Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Laptop again.

Laptop misery Fun Again.

Last week I had a great time at UKOUG. And of course I made a load of last minute changes to my presentation.

So when I had to deliver, I rapidly did the upload about 1 hour before giving the presentation and then went off to see this topic on Streams.
Good Topic. And Good Work done by Gordon and his team. Unfortunately the ppt was a bit obfuscated due to the complexity of the topic and it was crammed into 45 minutes. (I recommend we re-invite these guys to a SIG soon to re-present and re-discuss).

So, running late...
I rushed into hall 5, the hall one with the blinding lights (as Christo pointed out: bring sunglasses) only to find that my latest+greatest 3-week-old Laptop would not hand out a proper external video signal.

OK, no problem. Plan B. Two memory sticks with copies of the ppt....

Yeah Rite..
When started on the other available laptop, M$ prompted us to donwload some viewer. My brand-new M$Softice was one step too far for the installed version on the working laptop...

Luckily the hall was also freezing cold, which compensated for me fuming and sweathing.

I was about to try and do the whole thing orally, thinking I'd turn it into an improvised roundtable and learn something from the audience. After all, that is what I do as a consultant: listen and learn from my customers.
Alternatively, we could all go and listen to Doug Burns, who was re-iterating the importance of properly applied OFA. A topic very much related to mine.

The guy from ICC kept his cool (now I know why that airco is set to refridgerating temperatures). He was most helpful. While I started to summarize my message (simplicity!) without the help of complex visuals he quietly investigated.

When he couldnt get my laptop to work, He ran off with both my memory sticks and converted my PPTX to something that was presentable on the UKOUG provided (working) laptop. Took him probably less then 10 minutes. Well done!

Minor detail: out of my rather full backup-memory-stick he converted the slightly older and longer (two-hour) version.
No big deal. Just lots of clicks, and a few additional sad jokes.

The uploaded verion of the presentation is the "intended" version, and some of you may find that you need some M$ plugin to download before you can properly view it.
If you have any problems: drop me a mail, and I'll send out a ppt-downgraded version.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

UKOUG: Working for a (not so) Big Company.

UKOUG is a good conference.
It is also a big party and Birmingham is buzzing with techie-nerds, sales-nerds and expo-babes.

It is always interesting to see what kind of crowd you can link up with and have some good fun. After all, I never make it a secret that I mainly work to have fun.

I got two invites for Tuesday evening:
One from a "competing company" who did something nifty and for whose techies I have great respect.

The other was a last minute invite from a drinking club. Mostly elder men who have, via good marketing, via good beer and via good parties, made a reputation for themselves.

My management actually want me to try and join up to this club, as it would make good marketing sense. My management wants to get more "reputable names" out in the Oracle-world. The company tries to do that by re-selling Oracle licenses at high margins, and by sucking up to Oracle in general in the hope that we get a few more "Aces"-assigned (Not very successfull, as we seem to lack both the sucking-talent and the real talent - Talent tends to go Independent, I need to draw my conclusion from that).

So I decided to take the latter invite. I have already spent many occasions with these folks, and I got to like most of the colorful characters in that group.
They are generally good for a Laugh. And I might pick up a few good pieces of info and some IT warstories.

So, after the entree, the head-honcho and champion-drinker of this club took me aside, and said: "Since you represent the biggest company on the table, and since you seem to want to attach yourself to us... Why don't you pick up the bill? A big company should be able to do that..."
I explained that I could not pick up the full amount, but he was rather insistant on this and I found him to become rather rude.

Apart from my dislike of rudeness, I simply cannot spent that amount of money (some 40 ppl, good meal, lots and lots and lots of drinkies). Spending that amount without prior approval would get a minion like me in Deep Trouble from the "big" company.

And quite frankly, I did think it smelled of blackmail or extortion: you want to join us, why dont you show us your desperation ...
I would have understood this attitude in a latin country, but not from (what I thought to be) honest scandinavians.

Right. End of road for me.
And I am now looking for a "bigger" company to work for.
Or at least a different company.
And considering to move away from the Oracle arena as well.

Oh, and regarding payment for the meal:
I paid him (cash, no receipt...) approximately double what I thought my meal and drinks could have cost, and I left.

I just read about the fire-incident.

Really feel sorry for the people involved. Luckily they all seem to be OK and in good humour. Respect!

