David's diary: May 2004
Much more driving this weekend... In this case, up to Kit and George's wedding on the outskirts of Blackburn! Katy took the wheel for the first stretch of Saturday's journey, to near Banbury, but was fading somewhat by then so I did the rest, and the whole journey home - which would have been fine except that I barely slept last night, but Katy did no better so couldn't really help! The wedding itself was lovely, very individual and totally "Kit and George". We went thinking we might pick up a few ideas to put the finishing touches to our own event, but in the end very little would really have worked for us, but was absolutely spot on for this weekend's lovely happy couple. Good to see lots of old friends, and make some thoroughly wonderful new acquaintances too - though it got a bit too much for Katy at times given that she only just knows Kit and George let alone the rest of the guests, and they were quite an eclectic bunch!
We broke up the journey home this afternoon by detouring via Ironbridge, near Telford. I'd been there innumerable years ago with my family, and I expect it is a lot more touristified now, but it was still a pretty place to stop, have some lunch and go for a bit of a stroll by the riverside. But now, having had not much more than a couple of hours' sleep in the last 36 hours, it really is time I was hitting the sack and seeing what time I can lie in until tomorrow!
I managed to lie in until about 11 o'clock in the end, and it was only the lure of Katy downstairs that persuaded me not to grab another couple of hours... I suspect I'll do much the same again tomorrow, with a little shut-eye still to make up after the weekend away! Today has mainly been pretty lazy, and the weather was foul anyway, so our main venture was to the Badshot Lea garden centre to see if we could get any ideas for wedding decorations etc, and to look at all the cute critters. My favourites of the latter were the prairie dogs, some of the exotic tree-frogs, and a few of the fish, though we agreed that it's nice to see them all but probably not practical to own any of them! It was a little amusing to hear the children in the aquarium section, looking at the clown-fish: "Mummy, Mummy! There's Nemo! Can we buy him? Pleeeease!" Have they not actually seen the film, and realise that Nemo's nemesis is just such a child and that he'd much rather be back in the ocean with his dad..?
Tea was honey and mustard chicken with pasta, and mightily delicious that was too! No desserts though, having eaten our long-awaited Gü pecan and maple syrup chocolate truffles yesterday as a getting-home treat, but we cracked open a bottle of Banrock while we watched Platoon so we did spoil ourselves just a little! Didn't think much of Platoon though, in all fairness. People seem to rant and rave about it, incredulous that neither of us had seen it, but it did very little for us frankly. Yes, it was one of the first films to show the horror of war without glorification, and was timely given the current abuses of power allegedly going on in Iraq, but even the main characters attracted little or no warmth or empathy, and the rest of them were only really noticeable in terms of their decreasing number as they got bumped off. But it passed a couple of hours, gave us a job to do removing all the dead bodies from the back of the television set, and it finished in time to see the end of the snooker.
Today's been a bit of a rollercoaster in many ways - and the weather wouldn't disagree, I suspect, with everything from glorious sunshine to hail and thunder - but I came out of it happy and knowing Katy and I love each other more than I could ever have known. I still have to pinch myself to believe it sometimes; our level of mutual trust and understanding is something so very new to me, not having to be 100 percent all the time, and not having to worry about the quite frequent times I'm not. And to cap it all, we had home-made hazelnut waffles with Belgian chocolate sauce, strawberries and fromage frais - if that wasn't the food of love, I really don't know what is! And true love meant me going out in the pouring rain to buy a pint of milk for said waffles, though Katy did wonder why exactly I didn't do the sane thing and take the car rather than walk. I'm strange sometimes! But Katy loves me regardless. Pinch. Really!
Another day, another couple of job applications sent off, and another couple of steps down in my morale if I don't watch out. It seems that in this internet age, the whole face of recruitment has changed, and definitely for the worst. It's great having so many jobs at one's fingertips, but all too many recruiters seem to use it as an excuse to get the job-hunter to do the leg-work while they rake in the commission, and - presumably because of the volume of applications they handle as a result - they don't even bother to reply to most applicants.
But... Just as I was writing that, in comes a phone-call from an employer I contacted recently, and perhaps nudged again today - I'm not sure if it was exactly the same job, since it was advertised slightly differently - and I have an interview tomorrow morning! Yes! It's a Guildford based company working in the recruitment industry itself so perhaps I'd better moderate my tone above...
