Thursday, July 24, 2014

Eyes Wide Shut

We have had several ideas regarding the new house. Let's face it, we have had long enough to think about things, and some of these ideas may actually come to fruition.

Today, it was the turn of shutters. We have been rather taken with the idea of having shutters rather than curtains to dress the windows on the front of the house. GF had researched a number of options and we slid into the car and headed out. The first two suppliers we visited were primarily offices rather than show rooms, but we persevered. The last supplier was quite impressive. The actually manufactured the shutters themselves, on-site - rather than ordering them and shipping them in from China. The twice-retired gent who showed us round explained the pros and cons of all of the various options. Once we have access to the house we will contact them and get a proper survey and quote.

John Lewis provided a stop-off point for a coffee and some cake before we went across to the local supplier of furniture in the New England style. Outside it was 31C, so their showroom provided a little respite from the heat. GF took lots of photos of various items of bedroom furniture which we will have to consider, and we put down a deposit on a dresser. A very successful trip.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Overload

Well, that turned out to be an interesting exercise. The Gorse Fox had saved nearly 81,000 emails since 1996, and the archive was over 11,000,000 lines long.
Next part of the exercise will be to construct a suitable SQL table to allow easy access to the data.

JAFLOC

There is an acronym in programming "JAFLOC" - this means Just a Few Lines of Code... and is the traditional answer to any problem posed.

The Gorse Fox has 24 archives of emails stretching back to to 1996 that need to be extracted so that he can mine them for useful historical information. This is a classic JAFLOC... but like most JAFLOCs it is a little more complex than it first seemed. Firstly it is a matter of detecting the transition from one email to the next - which GF finally worked out as the "0C"x code. Then each email seems to have a number of keywords - but the keyword list does not appear to be consistent. Before GF can decide on a final storage mechanism, he needs to isolate the keywords to decide how to handle them.

His code is currently mining its way through several million lines of text searching for the definitive list of keywords that will have to be handled. GF has processed over 40,000 historical emails so far... but the code is hammering onwards.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mobile Apps

One of the features of Mobile Apps is the difficulty in determining what might be wrong when they do not behave as expected. The Silver Vixen usually complete the weekly Ocado order by wandering about with her iPad and creating/amending the order as necessary. Of late this has become problematic, interminably slow, and sometimes will not work at all.

GF resorted to class problem determination:

  1. Any obvious setting wrong? - No 
  2. Any problems with WiFi - No
  3. Any known problems reported on internet? - No
  4. Close it down and retry - any better? - No
  5. Upgrade IOS to latest version - any better? - No
  6. Is it working from the iMAC? - Yes, but that's a different interface.
  7. Does it work from the other iPad? - Yes !!!

Ok, so the problem was isolated to SV's iPad, the question is how to solve the problem. GF erased the app entirely from the iPad and re-installed it from scratch.

Everything now seems to work. Harmony is restored.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Decision made

Our landlord has decided to sell the house we are renting, once we move out. This triggered some calls and a visit from the agent. This morning she turned up to take photos, so we had made sure everything was ship-shape and Bristol fashioned.

Well Saturday's planning of the new living room layout resulted (finally) in a decision and today the Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed back into Bognor Regis to order the furniture.

For the uninitiated, Bognor Regis has all the faded charm of Pompeii, albeit without the pyroclastic debris and body casts. If ever a town needed some investment - this is it. It makes Worthing seem classy! (Though isn't quite as bad as Lancing). However, it does have a traditional old furniture shop with a stunning display of stock and salesmen who actually know about their products and provide sensible advice and guidance.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Well that wasn't expected.

The Gorse Fox went out to the back garden to clean up some garden chairs. Over to one side of the lawn he found this little chap.

Jasper, the cat, seemed very interested in the little bundle, but was still keeping his distance.

He seemed uninjured, but obviously was too young to fly. Looking round carefully we ascertained that there were no nests nearby, so concluded he must have been dropped by some predator.

Not sure quite what to do we guessed it was some kind of duck, from its shape, so GF put it in a box and took it along to the village pond. He eased it down into the water - and it promptly sunk. Lifting it back up GF let it collect its thoughts, and tried again - again it sunk. Again the Gorse Fox retrieved it. Obviously it wasn't yet ready for water, so GF took it round to a shaded area where there were some reeds. As he was about to release it a nearby fisherman asked to have a look. GF explained what was going on.

"And he sunk" stated the angler. GF answered in the affirmative. "Probably because it's a pigeon." he said, dismissing GF.

