Archive for November, 2006

Technology

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

In a comment to my post of Sunday, about the laptop wi-fi card failing, his Rockingness of Rob commented “Methinks that the old crappy card you took with you may have an issue working with the shiny network security protocols used Oop North”

Sadly it wasn’t the old crappy card I took with me: It was the good card that I’d been using in both the old laptop and the PDA. I knew that it worked reliably with both the old lappy and the PDA, so by using it Jenny would’ve been able to give the lappy a fair trial (or trial it fairly…sorry Henners!). This was the card that I’d always used at Jenny’s (and at home, and at Sarah’s) so I was confident that any problems Jenny had with the laptop wouldn’t be card-related.

Anyway, in a comment on that same blog, Rich said “Bet you anything the card will work again when you ‘trial’ it at home.”

Wrong :-(

So unless I can find a CF-wi-fi card on eBay (which is where I got this one from), it looks like I’ll have to make do without it, ‘cos I’m not going to pay sixty quid for a new one. Luckily the new lappy doesn’t need a card, it’s got wi-fi built in, but it’s always been quite convenient to be able to write e-mails, blog entries etc on the PDA and just send them when I get home, without having to fire anything else up. I suppose when my technical advisor has fixed the desktop, I could fit a bluetooth thingy and connect that way…

Anyway, that’s the technical situation: Jenny has a laptop that she can’t do anything with except play Solitaire, or perhaps play CDs on: Since she only wanted it for internetting I deleted Microsoft Office and everything to increase the available hard disk space. I can’t wi-fi on my PDA, and without investing in a new card, the old laptop is even more useless than it was before.

Sigh.

Ooh, and one other leftover bit of news from the weekend: Stu gave me a couple of sachets of the “Royal Coffee” he wrote about in this blog entry. He was right – it’s vile. I’m saving the other sachet for when someone I don’t like visits the office and I’m asked to make them coffee ;-)

More Weekend Stuff

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

I’m starting to feel a bit like Aviatrix, with all this retrospective blogging. But I DID promise you yesterday that I’d tell you about the hotel.

On the grounds that a picture paints a thousand words, have a look at these…

Here’s the assault course involved in getting into the bathroom in my room. It was a twin-bedded room – this bed was OK, the other was so soft you’d end up sleeping in what could be called “the hairgrip position”.

Take a close look at the bath in Chris and Jenny’s room. That pink stuff is filler. Roughly done filler.

Not a very good picture, but the woodwork in Chris and Jenny’s room was a bit rough. And saving the best till last…

Here’s the power point to the bedside radio. It’s OK -the connection is properly made using choc blocks.

Ooh, and I’ve just noticed that yesterday’s offering was blog entry number 1000! I guess it’s a bit late to make a fuss now… :-(

Update

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

A supplementary post to yesterday, for Marie’s benefit (she asked about the Fulwell Flasher)…

As we walked along the seafront, there were some cottages on the other side of the road: One had a huge picture window, in which a man, obviously with nothing on, was standing with his back to the road. It wasn’t that exciting really.

Another Blog about What I Did at the Weekend

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

I suppose even those of you who aren’t actually interested will be expecting an account of the weekend’s caching activity?

Well, a fair up-summing would be the phrase “not much”. Jenny drove to Tyneside on Saturday, and after delivering Chris to the traditional non-league football match, we went Chrimbo shopping in the Metro Centre, only five minutes walk away. Shame we drove really, in the Saturday afternoon traffic it took nearly half an hour. Anyway, there’s a cache somewhere within the Metro Centre, but a combination of rubbish GPS signals, and there being about twenty million other people in there, meant that I didn’t even get to look for it properly.

Still, the hotel we were staying in DID have a cache-and-dash in the car park – sadly that was about the only thing the hotel had going for it, but that’s for another blog.

On Sunday morning, Jan, Andy, Chris and I tried for a nearby multicache: Jan soon retired hurt with shoe problems, but the rest of is carried on, spotting the Fulwell Flasher on the way. Sadly the final cache location proved to be a fail-to-find :-(.

And on Monday in Nottingham I took the wrong approach to the nearby cache and didn’t have time to try again. Still, it’ll still be there next time.

Fun Fun Fun

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Well, the pub quiz was fun :-)

Chris and Jenny took me to their regular Sunday evening music quiz, where we teamed up with Stu and Sarah and Ian and Helen1 and put in a performance that could best be summed up as “feeble”. Our crowning achievement – apart from not coming last2 – was guessing that the answer to the next question would be Motorhead singing “Ace of Spades” before the question was even asked, but since everyone else had guessed it too, it wasn’t THAT clever.

