Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Stag Night

Well what an event, well done to BiL Jonny, who organised the whole weekend.
I started at Leamington Spa station at 11am, got to Manchester Piccadilly ar about 1:30pm and met up with 3 other staggers, we transferred to the other side of the station to pick up our connection to Edinburgh.
Beers and food were procured and we met up with the stag and 3 others on the train (they'd got on at Manchester Airport).
Introductions were made and beers drunk, cards played etc etc.
When we arrived at Edinburgh Haymarket 3:30mins later (how long?) we went straight into another pub (drinking will feature quite a lot this weekend, as you'd expect) then into another.
It was here that I am afraid that I lost steam and had to have a brief slump on the table.
We then went off to our accommodation in the Grassmarket Area (for those that know Edinburgh), I unfortunately was a casualty of the day and had to be taken to bed (Arrrgh)
The boys went out and did not return until the very early hours of the morning.
Later on, everyone went out to breakfast and I was the only one that could even be considered bright eyed and bushytailed, no doubt due to amount of sleep I had had.
Anyway, we went off to the Extreme Karting Edinburgh facility for an afternoon of go kart fun.
Got to sort out some accounts now so will update you all on the rest of the stag weekend in the next blog post

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

WMG & Greentrac

Spoke to my contact at the WMG at the University of Warwick recently, they've now got 125 agents out in the field monitoring energy consumption, all good stuff.
We've been pretty busy of late, just finished a tender for 7000 agents at some schools and colleges in Ireland and that goes in tomorrow by post.
You have to see the tenders sometimes just to see the hoops they make you go through, this one requires 2 hard copies of the tender response and 2 CD's with the tender responses + supporting documentation, all of 3MB on a 700 MB CD Grrrrr.
We may have some news soon on the CEEDA front, but in the meantime if you fancy a trip to see the inside of a data centre, then the BCS DCSG have arranged (well I did!) a visit to the SCC facility at Tysleley, Birmingham on the 27th September, more information and booking arrangements can be found on the BCS website.
I've also finished my series of presentations for the BCS Green IT/DCSG Joint talks to be held at various BCS branches over the next year, please contact me if you would like me to come to your event!

Finally, the wife and the daughter are camping in Cornwall, so I have got the place to myself, its surprising how much work you can get done without the interuptions.
I'm off to Edinburgh for the weekend, its my brother in laws stag night, younger bro Jon has done all the organisation. So we're off to shoot clay pigeons, race go karts, and drink rather a lot, oh e may take in a show as well and I believe that Jon does have something secret planned as he's asked us to bring black clothes and it seems that extra points will be given for black gloves, hmmmmmm.
I'll reveal all next entry, so have a great bank holiday weekend.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


We spent most of yesterday trying to stop unconfirmed tweets regarding a potential riot in Greenwich, SE London. A look at the historical hash tag #greenwich will see that tweeting actually caused businesses in Greenwich Town Centre to stop trading and to board up their windows in prepartion for a riot that never and was never likely to materialise, although one orange shop did have its window broken.
Rumours abounded throughput the day of youths congregating in Greenwich Park ready to unleash a wave of terror on the town centre.
It is my opinion that unconfirmed and unverified tweets actually caused more harm than good and I would appeal to all twitter users to try and get evidence before retweeting about the current riot situation in London and beyond.
The reason that Greenwich wouldn't be a victim of the riots was that it simply does not have a JD Sports or any electrical stores, it only has two mobile phone shops.
Officialdom was also taken in by the malicious tweets, one of the river cruise companies were actually saying that a riot was expected later in the day and that all the shops were boarded up and that only locals should embark. The University also tweeted saying that whilst trouble was expected they were still open for calls and registration enquiries.
These tweets obviously caused a great deal of panic and I would urge twitters to think before they post.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Greentrac Data

I went in to the WMG today to finalise the Greentrac Installation, we now have 72 users with the DMA's installed on their machines recording energy use and more to come over the next two weeks.
Our contact has been very impressed with the ease of rollout and the initial install of the server install.
We already knew this of course, but its nice to get some recognition for the fact.
Initial reports indicate that there is a lot of IT energy waste, we cannot go into specific details but we think there is going to be a lot of savings to be made both in energy and carbon.
We've been advised that the project has caught the eye of a few of the other departments on campus and we live in hope that we'll have a number of Greentrac projects in the pipeline.

We've given our presentation on the Low Carbon ICT strategy for the CWLEP to the IT & Media group and are please to report that it was very well received and is now in consultation mode. Our next meeting is in September where hopefully some of the projects outlined in the document will be a little more fleshed out.

