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I have just raked the leaves out of our garden. There are enough to fill about four wheelie bins, which is a pity because I filled the wheelie bin meant for garden waste with the weeds that I found under the leaves. I might have felt a little bit bad about raking leaves onto the street but for two things. First of all, they're not my leaves! They fell off the three great big trees outside my property and took refuge in my garden where they escaped being cleared away by the street cleaner type ride-on machine that blew all the others away. Also, I am paying for the street-cleaner device and its driver not only through my council tax, but through an additional "estate charge" which came as a bit of a surprise to me last weekend when the bill arrived, backdated to 2009 and demanding payment in 28 days.

That's all fun and games too. I have gone through all my mortgage paperwork and read around the issue. It turns out that I have to pay council tax which would usually cover this kind of thing, but in this case it doesn't because the council don't actually own the street here and the trees and any house owner who isn't the original owner has to cough up. When the previous owners ticked the box on the mortgage paperwork saying "we don't have to pay estate covenants" they weren't lying but neglected to say I would. I have told Gallions they won't be getting the money in 28 days, and could they work out what I actually owe them, since I only moved into the property in the September of 2009. They will then sort out a monthly billing strategy of some sort. Probably. So far, we've got as far as "I can't handle this by phone, could you put the request in writing?" followed by a letter dropping through the door asking me to set up passwords and so on so they can talk to me by phone and be sure it's actually me. Fun. Not.

Meanwhile, though, work has been going okay and they're willing to fund an MSc that I can do related to my work, run by Bournemouth and Bradford universities. Also of interest, I wrote some code for our part of the site (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio) which is being looked at and may be repurposed for the homepage and for iPlayer (the javascript that makes the content scroll past when you click buttons on pages like http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/stations/radio1). Yay me, I'm ace!
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One of the things we do at work is to have small bursts of work known as "sprints". We plan what we'll cover at the start, work on it, then present it with a demo at the end, to all interested parties. On Friday they asked me to do the demonstation part of our presentation.

I went in with no preparation beyond writing down on a post it note the four things I wanted to show people. I stood up and talked to the room of somewhere around 50-60 people about it, and then we moved on. There were more presentations and demonstartions, the last of which was very innovative and flashy and interesting.

After the meeting eight different people came and told me separately how well they thought I'd done. I've been told I paced it well, I was engaging, I put things at the right level for the audience, and that I was a natural.

Now, I was comfortable with the material I was talking about, but I had no preparation time, and didn't feel particularly nervous. This morning two more people told me how well I'd done - and that's after they had a whole weekend for it to fall out of their heads completely.

I appear to have wowed an audience. I can only attribute this to being a side effect of learning to present material in an off-the-cuff way through larp. Give me a skeleton and I can give you back a ritual. Dump some plot on me and I can manufacture a rite. Tell me where we're going and I can pull a transportation rite out of nowhere. And give me the thing I've been working on for three weeks and I can tell you all about it and make it sound impressive.

As a colleague said on Friday - the trick is to work out how to make this skill work for me. Hmm.
hawkida: (Default)
One of the things we do at work is to have small bursts of work known as "sprints". We plan what we'll cover at the start, work on it, then present it with a demo at the end, to all interested parties. On Friday they asked me to do the demonstation part of our presentation.

I went in with no preparation beyond writing down on a post it note the four things I wanted to show people. I stood up and talked to the room of somewhere around 50-60 people about it, and then we moved on. There were more presentations and demonstartions, the last of which was very innovative and flashy and interesting.

After the meeting eight different people came and told me separately how well they thought I'd done. I've been told I paced it well, I was engaging, I put things at the right level for the audience, and that I was a natural.

Now, I was comfortable with the material I was talking about, but I had no preparation time, and didn't feel particularly nervous. This morning two more people told me how well I'd done - and that's after they had a whole weekend for it to fall out of their heads completely.

I appear to have wowed an audience. I can only attribute this to being a side effect of learning to present material in an off-the-cuff way through larp. Give me a skeleton and I can give you back a ritual. Dump some plot on me and I can manufacture a rite. Tell me where we're going and I can pull a transportation rite out of nowhere. And give me the thing I've been working on for three weeks and I can tell you all about it and make it sound impressive.

As a colleague said on Friday - the trick is to work out how to make this skill work for me. Hmm.
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Well, work is work like but could have been worse. Journey in was hellish. Train diverted, then there were no tubes from London Bridge. Or rather, there were, they just wouldn't let us near them because of overcrowding on other lines.

This evening I have been cycling round the Misfits lake. Turns out you can't get all the way around easily because of some building work down one edge. It was pretty cool though. And I think I could see bits of the Thames from the north side. I should visit again when it's not so dark. I may cycle again on Thursday, if so it'll probably be a trip to Lesnes Abbey.

