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About Granite

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  1. Doesn't seem to be the case. He's actually opening more routes from one of the few airports that Ryanair run to that is near it's destination, Edinburgh: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinbu...ast/8211525.stm Of course, the destinations are still miles from anywhere.
  2. Someone got there then. Though those figures don't seel the whole story. The majority of the American (and French) purchases are blends like Johnnie Walker, which don't need to be made in Scotland at all. Indeed, you probably wouldn't want to know some of the things they use to get the taste just right. While my friend was upset at the potential jobs lost in Kilmarnock, the idea that it owed it's distinctive flavour to being bottled in he town was laughable. Still, they do taste pleasant now and then. The single malt stuff however, which is much trickerir and can change wildly if you try and move it, mainly heads east. Diageo reckon it's due to the fact that asians geneticly have a lower tolerance for alcohol. As they're only going to have a couple of drinks a night, they're willing to pay more for good stuff. The fly in that ointment is that the Japanese have recently started to produce some truly cracking single malts. Anyway, Diageo's big seller in the states is tequila.
  3. As a note, according to a friend of mine who works for Visist Scotland, the numbers of tourists from stateside were already down this year (apart from a blip around the horrible shameless cash-in that was the Homecoming, if anyone wants to bring down our government over that I'll be more than welcome to assist), but the drop was quite comfortably made up by visitors from Europe. From personal experience, there's been a hell of a lot less of them wandering around during the Festival as well, but ticket sales are up on the last two years. He cited an increase in transatlantic air fare and the good rate for the Euro as the causes. In short, boycotting us isn't much of a hassle as less of them were coming anyway. ..and as for whisky, another friend of mine works for Diageo. you'd be surprised who the biggest importers of whisky are. The states is up there, to be certain, but they wouldn't put that much of a dent in Diageo's profits. Their biggest problem these days is producing enough of the single malts to keep up with demand world wide. Of course, I happily encourage all the people on the petition thread who are going to boycott whiskey. It'll be rough on the Irish, unfortunately, but it'd be amusing to see if they could destroy one of Tennessee's major industires before they realise their mistake.
  4. Well, how many do you need on a night out? Frankly I fancy a kebab after the first 100 or so, and unlike London, you can walk to all of them.
  5. 24 hour city? try Edinburgh during the festival, or around New Year. Pretty lively the rest of the time too. On my first trip to London I was quite surprised at how early everything in the "big city" closed up. While I'd admit our range of nightlife options probably isn't quite as diverse as London's (what with having a smaller population in the whole damned country) than London, but there's still plenty of different things to do of an evening. I ended up staying here after graduating. Several of my fellow graduates went to London for the better job opportunities. 8 years later, half of them have now come back to Edinburgh, and the other half would really like to. One of my friends commutes up here every second week just to chat and play with his old band. They all have the same opinion that London is a soulless, unfriendly place with no joy to it. As one put it; "You go to London to have a career, you don't go there to live". To be honest, I often suspect Edinburgh's more multicultural than London. Sure, there's probably more different ethnic groups in London (size will do that), but they all tend to stick to their own groups and areas. In Edinburgh people of different backgrounds mix much more freely. But that's just my opinion, having a group of friends from wildly different countries and backgrounds. Oh, and the girl who moved back to London because Edinburgh had a "Small town mentality", and it's "The same people you run in to every night", Edinburgh has over 700 pubs and even when I'm being very picky about what I want to do and see I've usally got about a dozen choices. I only run in to people I know if I'm going in to a bar where I'm a regular, and that's kind of the point. It sounds like she was just one of those types who only ever went to Grassmarket, and complains about it being all the same. Of course the are! They're all tourist traps! Though having said all that, the place is going to look like a very ugly construction site for the next few years, and forget driving anywhere in the city centre. Fecking council.
