About to discover the precise line between “Scrum” and “Riot”

So, we are now to work as one great big happy team of devs (and one unhappy release note writer, because all release note writing is a fight to the death against developers and their allergy to writing anything down). It’s going to be wonderful! And integrated! We’re going to document all the things! And we’ll all know what the hell is happening!

I am cool with this, except for the bit where we work in Agile, and Agile has scrums and scrums are meant to be super-quick stand-up meetings where everyone in the team summarizes their accomplishments of yesterday and hopes for the accomplishments of today and Tech Lead Two makes grumpy interjections about people writing dirty hacks and I type frantically while shouting at people to speak up and stop using acronyms because we can’t have a scrum report composed entirely of “mublemumbleACRONYMmumble???!!!”.

And this is a perfectly sound idea, and it works very well, apart from the bit where it’s designed to work with ten people, maximum, and we will now have forty. Yesterday I stared at P in horror and pointed out that my hands would fall off trying to keep up with that. He gave me the terrifying rictus grin of the man who has to figure out how to break this down into something that works, but needs another fortnight that he doesn’t have to actually do it in.

Did you see USA vs South Africa last night? I am the USA. I am about to be crushed by Springboks.


Early Days Of A Better Nation

I went on holiday and one of my citizenships utterly disgraced me.
I came back from holiday and the other surpassed all possible expectations.

Friday, my friends got married, a cross-border wedding, where the groom’s party stopped off to vote in the Marriage Referendum on the way to the ceremony. We laughed, we cried, I was named as a guilty party in the speeches*, someone got Sean up throwing shapes, the bridesmaids shed tiny silver flowers all over the dance floor, and yesterday morning I stabbed blearily at my phone to find that the first tallies looked like Yes and all morning it kept going up, so that by the time we bade the newlyweds goodbye and headed home it was past the point of losing.

By the time I went to bed, Dublin was having the party of a lifetime, and the HSE press office were telling inquirers the transition arrangements with gleefully mendacious encouragement to have two parties.

Early days. Early days.

*“They were both very quiet about this whole romance. Sure, we only found out when her Mammy said ‘Isn’t Mary’s boyfriend a nice young man?’ and she had to be put straight!”

Accidentally a car

Today, I got turned down for a job, and bought a car. These are not related, it just sort of happened.

This was not actually my plan for the day, it just sort of happened. I think I was riding a schadenfreude high from the epic crash and burn performed by the Government at lunchtime.

So I rang the car dealership on the way home, and asked had they anything in my price range, went and had a drive around, and put the deposit on a car. It is a pale green Skoda Fabia, which given the friendly shape of the car, makes it looks alarmingly like someone bleached Kermit, it’s going to cost a fortune to insure and … I bought a car.

I may be insane.

Bye bye Translink, I have a car!


I’m watching Thursday’s The View. My desire to see what our politicians think they’re achieving over-rode my common sense.

I think my brain is melting out my ears.

I still have no idea what they’re trying to achieve (well, no, I know what they want, I just don’t know what they think they’re going to <i>get</i>), I am in the horrible position of agreeing with Gerry Kelly in his thesis that the UUP and DUP are making fools of themselves, (Gerry Kelly, the man who thinks surfing police landrovers is a good plan, thinks you are making fools of yourselves, please think about your life choices), and NONE OF THEM ARE CAPABLE OF SHUTTING UP AND LETTING OTHER PEOPLE TALK. I don’t know how Mark Carruthers puts up with it.

As far as I can gather, the Unionist/Loyalist contingent feel the residents are making a fuss over a ‘six-minute walk’ and should just ignore it. So it’s not worth making a fuss over if it happens but it’s worth causing substantial disruption to state functions if it doesn’t? Either it is no big deal or it isn’t. For the love of god, pick one.

And I really hope the new Chief Constable is less naive than he’s making out, because so far, every word they’ve said is code for riot. I’d really like if he’d actually enforce the law, too, but I’m not holding out much hope for that. He’s singing the ‘The Court of Appeal proved us right’ song. So looks like the idiot collectives of Belfast will get to merrily riot and screw up everyone else’s lives in the name of human rights.

I want to live somewhere where MY human rights are respected. You know, my freedoms of expression, assembly and association, all of which will be contravened by the police confining me to my home for the benefit of rioters, just in case they might have to actually arrest one of them and we couldn’t have that.

Set Up To Fail

The TV Licensing Agency rang me back.

Turns out, they had a process. The process crashed and burned. In January, this was brought to their attention and the process was changed.

Do you want to know what the process was?
It went like this:

  • Person calls to change address.
  • Person is forced into voice recognition service.
  • Person tells voice recognition new house number, street and postcode.
  • Person tells voice recognition new house number, street and postcode again.
  • Voice recognition system sends person confirmatory text.
  • Voice recognition has actually failed out.
  • Recording is sent to ‘overseas’ office.
  • Recording is listened to, but not understood.
  • Recording is deleted.
  • Address is not changed.
  • Person receives nasty letter six months later.
  • Person calls up TV Licensing Agency and flips out.

I am more than a little boggled by the fact that they left out a fairly major step when they created this process. Two, actually. Because it’s kind of a dick move to have a foreigner listening for change of address details from the UK. Have they seen the way we spell street names?

