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Rains and Pours

Busy week

Okay, right now I am unemployed. My final day at Evolving was friday. They bought me leaving presents, and beer, and we went for a drink and I will, to a large extent, miss the company and all the people in it, it’s been part of my life for a couple of years, will remain my longest continuous employment period until I’m 28 at the very least, and is a decent place. They’re looking for PHP coders, incidentally, so if you speak PHP and are willing to travel to the darkest depths of Bedfordshire, send a CV (either to them, or to me and I’ll pass it on).

But I’ve left, which took – as you may have noted – quite a while. This may mean I’ve got some time to dedicate to the site. But don’t count on it, I’ve still got NWN2 to complete.

I wandered down to London on a visiting kick on Saturday, spent an entertaining evening with Sian, flatmates & guests talking, playing pool (I’m now a member of a Pool hall in E17. E17 and Sunderland, in fact. Linked by the fact I live nowhere near either, but I digress) and watching “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, a film I liked quite a lot more than I was expecting to. Wandered over to another friend’s house Sunday morning to, in part, steal his Wii for a little while and use it to play Super Monkey-Ball, which I’d also got as a leaving gift.

Ten hours later, we stopped.

Okay, so there was food part-way though that, but still. Ten hours. It’s a very more-ish game, you’ll spend hours stuck on a single level, and then the “just one more try” – or “just one more level” – thing takes over and you’re absolutely doomed. Do not buy this game if you have something to do this week. Or own a Wii.

I do not own a Wii, for the one that I bought has ceased to exist, along with the shop of the man who sold it to me and the money I paid for it. Now I get to go though Paypal’s complaints procedure. They say the measure of a company is how they treat you when you’re complaining, and now I get to see it from this end.

On a slightly happier note, I stayed over with the Wii owning ccooke and ruthi overnight, and the next morning got a phone call asking if I would mind popping in to ccooke’s company for an interview on my way back home. So, at about an hour’s notice, I’m in the offices of a startup in Kings Cross – entirely unrelated to the last one – interviewing for the job of Web Dev. Woo.

I went home, did little for a while, and got two phone calls. The first was from the company who I was interviewing with, asking for a second interview the next – ie, today. The second, and literally seconds after I put the phone down, was an exclaimitory web based company, asking if I would go to an interview on Wednesday.

At this rate I’ll never get any time to enjoy my unemployment 😐

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Home again, incidentally. Now off to work.

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Corperate Shrill Mode

Okay, The folks that I work for are looking for a PHP developer/Sysadminny type person in order to do, you know, stuff. For money. It’s a decent company, so if you are – or know of anyone – looking for that kind of thing in Bedford-type area, you could do a lot worse than take a look at the advert thing

Here endath the shrillary.

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Years, Drugs, Webs

So, Three hundred and sixty five days.

Fifty two weeks, at thirty five pounds on bus tickets a week, four and a half hours every working day is… No, I’d better not think about it.

Today is my first anniversary working for EM, and therefore ranks as my longest continuous employment since I had a paper-round. Yay the new economy.

There is a new design for Aquarionics on its way, BTW. Maybe even new content, or something. The design is stuck in limbo since I redesigned it in PSP and then my trial ran out, so I’m waiting until I can justify buying the full product. Or I could use that as an excuse to leap to Photoshop etc.

I bought the new Barenaked Ladies album – Everything to Everyone – last week (Via iTunes. Yes, DRM isn’t ideal, but until we can convince the record industry that there are more honest people in the world than people who will get something for free if they can. While we’re at it, can we convince me too?). It contains a couple of ‘future classic’ type tracks I can see myself listening to for a long time, and there is a track whose first lines are “You’ve never seen as many monkeys in the Daily Mail”, Which even out of context (It’s a song about postcards of chimpanzees) makes me laugh. I’m a sad person.

We have, once again, returned to the classic, battered battlegrounds of the War On Drugz. Every so often the needle of popular culture appears to drift from “liberal” to “conservative”, and the further into time we get the faster the metronome appears to be ticking. Anyway, some of the Popular Press (Who, in a rare display of Actual Humour, refer to broadsheets as the Unpopular Press) have decided that some of the white powder coating the fashion industry must be blown away (possibly in the hope that they can sniff it as it goes past.) and… and… in the great traditions of journalists everywhere, when someone says it better than I do I’m going to use their words instead. From The Friday Thing 2005-09-23 (Which if you don’t read, you should, it’s well worth every penny):

The point being – God, what *is* the point? The point being that
millions of people take recreational drugs in this country and
it’s madness to think of them as criminals. OK, so Moss happens
to work in a particularly stupid-money tiny-talent industry in
which coke-taking is practically compulsory, but frankly, even if
she’d been less lucky in life and had never made it further than
the customer service counter at TKMaxx in Croydon, she’d probably
still burn holes in her pretty little nose of a weekend. Only it
would cost her an awful lot more and would be cut full of chalk
and paracetamol. The point being, for the love of Belushi, in the
name of all that is holy and legally-permissable – it is a little
bit of coke. An inconsequential smudge of bullshit-dust. It is
not important.

