sawyl: (A self portrait)
As I suspected based on news from E that there had been a power cut in Pinhoe on Saturday and the missed calls I'd got while we were out and about in the afternoon, most of the day was lost to mopping up a few last little things. I also discovered, slightly frustratingly, that the deadline for the paper I'd submitted last week had been extended by a week; hopefully this means that they're short of contributions and hence more likely to accept my proposal.

Went for another climbing session in the evening. E continued projecting the 6c she'd attempted on Saturday, successfully completing the crux and latching the big pinch but without enough in the tank to send the whole thing. After a few tries, we moved on to a fun 6c+ — another one of the routes Cal had set just before Christmas — with a set of opening moves with sketchy feet followed by a big bridge and an interesting top section. Although neither of us completed the route, together we were able to cover all the moves: I struggled with the few moves but crushed the rest; E managed the first moves very elegantly but couldn't reach through the bridge.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
A less than ideal day when what should have been a straightforward outage to apply patches overran substantially when the firmware needed to be re-flashed and the system re-bounced. Even after the machine was back there were problems with database corruption that refused to resolve themselves with anything less than a cold-start of the batch system — a task I'm ashamed to say I now have down to a fine art.

I eventually got home sometime after 8pm, having left for work before 7am, grabbed something to eat, and now I'm going to collapse into bed ready to do the whole thing again tomorrow...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
An early evening soirée arranged by the HPC project as thanks for the success of the first two phases. The guest list was enormous but when I went down, there weren't actually that many people there even though the caterers had supplied enough curry, poppadoms and nans for everyone. Unfortunately the time was rather odd too — food was served between 5-7pm — so there wasn't as much enthusiasm for the food as there might have been had it been later and there was so much left that by the end that anyone who walked through the atrium was being encouraged to take a portion.

The evening wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be and I ended up talking to BE and GB for much longer than expected. So long, in fact, that I had to check the bus times in order to work out how to get back into town. In the end I discovered that the 4 bus runs a couple of services an hour until 2252, so despite having to wait for ten minutes in the cold, I was able to avoid having to walk home.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Arriving back at work and summarily dismissing all the emails that had piled up while I was away, I discovered I'd been scheduled to meet with Altair to discuss a problem that had been seen over the Christmas period.

Unfortunately our visitors were caught up in traffic after the M5 was closed in both directions following a kerosene tanker crash, arriving at mid-day just as we were all thinking about lunch. Which, fortunately for me, gave me enough time to familiarise myself with the basics of the situation before the start of our much-delayed meeting.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Having opted out of today's works Christmas lunch, I'd planned to leave early. But not long after the others had gone, we uncovered an unpleasant problem which seemed to be causing jobs to fail with run-time MPP errors.

After an hour of digging, we found something that looked promising. Fixing this lessened the problem but failed to resolve it in its entirety. Investigating further we traced some warning messages to a change made yesterday and decided, in the absence of anyone else, to regress it. This too helped, but it took another couple of hours to stabilise the situation, but which time I'd completely missed the luncheon shift in the canteen and was well past my usual Friday home time.

I guess it serves me right for rejecting the Christmas spirit...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Day of the big integration, with much time spent waiting for components to bounce — a frustrating process that required everything to come up cleanly and without errors before the rest of the work could go ahead. But despite various minor teething problems, all of which were obvious in hindsight, everything was completed ahead of schedule and with very little fuss.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Picked the right day to return to work after my holiday. Not only have the clocks gone back, giving me an extra hour in bed but today also marked the arrival of the first of the next phase of the supercomputer upgrade program. The whole operational was impressively slick, even down to the way they were able to pipeline the process of taking the protective plastic caps of the cables while the cabinets were waiting to be dropped into place.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Breaking my holiday to go in to work this morning for a meeting with Altair. Very much a flying visit, both for them and for me, but it was useful to talk over some ideas with them — especially since they had suggestions which might let us optimise our configuration and improve the performance of some of the code we've added to allow us to preempt things.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
I'm not having a terribly good day. I was in a hurry leaving home this morning and I got to work only to discover I'd left my pass at home. I spent ages finally solving a particularly thorny code problem only to realise several hours later that I'd done it wrong.

