goznet ...

David's diary: July 2004

Oh joy, I'm back at work today and back down to earth with a resounding crunch. Needless to say, the software has evolved into an "interesting" state during my fortnight's absence, and as usual there's an unrealistic deadline for a release build. I fully expected the software to have changed a bit while I was away, and have no problem with that - life goes on, and all that! - but the changes have broken loads of things that worked last time I was here. So I've had to spend the last hour or so writing a diplomatic email to our Slovakian friend basically suggesting he backtracks on much of what he's done while I've been away, and asking him how long he would anticipate my alternative requests to take - assuming that the "one hour" required to meet the release deadline isn't very likely to be his answer... Yep, I'm back, and like McDonalds, hatin' it.

But in happier news, I do now seem to have acquired a lovely wife, have only to tolerate a mere two-day week this week, and we've got a nice thunderstorm here in Guildford. Let's just hope for a power-cut, so those two days get cut short and I can go home to my aforementioned lovely wife. Doubt it'll happen though, but Katy's promising something nice for tea later, so I am sure I will cope...

No power cuts, but I managed to salvage the day by insisting - and the powers that be accepting - that I spent the last couple of hours getting started on an auto-update system for the software, so that we can do better hot-fixes for the bugs we're unlikely to properly stomp on before the slightly deferred release. As I'd hoped, the company has now announced its forthcoming move of premises, but it's not really in the geographical direction I'd been holding out for, so it's probably no surprise that I'm weighing up my options again somewhat now.

This evening, after munching chicken kievs and perusing the prints and CD-ROMs back today from the single-use cameras we made available at the wedding, we've been along to cell group which was a social to celebrate Sarah's birthday. They were also showing a film but it wasn't going to finish until way after us newlyweds' bedtime - no, really - so we made a fairly early getaway, but not before we'd done the decent thing and partaken in cake and bubbly of course!

Enjoying a rather better day today, helped by not being half rammed off the road by a juggernaut this morning and not taking an hour to get in to work. However, the latter did mean I arrived way before everyone else and had to wait ten minutes for a key-holder to turn up, so all was not entirely perfect.

But work's being OK, since I'm being able to get on with coding, specifically this auto-updating stuff, and so far it seems to be working very well. I'm able to compare installed files with optimal files, updating and deleting the former as necessary. It really doesn't need to do much more than that, surely?

Very quiet here today, which is helpful for things like that, thanks to various people being on holiday. Early finish too, being a Friday, and I have been requested to seek out a bottle of wine to go with some left-over wedding cake!

The journey home took well over an hour though, even taking into account going via the off-licence for a bottle of red. But pasta bolognaise and wedding cake meant that was swiftly forgotten. We watched The Fifth Element in the evening, but it seems my memories of it were a little rose-tinted, and I don't think I will be bothering again. Today's been a funny day weather-wise, but Katy and I managed a walk round the block this morning, picking up a paper on the way, and got a little bit wet at Frensham Ponds this afternoon - though only thanks to the rain, not falling in or anything silly like that. Us, silly? Oh, never!

Quiet again here at work on Monday, with even more people away than on Friday. I've mainly been working on sorting out a few subtle problems with the code I was writing towards the end of last week, and writing a tool for helping with the admin side of the system. And fixing the server room air-conditioning, since Josh - who would normally do such things, in the absence of anyone having anything like that in their job description - is working from home today, and Gary was getting concerned about the number of warning lights flashing away...

So Katy and I have been married just over a fortnight now, and so far so good with our new status and domestic arrangement. Yes, some things are taking a little bit of getting used to, but we remain very glad we did things in the order we did. Katy also has the fun of sorting out things like her passport and driving licence, since she gets the raw end of the deal with her change of surname, but she assures me she'd not have had it any other way! As for news on the honeymoon, wedding photos and so on, watch this space - but don't hold your breath, since married life is remarkably good at consuming spare time!

Foul day and a headache - perhaps in part due to banging my head on the desk one too many times - but at least I have a wife who understands me and after all that still loves me. On the bright side, the former can only get better!

