Never got to send him an email

Twenty years ago tonight my father collapsed and died aged only 52. When I type twenty I have to try and work out that that’s almost half the time I’ve been on the planet. It seems such a long time ago and yet like yesterday.

He collapsed suddenly, passed instantly thankfully and was unaware of what was happening and that is the only blessing I can take from it.

He got me hooked on programming in 1982, thirty five years ago, an addiction that delivered me a career. He never got to meet my wife, meet my kids. Ironically the time he died I’d been “online” for years and although he had a fax modem in his computer he never used email although he was aware of Compuserve and other services and the dial up internet bills. Hence he treated it with caution.

I never got to send my dad an email. I wish I could now. When I say wish – I’d give everything I have to see a reply arrive in my inbox, just once. Kills me inside.

Tonight my wife is out escaping motherhood for a deserved break and I’m going to have some quiet time listening to R.E.M just like I did in the small quiet hours after he died. Messrs Mills, Berry, Buck and Stipe can sing me to my slumber, soundtrack to my solace.

The best security podcast – ever

Recently I quit Red Hat’s security team and although it was tough to do it was made so much easier by the fact that although I left I remained daily friends and comrades with Josh Bressers who heads up the product security side of RHEL.

Josh has a podcast (after appearing on mine) and I’ve been subscribed since Episode 1, the show is co presented with Kurt Seifried another Red Hatter. Kurt resides in Canada and he and I are both permanent staffers on the Cloud Security Alliance.

The podcast is recorded remotely and does not suffer the issues 95% of remote podcasts have with Skype or dumb lazy mixing, you’d never know these two are not in the same room. Audacity FTW. Who needs proprietary software ?

Josh is now following me out the door at Red Hat to pastures new and our world continues to turn with no change at all and the podcast I hope will also continue because for me it’s an hour of my week where two of my two favourite people talk to me in my car.

It’s been funny because when I was at Red Hat Josh and I had a weekly video conference and recently after leaving Josh kicked it back off because we talk anyway almost every day anyway and I’m so glad he is in my life. When we first met we did NOT get on. I have no idea why, but we just didn’t gel. Now… I can’t imagine a time when this erudite, amusing, guy, bright as a button is not in my daily life – he’s become my sounding board.

So get your ass over to Soundcloud or their website and subscribe/follow. Also listed on all your favourite podcast search engines.

Here is the latest episode if you needed proof.

 

 

Don’t suffer with aches, get them sorted !

I’m a mid 40s sedentary male with bad habits and am generally too busy a lot of the time. I hurt my shoulder badly recently and rather than go back and get treatment or help I put up with it rubbing in pain killing gel and taking anti inflamatory drugs. For weeks I’ve had lack of movement, disrupted sleep and even travelling and being in front of an audience in Holland this week I had to pretend I wasn’t in acute discomfort.

Cue connecting up with Moveology in Swindon today. They have two branches one in St Albans, one here in Wiltshire so I got up at 6am to make the first appointment of the day.

I had no idea what to expect, if in my minds eye I could get guidance and a bit of pain alleviation that was really my best hope. What I discovered was so much more beneficial. Daryl put me immediately at ease and reset my shoulder without causing distress, discomfort and alarm. He listened took copious notes and he made me feel I mattered and that all he wanted to do was to get me back to feeling me again.

If you are in discomfort and you need osteopathic care I can totally recommend Daryl at Moveology in Swindon, check their website at www.moveology.co.uk, I’m going back to get the rest of me fixed soon.

We all fundamentally belong, but where ?

As the world has watched the constant news emerging from Washington DC since President Donald.J.Trump took office this month, with mouths wide open, fists mutually shaking at television screens agog at the picture that is being painted. As a parent, as a traveller, as a global resident of this lump of iron hurtling through space you feel utterly helpless to comprehend the behaviour of the minority with the power that has, in such a small period of time, caused anxiety and distress to so many with so little thought.

In countries, towns and cities globally we see people merging en masse in one spirited voice of reactionary fury and indignation faster than at any time I can remember in my lifetime against any one cause. Even stop the war protests were not this vocal or attended in such numbers.

We know it will change nothing. The new US administration is determined and beyond influence. The BREXIT movement in the UK born out of frustration with the upper classes and the way that the Conservative governments have caused hardshp. Continued poor economic planning and the removal of rights and benefits from those most in need, combined with a xenophobic and often entirely wholly racist viewpoint from those in the 50+ age group. Remember the healthy percentage of pensioners and people in tail end of their working lives in working class areas (often in the 70+ age group) determined to rid Britain of immigrants “stealing our jobs and our houses” because that’s the truth of it. Older visibly racist people tipped the balance. Old racist people who don’t work and are often baby boomers enjoying a lifestyle many 20 something working folk will never have. A future denied to them by old racist people who were enough in volume to add the 5-6% needed to push for an EU exit without realising it screws them first. Nobody said they were bright.

