Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mangled

As the Gorse Fox touched down at Gatwick the announcement came through the cabin "This aircraft was due to arrive at Gatwick North, but for operational reasons we will disembark at Gatwick South terminal. We apologize for any convenience this may have caused"

The regular mangling of English can be amusing sometimes!

Fixing dates

Looks like Cousteau-cub and the Coventry Hobbit have fixed a date and location for their wedding. A Thai beach, in mid March.

Wet and windy

High winds are forecast throughout the day. This should contribute to an interesting flight home this evening. Certainly the Gorse Fox got a good soaking this morning as he walked through the streets of Edinburgh on his way to the Starfleet office.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mistake

Well Gorse Fox thought he'd take the easy option and try the Chinese noodle bar near the hotel. It seemed to be full of Chinese business men and visitors which seemed like a good advertisement. Well it was an education.

The food was adequate, rather than good, but the Gorse Fox's fellow diners had the sort of manners and eating habits that would have caused a more sensitive should to have an attack to the vapours. Whilst there was little or no talking, Gorse Fox still had to wear his ear phones to blot out the sound effects. He only wished he had eye patches!!

Work

Gorse Fox was interviewed this morning. Strange, it is years since he has been interviewed. Anyway, it seems he did ok as the client has intimated he is eager start working with him next week.

Now Gorse Fox just has to put a team together.

Excitement

the Gorse Fox and the Silver Vixen are trying to to remain grounded. An acceptable offer has been made on the house and we have accepted. The process starts again.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Projecting projects

Not sure what Gorse Fox will be doing next week. It seems that new projects demand his attention on an almost daily basis. Starfleet seems to wish Gorse Fox to take on another opportunity; this time it was Gorse Fox's expertise in designing resilient computer systems that seems to be in demand. At some point someone will make a decision as to which project Gorse Fox should manage.

Viewing

Well, there was another house viewing this afternoon. From what the Silver Vixen said, they were on a mission. They came through and checked everything and questioned even more. Will have to see if anything comes of it.

Hotting up

A much more sensible offer has been received. Not accepted, but there is movement in the right durection.

Two further viewings already in the diary. Gorse Fox has a feeling of quiet optimism.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Potholes

It was an interesting flight. Lots of potholes in the sky and our pilot seemed to find them all. The guy across the aisle from the Gorse Fox was gripping his seat so hard that his knuckles nearly popped out.

Arrived a few minutes late but was soon in a taxi and on the way to the hotel.

Travelling

Gorse Fox is preparing to travel again. The problem has been determining when best to go to Edinburgh this week. In the end, the way things have panned out - today turned out to be the answer. Booking at the last minute has not been easy. Starfleet uses Amex as their travel agent, but cannot handle bookings within 12 hours of departure on-line. This meant finding a phone number, navigating through and immensely irritating menu system, only to find the agent had to log in to EasyJet the same way that GF does. In then it became so torturous that GF backed off and booked directly.

Locked in Europe-wide, then World-wide teleconferences for much of the day. The EU one was dreadful concentrating on how to drive our Reveuue Earning Units (people) harder, but at least the WW call was informative and punchy and actually quite inspiring.

One the house front, another couple returning for second viewing this afternoon. Another offer received, but again not at an acceptable value - but better than the last one.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Do not disturb

It was a quiet day. The Silver Vixen was at a quilt show over in Ardingly, the Gorse Fox was left to his own devices.

Much of the day was spent pottering around on the treadmill, cooking and so forth - whilst wearing headphones to listen to the latest book. During the afternoon he watched a film. Finally, it was time to get back to the cooking.

Potatoes were sliced into 1 cm  pieces, par-boiled and roasted in a little oil and chorizo. Garlic bulbs were added, whole, then as the roasting came to the last 15 minutes, chunks of green and orange pepper were added - and for the final 8 minutes, washed oiled, and salted pak choi. Perfect.

Silver Vixen called - she had stopped to drop off a friend at her cauldron and now could not start the broomstick. GF grabbed the jump leads and head out. A could of minutes later he was there, but SV had managed to get the beast going. Suspect we will have to talk to the nice man at Toyota.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Views

Well there you go.

An offer for the purchase of the house arrived in the post. It was not enough, but one assumes it to be an opening gambit. The Gorse Fox fed back to Agent, as such. Then we cleared out to the local Costa Coffee whilst another Agent brought a couple round for a viewing, and soon as we got back the phone rang to arrange yet another viewing in the afternoon. There's certainly a new vibrancy in the market. Let's hope it turns into a concrete (and acceptable) offer.

