Saturday, 4 April 2015

Lifecycle management

So LifeCycle Management is something those of us in enterprise IT think about regularly (nearly all week if you're in the scale of company I am), but do we really expect the average home consumer to understand and do this?

In the office my team spend just as much time looking at and managing interoperability & technology debt for the existing estate as they do scouting, planning and on-boarding new techniques & technologies. Is this healthy? No. Is this necessary? Most certainly is (sadly).

So in my consumer world I've had 3 similar tech-debt related topics :-

1) Panasonic Viera plasma TV that has never got that firmware they promised to add it's smart-TV features and make use of the Ethernet port...

2) SkyTV High Definition set-top-box that has generally worked fine for years, then received an OTA software update automatically. Ever since it has crashed & locked up every day, steadfastly refused to download any on-demand content and been decidedly unreliable. Queue questions to support answered with "oh yes we've fixed those bugs and released a new software version. But not for your box as that model is old. Would you like to buy a new one?". (A more cynical person might suggest deliberate bugs & sales as a 'managing dissatisfaction' technique for revenue boost - but that's crediting businesses with too much intelligence).

3) BT Infinity HomeHub-5 has a reputation of fast internet speeds but poor customer service and shoddy software. Sadly around the festive period just gone BT released & automatically applied a software update to these devices, with a consequence of them rebooting many times each day. Killing internet connections and driving the exchanges to incorrectly cap negotiation speeds (assuming line instability issues). It took many many weeks of denial before a hot-fix roll out finally started, now line stability is fixed it would be good to address the dire WiFi stability. Honestly I've seen more stable "alpha" lab code...

Oh and just don't get me going on the utterly horrendous and farcical process of mobile device firmware & software updating (or lack of), as that may just tip me over the edge...

It's very clear that the topic of duration & nature of software updates needs to be covered in the original purchase - with computer software it's now clear and upfront dialogue. But with devices, if you ask how long they are going to support & update the software in your fridge most retailers look as if you're speaking Martian.

It's also clear to me that there are strong employment opportunities for great release & QA people and ethical product managers in many consumer services businesses.

So honestly, I think we're going through a home innovation phase of chaos - with consumer houses littered with half working, half finished electronic devices; not good for anyone! Clearly this will only get worse with IoT and M2M proliferating semi-manageable elements.

There is a time & place for DevOps and I assure you consumer home electronics & appliances is not one of them!

Ps. Oh and when will I know that IoT is real & working? When either the oven or fridge in my new kitchen always have the correct time showing! My VCR from the '80s could do this so why does 2015's finest tech not??? (Hang your heads @SamsungUK & @BritanniaLiving)

PPs. Hello world, obviously I'm still here :)

Monday, 26 August 2013

Hic :)

So just a couple of additions to the bar this week, one day I'll get around to updating the full inventory - and one very happy week I'll get around to updating all my tasting notes :)

Oh and a quick update to the 'Grail Items' list on the blog - needless to say I've joined the crowd hunting the whisky unobtanium which is Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20yr so I'll be spending less time correcting IT vendor's crud, whilst I search the planet for (the only?) decent Bourbon around...


Friday, 16 August 2013

Still Here :)

Well contrary to popular belief (or is that wishes), I'm still around!

Just to prove it, I've done a brief update to the bar to reflect this month's new whisky additions... When I get chance I'll do a full stock-take and update it properly.

Needless to say I'm still very much involved in large scale global enterprise IT infrastructure, services and cloud - but feel less inclined to shout about it nowadays (more of that in another blog post).

In off-topic areas, we just spent another superb night at Midsummer House in Cambridge, not leaving until 01:30 with excellent service... And the same weekend I seem to have acquired a rather special artwork by James Mylne (warning link includes 'artistic image' - needless to say my wife & bank manager are giving me funny stares at the moment...

Oh and I've taken up tennis (in order to try and catch-up to my daughter & son), so watch out for stray yellow orbs flying in random directions!

