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Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Balls Please...

Thursday and what needs to get done?  

The car is still at Mickey's (he's not a mouse for those of you wondering) awaiting a brake calliper. Experience tells me it may be there for the weekend as this particular type of calliper is manufactured by the same people that make hen's teeth and rocking horse sh!t, but as we've recently learned - whatever (or 'It is what it is' if you're not into the whole brevity thing) As much as it's in theory a hindrance not to have the car at my beck and call, it's also very enlightening. The weather is warm so Mrs G doesn't object to cycling to work and of course it is good for her. 

On the work front, Pooh and I are nearing the end of the heavy phase of our adventure with the baseball player (see: This book, not that it will clarify anything for most of you). This means we have time to reflect you would think, but not a bit of it. There's another piece of work involving tennis that urgently needs attention and I'm allegedly the man to attend to it. 


The_legend_of_the_curse_of_the_bambino
It's a piece that has to be priced, approved and with the customer in 5 working days, and that is the first problem. Ironically it's being led not by anyone in the UK or US but by a bunch of cowboys for whom the word 'communication' doesn't have a passport, so there's our second problem. The third problem is that everything that is known about the story so far is held in the head of a person who is off sick and a database that I don't currently have access to. 

That's about the size of it. I'm squarely in the frame for the unachievable. To quote Detective Inspector Derek Grim of Gasforth Police station "My arse is on the line and I don't want a cock up!"

I may exaggerate slightly. After all, we're all aware that "You can only do what you can with information available" and "Whatever" (see above re: brevity). Ultimately I know I'll have support from the other members of my team should it be required - if only the cowboys would stop with the re-fried beans and get on with the cattle rustling. 

An early morning call with our antipodean cousins confirms all this frustration. All is not well, but "we are where we are" :-)

Next job is a haircut, so with no car that means 10 minutes on the bike to get it sorted. Normally this would be 20 minutes in and trim and out, but I hadn't taken into account the lazy, slovenly, over-holidaying teachers who are up in arms because their loosing some of their pensions. I'm sympathetic to most cases of the little guy being screwed over by "the man" but not this time. Public sector: Welcome to my world. I had this pain last year and no-one in public service gave a flying-fig. I think there was a question in parliament that got generally ignored so why should I care now you're suffering the same fate?  In fact I celebrate the fact that we're all on a more even keel (apart from the stinking rich who are far to busy not paying taxes to be interested).

Dwtsot
To return to my point. I'm now sat in the barbers waiting room with half a dozen screaming kids who aren't getting the education this country so badly needs them to get so that we can increase our lead in innovation and invention which will fix our economic issues such that we wont need to cut pensions in the future. As it is, the teachers are helping us breed a bunch of kids who's lack of qualifications will make them perfect to work in manufacturing, just not in this country - more likely here: http://www.shanghai-tennis.com/

Tb
In summary, I suspect the future of teaching in this country is heading in a similar direction to the miners and the steelworkers, so at some point we'll have outsourced edu-macation to foreign climes as well. In the mean time, you might like to encourage your uneducated kids to learn chinese while you still can.
Back home post hair cut and cycling (chinese manufactured bike, by the way) and I see from the email on my (chinese manufactured) laptop that chief sh!tting bull is no nearer answering any question of import and that I am basically faced with a crock of cack to try and fix.  My predecessor to this job, as it transpires, has done a sterling job up to now, but the current demands are unreasonable.  God knows what CSB has been smoking in that peace pipe.
This is a scary moment for me, being the first deal of any size that I'm sort-of running on my own....   It's OK.  This year has taught me to embrace fear, laugh in the face of adversity and tweak the nose of death. In short, I have new balls thankyou. Might need new trousers (preferably not from China) at the moment though. ;-)


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

For Pooh... Part 2

Dilbert.com

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I just love whiteboards....

They're remarkable.

Sorry.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

For Pooh...

