Friday, February 29, 2008

Virus alert

No not the insidious computer wreaking variety, rather the more modern viral marketing.
Recently logging onto Facebook or checking my email I have found more and more "Funny" video clips forwarded by my friends which are nothing but adverts for products. It bad enough the internet is chock full of advertising without my people forwarding more to me. I know some of them are funny but it sometimes feel like were are simply a frame to wrap advertising round (Maybe I should put in a link to Amazon here just to be ironic!).

Today is February 29th, quiet an unusual day, traditionally it the day women can propose to men. I haven't received any proposals this time though, maybe in 4 years time!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Infected Mushroom

It has been another busy week, made more difficult by the lack of a car. Unfortunately at first the garage was too busy too look at it, then since they did they are having difficulty locating a part. I feel really guilty taking so many lifts, my Mum has even been taking the bus to work so I can get to work. Thanks to the dire state of public transportation it is actually easier for my mum to catch a bus to Withington than for me to Wilmslow. There is a bus which runs from the end of my road into Manchester (passing through Withington and Didsbury on route). I would have to catch two buses and it would take longer for me to go a much shorter distance. I still feel guilty though even though she offered, my parents will do pretty much anything for me which is great but also makes me feel like a child, I can never be independent while I am here. Ill always be an ungrateful and underachieving person until I get some more independence into my life, get out of the comfort zone as they say.
Talking of comfort zones, last night I was just drifting off to sleep when the earthquake woke me. For some strange reason it made me think of the night I went out with Martina and the French assistants; I don't really know why my brain made the association, but it did. One think struck me, something I have realised meeting them and other people recently, I'm not a tactile person at all. The French girl did the European lets kiss as we great thing and I really found it very awkward. I have never felt comfortable at close quarters with people, it just wasn't part of my upbringing. I always feel awkward and flustered, I think it makes me appear standoffish and aloof, which isn't the case at all. I actually really like hugs, I just lack the confidence around people that I don't know well.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Woke Up In A Strange Place

Today was the day of the Lan Party. It wasn't the best planned event I just have not been able to find the time to play games never mine set up game servers. So I spent last night tweaking the server to at least play the usual compliment of games. It took a couple of hours to update everything. After which I caught up on lost. I have reservations about what they are doing, this season they seem to want to try something different but at the same time not know where to take the story.

I woke up shutdown and packed up the servers then grabbed breakfast. While I was eating my mum needed to go out, she going to the hairdresser with my grandma. My dad offered to back out my car and let her out as I was eating. 10 minutes later he came in and told me it wouldn't start. We called the AA and the man arrived in about 25minutes. He poked around and suggested that the fuel pump isnt pumping anymore, so he transported it to a garage. Its probably going to cost £100's to fix, C'est La Vie.

I had to ring Bruce and ask nicely if he would pick me up. We mosied on over to Phils as they had arrange for the keys to be dropped off there. Phil had to take his parents to the Airport as they were off back to Deux Alps to see Tina again. Bruce and I waited while he left and came back, still noone bearing keys arrived. So Phil phoned the guy, and two minutes later found the keys, thye had been dropped off the night before :S

We squeezed the gear into the cars and headed to the legion. I opened the door, tapped the code into the alarm, it kept beeping. I shouted to Phil he tried, then the alarm went off. The noise was excruciatingly loud, I thought my head was going to explode. The club were burglarised recently, so two things happened, firstly they changed the alarm code secondly they added two extra loud sirens. Another phone call and we managed to get the code, it only went off for a few minutes but it felt like and eternity.

We finally got into the club with no sirens blaring, and had our first stroke of luck. Someone had left some extra tables. We set up the tables and chairs with the extra we were more than ready for a crowd. Unfortunately the setup was marred by the game server dieing. It has done over 10 lan's without a hitch the server for the games event broke. We tried a repair and managed (about 2 hours after people arrived) to rig up something but it caused a lot of disruption and meant we couldn't share files around easily.

