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Posts in Category: Stuff

Waiting for a train…

Thursday 17th September 2009

So the WordPress iPhone app has suddenly decided to work for me. I have no idea how or why it’s happened, but it’s probably best to just accept these things and move on…

I realise that I’ve somewhat gone off the boil with the htpc thing (thankyou Callan :p). I spent a few days tinkering as I was writing the entries, then had to go to Cardiff for a day and since then I’ve sorta been distracted by other stuff. Ironically, as the project started as a way to reuse an old pc, I’ve essentially ended up building a bespoke system for it. Really I need now to finish doing that, rejig Windows, then actually install it in Cardiff. Anyway, I’ll continue this in another post…

So I start back at uni next week. Well, it’s freshers week and lectures actually start a week on Monday, but you get the idea. It’s been a good year and an especially good summer. I’ve been doing a job which I enjoyed, travelled up and down the country for various reasons, spent time with various friends that I don’t generally get to see much and just generally had a good time. I’m really reluctant to go back to student life. Really i’m dreading having to motivate myself somehow. I keep telling myself to treat it like a job; get up, go to uni, spend the days working or in lectures and then go home and forget about it. If I do that I’ll enjoy it. I’m worried that I’ll do my usual trick of leave it all to the last possible minute, do crap in exams, then not be able to get a good job…

There was some point I was gonna blog about which I’ve now forgotten. Frustrating.

I think I’m gonna miss driving this year. I’m still gonna have my car, but I no longer have reason to do a few hundred miles every week. I used to really enjoy my Monday morning 6am drives to work. Driving through the dark with not much else on the roads and some good music on the stereo, it’s a really good way to relax, gather your thoughts.

I generally find driving therapeutic though. I think it’s because driving is partly automatic; you pay attention but part of what youre doing you basically don’t think about, so you take a step away from thinking about Whatever, but can still churn things over in the back of your mind until suddenly something clicks and things seem clearer.

Also, driving is really fun…

Anyway, I ceased to be waiting for a train about 10 minutes ago, and I’m worried that if I keep writing I won’t notice my stop. Also Ive basically been rambling, and I probably shouldn’t embarrass myself further by continuing…

Posted In: CarsGeekRandomStuffTechnology Tagged: | 4 Comments

Where I’m At

Thursday 27th August 2009

It’s my last day of work tomorrow. I’ve been working back in Cardiff for the last couple of months, doing the enabling works for the job I was going to start in January. I’ve had a lot more responsibility here which has been pretty cool, and in lots of ways I’d be happy to stay in work rather than go back to uni. For some reason though, having the finish line in sight makes me look forward all the more to finishing, going home and doing all the things I’ve been unable to do while I’ve been working.

I’ve had a damn good year. Probably my best since starting uni, which – while it may not augur well for the coming year – makes me think that at least I’ve picked the right profession, which is good. It’s been a fairly unsettled year, but perhaps that’s made it better. I really hate routine, so the rotation from consultancy to contracting then between sites probably helped keep my attention. Either way, it’s been enjoyable and very satisfying. I’ve got lots of good memories, especially from working on site. It’s a fairly concentrated thing, working away, because all you have to occupy your mind is work during the day (obviously) then during the evening you socialise with colleagues as well. That said, one of my favourite things about contracting is the amount of different people you meet. As the work goes on different people come on-site to do different things, and you start to work up good relationships with some of them. The interesting thing about being a site engineer is that you have to talk to everyone and get on well with them, be it company directors or general labourers out on site. You meet a good spread of people, which means that if you ever get bored it’s easy to go out and find someone to talk to…

This summer has also been extremely good. While I was working in Oxford I didn’t get much chance to see friends. During the week I was obviously away and during the weekends I was generally tired or busy doing stuff I couldn’t do during the week because I was away from home. Since I’ve been in Cardiff I’ve at least been able to catch up well with uni-friends and it’s been pretty cool, including lots of pub trips and a road trip to North Wales which was fairly awesome, even if I did get beaten at pool by a guy with 2 broken arms. Had some home-friends down to visit the other week as well, went to V with them this last weekend (absolutely awesome, which surprised me) and I’ll be home the next few weeks (well, mostly. Still have to come to Cardiff a couple of times a week for hospital appointments 8-). So I’ve had loads of chance to see all the important people (except Lucy, we need to catch up when I’m back home. And one other person who has mostly fallen through the net and You Know Who You Are ¬_¬).

