Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rhinebeck

The Gorse Fox notes that Chelsea Clinton is marrying in Rhinebeck, NY and that guests will be staying at the Beekman Arms. Gorse Fox knows Rhinebeck and “the Beek” well having stayed there many times in the days when he would work with Starfleet colleagues across the Hudson in Kingston.

One of the most charming “villages” that  GF has visited in the USA in one of the most picturesque areas of the mid-Hudson Valley.  Without a doubt one of the most enjoyable times of his career.

Ghost in the Machine

The Gorse Fox, being away all of last week, carefully shut down his home computer during the period of absence.

Today the power button was pressed and the system fired up. All seemed well up to the point that the GF received a Blue Screen crash. This turned out to be the first of several crashes that occurred during the day.

The Gorse Fox seems to have acquired a malevolent ghost in the machine.

Regeneration

Regular readers may remember that the Gorse Fox was disappointed that, after several years excellent service, his last Canon printer expired. Not totally – the scanner still worked – but anything that required printing was out of the question. A bit of a drawback for a printer.

He replaced said printer – and the new Canon multi-function printer took over the sterling work of its predecessor.

Today, due to an old setting in a browser a file was sent to to the expired printer. It sprang into life and printed the file.

Evidently it had not expired, it was not defunct, it had not ceased to be, it had not shuffled off this mortal coil, it had not gone to meet its maker, it had not become part of the choir invisible, nor was it pushing up daisies – it, like a Norwegian Blue – was merely resting.

Friday, July 30, 2010

NE Hants

A glorious morning saw the Gorse Fox pottering inland from the coast, up over the South Downs near Arundel and through Fittleworth and Petworth towards the heathen wastes of Surrey, before looping back along the Hog's Back and Blackwater Valley to today's exciting destination in North East Hampshire.

Review of significant project about to start.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Show and Tell

Starfleet is looking to increase its complement of troopers. GF was working on an Assessment Day. This was fun as the as the Gorse Fox had to invigilate a group exercise – like playschool – checking that the potential recruits can play together nicely and that they can understand the story that they were given and could come up with a solution to the problem described in the story.

During the afternoon he had the chance to interview three of the potential recruits. Interesting how different they were. As usual there was one candidate who knew it all, there was one who was an output only device, and there was one who was very promising.

A good day… and several offers being prepared.

GF managed to head back to the south coast at the end of the day – but the journey was fully occupied with preparation for the review that GF has to conduct in the morning

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Udon noodles

It has been another capital day at Starfleet. the Gorse Fox has had a varied assortment of tasks ranging through a similar gamut as yesterday. The developing Excel model has reached a level suitable for a second draft to be released.

Once back at the hotel GF skipped across the road and settled in to a local sushi and noodle bar. This turned out to be a surprise on many fronts - it was called the Tortoise and the Hare for one. That somehow seems more appropriate to a pub. Then there was the  din. It was very popular and the noise inside was astonishing. By the time GF left there were people queuing outside waiting for spare tables. In summary, a fine establishment well worth several return visits.

Phoned home to check all was well. Urban-cub was still suffering from the tooth extraction, and SV was uncomfortable such that she  ignored today's Pilates class.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Clammy

It's hot and steamy in London tonight - we could really do with a good thunderstorm to clear the air.

For the Gorse Fox it has been a varied day - development of what we refer to as non-functional requirements, people reviews, programme resourcing, briefings, teleconferences and further development of a spreadsheet that will define how the systems we are designing will actually come together.

Travelling to and from work the Gorse Fox's iPod was tucked in his belt and leaked more of his current audiobook into his ears to drown the clatter of the rolling stock as it pottered back and forth along the District Line.

On a family note: GF's thought are with Urban-cub who had a wisdom tooth removed yesterday.

What is it about the Network Connection in this Hotel... they always seem to give trouble.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Gorse Fox's period of working from home has drawn to an end. Today finds him working on the south bank of the Thames and staying in an hotel near Olympia. The day was chaotic as Project A, project b, coaching, and management responsibilities all fought for the Gorse Fox's attention.

