Archives for category: Starfleet

I know I’ve used that title in the past, but it was then because daughter was off on a trip around Asia.  This time however, it’s quiet because there’s just not a huge amount of work for me to be doing. It’s starting to become a little frustrating. 

 

It’s fair enough that I’ve just come back from a week’s holiday, and so there’s a pile of email to work through. But once you’ve done that, then what?  Well in my case – not a lot. Pooh’s got a couple of jobs on and he needed some help making up the numbers (which as we all know is what I’m here for) so that’s been some blessed relief from the tedium that is online education. He’s also having to round up the Indians which is a perilous job especially if youre on the run for robbing trains and banks and the guy in the white hat is following you…

 

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“They can’t track us over rock. They’re begining to get on my nerves. Who are those guys?”

 

I shouldn’t complain – because when it’s busy, it’s very very busy, so some natural downtime is something to be grateful for – but there’s only so much a chap can take. On top of which it starts my paranoia monkey fidgeting. I start imagining that IM is cleverer than I know him not to be and that he’s actually scheming the downfall of the house of ball. It’s ridiculous.  I’ve thrown another banana in the cage to keep him (the monkey – not IM, although from a distance you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart) quiet, but for how long, who knows?

 

At least I have something kicking off towardds the end of the week… providing cover for someone who’s providing cover. They must be desperate (who rattled that Monkey’s cage?)

 

On the social front, it’s ben a non-stop round of spending money I haven’t got – and it’s not scheduled to end anytime soon. There’s a wedding next week and a wedding anniversary in a couple of days time which is bound to be fun. Wool. I thought I might get her a jumper πŸ˜‰ Only kidding Mrs G. Perhaps a sheep?? Oh no. I’ve got it.  A slap up lamb dinner and a lovely bottle of red. Perfect.

 

Looking at the tech news there’s been rather a lot of disruption lately.  It seems everyone’s being hacked, passwords are going astray, software rollouts are failing causing the banks some frustration and the mobile phone networks are just switching themselves off.  If I were a conspiracy theorist I’d say the government are very busy hooking into every system they can get near via their crack hacking team – known as “anonymous”.  Of course, I’m not a conspiracy theorist or paranoid (oo oo eek eek), so I’m quite sure they’re far too busy watching my every move and logging it into a database somewhere to be involved in any of that other stuff.

 

We’re also a matter of days away from Apple releasing the next version of OS X (Mountain Lion). Rumor has it somewhere around the 25th July – a Wednesday, much like today.

 

Before that we have “The Dark Knight Rises” hitting UK cinemas on Friday. There’s every chance I’m going to try and see that on the big screen, but it’s all about time and money and all that jazz. Just as a quick aside on the subject of films…  I’ve recently seen The Woman in Black, The Iron Lady, The Thing and The Awakening all of which were far better than I’d anticipated. 

 

If I were to criticize one of them in particular it would be “The Thing”. The DVD extras include the bits they cut out of the cinema release – and that edit is a travesty IMHO. The missing scenes are the ones that put the film in context with the earlier John Carpenter version – which is a masterpiece of horror. Without them, the newer film, while looking the part just feels like a bit of a poor remake, which is clearly not it’s intention.

 

Back to the tech then and the latest iOS app not to reach our shores just yet is “Twist” – a genius idea that means you won’t have to hang around for your friends or relatives anymore. Live ETA’s…  Here’s the video:

 

 

And finally – on the subject of video… (and not really on the subject of Tech, from which we seem to have strayed)  I’m sure you’re as sick of this song as I am, but you can never be sick of Star Wars.   Enjoy….

 

 

Until next time – The force will be with you, always.

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday nights are (as the regular readers know) reserved for the Wednesday/Thursday Club – or WTC for short – which is basically a bunch of like minded individuals who go to the pub and relieve themselves of the pressure of the working week by bitching about it and generally putting the world back into perspective. 

Last Thursday’s WTC almost co-insided with one of our numbers birthday – namely Stan – who isn’t actually called Stan – but then that’s the whole point of nicknames. 

