Radiac's Diaryhttp://radiac.net/personal/diary/Radiac's personal diaryen-gbWed, 11 Feb 2015 15:03:31 +0000Busy Monthshttp://radiac.net/personal/diary/2015/02/busy-months/<p>I didn't just back-date that entry about our <a href="/personal/diary/2014/07/married/">wedding</a> to 8 months ago to make it look like I wrote it at the time. Ok, maybe I did, but only because it's pretty bad that it took me so long to write it. To be fair, I did the first draft back in July, but we were waiting for photo cards to arrive so we could thank people for their gifts, and apparently proper etiquette required that they were sent out first, or something. Then I wanted to add something to the site's back-end which would make it easier to build slideshows, I just had to get something finished first, and... here we are.</p> <p>So, what has happened in my first 8 months of married life after the honeymoon? Quite a bit, as you'd expect - but to be honest, aside from Leela changing her name so we're now officially Mr and Mrs Terry, not a lot of it is particularly exciting; we've both basically spent the whole time working.</p> <p>Shortly after we got back from Australia, Leela started a prescribing course and is spending her evenings and weekends doing project work and essays for that. Once she has completed it she'll have a new qualification which will allow her to prescribe things for patients, and she'll be starting a new job (at the same hospital) where she'll be running outpatient clinics, which is all very exciting - but there's a lot of work to get there. To add insult to injury, she was away at a course on her birthday this year - normally we take a couple of days off for our birthdays to go out and do things, but we couldn't do that this year. The sacrifices we make for work, eh?</p> <p>As usual, I've been working on a bunch of things, still with the goal of starting a software business, although this year took a massive detour into writing a bespoke CRM+accounting system for someone. I'm retaining ownership of it and at some point I may try to sell it, but because it's a crowded market I feel it will need a lot more functionality before I could take people's money. I'll therefore be putting that on the back-burner soon to make more time to finish my first commercial product, a web wysiwyg editor. That's also a crowded market and almost all of the competition is free, so it may be insane to hope I'll make any sales - but it will have a bunch of USPs, so I expect it to at least find a niche amongst people who care about those features. Long tail and all that. My biggest problem at the moment though is coming up with a name for it...</p> <p>As for the cats, Leo has been fine, but Loki hasn't - we noticed his breath was gradually getting a bit worse, then suddenly his mouth smelt of death and he was very subdued, uncharacteristically showing very little enthusiasm for scratching me. When we took him to the vet, it turned out that one of his fangs had broken and was dangling by a (presumably very painful) thread. From the x-rays, they reckoned it had actually been broken and died years ago, but he'd had some trauma to it recently which had caused it to snap loose and rot. Cue memories of him joyously tossing a massive rat around the garden with his mouth a couple of weeks before. Still, after a quick operation to remove the tooth, he's all better now. Starting to wish we'd taken out insurance though.</p> <p>Other than that, married life has been pretty quiet. I've bought a whiteboard, which took an embarrassing number of attempts to drill holes which lined up (but they're all hidden behind it, so that's fine); after living in this area for 7 years we've only just discovered that a bar/restaurant we often passed serves <a href="https://twitter.com/moranschelt">amazing cakes</a>, so now go there quite frequently to make up for all the lost time; in the evenings we mostly watch things on Netflix (we're a little bit addicted - it's Breaking Bad and re-watching Stargate SG1 at the moment); and we're still trying to learn Spanish when time allows, in preparation for future trips abroad. In short, things are quiet, but good. Me gusta.</p>Wed, 11 Feb 2015 15:03:31 +0000http://radiac.net/personal/diary/2015/02/busy-months/Married!http://radiac.net/personal/diary/2014/07/married/<p>Leela and I are now married!</p> <p>Because we'd already been together for 10 years by the time we <a href="/personal/diary/2014/01/engaged">got engaged</a>, and wanted to have our honeymoon in Australia during their winter, we made the decision to get married as soon as possible.</p> <p>So, on Thursday 19th June, we had a small wedding in the Guildhall in Bath with our parents and a few friends, followed by drinks and afternoon tea up at the Royal Crescent Hotel. My wife and I (tee hee!) had a lovely day - the weather was warm and sunny, and everything went really well.</p> <p><div class="slideshow"><div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/001.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C14%2C4256%2C2823_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/002.