Monday, 26 November 2012

Worst interview preparation ever?

Here's an exciting combination of circumstances leading up to an interview I have tomorrow:

  • My kids have come home covered in nits
  • I am recovering from gastroenteritis 
  • Cat has just shat copiously on my interview suit
Can anyone beat that?

Monday, 29 October 2012

Why do I want Windows 8 to fail?

I catch myself going through forums and postings and checking all the reactions to Windows 8.  I can feel myself tightening up when I see positive postings about Windows 8: I want it to fail for some reason....but why?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Humble Bundle: for linux users the Vessel appears to be empty

Humble Bundle: for linux users the Vessel appears to be empty

I'm a great supporter of the Humble Indie Bundle which I think provides great value for money and  is currently one of the few ways to get some decent games which play under Linux.

I bought the 6th games bundle recently and my daughters were particularly excited about Vessel having watched the promo videos online.

At release date Vessel was not available for the linux platform but a notice on the humble site said that it would be released shortly.  That was now a month ago and still no Vessel.  There is an option on the site to allow you to mail them and they will mail back when the release is made but I feel this is a pretty long wait already.

Monday, 22 October 2012

I'm trying to be positive

My sister said to me the other day that I should be careful about posting negative sounding messages on here in the jobsearch chain: and she's probably right.  I doubt that many potential employers delve round these pages: but if even 1 is put off then that's 1 too many!

So,  OK,  I failed to get through a few interviews: so what am I up to that's not directly applying for jobs but is trying to keep my skills up?

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Problems upgrading Xubuntu to 12.10

Problems upgrading Xubuntu to 12.10

I have a laptop which has been running Xubuntu 12.04 for some time.  Yesterday I decided to see what Xubuntu 12.10 brought to the table so I upgraded....and my problems started.

The start of the process was encouraging: it pulled the files down much faster than previous ubuntu family upgrades I have done in the past: despite the fact that it was only a day or so after the 12.10 version was released.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Another interview coming...hopefully

I've been applying for around 6 - 10 positions a day and have had some interest since my last posting.

Had a call yesterday about a position at a shipping company: hopefully they will interview me next week.  The agent was supposed to be calling this morning but nothing as yet.  I do hope they haven't got cold feet.

I've had 2 rejections today on the basis that I'm too far from London and the journey in would be too stressful: bit of a choker given that I've been doing just that for the past 5 years.  The journey in has been my favourite part of the day for some time now: I can relax and read,  what's not to like?  There is a bit of a community going on the train down to London: it was nice to have a catch up every morning. 

Feels like people are inventing new reasons not to hire me all the time: bah humbug!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

No luck with the second job either

After a period of radio silence I got in touch with the agent who was talking about the job in London at the financial firm.  It turns out that the firm has persuaded the incumbent chap to stay on.  It would have been nice if someone had bothered to let me know!

If I get sold any more pups I could open my own kennels

Yesterday I signed on for jobseekers allowance.  In the past there has always been some reason why in fact I could not receive this but this time it all seemed to go through very smoothly.  Kudos to the staff at JobCentre Plus here in Ely who were very friendly and helpful.  Its only £74 per week: but better than the nothing I had been getting.

So: onwards and upwards (again).  I spoke to an agent today who is looking for someone for a £60K role which I seem well suited for,  perhaps something will come of that one.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

No luck in Norwich

I went over to Norwich yesterday for an interview with a small IT firm there. 

The interview itself went OK in as much as I got on well with the interviewer and liked the firm.

However.....the description of the role had been changed a little from what my agent had been told.  They really wanted to focus only on the sharepoint part of what I had thought would have been a more general role.  I have a feeling that this alone would not really make up a "proper" job and that they will struggle to fill the role as advertised.

They won't be filling it with me as they spoke to my agent this morning to reject me....ho hum.

I'm still waiting to see if an interview is confirmed for next week with a London investment company who sound very good.  The nice thing about this one is that the current IT manager is making big efforts to do a proper managed handover,  which is a very good sign of a well organised company. 

This morning I started my roundup of new jobs coming onto the market and at last I am seeing a few positions which actually pay decent money.  I have applied for a batch of roles today that are offering more money than I was on in my last job.  This is the first time since I was laid off that I have seen roles which could actually make me better off financially.  One of them is with a legal firm so I should have a decent chance there given my 7 years experience at a law firm.

