Thursday, 28 June 2007

Playing With My Zoom

Just lately, I've been spending a liiiiiittle too much cash ... possibly using the up-and-coming holiday as an excuse!!

The latest addition to the shopping trolley is a Sigma 70-300mm APO DG Macro lens, which arrived today. Admittedly, its not the one I originally wanted, but I don't really want to be taking an expensive lens away with me and it is my first zoom lens, so I forked out for the cheap version to get some experience before I get the better one.

Unfortunately, you can tell this is the cheap version!

Okay, I've probably been spoiled by paying for silent drive motors and image stabilisation in the past, so hearing this lens grind and wheeze its way to focus like an asthmatic nympho came as something of a shock.

However, you get what you pay for, and I paid for something to feel comfortable travelling with, so I took a little hike out into the country at lunchtime to try it out...

Tring Church

Poppies Ahoy!

Purple Plumes

Tomorrow, I can look forward to the snorkelling kit I ordered today!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Expanding Horizons

Blimey, I've only gone and done it!

"Done what?" I hear you ask.

I've only gone and joined the Facebook revolution ... well, more of a band-wagon than a revolution, really!

I had joined a couple of months ago, but decided that I didn't need yet another site to maintain, so dropped the account within a few minutes. Then I overheard a number of friends discussing it at the BBQ at the weekend and figured I might as well try it again ... it had to be better than the abysmal MySpace experience I had a couple of months ago: in their defense, I happened to pick a day when they were having overload problems.

Darn it if I'm not now addicted and distracted!!

But how long before the initial addiction wears off and it becomes just another site with not a lot happening?? Only time will tell...

One thing I didn't realise is that there is something of a class war going on between Facebook and MySpace. Apparently, MySpace attracts the more hip'n'happening crowd whilst Facebook attracts the more academically minded ... allegedly!

This is a view that is bound to upset someone, somewhere, so all I can say is don't shoot the messenger! I'm only commenting!!

So how would you class those individuals who have profiles on both sites? Do they have schizophrenic tendencies, or are they both smart and creative?!

Or indecisive??

If its the latter, then look out for my own MySpace page very soon!!!

* * * * *

It seems that yesterday was my day for creating accounts left, right and centre as I also signed up at BlogCatalog in order to try and publicise this very blog. Okay, I probably won't increase my readership as there is nothing here of particular relevance to anyone other than those who know me, but you never know what knew friends you're gonna meet, right??

What I didn't realise was that BlogCatalog is more than just a blog directory, functioning as a community site, too. Okay, not to the same levels as those mentioned above, but a nice and simple community site where you can make new 'friends' and locate a ton of interesting blogs to read.

Now all I gotta do is pluck up the courage to leave a comment on the blog of someone I don't know!!

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


For my birthday this year, my cousin bought me a great t-shirt with the phrase 'I see Dumb People' emblazoned across it, which I am considering either having blended with my skin as a permanent fixture or copied as a tattoo!

Okay, in fairness, I can occassionally be one of those dumb people if I'm not thinking straight, but working in IT you get to meet more than your fair share of people who managed to somehow stumble into the gene pool.

Yesterday, I had a call out of the blue from a customer we had finished doing work for three months ago, wondering where we were with fixing an issue they raised in May. Um ... considering we responded with a series of questions and never heard anything back, we're not likely to be anywhere with it, are we?! Especially as they are not paying us for support!!


Anyway, I said I would look into it and asked them to send me the creation scripts for the database configuration in order that I could duplicate the situation in development. However, the bright spark chose to send me the scripts for the version that works instead of the version that doesn't!!

Aaarrrggghhh!!!! People!!!!

If you expect us to fix something, what on earth is the point of referring us to the working version?! We can't fix something that works!!

Perhaps I'm being too hard on the person in question: he does have a lot on his plate, after all...

That said, leaving it two months before throwing me an urgent job and mere days before I am supposed to go away, doesn't make me very amenable. I don't know how this guy does it, but he always manages to lump something on me at a critical time, resulting in my working overtime to get the job done instead of using my non-work hours to get my own stuff done.

Every. Darn. Time.

* * * * *

Over the past couple of weeks, I have noticed a disturbing fact.

Somehow, I seem to have gotten into a toilet cycle with one of my colleagues.

I guess if I visited the gents when I needed to, instead of holding on until I've completed a piece of work, then it wouldn't be an issue. However, I get to the point where I really need to go, and he ups and walks out to the gents!

The first few times was quite amusing, but now its happening several times a day and I can no longer bring myself to go at the same time ... this is one of those cycles that must be broken!!!

