Travel Regrets

Around 10-15 years ago (shoot time flys) I spent some time working in europe, working in Dublin, Copenhagen, Strasbourg, and Geneva. Something I regret is not visiting more, or any of these places.

I think it was mainly due to then fact I was in these places on my own, and felt conscious of going out on my own and sitting in a restaurant on my own.

I do remember being in Geneva and the hotel I was stopping in had a casino, and visiting this with a work colleague. I remember we couldn’t afford with any credibility the minimum bet and decided to just have a look and a drink. What happened next was awesome and made me wish I’d paid attention to learning languages at school. Yasser who I was with ordered the drinks,and then dropped into French for the next 20 minutes talking to the waitress, I’ve no idea what was said but we didn’t pay for a drink. Yasser was the most amazing guy, he was from Morocco, grew up in Holland, worked in Belgium and could speak every language. A few years later I watched as he dropped into Russian, a language he had learnt because he had a few months feee at university.

As I have got older I have got braver and ventured out more, and tried to open my mind more. I went to Belfast last year and had the most amazing night in a bar that probably couldn’t be recreated if I tried. Over the last few weeks I’ve been in London with work and have been trying to venture out more to try and push myself more.

However I do regret that couple of years when I was travelling that I didn’t see more of the city’s I visited.

Automated Testing

In my last role we used a couple of different tools to monitor an eCommerce website that we had to ensure the site was performing as expected both from a user point of view and also in line with SLA’s.  Some of the tests were basic tests that just measured the load time for certain pages, and if it took longer than a set period of time would alert.   Other tests we used would carry out a user journey, placing an order for a product and then checking out the basket.  
we experienced with the later in that products would go out of stock or the test account details would change, but generally this worked well.

With the recent Service Now project I have been working on we had concerns with that adding some extra functions would have to performance.   We wanted to measure the performance and as we added to the table for Categories and Subcategories to see if the load time reduced.  We have around 1800 people that use the application, not all the time, but boy do they tell you if something is slow. 

I debated using some of the tools I had used in the past, but with GDPR this wasn’t something I could do without a lot of paperwork.  So I decided to investigate the build in Automated Test tools within ServiceNow.  I was really surprised how within 3 steps, I could build a test that would be able to purchase and checkout a request for an Apple Ipad. 

Output from the test allowed me to see if was successful, with screen shots of the completed steps, and the time to complete the task.   There are options to change the browser type and OS, however I have just kept this as its default option, as I am not to hung up on this.

Its got me interested in some of the test frameworks out there and if there are any other tools we can use internally or I can even use in my own projects.

Wise Words – Yoda

After a situation at work today, where an individual became very desperate I was reflecting on how they possibly got themselves into such a mental state.   Considering the fact that there is an assimilation process which may or will likely lead to departures its been getting a bit fraught.   

Not 100%  why but I thought about this clip from Yoda.

  • Fear of people losing, jobs or income or anything leads to them becoming anger.
  • The anger is then vented either internally or externally
  • They either suffer or others suffer

Future of Retail – Ha!

On Friday I was shopping in a department store in Derby, I wont name them but the other week they announced 50 stores would be closing, putting at risk 4000 jobs.   

My wife had picked up a jumper and as I stood there and got thinking.  Remeber how a few years ago this was going to be the future of shopping with the introduction of the internet.

You would walk into a store, and have a smart mirror that would let you pick accessories to go with an outfit, or even let you see it in other colors.   Instead of a smart mirror, we walked the entire first floor looking for a normal mirror, not smart just a reflective surface!    
Its no wonder now that stores are struggling, if they cant even do the basics.

If you go into a high street store in the UK, the tills are probably backed up with customers.  However not for people buying things from the shops, but people returning things they had brought online.   Why not buy it online when you can have credit of up to £1000 buy the same top in every color and two sizes as well, and then just return the ones you dont want.

The fact that more stores haven’t introduced Amazon style click and collect boxes in stores just shows how slow they are to react but quick to complain that Amazon is destroying them.  Even a well known supermarket in the UK has a click and collect service, that lets you do a digital return but then you just throw the item into a secure bin.

Walking through the town today, 7 weeks from Christmas there must have been 10 shops in a small shopping center that had closed down.  Its no surprise, I think you would probably do better opening a shop to act as a postage point for people who work in the town, and then handle their returns for them.  Unfortunate for more big names will die, because they are not embracing technology or even thinking outside of what they have done before. 

Legacy or walk away?

Just over a year ago I started a new job, and there were two things that made me take the job.  One it’s working for an organisation that helps people that are at risk and need help, so a chance to help contribute to making a difference was a big thing.  The second being that there was a lot of disruption within the IT function and it was a chance to put this right, and I was looking for a challenge.

I’ve been lucky in my career that I’ve not really had issues with internal politics, a bit of moaning but not that bad. However over the last few months this has been an issue.

