Friday, 9 December 2011

chrimbalo lunchings

It's the work Christmas lunch today.

Some companies have a full-on bash, and we used to do that when I first joined, but a few years back it turned into more of a long lunch at a pub thing.  It's usually okay, marred only by the fact that we have to go back to work afterwards.

I went for traditional Turkey and Christmas Pud of course.  I know some people don't really like turkey - the breast can get quite dry - or can get sick of it, but my viewpoint is that it's Christmas, so you should have a Christmas meal.  Also I think Turkey is okay and I don't really have it any other time of the year, so what the hell.

Also, on a more fundamental level, Christmas meal is basically just a roast with a few more trimmings than usual, so since I love roasts I actually quite like it.

It's been a particularly horrible week, having been suffering with this cold.  Things have been getting better in the last couple of days, but were I not so busy I'd have taken a couple of days off at the start of the week for sure.

Hopefully, the weekend should prove relatively quiet.  We're now out of the Grand Prix season, so I kind of get my weekends back for a bit, if you see what I mean.  I've also got a days leave booked for Monday.

The plan is to do some Chrimbo shopping, as previously mentioned, though it may well be a case of looking at things in shops and then buying them on line.  I mean I will definitely be buying a few bits in the high street (plus things like wrapping and cards) but you can just get more bang for your buck online is the simple fact of the matter.

So yeah, I won't be back blogging until Tuesday.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

work broadband

We now hove a vaguely decent connection speed at work.

It's a weird package we're on, in that it's like a managed service.  This idea is that it has very little downtime, but you pay a premium for that and it really is expensive compared to most packages.

Quite how they guarantee that up time, given the reliance on the bits of the service being provided by BT, I'm not sure.  But what's also weird is that it didn't seem to be a low contention line.

Contention is basically when you have multiple people using the same line at the same time.  You get broadband because of bandwidth, which you get because they make use of multiple frequencies down the telephone line instead of just the one "blip and bloop" like you used to get with old fashioned modems.

Anyway, the idea is that the higher the contention, the mode the line is divided up and so the lower the speed everyone gets.  By having a service that guarantees low contention, you therefore ensure a good minimum speed.

For businesses this can often be more important that potential lofty maximum speeds.  If you're a business you're likely to be using your broadband during the day when lots of other people and business will be using there's, so guarantees over minimum speeds can be more useful.

However, this isn't a low contention line, but it is more expensive with guarantees about up-time - weird, as I say.

What they've done is basically given us access to the full capability of the line.  Previously it was fixed as a 512mb line and they've only just offered this as a free upgrade.

My guess is that actually, BT probably won't allow them to get a line restricted to 512mb any more, so they've had to offer it as a free upgrade.

The connection is a bit quicker.  I wouldn't say it gets anywhere near the claimed 8mb maximum, but then it never used to get anywhere near the 512mb it used to be.  We actually used to get something like 200mb, which is better than ISDN, but not greatly.

If I was to guess (I haven't done a speed check) I'd guess it's running at about 750mb, somewhere around there.  It's certainly a lot easier to use with much reduced waits for pages to load, but it's still not really able to cope with streaming video properly unless you allow it to buffer.

Obviously you've always had to do that, but before it would have to buffer the whole thing, but now you can set it going if it buffers half of it.

It is remarkable how much more pleasant the experience becomes though even with such a relatively modest jump.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

men in black 2

Well this was disappointing.

A big part of the charm of the original film was the relationship between Will Smith's and Tommy Lee Jones's characters.

The basic set up was that Smith was a world-wise cop who wasn't phased by anything, but then he got pushed into the MIB world where there are aliens everywhere and suddenly he was a wide-eyed noob making errors everywhere.

Meanwhile Jones was an utterly dead-pan seen-it-all before MIB agent. In other words, almost the same as Smith's character.

The comedic interplay between these two characters was made the film good.

However, at the end of the first film, Jones retires, has his memory wiped and goes to live a life with his old love.  As such, at the start of the second film there's something of a role reversal.

Except not.  Smith is now supposed to be the super-wise MiB agent, but Jones's shift into the equivalent role to Smith's in the first film doesn't really work.  When we eventually catch up to him he's supposedly working in the post office and running a tight ship.

But it's also revealed his wife has left him - it just all doesn't work as well.

But what really annoyed me was that when Jones gets back to normal, suddenly Smith's character reverts back to being the noob.  I mean, why would this happen?  It makes no sense and is just odd - why would he suddenly become dumb?

Unless maybe we're supposed to believe he's pretending?  Or maybe he was pretending before?  I dunno - I just didn't get it.

