Category Archives: 2773

40,000 days since the beginning of ‘time’

Next Tuesday feels like a significant day. Not only is it 7/7, and the fourth anniversary of the London bombings (in 2005), but it’s 40,000 days since the beginning of time. Well, not proper time, but since the start of the 1900s.

SELECT DATEDIFF(day,’19000101′,’20090707′)+1 AS DaysOf1900s

So if Day 1 is Jan 1, 1900 (as many systems tend to use – SQL actually considers it Day 0), Day 40000 is 7/7/2009.

I actually rate the start of the twentieth century as a very significant event in the human race. In 1900 the world was changing faster than it had ever done before, and no-one can deny the significance of the twentieth century in history. I’m sure change will continue to become faster, but I found it interesting recently when I noticed that we were approaching this ‘milestone’ of sorts.

New business cards via Click

For over six months I’ve been meaning to get business cards. Work has been busy though, and I just haven’t prioritised it. Last week I finally got around to it, and I was really quite impressed with the process.

lp2_front_side - small I’d been playing around with layout for a while, and also had to work out what title I should use. A couple of people recommended Click Business Cards, and so I checked them out. I submitted my appropriately-sized JPGs and put my order in for gloss on both sides. As I was hoping to give some out this week, I had dropped them a line to ask if I could get the order marked ‘Urgent’, which they kindly did. As a result, the order was finished about a day and a half after I submitted the order, and they arrived in the post today.

As a result, I’m inclined to use Click again, and will be happily recommending them to people who want a quick and easy business card service.

The Pope and sneezing

I flew into Sydney recently, around the time the Pope was leaving after World Youth Day. I figured if I saw him, I could go and stand near him and sneeze. (Don’t ask me how I’d make myself sneeze – I hadn’t worked out that part of the plan.)

Hopefully, he’d reply in the standard way, and I’d have a great story about getting a blessing from the Pope. But then I thought – hang on, the current bloke is German. He’d probably say “Gesundheit” instead, which doesn’t have the same ring to it. I’d be stood there, complaining at the Pope, telling him that he should’ve said “Bless You” instead of “Gesundheit”. At least right up until I got carried away by his security.

I’m also thinking that I missed out on a great opportunity in a lift earlier in the year. I must remember to have the sniffles next time I bump into one of the great religious leaders of our time in an enclosed space.

Welcome, Charlotte

In the early hours of Monday morning (Dec 10th), I was in Melbourne, ready to teach a course in the morning. I made it back in time to help my new daughter Charlotte into the world, but this is what I wrote from the airport:Charlotte

“Welcome to the world, my daughter. I’m writing this from Melbourne Airport. Your mum called me a little while ago to tell me her waters had broken, but this is nine days early, and I was expecting to teach a course today. Ironically, the course was going to be on SSIS – about moving information from one system to another – and instead we’re both in transition. You from the womb to the world, me rushing from one airport to another.

“Except that I’m not rushing right now. I’m on the first flight out, at 6:15am. That’s over three hours away, during which time you’ll probably be born. I don’t even have internet access from here, so by the time anyone reads this, I’m sure you’ll have arrived.

“I’m looking at pictures of you now, from your scan a couple of months ago. You’re very beautiful. I hope and pray for the best for you. I’m tired now – it feels like I’ll be waiting here forever for this flight. I can’t sleep – couldn’t even if I dared. I just want to get to you.

See you soon.”

She waited for me, arrived on Monday morning, weighing 7lb 12oz. Everyone’s well, and the boys and I took them home from the hospital that evening.

Bath University’s description of my grandfather

Some people asked me about what Grandpa achieved. This from Bath University News:

The University is saddened to announce the death on Saturday of Professor Martyn Farley, a member of University Court since 1983, representing the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Professor Farley contributed immensely to the University and was elected by Court to serve on the University of Bath Council from 2000 to 2006. He also served on the Ethics Committee and the Buildings Committee.

Professor Farley worked for nearly 40 years with Bristol/Rolls Royce Aero Engines in various roles, including Divisional Director, Head of Design and Chief Engineer.

Professor Farley was designated Emeritus Professor of the Royal Military College of Science, Shrivenham and Cranfield University in 1986. He was Professor and Head of Department of Management Sciences at the Royal Military College of Science from 1975 to 1984 and Vice-Chairman, School of Management and Mathematics, RMCS Faculty of Cranfield Institute of Technology, from 1984 to 1986.

He also acted in a variety of roles for institutions including Brunel, Bristol, Loughborough and Luton universities, NASA and US universities. He was a Freeman of the City of London and was elected International Engineer of 1984 by the US Institute for Advancement of Engineering.

A tribute

It seems my hero may not last the day. Martyn Graham Farley, my grandfather.

When I was a child, I thought he knew everything. As I grew up and realised that nobody knows everything, there was a part of me that considered that if anyone came close, it would be Grandpa.

When I was a boy mourning the death of my father, he was someone who also missed Dad, someone who could tell me stories about him, someone who shared many of Dad’s views of the world.

100_2052a_sm As an adult, Grandpa has been a link to my past. A time when I lived on the other side of the world, when Christmases were cold, and life was carefree.

