A tale of a Scotsman living in SW london...

Monday, December 22, 2008


Well, it's the traditional time of year where I'm running about like an idiot finishing shopping, be it food or presents. Not this year though...

I made a decision in November that I'd be organised this year. And so I have been! I bought the last parcel last Sunday, and although I'd gone to Kingston, I went first thing and was home by 12. This was a good plan, as it meant that most people were still in bed when I went. In fact, I'd almost call it pleasant.

Yesterday, we had to pop to the supermarket. Knowing that the large Sainsburys Savacentre would be mad, we opted to just get a few bits in the Tesco and M&S in Wimbledon, which means a 5 minute walk (it's one aspect to Wimbledon I'll miss when we leave - everything is so close!) It was chaos, people barging into each other, generally winding each other up. As such, we got what we needed and legged it to the gym. The gym has a massive glass window where you can watch the main shopping street in Wimbledon from the 1st floor while on an exercise bike, and this led to much amusement watching the chaos and thinking - if you could all see yourselves, would you do it again?

In the afternoon, we went to Richmond Park for a bit of a wander. I love Richmond Park, and when it's open in the early morning I cut through it when I need to drive out of London. So after admiring the view from the top of the hill, we'd taken a few shots on the camera, mainly of crazy old log patterns and a few deer, we wandered back to the car and went home for a mince pie and some dodgy Christmas tunes ;-)

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Well, it's taken 2 hours, but I think I've managed to help alleviate the skipping in iTunes on the PC. Lot's of tweaking...

So, I've uninstalled a lot of old software, which made no real difference other than freeing up some much needed hard drive space. I then updated the relevant drivers for the soundcard (a rather excellent Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer edition (essentially, the same card as their more expensive card, but you pay a third of the price), but I've left iTunes at v7 as it's relatively stable and iTunes just seems to bloat every edition you go up. Next up was some tweaks for quicktime, forcing it to use my soundcard to do the processing it thinks it should do - this made a bit of a difference actually. I checked the page file was ok, and also turned off the fancy visuals you get in Windows, so the desktop doesn't look so good but hey, it just uses up resources. Finally, I reviewed the services list so only the stuff I used was starting automatically, and removed some apps from my startup. This seems to have cured all my ills, I now have a non-skipping iTunes and have a processor that is no longer hitting maximum usage all the time.

Talking of processor usage, I've been using Process Tamer for a year or so on the work laptop and found it to be very useful, but am trialling Process Lasso on the home PC, which is a bit more configurable and less intrusive than Process Tamer.

Friday, December 19, 2008

So the PC is definitely struggling, as with the latest version of iTunes running it now skips a lot. Nightmare. Will just have to wait for the new year though.

Interesting experience on return to the rented cottage we have last night. There are 16 cottages in a rectangular cul-de-sac. They are all pretty old and we have one tucked away at the end. Turns out the guy next door to us owns the little lane we use to access the three cottages at this end and also owns the garages at the end of the road. He wants to build flats there and it's been refused due to the limited emergency access. So he'd tried to buy some of land the cottage gardens sit on, but everyone refused it. So I arrive last night to find a new gate and some metal bollards, which means I cannot get the car anywhere near the place. He's done it out of spite and it's not legal. However, the lawyers are about to come down on this prize cock very swiftly and access should be resumed shortly.

Some people are idiots.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Well, I think my PC is struggling.

With the holidays coming, I thought I'd take the opportunity to rip some of my DVDs for use on the ipod. Trouble is, while the results are very good, it takes AGES on my nearly 4 year old steed. So I think a new PC will need to be sussed out in the new year. Some of the new Dell Studio gear looks appealing and some of it is incredibly cheap at the moment - who'd have thought you'd get a quad fully built, with 3GB of RAM, for 650 quid? Will be keeping an eye on that one! The aim is to get the new PC and then at some point a new screen - something nice, big and wide ;-)

For those interested, here is the link

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Great pictures on ZDNet showing some examples of when Christmas decorations go wrong...


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why is it that you plan to buy a smaller Christmas tree than the year before, and yet when you actually get there you decide to buy one that is much bigger than you'd planned? It's currently drying out in the hallway, ready to be installed in the lounge tomorrow morning.

We need to venture out in the wilds tonight (literally!) to our friends in Kent to are having a Champagne party. Fortunately, our friends who live near us have decided to drive, so we'll get a lift home. Always nice ;-)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

We've been getting very good at late at planning the shopping we need so we minimize the lack waste food we have. It takes a lot of effort to do it while managing two homes (one for the project, one we own) but it's satisfying to do it, plus it means your less likely to weaken and get a takeaway!

Heading home today, which is always welcome. It's been a long week away from home this week, even taking into account that we have a cottage we stay in during the week, but there is nothing like your own bed. Only downside will be the ever present traffic on the M25 on the drive home, but you can't have everything.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another day, another bun fight. Fortunately, I wasn't in this meeting, and I really appreciate the team here and the work they've done around it to keep me out of it!

It seems though, that my time here is almost at an end. It will be a shame to go, I've made some good friends and the work is interesting. However, this is an absolutely horrible time to change projects as nobody is doing anything in December, so that's probably next years utilization screwed before it's even begun. Deep joy.

What with everything else that's going on just now, it doesn't exactly leave me in the happiest place, but there you go - that's the so called joy of services work. You do the job, your expendable. You go into this with your eyes open though so you know it can and will happen, but after 3 years it still smarts a bit.

Monday, December 08, 2008

One of the joys of using Firefox is the add-ons you can get. There are lots of clever ones out there, but one I really like is called property-bee. Now, if your not buying or selling a house just now, this will not interest you very much, however what you do is install the little add-on and then visit rightmove, which is the biggest property website going. The little add-on is viewed in the left hand toolbar, and shows you all the details of the property listed with the changes that have happened to them, such as when it went on, what has changed in the description, and most importantly, the differences in the prices between when it went on and what it's at now. This is vital information in the current market!

At the very least, it's interesting to see which massive 5 bedroom pile has lost the most money ;-)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

I've recently discovered, via the medium of the Freeview box, BBC 6 Music. Now, I like listening to radio, you don't have a choice when you spend a s much time in the car as I do! So, Radio 1, 2, 4 and XFM (when in London) all get listened to. However 6 Music is different to all of them. They play superb music, I'm listening to it now and it's all 70's and 80's classic (good classic stuff!) like the Clash, The Beat, Elastica and the like. Awesome stuff. Now, I've not listened to it during the week, but will definitely give it a try.

The other music source I discovered was Last.FM. You type in the type of music you want to listen to, or an artist, and it streams similar stuff to you. Some are better than others, but overall, very good - essential when you forget your ipod in the office! You can also "scrobble" music when you sync your ipod, so it learns the type of stuff you've been listening to and plays tracks your more likely to like. Impressive stuff, and the best bit? It's all free ;-)

You have to love the internet!

Friday, December 05, 2008

To compound my pain after yesterdays drive to work, the drive home wasn't much better! We'd gone to my wives sisters house to drop off Fizz Wizz that we'd bought in the local sweet shop in the village (it's fantastic btw - everything you can imagine from your childhood available in little bags!) as it's the nieces birthday tomorrow. As such, she wanted to let the kids experience Fizz Wizz, which has also been called Space Dust, but essentially pops like crazy in your mouth. So this route back home took us via Woking. This bit was fine, but then from there you drive past Brooklands and Weybridge to get to the A3 at Chobham. This is where the problems lay, as the M25 was closed between Weybridge and the A3, so all the 4 lanes of M25 traffic was trying to use the same bit of road...

