Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Drinks are planned for the team this evening. GF will join them briefly, but probably not for the whole evening
This is where GF should trust his gut rather than his eyes. By the time he was dressed and leaving for work, the rain was snow and it was beginning to settle. Doh!
Monday, November 29, 2010
It was cold and the Gorse Fox was less than thrilled to be returning to the metaphorical coal face after last week's holiday.
The skivers who work the tubes were on strike and it was threatening to be a naff day. Despite the efforts of the tube strikers, GF managed to get to work on time. Unfortunately several colleagues were delayed so the review he was planning to conduct had to be delayed by an hour.
In the end the review took about four and a half hours and went well.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
When the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen arrived home they found that a number of lights around the the house had popped. This meant that a trip was scheduled to the local DIY emporium and a number of new bulbs and lights acquired.
Once fitted, it was time to check that last week’s emails. That was important as there had been a chance that tomorrows review might have been cancelled. But it wasn’t.
Good comeback from Spurs again as the beat Liverpool 2-1 at the Lane.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Some retro-blog entries should be posted later - discussing the exploits of the past few days.
Friday, November 26, 2010
We set off south towards Holsworthy, where we stopped to meander round and look at the quaint little market town. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t allocate too much time for this, as the town was really quite small and 10 minutes or so was adequate to get a feel for the place.
Leaving Holsworthy we headed west towards Bude where we picked up the aptly named Atlantic Highway. This, GF should explain is because it runs alongside the Cornish coast, not because it crosses the Atlantic. Anyway, the plan was to stop off at a number of the villages along the coast. and to grab some lunch in one of them.
As we reached Delabole the snow set in and for several miles GF drove into significant snow flurries – he was beginning to wonder about the sagacity of a journey such as this when he popped out the other side and everything calmed down.
Parking at the top of the hill, GF and the Silver Vixen strolled down into Port Isaac, which even on a grey day such as this was very picturesque. Because it was such a grey day, it was also bereft of visitors.
We wandered around looking at the nooks and crannies and the pathways and alleyways that made up this fishing village, made famous most recently by the Doc Martin TV series. It was very different at this time of year, with hardly a soul about – except for a couple of fisher-types at the bar of the local pub (one sporting a mullet rarely worn in public since the 1980s).
Talking of the local pub, we stopped off for a coffee and baguette for the Silver Vixen, and a crab chowder for the Gorse Fox.
Leaving, after lunch, we headed back up the hill and got caught in quite a downpour before getting back to the car. Good jobs we were dressed for almost any weather eventuality.
The drive back was meant to take in Tintagel and Hartland Point, but the snow started falling more heavily and it was beginning to settle even on the main roads. Gorse Fox, believing that discretion is sensible in such conditions. stuck with the main roads and headed back up towards Bideford and then looped back down to the resort and the apartment.
(Have managed over 50mpg for the last few days – GF is very pleased).
Late last night the phone signal and 3G signal seemed to come back. GF left it until the morning to exercise it. It seems stable but very very slow. Some posts that he has prepared just won’t get through and will have to wait until he gets back home.
Another bright, but cold start here in Devon. No firm plans for the day yet.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
From the manicured order of Rosemoor we headed northwards, gross the River at Barnstaple and winding our way towards the north coast.
We parked up and strolled into the village. The temperature had dropped and a vicious wind made it seem colder still. Wrapped up warm we continued down towards the village.
As villages go, Lynmouth is not big. In fact it only took ten minutes to see most of it. It is very picturesque and dwarfed by the cliffs under which it nestles. At the top of the cliff (up a funicular railway) there is the main town of Lynton.
The weather encouraged a brief stop for some tea and cake at one of the small tea houses before we returned to the car and headed back south to the apartment.
The sun was bright, but the wind was cold and the temperature stayed around 3-4C all day. As planned we headed for Rosemoor.
Rosemoor was only some 20 minutes away from the apartment so we were soon in the car park where GF tested his 3G dongle. Satisfactorily it connected immediately, but unfortunately the signal was so weak that he couldn’t really make use of it!!!
