Tag: REALLY

Home is…

It’s over six months since I moved into my flat, and it’s only now starting to feel like home.

For a while I was using the old sofa (old as in age, and as in ‘pre-divorce’) but I now have my own sofa and chairs. I have art on the walls, bookcases, lamps and, once I get a couple of plants and some curtain-like things it will really start to feel like mine.

Except it’s not mine, it’s rented. But aside from that… it’s mine. Right?

I’m still scouring shops for a coffee table, and think I might need a rug to really pull things together but I’m in no rush.

I’ve been reasonably smart with my purchases, determined not to buy things for the sake of it and to make sure that anything I buy now could fit somewhere else. My living room is huge, it was what attracted me to the flat, but I won’t be there forever so I need to keep that in mind and make sure the same furniture will squeeze into a smaller space.

Interestingly, it’s this very desire to keep things ‘small’ that has me, once again, pondering whether to ditch my home PC and get a laptop instead. Regardless of that decision, I need to get more storage space (new camera + shooting in RAW = rapidly filling hard drive) and so it seems sensible to get a network storage device first, and then I can make a decision on desktop vs laptop later.

Part of that thinking also found me clicking the BUY button and ordering a certain, well known, tablet computer. It’s called an iPad and, given that the bulk of my use of the computer is centred around consumption and social networking, it gives me a much more mobile system. My TV can handle media files so it will be interesting how my use of my desktop changes as it will mainly only REALLY be needed for doing website development work (something that could easily be done on a laptop, a nice Air-ey one perhaps?).

What has really surprised me is how much enjoyment I’ve taken from pulling together a room, but that’s maybe because I can’t change much in the kitchen, the bedroom only really needs some art on the walls as it’s not really got space for much other than the bed and some chests of drawers, and the spare room is, for now, a bit of a dumping ground. I have plans for the spare room too but I’m keen to keep it sparse, functional and not to rely on the space too much, again, when I move in the future, it might be somewhere smaller.

Turns out I’m quite house proud, and I’m really enjoying trawling shops (online and off) for decorations.

I really REALLY wish I’d bought that letterpress lamp base when I saw it though…

On not worrying

I’m not the best qualified person to write about this but when has that ever stopped me.

A few weeks back, as we rolled towards the new year, I started to ponder resolutions. It’s something I think of every new year, even if I don’t publically state them. There seems to be something about the ‘new’ part of the new year which allows for a clean slate, new beginnings and all that.

As ever most of my resolutions focus on being better, rather than worse*, at things in my life that I could control. Read more, exericse more, etc etc. Nothing revolutionary or notable there.

It seems, however, that I have subconsciously been taking another tack. Whilst I’ve been joining gyms and buying books, my brain has been busy churning away in the background and has, a few weeks late, that my new year resolution will be to avoid negativity wherever I can.

I’m not quite sure what that means in any specific detail but the facts remain that I find myself shying away from people who moan and gripe for no good reason, letting things go when all they will do is wind me up, and trying to improve my outlook in general.

The glass is half full.

I’m not always successful, and occasionally I think I’m dismissing some things that I should be tackling but I’m presuming my brain knows what it is doing (heaven knows I’ve no idea what I’m doing. Does anyone? REALLY?).

In the midst of this, as most of you know, my Mum was rushed to hospital and almost 9 days later she is still there (slowly improving).

So, whilst it’s a cliche I don’t really care because it’s true, but there is always someone worse off than you. In the grand scheme of things, the irks and bugbears we (yes I’m still doing my share of moaning, I didn’t say I’d cracked this yet!) continue to bleat and harp on about are but blips. We are only here for a short while, and I’m determined to make the most of it.

So, you. Yeah, you. Stop moaning about how “the world” is out to get you, about how everyone else has it better, because it’s not changing anything. Only YOU can change YOU and, until you do, I’ll be over here, smilingly ignoring you.

I’m aware this is all a bit obvious and self-serving, and that certain events during life will spark the same thoughts in others but it felt like something I had to write.

