Page 1
No expense spared!
Standard

Do More With Less

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Do More With Less”

Howto repair the best phone in the world

Howto repair the best phone in the world

Well, I’m an incredibly humble, world class expert shopper at Lidl – where your money buys more for less!

I should be more serious: But this is a fun one to talk about. This is basically about hacking, scrimping, making ends meet – lots of doing.

A few years ago, I used to use a Nokia 3310. Almost indestructible, but yet I managed to destruct one and crack the screen. I had another broken 3310 that wouldn’t turn on – though the screen looked alright. I set about to see if I could replace the broken screen. Unfortunately, Nokia 3310′s use torx screws, and I only had philips and flat head screwdrivers. So, using a trick learned from my dad, I sawed a groove into the top of each screw with a hacksaw – and simply them used the flathead screwdriver to unscrew them.

From that point on, it’s a trivial task of swapping the internal circuit boards around, and doing the screws back up. I got pretty good at repairing them in the end. I can’t remember exactly when I finally retired them, but I was still seen with a Nokia 3310 in 2010.


Finding a way through things, is just what I do. I mean, it doesn’t really occur to me that I’ve some cupboards build with scrap wood from an old bed, or that I turned the rubbish filled cellar of the house I live in, into a home office by salvaging a table, dropping several extension cords down, and setting up clip spot lamps. It’s just standard problem solving.

I guess one thing that I’m aware is less normal is a piece of functional interior design. The cellar leads down a number of uneven steps, and the bannister was long gone. Replacing the bannister looked like a real faff, so instead, I got two big loops, and screwed them securely at the top and bottom of the stairs, and hung a thick, knotted rope between them – so that people walking down the stairs can steady themselves with a hand on an overhead rope.

Flawless? Certainly not.

Functional? Definitely.

Characterful? I’d say so.

There’s a bunch of other things like this in this blog post about growing up without a TV.


When it comes to tech, the easiest way you can do more with less is just to use slightly older hardware and open source. I’m pretty good at that. Apparently the company laptop I’m writing this blog post on was made in 2011 – but I don’t care – to me it is pretty fantastic and does all I want from a laptop. It runs Debian with awesomewm, and the concept of buying software I can’t just install with a sudo apt-get install is foreign to me. I self-host a lot of things (like this blog!), but there are also services I pay to have managed for me. There’s a pragmatic line to tread.

I guess some people might arguing that getting a job without a degree is doing more with less. I think I dispute that – the degree was never the requirement – just the maturity, knowledge of area, and attitude.


One of the pragmatic lines I tread relates to travel. I cycle round Manchester most of the time, but occasionally I take a taxi or a train. I still find that to cheaper (and more comfortable) than owning and insuring a car.

Lots of things are about tradeoffs between different things – travelling is a good example. Hitchhiking is certainly the cheapest form of transport, but often the least reliable. Flying is often the fastest, but probably most expensive. It’s good to http://blog.tdobson.net/2012/09/can-you-travel/“>be aware of the options because sometimes you find that, the cheaper options can be the most fun, or something be advertised at an unbeatable price.


In business, being able to hack the way around problems is great trait. Especially if the problem is “limited funds”. We might be talking something as simple as sleeping on a friends floor whilst you go to a conference, or just watching lots of conference talks on youtube rather than paying for a conference ticket. It might be about working from your bedroom, sharing office space, skimping on furniture, reading second hand books. There’s an almost endless stream of options.

In sysadmin, this probably means automation. One well known digital rights commentator whose website once hit the reddit frontpage 3 times at once, told me that he hosted the site’s server at home on the balcony of his flat to keep it cool, with the site served behind a CDN.


I like doing more with less. It often can be a fun challenge – though it’s often wise to take a pragmatic view – weigh up a range of options and take the option that’s best for you. Doing more with less doesn’t always mean spending the smallest amount of money.

This is where we are, this is where we're going
Standard

Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication”

This is a tough one to blog about, because anecdotes, by definition – no matter what the nature of the relationship, is always going to be very personal – between me and them. It’s kind of a shame, because anecdotes about open communication are often some of the best, but I’m struggling to think of any I want to write about online!

Great communication isn’t just about making sure everything you just said is understood, but about making sure you understand the other person’s position, and making sure you’re both working towards the same goal.

