Month: September 2015

I should eat less cake.

I like food. I couldn’t see myself giving it up to any degree. As such, I endeavour to do enough exercise to counteract the amount of food I shovel into my face. Recently, however, I’ve been eating out a lot (all these social events are hard work!), and I’ve been loking at my belly thinking I need to sort it out. I came up with a plan to to more exercise.

The plan was simple – get up earlier in the morning, and do one of my DVDs. My current favourites for quick workouts are Jillian Michaels ones – 30 Day Shred and Ripped in 30, respectively. The next part was to possibly start jogging on my lunch break at work. All followed up by my usual routine of getting home and doing my DVD before sitting down and getting comfortable.

You know what they say about the best laid plans?

My alarm goes off in the morning, and I think to myself ‘sod that’, reset it for an hour later, and go back to sleeping. The lunchtime jogging has yet to start, as I’ve been taking myself on little adventures around the office attempting to determine a running route I’ll like. While a walk around is better than not going for a walk, it’s not quite fitting in with my intention. The only exercise I’m still managing is the part I was doing anyway – the DVD immediately upon getting home.

I guess I’ll just have to start eating less cake.

Either Political Correctness gone mad, or there is an ugly truth here.

Throughout the news today, it’s been difficult to not stumble across an article about Charlotte Proudman – a lawyer who has publicly named and shamed a LinkedIn member who sent her a message that she deemed inappropriate on that platform. Here’s just one of the articles for those who haven’t seen it yet.

Now, I’ve never received a message like this myself on LinkedIn. Given that she mentions that she has received a number of messages along the same line though, I can see how it would be wearing thin to the point of her choosing to do what she has done – which is take it public. This has resulted in people telling her to not use a profile picture. Or to change it. The picture itself reveals no body parts, and is professionally done. I feel this misses the point. Her looks should be having no bearing here – this is happening on LinkedIn, for goodness sake! What’s she supposed to do here, leave a message at the top of her profile saying ‘Please do not comment on my looks’? She shouldn’t need to! That strikes me as similar to messages I’ve seen on dating profiles – ‘Please send no naked pictures or requests for one night stands’. From my own forays into the online dating world, I can say two things – first, it doesn’t work. You still get silly requests. Second, it also results in abusive messages pointing out you’re not good enough for a one night stand anyway.

You really cannot win. Not even on LinkedIn, it seems.

Personally, I would have just ignored a message like the one Charlotte Proudman received, out of fear for the kind of backlash she is currently getting over this. It’s like she says – ‘My voice hasn’t been heard – instead, what has become the content of the messaging is again my body.’ Just reading some of the comments on these news sites proves her point. She’s getting a lot of comments along the lines of ‘Perhaps she would be happier to be called an ugly cow.’ and ‘I’m sure she chose the picture that made her look the most attractive….attention seeking or what ????’.

So, as for the offending comment that started all this. Here’s a very small excerpt of it:

‘I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture !!!’

A compliment? Yes. However, a compliment sent on what is billed as a professional connections website. Which does make the above, however well intentioned by the sender, inappropriate, especially given the context of being a new connection. In addition – the man who sent this compliment even acknowledged, right in this quote, that he knew he probably shouldn’t be sending it.

All sorts of mud can be slung over this whole thing, rightly or wrongly. I’m not going to join in on that. What I do have to say on this whole sorry thing is as follows:

Keep your messages to the appropriate platform. Like Charlotte Proudman says, LinkedIn is not a dating site.

If you feel the need to preface a message to someone you don’t know with any variation of ‘I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but…’, you’d be better off not sending it.

As much as I’m all for not taking offence for the sake of it, just watching the backlash leaves my sympathies firmly with Charlotte Proudman on this. Was she supposed to be honoured by a compliment on her personal appearance, from someone she doesn’t know, on a professional connections website, without getting irritated that her professional skills are being overlooked? If nothing else, this news item is shining a light on what is still an ugly truth, it seems, across various apparently modern, westernised and *cultured* work industries. Which seems to be that you’re only worth as much as your looks if you dare to attempt to present yourself professionally. Or not.

As for the man who sent Charlotte Proudman this message – at his age, and working in the industry he does, he should know by now how easy it is for words to be misconstrued in written form.

I need a majestic steed.

A silly lunch time conversation about pet axolotls led to winding up a colleague about how big an axolotl can grow.

This in turn led to the below awesomeness.

Cartoon representation of me majestically riding a giant axolotl.
Cartoon representation of me and my axolotl.

I would look simply majestic rocking into the car park at work riding a giant axolotl. See how happy we both look?

Yeah. 😀

Training vs Learning

Having recently started a new job, I have been subjected to all sorts of training. This got me thinking about the value of training vs learning.