I'm not giving up.

One more straw in the wind: I applied for jobseekers allowance yesterday online: in the past when I have done this I generally find that I get work quite quickly: and then have to go through the hassle of backtracking again: would that I have that problem again!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Hopefully I have another interview coming

I'm just off the phone to a more than helpful agent who is representing an equity firm who require an IT manager/SysAdmin.

I really like the sound of the company and it was great to hear that the current incumbent is really making an effort towards an orderly transfer.  The chance of a good outcome is always greatly improved under these conditions.  Its just round the corner from where I was working recently.

My details are going over now but with a bit of luck that will be another interview in the offing.

My interview at the Norwich firm has been confirmed for next week: so its full speed ahead on that one (which also sounds very interesting as they deal in near field communications).  Working in Norwich sounds nice also: and its only a short walk from Norwich station so that would help a lot.

Thanks for all the messages of support.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Some light at the end of the tunnel?

After the misery of my last posting (apologies) some good news to report at last.

I have an interview in Norwich next Wednesday: so fingers crossed for that.

It looks a good role,  actually,  systems admin for a company working with near field communications: not exactly a market which is likely to decline in the future.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Hitting a new low....

I had hoped that the end of August would bring about a change in fortunes,  but no.

Either there's nothing out there or I just can't find it.  When you hang around all day for a call from an agent about a job that pays £15K less than you were on,  in somewhere miles away that you don't want to go and you get depressed because there is (inevitably) no call back....something is very wrong.

Been going a bit bonkers lately: not eating much.  In fact I managed not to eat anything at all for 4 days!

The effort of "keeping my chin up" is getting too much: I feel like giving up.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Things may be coming to life again after a typically quite August

Now the bank holiday weekend is over again it does seem that the jobs market is waking up again a bit.

For the last few weeks I have been struggling to find things to apply to but I did get a couple of calls from agents today so perhaps that's a good harbinger of things to come. 

I'm still trying to make up my mind what I should be asking for salary-wise.  I'm not over centred on cash (I hope) and would be willing to go down from my last salary a bit if that is what the market demands.  But how much?  If any?  I don't want to sound desperate and make it seem as though I would accept any wage offered. 

Given these straightened times,  or despite of them,  what do people think about salary downsizing?

Monday, 20 August 2012

Nearly, but no cigar

I've done well considering its August,  probably the worst month to try and get a new job.

I've had a couple of interviews.

The first went very well and I was well suited to what would have been a great role.  I got through to the last few (probably last 3) but not quite....

Second one was a role that I was perhaps less well suited for,  and I did not think the interview went as well as the first: I was never certain that I had all the skills that they were asking for: and probably over emphasised that in interview.  Its not down to me to tell people what I cannot do.  I still got down to the last 2 but....

Since then I've done an online technical test for another role : which I have never heard back from: so I'm guessing wasn't great.

There was another role that I was called about: and out went the trusty CV: but again I've heard nothing back.

Indeed I heard nothing back from the company for role 2: which is a bit poor considering I travelled to London twice to see them.

So we live and learn.  I need to improve my interview technique: but its not that bad and for things that I feel I really want I think/hope that I come across well.  I just need to learn to project myself as the person that someone really needs to take their company forwards: the one to make them forget the rest of the candidates.

I also know that I will need to keep working on making sure my technical abilities are up to date.  Most specifically on exchange server.  There has been recent learning with setting up Office 365 just before I left my last job.  That turned out to be a more challenging technical ask than I had realized: with the active directory preparation and DNS work perhaps the most challenging.  But it was all working when I left,  its just a pity that the new people wanted to go back to Lotus Notes.

So I'm working on updating my Exchange 2010 expertise at present: lots of exiting hours ahead studying the subject beckon.  I also plan to do some more learning around virtualization in the enterprise as well.

Wish me luck everyone.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

I've had my first interview, and I have another today

First one went very well yesterday,  at Surrey CCC.  Its always hard to tell what the "other side" thought of you but it was all very friendly and I seemed to have answers to their questions.

I have another today: put over from yesterday so we'll see about that one.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

My first interview

Great news: looks like the new CV is paying off as I have my first interview now booked.

Next week I'm up for what looks like a great position.

People have been quick to remind me that the first "should be seen as practice" and that's all well and good: but I may as well go for it anyway.

