bookzombie: (chris)
So I haven't heard anything about the OUP interview for the last week so I chased up with the agent this morning. Turns out that there was another person to interview and they were sick so they had to reschedule the interview.

So I'm still waiting, but the agent did say that HR at OUP said that my interview had gone well, so it's definitely not a 'no' at this point. 
bookzombie: (chris)
Firstly, I have now finished at Yell! Monday was a very strange day (with the usual total lack of organisation on the part of my now-ex-boss) so I didn't actually get away until pretty much my usual leaving time. It was quite emotional in some ways (especially when I got a hug from my boss. He is not a hugger normally...I think he's genuinely sorry to see me go!) and I did have a little speech and presentation - a card and a reasonably nice bottle of bubbly (though I did find myself thinking that after 14 years, it didn't look like anyone had emptied their pockets to contribute. Does that make me a bad person?)

I had my face-to-face interview at OUP on Tuesday afternoon and as far as I can tell it went pretty well. I was the last person they were interviewing and they did say that they wanted to make a decision quickly, but it's been a couple of days without hearing anything so now of course my brain is doing the following:

  • Optimistic part: Well, it's been a couple of days and I haven't heard anything, but that's probably good: if they really weren't interested they could have sent a 'thanks but no thanks' note to my agent pretty quickly

  • Pesimistic part: Huh. I bet they've offered the job to someone else and they're not telling us yet in case that person (or persons - it sounded like they have a couple of vacancies) turns it down

  • Sensible part: the person recruiting was really, really busy so it probably means that they just haven't had time to sit down and make a decision yet (but who ever listens to the sensible part, right?)

Assuming the deal was okay, I would probably take the role if offered: they seem a nice bunch and it would be a good opportunity for me to consolidate my skills. But in the meantime, it's playing the waiting game. Have I mentioned how much I hate job hunting?!

It was really weird being back in the building after 17 and a half years. I was surprised how easily my feet found their way (though if I did get the job, I would have to work out what the best park and ride to use would be - the routes have all changed and the one that I used to get now only goes into the city centre and no further), but I have to say Little Clarendon Street feels much longer than it used to! I must be getting old...

On other job news, I got a message from a contact at Xactly corp (who design and install sales commission software) as they have some vacancies coming up that I might be interested in, so I'm expecting a call from them at some point in the next few days.

So things are happening, albeit slowly!

Yay!

Feb. 25th, 2016 03:44 pm
bookzombie: (chris)
Who has two thumbs and a face-to-face interview at OUP on Tuesday? That would be me!

I'm very pleased: even if I don't get through or decide I don't want the role, it's a boost to my confidence to get through to this stage. They wanted me to come in on Monday (which I can't as it's my last day at Yell so I have to be in the office) so must be fairly keen!

Phew!

Feb. 24th, 2016 12:17 pm
bookzombie: (chris)
And in a follow-up from last night's panic post, I've had the telephone interview and I think it went quite well. I certainly didn't come away thinking I'd made a fool of myself, which is a good first step!

I should hear fairly quickly (I'm guessing by the end of the week) whether they want to take it any further. The face-to-face interview would also includes some sort of 'task' (I'm assuming a presentation of some description) which is not unusual in technology jobs these days.

But in the meantime I can relax a bit. Thanks to the notes of encouragement people gave me in response to my post yesterday!

Panic!

Feb. 23rd, 2016 06:43 pm
bookzombie: (chris)
Ahhh! For some reason I've driven myself into extreme, stomach-churning anxiety about my telephone interview with OUP tomorrow. Honestly, it shouldn't really be that big a deal - I reckon I can cover off most of the questions they are likely to ask reasonably well.

Maybe it's because it's my first interview this year and I don't have any others lined up so it's got an uneven weight in my head?

Have I mentioned that I hate interviews?!

Good thoughts around 11am tomorrow morning would be appreciated!
bookzombie: (chris)
1. I have a telephone interview for the job at OUP on Wednesday! I've no real expections that this will go anywhere, but it's the most positive response I've had for a while. Inevitably I've been having occasional panics about the job hunting. I'm trying to remain as positive as I can but I just wish I was finding more jobs I can apply to. There's an awful lot that it just isn't worth starting with. I am, however, trying to train myself into not feeling that I have to have 100% of the requirements in the advert to apply. I did try applying to something that I fit 90% of, but the one requirement I didn't have (someone with SQL Server skills was) a deal-breaker, unfortunately. Onward.

