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Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.198 25 Sep 2018


Driving Like Me

From the vinceunlimited WordPress site dated 5 May 2013

I don't like anything.

That is to say I don't LIKE anything.

I don't mean I don't like any thing. That would just be ridiculous. Or perhaps suggest my only experience of tech is the Amstrad emailer phone, the Sinclair C5 and the Blackberry Playbook.

What I mean is I never click on little digital thumb symbols to give my unadulterated approval of anything I see on the Internet. It is beset with implication.

It is such an easy thing to do and I often think I would love to give a simple little nod of approval to an article that's posted or a comment made. A nice way to encourage the author to keep up with their fine work.

The problem is I'm aware that the simple little LIKE feature can be a powerful tool in the hands of a menacing Corporate Social Media baron.

Say for instance I read a great tip on how on how to mend a leak in a Dutch levee and so added my approval. Before long and unbeknownst to me, my contacts may be bestowed with the message that Vince likes Dykes. My mates would exclaim, "Crikes, Vince likes Dykes."

As you can see I am no longer controlling my Internet profile. It is being blown out of proportion to my original simple and contemporary appreciation of my friend Michael's great posting on travelling Dutch waterways - Mike's Bike Hikes On Dykes - if you're interested.*

I personally wish the LIKE button remained just an innocent way to compliment something and where I would most appreciate this function is when I'm out and about on the road.

Imagine a LIKE button feature on cars using a simple dash mounted switch to display a screen mounted message. Wouldn't it be great if you could just flick your knob every time you saw something you appreciated on the road. And a little LED screen message popped up with the word LIKE.

You could use this to commend other motorists on good behaviour such as being let out of a side turning, leaving a proper stopping distance or generally getting out of my way when I'm trying to get home quickly to listen to a live video podcast.

I would love to get an acknowledged thumbs up for a great overtaking manoeuvre I had just performed or perhaps to dish one out as appreciation of you bringing out your posh new sports car on a wet Wednesday.

The natural extension of the motoring LIKE button is the obverse DISLIKE message. This would be applied for commenting on bad driving such as cutting in, poor lane discipline or running over a child.

And in this interconnected world the messages could be linked. When a LIKE or DISLIKE is given it could be Bluetoothly transferred between vehicles. In this way all the LIKEs and DISLIKEs could be tallied up over a period to give a measure on how considerate a driver you are.

The downside would be that before long this score would be wiretoothed to your insurance company to affect your premium. And unlike Stock Markets this value never seems to go down as well as up no matter how many LIKEs you would receive.

Another vehicle to vehicle message could be based on the the 'blue flag' indicator commonly seen in F1 racing. Imagine having an illuminated blue lamp to signify that the car behind is going quicker and is wanting to get past.

I travel, ahem, promptly but always leave a good stopping distance. This can confuse the average, ambling, myopic driver ahead, loping along thoughtlessly in an outer lane. He hasn't used his rear view mirror since 1973 and refuses to use the perfectly adequate and strangely empty lane to his inside but will politely move over if it is bought to his startling attention that another car is on the road and wishes to travel quicker. Even if on passing he immediately re-engages his previous position once more in that unfathomable lane change manoeuvre.

The 'I want to overtake you blue flag light' would be more polite than the traditional aggressive flash, the inside lane parallel formation drive with attendant shrug or the oft-used rear approach to within 6mm of the bumper. The latter being the favoured approach by drivers with four interlocking rings on their grille.

Incidentally all small Japanese cars driven by the elderly will have to have their blue flag message light illuminated every three minutes by law as they are invariably in the way.

I say bring on car to car comms. I would LIKE that.

P.S. if you like this blog click the LIKE button. I know I wouldn't.

P.P.S. *Did you really Google this?

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Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.198 25 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 5 May 2013 [where there is an actual LIKE button. Go there and press if you feel so inclined]
Inter-vehicular comms, known now as V2V, were first proposed within an education document authored by Chai K Toh in 2001



Soul Trading

From the vinceunlimited WordPress site dated 13 Mar 2013

Contract or permanent, that is the question?
Whether 'tis nobler in the industry to suffer
the slings and arrows of outraged employees
Or take arms against a drying sea of Contracts

I apologise Mr Shakespeare but your soliloquy does help present a conundrum I have wrestled with lately.

