A little bit crazy!

OK, it’s official, the new job is turning me into a new kind of crazy.

Not the good kind of crazy, the kind where you have great ideas that are a bit out there but still work, not even the crazy where people just leave you to it because you seem to make things work… just the plain old please stop me from scratching out my own eyeballs crazy.

I am now entering week 12 of my preliminary 6 weeks of travelling up to Portishead everyday. I always knew the first 6 weeks was going to be right on the edge of what I can deal with in terms of boredom, sleep deprivation and just plain crazy, but this is now pushing it too far.

At week 6 I was meant to have a meeting to discuss trialling working from home. That didn’t happen. Nor has it happened when I have harked on about it. At week 12 the office is meant to have moved 1hour and 10mins closer to home for me. Does it stand a chance of moving in 3 days… not a hope. Does it stand a chance of moving in the next 6 weeks… maybe but I doubt it. Has it even been announced to the company that this is what it meant to be happening… nope.

There were two things that were very important to me when I started here, working from home and the office moving a lot closer. Neither has happened and it is affecting me now.

I think this is a good company to work for, I think I can do well here… but if promises this important to me get broken how can I trust them going forward.


Gentle Upgrades

No particular news… nothing really of note has happened… just little things.

Today’s achievement (assuming this works) means my blog should now be coming back to Facebook. As is always the case I have tried to link my site together with the on-line services I use, creating a combined set of all my data that I control. When I first started a blog in 2004 it actually started on the Livejournal service. Having used that for a couple of years I decided to buy my own site at which point I wanted to bring the blog to my site (if only so I had some content). I exported my blog and brought it on-line at my own site. I then worked on a way of automatically posting between the two. Then when I started using Facebook I found that I could link notes with a blog. Facebook actually did all the hard work for you then taking an RSS feed and just picking them up as they happened. Late last year they decided they were too cool for that and shut down the feature (in that way that they do). So if I wanted to cross post to both Livejournal and Facebook it was up to me to write something to do it… Today is (again hopefully) the first day of my plan working.

In other news the house seems to be gaining some level of order from the semi chaos. Paperwork is now all in order, the loft has been organised, the garage is basically organised to the untrained eye and the house seems pretty good. Jobs are getting done which is always nice. Still haven’t got around to painting our bedroom but maybe that will happen next weekend.

What is most impressive about all this work getting done is that I am still travelling up to near Bristol everyday, leaving the house at 6:45am and getting home 8pm generally. This is leaving me feeling very sleep deprived and very annoyed at the lack of time I have to get things done, so to have achieved anything in this time is nice. Still, roll on an office move which should give me back hours 2+ hours in my day (2 real hours plus maybe another 1 or 2 thanks to getting more sleep) and roll on working from home for a few days giving me the chance to sleep 2 days in every 5… Still, until it all happens it is just a pipe dream.

As an aside, if you have read this far it means you might care about what I say. As I have been updating the tech behind my blog I should also mean I post more often as it will be easier for me to do so… so in theory, watch this space


All Change

OK, I know said I would do better at updating my blog and I know so far I keep failing, but I’ve been busy dammit! Maybe my blog is actually a really long term retirement project waiting for spare time…

To say the last few months have been a rollercoaster would not do them a shred of justice… Short version I have a new job.

Long version, the company I used to work for and worked for for over 2 and a half years went under. More to the point it was dragged under by a poor business deal which resulted in a lot of work which was never paid for. In the end the outgoings were greater than the incoming and the debts mounted to a point where there was nothing else to do but fold.

Clearly this was a very sad situation not to mention annoying. In fact this process of would the company go under actually lasted about 3 months so there was a 3rd emotion that crept in which was relief. At least we knew what was going on.

The downside was none of us really wanted to leave and we still had clients who liked us. The clear winner was to start a new company and do it right from the start. Easier said than done when you are trying to make money at the same time. This bumped along the bottom for a few months, sometimes making some real progress, but other time settling on the same mediocrity that led to the eventual death of the first company.

Then came the real beginning of the end. Shaun, one of the directors for the old company and also director for the new company got another job. Not because he wanted to but because he needed to. The new company was not brining in enough money to sustain everyone and he had an offer which he took. Originally it was belived that job would be remote and fairly short term so he would still be around to answer questions. As time moved on and he ended up in his new jobs office it became apparent he was not coming back.

