NLP witchcraft or obvious?

I got interested in ‘pop’ psychology in college. It was primarily through doing some AI work, and also trying to figure out how to model behaviour in games. Both of these were sidelines. However, having seen Derren Brown do his mind tricks on the TV, part NLP part magic, it struck me that it was a useful set of things to be armed with should someone try and ‘manipulate’ me. e.g. customers, managers, salesmen. I did my usual thing of buying a book, and not quite reading it all the way through. However, some of the basics did start to gel. e.g. When people are explaining things, some of them use words like I hear, to the tune of etc, other use images, I see where you are coming from, it looks bad, and others use ‘feel’. If someone who sees things, talks to someone who hears things, there is a disjoint. So NLP is about adjusting to empathize, or abuse the differences. There is way more to it than that. Natural communicators adjust to these sorts of things automatically. It can be taught, but its a practiced art. Anyway it will be interesting to see what Hursley Lab people, many from a development background make of this information. Something that is more akin to sales school that a deep technical audience

Ian Hughes – ( Consulting IT Specialist Emerging Technology Services, IBM Hursley)

You have (no) mail

I’ve been a fan of David Allen’s system of Getting Things Done for a while, but have always had trouble keeping an empty inbox.
Until now…

Notes: empty.

Gmail: also empty.

What difference does this make to my life? Mainly just that I no longer struggle to distinguish actions from reference material. Previously, when my monolithic inbox got really bad I’d ‘mark as unread’ things I knew I still had to do, but deep down I knew the notion of new-and-unread and something-to-do were distinct, and that something was wrong. I’ve maintained two empty inboxes for a week now, and I see no reason not to be able to keep them that way.

When new email arrives it will either be junk, reference or an action.

  • Junk is the best, since it’s deleted on sight and takes no more of my time or energy.
  • Reference material goes into an ‘archive’ folder, which largely gets ignored until I need something. My archive is a (fairly coarse) hierarchy. I’m too lazy for anything too elaborate here, so I’ll probably end up relying on search tools to find things.
  • If it’s an action – an email containing something I have to do – I ask myself, “can I deal with this right now, in less than one minute?” and if I can I do it there and then. (the book suggests two minutes, but I find that something I think will take two minutes will end up taking five or ten). If it will take longer then it’s moved to an ‘actions’ folder for when I do have time do it.

If you’ve never heard of Getting Things Done, I’d recommend 43 Folders’ GTD introduction as a great place to start.

– Roo Reynolds (Pervasive Messaging Technologies, IBM Hursley)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana

When I joined IBM, out of college, I used to work in the HQ at North Harbour down in Portsmouth. Thats only 25 miles from Hursley. It was a suited and booted environment, lots of accountants and sales people, and us techies busy writing code for internal systems. We knew of Hursley, but it was a ‘research’ place a world away, very few of us visited. Then, and I remember it well, the project I was on was going to be relocated to Hursley. This was a shock for many people, but for me I thought that it would be great to be in the heart of research, with a big country house and acres of fields around. I think I was expecting Bletchley park, and lots of code breakers, in the cryptogarphic sense rather than the testing sense.

We duly moved in 1995 into Hursley. I have to say at the time it was a little dissapointing. We all ended up in an open plan office, sitting with the same people on the same project doing the same thing. The biggest difference was that I turned right out of my road on the way into work, not left. Now this observation is not all doom and gloom, or a negative reflection on Hursley. It is something that hits us in corporate life. Whilst a location, or area might have a certain buzz about it, its the people you work with day to day that make the difference. Back then, yes I sound old, we had little in the way of communications. Yes we had email, but email is not the way to get to together with like minded individuals outside of your department/office/cube. In 1997 I moved to join a group, the Interactive Media Centre, which was also based in Hursley. This was a complete change, even though I had been on site for 2 years, I had not met many of the people in this small group. It was a very different, graphic designers, producers and techies all together, all with very different perspectives. We grew on the internet/e-business wave.

This ability to move to other groups and have a complete change is very important. It is a social grouping, and it is about physically being in the same place, something that happens less and less in business. What has been interesting to me is how the world has altered, such that it is possible for people to gather and share ideas through things such as this blog (or any other blog), through websites, games etc. So it is now much more important for people to look at their virtual peripheral vision(VPV), to get involved with things in a structured way, or randomly as suits their style.

You do not have to make a complete commitment, moving site, moving department or changing your skillbase in order to get hooked up with people who you have an affinity too. Where you can spark some ideas around, show off or have serious discussions. The roots of this blog are people who happened to have ended up in Hursley, but who do different roles, have different personality types, but like to share thoughts and comments on a variety of topics. I am not suggesting people don’t move jobs, but if something is missing from your working life, its certainly worth exploring with your VPV.

Ian Hughes – ( Consulting IT Specialist Emerging Technology Services, IBM Hursley)

Geek Rockets

We don’t spend all our time sat behind computers coding away, we do that a lot, but we also take time out to have some fun. The Emerging Technology Services group in Hursley is full of budding rocket scientists, so when it came time to do a team building event, rocketeering seemed a good fit.

The group busily spent the previous week in their workshops, sheds or at the dining room tables constructing rockets. The rules were simple. They had to be self propelled and the only fuels allowed were baking soda, vinegar, air and water. Most people went for air and water rockets, but I went for a vinegar and baking soda powered device. The buzz created in the corridors was pretty impressive, even before we had arrived at launch day.

my rocket

Thursday arrived and finally it was time to put our rocket science to the test. After a few beers and a barbecue there was a safety briefing and then we took turns to launch from a local pub (which has a very big field). Andy and Chris were the most successful rocket builders and had clearly spent a lot of time in research and development phases. Andy even managed to clear the field completely.

chris\' rocket

It definitely worked as a team building event. We had a good time, nobody got injured, I nearly became IBM’s first person in orbit, but apart from that it did help the team get closer together.

– Darren Shaw (Emerging Technology Services, IBM Hursley)

Hursley House

Hursley House

Darren’s lovely photo of Hursley House shows where we work. The view from the lawn really is impressive. Can’t see anyone playing frisbee in this shot, but I guess it was a bit late in the day for that.

I’ve never actually worked in the House itself; there are several more modern buildings behind it, and I’m currently in D-Block. It is very good to show off to visitors though, and an excellent location to host meetings.

Errr… Is this thing on?

OK, so I’m part of a group of techie/creative people who work at IBM’s Hursley Park Lab in the UK. We have regular technical community meetings, well more like a cup of tea and a chat really, about all kinds of cool stuff. One of the things we talked about recently is that although there are lots of cool people and projects going on in Hursley, we never really let anyone know about them. So, we decided to try and record some of the stuff that goes on here in an unofficial blog.

The plan is to give a bit of a UK flavour to it all, but talk about the technology coming out of the lab, things people are playing with, but also some of the fun side. Hursley’s a very unusual place, compared to most technology sites, so we want to get that across. Anyway, hopefully lots of different people who work in and around Hursley will contribute.

– Darren Shaw (Emerging Technology Services, IBM Hursley)