Sadly, the horrendous planning that’s been happening of late has meant that I’ve had to get in the car and attempt to drive through the snow to my not-so-local office for the day on Friday. This means that I had to scale back my participation a little to account for an early start – ie: I had an (almost) early finish and a sensible amount of alcohol. 

That said, there was still plenty of frivolity, some banging Ska music – exactly how Stan likes it – and truth be told, how everyone likes it once it gets going.

He was also, the lucky recipient of the WTC Birthday Present, which has to be the most awful smelling aftershave you could ever hope not to sniff.

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….and that was almost a week ago…  And then it was Friday and as I’ve eluded I had to take a trip up to my not-very-close office to have a handover from the Badman who is off galavanting around Wales (if such a thing is possible in Wales). 

The job is a very similar shape to one that he and I completed last year and so should be relatively straight forward.  However – I’d somehow forgotten just how stressful it is to not be fully in control of the destiny of those that work for you on a job like this.  We’ve reached Thursday afternoon now and I’ve got throughmost of the pain relatively unscathed.  I’ve spent some time explaining to Clive what’s going on – nothing he didn’t already know, but then he has to have a reason to be here.

As a team, we’ve had to deal with two changes that have effected more of the work than had been anticiapted. No matter how hard I might try to get things in a reasonable shape for the end of the week, you can almsot guarantee that some numpty somewhere is waiting behind a photocopier or desk, to jump out and stick thier proverbial cat amongst the pidgeons at the last minute.

I’ve also been reminded how obnoxious the rest of Europe can be – I’m amazed that I’d forgotten, but I can only surmise that it must be akin to the memories of people that are involved in very serious accidents, and that thankfully have no recollection of them whatsoever. I too have no recolection of ever having to deal with the people of Luxembourg….  it was that painful.

On top of that there’s the commercial aspects of a job like this – and that is almost entirely about who is going to get paid for doing what – or not.  Extremely frustrating. But we carry on rewardless. It’s enough to leave you scarred for life….   See What I did there ?  ;-D


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
Monday…. Again! I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s a constant that regularly shows up just after Sunday and before Tuesday. It’s also annoying because it interrupts the flow of the weekends – that beautiful time when work isn’t entirely your master.

However, this Monday is providing some new-ish ground for me. I find myself sat on the London bound train scooting off to a Starfleet office based in the big city. Regular readers will know this isn’t the first time – but I haven’t been there since February this year. You’ll also know that I’ve been summoned to receive “executive help” on, what should be called “the unwinable bid”. The new ground for me, is meeting the aforementioned executives.

Now the thing about executives is thier title. I imagine it comes from “ex” as in “no longer” or “previous” and “ecutive” meaning “able to think like a rational human being”*. More often than not, when they aren’t thinking about work related subjects, some of them are quite normal, sane and easy going people. Ultimately – and this is the key – they are just people. They could just as easily be sat outside a station playing a guitar as they could be sat behind a desk barking. Once you get “past the title” (and if my definition is correct, that’s no biggy) then they’re pussy cats.

I put in some hard working hours over the weekend, though not a stupid amount because frankly this particular piece is a damp squib, dead duck and a lame horse all rolled into one. If it were a house, you’d knock it down. If it were a ship, you’d call it Titanic. If it was a bid you’d no-bid it…. But let’s see what the “previously able to think like rational humans” make of it first.

I’m doing them a dis-service and for that I appologise. But as a Brit and as an employee we all moan about our senior members of an organisation. It’s in our DNA.

In the meantime; the train. In previous episodes I’ve shared some of the excellent conversations that have been overheard but so far this morning – almost utter silence. Very disappointing. I thought that perhaps as we near the big L and a few more commuters appear there might be a titbit to enjoy, but alas no.

In fact the train is more empty than I’ve ever seen it before. You’d think it was a bank holiday, but I’m guessing that the half term brigade are still at home to recover form the joy of spending time in the company of their little ones.

