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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:07pm on 04/05/2013 under , , ,
Reading back through the last few updates, there's a few things to update on.

The accident (http://phil99.livejournal.com/821313.html) from April 2012 that I wasn't really involved in, in any serious capacity, came back again to haunt me. I got a letter from Mold county court demanding that I turn up as a witness for the case against the person at the back. Actually it didn't really demand anything, it very subtly implied that I had to turn up, without actually saying it.

Court date was 18th April. I got a phone call on the day before saying I didn't have to turn up. Sigh. Hopefully that's it done with, for good.

Work. Work carries on, I'm still relatively happy with the place though actively keeping my eyes open for work closer to home as I'm really starting to get fed up with the 80 miles/2hrs a day commuting. I've been ITIL foundation trained/qualified through work and am off to London for a week's MySQL Administration training on the 12th, so I'm not giving anything up just yet.

Speaking of which, any London-ites fancy doing food/drinks/coffee after 5-pm Mon/Weds/Thu or Sunday evening, 12th/13th/15th/16th May? It's either that or I go to the theatre :)

Being on-call has settled down significantly, apart from the sodding gambling company who don't seem to be able to keep their processes working. We query their servers at 6am for some data, and I suspect about 1 in 4 or 5 days we make the call, it fails because of something at their end. It's great for my overtime pay, but I really want to be able to sleep in some more days.

Musical Theatre, our last show went OK, took a long time to get going but once we got there we certainly seemed to be there. AGM in a few weeks, I really must prepare a speech. Now got a lot of politics to surrounding the next show. I'm trying to get people to stop playing sodding games but people are people and they seem to like playing politics, so I'm keeping well back and letting them play games. Hopefully the bad things that I think may happen if they don't stop messing around won't happen, but I think it could.

I don't know what else I've been doing. Went to see Chris Addison do a show at Glyndwr Uni a few weeks back, he was hilarious. I hope he tours again, despite him saying he wasn't going to. Jane and I went to an evening in Chester hosted by the Balvenie distillery. It was great fun. i was driving so didn't drunk too much, but Jane was rather drunk by the end of the thing. It was amusing and horrifying in equal measures.

OHOH! The Sci Fi Weekender! Great fun. The caravan was absolutely f-ing freeeeeezing. The events were mostly fun. They overall did a good job, but some of the stuff they put on was a little... I want to say insulting, but that's not quite accurate, to the sci-fi fans who were there. Some guy with a saucepan on his head pretending to be a dalek is not funny. The robot marching up and down the aisle with the sound effects was impressive for the first 5 minutes. Then it just got dull. The guests and talks were brilliant. The screening zone was brilliant. More of both of those would be brilliant.

Rocky Horror at the Liverpool Empire was brilliant. Oliver Thornton as Frank was brilliant. Ben Forster is going in soon as brad, and Dani Harmer as Janet. You should see it.

I bought myself a Nexus 7 a few months back. It's awesome. It's not as slick and smooth as an iDevice, but damn it's good and a lot cheaper.
Music:: The Voice - BBC1
location: LL11
Mood:: 'mellow' mellow
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 12:24am on 07/08/2012 under , , , , ,
I'm now officially on-call with the new job. At the moment 1 week in 2 but call-outs should be "relatively" rare. They are actively trying to hire more of us though, so give it 4-5 months or so and I expect it to be 1 in 3, much more palatable. Think of the money, think of the money, think of the money...

I'm enjoying the work still, it's proving a challenge and I think largely I'm rising to it. There's a few bits here and there that I don't feel too comfortable with (e.g. - managing a relationship with outsourced DBAs) but overall I'm learning loads, and I think everything I'm learning here is really useful. Gaining lots of basic Oracle experience - it's taken me days but I can now at least log in to Oracle Database RAC using the service name or SID! Learning about FastStats, Unica, eMessage, Odystar, Capscan, managing PAF data, lots of data analytics stuff that's proving really interesting at the moment.

I got a reply from my MP on the letter I wrote to them about tenant's rights. I would tell you exactly what it said but the letter's not where I left it... It essentially said that they understand the point I was making (a lack of information available to tenants on their rights), that someone was doing a review of residential lettings within government, and they would forward my letter on to them.

