Coffee Politics

There are some coffee politics happening in my office right now1. I’m not going to write about that though, at least until it blows over. I thought I’d share a couple of previous coffee politics experiences though.

Spare-hand Drink

At one workplace where I had a temporary job one summer, the vending machines were paid for and the etiquette was this: When you decided you wanted to fetch a drink, you announced this fact and opened offers for the spare-hand drink. The person who shouted first (or loudest) would then get the hot drink that you could manage in the other hand from the hand you fetched yours in.

Silver Spoon

Another workplace had us all sat in a long, narrow office and facing outwards. Someone who sat a long way away used to rattle his spoon against his mug repeatedly until someone made him a cup of tea if he was thirsty and thought it wasn’t his turn. That got annoying after a while!

Speedy Operation

A co-worker of mine at a previous job managed to master the art of fetching the tray, offering a drink to each of twelve people in the office in turn and leaving the room with the cups – in the time it took me to visit the ladies! I did enjoy the times that people deliberated on whether they’d liike a drink or not and he didn’t quite make it. I was never quite sure what to think about him …

1 Unless you like warm water, room temperature long-life milk, instant coffee and sweetener added to your cup in that order, this is entertainment rather than deprivation

Work Hygiene

Someone in my office moved desks today (someone left last week so there’s a little reshuffle going on as every takes another step along the hardware/seating improvement path). She1 took one look at her new seat last week and came in today with J-cloth and cleaning fluid and cleaned out the whole desk surface, window sills and inside all the drawers.

Just to clarify, we do have cleaners, its just that they trail down the middle of the office with a hoover each evening and if we’re lucky they also empty the bins, but that’s all. You can imagine that the rest of the office has got pretty dirty in the 15 years or so since the immovable furniture was fitted!

The opportunity was too good to miss borrowed the cleaning things and cleaned my own desk. I’ve been with the company nine months and I understand my desk was empty for some years before that. I wiped the worst off with some tissue when I started but today I moved everything and gave it a good clean. The grime was amazing but the difference it makes to me is astonishing. Visually there’s no change but in reality its a complete turnaround. My workspace is clean and safe, and I’m ready to get on with the task in hand with good humour. I guess this is what they mean when they talk about Hygiene Factors in the workplace!

1 Yes, there is another woman on my team.

Another weekend, another netball match

Well its been a busy couple of weeks on the netball front, we’ve had friendly matches against a variety of teams midweek which have been fun, and since last week was half-term we have “club night” at training where everyone from all the teams plays at the same time, just taking turns playing games.

I always enjoy open club night; usually I’m playing for the first team so it can be pressurised at matches and we’re quite serious about training sessions too. The other teams in the club are more recreational – people do it because they get along with the other women, its fun and its exercise. Club night means I remember that netball is supposed to be fun!

Last weekend the second team were struggling for players as they’ve got a few out with injury at the moment – they’ve been quite unlucky – so I filled in. I played three quarters of the game (which they won – yay!) and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The only downside really was that I ended up covered in scratches as my opponent seemed to manage to avoid the umpires doing the nail check before the game. Scratches are one thing and they’re nearly mended but I’ve got a gouge missing out of the back of my hand – right across a knuckle – which is going to take ages to heal as every time I clench my fist I pop the wound open again – ick.

The boat is out

Which is used in the same sense as “the jury’s out”, meaning the decision hasn’t been made yet, or the outcome is unknown.

Intended use of HTTP POST

I read this article from Elliotte Rusty Harold yesterday, and its kind of stuck in my mind [1]. He writes about what the different types of HTTP requests were actually intended for; the difference between the verbs GET and POST. His point is that to view information, GET should be used so that the page can be bookmarked (or indexed, or emailed) and reused. POST is just for actions that shouldn’t be repeated – and he’s right.

His article is here: and its well worth the read. I don’t think I’d ever really thought about this before, or not in these terms. Thanks, Elliotte, for a great and thought-provoking article!

1 Possibly because I’m writing a big search form and sorting mechanism for a big set of results at work! Since I work in manufacturing its all dates and partcodes and supplier codes and so on, not terribly exciting but a good illustration of when to use different posting methods.

Super Dooper Opera Search Feature

Opera has sneaked in a fabulous new search feature – and I missed it completely! In looking up how to set up some shortcut searches, I stumbled across this and thought I’d share.

Opera 9 (and I think earlier versions) comes with a preconfigured search function, where you type the letter “g” and then the search terms you would have typed into Google’s search box and the search is performed for you. I have a couple of other searches set up as well, previously it was necessary to work out where in the query string to put your search and hack about with an ini file to get it working.

Not any more! On any site with a search box you can right click in it and choose “Create Search …”, you will then be asked to choose a shortcut letter to use with it. That’s so clever! And very non-techie to use.

Self-promoting example

In opera, go to lornajane and right-click in the Search box on the right-hand bar. Choose “Create Search …” and type “l” into the search box. Now in a new tab, type into the address bar:

l opera search

And guess where you’ll end up??


I have p for the PHP Website and w for Wikipedia, and am lost without them!

PuTTY from command-line

Following my brush with RSI, I’ve become very mouse-averse, which is difficult on a windows computer! There are a couple of shortcuts that I use to launch programs, mostly revolving around use of the Start->Run dialog (press Windows and R and it just pops up).

PuTTY can have saved sessions which is very useful – for example I use a different coloured background for the production server at work, so I remember which window it is and don’t type into the wrong one. To launch a saved session from the command line (or Run dialog box), use:

<path to putty.exe> -load <saved session

I have to look this up every time I need to change my machine or set this up somewhere else, so its here for safekeeping!

Daisy Scarf

Its been a craft-tastic few weeks lately, I’ve another almost-finished item to post after this one! Here are the photos of the mohair scarf I recently made for my boyfriend’s mum’s birthday

photo of scarf

And the closeup of the motifs (there were eleven daisy squares altogether):

photo of scarf

Two Beef Slow-cooker Recipes

I often put the slow cooker on when I know that there are going to be people coming and going and wanting feeding at different times in an evening. I usually do a fairly standard chicken casserole but the last couple of weeks I’ve experiemented with beef. One of them was rather improvised (didn’t check the cupboards before I started) but it wasn’t too bad, so I thought I’d share both recipes here.

Beef and Bean Stew

Take some beef (about 400g in this case) and brown it with some oil in a frying pan. Once its sealed all over, pop it in the slow cooker with a tin of chopped tomatoes and a tin of kidney beans in chilli sauce. Now leave it for 8 hours or so.

Beef and Lentil Casserole

Take some beef (I used 400g again, but it doesn’t matter), brown it and pop it in the slow cooker. Chop up an onion and a couple of carrots (and any other veg that come to hand) and pop them in the frying pan with some more oil. Use a whole stock cube and half a pint of boiling water to make some stock (this is different from the proportions in the instructions but it works). Once the veg starts to go soft in the pan, add some stock and let it simmer for three minutes. Stir in some cournflour and then add the contents of the pan to the slow cooker. Add the rest of the stock and a tin of lentil soup to the slow cooker. Leave it alone for eight hours.