Archive for July, 2008

Too much bachelor

24/07/2008

I am a summer bachelor again, while Mrs Saul stays in the UK, coming back shortly before the school term begins at the end of August.
This generally means a few days enjoying not tidying up, being messy and sleeping in a little too much at weekends after visiting places Mrs Saul doesn’t enjoy, a few days feeling lonely, a few days feeling used to feeling lonely and then Mrs Saul’s dramatic and welcome return. After the dramatic and welcome return I typically have to relearn general house rules and skills and our normal routine resumes.
It’s a scenario that’s a bit less common in Dubai than it used to be, but there are still a fair few husbands who spend a week or two in Dubai whilst wives and kids go home.
(The title is taken from a comment a security guard in our old building made to me a couple of years ago, accompanied by a wink and a quiver of the moustache. ‘Oh Sir, you are too much bachelor now!’.)

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The UK Apprentice – perfect TV

23/07/2008

I’ve just finished watching series 4 of the UK Apprentice. (Yes, that’s series, not season. We have series in the UK and stick with seasons when describing the time of year, not our TV programmes).
Like the other three series, I love it. Definitely one of the better things to come out of the world of reality TV. I’ve only watched season 1 of the US Apprentice, so can’t comment on what the others are like, but infinitely prefer the UK version to the US episodes I’ve seen. Some of that’s clearly to do with the fact that I have more in common with the people and setting, but most of it’s due to other factors. The BBC don’t need to edit things around ad breaks, the production is simply superb and Alan Sugar’s far more my kind of guy than Trump.
Much of the US version I’ve seen appears to be all about how amazing Trump is. Siralan’s hardly a shrinking violet, but at least he doesn’t feel the need to boast all of the time. His treats are far better too – I nearly fell of my chair laughing when one of Trump’s treats was the chance to look around his glitzy apartment. Appalling.
Some observations on this series…
– Far less swearing. The effing and blinding in past series was over the top.
– Siralan’s Emailer phones have gone. I presume he’s given up on that particularly product.
– Gelled hair. If I were 8 years younger, would I be covering my head in splodge every morning to look cool? I hope not.
– Empty suitcases. I love the fact they all bring their cases to the boardroom and that the cases are clearly empty. You can’t fit all your stuff in those tiny bags, or lift a full case so easily with one hand. Nice theatrical prop though.
– Lot of kissing hello and goodbye and constant screaming and hugging. Not very British, you know. Or am I just stuffy and out of touch?
Roll on the next series….
I would love to see a UAE version of The Apprentice, preferably a UAE Nationals only version (with subtitles of course). That would be great to watch.

Reaching out

22/07/2008

Despite their fondness for throwing tea into the sea, America remains Britain’s closest ally. I work for an American company and have the pleasure of visiting regularly. We also share a common language. This is an excellent state of affairs, as far as I am concerned.
I have no doubt that my US colleagues have a chuckle every time I say ‘jolly good’, ‘crumbs!’ and describe the United States as America.
I allow myself a little chuckle when my US colleagues ask me to ‘reach out’ to someone or for someone to ‘reach out’ to me.
‘X will reach out to you’ is a common phrase. I always have this vision of someone about to fall off a cliff reaching for me in desperation, arms waving, with a look of terror on his or her face.
All the person in question is usually going to do is drop me a mail checking on the number of servers we need to run a hundred Sun Rays.

Twitter twitter

22/07/2008

I’ve been on Twitter for the past couple of months, after ThinGuy encouraged me to sign up.
Twitter’s one of those things that’s impossible to explain to people who aren’t already Twittering. It just sounds rubbish. But it’s fun. Basically, you have 150 letters or so to post whatever you want to.. Call it mini-blogging, if you will.
Me – You post a few words about what you’re feeling, what you’re doing, whatever. Friends subscribe to your ‘tweets’ and keep up to date with what you’re up to.
Mrs Saul – Sounds strange. What do you write about?
Mr – Well, work things or whatever I’m up to or about to do. ‘Just about to head off to the pool’, for example.
Mrs Saul – Who on earth wants to hear about that? Who do you listen to and who listens to you?
Me – Well, I subscribe to a few work people’s ‘feeds’ and they subscribe to mine.
Mrs Saul – Why do they care what you’re up to?
Me = Well, I don’t think they do particularly. It’s just fun to keep in touch, so to speak.
Mrs Saul – Have you met these people?
Me – Well, I’ve met some of them once or twice and got on well with them. Others I’ve never met. I’ve ‘known’ them all for a few years via email.
Mrs Saul – Hmmmm.
Thus far, I love it. The fact I know that people I don’t really know are off to church every Sunday, going to the gym or munching on a cookie is a bit odd, considering I have no idea what my best friends back home are doing for months on end. That said, when we do finally all meet, we’ll probably feel like old friends. Let’s see how long this particular Web 2.0 thing lasts…