Contract or permanent, that is the question? And I think the answer lies in time.

Often employees are subject to a three month trial. I'm not sure of the legal validity but it is common to hear this. So, if someone has lasted just three months in a company as an employee you may be entitled to ask why? On the other hand Contract work, being more ephemeral means three month assignments are more commonplace so the same suspicion may not arise.

However extend that duration to one year and there is real dilemma.

Consider first that this was a permanent position. A year as an employee initially suggests that the role was sufficiently carried out. The 'three month trial period' was easily surpassed so any failings would show well within this time but why just a year in a 'permanent' post? Questions of unfulfilled ambition and restlessness start to emerge and no one wants to waste money recruiting this attitude. Is there natural negativity here?

However, look at the exact same individual taking the exact same job on a Contract basis. This time any trail period was over in the first week and Contracts are usually job based so a whole year assignment suggests a successful conclusion. Here there is only a feeling of positivity.

So unless that employer is offering more than a year of work go Contract. And who can guarantee more than a year these days?

So permanent positions...

...by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end

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Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.197 24 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 13 Mar 2013



Minnie's Mini's Mini

From the vinceunlimited WordPress site dated 24 Dec 2012

A rather battered green two door Corgi Toy Mini with red hand painted door, roof and bonnet.  A large blue 'o' is on the door, the suspension is collapsing and the tyres and trim are damaged
It would take more than the skills of Jony Ive to fit an iPad in here

The two subjects that most interest me at the moment are cars and computers and they do so for much the same reason.

Both technologies are full of shiny new things promising thrilling, interactive experiences barely limited by previous experience. And integration of the two is becoming closer. Or more specifically, the computery stuff is getting more and more wedged in the cars, as I've yet to see anyone promising actual reality travel on a mobile phone chassis.

The self-park, auto-cruise, blind-spot, iPod-connected, SatNav world of our auto-world is coming along nicely. However whilst a new phone, laptop or operating system is muted a few months ahead of release new cars take much longer to develop, possibly years. The cost of getting a chassis wrong is much greater than accidentally releasing a heavy, spiky edged laptop in purple that fails to attract an audience. If your latest hatchback is a dog the whole breed can suffer and we do not forgive easily [do we poor Lancia?].

But cars are increasingly having to differentiate themselves by their included technology, perhaps because they find it so difficult to distinguish themselves in the homogenous world of exterior automotive design.

As an example, my car, a year 2000 Jaguar, could be an all time classic because the dials and gauges on display look like they developed glacially from a WWII Spitfire but the simple green-LED trip computer, inbuilt text only SatNav and multi-CD changer date it, by sheer coincidence, to around the year 2000. No Bluetoothing, WiFi enabled MP3s here. Electro-technology develops at a vastly different speed than mechanical stuff.

So my first thought was why not combine the two. It's happening a little bit with iPod connections in almost every new car, allowing a feed of your latest downloaded beats into the built in car speakers. But this cable connector dangles the device on the seat next to you so when the new MapApp is opened it's hardly conducive to safe viewing.

As I've said, some now incorporate all that SatNavery, iPoddery and SeatAdjustery into their colourful, dash mounted, fingerprinty, widescreen displays but in a decade or less won't they seem just a little bit, say, 2012ish.

The answer lies in an updatable colourful, dash mounted, fingerprinty, widescreen display that can move with the times. And the computer world is conveniently supplying these already.

Initially the iPad seemed the answer. A popular and current, ever customisable device that has secured a solid foothold in the market. But few cars could afford the dash space for a plug-in behemoth the size of a small plate of kippers. Then Apple released the Mini. All the adaptability of a full sized tablet almost designed to fit in a reasonable dash opening.

If you were currently launching your latest Sports Utility GTi 4 x 4 convertible Sportwagon hatch wouldn't it make sense to let Apple or even others such as Samsung do the flatscreen bit for you so you can concentrate on the important things like finding ever more inventive ways to incorporate cup-holders?

Your new dash-tablet could be programmed to interact with your car in ever more cunning ways, such as service/sensor monitoring, lap timing and cheap fuel finding. And there are a host of third parties that will do the awkward development bit of this for you. Just charge a fee for your API integration. Simples.