2. Related to that, it's my last full week in the old job next week! This notice period really has gone very fast. I only went into the office one day last week, the rest of the time I've essentially been on Gardening Leave; I have been going through emails and documents and making sure that anything that might be useful to someone else is filed where they could get at it. I've also been taking the opportunity to grab some documents I wrote so that I can put together a sort of portfolio of my work.

3. I've finally got around to sorting my review blog out. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'd decided to cancel the hosted site as I wasn't updating it often to justify the cost (especially now.) So the blog is back to http://bookzombieblog.wordpress.com from today. It's in a fairly bland basic layout at the moment but I'll probably tweak that later.

4. We've started a rewatch of Buffy the Vampire Slayer recently - currently about a third of the way through season 2 (my favourite season overall) - and really enjoying it. There'll probably be a post about this on the review blog at some point, but there really are some things it does very well. Of course with nearly 20 years (gulp!) hindsight there are things that really don't work for me as well; for example Xander's continuous lusting after Buffy in the first couple of seasons gets really creepy really quickly, but also Willow's yearning after Xander starts to feel increasingly problematical (he's no more obliged to fall in love with her than Buffy is to fall in love with him.) Also the passage of time has made it so much more noticeable how incredibly whitethis show is.

5. As friends who also read P.'s LJ will know, her mum is not well at the moment. She had a (fairly minor) operation but there have been some complications that have meant she hasn't recovered as quickly as was hoped. P.'s dad is struggling to cope (he's not young and has had his own health issues), so P. and her sister have been organising spending some time helping out once her mum gets out of hospital. Alas, our parents are getting to the age where they need a bit more help than they used to...
bookzombie: (chris)
 I've been thinking about bookzombieblog, my review site. Given that I have really long breaks without updating it (almost exactly a year since the last update, a break of 18 months before that batch of reviews), it's just not worth paying for the hosted version of the site so I am moving it back to the free Wordpress version.

While I'm going through the cancellation process for the hosting I've created a temporary free wordpress account for the imported content http://bookzombieblog2.wordpress.com. Once everything is sorted I'll move the content back to the original version of the account (I might keep the domain name - it's only around £20 a year.)

It doesn't mean that I'm planning to make the site completely defunct. In fact, I'm hoping to start updating it more often; not having the hosting costs hanging over me mean that I feel happier to post shorter reviews without feeling that I have to put too much 'professional' effort into it!
bookzombie: (chris)
I was surprised to realise that I haven't updated what's happening here since early December, so...

I have been applying for jobs, although none have yet borne fruit. I'll admit to being a little disheartened at times. I am hitting the issue that I was expecting: I don't have quite the right level of experience for many of the jobs I'm applying for and the fact that my job has been officially as a Solutions Architect but I've mainly been doing Enterprise Architecture and Business Analysis is biting me on the bottom a bit. It is a bit depressing when I know that I have good skills (they wouldn't have kept me on for 14 years while making most of my peers redundant if I didn't), but I'm struggling to sell that to other people.

On the plus side, I'm getting a few jobs a week that are worth at least considering applying for and I've also had a few enquiries from agencies about contract roles. As I've noted before, I can't really consider that until closer to my leaving date (which has been confirmed as 29th February - or 'work for free day' as I like to think of it...), but at least I'm already getting some interest.

I have to keep reminding myself that we did plan this and knew that there was a chance I wouldn't have a job sorted before my leaving date, so not to panic or get depressed about it!

As for work, including today I've got 3 weeks, then I'm on Jury Service for probably 2 weeks and then I've got just over a week once I get back (assuming I don't have to do more than 3 weeks Jury Service!) I'm mainly concentrating on handover of the HR stuff right now, which is about as painful as expected. I have to keep reminding people that while it is my job to pull together documentation, help sheets and do any training that's required, it's not my job to choose who should be covering all the things I have been looking after!

