A week in which I…
- Saw the team start to drift off on their Christmas holidays, some of them combined with summer holidays if they live in the Southern Hemisphere. Laughed as I heard one of the team was going down to Margate; the South African version looks a little more upmarket than our one here in England.
- Kept leaving work every day with more on the to-do list than I started, for the second week running. I am looking forward to having some focused time to catch up when I get back to work the week after next, with most of the team still being out.
- Continued to be very involved in the process of selecting the right kit to run in the new meeting rooms in my client’s London office. It seems that you have to pick a platform to be the centre of your universe and then bolt on other things around it. So, for example, if you mainly use Microsoft Teams then you’ll need to look at purchasing interoperability add-ons for BlueJeans, Zoom, Webex etc. It’s a bit of a gamble as the videoconferencing market is so fluid. Given that my client is focused around Microsoft it makes sense that Teams is the primary platform. It doesn’t look like our dream of simple self-service for every meeting is achievable just yet.
- Was impressed by a BlueJeans who went out of their way to work with us as quickly as possible. We had someone rush halfway across London to provide some sample kit a few hours after we first spoke. Really impressive customer service. It’s such a joy to work with people who go out of their way to help.
- Got some key orders over the line such as new laptops for the New York office. Most of the kit is now there, but we couldn’t close out on the networking gear in time so they will have to be ordered as soon as everyone is back in January. I’ll be planning the details of the rollout soon and hopefully we have enough information to make a solid plan. Next year is likely to involve quite a bit more travel.
- Ran a pilot training session for our new soft phone system. I knew that session would be guided by the participants and we wouldn’t cover half of the things we wanted to; this is exactly how it played out. The participants brought sots of questions, some venting as a pressure-release valve from recent experiences and we also had a senior executive popping in late to telling us that they “only have 20 minutes” — all par for the course. The session was as valuable to me as I hope it was to everyone else, and gave us some good ideas as to how we need to restructure the training before we open it up in January to a wider audience. The consensus is that although we still have a lot of work to do to get the phone system to a level of quality and reliability that we are happy with over the next few months, being able to use the ‘land line’ phones from an app on any mobile device, anywhere you are in the world, is a game-changer.
- Said ‘welcome back’ to a colleague who sits next to me in the office who had been out of the office for a few weeks. He’d been missed.
- Had lunch with my client for the first time in a long while, to mark the end of the year.
- Scratched my head as our SD-WAN reported connection blips for different sites, which seemed to resolve themselves as soon as they occurred and had no visible user impact.
- Somehow managed to squeeze in some governor work on my commute and late in the evening. I still feel like I’m treading water and just about getting the urgent stuff done. I am hoping that I can catch up next week when I am off for Christmas, although I’m also trying to not be too ambitious as I know the holiday will slip through my fingers in a flash.
- Joined the WB-40 Global Canteen videoconference for a Friday afternoon catch-up. It’s only the second time I’ve been able to hop on the call, and once again I found Matt Ballantine to be the only one there. The concept is great — a coffee and a catch-up with people beyond the office — and it was lovely to hear about Matt’s new job and the challenges he’s facing.
- Attended Album Club #106 to hear Ben Folds Five’s debut. Great hosting and a lovely evening of music and talking nonsense. We’re going into our ninth year next year and it’s still the best night of the month. I enjoyed the album but it wasn’t up there with the greatest things I’ve heard; it took a few songs for me to get into it and I’m not convinced by Ben Folds’ ‘geeky’ vocals.
- Spent Saturday in London with the family, meandering our way and shop-hopping from Euston to the London Palladium to see the panto. A lunchtime visit to Leon saw me tuck into my third delicious LOVe Burger of the week, perhaps one too many. The pantomime was good, but not as great as I had hoped; the review in The Guardian nails it with the description of it as “a case of double the entendres and half the story”. There’s always some fun at the panto where there are rude jokes that largely go over the childrens’ heads, but this one had the balance wrong — there were whole sections of nothing but innuendo, much of which seems very dated now.
- Saw a silent disco walking tour, where the group sing along as they move from place to place. Nice concept!
- Watched Stand By Me for the first time in years. It still really holds up. It’s weird watching it now that I’m around the same age as the dad telling the story, given that I was around the same age as the boys in the film when I first saw it. I hadn’t realised that it is based on a Stephen King short story.
- Caught up with some sleep, and got back on the bike again with a couple of turbo trainer rides. The day feels a whole lot better once some exercise is out of the way.
Next week: A week off for Christmas.