Thank You SSlEvIN

Filed Under News

My more regular visitors will notice a small theme change recently. This is all thanks to SSlEvIN from ARTEAM who spent many hours putting up with dumbass questions like “What is a colour wheel? ” whilst putting this all together for me.

So cheers SSlEvIn – thanks for all your hard work!

Here’s a link to the ARTEAM main page – pop along and meet some of the guys and gals.

Making a bootable USB – the easy way

Filed Under Misc, News

I recently wanted to upgrade the BIOS on my Adaptec RAID controller. We haven’t really seen the performance out of it that we would like to see and have started to investigate the problem.

Obviously the first thing we wanted to do was make sure the drivers etc. were all up-to date. Going to Adaptec’s website showed that there were BIOS updates available so we went with them.

Unfortunately, the UberSpec does not include a floppy drive. To be honest, I’m not sure if I even have a floppy drive on any of the machines I have here. So that was going to make it rather tricky to follow the instructions of

Once the files are extracted please copy each *.ufi file individually to a separate floppy disk. If this is not done, you may encounter read errors from one of the files when flashing the controller.

I’m not an expert in the field of RAID controller cards but I’m going to hazard a guess that any error is bad when dealing with your primary I/O device’s firmware upgrade. So we set about trying to find a way around this.

We went with a bootable USB drive. Well a USB drive anyway.

There are a gazillion different articles on the internet on how to do make a USB drive bootable. A lot of them want you to use the (admittedly excellent) mkbt and the like. Unfortunately a lot of the suggestions involve creating a USB Boot disk of only 1.44Mb which is no good if you want to add files to be used from the DOS prompt. Other solutions would give you a bootable DOS ISO (for instance) which was great – but no USB support.

So I grabbed this HP USB utility and a boot file package and just clicked on the appropriate settings and it did it all for me. After that I copied all the files to the root (the boot files from the package are not visible on the drive after formatting – not even!) and lo and behold it booted beautifully.

To save someone some time – quite a few tutorials also suggest grabbing the HP Drive Key Boot Utility – I found this to be unnecessary and far too large a download (45Mb!).

Hope this helps someone!

100 yards left of the sun

Filed Under News

Just a quick update – things have been very busy here at Cassa bb lately and unfortunately one of the casualties has been the blog.

UberServer is up and running – I’m starting to think W2k3 is even unfriendlier than Ubuntu though. I think I have re-installed it more often than not. Bloody VMWare hasn’t helped much by constantly cocking up the snapshots *grumble*.

If you are wondering about the title, that is what my friendly pro said about one of my tee shots on Sunday. Since we were playing up the fairway into the setting sun I lost track of the ball. Apparently it wasn’t the straightest drive ever 😀 I think it may qualify for one of the longest – having travelled 150 x 10^6km! Give or take 100 yards 😀

We’ve finally managed to fuck off Barclays and move to RBS – something that has added at least 10 years to my life as I no longer have to deal with the likes of Maureen Mordi and their mind-bogglingly astronomical levels of incompetence and ineptitude. Not to mention her replacement John who, despite being apparently her senior, has managed to display an equally astonishing level of customer service. If we could package just these two individual’s front-line skills we could have a zero degree kelvin pocket fridge powered just by one tiny gramme of it – such is their ability to slow things down and generate brain freeze 😀

I’m seriously considering going for some MCSE type qualifications in the New Year so if anyone has any hints on which is a good course (I’m looking here atm) it would be much appreciated.

As we gear up to Xmas I’m not sure if I’ll be able to update too regularly but I hope so.

If not – Merry Xmas one and all.

Large Drives, Partitions and Ubuntu

Filed Under News, Rants

How to partition drives >2Tb and how to have more than 4 partitions on a large drive array.

We struggled with this for a very long time. I had to collate information from many different sources and I thought it might be nice to collect it all here in one tidy little post that may save someone else the trouble of pulling their hair out and suffering replies in help forums like ‘Not exactly a beginner’s question is it?‘. How the hell should I know? I’m a beginner you cunswup!