Tomorrow should be less troublesome as he should be able to concentrate on just one or two activities.

As the working day drew to an end GF headed for the tube with an audiobook playing into his consciousness, bought his Oyster card (which pays for tube and bus travel), and burrowed under London to Olympia. Eager to optimise his time he dropped into the local Pizza Express for a morsel to keep body and sould connected and finally checked in to his home for the next few days.

Silver Vixen had heard from her mum and despite the best laid plans, it seems unlikely that she will actually be able to come and stay next week. Shame really as the good weather in the south would surely have done her good.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Words, salt, pepper

Gorse Fox may have to eat his words. Said celebrities just seen driving past.

Gossip

Sunday papers speculate that we may be getting new celebrity neighbours. Be interesting if we do – the Gorse Fox observes that they can be assured of privacy and discretion here. He isn’t convinced by the speculation, however. He feels that with their high profile jobs in London the commute may prove too much.

Awash

The ritual clearing of the garage revealed that we had an indoor tap from which a hose could be run for cleaning cars or the watering the front garden. When clearing up last night, however, the tape did not appear to work.

When the Gorse Fox achieved consciousness this morning he wandered down stairs and was immediately alerted by the sound of running water. Evidently the tap did work and had not been switched off properly yesterday. Water had been pouring into the garage throughout the night. Fortunately there is slight slope to the floor and much of the water flowed out under the door and down the drive… but at least half of the floor was still awash.

Ooops.

Snub

The Gorse Fox was pleased to see that the pugnacious lickspittle who goes by the name of Ed Balls is thinking of quitting the race for Labour leadership.

A word of advice – quit public life, and live in obscurity. The country will be a better place.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tribunal

Hah!
Garage cleared.
Two RAV4 fulls and one Passat full of recyclable rubbish. Spent so much time at the Recycling Amenity that the Gorse Fox is on first name terms with the operatives, and has been invited to their Christmas Party.
Garage is now so tidy that we have called in the rent tribunal with a view to raising the rent on the spiders and domestic creepy crawlies.
Chinese feast ordered from local purveyor of Far Eastern delicacies. Mouth watering, patience running low… 15 minutes to wait! Unconscionable.

Picket Lines

Spiders and other domestic creepy-crawlies had formed a picket line. They marched back and forth in front of the garage door waving placards demanding better living conditions. There were two options for the management– bug spray, or clean the garage. In a fit of unexplained brain activity synapses misfired and the Gorse Fox and Urban-cub got started on the big clearout.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not smart

Schools break up, the sun is shining, the exodus begins, every car in the south east is on the road. Against this backdrop the Gorse Fox has to drive to West London for a meeting that started at 1500 and finished at 1700.
Perfect recipe for getting to know the inside of your car. Pah!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rainbow



Self-defined rainbow. GF was a bit slow to get to his camera... the rainbow was fading. A few minutes earlier there had been a further rainbow outside the curve of this one, and the beauty of it was that (where we were) it wasn't raining - though it must have been in the air, just not making it to the ground.

Fleeting clouds

A cloud scudded across our blue skies. It was obviously lost because for about 90 seconds it rained on us. Then it checked its GPS and headed up north where it belongs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Drawing to a close

Another good day draws to a close. The sun has been shining, the seaweed scents the air, and a faint breeze has ventilated the Gorse Fox’s home office. Work started a few minutes after 7 and has just finished. The day has seen the recent plate-spinning and juggling continue as one project heads towards a milestone and another launches in anger.

Not too much of interest unless you want a discussion of the use of dynamic indirection using Match() and Offset() functions in Excel.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Smell of Seaweed

The Gorse Fox had to spend the day in Starfleet’s London Office. As mentioned yesterday, one of the clients has finally sent out their Statement of Requirements and it was time have a first pass through the document to work out how we might respond, and who from Starfleet we would need to involve.

With this finished GF returned to his spreadsheets and the work for his other client. This was again interrupted mid afternoon with a series of teleconferences with Starfleet’s research labs in Israel and in Tucson, and the Media team in New York and Washington.