The organisation I work for merged and we have two teams that are different styles trying to work together, I say trying, I am not so sure.   There are weekly clashes on policy and approach and it’s draining to feel everyday there is some new “battle” awaiting you.

When I mean battle it’s things like someone has changed how a system works but haven’t considered the other organisation, or a major decision has been made with no consideration of anything.  Even when you flag things it’s ignored.

It’s as that point where I think enough is enough, and it maybe time to move on. There’s an opportunity to shape the future but then I think have I the energy for another 12 months of politics.

However I then think what would you like to leave behind? Now this isn’t some ego thing, but I wouldn’t want to just walk away and things be no better than before.  I am two weeks from finishing a major service now project and want that to work.  So do I stay and get a couple of phases of development under my belt, however given I didn’t come into do this I am not so sure.

It’s all something I’m giving a lot of thought to and the next week will be crucial.

Time lapse Twickenham

I do like a good time lapse and I’d like to get better at these to be honest.  However I’m still impressed that I can stick a smartphone in a window and capture the world passing by.

Last week I was in a hotel in Twickenham and saw the opportunity, so stuck my iPhone in the window and went to dinner.  The result wasn’t spectacular but I was still impressed.

We have come a long way

Last week Apple released the new Iphone’s to the world, with OLED Screens, and awesome camera features, they look amazing, if a little pricey as ever! I currently have an Iphone SE that to be honest the battery is shot on, and is being quite janky.   I am looking to see if ios12 will improve this, but ill be honest an Iphone XR looks a good option at the momment. 

I currently have an Iphone SE that to be honest the battery is shot on, and is being quite janky.   I am looking to see if ios12 will improve this, but ill be honest an Iphone XR looks a good option at the moment.   If I could afford the XS I think I would go that way, but I am trying to think how often I have used the zoom feature on my work 7Plus.

So while going through some photos just it was ironic that I came across a picture I saw in March this year, if you consider what an Iphone XS Costs, and the the fact that it has more processing power than the computers that put Neil Armstrong on the moon.  We have come along way, baby!  A 10MB Hard Disk for more than twice the cost of a 512GB Iphone XS!   We have come along way since the 1980s!

App of the Week –

My son recently introduced me to the mobile game, and its genius in its simplicity.  You are a black hole that you control by moving your finger around the screen.  As you eat people, cars, buildings and other objects you get bigger and bigger.  The main game is a race over 2 minutes to see who can eat the most things and score the most points.   

As with most games these days, the more you play you are rewarded with skins for your hole (sounds weird).  There are also other games as part of the app with last hole standing, as well as how much of the map you can eat in 2 minutes.  The game is add supported, but as usual can pay to remove these. There has also recently been an update that has added an extra 2 terrains to the game.  

One of the brilliant bits as well of this game is that you can create a game room, and then play anyone within Bluetooth range at the game.  I have quite enjoyed playing this with my son, but also had a few crafty games at work.  The performance doesn’t really lag and it plays quiet well.

What I didn’t know until writing this was that its also a browser based game and you play this on your desktop as well using a mouse/touchpad.

Switching Off

We have just come out of the August Bank Holiday in the UK, and I felt more refreshed in those 3 days than I did in my week away a few weeks ago.  I think there are a couple of factors this and its probably a sign that something is wrong.

When I was away, I made the mistake of checking in to my email, why!  Like the rule of nothing good happens after 2am, nothing good comes from checking your email.  I’m not going to have an email in my work account telling me I have won the lottery, or got a promotion.   So I made that mistake, see things with no context and generally wind myself up.

Where as the long bank holiday means also everyone else is in that position, and so there is no email, no crap & politics and so you do shut of and recharge.

This has made me think a little more about having more structure to my week to allow me to recharge more.   I am trying to get myself moving more to help shift some weight, which while I want to get running again, I need to just move.   Also I want to try and do some personal development, so looking to set a side a night a week to do this.   As this development focuses around some development work, this will be a mix of work stuff as well.   Which as I benefit from I dont mind, but I am also making the point of not doing day to day work, email etc, that stuff can stay during the day.  

Grains of Sand

A few posts ago I was talking about the project that I am working on to relaunch our instance of Service Now.   Unfortunately an issue in the way that commutations would flow prevented any real progress and lost us 3 weeks.   This was a major kicker and lost us a lot of momentum.

We tried to pick this back up again, but due to people leaving and it being a popular time for holidays, its been hard to get it going again.  Work requests are piling up for day to day tasks, plus with the business going through a merger we are struggling for time to focus.

More and more work is coming in and means the older stuff is slipping to the back.  We are suffering from a real lack of steer and direction to help us priorities and its really sapping my energy at the moment.

An analogy I used the other day is that its like grains of sand, you add more and the older ones slip to the bottom, and don’t resurface. 

Truth be told we need time to sit and work this out but with resources thin we are not getting anyway.  Really not sure what the answer is at the moment, but its draining.