Tag Archives: London

CIO-DNA part 2 – joining the dots

A couple of other points and thoughts from the BCS CIO-DNA event a few weeks back – these ones on the theme of better aligning with the business.

Business alignment

  • Technology’s role is about joining people up in the business and delivering according to business priorities.  We have to let the business drive these – no longer default to saying “No” but instead be innovative and look at how we can say “Yes”.  Technology is there to help, not stop.
  • Define what success would be.  Work with your senior peers and be a key person who is involved in their decisions.  Build your credibility.
  • Embrace social media (yes, this might strike fear in many people) and make it work.  Yes there is the whole control side that needs to be dealt with but don’t say no!  The key is getting people to understand the value of something (e.g. losing data) and being accountable for it.
  • Demonstrate the value that technology can bring by stitching all the component parts together.  And also demonstrate the value-add of technology by mitigating the risk of the business going out and doing their own thing – as we’re seeing more and more now.  I.e. working with technology providers or using the likes of Dropbox on our own for storing company documents, without any involvement from technology.
  • Run know-how events – and help build bridges with the business.  Run these as stalls, solution days or surgeries.  And it doesn’t just mean having a new page on your corporate intranet.  Get out there and engage with your customers.  Run them as executive sponsored events.  And merchandise them to death – give things away.  These can work really well – it’s technology’s opportunity to hear first hand what works and what doesn’t and to show off new tools, services, devices etc.
  • Train all your team on what the vision for technology is – get everyone on-board with the classic 30 second elevator pitch.  Your CEO should be able to ask anyone in technology what the vision is!
  • Engage actively with communications people.  There is always a hook – the challenge is finding it.  And keep listening!
  • Work with multi-functional teams on projects and build respect across the different groups in the business.  A great idea I’ve seen work successfully in a number of different businesses is working with your graduate recruitment programme and having these new starters rotate around the business.
  • Don’t be afraid of failure.  Too often there isn’t enough failure.  Encourage wildcard and lateral thinking.  And even what you might think of as more pure academic research.  We need more horizon planning to innovate!
  • Our role as CIOs and CTOs is a bridging role between technology and the commercial side of the business.

BBC Micro

Don’t forget, in theory technology can be taught – it’s attitude and behaviour that is key.  Technology teams need to be more customer facing and engaging!

I really like this quote on the role of technology…

“The role of IT then, is to act as a business analyst who can translate business priorities into technology and figure out how to get the most out of technology to serve the business better.”

CIO-DNA part 1 – an event hosted by BCS

British Computer Society

I attended the CIO-DNA event earlier this week, hosted by the BCS Elite Group, the BCS London South Group and the IOD.  It was a 1/2 day session with technology leaders from different organisations speaking and with some very thought provoking discussions around what makes an effective CIO and CTO, and some of the speakers’ personal journeys to becoming technology leaders.

I’ve summarised some of the key takeaway notes – the fundamental drivers behind what makes a good CIO – from the session below .  Let me know what you think – do you agree?

