As today is the first day of the year, I thought that I would set out my goals for the year. I'm not doing these as resolutions as they're a bit too fuzzy to be resolutions.

* Get a new job
This is a simple goal, but it's a matter of finding the right job, so that I don't feel that I'm wasting my time doing it.

* Be creative
A very fuzzy goal, but by this I mean do something like write or draw or something similar. I intend to do something like this every day.

* Get healthy
The measure of this will be primarily by weight, and the size of my waist, but other things like stamina will also be important.

* Get a life
How on earth you measure this, I don't know, but I intend to go out more and do things, especially things that require / cause me to interact with *small* groups of people (I.e., up to about 5-6, as more than this becomes very hard to handle).
Since everyone else appears to be doing this, I suppose I should as well. Frankly, both of the year and the decade have been, I think, rather disappointing. In fact, disappointing is, if anything, rather an understatement. Probably a more accurate description would be to call them a total waste of time.

Looking back over those two time periods, I do not think I have done anything of any significance. I am basically in exactly the same position as I was at the start of these times, except that I don't have a job. I have had all sorts of wonderful ideas of what I could do, but almost all of them have fallen through, or been ignored. I may have grown old, but I haven't grown.

Let's see what has happened over the last year or so:
  • Left work at Anite.
  • Been to a total of three gigs: two for The Pipettes, and the Jonathan Coulton gig.
  • Had a three month contract doing python testing. Not exactly a high point, as I wasn't the person they really needed.
  • A quick trip up to Edinburgh. I had gotten bored just sitting around doing nothing, so I decided to get away for a week, and went up to Edinburgh with just a few days notice.
  • I suppose I should add in learning a couple of new computer things. I have learnt the basics of C#, Django and photoshop.
  • Joined the ACM.
  • Failed to join the BCS.
  • Applied for a number of jobs, none of which I have got. I'm still waiting to hear about Bloomberg, they said they hoped to have it all done by the end of the year - I tried phoning the agent earlier today, but I suspect he is on holiday.
  • Got the voice recognition system. Good when I can think of stuff to write with it.
  • Got the iPhone.
  • Big sis got cancer, but it's believed to have been caught in time.
  • Got a letter published in the back of a comic.

Not really a lot of interest there.

Maybe I'll get it right next year.
I had my second stage job interview today. I think it went okay, with the usual exceptions.

Getting to the interview itself was a fun proposition. The first problem I had was the new shoes I had purchased yesterday. As with all new work shoes, the soles are so slick that I found it almost impossible to walk up the icy slope leading from my flat. Having managed to get halfway up the slope, I decided that I was slipping so badly that I would not make it alive to the Railway Station. I then quickly shot back into the flat, picked up my trainers, and changed into them, carrying my shoes in my hands. I then dashed over to the station, fearing that I might have missed my train. This turned out to be irrelevant, as the trains were running so badly that the train that should have left 15 minutes before I got there didn't turn up for another half-hour.

When it did decide to turn up, it took a lot longer than normal to reach London. As a result of the late arrival in London, I had a lot less time to get to Bloomberg's office than I had planned for, and I ended up arriving there a bit late. The interview itself was probably the second hardest interview I've had, at least on the technical side, on the personal side it was definitely the hardest. The interviewer had three main phases, a technical interview, less technical interview from management, and a talk with the HR person. I think I did okay in the interview, but I probably could have done better but I don't know how. With luck I did good enough that I will get the follow up of them offering me a position. If they do offer me it, I'm pretty certain I will accept.

The job and the company itself sounds like it's going to be very interesting, but incredibly challenging. I'm pretty certain I want the position, despite the fact that they start work at eight o'clock the morning. This would mean that I would have to do my sleepy hours around a bit so that I could wake up about six o'clock in the morning, rather than my current midafternoon.

After the interview, on the way back to the station, the snow really started in, and in the short walk from the office to the bus stop, I got severely plastered in snow. The bus journey back to station itself was very slow, probably due to the weather. When we got to the station, I got a bit lost trying to find my way into it, and got even more snowed on.

My train was at the station, as I arrived, but I decided to take a risk and grab some food for getting the train. I still managed to catch the train, but due to the snow, the previous train had been cancelled and we were packed out with commuters who would normally be on another train.

