Are you pondering what I'm pondering?


I’m thinking.

I’m thinking about what to write.

I’m thinking that I’m not sure where the tub of Polyfilla is, I’m hoping it didn’t get thrown out.

I’m thinking that I shouldn’t really be writing this post as my entire week is chock full of meetings and I need to grab every single available moment to ping off some emails and keep up to date with what’s going on outside of the meeting rooms which are currently almost a semi-permanent home.

I’m thinking that finding a better way to do things AFTER you are committed to a particular way of working is a little daft…

I’m thinking that having all 103GB of my music here at work is actually a bad thing as I spend WAY too much time flicking through tracks to find something that suits my mood.

I’m thinking that I really REALLY enjoyed the Pixar book I finished reading yesterday (it was a Christmas present) and that I should post up my thoughts/review but I don’t currently have the time.

I’m thinking that I should stop thinking and get something done!

What are you thinking?

Ready or not

I have made the lists.

I have checked the lists.

The lists do not lie.

I think I finally have a grip on … dammit … just remembered something else.

OK, let’s start over.

The coming few weeks will be hectic. The arrival and fitting of a new kitchen requires preparation, the erecting of a new fence in the back garden requires a little preparation too, and there is the small matter of an (overdue) website, on top of some new stuff at work which is REALLY exciting and which I’m trying not to let intrude into my ‘downtime’ (I’m failing on that count but I don’t really mind).

So I have a list of things that need to be purchased. A list of things that need to be done, ordered by when they need done by (paint the kitchen ceiling before it’s fitted, for example), and split into things that need done on the computer, and things that don’t. Fairly simple.

This is always the way of things, I no longer get (too) stressed out knowing that, in the end, things will come together and with everything safely stored NOT IN MY HEAD, then I can tackle the tasks as and when needed.

Although I’ve just thought of something else I need to do…

Right, I THINK I’m prepared now. Maybe.

Lemme just check that list one more time…

Grand Plans

Speaking to my Mum on the phone earlier, we both discussed the need to have a “good clear out”, something we’ll be forced into next month as we are getting a new kitchen fitted. What better time to declutter one room and try and build some momentum to carry into others.

As we are getting the kitchen done then there is, of course, other things to be thought about. Tiles for the walls, flooring, heating (the kitchen is too small for a radiator), and assorted soft furnishings and final fittings. Today we visited a couple of tile shops and we’ve managed to agree on both tiles and flooring, it’s a miracle. Honestly, we have different tastes when it comes to these things and whilst we’d both kind of agreed roughly what we were looking for (a grey tile for the walls, and probably slate for the flooring… slate effect laminate that is) we are both equally fussy about the finer details of such things.

That said, if we can be careful with costs it is possible we might be able to get the bathroom done as well, even if it’s just replacing the mushroom coloured suite for a nice white one, and retiling the place. We’ll see.

It’s pretty much all go here at the moment, with a lot happening. Not only are we dealing with kitchen paperwork and considerations, we are still getting to grips with Ollie even though he’s made it very easy for us by being so laidback about things, we need to replace the fence in the back garden as it blew down in the high winds on Monday night (this time last year the other side was damaged!), we have our nephew’s 21st birthday next weekend, we are off to Spain early February and I’m down in London the week after that.

I’ve also been tasked with producing a long list of my ‘best’ photos, from which Louise will choose her favourite 12 to put up on the walls. We have the picture frames bought, having been inspired by Heather and Jon, so the onus is on me to get the next stage complete.

And finally, when the weather clears a little, we’ll need to paint the fence in the back garden and the porch needs re-varnished.

I really, REALLY, shouldn’t have bought a Wii…

Dilbert does it again (again)

(What are the odds? If he smashes the nail on the head again tomorrow I WON’T post it here, I promise)

I really don’t know how Scott Adams manages to tap into these things, or is the software industry REALLY that similar the world over?

As the discussion of what we call ourselves, how much we should earn, what we do, why and what we need to justify, and why few seem to really GET what we can offer to a company (but that last one is kinda our fault), continues to rage across two mailing lists, this seems timely:

(click for bigger)

Dilbert does it again

I really don’t know how Scott Adams manages to tap into these things, or is the software industry REALLY that similar the world over?

