plus servers (two of them physical with BIOS updates). Everything seemed to go perfectly, which was nice. I handed back everything to the relevant DBAs/developers by 08:00, which was good. Since then I've been working on MySQL backup scripts, teaming stanzas for Kickstart/Anaconda to digest, and getting Networks to set up 10G ethernet ports with LACP such that hopefully things will work tomorrow morning when I have a go at doing some test builds of some new physical servers. Over lunch I ran a relatively fast 6K in the belting heat, but seem to have survived it fairly well. I think I might gym tomorrow, unless the weather is cool, in which case I may try to do another sprintervals session on the track. For now though, I'm off home to have a think about what I can get away with not buying from Tesco.

06/08/2018 [17:30] Lots happened this weekend. Let's start with Friday, and me heading to the train station to attempt to get the direct train to Croydon. I ended up arriving a lot earlier than I needed to (even with buying my tickets), and then passing up a number of other trains that would have got me to London sooner (where I could have then got to St. Pancras for a train to Croydon) and instead waited for the direct, which was late. However, once I was on it there were plenty of seats, air conditioning and I didn't have to get off again until Croydon. It got a bit more crowded once through London heading south, but otherwise all was well. On Saturday morning we got up early and headed out to the train station and thence to Reigate. Once at the station we walked quickly up the hill to the checkpoint we were manning (with others from 09:00 to 16:00 for runners on the North Downs Way 100 race. It was hot. Far too hot for someone like me to race even more than a 10K, and these people were doing 100 miles. No thank you. Once we'd closed down the checkpoint a family friend arrived and we sat around and had ice creams and caught up for an hour or so before she gave us a lift down the hill to the train station and we got a train back to Croydon. The remainder of the day was spent trying to keep cool and relaxing in preparation for Sunday. That was because we again rose fairly early on the Sunday morning and cycled to Lloyd Park to run the Vanguard Way (Half) Marathon. We'd decided that I'd fair a lot better if I ran the half marathon distance with our friend Fiona (and her dog, Elly, who also got a race number and finisher's medal) rather than running the full distance (which Rachel did; leaving us to return at the quarter marathon mark while she went on). Everything worked out nicely, I didn't get too overheated, Elly the dog ran well, and there was showering, lunch, plenty of rehydration, and Rachel finished the marathon in a stonking time considering the terrain and weather conditions. We said goodbye to Fiona and Elly and cycled home to collapse and watch old Top Gear Specials on Netflix for the rest of the day, as well as deal with some introspection on my part as to comparing myself to others. Then it was the end of the day, Rachel had made us another wonderful dinner, and it was time for bed. This morning we rose after our first reasonable night's sleep all weekend and headed to the train station together. I made it to work without train or cycling mishaps and have spent the day doing Monday things, going to the gym at lunch time, and the afternoon preparing a server for kickstarting as well as sorting out a first approximation as to how to use Kickstart and create network adapter teams at the same time. We'll see how that goes tomorrow after I've come in early to patch and reboot about thirty servers. For now though I'm off home to see if I can survive a short week without going to Tesco. I think it might be unlikely.

03/08/2018 [15:50] Hot again today. Probably even hotter over the weekend. This doesn't bode well for me managing even the half marathon distance on Sunday, let alone the full fat version. I imagine Rachel will do it in a sensible and very reasonable time and I'll have to get in a healthy amount of sunbathing while I wait for her to finish. There's a chance that our friend Fiona and her dog will join us for the run (doing the HM distance with me) so I may have company afterwards, or they may head off for cooler climes. The day before (tomorrow) I'll be marshaling for the North Downs Way 100, which given the weather would be my idea of a nightmare, and would almost certainly lead to me getting heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. There's no way I could do 100 miles in this kind of weather. I hope that the support I help provide tomorrow keeps people on track, moving well, and healthy.

Today has been a placeholder day for a lot of jobs I'm doing at the moment. Nothing particular has been done, but I have keep things ticking over, learned a few new things, tidied up a bit here and there, and been to the gym at lunch time. The direct trains to Croydon appear to be back, so I'm hoping to get one this evening and get to Rachel in time to have a pleasant evening together before we get up very early tomorrow morning to get to our marshaling point in good time. There's a mile or so's walk at the far end, which hopefully won't be too hot given the time of day we need to get there. Then, with some shade (I think we get an official gazebo, also, there are trees), a small vending station (serves drinks and snack and ice lollies, I think) we should be set for the day. An 'aunt' is then coming to visit us towards the end of our stint there, which should be nice. She might even give us a lift back to the train station at the end of the day.

02/08/2018 [17:25] After getting in early this morning to patch 21 servers (one of them physical) and having to apply a BIOS firmware patch twice before it took, I then proceeded to do a large amount of work with Ansible to get a new class of service Ansibleised. Somehow, in the midst of all of that I managed to royally screw the Ansible section of our Git repository, and I had to wait for someone with a lot more knowledge than me to get to work and - after having read bits of the Git documentation even he hadn't read before - fix the mess I'd made. As far as we can tell now everything is fine again, and I've even managed to solve my Ansible issues and build the server I needed to. After all of that I went for a very late lunchtime run and managed to eek out four 800m sprintervals in the midday heat. My VO2 max seems to continue to be on a downward trend, which is depressing, but hopefully getting at least one sprintervals session in a week should start to at least slow that down, if not reverse it.

I'm about to head off with Stacey to go and see her and Max's van conversion and then work out what I'm going to do for dinner. No ideas at present.

01/08/2018 [17:00] Apparently I have the electrician and some builders around at the house today doing the final list of snags post-EWI. I left the side gate and the storage thingy open when I left for work this morning after a very, very sleepy wake up (probably due to yesterday morning's stupidly early start). At work I've not actually managed to do any of the things I wanted to do today, which has been actually quite annoying. I can't honestly tell you why they haven't happened, but I intend to hit the ground running tomorrow (no pun intended, as I'm running at lunchtime given I went to the gym today) with 20 servers patched in the morning, and then a bucket-load of Ansible work, hopefully culminating in a cleanly-built server for some of the devs by the end of the day, or Friday at the latest.

Other than that, I fitted most of the stuff for Rachel's bike that arrived yesterday, but had to go to my local hardware store this morning on the way to work to get a bolt of the right length to go through the front fork to mount the front mudguard. The bike's a bit weird in that regard. Anyway, although the bolt(s) I bought aren't annodised, it probably shouldn't matter for what they're being used for. I hope.