Sunday, 27 July 2014

Thought Picnic: Fan, shit and table

Like Line-Management 101
One of the functions of a line-manager is to know how to ensure that the skills pool does not suffer the inconvenience of indispensability.
It is important that a team has experts, knowledgeable people whom we can trust to get things done, yet, it is essential that the expert does not become someone we cannot do without.
That means, there should be someone else able to do whatever the expert does, maybe not as neatly or as quickly, maybe needing some help and guidance, though not necessarily poise to replace the expert, only being there to backfill if necessary.
Continuing Line-Management 101
Part of this line-manager activity is having the resource to get a job that usually gets done by their team available when that job needs to be done, with caveats obviously about the alacrity and finesse. One often needful element is to ensure that the experts document all their procedures and processes, should in case, someone needs to act in the expert’s stead.
A line-manager would have somewhat failed in their responsibility if at the point of need, they have failed to adequately provide resource to fulfil a requirement that all they have is excuses that would adversely affect an operational activity.
Fan, shit and no table – Line-Management failure
At this point, the shit might well hit the fan in an uncomfortable escalation, the line-manager having poorly provided for the consequence, in not having a table to hide under when the shit starts flying.
Sometime ago in an exchange with a colleague, I wrote a rather tersely worded email when it seemed to be looking for who to blame rather than take responsibility for what he was tasked to do. “I cover my arse by doing my job rather than by looking for someone to blame, you should try to do that too.”
The response was a protest, but he had not hiding place, he was exposed just as a line-manager can be exposed by avoidable personnel management flaws.
So there …


Thought Picnic: Simplicity is key

Simplicity is design
Working in Information Technology roles for over 25 years, you come away with a lot of insights and experiences that hopefully forms the body of knowledge that I carry with me anywhere my services are engaged.
What gets to me most about environments that have pre-existing implementations I either need to support or update is the simple things that administrators and architects fail to put in place to make support accessible and easy.
Fundamental design thinking that means you only have to go digging when necessary, I prefer to make process chains as visible as possible, this could be down to simple naming conventions that link different processes together that you easily know what connects to the other thing by simple viewing of an administrative console.
Simplicity in security
One other thing I have learnt working in multinational environments is never to create administrative or common use passwords comprised of keyboard characters that change locations on the keyboard depending on the language.
Then, security, I have tended to call them the security Taliban because they seem to forget that their function is to facilitate access rather than restrict access. Yet, what you encounter in many environments are walls and restrictions that excites the ingenuity of the humanity to find and dig tunnels are circumvent these restrictions.
Simplicity and simple
I always have the mind of always designing in such a way that users do not end up crafting breakouts or hacks to obliterate or replace my design. In essence, whilst this reads like a technical blog, the goal of what I do is to create simplicity from implementation through to ease of use.
I never try to reinvent the wheel, rather, I find ways to get a smooth ride, I’ll work on the road. This is the essence of keeping it simple, using the wealth of experience to take the complicated out of everyday things and finding the simplicity that allows others to carry on from where I left off.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Thought Picnic: A weighty bother

What great bother
As I close on half a century of life, I have begun to bother about things that did not concern me much until recently.
In general, I am not given to exertion if I can help it, I can tire easily, yet if I am engaged in some serious mental task, I can keep awake and alert for as long as it takes to satisfy myself that things are in hand.
The last time I sported a rectus abdominis muscle look, I was on chemotherapy having lost a quarter of my weight, that is what cancer and the treatment for cancer does to you.
The weight of gratitude
I have regained all that weight which if I was still seeing my consultant in the Netherlands would have made him happy and more, but it does not fill me with any comfort that I am close to the heaviest I have ever been.
On my consultant in the Netherlands, I was quite apprehensive after the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash because he could easily have been one of the experts to attend the International AIDS conference in Melbourne, Australia.
I was glad to read that he was fine, yet saddened by the loss of one of his very close colleagues Joep Lange, whose expertise within the highly-skilled team and the body of knowledge that addressed my illness saved my life.
Between Jim and the gym
We have a matter to hand, it is concerns about my weight and obviously that relates directly and superficially to my body.
I would rather I was at least 10 kilograms lighter than I weigh now, and that is the difference between going to see Jim and going to the gym. I do wonder what motivation I need to regain control of my weight and to do that well before I begin to lose confidence in myself because of my looks.
This issue hits you daily, in advertisements that fill our television screens where just the blemish on the skin or the hair growing naturally, but in what we have been programmed to consider the wrong place becomes the whole difference between being ourselves or trying to be someone else.
It is a bother
Thankfully, I have not reached the point of wanting to be someone else, I just want to be a better version of me in thought, in outlook and hopefully, in looks too.
That an estate agent never expected me to be the age I am, but much younger, is a compliment, but compliments do not work off the flab, rather it serves to complement the comfort of doing nothing and thereby tipping the scales on the wrong side – usually, yours.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Thought Picnic: It's my turn

