Posted on December 5th, 2013 4 comments
It’s fair to say I came pretty late to podcasts. Between my music collection and the radio I was pretty generally entertained in any scenario where I had the opportunity to listen to something.
However after having a variety of podcasts recommended to me (and Radio 1 deciding they don’t want me as part of their audience) podcasts are now my primary in car entertainment.
Having your own personally curated radio station is perfect for whiling away the miles on any journey!
Since my first foray into podcast listening was through recommendation so in no particular order here’s what I’ve got on my phone at the moment.
Welcome To Night Vale – This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but if you “get” it then it’s very entertaining. It’s the community radio station for the fictional town of Night Vale where the weird, wonderful and terrifying are mundane and routine.
Freakonomics Radio – A companion to the book that “explores the hidden side of everything”. This is one of my favourites as it puts a different spin on a variety of topics. A great example is the show they did around car parking. Sounds dull but was one of the most interesting things I’d heard in ages!
This American Life – This is a recent addition but one I’m hooked on. First-person stories and short fiction pieces that are touching, funny, and surprising. One of the first couple of episodes I listened to had me welling up in the car!
The Bugle – satirical news podcast. That’s enough to describe it! Has me in stiches every week as John Oliver and Andy Zaltzman slaughter the weeks events.
The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show – very geek culture orientated (just how I like it!) but in depth interviews with a ton of interesting people from the world of geek.
Wired.co.uk Podcast – Complementary podcast to the Wired UK magazine and it’s accompanying website. Takes a look at the weekly events in the world of science, technology and business.
RadioLab – very similar to This American Life. They take a concept and dig up interviews and stories around that theme. Some very powerful stories make for compelling listening.
Stuff You Should Know – Very cool. With titles like “How werewolves work” and “How Guide Dogs Work” this is pretty self explanatory.
Richard Herring Leicester Square Theatre Podcast – or as all the cool kids are calling it RHLSTP! Richard Herring chats with the biggest names in comedy and entertainment in only the way Richard Herring can! Serious and ridiculous in equal measure. his is podcast where Stephen Fry revealed he’d once tried to take his own life.
Friday Night Comedy From Radio 4 – Alternating between The News Quiz and The Now Show.Comical look at the weeks events. I listened to these shows before I started listening to podcasts. Now I don’t miss any!”"
Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project – Adam Savage from MythBusters fame! Primarily about the “maker community” but frequently talks about movies, comics and similar subjects. Adam tells really interesting stories so I enjoy it even if it’s not a topic I’m specifically interested in.
Radio 4 Comedy of Week – A weekly comedy program from Radio 4 with a variety of different shows and comedians.
CIAOPS Need to Know Podcast – Small Business Community stalwart, SharePoint and Office 365 expert Robert Crane regularly interviews a variety of people from around the world who are involved in SMB IT. Always informative!
I’ve also got some other new podcasts that are queued up for to listen to or I’ve only just added – I’ll likely update this list once I’ve listened to them properly.
Wired Storyboard (RSS)
Richard Tubb also has a “Recommended Podcasts for IT Business Owners” list which is well worth a look.
Is there anything you’re listening to I’m missing out on?
Posted on November 1st, 2013 1 comment
Earlier in the month I wrote about my thoughts on the decision I’d be making for replacing my phone.
You probably figured it out already from the title though…
I’ve ended my long running association with Windows Phone and gone with the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Unfortunately, as with the Surface RT I mentioned recently the current state of the app store is hard to deal with. Too many apps either never arrive, are poorer versions of their iOS and Android equivalents or are just too late to the party. The Instagram app is due imminently for example when everyone else has had it for a long time.
Instragram is a good example to use actually. Mrs P has been an iPhone user for some time and there are a ton of photos of my own children I’d never seen because they are day to day shots she takes and shares on Instagram. I miss plenty of things on Vine too as it’s meant to be used pretty much entirely through the app.
I know those are two specific examples but on the gaming front WordsWithFriends and DrawSomething had come and gone as crazes go before the Windows Phone versions were available.