Absolute hell. And with the prospect of a weekend trip to Yorkshire, complete with snow, it doesn't look like my driving pleasure will increase anytime soon! In saying that, we drove back to London after seeing Coldplay this week. Now, even though it was pretty late, the roads were quiet and the car was a dream. I mean, it looks good, it's massive inside, it's pretty quick and it eats motorways. What more can you ask for late at night for a 150 mile run? That made me almost as happy as the soon to happen trip round Scotland for a wee driving jaunt. Cannot wait...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

So for the first time in a while I've gone to a proper office. We drove there, as it's in Surrey. On route, we came across two minor accidents on the roads, one involving a car on the inside lane (there is no pavement or hard shoulder at that point on the A3) and another involving a van which had stopped in similar circumstances. The result - an extra 40 minutes on the drive to work.

Traffic does, officially, suck.

It begs the question though - with the Government deciding that using the hard shoulder instead of building more roads is a viable way forward, all you'll get when there is an accident is absolute mayhem as there is nowhere to put the cars other than the hard shoulder. On the M42, they only use it in peak hours, and the hard shoulder is used as a feeder for the next exit, and allows cars coming on to the motorway more time to move out which results in a much improved flow of traffic. This, combined with the use of traffic lights on the entry, has made a massive difference. But it only works when there are no accidents, and that's where the plan fails.

The M1 needs another lane all the time, as does the M6 and probably sections of the M25 (though better lane discipline on the M3 junction would be a start and would solve a lot of problems). Using the hard shoulder is a short term fix to get round the environmental debates about road building. But they need to happen..

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Well, Coldplay were superb last night. Took a few songs to warm up, both them and the crowd, but by the time they hit Yellow (about 4 songs in) everyone was in full flow. Birmingham has a big German market where we met our friends beforehand which is just amazing and a big plus for Brum. So a hot chocolate and a massive proper German sausage were had for dinner so I was a happy person! The beer looked great but it was freezing! I don't think many people know about the market outside of the area, but they had some really nice stuff there and we hope to go back soon when we are free one weekend before Christmas.

Interesting note for the night - everybody joined the queue to pay for the car park. However a quick wander into the car park and we found another 3 machines, with no queue. How very British...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Dinner last night was good fun. It's not every day that your dinner is cooked by the programme execs, in Hell's Kitchen style! Honestly though, the food was good and the waiting staff were also pretty good, though our desert waiter was shocking. He'd avoided doing his job all night and then missed most of the tables he was supposed to be doing.

Other stuff, well my Dad had his long awaited surgery on his hand yesterday and all went well, though he has stitches and a splint so can't do very much. And as his phone has a stylus, it's taking him even longer than normal to write text messages. If only I could watch him do it - I'm sure it would be a real sight!

Today is going to be a long day. We're going to see Coldplay with some friends tonight which should be really good - for all the abuse they get they are superb live. We saw them a couple of years ago at Crystal Palace - great gig, crap venue - took 90 minutes to get a train home. So, we are really looking forward to the gig, however we have to get back to London tonight and the gig is in Birmingham, so that's going to be a very late arrival home. And it looks like it will snow later. Deep joy...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Travel to Worcester on a Monday is always a pain, but today there is a dinner planned and that seems as good a reason as any. Well, that and the two meetings someone had scheduled for me in Worcester...

It should be good though, I've missed catching up with everyone socially on the project since we got our little cottage nearby.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It transpires I'm going to be an uncle! My brother and his wife are due to have a baby in June next year, so there is much excitement in the family households! Of course, technically I've been an uncle for a while, but they are my sister in laws children and while I adore them, this is my brother having a kid - which in itself is a scary prospect.

So many congratulations to them. At least we'll all know who's doing the driving over Christmas ;-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

So, for those who are interested, I had my fitness assessment at the gym at the weekend. Now, doing this after a wedding isn't the best idea as it meant some of the readings weren't as good as they should have been, but hey ho. Anyway, the good news is all targets were met, and my gym membership is now ridiculously cheap, about 10% the rate you'd pay if you walked up and joined them. So I'm happy with that ;-)

Lots has been going on of late, some I'll maybe mention another time, but my Granda had an op last week, which went well thankfully and he seemed very chirpy when I spoke to him last night. It makes me realise though just how far away from home I am. I can get there in a few hours if I need to, but you just can't pop round, give them a lift if they need it, get their shopping - all the stuff I used to do when I lived there. It's at times like these when it's something I'm not comfortable with as in a few years my folks will be getting on as well and you feel a tad helpless. You don't want to wake up in a few years and realise you've missed out on spending time with people, you know? Hmm, getting a bit deep now but times like this make you think about it all.
Well, that was a great wedding on Friday! Great to see the happy couple looking so pleased with themselves, they had put a lot of effort into making it a bit of an eco wedding and had focussed on the important aspects to a great wedding, and pulled it off brilliantly. (In case your wondering what they are - food, drink and good music seem to do the trick!)

It was nice to be able to get home afterwards, it's so usual now to end up in a hotel when you go to a wedding as people are so dispersed these days.

Oh, and just thought I'd rub this in - I've started my Christmas shopping ;-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Today I'm on holiday as we are off to a wedding. I've been looking forward to this wedding for a few reasons, but mainly as it's the first wedding in London that we'll have gone to. As such, it means getting dressed up and getting the train in as the venue is just off the Strand. So it'll be the first wedding I've got the train too...

It should be good fun though, the venue looks great (an old house on a back lane beside Embankment) and we know a fair amount of people going as it's my wives old flatmate from when we started going out, so I'm looking forward to it. I've decided against wearing my kilt though - it's just too much hassle and the thought of getting on a train at midnight full of drunken people doesn't appeal - it's at those times when you want to blend in and not stand out. It's a shame, but there you go. I actually think I'd be overdressed for the wedding if I wore that - I expect it to be a rather casual affair.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh, you have to love Microsoft products. Some companies staff are now claiming their companies are due them overtime as a result of the long boot times that Vista has caused.

It's an interesting point. If you are given IT to do your job and it takes longer to do the job the old system did, should you have actually deployed it in the first place? Surely it's part of your assurance in testing that this doesn't adversely impact the users?

Home at last.

Ordered some extra memory for the old PC last week and it arrived yesterday. Fitted in minutes and already it's making a difference to the performance, as I can now run iTunes and Firefox without having to shut one down! Should keep the PC ticking over till next summer anyway, which for a 20 quid investment is pretty good going.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Oh dear. This story stunned me. I mean, everyone has had these emails saying you've inherited millions, or won millions on a lottery you've never entered, but they need you to send money to them to release the funds. Most sensible people ignore them...

How can you be strung along for 400 grand, when everyone around you is saying it's madness, and yet you persevere?

Good badminton game last night in a superb new sports center in Birmingham. Apparently, this place had caused uproar when it got planning permission as it was "in the wrong place". However, last night it was rammed with people swimming, playing tennis, badminton, judo, classes - anything you can imagine! In an age where all you hear is how obese the country is (and let's be honest about this, the statistics lie a bit when I can be classed as overweight - ) it's great to see the sports center buzzing like that.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


We had the little niece and nephew to stay last night. They came and stayed for 24 hours. It's enough to put you off having kids.

