Discovering The Beauty of Tuscany in Italy

Italy is without exception my favourite place to visit and my last trip was no exception. There are some really stunning places but my favourite from my last trip was Montepulchano.

The town it's self is small and can easily be walked around in a matter of hours but to really get to know this gem of a spot you have to spend a little more time getting to know your way around.

One definite attraction are the wine cellars of this great old wine growing region.

As well as the beauty of this gorgeous town our accommodation at Residence Fabroni really made the visit special. Ombretta, the manager of the property was probably the most hospitable host you could ask for. The view from the balcony was worth the trip alone.

As well as the Tuscany wine region the trip also included Florence and Verona, the town famous for it's part in Romeo and Juliet. The restaurants definitely seemed to favour eating in couples!

More photos coming soon when I manage to find a USB card reader!


QA for the Customer

Some time ago I had the chance to work wuth a development team which had separate QA resource. The team was working in the standard "over the wall" mentality. Developers do stuff, QA engineers pick it apart and so on.

I heard a phrase which really gave me pause:

"QA is working on behalf of the customer"

This sounds great, the QA engineers really take ownership of thinking about the customer. What does it say about the development team motives? Aren't they thinking about the customer?

In the teams I have helped shape I have always avoided dedicated QA because I suspect it creates an environment where people defer responsibility. On the other hand it might mean that a stretched development team can roll out faster as they can rely on QA to catch the issues. That might sound plausible but in the world of ever accelerating deployment can manual testing really keep up?


Recruiting Full Stack Developer

I recently joined www.parktechnology.com as the CTO.

One of the great pleasures of my role is to start hiring a technology team. The first role we are trying to recruit for is a 'Full Stack Developer'. We will also be hiring for Android and IOS developers too so watch this space.


We were really lucky to be able to find two really strong candidates who have a wealth of experience. Exciting times!

Blog Draft Ratio: Should We Publish Everything

Recently I have had a proliferation of ideas about blog posts to write. The challenge is knowing which are really interesting to readers. One thought was to publish every draft as it is then let views / votes / comments decide which to refine. Does anyone want this?


Random Damage

One of the hardest things to rationalise are random acts. Today I found someone had pushed my motorbike over. Unfortunately there was quite a bit of damage. I still need to strip down the rear fairing which is cracked,  but the damage already stands at over £350.

With insurance premiums spiralling and excess now nearly half the value of the bike,  maybe it is time to let it go. You just can't keep anything nice.


How to Apply Sales CRM to Job Hunting

After reading a number of books on sales about using technology like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools to measure and qualify your sales funnel to increase the predictability of leads and opportunities turning into offers and contracts.

By leads I'm talking about people or companies I haven't contacted or worked with.  Once they are qualified then they become opportunities. This seems to be a common distinction made in the sales industry. The terminology seems better suited to sales and marketing but for the sake of speed I'm going to use them here.

Many sales organisations also split the tasks of generating leads and developing them into opportunities. My lead generation activities included:

  • Attending conferences and fairs.
  • Researching top companies via lists from sites like glassdoor and the guardian top graduate employers lists.
  • Through my network trying to identify potential companies.
From these lists of companies the qualification step is quite different from an outbound sales team approach. In a sales team the lead generation hand over happens after the lead generation team has made contact and qualified that the potential customer is in the market to buy. The opportunity team then focuses on 'closing' the deal.

In the job hunting context this looked like researching the companies and identifying whether they are hiring for a good work match. To stretch the metaphor further the HR, talent team or recruiters are the 'gate keepers'. Initial calls would be with HR for example and once it seemed there was a potential there and the discussion was involving the leadership team of the company they were converted to opportunities.

In keeping with the predictable revenue approach I tried to keep track of how many companies I found were in market. For me it was around 20%. This helped me figure out how many companies I needed to research to feed my opportunity funnel.

Using my CRM tool I set up a opportunity funnel with stages for:
  1. Introduction Email.
  2. Initial Call. 
  3. Send CV.
  4. On Site Interview(s).
  5. Proposal Meeting.
  6. Offer Review.
  7. Accepted.
This was really helpful as I could prioritise based on likelihood of getting an offer and how far along the process I was. Being able to track the attrition also gave me an idea how many company lead generation / qualifications I needed to do in order to 'fill' my week. The goal being to have 5 - 10 on site interviews per week.


Fix Found for Foundation 5 Syntax error unrecognized expression

If you are using Zurb Foundation 5 and are seeing this error message:

Uncaught Error: Syntax error, unrecognized expression: [data-'Times New Roman'-dropdown]

Then check out this solution from http://jelaniharris.com/2014/fixing-foundation-5s-unrecognized-expression-syntax-error/


Installation Issues of Ubuntu 15.10 and 14.04 on Lenovo X1 Carbon

I recently bought a Lenovo X1 Carbon and had a bit of a 'mare' installing Ubuntu (both 15.10 and 1.04). I had error messages like:

  • Unable To Find A Medium Containing A Live File System
  • ACPI PPC Probe failed 

And some other issues which aren't possibly related. The bottom line is that it wasn't possible to install ubuntu from USB disk as the live CD medium wasn't found. 

There is an open bug with usb3 disks and I found that if I forced my laptop to treat the ports as USB2 (disable USB3 in the bios) everything worked fine. If you are having this issue and this post helps feel free to tweet me your dmesg issues so I can add them to the list!