2017 Plans

As 2016 draws to a close, I’ve been spending the past few weeks mapping out my plans for the 2017 period.

2016 has (mostly!) been an enjoyable blast. It has been a privilege and pleasure to have been able to serve JCI as a 2016 Vice President for Europe, and also as a member of the 2016 Board of Directors. I still find it engaging (and amazing!) to be involved in such a diverse yet impactful organisation, represented by 200,000+ members in over 100 countries.

161215 JCI

On a personal front, 2016 has been a pivotal year for me. Despite appearances to the contrary (and really – you’d definitely think otherwise if you ever saw any of my Facebook photos!) I’m a pretty introvert person by nature and the number of people I trust and confide in is tiny-tiny (easily counted on one hand). Well, 2016 has been a year where I added one additional count to that tiny-tiny circle. Probably a “meh” to anyone and everyone else, but certainly a big life moment for me. So, happy days…!

Less happy (but not necessarily unhappy) is the business and professional front. Aberdeen as a whole has had a tough time this year, in large part due to the drop in oil prices and downturn in the industry. On top of that, I don’t think my company has had the time, attention and love that it perhaps needed over the past 12 months. We’ve made it through, though – and 2017 promises to start well, business-wise…

…and onwards to 2017

I spent an entire weekend scribbling out a mind-map of my plans/goals for 2017, and many more days fleshing out specific milestones and goals. Obviously, I’m not inclined to share this – but I do recommend this particular navel-gazing exercise as it’s great to be able to review your year past, and plan for your next year, at a very broad level.

Speaking (writing?) in very general terms, I have three key focuses for 2017.

Business: I said earlier that the company needs some time, attention and love. Well, I’m certainly going to ensure that it gets that from me. Much as I quite dislike “running” a company, I very much love what our company *does*. So, 2017 will be a year of focussing more on what I/we enjoy (getting to grips with great new technologies, and making them useful to our clients) and less stressing about the back-end admin stuff… We’re reviewing our company and its performance with a fairly critical eye at the moment, and should see a broad set of changes in 2017 which will put us (and hopefully our clients!) in a much better place…

Politics: Yeah, this is going to be my next big challenge – one I’m both nervous and excited about… The past few years have been fascinating to watch in terms of both national and global politics – we’ve had some divisive referendums, and certainly some surprising political campaigns and results! I love that there appears to be greater engagement in politics and government today – surely a great sign of a healthy democracy. Having said that, I’m far less enamoured with the outright dishonesty in some segments of politics, as well as the polarisation of debate and the tendency for political discourse to take place within non-productive echo chambers. I’ve spent many years lamenting about these latter issues – but isn’t it easy to snipe from the sidelines as a passive spectator? So, I’ve taken the decision to roll up my sleeves (figuratively) and to “muck in” and get more politically engaged. Partially because I want to do my part to steer politics – and political discourse – into a more open, communicative and collaborative party-agnostic effort. And partially because engaging in politics at a hands-on level really provides a direct avenue to engage with the local community, and with the larger society. And thus, onto…

Community: This goes very much hand-in-hand with my focus on Politics above. I see being engaged in politics as the mechanism by which I can best contribute to the local and national community. In a way, this is an extension of what I’ve been doing in JCI – except I’m now taking a more direct route to getting engaged with the community. My big drive – my focus – is on engaging in youth development and creating more opportunities for young people in society today. I’m acutely aware that I’ve been extremely fortunate – and privileged – to have had the upbringing and education that I’ve had. I’m also extremely aware that there are many in our community and society who have not had the best starts in life. I absolutely believe that within every person is a potential volunteer/employee/entrepreneur/artist/contributor – a person who can add to society, given the right support and opportunity. It’s my desire, and goal, to engage in this area and to help grow the support and opportunities for self-development of people in our community.

A Quick Summary, then…

On the business front, I don’t doubt there will be big, sweeping changes. Which is quite healthy for us, as complacency and stagnation are easy death-traps for any technology-driven company to fall into.

