Thursday, 28 June 2012

another one tomorrow

Another interview tomorrow morning.

It should be quite an interesting one.  It's not really in the same sort of area as the other interviews I've been doing, but that's not a huge issue.  While I've generally been looking at technical and product based and away from my current sector, I have applied for a few other things that aren't those.

It's in Oxfordshire, and it's where I went over the weekend.  It was actually surprisingly quick to get too, though I'm expecting traffic to make it trickier.  I'm going to allow plenty of time, but that does mean I will be setting off at what most people would regard as ridiculously early.

I don't regard it as ridiculously early, just early, since I'm a bit of an early bird and am usually up and about pretty early.

The weekend ahead is where I need to learn about these products for the other interview.

I have to confess I've been having a nagging feeling that it might be a bit narrow for me.  They really only have a very small product portfolio and while that's appropriate to what they do, it suggests a very limited variety of work at the least.

I also have to confess that the time it always takes me to get to and from Cambridge is a bit of a worry.  One of the things I've had in the back of my mind is that I don't really want to go somewhere that makes the journey to my Dad's worse.

I know that might seem a silly thing to reject a job over, but I like to visit my Dad a couple of times a year and it already takes me the best part of 3 or 4 hours journey time.  If I lived in Cambridge that journey would shoot up to 5 hours at the very minimum and with delays (e.g. in summer) I could be looking at 7 hour journey times.

Anyway, as per usual, though I will be back in the office in the afternoon, I doubt very much I'll be blogging.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

master & commander: the far side of the world

This was a bit of an accident from the DVD rental point of view.

I actually watched Master & Commander (M&C) when I was visiting my dad once and I guess I forgot to take it off my rental list afterwards.

M&C is actually an adaptation of a novel in a particularly well loved and popular set of novels that essentially chart the careers of the two main protagonists, Captain Jack Aubrey and the Stephen Maturin who's the ship's surgeon.

The film is also something of an enigma on that front, in that it seems it did okay at the box office, turning a profit; it was quite well reviewed and as I say it's an adaption of one book in a popular series and yet there's never been any more films made.  Why was this not the first of a trilogy or possibly even a full franchise?

A quote on Wikipedia suggests that while it did okay at the box office, we're not talking Avengers type popular (or Pirates of the Caribbean might be a better comparison), so sequels never really got off the ground.  Also, I know that sea-based shooting is not regarded in favourable light as it's quite difficult to do.

Anyway, the film itself is quite good.  The feel and tone is just right and it looks great.  The characters also work well and seem quite well fleshed out and clearly motivated.  If I was to make one criticism it would be that they're a little generic.

I was going to use the word stereotypical, but I'm not sure that's quite fair.  It's more like they're fairly close to archetypes and therefore feel similar to a lot of characters you've seen before.  However, they don't feel cliché.  The performances are good and they feel subtle and well developed.

The plot is interesting.  It kinda launches into the main story with aplomb and there's very little in the way of deviation from that.  I mean there are some sub-plots, but they really are subordinate to the main story.  However, that main story does meander a bit and, in a way, is more like an overarching goal than a real plot.

It's a little difficult to describe to be honest - it feels more like a slice of (made up) history than a story as such, although it does have beginning middle and end.  I guess what I mean is that it does feel like proper historical fiction, rather than just happening to be set in that period.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

complicated weekend

So this last weekend was actually a bit rubbish, which was interesting as it contrasted markedly with the weekend before.

The weekend before went so smoothly as to almost be silly.  I had a big old list of chores to do, including cleaning the bedsit and going shopping and everything went so smoothly that I'd done everything by late lunch on Saturday.

This added to the fact that I had the Monday and Tuesday off for the interviews and the weather was rather nice meant it was a rather good weekend.

This last weekend was not so good.

It started going badly on Friday, when I had a particularly bad bout of insomnia, but a lot to do during the day.  In the evening I went shopping, but made a bit of an error, in that I bought something for my tea.

Now that normally wouldn't be a bad thing to do, but I forgot I'd brought in a packed lunch, but we'd been to the pub.  I therefore had two dinners and had to steak my sandwiches in the fridge and have them Saturday, when I have to confess they were more than a little dried out.

The shopping trip also cost a fortune, because for some reason I decided to get lots of the random or infrequent purchases (for example, the clothes washing tab things I use) all at once.  Normally I spread them out more.

Anyway, when I got home I did the usual Friday night bits I do and then started watching the Valencia practice.  Only about half way through there were these 3 weird brown outs of the power.

