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A job I would really like to do, but…

So, today in my usual job searching on Jobserve I found a job that I really like the sound of, here are some of the highlights:

My client is looking for a Data Centre Technician on an initial 3 month contract based in Angel, London in the Financial, Data and Media Services Industry. Rate: GBP 20/25 per hour Ltd.

The Data Centre technician will be responsible for providing technical assistance and overall support to our customers providing 24/7 cover through a 12 hour shift pattern.

Shift Pattern: 07:00 and 19:00 start times, 12 hour shifts including breaks.

Week 1: 4 shifts (4 nights)

Week 2: 6 shifts (3 days/3 nights)

Week 3: 3 shifts (3 days)

Week 4: 1 shift (1 day)

The Data Centre Technician will also be responsible for the installation of racks, housing, network and computer equipment. Each Data Centre technician is also responsible for managing and implementing installations as required, including shelves, power strips, rails, cable management and customer IT equipment. When required identify issues with the hardware or cabling, which can include replacing internal components and testing, tracing and labelling of cabling.

So here we have a well paid job, very local to me (20mins or so walk) and it’s working inside places I really enjoy… Data centres.

I don’t know what it is about a data centre, but I just love the buzz of it, a huge building filled with computers, cabling and links to networks near and far. The noise inside these places is often deafening, but the plus side is that the air conditioning (which is there really for the machines rather than the humans) is incredible, so no baking in summer!

I have a fair amount of experience with servers, I can take them apart, replace components, set them up, etc… but I have only had one job working specifically in a data centre, which was 13 years ago and not specifically dealing with hardware.

People say to me in this situation, “why not, go for it, you might get it” and all that sort of thing, the issue is that these days unless your most recent jobs match very closely the job that you are applying for, then you can forget it, you aren’t what they want.

Lets look a bit further at the job spec and the things I do/don’t have experience with:

Suitable candidates will be able to demonstrate the following skills:

* Computer engineering experience and knowledge in order to achieve optimum methods of working

* Cabling experience and knowledge, in order to achieve optimum methods of working.

* Installation of rack mount kit including HP and CISCO

* Hardware maintenance/swapping of failed customer replaceable parts such as cache battery, HDD, Power Supply.

* Highly motivated individual, with a positive and pro/active attitude to work.

* Willingness to make changes to improve operational efficiency through innovation, process and procedures, adopting and adapting ideas and practices from elsewhere.

* Ability to act rapidly and logically under pressure and making effective use of others in resolving problems.

* Capable of working with the minimum of supervision.

* Good written and verbal communication skills .

* Good working knowledge of Outlook, Word and Excel

* Excellent team skills, with an ability to listen and contribute to discussions and meetings.

* Customer and service focused, with determination to meet their needs.

Also of interest to my client:

* ITIL Accreditation

* Experience of HP Service Manager 7

So, actually, looking at that spec, I can actually tick off most of those things. But it’s actually really hard to ascertain from a CV/Resume that you have actually got those “soft skills” like team working, being highly motivated, etc, etc…

Realistically I would expect this job to get a lot of applications and the people who get shortlisted for interview are likely to be those whose last two jobs have been working in data centres…

The question I want an answer to here really is how can we stop this kind of “unfairness” in the job market, here I think is a job I would be really suited to, but because my background is in desktop support rather than server support, I will not be considered.

Those of you who are saying “apply for it, you never know”, I can tell you I have applied, but I am willing to put £5 on never getting a call back from this agency about this position….

Asking for help

So, this is what I have written down to either read out to or give to my GP tomorrow, presuming I can see him.

We both know the current government’s attitude is that sick and disabled people should be in work. With the support of my employer, I have so far managed to stay in employment for 8 months, although given my non-attendance at work yesterday, this may not the case. Anyway… if the government expects people who have disabilities to stay in work, then it follows, surely, that the NHS should support them in staying in work.

Right now I feel that I am teetering on the edge, for the last month, I do not think I have really experienced much happiness, I have realistically just existed. At several points I have contemplated suicide or had suicidal ideation, including throwing myself in front of a train.

I feel that at this point, my main issues revolve around the following:

Giving up: As we both know, there have been many opportunities over the past 3 years (and further back than that), which I have squandered. Then when things become too difficult, or it feels like there is no way out, I have resorted too quickly to suicidal thinking.