On the politics and community front, it’ll be small, baby steps. I’m very new to the field of politics (as a participant; not as a spectator) so I’m starting small and in my local area. On the community, I still intend to contribute via JCI, but hopefully amplified with my newer engagement in local and national politics. It’ll be a steep learning curve, I’m sure – but the end goals and the learning process in the interim will make it more than worthwhile…!

So, uh, wish me luck‽ Smile with tongue out

Reboot for 2017

Oops! Smile with tongue out

My last post was in August 2014? Oh dear, that’s a bit of a lag…! Also, an additional déjà vu for the gist of this post, as I’m sure some previous posts here have gone “oh, hello, I haven’t posted for a while”!

I don’t really have an excuse for the extremely sporadic posts. Having said that, it’s not like the world has been craving for my Herculean wit.

Since 2014, I’ve had some adventures. My company has moved office (we’re based in Banchory now), I’ve travelled a lot, I’ve been the JCI National President and then subsequently a JCI Vice President for Europe (phew, that’s a mouthful of a job title), and have generally been having a (mostly alcohol-fuelled) stonkingly good time.

2017 promises more of the same. I might become a slightly more visible (and public!) character (we shall see), I intend to spend more time improving and growing the business, I want to tangentially deviate a bit from my usual working life to spend some time in youth development, and I intend to continue the theme of living life by creating ridiculous memories with friends.

Let’s see how it goes, eh? Also (and back to that “public life” hint), I might have to post more of those exploits here. Thank goodness no-one really reads this blog, right? Right?!?

Reboot!

Well… It has been a while since I last posted something up here! Happily, as I’ve recently been spending some time planning a revamp of our company’s web site, I’ve also had reason/motivation to revisit this blog!

Let’s see if I can’t make posting my thoughts a regular thing… 🙂

I’m not Dead (but you probably wished I were :-)

10th November?!?

That’s a long, long passage of not much happening in this space, if measured in Blog Time!

I guess it’s because I’m usually in the habit of writing overtly long, pompously pretentious drivel that spilled across multiple pages and required hours to read.  I haven’t had time recently to write that sort of guff…

However, I do realise that I’m remiss for not popping any updates at all, so this will now be rectified…

I commit – at the very least – to write (or notify) about stuff that gives me a raging hard-on.  Thankfully, these are usually technology-related, so no hentai schoolgirl links here (clean dictionary definition here).

On the odd occasion, I may also find time on my hands…  At which point I’ll write another bit of overtly long, pompously pretentious drivel that I know no-one will read.

Yippee – the interweb being polluted with yet more nonsense! Smile

Waterboarding – What’s All the Fuss About?

It’s been a while since I muttered anything provocative… So – lest the world start falling in love with me – I’d better stir up some controversy just for the sake of it…

Waterboarding

Waterboarding, despite sounding like a fun beach activity (like sandcastle building), is apparently lambasted as a cruel form of torture.  “Nonsense”, say I.  It’s a fairly necessary, if painful, fact of life – very much like getting your wisdom tooth removed.  Let’s look at the facts:

Waterboarding is not lethal

Like MMR jabs, waterboarding is a perfectly safe – and well tested – form of interrogation.  As far as I am aware, no-one has actually drowned or otherwise died from waterboarding techniques.  It’s as permanently harmful as a particularly smelly fart.  In short, there is no lasting physical damage.  In fact, one could argue (weakly) that enduring waterboarding may actually have positive health benefits – being able to hold your breath for longer, being one such bonus.

101109Snorkelling
As for psychological damage?  Well, just about everyone has encountered at least one harrowing psychological event in their lives (like accidentally peeing themselves while having a night in the town).  We deal with it, get over it, and move on.  Let’s face it – frightening though it may be at the time, people like to boast about scars and broken legs and near-misses after the fact.  Being interrogated by waterboarding is just another badge of honour to wear and boast about!