Once in the grounds we started to wander around. They were evidently very proud of the squashes they had grown and had them laid out on a table for all to admire.
Well, when GF says “all” he means the two or three people hardy enough to be out admiring the gardens at this time of year.
When the sun hid behind the clouds that were scudding across the sky it was quite chilly, but whilst the sun was out the gardens looked bright and inviting, even though it was approaching winter. Gorse Fox’s camera was playing up (probably because of the cold) and was taking ages to switch on and even longer to power off – despite a new set of batteries,
Perseverance paid off and GF was pleased with many of the shots he did manage to get.
Many would argue that the gardens were not at their best, but the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen enjoyed having them to ourselves and got to admire the form, the structure, and the underlying texture and colour of so many of the exhibits.
Tour done, a coffee was the next priority and this was followed by a visit to the photography exhibition that was on in the lecture hall. GF was a little surprised by how few exhibits were being shown, but was blown away with the quality of the displays.
In fact the saga continued. Whatever they did to lift the content lock seemed to lose the use of the phone signal strength indicator dropped from 5 bars to zero, no calls, no internet, nothing. Expensive land-line call tried to deal with problem and GF continues to wait for a signal and promised call-back. He wonders, in passing, whether their attempted fix/reset cleared his account roaming settings and consequently can't pick up the Orange signal he had been using! He called the man from t-Mobile to explain his theory, but this was discounted and GF was told the problem was a fault in their network and that there had been no service in this post code area for 3 days. GF tried to explain that there had up until 1700 the previous evening, but the it was evident that facts were not in line with the script he was following. GF gave up for now and resigned himself to remaining off-grid for a while.
Meanwhile, steady rain has hammered to the apartment throughout the night and continues to fall this morning. Tentative plans of yesterday have been ditched and a new plan developed which should keep us essentially undercover.
The new plan was to head for Exeter and wander round the shops and town, generally. The journey was not to troublesome, but the first stage did involve many miles of single track roads some in terrible states of disrepair. Never mind, we got there and parked without incident. We started to wander around and GF saw a t-Mobile shop. He headed for door his phone was now working properly, but the dongle was still apparently dead. The nice man took the dongle and tested the SIM only to find it was dead but in exchange for just a few our fine English pounds to top up the credit, he exchanged the SIM free of charge. GF should now be fully back on the grid. A couple of quick posts from central Exeter showed this to be true so the tour of Britain's retail outlets continued.
We took lunch in a tapas restaurant near the Apple store iTortillas, iGambas, iChorizo, iPaella and some coffee; then we continued round the Guildhall Centre and so forth. When we had seen all we had set out to see we headed back north to Bideford for a quick stop for supplies before returning to the apartment.
Back at the apartment GF's phone dropped to zero service again, and the refreshed dongle remained stubbornly inoperative. Given that it had been functioning in Exeter, it was clear that problem was localised after all. GF is grid-ready, but his sector of the grid is dead. Meanwhile, GF should point out that Silver Vixen抯 phone gets only an occasional signal, so we are pretty much out of range. This makes GF realise that he was right to try and complete the staff evaluations last weekend, before we travelled, because it would have been a complete non-started from here as much of the input data is stored in Starfleet's cloud.
So Spurs and Man Utd got through last night’s Champion’s League games and both qualify for the last 16. A most successful night for the teams.
It is evident that it has been less successful for the t-Mobile engineers as there is still no signal of any description here in the valley.
The overnight rain/sleet/snow did not settle here, though it was still snowing when we got up. The sun is up and it looks like a lovely (though chilly) day. We have decided that we’ll make the most of the bright weather to visit the RHS Garden at Rosemoor. GF will take the laptop on the off chance that he can push this bog entry through the ether.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Due to the bizarre nature of t-mobile's content protection, GF is
finding it impossible to blog photos using any usual mechanism. This
is an experimental attempt via gmail.