Firstly you will need to change the disklabel to gpt. I used parted for this but I must stress at this point – DO NOT USE PARTED 1.7.1. This is the version that was shipped with my 7.04 install and to the best of my knowledge is still the one included with 7.1. IT IS BROKEN. Nice of them to update it in the install package since 1.7.1 was released in May 2006.

I installed parted version 1.8.8 – available here. And this is how I did it ….

I have 10 x 500Gb SATA drives configured under and Adaptec 31605 card to run as a single large 4Tb drive (1Tb lost for redundancy). I wanted to split up the drive into 6 partitions. Using parted 1.7.1 would allow me to do this, but as soon as I rebooted, the extra partitions (sdx5 sdx6 etc) were lost. They would not even appear in /dev/sd??.

All commands are executed in the context of root@uberserver:~#, you may need to sudo some commands if you are not root.

apt-get remove libparted parted
apt-get install uuid-dev libncurses5 libreadline-dev build-essential
tar zxvf parted-1.8.8.tar.gz
cd parted-1.8.8

I got an error at this point on my system

/usr/bin/ld: /usr/lib/../lib64/libuuid.a(uuidgen.o): relocation R_X86_64_32 against `a local symbol’ cannot be used when making a shared object; recompile with -fPIC

so I had to use make CFLAGS=-fPIC CXXFLAGS=-fPIC
make install

And that was that 😀 From the command line I typed parted and this greeted me :

root@uberserver:~# parted
GNU Parted 1.8.8
Using /dev/sda
Welcome to GNU Parted! Type ‘help’ to view a list of commands.

From the parted command line I set the disklabel to gpt which resulted in this error (due to having previously tried this with 1.7.1)

Warning: /dev/sda contains GPT signatures, indicating that it has a GPT table.
However, it does not have a valid fake msdos partition table, as it should.
Perhaps it was corrupted — possibly by a program that doesn’t understand GPT
partition tables. Or perhaps you deleted the GPT table, and are now using an
msdos partition table. Is this a GPT partition table?

I replied yes and removed all my existing partitions. From there I mkparted the new partitions and rebooted. And what do you know … they were there when I rebooted!

I would like to thank publicly philipMac for his post here which I followed mostly to get this working. I would also like to thank rhican for his help troubleshooting the compiler error. Also Xa0z for his patience whilst I constantly wiped out his hard work by generally buggering around with partitions!

I would also suggest that since 1.7.1 is broken, that perhaps it’s not such a good idea to continue to ship it with default installs – or at least allow a working one to be apt-get’d if possible. Maybe the developers could put something on their site even? Until users don’t have to jump through hoops to obtain fixes for simple problems, I fear it will retard the acceptance of Ubuntu into the mainstream.

And speaking of ‘tards, a little fuck you to the cunswup I mentioned earlier. I explained my lack of experience and I had no idea if it was a beginner’s question or not. The very least you could have done, instead of just shitting in the thread and running away leaving your oh-so-witty turd behind, would have been to reply to the response I left -Was I in the wrong place and if so how do I get this fixed.

Behaviour like yours does not endear a community to someone who is frustratedly hunting for what should be a simple solution. I really hope next time you have a problem someone does the same to you. And by God I hope it’s me! Fuck you very much you idiot.

UberServer LIVES!!

Filed Under News

Yesterday, at about 4 Budweisers past 6 O’clock, Ubuntu 7 finally booted on the UberServer 😀 🙂

A very nice Linux consultant called Keith came round and spent a good 5 hours trying (ultimately unsuccessfully) to get UberServer to play ball but he did leave me with the right direction to go in to get it up and running finally.

I didn’t know how long these things take to fix/get up and running and I have worked in Tech Support long enough to meet the types that come out on-site and tell you that your IRQs are scrambled and out of order and upsetting the DMA frontside bus which is generating line noise on the PCI Express. I even met someone once (back in the days of 486’s) that told me the difference between a 486SX and a 486DX was that the DX could have an internal modem!