We were saddened to hear about the loss of the Dublin Amazon and Microsoft Data Centres over the weekend for a few hours due to a lightning strike on a transformer but believe that this sort of incident should be recognised and planned for. TVSS (Transient Voltage Surge Supression) is a big yes yes for Data Centres and I'm surprised that both Data Centres either did not have it installed or working.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Government IT

I saw this today Government IT "Cartel"
And to be honest I am NOT shocked.
Having worked in some government departments it is clear that only a few civil servants know what IT actually is let alone actively know the design and operational side of things.
So, it is a case of following the process and this I think is the key, some processes are so old that they are unfit for todays fast moving IT platforms.
I heard this morning at the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, IT & Media Group that often users have better systems at home than they do at work.
This is due to the rapid pace of change, and its something that I've blogged about before "the vicious circle" article. I wont recall everything I wrote but in summary, IT companies do things too quickly, thats ok in certain areas, but when its one that is expensive like IT then it is not acceptable.
This is one of the advantages of the cloud, insofar that users should be able to access (subject to certain security aspects) all of their companies data on their own device, thus at a stroke, government IT is a thing of the past, except for the data centre of course.
One way that the user can be fulfilled is to provide a certain amount of money on their first day in a new job for IT equipment (you'd have to specify what the minimum specification was for the devices) and if the user wants a better device then they can pay for it.
The 3 or 5 years later, or if the device was stolen or broken, an additional amount of money was found for a replacement, but the user can keep the device (after all the companies data and access software was removed of course) or send it back to the manufacturer for recycling, this means that the user is responsible for the device, security etc and all the company has to do is goto into the cloud, pay for servers (I understand that HP are looking at a leasing model for servers) and ensure that your data is kept secure.
Basically use the lease car business option scheme, I had a certain amount of money to spend on a monthly lease in my last company, if I wanted I could spend up to an additional 20% from my own money to upgrade.
Geeting back to Government IT, this sort of scheme kills two birds with one stone, it gives SME's a chance and it forces the IT companies to recycle leased products WIN WIN WIN 

The leaking tap

We have a leaking tap, but I could not fix it as we could not find the stop cock!
Where we live we have an unadopted road leading to our property, all the residents own the road outside their own property and we all maintain a strip where the road meets the main (adopted) road.
We knew that the stopcock was on our land, but not where it was, so we called Severn Trent to locate the stopcock.
 I must confess I was rather surprised when they not only located the stopcock, using diving rods and a piece of electronic gadgetry, but advised that it was broken in the on position and that they would come along and fix it for FREE! Woo Hoo I thought.

So at the end of June we had a letter put through the door stating that the work was to commence on the 6th July. Well on the 6th nobody turned up, so I rang the number given on the letter to ask what was going on. The upshot was that there had been a scheduling problem and that someone would get back to me.
I'm still waiting on that call.
I did confirm that the address was right.
A couple of weeks later we had another letter shoved through the door stating that this time the work would commence on the 26th July, again I rang as this address was still wrong, and I was assured that the team would be working off the postcode and use satnavs.
You've guessed it, the 26th came and went with nary a sight nor sound of any Severn Trent employees.
This time the wife got on the case and boy did she have some things to say.
At this point, I should tell you that our road is a cul-du-sac, and the work would have stopped access to 3 houses, all of whom moved their cars out onto a side road whilst the work was supposed to be going on.
Well, this is when the saga began really, we were advised that a Traffic Management Act notification had to be given to our local council as the road needed to be closed, this btw is not the case, the road is unadopted by the local council and we own it not them. So, the wife asked for the number of the council employee and the email address of the writer of the letter (the operations director for STW) so she could fire off a couple of snotagrams, the STW call centre operator refused to give out this information ffs.When confronted with the wife saying that this was just an excuse, he refused to give his name. Wifey closed the call down with a "we'll be speaking to the MD of STW about this"
She was ,however advised that the work was now scheduled for the 2nd August.
On the 2nd August, some STW employees turned up and have done a throughly fantastic job, full marks to them, but would you believe that they do not re-instate the hole!!
No, that job is done by somebody else, fair play to them though they did turn up later and fill in the hole.
However, when the first guys turned up, another van carrying fences and signs also turned up and dropped them off.
Yes, you've guessed it, they had to be collected by a fence picker upper.

So, for a small water stopcock replacement project we've had four separate teams, the fencer dropper offer, the actual construction gang, and a hole filler inner team, we still have the fences and signs waiting to be picked up. so 4 teams altogether.
No wonder the bills are so high, but from a sustainability POV (After all I am a low carbon ICT consultant) this is utter madness.
3 separate vans, 5 men, 8 trips from a depot to our house 8!!
I cannot believe that this can be justified on a cost basis, and even less on a carbon management basis.
The system needs to be looked at, no really it does.
There is no reason why the main gang cant hold all this equipment on their van.
If this goes on with other utilities, and it probably does then we are wasting so much time and energy its simply not sustainable.