The journey itself was rather boring, as I was less than happy with the book I had taken with me, and O2 were having problems with their data network, and I couldn't catch up with the Internet. When I got to Fleet, the station itself was under quite a bit of snow, and the snow was still coming down.

Pausing to change my shoes and replace with my trainers so that I wouldn't slip over, I dashed home to the delights of a freezing cold flat.

Today

Dec. 16th, 2009 08:14 pm
Today has been quite fun and probably profitable.

First of all, I phoned the job agent this morning, and he confirmed that the company wants to give me a second interview as soon as possible. As I have the course this week, I couldn't manage it immediately, but I suggested that he book any time next week. Within a couple of hours, he came back to me and I am booked for an interview Monday afternoon. If all goes well with the interview, I will have a second and final phone interview, this time with someone from New York, and if I pass that as well, I should get a job offer. It appears that I might start the New Year with a new job.

We appear to have had the first snow of the year. Only minor falls, and it melted reasonably quickly, but there were a lot of people posting about it. I am half expecting the trains to start having problems with the snow start running late any second now

I think my tutor at the course set me up a bit. At the end of the day, when we went home, instead of going down in the lift with me, for some reason she decided to walk down the nine sets of stairs. When the lift got halfway down, it stopped for some reason. It did not open the doors or give any other indication that it was working. When I pressed the lift buttons, they lit up but nothing happened. When nothing further happened for a few minutes, I was about to hit the alarm button, but fortunately noticed that the lift button lights had gone out. Pressing the ground floor button again got the lift moving, and settled my panic. I doubt that the tutor actually had anything to do with this, however, I am going to give her all sorts of grief tomorrow morning when I see her, and claim that she deliberately set me up.
At the start of last week, I decided that I was going to do one of the Christmas courses at the Central Martins College up in London. There were a number of courses I was interested in, mainly ones involving Flash and Photoshop. I decided to do the Photoshop course, as it seemed that it would be one that I would find more useful. It's a rather expensive course, but with five days tuition in a very small class, of just five people, I think that the money will be well worth it. While I could probably learn the stuff I'll be taught just from web courses, I doubt that I would actually get around to it.

The course itself is quite fun, and in two days I have already started cutting and pasting images around, sticking them back together and doing complicated things involving layers. The class itself is, as I said, small and most of the other pupils are quite young, probably in their 20s, though there is one other person of my age I would say. I am the only male in the class, though so far it does not appear to have made any difference.

Yesterday, I received a message from one of the job agents, the one dealing with Bloomberg, asking me to get in touch with him. I managed to phone him at about three o'clock today, only to hear that so far he had not heard from them and that he had phoned me to see if I had. As I hadn't, he decided to chase them up further.

He then phoned me back. As I was busy at the time, he had to leave a message on my voicemail, but it appears that the Bloomberg wants to see me again, or rather see me for the first time in a follow-up to my phone interview.

As I am busy on my course, I won't be able to see them this week, but I hope to arrange for a proper interview on Monday of next week.

You could knock me down with a feather!!!!

For the past few months, I've been reading a comic called Phonogram, all about music and it's effects. I think it's one of the best comics I have ever read, comparable to Sandman and Transmetropolitan.

When phonogram 2 came out, I wrote a letter to the creators about the way it made me feel. They've only gone and published it in issue 6!! While the thought of this possibility did cross mind when I wrote it, I never actually expected this to happen. I now wish I had put more effort into writing it, and I'm in a bit of shock.

Definitely the highlight of the week, if not the month or year.

Gig review: Jonathan Coulton

On Friday, 13 November, I went to see Jonathan Coulton, and Paul and Storm, at the Union Chapel near Highbury and Islington. I'm not sure how I found out about this, but I think I must have come across it somewhere on Internet. It's quite possible that someone else posted about it and I just thought I would go

Getting to the gig itself was a minor adventure, as the underground was half closed for various reasons, and I almost got lost on the way from the tube station. As the tube was half closed, had not realised this, I had to rework my journey on the fly, and ended up taking longer than I expected. Once out of the tube station, I had minor issues are lining the map with the reality and ended up walking down the street is a couple of times. Fortunately this did not delay in me significantly.

