Category Archives: Work

A Day in My New Study

One of the happy side effects of Daisy’s new bedroom is my new study, we’ve swapped the rooms so Daisy has the large room (and is loving it) and I have the smaller one. What we’ve attempted to do is stuff everything that use to be in the larger bedroom into the small one; except that wasn’t really possible so we’ve left quite a lot of stuff under our bed.

Today I did some working from home and it was the first time I got to seriously work in my new study, with it’s nice clean desk and window with at least some sky for me to gaze at.

My New Study - still clean
My New Study - Still clean and full of computers

I actually prefer the smaller space, when you’re working quite intently at a computer screen having some walls close by is comforting.

I am however coming to the sad realization that if I have to do any significant amount of writing at a computer that I’m a desktop man not a laptop boy 🙁 which is a bit sad considering how many laptops we have floating about.

Both my main home and work computers are laptops, and despite one running shiny windows 7 and being vastly superior to anything else, I almost always find myself sitting at the creaking windows XP machine typing g away – and enjoying it.

I don’t know if it’s the keyboard comfort or the mouse over the touch pad (i suspect a bit of both) or indeed the big old monitor. but it just seems easier some how – even the thinking about what words to type bit.

looking back – a quick job catchup

For reasons to complex and boring I’ve just been trawling though my emails from March 06, a lot of which related to me leaving JMU – so I ended up on the blog reading posts about me leaving, why I was leaving and what I was hoping to get from moving on.

What stuck me is that i never talk about what has happened since, I’ve gone very quite on the Job front, and I’m not entirely sure why – probably because I was worried people would find me out to be a nutter – well that ship has sailed so lets talk about my current job.

Kevin Jump – Technical Director, LDL Web Services

gosh i must be bought in - it's the LDL Logo
Gosh I must be bought in - it's the LDL Logo

Now that’s a grand job title isn’t it? it’s not quite as good as the one I like to pretend I have ‘Chief Digital Overlord’ but it will do – So what’s the job about, well it’s not a million miles away from what wikipedia says it’s about I provide direct technical strategy and stuff for web things.

I would like to be a thought of a bit broader than just Web. I’m currently on a bit of a crusade to drop Web from the team name – but we can’t just be called services can we?

On the staffing side, the bit of the service i look after has 15 people in it – I directly manage five of them with three of them managing the rest (look you’re not getting the org chart – just a summary!) – I use to manage loads more, but we split it up – the theory being i get more time to actually do strategy and less holidays and sickness.

So yes I’ve left my developer roots behind, I honestly can’t remember the last time I opened visual studio in vain, but I have poked about in other things but only to cover not as a day job. I don’t look at lines of code anymore I stand back away from the screen and say “there’s two much blue” or “it looks a bit to indenty for me” but mainly people just close the windows down before I get to their desks.

The more observant amongst you will have noticed that when i left JMU I didn’t go for a technical director job, I came to a Web Developer Job, so how did I get here?

Kevin Jump – (Senior) Web Developer – 6 months

I started with the web developer role, writing code – and boy did I churn some out, mainly back end managementy stuff – but there was lots – it was quite a culture shock to be honest – It turns out I had been coasting at JMU getting quick lax deadlines – floating about for a bit then cramming to hit the deadline – at LDL there was a lot less floating and a lot more cramming. then my then boss left – which meant there was a Development Manager role going – Now cunnigly just before that I had got myself on the Leadership course, so I was being groomed – and when the job came up I went for it – and did rather well at interview I thought.

Kevin Jump – Web Development Manager – 12 months

The Development manager job was a bit of a baptism of fire – the team had been growing, we had lots of projects that where handed to us from other departments with pre-set deadlines, oh and after three months in the job the head of service left (did do a month of being head of service for a while) ! It took a while and left not fool ourselves I still work for a large organisation so change wasn’t quick. but I think we made life better.

