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Monday, October 31, 2011

Executive Stress-heads

Monday.... Again! I shouldn't be surprised, it's a constant that regularly shows up just after Sunday and before Tuesday. It's also annoying because it interrupts the flow of the weekends - that beautiful time when work isn't entirely your master. However, this Monday is providing some new-ish ground for me.

I find myself sat on the London bound train scooting off to a Starfleet office based in the big city. Regular readers will know this isn't the first time - but I haven't been there since February this year. You'll also know that I've been summoned to receive "executive help" on, what should be called "the unwinable bid". The new ground for me, is meeting the aforementioned executives.

Now the thing about executives is thier title. I imagine it comes from "ex" as in "no longer" or "previous" and "ecutive" meaning "able to think like a rational human being"*. More often than not, when they aren't thinking about work related subjects, some of them are quite normal, sane and easy going people. Ultimately - and this is the key - they are just people. They could just as easily be sat outside a station playing a guitar as they could be sat behind a desk barking. Once you get "past the title" (and if my definition is correct, that's no biggy) then they're pussy cats.

I put in some hard working hours over the weekend, though not a stupid amount because frankly this particular piece is a damp squib, dead duck and a lame horse all rolled into one. If it were a house, you'd knock it down. If it were a ship, you'd call it Titanic. If it was a bid you'd no-bid it.... But let's see what the "previously able to think like rational humans" make of it first. I'm doing them a dis-service and for that I appologise. But as a Brit and as an employee we all moan about our senior members of an organisation. It's in our DNA.

In the meantime; the train. In previous episodes I've shared some of the excellent conversations that have been overheard but so far this morning - almost utter silence. Very disappointing. I thought that perhaps as we near the big L and a few more commuters appear there might be a titbit to enjoy, but alas no. In fact the train is more empty than I've ever seen it before. You'd think it was a bank holiday, but I'm guessing that the half term brigade are still at home to recover form the joy of spending time in the company of their little ones.

As for listening in to the few passengers that are aboard, little did I realise that it's more likely to be MY conversations being overheard for a change. Almost 8.30am, pulling into Swindon and I've already taken two calls from "Kanga" to whom the words 'arse' and 'elbow' appear to be exactly the same.

It's going to be a very very very long day. Even longer than that. I have but three rays of sunshine in it.

The first is the science of time. To all those people who say "you'll get through it" you should by now have realised that unless you drop dead in the middle of whatever "it" is, that it is impossible to do anything but get through it. This is because that no matter what the situation, time passes and this time tomorrow will be another day. Getting through it is the easy bit. Not kicking the bucket, that takes effort.

The second is a beer with Jack. Hopefully, once we've got through it, he and I will find a boozer for a quick pint before catching our respective trains home.

And the third... Well that's obvious. Walking in through my own front door to the smiling faces of Mrs G and Daughter, neither of whom are executives** and thank heavens for that.

Finally - just before disembarkation this snippet: "Hello? Where we're they? She OK? I'll catch you later."

Bugger that's boring. Time to alight and scurry down the rabbit hole into god knows what.

Adieu.

--------


An update.

Actually the executives in question were far from the ogres I'd been lead to believe they might have been. In fact they were both sane and very helpful in digging around and finding a direction for us to go in. Of course, it's only Monday and if we can't live up to the expectation they've set I might have an entirely different opinion, but for now - I take it all back and am counting my blessings to be part of a pragmatic and forward thinking bunch.

Time will be our tutor.

*This definition may not be 100% accurate - but it does kind of fit.

** The flip side to this is that by definition they are therefore still more than able of thinking like rational human beings, which naturally will mean I'm in trouble for not doing something that's on a list that I haven't seen but should have completed a week ago - probably. ;-)

This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Birthday Lunch

Saturday came and went and for the most part it went very well.


I can happily recommend "The Fleet at Twyning" as a truly splendid place to have lunch with all the family. Great food, great atmosphere, friendly staff, sensibly priced and in a cracking spot on the banks of the River Avon.


We had been here before a couple of years ago and at that time found it to be rather underwhelming. However, at the beginning of this year it was acquired by a small group who run a couple of well known (and very well regarded) pubs in our area and they have very successfully worked their magic on it.


I didn't have the steak after all, but I did enjoy a wonderful duck liver parfait (patè to the rest of us) and a gourmet burger from their special fixed price menu for £11. Three courses - if only I'd had the room for them - are £15, and at that quality you really cannot complain about the prices. Wander from the fixed prices and of course things go up dramatically, but the quality is a constant so the choice is yours. The sea-bass looked, and I'm told tasted, incredible. Without doubt, it was a delight and will most certainly be receiving a return visit.


There were tales of daring-do and stories of shaggy dogs and memoirs of recent events, all of which were most entertaining. Senior Ball received a couple of gifts in advance of his birthday and was suitably pleased with them.


Sister Ball has a new - I hesitate to use the word car - in fact, I hesitate to use the word Rollerskate. What is the word I'm looking for. Something very tiny with wheels.... It's a Smart car. You know, those ones that look like the were going to be a real car and the they got fed up after drawing the driver and passenger seats so just didn't draw any more. In fairness to describe it that way, while accurate is to do it a dis-service. In actuality it is a very cute and practical town car. There's no road tax to pay, has an automatic gearbox and a surprisingly large amount of storage for something that looks like it has none. At £10k for a brand new one with all the whistles and bells it seems like a very "sensible" acquisition. Whatever next!?