And most of today, of course, has been spent travelling home. Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, it’s only a three-hour train ride, but the business of packing, giving the cats a treat before leaving, walking to the station (and feeding the ducks on the canal on the way) and eating lunch at Derby station seem to have turned it into a six-hour one. Without even an amusing Virgin Trains announcement to enliven the day, the oddest moment came with a phone call on the company mobile from Sean, my boss. Partly it was odd because it means he’s finally learned to call the company phone rather than my personal one, but the main oddness was the content of the message: as far as I could tell, he was ringing me on my day off to apologise for ringing me on my day off.

As I may have said before…

Eh???

Oh and by the way – in keeping with tradition, I left something I didn’t intend to leave, at Jenny’s. Found what it is yet J?

1 Hope I got those names right, it was a bit noisy in there and they were sitting on my deaf side
2 But only just

Bah

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

…humbuggery

You’ll remember that I’ve brought my old laptop to Nottyham, for Jenny to trial until New Year when we’ll decide if she wants to buy it or not. The main thing she wants it for, is downstairs internetness.

So it’s a real nuisance that the wifi card which I brought along for her to borrow, appears to have died sometime between Friday evening (when it worked OK) and now (when it doesn’t). As you can see, there’s nothing wrong with the actual network, ‘cos I’m blogging on her deskytoppy.

So I guess I’ll be bringing the lappy back down south to see if I can get it going :-(

And in other news, we had a luvvly weekend with John and Marie, and yes, I did eat most of the salad I pictured yesterday. Of course, I did have a couple of other things with it…and now we’re about to head out to meet Stu and Sarah for the pub quiz :-)

John and Marie’s party

Saturday, November 25th, 2006


John and Marie’s party, originally uploaded by gottlegog.

John and Marie’s party

Announce

Friday, November 24th, 2006

OK chums, I’m in Nottyham, overnighting before heading north tomorrow to another of John and Marie’s fabby parties.

For reasons I’ve blogged about before – in summary environment-friendliness, economy (given the Gruntmobile’s rubbish fuel consumption) and the stress of the M40 on a Friday evening – I chose once again to travel by train. Let’s just say I’m glad I reserved a seat: once I’d turfed out the obligatory iPod-wearing Manchester United supporter and explained to him what the “reserved” sign on the seat meant, I could at least sit down for the rest of the journey. I didn’t dare stand up or I’d have lost the seat again, but it didn’t really matter: the aisle was so blocked with rugby players and university students (and their bags of dirty washing) that I couldn’t have gone anywhere anyway.

Something else I’ve blogged about before is the superior humour of Virgin Trains on-board announcements: tonight’s gem was “Now I don’t want to depress you people but we’re just arriving in Basingstoke. This is Basingstoke, but don’t worry, we won’t be here too long.”

Cricket Makes You Sleepy

Thursday, November 23rd, 2006

Don’t get me wrong…I love cricket. That’s the problem, really.

Anyone who hasn’t spent the last six weeks on Mars will know that the English cricket team are in Oz, preparing to get slaughtered in the test series and lose the Ashes: In fact the first test started last night, with live commentary on Radio 4 Long Wave. So, at four o’clock this morning I had to get up for a couple of minutes1 anyway, and on going back to bed I decided to put the radio on and see what the latest score was.

The trouble – or the start of it – was that I couldn’t remember the frequency of the long wave service in my sleep befuddled state. So I had to start by surfing the internet on my mobile phone to discover that the long wave service is on 198 metres2. Next problem was that my bedside radio only shows frequency, not wavelength, so I had to sit on the edge of the bed and try to do the maths in my head: “Two metres is 150 MHz, so 198 metres is gnnnnhhhhhhhh…”. I eventually worked out that it would be something like 1510 kHz – which amazingly my calculator has just confirmed to be correct – but then, without my glasses on, I couldn’t work out how to tune the radio.

I gave up in the end, and went back to sleep. I have enough trouble getting up in the morning3 without sitting up half the night listening to England getting thrashed..

1 Which reminded me of how Tuesday’s conversation about prostates – which I blogged yesterday – got started.
2 I know, I know…I could have just internetted the cricket score. Don’t be awkward.
3 Stop sniggering, Stevens.

Winner

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

John, someone I work with, has won an award :-)

It was a competition organised by our parent company’s parent company, so he was up against quite a lot of other people: It was for personal achievement beyond the requirements of his own job, in the field of Health and Safety. John’s a nice guy, always keen and enthusiastic, and really deserved to win.

And guess who wrote his nomination? Yeah! GO ME! W00t!

In other news, I was having a nice chat with a chum on MSN last night, when somewhat bizarrely the subject got round to prostate checks. After discussing it for a while, we decided that the only difference between having your prostate tickled, and attending a weekly management meeting, is that the prostate check isn’t every week.

It doesn’t take as long as a management meeting either :-(

Ongoing Debate

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

The debate I told you about yesterday – on the Health and Safety aspects of in-car satnav – rages on.