I adore the little buggers really, but when one says he wants tomato soup, repeatedly, and then you make him said soup and he is informed of the kind act by his Dad, hoping for some respite, only for the little bugger to then say "I hate tomato soup", it's a wonder he didn't go home wearing it. I think I showed remarkable restraint.

I may however have simply been smug in the knowledge that my fantasy football team wiped the floor with everyone this week. It's one of those rare weeks when all your defenders keep clean sheets and score, your midfielder go mad for goals, and your strikers get in among them too. Bliss ;-)

Friday, November 14, 2008

I may not mention on here, but I love driving. I certainly used to enjoy it even more when I lived in Scotland. In Aberdeen you can be in some amazing roads in 10 minutes, although I didn't have the car to enjoy them then! Difficult to get the exact line in a clapped out 1.4 Escort Ghia... In Edinburgh though I did have the car and within 20 minutes from where I lived you could be on your way to the borders on the A702 and it's associated side roads. I remember one drive I ended up at the foot of a mountain, looking at the most amazing waterfall, having driven along one of the best bits of tarmac I've ever been on. My poor Cooper S didn't really know what had happened to it!

In London, you can't enjoy car ownership as your always worried about damage, and then to get a decent road that is quiet will involve driving to Wales. At least that's how it feels at times, though Yorkshire is also a good shout ;-)

Anyway, I know one thing. My multiple karting victories means I can drive a bit, but I know I can't drive like Ken Block. Amazing video.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

How does the old adage go?
Keep your enemies close, but your friends closer?

I know what they mean.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quandary complete

So I completed my quandary. My colleagues in the main delivered the goods (well, 3 haven't as yet, but that's why I put down 7 people as I knew some were more reliable than others!). All feedback was sent to me by 4pm, and late last night the deed was done. So you can rest easy ;-) to those who did it, I thank you!

Last night was supposed to be about finishing the wedding album. This has been a trauma. I know it's supposed to be fun, but it's just not! We have 833 photos to chose from, and only 80 can go in the album. As such, 1 in 10 needs to be dropped. You'd think this would be easy but as our photographer was just so good it's not!

The cut down list is currently at 137. So it's getting there.

As she did such a good job, here's a link to Catherine so you can see why it's hard!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It's a busy time for work, the annual deluge of reviews has started. They brought the date they need all the responses back forward this year and there hasn't been much notice. So you know, this means that we all had to tell the Big company who we wanted to review us early, they all get written to and asked to respond. Normally, you have about 4 weeks to do this which makes it much easier to plan around the usual work stuff that's going on. This year, it was a total of 2 weeks, including the time to prepare your own response. It's not a lot.

As such, I'm left in the situation where I need to complete my response by the end of today (it's already written, thanks to a bit of foresight) but I've not had any of my feedback requests back yet as nobody thinks it's urgent yet.

As such, the quandary of today - do I submit now and be on time (I'll bet a very small percentage do it today) without having any comments in it from people I work with, or wait until I have the comments, and do it them?

I'm swaying to the latter as so much rides on the review that I'm very unhappy to submit without comments.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Phew, what a busy weekend!

Friday was a catchup with the folks and my brother and his wife. This involved a late night and whisky. Enough said.

Saturday we all went to a fantastic little place called "Milton of Crathes", which is just outside of Banchory and opposite Crathes Castle. We didn't go to the castle this time but will need to go soon as it's an awesome place. However, the food at Milton was superb, regional and seasonal, and very reasonable. My wife was loving the craft shops, as she has got into these things since we got married - living life in the fast lane, eh?

We caught up with all the boys in the evening as one of the contingent has a new flat which is absolutely enormous! However this was an evening with a difference. Usually, when the boys get together, we get take away pizza and play Pro Evolution Soccer all night on Xbox. This has been the pattern since about 1996. This was different (and it's a reflection on the ladies in our lives I think!) that we had a proper sit down 3 course dinner, followed by Trivial Pursuit. Shocking! Still, had a good night. It highlighted one thing though - the complete impracticality of getting three people into an Audi TT. My mate has one and gave me a lift home, my head was behind the line of the rear window, and that was after I'd angled my head to the side as there is NO headroom in the back! Still, it was better than walking ;-)

Friday, November 07, 2008

So Harry has done it again. How he has managed to get Darren Bent to start scoring again I'll never know. There was a web page doing the rounds a while ago about player wages in Europe, inc Premiership, and Bent came in as the 11th highest paid player in Europe. He must have a very good agent, that's all I can say!

Good results all round really last night. City had a lucky break in the last few minutes, but a win is a win, even with "Schteve" in charge. Bodes well for the strength of the Premier League clubs in the competition, especially with AC only managing a draw last night.

Off to Aberdeen this weekend to see friends and family. It's a long overdue visit but really looking forward to it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Good game of badminton last night, which left the feeling this morning that I'd spent an hour swinging my right arm wildly at something (not too far from the truth) and a slightly tight muscles on the right hand side of the leg. Note to self - more lunges needed on next gym trip ;-)It's a great game though, really enjoy it and perhaps more so than squash now as it's much less impact on the body so in an ideal world, you can play the game longer before your knees give in.

Still on track with the fitness plan, which involves getting enough gym visits and weight loss to see an improvement over the last health check at the gym. Now, I'd love to say that this is for me own health benefits, and it does, but if I manage to lose 5 pounds in 3 weeks, I'll be well under what I was last time I did the check. This gives me bonus points on the scheme the gym runs, which in turn means that when my renewal hits for the gym, instead of paying 85quid a month, which is the standard gym rate and not one I've ever paid, I'll pay £8. So, when I joined the gym two years ago it cost me, all in, £45 a month. So this scheme has it's benefits financially, and that to me, a Scotsman after all, has a bigger appeal!

On track so far though!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

So that's it then, Obama is in. And fair play to him. When you read the policies, more of his were in line with current thinking than McCains, which I think he wrote when he was in his 50s and has been trying to get in since then!

What cost McCain though has to be the car crash that's been Palin. While entertaining, she could never have been allowed to be vice president, McCain would have been 76 by the end of his term and with the best will in the world, that's a fair age to be in the post of one of the most demanding jobs going. It must surely take it's toll on the body, and the risk was Palin would step in. At the end of the day, a marginal voter would go for the safe option every time.

So fair play. Let's hope that he manages foreign policy a bit better than the current guy...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Brilliant GP yesterday, well done Lewis! Of course there are now all sorts of conspiracy theories about Glock's last lap and if Vettel had some help from Ferrari (his car has a Ferrari engine in the back after all), but let's not get drawn to that and just congratulate Lewis and Massa for a good season. Massa was dignified in defeat, and seemed to know that this may have been his only chance to win a title. Probably was, Kimi should be on form next year.

Apart from that, not much to say - usual boring drive to Worcester tomorrow, for another week of fun and frolics. Something like that, anyway...

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Have had the start of a cold for most of the week, it seems to be coming on strong today so a quiet one today, leading up to the Grand Prix later.

Talking of which, I hope Lewis does OK today. Of the two drivers in contention, I'd rather Hamilton wins, I just don't think Massa is a good enough driver to have a world title. Look at Silverstone - he span 4 times in the rain!

Time will tell, roll on 5pm!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Not much to say today really, it's been a busy one.

I listened to the Oasis gig as part of the Electric Proms last night. They played the Roundhouse in London and while Liam's voice started off rougher than an dodgy curry, it got better as the gig went on. However, the addition of a large choir added a completely different element to certain tracks, especially the cover of "I Am The Walrus", which has been an Oasis encore track (they usually finish gigs with it) for a very long time. It's brilliant, and for everyone who knocks them as a band would do well to check it out.

