Month: August 2015

The Lady of the Manor

Ever met the Lord or Lady of the Manor?

They mean well. After all, they’re going around telling people how to make their life better! Or someones life better.

You’ve probably met at least one. Regardless of when they moved to your area, they’re going to tell you where to park your car. Or how to empty your rubbish. Doesn’t matter if everyone on the street has been muddling along just *fine* without their intervention for years. Or that there is no allocated parking. Do something to your drive way that they don’t like the look of, they’ll probably tell you off. Or tell you how to do it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to themselves.

I’ve encountered a few in my life. Best way to deal with them – probably to ignore them, and let them seethe impotently while the tell-tale twitch of their curtain lets you know that you just parked your car in *their* spot on the car park. Even if they don’t actually have a car.

I find people who care so much about what other people are doing in their own space kind of sad. And amusing. Also, incredibly easy to wind up without trying. If you find yourself living in the vicinity of one of these types of people, just smile, wave, and keep about your day as you always have. They’ll either get over it, or die mad.

Also – don’t be one of those people. They’re annoying.

Disclaimer: Any similarities to people I know are coincidental. Probably. Maybe.

The Last 5 Computer Games I Played

It’s some list Sunday! Here are the last 5 games I played, and my thoughts on them.

Bloodborne

Probably my favourite this year. High paced game play, and player invasions. Fantastic bosses. At the same time, kind of depressing. Main reason I love this – I can run around with a pistol and whip. Which is awesome, and says nothing about my character.

Dragonage Inquisition

Kept me busy with side quests for hours. However, once I figured out that you could be invincible as a Knight Enchanter, Nightmare mode became a breeze. I’ve yet to play the new content, since my Dad has kidnapped my copy of it and won’t give it back until he’s bored of it.

Dark Souls 2

A good game. Not quite so tight in design as Dark Souls, but entertaining all the same. That said, I haven’t replayed this as often as Dark Souls, which says something. I think it’s because the Soul Memory system bodged up invasions and co-operative play.

Destiny

Very playable… once. Which is a shame, really. Should have been so much more than a grindfest in end game!

Dark Souls 1

One of my all time favourites. Lots of replay value, invasions are great, and the bosses still play well even after all this time. Praise the sun!

TL;DR

Play Dark Souls. Then Bloodborne. You won’t regret it.

The Scariest Thing I’ve Done This Year

We all reach milestones in life at some point. They’re generally scary places to be. People who know me may think that getting a new job would make the top spot for me this year, but today I think I just passed a way scarier one successfully.

I was introduced to my boyfriends children for the first time. On a full day out a farm theme day.

This is scary for various reasons.

If they hate me, that’s it for the relationship. My boyfriends children are the most important people in his life, and they have to come first.

I’ve opted not to have children, and odds are that I am terrible with them.

Meeting the kids is entering into a commitment. You don’t just enter a childs life and be ready to walk away easily.

It’s strange to think that the future of a relationship I am in is hinging on the opinion of a 6 year old and 9 year old girl.

I admit I was tempted to wuss out of the whole thing by simply not answering my phone this morning. But I knew it had to happen at some point. I think it went well. The first half hour was difficult, as they obviously didn’t know what to make of me. They don’t currently know that I am their Dads girlfriend. A bit of effort to talk to them, followed up by being the bearer of a water bottle in the corn maze seemed to ease the whole thing though, and soon I had small children talking a mile a minute to me about … well, everything.

My proudest moment for me though was not running screaming like a little girl when a wasp started dive bombing one of his daughters. I went in, lured the wasp away without showing fear, and returned an ice lolly wasp free. While a wasp isn’t so scary as entering a childs life, wasps are a big phobia of mine.

So, scariest thing today? Realising that I have just entered a commitment that I won’t walk away from easily, now that I know his children didn’t hate me on sight. Awesome thing is that I’m actually ok with it.

Oh, also, I got to see a baby pygmy goat climbing a tree. That was pretty cool to.

Goat in a tree!
Goat in a tree!

On the Job Training as Knowledge Gathering

This week, I am being trained on an application which I am to build the next version of. Initially, I thought it would be a bit of a waste of time. I’ll be writing the all new singing and dancing version on a completely different platform, so who cares about being trained in the old one?

Well, it turns out I should. Being in a training room with other people who are also learning it is providing me with invaluable information. So what if I know how the app is working under the hood after reading the code base for the last couple of weeks? I have pages of notes on things that need to change that may have made it into the next version without this kind of feedback. I am watching how users – new and old – are using the application in its current form. I’m experiencing some of the strange niggles first hand.

This post isn’t to down talk the application as it exists now – like anything these days, it has its great points to. What this is about is being aware that just watching your end users – be they trainers or newbies – use your application is like a gold mine of information on what could be better, what actually works, what they want to see more of, and what they want to see less of. They don’t care about what’s under the hood. They just want to make their working day more efficient.

