Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassady (Books 2019, 5)

You’ve probably wondered what’s happened to my reading lately. Truth is, I have several things on the go, some or all of which I’ll finish eventually.

Meanwhile, here’s the latest of my reading of Warren’s superhero-type things. It’s pretty good: better than Stormwatch, which I wrote about last year, or The Authority, which for some reason I didn’t. The latter group make a guest appearance here. Multiverse-crossing, and all that.

Not the best thing I’ve read, but not bad.

Planetary by Warren Ellis and John Cassady (Books 2019, 5)

Two Wheels Good

Back when the internet was young — or at least the commercial, available-at-home internet — I sent an email with the subject line, “Bicycle on the Superhighway”. It was about me having a publicly-accessible email address for the first time since uni (as opposed to one that was only usable within the company where I worked at the time).

This was back when people — inspired, if I recall correctly, by Al Gore — were calling the net the “Information Superhighway.”

This post is not about all that, though; this is about literal cycling on a literal superhighway: specifically London’s “Cycle Superhighways.”

Since the building where I now work has showers, I decided it was time to get back on the bike. And since it’s in Westminster, it turns out there’s a really easy route, that uses CS6 and CS3: down Farringdon Road and west along Embankment, by the river.

These are fantastic cycling facilities, especially the Embankment one. Properly separated from the motor traffic, plenty of room to move and overtake, great sequencing of traffic lights so you hardly have to stop. It’s hard to fault it. Especially compared to nearly every other pathetic painted cycle lane in the city.

It gets a bit hairy where it all ends, in Parliament Square: the traffic there is unfeasibly heavy. Who drives near parliament?

If there’s a downside to it all, it’s this: I suspect that the motorised traffic is busier and faster, exactly because it’s not tempered by having bikes in the mix. I can’t be sure — I’ve never used Embankment before, and it’s years since I used to cycle regularly on Farringdon Road — but it feels to me that there’s a crazy amount of traffic and that it’s going faster than ever.

The latter can’t really be true — there are still speed limits, and they either won’t have changed or might have dropped to 20 mph in sections. But I still get this sense that, freed from interacting with the fragile two-wheeled minority, the armoured legions behave more like they’re on a motorway.

Whether that’s the case or not, the number of people cycling — especially in the recent bright spring weather — is huge. The only time I’ve seen more cyclists together was when I did the London to Brighton ride many years ago.

And also in the mix now are electric scooters and electric skateboards, which makes it all the more interesting. There’s even the odd cycle rickshaw.

It’ll be interesting to see how the volume changes with the seasons, but you can’t beat it for a way to commute: it’s faster than the tube, it saves you money, and you get some exercise. I recommend it for anyone who’s able.

Two Wheels Good

New Job Obtained

Yesterday I started my new job. It all came about very quickly in the end: it’s not even a month since I finished at SAHSU. And I didn’t really start hunting in earnest until then. In fact I had two offers to choose from, which was nice. I turned down Capgemini, a massive consultancy, in the hope that the smaller one, whose offer I did accept, would feel more comfortable, more human-scale.

Though they do have some massive clients.

You’ll note that I’m not naming the company. That’s because the staff handbook makes it quite clear that they don’t want us to do so. I guess they don’t want the company name linked with arbitrary random sites on they web. I mean, we all know I’d be fine, but you never know what someone might say.

Here’s how good they are though: in a company full of PCs, when I said I preferred to work on a Mac, they said, “No problem,” and ordered one in for me. I’ve just been setting it up today. 15-inch MacBook Pro, 2018 model. Lovely. Much like my own one, though mine’s a 2017 model and Space Grey, rather than silver.

Not much more to report yet. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into some projects.

New Job Obtained

People in the UK should watch out for dodgy emails pretending to be from “TV Licensing”. I got one from an email of support@servereurcom.com, telling me to “update your account” at tv-license.tk/redirect.php.

Mark as spam, delete. On no circumstances click the link or reply.

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Words Matter. Phrasing Matters

On the BBC Radio 3 news this morning:

As part of the Brexit extension process, Britain is obliged to take part in the EU elections.

Instead of making it sound like a burden is being placed upon us, how about saying something like:

As part of the European Union’s democratic processes, Britain, like all member states, enjoys the right to hold elections for members of the European Parliament.

How you express things affects how people think about them.

Words Matter. Phrasing Matters

Job Changing

I started at SAHSU in Imperial College London in March of last year. I finished there today. Well, yesterday: today was my last day of employment, but I had holiday entitlement to use up. It was a fixed-term contract for a year initially, and they were able to extend it by a month or so, but there was no more funding, and without funding, no job.

So I’m job-hunting again. I had an interview yesterday, and they’ve asked me back for another one next week. I have one with another company next week too, so there are jobs out there. I just need to find the right one.

So if you happen to know of anyone who’s looking for an experienced Java developer with a side-order of Python, and various other skills, point them my way.

Job Changing

Not to make a political point from today’s black-hole news — I would never do a thing like that — but isn’t it great what humans can accomplish when we collaborate between nations?

Far better than, say, building walls between nations, or breaking international treaties.

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