I've no idea what caused it, but it seemed to cause my PVR to go a bit funny.  At least I think that was the cause - basically my PVR stopped showing the time when it was on standby.  This was a pain, but it also seemed to mean that it wasn't able to switch itself on when it had a programme to record.

Now luckily the majority of what I had to record was overlapped by me having the TV on anyway, but it did mean I lost a radio programme on Sunday (this was how I figured out there was an issue).  Luckily the problem seems to have been solved by me doing a "factory reset", but it that means I've lost all my settings.  The only one I redid was scanning for channels and a few immediate programme record set ups, so I'll have to do the rest tonight.

Early Saturday morning I did my washing, and that was a bit of a disaster.  Basically, they'd shut the water off (well, I say off - it was tiny dribbling trickle), which is kinda an important aspect of a laundrette's facilities.

Now I use one of the big machines for my weekly wash and in some aspects that turned out to be a good thing.  The smaller machines that somebody else used just kept going through their cycle, even though there was next to no water.  The big machines, it seems, are set up that they'll effectively wait until the water reaches a pre-set level before moving to the next phase.  That meant, with the flow rate, that it took well over an hour for what is usually a half-hour programme.

And it only took that long because I drove home several times, filled up a bunch of plastic bottles and poured them into the machine (via the powder slots).  If I hadn't done that, god knows how long it would have taken.

My guess is they'd closed the water down because they were doing some repairs on Friday and then forgotten to put it back on again.  Certainly when I spoke to the management (it had taken so long they were in - usually I've finished by an hour before they turn up) that seemed to be the implication.

What else?

Oh yeah, for my interview on Friday I have to go somewhere in Oxfordshire and it wasn't very clear where I had to go and I got very nervous.  A big part of the nervousness is that I've taken the morning off and the interview is actually starting at 9:00.  I was therefore very nervous as to what time I had to set off and if I'd get back in time.

The google maps route was direct, but looked complicated and the alternate route I personally though I could do was a lot longer and was bound to have heavy traffic.  I therefore decided to do a trial run, but with all the other delays to stuff I set off really quite late and the return journey was in the dark with it lashing down, which was a bit scary, especially as I was then very tired.

Still, I know the google route now, and it's actually not that bad, though I am going to go very early as it goes through some big towns.

Monday, 25 June 2012

an interesting valencia?

Well Valencia turned out to be an interesting watch, for a change.

There was plenty that happened, including a good deal of overtaking.  I think they got the DRS right - it put people in a position to try to overtake, but didn't make it too easy as it does at some races.

The tyres also seemed to play a reasonable part this time, rather than being the total dominating factor as they have in some of the prior races.

The only real shame to it from my point of view was that Lewis had a coming together with Maldonado which saw Lewis into a barrier and Maldonado only losing his nose.  It was a real shame, as Lewis had had a really good race.

Now obviously I'm biased as I am a Lewis fan, but Maldonado was clearly the main cause of the accident.  This has also been backed by the stewards, who punished him.  They have a bit of a history, Lewis and Maldonado and I have to say I think Maldonado is a bit of a prat.

He's clearly not averse to going for other drivers, having deliberately crashed into Lewis at Spa last year and stopped his car in the middle of the track at Monaco this year, in order to try to crash into someone else.  That's clearly not sporting behaviour, but it's also outright dangerous.

Crashing into someone in the heat of the moment while trying to pass them is one thing - pre-meditated crashes are another.  It's also pretty expensive for the team, to say the least.

In this case there is a bit of a case for Lewis having been quite aggressive with him.  He didn't give an inch and, in essence, pushed Maldonado off the circuit, but then that is part of racing.  In particular we saw Nico shoving Lewis and Alonso off the track at Bahrain and not getting in trouble.  In all of the cases there were clear run-off areas, so it's again been rubber-stamped by the stewards.

To be totally fair to Maldonado I think he was genuinely trying to avoid some speed bumps that there are in that area.  It's one of those run-off areas where you could gain quite a bit of advantage by going wide so they've put in some speed humps that mean you need to slow right down to drive around them or face the risk of damaging the car.

In other words, I'm not sure he deliberately slammed into Lewis so much as tried to avoid the bumps, which then slewed him into Lewis.

However, really, as I say, he should have slowed down and gone around them - Lewis was always going to be on that bit of the track, so by doing what he did a collision was inevitable.

Lewis was clearly not happy, but he'd also clearly been strongly briefed not to say anything.  I'm not sure about that - one of the things I like about Lewis is he speaks his mind and, especially here where the other guy is in the wrong, in some ways it's a shame he was suppressed.  Still, the Monaco thing where he said some silly stuff was probably going a bit far.