Although it’s bound to be time consuming, I can’t help but think that having user groups together to play with an app well before release in an observable environment will do that app more good than any number of revisions to a product specification. I’m not talking beta testing here, as what I’m experiencing now is active feedback on an application where the new ideas are still being collated. It’s something I’m going to be trying to push for going forwards in my own processes. It’s not a new idea. I’ve just never thought of applying the idea to a training scenario before. An established application in a training environment is certainly a great candidate for this treatment.

Going by the information that I have noted down after just two days, observing a hands on training session group is providing more value to me as a software and UI developer than any mass emailed questionnaire ever could.

A Lesson in Perception Management

Yesterdays post, Perception is more important than results, discussed how a bad perception can render your achievements null and void. One response I got from a former manager of mine after the blog was posted was ‘Do you actually do any work or just write blog posts now?’.

Obviously, the answer to that is that I *do* work at work. By setting a posting schedule for WordPress to publish my blogs in the middle of a working day, I have to acknowledge that he makes an excellent point. The schedule, while saving me from having to log on and post things manually, is giving the perception of someone who is more focused on writing blog posts in the day as opposed to doing actual work.

Your online activity during the day (regardless of if you have a bot posting it for you or not), sends one overriding message – at *that* time of day, you are surfing the internet, posting things on social media. There is a time stamp right there, with your name next to it, for all of your contacts, personal and professional, to see. We’ve all been guilty of having a quick browse during the day, but if you want to leave the right impression to your peers that you’re actually being productive, it would not behoove you to leave the actual posting and sharing of content until outside of work hours.

Thanks, Mr Manager! I have changed my blog post schedule so as not to add to a workshy perception. I probably owe you beer.

Perception is more important than results.

I am a failure when it comes to office politics. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I generally just act like myself. This is a problem when it comes to managing other peoples perceptions of you – and a bad perception can be incredibly damaging.

As a person, I am hard working, fast working (and talking!), I can pick up new things quickly, and I see a job through to the end. I’m honest and upfront – I’m not afraid to say exactly what I think. My memory is great. I’m enthusiastic, and love my job. All great assets in an employee, right?

On the flip side of that, I am so caught up in flying through my ‘to do list’ that I can lack attention to detail once I mentally check something off – meaning I can make some mistakes that I really should have caught before the QA team started giving serious consideration to lynching me in the car park.

I’m upfront to the point of being blunt. Without meaning to, I can really put someones back up by not stopping to think before I open my mouth.

My reaction to stressful times is to make fun of a situation, usually in a sarcastic manner.

My most recent encounter with office politics taught me a very harsh lesson. The work that I was kicking bottom with didn’t matter. The extra hours I’d put in did not matter. The perception people had of me was that I was not taking things seriously, and that was the feedback I was getting. The things I was doing well at weren’t even being considered by this point.

I railed against this in my head for quite a while. From my perspective, I was working harder than I ever had in my life. I was hurt that my actual results weren’t being examined fairly. I was putting in huge amounts of effort to take more care with what I was working on to produce fewer mistakes. It sucked. With a capital SUCK.

It still feels incredibly unjust in my head, and it feels really unfair. I will be taking on board the lesson, though – how your peers perceive you means more to your career than anything you achieve. It really is an attitude I’d love to see change, as perception often has little correlation with the reality of a situation.

The Fly

Friday night. It was a humid, muggy evening, and the windows were open.

Enter my new nemesis – the fly.

Over the course of the weekend, it tormented me. It flew around my head. It landed on any patch of bare skin. Like a lawn mower at 6am, its persistent drone proceeded to chip away at my sanity.

Everywhere I looked, the fly was there.

I attempted the pacifist approach, and left the windows wide open, hoping that it would peacefully vacate the premises. I used a notepad to try and gently waft it to a mutually beneficial egress. My flat is apparently prime estate though, and the fly remained.

My boyfriend farted in bed, and blamed the fly.

Neener neener! Flies make that noise. Really.
Neener neener! Flies make that noise. Really.

It was the final straw, and that is when I knew with crystal clear clarity.

The fly had to die.

Over the course of the next few days, I executed various plots to execute the invader.

It was too cunning to be caught up by the vacuum cleaner. Attempting to swat it midair just drew attention to my lack of gymnastic prowess. Sneaking up on it was an exercise in futility. Sadly, ninja I am not.

The fly anticipated my every move, and proceeded to mock me.

Late on Sunday night came the final battle. Armed with my trusty notepad and razor sharp wits, I waited. My boyfriend snickered, but I paid him no heed and prepared my ambush. A few hopeless flailings provided amusement. And then it happened. It landed on the ceiling. I swiftly positioned a chair to stand upon, and squashed it with an almighty – and satisfying – ‘thwack!’ as my notepad made contact. At last! Victory came with a brown smear on the ceiling.

I didn’t care about the clean up. Victory was mine, with a score of Fly: 200+, me: 1. It’s not about winning the battle. It’s about winning the war.

The lesson here? Buy some fly spray next time I go shopping.