Now, none of this is to say that all the training I have received over the last few weeks has been useless to me, or that I learnt nothing from it. A couple of the training sessions were actually incredibly useful, and packed full of information that I can carry forward with me. However, I cannot deny that some of the training I received was somewhat lackluster, and well – a complete waste of time.

So, I’ve ended up putting some of the training into categories in my own head.

The health and safety training firmly comes under the heading ‘box ticking exercise’. This is generally the kind of training that’s common sense. Such as ‘don’t lift more than you can manage’, ‘look both ways before crossing a busy road’, ‘don’t stick your fork in a plug socket’ kind of stuff. I’d argue that this is the kind of training that only people who actually deserve some kind of Darwin award or small children actually require. It sucked hours of my time away from far more productive things, while I sat there watching someone read the bleeding obvious from some PowerPoint slides. Yawn. That said, I am now fully qualified to pick up a box of paper. Apparently. I have yet to receive my shiny certificate proving this – although I’m sure that someone somewhere now has a document that they can point to explaining that I was fully health and safety trained, and thus avoid legal claims should I manage to somehow kill myself with a nicely labelled hot cup of coffee.

The next category comes under software training. This was useful to a point – it required participation, and the extra information gleaned from the presentations wasn’t just being read by rote from a PowerPoint presentation or booklet. That said, there was little here that I hadn’t already figured out through playing with the software myself. I guess this is the fuzzy ground between being trained on something and actually learning it. Not a complete waste of time, but definitely something I could just pick up on my own.

Finally, we come to actual job training. Being pointed towards specific functions of a .dll or development kit, with examples of usage, was incredibly useful given the lack of documentation. This is the kind of the training that I don’t see as a waste of time. It’s not information that can be found on google. The stuff was new, all in an area I had been previously unknowledgeable about. To anyone making training courses – more of this please. Hands on stuff that requires both learning and being taught is going to hold attention through the virtue of being both interesting and relevant.

Sadly, the majority of the training I have received in recent years mostly falls into the top two categories. It seems that training has become synonymous with being lectured by Captain Obvious, or covers things that I could figure out quite easily for myself. This is frustrating, as I’d much prefer that training be about learning – it would certainly feel more valuable on a personal level, and demonstrable at a professional level.

TL;DR – If you’re not learning anything on a training course, it’s probably a waste of time for everyone.

It’s all about the winning.

I was away at my Aunts wedding this weekend.

It was fabulous to be at an event with my family. However, as one of the only female unmarried relatives remaining, I was coerced into joining the throng of other single ladies to catch the bouquet after the ceremony. Given that traditionally, catching the bouquet means that you are supposedly the next to get married, I wasn’t too interested in catching it.

However, I do like winning. There was a prize to be had, and I have ever been a competitive spirit.

CaughtTheBouquet

That picture would be me being a somewhat graceless winner. Turns out I have the reflexes of a jedi or something, as I reached up and the bouquet just landed in my hand.

I have yet to hear the end of if from my family.

Oops.

Congratulations again to my Aunt and new Uncle! Have an awesome honeymoon. P.S. I still have no intention of getting married. Neener neener!

My 5 Favourite Books

It’s some list sunday! I figured that today, I would share my all time 5 favourite books, because – why not? I am an avid book reader, but there are some that I always come back to.

  • Wild Magic – Tamora Pierce
    • This is *the* book that got me into the whole fantasy genre. It’s the first in a series that follows a girl who possesses magic that allows her to talk to animals. Also, she gets a pet dragon along the way.
  • Guards! Guards! – Terry Pratchett
    • The book that introduced me to the Discworld Series. Enough said.
  • The Fires of Heaven – Robert Jordan
    • Book 5 of The Wheel of Time series. This one was one of my favourites, as it’s when shit got real.
  • Polgara the Sorceress – David Eddings
    • This is the story of my favourite character from the Belgariad series. I like David Eddings work, as it has the comforting element of knowing that none of the good guys are in any actual real peril. Sometimes, you need that!
  • The High Lord – Trudi Canavan
    • The last book in the  Black Magician trilogy. I love the worlds that Trudi Canavan creates. This follows a girl who ends up learning the forbidden Black Magic, due to an unfortunate series of events.

Why I love my job

I decided I wanted to be a computer programmer from a very early age. This was a decision that changed briefly when I toyed with the idea of going into psychology, but ultimately – programming and coding is where it’s always been at for me.

The main draw for me isn’t just knowing that I am in control of a machine on some level. Let’s face it – all programmers are control freaks on some level, so it goes without saying. Mainly, it’s just how quickly it all keeps changing. When I first discovered programming. it was on my Dads old ZX Spectrum. I wrote out reams and reams of code on A3 sheets of yellow paper, before patiently typing it all in and watching my code run. We were short on tapes, so this really was the best method for me at the time.