Last weekend we spent at some friends' house in deepest darkest North Wales. We went for dinner in Mold on Friday for Tapas, and left on Sunday afternoon. There wasn't anywhere near as much debauchery as I was prepared for given some of the states I've seen him in, but it was a fun weekend. Nice to see him "growing up" :)

I've been sneakily buying a surround sound system for the past few weeks. That sounds like a weird thing to say, but I "accidentally" bought an Onkyo TX-SR508 from ebay a few weeks ago (I bid to a value that I thought was below it's real value and nobody else bid it up any further!) and have had my old stereo's speakers connected to it for a while, since then I've bought a set of 5 speakers and a kick-ass sub-woofer, so now the house shakes if we have the TV turned up too loud :-) I'm still not used to hearing sounds coming from behind me occasionally, especially when it's loud and unexpected.

We've got a busy few weeks coming up later in the year. Both pipsytip and myself are off work for 2 weeks in September. We haven't arranged anything yet but a holiday away somewhere would be nice. We're talking about Cornwall, I've not spent much time in that part of the world so it'd be nice to get down there and my parents are near Bristol/Bath so it could be convenient. September 21st we've also got tickets to Starlight Express in Llandudno, and Comic Con Wales is in wrexham on the 23rd. In October we've 2 gigs - Amanda Palmer at Manchester Cathedral and Idina Menzel at the Palace Theatre. Further on, at Christmas, because of the nature of the company we can't close down like AD/DM used to, so the company is open and I'm not sure whether Joe (the other guy on my team) wants any time off yet. Personally I'm not too bothered, Jane might be though so we'll see.

I'm coming to the end of my mobile phone commitment period in September. I am yet to decide what to do. I have been using an iPhone 4 now for the past 2yrs and to be honest with myself, I love it as a phone. My first adventure into proper smartphone land (excluding a Sony Ericsson T68i - which by today's standards is retarded) was an Android G1, and that did me well for about 6 months, but flakiness and Android version fragmentation really screwed the Android OS, leading me down the CyanogenMod route. I got jaded with it and gave up. So whether to wait to see what price my current provider will offer me on a new iPhone (rumoured for release in September), whether to upgrade to a 4S (not sure I see the point) or switch hardware completely, I don't know. I need to investigate the market again.

One "problem" I have is that I get half-price line-rental from my current provider on any price-plan, as I used to work for them. So I'm on the top-price package they offer (£60/mo) and pay £30, almost everything is included (3000mins, 3000 SMS, a bunch of MMS and fair-use policy (I think it's still 1GB) data a month), of which I use virtually none! So moving to another provider? Unlikely to happen.

We have been busy lately, unfortunately with my current style of journalling (once every couple of months), writing about anything in more detail than "Oh yeah, we did that, didn't we?" is tricky :)
Mood:: 'tired' tired
location: LL11
Music:: Family Guy on FX
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:52pm on 10/01/2012 under , ,
I've been semi-actively looking for a new job now for about 6 months. However I've decided that I'm going to be a little bit fussy about where I look. I don't want to be commuting 30 miles each way to work any more. If I can - I want to get a job fairly locally - Wrexham, Chester, Oswestry - that sort of area. I've not so far had any luck finding the kind of jobs advertised that I think I shoiuld even bother applying for, never mind the kind of jobs that I want. Excepting of course jobs for the local council which I may as well not bother applying for.

A couple of people recently who I've talked to about jobs and the complete lack of anything useful in Wrexham, have (essentially) suggested that I should stop being so fussy about where I look. Manchester would be a long way out, but it might be worth it as a short term stop-gap. If I can find perhaps some development work in Manchester and do it for a year, get some real experience in that field, that might expand my options locally.

A commute to Manchester means either a hellish drive of about an hour and a half, or a hellish train journey of about 2hrs. Neither of those do I like.
Mood:: thoughtful
Music:: Little Britain - BBC Three
location: LL11
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Once again my delightful employers have decided that the roulette wheel of future employment shall be spun. Yes, we're downsizing.

There is a positive side to it this time, at least: they've told us in advance. The last 2 rounds of redundancies came relatively out of the blue. This advance notice is a double-edged sword. We got a de-motivational speech from the owner on Wednesday, telling us that they were effectively closing a subsidiary company in the US, then sent an email (yes, an email) round at 1630 on Thursday telling us that there would be cuts. As of Friday evening, we are still no wiser as to how many they want to get rid of, what departments will be affected. No news on anything.