She was in fine form and is off to America for some work shortly. Senior Ball is in the market for a new laptop and after much discussion and contributions for his birthday, Christmas, next two birthdays and four Christmases after that it appears that he's going to invest in a MacBook Air. And thank god for that says I. Sister Ball has been tasked with picking one up while she's in the US, not least because the £850 that they cost here becomes £620 over there.


After lunch it was back to the ponderosa for a cuppa before they all headed off and Mrs G and I had half an hour to put our feet up and recover. It was short lived though an four or five hours later I was putting the finishing touches to a pack of materials that I've built in preparation for our Monday review. Still waiting from some input from our most recently re-assigned member of the team, so I'm entirely expecting to have more to do later today. I can't wait.


Was very glad of the extra hour in bed this morning, but body clocks don't adjust instantly, so I was Awake at 6am which is now 7. John Le Carrè meant I didn't actually get out of bed until 8.30 though. Daughter was equally glad of it because she and her friends had an extra hour clubbing last night - but then she's in need of the recovery time too I suspect. A difficult balance to find.


Today's plan involves visiting the brown's to help them understand the nuances (because it's certainly not complicated) of migrating from their trudging PC environment onto their newly arrived iMac. They're always fun to see and their two year old is a riot, so an entertaining time awaits.


So on that note, it's time I knocked up some breakfast and got my life in gear again. Depending on egg supplies I'm thinking "the full English" but I might have to play hunter-gatherer first.


Until next time. Stay safe.



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Through the looking glass....

Holy crud! (as we used to say back in the village) what an arse of a week that's been, and it's not over yet.

Actually, now I think about it, there's probably a whole blogpost about "what we used to say back in the village", but we'll have that on another day. Today being a Saturday should be a chance to relax and recharge somewhat, in preparation for another week of hell from Monday - but alas - not a bit of it.

Sadly the work that Pooh and I have been battling with is now getting some "help" from some members of the "executive" team and as we all know this will require treading very carefully through the minefield of the executive view of the 100 acre wood. Help is something that is always welcome, whereas on the other hand "help" is more often a hindrance that one could do without. It's also "offered" - which in non-executive english translates to, mandated. Oh what fun.

Pooh, while claiming to be a bear of little brain, is actually a darn sight cleverer than he lets on. He understands the stuff we're trying to do in a non-technical yet deeply understood sort of way. Or at least that's how it appears to outsiders - personally I think he's an expert bull-sh1tter, and that my friends means he's very VERY good at his job. I'm sure he'd agree. For my part, BS isn't something I'm particularly blessed with and sadly I'm a bit of a crap liar too, so if you want it straight without the bolotics, I'm your man.

Pooh also isn't one to "suffer fools gladly" as the saying goes and I believe that one of the execs may have read between the lines of deafening silence on a call on Friday and got that message loud and clear. It only takes 10 minutes of an SMI's time to wind him up - and some more "talented" SMI's can do it with the words "Hello Pooh". But I digress.

It's probably just as well, for the sake of his own sanity that he's not here for the coming week, so our offer of "help" therefore falls to me to accept. On the plus side, I have spent some rather large chunks of my career "managing" executives although I am a little out of practice. Pooh's advice - before he slipped out the back wearing Nike's and moving at a speed not dissimilar to that of a slightly older, shorter and more countrified version of Usain Bolt - was treat it as a training course or a test. Not a bad stab at taking the sting out of it I thought.

My approach will be to shut up and listen, nod sagely at appropriate moments and to politely ignore the sort of comments that would turn Pooh into a very Shouty bear with a pointy stick. I can assure you, that is not someone you would like to meet up a dark alley unless you were meeting him to team up and start a fight with an unruly mob of mobsters who considered themselves to be "tooled up and well hard".

So it's with these thoughts in mind that I have to do some bloody work on the weekend.

But first there are more important things to attend to. Lunch with Mr Ball senior and various other members of the Ball clan and extensions. After all executive buffoonery and the suchlike will come and go and come round again, but you only get one Dad.

Actually I think the saying goes something like "1000 dads but only one father" or is it "a 1000 mums but only one mummy"? Ah, whatever - you get my drift I'm sure.

In short, a fairly leisurely and drawn out pub lunch with much frivolity will see me and Mrs G through to the early evening by which time I'll be prepared to prepare for my visit up to "that London" first thing on Monday morning. I think I'll have the steak - famous for being the last meal of the condemend man.

Daughter's working overtime - which is a great shame because I know Mr Ball senior enjoys her stories of current police work having been in "the job" himself for many many moons, but with any luck they'll arrive just before she sets off so at least they'll get to say hello. Sister ball is also making a long overdue appearance. Always great to see her and hear about what she's been up to while in hiding since the last time she appeared.

Oh yes, and I mustn't forget to nip to the station to pick up my tickets. 170 of our British pounds just so that a bloke in a suit can rant about some other blokes in suits at a bloke without a tie (but I will be in a suit) about a guess that the othe blokes made that was "a bit short of the mark" and then end up deciding that it's a battle that will be list even though we're still in the war.

Image

Ah well - its nice to have a day out. Such fun!



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Looking forward...

I can feel the knot of the noose tightening. The pressure is ramping up a little now. We spent time in the company of senior exec’s yesterday, which can often be un-nerving (see Dilbert for further details on how this usually works) .

We’re still striving to fit 3 weeks worth of work into a week - and that’s not working out to well obviously. And of course we’re somewhat hampered by the fact that it’s half-bloody-term. It's annoying that it's occupying most of my waking hours, but it's what I do until I do something else.