Right, going to have an early night tonight since I need to be in Guildford by 11 o'clock tomorrow morning. That might not sound so bad, but after tea this evening we took a drive to the offices in question, and found that the parking there is pretty limited so I ought to leave a bit of extra time to allow for that and the inevitably heavier traffic. It's generally not likely to be a brilliant place to get to in rush hour, so I might have a bit of negotiating to do tomorrow if I sense that things are going well. I'm not getting my hopes up too high yet though; this is my first interview for a couple of years, and I am really still gauging what I'm particularly good at doing. Of course it would be great to be offered the job, but even if that doesn't happen, I am hopeful that it will be a good experience and that I can be clearer and more confident. Just getting the interview feels an achievement, but of course I want more!
The interview this morning seemed to go really well, and they say there is a high probability they will offer me the job. Of course, given my experiences over the last few months at the OU I am not getting too excited until I see it in writing, but the signs are very good indeed. The offices themselves are a bit cramped and have limited parking, but they happily admit that as part of their expansion they plan to move into new and more spacious accommodation in about six months' time - and Farnham is actually one of the possibilities they are considering, which would be somewhat convenient... But anyway, for now I can relax a little knowing I've done OK today and that my skills are valuable to at least someone out there! Might have more to say by this time tomorrow!
Cell group was good this evening, though it's the last for a few weeks because of other stuff going on, so we made the most of the time catching up with each other and praying into needs and so on. We seem to have drummed up some modest support for a bit of a social round here one evening next week, and plans seem to be developing nicely for a group house-party later in the year which should be cool! Nothing much planned for tomorrow, thankfully, given that we finished quite late and had a fairly full day, though we're expecting two phone calls - one from my potential employers, and the other to say when our bed's arriving!
After a bit of a false start, when we found ourselves clean out of cash and without either of our chequebooks, this evening we've had a Chinese takeaway and a couple of beers. Why? To celebrate getting that job, of course! Well, subject to any contractual details, that is, of course, but I don't envisage anything untoward being sprung on me. If everything's in order, I start a week Monday, which works out well, because we're busy next week with various things and I'll need a few days to adjust my sleep patterns back to working life!
Early night coming up tonight, because we've got a busy day coming up tomorrow, and it'll be a good chance to start to adjust said sleep patterns! Today we've busied ourselves sorting out a puncture in one of Katy's car's tyres and going for a good stroll out from here, and this evening eating chicken with honey and mustard and winding down by watching the little fishies in Finding Nemo.
In the today post I received the formal job offer from the Guildford company, and there's nothing included in that to cause me to raise either eyebrow - and they even award a bonus day's holiday on one's birthday which is a bit sweet, and perhaps means they don't expect their employees to bring in cake... Alas though, my birthday is exactly when I've agreed to start, but they've said I can trade that off against the honeymoon, which sounds a fair deal to me!
Long day, and an another early night required! More tomorrow, perhaps...
An early night sadly didn't equate to a good night's sleep, but I thankfully evidently managed to snatch a couple of hours because I don't feel quite as grim as I did by the end of yesterday! Up early today though because there's quite a high chance our new bed will arrive imminently, although I know Sod's Law applies in such cases, and "before one o'clock" will end up meaning 12.59. But the same law would equally mean that if I went back to bed, the reverse would happen... So I'm passing the time letting Thunderbird 0.6 download and listening out for the lorry; I know what it sounds like because we had a bit of a scare last week when I thought they were running a few days early without telling us, but they were merely delivering a bed to a house across the road.
Yesterday was indeed a long day, but a good one from start to finish. I never really had the chance to say goodbye properly to the Vineyard people before I left Milton Keynes, and with Katy's poor health developing towards the end of last year she was only ever able to visit a couple of times - not that that stopped people asking after her of course! So yesterday we made the most of our increased flexibility now I'm down here and drove up to Milton Keynes together, and went some way to making up for missed opportunities and lost time.
We made it up just in time for church, and we caught up with plenty of people there and were given a formal send-off by Matt and a handful of people mainly from my former Open House group. We'd arranged to have lunch at Pizza Hut with Sarah and the girls, and Richard, Shona and family, and thankfully they were just able to accommodate the ten of us though it was much busier than we'd anticipated! It was lovely to see them all, but as is often the case when seated at a long table, we didn't really get a chance to talk to everyone as much as we would have liked, so it was good to go out for a little while with just Richard, Shona and co, and enjoy some fresh air down at Willen Lake.