As this became apparent I started looking for a new job. Without Shaun in the company my interest in staying was dropping. I was left doing his work and as the lone coder and it wasn’t fun anymore. I found a couple of jobs that looked interesting before finally having a conversation with Shaun about his new company.

A week later I had an interview which was actually more of a contract negotiation and they offered me very nice position as a seiner software engineer which I agreed to. Of course it wasn’t all plain and simple. The new job was considerably further away than where I was used to travelling. With that in mind part of my discussions the idea of remote working and they also mentioned that in the near future they are considering moving offices closer to me by upto an hour which would make my life much simpler again.

So where does this leave me. It leaves me 5 weeks into a new job, it leaves me 5 weeks into a 6 week period of travelling every day from which point I can start working from home. It leaves me sleep deprived and frustrated at not getting enough things done at home. It also leaves Demelza a little fed up with not seeing me. Most importantly however while a little painful now, I am well on the way to a much more sustainable long term career which pays me correctly for my skills. And of course I’m still working with Shaun which I do still very much enjoy.


Broken by design

I have just had one of those days. You know the type, where everything that can go wrong not only does, but likes to break everything else with it.

What follows are a couple of screenshots from my browser at work. Note I am running a plug-in at the bottom of each window called FireBug which allows you to edit the page live. Anyone who does any decent form of web development will be more than aware of this plug-in and should be using it everyday.

What is it not meant to be able to do is change parts of the browser itself… and thus i present evidence to the contrary.




Can you say “Mac”?

Are you running a Mac?

If so and you haven’t seen this trick before, bear with me.

Go to your applications folder, then the utilities folder. In there you will find an application called terminal. Open it up.

Then type “say hello world” without the quotes. If the sound is on your computer will speak whatever you put after the word “say”.

I know this is old hat to most people I know, but then again, if you are the average Mac user this will be like gold dust to you.

I think the next time someone asks me to fix their Mac I am going to script it to say “the matrix has you” at random intervals…

Oh the possibilities…


Work work work

Today’s random quote from work:

A – can you just come explain what this thing is doing (points to the screen).
B – ok, I will check in sec, I just need to get this upload started.
A – ok dude, well, while you do that I’m just going to look at some breasts.


Change of direction

First, I shall begin with a quote from my manager yesterday. At the time he was having an argument with one of the guys in the office: “how would you like to be stood at the Malaysian border, with no
clothes and a kilo of heroin strapped to your body?”

If you know my manager you know he is just the sort of person who could click his fingers and make this happen. Crossing my manager is a bad thing…

Anyway, I will try and keep this short so people actually read it.

A friend of mine from my church has fairly recently started her gap year (6months) in Malaysia and because of the wonders of technology I have set her up a blog etc which is pretty darn cool so now we have all been staying in touch with her.

Some of you may know I was planning a trip to New York over the Easter holiday, just a week on my own or something. Well I can now confirm that won’t happen, it has instead been replaced by a 10 day trip in Malaysia in March (8th – 18th). This is a bit of a change and a soding cool one at that. Basically saw something on the TV showing cheap flights there, that got me thinking, looked some up online, if you take into account accommodation then Malaysia is cheaper. This idea first came about a week ago, so I have been working very quickly with Emily through loads of emails to get this sorted. While she is out on her gap year she is doing teaching out there…. And my trip lines up with the week of school holidays they have there… So its all pretty darn perfect. Does mean however I still have lots of organising left to do.

Booked the flights yesterday, bit of drama there. Was using the machine downstairs with mum and dad and when we ran the search the prices had jumped by £200 in the last 2hours! Well, thankfully I still had a browser tab open from earlier on my machine with the prices I had seen on it. Now because they have so much in the way of terms and conditions on their site they have to have a long timeout on sessions. So I managed to pick up the old session and get the better prices because that was the price I saw first and under UK law that’s what they then have to sell for. In other words, it was fucking close and I’m pretty lucky (and a bit better off…)

Ok, already typed too much


Home? Where’s that? BANG!

Ok, first things first, while its on my mind I have just a single link for you. behind said link is a video that requires 3 things, watching, sound and a computer…2nd two are a given and I would urge you to do the first.


Moving on. I’m beginning to wonder where I actually live. Now until very recently I would have had no trouble answering this question whatsoever. I live at home with my parents and my brothers. Simple isn’t it…. well, you would have thought so.

