Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Variation

Today was a bit different. For a start, Genghis came and sat next to the GF rather than hide at the back of his den. He actually met the client's chief architect for the first time since joining in November. Avant Garde approach, eh.

Mid morning meeting didn't happen. Client just didn't turn up and when GF called he said he was busy. Impressive basic manners on show

At lunch time GF headed down to the Starfleet office for the afternoon. This was good as it reduced the number of interrupts and thus much progress was achieved.

GF seems to be nurturing the early stages of a cold. Eyes watering, nose running, lips and throat feeling hot. Oh dear!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Decisions

One of the realities of GF's job is that he has to make decisions that affect the whole shape and outcome of the programme. Decisions are usually fairly easy, but what is important is the underlying thought processes and the ability to trace the decisions back to sensible analysis. This is all documented, and today GF had a chance to go back through a number of outstanding decisions and get them agreed and signed off by the client. Most satisfying.

All of the licensing information has arrived from Starfleet but it was late afternoon by the time the last note arrived. Ad the software download is nearly a gigabyte, he decided to leave it until the morning when the network is quiet and pretty slick.

GF and the SV have been chatting with Urban-cub over Google+ Messages to catch up on the first day or two of her holiday in the Lake District.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Keyboards and vacuums

The Silver Vixen was out for the day with a few members of her coven. There was a big show at Ardingly and it was one of her annual "must do" shows.

The GF spent the day at the computer preparing some ideas for work but punctuating the day with various other tasks... The most important of which was to clean the boot of the car after yesterday's trip to the municipal dump. There was mud and drying wood all over the place but a few minutes with a high vacuum hose and it was done.

At the computer GF spent a lot of time watching YouTube tutorials to ensure that when the license comes through, he will be au fait with the new database system.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gatepost

The gatepost was leaning at an alarming angle. The gate itself, which has never closed in all the years GF has been here was also leaning since the last storm, when the hook plate was ripped out of the wall. The question was, could anything be done?

Preliminary examination said that the hook plate would need replacing on the gate. Examination of the 10x10 gatepost was more alarming. The base had rotted away and it was supported by about one inch of rotting oak. One brief lift and it was free of the ground and a huge hole gaped by the wall.

Remediation was not a credible option. Whilst GF had tools that would allow him to tidy up the post, the corresponding drop in height would render the hinges useless. There was nothing for it but disposal. Out came the big circular saw – GF cast sawdust to the four winds and managed to back all the bits into the car for their last trip. Meanwhile the hole was back-filled with heavy gravel and concrete.

Job done.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Taken Aback

The Gorse Fox had a busy day, but at least he was working at home. Documents had to be drafted and sent out, diagrams checked and revised and the every increasing list of outstanding tasks trimmed through action and intervention.

The ever more complex management of the interrelationships between the tasks, actions, questions, issues, problems, and decisions is becoming a severe challenge to limitations of Excel. So it was that the Gorse Fox decided he probably needed a more robust system that would be able to manage these relationships – and thus he started to look at various database solutions.

Now the problem with databases is not the complexity of the underlying system and the way in which you create the various relationships. That is really rather well covered by the basic tools. The real issue lies around the tooling for provide the interface to the database. Whilst the Gorse Fox likes writing code, that is not the objective of the exercise. He just wants to use a system, and not have to spend weeks developing code. This doesn’t really leave too many choices when you get down to it. There’s Filemaker and there’s Access and a few also-rans.

GF logged in to the Starfleet procurement system, fully expecting it to tell him to push off. However, he went through the catalogue, found Access 2010 and pressed the button. A few minutes later he received notification that the purchase had been authorised and he should expect detail to arrive over the next 48 hours. To say he was taken aback would be an understatement.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Travelling man

It’s Thursday. That means that when all is done, it’s time to travel home. With all the meetings and issues that filled the day the journey was one of the highlights!

GF is getting sucked in to a number of additional meeting each week and these are not a welcome addition to the schedule. On top of this a document, due today, that was being developed by a colleague had dropped through the cracks (he had misinterpreted some information and thought he was meant to do something else). This gave GF 45 minutes to create the document in question from scratch. Nothing like a bit of pressure to focus the mind.