I have had conversations with him that I’m sure I will remember forever. I wanted him to be always around so that we could continue having them. I remember talking to him on the phone (long-distance) during the last overs of the cricket when England beat Australia, and celebrating England’s rugby wins with him. I remember telling him about my kids being born, and about the child of mine he may never meet.

He is always passionate. Always caring. A man who adores his wife and family.

He’s strong. “The heart of an ox,” his doctor said a handful of years ago. When the rest of his body failed him, his heart remained ever powerful. Literally and metaphorically.

His mind has always been incredible. He wasn’t just the person who knew everything there was to know, but he achieved everything there was to achieve: a successful career at Rolls Royce, rising to become MD of the Small Engine Division; a Professor Emeritus at the Royal Military College; Engineer of the Year; President of the Royal Aeronautical Society; on the boards of several universities. He even helped NASA with the Shuttle engine. There was nothing he couldn’t do. If he had achieved that today, he would be all over the Internet. Instead, there’s a only a couple of pages that refer to his work in setting up a school for managers in engineering at Cranfield.

He has been my hero in so many ways. I have looked for similarities in the mirror, and hoped to be like him. I have enjoyed every time he’s told me he’s proud of me.

Above all, he has been my friend. I pray I see him again one day.

My views on Arsenal comings and goings

(completely non-tech)

I’ve had quite a few people ask me my opinions on the Arsenal transfers this summer (well, winter here in Australia, but summer for Arsenal).

The big question of course is around Thierry Henry. Our champion who left for Barcelona this year. Personally, I think it was a year too late, but if he’d left a year ago, it might’ve been a year too soon. This past season for him was a major let-down, and I wonder if he will ever achieve the same kind of level as the past.

As for his ‘replacement’, Eduardo da Silva, I think he’ll be a great asset. Wenger has been chasing a ‘fox-in-the-box’ for a long time, and having had no luck with his attempts to sign someone like this in the past (notably Franny Jeffers), I think this guy stands a great chance of being the player able to convert possession into goals.

Whilst he’s not a new signing, I think this may be the season for Theo Walcott to shine. Our defence is looking good, and although I think we will still miss Lauren and Campbell, I think Sagna will be a useful addition. But our main problem this past season was in attack, and with da Silva, Walcott, and the return to fitness of Robin van Persie, things are looking up.

I’d still like to see some big names come to the club. I’m not sure Anelka is the right person, and I think Tevez or Torres would’ve been good if Wenger had pursued them. He knows the kind of person he’s after though, and perhaps those players don’t fit the profile.

On a different note, I do feel bad for Leeds United. They’re a team with great history, and it seems they may end up falling apart completely. Let’s hope they can be restored in time.

Transformers movie – worth the rating?

My almost-ten-year-old son wants to see the new Transformers movie. It’s rated M, which means that it’s not recommended for kids under the age of fifteen. On that point alone, my answer is no. But I was curious about the movie – I remember the cartoon from twenty-something years ago, plus my kids have seen the cartoon themselves. So I went with my brother this week. Before the US release, too. Lucky Australia.

Like most movies of TV shows, they seem to want to put the whole plot (or in this case, war) into a single movie. That frustrates me a little, but it doesn’t spoil the movie. On the whole, the movie is great for the giant-robots-fighting-each-other genre. There’s plenty of action, particularly towards the end of the movie, and although it’s predictable at times, that’s not why you go to see it.

It doesn’t feel as violent as it is, because they’re robots fighting, not people. Sure, there are buses that get wrecked, things like that… but it doesn’t feel any different to the Superman movies of the 80s. There is no bad language (that I can remember), and although there are references to sex, it’s not a major factor. It’s not a kids’ movie though, and my son won’t be seeing it for a while yet. In the UK it’s rated 12A, and PG-13 in the USA, but in Australia M is as close as it gets. 12A or PG-13 seems to be the right kind of level for it.

An Adelaide icon waves goodbye

The State Bank building was built in Adelaide in 1988, and remains the tallest building in Adelaide. When the bank (not the building) collapsed in the early 90s, it became Santos House, and got branded with the Santos logo. It was like this when I first got introduced to Adelaide in 1994. It’s the building where Microsoft have their Adelaide office, and Level 2 hosts the user-group meetings that I run. At Christmas there are green lights in the shape of a tree, and it displays a cross at Easter time.

In the last few weeks, the word Santos has disappeared. It now shows the red W of Westpac. I suppose it makes little difference to most things. I’m happy enough to refer to it as Westpac House, or whatever its new name is supposed to be. But I’m saddened. Santos is a South Australian brand. The ‘Sa’ at the start of the word is “South Australia” (and interestingly, the NT is Northern Territory, like the NT in Qantas). It’s very disappointing that the branding associated with this important Adelaide building no longer reflects Adelaide. Something’s been lost.

I have similar emotions about the branding of the Arsenal stadium at Ashburton Grove. I appreciate that Emirates Airline have paid a fortune for the naming brand. But it’s a shame that this fantastic stadium, the third largest stadium in London (after Wembley and Twickenham) should have its branding rights sold, but to a company who doesn’t reflect London at all. At least Wigan Athletic’s JJB Stadium is named for a shop owned by the chairman of the club, a company which is based in Wigan.