 

Waterboarding saves lives

Waterboarding, as an intelligence gathering technique, has a reasonable success rate.  If it didn’t – then more effective (and potentially more permanently damaging) techniques would have been employed.  Now – neither our government nor the US government is likely to be able to divulge exactly what incidents have been prevented thanks to intelligence gathered by waterboarding interrogations (for our own national security, you understand).  But most certainly, lives have been saved due to information gathered by waterboarding.  And if we don’t have faith in the word of our democratically elected leaders, we may as well move to China or Zimbabwe where the ruling party don’t even pretend that you have a say…

CHINA-BRITAIN/

 

Optional Interrogations

Well then – I think I’ve fairly well elucidated how waterboarding is completely acceptable – the double-whammy of saving lives without taking any is quite a nice combination.

Of course – you have the human rights activists who are all about mollycoddling people with cotton gloves.  However, in this wonderfully democratic society (that waterboarding techniques have been invented for in order to keep safe) they are most certainly entitled to have an opinion.

And definitely, we need to be seen to be a benevolent and respectful country.  Which is why I propose the two-stage interrogation technique – thus giving potential life-takers the option of how they wish to divulge information.

Naturally – being a civil British lot – we’d offer them a lovely cup of tea with biscuits, and have a pleasant natter for information gathering.  For civil and intelligent terrorists – they know that they will ultimately have to divulge any information our governments require, and proffering information at this early stage will save a lot of hassle, pain and bad feeling all around.  However, should they not appreciate the tea/biscuit gesture, then we’ll all have to go through the non-lethal, less convenient interrogation routine.

But really – along with flu jabs, pulling wisdom teeth and removing appendices, what is all the fuss about?

Compulsory Relocation Order

If you’re reading this on the web, then you’ll have undoubtedly noticed a whole new look and feel to this blog.  The logo below pretty much explains it all:

WindowsLiveWordPress

As part of Microsoft’s recent overhaul of the Windows Live products and services, the Windows Live Spaces services is being retired – with tenants being served a six-month eviction notice.  As WordPress is the partner of choice for Microsoft, it made sense to leap over onto their platform.

The official announcement from Microsoft is here, and a welcome message from WordPress here.

So – the upshot is that I have a slightly fresher-looking home:

WindowsLiveSpaces WordPress

I’m still settling in – so expect the site to undergo some changes over the next few days/weeks as I discover WordPress functionality.  It’s great to see that Windows Live Writer (get the 2011 final release here) makes it fairly straightforward to connect to your WordPress blog (amongst other popular blogging services).

Despite creating a custom migration process from Windows Live Spaces to WordPress, I initially had difficulty porting everything across, and it appears I’m not the only one.  In particular, it appears that many people are having problems moving to a new (rather than existing) WordPress blog – the “fix” is detailed here (requires assistance from MS support).  I’d recommend creating an account and empty blog in WordPress first, and then plugging those credentials into the migration process when prompted – as opposed to creating a new WordPress account/blog during migration, as this is where everyone appears to be having problems.

Anyhow – I’m here, and unpacking the furniture.  Huzzah!

3 Years of Lost Gaming

Ho hum…

I’ve been having some issues with my Live ID recently, but one of the knock-on effects has been that my Xbox gamertag has become corrupted.

I spent three years casually gaming and accomplishing this:

GamerTagBroken

Now, I’ve been reduced to this:

GamerTagNew

Yes – this is all a tad upsetting.  As someone mentioned – it’s funny how an arbitrary number can become so important…  For me – it symbolised three years of great gaming and some hard work (or mad skills) to get some of the harder achievements (full completion of BioShock and Legendary achievements for Halo 3 and Halo 3: ODST took a bit of time).

So here I am, on the launch day of Halo: Reach with a near-clean slate of Xbox gaming.  I guess the bright side is that I’m going to get a lot of replayability out of my old games!  Oh – and at least Microsoft chucked in a 12 month Xbox Live Gold Subscription by way of apology…

…Ho Hum, indeed!