All credit to Keith, he came round with the understanding that if it wasn’t working when he left, there would be no charge. He worked tirelessly for 5 solid hours and made great progress. He left in such a state that I, linux n00b of n00bs, could continue and finish the install. He was meant to only be here for a maximum of 2 hours and spent well over 5. And when he left, he said it wasn’t working so there would be no charge!

However, I will be asking for an invoice, because as I said, I’ve worked in the industry long enough to recognise good work. And good work should be rewarded. Cheers Keith!

At this point in time (several hours before beer O’Clock) Merlijn is installing all sorts of softwarey goodness so we can get it all up and running.

Shell accounts are available to all #GC members! Or will be when it is set up!

Onwards! 😀

UberServer Update

Filed Under News, Rants

UberServer is nearly ready to go online. A little behind schedule but still … hey ho.

The main reason for the delay is the morons at NST who failed, quite spectacularly, in every department except the ChargingOfTheCreditCard. Promised delivery for the 19th, come the 26th it still wasn’t here. Getting a call back from Jamie Williams was like getting blood out of a stone.

It’s on its way… The Driver has it on his truck… The Driver is nearly there…
The Driver says there is too much traffic to make the delivery!!!

WTF? The Driver wants to get himself another job if the very presence of traffic deters him from doing his job. Alternatively Jamie, you should learn not to lie to your customers. Else we cancel our orders and then we get the bank to chargeback the credit card payment you took and that costs you extra money. All because you decide that returning customer’s money is not a priority before you fuck off on holiday!


Righty – how is UberServer looking? Hardware wise … pretty damn spanky even if I say so myself!

Here are some piccies of the birth of UberServer

Read more

UberServer is Ordered

Filed Under News

Well it’s all ordered. Rather than go for an off the shelf solution, Merlijn and I decided to spec it out ourselves and build my new server ourselves. With Inferno’s help when they come over later this month.

After the previous server fiasco, this is of course a risky strategy but I think we have t3h sk1llz to pull this off.

We set ourselves a budget of £5k (exc VAT) and for that – this is what we have managed to get with a little bit of wheeling and dealing :

Dual Xeon 2Ghz
16Gb FBDIMM PC2-5300 RAM
5Tb Caviar Storage
300Gb OS drives [Raptors]
1Gb Switch
2200VA Rackmounted UPS
Hardware firewall with VPN
Adaptec 16 port RAID controller
8 Port KVM
Sound-proofed 15U Cabinet

and much much more ….

I would like to claim a slightly larger role in designing this than I really had, however most of the research and effort was put in my my good pal Merlijn. His wizardly google-fu helped track down the best bang for buck (at least we like to think so) and checked to make sure everything was compatible and would talk to each other. Unlike me who kept wanting to scrimp on stuff like drives, motherboards, memory- just so I could go Quad Core instead of Dual Core. So thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow. <mutter><mutter>

As it all turns up, I’ll be taking some photos – I’m hoping it will look a little like this :

But since I’m helping put it together, I’m guessing it will probably look more like this

At least I will have Inferno and Merlijn here to help me put it back together and fill in the warranty forms!

I’ll take pictures of the stuff when it arrives and try and keep this bit up to date as we work on bringing UberServer online around the 23rd of July. I hope. Else perhaps this blog will serve as some sort of testament as to how come there is now a very large crater where my office once was!

I will also, as is my wont, moan and bitch about the bad suppliers but for one week only I will also be praising those suppliers that go above and beyond the call of duty. To start with I would like to thank Chris over at TMC for his help with our server chassis that we ordered from them.

Server Chassis Pr0n

Very sexy little number – but Chris has been very helpful, offering to throw in all sorts of cables that we (read:me) may well have forgotten about. So here is my plug for TMC.

If you need a server chassis, or any other high performance server and storage building blocks – call Chris at TMC.

There – who says all I do is moan on this blog.

