Time to put on my pith helmet..

.. and go job hunting.

I can’t go into any detail (yet), but it’s looking likely that I’m going to need to find another job rather soonish. As such, if you know of any open positions for a (senior) systems administrator/IT Infrastructure engineer – please get in touch.

A copy of my CV without my address and phone details is embedded below (assuming your browser supports it – otherwise please click here).

Please get in touch if you’d like a copy with full details. Essentially I’d be looking to work in the Woking/Guildford areas, or London, Farnborough or Basingstoke. Anywhere where I can commute to easily by train and bus. Hybrid working is good, and I’d also accept remote working too.

Happy 1st work anniversary…

.. meeeeeeee!

Today marks my first full year working for Supermassive Games. I didn’t think I’d even get to this point because I’d applied for the same job in 2022 and wasn’t sure if my Windows skills were up to par. I tend to go through phases where I feel much more like a Linux sysadmin than anything else. Now, I’d describe myself more as a tech generalist than anything specific. I try to be platform agnostic, but I do have a soft spot for Linux and macOS! So, I declined to go further with the original interview. However, I re-applied in 2023 and surprised myself by getting the job.

The one thing this job has taught me is that continually getting out of one’s comfort zone is a good thing. My Windows skills (in particular) are constantly improving, and I’m currently deep-diving into Microsoft 365 for fun and… a quiet life at work when people ask me about SharePoint and Teams! Just kidding – or am I?! As for my health, things are much easier now that I have to go into the office every day, which is doing me a lot of good. I think working from home does have its benefits, but I stagnated during the pandemic – not leaving my house for long periods – which definitely affected my health. Plus, there are some seriously cool projects that I’m getting to work on.

Then we’ve had people like Ted Raimi, Hideo Kojima, and Nicolas Winding Refn visit our office, which speaks volumes about just how much this company is valued by gaming and film industry professionals. Occasionally, when I’ve mentioned to random people who I work for, they’ve told me how much they love our games. And when I’ve played our games (The Quarry in particular), I’m astonished at just how brilliant they are, and that – along with Death Stranding – narrative-focused games have become extraordinarily entertaining for me and are now among my favourite genres. There’s definitely something in this whole cinematic gaming malarkey, oh yes. Oh, and did you know that one of the games we’ve developed for Sony is being turned into a feature film?

I feel extraordinarily lucky to work with an amazing team – all of whom are extraordinarily talented and hugely knowledgeable about their field. And friendly too. It’s a company that really does care for its employees and their well-being. Very rare for the creative industries. It’s also the company that made me buy and love the PS5. I really do think it’s an amazing console.

But it still strikes me as amazing that when I was working in the VFX industry, I worked on a film based on a computer game (Tomb Raider 2 and the Cradle of Life – with the fictional Laura Croft living in Guildford of all places). Now it’s vice versa (working in Guildford on computer games). Madness. But I like it!

WhatsApp? It’s WhatsGone.

As part of my social media account cull, I’ve inadvertently nuked my WhatsApp account in the process (since it’s owned by Meta, owners of Facebook). I owe a few replies, so I’m going to get around to it shortly (through old-fashioned SMS, iMessage or.. gasp.. email) – my apologies. I am on Telegram, however (assuming you know my mobile number).

Goodbye Social Media..

.. you were.. crap. Yet it started off so well.

I’ve just deleted the majority of my social media accounts with the exception of LinkedIn because – quite frankly – none of them can be trusted to do the right thing, and they’re just full of bots spreading propaganda for the most greedy, narcissistic, selfish, power-hungry people on Earth. And automated bots. You’re pretty much shouting into the void. And bots. Did I mention bots?

X is a massive shit show both technically and socially. Facebook has become a graveyard and has essentially become the Friends Reunited of social media. Instagram is just confusing with its reels, stories and posts. Threads became just another X clone and became just as toxic as the place it was meant to replace. Bluesky has no two factor authentication, which in this day and age, is bloody ridiculous – and then it’s mainly a celebrity hangout. Regular folk have accounts, but they don’t use them. Mastodon had the right idea, but it’s far too fragmented and fiddly.

So I’m sticking to using this blog (of which I have full control over the contents and how it works), and LinkedIn (for professional and the occasional social) use. Oh, and YouTube. But even then that can be pretty awful. But not nearly as much as the rest of them combined. I had to restart my YouTube channel having deleted Google Workspace. But then again, a new start was probably a good idea anyway.

Bring back Google+, you were pretty good!

This weekend’s tech project: Moving to Microsoft 365 Business Premium from Google Workspace

I’ve been using Google Workspace from 2006 onwards when it was first called Google Apps For Your Domain. It’s been rebranded a few times along the way, but essentially I’ve been a paying customer of Google Workspace since it was possible to do so. I’ve used almost all levels of the service – from Business Starter through to Enterprise Plus – and it’s been interesting playing with all the features it has to offer.

But for the past 6 years, I’ve been using Microsoft 365 at work. We migrated away from Google Workspace at KPS to Microsoft 365 as part of the company standardising on one platform. I didn’t handle the migration – that was something our German partners were responsible for. Thank goodness they did the heavy lifting because I’m personally moving to Microsoft 365 (Business Premium) and found migrating is a massive pain in the arse and I have only ONE account to migrate. I’m doing this because if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Also: I’m doing a lot of work supporting Microsoft 365 right now and it’d be good to get properly under the hood without affecting production. I take enough backups of my own stuff that it doesn’t really matter if I muck things up with my own set-up. This will be the first time I’ve really used Exchange Online in anger.