* * * * *

It seems that Tring may not be quite the pure English town that you might at first think ... though I guess it depends on your interpretation of a pure English town!

As my hair needed a bit of a trim (which is all it got as it was shorter than I thought), I popped into the barber shop on the high street. Although 'popped' sounds like I wandered straight in, whistling to myself, whereas the reality is that I waited for the place to empty so I could increase my chances of getting one of the girls: the last time, I had my hair cut by the guy that works there and he didn't do a particularly good job ... and he kinda weirds me out ... like when you feel uncomfortable around someone but can't explain why?

Anyway, the girl who cut my hair was in a bit of a mood as someone had nicked a parcel that had been left for her on Saturday. In her own words, she figured it had been "taken by the drug dealers upstairs" ... hang on, drug dealers?! In Tring?! Two doors down from the cop shop?!

Are we talking serious stuff here or a couple of students making the most of the local poppy population?!

I seriously considered doing a runner while she was on the phone, after all, it wasn't like she had done any work yet, but I lost my chance to disappear. However, this did give me the opportunity to learn a little more about this not-so-sleepy Hertfordshire town.

The obvious thing to do is call the police. Okay, they probably won't be able to do anything but at least it would be logged and have a crime number. However, this option was off the list as she didn't want to tell the police what was in the package, which means it had to be either a) totally dodgy, or b) a sex toy.

I'm plumping for the latter as she looked like she needed it more.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Off in La-La Land

Cor blimey guv'nor, 'as it been that long since last we spoke?!?!

I guess I've been a bit out of it lately, disappearing off on one of my lows. Or as my old friend Michelle would say, off having my monthlies: all the mood swings only without the gore.

Unfortunately, I've been pretty quick to anger these past couple of weeks, and have snapped at my family, my colleagues and my boss, though there is still a part of me that thinks one or two of them deserved it!

As I went to see the docs about my asthma which has been playing up for the first time in about five years (so I am now back on the ventolin *sigh*), I figured I should ask about my mood problems. He felt that it wasn't family that was the problem, but work (won't argue with that), and said I need to take some time out ... what a stroke of luck, as I'm off to Sri Lanka next week for my cousin's wedding!

Though if I don't come back in a better mood, I need to go back and see him...

So, I guess a fair bit has happened since I last posted, I just can't remember much of anything! This is about all I can remember:
  • I finally bought my suit, shirt and shoes for the wedding, with a little fashion assistance from Foshie. I saw some nice, light beige shoes in Next, but as he pointed out, light shoes with a light suit would just make my legs look really long and I'd look like I had no feet. Last thing I want is to look like a stick man, especially with my cousin being so much shorter than me, so I took his advice and bought some darker tan shoes which go much better.

    Of course, I had to buy a matching belt, too!

  • I finally sorted out some money to take with me, though I think I may need some more.

  • My bank account was stopped as I was spending too much money - not helpful while trying to sort out for a holiday, but the security aspect is appreciated.

  • I bought the Epson P-5000 photo viewer but still haven't decided if I am going to take my camera on holiday with me or not

  • I lost my application form for the great north run, so haven't been able to fix a place.

  • After the rather heated discussion I had with my boss the Friday before last, there was an amazing example of perfect timing when an employment agency contacted me out of the blue, on the same day, to see if I was looking for work. Needless to say, in the high state of emotion I was in at the time, I said yes, so they put me forward for a job in Luton. I haven't heard anything since, but at least it perked me up for a couple of days. Maybe that's all it was intended to do...

  • I had a heart-to-heart chat with my Dad (well, as heart-to-heart as you can get over the phone), where he admitted that over the past couple of weeks, he has realised that I am more like him than he previously thought. Which isn't great news as he was put out to pasture by his employer due to stress-related illnesses.

    I need to be stronger.

  • I slept a lot

  • Went to a friend's BBQ where I met the most adorable 2-year-old who reminded me of an animé character, and who I managed to make laugh by wobbling my head and stomping my feet, which was cool. Also made me feel slightly broody!

    I also discovered that the friends I had been keeping away from because of my bad moods really did miss me, which made me feel a little emotional - good job I was leaving at the time.

  • Slept some more

  • Finally caught up with Doctor Who ... ooooh, tense!
And now, here I am back at work, getting support calls from a customer on a job that finished 3 months ago and who hasn't actually paid for any further support.

I am soooooooooo looking forward to getting away, despite the stresses of new things!!!

Friday, 15 June 2007

Not So Happy Chappy

Sorry, but this posting is going to be a whinge!

