Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Catch 22 strikes servers

Here's another thing. The computer system I manage has been running, rather badly, under VMWare for the last couple of years. As a result of an entirely different problem (well, sometimes it's just necessary to get people to focus for a while on one problem to bring up all the others as well) I'm now in a position to move it back to a real, honest-to-goodness, physical server.

Well, almost in a position. Obviously, there's some testing to to, and some bits to install and tweak before golive. And what we find is: since setting the previous incarnation up, Active Directory has reared its ugly head. (The Ivory Tower has to find things to justify its existence: last year's thing was AD.)

In order to follow AD policy, I have to login to the server using a non-administrative login and do everything, once I'm logged on, using "Run As..." to do things that need administrative privileges. Painful but achievable, I guess.

Thing is, policy also says that I can't login via Terminal Services (aka Remote Desktop) if I'm not an administrator. And there's no other way to login.

Sometimes, people who think they know what they're doing just don't think things through...

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Monday, 23 February 2009


I'm not going to go into great detail here, but here's a thing.

My daughter hates me.

The reasons for this are long and complicated and maybe even irrational -- there's a professional opinion or two that suggests she has paranoid schizophrenia or some other personality disorder, whatever that easy phrase may mean -- but I no longer have any option but to avoid all possibility of any sort of direct contact for fear of what she might accuse me of next time.

Recently, she's started sending me text messages. It's nearly her birthday, she reminds me, and she's prepared to be "civil" if I am.

Odd word, that. Mostly, nobody uses it except as a word to describe somebody who isn't it. Or somebody who is, but only just, perhaps through a desire not to spill blood in public or through some misguided view of the concept of "duty."

It's a word used by someone who's spoiling for a fight. It's not a word used by someone who's looking for forgiveness for past wrongs, it's just too unemotional to contain the stuff that'd be associated with the resumption of a relationship that went where she took ours. It's a word that restarts something; not a relationship but a confrontation.

She's trying to achieve something here, of course. She's performing, perhaps, for her friends (here's me, showing forgiveness and the b^!^*%$* won't give me the time of day) or she's scared all her sources of never-to-be-repaid loans away and she doesn't know where her next packet of fags are coming from so she's wondering if the father she tried very hard to destroy might have forgotten some of the things she said and did. Her subtlety doesn't extend very far, though. She's after a birthday present and if she's also working an audience, it's a bonus for her.

Civility, even in its dictionary form, isn't a word that comes to mind, in this context. Nor, sadly, is forgiveness. For what she did to me; to her brother; to the son of her mother's friend; to her mother's ex-boyfriend; or to her mother; forgiveness is very, very hard to consider, even as an intellectual exercise.

The few friends she has left, by all accounts, are known as "emo" people. A flavour, perhaps, of the goths whose beginnings were rooted in the musical subculture that surrounded me, half my life ago but while I liked the music, I didn't live it!

I can't speak with any authority on this subject, but according to the boy she bullied all his life, they invent dreadful stories of how appalling their lives are then cut themselves in search of the twisted emotional release that pain brings.

There is much here I don't understand, I admit. But I completely understand the potential consequences of resuming contact with this damaged person; while she needs events that fuel the manufacture of the ersatz sympathy that feeds her disorder, it is completely unreasonable to enter that whirlpool myself.

So no, I won't be "civil."

She's in Coventry for good reason; she can't leave and I won't visit.

For her birthday, she can have the day she has made for herself. I hope she will one day be able to understand what she has done.

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Wednesday, 11 February 2009


Okay, thumbdrives are ubiquitous. Roomy, convenient, and with the growth in portable applications can be a really useful way to carry a familiar working environment around with you.

But they're not quick, are they? Even the fast ones aren't as quick as you want them to be.

Introducing my new toy: a 2.5 inch drive enclosure and a 40Gb hard disk from a dead laptop. Total cost: about six quid. Five times as much storage as my thumbdrive and far, far faster. So I copy everything off the thumbdrive and treat the new gadget just like my old thumbdrive.

One small concern: will I hit more problems with the NTFS format than I did with FAT32? Maybe I should have made two partitions. Maybe I'll do that before I go too much further... also, it needs two usb ports to give it enough power, but I think I can cope with that in most situations.

First impressions, though: marvellous. We'll see if I still feel the same way when it comes to carrying it in a pocket.

[Later] okay, I'm a coward. But I've repartitioned the drive (using the always excellent Paragon Partition Manager to do all the work) into a 27Gb chunk, converted to FAT32, and used the 10Gb remaining as an encrypted partition, created with TrueCrypt to replace the half gig Truecrypt volume I previously kept all the things I wouldn't want falling into the wrong hands. I'll probably never get close to filling it, but it's a sensible use for the space and, that way, I don't lose another drive letter.

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Thursday, 5 February 2009


It's my birthday in a couple of days.

I shall be <cough>

Sorry about that. A slight tickle in the throat.

I'm going to achieve the grand age of <ah-choo>

No, it's no good, I can't say it. They tell me I don't look my age. Mind, I can't easily see the grey hairs certain people have a habit of noticing on the sides of my head. I don't try too hard, either. But I try not to think too much about it either.

I remember working out, when I was a kid, just how ancient I'd be when the year 2000 arrived. Ancient, I thought. One foot in the grave, I thought. I was very, very wrong, but late thirties seems like a stone's throw away from long white whiskers, forgetfulness and reading the Daily Telegraph to anybody under ten; perhaps that's how it should be.

But why am I shy about it? The most formative years of my teens were spent listening to music that was, both spiritually and practically, revolutionary. I wasn't a proper punk, I suppose, given the apparent requirement for hard drugs for true appreciation, and I definitely got interested in the more experimental stuff that wound up being called "New Wave." (Although anything with swearing in it was always a bonus. Anyone remember "Johnny Won't Get To Heaven"?) Completely irrelevant, of course, to the age thing except that the moment I start remembering out loud the early days of The Sex Pistols (who were already past their best by the time they were at their most notorious) it's a bit of a giveaway.

I shall be 47, okay?

My MP3 player (I don't have an iPod, I've got more self-respect than that) is loaded with the music of my youth mixed liberally with the music of other people's youth and even quite a lot of modern stuff. (The oldest track on there is probably something by the Hollies or the Rolling Stones, the newest is probably by The Feeling. And there's a podcast or six but perhaps that's something that you have to be a bit crusty to get.

Anyway, my technophile nature has several desires for birthday presents -- things like a very portable hard disk caddy so I can stop worrying about the comparably limited lifespan of my thumbdrive, or a shiny new MP3 player that's got a bit more room for Stuff. But presents that are purchaseable by non-experts, non-geeky and reasonably affordable? Harder.

Roll on Saturday. Whatever else might happen, it'll be a good birthday because (a) it's at the weekend, (b) I can have a lie-in and (c) I'll be spending it with Bec.

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