Saturday 2nd April 2005

Yet again, I find myself at the beginning of a brand new, a fresh slate, another month. April brings with it the sweet taste of summer, just around the corner. As the evenings become lighter, I leave work just in time to catch the sunset on yet another day. British Summer Time has is back with us. (Just look at the long legal history.) Or perhaps a quick trip over the fantastic resource that is Wikipedia with a brief history and dates for the how long summer last until 2007. The new month also takes me off the extended hour at work, so I once again finish at 6pm, with a fantastic opportunity to catch up on Hollyoaks. I must clarify this point, I am not a major fan of the Channel 4 soap. Missing episodes at length, is no problem and I can live without it, which is a completely different story from my obsessive behaviour with Eastenders. My weekend routine does not allow me to digest the omnibus, on Sunday mornings, it is just too long and I hate the idea of sitting down and watching television for extended periods of time, particularly on the day of rest when there are much more pressing things to be doing. Therefore my nature is to dip in and out of the soap, with no religious conviction to catch every episode.

The television theme continues with a mixed bag of good and bad news. The Beeb has already commissioned series two of our favourite Time Lord. While I was pleased with this announcement, my personal opinion is has come far too early. The decision was reported on Wednesday 30th March, fours days after the first episode was screened on BBC One. Then while listening to Five Live I heard the news that Chris Eccleston had walked out on the role, fearing of being typecast for the rest of this career. While at work, I noticed a colleague had the Sun newspaper with the headline: “Dr. Who Quits”. While I can fully understand do respect his decision, he should have stayed for a second series. Being typecast is a fear of many big stars and for some whom have fallen prey to the curse, there is little solace. As fans we now have the dilemma of a new doctor being chosen who will not be able to incomparable to Chris. While a new face, will give the second series a new lease of life, whenever it is screened (later this year?) I do not think Eccleston will be no match for whoever comes to attempt to fills his shoes. I will of course keep watching and keep enjoying the journeys through time and space. Just a shame really, because we have been deprived of the man, who in my eyes had the making of the greatest Doctor ever.

On Thursday evening, I finally took some action, I had had enough. For months, but increasingly the past few weeks it had become a nightmare switching on my PC. The root course of this problem casts the finger of blame upon myself. In late July 2002, I made the first major purchase following my first complete month on my placement. A TDK Cyclone CD writer, was installed to replaced a dated TEAC writer manufactured in 1999 with a burn speed of 4. In doing so, I unclipped the power switch from the front fascia and broke the enclosure unit. Although initially I though I had placed my PC into a state disrepair, it was the wrong conclusion. With delicate precision I was able to place the switch back into the enclosure mounted behind the power button. The short term resolution was to switch on my PC and then always reset it, to initiate the boot up. This was not a problem until winter last year. When attempting to switch on my PC, pressing the power button – nothing would happen. It would take several attempts before you hear the ‘click’ of the power switch behind the fascia and the spinning of hard disks and fans as the aging beast comes to life. So on Thursday night my patience finally ran out and I took some drastic action. For the rest, you can admire my handy work for yourself. Perhaps this will keep the machine slightly cooler, but in case this just pushes forward my PC rebuild project. A project that constantly keeps being pushing back, with other more pressing financial commitments always raring their ugly heads.

Wow, my train of thought in this blog posting is amazing. Talking of financial commitments moves us onto the next topic up for discussion. This is a crucial month for me, as I rehabilitate into society. At the end of this month, I begin paying back the debt of my student load to the Student Loans Company. Repaying my debt to society, with an initial 9% deducted from my take home pay, which will be a substantial amount of money, even though I am on a good way for a Computer Scientist graduate. You must remember that you are reading the blog of one the most financially organised people in the world. Every purchased is checked and double checked, every credit card paid off in full at the end of the month, never a penny of interest paid on any purchase ever. Never taking out a loan or any other interest intensive money plan. Even though I got a letter this morning from CitiFinanical offering me a loan from £500 to £10,000. That was immediately destroyed and placed into the recycle bin. So the thought of a massive student loan hanging against me, would make me lose sleep at night, but it has not. Can I tell you why? Well of course you get regular statements from the Glasgow office, explaining the situation of my account and the amount of interest accrued so far. (The interest is marginal and related to inflation. Therefore I pay back exactly what I borrowed taking into account how much the loan would be woth in today’s money.) What are your views on student loans and tuition fees? Well my response perhaps will surprise you. I totally agree with the idea of a loan system and repaying them once you are earning. Although I think the terms of my repayment deal are not as favourable as those that will be offered to the class of 2006 onwards. The days of free education from five to twenty five are gone. The reality is that University has to be funded and the student is one of the pockets to pick, even if that is a mixture of before, after and during their course. Then again, University is not for everyone and the target of 50% of school leavers aiming for Higher Education is unrealistic, particularly in the current climate of the job market. Talking to the Management Account about this very subject at work, this week, he explained that my degree was a ‘waste’ and I have a tendency to agree with him. Little on my course prepared me for the demands of everyday working environment, although I picked up most of these skills in my placement year. In honest reflection the most important skills I learnt were on my placement and apart from a Networking module, little that I learnt in the lecture theatre has any influence on my day to day role on a Support Desk. That then poses the question, what is a Computer Science degree worth?

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