Monday, 17 December 2012

Where are our priorities?

It is all too easy to seize the opportunity in a second, only to spend a lifetime regretting our decision!

Many times I've been advised to seize the opportunity and then decide how you're going to achieve it; the 'Say Yes' approach.  When I worked in the Pharmaceutical Industry I was often pressed to get it done now and sort out any problems later.

The biggest problem, as any of us who have witnessed the 'fall-out' from a wrong decision, is how much extra time and effort must be spent on rectifying the situation after it has happened.  In martial arts training we always used to say that whilst a technique takes 1000 times to perfect (or at least reach a high standard) it takes 1000 times more to correct a poor technique. In other words, it is better to learn or do it properly first time around.

Whilst we make decisions on the move every day and undoubtedly will make mistakes, isn't it better to apply some given thought before the event to make life easier for ourselves and others?

Stepping-out and taking risks does not mean switch off your brain.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, 26 November 2010

Incompatibility Between Avast! Free Antivirus & Window XP SP3?

I recently tried a couple of free antivirus software solutions having paid for one for several years which has now got too clever (you can't get just the antivirus; it has to scan for malware, be a firewall, wash your underwear, the usual story) and clashes with most other protective software on my PC.

I found AVG free version to be good, but it's huge, takes up loads of space and tries to make itself the centre of your universe ... "Do you want to use AVG as your default search engine' etc.  It's also pretty slow loading and within one reboot repeatedly displays a banner telling me that mscvr80.dll can no longer be found so I did a bit of research on St Google and Avast! free version came up highly recommended.  It seems to be just an antivirus and does what it says on the can; well mostly.  After a couple of scans I noticed that my desktop was erratic loading from reboot or when the PC was first switched on: sometimes it loaded but most times it showed me desktop icons but no taskbar, quick launch bar or start icon, and in that state it remained locked until a reboot, when sometimes it sorted itself out ... until today.

Today I spent 7 hours searching for every solution I could that may account for the desktop not loading properly.  My PC almost lived in safe mode and I tried system restore (several times), various C; prompt command (from web articles), antivirus and antimalware scans, but no result.

In desperation, I tried what I should probably have done first, I uninstalled Avast! free antivirus, et voila, everything worked fine.

This incompatibility with Windows XP, especially SP3 is rarely mentioned but by chance I noticed that a couple of people had reported similar problems with their desktop not loading after installing Avast! antivirus. At least one article mentioned that it was the Avast! software itself that had become corrupted.

I don't know or understand the reasons, but I do know that if you're having problems with your desktop loading in Windows XP and have Avast! antivirus installed, it may be worth trying to uninstall the antivirus software first as you could save yourself 7 hours of frustration (and no work!)

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Important Business Reviews

We often think of these as the bottom line, profit-and-loss, growth etc but these are symptoms of underlying causes, and those underlying causes are our relationships, conduct and integrity. 

Let me give an example:

I recently engaged a company to do some Internet advertising for me.  I agreed over the 'phone what was to be done and we agreed that I would receive written confirmation, VAT receipt etc through the post within the next 3 days or so.  A week later nothing had arrived: I rang the company.  We agreed to leave it another couple of days.  Nothing.  Since that time (another week) I have written 3 e-mails and spoken to people twice, receiving promises of a return call from their Accounts Team, but still nothing.

If this typifies their behaviour with other customers, the chances are that their bottom line will not be too healthy before very long: in fact I would anticipate them going out of business. 

But if the problem is considered to be the bottom line, it doesn't tell the story. 

The story (and the remedies to the problem) lie in their relationships, their integrity and customer focus (or in this case the severe lack of it).  They say but do not do!  Perhaps they're so focussed on getting new clients that their existing ones fall off the list.

This is too common today in business, which is why when new companies arise who really appreciate their clients and customers and treat them especially well, they succeed, and why many of our established names who rely on past reputation are disappearing from the market place.

And Academia, which strives ever more to be a business, is not free from this plague ... 

Recently, an external expert whom a University was relying on for input to a new course, visited the UK from Canada and came to a meeting at the University. One academic pretty much opened the conversation with, "Well, no-one asked you to come!"

We can talk about success as much as we like, but true success (personal fulfilment, financial and otherwise) will only come when we manage to get our business focus on relationships in order.

Financial measures of success are merely the symptoms of the true underlying reason for that success (or failure).

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Integrity & Ethics

How we deal with people is crucial to our success (and theirs) in all areas of life.

Life without integrity is like a lighthouse without a light: everything's fine until darkness falls or the storms break.

Labels: , ,

Simple Solution: IE8 Information Bar Not Working

I recently logged on to the Windows Update site, only to receive the message,

Install the ActiveX control required to view the website
The website will not display correctly on your computer without this control. To install it:

1. Right-click the Internet Explorer Information Bar. It's located just below the address bar.
2. In the right-click menu, click Install ActiveX Control.
3. In the Security Warning dialog box, click Install.

Unfortunately, there was no 'Internet Explorer Information Bar' showing below my address bar in IE8.

However, there was no information bar just beneath the navigation bar on my IE8!

This was strange, as I had only visited the site a couple of days previously and everything worked fine. I use Windows XP Pro as my operating system and I run ZoneAlarm Pro firewall and BitDefender 2008 antivirus software.

I searched Google for answers and as usual there were lots of in depth analyses and a load more questions back ... but no answers.

So, I put together a few bits I'd gleaned from the dicussions (I am not a computer expert; quite the opposite), did a bit of digging and came up with a solution that worked for me.

