Sunday, October 31, 2010

Contact

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen have managed to chat online with Cousteau-cub. She’s evidently keeping quite busy, but they are expecting some major storm activity over the next 48 hours – with 45 knot winds and 4m waves. Must say that it is good that her house is set well back from the shoreline.

Halloween

The Gorse Fox noticed that “the walking dead” is trending on Twitter. That reminds him that he hasn’t commented on Arsenal recently.

Best keep it that way.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Off the rails

Living life on the edge, as practised by the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen, can sometimes throw up some strange sights. Having visited Rustington for some shopping and a haircut - we headed on towards L.A. (as the locals refer to Little'Ampton).

All along the promenade at East Beach they were preparing for the big firework display and bonfire. We had to stroll along this route to get to the East Beach Cafe where we planned to check on their menu and their opening hours for future reference.

The various structures along the promenade all seem to have the theme of railtracks - coloured, twisted, inverted and generally bizarre. However, it is quirky and cheerful and on a bright and warm October afternoon was an interesting subject for a snap.
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Organisation and Methods

The Gorse Fox noticed an item in the daily paper:

“Booze puts one Briton in hospital every 7 minutes”

This seems staggeringly inefficient. If he is coming back every seven minutes, why release him to start with?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Truly Deeply

The Gorse Fox must have been tired. He slept deeply last night and, unusually, struggled to get out of bed. Nevertheless he was still at the home office by 0730 and first chore was to get some expense claims into the system.

The rest of the day was spent buried in the spreadsheet that describes the operational design of the project we are working on.

At lunch GF was graced with a call from the bank manager. She was doing her annual “how’s it going?” call. As usual it was thorough and friendly, and at the end GF was quite happy that he was getting a really good service from the bank. In fact, she may have come up with a good wheeze that may save GF some money. Just have to see how things work out.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Early Bird

The Gorse Fox rose early, went through his morning ablutions, packed and checked out. He strode out into the gloom of the West London dawn and headed for the offices where he has been working. There was a lot to do and he had a major meeting scheduled for most of the day – and early start would be good.

He strode into the building, went through the security point and headed for the office. This is where this well constructed plan fell apart. GF arrived at the office door to find it locked. Nobody else was around, and GF didn’t know the combination.

Some 20 minutes later a colleague arrived and punched the requisite numbers and the planned day could commence.

In the way that things do (or don’t) GF did not achieve as much as he had hoped by the time he headed off for the train and the journey back south. It had been a bit frustrating, but at least he was on his way home. Tomorrow will have to be a catch-up day.

Blogiversary

The Gorse Fox notes that it was six years ago this very day that he made his first blog post. Some 5,300+ posts later he’s still at it. Initially, it was an exercise to “see what it’s all about”, but morphed into a means of dumping random thoughts, observations, flights of whimsy and goodness knows what else. Who knows how much longer it will go on, but at the moment he admits that he is still hooked and has no intention of stopping soon.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Audio

Another busy day. The Gorse Fox had his alarm set for 0700, but was up by 0630 and by the time the alarm tinkled into life was sitting in the hotel room reading the paper and finishing his first cup of tea of the day. He set off for the office with iPod firmly screwed into his ears. Michael Connelly's "The Scarecrow" had him completely hooked and the journey just wasn't long enough. Audio books are certainly a boon, but they do tempt the listener to do an extra circuit or walk round the block a few times to ensure a sensible point to pause.

The day was busy and meetings with Starfleet colleagues proved irritating as new players on the project started asking daft questions as if we hadn't thought of them months ago. There are times when the urge to give someone a slap becomes almost overwhelming.

Back at the hotel GF phoned the Silver Vixen and then settled down for quiet evening in front of the TV or with the iPod.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meetings

The Gorse Fox has been in meetings since first think this morning. Each meeting overlapped the previous one, but to be fair each meeting was very useful in moving things forward.

After work, GF was invited to a drinks reception at the hotel - which was very pleasant. GF then strolled across the road to the Indian restaurant to finish the day with a flourish.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Western

The Gorse Fox has spent the day in West London. The hotel worked out well. It was near to the station and GF decided to try and check-in first thing to save lugging his suitcase up to the office and back. The room was available and the bag dropped off. This also gave an extra 15 minutes of listening to the latest audio book "The Library of the Dead" - this was convenient as the book moved towards its climax.

