bookmark_borderThoughts on TCUK10

Flying back on Thursday evening I pondered the sessions I’d attended, the things I’d learned and the lessons and ideas I was taking home with me and one thing was missing. A central theme.

Now, admittedly by accident, the 2009 conference appeared to be centred around “conversation”. Whether it was a direct with the users, our part in the wider conversation happening in the emerging space of social media, or in rethinking the traditional role in terms of how users were expecting to access information.

I’d love to say that content strategy was the major theme but it didn’t seem to be, although I did attend two excellent presentations on that topic (thank you Roger and David), and as ever at this conference there were many presentations aimed at ideas and theories than tool based demonstrations. Well, that’s the impression I got from the sessions I attended.

And that’s one reason I like this conference. If you want, you can immerse yourself in some “BIG TOPIC” thinking, or learn more about a particular application you already use. Add in the conversations with fellow professionals, and the chance to talk directly to most of the main vendors in our industry, and there really is no good reason why you WOULDN’T want to attend the conference.

I especially like the fact that this year the format was a little different (nice idea on the “on the hour” starting times!) and that it has retained it’s friendly and open feeling. It’s not a dreary, dull, formal industry event, it’s a vibrant, energetic, well organised and thought provoking few days.

There was even a magician!

It’s hard to say what my main take home lesson was, other than that our profession continues to straddle many disciplines and that if you want to get to the cutting edge in terms of both technology and thought, then there are many many ways you can do so.

It’s a great conference, and it was interesting to see a higher number of people commenting about it on Twitter this year.

I’m still writing up my notes from my presentation, but should have them ready soon. I will post them along with a copy of the slides for those that are interested. I’ll also cover off a question that was asked at the end that I didn’t answer very well at the time but which I have a more considered response to now.

See you all next year, right?

bookmark_borderI be done thunking

I’m not a big thinker. I’m a big planner and ponderer but largely, when it comes to thinking, I tend to avoid it at all costs.

As such, a lot of my decisions can seem quite rash to some people. I’ve certainly not spent much time pondering things like the purchasing of houses or cars, instead they tend to be quick decisions, and I’ll be honest and say that such a policy has bitten me in the arse.

It was a flat we bought in Aylesbury, it was big, slightly oddly laid out and need a fair amount of work to get it into shape. Oh well, live and learn.

As I lay on the sofa and drifted in and out of a rather nice doze, I found myself thinking about thinking and specifically whether I should do a little more of it. And then I realised I wasn’t some eccentric toff who could afford such luxury and so I decided to watch The Incredible Hulk, who is quite that, both incredible and a hulk.

It is a thought though, isn’t it.

I pity those people who think, the philosophers of our time, those who ponder BIG issues with no real answers. Or those who ponder the hidden depths of the current in vogue diety (hmmm, is there a reason that’s very close to being “diety”? is there a link between faith and fat?).

Now, some of you may argue that not enough people think so let me clarify one thing.

Just because I don’t think, doesn’t mean I’m stupid. Just that I know better than to think that thinking solves anything. Right?

bookmark_borderNo Kahuna

A few weeks ago I mentioned that we were looking for a new way track our tasks. After checking out a few different applications and web applications, I think we have a solution.

The problem we have is that, whilst the bulk of the work is scheduled against a project plan, there are a myriad of smaller tasks and documentation changes that we need to track. These come in through various channels, our Support team, our ‘Core’ team (who maintain the latest stream of the product), and through our team inbox.

Previously we mirrored the development teams approach and used index cards and a BIG whiteboard but it wasn’t really working for us for a variety of reasons. So I spent a couple of days downloading task tracking applications, and hunting for a web-based application that might meet our needs.

There are many out there and the first thing I realised is that most of the are aimed at the project management set and are very date driven. Most of the tasks we wanted to track aren’t heavily date driven, and so are picked up as and when the team has a some spare time in the project plan.

One of the first applications I found was TeamWorkPM which seemed to fit our needs and then some. However it was still quite over-spec’d for what we had in mind so when I stumbled over No Kahuna it was soon apparent that I’d found a good match.

Importantly, No Kahuna is a task tracking application. Dates do not feature. You simply create a project, add project members, then start creating tasks. You can assign a task to a specific project member (or take it for yourself) and when it’s done, it’s marked as completed.

You can add comments to tasks, which is useful when some tasks may sit in the list for a while so you can build out a level of information for when they are finally actioned.

