HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for October, 2007

Yorkshire Guide Books

Posted by HelenEdith on October 27, 2007

The Hidden Places of Yorkshire including the Yorkshire Dales
Yorkshire Dales (Landmark Visitors Guide)
Yorkshire Dales (Waymaster Vistor Guide)

These three guides to Yorkshire proved to be good reference material to take with us on our recent holiday in Yorkshire.

They’re not the sort of books that I’d read cover to cover, but they were useful to dip into, and I’m sure that they helped us to decide what we were going to see during our holiday.

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Book Review: Maggie Bennett – The Tailor’s Daughter

Posted by HelenEdith on October 27, 2007

The library had this book categorised as an historical romance, but I consider that to be an incorrect categorisation. It’s a historical novel all right, but there’s not much romance about it.

Tabitha, the tailor’s daughter, meets Mariette de St Aubyn, when her family move into the square where Tabitha’s father has his business. Despite their different stations in life, the two girls form a close bond, and they attend the same school during their formative years.

Mariette receives an offer of marriage from the second son of an Irish nobleman, and Tabitha accepts employment with them rather than taking up her own offer of marriage to a man who was an apprentice of her father’s before starting his own very successful business.

So starts an interesting menage a trois which culminates in Tabitha bearing Conor the son that Mariette is unable to carry to term.

It is only after Conor’s priest forbids the continued association between Tabitha and her employers that Tabitha is freed from this relationship, at the cost of never seeing her son again. She goes to work as a seamstress in a factory, but her own family find her and the book seems to end happily, but in no way would I describe this as a romance!

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Book Review: Sharon Sala – The Chosen

Posted by HelenEdith on October 27, 2007

This book starts with a pimp who has a rather unpleasant near-death experience and comes to the deluded conclusion that not only does he need to clean his act up, but that he has to do it by living like Jesus did, which he attempts to do. The trouble is that his disciples are not very willing and so he abducts them and keeps them chained up in appalling conditions.

Journalist January DeLena gets involved because she’s interested in interviewing people who have had near-death experiences, and so she goes looking for the self-proclaimed Messiah.

As this is romantic suspense, there has to be some male interest, and he appears in the form of detective Benjamin North, who has no time for journalists, but for whom January has the hots.

Anyway, January sees the pattern of the disappearance of a series of homeless men with biblical names and gets seriously involved in a race to catch the “Messiah” when he is linked to the death of a prominent citizen who happens to have a biblical name.

I always find Sharon Sala’s books to be a good read, and this one was no exception.

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Book Review: Joyce Holms – Hot Potato

Posted by HelenEdith on October 27, 2007

This was a book that took a lot of getting into. It’s actually part of a series of books featuring Fizz Fitzgerald and the long-suffering Tam Buchanan, and I wonder whether it would have been easier to start with the first book in the series.

In this book, Fizz and Tam rescue an elderly and very drunk man from some bogus cops who seem to be intent on killing him. The trouble is that Scott McKenzie is so drunk that he has no idea why anybody would want to kill him.

We follow the adventures of Fizz and Tam as they attempt to keep Scott save and out of the way of whoever wants him dead until such time as they can figure out why anyone wants him dead in the first place.

This was quite a humorously written book, what with Fizz’s antics and Tam’s long-suffering reactions to them, but I’m probably not in a hurry to reacquaint myself.

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Website update: Yorkshire Holiday Travelogue

Posted by HelenEdith on October 22, 2007

I’ve put up a blog-style travelogue on my website with a page for each day we were away in Yorkshire.

We visited Fountains Abbey, the Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham, Ripon Cathedral, the National Railway Museum in York, plus various dales, moors and waterfalls.

There will be more pictures along later, but for now you can read all about our holiday by clicking here. There’s one picture per page.

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Entry for October 03, 2007 – Home-working and Problem-solving

Posted by HelenEdith on October 3, 2007

Today was Wednesday, so I worked at home. It breaks the week up a bit to have a commuting-free day in the middle of the week, and it can be good to be away from the hustle and bustle of the office.

I’m not completely free of the office as my phone is forwarded to my home phone number and of course my email is still there, and today I had a number of phone calls and the usual stream of emails, but somehow the interruptions seem to take less time when there’s nobody else around me to get involved in them.

I wouldn’t want to work at home all the time as I like the interaction with colleagues that I get in the office. Working in a support team, I find that I’m much more aware of what’s going on if I’m mostly in the thick of it; and I also enjoy brainstorming with Dave, who sits at the next desk.

However, for one day a week, it’s nice to be a little more distant from all of that; and today I felt that I got a good day’s work done. I did various bits and pieces this morning and then sat down to complete the code reviews on my task list. They’d been waiting for a couple of days, so I really needed to get to them. One was easy to review and pass, while the other had to go back to the developer for a bit more work, and with a recommendation that maybe the designer needed to take a look, too.

This afternoon I had a call from a colleague who thought that if anyone knew whether there was a data fix in existence for a particular problem, it would be me, and he was right! There was a fix, and he asked me to instal it for him, which I did.

Then I settled down to look at another problem which has been around for a while, but which I hadn’t looked at before. I think I approached it from a slightly different direction from the previous investigator, and I cracked it! Investigating is a difficult skill to teach. Some problems are well defined and you can put together a set of tests to run which will usually track down the cause of the problem, but other problems come with no clear direction to investigate from, and I chose to slant my investigation differently from the previous investigator. Maybe I did it because I knew what the previous investigator had done without arriving at a solution, or maybe I just chose my approach for other reasons which aren’t entirely clear even to me.

Anyway, I found that looking at the history of how the data had already behaved worked for me, where the approach of running the data and observing it hadn’t worked for the last investigator. Maybe I chose my approach simply because I am good at delving around in iSeries journals. My approach gave me the name of the program which was setting on the flag being investigated. It was the program I thought it would be, but it was nice to have confirmation, because then I could concentrate on that program, confident that it probably contained the key to the investigation.

It turned out to be one of those evil two-step processes, where the program ran the first time and set the flag on seemingly randomly, and then on the second time through it reported the error that I was searching for. Then it was just a matter of determining how the flag was set on, and there were only two choices. A quick look through an error report soon told me which choice was the right one, and armed with that information, I was able to arrive at why the flag got set on. Once I knew why, it wasn’t random at all, but there were good sound reasons for the flag being set on just occasionally.

All in all, it was a satisfying day’s work and I was able to tick a number of things off from my task list.

Best of all, when I packed up at the end of the day, I didn’t have a 30+ mile drive along busy roads, but just a short walk across the hallway and I was on my own time!

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