Saturday, December 08, 2007

Exams, Leap, Weather etc.

If someone had come to me on the day I graduated University, and said "when you are 48 you will still be studying and sitting exams", I think I would have assumed that they were crazy. However, this morning I sat the Prometric exam for the Hitachi Data Systems "Storage Foundation Modular" course (HH0120), and I'm studying for a couple of Juniper router exams that I need to get out of the way before the end of the year. I passed the HDS exam, but the Juniper exams promise to be tougher, so I'm spending my "free" time - such as that is - studying. Hence the silence for the last week. However, I need a break: my head is a whirling mass of acronyms and vendor jargon.

In the last 45 minutes we've had one of the big sub-tropical storms that make Sydney's climate so interesting. Thunder, lightening, thick black clouds and torrential rain. I unplugged my machines and went and read a manual until the storm passed, and from the sound of it, it is now moving East and out to sea. Mungo, who doesn't approve of weather with sound effects, went and hid under the dining room table. Percy, who knows that the safest place in the world is my lap, came and sat on me. Percy loves a lap, which is fine in winter, but not entirely comfortable on hot, humid days. I should probably be grateful that Mungo rarely wants to sit on me - no human lap is big enough, and he tends to cut off the circulation to your legs if he sits on you for long. However, as a general rule, if Mungo wants to sit on you, you are either in his chair, or he feels unwell and needs a hug.

I notice that the folks from Furl have finally fixed their export facility. Now I just need time to munge my Furl archive into EagleFiler - suggestions, anyone? I've never needed to do a bulk import before.

Someone asked me to look at Leap a while back. I did look, and while it is a nice application, I'm afraid it may be one whose time has already passed. If Leap had come to market a year ago, before Leopard, I think there would have been general rejoicing. But the improvements to the Finder in Leopard are such that I'm having trouble seeing what functionality Leap gives me that I can't get from the operating system. For example: when I went to book my Prometric exam, the call centre person asked if I already had a Candidate ID number. As far as I can recall, the last time I did this type of exam was in about 1997, and the system was being administered by a company who was subsequently merged/bought out/consumed with or by Prometric. I said I might have an ID in the old scheme, so he looked up my name, and sure enough, he found a match. But he needed the street address and phone number that I had when I last used the ID, to confirm that it was me and not some other person called Melodie Neal. So I said "that was 10 years ago, the company I was working for is gone, I don't recall the street address (I could drive there, but that doesn't help), and I certainly don't know the phone number. Give me a minute". I went to Finder, ran a search on my old employer's name, filtered on Kind=Document and Last Modified=Before 1/12/1997, and easily found an old contract with the required information embedded in it.

Quicklook and Coverflow allow me to glance at documents without launching their normal handling applications. So I'm afraid I don't quite see why I would need Leap. If I've missed something here, could someone please point it out to me? Note: any further grumpy exchanges between developers arguing the merits of their particular preferred language/architecture/whatever should be conducted elsewhere. I tolerated the last one, but you guys need to understand that most of us ARE NOT INTERESTED. We care about the end result, not how you got there. If this seems odd to you, please consider that for me, as an infrastructure engineer (the person who racks the kit, runs the cables, configures the firewalls and writes the operations manuals), some of the worst problems I have ever had to deal with have been caused by developers. Developers who assumed that the infrastructure could run their software (you never said you needed a proxy server!), or that the firewalls would pass their packets (you have got to be kidding: you can't use ftp to transfer medical records to another country!). You assume the plumbing will work, I assume the software will work. The details are your problem or mine, depending on our specialities.


There was a break there, because Steve (my husband) came home from work, and we started our normal end of day routine. We have a sherry, debrief on the day's activities, and start dinner (he cooked, bless him). It's now Saturday night.

Now, before I forget: volume 2 of Blue Mountains Music is out. Do yourself a a favour and go here.

Also out is an update to the Bento beta. On brief inspection I can see no changes, so I assume it's mostly bug fixes.

I've no significant response to my previous post on Mac-compatible, PDA-portable databases (other than comments from other folks who would like the same thing). This is a bit sad: here is a clear requirement for a product, and we have people trying to write replacements for things already provided natively in the OS. Sigh.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Annual Trip to the Vet

Every year, around the beginning of December, our cats have to pay a visit to the Vet to get their shots and have sundry routine cat-maintenance tasks performed. This is always traumatic, and today was the day, so we are now in recovery mode, collectively.

