2009

Pay very close attention to them. Nothing marks a trouble spot in quite the same way. Either they’re being picked on and something needs to be done or they are the first people you should be helping to pursue new opportunities. Very far away. Either way you need to know. Leaving incompetent people in place destroys morale for the good staff and encourages them to look elsewhere. When there’s a bad apple or two lowering the teams value, and the quality of their output, pure professional pride only gets you so far. Read on →

… but the beer is very cheap. Which I know is an important thing for my readers. I can also agree with their choice of food, lots of pork and goulash with stodgy dumplings and thick sauce. Pig knuckle is much nicer than it sounds. I spent a long weekend in Prague, it was -10 for most of it but luckily the city isn’t very big and you can reach all the usual tourist spots by foot if you’ve got a day or two. Read on →

2008

When it comes to spinoffs the BBC isn’t doing too well. After two, very, very bad series of Torchwood we’re now ‘blessed’ with Spooks: Code 9. It’s got nothing to do with the main Spooks series (a series I do like), has very… inexperienced acting and dull plots. What’s good about it? A lot of the cast are very pretty and it’s only 6 episodes long. Luckily it’s been panned by nearly everyone who’s posted a review of it (I like to be on the bandwagon every now and again) and with a little luck it’ll be canned after just one season. Read on →

I’ve just been woken up by the flat moving. Cups rattling, shelves wobbling and my ceiling light clinking against itself. Felt very much like the aftershocks of the earthquake we had a couple of years ago. Here’s hoping no one’s hurt. Update: BBC coverage. So I wasn’t the only one to notice then.

This is a weird one (and a bit of a long shot) but someone kindly sent me a letter this week, well I assume they did, as I only got an envelope. If it was you then please drop me an email. I’m not ignoring, you I just don’t know who you are or what you wanted. Not knowing is going to bug me now.

2007

It’s been a long week that began with half the systems team coming down with colds and ended with no water at home and dealing with plumbers. A number of little road blocks cropped up and late Friday night I decided to do the adult thing - and ran away. I’ve not really had a non-tech break since January so about 10 Friday night I grabbed my “conference kit” (I’ve learned to pack for short trips both quickly and lightly - and with only cheap items) I went and bought a ticket to the coast, used the wireless in the train station to find a small “hotel” (that’s a glamourous term for where I ended up staying) and buggered off to enjoy the beach for two days. Read on →

I’ve had a cold / flu for the last month or so that I’ve not been able to fully shake off. I took a weeks holiday from work to relax and kill the damn thing only to be told by the doctor it’s not a cold or the flu, it’s a viral infection. Which will shift on its own, just not for a while. I was told the usual (give it time and lots of rest) and so I’m posting this as a quick and dirty way of explaining why I’ve not responded to your $FOO Back to bed for me.

I was about ten minutes late for the start of the Tuesday opening talk, although I’m finding it hard to feel guilty about it. I got on the wrong bus and ended up on a sunny beach where I had a nice bacon roll and a cold diet coke while I waited for the right bus. I’ve been commuting pretty much every work day for my entire adult life and I’ve got to say this is the first time I’ve ended up on a beach. Read on →

I’m starting to realise that the custom agencies of the world take one look at me as I pass through and assume that I’m possibly the worlds most naive and optimistic smuggler. It seems to be the combination of being (sorta) young, travelling light, and alone, to a country for only a couple of days that triggers every flag they’ve got. I can imagine the conversation “He’s only got one bag.” “Come on, he’s too obvious…” “It’s as if he tempting us… Sod it, get the gloves.” I travel light because I travel a lot, and I’ve learned exactly what I do and don’t need. Read on →

2006

…I just look like it. I’ve spent the last week and a bit wrapped up in bed fighting the flu (and it won). I’ve been a good boy and stayed off-line in an attempt to keep the headaches tolerable so now I have the joy of nearly a fortnights backed up emails; and the same again in my work accounts. I’ll be (slowly) working my way through the pile from tomorrow. Read on →

When you meet someone you click with things are good. As things start to progress you learn about each other, become more involved in each others life and you discover what makes you both tick. In some cases this is a wonderful thing and can bring you closer, in other cases this is the last exit ramp off the road that leads to the boiling of cute bunnies (no one ever boiled an ugly bunny - there’s no point). Read on →

I know the title of this post might seem a little premature but it’s going to take something amazing to beat Skys skateboarding advert. The last couple of times I’ve been to the cinema I’ve seen an advert for Sky that features some stunning skateboarding by Danny Way, the adverts footage was taken from a documentary on him, with Regina Spektor - US providing the music. Mute the skateboarding clip, hide the US window and watch along, it’s very cool. Read on →