Like most debates on the Health and Safety forum, the serious stuff has all been done and it’s now turning a bit personal. The general concensus seems be that yes, satnav CAN be distracting for the driver – but properly used it’s less distracting than any other means of routefinding, like trying to read the map while you’re driving, and looking out for road signs.

It all got a bit personal when one contributor suggested that everyone who was in favour of satnav was only interested in playing with toys: He was close to suggesting that satnavs were the province of careless drivers like those who do their makeup or use handheld mobile phones while they’re driving, or even drive BMWs.

Speaking of which, don’t get me started about the BMW driver who cut me – and loads of other people – up on the M3 this morning.

There is, of course, a substantial band of Daily Mail readers who want to ban everything: Mobile phones, satnav, big 4x4s, in-car CD players, and anything else that might distract the driver from his primary function of wearing string-backed driving gloves and eating Werthers Originals. They’ve all missed the point, which is that a careless driver is a careless driver: Take away their handheld mobile and their takeaway Little Chef coffee, and they’ll go back to reading porno mags and wolf-whistling at pedestrians, which is what they did before mobile phones were invented. Whereas a driver who has some consideration for other people’s safety can fill their car with gadgets, nagging passengers, screaming kids, barking dogs and the omnibus edition of the Archers, and still stay focussed on the road.

I prefer a nice Dire Straits CD, myself.

Making Progress

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Over in the exciting world of the discussion forum on the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health website, debate rages as to whether satnav promotes road safety, or is a distraction.

To me, it’s a bit of a no-brainer – if you’re going somewhere you’ve never been before, you can find a route in an atlas, then struggle to follow it, while looking out for road signs, dodging traffic jams, and trying to concentrate on driving. Or you can have an electronic gadget that finds the route for you, recalculates as you go, and gives you spoken directions so you don’t even have to take your eyes off the road. But it all inspired me to remember the good old days, before satnav was quite as advanced as it is now…

I can’t remember when I bought my first GPS, but I’m guessing it was about 1996: There was no on-screen mapping in those days – you programmed in the Lat/Long co-ords of where you wanted to go, and an arrow appeared on the screen, with a “distance to travel” readout underneath. They were still running “selective availability” then, as well – which meant that the US Army (who owned the satellites, and still do) would deliberately vary the accuracy of the system so you could never be sure how accurate civilian units were. Military units had a thing built in to override the inaccuracy. As a driving aid it was pretty restricted, as you might guess, but if I had a long trip to somewhere new, I used to programme key junctions in as waypoints so at least I knew when turnings were coming up. Even in those days it was better than trying to drive and work off the map :-)

Now we’ve got accurate mapping on our GPS displays, much greater signal accuracy and talking directions. And in the meantime, of course, some clever person invented geocaching ;-)

Sunday Again

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

A lunchtime conversation on MSN…

Gottle: Oi!
Rockin’ Rob: Y-e-s…….
Gottle: Busy this arvo?
Rockin’ Rob: Not overly. Any reason ?
Gottle: Cupla caches?
Rockin’ Rob: Sounds plan-like…. :)

There’s a couple of caches fairly close to home which I’ve been saving for when the days become too short to go further afield: With the shortest day being only four weeks away I decided that today was probably the day :-)

First was Stuck up the Inlet, in Bursledon, just outside Southampton. An interesting walk which challenged us a bit, but with the application of a bit of ingenuity we found it in the end.

Then after a pint of Diet Coke at the nearby hostelry it was into the centre of Southampton for Grandad’s Ditty Box: This is a great puzzle cache, I solved the puzzle to get the final co-ordinates ages ago, and it’s taken me this long to get around to it. Still, it was worth waiting for.

Sunderland next weekend: Want to do a cache or two, Jan?

Ow!!!

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

That was what I said this morning, when Emma (the practice nurse) stuck her needle in my arm. Still, that’s the flu jab over for this year.

The other major event of the day was taking Mum to lunch at our favourite pub, followed by a trip to Haskins for mucho Chrimbo shopping – which went well, apart from being harangued for bad parking by some woman in the car park (sorry Sarah! ;-) ). The rest of the day has been devoted to sorting out the old lappytoppy for Jenny – including a triumph of intelligent computer sorting-out by me :-)

I think I might go caching tomorrow afternoon.

At Last!

Friday, November 17th, 2006

It’s the weekend! And it’s lobstering down with rain!

Rain was creating a few problems round Southampton this evening: I left work just after four, intending to head for the gym and a good workout, followed by a relax in the steam room. Unfortunately, the 6-mile journey from work to the gym – normally about twenty minutes – took me over an hour. Traffic was heavier than normal, but the main problem was stupid people who don’t know how to drive in heavy rain, and compensate by driving at five miles an hour and stopping every hundred yards. Of course, having a Gruntmobile, a bit of water on the road doesn’t bother me – although I had a bit of a surprise when I drove at full speed through a deep puddle without remembering to put the windscreen wipers on “high speed” first :-s

And yes, I had checked there were no pedestrians or cyclists in the “splash zone” before I did it!