DNA

  • The CIO and CTO roles are now primarily about innovation.  The focus is no longer about keeping the lights on.
  • As technology leaders we need to advocate the creation of an environment in which the team feels empowered to create sparks of innovation.
  • You need to be fundamentally close to the business and to the customers.  They need to help drive the priorities for technology.
  • A great quote from one of the speakers – “The death of the mouse is only weeks away” – in reference to how important touch is becoming and will be.  Interesting point.  Yes touch is critical but I think there’s a longer transition for a lot of core technology products and platforms.
  • Related to touch, devices that are touch enabled remove barriers to entry for C-level executives and help get wider buy-in to new technology services.
  • Communication and visualisation are key for the CIO to raise their profile.  And as part of this we need to be recognised as equal contributors to business transformation.  The CIO needs to be the agent of business transformation.
  • See technology as an enabler to open up new markets and do things the business wasn’t doing before.
  • The key areas where there are new opportunities, are – smart machines, capturing the real world, mobile computing, touch and cloud.  Where cloud can be seen as more about provision and delivery.
  • Knowledge management will continue to be a challenge for technology leaders, with retiring staff taking know-how with them.  This isn’t a new problem though and can’t be changed.  Focus instead on the new guys coming in and give them an environment that they can be most effective in – and that doesn’t just mean yes to BYOD.  New recruits – and the work force of the future – now have very different expectations for IT and technology.
  • Develop techniques for managing different streams of inputs and see where they match and where they conflict.  Where they conflict, dig deeper – these places show the most interest.
  • Move away from being a pure technologist and focus on the business transformation agenda.  And get proportionately more focus on the profit side of the business – technology is no longer just about costs.
  • Technology does not have users any more – something I’ve been saying for a good number of years.  We need to shift our way of thinking to see them as our customers – whether external or internal ones.  We as technology are providing our customers with a service!
  • Understand what your customers want from the services and systems, and move then to create and deliver that!
  • Create a clear future workspace vision – that allows the business and teams to be more flexible, work smarter and to work faster.  And get the inputs from the business for this – don’t drive with technology.
  • Technology is about change management with the business, and utilising technology to do that.
  • Test the vision with the business – and use visualisation tools (e.g. storyboards and animations).  See a great example of this by Gavin Walker at NATS below – this part of the session was from Gavin….

 

  • Position technology as the enabler – to help your customers work better and more efficiently.  Get the decisions pushed into the business – to give them greater accountability.
  • Don’t see IT as a cost centre – the business own the costs and budget.  Technology spends the budget on behalf of the business, with the business making the choices.
  • Focus on change management, not technology.
  • Focus on information, not systems.

These last 2 very nicely summarise where the focus needs to be for technology.  A very pleasant afternoon at the BCS with a good theme and great sessions and as always great networking.

More thoughts soon!

Technology leaders

CIO Connect 2013 conference – thoughts, ideas and observations

I was invited recently to attend the CIO Connect 2013 Conference in London, billed as the IT leadership conference in 2013 and this year with a theme on the gaming changing CIO. It was a great 2 days spent listening to global technology and business leaders’ key note sessions, attending workshops and networking with IT leaders from around the world.

CIO Connect

Most definitely a conference that should be in your diary if you’re a technology leader and more importantly if you share an interest in the major business changes and disruptions, that are happening now and how technology can play the best role in them – and add the value to your business it should.

CIO Connect 2013

They had none other than Brian Cox presenting last year – sadly I couldn’t go – and the final presentation this year on day one was by Dr. Steve Peters, author of the Chimp Paradox (billed as a mind management programme to help you achieve success and almost gospel for the Team GB Cycling team and many other leading sports teams and players). Day 2 was rounded off with a session from Fraser Doherty who founded Super Jam.

Super Jam logo

I always find it useful to capture comments, thoughts, notes, observations and light bulb moments from conferences like this and play them back after the event. A blog gives you the ideal forum to do this with and to share them with a wider audience. Any comments and questions are very welcome!