Last meeting of the day was for one particular user community who were desperate for us to adapt our plans to accommodate some new requirements for them. So desperate were they that couldn’t be bothered to turn up for the meeting!

Great trip home – no delays, and finished listening to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, GF hates being swept along by hype, but must say that this was one of the best books he’s consumed in a long time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Relationships

The Gorse Fox has been pondering how life is made up of relationships. There are the primary relationships with the Silver Vixen, Cousteau-cub and Urban-cub. There are secondary relationships with siblings. Beyond that the relationships explode into so many directions. Friends, Colleagues, Techies, Trolls and so forth.

Today GF had to deal with the relationships between himself and some of the team he manages. The last few of the annual appraisals had to be discussed and the outcomes filed. That done GF could, with a satisfied grin sit down and reckon that he had done well for his team this year. Of all his responsibilities in Starfleet, this can be the most time consuming but also the most satisfying.

Finally, GF thought about relationships in terms of information and the way that different items of data come together and can be viewed in different ways.  This led to an evening reading database manuals and the consideration of whether and how he should be adjusting some of his personal tooling to make better use of the technology. GF remembers that back in the early days of the millennium he had started building a data model to describe the way information is linked in his job. A colleague at the time convinced the Gorse Fox that he was wasting his time as Starfleet's labs were already working on something similar. GF can report that a decade on, they have not come up with anything that he would consider suitable. What they have come up with only doespart of the job and is too resource hungry for most laptops. Maybe it's time to for GF to start again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Strange brew

It has been a different day. GF allowed the body to wake normally today and then strolled through the rain to the Starfleet office where he settled down for a fun day. There were presentations to prepare, documents to develop, and a workshop in which to participate.

GF decided to eat at Picolino. Seemed like a bright idea at the time, particularly as GF had a voucher. The food was, as usual excellent. However, they were very busy and GF was beginning to get frustrated waiting for his main course to arrive. Several couples had received theirs even though ordering after your patient GF. The manageress struck up a coversation and sat down at the table next to GF. "I thought I'd join you" she said. GF responded that he hoped her meal turned up quicker than his had.

At this point she spun into action and rushed to the counter. A few minutes later he was enjoying his spaghetti with gamberoni and a glass of merlot. She could not have been more attentive. Her reaction rescued the evening and GF left, contented.



Monday, January 23, 2012

Curry

It was a good day. Not too busy, but busy enough.

After work the Gorse Fox headed to the hotel. He gave a colleague a lift, and again found himself acting as Agony Uncle - this time over personal issues as opposed to the more usual work issues.

GF took a stroll through Bristol, being accosted for money every 200 yards by various down and outs and ne'er-do-wells. Eventually he found himself 4500 from Delhi - a fine Indian restaurant where he would be meeting with several colleagues.

The meal ran on much longer than planned, but it was an enjoyable evening.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cards

The Gorse Fox has had a domestically orientated day. A slow start, reading the papers and browsing the web was followed by some time catching up on expenses. Then there was the pressing need to iron some shirts for the week ahead and help out with some vacuuming.

Come lunchtime GF settled in the virtual stands to watch the football - Man City against Spurs. A disappointing first half then a fabulous second half only marred by the last minute winning penalty from Balotelli who should have sent off ten minutes earlier for stamping on Parker's face. Heretofore
It will be considered not a loss but a moral victory as Spurs did not have to resort to GBH.

GF is now watching the game between the Forces of Darkness and Man Utd. At this point some semblance of order looks to be restored in the universe as the Forces of Darkness are losing.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Crunch

Time has passed, as it does. The Gorse Fox has managed to clear some detritus from the garage and visit the nice people at the community recycling centre (dump), he set up the backup on the new work laptop, frustrated himself over a re-installation of Python on his primary desktop.

He also crunched the numbers to see what leeway we have in the numbers regarding the sale of the house. GF suspect he may move slightly, but not by much. However, speaking to the developer of the house we have our collective eye upon, that is still available.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Curate’s Egg

It was a strange day. The Gorse Fox had a leisurely start, and pottered up the A24 to Dorking for his meeting. This turned out to be be a bit of a talking shop as opposed to the focussed meeting he was expecting… so he was glad to have his MiFi with him so he could surreptitiously get some work done whilst the “security” experts sat and tried to think of risks that we would have to mitigate. This, a fairly hypothetical exercise as we were not crossing any public networks in the transfer of their information… but the GF assumes it made them seem important.