I’ve been thinking about the future recently as well. I’m going into my final year, so should probably think about what to do. I have some ideas, but really it all hinges around who will actually give me a job… I have some ideas, but nothing concrete (and honestly, pun not intended). I have no real idea where I’d wanna live as well. I have a few places in mind, but again it all hinges around work. I have very little tying me down to any particular place so I think that I may as well go somewhere new. Outside of work, I have a fairly good idea of what I want. Whether that is attainable or not, however, is a different matter. Whether I throw caution to the wind and see what happens, or abandon that idea completely, is also a different matter and one I’m trying to decide upon at the moment (yes I’m lame. Shut up now).

Anyhow, on the whole, life is pretty fucking awesome. And now, I must sleep!

Posted In: SleepStuff Tagged: | 5 Comments

Epic Fail

Thursday 28th May 2009

So I’ve just been trying to write a couple of the things off the list in the last entry, but it’s not working. So instead, here’s some drivel.

I sometimes struggle with what to blog about. I’m told that I’m very opinionated, but I don’t like writing stuff like that too much because who wants to read the bollocky opinions of some twat they don’t know on the Internet? The other extreme is to keep a blog that’s basically like a diary, but then I don’t like doing that for a similar reason; who would read it? Both are silly, because I’m fairly sure that theres lots of nosy bastards on the net who do enjoy reading such stuff (I know, I’m one of ’em :D ).

I guess the main reason for not keeping a diary-esque blog is that I don’t want that sorta thing on the internet…

I used to be able to think of stuff to write down really easily, and once I thought of something I could bash something out pretty well. I think I can still think of stuff I want to write (see the list on the last entry), but for some reason I find it much harder to transfer those thoughts into a well-written blog. I think a big reason is that I’m out of practice, because I don’t blog as often any more. And I don’t blog because I’m out of practice. Yeah, that works well…

Like I said, I tried to write a couple of things this evening, but to be honest what I wrote just seemed to be a bit muddled. Maybe it’s because I’ve been at work and I’m tired, I dunno. I should probably write an essay plan or something. Or even better, write things down when I think about them!

The only thing I really feel motivated to write about regularly is motorsport. But I don’t think anyone who reads this would care, so I don’t really bother. Which is daft really…

Anyway, it’s Thursday now. Which means that the weekend starts tomorrow afternoon. I’m gonna try to write something a bit less shit at the weekend. Dunno what about, but just something. Of course, I say “try”, that doesnt mean it’ll get published. Le sigh.

Just so your time isn’t completely wasted by this entry, listen to this. Tis good.

Posted In: RandomSiteStuff Tagged: | 7 Comments

Why Don’t You Write Me?

Saturday 11th April 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything here, and even longer since I’ve written anything of any real substance. Obviously the main reason for that is work. It’s pretty long hours, and when I finish at the end of the day I’m rarely in the mood to do anything that involves too much thinking. Then the weekend is the only time I’m home, so I generally have other stuff I want/need to do then before I shoot off back to work at 6 o’clock on Monday morning…

I like writing. I especially enjoy it when I have something specific to say, a point to make. I like the whole process of working out what I’m going to say, how to say it, how to structure the thing to make the most sense, etc. It’s the same sort of pleasure I get from doing a decent bit of coursework; if I have a rough idea where I’m going with something, then I like translating that idea onto the page and I the satisfaction of the end result.

