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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 09:55pm on 25/11/2011 under
When I was: 19

I was dating: Nobody, not a twinkling of a relationship. That's not to say I wan't trying for one with Manchester Uni maths student Caroline and the student nurse whose name I've forgotten.

I wanted to be: A software engineer. Well, that was my degree course, I don't know what else I wanted to do. I really was quite dull in my future plans.

I lived: Manchester, well actually Chorlton-cum-Hardy, at the Hardy Farm residences. In a block with 9 other guys. Mostly liked the place. Worked at the Pav bar, was social sec on the residents' association.
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
location: LL11
Music:: Blackadder Goes Forth
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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...
location: LL11
Mood:: 'blah' blah
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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 (, 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 - 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:

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 (, 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: 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.
location: LL11
Music:: Weather forecast on ITV
Mood:: 'tired' tired
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 03:13pm on 12/05/2011 under ,
Well not tonight, but recently.

Jane and I went to Theatre Cymru in Mold a week ago to see Andy Robinson and Mitch Benn. Theatre Clwyd was a nice space, a good setup and there was an audience of maybe 200-250 people, not bad at all.

Andy Robinson was a little weak, I think. I think he was trying lots of new material, and lots of it bombed. The stuff he had practiced lots worked - and it worked well.

Mitch Benn, now there's an odd one. Let's get it straight, his set was hilarious. His stand-up was good as well as his musical numbers. I was wondering when he came on how he was going to play it, because he came on looking and acting _incredibly_ arrogant. I did wonder if he was perhaps coked up or something, but he did relax into his act.

The MC, Silky, I have seen before at Llangollen, and I like him. He is a Scouser, but we can forgive him that.

There was also a short bit from Patrick Kavanagh, just a short 5-10 minute piece which was very funny.

Then the night after we went to the Rhyl Pavilion (whose website is broken at the moment) where Mike Bubbins and Henning Wehn were on the bill. The room at Rhyl was weird. It was basically a bar area with lots of round tables & chairs set up. Very long and narrow. Not really a good room for this kind of event, also quite small - I reckon there were maybe 75 people there at most. I felt for the poor MC at the beginning, there was no reaction whatsoever.

On a similar note: Rhyl Pavilion is a _weird_ place. Who's idea was it to combine a swimming pool/entertainment centre and theatre?! As it's right on the coast, it smells of chlorine and rotting seaweed. Lovely.

Mike Bubbins (, for never having heard of him before, was _very_ good. His storytelling was excellent and I'm sure given a more reactive audience we would have been on the floor with laughter. I'm keeping an eye out for him to appear places in the future.

Patrick Kavanagh came on unexpectedly, however also did the same set he did the night before! D'oh!

Henning Wehn was also excellent. In case you don't know him, he's German. That's essentially his act - Comedy Ambassador to the UK :) He almost had me rolling on the floor with laughter. We had a chat with him, Mike and a guest who did a short 10 minute slot called Patrick Kavanagh afterwards, awww they were both lovely.

Both of these events were organised through Kill For a Seat who organise events in Wales, Yorkshire and Leeds.

I'll be going back to Mold again, that event was ace. Rhyl's a bit far but it was worth it for Henning. And come September I have tickets for Russel Kane, and October for Andy Parsons both in Glyndwr University in Wrexham! This is a busy year for the laughs.
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
Music:: Six Feet Under
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
Music:: Six Feet Under - S1E6 - The Room
location: LL11
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 11:15pm on 14/04/2011 under
The 30 day meme, well... the less we say about that the better.

New job - started on Monday 4th April and was there for a week, spent the week tidying the mess that had been left by the former occupant and getting to grips with the things that he did that I never even knew about.