With three hours still to go before I can head home to Katy, today's dragging more than ever. Mind you, At least amongst all the continuing hassles, I have got a reasonable amount done today, and people seem largely pleased. That is the problem though - that I am not enjoying it here for anything more than the most fleeting moments, and don't feel I'm doing a very good job, but everyone loves what I do nonetheless, and that does lift me quite a bit. Are their expectations really that low, or do I just have poor self esteem? Probably a little bit of both, in truth; the latter is something I know I have a problem with, and that I must persevere with working through, but the former certainly appears to be the case too, given some of the second-rate work that they have accepted from others. Katy and I have agreed that I will step up the search for another job, and hopefully one that won't involve two hours or more on the road every day - which would still be the case after the relocation to Ripley - so perhaps there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to be a little careful, with Katy's work situation remaining a little uncertain, to make sure we don't do anything silly, so I hope this will be a company I can vaguely tolerate until something better materialises without having any major psychological problems in the meantime. I just wish I could be sure of that...

Katy asked yesterday evening whether having decided I'm not staying in this job any longer than absolutely necessary would mean I would get less stressed about the many problems I encounter. That would seem to be at least partly the case, because I'm merely wryly laughing about some of the avoidable issues popping up today rather than ripping anyone's throat out. Though it's lunchtime now, so anyone mentioning work to me over the next hour is likely to get an impromptu and un-anaesthetised laryngectomy regardless. Perhaps I'd better take a walk.

Apparently the Powers That Be didn't like the fact that I went to lunch, while there might possibly have been an outstanding problem with the software - as if there aren't a hundred more serious problems with it they don't give a flying one about. I've promised Katy I won't do anything drastic without discussing it with her first, so I'll refrain from telling the company where they can stick their stupid job, for now at least. But let it go on record that if it wasn't for the aforementioned promise, I probably would have done exactly that by now.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. We've apparently just had a customer on the phone grumbling that our software won't install on her Mac. Admittedly our system specification is a little vague because no-one actually checked it before publishing it, and it doesn't actually specify Windows and/or PC, so I do actually have a degree of sympathy with the customer given that Java stuff should work in theory at least. Meanwhile, I "vanish" for my usual hour to clear my head and have my lunch, and all hell would seem to have broken loose, yet I send an important email relating to this oh-so-critical problem, and over three and a half hours later, not a jot back. Typical eh? Sales people as a species seem to think the world revolves around them, yet where would they be without a product to sell in the first place, eh? Eh? Yes you're quite right, there is no "I" in "team" - but there is most definitely a "U" in "muppet".

Dear Santa

I know it's not Christmas, but I thought maybe if I emailed you during the off season there might be more chance of what I'd really like being in stock, or at least available on quick back-order. Anyway, what I'd really like is a job where my skills would actually be well used, where I won't have to run round and round in circles fixing other people's mistakes rather than getting on with material enhancements to the products I am working on, where the advice I am asked for and willingly give is taken notice of and possibly even heeded, where second-rate hacks and fudges are not the accepted norm, where management lines are clear and well adhered to, and I can just basically enjoy my hours doing.

Somewhere that didn't involve spending up to a quarter of my waking hours on the road stuck in traffic jams would be nice too, and any necessary batteries.

Thanks in advance

David

P.S. No need to worry about a present at Christmas now, if that helps at all

No reply from Santa yet, but today is being bearable, and I have got a new job application in the pipeline now - though the local agency in question has a track record of uselessness, so I am not overly hopeful of anything coming of that particular one. But when all's said and done, today is Thursday, which means tomorrow's Friday, and then it's the weekend, so not all is bad. And I still have a lovely wife, even if she's going to be busy for most of Saturday - though it will be my opportunity to prove my culinary skills are still alive and well, because guess who's promised to cook something nice for the evening!

Another day, another job application off through the ether, and hopefully to someone who will actually read and act upon it. Another nail in the coffin of this lot came today as they have announced that new recruits - including me - will not get the benefit of the shortened working hours on Fridays. I wondered whether it was simply that the provision would from now on just be a goodwill thing rather than contractual, but it's by no means certain, and would seem to go in the face of verbal agreements. Rob says he needs to leave early today anyway, so we shall just see, and they'll have to bear in mind that I don't have a key so if I end up being the last to leave, they'd better watch out.

