Tuesday, April 15, 2014


The Gorse Fox just enjoyed a most convivial evening with colleagues. Jean-Luc Picard, Alun-the-Intense and Norbert (from Germany) all came along to the local restuarant where we had enjoyed pizza and a wine last night.

Tonight the Gorse Fox chose tagliatelle with seafood - and was delighted with his choice. Assisted by a nice rioja it eased the slightly sore throat and satisfied a rumbling tummy. If the Gorse Fox has to return he will certainly choose that again.

Day Two - done

Well that's day two of the course complete. The class was far more animated today - particularly when we tried to impose UK working practices. In the end we adapted and follwed Spanish practices which meant a break to go an get coffee at the coffee shop and a 90 minute lunch at a local restaurant. What a civilised approach to work.

Voice is holding up at present, but fear it may disappear over night.

Another colleague has arrived from the UK this evening so no doubt we will head out to dinner as a group

Look who's talking

Half way through day two and GF feels as if he is losing his voice. He is frantically downing bottles of water to try and keep the pipes lubricated.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Day one - done

Well that's the first day done. The class seemed to run well and the students were attentive and engaged.

Capt Picard and the Gorse Fox headed back to the hotel for a cold beer and then headed off to grab something to eat when the restaurants opened.(GF will never get used to this idea that you can't eat before eight in the evening.)

Interestingly Capt. Picard's retirement plan is based on property rental - and he has shown an interest in the house that Silver Vixen's mum lived in.


The course started late - getting our colleagues together is like herding cats. It appears that agendas are merely indicative!


The Gorse Fox  really likes Madrid and the civilised approach to work. He strolled along to the Starfleet offices, then met with his local colleague. We strolled around to the lecture theatre (which is "state of the art") and got set up and ready. Then it was time for a coffee, so we left the building and wandered along to a nearby coffee shop where we sat down over coffee and churros.

Very civilised.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Madrid airport is huge. So huge that we seemed to land and then taxi from Bilbao or Toledo or some such distannt point. The Gorse Fox suspects that the flight time is scheduled based on 90 minutes of flying and an hour of driving round the airport.

Never mind, Gorse Fox arrived early and was esconced in his hotel by 20:20.

On the move

After a quiet morning the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen strolled down to the Old Stables for some lunch. we were early enough that it hadn't become too busy and we enjoyed a very pleasant lunch before strolling home.

Early afternoon the Gorse Fox headed off to the airport for his flight to Madrid. He must say that travelling on a Sunday afternoon or early evening is so much more relaxeing than trying to fight your way out on a Monday morning - particularly the Monday of Easter week. Gorse Fox parked and whistled through security before heading for the lounge to sip a cold drink and watch the planes lining up for take-off.

The next few days should be fun - teaching again.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


It is a day of loss. It started with a trip to the barber where the gorse Fox lost his long flowing locks. It continued with mowing the lawns where the grass managed to lose half its height.

Finally, the Gorse Fox has to lose some of his boys' toys. So it is that he has written to the Stitch Witch and given her a list of all the tools(*) he wishes to pass on to a new home (her husband is an enthusiast and part of a collective of like minded individuals):

  • Router Table
  • Heavy duty router
  • Table saw
  • Compound mitre saw
  • Dust extractor
  • Thicknesser planer
  • Morticer

So finally, as he approaches retirement and would have time to use the tools, he needs to get rid of them because there will not be sufficient space in the new house/garage for a workshop.

C'est la vie.

(*) Gorse Fox should point, for the elimination of all doubt, that none of these tools should be used in quilting or other fabric-based pursuits.

Friday, April 11, 2014


The day started with a teleconference involving one of GF's old colleagues from his last job. It is clear that GF has made a wise move, though evident that some of the news and issues we had highlighted twelve months ago are finally being recognised and a major re-planning exercise is under way. It's such a shame that the arrogance and self-importance of some the so-called leaders is such that they have wasted a year before recognising we were right.