One of GF's external hard drives has failed. This has compromised his backup regime. Several hours were spent re-designing the regime and moving files about. GF now has a three level backup scheme whereby the master files are backed up elsewhere within the home system, and the backups are backed up to storage in the "cloud".

Friday, January 25, 2013

Curate's Egg

Well Gorse Fox has ended the week on a bit of mixed bag. His annual review went very much as expected, despite the fact that the she-Admiral seems to think he is the great Satan. Fortunately there was sufficient argument and evidence to counter the view. However, it is a relief!

The start of the project looks as if it will be delayed a bit further, but GF is not surprised. It is already clear that there is more politics in this client than in Westminster. At least it means GF won't have to hot-foot it up to Edinburgh on Sunday night in order for a Monday start.

GF received a call from a colleague asking for advice regarding his appraisal. It does sound as if he has been harshly graded and GF has recommended he launches an appeal.

Heard from the Estate Agents - latest viewers love the house and have now put theirs on the market and are planning an offer. On hearing the value discussed, GF told the Agent to reset their expectations as the number mentioned would not be accepted. Another couple are viewing on Saturday so we will continue to wait for the right bid.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Prelude continues

Well the prelude continues. Gorse Fox checked-out of the hotel and wandered round to the Starfleet office - at least there is decent connectivity there, unlike the client's site. He continued with his preparations and research throughout the morning, but was invited to join several meetings and call for the afternoon.

  • Inbound note: "Hello, can you make yourself available for a call1 600-1700?"
  • Response from GF: "I am available between 1600-1630, and have other meeting and calls scheduled round that time"
  • A few minutes later an invite arrives for a call to run from 1500-1700. 
  • GF responds that, as said he is only available between 1600-1630.
  • At 1530 he gets a text message asking him to join the call - he is in a meeting with the client and ignores it.
  • At 1600 he dials in to the call, as promised. The call has already ended!
Did manage to get away at a sensible time and the taxi driver carved his way through the rush hour traffic to the airport. Plane landed 25 minutes early, which was a bonus.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prelude

Is there a stage before the prelude? If there is, that where Gorse Fox has been exploring today. He was at the offices of the client and was finally granted an audience by mid afternoon. The idea was to get to know each other a bit, and to work out how we would execute the planned project. It soon became clear, however, that the client wasn't quite as prepared as we had thought. This probably means that the start of the detailed work will be delayed.

Meanwhile, back home, there was another viewing today and we have two more scheduled this week. It is clear that there is some movement in the market. Now all we want is a bidding frenzy between interested wealthy people desperate to live by the sea on a private and secluded estate.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pleasure ?

Hard to believe but travelling through Gatwick can be a real pleasure when it's almost empty. There are some advantages to getting the evening flight!

Personnel

Most of the day has again been spent dealing with personnel and their performance. The Gorse Fox will be glad when the plans are in place and they are up and running.

Call came in from the Scottish Project - it appears they still want the Gorse to act as an external technical consultant for the senior team. Could overlap nicely with his other Scottish project; talking of which, he is just about to hit the road to head up to the airport.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weather woes

Huge swathes of the country are still experiencing bad weather, some roads are blocked, and many schools closed. Here on the south coast, it is chilly, but the weather is essentially benign. The Gorse Fox was able to work from home today, so the weather became an irrelevance.

It was strange day inasmuch as GF had dozens of calls. Being responsible for the performance improvement plan for colleagues who didn't quite make the grade last year means GF has to work with their managers to develop a plan for how they will get better. This has involved a lot of to'ing and fro'ing on the phone.

Mid morning was interrupted by the estate agent turning up for a viewing - an hour earlier than scheduled. This threw matters into a several minutes of panic, but all seemed to progress well in the end.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Links

Over the sound of the vacuum cleaner, the Gorse Fox realised the phone was ringing. It was Cousteau-cub calling from Thailand. It's always nice to hear from her; this time more than most. She was calling to us that she and the Coventry-Hobbit had got engaged yesterday.

This was just wonderful news. They plan to have quiet wedding on the beach some time, yet to be determined.

Now that has brightened up the whole year. C-c deserves a good partner, and the Coventry-Hobbit has proved himself over the past few years. We will be happy to have him as part of the family.