Oh well, I got a reply to the application I sent off on Wednesday, regretting that my C skills aren't sufficient - and I think the job would have needed more C than C++ or Java, by its nature. But at least the agency in question says they're putting me on their database this time, so there may be other openings. I preferred the look of the job I applied for today anyway, looking a lot more up my street both figuratively and geographically speaking, but we'll see.

Last night Katy and I went to our first gig as a married couple - in fact it was our first gig at all, but that's a minor point. In contrast, today we're having our first Saturday apart as a married couple. But tonight I am cooking dinner from scratch for us for the first time as a married man. Lots of these "firsts", some of them more pleasant than others, but all part of this new and very real life that I am starting to become quite accustomed to I have to say!

My stir-fried duck with an orange, red wine and cashew-nut sauce and a mango salad went down rather nicely this evening after Katy's busy day of leadership training. Meant we got to use our juicer for the first time, which Pete and Kim gave us for Christmas, since anything but freshly squeezed orange juice just wasn't going to cut it. Both very tired now though, so now we've done about half of the crossword, Katy's reading one of the supplements from the Saturday paper for a few minutes while I check my emails and whatnot, but we'll be off to bed very soon, and anticipating what delights Sunday might bring us.

This diary left exciting weddingy happenings last month at the end of Day Two, which I merely described as having been "jolly good". Specifically, the day was spent decorating the hall and marquee. In line with our policy of keeping it simple, that mainly meant balloons, streamers and flowers but it all worked very nicely. In the evening we had an abridged run-through of the ceremony, and Matt got to meet Catherine properly, but by then everyone was shattered, so our vague plans for an evening drink came to nothing - though we had been out for lunch with my parents earlier, so that was not too much of a hardship.

So on to Day Three, the big day itself... My dad helped me get ready, and drove us both over to the centre, intentionally just too late for me to get too involved with anything that I might decide demanded my personal attention. The bride was, of course, late, though that was actually agreed because some of our key guests of honour were stuck on the M3 so we held everything back a quarter of an hour. Then apart from George our photographer forcing a restart when he found his film wasn't properly loaded, Mike breaking a guitar string us usual, and Catherine fluffing her introduction, the service went beautifully and just as we had hoped and dreamed. Katy was sparkly and radiant in her dress, and I only just about kept composed... The weather forecast had been touch and go, but the rain held off all day, and the outdoor photos were taken as efficiently as we could have hoped. Everything went perfectly with the reception, with a top notch job from the catering lady and her daughter, though I gather there was an impromptu feast after church on Sunday with the considerable left-overs.

Almost everyone we'd hoped would make it did so, with just a very few of our relatives having to cancel at short notice for health reasons. It was great to see so many people from different walks of life - young, old, Christian, non Christian, whatever - enjoying themselves and getting along so well. Almost a shame that we have no plans to do it all over again, but I am sure we can find an excuse to throw a party or three over our forthcoming lifetime together.

A few people hadn't quite got the message that we were not - well, formally at least - partying into the night, but families in particular were starting to drift away once we'd done the speeches and cake, so we were able to get away at about five o'clock as we'd hoped. We hit the weather driving up to Banbury, I seem to recall, and had a bit of trouble finding our hotel, but we got there in the end and although a Premier Lodge mightn't have been the most auspicious venue for our first night of wedded bliss, it did the job and the food was good both for supper and breakfast. Sunday we drove up to Carlisle, stopping to stretch our legs at one of my favourite spots near Crummock Water, and then early Monday evening we finally arrived at our self catering cottage on Skye.

The cottage was small, basic but comfortable, and there was a selection of wine awaiting us on our arrival - conveniently including a chilled bottle of bubbly - and it made a fine base for the next few days. I won't bore you with all the details, but we visited quite a few places during our stay, though with Katy's health as it was and remains we mainly did the "lazy tourist" thing and drove around, taking only fairly modest strolls here and there. The highlights - at least as far as going out was concerned - were probably visiting the Talisker distillery, where our landlady happened to work, having an excellent curry in Portree, meeting some "hairy coos", and going on a seal-spotting boat trip. But there were plenty of other nice secluded bays and so on that we found on our travels, and the odd ruined castle, and given the distances we had to drive to do all that - not that far as the crow flies, but the Cuillins really do not help! - we were kept plenty busy during the daytimes, and thankfully Katy was able to share the driving, as was the case for our journeys to and from Skye.