In the office a lot of of the day was preparation for tomorrow's meeting, but some was fresh research - which is always fun.

After work, GF stopped off at Wagamama for a bite to eat before heading back to his hotel and call home to the Silver Vixen.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Good day, what can we get you?

We turned up at the restaurant. Our table was set and the place was fairly quiet.

“There is a fixed menu today” we were told. “It has been busy during the week so we’ve decided on a set menu”.

Strange, we thought. The menu looked good anyway, so we stuck with it. Starters were ordered and the waitress assiduously wrote down the selection, followed by the main course. She disappeared into the back and we continued our conversation.

After a significant wait the first two starters arrived. Then…. nothing. We called the waitress.

“Err, are the other starters coming out soon? The two brioche?” we asked. “I shall check” she replied and headed back to the kitchens.

She returned and explained that our order had bee written at the very top of the slip and had been hidden such that the chef did not see it. He was now preparing our starters – but there would be a short delay.

Some time later Betty & Barney had finished their starters and ours had just arrived. Everything was back under control Starters were finished and the attentive waitress cleared the table.

Time passed. The seasons came and went.

Eventually the main courses arrived. “Who is having the plaice?” We pointed out Barney and the Silver Vixen. “The Cod?” The Gorse Fox thought that was an inappropriate way to address Betty, then realised she was referring to the other plate.

A moment later she returned, “Pork stew?” she asked. “No – I ordered the pork loin” replied the Gorse Fox. Flustered, she apologised and returned to the kitchen. Barney and Silver Vixen made a start – their plaice was dry and shrivelled. The waitress returned with the pork loin and we explained about the fish. More flustered, she took the plates back.

Fresh plaice was required – but there was only one left – Barney had to change his order.

And so the meal continued – a catalogue of disasters. They had run of crumble…. but made up some more – it was inedible.

When the bill came they had already taken the precaution of removing a quarter of the value – and were profuse in the apologies.

A restaurant that will probably not receive a return visit in the near future (current millennium).

Passports?

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen are heading across country to the heathen wastes of Hampshire to meet up with Betty and Barney Rubble for the first time since our Florence trip. Barney has also been suffering from shingles – but in his case they came out properly and he has been quite uncomfortable. Anyway, all is well now so we are collecting our passports and heading across the county line.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Mesh

Microsoft have recently announced the end of Live Mesh Beta, and its replacement with Live Mesh – part of Live Essentials. The Gorse Fox has been a regular user of the Beta product and so had a migration to perform. This went pretty easily.

  • Stop sync’ing old folders
  • Install new code (which uninstalls the old code)
  • Log in to account (same credentials as before)
  • Add each folder that you want as part of the Mesh from its master copy.
  • Go to all other machines where you used to sync – delete the old sync folders and re-add them.
  • Voila – all necessary folders available on all participating machines and also in the cloud. Changes made on any machine are reflected to all.

Neat really. Particularly if you use a common folder structure and have a separate backup device on one machine that will pick up these changes from anywhere in the Mesh network and back them up to an external drive.

Belt, braces, staples and string.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Moses

Not sure if Moses ever had shingles, but he certainly became well known for his tablets – indeed after dropping one set he had to go back out and get some more.

Well the Gorse Fox has finished his course of tablets and concludes that they must have done their job – the shingles never really came to anything. No rash, no itching – just the initial hyper-sensitivity and pounding headache. All seems well again and he plans to mix with other (non-family) human beings again over the weekend.

They can scoff

Colleagues often scoff at GF’s magic spread-sheet for building operation models / system configurations. Well at lunchtime we received a request to adapt a recent bid. Fairly significant changes were required to the metrics and the basic requirements. The Gorse Fox modified 3 cells to reflect the change – less than 5 minutes and we had a new model.

Most satisfactory.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Telepresence

The Gorse Fox took place in a review this morning. This was conducted over Skype so that GF could see what was going on, and the team could see the Gorse Fox. It went quite well, though there are a number of learning points from the experience.

Updates

Microsoft have released a number of updates to several programs that the Gorse Fox uses. Unfortunately this means that he has a task ahead to configure these updates on several of the home PCs and laptops… but not the Starfleet laptop. Starfleet, in their wisdom, have stuck on Windows XP and these updates preclude use of XP.

