Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Prey

There are things that you don’t often see… and watching a sparrow hawk swoop into the front garden, try to perch on a rose bush (and fall off), then strut across the lawn before swooping off low and fast, is one of those.

Grindstone

GF is back at work after the Bank Holiday and has been enjoying the challenge of coming up with a solution for the new project and crafting it into the ever evolving spreadsheet.

Monday, August 30, 2010

More dilithium crystals Cap’n

One of the external drives that contributes to this West Sussex data centre has failed to spin up. Lights were on, but nobody was at home, so-to-speak. A little debugging and cable swapping got the Gorse Fox to the point that he has isolated the problem to the power supply… and by switching with an older drive’s supply has now got both running again. New power supply ordered from WD, but obviously this is a problem as it is the second time this has happened.

Cloudless

Bank Holiday Monday – a cloudless blue sky covers the south coast. A gently breeze sighs in the trees. The only sound is that of the waves rhythmically stroking the shoreline. The sort of day that makes the soul soar.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spanish Gravitational Anomaly

It is clear, watching “la Liga” (the Spanish Football), that there is some form of gravitational anomaly that stretches from Santander to Mallorca. It appears that as two humans approach each other near a ball one or both humans are likely to fall over and clutch various parts of their body (dependent, no doubt, on where the gravity was greatest).

(Where are Billy Bremner, Dave Mackay, Nobby Stiles and Stuart Pearce when you need them).

Incisive Comment

The Gorse Fox is watching Spanish football with the Silver Vixen. Barcelona are looking impressive and David Villa has just scored. We are getting incisive comment from the Sky commentator.

“That’s the difference. If that had been Ibrahamovic he might have missed that, or he might have scored”.

There are times when the commentary and analysis is just so insightful!

Legal downloads

Why is it so difficult to find a source of legal downloads of TV shows and even movies?

The Gorse Fox wanted to watch a show that had been recommended to him – and whilst many versions can be found online, the only one that he has any real faith is “legal” is that provided (at a small price) through iTunes. All the other versions seem to be p2p downloads or streams. GF wants to be able to go to something like BBC iPlayer – select ANY episode (not just recent ones) and download a show or movie which he can then watch as often and for however long he wishes (i.e. it does not expire). He also want to be able to view it on his PC, his phone, or his TV depending on how the mood takes him and whether he watching alone, or with the Silver Vixen, or whilst travelling.

For now, he has capitulated to the evil Skynet Apple, and downloaded from iTunes.

Makeover

The Gorse Fox thought, that after nearly 6 years of this blog, it may be time for a makeover. So he’s switched the background themes and screen layout. He may change it further, but thought this would be an interesting start.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

George and Dragon

It has been a lovely day – the weather was bright, sunny, and warm and the company of Betty & Barney Rubble exquisite as usual.

For lunch we headed to the tiny village of Burpham and the”George and Dragon” where we had a very, very good lunch. The menu provided a wide and mouth-watering choice of dishes and the service was friendly and attentive but not obtrusive. After the meal GF lead his companions on a short walk round the village before we returned to the car and home.

Visitors

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen are expecting visitors. Betty and Barney Rubble will be making their way across from the wintery steppes of Hampshire to the sun-kissed beaches and rolling chalk landscape of West Sussex.

Lunch is booked in Burpham and good day is expected all round.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Stealth

The Gorse Fox has made up his mind and ordered his new car. Looking at the spec, and the predominance of dark tinted glass in the panoramic roof, rear windows and rear screen it brings to mind some form of stealth fighter. As it is build to order, GF is not expecting it any time soon.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mile High

The Gorse Fox made his way to town. The rain was not as heavy as forecast and the journey was trouble-free. He made use of the time reviewing nominations for awards. Only one more to go before he submits his evaluations.

The morning was spent immersed in getting to know the details of a new project. Not rocket science, but interesting, nonetheless. The afternoon saw a meeting with some potential partners from a company in Denver (Mile High City), who were eager to explain what they can do to help. This was followed by a further meeting with potential partners from Basingstoke who, in turn, were eager to show where they could fit in. Looks like it could be an interesting jigsaw… and as the state of chaos and anarchy continues on the main project, this was a welcome distraction.