Then, to add insult to injury, while out on my evening run I collided with a gull. Or, more precisely, the gull collided with me.

As I was running along by the river, a flock of gulls flew up from the water in the direction of the cafes on the bank having, presumably, spotted an unattended slice of pizza or somesuch. One of them, paying more attention to the flight paths of its rapacious brethren than to me, failed to judge my speed correctly and slammed into me at mid-thigh. I was OK and didn't even break stride while the bird picked itself up with an embarrassed squawk and flapped off, thereby alleviating any guilt I might have felt about removing it from the gene pool.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
End of an era today, with the old supercomputers brought down for the last time. To mark the occasion — and the imminent departure of the vendor people — a group of us arranged to go out for supper at the Bay Leaf. The food was good, with even W, a true curry maven, pronouncing himself impressed with a garlic paneer dish which they augmented for him with a couple of naga chillies.

Suitably fed, we shed a few people and continued on to the nearest watering hole — George's Meeting House — where the others swilled back a few pints. I pushed off at about half-nine, W left shortly after when his girlfriend and two month-old son came by to pick him up, with the others planning to round off the evening with a few whiskys...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
After a last heroic push yesterday, including a morning devote to tracking down a particularly annoying performance problem in a magnetohydrodynamics code, we passed a particularly significant operational milestone. This morning I arrived expecting to find all manner of problems, only to find that it had all gone through extremely smoothly.

To celebrate, we all went to the pub at lunchtime where one of the senior people bought everyone a round of drinks and FB bought a couple of bottles of champagne to mark the end of the beginning:


The event was actually good fun, helped no doubt by an unspoken decision on the part of us helots to split ourselves off on to a separate table, leaving the Spartans to hobnob among themselves. There were a couple of nice speeches thanking everyone for the contributions before our leaders returned to work leaving the rest of us to loaf around for another hour enjoying ourselves.

In hindsight, the decision to remain outside may not have been all that prudent on my part: I spent a good deal of the afternoon worrying that I was getting sunburnt; I left confident that damage had been done; and, sure enough, an inspection of myself in the mirror this evening reveals a suspiciously pink forehead. I just hope it isn't going to get much worse...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
It's been a few weeks coming but I finally had a mini-meltdown after being dragged off to yet another meeting just when I was in the middle of chasing down yet another urgent problem for someone, arriving to find that it was only being held to discuss the non-events of a test the previous day and that a couple of the key people involved either hadn't come or hadn't even been invited.

At which point my patience finally wore thin.

Instead of opening with platitudes, I started by complaining that while the rest of them might not have anything better to do than sit around for an hour and discuss something that had worked, I had a thousand things on my to-do this, that this meeting was thing a thousand and one, and I really didn't have time for it, not least because the rest of my week was slowly being eaten up by meetings. Then, when someone tried to make light of it, I said that while they might think I was joking I really wasn't and while I might not have a thousand things to do, I probably had at least a couple of hundred on the my list.

After a few moments of somewhat shocked silence — although by my normal outside-work standards, it was so mild as to barely qualify — the person in the chair decided that discretion was the better part of valour and, after a cursory few minutes of conversation for the honour of the flag, they wound the meeting up after five minutes and we all went back to what we were doing. Which, in my case, was trying to work being interrupted; this time by people now wanting to check whether I was OK after my minor lapse in temper...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
It hasn't been the easiest of weeks. Actually, it hasn't been the easiest of months. June has been marked by endless injuries and a constant series of health problems, culminating in various worries about my on-going blood chemistry problems. But at least these seem now to be easing, thanks to positive news from the hospital and gradual but definite improvements in my hearing.