It’s not too complicated really though; the best relationships – working, personal, families, friendships – whatever the context, are ones that involve being honest, and clear, and proactively communicating things. Often it can be that you’re fearful of how someone might respond to something, and actually the fear is completely unjustified.


I guess a good example my be in the context of a mountaineering expedition. There’s two of you, presumably friends, in a remote place seeking to climb a thing.

Communication is the key – if you need a rest, you need to explain you need a rest (as opposed to just sitting down), if your partner needs a rest, giving them an opportunity to tell you that (because you’re walking next to them, rather than 500m in front) will work best.

If your partner feels that you’re taking too many rests, or is concerned about the progress you’re making a team, they can make things better by saying so. Often the most difficult things to say are things like this: “I feel we’re not making enough progress. Is there anything I can do to make things easier for you? Can I carry something perhaps?”

This is where we are, this is where we're going

This is where we are, this is where we’re going

You might be in situations where one person can speak a local language, and the other cannot, and so in a conversation where the linguist was negotiating a meal, he might choose the appropriate moment to relay that on to his friend, to give his friend confidence in the situation. After a while, they might trust each other enough to know that the linguist would do the talking, whilst the other person did something else – but only once they’d built up some trust between them.


Learning to communicate, under pressure, in a non-confrontational, problem-solving way like that is a fantastic skill.

Often, if you communicate clearly about how you’re finding things, and what your thoughts are – particularly when it comes to fears, worries, nerves, frustration – then as a team you can work on them to solve them. Often the things that seem like a big deal, once communicated openly, are actually nonissues.

Sometimes there are issues, but communicating well (and in some cases over communicating – reiterating and saying things that may not be necessary, just in case they are) can make things much easier – because you’ll both respect the others ease of communication, and honesty and frankness.

Often other people aren’t as good at communication as you, so you can help them, and help your relationship with them by offering them lots of opportunities to tell you their thoughts. In a mountaineering context, you might ask your slow walking friend how they were finding it, or where they were looking forward to reaching.


Communication is the key to all social units of people. Learn about communicating, and how you can do it, and you’ll get good at building relationships surprisingly quickly.

Reflect in nature
Standard

Make Time to Reflect

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Make Time to Reflect”

My favourite way to reflect is solo hiking. The fewer people the better.

Some people have told me that going deep inside their head, and being just with themselves is scary. I respect and understand that, but I find I’m the one person I can always trust, always have time for and is always happy to spend a long time on thinking.

That’s the foreveralone manifesto is right there. ;)

But as Paul Buchheit has said, “Walking in nature helps”, and it does.


When I spent 12 days, solo hiking round through Northern Sweden one year (and didn’t see another person for a 5 day stretch at one point), I didn’t take any books. Instead, mentally I contemplated a number of topics that I later wrote up into a series of blog posts.

Once on a solo cycle touring trip, I remember lying in the tent, designing video live-streaming systems.

I do enjoy great conversations whilst walking in nature, but one of the great things about the solitude is leaving your brain with the minimum to concentrate on. There are very few interrupting distractions, there’s very little to think about apart from where to put your feet, whether you’re walking in the right direction, and when you can have your next rest.

Solo hiking is fun.


But reflection isn’t just in the execution. Reflection is also in the theory. I’ve found that reflecting on my current goals on a regular basis, and tracking my progress helps me remain focused, and helps be check I’m on the right path. It might be that when I think about it, the end-goal which seemed sensible at the start, isn’t relevant anymore – but at least then I’d know not to worry about it anymore.

Often I find, at moments of conflict where it’s easy to respond instantly, it’s wiser to take some time to reflect, and think about the situation. lots of sleep often helps a great deal.


I remember a story I once heard about someone, let’s call him “Jim”, who went to his friend “Rob” and said “My business is failing. I’m trying to do all these things, but everyone wants me. I’m not sure what to do. Help?”
His friend Rob suggested that instead of focusing on one thing or the other, or replying to emails from only these peoples. he should go on holiday.
He went on holiday, and when he returned, he knew exactly what to do, how to deal with it all, and set about making it happen like a new man.


It’s always worth taking time to reflect. I like hiking, but meditation is also well recommended (and much easier to do frequently). You might err away from that level of hippiness, though people often find it helps them separate and steer their thoughts, so they can choose when and what to think about.

