May 16

Uncertainty continues

Great. I’ve not had a job for the last few weeks, or rather, I should say, the whole company has been re-organising, it’s finally got to our section and since the middle of April everyone has been in limbo in that all roles are being opened up and you have to re-apply for your job. The uncertainty was supposed to close down last week at the end of the consultation period, but not yet it seems. Just came into work to see a bulletin that for the level above me it is complete and they can now go put names into the roles. For my level and all there others, the unions and employee groups have requested another 2 weeks. Oh well….

Apr 12

Jobs..or not

lovely announcement, lots and lots of organisation charts. The only problem is you can’t tell whether a role on an org chart is yours or not, and it’s unlikely to get clearer for a few weeks. So don’t know if my role continues or not, and also don’t know if there are other opportunities or not. Uncertainty..I just love it!!!

Apr 10

Timing is everything

The company has been undergoing some fairly major restructuring over the last 3 months. Ther have been multiple re-organisations of teams and markets and now it is the turn of my area, the IS function, and we have the big meeting on Tuesday. But they still have to work on communication a little – in my my mind it would have been far better to send out the notice for the meeting at 8.45 on Monday morning than at 4.45 on Friday evening

Mar 22

Getting things together

Today, I finally got some news about some stuff that has been going on at work for a while.

Blogging Policy

When I started this, I asked at work about their policy for blogging. The answer – ‘what’s a blog?’ After explaining, the next reaction was no. No employee should blog at all, it wopuld only cause problems if they mentioned anything that could possibly cause an issue. So a few months of gentle explanations, discussion and asking again and again, I’ve finally got confirmation that blogging is now recognised in both the HR and the security policies of the company, which are being re-issued next month. So I can blog (but not during company time), I can discuss incidents at work that affect me (avoiding libel etc) but I cannot refer directly to the company, its commercial direction or anything that may relate to strategy. Guess that’s fair – and far better than where I started.

Test Computers

The next good news was confirmation that I can finally get some test computers. We have a good security policy, plus standard PC builds (reducing IS support costs) But I work with websites which means I need to test on multiple browsers and without firewalls/proxies causing connection issues or blocking content. So the solution is to provide us a PCs that will not connect to the company network at all, but access direct. I can do what I need to, but there’s no support available at all for them

This takes me back a little. Ten years ago I convinced my then manager to let me have access to the internet from work. Given the ‘experimental’ nature of this at the time I had to have a non-networked PC, in a locked room with controlled access. Of course, the IS team wanted to charge me 3 days work to load the software and train me on it! Once that was sorted, I did actually manage to use the access to get me valuable research 🙂

Mar 03


Came into work this morning to an email from a colleague – ‘Help’ – it said. ‘I’ve arranged a whisky tasting session this evening, there are 30 people turning up and I’m not there (he’s currently in Miami)..can you do it?’. Given the numberof favours he’s done me in the past I had to say yes. So 5 hours entertaining a group of wine and spirit traders after a very long and hard day. They seemed to enjoy it – me, I’m going to regret this.

Mar 03

Working Late

I’m going to have to stop working late. Working late means that it takes me a while to wind down, therefore I watch TV, therefore I end up watching random Channel 5 shows on the US porn business and Floridians who do extremely silly stunts to try and get themselves killed!

Feb 27

Travel and Airports

I was in the US earlier this week, staying in New Jersey and Connecticut. I flew in to Newark for the first time – quite impressed with the airport. Only took about 30 minutes to get to where i was staying – Summit. A colleague of mine had landed at a similar time but at La Guardia airport; he hired a car and then drove to the hotel. unfortunately it had started snowing at this point and the last 30 miles were covered at an average speed of 10 miles an hour – next time he’ll ask for a 4WD! Needless to say we did not end up meeting for a drink, but met up for a late breakfast. There’s been 6 inches of snow over the night, so a late start after the snowplows was the best course of action.

I spent the next 2 days up in Norwalk, Connecticut. The company has just moved from Stamford, so there is a brand new office, very nicely put together. However, the hotels are not as good and I’ll have to see what the local restaurants are like the next time I visit.

I flew back through JFK – and security there just drives me crazy everytime. In the UK, there’s usually a person at the start of the screening, making sure you get the boxes, do the right things, take off your coat etc. At JFK, I think they expect everyone to have telepathy and be able to intuit exactly what set of rules they are follwing today. Coats on or off. Laptops out of bag or leave it in. Shoes on or off. There’s no guidance and as there’s never anyone at the start of the process, no one to ask. So if you guess wrong, you go back to the start, holding everyone up, causing longer lines than they have already. I always come out of that process feeling completely pissed off, even though I know it’s going to happen. So I scream silently to myself, smile at the security team who only seem to have half an eye on proceedings and just carry on to the plane where I can finally get some sleep

Jan 25


Lost various methods of connecting today at work and for a while had to go back to using IE instead of Firefox (IE is the default user to had all the connectivity rules tied in with whatever networking rules they have). Led to a few minutes trying to remember which button does what! Plus the realisation that this blog has layout issues on IE 5.5. on NT! Am I going to fix it? Maybe, but not the highest priority – the content is still perfectly readable.

Jan 12


A huge global re-organanisation was announced at work yesterday. It looks like out team is not directly affected, we had a good re-ordering not so long ago. So it’s business as usual whilst being extra careful around people that may be affected.

Jan 05

Back to work

Work is back with a vengence. Yesterday was pretty quiet, just catching up with holiday stories; today – back to being full on with lots of stuff happening. Started off withthe boss calling at 8.40 and catching up for nearly an hour before moving into basically non-stop meetings and doc prep for until nearly 8. Lovely – when’s the next holiday?

