Working at home

Just ain’t what it used to be

 

Moons ago (maybe many, maybe few), working at home was a day spent concentrating on things that needed quiet time.

Respectful introspection.

Deep thought.

No, not the computer off of Hitchiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

The other kind of deep thought.

Working at home used to be a time of uninterrupted mental powerhousing, when I could sit down and read those annoyingly verbose documents, and get to grips with what the drafter actually meant.

I used to be able to work at home and take it as an opportunity to get to grips with over 600 unread emails.

Working at home used to give me, in a Supermanesque kind of way, my very own Fortress of Solitude, from where I could just get on with all the stuff that needed getting on with, and where I could do this in a completely uninterrupted manner.

I wouldn’t mind the little Lync (now Skype for Business) application sitting there broadcasting away to my colleagues, because I worked safe in the knowledge that I was actually working.

I was doing things.

And getting on with stuff.

Sadly those days seem to have vanished.

I have been working at home today.

And my Fortress of Solitude has been penetrated

Repeatedly.

I took my first and only break for a hot drink at 17.12.

TWELVE MINUTES PAST FIVE!

FIRST HOT DRINK!

OF THE ENTIRE WORKING DAY!

5.12pm!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job.

But if I had been in the office, I would have had my first hot drink many hours earlier than TWELVE MINUTES PAST FIVE!

Who do I write to, to complain about this?

Not a dry eye in the house

I’ve just got back from a two day, company-wide conference in Cardiff.

My employer has an enormous Health & Safety programme; it is an ongoing information-based roll-out that is delivered to every employee, in every layer of the company.

This policy is a key strand to the company’s safety strategy, and safety is important when staff are working with highly dangerous materials.

On the first day of the staff conference, the company’s Health & Safety Advisor played us a video.

It’s called ‘Kate’s Story’, and it was shown to us under the heading of ‘complacency’.

If you have the time to spare (just 15 minutes) please give this short film a watch.

It doesn’t matter whether you work or not.

It doesn’t matter whether you work with dangerous materials or not.

Complacency can take many forms, and accidents can happen at any time or place – whether we are at work or not.

But please be aware that this video – this terrible, tragic, yet true story – has such emotional weight that it will, in all likelihood, reduce any viewer to tears.

Just as it reduced a room of 200 people to tears, at our staff conference, yesterday.

In transit

I’m slowly digesting a larger than sensible breakfast, sitting at the departure gate for Dubai, at Birmingham International Airport.

Is there a Birmingham Domestic Airport?

Or a Birmingham National Flights Only Airport?

Thought not.

Anyway, Dubai is just a transfer point on the way to Shanghai.

For a bit of a break.

Back Friday.

Back to Birmingham on Saturday for the Bike Show at the NEC.

Sunday will be domestic duties.

And on Monday I start a new career move, with a job in Syston.

I’m very excited, about the latter, and really looking forward to it.

Also…

Considering getting rid of the ZX9R and the Daytona, and buying a ZX10R.

Just for the lolz.

 

Uncle Sam owned/pwnd by the ECJ

Having a keen interest in ownership of data, and considerable experience in datacentre and public- and private-cloud hosting, today’s ruling by the European Court of Justice was expected.

The legal decision (that the ‘safe haven’ concept provided by US-owned/US-based corporations do not provide the consumer/or the in loco parentis data owner sufficient protection from illegal access by a foreign government) comes as absolutely no surprise.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook, Google (etc) react. But even more interesting will be how Amazon’s AWS and MS-Azure meet this challenge.

The court case result always was a foregone conclusion, but is this the point where the tech industry finally talks about the elephant that’s standing over there?

*points to the elephant standing over there*

Demolition, Saturday unsleeping, and other oddities

This morning the builders started knocking down a wall in the house. Not this house. The other one. The one we’ll be moving in to when the worst of the messy jobs has been done.

After I’d let them in I decided to take advantage of the weather, and do a spot of cleaning. And lubing.

Sparkly clean motorbike chain!

Then I went to bed around 11.30 because I’m working tonight – 18.00 – 05.00.

Unfortunately my superpower – the ability that almost compels me to feel very drowsy at 14.00 on a weekday (embarrassing!) and attempts to swamp me with the dozing when I’m trying to get home from work in the afternoons, doesn’t seem to work when I’m in bed.

So I’m wide awake and writing this.

The day after I finish work at 05.00 I need to be in the office at 06.00.

Two hours after that I’m driving down to Newbury for a day of meetings.

What’s the betting that I find it very easy to sleep on the way down and on the return trip?

The good news is I’m not doing the driving. At least I don’t believe I am. So I should be able to deploy maximum antisocialness (word?) and have a kip while my colleague does the driving.

I’m not sure how it’s possible to have sleep evade me with such dexterity.

I’m very distrustful of sleep.

It seems to come and go on its own terms, lately.

So why am I permanently tired?

Moving…

I have moved this website (the TLD and this trailing sub-domain blog).

These websites (and databases, etc) are no longer hosted on my NAS in my lounge in Rugby.

They’re now hosted at a Tier 2 datacentre in Nottingham.

That I built.

Yes, that’s right, I’ve built a Tier 2 datacentre.

I could fill your head with the wonderfully geeky adventures that I’ve been through, to establish the datacentre.