I’ve only been using it for a week or so but I’ve already come across a couple apps that just aren’t available on Windows Phone that I’m becoming attached to. Live Scores Addicts is a particular favourite. And the Richard Tubb recommended DoggCatcher has fulfilled my podcasting needs and is used daily.
So the phone itself.
I was tempted to wait for the Nexus 5 but I ran out of time waiting for the official announcements as there were other people at work waiting on a phone upgrade.
The Nexus 5 was annoyingly announced as I was writing this. It looks very nice indeed!
As phones go it’s pretty big but it’s not so big that it doesn’t comfortably fit in the pocket and it sits nicely in the hand. The screen is really crisp and video and pictures look very sharp. I’ve not taken too many pictures but the results have been good enough for what I need it for. I’m still pretty taken back with how thin and light it is. The volume when using headphones is much better than on my last device and while it isn’t a huge thing I’ve noticed the difference when driving as some podcasts have entirely different volume levels to others and there were one or two I used to struggle to hear. From a performance perspective I’ve no complaints at all. It’s snappy and everything opens pretty much instantly. Although comparing the Galaxy S4 to my previous Omnia 7 on the hardware front isn’t strictly fair. The Omnia 7 was never meant to compete at that end of the market. (I think?). Battery life has been pretty good even while I’ve been hammering it while getting used to it.
It also has some features I’ve not quite got to yet, such as eye tracking, multi window and air gesture which will be interesting to take a look at.
The 4G speeds are obviously nice too…even if they are a little erratic depending on where I am. That’ll get better over time as the network matures (We’re with EE)
Three of these were in our office in Coventry. One while I was visiting a client in Birmingham
This is my first real regular use of Android.
I’m going to write a separate post about my experiences but initially it’s been pretty positive. If I had to choose one positive and one negative from my first impressions I’d go for the notification centre as the biggest win for me so far. It’s something that was severely lacking in Windows Phone and already I’m not sure what I’d do without it.
On the flip side I miss the social integration Windows Phone has. Specifically the people hub and the me tile (is that two things?). It’s possible I’ll find apps that fill that gap for me in time though.
I’ve also quickly discovered a whole world of customisation is available to me and I imagine it won’t be too long before I’m picking out one of the many available ROMs!
Alongside the Nexus 5 announcement was the Android 4.4 KitKat release. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long before it’s available for my phone.
Posted on October 30th, 2013 No comments
I’ve had a Surface RT for about six months now after a client asked if we could have a chat about the touch devices that are on the market. After that conversation I thought the Surface could be something that would fit in with how my days generally pan out so I thought I’d give it a whirl.
As already mentioned I’ve had it for about six months now and I’ve written and scrapped posts on it about five or six times but with the recent Windows 8.1 release and the Surface 2 announcements it’s been at the front of my mind again
On the whole I’m largely happy it. .
A bit obvious I know but any extended usage on my mobile has me worrying about the battery and while the portable charger I’ve got is great when I’m running low it’s not quite the same as having something that will last all day. It’s great knowing I can take it out fully charged and not have it die on me. Something I can’t say for my laptop either.
Another obvious one and not specific to the Surface I know but this one of the things I wasn’t convinced on as my laptop is pretty light but I’ve found it lives in my bag now and I generally don’t notice I’ve got it with it me.
The Surface is more of a rectangle than a square. This is because it’s a widescreen (16:9) device which makes it great for videos and the like. That’s not quite why I like it though. The big thing for me is for when I’m reading web pages, PDFs, blog posts, etc I can turn it on it’s end making the reading experience much much better (less scrolling for one thing!)
This is particularly useful for documents as the reading experience is very similar to having a printed copy (granted paper is much lighter!)
I like the fact I can setup different user profiles. If I wanted to give the Surface to Mrs P or one of the kids they can have their own apps, start screen and be signed into different services. I don’t have to worry about signing out of anything so someone else can use it. i can see how this would be useful in office environments, a meeting room for example could have a device that several users could share.
