The Olympics are coming

This summer London will be awash with people, excitement and sport. To make this massive sports show happen that comprises of 39 Olympic disciplines and 21 Paralympic disciplines.To make all this happen is taking thousands of people employed by London Olympic Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), about 6000 and then there are the 70,000 volunteers that will do masses of the work front of house and behind the scenes. My journey to the Olympics 2012 started back in 2010 when I completed an application for to volunteer at the games. February 2011 I was interviewed at London's eXcel Centre for a place on the Technology team. The interview went well and I got offered a "Games Maker" role of Printed Results Distribution Team Leader in November 2011. Why did it take so long? Something to do with the 250,000 people that applied to be Games Makers might have something to do with it. It took a long time to interview that many people and decide who would get what roles. Then it's a case of working out what events these people are going to be assigned to and getting them up to speed on what they are supposed to be doing at the Olympics themselves. This process has been a series of events called "London Prepares" and there are still a few of them left to do. As I write this, I'm in PRD2 at the Aquatics Centre on the Olympic Park waiting for a print job to come through so that we can distribute it around the event. The 18th FINA Diving World Cup 2012 is a big event and a real eye opener for me. I've been involved in several large events in my time, a few Lotuspheres and some local national events, but never before behind the scenes at a major sporting event. The amount of people needed is truely amazing. Hundreds of people to make it all happen in media, TV, VIP relations, merchandising, printed results distribution, scoring, officials, governing body members, trainers, physios and so on.... So what am I doing here this week? Printes Results Distribution is a very behind the scenes role, but it's really important. Without it any competition would never get past the first round. And probably not even that far. With all the technology around you would expect that there was not much need for sheets of paper to be sent around the place. But you'd be wrong. The IOC mandate that no results are official unless on paper, so there is an awful lot of printed results that are needed by different areas in and around the venue. Venue Media Centre, Family Lounge, Sports Information Desk, Press Tribunes, Competition Management Office, Sports Presentation, etc... It can be very hectic at times when lots of results come through, dive lists and lists of judges but at other times it can be very very quiet. The great news is that I've met some great people and some that I will be working with during the games later in the year. It's a great job to have because you sometimes get to see the sport or field of play.

I'll be utilising all my team leadership and management skills during the summer so that I can keep my team happy and motivated.

I'm very gratefull to GSX for allowing me to take the time out of the business to be part of the Olympics and I'm sure the experience and skills I learn doing this will serve me well back in my business.

My first Lotusphere as a non-IBMer

The annual yellow-wash this year was my first without a staff badge and lots of people asked me what it was like to not be an IBMer. At the time I could not tell them as it was Sunday or Monday and I had not really experienced it yet. Now it's finished and I've had chance to evaluate it a little bit I can tell you that it was different but not as different as it could have been.Working for GSX (an IBM business partner) meant that I was still working on the product showcase floor. Talking to customer about our product set and seeing familiar friends from previous years. This felt familiar to me as the IBM Innovation Lab that I worked in previously was located in the corner of the showcase too. This all leads to my work week being in familiar surroundings. Also this year I was presenting again and the presentation I did with Matt White, XPages Blast!, was very well received and the feedback so far has been very flattering. My third year presenting with Matt and I'm honoured that Matt still agrees to present with me. We compliment each other well and get lots of technical content into a presentation that is structured and digestible by most people. So what was different? Not working in the labs this year was kinda strange, I really missed working with the lab management team, such a great bunch of personal friends now. Not getting enough time to spend with them was the hardest part of Lotusphere for me. Spending quality time with the people in GSX was great, breaking bread and sharing wine, I've really got to know some of folks that work in different locations to me. They've also had the chance to get to know me a little better, and being relatively new to GSX, that's a good thing. Not having to work on the weekend before Lotusphere starts meant that I could go riding motorbikes with the annual LS Hog Ride. Another new family to join, and wow, what a bunch of great characters. Being a business partner this year, meant that I didn't get a staff shirt, but that's fine as I don't need any more t-shirts. But that also meant that for the first time in seven years I officially got the backpacks, which for the first time is not yellow on the outside. On the whole I feel that this year was a great Lotusphere for me. Great to see old friends, meet new ones, try new things and not have to do some of the stuff that was a drag in previous years. I hope I will get the chance to be there again in 2013. Will I see you there?