All very simple, it worked well enough in our short trial that I’m happy to shell out $7 a month to get a private project (not visible to the public). If you are looking for an online, lightweight task tracker, check out No Kahuna.


I am fated. It seems that I’m not allowed to read the Harry Potter books without having the endings, the “BIG SECRETS”, revealed to me before I’ve read the books.

The previous book was spoiled by a friend who didn’t realise I hadn’t read it yet, she was mortified (bless) and I’m not allowed to mention it as she genuinely feels really bad about it. We both read a lot of similar books and she knows how she’d feel if it had been spoiled for her I guess.

The current book was accidentally spoiled by a work colleague (who will remain nameless) who posted a link to a website which had, as it’s first entry, details of who dies and who kills the person that dies. Granted it might not be true but I had to laugh. I’m just not allowed to read these books in peace!

I’m not that bothered really, I enjoy the Harry Potter books, even if the hype surrounding them is a little OTT, but I’m not a fanatic. However if anyone spoils the next Rebus book I’ll be round their door sharpish with a large bat, aiming it squarely at their kneecaps.

bookmark_borderToo much

I’ve had enough. So has Louise.

We generally reach this point at the same time, which is quite handy, although if I’m honest I possibly reach it before she does, I just ignore it for longer (or maybe she does that too).

Tonight the house is GETTING IT BIG TIME.

I should probably explain what I mean, right? Well we live in a three-bedroomed semi-detached house. The smallest bedroom is the ‘office’ as it has the computer in it. The largest bedroom is ours, and the spare bedroom … well that belongs to Louise I guess. We have a single bed and a couple of wardrobes in there, and it’s mainly used as a large walk in closet by Louise. It’s also where the clean clothes go before they get put away. Well, when I say “before they get put away” I really mean, “where they stay until they get worn”. It’s a bad habit we’ve both gotten into, and currently you can’t see the bed for the clean clothes strewn over it.

It came to a head this morning when it took me 10 MINUTES to find something to wear. 10 MINUTES of cursing, swearing and much pulling and messing of the piles of clothes. Including several brief pauses where I thought I’d found what I was looking for only to realise, having pulled the item from the pile, that it was in fact NOT my dark blue shirt but a bra.

That, coupled with the growing daily accumulation of bits and bobs and this and that, has turned our house into somewhat of a midden. So tonight we have vowed to tackle the house head on and tidy it within an inch of its very being. It may even get hoovered and dusted as well.

And then on Saturday the Christmas tree goes up and we’ll mess it up all over again.

bookmark_borderBugger it

Plagarism is a form of flattery (even if I can’t be bothered creating three columns).

Big Brother is getting a bit exciting. What? YES I watch it, get over it.

I must admit that this series, whilst being considerably more watchable than last year’s snooze-fest, is beginning to border on .. well I’m not sure what you call it but it’s making me distinctly uncomfortable. “Provocative TV” can only go so far and I think the recent fighting has over stepped the mark.

Or has it? I remember the media pitch for the first Big Brother having something to do with psychological (sociological) experimentation and manipulation. Has this season’s series finally taken these experiments to their conclusion?

After all, if I want to watch grown men threaten others and, generally, act like children, I can just turn on the news and watch some football fans do just that.

England won. France drew. I’m supporting France, but to be honest none of the ‘big’ teams have performed particularly well yet. Sweden have been the most positive team, even if the scoreline of 5-0 against Bulgaria wasn’t a true reflection on the game.

And aren’t the referees supposed to be clamping down on diving and shirt-pulling. The referee in last’s night France game awarded several freekicks for shirt-pulling and NO yellow cards, not to mention ignoring the fact that Thierry Henry was completely taken out twice, with the Croatian players making no attempt at getting the ball.. ridiculous. The air in our living room matched the colour of the French shirts!

Louise is out shopping on Saturday (there is a mother-in-law without an outfit for a wedding!), and most of Sunday at Live and Loud with nieces in tow (she’s not fooling me of course, they are just an excuse). That leaves me with most of the weekend free.. to… er… well if I’ve not shifted this cold I’ll end up comatose on the sofa.

Of course there is Father’s Day on Sunday (sorry Dad, no Ferrari this year), so if I have the car I might head through there after dropping off Louise… hmmm plans to be made I think.

And finally, Championship Manager. 2.30 am this morning. Bloody addictive.