Mrs G has a cold which has spoilt her plans for Friday. She was going to see our friend S who's battling with the big C. Unfortunately as I'm sure you're aware, chemotherapy messes with your immune system, making it weak, and the patient susceptible to viruses and diseases. The last thing S needs at this point of her treatment is a cold, and so it's with sad hearts that they're not going to get together on Mrs G's day off. Here's hoping the treatment pays off and S can get back to being the great gran, mum, wife and friend that she is. 

Daughter is weary and tired.  She's not had a day off for the best part of two weeks and it's starting to show. She needs a break the poor lamb, but she's got a few days at the weekend that she's looking forward to. I believe she's even got a night out with the girls planned. Bless her. 

We've got a bit of a get together on Saturday planned too. It's that time of year again when it's Mr Ball senior's birthday, so we're all going for a bit of a lunchtime nosh up in a countryshire public house. Sister Ball is coming down from "that Manchester" and even the  in-laws are going to join us. Should be a giggle and even if you can't chose your family - it's fair to say that we're very lucky to have family that aren't just bearable, but are actually fun to be with so it's something to look forward to. Still got to get the elder ball's birthday present yet though. 

Well - no chance of me getting to 750 words today - far too much todo..

Pooh's on the phone, so I'd best get on with it. Stay safe. 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fire me into oblivion... please!

It’s all kicking off....

Still no sign of the mythical beast of a deal that Pooh and I have been waiting for, but the current one that we’re wrestling with is much like a firework.  

The blue touch paper has been lit and we should be standing well back - however “Kanga” is not only poking it with a stick (and not a pointy one I should add - as we all know the best weapon of choice of all woodland creatures is a pointy stick) but he’s picking it up and carrying it over to the gathered crowd as if to say “look at this, maybe we should try opening it and seeing how much gunpowder is in inside” - much to the terror of the rest of us.  Didn’t he read the instructions (using a battery operated torch) before hand ?

Owl was fuming and there was some argy-bargy from Eeyore. In fact if Owl hadn’t been up a tree at that point, he’d have happily pulled Eeyore’s tail off (which is only held on by a drawing pin). 

The dangers of messing with fireworks are ably demonstrated by Pooh, who has to go and have his hand fixed after many years of making his own fireworks in the privacy of his own home. The result of this means that he’ll be leaving me in charge of the box of unlit rockets and of course the finale “sky-bomb” which I’ll be setting off next week.

It should travel high enough into the stratosphere to come down somewhere over the far side of the atlantic ocean - but that rather depends on what the crowd think of it as it goes up.  Our fireworks are “applause driven” so if there’s not a general feeling of approval from the watching audience it won’t make it and I’ll have to have another look in the “wooden” (not metal) box to see if there’s anything better we can set off.

However, before we get that far, we need the other woodland folk to take another look at the potential “sky-bomb” and make sure they’ve included all the right whistle’s and bangs in it so that it appears appropriately whizzy when it goes up.  The problem here though, is that they’re currently working on a firework display for the village and not the 100-acre wood.  Piglet's on the case.

Some of the other woodland creatures that we don't see much - the one's that hangout in parliament, are also getting twitchy. Tigger's are wonderful things (as we all know) - but a brave bear with a pointy stick and very little brain has a better outlook on those creatures than a tatty, bouncy tigger does.

Penny-for-the-guy anyone ?

Tiggernpooh

Appreciate that’s all a bit abstract, but if you know what I’m jabbering about, then you’ll know what I’m jabbering about.

Away from the wood things are relatively quiet. A nice Chilli for dinner last night, some "Come Dine With Me" on the telly and I managed to keep my eyes open long enough to see the first half of "The Ghost" (Known as "The Ghost Writer" outside of the UK). 

It's the story of a writer employed to ghost write the autobiography of an ex-british prime minister.  A political thriller with the young Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor) as the writer and James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) as the PM.  So far, reasonably enjoyable, with lots of it set in Martha's Vineyard, the island just off the southern edge of Massachusetts, which looks like a great place to be in the summer - and a "windswept and interesting" place to be in the winter. I'll give you my final take on it once I've found an hour to cram the second half in.

Anything interesting in the news??  Well, there's The EU debt crisis, which is droning on and on. The Boeing Dreamliner has had it's first commercial flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong. Amazon's profits are seriously down due to production of the new Kindle Fire. IBM have named a new female chief executive (Virginia Rometty) to replace the current CEO (Sam Palmisano) in January next year. And "Nokia World" has begun where Nokia will announce a bunch of phones (including the Nokia Luma 800 Windows phone - available from November at $585) that won't be as good as the iPhone (probably). That's a little unfair, but having spent most of my career around windows and Microsoft, it's probably true.

And on the subject of Microsft, Happy Birthday to Windows XP yesterday. 10 Years old and still favoured by millions of PC users.

Finally, finally - if you feel like doing something dangerous - and let's face it on a Wednesday, who doesn't? - you could always try this:

Ta-ra for now.

 

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bleurr..ummphh! (Pirates, Mummies & Murderers)

That’s the sound of Monday.  All a bit of a flop this week. Things have not gone well for Pooh and I and interestingly this is through no fault of ours, but of some extremely unrealistic expectations of a few other members of the cast from elsewhere.  Ultimately we’re on hiding to nothing with this job - unless some wakes up and smells the coffee.

