Being non smoker really

Being a non-smoker I’m really interested in the news that Ireland stubs out smoking in pubs. Listening to the radio last night, someone from a UK pub chain was commenting that similar legislation in the UK was inevitable, probably in the next five years.

There’s much noise from pub and restaurant owners that this is going to kill off their business, but apparently there was also similar complaints when drink driving laws were enforced. Anyhow, it seems that almost everyone agrees that there will be some drop in trade, but in Ireland it seems that the your-health-comes-first argument has won out.

This is brilliant news, it’s just odd that it happened in Ireland first: I mean, when I was in Ireland the pubs I visited were probably the smokiest places I’ve ever been to in my life.

For the last work

For the last 2 work days I’ve been battling with DTS and Foxpro files. I’m importing data from some DBF files into SQL Server, and noticed that if the DTS package failed, the DBF files were remaining locked and so could not be deleted from the working area – but only when executed through VB, through SQL Server directly it was fine.

The inability to delete the files contaminated my next import (assuming it happened within a minute or two of the failed import). Finally, after a lot of searching around and a serious amount of head scratching, Gary found a useful tip which said that the problem happened less if you specified a sql query (i.e. select * from tablename) rather than just specifying the table in the Table/View field of the “Transform Data Task properties” within the DTS Package. And it works. Kind of. It hasn’t eliminated the problem entirely, but VB can now delete the files. If I try and delete them manually I still get the “Cannot delete FILENAME: It is being used by another person or program.” error.

Useful resources were microsoft.public.sqlserver.dts, SQLDTS and SQL Server Central.

Short story Putting together

Short story: Putting together BoConcept flat-pack furniture is more involved that slapping together something from Ikea, but you end up with something far more sturdy. Their also have superior customer service.

Longer story: We were missing one part from our flat-pack order (don’t ya hate it when that happens). Or rather we weren’t because we never ordered it. But then again we didn’t go into the store saying we want one of these bits, and two of those bits (etc). Rather, we said “we want something that looks like this” and the guy in the store said “a-ha, then you’ll need one of these, two of those…yada yada”. So it was their design error that left us short one piece. That’s how we look at it, but you can imagine the sort of prolonged in-store argument this problem could lead to, no doubt with reference to small-print about checking the order. But 30 minutes after realizing there was something missing, I was walking home with the extra bit it in my hand… no arguments, no discussion, no 6 week shipping delays, no exchange of money. That’s good customer service.

So: BoConcept: stupid name, not cheap, not fast, but overall very much worth it.

Oh my, that was a dull blog.

Beagle 2 updates

The National Audit Office has reported on UK Space activities. The glossy executive summary talks of the need for a “more consistent approach to the analysis of the risks”.

Meanwhile, the story that B2 may have been spotted on Mars is dismissed by CP as noise in the image. The current theory is that B2 was going too fast when it hit the thinner than expected Martian atmosphere. Another avenue of investigation is an anomaly in an image of B2 as it separated from Mars Express. “The bright object and the glint on the side of Beagle 2 may be nothing, they may be everything”.

And the hunt for Beagle 1 has focused on 8ft of mud in the Essex marshes. “For the latter part of its life, the Beagle lived modestly as a coastguard watch vessel in Essex to combat gangs of smugglers in the Southend Coastguard District”.

Great news: There are plans to relaunch B2 in 2007. Bad news for the guy who registered on Christmas day: the project will keep the B2 name.

It seems I’m part of the Beagle generation: Britons who back greater investment in space research.

Big White

March 2004

We headed off for a weeks snowboarding to Big White in Canada, and tagged a day in Vancouver on the front to take advantage of a good exchange rate to buy some cheaper snowboarding gear. Managed to eat in a great restaurant, before heading off to Big White. We’d hired a Dodge Dorango so fitting 5 of us plus gear in wasn’t a problem – although picking up our groceries in Kelowna on the way through did mean that people were resting their feet on crates of beer.

Big White was a great resort with enough terrain to keep us (beginners) and Jeremy and Kirsty (experts) happy, our accommodation was excellent and although there aren’t a huge amount of restaurants there was enough to keep us occupied for a week.

From the snowboarding perspective, we had a couple of 2 hour semi-private lessons which were really good. Very high quality and certainly helped us to get the most out of our second snowboarding holiday.