Guy Kawasaki has a link to the Startup Success 2006 Recording on his blog. From the good humoured and funny snipes at LinkedIns Reid Hoffman to some great tidbits of information (“Expensable not approvable” and “Convince the fewest number of people possible to buy it”) from Joe Kraus it’s well worth watching, even at over an hour long. I was also impressed with Guy in his role as moderator, I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years and he’s one of the smoothest moderators I’ve seen. Read on →

If you’re of a certain age (the same one as me :)) then you may fondly remember As If. It was broadcast on T4 (when T4 was still tolerable) and was on late enough that you were awake from the Saturday night clubbing… Compared to most of the pap targeting the late teens / early twenties market at the time it was well written, funny and was blessed with good casting. Read on →

If you say, “I need this by the end of today. At the absolute latest!” (or some close variation) which of these do you think is most likely outcome? I admire your spontaneous creativity and willingness to “motivate” people in to achieving your goals or I think you can’t plan for shit and have no ability to manage your time or projects? Want a hint?

I finally got around to seeing Slither. It’s (a small) part horror, (large) part bad comedy and an enjoyable hour and a bit. The gore isn’t as bad as I thought it’d be from reading interviews with the director and it reminded me of Eight Legged Freaks, another funny bad B-movie that I enjoyed. Oh, and it’s got Nathan Fillion in it. It’s not the role that’s going to make his career but he does put on a respectable showing.

I’m behind on actual (non-slashdot covered) news again so it came as quite a shock to find out that Linda Smith, who never failed to amuse, passed away in February. Whether on TV or radio she always raised a smile. Her death is a loss to all fans of good comedy.

2005

In any friendship, hell any relationship, the most important thing is equality. Each party has certain expectations, if they don’t match those of the other person then things will eventually come to a head. In a relationship the same principles apply, but what they each offer may be very different and appear unbalanced on first glance. This is often the deal with “old rich guy” with “young attractive women” relationships. As long as they both understand what they’re going to put in (no pun intended) and get out then they can work. Read on →

Over the last week or so I’ve been suffering from a cold that just won’t shake loose. It started with headaches, which stopped me from reading or using a monitor, and has reduced back to the point where I sound funny (yes, more than usual…) and have a sore throat. The weird thing is that it seems to have screwed up my sleep patterns. I’m going to bed early, waking up for a couple of hours and then drifting back off. Read on →

Traditionally there has always been two easily identifiable people in a tech start-up, the beard and the suit. I’m a beard, well a shaven one… which I guess makes me a chin… But I’m digressing. One of the great things about the ‘net is that it’s so easy to stroll in to someone else’s world. With people like Seth Godin and Hugh Macleod posting their thoughts (and a decent RSS aggregator) I can get an insight in to the marketing world. Read on →

Do Cool Shit Every Damn Day Or Die Trying From Tom Peters. In an attempt to do just that, well the first two bits anyway, I’m currently planning my next project; this one is a little different, I know I’m going to fail. It’s not very often you embark on a project not to succeed but to see where and how you screw it up. Sometimes a challenge is just too big and outside of your area of expertise. Read on →

This isn’t one of my usual postings, if you’re here just for the tech then hit delete now. You’ve been warned. Every now and again you meet someone that simply shines. A person that makes your spirit soar by walking in the room and can brighten your day with but a casual smile. If you’re very fortunate, you’ll spend time together and she’ll be someone who continues to grow in your estimation while you worry ever more about how you appear in hers. Read on →

Yesterday was my last day at my now-previous employers, For the rest of this week I’m on emergency phone support only (which they’ll never have to use as things pretty much work). Next week I’m at the UKUUG conference in Swansea and then a couple of days after I get back I start my new job at one of Londons premier OpenSource and Perl companies. No, not the BBC. ;) I’ve been thinking about why I only stayed for a year at a company that has a hell of a lot of potential and some very top notch people and I’ve come up with a couple of ideas, how valid they are I guess I’ll work out over time. Read on →

The right to improve and better yourself is, in my opinion, one of the most important things a person has. Whether you’re from a repressed minority that is unfairly denied opportunities, a broken home you never want to re-create or ‘just’ a poor family that never seems to get any breaks the hope that you can do better if you’re willing to work hard, persist and keep trying is something you can hold on to in the darker hours, days and, unfortunately sometimes, months. Read on →