Katy and I had agreed beforehand that we would make sure we got a bit of time to ourselves at some point during the day, and it worked out well that after that, we popped into the Lakeside for a coffee and cleared the resulting smoke out of our systems with a slightly more adventurous stroll. We timed that perfectly because as we got back to the car it was just starting to rain, and as we drove down to Jam and Simon's house via the Tesco Express it was really pretty foul! The evening was a bit more relaxed than the daytime, thankfully, with a small gathering round at Jam and Simon's. Being somewhat the centres of attention we were mainly able just to flop down and let everyone come to us, and it meant a great deal to us that the people who made it along had done so.
But all too soon - not that either of us would have lasted very much longer, I hasten to add - it was all over and time to head back down the motorways, but it had been an altogether lovely day, and one which as well as providing a bit of "closure" to my time up in Milton Keynes and with the Vineyard particularly, also cemented those friendships that we really do hope to maintain.
Returning to Milton Keynes as a visitor was very strange. Not since my trip up almost eight years ago to meet Julian and Emma before I flat-shared with them has going up there been anything other than a homecoming, even if it was a town I never quite identified with as "home" per se. It's only three weeks since I moved away, but already it seemed a bit of an alien place. Yes, I could still find my way around just fine - and I expect that will continue to be the case, especially since we plan on visiting reasonably frequently - but I'd forgotten just how many roundabouts there are! I've had to defend Milton Keynes's road system quite a few times over the last few years, but I have to admit now that its detractors do have a point with regard to the roundabouts at least...
Oh, Mum phoned just as we were getting back to Farnham last night, and I phoned her back once I'd dropped Katy off and was back at home. Mum had been away for a couple of days and had got a bit of a garbled message from my dad, so was a bit confused as to whether I was starting my new job today or in a week's time. Let's just say I am mightily glad to be starting work, but not right now...
My getting up quite so early this morning was almost entirely wasted, alas, with the bed delivery people eventually arriving at gone three this afternoon. Sounds like they were badly understaffed, and for some reason our blokes had driven out from south Wales, so we weren't entirely unsympathetic - especially when they spent a few more minutes constructing the bed for us, a service we hadn't paid for. Once we'd realised they were running so late, we took the opportunity to go and do a bit of shopping - not least because we have a little social round here tomorrow evening - and for me to sign up with a new doctor. Once the bed was set up and we'd moved a few bits of furniture around, we had a bit of a stroll round the block, by which time we were getting pretty hungry...
This evening we've been to a healing service at a Christian organisation's centre, and it was quite an interesting and challenging time. We'd heard mixed reports about the place, but we went as a small group and with suitably open minds. I couldn't claim we were totally comfortable with everything that was said or done, but the motivation seemed to be right and I've always insisted that a "bad" prayer just goes nowhere, so if there was any truth in tonight's happenings - and I am sure there was at least a little - there was nothing to lose. But now I'm enjoying a beer and getting myself properly tired - and Katy doesn't plan on coming round until late morning, so I should get a good lie-in and make up for the last three nights of very unsettled to nonexistent sleep.
Today was a nice quiet day, with our sole trip out being to go and buy some stamps up at the local convenience store, so that we could send off the balance of the rent for our honeymoon cottage and a thank-you note to the Vineyard for their kindliness and generosity on Sunday morning. This evening we had Sarah and Tim round for a bit of a social, mainly spent quaffing wine as we played Tantrix and Uno, to the musical accompaniment of David Gray, Zero 7 and Plumb. Off to bed now though - got a busy day coming up tomorrow, one way and another!
So yeah, busy day... Been up to Frimley Park hospital with Katy, not got any real answers but at least they've confirmed there's a brain in her skull and some blood in her arteries - which I knew, but it's nice to have confirmation - and had lunch and done a load of shopping in Farnborough. We've decommissioned the huge bookcase in what will be our master bedroom, and replaced it with a couple of small slimline ones that hold just as many books but will actually allow whoever sleeps in the far side of the bed to do so without climbing over the other! Yes, it's a pretty tight squeeze in there, but even if we'd ordered the double bed rather than the king-size it would still have been a problem!
