Wednesday, 10 February 2010

I have moved!

Just an administrative note - I'm moving to a Wordpress blog on my own domain - I figured it would be better to do this now and start accumulation search ranking at my new address. Which will be:

and for those of you who want an RSS feed:

It's been nice using Blogger, but I confess I've fallen prey to the lovely shiny themes Wordpress can provide... So, gone from here - see you on the other side.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

iPhoned Up

Well, I've finally given in to the whole smartphone phenomenon & am writing this in a Newbury cafe on my shiny new iPhone 3GS. Quite a novel experience for someone who's only ever had boring Nokias!

So far I have to admit I'm really impressed. Main reasons for getting this phone were to stay more in touch with my various social networks whilst out & about, and also have better on the go access to weather forecasts for windsurfing.

Not really tested weather forecasts yet, but for staying connected the iPhone is awesome. Having added a few apps, I'm now easily able to keep up with email, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and my RSS feeds - not to mention posting to the blog of course.

Geek alert: also now able to remote desktop to my PC from the phone - sweet.

Must admit the touchscreen is for now slower than texting on my old phone, but reckon that'll improve with practice. Otherwise very happy with the thing!

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Happy New Year!


Only slightly belatedly – happy new year everyone, and hope 2010 proves to be a cracking one for all!

I had a great break, nice to unwind for a while and really good to catch up with friends and family.  On my travels a bit, visiting Warsash, Lytham St Annes, Manchester and south Wales.  Phew…

Back to work now of course, slightly worried about how much there seems to be to do!  All exciting stuff though and actually pretty keen to get back on with things.

One tentative new year’s resolution I do aim to keep up is to post more here!  There seems to be a lot to witter on about, from the recent #uksnow to the Google Nexus One.  So expect one post per week minimum – we’ll see how that goes…

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Christmas Shopping

Went for a wander into Newbury this afternoon to get a bit of shopping done – always more fun to take the camera!  Some lovely winter light so took a fair few exposures…

IMG_8800 IMG_8812 IMG_8822 IMG_8831 IMG_8839 IMG_8859 That last blurred car picture is heavily inspired by Jez Coulson’s crazy taxi pictures.  I love Jez’s work & have followed his blog for a while now.  Well worth checking out!  I took a few today but still have to master hand-held panning, I think…

More pictures from today on my Flickr stream.

In other news, the Rage Against The Machine campaign is still going strong and has reached nearly 700,000 members on Facebook.  Go join, then buy the song from Monday if you want to help avoid the X Factor being Christmas No 1 – again!

Monday, 7 December 2009

And now for something completely different…

From mince pies and mulled wine…  to brutally high-volume rap metal!  Yep, that’s right – it’s the campaign to get Rage Against The Machine’s expletive-laced scream of defiance against authority, “Killing in the Name”, to Christmas Number 1 in the UK Charts.  Nothing if not varied, this blog.


That song recalls happy memories from my youth – specifically, a school “talent show” degenerating into a sweaty mosh-pit as one of the bands kicked in with a bit of “Killing in the Name”.  I’ve no idea if the teachers turned off the power ‘cos they thought it was going to turn into a riot, or if they’d somehow got wind of the lyrics to the final verse…  Either way, a horde of frustrated and fired-up teenagers were left with nothing to do but go and lurk around on Southsea Common, trying to look cool.  Ah, good times!

Somehow RATM’s eponymous debut album seems to have eluded any transferral to digital, so I’ve just downloaded a copy and given it a listen.  Was on my own in the flat so able to turn it up good and loud!  I was mainly being nostalgic but on listening, I was surprised to discover again what a good album it actually is.  Being honest, I liked it at the time due to the swearing and some vaguely defined spirit of rebellion; it’s actually pretty damn impressive, in music and lyrics.  Well worth a listen and certainly doesn’t sound like it was released 17 years ago…  Now I feel old!


Anyway – back to the campaign.  It’s all started off in disgust at the seeming stranglehold the Simon Cowell “entertainment” juggernaut has on the Christmas No. 1 spot.  Two good people on Facebook, Tracey & Jon Morter, came up with the idea – what better way to protest against mass produced, bland, musical pap than getting its complete antithesis to number 1?!  The Facebook group is up to well over 350,000 and growing fast.  All of us are going to buy the single NEXT WEEK – no point buying it now! – so just maybe, there might be a chance to stop the X Factor single from reaching the top spot.

