Thursday, 7 November 2013

formula one

So Sebastian Vettel has wrapped up the driver's title and Red Bull has the constructor's title.

It seems like after the mid-season break they have become unbeatable.  From what I understand this is partly because the change of tyres back to last year's compound following the tyre-failure issues played into the design of the Red Bull, but I also think they focused on the development of this year's car where others moved on to next year's car.

There are quite a lot of big changes coming next year - the engine changes to a 1.6 litre turbo, there's a much bigger energy recovery aspect (not just the KERS), but also the front wing is much smaller, the rear wing changes, the exhaust exit point changes and the fuel capacity changes.  I'm sure there are other things, but those are pretty big already.

I think that means that the teams had to make a decision much earlier to switch all effort to next year's car, otherwise they'd end up impacting their competitiveness, and I think Red Bull left that decision until much later.  Certainly McLaren were saying they'd switched before the season was half way in, Force India haven't done anything since the mid-season and I think Mercedes switched some time ago, just to name a few.

The other aspect of course is Vettel himself.  His big advantage, I think, over the others is his flexibility and willingness to listen to what the team tell him.  If they say "do this" he tends to do it (I mean specifically in terms of how to drive the car - we all know he'll ignore team orders and his engineer is always telling him off for going for the fastest lap), where I think other drivers try to get the car tweaked to better suit them, rather than adapting to it.

The last grand prix I actually blogged about was Singapore so I thought I'd give a very quick run-through of the races:
  • Korea - I've always felt Korea was an okay track and the races were okay, it's just it suffers because it's in the middle of nowhere.  This year's race was pretty good, I thought.
  • Japan - Japan is usually pretty good, but this year I thought it was okay.  This might have been a bit affected by my holiday issues, so I was watching it some way out of sink.
  • India - a fairly dull, pedestrian race.  This isn't one of the better newer circuits, though obviously Vettel was crowned champion, so it wasn't totally uninteresting.
  • Abu Dhabi.  The beeb's highlights suggest it was better than it actually was: it was a pretty dull race, with a few interesting moments.  I mean, it's better than when it was first held as they've tweaked the circuit a bit, but it's still pretty dull.
That leaves only two races, which are another double header: Austin next weekend and then the traditional closer of Brazil.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

job hunting

So my job hunting has continued, obviously without success.

It's been odd, actually.  I've had a reasonable number of interviews with a mixture of face-to-face and telephone-based, but I've been struck that most of these haven't felt "fully formed".

When I was looking before and going to interviews, it felt much clearer that the organisations I was talking to had a clear idea what they wanted.  Obviously I'm not saying that they pre-decided who they wanted, but I mean they had a clear idea that they wanted a bid manager and were either keen to explore if someone from a different sector could fit or already appreciated that they could.

This is one of the key things that's causing my search to be longer - I am very keen to move into a different sector.  The problem this time is that I seem to be encountering lots of people/organisations that don't really have a clear feeling about quite what they want, but then having been through some interviews, they then decided "no, we want someone with experience in our sector."

Now I've no problem with them wanting that experience, it's just that it's quite a big waste of my time, money and holiday (all of which are in short supply) if they're bimbling around not really knowing what they want.

And it's quite clear that they don't have any real clue.  Two of the interviews I went to in person (one in Essex, and one in Knutsford, so pretty excessive travel) I've seen the jobs being re-advertised several times since.

Or at least, they seem to have come to the decision that they want someone with experience in their sector.  But the problem there is we're talking sometimes talking about such a specific sector that there basically isn't anyone in the country.

It boils down to a combination of a lack of bravery ("as in let's take a chance" - these organisations are all coming across as quite risk averse) but also, mainly, I think, a lack of understanding of the generalist nature of a Bid Manager's skill set.  It's like Project Management - it's a fully-transferrable skill-set: if you can manage one thing, you can manage anything.  But they don't appreciate that, and I think a big part of that is because they don't really understand bid management themselves, and certainly don't appear to have properly defined and established processes.

Which is the flip-side: in all honesty, I'm kind of glad none of these have gone any further, as I've had red flags being hoisted at each interview.  One of the big advantages of where I currently work is we do a lot of things badly, and I find a lot of frustrating, so I know what I'm looking for in terms of things I don't want.

Of course the other aspect of going back to job hunting is that I'm having to deal with employment agencies again.  Quite why companies don't just place the job adverts themselves, I don't know, but the thing nowadays seems to be to use job agents.  They're basically on a par with estate agents and used car salesmen, in my opinion.  I mean, you get the odd one that's okay, but generally you're talking about a bunch of people who are only interested in getting their commission, and they don't really give a shit about things like never telling you you've been unsuccessful following a job interview.

Monday, 4 November 2013

a month ago

So it's been a month since I last posted on the log.

Exactly a month, in fact - my pre-holiday post was on the 4th of October and today is the 4th of November.

The reasons for the long delay in posting are somewhat complicated.  The main issue was that I had planned to spend some time over my holiday writing some blog posts and that didn't happen.  I'd also particularly planned to write a bunch of the back-log of films reviews I've build up and was going to fill the weeks after the holiday with many of these.  Obviously this didn't happen either.

The reason this didn't happen was because the holiday was a lot messier than I'd intended.

Firstly, my plan wasn't a good one. My landlord needed the time I was away to install a new shower (not the actual shower, but the unit around it), so I couldn't be home at all.  However, I also couldn't stay with my dad for that entire period.

I therefore decided (badly, it turned out) to spend the Saturday night at a Travelodge, then go to my Dad's on Sunday, then stay at another Travelodge from Wednesday to the following Saturday, when I'd return home.  The following Monday was a recovery day.

However, this didn't work at all well - the Saturday at the Travelodge was okay, but it wasn't a "productive" thing to do - I spent a lot of time farting about and couldn't see the time productively.  The time at my dad's was okay, but then I had to change plan.

Basically, rather late before the holiday I was asked to attend an interview (I'm still job hunting).  I said I could do the Thursday, so it was booked in, but the place was in Essex.  Now that would be far away even if I was at home, but obviously I wasn't - I was in Devon, so it was a huge drive.

Having already booked the Travelodge for Wednesday to Saturday and gone with the "non-cancel" option to save money, I then had to also book a Travelodge near the interview.  That meant I ended up spending one night and a morning at one place, then driving all day, getting lost (the town had two exits off the main road, and I took the first where I should have taken the second), going to bed very late, not sleeping well, getting up very early (I wanted the interview in the afternoon, but they then had to change it last minute), going to the interview, then spending all day driving back to Devon again!

In other words, I spend half my holiday driving places, killing time while I waited for things or recovering.  So all my grand plans basically gone knackered.  Here's the things I was going to do and the progress I made:

•    Write some blog posts - didn't do any.
•    Write some film review blog posts - didn't do any.
•    Watch some stuff on crunchyroll - didn't watch any.
•    Watch some fansubs - watched some, but my plan was to clear out the past years shows, and I only watched about a quarter of them.
•    Lots of walking - there were only two days where I went for a walk.
•    Clear backlog of e-mails - didn't read any.

Of course I also spent a fortune in petrol and a room booking which was relatively late so was more expensive, as well as having to buy food at services, which is always more expensive.  None of which I could claim back, as I was told (I'm not 100% sure I believe the agent - more on that later) the company wouldn't refund travel expenses.

And of course I didn't get the job - more on that later as well.

The other factor in my not blogging is that I returned to a shit-load of work: I actually worked a bit of one of the weekends.

As "holidays" go, it's been pretty non-fun.