Solving the World's problems with common sense and a flamethrower.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Almost a week. . .

. . and the new job is still very much a revelation.

It's such a surprising feeling to wake up at a decent time in the morning, after a decent nights' sleep, and actually to look forward to going to work!

The impact it's made on my mood, even in such a short time, is marked. Everything seems brighter at the moment, and I hadn't realised just how down and unhappy I was at work.

I'm learning so much about so many things, from Exchange administration to server management to SQL - with a spot of basic desktop support thrown in.

I can't describe how glad I am I made the move. Long may it last.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

First Day. . .

. . and all is well.

Can I mention how bloody lovely it is to have a commute of just 20 minutes each way?

I can't remember the last time I got home without feeling exhausted.

I feel I have a steep learning curve coming - but it's going to be FUN.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bullet Bitten, Beginning to Bob!

OK - it's now official so I can blog about it.

Those close to me will know that I've always been into technology and computing. Yet I've always done the sales side, with a little occasional support on the side.

As far back as three years ago, even my Dad (when I built him a PC for Xmas) had said I should consider being a techie as a career.

Over the last year or so, I've become less and less satisfied with selling the solution. I've become disillusioned with sales, and with the people I found were selling as well. In many (too many) cases, IT sales people are looking to close the deal, without understanding the technology or providing a solution that fits the need, preferring instead to make commission.

In fact, I've reached the point where I honestly believe IT sales is a career choice for ex-estate agents who think estate agency has become too honest!

That, allied to a 150-mile round trip commute every day, led to my decision. . .

I've done it. As of this Thursday, I am officially an IT Support Engineer (that's the job title). Basically, I'm going to be a Bob for $WEDEVELOPANDHOSTSTUFF - and I can't wait.

My now-ex company were most understanding - once I'd got past the "if you stay with us you're bound to make loads of money" spiel from the Sales Manager. "It's not about the money" is, I've discovered, heresy - and not something a Sales Manager can comprehend or offer any form of objection-handling to!

So, while in real terms I'm taking a pay cut, what this means is:

- A 20-mile round-trip commute, taking my time in the car from 3 hours per day to just 30 minutes;
- No sales targets;
- Such a HUGE drop in fuel costs and insurance that I'm actually better
each month despite the pay cut;
- NO more cold-calling. Ever.
- No more suits. Or ties.
- $EX-WIFE gets less of my hard-earned every month (double bonus).

I've bitten the bullet - and even today, just 24 hours after handing over the letter, I can already feel the stress bleeding off and my mood improving.

They say when your job is also your hobby, you never work a day. I'm about to put that to the test - and I can't wait.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Great and Geeky Weekend

. . .was had by all!

Saturday night was spent quaffing beer, burning Knoppix CDs and configuring xmame.

Mostly quaffing, in my case.

Sunday dawned, and we dragged ourselves to Worthing and the Sussex Linux User Group stand. . .

It turned out to be a great day out, introducing many people to the wonders of Open Source and what it could do (we had a MythTV demo thanks to Steve, a looped presentation on OpenOffice, my Ubuntu 6.10 laptop running Hak.5 videos, and an old P3 configured as the aforementioned MAME box running 'Gauntlet' and 'Star Wars'.

As well as that, it was a good chance to meet a number of SLUG members I wouldn't normally meet, given that I can't make the moots. So hello to Gareth, Richie, Colin and Dominic - and no doubt others whose names I can't recall at the moment!

More photos are here on Flickr.

I really enjoyed the day - it's interesting to see the range of reactions to Linux, and the enthusiasm LUGgers have for promoting it. The Fairs seem to me to be a good way of increasing awareness, and I'll definitely be promoting the idea with my local LUG, OxLUG.

All in all, a great weekend and a really enjoyable day out on the stand. I'm looking forward to helping out next month!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lack of Posts. . .

. . But with good reason.

Sorry, there's a lot going on at the moment. Mostly good, but not postable at this time - watch this space.

One brief moment of humour to mention, though. . .

At work, I use a trackball instead of my laptop touchpad. I use one of these:

Call me odd - I just prefer a trackball to a mouse for everything except gaming.

Anyway, yesterday one of our Technical Pre-Sales guys - normally exceptionally Clued - was looking at some info on my machine. He needed to move the cursor. So. . his right hand falls onto the trackball - and he proceeds to move the entire thing around on the desk.

Cursor, of course, doesn't move. At all.

< snigger >

"Your mouse is playing up", was his comment. "It must be", I replied, "or, alternatively, you could try using it properly".

It took him two further attempts to move the cursor. Hmmm. I thought it was us Salesdroids who were supposed to be Clueless?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to a great weekend coming up. I'm off down to Horsham to spend the weekend with my best mate Nik, and as well as drinking far too much, we're off to the BCF Fair in Worthing where we'll be manning - or geeking - the Sussex Linux User Group stand.