Good Luck in putting it all back together again!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Road Trip

Normally, I perfer trains and airplanes to get to work: More time to think. Taking the car to work generally means getting stuck in traffic.

But last week we drove 2800 KM across the Alps. A drive on which we visited the SIOUG, Venice and Salzburg. All Highly recommended. Work can be such a pain...

Driving towards the Alps takes a while, but on approach, you get these rewarding views:

The SIOUG is held in a very nice location on the Slovenain coast. A great place to take your other half. I'm already pondering my submission for next year (The barely visible conference venue is located on the far-right corner of the picture):

The SIOUG can be blogged on the "work blog", but for a seemingly small country, it is a surprisingly Large Event with 500+ delegates. On a personal note I can say it was a Good Idea to bring the Mrs along. She was able to take valuable notes at sessions where I could not attend myself, and provided me with some interesting comments on my own presentations.

Venice was Beautiful, Romantic, and wet. The Mrs bought a pair of wellies on day 1. For someone from a country where the sea is an ever-waiting menace (link to 1953?), it is ennerving to see how the Plazza San Marco simply inondates during high-tide. I am glad I've seen Venice before it risks sinking into the sea (it does give that impression!).

Salzburg, the birthplace of W.A. Mozart, is simply Beautiful. Highly recommended. Very well kept and organized. And a lovely place to take your Partner.

nb: the Mrs has the camera and all the pictures are stil on Her laptop.
But then, no matter how careful you take the pictures, there are always nicer ones on the web.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Touting for Business

For the moment, October is heating up with a very full Agenda.

Remember, I must also bring in some bacon for my bosses. Hence keep an eye on my billability. Combined with various other activities and just-one-more-presentation popping up, It looks like October is counted for.

November, by contrast looks Quiet. First three weeks of November see a surprising drop in demand (demand for my services, that is). I am looking forward to doing some Research and Development, and to refresh my Hands-On experience.

But... as a good consultant, with respect to Shareholder value (not to mention my managers-managers-bosses who want to retire early) I should be charging my time Adding Value to some Customer (Mind you, November, and I'm stocked up on firewood...)

Anyway, need to get serious. Hence this simple Tout:

Hire Me. (in November)

I can poke fun at your vendors.
I can make your Architects Cringe.
I can make your DBA's laugh (or cry)

Simply put: I am an Oracle DBA.
For more of my credentials: see the right-hand side of this blog, or just Google me

NB: No FUD here, I will not stick around to eat all of your budget: I'm booked for the last week of November. Then I'm going to UKOUG (that takes care of 1st week of December), and then I'm booked for at least one week in December. And Christmas is approaching.

After the Holidays, I already have Various part-time commitments for January and February, so that looks good (to my manager).

But November has some space.
Hence the shout.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Broken Laptop - Again

Laptop broke on Tuesday, 13 days ago.
Disk made funny vibrating noises and screen said "non system disk or disk error".

Had to use loaner PCs everywhere to get By.

Had to schedule appointment in a far away location on Monday, now 7 days ago where the helpdesk decided it would not replace my harddisk, as it seemed miraculously repaired barring some "bad sectors".

The lappy kept working throughout the week.

But... This Saturday, after a brief mail check and a brewing a cup of Coffee, I came back to the office-with-the-view to find the same error on my screen.

Shock. HORROR.

After some quiet calls to India, again, (and some in-the-void SHOUTING from pure frustration) I am now waiting for them to direct me to yet another far away location to have another good chat to a helpdesk repair person.

Many thanks to the folks who lend me their PCs. As luck has it, many desks are unused during the holiday season.

NB: the very un-PC image miraculously turned up when Google-images looked for "helpdesk repair".... ?

Friday, June 15, 2007

Layered Approach, sometimes...

One of my current jobs is a typical fix-it-when-it-breaks thing. Various release of The System go "Suck-it-and-see" into testing and then into Live...

So there is me politely telling the developers which queries and constructs (redundant running totals, Locking!) are showing up as problematic in live or test-environments.

I generally add recommendations like: Please include the month as a selection-criteria (all and sundry is partioned on month, sometimes a date, somtimes a yuyymm integer, and a few forgotton exceptions). Or I suggest to add a field to an index to get index-only lookup. And yes, I often suggest IOTs (my Pet Topic!). Great for lookup tables or parent-child constructions with read-mostly data.

