Friday, February 28, 2014

Transport

With retirement a few months away, Gorse Fox has been considering the future of transport for him and the Silver Vixen. Do we really need two executive vehicles? What sort of mileage are we likely to do? and What sort of vehicles do we need?

If we assume we would still require one "family" vehicle for longer journeys and for carrying things about, and that this should have a flat loading space for the Silver Vixen's sewing paraphernalia, then that's one probably decision.

If we assume that we still need a second car - then that only needs to be a small run-about. As such it needs to be practical, and most of all, inexpensive to run.

With these criteria in mind we headed off to visit the showrooms of Toyota, VW, Skoda, Honda, and Nissan. Wandering around, it was soon clear that the decision was not going to be easy. There were plenty of vehicles that met our requirements. We returned home with a pile of brochures to wade through. There is research to be done, and test drives to be arranged.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

London

For a change, the Gorse Fox's work dragged him to London. A relaxed start ment there would be no parking at the railway station, but in anticipation he asked the Silver Vixen to drop him off.

Once in town he had to deal with some investigatory interviews in response to a complaint received about a member of staff. This can be a bit tense, so he approached with a degree of apprehension. As it happens it went remarkably smoothly - and when he asked said individual to read his notes and agree them - she even commented what beautiful handwriting he had.

Silver Vixen, meanwhile, is helping out with an after-school workshop for children wishing to learn how to sew.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Network Monitor

The Gorse Fox had a fairly good day in the office. The various PMs seem to have taken on board the various lessons of yesterday and were working until late last night to try and bring things together. GF left them to it and got on with documenting further parts of the programme.

By early afternoon GF was finding the office environment less than conducive for work, so packed his bags and headed home. Once there he managed to complete the documents he was working on, and take one of the regular management calls.

Meanwhile he has now got the Raspberry Pi  sitting on the desk an acting as a network monitor. Though it displays a somewhat simplistic view of the network (using jNetMap) - it does at least show colour-coded map of the network status - with regular updates.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Normal service

The Gorse Fox headed for Surrey. Normal service had resumed. Half-term holidays were at an end and the Gorse Fox's journey increased by 30 minutes. At least it was predictably so.

A cluster of Starfleet colleagues arrived from Poland or the Czech Republic (He should know which, but got conflicting answers form his usual colleagues). They were there to work closely with the team, but also for the Gorse Fox to give them a quick "sheep dip" on how programmes such as this should be run and how they should be structured. This went down very well and they suggested GF should visit their base and run the course there for their colleagues.

Journey home was unusually quick. Quite a surprise given the morning's journey.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Code set

Maybe computer code is like jelly, and it needs to set.

The code GF downloaded yesterday and had trouble firing up worked first time this morning with no attention from the Gorse Fox other than pressing the key. Bizarre.

Good work day. GF has to deliver some cut-down course material over the next day or two, so he has spent the day going through in advance to ensure he is familiar with the flow. Heading up to Surrey for the next couple of days.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Gorse Fox burst into life and continued with his modelling and with some tasks for the Raspberry Pi. The former was very successful, the latter less so. As GF has a stored image of the Pi, he was able to roll-back to a clean image by blowing the image onto a spare SDCard.

Urban-cub and Pistol Pete came round for a couple of hours. It was nice to have a chat over a cup of tea, It is clear that Pistol Pete had not been enamoured by his first exposure to the Ikea store yesterday. Certainly, our use of the catalogue, ordering online, and having it delivered saves endless wandering back and forth in the store and queueing at the checkout with a pile of stuff you cannot then fit in the car.

Fontwell Park had one of its big race events, today. We had decided to go to The Old Stables for dinner, so timed our visit about an hour before the last race. This proved to be the right approach as the restaurant was beginning to fill up and get boisterous by the time we were paying the bill to leave.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chatting

The Gorse Fox has been doing some more modelling. In order to work out where his printers can go, it was a matter of digging out some models from the 3D Warehouse. This proved less successful than expected - there are no canned models of his Canon printer and the canned model of a similar Brother printer is scaled incorrectly (i.e. the printer is over 6.9 metres wide... that's almost the size of the house).


GF set about building his own models. Though not engineering drawings, they are close enough to be recognisable and they are drawn to the correct scale.

Slowly but surely he's getting to grips with this lark.

We managed to get a video-chat with Cousteau-cub. It's been quite a while since we have managed this, so it was a lovely interlude. The season seems to remain very busy for them, and she has been diving - despite her current discomfort. The medication she has been taking seems to be managing the worst of the symptoms - but diving two days in a row has left her very tired. She has managed to take some excellent photos of the whale sharks that seem to have taken up residence in Koh Haa.

