Tuesday, February 28

"And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking"

Cannot believe that it's the end of February today.  It's almost a clich√© but, seriously, where the hell is this year going? 

Are we really nearly a sixth of the way through it?  It only feels like five minutes since New Year.
This is a real sign that I'm getting old isn't it?
And the weekend just flew, I've never known a 48 hour period to disappear in such a flash..
But then, from start to finish, it was a fun-packed smile-a-rama (especially getting to go on Thomas the Tank Engine).

"Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time"

But at least today is pancake day - hurrah!
Can you remember pancake day when you were a kid?  It was excellent.  It was the only time of year you'd consider using Jif Lemon for anything.  Indeed, for the two weeks before "Shrove Tuesday" (as some religious nutters call it) TV used to be bombarded with those oh-so-amusing adverts with people squirting Jif Lemon juice onto an empty plate whilst a voice over chipped in with: "Don't forget the pancakes on Jif Lemon Day".  You never see those commercials any more do you?

Then the next day at school, there used to be all the bragging about just how many pancakes you actually had the previous night: "I had eight pancakes".. "Well I had nine" (When in reality you didn't get anywhere past three as they were always deceptively filling).

I'm sure in modern days pancakes are now frowned upon as being unhealthy (especially when covered with lashings and lashings of lovely Maple Syrup) and certainly they don't seem to make a fuss about pancake day like they used to.  Which is a shame as it's a right treat.

So, even if you weren't thinking of doing so, why not nip out and get some eggs, milk and flour (not forgetting the Jif Lemon) - it might not sound that appealing right now, but you'll thank me later when you tuck into your delicious pancake.

And finally to anyone who knows me.. keep Saturday 5th August 2006 free if you can!

Friday, February 24

Beer, Beer, Beer, Beer

So.. I am out for a couple of cheeky shandies this evening, and we all kinda got talking about beer and pubs and stuff.  Specifically we began to ponder why does beer go flat when it gets warm?

Have you ever pondered that yourself?
Well, we did a bit of research and found out the following:

It all comes down to the behaviour of gases and their solubility in water.  Most beers dilute solutions of sugars, gases, organic acids and other complex compounds and, of course, alcohols.

The gas which gives fizzy drinks their bubbles is Carbon Dioxide (that's CO2, to you).  In the case of beardy-weirdy real ales, the CO2 is generated by the action of yeasts on residual sugars in the drink, whereas in most beers -specifically lager- the conditioning gas is added artificially at the brewery or at the point of sale.

The problem arises because the solubility of CO2 is related to the temperature of the solvent in which it is dissolved.  More gas can dissolve in cold beer than in warm beer.  This is also why fish such as trout and salmon, which need a lot of oxygen, live in cold mountain streams and rivers because the amount of oxygen dissolved in these environments is so much higher.

When beer is served from the pump, it will contain a certain concentration of CO2 but, as the drink heats up under the influence of a sweaty (?) hand in a warm room, its ability to hold its CO2 in solution decreases. The excess gas is then released into the atmosphere through the bubbles that you see rising in the beer, and the drink consequently goes flat.  Other volatile compounds from the malt and hops vaporise faster and you may notice that the beer also smells different.

So there you go.. if you want fizzy beer drink it quickly or sit in a cold pub, not allowing your sweaty palms anywhere near it..

Something's brewing

There's something of a growing Homebrew cult for the PSP out there on the internet. 

Now homebrew does not, as one might expect, mean rancid beer brewed in the cupboard under the stairs from a cheap kit that was purchased from Boots, the drinking of which may permanently cause loss of eyesight.

No, homebrew is a collection of games and applications (and also, there are quite a lot of emulators: Spectrum emulators, Game Boy Advance emulators, SNES emulators, etc, etc) that are coded up and made available by enthusiasts and are not licensed in any way, shape or form by Sony. Because they are not endorsed or licensed by Sony they are therefore, by definition, far more exciting, interesting and desirable than any licensed product.

