Friday, December 16, 2005
Well, it's not really a jump yet (although I built it up as one in my head), but I finally made the second step in progressing these ideas, talking with the top people in my division's HR area. And they were very enthusiastic about it, with several ideas for improvements and ways of moving it still further to a wider audience. Their knowledge and networks are key to any possibility of success for an initiative I think has real value. And knowing that people who see the good and the bad of our management on a daily basis think this is a worthwhile approach gives me a whole lot of confidence.
One of the things which has held me back has been that management within my division is already very good in a lot of cases, so there's a hesitance to fight the "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" mentality that may exist. But this is about helping managers take the step from being "OK" or "Good" to being "Awesome!", the kinds of leaders that people are excited to work with. As anyone reading my blog the past 12 months will have noticed, my work hasn't really been inspiring/challenging me too often. This is what I'm doing to change that. Something I am passionate about is the coaching/collaboration/mentoring aspect of my job and I feel that, while I still have heaps to learn, I can make a contribution. I want to play a role in improving the working life of not just my team but the whole organisation (nothing like aiming high!).
The past few weeks I've finally had some people assigned to work on my main project (after over 2 months of waiting), and the process of building a new team, one which is already performing well and working well together, is just the "juice" I've needed.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
After finishing today's weights session, and writing down my data (ooh, look who works at ABS...), I got to wondering what it would look like if I totalled up the weight I lifted. I had a feeling I was generally making positive progress, but how can a person be sure without some type of chart? So, being someone capable of making even the manly pursuit of lifting weights seem nerdy, here's the result.
I have to say it sounds impressive to me that in a given session I've gone from lifting around 600kg 3 months ago to lifting over 2 tonnes. I'll be turning green and ripping my shorts in no time!
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Sadly, most of the excellent core cast has been lacking in quality roles since. Jerry O'Connell hasn't done anything better (even Jerry Maguire, and his fun cameos in Can't Hardly Wait and The New Guy) [disclaimer: I didn't see him in Kangaroo Jack, so maybe that was his peak...]. Sabrina Lloyd has made a recent TV comeback in Numb3rs [pronounced "numb-three-rrs"]. John Rhys-Davies, the exception to the rule, well he obviously struggled to find high profile roles, except for a little trilogy called "Lord of the Rings". Luckily, having something of Sliders quality on your CV is enough to have me remember you fondly (I'm sure they're sleeping better for the knowledge...).
Monday, December 05, 2005
Metaphorical jumps in particular should be unencumbered by all my many reservations (ok, fears) about just about any change in my life. I've never been adventurous (ask anyone who knows me well, and I doubt that would feature in the top 1000 adjectives they'd apply to me. Try it in a sentence: "I can't believe how adventurous Bertie is" :) But is that "just me" or is it the me I believe myself to be? If I believe, really believe I'm a risk-taker, do I become one? Do I want to be? Is my cynicism about myself too ingrained?
Is the answer as important as the question?
Sunday, December 04, 2005
Side-note: One of the bottle shop in Byron Bay stocks the beer (Road Trip!), while Debacle is the only place in Canberra where it can be bought directly. Another reason to head North!
Friday, December 02, 2005
OK, now that I've got that out of my system, I have to retract my overstatement. On reflection, this isn't even a contender for worst song when compared with anything by The Streets (either the musical artist or the ice-cream mislabeller) or Macy Gray.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
Friday, November 25, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Over the titular "coffee", B and I were discussing the insular nature of Canberra relationships and I raised the analogy of musical chairs to describe the problem that once everyone in your group is "paired up" you can end up being single for a looooong time or, to quote B: "The loser who ends up with nobody to sit on." Thankfully my dark-ish sense of humour finds that as amusing as it was intended to be (not the harsh indictment of my sad life it might otherwise seem to be :)
But that whole musical chairs thing is really me being fate-alistic and not taking any responsibility for my poor record in meeting new people. When it comes down to it, my stability-liking ways have conspired to create a comfortable (but often lonely) place to exist.
Hmmm, not sure that didn't come out a little more self-pitying than I planned. Certainly not intended that way!
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Here's more detail and commentary on the proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill. For plenty more, just Google "australia sedition anti-terrorism". Sadly, all the discussion about it on the Web and other forms of media is all for naught, given the Liberal's supreme control of Australia's legislative powers. But at least we all have a chance to start practising our kow-towing before being locked up.
