Where have I been?

Sorry to be so “lazy” recently, but I promise that I’ve been nothing such! It must have been almost 2 weeks since I last posted, but I’ve barely stopped. Since I arrived, I’ve had no time off, opting to waive my first day off (I get one a week) until later due to the sheer volume of stuff to be done.

But first… A lot of people have asked what I’m doing. Well, my job title is “IT Coordinator”. The area I cover is centred around Chamonix Mont Blanc in the east of France, where I am based, and extends through resorts such as Courchevel, Val d’Isere, Tignes, Meribal, Verbier, St Anton and the wonderfully-named Obergurgl. With luck I shouldn’t be travelling to the majority of Swiss and Austrian resorts (too far) but I will be visiting almost all the French ones at some point.

My job entails… well. What doesn’t it entail? Arranging ADSL communications (or dial-up where not available). Liaising with the owners of buildings (the company doesn’t actually own any of the hotels – they’re all leased) to see where we can run cables and so on, or plug in wireless kit. Setting up and configuring PCs – and I’m dealing with some dodgy old, battered kit as well as a decent number of new PCs this year.

Software installs, network configurations (LAN and WAN), hardware maintenance, purchasing, system builds and repairs, tuition, security, documentation, backups (implementation as none exists), server build (again, none exists… yet), inventory, database design for said inventory…

And that’s just the simple stuff. On top of that I have to muck in with other work as required – at the airport on transfer day, inputting accounts details and so on. Somehow I have to fit in some snowboarding. Talking of which, the weather was *WOW* last week, with around two feet of snow dropping over 24 hours. Since then, though, it got mild and the snow’s all gone apart from the mountain peaks.

And talking of them, I have to say "wow" – what a view. The town is surrounded on all sides by magnificent peaks and a blue-tinged glacier which looks amazing – frozen part-way in its flow down the mountainside. The whole place is lovely, and I’ve always been a mountain person. It’s superb around here.

The flat I’m living in is a little petite, but cute. And warm, which is important. I have a nice bathroom, hallway with two bunk beds and a front room with a fold-down sofa bed. The kitchen is tiny but I’m only cooking for one (or will be once I stop getting free food) so shouldn’t be a problem. I’d rather swap the dishwasher for a washing machine though! It would be much more useful. As would an English telly – everyone speaks French on mine for some reason.

The people I’m working with are great. Hard workers, hard partiers, friendly, helpful, welcoming. I felt part of the team by the end of my second day. I guess being able to out-drink most of them (except Charlie the chef, but she’s from Yorkshire) kind of helped.

It’s not the cheapest place to live, but with my main living expenses covered (rent and utilities) it could be worse. The pay is lousy (I could have taken a job as a driver with another company for £200 a month more), but this is more of a challenge and way better on my CV. Plus I knew from the start where I would be living and that I’d have a place of my own. And I get to become the BOFH of an organisation for the first time. I’ll get into the techie stuff another time, or on another blog.

So, here I am. In France for 6 months or so. My contract finishes on May 23rd and I’m already coming up with plans of what to do after that. Download and Graspop likely feature, as does Iron Maiden at Twickenham on July 5th. Well, I can’t get to any live music while I’m here and already know I’m missing Linkin Park in January!

Right now, I have to head off to attend a meeting with the big cheeses. More about what I’ve been up to when I get back, possibly tomorrow evening.

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