I’m a Londoner by birth, by dwelling and by choice. I’ve travelled through Liverpool Street station, twice almost every weekday, for the last seven years. I work about 5 minutes from Russell Square. I’ve worked in Aldgate and it contains some of my favourite restaurants and fondest memories of friends I no longer see. My new job is at Old Street. To me these weren’t just acts of “random terrorism”, I’m taking them personally. Read on →

Fate offers you opportunities for a while, and if you don’t take them, Fate says to itself, `Oh I see – this person doesn’t like opportunities,’ and stops giving them to you. – Douglas Coupland I have two (among many) rules, one that goes along the lines “if it doesn’t feel right then don’t do it” and one about opportunities that Douglas Coupland phrased much more eloquently than I ever could. Read on →

It’s been a long while since I’ve been lucky enough to be sent on a training course for anything so I’d forgotten how depressing they can be. I try and get to as many technical conferences as possible for a number of reasons, the fact that all the people attending want to be there and make a genuine effort to chat and learn is a major one and it’s one of the few times I get to meet some of the people I speak to online in the flesh. Read on →

I’ve spent the last couple of days catching up on some reading and nothing helps the concentration more than having some large CGI explosions in the background :) Over the last couple of days I’ve read three books (short reviews coming soon) and watched a small pile of films. First up is The Chronicles of Riddick, a very dull Sci-Fi film that has a couple of neat Matrix- esque fight scenes, a rubbish plot that you really have to dig to find and seriously under uses both Thandie Newton and Alexa Davalos (Gwen from Angel). Read on →

The one thing I’ve learned over the years, although I’m only just starting to realise exactly how much an effect it has on me, is that you should try to surround yourself with smart people. They keep you busy, entertained, challenged, constantly improving and every now and again drop a nugget of pure gold into your lap; completely free of charge. This weeks blinder was from Harry and has given me the arse-kicking I needed.

Walking around the back-streets near Oxford Street at night you often see strange things but I saw one this week that gave me a chuckle. The first car pulls up to the traffic lights, it’s a shiny maroon Jaguar XK8 with a white-guy decked out in gold sitting at the wheel. His head is bobbing up and down and you can feel the base of Zed Bias “Neighbourhood”, a garage track that used to be very popular as a between song filler, from across the street. Read on →

This is seriously off-topic considering the sites usual content so if you’re looking for tech then stop right about… here. If you’d like to see me publicly debug myself then carry right on! At some point over the last few years I seem to have made a couple of bad choices. Firstly I’ve become risk adverse; and not just in the good “the production system is sacrosanct” way. In everything from “lets just go to the conference and see how it goes”, through “I’ll download it and have a play without reading a whole book on it first” up to not telling certain people how I really feel and missing the chance I’ve stopped just doing things. Read on →

If you’ve either been waiting on something from me or you’re surprised at the sudden barrage of email’s I’ve sent today (21st Feb) then I have a not very amusing story to tell. I’ve had a mild cold or flu, there are a couple of bugs gong around at the moment so it’s not uncommon. I then spent a day working in a chilled server room. Not my smartest ever plan; and that’s an achievement. Read on →

Tonight I was told, “learn to let things go, take a step back and don’t get involved in everything. Not everything has to be fixed by you.” There is one small problem, in general I’m shite at listening to advice like this. If I see something that’s broken I have to try and fix it. While I’ve gotten damn good at suppressing my urge to do this with live systems (always do a risk analysis first) I’m remarkably bad at applying the same approach to dealing with people; especially at work. Read on →

“Sometimes it’s better to want something that to have it.” Some of my friends are slightly too observant for my liking and have been mocking some of my phrases of choice. It’s been pointed out to me recently that I use the above as an excuse phrase, think of a shoulder shrug, in order to let myself off things I’m either not sure I can attain or I’m not willing to invest the required time and effort into. Read on →

Despite my previous bad experiences with Amazon.co.uk when it comes to DVDs, I decided to give their new DVD rental service a go. I signed up, clicked through a couple of very painless screens and added ten films to my list (which I’d like programtic access to if anyones bored :)). Firstly an oddities, they seem to class a 2 disc DVD as two separate items. Now while I could (maybe) see some point in doing this with entire seasons of TV shows that come in six DVD sets I’m not using up two of my six slots (per month) so I can ignore the extras disk. Read on →

Like most geeks I did a chunk of my Christmas shopping online and ordered a smattering of DVDs from sites like Amazon UK, my choice for books and Play.com, my choice for DVDs. Amazon had a pretty hefty preorder discount on a box-set (Buffy Collectors Edition) and so I ordered it from Amazon and not Play (who are normally cheaper). And then things started to go wrong. Some of my DVDs didn’t arrive so I checked the customer support pages and sent off queries to each company. Read on →