Then Gorse Fox returned to yesterday's exercise and continued to work on some supporting spreadsheets. As he was working he hit a snag and decided the best solution was to do something in a linked spreadsheet that he could then reference. This was complex. This was very complex. In fact it took him several hours of experimentation and deep thought. During these few hours he was interrupted by a series of phone calls. These calls distracted him to a degree.

Eventually, the code was completed and worked. Gorse Fox was feeling very smug. What he had done was really very clever. The problem was that the various distractions had made him forget why he wanted to do it in the first place. So now he is scratching his head, looking at some clever code in a spreadsheet with no idea how or why he was going to use it.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Another Slice of Pi

The new Raspberry Pi arrived in this morning's mail.

Because the Gorse Fox had already prepared the SDCard on which it runs, it took less than 5 minutes to put in its case, attach it to the network and power it up (most of that time was finding a screwdriver to assemble the case).

Current plan is that this will acts as a dedicated appliance to manage the home network and its domain.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


Reviewing the process (or method) by which we help our clients move their data centres, it was clear that there needed to be a "Lite" approach that we could apply for the smaller or less sensitive project. The Gorse Fox has been wading through the material and carving out an accelerator for such projects.

First he has identified those parts of the project that are required for all projects, then he has been chipping away at the other parts, discarding those that may not be necessary for the target projects. Having done that he has now started developing a set of sample documents that could be packaged up and used as templates for such a project. There's still a bit more work to do, but GF is quite please with what has been achieved so far. He can see an opportunity to package the lot together in a single distribution file that can be seeded into each new "lite" project.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


Today has been about the three r's: reading, research, and reviewing.

The problem with working for an organisation the size of Starfleet is that there is always some other bit of work someone has done somewhere in the universe that overlaps what you are doing. The trick is to bring these together and make the most of the hive-mind. GF has been looking at this today as he researched tooling options for our projects in preparation for next week's course.

This, in turn, lead to more reading and with a degree of concern entering his consciousness some serious review (if not re-write) of one proffered document.

As an aside - a second Raspberry Pi ordered this morning. This will run as a dedicated DNS server/cache on our home network.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Marie Celeste

The Gorse Fox had to visit the Starfleet offices just along the coast from home. A couple of meetings were scheduled and he had to return an old laptop. Being the Easter break for most schools, the traffic was light and GF was pleasantly surprised by how quickly he made the journey.

The old laptop was first on the agenda. It has sat in the corner of his current study, and his last study for a couple of years. The hard drive had been cleared and the system shutdown. He was impressed therefore when he arrived at the transfer station to see that when the operative opened up the machine and pressed the button, it fired up immediately - the battery evidently had retained some power over the last two years.

The first real meeting of the day was changed to a telecon as the other invitees all had other priorities that meant they couldn't travel. Meeting was good, however, and for the first time on this subject (tooling) GF felt we made some real  progress.

The afternoon's meeting was the completion of a "Lessons learnt" exercise for a project that was now finished. This turned out to be very interesting as some really valuable recommendations arose.

One thing that GF did notice about the Starfleet offices - they were like the Marie Celeste. What a contrast from Sao Paulo - there they had 3000 people in the building and a huge thriving restaurant. Here, various blocks of the building had been sold off, and even in the oldest residual part there were few people about.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Pottering around

The Gorse Fox has been pottering about on the computers. Some reviewing of the (private) master blog got him thinking. At the moment this is hosted on his MAC - but wouldn't it be better to have a dedicated server?

So he started to look at the Raspberry Pi again and this got hime reading various write-ups and and the results of other peoples experiments. It seems like a feasible approach - but GF still has a few reservations.

  • By default the Pi uses an SDCard as its storage. GF would rather have something more flexible.
  • If he continues to use Wordpress as the blogging platform he will need MySQL for the DB.
  • Should the DB server be on the same machine or should he set up a separate MySQL server?
  • Can he make the MySQL service (wherever he chooses to install it) use his external NAS device as a storage repository.

Lots of thinking needed, and then a final decision that will allow him to continue (fairly) seamlessly and with the data security and protection he requires.

