October 2006 Archives

News On Release 6

Spent this morning chatting with our account manager from Primavera, and their techy guy, about Primavera release 6. And it sounds fantastic.

Lots of new stuff coming, which I'm sure will finally get the rest of the business up and running. The biggest boon being a web-based GANNT chart, which should hopefully start to placate the MSP users who seem to hate any tool that stops them from being secretive about their plans. There's also a new reporting database, or data warehouse, which should fit in with the projecct and business reporting developments Gareth's developing.

All in all a good day, but then I'm a bit of a techo-nerd when it comes to these sort of things ;-)

Chutney Time

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It's that time of year again, and I'm ready to make me chutney :-D

Tomatoes, thanks to Emma at work, have flourished, and Nigel's landlord's clerk, Tom, has donated a HUGE bag of pears and cooking apples. So it looks like I'll be making quite a batch this year, and also need a receipe for pears. Off to Google we go :-D

2 receipes have come up in my quest for a pear chutney. One, from Saturday Kitchen's James Martin, fellow Yorkshireman, so bound to be a good 'un ;-) The other, lists as Apple And Pear Spicy Chutney With Jalapeno, but takes for ever to load the page up. Sounds good tho, if you're after a chutney with a bit of bite ;-)

So, for those party to my last creations, and those wanting a jar this year, let me know your preference by posting a comment ;-) I'll be setting to early next week :-D

A Pelican Ate What?

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Pelican swallows pigeon in park, no, really, it did. There's a picture too, in case you're thinking it's another Sunday Sport headline.

N80 Upgrade Available

Nokia N80One of the things I found on trawling the 'net about my N80 was comments that the firmware was to blame for a number of issues with the phone's operation. Whether this was to be fixed, it didn't seem to say. So, on a trawl today, you can imagine my joy in finding that the new firmware has been released at last for Orange :-D

It alledgedly improves memory management, fixes problems with bluetooth, in particular GPS devices, and appears to improve battery power management. But only time will tell ;-)

It's available now from the Nokia site Phone Software updater. You can also check other Nokia models on their Software update availability page.

I've also found a site that deals with taking my old Nokia 7650 apart, as well as disassembly of the N80.

Cool Lego

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I'm sure it's been commented on elsewhere, but catching the Gadget Show earlier tonight, they were showing off the Lego Mindstorm NXT.

They're the latest development from Lego, a robotic Lego brick ;-) They contain three motor/power ports and three sensor ports. Open source software allows you to develop programs, and a bluetooth interface gives you the ability to control it via another bluetooth device, for example your mobile phone.

On the programme they demonstrated one that reacted to sound, using a sound sensor "brick". You can get a whole range of sensor "bricks", including touch, ultrasonic, and light. Also, servo motors so that the bricks can move about.

They're out in the wild, and priced around the 180 mark for the Lego Mindstorm NXT Make and Create kit. You'll guess what I'm after for Christmas ;-)

Of course, for me it follows on from last week's announcement by the MoD of an open challenge to the UK. Just hope no-one else catches onto the idea of building a small, insignificant autonomous plastic object that can carry a coke can sized payload over rough terrain. I mean, who'd want to do that?

A Washout

Well, the plan was to spend a bit more time on the car's, but the heaven's opened this morning, and it hasn't stopped since. So, apart from giving Laura a lift in and out of work, it's been a quiet day. Shopping, house tidying, and waving off the bro's this afternoon. Shame, as I'd really caught the bug yesterday, thanks to Nige and Ian. There's always next weekend ;-)

Woken Early

Up at 9am this morning, thanks to Nige and Ian bringing Laura back from Hull for work. Not really expecting to be up that early, having got back from Brighton yesterday around 9pm. Was looking forward to a lie in ;-)

Anyway's, off to Wetherspoon's for their brekky, and a sample of the beer festival beer's (it was after 11am). Then back home to start work on the car's, the intention of last weekend if it hadn't been for the terrible weather. You can tell autumn is all but upon us now :-(

Moved stuff around the carpark, and managed to get the green one in a position to jump start it. Couldn't get it going, but managed to sort out everything so it should go. In between all this we sorted out a mate from work, Andy, and his car's brakes, in return for which he's getting the beers in tonight. All in all a good day :-D

Probably a fault with the fuel pump, but we can investigate that further tomorrow. We're all off out to Chicago's tonight. Sy's relations from Canada are over, and he's promised them a night to remember. More importantly, Mr Older will be going to Chicago's, something he's only done once before. Get your camera's at the ready ;-)

Dear Colleague...

or so the letters always start.

They announced redundancies today at work. Can't say much more than that, and if I find the press release anywhere I'll pop a link here.

I'm not officially affected, but it'll become more clear as the weeks go by and consultations begin.