Friday, February 21, 2014

3D

In the Gorse Fox's first "retirement practice day"  the morning was spent considering the new furniture that Silver Vixen wants for her hobby-room. Wading through the 3D diagrams GF had prepared he started to fill his shopping basket on the Ikea website.

This prompted the question - "What are we going to do about the study?"

This is not quite such an easy problem to solve as, though we down-sized last year, we need to down-size further, and into an L-shaped room with a large alcove. This would take some serious consideration.

We ran some errands whilst the problem processed in the back of the mind.

Back home, the Gorse Fox launched Sketchup and pulled up the 3D-model of the house. Initially simple blocks were constructed to represent different items of furniture or pieces of equipment that would need to be found homes. We came up with various combinations, but eventually hit upon a plan that would actually make the most of the space and provide a significant amount of storage and workspace.

The blocks were discarded and GF spent the rest of afternoon building accurate representations of the desks, the drawer-units, the storage units and so forth.

The desks will be the problem as GF will have to trim down one of the existing desks by about 6 inches to make it all fit. (And yes, he really did order the bright red EXPEDIT units from Ikea).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Oh deer.

Well, we nearly had venison for tea.  The Gorse Fox was driving home from Surrey and as he wound through the South Downs near Fryan's Hanger two deer raced across the road in front of him. He dimly saw their shadows in the lights of an oncoming car and hit the brakes. The first deer made it all the way across. The second, a full-grown adult wasn't quite so lucky and theGorse Fox's car knocked it over.

The GF's heart sank. It is not nice to hit such a magnificent creature. GF unbuckled his seat belt to go and see if he could do anything to help - but as he did, the deer got back to its feet and bounded away up the hill.

GF doesn't need incidents like that to keep him alert - listening to his books is quite enough stimulation, thank you.

TGIT

Well, working only Mondays through Thursday the Gorse Fox can say Thank God it's Thursday and therefore the end of the working week. It has been a very fruitful day in the office and GF has achieved much. He decided that there was limit to collaboration and adopted a more dictatorial approach today. He finished off with a clear email to all the team telling them eaxctly how he expected them to proceed. He doesn't foresee any problem in his absence.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Method

In Starfleet we have something we refer to as "Method". This is the means by which we should structure most projects. Indeed there are variations of the "Method" to address most problems and situations with which we deal. There are always, however, some people who think they know best and try to fly solo.

The Surrey project is just such a case. It has now been running for nearly 6 months and in an effort to create some structure GF ran a workshop to impose the disciplines on the "Method". At the end, all involved conceded that this should have been done 6 months ago - and expressed regret GF was not on board at that time. (Frankly, given the project he was working on - he too regretted he was not on-board).

Today would have been the GF's grandfather's birthday. A wonderful friend and inspiration. Sadly missed.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Fine

It was a fine day for the Gorse Fox. Half-term meant the commute was 30 minutes shorter and that tends to put a spring in the step!

In the office GF was introduced to a number of colleagues from Germany and South Africa. Amongst them were a couple of silver backs both of whom looked significantly older than the Gorse Fox. Indeed he wondered why they were still working as they were clearly well past retirement age. A feeling of uncommon pleasure suffused his being on discovering that despite their looks, both were five years younger then the Gorse Fox. Obviously the ministerings of the Silver Vixen over the years have allowed the Gorse Fox to maintain his boyish good looks!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Smirking again

The Gorse Fox has now booked his remaining vacation. This means that with the exception of one week, when he is teaching, he is only working 4 days each week until the early of April. Indeed he has viewed the remaining time until he retires and realised that he could (using the cluster of Easter and Spring Bank Holidays) actually do 4 days a week from now until retirement date. (Though he probably won't).

GF is heading to Surrey again tomorrow.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Baking

Well not really.

The Gorse Fox was actually playing with his Raspberry Pi for much of the day. Like most computers - the initial set-up is one step that tends to go fairly smoothly. From then on you have to install the various components and software packages that enable you to use the machine the way you wanted.

As you would expect, the Gorse Fox has been painstakingly documenting this (so that he can easily build more Raspberry Pis in the future) but it is clear that his attention to detail is not always matched by those who provide the products he requires. So it was that GF ground to a halt - unable to work out the instructions in the supporting manual. Question has now been asked of the community that supports the code. And so he waits.

Was hoping to catch Cousteau-cub online to get the latest news from her trip to Trang, but didn't manage to catch her.