After we got going the gaming went alright though and we dropped the £5 entry fee because of the disruption. After gaming, Pizza and a few beers everyone seemed to have a great day so despite everything we made a success of things.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

C64 + Wii?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When Under Ether

There was a hole in my logic this morning, I spent a stressful few hours trying to work out what is was. After I got to the bottom of the problem though today was relatively non-stressful and productive, a nice change.

It being Thursday I met Sarah for lunch. We chose a different venue this week trying out the rectory. It was pretty quiet and we were served really quickly. I think the food is a little better at the Slug but the service was certainly better at the rectory. I am afraid to say I made a very foolish error. I bought a card for her upcoming birthday and left the damn thing at home. I didn't even think about it until she was sitting opposite me.

We had a long chap about the house I am interested in, having worked in the rentals market she has a lot of experience so I was keen to hear what she had to say.

Afterwards we were having a general chat about past events. It was very strange in a way as her recollection is an oddly parallel one to mine. It felt vaguely like watching a news program where different people are being interviewed about the same event; they all describe the same general themes but there are subtle differences in their perception of the occurrence. I found it fascinating listening this alternate version of our shared reality.

This evening I managed to get a gym session in, I haven't been going very regularly because of work so I found it very difficult, Still I feel a lot better for going, as I walked down the stairs to get changed I was covered in sweat but I had the slightly euphoric feeling of having done myself good.

To celebrate I went to the pub to undo all the good work. Phil and I met Nick and Becky, for a drink in Bramhall.
It was kind of strange, like a return to the past. Its early days but they seem to have a more knowing and wise relationship now, I wish them all the best.

Giving up blogging

No not really I just was laughing at giving up bloggingthis

Im not the only one

Working with dead languages then this guy seems to have a made a career working with Cobol a something I always assumed was longer dead than basic.
I am not entirely sure I believe he wanted to get into Cobol programming, but I do enjoy the fact he has seen a gap in the market and learned the dark and ancient art in an attempted to fill the gap between modern and elder language.
On the same lines I found this article lamenting the loss of the older programming languages as a terrible loss as a teaching aide. In his mind one of the great things about the older languages like basic was they allow you to quickly put mathematical exercises into practise and actually see the logic in practise. The more abstract modern languages are so removed from the operation it is no longer possible to see the connection between the code and what the computers is actually doing. I certainly agree when I was a kid there was something magical about typing in code snippets from magazine and actually seeing something come to life on screen.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Halber Mensch

I have an early morning tomorrow I should be in bed already but I am tired and upset. I an really angry with myself it seems like all I can managed to do at the minute is screw things up. I have lost a little faith in myself to be honest. It hasnt helped that someone that I really felt were going to be a big part of my life have let me down pretty badly, I suppose I should have known better.
Work is not much better, today I overheard a conversation in which some new guy at the customer site was getting heaps of praise. Now that is great only a big part of what he was being cited for is actually partly my work on top of the whole award mess last week it really made my blood boil.
Japanese class was inteteresting this evening though I am worried its not strong enough for my travels, not long until I leave now. I aam really looking forward to it, in fact its one of the very few good things on the horizon.

I Feel It All

I went house viewing this evening, saw 4 Houses. 2 in Edgeley, one in Adswood and one in Shaw Heath. Amazing the differences really, all had major pros and cons, the first was next to a take away and due to the enlarged bath the occupants had put in it was impossible to open the door, answer remove the door to their bathroom.
Next place was OK in the reservoir area but was mostly un-modernised and struck me as far too much of a project for me to take on.
The third place I had almost dismissed before walking through the door. On a main road opposite a petrol station and next to a newsagents. We were joking about how much of a waste of time it was. Only when we actually walked into the place we we both pleasantly surprised. It was really spacious especially with both the cellar and attic converted, it also required next to no work to move in. Really the lounge is the only room that need attention. I was also toying with the idea of renting one room out to help fund the place [that is only an idea at this stage] There are some more details to be worked out yet but a promising prospect never the less.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Well last week was truly awful, work ate into my personal life to such an extent life away from work was virtually none existent.
Two very late nights and the general slog, pressure really got the better of me by Friday I was worked out.