Dilbert.com

BTW: It seems the dropped call thing happens to iPhones in the US. (Must be an AT&T thing)



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, June 27, 2011

Stuff wot I was teached and dun...

Finally, Pooh and I have turned a corner (there may of been a house on it) and from here on in, setting aside the constant drip of workload that will still exist, it should be bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.

At some point there will be a session of "Lessons Learned" where we'll have the opportunity to record for posterity some of the interesting things that have happened to us along our journey. Our adventures have been many and varied with all sorts of twists and turns and ditches and hedgerows and brooks and briers and even the odd coppice on the edge of the 100 acre wood. Pooh got to see the O-shun from a very great hight. I'm told the O-shun is like the widest part of the stream but much much wider. Pooh's great adventure above it meant he was far higher than he ever reached while dangling from a balloon. I counted a lot of beans... Not just some, but a lot. It's been eventful.
Reading_to_pooh
With all this in mind I've decided to note down a few of our more enigmatic learnings whilst on our big adventure for Ee-ore to read, once Owl has taught him how. Here they are in no particular order....
"What Pooh Said" "Tigger told me to say that"
"If you turn the telescope around, the Nelifunt looks like a small squirrel"
"It is what it is" "We are where we are"
"Apart from the chocolates, the bier, the mannequin de pis, the Atomium and the homeland of Hercule Poirot, what have the Belgians ever done for us?"
"I must just go out to the garage to collect some 'equipment' "
"Are we on a hiding to nothing up a blind alley chasing wild geese?"
"Give us a stroke of your lucky po-tay-toe"
Special thanks should go to the wheel brothers, Alloys and Wooden, for turning around so quickly.
...enough... those lessons are really only any good for a very small minority audience. And when I say small, I mean under 5'5" ;-)

In other news... The weekend came and went in a long, sultry, hot and sweaty sort of way, and very nice it was to. Let's just rewind to Thursday, which was the last day anything appeared here.

Thursday night was a game of twilight golf - 15quid for 18 holes, but that does mean you have to get a shift on to get all 18 in before you loose the daylight. Four of us tried (Sniffer, Stan, Bampy & me), and we failed, due mostly to the fact that we couldn't start until gone 5.30 because we all have jobs that require attention, but we did manage a good 12, or near enough and then a quick bite to eat and a couple of beers to wash it down in a local hostelry. All of which meant it was a Thursday that felt like a Saturday.
Twilight_golf
Friday was as Friday does - but I did spend part of the wet and damp evening deliberately not watching U2 at Glastonbury on the telly, because as much as I have enjoyed their music in the past, I'm a bit fed of them to tell the truth. That said, Coldplay, on Saturday, which I did see, were awesome. Satur-DAY involved cycling to the city, helping Son locate he best Pound to Euro exchange rate, ordering a new window blind and giggling and pointing at daughter in her "Where's Wally" outfit for her fancy dress night out. Fun times.

Then finally on Sunday it was wall-to-wall summertime with heat and sunshine like we haven't had since April. (I know!! April... What was all that about?). Sunday's heat was far more intense than April's though. So much so, that Mrs G managed to pop the heat detection system on her iPhone. Not sure it's made a full recovery yet, so be warned. Don't leave them sitting in direct sunlight for more than 10 minutes...
Hot
And what do you need on the hottest day of the year? A slap up roast beef dinner. It was well worth the sweating and toiling, although my gravy making skills need practice, and my usually perfect roasters, weren't quite right. Ah well... next time.

So here we are again at a Monday. And what does the week have in store?? It appears that the car has to have an MOT and as part of that job I usually get it serviced to, so the first job once 9am rolls around will be to call Mickey to see when he can do it. No, stupidly, I looked at the paperwork proper on Saturday, and have discovered it needs to be completed by Wednesday, This might present me with a problem or two, but let's see what happens.