GF has been looking at his vacation records and realises that he can take a day off each week from now until April (when the Starfleet vacation year finishes).

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Just Checking

With the storms continuing, Gorse Fox thought he would check again on the new house. The Environment Agency has a flood map showing the areas that are at risk.

The red-lined circle shows the area where the new house is being built - and though there are some amber warning nearby - they do no encroach on the site.

Indeed, as the Gorse Fox saw last week, the attenuation ponds seem to be managing the volume of water without any issue and there is still at least a metre to go.

Solo

The Gorse Fox will be flying solo for much of the day. The Silver Vixen has just asked him to load up her broomstick as she prepares to meet up with her coven and terrorise the denizens of Durrington.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Excellent

Friday working at home. This should be the norm, particularly when the weather is so inclement. It is fairly easy for the Gorse Fox, doing his job, but conceded it may be less practical for prison officers, train drivers, brain surgeons, and so forth.

Most of the day was devoted to the Surrey project - trying to extract a useful set of metrics to show progress. This proved more elusive than expected, but also stimulating to the little grey cells. GF ended up adapting an old spreadsheet with some modern twists that linked it to some other relevant data sources. Looks quite promising - though not finished yet.

GF sees that Cousteau-cub is off (in her new car*) to the hospital tomorrow. Hopefully the journey will be a lot easier with her own transport. Will hope to speak to her some time over the weekend.

* new being a relative term - i.e. it is new to her.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Joyless

The joyless soul that is causing GF grief over the annual appraisal seems intent on grinding down everyone and anyone over this issue. Today the person was offered a way out (not via Dignitas, though that may be appropriate) but with a payout and offer to move on. GF suspects that trenches will be dug and a war of attrition begun. The first salvo has already been fired with the comment that the wording of the agreement is incorrect. That salvo was focussed at HR, not the GF - so he is sitting back to watch the fireworks.



Gorse Fox decided to work from home. He will contact the Surrey crew and let them know - but it seems a bit pointless driving there to sit in an office - when he can sit here in an office and perform the same info.

While typing - an invite arrived for a telecon at 0800... which he would have missed had he been travelling. Excellent decision, GF

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Flattered

Urban-cub got a call during her outing with Silver Vixen. The estate agent  was trying to arrange a third visit for a prospective buyer. Sounds promising; let's hope he follows through.

Gorse Fox had a productive day in Surrey - though one of his emails triggered an influx of new data that he now needs to analyse. He suspects it will reveal similar gaps to those he had pointed out - but he must re-analyse the info to be sure.

Good win (4-0) for Spurs at Newcastle tonight.

Thunder

Gorse Fox was woken. It sounded like a huge, heavily laden lorry was ploughing up the road at full speed. After a moment or two his ears focussed and he realised it was in fact a loud and local thunderstorm. (Not a lot of rain, but a great deal of noise).

Silver Vixen is up early today. She is meeting with Urban-cub and heading across to Brighton.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Shortcut

The Gorse Fox enjoyed his day on Surrey. Work was progressing well and he bumped into an old colleague who he hasn't seen for several years. It was nice to catch up. and reminisce about the project we had been working on. This was particularly sweet - in fact a case of schadenfreude as the execs who chose not to to select us to do the work are in the press at the moment for having wasted £100m of public money. It would be so nice to tell a bit more of the story - but that would be unprofessional.

The Gorse Fox tried a different route home. This was similar to one tried last week - but where he had gone wrong. This week it was more successful, and whilst it involved a lot more zigging and zagging - it didi knock about 15 minutes off the route home.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Unremarkable

Today has been unremarkable. A morning spent with spreadsheets, collating data from the Surrey project and an afternoon punctuated by an online course.

Starfleet is, justly, very proud of its business ethics (for example it will never destroy an inhabited planet). Each year we have to go through an online course and quiz to make sure we are all cognisant of these ethics and that we sign up to them. Fair play to Starfleet. Gorse Fox's only complaint about this is that in order to ensure you are reading the text, it times how long you are on each page... this is all very fine, but for quick readers like the GF he kept receiving warnings that he had not spent long enough reading the text. This was irritating so he took to reading emails between pages. Thta'll teach them!

Flooding has now hit the Thames. Many people are affected. GF just hopes it doesn't have any knock-on effects  in the surrounding areas as he heads back up to Surrey tomorrow.

Parting thought. Today is the birthday of the Gorse Fox's cousin, Mary. Happy birthday!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

In

That is the summary - we were in.