Back home, some hours later, GF started delivering the annual assessments to his people. As a high-performing team, anything other than top marks is considered a shame by each of the them, but whilst top marks may not have been achieved – all of them did particularly well. Gorse Fox is proud of his team.

Towards the end of the day we received an offer on the house. The Gorse Fox needs to give it a bit of thought, but is unlikely to accept at that value.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Agony Uncle

Gorse Fox has spent a surprising amount of time as an Agony Uncle again today. This does not seem a good use of his time, professionally. It is, however, important from a human perspective and it is a shame when things get like this.

Roadworks on the Bristol end of the M4 have started to cause significant delays at the start of the journey home. The first couple of miles is taking nearly half an hour... but once on to the motorway the rest of the journey was remarkably quick and trouble free.

Home for a bowl of soup and quiet evening. Tomorrow sees a trip to Dorking

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Suckered

The Gorse Fox was feeling benevolent this morning. As a result he agreed to attend a meeting that was not scheduled. He had been suckered. Now he is being asked to attend a similar meeting every Wednesday. There isn't a great deal of wiggle room here... but with artful delegation it should be possible to reduce the impact to regular but occasional rather than regular weekly!

GF regrets that he has been spending too much time today providing a shoulder to cry on (metaphorically) and delivering sound avuncular advice. He doesn't understand what is so difficult to comprehend in the simple epithet "Respect for the Individual".

Grey and dank day.

Back at the hotel for the regular evening call... and dinner planned for later with a colleague.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Quick, slow, slow, quick quick

No it's all right. The Gorse Fox has not taken up dancing. He was just reflecting on the journey across to Bristol. He suspected it may not go smoothly when he was awoken by the alarm rather than waking naturally as he normally does. This meant that GF was running five or ten minutes later than usual... And those few minutes seemed to make a considerable difference when traversing the motorway between Portsmouth and Southampton. Other than that stretch, the journey was fine, but the delay was enough to push the journey time over the three hour mark.

Once at work the day seemed to rush by as GF caught up on emails, attended meetings, and documented the findings from yesterday's review.

Room service provided some nourishment at the end of the day... But frankly GF is really not that bothered this evening.



Monday, January 16, 2012

In town

The early train was packed, but GF boarded near the start of the line so easily got a seat. Once at London Bridge, GF loaded up with a bacon roll and then set out to stroll across London Bridge and then along Fenchurch Street to the location for today's review.

The review itself went well, though it is clear that our colleagues have their work cut out for them, and they will have to adapt and change some of their practises.

At the end of the day, it was too late to get the London Bridge train so GF hopped on the tube across to Victoria and grabbed the train home. He started a new book this morning so four hours of train journey has made a good dent into the story line. Looking forward to the car journey to Bristol tomorrow to catch up on the next bit.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Taxing times

Well it’s done. Finally. Not that it took long to do – rather it took a long time to get round to it. Gorse Fox’s tax return is complete for yet another year.

And relax…

GF also managed to get prepared for the week ahead with a trip to the railway station to pick up tickets for tomorrow’s trip to the City of London, and to the petrol station for his diesel for the subsequent trip down to Bristol on Tuesday. Such unprecedented levels of organisation can be quite unnerving.

And in other news, as everyone turns “taking offense” into a national pass time, the Gorse Fox announce that he is offended by the way people take offense. Offense can be given freely, but should never be taken – that is just dishonest.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Frustration and Family

That is not to say that there is a direct relationship between the words in the title – merely a chronological coincidence.

The plan was simple – catch up on the expenses that were planned for yesterday, then do the annual tax return. That would fill the morning and then all would be clear for when the Silver Vixen’s family arrived.

Well that was the plan.

GF logged on and tried to start the expenses system. It was clear that some changes had been applied and a new version was downloaded. Firefox went through the download but would not start the expenses system. GF has seen this behaviour with a previous version so switched to (his preferred) Chrome browser. Again this would not start the expenses application. It’s nice to work for Starfleet – a technology company without peer.