I have come to the conclusion I live somewhere between work, a train and a car. These seem to be the three places I spend a vast amount of my time in. Now to be fair I can add my room/bed to that list, but it is not top, and its pushing 2nd at times. I lead a life that takes me to work at some un-godly hour, has me come back at another un-godly hour and sees me leave again to go do something other than sleep.

For example, I normal Friday will see me leave the house soon after 6am and have me get back around 11pm. That of course is when everything is going well. Last Thursday saw me get up at 6am, get home at 8:15pm, leave the house again at about 8:20pm and then back at 11pm.

Now normally I can live with this rather sleepy existence given the weekends to recover. This weekend just gone was not a time for recovery at all. It involved me spending from very early till very late at my church with Thomas, Jonners and a selection of explorer scouts. You see, there was a fund raising concert which involved lots of music generally played on instruments. These instruments (nice as they were) did not really work together without something to make some of them louder. This the point where myself (and my pre-arranged team) step in and build a 3500Watt sound system (and lighting system).

To say what we achieved was impressive would just not be doing it justice. We had a fully working system using 16channels fed from a computer, a variety of microphones attached to varying instruments and a few guitars thrown in for fun (oh, and a few singers)… This system then fed back to 4 main speakers, 4 monitor speakers (with appropriate feeds relative to their position) and a computer for recording.

Myself, Thomas and Joe (one of the explorers helping) monitored levels for both live and recording for all 16 channels. That mean we were working on (including the gain) 5 levels for each of the 16 channels. Now by my calculations that’s 80 levels, which a very big number of changed maybe 30-40 times each during the concert. Not bad if you consider all this was for a band that had not fully played together until that days afternoon and using a sound system we had only put together in the morning! I was happy at the end, but interestingly also pretty dead. This may have something to do with it was me who masterminded the system and who’s head blame would rest on had it gone anything but right.

Given all of the many reasons and ways in which we could have failed I am aware of only one mistake from the 1hour40 concert. Even that was so small that I expect I’m the only one who remembers it.

Right, so job done payment in hand (large chocolate bar (currently being consumed)) we managed to leave about 11:30 I think, which wasn’t too bad at all.

What however was bad was tat I was up early the next morning to pick up the kit (all 2 cars worth) from the church at 8:30am and then dropped it off at 10. Then drive back home, pick brothers up, go to church, leave church, go to grandparents for lunch, drive back for play rehearsal, drive back to grandparents for tea, drive home again, sleep, back up at 7am for work in London at 8:45am, home at 6:15pm, tea, out again to go meet up with Jen.

And it was at this point things got interesting. Well, perhaps interesting is the wrong word, odd. We went for a drive. It was one of those drives based on nothing more than where I point the car at each junction. Suffice to say I didn’t know where I was going. That may well have explained why we ended up at a mail distribution centre (very much in it…), later a school car park and my firm favourite, a small car park in a wood. We didn’t stay long in the latter. May had something to do with as we pulled up in the car and parked we looked out the window and saw only one other car (it was about 10pm). Nothing new there then, a car in a car park late in the evening. The thing that was different here was that as we looked over at the other car we realised there were two fairly pink fleshy people inside it moving about a fair bit. The car also was pretty steamed up… We decided we best not ruin their moment much more and drove off….


It’s an IT thing

I like IT people. I like them for one great attribute that seems rare these days. It’s an attribute that anyone can have and it costs nothing. It even requires no work whatsoever to acquire. They are quiet. Simple as that. They do not feel the need to shout across the room to make sure everyone hears they have just come out of meeting that will change the business forever, stand in time as a revolutionary moment in the businesses life. They just get on with the job and talk at a required level. This is the problem with other people in the city. They are big, brash, loud in order to be heard and promoted. Interestingly and rather coincidently they are also all wankers. The sort of people you would meet in the street and be glad you don’t have to see them again. They don’t just get the job done like in IT, they talk about the job, decide how important it is, argue with their alpha male attributes how each part of the job should be done etc. Then out they come from their meeting still spewing business “buzz words”. This issue has never really existed in IT. If you are good at your job then let you keep doing it and just give you different titles to get you up the pay grades. If you are crap at IT they put you out of the way in management where you do the least management. Oh how I wish all industries would be like IT (without perhaps the painful speed it moves at).


