Working towards a better mail server.

I’ve been working hard at work over the last few weeks on the e-mail server for the department.

While working from home on Friday I really broke the back of the project and have been surging ahead. So, after this week diagnosing and fixing a bug in the Exim Dovecot authorisation code and re-writing the Exim and Dovecot configurations I now have a system ready for users to test. Phew!

So, this evening I wrote a project status page and sent an e-mail asking the users to play and try to break it. Silly me! 🙂

A bit of a weekend.

Hmm.. What’s been happening over the last few days?

Well, to start with I’ve bought and installed a new LCD monitor for my big machine and a fast 100GB hard disk for my laptop, the final mid-life upgrade I can install in it. Still, for a three year old machine it’s still not a bad machine to use.

As for social stuff. Saturday morning saw Robert Newson turn up. It’s been ages since I’ve seen him. I think the last time we met up was about four years ago or maybe more when he parked his coach on in a lay-by on the ring road and I went up to keep him company whilst he waited for a group to finish wandering around Oxford. This time the excuse was that he was attending a re-union of people from a youth camp he helps run in the summer in Norfolk. Don’t ask me why they chose to have it in Oxford.

Anyway, he manages to finally find my house (having taken a wrong turn and ended up in the middle of Blackbird Leys) at about half 10 on Saturday morning and after about an hour’s nattering I took him off to the church just off the Abingdon Road via Sainsbury’s. After dropping him off I returned home feeling shattered (having not slept well for most of last week) and found myself dozing off as soon as I sat on the settee. An hour later I woke up. Erk. So It was back off to Sainsbury’s and got my weekly shopping and returned home.

Still shattered, I managed to get another hour or so’s sleep before the expected phone call and it’s time to pick up Rob again.

The evening was good. After a pizza in town it was home again and lots of talking and playing with computers before he left just after midnight.

Sunday morning I got up at about 9:30am and, after talking to my parents on the phone, popped out to get my car washed and a replacement door catch for the downstairs loo. I also popped into Curry’s to look at the ovens as my current one has a broken door. I found one which looked promising, a Neff double oven, but I had to check that my cupboard could take it. I went back in the afternoon and ordered it, along with a new hob. It’s going to be delivered and installed next Sunday sometime.
And there you have it.. nothing really exciting. Now it’s time to take the rubbish out and go to bed.

Review: Primeval

Last Saturday ITV started their new Saturday night flagship Sci-Fi/Fantasy programme “Primeval.” I set my DVR to record it and I watched it a couple of nights ago. Here’s my review:

Short version.

If you like good quality science fiction programmes with a good plot and intelligently delivered, forget this programme.

Long version.

This program really should be retitled “Primeval Cliche: Fighting with Dinosaurs.” The initial pre-title squence pretty well set the scene for the whole programme with a woman running away from a large predatory reptile (not dinosaur as the “time portal” (more later) is currently connected to the Permian era snd hence it’s too early for dinosaurs) with cars being thrown around (and exploding) all “filmed” on a cheap digital camera system.

Now, the premise for the story might have been interesting. Indeed, some of the ideas, such as a sceptical university researcher being the main character, obviously slipped past the commissioning editors. I could almost hear the executives saying “we need more chases, and more dinosaurs, and action. There’s not enough cute charaters or love interests.. Oh, and of course you need a really annoying geeky character, don’t you to sell to the demographic!”

There are lots of chases, a cute flying reptile, a really silly characture of a Home Office official and an extremely annoying geeky student who is into conspiracy theories who I kept on hoping that the reptiles would eat as soon as possible. Add to this that the university’s researcher is pining for his long-lost love, who just seems to be using these time portals for some other nefarious use and it just becomes laughable.. except it’s not even laughably bad.