Reflect in nature

Reflect in nature

Learning Russian
Standard

Pursue Growth and Learning

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Pursue Growth and Learning”

I love that this value can apply to personal growth and development and business growth and development. (Whilst it might not always be appropriate value for, say, a community enterprise that really doesn’t want to grow significantly, if growth is part of the plan, then focusing on it is very wise.)


In a business situation, pursuing growth seems logical, but codifying it as an aim – makes it clear that the business doesn’t want to stagnate, and seeks continual improvement in everything it does..

If you view everything as an experiment with aims to increase growth and learning, then it means everything you do will have a positive outcome if you grow and/or learn from it.

If you take that to the extreme, it’s the Lean Startup Methodology. You may not want to apply it to everything you do to the extreme – but even

“We tried putting tea cakes in the toaster. It sort of worked, but now the toaster smokes a lot, so work out another way to toast your teacakes or work out a way to do it less smokily.”

is something learned from an experiment.


When you’re making things happen:

  • Pursuing growth is good
    • because it means you can work out how to help more people
    • makes you think about learning how you can grow
  • Pursuing learning is good
    • because you can understand what drives your customers, and what it is you’re doing that makes your customers really happy
    • because you can understand what drives your growth (maybe you want to pause your growth engine whilst you understand better what drives your existing customer from satisfied to super happy)

This is something I epically failed to understand a few months ago, which caused me to re-examine my approach to learning, and to look carefully at what I didn’t know about.


Books I've read this year

Books I’ve read this year

I didn’t have a smooth relationship with my schooling, so it was well after I’d left formal education before I realised I’d been learning for fun for a long time!

Academia and I didn’t manage to align perfectly, and the medium in which most academia is conducted (thorough literary explanations, rather than applying the learning to real life problems) didn’t work perfectly for me.


Possibly one of the more useful things I learnt from school was a lecture on how it’d be useful for to evaluate areas you’d like to improve, and then rather than just say “try harder” at, say French vocab learning, to put some plans down in concrete steps: “I’m planning to improve learning french vocab by making flash cards with each set of words, and learning each set of flash cards”.

Turning a set of intentions into the concrete next steps, and then applying them with the best discipline, can really help work towards goals.

I guess my aims for this year, and my commitments from 2013201220102009 to reflect on how things went, and plan where I want to grow myself have been quite helpful. Of course, this year, I’m staying slightly more on top of things, by reviewing things every 3 months.


My preferred way of learning has often been to have a go – make a breakable toy project around a problem or desire I had, and play around with it. I guess there’s been loads of these projects that quietly concluded, and from each of these experiences, I’ve learnt something about how to do things, how hard some things are, what works, what doesn’t, what interests me, what is quickly really dull. Sometimes weekend hacks, turn into larger things, like jobs, and often just trying to learn more about things helped guide ones path in the right direction.


One of my aims for this year is to read 24 books. I’ve not said whether they have to be fact or fiction, but currently my preference is very heavily on nonfiction that will help me understand more about things I’ve naive to. I don’t think the goal is super ambitious – it’s just meant to be achievable.


A word on TV:

I have an almost certainly slightly unfair and limiting mantra that TV limits learning, but what I suspect this comes from is that while *I* find TV entertaining, there’s rarely anything super informative in any field I want to learn about. For nonfiction, it’s just a less efficient knowledge transfer medium compared to text .

This means I almost never watch TV. This week, I watched the same amount of TV as I watch last week: 0 hours.

I like entertainment, but I tend to choose to have that in the form of action sports like hiking. :)

Thistles
Standard

Be Humble

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Be Humble”

This is really hard. Like, really hard.

It’s particularly hard to explain in a blog post how good you are at being humble! Err, yes. Ummm. Right.

Some people might point to candid blog posts like these and suggest they’re evidence of humbleness, I’m sort of uncomfortable talking about humbleness at all in the first person, because I think I’ve a long way to improve.


One of the ways you can instantly communicate humbleness is by trying to improve your communication. It’s incredibly easy to use words “I” and “me” a great deal in constructions like: “my thoughts are”, “I’ve found that”, “one things I’ve considered”.

There are times when this is only option, but often you can improve your relationships with people, by working out how to rethink and rephrase what you’re trying to communicate by removing yourself from the centre of the sentence. It’s surprisingly tough thing to try to do, but it can be surprisingly rewarding. My journey towards perfecting this is just beginning.