Lines of co(d|k)e

Commuters are great for advertisers. There are millions of them, they are predictable and they have money. This makes them a prime target to get a new product rolling. For this reason I have been attacked everyday with some form of free version of a new product since I started work. The funny thing is I get of the train at London Bridge station and from there I have a 5min walk at most. During this time I get presented without fail some for of food or drink, 2 newspapers, 3-4 leaflets and normally some form of card holder.

Yesterday (well, Thursday) there were lots of people standing outside the station doors handing out loads and loads of mini cans of the new product “Coke Zero”. This is just a sugar free version of coke with supposedly the same taste. o be fair it isn’t bad, but you can still tell. Plus, its loaded up with aspartame. The really funny thing though was that along the main commuter route that I walk (over London Bridge) there were absolutely thousands of these little cans, empty and on the side. Obviously there are no bins in the city of London thanks to the IRA. There was maybe 200 on each post-box, pillar, box, van, railing…well, pretty much any static object. I wish I had a photo, I really do.

Ok, so that was funny enough, but just to prove they watch what’s going on, today (Friday) there were more people with little drink cans. This time however it was not Coke, this time it was Pepsi showing of their new product, “Pepsi One” which is basically the same as idea (i.e. no sugar). Yet again thousands of cans lines London Bridge for the second time that week.

I bet the city council was annoyed…..

Ok, time to move onto work stuff.

It seems so far I spend a lot of my time working on applications that don’t work. I find this quite cool because I enjoy working out what’s wrong and taking things to bits. The one I’m working on is a particular challenge. First it is a VB6 application designed to run on NT4 in a manor which emulates a service. It has been in use for years now and apart from one bug fix in early 2004 it seems fine.

My task was to take it apart, work it does (so reverse engineer it) and then rewrite it in C# as a real service. Now there are a few problems. The first is that I don’t read VB6 so a day was lost to me learning a fair bit of that. I have now been pulling apart this app for about 3 days. Its one of those things that the more you uncover the more you realise you have left to uncover.

It has now been decided that I’m going to take this back all the way to initial spec, then technical spec, then design and then finally code it. This is not the simple re-code it started as off. You see, the code was written by someone who really was no good, its just it seemed to work so they left it (“it ain’t broke so don’t fix it”….). As a measure of how bad parts of it are I know how bad they are and its not my language!

I have been talking bits over with the guys at work as I find them. I spent an hour on a guy in the states who looks after the server and I pulled a log file from it too. Monday will be spent researching some very important little quirks of SQL server 2000. Basically, the app works, but they are so lucky it does. The error checking is so bad that it may as well not be there in many cases. To prove this point (and how bad the app is) I opened the log file. It was a 118MB text file (txt). It takes a while to open in word and when it did it was over 28,000pages. It has been generating 2 errors every 20seconds for the last 6months!

One of the developers did point out that at least I can really screw my version up and still be an improvement!


The first hurdle is there only to trip you

I’m conscious that all I have been talking about is computers. Ok, to be fair I do now work in IT so stuff like that happens.

What I have been neglecting more is that I also work in an office, now that is an odd place.

During today I had notepad open and I just typed a few things that I noticed around me:

  • Those who think they are busy are running around, those who are busy are sitting at their desks.
  • The guy with the most feature filled phone finds making a simple call hard enough.
  • Every time I feel I want a break, in the back of my mind there is this niggling little feeling reminding me that I’m being paid a fair bit to work. The really strange part is that quite often I know full well that getting up and wandering around (i.e taking a break from the screen) will help me to think a great deal, but still it doesn’t seem to move me (maybe it’s the chair).
  • Office work is all about image and impression. Today a work experience kid came in for a bit. He would have seen me sitting at my huge desk, on my fully adjusted chair, sitting in front of a very impressive looking computer with more screens than I expect he has seen before. My desk is covered in papers, lines of code and expensive looking pens. On my screen is yet more lines of the most complicated SQL he could ever have seen (he probably doesn’t even know what SQL is). How is he to know that I don’t know what I’m doing?

Ok, now for the more IT stuff….

I now know what it means to deal with other peoples code. Today’s task was to take a block of about 350 lines of SQL and fix two bugs in it. One being that the results weren’t ordered as they should have been, and the other being that some percentages went past 100.

Now the most SQL I have even tacked it about 30 lines, and that was quite bad enough. This however was written in India by a man who really didn’t know much about what he was doing (although annoyingly, enough to make people think he did). This man has since been sacked if that gives you an idea of the code. It was slow, inefficient, wrongly formatted and more insightful comments could have been written by deaf monkey in a darkened room with nothing more than litmus paper and a cows anus to write with.