This will be the third round I've been party to. It comes with the territory I guess?
[UPDATE]
'Unique' Reasons 170 Jobs Were Lost (from This Is Lancashire)
Ministers Concerns Over Job Losses (from This Is Lancashire)
Missiles Factory Is Hit By Fall In Orders (from This Is Lancashire)

Minor update to GT Electrical's site completed. I'd forgotten how long it'd been since I last updated it back in January. And like with all the other sites I look after, I'd lost track of changes. So what should've been a five minute job turned into a whole night's work. Serves me right for not having any config control on this one ;-)

Added the news of the latest TEQ award, including the HUGE article that was in the Hull Daily Mail. Also linked the eBay stuff in, although I'm going to have a butchers at making that a bit more clever with Ian's expert eBaying help ;-)

Yes, and before you start, I know frames are soooo last year. Once I've finished the 2 sites for our work intranet I'll fix that. Of course, I won't use the company tools to do it ;-)

Blog Problems

Some of you will have noticed random postings, well, that's my fault ;-) But others have found it difficult to post comments, and for once that's not my fault. It does appear to be working this morning, but it'll probably stop again soon. So hang in there everyone, and if need be, email me instead :-D

I can't complain, after all, Jonathan's doing all this whilst trying to film, write tv, eat and sleep. Noticable tho is the increase in spam, particularly trackbacks, which Jonathan's mentioned in his posting. I'm spending quite a while now, every evening, stripping out the comment and trackback spams that have started plaguing both blogs. The blacklist must be putting a fair old strain on the server now, I know it crashes my pc when I try and download a full list :-O

Bond Driving A Ford?

Saw the new ad for Ford this morning. And nearly fell off the sofa :-O

James Bond's new car is a Ford Mondeo.... Nooooooooooo :-(

Apparently there's problems with the Aston, so they've picked out another "performance vehicle" (cough) from the range to replace it.

I mean, doesn't anyone think that's just plain wrong? After all, it's not like Ford haven't access to proper Bond vehicles, Aston Martin, Jag for instance. Why, oh why, go Essex, and put him in a Ford? Imagine if this was a few years ago, and he turns up to the casino in, wait for it, a Mk3 Escort XR3i, "Alrite, fella..." :-( Or, heaven forbid, a Sierra :-O Not saying I'm looking forward to seeing this one now.

Managed to find a reference on a Ford dealer site.

Pete's 50th

Off up in Hull for, amongst other things, Pete's 50th birthday party celebrations tonight. He's hopefully got a few guys over from an Arabian country in which he works (bet you can't guess where ;-)), and they're keen to have a chat with me apparently ;-)

Otherwise it's a good excuse to come North and drink and be merry. And that'll certainly be my state come the wee small hours of Saturday morning :-D

You Never Fully Recover

News on the BBC that survivors of childhood cancer may go on to face long-term health problems, according to research. Something that was discussed with Jules' illness. They'd said the leukaemia she suffered in childhood probably contributed to the development of the brain tumour, the aggressive radiation treatments she was subjected to being the most likely cause. Although with statistics now saying 1 in 3 of the UK population will develop cancer of some sort, and 1 in 10 developing brain tumours, there has to be other contributors.

They say you're never cured of cancer, simply in constant remission :-(

Any News On Airfix?

AirfixAs eBay prices rocket, and I finally get round to having space to restart building, I thought I'd have a trawl and see if there's any news on Airfix's future, and that of Humbrol.

Found some good sites with reviews and builds, including Jonathan Bryon's, a site with quite a few Airfix big scale kits. I've a batch of Buccaneers, Tornado's and Jags to build up, and it's given me a wealth of ideas. Also, the EE Lightning looks amazing, wonder if I can grab one on eBay...

As for Humbrol's future, it seems the interested parties are still Hornby and Revell Europe. The view being that Hornby will take Airfix, and Revell want the Humbrol paint and accessories bits. All I'm hoping for is that they get going again soon, and next year's plans are reingnited. I've been waiting nigh on 15 years for an Airfix Nimrod, so don't want to be waiting any longer!

Links:
IPMS(UK) members' forum - Airfix down!!!
PRW.com - Plastics Industry News - Airfix brand receives buyer interest
Airfix 1-48 Spitfire IXc - ARC Air Discussion Forums
Model Rail Forum - Hornby to possibly buy Airfix

Jobs Going?

Further news, seems daily now, of the woes at Airbus, with the new boss, Louis Gallois, warning there are likely to be "painful" job losses at the plane firm in light of delays to its A380 superjumbo.

I hope it sorts itself out, afterall, it's an amazing feat of engineering, both in terms of UK wing design, and manufacturing scale. And besides, I want to travel on one of these things once they're in service, and sample the jacuzzi's, casino's, and swimming pools they all keep talking about ;-)

Interestingly, Louis Gallois has now replaced Christian Streiff, who was appointed only 3 months ago and has now quit over "disagreements with EADS...". Wonder how long Louis will be in the job?

How Much?

News that Lloyds TSB are to introduce new tougher penalties for going overdrawn. Applying charges of 30 for going overdrawn, and then 35 a throw, up to 3 times in a given day, for bounced payments.

A change indeed, considering it used to be 30 for going overdrawn, and then a lot less than 35 for bounced payments. And, I'm pretty sure, it was only the one charge, not a charge per item.

