lnr: (Icknield Way)

The most obvious thing this week is that it's been my last week at work. Very little actual work remained that still needed doing - though Caroline had me having a go at the written test and programming test they've devised for the interview candidates for my maternity cover, to get an idea as to whether they were aimed at around the right level and would take the right sort of time. It was surprisingly fun. She also found me another useful little bit of perl script to write for her too so I spent rather more time writing code than usual - nice easy stuff :) My maternity cover job has now finally been advertised too - closing date 18th February if anyone might be interested. The week finished on Friday with my lovely colleagues surprising me with a big tray of pink and blue cupcakes and a lovely card and box of chocs. Obviously not knowing which colour bun was the right one I had to have one of each :) I shall miss them over the next year definitely, it's going to be very strange not getting up for work tomorrow morning!

Yesterday, despite it being the weekend, we were up fairly bright and early to pack up some lunch before heading into town (into a mildly fierce headwind) for the first session of our NCT ante-natal classes. It was quite a long day really 10 til 4 without only half an hour (by agreement) for lunch - but we packed a lot in. It was lovely to meet 7 other couples all of whom are also expecting their first babies in March. It looks like we're all hoping to give birth at the midwife led birthing centre at the Rosie hospital too. Lots of information to take in, but Sian, the class leader, has promised to email us all lots of info. We've got a breastfeeding session to come on Wednesday, and then another long day next Saturday too. With it being a class right in the middle of town there's quite a spread of locations around Cambridge for people to have come from - but it's nice to know that there'll be at least one mum in Shelford that I'll know in advance :) Have promised to let her know the details of the bumps and babies class that apparently runs in the village once I manage to get hold of them myself.

After our class we had a bit of a wander over to the retail park not far from Mill Road to take a look at pushchairs/buggies. Steph and Dave did offer us their Silver Cross pram, but we've decided it's a little big to be practical for us, and Mike really quite fancies spoiling us with a new one anyway. We're a bit torn between going for a simple buggy, which works out the lightest and most compact option - not to mention the cheapest, or going for something which can do front and rear facing positions and has nice big wheels for off road use. The Quinny Buzz 3 is quite tempting. We also need to think about whether we need to get a car seat even though we don't have a car - possibly just so we can get baby home from the hospital in a taxi! Though one of the couples yesterday did very kindly offer us the long-term loan of one which their brother-in-law had given them, as it was spare. Sending me home in a taxi and letting Mike walk with a pushchair would be one solution, but a bit weird :) Does anyone know if there are local taxi firms who can provide car seats themselves? Though if so would we trust them?

Bump is now 35 weeks old, and reportedly around 46cm long and 2.4kg in weight - about the same as a honeydew melon. Of course by this point the weights are all going to be very much averages - as all babies come out a bit different. I still seem to have a pretty compact bump for this stage of pregnancy really, but am measuring the right size for my stage, and everything else was well at my last midwife appointment on Monday too. They're coming thick and fast now with only just over a week until my next one - and I'm waiting to hear back from the GP practice nurse as to when I can have my whooping cough jab too.

Not much more exciting has been happening this week. We saw very few birds in the garden for the birdwatch - probably because the weather had got so much nicer they didn't need our food supplies so desperately any more. The bedside tables have gone, leaving us with more space in the living room, and we enjoyed our haggis :) We bought a new shower curtain too - so exciting :) Mike and I have been mostly chilling out, watching DVDs and reading (him) and knitting (me). I finally finished my giant fuchsia pink mohair shawl which has been going since 2005! And I've just started crocheting a pram cover for baby Snape too. I expect I shall spend much of next week crocheting and reading and playing computer games - though I'm going to try and make it to the gym for a swim a couple of times too if I can. Got some union stuff on Wednesday too which I will still go to since for now I'm only on annual leave not maternity.