As for listening in to the few passengers that are aboard, little did I realise that it’s more likely to be MY conversations being overheard for a change. Almost 8.30am, pulling into Swindon and I’ve already taken two calls from “Kanga” to whom the words ‘arse’ and ‘elbow’ appear to be exactly the same.

It’s going to be a very very very long day. Even longer than that. I have but three rays of sunshine in it.

The first is the science of time. To all those people who say “you’ll get through it” you should by now have realised that unless you drop dead in the middle of whatever “it” is, that it is impossible to do anything but get through it. This is because that no matter what the situation, time passes and this time tomorrow will be another day. Getting through it is the easy bit. Not kicking the bucket, that takes effort.

The second is a beer with Jack. Hopefully, once we’ve got through it, he and I will find a boozer for a quick pint before catching our respective trains home.

And the third… Well that’s obvious. Walking in through my own front door to the smiling faces of Mrs G and Daughter, neither of whom are executives** and thank heavens for that.

Finally – just before disembarkation this snippet: “Hello? Where we’re they? She OK? I’ll catch you later.”

Bugger that’s boring. Time to alight and scurry down the rabbit hole into god knows what.

Adieu.
——–
An update. Actually the executives in question were far from the ogres I’d been lead to believe they might have been. In fact they were both sane and very helpful in digging around and finding a direction for us to go in. Of course, it’s only Monday and if we can’t live up to the expectation they’ve set I might have an entirely different opinion, but for now – I take it all back and am counting my blessings to be part of a pragmatic and forward thinking bunch.

Time will be our tutor.

*This definition may not be 100% accurate – but it does kind of fit.
** The flip side to this is that by definition they are therefore still more than able of thinking like rational human beings, which naturally will mean I’m in trouble for not doing something that’s on a list that I haven’t seen but should have completed a week ago – probably. πŸ˜‰


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Holy crud! (as we used to say back in the village) what an arse of a week that’s been, and it’s not over yet.

Actually, now I think about it, there’s probably a whole blogpost about “what we used to say back in the village”, but we’ll have that on another day. Today being a Saturday should be a chance to relax and recharge somewhat, in preparation for another week of hell from Monday – but alas – not a bit of it.

Sadly the work that Pooh and I have been battling with is now getting some “help” from some members of the “executive” team and as we all know this will require treading very carefully through the minefield of the executive view of the 100 acre wood. Help is something that is always welcome, whereas on the other hand “help” is more often a hindrance that one could do without. It’s also “offered” – which in non-executive english translates to, mandated. Oh what fun.

Pooh, while claiming to be a bear of little brain, is actually a darn sight cleverer than he lets on. He understands the stuff we’re trying to do in a non-technical yet deeply understood sort of way. Or at least that’s how it appears to outsiders – personally I think he’s an expert bull-sh1tter, and that my friends means he’s very VERY good at his job. I’m sure he’d agree. For my part, BS isn’t something I’m particularly blessed with and sadly I’m a bit of a crap liar too, so if you want it straight without the bolotics, I’m your man.

Pooh also isn’t one to “suffer fools gladly” as the saying goes and I believe that one of the execs may have read between the lines of deafening silence on a call on Friday and got that message loud and clear. It only takes 10 minutes of an SMI’s time to wind him up – and some more “talented” SMI’s can do it with the words “Hello Pooh”. But I digress.

It’s probably just as well, for the sake of his own sanity that he’s not here for the coming week, so our offer of “help” therefore falls to me to accept. On the plus side, I have spent some rather large chunks of my career “managing” executives although I am a little out of practice. Pooh’s advice – before he slipped out the back wearing Nike’s and moving at a speed not dissimilar to that of a slightly older, shorter and more countrified version of Usain Bolt – was treat it as a training course or a test. Not a bad stab at taking the sting out of it I thought.