Now, if this weren’t enough there are really poor plot holes, such as: At one point there is an expedition through the time portal thingy with military involvment. Now, what tactics would you think would be involved here? Probably a team with some quite nasty heavy weapons who deploy a group just on the far side of the portal before the second group go exploring with the researcher? Erm, no. It’s the researcher with one soldier with a standard assault rifle which wouldn’t even stop an buffalo quickly enough in an emergency… oh and the researcher wanders off on his own and.. surprise, surprise, stumbles on his wife’s camera!

I could go on, but it would get rather repetative. The trailer for next week had giant insects in it.. probably from the Carboniferous. *YAWN*

Back to where I was…

Last Monday and Tuesday I worked hard on a program to back-up users inboxes on the new mail server I’m building. I got it all working, debugged, documented etc. and then tried to put it into the RCS revision control system…. where it promptly chewed it up and deleted it.

So, after nearly a week (with a few days interruption due to other work) I’ve now managed to re-write the flippin thing and managed to get RCS to swallow it and not delete it. So, I’m basically back where I was 6 days ago.

On other fronts, I realised this morning, “Damn! I forgot Christopher’s birthday last Monday!” So, RAC, could you pass on my best wishes and sincere grovelling to Christopher for being so disorganised. I’ll make it up, promise!

This weekend my Mum and Dad came to visit. They were to turn up on Thursday, but due to the snow it was postponed until Friday. It’s very difficult these days to do anything with my Mum’s current mental state so we basically stayed inside for most of the weekend. Even with both of us (my Dad and me) it was very exhausting keeping an eye on my Mum and keeping her out of trouble. I don’t see how he manages to cope on his own, to be honest.

New server update…

Well, last night I got spamc working, re-installed Gallery2 and managed to get that to work and transferred all the albums into it from Gallery1 and also got the ADSL statistics working again. So now the only outstanding issue is the temperature monitoring, which is basically out of my hands as the nVidia nForce 5 chipset I2C bus controller isn’t supported by either the ACPI system or lm_sensors.

Tonight I have a whole load of cleaning and clearing up to do in preparation for my parents’ arrival on Thursday as I’m out at the monthly Oxford Uni sysadmin social tomorrow evening. I’m just going to have to set my DVR to record “Stargate SG-1” and “Battlestar Galactica” tonight while I do the chores (and get it to record “Stargate Atlantis” tomorrow evening as well).

Oh, and happy birthday to me… not that I have any presents to open or cake to eat. Oh well.


Well, I can’t remember how long it’s been since I last did a proper update of this journal thingy, so I’ll give a quick resume of the last couple of weeks:

My inheritance came through so I’m now debt free. Yippee!

My Mum’s gone on anti-psychotic drugs to suppress her agitation and imaginary friends.

I’ve worked lots.

That’s about it really.

So, we come to this weekend. Due to Scan Computers International Ltd taking nearly a week to deliver the parts for my replacement (quiet) home server, I spent practically the whole weekend building the thing and getting all the services transferred from my old server. The reason for the haste is that my parents are coming up on Thursday and hence I wanted the spare room as quiet as possible. My old server had two very noisey fans which made it sound like a vacuum cleaner so when my parents (or anyone else) stayed I had to either shut the machine down or unplug the fans, which sent the CPU temperature through the roof.

The new machine is very quiet, except for an annoying ~50Hz vibration which resonateds through the floor. The case has three large, slow fans and the CPU fan is controlled by the motherboard. This is also helped by the processor being the energy efficient version of the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ so the heatsink/fan doesn’t have to work so hard.

Anyway, practically everything’s working now on the new machine. The only excpetions are spamc (part of SpamAssassin) doens’t work when run as any normal user for some unknown reason, I’m not getting all the syslog information from the router so my on-line ADSL graphs aren’t working and the motherboard sensor system isn’t supported by either lm_sensors or ACPI so my on-line temperature monitor won’t work. Oh, there is one other thing, the Gigabyte GA-M59SLI-S5 BIOS has broken ACPI tables for the IRQ handling, so I have to boot the kernel with the “acpi=noirq” option otherwise the kernel will just hang.