The call with Tucson was the best – GF had forgotten how much fun it was dealing with the product development labs directly. All the questions get answers, and the thinking behind what may appear to be arbitrary decisions is revealed. (Also GF has great fondness for Arizona, and managed to chat a bit before the business discussion started).

With all of the calls, GF left later than planned and picked up a later train. It was such a pleasure to get home and get the smell of the seaweed wafting up from the beach.

Monday, July 19, 2010

To Do lists

It has been an interesting day, starting with an early teleconference that resulted in the Gorse Fox taking on some more work – convinced that it had some chance of success in the resulting case. Having done that, everything went on hold whilst he switched modes and worked on some the mid-year reviews for his team.

You can tell the GF is getting busy when he resorts to using To Do lists. As a rule he can juggle all his commitments and necessary activities in his head. It has now got to overflow point, however. The To Do list came out and he’s pleased to see all but 2 items were dealt with – and the two stragglers were not urgent.

By mid afternoon GF was back in spreadsheet heaven, and he remained there for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. Meanwhile emails had been drifting in. Amongst them was the news from another Media company that they want Starfleet to come up with a proposal for them. This is what GF has been waiting for and preparing for in the background. So, he needs to read the brief and head up to London in the morning to discuss how we respond.

And in confusing news we learn today that Syria is banning the Burqa and that Indonesian Muslims have been facing the wrong way as they prayed.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Exchequer

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had a nice day in the distant wastes of Hampshire. Betty and Barney Rubble had opened their garden to the public last weekend and will again next weekend… but this week it was our turn to meet up and pop  out for lunch.

Lunch was meant to be a fish feast… but arriving at The Exchequer we found that they didn’t serve their fish menu on Sunday. That was a pain, but we made do.

Lovely afternoon sitting and chatting in their garden.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Ingesting

It has been a quiet day and the Gorse Fox has been fiddling around with more old videos. He’s pleased with how much he now has online though there must be at least a dozen more tapes to handle (though these all require conversion by convertmyvideo.com )

The Silver Vixen received a package of software in the post. The Gorse Fox leapt to her aid and installed the upgrades and the the new software accordingly.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Best laid plans

It was another working day – and GF was working from home. The advantages of working from home are legion:

  • No wasted travel time
  • No fuel costs
  • No random passing conversations
  • Very few interrupts
  • Very productive

But… sometimes you plan the day and things just don’t work out. The team leader for the work on one of the TV companies decided that she wanted extra input to several sections of the document to be delivered today. This meant that the planned tasks dropped down the stack and the Gorse Fox got on with it.

Then there was a late-planned conference call that consumed a further 75 minutes that had been set aside for something else – things were not going well.

The final call of the day, however, was GF’s responsibility. It was scheduled for 60 minutes and with him in the chair it lasted 32! Twenty-eight minutes recovered of the several hours lost.

Meanwhile, whilst these calls were proceeding the Gorse Fox was able to set the other computer up to ingest more videos… and he was delighted that the DVDs from convertmyvideo had turned up – and several more hours of 1989 were committed to digits.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Answer, my friend…

The Gorse Fox observes that there must have been a lot of people greatly relieved. Last night’s winds battered the south coast – and if the answer was lying in the wind many people found satisfaction.

Today has been another day in the home office. It was fairly frantic to start with, completing the textual and diagrammatic changes that had been discussed the night before. Once that was out the way there was a little more time to do some research and thing about the next question – how much will the proposed plans cost.

Whilst working away at the laptop, the Gorse Fox’s main home PC has been chugging away, ingesting old video tapes. Progress is slow, but it’s nice to have all these clips of film online. The Gorse Fox can feel some genuine opportunities to embarrass the cubs may not be far away!

Upgraded the trial version of the Pinnacle video editing suite to the fully licensed version. Gives some really nice features that GF will have to exploit in the future.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ringing

The Gorse Fox should not complain. He had the pleasure of working at home… but the price he had to pay was a four hour teleconference during the afternoon.