This evening we've been round at Katy's mum and dad's house, passing on the aforementioned huge bookcase for use as garage storage, sorting out a few computer bits and pieces and discussing a few more wedding details. We've got probably a little over half of our expected invitation responses back so far - Katy's half of the list faring a little better than mine - but that's not bad going, though if you are reading this diary, have been invited and haven't yet replied, you know what to do! Incredibly, we've only had a couple of people declining so far, and those we were at least half expecting. That's really cool, and there are a few people coming who we'd perhaps not held out a great deal of hope that they would, so that's especially cool! Everyone's wanted!
Just thought I'd share that with you before I go to bed.
Last couple of days then... Ummmm...
Thursday seems a long time ago and I really can't remember very much about it, apart from the evening, which was the first of a number of training sessions for an evangelistic event happening in Farnham next month. It's pretty likely that neither Katy nor I will be in a position to do a great deal for the event itself, coming so close to our wedding, but neither of us is terribly confident about sharing our faith, and that was the theme of Thursday's session, so it was certainly worth our making it along and it was both useful and interesting.
Friday, after taking Katy to her chiropractor's appointment, we went to visit my mum, as a bit of a pre-birthday treat for me and to hand over a few bits and pieces we'd earmarked for her and Dad. Annoyingly though, I forgot to pack the double duvet we're giving them, only the box of duvet covers, fitted sheets and pillowcases, but we'll rectify that soon... We went out for a good pub lunch at Cadsden, followed by a walk in the woods and the chalky scrubland nearby which was all very beautiful. In the evening, it may come as little surprise that we passed much of the time playing Scrabble, but it certainly did come as a surprise to me when I found I'd won, having lagged behind quite substantially for almost the entire game. We got away from Mum's at about nine o'clock and had a pretty smooth journey home, though needless to say we were pretty zonked.
Today, Katy's been involved in an all-day church event, but after a bit of a lie-in I've tried to use my own time at least modestly productively. So as far as I know, I am now up to date with every organisation that needs to know my new address. Specifically today I have sorted out my driving licence and my car registration document, and - assuming Boncaster have sacked all their incompetent idiots from last time round - hopefully my car insurance will be updated very soon too. Katy's just phoned to say her event has now finished, and that she'll be home shortly, before we head out for a little meal out! Posting the above things turned out to be a little more complex though, since given Boncaster's previous uselessness I insist on using Recorded Delivery for anything I send to them and I eventually had to walk into Farnham centre to find a post office that was actually open on a Saturday afternoon - and even that one had a notice up warning that they won't be any more after mid-June...
The meal out was fabby, needless to say, an early birthday celebration for our friend Cate - who I shall not embarrass by specifying any particular age. We had planned to go on a real-ale steam special, but were most miffed to find it had been fully booked by the time they had advised we phoned, but a Thai meal at the Golden Fleece went down very well as an alternative - and we won't need much of an excuse to persuade us to do the steam special thing another time!
Right, I need to be up at seven tomorrow morning for the new job, so am hoping to keep to my plan of being ready for bed by ten - but I've just received an email from a bit of a blast from the past, which has set things back by a few minutes, but never mind, eh? Writing four lines of diary's not helping either.
So my birthday's over, and so is my first day at work in over a month. This evening we've had crispy duck pancakes, Tiger beer and Thorntons chocolate and toffee cake, and today I have mainly been installing software and persuading CVS to work properly. It was a bit weird being the "new boy" for the first time in almost eight years, but I soon felt at home and they certainly dropped me straight into things. The journey to Guildford in the morning took about fifty minutes but didn't feel that long, and the homeward-bound one was a bit quicker, even coming by the slightly bizarre route that Josh - one of my new colleagues, who cadged a lift - decided to take me via to avoid the worst of the roadworks on the A31 at the moment. So, all in all, a pretty good day!
Bit of a slower day today, I guess because I am now at least partly settled in here, and am not being bombarded with quite so much new stuff all at once. But only not so much new stuff; there's plenty to be done, not least we've got to get a CD out first thing tomorrow which someone foolishly sold before it was even half ready for public consumption, and it'll still be flaky as heck!
I'd hoped to get my contribution to that software done today, but that wasn't quite the case, and indeed I never got a chance to even look at another bit I'd been hoping to do - and Richard who relieved me of that got nowhere with it himself as far as I could tell. But we still intend to hand over a CD-ROM as early as practically possible tomorrow morning, and then just hope and pray that the customers don't throw their hands up in horror too much. I have to say that although I thrive on a bit of pressure, this is taking the mick ever so slightly, potentially having the future of a flagship product resting on my shoulders after I've only been there a couple of days. All I can really do is do my best and make sure I keep people informed of where I've got to... It's a bit frustrating also that I'm trying hard to document all that I am doing - as indeed I have been asked to - but that is having to go by the wayside somewhat.
