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.

Wrong.

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 11

Yep if I don’t keep this up I’ll lose count.

Today started off well with me playing with D3.js on the train on the way in, and also finding out that my RoR code that I have in Github had passed its tests in Travis-CI – ok so it had also passed the tests on my laptop but it had taken me a couple of steps to get the right YML file to make it work in Travis.  Thanks to this article on Stack Overflow I found the magic was to do with the Rake DB Migrate task (I was on the right track which was nice)

My .travis.yml file is now like this:

language: ruby
rvm:
- 1.9.3
env:
- DB=sqlite
script:
- RAILS_ENV=test bundle exec rake db:migrate --trace
- bundle exec rake db:test:prepare
- bundle exec rspec spec/
bundler_args: --binstubs=./bundler_stubs

Which made things work, now every time I push my code to Github it will be grabbed and tested by Travis, overkill for a sample app with a known outcome, but good practice.

The down part was getting into the office I was working today and losing one of the rubber earbuds from my earphones, as I type this I’m listening to music in half stereo (not mono) and being subjected to the noise of my fellow commuters.

Once in to the office du jour it was down to some data and SQL checking, not too much of an issue except this was SQL including some lovely CTE queries that I hadn’t looked at in over 3 months, took a while to get going with it, and there were some changes to make (of course) with the client “helping” me write my code. Still managed to validate the results from the queries and client is happy and of course a happy client is what we all want.

So heading back home and more D3.js awesomeness. (and writing a blog post)
;-)

Day 9

Ok so I think it’s day 9, have lost track already what with the daily commute and working like I have a real job again.  Its been a crazy start to the year with people asking me about work from days gone by and just little bits and pieces coming in on an almost daily basis.  I’m not complaining, still massively fired up for 2013 and with the life changes expected to happen in H1 I need to be!

Weekends are no less relaxing with the joy of house hunting, we’re moving area, so first off we need to find an area of the country we like, the criteria is pretty stringent and important to us, personally I’m hoping that this will be our final area move for some time, and wherever we end up (Kent?) we are there for a while and can try and put down some real roots in the local community and make the house a real home.

Day 7

So a week back in the work mindset, well a week commuting on the trains so far this year anyway, and it is probably some kind of record, but I’m still enjoying it all, enjoying work, enjoying creating and crafting solutions, learning every day and I *know* I’m doing good work.  Using a lot of skills as well….

So far this year:

  • Cisco (sort of) L3 Switch config work
  • HP Switch config
  • VBA for Excel
  • MS SQL Server 2k8
  • JavaScript for Google Apps
  • Node.js
  • PHP (Expression Engine)
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Agile development using SCRUM

Early days of course, but I’m mainly doing it with a smile, so the mental side is going well, now to work on the physical side and get fit.