Now initially, when I got my lovely, shiny PSP from Sony, homebrew was all but unobtainable for people in European countries.  You see by the time we got our hands on the lovely portable console in this continent, Sony had all but spoilt the homebrew party by updating the firmware that shipped with the product.  In short, homebrew would run on no version of the firmware higher than 1.5.  Bugger.  So although I read about it with interest, it never really affected be and, by and large, so impressed with the power of Sony's uber-gadget was I, that I figured that I wasn't really missing much..

But then there are some really clever chaps out there on the other end of the internet..
One chap, who goes by the name of Fanjita, has now cracked the limitations placed on PSP owners by Sony and has effectively made Homebrew software available to all..  Well, as long as you own a copy of "Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories" (which, to be fair most PSP owners will have a copy of anyway).

Fanjita's homebrew loader, installs itself as a Grand Theft Auto saved game, and by loading the saved game through the game engine, opens up a loader that can run the majority of homebrew applications out there.  This is all fantastically clever (I have seen it working first hand, even if I've yet to take the plunge myself), and it is a very elegant way of launching the software (although it does make me wonder if he's getting a nice kick-back from Rockstar games for using that particular title).

So over the weekend I intend to sample a little of this homebrew, as it all sounds frightfully interesting.  If it all works then it'll just add to my praise for what I already consider to be the finest gadget released in the last two years, unsure as to what words of praise I'll have left by then (I have already used most of the superlatives at my command), but I'm sure that Dog's Danglies goes no way near to describing how cool the PSP actually is.

A Foo!? Bless You!!

The mighty Foo Fighters are back in the North West!
They play the Lancashire County Cricket Ground on Sunday 18th June 2006!
Undoubtedly this band is one of the finest live acts I've seen, and I will certainly logging on to the ol' Ticketsheister tomorrow morning (9 am sharp, kids!) to get my grubby paws on a pair of tix to this gig. Not seen them for a couple of years actually, certainly not since In Your Honour was released last year, and that has some of the best songs on it the band have ever recorded (in my humble opinion) like "D.O.A" and "No Way Back". So hurrah! Rejoice Rejoice!
It's been a while since I've been to a proper gig too, I'm sure the last one was NIN at the Apollo last year. I've done more comedy gigs recently (taking in the League of Gentlemen and Little Britain Live - both of which were fucking hilarious!) and the next live music I'm going to see is 70's prog rock classic "Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds" which, although I'm very excited about it and am very much looking forward to it, couldn't actually be described as a gig! So yeah it'll be good to see Mr Grohl screaming down a microphone again, and it'll be fantastic to hear "Monkey Wrench" live once more.

Thursday, February 23

Call centre madness

My friend sat opposite me in this Software Development Asylum is currently looking like he's going to spontaneously combust at any minute.  If I wasn't mildly concerned that the flying shards of bone might scar me should such an explosion occur, it would be almost amusing.  He's currently being batted between two call centres, both of which seemed to be based outside of the UK as he tries to get his ADSL line fixed.  Neither his ISP (Demon, in case you're interested) or BT seem to have anyone based locally, or with sufficient knowledge to actually get the bloody thing fixed for him, and after a week of having his calls mis-directed and being no closer to actually the problem with his internet fixed.

Ooh.. they just cut him off whilst promising to put him through to a supervisor - he now looks like he wants to kill everyone in this office as well as the Indian Call Centre.

I wonder if companies actually realise the amount of homicidal rage that stupid call centres and idiotic telephone menu's actually cause?  There's no doubt that my friend is going to cancel his subscription with his ISP - wouldn't you after being messed about for well over a week?  So just how much saving is there in having a foreign call centre compared with the amount of customers you'll end up losing?

Wednesday, February 22

This is a saga now..

I wish I'd never mentioned it yesterday, but today it was a full thirty minutes before the alarm went off.. that's just taking the piss! 

However, today I am in mourning..
Last night, for the first time ever, Sky+ let me down..
And not just let me down in some silly way, like failing to record "Battlestar Galactica" or neglecting to correctly series-link a programme. 

Oh no, last night Sky+ was properly ruined. 