And the trouble is the film is very reliant on that chemistry.  I mean the plot is almost identical to the first film, but it has to be said in a good way.  It just doesn't feel like any effort has gone into it.

Also the bad guy (or gal or alien or whatever) is pretty lacklustre and she has a sidekick who I think was meant to provide some comic relief, but actually didn't do anything funny.

Even the characters that recurred from the first film didn't really add anything (well, the worm guys worked quite well).  And as for the love interest for Smith - that was just so half arsed it was almost painful.

I think I'm probably giving the impression I hated the film, but I would say that was too extreme - I just found it all very meh.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

broken cupboard

There's a cupboard at work with a combination lock that I occasionally had reason to get into.

We actually have several such cupboards, but this one used to have some bits in that I would regularly need to get to.  I say "used to", because I have transferred the bits I need access to over to another cupboard.

The reason I've done that is because the lock is fucked on the other cupboard.

I don't know if you've ever done a combination lock, but the idea is that you twiddle the dial clockwise and anticlockwise, stopping at the numbers that are the combination.  Well on this lock, the mechanism is so loose and sloppy you can't actually use the numbers, you have to go past the numbers.

So if a number to enter was 1, you'd actually have to go to something like 1.5 or 0.5 (depending on which direction you're coming from) in order for it to work.  So, in other words, you still have to "accurate" but you now have to be accurate with a number that's not a full number.

Well, as you can imagine that opens up all sorts of possible "real" combination values - if you say you have to be "half a degree out" how much is half a degree?  And do you have to be out by that exact amount each time?  Or does it vary for each number?

The annoying thing is that hen I first started using the cupboard I was able to work it out.  I couldn't get it first time, but I'd give it a go and it would pop open.

But then, a couple of weeks back, I suddenly couldn't do it any more.  And, to my shame, I got so annoyed with it, I actually walloped the lock with my fist.

Well, after that I was really worried I'd broken it, as it felt even sloppier.  Thankfully it turned out I hadn't, as a colleague was able to open it.

Frustratingly they were actually able to open it first time with only the vague instruction from me that it had to be "about half a degree out".  I was actually stunned when they opened it, because as I say, I thought I'd damaged it.

Well, after that I tried myself again to see if I'd regained the knack, but I hadn't and so I transferred my stuff to another cupboard.  This other cupboard works beautifully - the lock is crisp and you put in the numbers properly and it opens every time, no matter who's trying it.

I occasionally try to the crap cupboard, but still haven't opened it.

Monday, 5 December 2011


Well that was a crappy weekend.

On Sunday I really fell foul of a cold that seemed to be brewing all week and essentially spent the day in bed.  I still feel really crappy and don’t really seem to be over the hump yet.

The cold has come from someone at work, who’s been suffering for more than a week.  I really hope it doesn’t last that long for me - I really don't fancy a week of feeling crap and I’ve loads to do at work.

As I say, she’s had it for more than a week and it seemed to start coming on for me earlier in the week. It’s been really weird, actually, because normally when I get a cold it happens fairly quickly - I generally get a tickly feeling at the back of my mouth in my soft palette area, and then within a day I get the sniffles and that shortly develops into a soar throat.

Well this time the tickly feeling lasted for days.  I wasn’t initially sure if it was cold because of that, but then as I say on Sunday it really kicked in and my nose flowed like a tap.

I’m guessing the cough will follow soon, although given how long it’s taken for the rest of the cold to show up I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still suffering with a sniffly nose at the end of the week and then the cough happens at the weekend!

In some ways I was lucky that it happened on Sunday as I had loads to do on Saturday, which I was able to complete.  If it had kicked in then I’d probably not have gotten it done, which would have been a pain.

There was also a slight surprise when I weighed in on Sunday morning in that my weight hadn’t really changed.

With the impending cold I’m afraid I really let my diet slip and ate quite a lot of really bad things.  Who knows - perhaps it was the sudden increase in calories that held it at bay?  What I would say is it’s weird I didn't loose weight.

Another possible explanation is that I really had trouble sleeping last week as the cold came on.  That tickly feeling is usually associated with a ramping up in snoring - it swells, so it blocks the airway, cause really bad snoring, which bruises the area, causing it to swell more and hence producing a feedback loop.

The problem really was hat I would drop off okay, but then after a couple of hours I’d wake up with that area feeling really soar and tender.  So I was then basically unable to get back to sleep.

Thursday night in particular I think I only got two or three hours of sleep.  And as I found before, lack of sleep tends to ramp up the need for calories.

It doesn’t make a particularly sensible diet plan, though, as generally I feel terrible the next day.