Somehow, in the midst of all this I’ve managed to pick up two deals that I’m covering for someone else and another one that I have to run with. I’ve asked for further detail which as yet is not forthcoming, so in true broken record style-ee, IIWII. Enough already.

 

Daughter returned unscathed from her dealings with the British legal system. The accused plead guilty in the end so she didn't have to take the stand, but she did get to meet a few other rum sorts - including a murderer. She's always interested in the bizarre and darker side of life - not too interested mind you, just enough to want to know enough to satisfy her curiosity. I still worry of course, but she displays excellent judgement of character for the most part. I've learned to "let go" a fair bit now. You have to let them have their own space to grow - even if they do occasionally poke around in the darker corners of the world. There was a further example of this later in the evening.

 

Last night's dinner was tuna steak freshly caught from our local supermarket on my bike in the rain. What could be nicer?  Hard to believe that just over a week ago I was sitting around in shorts and t-shirts and 28 degrees of sunshine. Now winter has arrived properly and it's cold, dark, wet and miserable. Halloween and fireworks just around the corner means that Christmas is only just behind them and at least there will be festive fun -somewhere amongst the misery. 

 

The other highlight from last night - and of "dark" interest to daughter - was provided by Channel 4. Mummifying Alan - Egypt's Last Secret is a documentary following Dr. Stephen Buckley and Dr Joann Fletcher mummifying the body of Taxi driver, Alan Billis. (Torquay's Tutankhamun) Engaging, fascinating and at times disturbing. It was Alan's choice to donate his body to this experiment and his attitude towards it is best described by his own words:

"It's just a shame I won't be here to see the results. I love a good documentary". 

I'm sorry he's missed it to, because it's really worth a watch. Amazing stuff.

Mummifying-alan--300x200

Tuesday has landed and what’s to report?...  not a lot really, so a hunt around the Internet might bring up something a little more intriguing, and here's some newsy type stuff....

 

According to The Next Web, Netflix, the video rental/streaming company that have all the latest and greatest movies available online is finally coming to the UK next year.  Right now that's too late for me, I've recently signed up with LoveFilm (part of Amazon) which I'm glad to report is quite excellent so far. That said I might jump ship once Netflix lands just because in other parts of the globe - namely America - its supported by Apple TV. But let's just wait and see what the deal is first, after all they've just had a price hike in the US and customers had been voting with thier feet on it: Video rental firm Netflix loses customers over prices 

 

As for LoveFilm, I've taken the 14 quid a month package which entitles you to an unlimited number of DVD or BlueRay rentals (but only two at a time) and streaming to PS3, iPad, iPhone, Mac or PC. You can actually stream up to 3 different titles simultaneously (to different devices obviously). Streaming the latest releases means paying an extra 3 or 4 quid, but the back catalogue is almost as good as mine, so it's impossible to be at a loss to watch anything in the Ball household now.

 

As a result I've caught up with few odds and ends of movies lately, most recent of which is "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides". This is the fourth in the series and quite possibly it's turned a corner - though not necessarily completely. The first film in the franchise was a ripper. Great fun for everyone and thoroughly enjoyable. Sadly from there, it slipped downhill and gradually got worse and worse. That last effort was almost unwatchable - however, for the most part I quite enjoyed this one and while Johnny Depp churns out the same "Captain Jack" as always, the material he has to work with does feel a darn sight more snappier and thought out than part 2 or 3 did. Good stuff if your kids are fans and you're looking for something for them to watch during half term.

Pirates_of_the_caribbean_4

That should cover my 750 words for today (838 to be precise). It seems that 750words.com really is helping me. 

 

Until next time. 

 

 

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jobs

Yesterday was the 10th birthday of the iPod, and today is the launch of the official biography of the late Steve Jobs

The story of the iPod and how it's allegedly killed the music industry is a well told and worn one - in my opinion it's just changed the music industry, not killed it, but what do I know?  The story of it's creator (and I use that term in a fairly loose way on this occasion) is far less well known.  He was renowned for being a very private and secretive man which is seemingly at odds with his presence and "fame" - for want of a better word - as a company director.  There aren't many - if any CEO's (with the possible exception of Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook) - that are as well know as he was. I've heard loads of theories about the reasons for his popularity since his death, but I'm not sure I click with any of them.  

He was, after all, just a man, like any other who happened to be in the right place at the right time and had a drive and passion for his business. I think he was more "well known", than popular although I think that his perceived "popularity" has a lot to do with his peer group.  Bill Gates might have owned the PC - via the Microsoft behemoth, but I'm not sure he'd be a barrel of laughs at a party. Steve beat Bill by being a "cool geek" and you can see why other geeks would want to emulate him for that reason.

I don't really read biography's - some people swear by them - but in this case I might be tempted to make an exception. I suppose I'm following the heard of wannabe cool geeks, but equally I'd quite like to know what went on in his head. Even if it is from another person's perspective and not his own.

I'll leave the subject of Steve with two points - one, and most interestingly for me, the talk in the book of an Apple Television. Not Apple TV, which he claimed was just a hobby, but an actual Apple Television. Some people have said this already exists in the form of the iMac, but I think we all know what Steve's really getting at and I think it's probably the the last piece of his grand plan. The ownership of the living room would be complete - whether it'll ever see the light of day now that he's passed, only time will tell.

The second Steve story is my favourite - and is all about the shenanigans around the release of the iPhone 4.  Some of you will probably recall that Gizmodo managed to acquire an iPhone 4 that an Apple sales rep left in a bar by mistake. Brian Lam tells of his take on Steve Jobs in this article (Steve Jobs was always kind to me (or, regrets of an asshole)), and what makes it for me is the line "Before he hung up, he asked me, "What do you think of it?"". Judge for yourself.

