Telephones in toilets

What is it with telephones in hotel room toilets?

In this apparently 5-star hotel I’m holed up in Amsterdam – they have 3 phones in this room and one of them installed by the throne in the bathroom.

Clearly I’m not the target audience for this level of communication equipmentization (I’m making that a word!). I have no one to call on a fixed line whilst I’m doing my other kind of business.

Also I guess most of these elegant boarding houses haven’t heard of mobile phones.

Photo by conskeptical

Downtime in the Age of Cloud Computing

We are working on an experimental mobile based social photography app called Snaptime and we have an ambitious plan to have it on the various app stores by the 1st of February so that people can start to play with it and help us learn what it does [and should do]  for them.

8 hours to try and resolve Plan A

But today we got word from our cloud provider – Digital Ocean -that our server had been sending data out at an alarming rate.  For the non-techie a cloud provider doesn’t provide fluffy clusters of water vapour in the sky,  they provide computers you can access via the internet that are really quick to set up. Anyway, we use this Digital Ocean – for my other startup Amazemeet. We imagined (or used to) they  were our partner in running a reliable service and when some kind of emergency happened, that they would be right with us, working to resolve it.

Well, it turns out this ‘alarming rate’ was 35 million packets of data in a very short time – approximately 18 minutes.  That’s  more than 220 megabytes of data in a 18 minutes.  Their systems detected this and locked down our server and disabled the network connections so the flooding could be contained. They also locked the account.
They both entitled and entirely correct in taking this course of action.

Then they emailed us and asked us to investigate and then explain to them what happened and then they would investigate and consider whether to switch it back on.

Well – so we did – as much as their lock down would allow. Which is not very much – and my 2 emails to them in 8 hours to get assistance went unanswered.

Meanwhile the development is at a standstill. But not for long.

10 minutes to switch to Plan B

Fortunately I keep a backup provider – –  for just these kind of situations and the turnaround time to get a new server, set it up and be back online is frankly hard to imagine possible even 5 years ago.

After 8 hours of getting nowhere, I tired of Digital Ocean’s lack of cooperation in this matter – which lets face it is simply a cheap lesson in picking hosting providers – and made the decision to bring the service back up, things happened rather quickly.

I emailed Digital Ocean to tell them since there seemed to be an impasse and frankly radio silence from them, I had no other choice but to destroy the server (so I didn’t continue to pay for it) . Even to destroy it proved impossible until they removed the lock – which they did on request. In fact – they replied faster to me deleting my server and initiating my plan to move all my services away from Digital Ocean than they did to my requests for assistance. I think that is a poor business decision.

It took me less than 10 minutes to get a new server on, change my Cloudflare settings to point to a new IP address and now my developer is going to take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to put all the software we need back on it and bring it back to full strength.

Mike Gets Philosophical

I have a saying I recite to myself when things don’t go the way I expect them to – “Don’t get angry, get philosophical”.

Given that we have growing subscribers on Amazemeet who are increasingly relying on our service to be robust and reliable. I consider the relatively unimportant downtime on Snaptime as a dress rehearsal for what the experience of the extent of Digital Ocean’s willingness to help me overcome a revenue impacting service. So this was a cheap lesson of an important subject and for that I am a grateful student.

Downtime in the Age of Cloud Computing means that provisioning metal (thats system administrator speak for getting servers setup) is now a fairly simple, quick and inexpensive task. It also means that with the technical complexity resolved, the battle ground for providers is in customer service and recovery partnership.

In this regard I’m disappointed to say Digital Ocean has let me down. I did like them – or my impression of them – young upstarts daring to grab a sandwich from Amazon’s unconquerable AWS service. The underdogs, the cool kids doing cool things for other cool kids. But alas that is not really the case, from this experience my impression is they really couldn’t give a cockroach’s wotsits about my predicament.

But heigh ho – I simply hop on another cloud and carry on my merry way. Lesson learnt, achievement unlocked for fastest Plan B ever.


A week of amazing things.

3 amazing things happened this week

First – the fundraising target for my Long Walk on Camino de Norte was reached in less than 24 hours.
Then I hired a developer to work on an ongoing experiment – SnaptimeApp – and this was the fastest hire on Upwork in 8 years of using the service.
Finally, despite some setbacks, we launched Amazemeet to the world.

Reaching and exceeding my Long Walk fundraising goal

I don’t usually ask people to fund things I believe in – usually I fund to the extent of my means and do the best I can. This time is different.

This time I wanted to create awareness and amplify the amount I was prepared to contribute for a cause so close to my heart.  So I went ahead and created my first ever campaign on Just Giving and set a modest £1000 goal.

Within 12 hours I was 90% to that goal and by the next day , it was entirely funded. This triggered my goal matching and doubled the goal.

To say I’m blown away is an understatement – I was thrilled to tears – sobbing as I read the messages of support and having my faith in humanity rekindled to a blaze.
Thank you so very much.

The campaign has so far raised £2050+ for the Invest in M.E charity.  I have since increased the goal to £3000. There are 15 or so weeks to the start of my walk and there is still plenty of time for you and others to contribute to this effort and truly make a difference getting both help and justice for the sufferers of this brutal condition. Please support generously.