Big shawl

lnr: (Icknield Way)

So on Sunday night afternoon last week it started to snow quite heavily, and Mike and I went out for a fab walk in the snow - which cunningly lasted just long enough that our roast lamb had 2 minutes left to cook when we got in :) Having gone out after dark we didn't take the camera, but were amazed at how much light there was. Walking around nine wells nature reserve we even turned the head torches off, and it was like wandering round in a black and white photo. Beautiful. Monday morning the roads were well covered in snow - a good couple or three inches probably - and it was obvious that even the main roads wouldn't be very clear yet, so rather than push the bike to the end of the road and then cycle I decided to walk and get public transport. At least some trains were cancelled and others late, and the buses were reporting severe delays, so rather than the nearly a mile into the village for a one-every-20-minutes bus which is unreliable at the best of times I decided to take the longer walk to Addenbrookes, where there are *loads* of buses into town to choose from. It's about 2.5 miles, and even with 5 minutes stopping to take photos it took about an hour, which isn't bad! Took Mike's hiking walking stick, which has a nice spike on the bottom, but still had a rather scary moment crossing the road on Macaulay Avenue, where the cars had started to polish the snow into ice already. The photos have all been added to my snow album on Facebook, but here's a quick preview:


Tuesday I decided it would be too icy to be safe, and worked from home. By Wednesday morning it was starting to look a bit clearer outside, and the bin men turned up having failed to come on Monday, so I thought I'd make an attempt to get the bike as far as Hinton Way on foot - and ended up giving up in under 100 yards - it was just *too* slippery to be safe. The road on Macaulay Avenue was like glass, and the pavements were only slightly better in being lumpier! So another day working from home was called for - once I'd got over my fright :) It thawed a bit during the day though, and with the help of my trusty stick I did manage to make it out on Thursday and Friday - with quite a bit of walking on the road where the pavements were icy - and only 20 yards of really difficult stretch on Thursday and 10 on Friday. And despite the forecast there was no more snow overnight, and now the sky is blue, the sun is shining, it's well above zero and hopefully by the time the weekend is over it will all be gone and we can get back to normal :). It has been very beautiful at times - but just a bit too treacherous.


Bump is now 34 weeks old - 2.2kg which is about the weight of a cantaloupe melon, and 45cm long. Next midwife appointment is on Monday - must remember to ask about the whooping cough jab, since they haven't mentioned it to me yet! Our NCT antenatal classes are 10 til 4 next Saturday and the one after - which actually now turns out to be a bit of a nuisance, since we were hoping Evan and Gina could come and visit, and mum and dad wanted to pop down too - and do us a huge favour and bring some baby things from Steph and Dave. I'll be on leave by then though - since this week will be my last week at work - so perhaps we can work something out.

Speaking of work it's been another pretty busy week - some useful scripts written, some more showing Julia of various bits of the postmaster job, some fixing of people's broken email programs (I've gone off Eudora even more than usual) and some success in finding good ways to make other ones work (getting Thunderbird to display more information from our LDAP email directory than previously thought possible). Lots of things ticked off my to-do list, and only a few items remaining - one of which is to have a go at some of the interview questions they're planning to ask my maternity cover! Could be fun, but mildly intimidating :) Apparently the advert should be out early next week. I've also been tidying out my desk and starting to fetch things home - bit of a panic as I thought I'd lost an important key but it turned up again in one of the things I'd brought home. I've been tidying my desktop computer too - and am now busy downloading all the odds and ends of personal stuff that has accumulated at work over the last nearly 11 years. Only about 40 minutes download time remaining :)

Mike and I are still ticking along nicely enjoying the easy life - Les Mis was great last weekend, and we had a nice dinner out too - though it ended up being somewhere else and with a long wait. It turns out all the chain restaurants on the leisure park are insanely busy at around 7pm on a Saturday - who would have guessed! Planning on taking it pretty easy this weekend - some bird watching in the garden for the RSPB, and someone coming to pick up the two bedside tables that have been lurking in the living room for the last couple of weeks :) I bought haggis for Burns Night, but we ended up having something else and it will be our tea tonight instead - yum. All in all life's pretty good.