Oh yes, and if the picture is visible, this is the stream outside our apartment.
It was mid-morning when Badger and Mrs Tiggywinkle turned up. They had driven through central Devon to join us for a coffee and chat before going out to lunch. Though the Silver Vixen had seen them relatively recently, GF had seen them for several years.
Greetings over and coffee poured we started to catch up on life, on tablets, on diagnoses, on travels, on planned trips, and on Starfleet (as all present had, at some time or other, worked for Starfleet).
Time wore on and we had to head out for lunch. We disappeared down the narrow country lanes, so narrow that grass was growing down the centre of the lane because cars couldn't wear it out. At Buckland Brewer we stopped at The Coach and Horses and settled down to examine and challenge the menu,
A few pork tenderloins and steak & kidney pies(*) later we were still putting the world to rights as we enjoyed the local produce and moved on to the subject of genealogy (a common interest) and where Mrs Tiggywinkle's research has been leading her and how she had discovered some obtuse and distant relations.
All too soon it was over. All too soon we had to head back so that they could get across to home as they expected a visitor who would be staying overnight tonight. All too soon we had say our good-byes.
It was lovely to see them again after so long.
(*) between us, not each!
Monday, November 22, 2010
There are certain advantages to having a vacation at this time of year in a location that you have visited before. The advantages include no crowds, and no need to seek out sights and locations to visit. The disadvantages include the grey Atlantic autumn weather, and short hours of daylight.
After a slow start we headed out in the car and looked at Bideford for the first time for about 30 years. First glimpses looked familiar, but then the view opened up and the new bridge came into view. This linked East-the-Water and the outskirts of town. On the outside of town was an outlet mall and a large Asda.
This seemed like a good place to stop. We headed out of the cold into the covered area. The selection of stores was impressive and several hours later we were laden with plastic bags. Next stop was Asda for several items for the holiday apartment.Back in the apartment, Silver Vixen got down to her sewing - and GF plugged his iPod into his head and continued listening to his latest book.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
And welcome this new replacement model.
Transfer went very smoothly and \G|F was delighted to find this new model has a number of features over and above those he originally ordered. Now it’s just a matter of reading all the various handbooks and manuals to try and discover how it all works!
Friday, November 19, 2010
Sky Arts TV channel is featuring Tommy and Quadraphenia – That’s TV!
Haircuts point to the 80’s – it was certainly post-Moon, but film quality implies much much more recent … though John Entwhistle is still there so it can’t be too modern. A quick Google says 2005.
It’s been busy but not frantic. Most of GF’s reportees had finished their annual self-appraisals – but some still needed chasing.
GF’s stand-in at the client seems to be doing well and he only needed to provide a couple of low level interventions during the day. He is an interesting study as he obviously not only understands the technology but he evidently thinks much the same way as GF as he was quick to draw the correct conclusions from some of the data that he had been left without adequate explanation. That helps a great deal as GF can switch off knowing things are in safe hands.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
As Gorse Fox approached his holiday, it was clear that some cover would be needed at work. The client would release the latest request, and someone needs to take up the work GF has been doing in order to respond. And so it was that today, GF’s stand-in arrived on his white charger to rescue the situation.
It was good to see him – he was recruited into Starfleet by GF some 10-12 years ago and has consistently done a good job ever since. GF felt he was passing the work on to a safe pair of hands… and someone who actually understood how everything would fit together.
Was a little later leaving than planned – as a result GF had to stand all the way home… that was an uncomfortable 3 hours but at least he’s home now.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Meanwhile, with luck, the Silver Vixen's new chair should have arrived. Urban-cub helped her move the furniture last night in order to make room... now it is up to Mr Shifter and his lorry.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Coins were retrieved, and fresh cup provided.
Monday, November 15, 2010
The Gorse Fox finds himself back in West London. Tension is building as the client moves towards asking us for something... as promised (or at least anticipated) since May. As we inch forward, inexorably, GF's work seems to be the fulcrum... and he is about to go on vacation!
