London Perl Workshop 2007

This year Matt, Mark, Chris and Leigh were set to attend to represent Shadowcat and to give talks, demonstrations and to give out sponsorship items. Due to unavoidable complications Chris was unable to attend at the last minute but Matt, Mark and Leigh trolled along.


Yet again we were back in the University of Westminster, Cavendish Campus for the LPW 2007, and once again Shadowcat were sponsoring part of the event. This year we were asked by Greg to provide some bottles of malt whisky (and a few SCSYS merchandise like the limited edition t-shirt) for some of the volunteers who help to make the LPW a successful event.


The day started off in an almost usual manner with us not making enough allowance for transportation and turning up slightly late at the venue. thankfully we weren't the only ones and we managed to creep into the lecture theatre with the main talks having only started five minutes previously.
Matt did his Database Haters Anonymous talk, this time the technical challenge we had set ourselves this time was a new laptop (I don't know why but every time we do this we add a technical complication such as visual presentation, new laptops or untired distros, actuaslly I do know why, we're techies, we like to play with technology). The Laptop was only 'partially' Debian enabled (in that it had only been installed a day before and was not tweaked enough to have the correct settings for Matt – didn't even have his favourite x session) and whose Vista install seemed intent on slowing the computer to a near crawl.


The talk though didn't suffer at all from that so Matt started pretty much on time and this seemed to be to his disadvantage as he lost some of the momentum from Vienna (Matt gave the Database Haters talk in Vienna to a near raptuous crowd, he started really late and then spurred on by having to rush produced a funny and passionate delivery). The Catalyst talk was his usual mix on the Beautiful and Unique Snowflakes theme and this went down well and actually benefited from him doing it a few times before even if he overran in the shortened time slot.


The live build an API seemed to go like a souffle in a cupboard and was full of fluff. It was always going to fail spectacularly, but it didn't quite do that instead it gracefully fell over, if it were to be done again there would have to be some kind of conditions set upon it so that it failed in a nicer or more explosive manner. Matt did get some functionality though so at least showed his competency ;).
Once more the laptop gained notoriety with people asking Leigh about her pink cover and asking me if I had painted mine red.
The evening of the day ended in typical fashion at the public house, some of the sponsors had paid for a round of drinks and finger food for the attendees at the George and Dragon near to Warren Street station. After this we went to a sushi and karoke bar wth Greg who had just been made the new leader of the London PM group.


Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Nan knows Rhino::Win

Well I would type 50,000 words,
and I would type 50,000 more
Just to be the man who typed 50,000 words
in November, am I a bore?

I did it, I not only passed the required 50K words for nanorwrimo (National Novel Writing Month) but I also managed to finish the novel I was writing. This is an achievement for me as in 2005 I sailed past the 50K mark but didn't finish the novel I was writing, it still sits unfinished on my hard drive and 2006 started well with 23K in the first two days of November and then I stopped and totally failed to finish (that story got heavily complex really quickly and is probably going to be 300,000 words if I ever complete it). This year though I finished Nano and I finished the story I was writing for nano, so I feel very pleased and possibly a little smug.


Ah well, now to edit the entire thing. Blurgh.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

And the moral in this story is?

I learned something today, and that is an important statement as you know it is important to learn something new each day. It is only by learning new things that we can ever seek to grow or develop as individuals. What I learned was that glove sizes are the same in all countries. Which considering the different sizes of clothes and shoes is quite surprising and very useful if you are heading somewhere cold.

Though I suppose you would just try them on anyway as they are gloves, it's not like shop-testing your underwear or something.

So I guess the thing I learned is a small bit of pointless trivia that can be filed away in my head next to emergency numbers in the hope that one day my addled brain will recall that rather than the names of the people I love.

"How are you today?"
"Thursday, your glove is the same size in Australia," giggle, gurgle, drool.