But at least I could come home to Katy - having dropped Josh off again, clearly preferring my driving to making best use of his train season ticket - and tea was well on its way. We also polished off my "birthday cake" from yesterday and had a few games of Tantrix, but no late nights for either of us, again...
Yesterday one of the sales guys brought in one of those "guns" that propels a vortex of compressed air across the office. We want a machine-gun version of the same that can be set up next to the air-conditioning unit by the server cage. It might just about make the working temperature in here bearable... Mind you, it's still better than the job I had with a cowboy outfit in High Wycombe a few years back, when - until I complained - I was initially assigned to work the whole day in the "burn room", which was just as bad as it sounds.
Parking in the vicinity of our office is tight, and it is rather unusual in that it is one of a small number of business premises in what is otherwise a residential road with on-street parking. When I visited for the interview I commented on this, and they assured me it wasn't a major problem because we tend to be there during the daytime and the residents at other times, so there should be enough space for everyone with a little effort and consideration. But that didn't stop me getting an earful from one resident this evening, expecting me to take on the burden of the whole company and persuade them not to park in his street, and possibly even practically blackmailing me - pretty much promising I would be blocked in if I parked there again, though that may not have been a threat, more a realistic assessment of the likely outcome of ever-increasing demand for limited spaces. In the name of peace, harmony and general confrontation avoidance, I do intend to park in another street tomorrow - one where the properties all have driveways - and I shall raise the issue with my superiors in case things get any uglier, but ultimately it's tough luck unless they successfully apply to make the street residents-only parking. I do sympathise with their plight, but right now we have just as much right to be there as they do, and for the time being we will just have to co-exist...
That really did seal a pretty naff day at work for me, and one when I wondered a fair few times what exactly I've let myself in for - though remembering all the time that I haven't actually yet signed a contract... At least we got that software out today, more or less on time, and more or less working - well, at least with regard to the changes I had been asked to make. My next task is to tackle some of the trickier client/server code in the software and enhance its functionality, and I have to admit I am somewhere between bemused and downright petrified. I suspect the next couple of days could really make or break me.
This evening though, Katy and I have been round for dinner with Mike and Gemma, munching chicken risotto and miscellaneous desserts, whilst discussing some of the finer points of music for our wedding. That was all very nice and useful, of course, but it was then time to walk Katy back to Juliet's for one of the last times - since Juliet is now back from her holidaying - and call it a day.
Bit of a better day so far today, though I'm waiting for a 19" TFT monitor to arrive, which is a bit frustrating because even attempting Java development using a 17" CRT really isn't that fun. It was supposed to have been delivered about half an hour after Rob got his, but three hours later there's still no sign of it. I might have been willing to accept a salary cut from my last job, but a reduction in monitor size even from what I have at home just wasn't on!
In the meantime though, I've been looking into installation software packages, since the software we're currently sending out to a few clients really needs to be properly installed with shortcuts etc, especially since it is likely to be used by non-techies. Users will still experience quite a few issues even if we do provide a good installer, but we can at least make it as smooth a process as we can apart from that. I was a little taken aback, however, to see how much even the most basic editions of InstallShield and similar products cost, even though they claimed to be "affordable". Piran was however quite happy to shell out the $500 required, but I really wasn't sure which was the best option to go for, and Gary was rather more reluctant to agree to that kind of expenditure at this time and I frankly couldn't blame him. So it came as quite a relief when I found a little-known but apparently perfectly usable alternative called Tarma Installer, which is completely free even for commercial use in its Standard Edition guise - and only $99 if we needed the extra functionality offered by the Professional Edition - and that will certainly do the trick for now.
Apparently my monitor is stuck somewhere in non-delivery limbo, thanks to there being no-one in at number 18 when they tried to drop it off there instead of at 1B. "We rang the doorbell but no-one answered," they explained. I'm not sure how many people receiving an unexpected delivery of a swanky new monitor would be honest enough to refuse it, so perhaps that was just as well... It would be nice if the courier company in question would now rectify its error, though!