I have had some project work to do (Gap Analysis mainly), but this is easing off. In fact I have the weird situation of having zero meetings scheduled this week so far! I can see that within a couple more weeks I will effectively be on a sort of 'Gardening Leave' as I will have finished all the things I have to do and they are not going to give me any more work to pick up.

I'll be honest, even though the 3 months notice period feels like it's passing more quickly than it has at previous jobs, I am getting to the 'I just want to be gone' point now.

Onwards! Send me positive vibes :-) 
bookzombie: (chris)
(Below be spoilers)

You know sometimes that you are out of tune with lots of other readers? This is one of those books for me: I know that lots of people like it - there's even a TV production being made by syfy channel for early 2016 - but I'm afraid I mainly disliked it, a lot.

The problem for me is that although I think I can see what Grossman was trying to do here - it's particularly a deconstruction of the idea of secondary worlds as an escape from reality - I found the protagonist, and most of his friends, so completely unpleasant that I just didn't care.

Look, I'm not someone who needs all their lead characters to all be kind and nice - I really enjoy Joe Abercrombie's books for example - but there was just some ultimately really repulsive about Quentin. I didn't start off strongly disliking him; in fact in the first few chapters I actually found him reasonably sympathetic - although I quickly found myself thinking 'This guy is obviously suffering from depression and really should be getting some professional help.' I found the sections set in the magical school a bit so so (did anyone else find themselves thinking of The Sword in the Stone during the training trip to Antarctica?), but it was really the post-school part that had me developing a burning dislike for most of the characters. I hated the hypocracy of Quentin's reaction to Alice sleeping with Penny after Quentin sleeps with Janet - I know that part of his anger is explicitly because he knows that he is on shaky moral ground, but that didn't make it any better to sit through. And I really didn't like the ending; not so much the fact he ends up voluntarily getting set up in the most mundane job possible (where he doesn't actually have to do any work, you notice), but the fact that he ends up being 'rescued' from it by his friends.

But it really presses some of my 'nope' buttons: Quentin is a 'poor little rich boy' who never really seems to take any responsibility for anything ("I have everything I ever wanted so why am I still not happy?" I dunno, could it be because you're a selfish arsehole?) and once again it's a story in which everyone else has to do the emotional 'heavy lifting', a trope that I'm getting a bit tired of at the moment (I've always enjoyed the TV series Castle, but we are giving up on it after this year because Castle never stops being a typical 'man-child' character and everyone around him is has to do the being an emotional grown-up so he can continue not to have to.) I also never feel that Quentin really learns anything from what has happened (reading the description of the second book in the trilogy doesn't make me feel particularly confident that he does grow up.)

So while I appreciate that some of the things I disliked about the book are what the book is supposed to be about, I just found it unpleasant. I suppose it's possible that I may have got more out of it had I been reading it when I wasn't suffering from anxiety... But I don't feel any urge to read the sequels, though is it hypocritical of me to still be interested in seeing how the TV version works? Mainly because there's some stuff in the book that I think is going to be very tricky to translate onto the screen!
bookzombie: (chris)
I've just finished reading Claire North's 'The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August', which I though was okay, if not great (I felt the stability of the history leading up to the birth of Harry - and the other 'rebirthing' characters - was an issue. When I consider how small a change would need to be made to either mine or pennski's lives to ensure that we never met, it feels improbable.)

However, it also reminded me of a particular problem with a lot of books - particularly, but not exclusively, ones that aim to be 'Literature' - and that is no-one seems to have even the vestige of a sense of humour.

Look, I've had some pretty disasterous and/or tragic things happen in my life and even at the worst time you still joke with people, make silly comments, generally find spots of humour. Much serious writing doesn't seem to do this and is as unrealistic as any other common complaint about writing.

This is why The Belgariad books were such a revelation to me when I was a teenager: it was the first fantasy novel I'd read where people joked with each other and teased each other in the way real people often do (I will, of course, admit to the fact that it soon became apparent that Eddings couldn't write any other sort of character, but I didn't know that then...)

It's also one of the reasons I enjoyed The Martian (the movie which we saw yesterday, I've not yet read the book): it's really funny and telling jokes in the face of disaster is very human.
bookzombie: (chris)
1. I've started on a silly 'in car' project. I'm listenting to all the tracks I have uploaded onto the computer in alphabetical order. This came about because I realised that I was frequently listening to the same tracks and there was some stuff I had not listened to for years.