lnr: (Icknield Way)

So what's new since last week? Well, there's been some rather wintry weather! We woke on Monday morning to a cm or two of snow. It snowed some more during the day but didn't really settle further, and melted quite a bit on Tuesday. On Wednesday we woke to freezing fog - and I cycled to work and back in -4°C! Thursday was even colder, but bright and sunny, and since I was working at home for the day I got the chance to take some pretty photos in the garden but otherwise stay indoors. And Friday we were promised yet more snow - which looked like it meant business when it arrived, but in the end settled less than a cm deep. A bit of an anti-climax really, but at least it meant it's still easy to get about here in Cambridge at least. I took lots of photos.

Frost at dawn

On Sunday BHF came for the furniture - and refused to take the bedside tables because they've been painted. Drat. If anyone wants a pair of large chests of drawers in a nice blue colour and can collect from Great Shelford I can send you photos :) They did take the DVD racks though. I've spent much of the week knitting, and have now pretty much finished my scarf for Mike - I just need to weave in all the loose ends of yarn. I hate that bit! Evan and Gina (who live very near the Welsh border) decided it would be better not to come and visit this weekend - which was probably the right decision given the weather en route, but is still a shame - we shall have to reschedule. This leaves us at a bit of a loose end this weekend - which today at least we shall fill with a walk into town to see Les Mis, have dinner at Nando's and the bus home.

Work has been busy, but productive. Couple of useful scripts written from scratch, though not quite in service yet. A bit of software tested and documented (though again the docs haven't gone live). And some rather intractable problems with Eudora bullied into submission. Only 10 more days left to work! Though in theory I could juggle the holiday around and spread them over more than 2 weeks I think I'm probably just going to get them out of the way ASAP and then enjoy my break!

As of today Bump is 33 weeks old, is up to 44cm long, and weighs 2kg - which is supposed to be the weight of a pineapple, but the one in our kitchen is just under 1.4kg. I clearly need a bigger pineapple. I got the tape measure out too - and I'm now about 43" around the bump! Heartburn continues better than previously, but I'm definitely starting to find the four flights of stairs at work leave me a bit more breathless than they did. And I had a random nosebleed last night - which are apparently more common in pregnancy - I don't think I've ever had a proper one before! Thankfully Mike is an expert :) Still both pretty chilled out about it all - probably need to think about buying a few more things for the baby before long, but there's no rush. 5 to 9 weeks to go!

Addendum: I finished Mike's scarf!

Mike's scarf - finished

lnr: (Icknield Way)

So, since last week we ordered a crib for the bedroom from the NCT. Steph and Dave have kindly offered to let us have Ollie's old cot for when the baby is a bit bigger and moves into their own room - but I particularly like this one as you can securely attach to the side of the bed and lower one side to provide a sort of bed-sharing feature. And even if we decide we don't get on with that it folds up beautifully and has its own carry case too - and is a much better size for our room than a full size cot would be. It arrived on Thursday night (dropped round by our next door neighbour who we hadn't seen in a while and was delighted to hear our news). We've put it up today - very quick and easy and no tools needed!

Bed Nest Crib

Today at 32 weeks we're up to 1.7kg and 43cm long - which is apparently the weight of a fresh coconut. I'm starting to feel really quite *big* now and no doubt that will only accelerate over the next few weeks. Hard to believe there's only 6-10 weeks to go! I'm still feeling mostly well, though very tired. Bump is still wriggling away - which is always reassuring - no matter how well my midwife appointments go I can't help having moments where I worry. But at my last one on Monday my BP was fine, no protein or sugar in my urine, uterus is measuring the right size for the number of weeks, and my blood test results from 28 weeks had come back normal - apparently my iron levels have actually gone *up*. Still gaining weight within guidelines too - though nearer the top end after Christmas for some reason :) All good.