Hopefully, that old addage of a problem shared is a problem halved will be true - so as I appear to have four consistent readers, perhaps it will be quartered?!?!

Just lately, things have not been going all that well: a couple of weeks ago my washing-machine-slash-tumble-dryer went tits up for the fourth time, giving me an F-13 error again; my Wii gave me not just a disc read error, but a proper full-on error, followed closely by the replacement I got last night; and my home computer now reboots itself after five minutes with an error and no warning of what caused it.

Add to this a customer that doesn't have a clue what they want and a boss who [edited rant here!] and I'm sure you get an idea why I'm reaching the end of my tether. Oh, and there is a REALLY annoying alarm going off outside the offices at the moment, that doesn't want to stop.

All of which explains why I currently have a face like a bulldog chewing a wasp!



On an up note, I saw this sign when I went for a calming walk in the rain at lunchtime...

It's the first two lines that got me...

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Strange Behaviour

This morning, for some unfathomable reason, I joined the ranks of the breakfast club runners! Admittedly I was at the bottom of the heap as it took me nearly half-an-hour to run just over 2¾ miles - an awful time considering what I was managing last year.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not a morning person, so it is something of shock to actually be getting up at 6am. Despite the multitude of alarms that ring through my place first thing, it still takes me over an hour to drag myself out of bed after the first alarm taps at my sleepy head. I keep expecting Doc Emmett Brown to knock on my door to admire my clock collection ... either that, or the police to tell me to keep the noise down!

Mind you, I did sleep through most of Pirates of the Carribean on Saturday, so I had probably caught up with what I needed! That's not to say it was a boring film, for all I know, it wasn't ... I wasn't really awake to make that judgement!

So what triggered this gasp-inducing attack of fitness?

Well, other than heading off on holiday in three weeks time and wanting to look vaguely human, I've decided to sign up for the Great North Run again ... like I didn't knacker myself enough the last two times!

As per usual, I chickened out of the ballot back in January, so have had to apply for a charity position. This year, I will therefore be attempting to raise money for Clic Sargent, a charity that provides help and support for children diagnosed with cancer.

As I have to raise a minimum amount of £350, I will be looking to you wonderful people to throw heaps and heaps of your money my way!

However, I still have to send off the pledge form, application and registration fee. Once this has been done, and my position confirmed, I will create a fund-raising page to make it easy for you to make your donations ... and then whack a huge link over to the right there to act as a constant reminder! :-)

Right, I'm off for a kip!

Pirates of the Carribean
Cath's Birthday
More Wii probs

Friday, 8 June 2007

Slip Sliding Away

In those infamous lyrics of Simon and Garfunkel:

"Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination,
the more you slip sliding away..."

And why, you may ask, is this tune at the forefront of my mind? Because it happened to be the first thing I thought of as I disappeared sideways off the loo this afternoon.

I don't know what the other guys have been doing to that lavatory seat, but one of the anchors fell loose as I sat down, the seat went sideways, and my destination was very nearly a puddle on the floor.

That would have been a hard one to explain, trying to dry my bum off under the hand dryer ... and it wouldn't be the first time I've had to do that, but that's a story for another night!
* * * * *
Despite half the birthday cards not arriving from people who sent them - someone at the Watford Sorting Office must be having a birthday on my behalf - my birthday the other week was a pretty cool affair. No fuss, just a quiet drink with friends, taking in the good weather. But probably the best part is that it isn't quite over!

This morning, a present arrived in the post at work from my cousin and his fiancé. I had a feeling I knew what was coming, but not the specifics. Considering the time I've had at work these past couple of weeks, what they bought for me really made me chuckle:

Shame I can't tell you just yet what I've bought him for his birthday!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Parody Parody Parody

Just a handful of clips I Wii-ed last night that made me chuckle, so I thought I would share them with y'all!

Lord of the Rings Parody - sorry no, embed code for this one :-(

Pablo Francisco - PreviewMan

Abba Muppets

Harry Potter

My Wii Life

Well, I am now all jabbed up with innoculations for the holiday to Sri Lanka, and quite a heady mix it was: Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Diphtheria, Polio and Tetanus. I'm just disappointed there were no hallucinatory side-effects ... it would certainly have made work more interesting if there were Sprites hopping around the place!

Then again, with the new work comp arriving yesterday, its probably best there is nothing around to mess things up for me - I'm totally capable of doing that myself.

Because I had to go to the docs for the jabs on Tuesday, my boss asked me to work at the customer site, which was nearby, so he could ha
ve a chat with me. When we did finally get to talk, we broached the subject of my future position in the company.