The only rules:
1. I don't skip any tracks, even when I've got 3 or 4 versions of the same song (as you can imagine, musical theatre soundtracks and compilations are bad for this. Three versions of 'Another Suitcase in Another Hall' yesterday...), or different recordings of the same song by the same artist (so live versions, different album versions.)
2. Two exceptions: I skip any exact duplicates and I skip Christmas songs.

I'm about half-way through the 500-odd 'A's and still finding it a fun exercise. It'll take me a long time to get through everything though...

2. Bizarrely, I seem to have ended up on the mailing list for The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I have no idea how this has happened. I've asked several times to get removed (as I've pointed out I am neither American or anyone's daughter!), and actually got a human reply this time. Hopefully that should sort things...
bookzombie: (chris)
I've been doing a bit or re-reading recently. I picked up Barbara Hambly's 'Darwath' trilogy at Eastercon this year, which I haven't read since they were originally published in the UK  in 1985 (they were some of the very few BH books I didn't already own - I must have borrowed them from someone?)

I'm not going to talk much about the content, as [livejournal.com profile] pennski hasn't read them yet, but I'm more interested in what I remember about them after 30 years. There were three important plot points I remember very clearly - though one of those isn't actually confirmed until pretty much the last chapter and I remember as being much more significant. But there's one hugely important relationship that I have absolutely no memory of at all. I also have no memory of the resolution of the main storyline, nor how much an asshole one of the protagonists is at times (I'd also note that I remembered one of the two protagonists as being the more important character and the other being secondary, but in fact it's the other way around.)

What does still impress is that - at a time when there were huge numbers of highly derivative high fantasies being published - there is a genuinely different threat, with no Dark Lord or evil masterplan and, in fact, could be seen as a natural disaster. There is also a wonderful chapter half way through the third volume where one of our protagonists explains What Is Going On which made me smile with genuine pleasure as I read it. So, yeah, overall I'd still recommend them, though with a certain caution; they are definitely stories of their time in some respects (some of the aforementioned assholeness of one of the protagonists may be only noticible because I am better educated about certain issues than I was at 18!)

Oh, and we have a number of female warriors in a medieval-ish setting and no-one mentions it as strange. This was 30 years ago! Why are we still having this conversation?
bookzombie: (chris)
In a lighter note to the most recent posts, that silly meme that's been going around.

1. Marmite—love or hate?
Put me in the 'love' column. Especially if it's on toast. I used to really like cheese and marmite sandwiches when I was young, but I once had one while watching Soylent Green on the television and haven't been able to face it since...