On a more positive note, I had an interesting discussion this morning with a chap from a recruitment agency (are they psychic?!), talking about a job in Chester that I might be interested in. I have to update my CV this weekend.

Speaking of which, how the hell do I describe my job?

Well by title, I am a Group Technical Support & Validation engineer within the development department.

I currently spend a lot of time on a specific project. Testing and assisting with the development of a bespoke web-based Linux, Apache, MySQL & PHP (LAMP) application which provides a health monitoring solution for our digital recording units. This includes master/slave synchronisation (written ourselves as MySQL doesn't support this natively) and all the problems this brings up. Dealing with mobile units and the problems this introduces (e.g. recorders on public transport), simplifying installation (automating the building of an RPM & installation scripts) and general Linux system administration.

I am responsible for testing and approving (or rejecting) hard drives, CD/DVD drives and any other 3rd-party hardware used in our units.

I provide an interface between development and anybody else who shouldn't be talking directly to developers. I need to communicate clearly and at the right level with end users, developers, directors, marketing, training, customer services and more.

I have specific responsibility for supporting and testing AoE RAID devices. I have worked closely with the manufacturers to learn everything I can about them, including initial configuration, maintenance and recovering from single/multiple drive failures.

I'm jointly responsible for testing and releasing new software on our digital recorders. Testing that new software doesn't introduce new bugs, that new features work as expected. I work very closely with development teams to resolve bugs.

On top of this there's whatever else needs doing. General dogsbody. If it needs doing within the department, and it's not specifically a developer's job, I'll probably end up with it.

Ok then, that wasn't as hard as I thought it would be to write down. It sounded like a lot when I was thinking about it but it's not that bad.

I look forward to seeing my CV when I am done...
Mood:: 'blah' blah
location: LL11
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:27pm on 10/07/2011 under , , , , ,
So, let's see... where did I leave off?

2 months eh?

Well, let's give you a minor catch up.

New job - is busy. Very very busy. I had a minor collapse at Jane when I got home one day after I was told I was being shit at something when I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, and kept on getting work piled on me from various directions (my boss, a director, product management). I went in the next day and got the people involved to tell me what they expected and I told them that I needed my boss to be the one who knows what I'm doing and to be the one responsible for telling me what I am doing, and it's all been better since.

No quieter mind, still just as busy, but now all from one direction.

On the 2nd of July, Jane and I went to Jodrell Bank Live (http://www.jodrellbanklive.co.uk/), where we saw 5 bands: Alice Gold, Wave Machines, British Sea Power, OK Go and The Flaming Lips. British Sea Power surprised me by being better than I remembered and having a cute violinist. OK Go were awesome as I expected (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=og3utkafw3g - hand bells!), the Flaming Lips were absolutely astonishingly great performers - I didn't know much of the music but I don't think that mattered.

I have some photos but my battery wasn't properly charged up and didn't last long - it was a LONG day - we got there at 4 and got out the car park about 1:30am! Photos here. Official and amazing photos here: http://photos.jodrellbanklive.co.uk/view/

I went on a work trip to Strasbourg. Well, Reichstett. Well actually an oil refinery in Reichstett. It was a waste of my time really - I think I only really went because the bosses don't trust the European engineer. To be fair to him he knew exactly what he was doing and I brought very little to the site that he didn't already know. 2 very long days - leaving home about 3:30am on Thursday, getting back about 11pm Friday. Ugh. This after having been working until gone 3am on Tuesday on another project!

Early June there was the Wales Comic Con! Some pics here (https://picasaweb.google.com/sumner.phil/5thJuneComicConWales?authuser=0&feat=directlink), mainly off the talk that Gareth David Lloyd and James Moran did. A fun day, and we also had an [personal profile] eponymousarchon stay with us for the weekend, and we had a nice time. Jane bought some comics called "Vampire Freestyle" that she's really enjoyed and ended up buying more of: http://www.neptunefactory.com/pages/vampirefreestyle.html. I bought an autograph and DVD from Norman Lovett and had a quick chat with him before his talk with Chris Barrie, always an interesting pair to see talk.

The Wales Comic Con is a small event but they do well :)

There's probably plenty more, but hey... one post every 2 months is probably not enough to put everything interesting in.
Mood:: 'tired' tired
Music:: Weather forecast on ITV
location: LL11
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 03:02pm on 12/05/2011 under
Having had the joy of an inspection from the letting agency and a teeth scraping at the dentist. Both were joyous events, neither of which do I want to repeat.