While I’ve been in my quiet phase I’ve been listening to a fair few of my older CDs and I’ve not really bought much in the way of new material but I did make an effort to purchase Eye To The Telescope, the debut album from KT Tunstall, a singer I’ve been very impressed with. While I’ve not listened to the whole album enough to render judgement I wanted to mention how much I like two of the tracks, Miniature Disasters and Black Horse and The Cherry Tree, the song that she sang on her Jools Holland appearance and that reeled me in. Read on →

DragonflyBlade21: A woman has a close male friend. This means that he is probably interested in her, which is why he hangs around so much. She sees him strictly as a friend. This always starts out with, you’re a great guy, but I don’t like you in that way. This is roughly the equivalent for the guy of going to a job interview and the company saying, You have a great resume, you have all the qualifications we are looking for, but we’re not going to hire you. Read on →

Bottom line is, even if you see ‘em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.    – Joss Whedon (via Whistler) Life is an odd thing, some times the rules of your whole universe change underneath you and you have to make some drastic changes just to keep going. Read on →

2004

As a sysadmin a (hopefully) small chunk of my time is taken up laying cables and physically adding machines to the network (a desktop support person, my kingdom for a desktop support person!), while this shouldn’t be too hard most modern offices seem purpose built to drive me insane. Firstly we have the two patch ports and four plugs for six people. This forces you to invest in four / six way extension leads and a switch under each row of desks; as an aside a switch for each person with a laptop or more than one machine is a nice thing to have. Read on →

Today we have some good news, David Blunkett has quit after his dirty washing was dragged around in public. Normally I’d keep anything political away from this site but this is noteworthy as he’s the man who’s been pushing ID cards. I’m all for good security, which is one of the reasons I’m against ID cards. They add cost to the system, complexity to the people forced to use them and don’t actually provide any benefits. Read on →

One of my more infamous quotes at work is “trust me or sack me.” This is the shorter, pithier version of one of my stronger views, you should never hire people you don’t trust or have faith in. When you take on a new employee you are investing a lot of money and effort, both in initial outlay and over a period of time. If you don’t fully believe your hiring choice is the correct one then don’t make it. Read on →

This may seem obvious but the number of people that break this simple rule never fails to amaze me. Let’s look at an example, you are meeting with a potential hire and you are discussing salary, as an aside if they are good pay them above the going rate; thats a different post! You make an offer of 30 thousand a year, the other person doesn’t look too impressed. What you should never do (and ignore any uncomfortable silences) is then make another, higher, offer. Read on →

I dislike most modern music (I’m 24 and I’m turning into my grandfather!) but a couple of songs from The Streets last album were good so I decided to give their second a chance; very wise choice. The songs themselves cover a pretty diverse area, from the upbeat backing of “Fit but you know it” to the down trodden lyrics of “Dry Your Eyes” the CD contains a number of little gems. Read on →

If you don’t believe me then pick ten random numbers from a phone book and try it for yourself! I don’t like phones, despite the fact I now have four in my life, work mobile, personal mobile, home phone and work desk phone, I don’t think they add anything to my life; instead I think they make it worse. My home phone isn’t plugged in, it (and the line) are there for external calls because it’s cheaper to pay for the calls and the line than it would be for making the same calls via a mobile. Read on →

I made some noise on the subject of the great KT Tunstall on Jools Holland appearance a little while ago. After spending some time looking around I’ve finally managed to get my hands on her False Alarm EP. The CD contains four tracks, False Alarm, Heal Over, Miniature Disasters and Throw me a rope. While the first two are respectable songs in their own rights the latter two are an excellent taster of the album to come (in December now, allegedly due to a family of mice in the printing facility…). Read on →

While I’m on the subject of genre TV (One more post after this one I promise :)) I’ll mention a program that is actually well worth setting your TiVo / Torrent downloader for; Lost. With J.J. Abrams of Alias fame on the creative team this show might actually get past the first dozen episodes (unlike the tragicly killed Wonderfalls) and have a chance to tell its story. The basic idea is very simple, the survivors of a plane crash are forced to live with each other on a remote island, but the execution is excellent. Read on →

For those of you that don’t know it the BBC has a program called Later with Jools Holland. The show is a exhibition of great musicians, from all time greats like Desmond Decker, Aretha Franklin and the late Ray Charles to modern singers like Shola Ama and Beverly Knight each week has at least one act that makes you sit up and take note. And thats just the weekly shows! The New Years Specials are well worth recording for when you get in the next day and have some of the best live performances you could hope for, not just great singers but very unlikely duets and group songs. Read on →