D4D

Boy, it sure would be nice if we had some grenades, don't you think?

Archive for the category “Business”

Worst Retailer

In the news today, a survey (admittedly, of only 8,000-ish people) lists WHSmith as the worst retailer, for the second year running.

Which doesn’t surprise me – to be honest, the only thing that ever surprises me about WHSmith is that they continue to keep trading. They’ve been in my retail dead pool for about a decade now, and they keep stumbling on.

Personally, I rarely (if ever) darken the doors of a WHSmith. They simply don’t do what I want to buy, there are plenty of places that are cheaper/better, and (to me) most of the stores look dull and dirty.  I’m not saying they are dull and dirty, but they look it – again, to me.

The most recent example of this was a couple of weekends ago, I was in a place I’d not been before, and they had a big WHSmith store.  But from the outside, the lighting inside was so dull that it looked as though the store wasn’t actually open.  Just grim.

Anyway.

The thing that interested me in the story was this :

Every week we serve three million customers in our 600 UK High Street stores

That doesn’t seem like a very big figure, to be honest.  So I worked it out.

3,000,000 divided between 600 stores is 5,000 customers per store. Per week.  Which isn’t much.

And then you average it out over the seven days of the week – I’ll round it up to the nearest whole, as .25 of a person is ridiculous – and you get 715 people per store per day.   Which really isn’t a lot. I can’t see how those numbers all the stores to break even, let alone make a profit.

I truly don’t understand how they stay in business

Small Wins – Backup

Way, way back in the day – Nov 2006, to be precise – I bought a backup drive for all my music, photos and work. It wasn’t anything hugely special – a now laughable 320Gb drive – but it did what I wanted, and made sure I’d got everything preserved.  (Amusingly, I just took a look, and the roughly-similar drives now done by WD start at 3Tb!)

And then I moved a few times, and the drive got separated from its power brick, and I sort of gave up on it a bit.  Over the last few years I’ve mainly been using online backups instead (which mean that as soon as I save a file, it’s backed up, and synchronises to my other machines) and the drive became even less of an issue.

I always knew where the drive itself was, even though I was fairly sure I’d lost (or thrown away) the power lead/brick.  The drive has been on one of my bookcases, doing nothing except attracting dust.

Last weekend, though, I found a random power cable that looked like it might fit the drive.  So I took them both into my office this week, and gave it a go.

At the end of the day, I’d pretty much given up on it – it’s been sat there doing sod-all for a number of years, and has been carelessly moved, shoved in boxes and so on. So I expected nothing.

And yet, when I plugged the cables in and connected it to the laptop, it all worked. Straight away, with no issues, clanks, grinds, or other Warning Noises Of Doom.  Needless to say, I’m actually pretty impressed.

Of course, I’ll also now be working to ensure that a lot of it is backed up somewhere else as well, as that drive is distinctly venerable, but all the same, it’s a bit of a win for it all to have come back in the way it has.

 

Starting The Year

And so, Happy New Year. Another orbit round the sun, and as is the tradition, some thoughts about what’s coming.

As usual, I don’t really do resolutions – particularly not New Year’s ones.  I do a list around my birthday, which can be found here, but I’m thinking about some changes this year as part of that as well.

One of the things that will change a bit is that I’m going to put more into sorting out routines for things, rather than necessarily just looking at the goals themselves.  There are a couple of bits on my list where it’s about “I want to have done [x]”, and that’s fine.  But more of them are about “I want to achieve [y]”, and while I’ve always had the intention, the actuality has evaded me.

Last year I got pointed at this article about creating systems rather than setting goals, and it rang a major bell with me.

All told, I’m in a good place to get started on this stuff.

I’ve just completed version one of a project for another contact, and I’ve done pretty much all I can on it until they get back to me with final information. It’s a working version, although I’ve had to replace some of the functionality/information I’m waiting for with automated processes for the minute. But I’m happy with where it is, and it’s now out of my brain, which is A Good Thing.

Of course, it’s immediately been replaced with another project – this one something that’s important to me as well – which I want to work on sooner rather than later.

So, Happy New Year. Onwards and upwards, etc. etc.

And as one of the Doctors would say, “Allons-y!

 

Phoneless

Via an article on Raptitude ( The Simple Joy of “No Phones Allowed”) I came across a company called Yondr whose idea/offering seems simple and pretty brilliant.

Basically, they create “phoneless areas” for concerts (as well as other events, but mainly concerts) by locking them away.  The smart bit is that they’re not stockpiled somewhere (which would be way too tempting for thieves etc.) Instead, they’re put in a pouch that locks, and the phone stays with the owner.

If the phone is really needed, there are unlock-stations outside the concert area, so the bag can be unlocked and the phone used.

But – as per the article, and as per my own experience – people in general are fucking lazy, and even that extra effort of moving twenty yards to unlock the phone to use it is more than most can be bothered to do. And so those people stay in place, watch the concert (or whatever) and aren’t distracted by their phones.