Giz_ip4

On the work front, IIWII and WAWWA, which for the regular readers means it's not great, but that's life. I am starting to get rather swamped though.  The work I'm doing with pooh obviously takes priority, but I'm covering for one of our number who is on vacation, pooh is going to take some time out to have his honey-covered paws cleaned up and there's more work on the horizon. I'm perceiving a pressure that doesn't yet exist - not a good place for my brain to be.

Daughter's in court today. Not for something she did (thank heavens) but for something she saw. This is what happens when you patrol the mean streets in your spare time. She was a little nervous before she set off - but she'd never say so. I'm sure it'll be fine and they'll lock up the bad guys and let the good guys go. 

Her companies attitude towards her having time off to attend court has been less than satisfactory though.  She's performing a service for her local community, free, gratis and at no charge. This translates into not only a safer, happier place for all those that live on her patch - many of them work in the same company - but also a direct saving in each of their pockets by way of a lower level of council tax.  

Clearly a forward thinking company would recognise that safe and happy staff are more hardworking and reliable staff and as such be supportive of her venture. Attending court as a witness / arresting officer isn't something you can choose not to do - it's a legal requirement. So, a day off without pay - rather than taking holiday (which let's face it, is supposed to be for your holidays) would seem to be the correct thing to do when these circumstances arise.  Not a bit of it.  

However... the police have been called, HR will be summonsed - they're surrounded and there's no escape.

Police

There's also currently no documented policy within the business to deal with it - and so hopefully it will be resolved in a speedy and logical manner. 

It seems the business just needs some edumacation in the way their community works.

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Dilbert's on a roll....

...or at least that how it appears to me having read this:

http://badmansjournal.blogspot.com/2011/10/smis.html

and then seen this:

Dilbert.com



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, October 21, 2011

Barbara!! Barbara!!

Yet again I’ve slipped into failing to blog.  I think the only way I’m really going to break this on and off scribbling is to signup to 750words.com again and really get my writing muscle pumping.

The truth of it is that I’ve been distracted from my blogging duties. I made a bit of a stab at it a couple of weeks ago and then I foolishly went off on holiday to Spain on the weak and feeble premise of “playing golf with the lads”.  There was some playing of golf - and in point of fact I even managed to play at least one very very good game by beating everyone else - but as is the case with such things this was most likely a fluke brought about by the amount of alcohol consumed paired with the lack of sleep that the “good” players had.  I could blag it and say my game just improved dramatically - but we all know that would be a lie.  It was merely fortuitous timing.  All the same - I won - they lost!! Hahaha!

 

One of our number has laid some ground work towards becoming a minor celebrity. Actually, when I say minor that’s bigging him up quite a bit.  In short he’s been filming “Come Dine With Me” - and if you don’t know what that is, you’re both very lucky and missing out on some popular culture that won’t change your life, but might make you smile.

 

It turns out that the filming of this show carries on until the wee small hours after each evenings dinner, and leaves the participants pretty much dead on their feet.  In this individual’s case, he was the last one to host dinner and his night ran on until about 4am on the Saturday morning.  Ordinarily this wouldn’t have mattered a jot, except that we had to be leaving for the airport to fly to spain at - you guessed it - 4am.  He was late.  He was drunk (ish) and he was still wearing his tuxedo from dinner.  A cracking start to a crazy week.

 

Regardless - he made it - we all did, and by 11am on Saturday, 8 of us were ensconced in an 80’s styled villa in Puerto Banus ready for beer, food, golf and general shenanigans. Fun times.

 

I won’t bore you with it, but we bumped into Cilla Black, Stan Boardman and probably an unknown number of ex-Eastend blaggers and criminal underlings. We drank too much, slept too little and got sunburned and tired. Very relaxing.

I bought gifts for Mrs G and daughter - they wanted perfume - and very happy with the results they are.  So what you need after a week like that is a nice gentle start back in the office.  Not a bit of it.....  

 

A conversation with the badman on Sunday, meant that I had to load up the roller-skate and whizz off to a local starfleet office because things had “kicked off” on another piece of work - not the one we’ve been waiting for, but one I’d “helped out on” just before my holiday.  What I needed was a nice quite start to catch up on the email infestation - but instead it was “bloody hard work” followed by dinner with a bunch of people who didn’t really want dinner, but did want to be entertained.

 

The badman and I suffered it together - and I suppose it could have been much worse, but really no-one was in the the mood for a party - so there wasn’t one.

 

The rest of the week has limped along because of some poorly made assumptions elsewhere and because of the now infamous phrase “It Is What It Is”.  I am thoroughly sick to death of hearing it and saying it, so for future reference anytime it may be mentioned I shall simply say “IIWII” - which looks a bit like an appendix to World War 2 in shorthand, and now you come mention feels a bit like it too.

 

The weekend is just around the corner (for most of us) although it appears I may have to do some work during mine just so that we can be “ahead of the game” on Monday.  On this occasion I don’t really see the point of it, when our target seems to be way beyond our reach - but We Are Where We Are......  Arrrrrrrrrrrgggghh   WAWWA!!!!

 

....I other news....

 

Got my iOS5 upgrades everywhere they need to be - and I like them a lot. Great stuff - everything working smoothly and seemlessly. All-in-all very pleased with what they’ve done there.