The firewire cable that he ordered from Amazon turned up. This meant that this evening GF has been able to import some of the DV video from his collection into his computer. This is just an experiment at this point – but he wanted to see whether he had the right cable and see what the various tools he has would achieve.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And here is the News

After the debacle of yesterday’s 4 hour journey back from London the Gorse Fox was pleased to be working from home today. He is busy collaborating on a document that has to be delivered on Friday. Progress is fairly good, but there are still some significant gaps. He fears he may have to step in and fill them at short notice.

He’s also been discussing a project for another TV company with one of Starfleet’s labs. They had an interesting project to pitch… but the Gorse Fox (though impressed) suspects the timing is wrong.

Managed to chat with Cousteau-cub online earlier. She’s suffering from sciatica at present – so not too happy. Having said that, she’s been offered a new house to rent – and is quite excited by the possibility – as long as the finances work out.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Delays

Train journey home disrupted by what the railway euphemistically call trespass on the line. Driver admitted someone had been electrocuted.

See... electricity is not to be trusted.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Players

With the Final of the World Cup approaching in just over an hour, the Gorse Fox would like to provide his retrospective:

  • It was a shame England were knocked out so early – but they cannot complain, they didn’t deserve to go further.
  • There seemed to be less diving and cheating overall during this tournament – but it needs to be stamped out entirely.
  • Referees need to remember that football is a contact sport. Touching or tackling an opponent is not, of itself, a foul. (Bring back Dave Mackay and Billy Bremner)
  • Video replays and/or goal line technology must be introduced to assist the referees.

The Gorse Fox would like to make the following awards:

  • Player of the tournament,  was Diego Forlan of Uruguay. He played with grace, intelligence, and skill. He remained good humoured throughout, always playing with a smile on his face. He scored some of the best goals of the tournament, and he lost with dignity. A true gentleman, and a role model.
  • Best Pundit, was J├╝rgen Klinsmann who spoke better English than most of the native English commentators, was incisive in his analysis, and showed a real intelligence.
  • Best Coverage, the BBC by far.
  • Most Incomprehensible Pundit, Emmanuel Adebayor.
  • Worst Commentator, Clive Tyldesley. In fact even if he hadn’t been there he’s still be the worst. Full of fatuous irrelevance and unable to let the game speak for itself.
  • Best World Cup Discussion, Baddiel and Skinner’s podcasts.
  • Most Petulant Losers, this award is a tie between Brasil who resorted to some disgraceful behaviour when they lost the lead to the Netherlands (just as they did in the last World Cup against Turkey) and Portugal who seemed out of their depth, clueless, and subject to diving fits.
  • Most Amusing Team, obviously goes to the French.
  • Most Over-Hyped Team, is of course our own England.

Sparks

The Gorse Fox is just reporting in to reassure the readership that he survived.

Now, at his age you may assume this is just relief at waking up to another summer’s day. He can’t deny that is a bonus.

More pertinent, however, is the fact that he had to “do things” in the proximity of electricity. Being a technologist you might assume that GF and electricity are on first name terms and that he revels in constructing his own power stations and so forth. This is far from the truth. To the Gorse Fox electricity is nothing short of dangerous magic that mysteriously pervades the wires that circle the house – and is just waiting to leap from a socket and consume your very essence at the slightest provocation.

Wearing rubber boots, rubber gloves, and wielding insulated tools he ventured to the garage and selected a circuit breaker to disable. Checking that the sockets to be replaced were inert and the beast within, sleeping. The Gorse Fox proceeded to mount new wall sockets to replace old, cracked ones. Satisfied that the mechanical nature of the job was completed to his satisfaction he returned to the circuit breakers and re-ignited them.

There was no huge flash. There was no bang. All remained under control… and the Gorse Fox had survived another adventure with the forces of electricity.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Transcoding

Transcoding is a term used in the media referring to the conversion of sound and/or video images from one format to another. Last year the Gorse Fox used a service from http://www.convertmyvideo.co.uk/ to transfer some old Video8 tapes to DVD. The service was superb and GF resolved top work his way through his back-catalogue of family videos to convert them all… and promptly forgot!

