Pither.com / Simon
Development, systems administration, parenting and business

Journal, ISO week 2018-W28

last week

To walk or not to walk

It's a difficult decision - whether to walk into town to use an office space or not.

  • For walking to the office
    • Proper air conditioning
    • Chance to bank a cheque (they do still exist, at least in the world of British Gas!)
    • Chance to return/exchange some shorts
    • Less disturbances during the day, especially once school returns
    • Exercise (about 20 minutes walk each way)
  • For staying at home
    • I can open the windows so the house cools down a little during the morning (Liz is out today so otherwise the house would just get hotter)
    • No need to walk there in 22 degrees (with a bag)
    • No need to walk home in 26 degrees (with a bag)
    • The weather tomorrow should be cooler and better for walking!
    • An extra 40 minutes (plus pack/unpack time) available to work


How have Barclays broken their website in this way, I really don't understand it! Not only does it still fail in really odd ways when used in Firefox but you can no longer download PDF statements at all. Clicking their "PDF" icon opens what looks like a PDF in the (annoying) Chrome PDF viewer; but then you can't "download" it - trying to "fails". Instead you have to print it to a PDF. Barclays are already making a PDF so why the nonsense about needing to print it to get a copy!?

Government, supposedly

What a depressing day for the UK! How can the government possible be so bad!? I really need to re-enforce my resolve to not read news.


I finally managed to drag myself out of the house and into the Regus co-working space in Redhill. The journey was slightly later than ideal but once there it was great for concentration. I didn't touch Facebook, ignored my phone and actually made some decent progress through my to-do list.

Taking the trip into town had some side benefits too - I was able to exchange the shorts I recently bought for ones that I hope will actually fit and visited the bank to deposit a cheque(!!) from British Gas - who couldn't manage to credit it against an outstanding bill I had with them. :-(

LXD limits

Looked up details on changing (and the default values for) LXD container resource limits.

Noted that the default container CPU allocation on the Ubuntu system I was working with was 20% and generally the default disk priority is 5 (out of 10). Upping those a bit seems to have helped.

Quiet shopping

I visited our local supermarket at around 8pm on Wednesday - it was amazingly quiet, even more so than when I used to visit a 24 hour supermarket in the early hours. I almost enjoyed it.

I'm currently back home and sat upstairs with just occasional shouts, mostly of anguish, drifting up the stairs from Liz and our oldest. I wonder if we'll be subjected to more of this on Sunday or not.


Got a bit carried away investigating sources of property data, accidentally spent 2 hours reading about, hunting down and recording plans for it!

Faster data imports with PostgreSQL

I finally got around to looking at making some of the PaTMa data imports faster and found the official notes on faster PostgreSQL imports and an excellent article on faster unlogged tables. The imports run to temporary tables so UNLOGGED looked ideal. I don't have results yet but implementing it seems to have made some difference.

British Gas vs GDPR (and actually data protection before that too)

Me: Please stop sending bills for the previous tenants to "the occupiers" who are new tenants, as they aren't liable.

British Gas: Please tell us the new address of the old tenants.

Me: I can't, they were on an old contract that didn't get permission and hence I can't share their data.

British Gas: (rather grumpily) Then why would we stop the letters and btw, we'll send bailiffs too.

Me: What, really? Even though you know who now lives there, have an account setup for them and you know they aren't liable for the previous tenants debts?

British Gas: Yes, they should expect bailiffs because you wont tell us where the old tenants now live.

Me: But it would be illegal for me to tell you!?

British Gas: (now sounding very grumpy) Well what was the previous tenants name?

Me: I can't tell you, data protection law wont let me!

British Gas: Then we'll have to send bailiffs.

Me: But that's just going to waste everyone's time as you know they wont be able to collect anything?

British Gas: Then tell us the old tenants name and forwarding address?

Me: That's illegl! You're actually encouraging me to break the law?

British Gas: If you want us to stop sending the letters and bailiffs, you have to tell us their new address.

Me: Well I guess you'll have to waste more time and money sending letters then!

The most ridiculous bit is that I think the previous tenants are (were) actually fully paid up. The bill British Gas have suddenly started sending is for the last two years of the previous tenancy - I can't believe they ignored a debt for that long. The previous tenants say British Gas have also given them a credit of hundreds of pounds! So I think British Gas have screwed something up quite badly!


I got recruiter spam today for a Delphi developer job! I didn't even realise Delphi was still in use or even feasible to use. I think it's been about 19-20 years since I last touched Delphi - I feel very old!

Redhill music show

Spent an evening out in Dorking to watch a Redhill schools music event. Some amazing performances.

Presentation preparation

Back from the concert, had to get everyone to bed and do my normal cleaning chores, plus take out the rubbish; then got back to work to create the slides for a presentation I was giving the next day! I'd written most of the words I planned to say a couple of weeks ago and I planned the slides while waiting for the music show. So the final part was to actually make the slides and do a little practice.

It turned out that it took me until past 2am to get the slides finished (starting at 11:30pm) and after a couple of run-throughs I decided I was unlikely to actually get any better without some sleep - I was in bed just after 2:30am. :-(

Mastermind / Presentation

All the late night effort was for a mastermind group that I attend once a month in Brighton. I'd asked for a five minute demo slot to test out the presentation I had in mind. The morning was sleepy but I got some (quiet) practise in on the train down to Brighton. Although I was mostly reading my words, the presentation went well (against my plan). I wouldn't have tried to do this presentation in front of a "real" audience without knowing it by heart but for this purpose and group, I could be more relaxed about that element.

The "teardown" afterwards was brilliant, so many suggestions, ideas and improvements for me to make. And that's before adding in the value I got for myself in trying it out and observing a real (if friendly) audience. I've got lots of things to change now, including rewriting most of the content, but I'm so very glad I had the opportunity to try it out and receive such excellent feedback.


We all visited the Reigate Fire Station open day - an amazing event with loads to see and do. After deciding against the crazy queue last year we'd promised a certain small person that we'd go on the fire engine ride this time. Which unfortunately meant waiting in the rather warm sun for nearly two hours! Each ride only takes eight people and lasts 10-15 minutes so the queue wasn't actually that long but wow did it move slowly!

Not sure where they found their ice-cream man this year but he was really grumpy!

Very hot and tiring but I think all the small people really enjoyed it.

Sunday was mostly a lovely wander, picnic, rest, Frisbee and ice-cream visit to Standen with friends. Only a spilt ice-cream, and hence some understandable upset, at the end put a slight dampener on an otherwise excellent outing. We were only a few minutes late home for something our oldest really wanted to watch on TV too - most unlike any of us to watch TV live!

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