OK you will have to allow some small flexibility over choice of device that will fit in, in case your Audi owner went for Android, your Mercedes customer wanted a Mac or your Westfield's chap wanted a Windows device if they choose to. OK silly point, no one who buys a car with the intention of wearing a flat cap will want a screen that does more than show the oil pressure warning lamp.

Just one caveat. When I specified my Jaguar I could have been at the forefront of this technology/car interfacing. But right now my car would be fitted with a great big plug-in Motorola StarTAC flip-phone. And who wants one of those today?

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Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.196 23 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 24 Dec 2012
Apple's Car Play, their software integration within existing vehicle display screens, was first introduced two years after this article was written in Mar 2014 and Google's Android Auto followed a year later in March 2015



The Social Medium

From the vinceunlimited WordPress site dated 11 Sep 2012

I don't like what you post on FaceBook. Or the way that Twitter is used. I'm annoyed why photo sharing sites are ignored and think that most LinkedIn comments are preposterous. But don't worry, all is fine.

I suspect you feel the same about my use of social media. And probably the way your other contacts do all this as well. It's because there are no rules here so we make up our own.

The reason that I dislike all this is that you don't use these social networks as they should be used. Which is to say that you don't use them in the way that I interpret they should be used. I'll give you an example.

I don't use FaceBook to store and distribute my digital photograph collections. For a start I would think it presumptuous to assume you'd like to see them all and I do like to keep some of my life to myself. Plus if I wanted to share shed-loads of pretty pictures I'd use a proper photo-sharing site, like Flickr. It's the way it was first devised and shall always remain so.

Some selective photos of mine are published on FB which may be of interest to the few friends and family I save this site for. And every one of them is in focus I might add.

Ephemeral photos that I take are much more suited to the casual nature of Tweeting so you only get to see these if you follow me there.

Which brings me neatly onto the issue of followers and contacts. And a specific question. Why do you have so many? Yes, on the face of it it seems flattering that so many others want to be in your gang but there is a limit to these things and too many lessen the impact. It is a privilege to be considered a friend but not if everyone is. And I think it impossible to follow the posts of more than fifty or so active others, across all sites. So how do you manage your seventy, seven hundred or several thousand?

So this is how you should use Social Media.

At present FaceBook is the worst of the lot. It has become a dumping ground for everything that is good or bad in social media and tries to emulate and steal the ideas from every other format. It wants your posts, your pictures, your locations, your timeline, your soul. By all means use this as a one stop shop if you know no better but as you are are reading this I guess you do know better so don't!

If FB must be used, use it only for close friends and family. Restrict posts to interesting things about what you are getting up to. If you need to arrange a meeting use the phone or text.

Only share photo collections on photo-sharing sites such as Flickr. And group them by activity, event or date. With all miscellaneous content clearly labelled so. And just delete the duplications and the ones with your damn thumb in the corner.

Don't however treat Instagram as a photo sharing site. Use this to create interesting, vivid content not as a place to dump every photo of parties, pies and peers.

Respect your Twitter stream by properly following just a handful of people who genuinely interest you, whether they be friends, famous or followable.

Your friends and relations do like to see where you are and what you are doing there so use a site designed for this purpose such as FourSquare. Or if you are watching something try sharing with GetGlue.

Keep LinkedIn professional. Only post relevant notes about your career and work related issues. And no avatar photos of you on a beach or the piste, unless that is your workplace.

If you can't think of anything amusing, pertinent or interesting to say post nothing. And when a thought enters your mind carefully choose the appropriate medium.

Only selectively requote or link to other peoples content. Stop constantly referencing other people's stuff. If I had an interest in their diatribe I'd find it myself. Save the plagiarism for satirists.

And finally, ignore Google+ because that upsets geeks, was far too late for the party and Google should stick to searching.

Only please don't do any of the above. Because you are you not me.

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Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.195 14 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 11 Sep 2012



Birth of a Car

From the vinceunlimited WordPress site dated 27 Aug 2012

A remarkable thing happened two days ago. I saw a TV advert for a car I had not previously seen.

No, not an unforeseen TV advert. They happen frequently. Not frequently enough to make the programme intermissions tolerable but frequently enough to make my opening gambit a little more interesting. No, it was the car I couldn't recall seeing before.

