D4D

You can't polish a turd.

Archive for the category “Thoughts”

Resilient – or Not

Over recent weeks, I’ve been having dealings with a number of companies I don’t usually deal with. There’s probably more on those to come, once the issues are sorted, but what’s struck me initially is just how ill-prepared they are for anything going wrong.

I’m not talking (necessarily) at the whole ‘disaster recovery’ level, where the business will die if it doesn’t have backups and a spare data-suite etc. hanging around on the off-chance. This is more at the customer level, but (to my mind) no less important for all that.

In three different cases over the last couple of months, I’ve been promised call-backs from various people, all of which haven’t happened. The excuses differ, but basically come down to “the person who organised that was away and no-one else knew anything about it“.  Now, I get it, stuff happens: people go on leave, get ill, or change jobs. (And sometimes all three) But that lack of handover, lack of communication, lack of back-up procedures and so on, is a worry.

What would have happened if – for example – I were a customer, wanting a quote or whatever, and expecting a response that doesn’t happen? Or when complaints are waiting to be handled, because the only person who knows about it has chuffed off somewhere?

For my own business and work, I make sure my end client always has access to a copy of the stuff I’m writing and doing. They get to see what’s changed, and can see that work’s being done, even if not necessarily the details and the ins-and-outs of the code. But they have access – so that if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, or go off with some kind of long-term illness (or any of the other options) then they can carry on. I don’t kill their businesses by being unwell, or dying.

In this age of technology, it’s not even that difficult. Calendars and emails can be shared, and accessed by colleagues (assuming the procedures are in place) when the owners are away. Out-of-office notifications can be set at the server level by IT if they’re made aware someone’s long-term ill etc., and emails can be auto-forwarded to someone else if the original person leaves.

It’s not at all difficult – but it still seems to be too much effort for any number of companies and organisations to set up. Lowest common denominators, and all that.

Too Warm

As usual, it’s July, so here in the UK we get a bit of a heatwave. Someone else (I believe it was George II) described the British summer as “Three hot days, and a thunderstorm” and that’s not far from the truth. This year, it started on Monday, and Tuesday was the hottest day of the year so far, hitting nearly 34° C (92° F)

I try to not gripe about the weather – I know, terribly unBritish of me – because well, realistically it’s just the British weather. We have a strange weather system/environment for a number of reasons, but in general we’re really remarkably middle-of-the-road, and thus not set up at all to handle extremes. (Or even what we refer to as extremes, and which other countries regard as “normal”)  That means we don’t fit air-conditioning by default in houses, and we over-insulate them. (Similar infrastructure lacks show up in Winter, when we grind to a halt in levels of snow that Americans and Canadians look at and laugh)  We’re just not cut out for long periods of heat – because we never get them. Maybe a week or so is usually the longest for any form of ‘heatwave’ without the respite of storms, rain, and anything else our weather system can throw at us.

As it is, I do feel the heat far more than I feel the cold. I’m naturally very warm (temperature-wise, if not personality-wise) which is great in Winter, but leaves me as a sweaty blob when we hit these hot days.

I try and prepare for it all – this year I’ve been organised enough to put a fan in the bedroom (which certainly helps at night) and got some cold and frozen stuff that’ll be useful. Additionally, a bottle of frozen water makes a great bag-cooler, and can then be really nice as it thaws out, while also keeping other drinks cold in the meantime.

In short, I do what I can. I’m not a massive fan of it at this point, but *shrug* it’s just part of life. I’d still rather the temperature were a few degrees cooler, but there we go, it will be in a couple of days time, I’m sure. I’ll enjoy it while it’s here – sitting out in the sun at lunchtime, and as it cools down a bit in the evenings, or getting to the coast when I can – and that’s all to the good.

There was going to be a point to all this, and I now can’t remember what that point was. Hey Ho.

Brexit – A Prediction

Today the UK has changed Prime Minister, with Dodgy Dave stepping down, to be replaced by Theresa May.  It’s going to be an interesting time, to say the least.

My own prediction now for the Brexit process will be this :

  • Brussels won’t allow any negotiations to happen until the UK has stated it’s intent to leave the EU, by signing Article 50
  • UK Government won’t sign Article 50 until the basic negotiations have happened, or at least are happening

And so, we’ll have a deadlock – where the UK Government can portray Brussels as “The Bad Guys” who won’t allow us to leave, because they’re being too harsh.

And that, I suspect, is where it’ll all stall, a total impasse that means the entire Brexit thing will gradually fade from the public mind.