Fine Snow

There is a fine snow falling steadily. In the few hours since GF got up it has deposited quite a bit on the snow that remained from Friday. Silver Vixen and Urban-cub had planned to to the cinema to watch Les Miserables today, but have decided that discretion is the better part of valour and will postpone the trip until next weekend.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Thaw

Yesterday's snow thawed a bit during the day. The question we had to answer was whether we should cancel the scheduled evening in Brighton with the Silver Vixen's cousins. We decided to keep an eye on things throughout the day but assume that we would stick with the plan.

Much of the day was spent just pottering. GF pottered through some more code, and the Silver Vixen pottered. Eventually we confirmed the trip and headed out to Brighton. Despite our caution, the main roads proved to be trouble-free.

We ate at the American Diner, enjoying the music from the 50s and 60s, and feeling as if we were in a set from Happy Days.- lovely evening.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Reviews

Most of the day was spent watching the snow fall as the Gorse Fox conducted a number of his annual staff reviews. Most went very smoothly, but one was less straightforward and may require some subsequent intervention.

The Gorse Fox also had calls about the people who would need extra coaching to bring them up to the performance level expected within this part of Starfleet. In most cases, this looked fairly simple, but again, there were a couple of cases that will take some very careful handling.

The snow finally stopped falling as it began to get dark. It was only about 4 inches deep, but strong winds were dispersing it fairly quickly.

Met Office Correct. Shock!

Well all was clear when the Gorse Fox first came downstairs, but within thirty minutes the forecast snow began to fall. Looks like the forecast was correct.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Calm before the storm

It's a quiet day. The weather forecast warns of heavy snow tomorrow, and GF's work schedule seems to be stacking up a huge amount of work. Today, however, was quiet. It was confirmed that GF will have to return to Edinburgh for a couple of days next week. This is a journey that he suspects will become a regular fixture.

The Estate Agent rang. Two of the recent couples who have viewed the house have asked to return for second viewings. The Agent is very optimistic. GF will not hold his breath.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Southern Front

Goorse Fox checked out of the hotel and wandered to the Starfleet Office with his roller case dragging behind. He thought he'd be clever and cut through the bus station, but that didn't work out quite as smoothly as expected and he ended up having to traverse the main concourse.

Over night the template containing an earlier proposition for the client had arrived. This provided a model from which the Gorse Fox could construct a similar proposition for this new piece of work. By early afternoon the task was done, and as colleagues had booked the boardroom (where he was working) he packed his things and headed for the airport. After a lengthy security check (evidently they have nothing better to do on a quiet afternoon than harass regular travellers) - GF made it to the departure lounge where he listened to his book until it was time to board.

Back in Gatwick it took several minutes to defrost the car (which had been parked on the roof of the car park). GF was on on his way, and forty-five minutes later was home.

It was dreadful to hear of the helicopter accident in London today, but somehow lucky that there were so few fatalities and injuries.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Still there

The Gorse Fox is still holed up in North Britain, in a fine hotel in the Athens of the North. It has not been much like Athens today, with temperatures hovering around zero and few, if any, breaks in the cloud cover.

The Gorse Fox has been working in the local Starfleet office, shaping a contract for some work and trying to work out how best to provide the resources to execute it. So far so good. Should manage to finish drafting everything tomorrow.

At the end of the day he had a long career discussion with one of his team, then popped round the corner for a curry.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Up North

After a day in the home office, Gorse Fox headed for Gatwick and checked-in for his Edinburgh flight. The usual security checks were much quicker being early evening, so Gorse Fox was soon waiting in the lounge for the flight to be called.

A phone call came in. It was the she-Admiral. Seems like Gorse Fox is in great demand. This latest call was regarding yet another opportunity - this time with a venture capitalist seeking our help. Gorse Fox explained what he was up to, and left it to her to make the priority call.

The trip to Edinburgh was trouble-free and Gorse Fox was soon checking in to his hotel. "Would you like a Scotsman in your room in the morning". Gorse Fox hesitated. That was an offer that may appeal to some of his colleagues... But not one that flats his boat! Gorse Fox hesitated and then remembered that was the name of the local newspaper, The Scotsman; he declined anyway. Turns out that Gorse Fox is a gold level member on their rewards system, and as such was upgraded to an executive suite. Good start to the trip.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Plugged in

The Silver Vixen is out with her coven, visiting some event in Farnham. The Gorse Fox has has had a quite day. As he has gotten on with his various activities he has been plugged in to his headset, listening to the end of one audio book - and starting a new one. So this has been like spending the day reading - but also has enabled him to watch the football (on mute), review new audiobooks to download, develop some further code, and prepare a roast dinner for the Silver Vixen's return.