I pray for the day that manufactures make vehicles so reliable that the MOT becomes obsolete. It does my nut in. Not least because it's a legal requirement that doesn't have auto-reminding documentation unlike insurance and road tax, both of which badger you plenty of time in advance of their deadlines. I've lost count of the number of times I've gone.. "hmmm, I'm sure the car MOT must be due soon?? Oh tomorrow??? really??? Oh bugger!". I realise that I should just be more organised and write it in a diary or an automatic email notification, but there it is. For some mental-block reason, I don't....

Tuesday should be a trip to the Starfleet offices (MOT dependant). I dare not try and look any further into the future than that. I might see something I like.
Have fun.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Helga and Section J

You might recall that in an earlier post I described the layout of Golfy's Office and how it's cunningly disgused as a roundabout when it is, in point of fact a hollowed out volcano.

Those of you that read the details will also be aware it's policed by a crack team of rabbits (sometimes flabbits) known as Section B (Bunnies). Those that have visited the base will also have encountered Helga and the team of Section J.

Now, this is a tip top secret undercover lair-cum-base that no-one but no-one is aware of.  It's existence is consistently denied by all in a position to do so, and it appears as a completely non-descript roundabout even on Google maps!

See here:

View Larger Map

The volcano is long extinct and as it's so small (on the surface) attracts little or no attention from geologists. We did have a couple try to have a nose around a few years ago.  They make fine statues in the throne room since they've been frozen in carbonite. Most fitting for geology students I thought.
To all intents and purposes and to the outsider looking in - it is nothing more than a bland roundabout with a couple of rabbits on it.  Nothing to see here. Move along please....

So, you can imagine my disappointment when I hear from Number 3 that Helga has a new sideline going.  It turns out that she and the other members of Section J (Juicy) have started making and selling orange juice using my old schmelting verks!! Such treachory is unknown......

but I might let it pass....


I mean really!? What's an evil egotist to do with his plans for world domination when faced with such tasty beverages.

This post originally appeared here.

Herding Cats...

It never fails to disturb me at just how accurate Dilbert can be...


Dilbert.com

This post originally appeared here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dog Day Afternoon

It seems I've done a great job of failing to write anything at all on here since Wednesday. As tomorrow is Monday (again) that's pretty damn poor on my part and I can only but appologise to you dear reader.

The reason is simple.  Haven't had spare brain cycles to even think about it - let alone do it.  Even with the weekend here, it's just been non-stop and itisstill quite a shock to me that monday is literally 30 minutes away.

So Badman and I have been really hard at it. In point of fact, I'm not sure I can rememebr the last time I worked as hard as I have this year. But it's been strangely satisfying and while it's not over, it's changing tack and I find myself still looking forward to whatever the next challenge we have will be.  We've sent a package to our cousins in the New World which they seem to be broadly pleased with. We have some more europeans to satisfy in a final round of "Is this alright then, or what?" which will be taking place on Tuesday and then it's all down to the New World and no doubt yet more european agreement - which seems to be the thing that we have to collect most often.

While all that's been going on, back in the real world Mrs G and I took a trip down to sunny Wiltshire to visit with Mr Ball senior and wish him a happy father's day.  No sign of sister ball, so I'll be trying to track her down this week, but granny ball - "Oh I'm fine!  I have to be.  I don't have much choice!" was in fine form, as was auntie M ball.

Cloudy

We journeyed with the in-laws, both of whom were also in high spirits which was most enjoyable after the last 6 months. W's treatment has finished and he seems to be recovering well and of course with next week being Wimbledon, Mrs G senior is in her element. Such a major fan, that Mrs G swears that she and her sister used to go unfed in their youth for two weeks every summer.

The Senior ball's were also looking after "Mutley" (a close friends dog) who really is a lovely hound. Sadly Mrs G isn't a doggy person - we are a cat houshold - and to be fair dogs are far more of a tie than cats are, but when you spend time with a dog like Mutley, it's hard not to think it would be nice to have a fella like that around.