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Gorse Fox powered up the work laptop again and spent the afternoon doing more admin. At this time of year Starfleet expects everyone to be be working their socks off, writing their input to their own annual appraisals, ensuring project reports and appraisals are complete, and if you are a manager – preparing appraisals and evaluations for all of your reportees.
This must be achieved without impact on running projects, nor (of course) on the fictitious but much vaunted work-life balance.
Urban-cub turned up at the door clutching an old computer. It was destined for the dump – but she wanted to ensure the hard drive had been removed. She had made a valiant attempt, but bad design had overcome her enthusiasm.
The case for this “own brand” computer was not held together with screws so that components could be replaced or upgraded or, in this case, removed. No, with the exception of one side panel – all the rest was held together with rivets!
After rooting about for a while GF concluded that the only solution was to drill the rivets out – and set about it with his trusty De Walt. 10 minutes and tens of rivet shards later the PC lay in pieces and the hard drive was extracted. Examination showed GF was right, there was no subtle third way that he had missed – it was, indeed, all held together with rivets.
Lesson to be learned here – Don’t buy an Advent PC if you think you might ever want to upgrade, augment, fix, or dispose of it!
It has been a quiet day – as is appropriate for Remembrance Sunday. A day when we remember those who sacrificed so much that we could remain free, young men and women who lost their lives that goodness, honour, fairness, and freedom should remain at the heart of our nation.
It is time to say Thank You.
It is also a time to wonder what these heroes would think of us now, what they would make of our society, whether they would feel the sacrifice is worth it.
It is time to say Thank You.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
The Gorse Fox took the Silver Vixen to Bognor. Living life to the full, eh?
It it her her birthday in the near future and it was a matter of finding the right present. Why Bognor? Well, it happened to be the nearest town that has a distributor for a certain make of furniture and SV’s present was to be a new armchair / recliner.
Bognor was not at its best. The weather was grey and dull and and it did nothing to enhance the town better features. As we wandered the shopping centre we couldn’t help but comment on the amount of foul language that seemed to emanate from all quarters. Most unpleasant. Evidently the charm bypass had been completed some time back.
We found the shop that we were seeking and after a good nose around we found a chair that was perfect for our needs. In here the staff were charming and polite and somehow you couldn’t help but think of the way stores used to be run.
Friday, November 12, 2010
It’s always good when a team pulls together. Well it would be. Gorse Fox sent a request for help to some technical colleagues. Their responses was to leave it until the end of the day then send the Gorse Fox an email claiming more information was necessary and to look at various Starfleet websites. Really helpful… a day wasted and no real progress.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Last night's culinary excellence was such that GF can feel another Thai selection on the cards for tonight when he gets away from the office.
Garage called to say the car has arrived in the UK.
Monday, November 08, 2010
Well they call it stormy Monday, let's hope Tuesday's not as bad. (with apologies to Isaac Hayes).
The overnight storm was still in full swing when SV took the Gorse Fox to the station. In fact, so much so that a tree had come down between us leaving the Gorse and SV returning.
The train was running late and GF missed his connection, but another train came along before too long and once in West London GF checked in to the hotel and grabbed a taxi across to the office.
We'll draw an immediate curtain over work and get on with a visit to the new Thai restaurant that has opened near Westfield. This only opened at the weekend, but first impressions are brush positive... food great, service good, and decor very tasteful (if a little dark).
Sunday, November 07, 2010
It has been a quiet Sunday. Small household tasks kept the day ticking over without being onerous. The first task, however, was not domestic – papers had arrived for the Parish Council and these needed to be reviewed then passed on to another Councillor. Whilst it took a while to read all the material, there was nothing too contentious.
Papers passed on, GF returned to look up the efficacy of paint treatments. He has to decide whether to invest in getting a special paint finish for the car. General consensus seems to be that if you you get it for free, its worth doing. Otherwise its a waste of money.
Nice to see such a tense football match this afternoon, though Cousteau-cub will be upset that Chelsea lost to Liverpool.