2. Marmalade—thick cut or thin cut?
Thick cut for preference, but I'll eat either.
3. Porridge—made with milk or water?
Half-and-half usually, but sometimes with milk only if I feel like a treat.
4. Do you like salt, sugar or honey on your porridge?
Sugar.
5. Loose tea or teabags?
Depends. Definitely loose for Earl Grey, but bags for most other things.
6. Where on your door is your letterbox?
The usual place, in the middle of the front door.
7. What's your favourite curry?
I don't really have a favourite - I like lots of different ones. I never go for a madras or vindaloo from a restaurant though - all you can taste then is chilli
8. What age is the place where you live?
Built in 1929. We became only the second owners of the house when we bought it in 1998.
9. Where do the folks running your local corner shop come from?
Local folks - but it's a Co-op, not a family corner shop.
10. Instant or fresh coffee?
Fresh, every time. Filter coffee for preference (though I disgust some people by being perfectly happy to warm it up in the microwave), usually cappaccino from coffee shops (a flat white is not the same as filter coffee...)
11. How far are you from the sea?
About 25 miles (we're pretty much dead north from Southampton)
12. Have you travelled via Eurostar?
No
13. If you were going to travel abroad, where's the nearest country to you?
France
14. If you're female (or possible even some males) do you carry a handbag?
n/a
15. Do you have a garden? What do you like growing?
We have a long, narrow back garden. We have mixed hedgerows and we also now have a couple of raised beds which have had various types of flower planted this year, plus some veggies. But to be fair, the garden is really [livejournal.com profile] pennski's pride and joy. I'm competent enough to do stuff if she points me in the right direction, but it's not something I tend to do just for myself. Gardens are for sitting and reading in!
16. Full cream, semi skimmed or skimmed?
Semi-skimmed. As far as I'm concerned if you're going to have skimmed you might as well use water! I gather that full cream is not considered as bad for you as it used to be, but I find the taste a bit strong these days.
17. Which London terminal would you travel into if going to the capital?
Waterloo. We're on the Waterloo/Exeter St. David's line.
18. Is there a local greasy spoon where you live?
Not exactly. Nearest is a small kebab/pizza place, which has the advantage of being the one takeaway in the town that delivers.
19. Do you keep Euros in the house?
We've got some, left over from our last visit to Italy a few years ago.
20. Does your home town have a Latin, Gaelic or Welsh alternative.
No. The name 'Whitchurch' is, as you would guess, a contraction of 'white church'.
21. Do you have a well known local artist or author?
Richard Adams of 'Watership Down' fame, lives in the town. Though, given his age, not for much longer I would imagine!
22. Do you have a favourite Corrie character?
Nope. Haven't watched it since I stopped living with my parents.
23. Are your kitchen sink taps separate or a mixer?
Mixer.
24. Do you have a favourite brand of blended tea?
I like most teas, as long as they don't have rosehip in them (which gives me heartburn). We always have Earl Grey for breakfast and (unlike [livejournal.com profile] frostfox!), I'm very fond of licorice tea.
25. What's in your attic if you have one?
A box of cables, old Christmas and birthday cards, odds and sods of electronic equipment, Christmas decorations.
26. If you go out for a cream tea, what jam do you like on your scone?
Probably Strawberry - though I don't remember ever being given a choice!
27. Talking of scones—scon or scown? Jam or cream first?
Scon. Jam first I think.
28.Barth or bath?
Barth
29. Carstle or castle?
Carstle
30. What flavour of crisps do you favour?
If I had to choose just one flavour then salt'n'vinegar
31. If you go to the chippie, what do you like with your chips?
Fish or, once in a while, a battered sausage.
32. Take away, take out or carry out?
Take away, duh!
33. If you have one, what colour is your wheelie bin?
Black for normal rubbish, green for recycling
34. What colour skips does your local skip hire use?
Never noticed
35. Do you celebrate Guy Fawkes?
No We usually get a free view of lots of other people's firework displays though!
36. Dettol or TCP?
Dettol.
37. Do you have a bidet in the bathroom?
No.
38. Do you prefer courgettes or aubergines?
Horses for courses. Aubergines for stir-fries, corgettes for roasting or steaming (but being careful not to overcook them as they tend to go bitter.)
39. In the 'real world', do you have friends of other nationalities? Which nationalities?
American, Canadian, Irish, Italian, Indian, probably others but I'm at a loss to remember right now.
40. Do you have a holy book of any sort in the house?
Various editions of the Bible.
41. Do you prefer a hankie or tissues?
Hankies.
42. Are you a fan of crumpets? What do you like on them?
Had them for breakfast just this morning! Just butter is my usual preference, but sometimes maple syrup or jam.
43. Doorbell, knocker or both?
Doorbell (though lots of people seem to ignore it and just bang on the door instead)
44. Do you own a car? What sort?
Sadly, I own a BMW. Don't look at me like that, it wasn't my preference! It was supplied by work when they still supplied company cars. When they stopped the scheme, it was much cheaper to buy it from the hire company (by over £10k) than it would have been to buy a prefered replacement (I like Mondeos personally)
45. What sort of pants do you guys prefer? Y fronts or boxers?
Neither, I prefer briefs.
46. Anyone still a fan of suspenders?
Nope
47. Do you have a favourite quote from the bard?
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.
— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5)

I don't know why: I studied Macbeth for O'Level English Literature and this one has just stuck with me.

48. Do you like toasted muffins?
Yes, but very seldom have them
49. Do you think a traditional trifle should contain jelly?
Yes. Not that I've ever been a big fan of trifles - I'm not overfond of blancmange
50. Do you attend regular religious worship? Of what kind?
Not for over 20 years. My relationship with religion is ... complicated. Ask me what I think on any two days and I'd probably give a different answer (I semi-jokingly describe myself as a 'lapsed Baptist' in the same way people describe themselves as 'lapsed catholics')
bookzombie: (chris)
I don't often succomb to memeage, but I thought this was an interesting one (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] nwhyte for this one).