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C14%2C4256%2C2823_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/003.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C14%2C4185%2C2776_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/004.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3901%2C2588_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/005.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C22%2C6702%2C4459_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/006.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C14%2C4256%2C2823_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/007.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C14%2C4256%2C2823_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/008.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C14%2C4256%2C2823_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/009.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C14%2C4256%2C2823_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/010.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3874%2C2570_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/011.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C14%2C4223%2C2801_crop_detail.jpg"></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-wedding/012.jpg.620x410_q85_box-0%2C14%2C4166%2C2764_crop_detail.jpg"></div></div></p> <p>The photos were taken by Richard at <a href="https://www.elanimages.co.uk/">Elan Images</a> - if you want to see more, he's got them all <a href="https://www.elanimages.co.uk/wedding-reception-at-the-royal-crescent-hotel/">on his website</a>.</p> <p>Because we wanted a small do, it did mean we didn't get to invite everyone we would have liked, but Tristan did arrange a pre-wedding meet-up for university friends in London, and Leela and I are now planning various trips around the country to meet up with the family we couldn't fit in. We hope you understand if we didn't get to see you on the day!</p> <p>Once we had stuffed ourselves on the afternoon tea, I said a few words and we waved goodbye to everyone and headed to Gatwick where we stayed overnight, ready to set off on our honeymoon the next day. We had our first free upgrade of the trip - fancier room and a slab of Hotel Chocolat chocolate. Being married has its perks.</p> <p>On Friday morning we flew to Dubai, where we were again upgraded to a very fancy room, and they gave us a chocolate cake. Being married is awesome. We had a few days to explore; we visited Dubai museum, various souks and malls, went on on a 4x4 trip into the desert one evening, and also spent an hour wandering around in the midday sun trying to walk from the metro to the beach. It looked so close on the map.</p> <p>On Tuesday 24th we flew to our first destination in Australia, Sydney - again, we had a few days here, and we visited Manley and Bondi, went to many museums, had a trip to the Blue Mountains, took the obligatory photo with a koala, and met up with Mark and Lorien who took us out for the evening, fed us a lovely meal, and introduced us to my new friend <a href="http://maxbrenner.com/chocolate-dessert-bar/">Max Brenner</a>.</p> <p>The next stop on our trip was Darwin, where we went on a 2 day trip into Kakadu National Park, which involved rock art, lots of amazing views, and river trips to look at crocodiles. After that we stayed in Port Douglas for 4 days, visiting the Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree rainforest, and eating quite a bit of ice cream.</p> <p>We then had a couple of days at Ayres Rock, seeing Uluru and Kata Tjuta, and walking around Kings Canyon, before flying on to Melbourne. That night we met up with Leela's friend Bernie for dinner, who took us to a vegetarian restaurant. The next day - our last full day in Australia - we took a coach trip along the Great Ocean Road, and as the only two British members of the expedition we mostly had the scenery to ourselves thanks to the mild Australian winter weather - for example, see the photo below of us at the Twelve Apostles. </p> <p><div class="slideshow"><div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1070297.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Honeymoon cake waiting for Mr and Mrs Terry in Dubai</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1070408.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Desert safari in Dubai</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1070507.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Leela in Sydney</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1070617.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Blue Mountains</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1070829.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Aboriginal rock art at Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1070832.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Kakadu National Park</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1070851.