Developers/analists/architects then politely refuse to follow my recommendations. and using their obscure business-knowledge, they find plausible excuses such as:

"That will never happen in real-life" (it just did...), or

"That table will never grow bigger" (so why did it just explode ...), or

"that functionlity is never supposed to be used" (love that one: user has entered the wrong menu...), or

"pigs can never sometimes fly, you know..." (yep, if I throw you out of the window and into the river...)

Design for this project is done elsewhere, and we follow a "Layered" approach. That means no database-person gets anywhere near the morons in charge "architectural decision layer", nor does anyone using or operating the system in real-life get consulted.
Because that would not be J2EE compliant, would it ?

I am greatly in favour of "layered" approaches: Cold-weather clothing needs to be layerd to Isolate. All data should be stored in a File - that is a proper, abstract, layer between "data" and "bytes". Hence my desire for a proper Clustere file system to replace the muddling with Raw devices or ASM.

But Isolation is not always a good thing. Sometimes, you need to abandon a few layers to make things work.

Layers of management ?
Only if they stay well out of may way (and out of my margin)

Layers of objects ?
Only if you can afford to do all those JNDI lookups inside your 100ms SLA

Layers of Design-expertise ?
Only if the architects engange the Relevant Expertise. Early.

But then, as the guy opposite my desk repeatedly said: Respect for the zombies. All those incompetent layers of gremlins will always make a mess of things and keep us in a job.

Loose ends

I just got told to update my bloggie-thingy, as is is now a month old. But I have very little content at the moment. And have had to run after all sorts of family- and work-related stuff. More later..

Friday, May 18, 2007

how do you get away with it

All these trips n stuff...
How do you get away with it ?

The honest answer is: I just tried it, and it worked - so far.

But it still amazes me more then anyone. I'll enjoy it while it lasts. My employer is OK with it as long as I fly the company flag (it is yellow).

Here is the plan for December: UKOUG Conference in Birmingham.

I will sound like a vendor myself now, but sometimes one must fight Fire with Fire and FUD with FUD. Independent Usergroups are one important way to keep the marketing-hype from large vendors in check. And these events, where you can call a spade a spade without some mitigating vice-assistant cleansing the slides, can be a real revelation.

This conference, and participation in a usergroup in general is a must for every Oracle Customer. And dont tell the suits, but the Annual Conference is generally a Great Party at that. See my company blog from Last Year for more Serious information on this event.


my tumi...My aim in life is to visit as many places as I can, and preferably get to know places and people by working there. E.g. I didn't get to know Philadelphia by just visiting Liberty Bell and the Rocky-steps on a one-day-drive-by. I actually worked there several times, two or four weeks at a time. I now know how to walk from the Museum to Betsy Ross house. And I now know my way around the King of Prussia.

One way to get around is to present at usergroups and other nerdy-gatherings.
A nice example is the UKOUG mentioned above. I have "submitted" in the hope of getting my blurp accepted. And that will then provide me with a free entry to the conference, my employer with some exposure, and it is a perfect excuse to visit Birmingham.

It worked for me: check the list of links on the Right.

So do me a favour, and mention my name when you click on my employers website...

I'm off to catch another train now...

Thursday, May 17, 2007


To all you occasional viewers.

I've been in too many different places lately.
It was great fun (well, most of it, not all of it) but I'm way behind on updates to the blog.

Will try to post my pictures of the trip to the angel soon.

todo list:
- contact all the interesting folks I met, notably in London.
- submit abstracts for UKOUG brum (two, I now have them written).
- plan/book/arrange trip to Wolverhampton (I found it on the map...)
- file expenses...
- finalize my ppt for the DBF-Scotland.
- update this blog (bottom of the stack)
- post my piccies from the field-trip to the Angel.

Oh, and take some time out to recover.

Edit: I need some quick links, and this a good way to store them:


Databases and Systems

connection pools

Revealing RAC SIG

UKOUG 2006

UNIX SIG jan 2007


Norther Server Day

UKOUG announcement

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Angel of the North

Had you not seen it yet then ?

It looks like it will finally happen. I now have an appointment with a fellow-DBA to go visit "The Angel" to have my piccie taken.

The folks here up north are mighty proud of this gignormous statue. although some say that the iron could also have been used to lay an extra railway track all the way to London. This welcoming Angel stands ready to embrace any Geordie thas has dared to venture down south and is now returning Home.