The thoughts and more…

  • Kevin Segall was presenting on the idea of keeping things simple and reflecting on his time at Apple and working with Steve Jobs. I had the privilege of seeing Kevin a few years ago and he’s a great speaker and very entertaining. The simpler things are the better and simplicity never fails. People love simplicity. Even in the organisation structures we see in business these days, the simpler they are the better and more powerful. A great example of Apple and how Steve Jobs was the ultimate decision maker and could make or break ideas. It might sound harsh but at Apple it works.
  • The “I” in CIO is no longer just about information.  It’s now far broader and covers innovation, integration, intelligence, implementation and imagination.
  • CIOs need to be compelling in improving the digital customer experience.
  • As CIOs we need to work with our peers to define the business decision making criteria. Help build and maintain a “make $ and save $” register to record technology successes.
  • The concept of the PR of IT as people, processes and best practices and CIOs working to ensure these are all aligned.
  • We must see how the overall customer experience works for the business and how this fits with technology. How do we serve the customers (better)?
  • Big themes in 2013 for the CIO are (and continue to be) the cloud (and moving services to the cloud), BYOD (good old bring your own device into the business), big data and security (which ties in to all the above).
  • View IT as a benefit centre, not a cost centre. And as a benefit centre IT is then a value contributor to the business. This represents a big shift for many businesses where IT can still be viewed as a back office service provider for the business. But this is changing and there was a general consensus on how this change is accelerating now.
  • With IT as a benefit centre, prioritise what will get these benefits as early as possible.
  • Focus on people, not on technology and be compassionate.
  • CIOs and their (technology) teams will be the engine rooms for major business changes, over the next 3-5 years.
  • The new norm for how technology teams need to be focused is as 50% strategic, 30% tactical and 20% operational. This is a big shift from now where only 20% is strategic and the vast majority of time and energy is spent maintaining the status quo and keeping the lights on (i.e. BAU). This is all about looking at the commoditisation of IT and moving the BAU parts to be run as lower cost (well) managed services.
  • For business programmes and projects, move to working with the key stakeholder at the business owner, not just the project sponsor. And with the programmes being business investments, not IT projects.
  • The CIO needs to be viewed a business leader. And as CIOs we have a unique understanding of the complexity of the business processes.
  • In many companies there is a vacant seat on the board for the “Chief Customer Officer”.  This is someone who acts as a bridge between the CMO, the COO and the CIO divide, and most importantly this person owns the overall end-to-end customer experience.
  • We need to test the public view of stuff (services that we provide) and to get out and be a consumer of our services. Do they work like they should? And like we expect?
  • The “Chief Customer Office” is the new board member who represents the customer experience in the market.
  • Stop talking about something called digital, as something different. It’s all one now. Platforms, channels and media. We need a more holistic approach – something I’ve blogged about before.
  • We are now in an exponentially changing world, no longer a place where business is linear. Technology is a critical game changer in this new world.
  • And finally from Dr. Steve Peters, the two key areas to focus on for performance and success, are emotional skills and impulse control, and everything is about probability.

 

Great quotes from Olympic athletes

The ultimate quotes – inspirational, motivational and more – from Olympic athletes…

  1. “Falling in life is inevitable, staying down is optional” ~ Carrie Johnson
  2. “Never put an age limit on your dreams” ~ Dara Torres
  3. “When anyone tells me I can’t do anything, I’m just not listening anymore” ~ Florence Griffith Joyner
  4. “The only way to overcome is to hang in” ~ Dan O’Brien
  5. “If you want to be the best, you have to do things that other people aren’t willing to do” ~ Michael Phelps
  6. “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” ~ Missy Franklin
  7. “Nothing can substitute for just plain hard work” ~ Andre Agassi
  8. “Everything that I’ve ever been able to accomplish in skating and in life has come out of adversity and perseverance” ~ Scott Hamilton
  9. “The potential for greatness lives within each of us” ~ Wilma Rudolph
  10. “Have fun, because that’s what life is all about” ~ Ryan Lochte

And a link to another blog (“parents desk”) with some more great quotes.

Truly inspirational.  The motto for the London 2012 Olympics was “Inspire a generation” – I think they’ve gone way beyond this and inspired generations.

London does it best.  I can’t wait for the Paralympics and we’ve got tickets.  Super humans and even more inspiration.

Why testing is important…

Another Olympic post – this time on the genius (not) that is the London 2012 Olympic ticketing system.  This will be a vent of sorts, as I’ve spent too much time messing about trying to buy tickets as have millions of others.

The games themselves have been nothing short of amazing and what all the athletes have accomplished is incredible, but sport is also about people watching it.  And for an event of this scale you need a good mechanism in place to get people to see the sports they want to see.

Before we get started on the main theme of the post, Royal Mail have done it again.  We managed to get tickets for the Paralympics that start in a couple of weeks time.  An e-mail from LOCOG confirming we’d got them arrived (and we’d paid £6 for super delivery rather than picking them up at the event).  But no details on when they’d arrive, even roughly – so a black hole and left hoping they would arrive in time.  Then an e-mail from Royal Mail telling me the tickets were ready to be delivered…

Followed by another to tell me the tickets would be with me the next day.  And then one to confirm they’d been received by me, literally within seconds of me electronically signing for them with the local postie.  Now that is real service and great to see the Royal Mail – that great British institution – as a shining beacon in the whole Olympic ticketing fiasco.