My approach will be to shut up and listen, nod sagely at appropriate moments and to politely ignore the sort of comments that would turn Pooh into a very Shouty bear with a pointy stick. I can assure you, that is not someone you would like to meet up a dark alley unless you were meeting him to team up and start a fight with an unruly mob of mobsters who considered themselves to be “tooled up and well hard”.

So it’s with these thoughts in mind that I have to do some bloody work on the weekend.

But first there are more important things to attend to. Lunch with Mr Ball senior and various other members of the Ball clan and extensions. After all executive buffoonery and the suchlike will come and go and come round again, but you only get one Dad.

Actually I think the saying goes something like “1000 dads but only one father” or is it “a 1000 mums but only one mummy”? Ah, whatever – you get my drift I’m sure.

In short, a fairly leisurely and drawn out pub lunch with much frivolity will see me and Mrs G through to the early evening by which time I’ll be prepared to prepare for my visit up to “that London” first thing on Monday morning. I think I’ll have the steak – famous for being the last meal of the condemend man.

Daughter’s working overtime – which is a great shame because I know Mr Ball senior enjoys her stories of current police work having been in “the job” himself for many many moons, but with any luck they’ll arrive just before she sets off so at least they’ll get to say hello. Sister ball is also making a long overdue appearance. Always great to see her and hear about what she’s been up to while in hiding since the last time she appeared.

Oh yes, and I mustn’t forget to nip to the station to pick up my tickets. 170 of our British pounds just so that a bloke in a suit can rant about some other blokes in suits at a bloke without a tie (but I will be in a suit) about a guess that the othe blokes made that was “a bit short of the mark” and then end up deciding that it’s a battle that will be list even though we’re still in the war.

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Ah well – its nice to have a day out. Such fun!


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

I can feel the knot of the noose tightening. The pressure is ramping up a little now. We spent time in the company of senior exec’s yesterday, which can often be un-nerving (see Dilbert for further details on how this usually works) .

We’re still striving to fit 3 weeks worth of work into a week – and that’s not working out to well obviously. And of course we’re somewhat hampered by the fact that it’s half-bloody-term. It’s annoying that it’s occupying most of my waking hours, but it’s what I do until I do something else.

Mrs G has a cold which has spoilt her plans for Friday. She was going to see our friend S who’s battling with the big C. Unfortunately as I’m sure you’re aware, chemotherapy messes with your immune system, making it weak, and the patient susceptible to viruses and diseases. The last thing S needs at this point of her treatment is a cold, and so it’s with sad hearts that they’re not going to get together on Mrs G’s day off. Here’s hoping the treatment pays off and S can get back to being the great gran, mum, wife and friend that she is. 

Daughter is weary and tired.  She’s not had a day off for the best part of two weeks and it’s starting to show. She needs a break the poor lamb, but she’s got a few days at the weekend that she’s looking forward to. I believe she’s even got a night out with the girls planned. Bless her. 

We’ve got a bit of a get together on Saturday planned too. It’s that time of year again when it’s Mr Ball senior’s birthday, so we’re all going for a bit of a lunchtime nosh up in a countryshire public house. Sister Ball is coming down from “that Manchester” and even the  in-laws are going to join us. Should be a giggle and even if you can’t chose your family – it’s fair to say that we’re very lucky to have family that aren’t just bearable, but are actually fun to be with so it’s something to look forward to. Still got to get the elder ball’s birthday present yet though. 

Well – no chance of me getting to 750 words today – far too much todo..

Pooh’s on the phone, so I’d best get on with it. Stay safe. 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

It’s all kicking off….

Still no sign of the mythical beast of a deal that Pooh and I have been waiting for, but the current one that we’re wrestling with is much like a firework.  

The blue touch paper has been lit and we should be standing well back – however “Kanga” is not only poking it with a stick (and not a pointy one I should add – as we all know the best weapon of choice of all woodland creatures is a pointy stick) but he’s picking it up and carrying it over to the gathered crowd as if to say “look at this, maybe we should try opening it and seeing how much gunpowder is in inside” – much to the terror of the rest of us.  Didn’t he read the instructions (using a battery operated torch) before hand ?