So, it's the weekend, after my first week in the new job. Felt pretty drained today, but we both enjoyed a stroll out by the Wey Navigation and checked out the location of the Guildford register office and somewhere for us to take our parents out to lunch on our legal wedding day. This evening we've had one of those "take-away" curries from Sainsbury's, and most delicious that was too.
Overall, the week at work has been one of ups and downs and I've not found it remotely easy. On the one hand I've felt pressured by being thrown in at the deep end as pretty much the sole fixer of problems in some of their most vital software, but on the other hand they weren't expecting miracles from me quite yet - and I'm still not sure which is the overriding aspect. I can't really say much about the nature of the software, since I am sure that my contract - once I see it - will bind me with all kinds of non-disclosure agreements and so on, but it really has been quite badly bodged so far in my non-expert opinion. They want me to become as familiar as possible with the software because I will be the front-line in its maintenance, but the more familiar I become with it, the more horrors it reveals. A saying about silk purses and sows' ears springs to mind, amongst other less tasteful ones. I have enquired about whether it would be feasible to totally redesign it, but it would seem that would only be something for the future once we've got more money to throw at the project, rather than now, while there are customers who've already been sold it and are actively waiting for delivery of their new toy. Obviously I must remember that I am the "new boy", and it might not be a good idea to upset the boat too much, even if it would be for the best ultimately. I am reasonably confident that I could get a robust replacement for the current software going in a fortnight, and that it would prove to be a cost saving very soon, but that's going to be a hard argument to push when I'm unproven and customers are baying for delivery.
There certainly were times during the week when I really didn't think I would be coming back, but I have realised now that I really do believe in the product I'm working on - even if it's decidedly imperfect, possibly an embarrassment, right now - and am determined to make it good by whatever means. So I'm not going to give up yet, and my boss does predict that things will get better. I think the simple truth is that I joined at a bad time, not helped by some new key systems having been in place for only a few days and a lot of things being in a state of flux, for example the equipment we're all using. Perhaps if I'd joined a week earlier as I could have done, the pressure on me might have been reduced, but that would have presented other problems to be, so who knows...
In the meantime though, although hardly the life and soul of the party right now, I am enjoying my weekend off, and bracing myself for a better week ahead.
Oh, we got our second wedding present today - the first having been our bed. We were allowed to open it right away, and it was a "shalom" wall-clock from Juliet, now back from Israel. One spare hook in the kitchen, and we can now tell the time in there much more reliably than the microwave will permit...
The word translates to "peace", "hello" and "goodbye" amongst other things, as some kind of universal greeting, a little like the French "salut" but even more so. Let's just pray for a bit of that first meaning in the region, shall we?
Lazy Sunday, mainly spent tackling the Torygraph crosswords; I foolishly bought the Grauniad yesterday, and Araucaria had set an absolute pig, so we decided we'd try again today. I don't like the Torygraph particularly, but Katy's been getting it for the last few weeks because it was too much hassle for Juliet to cancel, and we have been getting used to the crossword style and like the fact that they "use" the Chambers Dictionary. I know when I was at the OU and used to have lunch in the pavilion with David from time to time, we would laugh at the little crowd of sad muppets whose idea of a fun lunchtime was tackling the print-out of the crossword from the broadsheet of choice. Hypocrite, I know!
This evening we started watching Donnie Darko, one of the very few DVDs we have that Katy hadn't yet seen. We didn't get all the way though before it was time for Katy to call it a day, but unlike Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - which Katy simply didn't get on with at all - we will be finishing watching this one very soon, though I could make no promises that Katy would understand the plot any better than I've managed thus far! Though she followed the plot of Memento far better on first viewing than I did, so perhaps she might be able to enlighten me - and she did, after all, score a creditable 117 on the BBC's latest IQ test, versus my miserable, embarrassing and horribly average 100.
I hate having to solve alleged - i.e. not even proven - race conditions when I can't tempt them to happen in the first place. Gotta love intermittent faults.
It wasn't a race condition. I'm not sure what it was, apart from "a miracle it worked even occasionally before". That sums this software up, really! Now I need to track down and somehow stomp on a java.lang.OutOfMemoryError error, and as anyone with any experience of Java will know, that's not always trivial. It doesn't help that an important server is down right now, such I can't actually test any of my ideas or even profile the software without major hassle indeed.
What kind of programmer uses a variable called "O"? Not that I am saying that such confusing things are the root of the problems with this software, but they may be indicative of the kind of rigour that has gone in to writing it so far.