But now it's my turn,
If I don't have all the answers,
At least I know,
I'll take my share of chances,
Ain’t no use of holding on,
When nothing stays the same.
From It’s My Turn - written by Carole Bayer Sager (lyrics) and Michael Masser (music) for Diana Ross.
Stand bold
This part of that beautiful song simply exemplifies a view of life that I have, the fact that one should take control of one’s life for changes and chances that present themselves.
Speaking to a long term friend who intimated that he was putting his house in order for posterity, he left me with one of those pieces of advice that lasts a lifetime.
Some twenty years ago, he said to me, “Never be embarrassed to ask for what you as an adult should not be ashamed to demand.”
Stand sure
As I talked of uncertainties that moderate my adventurism, he said I had been through enough to know how to make wise choices and he believed I always made the right choices. However, he also said I needed to free myself from the encumbrances of societal mores that limits my expression, my expectations and my abilities.
Wiser as I have become and hopefully more wiser as I go, I constantly take my share of chances, learning better acceptance of myself getting to the point where the pursuit of happiness would care less for what anyone thinks about what one desires for love and for life.
As nothing stays the same, we must change, adapt, review, renew, relive and rejoice in the blessing of life we have, but this can only happen when we get to the point that we can boldly say, “It’s my turn”.
It’s my turn
I can't cover up my feelings
In the name of love
Or play it safe
For a while that was easy
And if living for myself
Is what I'm guilty of
Go on and sentence me
I'll still be free
It's my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you'll understand
This time's just for me
Because it's my turn
With no apologies
I've given up the truth
To those I've tried to please
But now it's my turn
If I don't have all the answers
At least I know
I'll take my share of chances
Ain't no use of holding on
When nothing stays the same
So I'll let it rain
'Cause the rain ain't gonna hurt me
And I'll let you go
'Though I know it won't be easy
It's my turn
With no more room for lies
For years I've seen my life
Through someone else's eyes
And now it's my turn
To try and find my way
And if I should get lost
At least I'll own today
It's my turn
Yes, it's my turn
And there ain't no use in holding on
When nothing stays the same
So I'll let it rain
'Cause the rain ain't gonna hurt me
And I'll let you go
'Though I know it won't be easy
It's my turn
To see what I can see
I hope you'll understand
This time's just for me
Because it's my turn
To turn and say goodbye
I sure would like to know
That you're still on my side
Because it's my turn
It's my turn
It's my turn
To start from number one
Trying to undo
Some damage that's been done
But now it's my turn
To reach and touch the sky
No one's gonna say
At least I didn't try
It's my turn
Yes, it's my turn
It's my turn
It's my turn
It's my turn


Saturday, 19 July 2014

Opinion: This is a time for outrage at the direct hits

A hypothetical
If the presumed BUK surface-to-air missile system shot from the territory of pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine had whizzed past Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, it might have been reported sighted and considered a near-miss with some expressing a bit of outrage at such a reckless activity.
Alas! It was a direct hit and with it 298 souls were lost, the consequence of which should have precipitated such outrage at the needless, careless and atrocious waste of human life wrought by bungling rebels with Russia's support.
Then again
Down in the Middle East, literally all the rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, whilst terrifying and capable of causing carnage with the loss of life and damage to goods and property, they are in their thousands, near misses. We must for all intents and purposes express outrage at the crude militancy that is no match to Israel’s firepower and organisation.
Then, you watch the missiles fired from Israel into Gaza that has no defence weaponry, literally every missile has been a direct hit, whether intentional or not, people are losing their lives in the hundreds and this calls for widespread outrage, because of the carnage caused, that is presented as a defence.
Between terror and killings
Now, I can understand the terror of missiles coming into Israeli cities, terrifying all, young and old; the government needs to have some strategy and game plan to deal with this nuisance, though I have my doubt that even with the incursion into Gaza, the missiles can be stopped entirely, for there is a deep-seated issue of unrest that is not been addressed towards achieving peace for Israel and its neighbours.
Yet, the terrified can be becalmed, for near-misses belie a stark reality along with a sense of survival. Direct hits are a different story, the people are dead and that is the end of their story.
Blood for fear barbarity
The exchange system between Israel and Palestine of avenging fear within the borders of Israel with the blood of Palestinians in their cooped-up regions as they are ring-fenced from Israel with settlements, borders and walls cannot be the roadmap to peace for all concerned.
What has developed is escalating belligerence with no prospect of peace on the horizon. More pertinently, until we are ready to express unbiased outrage at the needless loss of life anywhere in the world and make perpetrators of the killings accountable for their actions, we acquiesce and grant immunity for more impunity to those have taken the level of their lawless activities to an unspeakable level of atrocious violence.
We must condemn the near-misses, but the direct hits must attract the sternest criticism from all fair-minded members of our humanity as well unmitigated outrage.