Owl was fuming and there was some argy-bargy from Eeyore. In fact if Owl hadn’t been up a tree at that point, he’d have happily pulled Eeyore’s tail off (which is only held on by a drawing pin). 

The dangers of messing with fireworks are ably demonstrated by Pooh, who has to go and have his hand fixed after many years of making his own fireworks in the privacy of his own home. The result of this means that he’ll be leaving me in charge of the box of unlit rockets and of course the finale “sky-bomb” which I’ll be setting off next week.

It should travel high enough into the stratosphere to come down somewhere over the far side of the atlantic ocean – but that rather depends on what the crowd think of it as it goes up.  Our fireworks are “applause driven” so if there’s not a general feeling of approval from the watching audience it won’t make it and I’ll have to have another look in the “wooden” (not metal) box to see if there’s anything better we can set off.

However, before we get that far, we need the other woodland folk to take another look at the potential “sky-bomb” and make sure they’ve included all the right whistle’s and bangs in it so that it appears appropriately whizzy when it goes up.  The problem here though, is that they’re currently working on a firework display for the village and not the 100-acre wood.  Piglet’s on the case.

Some of the other woodland creatures that we don’t see much – the one’s that hangout in parliament, are also getting twitchy. Tigger’s are wonderful things (as we all know) – but a brave bear with a pointy stick and very little brain has a better outlook on those creatures than a tatty, bouncy tigger does.

Penny-for-the-guy anyone ?

Tiggernpooh

Appreciate that’s all a bit abstract, but if you know what I’m jabbering about, then you’ll know what I’m jabbering about.

Away from the wood things are relatively quiet. A nice Chilli for dinner last night, some “Come Dine With Me” on the telly and I managed to keep my eyes open long enough to see the first half of “The Ghost” (Known as “The Ghost Writer” outside of the UK). 

It’s the story of a writer employed to ghost write the autobiography of an ex-british prime minister.  A political thriller with the young Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor) as the writer and James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) as the PM.  So far, reasonably enjoyable, with lots of it set in Martha’s Vineyard, the island just off the southern edge of Massachusetts, which looks like a great place to be in the summer – and a “windswept and interesting” place to be in the winter. I’ll give you my final take on it once I’ve found an hour to cram the second half in.

Anything interesting in the news??  Well, there’s The EU debt crisis, which is droning on and on. The Boeing Dreamliner has had it’s first commercial flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Amazon’s profits are seriously down due to production of the new Kindle Fire. IBM have named a new female chief executive (Virginia Rometty) to replace the current CEO (Sam Palmisano) in January next year. And “Nokia World” has begun where Nokia will announce a bunch of phones (including the Nokia Luma 800 Windows phone – available from November at $585) that won’t be as good as the iPhone (probably). That’s a little unfair, but having spent most of my career around windows and Microsoft, it’s probably true.

And on the subject of Microsft, Happy Birthday to Windows XP yesterday. 10 Years old and still favoured by millions of PC users.

Finally, finally – if you feel like doing something dangerous – and let’s face it on a Wednesday, who doesn’t? – you could always try this:

Ta-ra for now.

 

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Yesterday was the 10th birthday of the iPod, and today is the launch of the official biography of the late Steve Jobs.