The worst was to come. I spent about 2 hours on the servers picking my way through it, going through the 7 or so (unnecessary) temporary tables it created, reverse engineering it as best I could. It just didn’t make sense, I could not get the number to add up, I could not get thing to be recognised that should have been.

After a while I started to realise that there was something that was more than just wrong. I went of to my college who gave it to me and we poured over it for about 40mins.

We came to the conclusion that there was a lot more wrong with it than people had first thought. Not only did the things I mentioned above not work, but almost all the numbers were wrong.

Now for something to be used as a report, that’s not a good way to go about getting ahead of the competition.

I have now been given the task of rewriting it. We think it can be done in under 100 lines, not 350….

Ok, some of you will be somewhat surprised to head that I don’t live inside a computer> nor do I spend my who day sitting in front of one.

On Sunday I went to a little “party” for a charity I have been helping with since July 2004. They are called PAGEANT (Projects Aiding Gambian Education And Natural Talent). Now I normally help them by packing lots of heavy items into truck, lorries and even 40ft shipping containers. This was a party for one of the Gambian school headmasters who had been flown over and was attending all sorts of courses etc.

As this party I was surrounded by loads of supports of the charity, many of whom had been to the Gambia on trips etc.

I am now toying with the idea of joining their ranks by making a visit myself. You see I got on very well with this Gambian headmaster, he runs a scout troop out there so we instantly had something in common. I am considering making a trip next summer (nice and hot) so I have a week when the schools are still open s o I can visit a few of them, and then a further few weeks so I can go camping with their scout group as they go after school finishes.

The idea is very much in the “tentative” stage, but thoughts are gathering pace in my head. I think it would be a really excellent learning experience for me, and a good opportunity to teach a few Gambian scouts some new tricks.

The idea of going alone is a little bit much for me, but I have a few people in mind I’m thinking of suggesting it to to see if they what to join me.

Watch this space…….

(no, the other one)


Spinning around

Ok, so I have now been working in London for 4 days now. It was just this morning I found another way to adjust my chair. My chair is the coolest thing known to man (bar maybe the slinky). I can change just about anything on it. In fact, here is a list of the things I can change (note, I list both armrests because I have them set very differently):

Seat height
Seat angle (tip forward of back)
Seat back – lower back hardness
Seat back – maximum back angle
Seat back – how easily the back reclines (so speed it reclines at)
Left arm rest – height
Left arm rest – angle
Left arm rest – position to the side
Right arm rest – height
Right arm rest – angle
Right arm rest – position to the side

Obviously it has wheels and spins too.

I think I might swap it for one of the even nicer ones we have going spare actually.

Well, today I spent my time finishing off the flash based documentation/help screens I have been working on for a couple of days. It’s to support a web based application that goes live in a few weeks time. Next I move onto debugging some SQL I’m told. Something about some percentages going over 100….should be cool

I also spent some time dealing with my system account. I was setup on the wrong domain by mistake when I started (well, I did move departments, so I will let them off for that one). I put in to change domains and what they did was make me a new account on the correct domain (with all the access I need) and migrate my settings. It all went through today and worked for the most part. Only issue now is that because I had an external e-mail address when my new account was made, I now need to have that e-mail address relinquished by the old account and amended on my new account. So for the next few days I will only get internal e-mail, but I get quite enough of those as it is.

I have come to realise that e-mail is used for EVERYTHING. I have maybe had 70 e-mails in the last few days, and I’m not even in the directory yet! It turns out that the reason it is used so much is because all emails are logged for 7 years, so everything that is said or asked of people is logged. It’s a way of being more accurate than word of mouth. I can see the reasons why, but I don’t get why I have to do all the rules for my outlook configuration myself, why can’t they have a few default ones. I mean, is it really crucial that “the servers in Berlin will be down for Sunday next week” goes to the top of my main box and not some hidden place by default?

Anyway, enough of that.

I need a T-shirt that says “IT Service on call”. I seem to get phone calls and text messages at any time day or night asking for help with computers. I’m on my third this week already! I guess it has given me yet more ammo in my war against Belikn 54g routers…..