Monday, October 31, 2005
What's next? I plan to fix the BU enrolment form so it can actually send, maybe get some stats more recent than 2004, link the photos page to my Flickr account so I can include larger versions of the pictures and add in Road Trip reports from days gone by (and maybe a preview of the one currently being written). If you have any suggestions for things you'd like to see, just let me know.
Last weekend I went for a walk, finally organised enough to bring my camera with me to take shots of the scenery along my usual path. So, 10 minutes in, I took this photo. As I went for photo number 2, my camera gave me a friendly "Change batteries now" message and powered off.
As I'd prepared for my walk, the following checklist ran through my head: pants? check. keys? check. walkman? check. mobile phone? check. camera? check. Not once did I think a couple of AAs would come in handy. Lucky my one photo turned out well, and if it stops raining for more than 5 minutes at a time this week I might get to add to my collection of original digital art during my next traipse through the back of suburbia.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Yeah, the quality thing's important, and I will certainly still largely buy CDs. There's not much point owning expensive, big speakers and then listening to compressed music when I'm at home. Even my very untrained ear can hear the difference. But for those artists I only want a single from, iTunes is convenient (and close to instant). It avoids the only thing I hate about on-line shopping: delayed gratification.
"What's that, you've taken my money but I have to wait 3-30 days to watch my new DVD?"
MUST... BE... MORE... PATIENT...!
On a positive note, several of those slow-arriving DVDs have made their appearance at my door in the past 3 days: Veronica Mars, The Pretender Season 2, Arrested Development Season 2 and The Daily Show: Indecision 2004 all helping fill up the diminishing space on my shelves. I just broke the 500 mark!
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
I had suspected that would be a problem, so only purchased a single track (for $1.69, which is less than my $2 per track limit) - Dear God by XTC - to test it out.
So if I want to walk and listen to my legally purchased music at the same time, I'll have to buy an iPod. As much as I'd like to say I won't, on principle alone, I actually had planned to get a new player soon-ish, and I do love the convenience of purchasing music while sitting. So Apple may win on this one ... or I may just keep buying second-hand CDs and ripping away... or I'll just wait till the conversion software available to take DRMed music to plain old MP3s catches up to iTunes 6... Yeah, I like that last one. All the convenience of on-line shopping plus being able to listen to music I buy.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Sunday, October 23, 2005
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
The beauty of TV ads for this dictatorship is there's no expectation that issues will be covered in depth, and they can play on the subconscious of the already largely ignorant electorate. Promising protection of our rights while actually weakening them is easy when it's made to sound like we're being given extra things (who doesn't like presents?). Unfortunately, we already have all the protections being offered, and far more, guaranteed to us by existing laws.
It's reassuring to know that if my boss takes a dislike to me for any reason, as long as it's not demonstrably based on sex, race or religion, he/she can simply dismiss me, say it's because my position is no longer needed, and I have no recourse. To quote from the detail, spoken by the Government itself, on how employers can happily screw their employees:
"claims cannot be brought where employment has been terminated because the employer no longer requires the job to be done (i.e. operational requirements)"It's another nice feature that the decision on whether assistance is provided for a claim of unfair dismissal is made by a Government department (DEWR) who, I'm sure, will help you out if it's them (or another department) who've sacked you.
Most conditions taken for granted (especially in the Public Service) will now be up for grabs in any agreement, and can be entirely removed. Which is nice for someone who'd like to be employed by DEWR, or other organisations, who are already making it mandatory for new starters to sign an individual agreement. Choosing between an AWA (which for all I would have known as a new starter was a perfectly fair contract) and having a job offer taken away from me is a pretty obvious choice. Who is that "choice" fairer for, though? Hmmm, that's a tough one...
Here's what Kim Beazley had to say on October 14, the summary being:
"What is being mounted here--and it was not foreshadowed during the last election campaign--is the most massive attack ever on the Australian way of life by an Australian government. It will mean the destruction of the lives of ordinary Australians, about which the incredibly wealthy people on the Liberal-National front bench chortle and cheer in question time after question time. They will haunt the houses of average Australians with the propositions they are going to put through: no umpire, no protection, no underpinning, no-disadvantage test--nothing. There will be absolutely nothing but a master-servant relationship in which the power persists with the person who owns the business."
Friday, October 14, 2005
Making it easier to forget was the amazing dinner I just ate: bolognaise and pasta! It was chicken mince (since beef is still off the menu) and gluten-free penne pasta (which tasted exactly like the real thing) but, for someone who lived on pasta for my first 5 years out of home, this was as close to culinary heaven as I'm getting any time soon. Sadly the store was out of the gluten-free spaghetti I sampled at my family's place last week, but as soon as that's back in stock I will at last, after 2 years without it, enjoy the glorious taste of my favourite all time food. Is anyone else hungry right now? I just ate and I think I need a snack...
