1000 weeks and counting

This is a nascent blog post, or notes, from about 2017 that I've decided to share.

1000 weeks. It doesn’t sound much. 7,000 days. 168,000 hours. 10,080,000 minutes or even 604,800,000 seconds.

If we go the other way, 1000 weeks is about 230 months, or just over 19 years. It represents the time from the literal cutting my children’s cord to the metaphorical one. 1000 weeks is my mantra when I’m struggling as a parent: “It’s only 1000 weeks until we have got rid of the kids”.

1000 weeks represents a childhood.

I started saying it when my daughter was born a few years ago. I’m still saying there’s just 1000 weeks.

1000 weeks represents the time for someone to transform from a parasitic mush of their parents DNA, to become a real person. Who can vote. Who can love. Who can lose. Who can be themselves.

What is childhood? I don’t know, but there’s a lot to fit in.

MC Top Trumps

The other day, I was listening to Rakim, widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of all time. I started to wonder why. A good discussion with my friend, Sunny, and we came up with these criteria and this survey.

I would be really interested to see your views on different MCs, so get adding them using the form below. You can add as many as you like.

If you would like to ask about the questionnaire, or what we want to do with the info, then either me or contact me.

Email Charter

A few years ago, Chris Anderson (of TED fame) proposed an email charter to help stop ‘everyone… drowning in email’. Every hour we spend working on our groaning inboxes is simply making the problem worse for our friends and colleagues.

So the emailcharter.org was born. It provided 10 ‘rules’ to help people use email better.

However, I noticed the other day that the charter website was down. I asked if it was gone forever (the ISP reminder emails probably got lost somewhere in an inbox), but still haven’t had a response.

So, in the spirit of keeping these things alive, here is a version.

email charter

10 Rules to Reverse the Email Spiral

1. Respect Recipients’ Time

This is the fundamental rule. As the message sender. the onus is on YOU to minimise the time your email will take to process. Even if it means taking more time at your end before sending.

2. Short or Slow is not Rude

Let’s mutually agree to cut each other some slack. Given the email load we’re all facing, it’s OK if replies take a while coming and if they don’t give detailed responses to all your questions. No one wants to come over as brusque, so please don’t take it personally. We just want our lives back!

3. Celebrate Clarity

Start with a subject line that clearly labels the topic, and maybe includes a status category [Info], [Action], [Time Sens] [Low Priority]. Use crisp, muddle-free sentences. If the email has to be longer than five sentences, make sure the first provides the basic reason for writing. Avoid strange fonts and colours.

4. Quash Open-Ended Questions

It is asking a lot to send someone an email with four long paragraphs of turgid text followed by “Thoughts?”. Even well-intended-but-open questions like “How can I help?” may not be that helpful. Email generosity requires simplifying, easy-to-answer questions. “Can I help best by a) calling b) visiting or c) staying right out of it?!”

5. Slash Surplus cc’s

cc’s are like mating bunnies. For every recipient you add, you are dramatically multiplying total response time. Not to be done lightly! When there are multiple recipients, please don’t default to ‘Reply All’. Maybe you only need to cc a couple of people on the original thread. Or none.

6. Tighten the Thread

Some emails depend for their meaning on context. Which means it’s usually right to include the thread being responded to. But it’s rare that a thread should extend to more than 3 emails. Before sending, cut what’s not relevant. Or consider making a phone call instead.

7. Attack Attachments

Don’t use graphics files as logos or signatures that appear as attachments. Time is wasted trying to see if there’s something to open. Even worse is sending text as an attachment when it could have been included in the body of the email.

8. Give these Gifts: EOM NNTR

If your email message can be expressed in half a dozen words, just put it in the subject line, followed by EOM (= End of Message). This saves the recipient having to actually open the message. Ending a note with “No need to respond” or NNTR, is a wonderful act of generosity. Many acronyms confuse as much as help, but these two are golden and deserve wide adoption.

9. Cut Contentless Responses

You don’t need to reply to every email, especially not those that are themselves clear responses. An email saying “Thanks for your note. I’m in.” does not need you to reply “Great.” That just cost someone another 30 seconds.

10. Disconnect!

If we all agreed to spend less time doing email, we’d all get less email! Consider calendaring half-days at work where you can’t go online. Or a commitment to email-free weekends. Or an ‘auto-response’ that references this charter. And don’t forget to smell the roses.

Alternatively, maybe we shouldn’t use email as our default communication tool/technique. Why not use something like Slack or Microsoft Teams to communicate within teams or projects? Have a read of James Clay’s post on alternatives here.

Link to full-size image
email charter

Award winning?

Adobe Spark (12)In a break from my usual rants, I will be doing some shameless self-promotion. For those of you with a sensitive disposition, please look away now.

Together with my team (Kerry Pinny and Chavan Kissoon), we are shortlisted for the ALT Learning Technologist of the Year award for our work on embedding Digital Capabilities at our institution.

We created a short video to summarise our work, using Peter Jackson’s definition of short when making our video. And that’s not all we took. Check it out:

You can read a short summary of our work on the ALT competition website here (https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2016/awards/awards-finalists-and-community-choice-voting/); we are the 8th option down, so get scrolling.

Your chance to vote

As this is a public vote, it would be nice if you would be so kind to vote for us (obviously all the other options are equally great, but their videos don’t include Sean Bean).

Vote by tweet Vote by email

The deadline for voting is noon on 7 September, and the award will be presented at the ALT Annual Conference the same evening.

Only one vote counts from each twitter or email account, and for more information, go here: https://altc.alt.ac.uk/2016/awards/awards-finalists-and-community-choice-voting/

Thanks again.

Where have I been

This is a map of places I have visited.

I attempted to use Google Developer Charts (and a little JS) to create a map of places I’ve visited. This was intended to be like the game Command and Conquer: Red Alert, with only known areas visible. I hope to remove the outlines of non-visited places when I get a chance.

As I visit more places, so more of the map will appear.

Movember 2015: I got 99 problems but a Mo’ ain’t one

The Mo is dead, long live the Mo

Good day supporters of our EDEU Movember experience.

Key facts

£160+ raised
4+ Moustaches grown

It is with deep regret that I must tell you that Movember is officially over. No longer will you be able to enjoy the hirsuteness (it’s a word, I think) of the EDEU gentlemen. As the razor loomed over the last wisps of lip carpet, exposing skin to the previously unknown wintery wind, we must remember exactly why our brave gents took on this journey.
Continue reading “Movember 2015: I got 99 problems but a Mo’ ain’t one”

Movember 2015: Return of the Mo’

It’s that time of year again when we do our bit to tackle men’s health issues. How do we do this, I hear you ask? That’s right. We adorn our upper lips with fur.

This year, EDEU are (attempting to) growing moustaches to raise money and awareness. But we need your help!

So, apart from asking you all not to run scared from the nascent nasal tendrils, we need you to help us choose our Mo styles. I’ve put together a cheeky little form for you to select the nose bush for each participant. All we ask is you make a small donation (£1 seems generous) for your vote. After all, the whole point of Movember is to raise some cash to fight prostate cancer and promote men’s health. The deadline for voting is midday Friday 6 November.

Vote Donate 

If you’d like to get involved with Movember, there are two ways to participate: sign up to grow a moustache for 30 days, or take the MOVE challenge and get active every day for 30 days.

We’re passionate about the Movember Foundation because they’re tackling some of the most significant health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity.

Learn more about the important work and impact the Movember Foundation is having:


We’re in this together, so get involved spread the word, and don’t forget to vote.