Modest Mentoring

Scott Nesbitt over at DMN Communications recently posted about mentoring and yes, I am quite flattered that I am mentioned… I have been a team lead/manager at three different companies, cutting my teeth the first time as the youngest and most inexperienced member of the team at Dr. Solomon’s (the anti-virus people, bought by McAfee) standing in for a couple of months whilst a new department head was hired. Needless to say I didn’t do much mentoring there, as I was still largely learning my trade. The second position was my best learning experience, with a small company that went through a couple of boom/bust cycles. I learnt a lot about myself, the role of technical communications within a software …

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A night in Edinburgh

For the past few years my mate Keith has worked in Edinburgh producing the lighting for the Military Tattoo. I’ve never managed to get across to see him, or any of the Edinburgh Festival before, until yesterday. He gets accommodation for the few weeks he is there, and as luck would have it there was a spare bed last night. So I packed an overnight bag and hopped on the train, meeting Stuart who was coming through for the night. There were no real plans, just a few beers, dinner and maybe a show if the mood took us. And we did just that, partaking of a few shandies, and a rather good Thai meal in a nice restaurant tucked …

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Private Private

Continuing the terrible titles, this is a take on Catch-22, for no particular reason other than being able to play on the word “private”. Think yourselfs lucky I didn’t choose the schoolboy route and go with “Show us yer privates”. Oddly the only reason I’m writing about this is because Twitter is currently dead, if it wasn’t then my comment on the issue would’ve been something along the lines of “@plasticbag – nice pic on BBC website! And don’t some people get in a tizzy sometimes..”. At this point I should probably explain that I’m talking about the recently opened Fire Eagle service which “… stores information about your location. With your permission, other services and devices can either update …

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Why technical reviews fail

It’s a common topic, an oft repeated complaint, and one which has already had many many lines of advice written, and countless suggestions offered. So here’s a new slant. The reason most technical reviews fail is because of the writer, not the reviewer. It’s not because the reviewers couldn’t find the time, it’s not because the reviewers didn’t understand the need or reasoning behind the review, it’s not because they didn’t know what to do, and it is most certainly not because they don’t value your contribution to the product and your part in the development process. Because, if any of the above reasons are true, it’s YOUR fault, your responsibility. Katherine Brown covers this area well in her recent …

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Why you should watch the Olympics

One reason I like the Olympics, especially now the BBC red button is so heavily used for additional coverage is the.. er.. additional coverage that all the sports receive. So far I’ve watched a little basketball, fencing, archery, canoe slalom, badminton, weightlifting, boxing, cycling, swimming, and diving. That’s all before the athletics have started. I’ve watched tennis and football too but they get enough coverage (thankfully there isn’t an Olympic golf contest!). There is one thing that the BBC remain good at, and I guess it’s largely down to their researchers, is building stories into each event, adding personal backdrops to the unfolding drama and, for me at least, helping to drag you into the excitement. Add in some skilled …

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Storage

I have a MacBook, and I really enjoy using it as it is a very nice experience. I have a PC, and I really enjoy using it as I am a power-user and have it tailored to the way I work and I’m very comfortable in the environment. I find myself wanting to use the Mac for more but as I’m still learning keyboard shortcuts I find myself pausing and.. well it’s still not as fluid for me as working on the PC. Part of that is the resolution of the MacBook screen which is, these days, rather low. Hence my recent ponderings about a KVM to allow me to hook up the MacBook to my LCD monitor. Anyway, another …

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Fluid Languidity

Yesterday was spent flitting between family visits (bar my Gran as both Louise and I still have remnants of nasty colds and we’d hate to infect her), the evening including some TV and the movie The Matador which I knew a little about but which exceeded expectations by a country mile. A little bizarre and Pierce Brosnan is brilliant, well worth a lazy evening watch. And today, well bar a brisk walk to test out my knee (it’s throbbing as I type, but not as badly as before) we’ve mainly dotted around the house doing our own thing. Some Olympics have been watched, washings done, rooms tidied and games played. A quiet day, lazily drifting from task to task. And …

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Knee-ly there

(I do love me a craptastic punific title!!) I was at the physio yesterday and, bar a spot of confusion over the eccentric loading exercises I’d been given previously*, it went well. It’s the small things that matter you see, and the fact that the physio was able to prod and press on that tender spot under my left kneecap WITHOUT ME WANTING TO PUNCH HER IN THE FACE WITH A BRICK was, I believe, a very good thing. Progress indeed. After a course of ultrasound on my knee the physio gave me some new exercises (raised-heel weighted squats, some lunges and more flexibility focussed work) and an entire week within which to make some progress. I’ll need to go …

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Testing Documentation

As part of the product, testing documentation seems like an obvious thing to do, but what does it really mean? I’ve fielded the question in a few different places now and it’s always interesting to delve deeper and understand the rationale behind the request. “We should test the documentation”, seems like a harmless enough statement and I’ve heard it uttered in more than one place yet I’ve never worked in a company that actually tested the documentation. Some clarification is usually required, of course, as there are many ways that you could test the documentation, for example: For online help, test that any hooks from the application to the documentation work properly Check that cross-references are corrected and, if hyperlinked, …

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Finish This Sentence

Ignoring the fact I have been specifically tagged, and not completed, a few memes in the past couple of months, this one I think I can tackle. Thanks to Cliff for the open invite. 1. My uncle once: remembered my birthday (LOL!!). 2. Never in my life: have I chosen to eat a raw tomato, ick ick ick. 3. When I was five: I had the run of the house as my sister had yet to appear. 4. High school was: much the same as anyone else who was smarter than most and didn’t “fit in” with the cool kids. 5. I will never forget: finishing my first 10K and the emotions that went with that. 6. Once I met: …

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