Where the heck have I been?

That really is the question, isn’t it. Why have I been largely absent from WordPress, Google+ and Twitter for several months and, perhaps more importantly, what changes have I made to my life to prevent this from happening again in the future?

There are three reasons for my dismal level of social media interaction over recent months:

  • A lack of personal organisation

  • Suffering from ‘flu for the first few months of the year

  • The recent demise of my ageing budget laptop

All of us are given twenty four hours every day. Whilst some people use the time to create business empires or to be active within civil rights pressure groups, I was somehow struggling to even find time to vacuum the car on a regular basis. So, come October when I needed to find extra time for some studying on top of the tasks I was already failing to fulfil, I put myself under unnecessary pressure.

Jerry Harrison: Casual Gods - Casual Gods
Even Amazon struggled. They took six weeks to deliver my Jerry Harrison: Casual Gods CD

I needed to organise my time much better. After a lot of soul searching, I have (in theory) managed to find the necessary time to do everything. I listed everything that I need to achieve and now have time slots for all necessary tasks during the week. It means that WordPress and Google+ will get my attention on a Saturday, around the time that I back up my computer files to my external hard drive (I also sync to an online encrypted cloud account). I’ll delve into the Twitter account whenever I get a few moments during the working week.

Last year my health was great right up until November when I started to catch every cold or bug that was doing its rounds. Boxing Day was when I succumbed to one of the strains of ‘flu that ravished Britain last winter.

I had trouble to get the help that I needed from the NHS which I am certain lengthened the time that I suffered.

I was even sent back to work too early by one doctor and within two days was back off work worse than ever and needing another course of antibiotics to treat the return of the secondary bacterial infection that for weeks had taken my left lung hostage.

I never want to go through that again.

My fruit and vegetable intake has since vastly increased and I have promised myself a ‘flu jab every year. Paying about £20 a year is a small price to sacrifice if I can avoid a repeat. I know that it isn’t likely that I will catch ‘flu every year but avoiding one future battle with that virus is something I am desperate for.

I need to lose some weight again now. After the ‘flu went, I started eating more and exercising less; but I have started to turn this around.

And finally, my ageing budget laptop had become increasingly temperamental over recent months. (Can laptops catch ‘flu?) Eventually, a fortnight ago with two study assignments due within days, it stopped effective service. It logs in but stops working within about fifteen minutes. I could get it fixed no doubt but it looks to be a three figure sum repair bill, so a new machine became a reasonable option.

Anyway, I mentioned that I started studying and any delay would prevent submitting my final assignments whose deadlines were only days away.

I bought a cheap Windows laptop for immediate use and this will become my wife’s main laptop in the next few weeks. Gloria’s been after her own laptop for quite a while and so is looking forward to sole use of the PC. This will be her’s on receipt of the much beefier laptop I have treated myself to, which will come with Ubuntu-Mate installed as the operating system. Man, am I looking forward to that.

(Incidentally, I found that my old laptop running Ubuntu worked better at connecting to Adobe Connect rooms than some of my fellow students’ Windows machines when attending online study meetings. Linux is more software friendly than you may think.)

So, there were three reasons that affected my output to which I have sourced three solutions: planning how I will use my time better, an annual ‘flu jab and a new (as yet undelivered) Ubuntu-Mate laptop which should last me a decade or more with careful use.

I just hope no-one cursed me too much these last few months whilst I was mostly absent…or, maybe, these events were due to someone’s curse on me.

Innovation at work

Did I mention before that I work in IT, installing software for a Multi-National company? If I haven’t already mentioned it…well, I just have.

The office desk of the innovation director - complete with 1990s floppy discs
The office desk of the innovation director – complete with 1990s floppy discs

In the corner of our larger shared office is the Innovation Director’s office. It’s his job to develop the cutting edge ideas for the company to take forward into the future. So, it was with great amusement today that we looked through his door and found a stack of floppy discs on the side of his desk.

Close up of the floppy discs
Close up of the floppy discs

I still have a zip drive and zip discs under the bed or elsewhere in the house. Maybe I’ll take them into work tomorrow and convince him that they’re the next big thing which will kill off floppy discs. He might not have heard that prior to CDs, zip discs were doing just that! I wonder if he has any punch cards…

In all seriousness, I think he is doing a review of all of the old ideas within the company to see if anything from years before can be successfully re-visited now that the world has changed.

It is amazing how some things can be abandoned one year and then come back into fashion at a later date.

Staying in the field of IT, I enjoyed the return of old PC games on the Wayback Machine site. Those games coming back to be played sure made for a great revival.

Until then, the only great revival that I enjoyed was revisiting an aged bottle of single malt whisky!

Boy, me talking a lot of IT will reinforce the perception that some people have always had of me. Before I’d even seen an episode, people would compare me to Maurice Moss from the IT Crowd.

Harry...er, I mean Maurice Moss from the IT Crowd
Harry…er, I mean Maurice Moss from the IT Crowd

I think that there are worse people to be compared with than Richard Ayoade, so I was never offended.

Tomorrow – and for this I should thank the internet and the nature of my job – I will be connecting to my desk computer from home when I start work in the morning.  That will confuse everyone else in the office when they see me replying to internal emails but not answering my desk telephone.

Why am I starting work from home, you might ask?  Actually, you might not be too bothered why but I’m going to tell you anyway.  We have a workman coming to our house tomorrow morning and the only promise I could get was that he will be here by 12:30pm.

Maybe, I should cut a wedge into the side of my hair and say that my name is Maurice Moss.  Will he get the joke?

Late night at work – and still no mini cocktail bar

Yesterday for me was a really annoying day at work.

A La Oficina Anoche
Man, I need to go home

I won’t bore everyone with the details so I’ll just throw out one phrase that I don’t want to see again when I’m the only one left working in the office late at night – “You can only specify the READPAST lock in the READ COMMITTED or REPEATABLE READ isolation levels”

In case any SQL experts are passing…no, I don’t need any help with this now.

Where the heck were you last night when I did need you?

It was several months ago that I told the Operations Director and the Customer Services Manager that I would work better if there was a mini cocktail bar behind my desk.

There’s enough space between my chair and the window for one.  I suppose that the reason that my request has never been fulfilled is that they’re worried that I’d never go home; but I definitely would.

A mini bar like this one will help me at work
A mini bar like this one will help me at work

If I stayed in the office I might end up doing a lot more work than I’m paid to do.

The cleaners were vacuuming around me at 8 o’clock and I was nowhere near finished.  ‘Oh well, I’m locking the building and setting the alarm again,’ I thought (like most evenings).

One of the cleaners said to me that I must really love my job.  “I wouldn’t be working at this time.”

“You’re here!” I pointed out to him.

I was prepared for yesterday being a late one, but Señora SQL Replication (actually, she probably isn’t Spanish) added an hour or two onto my anticipated workday.  I’d cooked my tea the night before of lamb chops, boiled new potatoes and peas and came home to add a couple of slices of bread and two fried eggs.  And when I did get to finally eat it, I had started to feel quite hungry and the plate failed to satisfy.  I ended up eating too many biscuits with my evening RedBush tea.

Oh well, I managed to leave early today after speaking to the Senior Project Manager.  I wonder who’s locking up the office tonight?  Actually, I’m not really that bothered.