To irritate the Gorse Fox, his ADL has been very flaky this afternoon. It won’t stay up for more than a few minutes at a time. GF isn’t sure if this is a BT problem or a Belkin router problem. Time will tell.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Just (another) number

Following up from his post on 10/10/10, the Gorse Fox notes that today's date offers another interesting number sequence. 20:10 on 20/10/2010.

Unconnected thoughts

In a break from spreadsheet meltdown GF has been letting his mind wander across the various news stories of the day.

Chancellor Osborne has revealed the swingeing cuts to the public purse presaged by days of media speculation. It will hurt, there is no doubt. But before the current government gets pilloried by the chattering classes, they should remember that the reason for this action is the economic ineptitude of the previous government and their reckless spending of funds they did not have.

Also in the news we discover that Mr W. Rooney Esq. wishes to leave the Association Football Club of Manchester United. There is great weeping and wailing, hand-wringing, and gnashing of teeth. The Blessed ‘arry Rednapp even joked about having a word with the chairman with a view to bring him to Spurs. The Gorse Fox acknowledges that Mr Rooney has displayed an occasional turn of skill over the previous years, but doesn’t believe that he should be considered for Spurs. He has not demonstrated the moral fibre, commitment, good sportsmanship, or joy of playing the game that Spurs players should display. His reported actions have shown a certain moral turpitude that would be more suited to the Chelsea team ethic and his reported wage demands probably more suited to the mercenaries of Manchester City.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Isolation

And so the Gorse Fox’s isolation continues. This meant that he had to be up early to complete some diagrams and a new draft of his magic spreadsheet so that colleagues would have access as they arrived at work. The rest of the day was spent answering questions from various Starfleet agencies and the afternoon was spent on the phone to the client.

Remote presentation is a skill and to do it properly it does demand some sensible network infrastructure – whilst the Gorse Fox was set up, the client was not. This meant that one of GF’s colleagues had to show the diagrams to client and GF had to talk them through the content. Whilst originally planning to also take them through the spreadsheet – the call timed out. This was probably just as well as remote presentation of a 24MB Excel file could prove to be challenging.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Contagion

Gorse Fox has been advised to work from home this week. Whilst contagion from shingles is limited to direct contact, people that have not had Chicken Pox may be susceptible. As he can work from home quite easily, it makes sense to do the responsible thing and stay put.

RIP

Benoit Mandelbrot died this weekend. He was one of the greatest mathematicians of the 20th Century and won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of the mathematics of fractals. The Gorse Fox never met him, and frankly the maths were beyond GF’s understanding, but GF does remember that he sent him an email, many years back… and despite his fame and the demands of his job, he took the time to write back with an explanation of whatever the query had been. GF wonders if he can dig the email out of his various archives, but suspects not as it was probably the late 1980s or very early 90s and GF was using a different email system then.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kick it, slap it, switch it off…

In the old days, intransigent animals were coaxed into obedience with a smart lash of a whip; children with a stroke of the cane; machines were coaxed into life with a kick; televisions with slap on the side; and computers were switched off and switched back on again.
It seems that the house subscribes to this vintage approach – possibly as a result of its age. Powering off the whole electricity supply to these hallowed halls allowed the circuit to be reset and then powering back on the circuit remained in place and all was well.

The Devils Juice

Electricity is nothing short of magic. At this particular moment it seems like black magic.

The Gorse Fox tripped a circuit breaker to allow safe working on a light switch. Examination of the switch showed it to be ok, so he tried to switch the circuit breaker back on – nada! So this malevolent magic has decided to play dirty and tease the Gorse Fox with its intransigence. Could well mean we have no lights in the kitchen until GF gets its sorted (or finds a man who can).

Cosh

Gorgeous sunny start to the day, here on the coast.

The chemical cosh that is a mixture of paracetemol and ibuprofren seems to have got the Gorse Fox’s ear/head/face-ache under control. He feels a little fuzzy, but other than that seems ok. Hopefully the early diagnosis and the 5 times-a-day regime of anti-virals has stopped the shingles in their tracks. He has to phone the doctor in the morning to decide on next steps – a consequently whether he can go to work without risking infecting other people. (Seems to be a mixed view as whether shingles is contagious).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

But…

The Doctor spent some time with the Gorse Fox, listening to his symptoms and examining his ears. His conclusion was that GF may be coming down with shingles. Gorse Fox acknowledges that he lives near the beach, but never thought of this as a significant risk before.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Pain

The Gorse Fox has been hammering away at the keys all day. Progress has been good despite the escalating ear-ache that he has been trying to ignore. Enough proved to be enough and he has resorted to making an appointment with the doctor.