Now GF feels dreadful have tried to drown the poor thing, thinking it to be a water bird. He doesn't suppose it will survive, but at least it has a better chance being out of the water and out of the range of Jasper.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Planning

The Gorse Fox cannot believe how much time it has taken to come up with, what should be, a simple decision. Do we have a chair, a 2-seater, and 3-seater sofa; a chair and two 2-seaters; two chairs and 2-seaters; and any combination or permutation thereof. The trouble is how best to lay out such a selection in a room which logically has the focal point of a fireplace, a second focal point of a TV, and a bay window. A room that you wish to be a sociable space, not one dedicated to the altar of televisual images.

Sketchup provided a canvas for trying the various options, but it seemed that whatever we chose was a compromise in some way. (We also resorted to paper and pencil - as a cross-check that GF hadn't got the measurements wrong in Sketchup). Eventually, with a little bit of "out-of-the-goggle-box" thinking we came to a conclusion... though in the fullness of time this will mean some further design work to accommodate the TV the way we envisage.

Another by-product of the decision is that we will plan to provide all video from a media centre - thus ditching the need for DVD storage or CD storage. Music is already stored on our network storage - the trick will be to transfer all the DVDs as well. This may take some time. Gorse Fox has already tried some this afternoon, but though the transcoding works well, the metadata regarding the films is lost. Will have to did deeper before embarking on a mass transcoding session.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Suite

A few weeks ago we started looking for a suitable suite for the new house. It seemed a fruitless exercise even though we were looking a specialist shop.

A few years ago we bought a recliner from a furniture store in Bognor Regis. We decided to give them a try so pottered down to the coast. The store is laid out over 4 floors and there was a vast selection from which to choose. Several hours later we had several firm candidates in mind and needed to go back to the plans to decided what configuration would suit the room best. The other store may have been a specialist warehouse, but you can't beat a good old-fashioned store when you are looking for something special, and just that little bit different.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bit by bit

Aha! News from the dealer. The Silver Vixen's car delivery has moved forward to November. This is progress. The last estimate we got was early 2015. Now we just need to synchronise with her Birthday and get it wrapped up with a big ribbon. 

Despite two calls to the Ford dealer, Gorse Fox still has no outlook on his car. He supposes this is what  you expect with Ford. Gorse Fox has been spoiled by his loyalty to VW over the past decade or so.
The Gorse Fox is enjoying a quiet afternoon in the garden. He seems to be getting a real flair for being retired.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Middle Earth

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen had arranged to head into Middle Earth and tidy up the garden at Mother-in-Law's old house. It was a 240 mile round trip, but it had to be done. It was a lovely day and the traffic was kind to us.

There was one moment when we realised we had left without the key to the afore-mentioned property, but a brief call to Becks reminded us that the Estate Agents would have a key. Panic over.

Once there it only took about an hour to get everything done, and then we set up our picnic chairs for an impromptu lunch, before packing everything away and heading fro Bicester Village.

Now, much is said about Bicester Village, and certainly it is impressive in terms of size and the range of outlets they attract. The problem, for the Gorse Fox, is that it also attracts legions of shoppers. Legions arriving by car, by coach, and even train. It is a tourist destination and was completely overrun. Today there seemed to be two-thirds of the population of Beijing shopping there, and as you entered any of the outlets they just seemed to swarm like ants all over you and the shop.  GF found such crowds to be an unpleasant experience, even though he is sure the Village was probably quite nice.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Slindon

With the Silver Vixen out with her coven, and the primary chores completed, GF considered his options. Top of the list came a walk... after a nano-second of thought all further options were dismissed.
Within a few minutes walk from the house, The Gorse Fox plunged into Slindon Woods.

The dappled shade made it quite pleasant despite the summer heat.
The Gorse Fox kept to the footpath that ran just in the edge of the woodland, looking across the fields.

The summer breeze swept waves across the crop and was quite hypnotic.

Crossing Mill Lane, GF entered the National Trust land and stayed along the bridleway to the next proper road where he turned left and made his way up to the A29.
Crossing the A29, the Gorse Fox dropped back through the fields to the edge of Slindon Village.

There is a quaint Community Hall, The Forge (which seems to double as tea shop and village store, and an orchard.

The village green was crowned by a magnificent willow, bestowing its shade
Leaving the lower part of the village, Gorse Fox walked down Park Lane and back towards Fontwell.

It was only about 5 and bit kilometres, and took about an hour - but it was very nice.