A little thing but it’s got a version of BitLocker running on it that means in the event of it getting lost or stolen the data is going to be safe.
It’s got a USB port on the side that let’s me plug additional storage or keyboards, mice, etc into it without any need for convertors and adaptors. There is a mini-HDMI port too if you wanted to plug it into a bigger screen. It’ll even let you extend onto that second screen exactly the same way as you would with a desktop/laptop.
Yes I know Microsoft are slowly bringing various Office applications to other platforms but having Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote baked in is useful. That familiar feel means not having to worry about working differently just because I’m on a different device. Having Outlook with Windows 8.1 has made a huge difference to me. The mail app was “ok” but as I spend a big chunk of time in Outlook having the same experience for mail, calendars, tasks, contacts is a big plus.
The Built In Stand
A very small thing but I lose count of how many times a day I flip the stand down. It’s nice that it’s “just there” and I can prop it up easily. I frequently stand it up on the kitchen table for catching up on the news while I’m drinking that all important first cuppa of the day!
It’s not all roses though..What isn’t so good
I don’t know..I don’t mind IE as such. But the performance of it isn’t quite as snappy as I’d like. Sometimes you click a link and when nothing happens you jab it again and before you know it the first link has been dealt with and you’ve unintentionally clicked something on the next page. I’m not sure if the hardware isn’t up to it but IE is mostly the only time I notice a “laggy” experience and I’ve had experiences with some sites that just don’t like it.
Price and Accessory Slashing.
I was rather annoyed about this. The covers which double up as keyboards are really interesting and it’s definitely useful to have a keyboard from time to but with the cheapest one adding around £100 to the price I decided it wasn’t that important to me for how often I’d actually need it. About two or three weeks after I got my Surface the prices were dropped AND they were throwing in the cover for free.
Thanks a lot….
Yeah….the elephant in the room.
The lack of apps is still THE main thing getting in the way of making this useful to a wider audience.The official Facebook app was only recently available with the 8.1 release and it’s the same problem Microsoft have Windows 8 and Windows Phone. It’s not that there are no apps..just not the wide variety that are available on iOS and Android. It’s a shame Microsoft aren’t developing more of their own apps as well as trying to convince other developers it’s a viable platform.
It’s not that there aren’t any apps to use. I’ve got Netflix, Twitter, Facebook (finally), Amazon, Skype and Ebay. Lots of things you’d expect. But on the flip side there is no official app for Instagram (the Windows 8 one is imminent) or Vine. I’m a big GoodReads user but the unofficial apps aren’t great and the website is a pain to use with a touch screen. The list of popular apps that are available on other platforms is pretty daunting when you’re comparing devices.
Also..I’m writing this on my laptop as opposed to my Surface. There is no Windows Live Writer or similar that I can use. My only real option is to use Word as a blogging tool…Bleurgh. When you’ve been using Live Writer for so long going back to Word for blogging? I’ll pass thanks.
So why Surface RT and not Surface Pro?
That’s pretty easy
Cost – I didn’t want a Pro enough to spend that sort of money, especially the launch prices. The plus points of the tablet form factor aren’t worth that much to me. If I need the “full Windows experience” my laptop is fine in those scenarios.
Battery life – My RT device lasts ages for how I use it. If I take it out on a full charge I don’t have to worry about it running out of juice.
Office – I know it it largely depends on how you buy Office, (Office 365 Home Premium is up to five devices) but having Office included in the cost of the Surface was a big draw for me. If you have to add the cost of Office on top of the Pro that total price is pretty steep.
I’m of the opinion that if they’d spent all that money used developing Surface RT into making the Surface Pro cheaper and with a comparable battery life they’d have sold so many they wouldn’t be able to get them out the door quick enough.
In my experience the Surface is really good at a specific thing for a specific set of people who want a seamless Windows experience using a common set of apps. Those people will get a lot out of it. Outlook and OneNote on a decent screen I can take everywhere is unbelievably useful for me.