Meanwhile he hears that his sister has succumbed to a cold and so the planned meet tonight has been postponed.

Probably just as well.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Good News

The Gorse Fox should not let today pass without commenting on the astonishing mine rescue in Chile. It is wonderful that this potential disaster has turned into such a triumph of the human spirit and resilience of both the trapped men, and the engineers fighting to free them. It was one of those moments when the world held its breath and maybe even wept a quiet tear of happiness at the release of emotions as each miner reached the surface.

These were brave men. Men of faith. The Gorse Fox wonders if men without faith could have sustained themselves throughout the ordeal the way these men did.

God Bless them all and their families and loved ones. It was a great day for human-kind.

More of the same

The Gorse Fox regrets that he has nothing new or startling to report. He has been neck deep in diagrams and spreadsheets and hardware specifications all day. Whilst some (including the Gorse Fox) may find this interesting – most would would find it uncomfortably tedious.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Diagrams

The Gorse Fox was lucky enough to work from home today. It was just as well as he was seriously busy. The new information from teh client needed to be adapted into the GF’s spreadsheet and in turn the information into a diagram that illustrated the design. This is not complete as it is taking significantly longer than expected.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Again out West

The Gorse Fox was again out in West London today. As he wandered past one of the coffee stations he overheard one the the staff reading out a Union poster calling on them to strike. She made approving comments. Then in her next breath complained about the tube strikers. The degree of hypocrisy would have been  breathtaking if it had been anywhere else.

Good meeting during the afternoon and it looks like Starfleet has a significant opportunity. GF even managed to get away at a sensible time and got home in time for the football.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Out West

The Gorse Fox started the working week by heading out to one of his client’s sites in west London. This made a change as he hadn’t been there for several weeks. Since the last trip the Starfleet office has been moved – and very much for the better. The new office on the first floor has about five times the space of the old office. The only drawback is that the wireless network is very flaky up there.

At the same time as this was coming to the boil, the Gorse Fox was also being put forward for some further work in a completely different industry sector. Looks like it could be a busy few weeks coming up.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Any old Port

The Gorse Fox managed to make contact with Cousteau-cub. At first things looked iffy as Skype kept rejecting the call on the GF’s computer. Then he got the Silver Vixen to fire up her machine and contact was duly made and we had a lovely chat. It would appear that the wind has changed direction as the monsoons come to an end, but that has left the sea very choppy and she is glad that she hasn’t been out for a few days.

Now GF just needs to sort out Skype again – this is, no doubt, a by-product of his moving the port selection to avoid a clash with his WAMP set-up and he guesses he’ll just have to to make do with the interference and change the settings back to the default.

Just a number

Today is, apparently, auspicious for those who believe in lucky numbers and assign credence to superstitious claptrap such as numerology, astrology, homeopathy and other ridiculous ideas. If all has gone well, this post will appear at 10:10 on 10/10/10… a nice binary timestamp equivalent to 682 (if the Gorse Fox’s maths is right).

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Chatting away


This is just an experimental post , I am trying the voice input from the phone . It seems to work well , though it is limited to short phrases.

Own Devices

The Gorse Fox has been left to his own devices whilst the Silver Vixen goes to a grand meeting of covens at the Ally Pally. She was up and out early this morning in order to catch the coach that would be saving on broomstick emissions by collecting a host of her patchworkers, embroiderers and necromancers from Broadwater.

GF is occupying his time with a bit of a tidy up in the study. Not the full-blown chaotic blitz that would have ensued if Urban-cub had been here – more a case of tactical management and strategic relocations.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Old Friends

The Gorse Fox had to visit a potential client in London. It meant that he could work at home during the morning and prepare then whizz up to London for the mid-afternoon meeting. It turned out to be interesting, particularly when the client informed the Gorse Fox that he had been recommended by an ex-Starfleet colleague now working with the client. Looks like an interesting project… but GF will have to see whether the contracts are affordable and profitable.

The Silver Vixen was out when he got home – the planned curry, a scotch bonnet, a naan and the microwave made short work of dinner. A Weissbier seemed an appropriate lubricant.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Reviewing

The Gorse Fox had to catch the early train – though not the one he expected. He had forgotten that they swapped the London Bridge and Victoria trains first thing. It doesn’t make a huge difference to GF – a slightly longer walk, but no change of trains. Arriving at the station he grabbed a bacon roll and munched away as he walked along the Thames (using the path, not the surface – just in case you were in any doubt about his powers).

