Another failed swag run

Filed under: Work — iain @ 17:46:09

Though I’ve travelled a lot on my own dime and previous employers have occasionally sent me on business trips, CSR are the first to send me to visit the offices of companies they’ve acquired. I’ve made it something of a habit to try to pick up some kind of memorabilia while visiting these acquisitions. I’ve made it another habit to fail badly in this task.



Close friends get to call him deceased

Filed under: Work — iain @ 06:26:00

After several engineer callouts, multiple component replacements and hours of diagnostics, topcat.csr.com will now not even power on and has been pronounced dead.


Good morning!

Filed under: Work — iain @ 06:23:05

Here it is at twenty past seven in the morning and I’m awake and getting ready to leave the flat.

This is most unlike me.

If you know me personally you’ll be quite surprised to hear that I volunteered to be on site at CSR an hour earlier: from 0800 to 1600 instead of 0900 to 1700.

It actually doesn’t work out so terribly. I worked precisely those hours at Siemens and since Rebecca is asleep whatever time I leave, the only change from her perspective is I get home an hour earlier.

Off I go!

Ah, realtime blogging. It’s like Myspace in here.


A rousing sendoff

Filed under: Work — iain @ 17:50:37

After several years’ service, one of the CSR IS staff left the company on Tuesday. His manager praised him in a very eloquent speech and, after a hearty round of applause, he was given a card and a leaving gift … a Nintendo Wii.

At which point some wag piped up "Hmmph, that’s a Broadcom chip!"


One month done

Filed under: Work — iain @ 20:48:29

My first month as a contractor draws to an end. The client are happy with my work; I’m happy working there; things are looking good.

There was only one slight panic. On Tuesday I suddenly remembered that all the money I’d charged the client was sitting in my company bank account … and hence of precisely no use to me when it came to covering personal bills and expenses. Cue a lunchtime cycle ride into Cambridge to get the bank to transfer money between accounts. Apart from that there have been no major hiccups and I’ve completed my accounts for the month which will keep the accountants happy. On the advice of friends I appointed SJD to co^H^Hrun my books.

Even so I confess to being wholly unprepared for the amount of paperwork I’ve had to do. Sometimes even when someone tells you something and it sounds perfectly reasonable, you just can’t grasp the magnitude of what you’re hearing. I’d been told there would be a load of paperwork. It made sense that there would be a load of paperwork. I was expecting a load of paperwork.

Yet the load I got was about ten times bigger and more loady than the paperwork I had envisaged.

Consider that I had to fill in half a dozen pages to authorise the accountants to act on my behalf. That’s filling in a load of paperwork to get someone else to fill in your paperwork…

If I could give two pieces of advice, based on my experience so far, to people considering forming their own limited company, being prepared for the paperwork and making sure you stay on top of it would be one of them. The other would be to appoint a company secretary who lives near you. The standard way of doing things is to get your significant other or a family member to fill the role. I got my father to do it and, since he lives in Stourbridge, that means posting forms back and forth to get things done.

Which is bad enough when he actually fills in the forms correctly and doesn’t forget to sign in the right place!


Going contracting

Filed under: Work — iain @ 21:39:08

I got a call last week with an offer to do a contract job at Cambridge Silicon Radio. With the commute to Maidenhead continuing to be a nightmare it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.

After rushing through the paperwork I now have my limited company and I’m all set to start the job tomorrow.

Wish me luck!


A different route

Filed under: Work — iain @ 08:26:11

I made a few changes to my journey today. I left Cambridge at 0530 and ignored the satnav’s pleas to head south, choosing instead to take the A14 and M11 before hopping on to the A10 to meet up with the A1(M) as the software planned.

The A1(M) was slow in parts but nowhere near as bad as I know it would have been an hour later. I came to the M25 and it was moving. I decided to stick with it until it started to slow down then dive off somewhere.

Previously I’ve reached the Rickmansworth exit but this morning things were slowing before then. I, along with two other drivers who had the same idea, left at junction 20 (I think it was). The Audi in front must have been going a similar way as I followed him straight past the queue going wherever the hell they were going and headed right on to some B road somewhere.

That’s when the fun started.

