Wednesday 21 November 2012

Stop, Look & Listen

I've had the privilege of running training classes at my place of work over the past couple of weeks, and I must admit, it's been a real joy to do.

To see somebody's face as they learn something new, gives you a warm glow.  To hear them talk about it as they walk out the door "I'm going to try that out when I get back to the office" brings a smile and a slight sense of relief. To get reports from Managers saying that everybody has enjoyed the classes, makes the whole thing worth while.

Interestingly the only two problems we had were from two people who didn't apply what I would like to call "The Green Cross Code Rule". Do you remember that advert, from years ago?

The Green Cross Code was introduced as a safety measure for children to learn when they were going to cross the road. The expression used was "Stop, Look and Listen".

It's interesting that if people who were in the training classes would "Stop" what they were doing (being distracted by idol chat) "Look" at what was being demonstrated on screen (instead of thinking they knew a better way) and "Listen" to the advice being given (instead of keeping asking me to repeat the instruction or doing something different because they were not listening in the first place) I am sure those two issues wouldn't have happened.

Now this sounds like a rant, It's not. I genuinely enjoyed running the class, and can't wait for the next one. But the classes have been put together for a reason, the reason is to learn and to impart some new information to those that need help.

I take my hats off to those teachers that do this every day, but I envy them too. For they must enjoy that moment when inspiration hits, the penny drops and the pupil has that joy in their eyes.

It will serve as a reminder to Stop, Look and Listen to what they have to say to me.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

First it was TV, then Radio

That probably sounds like a contradiction in the title, for surely it was radio then TV?

Well, yes, from an invention point of view, it was. But from a digital switchover point of view, in the UK, we are well aware of the changes that were made recently along with the final switching off of analogue transmitters.

But what about radio? Is this set for the same destination?

It seems so! Already the body behind DAB can foresee momentum in the digital switch over meaning that if you don't already have a DAB digital radio in the car, then it could be worth thinking about investing!

You may be considering buying a new car in the near future. Now would be a good time to consider a vehicle with a DAB digital radio as standard, or optional extra.

What does DAB radio offer over analogue?  Well, like Freeview for TV, DAB is able to offer an increased choice of radio stations as more stations can be sent down the same frequencies and simply decoded by the unit in your home or car.

Additional data can be sent along with the signal, meaning that we can often see information about the music or show that we are listening to.

For more information about the digital switch over for Digital Radio, please follow this link:

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Kudos to you, Sir!

To be a typical geek, it's rare to hear one talking about "How it used to be" with any sort of affection. By default, we're all about "here, now & what the future holds" as opposed to "those were the days". I'd like to, however, draw your attention to something pretty amazing by any standard.

Around 1982, computers didn't have as much memory as they do now.  You might have a machine with 4GB of memory. Computers in the early 80's only had about 16, 32 or 48k (4GB = 4,194,304k) so to write any program normally included a very organised brain and a shoe horn or crow bar to get it all in.

A game was launched, called "Elite", it fitted in 22k of memory. This is less than your typical email (average emails are around 60-80k).  However, within this one program contained the following..

  • 8 Galaxies
  • 256 Star Systems per Galaxy
  • Legal System for every planet in the star system
  • Economy and Trade information per planet
Clearly this was something special. People that could program a game in such an efficient manner, they could squash all of that information in.

Today, the same company are trying to write a new version of this game using the same method of programming. And THIS is something I've always championed.

Too often we find software is much too large for it's purpose. Why should we find our anti virus program commanding more system time than the programs it should be protecting? Why should email programs take such a long time to start, run and close? Why should our Operating Systems take MINUTES to load?

I hope other software development companies take a leaf out of the books of these innovative programmers. People that want to return computers back to the fast machines that they are, not sludge their way through a program that makes us desire to spend more money to buy bigger and better, when quite frankly it should be good enough.

Kudos to you!