Most satisfactory

Inflation

It has just occurred to the Gorse Fox that the boots he bought yesterday were only £6 less expensive than the first car he bought for the Silver Vixen all those years ago! (A time when we paid £0.31 pence per gallon for petrol).

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Be Prepared

The Gorse Fox believes he has mentioned the fact that he has to go back up to Scotland for a few days next week. Just to be contrary the weather forecast has decided that we should have snow. Obviously fed up with the balmy beach weather we get here, the weather has decided a few inches of snow and several degrees of frost are called for.

This stirred the Gorse Fox into action. His blissfully comfortable work shoes are smart enough, but leak when wet, and have about as much grip as freshly waxed ski. Time for some shoes/boot. This, you would think, should be an easy exercise. It's not. The Gorse Fox has evidently got his grandfather's feet (well, he doesn't need them any more), and has real problems if the shoes are not a good fit, or if the fail to provide the right support in the right places. This means that really he only has a choice of Clark's shoes. So began an online search for a suitable style and then phone calls to the local stockists looking for an outlet. Rustington was a non-starter and the assistant was barely civil, Worthing didn't have the range, so the afternoon saw a trip to Chichester. A suitable style was selected, but the colour was wrong - so further calls took us to Bognor where the Gorse Fox was suitably shod... and is now prepared for the forecast conditions.

Talking of preparation. The Sky+ box has been busy recording various shows throughout the week. What a good job it has because tonight's scheduled TV has been dreadful. We spent the whole evening catching up on recordings.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday

It's Friday at last. The end of the first week back, and somehow this could not come quickly enough.

Much of the day was spent swatting up on further details regarding the EU project reviewed yesterday. This, however, was interrupted by the requirement to seek permission for next week's trip to Edinburgh, which actually came through remarkably quickly. Gorse Fox had the foresight not to request a single trip, but multiple trips over the next few months.

Late morning meant a conference call with Starfleet's commanders. As senior Revenue Generating Resource Units it was a predictable review of the performance from last year and the rallying call for this year. Basically, the answer was "work harder, work longer, and give up more of your free time to 'give back' to the Corps"

As last year's staff appraisals are about to be announced, the Gorse Fox was again approached to manage the Performance Improvement Plans for the lowest performers. He is ambivalent about this. He is happy to help with the process, and appreciates that his experience is such that he is able to coach people to do better. However, he feels that the arbitrary decisions that define how many people fall into this catchment are not really fair and show little respect for the individuals involved. Discussing this with his Captain the conclusion was that Starfleet is not the Service we had both joined.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Portents

Another day working from home - unfortunately, this cannot last.

The morning was dedicated to reading up on an EU project related to the government deal GF is preparing to address. It took a bit of work, but the 155 page report was boiled down to a couple of pages of notes - far more digestible.

A call came in during the afternoon. The portents are not good. GF was again approached to work with a certain Scottish organisation. With last year's involvement, yesterday's request and today's opportunity it is clear that GF will have to spend some more time in Edinburgh. Project is interesting enough, it is the client organisation that makes the prospect so depressing. Anyway, flights and hotels are booked.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Spitfire

The Gorse Fox had an interesting day. It started with an air of smugness as he enjoyed 30 minutes on the treadmill before breakfast.

Once work started it was a matter of refreshing his memory on the project he had finished last year with... and then a quick hop along the south coast to the home of the Spitfire design effort for a meeting to discuss the various stratagems that might be employed to ensure Starfleet gets maximum traction with the client, before the shutter come down - as the will with a Government procurement.

Back home, he took a call from a colleague. The call was ostensibly an interesting opportunity - but was laced with menace, once Gorse Fox had determined who the client was. He has agreed to help out if necessary as long as it does not involve long stays in the far North and that he will drop out as soon as his Government  procurement kicks off. Nothing may come of it, but it seems like another poisoned chalice.

Have been delving into Microsoft OneNote as a method of organising disparate data. Not ready to commit to it yet, but it does seem to have some nice features. However, though the product seems ubiquitous, many of the features do not work on all of the support platforms.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Normal Service

No mistakes with calendar entries this morning. No early morning trains. The Gorse Fox settled down to a quiet day in his home office researching the intersection of ITIL and Service Integration to help him prepare for a review he is scheduled to conduct next week and a meeting (in fact THE meeting - from yesterday) to discuss the subject.