Since there is no exercise in my commute any more I should be doing about an hour to make up for it after work, but I know that's ridiculously ambitious given that I'm out of the house for close to 12 hours, and need to allow some time for silly trivial things like eating and sleeping. Going to try to fit in 30 minutes a day anyway. And possibly do some walking during lunchtime.
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Well, work is work like but could have been worse. Journey in was hellish. Train diverted, then there were no tubes from London Bridge. Or rather, there were, they just wouldn't let us near them because of overcrowding on other lines.

This evening I have been cycling round the Misfits lake. Turns out you can't get all the way around easily because of some building work down one edge. It was pretty cool though. And I think I could see bits of the Thames from the north side. I should visit again when it's not so dark. I may cycle again on Thursday, if so it'll probably be a trip to Lesnes Abbey.

Since there is no exercise in my commute any more I should be doing about an hour to make up for it after work, but I know that's ridiculously ambitious given that I'm out of the house for close to 12 hours, and need to allow some time for silly trivial things like eating and sleeping. Going to try to fit in 30 minutes a day anyway. And possibly do some walking during lunchtime.
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After surviving for two days on a diet of a bar of dairy milk, a creme egg and several litres of orange juice, today I am hungry. I had a cup-a-soup this morning but now it's past my lunchtime and I want some real food.

Unfortunately I made a tactical error in my quest for ear drops. I called the doctor again and was told he was still with a patient but can call me back. So I gave them my work number. My work number. The number of the phone that sits on the desk. My mobile is right next to it. My mobile moves - hence the name. So now I'm stuck at the desk waiting for a phonecall and I can't go out in search of food. I've been waiting half an hour now and I'm getting really hungry.

I think there's some way of forwarding calls from the office phone, but I don't know what it is. I think I might have to send someone else to the shops for me at this rate...
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They told us we're back in the resource pool. Probably for around three weeks. Once again I officially have nothing to do instead of unofficially having nothing to do whilst officially I am working on non existant bugs in the code we already fixed.

So lots more LiveJournal for me, then.
May. 9th, 2002 09:14 am

I'm awake

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I feel much better now. I went to bed at 11.30 and got up at 6.30. I know it's only 7 hours but that's good, for me. Getting up at 6.30 on a weekday is a lie in as far as I'm concerned.

I still got into work before 90% of the rest of 'em as well. And I get out early tonight because of this wine tasting and meal thing which I'm thinking more and more of just skipping. I wouldn't mind the meal but it's the hassle of getting to it and getting back home and I didn't set the VCR tonight. As for the wine tasting, I only signed up to go to that when it got to the last chance to make the decision and everyone was saying "Go on, it'll be a laugh." Well, maybe it will for those who drink the wine, but that's not going to be me. And no matter how much fun it is I am positive it's not going to live up to the fun of last weekend. So I might just disappear when everyone goes over to Vinopolis (however it's spelt).

It looks like I might have to get used to having a social life as well - got home to find the diary details of the Peterborough SF group last night, I'm planning for the Hampshire gang to come over one weekend, I've got a holiday to plan and I'm having vague thoughts about a house warming. It's all go and I'm enjoying it.

We have a meeting this morning to find out what project we're on next and when it begins. This may yet kill my good mood. Updates later.
May. 2nd, 2002 04:00 pm

WORK?!

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They just found work for me! They're trying to make me work! I'm about to leave the office after a week of nothing to do and they want me to fix something! I'm running away NOW.
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Only 25 minutes until I'm allowed to leave. A very slow 25 minutes.

And since half my friends list seems to be awake and active I expect I'm going to have a good number of comments to plough through when I get back to the computer. And then there's the 3500 posts sitting unread in rec.arts.sf.fandom.

As Trinker once said on the group:

4000 rasseff posts in the queue
4000 rasseff posts
open one up, post a reply
4300 rasseff posts in the queue...

(though 4003 would scan better and be more accurate).
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There has been some concerning talk of moving the e-commerce side of work out to Tunbridge Wells. Today, though, they asked me whether I'd be willing to do a project in Peterborough. Well duh! So it's looking likely that I might get to avoid the commute for the duration of one project at least. It also has the advantage of giving me new (and marketable!) skills. It would be weird to work in a new team and things are stricter outside of our London site so my free daytime net access would be pretty much cut off but to actually have some work on would be a relief. Only trouble is the follow up project is set to happen in Tunbridge Wells. Hello secondment. Hello life out of a hotel. Ugh. But if I go along with this maybe it will lead to better things. Time will tell...
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Apr. 29th, 2002 01:56 pm

Apathy

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Michael just messaged me "Help! Apathy!"

And, yeah, that about sums up the working day.