The structure is extremely visible from both road and rail, and is a great icebreaker. Especially on a busy train, the visiting foreigner should show admiration and awe when passing the Angel.

I tend to say something like "Wow, Indeed, it is Impressive. And Bigger then I thought it would be." One or more of the locals sitting around you will generally react along the lines of "Had you no seen it yet then ?", "you should visit it you know, Like." And this classic: "When it was only just put up, one night they dressed it in a Newcastle United footbal shirt, you know, with the black and white stripes like. Greet Stont, like."

And to show how friendly and open the folks here are, I had several invites: "It is very special you know. And, like, If you want, I can drive you up so you can have your picture taken."

Well, I now have one of those invites set in my agenda. And I hope to be able to show "me piccie" soon. Like. Looking forward to this memorable event!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Planning again.

This week will see Newcastle (work), York (ad-hoc dinner to catch up), Leeds (UKOUG, nice to go back to Leeds, and presenting a paper there too), Newcastle (regular job) and Home (to prepare next months presentations).

Next week will see some clever movements to maximize billable days.
Next month will see various trips to London and Midlands. Life is still interesting.

And we go through great lenghts to keep management and shareholders happy.

The trick is to be in the right country on the right day. To avoid the public holidays and maximize workable, revenue-generating time.

Also of note: the UKOUG has the call for papers out. If you want to go to Birminham, check HERE for your free entry.

This Image.
Just because I adore these Embrears. Sleek, Elegant, Flexible. And space for only 40 odd people, making it a more private experience then the 100 or more cattle herded aboard larger planes.

And you cannot board it via a jetway. You have to walk over real tarmac, through blistering sun or freezing cold, you get to feel rain and wind. You get to smell Rubber and Kerosine. You get to see this elegant piece of engineering from real close-up before you physically climb into it via a real staircase.

Inside, 2 out of every 3 seats are "Window" so you can always look out. In flight, the altitude is high enough to get above the clouds, and low enough to have nice vistas.

This is what travel is about.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's Just Not Cricket!

The following was brought to us via Chris.
If he is not developing Web-, SOAP-, Java- and XML-based solutions for various Customers of [multinational] or [high-tech-gurus] he is glued to his DataCard equipped Laptop to follow events in the Windies.

Over the past few weeks, the small islands of the West Indies have been
invaded by the Cricketing greats! One of the most eagerly awaited
matches of the tournament, namely England and South Africa, was a tragic
disaster for all but the Winners. Much had been said about this game.
The big spat between Graeme Smith, the South Africa captain, and Kevin
Peitersen, the ex-South African turned England number one batsman, was
hyped up in the media. Kevin was itching to take the fight to Smith,
who returned the favour by taking a superb catch at mid wicket to send
Pietersen on his way for just three runs! England's demise was firmly
on the cards and with only 154 runs on the board, the Big match was
turned into a display of school boy errors. With South Africa wielding
the bats for the second half, Smith and de Villiers set about
dispatching what the bowlers were offering. And with just one wicket
down, South Africa raced to 157 runs in less than 20 overs. How could
this be a tragic disaster I here you say? For starters England's hopes
of World Cup glory have been shredded. The supporters who followed
their teams to and anticipated strongly contested battle were left with
an empty afternoon and a ticket stub. The last few games are just a
formality. How the stands will be empty for all but Australia vs New
Zealand. The world wide television coverage and advertising revenues.
Big games get the big sponsors. With such a short second session,
television viewers started switching over. Lastly a disapointment for
the West Indies. The hotels will now be empty of Cricket fans, but for
those few supporters of the top four teams. The final game between
England and The West Indies a mere formality. A great day at the office
for the South Africans, who have been lacking form in the tournament,
but for a sad day for everybody else I'm afraid to say! Unless, like me
you are South African! So Come on Boys, bring home the Trophy!!!



Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The climate to travel

Would I have caused it ?

Does my weekly commute also contribute to this global-warming phenomenon ?

If so, then I will now do something very un-PC: I'm going to Enjoy a wee moment sitting in the sun on Quayside or Millenium-bridge to enjoy the weather.

I sometimes sit there till the sun sets...
Possibly reading or tweaking on my lappy for an article, a report or a bloggie, sometimes just feeling lucky while I still can.