It's that time of year again...

So I'm on another aircraft this time heading for Chicago, IL. Since I left IBM I've been flying quite a bit. Back and for to Geneva, Nice and Buffalo and whilst I enjoy air travel, being away from home is more of an issue now than it used to be. Having two children turn up in our lives has made Marissa and I value our time together even more. I'm also very involved in the kids daily routines so I miss it and them when I'm not there.This flight to Chicago will then join a flight to Buffalo so that I can spend the rest of the week meeting with the USA teams of GSX. Being the Technical Services Manager means that I have to do annual reviews and I prefer to do these face to face if at all possible. I think it's important to get the feeling from your team members as to how they are performing and feeling about their jobs. If any of them are reading this, then I hope you realise how important this is to me.

After my week in the office meetings, a couple of dinners and some sleep I will head down to Orlando, FL for a week in the "Happiest place on earth!" and the extremes of Lotusphere 2012. But before all that kicks off, I get to indulge one of my vices and go ride motorbikes with friends. Now that I don't work over the weekend putting together the excellent Collaborative Solutions lab I get to go play for the weekend. So I get to join the, now annual, LS hog ride. But anyone that knows me and knows that I won't ride a Harley Davidson by choice. So I have rented a Triumph Thruxton for the weekend in answer to all the American metal I thought I'd bring some pure British beef to the table. More on that at the weekend.

So this year I hear that the team are doing great things with the Collaborative Solutions lab and you really must go and see them up on the Europe corridor in the Dolphin hotel. I have no idea what they are doing in total this year, but I know the team and they will make sure it's something special. From XPages to Sametime or Portal they will have quite special tricks up their sleeves and what's more, they will show you how you can do it too. I will certainly be making an early stop in my LS schedule to find out what's new.

Really looking forward to the challenge of the next few weeks, whether that is meetings with the team or trying to stay awake long enough to present at Lotusphere on Wednesday and Thursday. Yes the Matt White and Tim Clark show will be rolling back into town again. This year we are just doing XPages Blast in the Best Practises track. Matt and I are really looking forward to sharing another 30 top tips with everyone again. See you there!

Lotusphere 2011, here I come.

I made it through the week will little or no damage. Monday was session practise with the amazing Mr White, Tuesday was customer meeting with Miss Pearce to discuss a Quickr for Domino pilot, Wednesday was a planned trip to the Parkside Suite at Frimley Park Hospital and today was recovery and packing day.Yesterday went fairly well, but I should have know what was going to happen from what happened on Tuesday at my local doctors surgery. Because of the Atrial fibrillation the doctors decided to thin my blood to stop blood clots and strokes. Nice idea and it's working ;o) The only fly in this ointment is the weekly blood test at the doctors and waiting for a slip of paper from the hospital to arrive by post to tell me what dose of Warfarin I should be on this week. Turn up on Tuesday and the nurse can't get any blood out of my left arm, tries my right are TWICE with no success and then resorts to the back of my right hand. I think she's been watching the Twilight movies too many times. Waiting to go for my electro cardioversion yesterday and the nurse can't get any blood out of my left arm either and she had a good long go at it too. So I feel like a pin cushion at the moment with holes all over my arms. If someone looks they are going to think I'm a drug addict who's been shooting up.

Anyway tomorrow starts the long haul across to Orlando with possibly too much technology in my bags and not enough underwear.

So this is the week that is, or will be, or something....

So today I'm in IBM Southbank all day with my good friend Matt White working on our presentations for Lotusphere 2011. Tomorrow will be spent driving to and from Birmingham to see a customer about Lotus Quickr.

Wednesday I will mostly be in hospital fixing my atrial fibrillation (I hope)

Thursday will be recovering from Wednesday and packing for Lotusphere

Friday will be mostly on an aeroplane heading towards Orlando, FL for Lotusphere.

