Month: <span>December 2008</span>

In early November I took a photo of myself holding a short message for the ‘soon to be President’ Barack Obama. It was as part of a Flickr group which I thought was a nice idea and which seemed to capture the mood at the time. I mentioned it here and, to be honest, thought nothing of it until I received an email from Meg who was heading up the project to compile some of the photos into a book (modesty prevents me from suggesting the chose the best photos), who asked if I’d mind if they (The Guardian) included my photo in their book.

Of course not!

I received my copy of said book yesterday and, whilst I realise it is close to Xmas, it would make an excellent stocking filler/coffee table book and you get double karma points as all the Guardian’s profits from the sale of the book will go to the Katine development project.

And don’t worry, it’s not JUST my ugly mug that adorns the pages.

Photos

I’m boring myself with this blog now. Not the act of writing posts for it but the act of writing posts ABOUT it. So I’ll stop. Thanks for the thoughts and comments though. You really DID help. Yes. You.

I’ve been trawling through some draft post ideas, scribbles and ill conceived stories and figured that, as a means to an end, I’d be as well posting them here. No, I’m not sure what end this would be the means of but let’s not dwell on that.

I have quite a few rambling beginnings of stories, borne from my love of words and cadence, which will never amount to anything more than a few paragraphs. The following is one such example. Your thoughts, comments, hysterical laughter and mirth, are all welcomed.

The average man
He wanders through the streets, past the gentle glow of the houses, under dark and slanting drizzle. He has no purpose, no destination, and can barely remember where he started but this is all he knows, this is his life, his motion. He hunches forwards as another car drives past, plucking the droplets clustering on the edge of his hood and shining them like jewels.

His motion is fluid and organic as he ambles over the pavements, lightly stepping on cobbles and kerbs. He has been here before, he knows, been round this place more than once. He knows it well, too well perhaps, but like an old friend he enjoys the comfort it brings, the familiarity that makes it all too easy to slip into this place one more time.

A break in the clouds above and spears of light arrow down and smash into puddles. He pauses, splashed by scattered light, bathing in the warm glow of the rain, capturing every detail that he can. Processing them quickly in a vain hope of capture, knowing that few will remain with him but one or two will penetrate deeply enough to stick. Moments of beauty to add to the collection, fractured and precious he holds them dear. The very phrase echoes of her.

Almost as soon as they part the clouds start again to weave together, a blanket of gloom restored, drenching all beneath it.

Off he goes once more, without direction. Something that is neither required nor sought, instead he trusts he will find his own way. He has been lost before and found his way back.

The streets are quieter now and he fills his head with sound, pulling memories of pain and pleasure (never pleasure and pain) to keep him on track. Other times his head remains empty with nothing but the dull echo of his thoughts to keep him company.

He wanders through the streets, past the gentle glow of the houses, under dark and slanting drizzle. He has no purpose, no destination, and can barely remember where he started but this is all he knows, this is his life, his motion. He hunches forwards as another car drives past, plucking the droplets clustering on the edge of his hood and shining them like jewels.

His motion is fluid and organic as he ambles over the pavements, lightly stepping on cobbles and kerbs. He has been here before, he knows, been round this place more than once. He knows it well, too well perhaps, but like an old friend he enjoys the comfort it brings, the familiarity that makes it all too easy to slip into this place one more time.

A break in the clouds above and spears of light arrow down and smash into puddles. He pauses, splashed by scattered light, bathing in the warm glow of the rain, capturing every detail that he can. Processing them quickly in a vain hope of capture, knowing that few will remain with him but one or two will penetrate deeply enough to stick. Moments of beauty to add to the collection, fractured and precious he holds them dear. The very phrase echoes of her.

Almost as soon as they part the clouds start again to weave together, a blanket of gloom restored, drenching all beneath it.

Off he goes once more, without direction. Something that is neither required nor sought, instead he trusts he will find his own way. He has been lost before and found his way back.

The streets are quieter now and he fills his head with sound, pulling memories of pain and pleasure (never pleasure and pain) to keep him on track. Other times his head remains empty with nothing but the dull echo of his thoughts to keep him company.

Comments closed

OK, perhaps if I head back to some previous “unblocking” techniques I might be able to kick start my blogging mojo.

Remember when Referrer Searches were all the rage? Back when we all suddenly discovered that our blogs were being indexed by something called “Google” (weird name…) and that meant we could see how people came to find our blogs? Those were the days, eh!!

So, aprop… ohh I’ve done that…

So, without further ado here are the top 12 search referrals (slightly filtered):

  1. gordon mclean
  2. itunes stuttering
  3. my mother is an idiot
  4. how to make a cup of tea
  5. how to kung fu withdraw testicles
  6. jamie bulger email
  7. 37signals apps
  8. monitor rss start torrent
  9. recipes for chicken with red pesto
  10. one mans blog.com
  11. voyeuer nature
  12. mrmen

To be fair, there are multiple variations on “red pesto chicken“, as well as “iTunes stutter“, and “how to make tea” but they fail to knock a good old ego search off the top of the list. And no, it’s not me googling myself… honest.

I should also apologise, again, to my mother for calling her an idiot, and I should point out that I no longer use ANY of the 37signals apps that I seemed to be so bothered about last year.

And, finally, I have NO idea how to “kung fu withdraw testicles” but it sure sounds like something that would come in handy… at some point… if my testicles were under threat I mean…

I think I’ll stop there.

Now, what should I do for my next post?

Blogging

(OK, mainly aiming at West of Scotland)

Following a recent discussion about ISTC local area groups, a few of us based in the West of Scotland have decided to try to set up a local group.