Eventually, in a fit of pique, GF downloaded a different version of Java (indeed one might even say a competitive version) from that which claims to support the expenses system. Voila, everything burst into life and GF made a start on the various claims.

Unfortunately, this fannying about had wasted so much time that GF was not able to do his Tax Return before the family arrived, and so it will have to wait until tomorrow.

Silver Vixen’s family arrived from Buckingham and in time honoured manner clustered in the kitchen whilst sipping tea and coffee and awaiting the completion of lunch preparation. There were various birthdays in the immediate future and it was time to spread greetings and catch up on gossip. Urban-cub dropped by for a while, just to see Nan and have a chat and before she went she took two of the bikes from garage(which was excellent as the garage is now slowly emptying of the various bits and pieces that we had been storing there). The very gorgeous Becky told of how she had just started her new job in the Architecture practise and was looking at her first project – a refit of one of the major stores. We also heard of how Emma was enjoying her new job at Porsche and had a track-day coming up, along with a separate road day and a trip to factory in Germany. Sounds great.

It was a lovely day, despite the early frustrations.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Unplanned

Well that was not planned.

An early conference call seemed to be heading the way of most, i.e. it was eating away at the timeline of the Gorse Fox’s life and provide neither interest nor stimulus. I was an opportunity for trolls to whinge and bemoan the 1001 things that were wrong… and not a single thing that was right. It occurs to the Gorse Fox that there would be value in including the Samaritans on most of these calls; goodness knows what it would be like if the project was going badly!

Arising from this call the Gorse Fox suddenly found himself volunteering to pick up several items of work which would fill the rest of the day – and thus interfere what he he had planned (expenses and admin).

Silver Vixen went out to a meeting of her coven in the evening leaving GF to a curry, a glass of wine and the opportunity to catch up on some Sky+ recordings.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Left in the dark

The Gorse Fox was in at the office long before the sun came up – unfortunately he was still there long after it had gone back down (albeit in a spectacular explosion of golds and reds).

Nice to talk to Cousteau-cub online during the day. Her package has arrived and she’s looking forward to playing with the contents.

It had not been too stressful a day. Although a later afternoon teleconference delayed the trip home.

The trip home was interrupted by an inbound call from a Starfleet Admiral. It appears that Genghis Khan’t is stirring up trouble and would the Gorse Fox treat it as a priority to sort him out next week. Sounds like a poison chalice but GF will accept.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Getting on

Progress has been steady but sure. The GF left foot is now back to normal and that is a relief as limping can be so inelegant.

Meetings went surprisingly well and achieved the intended outcomes. Prep for next week's review began and that looks as if it will be a challenge, but it does mean that GF will be able sleep at home on Monday night.

GF is sitting here in the middle of a daily meeting/telecon listening to some esteemed colleagues arguing over progress and all taking the same stance without realising. GF will have to intervene in a moment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A change

GF has been asked to change his plans for next week. He needs to conduct a review of an in-flight project on Monday next week. Sounds as if someone has an opportunity that they are not recognising at present... And GF has to go and provide them some guidance.

A new day

Tuesday started with some consternation. GF has had some discomfort in his left foot which has been getting worse in the previous couple of days. When he woke up his foot was swollen and the pain was much worse. This was not likely to be a good day. At seven he was in reception waiting for a colleague and then heading for the car. This was when he realised he had forgotten to get the car park ticket endorsed and had limp back up to reception. Strangely the problem with the foot seemed to ameliorate during the day and by early evening it seemed to be back to normal. Dinner was taken in the hotel room... But even still, it was later than planned.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Curry

It was a long day starting with the usual dash across country to the outskirts of Bristol. Like last week, the journey was surprisingly quick and the traffic remarkably quiet. In the office there were the usual meetings to wrangle, but in general it was fairly benign, but tailed off with a teleconference which ran on until 1900. As GF was still there at the end of the call he volunteered to bring his colleagues to their hotels in the city centre, but on the way we decided to stop off at an Indian restaurant for what turned out to be a very enjoyable meal. It was gone 2100 by the time he checked in to the hotel and called the Silver Vixen he was ready to crash, but having eaten late he must try and stay up longer if he plans to actually sleep at all.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Cup

It was a relatively quite day in the Gorse Fox household. The morning was spent reading the papers and catching up on emails whilst enjoying a fine brunch. Most of the afternoon was consumed by the FA Cup games shown on TV.

