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Nice work when you get it...

So it seems to be official. Got déjà vu yet? So I went for a pee just as head-honcho was on his way out. I said I'll need to leave him my phone number in case they should want me in the future. He looked at me all surprised and said "we want you until the 24th, didn't anybody tell you?". Ummm... no! [actually yesterday I was told rather the opposite, but I didn't mention this]

They want me during the run-up to Christmas, to work until the 24th. Maybe later, but that will be discussed then. For now, the 24th.

There seem to be some rather interesting restrictions in CDDs (that's a contract of fixed duration). For example (going from memory, but don't quote me) there are limitations to the maximum duration a CDD can run for. A CDD can only be renewed three times, and the second time can only be for a third of the duration of the first (I think? something about you cannot run two long CDDs back-to-back).
On the face of it, you could be mean and say it explains why there are so many unemployed, but looking from another angle - how many (British) people reading this are on quasi-permanent six month contracts? How many have a company pension scheme? Company medical? Any sort of perks whatsoever? These nice features are all supposed to kick in after working six months and a day, and if you are on 6 month contracts, then you may work for the same place for years and have no privileges to show for it because you have only really worked six months, and another six months, and another, and another, ad finitum.

I'm not sure what will happen after December 24th, but given how things are playing out, I don't think my employers know any more themselves! :-)



Tomorrow is the Junior Eurovision, and thanks to it being mostly eastern European, I will be receiving my broadcast from the Cypriot channel "RIK Sat". This, unfortunately, is on Hotbird at 13°E while my setup captures the Sky birds (28.2°E) and old-Astra (19.2°E).
After searching for half an hour, I had to concede that my satellite finder is 'missing in action', thus an alternative approach would be required. I cannot tune into the satellite without a channel to tune to, and I don't have any Hotbird channels in my receiver.

This required some lateral thinking. I fired up the alieditor software, a product that retrieves the system firmware and allows you to edit the channels in a nicer way than in the receiver's menus. I then looked on my CD-Rs for a copy of the standard 'latest' firmware (from 2007). I found it, and hey, it contained some Hotbird channels. I chose RAI Uno as the least likely to move transponder (though to be honest I think all this channel shuffling is a peculiarity of Sky possible thanks to the abstraction between EPG channel 'number' and the underlying channel tuning information which is hidden from users). I ran a scan on the Sky birds to get some channels in the new satellite definition, and stopped after it had found something. I deleted all but one, then edited that one to the frequency and VID/AUID/PCRID of the Italian broadcaster. Leaving the receiver beeping into a PRM radio hardwired into transmit mode, I climbed the ladder...

It was actually surprisingly easy to locate Hotbird. It's a stronger signal than Sky's birds, so I effectively swung my dish around randomly for about thirty seconds before I heard a high-pitched beep - the receiver saying "hey, I've got RAI!".

The diagram above shows how I homed in. When I had the 'signal good' beep, I moved the dish to the left until it stopped, and remembered that position. Then I moved the dish to the right until the signal stopped, and remembered that position. Thus determining that the horizontal position was in the middle between the two extremities. Same for up/down.
I went in the house, ran a full scan on the satellite, and there was my desired channel, RIKSat...
I just hope it isn't windy, as the only thing holding the dish in place is gravity. ☺


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