When I got at the union Chapel, I found that there was a lot of people will be queuing up for the gig. I think there were a lot of people in geeky T-shirts and hats of geek style. After working my way to the end of the queue, and doing it, I checked it out, and found that Aquarion was already in the queue but further ahead of me. at some point, I was joined by a few more people, I think they're actually five people in the group, but is only two of them showed up first. The couple were a rather cute gay couple, though I wasn't entirely sure about this at first. One of these was a largish gentleman, while the other was a rather androgynous person, who I wasn't entirely sure was male.

They tweeted that they are in the queue, and included my name in the tweet. This enabled me to identify who they were, and are subsequently found out that the person I was confused about what actually an F2M transsexual, which explained my confusion.
While we were waiting, a ticket tout went down the line trying to buy and sell tickets. I don't think he did very well, due to the geekyness of the audience and the way the tickets were sold.

At some point, they started letting people in, but separated into two groups, those who had bought the tickets and those who had bought electronic tickets. I don't know what happened to the people who had proper tickets, but we were checked in separately to ensure that we had valid tickets.

Once inside, I wandered around a bit, looking for somewhere to sit, but fortunately I was recognised by Aquarion and the other people I knew who were going. I ended up at the end of one of the pews, with nobody on my left. The union Chapel is a very impressive place-as its name suggests, it was, and possibly still is, a chapel. The stage is at the front of the chapel, where the pulpit is, and surrounded the pulpit.

first up was Paul and Storm, who are basically a humorous singing pair. Their first song what was once called Opening Band, which is about being the opening band on tour. After that there was a number of the songs, as you would expect. During the singing of "Opening Band", there was a line about maybe throwing knickers on stage, and a few people in the audience, obviously expecting this, threw some knickers on stage. These were mostly, as far as I could tell, men's knickers. There was something involving Jaffa cakes, that I could not understand, but this is obviously a part of their regular act. I think Paul and Storm were on for around an hour. There was a short break, during which myself and Paul Ellis went to get drinks.

After the break, Jonathan Coulton came on. Not sure I can say about him, but I enjoyed it.again he did a number of song,including one in which he rick-rolled the audience.

I think I preferred Paul and storm to Jonathan Coulton, but they were both great fun. I'm not sure I would be as much of a fanatic as other geeks are, but it was well worth going to.

After the gig, I purchased a copy of Jonathan Coulton's CD, and a three pack of the Paul and Storm CDs. On the way home, I had the usual issues with the trains mucking things up, due to the incoming train being delayed due to it being defective. However, I managed to get home okay.
I suppose I should post an update as to the state of my sister. As a quick summary, she's fine.

In more detail:

A few weeks back, my sister collapsed with a very painful stomach while at work. She had had a few problems with her stomach, and she thought it was one of those things where bits of the stomach are poking out into the wrong place, and she was going to see the doctor at some point. As work for my sister is a hospital, when she collapsed, the other nurses in her ward took her straight down to accident and emergency, where she was seen immediately and run through a full set of tests. Those first set of test was such that they decided to run a second set of tests, and the second tests showed that she had a mild case of bowel cancer.

She was quickly scheduled for an operation to remove the cancer, and she went in about a week ago, on Sunday and they operated on her on Monday. From the sounds of it, the operation went on a bit longer than they had expected, but they have completely cleaned her out, including her appendix.

When I went to see her this weekend, she looked a bit haggard, but apparently better than she had previously. Due to issues with her stomach, she had a pipe in her nose down to the stomach, which made her look very much like a wicked witch with a long, hooked nose.

Part of the result of Bridget's diagnosis was a recommendation that the rest of the family should be checked out as well. As a result, I went to see the doctor on Friday, and he will be making arrangements to me to make arrangements to have myself checked out for bowel cancer as well. My journey home after seeing the doctor was a bit odd, as I certainly felt the impact of the events and had to stop and get off my bike to wait for the shivers to go away.
Yesterday, I got a new toy. And it's a fun toy, for most of the time.

A few days ago, I saw a blog post about a blind person who writes a blog, and the tools he uses to do this. The main tool that he used was a voice recognition system called Dragon. This allowed him to simply speak his commands and blog text, rather than having to use a keyboard.

