Archive — Personal
Photo — 2018-10-18
Photo — 2018-09-26
Photo — 2018-09-16
Alex and I took our friends Louise and Jamie to a bread making workshop as part of a wedding present.
Thank you to Colin at Bread in Fife, who led the class and was great fun to work with. Formerly based in Freuchie in Fife, he has since moved to Edinburgh — but remains called Bread in Fife.
We had fantastic fun making bread that we baked in a Dutch oven. We each had our own recipe to follow. I made a wholemeal loaf, Alex made a walnut boule, Louise made a white cob, and Jamie made a harvest loaf.
While waiting for the dough to prove, we made digestive biscuits. We also made a Russian bridie-like pie called a pirozhki, which contained an onion and egg filling.
Lunch for this week is sorted!
The carrot is not important — Chasing it is
Two related posts from Jason Kottke.
I think I fall into the camp of people who don’t want or need a goal. Alex once astutely pointed out that I will set myself a goal, then work towards it, and once I reach my goal, I stop.
I tell myself that it’s harder to cycle in winter, and Pedal for Scotland happens to fall at the point in the year where it’s getting darker in the evenings. But perhaps that’s just an excuse. I plan to start running and doing other forms of exercise to make sure I keep fit in winter as well.
Anyway, the point is, perhaps a goal is useless if you think of it as the only point. I love this idea — that chasing the carrot is more important than the carrot itself.
Sara Soueidan on why you should just write, regardless of what the voice in your head may be telling you.
Start a blog and publish your writings there. Don’t think about whether or not people will like or read your articles — just give them a home and put them out there.
Most popular blogs I know started out as a series of articles that were written for the authors themselves, as a way to document their process and progress for their future selves to reference when they needed to.
Like Sara, I have found it difficult at times over the years to publish stuff to my blog, out of fear that it wouldn’t be good enough.
Over this past year I have committed to publishing something every day. It is not always high-quality. But doing so has been good for me, and has achieved most of what I had hoped for.
Dundee’s renaissance — a personal, alternative view
Brian Taylor reflects on Dundee’s resurgence.
But mostly this renaissance is driven by the collective will of the people.
It is marvellous to behold.
Together, they have decided to stop apologising for their city. They have decided to revisit her ancient history and, hopefully, pursue her proud future.
See also: The city with grand designs
A fantastic piece on the history of Dundee’s creative renaissance, which has been decades in the making.
Congratulations and good luck to everyone involved in the V&A Dundee, which opens this weekend. I will be visiting later this month.
Inventive tips for separating your job from your life when you work from home
I don’t work from home, but I still enjoyed this piece on little rituals that help you separate work time from personal time.
I’m glad of my 30 minute buffer between home and work. As I’ve said before, I wouldn’t reduce it. The walk helps me ease my way into the day, and gives me the headspace to prepare for what’s to come, or — if it’s the end of my day — what’s just happened.
Photo — 2018-09-08
Alex took me to Training for Warriors, the high-intensity interval training programme she attends three times a week. Usually it is a women-only session. But today, regulars were invited to bring their male partners with them.
Alex was keen for me to see what she gets up to at Training for Warriors. I was a little reticent about going, because this isn’t really my sort of thing. I prefer moderate runs or long bike rides by myself.
True enough, I struggled at elements of today’s session. I have never been good at push-ups and the like — and moreover, I have never felt the need to get good at them.
Training for Warriors is also big on community spirit, with participants encouraging each other on. As an introvert, I actually find that sort of thing distracting, and more than once I flopped to the floor when someone spoke to me mid-push-up. I’ll stick to the solo bike rides!
Speaking of which, I’m doing Pedal for Scotland tomorrow. So I was also concerned about making myself sore or tired out ahead of 45 miles of riding tomorrow.
But although today was tough for me, I also found it enjoyable. I’m glad to have gone today, and really pleased that Alex is so enthusiastic about it.
Photo — 2018-08-28
Dinner at the Atomium.
Photo — 2018-08-27
Epic drive-through beer shop near Spa!
