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Vastly experienced, versatile senior technical asset with a broad range of highly evolved skills from team building to high-level technology solution implementations. A courageous and tenacious leader with proven experience in business development, organisational visioning, cutting edge information technology deployments, and as a senior management liaison. Experienced at working at all levels from Start-up to Corporate, I thrive on change and take the lead to engage and drive the engineering landscape in any business

An outgoing personality, with high energy levels who is customer focused but understands the need for a structured approach to business.

A mature and collaborative style provides excellent communication and presentation skills and, drawing on past experience, gives the credibility to build trust.

A strategic thinker, who is innovative and creative and makes technically 'savvy' decisions and encourages others to do so, whilst totally focused on success and how this drives results.

Spread Spectrum Modulation Techniques

As an ex military satellite communications engineer I certainly remember working with spread spectrum modulation and also frequency hopping technology in the 1980's. Wireless Local Area Networking technology today exploits a technology which was thitherto mostly hidden inside this shadowy domain of military communications and radar. This technology comprises a collection of ideas which are termed Spread Spectrum Techniques (SST). Spread Spectrum techniques have some powerful properties which make them an excellent candidate for networking applications. To better understand why, we will take a closer look at this fascinating area, and its implications for networking.

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Another Spring Cobbler Climb

It was almost a whim which made us decide to make The Cobbler our first climb of the year. We'd left it late for sure. We're normally out there bashing about the hills throughout the winter but this year was different because of the work we had been doing in the house and my own multiple commitments elsewhere.

I'd spent the previous two weeks feeling pretty poor with a mixture of back pain and virus but the weather gods were smiling today. There was nothing stopping us. Had they not been, weaker motivation may have crumbled but even today with the weakest motivation and the briefest preparation, there was only one outcome.

So off we went. When we arrived we jumped out the car and were so eager to get on with it we even forgot the fruit wed bought specifically for the climb. If you know the path up The Cobbler, you'll know that the first section is a pretty tough, winding slog up through the forests which cover the steep lower slopes of the hill and border Loch Long. It was during this section that I discovered that, despite my porridge breakfast and my sirloin steak/fish finger dinner the night before, I had little to no energy in my body. It was all I could do to place one leg in front of the other for a while but I took frequent rests and somehow managed to slog on. I was gutted. It was a lovely day and Brian (and I) had never seen the view from the top of this mountain without it being obscured by clouds. Today was to be that day, but how. I was exhausted and didn't feel like I had anything in reserve. I promised Id make it to the reservoir by hook or by crook and despite plenty of puffing and wheezing we got there and let the dogs play in the water.

At this point, after a bit of a break, I felt a little better and said I'd like to carry on to the shelter stones and decide there whether or not I could carry on. Once there we made up some energy drink from a sachet and I gulped it down. Again the break made me feel like I could go on just a little bit more so I committed to make it up to the point where the path splits 3 ways to head off for Beinn Narnain, Ben Ime and The Cobbler. As I walked the sugars in my stomach seemed to energise me with every step. I was still hurting but it was becoming less of a problem.

When we got to the 3 way split we stopped again and had a good break. The final and steepest part of the climb loomed above me like a skyscraper but I'd decided if I could make it this far I could make it to the top. After popping 3 dextrose tablets we set off. The final part of the climb is like a long hellish staircase with stones of all sizes making up the crazy paving stairs. It was a tough stretch but, with the help of plenty of breaks and the knowledge we were nearly there, we made it. As you can see from the picture at the top, the views were well worth the slog. Spectacular! 

After a linger at the windy top to take in the majesty, it was time to head back down the path to the delights of the chip shop and the chance to undo some of the healthy goodness we'd subjected ourselves to. Well, life is all about striking a happy balance. What a great day!

 

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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Having recently finished reading Aldous Huxley's great prophetic masterpiece Brave New World, I thought I’d blog a little about the book and how it left me feeling. This book is no stranger to analysis being, as it is, a course book in many academic settings. That it is so, is no surprise. The book is one of the earliest mainstream examples of dystopian literature. First published in 1932 at the height of the great depression, the novel was written in Huxleys house in France. It was his fifth novel and first dystopian work. Huxley himself regarded the novel as a parody of the utopian novels of HG Wells which were extremely popular at the time, referring to it as a negative utopia.

The first thing which struck me about the book were the strong Shakespearian references throughout.

There are perceived allusions to both Hamlet and The Tempest among others however the most obvious nods are to these two plays. The Tempest has been often described as an allegory of imperialism since Prospero, the rightful Duke Of Milan decides to impose his values on the monstrous Caliban. The World State can be seen as the great civilising power sanctioning as it does, only English. The novel gives the impression that all other world cultures have been suppressed globally except for a few ‘reservations’. The character John further resemblees Caliban in that he becomes known as ‘The Savage” when he enters the mainstream world.