Oh, actually, to go back to the subject of work for a moment. I feel the need to boast about the fairly standard machine I’m using there as a developer. Its has a 2GHz Xeon processor (so dual core), 2GB of RAM and a Matrox card running a pair of very thin 19inch TFT’s. Installed it has almost anything I could want (all of the MS dev stuff, all of Macromedia and Adobe stuff too) and we are allowed to install what we like on them. So as soon as I have mine I will pop Firefox 1.0.7 on it. I say as soon “as I have mine” because I haven’t got one yet, but they have a spare, we just need to do the basic image first and then patch it up. I have been using the desk of one of those in Singapore at the moment for a new product roll out.

This world has its ups to go with all the downs I get. It nice to see a little justice for once.

Edit: Oh, and I just remembered something else I need to be saying…

My side hurts. It hurts rather a lot. It hurting is a tribute to how scared of spiders I am. I jumped up so quickly I pulled a muscle in my chest. Anyone who knows me well will know how fast I can move when near them, but this is just silly.


A different world

I think women should have big ears. One that stick out a fair bit, although quite thin still, not huge ones in all directions. The idea being they don’t have to constantly put their hair behind them because it keeps getting in their way. If they were larger (or even just a bit hooked) then it would stay behind them through the roughest of circumstances.

When I said women then I wasn’t actually 100% sure that was right, should I be saying girls. Hmm, actually, girls seems a big young and women seems a bit old (well, in my mind at least). I guess the interim is teenager, but that’s just odd. Why is it during the part of your life when you learn about/explorer sexuality is the one time you are not distinguished from the other. Strange.

Right, well today was my first day at Merrill Lynch and while I’m on firsts it was my first day in a “real” working environment. I feel as most of the people who read this are very much in the thrust of education (and holiday) I shall enlighten you on this deep dark world.

We in the IT industry think we use a lot of what we call TLA’s (Three Letter Acronym’s). We are correct, we do use a lot of them. What we don’t often realise is that the business word uses an awful lot of them too. Now in your head combine a business (think big) and IT (on a large scale). What you have left is a new language. I say language because it is beyond a code or even a dialect.

I think an example would be MLFC. This stands for Merrill Lynch Financial Centre. Now that’s very simple, its just a building. Now say it fast (something like EMMILLEFFSEE). What happens is it goes together to almost form some strange new word. Or an even more annoying one. FX mean for Foreign Exchange. Noe what happens when you say FX quickly, you get “effects”. So you might get “How are the current effects going”. That’s even worse than a new language, it’s buggering up the meanings off words we already know.

Ok, enough on that little rant, down to the day/cool stuff. My day started at 10am in London. This meant I was up at 6:50am here. I did this partly to get ready for Tuesday (tomorrow) when I have to come in at 9 and partly so I had time to wander around a bit before I started. I got up on the train dripping buckets of sweat (“nice warm day” would not being doing it justice) and had loads of time to walk to all the little stations round there and find the quick routes around. I then turned up at reception at 10am as instructed. Seems today was when a whole load of summer temp staff started because the queue for getting security passes took forever. I was waiting/being seen for about an hour and 20mins. Anyway, got that all done an dusted and went up to meet the rest of the team. After about half an hour of sorting out logins and chatting we all went down the pub for about an hour and a half. I’m told this is not how the normal working day goes, but I can dream. We chatted and just generally socialised over a few drinks (on the company card) before I was shifted onwards. You see, there is a change of plan, I’m not going to that department, I’m going to work at its sister department about 15mins walk down the road because they are short of staff. I’ve been told I’m being thrown in at the deep end, so that should be interesting.

Ok, the cool stuff about working in offices (well, this one). For one thing I look important as hell, and that always has to rate highly on the coolness meter. Next is a matter of coolness very close to my heart, air conditioning. This stuff (especially today) is a God send. Its single disadvantage is when you exit the building. You get hit by this wall of warm air and it’s nasty. Another very cool thing about where I work is us developers get dual 19inch TFT monitors with amazingly cool thin bezels and fun stands. Oh, and the chairs, they just rock, they must be like £300 each. It has the best part of 10 different things you can change, even the way the arm rest points!

Ok, I need to stop with the “school kid excitement” style entry, but trust me, they were cool.

The hours are exceptionally flexible and the environment is very relaxed. Its more, “You do your work to the standard we set and we don’t care after that” sort. Also, what you wear depends on how long you have been there, hence a manager of 20years service is in shorts and t-shit…in an office!

Ok, things that are not cool.