For all the details go to the Facebook group, or check out #ratm4xmas on Twitter.  Go on, get involved! 

Sunday, 6 December 2009

The second signs of Christmas…

Having put up the tree earlier – today it was time for mince pies and mulled wine!


Very nice they were too – more pics of the whole baking experience linked if you click above.  It was a lot of fun, but did rather remind me of why I don’t make pastry too often – it’s a right mess!

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Apparently it's Christmas time!

Yesterday was only the first day of December, but somebody decided that was none too early to put up the tree!

After it was up, I discovered that taking photos of Christmas decorations is quite difficult! Had the tripod up and was taking some seriously long exposures, with mixed results. Think some more practice will be called for here...

Monday, 30 November 2009

Thoughts on Google Wave

Conversations over the weekend got me thinking about Google Wave and the confusion it has engendered. What's it for? How do I use it? Why is it any better than email? I don't understand...

I'm becoming more and more convinced Wave sits outside our current paradigm for doing stuff online. It's simply not something our current world-view can encompass - except for a few bright people at Google, of course!

An analogy that's sprung to mind is that of the car, in its early days. The first prototypes were considered impractical, of no real benefit - certainly not likely to replace horse-drawn carriages... People of the time couldn't think past their experience and couldn't see the potential of the new technology. Sound familar?

So I think Wave should be treated as what it is; a prototype. It won't fit everyone's needs, today. It may be of little practical use. Indeed, it may turn out to be a complete failure.

On the other hand, it may have the potential to completely change the way people communicate online - we just don't have the capability to predict what that will look like!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Corporate IT - Us vs Them?

This post is in response to a post from Euan Semple - go check it out first! I don't disagree with his main point - there's no doubt that many organisations are hindering their peoples' performance with an outdated attitude to new technologies. However, what I don't think gets nearly enough recognition is that not all individuals want to use social software or new technology, or care about why they should.

That's a pretty controversial statement amongst web 2.0 and social media folks. Why would anyone not want to have more control, more responsibility? Why would anyone not want to choose the ideal tools to get their work done? Simply because we're all different.

It's all too easy to forget that many people just want to go to work and do their job. They don't want to waste a day comparing browsers, or installing different Twitter clients. They certainly don't want to be responsible for re-imaging their PC when it's corrupted and virus infected!

The cultural expectation of most employees is that their employer provides them with technology that enables them to do their job - and the employer bears the responsibility for it working properly. At the moment, this entails restrictions on what the employee can do - sure, this might hurt productivity, and it makes us early adopters furious. But I honestly believe that for a majority of workers, they'd prefer stable and supported technology over the latest innovative tools.

So when considering the use of IT at work, the main point I'm trying to make is that it's not about the individual versus some monolithic, faceless corporate entity. It's about the attitudes, expectations and culture of the organisation's people. If we want a change in the use of technology in the workplace, we need to convince a majority of our colleagues why this will be a good thing!

How might we do this? Trends over time will help - although I don't agree that technology use is driven by whether you're a baby boomer, Gen X or Gen Y, there's little doubt that the constant flow of younger people into the workplace will drive cultural changes. There will also be change over time through ambition. Once people realise that social software isn't just a toy but a tool that can transform their performance - and hence, their prospects of reward - they will be much more enthusiastic!

Technology developments may help too. Again looking at current trends, there's lots of room for improvements in technology stability. Why are computers still so prone to failure? Specifically for the workplace, I think virtual machines could be a way forward. If made easy enough to use, why not provide a personal VM environment within which people could use social or personal productivity tools, whilst keeping the host system clean and stable?

To finish, then, I'd like to point out that us web 2.0, social technology evangelists are on the leading edge of this change. I think we tend to forget that! Early adopters will be frustrated during change - there's no avoiding that. This shouldn't stop us advocating use of social tools, far from it! But we should recognise that change may take years, or decades, to truly sink in. We should aim our efforts at the audience that matters - not some corporate entity but rather our colleagues and friends who remain dubious about the whole idea. Obviously the opinion of top management in any organisation does make a difference! But ultimately, the combined opinions, expectations and culture of the individuals making up that organisation have to be convinced before we can expect widespread change.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

KIN Autumn Workshop 2009 - Intro

I've just arrived at Warwick Business School for the KIN Autumn Workshop 2009 - in plenty of time to get on the free wireless and have a coffee too, most unusual for me!

