Bog Roll ::

It's Not Magic, It's Work!

24 Nov 2009

SAP UK&I User Group Meeting (Day 2/Home)

Our talk went very well - though there were only a handful of attendees. I wasn't able to cover any of the technical detail of how we did it all - legal wouldn't let us say anything useful. It was all done with standard Perl and ABAP but if I told you how I'd have to kill you!

The train ride home was slow and tedious but I made it home all in once piece with all my SAP user group mementoes...

SAP UK&I User Group Meeting (Day 2)

Dinner at Old Trafford was good, got back to my MASSIVE suite at the Midland at a civilised time for a decent night's kip.

Breakfast was good - don't know if it was worth the £10 that the company paid for it though.

More talks today, ours is towards the end. First off there was some body language person, interesting but not really that relevant. So far the talks have been very below par, poorly constructed and not very well presented. The more you look round the more you realise how really good our SAP system and team is relative to other firms.

23 Nov 2009

SAP UK&I User Group Meeting (Day 1)

Today was the first day of the SAP UK&I User Group Meeting. Lots of scary looking vendors circling over lots of scared looking users. It's a very predator/prey atmosphere. At least I'm accumulating lots of useless "swag".

Tonight we have dinner at Old Trafford, my dad will be jealous!

22 Nov 2009

Vodafone - FAIL!

Today I tried to set my father's new phone up that someone has given him. It had a brand new Vodafone SIM and all the instruction. To say that it was confusing and poorly worded is an understatement. After messing about with it I found the incantation required to get a phone number, but I couldn't get the web process to work for love nor money. In the end we sent in a help request and we'll see what happens...

21 Nov 2009

Cross Country "Quiet Zone"

When I bought my train tickets I had an option to select a "Quiet Zone" or normal carriage. I picked "Quiet Zone" but evidently lots of people can't read, because it's so noisy in here that I can't hear my self think.

When I was in primary school, we were constantly told that children should be seen but not heard, personally I'd go further, children shouldn't be seen or heard. It would be a significant improvement if they strapped the families to the top of the train, not old would there be more space, but it would be quiet, less crowded and not smell so bad in here...!

I thought I was gradually be turning into a "Grumpy Old Man" but travelling by train certainly accelerates the process. Looking out of the train windows into the Midlands and now into souther Manchester on a wet and very dreary November day doesn't lift ones mood either...

Air Con

Many years ago I use to live in southern California. It's a warm place, with day time temperatures in excess of 30°C for weeks at a time. You get use to it quite quickly, especially as it's dry heat and though you do sweat buckets you stay dry most of the time.

There was one quite annoying and illogical thing about living in a hot climate, everywhere is so freezing cold. Most public buildings and many people's homes were air conditioned to the point of it being too cold to wear short sleeves or short trousers without feeling cold and uncomfortable. The house I lived it was only moderately cooled and because I worked in an old building work was acceptable, but a modern building such as a shopping mall or the cinema was freezing.

Today it's quite mild for the time of year, you wouldn't want wander about outside in short sleeves, but it's very mild. In my train it's freezing cold at the moment, I'm actually reduced to using my notebook computer as a "lap warmer" to avoid freezing from air conditioning...!

Freezing from too much A/C isn't something I experienced for a very long time, and it's not a good development.

Book reviews

This week I've been going up to Feltham near London for a training course. Normally this would mean a simple train trip and to pass the time I'd read books. This week because of a rain damaged bridge it's been a slow and complicate process - but I've at least had more time to read and think about books.

One of the books I've been reading via Reading is Linux System Administration Recipes by Juliet Kemp. Fatally I had high hopes for this book, I've followed her blog and columns and was expecting a very good book. The book is not bad, it's just that I was expecting so much more. My first problem with the book is that it's way too short, a slim volume just isn't suitable for a computing recipe book, the format demands a more lengthy work. My second worry is the topics that have been selected, it's not that they are wrong per se rather that there hasn't been sufficient discussion of the alternatives.

Another problem I have with the book is that Juliet is a keen advocate of Kerberos, which is good as it's not as common as it should be, but she misses the opportunity in the "centralising" chapter to talk about Keberose secured NFSv4, rather sticking to the older insecure NFSv3.

There are also some "school boy" errors that really should be lurking in a technical book, some of which have been picked up in the publisher's errata, some that have not.

I really wanted to like this book, however it feels like an unfinished draft, still missing content. I'll next have to write the book up as a full review on the LUG's website. The problem will be creating a constructive review, I think the book is a good start and I really hope that a later edition will be a great deal better.

Cross Country Trains

Going to Manchester on a Cross Country Trains service from Basingstoke. It's like playing sardines only not as much fun. Thankfully I have a seat reservation so I'm sitting down. I could have paid fifteen quid for a first class upgrade, which now seems like a good idea, but that's against company travel policy and I don't spend my own money willy-nilly on things like that.

The train may be full, freezing cold (or excessively air conditioned) but it has power, so my antique Dell Inspiron with 30 second batteries is pulling mains from the train, rather than not running. It's too slow for anything serious these days, but at it's good enough to play simple games on a train and give presentations with.

One of these days I'll get a more modern notebook, and I may even travel in a class other than "cattle".

15 Nov 2009

It's Alive!

My dead PC is alive again. DNUK sent out a replacement PSU by currier, and after a few hours of cursing it was all up and running. Nylon rip ties can be a pain to remove without hurting the cables they are holding together. I used Velcro when I put it back together. Yesterday I posted the old PSU back to DNUK as I'm happy that my PC is okay.

All companies have problems, it's all well and good to have reliable kit but how you deal with failure also make one hell of a difference. I have had problems with all three PCs I bought from DNUK: two Iiyama TFT LCD screens had temporary image persistence problems and one PSU has died. However they swapped out the defective parts in all occasions without a problem and with minimal downtime.

10 Nov 2009


This morning my DNUK home server was switched off. I switched it back on, the POST came up and before GRUB had a chance to start it powered off again. I tried again and on the second time GRUB came up, but again it powered down on it's own. As this box is my DNS, DHCP, NTP, WWW, IMAP and backup box this is not so good.

I've sent an email to DNUK, the box is still under warranty, so we'll see what happens...

UPDATE: DNUK got back to my email within an hour, and have dispatched a replacement PSU to see if that fixes the box, otherwise they will take it back and replace bits until it starts to work again. Seeing as I'm very busy at the moment and I'm in a rush this is an acceptable start.