Our first meeting will be on Thursday 15th January 2009. If you work in the area (or further away), please come along to meet other writers and talk about technical writing.

We’ll meet at 7 p.m. in the offices of Sumerian in Glasgow city centre, at 19 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4BG. Tea & coffee provided.

If you plan to come along, please email me so we can get a rough idea of how many writers might be attending:

gordon [DOT] mclean AT gmail [DOT ] com

(if you can figure out the email address you are allowed to attend 😉 )

Now, what on earth will we talk about??

Work

Comments closed

I am not out shopping today. Mainly because I do most of my shopping online. That and the fact that we have a night out tonight and Louise is already off out to get her hair done so I’m stuck in the house unless I fancy walking…

This moment I’m sitting on the sofa, the TV is tuned to… some food channel it seems… and there is a fresh pot of coffee gurgling away in the kitchen. I’m wondering what to have for lunch, but might wait until later as I slept in so still not that hungry.

I’ve checked my email, updated Twitter, purchased a new app for my iPhone (Speed Dial, going cheap today, looks great) and a soaking wet cat has just come in so I’d better finish this and go dry him with a big fluffy towel.

I say all of this as it seems I’m projecting a version of me here that isn’t really me. I’m not a nasty person who shouts at women pushing their babies in prams. I did it once, felt bad for it and recounted the tale here with a view to pitch it as something that wasn’t very nice but was possibly a little funny in a dark kinda way that maybe others would relate to.

I’ve said this before, so let me repeat. I am not this blog. I am not the person you’ve met in the pub once or twice. But I’ve said this before, quite recently.

Perhaps I’ll stop blogging about me. Perhaps, as I’ve changed, I need to change what I write here. Perhaps the coming year will be different. This blog has changed over the past year, and will, of course, continue to change in the future. However, this is the first time that I’ve been aware of the change myself. It doesn’t feel natural, it feels forced, and that means that it’s no longer just a fun hobby, it’s now, whilst not a chore, certainly something that I have to think twice about.

I’m not entirely sure, but this has been building for a while so, I guess, consider yourself forewarned. This blog is changing…. somehow… for some reason… roll on 2009?

Blogging

My role in our company isn’t strictly defined so, outside of my work with the Publications team that I head up, I also get involved with other areas of the company either because I can help, or because there is a vested interest. That brought about the creation of our development community website and more recently has seen me involved in a company wide information project.

The main aims are to provide a consistent set of information to our customers, throughout their relationship with us. So from initial contact right the way through to rollout and future upgrades, we will have a coherent set of information that is updated accordingly and a clear idea of how it will all be communicated to the customer.

This is one of those ideas I’ve long had so it’s exciting to get something like this in place, agreed and set in motion. We are lucky in that we are still a small enough group that we tackle something like this without a huge amount of overhead, although obviously the main reason we are doing this is to help us be more successful.

The model itself is simple, with 4 layers of information:

  1. Marketing Information
  2. Business Sales Information
  3. Technical Sales Information
  4. Reference Information

In the real world the layers are not distinct, but by and large the model should help people understand what they should be writing, and what they can re-use across a variety of documents.

Naturally all of this will impact on the technical documentation, with many of the Business Sales level content helping us answer the question ‘Why would I want to use XYZ?’. It’s likely we will share a lot of information with the Technical Sales layer (architectural overviews and the like) but the bulk of work will remain the creation of reference information about our product and its capabilities.

We are still tweaking things, and will continue to do so into the New Year, but the very fact that we’ve started to adopt this approach is half the battle.

The war, of course, continues!

Work

No, not online.

In real life.

With all the mentals.

The fear is already starting to build, deep in the pit of my stomach, a dull nervousness that refuses to leave. Soon I will be out there, blinded by the glare, dazzled by the tinsel and fairy lights and surrounded by a throng of buffoons.

I’m not sure if that is the correct collective term, and frankly I’m still not sure why there are so many of the buggers wandering about the shopping centre. Shouldn’t they be… I dunno… in Africa? Gibraltar?

I have developed tactics to deal with such occasions (they are rare), one of which is to constantly remind myself that you only need an IQ of 23 to be able to breathe and walk. Not that I think everyone is an idiot, far from it, there will be many people who are far worse.

However there will always be a smattering of the usual culprits around. You know them I’m sure, the random changers of direction, those who block the stairs to chat to their mates, and the worst of all the sudden stoppers. Such are the selfish, thoughtless morons.

I usually cope by taking many deep breaths and being efficient, getting in and out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, one time, I cracked.

It was several years ago and we were in Milton Keynes shopping centre. If you don’t know it, it’s a large shopping centre that is, essentially, a couple of big long ‘streets’. Not sure of the size but you can probably see for about half a mile in either direction.

It’s very busy and as we leave a shop we turn left and start walking to the next planned shop. About 100 metres away is a woman. She is walking towards us pushing a buggy. Whilst she is walking she is bent over, talking to the baby in the chair. Obviously she must own this part of the shopping centre and it is I who is trespassing… right?

Regardless we both continue to walk towards each other, a collision on the cards, closer with every step. I’m slowly counting to 10, waiting for her to lift her head and see me.

About 4 metres short I finally crack, stop dead in my tracks and say, firmly, politely and loudly,

“EXCUSE ME!!”

The woman jerks to a halt, stands bolt upright and stares at me, her mouth flaps open, then shuts again. I can see she wants to say something but, wisely, she doesn’t.

I glare back and stride off past her, muttering and seething.

Gosh, I’m really looking forward to going shopping.

Life