I'm going to try and semi-live blog to record my thoughts - obviously as KIN is a membership organisation I'll be self-censoring for any material that seems sensitive, but will try and capture insights and general opinions.

There's a good programme for the next couple of days so should be interesting - starting off with a session this morning on "Communities of Practice: A social discipline of learning", with Etienne Wenger - looking forward to it!

Admin note - I'm using "KIN_Autumn_2009" to tag all relevant posts here, and have created the Twitter hashtag #KINWorkshop for live tweeting during the event. Do get involved...

[EDIT] Over a month later now, and as you can probably tell my live blogging idea didn't really work! In the spirit of KM I'm going to write a post soon talking about why this was, and whether it's a problem. Stay tuned...

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Facebook as portal to Microsoft Cloud?

A recurring theme from TechMarketView has been the possibility that Microsoft could buy Facebook and use it as a portal into their cloud-based computing services. This doesn't make sense to me for a number of reasons.

What might MS' Cloud offerings be?
  • Office-as-a-service - Word, Excel etc - apparently planned for Office 14 anyway.
  • Business Stuff - CRM, ERP, etc.
  • Personal Financial Management, pretty much "Money-as-a-service"
  • Online collaboration spaces - "SharePoint as a service"
I can't think of much else, although maybe others can. I don't see MS as coming up with anything especially innovative or radical - it's pretty much business as usual, just delivered through a browser rather than local applications.

So, what's the problem with "Facebook as portal to Cloud"? The first problem I have with this concept is user expectations & behaviours. What do you go to Facebook for? To stay in touch with friends, organise social events, form groups for issues you care about, share pictures. Where does any of this form a natural lead into using MS offerings? About the only service I can see being relevant is online collaboration, and I don't see MS adding much over what Facebook already enables with groups, events and so on.

I guess what I'm really saying is that Facebook/MS Cloud integration seems, to me, to be a big context shift. The only way I can see it working is for the two to remain fairly separate, and simply be driven by association - i.e. I'm on Facebook anyway - now I need to edit a document - ah, MS Cloud is right here, I'll use that.

But Microsoft could do that anyway, right now, by advertising their cloud services on Facebook. So what reason would they have to buy the whole thing?

This is all rather assuming that MS will find a way to make money from increased traffic on their Cloud services - this is a challenge in itself. Maybe they'll do it through a "Free + Premium" model such as Flickr, but I remain to be convinced... Anyway, let's stick with this assumption for now.

Therefore MS would be looking to Facebook to drive traffic to their Cloud services. But not so fast! They can't mess about too much with Facebook's usability, lest they drive away users. They can't turn it into an obvious MS portal, for fear of losing its cool, its cachet - again, driving away users. So again, the only real integration I can imagine is simply a link from Facebook through to MS Cloud. As I've said above, they could already do this via advertising.

The last point to address is about competitiveness in the Cloud services space. Facebook is all about people connecting with other people, talking and exchanging opinions. If MS Cloud services were in ANY way flawed, or lacking functionality, or weak in comparison with offerings from Google etc., then sure as the sun rising Facebook users would be pointing these flaws out, and suggesting their friends try alternatives instead. If we're talking freely-available, internet-delivered services, then I can't conceive of any way MS could lock-in users to their services through Facebook without huge irritation and negative PR - again, driving users away from Facebook and losing any possible benefits.

So anyway, the whole thing doesn't really add up to me. Maybe there are some nuances to this I'm missing though! I do think it's an interesting area to explore - monetisation of social networks will clearly be a driving purpose for big companies in the near future. Would love to hear any opinions or further thoughts...

Monday, 3 August 2009

Photos Catch-up - Part 2

Following my last photos catch-up post a while back, the time's definitely come for some more.


End of May we went up to the Lakes for a weekend of messing about in boats and generally enjoying the outdoors at Low Bank Ground. On the Friday evening some of the crazier members of the group decided a swim was in order - the mountain board was a last minute brainwave...


Saturday saw plenty of kayaking & sailing...


...following by a cracking BBQ, beers cooled in the lake and a good sing-along around the campfire.