Click on the "My View" link to the right, and see if you can spot me ...

Have a Good Day!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

chocolate and jets

Chocolate, because everyone came back from Easter with a craving for more choccies. If you want to benefit from quality-chocolate regularly, join Hotelchocolat.co.uk. They have chocolate in many styles and flavours and will take your money to put gifts together for every occasion you fancy.

Or just ask someone who commutes to Belgium to bring you some supplies. It can be Intense and Sensational.

And Jets. My commute to work is hugely inconvenienced by the new flight-schedules introduced by my current carrier. NetJets.com would solve a lot of the hassle.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Jokes and sponsors

This should become the meta-page for jokes and funny-links. Jokes will attract traffic, which will make the sponsoros happy.

The local Brew in Toon-on-TynesideChris started it: he sent me a mail recently requesting to put jokes on the blog. I'll gladly oblidge. His first suggestion was very appropriate for Newcastle: it was a beer joke.

But as this blog is either about Travel (fun) or about my professional life (should also have a large fun-component), I'll try to limit the jokes to topics related to Travel.

More Jokes and Suggestion welcome.

Beer turns you into a Woman!

Last month, scientists released the results of a recent analysis that revealed the presence of female hormones in beer. Men should take a concerned look at their beer

The theory is that beer contains female hormones (hops contain phytoestrogens) and that by drinking enough beer, men turn into women.

To test the theory, 100 men drank 8 pints of beer each within a 1 hour period. It was then observed that 100% of the test subjects:

1) Argued over nothing.
2) Refused to apologize when obviously wrong.
3) Gained weight.
4) Talked excessively without making sense.
5) Became overly emotional.
6) Couldn't drive.
7) Failed to think rationally
8) Had to sit down while urinating.

No further testing was considered necessary.

Note by PdV: did they do a comparison-test by having 100 other men drink water ? or red wine ?

The next two jokes are shamelessly stolen from Mr Cockrane.

The Parrot
A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could think of to "clean up" the bird's vocabulary.
Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the parrot got angrier and even ruder.

John, in desperation, threw up his hand, grabbed the Bird and put him in the freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute. Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer.

The Parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behaviour." John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behaviour, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Maxims for the Internet Age

  • Home is where you hang your @
  • The e-mail of the species is more deadly than the mail
  • Speak softly and carry a cellular phone
  • Too many clicks spoil the browse
  • The geek shall inherit the earth
  • What boots up must come down
  • Virtual reality is its own reward
  • A user and his leisure time are soon parted
  • There's no place like http://www.home.com
  • Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to use the Net and he won't bother you for weeks

  • Monday, April 02, 2007

    Dunes, Wind, Sand, Beaches

    The past weekend was spent on a family reunion and a visit to my roots.

    We hit the area before the Easter holiday rush had started, and it was lovely, quiet, and very relaxing. Get an impression of the scenery Here

    A recommended Break or Holiday destination. But to really benefit from it: Avoid the peak-times.

    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Plans and more Links

    The Plan for next three months is now approved, and all bookings are confirmed.

    Work-wise, this week is a Quiet-ish. Waiting for rollout of a new version, but that seems to stall a bit.

    That gives me time to do some research for an upcoming paper in Edinburgh for the Miracle Scotland Database Forum.

    And Luckily, I have Chris sitting opposite and we can exchange jokes. Chris just "queried" the blog. We can link to one-another. His links are Here.

    Huh ? Wow!

    And we also had good laughs at these guys.

    I should also really be doing my expenses. Sigh.

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Bookings, Savings...

    Our travel agent sends out an email for each itinarary or each booking.

    Normally, I just open the "travel" folder in the mail, and from the mail-subjects I know when and where to go.

    The mail doesnt contain the exact intinarary, however. It contains a weblink to the page with the complete details. The mail alone is therefore not enough. That is normally only a minor problem: just connect to the internet, type the relevant data in www.viewtrip.com, and presto.

    Not so for April, May and June.

    For starters, I seem to have very little mails for the coming weeks. Did I forget to request the bookings ? Bank-holiday-confusion again ?

    But it gets worse:
    I click on all the links, nothing makes sense. From some trips I dont seem to return, or leave. How do I get from Helsinki to Leeds ?

    Help - When/where am I supposed to go ?