The story of the iPod and how it’s allegedly killed the music industry is a well told and worn one – in my opinion it’s just changed the music industry, not killed it, but what do I know?  The story of it’s creator (and I use that term in a fairly loose way on this occasion) is far less well known.  He was renowned for being a very private and secretive man which is seemingly at odds with his presence and “fame” – for want of a better word – as a company director.  There aren’t many – if any CEO’s (with the possible exception of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook) – that are as well know as he was. I’ve heard loads of theories about the reasons for his popularity since his death, but I’m not sure I click with any of them.
He was, after all, just a man, like any other who happened to be in the right place at the right time and had a drive and passion for his business. I think he was more “well known”, than popular although I think that his perceived “popularity” has a lot to do with his peer group.  Bill Gates might have owned the PC – via the Microsoft behemoth, but I’m not sure he’d be a barrel of laughs at a party. Steve beat Bill by being a “cool geek” and you can see why other geeks would want to emulate him for that reason.
I don’t really read biography’s – some people swear by them – but in this case I might be tempted to make an exception. I suppose I’m following the heard of wannabe cool geeks, but equally I’d quite like to know what went on in his head. Even if it is from another person’s perspective and not his own.
I’ll leave the subject of Steve with two points – one, and most interestingly for me, the talk in the book of an Apple Television. Not Apple TV, which he claimed was just a hobby, but an actual Apple Television. Some people have said this already exists in the form of the iMac, but I think we all know what Steve’s really getting at and I think it’s probably the the last piece of his grand plan. The ownership of the living room would be complete – whether it’ll ever see the light of day now that he’s passed, only time will tell.
The second Steve story is my favourite – and is all about the shenanigans around the release of the iPhone 4.  Some of you will probably recall that Gizmodo managed to acquire an iPhone 4 that an Apple sales rep left in a bar by mistake. Brian Lam tells of his take on Steve Jobs in this article (Steve Jobs was always kind to me (or, regrets of an asshole)), and what makes it for me is the line “Before he hung up, he asked me, “What do you think of it?””. Judge for yourself.

Giz_ip4

On the work front, IIWII and WAWWA, which for the regular readers means it’s not great, but that’s life. I am starting to get rather swamped though.  The work I’m doing with pooh obviously takes priority, but I’m covering for one of our number who is on vacation, pooh is going to take some time out to have his honey-covered paws cleaned up and there’s more work on the horizon. I’m perceiving a pressure that doesn’t yet exist – not a good place for my brain to be.
Daughter’s in court today. Not for something she did (thank heavens) but for something she saw. This is what happens when you patrol the mean streets in your spare time. She was a little nervous before she set off – but she’d never say so. I’m sure it’ll be fine and they’ll lock up the bad guys and let the good guys go.
Her companies attitude towards her having time off to attend court has been less than satisfactory though.  She’s performing a service for her local community, free, gratis and at no charge. This translates into not only a safer, happier place for all those that live on her patch – many of them work in the same company – but also a direct saving in each of their pockets by way of a lower level of council tax.
Clearly a forward thinking company would recognise that safe and happy staff are more hardworking and reliable staff and as such be supportive of her venture. Attending court as a witness / arresting officer isn’t something you can choose not to do – it’s a legal requirement. So, a day off without pay – rather than taking holiday (which let’s face it, is supposed to be for your holidays) would seem to be the correct thing to do when these circumstances arise.  Not a bit of it.
However… the police have been called, HR will be summonsed – they’re surrounded and there’s no escape.

Police

There’s also currently no documented policy within the business to deal with it – and so hopefully it will be resolved in a speedy and logical manner.
It seems the business just needs some edumacation in the way their community works.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

So in a departure from what has become the norm, today saw me making a trip up to the local office for a meeting with the bad man and a newly assigned PM who will be taking things forward from here for us.

Wednesday’s have become the day for our weekly get togethers up there, but this week it’s a Tuesday. Nothing especially different about it, other than the rest of the account team weren’t there.  As things have turned out, the day went well mostly – apart from having to pick up something new that wasn’t on the original list of new things to be picking up. In the end, mid afternoon saw us finishing off at a sensible time.

Other facts we learned today*: 

  • The Channel Islands are just off the coast of Poland.
  • Lawyer is spelt L-I-A-R

It’s Apple day – so I’m looking forward to hearing what they have to say about the next round of iPhones. As I said yesterday, I’m fully expecting there NOT to be an iPhone 5 (but as with everything those guys do – anything could happen)

Iphone

I reckon the best iOS5 function that’s coming (aside from the voice assitant and the enhanced notifications system) is moving the camera shutter button onto the physical volume buttons on the side of the phone. That will actually make picture taking far more natural and one hell of a lot easier to do.