It's been a while since I gave some time over to serious geeking, and I am really, really, REALLY looking forward to it. Watch this space for photos and an update.

Oh, and my news once I can actually broadcast it.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It Just Works!

I'm still loving my Ubuntu install - it's given my laptop a whole new lease of life!

Here's a screenshot.....

I have to say I can strongly recommend this to one and all. It's been brilliant.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I've finally switched....

...So finally my laptop has a decent OS on it...

To be exact, Ubuntu Linux.

Installation took about 45 minutes, and everything except WLAN worked. It Just Worked.

Setting up the Wireless card took about another 15 minutes - my thanks to Midtoad for his excellent article about configuring the Broadcom wireless card on an Acer laptop.

This is the first system I've had that's exclusively Linux-based. It's already faster, and apart from a couple of problems with Flash (which I can live without) it's perfect.

No more viruses, no more spyware, no more resource-hogging firewalls. An infinitely configurable GUI.

I've switched.

You should too.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Life changes for the better

I used to believe that I only blogged - only actually wrote - when I was miserable.

For me, for the longest time, writing was a way to escape the things in my day-to-day life that made me so unhappy. I stayed glued to the news, puring my scorn and vitriol on anything that I could find.

Now - as the lack of posts here attests - I don't have that rage any more, nor the need to escape unhappiness.

And suddenly, over recent days, I've felt the urge to write again. The difference is that this time, my feelings are positive.

Last year, I made a hard decision and escaped the environment that was causing me pain. The fallout from that decision was painful in itself - not just for me but for others as well. And yet, 14 months on, I'm amazed and elated by the difference in my life.

I'm settled in a new relationship now - with someone who has brought me self-esteem and an inner equilibrium I've never really had before. She hasn't done this in a forceful way - just by being herself, and treating me the way she thinks I should be treated - yet in that treatment, she's created a calmer, more centred and happier me.

My parents and grandmother, who have dealt with the pain and fallout from my past life, have also been instrumental, as have friends - including one especially who, along with his lovely wife and beautiful daughter, welcomed me back as a friend when I had previously abandoned them.

For the first time in a long time - I'm happy. And I thank those who helped for it.

So. . . I'm going to try writing again. No negativity this time, no escape from pain and emotional torment - positives. Good stuff.

In other words - life.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Farewell car - an update

So I visited the crash compound to clear the car out, and took the opportunity to take some more shots.

I have to say, in the cold light of day the damage was more severe than I remembered.
Anyway, the upshot is that today I received a call from my insurers....and she's been written off.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that my insurers, who have proved so far to be absolutely fantastic, have made a much better offer than I was expecting, so I won't lose out as much as I anticipated.

My back's still stiff and sore, and I've got to get it checked out again - but having seen the damage, quite frankly I'm glad I was able to walk out of the car rather than get carried out!

So this weekend, I'm car-hunting (again). I'm resisting the urge to buy one of these so the next person who clobbers me comes off worse!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Farewell, sweet Car, I hardly knew you!

One day, the law of averages is gonna get you.

Yesterday was that day. Nine years of accident-free driving...gone.

Plus, I had the exciting experience of being strapped to a spinal board and spending two hours staring at a hospital ceiling.

Thankfully, no bones were broken and no blood gushing, but I'm gutted - I'd only had that car about 6 weeks!

Still, it's not my fault - and the nice gentleman who parked his Vauxhall Zafira in my boot didn't come off too well either. . . .

And for bonus points, the long line of 'indeterminate fluid' between the skid-marks, veering to where he stopped, indicates his radiator's fscked. Or he just lost control of his bladder. Oh, I do hope so. Either way, perhaps in future he'll look at the road in front of him.

Click on either of the images for larger versions in all their gory detail...

So I'm waiting for the hire car to arrive, and counting my blessings that I only suffered bruising and a whack of stiffness.

And as I lay in bed last night, my only regret was that I hadn't put my phone in 'voice record' mode when I got out of the car - his first words were "sorry, I didn't notice how slow you were going"! Admission of liability, anyone?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Post at Last!

It's odd - there's been so much going on in the news recently.

The 'Jowellgate' affair. . .Bush and the Katrina Briefings. . . Lib-Dem <> Leadership Conteszzzzz (sorry, dozed off for a moment there). . .The financial crisis in the NHS. . .daily murders and bombings in Iraq. . .

The list is endless, and in earlier times I'd have been on here posting all night, venting my outrage and pouring vitriol on those responsible at all levels. Yet not now.

Why, I hear you ask?

Well - to be honest, I just can't summon up the rage any more.