Cynical view, from the Moneybox article, is that like other banks, they're getting in while they can with extortionate charges. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) will be ruling on bank charges early next year, and many see that as an end to the high charge regimes present today.

Interestingly the Lloyds TSB interviewee refused to comment on whether the new charge reflects the cost to the bank of having to bounce a payment.

The Robins Are A-Bobbin!

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Hull KRWhat a weekend for hometown sport :-D Hull FC winning a place in the grand final on Friday, and then today, Hull KR returning to the top flight with a win in the National League One Grand Final today :-D

Hull KR are my team, being from the Eastside of town. Will have to don my red and whites next season :-D Looking forward to it - a chance to see the old Hull derby matches restart :-D

When the Red, Red Robins, come bob, bob, bobbin along... :-D :-D

[UPDATE]Brill article on the Rovers on the BBC :-D

Winners!

Hull FCThe second chance entry into the Super League Grand Final was played out last night. And Hull FC managed, albet not impressively, to grab the win and progress onto final next Saturday.

Not that I've watched many matches, after all, I'm from the East side of town. But their style of play seems to be grabbing the ball, running at the opposition, and doing this 6 times. Hmmm, you can see why other sides manage to score by playing a passing game. Although the performance across the season suggests they've done something right. It's just worrying to watch, when Bradford would've scored at least 3 tries, if it wasn't for the video referee. I wonder how long it'll be before the 3rd ref is introduced into football?

Of course, with most of Hull off to Old Trafford for the final, this means there'll be no-one around next weekend when I go up't North. Bugger :-(

Fundamentals

Spent the last 2 days on a Project Management Fundamentals course, run by my new boss, Head of Project Management, Andrew Brown. He's worked for several different companies, including oil and gas, high tech, as well as Stanford University's Integrated Project Systems (IPS) as a consultant. And it's been an interesting 2 days finding out about some of the principles of managing projects, as well as the framework which I'll be involved in over the coming months :-D

What's been more interesting is listening and watching the rest of the group, and how they react to some of the concepts. There's a lot we've done as a business for many years, and as new ideas are brought in, it's interesting to see how everyone reacts to change.

The simplest concept was that of Work Breakdown Structures. For many years, primarily because of the systems we had, the WBS, cost collection structures, and the organisation breakdown structure are all one thing. So to propose separate structures comes as quite a change for some. Encouragingly, when put in context with Primavera's approach to project creation, many could see why managing up until now was very much a company problem. And with the separate structures it'll allow better management, with the ability to clearly define what's what, who's responsible, and how much is being spent and planned to be spent. And with Gareth and his ideas on managing all the data in one "kickass" solution, I have to agree with the comment that it'll be interesting times ahead ;-)

Anyway, gotta get off and find out if Riley's is showing the rugby. Hull FC are playing Bradford Bulls for a place in the Grand Final of Super League. Not my fav game, that's Sunday when the official Hull rugby league team, Hull KR, play for a chance of promotion to Super League.

Bye, bye Airbus

So the Extraordinary General Meeting today of BAE SYSTEMS shareholders decided by a narrow margin of 99.85% in favour, to sell off the Airbus stake.

Unfortunately I can't really say much, after all it involves 2 of my company's major shareholders. But the recent news of delays on the A380 have plunged the share price, and cast doubts on the future of the commercial bits of BAE SYSTEMS, hence the decision to get out while the goings good. They follow Damlier Chrysler and Lagadere in jumping ship. And with all the infighting over who should be boss, and what nationality they should be, I don't blame them.

Interestingly, I'm currently working with some of our German colleagues, translating a survey my boss created and performed in the UK, into German, French, and Spainish. Gareth's working out all the gizmo's, I'm just making it look good. Which, apparently I'm told, I've a natural flare for. Interesting, working with them. Will have to wait and see if I get any trips out there in the near future ;-)

Frightening News

Listening to the radio on the way to work this morning, and catching the news story on the BBC online this lunchtime. Claims that pregnant teenagers smoke to try to reduce the size of their babies, and make delivery less painful :-O

I must admit I'd thought I was hearing things this morning, and the news story was a prank. Frightening to think that some people have this idea, and are willing to put the life of an unborn baby at risk based on an "Old Wife's Tale" they've heard down the pub.

Next thing you know people will be claiming you can save money flying abroad by drinking Red Bull.

Stings New Release

Getting the occasional Sting.com fanmail, and noticed Sting's got a new album out next week apparently. A collection of Elizabethan songs - hmmmm, different I suppose. I think I'll wait for someone to "lend" me a copy, or see if there's any MP3 demo's to download.

A fuller review, which I missed months ago, is on the Sting.com site.

Garage Open For Business

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At last, thanks in no small way to Ian and Bailey, I've a garage to be proud of :-D

Racking, shelves, a worktop, and lots of other nifty storage spaces made up by Ian. I'm really looking forward to the winter and getting all the cars back on the road now :-D

All it needs is a little heating and power. Now, where can I get a cheap generator from... ;-)

About Alan Bell

Lapsed: electronic engineer, scout leader, project controller.
Now: Oracle Primavera training consultant, business support manager, occasional website designer.

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