It all started when we noticed that "Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" wasn't recording (well we noticed the little red dot wasn't on the front of the Sky Box anyway).. which was odd, as earlier in the evening we'd shuffled round a whole host of planned recordings to accommodate it (sometimes being able to only record two things at any given time is a REAL bind).  Quickly, I nipped to the Sky+ Planner to see what the hell was going on, and my better half noticed that not only were the Kitchen Nightmares not present and correct but Eastenders had also failed to record earlier in the evening (with the error message of "Disk Full" - despite the fact that the display showed 57% free).

Oh dear..
Anyway, after the football we managed to catch the last 15 minutes of Ramsay and felt that at least we'd had a sample of some of his culinary swearing -although to be honest this show is becoming just a tad repetitive nowadays:  Gordon goes in to restaurant, restaurant is serving shite food and the place is looking like going out of business, resident chef is a bit gobby (and may or may not use microwave), Gordon teaches chef to use fresh ingredients, Gordon reduces the amount of items on the menu, Gordon paints the place and then the business is magically transformed.  Now take that recipe and sprinkle liberally with obscenities and ta-daaa, you have several series' worth of programming.

So all seemed to be back on track, and after Gordon both my better half and I were looking forward to the final episode of Shameless.. However, as you do, we fancied a brew first, and so hit pause and disappeared into the kitchen.  When we got back to the sofa, it was clear that all was not well.  For those of you who don't have Sky+, when you pause live telly a big pause logo appears on screen with a counter beneath it showing you how far behind the actual broadcast you are (e.g. "-7 mins").  Despite having been in the kitchen nattering for a good five minutes the counter still read zero. 

And, to make matters worse, it was failing to record too!  Double arse.  Anyway, not wanting to miss any more, we ignored the fact that Sky+ was buggering about, and watched the show (which was quite amusing, but I must say I think this show has past its best too).

So the credits roll on Shameless, and it's time to sort the Sky out. Hit the ol' menu and press the Green button to access the planner.. Rather than seeing the usual display of programmes recorded and to be recorded there is simply a message: "You have no programmes in your Sky Planner".

You bloody liar! There's the entire series of "Max & Paddy's Road To Nowhere", the second episode of 24 broadcast on Sunday, not to mention half a dozen other things we haven't got round to watching yet!!

This does not look good.
Okay well, we'll try and add a recording.
Switch to the favourite channels view..
Select a programme to record
Another bastard error message, along the lines of: "Sky+ Service is unavailable, recording and live pause not working.  Call 08457..."..

Okay, let's try a Sky Planner Rebuild, that normally works..
The Sky Planner Rebuild, as far as I can see is basically the equivalent of de-fragging your hard drive.  As whenever you run one it appears to recover the odd percentage of free recording space for you, and everything seems to run a bit better for a few weeks afterwards.

So off to the Secret "Installer Menu"(well not so secret as Sky tell you how to access it every time you phone up, plus it's all over the t'internet).  "Services", "4", "0", "1", "Select".  Right, now Rebuild.

"The planner rebuild will stop all of your recordings", I'm told.  Well the bugger isn't recording anything now or in the future at the moment so where's the harm. So, "Select" to continue..  and the box tells me it's "Housekeeping" before buggering off and going for a reset.  After a few minutes it's normally okay to switch the box back on, so we do.. Ta-daa! It all jumps back into life okay.  Right, good, "Green" for planner.

"You have no programmes in your Sky Planner".
In the end it took a full system reset.. My Sky+ planner is back, but it is empty.. All of my recordings gone, all of my "programmes-to-be-recorded" gone.. I spent fifteen minutes trying to recall what we normally record in any given week and re-adding it back to the system (and, yes, I remembered even to add the new series of "Two Pints of Lager").  But now I am left with a feeling of emptiness and betrayal, I look at my shiny Sky+ box with a definite air of mistrust.. yes it may record the repeat of 24 tonight, but it will be some time before I fully come to trust my lovely Sky+ box again..

Tuesday, February 21

Warning this post is alarmed

Did that thing today where you wake up about fifteen minutes before your alarm is due to go off.

