It could be worse

I feel the need to write something about the election, partly because all the cool kids are doing it (and, I suspect, have become heartily sick of reading them), and partly because given my rate of LJ-postiness I might not otherwise manage one during the lifetime of this government...

Anyway, I'm not exactly thrilled by the Lib-Con coalition government we'd ended up (my guess when I went to bed at 4:30am on election night was that that's what we'd end up, though I guessed it'd be more of an informal agreement than the fairly official pact we seem to have ended up with) but I'm not too let down either.

A big part of that is that I was already pretty disillusioned with the Lib Dems. I voted for them in the last election and was a big supporter at the time, but after their leadership fight and their repeated unwillingness to actually commit themselves to a left-wing agenda rather than scrabbling for the popular centre I gave up on them. I'm actually a member of the Green party now, not because I've become a rabid environmentalist (I don't oppose animal testing of medicines or the building of nuclear power plants, which puts me on the right wing of the party) but because they actually have a strong social-liberal agenda that's actually relatively practical. Not that it'll ever be put into practice, but if I'm going to vote for a non-viable candidate it might as well be one with policies I mostly agree with.

The one thing I really wanted out of this election was electoral reform, and thank goodness that the Lib Dems have retained some sanity and held to their guns on that one. To be honest, they weren't put in a particularly enviable position by the election results - for all their kingmaker power it was hard to see that the 'progressive pact' various people touted could possibly hold together for more than a matter of months; the need to placate the regional parties in the coalition by protecting their region from the worst of the economic cuts that are coming would have torn it apart even without the difficulty of trying to get 300+ MPs from five parties to line up and vote the same way. So that left a pact with the Conservatives, or getting absolutely destroyed in a new general election: between the backlash of disappointment over their failure to do well in the last election and the fact that people would be voting either Conservative or Labour in the hope of ending up with one of the two main parties with an absolute majority I'd have thought they'd be lucky to hold 45 seats.

And so we're in for a Conservative government restrained from some of the crazier/nastier right-wing stuff by their need to keep the Lib Dems from bolting. After 13 years in power Labour desperately needs some time in the wilderness to pick a new leadership, find their energy again and decide what they actually believe in. And with two of the three main parties and most of the country backing electoral reform I think we might actually manage it despite the inevitable screams of the Murdoch press - Alternate Vote is the likely outcome, which isn't PR by any means but does mean we preserve the link between constituency and MP, and the people retain the ability to vote out particular MPs (in fact, if Recall passes then that'll be possible even between elections). I was hoping they'd swap out George Osborne for Vince Cable as chancellor, but given the economic crisis and emphasis on the economy I didn't think it too likely.

Otherwise in the annual State of the Rob:
* Rob is good
* Rob now works for Cisco (they bought Tandberg last month, who bought the company I work for a couple of years back). As such I've gone from working for a 25 person start-up to a 65,000 person multinational, all without moving desk. Still having a lot of fun, though.
* Rob is off to California next week to meet the Cisco people in San Jose (and take the opportunity for a week's holiday in Yosemite and San Francisco beforehand).
* Rob will stop talking about himself in the third person now.

I return unbroken

I spent the weekend on a company ski trip. On the downside, the location (Hemsedal) is four hours drive from Oslo, and to save money we flew from Stanstead to Torp, so we essentailly lost a day to travel each way, setting off at an ungodly hour on Friday and getting back Monday evening. On the plus side, the company paid for travel and most of the meals, so we only really had to stump up for equipment hire and accomodation.

I haven't skied in ages, since I was fifteen if I remember rightly, and while other people have been learning on dry slopes before they went I hadn't bothered, so I was a little unsure whether or not I'd be able to remember what on earth I was meant to do. Fortunately, it all came back very quickly, and since I much less malcoordinated than I was when I was young I'm probably actually better than I was back then.

Anyway, the whole thing was enormous fun, and I pretty much spent the entire weekend either skiing, drinking or sleeping (and not a great deal of the latter). Impressively, major injuries were avoided by all.

On the house front I'm now just about sorted - I bought a matress yesterday, and that should be delivered next Thursday. There are still some things that need sorting out in the longer term - I could do with some proper kitchen chairs, along with a sideboard and maybe a coffee table for the living room, but I'm going to take a breather before I start in on all that stuff. Next step is to sort out a housewarming

Warm and cozy

I spent yesterday schlepping boxes and sofas and the like into my new house - the run-up to the move was all a bit fraught as the varying excuses banks use to hang on to money for as long as possible meant it took over a week to transfer the money from my NS&I account to current account and be able to pay it out - as such I was making the bank transfer at about the last possible moment.

In the end it all worked out OK, though, and the house is great. Big, too - my sofa, which used to look quite large in my flat, looks much smaller in the new living room (especially since there's absolutely nothing else in there at present). I'll post pictures once I've got things squared away.