It was only late in the day that he remembered that he’d thought about doing his tax return this weekend. Oh well – will have to wait until next weekend now, GF really can’t be bothered.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Ponytail

As the Gorse Fox has allowed his hair to go sometime without a trim the prospect of a ponytail, you might expect, would be beckoning. Oh no, not the Gorse Fox. His hair tends to bunch up and grow thickly in areas behind the ears, but remains absent without leave in other areas. The only real approach is a session in the chair with Angus and his clippers.

That done, GF returned to finish putting away the Xmas decorations, and take the call from the Agent to say they would like to arrange a viewing for early afternoon. With the sun pouring in at the back, and the recent storm, this meant a whizz round to clean the salt spray from the windows whilst the Silver Vixen preened the inside of the house.

We made ourselves scarce and popped into Rustington and then on to L’A’. No feedback so far.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Talking of which…

Thinking about Sherlock Holmes, in which story did he meet his Mexican nemesis, the fearsome Professor Mariachi?

Not as quiet

The Gorse Fox was expecting it to be moderately quiet as this was the first Friday back at work and a lot of the regular calls had not yet been set up. It didn’t work out like that and the very first call of the day set the standard by overrunning by 30 minutes. At least he was working from home!

When the work finally ended it, the Silver Vixen was packing away the Xmas decorations so GF got on with dinner and then they settled down to catch up on some recorded TV programmes. Thoroughly enjoyed the first episode of the new Sherlock Holmes series.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Genghis Khan’t

In a triumph for man management, Rigsby – the new uber-troll has decided that one colleague is no longer required. Within ten minutes he was informed and was out the door. (So much for Starfleet’s aim to give you two weeks notice if your were moving from a project).

It was a fairly full day for GF and he was glad to get on the road late afternoon, particularly as it was a very quiet run back across country.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Long day

Starting just before seven and not finishing for over twelve hours meant that GF has burnt a lot of brain cells today. Some were burnt during simple meetings but most were destroyed in a long afternoon workshop followed by the usual teleconference.

Leaving work, GF headed for the little pub next to the hotel. The food is simple but good and GF was ravenous.

Finally back at the hotel GF managed to touch base with the Silver Vixen. It seems that today's viewing by a developer went moderately well. Just have to see if they make an offer!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A day of two halves

The day started with gusty winds and torrential rain. This did not bode well for the journey west. However, it soon became clear that there were still many people not working or at least not travelling. The roads were surprisingly quiet, if awash.

Arriving in the office it became clear that the access cards for all contract staff had expired during the break. This meant that there was a long queue of folk waiting for their sponsors to come and sign them in. Eventually the Gorse Fox got to his desk and fired up the laptop. There was no appreciable backlog and that meant he could get open with a number of pet project tasks.

At the end of the day he retired to the hotel "The Accountant's Revenge, Express". Modern, antiseptic, soulless, tiny, an utterly depressing. It is clear this is not a place to revisit out of choice. We clearly need to get the project to arrange an alternative.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Here it comes

As the Christmas vacation comes towards it denouement GF is trying hard not to think of the work that is waiting up ahead. Having said that, he already has his bag packed and ready for the morning, and the car is fuelled and ready for the Bristol run.

In the attempt to forget, GF and the Silver Vixen headed back to Chichester for another afternoon at the moving picture palace. In this outing we saw the diminutive Mr Thomas Cruise reprising his role as Ethan Hunt in a cinematic offering entitled "Mission Impossible: 4". This ripping yarn kept us engrossed for a couple of hours, before we repaired to a local restaurant.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year

As time instantiates a New Year in the folder of history the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen spent a quiet day at home. The weather was grey and wet and there was little to enthuse one to venture beyond the front door.

The time was not frittered away idly. Oh no. GF’s study underwent the first stage of one of its mass clear ups. While that was being sorted GF was also playing with Ubuntu “Natty Narwhale”, with MySQL, and with Python. All in all it was a rather fruitful start to the year, particularly as he also remembered why one of his routines failed – a quick change, and soon it was running again for the first time since October.