Now when this situation arises, one of two things will usually happen.. you can either:

a) smile at the fact that you still have 15 minutes tucked up all cosy and warm, turn over, and pull the duvet up under your chin.  In some of these cases, you may even manage to drop off quickly again before the alarm actually does ring out to signify the beginning of another working day; or

b) lie there annoyed at the fact that you've woken up 15 minutes early, knowing that you're never going to get back to sleep as your bladder is too full but resolving to sulkily stay where you are as you'll be damned if you're going to get up a single minute early...

Today was a category b day.
It isn't always precisely fifteen minutes before the alarm goes off that this sort of thing happens but it's always a significant enough amount of time to justify trying to stay in bed for a bit longer rather than, say, when you wake up two minutes before the alarm goes off and you just think: "sod it, may as well get up". 

And if you cannot just drop off again, then you get this magical fifteen minutes which seems to stretch out for hours where you wait, like a condemned man, for the alarm bells to toll..  And scientists should investigate this phenomena of the time between you waking up and your alarm going on as I'm convinced that seconds actually slow to hours during this time, which is why if you do drop off now, you always feel a million times more refreshed when the alarm actually does go off.  But if you cannot get back to sleep in this pre-dawn nightmare before the day officially begins then it stretches out forever, and all of your thoughts during this eternal fifteen minutes awaiting the chimes are consumed by the fact that you'd very much like to get to sleep, and the more you think about it the less likely it is you'll drop off again.  The mind is cruel when it plays such tricks on you like this, isn't it?

So I feel today that I have been robbed of a quarter of an hour's slumber, and I may proceed to be grumpy all day as a result (not really made my mind up on that one yet, still mulling it over).  It wouldn't be so bad if I had something to blame for my awakening.  If I'd been woken by the neighbours having yet another barny (never let a psycho Geordie lass move next door to you, it's bad, bad news), or a car beeping it's horn outside, or even the cat deciding that my exposed foot was a legitimate target to pounce on, claws exposed - then at least I could be annoyed at them.  But no, for some reason I just popped my eyes open before I needed too!  Grr..

Monday, February 20

Achieving the Dream..

Despite many nay-sayers, critics who thought it couldn't be done, those who scoffed at the merest suggestion of it, the weekend showed that, with enough willpower and hard work, fantastic things could be achieved..

aye - I'm still not smoking.
There is a downside to this quitting lark though, and it's not cravings or desperately longing to light up because if I'm perfectly honest I've not really had any of that.  I think my body is still in shock at the fact that nicotine has been so dramatically cut of my system, that the cravings will only come when it settles down and gets its bearings back.  Although, even I will admit, there was a period on Saturday afternoon that if someone had offered me a cigarette, I'd have taken it.. however my worries were unfounded and I came through it all okay. 

No, it's the fact that when you start quitting, your lungs begin shifting out all of the crap that has built up over the years.  As a result of this I'm having a regular coughing fit that puts any bout of coughing I ever had whilst still smoking well into the shade..

So have I cracked it?
Is that all there is to this quitting malarkey?
Cos if so, it's an absolute doddle..
What was I worried about?
I expected a nightmarish couple of weeks, kind of like the sequence in "Trainspotting" where Renton is forced to go cold turkey, but I can honestly say there's no side-effects of this quitting process that I'm having problems dealing with.. as yet, anyway.

Oh and not yet touched the Alan Carr book yet (still no quitting aids being employed), so if anyone wants an unread second hand copy of this for themselves or for a friend or loved-one who you want to see give up the evil weed, then just drop me a line.

Was persuaded to return to the cinema this weekend too, not been inspired to go for ages (as movies have been pants since "Return of the King" left the cinemas), so it was quite a novelty so go watch a flick on the big screen again.  The film of choice was "Derailed" and it was pretty good, although not as good as I'd been lead to believe it would be but -as I looked at the films playing that evening whilst queuing up to buy the tickets- definitely the best of a bad bunch.  I mean, really: Did the World need a third Final Destination movie?  FFS!

The trailer for the remake of The Fog looked interesting though..

Well another working week stretches out before me like a gaping yawn, so best crack on, eh?