* Does anyone ever resolve to be worse at something?

Rose tinted

It’s funny, I always considered myself a pessimist, and whilst I certainly employ large doses of cynic it seems that I have a far more romantic view of the world than I realised.

Maybe romantic isn’t the right word, let me put it another way. I day dream. A lot.

I think that’s one part of being a human that I enjoy the most, aside from custard creams and other things I can’t mention here because my mother reads this and her head would spin, and to be honest so would yours. Well not YOU, obviously, but the rest of you would probably be quite shocked. Hmmm this is sounding worse than it should. Ok ok, so I also enjoy eating bourbons. There. I said it. Phew. Feels good to say it out loud to be honest, and at least I wasn’t admitting to anything too deviant like, purely for example, my shoe fetish…

Where the hell was I?

Oh yes, it’s good to be a human being because, as well as enjoy the styling and drama a 4″ stiletto brings to the party, I can spend time imagining how things may be in the future. Lazy Sundays with a good book in hand, holidays spent in exotic  lands, an entire weekend only watching Hitchcock movies, a day spent relearning how to canoe. That kind of thing.

And the REALLY good bit about being a human being is that it doesn’t need to be just a daydream. I can make it happen, hell I can make anything happen if I put my mind to it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to imagine up an ice cream van….

What do you not do?



When was the last time you looked at the things you don’t do?

The reason I ask is that this very question is occupying my mind at the moment as I try to pull together both a content audit of what we have and a plan to create the things we don’t have. Which isn’t as easy as it may sound.

There are three or four different departments involved in the audit, and from each I’ve asked the same two things:

  1. A list of all the content you currently have
  2. A list of all the content you would like to have

With both lists in place, and understanding that some items in the first list may also need some rework or ongoing maintenance, we should all have a good view of what everyone else is doing and be able to plan a smarter way to produce more of the items in list two.

Whilst this is nothing radical it should help us by making people step back to see the big picture and allow us to move forward in one direction. Once this phase of the content audit is complete, the next stage, planning how to fill some of the “would like to have” gaps, will begin and once we start producing this content, regular catchups will help keep everyone up-to-speed and make sure we all focussed towards the same goals.

The tricky bit will be populating the second list. Asking your audience or colleagues for input will lead to one thing, a very big long list of “hey, do you know what would be REALLY good…” style requests. I’m more than happy to field those and they are, for the most part, good to have noted down.

Where it starts to get tricky is in the prioritisation of these things, and for that you’ll need to get some of the interested parties together to help. I’ve already covered how I do that but to make that process a bit slicker (it’s very ad-hoc at the moment) I’ll be setting up a common “Information Planning” meeting. That way we can involve the pertinent stakeholders in the decision process, and it will help communicate the ongoing plans around the Information Strategy.

December

I’m sure you’ve all noticed by now that it is, without a shadow of doubt, December.

If nothing else, the ceaseless adverts for perfume, chocolate and some really REALLY faked Christmases (c’mon, does ANYONE have a Christmas like the ones on the telly?) should have clued you in.

There is no denying it. It is most definitely Christmas.

Which means two things.

1. The Christmas decorations will go up this weekend, and I’ll spend as much time as I can avoiding doing just that.

2. Blogs all over the land will start their ‘best of’ lists and recaps.

Except this one.

I thought I’d state it right now just in case any of you are waiting with baited breath, because it ain’t gonna happen. Now matter how many times I consider it, and I’ve tried it a couple of times in the past, I just never seem to have the time (or the inclination if I’m honest).

Instead, let us look forward to 2010, the year where a new sun will be borne from the ashes of Jupiter (we shall call it Lucifer) and.. ohh wait, that’s the book.

As ever, life will bring what it will bring, so I probably won’t be doing a lot of “looking forward” either, and it’s much easier to live in the here and now, don’t you think?

Home again, home again

I’m currently operating on about 4.5hrs sleep having landed earlier this morning and suffering the return of the 6.30 alarm.