We pondered taking our time driving back south, but decided in the end we'd go for it and just stop at Carlisle again - which had proved to be a perfectly decent hotel - and enjoy a few days settling in back at home before I needed to return to work. So we got back to Farnham Sunday evening, leaving three clear days. Of course, unwrapping presents and opening cards took a good chunk of that time, but as we'd hoped, we were able to get up to London on the Tuesday, with the highlight of that being a trip on the London Eye. We also went to the Tate Britain gallery, but although we now feel more educated we were a little disappointed. I think we preferred the art in the OXO Building galleries - and would certainly consider returning there if needing to brighten a new home!

So there you have it, you're now bang up to date pretty much - at least with the important bits, and those it's appropriate to share in such a public forum!

I've made absolutely diddly squat progress this afternoon, but not for want of trying - and I would challenge anyone else to have done any better... Is it really asking too much to want to work in a job where I can be both productive and do something worthwhile? Richard has asked that I get back to him by tomorrow morning regarding my desired involvement in the next phase of this infernal silk-purse-making exercise. I said "OK", but on the understanding I wouldn't be spending any of my own time giving it thought, though on the other hand, how long will it realistically take me to decide the inevitable, that I want as little to do with it as possible? Putting it tactfully will be the hardest part, and that will just depend how close I am to being beyond caring.

Today's being a little better work-wise, helped somewhat by having had a vaguely bright idea of how I can get round the problems that were blocking my progress yesterday. Not enough to make me feel particularly upbeat about the job in general but at least I might not go home tonight with a dented forehead. Another interesting twist came into play earlier, with the announcement of a likely change to the monthly OTE scheme being brought in, such that us mere developers would get a slice of the pie as a reward for having given the sales crew something worth selling. Money never has been, and still isn't, the driving force for me - or I very much doubt my "career" would have taken the path it has - but these are all important issues to weigh up, I suppose...

Down a bit today at work, though probably not quite to the sulphurous pits of Monday. Just frustrated at the nature of some of the bugs to be fixed. Maybe I am over-conscientious, but I tend to work on the principle that if I break something that I am sure worked before, I will try and fix it. However I am still "ploughing through" bugs that manifested themselves during changes made while I was away on honeymoon and that no-one could be bothered to resolve before going beyond the point of no return. Not actually that many bugs, but really big, nasty bugs that I can only really stare at, utterly dumbfounded.

If my predictions were right - which I've never had a chance to prove - by now the sales team could have been at least a couple of weeks into selling my rewrite of the system. I'd like to say they could be selling it on the basis of concrete and demonstrable functionality, but of course - living in the real world as I do - I am sure they would have dreamt up another load of vapourware features to promote. Trouble is, their current "vapourware" features include fundamental functionality that I really cannot see ever becoming reality...

It's clearly a slow-news morning, with the lead television and radio headlines being that - shock horror - the BBC has discovered evidence of racism in the upper echelons of the British National Party. In further quality investigative journalism, news of bears' toilet habits and the Pope's religion. Obviously, mention of the dodgy intelligence on Iraq leading to the deaths of up to 14,000 innocent people barely made it to the "and finally" slot, since Emperor Blair's been utterly let off the hook, again. Nothing to see here, please move along.

What is up with today? Time is dragging more than I can ever remember before. And it's so humid, even the greenflies that have landed on my desk are flaked out. I'm beyond caring about the nature of the work here - as you rightly are too I'd imagine - so perhaps I'll only bother saying anything about that if and when there's something particularly unusual or interesting to report. Like my imminent departure, though the hopeful possibility I had open I now believe was mis-advertised, so don't expect too much news on that front for the time being.

Bah, there's no-one here today, hardly! Various people on leave or off sick, and when I arrived even the front gate was locked, so no hope of getting in. It was a good excuse to get some exercise though by having a short walk on the Down, and by the time I was back others were beginning to arrive - including Richard, who had a key, so now here I am trying to get back into the tasks of which I have promised I will not speak without exceedingly good reason.

