One thought I've had is that this may give me an opportunity to become chartered. At the moment, my professional membership status is that I'm a Member of the BCS (MBCS), and the IAP (MIAP), but I haven't been able to get the other credentials such as CITP (Chartered IT Professional) or CEng (Chartered Engineer). Part of the problem is that you need to get two references when you apply for that, and nobody else I've worked with has been in the BCS. I can see the society's point of view, where people with solid credentials will have opinions that carry more weight, but on the flipside it does tend towards an "old boys' club" syndrome, where it's not what you know but who you know that counts. Anyway, the advantage of the new job is that the senior staff (who I'll be reporting to) are chartered in other (pharmaceutical) areas, so hopefully they can endorse me a few years down the line. The other option I was wondering about is whether a small group can "bootstrap" each other. E.g. I'm writing a reference for one of my old colleagues, to support his BCS membership application, and since I'm already a member that should help him to get in. Can he then support my application for chartered status? Ah well, we'll see what happens.
On a related note, I plan to continue my exams, but at a slightly slower pace. I took a UML exam on Monday, but I failed it, which was a bit frustrating (and 120 quid down the drain). That said, I think that was a fair result, since I wasn't properly prepared for the exam - I'd rushed into it to help the job-hunt. Now that I don't have the same urgency, I can plan things a bit better. So, my main priority is to pass the other SQL Server exam and the VB.NET exams before the new versions come out in November. The qualifications on the current versions will still be valid, and in fact I doubt that the exams on the new versions will even be available until next spring, but I don't want to be using a new version and answering exam questions on an old version, in case I get the capabilities mixed up.
My birthday went well on Friday. I gave blood in the afternoon, then had some friends around in the evening to eat cake and play games, which was a lot of fun. I definitely prefer "Party Scrabble" over the normal version, although it only works in some situations (i.e. where everyone's together, rather than being played by email). And I got a very nifty "Apple Parer/Slicer/Corer" (apparently as seen on "Firefly", although it's been a while since I watched that), which works impressively well (after a couple of sacrificial apples).
Then I was on SJA duty yesterday afternoon at a fete, which was very quiet from a first aid point of view, so it turned out to be more of a goodwill exercise (e.g. showing people around the ambulance). Then a group of us went off to see "The Mousetrap" (an Agatha Christie play) in the evening, which I enjoyed.
By the way, I see that "Stargate Atlantis" is starting on Channel 5 at 8pm on the 15th July (a week on Friday), so I'd recommend that to fans of SG-1 who don't have Sky (e.g. rjw1). Ideally, you would watch the first episode of SG-1 season 8 before you watch the first episode of Atlantis, but I'm not sure when Channel 4 are planning to broadcast that. (There were similar problems with Buffy/Angel being on different channels a few years ago, which is one reason I shifted to Sky.)