At work I've finally completed the one major project which we wanted to get done before I start my maternity leave - which was to get our new internal mail server into service. It's been running as a test service for quite a while - but now those few users who still have an actual local mail account (mostly test accounts and system accounts) are running on an Exim/Dovecot system on linux, rather than a Sendmail/UW IMAP system on an elderly HP! We had a few teething problems on Thursday when we swapped the delivery over - but it does all seem to be working fine now. I've got just 3 weeks of work left now - and just a few odds and ends of scripting to do, plus continuing to help Julia understand the bits of my role she'll be covering. They do have leave to employ someone as maternity cover, but that won't start until March since before then I'm actually on maternity leave. I think they're still drafting the job description and haven't advertised yet!

Apart from that it's been a pretty quiet week. I've actually made some progress on knitting the scarf for Mike which I originally hoped to have finished by *last* winter. Perhaps it'll be done for next year. BHF had a collection locally, so all the unsold books went out last week (hopefully they arrived to take them away before it rained!). I've also contacted them to take some unwanted furniture so they'll be coming round tomorrow to collect two old bedside tables and two DVD/CD racks. And the latest Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson book has been picked up from the Post Office - finally the Wheel of Time series is complete! Though I'm going to insist on finishing the Tad Williams I'm in the middle of before starting on it.

Looking forward to a quiet week at work next week and then Mike's parents coming to visit next weekend. It will be lovely to see them!

lnr: (Icknield Way)

Had a lovely New Year's Eve with just the two of us - a proper sit down dinner with candles, which is pretty rare for us, and saw in midnight while reading in bed :) Not very exciting but pleasant - and it was a very tasty dinner. New Year's Day I did some leafleting for Slimming World round our street, and then went for a long walk with Mike - 10.5 miles was probably slightly overdoing it to be fair :)


Hobson's Brook and Grantchester

Back to work for just three days this week - which is probably just as well as we've been pretty tired. A fairly useful three days for the time of year though - and it looks like my new mail server will be going into full service early next week - right on schedule. Once that's done that's my last big project before I'm on holiday and then on maternity - but I've got another 4 weeks left to work, and no doubt plenty of odds and ends of stuff to do too, as well as a few more things to document or show Julia before I go.

Taking it pretty easy this weekend - enjoyed some of the CITV Old Skool re-runs of children's TV yesterday and today (Dangermouse has probably been the highlight). Took the Christmas decorations down last night, since that's 12th night. Today on reading of King Cake I got the urge to bake. We looked through the new baking book we got at Christmas, but it turned out we were a bit short of eggs for most things, and it turns out we don't even have enough oats for flapjacks. Back to the G&B book instead and another go at the chocolate brownie recipe, though scaled down to 2/5ths of the recipe. They look good!

Next midwife appointment is tomorrow afternoon - but all seems to be well at the moment. Bump is as wriggly as ever. Beginning to be a bit harder to sleep, but mostly because whichever hip is underneath is feeling a bit weighed-down by the rest of me, which doesn't seem to be something which the usual tips on pillows would address. Heartburn is much more under control though - cutting down fizzy drinks and cutting out coffee definitely seems to have helped. 7 to 11 weeks to go!

lnr: (Default)

Argh, I've got an SQL query which works fine if I run it from Access, and which I think has no errors, but if I try run it from Perl I'm getting an error from the database. Can anyone tell me what obvious thing I'm doing wrong?

code )

Any clues? (Apologies for some long lines, I do intended to split it up a bit more eventually, but at the moment I think it slightly aids readability)

Ah, it seems that in fact the oracle database does *not* support left outer joins, and that the reason it works in Access is because Access translates the query into a form that this version of oracle does support. Many thanks to Paul for popping in to explain (I could have just gone and asked him obviously, but he's been rather busy with exam marking recently). What a nuisance, since this is obviously a much nicer way to do the query than faffing about with a "where not in (subquery)" or similar. (We suspect it is supported in the new version of Oracle Paul's working on migrating to, but sadly I think my code is needed before then).