The same can be said for US voters who voted for Trump many of whom in Bumblefuck Ohio will be rednecks who were racist about the election of Obama in 2008 and who think Mexicans stole their jobs. Jobs replaced by automation and Chinese manufacturing, not Mexicans.

We live in an age where the Internet we created hasn’t yet worked out how to educate capable people who don’t want to listen.

So now, the intelligent folk who have no voice (removed by the people who don’t care and don’t usually vote) march.

There is an irony somewhere.

For now, love your neighbour, there are people out there you’ve never met who need your help and your friendship.

I’ve cancelled two US trips because right now I have no intention of spending my money in a country run by an idiot where there is uncertainty and fear. I love America and so many of the people I love are in America. They have my support and my appreciation, these are uncertain times and we’re governed by people who don’t have our respect or our trust.

I carry a press card. It used to give me freedom of expression and travel. In Europe and most civilised parts of the world outside the Middle East it does, I never thought I’d see a situation where I’d worry about carrying it in the United States.

It’s all change…

It’s been in the social media sphere for a month now so if you didn’t already know, I left Red Hat in December 2016.  To be able to walk away from a company I’ve watched grow since day one at a time of my choosing. Choosing to take next steps in not just my career but my life as a parent, as a husband and as a productive and happier member of the human race. If you’d read the last post I’d written here you may have realised this was coming. I’ve just made it a reality.

Travelling and revolving around often a seventeen hour day with US timezones can be juggled efficiently but when your job takes over and stops you being able to read the kids stories at night because of scheduling then the guilt hits you. When you’re travelling and miss kids parents evenings, school plays and events then it’s time to re-evaluate. Kids are only kids so long.

When you can afford not to have to work those hours, or to pick and choose the path you want for your future then the concept of making those life changes becomes fundamentally simple.

Next steps are more family friendly. I have two amazing children, a fantastic wife and a reputation I’ve worked very hard to build over two decades. Just now I can do what I want to do to achieve the goals I set myself rather than goals that purely deliver a pay cheque.

And having taken a huge pay cut the last six years made it a lot easier to go back to the security world, on my own terms and to do things that give me a lot more satisfaction and to be a better dad and husband as a bonus.

 

Nobody Likes a Grateful Geek

Seventeen years ago I started writing my first blog. It wasn’t pretty. It was the musings of a then mid twenty geek working in the technology arena who was generally frustrated by life and mainly by the technology he couldn’t get his hands on, mainly because his friends were still writing it. In that latter respect my friends are STILL writing the technology that drives me mad or in equal amount makes my life automated and in many cases easier. They know who they are and many of them write the code that also makes your life easy you just don’t realise it because you take it for granted.

Roll the clock on seventeen years and I’m forty three years of age, married with two children and still working in technology. However now out of choice not because of any need to, it’s something I do because I want to certainly because there are other things I can go do at the drop of a hat just for now this is more fun and it’s more of a challenge. To have the good fortune to work with some of the worlds leading coders and thinkers in a world leading company is something that I thrive on. More especially as I was around at the very start and have therefore seen huge evolution.

There is however a downside, one that sometimes eats me and perplexes me but if this is the sole “negative” in my life as I approach middle age I consider myself to have carved a niche somewhere between settled/happy and calm. For that I am grateful and for that I reach into my life and pull out the pack of cards called life and count my blessings. I seem to have thrown aces the last few years since meeting the woman in 2007 who I would go on to marry and have kids with.

Procreation changes everything. Life isn’t about you now, it’s about them and about shaping them and keeping them alive. It’s as basic as that. Life literally pivots on a spot and before you know it you’ve got a family home. Lego everywhere, you become immune to the mess that you never used to have as children deploy toys, books and detritus at speed. If you are actually paying too much attention to it, or you are OCD, you will never actually recover from the shock. Gone are the halcyon days of being able to go to late night cinema with your other half or to go off for weekends care free.

In the place of those memories grey hair appears and the countdown of being able to get into bed with your wife and just have a cuddle without a child screaming for something or being poorly. The cuddle is the hugely important marker that says the day has ended okay and you’ve survived. To me it’s the equivalent of wireless charging your phone or tablet, in fact without it I’m running flat. Without it I’m going to end up awake in the middle of the night, unable to process whatever logic is present.

