Posted on 26-07-2014
Filed Under (Just a Thought...) by Steve

Well, its certainly the first for a very long time and by all accounts (and if my recent blogging history is anything to go by), the last for quite some time.

It looks as though my last post was regarding the Citrafleet, probably not the best advert for the medication as it could imply that I took it, reported excellent results and never returned suggesting that all was not as well as I thought and I had perhaps died – Apologies Citrafleet – I stand by the previous post, everything went perfectly.

A quick update of my life so far and since the previous:

So at the time of writing the previous post, I was Rightmove’s senior data analyst and data visualisation expert, a position I held until June 2013 where I took a short contract with KPMG to visualise unstructured data [unstructured: anything that would not normally live in a structured db and more unstructured than Hadoop such as documents, email, sms, phone-calls, graffiti - you name it, if it can be analysed then I did it], then stuck it through Tableau for visual analysis to support prosecution cases for whatever it was that they were looking to prove.

After this stint – it was great and I would have been happy to remain if it wasn’t for the minor inconvenience that it was just too corporate such that I felt that Barclaycard appeared as though it was a start-up. So after this, I ventured into the world of lending and became a senior analyst for a well known financial asset management firm – at least this is what I referred to it as when in confined spaces from which I could not escape such as on the train, in the barbers chair etc; in reality, I was working for the mother-of-all payday lenders – Wonga.com

The culture, the people, the work it was all great, I should like to take a minute to point-out that despite that which is written in mainstream media, Wonga in my opinion does not conform to sharking, ie, if you don’t pay-up, your face-shall remain exactly as it was before the loan, you shall still have your front teeth and your body and body-parts shall be in the exact condition as they were before you defaulted – Wonga aren’t miracle workers either, if you were deaf, blind, had other disabilities prior to taking the loan, then it is likely you shall still have them at the end.
Anyway, off-track a little there, what I’m trying to say is yes, their interest rates for defaulting are stupid high – even I sought to question it when I first saw an advert a full 2 years prior to joining the company, but the point that most people miss is that the percentage is actually the equivalent to 1% per day for each day that the loan is in arrears and interest is only charged for the FIRST 60 DAYS at which point, all further charges are suspended and the final debt is then passed to an external collections agent so you see, you shall, never actually pay 5300% or whatever it is though it is compound interest so it is greater than a maximum of 60% but it is still lower than typical overdraft or credit cards who go-on charging until the balance is completely repaid rather than stopping at 60 days.

My reasons for moving on were simply that despite have loads of very good data, I was still nothing more than a code monkey, writing code to produce mailing lists or returning scalar values, no visualisation there, with the visualisations being handled by the bi devs in Qlikview. These guys (and 1 girl) are great and I still count them amongst my closest friends in Wonga however, they are devs and they build to a spec rather than going with the flow which is why I shall always maintain that unless it is within the mind of the dev to analyse that which they are building, then visualisations and dashboards should be built by clued-up advanced sql-analysts.

Which leads me to my current position and brings me squarely up-to date on the career front: I am now a Tableau dev for Hotels.com – been there for a little over a month and spent the majority of my time optimising one dashboard that at best would open and render in 25 mins, at worse it wouldn’t; now, it opens in 9 seconds or less and renders in under 4 – a victory if I say so myself.

So what else have I been up to?
Highlights in no specific order:

  • Well, bought a gas-bbq and in the first summer of using it had more bbq’s than I had ever attended
  • Went to the Royal International Air Tattoo (riat) 2012, got wet
  • Done quite a bit of hiking
  • Bought a new car (off the forecourt) a 1.0l (don’t be fooled by the small engine factor, it goes like stink) Ford Focus Titanium X (yup top of the range) and I love it especially as it pulls like a 2.0 has all the up-to date tech, start-stop, cruise-control, limiter (which I never thought I’d ever use but actually use daily) heated seats which means that no-one dies when heating them up on those cold winter mornings, electric seats – the whole smash
  • Hosted an s-party for my birthday, I came as Samwise Gamgee (as I hadn’t managed to create my Shrek outfit in time)
  • Went mine-exploration at go-below which is a lot like caving only no squeezing through tight spaces etc
  • done a whole heap of stuff, maintained the compulsory meet every 3-months with Steve and Helen
  • Been to Cardiff, Oxford, and pretty much everywhere else, Devon, Cornwall etc
  • Went ape twice
  • Joined English Heritage and regularly (almost every weekend go places)
  • Bought some bikes, go places
  • Did the full day at Bodyflight in Bedford, but bottled the 125ft drop, Pip did it though – well done Pip – “Don’t look down” – as if you have a choice!
  • The following weekend had the best day ever at Alton Towers – booked a premium ticket allowing all you can eat food, vip parking and entry, and fast-track to all the best rides, it was the 21st of June so was the longest day, was very hot (26C)
  • Decided I cannot do anything with inversions, got off Air and felt really sick, just like I did after Nemesis in 2006 :( so Smiler was out for me – having did the 125ft drop the previous weekend, Pip wasn’t to be fazed so she did Smiler with Monika – crazy, unfortunately, if the ride wasn’t messed-up enough, part way through, a pigeon got annihilated by their car leaving nasty’s across the front of the car and everyone covered in feathers – lovely
  • Spent the evening wandering the towers – progress is painstakingly slow but at least the restoration is under-way
  • Been to see Phantom of the Opera – 2 months before I stuck the 25th anniversary live at the Royal Albert  Hall on, Pip didn’t like it and so, having bought the visit to the Haymarket, Pip being very unsure brought along a good book. It never got opened and Pip is now a convert
  • Saw Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl at the Royal Albert Hall in April 2014 and have to say, I was absolutely blown away! Yes, having came out 11 years earlier, unless stranded on a desert island or the moon, it would’ve been difficult not to have encountered Johnny Depp and gang at any time in the 10 years, though you are unlikely to have seen it like this: a big-screen just like the cinema only the music was undertaken by a live 50-ish piece orchestra a choir astounding – and I think I was the only one in the house not watching the screen but instead was fully focussed on the orchestra.
  • That same evening having trotted around London for most of the evening, at 23:45 rocked-up to a nice Italian restaurant on Woburn Place (slightly up from Russel Square tube station and had a wonderful meal before leaving at nearly 1am (yup 1 on the morning, now that was early) and falling into bed at Euston Hilton around 1:30 (I was cunning with my location), met Rik for breakfast the next day then went to The Whiskey Exchange at Vinopolis – highly recommended.
  • Met Rik and Richard in London, went to see Battersea Power Plant and were amongst the other 10,000 visitors turned away. Spent the evening drinking at the whiskey bar at Trafalgar Square
  • Went to Waddington Airshow 2014 which was cheaper and better than riat 2014 as we had the Vulcan xh558 and being Waddinton, it was the spiritual home of the Vulcan – managed to get an excellent shot of XH558 landing with XM607 (the Waddington Gate Guardian and survivor of the Falklands Black Buck bombing raids) in the distant background with the Red Arrows preparing for their formation in the immediate background – excellent!

This brings us up-to date, of course there has been loads more and loads more to do but this is best staying as my memory – besides, I cannot find the time to write it as much as you won’t find the time to read it.


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Posted on 01-05-2012
Filed Under (Random Musings) by Steve

WARNING! Those of a weak disposition or if you are eating, look away now, this review is very graphic.

Right, so on Monday the 30th April 2012 I went for a colonoscopy for which the previous day I was to perform the dreaded colon prep using none other than Satan’s favourite tipple – Citrafleet.

I had read a lot of blogs about the effects of this stuff and not to put a too fine a point on it, I was pooing myself and not in a Fleet way either.

To prepare for the day, I went out and bought 2 x Lucozade Sport multi-packs and 2 packs of Andrex Flushables (these smell really nice).

So at 8:30am on Sunday 29th April 2012 (I was running late through fear), I poured the mixture into a pint glass (yes a pint, not being great at necking pints I really wanted to prolong the agony), waited for the heat (yes it did raise its own temperature a little) to die down and then drank.

I did initially feel as though I wanted to bring it back up though I suspect that this was only out of blind panic, went back upstairs with my work laptop (I had some work to be getting on with and besides, I had commandeered the en-suite for the day), and waited – I had no breakfast, just didn’t feel like any.

At 10:30, I suddenly felt those tell-tale urges, so up I sprang, hopped onto the toilet (I did remove my clothes first) and let it out, and it felt good too, like weeing from your bum not like normal diarrhoea that feels more slimy than anything else, this just felt like passing water.

Suitably relieved, and feeling empty, I proceeded to use just one Flushable wipe to wipe, followed by dabbing  a single sheet of tp to dry followed by a sparing amount of Sudocrem.

I shall spare you the rest of the details but the rest of the morning looked like this, for the majority of the day I drank myself through 1.5l of Lucozade stopping at 11:30 am to drink a cup of Mint tea (I wouldn’t recommend this, it dyes everything green ;-) ); trips were made at 11:00 and 12:30 – this started to run clear looking more like chicken stock; lunch at 13:30 consisted of two hard-boiled eggs and two slices of toast buttered with Lurpack.

The rest of the day went as: a trip at 15:00 this had a little more substance as expected though it was still watery; 15:15 another trip though this had started to take on the same watery feel as the morning trips; 16:30, more water and worryingly turning a British Racing Green colour; 18:00; 19:30 – started to worry now as it had not returned to the chicken stock colour of lunch and thinking that I would not be running clear in time for the morning’s procedure; 21:00; 23:10; 00:15 – this was the last trip for the day, was very concerned that I would mess the bed though I can happily report that I stayed dry throughout the night with a final emptying at 07:30 on the day of the procedure – still green though.

In all, I went around 11 times throughout the day and am happy to report that it really was a pleasant experience with absolutely nothing to worry about.