Regardless suffice to say that, in our Extreme Programming (XP) development group (XP is a form of Agile development), todays’ Dilbert raised a bit of a chuckle:

(click for bigger)

FAO (some) bloggers*

Dear, …grayblog…, A beautiful revolution: blog, Amateur Shutterbug, An Unreliable Witness, Autoblography, Back in a Bit, Becky’s T-Blog, bitful, Blackbeltjones/Work, Blogging and Knitting; The Home of Domesticated Bloggage, Blogzira…, bloomfield.me.uk, Blue Witch, bob’s yer uncle, Boob Pencil, Boob Pencil, Chasing Daisy, Comfortable Disorientation, d4d, Dave Gorman, Day to Day Life of a Very Lazy Gardener, Delboy’s Daughter, diamond geezer, dooce, eachman.com, frizzyLogic, Fuddland, furtive minx, Girl with a one-track mind, GirlonaTrain, Glenn Wolsey, greavsie!, Hydragenic, I like, iand.net, JonnyB’s private secret diary, Justin Blanton, Kitchen Witch: a farrago of obscene witlessness., le petit hiboux | owls gone wild, Life Without Toast – Sibling Rivalry, little.red.boat, mattobee.com, McFilter, meish dot org, Mental Kipple, minor9th.com, My Boyfriend Is A Twat, naked blog, neil writes the blog, NON-WORKINGMONKEY, Not a blog, Pandemian, Peregrinations, Pete Ashton’s Weblog, petite anglaise, Pewari’s Prattle, plasticbag.org, Private Secret Diary, problemchildbride.com Blog, Quixotic Evil, Random Acts Of Reality, Random Burblings, Razor-blade of Life, Real E Fun, reasons to be cheerful…, Redemption Blues, Rise v4, S A S H I N K A, s e v i t z d o t c o m | all feeds feed., Sad, Sweet Songs & Crazy Rhythms, Scam City version 9.0, slothblog, Smaller Than Life, Some Guy On A Journey, Sometimes Funny is All I Have, Sore Eyes, Speaking as a parent, status anxiety, SwissToni’s Place, Symbolic Forest, Tabula Rasa, the blog, The Misssy M Misssives, The Scottish Lemon, the Ulterior, TheCatGirlSpeaks, This Is The Goo I’ve Got, This Is This, timboblog, Tired Dad, Tired of Men, troubled diva, washing-up, What makes you happy ?, what’s new, pussycat?, Woke Up This Morning, www.croila.net,

Just wanted to let you know that I may not have commented in a while but I’m still reading.

Your avid reader,


(no, this post didn’t take long to pull together at all, read on if you want the how to…)
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Because it's all that's in my head

Don’t hate me.


I don’t do this kind of thing on purpose. Honest I don’t.

But it does seem to follow a pattern, doesn’t it.

Ohh wait, you don’t know what I’m talking about yet, do you.

Let’s start over.

Don’t hate me.


But I’m really REALLY busy and just want to jot down everything in my head so that I don’t forget. I COULD do that on a piece of paper of course but then that wouldn’t get posted and as I’m feeling that weird bloggers remorse thing of not posting regularly then.. well… ohh look. It’s my bloody blog. If you don’t want to read on, then don’t. Presuming anyone has gotten this far (I’m beginning to bore myself actually).

I’m still loving my job. It no longer feels like a new job so I’ve dropped that adjective, but it’s still good. Getting a little hectic though but nothing more than usual chaos that surrounds every product release I’ve ever been involved with, at every company I’ve ever worked at. Thankfully we don’t have project managers here, hovering over our desks with Gantt charts and cost-analysis sheets. It’s quite refreshing to be left with only your professional pride to keep you in check, it’s quite a powerful motivator as it turns out.

As well as product release stuff, I’m also looking ahead to early next year, planning what the team will be focussing on next time and that particular piece of thinking is growing wings everytime another thread is introduced.

Hang on, I just broke my own analogy. Put it this way, in a nutshell full of winged threads:

If we (the team) undertake long term project A, it will make short term project B easier for us, but likely kick off other short term projects (for other people) in which we’ll need to be involved as they’ll directly impact on B, with the knock-on effect of slowing down A. Considering A is all about being faster and more efficient.. well that’s not a good thing.

I realise that makes no sense to anyone but it’s the first time I’ve written it down and *ping* I think I understand it a little better now. It does make senses if you know what A, B and ‘other’ mean. Promise.

Elsewhere I’ve been slacking off. Almost a full month of not doing anything purely because no-one was chasing me. I feel a little guilty as I promised two freebies, so I’ll try and blast them out ASAP. Then I need to properly consider a new design template, and there is the not inconsiderable event that will see me stand in a room of my peers, and present my thoughts and experiences of using a Wiki in the workplace. Must make time to go over the presentation a couple more times I think..

I’m also still ripping CDs, they last batch (100 or so) are piled on my desk to try and force me to deal with them, but if I just shove them over to the wall a little then.. yeah, there is PLENTY of room to work, I’ll get to them later…

Photos will be next of course, and for that I really want to clear the space so I can get the scanner up on the desk, rather than tucked away on top of a set of drawers. But to do that, I’ll need to clear the desk… of CDs. Dammit.