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Monday, October 10, 2005
Mostly it talked about searching for some kind of purpose for my life, and how my work doesn't seem to fit with what I want to be doing, which is building a strong team, seeing my team grow in skill and confidence thanks to my leadership. Once I'd gotten rid of 2 pages of whining, I decided to take one more try at converting my current role into what I want it to be, before I finally admit I'm due for some radical change in how I make my living, something which I can be passionate about, the way I used to be when I started at the ABS. So how did that plan work out today? Not too bad.
I kick started one of my projects, getting the only person who's free to do work with me involved and moving forward. Tomorrow I'll be meeting with another of my "virtual team" and that will also make me feel a little more relevant. Still nothing looking like keeping me busy, though, and I left after only 6 hours of work today because there's simply not enough to do. In the past I've run a team of 7, with 16 different projects on the go, and still had time to do some programming work. Right now, I have 2 projects (one of them very small) and only 1 staff member (who doesn't even directly report to me). Fairly obvious why I feel underutilised... because I am.
At least I made use of my extra time at home. Instead of sitting frustrated at work I got to do some weights (5th times in the past 16 days, which I'm pretty happy with), and watch WarGames, with Matthew Broderick (pre-Ferris) and Ally Sheedy (pre-Breakfast Club). It actually holds up OK, considering it's 22 years old and about computers. OK, we don't use 8" floppy disks much any more, or rotary dial phones, but I was won over by Ferris (I mean Matthew) changing his grades using a computer. Wait, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" is just a huge rip-off of "WarGames"!!! I can't believe I never saw it before...
Sunday, October 09, 2005
While I'm hawking John Cusack's work, you should definitely catch "Grosse Point Blank" as well. I re-watched it during the week and it was even better than I remembered. Excellent supporting characters and a fantastic performance from JC make this conflicted and yet hilariously funny. Any movie which makes me laugh out loud consistently is a success in my book.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Since none of that was amusing, here's an update on those shoes, as they look for somewhere to live.
Is this our home?
[Hint: The answer to the shoes' question is NOOOO!!!! That's not your damn home!!!]
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
And since I know everyone is crying out for more of my friend's surprises, here's something I discovered last week, at 6.40am when I got up to get ready for work...
Monday, October 03, 2005
In the words of a couple of "Batman Begins" pushers: "Go see it! See it! See it! ... See it!!!"
In the meantime, is anyone hungry? A friend of mine is willing to share his left-overs...
Saturday, July 30, 2005
Monday, July 18, 2005
Monday, June 27, 2005
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Monday, May 30, 2005
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
Saturday, April 30, 2005
"The 7 Habits..." is certainly the more worthwhile of the two books, and contains some useful tips for anyone seeking self-improvement. I particularly like that it emphasises personal responsibility, encouraging the reader to stop making excuses, blaming bad luck, etc. Despite the author's strong religious bent, this does not really come through in the writing, and it's not sermonising at all. Most of the content is common sense, although the kind of common sense which can get left behind when under pressure to get things done, or just to live a busy life. Buzzwords aren't too heavily used, although many points are repeated a bit frustratingly (repetition is supposed to help retention, right?). All in all, I'm glad I finally read this book, after mocking it in my ignorance. Have I actually applied any of its proposed actions? Well, not really... (although maybe the exercise counts?)
"Principle Centred Leadership" takes the 7 Habits and tries to guide the reader in how to apply them to leadership. I think the moral/motive is good, but the execution became tedious and particularly swamped by buzzwords. The same material could easily have been covered in one-third of the space, even with the bits designed for anyone who hadn't read "7 Habits...". I'd say this is one which you might read if you were really keen on Covey's ideas, or maybe even searching for a leadership style, but I didn't gain too much from it and could happily have given it a miss.
Monday, April 25, 2005
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Friday, April 22, 2005
Anyway, this morning I read 30 Days To Success which reminded me of the common sense approach to establishing better habits, flagging my sporadic 2-5 times a week exercise as being insufficient, and triggering me to set a goal of a walk/jog/ride for at least 30 minutes a day for the next 30 days. Well, I went for a 70 minute walk this morning, so that's taken care of. And when I've established the regular exercise as a habit, with my already pretty reasonable diet, I expect to achieve the weight loss I need as a side-effect. I love accumulating numbers so much that this is definitely the way for me to go. Anyone who's ever heard me recount how many days I've gone without caffeine knows I'm a fan of this kind of record breaking. Since I can't return to weights training till my right elbow recovers from its latest (football throwing) injury, this target helps me avoid slipping back into too sedentary a life, after a reasonably active Byron holiday.