No sign of the server coming back up yet, by the way. Perhaps I should make good use of the downtime by composing my thoughts on re-writing this thing.
Just been advised that the server isn't going to be up again until tomorrow at the earliest now, so I'm rather running out of things to do. I've written my analysis of the current position with the software, the options of how it may be progressed, and of course my recommendation of which of those options is the most sane and cost-effective, and have been scraping the bottom of the barrel by installing the driver software for the ridiculous keyboard I've just been given. It's one of those keyboards with loads of extra buttons for functions no-one in their right mind would use, but at least the "core" keys are all in the right place unlike the one I've just managed to get shot of. That TFT screen did arrive on Friday in the end, and so far it seems reasonably good, though I did notice an intermittent fault on Friday that hasn't yet recurred today. The screen shows how rubbish the video card is in this machine though, since the latter cannot manage 1280 by 1024 pixels in true colour, and smears its output. It's still a big improvement over the old 17" screen though, so as long as Friday's fault doesn't come back, I'm not really complaining. All I really need now to make this a nice workstation is an optical mouse; currently I'm using my old mouse from home since I couldn't abide the wheel-less one they gave me! Some of these things you don't realise how much you use until they are no longer there... Anyway, last few minutes of the day now, then home-time!
No time to finish watching Donnie Darko this evening, but we've pencilled it in for tomorrow evening instead. We've been round at Catherine and Glenn's most of the time, discussing some of the finer details of the wedding ceremony with Catherine and taking her advice on things of which she has more experience! It's all taking shape rather well, overall, and we got a few more invitation replies today, allaying any fears we may have overestimated numbers a little.
Today was OK, as fairly poor days go, though it got much better by the evening, thanks to a sheer mountain of chicken and pasta for tea, the tail end of Donnie Darko, a healthy stroll around the block and a very close game of Tantrix.
Work was bearable, but I can sense some awkward politics in the offing, not helped by obvious communication problems between the management, sales and technical teams. It's now pretty clear that everyone has a different notion of what needs to happen to the software I am working on before it can go out to customers - and that's not even including the "chuck it in the bin" option I am strongly recommending for anything beyond the shortest term. Most annoyingly of all, though, we were supposed to have gone out for a newcomers' lunch, but everyone apart from me either forgot or was too busy, so that been postponed until tomorrow and of course I didn't bring my packed lunch so had to make do with a frankly rather naff kebab. Still, half way through the week tomorrow!
I've donned my skin-suit, mask, cape and external underpants, and am ploughing through plenty of bugs this morning. Of course, as usual with these things, solving any one bug reveals the presence of at least a couple more that had previously not been obvious. Still, at least it's keeping me busy, and I'm not entirely hating my job today. In fact there are times I actually quite enjoy it, mainly when I am able to get a bit creative and not be shackled too much by others' poor past decisions. And we really are going out for lunch shortly - though I must save some appetite for tea-time this evening, when we have Katy's grandmother coming to visit and no doubt inspect her wedding present to us!
Lunch out was good, though none of the management were there which was a bit of a pity; they were busy taking Gary's plane to Spain for some jaunt or other... There were six of us in the end, and Richard flashed his company credit card so it was altogether really rather a nice time. I kept the ball rolling with my super-heroics in the afternoon, getting a major new feature request pretty much working, though I remain reluctant to add too many such things to the existing poor base code. Katy's grandmother was already round when I got home, as I had expected, and I had saved enough appetite for our turkey escalopes, pitta bread and salad, and had enough brain power left to almost win a Scrabble threesome. But Katy's now taken our guest home and I am sure will be off to bed herself soon, and it's probably time I was doing likewise - perhaps via the bath, that being a treat I rarely get now, with only time for a shower in the mornings!
RDS is a wonderful innovation, interrupting my preferred listening every ten minutes with news about roads I'm not using. I know I can turn it off, but there's always a chance there might be something relevant and important. But the Eagle was even more useless than normal this morning, reporting exciting and thoroughly unexpected problems like roadworks on the M25 and the A3 backing up at Hindhead, while completely failing to mention that Guildford had ground to a complete halt thanks to a burst water main. Consequently I was about half an hour later arriving at work than planning, having tried to avoid the jams and ending up simply finding more wherever I went... Hurrah for technology.