Quite rightly, he has always been of the impression that I did not want to be a director in the company. However, since those early days I have started to change my mind and told him that it was my lack of self-confidence that was holding me back, which he agreed with.

So, the plan now is for him to hire a life coach for everyone to talk to in order to boost morale and to try to help people take responsibility for their work life. This includes talking to me about my oddities and helping me gain confidence in myself and, perhaps, become less of a perfectionist *shudder*. Then, if I still want to go ahead with things, he will send me on the appropriate management courses. Woohoo!

As much as I enjoy development work, its probably about time I moved on and let someone better take my place.

* * * * *
So, all-in-all, Tuesday was a pretty good day. That is, until I got home and tried playing the Wii.

Horror of horrors, though half-expected, my little white bundle of fun wouldn't read the Sports disc, instead flashing at me this nerve-jangling message accompanied by a rather unpleasant sound from the disc drive...

And what does the manual say? Yup, you got it: turn it off and on again!

Several attempts and discs later, still no luck, so I did the only thing I could do ... I growled!


Odd, yes, but
good if you want to avoid doing an impression of Superman kicking a football ... though if I could kick it that far, I probably still wouldn't be able to kick it straight ... I'm not exactly known for my coordination skills!

Refusing to be defeated, I remembered that one of the games had performed an update and that Foshie had had to perform an internet update on his, which I hadn't done yet. Surprisingly, I was able to set up Wi-fi really easily (I still can't get my PC or PSP to use this - though the PSP works if I turn off encryption), and performed an update.

Ohhhhh, the relief ... though a few bouts in the ring helped get rid of some of the aggression!!

So last night was spent Wii-ing YouTube ... in a manner of speaking!

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Doesn't time fly...

...when you're having fun?!

Well, maybe not always fun, but certainly when there is plenty of stuff to occupy your mind.

After the shenanigans of last week, I wasn't sure if I would be welcome to GB's and JM's leaving drink, but JM apologised on the Wednesday for the stressed texts and said that he had contacted me out of frustration, which I had already guessed but it was nice to hear ... especially as it meant I could now have a drink! I don't get out that much, so the opportunity to relax and have a couple of bevvies is a welcome respite from the constant brain-ache!

On the Saturday my Dad came up to visit without my Mum as she wasn't feeling well, so we popped over to see my Aunt who appears to be regaining her eyesight! She is currently registered blind and so is the proud owner of a white stick she can beat people with, but she can still see a little and needs the kind of reading aids that make print large enough to be read from the moon.

However, this year she has been bouncing around the local hospital suffering from anaphylaxis, which I gather was down to medication but also from eating cucumber*. So, to help her out, her friends have been praying for her and, it appears, that in the past 6 weeks not only has my aunt not suffered from anaphylaxis, but her vision has improved and she can now clearly see copyright marks on hymn sheets - perhaps she should be a new character in Heroes!

The weather was pretty good, so we headed to a pub for lunch - suggestively called the Fallow Buck, opposite Flash Lane! Haha, we Brits and our penchant for odd names!

Or am I just odd in the head?!

A tour of the nurseries and a few cups of tea later and my Aunt was safely stored away back in her flat whilst my Dad and I headed to PC World and Toys'R'Us ... where I was this close »•« to buying a Wii!! However, I resisted and we returned to my flat where we had quite a deep chat.

Sunday brought with it more good weather and a trip to Waddesdon Manor with Foshie where there were even more cars to photograph, this time a handful of old Invictas and all of them in great condition. I didn't see anyone with the old Biggles goggles though, which would have added a bit more character to the photos!!

Then yesterday I finally succumbed to the Tug of Tech or Gotta-have-a-gadget-itis ... I bought the Wii!

I blame Cath who wouldn't let me out of Toys'R'Us until I had spent some money ... I was just gonna settle for a packet of Minstrels ;-)

Now before you all complain about my not getting a real console, let me placate you by confirming that I will be buying the PS3 later in the year, once I have bought an appropriate HD TV. I figured that since Sony are ditching the 20GB version and releasing an 80GB version later in the year (though heaven only knows why they don't fit a 350GB or 500GB with current prices), then I might as well wait until the Christmas pitch starts as the prices should drop and there will be better package options available.

So be quiet as I will join your merry ranks in due course ... just don't expect any great gameplay skill!!!

I have to say that there is some good tech behind the Wii and Cath and I had a great night beating the living crap out of each other: which was apparently the best night she had had in a long time ... glad to know I can hit all the right buttons :-D

* I knew there was a reason to dislike the stuff - anything that can be used as a sex toy should never be eaten!