Before I left work though there was one last kicker. Over the last months of 2007 there was a large reorganisation at the customers site. The ICT department (where I am based) all worked really hard and it seems the management realised this and came to commend everyone. Well everyone apart from me. Now I realise I am not an employee, but I do work there everyday and have don't for years, and I worked hard really hard getting things done, a word of thanks would have been nice. Plus the knowledge that the whole rest of the department get to go out on a company paid for piss up is rather galling.

I had arranged to go and see the new Paul Thomas Anderson film with Martina on Friday night. I enjoyed it, though I found it like all his films strong on acting and visuals but without a really strong story to back it up. I mean the general story was OK but to personally I really enjoy watching the charaters develop rather than just seeing them as they are. Either way though it was a well worth a watch even though I was so tired I found it difficult to concentrate.

Saturday I went shopping, I really wanted to buy a new coat to replace my aging leather one. The wares on offer were not to my tastes though so I ended up getting some new trainers instead.

Today I spent the morning looking at someones PC, it was pretty stressful as he likes to talk and not listen so sometimes its difficult to put a point across.
After that it was round to Nick's, his ADSL router had finally arrived so I attempted to install it. I failed at the first obstacle though, as the DSL service hadn't been enabled on the phone line.

I tried to sort out my accounts afterwards but ended up getting distracted, I am pretty useless at chasing money from people. There are at least 5 people that owe over 50 enough to keep the server running for months but I having been able to get them to hand over the cash.

After that defeat I helped my dad finaly get his site fully running. We had to experiment a lot but finally got the initial webservice running.

After finally getting it up and going I rewarded myself with a pint down at the Thieves with Nick, Phil and Bruce. It was the first alcohol I drunk this weekend. If I can start getting back to the gym next week and retake control of my life everything will be fine.

I have 4 viewing booked tomorrow, hopefully it should give me a better insight into Edgeley. My mum came up with some crazy scheme today for me to take over their house, but I don't think it would be possible unless I either shaft them or bankrupt myself so I think its a none starter.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Destroy Everything You Touch

This has been a very, very long week. Its gone so fast that its almost a blur. On Tuesday the address lookup system we used expired, it has a built in self destruct if new files aren't loaded within a cut off period. It isn't normally a problem, simple insert the update CD and run a script. The only problem was nobody could locate the CD. No problem though the customer has a support contract so they can download the update, just one quick phonecall... The tech who called up received a recorded message telling him to a download site. I thought this sounded a little suspect, and I really thought so when the download speed was so slow, only attributable to the number of people downloading.

Along side the lack of automated address lookups strange errors started to be reported. With a greater and greater frequency a rather weird "Unexpected operating system error" kept appearing all over the place. More and more users reported the error, I couldn't really explain it and contacted so of my colleagues. They all suggested either hardware going wrong or corrupt data.

The problems escalated at pace, the first reports came in the morning when I got in at 9 but by 1 the system had ground to a halt. That meant the entire companies main CRM system stopped running during the middle of a busy day. I was sat at my desk surrounded by a group of staff and managers peering over my shoulder and asking when it was going to be fixed. Only I didn't have a clue what the problem is.

Actually I am doing myself a disservice, I did manage to locate the problem within a reasonable time, the main data file for customer enquiries was corrupted. I also managed to convince a colleague to get me a copy of the address lookup software. A reboot restore and data copy later and we were able to get users back onto the system.

Unfortunately the backup system was broken, so after this frantic day I had to go home, then log in after hours and copy back the live system to the backup. It took until 3am, I was like a ghost coaxing the copy.

I got the morning off to recover, I even managed to go swimming. Unfortunately the problems well still reoccurring, though they were more isolated. I spent the afternoon looking into it on the phone to various people.