More soon :)

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Hello strangers :)

So firstly, hello and welcome back; please forgive the cobwebs and dust - it's been a while..

So where have I been? Mostly seat 11C on Lufthansa flights to/from Düsseldorf, or BA flights to Milan - but mainly in meetings and working daft hours...

But, and here's the good bit, occasionally I get let out of my day job (well given I now have 3 employers this actually isn't very often) and I get to experience something really very good. So here goes...

A long time ago a great group of friends got together and decide that at least once a year we'd all get our posh togs on (or I'd at least shave and wear a suit) and dine out at a high quality restaurant to sample their fine food, wines & service.

This year it was my turn to sort it out - don't laugh! Sometimes I can actually  organise things in advance, and of an OK fashion - so this year I thought we'd go north, to the lakes and stunning Cumbria... So, here's a tale in picture form...

Space is a premium in Cumbria :)

Trying not to get too distracted we wondered around the local area, but a clue to our specific location

Until we found 'our house' for the weekend

Wonderful building full of charm & style

Until off we strolled into the village...

The Kings Arms (not my picture) for a light lunch snack - great beer & food (Aspen chips & beef sandwich fully recommended!)
The Kings Arms Cartmel

We then managed all of 50yds onto their sister pub Royal Oak Inn (not my picture)

The Royal Oak Inn

With beer courtesy of Hawkshead Brewery I full recommend the Windermere Pale as a gentle supping pint whilst watching the day go by :)

Finally after a brief refresh and smarten up back at 'our house', we walked 250yrds and
said hello to our real destination - 2 Michelin stars, 10/10 Good food guide, #2 in UK...

And on to the menu - yes there are no choices, just
 a full 17 course tasting menu (excluding the cheese, port & whiskies courses) to work through!

Oyster pebbles - meringues filled with an oyster mouse. Taste of the sea that dissolved deliciously. Complete with  Oyster Leaves to nibble. Just don't try and eat the real pebbles in there as well!

Cockles and seaweed - a seaweed cracker (like a prawn cracker) filled with a delicious cream with juicy cockles...

Smoked Eel with ham Fat - possibly one of the nicest starters I've ever tasted.  Crispy skin simply dissolves to leave juicy ham with eel - perfect! If they did take-outs or on-line orders I could live on these...

Squid with Chicken - a squid ink cracker with dots of oil, crispy chicken skin and a pate, delicious...

One of the most original presentation styles I've seen in a long time - pottery 'sacks' full of  "Crispy potato with Coddled Eggs". Perfection...

Cod yoke, sage cream, radish, salt & vinegar. Pea shoots with baked salt & vinegar rice.  

The taste effect is one of posh fish, chips & mushy peas :) Utterly brilliant...

Swede, turnip in a light but strong cheese sauce - delicious

Fresh warm three types of bread

The most superb Venison tartare with amazing candid balls tasting of pernod - a sublime mix of tastes and textures that I could eat again and again

Artichoke and truffles - purée and crispy fried, strong flavours done well 

Scallops and chard - delicious and I don't know what they do to the ruby chard but it's sublime 

A whole new meaning to beetroot and ox tongue - delicious

Plaice with mussels & leeks with celeriac  

Suckling pig belly pork and veg :) Sublime...

Sea buckthorn, buttermilk and squash - sweet & bitter deliciousness...

Quince, lemon verbena & hazelnut all done to look like rocks - fantastic!

Blackberries, plum, malt & stout

My kind of cones for dessert - Pear, Calamint & Sweet Cheese

Biscuits for the cheeses

A small selection of local cheeses that we made a good dent into, accompanied by some fine ports

The finest chocolate pudding ever according to the good Mrs F...

We sat down to our table at 7pm and left at midnight, the restaurant atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming - not overly formal like some, and happily accepted a variety of casual smart to formal dress codes. The staff were friendly, witty, well informed, discreet and professional - just how it should be.