Waging a deeply cynical tabloid war on celebrities who take drugs
is a waste of time, and investigating and prosecuting anyone who
take drugs is a waste of time and money. Furthermore, the fact
that Ian Blair took time out from devising futuristic Supercops
to get personally involved in publicly chastising druggy Moss is
madness, particularly as it means that now, if he’s not going to
appear like a hypocritical superloon, he’ll have to make it his
personal business to investigate Doherty, Deayton, Williams,
Walliams, every other catwalk model alive, 90% of all TV
presenters and pop stars, Russell Grant, Prince Harry… the list
is endless. He’s certainly going to have his work cut out for
him. He’ll probably have to bring in the TA to help out.

It’s very simple. Prohibition doesn’t work. The pros and cons of
various drugs don’t and shouldn’t come into it. The fact is,
people take drugs. They always have and they always will. The
least we can do as a society is educate people as to the risks
and ensure that if they do take them, at least they’re getting
stuff of a certain purity, and in relative safety.

Something like that anyway. The next weeks episode (Which would have been the first of October, I appear to have deleted the email and since I’m composing this from (looks out the window) somewhere between Henlow and Shefford (while bopping along quietly to Barenaked Ladies still) I don’t have a connection to teh interwebs) [Next week’s episode of TFT] had a rant on the subject of the government’s stated desire to have an “adult debate” on the subject of drugs whilst simultaneously refusing to budge from… well…

“Lets have a Proper Discussion on drugs. Okay?”
“Sure. I don’t agree with everything you say, not all drugs are the spawn of saran, you know.”
“How dare you publicise drug use like that! I can have you arrested, you know.”
“What? I thought you wanted a discussion on drugs?”
“We do”
“But if we even mention something that isn’t inline with your views, you say you will arrest us”
“Well yes, it is illegal, after all.”
“But not all drugs are utterly evil!”
“Yes they are”
“No they’re not!”
“Yes they are.”
“This isn’t even a proper discussion! A discussion is a series of statements made to establish a consensus or logical conclusion, this is just contradiction!”
“No it isn’t”
“Yes it is!”
“No it isn’t”
“Yes it IS!”


(Yes, I should have resisted the Python humour harder, Sosume.)

What else? Oh, yes. Web 2.0. Argh. Words cannot express how much I find this entire 2.0 thing incredibly annoying. The web is a series of evolving technologies, and the integrated web-app Gmail type thing that characterises Web 2.0 hype is just one new use of a reasonably new technology. It’s not that AJAX and DOM Scripting aren’t cool things, it’s just they are not immediately better than what we have. The ability to “access your information from anywhere” has the downside of not applying when you don’t have a net connection. In a world where “going to work” consists of going from network connection to another this may seem less important, but the world isn’t that globally connected yet, as can be gathered from my Henlow/Shefford statement above (As an update, I’ve now reached Shefford). From here I can’t access GMail, flickr, Mint or whatever. I could, I suppose, connect by connecting to my mobile via bluetooth, and then over 3G to the internet, but when I’m paying per kilobyte for my connection I’d quite frankly prefer optimised and compressed text-based communication. XML surrounds data with metadata, which makes it a good general transport protocol, but not a wonderfully bandwidth-conservative one. While in this bandwidth limited state, I get to view the world from the 1997 perspective of all styles and all images turned off, no sparkly effects or anything. I’d use Lynx if it didn’t feel silly doing so on a Powerbook.

This entry, btw, is part of a new initiative to get me to update more often. It consists of writing Journal on the way from Hitchin to Bedford and Frontier (Of which you know nothing) on the way back.

Explanations as to Frontier will be forthcoming soonish.

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There is the distinct possibility of multiple worlds colliding in my near future, which is going to be… interesting. I’m not sure how I should cope with working professionally with people I know online, but it’s going to be fun finding out (Of course, I only got my first job because of pol, so it’s not exactly unprecidented)

Vague enough for you? How about this:

The mist on the horizon that I’ve been gazing at for years has come into focus. I have yet to believe it’s ever going to resolve, but it certianly seems that way, and it’s either going to be the start of my return to something approaching sanity or else another albatross around my neck.

I wrote my first AJAX-based application today. Or, rather, finished. Sort of. It’s apparently broken in Safari, but I’ve got no way of testing that, yet, so it’s going to stay where it is for a while. I’d release it, but it’s an interface to our intranet’s diary system, and that would be Non Optimal, esspecially with my six-month review around the corner (Fear).

Stuff I can actually talk about, although it’s going to sound a bit party-lineish, is MATS, which is the name of the product that’s been consuming my work for the past six months or so. MATS is an attempt to use a combination of internet, SMS and other communication mediums together to help people understand where they are in a long running – and usually totally opaque – process, such as applying for a loan or mortgage. Nationwide are using it, which is cool. The website has more details.

This also means we are sending out Actual Emails telling people their mortgage has been approved. This makes life interesting.

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Short Notice.

