A yearning

As I proof a technical white paper on the subject of mobile telecommunications product testing for a friend, I find myself craving the world I had to leave behind a couple of years ago.  It makes me miss it more than I expected.

I miss the environment, I miss the people and I miss the cut and thrust of a very fast-paced industry.  I find myself yearning for the acronyms (GCF, PTCRB, NAPRD, PICS, PIXIT, EMC, BT, USB, LTE, RFT, HSDPA, HSUPA, Rel-7, 3GPP, TS51.010, FDD, OMA, USIM and so on).

I worked with some of the most intelligent minds in the business, with exceptional software engineers, product managers, program managers, design engineers (electronic & mechanical), NPI engineers, quality specialists, executive managers, validation engineers and many many more.  I work with incredibly talented people now but I must admit to missing the mobile telcoms business very much indeed.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

First (quick) look at Photovine

I wasn’t sure I wanted to take a look at Photovine. I have used several photo upload services, settling (for the most part) on Instagram.

However, I wasn’t expecting Photovine to be quite as social as it is and I’ve found myself looking at more photos in Photovine than I have done with any other photo sharing service. By that I mean spending time looking through the various vines (topics) at all the different shots that have been shared.

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With the other services I might take a look at a shared photo that I’ve seen posted to Twitter and with Instagram I might occasionally scroll down the feed to see a few shots but with Photovine I’m spending time looking through each vine.

I’m enjoying it. As with most services, you can find me as craigt44 on Photovine.

It’s a great photo sharing social networking based app for the iPhone that I think I might just end up using more than I originally thought I would.

Let me know your thoughts on both the Photovine app and the service as a whole.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

What kills your productivity?

There’s only one thing that really kills my productivity, or at least reduces it. Tiredness. I don’t mean being a title tired, most of us learn to deal with that on a daily basis, especially parents.

I’m talking about proper tiredness, the kind that results from several nights of poor or too little sleep.

Today is one of those days for me. I couldn’t sleep last night and, as a result, I am absolutely knackered today. When I’m this tired I find it difficult to get motivated and certainly very hard to be very productive. My mood suffers too, if I’m honest. I am less tolerant of things, more irritable.

Over the years I have learned that if I don’t get 7+ hours of sleep a night I eventually hit a point like today where I am very tired and fall asleep within minutes of sitting down. I can go a couple of nights with less sleep but that’s about my limit.

It’s another good case for more flexible working and particularly home working!

What kills your productivity?

I am @craigt44 on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

Camera+ updated to v2.3

The brilliant Camera+ app has been updated to version 2.3 and includes a new feature. You can now add captions to photos.

This update also brings a number of improvements, such as performance improvements, a new style to the edit bar in Lightbox and more.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

Flexible working

I am compelled to put down my thoughts on home working amidst fresh discussions on the subject with quite a few people recently.

I still get the impression that there is a general feeling that home workers spend a lot of the day doing anything but work.  Following recent discussions, I frequently hear an underlying tone that suggests the person I am talking to thinks home working is a way to shirk the work and kick back.

I don’t doubt there are a minority that abuse the option of flexible working but, for me at least, home working provides many benefits, most of which subsequently benefit my employer.

I have spent a lot of time working from home.  In my previous positions with Sendo & Motorola, I spent several years working an office/home office split (3 days at home, 2 days in the office with the flexibility to chop and change as business demands required) and a couple of years working full time at home (due to office closure).  In that time I found several benefits to home working.

Less Distractions
At home I can lock myself away in the office, I can play music and, most importantly, I can concentrate on the task in front of me.  In the office there are many distractions.  A colleague may decide it’s time for a chat, someone may visit the office, I may get called into an ad-hoc meeting, something might happen that needs my attention (which invariably are always important… unless you are not there, in which case they can almost always wait until you are back…. funny that).  Whatever it is, there are typically more distractions in an office environment that at home.  That is not to say there aren’t distractions at home but they are more manageable.

Flexibility
Yes, one of the big wins for home working is flexibility.  If I need to clear my head I can take a short, brisk walk outside.  If I need to attend an appointment I can arrange it around my work, perhaps working later to make up time or starting earlier.

Better work-life balance
A huge benefit of home working is that whole work-life balance thing.  I commute to the office, a drive of one hour each way.  I leave home at 7am and I get back home at 6:30pm.  That means I generally don’t see my kids in the morning and only very briefly at night.  I hate that, a lot.  Working at home gives me an extra two hours a day to spend time with them, to help my wife get them ready for school, to help with the school run to see more of my wife, to talk about more things with her.  It makes me feel like I have a life outside of work.

