Busy at work

Very busy at work still, hence the lack of updates recently.

We’ve been working on the workstation image this week, figuring out the best way to automatically deploy the dozens of different software packages that are needed around the college without ever having to visit each PC. We’ve improved the process considerably over the last couple of years, but there are still a few troublesome applications, such as Sage Accounts, that don’t like being repackaged. 🙁

At least the new versions of Dreamweaver, Flash, Freehand, Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator and Cubase seem to have gone smoothly.

It’s going to be a struggle to get everything done before students return because we won’t receive this year’s batch of new PCs until mid-August. Any savings the bean-counters have potentially managed to make by spending an extra couple of weeks shopping around for the best finance deal will be cancelled out by the overtime caused by the delay. 👿

Back to work

I returned to work today after 10 days off sick. Although it was nice to have a bit of a “free” break, especially in last week’s lovely weather, I was really bored. It wouldn’t have been bad if I’d been able to move around the house or go out, but I was basically confined to whichever room I parked myself in when I got up. Once I’d run out of books and movies, the novelty value soon wore off and I found myself answering work e-mail and planning this summer’s workload.

As well as the usual annual replacement programme – 350 PCs this year – there’s a big list of jobs that we’ve been saving for summer and a few more that have been dropped on us as a result of other works taking place on campus. 🙄

With 37 working days until the start of the new academic year and 8 I.T. staff to carry out the work, there’s potentially 296 man/days available. Subtract 58 man/days for their pre-booked holidays during July & August and we’re left with 238 man/days.

All in all there are 34 different I.T. projects to manage this year, which I estimate will take approximately 380 man/days to complete. 😯

Doctor Doctor

Today I have mostly been trying to get to see a doctor.

I phoned Leesbrook Surgery and asked for an appointment with Dr Taylor, who I last saw about 15 years ago. They offered me a slot tomorrow morning, which would’ve been great, but then they noticed that I no longer live in Lees. “Ripponden Road? No, no, no. That’s miles away, you can’t come here.” 😡

So they put me in touch with the NHS Records department who confirm that I can’t go to Lees and offer me Doyle Close, Moorside. That’s OK it’s only down the road, I think, before realising they mean Sholver. 😯

Not to worry, Sholver don’t want to know anyway. “We’re full and not taking on new patients”.

Back to the NHS Records people who offer me Springfield House, Huddersfield Road. They’re useless on the phone, telling me that I have to come in to fill in a form and then make an appointment separately which might be on a different day. I explain the situation with my foot and how it’s difficult to get there once never mind twice. They put me on hold for a while, probably so that they can finish watching Richard and Judy, then tell me there’s nothing they can do so take it or leave it. 👿

I email Sara and explain all this and she phones her doctors, the one near the Fire Station on Lees Road, and sorts it all out in about two minutes. I still have to go and register before I can have an appointment, bt at least they’re polite and helpful.

Hopefully I’ll get some stronger painkillers, these Decoflex don’t do anything for me. 😐

B.T. Suck (But you knew that already)

My DSL connection at home has been playing up for the last month or so. It will no longer connect at anything above 500Kbps and is unreliable even at the lowest speed, 272Kbps. Trying to collect e-mail or surf the web is a struggle at the moment, hence the lack of updates this week. 😡

Because I live “in the sticks” I can’t get regular broadband so I’ve had to grow my own, so to speak. I rent a “Baseband Standard Private Circuit” from B.T. (otherwise known as an EPS9 link). One end of the circuit terminates at my house, the other at the college. It’s a bit like having a direct, permanent telephone link but without the dial tone. Special S-DSL modems at each end of the link provide a direct network connection of up to 2.3 Mbps. Due to the distances involved I can’t get anything more than about 600Kbps at best, but it’s been fantastic for the last 3 years. 🙂