Sunday the weather was much nicer.


Indeed, it was plenty warm enough for some raft-racing - the raft I helped build is the one above. The other two sunk, so we won!

Think that's probably enough pictures for one post - stay tuned for catch-up part 3...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


Has much happened since my last post? Not an awful lot, really. Continued the struggle to whip SharePoint into something approaching usability at work, whilst dealing with ongoing organisational uncertainty - all good fun and games!

I have been to a couple of very useful KIN events, the first an inaugural general meeting for the Enabling Technologies SIG and the second a Communities of Practice roundtable. Both delivered a lot of interesting thoughts, material, and most of all connections with smart people. Might post a bit more about these at some point soon...

On the personal front I actually managed to get out windsurfing a couple of weekends ago, which was nice - but good grief, am I unfit. This morning saw me try to do something about it - in retrospect, 20 sec sprint intervals after almost 4 months of no exercise was a mistake! I will try to keep up more frequent training but maybe take the intensity down a little, at least to start with.

I've been taking a few more photographs here & there, and might do a couple more posts on here - in the mean time if you're interested check out my Flickr. I'm particularly pleased with my most recent set!

Furthermore to photography, anyone with an interest in wedding photography should head over to the forums, where Jeff Ascough is running a Q&A through this week. It's illuminating stuff.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Books 12 June 2009

A quick set of mini-reviews for some books I've read recently...

The Gargoyle, Andrew Davidson 4 / 5

Enjoyed this a lot - might not be for you if you're squeamish though. An ordinary story - boy meets girl. However, here the boy is nearly dead, horribly burnt & disfigured following a car crash which rather curtails his career as an drug-addled adult film star. The girl, meanwhile, is a fey and mysterious stone carver who claims to be seven hundred years old...

Davidson does a great job of weaving a convincing & engaging story with real depth to the relationship between the two - backed up by enjoyably imaginative storytelling and a veneer of the fantastical.

There are definite flaws to this book - the author heavily researched historical background for the story, and sometimes the depth of historical verisimilitude jars with the narrative. It's not a happy book either - and I wasn't sure the ending really worked for me.

None the less, I enjoyed it a lot and it made quite an impact on me - the kind of novel I imagine I'll return to for second or third readings and find more in it each time. Considering it's a début from Davidson, pretty impressive!

The Name of the Wind, Patrick Rothfuss 5 / 5

Another début novel, happily even better this one. Grabbed in some haste - I was in Solihull and needed something to read, and this was on the "Employee's Picks" section in the Borders there. They have great taste!

In "The Name of the Wind", Rothfuss (He blogs!) has done a great job of blending the exuberant and exciting elements of fantasy with some gritty realism. A more grim and gloomy tone is not unknown in fantasy, particularly in recent years, but for me this one gets the balance just about perfect - whilst creating a convincing world and characters, there's still a real element of wonder and enchantment.

This book tells the story of Kvothe, born into a troupe of roving stage performers and minstrels, who clearly from the book's context goes on to become a famous - or, perhaps, notorious - hero, swordsman and magician. Much of this is still to come though, as this is the first of a trilogy. By the end of this volume Kvothe has suffered tragedy, met with both adventure and romance, and shown his potential for the arcane - so there's certainly lots happening. None the less, there's a lingering feeling that things will really get going in the next book!

This book isn't perfect - at times Kvothe does verge on the wish-fulfilling 'Mary-Sue' of legend - but it's without doubt the best fantasy I've read in the past couple of years. If you like fantasy - particularly of the 'epic' sub-genre - then I can't recommend this enough.

The Last Colony, John Scalzi 3 / 5

I'm a long-time reader of John's blog, Whatever, but have tended to only pick up his novels as & when I find them over here in the UK - which hasn't always been often. So I was happy to find a copy of 'The Last Colony' the other week.

This third book is a sequel to Scalzi's previous 'Old Man's War' and 'The Ghost Brigades' and continues the story of John Perry, the septuagenarian soldier fighting humankind's battles on faraway planets. Although not carrying on immediate plot arcs, the book does rely heavily on the earlier two and I would suggest you catch up on those first.

In 'The Last Colony', Perry agrees to lead a new colony settling on a new world. Unfortunately for him, in this universe there are many alien races who object to humans grabbing all the prime real estate. And they're the easier part of Perry's problems, as he also has to contend with his own government.