Fast forward to college, and I started to learn Visual Basic 6. University introduced me to programming concepts, such as the Waterfall Model, Object Orientated programming.

The real world introduced me to Test Driven Development, WPF and .Net. The key thing here is that much of the knowledge I have gained – even over the last 10 years – very quickly becomes obsolete. I haven’t touched Visual Basic 6 for years, and the Waterfall Model is scoffed at in favour of Agile methodologies.

That is why I will always love my work. It’s constantly changing, I am constantly learning, and that keeps everything fresh as I get to put my mind to keeping up with the curve. This all stops me getting bored with doing the same old, same old.

I can hardly wait to see what the technology will advance to in the next 10 years.

My Dirty Secret

When I get to talking about the Final Fantasy series with fellow gamers, one thing always comes out – every one *loved* Final Fantasy 7, and it seems to be held up as the epitome of the series.

I confess – as much as I loved Final Fantasy 7, 9 is still my favourite. I should probably explain why.

Zidane is just a little bag of awesome. Throughout most of the story, he’s happy and upbeat, which was a welcome change from the brooding of Cloud and Squall. And although the storyline of 7 is definitely stronger – I like happy characters. The depressed tone of the other leads gets old fast. I never understood how Tifa, Aeris and Rinoa could have such a girl crush on such miserable characters. It made no sense to me.

That said, for the most part, I have loved most of the offerings from the Final Fantasy series.I 100% completed most of them across multiple playthroughs. The only one I really didn’t get on with (and didn’t bother getting 100% on) was 12. It was far too grindy trying to get the ultimate weapons. I think this was the moment that I realised achievement hunting was probably a waste of my time. I’d just spent 3 hours of my limited free time running around one area trying to get an item to drop from enemies 3 times, and asked myself – why am I doing this? I’m not currently enjoying myself. This is all rather silly.

And thus ended my love affair with the series. Don’t get me wrong – 13 was fabulous. I really enjoyed the character of Lightning. But now, I’m not so gung ho about getting the 100% completion of all the secret bosses, ultimate weapons, etc, because I just don’t want to devote my time to grinding levels or hoping for a random rare drop. I did still get the 100% on 13 though, because it didn’t make the mistake that 12 made – it just wasn’t so grindy, and thus, kept me engaged.

For the TL:DR crowd – I preferred 9 over 7 and 8, because the main character was not a complete emo. And that is pretty much it.

At the Eden Project

Over the bank holiday weekend, I got to visit the Eden Project for the first time.

2015-08-31 17.40.00

I was lucky enough to see (and smell!) a Corpse Flower blooming, which was great since I missed one blooming back where I live due to being away on the weekend when that flowered. These things only bloom for 48 hours, so it’s not something you easily get to plan or see up close. They can take up to 6 *years* to bloom. All in all, pretty awesome stuff.

I could talk more about the awesomeness at the Eden Project, but there was some disappointment to be had, which is what I wanted to natter about in this post.

The problem with the Eden Project – people. Selfish, unthinking people who just don’t seem to *get* what the folks at the Eden Project are doing. I was so disappointed to see – especially in areas like the Rainforest Biome – that people had just dropped their litter on the paths, in among the rare rainforesty plants, and in the water features. Some people have even etched graffiti into the leaves of the cacti in the Mediterranean Biome. It made me so angry, because who does that?!?  Why pay money to go in and visit a place that is dedicated to showcasing rare and beautiful flora and fauna, a place that is attempting to preserve that which is endangered, just to mess it up with mindless vandalism and sheer laziness? Where is the flipping respect for the lessons there?

This is why I sometimes hate people. And this is probably why we don’t get to have nice things.

I would highly recommend checking out the Eden Project. Just don’t be an arse, and put your litter in one of the *many* bins that are dotted about the place. And no one should have to tell you that etching your name into a plant is not a cool thing to do. If you are the kind of person who needs to be told something so basic, then do the place a favour, and stay away until you have learnt the difference between right and wrong.

I need a holiday.

I just spent a long bank holiday weekend in Cornwall with the bloke and his daughters. This is the second time I have seen his children, and there was still an element of ‘what if this is when they decide they hate me?’ going through my mind. Before heading out, I looked at my failed attempt to grow coriander indoors, and began to wonder if I was going to accidentally kill the blokes children in much the same way.

Newquay - Fistral Beach
Newquay – Fistral Beach

I need not have worried so much. Not only are children in general fairly resilient, it turns out I double up quite well as a mobile climbing frame, story teller, bridge troll, pack mule, defender from dinosaurs, sand splat builder, mobile computer game source and general silliness provider. So, no watering required.

I’m too old to grow up.

In addition, I can highly reccommend having a 6 year old attached to your hip/back/shoulders for extended periods as very good exercise. I feel like I’ve done an all-over workout.

I’m back home now. I think I need a holiday.