This week, whilst looking for something entirely unconnected with video he came across the two tapes that were converted last year. This acted as a stimulus and the Gorse Fox has just dispatched two more tapes for transcoding.

Why bother? you may ask. Well the problem is that tape does degrade over time and it would be a shame if some of these masterpieces were lost… but more to the point GF no longer has a device capable of playing them – so converting them to a DVD format will prevent further degradation and also ensure that they can be watched or perhaps edited.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Local Politics

As any regular reader (in their continued attempt to solve insomnia) will know the Gorse Fox sits on the local Parish Council. He usually finds this an interesting experience and he feels it is a small way of putting something back into the community.

Every now and again, however, you come up against the less pleasant side of local politics. Without going into detail, yesterday was just such a day and it is clear that the politics of envy did not die with the demise of the last discredited government – but some vestiges of envy, so wish for vanity projects, and some propensity to bully live on in small pockets around the country. One such pocket is evidently closer than the Gorse Fox would deem pleasant.

What is interesting is we have run a series of consultations within our Parish – and so have a very strong view as to what our Parishioners want and the position they wish us to take on their behalf. It will be interesting to see how things pan out.

Temps Rising

As the temperature continues to climb, the advantage of living by the beach is hammered home. As colleagues complain of the heat the Gorse Fox sits in his office with a gentle onshore breeze taking the discomfort out of the heat.

Today has seen the Gorse Fox frantically working on the compilation of a strategy and roadmap for a major transition in a TV company. This has occupied his little grey cells since first thing. Now, he has metaphorically put his pen down and will consider the evening ahead. The Silver Vixen has left to join her coven for the evening – apparently some visiting entity is coming to demostrate some new technique or skill. (How hard can it be to ride a broomstick? or wear a black cape?)

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Awayday

The Gorse Fox has been to one of Starfleet’s facilities West of London. Various top brass were on hand to pass on various communication regarding strategies, plans, and opportunities. The Gorse Fox, who does not have a cynical bone in his body(*), can find these events a little irksome, but confesses it was well pitched and actually a good use of his time.

Parish Council meeting scheduled for this evening. The Gorse Fox can hardly contain his excitement.

(*) True. Check Grey’s Anatomy – of the 200+ bones in the human body, none is identified as a cynical bone, though there is, of course, a funny bone!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Progress

The Gorse Fox notes, via the BBC, that scientists have found stone tools in Norfolk. It shows that despite their remote geography they are beginning to evolve.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Throwbacks

The Gorse Fox happened to be near the BBC buildings in London this morning. He had to chuckle as he was approached by one of a band of throwbacks from the ‘70s. Dressed like 1970’s Polytechnic lecturers one of the group steeped forward and tried to thrust a Socialist Workers Party leaflet into his hand. the leaflet demanded a strike over suggested changes to their compensation and pension packages.

With a polite smile, the Gorse Fox looked him in the eye and suggested politely that he should “Get real” and that his existence may have just evolved as far as the “Cretinous” level.

This seemed to take him by surprise as he sttod there open-mouthed as the Gorse Fox continued on his way.

Monday, July 05, 2010

It’s for you

The Gorse Fox seems to have spent the whole day on conference calls. GF does not like telephones much – so a day like today rarely reaches very high on his list of good days.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Cross referencing

It has been a good day. We managed to have a long chat over Skype with Cousteau-cub and catch up with all of the gossip and goings-on in Koh Lanta.

Gorse Fox likes information to be consistent and, if possible, cross referenced. He has spent some time today cross-referencing stamps in old passports with photos and missing diary entries. This has thrown up some necessary corrections and interestingly a trip to Los Angeles in 1988 of which the Gorse Fox has no recollection. Troubling!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Press Record

The Gorse Fox is recording the Argentina-bs-Germany quarter final. He’ll watch it with the Silver Vixen when she gets back.