Seeing the E Mail coming back was a great surprise: it was the first time I had turned on the computer today.  Have spent all day decorating the kitchen and its going OK although there is a lot of work to do.  I am not looking forward to all the cabinet doors which look like they will need 2 coats.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Now the hair has gone as well

I look more like the chap in my signature photo now  (OK: still quite a lot older but not that different),  the wookie look has gone.

Who knows if this will make me more employable or not,  but it does feel like I have taken another variable out of the way.

Also managed to pick up a suit jacket at a charity shop for £20 that was in perfect condition and fitted as well.  That plus the Marks and Spencers shoes (hardly worn,  my size) for £10 and I'm feeling up on the deal.

I just need to sort out my PlanetRecruit login sorted and I'll be satisfied that I'm still getting somewhere.  I changed from one mail address to another and that has confused their system somehow,  its now the last one that still has not had my "improved" CV and they do seem to bring up the most relevant jobs for myself: out of all the sites that I'm using.

Friday, 27 July 2012

The beard just had to go....

Sad to say I no longer look anything like "The Master" from Dr Who (for those of you with long memories).  The beard just did not feel interview friendly: so off it came.  Kinda freaked out the kids for a while.

Next on my list is to get rid of the hair: most of that will have to go as well.  It would have gone this afternoon but for some reason the barber's closed early today: so I'm still typing through a haze of hair: but perhaps tomorrow morning....

Stop disk checks on Ubuntu startup

Stop Disk Checks on Ubuntu Startup

There is a program called autofsck which provides a gui-based method of setting the time between disk checks.

Install it with:

sudo aptitude install autofsck
In the menus, it's located in System, Admin, Periodic Disk Checking.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Lotus Notes: fix single signon issue

Lotus Notes: fix single signon issue

The single signon service for Lotus Notes can fail. When it does the chances are that this registry issue is the cause.

Run Regedit and go to:
My Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\NetworkProvide\Order

there is a value called "npnotes".

Move this value in front of the "WebClient" value.

Windows 7 and "network neighbourhood"

Windows 7 and "network neighbourhood"

1. Click Start menu and open Control Panel.
2. Open "Network and Sharing Center" and click "Change advanced sharing settings" option in the left panel.
3. In domain profile, please select "Turn on Network discovery" and save the settings.
4. Click Start menu
5. Click "Start", go to run, type "services.msc" (without quotation marks) in the open box and press Enter.
6. Click Continue button to verify the administrator permission.
7. Right click Computer Browser Service and choose Properties.
8. On General tab click Start.
9. Choose Automatic next to Startup type.
10. Click OK.

Further Changes:
  • Make sure that remote registry service is set to auto start
  • TCP/IP advanced properties: enable Netbios over TCP/IP

Windows 7 "interactive state" issue with McAfee Anti Virus

Windows 7 "interactive state" issue with McAfee Anti Virus

Having looked at the logs, Windows Server 2008 was not allowing NAI ePO Agent MSI to run, having looked the Framepkg.exe copies the content of the agent to Program Data and runs the package from Programs Data.

What I did was to Copy the content of EPO Agent to Program Data and run Framepkg.exe from the command line with the following parameters

Windows 7 auto-logon

 Windows 7 auto-logon

  • Click on Start and then enter the following command in the search box: netplwiz
  • Press the ENTER key.

Disable "old" physical NIC in machines that have been virtualized

Disable "old" physical NIC in machines that have been virtualized

 Follow these steps to sort it out:

How to upgrade the free version of ESXI

How to upgrade the firmware without the paid products

The primary way to manage an ESXi system is via Windows. To this end, you will need the VMware vSphere CLI package (available from the VMware website) installed as well as the vSphere GUI client. Both are available for Windows; however, only the first is also available for Linux. The GUI client will not allow you to upgrade the firmware of ESXi, which is why you need the CLI tools (but you do need the GUI client to manage/shutdown/suspend the virtual machines in order to do the upgrade). So, because the client only runs on Windows, you will either need a Windows system available, or a virtualized Windows install on another machine that is separate from the ESXi host.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Enable Jumbo Frames for VMware vSphere ESXi 4.x

Enable Jumbo Frames for VMware vSphere ESXi 4.x

Credit goes to Marc Kean:

1.    Logon to the vSphere client > Inventory > Configuration > Networking > You will most likely have one Virtual Switch already configured. The aim here is to add Jumbo Frames to a new VMkernel Port by adding a new VMkernel port with Jumbo Frames.