Recently there have been quite a few things that I’ve wanted blog about; generally as a result of driving a few hundred miles a week. It kinda gives you time to think. A few times I’ve actually started to write something down, but every time I’ve started to do that I’ve struggled to actually articulate what I was trying to say. A few times I’ve struggled so much with the right way to word something, that I’ve forgotten what exactly the point was that I was going to make! Frustrating, to say the least.

I was gonna write one such thing tonight, but realised that actually it’s way past my bedtime and theres no way I can make my point coherently. The reasons for writing this instead are that at least then I’ve written something, and because it might make me remember to write something better soon…

Posted In: RandomSleepStuff Tagged: | 2 Comments

The Night, Almost the Morning(?)

Monday 5th January 2009

I’ve had loads of ideas of things I want to write here recently. But unfortunately I’ve not bothered, and now when I sit down to write something out I can’t remember what the hell I was going to say. Really, it’s a lesson to not put things off too long. Or to write things down, I’m not sure which.

Anyway, it’s 2009. This is the first January for a while where I’ve not got any exams, which is pretty great. It means that since I finished work a couple of weeks ago, I’ve spent most of my time alternating between playing different games (various things on the Wii but particularly WiiSports and Tennis, Left4Dead on the PC, and lately Darwinia and Bioshock – thank you Steam January sale). Not that I probably would’ve spent my time all that differently if I did have exams, but this year it’s all guilt free…

Speaking of the games, I thought Darwinia was absolutely brilliant. It’s hard to explain what it is, so I won’t try. All I’ll say is that it’s bloody addictive, and it’s caused a fair few “oh shit, is that the time?” moments over the past few nights/mornings. Left4Dead is also rather good, but then you’d expect that from a Valve game. Bioshock has disappointed me a little, if I’m honest. I love the style of the game, the look and feel of the whole thing. But for some reason I don’t think the actual gameplay is that good; it’s not quite as compelling as other games are. It doesn’t keep me up till the early hours of the morning or make me say to myself “I’ll just finish this one thing, then I’ll go”. I’m not sure why exactly.

Anyway, 2008 was pretty good, all told. Probably could’ve been better, but it was certainly better than 2007. That said, like (I guess) most students years really start and end for me at the end of Sept/start of Oct, so the “proper” new year isn’t quite such a new start.

Uhm, I cant think of anything else to write. Thats a bit poor really. Le Sigh.

Posted In: GeekRandomSleepStuff Tagged: | 2 Comments

Simple Twist of Fate

Monday 15th December 2008

I mentioned previously that I’ve been made redundant from my job. I also mentioned that I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to get another job in Engineering, but that the odds were better than I initially expected.

I’ve been studying Civil Engineering for the last 2 years. It’s a fairly broad field, but basically it’s concerned with any sort of construction; be that of buildings, roads, bridges, railways… When you go out and work there are basically two main fields you can choose to work in. In my current (for the rest of the week) job, I’m working for a firm of consulting engineers. What that means is that they design the building; do all the calculations to make sure it stands up and things like that. Mostly office work. The other field you can choose to work in is contracting engineering, and that really does involve working in a field… They’re the ones who work on-site with the builders and whoever to hopefully make sure it’s built properly, on time and in budget.

When I was deciding what type of work I wanted to do in my placement year (and thereafter), I focused on consulting. I think because I didn’t like the idea of having to be outside when it’s cold and rainy, but to be honest I don’t think I put that much thought into it. When I spoke to the people at the university who run the year placements after being made redundant, they said that it was more likely I’d get a job in contracting, because they’re still doing jobs – if they’ve started building something, they don’t just stop half way through…

Anyway, I realised that I’d never really given it much thought in the past. But as I started thinking about the pros and cons of contracting, I was starting to think that I could really enjoy it. Not that I don’t enjoy working in the consultancy, but being able to do both in the space of a year is a really good opportunity to be able to see which one I want to do when I graduate.