Lastly there is a rather large occasion looming on the horizon. I’m doing my best to ignore it but, to be honest, we’ll need to make a start. Only a few weeks I’ll be lugging boxes of decorations and nonsense down from the loft and then there will be no escaping the fact, Christmas will have arrived.

I’m not moaning about any of this, far from it, it saves me from sitting watching crap TV (like that Strictly Come Saturday Factor thing that seems to be on every channel at the same time) and means that I’m saved of any DIY projects until at least February.

“Sorry darling but I’m just soooo very busy, and I promised I’d get it done, you wouldn’t want me to let people down, would you?”

Every cloud and all that.

And more begat more

Join up! They say. It’s fun, it’s cool, you can add friends, link to hundreds of people you don’t really know. And on and on. Whether it’s from the service itself, or from people using the service, the friendly, fun, “2.0” emails continue to flood my inbox.

Ignoring most I eventually pick one to try, and then it’s private messages, friend requests and a myriad of other nudges, pokes, tweaks and annoyances that . This is not the age of social interaction, nor the time of ‘community on the web’, this is the sneaky school bully, tripping you up as you walk past, leaving notes stuck to your back. Of course he never gets caught, he’s far to sly for that, but he’s always there needling away.

And so it is with some of the current crop of social or “Web 2.0” services. They are deplorably sneaky, sucking you in, enticing you with the promise of… well, what exactly? Are they preying on our insecurities, and offering pseudo-popularity that is based on the quantity of people you have in your list of “friends”. Or are we to believe that use of such everyday terms is pure chance? In saying that, it’s probably pure laziness that led to that decision, after all, what IS the collective term for “a group of people I know online” Webuddies, perhaps?

Presuming you fall for their charms (don’t feel bad, I did too), you’ll soon be peppered with even MORE spam (bacn?) from all those other poor saps that are desperate to be popular, desperate to be cool and hip and ahead of the curve (don’t feel bad, I do too). Of course there is no chance of any web service making you cool, no, not even blogging. I can say this safe in the knowledge that, despite several rather desperate attempts at such, I have resolutely failed to be cool at any point in my existence and have since given up any aspirations in that direction (don’t feel bad, I really don’t give a stuff, honest).

And here’s the thing. Once you have signed up to one of these ‘social services’, the more people you add, the more stuff you have to cope with, the more stuff you have to accept, delete and ignore. And on and on it goes, like some weird but friendly marshmallow that slowly engulfs you, lulling you with soft, sweet, deliciousness until you realise, a moment too late, that you are about to suffocate.

Of course such websites.. sorry “services”, love it. The more users they can attract, the higher their profit, the more users, the more interactions, the more invites, the more users, the higher the profits. And on and on. Some people have said this is the viral nature of the web, to which I ponder, what’s the cure? Where is the antidote? At what point does it stop?

When I opt out of course.

I ditched Facebook a few weeks ago, I don’t pownce on anything, and have no desire to be in bebo. My space is mine alone, and I’ll stumble upon where I like.

I will continue to use LinkedIn for the purpose of having a professional directory (links), and Twitter remains an amusing diversion into which I dip when a micro-distraction is required, but I know that that too, over time, will fade.

For me, sites like LinkedIn serve a purpose. The deluge of other sites seem to be useful but ultimately, are they? What do they do for you? And by that I mean what service do they REALLY provide, what value do they hold in your online life?

Don’t feel bad if you’ve sent me an invite that has been ignored, if you’ve tried to interact with me on any of the sites mentioned above, and more. This isn’t a dig at anyone just a reaction on my part, or more a realisation that, from here on, I’ll go looking for solutions to my problems, rather than reacting to the buzz.

Sticky smartness

It’s always the little things that you’ve never seen before that make you sit up and think “hey, that’s smart”. In my case a simple photo, used to provide context, was enough to trigger this, and it’s so simple an idea that I’m surprised that something similar isn’t in wider use. Read on, MacDuff, to find out what the chuff I’m blithering on about this time…

As alluded to a few days ago, I’m currently hunting for THE laptop bag, one that will set me apart from the standard “black briefcase style” masses and move me into the same arena as all those elite, übercool kids, you know, the ones who are probably toting MacBooks. I spent a couple of hours browsing various stores in an effort to find something that suited but soon stumbled across a consistent problem.

Having thought more about what I really need from a bag, I now know that I want something that will hold a laptop, accessories, my usual accumulation of guff and occasionally my camera, all whilst remaining small and reasonably compact. Add in my mantra – Nothing is any good if other people like it – and it gets tricky. My mantra allows me first refusal on many items without any real grounds for rejection, other than pursing my lips and scrunching up my forehead in concentration, then muttering “yeah… but… nah.. I just don’t like it… because… well it’s hard to put my finger on… it’s just NOT RIGHT”.