What I will say is that I think humbleness is really important. Many people who are widely disliked are the opposite of humble – arrogant, and many of the people we most enjoy looking up to are incredibly humble. In fact, the more humble, the more one directs attention away from oneself, the more is revered.

I recently watched this interview with Pharrell – the musician, and was impressed with how often he turned the interview away from himself.

If I was rewording this value, I’d be tempted to reword it as “be down-to-earth“, but I can see why “be humble” clearer in meaning and semantics.

Being unpretentiously friendly, modest yet generous is a great thing to work towards in a business or personal context.

I hope I can work further towards it over the next few years.

Look forwards

Look forwards

Looking for the answers in a teacup
Standard

Embrace and Drive Change

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Embrace and Drive Change”

When it’s change you want – change you asked for, it’s easy to talk about embracing and driving change, but that’s only part of it.

It’s different when it’s unexpected change. Suddenly you have to do things differently (when you didn’t ask for it), suddenly things are different around you, and you realise you don’t know how to do things you previously were an expert at.

I think it’s really useful to choose a value about choosing Positivity and Happiness - that way you can take an optimistic approach to all change – which makes it a lot easier.

If you’re thinking, “this environment has changed since I first came into it, but maybe this change will help it in great ways that I don’t yet understand“, then you’re likely to be able to accept and drive the change much more easily, than if you were worried about the negative consequences.

I’m struggling quite hard to think of times that I’ve embraced change when I’ve not been one of the drivers – I guess it’s quite important for me to feel that I have a stake in the change – otherwise I don’t class it as “change to be embraced” – just “things that happened”.

Looking for the answers in a teacup

Looking for the answers in a teacup

So changes to my role at work, were embraced and driven because they directly involved me. Changes to the way software and processes worked were critically evaluated, but embraced.

I’m not sure, but I feel I don’t have enough life experience to talk much about how I’ve embraced change. I probably have done so – the tech industry has changed, I’ve changed, my friends have changed – but I can’t see examples in front of me.

I guess attempts at politics and activism reflect my desire to drive change, but I feel that the best I can come up with in the embracing bit is “sure, I embrace new technology, I use Uber“.

My feeling is that it may be that I just enjoy a constant state of change – I enjoy diversity in things I do, I enjoy hearing about positive changes to UK law, working on different projects, climbing different mountains, and going to different places.

Despite my uncertainty about whether I can say I apply it, I think this is really important and clever value to have in a business – a self-updating module in anything is always wise, as human organisations go through many changes, incarnations and phases – just like software. A value like this helps ease the organisation through those hoops and hurdles and makes the path much smoother and clearer.

What do you think?

Listen to the users. If they want chalk, let them draw.
Standard

Listen First, Then Listen More

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Listen First, Then Listen More”

Everyday we hear things, TV, people talking to us, but how much do we listen?

Sometimes, it’s quite easy to talk – if someone tells you about their recent holiday, sometimes it’s tempting to talk to them about your recent holiday the moment you get a chance. But that’s not always what you should do.

Lots of people, starved of good listeners, find actually actively being listened to a very powerful thing. You can gain respect, make friends,  simply by listening to people.


When I tried to do politics, and stood in the 2010 general election for the Pirate Party, we learnt this the hard way.

If you ever get involved in a political campaign in the UK, you’ll find that the best way of engaging with voters, is knocking on their door. This is kind of scary the first 2-300 times, but to some degree the fear subsides.

What we came to learn was that it was much easier, and much more effective to knock on people’s door and ask them what problems they had in the neighbourhood, than knock on the door and try and get them to vote Pirate.

A couple of weeks ago, I read How to Win Friends and Influence People which pretty much codifies, and expands upon what we learnt on the streets: people like being listened to.

During a council election campaign, there was this one council house that we knocked on, and asked if they had any problems with the council. At first they said “nope, we have no problems here”, and then “well there is just one thing” and showed us an uncollected recycling bin, and then “oh well there is one more thing”, and showed a half-smashed window, and another bit where the council hadn’t made a correct modification to accommodate one disabled resident, and a string of other things. When we got back to our base, we had huge wad of issues we knew we could help them with, and we knew their life stories.

In contrast, I remember a lovely lady, I once tried to persuade to vote for me. She’d lived in the area for ~30 years, and I’d lived there for ~2, and in the nicest possible way, she batted questions at me to try and get me to justify myself. I suspect I talked myself out of her vote, simply by answering honestly. It was around then, that I decided that trying to influence politics was less enjoyable than I’d hoped, even at the best of times.


