This week, I’m mostly supposed to be doing IT training, in a kind of informal way, with BAS’s IT staff. They’re a nice bunch, and I’m now aware of how Novell NetWare works, and how the Antarctic Message System transfers email between Cambridge and the bases. AMS goes back to the days before the permanent satellite link to the bases, and was originally designed to queue all the email and then exchange it over a Â£6/min Inmarsat dialup link twice or three times a day. Now it just acts as a buffer between the Cambridge GroupWise system and the local GroupWise email systems on each base.
I’ve also had a chance to play with a field-portable HF radio we’ve got on loan from a manufacturer. It’s a possible replacement for the old military sets we use at present. I took it back to Girton College last night (I’m staying at Girton this week) and had a listen to the amateur bands – I heard contacts from Moscow and (I think) South Africa – so I reckon the receiver’s all right. The reviews on the ‘net by enthusiastic amateurs suggest that it’s a good durable radio and I reckon it’ll probably suit us. Anyway, Chris (my boss) is back in tomorrow and we’ll see what he makes of it.
Girton College is a strange sort of place – a big Victorian neo-Gothic pile in red standstone. I reckon, having once been an all-women’s college, that it may have been the inspiration for Castle Adamant, the all-women’s university in Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta Princess Ida. It certainly looks the part with its tall conical tower and pointed arches. It was built in 1873, and Ida premiered in 1884, so it’s possible! My room is long, thin, and furnished with the kind of unstylish, well-worn furniture common to old student rooms everywhere. Staying at Girton has turned out cheaper than I’d originally expected (Â£15 a night!) and the food is really pretty reasonable indeed. Breakfast is copious and the evening meals are pretty good too, and at around Â£3, very good value.
Girton’s also hosting part of the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival at the moment – a performance of The Tempest is being held in one of the quads. I’ve not seen it yet, as the weather’s been inclement and I’ve somehow managed to be busy at the time when it starts. Maybe tomorrow.