Signing off, Sorta’

So my time has come to an end as part of the My BT Life project. I’ve been on leave spending New Year in Morrocco and I’m enroute now for a week of PRINCE2 project management training.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog then please take a peek over on my own personal page at http://benjam.wordpress.com.

Thank you and good luck with your application.

Ben

Note: http://benjam.wordpress.com is in no way affiliated with BT Plc, the comments and opinions are entirely my own.

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Christmas 2008; Did I Get it!?

AppleTV, you know you cant resist!

AppleTV, you know you can't resist!

Way back when I forst started blogging (January 2008) I wrote a post called ‘All I Want (For Christmas)’ where I outlined a few desires for the end of the year, to sum it up I wanted:

  • On demand television that works
  • Decentralised social networking
  • No more Mickey Mouse Wifi services

So did I get what I want? Well, sort of. Firstly on demand television; Virgin, Sky and BT all offer these services from their own libraries but for me there are now two contenders that are really starting to make some headway. The iTunes has finally brought DVD Rental to the UK which pleases me but more importantly a XMCC based Boxee has emerged to become an all singing, all dancing, all platform multi-media centre. Based on the Xbox Media Control Centre (for hacked first gen XBoxes) Boxee incorporates the usual local netoworked media but also fires out to popoular social media packages such as last.fm, vimeo, YouTube etc. It also comes with a rich social layer of recommendaions and watch lists enabling you to check out what your friends are watching or listening to and reccommend something they might like. Best yet, it works as a menu item on an AppleTV! I’m off to the shops…

Secondly, decentralised social networking; what a downer… Facebook is still at large with it’s password antipattern and numerous annoying applications. However there have been a few gleaming lights this year namely in the shape of Twitter, possibly the most talked about application of 2008, since it looked sure-fire to go under at the start of the year. Using Twitter as a ‘data on-ramp’ (Courtesy of JayFresh) I use services such as Dopplr to publish my location, travel plans and numerous hints on life… I’m loving it.

Finally proper WiFi… this one is a bit of a misnomer since 3G was around last year, however this year it’s really taken off. Laptops are coming packed with an unlocked 3G SIM deep inside (Toshiba are doing this) and if you haven’t got one of those then a USB dongle can provide the rest. It would appear that there is no need to free up the Analog spectrum for WiFi, but it would have been a good corporate ploy for any telecommunications firm with no mobile arm *cough*.

So, with the year firmly behind us what do I want for Christmas 2009!?

Enterprises; You Don’t Exist

Corporate Walled Gardens, Dangerous!

Corporate Walled Gardens, Dangerous!

I’ve always been of the opinion that you don’t work for a company, you work for the people you interact with in the office, on calls and at lunch. This is my statutory response to an all to often posed question:

why do you work for such a huge company?

Now believe me when I say, I sort of agree with many of the reasons for working in a small company: progression is often rapid, the fruits of your labour are noted and, in a sense, you are a crucial resource from day zero.

Now beleive me when I say, I’ve thought about it, long and hard, and I came to a conclusion I never thought I would

Enterprises don’t exist…

Agile guys would tell you an enterprise is about people not technology, cluetrain buffs would tell you business is a conversation and prince2 guys will say there role is to guard their team from corporate BS and guard everyone else from their team. So where does the enterprise exist? Brand.

The Brand (yes I overuse capitals, so shoot me) is the embodiment of the enterprise, loved by some (Apple) despised by others (again Apple) it embodies an enterprises identity and aspirations… But I think even The Brand is dead. Abby is Santander, Norwich Union is Aviva and Woolworths is a penny share, The Brand is a trend, lord knows BT has changed it’s dress more than Paris Hilton over the last couple of decades.

Much has been said about corporate boundries and the rise of Web 2.0 technologies (don’t get me started on that either) so I’ll just reiterate the key points;

  • The corporate walled garden is easily hopped by the use of social media.
  • Any enterprise than shuns social media will miss the boat when it comes to my generation being In control, conversations will be social.
  • Courtesy of Paul Downey; in the intranet no one can hear you blog.

So there we go, now the next time someone asks me why I work for a huge behemoth of a company I’ll tell them

The Enterprise is dead, long live the Benterprise!

Flexibility in IT

I write this as I sit on the district line on my way to work, tha

And relax...

And relax...

nks to the WordPress app on the ever useful iPhone. The reason I’m writing this post at 9.58 and not sitting at my desk dealing with all manner of risk related issues is flexibility.

BT, to me, has two distict cultures: those that get in at nine and stay till five with an hour for lunch while they wait for retirement age, and those that get in when they need to and go home when they finish. Now I realize this isn’t possible for all of us but, in BT Design, where the name of the game is IT it is actively encouraged. I remember this message being reiterated only recently at a talent masterclass event by Design CEO Al-Noor Ramji. I’m not saying that some people don’t abuse this privilege and I’ll admit it took me a while to get used to but these days it’s second nature as exemplified by the fact that yesterday I was working from 6am till 5pm preparing for a presentation.

This coupled with the concept of Flexible working (the practice of having no fixed location and working from a laptop gives me the freedom to work when I want, where I want, as long as the job gets done… Come to think about it why aren’t I basing myself in Morzine or Jackson Hole!?

So what enables me to do this, IT! that’s right boys and girls the geeks in the basement have created the opportunity for us all to work from the beach. Mobile email, IP telephony and VPNs mean that the traditional boundaries of a company just aren’t there any longer, indeed the social and political boundaries no longer exist either but I’ll cover that in my next post.

Meanwhile consider this: if you are the sort of person that didn’t do any work at school until you were harassed by teachers you’ll probably find it difficult in today’s large enterprises…

You have been warned!