Listening to stuff

Whilst the Gorse Fox has been doing his chores he has his iPod tucked into his belt as he listens to and audiobook. It’s strange – “reading” whilst doing other things. GF has always thought of reading as being a mutually exclusive pastime. With the audio books, however, it is possible to make the most of time where things have to be done – and still consume some books. It does tend to be slower that page turning, but it does work.

Doing stuff

The Gorse Fox was left alone as the Silver Vixen headed into Worthing to meet with her coven. By the pier the locals prepare ducking stools in case any of the coven are caught – but they tend to be careful and few have ever been captured.

GF made use of the time by finishing the reconstruction of the trellis work started a few weeks back. Then, it was time to lay a second coat of oil on the decking, as started last week. This has given the deck a rick gold colour – but GF would have preferred it if it had stayed clear.

iPhones

The Gorse Fox saw this quote:
iphones are so "New-Labour"
Made him smile. Made him realise that is a "cult" as much as anything.

Dinosaurs

As the Gorse Fox reads this morning’s news he discovers an article in the Telegraph that clearly shows evidence that there has been another dinosaur find. In this last 18 months or so, there has been a rich vein of dinosaurs (metaphorically) crawling out of the wood work.

There has been the BA cabin crew – best paid in the industry – complaining when the Company needs to change some of their working practices because of the change in financial circumstances resulting from the credit crunch. So these dinosaurs strike – losing the company many millions of pounds.

We have seen the execrable Bob Crow (£140k p.a.) calling for “general action” over pay freezes in the Public Sector and changes to their pension arrangements. Wake up! Smell the coffee! In the Private Sector this has been happening for several years and you don’t get pay rises unless you have earned them. There was an article in the Daily Mail last week talking about the Planning Department of a local council and the attitude to absenteeism and work in general. The Gorse Fox has never seen anything like this in the Public Sector and suspects it is grossly exaggerated – however he does know of one significant organisation where there are typically 25% of the staff off-sick at any one time.

And now we hear about the BBC. The BBC announced that proposals to dramatically cut back its “gold-plated” pension scheme, including closing it to new members, that will ultimately save £50million a year. After talks with the BBC broke down on Wednesday, the broadcasting union Bectu warned that a ballot on strike action is likely.

Now let us remind ourselves why we are in this parlous state. The previous government sold the gold reserves at the bottom of the market, failed to do anything to regulate the risk being taken by the financial sector, and robbed from private pension funds in a way that made Robert Maxwell look like an petty shop-lifter. Now we are all having to pay for this – but some groups, namely those supported by the big unions who have slavishly lapped at the Nu-Labour table – feel that they should be exempt from the pain imposed by their masters’ incompetence.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Not Samba

The Gorse Fox has just watched a recording of the Brasil-vs-Netherlands game in the World Cup. He had been expecting a good game with some mouth-watering football.

It was a good game but the “Samba football” of the old days seems to have morphed into a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous. Brasil were fine as long as they were leading but unlike the old days they were niggling and nudging and raking whenever they could and when the Netherlands equalised, then went ahead they lost any semblance of discipline.

Shame really. Well done Netherlands – well deserved win.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Blue Sky

It was another glorious start to the morning. Bright sunshine bathed the South Coast as the blue fitted every square inch of sky. The trip to town was uneventful and the meeting in the morning was fruitful

AT lunchtime the Gorse Fox swapped between his two current projects and spent the afternoon dedicated to the second. He had bumped into the Commander for this piece of work and took the opportunity to show here the progress that had been made and to ask if anyone else in the team was actually doing anything other than wringing their hands and saying it was difficult and that the time scales were tight. It will be interesting to see if anything changes!

Call centres get a fairly bad reputation. The Gorse Fox had need to call Sky’s call centre this evening. For some bizarre reason the channel allocation had switched from BBC South to BBC London. Whilst the process for correcting this was fairly lengthy a very nice Indian gentlemen explained the process and before too long everything was sorted. Well done, Sky.