I have decided, for no particular reason, that I’m going to limit myself in the titles I use on this blog.

OK, that’s a lie, there are about three reasons I could give you for limiting my post titles:

  1. Because Greg Storey does it on his blog and it comes across as quirky and enigmatic.
  2. Because it ties in with my goal of performing as little Search Optimization on this blog as possible. It’s almost as if I don’t want an audience!
  3. Because I like the idea and discipline of boiling down the subject of each post to a single word. That’s right, one word to explain what my latest missive will be.

Note that the concept of brevity does not and will not apply to the content of my posts, just to the titles.

Every now and then I get bits of information from home. Usually it’s my mother giving me an update on a long-forgotten neighbour or acquaintance. Tonight it was the death of someone I went to school with.

Michael Duffin was one of those guys who was in and out of my social circle throughout school. The kid I remember is probably a very different character to the man who was murdered in the early hours of Saturday morning. Nevertheless, the brutality of people and the fragility of life make you stop and think.

When you leave school, you imagine the people you left behind. That their lives go on in parallel to your own, and they generally follow that pattern of education, relationship(s), kids, career, mortgage. Not necessarily in that order, but you get my meaning.

When someone from your past turns up dead, you think about the decisions that led to that point. Was it a walk to the shops? Staying in the bar for one more pint? Moving to a new town? But you can’t stand still, you’ve got to live your life whatever happens. The future – contrary to popular belief – isn’t written.

As far as memories of Michael go, I have a picture in my head of a generally happy kid, eager to please and to fit in. I vaguely remember a food fight in the cloakroom (outside Harry Kennedy’s class) in Primary School where he ended up getting sprayed with what seemed like a thousand lemonade bottles. I think the later years in secondary school he struggled a bit (didn’t we all), and eventually he fell off my radar. But like I said, you always assume that your school friends are out there somewhere, getting on with life.

And it stops you in your tracks when you find out they’re not.

Funny how I have this overwhelming urge to say goodbye to someone I haven’t seen in around 14 years. The best I can do is offer my condolences to the family.

It's been a week of challenges in the new job.

Running as part of a distributed, multi-site network is the part of the job that I knew I would thrive on, and that's exactly what's happening.

Because our staff spend their time between various sites both in the UK and abroad, they're mostly laptop users, and mostly connecting to different parts of the company network.

I've discovered a number of long-standing problems this week that have been bugging people. The remote site I visited on Tuesday, the user who couldn't connect to a remote share, deploying a new AntiVirus across my local site. Basically interesting stuff and problems I'd become disconnected from over the last couple of years.

It's nice to walk into a firm, discover lingering problems that have been around for months or even years and resolve them. These are the 'wins' that make IT work worthwhile. And as I said before, the people here are appreciative of the work I'm doing.

These early days are full of challenges, as I learn more about the network, resolve and document issues. Having challenges and rising to them is all part of the fun!

The new job's going exceedingly well. Do you know what the best part is? I'm feeling engaged again. The work I'm doing is directly helping people and they're genuinely grateful for it.

I hate to have to say it, but toward the end of my time with CFR, my work had become less than challenging.

This came into sharp focus for me today as I visited a site in Doncaster that was having problems. While I was looking forward to going to the mainland, inwardly I was a little worried that my hardware skills had become rusty.

I didn't actually have anything to worry about. Within about an hour I had the PCs back up and running (and it wasn't an obvious fix either). Having quite a few hours to kill before my return flight, I resolved a number of other niggles the site staff were having and provided them with a bit of advice on other aspects of their network.

As for the new company (who shall remain nameless), they're a joy to work for. Encouraging, informal and friendly. And global. Being part of a global IT team is great fun and great experience. Maybe it's the manufacturing environment, but what I do seems to make a difference – you can actually see it.

Being presented with a spanking new laptop and mobile phone on the first day didn't hurt either, let me tell you. And I've cut down on the web design work at home for the moment to focus on blogging, which is going quite well. I think my writing output is improving in leaps and bounds.

So, the title of the post was meant to reflect what I was doing today. But it also reflects how I'm feeling…