Above all this is a fun book, which I rattled through reading with great excitement. This is wholly in keeping with the previous books and, indeed, reminds me of early Heinlein works that Scalzi has openly acknowleged as an inspiration. The narrative is warm, witty and rapidly paced.

However, I was a bit disappointed at the lack of depth and detail I found. I'm not sure this would bother everyone, but to a certain degree I felt that the broad outlines of a world were being painted, but there wasn't anything to back them up or develop a real depth of connection with characters.

So whilst I finished the book at breakneck pace, and thoroughly enjoyed it in the process, I can't really say it made much of a lasting impact on me. I'll still look out for Scalzi's books when I see them - but I'm not going to be ordering them in hardcover...

Night of Knives, Ian C Esslemont 3 / 5

I am a huge fan of Steven Erikson's 'Malazan Book of the Fallen' series, so I was curious to see what this new novel, set in the same world but from a different author, would be like. Ian and Steven did develop the Malazan world together from the outset and describe it as a wholly collaborative endeavour, so this book shouldn't be seen as any sort of spin-off or exploitation!

'Night of Knives' is a fast-paced action novel, and does that extremely well. The characters are what they need to be, there are plenty of fights, chases, battles of magic, strange trips between worlds... You get the idea - there's a lot going on. Esslemont has done a great job of plotting and weaving a coherent narrative to describe one very chaotic night.

I realise it's not fair to compare the two authors, but based on this book I remain unconvinced that Esslemont can bring the same balance of action and feeling that Erikson manages - part of the appeal the 'Book of the Fallen' series has to me is that it conveys the full range of human emotion, from joy to despair to rage to desperate sorrow. And Erikson surely doesn't have any problem writing big, dramatic battle sequences either.

As I say, it's harsh on Esslemont to judge his first novel by such high standards - in my book it's a fine first novel. There is a second one - 'Return of the Crimson Guard' - out now, and I plan to check that out soon. So definitely not a bad book - just has a lot to live up to!

The Gone-away World, Nick Harkaway 5 / 5

Yet another first novel, this one from - I discovered after finishing it - the son of the great author of spy fiction, John Le Carre. Also a really excellent book - I literally finished it two or three hours ago and am still buzzing a little with excitement!

Unlike the other books in this post, 'The Gone-away World' is written in an overtly comical and stream-of-conciousness style which at times seemed to be channeling a potent mix of Neal Stephenson, Douglas Adams and even maybe Jerome K Jerome. The plot also has its absurd moments, featuring as it does pirates, ninjas, and the most unlikely romantic assignation I have ever read.

Using this style is interesting, to say the least, given that the book is about the end of the world - in a way - and addresses head-on some deep and uncomfortable questions about love, war, corporate culture and philosophy. I won't give away any plot points, but there are also big surprises towards the end, spun in by the author in quite elegant fashion.

Again, there are a few problems - although the comedic style works most of the time, it sometimes meets its limits and crosses the line into farce. Although I enjoy complex and flowery language, Harkaway takes it a bit too far here on occasion and would maybe have benefitted from some further editing. I notice he credits Dumas in the endnote and indeed, the verbosity is reminiscent of something like 'Le Comte de Monte Cristo'.

Summing up, however, 'The Gone-away' world is a cracking read with lots of action, a sizzling plot, good characters and an innovative way of telling a story. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The much reported death of KM - my take...

Last week I attended David Gurteen's "Effective Knowledge Worker" workshop - a valuable and very thought provoking day! One point that came up in discussion was the "Is KM dead?" debate that seems to have been rattling around in the KM community and online for a while now. As usual never knowing when to leave alone, I thought I'd add my tuppence...

Much of this appears to have kicked off following an interview with Dave Snowden and Larry Prusak last year. Luis Suarez's post here has an excellent round-up of links and further discussion. I'm not going to attempt a comprehensive point-by-point argument here, but rather put forward some of my thoughts, particularly based on my own experience.

My first response to "KM is dead!" was to ask - "What do you mean by KM?" and indeed, this does seem to be the key to the debate. In general, those saying "Yes, KM is dead!" aren't doing KM any more, oh no. They're doing Social Media, or Knowledge Sharing, or something equally flavour-of-the-month - yay!