Music wise, there has been a lot of Beatles on the go again in the car. I adore "Revolver", but I feel the need to expand the selection on the old iPod so think a few will be added to the old Amazon wish list, in the vain hope someone pays attention to it this year!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jealously is a terrible mistress

So Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand have been a bit daft haven't they. However, the outrage it's caused makes interesting analysis. I'll point something out before I start here though - I'm not a particular fan of Brand or Ross, nor do I dislike them. But I do think they are being treated unfairly in this row.

Day of the pre-recorded broadcast, only 2 people complained. Out of a large number of listeners, only 2 people thought it was offensive. It stayed like that until the press got hold of it. So what are the motivations behind the outrage? Even Andrew Sachs hadn't complained until a journalist asked him about it, and that was nearly 4 days after the broadcast!

Brand and Ross are characters, you like them or you don't. People are using this incident as an excuse to try and force the BBC to get rid of them, which they have managed in Brands case, but I don't think they will with Ross, he is too valuable to the BBC. ITV would snap him up in a minute.

Most people who complained seem to say that "with Ross salary, he should know better", "I resent the money he earns" etc. Now, what has salary to do with it? His position as a senior broadcaster on the BBC has relevance, his salary doesn't - don't let your prejudice for how much you think he is overpaid cloud your view of the issue.

So forget about the money they may or may not earn. Forget about the personalities involved. Base your complaint on what was said and done.

Having read the transcript and listened again, yes, they went over the line. Yes, they said things that would upset a grandfather in his 70s and they shouldn't have done it. Yes, they should be reprimanded for it. Surely we've all been in the pub when a conversation has flowed and crossed the line. But would we get sacked? how does that help anyone? Put it this way, if we all were sacked for making an error of judgement at work, I think we'd all have a different perspective on what the punishment should be. Would you want that hanging over you every day? Nobody would make a decision!

I really despair at the state of this country when a media witch hunt can get people sacked. They may be on TV, but they are still people at the end of the day. If it was you, or your family, or your friend that had been hounded the way the press have, how would you feel? They've apologised, and are properly remorseful about it, move on, nothing to see...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You have to wonder about people in marketing.

Microsoft have finally got into cloud computing, having announced a new platform to run it all on. In a moment of genius, they have named it Microsoft Azure.

Azure means a light shade of blue, which in turn implies a cloudless sky.

As I say, genius.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cowboys? But the spurs have no points?

Well, I have to apologise in advance to the Gorse Fox for this, but I couldn't resist.

As a sample...

Did you hear that Juande Ramos was clocked doing 169mph on the M1 coming back from Stoke? Apparently he was just so desperate for three points.


Actually, I can hardly laugh, as my beloved Aberdeen are only just a bit better, having won at Falkirk at the weekend to give us a massive points total of 10 from 9 game. Which is still better than Spurs ;-) But with no win from 5 at home, but 3 wins out of 4 away, we're an odd team at the moment. Who knows what will happen. I'm not going to try and explain why it's happening, though losing most of your best players last season and not replacing them with equivalent quality will usually have an effect. It's typical of Scottish football at the moment though, we can't compete with league two sides for wages. Sad, but true.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Senior moment

I'm getting accused by the missus of having senior moments these days - I hope I never get like this!

Well, what a fantastic weekend that was.

For a start, I love spending time in Yorkshire, particularly in the small villages that look like they haven't changed in years. While I think it would probably drive me mad over time living in one of those places, I love visiting friends who stay in them. The weather was typically Yorkshire, slightly overcast, sunny, windy, mild drizzle - almost like good Scottish weather really :-) Our friends live about 10 miles north of York, and it's a tiny little place that still manages to sustain two pubs - what more can you ask for! But I adore the pace of life they have and it's always with regret we part.

They've recently had a new baby, so the weekend was different from the usual ones we have with them as there was a new interloper. But she's a real bundle of joy, a giggly little thing who you just cannot not play with and enjoy being around. We headed to York for a bit in the afternoon on Saturday and let the girls go off shopping while the boys took the wee one to the pub (where else...) so we could keep an eye on football (I'll come back to football another day - it's a sore subject at the moment). However we were surrounded by tables of women, armed with Chardonnay, who thought the little one was adorable - she loves an audience and was loving the attention. All great fun anyway, with the day finishing with a superb pub meal in a neighboring village - I've never eaten so much in my life. They don't scrimp on portion size in Yorkshire that's for sure!

Went to Castle Howard yesterday, which is an amazing place. Stupidly, I'd forgotten to pack the camera, and the scenery there is stunning. The workmanship is incredible, you cannot help but admire the buildings, but what is perhaps more amazing is the shear scale of the place. The grounds are massive! Definitely worth a trip back sometime, but with camera this time...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Well, an interesting week really. After all the mad rushing about it's been nice to have a bit of sanity restored to the world! Been trying to get the head back into gear for the next piece of work, but as with all these things it can take a little bit just to catch up with yourself - all sorted now though.

Haven't seen that much of the missus this week. She's been doing a lot of driving this week so we've only seen other one night since she left for Worcester on Monday morning, but that'll be rectified today when we add to our carbon footprint with a drive to a delightful village north of York where we're going to visit some friends. The midlands base is ideal for this, as instead of a 6 hour hike up the M1, it's only (in theory anyway, this is the M1 northbound we're talking about!) 3 hours from here. Can't wait to see them as they had a baby girl just 3 weeks before the wedding and despite their best efforts they didn't feel up to the travel, but did watch online via the webcam we had running. Actually, the webcam was well used, what with family in Scotland watching, and the missus old flatmates in Australia and New Zealand who got up in the middle of the night to watch it, texting each other all night as they watched. Technology is wonderful sometimes for bringing people closer together!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


This sums it up nicely to me...

A little boy goes to his dad and asks, 'What is Politics?' Dad says, 'Well son, let me try to explain it this way:
I am the head of the family , so call me The President. Your mother is the administrator of the money, so! we call her the Government. We are here to take care of your needs, so we will call you the People. The nanny, we will consider her the Working Class. And your baby brother, we will call him the Future. Now think about that and see if it makes sense.'

So the little boy goes off to bed thinking about what Dad has said. Later that night, he hears his baby brother crying, so he gets up to check on him. He finds that the baby has severely soiled his diaper. So the little boy goes to his parents' room and finds his mother asleep. Not wanting to wake her, he goes to the nanny's room. Finding the door locked, he peeks in the keyhole and sees his father in bed with the nanny. He gives up and goes back to bed.

The next morning, the little boy says to his father, 'Dad, I think I understand the concept of politics now.'

The father says, 'Good, son, tell me in your own words what you think politics is all about.'

The little boy replies,
'The President is screwing the Working Class while the Government is sound asleep. The People are being ignored and the Future is in deep ****'

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Well, I was doing some research last night on the fish I'd eaten in Mozambique. For those who know me, this was a big deal as I've only really started to eat fish in recent years, and even then it's not a regular thing as I'm still picky. So if the missus has fish, I'll try a bit and through that I've learned that I really don't like prawns.

But Mozambique was something else. The fish there are big game fish, much meatier and with less fiddly bones to contend with. But the best thing are the names, Wahoo, Prodigal Son and the like. Brilliant.