Our cell group meeting last night was good, hosted by Sarah in Nick's absence, but approximately run by Katy. We deliberately kept things short, sweet and reasonably informal, with the time fairly equally taken up with humouring Bethan - who doesn't quite understand that we don't come round specifically to play - answering a few vaguely probing questions as a bit of an ice-breaker, and finishing off by praying in small groups. Oh, and congratulating Chris - by means of chocolate - for securing a 2:1 for his degree! Not too late back at home, but not the best night's sleep - but it's nearly the weekend again!

"It's our one-month-iversary, and I'll cry if I want to." Not that anything is remotely bad in that regard, just everything else. Next to no sleep last night thanks to coughing and spluttering myself half to death, and now I've arrived at work to find there's been a major automated cock-up over the weekend and the only person really qualified to do anything about it is off sick - but not that that stopped The Powers That Be putting me on the case to fix it, even though the likelihood is high it'll be stuffed even more by the time I've finished with it. And that's assuming Josh doesn't take too literally my request for him to shove a well-placed pick-axe through the offending machine. Since the wedding I'd been doing really well at growing my fingernails for the first time in years, but this morning they're down to stumps again. Happiness at a price.

Fighting through the day, but it's being a major struggle. I just want to go home and eat, sleep and/or cry - and possibly a little more besides - but that can't possibly happen for another three or four hours yet. I finally had a reply back from the other job I applied for the other day, but it was sadly just to apologise that the vacancy had been put on hold for a few weeks, so that was a fat lot of use for those of us desperately needing to escape, fast.

Annoyingly, our official wedding photos are still to arrive, which is a bit poor considering it's over a week since George sent them off for processing and we paid extra for priority service in the hope that we might have had them back by the time Rachel, Mark and Daniel visited on Saturday. Thankfully they were quite happy to see some of the unofficial photos, but it's still very annoying. We took them out for lunch at Millers and then went "exploring" at Alice Holt Forest - well, the kind of exploring that's exciting for children, but not too stressful for adults by virtue of Katy and I having checked it out before...

The day's not really got any better, but at least we all had a good cackle when we took delivery of a beginner's guide to version control: CVs for Dummies. I guess we'd better hide it in case the management wander around - and not just for fear of being told off for wasting company money on the wrong book, eh..?

So, month up, and a good month so far in every way that matters. To celebrate, Katy kindly went out and picked up some Chinese - I practically collapsed on to the sofa upon my return from work, so was glad not to have to go out again - and we feasted upon mountains of the usual starters, szechuan chicken, crispy chilli beef and duck fried rice, the latter being a meal in its own rights under any other circumstances! Our wedding photo CD-ROMs finally arrived this morning, but the files were too big for Katy to email even one to me to check over - so that will be something to look forward to when I get home tonight!

That is assuming I last that long today... Having dosed myself up a little, I slept reasonably well - but by no means brilliantly - last night, but it was nowhere near enough to recover fully from the previous night's very poor sleep. Consequently, I suspect I may keel over at some point today, and I've given Richard strict instructions to send me home if that looks like it might happen - assuming I'm safe to drive, of course - and he's got no problem with that.

It may well be a vehicle with the main purpose of raining indiscriminate death and destruction upon distant lands, but it doesn't diminish the excitement of everyone dashing outside to watch a B52 bomber noisily bank over our office! No sign of the F117A stealth bomber a few minutes earlier on the Farnborough programme, unsurprisingly. I wonder if I'll be able to drag Katy out to find a good public vantage point on Sunday afternoon, and watch them all properly?

Another blah blah blah day at the office, really, but I can go home in a bit over an hour. I almost didn't make it in, again; if my tiredness carries on increasing as it has each morning this week I doubt I'll physically be able to get up by the end of the week even if I wanted to. We were hoping to go out this evening for a curry with Cate, but that's been put off until next week now, though it's probably just as well for the sake of energy levels that we have a quiet evening in. Having a job worth getting up for in the morning would also be a major contributor to motivation. One of my colleagues said this morning, "Smile and take the money." I gather that's what he's doing, though I want something a little bit more substantial from my working life...