The other side - "No, KM's still alive" - tend to still call what they do Knowledge Management, like myself. It can't be dead, because then we'd be out of a job. Maybe your idea of KM is dead - not mine. Nuh-uh. Vive le KM!

What I'm getting at is that at some level this is all a squabble about terminology. Call it what you will, but we're all working towards the same end - improving the ability of people to be more productive, perform to a higher standard and make better decisions. We believe we can best do this through making changes in the way people develop and use knowledge.

An aside - I should make clear that this is about driving improved business results - we're not doing this to make people happier. Sometimes KM - and recently, social media - people seem to miss this point and assume empowering people, having open conversations etc. should be goals in themselves. Not so - they should all be in pursuit of higher performance. Blimey, I sound like Alan Sugar! However... it's no coincidence that happy, empowered people & high performing businesses go hand-in-glove. Aren't we lucky to be living in a day & age where we get a chance to have fun at work
and be high-powered and successful? That's the idea, anyway...

Anyway - back to my main point. Whatever we're doing in this space, it is all about changing the ways people develop & use their knowledge. Is that knowledge tacit or explicit? Can it be held in a document? Can knowledge exist at all outside of people's heads? KM experts would happily argue all of these points - hence I propose we ignore them. Does it really matter? Some people love taxonomies and file systems, others won't touch anything formally managed and controlled, preferring instead informal networks and conversations. News! Both of these are KM, and in my opinion anyone claiming to be a Knowledge Manager should acknowledge this.

This is a key point in making useful progress from this discussion - people are messy and inconsistent, and any effective approach to improving knowledge work has to recognise this. IT and IM types can find this a horrific concept - people left to their own devices will inevitably produce a mess of stuff. But people are also pretty good at resolving ambiguity and sorting the useful from the dross - if they're empowered to do so.

The flip side of this, is that some situations, problems and types of people are best dealt with through formal processes, structures and management. Yes, all you social media, Web 2.0 hipsters - some people do actually like doing things in a structured, routine manner! Crazy, I know. Not my cup of tea, but as KM experts we need an approach that embraces all the many ways of doing things, rather than imposing any one solution.

So - what I guess I'm trying to say is that KM is not a consultancy methodology, or a programming language, or a scientific theory. I don't believe it can "die", or be discredited, or debunked. No - KM is simply an approach which recognises the importance of both individuals and knowledge, and develops a wide, varied and above all pragmatic set of practices that help improve knowledge working effectiveness.

I realise I've just fallen into my own trap and developed yet another definition of KM. Not what I set out to do, but never mind - I will plough on regardless.

Going off on a slightly different tack now - I will wrap up this post soon, I promise - I'd like to address another angle of the "KM is dead" argument - the impact of past failures. It seems to be suggested that as KM has "failed" in the past, it is tainted beyond recognition. Well, for a start I don't believe it has failed - KM has delivered notable successes. More importantly, if we value knowledge - and we do - then how can we fail to manage it?

I think it's relevant to compare to other management practices here. Risk Management. Safety Management. Financial Management. All of these have a range of tools & techniques. All have had spectacular failures. (Hello, credit crunch!) But nobody argues with their basic principles - I will minimise my risks, I will increase safety, I will run my business on a sound financial basis. Why not also - I will maximise value and performance through management of knowledge?

So I believe it's incumbent on us as KM experts to embrace past failures, learn from them and promote Knowledge Management as a holistic, pragmatic way of increasing performance. If the most effective way to do this in your organisation is through managing documents and file structures, great. If it's by setting up knowledge plans, communities of practice and so on - again, great. You may drive huge improvements by effecting cultural change, implementing social tools and empowering your people - excellent! But whatever you do, focus on the individuals, the knowledge, and how your actions help to improve their way of working. That is what KM is all about.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Photos Catch-up - Part 1

Over the past couple of months I've been trying to get out & take some more photos. Having got a DSLR last September - the excellent Canon 450D - I'm only now starting to feel I've got a real grip on what to do technically to get reasonable exposures. I'm now really keen to focus (heh) on the artistry and composition possibilities - which I think will be a life long learning process!

So anyway, herewith some pics...