 

We have an infesation of in-laws and out-laws this weekend. It’s my favourite brother-in-laws birthday and he and the rest of his family are around our neck of the woods to celebrate.  I’d hoped for some R&R after two hectic weeks, but then I don’t mind digging deep for some remaining energy reserves in this instance.

 

Afterall - IIWII and WAWWA.....

 

Barbara!!  Fetch me the shotgun!

CDWM_Spain_Intro.mp3 Listen on Posterous

 

 

 

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lion Eyes TV: CSO Manchester

Come on BBC Comedy.... Where's the commissioning for such great work?



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Friday, October 07, 2011

I've had better weeks....

...well we all have. 

Looking back at it, I'm glad it's over. It started off so well too. Monday wasn't too shabby for a Monday and Tuesday - as I've said elsewhere - made a trip to the office with bad man. And of course it was apple Tuesday which seemed to serve to wind a whole host of people up for no reason in particular. 

The apple fan boys - who it seems are incapable of reading - felt they'd all been let down because the new iPhone isn't a 5 but a 4S. Clearly those that complained weren't paying attention when the iPhone 4 wasn't and iPhone 4 but a 3GS. Still, it takes all sorts. 

The Android crew are also bitching about it - claiming "Androids already do that" when referring to the voice commands. iPhones already do that to... But as usual they're not comparing eggs with eggs. Both handsets have their merits and both have their drawbacks, but at the end of the day the iPhone works for everybody and not just those who want to tweak every conceivable setting under the misapprehension of control. I'm not a "fanboy" but I'm definitely a fan now - and those lads who "went cheap" and bought the android (you know who you are rodders) are constantly regretting it. 

Wednesday saw Badman in the office, and after suggesting I didn't need to be I got proper lumbered with a new job and next to no information about it. By the end of the day what I had gleaned didn't look pretty and I needed a proper conversation with the bloke who knows.... He wasn't available though. 

Thursday meant he was though and the upshot of the conversations I had with him provided some further detail and most disturbingly an unachievable deadline. As always with these type of requests the issues aren't easily fixed. Having enough of the right people is the kicker every single time. Still - there's a process to deal with it, and so off we go....

Just to top off the apple mess, Steve Jobs passed away on Thursday aswell. That's a terrible loss and it's amazing just how many people he's touched via the products that apple have made. He's one of the the very few CEO's that people who don't need to know, actually do know of. Even Mrs G (who hates technology) knew who he was. A sad day indeed. 

Friday was more of the same. Bad man had wisely taken Thursday and Friday off, so I was covering for him. There was a small request for something that had already been done but required the calming of a stressed member of the team and then there was more flapping about the lack of people to get things done. 

Mid afternoon I spoke with the bad man to "hand over" the disgusting can of worms. Poor bugger's got some evil virus as well - not at all what he needs when he's trying to have a couple of days off - and then on top of that I'm handing him a bag of sh1t to really spoil his week next week. I'm sure he'll make a decent stab of it while I'm away, and I'm also sure it will still be a bag of sh1t when I get back - Albeit a much small and less smelly bag - through no fault of his.  As we know "it is what it is and we are where we are" (I'm really starting to loath that phrase)

Finally it's Friday night and time to get some packing done. I've got a 3am start (don't feel sorry for me - I've got a week in Spain) and I haven't done anything towards it yet. 

So, with that in mind ... Moustache ... Must Dash ... Geddit? Sorry - unacceptable. 

Until next time...

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is how it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new.

Steve Jobs, 2005
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)


This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Apple Tuesday - Part 2

So what happened?.....    Just in case you haven’t heard it yet here’s the short(ish) version...

 

So they started off with Tim Cook taking the stage and talking about two new Chinese Apple Stores and the new one over in Hong Kong too.  They like to big up the numbers first.  He ran a video and got his first proper round of applause.

 

Then the new CEO went on to discuss their products. Starting with the desktop OS (OSX Lion) and comparing it to Windows 7. Lion has been downloaded 6 million times. It took Windows 7 20 weeks to reach the same point that Lion reached in 2 weeks.

 

Mac: The MacBook Air - the best macbook ever. Mac has outgrown the PC market by almost six times and Mac has outgrown the PC every quarter for the last 5 years.

 

iTunes and iPods: In 10 years the iPod has become the number one music player in the world. More than 70% of the US market belongs to the iPod and they’ve sold over 300 million iPods worldwide.  Sony sold 230,000 walkman cassette players in 30 years. iTunes launched 8 years ago with 200,000 tracks available, and now it holds 20 million. It’s the number one music store in the world.

 

iPhone: The iPhone 4 accounts for 50% of the iPhones ever sold. The number 1 smartphone in the world. 93% of the Fortune 500 companies are deploying the iPhone in their businesses. The iPhone has 5% of the mobile phone market worldwide - not smartphones - but mobile phones. That is one hell of a lot of phones.

 

iPad: The iPad has a 95% customer satisfaction rating. They’re everywhere. Schools, Pilots and Medicine. 3 out of 4 tablets sold in the US are iPads. As AllThingsD said “People want iPads, not Tablets”, And this morning, the passed 250 million iOS devices sold.

 

iOS: iOS accounts for 43% of the mobile OS installed base. There are over 500,000 apps in the Apps Store and just over 140,000 of these are specifically designed for the iPad. There have been over 18billion apps downloaded - over a billion a month.  There’s also now a “cards” app, in which you send your photo and it’s then delivered via the postal service.

