Monday, September 28, 2009

The Holy Grail

I have just found what I consider to be the holy grail of an Englishman living in Europe... a decent curry.  I've been looking for a good Indian meal in Köln for a long time and I have been persistently disappointed by meals with little or no fresh ingredients, fierce one-dimensional spicing and too much reliance on tomato puree and MSG.
Finally, after giving up hope really, I tried the Kamasutra on the recommendation of a friend.  Hallelujah!  This was indian food as I remembered it from the UK.  Fresh tastes, nicely balanced spices and flavours, and everything beautifully cooked.

I had Kadhai Gosht (lamb), Bhindi Bhaji (okra), Pyaj Pakora (Onion Bhaji to you and me) and plain Naan. Portions were huge, so this was far too much for one person really, but I wanted to try a variety.  

There was a little too much sauce with the meat and bhindi for my personal taste (bhindi in particular benefits from being served with very little sauce, in my opinion) and the onion bhaji, although good, could have been a little smaller and crispier.  But these are minor quibbles with what was, on the whole an excellent meal.  

The meat was succulent and tender, with a sauce that was nicely hot but still let you taste the other ingredients.  The bhindi was cooked to perfection, which is rare in itself.  The naan was fluffy, fresh and hot.  Generous sprinklings of julliened ginger also helped everything to taste fresh and hot.  One of those meals where you eat far too much because it is all to good to leave.

The varied selection of indian erotica hung on the walls in the rear room was an interesting diversion too!

I shall be going again, and I would recommend it to anyone else who enjoys quality Indian food.  

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sushio Cologne

Sushiou has been one of my favourite eating planes in the last few months. It's a sushi bar with one of those conveyor belts that goes round and round (回転寿司 kaiten-sushi).

The fish is fresh and tasty and the sushi is prepared out in front of the customers.  If what you fancy is not on the belt, you just need ask for it. The range available is excellent, in my opinion.  There's also some sashimi options and a handful of non-sushi items such as miso soup (of course), seaweed salad, fried chicken and  fruit salad.

The nigiris are made with quite a small rice ball compared to some places, which, as far as I am concerned, just means you can eat more!  I confess I like nigiri and don't eat many maki, so I can't say much about those, except for the Ebi Tempura maki which is consistently delicious and one of my favourites.  Others at the top of my list are the Saba, Hamachi, Maguro, Toro and Unagi nigiris.

The owner and staff are not Japanese and the sushi is occassionally a bit experimental and not 100% traditional, but that isn't a bad thing. The current "special" is seared salmon with a sliver of avocado and a creamy, spicy sauce. Not for the purists I guess but very tasty!

Best of all they have an "all you can eat" option for about €25.  12 plates is about my limit, but since I generally go for the more expensive ones, I feel that I get very good value for money.  Someone with a bigger appetite could really go to town.

If you are in Cologne, check it out.  It is definitely worth it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pet Peeves (1)

On my computer desk I have a fair selection of different devices:- multiple computers, disk drives, router, USB hubs and so on. Far too many of these things have the power switch on the back.

This means whenever I have to switch anything on or off, I have to reach round there, where I can't see and where all the cables are (including the power cable from which I could theoretically get a nasty shock!) to find and use the switch. The switches are never the same type or in the same place, so I'm always fumbling away there, blindly poking around, until I find it.

Worst is the Mac Mini, with its tiny little invisible button, and the external hardrive which goes with it. The hardrive is designed to look the same as the Mini, and to sit under it, and its power button is also a tiny inisible button. But it's in the middle of the device, and so completely masked by the cables going above it into the Mini itself. I literally have to push a finger between the Mac Mini cables to find the power button for the hard drive.

So, hardware designers, please.... power switches on the front, where you can see them and use them safely!

[Cousin to this issue, is the device with a hard wired power lead and no power switch at all, which you can only turn off by unpluggin it at the mains! WTF?]

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


I work for an agency, placed at another company as an IT consultant. The firm to which I am outsourced is reorganising the application development team, to split it into separate teams for support and development. We've been through this before about 5 or 6 years ago, and then they changed it all back again, and now we are having another go at it. These things go in cycles, everyone knows that.

In theory, the reasons for doing this are pretty clear. They think that the that the Production Support costs are way too high and they want to save money. They believe that a lot of not very well justified development work is being done using Production Support (PS) budget. In that regard, they are absolutely right in my experience. The idea of the change is that the PS people won't be able to touch any code at all, and the Development people won't be able to work on anything unless it is properly approved and budgeted. So PS costs will be contained and development project costs will be controlled.

All well and good, but, as someone said to me recently, the people who make these decisions often seem to have no real idea of how the work is actually done.

I can't help feeling that it will be the same as last time. Without being involved in the development the PS people won't really have a clear understanding of what they are supporting and, since they can't change any code, even when they do identify a problem, it will take ages to get it fixed. The Development people will be working under a very tight budget, so they'll have to cut out all the work they can, and the first to go will be things like proper peer review, testing, documentation and so on. Not out of sloppiness or a lack of professionalism, just by force of circumstance. They'll probably have to pass hastily completed, mostly-working, largely undocumented applications over the fence to the PS team and move on to something else (or, more likely, get released).
In defence of the decision-makers, this time there does seeem to have been more thought put into how the two teams will interact and work together . And I expect that most of the people at the coal-face, will do everything they can to make things work. Nevertheless, in my opinion, this looks like a recipe for disaster.

Personally, I'm still waiting to hear if I will be doing support or development in the future (the deadline for informing us is tomorrow). Almost all my work now is development, but I do it all on the PS budget. So who knows. A colleague, who is in a similar situation, was bitterly disappointed to find out he will have to carry on working for our current boss, doing only support. I have a feeling it's a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. Doing only support and no development could be awful, but at least its a job. On the other hand, there may just not be any funding for development work. After all, this is more or less the cost saving they were aiming for in the first place. So the prized devevlopment job could just be a short-cut to unemployment.