Anger: over the last few months, I have become more and more affected by anger and frustration. Perhaps the majority of this has come from the continued attitudes of the current government and the effects of their policies on my more disabled friends. I have also had some periods of heighted emotion (e.g. sadness) which may be related to this. Often when watching films or TV, tears come to my eyes and I feel very sad, even though I know it’s not real.

I am also frustrated by my loneliness and inability to find a suitable sexual partner. I have perused any woman who has shown interest in me online and then unfortunately taken things too quickly, resulting in loss of friendship and further frustration.

I have failed to pay more than a casual level of attention to my diabetes and other health issues. Although this may be down to the tiredness which I often feel when I am working, changing my pump set when it runs out is about the level of care of myself I have been taking. I have not brushed my teeth in quite some time; I pay no attention to the content of my food, despite the fact that I experience diarrhoea often, probably due to the fact content and my body’s inability to digest it. The physical flaws of my body just add to my frustration.

Since being taken on by Addaction and my salary increased to £33,333 I have all support from benefits taken away from me. I had been receiving £760/month from Housing Benefit and £400/month from Tax Credits on top of £290 DLA and between £1100 and £1300 Salary for a total of around £2500 per month, minus £1035 rent and £350 bills = £1,115 to deduct food, travel and entertainment from. Now I have an income of £2280 minus £1035 rent and £350 bills = £895. Except because of my absence from work during August I was paid £1400 and had to borrow £600 from my Dad to cover a £480 pay day loan, pay rent, bills and exist. I am not doing very well at present in this respect, because I do not cope very well when I realise that I do not have much money to cover my possible expenses. I also have to pay my Dad back quite a lot of money.

I had hoped that with my extra cash, I could try to further my life – pass IT certifications and learn to drive. These goals now seem further and further out of reach and I feel angry at those who seem to flaunt money in a way that I can only dream of.

I do not know if the issues that I have tried to explain here are mental health problems related to or an extension of Autism and/or related to ADHD. But I know that these aspects of my personality need to be changed or I will find myself destitute, homeless and suicidal once again.

No-one will let me give up, despite being tired and pissed off.

So, I started this job in January, that’s 8 months, possibly a record? Well in recent times, yes.

However, this has taken me down a road which maybe at the start I wanted to go down, but now, I don’t think so. I am tired, I am angry and I really don’t like this job any more. So much of it has become paper pushing, except that paper is email and the email is basically asking someone else to do something because we contracted that out to them. Users ring us, but really we can’t do anything.

I’d like to give up, but then what would I do? Find another job? Well that would just be so much hassle of dealing with stupid recruiters who don’t know a thing about IT and are paid stupid amounts of money to find people for jobs. They are salespeople, they all wear expensive suits and would probably drive fast cars if they could.

Could I go back to my previous life of claiming benefit? Well technically I am still sick, my disability hasn’t gone away because I have a job. But who would sign me off to say I am sick? My GP was a complete wanker the last time I saw him and had all the sympathy of a blow-fly. So I doubt he is going to sign a sick note for me if I went in there and told him I had quit my job.

Then even if I did get back on to benefits I would have to endure all the crap from IDS and the DWP, and within 6 months I would probably be queuing up in the job centre trying to make it look like I was looking for jobs and struggling on JSA.

It’s not the fact that I have overspent or have higher overheads now that means I can’t go back to benefits. Heck, I would probably have more money because Housing Benefit would pay my rent. No, it’s because I have worked this long, so I am seen as being capable of working.

So basically I have two choices, keep working or die. Right now, I think I’ll choose the latter.

Is this the future I really want?

I have spent quite a long time thinking about how to write this, but I don’t think there is an easy way. I am a very broken person. Not quite as broken as Latent Existence or Dannilion but broken in my own ways.

Today I spent most of the day in bed, I woke up at 9pm and ate pizza, yoghurt and chocolate. Since then, at least once an hour I have had to make trips to the toilet which resulted basically in water emerging from my rear end. This happens most days, because my pancreas cannot deal with fats that I ingest. Why should I change what I eat just because my body is broken? I certainly don’t have enough patience to maintain some kind of avoidance diet or spend hours reading packaging in supermarkets. Then there is the cost of special diets.