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Crocodile in Kakadu</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1070982.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Baby crocodile - probably soon to be eaten by its mum</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1080060.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Cape Tribulation, Northern Queensland</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1080120.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C37%2C1600%2C1095_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Kata Tjuta, Ayres Rock</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1080178.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Uluru at sunset</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1080200.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Kings Canyon</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1080273.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>The rainbow in rainy Torquay, Great Ocean Road</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1080296.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>Leela and Richard windswept at the 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road</p></div></div> <div><img src="/media/resources/2014-honeymoon/P1080343.JPG.620x410_q85_box-0%2C13%2C3776%2C2512_crop_detail.jpg"><div><p>The 12 Apostles, off the coast of Victoria in winter</p></div></div></div></p> <p>After all that we had the longest journey home imaginable (not helped by the hotel forgetting to book our transport to the airport), and the next day picked up the cats (who by that point had been locked in cat prison for nearly a month). A hectic schedule, but we saw so many wonderful things - it was an enjoyable and memorable time.</p> <p>And now, to married life.</p>Tue, 15 Jul 2014 21:43:23 +0000http://radiac.net/personal/diary/2014/07/married/Love the NHS, we'll miss it when it's gonehttp://radiac.net/personal/diary/2014/02/nhs/<p>The NHS is in meltdown, and nobody with any modicum of power seems to care. I've been meaning to have a rant about where the NHS is going for some time, but the trigger for finally writing this was the second story on the BBC front page this morning. It was titled "<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-26299423">NHS trusts with deficits rise to 39</a>", and it goes on to say that "18 of 147 trusts missed a target that 85% of suspected cancer patients started treatment within 62 days."</p> <p>To anyone with half a brain cell, it would be pretty clear that these two things are linked - the trusts are being starved of cash, so they can't treat the patients. However, it goes on to quote a Conservative health spokesman as saying "we do not accept that delivering safe and compassionate care in the longer term costs more money." <em>Really?</em></p> <p>I don't know what would be more upsetting - that the people in charge of the NHS are clueless, or that they know exactly what they're doing.</p> <p>The NHS provides this country with one of the best healthcare systems in the world. If someone falls ill, they will receive treatment regardless of whether they are young or old, rich or poor. I'm biased, and you should be too - it is a unique and precious thing, one which has saved or significantly extended the lives of millions of people. It saved my dad's life last year, gave my mum an extra 10 years to see me grow up and go to university, and helped my gran live to 105. But everything we hear in the media makes it sound terrible - and our politicians seem to be doing everything they can to make that the reality.</p> <p>This government, as those which went before, have set a lot of targets for the NHS - financial targets, waiting list targets, hygiene targets - and at face value, that may seem to some like a reasonable way to do things. After all, successful businesses have targets and budgets, so why not use those techniques to get the NHS's spending under control and to improve the quality of its care?</p> <p>Because the NHS is not a business. That's why.</p> <p>People bring money into businesses, but take it out of the NHS. That's why businesses advertise to reach more people, whereas the NHS advertises to avoid them. A hospital has no control over how many new patients come in through their doors on a given day, nor how many in their catchment area get cancer or need hip replacements. That means that they ultimately have no control over how much money they have to spend, so saying that they are a terrible organisation for going over their budget is insanity.</p> <p>Trusts in deficit should be assessed for efficiency and quality, and then praised for doing their job. Throw money at them, give everyone a bonus. But that doesn't happen. Regardless of what politicians say, the reality of the NHS is that it's being starved of cash while costs are going up. Several years ago trusts embarked on a process of reducing their staff through "natural wastage" - a lovely way of saying that when critical front-line staff leave, they aren't replaced and their colleagues have to pick up the slack. This inevitably forces corners to be cut, and patients suffer.