Now this may be relatively common to many of you. After all that is one of the three key objectives of advertisements, to introduce new things and you are forgiven for not being as interested in new cars as I am. Few are.

In case you were wondering what the other two main advertising objectives are, the second is the necessity to ingrain concepts, products and trademarks into our subconscious. After all we all know beans, hamburgers and replacement glazing products exist. But just as importantly you are already subconsciously thinking Cross & Blackwell, Wendy's and that annoying, shouty man who knocks over the window panes. Weren't you?

The third key element in advertising is the attempt to make you purchase that which you had no intention to do so. Chocolate, trips to the Isle of Wight and the unnecessary replacement of perfectly good settees fall into this category.

I too am subjected to many new things in advertising, be they two for ones, money squirrelling or feminine hygiene products only an engineering graduate could master. Although I think I've acquired all knowledge a man ever needs to know about comparing insurance rates. However it is rare that I ever see a TV advert for a car that I had not seen before.

I am a confirmed petrol head. In the past I have confessed more to worshipping at the feet of Clarkson than showing any affinity for God, Buddha, Ganesh or any of the other normal deities. And I use a diverse method of feeding my brain so consume much news, commentary and opinion from a wide range of sources. I really should have it all covered before an expensive TV advert is launched.

After all a car is not cracked out of an egg suddenly. It does not emerge from a birth canal. It isn't dropped from an alien spacecraft. No, it is conceived, presented in an wildly, exaggerated form, discussed and touted long before spanner meets galvanised panel. And at each process the media is fed snippets and prose to both build the tension and test the theory. And my collated media covers all this with animated glory.

Yet yesterday I saw a vehicle I had never set eyes on before. And it wasn't even one of those dreary, soulless, forgetful Korean products either. This was a curvaceous sports coupe. And not even from a tinpot niche maker. This was from one of Japan's mega machine suppliers.

In truth the car was already in my radar scope. It was on the front page of TopGear magazine which was given to me the day before. I had not yet had a chance to read this so it had languished in the magazine rack. I suspect it was also in the car blog I follow but work has prevented much blog reading lately. So it got through my net.

By now you may be wondering what this magical beast was. That is if you're not wondering when this diatribe will eventually end. But I have chosen not to do the final reveal as it isn't really the point. The denouement should not weaken the preceding opinions and in this case the mystery will be more tantalising. Whether your head is made of petrol or not.

Apart from that I saw another one today.

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Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.194 13 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 27 Aug 2012



Olympics 2012

From the vinceunlimited WordPress site dated 20 Aug 2012

The concrete, interlocking, five Olympic rings high on a hill overlooking Portland

So rarely something happens that changes our perceptions so completely it takes you a bit by surprise. The 2012 London Olympic Games was a rare example of this. And from what I hear and read I'm not the only one who has had to refocus their original opinion.

A BMW 3-series 320d painted in the orange, yellow and white Olympic branding
An official Olympic branded BMW 320d passes by close to my front door

My thoughts about the 'OGs', as I shall refer to them to avoid a lot of finger pressing, started earlier than most. Yes we all had a passing interest when we heard that we beat the French in the first game of the season by winning the rights to spend a fortune on the spectacle. But a lot of thoughts turned elsewhere very soon. After all, you can only do so many laps of French gloating.

But I thought there may be quite an overlap between the OGs and myself. I earn my tech-spend money in construction and moved in close enough circles to think I may get some work out of this massive money pit. Not only in planning and commercially running some of the work but also in the likely delay and disruption claims that seemed sure to follow in the subsequent three years.

But the Lord Coe & Co had other plans and secured the construction via an alternate consortium who for some peculiar reason managed to build it all on time and within budget. Leaving me with no pie encased finger and nothing to pick over later.

I was never asked to lift a finger to help. And from history it seems this was a shrewd move by LOCOG. Ahem.

So it was with the rest of you that I did the marathon ignorance of the whole caboodle until the organisers started a spectacle of individuals chundering through the countryside with a naked Greek flame. Even then my cynicism vented through my first words as I tweeted '..As the Olympic torch relay passes from worthy individual to worthy individual. Each carefully selected from those without eBay accounts..'