Time recording is such an utter waste of time, if you'll forgive the irony. Back at the Open University, we used to write a monthly report, which at some point added the requirement for the numbers of days spent concentrating on the different projects we may have been involved with to be listed. That was fair enough, and gave a perfectly good overview of how our time was spent. Then they brought in far more detailed time recording, using a number of different systems of varying levels of complexity and time consumption, until settling on a web-based one Callum created. Suddenly the management suits believed that by having all this data precise to the quarter hour, they were keeping track of what we were doing much better. Of course, as we scientists pointed out, they were grossly confusing precision with accuracy. And now in this new job, time recording - using the dreadful TUTOS system, the embodiment of the "free for those whose time is worthless" ethos pervading the Open Source movement - has been imposed, and people are being chased for having any time unaccounted for by the end of the week. Needless to say, this doesn't encourage the remotest bit of accuracy, but I guess it keeps the management happy so they can waste their own time producing all kinds of meaningless reports about nothing...

Bah, actually feeling vaguely awake today for once, but there's precious little I can actually do this morning because our Slovakian programmer has decided he wants to take responsibility for merging his and our branches of the software we are developing, so there's no point in us doing too much here if it's just going to mean we have to merge everything all over again... Oh well, like Richard, I may as well carry on trying to make the most of Eclipse 3 which we downloaded yesterday - lots of nice new features to explore and try and break! Nice to see a new version of software that isn't primarily just a bunch of new icons and some dummy buttons added for features that will never be implemented.

Nonetheless it turns out we secured something like twenty sales of our software yesterday, despite there being a bit of a crisis that threatened to prevent that from happening, and despite it being "work in progress" of the worst kind. I suspect a directive that not-yet-present functionality is to be described as "available to the subscriber" may have helped, so we might even hit sales targets this month - not that our new bonus scheme is supposed to be coming in until next month, when I surely hope I won't be around long enough to collect.

It's being an OK morning so far, pressing on with writing another portal module, but I am trying to hold good on my promise not to dwell on work unless it is particularly interesting, which that plainly isn't, so won't go into any further detail. However I did find it a touch amusing that one of our sales team has just lost a decent sized order for our software after their customer was sacked and escorted from their premises. Probably for buying junk software.

Almost didn't make it in though, having been a whisker away from a potentially nasty accident on the Hogsback when a lorry's tailgate flew open and a large metal trolley came somersaulting out of the back only yards in front of me. No contact made or injury sustained, thankfully - unlike my former colleague Stuart whose car was flattened by a horse under fairly similar circumstances...

Just phoned our new bank after they sent a letter reporting further problems with transferring our individual current accounts into a shiny new joint one that actually pays interest. Turns out that they are somewhat bewildered by Katy having changed her name recently, like that doesn't normally happen when women get married... I suspect it's more the old bank's fault than the new one, but apparently my old bank is being a bit poor too and no doubt I'll be getting communication about that soon. And I haven't even changed my name!

The sales team have just redeemed themselves by bringing in cream cakes and Danish pastries for everyone "to reward our hard work". Yes, a slippery slope to get on to - the unhealthy food, not the effort - but welcome once in a while, surely? So long as they're not labouring under the misapprehension that providing us with goodies will dramatically increase the likelihood of future miracles, it's OK, because it will take a lot more than that to bribe me into selling my soul - in fact I have no intention of doing anything of the kind...

Pausing for my notional lunch break, though it's raining outside - well it was the last time I looked - so I'm not going to go out anywhere today. Feeling a little bit less foul than I was this time last week, thanks to having slept at least a few winks last night, but it was still a struggle dragging myself out of bed this morning. Anyway, here I am at work, and the reasonably engrossing stuff I was doing this morning has just hit an unsurprising non-technical halt, so now seemed as good a time as any to take a bit of an extended breather.

Saturday we spent with my parents, not least because we had a few bits and bobs for them, but also simply because we hadn't seen them since the wedding and of course had a few photos to show them. We'd hoped we might have got out for a walk with them in the afternoon, but other things rather filled the available time and the weather turned indifferent anyway, so we weren't too sorry not to in the end. But we did have fish and chips, sort out stuff on the computer, look at wedding photos my parents had taken - and show them ours - play a game of Scrabble, solve the Guardian crossword, finish off the very last of the wedding cake and sort through a few boxes of my old junk, so it was a good day and we weren't home late - especially with a fairly busy Sunday planned! Mum certainly enjoyed her Graceland CD, as a belated birthday present - and just as well considering the struggle we had to find it either on-line or at the one dedicated mainstream music shop that remains in the local conurbation!