Mutley

I had a Bassett Hound in my younger days, and I still miss him. But then Barney and Boo keep us busy enough, and if I can't get my schedule organised well enough to write in my blog, I could hardly be trusted with a dog.

Having said that, daughter is house and dog sitting for Auntie S - and I think she's angling for a hound to join the cats....

It'll never happen.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Too much...

...coffee and brain function, not enough switching off and relaxing results in screwed up sleep pattern. Screwed up sleep pattern will in theory result in poor performance just when high performance is needed most....

Something may be wrong with this business model.

Sleepgraph

Having said that, I'm an unusual individual in that I often perform well when you wouldn't necessarily expect it. On this occasion I am pretty knackered though - so let's see what happens. Wish me luck. Once more into the breach dear friends, once more.... Oh, and stay away from the caffeine today I think.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Longest Day

Longesthelm
What a great movie that was. The last great WWII movie until Saving Private Ryan some say. It features some of hollywood's (and Ealing's) biggest names as well, with the likes of John Wayne, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda, Roddy McDowall, Robert Mitchum, Kenneth Moore, Leslie Philips, George Seagal, Rod Steiger, Richard Todd, Robert Wagner and not forgetting Sean Connery.

It tells the story of the D-Day landings and the allies re-taking mainland europe from the Germans at the end of the second world war. It's extremeley ambitious and an all round great piece of work. If you like a classic war movie, and if you've got a wet Sunday afternoon to spare - I can't think of many better ways of spending it, than watching this.  But that's not the reason for this post's title.

Longest_day
The 21st of June is the summer soltice, or the Longest Day of the year.  In London, sunrise will be around 4.42am and sunset around 9.20pm. It says here:
On this day, the earth's "circle of illumination" will be from the Arctic Circle on the far side of the earth (in relation to the sun) to the Antarctic Circle on the near side of the earth. The equator receives twelve hours of daylight, there's 24 hours of daylight at the North Pole and areas north of 66°30' N, and there's 24 hours of darkness at the South Pole and areas south of 66°30' S.
June 20-21 is start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere but simultaneously the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. It's also the longest day of sunlight for places in the Northern Hemisphere and the shortest day for cities south of the equator.
However, June 20-21 is not the day when the sun rises earliest in the morning nor when it sets latest at night. The date of earliest sunrise or sunset varies from location to location.
All very interesting is a geographical and physicistical sort of way, but again this is not the reason for this post's title.

So, to put you out of your misery... well, at least to get to the point via a round about sort of educational mess....   The longest day in this context is referring to the work that the Winnie (the badman) and I have been putting in over the last few days.  Neither of us have had what you might consider a day off in the usual sense of the word and infact we both have been working some extraordeinary hours in the pursuit of completion of the task we have at hand.

On Friday we made what we both felt was significant progress by getting the monster approved for european consumption. No mean feat when you consider the trouble the EU have been having with cucumbers of late, let alone the sort of fare that we're peddaling. Sadly though, this is no time to be sitting back on our laurels of achievement and eating peeled grapes. Far from it.  There is still much to do.

We need our cousins from the New World to agree to our terms, we need to scrub and polish and shine our product, we need to try out some, what-if, what-buts and what-wherefors, as well as some this, that and the others. And then, after all that's done (assuming it can be done of course), we'll have to go round all our European friends again and collect their autographs.

But before any of that - our most pressing problem is a gap.  It's a rather large gap too.  It's not the sort of gap that Winnie and I might have created by not bolting somethig together properly. It's more the sort of gap you might get between say England and Australia....   well, perhaps England and Belgium might be nearer the (deutsch-)mark / Euro / Pound / Dollar etc etc....

Whatever happens, it's going to be yet another long, long day....


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sleep statistics for Monday

Went to bed / woke up: 23:00 / 06:20
Total time: 7h 20m. Basically, what feels like not enough.