The actual ticketing system went live around April 2011 – so over 16 months ago – and in that time it hasn’t changed one bit (as in problems fixed, updates done etc).  That’s a year with no new development.  How can that be right?  Was it perfect when first released?  Had all the testing that was done shown it to be perfect?  No and that’s one big no.

Rather than go into all the issues myself there is a great post on BuzzFeed Sports by Alex Rees that very nicely gives you all the juicy details – see below (it’s worth a read)…

It is very apparent from this that virtually no real testing on how the site or service works can possibly have been done.  User acceptance testing?  No – why do we need to do that, it’ll work.  Load testing?  Will many people be wanting to use the site at the same time?  Surely not.  Performance testing?  It’s just a web site.  Problems identified by the public (the users or customers), should we fix them within 16 months?  No, what’s fixing all about?

Any of these are part of computing for beginners 101, and to get onto building a web-site 101 you have to have got the first certificate already.

So why has this happened?  Good old outsourcing.  LOCOG clearly aren’t a software house and don’t build ticketing or e-commerce sites.  So they put together an RFI and get it out with all the big boys in the market place, including ticketmaster (who won it and built the site).  And it will have come down to money – ticketmaster will have bid and bid at a price they could win at and LOCOG will have picked the cheapest so they keep costs down.  Now I may be making some assumptions here, but I’ll bet they’re right!

The site will have been designed to some brief specs (or even an Agile type user story) – we need to sell tickets for the Olympic events for the public – it couldn’t be simpler.  They will have been paid to build it and maybe run it for a little bit but future development, fixes, upgrades etc?  Never – why would we need them, it’s only the Olympics and it’s only on for a short known period.  It’s not an Amazon type service that will keep running.

That’s the key here.  This has never been built to improve or do the job well, it’s been built to just (almost) do the job and no-one’s re-visited it (the design) since and has no intention to.

Testing before we go-live?  Why would we possibly need to do that?  Testing with our actual end users and listening to what they say?  Surely not, you only get…

  • Empty seats
  • Bad press
  • Frustrated British public

But like I said at the start it has been an absolutely awesome Olympic games, the best I’ve seen – and we did get some tickets (for the rowing) and saw some of the free events (road cycling) and today we’re off to see the men’s marathon in London.  And my favourite bits –  the men’s 100m, 200m, 4x100m and the men’s 10,000m and 5,000m.  Mo Farah – a local Teddington man who went to St. Mary’s University in Twickenham (where we do our karate now) and a Bushy Park Parkrun runner – is my hero of the games!  What an athlete.

The little Nobles doing the Mobot after his 5,000m win last night and the man himself with Mr. Bolt…

Don’t charge for digital when printed is free…

You’ll remember from my recent posts (“It’s official – the 6 year old’s verdict is that digital magazines are better!“) that I’m now a convert to digital newspapers, when done well – like the good old London Metro (which is free for both the printed paper and the digital iPad version).  So this week, starting the London commute again and picking up the free London Evening Standard each night on the way home (at the London tube stations), I was excited to read about their new iPad version.

All looks good, so where do I get it and how?  But then reading the smaller print, what’s this, you can get a free trial?  And then what?  Oh then it’s £4.99 per month.  But the printed one, the one everyone picks up at the tube and train stations is still free – yes with ads (lots) but it’s free.  The iPad is pretty much the same version, with ads, but I have to pay for it?  That’s all wrong!  Ok, the printed one used to be paid for but it’s not now, and hasn’t been for some time.

I’m now one customer the Evening Standard won’t get with their new digital version.  With this new planned business model, I’m not even going to go for the trial.  Why should I?  It’s too easy for me to get the printed one every evening and hey I could get a few if I wanted, and all for free.