Life Stripped Bare

This week, Channel 4 had a one-off programme called “Life Stripped Bare“, which turned out to be pretty interesting.

It was basically about how people handle having no possessions. All their items, furnishing, clothing – everything – is taken away and put in storage, leaving them with absolutely nothing except the walls of their homes. It was slightly gratuitous, as all the participants had to strip off, leaving them to start the process completely naked. I understand the reasoning for it, but yeah, there seemed to be a lot more focus on that than was strictly necessary.

Each participant (a single woman, a house-share of a man and woman, and another house-share of two men and a woman) was allowed to get back one item a day from storage – although in all three cases, that storage unit was at least half a mile away, so they had to make the effort and journey in order to get those things. In autumn/winter. The first couple of days, where clothing was limited (to say the least) showed off their inventiveness all round – and the single woman in particular, whose first choice was a bolt of material, from which she fashioned a load of things, rather than just one thing.

It was interesting though, seeing what the people valued, what they couldn’t live without, and then what they did once everything was returned.  Naturally, with the participants being late-twenties and early-thirties, one of the things they had real problems living without was their phones, and being pretty much permanently connected to the world.

It also made me think about my own attitudes to possessions, what I have, what I value, what I could live without if I chose to. I think a lot of that would come down to semantics, for example whether “books” counts as one possession as a whole, or whether each one is an individual possession.

All told, there’s a lot I could live without if I had to or chose to. I wouldn’t want to be reduced all the way to zero possessions – I don’t think anyone truly would – but I think I probably could handle a significant reduction if I had to.

Anyway, it was an interesting programme, and made for some interesting thoughts – which I may write more about at some point in the future. Or not. We’ll see.

Sporting Chronoclasm

Every year it boggles my mind that this weekend seems to be All The Sport – due to some epic scheduling, we always end up having the finals of Wimbledon on the same day as the British Grand Prix.

This year, we’ve also got the finals of Euro 2016, just in case we didn’t have enough bloody sport to contend with already.

Not that I care (in case you hadn’t guessed) as I won’t be watching any of it.

But seriously, how much organisation and planning does it take, to get three major sporting events to all climax/happen on the same damn day?

Planning Stuff

As well as slowing down a bit for the second half of 2016, I’m also starting to plan stuff where possible for the first half of 2017. For me, that’s scarily organised.

Part of it is looking at stuff I want to do – and places I want to go – and starting to put things in place for those to happen. I’ve got a couple of breaks booked for the second half of 2016, a week in Cornwall at the end of September, and a weekend in Dorset at the end of October (in which I’m hoping to break the back of some writing ideas – that’s the current plan, anyway) but I’m also looking at what I want to do in 2017, and starting to book it up where/when I can.

So far, that’s looking like a long weekend down around Bath and Bristol (an area I like, don’t know enough about, and want to know more) and potentially a week each in Lake District and somewhere in the North-East. I may do something abroad as well, but we’ll see.

I’m also looking at things I don’t want to carry on – in particular the restaurant project I’ve been doing this year, with at least one Michelin-starred place per month for the year, part of my whole thing about eating alone. I’m still really enjoying it for this year, and I’ve no intention of giving it up completely – but it might go down to a quarterly thing, rather than monthly.

There’s a bundle of other stuff getting prepared for next year – but not stuff I’m going to write about just yet. Most of this is just in the contemplating and planning stages, rather than actually happening, but I’m going to spend time this year sorting out next.

Which, for me, is disgustingly organised…

 

Slowing Down

The first half of this year has been particularly barmy, and has felt close to non-stop. It’s safe to say, there’s been a lot of life going on!  I haven’t written here about a lot of it, because while it’s been fun, it hasn’t been massively newsworthy – but I think even here it’s been fairly clear that I’ve been doing a lot.

All told, there was only one event/thing that I wanted to do that I didn’t get to do – and that was more from an overdose of sanity and reality than any form of timing clash – and that was that climb up the Gherkin.

However, as a result of it all, I’m pretty wiped out – so the plan for the second half of the year is for me to slow down a bit.

I’ve still got loads planned, but I do intend to also have some more peaceable weekends, ones where I’m not all over the country and generally running round like a pillock. I know that September is insanely busy, so I’m definitely going to pad out the weeks either side of it.

There’s a lot of other stuff I want to do as well, which is part of why I’m trying to settle a bit and not be covering the country quite as much as I have been.

That’s the plan, anyway. Whether it’ll happen like that, only time will tell.

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