The Audi and I were doing 70 or so when TomTom decreed that I should turn right ahead. The Audi didn’t slow down. Perhaps he was going somewhere else after all. I did slow down. With the sharp right coming up it became clear that I was going to have trouble slowing in time. I stood on the brakes and turned in … not very much. Then like Obi-Wan Kenobi reaching out to Luke Skywalker with the Force, Walshy reached out to me and I heard his voice telling me about braking understeer. I eased off the brakes, the back end started to slide and as Walshy commanded me to “remember my training” I managed to catch it and continue. I’m sure I looked a right old twat to the car which screamed down the road behind me and three weeks ago I would probably have looked somewhat worse.

The road was pretty narrow and very soon got even narrower. One lane only, with a few holes carved in the hedges to give people room to pull over should you meet an oncoming vehicle. I began to get more and more suspicious as I came down … and back up … a pretty steep hill, something Cambridge folk are unaccustomed to. This was Tom’s Hill and its steep inclines, blind corners and lack of width were surely TomTom’s revenge for ignoring its instructions earlier. You know you’re out in the sticks when the roads have names like Deadman’s Ash Lane. Where was it taking me?

Through a puddle. Twenty metres of standing water were negotiated at a snail’s pace and thankfully the obligatory oncoming cars waited until later to make their appearance.

With that obstacle passed I found myself having fun. If the satnav wants me to take narrow country lanes then who am I to argue. If it were the weekend I would be demanding a similar route. Soon enough, however, I found my way back to civilisation and, slightly further on, the M40. I was even the first one in the office at 0745. Much much better than parking on the M25 for an hour.


Admitting defeat

Filed under: Rants,Work — iain @ 22:53:28

Driving to Maidenhead was a Good Idea (being code for A Really Bad Idea) and was reasonably Fun (being code for Nightmarish). Nevertheless I’m going back to the train for the rest of this week.

It sucks having to be at the station at a certain time only for the train to be late and throw you off your schedule by thirty minutes but at least you don’t get run off the road by people on your outside deciding they want to turn off the roundabout in front of you, and you don’t have to park your car on the M25 for an hour.

The numbers, though, are not so good. I drove to Maidenhead and back twice and filled up once. Assuming I did drive every day that would work out to about three fillups per week which would cost me about £90. A weekly season ticket on the train is £138.

I went to the ticket office tonight and was told that since I only want to travel tomorrow, Thursday and Friday (for reasons outside the scope of this document I will not be traveling next week) it would actually be cheaper to buy three full-price return tickets at £40 each.

Doing the Right Thing and using public transport is up to twice as expensive as driving. Now I’m a big fan of public transport (in other countries) and my car is unsuited to long journeys but let’s assume I owned a different vehicle. Why would I not drive when

  • I’m not tied to someone else’s schedule
  • I’m guaranteed a seat
  • I don’t have to sit with Other People
  • It’s an hour quicker
  • And it’s half the price

Note that this is simply a gratuitous rant. Of course I don’t honestly believe that I’m the first person to notice that the UK’s transport infrastructure is rutterly ubbish. I did live in Lyon and Hong Kong, remember.

Footnote: The line above was supposed to read utterly rubbish but I liked my typo so much I’m keeping it in.


Day Five

Filed under: Work — iain @ 21:58:18

My first week is over and I managed to deal with commuting all the way from Cambridge to Maidenhead without going insane or dropping dead.

I did, however, nearly lose my MacBook Pro.

Like an idiot I left the train at Maidenhead without the laptop bag. I realised my mistake immediately but the train had pulled away towards Reading.

Luckily for me the station supervisor called ahead to arrange for Reading staff to retrieve the bag, which they did. A short trip to Reading later and I was reunited with the Mac.


Day Four

Filed under: Work — iain @ 21:56:02

When I left the house at 0615 it was dry and, happily, a lot warmer than earlier in the week. Unfortunately the old cliché of it being "too cold to snow" was in play this morning. As in it no longer was too cold to snow. The flakes started drifting down soon after I set off and the snow was beginning to settle nicely by the time I arrived at the station. As the sun came up I looked out of the train window to see white in every direction.

Later reports said that it was the heaviest snowfall in the UK since 2000. Nonetheless the slow-running trains and delayed underground service did not stop me arriving at work at 0945. More than can be said for many people living a lot closer to Maidenhead than Cambridge.

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