Digital is not about a new way of making money from subscribers.  It’s about a different, and yes new, channel for how we as the customer want to be able to access the same content.  That’s it.  Why should it cost me more to consume?  It cost you more to build it?  Ok, but that’s all about investment for the future – digital is the way it’s going so get on-board quick and get some earlier adopters with you to iron out problems etc, then maybe look at new pricing.  Like a monthly charge for premium content, not the normal free content.  But not a short term return, that won’t work.

Some reviews of the Evening Standard iPad app from the Apple Appstore…

… it’s not just me!

The Metro are still – by a long way – the only newspaper publisher (in the UK at least) who are doing this well.  Their printed and digital versions are free, and their digital version offers more than the printed version, and hey yes I may now be willing to pay extra for the digital one because it offers more.  I said may – still not 100% convinced.

The British 10k race report – or how not to organise a race

From what first looked like a great race, past all the great sites in this great city – London – the reality was a little different!

An early start yesterday and a train journey up to London with the Noble gang.  As normal for any London races on Sundays, the trains and tubes were full of runners, which is always a nice sight!  And a painless journey up to London.

We arrived in plenty of time so managed a little walk around to see some sites – flags up all down Regent St. ready for the Olympics and our own Noble Bolt (me).

Lots of people around Picadilly Circus all heading to the race, so we wandered along in the general direction that everyone was going.  The heavens opened briefly – as forecast – but it didn’t last long and didn’t seem to worry anyone.  It’s only a little rain!

Then a very convoluted route to walk towards the start, over a mile away and lots and lots of people.  Nic and the kids left me in the queue and headed back – for a coffee and to find a good point to cheer me on (which they did but didn’t get to see me as it took me a lot longer than planned to get there and by that time they’d headed back to where we were going to meet after – see below).

I must have been 2/3 of the way back in the pack and the start was a long long way away with a huge crowd of runners queuing up.  The photo below shows what it was like…

An amazing monument – the Bomber Command Memorial – and great to see to it.  The start for the race is actually opposite on the other side of the road, so you have to loop round very slowly.

Once across the road you can start running and then cross the start already going.  Then you realise that it’s not going to be fast.  Despite entering your predicated finish times on the entry forms, it served no purpose and everyone starts wherever they want with no time pens.  Surely this is a school boy error – every other race I’ve done sets you up in order of predicted finish times so you can at least give it your best shot and go for a PB.  But not here.  Even those crossing the start line only a minute after the gun went off, complained of the same problem.  It took me about 25 minutes to cross the start line after the official start.

The whole race is then weaving in and out of people, a lot walking, only 1km in.  What’s that all about?  Not just a few, but a lot.

Still a nice route, though you don’t notice much as you’re watching out so you don’t trip over other runners.  A bit more rain on the route just crossing Westminster Bridge but the finish wasn’t too far away so time to pick up the speed – if I can…

Managed a nice last 1/4 mile finish really picking up the speed but didn’t feel I’d put everything in when I crossed the line.  Frustrating way to finish as I’d high hopes to get a PB for the distance.  But the sheer volume of runners at all speeds, meant this was never going to happen.

My official finish time was 46 minutes 34 seconds.  So 2 minutes over my recent PB.  My Garmin time was 43 minutes 39 seconds.  How that can be 3 minutes different I’ve no idea.  The Garmin also said I’d still got 0.17 miles to run.  That I can understand as it loses the signal in the tunnels (x3) but the time should still be correct.  So around 45-46 minutes I think.  Which given the much slower pace is ok.  Placing was 1195 out of 25,000 ish – maybe even near 30,000 – so not bad…

A couple of other photos from the race…

A few shots of the elite guys – 29 minutes to finish.  Awesome stuff…

 

And me after meeting my support crew, at Trafalgar Square, complete with my finishers medal…

Now the bad bits and looking at race reviews and reports from previous years, this happens every year.  That’s a bit shocking and how they’ve not listened and sorted these problems out is anyone’s guess.  Sponsored by a big name like Nike, surely it’s in their interest to get it right?  Just do it?  No?