And work hasn't been much better: we're at the peak period in our usual five year cycle; we're short of people and things are likely to get worse before they get better; and we're up against a series of deadlines which have suddenly become contentious, requiring a great deal of scrupulous attention to detail. But on the plus side, at least I've discovered a use for my philosophy MA: a solid grounding in how to write a short, clear, pointed email with precise attention to the points being answered...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Suprise visit from ES today. Sadly her only free moment coincided with our two hour planning meeting, so I thought I'd missed her. But as I was leaving I saw a familiar figure standing next to a group of people obviously waiting for a taxi and we managed to fit in a quick ten minute catch up before her cab arrived...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Gentle day in the office, fixing a few glitches in one of my existing codes and pottering along with a few other things. Gave my presentation for the third time — fortunately just a subset this time — and found that I've now reached the point where I can rattle the thing off in my sleep.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
In the office for the only the second time this week, principally to present at a meeting with a group of externals. It all seemed to pass off well and they asked a number of interesting questions, most of which I'd already anticipated putting me in the happy position of being able to say, when we reached the appropriate slide, "We've touched upon this already but..."
sawyl: (A self portrait)
I've finally had a good week which, given the weeks I have been having, feels like it's more than a bit overdue. Partly it's a consequence of my long weekend, spent recharging in Coventry with my family. But equally, I suspect it's the result of having some exciting new work to be getting on with; something that makes me realise the degree to which I haven't really stretched myself over the last couple of months.

I've got some interest new ideas to do with workload balancing — my area of expertise only in as much as everyone tries to avoid it! — and I've had some really good discussions about different methods of charging, about the problems of passing costs directly back to individuals, and the problems that occur when costs and payments replace social pressures and altruism — I'm pretty sure Michael Sandel talks about this somewhere in the contest of paying blood donors in the US. I don't think there's a perfect solution — ultimately it's going to be a combination of a politics, compromise, and personal taste — but I'm sure there are ways to improve and simplify the existing methods and still achieve the required goals.

I've also reached the point where this year's Manic Reading Project has reached last year's total, despite having two and a bit months of the year still to run. I doubt I'll beat 2012's total — a shocking 165 books — unless I switch to reading nothing but the very shortest of novels, but I'm still going to try and give it a serious run for its money.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
I was lucky and managed to get to work in a brief gap between thunderstorms, but others weren't so lucky and arrived looking distinctly bedraggled. Then, in the middle of a conversation about a thorny problem that had kept someone up until three this morning, there was the huge flash of nearby lightning strike followed by an abrupt loss of power to the building. Not exactly the most auspicious start to the day. But the UPS did its job and the power feeds switched to an alternate substation and things gradually started coming back on. Just as well: I'm not sure either of us was up to the chore of a cold restart...
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Rather rocky start to the day that left me wondering whether I was going to be up to tonight's trip to the Blue Ball. But after dumping my woes on JC over coffee, I felt slightly better and managed to make a couple of minor breakthroughs with the thing I've been toying with for the last couple of days. In the process I realised that nmon didn't seem to be handling long group definitions correctly, indicating that my code was probably correct and the command was probably wrong.

In need of further cheering up, I left work on the dot and went down to the Quay for an hour of climbing before going out. By chance I bumped into A and we crammed in a few lead routes before he had to leave. I finished up with some work on the auto routes, including a couple of new ones I'd not tried before, and dashed home for a swift shower before hurrying off to JC&F to catch my lift to the pub.

After a couple of false starts — we got lost somewhere in Wonford — which, thanks to a combination of a stuffy car and lots of speed bumps, left F feeling a little carsick, we picked up the last passenger and we were off. It was an enjoyable evening with a full complement — both people from work and the oenophiles — and everyone was on good form. It took us a while to decide whether to eat indoors or out and we eventually plumped for in on the basis that it was likely to cool down a lot after sunset, only to reverse our decision after the main course when we realised how stuffy it was inside.

I'm glad I went in the end: a nice evening with friends was just what I needed to snap me out of this morning's gloom.
sawyl: (A self portrait)
Slightly tricky bit of scheduling today after I realised that my appointment with the plumber overlapped with my benchmarking session — yet another GMT/BST confusion. Fortunately I got home in time to run complete the testing before the guy came round to sort out the problem.

With work wrapped up and the domestic affairs in order, I went for an afternoon of bouldering. I repeated everything I'd done so far and started working on a couple of new problems — both of which require tricky balance — and something I can't even see how to start. I also checked the results for the first round and was pleased to discover I hadn't finished last. I hadn't done particularly well, coming somewhere in the last third or quarter, but I came out more or less where I expected relative to the rest of the usual boulderers.


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September 2017

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