So after all that, only a short gym session after all. At least the forecast for the weekend is better :-)

Yawwwn

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

About the only exciting thing that’s happened today is that I bought a beard trimmer.

As you can see, we’re pushing the definition of “exciting” here even for that to get in. But after the last three days (in which I’ve calculated I worked 35 hours), I didn’t really mind a dull day. I even got up late this morning and didn’t get into work until just after eight!

One day to the weekend…

Head Banger

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Today I have mostly been banging my head against a brick wall.

I told you yesterday, that today we were having the closing meeting for the three-day audit. Given that the overall outcome of the audit was much better than we expected, one of m’colleagues demonstrated an unusual method of clearing up a few points in the closing meeting. Suffice to say that my boss and I spent the next hour apologising for his behaviour and trying to restore in the auditor, some faith in our integrity as a site.

The colleague in question now thinks I’m avoiding him, because I spent the rest of the day working in a different office, rather than using the one we share: In fact it’s mainly because my network terminal has died again and I needed to find somewhere I could access the company system. Although there is a danger I might stab him with a big knife if we spent too long together.

Usually after one of these big audits, I try to plan so that I’ve got a couple of easy days of brain dead work, to get over it. Sadly it looks as if tomorrow will be spent on accident investigation following one of our delivery drivers injuring himself. Must remember to wear old clothes tomorrow :-(

Over

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

A day earlier than expected – and at the cost of working twelve hours today (and no, I don’t get overtime :-( ) – our “three day” assessment is over. Only one major problem found, and that was something that we
a) Knew about
b) Had planned to put right
and c) Head office wouldn’t let us spend the money on.

So I’m happy with that – only one major and it was proveably not our fault. I’ve been getting well stressed about this one over the last few weeks, and now – apart from the formal closing meeting tomorrow morning – I can forget all about it until next time. Of course there’s all the minor issues to put right, but that’s all just part of the job anyway.

I think I might go caching on Saturday to celebrate :-D

(UPDATE: Balls. Just remembered I’m having my flu jab on Saturday :-( )

So Far, So Good…

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Today was the first day of a three-day Health and Safely inspection by Important People from our parent company. I haven’t been expecting it to go too well, but I have to say so far it’s been better than I thought. It has helped that the Important People and I have discovered that we have the same opinion on some important subjects!

Of course, with three days to go there’s still plenty of chances for it to go pear-shaped. But at least this evening I’m a bit more confident than I was this morning.

One interesting thing happened during the day: One of the Important People commented that he’d been telling various less-important people what he was going to be doing today. “Ooh”, he was asked, “is Paul Gottlegog going to be there?”. Replying that as far as he knew I would be there, he was told “He’s leaving isn’t he? Got a much better job somewhere apparently.”

More news on my alleged imminent leaving-ness as soon as someone tells me :-)

RadioHead

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

Today was spent doing odd radio things.

Hampshire RAYNET have been given the chance to use big aerials at a number of hilltop sites owned by the communications mast people. We knew these sites were good, but we didn’t know how good – so today was the day chosen to test them.

Our group is looking after an aerial near Winchester, in conjunction with our next-door group, so that was the one we were most interested in. It had good signals to everywhere we tested at first – which was the main thing we were concerned about – so while the rest of the county tests were going on, I went for a drive to some other places we wanted covered, to see how well it worked. All down the Avon valley provided good signals, but my favourite – after the formal checks were done – was when I contacted Winchester using my handheld from the ferry across Keyhaven harbour. Only the radio geeks will appreciate how good that is!

Why was I on the ferry across Keyhaven harbour? To do this cache :-)

And then I went to visit Sarah and the family and see Lenny, their new King Charles Spaniel. Cute, isn’t he?

Red

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

I had to go to the Post Office this morning.

It’s an odd sort of place, Shirley Post Office. It’s one of those places where all human life is on display – well, most human life anyway. There’s a distinct lack of that subset of human life known as “people who work in post offices”, which means there’s plenty of time to study the surroundings. There’s a stamp dispenser with no stamps, a photocopier with no paper, and at least one customer – the one in the queue behind me – with no marbles.

The biggest surprise of all, however, was the copyright notice on the wall. Apparently, “The words ‘Royal Mail’, the cruciform logo, and the colour red, are registered trademarks of the Royal Mail”.

The colour red??????

In other news, I’ve just been watching “Robin Hood”. I know this series hasn’t gone down too well with the viewing public, although I reckon it’s truer to what any real Robin Hood would’ve been like, than anything that’s gone before. Nottingham doesn’t seem to have changed much, either. But Maid Marian practising tai chi?