So, I had an interview for a firm of contracting engineers a couple of weeks ago, and got the job. I start at the end of January (hopefully… The site I’m meant to be working on in Cardiff was meant to start in October, so the guy who interviewed me said theres a slight chance it could slip again). Basically, I’ve pretty much lucked into a job which I could potentially enjoy more, has better opportunities for sponsorship/graduate employment (and which pays substantially more. I know it’s very un-British to mention money, but meh). The downsides being longer hours, and that it’s bloody cold outside…

It’s amusing to me how little employers seem to care about my degree (or, indeed, how irrelevant much of my degree is to my working life). I mentioned in the interview the other week that I’d had to drop down to a Bachelors instead of a Masters, cos my grades were a bit crap. His response? “Well, we don’t really care. Those are all just bits of paper”. My current (for the rest of the week) boss said the other day that it’s much more important to him as an employer for people he interviews to be able to communicate well, rather than be amazingly qualified. They can teach the technical stuff, they can’t teach you how to communicate well. In a lot of ways, the experience I got from working for the Bank has been much more useful to me than what I’ve learned in two years of uni. Draw your own conclusions from this paragraph on my attitudes to University, because I’ve strayed from the point I was going to make.

Basically, I’ve been pretty lucky. Because I lost my job, I’ve ended up with a really good placement year and the possibility of completely re-assessing my career plans. It’s a funny old world.

Posted In: EngineeringStuff Tagged: | 3 Comments

Remake/Remodel

Thursday 27th November 2008

First things first, I decided to have a fiddle around with the way this thing works, hence the new look. The old design I was using was a bit of a mess behind the scenes, so this version should hopefully help me use WordPress a bit better… I wanted to work out how to use CSS properly as well. Turns out it’s remarkably easy and very powerful, which is handy. Also, I just felt like a change….

Anyway, other things. I’ve mentioned before that I’m on a year out this year, so I could go do a placement in an engineering company. Which is pretty cool. I much prefer the working lifestyle to the student one, for some reason. I like knowing that work stops at a certain time, and that after that my time is my own. And the student lifestyle makes it very, very easy to be lazy (my bad habit is to turn nocturnal, especially in the winter…). Also, I’m not sure what it is, but I tend to find the whole student bubble thing pretty tedious; it’s nice to be able to get out into the real world for a bit. I’m fairly dreading having to go back to Uni next year, I honestly don’t know how I’ll cope.

I’ve been in a civil engineering office, doing… well, lots of stuff. It’s quite an eye-opener how little civil engineering my degree in, uhm, civil engineering, has contained thus far. Mostly we’ve covered a lot of structural stuff, rather than civils. Which I guess makes sense, because the structural stuff probably lends itself more to being taught at uni. I think I’ve probably learned as much – if not more – from my placement than from my degree…

However. You will probably have noticed all the talk recently about recession. Well, turns out that has a pretty large effect on the construction industry; people can’t build stuff when they haven’t got any money. So I was made redundant last week. To be honest, when I decided to get a year’s experience of the industry, that wasn’t the experience I had in mind. So, the bad news is that I’m out of a job after Christmas; the good news is that I’ve only had about 3 weeks off in total since July (because I worked for the Bank over summer), and now I’m gonna get longer off…

I think I should possibly be more stressed about the whole thing. I’m not sure if I’ll get another job in engineering for the rest of the year (although the odds are better than I thought they’d be), and I’m not sure what the hell I’d do if I didn’t get one. In a lot of ways, though, it’s a good opportunity for me. I’ve had 3 months doing one type of thing in the engineering industry, now I wanna go do something different; I’d really like to go and work on-site, see what that’s like. If I went down that road long-term there’s some pretty good opportunities for travelling, which I think is not to be ignored.

Hmm, anyway. This is a crap post. There’s a bunch of other stuff I wanna write about, but I’ll leave that for another time.

