My motorbike has an oil leak

In the olden days of British Motorbikes, oil leaks were a way of life. If you ever get to visit the Transport Museum in Glasgow, you’ll also spot trays under the old cars to catch the odd drips that come with old engines. I don’t remember leaks under the bikes they have, but I guess it depends whether they are runners and are oiled up.

My daughter spotted a damp patch under the R1100RS on Friday, and right enough after a bit of checking on my hands and knees it looks like a small leak at the sump plug. I gave it a bit of a tighten, but it is still leaking. Having checked the standard problems with the bike, it appears that corroding alloy washers are a common problem. It will need an oil change to fix though, so I’ll be calling the local bike fixing place to get them to do it. It’s years since I did an oil change and I don’t have the kit anymore, and I reckon buying it would cost as much as getting it done.

Anyway, went out on the bike this morning and it is running well. I just need to keep working on my riding skills 🙂

Getting things done

A post by Simon Guest on getting Outlook 2007 configured for Getting Things Done has put me on to the David Allen methodology of the same name.

Using my doing it cheap methodology, I got the book for a few pounds from an amazon seller, and reading through it seems to resonate a lot with me. Appears to be a more developed version of what I try to do with email (when not overstretched) and is a lot more proactive than a todo list.

I like it, but must do it. 

Windows 2000 Server Recovery – the last chapter complete

So, a few weeks after I started the process, I’ve completed my book.

The last part of the book deals with Windows 2000 recovery, and I expected to have problems with this. I’m not sure why, but I had the feeling that any of that Operating System Stuff comes down to a rebuild. I can get IIS back up and running in most instances, but dodgy boot stuff (as we saw earlier) is a bit out of my league. I’ve still got my DC lashed up with a boot floppy so it will start.

And don’t ask me about hardware diagnosis – I’m even worse at that.

8/15 in the test questions at the end of the chapter – my worst score (blush) of all the chapters.

But now on to the Transcender tests – woohoo, I’m chuffed I’m at this stage already.

Windows 2000 Optimisation

I did well with this chapter, with 13/15 in the assessment questions at the end. I put that down to a bit of an obsession about machine performance, and the developer background. Starting, stopping and killing processes is the fare of the development process.

And performance monitoring with its graphs and counters is the nearest you get to a proper computer with flashing lights, so I’ve always had a play in there too.

And on a more serious theme I’ve used all of this stuff when those big multi-processor servers aren’t doing what is expected with a web site. All those subsystems in a web infrastructure can cause a problem, and I’ve sadly dealt with too many infrastructure dudes who stop at the base O/S and won’t go any further up the application stack. And of course, the appropriate remedy isn’t always a rebuild, even if you have a machine image and can get it back in 30 minutes. To the base O/S of course.

So you have to know how to use these tools to get your web farm, associated DC and database cluster all running sweetly.

Windows 2000 Remote Network Connections

These days I take the availability of a VPN for granted, but in the early days of my Internet experience things were different. At the time Demon Internet ran actual Points of Presence (POPs) which were modems sat at the end of a leased line, usually run by some sort of early enthusiast. The leased line would normally connect to something like a PIPEX backbone, and the modems would allow early internet punters to call a regional number (between local and long distance) to get internet access.

Back then sharing a 64K backbone wasn’t a problem, especially when a fast modem was 14.4k, the norm being quite a bit less than that.

I’ve just covered the chapter in my Windows 2000 Server book on Routing and Remote Access, the thing you can manage dial-up access from. Delightful settings such as ring-back options, dial-in hours, and IP allocation to remote connecting users – the stuff of legends.

Even VPN stuff, though I think this has been a bit different with the advent of ISA server.

MCDBA Lots of progress today

After the damage I did to the Virtual PC that is my domain controller (still booting from a virtual floppy) I’ve made great progress today with another six chapters of my book.

I got organised recently with my employer to devote a day a month over the next couple of months to training, so this was my first today and it made a real difference concentrating on it mid week.

I covered topics from file and print serving, with associated settings and permissions. And thrown in was a bit of IIS, network protocols and finally Terminal Services in its two modes. The flexibility around the topic of printing was impressive, I take that stuff for granted but the driver management and multi-platform client support is great.

Only three chapters to go, then I will do my standard two pronged approach at this stage. I hit the Transcender simulation exams, and more or less at the same time I book the exam to give me a target to aim at.

Fragged my domain controller

I’m on to the chapter in my book about disk management, so for a bit of fun I went for the “convert basic disc to dynamic” option. That appeared to work fine, did the reboot and didn’t restart. Something about NTLDR missing.

And of course now I can’t see those shiny dynamic NTFS volumes what I’ve made. I’m working through KB 301680 in a hope I can get it back.

Windows 2000 Policies

After a brief sabattical for family stuff (and purchasing stuff at Hein Gericke in Glasgow and riding the bike!) I’ve run through another chapter of my book in pursuit of the 70-215 2000 Server Exam.

I’ve just covered off Local and System Policies, so now I know where those system admins set those annoying password policies that make you come up with something brand new (and less and less secure) by remembering the last 20 passwords and making them last only 30 days. Oh and apparently there are things called GPOs (Group Policy Objects) which aren’t used to buy stamps.

Password policy options such as “Enforce Password History” remembers a specified number of passwords, “Maximum Password Age” keeps the password for a number of days. Although annoying from a user perspective, and consequently making a bit of a mockery of strong password choice, I’m impressed at the number of policy items up for grabs in 2000, which is after all a few years old now. And again impressed at the tools available to help the guys trying to keep their servers up and running despite the best efforts of the users.

The Security Configuration and Analysis tool is an excellent tool for checking how well you’ve spread the multitude of policies in meeting a standard. All top stuff. On to Managing disks now, which looks like it will be fun.

Windows 2000 Server local and AD users and groups

I’m just past the chapter in my exam book about groups and users, both local and Active Directory. The whole idea of users and groups is an old one for me, so not much new material. What was nice was the reminder of the extra information that Active Directory offers against user accounts, there is a whole pile of tabs to collect extra information that local user accounts don’t even bother with. Led me to reminisce about the old days when I used to hit these things using the early versions of ADSI and that the earlier versions of Microsoft Exchange were the best place to store user information. Oh and that hopping around providers was a necessity to be able to get to certain directory object properties. Windows 2000 really changed that, I guess Windows 2003 is even better.

The coverage of Active Directory is quite limited for this exam, mainly because there is a dedicated exam under the MCSE track that covers it off as a seperate subject.

For myself I’ve populated the Microsoft My Learning, which sits off the newly redesigned Microsoft Learning home page, this is a handy way of listing the exams I’m planning to do, and to list out the free e-learning for sql 2005 that Microsoft are currently offering.