Spain was warm, sunny for the most part, a little misty some mornings, blowing a gale for two of the days and we saw a beautiful lightning storm rage over the Mediterranean.

I read books (more on those later), drank beer, sang at the karaoke (a rare event, I was quite spectacularly drunk mind you), sunbathed and did pretty much bugger all for the entire week.

I couldn’t half do with a siesta right now though.

Aside from a vigorous can of cider erupting all over my sister on the plane on the way there, and my sister-in-law deciding to get herself a tattoo there isn’t a huge amount to report. Like I said, the sky was mostly blue, the sun was mostly hot, the beer was always cold. Same as it always is.

It was good to get back to my bed last night though, and I’m REALLY looking forward to spending a bit longer in it tonight! Only a few thousands RSS feeds to read, a handful of photos to upload and, if I can be bothered, I’ll jot down my thoughts on the books I read.

Enough about me though, how are you? Aside from the political goings-on (anyone want to own up to voting in the BNP? No I didn’t think so), what did I miss?

The Hourglass

I’m running out of time. All of a sudden it’s Friday and I’ve only JUST bought FIFA ’09 for the PS3, where on earth am I going to find the time to master it before I go on holiday??

Seriously though, what is up with time these days?

It’s either way too fast, I mean it’s almost June for fricks sake!, or it’s way too slow and no end of stern glares will make the minutes pass any quicker. It’s not like I’m just passing the time of day either, for time is, always, of the essence! Yes, still I can’t seem to control time, it flummoxes and bemuses me, for the time being at least.

Oh god, I’ve just realised, it’s because I’m getting old, right?

So not only do I have hairs growing in places where, frankly, hair is just not required (what is up with that, by the way, haven’t we evolved far enough that we really REALLY don’t need hair on our backs?), not only do I judge a pub based on volume and the comfort and availability of seats, and not only do I catch myself murmuring and grumbling about how things weren’t “this way” when I was young, or how spoiled kids are are “these days”, now I have to come to terms with the fact that my days are drawing to a close.

I mean, I’m 35, everything after this is shit, right? Surely, when it comes to the vagaries of time, and other such phrases, the key message here is “we can’t control time”. So if we can’t slow it down, when it’s running too fast, and we can’t speed it up, when it’s crawling along at snail pace, then we truly are at the whim and mercy of the timelords.

No, not THAT timelord, … bloody geeks (he was better in my day ya know…).

It seems that the realisation that time and tide wait for no man, even though we are all pressed for time, is only brought to bear with the passing of time itself. And, to be honest, it’s about time I got a grip and realised such things are outwith my control.

So, I’m quite happy for the time being at least but if action is required, we’d all do well do remember that time and tide wait for no man, and there is certainly no time like the present.

Planning the big move

I’ve waffled on about single source and our plans for long enough so, as we are finally starting the process itself, I thought I’d capture some information as we go along. However, it’s probably good to set the scene, so I’ll cover that stuff first. Over time you’ll be able to see all the posts related to this work here.

With a most recent product release almost out of the door, our thoughts turn to the next few months and, finally, beginning to move our content to Author-it. During our weekly team meetings, and across several shorter planning meetings in the past months, we’ve covered most of what we think we need to have covered.

However, to be sure we’ve decided to have an entire day, locked away in a room, to go over the basics and properly plan the content migration. We have a provisional agenda but it’ll be a fairly open session for most of the time, as long as we can drive out actions I’ll be happy. I’ll be shifting my PC into a meeting room and running it on a large screen so we can actually try things out whilst we are there.

So far the agenda looks something like this:

  • recap the basics – what is reuse, what topic types do we have
  • EXERCISE – take a sample chapter and walk thru the import method
  • where will the imported topics live? (we have a structure, is it right?)
  • how do we handle maintenance of different versions of the guides?
  • EXERCISE – working practice – RID needs changed from 2.7 through to latest – how do we do that?
  • output templates – what do we need?
  • working with graphics – agree best practice
  • what import templates need to be created
  • who will import what?

