Today I was in Paris.

I travelled on Eurostar – leaving from London Waterloo to Paris Gare du Nord.

I arrived – and there were no taxis available – and a queue of several hundred people waiting. I resorted to diving into the Metro to travel across to the Novell office in the west of the city – near La Defense.

Turned out there was a strike on the RER – and some RER commuter trains were not running through Paris.

One benefit of taking the Metro is to ogle the timeless 1950’s design of some of the metro stations; Franklin D Roosevelt is one of my favourites – orange, silver and harsh lines; with delightful, gallic station names.

A good set of meetings with customers and partners – this is the first time back in Paris for a few years.

At the end of the day out to Paris Airport Charles de Gaulle – again major delays because ofthe SNCF strike – I have never seen people so crammed into a train.

London Taxis

Getting a taxi can be hit and miss anywhere across the globe. Too many times I have been let down by missing cars, breakdowns, rude and sometimes downright dangerous driving.

I needed to get a cab this morning at the ungodly hour of 0430. That’s way too early for me.

I booked a cab through the recommended services of Addison Lee – a London cab firm. They have great customer service. While on the phone booking the pickup I was told exactly how much the fare would be – no surprises at set down. That was my first pleasant surprise.

15 minutes before pickup I received an SMS to my phone saying that the driver was on his way; a description and license plate of the vehicle and the cell phone number for the driver. I got a second SMS minutes later saying that the driver was waiting outside to collect me. He wasn’t – just a few houses along; I called him and got picked up.

All cabs seem to be fitted with smart GPS and directions; much like the (much lamented) Hertz Neverlost. Part of me thinks this is a great idea (no more roundabout journeys), the other part laments the loss of ‘The Knowledge’ that is still required for all black cab drivers. I can see times when human knowledge of side routes and less busy roads beats the GPS hands down.

All in all I was really impressed by the service from Addison Lee – if you are in London and need to pre-book – try them out.

Wireless routers – it’s all about positioning

I wrote yesterday about the terrible bandwidth problems I’m having in London – tonight my wireless signal in the house was dreadful. I’m used to the attenuating effect of Victorian masonry (we lived in an old house when we were in England) – but surely it was never this bad. It was almost like having a century old Faraday cage built into the house.

I thought about this some – and realised that things had only changed in the last day; no it’s not my laptop; no there’s no new software.. what could it be?

Ah – the wireless router has been place ‘out of sight’ behind a steel filing cabinet.. Hmm.

I repositioned it – and full signal restored 🙂

Bandwidth – it’s all relative!

I just arrived in London at the start of a week of customer visits. I am staying with Granias family for a day or so (saves on expenses – and it’s also really good to see them!)

Grandpa has wireless internet – and it’s good and fast – it’s just not fast enough.

Latency is not the problem – just bandwidth – 1MB is just not a lot after being used to speeds of 7MB at home.

I guess this just goes to prove that we’re all disatisfied when it comes to speed.

Product Management naming

My team solved the ‘what are we called’ dilemma.

Identity Products Business Team” – that encompasses the variety of skills and strengths within the team.

Product Management roles

For the last few months I’ve been focussed on a slightly different role – Outbound Product Management for Novell ZENworks and now for the entire Identity and Access Management product lines.

One challenge is defining and naming the team roles.

There are many nomeclatures in use for defining inbound and outbound roles – Product Management, Product Marketing, Program Management, Pre-sales support – lots of names and roles.

There is an interesting article on Marketing Professionals here – lots of detail on some of the roles. It’s a little inflexible and really focused on the smaller development organisation. Pragmatic Marketing have always been active in selling training on defining these roles and mentoring people through the process; they have a good article here and a nice visual of the process:

PM triad

My own view is that in a larger, more mature organisation – such as Novell – there is a place for another role; the outbound product manager. This role encompasses:

  • evangelist
  • subject matter expert
  • knowledge transfer
  • competitive expert
  • conduit of requirements to engineering and inbound product management
  • etc

Befuddling Tivo

Everytime family come and visit they befuddle the Tivo.

What do I mean?

I mean that two weeks of [insert favoured family viewing] really confuses our preferences. Instead of Pingu, Thomas, foreign language films and BBC crime dramas – we end up with US cop shows, WWII documentaries, romantic comedies and the weather channel.

Snow, I15, Gin and Cranberry

First real winter storm of the year.

I was working in Provo at strategy meetings until late; I didn’t leave the office until 6pm.

I-15 was a nightmare. My usual thirty minute commute took almost two hours. Several inches of freezing snow on the freeway and the usual bad Utah driving.

Got home, cleared some snow and settled in. No tonic; so had to resort to gin and cranberry juice. Quite palatable actually.

ZENworks and UK National Health Service

Talk about time to value:

Novell’s desktop software distribution products have been licensed enterprise wide in this deal, enabling the move to a pervasive managed desktop environment with a lower total cost of ownership throughout the NHS. Novell will create ‘appliance-like’ solutions using their ZenWorks technology that can be deployed across an NHS organisation in as little as two days.

The full news release is here:

Mail, spam and viruses


I keep tweaking and tightening my anti-spam rules for my mail server – but the amount of inbound spam is getting crazy. I’m catching about 95% of bad mail – and getting all viruses – but I’m looking at switching to a dedicated inbound mail filter.

I’m probably going to run SpamAssassin and ClamAV running on SLES9.