Only problem by the end of it (with a new head of service – I wasn’t that ambitious!) I had 13 staff to manage which is way to many and I was getting bogged down with people management – so we introduced a new level so other people who could focus on it better could manage in the specialist areas – this meant we effectively created a development Manager post below me – so i needed a new job title and i bit of a better defined role.

So here we are – I direct things technically for web – if you need to know more – you can but ask.

Efficient AND full-time?

The Guardian article that Kevin shared yesterday fascinated me.  The link doesn’t work, for some reason, but the article is here. The summary is that, by means of fast moving, punchy, 20 minute presentations, repeated three times, with a ten minute break between each for some physical activity (juggling, apparently), they can cover an entire GCSE syllabus in three days.  And cover it well enough for pupils to then pass the exam.  The results weren’t quite as high as  by traditional methods, but the trade off between that, and the astonishingly small amount of time it took is probably acceptable by the standards of most business models, for example.  And if you fail, you can always do it again – the following week, if you like!

The article is full of excitement over the amount of time that is wasted in schools, and how much more efficient this system seems to be, and thereby stands the problem.  The education system that we’ve evolved is, as we’ve discussed, in large part about childcare.  It’s concerned with keeping children out of the way of their economically productive adults, so they don’t prevent the economic productivity from going on.  Within that structure, there is no advantage in making education efficient.  Which is odd, because the text of the education act makes parents responsible for ensuring that their children receive an education that is both efficient and full-time (either by attendance at school or otherwise).  And I’m starting to wonder if an efficent education, is, by definition, not full-time at all.

It’s all reminscent of the days when we (well, not me, I wasn’t born) were told that technology would give us all free time.  We’d all be working three day weeks, or less, because the technology would get the necessary work done in a fraction the time, and we’d all be wondering how to fill our new leisure time.  Except it didn’t happen, did it?  For a while we had some people working as hard as ever, whilst the others couldn’t find jobs at all, and lived in poverty.  Then we had economic boom, in which we successfully invented work for everyone to do, most of which is completely unnecessary. We created call centres, and all forms of bureaucracy, essentially to keep us all busy.  And of course, the childcare industry, which is built on the need to cover all the time we spend doing non-work.  Heaven forfend that we could earn a living wage in three days, and take the rest of the time off.

If I’m ever in a position to do so, I shall run a three-days-a-week business.  One where part time work is the norm, and where people can go home when they’ve finished what they were asked to do.  In the war, when people were asked to contribute to the war effort by working seven days a week, productivity actually went down.  And in the seventies, when the power went out, and businesses went to three day weeks, it didn’t. We’re all working far too hard.  It’s not necessary.  But for as long as you’re all doing it, it is necessary, because the the amount of time you work, and the amount of money you earn doing it, is what sets the cost of all the things I need to live – house prices, and food, and petrol, and clothes, and all the rest of it, are set based on how much money you have to spend on them.  The harder we work, collectively, the more expensive things get.  We don’t get any advantage from it.  So, I’m saying, let’s stop.  It’s not necessary, and if we all stop together, we don’t have to starve to bring about the change.

So, yes, let kids study GCSEs in three days.  If that’s how long it actually takes, then let them do that, and then stop.  Have fun. Spend time with their families. Learn things that they want to learn, from a position of having the time and energy to do it. But the idea of a generation of children with time on their hands is a terrifying prospect to the powers that be, and I’m guessing they will strain every nerve to avoid it happening.  Look out, Monkseaton High School.  This isn’t a revolution that you’re going to be allowed to start.

how many cups of tea?

a cup of tea
a cup of tea

When I worked at the university, we always had a little rule for when things broke : the number of things you broke = the number of cups of tea you had to make. It was a good rule of thumb that maybe did a little to motivate you into not breaking 3,000 pcs – I doubt google have the same rule, and i can bet the person who broke the entire google search today is glad – google doing funny things for 40 minutes is a lot of tea.

Then again It never was a hard and fast rule, I once misplaced a ; in an win.ini file and killed around 1,500 computers overnight – to compound it all I was on holiday the day after when they had to clean it all up.