Friday, February 17

Progress Report

I had my last cigarette 18 hours and 20 minutes ago.

Not that I am obsessing about the whole "lack of cigarette" thing, you understand, I just feel it's worth mentioning (particularly as I'm sure Dot Cotton's never done 18 hours, maff!).  Indeed I set myself quite a test last night, as I went out to a public house to quaff a few ales (as you do on a Thursday night).  Pubs are not only notoriously smoky environments but also, in the past, the perfect complement to a pint of beer was a Marlboro Light.. they just went together, you know -so it was a lofty challenge to go out immediately on the day of my final ciggie and sit for hours with temptation all around me.  Indeed we managed to find a table in direct view of the fag machine too. 

But I have the power.
I resisted.

And all this without the help of any of those quitting aids like patches or nicotine gum - as they're for faggots. 
No, you gotta go cold turkey, just say no to nicotine.

To be fair, I don't think I'm actually missing the nicotine that much but I reckon I will miss the little smoking habits that I used to have.. at 9:30 today I will stare wistfully at the office clock, knowing that -in my old life- it would have been time for the 9:30 cigarette, same deal at 11:00..

So.. onwards and upwards, I'm now going sod off and get my fix of my other drug, caffeine, to help me through the day..


Thursday, February 16

Quittin' Time

Quittin' Time

I have been a non-smoker for 35 minutes.
Where's my fucking round of applause?

Just how competitive are you?

Most pointless site of the week award goes to holdthebutton.com..
I just hope no-one I know breaks the record

The Final Countdown

Yeah now that you've read that header I challenge you not have cheesy Euro-big-hair-rock going through your head..
You can here the synth now can't you? 
But I'm not talking about Euro rock cheese today, oh no..
(If we wanted to get really cheesy I could mention "Wind of Change" by the Scorpions, but I won't, but now that I've not mentioned it can you hear an echoed whistling in the back of your mind..?)

No we're on countdown to quitting.

Today, in fact..

Yes, it's finally quitting time (17 months ahead of the Government ban too)
I have 3 cigarettes left, and I must admit I'm not enjoying them at the moment as I still have a cold, but I'm going to see this smoking lark through to the end..

Wish me luck, this is probably going to get messy

Tuesday, February 14

Bloomin' Marvellous

It's amazing.. just one little delivery from Interflora and suddenly I can visit Anfield twice in the same week (including tonight.. i.e. go to the footy on Valentine's Day) and still be in the good books.
Marvellous indeed!

Up In Smoke

Smoking appears to be a hot topic in the news at the moment, and it all seems to be quite fitting really, seeing as I am now down to my last pack of Marlboro Lights and am facing the prospect of quitting imminently.  It's not often you can tie personal experience with topical current affairs, is it?

So the Government (obviously bricking themselves after recent high-profile defeats in the commons) have decided to allow a free vote on whether smoking should either be:

a) totally banned in all pubs and private members' clubs.
b) banned in licensed premises except non-food-serving pubs and private members' clubs
c) banned in all premises except private members' clubs.

The free vote means that Members of Parliament will not have to "toe the party line" but can vote how the see fit on the issue.. erm, I mean vote in line with how their constituents who voted them into power wish to see the vote going, of course.

Now, as I get ready to face life as a non-smoker you might think that I'm in favour of the total ban option.  I have quit before (longest time to date: nine months!) and I do remember how yucky it used to be when you got home from the pub and everything you'd worn that night stank of smoke (see, as a smoker, you cannot smell this at all.  One for the smokers, I reckon!).  So I can sympathise with the non-smokers somewhat (although not with all of the people they interviewed on the news this morning, some of whom seemed to be Anti-Smoking Nazis, who not only wanted smoking banned, but also want Smokers hung, drawn, quartered and then the body parts fed to hungry rats).  Plus I also know how difficult it can be, in the first few weeks of quitting, to be out in a smoky pub with temptation all around you (many previous attempts to quit has come undone on a Friday night once the second beer has been supped).

