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. 

Work is Hard

The other day I was in the lucky position of being able to work from home during the summer holidays to keep an eye on the kids.  However everything went sideways and a major incident involving printing and other crisis kind of ruined my plans.  Later that day I was talking to the kids about the fact work sometimes is like this and sometimes you just have to put the effort into get the job done.  However I also pointed out I’m lucky in that I work in an office, not a factory or a mine and so my definition of hard work is miles away from others.

Today I was talking to a colleague about how busy it is at the moment.  Within my immediate team we are down on resource to resignation and holidays and were also going through major business change.  Now I don’t actually mind being on my own, I’ve been used to that in my last two roles.  While I have had a team  I was the on,y one in my role and so it’s all on you.  In my current role that’s not the case and it makes it difficult at times mainly because sharing information isn’t critical until  it, that person isn’t there.

So back to my point, as we were talking I mentioned that I don’t mind being this stretched  and do like it in some dark way.  However after working for 12 hours for a few days, a thank you wouldn’t hurt.  To which he replied, that’s why you get paid.    This struck me, and he is right, that’s why I get paid a salary that at times I feel awkward about, and reminded me of this clip from Mad Men when Peggy is complaining about he lack of credit, god I miss that show.

Do I feel any less stretched, no! However has it remind me that that’s why it’s called work.

Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them – Ann Landers


Crazy Ideas

I’m a big fan of the Simpsons, and recently Sky in the UK have been showing them in order from the first series. It makes you appreciate how long it’s been on but also how good some of the early stuff is. The more recent series have been a little unmeroable, although there is one that sticks out.

This is the episode where Elon Musk visits Springfield and automates the Nuclear Power plant. However my favourite part of this episode is that Homer becomes his Muse and his ramblings or homerisms in a car journey trigger inspiration.

This got me thinking what crazy ideas I could come up with that could be real products.

Window wipers that refill from rain water, why do they always run out of water at the wrong time.

Artificial intelligence that knows I don’t want to hear Christmas songs when shuffle is on music in the middle of summer, or in fact any time other than December!!

A toaster that can charge your tablet or phone via wireless charging, must pop when charged. Imagine placing your device in that slot. (This probably would t be that hard with a wireless charger and the heating ripped out of a toaster)

Pac Man Design

I was Listening to a podcast recently (App Stories) and the topic was game design and the different approaches. One game they were discussing was Pac-Man.

The point being that Pac-Man is so simple it doesn’t tell you how to play the game, you learn this as you play. You may choose to eat all the pills or not. You may choose to eat a ghost but will learn you can’t do this h TIL you have eaten a giant pill.

The point being that the game is designed so simply that you learn as you play. There is no need for manuals, documents, or tour guides. It is what it is!

It’s struck a chord with me and has made me think we all should consider this when creating systems and processes and take the Pac-Man approach.

Data Accuracy

One of the big challenges that we have faced with the Service Now project has been the data within the system. Due to the way that it has been setup there is no accurate single source of information.

Normally you would pull the data in from somewhere like Active Directoy, however while this has been done it’s not the only data within the system.

We had a situation where due to data errors we had 6 variations of one site address, where no one had tides up the data. Initially the thought was to do a data cleanse post project but it became apparent this couldn’t wait as it was going to affect the quality of the product we would deliver.

So a day was spent correcting typing mistakes, removing sites and correcting issues in AD. It’s not perfect as there is some further tidying up but this will require effort from other business areas.

What I am working on currently

So the idea of starting this site as well as to be a stream of consciousness, is also to share some of the projects I am involved in, things I create either myself or through the day job.

It occurred to me today that I am currently leading on a major relaunch of our ITSM toolset (ServiceNow) and it would be an interesting thing to talk about on here.

When I joined my current employer in October 2017 there was already a project underway to relaunch Service Now internally. For what is a powerful but expensive toolset it was under used internally. It was outdated and badly maintained, but also not just used by IT with HR, Facilities and Finance also using it. This brings some complexity and increases the difficulty of moving to a new toolset.

When I joined my employer I was tasked with looking at how we could improve the onboard processor new starters. When a new person joined they would have to wait for equipment, multiple requests would be made for access to systems and all of this took time and affected engagement. A new starter raised around 13 requests when they joined. By looking at the requests and the process we found we could reduce this and control the requests through workflow design in Service Now. It was at this point that I started to become more involved in the design process and the project.