Thursday, 25 July 2013

CAD Technician Internship

I started an internship on the 15th of July 2013, as a CAD technician with a company that designs and manufactures solenoids and solenoid valves. The first week was just induction and introducing me to the workings of the place. This week I got down to the nitty gritty of the job.I was doing a spreadsheet for bill of materials and sorting out what parts needed new part numbers and drawings. I'm working with the Engineering manager and his co-workers in the office. I have my own computer in my cubicle. Previously I had worked for companies like this on the machines on the factory floor. My current situation makes a pleasant change. It's nice to be upstairs in a quiet office, rather than down on the factory floor where it can get quite noisy and the pressures of keeping machines running, parts within tolerance and getting parts finished by their deadline can all enhance the stress levels.
It is a Job Bridge internship. For those that don't know, job bridge is essentially an initiative to get long-term unemployed and youth unemployed back into the workforce. I work for the company for a defined period of time, as a trainee, and the Social Welfare increase my benefit by €50 per week. The company gets me for free. It might not sound fair at first, but learning on the job is better training than any college or Fás course. So when my internship is up, if the company don't wish to employ me, I will still be more employable and will most likely be able to get a good reference from them. It will also improve my C.V. For anyone outside of Ireland reading this, Fás is the Training and Employment Authority in Ireland (Foras áiseanna saothar).
I finally got to use CAD today. I have AutoCAD 2013, while some of the employees on the other end of the office have AutoCAD2000. Everyone will be upgraded in the office eventually. Speaking of upgrades, I'll be getting the engineering manager's computer when his new computer is installed. The one I'm on at the moment is old stock, brought back into service to get me up and running. The manager's is a better one than what I have and so AutoCAD will run better on it. There is barely enough memory to run it on my current one so it's slow and freezes momentarily on occasion. So I'm looking forward to getting a more powerful machine when the new computers are up and running.
When we finished sorting the revisions for the new solenoid designs, the next task was to give certain components new part numbers. This also meant that new drawings were needed. It was merely a case of taking the old versions of the components and modifying them and saving them as new files with new part numbers. The real pressure is getting them done in time for next week's deadline.The solenoids have industry-specific requirements and that is why they needed to be different specifications to the standard production models.
So far it is a very interesting job and a great learning experience. At the moment I'm not expected to know everything. This makes it a good working environment and I have the confidence of knowing I won't be looked down on if I need help. My boss tells me there is no such thing as a stupid question. I'm encouraged to ask so that I can learn. It is nice to be in that situation. Most paid jobs expect a new employee to know what they're doing immediately and training is minimal at best. So, overall I'm in a good place to learn and gain experience.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Andi Osho

Part of the reason I started following Andi Osho on twitter was because I think she's absolutely gorgeous. She is a very beautiful woman. Following her on twitter lead to me following her blogs. She had a "Love Watcha Got" blog about being happy with your lot (obviously) and feeling good about yourself. It was a very good insight into how we should all make the most of what we have and try to feel good about ourselves and be better people. As well as an interesting insight into her own psyche.
Her other blog was "East End to West Coast" about a girl from the East end of London trying to make it in the weird and wonderful (and sometimes not) world of L.A., aka la la land. The great thing about her blogs (especially the East End to West Coast one) was that she got to the point very quickly and it was always a good one. They were always a great read. Although I still favoured Love Watcha Got because at times it could be a lot funnier.
But now she just has the one blog and she does tend to waffle on a bit. They are very moany and down-beat and there isn't the light-heartedness (if that's a word) of the old blogs. I read the first couple of posts to the end, but it was an effort. Eventually I lost patience and stopped reading one about three quarters of the way through. I thought I waffled on a bit at times, but now I take a look at how long I have to scroll to see where the end of Andi's latest post is and I don't even bother to start reading. It's a pity that this gorgeous, funny, intelligent woman has lost the form as a blogger that she otherwise delivers with aplomb on stage.
She'll probably never read this, but I'll write my message to her anyway. Andi, bring back the type of blog posts you used to write. They used to be just short enough that I wouldn't lose patience and interest. They also had a good point to make and even in the most down-beat posts there was always something upbeat to lift the spirits and usually a witty passage that was true to the form of your public persona. Bring back the blogger that matches that wonderful smile as bright as the sun. You don't have to bring back the old blogs, just write the way you used to on the one you have now.
Ok so now I've waffled on a bit. But at least now people will understand how I feel.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