Twitter twitter

22/07/2008

I’ve been on Twitter for the past couple of months, after ThinGuy encouraged me to sign up.
Twitter’s one of those things that’s impossible to explain to people who aren’t already Twittering. It just sounds rubbish. But it’s fun. Basically, you have 150 letters or so to post whatever you want to.. Call it mini-blogging, if you will.
Me – You post a few words about what you’re feeling, what you’re doing, whatever. Friends subscribe to your ‘tweets’ and keep up to date with what you’re up to.
Mrs Saul – Sounds strange. What do you write about?
Mr – Well, work things or whatever I’m up to or about to do. ‘Just about to head off to the pool’, for example.
Mrs Saul – Who on earth wants to hear about that? Who do you listen to and who listens to you?
Me – Well, I subscribe to a few work people’s ‘feeds’ and they subscribe to mine.
Mrs Saul – Why do they care what you’re up to?
Me = Well, I don’t think they do particularly. It’s just fun to keep in touch, so to speak.
Mrs Saul – Have you met these people?
Me – Well, I’ve met some of them once or twice and got on well with them. Others I’ve never met. I’ve ‘known’ them all for a few years via email.
Mrs Saul – Hmmmm.
Thus far, I love it. The fact I know that people I don’t really know are off to church every Sunday, going to the gym or munching on a cookie is a bit odd, considering I have no idea what my best friends back home are doing for months on end. That said, when we do finally all meet, we’ll probably feel like old friends. Let’s see how long this particular Web 2.0 thing lasts…

Give us a language choice, Google

22/07/2008

Come on Google. You do a great job in localising your web pages. Having had some limited experience of the cost and complexity and costs of localising products, I appreciate the fact that you go to the extents you do.
That saidm don’t forget that not everyone that lives in a country speaks the language of that country, so give us a choice on your web pages. Yes, I’m a Brit in Dubai who doesn’t speak Arabic (an interesting topic of its own), but I’m sure this applies to French people in Finland, Arabic speakers in Australia, Nigerians in Nicaragua and lots of other linguistic permutations.
Give us a button, a drop down list or something else so that we can understand what google.com, blogger or your other services are trying to tell us.

Back

21/07/2008

I’m back in Dubai after one of the best holidays I’ve had back home for a long time.
This summer break wasn’t filled with the usual rush of visiting everyone. Mrs Saul and I took it easy and didn’t plan too much – we saw plenty of people, but without the usual running around. We split our time nicely between Mrs Saul’s family in Milton Keynes and my parents in Richmond. Perfect.
There was plenty of strolling into Richmond, walking around London and generally enjoying ourselves. For the first time in ages, I almost completely stopped looking at the time, just falling asleep when I was tired and getting up when I woke up. I also stayed almost completely away from work emails and cut back on internet time too, which made a big difference to my general levels of relaxation.
I’m very busy at work, but I really enjoy it and don’t usually feel particularly stressed as such. This means I have a tendency to look at work stuff when I’m supposed to be on holiday. Whilst I don’t really notice it, Mrs Saul can instantly tell when I’ve been looking at work things. She encouraged me to steer clear where possible and I feel much better for having done so.
Things usually quieten down during the summer, which gives me plenty of time to update all the sales material and promos I have going, sort out visas, do some hands on training and get ready for another financial year.
I’m looking forward to it.

UK 2002 vs UK 2008

09/07/2008

Wifi in the Milton Keynes’ library, provided across the city by BT.
Community Support Police officers.
Ladies at the House of Fraser makeup counter wearing hijab.
Polish people everywhere – no more Aussies, Kiwis and Saffers serving you in London’s pubs!
Smoking ban. Nice inside, but fag butts all over the streets, congregations of smokers outside building.
Driving standards dropped?
Petrol 1.20 a litre.
New signs everywhere – non-drinking zones, no loitering, low emmission, congestion charge.
CC TV all over the place.
Interactive TV with Freeview, the standard four channels still all you want to watch.

Goodby EMMA, hello again SEE

03/07/2008

The financial year is over. I can’t give details, for obvious reasons, but I’m very happy with the way things went for my particular products.
Regular readers might remember that my previous region was called SEE – Southern and Eastern EMEA, Middle East and Africa. From January we lost Mid-Europe and Russia and the CIS countries to become EMMA – Eastern Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa.
We are now SEE again, as Russia and the CIS countries have come back. Mid-Europe will stay separate. On top of that I am no longer part of EMEA – we’ve become part of a so-called ’emerging markets’ grouping, which consists of Greater China, India, Latin America and SEE. This is an interesting idea – growth areas that might not be geographically all right next door to eachother, but which have similar challenges.
There’s huge potential for desktop in this new region. I’m looking forward to meeting up with my Russian colleagues again and seeing what the people in the new region are doing in terms of my product set!
Here’s to another (financial) year. Moscow, Almaty, Tashkent and other places – here I come…

Too much rounding sir

01/07/2008

Interesting article here on how Dubai’s taxi drivers choose their passengers. Fortunately I am a preferred customer, it seems.
Obviously this whole system falls to pieces when the non-white customer being passed over actually lives in an area a taxi driver might well be happy to drive to – Mrs Saul being a good example. Equally, I have seen the odd crestfallen look when I’ve jumped in a cab and asked to go one of the less popular destinations.
It seems there are enough other customers out there that it doesn’t matter when a sweeping generalisation gets it wrong occasionally. Some they win, some they don’t!