Unusually, GF stopped for more than a couple of moments for lunch - and managed to grab 30 minutes on the treadmill before enjoying some soup and getting back to work.

Quirky TV programme returns tonight "Death in Paradise" - looking forward to some Caribbean sun by proxy.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Not a Good Start

The Gorse Fox is back at work. It was not a good start to the year. A nine o'clock meeting meant the first train from the village. This mean getting up very early.

The journey was trouble-free, but slow. This meant that when he arrived at Waterloo, he had to rush to get to Starfleet in time for the meeting. That was when it all started to unravel. Checking which room was allocated, Gorse Fox realised that the last time the meeting was changed, it was not only the time that was amended, it was also the day. Gorse Fox need not have got up early, need not have got the train, and need not have rushed from Waterloo.

This does note bode well for 2013

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Down they come

As is our custom, the Christmas decoration have been removed today, and are being stowed away for next year. As usual, things that came out of one box no longer seem to fit back in the same box, and as usual there will be much shuffling of "stuff" to get it stowed into the minimum possible space.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Taxing times

As the deadline looms for the submission of Self-Assessment, Gorse Fox has waded through the annual exercise. Given that he is on a PAYE scheme, he is deeply irritated at how much extra tax they have suddenly requested. He thought the purpose of PAYE was that the tax was essentially taken throughout the year - with a year end minor adjustment.

Gorse Fox does not consider his adjustment this year to be minor!

Wanders off, muttering.

Friday, January 04, 2013

A sigh of relief

It's done.

Google changed the way code is authorised to access applications through their API. This meant that the PHP code GF had written a few years ago stopped working in the summer. The Christmas break has given him time to address the problem with a totally different approach.

Blogger allows the Gorse Fox to export (or backup) his blog. This file contains all of the information he needs to extract the relevant data and update his meta-blog (this latter blog is not published, but is managed a set of digital diaries going back to the 1960s and hosted on his server).

It has been a bit of a devil to get the various bits of code developed and working - but now he has a model that he can use for a number of house-keeping tasks.

Most satisfying.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Reaching Out

It was a busy morning. The |Estate Agent had phoned and arranged a viewing at lunch time. The morning, therefore, was spent ensuring that everything was spick and span and looking its best.

By late morning everything was done and we headed off to Chichester to leave the Agent to weave his magic. We, again, visited the cinema. This time it was to see the Tom Cruise film "Jack Reacher". It was an interesting little film in the genre of good versus evil, where an ex-military policeman becomes a drifter and  tries to redress the balance between good and evil wherever he turns up.

Enjoyable film, overall - reminiscent, in some ways, of the Bourne films.

We had a late afternoon stop at Nando's for a bite to eat then headed home.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Duty

We headed up to the wilds of Buckinghamshire. We had decided to visit Silver Vixen's mother. (We have always had an interest in antiques). It was a good run up, with half empty roads... But we still had to do a quick turn around to get mum-in-law back to the restaurant we had booked in nearby Fringford.

The Butchers Arms was a lot quieter than our last visit, the menu wasn't quite so extensive, but all in all it was a fine lunch, and a nice variation on normal pub grub.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Hobbits

The Christmas/New Year holiday is becoming a regular time for us to visit the moving picture palace. So it was that today, the Silver Vixen and Gorse took their carriage to Angmering to collect Urban-cub and then headed west to Chichester. There, after a quick lunch at Nando's, we settled down to watch the first instalment of Mr Peter Jackson's latest epic from the pen of Professor J.R.R. Tolkein.

Like the earlier offering, Lord of the Rings, this was a film made on a vast scale with the stunning backdrop of New Zealand as Middle Earth. The story was well crafted and closely followed the book. It will be interesting to see when the next instalment of the tale is released.

It was amusing, looking round the full cinema, to see that most of the patrons were closer to our age, than that of Urban-cub, reflecting one would guess the popularity of the books back in the 1960s and 1970s.

2013 Starts Here

Happy New Year to one and all:

  • Be nice to each other - if you have nothing good to say, say nothing.
  • Treat others how you wish to be treated.
  • Be fair.
  • Respect others as individuals - not as part of perceived groups
  • Respect authority
  • Respect others' property and goods
  • Strive to be better
  • Strive to learn