  6. Indeed. In my role, I may not build things very often, but I do solve a lot of peoples problems, and they are genuinely grateful which gives you a nice feeling. It's also a much more social experience if you're supporting a small community that you can get to know. I'm trying to explain a lot of this to our new guy who's from a massive call centre enviroment (his idea of a fix was just ticking off potential replacement parts and sending them all out). You can't just try to get the person off the phone rather than solve the problem, because the problem most likely will come back to you, and even if it doesn't you'll probably be talking to them again next week and they'll remember you fobbed them off. I've also found that you're often better off getting someone from Support to write the first draft of your project spec, rather than A BA or developer. Developers assume the customer's thought about it, and just write up what they're asked for. BA's also tend to give a customer what they ask for, and generally just form their own plans from a high level description. Support, on the other hand have a lot of hard-won experience in working out what the customer actually means, what the system is used for, and who actually uses it (normally not the managers asking for the project). You certainly want to hand it on for refinement, but they're usually the best starting point. You do get some BA's that do do this and keep up with the technical and usage aspects of systems, but all too many of them just helicopter in with something that fulfils the criteria, but doesn't actually do what's needed.
  7. It probably already exists. Two friends of mine did their doctorates on seperate projects producing software for the NHS. The NHS approval board changed every year and completely changed the specs of what they wanted each time. Six years after completing their PhD's (and completing the software to the point the exam board were happy) both of them were still working on their software for free, not because it didn't work, but because the NHS refused to admit it did what they wanted, because they kept changing what they wanted it to do. The eventually both decided to drop it, and the (fully working) software will never be released. I've had my share of development hell in the private sector, but what I've been told about how the NHS handles IT had me banging my head on the wall in sympathetic frustration.
  8. Depensing on what you're supporting (and how well you're supporting it), helpdesk work can be bloody tricky stuff. I've worked in companies where the line between tech support, BA and developer was really blurry. However the pay rate is set by what the "market value" for your job title is, and the BA, regardless of actual skill, nearly always comes out on top of that. I suspect it's simply because BA's generally have better presentation skills, so are better at convincing employers how important they are. Though of course, there's the more familiar other end of the scale, with pre-defined call flow cards. I don't regard that as tech support though, it's just another call centre. Given that's the average wage bracket, it's fair enough. It's where I fall on the scale after 8 years of experience. THe problem is when you get some people still thinking that IT skills are still rare and special, which they generally aren't unless you're in a particularly rare niche. There are plenty of fields out there that require a similar level of training and earn in that range. It's only if you can seriously confuse the employer as to what it is you actually do that's so important that you can get away with it now.
  9. Just to weigh in, I found that my degree was pretty much useless after a couple of years. My last two employers weren't even aware I had a degree, they just picked me based on my prior experience. In my current position, I'm regarded as the least technical in team, as my backup mentioned that he'd built web pages in the interview (he has, he's very fond of the BLINK tag) and worked first line tech support for Dell reading scripts. I just had a 2.1 in software engineering. <sigh> I didn't go in to programming because I graduated right after the millenium bug failed to do anything, and every company in the worl discovered they had a ton of IT "Experts" that didn't know a damned thing, and fired them all flooding the market just as I was tyring to get a job. As I don't have the experience (and any attempt to go for a job that would get me it is greeted with suspiscion, as I'm doing quite well as a Support Analyst), there's no change of me getting back in to software development other than sneaking in from the side. In terms of contractors, I know we've given a couple the chop, but they were terrible value for money so not the best example. My previous employer is cutting a lot of jobs despite making a more than tidy profit in the last year, almost all of them in the development areas. My father's a hardware contractor, and he's not been struggling for work. But then due to rather unusual set of circumstances in his youth, he's got a stupidly high level of security clearance from MI5, which means he tends to do jobs that most contractors wouldn't be eligible for.