The two exercises are there to help us troubleshoot any potential issues that may arise in everyday usage. We’ve already had discussions around topic types, the structure of the content within Author-it and I think we’ve covered everything but the main underlying aim of this day will be to flush out anything we’ve missed, or highlight any minor niggles that we aren’t aware of yet. Hopefully we can answer all of our questions (or at least understand the questions properly) and move forward from there.

Of course the REALLY big question is whether I bring in doughnuts or chocolate biscuits for the day…

Versions

I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. I’m not sure if I’m about to completely humiliate and embarass myself. Or (I hope) this is another one of those things that everyone else does but that we just don’t talk about.

No, not picking your nose…

I adapt who I am depending on who I am with.

The most obvious change is when I’m in a heavily alpha male environment, where I become a lot louder, more forceful and laddish (aka “non-politicially correct) behaviour is not only pushed to the fore but heavily encouraged and instigated.

In less intimidating surroundings I become the joker, eager to make people laugh, possibly eager to gain some level of acceptance (still not sure about that one) and tend to come off as confident, self-assured and a bit cheeky but likeable. Yes, it helps that I’m really REALLY cute.

Those ladies that have met me can feel free to back that claim up in the comments. Or not.

Not you though, Mother.

In the company of close friends I become a little more introspect, and probably closer to my true self. I have nothing to prove and I’m happy that my friends accept me and my faults, as I accept theirs. Although there is always the nagging feeling that they have fewer faults than I.

Then we get to the version of me that few have seen, only a select few are allowed through that door and even then I do tend to tidy up the first few times they visit. After that I tend to start to care less about the appearance back there and at that point you are as close to the true me as is possible.

Finally, there is me. The me only I see and consider, the me that thinks things but never utters them, the me that knows when to shut up and when to push forward. That version of me is ME. My core, my centre, my very being. I don’t understand that version of me all that well, I am still learning all of the foibles, fissures, and flaws that barely scratch the surface.

Oddly enough the older I get the happier I am to let that version of me exist as it wants, no longer do I try to sway and coax it towards the me I think I want to be for, as should be obvious by now, even I don’t know which version of me I want.

To say that there are distinct versions of me is, of course, complete nonsense. Instead the various traits can be found everywhere, manifesting themselves where they aren’t expected. The quiet version of me can still be loud and laddish, the cheeky version of me can be still and introspective.

There is no version of me, I am consistently flawed. Each version can be selfish and compassionate, thoughtless and kind, harsh and tender all at once. Each version breathes with the next, changes with each heartbeat, and remains mercilessly unaware. I am inconsistent, there is no version of me.

There's nothing like a good book

We are off to Spain next week so there are some vital things to sort out. Namely what music to put on my iPhone (I’ve got Series 1 of The Wire on there already), and most importantly what books to take!

I’ve got a Jeffrey Deaver and an Ian Rankin on standby and have just ordered Casino Royale and Live and Let Die so that should get me through the week, in between trips to the pub and general lounging around of course.

I don’t really make time to read all that much these days, in fact I struggle to get through the two monthly magazine subscriptions I receive (Esquire and Runners World if you must know). Aside from that mostly everything I read is for work related purposes and even then I’ve got a backlog, it’s just never that high up my priority list to be honest. I’ve tried to ‘hack’ my habits to get back to reading more often but nothing has worked, my attention and thoughts continue to lie elsewhere and, if I’m honest I’m fairly happy with that at the moment. We’ll see if that changes any time soon but my take is that, if I was REALLY that bothered I’d have done something about it.

Obviously I’m not.

That said there is a part of me that is looking forward to getting away, purely to be able to completely zone out in a good book, or at the very least a trashy thriller. There is nothing quite like losing all sense of time whilst you frantically flip pages, desperate to get to the next part of the story, and the quiet sense of despair you feel when you reach the end and, just like that, it’s over. You don’t get that with every book, some just fizzle out and leave you somewhat deflated but others take you on such a journey that the temptation to re-read them immediately is almost overwhelming.

Go on then, what are you reading right now? (aside from this blog, obviously!).