However, you've got to wonder how far this "nanny state" is going to go.  Okay, so you ban smoking in restaurants and pubs that serve food, well no-one like people smoking whilst they eat, but every pub except private members' clubs? 

Hmm... so you're going to allow people to quite happily binge drink themselves to the point where they need a new liver for twenty four hours a day, but heaven forbid anyone should light up a cigarette?  Doesn't this all seem a tad hypocritical to anyone?  And in a time where obesity is killing more than cigarettes I don't see anyone rushing to ban the selling of kebabs to obviously overweight intoxicated punters who eventually fall out of the pubs and clubs after a two-day extended binge-drinking orgy either!

They're an easy target, the smokers, you see..

I wonder who'll be next?

The binge-drinkers?
The partakers of the "Go-Large for 30p" Value Meal from McDonalds?

Don't forget when they ban your particular vice, they'll be doing it with a smiley face, all the time telling you that it's for the good of your health and the health of the nation..

So when you're drinking your glass of wheatgrass and nibbling on a piece of Soya in the new trendy "Salad Bar" on a Friday night years from now, anorexic and sober, don't forget where the rot started..

Jesus, I'm tetchy today.. wonder what I'll be like without nicotine at the end of the week.. tune in later to find out more!


Thursday, February 9

Dead Celebs

Ever sat there, perhaps on a long winter evening, wondering "Just how old would Kurt Cobain be if he was still alive today?".

No, me neither..

But that didn't stop me finding the Dead Celebrity Birthday Counter quite an interesting (if a little macabre) read. Not only tells you how old the celeb would be if they were walking about today (Although at 98 years I wonder just how much walking William Hartnell would actually be doing), how long ago they died, and what they died of (look out for the words overdose.. it's everywhere!).

Anyway it kills five minutes..

Also.. as an update, and in response to a comment left on my previous entry (See I do read them -Ed)"eBay killed the Car Boot sale", I had a quick sniff round Google to see if I could find such a company (I am that lazy, I'm afraid). However they all seem a bit London-centric (well Auctioning4u and StuffUSell did anyway) and as a result will charge at least £25 to come and collect your stuff before they take a further 33% of the selling price achieved on your stuff on an eBay auction.
There is a definite opportunity for some Northern people to make a killing here as there is a definite gap in the market North of Watford. So please, somebody open a similar business for lazy people with an abundence of tat to sell on eBay based in the North West. I'll be your first customer if you do..

Wednesday, February 8

eBay killed the Car Boot Sale

One of the annoying aspects of the rising success of eBay, is the fact that it has effectively killed off the Car Boot Sale.  I'm not kidding.  Pick up your local free paper sometime.  Normally I pick it up just long enough to remove it from the doormat and deposit it in the bin, and I'd imagine you do the same, but next time actually open it and you'll see that, whereas once it seemed that every local farmer and owner of a large car park had placed an ad announcing that they were throwing open their gates to make a few quid on hosting a Car Boot, now those adverts have all gone.  Disappeared.  Lost forever.

Not that I am advocating the practice of getting up (usually unnaturally early, "to get the bargains") on a weekend and trudging to a muddy field to gawp at an endless amount of stalls filled with tatty china figurines - hell, no.  No, regular visitors to Car Boots are most definitely a danger to national security and their local community, as they are quite clearly utterly bonkers. 

However, despite the fact that you probably had to haggle with these nutters ("Oh come on mate, it's only 50p, stop being such a tight-arse.  Are you going to buy it or not"), which does mean talking to them and looking at them without staring (which cannot be easy).  The car boot surely must have been a great way to get rid of a lot of your unwanted stuff in a single day.  Would you reach the wider market that eBay opens up to you?  Definitely not.  So would you make as much profit as you would if you sold your tat via an online auction?  Very doubtful indeed. 