Posted In: EngineeringSiteSleepStuff Tagged: | 7 Comments

Can’t Find My Way Home

Tuesday 23rd September 2008

I moved back to Cardiff last week, and to get my room sorted has taken a few days (between other stuff, obviously). The last thing I needed to get to sort it completely was a decent desk. So, I decided earlier to drive to Ikea to pick one up. Obviously, I looked up where I needed to go. I thought that I’d got it all worked out. That it’d be a simple matter of going left, right, left again and parking up outside the shop to get a shiny new desk. I was wrong. I got lost instead.

Initially, I started thinking about Backtrackin’, about trying to work out where I went wrong and how to get back on the right track. In fact, I did get back on the right road fairly quickly, only to make another wrong turning and end up in places I’d never seen before and didn’t know where they were in relation to Ikea (or, indeed, Cardiff). At that point, I decided to rely on the tactic of taking what seemed to be the be the best turnings. I guessed, basically. Now, I have no doubt that some of those decisions made the situation worse. I have no doubt that if I stopped, got a map from somewhere (I only have an A-Z in the car. A Birmingham A-Z…) and worked out what to do, I could’ve probably got back on track much quicker, and at less cost (£1.10! A litre!). But, I carried on. Couldn’t be bothered with stopping.

I actually started to enjoy the journey. Sure, I wasn’t getting where I wanted to go. I was getting rather hungry, was using up expensive petrol and probably getting further away from Cardiff; but it was quite enjoyable in a perverse way. I jest kept driving along, taking a turn when I felt like it and hoping that it’d get me to somewhere I at least recognised. Ikea really wasn’t the main objective at this point, just a “it’d be nice if I get there” sort of thing.

Eventually, I got somewhere I recognised. And, as somewhat of an aside, I love that feeling of joy when you go from being utterly lost to knowing where you are. Especially when it’s literally a case of turning a corner, you just think “wow, that wasn’t so hard, was it?”.

Anyway, once I was somewhere that I recognised, it suddenly becamae a possibility. I started to plan, to hope. Maybe if I try such-and-such instead, I’ll get there. Maybe it’ll be different this time. Only one way to find out!

I found what I wanted in the end. I’m glad I didn’t abandon it.

Ikea wasn’t bad, either.

Posted In: CarsSleepStuff | 2 Comments

Seriously, Who Uses Password as their AP Password?

Monday 18th August 2008

Poor, poor form. But at least I can do something at the train station after missing the train. That said theres some fairly hefty rain falling, which is making me fear for my Notebook’s safety, somewhat. Never mind, plough on.

I’m currently listening to the new Sigur Ros album, and have to say it’s fairly stunning. Rather unlike their previous efforts in a lot of ways, but really good nonetheless. I particularly like “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur” (means “within me a lunatic sings”). One of those songs which is just pure, unadulterated joy.

OK, so there was just an announcement over the station PA telling everyone to be careful because the platform might be wet. Honestly, if you can’t work that one out by yourself…

Anyway, stuff. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’ve been working lately, which is the cause of the lack of blogging. To be honest a lot of the time I’ve not really had anything to say. And then when I have had stuff to say, I’ve just not been awake enough to say it. Pretty frustrating, to be honest.

I enjoy working in some ways. Gets me out of the house, gets me money, etc. That said lots of things about this job annoy me, and I really can’t wait to start a “proper” job in September. It might not be immediately clear what I mean by that, but it’s one of the things on my to-do list as far as this thing is concerned. Actually I started writing about it the other day, but… C’est la vie.

I was back in Cardiff last week for reasons previously mentioned. Something that annoyed me about that actually is that for the first time I sat the exam, revision was something I didn’t particularly like doing and the material didn’t make all that much sense to me. This time round, I really enjoyed revising (it was like doing a more useful sudoku, if that makes sense), and had no trouble motivating myself. Of course part of that is possibly down to there being no second chances this time, but I dont think it was completely down to that. Irritating.