The new Surface 2 model and Windows 8.1 makes lots of incremental improvements to make what’s actually good about the device even better. The two angle stand is a brilliant addition as an example. You’d only really know that after having used the current one though.
So to finish…(since this post is a little all over the place!)
Should you buy a Surface RT? It depends…
If you’ve never owned a tablet and spend a lot of time using other Microsoft products it’s worth looking at.
If you’re coming from another product, unless there is something you specific want (Office..) then you may not find anything that’s a big pull.
As always..comments, opinions and questions always welcome!
Posted on October 11th, 2013 5 comments
As seems customary now on this blog every time I have a decision to make about a new mobile phone I write about it!
I think getting it on screen and out of my head certainly helps.
Two years ago I went with a Samsung Omnia 7 and explained why I chose that over the others.
The market is certainly different from May 2011 and some of the hardware available is amazing!
I’m yet to make a decision so I’ll go through my current thought process
They have launched their much delayed Blackberry 10 operating system, shed a ton of jobs, decided to leave the consumer market to concentrate on the Enterprise side of things and have just been sold off.
As it stands things are certainly not looking great!
Even taking all that into consideration this isn’t much that would make me want to jump ship to a Blackberry phone.
The juggernaut of the mobile space! With the ability to run on a wide variety of devices Android commands a big chunk of the market. it’s popularity has created a well stocked app store that can do just about anything you’d want with a mobile phone!
I’m very very tempted in all honesty. The Galaxy S4 looks like a seriously good piece of kit that would do pretty much everything i would need. Especially now there is an official OneNote app and QuickOffice is free.
What more can be said about the iPhone? Even with the success of Android if you mention the word “smartphone” most people automatically assume you’re talking about an iPhone.
That said I’m personally surprised that Apple haven’t done more. They have made quicker. faster, lighter devices but on the software side of things is there all that much difference over the last few years? iOS 7 is completely new direction in terms of design but is there anything new to get excited about?
That’s obviously a matter of opinion but it’s not the phone I’m looking for.
Microsoft are still paying the price for being so late to the party. Windows Phone is a pretty decent operating system but it’s biggest shortcoming is that in can’t compete on the range of apps that are available on the other platforms
It’s in the horrible chicken and egg scenario where developers aren’t writing apps for it because the phone doesn’t have enough market share but it’s struggling to gain market share because it doesn’t the apps.
They haven’t done a good enough job on the marketing and awareness front either. Some of the good features it does have people just don’t know about, even people with Windows Phones!
Choices, Choices, Choices
As it stands for me at the moment it’s a choice between a Windows 8 phone (probably a Lumia 1020) and an Android phone (probably a Galaxy S4).
Because I’ve been using Windows phone for the last couple of years there are a lot of features I use daily that I’m not sure if I want to give up. However, the lack of apps is getting rather frustrating.
An Android device would keep me “app happy” but is that enough to make me want to lose the functionality I use every day and I’m perfectly comfortable with?
I’ve talked before about how I think you should choose a smart phone so I need to figure out what irritates me the least!
Posted on October 9th, 2013 No comments
I had a really weird customer service experience recently and it’s been on my mind ever since so thought it was worth sharing.
A couple of nights ago I stopped at the chip shop on the way home from work. One of the items I ordered was going to take a few minutes to get ready so I found a wall to lean against and started to read a couple of pages of the book I’ve got currently got on the go on my Kindle.
Everything was soon ready and the person serving started to ask about salt and vinegar and the like before bagging everything up, handing it over and saying thanks and bye.
All pretty normal on the face of it.
I was half way home when I realised I hadn’t paid. He hadn’t asked me for any money and I was that interested in my book and getting home I didn’t notice myself.
Now my first thought was obviously “free chips!!” but in the interests of supporting a local small business and one I’ve been pretty happy with so far I decided I’d go back and pay. (after going home to eat first of course…I wouldn’t want them to go cold!)
So I nipped back to the shop and as I approached the counter the person who served me, a young man, about 16-17 and and an older lady were waiting to serve people. She caught my eye first so I started to explain what had happened.
