What are those people trying to say to me?


I have a bone to pick with those people over at wordsmith.org what are they trying to say to me. Yesterday it was ‘effete’; today it’s ‘scut’. Are they just trying to arm us all with insults or are they trying to tell us something?

I may have been feeling effete the other day, but I’m definitely not a scut.

Count Your Blessings #2

Jonathan on Spiral Stair Case

last night Jonathan and I went out for a little bit of a walk. I had been away early for a day trip down to Aldershot (on a plane thankfully) and needed to get a bit of fresh air. Sue was out leading a Network course and Emily was at the music festival, leaving Jonathan and myself. Of course we couldn’t leave straight away because there are always a few little jobs to do aren’t there. But having finished them we jumped into the car and drove up onto the Longridge Fells, hopefully to watch the sunset. Unfortunately we had to leave before it really got going because we need to be back in time for Emily.

In the car on the way back I put on a Cold Play CD (of all things) and the two of us sang along. It was great. me and my boy singing along together. It was a real time of bonding. It wasn’t all gushey, it was just two people who love each other doing something together. Jonathan is such a great kid.

Count Your Blessings #1

Emily (and Waterfall)

This week has been the Preston Schools Music Festival; Emily has had a part as a dancer – dressing up as a space-man. We went as a family on Wednesday nights. Emily was buzzing. She had this huge smile across here face and it was all she could do to not burst out giggling. The evening is held in the Guild Hall across three nights so he has been performing in front of several thousand people. They definitely got the best gig of the night dancing to a jazzed up version of the Star Wars them with everyone clapping along.

Priceless is the only word to describe an occasion like that. May even be one to bring up at some future suitably embarrassing occasion.

I love my kids they are great.

(Sorry, no pictures, we weren’t allowed)

An Approach to To-Do Lists that would even appeal to Unstructured Workers


43 Folders has this great little approach to dealing with a to-do list.

As I’ve said before, items can sometimes linger on your TODO list a lot longer than you’d like, and it can be tricky to understand exactly why that is in each case. I’m convinced cringing is often a factor.

Being that it’s Monday, and a lot of us are planning this week’s activities, why not join me in a modest exercise.

  1. Print out your TODO list (alphabetically, if possible)
  2. Read it over—beginning to end
  3. Go back and circle each item that makes you cringe, or that causes you some kind of existential angst
  4. Per cringe item, think honestly about why you’re freaked out about it. Seriously. What’s the hang-up? (Fear of failure? Dreading bad news? Angry you’re already way overdue?)
  5. Now, again, per cringe item, add a new TODO that will a) make the loathsome task less cringe-worthy, or b) just get the damned thing done
  6. Cross the original cringe items off your list
  7. Work immediately on the new, cringe-busting TODO

If you could do this for just one item on your TODO list today, wouldn’t you be a little better off? Is there a quick call you could make, a draft you could edit, an email you could return, or some other piddling 2-minute task that would plane some cringe off of your hated tasks?

Imagine if you did this today for five items on your list. Now imagine you began each Monday with a Cringe Bust. Might be a handy way to pick off old items and let some unnecessary anxiety out of your working week.

(For extra credit, find the item on your list that’s been making you cringe for the longest. Anybody else turning up items that have been inducing cringes for over a month? Ouch. I suck.)

I like this approach because it appeals to the semi-structured/unstructured Graham Chastney. I’m definitely not one of these people who can look as a to-do list and prioritise it and then work through in priority order. It just doesn’t appeal and it’s in that word that the true me is revealed. There are loads of other tasks that may be more important but that just isn’t enough, they have to appeal in some way or another. And I’m OK with a philosophy that defines one of the factors as the cringe factor. Of course I also assess my to-do lists from other appeal factors.

  • Is this task interesting?
  • Does this task have value (as defined by me of course)?
  • Is this task for someone I like working with (because I don’t suffer fools)?
  • What is the reward for this task (that is rewards to me of course)?
  • Do I know that in completing this task that I will just get another one given to me (so actually there isn’t any point in completing this one)?
  • Do I think that if I don’t do this task the reason t do it will just disappear (as so many do)?
  • What is the pain involved in not doing this task (because life isn’t without pain anyway)?
  • Is this task overdue yet (because I don’t need to worry about it if it isn’t)?

Yes I know this list should be something more like:

  • Is this task of value to the company?
  • Has this task been requested by my superior?

Tough, it doesn’t. Those two narrow factors just don’t appeal. And yes I really do believe that my employee should give me tasks that appeal (if they want the best out of me).

Home Working Productivity Assessment – Stalled

Children's Play AreaMy home working productivity assessment has stalled because of a complete lack of days in the office in a ‘normal’ way. I have been doing a little bit of travelling or my working day has been interrupted by some other external event (need to go to the doctors for instance). Thought I would give you an update though because I am not going to be in the office for the rest of this week and next week I am on holiday.

