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Archive for March, 2010

Working 7 days a week down ‘pit’

coal-covered cat

This is what a normally pristine clean cat looks like after emerging from someone’s coal shed… probably ours.

I was just sitting catching up on Facebook when in she walked looking like she’d been down a mine (photo on the left).

Right now she’s off cleaning Normal clean looksomewhere – I hope not on a bed!  Meanwhile her offspring seems have recovered remarkably from having his bits removed at the vets this week!

Rosie’s normal clean look is seen on the photo on the right…

Early Sunday Morning in Aberdeen

Amusements in Aberdeen

It’s a lovely Sunday morning here in Aberdeen at the seafront. The FSB’s conference which I’ve been working on since Tuesday is now all done and dusted, is all done. It would all have gone without a hitch had it not been for some idiot turning the electricity off at the last minute, losing hours of valuable time for our IT support guys.

Conference is always a great time, meeting people you’ve not seen for a year or more, the political wrangling, new places to visit, new technologies to try out. I’ve spent the past few days struggling with my new Dell Studio XPS laptop which has been acting up and new video software as I put myself in charge of “voxpops” which means processing vast amounts of video data for just a few moments of results. The whole thing has been interesting and at times, quite exciting.

My last duty last night after dinner (something like 700 attendees) was to announce, along with our recruitment chairman and a very enthusiastic staff member the results of a competition for the best interviewee (we had a roving cameraman along with said staff member doing interviews throughout the event, asking members their views on a range of subjects). Even that had it’s political elements as the outgoing secretary amazingly managed to call the staff member up on stage while totally ignoring the fact that myself and the recruitment guy were a key part of the presentation. Fortunately between us we expertly rescued the situation and I got up on the platform with the mic for a few short minutes, which in itself was a nice end to the occasion.

Amazing car in AberdeenHard work, hard play and non-stop for days on end… This morning it all seems different, everything is very quiet, the sun is up already and it’s boding well for a quiet morning driving home. Next week we start afresh, new senior executives, no doubt new ways of doing some things, but life moves on and I’m sure I’ll enjoy every minute of the changes… not so for some folk who’ll now be considering retirement as the job they’ve done for years and years suddenly disappears from view.

And now a quiet breakfast, possibly a trip to the seafront – and then we start the long drive home. If the conference is of any interest, visit the website or even the mobile version.

Another fine weekend in Aberdeen

image For most folk, the FSB conference in Aberdeen was a 3-day affair beginning with the AGM on Thursday night followed by 2 days of motions, talks and entertainment.

For those of us in at the deep end it was more like a week. I arrived after a 4.5 hour drive on Tuesday night and am heading off tomorrow. Maureen joined us last night. (That’s Lorraine Kelly on the left incidentally – during one of my few excursions down to the exhibition hall).

Most folk have no idea the amount of work that we put into these exhibitions – but lets suffice it to say the raw materials come to thousands of photos, 30+ GIGABYTES of video, many thousands of lines of reporting – and a lot of running around, getting stressed and most importantly – having fun.  Leading the whole thing I had tremendous support from my head of Systems and Data Ian Martin, from the teams at SoftwerX and DRP and from Melanie-Jane and Michelle Almond.  More later…

Makeup and other forms of mind control?

I just happened to be listening to a show on Radio 4 this morning in the car… all about how men handle makeup – not wearing it but in respect to their women. Two guys who were quite obviously not that keen on excessive use of makeup were non-the-less concerned that they felt they really could not contribute much when a female member of their family said “what do I look like” – as they felt they were onto a loser no matter what they said.

The interviewer asked how they’d handle it if their teenage daughter was over-caked in makeup – would they comment? No was the reply, it might be insulting – so the only time they’d comment was to say how GOOD the person looked.

The conversation then went on to what about kids – surely the fellow’s 5-year old was not trying to impress women OR men while putting on mum’s makeup… and of course they’re not – they are simply keen to emulate adults. I’m not personally a believer in the “blank slate” idea of kids, I believe a LOT of their temperament comes from genetics, but there can be no doubt that kids listen to and watch adults and emulate them – almost without thinking…

And that brings me to the BENEFITS of makeup – or not?  Have you ever noticed that most adult men look WAY better in the skin department than women when put side by side without makeup!  But have you ALSO noticed that male adult ACTORS generally look AWFUL without makeup?  Could it be (and I’d hate to start a row here) that long-term use of makeup actually DAMAGES SKIN and by it’s very use makes itself essential – to the benefit of the massive companies set up to supply this stuff in the first place?

I think there is a wider point here… I look at beautiful women like Charlize Theron and wonder WHY ON EARTH she does those ads covered in gold car paint… she looks AWFUL and yet here is a woman who without ANY facepaint looks superb.

50% of the population spends every day of their lives in front of a mirror covering themselves in plastic – because they’re copying the generation before them – just as WELL over half of the world’s population believe in invisible gods of one form or another, without a shred of proof or even any hints of their chosen god being real, because they were, in the main brought up to believe… they are to a large extent merely copying their parents.   In World War 2, large numbers of small children were drafted by the Germans to shoot to kill, despite being FAR too young to understand the moral implications…

Which brings me to the point… isn’t it about time we started to be a LOT more careful about WHAT we encourage our kids to do – about what we teach them and about what we let them see on TV? They are our future after all  -and much as they may as adults go their own way, once indoctrinated as young kids, it’s very hard to change in later life.

Feed the Poor

According to the press “Internet access remains an unaffordable option for many in the Commonwealth, leaving them unable to reap the benefits of the web, according to the Queen”

The Queen has said that the Internet remains unaffordable for too many people in the Commonwealth.

For HEAVENS SAKE – what with our misguided government wanting to give computers (at cost to taxpayers) to every NON-taxpayer, even though many DON’T ACTUALLY WANT to use the Internet and now we have the QUEEN wanting to help the rest of the commonwealth.

We’re in the middle of the worst recession in living memory, businesses are going bust left-right and centre and we want to make sure everyone has the Internet forced down their throat… why stop at the commonwealth, why now just TAX US TO DEATH so the whole WORLD can have a computer courtesy of the BRITS- then there’ll be even MORE people trying to HACK it to bits in their spare time!

Apparently of those people who don’t currently use the Internet, 71 per cent thought that they should have the right to access it.

Well, they WOULD, WOULDN’T they. I don’t have an APPLE TABLET and I WANT ONE so maybe some other shmuck should buy me one – that’s sounds good to me – does it sound good to you?

As someone interested in technology, by that way of thinking I should have a RIGHT to get all the latest gadgets for FREE, paid for by the government no matter what the cost to taxpayers.

Give me a break.

BBC Website Cuts

Apparently “The BBC will cut spending on its website by 25 per cent and cut back on the number of webpages on the site by up to 50 per cent, it has been announced. “

That’s a shame because as a long-term SKY user I’ve always maintained that the BBC is a waste of space apart from a small number of quality programs they produce or import…. and the ONLY thing I personally find to be extremely useful – is their excellent WEBSITE.

I do hope that the cuts will be in the less important areas and that the NEWS and iPLAYER sections are left fully functional!