She was very defensive and the first words that came out of her mouth were
I didn’t serve you!
I was a little taken aback as it’s not quite the reaction I was expecting and she then starting shouting at the guy next to her and another teenage boy who was cleaning tables, trying to find out who it was that had served me.
Eventually, the person who did serve me asked me what I was that I’d ordered and took my money, offering an embarrassed apology and thanking me for coming back.
As I’m doing this the person who had been cleaning tables seconds before leaned across the counter next to me shouting,
“What’s happened? What happened?
As I was leaving I could see in the background the lady explaining to the owner what was going on and pointing fingers at me and the person who’d served me.
It just all felt a bit odd.
Is it that bad a place to work that the first reaction of the staff was immediately to make sure it wasn’t them that had been found out making a mistake?
If that is the case have I gotten that person into trouble?
I wasn’t expecting them to fall to their knees and worship me like some deity for paying for seven pounds worth of food but what I didn’t expect to happen was for a bunch of adults to behave like children who were scared of getting in trouble with their parents.
What would you have done in my position?
If you worked at the shop what would you have done?
If you were the owner how would you have expected your staff to behave?
Posted on October 1st, 2013 No comments
First a bit of backstory.
A client asked us to get him a laptop with the key requirement based around the weight. He wanted something that would be easier for taking out of the office. So he ended up with a Sony Vaio VPCSA. All seemed ok but a few weeks in we got a call to say he was having trouble with the touchpad not working from time to time. The mouse pointer either wouldn’t move at all or it would be very difficult to drag along the touch surface.
Plugging a normal usb mouse in was a workaround but not the solution.
He couldn’t seem to recreate the issue either and neither could we. What didn’t help was it was so intermittent that we couldn’t recreate the problem and when we were looking at the problem we never saw it happen! It was very frustrating for our client so we did our best to figure it out but after checking drivers, mouse software, bios settings and even a full factory reset, we could only surmise it was a hardware issue and it went back to Sony under warranty.
They sent it back a few days later with the fault report showing they’d changed a part in the mousepad. It went back to client but a few weeks later the problem reared it’s head again.
It went back to Sony three more times. Each time Sony changed components inside and each time the problem didn’t go away.
Eventually the client got fed up with the laptop disappearing for weeks on end so asked if he could have a new one or a different model. Sony weren’t interested in this and neither were distribution as we couldn’t consistently reproduce the problem so in the interests of keeping a long time client happy we took the laptop back, got him a new one with the idea being if someone in our office was using it every day we might finally be able to track down what was causing it and then deal with the manufacturer and distributor if needed. Seeing as all happened around the time my house was broken into I was in need of a new laptop so it ended up in my hands and of course I’ve not had any trouble with it since!
Several months later and I was at home last week and the problem flared up while I was using the laptop and I could confirm how infuriating it was! I once again experimented with software, settings. I even discovered there is a “Function & F1” hotkey for disabling and enabling the touchpad but I still couldn’t find anything that made a difference.
Until a few days later….
It was a Friday night and I’d been using my laptop on the kitchen table and the touchpad was working quite happily. The battery was running low so I pulled the charger out of my bag and plugged it in. I sat down to carry on and the mouse had stopped working.
Realising it had been working quite happily a minute ago and all I’d done was plug the power in I disconnected it and it started working again!
I now had a reproducible problem. Every time I plugged the power adapter in, the mouse stopped working.
If you’re following this you’ll probably be thinking,
”What’s changed? Surely you’ve used the charger since you’ve had the laptop.”
Yes, but not this specific charger.
Last week someone was tidying up a cupboard in the office and came across the original box for the laptop and inside was a spare charger.
Turns out the client likes to have a charger on his desk and one in his laptop bag as It makes it that bit easier when coming and going. I thought that was a good idea so did the same. The original charger was on my desk. The spare had gone into my bag.
After a bit of digging it looks like the spare charger isn’t compatible with the laptop I’ve got. However, It still plugs in and charges which is why this never came to light before.
Once i was in the office the next day I was able to confirm everything works quite happily on the original power adapter!