So I did some reading on these fish. Wahoo (surely the best animal name in the world?) is actually one of the fastest fish in the sea, having been clocked about 60 mph. That's a fast fish! But also quite a big fish at up to 2.5 metres! I'd also add, they are very, very tasty when served with fresh salad, cooked by an open fire BBQ ;-)

Prodigal Son has proved to be more of a challenge. I think it's another name for the Travelli fish, as if you enter Prodigal Son into google you get all sorts, mainly Bible related, but there is not much out there on it. So if you do find anything, let me know!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Busy old weekend. Saturday was spent doing "house things". So an early morning trip to deli for some lunch items was called for. The deli is fantastic and one of the things I'll miss about London is the ability to get pretty much anything, at any time, within walking distance of the flat. I mean, with 5 minutes walk of here I can go to the theatre, cinema, gym, a multitude if restaurants and bars - and yet if I'm in the garden it's quiet - just what you need!

Apart from that, lot's of little jobs done really, stripped and painted the back door (which is a job I've wanted to do for ages!), lot's of photo printing as we got so many picture frames and albums when we got married, and are only now sorting them out! It's one of the great things really, we can look back on them all and it still only feels like yesterday.

One thing I have done in the last week was watch Big Cat Diary on BBC1. I was never a fan really, my brother watched it all the time, and as a result went to th Masi Mara on honeymoon, but having been to Africa on safari now, it really gives you a different perspective on just how lucky they are to tape the animals they get. We spent three days tracking leopards, and saw one every day we were there, but yet they get a family with baby cubs, that's very lucky. You also don't get a feel for the area, just how loud it can be with animal noise, and how remote it all feels from civilisation, and watching it brought it all back. I want to go again!!!

A sample of the pictures we took while we were in Botswana:

Friday, October 10, 2008

I definitely know where I went wrong with the fire - had it going again last night and got it lit and stayed lit all evening (despite my best efforts...).

Got back to London last night, and after a dental check met up with some old colleagues from WS days. Was great to catch up, and also that our ability to consume beer hasn't diminished! Even while one of our number is on a crutch!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Burn, baby burn!

There is nothing like it when it gets cold.

So when I got back to the cottage last night, I set about the wood burner to see if I could get it going. I'd stopped in on my way home to the local fireplace shop who gave me advice on what to do, and some supplies of good quality wood to burn - it needs to be bone dry and this stuff was most certainly that! So after taking some advice from them and buying the necessary logs and kindling, I laid out the wigwam formation in the grate, placed some knotted newspaper in there and got busy with the matches. I'm sure this will get easier in time, but it took me ages to get it going! I think I know where I went wrong though.

Perhaps when I took this picture I'd gone a bit mad with the logs, as it was pretty hot in the cottage at this point, but it's so much nicer than using the central heating! So this will be in use for a good amount in the winter. Especially after settling in with a homemade veggie curry!

Friday, October 03, 2008

So, a couple of weeks since Goodwood and what news. Well, the weather is now blooming freezing! I've been subjected to the joys (?) of Farnborough this week, which is a nice 1:15 drive there and the same back every day. However as my wife is there too, we've been sharing the driving, which means rolling out the Polo, which is only 7 months old and still mint (groan!). I like driving it, it's amazing but it changes your driving style completely! You can nip into little spaces much easier with it, and it's pretty good at motorway speeds too, though there is a bit of road noise as you would expect. However, this morning we took my car, complete with it's smooth and quiet ride and leather.

It's at this point I worked out just how cold it was, as I sat back onto the leather in my shirt, only to find the comfortable leather replaced by something I can only assume came out of a freezer. Dear lord was it cold!!!!

Off to a wedding again this weekend, so a nice long drive up the motorway beckons...

Sunday, September 21, 2008


For my Christmas last year, my wife got us two tickets for the Goodwood Revival, so yesterday at some ungodly hour for a Saturday we got in the car and went off to Goodwood. The AA reckoned on two hours, we did it in 75...

Goodwood do two events a year, the Festival of Speed which is a massive hillclimb in the grounds of the house, no cars excluded and is a huge event now. Loads of F1, track and rally stars, and has a great atmosphere, we loved it when we went. But this was the first we had gone to the Revival. It's at the Goodwood circuit and it's only for pre-66 cars (although, they bend the rules slightly, if the car was built after that but looked and was mechanically the same, your allowed to run). Everybody makes an effort to dress up too.

Essentially, it's a classic car weekend, so plenty of GP and saloon cars, along with some really expensive motors! I'd never seen a 250 GTO until yesterday, when I saw 4! Two race cars and two road cars (one was apparently Chris Evans, but nobody confirmed it).

Highlights for me were the practice for the RAC TT event, the cars in the field for this race is valued at about $85 million! The pace these guys drive in these cars is full on, no holds barred as it's all ex racing drivers (Brundle was there sharing the drive on Adrian Newey's new toy, a lightweight Jag E-type - which they put on pole), or big petrolheads as most races featured cars from Nick Mason. The other highlight was the last race, which started at 5:50 and finished at 7:30ish. These cars were of a type that raced in Goodwood's old 9 hours races into the twilight, and this was to let everyone see these cars in that same light. Was awesome watching them ping on in that light! Emmanuelle Pirro was flying round in car number 8, an Auston Healey and just thrashed everyone (he lapped he second placed car within an hour!).

Final highlight was the airshow - two spitfires and a Lancaster were the real stars, though the Mustang made a great noise!

Brilliant day, ended a great day by having chips in real paper cones on the walk back to the car park - got home about 9:30 last night with no traffic holdups on route as people had drifted away during the last race so we had an easy trip home. Tired but happy!

Loads of photo's on Flickr, but a sample:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Currently, I'm on a bit of a fitness kick. There is a motivation for this, which is a monetary one, and will be explained later, once the level has been met. This has been helped no end by having a cottage to stay in during the week instead of staying in hotels, which means I can eat properly and not curry and weiss bier all week! I miss the evenings with the team though, and I've not had curry in weeks!

Off for dinner tonight as it's our friends 30th birthday today, he's 30 going on 50 but my suggestion of slippers and a pipe as a present didn't go down well. Some people have no sense of humour!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Well, that was a hectic weekend!

Friday my wife was arriving to our little place in the midlands, and as I had some time to spare I did an Ikea run to Coventry, picked up the things we forgot last time we were there. Which means tea lights, another beside lamp and a foot stool. The place is looking good, just needs a few pictures up to make it feel more homely. Popped out to the pub to meet up with some friends in the village, and the scientific result is that there is a pub equidistant from both places, a massive 10 minute walk. Which is handy!

Saturday morning a bike ride on the Grand Union Canal was planned, which runs from behind the village from Birmingham to London. We didn't go that far, but it's a fantastic place all of 5 minutes ride from the front door. Back in time to watch the qualifying for the GP, before heading to Stratford with friends to see Hamlet, with David Tenent and Patrick Stewart. It was superb, long but once you tune into what's being said it's very enjoyable. Not my usual thing but would go again. Stratford itself is very pretty, obviously a lot of money there! Dinner was in a very nice place called Lambs, on Sheep St. People in Stratford obviously need to work on the naming of things!

Sunday was a bit lazier, bit of shopping and the GP, and then over to friends for a Sunday roast and wine, and a little celebration as it was 2 years since the now wife and I got engaged. Time flies...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Would seem I'm slipping again...