Anyway, Cardiff. I drove there, and it’s the first time that I’ve really driven round there (I drove there once a couple of years ago, but that doesnt count for several reasons). As I was driving around the city, I realised that it felt really alien, as if I hadn’t been there before and didn’t know it that well. Probably because it felt completely different seeing and feeling it from the car. On familiar roads you get used to how they feel; where the bumps are, the texture of the road, how things work etc. It kinda felt nicer from the driver’s seat than it does from the pavement, but thats more down  to the quality of the paving in Cardiff…

Wow, I’m rambling now.

So yeah, as well as that alienness there was also a proper recognition of the place, as you’d expect considering the fact that I’ve (mostly) lived there for a couple of years now. Driving around, seeing lots of different places brought back some of the memories from the last couple of years. Sort of “oh, I remember doing such and such here”. It was nice, if a little weird when combined with the unfamiliarity I was feeling.

Still doesn’t feel like home though. When I’m on the motorway and I see a sign for The Midlands, it just feels like “That way be home”. Don’t feel that when I see a sign for Cardiff.

Train o’Clock. Bye

Posted In: CarsGeekMusicRandomSiteStuff Tagged: | 8 Comments

Risk

Tuesday 5th August 2008

Motorsport is dangerous. If we’re honest with ourselves, that danger is probably part of the reason people like the sport. Everyone involved with it, either directly or as a fan, is aware of the risk and accepts it. If we didn’t accept it, we wouldn’t be involved. You just bury it in the back of your mind; ignore it, pretty much.

I’m mostly interested in car racing, so I wasn’t really aware of the World Superbike meeting at Brands Hatch last weekend. To be frank, I was much more interested in the F1 Hungarian Grand Prix, which was an absolutely stonking race. Whilst I was watching it with one of my brothers I remarked that “races like this are why I love this sport”. It was absolutely astounding. But if the Grand Prix is an example of what makes the sport great, the WSBK race serves as a reminder of the darker side of motorsport.

As I’m not really interested in bike racing, I’d only vaguely heard of Craig Jones. He was in second place in the race on Sunday, when the back end of the bike just started to slide, as he powered out of a corner. He fell off. He was involved in a fairly tight battle at the time, and so the guy in third place was pretty much right behind him. Right behind him. At about 140-150mph. You can guess the rest (or read the story).

Motorsport is dangerous. There are little signs all around race circuits that tell you that, and it’s even printed on the back of the tickets for most things. But it’s something that you’re only dimly aware of. Sure, you know it can happen, but you’re fairly sure that it probably wont. Especially in car racing – I can’t remember the last time I heard of someone being fatally injured in a car, outside of rallying. It’s something that I think I – subconsciously at least – thought belonged in the past, to the Gilles Villeneuves and Stefan Bellofs of the world.

Sure, this time it happened in motorbike racing; something which is inherently more dangerous than car racing (you can provide all sorts of crash structures in a car to cushion an impact. You can’t do that in a bike – no matter how hard you try, you can’t stop someone falling off and being hit by another rider). But that doesn’t remove the fact that we’ve been incredibly lucky with car racing lately. Incredibly lucky. I can think offhand of about half a dozen accidents that could have been much worse, had things been ever so slightly different. I still remember the feeling when I watched Kubica’s crash at Canada last year, for instance.

The next person to tell me “the accidents are the best bit” is going to get punched in the face.

I think part of the reason im so taken aback is that it happened at Brands Hatch. I’ve never been there, but it’s a circuit I’ve seen a fair amount of racing on (BTCC and so on), and it’s actually one of my favourites. I can’t explain why, but that sort of makes it more “real”. I know that the next time I watch a race held there, the image of Jones sliding gently onto the tarmac is going to go through my mind, at least for the first lap. Honestly, I don’t know how people could even watch motorsport back in the 60s – when it was properly dangerous – let alone compete. I think it was 1968, when during the summer one top-line driver died each month. One a month. I can’t even imagine how I’d feel if that happened now.

This news has seriously shocked me.

Posted In: MotorsportSleepStuff Tagged: | 11 Comments