Yesterday morning, then, we went along to what was a pretty depleted church meeting due to lots of people being away, and dished out notice sheets and a few of the wedding thank-you notes we'd written and "assembled". As part of our ongoing series based around the book of Esther, the meeting ended up really good, encouraging intimacy with God and it was a perfect environment under the circumstances for trying to put that into practice. We made a fairly prompt getaway, returned home, packed a few lunch bits into our cool-bag and drove out to some downland overlooking the Farnborough airfield. We didn't get the best view of the first couple of displays, but we walked a little further and found a splendid spot for watching the various planes come and go over four hours. I won't bore you with too many details, but we just about saw the whites in the eyes of the stealth fighter pilot from where we were, and got a probably much more impressive view of the Red Arrows than any of the paying spectators...

Oh, and top marks to Amazon for their customer service. A while back we bought a book, which Katy recently started reading. A few days ago, the plot took a rather strange lurch, whereupon Katy noticed that so had the page-numbering - with it turning out that a whole chunk of the book was missing, replaced by a duplicate of another chunk, indeed from a different story given that it was a "three-in-one" volume. Anyway, I emailed Amazon to ask what we should do about it - especially since it was likely to cost a bomb in postage to return such a hefty book - and before I knew it they'd shipped a replacement which arrived on Saturday. All very impressive - unlike our banks, but that's another matter.

Momentum never really got going again. Loads more problems reported, loads more help offered, all of it ignored. Wasting my time here more with every passing day. Spent the last little while job hunting. Nothing found. Can go home in five minutes, and got strawberries for dessert. Not all is lost.

The strawberries were ace, especially with crème fraîche and a sprinkling of Revels - now with raisins, as I am sure they were years ago before they did all these other fun flavours - and a yummy pepperoni pizza to prepare the palate. Later we hit Basingstoke with Sarah, Tim, Chris and Rob, going to the cinema to watch Spider-man 2, which was just as silly and generally excellent as hoped. Bit of a late night out, and not followed by the best sleep in the world, so this morning saw my typical struggle to get going, though at least we have an evening in tonight, so I might have a tiny bit of energy left by the weekend!

Sort-of OK day today. As a result of a bit of slightly tangential programming I did yesterday, I had a brainwave last night that is definitely improving the software I am currently working on. It would have helped if some of the issues involved had been flagged earlier because we've dug ourselves into a bit of a hole with this that it won't be anywhere near as easy to escape... But never mind, only three hours to go today, and we're out currying with Cate tonight!

Last night's curry at the Gulshan was verging on the best ever - bearing in mind that what makes for a good meal is the combination of the food, setting and company, and no complaints about any of those whatsoever. We definitely plan on making a return visit before too long, having been very pleased with both their Sunday buffet and Wednesday banquet now! We went back to our house for coffee, and Cate proved to be a very good trial audience for our wedding photos, which we're just in the process of preparing for wider viewing...

Today at work got off to a bad start, with Piran grumbling that I had told one of the sales team yesterday that I was too busy to talk to one particularly troublesome customer, despite that being one of the "options" presented to me by the sales-person in question, realising my workload. Apparently I need a bit of training in the concept of the customer being king - which is precisely the reason why I'm trying to make the software more robust, for goodness sake. I genuinely haven't got time to talk to a small minority of customers we have already determined there's nothing we can do to help until that's the case. The customer may well be king, but without robust software to sell, ultimately we have no customers at all; they can't sell vapourware indefinitely, and the company is already rather foolhardily putting all its eggs in one decidedly fragile basket. Suffice to say that there was more than one of us seriously considering leaving right there and then, and if the management's attitude towards our work doesn't change pretty smartish, it will happen one day...

No further come-back after yesterday's "customer is king" nonsense, but not a word of apology from those responsible either - and they are seriously taking the mick with the "bugs" they are now clogging the system with. I am so very very tempted just to call it a day here from close of business today, since I have been fully paid up to the end of this month anyway now and still haven't had a final version of my contract to sign. Morale in this place is sinking to the absolute pits for all but a few favoured souls. I won't miss it if I do.

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