My girlfriend once described me as an extroverted introvert, and I sort of agree:

When you first meet new people, sparing using your words, and encouraging them to do the talking can help you to understand where they’re coming from and how to help them relate to you.

It’s easier this way too – you don’t have to say much, and can get a feel for what they’re interested in, and how best to respond to them.

It can even help over email.


One theoretical problem I’ve often thought about is, “if you meet someone very well known, who you respect the work of, but have little to say to, what should you say?”  What should you say if you met Tom Cruise, or Katy Perry or David Beckham or someone?

It’s complicated, but, my feeling is that relying on pieces of wisdom like these can help:

“Wise men speak because they have something to say. Fools speak because they have to say something.”

-Plato

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

-Abraham Lincoln


When it comes to customers, and business, encouraging customers to talk about things that they care about can make a great deal of difference. I like rock climbing, and I was looking over this customer’s website, and I noticed the person I was talking to was also a climber, so I asked them where they’d been recently. It was as if I’d opened a floodgate – suddenly they were recommending me places to go to develop my climbing, and suddenly it felt like we were communicating on a friend-to-friend basis, rather than a business-to-business.

Another memorable moment is once when I went to a customer site to work out how we could help them. Talking about the tech they were building, where they were, where they were going, what their challenges were made a real impression on them. I thought I was just sort of gathering information, somehow, by being interested and asking them questions about how they planned to do things, they were delighted to have someone to explain it to. They took me through these details, those plans – and by the time we left, I understood a great deal about their system. The customer was so happy, they broadcasted on social media about it, and still remembered it a few years afterwards.

I think it’s also relevant if someone has some criticism aimed at you, or something you’re in control of. Going and giving them your full attention, and saying “you’re absolutely right, this does sound serious – thanks for bringing it to my attention – I’d like you to tell me all about it”, can make someone feel a lot more valued, and pacified. Do that with enough passion, and it’s completely possible to turn their relationship with your business from frustration to love.


Listening is more difficult than it sounds, but you can learn to do it, and it makes people happy. :)

Listen to the users. If they want chalk, let them draw.

Listen to the users. If they want chalk, let them draw.

The long and winding brook
Standard

Show Gratitude

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Show Gratitude”

This value is distinct, and yet very complimentary to yesterday’s value.

It took me until my late teens to realise many of the things I am grateful for, when after a series of turbulent times, the stars aligned for a moment, and things fell into place all at once, and suddenly there was a chance to consider where all the pieces of the recently assembled jigsaw had came from.

Since then, making an effort to go out of my way to thank people is something you may notice me do. I guess occasionally there are the times I’ve shouted about itto encourage other people to follow. Most of the time however, I’m more likely to say in private, or by email/letter, how much I appreciate someone’s efforts – often, it doesn’t feel like anyone else’s business.

I think showing gratitude is important – acknowledging sacrifices, support and encouragement from others is important, and it also reflects into a strong desire to pay it back/give back to the same community.

One of my favourite stories about paying it forward is a simple story about running of petrol. If you’ve not read it maybe take a look?

The nice thing about gratitude, is that it’s free. It doesn’t cost anything to profusely thank someone for their time, or their help showing you something, or the manner in which they did their job.

But the impact it can have, is much larger than anything that can be bought. Surprising your IT department with an email of thanks. Sending a family member a card for helping you get through a tough time. Thanking people always has a positive impact, and the more frequent, free and enthusiastic you are about expressing your gratitude for others, the more you’ll find things go the way you want them to go. :)


I’m also grateful for the luck and privileges I take for granted, but I feel that discussion is actually separate from what this value is trying to convey.

Happy Daffodil!
Standard

Always Choose Positivity and Happiness

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Always Choose Positivity and Happiness”

I once watched a film on television. I didn’t know it at the time, but it had quite an effect on me, until today, I’d always attributed it to other films.

The film was the Pollyannathe 2003 adaptation of the 1911 book by Eleanor H. Porter. As Wikipedia explains:

Pollyanna’s philosophy of life centres on what she calls “The Glad Game”, an optimistic attitude she learned from her father. The game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation.