Monday, April 11, 2005
My basketball court
Saturday, April 09, 2005
Friday, March 11, 2005
I'm getting sent to Vegas in mid-July to present at a Lotus advisor conference, on behalf of the ABS. Pretty exciting! Especially since I've never even been outside Australia before. Here's a link to the homepage for the conference, which will eventually have details of sessions, and maybe even the photo of me which I just sent off to the organisers today. Does the title "Real world integration of Lotus Notes with .NET Web Services" (what my presentation is called) excite you? If not (i.e. the most likely option), just think how cool being in Vegas is, and safely ignore the geekery.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Saturday, February 26, 2005
One of my continued focuses (focii?), making sure that I love my work as much as the rest of my life.
Here are some steps along the path.
I've spent a lot of time in the past 15 years working out what it is that I want to do with my life. Long before I worked, I had to avoid making a decision about what my education path would be. So a double degree meant I could hedge my bets for another couple of years. After a couple of years of that, I discovered that engineering wasn't for me, but building IT systems wasn't so bad. Then, in my final year of Uni, the course structure changed to emphasise team work, where I really flourished. I started work at the ABS not because I knew how awesome the environment would be, but because I was sick of looking for jobs, and they'd offered me one.
Almost 8 years further down the track, I've progressed from a full-time coder to a part-time team leader/coach/business analyst (and occasional coder). Being part-time allows me to devote my full energy to every hour I'm at work, instead of the watered down version which my health limited me to over 5 full days. I'm almost certain I get as much (or more) done in 80% of the time, and enjoy it even more.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
Now I realise this issue hardly compares with actual tragedies, regularly occurring around the world, but I've realised the severity of emotional impact of an event basically ties in with just how seriously it affects one's own life. In this case, for at least a few days, it appeared that my carefully crafted position at work was going to go from great to average, and I was going to have to work 8 day weeks to get anything done. Now, after getting a whole lot of frustration and disappointment out of my system, I have a plan moving forward (with plenty of help from my 2IC), and am once again enthusiastic about what my (smaller) team will be able to accomplish over the next 5 months (and beyond). I'm really not a big fan of change right now, after such a disrupted past 18 months, and I wanted so much to settle back into my work and enjoy the comfort of a high performing team for at least a few months before my plans got kicked in the guts. I've now had 4 of my top 5 staff taken from my team within the past 12 months, constantly disrupting any chance of delivering value. Not to mention it's hard to continue seeing the work I do as important when my team can so blithely be ripped apart to suit other areas' needs. But this is the reality of my job, and why I have to spend so much time managing client expectations. While it seems obvious to me that you can't take a top-notch performer with 5 years experience, replace them with a brand new starter fresh out of uni, and expect the job will be finished in the same amount of time, try convincing eager users they're going to have to wait. I'd rather be programming, and I don't even like programming. Still, beats working for a living.
Despite all that crap I've written above, I'm feeling really positive right now, and full of new ideas about the systems I've been working on delivering for over 2 years. Pumped enough to go into work yesterday (a Saturday for an hour or so) to add some extra functionality. I think this change has at least given me a mental kick in the pants, and hopefully it's the revitalisation I need to lead my team the way I try to. Or I might wake up tomorrow feeling tired, and finding that my boss has changed his mind again, and I have to spend another week planning. Either way, for now I'm going to enjoy the anticipation of a great work week ahead :)
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Its other main use is to share photos with friends online, with built in chat facilities. Obviously I'd need to have friends to test that out, though... Wait, I mean online friends! I have friends! Really!
Do you think I bought enough Coke... meow?
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
So, what's it all about, you ask, in the tired, disinterested way I have come to expect from people barely tolerating me (i.e. friends, relations, the unemployed...). Well, let me tell you! A wealthy family has to adjust quickly when the pater familias is sent to prison for corporate fraud (and some "light treason"). Jason Bateman, the only member of the family who's ever worked, is all that stands between his family and the ravages of an unfamiliar world. Filmed in faux documentary style, the writing and acting are spot on, with plenty of spectacularly funny characters and situations. Portia de Rossi and Jeffrey Tambor also star, along with a host of other talented comedic actors.
I'm sure I haven't done it justice, but in my opinion this is a must see.