HyperV and Windows Backup

There's a registry hack that will also enable windows backup...


To register the Hyper-V VSS writer with Windows Server Backup, follow these steps:

1.    Click Start, click Run, type regedit, and then click OK.

2.    Locate the following registry key: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\
Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion

Make VMware Virtual NICs part of an "identified network" to avoid firewall issues on running VMs

Make VMware Virtual NICs part of an "identified network" to avoid firewall issues on running VMs

When you add VMware workstation or viewer to a Windows 7 machine you will notice that this causes extra information to be carried in the "bubble" that appears when you over over the network icon.

You can make the extra virtual network cards part of an "identified network" to avoid this issue.

Using a Netgear ReadyNAS as a datastore for ESX/I

Using a Netgear ReadyNAS as a datastore for ESX/I

There are two methods of connecting the ReadyNAS via ESX to use as a datastore. First, we are going to show how-to using the NFS protocol. Then, will we show connecting via iSCSI as well.

Method 1 : ReadyNAS NFS share as a Datastore
Method 2 : ReadyNAS iSCSI target as a Datastore

Folder redirection and Group Policy for Server 2003

This article discusses the Folder Redirection feature and how it can be used, particularly by administrators.

Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and Microsoft Windows 2000 Server have a feature that can redirect specific user folders to server locations by using a Group Policy extension called Folder Redirection. By default, the Folder Redirection feature enables the user to have exclusive access to the redirected folder.

Many administrators want the Folder Redirection feature to enable a user's folders to be automatically redirected to a newly created folder for each user, but, at the same time, to have the Administrators group automatically added to the NTFS file system's access control list (ACL).

Use BIOS AHCI mode for Windows 7

Use BIOS AHCI mode for Windows 7

If your machines are running in ATA mode you could be missing out.  However,  changing over to this mode can cause some issues (a blue screen,  indeed) in Windows 7.

If you do want to do this you can make the change and avoid the blue screen:

Server 2008: get notificatons from tasks

Server 2008: get notificatons from tasks

Open Server Manager, expand Diagnotics | Event Viewer | Windows Logs | Microsoft | Backup | Operational

Right click the desired event, and Attach a Task......
in 2003 you will need a script.

For example: you may want to send yourself a mail when a standard backup has completed: and be warned of any errors!

Apply company desktop theme via Group Policy

Apply company desktop theme via Group Policy

You could create a custom Windows theme by modifying an existing "default" one by changing the background colour, then apply this by group policy under -

User configuration - administrative templates - control panel - display - desktop themes - load a specific visual style file or force windows classic

The default location for windows themes is %windir%\resources\themes

Copy the style file(s) to all machines or a network location and in conjunction with the above GPO specify the desktop background and job should be done...

Group policy to show "recent items" in Windows 7 menu

Group policy to show "recent items" in Windows 7 menu

There is a confirmed bug with Windows 7 / group policy around this setting.

The scenario is as follows:
  • Windows 7 disables Recent Items in the Start Menu by default
  • You want to enable Recent Items via group policy
  • You configure ‘User configuration\Policies\Administrative templates\Start menu and taskbar\Remove recent items menu from start menu’  and set this to ‘disabled’
Even though you have implemented the above setting, Recent Items still doesn’t show up
This is a bug and the workaround is to add a registry entry HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\Start_ShowRecentDocs and set this REG_DWORD value to 1.

Its all about the CV

It was the last day of my monthly railcard today so I decided to make use of it and go down "to the smoke" to see an agent.

Here's my approach so far:

  • Don't just apply for all relevant jobs you see on the web: the world and his wife have already done that!
  • Develop a close relationship with selected recruitment agents and hopefully they can put you in the path of a few decent jobs before they are posted and everyone starts applying
  • Start going through each job I am applying for and look at the bullet points of what if required for the post: and then re edit my CV to address these points directly in the CV
With the above in mind I trotted into town to see an agent at Badenoch and Clark which is just on the north side of the river.

I only got to chat with the agent for 20 mins: however these were the most useful 20 mins of my job search so far.

When I chat to an agent I'm grateful for any time he/she has.  Time taken speaking to me is time that the agent is not using to place people at a profit: and its a high pressure business.