You know I really am going to have to give up playing the mandolin, sliced the ends of my fingers to ribbons, whose bloody idea was it to compose songs for kitchen equipment.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Nan Knows Rhino

National Novel Writing month is upon us, in fact Nano is already a good 7 days in, the challenge is to write a mere 50 thousand words in a single month in some form of novel format. Many people enter this fine competition, some even finish on the first day. Me I tend to take about a month.

Go here: National Novel Writing Month

This year i seem to have mad ea good start I am already topping 29,000 words and I know roughly where my story is heading, and it isn't the toilet (yet) I have some characters, bit of a plot, and they seem to be wandering into fun and laughter and random silliness (Space Monkeys).

The best thing of all is that I have already written the ending to this and so therefore have a direction to head towards.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

QotD: Makin’ Babies

Who was the first person to give you info — correct or not — on how to "make babies"? 
Submitted by Manon-It-All.

My mother. She told me that I was found under a Mulberry Bush, which is odd as i could never find any Mulberry bushes growing anywhere near where I lived. Yes, I was a sad child who scoured the countryside looking for mulberry Bushes to see where the babies were.

Now I am old and know different….especially about bushes ;p

It isn't just Mulberry bushes, it's also privets

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

QotD: My Thoughts on Prenups

Would you sign a prenuptial agreement? Why or why not?
Submitted by Lantastic

Okay before i answer this question and set myself up for the inevitable disagreements to my stance (I doubt that everyone will agree with me and I often don't agree with myself, I like to think I am able to be persuaded) I want to go on record as saying that the whole thing is very silly as no answer could cover this very huge question as each case would be context specific. So any conversation around it, any response to it, is also silly as it cannot fully encompse the argument or the individual aspects associated with it…

That being said…

I guess I am an old fashioned boy at heart. Not old fashioned that I think a woman's place is by the side of her man, or in the home, or whatever. I am old fashioned in that I think that when you make a promise, you keep it. So I recently got married, and never intend to get a divorce as I promised to love my wife and to stand by her.

I would like to believe that we will have a Disney marriage, forever in love, forever devoted, forever true and never have any disagreements and all that, but I am a little more pragmatic and realise that marriages are not like that. They are full of challenges and conditions, they have their ups and downs. I do, however, remember my promise to stand by my partner, and I hope that if ever I need reminding of that promise I am a strong enough person to honour it. Otherwise I should have NEVER made the promise in the first place.

So a pre-nuptial agreement would kind of indicate that I didn't believe in that promise.

Now I can see a problem with my argument. What about my wife. She also made the same promise, and I know she loves me. She is a very honest person and I trust her word implicitly. But say some event were to take place and she did leave me…

(and I am on purpose hypothesising leaving not losing as that is a road I do not ever wish to contemplate)

Say I had the kids…

(I know this is a reverse to most (not all, many single fathers do exist) situations but bear with me, gender really isn't important to the thrust of this reasoning, and I am talking for myself)

Say I needed her to give me money to support the kids? Say I needed half the belongings that she now has. What do i do. Well i guess I would have to sue her for them. Not an ideal solution I know, but the only one I would contemplate as I still believe in the promise, and if the promise was broken then no amount of fiscal reward from a perceived sense of fairness and share would replace that loss.

Basically the breaking of the promise cannot EVER be replaced in any manner. So again for me I would gain nothing from the pre-nuptial agreement.

Okay, so time to think of other people.

CZJ married MD and they had this huge pre-nuptial agreement. from what I recall they are only entitled to X amount of each others wealth and X amount for each possible offspring from their union. This seemingly cold approach was to protect them due to the high risk of divorce for their particular sway of marriage (celebrity), and also because of the disproportionate difference in their income. I guess it was also because most people thought it very suspect that pretty-young-thangs marry incomprehensibly-older-wrinkly for anything other than the cash refund.