A lot's happened to me in the last 6 months. Some of the events were, and continue to be, very painful emotionally. But out of the sadness has come a great deal that is good - in fact, better than my life has been for some considerable time, if ever.

When your life is unhappy, it's easy to seek outlets for the suppressed rage. Those outlets may be, and frequently ARE, totally unconnected with one's own situation.

Conversely, when things are good - in fact, very good indeed - there's no rage to need expression. So while I still watch the news avidly, and while I still comment on it personally and remain involved in relevant campaigns, I don't feel the need to scream any more.

So I'm sorry to those who used to look forward to my rambling political diatribes - this may no longer be the place for you. I plan to diarise the good things in my life from this point on.

On that note, I'm looking forward to heading off to CeBIT this year, where I'll be manning our stand from 13-15 March. I'm planning to take loads of photographs and, if I can get online enough, to post on some of the cool kit I see.

Watch this space . . .

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Beginning of the End?

Well, we can hope. . .

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Bulldog Manifesto. . .

. . has a link to the John Birch Society poll asking whether Dubya should be impeached.

Go there. Vote.

The results make for interesting reading - as, indeed, does Bulldog's entire Blog.

Blair unveils his 'respect' plans

Now THIS is amusing.

Bliar has talked before about creating a 'culture of respect' in this country.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for reducing crime and antisocial behaviour - fewer Chavs on the street would be a good start - but sadly, what Bliar fails to grasp is the concept that a culture of respect should start at the top.

He could start by respecting the Electorate he serves (ooh, I don't know - perhaps by maybe NOT STARTING AN ILLEGAL WAR FOR OIL). Alternatively, how about respecting his parliamentary peers - perhaps by reinstating two sessions of Prime Minister's Questions rather than just the one?

I know - he could try respecting the institutions of Government and Democracy by ceasing plans to limit civil liberties, and dropping ID Cards?

But we all know the truth.

For Bliar, 'respect' means the people of this nation doing what HE wants, and not noticing the high tax burden, failing education system and massaged NHS waiting times.

I can tell you one thing. He'll get no respect from me. Ever.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Call to Impeach Tony Blair. . .

This is quite a turn-up.

When a respected, veteran soldier decides to become embroiled in politics, and calls for the impeachment of the Prime Minister, surely - SURELY - people must take notice?

I won't bore you by recounting the lies, mistruths, propaganda, dirty tricks and spin - the sordid history of the buildup to, and conduct of, the invasion of Iraq is well known and documented.

But at a time when the leader of an Opposition party resigns because denial made his position untenable, surely the incumbent Prime Minister should be made to answer for decisions and actions that resulted in deaths, maimings and the escalation of acts of terror on UK soil?

Without getting into it too much, Charles Kennedy was right to go - his repeated denials of an alcohol problem, now proved to be falsehoods, called his integrity into question. He showed courage finally admitting his alcoholism, and (albeit under duress) took the right decision in resigning the leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

Yet Bliar and other Cabinet members have had their integrity torn to tatters by the Iraq invasion, but still continue to 'lead' this country and preside over the destruction of civil liberties - all in the name of 'democracy' and a 'War on Terror' that they themselves exacerbated.

General Sir Michael Rose is an experienced soldier, whose courage has been proven on the battlefield. Now he has proven his mettle again, standing up and speaking out when all we normally hear are the voices of Bliar's fawning sycophants.

I hope (against hope) that this is the real start of a groundswell - that Bliar, Straw, Blunkett, Hoon and their US counterparts will be made to answer for the lies, the deaths and their decision to prosecute an illegal war for dishonest reasons.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

PlusNet? More like MinusNet!

The more astute among you may note that there have been a couple of changes here.

Firstly - no posts since 21 December - and secondly, I'm back on Blogspot for these pages.


Well, the main reason - in fact, the ONLY reason - is PlusNet.

Line activated with lovely 2Mb speed, 20 December.

Unable to connect - 23 December. And it's been the same since.

Using a dialup backup is just NOT how I want to spend my time, especially when I'm paying for the privilege of a service I'm not getting!

So far, it's been back to BT twice, 'whoosh tests' twice (both inconclusive), three complete reinstalls of the modem software, and innumerable reboots and connection attempts, all to no avail.

I'm starting to get to the point where if I don't get DSL back soon, I'll be performing a few 'reboots' myself, if you catch my drift.

On the upside, Christmas was fantastic, spending time with my parents and my sister, who I just don't see enough of. New Year was spent in a quirky hotel in Oxford - would you believe a converted prison? I'll upload some pics later on once I can get them onto my own webspace.

And here we are now, in 2006 - and I'm hopeful that this year will prove to be better, overall, than the one just gone.