So a most relaxing week coming up then. :-s

Atrial Fibrillation & me

This is my third episode of A.F. as I have had one in 2000 and one in 2006, so this is not so new to me, but it's still worrying at times. To fill you all in on the "heart thing". I'm currently having an episode of atrial fibrillation that has been with me now since Saturday 27-Nov. This basically means that the top half and bottom half of the heart have lost communication with each other. The top half then start to fibrillate (shiver) and send off wild and crazy signals to the bottom half of the heart. The bottom half does not know what is going on so does not know when to beat. So the upshot of all this is that plug me into a heart rate monitor right now and I could do a grand job as a bingo caller. My pulse rockets up to 180 something and then down to 40 something in the next second. It's a bit of a mess. All of this can be a bit serious in younger people with blood clots and strokes being talked about by specialists. The upshot of all this is that I get dizzy, faint and breathless if I try and exert myself at all. What do I mean by exert? Walking down stairs to make a cup of tea and back up to my office means I can't focus on anything much for a few minutes. I've also noticed that the lowering of the Oxygen in my blood supply means I am a little more confused than normal. There, I said it before you could tell me that I'm confused all the time. ;o) So that's all the bad stuff.

The good stuff is that I'm already in consultation with my cardiologist at Frimley Park Hospital and I go into the anticoagulation clinic on Monday to start on warfarin to start thinning my blood. This is so that there is less chance of blood clots being present when they electro cardioversion (electric shock) me back into a, hopefully, good heart rhythm. That's looking like January at the moment following an appointment on Christmas Eve to do an echocardiogram of my heart to make sure it's still there, structurely sound and no valves are leaking.

I'm also back working from home most of the time, but taking it easy. So you'll understand if responses are not instant.

So all in all, nothing too much to worry about. ;o)

Back to the Future....

After 2 and a bit years in Business Partner Technical Enablement and 3 years in the IBM Innovation Centre at Hursley and 3 years in Channel Technical Sales I have accepted a role working with customers again. I'm sure I'll still have lots to do with our Lotus partner community going forward, but it's not going to be my main focus now. So I would like to take this opportunity to say a MASSIVE "Thank you" to all of the Lotus business partners that have helped me understand the channel, supported me in my mad-capped schemes and ideas and just generally been some of the best people I have ever worked with and alongside.

I've had some great times and met some fantastic people along the way and I'm grateful for all the fun we've had too.

So what am I going to be doing? I am going to working in Lotus Technical Sales in UK & Ireland. This is the "Back to the Future" bit for me as I have done this role before, just before I stated in Channel Technical Sales. I'll still be at ILUG and Lotusphere 2011 (hopefully) so I'll see you all there.

So it's not "So long and thank for all the fish" but more of a "Where are the keys to the DeLorean? And can we make sure the flux capacitor is working right this time?"

Yesterday I lost the plot

I got a phone call stating that the parts had been authorised for my BMW and that they would be ordered as soon as possible. WHAT PARTS? Day 90 and they are still working out what they need to put it back together. All this on top of the fact that last week the story was "nearly finished, should be with you on Wednesday". So when I got that call on Thursday I'm afraid I lost the plot, a little. I called the lease company and demanded to speak to the head of the relationship between IBM and Leaseplan. Then I ask her what on earth they are doing. She was very empathetic with my situation and asked me to email her, which I did.

AND

Today I got a call giving me an update as to what she has done and what she is waiting for and what I should expect to happen next.

Why has is taken them 90 days and me ranting to produce reasonable customer service? I guess I'll never know, but it's very frustrating.

Day 69 and counting.....

On Feb 19th the engine in my BMW 320d decided to stop working. Something to do with a bent crank shaft, 2 bent con rods, cylinder leakage from 1, 2 and 3, a piston loose in the in the cylinder, pitting on all four piston heads, marking and scoring on all 4 cylinder sleeves. So just a couple of minor niggles really. ;o) The BMW garage said it needed a new engine and the leasing company, naturally, took a very sharp intake of breathe at this point. And I don't blame them. £9,000 for a replacement engine is a lot for a car that's just two years old.

After much tooing and froing, and tooing and froing and some more tooing, just for good measure, the car is with a garage that are going to replace the engine.

I rang them just after lunch today to find out what is happening. I remember something about "the engine is out of the car and we don't have an engine that works yet to put back in" before my brain melted and ran out of me nose.

