Friday, January 04, 2008

Long time no blog, golden compasses, techie stuff, Christmas, etc...

Well, it has been a long time. Largely 'cos I've been:
  1. Ill
  2. Reconstructing / sorting / working out my PC and storage solutions both in the office and at home
  3. Spending far too much time watching Stargate...

Ah well - in order. Illness :( I came down with a nasty head cold / fluey thing the week before last, which hit me quite hard - I took two days off work and stayed in bed most of those days (although did do bits 'n' pieces of work here and there).
That's that. I'm over the worst of it now, so catching up on all the hierarchy work I haven't been doing - argh. Other than that I setup a virtual machine with a friend (www.loho.co.uk) in order to move the emails and websites that I'm hosting on a couple of machines in the office and free up both machines, noise, and hard drive space. This setup was very successful - upgraded & moved http://gallery.shippen.org.uk/, my site and the Campus one (my main web 'customer') - Campus, JK's email (the most critical of the services I host), and my email. This involved an exciting trip to Loho's DC in Canary Wharf to take a look at their services - quite fun, if you like being deafened by aircon and large racks...

This jaunt to the DC and conversations about virtual private hosting led me to think about offsite backups for Spiralinks, and what to do about this obvious hole in our setup. In the end we decided to purchase a large shiny 8-drive NAS box for Alex and I to configure as offsite backup (Loho using 1/2 of it as a main NAS for his VPS). This should work really well & takes the load off my hands for network backups. The NAS has arrived, Loho have installed it, and drafted a backup solution (which is very nice - yey!)... but, annoyingly, the drive that was posted before Christmas still hasn't arrived - grr...

I've also been consolidating the machines I use in the office as well - Albatross, which used to be my main linux workhorse has kinda fell to the wayside since I've started using my tablet as my primary PC. So, I decided to install it as a virtual machine server (using Xen thanks to Alex's influence...) for windows and linux virtuals (such as ACT, which still refuses to work on my laptop). I had a mare of a time getting the hardware to work (dodgy IDE controller, dodgy drive, dodgy USB devices, you name it!) but it's finally up and running and copes with VMs remarkably well. I've got a Windows XP image sysprepped so I don't need to go through the 100 or so updates any more! Just waiting for gnome to compile (will take about a day) before the machine itself has a usable interface... Since I wrote that bit, I've actually been using it as my main development PC in the office as well - and now I have accelerated graphics working it's really quite nice and quickly.

All this hassle means that I end up with about 1 TB of spare disk space - most of which is now sitting in the media centre at home for TV recording niceness - yey! It's nearly all working as a mythtv setup :)

We went to see 'The Golden Compass' a while ago - we were both pleasantly surprised in fact. I'd just read the book (The Northern Lights is its UK name) by Philip Pullman. We were impressed by how true to the book the film actually way - the characterisation was brilliant - there were clearly a number of simplifications, but not so many as to lose the book entirely - very good.

Christmas happened - was a nice family occasion in Horsham - I ended up cooking, and (if I may say so myself) it went fairly well - lots of lovely meat (Turkey, Beef and Ham !) and of course good company - not even too many arguments for once!

Boxing day I did yet more cooking for a few people left in Cambridge over Christmas. I had got some venison and pheasant from the butcher's in Horsham and cooked 'Vension Steaks and Pheasent Breast on a bed of spinach cream potato with mushroom and a redcurrant sauce.' - it actually worked, which was good, although the Venison was a little overcooked. I'll try again as there's lots of Venison left in the freezer...

Am tired so will sign off now - more later as I haven't even got to the end of December yet!

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