Our stay in the house also included full breakfast the next morning, so at 9:30 we found ourselves back in the same restaurant at the same table enjoying a 4 course breakfast including full-English. Needless to say we left Cartmel very happy, with full stomachs and well rested and refreshed.

So finally on to some contacts for those people that made it possible :-

@Simon_Rogan  Owner and uber-Chef
@Lenclume the restaurant team
@MarkDBirchall  Head Chef
@rjwbex Superb front of house

L'enclume restaurant itself can be found here

We stayed in L'enclume House and can recommend it fully appreciate the fine service from Franck and the team.

The local cheese shop that supplies L'enclume and is a great place to spend an hour on Sunday morning browsing superb cheeses and nibbles :-

Will we be back? Oh yes definitely!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Storage Security

Now some time ago I wrote here about a storage security area that I was interested in (self encrypting drives within arrays), now I see that there are again updated documents and specifications from TCG on this area at :-

I'm also hearing from vendors that there 'effectively little/no' disk drive availability in the market that supports this standard - and hence array manufactures are diverging into their own kludges...

To be clear though, I don't see this as a prime means of security - I fully subscribe to 'protect information, and protect it from point of creation/ingestion' - but I see this as a useful tool to aid with drive swaps & array disposals...

So my questions are :-
a) Is anybody interested in this topic area?
b) What are people seeing / hearing in this area?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Happy New Year

So yes I'm still here, yes I'm still much the same, and doing much of the same as usual.

So why the 'Happy New Year'? Firstly to apologise for the oversight of missing to say so on Jan 1st (I blame too much work), but also to usher in a new finance year for the UK (and many global corporates) on April 1st.

So the new-FY always means chaos at the end of the previous finance year, from tidying up asset registers, receipting orders, ensuring old budgets are spent correctly, ensuring new budgets have been secured.  Oh and of course there's always the end-of-year deals to close, vendors selling their first born to hit revenue targets, negotiations to secure the renewal of license & support deals to ensure we don't have to switch off tens of thousands of servers today etc.

Naturally some weeble in Human Resources also decides that this is a great time to key many annual HR processes & events around. So just to add to the mix we normally have reorgs, holiday years, head-count & cost centre mngt, performance dialogues, performance grading calibration, rewards & recognition to sort out.

All in all, lots of 7 day weeks, a few over-nighters and frayed nerves during the corporate grind of the new year - much like quarterly stock market reporting, I do think that there has to be a better way.

My New-Years resolutions :-

  • Less time on work; much more time with family & friends
  • When I am at work, to raise the bar higher, firmer & quicker than ever before

So I hope you had a good new year, I'm having a few hours off in order to work out which way is up and recharge the weasel-word detector, before the next year on the treadmill commences.

Oh, and I've updated the bar at :)

(oh and I promise to post some of the 120+ draft blog posts soon!)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Amazon - Can we gift it?

So to the sounds of 

I have to ask the question to @KindleUK , @AmazonKindle & @Amazon "Can we fix gift it?"

Of course, what I'm referring to is the ability for customers to purchase gift eBooks for other Kindle users...

Now as per previous blog entries I'm a big fan of the Amazon Kindle - and last week was my father's birthday, so my mother purchased him a "Kindle Keyboard 3G". Naturally my brother & I both then planned to gift him a number of good books to read - perfect as he had a couple of long haul flights in the week after.

So on I trundled to the mighty and went to the Kindle store section - only to find that the only to manage this process in the UK is to buy a gift credit voucher, send that to your intended recipient, have them go shopping for the ebook and use the voucher... Not exactly simple, rather painful and most certainly a DIY present :(

Now of course if I'm a gun-toting, burger eating, economy trashing, redneck American this function has existed on the site here for a long time - but for some reason the mighty largest e-commerce site hasn't be able to enable this trivial feature for their international customers...

Honestly, does it really need to be this hard?