So what changes in 10 days? Well, in the grand scheme of things, not that much! Work's moved on to the new module, which is moving along nicely. Healthwise is a worry, been getting solid headaches most days which the doctor is putting down to tension headaches. I put it down to peering at the laptop screen, so I'm trying not to do that! Seems to be getting better though and not anything more serious. Family health worries no doubt don't help. These things are sent to try us though.

Good result for Scotland last night. I had fears, Iceland is never an easy place to go, but with a bit of a makeshift team the right result came out. Norway at home next, a game you'd think we should win as they only managed a draw with Iceland at home.

Still, it makes better reading than that farce of a Grand Prix result. Amazing race, superb driving skills and very exciting, the best last 5 laps this century even. And then the FIA try and f**k it up by deciding the Lewis cut the chicane and gained an advantage. I'm fed up with the FIA interfering with races in a manner that is not consistent, and nor fair to the viewer. If F1 is a sport, let them race. If it's entertainment, let them race and not become pantomime.

Anyway, an interesting thing came my way about Canon cameras. Turns out, some bloke has worked out how to hack the humble IXUS. The genius bit? It runs on the SD card. Take the card out and the camera is factory fresh. I'll try it out next time I've got my camera nearby. LINK

Monday, September 01, 2008

So just back from a wet holiday in the UK. A few days walking up round Hadrians Wall was certainly very interesting. You forget that there is also so much other Roman stuff up there to look at as well as just the wall. They were also so very clever with their engineering. For example, they built every fort in the same design as visiting soldiers would immediately know where everything was. That's very logical. They were big into the baths, and you can see the same design for the heating of the water in the forts near the wall as we saw in Crete and Cyprus, with elevated floors for the hot air to get underneath. They also had to build water storage tanks and to get the flow right, they built them at the exact height and size to maintain a constant flow. That's genius, and I know plumbers here who could do with looking into that...

A couple of days in the lakes followed, which has some amazing scenery. It's just a shame that so many people go there, it was mobbed in the towns every day, but quietened down in the evening. If you wanted to park and go walking you had to be there by 10 which wasn't an issue for us. The walking is very good though, really enjoyed it.

All in all, a good week, relaxing and nice to avoid airports for a change!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Went to Ikea last night to get some stuff for the new cottage. Why is it you ALWAYS have to buy candles in Ikea? We've still got about 500 tealights (and that's not an exaggeration!) left over from the wedding in a combination of colours, but apparently that's not enough! We usually burn 4 at time, so that's going to take us 125 days to get through that lot. Which is a long way away yet!

The new Verve album comes out next week, but they've put it up in full on MySpace so while I've been writing some slides I've been listening to it. It's epic. Proper old school music. It's good to have them back.

My car is in for an oil service today, so I've got a Mini Cooper Clubman for the day. It's good fun, and the interior is still as classy as ever (although I think there were aspects of the old interior that looked more expensive - a fair amount of plastic in this one on the center console.) It's slightly underpowered for me, I drove an old Cooper recently and it was a real rocket compared to this. But then it does have a lot more doors and no more interior space. It's quite funky though, so if I was in the market for an impractical small car, this would be it :-) It does have some very nice alloys on it though - powder coated black JCW special edition wheels, which are at least £1000. I'm so careful parking it, but why on earth would you fit them to a loan car!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Todays news is that there is no news!

Apparently we are moving desks in the office. Now, I have a nice desk in the office as it gets lots of natural light, which is brilliant. I'm apparently moving to a desk which has no natural light whatsoever in an area where you can't open the windows! Deep joy. But with my current date it's only for two weeks so will see. I'm not really sure why we are moving tbh, people want all the module team together but it's a bit late for that. Ho hum, I'm sure our great and wonderful leaders know what they are doing.

My car is going in for it's service tomorrow, so I'm being loaned a brand new 3 series saloon which is going to be interesting as it's an option for when I eventually replace my current car.

Holiday soon, so plans are afoot for some walking in the north of England for a few days which should be great so long as it's dry! After the honeymoon we decided that we'd probably flown enough this year on holiday so staying local is the plan.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A good weekend, Saturday was spent discovering the local area where the new cottage is. Ended up watching some Olympics on the new TV (it's SO nice!) with some friends who were cooking us dinner on Saturday night. On route we have to pass 4 pubs. We know this as we tried a couple, and have worked out a nice route for one lazy Saturday, which will end up in the Indian at the end of the route. Perhaps one for the forthcoming holiday!

Sunday was spent at Silverstone watching the GT racing. It was a good race, plenty of action with the Ferrari just beating the Viper who ran out of fuel on the in-lap after the race. Morale victory to Aston no 42 though, who was leading for 90 minutes until the driver change and never came back out as they couldn't get insurance for the 2nd driver and of course, no insurance brokers for race cars are open at the weekend. Which is surely a bit of an error on their part! Highlight though was the VW race, where any VW can enter. They are then equalised by weight, so you get a brand new Golf GTi competing with a Jetta, Beatles, Polos and perhaps my favourite, the Caddy van. Hilarious.

Friday, August 15, 2008

So today my wife gets the keys to the cottage that will see us no longer staying in hotels and eating out every night in the week we're away. It's going to be great! The place is ideal, in the village we are looking to move to when we eventually sell up. And perhaps most excitingly, it doesn't come with a TV which means I finally get to buy a big screen LCD TV! So a 32" Panasonic is on the agenda for tomorrow which will then be plugged into the Wii for some big screen Mario action!

I see that one of the North Koreans has been stripped of his medals at the Olympics for failing a drugs test. Which made me wonder - what drugs does someone who won medals in air pistols need to take?!? I assume it's something to stop him getting itchy trigger finger but the last time I did air rifle shooting I was awesome and hit anything and everything I was aiming at, so how hard can it be!!! And it was snowing, with gloves on, so hardly ideal conditions. Olympics? I could have been a contender ;-)

Thursday, August 14, 2008


So with the increasing fuel costs I've been keeping track of my fuel usage (ah, spreadsheets :-)) for the past couple of months. It's interesting reading, as it calculates average MPG and miles per tank. On average, I put in 48 litres per fill, and get 338 miles from that, which works out as an average of 33.9MPG. Not fantastic, but for a large fast coupe it's almost respectable! Not that long ago 30MPG was considered excellent! What is scary is that since the 14th June I've paid out £580 just on fuel, most of which I recover from work as I do very little private miles these days, but it makes you think.

Of course, I could change the car and get a diesel, however no amount of MPG improvements will get me in one as I'm just not convinced that they are any better for the environment than petrol as the particulates are just too unknown. Plus, the additional cost of buying a diesel car and the extortionate cost of the fuel itself would mean any savings are pretty marginal. As such, I'll take a car that sounds great, gives me reasonable MPG and drives better - who wants to change gear at 4000rpm anyway?

In saying that, I'm driving my car a lot more considerately recently, and you know what? It makes nearly no difference to the MPG I get! How crazy is that? Madness to me....

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

So, I've not posted on here in a long time, sorry but things have been manic!

Summary since April? Well, got married (all went really well, had a brilliant day!), went on honeymoon (which also went really well, amazing scenery and animals in Botswana, and amazing food and beaches in Mozambique), went back to work and all back to normal!

Been keeping busy at home with some DIY as the aim is to still move away from London, but the current economic climate may make that tricky, so will see what happens. However we've managed to do all the little jobs to the flat that we've been putting off for a while, so it's all good really.

Family - not seen my folks since the wedding, so we're planning a wee trip up there sometime, soon hopefully.