The change in life in getting married and having kids is magical and at the same time life appraising. Instead of worrying about the small stuff you worry about the big stuff. Daft thing is the big stuff in most peoples lives is not the big stuff in my life. The usual worries other folk seem to have I don’t have a problem with it’s the silly inane stuff. Recently I’ve lost a good friend to cancer. He was a huge influence in my life and had kids the same age as mine. Whilst financially I made provision for my family long before they were even a possibility it’s the daft thing about wanting now to live long enough to watch them grow and succeed in life. My own father having died at an age not much older than I am now. The feelings of mortality and the perennial fear about making sure you are doing enough is ever present.

Then you think about your career. I have this weird life where I have to intentionally mentally turn a lot of stuff off to go to work. I have to actually wholly deliberately turn off a lot of my core competencies and hunker down to get through most days. I love what I do and the people I work with but I use about ten percent of my core professional capabilities to do the core pieces of my job. It’s a challenge often to just get through each week without taking it too personally as it’s not meant like that. That is not to say that I am doing a dumb job, far from it. I just don’t use any of the skills that I have been professionally trained for or certified to lead or deliver. Not one bit of the experience I was hired for having is ever utilised or harnessed and it can grind you down. I don’t think it’s personal or unique to me either so it can drive you mad slightly especially in the current security climate.

You know in your heart that down the line the route you would have directed as sensible will eventually become screamingly obvious but you know that to suggest it would see it ignored. It happens too many times for it not to be a coincidence. Too many issues often aren’t solved by a strident call to arms or me trying to exert change when you are surrounded by a well meaning crowd.

I am sure many have the same exact daily experiences in your careers, if you don’t you can count yourself in the minority. All you can do is be proud of the job you are doing and do it to the best of your capabilities to match the expectations you have on you. As a former CEO, and a former director and employer I have to just accept my life took a different turn and that this for now is what it is. Do NOT let it eat you and don’t take it too seriously. Try to gently coax but accept that for now you’re not in a position to influence or change the direction of the conga. It doesn’t help your health or your home life and that’s where this blog comes from.

I was posting a lot on Facebook the last nine years and I was starting to hate it. Facebook is instant and it gives you the ability to bang your fist and say something. Often the last place you want to do that is in public on Facebook in front of peers, colleagues and friends or even worse your wife or family. The tempation post BREXIT to also appear even more angry at some of the diatribe and crap from the Leave camp just got to me. I was taking it way too personally. I had to say to my wife that from now on I would not be posting status messages on Facebook other than automated bot postings from my blogs and then to remove Facebook from mobile devices to reduce the temptation which for now I’ve managed.

Facebook is so easy to get into a corner where you either can’t paint yourself out or you want to reach across the virtual ether and gently allocate slapage to the poster or person commenting. It’s also almost impossible to get a point across when you have intelligent friends who either like a good discussion or who are bored to death and have nothing else to do than get a rise out of you.

Solution: Walk away at a planned time and date and don’t post there again. No more statuses no more comments on statuses to police and no more caring what people think as if you’re silent you’re able to just get on with stuff. Advantage to date, my phone battery lasts twice as long, I don’t have acid indigestion and I’m calmer. Also I have my life back. If you ever get the chance take it. You can and will live without Facebook.

So for now this is going to be my little home in the ether where I can post and talk about the stuff that interests and bothers me. I hope it will keep you entertained and bemused as well as maybe show as a side to me none of you realise I have. Don’t expect rants or moaning, nobody wants to hear it and if I am honest I am very fortunate in life. I hit the jackpot marrying my wife, great kids, no financial issues, I have every toy I could ever want and more and I can work wherever I really want so I’ve hit the tree of good fortune. Now I’m just able to take my foot off the social media gas and post here about stuff I enjoy and that I hope will reflect bits of my life that you don’t know about or see as this journey evolves.

Keep coming back and let’s see where this goes.

This isn’t The Age of Aquarius

This site is now the focus of the half thought out and badly structured cogitations of a middle aged man. We used to think of “middle age” as our fifties or sixties but as many of us reach our seventies or eighties before departing this existence, therefore at 43 I am in my “middle age”. With the explosion of social media and the ever consumptive role in plays in our lives it was time to slam the parking brake on what has become an overpowering influence in my spare time. Being a husband and father I get precious little spare time so I’d rather have an outlet on my terms that I can use to project my own esoteric and shrewd observations of how life is evolving for those looking tiredly at being over forty.

To be continued…