So here it is:

I remembered that I had been frustrated by how slow IE8 was running so I had been into the Tools > Manage Add-Ons menu and switched off accelearators etc. However, one Add-On I'd also switched off (disabled) which was the cause of my problems was the MUWebControl Class. So I switched it back on again (enabled it) by right clicking on the word 'Disabled' and then choosing 'Enable' from the dropdown box ... and voilá, everything worked fine.

I understand that this may not work for you but if it does, you will be saved a lot of time and friustration.

Trust me; I've been there!

Hope this helps!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Lessons from Buena Vista Orchestra

Last night was one of the most amazing experiences I've enjoyed for a very long time. Eight months after buying the tickets, I witnessed the phenomenon that is the Buena Vista Orchestra (also known as Orquestra Buena Vista & Buena Vista Social Club).

Many of the original stars from that special night in Carnegie Hall in 1998 have since passed on, but what remains is still a testament to the skill, passion and fun of Cuban musicians, many of whom have been formative in the creation of what we now know as Latin music.

Reflecting on why they were so special, I came up with several things that set them apart from other concerts and bands I have seen (and enjoyed):

  1. A sense of history - Many of these people have helped to create the music synonymous with Cuba, the platform on which today's musicians build. Age is no issue; it's a strength and a valuable commodity. Experience is something we often overlook as we clamber to be new and different; often too insecure to learn from those who've gone before.

  2. A sense of value and heritage - These people are firmly connected to their music and cultural roots. It's not a problem; it's a bonus. They are not afraid of their culture, nor to share that culture and history with their audience, most of whom have little or no connection to it (apart from music). It's not about preaching; it's about showing and sharing; inviting others on board ... and judging by the response of the 2500 people at the concert, they were successful.

  3. They connected with their audience - Many of us could learn a great deal from the members of Buena Vista Orchestra. They brought something that can be difficult to connect with if you're not a part of that culture ... and enabled us to connect with it. Even musicians often fail to connect with the complex rhythms, how the pieces fit together, how the melodies interweave. Others can't handle the fluidity and movement in the music, music that doesn't sit comfortably with a click track yet is devilishly tight. Yet, this wasn't a problem for the audience as these masters of their art communicated with people's hearts and souls, calling them on board to experience something new, even if they didn't understand it. They felt it, were drawn in by it and stoked the fire for more ... which they got!

  4. They promoted each other - The musicians were clearly 'old school' in their playing, but that is what made it so great. There were no stars on stage; they were all stars and they created a platform for their colleagues to shine. Their playing was an expression of themselves but was for each other and the audience, not self-indulgent and about themselves ... a lesson many of us could learn.

  5. They exuded joy - Music wasn't just something technical to be played; it wasn't just an exercise in playing the correct notes; being safe or cerebral. The music they played was part of them; it was their soul; their passion; something to express who they are; from their hearts. It was something to enjoy and that enjoyment spurred each other on and fired the audience. Their enthusiasm and passion was infectious, drawing others in.

  6. They were themselves - As we passed the stage door after the gig (and there was no-one else around ... how rare is that?) the band emerged and were no different to how they were on stage; smiling, laughing and very willing to give time for a brief chat and sign tickets.

It took me a long time to fall asleep last night. I was full of the gig and my mind raced over and over through the tunes and why I'd enjoyed the evening so much.

Now all I need to do is apply some of what I've learnt and hopefully those I meet will benefit.

Thank you Orquestra Buena Vista. Long may you continue to inspire those who have the privilege and pleasure of witnessing your concerts (and your music).

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Friday, 9 October 2009

Interested in Becoming a STEM Ambassador?

The STEMNET web site defines a STEM (Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics)Ambassador as

'An everyday person from a real working background who volunteers their time for free to act as an inspiring role model to young people'.

STEM Ambassadors help to stimulate the minds and imaginations of young people. They provide a refreshing change to regular lessons and activities for students and staff, bringing a fresh perspective to STEM subjects and careers.

Each Ambassador is registered, trained and CRB checked.

The STEM Ambassadors programme is STEMNET’s flagship programme, relying on over 18,000 volunteers who offer their time and support free of charge to promote STEM subjects to young learners. It is an invaluable and free resource for teachers, helping them deliver the STEM curriculum in fresh and innovative ways.

The programme aspires to make a real difference to the delivery of STEM subjects to young people. Key objectives include making every school in the UK aware of the programme and providing over 27,000 STEM Ambassadors nationwide by 2011.

The STEM Ambassador programme is co-ordinated by STEMNET via 52 organisations across the country to fulfil a brokerage role to schools through STEMPOINT contracts. Through strong links with business organisations the brokerage service aims to ensure that all schools and colleges can offer their students programmes which support the curriculum and increase the quality and quantity of students moving into further STEM education, training and development.

STEMNET aim to be recognised as the leader in enabling all young people to achieve their potential in STEM by:

  • Enabling all young people, regardless of background, are encouraged to understand the excitement and importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in their lives, and the career opportunities to which the STEM subjects can lead

  • Helping all schools and colleges across the UK understand the range of STEM Enhancement & Enrichment opportunities available to them and the benefits these can bring to everyone involved

  • Encouraging business, organisations and individuals wanting to support young people in STEM to target their efforts and resources in a way that will deliver the best results for them and young people.

I recently signed-up as a STEM Ambassador. If you're a teacher and the above interests you then you can find more about my particular input to the STEM programme here.

If you have a passion to help schools and students in their STEM activities then why not contact your local STEM provider for more details. Full details on the STEMNET web site.

Labels: , , , ,