Work, well it was all going well but the project seems to be taken over by accountants and as such, isn't the place it was. There is a very weird atmosphere at times and it's not conducive to what was a very enjoyable place to work. It seems client knowledge isn't valued anymore, and some very good people have left the project, which is very disappointing. It will be interesting to see what happens, as I'm only covered for another 3 weeks. Can't really say too much more, but work itself is a bit of a disappointing place in general which is having an effect on morale.

Anyway, will try and keep this going again, since I got my new phone (Sony C902) with a cracking data deal, I should be able to do it remotely!

Right, back to the grind...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Well, last post for a wee while as I go off to get married and then honeymoon. The weather is looking like it might just hold for us and everything is in place.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I'm knackered! Yesterday I drove up to Worcester for the last time before I get married. Pleasant enough drive, usual hatefulness of a Monday morning in London though. I'm sure it takes people till Tuesday to engage their brains round here. Anyway a good days work in a quiet office and then a gym trip before heading to a local pub for dinner. However, plan B was quickly engaged as they had just shut the kitchen! So we went next door to an Italian I've driven past for 2 years but never been in. Turns out to be a find, with good traditional Italian food, simply cooked and all fresh stuff. Just what you want!

A good nights sleep was interrupted at 6am by the lorries emptying the bins in the street. Rather than waste the time, I got up and headed to the gym for a workout.

So today I'm feeling slightly virtuous but still knackered! Still, last day in Worcester for 4 weeks is always a pleasant feeling :-)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bit of a schoolboy error this one. Driving the only Aston Martin in existence for the new Bond film, the driver drops it on a bend and ends up in Lake Garda.

Now, you can picture the poor guys dilemma.

I'm on an Italian lakeside road. There are lots of great corners. There are mountains all around to rebound the sound. Maybe I'll just nail it the once. Arrg!!!!!

Bet he's gutted. And very wet.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Photo cube

Take one set of photos, take one template, add a sprinkle of good inkjet printer, and you too can make your own photo cube!


Friday, April 18, 2008

Mr Amazon has let me down.

I ordered two new ipods last week for myself and my future wife. Duly dispatched, I checked my order today to see when they would be delivered. Apparently, they were delivered yesterday by the hugely useless Home Delivery Network. So a call was placed to Amazon as you cannot phone HDN directly. Turns out they had been left on the dorstep. 300 quids worth of ipod left in the street. Is it any wonder they went walking? That's if they were even delivered.

My Amazon apologized profusely, and a case will be opened against HDN and the driver. My new ipod will arrive next week now, first class registered post with no questions - Amazons customer service was brilliant. Frustrating as I will now struggle to get it all setup as I wanted before the wedding, but still, better than nothing.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Now I don't want to get ahead of myself, but it's looking great for another Aberdeen European adventure :-)

A mighty win at Celtic park keeps the dream on track, just when the season was beginning to look flat. The one real benefit of working away from home is that I have easy access to hotels and bars who have SKY sports and Setanta sports, which means I can watch the games!

Now, just need to beat Queen Of The South, who are sitting 4th in First Division in the semi to setup a likely final with Rangers. As they are going to finish 1st or second, we'll get a euro place for reaching the final.

It's important to do this, as the club are planning a major restructuring this summer so European football will be a draw for us, plus the money is always helpful. And as Scotland are so high up the world rankings now, we'll have less pre-qualification to do for the cup as well, which means group stages will be potentially easier to reach.

It just gets better and better!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Busy weekend of wedding activity. Saturday was spent in Brighton, shopping for various presents which went very well. Brighton seems to have a cracking feel to it, I've been there only a few times but enjoyed the atmosphere every time. Lunch was had in Food For Friends, which is vegetarian but don't let that put you off! I had an amazing frittata while the missus had a very good parsnip and goats cheese tart.

Sunday was up early to head to Kingston to buy our honeymoon luggage, as we've only got 15KG each, including hand luggage, for the trip. This will seriously affect the packing! So a lightweight bag has been bought so we can squeeze in those essential extras. It's actually been an interesting experience as we've had to look at everything we are taking with us and how heavy it is, so the camera is much lighter than the other options, same for binoculars and even walking boots! I don't think that I'll need them on the beach, but while out on safari I don't fancy walking in elephant poo in flip flops!.

The rest of yesterday was spent doing wedding paperwork which is very dull but essential. Nearly done though...

Friday, March 14, 2008

A trip to the nations capital today, with the aim of cracking on with various pieces of work. So a meeting room was booked and an early train caught.

So far, all is well, but it amazed me that the office was still dead by 8:45. I'll need to bear this in mind for the future when I can never get a desk! Still, at least the trains were consistent as there were no seats to be seen anywhere. It scares me sometimes that there is an 8 carriage train every three minutes from my station to Waterloo, and yet in the morning every carriage is rammed, every seat taken and people standing up all the way. Usually me. Where do all these people go? Where do they all work?

One for another day to ponder.

Monday, March 10, 2008

So, I've spent a lot of time recently suffering from work overload and personal life overload. It really can grind you down!

Work is mad, trying to get project stuff sorted out, and then on top of that there is the admin. In all my time I swear it's getting worse. This year I'm trying to get a promotion. To do that, they seem to have made it as tedious as possible to put people off. You have three documents to complete, all of which are long and cover essentially the same thing. And you just know it's not going to be worth all the time and effort, the sleepness nights.

Wedding plans are coming on, guest lists still cause grief though. That's the single biggest one just now!

Had a great birthday weekend last weekend, which included my stag do in Edinburgh. It's always nice to catch up with my mates as I don't see them all that often, and they were all on good form. It starts the eternal pondering, why do I live so far away from them all? The answer? So I can get good work on projects (which are great) and complete the mundane paperwork. Which drives you mental.

On the upside, it's less than 7 weeks now until the wedding and I'm getting a bit excited by it now - there is light at the end of the planning!

Right, now back to the paperwork...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A busy weekend that, I'm still recovering!

Friday night was spent in John Lewis, doing gift list things - sounds fun, is actually hard work! So many decisions to make, not helped when your trying to furnish a house you don't own yet (we'll move this year - definitely!). Saturday was spent in London, doing present shopping before heading up to the British museum to see the Chinese Terracotta Warriors. While it was very busy, it was well worth it and really gives you a sense of the scale of what Emperor Qin was up to. You also begin to wonder how many other finds there are in that field in China as they keep finding more and more, the latest being some terracotta musicians and wild birds to keep him amused in the afterlife.