1. How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
We have a three-shelf bookcase in our bedroom with the majority of the TBR selection (both mine and [livejournal.com profile] pennski's), plus an overflow shelf in the built-in wardrobe. They are usually sorted into one of two orders: by date bought or by author - more often the former ('guilt order' as we tend to refer to it!) Note that this excludes the large selection of unread Doctor Who books and science fiction magazines which are in separate bookcases downstairs. Also any books which [livejournal.com profile] pennski has read and I haven't go on the bottom shelf of my bedside table (and vice versa).

For ebooks, I have an 'unread' category on the Kindle.

2. Is your TBR mostly print or ebook
The vast majority are print - though I'm prone to getting the ebook version as well if it's a particularly long (over 500 page) book for ease of reading! But I've got around 50 books that are only in the ebook version to read.

3. How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
It's a mixture. Right now I've separated out the books which have been bought as gifts over the last few years and I'm trying to catch up on those. Sometimes I try and catch up on outstanding hardbacks. Sometimes I try and catch up on books that are older, sometimes clear down where I've got lots of books by the same author (I think C. J. Cherryh is the current winner in the category with four.) And once in a while, when I get in a rut, I'll chose randomly using dice!

4. A book that's been on your TBR the longest.
Excluding the Doctor Whos and magazine (for that way lies madness!), the oldest currently on the 'to read' shelf is Farah Mendlesohn and Edward James' A Short History of Fantasy, which is dated 6th June 2010.

5. A book you recently added to your TBR
ebooks aside, the last books added where various Christmas presents off my Amazon wishlist, including The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (ed. Kelly Link and Gavin Grant), The Gate to the Women's Country (Sheri Tepper), The Golem and the Djinni (Helene Wecker), a book about the history of post-war UK musical theatre (a uncommonly apt gift from my parents-in-law!)

6. A book that will soon be added to your TBR
I'm trying not to buy any books for a little while to get rid of the double-stacking of the overflow shelf, but once I feel free to expand again priority is the new Karen Lord (The Galaxy Game), the new Kelly Link collection and the final volume of Adrian Tchaikovsky Shadows of the Apt series.

7. Number of shelves used to house your TBR
Four and half for the 'main' TBR (although that also includes books that only [livejournal.com profile] pennski will read), plus another two and half of Doctor Who books, plus a large number of shelves with old SF magazines (I've got a complete run of both Fantasy & Science Fiction and Asimovs, many of which remain unread, plus I'm about 5 years behind on Interzone which is my next priority on the magazines)

8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how painful is it for you to discard will-never-be-read TBR books?
Oh, I'd say about 5. I've got much better at giving books a go and if they are not engaging me for some reason after 50 pages or so, giving up. Sometimes discarded books will actually go on the 'read' shelves if I think there's a possibility that I might one day be in the mood for them (or if they are part of a set), otherwise they'll go to a charity shop.

9. A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you.
Of recent books, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This won pretty much every sf award last year, but I've just not got around to it yet.

10. Name your sources of powers - where do you get your books from?
A mixture. Some are presents. If I'm going to buy the physical book I'll try and get it from my local Waterstones first, but if not I'll go to Amazon (I don't have any independent book shops anywhere near me, alas). Then there's conventions; I can't count the number of times I've started reading books by an author because they impressed me on a panel at a convention, though of course this is not necessarily a direct correlation - there are people I love dearly but cannot stand their writing and vice versa.

11. A book on your TBR that you're dying to read
Too many to list. Ancillary Justice as mentioned above, Kameron Hurley's Infidel and Mirror Empire, The Golem and the Djinni, an unread Ken MacLeod that's been sitting there for a couple of years, etc., etc., etc... This is one of the reasons, incidentally, why we rearrange the order of the shelves once in a while. It reminds us of what we've got!

12. A book you'd recommend others to add to their TBR shelves
Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is great. Also, wearing my Carl Brandon Award juror hat from a couple of years ago, both the winners - Karen Lord's Redemption and Indigo and Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death - are both really good in very different ways (though I would say that, wouldn't I?!)