This has been bugging me for much longer than it should have. Especially since I’d gone months without seeing the problem! I’m very glad I can put this to bed.
Posted on September 20th, 2013 2 comments
My last post talked about using RDP 8.0 for multiple monitor support. It reminded me of something useful when accessing Windows 8 and Windows 2012 Servers remotely.
When you’re working remotely getting access to the start screen and the charms can be a bit “fiddly” especially over slower connections.
Start screen? No where to click!
The solution is actually pretty simple.
When connected you’ll have the blue bar at the top of the screen.
Clicking the arrow on the left hand side brings up a menu which gives you access to some of the newer Windows 8 and 2012 features.
Hopefully this prevent some start menu related rage.
Posted on September 5th, 2013 3 comments
It’s safe to say I’m a multiple monitor fan. It’s a setup I’ve been using for a long time and I really notice the difference when I have to use a single screen. (I use three in the office and two at home)
Working remotely though can have an impact on this.
Up until the recently the only option for multiple monitors was span mode.
From the run dialog enter:
When you connect, the screens you’re using are treated as one huge entity. It’s a subtle difference that still makes use of your extra screens but you lose some of the benefits you get when managing multiple windows. For example, if you maximise an application it fills both screens instead of just the one. Some of the nice Windows 7 features such as “snap” don’t work in the same way either.
So because of this I was really interested in the “Use all my monitors for the remote session” option in the latest version of the Remote Desktop Connection client.
However, just ticking the box doesn’t seem to do anything.
You can also use MSTSC /multimon if you’re so inclined.
After a bit of digging it turns out that it’s reliant on the RDP 8.0 protocol which needs to be specifically turned on.
To enable RDP 8 in Windows 7:
Install updates KB2574819 and KB2592687 on the Windows 7 system you’ll be connecting to. If you’re connecting from Windows 7 machine install them there too. Windows 8 is good to go without any changes.
Enable RDP 8 via group policy
- “Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Remote Desktop Services\Remote Desktop Session Host\Remote Session Environment\Enable Remote Desktop Protocol 8.0” should be set to “Enabled”
- “Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Remote Desktop Services\Remote Desktop Session Host\Connections\Select RDP Transport Protocols” should be set to “Use both UDP and TCP”
All of this is explained in the depth along with how the span options works in this really good Remote Desktop Services MSDN post:
What it neglects to mention is that you only get multiple monitor support if the Windows 7 machine you’re connecting to is running Windows 7 Ultimate or Windows 7 Enterprise..
I wasted a couple of hours trying to figure out why it wasn’t working for me…
However, I can report it works quite happily when you’re connecting to Windows 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8 Pro (no Enterprise edition needed)
This will be a big help to me when working remotely but I wanted to make a note of the Windows 7 version restriction somewhere as I’m pretty sure I’ll have forgotten this in a few weeks time, plus it may help someone else out.
Some other useful Remote Desktop and multiple monitors I found while looking into this are:
Posted on August 30th, 2013 No comments
That’s a rather bold title I know but having read a rather entertaining piece on 8 Bit Dad titled, An Open Letter to My Son About Microsoft Excel. It got me thinking about how Excel actually had quite an impact on my career.
Back when I was in college I had a part time job at a metal pressing factory. My job was to help the quality department who were in the process of implementing a quality standard. I was tasked with creating various forms and spreadsheets for the team as well as providing general IT support to the rest of the factory.
The manager of the IT department needed to create a weekly chart showing waste figures to add to a notice board and he asked me to try and make this as simple as possible (he was the first to admit he struggled with computers). The biggest problem with this was that the figures came from a old unix based ERP system. Each week the production team would give him a floppy disk with some files on that would need to be imported into Excel, formatted correctly and turned into a chart.
So I created a template for him with the idea being that once a week he’d copy that file, rename it, run through the import process in Excel, copy and paste the figures into the right place, select the chart page and press the print key
Sound simple enough?