Also as a result of damage to my pancreas, I have diabetes. I wear an insulin pump, but I still have to tell it what I have eaten, test my blood sugar and change the sets every few days. I am currently performing at the level of being able to do one of these activities.

I try to be a happy person, I really do, I consider myself to be amusing. But realistically I cannot maintain this outward persona. As I said in my last post I was given a new post at work, a pay rise etc. I should have been so happy, and I was until I realised that: 1. Actually I had taken a pay cut, because I have lost most of the assistance I was getting from the government and 2. They were going to leave me with a skeleton staff, of which I am being relied upon as the most knowledgeable and “lead” person.

I have never dealt well with promotion or responsibility, I have not sought it out, but some how because I “wowed” someone, they thought I could deal with everything. I often think that the best job for me, would be the one with the least amount of responsibility, because then when my brain decides it’s had enough, as it usually does, then I am not really causing anyone problems by disappearing back into the mist that I arrived from.

Except this time, I am supposed to be “the one”, despite all my broken-ness and depression, I must come into work every day and perform to a high level, complete all the tasks set for me that week and answer phone calls and tickets with routine technical support enquiries. I cannot do this any more. It is not that I am bored, or have lost interest, I have genuinely lost my ability to cope with what I am being asked to do.

But, I cannot take sick leave – or I will not get paid and I cannot just quit and go back to the world of Welfare, because that world isn’t really there any more. I know after a few weeks of claiming ESA, I will be expected to fill in the dreaded ESA50, followed by the Work Capability Assessment, which will ultimately say that I am capable of picking a pencil up off the floor, so I am capable of working.

I have had enough, I have spent 17 years doing this, back and forth between work and benefits. Hoping that maybe one day I will find a job where I can do what is asked of me and live comfortably. But now I realise that is a fantasy, despite laws to the contrary that are supposed to protect people with disabilities, no-one really wants to help me, or in fact could offer me the right help to get past my struggles and onto something resembling “normality”.

My greatest regret is that my kittens, having just about settled down will face more upheaval and have to find another human they can trust.

I am not going to tell you what or when I am going to do anything, because I know people will just send the police after me, I realise you care about me, but neither they, nor mental health professionals can help me. They will listen to my story, find it to be far too matter of fact and basically tell me to just get on with it. This is the reality and any of you cared, you wouldn’t bother with me, you would just find someone who can look after my kittens.

The appointment with the death squads has arrived

I am kinda numb right now. On Saturday I got the letter I had been dreading since June. The date and time to go for a Work Capacity Assessment.

Letter from Atos with date for WCA

This is the test which the Government pays a French IT company £100m a year to administer and is known to be flawed. Thousands of people have already died waiting for the assessment or after being found fit for work. People who have terminal cancer, heart disease, even a man in a coma have been found fit for work.

This is the way I see it. Whilst I might be able to work, doesn’t mean that anyone actually wants to employ me. The biggest difficulty I have is that previous jobs have failed because I did not receive help from my employers which I am entitled to under the equality act. My last contract at the Olympic Games went south despite my attempts to ask for help, they citied that they could not be flexible with me because LOCOG was not being flexible with them.

Employment law in the UK is not sufficiently tough enough to guarantee employment for every disabled person who wants to work. Although it is technically illegal to use disability as a reason not to hire someone, they will find a way not to hire you. Even if you are up front and honest with them, getting the right help once you have a job is still difficult. So is it not surprising that I have worked 3 jobs since 2010, each one lasting no more than 3 months.

Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) and before it Incapacity Benefit have been my safety net when things have broken down, when I did not have the energy to go to work any longer, when I could not face the people I worked with. But now its all going to be taken away, because I am pretty sure that they will find me fit for work, possible not even eligible to ESA; despite me having a doctors note to the contrary.

What I really need is help, to make them realise that I am disabled, that I need help and that unless an employer is willing to help me out, then I cannot work.

If you or anyone you know is able to help, please let me know. You can leave a comment or email: I am also on twitter: @nerd8192

Some updates [September 2012]

Its been a while since I blogged, I have been busy! In the end I moved house at the beginning of August, yep, right in the middle of the Olympics! I now live in a basement flat on one of Hackney’s busiest streets. However, in trying to find a landlord who would accept housing benefit, I had to lower my standards a little bit.