A mid-size coach painted in the orange, yellow and white Olympic branding
Another official Olympic vehicle passing by. This time a coach

But soon I became quite fond of the procession. Instead of seeming repetitive the flame relay with its smart convoy of BMWs, buses and outriders became quite the thing. I wanted to see it all but not so much as to bother to move from my front porch. Then it went past the porch and I got all fan-like again.

I then had reason to visit London on a couple of occasions and felt a palpable frenzy in the air. London, washed clean and made green by the preceding months rain, smelt fresh and the £11bn expenditure was everywhere. Particularly in the never-ending barriers. Even the Olympic lanes looked right. And there was still a week to go.

And when the sport started and the infectious crowds recorded by our rightly partisan broadcaster got into the swing I started to regret not paying a small mortgage on the chance of seeing a sport I wouldn't normally cross the park to observe.

And so normality got put on hold. Meaning for me, I barely posted a Tweet. Subconsciously avoiding tempting fate because as you all know if I said "Ooh, this is Good" almost certainly Katherine Grainger wouldn't have won Gold and Steve Redgrave would have missed out on his hug. And I couldn't do that, could I? Even worse I wondered how poignant praise may be if Johnny Terrorist suddenly decided to let rip. In hindsight he seemed to have been as engrossed as we were.

I'm not saying everything was perfect as some commentators have suggested. The overuse of the word historic for the event and individual contributions had been both abundant and annoying. In wearing my pedant hat either everything is historic or nothing is. A first woman's boxing win may be classed as such but a double gold in two events or multiple successes or medalling may be repeated again. And the event itself, no matter how much we enjoyed it is not historic in the way it was suggested.

An aeroplane awaiting passengers painted in the orange, yellow and white Olympic branding
Even aeroplanes parked up nearby for various visiting Olympic dignitaries

I also noticed not every medal winner was happy. I'm particularly thinking of the Silver medallists. When Gold was earned it was either great joy or relief. Bronzees did the same. But the guys who got Silver often looked pretty miffed. I presume this is because Silver was seen as failing to get Gold. The reason why Bronze medallion wearers were equally as proud as the Golden guys was that they could rightly be classed an Olympic medal winner. And they weren't fourth.

My final thought has to go to the legacy. After all that's what won the bid for the Brits over the French and The London Olympic Committee can be glad that this will manifest itself in two distinct ways.

Firstly the games legacy will inspire a nation of young fit athletes. In Jamaica.

And more importantly, the London 2012 font will inspire a whole load of copycat writing. Mark my words [with an angular felt tip pen].

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Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.193 12 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 20 Aug 2012
The photographs were all taken by the author and added to the website in Version 5.193 12 Sep 2018
The header photograph shows the concrete Olympic Rings structure erected on the hill above Portland, Weymouth and was taken on 2 October 2014, more than two years after the 2012 Olympic Games had finished
The other photographs show the special liveried Olympics 2012 sponsored cars, coaches and aeroplanes and were taken in Southampton on 15 Jul 2012



Smart

From the vinceunlimited WordPress site dated 19 Jul 2012

Does it pay to be smart?

If you are in the need of new staff you want the best don't you? You want someone who is smart. Your business needs smart. There's enough dumb around and smart is better than stupid, right?

All positions are about risk and opportunity and if you hire smart the risk is reduced and the opportunity increased. A smart manager will hire smart staff. Don't you agree? Or maybe not?

You need to fill a role and you meet a really smart candidate. This candidate will present great future opportunity and fantastically improve your business. It's a no brainier. You want smart and there they are right in front of you. All you have to do is make the offer.

But you hesitate. You know there is a real downside to smart.

Firstly, smart is good, possibly too good for the role you have in mind. Smart will soon become disenchanted and want to move on so you will have to hire all over again.

Or smart will move on taking all your company skills with them. Nothing worse than having smart only for smart to get better and then move to the opposition.

Even worse smart may rise through the ranks. You know smart rises to the top and between smart and the top is you. If you're not smart, smart may become you. It takes a brave person indeed to hire someone smarter than they are. Are you that brave?

All I can say is that I'm smart. But don't worry. I'm not quite as smart as you.

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Author: Vince Poynter
Version 5.192 11 Sep 2018
First published: WordPress 19 Jul 2012