I'm tired today. Probably the combination of hard bed building and being woken by stormy weather at 4am.
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As a kid when people asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up I never really had an answer. For a while I talked about being a teacher. I still think I could be a good teacher, but it seems like an underpaid and soul sapping career. We did a questionnaire in the senior school that generated a list of potentially good jobs. Mine came out with social worker and prison officer. I don't think I'd make a good prison officer, I'd be too intimidated. I don't think I want to be a social worker because that depends on following ideals that aren't my own (I figured this out after applying to volunteer in a teen hostel for reprobates of some manner when I was unemployed).

For a long while I wanted to be a writer. Hell, I AM a writer. I'm always scribbling stuff. But I'm not a motivated and professional writer. You don't get a nine to five job from an application form or a CV as a writer. It just doesn't work that way.

I became a coder. It was a complete accident. I was doing stuff for the Red Dwarf Fan Club which introduced me to computers. I had access to computers at the polytechnic I was at and the internet was just starting to look like the next big thing. It fascinated me. I signed up with Demon Internet and spent much of my grant money on phone bills and ISP charges. I learnt HTML and built web pages. Then I happened to stumble across a job offer for someone who knew HTML. We were in Bristol at the time, Raz and I. However, this was pending finding a place in the Camberley area. The job was in London, the commute didn't look too bad and the pay, despite being paltry looked somewhat lucrative for someone currently without any money to call her own.

I went to an interview - it was fifteen minutes long, if that. Then I went all the way back to Bristol. A week later I was turning Quark Xpress files into HTML and uploading the FT Magazines to their home on the web. Nearly six years on, here I am - still.

Time passed. It was a weekend job but it turned full time very quickly. At one point I was working 9 days in a row, being paid per hour. The wage rose, slowly. They finally took me on as permanent staff with a contract and paid holiday and all (first thing I did was book a week off!). It was easy work - cut and paste, make a chart, screen capture, upload. Edit, tweak, tidy, build new site for new client, rinse and repeat.

Then things changed. The web turned dynamic and suddenly everyone wanted to put things in databases. Truth be told, most of the pages we were building weren't suitable for this - there wasn't enough commonality to have a template that was workable. Still, we bought the software that looked like it was the next big thing (it wasn't, it was buggy and horrible to use) and off we went. I learnt to code. It was fun to start out. Databases and loops and all manner of new toys.

They abandoned the tool after a year of painful use. We started using embedded perl - much nicer. This was the time of the dotcom boom. Work was fun. I had great colleagues, there was camaraderie among our team and it was all very new-media and relaxed but we got things done.

Things got kind of beaurocratic along the way. The company was floated and we tried to look all corporate, but beneath the spit and polish sheen we were still the same group, still having fun and building stuff that kicked ass - even if it was all financial stuff. I wasn't the greatest coder, but I had input beyond coding and my code was passable.

So then everything crashed and redundancies kept coming up. People moved on, things changed. Then it got really bad and the company was taken over. Things had become more and more strict and formal but with the takeover it really, REALLY changed. Now the beaurocracy is so bad that I sit around with nothing to do because the coders' time is being mis-managed. We don't get a say in how things are done any more, we do as we're told and we're largely invisible like some tiny hidden cog in the middle of the workings of a great big corporate machine.

I'm not sure I want to be a coder any more. I certainly don't have the motivation to go and learn the next big thing all by myself, although those around me are studiously learning new skills and making themselves marketable. I'd like to do that, but I don't know that I'm that marketable, really.

I've never been a wonderful coder. I like knocking out little programmes and things but I know full well they're hacky and inefficient and I can't wrap my head around some of the higher concepts of programming. Maybe if I hadn't done a poncy media degree (and a crap one, at that) then it would be different, but I'm not a real coder, I just play one at work.

So I come in, I do nothing, book my time to a project that we would be bug fixing if there were any bugs in it, and go home. And they pay me. They pay me an average coder's wage which is bigger than many other wages and I'm kind of used to the money. It makes it hard to get up the enthusiasm to look for something else more suitable. I've just heard that there's a lull coming up while they sort out our next project. That means we go into the resource pool. That means we officially have sod all to do but get paid for it anyway. Well, until they wake up to what they're doing and make us redundant, I suppose.

This afternoon I'm meant to have a one to one meeting to discuss whether I'm happy and how I want to move within the company, think about my career in general and so forth. Well, I don't care enough any more. I just want to be paid, really. Sad, isn't it? I mean, I'm not utterly skilless, but I don't know what I want to be (maybe it's because of the "when you grow up" clause - as far as I'm concerned I haven't grown up yet).

So if you see any 9-5 jobs for faux-coders who really want to be writers, let me know. I'll send on my CV. Meanwhile I'll have to think of some way of bluffing my way through the meeting with my line manager this afternoon...
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This situation is ridiculous. The guy next to me has a bunch of work to be done. I offered to do some of it since I have nothing else on. He went and checked with my boss about it.