It’s called Drive-In Andrien, and it’s one of the most surreal places I’ve been to. You drive in through a garage door, and you’re basically in the Costco of Belgian beer. Many beers were purchased, and our wallets are not that much lighter…
Keeping digital teams happy versus keeping customers happy
Gerry McGovern tells the story of trying to persuade a digital team of what they needed to fix.
“It would be nice to fix these problems,” one person said. “But the team needs also to be able to do exciting things. We need to be able to innovate.”
Unfortunately, people at work often place too much emphasis on their own enjoyment. But our work only has meaning if it is providing value to someone.
Work shouldn’t be exciting. There’s a job to do.
Photo — 2018-08-26
Chilling on Eau Rouge (or is it Raiddilon?) after the Belgian Grand Prix.
Photo — 2018-08-25
Belgian Grand Prix beer times. 🍺
It’s not lost on us that it’s 10:30am at home. But it’s party time all the time at the Verstappen stand.
Photo — 2018-08-24
We’re here at Spa-Francorchamps!
Photo — 2018-08-23
Campervan fun times
Photo — 2018-08-22
Would you believe it! Our campervan is orange. We’ll fit right in with the Max Verstappen fans!
Tomorrow I set off on holiday for two weeks. I have scheduled some link posts for the duration of my holiday so that the mirage of my daily publishing is maintained. So if anything seems weirdly incongruous, or if I seem strangely unresponsive to any comments, that's why. Read full article5 comments
It’s official: Open plan offices are now the dumbest management fad of all time
New research suggests that open plan offices hinder collaboration rather than help it.
Previous studies of open plan offices have shown that they make people less productive, but most of those studies gave lip service to the notion that open plan offices would increase collaboration, thereby offsetting the damage.
The Harvard study, by contrast, undercuts the entire premise that justifies the fad. And that leaves companies with only one justification for moving to an open plan office: less floor space, and therefore a lower rent.
My current office is my first open plan one. I am still ambivalent about the benefits or otherwise of open plan. The shift may have contributed to my feeling that I had lost my mojo.
I definitely make heavy use of chat and messaging to communicate with people a couple of desks away. That might not necessarily be a bad thing. But I do miss the gently assertive act of simply walking into someone’s office to get their attention. It all seems a bit more difficult to do that in an open plan office.
Photo — 2018-08-04
Platforms, agile, trust, teams and werewolves
Sometimes you go to conferences or meetups and they feel like a bit of a chore. You end up listening to a lot of PR spin from people who only want to share the best good news they’ve got. They’re usually under pressure to show their best side, and to sell their own success. We get why that happens, but it can be a dull experience if you’re in the audience.
This point from Giles Turnbull at Public Digital chimes with something that has been on my mind a bit recently.
People often talk about “failing fast” or being “unafraid to fail”. But those same people are often suspiciously unwilling to speak about their failures.
In a way that is understandable. But it would be good to hear more people genuinely opening up about the things that have gone wrong. Don’t just constantly trumpet the things that are going great (or the things that aren’t going great, but you say they are). If it’s true that you learn from failure, help others by sharing that — as well as your success stories.
Note — 2018-07-31
From tomorrow, Facebook will stop allowing automated posts to personal Facebook profiles. Dodgy ads, fake news and inflammatory content are all still allowed of course. But that’s how Facebook make their money. So normal people’s automated updates is what they’re clamping down on.
As a result, updates from my blog have stopped appearing on my Facebook profile.
In the words of an email WordPress.com have sent out about this:
We believe that eliminating cross-posting from WordPress is another step back in Facebook’s support of the open web, especially since it affects people’s ability to interact with their network (unless they’re willing to pay for visibility).
Funny that. 🤔
So if you would like to stay up to date with me on Facebook, I have now set up a page for my website — where it will still be possible for the updates to be pushed out to Facebook.
However, I would encourage you to stay up to date another way. I don’t push everything out to Facebook. So the only way to be updated on everything I post is to subscribe to the RSS feed or email notifications.
Since this was pretty much all I used Facebook for by now, my Facebook profile will probably become very quiet.
