Category Archives: Miscellany

Cataloguing my life

As a child, my sister and I would pester our parents for stories of when they were young. My parents narratives about their childhood evoked a sense of wonder that I hope never to lose, and when I think back to those anecdotes I have this wonderful sepia picture of what things must have been like.

My parents have recently been writing to us with recollections of their youth, partly to help us understand them better and partly because my father at least seems to enjoy the exercise and mental discipline of cataloguing these things. It’s wonderful for us to get a sense of our parents beyond our every day experience of them.

And so I wonder whether I should put down my childhood memories for Emily. As lives go, mine is one of tremendous consequence to me and my loved ones, but little to the world at large, but can’t help but feel that attempting to capture some kind of narrative beyond this brain-hopping bloggery would be a useful thing to do.

Has anyone else had a go at a private autobiography / journal for future generations?

Steve iPlumb

Met the most extraordinary plumber the other day, thanks to a recommendation from our NCT friends (and Checkatrade, in turn). Steve not only managed to fix our hot water issue quickly and easily with a bit of Macgyvery, he was amazingly articulate about what the issue was in easily comprehensible English… and when he brought out his iPad to take our details for his home-made CRM and invoicing system I was predictably impressed. He described how the specific database package had billed itself as nearly ‘uncrackable’ and explained it was probably slow because a few of his mates were having a go at testing the claim (!!). He’s also possibly the only plumber in the world to use the phrase “I’m a Mac and Linux man, I hate Windows.”

It’s a whole new world we live in where your plumber has a set of friends who are some kind of cyber-fiends, but that – evidently – is what living in suburban Hampshire is all about.

Anyway, would massively recommend him, and thanks to Shashank, Andrea, Pete and Louise for the recommendation.

How to be a prolific blogger

People have asked me how I’m being so prolific on the blog. Well, other than the fact I have 2 hours on a train most days and have the time to tap out thoughts, here’s what I’m doing – three broadly practical and three psychological things:

  1. Making quick notes on Evernote every time a post idea occurs – on a PC, Mac or iPhone
  2. Capturing and clipping links in both Evernote and Google Reader
  3. Blogging in plain text in Evernote (on a Mac), then publishing using Windows Live Writer, pulling shareable images from Flickr or elsewhere to illustrate the stories and adding additional links


  1. Being more curious in conversations with colleagues, friends and strangers
  2. Picking and choosing which posts I want to build out and research in full as I go
  3. Forcing myself to write as often as I can so I don’t build up any kind of weird blogging self-consciousness

The readership of the blog has gone up substantially since last December – averaging just over 200 visits a day – and I’m enjoying the occasional interaction in the comments as well as the increased store of knowledge I’m getting on all things. Tony Buzan was right – adults aren’t curious enough – but having a blog to write seems to fuel that thirst for knowledge, and maybe I’ll be able to keep up with my daughter…

Baby social media management services

Chris (and Tom and Damian) came to visit this weekend, and as is inevitable when {heavy irony} social media gurus {/heavy irony} come together, we brainstormed new business concepts.

Well, maybe not entirely new, but ‘Baby Social Media Management’ seemed a concept worth exploring, so we checked if was available (it wasn’t, already registered to some doting Bavarian dad, apparently) and considered other stratagems for maximising my 7-month-old daughter’s social graph. Knowem seems particularly well named for my daughter’s use…

As part of this discussion, Chris pointed me at this case study – which, needless to say, is dynamic, interactive, synergistic, integrated social media success.

Pink pony integrated marketing campaign ftw


I’m – believe it or not – beginning to get bored of the endless shuffle of stuff. The computer’s died, get a new one, the new iPhone weighs 15g less, get a new one, etc. It’s astonishing that some industries – I’m looking at you, Gillette – actually deliberately engineer products to fail sooner than the materials would require just to turn a dime. Depressing, really.

My pipe dream? Commercialism-as-a-Service. It’s a bit like the Abel & Cole veg box but for, y’know, everything else. I will voluntarily give information about my needs and shopping requirements to whoever wants it (Google? Facebook? Duke it out amongst yourselves), and you can just sort it all out for me, preferably on some kind of sensible lease/upgrade cycle. Cash for CaaS. Good for the environment, good for me. We can have some kind of sensible iterative process to refine what you give me and we’ll negotiate a sensible rate for outgoings.

Where do I sign?

Digital ancient

I had an email from Yahoo! the other day thanking me for being a user for the last 12 years.

I mostly use it as a spam-catch these days but find it astonishing that I signed up for it that long ago. In times before that – I had a Hotmail account (which I still use for IM) – that’ll be going back 17 years.

Holy heck, I seem to be old. Does this mean I’m no longer a Digital Native? Or that there’s some kind of ghastly Digital Native 2.0 out there?

As edgy and down with the kids as I try to be perhaps I should accept the crushing inevitability of it all, get a pipe and smoking jacket and start being irate at young people these days…

Airport snow and dodgy landings

An older thought, but one I wanted to capture. When visiting Finland – still covered in a blanket of white in mid April – we wondered why Heathrow seems to collapse at the slightest dusting of snow.

It seems it’s partly due to the lack of expertise, equipment and manpower to clear the snow – but given that aeroplanes are overengineered to cope with adverse weather conditions (as you’d hope), there had to be another reason – and after all, Heathrow could learn its lesson and buy a few more snowploughs for next time!

One reason, it seems, is conservatism on behalf of BAA – with every airline in the world flying into LHR, it hardly matters what standards Boeing manufactures their planes to, or the quality of BA’s training. It’s the maintenance staff at Air Qumran and the risk posed by its hungover pilot who’s never even seen a snowstorm, much less landed a plane on an icy runway slick with a fresh dusting of powder.

I don’t blame them on that front. After all – we all learn defensive driving these day so we are prepared with other driver’s competence – why not manage an airport the same way?

Advice on haircuts…

…that I need to take myself.

1) Don’t allow anyone with ridiculous hair to cut your own

2) Don’t reference actors who you really haven’t seen on TV in 8 years (David Boreanaz / Angel was my reference point today)

3) Be wary of hairdressers that think you’re after good value in a haircut. I’m happy to come back in 3 weeks rather than have a “trim” take me down to my roots.

Thanks, “A Cut Above” and curse jetlag for having me half-asleep during the hour long ordeal. It was still cheaper than my local barber in Victoria, though… the wonders of developing nation labour costs.

Defeating SAD

There’s a lot of winter I don’t love, but particularly the dark morning/dark evening routine. Where I grew up, the story went that they shifted the time zone so that people wouldn’t have to commute in the dark (I can’t find evidence this is true on the internets, so must have been an old wives’ tale).

So it has been a growing relief that I need to fumble less as I head out for work in the mornings, unlocking garage doors and making my way through the (semi) darkened corridors and the like… and amazingly, today I left work to birdsong and returned without having to wait for 10 minutes for the car to demist!

Bring on the sunshine and sandals – summer’s practically here!

Pool meetings

When in Bath the other weekend, the commentary on the free audioguide at the baths suggested that “the tradition of doing business in baths has died out in the Western Europe and America”… which struck me as odd at the time, but I thought maybe I’d just seen too many mafia movies. Then today, whilst trying to maintain my exercise routine, I kept swimming into a crowd of Spaniards congregating at one end of the slow lane of the gym’s pool, who were, erm, having some kind of meeting. It was a bit bizarre, and I didn’t see the appeal…