2 years ago

Words and definitions

Thinking about the words we use: they will have a meaning to each and every individual that will have a very personal interpretation. Each person's experience will colour their attitude to words. Perhaps 'Educate' can be positive to many, but negative to those whose experience of school was bad, never to be re-visited. To me an institution is a place where rights and freedoms are limited. We must be wary of using vocabulary that we want to define very specifically. The beauty of Audi's "Vorsprung durch Technik" was that for an English-speaking audience, there is no literal translation of Vorsprung (a compound word of something approximating 'forward' and 'jump'). However it conveyed advanced technology, futuristism and through the use of German language, reliability (shame about the 2015 emissions scandal at parent company VW).

2 years ago

Meeting Architecture

Meeting design, or meeting architecture, is a relatively new discipline in the conference, trade show and meetings sector. Meeting Architecture is a term coined by Maarten Vanneste in a manifesto he published in 2008. Vanneste's view was that the meetings and conference industry at the time was dominated by venues and hospitality, a conclusion he came to by studying industry publication advertising and trade show exhibitor participation. Destination and hospitality priorities far outstripped consideration of content and meeting participant experience.

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3 years ago

The Consumation of Empire[s]

Thanks to Andrew Graham-Dixon's programme on BBC television "Art of America", I learned of Thomas Cole; an American painter of English origin who painted American landscapes in the 19th century. His series of paintings "The Course of Empire" (1833-36) seems apposite to current affairs, especially today on the eve of the British parliaments's vote on the Prime Minister's negotiated plan to leave the EU, while in the United States, a President holds his country hostage to his supporters. In both cases, leadership does not seem to be motivated by the benefit of their countries' populations, but the internal struggles of their political parties, power, and the satisfaction of their "mobocracies". We are embroiled in "The Consumation of Empire", with all its pomposity, grandiosity, sinful pride, debauchery, harking back to an invented history, lacking introspection, reflection and modesty. It is said that the paintings are a depiction of the US under Andrew Jackson (a Democrat) and his political party. He was a President who sought to advance the rights of the "common man" against a "corrupt aristocracy". Sounds familiar? The final paintings, "Destruction" and "Desolation", seem imminently and eminently possible - perhaps desolation, the reclamation by nature of a world destroyed by its inhabitants who designed and engineered their own extinction, is what we deserve. It is certainly what the natural world deserves. (Images in the public domain in the United States, their country of origin, and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or less.)

Wikipedia: The Course of Empire (paintings)
3 years ago

File sync and share on your infrastructure

Using NextCloudPi, a preconfigured Raspberry Pi image with NextCloud, I now have a working online file depository using my own infrastructure and equipment. A Raspberry Pi connected to a USB external drive is all the hardware needed, and a download of the NextCloudPi image and a domain host at NoIp.com takes care of the software and domain handling. NCP's set up wizard and a little network port-forwarding tinkering made the whole set up a breeze. Bravo.

4 years ago

When paying for that stronger coffee tastes bitter

When pricing your product, whether good or service, a sense of fairness, good will and customer happiness are created by offering an 'added value' feature at no additional cost for something that takes no more effort nor using any more resources than the 'basic' option. Take that stronger coffee: does your coffee shop charge you more, calling it an 'estra shot', if your cup catches both flows of coffee coming from the grounds-holder? Rarely is a second espresso made at the same time - that extra coffee just flows down the machine's drain. That irks, and my experience could be made so much more happy and rewarding.

4 years ago

Notebook bar brings new UI to LibreOffice

A recent experimental feature of LibreOffice brings a ribbon-like experience to the traditional menu interface. It's responsive to screen widths, and is reminiscent of Microsoft's office interfaces. Definitely refreshing and indicates a positive direction of travel for the project. It has a few glitches (like how the hamburger menu symbol falls behind the file, save un/redo symbols at certain widths). It needs to be activated by users: (Windows/Linux) Tools | Options | LibreOffice | Advanced | Enable experimental features (Mac LibreOffice | Preferences etc); then enable options under View | Toolbar layout.

HT Jack Waldon
4 years ago

When an apology draws attention to your good work

Apology after Japanese train departs 20 seconds early. The BBC reported (17 November 2017) that a Japanese railway company apologised after one of its trains departed 20 seconds early. "Management on the Tsukuba Express line between Tokyo and the city of Tsukuba say they "sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused". ... the company said the train had been scheduled to leave at 9:44:40 local time but left at 9:44:20." Apparently no customers had complained about the early departure. To many of us, this seems like an unnecessary apology. However, it has been widely shared on social media and the reputation of this line can only be enhanced. Japanese train departures are timetabled to the second, and a deviation from that warrants an apology. Who knew? Apology made. Reputation enhanced.

Photo in public domain from Wikimedia
4 years ago

I'm back

After an extended sabbatical from writing and observing, I'm looking forward to posting snippets and links here - things that are important to me, that spark my imagination and passion. Perhaps the odd thing will light your bulb.

6 years ago

The Second Coming

Yeats's The Second Coming is frequently quoted in times of uncertainty, and the recent UK election has been no exception. I heard it mentioned in a conversation between P J O'Rourke and Paddy Ashdown on the BBC World Service on the eve the election. Their conversation was prophetic. The centre did not hold and in the last few days, new and returning ministers interviewed on BBC Radio 4 have exhibited plenty of "passionate intensity". I sincerely hope "The best" emerge in the next weeks and months. For those unfamiliar with the poem, here's the first verse: "Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity."

6 years ago

Update on post about Chrome OS and ownCloud

Should you wish to use the cloud file system extension described below, you might see a SFTP file extension as well as WebDAV, Dropbox and OneDrive. I was very excited by this. However, my Chromebook (HP 11" Chromebook) has ARM architecture, which is incompatible with the SFTP extension. That extension will not work with ARM-powered Chromebooks.

6 years ago

Google Apps for Nonprofits

Did you know that UK-registered charities (and non-profits in several other territories) can get Google for Nonprofits free of charge? This affords your organisation the entire suite of Google Apps including the Google email service and (big bonus) Google Classroom. If you would like to know how I got on migrating, implementing and administering Google Apps using this service, I'd love to hear from you.

Greetings. I'm Steven James and I provide event and digital services to associations, membership bodies, and other organisations in the educational, charitable and non-profit sectors. I also help exhibitors and their contractors with ATA Carnets, the customs document necessary when visiting Switzerland, Norway and other countries outside the European Union. See my website for more information about my services.

This site is a collection of thoughts and observations about the things in life and work that make me think "wow", or "that's cool", or "if only I thought of that". I hope that sometimes, you might think the same.

Need help with a project? Or, if you just want to say hello, I’d love to hear from you. In either case, feel free to email me here.