 

iOS5: There’s over 200 new features as we already know. They include notifications and  iMessage (like BlackBerry Messenger) which will run on all the iOS devices. There will also be Twitter integration (not Facebook) and ....

 

  • NewsStand: NewsStand will download new publications in the background so they’re ready and waiting for you when you want to read them.  
  • Camera: My favourite feature - The volume buttons as a trigger for the camera, but there’s also autofocus and autoexposure along with grid line to align your shot.
  • Game Center: which is the place where iOS gamers get together. There’s 67 million users on there now.  
  • Safari: has had a refresh, and includes the reader feature which exists on the desktop version already.

 

It’ll run on the iPhone 4, 3GS, iPad 1 & 2, iPod touch (3rd & 4th Gen) and will arrive on October the 12th...  bit annoying because I wanted it before I jet off - but so be it.

 

iCloud” obviously is the next big thing to be discussed. iCloud is all about syncronising your iOS devices. iTunes will be in the cloud, Photo Stream, puts your photos in the cloud. You can store your Pages & Numbers documents up there and your iOS device will be automatically backed up every day. It will finally be available to all on October the 12th.

 

“Family and Friends” is a new app to help keep track of your family and friends. There are location sharing blocks of time and simple privacy controls to enable switching the service on and off. Of course your family and friends will need to be carrying an iOS device.

 

“iTunes Match” will scan your library and match it to the tracks that exist in iTunes to save you uploading them onto iCloud. Not sure what happens if you haven’t bought your tracks (ie: They’re pirated) but I’m sure that’ll become clear.  To sign up for it, you pay $25 per year but not until the end of October. And the rub here??  It’s only available in the US due to copyright law. Pah!

 

just going back to the iPods...

 

iPod Nano: new built in sensors for tracking your walking and running. 16 New clock faces for everyone who uses their iPod Nano as a watch. (8Gb = $129 and 16Gb = $149)

 

iPod Touch: Most popular iPod and the most popular gaming device. iMessage and GameCenter are both appearing here. There’s now going to be a white version. (8Gb = $199, 32Gb = $299 and 64Gb = $399)

 

And so... onto the iPhone....

 

The iPhone 4S!!!  (I hate to say I told you so).  

 

It’s the same externally as an iPhone 4, but internally there’s lots of changes.  The A5 chip (Apple designed Dual Core ARM chip), 7x faster graphics (dual core graphics processor), Increased battery life, Improved antennas for call quality and download speeds up to almost 14.4Mbps and it’s a Worldphone!...  The camera has been upgraded to an 8 megapixel sensor. 

Iphone4s

If you’re really into your camera gear - you’d be interested to know it has the following: “CMOS backside illuminated sensor — gets 73% more light than the iPhone 4 sensor, and 1/3rd faster. On top of that, we place a high-end IR filter for greater accuracy and uniformity.” - They’re complex gizmos and they’re very highly rated. HD 1080p video recording with real-time stabilisation and noise reduction. 

 

And finally.....  Voice. This is really the new innovation. Now you can talk to your device. It’s marketed as an “Intelligent Assistant” known as Siri.

 

So you say, “What’s the weather like today?” and it simply tells you.....  now, I’m happy to look up at the sky, but I get where this is going. “What time is it in Paris?” for example is far more useful. 

 

You can set your alarm by saying “Wake me up tomorrow at 6am” These are the sort of clever tricks your iPhone 4S will doing for you.

 

Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha searches by voice.

 

Basically - you ask it and it speaks back the response. Good stuff if it works as well as the demos. Other wise, http://www.DamnYouAutoCorrect.com was the tip of the iceberg. Works in English, French and German.

 

And so a worldwide launch on October the 14th... with pre-orders from the 7th October in the US, Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany and Japan.  Oh, and the price ?

 

16Gb = $199

32Gb = $299

64Gb = $399

 

The iPhone 4 will drop to $99 and the remaining 3GS’ will be free on contract.

 

That’s it. What do you think?



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Apple Tuesday

So in a departure from what has become the norm, today saw me making a trip up to the local office for a meeting with the bad man and a newly assigned PM who will be taking things forward from here for us.

Wednesday's have become the day for our weekly get togethers up there, but this week it's a Tuesday. Nothing especially different about it, other than the rest of the account team weren't there.  As things have turned out, the day went well mostly - apart from having to pick up something new that wasn't on the original list of new things to be picking up. In the end, mid afternoon saw us finishing off at a sensible time.

Other facts we learned today*: 

  • The Channel Islands are just off the coast of Poland.
  • Lawyer is spelt L-I-A-R

It's Apple day - so I'm looking forward to hearing what they have to say about the next round of iPhones. As I said yesterday, I'm fully expecting there NOT to be an iPhone 5 (but as with everything those guys do - anything could happen)

Iphone

I reckon the best iOS5 function that's coming (aside from the voice assitant and the enhanced notifications system) is moving the camera shutter button onto the physical volume buttons on the side of the phone. That will actually make picture taking far more natural and one hell of a lot easier to do.

Next week I'm jetting off on the annual (or in my case bi-annual) golf trip to Spain. Normally I have to lug my proper camera around with me of an evening to capture the lads in various states of stupidity. Fingers crossed that the new OS lands in time so that this year I'll only be lugging my phone. I'm also going to get my "posting to Google+ via email" sorted out so that I can instantly share thier embaressing moments amongst the correct circles (although posting to a specific circle via email is something I have yet to figure out).