A couple of things about my prep though:

  1. I am not a big eater – this may well be part of my overall problem but the previous Friday I had a ‘thing in a box’ that consisted of a meat and salad dish, this was the only food I ate during the course of the day and for Saturday, I only had a melted cheese baguette at 14:00, by 23:00 I just was no longer hungry – whilst I didn’t intend to eat so little and wouldn’t recommend this as part of a healthy diet, I really do think this helped
  2. Each passing was dealt with with a single Flushable / baby wipe, a single sheet of tp dabbed against my bottom to dry and a helping of Sudocrem this method I think went a long way in preventing the sore bum a lot of others have reported
  3. Lucozade Sport [DO NOT TAKE NORMAL Lucozade], highly recommended both by tasting better than most other drinks but being isotonic, also replaces lost salts – I am a migraine sufferer and can get a headache very quickly (within 10 mins if my neck or shoulders get too cold), but didn’t once suffer throughout the day – I am also a programmer and this can cause them, as mentioned I spent the day working).
  4. At 21:00 I switched to just water deciding the red dye used in both cherry and raspberry Lucozade may well dye the colon wall.
  5. 10pm was the time of my last drink until AFTER the procedure.
  6. Even the literature makes mention of being sensible to be near a toilet and many comedian has mentioned the rush, I didn’t get this; I felt that when an urge came on I had a good 5 mins (even when seated) to get to the toilet and open the err… heavens.

All I can say is be suitably prepared and  the day shall just breeze by, I read a couple of reviews like this one - Picolax (CitraFleet) – Graphic Review by efhell et al and was suitably scared, but my fears were ultimately unfounded.


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Posted on 13-02-2012
Filed Under (Just a Thought...) by Steve

… When its a helicopter…!

So I purchased Lego set 6912 [for myself 'cause I love Lego - who doesn't] and quickly realised that the main model – the plane resembles a Panavia Tornado GR4 – tell me that it doesn’t:


The resemblance is uncanny:

  • Same nose / nosecone
  • Wings (Lego is in the cruise position)
  • Undercarriage (and position)
  • Air intakes
  • Engine & exhaust configuration
  • Canopy
  • Tailplane
  • And in my version, drop-tanks and Amraam missiles

Now compare the secondary model:

I know what you’re are thinking – “by golly, its a Hughes / McDonell Douglas AH-64 Apache Gunship” [and with the help of a big round brick, you also get the Apache Longbow]

Whilst this is of no obvious use to most, this shall be of major significance to the UK’s armed forces who currently operate both – remember, next time you are in a sticky-wicket, a quick re-configuration here and there and you can severely alter your mode of transport though saying this, it is only likely to be effective if you have a Royal Navy field-gun team to carry-out the configuration at speed as these guys could pretty much dismantle your car and post it through your letter-box in under 30 mins.

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Posted on 24-12-2011
Filed Under (Computing) by Steve

Ok, so I think the title makes it blatantly obvious what this post is about but in case you were wondering, this is about my recent purchase of the above – a Compro E750 dual tuner pcie tv card, and how to resolve some of the problems associated with installing it to Windows 7 64 bit.

Its quite simple really, the production 64bit drivers – both those shipped in the box and those available online DON’T WORK so don’t install them; they shall produce an array of artefacts and sound issues; when I first installed, every channel was buggered – the trouble is, I knew it had to have been a problem with the card as I was upgrading from a Compro U80 usb tv tuner that was working fine.

My Spec:

Crucial 8GB (2 x 4GB) 1333MHz DDR3
Intel Core i5 2400 3.1GHz Sandybridge
Gigabyte mATX (can’t remember the motherboard spec and not at the unit) fully up to date bios
Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit with SP1

After spending time searching, I happened across this post at Compro’s site though the beta drivers mentioned were unavailable for download but I was able to get into the ftp site and download version 1.05.520 an action that may have cost it for the rest of you because attempts to re-enter the site has resulted in password security – I apologise.

Anyway to the point, I can reports that these drivers do work producing excellent quality sound and video feeds across all 111 channels (this includes radio); the following instructions can be used even if you have already installed the stock drivers:

  1. Goto Control Panel > System > Advanced System Settings > Hardware > Device Installation Settings and change / ensure that “No let me choose what to do” is set – this ensures that you can control where drivers come from and in this instance stops Windows from installing the stock drivers
  2. If you have already installed the drivers, then uninstall them by going to:
    Control Panel > System > Device Manager > Sound, Video and Game Controllers
    and choosing to both uninstall the device and to delete the drivers from the system; reboot
  3. On Windows boot-up, extract the attached driver installation package and run
  4. Everything should now work

Just a word of warning, these drivers have not been released for production as users are reporting mixed results; however, they are working for me.
Download Here  << Open link in Chrome or Firefox if not working with IE (not working with my ie8)

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Posted on 03-11-2011
Filed Under (Just a Thought...) by Steve

Now using  jQuery Archive List Widget to do something colourful with my filing cabinet – its never nice seeing a pile of paperwork everywhere so I felt that now would be a good time to do something with it.

Highly recommended did exactly what I want.

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