Saturday, November 06, 2010
The Silver Vixen was up and out early to join her coven. Somehow, on dark autumnal days it seems so much more appropriate to imaging them huddled round a huge bubbling cauldron as they embellish their quilts with fine stitching and newts’ eyes (instead of rhinestones).
In the way that always endears Starfleet to the Gorse Fox the end of year push has begun. This means that on top of the usual full day job we have to ensure all the projects we have worked on during the year have been documented and assessed, that all of the projects his reportees have worked on have been assessed, and he must take feedback from 2 or 3 colleagues regarding the performance of each of his 10 reportees. Having completed that he has to write up their appraisals. On top of all this we should all be trying to drum up every new business opportunity we can – and earn every crumb of revenue possible.
Oh yes, and he had mandatory training to complete – on how to review an Expense Claim Form.
There are times when the term “going Postal” somehow seems interesting.
Friday, November 05, 2010
So Phil Woolas, a minister in the the last utterly discredited government has been found guilty of misleading the electorate. He has come out with this classic response:
It is vital to our democracy that those who make statements about the political character and conduct of election candidates are not deterred from speaking freely for fear that they may be found in breach of election laws
Well…. the Gorse Fox has news for you, Mr Woolas. It is also vital in a democracy that the electorate can believe their candidates and are not be lied to and dissembled at every opportunity. The biggest victim of the last 13 years has been TRUTH and it has created distrust and cynicism in politics.
The Gorse Fox has had a very intense day. Several things arise from this:
- The certainty that by taking an instant dislike to someone you can save a lot of time
- The certainty that even when you explain to someone how and where to find an item of information they will still expect you to find it for them
- Handling a 39MB spreadsheet can be a bit of a handful.
GF thinks he’s pulled a muscle in his brain!
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Today saw the Gorse Fox heading into central London from his stay out West. He had agreed to review another project and this meant wandering along to the offices by the Thames.
His email ping’d. One of his reportees was scheduled to go on a course – this, you will not be surprised to hear is a Catch-22 situation.
The course is by invite only. As the manager he has to authorise it. Because they (smersh central) had left it late, GF was told he had to authorize with 24 hours – in an email sent at 18:40 on Friday night. At 0830 on Monday said reportee was cancelled from the course.
Gorse Fox intervened on Monday. The request was reinstated. Gorse Fox authorised it
This morning, as described above, it was cancelled again. A second authorisation was required and this meant the reportee completing a form and sending it to smersh central – but as this was an invite only course, they do not intervene – just complete the authorisation.
Guess what? Looks like the process didn’t work and GF’s team member will not be attending. Trolls at their best, eh?
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
It has been frustrating. The early start boded well for a good day. By mid morning the Gorse Fox was well in control. Decisions between iSCSI, SAS, and Fibre Channel had been made. New diagrams were drawn and the tick list was diminishing.
Then the phone started, this was followed by a meeting and during the meeting the phone and email systems continued to find new and inventive ways to set GF back several days in his work.
He headed back to the hotel. Starfleet systems failed to book him a room for next week. A little face to face charm sorted that out and GF is now booked.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
The Gorse Fox settled down for a long wait for the arrival of a colleague. After about 10 minutes he was getting impatient. He returned to the door and tried the code again. It was at this point that it occurred to him that it was of limited use undoing the lock if he doesn't turn the other handle on the door. Doh! The door swung open and GF wandered in and settled down regretting his senior moment.
The meetings throughout the day have moved us forward several steps and moved us backwards several additional steps. GF is a little frustrated (to say the least).
Monday, November 01, 2010
The Gorse Fox just can't be bothered to extract his laptop from the bag and fight with the hotel WiFi. This entry is being written and posted from the phone.
It's been a good, though busy day. West London has been warm and bright and the office has been quiet enough to get a lot done. At the end of the day GF was in need of sustenance and in need of a change tried the Malaysian cuisine on the South Terrace of Westfield. Ok, but not brilliant. Worth an occasional return visit.