Next week I’m jetting off on the annual (or in my case bi-annual) golf trip to Spain. Normally I have to lug my proper camera around with me of an evening to capture the lads in various states of stupidity. Fingers crossed that the new OS lands in time so that this year I’ll only be lugging my phone. I’m also going to get my “posting to Google+ via email” sorted out so that I can instantly share thier embaressing moments amongst the correct circles (although posting to a specific circle via email is something I have yet to figure out).

Something you may not be aware of that will help me along the path of automating such tasks it a website called http://ifttt.com (If This Then That). It’s a place were you can join sites (referred to as channels) together in the form of “tasks”.  So for example if you use instagram to take pictures and have a dropbox account (for online storage), you could create a recipe that each time you take a picture with instagram, then copies that picture onto your dropbox storage.

Once you’ve created your “tasks” you can share them to the ifttt community as “recipes”. There’s a whole host of channels available to the tool, including such sites as Facebook, Foursquare, GoogleMail, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr and on and on the list goes. It’s clever stuff and I’d recommend it if you’re trying to manage your “external digital emminance” πŸ˜€

Well then – 6pm is almost upon us and so I’m shooting off to keep track of the Apple announcement. Hopefully I can get iOS5 before my travels.

If you feel like following along, you can do so here: http://live.gdgt.com/live-apple-iphone-5-event-coverage/ 

*Some items proclaimed as fact may NOT actually be facts. True Story.

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

That’s been the summer then – although looking out the window this morning, it’s not going anywhere in a hurry.  A proper Indian summer is with us in the UK but it’s a rubbish excuse for not blogging.  I have no-one to blame but myself. So what’s been going on ?….

 

Well – workwise, Pooh and I have got to the end of our run with the Big American company that needed Starfleet’s help.  We think we’ve helped and everyone (including the Big American company) seem to be quite happy with what we’ve done.  We haven’t really p!ssed anyone off and signatures are on the relevant pieces of paper to prove it.

 

Talking of signatures on paper – I’ve collected three in the last month that I’m particularly pleased about.  One is (to be fair a digital one) from my UK departmental lead, who agree’s that I’m a good guy really and anyone who said otherwise was wrong in the past – so actually I’m worth hanging on to.  That’s nice to know.

 

The second is from my UK bosses, bosses, boss which says thanks very much for your help, and the third one is from the overall commander of Starfleet (Mr very very important – and extremely influential – although not quite so well known as Steve Jobs) who says congratulations on being here still after 25 years!  25 YEARS!??!?!  REALLY!??

 

In reality – I haven’t been here for 25 years – although I have been here for 10 – and I find that scary enough.  The way employment law works in europe, means that should you transfer from one company to another as part of a take-over or outsourcing agreement, your service up until that point all counts as service with your new employer.  

 

I’ve had three interviews for jobs in my whole career – but only the first one was as an unknown. The other two were internal interviews. That’s how good I am. They all want to keep me really. πŸ™‚ I’ve worked for five different companies in that time (so that’s an average of one every 5 years) and they’ve all been related to each other in one way or another.  Basically, it went like this: a take-over, a promotion, a promotion, a merger, an outsource which all adds up to 25 years.

 

I got a great pen. πŸ™‚

 

Now – armed with my new pen – Pooh and I are all set to run off a new adventure, which is just around the corner.  We’re just fending off the remnants of the old one, but there’s really not a lot left now.  Who knows what delights await us – but I’m sure some of them won’t be too delightful.

 

Outside of the work-o-sphere, I’ve had a couple of weeks off (one of the other benefits of being around for so long, is that for this year only I get 35 days vacation – so I have to crowbar it in where I can).  

 

Me and Mrs G went down to Swanage for a week to stay in a lovely little cottage by the sea.  Swanage is a quaint old seaside town – rather stuck somewhere in the end of the 50’s and 60’s in places, while a few businesses are trying to drag it into the new century.  To be honest, I wish, they’d mostly leave it be.  The old pubs and fish and chip shops, hark back to a time when summer holidays meant sandcastles and fish and chips and not airplanes and overcrowded hotels. Proper english in a traditional way. Sticks of rock and “kiss me quick” hats – all that sort of stuff. Lovely.  