To kick things off some reviews – from Runners World readers – of the 2010 and 2011 races…

Hmm, I didn’t find these before, but they’ve got it spot it.  And there’s more…

  • Charging 50p for toilets along the route is a joke.  They need to be free.  See how the London Marathon or Royal Parks 1/2 do it.  The £50 or £32 race fee should fund hiring toilets.  You don’t need many for 10k.
  • Medals not given as you finish but a mile later when collecting your bags is daft.  With my family there to support me, I didn’t have bags to collect but had to walk to where the bags were to collect the medal.  When you finish, you’re in a good mood, you should get a “Well done” and a medal around your neck.  Not thrown in a bag by some steward 20 minutes later who’s grumpy.
  • The £50 gold place I paid was for 2 t-shirts which I got but it seems plenty of others didn’t and there was other issues with t-shirts.  Not a big problem for me, for me the £50 was to race which I thought was ok.  But if you’re promising certain goodies as well then you need to stick to it.
  • Better signage from about 7km.  Mentioned by others as well.  Not brilliant and difficult to know how much further to go (unless you’ve got a watch / GPS tracker).  And there’s only 10 markers needed, it’s not asking for much.
  • Start pens by predicted finish times or make it clear it’s a fun run and people shouldn’t be going for PBs.  Again everyone else does this and it’s not new!  Or even different starting locations.
  • A more direct walk to the start – getting everyone to walk over a mile isn’t the way to do it.
  • This may just be me, but if you’re going to have Her Majesty’s Life Guard Band playing 3 verses of the National Anthem, encourage people to sing along at least to the first one.  No-one was singing, apart from me – at least where I was in the queue.
  • Plan for enough medals.  Yes they ran out.  Luckily I got one.  How they can run out is beyond me.  Do they not know how many people were expected to finish?  Kind of equals the number who started plus lets add a few extra, doesn’t it?  To finish and not get a medal sucks big time.

Most of these are basic issues and to say this run has been going a fair few years, it’s a disgrace really that the organisation of it is getting stick like this, year after year!  And it’s not just me – I promise.  Sure I’m quick to highlight when service (yes this is a service) is rubbish but only when it’s that bad it needs to be pointed out.

See Runners World reviews for the race this year…

And on the British 10k Facebook page for this year…

Yes it is the first 10k race I’ve done, I’m more used to 1/2 marathons and full marathons, but should the organisation be any different?  No.  Would I run this one again?  I don’t know.  The route is amazing and I get real goosebumps when running through London past all the great sites but the lack of good organisation is very disappointing.  Another 10k definitely and one in London – maybe the Bupa one has a lot of good reviews and feedback.

British10k only 3 days away – last minute preparation time

Less than 72 hours to go until the race on Sunday!

Training pretty much all done.  Not too worried about the distance, it’s more doing it in a good time and with 25,000 other people running, not being caught up in the pack and my starting pace not what I want.  Want to get sub-45 minutes which I know I can do.  Sub-44 even better and race day adrenaline might get me there.

The race starts at 9:35am and it’s a 2km walk to the start from tube / rail drop off.  Not a problem, just need to leave enough time.  Still trying to figure out where Nic and the little Nobles can go to get best views of the runners, with a hope of seeing me!

2 minutes before the start, the Band of Her Majesty’s Lifeguards, will be playing the National Anthem.  A very cool way to start.

Sounds like it’s going to be a busy busy start.  25,000 runners is huge and all on the streets of this great city – closed off again to traffic.

Day of rest today after a 10k training run yesterday.  Was aiming for sub-45 minutes but got hit by a car – nice – when crossing a drive.  Nothing major, all ok, just pushed back a little bit and think the driver was more shook up than me!  Forgot to stop the watch though so it meant about 45 seconds extra on the time.