There is a very special level of hell reserved for hosting companies who issue the 72 hours notice of planned downtime at 11:30 on the saturday of a bank holiday (ie, Long) weekend.

My impressedness level is not high. Pipex, I mean you.

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Work, Rest and Play

In much the same way that dancing around the high street naked will probably filter back to your co-workers, you should realise that anything you say on your public weblog will also possibly get back to them.

So, don’t do stupid things. If you do stupid things, apologise, find out exactly what you did that was stupid, and move on.

Google isn’t helpful in this. Within two weeks of my accepting the job with Evolving Media, my category of the same name was in the top five matches for the phrase on Google. This means that a client of the company googling for our past works will probably stumble upon this little rock in the ocean.

So, a couple of entries on here have been edited at the company’s request, and I’m considering a few things I’ve been looking at for a while, like blocking access to diary entries more than six months old (Articles stay, that’s the point). I’ve also added the disclaimer to the end of the site.

I’m also saving all my rants about what we’re doing until I can formulate them into an impartial essay on the relative benifits of technology over other technology, rather than “ARGH! $FOO SUCKS GOATS THOUGH FINE GAUZE!”, which would be roughly my current thing.

So, with little time to do anything but work (I’m passing taking my driving theory test on Monday, the next step in a long road that will lead – eventually – to driving down roads instead of taking steps down them) and censoring myself from everything I _am_ doing, this thing’s looking a little sparse.

Currently, however, I’m ill, spending time in bed feeling sorry for myself (and attempting to work) and attempting to start a movement to start the entire millenium again.

So, with no time and no energy, I’ve done the only logical thing.

I’ve started a new project, more creative than most of the recent ones. See how long this one lasts…

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Okay, so I’ve spent five days doing very little. I’ve scored zero for three on all the things I had to do over the holiday, zero for $MANY on all the things I wanted to do over the holiday, and instead have played to completion KOTOR2.

I am, as a result, quite a bit more sane than previously. I have a Lack of Stress, and am generally back to normal levels of me-ness. And I no longer feel the urge to go anywhere with a machine gun.

Now, a light-sabre…

I fully expect this trend to be in danger by half past six tomorrow morning and utterly destroyed within five minutes of being in the office. They’ve probably implemented the Great Office Movearound that’s been on the cards since I arrived in October.

Oh, and we’re doing interesting things I can talk about, too.

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Random screams of fear

Lack of posts. Here’s why:

My main problem with Zope is the documentation which is either a) for a version in advance of the one I’m using; b) has a prerequisite level I can only aspire to; or c) Doesn’t answer the question I have (like ‘What parameters do I feed it?’) whilst being the comprehensive, only documentation on the subject.

I’ve switched to KDE at work, because whilst I don’t like the interface, bloatedness or flakyness of it (esspecially JuK and Artsd, which I have to manually kill several times a day), the KIO system rocks (Basically, it allows me to open webdav documents with the filename ‘webdav:user@server/path/to/doc’, other documents over an ssh connection (fish:user@server/path/to/doc) or anything. There is absolutly no fucking way this should be part of the desktop environment, it should be split off from KDE so that everything, everybody, from curses to gnome to enlightenment should be able to (and should) use it.

Most of all, because the only text editor I can use with it is Kate, the KDE Advanced Text Editor, and I keep getting syntax errors because ”:wn” isn’t valid python. No, kvim doesn’t work. The Ubuntu (actually Debian in this case) package for AMD64 doesn’t actually include the kvim binary and I can’t get the thing to compile manually.

And now I have 10 minutes to get up and dressed before I have to go try to catch the bus. TTFN

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Day Off and IRC Evil

One of the channels on which I am an op is having a bad week. Nice little Script Kiddies with massively parallel spam-bots are attacking the small network it lives on, and the ops are spending their time playing whack-a-mole, as are the server ops.

Anyway, if you find the channel is restricted, /msg an op or /join #afp-invite and someone will let you in. Sorry, it’s just until we can attack flamethrowers to the defences.

In the time I’ve been writing this, someone has come into #afp-invite and left again because I didn’t respond in five seconds. This is not an automatic service

In other news, I’ve done the first bit of Christmas Shopping. I’ve bought the gift for the office Secret Santa thing. I hate these things. Fortunately, it’s anonymous. Unfortunately, I’ve resisted the urge to attempt to be funny. Ah well, maybe next year…

Oh, yeah. Office Party season. Thursday is our office Christmas party. This would appear to be exactly as Entertaining and Enlightening as it suggests, though since we’re at Jongleurs for it, the whole “eating cheese on cocktail sticks by the photocopier” aspect will be reduced.

OTOH, we have been mandated to wear “Outrageous Hats” which is kinda the ‘enforced joviality’ that I desperately try to avoid the rest of the year.

So today I also looked at silly hats. Sadly none were sufficiently outrageous.

I was crushed.

I did return today with not only the office gift, but a set of panniers and other misc. bicycle things, various and sundry items, and nothing I hadn’t planned to buy, which was very good of me.

Then I walked into the second hand bookshop, and had to get a taxi home.

Ah well.