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We had great weather for a week so late in the year and had a great time too.  I’d particularly recommend the Globe pub as one of the most traditional I’ve been into in a while.

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Daughter also had a holiday – and jetted off with her mates to the Canary Islands for a week, only to come back with a georgous looking tan. Pah!

 

The second week was spent at home in the rain. Not quite so much fun, but I did get a few little jobs done that needed doing, including the reframing of a few photos that I’d been meaning to sort out for ages. Very happy with the result.

 

Then we’ve had a trip to the Rugby to see good old Gloucester kick it out of Bath. That was fun – if a little too much imbibing. 

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My next big trip is only a week or so away now too.  This time it’s golf – with the lads in sunny Spain.  I’m sure Mrs G isn’t over the moon on one hand, because we’ve not been abroad for any proper sunshine this year, but on the other hand, she’ll be glad to have some space to herself for a week without me – and we are planning on doing something a bit more special in the new year.  Not decided exactly what yet – but it’s on the cards.

 

SO there we go – a bit caught up.  I don’t want this to be huge – so I’ll limit my tech news comment – which is vast – to another post.  If you’re interested I’ll be blathering about Facebook, Google+, the iPhone 5 (or lack thereof) and the Kindle Fire (and others). But that’s for the next post.

 

Glad to be back – stay safe – and keep calm and carry on.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

We appear to have arrived at what can only be described as …  Thursday.

Not quite true I suppose.  It could be described as many many different things. The New Friday, for example, or perhaps “Just past the middle of the week”.  This particular Thursday could also be considered “Flaming Hot!” for that is what it is. Being a Brit of course the weather is at the forefront of my mind and is the beginnings of most conversation.  While this might sound like a myth, or perhaps a nostalgic view of the english, surprisingly it is also true and a fact to boot. 

In short it is a Thursday in the summer which would normaly mean cold and wet, but is in fact unusually and correctly both hot and dry.  Nice.

Floppy

Yesterday included a trip to a Starfleet office to spend some time with the Badman and prepare for our various handovers.  The first of these will be taking place next Tuesday somewhere in the Southern part of England.  The other’s will be happening the following week somewhere in the Eastern part of America. So that’s that stuff….

In preparation for the US piece I had to renew my US Travel Authorisation which nowadays is all done online (ETSA: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ ). Gone are the days of filling in a green card on the plane just before you land, and gone are the days of it being free. You pay 14 dollars (some of that money goes to promote US travel) to be permitted to enter the US and it’s valid for two years. Interestingly, none of that happens the other way around.  In the UK we derive no revenue from visitors at the border in this way. I note the Welsh do though ( http://www.severnbridge.co.uk/toll_prices.shtml ) … πŸ™‚

What’s more interesting though is the fact that the ETSA is only valid for two years and without a reminder you could easily show up at a US airport, only to have to fly home again.  Be warned.  

But hang about – it seems that everything relating to travel now has much short expiration dates attached to it, so if you’re planning on leaving the front door of your house anytime soon – check these three just in case:

  • Passport: Only valid for 10 years now. A “One day” renewal is about £130 quid.
  • EHIC Card: Only valid for 5 years. The “European Health Insurance Card” covers EU citizens anywhere in the EU for state-managed hospital treatment. ( https://www.ehic.org.uk/ )
  • Driving Licence: Only valid for 10 years. Since it changed to a photo card, you have to renew them every 10 years, or you can pay a £1000 fine.  Your choice. It’ll cost you 20 quid to update it.

It’s all abit of a con. A nice way for government departments to make just a bit more money out of us – as if they didn’t get enough already, but this is the world we live in. Feel free to write to your MP and see where that gets you. Let me know how it works out.

 


This post originally appeared here: Posterous