I've worked for a couple of recruitment agencies in the past (IT manager for one,  helpdesk manager for the other) and I've always had a health respect for agents.  Many people have a bad image of agents,  often because they don't let you know if you have failed to get an interview or that they bombard you with unsuitable roles,  but I've always held a positive view.  The thing I like about agents is that "what you see is what you get" : there seems to be little politics playing: and if you do have an issue with an agent: just move on: there are plenty more!

Anyway the agent was pretty brutal about my CV which was just what I was after.  He said that it would be one of the first in the bin and gave some pretty convincing reasons to back that up.

Basically I need to go into much greater detail (and probably bullet points) about my previous role: as its the last 5 years its what people will be most interested in and it should take up most of the front page of the CV.

With that in mind I will be contacting my colleague who is still working part time for my former employers and will draw up a list of all our projects before some of them begin to disappear into the mists of time.

I have been using LinkedIn to create my CVs and will do so again once I have all my projects and achievements listed properly.

Friday, 20 July 2012

I'm now officially out of work!

I came to an agreement with my former employers today: so financially all the details are now sorted.

Yikes: that means that at 5 today I officially stopped working for them.

Its nice that things were finished on an amicable basis: now I can look forward more clearly.

Onwards and upwards next week,  actually my diary is looking pretty full already.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012



My wife suggested to me that I organise my thoughts using a diagram.

This got me thinking about geeky ways to achieve the above.

I came up with FreeMind.  I suggested it at work for a few people as the commercial software available,  although excellent was a little pricey when too many people were using it and requiring licenses. 

Installation is a breeze: I just installed via the Ubuntu Software Centre: but its worth looking into the advanced details and selecting the additional components that you may require.  For example,  you can enable export or your mind maps to various formats.

Monday, 16 July 2012


A whole bunch of people have suggested I use LinkedIn as a job-seeking resource.

Several have done LinkedIn job searches for me and posted me links.

I have quite a few recruitment consultants who have added themselves to my LinkedIn connections.

So,  why am I underwhelmed so far?

A few days ago an ex colleague from many years ago was kind enough to send me a link to a job posted on LinkedIn.  I followed the link,  and indeed the job seemed ideal.  However,  on one corner of the posting was a link declaring that it was a "hot position" or "on fire" or some such.  I was not reassured by finding out that over 70 people had already applied via LinkedIn. 

Is everyone using this method?  Is there a way I can get ahead of those other 70 people?  I don't know but it certainly burst the bubble of self confidence for a moment. 

The fact that I had been mailed by my ex colleague was an example of the success of the method,  to be fair.  People certainly read the general feeds from their contacts on the site.

Are you someone who is reading this and has found something through LinkedIn?

Perhaps you feel that the 70:1 ratio compares well with the number of applications per vacancy that you would likely get from a job on one of the specialist job sites?

I'm an ex-IT Manager, but hopefully not for long

Well,  a pretty awful thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. My company (I'm still officially working for them as I type, but I am on "gardening leave") was bought out and sadly, I'm surplus to requirements.

I'm trying very hard to put aside any feelings of being hard done by: true or not it won't be helping me: so that stuff is all officially in the past.  I just need to keep repeating that to myself for a while....

I'm about to find out the real state of the IT job market in the London and Cambridge areas.

My initial feelings are that there are still posts to be had: but that its pretty tough competition out there to get an interview.  I've seen plenty of things I can apply to: but am I applying for the correct posts?  Do I need to do some extra study,  do I need more professional qualifications?

Over the next few weeks or months I will be blogging about the job hunting experience, and if anyone would like to make suggestions or comments please feel welcome.

Hopefully this may be of help to others who may find themselves in the same predicament.

Here are some of the topics I hope to be covering soon:

  • LinkedIn
  • CV preparation
  • Interviews
  • Freemind: "mind mapping software"
  • Agencies
  • JobSearch Websites
  • ITIL

Friday, 20 January 2012

Swyx Phone System: a good system but there are a couple of gripes

Swyx Phone System: a good system but there are a couple of gripes

Since I've been working for my current company I have been supporting their phone system which uses software called Swyx.

In general I'm quite a supporter of Swyx. It can run on a cheap server and seems reliable. When I arrived we had quite an old version and there were some issues with wireless connections: if someone had a wireless and a LAN connection (never ideal, I know) the Swyx software phone client would complain and often would not connect. It also had some issues with dealing with out of date DNS entries which could also cause some client connection issues.