That was too much for him. My instructions were to make it “Trevor-Proof” (that was his name…yes he actually said that)
So I went back to the drawing board and hit on the idea of using macros. I then realised that behind the scenes macros were actually automatically generated Visual Basic code (Visual Basic for Applications) and it didn’t take me long to figure out that I could record a macro to broadly follow the steps Trevor needed every week and then tweak the code to make it more generalised and hook it up to some buttons I’d placed on the front sheet.
This worked perfectly! Each week Trevor would open the same file, He’d insert the disk, press a button and It would guide him through the steps automatically and spit out the printed document.
He loved it and it worked a treat!
Luckily for me even though the team weren’t all that computer savvy they were able to see lots of other possibilities for doing similar things and my days then largely consisted of developing increasingly complicated Excel “applications” for the business and getting to know Excel and Visual Basic inside out. Soon every department was running at least one of these applications on a daily basis.
Before long I was approaching the end of college and I’d started to apply for various IT support jobs and along with my CV I’d included some details and examples of the things I’d been developing. Out of the blue one of the companies I’d previously had an (unsuccessful) interview at called me. They’d had a developer leave and wanted to know if I was interested in applying.
I didn’t actually consider myself a developer/programmer. I’d been looking for support jobs as that was what I was interested in but I’d included the stuff in my CV to show some of the skills I’d learnt.
So I went for the interview and before i knew it I’d got a full time job coding. Moving from VBA to "full fat” Visual Basic wasn’t a huge leap and I also did some Visual FoxPro later on.
Development wasn’t their primary focus though. They provided support to local small businesses and this was where my first exposure to Small Business Server came in. It wasn’t long before I was getting more involved on the support side of things and was duly sent off on the MCSE courses and I guess the rest is history!
I never saw myself as a “real” developer so it was only natural I’d move back to what I’d started out doing. A lot of the skills I learnt during that time are still relevant now though. I have a better understanding of what goes on “under the hood” of software and writing scripts (batch, vbscript, powershell) is something that I regularly need to do.
So there you go, if it hadn’t been for Excel giving me that initial foot in the door I wouldn’t have ended up where I am today. It’s not a conventional route into the IT industry but it worked out ok for me.
Posted on July 22nd, 2013 No comments
At the end of 2012 I wrote my customary post that looked back on the last year as well as looking forward to 2013. At the end of that post I wrote down some things I’d like to make some improvements to. I thought that the middle of the year was a good point to take a quick look at how I’m doing with those things and maybe give me a kick in some areas.
I’d noted how 2012 had been a bit of a disaster for me reading wise and I set a mini target of one book per month to get back into the habit as I do love reading so much.
I’m happy to say I’ve smashed that target so far. I’ve read 18 “things” on my Kindle since the turn of the year. I’m using “things” because a definition of a book is something that’s changed since I started using a Kindle. The length of a book is now something I don’t take into account when choosing what to read.
I’m very happy with how I’ve hit this mini-target and I’m loving some of the books I’ve read this year.
My grand total for 2012 was 19 posts. My initial target was at least one blog post a week and I started off pretty well. It’s July and this will be post number 23 for the year. Better than last year already. However, this is actually my first post in about a month. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to talk about, this post was supposed to have happened a month ago, but as the middle of the year has approached I’ve hit the dreaded “burn out” I’ve talked about in depth over the past two years. (Please go and read those posts if you haven’t. I’m pretty pleased with how they worked out for me)
Fortunately for me this year, because of how much I’ve written and thought about this I know when I’m getting to the stage where I need a proper break and I’m not stressing about it in the way I may have done in the past. I’m fully confident my upcoming holiday will get me back on track with that “one a week” target.
Of the three areas I talked about at the start of the year this is the one I still think I could be doing more with. I’m going to write about this in another post though as it probably needs it. The second half of the year will get my focus for this!
Two out of three isn’t bad right?
I’m glad I looked at this at the start of the year and made steps to do something to make changes to some things I wasn’t happy about. Re-visiting this has given me some perspective that some change has actually happened but I still I’ve still got some time for a little “course correction”.