The meeting meant that GF was later leaving the office than usual – and this meant that he missed his usual train. The later train was an absolute zoo – packed from the off, with people standing all the way down to Hove or Portslade. GF was lucky to have been on of the first on and managed to get a seat.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cowering

Despite a fabulous start to the day, the south coast is now cowering under dark clouds and driving rain. This is a meteorological error and should not be happening in this location. The Gorse Fox will not repeat previous comments regarding where this sort of weather belongs, but would just alert you to the fact that we do not have an area known for its lakes nearby, nor do we need to wear flat caps and talk funny.

The day has been spent, as usual, split between GF’s two clients and some reviews of some of Starfleet’s recent technical achievements – GF being one of the evaluators for some forthcoming awards. GF must admit that Starfleet has some clever troopers scattered around the UK and Northern Europe.

GF experimented with the spreadsheet that has been the focus of his recent “day job”. It now exceeds 11MB, so he opened it up in Open Office and saved it back in the native ”.ods” format – 11MB dropped to a smidgeon over 1MB… and everything still works as before. Impressive.

Back up to town in the morning – briefing for another project.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Burning funds

It was a strange day as the Gorse Fox headed up towards the western part of London to spend the day on the client’s site. Why there? Well, just in case they finally agreed to the meeting we have been trying to arrange.

As it happened (and as expected) they were still no nearer making any meaningful progress or decisions – though it goes without saying that their internal politics are hugely active and Starfleet is merely a pawn on the edge of the board.

GF spent a couple of hours on the phone listening in to a clarification session with another client – at least this one is making progress.

The journey home was made more interesting by meeting with a neighbour and catching up on the trials and tribulations of his house improvements.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Firehose

The Gorse Fox has been on a conference call… well maybe broadcast would be a better choice of words as the leader of the call was an output only device and left the Gorse Fox with the distinct feeling he’d been standing in front of a fire hose for a couple of hours.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Virtually There

The Gorse Fox has been looking at various options for Virtualisation on the home PC. This will allow him to run further “systems” without needing further hardware.

He has VMware Player and Virtual Box and has tried out various options from Bitnami for images or appliances… however they seem to favour Vmware – and GF wants to concentrate on Virtual Box as his hypervisor.

It seems strange looking at hypervisors from these companies given that Starfleet built their first hypervisor for hosting virtual machines back in 1967… and GF used to be the country specialist for the systems in the 1980s and enjoyed several internships with the development labs at the time.

Talking of virtual presence, we managed to get a good Skype session with Cousteau-cub. The weather there is improving, but it is still low season so she has more time on her hands than normal. Bruno, the dog, is smelling sweet after a hot shower and shampoo and the Coventry Hobbit was preparing to talk with his family.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Type cast

The Gorse Fox notices that the BBC is reporting that “John Prescott warns Labour Party faces Bankruptcy”… well there’s a surprise. They bankrupted the country and it seems entirely appropriate that they have now found they can’t balance their books either.

Ah that’s better

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen presented themselves at the desk of the nice man from VW. As arranged a new Passat CC was waiting and a few hours of test driving were on the schedule. The weather was grey, miserable, wet, and basically inclement but the Gorse Fox consoled himself that one day he may need to drive up in the North or in the Midlands so the test was still valid. It is better to be sure!

The comparison with the test drive of  Thursday was a case of chalk and cheese. The engine and transmission in this was so refined and responsive – and the fuel consumption clearly better. Still a long lead time on the build to order option, but GF needs to get something on the books.

Final decision in the next few days.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Rounding off

The week rounded off with a series of slides and accompanying animations for a client event next week. The laws of the Universe, being what they are, dictated that the other client also wants the attention of the Gorse Fox on the same day, at the same time. GF’s view is that it is first come, first served so he has resolved that.