GF arrived at Starfleet to review progress on a project he had been working on earlier in the year. The review was the first of a series of such exercises over the next few weeks. This first one enabled an overview of the programme as it is now planned. At this level, things are looking sensible, though there is clearly plenty to do.

The Gorse Fox headed back to the station and remembering from years gone by headed for platform 9. Memory being what it is, he was lucky and the right train turned up where it was meant to be. Unfortunately GF was at the end of the platform expecting it to be a 12 coach train like it used to be. Eight coaches pulled in and GF was standing alone by an empty track. Striding purposefully back he slipped onto the first carriage and settled down for the journey home.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Little successes

It’s the little successes that make you realise that you are3 making progress. The Gorse Fox noted, mid day, that the Silver Vixen’s new phone had suddenly picked up the femtocell signal. She had 5-bars… a miracle here. Now that it’s clear that the magic box works he has spoken nicely to t-mobile to get his old phone unlocked so that he can switch it for his work phone. This will mean that he will be able to get a decent signal for work calls, at last.

GF has spent much of the day preparing and adapting and re-preparing and reformatting a couple of slides for the Abbot’s use next Monday.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

New stuff

It has been a quiet day. The Gorse Fox has been reading and researching to provide input to another project that the client has dreamed up. This will again take many months to reach a point where some degree of agreement could be reached.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Sure

The Gorse Fox has been looking at the Office for National Statistics. It’s not just because he’s a geek… it was triggered by a discussion with the Abbot and this demanded some research. As the research needed to cover England, Wa;es, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and Isle of Man the ONS was not sufficient. He also had to dig through the Scottish Assembly and Welsh Assembly sites, Google, Wolfram Alpha. The frustrating thing was that even though it was single set of figures that he was after – each different source seemed to hide them beneath different departments, different phrases and general obscurity. In the end he got the info required for all but the Channel Islands. In all, pretty successful.

As a side issue GF continued to troubleshoot the Vodafone Suresignal femtocell. The problem he had been experiencing was obviously widespread and not limited to home. Eventually, some degree of function has been achieved… though still not as strong as expected.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

On the Grid

The Silver Vixen has advanced on the grid. As off this afternoon she has become the proud owner of an iPhone. The usability and simplicity of the phone was the clincher when it became clear that the old phone was beginning to give trouble and clearly needed replacing.

GF also bought a Suresignal femtocell. This should significantly boost the phone signal at home, which up to the present has been almost non-existent. Time will tell if it does the job… but if it does we will be most satisfied.

...and relax!

Urban-cub just called. All is well and they are returning from the hospital.
These little family crises are there to keep you on your toes.

999

Early morning call from Urban-cub. Not well. Needed her mum. Fastest GF has seen the Silver Vixen move since someone threatened to take her tea bags.

On their way to A&E.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Living life on the edge

After a good night’s sleep and a leisurely look at the newspaper the Silver Vixen announced that we needed a new clothes airer. The Gorse Fox could hardly contain his ecitement as he poured through websites looking for suitable models that could replace the trusty clothes airer that we has given such sterling service for the last few year. Should we chose a tri-deck rack, a concertina rack, an over-bath, or what? Most importantly would it have a feature that permitted the outboard hanging of shirts on hangers? This was not going to be an easy decision.

Eventually, web-sites exhausetd we headed for traditional shops and compared the various offerings. A choice was made, and airer purchased. All was well once more. The excitement abated. We could relax.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Strictly

The new season od Strictly Come Dancing has just started and Bruce Forsythe has been released from his crypt again. The Gorse Fox noticed that the cat immediately turned away and started to lick its backside. This seems like a suitable criticism – wish the Gorse Fox had thought of that!

Trains and boats and plane

Ok, scratch the boats and planes.

The Gorse Fox seems to have spent all day on trains, leaving Angmering at 0533 and getting to Stockport just before 1000 where he was picked up by a colleague for a meeting at his house along with another colleague from Germany. Then back at 1427 it was onto the tram to Manchester Piccadilly and at 2010 he walked through the door – home at last. It sounds horrendous, but actually the trains all ran to time and the journeys were trouble-free.