So yesterday I reported the fault tp B.T.’s “Analogue Circuits Helpdesk” and, as per the contract terms, they promised a speedy resolution. I was told to expect a visit at 9am this morning, which suited me fine seeing as I’m off work at the moment. At about 2pm this afternoon, having waited patiently, I called them back to enquire about the wherabouts of this engineer. It turns out that he picked up the job yesterday and meant to start work on it today, but forgot that he had booked some annual leave. So nobody has done anything about my dodgy link for 36 hours. 👿

Very apologetic, the Helpdesk people promised to get a new engineer on to it straight away. About 30 minutes later he calls me and says “the routing of this line is complete bollocks, we need to look at it properly in the morning”. 😯

Fortunately this type of circuit comes with a service guarantee. For every day it’s out of action they refund one month’s line rental. I’d rather have a working internet connection though. 😥

Edit: Now fixed. Solid 768K connection. 😎


I’ve been hobbling about at work this week with a sore foot. I didn’t think much of it at first, it happens to me now and again. Yesterday I was in extreme pain though. It took me about 10 minutes to put on my shoes and I was nearly in tears by the time I’d managed it. 😳

I tried to take it easy at work but, with contractors onsite, I had to do a fair bit of walking around the campus. As the day progressed, I was really struggling. When I got home I slumped on the couch and didn’t move for six hours. When I went to bed, even the weight of the quilt hurt my foot. 🙁

Now I’m not one to bother with doctors or hospitals – I’ve only been to the doctor’s once in the last 25 years – but this time I knew there was something seriously wrong. Knowing that an x-ray was likely, I decided to go straight to Oldham Royal Infirmary rather than the local GP.

I got there nice and early, hoping to avoid the pondlife that hospitals attract during the day, and within a couple of hours I’d been seen by a doctor, x-rayed and diagnosed. You really can’t complain about the NHS with a turnaround like that. 😀

Unfortunately it turns out that I have a condition known as “Freiberg’s Infraction” which basically means that my second metatarsal bone has collapsed due to an athritis-like disease. No wonder it’s been giving me grief for a while. 😯

I’ve been prescribed some strong anti-inflammatory painkillers and told to put my feet up for a few days. I’ve got to take things easy for the next 4-6 weeks and then it should be OK again, so no long country walks for me this summer. 😥

They also said that the pain is likely to flare up every now and again, maybe a couple of times per year. If it gets really bad, they say, I can have an operation where they shorten the bone and fuse the joints together, but I can’t say I’m thrilled with that idea. 🙄

So I’m all set for a lazy, lazy weekend and a few days off work next week. 😐

Bowling Do

Yesterday was the last day of term. The Principal gave her usual end-of-year address in the Grange Arts Theatre, thanking staff for their efforts, outlining the college’s priorities for the coming year and skirting around the thorny issue of this year’s pay award. My team played “swear word bingo” throughout the speech, Jon winning with eight “bloodies” during her presentation. 😮

Afterwards there was the traditional staff barbeque outside in the “quad”, which I usually try to avoid due to the terrible food and the fact that lots of people collar me with their requests for extra equipment or software. Unfortunately I had to show my face this year so after a few bites of a barely-cooked dogburger and ten minutes chatting to people without promising anything, I made my excuses and went back to the office. 😐

With most of the college deserted, we closed up a bit early and went straight on to the main event: the annual Crown Green Bowling Challenge which, as usual, was held at the Church Inn, Chadderton Fold. 😀

Before joining the college I always considered bowling to be a game for pensioners, but I was persuaded to go along once and found it quite entertaining. As long as you don’t take it seriously and just think of it as something to do between drinks, it can be a good laugh. Most of the staff take it the same way but there are one or two ultra-competitive types who bring their own bowls and measuring tapes. 🙄

Although none of us were taking part in the actual bowling this year, we sat in the sunshine with a few beers. We had a mess about with the bowls before the competitition got started, but soon grew bored and went back to drinking. As always we had a good time and laughed at one or two members of staff who were a bit the worse for wear by the end of the evening. 😛

I feel a bit rough this morning thanks to all the Guinness and I’m covered in dozens of midge-bites too. No idea who won the bowling either. 😳