Another reasonably productive and not excessively frustrating day today, though of course depending on how they're getting on with mending that water main, I may or may not yet have a lengthy and unpleasant journey home to contend with. Unfortunately, most of the work I am doing falls under the category of the first of the three options I presented as to how to take this project forward, and was by far the least preferable - namely to proceed with building further functionality on to a non-debugged core - but at least they seem pleased with what I am doing, and the project might even have a vaguely happy future now...
Had a much better journey in to Guildford this morning, thankfully; roads were practically deserted, though maybe that was just in comparison with yesterday! Josh has just shown us a copy of the local paper which has front-page pictures of the burst water main, including the digger wot did it - isn't that always the way? - and some of the resulting flooding. Altogether really pretty grim!
No sign yet of any reply to my email to Milton Keynes Council, who are being typically useless regarding Council Tax. I had been expecting a refund cheque for the last few days of April, when I was no longer living in Milton Keynes, but yesterday instead got a demand for my May payment... Add to that a stroppy letter from those equally useless people at Boncaster (a.k.a. SEAT Insurance, amongst other car-manufacturer-branded aliases) complaining that I had not yet paid the additional premium on my so-called "free" insurance, when I only got their first letter a couple of days ago (and of course paid promptly), and a loan offer from MBNA who uselessly have ignored my change of address, to make a frankly annoying bundle of post yesterday. Hopefully my new printer ink will arrive today though - trying out some third-party cartridges and some cleaning cartridges that will hopefully dramatically reduce my colour printing costs!
Oh, Katy and I watched The Matrix Revolutions finally last night, while doing some decidedly easy babysitting for some friends. Or, rather, we watched the first forty minutes of it before deciding to give up on it as tedious twaddle. I can't actually remember ever having done that to a film, and I am mightily glad we never bothered to go and see it at the cinema or we might well have had to consider walking out. So we watched Top Gun instead for the rest of the evening, which rather says something... Twaddle, but at least not boringly so.
I'd have liked a lie-in this Saturday morning, but it wasn't to be. Obviously this getting-up-at-seven-o'clock-during-the-week lark really is beginning to shift my body clock such that half past eight feels like a luxury... Not that I feel wide awake and raring to go yet, but more sleep's out of the question.
We spent yesterday evening round at Michael and Geraldine's, the last session of our marriage preparation course, although it was entirely informal and over a meal so really not too heavy going after a week at work. Just as well that's all done now, because the wedding service - as distinct from the civil ceremony the Thursday before - is three weeks today. "Ready or not, here we come!"
Hmm - according to my on-line bank statement, I have been paid. Possibly about a hundred pounds too much though... Maybe I won't go and blow it all quite yet!
Fairly busy today, mainly spent "getting stuff done". In particular, my room is now devoid of any boxes. Well, the open floor is anyway! Much more like a home now. And we also emailed a load of people about wedding stuff, since we really are into the final stages of all that now... Munched Chinese stuff for tea, then got rather further this evening with the Times crossword than we did with the Guardian one a week ago, but still didn't quite finish it. Early night now though, because we have a longer-than-average Sunday coming up. At least it's a bank-holiday weekend, so we get an extra day to recuperate!
And that longer-than-average Sunday is more or less done and dusted now. The highlight was of course having Kit and George round for dinner, which generally involved me ferrying and cooking, but I mind neither of those activities within reason. Especially when said guests bring cool games and Slovakian mead, take note any other prospective visitors. We also took half an hour out to show them the wedding venue and generally talk matters photographic, that being George's onerous responsibility for the happy day. And yes, Katy and I were still both very glad tomorrow's a bank holiday - and I doubt we're the only ones...
Main activity this bank holiday Monday has been pulling together a selection of background music for before the ceremony and during the reception, as well as another bit of incidental music for immediately after the ceremony. We've got a little over two and a half hours' worth altogether, so probably need a little bit more, though it was quite tough finding things we both liked - and I have to admit my collection of music presented the bigger problem in that regard... At least Katy approved of Delerium's Eternal Odyssey, as possibly the finest contemporary treatment of Samuel Barber's Adagio, a piece I was keen to include in some shape or form, though I'm going to have to spend a little more time trimming it down to a fair length compared with everything else we've chosen!
Back to work - and therefore back to early rising - tomorrow. Mind you, my weekend lie-ins have seen me unable to sleep past nine o'clock in the morning, which isn't too bad a sign! But anyway, I suppose on that basis I ought to be heading to bed as soon as I've finished this small but splendid glass of mead!