So it's not going to be back tomorrow (day 70) and then it's a bank holiday weekend. So that's going to be up to day 74 at the earliest and if they work on it over the holiday weekend. (not going to happen)

I think I might get to day 80, but not as far as day 100 before I lose it completely and scream at someone down the phone about this.

Anyone want to guess on the what date I'll get the BMW back? Day 80 onwards........

Sorting out the Sametime contact list.

I've been doing a bunch of bunch of housekeeping on my Sametime contact list today. I've added a whole new department of people in a bunch of nested groups. But while I was doing this I came across a problem. Whilst I have everything sorted alphabetically (groups and people), that mixed up all the people in amongst the groups.

So I needed something that would make the people sit above the groups. A simple full stop works just fine.

Lets say that you create a group for your team and you want your manager to appear at the top of the list when they are online. All you have to do is edit the "Nickname" of the contact and add a "." to the front of their name. Then they pop to the top of the list.

.Robert Manager Fred Bloke Georgina Lady

Taking this one step further, I have a group that has people and groups in it, and a manager. So to the manager I added two full stops and just one to the other people in the group. They all appear above the groups and the manager appears everyone.

..William Manager .Fred Bloke .Georgina Lady Admin (GROUP) Finance (GROUP) HR (GROUP)

So whilst it's a bit of a drag to edit a few peoples nicknames in Sametime it's not too bad to look at and it works.

Spring cleaning

So I've been challenged in my Open University course to try and understand a bunch more about time management and how it can help me.Being a Lotus bod I decided to take another look at eProductivity that I saw demonstrated at Lotusphere 2009, but Erick Mack and David Allen of GTD fame.

Having listened to David Allen read his Getting Things Done (GTD) book a bunch of times (I have it as an audio book), I think I get the process. I have no decided to take the plunge and investigate integrating that into my Lotus Notes mail file to get the full effect of what it can do for me. eProductivity is just such an application that will change the look, feel and functionality of my mail file. It's safe for me as I know how to control the security in Notes (ECL) and I have complete control over my mail file (Manager Access). If after evaluating this on a 4 week trial I discover that it's not for me then I can revert back to the Lotus designed mail file and nothing will be lost. You have to love Notes for it's flexibility.

So here goes, downloading the template now and replacing the design of my mail file this morning. Then it's off to lunch for a stiff drink. ;o) When I come back I'll start the spring clean with a trawl through my existing inbox and work out what needs to go where.

I'll post my progress and let you all know how I'm getting on as I get into this. I'll also share any tips and tricks I find along the way.

Full Disclosure I feel it only fair to inform everyone that I will not be hiding anything in these blog posts, but if I like eProductivity, they have offered me a free license if I want to continue using it. All I have to do is blog about it. But I want you all to know that if it's bad, needs changing, crashes my mail file, revolutionizes my life or annoys the life out of me, I'll be telling everyone. My thanks go to Erik Mack and Ryan Heathers for offering this opportunity to me.

SOTM and The X Cast

I have appeared on the "Someone Once Told Me" website in this entry. This is a great daily inspiration site where Mario takes pictures or gets them from his flickr group and posts them. They are all black and white and all have something that the person in the photograph has been told by someone. Simple idea and very well executed. It was a pleasure being "shot" for this even if it was bitterly cold, dark and nearly raining. I intend to shoot some of these for Mario at Lotusphere, so if you see me walking around with my camera and have something that you might want to share with the world, then please stop me and ask. The next big announcement is that I have published my podcast called "The X Cast". This is all to do with XPages and can be found here. We are waiting for Apple to come back with an iTunes subscription so I will tell everyone when that happens. In the mean time you can listen from the website or download the MP3 file.

Please tell me what you think about both topics.

Collaboration University by SNAPPS @ London

Just had chance to grab a couple of minutes with Rob Novak, President of SNAPPS at the Collaboration University 2009 in London.Rob's really excited today and rightly so, he's about to wrap up the 10th annual set of Collaboration University events and SNAPPS announced "Project Jonathan" today at LoLA and here at CollabU in London. Rob explains what "Project Jonathan" is about in this AudioBoo.