Something you may not be aware of that will help me along the path of automating such tasks it a website called http://ifttt.com (If This Then That). It's a place were you can join sites (referred to as channels) together in the form of "tasks".  So for example if you use instagram to take pictures and have a dropbox account (for online storage), you could create a recipe that each time you take a picture with instagram, then copies that picture onto your dropbox storage.

Once you've created your "tasks" you can share them to the ifttt community as "recipes". There's a whole host of channels available to the tool, including such sites as Facebook, Foursquare, GoogleMail, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr and on and on the list goes. It's clever stuff and I'd recommend it if you're trying to manage your "external digital emminance" :D

Well then - 6pm is almost upon us and so I'm shooting off to keep track of the Apple announcement. Hopefully I can get iOS5 before my travels.

If you feel like following along, you can do so here: http://live.gdgt.com/live-apple-iphone-5-event-coverage/ 

*Some items proclaimed as fact may NOT actually be facts. True Story.

 



This post originally appeared here: Posterous

Monday, October 03, 2011

Catching up with the Tech - well Facebook, Twitter, G+ and Apple

Onwards to my favourite subject, but one I’ve been a little neglectful of lately. All things technological.  In particular, two subjects, that of the Social network and of Apple.

Facebook has become THE social network. It’s slowly grown into that position over a (relatively) long period of time, as you can see here:
[[posterous-content:pid___0]]
I’m sure you’d agree that’s some pretty rapid growth. But that’s nothing.  Take a look at Twitter’s growth numbers.
[[posterous-content:pid___1]]
So Facebook went from zero to 800 million users (by far the most of any Social Network) in 7 years. You could average it at 114m users a year if you like.

However, Twitter went from zero to 200 million in 5 years, which again you could average to 40m a year. So that’s still very rapid growth, but not as fast as Facebook.  So what about Google plus?

G+ went from zero to 10million users in 16 days.....  and we can see from the trends of the other networks that growth starts off slow....  If that’s slow! then these are crazy numbers..  averaging out at 228m a year!!! Holy crud.  Of course - these are just statistics and as we know 87.4% of statistics are made up on the spot.  G+’s biggest problem is that to move people from Facebook onto G+, the Facebook crowd won’t budge until their friends are there, or until Facebook changes something major that they don’t like.

And guess what?  One snippet of tech news that’s not just a statistic is that Facebook is changing.  Their recent F8 conference announced a whole raft of changes which clearly show they feel threatened by the release of Google+ and that they’re running to catch up quick.  One of the more interesting is the timeline, which I actually think looks very nice - but it's pretty creepy when stuff like this happens to what you thought was personal - and then suddenly isn't.  

And of course, Facebook users - who are traditionally a fairly conservative bunch - won’t like the change.  At least for about three weeks and then they’ll just resort to their usual level of bland chitter-chatter.

Here’s what timeline looks like from Facebook’s perspective...


Now, from socialising, onto the fruit stuff... Apple.....

If you didn’t know already, there’s an Apple announcement tomorrow and this has served to whip the IT press into a frenzy.  Here’s what I’ve heard that seems pretty solid...

Steve Jobs probably won’t be there, because Tim Cook will be, now that Steve has officially retired. It would be great for him to appear to handover to Tim, but he’s probably too unwell, which is a great shame.  He’s clearly been one of the most innovative CEO’s in the tech industry over the last 10 years and turned Apple around when they needed it most. He will be greatly missed by the tech world as a whole.

As for the announcement, the expectation is the iPhone 5 will land - and I have to say after all I’ve seen and read - I don’t think it will. I think the iPhone 5 (which might have a curved back a bit like the iPhone 3 - or it might not) isn’t going to show up until next year at the earliest. 

Furthermore, the location for the announcement (Apple’s HQ) is a very small venue - too small for an iPhone launch - and this time of year is traditionally reserved for iPod announcements.  Having said that, the invite for the event looks like this:
[[posterous-content:pid___2]]

Now - lots of people have tried to analyse this image - and have drawn the conclusion that - it’s clearly an iPhone event (and not an iPod event), It’s on Tuesday the 4th at 10am in Cupertino, CA and it’s about voice recognition on the iPhone.  That seems to fir with all the other rumors pretty nicely.

iPhone stuff
  • There’s going to be a cheaper 8G iPhone 4 (model N90A)
  • There’s going to be an iPhone 4S (model N94) will have CDMA GSMA HSPA+ (in other words 4G capabilities)
  • Really good speech recognition. Probably not on the iPhone 3Gs or earlier.

Non iPhone stuff
  • The iPod classic will no longer be available.
  • A new iPod touch possibly

Other random guesstimate....
  • There really might be an Apple HDTV - but it’s really dodgy ground.  I’d love to think this was true, but who knows. We’ll just have to wait until tomorrow....

The far more interesting part of the announcement will be the arrival of iOS 5.

iOS 5 has loads of great new features - and as I’ve said elsewhere, since Amazon have announce the Kindle Fire - hardware isn’t where the fight is anymore.  It’s moved on to content. Once more, content is king again. 

If you count an OS as content, then Apple are going to do something awesome in this space. You can read about the advertised changes here: http://www.apple.com/ios/ios5/

But one last minute feature that I hadn’t heard about until this week is iOS5’s new locking features - including shapes. Drag your finger in a shape to unlock the screen.  Android does this already - so it’s a welcome addition.

So - 10am PST is 6pm UK time. The only absolute certainly is the tech press will still be talking about it and wondering what Apple will do next.


This post originally appeared here: Posterous
 

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