Double correction: it does support them, but with weird syntax. The following code works:

more code )

lnr: (Default)

When Julia and I recently moved office we took advantage of the new space to buy a kettle and a really small fridge. This means my lunch can now involve such exciting things as pot-couscous and salads which would be a bit grim if left at room temperature until lunchtime. But I still can't manage soup unless I bring a flask, or anything as exciting as a ready-meal or a jacket potato. Still, it means I'm no longer living on sandwiches, soup and crisps from our mini-canteen.

What cooking/catering facilities do *you* have at work? (NB your "canteen" could just be a vending machine). [Poll #1405942]

We still have to do the washing up in the sinks in the Ladies mind, which is mildly off-putting.

lnr: (avatar)

As most of you know I work for the Engineering Dept of Cambridge University, mostly dealing with email related things. We have a bunch of people with a shared role account on hermes, the university mail system. They're using two different mailers to access it, and saving messages in IMAP folders. They're nearing quota, and want to archive old material in a format which is accessible (in particular) in both Outlook and Eudora. We have shared filespace, but could do with ideas as to how on earth to store this mail in a way that they can all access it.

So far it looks like the best answer is to continue to run our own IMAP server, so it can be used for such archives. We were hoping to run it down though. Hermes is hoping to provide larger quotas in future (currently at 250MB default, up to 1G, which this team are already allocated), but don't intend it to be used as an archive.

Will write at some point about a) sisters hen-night and b) moving house, but I'm a bit busy at work this week as a result of b) and will be at a course all next week, so it'll probably have to wait til we have internet at home. Suffice to say: thanks to all who helped, and we're very happy.

lnr: (staring duck)

Ha, I did my sums wrong. I was only 80 quid a *year* better off, and because we had an increment in Mar only 21 quid a year better off at that point, which comes to a sum total of arrears of £28.80.

I guess it'll be a rather smaller celebration! Still, 3% cost of living next month backdated to this will still be welcome. And I skip the next point on the new scale because it would be less than I would have got on the old one at that point.

lnr: (official-photo)

I'm one of the lucky ones. My paperwork has just come through, including the diagrams showing roughly how the new grades match to the old grades. I've been mapped directly across from my old point partway up the COIII scale to the equivalent point partway up new grade 7. This gives me a slight payrise (the scheme was intended to be about 1.5% on average), which if you backdate it to January and take tax off will pay for my new bike and leave a bit over to go out to dinner and celebrate on, and is just in time to be paid in this month's pay packet on Thursday. And in September we'll be getting the normal annual cost-of-living increase, I think that's going to be 3%. That's normally in August so will be backdated by one month too. I'm not even going to do the maths, I'll just wait and see. Being partway up the grade means plenty of space for progression anyway, my colleague John as a COII is also mapped directly across to grade 7, but right at the top of it.

I know other people are still waiting, so *fingers crossed* they're not one of the unlucky ones whose new grade is lower than their old one. There's a guarantee to keep paying them at the current rate for four years, but there go four years of expected increases, and what if you're still "overpaid" at the end of that, do you take a cut at that point? Hopefully there won't be too many of them. But the marking scheme did make it hard for anyone who isn't managing people to come out much higher, so it's a bit worrying for more senior computing staff.


Jul. 19th, 2006 09:03 am
lnr: (ranma-chan)
Dear Ms Blair,
I have the pleasure in informing you that the Appointments Committee for Departmental Computer Officers has agreed to reappoint you as Computer Officer Grade III in the Department of Engineering with tenure from 1 September 2006 to the retiring age.

Hurray! At last.