Afternoon work was punctuated by the sound of aero engines as planes headed for Shoreham to participate in the airshow this weekend. Unfortunately the cloud was so low that GF couldn’t see what they were, but hopefully he’ll see some of them at the weekend.

GF managed to exchange messages with Cousteau-cub during the day. Isn’t instant messaging a boon? All is well in here corner of Thailand, though they are still getting some impressive storms overnight. Both she and the Coventry Hobbit have been teaching Divemaster courses so have been busy with plenty of diving this week.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Coincidence

The Gorse Fox notices, coincidentally, that 2 days ago someone searched on Google for “Tom Cruise lives in Kingston Gorse?” and arrived at this blog. What can he say?

He understands the confusion, but confesses it is not Tom… it is just the Gorse Fox.

Mobbed

After test driving the Avensis this morning, the Gorse Fox was not really any closer to a decision. It was comfortable and well specified, but the diesel engine lacked refinement, and there was a background whine from either the transmission or the turbo charger. Practically it neither ruled itself out entirely nor popped to the top of the list.

This afternoon we headed for Chichester where we had a nice meal at a |Chinese restaurant and then went to the cinema to see “Knight & Day" with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Thoroughly enjoyable (if somewhat implausible film) with plenty of action and humour – and the scenes in Seville were very familiar as we picked out location after location that we recognised.

We would have got away quicker but were (some would say understandably) mistaken from Tom & Cameron as we left and so had to spend time proving that we really weren’t, leaving disappointed autograph hunters and paparazzi at the door of the cinema as we headed for the car and the A27.

To Everything, turn, turn, turn

There is a season, there is a time to be born, a time to die, a time to plant, a time to reap,  a time to kill, a time to heal,  a time to laugh, a time to weep… but today is a time to celebrate. It was thirty seven years ago this very day that the Silver Vixen married the Gorse Fox and so, as is traditional, he has taken the day off so that we can spend the time together

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Homing in

The Gorse Fox has to make decision regarding the future of his current car. The lease is about to expire and he has not yet decided whether to keep the car, or replace it – and if he replaces it, what should he replace it with. This exercise typically takes place every three years – but always takes time. Thinking goes something like this:

Features

  • It has to be reliable and comfortable
  • The seats have to suit the Silver Vixen
  • Practically it needs to have Automatic transmission and a diesel engine
  • It needs to be relatively inexpensive to maintain
  • It needs to be in a sensible Road Tax class
  • Needs to be a comfortable saloon as Silver Vixen already has a practical RAV4

Choices

  • BMW – the Gorse Fox begs your pardon, but just what sort of person do you think he is?
  • Mercedes – nice cars, possible contender, but pricy.
  • Lexus – no, the Gorse Fox sometimes needs to carry more than a sheet of paper in the boot (trunk) – and again pricy for what it is.
  • Saab – aah yes, superb car – but recent corporate history makes him a tad cautious, but GF (and the Silver Vixen) would admit that the Saab was the best car he ever had. Servicing, however, and tyres were very expensive.
  • Toyota – possible contender. Nothing flashy, but GF doesn’t need flashy. Possibly a little cramped in the back but worth a test drive.
  • VW Golf – GF enjoyed his Golf, but it was a bit small – if extremely economical.
  • VW Passat – GF has had two, and they have been brilliant. Current model is end of life and new model is not yet announced so residuals would be a problem
  • VW Passat CC – astonishingly good looking car, more economical than current Passat, a serious contender. A test drive is in order.
  • Audi – excellent cars, nice build quality, but test drive was disappointing in the A5. Certainly not worth the price differential over the VW Passat CC.

Variables

  • Starfleet will provide GF with a car, or
  • Starfleet will provide GF with an allowance
  • Car scheme is changing but details not announced and won’t come into effect until Feb ‘11
  • GF’s current allowance is fixed for next 3.5 years
  • With retirement in 4.5 years, GF will probably hang on to the car at the end of the lease.