Fucking knee jerk reactionary government lickspittles.
That feels better 🙂

A tad more serious …

Filed Under News

“First They Came for the Jews”
By Pastor Niemoller

First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

The above is a well known poem, oft used to illustrate how people react to government/state impositions on personal liberties. Recently we have had a couple of supposed ‘terrorist’ attacks in London and Glasgow.

I find myself in the awkward position of asking … “Terrorists? Really?”

I find it hard to reconcile the recent events as anything other than terrorism in the strictest sense of the word. And the fact that it is being spun as Terrorism (with the capital T denoting proper terrorism) worries me.

The IRA didn’t find the problem of detonating a car bomb insurmountable. In far too many places in the Middle East car bombs are a near daily occurrence. Yet we manage to get

The nightclub bouncers said they saw a silver Mercedes being driven erratically before it crashed into bins. They said the driver then got out and ran off. A huge hunt is under way for the driver.

In Glasgow we get a couple of idiots who set fire to their car and tried to ram it into Glasgow airport … through the bollards – managing only to get themselves arrested and burnt at the same time. And causing little or no damage to the bollards, placed there (rather unsurprisingly) for the sole purpose of preventing morons driving flaming jeeps into the terminal.

We also have The Sun praising a clamper (that towed a 2nd car away that could have possibly been something to do with it, maybe) as a hero because

“I could smell petrol but the assumption was the driver had broken down and abandoned it.”

Somebody tows a car because they think it has broken down, not knowing that there was anything different about the car apart from being an easy target for towing – he’s a hero? Come on people!

And soon enough that most useful of buzz-phrases (2nd only to pedophile in whipping up Joe Public into a mindless frenzy) – ‘Al Qaeda’. Again – really?

Does this sound like Al Qaeda? To me it sounds more like some fanatical idiots who failed to pay attention in bomb making 101. Does anyone seriously believe that Al Qaeda lacks the necessary know-how to build a working car bomb? This does not sound like organised Terrorist cells. By all accounts they haven’t even got all the components necessary to cause anything more that a large fireball and at best a few casualties.

The driver would have had a higher body count if he had driven the car into the pub through the front door – I used to work next door to Tiger Tiger and that place heaves at night. And the cretinous cunswups in Glasgow would again have achieved a higher body count had they aimed for the bus stop outside the terminal (or it may be a taxi rank – I can’t remember).

But again, sure enough, the government spin machines and red top papers come trotting out with the if this and if that possibilities to show what could have happened if x and y and z had all happened. Yes, if the bombs had been built correctly, if they had an ‘oxidizer’, if they had a working detonator arrangement … something bad may have happened.

BUT – it didn’t. But by God the media and the government are doing their best to scare us that something might have happened that was really really bad.

Bearing in mind that our current government has managed to introduce a new piece of legislation for every day they have been in office and that there is normally little or no heed to the thoughts of those that new laws would affect is taken when considering them – it is hard not to make the leap across from a couple of wingnuts chancing their arm for 72 virgins to needing new laws enacted for our protection from the growing ‘Terrorist threat’.

These days laws appear rushed through with no thinking behind the ramifications because of ‘Terrorism’. Privacy rights are being stripped away under the pretence of “if you have nothing to hide – why do you mind”. I don’t see the need for more laws based on a couple of half witted attempts at ‘terrorism’ – one can never legislate for the lone idiot. Lately it has appeared to me that more and more effort has been put into making the recent attempts in the UK seem part of a wider, more cohesive Terrorist attack. Talk of 90 day detention periods, national DNA databases and other ‘initiatives’ speak volumes to the creeping invasion of government oversight into our lives.

What will happen now? More restrictive laws ‘for my own good‘ based on a ‘manufactured’ Terrorist threat?

We’ll see if this is the case this time – I hope not, but fear so.

Welcome Nell

Filed Under News

We have a new addition to the family – a bouncing baby girl 🙂

Her name is Nell and she is a 12-14mth old Husky/Collie cross that we rescued from North Wales. She is quite simply the most adorable dog in world (with Tycha coming in close 2nd).