I’ve griped (on several occasions) about concerts now where more people seem to be filming the gig through their phones than actually watching it and how distracting that is for those who actually want to see the performance (although Yondr won’t fix the other issues mentioned there of people constantly chatting to their mates while the show is on, or keep going to the bar etc.)  and this seems like a really good way of reducing that desire.

Yondr don’t say how much their service costs to install – I assume it’s not going to be cheap – but I really do hope it’s something that both venues and artists support and promote.  I know I’d be more likely to go to a gig/venue that was ‘phones-free’…

2018/19 – What’s the Plan?

As has become traditional round here, it’s time for a list of what I’m aiming for and hoping to do in the coming year.  Some will be familiar (because I keep starting and not finishing) but I’m also hoping to get rid of a couple that never really happen, and maybe add a couple to replace them.

  1. Keep on working on losing weight.
    This one is a long-term thing, and one I’ve written about before. For me, it’s a struggle – I’ve worked with a number of resources this year so far, and feel better-informed than I was, but there’s still a long way to go. If nothing else, this year so far has eliminated a lot of options and bullshit.
  2. Keep on improving fitness/health
    Linked to losing weight, I’ve had more success with this one over the last 12 months, but there’s still stuff to do and improve.
  3. Continue doing the stuff I enjoy
    Various bits here – but basically, do stuff I want to.  Not as a “fear of missing out” (“FOMO”) thing, but just as in “I really want to see/do [x]” and doing so.  (This is, of course, in direct contrast to ‘doing less’ in the list below, so it’s a bit of a balancing act!)
  4. Be more sociable
    I’ve realised this year that I’ve been utterly crap with seeing friends – I’ve been doing a lot of stuff, but at the same time it hasn’t been overly sociable, hasn’t involved going to see friends at all.  And that needs sorting.

I’m getting rid of some of the longer-running goals. They’re still things I want to work on – I’m not giving up on the plans, just on the having them as goals – but it affects me more when I see my ongoing failure to complete/do/start them year on year.

So I’ll note them here as reminders, but they’re not part of the main “What I’m aiming for” list. See if it works better for me as advisories, rather than as targets/goals.  And those reminders are…

  • Writing
    I want to do more writing – I’ve got the ideas, but it’s finding the time, inclination and drive to get them actually going. I hope to schedule more in – I’ve also invested in some tools that should allow me to do so – but we’ll see.
  • Business plans
    As with the writing, I’ve got the ideas, but need to allocate time and energy to getting them to work.  In some cases I’m frustrated by time, in others by funding for getting them how I want them. We’ll just have to see how things go.
  • Doing Less
    This is kind-of related to the above two – if I could sort my brain out so that ‘doing less’ was better, then I’d hopefully have more time to spend on the writing and business ideas.
  • Plan Better
    And the final one, which controls all of the others – make better plans, notes, and be better organised.

Moving Office

As well as all the other stuff I was doing last week, I also moved office. As you do.  Because of course life wasn’t already busy enough, and all that.

As it was, it wasn’t that much of a slog – I’ve stayed in the same building, but moved three floors down, and to the other end. So why move?

Basically, the previous office (which I moved to about a year ago) suffered from the absolutely shitty combination of ridiculously thin stud walls, and being surrounded by excessively noisy and selfish people.  It was tolerable for a short(ish) while, but all told it conspired to end up pissing me off.

Of the three companies around my office, I had one lot who simply operated at maximum volume all the time, and who I could hear through the ‘wall’ all day every day.  I had one lot who weren’t too bad, but were a counselling organisation so you’d sometimes be able to hear people breaking down and crying etc. in the middle of a session.  And the final lot were just incapable of closing their door, so again I could hear everything that they did.  (And if I returned the compliment and left my door open with the radio on, would complain that I was disturbing them, while paying absolutely no heed to the fact they were doing the same consistently)

There were other bits too that ended up pissing me off – the way others would turn all the lights on, but be incapable of then turning them off again (I suspect they had partners at home who just followed them around turning stuff off, as they were so incapable of doing so) and leaving the communal toilets either stuffed full of bog roll, or completely unflushed – and doing so Every. Fucking. Day.

So all told it just got to be too much, and I wasn’t enjoying going to work.  I looked at offices in other places (particularly with the added issues of the commute for the next two-ish years)  However, none of the ones I looked at had the convenience of location and facilities around, and all seemed to be at least three times as expensive as where I currently am.

However, I ended up talking about that with one of the directors of the foundation that owns the current building, and it turned out that a different unit was just becoming available. Ideal. Quieter end of the building, better walls, and just generally an improvement.

Non-Stop

This last week has been (and continues to be) pretty non-stop, even by my standards. It’s been a weird mix of work, social, and work-related social.

I’m still trying to calm things down – and weirdly, at the moment my weekends seem to be freer than my weekdays, so I suppose that’s some kind of progress? But as usual, something has to give – and this time it’s been writing on D4D™.

I’m aiming to find a better balance of things, but right now it’s all on some kind of weird mutant seesaw/roundabout combination, and figuring out the physics of that is pretty tiring in and of itself.

I’ll get there, though.

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