Decision needs to made in next few days. Suspect the decision is already in the bag, but need to perform “due diligence”.

Headline

Headline in the Telegraph "Luke Wilson fails to turn us on".... the Gorse Fox can think of several old Starfleet troopers who may chuckle at that. Though he was always referred to as Luke Networker back then.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chaos

There are those who believe that chaos is the default state of the universe. It is clear that it is the default state of the client with whom the Gorse Fox is working... as dates slip by three months and meetings get arranged in one email and postponed in the following email.

True Colours

The Gorse Fox noticed that, at the weekend, John Prescott accused Alan Milburn of betraying Labour by working with the coalition to ensure the poor were treated fairly in the upcoming cuts. It just shows that John Prescott (like so many of his Party) is a bitter and twisted idiot who was in politics for the power and not for the good of the nation.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Empty carriages

It must be another key holiday week as the Gorse Fox had a very comfortable journey up to London today – and again on the trip home.

The morning saw a review of the current bid strategy which seemed to go well, the afternoon saw the preparation of slides for a client meeting before spending some time talking with Starfleet’s Tucson lab.

The journey can be a bit of a pain – but you can’t beat the comforts of home.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lazy

Gorse Fox has had a quiet day – he spent some time helping the Silver Vixen with some formatting and diagrams for some sewing instructions she was preparing.

Keeping an eye on the net he looked for Cousteau-cub, but evidently the recent internet problems on Koh Lanta haven’t yet stabilised.

Whilst he has an hotel reserved for next week, he hasn’t yet decided whether to commute daily or stay up this week… he’s leaning towards the commute option.

Yummy

The Gorse Fox chuckled as he prepared supper. A neighbour had had a children’s party – the pool maintenance team had been in, the wine had be delivered, and the balloons and fancies turned up. Slowly the road filled up with pristine Mercedes and BMWs as a catwalk of Jocastas arrived.

The Gorse Fox only really noticed as proceeding were coming to an end, however. As the Yummy Mummies escorted their Jocasta back to their car. The YMs were dressed down to the nines – a masterpiece of studied casual. Snakeskin high-heeled boots under spray-fit designer jeans,  Hackett polo shirts (with collar up, of course) snuggling beneath just the right knitwear.

Oh well, it takes all sorts.

Random thoughts to start the day

Good start to the season by Spurs - scintillating display - thwarted by Jo Hart.

Nice dinner with Urban-cub last night to celebrate her birthday last Tuesday

Video editing of last weekend's family day completed and uploaded to YouTube for family to watch.

Need to decide about new car... and submit order (or not, depending on the decision).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

More Lucid

The Gorse Fox is a happy bunny (to mix mammal metaphors) - Lucid Lynx is now working on his old machine - which now starts up in a matter of a few seconds whereas before it would take several minutes to get to a point of being usable.

This post is being written from the system by way of a milestone.  Now, one of the reasons the old machine was "retired" was that it had become unstable and would crash a lot (Evil Knieval's version of Camelot), GF wonders if this wholesale rebuild will have sorted out that also. Time will tell.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lucidity

As the Gorse Fox sat in his study marvelling at the peace and quiet and the absence of moaning and whingeing from nearby secretaries he cracked on at pace with the configuration work he has been pursuing. Alongside his laptop, two further machines were glowing as they were put through their paces – the main home PC ridding itself of Norton 360 (for now) and installing Windows Security Essentials – and the old machine trying to rid itself of old files and install Lucid Lynx (the latest Linux distribution).

The afternoon was punctuated by the weekly call regarding candidate selection for Starfleet’s Technical inner sanctum This is beginning to get frustrating as the candidates and their coaches fall behind on the preparation of their cases.

Lucid Lynx, meanwhile, is turning out to be Irritating Install as the installation keeps failing at the same point – even with freshly downloaded images and new copies of the CD and attempts from multiple CD drives… GF thought the whole purpose of this latest distribution was simple installation.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Escape

The Gorse Fox was up early and boarded the first tube of the day from Olympia. The bright lights of Starfleet’s office beckoned as another day began. It was to proved frustrating as the client nonchalantly shifted the dates back by three months – thus adding significant expense to everyone’s bid, and to their own acquisition.