Windsurfing Hill Head

These were taken down at Hill Head earlier in May. It was a horrible grotty afternoon/evening - I'd been out sailing earlier in the day and had got thoroughly cold & miserable in the rain. Luckily just as I came in, exhausted, the rain cleared up so I got changed quickly to take some pics. These guys were sailing at the western end of Hill Head beach & coming in quite close to the drainage outfall where I could stand.

Windsurfing Hill Head

It was really rather dark & gloomy by that point of the afternoon and I think the AF in the camera was struggling - these photos all seemed a little blurred. I was shooting in Tv mode at about 1/640 or faster to freeze the motion but the images were very dark - I had to really ramp the brightness up in Lightroom. This has introduced noise, unfortunately!

Windsurfing Hill Head

This chap was kind enough to sail straight at me whilst pulling off a neat body-drag - quite an old-skool trick but still looks good.


The next morning at Hayling Island was a much nicer day - very unexpected sunshine but still cold for May, I was in my winter wetsuit and nowhere near too hot! I had a good couple of hours sailing before running out of energy - several months of no exercise hasn't done me much good. At least it gave me the chance to take some pics and have a chat with some mates from the Boards forums...


I really liked the forward loop sequence of which this photo is a part - a brighter day, fast shutter speed, AF Servo and continuous shot mode delivered good results. However, I still need to get more conscious of framing when tracking moving subjects - this would have looked a lot better with the whole sailor, board & rig in the shot!


I was lucky enough here to get the brightness of the sun in the foreground, and especially off the sail & the spray, whilst the background was conveniently darkened by a passing cloud. Very useful!

That's all for now but there's plenty more photos so stay tuned for a Part 2 - and some pictures that aren't of windsurfing!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

New White House Website

In the last hour or so the White House website has been refreshed as Barack Obama took oath as 44th President of the United States. From the viewpoint of myself as both a techie, and a big supporter of open & transparent government, this website and some of Obama's intentions are highly promising. Obviously enough, the site is at - go and have a look!

This is clearly a 21st century webpage - blog - yep, video - yep, photo gallery - yep - of course these are sparsely populated as yet but all present and correct, with separate RSS feeds for the various content streams. Wonderful, and added to my Google Reader. Overall it's a nice website design too - clean and sophisticated.

Perhaps more important than the technological bells and whistles is the motivation and driving ethos behind the website. As spelled out in this new blog post, the incoming administration wants to improve communication, transparency and participation between the people and government - not exactly news to those who followed Obama's campaign, but welcome nonetheless. I was particularly taken by the pledge to publish non-emergency legislation for public review - although of course this doesn't give the public any authority over legislation, it's an interesting development to say the least.

There's probably plenty more to discover, but for now I'll just finish with what's on Obama's agenda for technology. Network neutrality? He's a fan. Online privacy? Again, sounds like he's firmly in support. Finally - a President who seems to get this stuff. About time!

Monday, 19 January 2009

Web 2.0 Netiquette - My take on the matter,,,

On Twitter and over at his posterous blog, Liam's been asking the question - "If we were to re-write Netiquette for Web 2.0 what would it be?". Thought this was interesting and a good excuse for a post here!

First thing that occurred to me was that Netiquette is a highly nebulous concept at the best of times, both in the specifics and at a high level. For example, what's acceptable on the 4chan /b/ board would be wildly inappropriate for a comment on an internal corporate blog. It's always been hard to pin down exactly what consitutes the rules for good netiquette, and Web 2.0 has only made this harder!

However, I'm going to avoid the temptation to write a lengthy discourse on this and just put down my list of good web - whether 1.0, 2.0, or x.0 - behaviours. Please feel free to jump in with your own suggestions, or add them back to Liam's original post...

1) Don't be an idiot. Many people seem to suffer from a disturbing tendency to lose any semblence of rationality or decency when interacting with others online. Don't do this. OK, so you don't have to act like you were talking to your mother, but at least show the level of respect you'd give to a stranger you were chatting to in a bar.

2) Attack the argument, not the person. It's easy to cop out of actually answering points in a discussion by ignoring them and attacking their proponent - it must be, as politicians do it all the time. Show you're better than that, and if you can't adress the point in hand, stay quiet. This is sometimes hard when you're the target for personal attacks, but sinking to their level rarely ends well.

3) Blend in. You wouldn't go into a pub and expect to jump straight into a conversation with the bunch of regulars at the bar - yet this is what many people seem to try and do online. Wait for a while, read through the archives, lurk. That way you'll get a better idea of what people expect and won't sound like such a clueless n00b when you do write that first post.