This analysis was made by the fascinating Sleep Cycle iPhone app. I'm not sure being well informed about my poor sleep pattern will make me a better sleeper but it does make me well informed about my tiredness.

Here's my sleep graph for the entire night:
Sleepgraph

A sad state of affairs... But there it is. Up and at 'em and on the road to a Starfleet office again.   Those of you wondering why it's been so quiet here of late, rest assured all will be revealed in good time. Busy busy busy...


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Sunday, June 05, 2011

iOS Apps

I only have two things to say on the subject of current work at Starfleet....
Firstly this:
Dilbert.com
And secondly, this:
"When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it."
Now, to more geekery.
Tomorrow (Monday) is WWDC day!! WooHoo!  Rumour has it, we're going to hear about iOS5, OSX Lion, iCloud and all sorts of other fun stuff.
Recently I was asked for a list of iPhone apps by a friend of mine for his newly acquired gadget. Whats good and has longevity? At least, that was the question I answered, even if wasn't quite worded that way. In the end, the list is actually quite useful, so here for you delectation(and with apologies in advance to the non apple fans) is Golfy's list of really quite good apps for the iPhone (and an additional few for the iPad)... Enjoy...
Base Apps
This is the stuff that currently lives on my home screen and gets all the usage. That space is some very valuable real-estate..
BBC News
News stories by geographical region.
News by category including business, technology, entertainment and sport.
News in other languages including Spanish, Russian and Arabic Video including one minute news summaries to keep you informed on the go.
You can also personalise the app to suit your interests and download content for offline browsing
Bbcnews
TomTom
TomTom’s patented mapping and routing intelligence is at the core of the TomTom App. TomTom is known the world over for the accuracy and extensive coverage of its maps. TomTom maps have been rated highest in terms of quality and reliability. No mobile signal or data plan is required to browse your map and navigate to your destination. And, only TomTom offers IQ Routes, which evaluates routes based on actual traffic speeds rather than posted speed limits, and recommends the fastest route based on the time of the day.

Tomtom
TV Guide
TVguide.co.uk, the UK’s number one TV listings website, brings you a FREE smart and sexy application that allows you to see what’s on now and next, at one glance. If you prefer, there’s also the option of a full day’s listings on one screen. Check out programmes for all channels on Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media and Freesat. Not only that, TVGuide.co.uk comes with its own special features, including alerts, catch-up and options to share your favourites TV shows with friends

Tvguide
Wikipanion (although to be fair, I pretty much just Google for wiki entries now).
Accessing Wikipedia has never been faster and easier than with Wikipanion, designed for easy, search, navigation and display of Wikipedia entries. Streamline your browsing with history grouped by visit date, and bookmarking that not only bookmarks individual entries, but individual sections within an entry.

Wikipanion
Tweetbot
Tweetbot is a full-featured iPhone (and iPod touch) Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it’s the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds & animation, or features like multiple timelines & smart gestures, there’s a lot to love about Tweetbot.

Tweetbot
Instagram
3.75 Million users love Instagram! It's a free, fun, and simple way to make and share gorgeous photos on your iPhone. Pick from one of several gorgeous filtered effects or tilt-shift blur to breathe a new life into your mobile photos. Transform everyday moments into works of art you'll want to share with friends and family. Share your photos in a simple photo stream with friends to see - and follow your friends' photos with the click of a single button. Every day you open up Instagram, you'll see new photos from your closest friends, and creative people from around the world.