Productivity
My productivity is generally higher working from home than in the office.  It’s because of those things listed above.  Less distractions means more focus which means more work done.  More flexibility and a better work-life balance makes me happier.  Being happier makes me work harder and more conscientiously.

Disadvantages?
Yes, of course there are.  I have worked from home for a long time and, as such, I’ve whittled down the disadvantages to just two.  Those are the lack of human contact and those back in the office forgetting that you exist (I worked full time at home, reporting to a manager based in Chicago).

There are a number of things you can do to minimise these disadvantages.  Firstly, don’t get too reliant on email.  Pick up the phone more and talk to people.  This helps you to feel more sociable as well keeping you fresh in their minds.  Secondly, arrange physical meetings occasionally.  This forces you out of your home office and gets you back in front of people.  Thirdly, get involved with projects outside the scope of your normal role and duties.  This ensures you have regular contact with a wide audience.

As usual, these are just my musings.  I know this is a well debated topic but it’s something I’m talking more and more about lately and I clearly needed to dump my thoughts.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

OmmWriter

I’m just trying out OmmWriter for the Windows desktop. OmmWriter is a writing application that allows me to work without distraction and even has some nice background music to boot. I really like it and think it could seriously grow on me.

I think I need to invest in the iPad app, although the lack of Dropbox support makes me pause before doing so. With Dropbox support it would almost be a no brainer.

The music included with the app is very well chosen, offering a very soothing and calming ambience to the room whilst working. It doesn’t intrude into your thoughts but distracts you enough fom the background noise, if that makes sense.

The interface is minimal and whilst typing there is nothing else visible.

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Move the mouse out of the writing area to the right and a column of circles appear, each with an icon to indicate what they are for. There are options to change the music track (there’s a choice of 3 tracks), text size, font type, background and keyboard as well as the obligatory save/upload options.

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Move the mouse to the top of the screen and additional menus appear which offer more options, such as export to PDF, search and text transformations (all uppercase etc).

Working from the desktop version, I guess the Dropbox integration doesn’t really matter as you can save to your Dropbox folders but from the iPad it absolutely matters, at least to me. Yes, I could use GoodReader to bridge the gap between OmmWriter and Dropbox but it’s an unecessary step.

Anyway, this is my first post using OmmWriter. I’m really impressed and think I might have to dabble with the iPad app. It’s a shame there isn’t a basic free version to “try before I buy”.

If you haven’t already, check out OmmWriter (Dana 1 is a free version for the desktop, the one I’m writing this on now). I may even have to upgrade to Dana II. Right now OMMWriter is available for the PC, MAC and iPad. Interestingly, the Dana II version doesn’t have a fixed purchase price. Rather, they let you decide based on your experience of OmmWriter Dana I. Very interesting pricing policy.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

Time for a makeover

Just a short time into the new (not-so daily) daily blog, I figured it was time for a makeover.

As readers of this blog will know, I recently moved it over from Posterous to a second install of WordPress here on craigt.co.uk. I used a temporary theme while I spent time looking for something fresh, clean and simple and, thanks to the inLine theme by Thomas Griffin Media that’s exactly what I’ve got.

I really like this theme. It offers me the ability to tweak and play with layouts and content while making it really simple. It’s not a fully featured paid theme but for this blog that doesn’t bother me. It’s pretty much exactly what I was looking for. It’s simple to administer, looks great and cleans everything up beautifully.

So, the new look, like it or loath it?

I am @craigt44 on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.

Addicted to my smartphone?

There are many news stories covering so called smartphone addiction doing the rounds today, presumably following the Ofcom Communications Market Report “A Nation Addicted to Smartphones”.

Whilst I agree that we are becoming increasingly reliant on smartphones as a means to stay connected to friends, family and the media that keeps us abreast of what’s happening in every facet of our lives, I don’t buy all this talk of “acceptable behaviour in social situations”.

The smartphone and indeed digital communications on the whole are indeed brining about huge changes in the way we interact and behave but why does this have to be perceived as a bad thing? Yes it’s a change but I for one see this as a positive change. We are more informed than ever before and social media especially is bringing that information in near real time from those actually in the thick of it.

I communicate with more people now than ever before and that has been made possible, and remains possible, because of my smartphone and because if the myriad of digital communications channels (Twitter, Google+ et al.).

We are not addicted to our smartphones. We may be addicted to finding out more, of wanting to read around the subjects that interest us and of wanting to be more social than ever before but cut this crap about being addicted to smartphones.

I talk to more people because of social media. I interact with more people now because I can access social media anywhere, via my smartphone. I’m not addicted, it’s a tool.

I am @craigt44 on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.