</p> <p>At the same time, the odious administrative structure soaks up vast amounts of financial resources while issuing directives and making changes to services without any idea of the implications for those actually doing the jobs, nor any thought to the effects on patients. Pencil pushers who never leave their comfortable offices in administrative buildings miles away from the hospitals end up making decisions about patient care based on nothing but the numbers.</p> <p>The trusts have their budgets cut at one end, targets and fines raised at the other, and the staff and patients are caught in the middle. This can only lead to one outcome: management lose sight of what the hospital is there to do, staff are pushed past breaking point, patient care suffers, and we have more <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stafford_Hospital_scandal">Mid Staffordshire</a> scandals. If anyone thinks that trust was the only place this has happened then they're living in a dream world.</p> <p>Recent and current governments have forced a culture in the NHS of putting money above all else. A trust gets a certain amount of money at the beginning of the year. If a waiting list time limit is breached, it is fined, regardless of the causes. If more than <em>n</em> patients on a ward have C. Diff, it is fined for poor hygiene, despite the fact that it spreads in the community and they probably all had it before they came in. And these aren't trivial fines, they're tens or hundreds of thousands. But to make up the shortfall, a hospital can sell its services to other NHS bodies, or private healthcare.</p> <p>Ah, private healthcare. I remain convinced it's a con. Some private patients will be treated in private hospitals, will have nicer accomodation and shorter waiting lists; sure, those are nice, but they don't fix what's wrong with you. Say what you like about the NHS, but thanks to its qualification requirements and training programmes, the staff skill mix in its hospitals are miles ahead of the private sector. If a doctor in a private hospital isn't a moonlighting consultant, chances are they're there because it's the only job they could get. But not all private patients are treated in private hospitals; some are lucky enough to go directly to the NHS hospital in the first place - where they'll end up on the same wards as NHS patients, being treated by the same staff with the same drugs. It's just they're paying for it twice.</p> <p>This leads me back to what I alluded to at the start - the mismanagement of the NHS could just be incompetence, but it's increasingly clear that successive governments are deliberately causing budget deficits and missed targets so they can point at them as proof that the NHS is in meltdown, implicitly encouraging people to opt for private healthcare while "improving services" by opening up more and more opportunities for private companies to get a bite of the NHS pie. It's not just the current government - both they and Labour have allowed or forced the NHS to outsource logistics, catering, cleaning, parking, legal services, and actual treatments. They're even turning into landlords, letting hospital space to Boots and Costa. And don't get me started on Labour's PFI deals or the Tory's insane GP reforms.</p> <p>What I can't understand though is why. Do the politicians genuinely believe that a private sector model is a good fit for the health service? Do they really look at healthcare in the USA and aspire to bring that to the UK? Can they really be that stupid? Why does the mainstream media only ever focus on the official line that the NHS is terrible, and not do anything to fight to protect it?</p> <p>Healthcare is not a business, and patients are not customers - they are our sick friends and relatives, and we should do everything in our power to support them and those who look after them. Instead we let our politicians and media bicker about budgets and targets while they conspire to run one of humanity's greatest achievements into the ground. This isn't healthcare - it's insanity.</p>Sat, 22 Feb 2014 15:11:19 +0000http://radiac.net/personal/diary/2014/02/nhs/Engagedhttp://radiac.net/personal/diary/2014/01/engaged/<p>I'm very pleased to announce that I asked Leela to marry me, and she said yes!</p> <p>For those interested in the details, it was her birthday last Monday, and each year we take a few days off to do something - day trips to local towns and cities, visits tourist attractions, films at the cinema, that sort of thing. I also cook her a meal, usually <a href="/personal/recipes/macaronicheese/">macaroni cheese</a> and <a href="/personal/recipes/crumble/">strawberry crumble</a>, as those used to be the only two things I could cook - but this year I also gave her a chocolate mousse, an apple and ginger syrup sponge, and a ring.