You can see why my wife HATES shopping with me, and why I do most of my research online.

In saying that, I suspect that she thinks I ‘over-research’ such things as, when a mutual friend of ours recently asked for my advice as to which digital camera she should buy, her opening line was: “you know how you research everything to death… well..”. Alas there was no witty comeback from me. It is true.

When searching for personal accessories, or clothes for that matter, I have three basic criteria. Two of which will negate the other, but the third can never ever be fudged.

  • Price – I work to a budget. That budget depends on various factors, including the type of item I’m looking to purchase, and can sometimes be negated by…
  • Design – I’m very fussy in most things, particularly when it comes to design. If I REALLY like something, I’ll break my budget and buy because I like the design. However, above a certain threshold, design is negated by price.
  • Practicality – This isn’t the be all and end all but depending on the item has relative importance. For example, if I’m buying a shirt, it has to be long-sleeved. Price and design don’t matter in that respect. Similarly if I’m buying a car, if it doesn’t have the features I want, price and design don’t have a look in (honest!).

Nothing earth-shattering there then, I’m sure most of you conduct your shopping in a similar manner. Of course, buying things online adds a level of complexity, particularly when choosing the design – will it really look like it does in the photos? – and the judging the practicality – it says it has four tabs, but are they all the same size? – and as every online store does things differently, well that’s when it gets really interesting… or confusing… or both.
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Do I REALLY sound like that?

In an effort to compile a list of what I consider to be the best posts of this blog, and yes such things are highly subjective I know, I spent some time perusing my archives last night.

It’s an odd experience, as I found myself re-living a lot of my past via this strange yet familiar narrator. For, you see, I don’t actually talk like wot I write, y’ken? Hmm I don’t talk like that either mind you… although I do say “och aye” more than I realised, much to the amusement of a colleage of mine from New Zealand.

Of course this isn’t such a surprise as no-one really talks the way they write, nor sings the way they speak, but I did catch myself wondering if I really did write what I was reading. Which is both odd and comfortably flattering at the same time.

I guess this comes down to that old “people don’t see you the way YOU see you” thing, where, as the name suggests, other people don’t see you the way you see yourself, and their opinion of you isn’t swayed by your own internal insecurities, unlike your own.

There are far too many commas in that last sentence, this is another thing I’ve noticed and which litters my archives like dog turds on a cycling path, consistently terrible punctuation. What of the semi-colon? Honestly, as someone who writes for a living I am shamed. Of course there isn’t much call for personal writing in the midst of a technical manual so maybe I have a small get-out clause?

Yes, browsing your own archives is both enlightening and informing in many ways. I recently commented, on another site, about why I leave my entire archives in place rather than removing the nonsense, or starting over completely. The simple reason is that they remind me of how this blog started and how much it has improved. Looking back to the first year or two of this blog I’m still surprised that anyone visited at all, let alone returned more than once. Zip forward to 2007 and the stats continually surprise me. Hundreds of you visit every day, and then come back again, and again. I may not get the most visitors and I may not get the most comments, but I have to admit to a quiet satisfaction that, for the main part, my visitors and their comments are of a consistently high standard. Thanks you guys.

Stepping back to take a new view of something is always intriguing, regardless of the subject matter. Everyone has a different viewpoint, a different point of approach, a new angle. Given the recent round of news in the blogosphere regarding “codes of conduct”, self regulation and so on, this is something worth considering. I’m happy to be disagreed with, I’m happy to be proven wrong, I’m happy for people to voice their dissent in the strongest terms but my comment policy stands. I enjoy reading comments from people with a different point of view, no matter how opposed. I’m always willing to learn from others, so if I say Black is White, please feel free to disagree with me (and yes, I know Black and White aren’t colours).

I’m not going to tackle that topic though, others have been before me and most of the ground has been covered. I will point you to the new Blog Advisory System though, it seems to be very accurate.

Whoa, bit off-track (there is another post in this, about how the fact my miniblog refuses to work is effecting how and what I write here in the main posts) now, were was I?

It has, and continues to be, an education to read through my own archives. I don’t have that great a memory, with a lot of the stuff I post here largely being posted as a method of NOT having to remember it, so it’s an excellent way to re-acquaint myself with my own content. I am intrigued to know how everyone else keeps track of such things, are you all as disorganised as I am? Or do you remember what you wrote?

Do you read through your own archives from time to time, or just search them when you have a vague memory of possibly, maybe, posting about a particular topic in the past?

How do YOU use your own archives?