But isn't that also soulless. I'm sorry but by this reasoning if I was CZJ I would either:

a. Be actually after the security and pleasure gained from marrying a rich dude.

b. Be waiting for the wrinkly fecker to croak


c. Be enormously insulted that he thought I could be either reason a or reason b.

There are more possible reasons, but I don't want to belabour a point or become to graphic or rude. The fact still remains that my new husband, and his lawyers, don't trust my word.

Now I guess I am just an old fashioned boy, like Proctor "you cannot have my name" but if I give it I will not have it taken away for a small thing such as incredible wealth.

Now I am not doing the Beatles and claiming that "money can't buy me love" or that it can't buy happiness (though it does however but a better class of misery), as for some people reason (a) and (b) buys a heck of a lot of love. In fact a couple of hundred million will buy you many things. But the way I see it is all it bought you from the person you actually may love is a profound sense of distrust in their reasoning and a wish to protect an irrational item (i.e. fiscal wealth). I find it insulting and if I were placed in a position where my words of fidelity, honesty and a promise were diluted by my life-partner's mistrust and insistence on arrangements for when the marriage ends. Then what value has that marriage got anyway?

You should NOT marry unless you intend to be with that person, and if your marriage ends then half of your fiscal wealth is nothing in comparison to the loss of that.

This does not mean I don't believe in divorce. My mother divorced twice and for each time she did I was glad for her. But, had she been incredibly wealthy then I would not blame them for taking half her wealth (I might despise and begrudge it, but not blame).

Man and wife are as one. One union. One marriage. One wealth.

But, since it is only money and it isn't mine I don't really care about other people's pre-nuptial agreements. They can do with their life and their wealth what they see fit and what they consider to be best, even if I believe it does make them incredibly shallow. 🙂


Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Myth-ing Time

There is a general myth about time and it has been remarked on at great length but I thought I'd throw in my tuppennies (two pennies) worth for good measure.

*The Average:
Ten men take 40 hours each to dig a hole, therefore the hole takes approximately 400 man hours to dig

*The Pros:
Three strapping professional diggers take 65 hours each to dig the same hole, ergo the hole is 195-400 man hours deep

*The Managed Team:
Sixty managers take 15 meetings of 2hrs, 60 consulatncy sessions of 1 hour, 18 business lunches of 3hrs and a trade review lasting 20 weeks by 6 men at 30hrs a week to decide to dig the hole, which is 3744 hours, they then appoint Twenty men to work 45hrs, taking 900hrs making the job 4644hrs. Ergo the hole is now between 195-4644 man hours deep

*The Machine Solution:
A machine manufacturer build a digger that takes 1hr to dig the hole. the official specs state that it does approximately 250 man hours per hour, the marketing promotion claims that is does 3000+ man hours per hour saving you the job of employing 3000 people. A company buys the digger, sacks its 3000 professional diggers and gets 6 months behind on its projects in the first 2 weeks.

I was talking to a couple of friends about the number of hours I had worked one day, and he was comparing it to the numbers of hours he worked in a general week, you know this type of conversation and you know where it goes and how it leads to a general pissing contest with each stating how much longer, or harder, they have to work.

Me: Wow I had a seventeen hour day yesterday as I absolutely had to get that work done.
Friend #1: That's nothing I had to work seventy-five hours last week and I will most likely do the same this week.
Friend #2: Yeah, well me and him (he indicates #3) had to do a thirty hour shift to move some server code.
Friend #3: And we stayed up all day after that to wind down and chat
Me: Well I have done a thirty-four hour shift
Friend #1: I had to work for three months at sixteen hour days without a break

(And as we strayed into Monty Python territory)

Friend #3: That's nothing I once had to do one hundred hour weeks when I was Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990.
Friend #2: That's nothing, I was once trapped in a Chinese brick works where I worked for sixteen years at twenty hours a day on a stale crust and a cup of water each week.
Me: Luxury, I had to single handedly build the great pyramids at Giza….

