Covid Isolation Week 1 Day 4 – Quiet times

It’s amazing how quiet things are getting.

During the day there are still cars around and people going for walks but at night it gets eerily quiet – no one out driving to those social events or running errands. 

One thing I’ve noticed today is far more sirens – generally far off. Maybe it’s just because there’s less traffic generally so less of the normal city sounds but 3-4 times today I noticed sirens of ambulances or police cars… I pray who ever is in need to the sirens is ok – which again might be a factor in me noticing more.  

So the new routine continues…the new norm…
Get-up, Tea, sometimes breakfast, log on, work, calls, work, more calls, make tea, lunch, catch-up, hand over, shower (I know late), walk, maths, reading, science, snack, log back on, more calls, emails, apologies, tea, work-out, bed time, dinner, TV, bed…rinse repeat.

Its harder on Isaac I think. The initial joy at not having to go to school is slowly giving way to boredom, which isn’t helped by him being an only child. But we’re trying to keep him occupied and the school have been great at setting him things to do – he’s even started a diary.

It also struck me today how I’m slowly losing track of what day it is…without those typical, familiar queues it all just becomes another day… We’re not even through week 1 and I’m sure life will get more and more surreal…

In other events, I saw my mum today when she dropped off some cardboard for Isaac to build a castle from. Oh and some random flapjacks that she made to free up space in her kitchen. Think we’ll tackle the model building on the weekend (the flapjacks didn’t last a day). I’m trying to get him to build a model of Caldicot Castle but he has his heart set on Castle Coch – because red is his fave colour. 

Covid-19 Symptom Check

Apart from the tail end of Isaac’s cold we’re all ok 🙂


NINo Stars

asterixSo the challenge today was how to make it easier for customers to get their initial password correct.
This would be based on their National Insurance number – but in lowercase, with duplicate consecutive characters replaced by an asterisk…

My idea to make this easier was to simply put some online page containing advice on how to log on initially, with a tool for easily applying the rules to a customers national insurance number.

Apparently this is complicated – needs a developer and has to be impact assessed….

Or I could just do it myself – or so I thought.

Anyway after a few minutes jogging my memory on Javascript I came up with this.

<!DOCTYPE html>

<p>Click the button to convert the string to lowercase letters.</p>
<textarea id="NINo" cols="50" name="p" rows="4">National Insurance Number</textarea>
<button onclick="myFunction()">Generate</button>

<p id="demo"></p>

function myFunction() {
   var str = document.getElementById("NINo").value;
   var res = str.toLocaleLowerCase();
   var res = res.replace(/11/g,"1*");
   var res = res.replace(/22/g,"2*");
   var res = res.replace(/33/g,"3*");
   var res = res.replace(/44/g,"4*");
   var res = res.replace(/55/g,"5*");
   var res = res.replace(/66/g,"6*");
   var res = res.replace(/77/g,"7*");
   var res = res.replace(/88/g,"8*");
   var res = res.replace(/99/g,"9*");
   var res = res.replace(/00/g,"0*");

   document.getElementById("demo").innerHTML = res;



Clunky, and I’m sure there’s a Regex version that would be tidier – but that’s for another time.



I seem to spend an awful lot of time thinking about doing things rather than just getting them done.

Procrastination… for me of late has been an art form – in all areas of my life. I’d like to believe it’s just ‘of late’ but then that would be a self indulgent lie. So time to sort it out and get back to being productive.

Even as I’m writing this there are other things that keep distracting me – no more!

So I need to get back to:-

  • reading – working the grey matter
  • exercise – working the wobbly matter
  • art – or more rightly blogging/cartoons
  • work – got to pay the bills some how

This week I’m going to clear the decks of some things that have been hanging around and start with getting back into the exercise habit.





Colour pallet

One of my biggest problems is chosing colour schemes. Luckily Steph provides an invaluable service when it comes to decorating the house but when building websites I’ve always been on my own.

But…finally I’ve found an awesome site that takes away the pain:-


There are an array of very cool features but the one I love is that the url changes with the options you select. So once you’ve hit on the perfect eye-catching colour combination it can quickly be shared just by using the web address:-




Is this how to write spam comments?

I think someones spam-bot went a little awry and posted their script instead of just a selection…


{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours
today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
{It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all
{webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as
you did, the {internet|net|web} will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.
{Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss

Continue reading %s

Contact forms… which is best

What I’ve learnt from getting back into blogging has been how very different Word Press and Blogger are as platforms. Probably for all the right reasons – it just feels a lot more grown-up and serious.

Anyway I digress (marginally) from the point of this post – which is there are so so many options around design/widgets/forms/formats/categories/tags…almost too much!
It’s similar to the reason I sometimes avoid Subway – a bewildering range of choice.

‘You can have everything!’

…yeah but what if I don’t know what I want?

So I got to reading Jeff Bullas’ blog and a post about the 15 most common mistakes…and the section on contact forms caught my attention. This site is very much a work in progress but I hadn’t thought of really using a contact form – but actually after reading Jeff’s take on it I thought I’d look at putting a simple form together.

Which brings me to choice – there are hundreds of options for plugins that handle forms from a simple html form to cloud based filtered services that will integrate with your CRM. Where’s good old safe and easy blogger when you need it.

This led me into the ‘review minefield’ – multiply the number of plugin options by the number of reviews and suddenly a simple choice is somewhere in the middle of an ocean of information. Which at the speed I read devoured a good few hours.

After looking at all those reviews and ratings what did I decide to do?

Well I listened to Jeff’s advice and installed one of his recommendations.

Moral of the story?
Sometimes choice is good, flexibility and scale-ability is always nice – but sometimes a good recommendation is far better than hours lost in research on a new subject.



One voice

For the last few months I’ve been involved in redrafting our communication strategy and yesterday was the final presentation of our recommendations. Thankfully it went far better than expected.

I’ll probably do a more in depth post later with the details but the headlines revolved around:-

  • Getting the overarching narrative of the organisation right
  • Getting people to talk to one another
  • Listen to customers and talk their language

Not rocket science but the more I have worked alongside communication teams the more I’ve realised what a rough deal they often get.

I’ve met very few people in the business world who do not rate themselves as excellent communicators.
It’s littered through most CVs I’ve ever read and is certainly on all of mine.

“Excellent communicator….proven track record of communicating at a senior level….experienced public speaker….yada yada yada”

So inherent in most people is a instinctive under appreciation for anyone involved in comms and the value they add. This often means that the comms team gets involved very late on or have pre-written copy passed to them to be sent out… and then people get offended when its recommended that half of what they’ve written isn’t needed.

So how do you sell egg sucking classes to your grandma?

Well the first tactic was to build up a comprehensive evidence base. This involved surveys, focus groups, analysis of customer data as well as bringing in some experts to give their opinion. The second tactic was to really not refer to it as communication at all…
Communication should be a two way dialogue but (certainly in my organisation) has become a shorthand for just sending an email on whats going on – hardly two way. So when the ‘name’ gets in the way…change it…

We presented a ‘One Voice’ strategy that talked about conversations and customer voice…