I am have been told that someone was fired for dropping a few tables by accident on the live system. Apparently they weren’t even very important tables but it caused about 30 people not to be able to do any work for a day, and that costs more than that persons salary. Myself I haven’t even added the Live environment database servers to my SQL sever list.

Another not co cool thing is the travelling. It could be worse, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it as it is. It’s an hour each way and it’s a very busy route. I didn’t sit for the journey up much really.

Hmm, I can’t think of that many bad things, well that’s a good start. I’m sure more will make themselves known in time though.


Time has come

The problem with blogs (or journals) is that they are at their most interesting when you have something to say. When you have something to say you are normally doing something to give you cause. That something is normally making you busy hence you have no time to write about it.

Now we have the situation which is no end of trouble. It leads to shit, boring entries that go nowhere. I should have something to say but the moment I started to write this my mind went blank of all the things I have done recently that are journal worthy.

In recent weeks I have been tidying up loose ends and preparing myself for my new placement at Merrill Lynch.

This has meant more than just buying a few clothes, this has meant doing all the things that I wanted to get done soon now as I don’t know how much free time I shall have.

The first of these is the geeky one so I shall get it out of the way first.

I upgraded and reinstalled my computer. This meant going up to 2GB of RAM and 820GB of disk space (although only 520 can be used due to RAID). For this I had help from my glamour’s assistant. The task was simple. Make backups, wipe disk, add RAM and disks, partition disks, install Windows, install Fedora, put data back. Was it that simple? Was it hell…..

I’m not going to go into details but I had trouble with RAM, SATA drivers, audio connectors, boot loaders, pretty much the works. I installed XP maybe 8 times in 3 days.

I can report that it is mostly working and is now at the stage many of my projects stay at. It mostly done, just a few little odd bits here and there to sort out then I’m done. So I think we can call this the “1 year install” then, because I will just never find the time to finish it.

Ok, non computer people can start reading again now.

Of course one of the things that goes with starting a full time job is that you have to give up any part-time ones. For me this meant I had to stop working at the primary school where I’m their “technician”. As such I have done maybe 800% the hours I would normally do this week to leave their system in a state where it can manage until the end of term. My replacement doesn’t start until September.

I have finally sorted the school laptops (second hand) into good and bad piles. So the bad pile got ripped apart for spares to eek out the lives of the good pile. For this reason this photo exists.

On the Wednesday of this week I went shopping up in London with my friend George (sorry, no image for him online yet). I spent the grand total of £300 on 7 shirts, 5 ties, 2 pairs of trousers and a pair of cufflinks. I do at least feel like it was money well spent as it brings my wardrobe up to more the standard of my future colleges.

This rather neatly bring me onto tomorrow. Tomorrow (well, fast approaching today) is the big day on which I start. I have to be there at 10am which is a nice realistic number for their part, but it still means getting up at a time I have deemed only useful for emails, news and eating



Note to all joggers: If I walk passed you, it’s time to stop and go back inside.
Note to all cats: making yourself look 4 inches taller doesn’t scare me.
Note to the girl who just asked me if I wanted a burger: no, not if you cooked them dear.
Note to self: go to the toilet before the 3 hour exam.

Ok, rather momentous day. I have finally finished my exams, and with that my second year of my degree. As is always the case, I had the worst exam saved up until last. Oh how I looked forward to Systems analysis and design…..like hell.

That said, it actually wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I had convinced myself it was going to be, so things went as well as they could. Man I love making points in my blogs that mean nothing and help no-one.

I think a fair amount of my concern stemmed from a note written on (and well worn into) one of my exam tables during my databases exam. It read “I failed Systems analysis and design here 24/04/93”. And who says exams get easier over time….

In the general panic stricken revision sessions a group of us have been “putting on” prior to exams we managed a fair amount of revision, but we also came up with some good ideas. We thought about exam orientated t-shirt slogans. For example, for the marketing exam a t-shirt with a “porters 5 forces diagram” on it….what are they going to do…tell us to take it off 😛 (well, actually make us not sit the exam, so don’t point out my flawed logic).

My suggestion for today was one that read “I’m going to fail this exam” on the front, and then on the back “but I’m going to take you with me”. It strikes me as the suicide bomber special now that I think about it.

Now that I have nothing to do for a few weeks before I start at Merrill Lynch, I hope to be able to make a few more entries. I won’t, but I hope to and that’s what counts.