Instagram
The Best of the Rest.....
Blogging BlogPress, Posterous, Pages
Checkin Foursquare, Gowalla
News Sky News, NewsRack
Weather Outside, Met Office
TV&Movies TVCatchup URL: http://www.tvcatchup.com, BBC iPlayer, IMDb Flixster
Music Shazam, TuneIn Radio, Last.fm
Sport Sky Sports News, Sky Sports Football, PremRugby, ECB Cricket, Racing Post, Golfshot GPS
Shopping Shopper, VoucherCloud, Tesco Finder, eBay, Groupon
Travel MiPermit, PetrolPrices, TravelNews, London Tube, thetrainline, Priority Club, Trip Advisor
Phone Skype, Yell.com
Photo iMovie, PS Express, Diptic, Flickr, Photo synth, PhotoSync
Money Natwest, PayPal, Numbers
GPS Tools AroundMe, Glympse, Latitude
Books Kindle, iBooks
Geekery BTFon, WiFi Track, Speed Test, VNC, i-nigma, LinkedIn
and finally for MobileMe users - who are about to join the iCloud (allegedly)....
Apple Geekery iDisk Gallery Remote Find iPhone


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Curiouser and curiouser

Odd sort of day today.  I seem to be developing some sort of late 19th century childern's author theme in here...  if it's not A.A.Milne it's J.M.Barrie or C.L.Dodgson (Lewis Carroll by any other name), but it all makes sense somewhere...

Books

First of all, Winnie (The Badman) and Me had planned on having a bit of a picnic at a local Starfleet office. A couple of the woodland folk would be there and we need to deal with two main tasks (although in truth there are about 40 tasks that need fixing). I digress.

These two tasks are in the form of planning for next week - which is only a couple of days away already and writing. Specifically writing "Document of Understanding" which is a very grand way of saying "List of demands". Things along the lines of "We'll do this, but if we need some stuff to do it, that you haven't told us about, then you'll have to pay for said stuff" and so and so forth. It's all very entertaining in a non-entertaining way.

The other thing we were going for - apart from moral support for eachother in our hour of need - is to wave a fond farewell to Al. Al has been inspirational in a very unasuming sort of way, and he's been hereabouts for a good number of years. So many years in fact, that he's decided the time has come* to pack it all up as a bad job and go and live his life rather than work it.  Good call if you ask me, and I'm sure we all wish we could do the same.

Still, like the best laid plans of mice and men, all of that's gone to pot.  Turns out that there's been a turn of events at the office that have rendered it closed to all but the essential woodlanders, and me and Pooh are apparently not that.  I'm not slightly bothered about not being there to do the planning and writing - we can do that from pretty much anywhere. I am however, most upset about not being able to thank Al for the influence he's had on me in the last 6-8 months.  I'm acutely aware that I owe him a debt, and I hope I get to thank him properly in-person in the future.

In the end, what had started off as a rough day with a sad but delightful lunch break just turned into a very rough day with a constant battering of conference calls interjected with requests for help with this, that and the other, as well as who's, why's, what's and wherefors...  Fun times.


*
"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Horrible Hairy Hardships

It's getting rough now.  Me and Pooh have been expecting it, but it's always worse than you think it's going to be.

We have compressed timelines, which create stressed out employees trying to make things happen in a very short space of time.

We also have far less information that we'd like at this stage which also creates stressed out employees who aren't certain of the thing that they're trying to make happen in a very short space of time.

Furthermore we have lots of people that need to agree and approve the work that the other woodland creatures and myself and Pooh are putting forward. This leads to (surprise surprise) stressed out employees who are trying to pursuade their leaders to trust and believe in the thing they're not certain of, but are trying to make happen in a very short space of time.

Finally we have people working on this from all four (really only four??) corners of the globe and probably all seven of the seas, so we end up working all the hours that are physically available in a day just so that we can fully understand what we're doing and then try and pursuade our leaders to trust and believe in the thing that we're not certain of, but are trying to make happen in a very short space of time.

Needless to say, as two small stuffed animals, we're taking a pasting.  But we have a theory that actually what we're paid for - is to take a pasting, and the rest of it is just window dressing.

Hardship

We live in a very very strange wibbly wobbly world, that has long days and short nights. Here we go then... Second star to the right, and straight on till morning.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
 

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