So what to do in the last 3 days to make sure we’re all ready for the big day…

  1. One last easy training run tomorrow – 48 hours before.
  2. Sort out train and journey times for Sunday morning – it’s an early start.
  3. Figure out where the Noble fans will go and where to meet them after.
  4. Pasta action for the next few nights – carb loading.
  5. Plenty of water – hydration.
  6. Make sure the trusty Garmin watch is fully charged and ready to go.
  7. Drinks and Jelly beans (Jelly Belly of course) for post-race refreshments.

And – the big one – don’t forget the Vaseline (to stop chaffed legs and the deadly runners nipples).  Forgot this a few times over the last few weeks – stupid mistake – and chaffed legs (top of thighs) are back.  Very sore.  Daily moisturising needed to fix it.  Lots of Vaseline needed for Sunday.  Go for Vaseline – not the expensive creams.  See my last blog post on this – “Runners nipples the conclusion – I’ve cracked the problem“.

Wish me luck!

Love this quote from Mo Farah…

Don’t dream of winning, train for it.

It’s official – the 6 year old’s verdict is that digital magazines are better!

Without any prompting from me, this morning over breakfast, when I was browsing the Metro app on the iPad, little Miss Noble tell us that magazines and newspapers are better on the iPad than the paper ones.  And the Focus magazine from the BBC is right up there as well – we had a quick look at that as well over breakfast.

This is only week 2 or 3 into our digital newspaper experiment but it’s going well and the Metro is without a doubt the clear winner here and leading the way in how newspapers can go digital and do it well.

For my 6 year old daughter to decide in her own mind that the digital versions are better says a lot.  Here’s her thinking as well (she told us why it was better)…

  • It has videos – consumers want more rich media content now
  • It has clever pictures – hi-res photos you can zoom in on and pan about
  • The adverts are funny – with videos and links and buttons you can click

All key points and she’s right.  For us, it’s a much more interactive family newspaper experience now and it’s so easy for me to show everyone else cool photos and stories.  Even 3 year old Mr. Noble needs to see them!

In the Metro today there’s a great story about a cable car in the Swiss Alps where you can sit on the roof for an outside view – see the picture below.  This was a great breakfast table topic as daddy (me) took a trip last night on the newly opened (yesterday) Emirates Air Line cable car across the Thames (London).  And the photos in the app really added to the conversation.  It looks a bit high though (the Swiss Alps one), not sure I’d be jumping to go on it, but maybe – it does look like fun…

Check out the web-site for the Emirates Air Line, it’s a very cool way to cross the Thames – 50m above the river and with some awesome views over London…

And some cool snaps from my first trip across the Thames in a cable car – the perfect evening for it, clear blue skies and the sun just about to set (a bit windy 50m up though).

Another hard run – wrong time of the day

Yes it’s that time of the year – pollen season is here – and the associated hayfever for millions of people.

This time of year running presents new challenges – avoiding grass and parks and generally nice outdoors type areas.  Training plans need adjusting and fine tuning to run in more built-up areas and at different times of the day.  The worst time to run is late morning and early afternoon, when the pollen count is generally at its highest.  So an early morning or evening run sound good.

Why then did I ignore this advice today?  And run on empty again (yes I’ve done this before and know it’s not good)!

An early start today and little breakfast, a busy morning in London (for a very enjoyable Digital Leaders Think Tank roundtable session (more on this in a later post) at the top of 30 St. Mary Axe – otherwise known as The Gherkin – with some spectacular views of London – see below) and hot and muggy weather.  Far from ideal conditions to do a 10k run with a decent time.

But it was on the plan so we did it.  Same route as the last couple of 10k training runs – nice and easy, and not much grass along the way.  Times for my 10k training runs so far vary from 44 1/2 minutes to 47 1/2 minutes – almost a 10% difference.  Today was the higher end – just over 47 1/2 minutes.  Rubbish.  But it should have been expected for all the reasons above.  See my earlier posts for some other thoughts on this.

Only just over one week to go until the British 10k.  2 more training runs planned this week and then 3 next.  Planning to leave 1-2 days between the last training run and the actual race.  With a 9:35am start and in central London, not in the parks, it should be a good time to run.

Just need to remember to eat first…!