By mid afternoon GF was heading for the train so that he could do his civic duty and attend the Parish Council meeting scheduled for the evening. It was nice to travel in the relative calm of the afternoon rather than the usual scrum of rush-hour.

Parish Council planning committee was pretty straight-forward.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Good'un


GF has had a good day. His hotel, though remote from Starfleet, turned out to be fairly handy for the client's offices. The morning was spent designing system layouts and the afternoon in a meeting with th the client, who seemed keen to hear what we had to say.

A stop at Wagamama seemed a good diversion on the way back to the hotel and the televised England game... let's hope we win.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

oops, concentrate now


The trouble with listening to audio books whilst you travel is that your concentration wanders. This is how the Gorse Fox found himself heading the wrong way around the Circle Line and arriving at Notting Hill Gate.

oops

Strap me down, mother.

The Gorse Fox has the estimable pleasure of working in an open area in the Starfleet offices. He has given up the office of last week for the opportunity to sit with "the team". Unfortunately the bay in which the team is situated is surrounded by other groups. Nearby is a bay which is home to several secretarial or administrative staff. As the day has progressed the Gorse Fox has become more and more aware that one of these trolls is a whinger and she has spent all day wandering about from victim to victim moaning and whingeing about everything from her pinboard to the lack of water in her desk plants.

The Gorse Fox feels a need for a baseball bat and a moment of temporary insanity.

Felicitations

A number of years ago, on this very day, the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen were blessed with the arrival of Urban-cub to enrich our lives.

Happy Birthday, Urban-cub

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sushi

The Gorse Fox had a pleasant treat. Instead of eating by himself, one of his colleagues decided to make the the journey to Olympia and join him for sushi and noodles at the Hare and Tortoise.

As before the food was excellent, though there was a bit of a mix up when GF ate his colleagues starter before tucking in to his own... a further starter ordered and equilibrium was restored. GF had ordered three dishes in all, but with his accidental extra starter ended up with 4. At the end of the meal he heaved himself to his feet and waddled back to the hotel, leaving his colleague to the vagaries of the transport system.

Retirement

The newspapers report that both Paul Robinson and West Brown has decided to retire from England International duty because they were not getting enough games and it was time to give way to the youngsters. The Gorse Fox has been considering this and decided to follow suit. An email is now on its way to FA Headquarters to explain that he too is withdrawing from England International duty... but wants no publicity.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Away day

Family picnic scheduled for today for the Silver Vixen’s brother, sister, nephews nieces, cousins and so forth. Should be a bit of fun. Hallway is slowly filling with insulated bags, crates, thermal boxes, portable chairs and other paraphernalia. May need a trailer to carry it all.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Drains up

The day started with the realisation that we had a blockage in the drains from the kitchen. This is not the first time, and GF suspected he knew where the problem lay. Grabbing his keys he headed acrsoo to Chichester and the “never let you down” Screwfix store where he picked up some plumber’s rods for a few coins of the realm.

Back home the drain cover was lifted and the inspection cover was lifted. The rods were pushed and jiggled, pushed and turned, but the expected rush of water never materialised. Returning to the drain with another set of rods GF plunged and jiggled, plunged and twisted and lifted the filter from the bottom of the drain. This had become clogged with leaves and was providing a successful seal. Once shifted the water drained away and all was well. A little chore, chored.

Next it was time to catch up on expenses. Starfleet has this concept of a “work life balance”. This means that work for them for how ever many hours it takes to do a job, and you balance your other administrative tasks in the time they mockingly refer to as “life”. With administrivia complete GF returned to the crashing computer. He installed an additional backup tools to take a copy of the main drive – just in case his subsequent interventions caused further damage. EASEUS seems to have taken a good copy and Belarc’s Advisor has provided GF with an inventory of what is installed on the machine.

