Support Local?

So when we first moved into our current property we decided it would be a good idea to get the bathroom redone.  We got 3 different companies / builders and decorators to quote for the work but feeling the first flush of escaping from London (or some other madness I still can’t really explain) I thought it would be a good idea to go with the local company.  Support local I thought, the money goes back into the local economy and of course the companies reputation will be important so we’ll get better work.


Total disaster from start to finish took more than twice as long, a few leaks on the way and the stupid notion from the guy that we would want to fill the bath using the shower rather than having taps fitted.  I refused to pay the final invoice and never had a response back to my detailed break down as to why I wasn’t paying.  I later heard that the guy who “ran” the company left the area and trades somewhere else, clearly ran out of people to fleece.

First forward to last year and we have a leak again, no problem I think I have insurance that will cover this.  Well it sort of does, except it’s not the policy of Natwest home insurance to make good with a room, just sort out the areas that are damaged either by the leak, or in the repair of the leak.  So if I hadn’t insisted they would’ve replaced the tiles and boxing around the shower but were under no obligation to replace any other tiles in the bathroom to match in with the repair work.  Oh and within 6 months we had mould back on the walls and ceiling.

Yesterday as part of the preparation to (hopefully) sell the house we had a couple of Polish guys around to do some painting and make the place look better, and to sort out the mould in the bathroom.  I dug out the paint that had been used and pretty much at the same time as the Polish guy started chatting to his mate in fast Polish I noticed the problem.  The bathroom had been repainted by the Natwest approved contractor in ordinary paint, not bathroom / kitchen paint, just a bog standard tin of Dulux.  Explains the mould and the streaky effect.

So that’s twice that British companies have let me down in the space of 5 years on a single, simple job of making a bathroom nice for a couple and their young family to use.

No wonder some industries are so frightened of Polish tradesman, they are cheaper, faster and so far proving to be a lot better.  In half a day they have repainted the bedroom (walls and ceiling) done a first coat on the bathroom walls and ceiling, re-painted the inside of the window frame in one of the bedrooms and sanded down both sides of the front door in preparation of painting that, just two guys.  No wonder my local estate agent recommended them and is also using them to redo his entire house.

Oh and they are mad ;-)

Day 19

Another day, another language looked at, I must be the master of Hello World by now.

Anyway for the first time in a long time it was Java.  It’s in use where I’m working at the moment (along with some technologies I’m more familiar with) but following my mantra of “learning is fun” it was time to grab a copy of Spring Tool Suite (STS) install, and then find a Spring Hello World tutorial.

One train journey home and the box is ticked, now to try and find some more interesting tutorials to get a fuller flavour of Spring and why people (who like Java) seem to like it and rate it.  Certainly since I last tinkered with java having a more integrated tool like STS makes my life a lot easier.  From nothing to Spring based Hello World in a 10 minute train is quite nice.  In the past I think I’d got bored with playing with Tomcat and trying to get it working at this point ;-)

Day 18

Hard day today, but none the less constructive, lots of business stuff, some learning (Python / Mongo / RoR) and a breaking of my dry January.

Ok so the last bit is a complete fail, but the person I was meeting had kindly brought me a beer and it would’ve been rude to refuse (especially at London prices)

Daily posts are getting harder and more dull, especially when I leave them to the end of the day, still got my (mostly) happy vibe for my current work in spite of the best efforts of people sometimes.  January is almost done, where did that month go?

Day 17

And my work here is done, well almost. Client handover finished yesterday to the new perm programmer and general technical bod at the company, so 10 pages of documentation and a run through some of the code.  That was it, thank you for your work and if you ever need to feel free to use us a reference.

It was certainly interesting work as well, VBA and SQL server with an unhealthy dose of VBScript (Who knew it still existed) in a market I’ve not worked in before, originally just involved in setting up a server and a couple of desktops the contract ended up being over a year long. (and that’s not me being slow on Windows!)

One happy client is now one happy ex-client.  Luckily for me this being 2013 and not 2012 I’ve already got replacement work lined up to fill the time ;-)

Day 15

All about the learning.

In a bid to maximise my time I can be found on the train into train brow furrowed, head down and working on my laptop (to the point that I’ve managed to completely ignore people I know sitting opposite me – yep, I can get focussed) but it’s not really all working, it’s mostly learning, it’s about keeping my skills sharp and relevant, so even if some of the work I’m doing in my day to day isn’t programming I’m still looking at code, still learning my craft.  At the moment the list feels quite long and a little disjointed but in mind it almost makes sense.  By looking at and playing with lots of different technologies I’m making it easier to learn them and be a better programmer, as I port learning from one technology / toolset into another.  So by learning Ruby on Rails it helps me with Test Driven Development (TDD) and also the PHP framework Laravel.  By working with Codecademy it helps with my JavaScript (which I’m hoping will help with D3) and Python which will help with the MongoDB course and so it goes on.