Did I say a little bit? Well, who needs natural light in their bedroom, bathroom or kitchen, eh?! Who needs a kitchen that is actually usable?! Who needs decent sound insulation between you and the shop above eh?!

To tell you the truth all these things are driving me crazy… it started off when my cooker got condemned by the gas inspector. At least I got a new cooker, right? Well that then lead me to discover that the kitchen cabinets were rotting, which lead me to discover that the wall between the kitchen and the bathroom is damp…

I have been offered new kitchen cabinets, if I make the next rent payment at the end of the month on time! But to be honest, there would be little point in putting them in if they won’t last 5 minutes because of the damp. And not much point in doing the kitchen up if the ceiling needs to be replaced to properly soundproof the flat from the shop above, because all that is between me and them is a very thin layer of plasterboard. If someone sat down on the floor up there and farted, I am pretty sure it would make my walls rattle…

But what choice do I have eh? Here is a man who takes my £240 a week housing benefit and gives me somewhere to live. At least I have a roof over my head, unlike the homeless man camped out on the bench on the street outside.

Past the point of caring

It seems very clear to me that David Cameron has a mission to rid the UK of poor, disabled and now even young people who might even be working… let me make it clear what my mission is, and I don’t care who knows, to drive a stake through David Cameron’s heart and the hearts of the rest of the conservative cabinet.

At least if I was in prison, the government would have to look after me right, 3 meals a day, roof over my head… OK so maybe the other people there and what they might think of me is quite a concern, but perhaps not so much of a concern as trying to find somewhere to live when you have no money and no-one wants to rent to you because you don’t have a job and are claiming Housing Benefit.

Hackney Council have been fairly helpful, they have told me that if I find a property myself where the Landlord is prepared to accept housing benefit, then they could pay the deposit and 1st month’s rent from Discretionary Housing Payments, since I am classed as “vulnerable”, they may even be able to help me find somewhere, but the chances finding somewhere soon are slim since there is a huge demand for housing in Hackney and very very few Landlords who want to accept Housing Benefit. Who can blame them really, given all the bad press benefit claimants have received thanks to the Government’s propaganda…

On the 16th July my lease will end and it would seem even if I was to stick it out and get evicted then I might not get rehoused, I might have to live in a Homeless hostel, something I haven’t done since I was 17 and to be honest I imagine that its little better than Prison, apart from the whole locked doors thing. If I move out of Hackney to other boroughs where housing is cheaper, or even out of London, then I will not get help with the deposit and first month’s rent. I have no money right now, I am owed money from Tax Credits, from Housing Benefit and from ESA, but of course I have no idea when they will pay up and I doubt that would be enough to cover my moving expenses, then of course I would need to find money to pay the next month’s rent in a month from now.

I really have no motivation to do anything, it seems pointless for me to even look at places to live on rightmove and such. as the chances that they will say yes to Housing Benefit are minimal. And of course its not as if you could hide it even if I had the money, since they want employment references and credit checks, etc, etc…

I am disabled, I am 32 years old, I deserve better treatment than this by the state, but clearly I am not worth it.

Living in London

So I am now living in London with my old friend Ben A’Lee in a nice flat in Hackney, which isn’t the murders and rapist playground that people imagine. Hackney is a pretty up and coming place these days, just at the end of our road is the north-west corner of the Olympic Park and we can see the media/press centre being built from our window! I have gotten to know the area quite well and apart from free cash machines being a 20 minute walk away, all is good.

Last week I was quite shocked when someone actually offered me a job! Its been so long (15 months or so) since I have worked that I had really forgotten what it was like to be able to get work! I shall be working for a company called “Samvo” who provide online gambling services. They are very big in the Far East apparently, but most things are run from London. It will be a combination of Windows and Linux Systems Administration and I am quite looking forward to starting on 23/08/2010. My only issue is that my commute (the job is in West London) is about 1hr each way, although I guess that is London for you! Formerly prospective employers in the North West didn’t want to know if I told them I had no car or that it would take me an hour on the train to get to their office, so just shows you how things are different here.