Then went off on holiday. It's show week, no sane person works show week. We've had tech rehearsal on Sunday, 3 dress rehearsals (Mon/Tue/Weds - Weds was going to be a show night but we sold 8 tickets for it a week and a half beforehand, so we cancelled it) and tonight was the first show night. It's gone alright. Better than I expected, better than I hoped! I'm still not happy with the quality of the chorus movement and the quality of some of the harmony, but it's "OK".

This week daytime has involved plenty of TV for both Jane and I, we've been catching up on some shows that we've been neglecting.

I now have beer, and am happy :)
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
location: LL11
Music:: Batman Forever
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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.
Mood:: 'rejuvenated' rejuvenated
Music:: Orbital - Waving Not Drowning
location: WA4
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:35pm on 13/03/2011 under

Since fixing the fan in my old laptop (must remember to find out why the CD drawer isn't opening - note to self), I've had it running in the corner as a server. So far it's an Ubuntu 10.04 server and I have it running:

  • apache2 - also including:
    • Tweet Nest( for me and Jane
    • Tiny Tiny RSS ( - freeing my from Google Reader
    • RSS Lounge ( - evaluating an alternative to TT-RSS
    • Cacti - just monitoring the PC right now
    • MediaWiki ( - Why not? No use for it yet.
    • Access to scanner (
  • avahi / mDNS / zeroconf - In theory should be able to print from iPhone but this only works half the time, think this is a router issue though.
  • Remote access to GDM/XDM via VNC
  • Firefly / mt-daapd - iTunes-like media server (Needs replacing with something under active development)
  • CUPS ( - Print server
  • BIND / named ( - DNS - really must register again, I liked running that domain
  • squid ( - Caching proxy
  • MySQL - Mainly local databases for Cacti / RSS Lounge / TT-RSS / Tweet Nest etc
  • sshd - Remote shell connection

Most of this stuff only available locally, access available remotely to ports 80/22 only and everything runs under non-privileged user accounts. What else can I do.... ? :-)

Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
location: LL11
Music:: Being Human - BBC HD
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 10:20pm on 13/03/2011 under
day 14 - your earliest memory.

It comes down to 1 of 2 choices...

1. I was about 8, I was picking flowers for my mum. From our back garden :) She wasn't impressed.
2. Having one of the neighbours' kids stay over for a while and finding it odd having a girl staying with us.

day 15 - your favourite tumblrs.

I don't read any tumblers specifically. However I have come across this one that I find deeply amusing - Things People Don't Say About Advertising.

day 16 - your views on mainstream music.

I listen to an odd mix of music - most of my radio input is either BBC Radio 1 (Chris Moyles) or Elaine Paige on Sunday, then the occasional thing here and there that comes from elsewhere (telly, t'interweb etc.)

But all things considered, I don't listen to as much new music as I would like to.

My views on music haven't changed much recently. The types of music I like are broad and hugely varied, just ask Jane what my music collection is like :) I don't think any specific music is crap, unworthy or shouldn't be listened to, even if I don't like it myself.

The rest )
Mood:: 'sleepy' sleepy
location: LL11
Music:: Being Human - BBC HD
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posted by [personal profile] pmsumner at 05:39pm on 06/03/2011 under
day 13 - somewhere you’d like to move or visit.

For a long time I wanted to move to the US. I visited a fair amount when I was at uni, and spent a bit of time in the North East, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, and also went on a few holidays to Florida with the parents.

However now, I feel like the US isn't necessarily a safe place to move to. Not necessarily safe as in physically safe but freedoms are being eroded and the whole (lack of) work-life balance thing over there bamboozles me.

Even visiting has become an intimidating experience, what with the requirements to register your intentions before visiting despite the visa waiver program. They may as well just go the whole hog and make every visitor apply for a visa.

I would like visit... well... anywhere! At the moment it's not likely to happen anytime soon, money's needed to travel and I have not much of it.

Specifically I guess I'd like to go to Malaysia again and spend more time there, or possibly spend some time round eastern Europe.

Days 14+ )
location: LL11
Mood:: 'tired' tired