Being in, however, allowed the Gorse Fox to notice Cousteau-cub online and get to have a chat with her. It's been a long time since we managed to link up, so it was nice to catch up on the news. Here rheumatoid arthritis was giving her trouble today, but nevertheless she was at work. She and the Coventry Hobbit have acquired a car. More surprisingly, they have registered it officially and C-c is scheduled to take a Thai driving test.

Having the car means that her regular trips to the hospital at Trang are going to be a bit easier, and in general driving a car will be more comfortable than using the bike.

Early afternoon, the Gorse Fox cut up some chicken breasts and marinated them in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, pepper, fennel seeds, ginger, de-seeded red and green chilli, and garlic and covered the lot with a thinly sliced lemon. This sat in the bottom of the fridge for the rest of the afternoon. Then the chicken was stir-fried and put aside under the grill whilst onions, peppers, celery, carrot, fine beans, cashew nuts, and spring onion tops were stir fried. The whole mixture was then put back together and a can of coconut milk added. After about 10 minutes of simmering we dished up a delicious Sunday Dinner.

On an historical note - today would have been the birthday of the Gorse Fox's father (and his twin brother, the Bishop). He would have been 88 today, had he lived - but it is now some 49 years since he passed on.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Smirk

Computer languages can start heated debates.

Many "purists" who are steeped in the lore of UNIX and its various distributions will swear by obscure editors such as vi, or tools such as awk or grep and roundly scoff at the uninitiated.

The Gorse Fox has a long history with computer and finds this attitude rather tiresome and childish. He sees computers as tools to be used by as many people as possible - and as such they should be simple to understand and simple to program. Many years ago the very talented Mike Cowlishaw produced an interpreted language for computers, called Rexx. It doesn't matter what language the Gorse Fox plays with - he always compares it back to Rexx.

Today he installed rexx (a flavour called Regina-Rexx) on the Raspberry Pi - and has achieved more in a couple of hours than he had in the previous couple of weeks. The biggest single benefit probably being the language's ability to parse text efficiently in a simple coding construct. No obscure patterns... just a simple and clear statement.

You can listen the script-kiddies and the experts, but most of them are trying to show you how clever they are - The Gorse Fox eschews that notion - he is only interested in how easily the computer can be instructed to perform on his behalf.

Just Checking (Will Ark be required?)

The rain continues. Given how flat the land is, and how low-lying it is where the new house is being built, the Gorse Fox thought it would be worth checking up on a) progress,  b) whether there is any flooding, and c) whether an ark may be required.

Though it was a muddy and slippery walk to get to a vantage point from which the Gorse Fox could check, it was clear that progress had been made and we now had a tiled roof and the windows were being fitted.

Unfortunately they seem to be building some hoardings that partially block the view - but it is heartening to see progress despite the dreadful weather. With the house now, essentially, water-tight they can at least continue to work through most weather conditions.

The next encouraging sign was that whilst the bund, on which the Gorse Fox stood, was muddy - there was no untoward build up of water. Indeed the balancing pond was still at least a metre below the edge.

The conclusion to be drawn is that the area, though flat and low-lying, is not likely to flood - and the Gorse Fox will not have to build an ark.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Drawing to a close

As time marches inexorably on and another week draws to a close, the Gorse Fox has worked from home again. His aim is that, on Fridays, this should be the default setting; and to be fair, it pretty much works out that way.

The day was, again, peppered with calls, emails, and messages from the unhappy appraisal recipient. The Gorse Fox finds himself walking a fine line between following the party-line and arming himself with a baseball bat for a face-to-face discussion. On checking, however, it seems to be contrary to Starfleet policy to beat someone round the head and tell them to get lost. The ridiculous part of this is that the protagonist is quite good at their job - but just seems to be incapable of any reasoned, social interaction.

Interestingly, GF has shed all of his other responsibilities in his old division and is just waiting for confirmation that his transfer is now complete. Certainly he is disconnecting from the old, but has yet to fully connect with the new.

In the background, GF has been watching some YouTube videos on Python and JavaScript as he tries to refresh some very old pathways in his brain.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Working Tyrelessly (Geddit ?)

At least for the first couple of hours today, the Gorse Fox was still trapped by the lack of fully function tyres on the car. The nice man from e-Tyres turned up just as the rain started. He took stock and showed the Gorse Fox the huge gash in the wall of his front tyre. This was not something that could have been fixed with the tyre's self-sealing quality and some compressed air.