Feeling Effete – Feeling Joyful

Another glorious sunset

Sometimes life conspires to make you feel a bit low. That’s me today. I try to broaden my mind so subscribe to wordsmith.ord word of the day; today’s word is effete:

effete (i-FEET) adjective

1. Worn out; no longer fertile or productive.

2. Weak, ineffectual.

3. Marked by decadence or self-indulgence.

4. Effeminate.

I have also been to the doctors this morning because I have a number of aches and pains. I am currently suffering from a sore ankle, lower back and shoulders. These things make me feel old (I’m only in my 30’s). While there we get into the classic conversation.

Doctor: “Let me look at the ankle first. That look like a form of tendenitus, it needs resting. What exercise do you do?”

Me: “Tennis once a week and walking most days, I try and get my 10,000 steps in” (the 10,000 steps a day is a big initiative in the UK encouraging people to be more aerobic)

Doctor: “Well I’m sorry Graham but you are going to have to give it a rest for a month. Now lets look at your back. Well your biggest problem their is your posture.”

Me: “Yes I know I don’t have good posture, that’s why I try and walk daily because my posture is good when I walk and that gives everything a break and a chance to straighten out.”

Doctor: “You also need to loose some weight”

Me: “Yes I know I do, but it’s a struggle which is why I try and exercise regularly”

Doctor: “Yes”

Me: “Is there some kind of exercise I can do which my ankle will be OK with but will still be aerobic”

Doctor: “No not really”

That’s about the point that the conversation break down because we are clearly in a cyclical argument. Doing exercise is a problem, not doing exercise is a problem. I’m clearly effete.

However; the Bible says that “the joy of the Lord is your strength” so I’m not going to sit and wallow in my effete because I know that I am rich beyond my wildest dreams and that makes me joyful. Now I know that some of you who know me might find that difficult to believe but I am, really. Actually the other day I was in Tesco and God showed me something and it was all I could do not to burst out laughing.

Another Car Metaphor – Security and Servicing

Rusty Fence

Mary Jo Foley has been commenting on Microsoft’s OneCare (A1) initiative and stating:

What do you think? Will Windows users — consumer and/or corporate — flock to Windows OneCare? Or will Microsoft have to go back to the drawing board, as it did with Hailstorm, to find a more palatable way to sell subscription services to its users?

I’m not actually going to seek to answer that question here, but I am intrigued by our view on these things. Many people seem to be inferring that because Microsoft have created the problem perhaps they should fix it for free. While out walking this lunchtime the madness of this situation occurred to me.

Those of us who drive cars expect to have to service it, some of us can service a car on our own, but the number of us capable of doing that is reducing all of the time. Most of us take our car into a garage, in doing so we have a choice. We can go to the manufacturers dealer or we can go to an independent garage. In car servicing we expect two things, we expect the mechanic to look after our car and try to ensure that it isn’t going to break down in the near future; we also expect the mechanic to undertake any safety work on the vehicle. Just because Ford have made a car with tyres that wear-out doesn’t mean that we expect Ford to come and replace them for free every six months. If we don’t change the tyres you can be fairly sure that we will have a crash at some time in the future. For me security software on PC’s (anti-virus, firewall, ad-ware, etc.) are just another mechanism of delivering safety servicing. Some people will choose to do the safety servicing themselves, some will choose an independent garage, others will choose the manufacturers dealer.

Carrying this metaphor forward. We all know that an independent garage will give us a cheaper service than the manufacturers dealer. Yet, millions of cars are serviced at manufacturers dealers every year. Why? Well some of it has got to do with warranty. Some of it has got to do with bulk deals. Some of it has got to do with the ‘peace of mind’ that a manufacturers dealer can provide. In offering security servicing, perhaps Microsoft could learn a lesson or two here.

While I’m on a role, lets push it a bit further. In the UK you have to submit your car to an annual test (MOT) for safety. Other countries have a similar thing. Cars also get tested before they are allowed out onto the road. Don’t you think it’s about time we did a similar thing for the IT industry. “Your IT equipment can stay on the network for another 12 months as long as it has got to this standard of safety”

And then finally. There is a roundabout near me called Ladyewell Roundabout. There is something wrong with the way that the road is built there. I don’t know what it is because I’ve never been caught, but most days someone has. In travelling from the motor-way towards the local Asda something makes cars carry straight on straight into a bunch of trees rather than moving further around the roundabout and staying on the road. If the road is the network in our metaphor perhaps we should try and make sure that all of the roads/networks are safe for vehicles/PC’s that adhere to the safety tests.