Learning Russian

Русские книги (Russian books… in Russian)

In spring 1988 I travelled to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) for a week with my school. We flew from London to Moscow, stayed in the capital for a few days then took an overnight train to Leningrad (now St Petersburg), not far from the Finnish and Estonian borders.

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Impact mapping at the first Lean Agile Dundee

Group of people having meeting using laptops
Photo by Rawpixel on Unsplash

Last night I attended the first ever Lean Agile Dundee meetup at the offices of SolarWinds MSP, there were six of us—four Solarwinds employees, another chap and me.

Having attended a few Lean Agile Edinburgh events (the next one being next week at the Skyscanner offices), I was excited to learn there was a similar event starting in Dundee which is significantly closer for me.

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What music reminds you of a happy time?

Big Country “One great thing” taken from The Seer(1986)

What music, no matter when you play it or whatever mood you are in, always transports you back to a happy time or happy moment in your life?

I found myself pondering this last week when I listened to The Seer (1986) by Big Country.

I must have spent hours staring at this album cover and pouring over the sleeve notes.

It’s 1986 and I’m at my friend James’s house.

“You’ve got to listen to this,” said James reaching for his new 12″ album.

The needle came down on the vinyl and we listened to the anticipatory crackles and pops as it wound its way to the opening track.

This time we run
This time we hide
This time we draw on all the fire we have inside.
We need some time
To find a place
Where I can wipe away the madness from your face.

Lyrics from “Look away” by Big Country

We sat in almost silence for the next 50 minutes and 30 seconds as this Celtic rock washed over us. It was heavy, it was delicate, it was rousing and beautifully sweet in equal measure.

This was one of those moments of simple contentedness and the simplicity of sitting in the presence of a best friend.

If I remember correctly, James was made homeless that year—or maybe the next. He moved into the spare room of someone from church. This was one of the first albums we listened to on my first visit to his new home.

This album always reminds me of our friendship. The closeness we had. Both the fun and the laughter during these formative teenage years and the moments of sitting in silence with one another listening to music—Big Country, Sting, Jean Michel-Jarre, Guns n’ Roses—letting the music and lyrics change our view of the world.

I know the weary can rise again
I know it all from the words you send

Lyrics from “Remembrance Day” by Big Country

I’ve not seen James in many years—he eventually moved to live in Sweden—but this album reminds me of him every time I play it.

My paperless(-ish) office with OneNote and NAPS2

Screenshot of NAPS2 application. Two documents have been scanned and are shown side-by-side.
Screenshot of NAPS2, the scan to PDF application I use alongside OneNote

I’ve started using NAPS2 to convert paper documents to PDF to store in Dropbox or Microsoft OneNote as part of my paperless(-ish) office approach to productivity.

Predictions about the paperless office have been circulating for over 40 years now. And yet here I am in 2018 sitting next to a four-drawer filing cabinet containing letters and documents about everything from my house rental and utility bills to health records, university qualifications, and work-related documents.

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