I thought migrating might be easy – and with the Microsoft 365 console, it appears to be – though a lot of fuss has to be made over subdomains. Even using the automatic settings of Google Workspace within the Microsoft 365 Exchange admin console results in abject failure. I even tried BitTitan, but that just sat there and shat itself after taking a age to do anything and with little to no on-screen feedback (and this is why I often hate the cloud).

So, I’ve reverted to do a straight forward IMAP migration, but even that had issues. I initially tried an app password after enabling IMAP for the Google Workspace domain – but that didn’t seem to work until I realised that you had to leave in the spaces that Google gives you for the app password.

When testing IMAP, I downloaded Thunderbird and tested the login credentials that way. Google’s security is good – it wouldn’t let me log in if I disabled 2FA. But re-enabling 2FA and setting up a password (and making note to leave in the spaces) got me started. I updated the user CSV file that you need to upload to Microsoft, and the process started successfully.

I wanted to die many time when the API process failed. Thankfully IMAP migration seems to work.

I had to consult with Google Workspace support in getting IMAP to work, and as you can see from this conversation with the support agent, I get praise for being “the most patient and polite person he’s ever worked with”. He wouldn’t have said if he had discovered that I had destroyed two decent keyboards over the course of the years – out of a fit of absolute rage. I don’t get angry often, but if I’m provoked enough, keys will fly..

You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry… but thankfully I tend to remain calm, patient and polite 99.999% of the time

Anyway, things are now up and running on Microsoft 365 and I’m happy. Well, mostly happy. I’ve signed up for afi.ai backup (which I’ve been using with Google Workspace) for backups and Microsoft’s APIs keep seem to be throttling the backups. It may be due to the IMAP migration going on in the background. I don’t know. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next week or so.

What amused me was issuing PowerShell commands from a Mac terminal. There are a few things that are quicker or can only be performed using PowerShell for Exchange services, so I downloaded and installed PowerShell for Mac ARM64. It’s all rather bizarre.

PowerShell.. for MacOS ARM64!

The whole set-up will cost me around £25/month for the one user license after the month’s free trial. But this cost is similar to that of the Google Enterprise Plus subscription. I’ll continue to buy the personal 5-user edition of Microsoft 365 as my family makes use of it – £65/year is a bargain and I’ll be using the 1Tb storage as additional backup space.

And what of Google Workspace and my Google account? Well, if it all works out, I’ll be deleting Google Workspace which will also probably mean me losing my YouTube channel and videos (which are already backed up). This is my major gripe with modern identity management – having a single identity to cover so many different services poses a risk if the account were to ever be locked or closed. Trying to get a consumer Google account will be.. interesting.

Happy Mew Year

The holiday period is over, alas, and it’s back to work I go.

But the past week was one of my most relaxed and regenerative periods of 2023 and I’m profoundly grateful for my dad and sister putting up with me!

Special thanks go to the family cat whose inhuman screaming at 2am (and 4am) to be let in for cuddles makes me cower under the blankets. But Poppy (for that is her name) is, in fact, a lovely old thing that has mellowed over the years. It’s always lovely to see her – assuming she doesn’t creep up on you.

Catinator 2: Judgement Day

Christmas Day itself broke with tradition and we all went to the oldest pub in Essex for lunch. The Galvin Green Man is a pub and restaurant which can trace its origins back to 1341. We started off with a drink at the bar (I had a pint of Adnams Blackshore Stout – delicious, and with a hint of sweetness not found in other stouts such as Guinness) and moved to the pub area to enjoy our five course meal.

The food was good, the wine was good, and I particularly enjoyed the sherry that accompanied the Christmas pudding. Before that, we had also enjoyed a glass of merlot and chardonnay with the first few courses. It’s hard to believe that I’d gone an entire year alcohol-free before the Christmas holidays. I tend not to drink unless it’s for social occasions, and 2023 wasn’t exactly my most socially active year. Hoping 2024 is a bit better. But as I get older, I can no longer sink the 6 or 7 pints on days out with the mates. I tend to stick to 2 pints maximum before moving to soft drinks these days. Hard to believe that in two years time (in May) I turn the big five-oh.

Apart from Christmas dinner at the pub, much of the week was spent with my dad and sister (who flew in from windy Scotland) and on one weekday my dad and I went into Chelmsford (which I’m still getting acquainted with) for a hair cut, a coffee, a pint, and lunch at one of the best Turkish restaurants I’ve ever been to (and they do a fantastic crème brûlée).

Speaking of restaurants – one pleasant surprise is that Chelmsford has at least TWO pie and mash shops. I LOVE pie and mash. I have such happy memories of my maternal grandmother and my mum taking me to a pie and mash shop in Canvey Island on one of our many summer holidays at Thorny Bay Caravan Park. And years later, when I worked for ISION Internet in Greenwich, I was fortunate enough to enjoy an occasional pie and mash lunch near the Cutty Sark.

When I next return to Chelmsford, I must give one of the pie and mash shops a go.