4) Respect private correspondence. This could be controversial, but I believe that if someone emails, IMs or PMs me, they want to communicate privately. I don't believe that it's fair or right to then repeat that correspondence in a public forum, unless the sender has given permission. Posting the contents of an email in public tends to make you look bad, not the sender of the email.

(Caveat - That last one can IMO be excepted for official and impersonal correspondence from public figures, government or companies.)

I probably could go on, but that'll do for now. What I've just realised is that there's very little there that's specific to web 2.0 - it's all pretty recognisable from Usenet days. Does this matter? No, I don't think so. Basically, it all seems to be about how you interact with other people. Whether this is via Twitter, blogs or face-to-face, it's always a good idea to be nice, engage your brain and pause before you post.

So apologies Liam - not sure I've really answered the question you were asking! But it's my thoughts on the matter anyway, and as always would welcome anyone else's input...

Friday, 9 January 2009

Happy Belated New Year!

Well, it's only been 2009 for 9 days now - but what the heck, Happy New Year! I'm uncomfortably aware I've not been doing great with updating on here so it's something of a resolution to write more often. With this in mind I'm currently working on a post about software tools, their effect on users' behaviour and how this interacts with corporate culture - so watch this space!

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Faster than a speeding Wikipedia update...

Yesterday we had a fairly major change at work - many rumours were circulating, most people knew what they thought was happening but were waiting to hear about it through "official" channels. Then at about 1100, lo and behold an article appeared on the website, pretty much confirming the news.

So, I thought I'd update a particular Wikipedia page with this news item - all very properly linked back and citing the website - and thought not much more of it. I've made a few minor Wikipedia edits like this before so didn't really think it was a big deal.

The funny part came throughout the afternoon. By the time I left for the day I had heard at least 4 separate individuals at work mention the Wikipedia article, giving it far more authority than I would have expected! On further review, it seems the page is top result for an obvious Google search - suddenly all becomes clear...

Given that the only way these people could have been alerted to the Wikipedia page was through Google searches, it's a pretty dramatic example of how quickly the informational grapevine works these days. And also a surprising example of how quickly one little edit can get a great deal of attention!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Books thread...

Hello, tens of readers! (I'm being optimistic...)

I'm starting to feel a little short of reading material and thought I'd turn to the Internet for inspiration. So, recommendations please!

What do I like? Well, I'm big into SF and fantasy, but most definitely prefer books that take a realistic approach to the unbelievable, if that makes sense. Some of my favourite authors include Steven Erikson, Stephen Brust, and Neal Stephenson - don't suggest Bakker though, tried it and found it too grim for my tastes.

I'm also keen on any recommendations for any other sort of fiction, although I doubt I'd have much truck with a romance novel... I'd be interested too in your thoughts on non-fiction in any of the following areas - Photography, Travel, Knowledge Management, Generic Business Wisdom, Military History.

I hope to use this as yet very young blog to talk more about what I read in the future, so it would be great to kick off with some suggestions - please get involved! Thanks...

Bits and pieces 14 November 08

I've recently been reading "Understanding Organisations". I'm not that far in yet, but it seems a pretty accurate and pragmatic guide to human behaviour in organisations and how to deal with it. Not really had much exposure to the theory of this sort of thing, having previously just gone by personal experience and tips from blogs like Rands, so it's good starting to get stuck in to a more conceptual approach. Would appreciate any guidance on further reading material, if anybody would care to suggest anything?

On the subject of insight, I went for my first personal coaching session through my company's scheme yesterday morning. It went really well and was a fascinating example of how changing your environment or actions can help you make progress. My coach didn't offer any amazing advice or wisdom - but by helping me shift out of the worn paths of my thinking, I was able to get a new perspective on things. Very useful, and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their performance, whether in the work environment or to improve in a hobby or sport.

I'm curious about the relationship between Twitter and blog posting. The general verdict seems to be to use your blog for lengthier more essay-type pieces, whilst all the one-line links and sarcastic comments get stuck on Twitter. However, most people also seem to tweet a link to their blog postings. This approach works for me, I think, and I'll try to keep going that way. How else do people see Twitter and blogs working together though? Any other thoughts?