Dealing with Trivia

Portugal, 1812 - The 1st Duke of Wellington writes to the National Office in London.


Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our headquarters.

We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty’s Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.

Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion’s petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as to the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain. This reprehensible carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are war with France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.

This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty’s Government so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one with the best of my ability, but I cannot do both:

1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London

or, perchance,

2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.

Your most obedient servant,


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“Fundamentally, when you think about innovation, it's actually pretty easy and it's always about being unreasonable.

And the adage is 'All progress is due to the unreasonable person.’ It's just that simple.

If you want innovation, hang out with weird, as Gary Hamel said.

The more people who are telling you - whether they are friends, families, colleagues, professionally or socially - that your ideas are wrong, incorrect or unreasonable, the more likely it is you are on the right track.”

Overheard from Tom Meredith at a Social Innovation event from Dell.

I like Tom Meredith. He talks a lot of sense...

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How much ? NHS spends money like water on ICT

According to the Guardian "BT Group will next month become the third major contractor in as many years to take a multimillion pound writedown on its work with the government's crisis-stricken GDP12.7bn overhaul of the NHS computer system."

This is the most astonishing amount of money.

The NHS is pretty much the biggest employer in Europe. There are something like 1,330,000 employed by the wider NHS - of whom some 133,000 are Doctors.

Yet despite that vast workforce we could (takes deep breath) give every-single-one of those employees TWO top-of-the range laptops (one for work and one for home) AND an iPhone each - and still have some change left over from GDP2.7bn.

Leaving some GDP10bn to spend on connecting them all up...

Let's look at that one more time. Two laptops and iPhone for every single NHS employee, and still have GDP10 Billion left over.

For pity's sake, who runs these contracts?

Because we sure know who's paying for it all.

Update - June 2011 - "NHS Chief Information Officer - Christine Connelly - in dramatic resignation. Terminal crisis for £11.4bn National Programme for IT?" ComputerWorldUK
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From the excellent 43 Folders.

Dashes can work for virtually any project you've procrastinated, no matter how monolithic.

  • Messy garage - Goal: 10 minutes or 1 full garbage bag. Spend 10 minutes working in one area of the garage. Take out old papers, break down some boxes, or move the Christmas ornaments to the top shelf. When the timer buzzes at you, stop.
  • College application - Goal: 5 minutes or 1 page. Start by filling in the easy boxes. If you reach the bottom of the page before time is up, stop.
  • Overdue report - Goal: 10 minutes or 100 words. Just start writing, even if it's complete crap. Just keep scribbling for 10 minutes or until you have a paragraph or two. When time's up, stop.
  • Holiday cards and family correspondence - Goal: 5 minutes or 2 notes. Grab a pen and start making with the nice. Tell them about Tyler's big day at Computer Camp. Brag about Ashley-Marie's jazz and tap recital. When you've hit two finished cards, stop.

Once you've made any progress on something you've been procrastinating - even the ridiculously minor amounts of progress you make in your dash - you might find it irresistible to keep working at it. That's okay...

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The sad truth about IT Departments...

This came from a talk by Neil McIntosh, assistant editor of Guardian Unlimited. Neil oversees the weblogs initiative at Guardian Unlimited, and was previously deputy editor of the paper’s technology section, Online.

The Online blog started in the aftermath of the collapse. We were talking about how few pages were left in the Online section, but we had lots of content and nowhere to put it. So I put something together on Blogger, which allowed us permalinks and comments, which was unexpected for us. Suddenly people started talking back to us and telling us where we were going wrong.

We decided to put Online and a News blog onto Movable Type. I bought a domain and server space with a credit card because it was difficult to get it through IT.

Been there. Done that.

Via Corante > Strange Attractor.

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