There was also a comment from an autistic person, or something in that area, about how he had found this system useful as well. This intrigued me, so I had a quick look to see how much a copy of the software would be. As a complete system was pretty cheap from Amazon,I decided I would give it a try.

I installed the system this morning, and I've been playing with it ever since. So far, it's an excellent system, and I'm finding it a little easier than typing away at the keyboard. It's not a perfect system, and it makes a few recognition errors, but as long as I keep an eye on what comes out on the screen, there are no significant problems with that.

I half wish that I had come across this system years ago, as it feels like it could be a lot easier to write the things that I need to write, even allowing for the errors, and having to go back to correct them.

I have also very tempted to recommend this to my sister, as my eldest nephew has problems with his writing, very similar to mine, and it seems like it would work for him as well.

Is anyone here seeing Jonathan Coulton tomorrow? Fancy meeting up before / afterwards?

Job hunt

Nov. 12th, 2009 11:48 am

Just had it confirmed that I'm not getting the contract job I interviewed for. As expected. I didn't have the testing stuff they needed, but they were otherwise impressed.
I have mixed feelings about that. While I was unlikely to have accepted the role, I think I would have liked to be offered it.

Feck. Big sister has just been diagnosed with bowel cancer. Supposedly it's all going to be fine, but I'm still worried.
I just read something that had the phrase "xxx doesn't believe in sex before marriage", and it just occurred to me - is there anyone who does actually believe in sex before marriage?

I mean, there are people who believe that sex before marriage is OK, but do they actually believe in sex before marriage?
What happens when you go past a hair dresser while in a odd mood.

Bethany was having a good hair day. This was unusual for her, since normally her waist length hair misbehaved to the limits of its ability.

So far today, her hair had only picked up a couple of pencils and attempted to knock a full coffee mug onto the floor, but she had managed to catch the mug before it could smash and cause a big mess in the coffee shop.

There had been the cute young boy in the queue at the shops, but he had had a very pert bum, and she wasn't entirely sure that she hadn't wanted to grope him herself. Fortunately, her hands had been full when he turned round, and she had been able to project an aura of innocence.

On bad hair days, Bethany had a lot more problems. Her hair would try to grab hold of anything that it could and throw it around the room. Shopping would become a nightmare, as her hair would fill her shopping basket with stuff that she had absolutely no interest in. These usually tended to be things that would embarrass her at the check out, such as 16 boxes of condoms.

Of course, this was nothing compared to her evil hair days.

C++ test

Oct. 16th, 2009 01:59 pm
In this test I did, there was a question
Which of the following statements provide a valid reason not to use RTTI for distributed (i.e. networked between different platforms) applications in C++?
A. RTTI's performance is unpredictable/non-deterministic.
B. RTTI is too slow.
C. RTTI uses too much memory.
D. RTTI does not have standardized run-time behavior.
E. RTTI frequently fails to function correctly at run-time.

To me, none of these seem valid answers. Does anyone else agree with me?

Job hunt

Oct. 13th, 2009 12:58 am

Had an interesting call from a job agent today. A nice sounding position in London, and for the first time ever, an agent actually wanted to see me, rather than blindly fire off my CV.

It appears that Jonathan Coulton is doing a gig in London in November. Not entirely sure why or if I want to, but I've purchased a ticket to go.
I nearly gave up halfway through, because the website has one of those fill in huge quantities of marketing info registration forms before you can even begin to actually buy the ticket.
I just hope he's worth the effort.

Fun things

Sep. 20th, 2009 09:41 pm
This sounds like it should be great fun. I think I'll buy a ticket, as soon as their computer recovers from its crash.

Facebook

Sep. 20th, 2009 08:46 pm
Today, I decided to sign up for facebook, after years of not doing it. As such, I'm trolling for people I know to add as friends. So, anyone out there?
Facebook is slightly scarey - as part of the sign up procedure, it offered a list of potential friends. Amongst one of them was a relative of mine, not a close one, and one that I would not have expected the system to be able to spot.
Eeep!
My mum is having a few age related health problems.
This doesn't worry me.
What does cause me to worry, is my sisters attempts to stop me worrying.
Odd that.

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Simon Callan

September 2014

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