A Trip Down Memory Train

Roosendaal, Lage Zwaluwe, Gilze-Rijen. Dordrecht, Breda, Tilburg. Not to mention all the Belgian small towns and cities. Or the Dutch football stadiums De Kuip and the Fuji Film of respectively Feyenoord and NAC Breda. The journey today takes longer than it was supposed to do. Somewhere in Belgium, even before Brussels, the high speed Thalys train that was supposed to bring me from Paris to Rotterdam in two and a half hours, broke down. The driver managed to temporarily fix it and get the train at crawling speed to Brussels. But from there we had to take the regular train. And because I was heading for Den Bosch, after that I had to go via Breda with two trains that call on all stations in between. I could have been annoyed, but that woudn’t have brought me to my destination any faster. The first part was enjoyable enough, talking to a Dutch friend who coincidentally had the same train. The second and third part were mainly through a rural part of the Netherlands, covered in snow. Passing places I haven’t passed by train in a very long while. Now that I am on the verge of moving from Paris to Riga, it is good to have a trip like this, and finding out that is has a nice nostalgic feel to be in the Netherlands, but that – apart from family and friend – there is nothing I really miss. I wouldn’t exchange Riga for Dordrecht or Breda in a million years. But going back once in a while is not so bad.

Een Social Computing Reactie op de Kersttoespraak

Zoals elk jaar, heb ik de Kerst toespraak van Koningin Beatrix gemist. Gelukkig verscheen op Twitter al snel een link naar de volledige tekst. Dat is het mooie van twitter, vanachter een computer scherm kijk je naar berichten van mensen die je vertrouwt, tot op zekere hoogte. En die berichten leiden je vaak naar interessante inzichten, beter begrip voor andere standpunten, en waardevolle informatie. En daar hebben we gelijk een mooie brug naar de Kersttoespraak. Hoewel ik zeer veel voel voor de oproep tot gemeenschapszin die Koningin Beatrix doet, ik ben het sterk oneens met de notie dat het contact vanachter het scherm daar een tegengestelde kracht op vormt. Niet alleen is er al aardig wat wetenschappelijk onderzoek gedaan waaruit blijkt dat Social Computing een positief effect kan hebben in het opbouwen van teams en het bewerkstelligen van vertrouwen. Twee aspecten die aan gemeenschapszin zeker bijdragen. Daarnaast zijn er ook voorbeelden van hoe dat in werkelijkheid er aan toe kan gaan. Een voorbeeld uit mijn eigen ervaringen dit jaar, is de 10K4N Challenge die ik organiseerde. Volledig vanachter computerschermen werden wereldwijd 70 deelnemers aan een hardloopuitdaging georganiseerd, en werd 2000 dollar ingezameld, voldoende om een jaar onderwijs voor 21 meisjes in India te financieren. Als de Koningin vraagt om meer gemeenschapszin, dan kan sta ik daar volledige achter. Ik zou haar echter willen vragen om daarbij ook aandacht te geven aan de versterkende werking die social computing kan hebben op het opbouwen van een sterkere gemeenschap, ook buiten de eigen landsgrenzen.

(This post is a response to the Christmas Speech of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. In exception to the general rule here, it is posted in Dutch)

Snapshots of Lutetia – La Defense Concerts

La Défense concerts

One of the things I will miss in Paris, is the irregularly regular free classical music concert in La Défense. Now and then, a group of professional musicians performs classical music in the halls of the La Défense public transport station. And, unlike a lot of musicians you find in the Parisian subterranean transport system, these guys are GOOD! Often, they play one of my favorites: the Canon of Pachelbel. And, they play it very well. Always when I hear them, on my way from the deep down RER A to the Tramway 2, I take that small detour to listen to three or four pieces. It is like a little present on your way to work. Just forgetting about time, listening, enjoying the moment, and being happy.

What Matters Now – Choices

Life is about making choices and making yourself accountable for the ones you made. Once you realize that, you understand that you are in control. It is not your unfriendly colleague, or your boss, or that aggressive driver, or the economy. It is you. Sure, there are factors that influence your life, but you control the choice to what extent they do so.

If you don’t like your job, or your relationship, or the colour of your hair, you have the choice to change it. You have to realize that not changing it, is also a choice. And both, as with most choices, have their consequences. If you choose to stay in a job you don’t like, because of the job security and the payment of your bills, then that is a choice. And the consequence is that you are not happy in your work. You are free to change that. If you want both to have a fun job, and a secured monthly income to pay your bills, you have the choice to change careers. Or employer. Or spend less.

Can you choose success? I’m not sure. But you can certainly make the choice to go for it. To be happy, and to do what’s within your reach to be as successful as you can be. Failing in that is not a big deal. Maybe you do not achieve the target, but you chose to have fun. And that was then apparently also one of your goals.

So make 2010 about making choices. Then evaluate where they lead you, and if necessary, make a new choice.

This post is inpired by the work of Seth Godin. The book he initiated, What Matters Now, is a great initiative. It brings together brilliant and inspiring people like Jacqueline Novogratz, Elizabeth Gilbert, Chris Anderson and Kevin Kelly, to name but a few, and their thoughts for 2010. Download the book, share it, and tell us what your word for 2010 is.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Ever Present Gare de Lyon

Palmtree in the Gare de Lyon

Strangely, the Gare de Lyon has always been prominently connected to my Parisian visits and life. I don’t pass by there on my daily commute, or live close to it. So it could have been one of these places of which you know exist, but just hardly ever see. But on my first ever visit to Paris, I was about 15, we stayed in a hotel next to the Gare de Lyon. And from there it started. I vaguely remember walking through the station and seeing the orange TGV’s, the largesse of it, something we do not have in Dutch stations, and the crowds moving. Then, just about when I started to consider Paris as a possible place to live, the brilliant movie ‘Amélie‘ was released, in which the Gare de Lyon also plays a prominent role, even though most of the movie seems to be set in the 18th arrondissement. And then, there are the occasional business trips to our office near Grenoble, for which I take the now more greyish coloured TGV. From the Gare de Lyon, that services the destinations in the southern part of France. That might also be why the station’s main restaurant has tried to give itself a bit of a mediterranean look by putting up a palm tree in one of the station’s halls.

Snapshots of Lutetia – Promenade Plantee

Promenade Plantee

When we were in New York earlier this year, we wanted to visit the High Line, a defunct elevated railway turned into a park. Unfortunately, it was almost finished, but not open to the public yet. What we did get was a tip for back in Paris. The inspiration for the High Line comes from the Promenade Plantée. This elevated railway was turned into a parc in the late 1980’s. It runs from a bit east of the place the la Bastille, to almost the Boulevard Péripherique and the Bois de Vincennes.

Lean And ITIL Go Together

“In the tradition of mass production, ITIL processes tend to become administrative burdens aimed at getting the SLA numbers right, in stead of doing what they’re supposed to achieve. Batching incident tickets, or RfCs in systems and meetings, assigning and reassigning to not have it on your (team’s) name so long that you breach your KPIs, are more practice than exception. All the while, producing changes that put the production environment at risk and having incidents unsolved in reality, so the business is prevented from making money. But hey, in the system the ticket is closed on time, so the incident is resolved, right? Apart from the fact that a new ticket is opened and assigned to another team.”

Read the rest on Capgemini’s technology blog Capping IT Off.