Photo — 2018-07-21
Understanding user behaviour for online learning recruitment
The University of Edinburgh Website and Communications team has recently been heavily involved in a pilot project to improve the journey of prospective online learning students, from investigation to offer. Read about our user research approach and how we ensured project outputs met the needs of users.
Photo — 2018-07-09
Don’t look down.
At the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead.
Photo — 2018-07-07
Photo — 2018-07-02
Putting with pals in North Berwick yesterday evening
UX Scotland 2018 — my day-by-day notes
Some more follow-up to the UX Scotland conference, which I have published over on the University of Edinburgh Website Programme blog.
I set myself the challenge of writing a summary of each session I attended at UX Scotland, as a way of forming my own thoughts on each topic, and to make sure to follow up on everything I wanted to.
This resulting blog post is long. But I am sharing this on the basis that others might find it useful and seek to learn more about these topics, as I did.
The rise of business bullshit — and how we can fight it
The modern organisation is obsessive about collaboration and consultation – but encouraging everyone’s opinions on everything invites bullshit.
Social media should have taught us by now that more opinions aren’t necessarily better…
The same applies to work. More consultation = more bullshit.
This is so true. Increasingly, I find myself feeling exasperated if I’m asked the provide an opinion on something I have no evidence about. We are often pressurised into giving opinions — “you’re supposed to be the expert”.
Baseless opinions fly around left, right and centre in any workplace. The last thing the world needs is another middle class dude like me with yet another opinion.
Let’s find the evidence instead.
UX Scotland 2018 write up
My colleagues and I have gathered together our thoughts on our highlights of the UX Scotland conference.
I am also in the process of writing up some further thoughts on most of the other sessions, which I will publish to the University Website Programme blog soon.
But in the meantime, find out about my top three sessions, and the things I intend to put into practice as a result of attending the conference.
Photo — 2018-06-16
Settling in for a night watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Only 15½ hours to go!
Hacking your innovation mindset
Design thinking is about being a problem finder, not just a problem solver.
This line has reminded me of a project or two from the past year. Some of my biggest eureka moments have been around understanding what the problem actually was, and not what I had been told it was.
Note — 2018-06-13
Photo — 2018-06-07
Thom Yorke and friends at the Usher Hall
Why small teams win
Paul Taylor argues that small teams are undervalued, drawing an interesting comparison with introverts.
These small teams promote autonomy but also a better approach to collaboration. Having lots of small teams means they all need to be able to work together and to be able to access the common resources of the company, in order to achieve their larger goals.
The thinking has precedence in things like Brooks’ Law – which states that “adding manpower to a late project makes it later.” Getting bigger often means your communication overheads grow and doesn’t necessarily yield faster results. As Brooks said: “Nine women can’t make a baby in one month.”
The subtle sexism of your open plan office
When the architect responsible for an open plan office that made women feel watched compared it to being on a nudist beach, he undermined himself.
“I think it’s like going to a nudist beach. You know, first you’re a little bit worried that everyone’s looking at you, but then you think, hang on, everybody else is naked, no one’s looking at each other,” he told the researchers. “I think that’s what’ll happen, they’ll get on with it.”
The only problem is that sociological research of nudist beaches has shown that people do continue to watch each other–“men in particular, often in groups, look obsessively at women,” the researchers write. This kind of all-glass, no-privacy environment leads to a subtle kind of sexism, where women are always being watched and thus judged on their appearances, causing anxiety for many employees.
See also: What makes the perfect office?
“The workplace is killing people and nobody cares”
CEOs are the cause of the health care crisis: You are the source of stress, stress causes chronic disease, and chronic disease is the biggest component of our ongoing and enormous health care costs.
Photo — 2018-05-10
Do academic disciplines engage society?
An idea for how academia can make itself more relevant and accessible:
[I]t has been my view that universities should present their ‘shop windows’ in a more thematic way, with less of an emphasis on traditional Faculty structures (law, economics, physics, engineering, and so forth), and more on issues of general public and social concern. This will be easier if we do not construct all academic argument around the single subjects in which we were once trained.