    I puzzle through all the mails, I start making notes, and end up composing a calendar in my own spreadsheet. For starters, I only got half the number of expected mails. And most of the mails have a title that is off by 1 week from the
    actual reservation inside (click, surprise: other dates pop-up..???).


    Travel-agency is understaffed and overworked, so phone-hell awaits. When I finally get to a person (a very friendly one, but audibly busy), she explains: It is not the fault of the agent (do I care?) It is the consequence of a demand by my employers' bookkeepers. They have tried to get cheaper deals on "combined bookings" (I care even less, but I can sense trouble).

    But the combined-bookings have failed in one of the systems, and had to be re-done (Now I care - I feel sorry for her, she had to do all this work, and she has explained this Many, Many, Many times).

    As a result, in my emails, I only get to see half the data. It is a known problem, and she will send me new, complete, mails for every itinarary by COB (now I care: we are moving towards resolution).

    At my insistant request, she did verify (and sort-of-convinced me) that my bookings were all (re-)done as planned and requested (I care a lot!). I should be ok for seats. It is just the email-notification that hasnt come through yet.

    Moral of the Rant: Penny wise and pound foolish !

    This has kept several people quite busy for several hours each:

    - The bookkeeper to come up with the idea (he probably had to get it reviewed, risk-analyzed, and approved by various manager too. They all mean well, they are just pointed towards the wrong problems. Consider applying that brainpower to knitting tea-cosies for charity. It might cause less damage).

    - The ladies at the agent who had to do and re-do my bookings.

    - The IT-jockeys at the travelagent who build and later fixed the systems, not to mention the semi-automatic mails.

    - Myself, in major panic for two hours, afraid to be marooned in an inhospitable climate.

    - The ladies at the agent, again, when they had to explain it all to me (and 420 others?), and who then had to double check everything to get me (only half) convinced that it is all OK now. Maybe others would be more trusting, I'm just a suspicious bugger.

    - Most Important: My friendly assistant who though the whole plan was done and dusted, but who will now recieve 13+ more semi-automatic emails to file away. I've already tried to explain it in an email, but I can sense a follow up by phone, and a box of choccies (hm, that box of choccies would have been done anyway).

    I'm still awaiting the mails with new confirmations though.

    On a more positive note: It was a Beautiful Day today.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    Trains - Need a newspaper

    Yiihaaa. This cowboy is riding again. Trains, that is.

    (insert picture of romantic Western Train ... nah, too lazy)

    Sunny. Crisp weather. Smell of spring.
    The gentle clickety-rolling of wheels on the pavement.
    The comfortable feeling of my Trusted Tumi-trolley handle in my hand,
    the gentle hugging of the laptop-backpack on my right shoulder.
    The familiar noises and smells of the messy real-world-crowd of train stations.

    The only discomfort is the visibility of the mobile-screen: I like to know who's calling before answering. Mental note: increase brightness - screw battery-life.

    The Train-parts of the journeys may be less glamourous, but trains and stations feels less sterile then planes and airports. This is much more "real world". And the seats are more comfortable then on planes. More breathing space, more fresh (?) air. There are less queueing moments (even at Eurostar), and more thinking/working opportunities (especially at Eurostar).

    Note when I finally got to internet: If trains get cancelled, you can generally take the next one. My flight got cancelled, and I ended up in the wrong city. Oh well: nice trainride ahead tomorrow. More time to think.

    I'm Grateful for the thinking-time. Short hops, or Cattle-class long-hauls flight are not a good place to think, as I could find out again last week. And I have a lot of stuff from the last weeks to catch up on, and a lot of notes that still need action, despite two days of pretending-to-work-from-home-ptr.

    Minor Niggle: This afternoon, I forgot to bring a newspaper.
    Not to read.
    I'm reading/writing on my lappy most of the time.
    I need the paper to kick off my shoes and put my feet on the opposite seat.
    True Cowboy Style.

    Friday, February 16, 2007

    working hard

    Today I'm working from a ski-resort at 3000m altitude.

    We are four nerds grouped around a wooden table, and there are some more wondering around the house (one of them has a case of altitude-sickness, headache - and not because of what he drank yesterday)

    And as all pistes are closed due to excessive winds, that is quite acceptable. I'm not so sure where I'd have been if the weather had been better though.

    Life can be a bitch.

