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A busy week

Suddenly, it’s a week since I last updated anything here – and there’s a good reason (or ten) for that.

Mainly, the good reason is that I’ve been sodding busy.

Since last I wrote here, there’s been (in no particular order)

  • Driving to Marlow for a late lunch at the Hand and Flowers
  • Driving to London (Saturday at ungodly o’clock)
  • Visiting Meatopia – on the Saturday, along with several friends
  • Seeing The The’s “Infected” film at the ICA in London on the Saturday evening
  • Staying overnight in London
  • Visiting Meatopia on the Sunday, just me, but ended up meeting several other people, as well as starting some business discussions (Win!)
  • Driving home from London, having walked 20 miles over the two days
  • A vaguely normal Monday, with added shopping and faffery
  • A normal Tuesday working, then meeting friends and going to the cinema to see Hell or High Water – heartily recommended
  • A semi-standard Wednesday, and then cinema to see Morgan – also recommended, for different reasons, and thoughts on both films will follow
  • And tonight, being at the Milton Keynes Geek Night, just to top things off.

So yes, not much going on at all.

It’s been pretty positive all round, but it has left me feeling like a stunned monkey. So there’ll be more writing as and when I get round to it.  I’m back in London this weekend, but look like having one day that’s (currently) quiet, so that’s at least vaguely promising…

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.

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.

Time Flies

The Lead Developer conference this year was at the QEII Conference Centre – a spectacularly bad location (right next to Houses of Parliament, and round the corner from Downing Street) for the days of the Brexit Referendum and its aftermath.

It made me think of the last time I was there, though – which was for one of the @Media conferences, the first one I’d been to. Looking back, that was exactly ten years ago. Now that’s how to feel very old very quickly!

As well as the various talks and so on, it was also good to catch up with friends, including Topper and Pix, as well as meet some new people. It made me realise (yet again) that I really should be a bit more sociable, catch up more frequently and so on – although at the same time, it’s also always good to meet up with people and just drop into conversation as if you last saw them a couple of days ago, instead of a couple of years.

 

Unchecked

Last week, I was in London for three full days, travelling down each day. On both the Thursday and Friday (while attending the excellent Lead Developer conference) I was using the trains at peak times. Onn Saturday it was a busy time when I went down, and busy-but-late on the way back.

At no point in those six journeys did my tickets get checked. Not at platform gates, not on the train, nothing.  I could’ve gone through the entire thing without paying a penny to Virgin Trains.

Of course, Sod’s Law being what it is, if I had braved it and gone without a ticket, there’d have been about six checks per journey. I know that – and it’s why I always buy a ticket. But it does annoy me, how rarely these things are checked, and it makes me wonder how many people do take the chance, and go without paying for the ticket.

Another Quiet Week

This week has been another ‘quiet’ week – or at least one where I don’t seem to have stopped long enough to do a decent post. Which means ‘quiet’ here and… less so in reality.

It started off well – driving home on Monday from a long weekend in Dorset. A ‘quiet’ ‘break’ that resulted in 600ish miles of driving – but also enough necessary downtime and peace to have made it worthwhile.  In fairness I could’ve split the driving, or whatever, but it’s never the driving that tires me, so *shrug*

The place in Dorset will definitely be re-visited though – it was great, and all told thoroughly enjoyable.

The rest of Monday was less fun – once I’d got home I started feeling pretty rotten, and ended up having a sleep on the sofa. Felt a bit better when I woke up, but rapidly got worse again, and ended up with gastric explosions of an epic standard. At least it had the good grace to wait til I got home, rather than expelling my innards into a hire-car.  Thankfully, there was only the one major dollop, so I was able to sleep etc.

Tuesday was a day on-site with my current client – could’ve done without it, but needs must and all that.

Wednesday and Thursday were back to almost-normal, but also included taking the bloody Saab back to the garage (another Engine Management light issue, which was why I had the hire care for the weekend) and going to the cinema, as well as a day where it seemed like people were all trying to kill me. (More of that in another post, perhaps)

And now Friday, and back on-site, as the boss is then away for two weeks.

And that, my friends, is a ‘quiet week’…

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