As I chatted with my best friend Joel about how the fundraising was going – he said he had been researching the Camino de Santiago and discovered his family namesake – Robert Langton – the Bishop of Salisbury and Winchester – had also walked and documented his Camino in 1520. So now this is getting weird  but pleasantly so. I guess everything is connected after all.

Record awesome hire on Upwork

Since I joined the freelance work platform in 2007 , I have been convinced that for any digital work,  the future is freelancing and remote freelancing at that and Upwork (formerly oDesk) is an amazing platform dedicated in bringing that future to the present.

In all the time that I have been using it – my average time to find and hire talented people has been pretty short – from 5 hours to a couple of days. This week, however, I beat this record with a time to find and hire of 90 minutes and that included 2 Skype based interviews. That is a phenomenal time – made only possible by the work that Upwork has done to facilitate the interactions between providers and purchasers.

Amazemeet launched

The startup that I have been building for the last 12 months was finally launched this week – although it didn’t go out on the 14th of January as I had hoped – we got it all lined up and released on Saturday 16th January.

This has been a real labour of love and I’m incredibly proud of the work me and my team has done on this. Now to see the workers of the world – fed up with crappy meetings – show it some love.

Please check it out and share it. You may very well save someone’s life with it 🙂

I'm going for a walk

The Short and Sweet

Between May 8th and the 20th , I’ll be walking 214km 240km of the 815km long of the Camino del Norte – the northern route of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.
I’d like you to support me and my selected charity and invite you to join me.

Walking the Camino de Santiago de Compostela

Millions of people from all over the world have walked to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The routes they have take over the ages are called the Camino.

For whatever the reason people make this ‘pilgrimage’ – spiritual, recreational or simply popping out with the dog for a pint of milk – this is a chance to connect with whatever you need to connect with.  In my case, my dog, myself and your donation for a great cause.

Ultimately I intend to complete the entire 815km northern route in 4 visits. This is the first visit, the second is tentatively planned for September 2016 and the rest in 2017.

You can see more of the route I’ll be taking here.

Make every kilometre count

I’m making this journey because I’m fit and healthy and fancy a walk. There are thousands of sufferers of M.E in the UK  – including my best friend Joel – who can’t walk 100 yards without feeling totally exhausted. They’d love to do this – but they simply cannot.

They – like Joel – used to be fit and healthy until they suddenly got severely sick and never got better –  like a permanent severe flu. Their lives have been put on painful pause by M.E and their recovery put on hold because the UK Government and medical establishment are hiding their heads in the sand on this. It is up to the general public – you , me and InvestinME – to move this forward.

So I need your help.

I need you to put your hand in your pocket and sponsor this walk. My target is £1000 and I’ll even match donations up to that target.
Give what you can and more importantly share this we need to raise awareness  as much as we need to raise money.
Sponsor me here now:
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

About Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E)

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is a systemic neuroimmune condition characterized by post-exertional malaise (a severe worsening of symptoms after even minimal exertion). It causes dysregulation of both the immune system and the nervous system. The effects of ME are devastating enough to leave 25% of patients housebound or bedbound. For moderate to severe patients, living with ME is like living with late-stage cancer, advanced stage AIDS, or congestive heart failure for decades. –

Living with ME is like living with late-stage cancer? That’s pretty rough – right? Now imagine that is your life for the next 5, 10 or even 15 years,

You would think that with such chronic pain, suffering and lower quality of life affecting so many people with this condition that there would be state funding to fund research into the condition and develop a cure or definitive treatment. Not so – in the UK,  the funding to date – of  £2m over the last 25 years  – is entirely embarrassing.

It simply isn’t good enough and I’m taking this walk partly to raise awareness of both the condition and the lack of emphasis on it. Please help me in doing both.

Join me

My 214km walk is in 10 stages and if you would like to join any of the stages – that would be wonderful. Here are some things you need to be aware of:

  • you need to be fit and able to commit to complete whatever stage(s) you join
  • you’ll need to make your way to the rendezvous location the evening before the start of the stage with whatever gear you need
  • If you would like to do a multi-day walk with me – you might have to rough it. My dog and I plan to camp in a tent most of the time but there are very basic hostels called Albergues that you can bunk in.
  • We’ll walk for 6 – 8 hours a day and eat ,drink, muse and recover for the rest of the time.

If all this still excites you – please send me a mail and lets plan our camino. Please make sure you also make a donation to the cause too 🙂

A Super Special Limited Offer

I’m a sought after world class agile coach – you cannot hire me until 2018 because I’m all booked up to help organisations deliver value more effectively and joyfully . If you would like to spend a day walking and talking about the challenges you are facing as a manager/Scrum Master/whatever in a tech organisation struggling to deliver value effectively – then make a minimum donation of £500 to the cause above,  get your walking boots on and lets talk. I guarantee you it will be the best £500 your company ever spent.

Limited to first 3 people only.

Updates on my Camino

I intend to keep this blog updated of my progress before, during and immediately following the walk – so be sure to bookmark and follow along.

You can also “like” my Facebook page here to stay updated.