Snowboard Video Roundup 2008/2009

Danny Kass, founder of Grenade

Danny Kass, founder of Grenade

Well, it’s lunch and I’m eating and writing at the same time… Since most of this blog is going to be about work related things I thought I’d stick in a little personality and do a roundup of three of the best Snowboard Movies I’ve seen for the start of the season. I’ve linked, ranked and broken down into a few top videos for you to hype up on before you head for high altitude.

#1 Travis Rice, ‘That’s It, That’s All’

Travis is going to be one of the biggest names this year because of this huge budget, two year production. It’s the most beautiful piece of cinematography I’ve sene since Planet Earth, with snowboarding legend Travis Rice (Lib Tech Snowboards) alongside Nikolas Müller (Burton) and Terje Haakonsen (Burton) cutting up some serious backcountry powder… no rails is all good.

Highs: Triple backflips, Snowmobile over Mile Long Lake (Canada), Epic Avalanches, HD

Lows: Not available on iTunes in the UK

Check out the trailer in glorious HD at http://thatsit-thatsall.com

#2 Forum, ‘Forum Or Against ‘Em’

This movie is tough, rull of hard rails and harder slams. Forum is a well recognised but under-financed team in my mind. Nowhere near the budget of ‘That’s It, That’s All’ but does a very god job of putting other, larger brands to shame (Burton’s, ‘It’s Always Snowing Somewhere’ double disc feature is pants). This movie is also shot in HD which goes to show what’s possible when you don’t have much cash.

Highs: Face smashed into floor ‘Gunna hit it again…?’ ‘Yeah’

Lows: Again not available on the UK iTunes store.

Check out the trailer on Forum’s website http://forumsnowboards.com

#3 Rome, ‘No Corrrect Way’

Another medium budget movie in much the same vein as Forum’s offering. Again loads of hard rails and hard slams with a bit more backcountry shots and airs. Loving Joe Sexton’s section with plenty of ‘I’m not strapped in’ bennihanas and stuff… bring back the 80’s! Not shot in HD but still well worth it, particularly for the stunning metal soundtrack.

Highs: Wallride backflip out over the Rome tour bus… first attempt is a face plant (ouch)

Lows: Not shot in HD, if you don’t like metal turn the sound off.

Again you can check out a trailer over of Rome’s website at http://romesnowboards.com

The Rest

Also of note are this years offerings from Grenade (another heavy metal affair) and for those that like two thin snowboards instead of one there’s Claim… which actually looks decent.

Happy viewing!

How to Embrace Open Source: If I were a hacker

The Osmosoft Crew

The Osmosoft Crew

Right, in order for y’all to get not only a good view of what it’s like to work inside BT via my Twitter feed I will also be showing you some of the insides of BT from my own astraged persepctive. The first is one that I hold dear to my heart, Open Source.

I’ve been involved in Open Source projects throughout my studies at University, at Undergraduate I studied the use of Eclipse for software development, the use of Apache for hosting and the use of Ant for scripting deployment. In my Masters degree I studied Internet Software Systems where I studied the use of web development using the Hibernate, JSP, Spring, Wicket and ACEGI.

While I’ve officially lost the will to code, having been a coder since the age of 8 (Sinclair Spectrum and Your Sinclair magazine anyone?) I’m whole-heartedly into the concept of community driven development and the wider subject of FOSS (Free and Open Source) liscencing, particularly the (relatively) modern Creative Commons. This interest was sparked upon first joining BT and running across Mr. Jon Lister of Osmosoft.

Enough of the pre-amble, ‘what do Osmosoft do’ I hear you cry… well… Osmosoft was purchased by BT as I joined back in 2007, at the time Osmosoft was a one man band by the name of Jeremy Ruston with a single-celled, free, open source wiki called TiddlyWiki. This greatly annoyed finance as Osmosoft had no revenue, no customers and no intellectual property… so why did they bother?

As you probably know, large scale ‘enterprises’ have been blabbing about use of Open Source for a while now, be it positively or begrudgingly, however very few of these companies are saying the right thing… por ejemplo:

  • The quality of software is poor
  • We should use it because it’s free
  • etc etc

JP Rangaswami wrote a decent ‘nail on the head’ post about the reasons for not adopting Open Source and why they’re irrelevant over here so I won’t blab on and get on with it. The reason BT aquired Osmosoft was becasue TiddlyWiki had an open, extensible framework which had gathered a community of around 25,000 people.The reason BT want this is because

BT wants to better understand the innovation which occurs at the edges of a community

it wants to be able to make use of this innovation as much as it wants to feed it’s own development time back into the wider community.

I beleive the benefits of this approach are pretty obvious but just to spell it out, yes you may get some free development time, but more importantly it helps you understand what your customer wants and where the world is going. The classic homage paid to Open Source project ‘leaders’ are that although 90% of commits to a project are abysmal it proves that someon cares about a feature or a bug enough to try and fix it. Think about it like a amrketing survey: Survey 100 people on whether they’d buy a new brand of soft drink, assume 50% said yes they’d buy it. Now offer tham a can for sale… think 50% would still buy it?

So what have Osmosoft been doing since their inception and aquisistion. Here’s a quick hose-down

  • Developed a couple of products from TiddlyWiki namely RippleRap and TeamTasks which are free and openly available.
  • Lead the creation of BT’s Open Source adoption message at http://bt.com/opensource
  • Lead the move of BT into contribution at FOSSBazaar http://fossbazaar.com
  • Presented at a million and one events inc.
  • Created some crazy-cool visual psychobabble on Open Source and the web courtesy of Paul Downey

All in all a pretty successfull year, beleive me… If I still had that hackers instinct I’d be battering down their door for a job.