NB: despite the fancy language this just means I'm now a permanent member of staff, rather than on another short contract or not having my contract renewed at all. Normally it would happen almost automatically after your initial contract runs out, but because I was ill it's been much more uncertain for me.

lnr: (globe (grey))

Elsewhere on LJ a friend said:

A week ago UK university academics rejected a 13.1% pay deal over three years. Last night they accepted an 'improved' offer of 13.1% over three years. Way to go!

As someone who has been involved in the dispute I commented, and I figure I may as well reproduce it here.

The "improved" offer differs in the third year.

In the old version it was fixed at 2.5%. Now it's the higher of RPI or 2.5%, with option of review if an independent study of HE finances and pay says it could be higher. They've also added vague assurances about not pressuring people to catch up on the marking, and on those universities which have done so returning docked pay (given that the work it was docked for not doing will now be being done).

And no, they haven't accepted it yet, they've just agreed to ballot the union members on it, and to suspend the industrial action in the meantime. From what I've seen all of the keen activists will be voting No, it remains to be seen what the rest of the union will think. If they just went with the two year offer leaving the third year to be negotiated later, and made the assurances on docked pay more concrete then I think the union would be more likely to accept.

(It's complicated by the fact the two unions involved have now become one joint union as of last week!)

Offer here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/l/k/2006payagreement06-09.pdf

Commentary here: http://www.ucu.org.uk/media/pdf/r/4/he2006payoffer_commentary.pdf

Gah, they're reporting it in the radio news as being accepted too, even though they mention the ballot. *shakes head at quality of news reporting*

I'm curious to talk to my mum about it actually, as her local union is much more active than I've found things here in Cambridge. And of course since the majority of the Action Short of a Strike has been in not setting exam papers or marking work it's had much more of an affect on her work than it has on mine. She's been under a lot of pressure the last few weeks which has been very much missing for me. It'll be interesting to know if she's relieved to be able to go back to work properly (of course she's still been working fulltime, just on other aspects of her job), or if she thinks it's a sell-out. Listening to the activists mailing list today though has been instructive - they're very cross with union leadership getting even this close to accepting the offer. Surely there must have been *some* reason they didn't hold out for better though? I get the impression that they've been told that if they push for anything more than national negotiation will break down entirely. I guess right now it's just a case of wait and see.

lnr: (Default)

I went along to the rally yesterday, and also talked to my mum about it at the end of the day. She forwarded me a letter which the NUS have put together for students, explaining some of why they are backing the strike. I've turned it from word doc into rough HTML and you can find it here:


I know some people still think that given the average salary of academics appears to be somewhere around 35K (not the > 40K claimed by the UCEA) we're being greedy in asking for more. Consider however that in many cases these academics could be earning more as doctors, lawyers and even in some cases as teachers. Perhaps that's not enough reason. I can't seem to manage to express any better why I think this pay claim *is* reasonable, and I admit I find it very frustrating to be so bad at arguing my point.

I'm kind of sad how small a proportion of the staff in Cambridge are members of AUT though, and how small a rally can be and still be an excellent turnout. I'm glad I showed my support though. And I'll be self-reporting as being on action short of a strike even if they do say they'll dock full days pay for it, despite the fact it make no difference to my work in practice.

My mum also forwarded me the letter which their vice-chancellor sent to all staff about the strike and the consequences with respect to pay. I have to say it's a complete eye-opener when you see how much more reasonable it is than the similar letter I received in Cambridge.

lnr: (red/shades)
Saturday was full, but fun. Read more... )

Sunday morning was thankfully only a little hungover, Read more... )

Today I've been tired, but got to the Docs in the afternoon. Another 4 weeks sick leave, and I have an appt with Occ Health towards the end of that, where I intend to talk about how to go about easing myself back into work. Also agreed to try on 40mg of Citalopram for a while, rather than 60. Can always go back if I find I'm struggling. And Tesco just rang and offered me free delivery on the other case of wine I ordered which was out of stock on Sunday but has now suddenly appeared. Should be arriving on Weds and they'll ring and give me a time when they know. Cool.

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