I am, without doubt, the world’s biggest softy when it comes to animals and even if Nell turned out to be this ugly we would have still loved her with all our hearts. As it turns out – she’s pretty cute.

Sleepy Nell

Sitting Nell

Click on pictures for full size Nell Goodness 🙂


What I fail to understand, so very completely, is the mentality of the person(s) who would abuse a dog like this and then leave it tied up to a lamppost to starve to death. You are sick, very sick. If I ever find you, you will be even sicker.

I am not by nature a violent individual, but I would wake up every morning with a spring in my step if I could go to work and inflict anywhere near the same level of suffering on those responsible. I would make Hostel look like an episode of the Teletubbies and every night I would sleep so soundly you wouldn’t believe it.

Any-hoo, this post is not about the terrible, terrible things I would do to those responsible, it is a celebration of having such a loving dog in our house.

To Nell!


Filed Under News, Rants

Somethings in life are righteous.

Today – two righteous things happened to me. And boy does it feel good 🙂

1. Old Landlord

Mrs bb and I have purchased our first house together. Naturally that means we have left our rented accomodation and did the whole check the property for damage thing. We all agreed, very nicely, that there was some wear and tear which we would have to pay for.

When the cheque for our deposit arrived – they had taken over £350 for a 3m sq piece of lino!

Mrs bb was a little more restrained than I in her reaction. After we had decided that perhaps a thermonuclear strike (my idea) was a touch over-reacting, Mrs bb crafted a kick ass letter and fired it off. It contained lots of things like “legislation xxxx paragraph yyy says that you are in breach of zzzzz by doing this”.

Our landlord was never the sharpest tool in the toolbox. You would actually feel stupider after speaking with im. In fact, the longur you tawked two hymn, the wurz it gott. No way was it his idea to rip us off.

Now Mrs Landlord was another story – anal to the point of OCD. She knew what she was doing when she sent through that phoney quote and everything. What she hadn’t expected was the awesome power of MadWife(tm). Even I don’t mess with that. Chuck Norris doesn’t fuck with MadWife(tm).

Today a cheque for the correct difference arrived in the post. Righteous! And quite lucky for Mrs Landlord else she would have had to face the awesome fury of MadWife(tm). And that is enough to ruin anyone’s day. Badly.

2. Barclays Bank

This is not my first blog about Barclays. But today, my relationship manager phoned up and was surprised to hear I was planning on moving banks and I actually got to explain to her that she is less suited to being a relationship manager than Harold Shipman was to being a GP.

I spend nearly £10k a year with Barclays, just on bank charges. I do not have an overdraft, I do not want an overdraft. I have no special account requirements (other than several accounts in different currencies). All I need is that when I make an international same day payment, it is processed quickly, efficiently and I get my MT100 (proof of payment) quickly to give to my suppliers. This is not too much to ask one might imagine.

To highlight exactly how poor the service has been at Barclays, one day recently I was expecting some funds from one of my customers. Normally these funds hit my account by 9am. When they weren’t in by about 11 I asked my relationship manager to see if she could try and track down where the payment may be. I provided MT100, reference numbers and everything.

Her response : “As for the payment it can come into your account at anytime today”.

Right. Fantastic. Thank you for taking the time to check into it. Don’t worry about me – I’ll just sit here with all the proof that the funds should already be here and reflect on the temerity of actually asking you to do your damn job.

I realise that yelling and shouting at people, and generally being offensive, is rather an unappealling trait. But ever since this lump took over running my account she has done nothing, nada, zilch to help. Actually reaching her by email or phone has always ranked as one of my most difficult achievements.

So to actually reach get her on the phone and manage to explain that just ignoring emails and phone calls has not endeared her to me, shoot down her “I never got any emails/calls” with read receipts etc but more importantly to actually get it off my chest was, indeed, RIGHTEOUS!

Dozy fucking cow.

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