First post from the iPad

This weekend I went away for our UK office away day, our equivalent of an internal conference. It was a fun and exhausting weekend and part of the excitement was the presentation of the internal
iPad competition that my team of three competed in.

The prize was an iPad for each member of the winning team. To enter we had to come up with an idea and have a go at implementing it although the actual implementation wasn’t the heaviest weighting in the overall score including.

Fortunately our team won the iPad competition as well (details of the application will be announced when we release the application) and here I am having a go at trying to post my first blog entry from the device.

Initial impressions are very good although very hard to type as efficiently as you can on a computer with a keyboard to give tactile feedback.

2008 in Review

I’m pretty late with this, looking-back-at-the-whole-year thing, since I’ve been once again been away with not that much time to spare. So here’s the summary in case any one is interested.

In terms of travel…
It feels like I definitely hit less countries last year than I did the year before, instead doing a little bit localised travel, despite starting the year off in The Andaman Islands, and ending it in New York. Whilst in India, I finished up my travelling by visiting Kolkata, before staying in Bangalore a few more days before returning to the UK.

Work needs seemed to shuffle me around a little bit when I first got back, ending up in both Lancaster, Coventry, and a short stint in White City (woo hoo, London!) before ending up in Calgary where I stayed for almost a third of the entire year! Even though I was based outside of Calgary for the, almost four month period, I still ended up visiting Bath, Glastonbury and Wells in a week for a conference, and Limerick for yet another one.

I definitely made the most of staying over in Canada though with trips to lovely Vancouver, the entertainingly named Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump, the world’s best dinosaur museum in Drumheller, and Banff for afternoon tea. This isn’t even counting the four times that I managed to go skiing at Lake Louise and Sunshine.

Upon returning to the UK, I ended up in Norwich for Simon and Holly’s Wedding, Marlow on a daily basis for my work project for the rest of the year, and then Preston and Manchester for yet another work conference.

I finished off the year of travelling with trips to Torino (Turin) in Italy for the Slow Food Festival, Aberdeen to visit Stacey and Wes, Frankfurt (Germany) to visit my friend Martin, and Barcelona (Spain) failing to escape to any particularly warmer climate before finishing the year off with a trip to New York and Boston.

In terms of entertainment…
Was very strong musically kicking the year off with The Diamond Hoo Ha Men, closely followed by both Paramore and Jimmy Eat World. Later in the year, I caught Alicia Keys, Xavier Rudd, Finley Quaye, Kaiser Chiefs, Subsonica, Franco Battiato, and finishing the year off with The Kooks, Coheed and Cambria, Ben Kweller, and The Fratellis.

I volunteered for Calgary’s first Virgin Festival, even scoring VIP tickets to see a small, intimate acoustic set of The Fratellis. I also enjoyed hitting the Sled Island Festival, seeing different bands in different venues around Calgary and a nice couple of days laying in the sun chillin’ to plenty of tunes.

In terms of theatre and musicals, I went along to a Cirque de Soleil, the Sound of Music, Gods of Carnage, Cabaret, and 61 circus acts in 60 minutes.

Other notable things:
I enjoyed Calgary’s Stampede (also known as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth), set out to walk to the farmer’s markets to only end up getting slightly sunburnt on what ended up as a 20km hike around Calgary. Further to the previous split between work and life, I also split my life blog from my food blog (since so many of my posts seem to revolve around them).

Looking back at the year, I realised that all this travel seemed to made it more difficult to catch up with close friends, particularly when they start to leave the country, though it’s created other opportunities of creating new ones.

Embracing Change

Wu WeiI had my room packed up, my bills redirected, my flight booked, had someone almost moving into my flat and was already trying to get through the round of (short term) farewells, but contrary to my recent post, it looks like I’m staying in London for a bit longer. Earlier today I got the ominous phone call telling me that my current opportunity to be a trainer in India will not be available as planned for the start of next year.

To say I’m disappointed is quite understated but at least I will no longer be as anxious as I have been this last week building up to Christmas and I know an opportunity will open up sometime in the future. Better yet I’m glad that it’s been easy enough to cancel the cancellation request on my ISP (they rock!) and I still get to go on my skiing trip already booked and paid for next year. I apologise to all the people who I sincerely told that I was leaving London, and I thank all of you who contacted me to wish me the best.

The picture above are the characters for the Toaist principle, Wu-Wei, and I find relevant in dealing with the recent news

How Tidy Is Your House?

Messy DeskI really enjoyed the entry that Rachel wrote giving “Refactoring” a normal name that ordinary people could understand. I like her synonymous term, “Tidying Up”, because it’s a great metaphor for understanding how important it is to any project in the long term.

There are obvious immediate side effects to tidying anything up. Things are easier to find, easier to move about and much easier to change. People who inherit or work in this “tidied up space” can do everything at amazing speeds. It also means that things can get messy quick. Fast forward three weeks and with all the changes, suddenly the “tided up space” no longer looks very tidy. Clutter begins to build up in piles, you see people duplicating effort, and then you need to start moving things around to even begin finding anything important. The clutter is slowing you down.

Tidy DeskIt’s important to keep on top of “tidying up” because it maintains your ability to stay fast. It also means that people coming along after you can work almost as fast as you (it still takes them time to adjust to finding where things are and where they should go). More importantly, those people following you need to understand how important it is to keep “tidying up”.

Thanks to lildude for the ‘Messy Desk’ picture and chaosbit for the ‘Tidy Desk’ one (both from flickr).

Moving Out and Moving On!

The biggest news I have this week is that I’m going to be living in India for about 6 months starting from January. I’ll be taking on a new role with other instructors running training and induction classes for people that join Thoughtworks. I’m really looking forward to the experience and I have a lot of support from my work colleagues and sponsor. I hope the people I will be working with will be able to capitalise on all my experiences I’ve had working on the many projects I’ve been on, and I think I will be able to refine a lot of the techniques and approaches I use when coaching teams and pair programming with people. I will also get a huge kick of working with people that are genuinely interested in learning and sharing and like most projects I’ve been on they’ll no doubt be plenty of fun along the way.

It’s a big change for me once again after moving to the UK, but I do plan on returning to the UK after six months and going through the paces again to find another place to live in London. It’s an exciting time and though there’s plenty of stuff to fit into the week before Christmas, it’s going to be completely worth it.