Dreamwidth 11/2004

03/11/2004: Menace to Eartth

When I watch footage of UN administered elections in Third World countries I always admire the fortitude of those voters who brave the elements for hours, patiently waiting for their first chance to use their democratic rights.

So its sad to see the same scenes repeated in the richest country on Earth, where the candidates spend $1.2bn on their campaign, but they can't arrange enough polling stations, staff or machines to administer a vote. Were the 4 hour queues quoted on British TV common across the US, and is it just that a Disney society accepts queuing, or is it a Republican ploy to keep the numbers down?

After all that, watching on and off all night, they re-elect that dangerous idiot again ....

Railing against Bush is of little point here, as it would be pushing against an open door, as I'm sure all my friends on both sides of the Pond want that man out of office.

04/11/2004: Friendly Fans

I went to the Ton (fannish pub meeting) last night. Boarding the train at Orpington at 1830 and sitting down randomly, I noticed the chap sitting next to me was reading a fanzine, so I asked if he was going to the Tun too. He was, so I mentioned the paperback I was reading. He grunted, and then ignored me for the rest of the journey, engrossed in his PDA and fanzine, shunning me from from 12 away. From this information, can you guess who it was?

05/11/2004: Grenoble

Fairly successful visit to HP on Thursday, less so with a customer on Friday, partly because of my ignorance, partly the language barrier and French keyboards.

Grenoble has a spectacular setting, nestled between huge limestome mountains, and I had a great Saturday climbing one

the French had thoughfully fortified for me. Range upon range of bastions and staircases climbing the hillside, and surprisingly hard to distinguish between works from 1591, Vauban in 1700 and Haxo in 1830, especially as the casemates and gun plaforms seemed too small for the contemporary guns. Great views, and people clambering over the rock faces.

More casemates on a murky Sunday, then museums of Alpine life (having to live with your cows for warmth sounds lovely), art and the Resistance.

Rather pointless Monday, because of the stealth bank holiday, and the peculiar French idea that museums should be less rather than more open.

05/11/2004: SC2004

I'm off for our week at Supercomputing 2004 at Pittsburgh. A stressful week because of poor advance planning, so I escaped on Thursday lunchtime to hide from the bedlam by 'working at home' today. I did some work, but also watched Dad's ritual kippering at the bonfire.

I'm pondering ways to manage my stress levels next week, given so much hasn't been done, and how to stop saying what I feel.

07/11/2004: SC2004 #1

Smooth flight, fingerprinting and photo, but arrived exhausted in Pittsburgh. I took 's suggestion and walked down to Fort Pitt early in the morning. All that's left is a blockhouse, with a reconstructed red-brick bastion which looks suspicious because the bridge approaches go straight through it.

Trying to pace myself at the conference. So far, half the furniture we ordered failed to turn up, the IBM box won't boot, the Sun box won't run OpenGL applications and we've not got enough american power blocks to even power up the HP box. So typical chaos.

IBM win the prize for most ambitious shipping, having put 8 Blue Gene cabinets in front of their stand, Stonking ammounts of hardware everywhere, but I expect I'll be tied doing the 'dog and pony show' with the software while my bosses schmooze. I've escaped a lunch and reception so far to keep some peronal quiet time and rest my aching feet.

10/11/2004: SC2004 #2

Our stand has big background posters with our product names, and buzzwords like Grid enabled, HPC interoperability etc. Sadly, it doesn't say what they actually DO, and this was only pointed out to us 2 days into the event.

The IBM box had hardware failures and its replacement got lost in transit from Austin to Pittsburgh, so we've given up.

The HP work works, but no-one has expressed an interest in looking at it.

The Sun box works, but its in the Sun area, and with just our old company name, no-one will stop, so I've abandoned that area.

We've not got enough power sockets, so are juggling 3 laptops off one power feed.

My boss insists I demo standing up on a podium too small for a mouse, so I faff around with touchpads to everyone's confusion.

I got very depressed last night and confided in some of my colleages (but the bosses) about considering resignation. We'll see if they respect the confidentiality I asked for.

I'm calmer today, but still hate being in an event the size of a Worldcon but knowing no-one outside the company.

11/11/2004: Lest we forget

Name: BRAY, JOHN

Initials: J

Nationality: United Kingdom

Rank: Private

Regiment: 1st (Royal) Dragoons

Date of Death: 24/01/1916

Service No: 5368

Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead

Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 1

Cemetery: LOOS MEMORIAL

Not a relation AFAIK

12/11/2004: SC2004 #3

The conference is finished at last. I had a Japanese chap introduced to me, and as I started the demo his hooded eyelids closed every more, then his head nodded and he fell asleep. I paused, prodded him awake, and continued the demo, feeling so worthwhile.

Being in the presence of so many extroverts is so tiring. My attention wanders whenever the salesmen launch into war stories, and whenever I do try and speak up and broach my concerns with the compnay, however tactfully worded, I seem to face rejection.

I applied for 2 jobs today.