Sad Farewell

The Gorse Fox has bid a sad farewell to his boy's toys. He has had to dispense with:

  • Table Saw
  • Thicknesser/Planer
  • Dust Extractor
  • Morticer
  • Compound Chop Saw
  • Router Table
  • Heavy duty Router

There just won't be enough space in the new house (even if there would be enough time, finally). Rear Admiral Dabbler and his XO came round this morning with a trailer. Thirty minutes later it was all loaded and disappearing down the road.

Raring to go

Awake: check.
Shower: check.
Coffee: check.
Breakfast: check.
Email to local MP: check.
Letter to Prime Minister: check.
Clear garage: check.

Good start to the day!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Frantic

It has been a frantic start to the week.

The Gorse Fox read the paper then had some breakfast with the Silver Vixen. We chatted for a bit and had some coffee. Then GF managed a few emails and a bit of tidying up in his study.

We pottered into Chichester so that GF could get some clothes and change the SIM in his phone. (The latter taking significantly longer than expected).

Exhausted from such stress, we stopped off in Prezzo for some lunch and a coffee before heading home.

The pace of life, once retired, is relentless!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Quiet Day

It has been a quieter day today. The forecast had been a bit mixed - but it turned out to be a lovely sunny day.

The Silver Vixen went through a pile of magazines, deciding which could be passed on to other crafts people, the Gorse Fox played around with the model of the new home to try and get some view of what an orangery may look like, and what its dimensions should be; how many doors, how many windows, and what size of "lantern". It was interesting to see the options evolve, but frustrating how long it took to work out the best way to model the glass roof.

Supper over, it is time to get ready for the World Cup Final. GF is, unashamedly, hoping for a significant German win. (Unfortunately, that is often the kiss of death).

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Parham

It was the annual Garden Show at Parham House. The weather was fabulous, and it seemed like too good a day to miss.

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen headed across the Downs. He was a little surprised by how busy the Show was, even fairly early on.

He was concerned that some of the Silver Vixen's friends had got there first. He was lucky. Though similar models to those used by her coven, these were the 2014 models on display. (GF should have noticed).
Once inside the crowds seemed to melt away. Though there were plenty of people around, it didn't seem crowded.

At first a brass band played in the background as we wandered from stall to stall.

There were flowers of every colour and type, there were old galvanised sinks and buckets and other bric-a-brac to make a garden look "twee", there were food concessions, and goodness knows what else.
We wandered on past the exhibits and along through the borders.

These were awash with colour, with smells, and with bees and butterflies. It was a very inspiring.

Eventually we found our way down through a walled garden and out into the Park itself.
Outside the walls we we approached the lake. You can only walk along one side as much is fenced off, but it was immensely tranquil as we sat on a bench and watch the butterflies as they swooped and hopped from flower to flower.

We dragged ourselves away and back to the "Pleasure Garden" where there were refreshments.

GF queued for some tea and salad and then again for a burger. These burgers were wild boar with apricot, or venison. Nobody flinched as they order wild boar, or venison, but when the Gorse Fox requested a "Bambi burger" everyone when "Aaaaaaawwwwww!".

As we sat down with our refreshments a Jazz duet started to play. Somehow, it seemed perfect... a quiet summer's afternoon, a drink, some mellow jazz, and bits of Bambi dripping from the side of the mouth.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Progress, perhaps

The Gorse Fox and Silver Vixen fought their way through stupid Friday afternoon traffic to meet with the solicitor in Rustington. GF had allowed twice the time for the journey as you would expect it to take - but still arrived a couple of minutes late.

The good news is that the forms we had to sign have been transferred from the standard conveyancing department at the Developer's to their Completion Department. This is progress. Progress measured in geological time, but progress. Even our solicitor acknowledged that he has never known such a long delay between Exchange and Completion.

We stopped off, on the way back, at a showroom that featured conservatories and orangeries. The upshot of this is that we think we may have found a possible solution for the extension that we had been thinking of.

Technology, eh? (the sequel)

Gorse Fox just tried to log on to the Online Banking app to make some changes to some regular payments.

The service is down at present. (snigger)

Technology, eh?

The Gorse Fox had a very interesting chat with the bank manager yesterday. Among other things he told GF about some of the features of their mobile app. GF has made very little use of the NatWest mobile app, up to this point.

The feature that impressed him most was the ability to pay people by phone. You go into the App on your smartphone and elect to "pay a contact". This throws up your address book from which you can select the recipient. Then you enter the amount, and a message an press the confirm button. Et voila. A message is sent to the recipient and they just follow the instructions to deposit the money onto their account.