But I won’t.

But it’s been a stunning experience.

In a very good way.

However, it all seems to have been set up rather too well (thanks to my design, and thanks to the sensational technical assistance of a Belgian uber-ninja-geek who I got onboard to do the virtualisation, install the KVM HyperVisor, and build the admin tools).

I say ‘too well’, because now that it’s done it’s all…

Well…

Done.

And I’m bored, because the actual admin overhead is…

Minimal.

And by ‘minimal’ I really mean ‘next to nothing at all’.

Anyway, the Belgian uber-ninja-geek is sticking around to handle first-line support (none!) and to virtualise the next set of infrastructure which I will finish building, RAIDing and installing the OS on, next month.

I shall move have also moved the Geekblog from the NAS to the datacentre this weekend/early next week.

I could fill your head with the amazing fun and games and geeky adventures and outright learning curves that I’ve been through in the last couple of months.

But it would only bring your excitement to fever pitch.

And we want to avoid you frothing up your underwear at the thought of such rampant geekage.

I have moved contracts.

I’m no longer slogging my heart out trudging down the M6, M42, M5, M4, M32 to Bristol.

Now I just potter a little way down the road to Northampton.

This is a massive improvement in my life, obv.

Especially as the weather has improved, so I’m doing most of these daily trips on the ZX9R.

And finally…

I am moving.

House.

Again.

To Nottingham.

Considering a venture (not adventure)

I have been thinking about, and planning this venture for the last six months.

I am considering setting up a datacentre.

Well, two actually, but let’s concentrate on one for now.

In the last two years I have migrated a number of systems away from central government departments, and from large local authorities; from in-house infra to an external datacentre.

Three migrations have been virtual to virtual, one was physical to virtual, and the most recent has been physical to physical.

I’ve migrated a large-scale finance system with a turnover of £52bn/year.

I’ve moved over 400 corporate systems.

I’ve moved public-facing Sharepoint-based data collection systems (SQL-Server back-ends with feeds through to corporate datafarms).

I’ve moved office systems such as email, print services, site access systems/security systems, etc.

While I’ve been working on these projects I’ve been looking at the hosting sector, and I’ve been looking at who does what for whom.

I’ve noticed that the datacentre providers concentrate on very large customers.

And I’ve noticed that there doesn’t seem to be anyone concentrating on smaller-to-medium customers.

What I would like to do is offer datacentre services that focus on very small public-sector customers, and small-to-medium private sector customers.

Nobody is offering services to small local authorities, because the fat profit margins they’re used to don’t exist.

Think about what happened to South Oxfordshire District Council a few days ago – and also happened to Vale Of White Horse District Council in the same event.

Also, over in the private sector world, small-to-medium businesses don’t even think about datacentre operations.

Small-to-medium businesses don’t usually have any BC/DR plan other than taking backups and keeping them in a safe on-site.

I’ve walked through business parks, knocking on doors, asking questions.

All I’ve found is that staff in small-to-medium businesses communicate internally by emailing attachments around, and storing data/applications on individual hard-disks.

Small-to-medium businesses give precious little thought about proper file/information sharing, and give no consideration to either externally hosting things, or BC/DR.

They’re vulnerable to theft.

They’re vulnerable to data corruption.

They work in inefficient ways.

I would like to build a datacentre with a pick-list of services.

At the shallow end the datacentre would offer low-level services, such as just hosting backed-up data.

At the deep end the services would include hosting of websites, email systems, production business systems, file-shares, etc.

I’m looking at racked servers, hosting VMs, running CentOS.

I have a shortlist of appropriate business units.

If this goes ahead I would choose a business unit, build server rooms in it, get cable installed, build server racks, put in UPSs. And install network switches, and the servers.

Notwithstanding the ‘how do I intend to get customers onboard’ question (actually, I have a plan for that), what do you think about the cunning plan – the general idea?

I’m under no illusions, this isn’t going to make shedloads of cash. But it is going to pay for itself.

And it is going to offer services to a sector that is under catered-for.

Oh yes, and another feature of this concept is that all aspects would be domestically-hosted.

Anyone who says, what about (insert name of US corporation here) doesn’t understand the full implications of this ruling.

Nothing would go out to a US-owned, non-European company, so DPA compliance and IL3 accreditation would be offered and maintained.

Thoughts?

Just stuff…

Very interesting day today in Westminster, with the London office of the people I’m currently working for.

Learned loads, and made progress on a big technical project.

Looks like I have to go down to the Cheltenham HQ for a few days, which would be a pain in the backside, and would mean having to stay down there, because commuting isn’t going to happen.

The trouble is, when one is dealing with complex information systems, there are a lot of pre-requisites that need to get lined up before the actual project delivery can commence.

And oh boy, am I dealing with a lot of pre-requisites.

On a broadly similar topic, I’ve been continuing to look at IP-related activity. I’ve switched from port-monitoring to IP-monitoring.

Speaking of travel, I have a potential short, sharp visit to make down south, which, despite the distance and the dodgy weather, I’m actually looking forward to. Maybe this weekend, if things pan out.

Anyway.

I got outbid on a bike on eBay last night. I am more disappointed than I thought.

But there’s another one…

And I’m viewing two houses tomorrow evening.

It’s all go, eh?