    Saturday, February 10, 2007

    EuroStar Shines

    This Months "Duh" goes to BMI and partly to our travel-agent.

    For the second time in 2 months, my flight from Leeds-Bradford got cancelled due to weather. BMI will do NOTHING. Customers are told that a refund "will be made" and are sent home (or rather: sent away).
    Staff could reluctantly book some people on the Sunday-Evening flight, 48 hrs later. Most of us were planning to come back to Leeds by then, rather then to fly out belatedly. "Or you could try finding an flight via the internet, sir..."

    Some of my fellow victims were lucky, They had a travel-agent that was still listening to them at 20:00 UK time. Our agent closes after 1700 Euro-time, and the backup-numbers cant help you, as they close 1 hour later...
    Some lucky bastards were able to snap up the last five seats on a plane from Manchester the next morning. I hope they didnt get stuck in snow on their way to MCS.

    First, I needed a base to work from, a place to stay.

    Full Respect to Katya, Shift-leader at the Leeds Marriott front-desk: As opposed to the call-centre-reservation-scripted-staff, Katya recognized my voice, and understood the situation immediately. Her hotel, my regular pad in Leeds, was fully booked. But it only took her 10 min to sort me out: She called around and secured me options on rooms in 3 different competing hotels under my name. The first positive point: for beds, at least, I was now Spoiled for choice. Thus I was able to help two other victims to secure a bed for the night. Katya has again earned every chocolate-box I ever brought over.
    Katya, You are a Class Lady: Expect a large box on 13 Mar!

    Taxis at the airport were rare, as the snow had reduced traffic. After a long queue-wait, I found a couragous driver. By the time I got to the hotel and on the internet, I was no longer able to secure a seat on any alternate flight anymore. The ppl who could litterally Phone-an-Agent had probably taken them all.

    Normally, I would have taken a weekend-break in the UK, but I was scheduled to leave for the US on Monday-morning. I had to get home, somehow ...

    Eurostar to the rescue.

    Next morning: Up at 05:00, taxi at 05:30, and was on the 06:10 GNER to London. Very little delays on the main line, I guess it was the right kind of snow... A surprisingly busy Kx for a Saturday morning, what was happening ??
    Underground schedule slightly upset due to "engineering works" but manageable. However, Waterloo station was Chaos: too many people, families with kids and skis, queuing for security. And the security-area, actually the whole terminal, is designed pre-9/11, pre-7/7, and in general pre-Extreme-Checks. A long queue tailed back up the stairs. That didnt look good. but the Premier-queue was very short. I decided to take a comfortable ticket. It worked, I whisked through with a ticket for the 10:42 and I hit the lounge with 20 min to spare (20 min free internet!). Finally had brunch on the train.

    Oh cuddly comfort: The more posh coaches on Eurostar are Great! The service was Excellent, the food was ok for on-the-road, and there was lots of SPACE. The only thing missing was wifi. But I'll took that as a bliss: at least my thinking process was not distracted by compulsive surfing. I did make notes of a whole list
    of items to verify-when-online.

    A proper Eurostar ticket includes a free ride to "any station in Belgium", so the that was also sorted. A rapid connection at Bxll-Midi ensured I got on the earliest possible train East. For the next 36 hrs, I am Home - where the heart is.

    Thursday, January 18, 2007


    So you wanted a link...

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    Saturday, January 13, 2007

    Flight Cancelled.

    Due to hard wind...

    In that case, the airline seems to get away with doing absolutely Nothing for you, as it is not their responsability.

    The offered alternatives were such that I would be able to make it home just about the time when I'd have to leave for the next trip. So I decided to go for re-emboursement and spent a weekend abroad.
    Very Relaxing.

    Oh, and the money and the changes to the next trip:
    Well, agent at the airport cannot hand that over to you but if you contact your travel agent on monday, I'm sure they will sort it out for you.
    Yeah... We'll see.


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    Locations of visitors to this page And this text is placed next to the map. we could possibly hide some stuff here too for the benefit of the search-engines and if it is at color ffffff cam we put all sort of rubbish that we do not want readers to see. travel itinirary reservation ticket agent flight plane boarding attendant train connection rail ticket wait time booking flight boardingtime taxi ramp luggage suitcase trolley wheely laptop bagpack corpaorate wifi connection oracle. it will also be interesting to see what happens when this wrap around. or even if we put in spherus and worwood as additional word.