I have just spent about 2hrs trying to migrate my lighttpd configuration back to apache, mostly because there are quite a few things you can’t do with lighttpd… If you are trying to get things working, make sure that your browsers cache isn’t caching your fails, otherwise things will take you twice as long – including firefox caching the fact that its being sent php before its been processed and therefore trying to download it!

Well I think I should try to sleep for a bit, got to get up in 2hrs to go to Royal London Hospital and hopefully have the rest of my tooth removed!

Where were you, dude?

it may be gray outside in Massachusetts — at least there are still rainbows in my soap bubbles – Star Simpson

I got back from a wet evening in Manchester and this quote made me smile. Its been been difficult lately…

For those of you who are new to the world of Seth, I have Diabetes and a messed up Pancreas, these health issues go back about 10 years now, before that I was skinny and had no problems. This is of course on top of my Asperger Syndrome and “additional mental health issues”…

The Pancreas issues started when I was 20, I suddenly got terrible pain in my abdomen and had to call an ambulance; this kinda thing went on for about 2 years, every few months or so. Removing my gall bladder didn’t help! The damage done to my pancreas by all these bouts of pancreatitis – basically the pancreas tries to digest itself – left me with a problem digesting fats… sometimes its better than others, sometimes I eat something with a minimal amount of fat in and minutes later (I kid you not) I am running for the bathroom.

When I was 24 I found out that not only had the enzyme producing part of my Pancreas messed up, but the Insulin producing part had as well and I now had diabetes. At first it was easy, I would ensure, no-matter what that I had my insulin pen and my glucometer with me and would always test and inject before meals. Then I got depressed, pissed off and I have never really gotten it right again for very long since about 2007.

Recently its been really getting me down, over the summer I had a blood test which seemed to suggest that I am making my own insulin and that my diabetes might be more like Type 2 than Type 1 – Type 2 diabetics produce insulin but can’t use it, Type 1 diabetics have no or very little insulin production. So I started taking tablets instead of insulin during the day and then I realised they weren’t working, so try a different tablet – last week I figure out this isn’t working either. Yesterday I realised I couldn’t bring my blood sugar down even by injecting an amount that would have been normal for me a few months ago.

So it seems for the past few weeks, my blood sugar has been sky high, I have spent the best part of my waking life on the toilet, but I am still alive I guess and not going blind, etc, yet…

The weirdest part is that you can have these problems with blood sugar, but not really feel any different. Granted I want to sleep a lot – which has kinda messed things up: On Thursday night I was supposed to take my Intermediate Amateur (HAM) Radio License exam. I got home from University and all I wanted to do was sleep, I could not contemplate getting on 2 buses, taking the exam and getting home… I turned my phone off and went to sleep. Now I have voicemails and emails to deal with – “where were you?!”. Today I wasn’t at my lectures – the most boring ‘crossover’ module on “The Engineering Environment” is shared with mechanical engineers and mostly seems to be about writing about your favourite dead engineer – I have chosen Alan Turing, although I haven’t started writing the essay yet.

So tomorrow I will go in, I will go to bed in a minute and I will try my hardest to get up at 7am, shower, do the things normal people do and sit for 3hrs soldering my function generator project together and hopefully have something I can test at the end of the lab session.

So I hope that explains “where I have been” these last few days…

Tips and Stuff

I have recently moved to a new virtual server hosting provider, Linode have hosting centres in 4 locations in the US and allow you to pick which centre you would like your server in. They have a great web user interface and are cheaper than my previous provider, Slicehost. So now I am paying about half what I was for hosting. I have also got away with using a lot less memory for my virtual server, by implementing some different ways of getting around spam.

Realtime DNS Block Lists (DBL)

DBL’s store a list of known IP addresses which should not be trusted when receving mail, either they are IP’s assigned to home machines (DSL/Cable clients) or known spammers caught out by traps. There are a few DBL’s, but until now I have only been using one – Spamhaus, but sadly this doesn’t catch most spammers. I have now been through my configuration and included a few more DBL’s which are listed below. The advantage of this is that looking up an IP in a DBL is not processor or RAM intensive and does not require an external program – like Spamassasin. I have also implemented a few features in postfix which allow the looking up of hosts who try to exchange mail with my server, if the hostname they are giving doesn’t match their actual hostname or they have no A record or MX record for the domain they are using, postfix will end the connection.

smtpd_recipient_restrictions =

It is very important that “permit_mx_backup” goes at the end, because I am finding that spammers will take advantage of backup MX servers to get their spam accepted in some way, which then causes a lot of dead return to sender messages in your queue later.