The experience starts with a quick trip to the attic, to retrieve the cat carrying cages: a big plastic one for Mungo, and a smaller (but tougher) metal and plastic one for Percy. We always cage Percy first because, if he works out what is going on, he goes to ground and becomes impossible to catch. So we stuff the protesting white cat into the cage and slam the lid, while trying to make sure that all the madly thrashing limbs are inside the cage (also the tail). Cage cat, place in front hall. Go and fetch Mungo, who by now knows that something is up (because Percy is yelling his head off, he doesn't like being in the cage). However, Mungo is too big to hide effectively, so he just has to be lugged to his cage and put into it: it's the sort where the top half comes off completely, and is refastened with tabs around the edge, so it's sort of like constructing a giant cat sandwich, with a rather unwilling cat. But we manage to get him into the cage, and all the tabs done up. Now we have two unhappy cats in boxes.

We haul Mungo to the Prius, and put him in the back seat with the seat belt around his cage. And Steve gets into the front seat with Percy on his lap. with a towel over the cage. Sometimes having the towel to hide under calms Percy down a bit, but today isn't one of those days. Percy continues yelling, and Mungo starts up as well. Mungo seldom makes a fuss about going to the Vet, he just does the dumb misery routine, but today he is in fine voice and we drive to the Vet with a duet of "help, murder, save me!" coming from the cat cages. Fortunately, the drive is only about 10 minutes.

Our Vet is next to a big Greek Orthodox church, and Greek Orthodox people either can't read, or are too selfish to care: all the Vet's parking spaces are full, despite being clearly labelled as being for the use of the Vet's customers only. We have to park a long way away, and carry the still-protesting cats to the surgery. Not fun on a hot day, and we elect to leave Percy's towel in the car, since it doesn't seem to be helping. The Vet's nurse says that all the parking places were full when they arrived to open up, and a parade of fat people dressed in black in passing the surgery windows on the way to the church: I've unfortunately timed our visit to coincide with morning service. Bad move.

In consequence of the delay, we miss our appointment, and the Vet starts the next patient, so we have to wait. Both cats grizzle unhappily. We put Mungo, cage and all onto the big scales in the waiting room. We have the weight of the cages written on them, so we can do a subtraction and get the weight of the cat. Mungo weighs 11.66 kilos. He's been fatter, and he has lost some weight, but not enough. Percy weighs about 5.5 kilos, which is normal. Percy now decides that he needs to hide, and in the absence of his towel. he rakes up the newspaper in the bottom of his cage, and manages to get it on top of him. We should have brought the towel.

The Vet on duty hasn't seen our cats before, so he has to read their extensive histories and ask questions before we can get down to business. Then both cats get their shots, blood samples taken for routine testing (they're older cats, and we figure their ailments will be cheaper to treat if diagnosed early), and worming pills administered. We get Percy done first, because he needs less doing, and then he goes back in his cage (no struggle this time), and gets back under his piece of newspaper. Finally, Mungo is carried out the back of the surgery, so that the staff can shave his bottom. Mungo is ridiculously fluffy, and while he likes being brushed, he won't let anyone brush his nethers, so he gets tangly. We have him clipped appropriately once a year, for the sake of hygiene. Otherwise we tend to get a phenomenon known in the family as "Clingons" when Mungo uses his litter tray.

Mungo, freshly shaved, is brought back to us and crawls back into his cage at once, since the cage is now the safest place in the room. We are used to this routine from previous years: getting the boys into their cages at the surgery is always easy. We chat to the Vet for a couple of minutes, and then go to reception to pay for all this, and a sack of the special diet cat biscuits that Mungo needs to keep his bladder healthy. The bill is the thick end of $AU500, and I can see why they reckon veterinary science is one of the best paid professions. Fortunately Steve and I both earn professional salaries!

By now, church is over, and hordes of fat people dressed in black are heading for their cars. I go a fetch our car, and manage to park near the surgery. We load the boys back in, and head home. There is no yelling on the way home, just the occasional grumble. We get the cages into the house, and open them. Both cats bolt for the family room, and wash furiously. Mungo goes to his biscuit plate, and has a consoling snack. Percy goes outside and sits on the barbeque, in the sun. Steve and I collapse exhausted.

What a way to spend Sunday morning.


Bookmark and Share