It originated in an incident one Christmas when Pollyanna, who was hoping for a doll in the missionary barrel, found only a pair of crutches inside. Making the game up on the spot, Pollyanna’s father taught her to look at the good side of things—in this case, to be glad about the crutches because “we didn’t need to use them!”

I don’t think I realised quite the effect that this (and my family’s apparent worry-free approach to life) had had on me, until relatively recently.

It’s very easy to get distracted by things that induce negative thoughts, and often things seem like worthy causes, but consider this:

We’re put on this planet for a lifetime. The reason we care about anything is because it may impact on our happiness, or the future happiness of others. But if we aren’t enjoying the present, we are wasting our minutes.

We can do the right thing AND choose happiness.


I’ve blogged before about happiness and focusing on the positive. It’s clear to me that ‘objectively’ it’s a good thing – not just for philosophical reasons, there are clear pragmatic benefits.


I actually think this is one of the hardest core values, because I think that it’s something that most people attempt to do, but find it difficult to actually put into practice. It looks simple on paper but the concious effort required, every day, to do it, is nontrivial. Having the discipline to relentlessly pursue things is hard – but often very rewarding!


There’s a question everyone will someday consider:

What would I do if I won the lottery?

If you can bear to spend a moment thinking what you do if you won a spare couple of million, stop now and think.

Otherwise, let’s move on.

My feeling is the wisest answer to this question is, “continue doing what I’m doing now, just with more money (and I might not tell anyone about the cash)”.

One of the best things you can do, is to find what you’d like to be doing, and then everyday, cross one thing off your list of things to help you get there.


I think I am doing what I’d want to be doing, whether I won the lottery or not, and I find encouraging other people to be a way of renewing my own positivity… It’s complicated, but it seems like the more of it you give away, the more you get back. :)

Star paths in Kyrgyzstan!
Standard

Do the right thing

This is a post from my My 20-day Zappos + Buffer Values Challenge

“Do the right thing”

This is quite a difficult value to blog about, because if you try to do the right thing, it’s possible you might not even know you’re doing it.

I guess the point to give you confidence that specifically in circumstances where there might be a conflict of interest, you should do the right thing.

In the context of an organisation, this might be a bit like something that happened this morning.

A cost-concious customer was explaining some new requirements and was interested in how we could help. It wasn’t something we could help with easily – they’d have to take out a year contract, when all they wanted was this thing. The customer mentioned that they other competitors had given them a price they couldn’t afford, and they were considering doing it in house.

At this point, some sales people would say that I should have push the services on them, even knowing that the costs were 10x what they could manage. Instead, I told them them upfront that we wouldn’t be able to do it, it’d be way too expensive, and they should do it inhouse if they had the ability to do so. At the end of the conversation, the customer thanked me for being direct with him – he was happy to have saved both of us time and energy faffing over things that wouldn’t work out.


One of the reasons that I dislike DRM is because, in the real world, DRM can cause 10 year old girls to cry – it feels like it catches out all the wrong people and so fails to do the right thing.


A desire for things to be done “right”, specifically in relation to laws that affect the way the internet works, is one of the reasons that I got involved in politics. Of course, “right” is subjective, but for me, supporting the future of the internet was a very compelling “right thing” to put myself behind – the one that drove me to stand for parliament, run an election campaign, and go into politics when sane people might choose not to!

Doing the right thing, is also what leads my support of mySociety – the charity behind lots of the best e-democracy sites – theyworkforyou, writetothem, fixmystreet.


When I found my parents didn’t understand really what their son did for a living, it seemed sort of natural for me to take a day of holiday, bring them into the office, and explain it all to them. They may not have been kickass sysadmins afterwards, but they knew what a client-server relationship was, and they understood web pages weren’t like TV.


Doing the right thing, is why several times, I’ve taken time to mentor young people – to give back to the community, and to pay forward the support I was given. In 2010, I remember taking a week out of my holiday allowance to mentor Young Rewired State 2010 (I guess I’d sort of helped co-ordinate some of the northern contingent of Young Rewired State 2009 so it was a natural progression?), in any case, whilst taking the time off work was definitely “the right thing”, I don’t really think about it like that. The friendships forged during that week have lasted a long time, and I expect will last decades longer – that in itself is worth it!


I think I’d go back to what I originally said – this value is used to give people confidence to do things for good, and not for evil – and to empower them to let them figure out what that means themselves. I like this. :)