  10. Students are like bouncers or policemen. You never remember the good ones, just the arseholes. I find the majority are reasonable human beings, but the group is labelled with the highly visible problems of a few. To be honest, I wouldn't mind student neighbours. I believe I've actually got a few, and they've never been any problem. For the most part, my bit of town is a little too nice for students. What this means is that it attracts a much, much more annoying type of neighbour: the short term rent. Even the worst of students don't go out every night (they can't afford to, for one thing), but the flats in question are regularly rented out to stag and hen parties. Them coming home drunk at 4AM is annoying, but bearable. Them standing outside my bedroom window having the loudest phone conversation in the world is less so. But the final straw is when one of them loses their keys and buzzes everyone in the block at 4AM, all the while standing outside bellowing "Baaarrrrryyy!! let us in you ****!" I've noticed that in these situations "Barry" has often got lucky earlier in the evening, and turns up an hour later, much more sober than his/her friends and unwilling to explain where he's been, so there is some comedy value to be salavaged.
  11. Just coming up on 31, and I'm starting to wonder if it's worth even trying to buy. The wife and I both have decent jobs, the savings are piling up nicely, but it's still impossible to find a half-decent 2-bedder within our price range in Edinburgh. Conversely, I could rent something much nicer quite easily, and I've got enough savings to keep paying the rent for three years if absolutely everything went to hell. With a mortgage, I'd have nothing. I'd also be stuck if we decided we'd really rather live somewhere else (the two of us have an on and-off question about emmigrating, preferably to somewhere with few Brits). My friends from uni fall in to three categories: long term renters like myself, the handful who had enough cash (or nerve) to buy a flat before they graduated who have now moved on to bigger properties, and those who bought after they graduated. The last group are mostly supplementing their mortgage with either parental support or letting out a spare room. To be clear, I'm not talking about graduates in fluff degrees here either. I'm talking about people who're now employed as software development experts, civil engineers, physicists and actuaries who simply cannot by a house by themselves in Edinburgh. So in short, I might be able to buy in Edinburgh, but I certainly wouldn't for the tiny box it would get me.
  12. Granite

    The Chavs

    One thing to consider, to my surprise, Chavmobiles are surprisingly efficient. Hold on a sec, let me explain. I recently had to give up my trusy 1.4 litre, R reg Corsa, the standard at the time. While browsing various sites looking for a similar replacement, I started to become rather embarassed about having owned one, as that age and reg seems to be a Ned favourite. There seemed to be no end of the things with lowered suspension, tinted black windows, extra large alloy wheels, big spoilers and custom sound systems. However, on closer examination, they all had one other feature in common. Every single one was the puny "economy" 1.0 litre model, which I've tried and can barely move standard model at a reasonable pace, never mind one with the added weight of all these extras. I'm not the worlds greatest driver, but my aging rustbucket would have absolutely flattened one of these things. So there you have it. Neds may appear to be driving power cars, but in reality, they're actually fuel conserving eco warriors driving the most efficient cars they can. If only they'd learn about noise pollution as well....
  13. Frankly, I think parents are flat out insane to buy their offspring a new car. As a fairly new driver myself (2 years now), I wouldn't have wanted to be put behind the wheel of something that was actually worth something when I first ventured out on to the roads. The thought of having a serious accident due to lack of experience is bad enough, but adding the thought of destroying £8000 through a careless mistake as well s rather more pressure than I'd like. No, I'm quite happy with my R reg Corsa, which doesn't mind if it picks up the occasional ding or scrape. Not that I've put any on it mind, but plenty of other people have. On top of that, it's considerabley more fun than the modern edition of the same car. Quicker, more nimble, lighter, and doesn't cost the earth to fix because there's no on-board computer that only a registered dealer can decode. But sadly she's not going to pass her next MOT, so it's time to go shopping.
  14. Ugh, weddings, don't remind me. I got married last year, I regard it as a serious accomplishment to have spent more on the honeymoon than the wedding. I didn't go super cheap, I just used a few simple tricks. Tell the reception venue that it's a "Family get together" rather than a wedding, and the price is quartered. Don't have bridesmaids. Saves you a couple of hundred quid a piece in dresses that won't be worn again. Find a nice registy office. Saves a packet. Avoid using the word wedding when booking anything. I could go on, but frankly I think the days of the £14,000 wedding (which was the start of last year) are now over. People are going to need that money (if they have it) for a deposit.
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