In the midst of this deliberation he did manage to have a chat with Cousteau-cub for the first time in several weeks. It was good to hear from her and learn that, whilst very busy and quite tired, she isn't feeling too bad.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Lost year

As the Gorse Fox continues his occasional burst of transcribing old diaries, he has just realised that he has almost no record of 1984. He assumes Big Brother was keeping an eye on whatever went on that year because GF evidently didn't. Even his photo record for that year was a little sparse.

It was, however, the year that GF joined Starfleet - that much he does remember.


It seemed like time to check on progress.
It has been about a month since we last checked and in theory we should be moving in in about three months.

Clearly the building is watertight, but the decorative tiles are yet to be hung on the right hand side of the house. With the long telephoto lens it was possible to make out some features we had previously missed - and allowed us to start a "snagging list".

It's a shame they have put up that fence as it prevents us from seeing the progress on the ground floor.

We were pleased to see the list price of the house has risen by £10,000 since we paid our deposit(and fixed the price) - so we are, in theory, already making money on the deal.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Tidying up

The journey to Buckingham was, as ever, slow but when we arrived we opened up the house and got stuck in immediately.

The house may not be big, but is was cosy and ideal for a person on their own, or indeed a couple just starting on the housing ladder.

Over the past few years, everything had been done to bring it up to standards - with new insulation, new double-glazing, and Paul had gutted and rebuilt the bathroom with a walk-in we-room/shower

The lawn has taken a bit of a beating over the winter. The lack of direct sun and the incessant rain has encouraged a lot of moss. Whilst it all looks lovely and green, a great deal of it is moss and will need to be sorted out by the next owners. The one advantage of this is that mowing was a lot easier than expected and raking up the cuttings took no time at all.

The Silver Vixen got on with tidying up the raised beds and by mid-afternoon we were done and after a stop to deposit the sacks of cuttings and other detritus at the dump, we headed home.


Today we are heading for the late Mother-in-Law's house to do some tidying up in the garden and if the weather is inclement, the house. The idea is to get it ready to go on the market.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Half day

The Gorse Fox had a busy morning. Notes had come through from a colleague in preparation for a "Lessons Learned" exercise GF will conduct next week. These needed reviewing, tidying up and documenting properly.

Email has arrived from HR. Looks like GF's retirement had slipped through the cracks - so it was a good job his natural cynicism kicked-in and he checked. New HR partner seems to be on top of it though, so hopefully there should be no issues.

AT 12:30, the laptop was closed. It was a half day.

GF did manage to have a quick chat with the Coventry Hobbit. He hadn't seen the Thai contingent online for a while so was pleased to make contact and hear that all was well and things are settling down.

Quiet afternoon started with mowing the lawn. The sun broke through briefly, and GF spent a pleasant hour wandering aimlessly around behind the mower.

Silver Vixen was off to help with the after-school sewing club, so GF was left to his own devices. This meant that he had some time to transcribe a couple of extra diaries and subsume them into his private digital journal (which stretches back to 1965). This was fun and brought back many memories, but did highlight to GF that there are many entries among the 11,500 in the journal that have gone through some conversions that have changed quotes or exclamation marks to strange ASCII characters and need to be sorted out. GF can feel the need for some code.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


The Gorse Fox is back at work. Work, however, is focused on admin today: expenses for the work last month, expenses for the course he was teaching the week before last, and expenses for the Brazil trip. These were then topped off with a request for permission to travel to Madrid to teach again, then on the assumption that permission would be granted, booking the flights and the hotel.

Starfleet is in danger of becoming totally constipated with process... as accountants try to cost and control every instant of the working day. The Gorse Fox thinks that Starfleet would actually perform much better if it spent a little less time worrying about Earnings per Share, and a little more time worrying about its employees and how they are treated. An appreciated and motivated worker will be far more productive than those treated as cannon fodder.

Gf wrote to his new manager and HR today to ensure that the processing of his retirement was under way and had not been dropped down the cracks when he transferred to the new department.

55 working days to go...