</p> <p>Despite the fact that this Saturday we will have been going out for 10 years, Leela was very surprised - instead of answering, she repeatedly asked me if I was joking. To be fair, I was proposing with a <a href="http://www.foxs-biscuits.co.uk/#kids">party ring</a>. After I had assured her that I was entirely serious, she agreed, and we haven't stopped grinning since.</p> <p>My fianc&eacute;e and I (tee hee!) haven't set a date for the wedding yet, but given we both enjoy travelling to distant places, and there is no better excuse to travel than a honeymoon, we're thinking the date will largely depend on flights...</p>Thu, 30 Jan 2014 13:36:14 +0000http://radiac.net/personal/diary/2014/01/engaged/Boxeshttp://radiac.net/personal/diary/2013/12/boxes/<p>My house has been invaded by boxes. They're everywhere I look - the spare room, the downstairs toilet, my office, the halls - we can barely get around the house. When my gran went to a home and my dad sold our house in Kent about 8 years ago, I spent <a href="/personal/diary/2005/9/id-1018/">several</a> <a href="/personal/diary/2005/9/id-1029/">weeks</a> going through everything; I started well, but as the weeks dragged on I ended up throwing most stuff into boxes to sort out later. My dad had a bit of storage space, so the boxes sat there until now; I can't keep them there any more, so I'm finally being forced to go through and sort out what to keep and what to get rid of.</p> <p>Enter ebay. I've got a lot of random crap which I was pretty sure nobody would want, but which I couldn't bear to throw in the bin - minidisc players, a portable analogue tv, an old digital camera, an hp pda - you know, the sort of tech junk that you use for a few years before it gets replaced and goes in a drawer, never to be looked at again. Well, it turns out that there are people who want this stuff, and they live on ebay.</p> <p>I have sold 11 items now, and made a grand total of £100 - which sounds nice, until you factor in the many hours I have spent writing listings, packing and weighing items, printing postage, and dropping parcels off at drop-off points for the various couriers I chose. Pretty sure once you factor that in, I've actually made a loss - but at least the things have new homes and didn't end up in landfill. I'm just not sure I can bring myself to list the hundreds of other things I need to get rid of.</p> <p>The other thing I'm going through is a box of VHS tapes. Thanks to family friends with cameras, I have several tapes of me as a child, which I'm in the process of ripping to my computer to delay data rot. It stirs odd feelings of nostalgia and loss - hearing my mum's voice again, seeing my dog running around in the garden, remembering things about my childhood which I'd forgotten. One thing is abundantly clear though - I now understand why I was so mercilessly mocked and bullied at school: I was really, <em>really</em> annoying.</p> <p>I'm thinking I should forget ebay and set up a kickstarter, where for each goal reached I release a new video on youtube of me as a child, each more embarassing than the last. There's enough cringe-worthy gold here for me to retire by christmas.</p> <p>In other news, I've done a new version of the <a href="/projects/tcmi/">TCMI</a> (although nobody else seems to be using it this year, which distresses me greatly), I've been migrating all my sites and services to new servers (I really hate puppet, I'll blog about that at some point), and I decided not to run the new advent calendar this year (it needed a bit more work, and didn't make sense to start in the middle of December). I'm still chugging down through my to do list, gradually approaching "Finish software and put it on sale" - a fairly critical one for an independent software developer, but one which is taking a lot longer to get to than I had hoped. 2014 - that will be when I finally sort things out. Yes, 2014. But until then: back to puppet.</p>Wed, 18 Dec 2013 10:18:05 +0000http://radiac.net/personal/diary/2013/12/boxes/A New Websitehttp://radiac.net/personal/diary/2013/12/new-website/<p>It has finally happened - I've updated my website! It's got a new design, a new blog, and a new back-end - yes, I have at last ditched the 15 year old perl includes in favour of a django site. I've put it straight into its new Christmas theme - it's a work in progress, since I've got a few more things planned for it this month, including a new improved TCMI and a new advent calendar which is not quite ready.</p> <p>The main change to the new site is that I've split my diary in two. There's now a new <a href="/blog/">blog</a> section for tech stuff, and the old <a href="/personal/diary/">diary</a> has moved into the new <a href="/personal/">personal</a> section of the site and will mostly be about cats. I'm doing this because I've always felt the tech stuff got in the way of stories about cats, and vice versa, which has led to my all-time-low of 3 entries in 2013. This will now change.</p> <p>If you're reading this on the old RSS feed address, you'll get both the diary and the blog - but if you don't want to read one of them, there are now separate feeds.</p>Sun, 01 Dec 2013 01:00:00 +0000http://radiac.net/personal/diary/2013/12/new-website/