He notes that some MS automatic updates were applied this morning and that he has not had a crash since. Coincidence? He hopes not… he really doesn’t want to go through a rebuild.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Chaos continues

As the week draws to an end the chaos continues as the client has changed the parameters of the bid. The day has been filled to the brim with things that would only interest a geek… so GF will refrain from elaborating.

Was hoping to have some spare time to solve the blue-screen crashes on main house PC… but despite an online chat with Norton Support the problem continues.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Chaos

The Gorse Fox is often amused by the chaos imposed by procurement rules for public bodies. Frankly the process is broken, it is costly and is probably the reason so many public IT projects fail. It is certainly a huge cost on the bottom line by adding 6-9 months to the process – costs both vendor and client and seems to frustrate at every turn.

Today was meant to be a “clarification session” in the latest procurement. At the last minute it was postponed because the client has gone into an emergency huddle to reconsider. Hey ho!

Anyway, GF is now back home on the coast – so all is well.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Law of Sod

The Gorse Fox joined colleagues at a pleasant hostelry in Camberwell. It was a necessary stop to check on the quality of their ales before heading off for something to eat. The restaurant that we had chosen was opposite the hotel in which the Gorse Fox has been staying this week, and so the Gorse Fox thought it sensible to drop off his bag before rejoining his colleagues at the restaurant.

He approached the lift and joined the queue of two people waiting. "This must be the slowest lift in England" he observed after a few moments. One of the companions nodded. He gave up and headed for the stairs. The Gorse Fox waited, and waited. Eventually he too gave up and headed for the stairs.

Arriving at his room he inserted his key card. The light flashed green and the Gorse Fox pushed the door. It had decided to do an imitation of a wall and stayed firmly closed. He tried again, the light flashed green again. The door remained wall-like. One further try had the same result.

The Gorse Fox headed down to reception and explained his plight. The head receptionist gave him a withering look and told him to "wait there". She disappeared round the back and fetched a master key card and some physical keys. "Follow me" she instructed.

We headed back to the lift. Evidently it would not dare keep her waiting and opened its doors instantly. We head back to the room. "Show me" she instructed. The Gorse Fox repeated the procedure. The door remained shut.

She tried. The door remained shut.

She tried her key. The door remained shut.

Then she took a more direct approach - she inserted the key, turned the handle and charged the door with her shoulder. The door burst open. "Well there you are" she said, turning on her heals and walking out - flustered. The bag was placed in the room, and the Gorse Fox returned to join Deep Blue and another colleague for a pleasant meal in the restaurant across the road.

Raring to go.

The Gorse Fox is in the office and raring to go. Plenty of work to get through and an early start is always the most productive way to may inroads into the backlog.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Don't mention the...

The Gorse Fox started the day with another staff review. This trooper is set to retire later in the year and pangs of jealousy crept up on him several times during the discussion. However the designs he is working on at present are quite a challenge and actually are making each day really interesting at present.

GF spent the day working with a colleague from Starfleet's German organisation. This enabled him to get to the bottom of several of the recent questions that had been troubling him regarding the underlying software that will make up the solution.

On the way back to the hotel, GF dropped into an Indian restaurant he had tried once before. It was, like last time, very good and certainly value for money.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Pass straight along please


The Gorse Fox is back in Starfleet's London base. It has been a good day with staff reviews, design work, and meetings with colleagues over some of the design choices. Not the sort of day that would hit the 10 o'clock news, but quietly satisfying.

GF is staying at a new hotel, to him. Seems ok - though the room is cozy (i.e. small). Not sure yet what the interet connectivity is like so GF is assuming that his phone will be coming to rescue as it so frequently does.


Sunday, August 01, 2010

Bug Check

Well the bug checks have continued on GF’s desktop PC despite regressing to an earlier restore checkpoint. GF wanted to spend some time solving the problem but regrettably had some Starfleet work to complete. Thus he spent the day at the laptop completing his write up of Friday’s review. This took significantly longer than expected and rather ruined the day.