bookmark_borderThe 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.

bookmark_borderTo Wiki or not to Wiki

The other day one of our genius developers (I think his official ranking is Jedi Knight) asked me why we don’t provide the product documentation on a Wiki. I answered him stating that it was because I wasn’t allowed. That’s not strictly true.

My answer should have been that, quite simply, I’ve failed to provide a good enough reason to my boss (and my bosses boss) as to why that may be a good thing.

And the reason I’ve failed to do that?

Because I’m still not 100% convinced that it is a good solution for our product.

What is more likely is that, if we do decide to embrace Wikis (we haven’t managed blogs yet, but that’s another issue) we take a split approach and offer a knowledge base style information centre (something like the Author-it Knowledge Center) and host a Wiki as a way of capturing and sharing what I refer to as ‘grey information’.

It’s this latter set of information which, whilst it has always existed, has never really had a place to live until the internet came along. These days all it takes is a quick internet search and you’ll find masses of information, all generated by the users. Some of it is useful, hints and tips, ways to workaround product limitations, and clever uses that were never thought of by the manufacturer.

To me, that user created content is where Wikis hold their true power and finding the balance between that content, and the content provided by my team is still something I’ve to get my head around. Ultimately the argument (business case) for investing in the creation, maintenance and policing of a Wiki needs to be focussed on how much value we will gain (ROI).

On that basis it shouldn’t be a hard business case to put together, the tricky bit is making it such a compelling argument that it moves to (close to) the top of the list, and that will require a lot more discussion around why embracing Wikis, and blogs, will stand us in better stead in the future.


There is a sense of mild, but controlled, panic in the air.

I’ve only just realised that, a week today, we’ll be flying to Spain for a week in the sun. Don’t quite know how this has taken me by surprise but there you have it. All of a sudden I’m in the “pre-holiday zone” where every choice of t-shirt needs to be carefully considered, and the locating of cables, chargers and other sundry essentials starts in earnest.

That said, we are taking hand luggage only, and all I’ll need are:

  • 7 Books – already stacked and ready to go.
  • 5 t-shirts – I have so many t-shirts that I’ll just take whatever I pick up on Monday morning
  • 4 pairs of shorts – 2 longer ones for the evenings, 2 shorter ones for the sunbathing
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 5 pairs of boxer shorts
  • 1 iPhone + cable
  • Speakers for iPhone
  • 1 Camera + battery charger
  • Mains USB socket
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat
  • Passport + Money
  • Toothbrush

Thankfully I’m pretty well organised to I can leave all of my packing until Monday morning. So the only real panic is deciding what music and movies to put on my iPhone. I mean, I’ve only got a week!!

bookmark_borderSwitching off

Nothing of substance. Truth be told I’m killing time whilst I wait for some software to install. Aren’t you lucky, dear reader, that I’m so thoughtful.

I’m installing software because I’m working today, which from the looks of the weather doesn’t seem like a bad option now, typically holiday weekend weather outside. In other words, it’s chucking it down. Mind you, I’ll be in again on Monday as well so, frankly, the weather is the least of my concerns.

The office is quiet, so I’ve got my new XMI X-Mini Max speakers hooked up to my laptop to test them and have to admit that, for such a teeny tiny speaker system, the sounds is pretty acceptable. Perfect for taking on holiday.

Speaking of which, I’m starting to realise that I’ve only got a week left to pack… ohh wait, what am I thinking, it’ll take me all of 20 mins, 10 of which will be deciding which t-shirts to take.

What will take more time will be making sure I’ve got the right movies and music ready on my iPhone (and a new iPod Touch that some will be getting as an early birthday present… ssshhhhh). Never an easy task that one, although I do tend towards Soul, RnB and Pop and away from my usual fare. That said I can’t NOT have the new Prodigy album on there… but I’m open to suggestions.

What’s your favourite sunshine album?

I’ll start that task tomorrow, as well as nipping to the gym for a while (yeah, I do that now!) although that depends wholly on the state of my hangover as we are visiting my tequila monster friend this evening. I swear the woman is determined to destroy my liver.

So that’ll be the sum total of my day tomorrow, a day off which will be spent sorting out the various gadgets that accompany us to Spain, watching the Grand Prix, some footie and generally not doing a whole lot. I can’t bloody wait.

bookmark_borderChapter 3

Hands sore from the cold, she carefully places the carry-basket on the counter and murmurs quietly, soothing her old friend inside. A paw reaches out through the bars, and she reassures with soft strokes of the dark fur. She feels suddenly sad and old, but knows that it was always going to come to this moment. Life always does.

The soft face of the young girl behind the counter tries to reassure her, but she is beyond that, has been beyond that for a long time. She knows death, understands it better than most and knows too that she must go. She says one final goodbye, turns away and walks to the door, her eyes brimming with silent tears. She pauses there, catches herself and corrals her emotions with a long deep and purposeful breath.

She remembers her past, remembers how she once was and feels the swagger of times gone by return as she steps out into white flurries of cold, the surge of adrenalin pumping through her body, completely alive, completely now. Determined to be strong, knowing she has been stronger, she hopes her courage will return once more and bring with it the headstrong and foolish girl she was once. She pauses once more and leans on her cane as passersby swerve to avoid her, invisible as she is, an old woman in her long grey winter coat.

She stands there on the pavement for the longest time and slowly realises that she unsure of what to do next, the building realisation that what she was has long since passed and all that there is now are some more steps along this path. She turns slightly, looking this way and that and before long the cold wind pushes her to a decision. She decides to walk a block or two and see what comes of that.

She takes her time, feet less certain than they were despite the help of her cane, hindered by the cold and patches of ice hidden under snow. Concentrating hard she slowly makes her way across the road, happy to be outside for now, happy to have something else to concentrate on, something else to fill her mind.

She passes steep stairs leading to old apartment buildings, shop fronts loudly declaring the latest offers and garish new products, an old laundrette purrs gently as she passes and the homily smells of apple pie and fresh baked bread creep across the street, catching her as she inhales. She stops and turns, and in looking across the street her mind shifts suddenly, history and reality flood her senses.

The familiarity is overwhelming, she has been here once before. She lifts her head and gazes around as passersby hurry past, huddled against the wind, shrouded in speckles of snow. An old woman is all they see, possibly lost, possibly senile, standing in their way.

Her eyes cast over the buildings, the shopkeepers and bank tellers glimpsed through windows, the patrons of the cafe across the road with their steaming mugs of coffee, wholesome slices of fresh apple pie, the regulars repeating their repartee, the waitresses laughing and flirting on cue, all wide hips and generous smiles.

She hears a sound further ahead and through the biting wind spots a recess, no, a doorway dark in the murky daylight. The stark lines of the door frame picked out by the blaze of neon in the street, the deep recess broken only by a glimpse of a face. Startled, her cane falls from her grasp, clattering and cracking on frozen stone. Around her heads turn to the sharp noise, and the face in the doorway doesn’t move.

“Ma’am? Ma’am, are you ok?” says a distant voice, fading as the world tilts once more, murky daylight replaced by blooming black.

Moments later she blinks her eyes open. Lying on the pavement, the cold seeping through her bones she stares through the legs of her samaritans, she watches as the face emerges from the doorway and starts across the street. Every muscle in her wants to scream out, every instinct is fight, every moment crawls as the face is slowly revealed, burned blue and orange by streetlight and shop sign. She knows she must do something but all she can manage is her last breathe.

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