Now this particular conversation is in fact fictional (well except for the bit about the pyramids), but I am sure that you recognise it. We have come to place a value not on what we do at work, but on how long we are physically doing it.

I began to think about this in the light of my office. Primarily there are three of us who work out of the same office, and it is a moot point to some of the people I talk to how much we actually do work out of it as our office hours are a little odd.

There is no imposed regime for times, I generally work nine to five at the office and then at home on some evenings, early mornings and weekends. My companions will work twenty-hour shifts, or do three days at eleven hours each day and then work a Saturday/Sunday at home. Sometimes they will work for two days solid and not leave the office at all. On occasion, and it does happen, so do I. We don't impose a flexi-time or a standard work time, we work to what we find comfortable and effective for ourselves and our lifestyle. This has caused friction in the past, both internally and externally (clients) as there is no set regime for contact and reciprocation, but once you settle into it, the system works very well.

For instance most offices on a diet of 9-5 – mon-fri, may have a regular time for contact but what do you do if you are out of those hours and need someone, what do you do if you are in a different time zone? We have found that because we all work different hours and times of the day, and because we all work on different days of the week, with Sunday being about the only day when we try not to work, we generally cover seventeen-eighteen hours of each day from Mon-Saturday. Many of our clients are between 6-9hrs displaced from us, so this works really well for them, but we would do it if our clients were in the same time zone. The basic point is that we can be contacted (usually in a text manner) at most times of the day and someone will usually reply within a hour or two. It may not always be the person you needed but it will be someone who can take a message and pass it on.

This flexible working also leads to a much more comfortable working environment. We don't usually feel pressured to come into work at a certain time. As long as the work is done and the clients are happy we generally don't mind. This means we are rarely involved in the general exodus of frustration that is the rush hour traffic. It also means that we have all become comfortable about the amount of work each person can be considered to be doing at any one time. Like the mythical man hours above we can vary between the professional diggers and the managed team without much concern as to what the others think as we have come to accept that this is a part of a normal working lifestyle. No one runs at the pace of the professional worker all the time without burning themselves to a crisp, and many of us know that in our working life we often stray into the managed team with surprising ease.

So, aside from industries where regular working hours and shifts are essential (it would be crap if everyone at your local A&E decided not to come into work on a Monday morning) the flexible time based approach does work. In a larger organisation it should be possible to use flexible schedules to allow 24hr coverage yet still give staff flexible working hours. It is not beyond the realms of reason to imagine that people would like to occasionally arrive at lunch time or leave at midnight, most staff would stick to a general routine as that's how their lives are composed. What I have found it brings is a greater devotion to work when you set your time to do it. So I may arrive late one day and finish early, but when I am there I dig that hole in 200hrs, and for the weeks where i trudge through my nine to five routine as a lesson to prove it can be done, well for those times I set up meetings, business lunches and consultations on hours worked and goals achieved to ensure tht i dig that hole in the time I have allotted for it 😉



Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Vintage QotD: Here Comes The Bride

What was the last wedding you went to?  Were you in the wedding?

Hmmm, gosh, hard, well I married Satrkitten in July of this year and that was the last wedding I went to. I was the groom, which placed me almost to the centre, welll a little-right of the centre-of-the-occasion (and attraction, universe, equation, whatever).

So you can see the images I posted to the wedding photo section or look below 😛

Wedding - Photographer_s Pictures - 9
Wedding - Photographer_s Pictures - 22

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

So why no note

So, I haven't blogged much lately, or at all. Generally it is because of an increased level of work and organisation created from getting married in a few days time.
And right at this moment all I can actually think of is all the things that I need to finish before the big day, which isn't entirely inspiring me to wrtie anything at all.
Anyway, I did feel that the lack of blogging was sad and that I should write something and that then I developed massive writing block and couldn't actually work out what exactly I was doing and why i was typing. In fact this just turned into a long series of murbles from a man who has totally lost his brain.


Read and post comments | Send to a friend