The elasticated office

August 17, 2011

I am in the airport hotel in Honolulu, fiddling with my laptop. No hang on, that sounds all wrong. I am moving files on my computer and adjusting this and that. It strikes me that my computer is a lot more organised than my office, which is packed with unfindable pieces of paper at almost neutron star density. Why is that ?

Meanwhile, doing some web-meandering (so much more accurate than “surfing”) I came across this : an amusingly weird physically hyperlinked book. The pages are joined by coloured pieces of thread. Well, I am months out of date of course but hey ho. Then I remembered my great invention, which I have failed to patent after several years of boring people with the idea at coffee time : the elasticated office. Permit me to explain.

In my physical office, when I start a project I pluck things out of folders and filing cabinet sections, and make a working pile. For some days I work work work and the pile grows. Then, as I realise I need to start something else, I become conflicted. I know that I ought to put all those things away. But … the new project is of course terribly urgent. You know what wins. I put off the unsplicing and start a new pile. The inexorable result is a set of randomised piles of documents spread confusingly round the office. Entropy has done its thing yet again.

Now … when working on my computer there are no piles. I don’t move any files, you see. I open a file, clickety-click, and when I am done, I click that nice friendly X and — zip — it closes, and goes back where it came from ! On my Mac I can even make virtual piles, again without moving the docs, and when I am done I just delete the whole thing.

So… I suddenly realised what I need back in the physical world. Every paper document in every filing cabinet section should be on a piece of elastic ! I pull it out, read it, and when I am done, just let go, and — zip — it flies back to where it came from !! Bingo !

I realise there may be topological issues here, but I am working on it.

Mon ordinateur a ete cassee

June 1, 2009

Lessons I have learned this week. (i) Hold on to your laptop. (ii) Brush up your French. (iii) Never let your kids get hold of your work computer.

I have had emails asking if I am on holiday, as there haven’t been any blog posts recently. Well no, I have been in Strasbourg at the bi-annual IVOA interoperability shindig. Normally this wouldn’t stop me posting, but the first day I was there I dropped my lovely Macbook on the floor and as a result was without email for several days. I did get it fixed at an Apple store while still in Strasbourg, which stretched my Franglais considerably. (“Je crois que le disque dur est completement buggered”). However the automatic restore from my Time Machine failed, so I ended up with OS X 10.5 speaking French and had to figure out which library files to move one by one to recover my app settings and printer drivers and unix-y bits. My Mac was still speaking French in various unexpected circumstances until I took it to the Palo Alto Apple Store Genius Bar where a guru who looked like an enormous biker did some voodoo. He also spotted why my Time Machine restore failed : the name of my hard disc had changed back in February but nobody had told Time Machine as it were. Ah yes. I remember. Number four child (eight years old) borrowed my laptop to play Flash games on some website and when I got it back, my hard disc had been renamed “ererer”. He couldn’t quite remember how he had done this but I thought it was funny so I left it. Hah.

But at least its stopped me getting more depressed about STFC cuts.

Oh and the food was good. Just for Tony ….mmmmmm… Baeckoffe.