The last repeating date of the century

It’s not as much fun as the binary dates that ended last year, but it is the very last repeating date of the century and certainly the last I will see in my (organic) lifetime 🙂 So felt like a blog post to commemorate it.

Image courtesy of Mashable who have some ideas in their post for how to celebrate.

There are a couple of region-specific dates left, though not quite as much fun. Those of us who use day-month-year format still have 20/12/2012 coming up next week. And those who use month-day-year format also get the full sound check day in eleven years time on 12/31/23…

How to make a smile

Dance! 🙂

It is insanely difficult not to smile whilst watching ‘Where the hell is Matt?’ Was sure I’d blogged this in the past but it’s not showing up on my site search. So if I did, blame Google. Thought this would make a nice post (and a break from the serious stuff) as we head towards the end of 2009.

And also worth watching, the outtakes. Keep going right to the end… Enjoy.

What sports car are you?

The latest fun time-waster quiz going around, spotted via Eileen. I love the car but not so sure about the description. One of the elite? Not a chance. I’ll take the rest though 🙂

I’m a Porsche 911!

You have a classic style, but you’re up-to-date with the latest technology. You’re ambitious, competitive, and you love to win. Performance, precision, and prestige – you’re one of the elite,and you know it.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Feel-good Friday

Haven’t come up with a Friday thought, so thought (ooh, there’s one!) I’d share a smile instead. And it is Friday 13th so, if you’re having problems with black cats and ladders…

In case you’ve never seen it, here is Boundin’ – a Pixar short story. Nice tale if you’re feeling blue or worried about change… or have simply never dared to walk under that ladder:

Link to Boundin’ on YouTube

Don’t need a pick-me-up? Let’s go for giggles instead. Two of my favourites – For the birds (don’t be mean) and Lifted (hilarious):

Link to For the Birds on YouTube

Link to Lifted on YouTube

Aside from great story-telling, I think the quality of animation – particularly facial expressions – is just brilliant. You can download the movies from iTunes. Playing them on my iPod when travelling into/out of London always gets me chuckling (and strange looks from the silent majority on the Tube).

Road Twitter

Here in the UK, it appears our Highways Agency has caught on to the idea of Twitter. In recent years, we’ve had overhead digital display boards installed along the majority of our motorways. The displays can show a limited number of characters, so messages have to be short. Originally, they were to be used for traffic updates, to help warn of and/or avoid congestion, such as:

‘Accident on M1. Use M6’

‘Queue after next junction’

Then they started giving you advice about the weather:

‘Fog! Slow down’

To be fair, one of the motorways (M40) is very susceptible to patchy fog – one minute you have bright sunshine, the next you can’t see the car in front.

Then we started getting general traffic updates:

’16 minutes to Junction 8′

Utterly useless when you have no idea how many miles it is to Junction 8 on the M6. The controller of the boards on the M40 is a little brighter:

‘To Junction 5, 16 miles, 16 minutes’

And then the Twitter messages started to appear:

‘Tired? Take a break’

The current favourite:

‘Check your fuel levels’

Somebody needs to remind the people in charge that every time we read the sign we are not watching the road. It’s a matter of time before the signs are blamed for causing an accident. They were meant to be used occasionally for alerts, not to continuously tweet driving instructions. What next? ‘Service your car regularly’, ‘Check your tax disc?’, ‘Test your brakes’ (hmmm, that one could cause trouble). And the continuous use of the displays for general messages means we will start to ignore them and not notice when there really is an alert on display…

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. The technology was installed for a reason. Using it for other purposes risks eliminating its benefits.

Technorati tag: Twitter

Who had a big influence on you

I’ve been tagged to complete a meme. Like Steve, I’m not a huge fan of tagging memes, they are a harmless version of the chain letter. But Steve is a good friend, the meme is a nice one and this story will go full circle back to Steve, nicely feeding my fascination with feedback loops.

I’ve been fortunate to have benefited from the wisdom of so many people through my life, it doesn’t seem fair to only call out one. But to avoid writing an autobiography…

I never really planned a career in I.T. (or a career at all, for that matter), it just sort of happened. Half way through school, I discovered horses. And from that point on, every decision revolved around finding more time (and money) to be able to work with horses. Whilst sensible people went off to Uni, I went to a training centre to improve my riding skills. When I ran out of money (happens when you are around horses), I grabbed the first job on offer (there weren’t many for non-graduates). Bored senseless by paperwork, I automated most of my job using macros in Lotus 1-2-3 and within a few months became the the IT dept.

Fast forward a few years, and one day I found myself in the atrium at Microsoft in the UK. I had just turned down a job offer and was persuaded to come in and chat with someone who was doing the job on offer. He made a simple comment that struck a chord. One month later, I was a Microsoft employee. And that change of mind without doubt changed the direction of my life. I had a fantastic time working at Microsoft and met amazing people along the way, many of whom I feel lucky to consider friends. The experience gained has opened up a world of new opportunities. All thanks to one person’s words of wisdom! That person was Ewan. Steve will know who I mean 🙂

Adding in another feedback loop, horses are still influencing decisions. Two years ago, the opportunity arose to move to Microsoft’s HQ in Redmond. It was the logical next step and I was all set to go. But the offer was for me alone and I just wasn’t ready to give up the horses. Instead, I left. And so the journey continues… 🙂