That was close

Maize MazeWas nearly caught off guard this morning. Going through the hundreds of emails from a two week break I came across one from Pay Pal asking me to update my details.

Clicked on the link and was about to start filling in the details when I noticed that lower down the page they wanted my PIN number. Umm, no-one is getting my PIN number on-line.

Did a little more checking and discovered that it was a bogus site. Phew, hadn’t entered anything.

Fortunately I was just about awake enough to notice. I have always been on the guard for such things but have never seen them before, but today was the exception.

Count Your Blessings #13 – Lake Swimming

Buttermere

Today is the first ‘real’ day of our holidays.

The actual first day was yesterday, but a holiday never quite feels like a holiday until I have actually woken up in a place.

This morning we woke up to a gloriously sunny day in Keswick and dressed for church. One of the really nice things about Sue’s Mum and Dad’s house is that it is in walking distance of church (we normally have to drive) and on a sunny day like today that was fabulous. We arrived at an early (so we thought) 10:15, only to discover that they had recently moved church earlier to 10:15. The place was packed because it’s the Keswick Convention. It was Steve Brady, who is always really good.

Having been to church we grabbed a sandwich and set off to walk around Buttermere. We all love Buttermere, there is something about the place that is both restful and awesome. We also planned for a bit of a paddle and perhaps a bit of a swim, so had the backpacks full of enough gear to allow everyone to get thoroughly wet.

GrahamHalf way around we paddled in a waterfall. At the end of the lake we watched the local shepherd bringing the sheep down for shearing and grabbed a well deserved ice-cream. Just before the tunnel at Hassness we stopped for a proper paddle, and all got changed to go in for a swim.

By this time Emily was absolutely bursting with excitement. Jonathan was equally as excited but at 13 is trying to show it in a more adult way (and not doing too good a job of it yet, thankfully).

So in we went, straight in, well not actually because lakes in the UK aren’t very warm. The kids always go in first and try to fool us by saying that it’s not cold. Their faces always tell a completely different story. Despite the cold (and it wasn’t that cold) in we went; in deep; in over our heads; in out of our depth.

One of the challenges with swimming in Buttermere is that it slopes off dramatically; at 45 degrees down into a 20 metre deep abyss. Within 5 metres it’s too deep for any of us to stand.

It is cold, it is clear and it is glorious.

EmilyNow to those of you who might be thinking something along the lines of “But Graham isn’t that a bit dangerous, you’ve got young children” I have this to say – life is an adventure, live a little. In order to live a little you need to adventure a little. Much of life in the UK seems to be about squeezing the adventure out, but all that does is remove the life from it.

A swim in a lake that is surrounded by glorious mountains, trees, rocks and lake, is a treasure of great value. Doing it with my loved ones multiplies the value to make it a treasure beyond value.

Count Your Blessings #12 – Marriage

Graham & Sue ready to dance

Today is Sue and I’s wedding anniversary. 

On a warm sunny summers Saturday 16 years ago Sue and I were married at Crosthwaite Parish Church in Keswick. It was a fabulous day, but only the start of many more fabulous days which have followed it.

Sue and I have been through all sorts of good times and bad times – together. And that is the purpose of marriage – together. Not as individuals, but as a couple.

We have known what it is like to be absolutely penniless, and to see God provide.

We have known what it is like to experience child birth.

We have known what it is like to watch children grow and mature.

We have known what it is like to be hurt by those we thought were our friends.

We have known what it is like to buy and to move house.

We have known what it is like to see God move in ours’ and other’s lives.

We have known what it is like to make dramatic carrier decisions.

We have known what it is like to struggle with sickness.

We have known what it is like to have money.

We have known what it is like to have been married long enough to need a knew bed.

And many many more things we have known – together.

Every year about this time the Keswick Convention draws a few thousand Christians together. Tomorrow, Sue and I, Jonathan and Emily will be getting into our car and heading there again. Each year that we go it’s a bit like a renewing of our marriage vows because it occurs so close to our Anniversary, but also because it expresses in so many ways what Sue and I are about.

Holiday

Graham's Pudding

Today is my last day at work for 2 weeks – hooray.

We are off visiting family for most of that time. I will be taking the laptop so may well be writing some musing, but as family seem to live anywhere where there isn’t a hot-spot and I can’t stand the thought of using dial-up they will all get posted on my return.

Stu: Career Direction and the Impact on End Users

Field Grasses

Stu makes a load of really good comments on the way that technical people move further and further away from the end-user experience as they move through there career – the the detriment of the end-user:

What I see from my position as a Lotus collaboration specialist is the way enterprise support, design and engineering teams are structured. Everyone clammers for technical progression up the career ladder and to get away from 1st and 2nd line helpdesk calls (“I’ve forgotten my password”, “I’ve deleted all my emails” etc.)

But what I also see is that once up that technical career ladder there is then little attention paid to the end user tools but much attention paid to the back end server performance and functionality.

This has started to worry me somewhat as the main impact we have with our users is through the software on their desktop, they don’t care what the server is at the back end as long as it delivers what they want. I’m not putting the argument that back end engineering is trivial and unecessary but I am saying that more attention needs to be paid to the user.

Personally I’m on a journey back to the end-user experience. I’m trying to get to a position where I expect the server infrastructure to do what it should do and enable certain user experiences in a way that is usable and intuitive. Getting people to change the way they work is so much harder than changing the technology.

Does nerdism run in the family?

Nettle

Just to provide that I’m not the only nerd in my family:

The hunting of the Snark

Consideration of the formal semantics of APL particularised to consideration of the unusual properties of the null expression. It was something of a surprise to discover that these properties had already been fully documented 100 years ago by Lewis Carroll (Cal). Since that opus is not normally a part of the lore of APL, this paper attempts to re-interpret the original findings in 20th century terminology. APL has a number of objects which are, in some sense, null or empty – two empty vectors, multitudinous other empty arrays, undefined objects and local variables with names but no values. There is at least one other null entity. It has no name, and it has no value. Worse yet, it is denoted by the empty string, and is therefore not easily seen.

Philip R Chastney

Philip is my uncle…

IT skills crisis looms – and outsourcing won't help

Early Leaves

silicon.com has a report today on the situation with Europe’s IT resources titled “IT skills crisis looms – and outsourcing won’t help”, based on a Forrester Research report. For me the most telling statements are:

Forrester senior analyst Richard Peynot said: “All the evidence indicates that Europe faces a serious risk of a shortage of IT skills and Forrester believes that companies need to take action now to support long-term IT competency needs and to pay close attention to the implications of renewed competition for the best talents.”

For what I see though the IT industry is actually heading in completely the opposite direction and reducing training. the logic seems to go something like this “we don’t need to give someone technical training because those jobs are going abroad and all of these IT people already have some business experience”. In my experience most IT people struggle to relate to business issues. Most IT people are in the job for the technology, not for the business benefit that it delivers. The ones who get a buzz from seeing a business change are the minority, and it’s those skills that the IT industry is going to need in increasing numbers over the coming years.

The technical jobs are inevitably going off-shore because they really can be done remotely. The jobs that need to be done intimately with the customer can’t be done remotely (yet).