Bill Allen MBE

We are mourning the loss of a true hero in our neighbourhood. Bill Allen has past away and his loss will be very deeply felt by anyone who knew him. Frimley will not be the same without him, that's for sure.as my neighbour he was always there to offer advice, lend a hand or keep and eye out. As the local coordinator of the "Neighbourhood Watch" he put in countless hours to help make the place we live a safer one. The Millennium rose garden at the end of our street was an example of his dedication to community. His curry will remain infamous as will the celebrations at "26". I for one will miss the Scottish Saltire flying from the window for St Andrew's day. Bill was in the Army for many years and he regaled us with many stories about his times in Cyprus and at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy. In the end Bill's health betrayed him. He had been quite ill for a while and he had shrugged it off and not told anyone, even the doctors, just how much was going on or going wrong. On Saturday there was a thump on our front door and I was asked to help pick Bill up off the floor where he had slept after falling off the sofa. He had not been able to use his call bell, crawl 2 feet to the phone or even shout for help. We persuaded him to let us call the ambulance and he not only allowed them to take him to hospital, he even walked out to the vehicle himself. Today Bill passed away and he will be missed. Father, Soldier, Friend & Neighbour. RIP

BMW customer service is awesome

So the drivers side headlight bulb has gone in the BMW. Mildly frustrating at worst. Grab the spare bulb pack supplied by the lease company and owners manual then set about replacing bulb. Not so fast cowboy.

To get to this bulb you have to open a panel inside the wheel arch. That is where it all comes undone. With the wheel in the way it's virtually impossible to get your hand in there let alone get the panel out and the bulb. So I sheepishly rang the lease company and explained the situation. "No problem sir", came the reply, "just drop it into your local BMW garage and they will do it for you." So I'm currently sat in the comfortable leather chairs at Barons BMW writing this blog post, on the iPhone, and waiting for them to finish replacing my bulb. But it gets better. They are doing it FOC, gratis, gratuit, free. Including the bulb! Aparently it's covered under the warranty.

Now that's what I call service.

Must get back to drinking the free tea... ;o)

Finished my first 10k race event.

So Marissa and I are justly proud this evening having completed our first race event. The Asics British 10k London Run. Here is the route. We did it in about 1hour and 20 minutes which we think is really good considering the amount of training runs we managed (not a lot).

Thanks to everyone who sponsored us. We managed to raise 400 pounds for the Rainbow Trust Children's Charity

Two Choices

What would you do?  You make the choice.  Don't look for a punch line,there isn't one..  Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended.  After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

“When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.  Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do.  He cannot understand things as other children do.  Where is the natural order of things in my son?”

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued, “I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child”..

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, “Do you think they'll let me play?”

I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, “We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning.  I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning.”

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt.  I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three..

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field.  Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again.  Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.  At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.  However, as Shay stepped up to the plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.  The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.  As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.  The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman..  Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game.  Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, “Shay, run to first!  Run to first!”

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.  He scampered down the baseline, wide eyed and startled.  Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second!”

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.  By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball.  The smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.  He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third baseman's head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.  All were screaming, “Shay, Shay, Shay, all the way Shay!”

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, “Run to third Shay, run to third!”

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, “Shay, run home!  Run home!”

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team.

“That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world.”

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

AND NOW A LITTLE FOOTNOTE TO THIS STORY:

We all send thousands of jokes through the e-mail without a second thought, but when it comes to sending messages about life choices, people hesitate.

The crude, vulgar, and often obscene pass freely through cyber space, but public discussion about decency is too often suppressed in our schools and workplaces.

If you're thinking about forwarding this message, chances are that you're probably sorting out the people in your address book who aren't the 'appropriate' ones to receive this type of message. Well the person who sent you this believes that we all can make a difference.

We all have thousands of opportunities every single day to help realize the “natural order of things.”

So many seemingly trivial interactions between two people present us with a choice:

Do we pass along a little spark of love and humanity or do we pass up those opportunities and leave the world a little bit colder in the process?  A wise man once said every society is judged by how it treats it's least fortunate amongst them.

May your day be a Shay Day.