13. Is your TBR a force for good in your life?
Yes and no. For the first five years or so after we got married we didn't separate out our TBRs, we just ended up missing them and rereading other books. Since we separated them out, there's a tendency to go too far in the other direction and feel pressured to only read 'unread' books and not reread. Which is a shame because there are loads of things I'd like to reread (a complete Patricia McKillip reread is in my future...)
bookzombie: (chris)
I've been using Bookcat as my book cataloguing software for many years now, but unfortunately the person who produced it stopped selling and updating it a couple of years ago - although he has been keeping up maintenance on the dll to be able to download data from the internets.

I've been continuing to use I've invested a huge amount of time into keeping it up to date over the years, but I know it's been on borrowed time (for example, if I had to upgrade my PC to a later version of Windows I would probably have a problem.)

But this morning it look as if I might need to look at replacing it sooner rather than later. We've been doing an audit of the book collection and found some stuff missing. A couple of days ago I uploaded it with a few missing books and was going to do some more today. But for some reason in the last couple of days the option to download from the internet has stopped working - in that it is coming back with 'not found' for everything, even the books it found a couple of days ago.

Now this might be a temporary glitch and it will soon be working properly again, but if not I need to look at a replacement.

I've been having a look at trial versions and the only other one that comes close to the same functionality is 'collectorz' series of products. The main thing this has is it is the only alternative that allows you to specify the contents of books (e.g. in short story collections or magazines) and treats them as database items in their own right, not as text. It does deal with them slightly oddly in that you can have a 'contents' view, but if you double-click on the content item it takes you straight to the book it is in, not the content item, which makes it more key clicks to update than bookcat.

All-in-all I'm hoping not to have to change - it's going to be a lot of work and even the best alternative doesn't have as much flexibility, but I'll have to see what happens...

ETA: And since I wrote this, there's been a new dll for Bookcat which seems to have fixed the problem, so I don't think I need to worry yet!
bookzombie: (chris)
Yep, it's another large round of redundancies at work - 70 across the company this time, with 9 in technology. Yet again, I am - for the moment at least - safe. I ended up working from home today so I don't know yet who is affected.

I honestly don't know how I keep dodging the bullet; that's about seven rounds of redundancies since 2008! Moving into the architecture team certainly seems to have done it this time - I very much doubt I would be safe if I was still in my previous role.

The rhetoric for this round of redundancies is a little different from previously; it isn't being presented as a cull ('we have to reduce costs so lets get rid of 20% of the workforce'). Instead our CEO is talking about wanting to focus on particular areas so they are closing down some positions so that they can afford to recruit for others.

It's enough people once again to have the whole 45 day consultation period, but that seems to be perfectly timed to have all the decisions made - and probably implemented - by the end of the financial year.

Obviously I'm relieved for myself, but sorry for any colleagues who might be affected.
bookzombie: (chris)
So it's official: as of the beginning of the week I became a Solutions Architect. What does that mean? To be honest, mainly the same as the job I've being doing for 10 years but more focussed on high-level technical architecture than specific projects.

The good news is that I should be getting sponsored by the company to get the TOGAF certification (which is the Architecture equivalent of ITIL certification), which is a really good thing to have on your CV.

Overall this is good news. With the change in the company from global to local focus I really didn't have a clear role and the role I did have - even if it was due to changes in the company rather than any failures in my own performance - would look like a demotion on my CV, while this is definitely a step up.

It probably doesn't really make my job any more secure, but it should make getting the next one easier if and when I get there.

In general, after years of being in the doldrums the company seems to be turning things around, slowly, though cost cutting is still a real priority. Currently we occupy the 5th to the 10th floor of our building (although the 5th has been empty for a while) but today we had an announcement that we are giving up the 8th - 10th and just using the 5th - 7th. Sadly as part of this cost cutting we are also losing the canteen and the gym on the 10th floor. It's got to the point now where the only 'perk' they could take away is the car parking - which is super useful - but given that it is mainly fairly senior staff who use it they might keep it going for a while yet.

So mixed, but mainly personally good, news on the work front for a change.

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