My boss said that if I do that work things will get complicated regarding who to charge my time to, so it's best not to do that.

So Simon has lots of work and I have none. I am being paid to sit here with nothing to do - once again. Still, at least it's not complicated, eh?
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I've gotta write a document about all the things we didn't like about this project. It's going to be quite long and whingey. I've gotta get it done today. I wanna go home. I'm bored.

I thought about peppering it with dilbert quotes and stuff to make it vaguely entertaining but that might be looked down on. And I'm not sure I can get up the enthusiasm to do the research for it anyway.

I didn't feel so lethargic (ooh, look, there's 'lethargic' mood icon) when I got on the train this morning. But we got delayed for 40 minutes due to a fire at Vauxhall and I was having a nice sleep when they interrupted me by arriving at Waterloo. I tried coffee to wake me up when I got off the bus, but all that's done is bring back the twitch (right eye, today).

And I want to know what this bruise on my right hand is. Where the hell did that come from?

But mostly I just want to go home and sleep cos I was up late last night.
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Mar. 25th, 2002 10:42 am

Workless

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This is crazy. 10.45 on a Monday morning and I've run out of work again. I mean, there will be more coming through, but all I had in my queue to do this morning was fix three typos. There was some challenge to it, in finding the particular files that contained the typos but it's done now. In fact, it's been done for the last 25 minutes. I got here at 9.20 and since each bug is defined in terms of hours, I've apparantly done three hours work.

And they wanted me to come in at the weekend to make sure we were on top of the project. Thank ghu they weren't insistant.

So now what am I meant to do with myself? sigh
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I just ran out of work. And the beaurocracy around here means it will probably be tomorrow before they can add some more to my queue of things to do. But that doesn't stop them requesting - not quite requiring, but trying really hard to convince me - that I should work on Saturday to ensure this project meets its deadline. If the house purchase goes through on Friday then they've got no hope. But that's not likely to happen. In which case I'm happy to come in and get paid overtime for what will probably amount to very little work.

Doesn't solve my current dilemma, though. What am I going to do for the next three hours?

And to top it all I've broken my mp3 player/radio. I thought it was the earphones that were failing. The sound from the left was crackling and dropping out. I replaced the earphones and nothing changed. So I fiddled with the jack socket - tried to get the clampy bits to clamp harder by bending them inwards. I had to spend �2 on a whole box of safety pins just to get one pin to use for this. And it failed. Now the sound crackles and drops out on BOTH ears. Damnit!

Meanwhile, my brother's birthday approaches. He's a mechanic and sometime clubber, about to be 26. Any ideas what I should get him? My current favourite potential birthday present is this blowtorch but I'm not sure he won't burn down a house with it or something. And I lied when I said it was the current favourite potential birthday present. It's actually the ONLY current potential birthday present. Suggestions solicited.
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School was easy. At school they introduced a concept and gave you simple exercises that got progressively harder until you were familiar with the idea.

Work ain't like that. I've spend a frustrating day getting nothing done and feeling stupid. The system we're using for the current project is something I've had no exposure to previously and while I follow along as I'm walked through an example I'm completely failing to transpose that knowledge to what I'm trying to acheive myself. It's frustrating and tiring and my head feels like it's full of cotton wool. I'm going to get an early night, I think, and hope tomorrow works out better. The worst of it is looking stupid in front of colleagues. I think (hope!) it's going to suddenly slot into place at some point but right now it seems impossible and I want to forget all about it. So, of course, it's playing on my mind instead and irritating me.

There's a general low undercurrent to things at the moment. Can't seem to find enthusiasm for much, right now. Maybe it's hormones, maybe it's the fact that it rains every single bloody day, maybe it's the ongoing low after the high of the convention. Whatever it is, it's leaving me drained even when not tired and I'd really like to come out the other side kinda soon now, please.
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Well I suppose I'd better go to work then.
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Saturday seemed to be an extremely long day. It didn't help that I wanted a lie in and forgot to set the alarm to "off" so I was up from 8am. It also didn't help that I spent most of the day rearranging clothes on radiators to try to dry them. I'm never going to let the washing back up for 3 weeks again.

Until next time.

Karen and Ruddy came over on the evening and we tried in vain to find something worth watching on TV. The original plan was to go see Vanilla Sky but somehow it never happened. When they put on the PS2 I retreated and went to bed feeling exhausted. Crazy, really, since I grabbed a couple of hours during the day and it was only midnight.

I think maybe the cold that everyone at work is carrying around is catching up with me. I don't have cold symptoms, really, except a slightly blocked nose. But I am feeling tired a lot and woke up aching a bit this morning. Maybe a day off work is in order. We'll see.

The plan for today is to read the reams and reams of legal stuff from the solicitor and see if I'm meant to sign anything from the pile... And then out to the pub for dinner. I haven't cooked in days and I'm not complaining.

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