It bothered me all night, I went round to Martinas to watch a film. I was so tired i found it really hard to concentrate on the film. To be honest I didn't enjoy the film much at all. It was called a cock and bull story its based on some famous book. Martina and Annika seemed to enjoy it having read the book at university. I found it to knowing and too much packed full of the usual lovees of the British comedy scene.

Today I really hunkered down on the errors, and finally found another data file which had corruption for a number of cases. I felt really good about locating and finding a solution to the problem even though it meant more out of hours work.
I felt much better about going out for lunch having a solution under my belt. I met Sarah at the Slug and lettuce. We had a nice chat about houses
I stayed up tonight cleansing the data of all the bad records. I still have no real idea what caused the initial problem, it seems to have been the names software maybe corrupting memory space, but I cant prove it. I suppose unless it happens again I will never know, maybe that is best.

I got called into see one of the managers, he started by complimenting the way I handled the problems on Tuesday. It was nice to hear, though the overarching message was one of we have more work to do and we need you to concentrate to get it done. One moment was very pleasing he questioned the wisdom of putting me in the middle of the room, whether it was leading to me getting distracted.

I got a valentines card which was somewhat surprising to be honest. In fact I think its only the second one I have ever received. The thing is, the postal stamp is south east, I don't know anyone in the South East. Well at least no single women, at least that I can think of.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In Between Dreams

I went to look round a house this evening. It is a little 2 bedroom terrace in Edgeley near to Stockport rail station. I quiet liked it, apart from the decor the place is in pretty good condition.
I am not entirely sure about the area, there are a couple of tower blocks down the end of the road.
I also found out that one of the flat I look round in Handforth which was in the process of having a new kitchen now has the kitchen finished and has come down by a couple of thousand pounds. I have arranged another viewing for later in the week.
After the viewing I went to Rusholme for a curry with Martina, her friend from Germany and a trio of French assistants. We tried out Pink Garlic, its a pretty big restaurant on the first floor. They have a joint Chinese and Indian menu which is quiet unique. We all eat Indian though.
The place is pretty impressive they have spent a lot of time on the decor it looks the part. Unfortunately neither the service or the food lives up to the grandeur of the place. I was extremely underwhelmed by the food, it wasn't bad, just not as good as a lot of other restaurants I have tried.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Wizard

This weekend was very up and down, and extremely busy.
Friday night after a manic week at work I was already feeling tired, unfortunately for me I had to do a weird split shift and go back onto the system after the call centre closed. So after dinner and watching an episode of Lost (which is getting more and more obscure) at 10.30 I logged in remotely and ran a tidy up program, I then had to wait for 1.5 million records to convert.

The reason for this out of hours working was an accidental deletion of a database job which broke all sorts of things that are needed to move data between the software I work on and the clients databases.

As well as running a data conversion, I also had to do some extra system modifications which meant I had a very early Saturday morning session. By the time I got home at 10 I was feeling pretty tired. I decided the best plan was to head to the gym. I decided to print off a workout and give it a good bash, having not going properly regularly for a couple of months I find it very difficult, in fact I felt very weak. I will certainly have to find some more time to go.

Saturday evening it was the comedy night at the British Legion. I asked Martina to join us as she had previously told me that she hadn't ever been to a live comedy show. Bruce and Nina came along, also Phil turned up despite having travelled to Scotland and back to take part in an Aikido session there. Also present were Nick and Becky, yes that's not a typo somehow the experiences apart (and with over people) have conspired to bring them back together again. I don't know if it will last but I hope that they are both able to be happy.

I think Martina enjoyed the evening, it certainly caused a little controversy, somehow Becky seemed to think that there was something going on between Martina and Phil. This amused me greatly when she proposed it. I drove so I got to watch Martina and Phil drink whilst I supped coke. She was very drunk and I pretty much poured her home.

At least the actual comedy was good, apart from the first rather strange American comedian finished talking about Bush, the next two were brilliant observational comedians. The guy who finished up had me in complete stitches. As usual a day later and I can't even remember the jokes!