But.. there are limits to how useful eBay can be..
No, really there are..
I have a spare room that needs emptying of a heck of a lot of stuff.. old books (some in pristine condition due to the fact that I quite often used to go on massive spending spree's in Waterstones (Damn their tempting 3 for 2 offers) but would never actually quite get round to reading all of my purchases), old CDs, old games consoles, etc, etc.. Now listing each one of these items on eBay would, quite frankly, be a pain in the arse.. not to mention the fact that I'd then have to keep an eye on when all of these auctions finished, no doubt have to trudge down to my bank to pay in cheques 'cos some inconsiderate bastards out there still refuse to use PayPal (and I've not been inside my branch for over 12 months now, and that's a habit I don't really care to change), then get jiffy bags, write on jiffy bags, and then carry jiffy bags to post office to ship jiffy bags to winning bidders..

All in all, a massive faff.. 
There's also the fact that a person would buy, say, a second hand book at a boot sale even if it is a little dog-eared and the spine's a bit bent.  As long as it closely resembles a book and the final page, where the killer is revealed in dramatic circumstances, is not missing then it's fair game.  But in online auctions expectations about the condition of second hand items are frigging ridiculous.  Unless the item has been vacuum sealed from the moment of purchase, and was only purchased by using tongs to carry the item to the cashier so that it was untouched by human hands at any point during the transaction, people won't even bother to click on the item you're selling. 

Arrgghh - nightmare.
So unless someone can come up with a third option I am currently stuck with a room full of stuff that I am too attached to to just skip, but cannot be attached to enough to keep.  If anyone has an ideas as to what the third option could be (an option which would, preferably, still see me with a couple of quid in my back pocket - still have marriage to pay for and baby on the way), then I'd be very, very interested to hear it.


Tuesday, February 7

IT's time for a Change

Hopefully this will be my final year working in the IT industry.

It is not lightly that I consider turning my back on a role and an industry that has done right be me for a decade.  I am not overlooking the fact the this sector of the job market has provided me with a home, a car, and the money to afford too many hangovers to count.  It's just time for a change.

It might be easy to dismiss my desire to get out of IT as coming about as a direct result of the fact that I am stuck in yet another bug-fixing phase, with issues stretching out in front of me as far as the eye can see.  Anyone who's been there can probably sympathise with what a soul-destroying, long winded process that can be, the true shitty end of the waterfall process. 

(Despite what anyone else might say to the contrary here, we are still falling down the waterfall with our current software development..  Have you ever seen the end of the waterfall?  It's chaotic.  A churning, turbulent chaos as the falling water hits the bottom, an image that quite aptly fits the headless-chicken approach to testing and issue fixing most software projects go through in the final weeks and months)

But I can honestly say that even the thought of some new spangly innovative project employing fantastic technology X and CV-enhancing language Y fails to inspire either. 

It might be easy to point at the fact that, for the third year running (possibly fifth actually, if memory serves), the powers-that-be are looking to define, or is that redefine(?), our software development process again.  The days when I used to be quite enthused about this sort of discussion have long since passed, as each process presented seems to have little with improving the quality of the actual software being developed, but is more concerned with having a detailed audit employed only to cover one's arse when the inevitable blame game begins in the post-development review (after the software failed to impress due to lack of quality processes being in place - d'uh!).

Another easy thing to blame might be the "glass ceiling" effect..
It would appear that lead developers (well, those that actually have a technical role and are not glorified Microsoft Word/Excel users who spend too much time in meetings) are never promoted from within the company. 

"Architects" (i.e. those annoying wankers who use the word "architect" as a verb when it is quite clearly a noun) invent themselves into the role when they are filthy money-grabbing contractors.  They then bombard dim-witted Software Companies with their CV and so fooled and impressed are Software Development managers by the title "Software Architect" that they will throw an seemingly bottom-less pit full of money at these jumped up pompous charlatans.   Also, from the moment they employ them, Managers will consider everything these Architects say as Gospel and anything that long-suffering developers who actually know the software as utter bollocks.  So unless you want to spend your entire life in pointless meeting (quite often about process, see above) or writing documents that will never be read in Microsoft Word, your career advancement is about zero.

But the truth of it is it's all of the above and a whole lot more that's making me think that I want a change in direction in my career.  If all goes to plan by mid-2007 a new career should be supplying me with my disposable income and looking after me and mine..  ..and it cannot come soon enough.