London's Wildlife

I just watched a very uplifting and positive nature documentary on London's wildlife. There was the wildlife you'd expect, such as pigeons, foxes, rats, etc. There was an old woman who got wild foxes to sit on command so that she could throw food to them from her window. But there were also many different fauna. Not just birds. There were peregrines and a couple of other raptors that hunt pigeons. I also saw a pelican eating a pigeon in a park in front of a combined human and bird audience. The pigeon was still struggling in the pouch of the pelican's beak and halfway down it's throat as the pigeon was eaten alive. Pigeons weren't the only birds under threat. There were terapins that hunted mallard chicks. There were foxes hunting seagulls on a landfill site as well. Deer in a park were some of the larger animals in London. But some unusual wildlife were parakeets, wild ones accidentally introduced. There were crayfish (a crustacean like a lobster, in case you didn't know) in the canals. There are even scorpions. Many animals came as stowaways on ships and others originated from escaped exotic pets.
I really got a feeling that, despite the impact our technologies, pollutants, population and wars have on the earth, if we look after our planet nature will renew itself and find a way to live alongside us. Not just in the countryside and jungles, but in our cities as well.
It was very uplifting and a nice change from the doom and gloom of climate change and exotic animals that might be extinct in our lifetime. It also got me thinking. If, like me, you don't have children and, unlike me, you would like to have them some day, don't see it as a failure if it doesn't happen. Think of the little bit of extra space it leaves, in our over-populated world, for another creature to have a chance at life. What if the creature that benefits is one of your favourite wild animals?
It was a lovely documentary about the non-human adapting and evolving ecology of the urban jungle.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

War Without Choice

This is the first song I ever wrote. It was written in 1994. I wrote the lyrics before I could play guitar and had an idea of what I wanted it to sound like. I found the right notes on the guitar when I was learning, some before I even knew how to play properly. Musically, it's pretty basic, especially the rhythm guitar. It's a heavy metal song, but it has a raw punky feel to it. As I say, I was only starting to learn the guitar when I wrote the music. Even the mid-section melody is kind of dissonant and discordant, but I think that adds to the intensity of the song, which the clean tone guitars might lack compared to the distortion sections otherwise.
Lyrically, the theme is as the title suggests. A soldier in a war that he did not choose to be in. The story line starts off with a merciless enemy attacking. The soldier in question reflects back on what turned out to be a bad career choice. He didn't have the education to get the jobs his well-to-do former school friends had, so he joined the army on an apprenticeship scheme. The intention was to gain his qualifications there and then get out and pursue a civilian career. But an unexpected war erupted and he had no choice when ordered to fight in it. The song continues with the soldier getting shot and the enemy showing no mercy.
I say "wrote" the music, but composed might be a more accurate word for when I originally came up with the music. I put the music to paper in the late 1990s/early 2000s. I revised the music recently and the current version, on paper, is more accurate to how I always played it. I also had a go at putting the first guitar solo to paper for the first time, when revising it recently. I had an idea of something inspired by Jeff Hanneman's solo in War Ensemble, but with a wah pedal, when I first wrote the song. I'm actually quite pleased with what I came up with now. I always knew what I'd do in my solo. But the song is written for two guitars. I take the second solo and the other guitar takes the first solo. What I came up with for the other guitar solo is still open to interpretation and feel, by the other guitarist but there are plenty of semi-quaver fiddly bits and some tremelo bar action, without a cliche dive-bomb. So I think it will definitely enhance the song with the right guitarist playing it.
The bass is not set in stone (or paper, for that matter). It's completely open to interpretation. It can be a Steve DiGiorgio-esque extravaganza, or it can be something that sticks stringently to what the rhythm guitar and drums are doing. I suppose the only rules for the bass are that it must not go off key or off tempo and must compliment, if not enhance, the song and it's theme.
I haven't written how the drums are to be played because I don't know how to write music for drums. But I can show a drummer exactly how I want them played. I've pretty much made up my mind on the drums for it.
Despite how basic it is, musically, it's one of my songs that I'm happiest with as it is.