Dec 09

Christmas Parties

We had our team Christmas party yesterday. First of all, spent all day at a team meeting before going out and partying all night.

The day was all about project governance; the team all works in IS projects and this was the next step in making usre everyine is working in the same. I was prsenting for a section and nothing was a surprise, so it was a little boring. However, it apepared to have been less boring than most people were expecting – got good feedback about it. We only had a short day anyway, as we did not start until 10am

After this, we went to the hotel to get ready before the buses picked us up. There’s 24 in the team, so enough to have a good party atmosphere. We were in Milton Keynes and were due to party at the Milton Keynes Bowl, with one of the typical corporate evetns that take place around Christmas.

As usaul there was mixed efforts in the dress/style of the team, but most people were in party frocks or DJs. When we got to the place, it was done up a treat – a great marquee with Christmas lights and plenty of room. There were about 100 people in the place, and the theme (of the entertainment and decoration anyway) was of Russia.

The food was good, the wine was plentiful and the post-dinner entertainment was fun. They had fair rides – the Dodgems was brilliant. Spent some time playing blackjack and roulette before spending the rest of the evening dancing. I was good with the wine, although not every one was. We finally got back around 1.30, and some continued with the drinking. Me – I went to bed. There were plenty of sore heads this morning; this is when I felt good when having to face all of today meetings!.

Dec 05


Interesting to see that IBM may be pulling out of the Personal PC market. (With link provided by Doc Searl). At work, we partner with IBM for all hardware and infrastructure requirements and are in the midst of a global rollout to replace everyone’s PC with a T42 Thinkpad. Let’s hope it gets finished in time if they are going to stop making them. Then I guess we will have the support issue where our contracted support partner no longer supports the hardware they have implemented. Lovely 😉

Nov 25


I put in a little people watching whilst sitting in the lounge at Edinburgh airport tonight. The predominate occupant was male and in a dark suit. Realised how unusual that is in our office, where casual clothes are the norm and if someone does turn up in a suit they are either presenting in front of the board or have an interview somewhere.

Nov 25

The Power of a Positive Attitide

A day off work…hooray! Sort of.

Spent today at a a seminar up in Edinburgh, put on by the IMS Scotland, by a motivational speaker called Ed Foreman. It was all about having a positive attitude and how this can improve your life.

This was booked for me by my previous boss last January…no consultation or ‘development’ planning, just an email telling me date and time. So now, with a new boss and 2 new team colleagues, there was a little surprise at this…the question was why? So a good reflection on my current team dynamics!

Got there 2 minutes before the start time – BA flight delays – to find around 150 people from all types of Scottish business, sitting in a large, stuffy room, on hard chairs and no daylight. Did not bode well for me to keep awake for the day after a 5am wakeup.

The first challenge was understanding the speaker – a New Mexican/Texan accent combined with a rapid rate of delivery made it necessary to concentrate very hard for about the first hour until the accent started to make sense.

The day was a combination of lectures, anecdotes, ‘life plans’, sound bites and standing up and chanting motovational statements in unison. There was nothing new, most of the principles I’ve covered before, in other team building days, yoga clases and other means of study. They can be summarised in 2 key points:

– choose your attitude every day
– think positive, act positive, be positive

But the guy was a good speaker, knew enough stories and funnies to keep everyone focused and laughinh and had enough practical tips to be meaningful – guess that’s why he makes a living out of this. The ‘mind-controlling relaxation’ was great; I definitely fell asleep at this bit but was a lot more awake a the end of it.

Will it make a differenc – not sure. Need to think positively about it….

We did get one freebie though. Usually he gives out bags with Terrfic printed on them; however the last time he was in Scotland, he got taking to someone who thought that Scots were too dour to ever use the word Terrific, but instead may, if they were feeling really good, just about stretch to a different phrase – so that is what we got on the bag.


Nov 22

Long hours again

A new project is happening and I spent most of the day on phone calls. Only really got to produce something concreate after normal hours – and then had to write up a lot of today’s calls. I’m waiting for Thursday and Friday now – the US are off for Thanksgiving and I won’t be having late calls or coming into an inbox full of emails.

Should be fun though – some real opportunties!

Nov 10

RSS, podcasts and PMCs

Seemed to spend the day talking enthusiastically about blogs, RSS feeds and podcasts to my boss and a few other team members. And then setting them up with Newsgator and iPodder so that they can access the information. Two new converts to this type of information feed.

Now my boss wants to work out how, or if, we can use this, for some of the brand sites we have. I can definitely see its use in some of them (and the audience) but the only problem is…the lawyers. This type of content is made for quick, rapid use, getting it out there in real time. When I work in the alcohol industry, getting anything anywhere in the public domain has to run through three teams of lawyers and can take 5 days or more. Challenges ahead, to smoothline these processes to be able to use it in a useful way.

Listening to the Podcasting session from BloggerConIII, I was struck by the comment about how the techs make great products and then the lawyers come in and, err…challenge it? All our marketing information is vetted by lawyers – it kind of goes with the industry. But reviewing and approving a 30 second TV commercial or a bilboard ad has a different approach to multiple batches of content on a website, that, and this is sometime the scary part for them, can link out to other sites and can be linked to from anywhere.

So over the last 18 months there has been a huge learning curve in our legal teams and we are now geting reasonable turnarounds and great co-operation. The teams are becoming educated in requirements and possibilities and we’ve moved away from one team giving contradictory advice to another – and it was always advice, we could never get information up front as the medium was in development.

Where was I going? Corporate blogs, marketing blogs, making money out of blogs. I doubt I’ll see a corporate blog in my company, at least in the near future. I doubt we’ll ever sponsor/provide money to a blogger to comment onthe products, or the events, or the venues – no control over content. We could however utilise the tools and technology to as ways of providing content through to consumers.