Anyhow, in January this was apparently brought to their attention. They changed the system. However, they decided not to bother checking the black hole of calls which had already failed. I found this perturbing. I asked why they thought this was an acceptable thing to do, given that they were in fact leaving me vulnerable to fairly serious legal consequences as a result of their actions? I asked how I was supposed to have found out about this?

I was told I hadn’t been listening to his explanation.


Man, I dislike being told I’m being unreasonable when I ask a perfectly legitimate question. I think if you promise to call back with an explanation of your cock-up, and part of that explanation involves admitting you knew there was a problem in January, the next part should involve why you didn’t do anything about it until I phoned you in June. Since you have a record of the failed calls.

So. There we stand. If you moved house before January 2014, and you used the phone system to change your TV Licence, I suggest checking that they actually did it. And telling them why.


System failure

Way back in October, when I moved house, I rang the TV Licensing Agency and changed my TV License to the new house. Or rather, I thought I had changed the address. They sent me a text telling me they had, I took their word for it.


Doing it was a bit of a performance, because they won’t let you use the time honoured method of saying to an actual person “I have moved house! This is my new address! Here, I will helpfully spell it out in NATO alphabet!” and them saying “Oh that’s nice, I have changed your details! Is this correct? You will get a letter during the week, let me know if you don’t”. No. They have a phone tree. A phone tree with voice recognition several generations older than Siri and my colleagues spent days entertaining themselves with how much Siri can’t cope with our various very common accents of English.

And in fact, it turns out, this system will fail to change your address, but merrily tell you it has, leading to you forgetting entirely about your TV Licence in the comfortable knowledge that when they need to reauthorise your direct debit details in 2015 they’ll send you a nasty letter. So it was a bit of a surprise to get the patented TV Licensing Nasty Letter saying we were filthy criminals who didn’t have a licence.


As I, like most people in the UK and a significant number of poor souls in the Republic who have had to sit through their nasty threatening advertisements over the years, have a fairly low tolerance for the TV Licensing Agency to begin with this did not make me happy. Operating on a base assumption that the entire population are criminals and without deployment of the word ‘please’ does not incline people to be charitable towards you when you’re in the right, never mind when you’re in the wrong.

So I got angry. I got the kind of angry where you phone up, insist on being escalated all the way up to the most senior person on duty, point out that “Saturday” is not an adequate reason for not being able to explain why my address was not changed when it was supposed to be, given that you told me it was, that is what is commonly known as lying, and generally be an unreasonable bitch because no, this is not my problem. This is the TV Licensing Agency’s problem and by god, they had better have a really good explanation because I held up my end of the deal and being accused of criminality is just not on, didn’t anyone find it odd that the old house had two licenses when it isn’t flats, and by the way I’ve given my address five times to three different people already, WORK IT OUT BY YOURSELF. At this point it emerged that the person who had allegedly fixed at the start had entered it wrong, helpfully. I did not scream. I feel I was very restrained.

I also explained in very very small words that apologies are not cutting it, handwritten apologies written IN BLOOD are not going to cut it, in fact the ritual sacrifice of whoever thought a phone tree was a good idea to the pagan gods might JUST BARELY scratch the surface. AND WOULD IT KILL YOU TO OCCASIONALLY SAY PLEASE? Oh, and if I get another letter that is not confirmation of change of address, I am taking it to the police with the confirmation of address change and the existing letter as evidence of harassment, do we understand each other?”

In fairness, he did seem to grasp that being threatened, lied to and then threatened again is reasonable grounds for losing your temper, that the general attitude of the Agency is not conducive to anyone keeping their temper, and that it’s not rocket science to change someone’s address. Now to see what happens on Monday, because that’s apparently when he’s going to phone back to tell me how, exactly, it is that I was sent confirmation of an address change when that did not in fact take place. And how it’s never going to happen again.

Scents and Smells

I have, on a whim, taken to wearing my perfumes again. Much as I’ve been wearing make-up again and forcing my poor ankle to deal with proper shoes, and wearing those nice trousers I bought before I mangled myself. I spent 2013 mostly trying to stay upright and getting trampled by my own life. This year is for getting up to speed again.

So I have started putting my perfume on of a morning. And because I am a creature of habit and I like smelling of green things, I have a solid stick of Lush perfume that gets liberally applied on the extremely childish grounds that it smells like the feeling of Electric Picnic and given I daily deal with people who make me consider setting my own hair on fire, this can only be a helpful thing.

It’s called The Smell Of Weather Turning and is all made of wood smoke and camomile and grass and it is exactly, exactly, the feeling of sitting in the dark in a damp field in Leitrim at the tail end of summer. Possibly because I bought it on my way to said damp field on the August Bank Holiday weekend and wore it for three days straight. It is glorious and I love it dearly, and I have to order it online, which frustrates me, because I am not organised enough for that kind of thing.

So on Sunday I wandered down and bought Flower’s Barrow. Which has similar camomile content, but is much more flowery – geranium and rose and blackcurrant leaves. I don’t like rose on me, normally, but the rose in this has disappeared somewhere and left me with geraniums and camomile and the North Coast cliff path on a sunny weekend.

Gorse, Cliff Walk, Giant's Causeway