Sunday was another hard day, I went to visit someone to look at his PC. I tried my best but this computer has been played with by several people and has a ton of conflicting (and useless) software on it. I did my best but I felt guilty taking his money, even after hours there I hadn't really achieved very much.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ready for the Floor

It's been a strange kind of week, I have worked really hard putting in early mornings and late nights to get a project finished. It taught me a valuable lesson, despite my best efforts rather than praise for hard work and a job done, there was simply more work and harsh words for not "being positive" and completing everything (an impossible task).
It made me feel rather demotivated today, if I try hard and its not enough what the point really?

Another blow came from an unexpected quarter. I usually stay in the office or go home or eat with my parents which is nice but very typical, thought sometime it can be painful. I had planned another lunchtime getaway with Sarah. The last few meetings have been a a lovely and interesting change. It has been nice to get out and spend time with somebody interesting and different. Unfortunately today she had a migraine, and so went home, I really hope she feel better soon.

Tonight I planned to go to the gym but I felt tired, and instead ended up at Nicks house. I ordered a new computer for him last week and it was sat in its boxes in his entrance hall. It took a couple of hours to sort out, transferring the data from his old computer.

We drank cans of Carling as I fiddled with settings and watched progress bars. It was an interesting evening I think we got closer than we have been for a long time. I felt pretty shut out during the whole Brie period, perhaps because I had my doubts from the get go (about the speed things moved, I only ever met her twice, and always in group setting so I cannot pass comment).

Nick's internet connection isn't in place yet so I was limited in the scope of what I could practically do. Beyond setting up and transferring data I managed to get rid of a lot of the junk programs installed by default. When I finished we went to the Thieves Neck, it felt like the old days having a Tete-A-Tete about relationships past and present (and future). I really missed his company, it strange how hard it is to identify things until they are gone.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I spoke to someone today and asked a question about a mutual friend, she answered that they dont see each other anymore. I wondered why she told me the mutual friend dissapeared when she met a guy. I find it really sad that people who are so close can so easily drift apart.
The real reason I find it so sad is because I know who easy it is despite the best intentions to drift apart form people. Relationships (friendships included) take work to maintain, as soon as you abandon them they decay. I am really going to try and make an effort not to let that happen, I really value my friendships.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Country Death Song

I had an good Saturday. This morning I went for a walk round Style woods with Martina. It was a cold but clear day and if felt nice to be outside enjoying the air. We talked a lot about dogs, most of the people walking had dogs and she misses hers.

This afternoon I watched the Rugby, it the first England match of the 6 nations. It was on BBC HD so Phil and I went round to Bruce's to see it on his big telly. I nearly lost my mind in apoplectic rage as the England threw away a half time lead with stupid play. There is something missing from English sport some killer instinct that the Aussies or Kwis have, we make chances and throw them away, the Aussies go for the kill.

After the match we relaxed and dined on Costco lasagna.
Afterwards we ate doughnuts and watched No country for old men. Its a bit of a strange film it reminded me of a history of violence a little. The story is a fairly simple one a red neck finds a bag full of money after a drug deal goes wrong. He is then tracked by the Mexicans, sheriff and a psychotic killer. The sheriff character is played by Tommy Lee Jones, he does a great part disturbed by his advancing age and the violence surrounding the drug trade. I liked the movie but it was a little depressing and there was no real resolution at the end.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

When Under Ether

I managed to finish work early today I was owed some time after coming in early yesterday and being phoned after work. Never the less I got some weird looks leaving work. Its always the same they are happy to burn into my spare time but when I try and take something back its met with derision.

It was lucky as I planned to go visit a friend in York.
She invited me for the evening as she works weekend and I work in the week its hard to catch up with each other. With leaving early I was able to make it to York for 6 so we were able to have a nice evening together. She cooked a really tasty Polish dish, I couldn't even pronounce it!

Travelling back I was faced with snow, ice and wind, it made the journey very interesting.