Sunday was spent finishing the gift list which threw up a new object of desire. It's far too expensive to put on a gift list but the sound is incredible and the styling is superb. If you want the ultimate sounds and style for your ipod in the house, this is it: Link Might be treating myself when we do eventually move house for that bad boy! The bass is awesome.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Interesting what you can find on Microsofts blog - this guy doesn't seem sold on the potential Yahoo! deal. (also, how annoying is it to have to0 include the "!" after Yahoo? - almost as bad as "Monday")


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Aberdeen play Bayern Munich tomorrow in the UEFA Cup. It occured that they might, possibly, have a better team that us. Let's look at the evidence, based on International experience:

Kahn (86 caps Germany)
Sagnol (54 caps France)
Lucio (63 caps Brazil)
Demichelis (9 caps Argentina)
Lahm (37 caps Germany)

Altintop (25 caps Turkey)
van Bommel (40 caps Netherlands)
Ze Roberto (84 caps Brazil)
Schweinsteiger (48 caps Germany)

Klose (73 caps Germany)
Toni (32 caps Italy)

1 Langfield (Uncapped scotland squad member)
28 Maybury (10 irish caps)
4 McNamara (33 scottish caps)
5 Diamond (Former scotland under-21 captain)
23 Bus (Eh, nothing)
8 Nicholson (3 scottish caps)
19 Young (Former scottish under-21 player)
6 Severin (14 scottish caps)
27 Walker (Captain of england under-19's)
10 Mackie (1 scotland B cap)
16 Miller (1 scottish cap)
14 Foster (Former scottish under-21 player)
21 Considine (Current scottish under-21 squad member)
22 Maguire (Current scottish under-19 squad member)
20 Soutar (Eh, nothing)
9 Lovell (Eh, nothing)
11 Duff (10 scottish under-21 caps)
26 Aluko (Current england under-19 squad member)
3 Byrne (1 ireland B cap)
7 Ja.Smith (2 scottish caps)
15 Touzani (Former dutch youth player)
17 D.Smith (Eh, nothing)
18 Mair (Former scottish youth player)
24 De Visscher (Eh, nothing)
25 Jo. Smith (Eh, nothing)
30 Kelly (Scotland under-19 squad member)

On second thoughts, let's not...Even their 3rd choice striker has something like 22 caps for Germany.

Well, at least it's on early, plenty of time for drowned sorrows afterwards. Thank goodness for BBCi on red button who are showing the game live.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Now, this is geeky...

This guys has developed software that uses the Wii controller in a variety of interesting ways. The Wiimote is an amazing and very accurate device, and these side projects give you an idea how the technology could be reused. I love the interactive whiteboard!


Thursday, January 31, 2008

Don't you hate it when people don't think about the implications their work? There is a prime example today of understanding the impact of things where people thought it would be a good idea to scan a document. The document is new, however the designer hadn't spoken to anyone about the scanning requirements as they had made some assumptions. Which were incorrect. The people designing the process for the scanning hadn't spoken to anyone about the technical requirements of the scan process. It then comes to the technical people to chase all the answers to get an answer within a day. As per normal.

And you wonder why us techies mock non-techies sometimes?

Friday, January 18, 2008

I try and avoid religion. It's not that I'm anti religious, it's just that it people can take their views very seriously and it can end up in violence - and that's just football crowds who get a bit a drunk, never mind the extremist views some people have.

I came across this video which I found interesting. A Dutch comedian was confronted about some of his satire on a Dutch TV show which was run by three Muslim girls. They took offense at what he said. He responds and expresses it is his right to free speech and they are taking offense when they should just get on with it and deal with it. "Everybody else does it, why can't you?" seems to be the message.

There is an interesting back story to this. Hans was friends with Theo Van Gogh, the director who was shot in Holland a few years ago having made a film about Islamic culture, and this seems to have fueled his ambition to ensure nothing is ever deemed "out of bounds" as to what can and cannot be said in free countries. It's a valid point and one that you can see every day in the UK, with concessions here and there in case it upsets someone, or their religion.


Anyway, I'm not going to preach and say he is right or wrong, but in a free world, people can say what they like regardless of the target. You may not agree with them or their views, but that is what makes life interesting. If we all liked the same thing, it would be a very dull place.

Monday, January 14, 2008

It's always nice to be at home, and this week I'm on a course in central London learning about the application we are building. It seems it will be a good week but the first day is scene setting and most was a recap or confirmation of approach. What was good today was it was my first "hands on" with the product. It has it's own little foibles and tricks, but once you start thinking about how it works it all makes sense and it should be a good week.

What was not so pleasant was the rush hour commute to the city - I've not done it in three years since I left work on a project on the Strand, and I forgot just how many people try and get onto the trains and tubes. It does make you think like the Egg Card advert - for every clever thing that happens in the world (me being at home) there is an opposite reaction somewhere else (the tube journey).

I also read an interesting article in GQ about blogging and that 50% of blogs created every day has the subject matter of the author and his or her life. I scoffed till I realised that's what this was. I might come back to the topic as you could get all deep about this subject and I don't think I can deal with it just now.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


This is one of the funniest things I've seen on you tube in ages - Human Tetris from Japan. What I find really funny is the panic in the faces as they try to work out how to get into the correct shapes to fit through the holes!

Monday, January 07, 2008

I see that you can now book (or very soon) Eurostar tickets online in conjunction with regional tickets. So if you want to go to Paris from York, you'll get it in one place.


Now, there is a very good European site called Seat61, which has tons of information about European train travel. I used this extensively when booking my tickets to go to the World Cup in Germany in 2006 as there is loads of useful stuff on it. However, the ultimate European train site has to be the DeutscheBahn site (LINK)which lets you search every train in Europe (and I've just checked - it allows you to include York in it's search). So why have they bothered to do it? I guess it makes it easier for people, but I don't know many people who book train tickets online. As the online services are not great for train travel, in my experience. I don't trust the train company websites to give me the right price for love nor money - I'd rather buy the single fare to get to London and then do the rest on Eurostar's site.

As an aside, a total journey time of 10 hours and 21 minutes to go by train from York to Dortmund by train is impressive but I wonder how many people would consider it. Take into account the entire travel time to get from York to Dortmund by air (assuming you can fly from Leeds to Dortmund) would be:
  • Drive from York to Leeds Bradford - 1 hour
  • Park and get to terminal - 30 minutes
  • Check in before flight - at least 2 hours
  • Flight - 3 hours (I've not checked that btw)
  • Get off plane and collect bags - 45 minutes
  • Get into central Dortmund - 45 minutes
So, a total there for about 8 hours by air. None of which would be particularly stress free as airports these days are just a nightmare. Compare that to 10 hours on some of the most efficient, clean, well serviced and comfortable trains you can travel on these days. That's worth two hours of my time any day. But I'll bet the ticket to get from York to London costs more than the air fare alone.


Friday, January 04, 2008

Now, I'm a well behaved driver but I take an interest in the speed camera debate as it affects me as a driver. Came across this site, some interesting and knowledgeable people on there, discussing scameras and parking tickets.


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Back to work with a bump today. Quiet day catching up on admin and the activities that have been going on in the world of work. Quite nice to be able to do it all in peace!

Christmas passed with much fun and laughter, though with colds all round it wasn't quite as much fun as it could be. Wii caused much laughter all round - there is nothing like the sight of your 81 year old Gran playing Wii tennis... New Year was a complete washout, the other half managed to get this winter vomiting cold thingy, so we shut the door and packed her off to bed. Not exactly party time! Still, these things happen.

Many days have been spent looking at a new camera to supplement the Ixus we bought in late 2006. This one will be used for long distance and outdoor type shots, leaving the Ixus for indoor type shots in preparation of the honeymoon where we will be on safari in Botswana. Much research has gone into this, and an order placed, which should arrive tomorrow which is rather exciting. The rate of change is frightening - the new camera one of the new breed of bridge cameras with super zooms and has a 18x optical zoom on it. I've been very impressed with it when we tried it in the shop so cannot wait for it's first outing. Next on the hit list is a set of binoculars.

What else? Well, I spent a few days sorting out my photo library on the PC, having run out of disk space and with no upgrade option, having previously filled the spare drive slot with a DVD burner. So an external drive was bought, DVD burning for archiving taken place and a second copy placed on the drive. You can almost see the PC breath out as it gets disk space back!