Over the weekend I'll move the last few bits and pieces out of the flat and clean it before my tenancy expires on Monday - I'm likely to be without net access for an undefined period; I can check emails and the like at work, but if you need to get hold of me in a hurry over the weekend ring instead.


Well, I've now signed the contract on the house, and in theory there won't be any more delays until I can take possession on the 5th of next month. Go house!

I'm at the cutting edge of (2004's) technology

I've finally given in and joined Facebook; resistant as I've been to the idea of belonging to two different and incompatible social networking sites (I still think some sort of LJ/Facebook/Twitter/Bebo/Myspace aggregator would do well) it was simply becoming too much hassle not to.

Robert Hansen's Facebook Profile

Earning my daily crust

Photo taken Friday - we're playing Mario Kart on the office Wii. We're wearing hats because on Thursday evening a bunch of us were in the pub and decided that there weren't enough opportunities to wear hats these days, so we christened the next day "Hat Friday".

It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it...

A LARPing we will go

LARP has always seemed one of those things I'd enjoy, but I've never had the impetus to actually take part in properly. But this weekend I was invited up to Broxbourne to monster at a Lorien Trust Lions event - monstering meant I didn't have to worry overmuch about character or kit, but could just focus on hitting people with latex weapons.

It was a great weekend - ran around a scout camp in a variety of costumes and makeups hitting people and falling down a lot. I mostly eschewed talky roles (due to lack of setting knowledge) for hitty roles, but the Lions tendency to heal and interrogate fallen foes meant I got some impromptu talking in anyway; I also got to yell at PCs as a nigh-unkillable bear-man leader at one point.

I was also impressed by how good people were at pulling blows, even in the confusion of a melee - I took one hit that was too hard (a pole-arm to the back of the neck as I was standing up) and even then the wielder came over to apologise once the battle was over. I've still got various bruises and nettle stings, but those were from overenthusiastic falling down on my part. And a shield-wall of fifty or so people in full kit looks pretty impressive (particularly when you're standing ten feet away wondering how to breach it) - I can only imagine what the final battles at the Gathering must look like.

Thanks very much to littlegemma, Ben and everyone else for putting me up, lending me kit, explaining the rules (repeatedly) and everything else.

A restless night

I was woken up at around 2:15 this morning by a crashing noise from the other side of the house. Since in my time I've managed to cheerfully sleep through fire alarms, storms, and a couple of earthquakes, it must have been a hell of a noise. Anyway, there are a few more bumps, so I pull on my dressing gown and slippers and grab a torch.

Anyway, since the security light on the side of the house was on I take the opportunity to open the window and peer out. Sleep-fogged brain takes about thirty seconds to realise what's odd about this image before it clicks - the downstairs roof of the extension to the office downstairs is missing, and I'm looking at bare boards. Burglars did, in fact, try to steal my roof.

Stomp downstairs, to find the lead roof in a crumpled pile by the side of the building, whoever was there having legged it (I switched the lights on to find my stuff, so they had some warning). Quite how they were planning to move it is unclear - the gates were closed, so they must have come over the fence, and a 6x9 foot roof produces quite a bit of lead.

Anyway, I spent the next hour or so waiting for the police, giving a statement and so on - the police wanted to know if I'd be prepared to testify if they caught the guy(s); I said yes, but since the lead wasn't actually taken and they didn't take fingerprints or anything, it's unclear how they'd prove beyond reasonable doubt they had the right guy even if he was caught prying next doors roof off. Talked with the people from the office this morning about it - landlord's been informed, everyone seems pretty laid back (and it doesn't really affect me, since the extension's ground-floor only, not part of the flat).

It then took me about four hours to get back to sleep, so at this point I'm mostly operating on caffeine. But now I've had some and have perked up a bit, I can see the funny side - burglars tried to steal my roof.

My bank account quails and cowers

A mere decade after Kazaa, there's finally a service I can download music from legally which fits my various requirements (mp3 format, decent bitrate, no DRM) -, who I already had an account with because they sell cheap DVDs.

It's still not perfect - they've only got music distributed by EMI, so 90% of the stuff I've searched for hasn't been there. And there's no obvious way to browse all of the music on the site by genre or anything, so you're stuck with searching for particular bands or track names.

But even so I've already managed to drop about £40 on albums and individual tracks. If they ever manage to up their library to the level of iTunes it'll be both fantastic (since I'll be able to buy almost any song in the world with a couple of clicks) and expensive (since I'll be able to buy almost any song in the world with a couple of clicks).

Fortuituous coincidences in english

I've been working on Windows GUI code recently, and was tickled to discover that when it came to drawing a border, my variables names produced a lovely cascade effect when it came to lengths. Defining all four edges of a window, as well as the four corners, produces:

This gave a happy thrill out of all proportion to its actual import.