With the “reject_rbl_client” lines I have in this config, I don’t have to use Spamassasin or other spam anaylsis programs at presnt, the few spams I am getting are minimal and may have been things I accidentially signed up to in the past! was blocking Google Mail last night, which is why I have blocked it. requires that you sign up to use their service first.

Moving MySQL

I have to admit that I am no programmer; Systems Administration, Network Administration and troubleshooting come fairly easily to me, but programming has always passed me by. I have often just blindly copied something someone else has done to get by and I remember when I was young spending hours typing in source code from magazines to see try out programs and stuff!

So when it comes to SQL people say “well its not that hard, its mostly english!” but you have to remember the order things go in and weather a line needs a ; at the end, etc… I have tried to get into PHP and stuff, but I just get really bored and give up. I have a load of programming books on C and PHP if anyone is interested!

I use some SQL on my server – WordPress, which makes this blog work uses MySQL… but to keep it going I had to move it from my old server to my new one.

I followed the usual instructions, to backup your databases use:

mysqldump -u root -p --all-databases > database_backup.sql

And then to restore:

mysql -u root -p < database_backup.sql

Then presto and everything is back, but is it working? Well it might be a good idea to try:

/etc/init.d/mysql restart

Because when you import your old databases, you overwrite the passwords for the users that are stored in them. In the file /etc/mysql/debian.cnf there are settings for a user called debian-sys-maint which is setup when you install MySQL. A password is generated for this user and then stored in the file, when you import all databases you overwrite the users database which then overwites this password, causing debian-sys-maint to be unable to access the database and a failure when you try to start MySQL, although the daemon is running.

phpMyAdmin is your friend here, because you need no knowledge of SQL commands to go in and change the password for a user, therefore fixing this nasty problem! Once you’ve done that you can then use this command to stop MySQL (as /etc/init.d/mysql stop won’t work):

kill | cat `/var/run/mysqld/`

Then go ahead and start MySQL as normal:

/etc/init.d/mysql start

Uninterruptible Power Supplies and their lack of Uninterruptible-ness

An Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS is a big battery that will keep your computer running if the power goes off, it will also protect it from surges and incidents when the power dips to what it should be. They are very useful for when you need to move things around or if you have electricity that you have to pay for in advanced (and will therefore be switched off automatically if you have no credit).

I have had small UPS’s for a few years which are about enough to keep an average desktop PC going for about 10 mins if the power fails. However, I have recently had to start dealing with them at work, since we have moved away from Co-located hosting to hosting our servers at our office. When you are running UPS’s commerically, the need for power cannot be overstated – you need things to be as overkill as possible! Most UPS’s (anything designed for keeping more than just one PC going) will have overload detection and if the UPS detects an overload, it will start to shut itself down – because if the power were to be lost, the batteries could not take the load and the servers connected would not be able to shutdown gracefully.

However this means that mains power is lost to these connected servers and hence zap – no power… Well, in our case it means a 50% reduction in power as the servers have 2 PSU’s each which are redunant. However, it is not so easy to build redundancy into a network, and taking out the UPS that the network switches are connected to will take down the servers as they can’t talk to the outside world… resulting in my mobile phone ringing and someone giving me grief that they can’t do any work!

Teamed Network Cards are network cards that can run in pairs (or more) providing greater throughput or redundancy if they are connected to different switches (in different UPS’s!) however my employer apparently has little interest int he redundancy aspect of this and uses teaming only for throughput… why have 1Gb/s when you can have 2Gb/s?!

After this happening twice today, I had to bypass the UPS’s entirely as they were getting less reliable than the service from the electricity provider!

Whilst I like my job, I hate the fact that my employer prefers to buy his parts on eBay and expects great performance from a limited budget!

Well, I think that is all for tonight… until next time (in the imortal words of Sara Cox) – “rave safe kids, rave safe!”