Work. I am enjoying my new role within the company. It's a challenge for me, as I'm now having to deal with time management properly, rather than having 1 overriding priority - answering the phone - I've got to sort out myself what's important and what's not. And in the process deal with other people's expectations and incorporate their deadlines into my work. All of which I've never really had to do.

I also have responsibility! I am responsible for validating new hardware for use in our kit. Now this process is not documented and I think I made a bit of a balls-up with one of them. I approved a CD writer for use in products that need software version xx.xx to work, and I didn't actually try xx.xx in one of our products. It turns out that xx.xx doesn't work on this one product... gah!

I'm hoping it's an easy fix. I am however furious at myself for making such an elementary mistake, and have taken steps to improve the process so that it's both documented and structured. So hopefully I'll have gone from making a balls-up, to improving the system.
Mood:: 'cold' cold
location: LL11
Music:: Six Feet Under - S1E6 - The Room
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 03:13pm on 31/03/2011 under , , ,
I have a new job, hurrah.

It's within the same company, so you could call it a promotion. I'm moving into "Group Tech Support" which is kind-of an odd dept. They/we do testing & validation of new software and products, support other departments and deal with some of the more... tricky customers.

Basically it's what I'm really doing now, with FAR fewer customers and more of what I really like, the troubleshooting, playing, tinkering and breaking of things.

The fact that it comes with a 17% pay rise was just a small factor in my decision to say yes.

I start Monday, and am a very odd mix of ecstatic and worried ;-) I don't think I've anything to be worried about but change is always slightly un-nerving.

Annoyingly enough, I got a phone call from a recruitment agent yesterday evening talking about a position for a company nearby to my current place, talking about what on the surface sounds like a "too good to be true" position with a salary to match. I don't think it's even worth considering to be honest. I decided a while ago that if I'm going to change company I'm going to do so for somewhere that's closer to home.
Music:: Orbital - Waving Not Drowning
location: WA4
Mood:: 'rejuvenated' rejuvenated
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:47pm on 10/11/2010 under , ,
I can't remember if I posted about this before. About 2 months ago I had the joy of my first filling. Ohhh that was not a pleasant experience. And I had to pay for it. And to top it all off, I now experience more discomfort than I ever did before I had the work done.

Tomorrow I am going back for more. I don't know what the plan is, to be honest and I don't know if I want to. I like to think these things are easier when you don't know what's going to happen. I shall complain bitterly about the increase in discomfort too, if I remember at the time.

At least I get the day off work. And I shall go back to the gym for the first time in a month or so. I've been trying to go, but getting back into the habit of going in the mornings before work has proved increasingly difficult over the past month, due to the darkened mornings and weird things I've been dealing with at work that have required a fair amount of extra time which I just can not put in during the evenings - I'm busy at least 3 evenings a week.

I fully expect that I will be feeling very sorry for myself on Friday.

At least that weird-ass work problem's sorted now, a problem that's been rumbling on for about 11 weeks we got sorted recently. I say that, it's not quite true. The customer told us that they wanted one thing, which we sorted relatively quickly. Then when we got that resolved on site, they decided to change the spec to something else which has been at least 3 other problems mixed in together.
Mood:: 'awake' awake
Music:: Star Trek: TNG - The Arsenal of Freedom
location: LL11
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 07:29pm on 03/10/2010 under , ,
Mood:: 'indifferent' indifferent
Music:: Simpsons on Sky1
location: LL11
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:36pm on 18/05/2010 under , ,
Really, I will. I don't remember when I last did. If it was before we moved house, there's two reasons I haven't updated:
  1. We STILL don't have proper broadband access. We won't do (according to TalkTalk) until the 6th June. That'll be 2 months after we moved in. About 3 months after we informed them that we were moving. We're on a T-Mobile PaYG 3G USB dongle which does the job... kinda. I's heavily restricted between 4pm-midnight though, because we smashed the 1GB fair use policy in about 3 days...
  2. I am SO tired in the evenings. Seriously so. I'm getting up at 0630-0645 in the morning, leaving home at ~0730, getting to work just after 8. Leaving work ~1730 and then getting home about 1815. That feels a long day, I'm not sure it really is though.
So yes, house good, work OK but need new job where I can advance and travel less, and get more money. Mwahahaha.
Music:: Friends on E4
location: LL11
Mood:: 'exhausted' exhausted

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