Some 30 minutes later the car was properly shod, and the hooded stranger headed back into the distance. GF was technically mobile again... even if he had no intention of using this re-discovered ability today.

The on-going saga of the difficult appraisal continues. The Gorse Fox finds himself in the cross-hairs of a daily barrage of questions, sophistry, deliberate misinterpretation, and abuse. Today was no different. Fortunately, he has advice, guidance and support from Starfleet's HR. It seems that an accident with a teleporter might not go amiss. "Bones, I wonder if you could pop down to the transporter room..."

Wet stuff has been falling from the sky for most of the day. It must be intolerable for those affected by the flooding. There seems to be no respite.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Trapped

The flat tyre and GF's inherent laziness (couldn't be bothered to change the wheel) kept him trapped at home today. New tyres are ordered and should be fitted tomorrow - but for now, he's trapped. Given the state of the weather, this is no bad thing.

He continues to have trouble with one of the appraisals from last year. This is becoming a saga, and will in future times be sung about in the great epic poems of Starfleet. For now, he has to maintain his equanimity and try to shut this issue down.

GF was interested in the LibDem Party Political Broadcast regarding the European Elections. Even in the world of politics, it is rare you see such dissembling and such assertion that possible future scenarios are absolute fact. He must conclude that of the three major parties, the LibDems seem the least trustworthy. The Labour Party seem the least capable, having historically created economic chaos every time they have been in power since the 1960s. Interesting how both of these parties worked to crush the referendum bill that would give the electorate a say in the Country's future. The GF is not sure which way he would vote in such a referendum - there are arguments for and against. But he bitterly resents the self-serving political pygmies who believe the electorate should not have a vote.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Flat

It was an excellent day in the Starfleet office in Surrey. GF had time to collate some of the information that he had received from various sources. This was beginning to take some shape. Many of the team were in South Africa for week of workshops - but teleconference facilities allowed us to join in where needed.

The dreadful traffic at leaving time, in that part of Surrey, encouraged the Gorse Fox to try and find an alternative route home. SatNav duly programmed, he set off. The first part of the route was fine, but the overview provided by the display is not really detailed enough and GF had not noticed some of the finer points of the route selection!

These finer points were such that GF headed out in a different direction and then after a longer detour looped back round into the heavy traffic he had been trying to avoid. Doh!

To add insult to injury (or in fact, the other way round) as the GF approached the final mile of the journey home - he struck a pothole that ripped his front nearside tyre. It was the second time of the way home that he had hit a bone-jarring pothole - but this one was destructive. Not amused, he limped home. This would have to be fixed tomorrow, he wasn't going to touch it tonight.

Monday, February 03, 2014

HQ

The Gorse Fox spent much of the day at Starfleet HQ. It makes a change - and was his first visit in about a year (or more). Shame to see such a magnificent complex being split and leased out.

The purpose of the visit was to review the outcome of a recently completed project. This proved to be both interesting and longer than expected. In fact, in the two hours allowed, we managed only about half of the questions GF had prepared.

Back home, late afternoon, GF had to hear an informal appeal against the appraisal he had awarded. He hoped to be swayed by the arguments, but despite 45 minutes of intense discussion he remained  convinced his original assessment was correct.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Documents please

One of the outcomes of yesterday's house-clearance activities is that the Gorse Fox has a batch of new documents to file in the family archive. Predominantly old Wills and Estate Distributions they provide an insight into the extended family. This is going to provide several interesting hours of analysis and research.

We also found a set of 35mm slides from our wedding - slides that we had never seen before. Now GF just has to find the scanner attachment he has squirrelled away for scanning slides.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Defeat

We went to Buckingham to meet with the family and start to sort out the effects of the Silver Vixen's mother. Urban-cub came along to help. We had a major clear out a couple of years ago, so the task should not have been too daunting.

Several hours later we had taken over 40 bags to the recycling centre, a further 20 to the clothes bank, and provided enough metallic items (knives, forks, saucepans, racks, etc) to melt down and build and inshore patrol vessel.

Finally there was a sort through the material that could be kept. This created a further 6 bags for the tip, and a similar number for the charity shop. It also raised the spectre of defeat. Our downsizing exercise of last year being significantly undone as more and more stuff found its way into our car.

It was a long day, but everyone worked hard, and it was a job well done.

Encased

The Gorse Fox ordered, and has now received a protective case for his Raspberry Pi..

Most satisfactory.

These cases are available in a number of colours, but GF went for the translucent one so that he could observe the coloured lights when he is fiddling around with it.

Now he just needs time to come up with a project that will make use of it.