Furthermore, as the novel develops, the allusions to Hamlet become more apparent as John tries to balance his two weltanshauungen and their conflicting effects. He is an avid fan of Shakespeare and it seems Hamlet is his favourite play. In the novel there is no evidence of religion. The reader finds out that this is because God is incompatible with the automated mechanised society. The message is that society has eliminated suffering and therefore doesn't need God anymore.

It turns out that Huxleys Brave New World isn't just a portent about science, its also a warning about education and by extension, the media. The reality which becomes apparent is that it is possible to create any required reality in the minds of the citizens by constantly drip feeding them any truth as needed. In the novel, the mechanism used is called hypnopedia however the horrific parallels to modern life with its unabating indoctrinating media are clear. The warnings are stark. Question everything. Make up your own mind. Criticise. Doubt. Assume nothing. Every media agency in the world has its own agenda. Even the so called friendly ones. While were still in a position to seek out the truth its everybody responsibility to do so. Lets not mess things up.

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Hamlets Soliloquy

To be, or not to be--that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep--

No more--and by a sleep to say we end

The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep--

To sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub,

For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,

Must give us pause. There's the respect

That makes calamity of so long life.

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,

Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely

The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,

The insolence of office, and the spurns

That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,

When he himself might his quietus make

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,

But that the dread of something after death,

The undiscovered country, from whose bourn

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,

And makes us rather bear those ills we have

Than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,

And thus the native hue of resolution

Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,

And enterprise of great pitch and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry

And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now,

The fair Ophelia! -- Nymph, in thy orisons

Be all my sins remembered.

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The Army Poses 7 Questions - Can Business Try It?

One of the major fundamentals of the doctrinal training of commanders in the British Army is what is known as The Combat Estimate. The Combat Estimate, when applied to a situation, provides a systematic mechanism with which to shake out a plan as a response to a situation framed within a given set of requirements. The application of the 7 questions as a planning tool ensures that all of the influencing factors which are pertinent to any situation are built into a plan which seeks to secure a given aim. That aim can be the storming of a well defended bunker, the destruction of an enemy fuel depot or indeed the organisation of a trip to the Alps to teach a group to ski. As is often the case with military doctrine, it is as applicable to a military situation as it is to a civilian one. Its value lies in its ability to systematically break down a complex environment in such a way as to methodically define the important influencing elements which are relevant to a particular aim. One may imagine that such martial thoroughness would be well placed in the business boardroom and one would be correct.

The Combat Estimate (7 Questions) is one of 3 methods that the British Army uses to parse complex sets of circumstances for the purpose of systematic analysis. The other two methods are called The Operational Estimate and The Tactical Estimate. Of the three, the Combat Estimate really comes into its own in situations where quick planning which seeks to exploit and maintain a high tempo adversarial advantage is required. It is therefore best applied at the tactical and operational level. Lets look at the questions in turn;

  1. What is the adversary doing and why and/or what situation do I face and why, and what effect do they have on me? This is a bit of a mouthful but it effectively requires examination of the broad constraints which will serve to hamper ones ability to complete an objective. The key takeaway from this question is "assess and prioritise" What is happening and how does it fit into my priorities?
  2. What have I been told to do and why? It's essential to have a detailed understanding of the rationale behind what makes this task something that needs to be done. Furthermore, an ability to put oneself into the shoes of those in positions of authority whether that is your supervisor and their supervisor or indeed the broader needs of the organisation or company on who's behalf you are acting is beneficial. Are your actions to be part of a larger master plan? It's essential to build up this broader picture not only to understand how your task fits into other efforts but also to understand its priority, its dependants or antecedents, and more interestingly, what support you may be able to expect as you define interested parties more broadly. This information is one of the key components in the toolbox of the manager and their ability to motivate those involved in accomplishing the task.
  3. What effects do I need to have on the adversary or situation and what direction must I give to develop the plan? It is essential that you clearly understand your task and the intermediate key staging points which lead to its achievement. This is not only for your own clarity of purpose but also and perhaps more importantly as a basis of your ability to direct others in the execution of your plan. Having a clear and well structured definition of your aim ensures that you maintain your own focus not to mention are well able to articulate this to others within your purview which results, one hopes, in their taking of ownership of the task.
  4. Where and how can I best accomplish each action or effect? It is important to understand the situation thoroughly through the application of the previous questions and their outputs. At this stage one seeks to identify key resources, their priority and how to maintain control of them. It also begins to be possible to identify some lower level courses of action which will serve to consolidate into the broader strategy. A thorough examination of this question should produce a prioritisation of component parts of the overall strategy as well as an outline of the steps necessary to achieve each of them.
  5. What resources are needed to accomplish each action or effect? At this stage a planner, armed with the structured output of question 4 can begin to examine the resource requirements of each strand of the broader plan. Their earlier prioritisation assists in the allocation of resource where contention exists ensuring that resource whether manpower or equipment is distributed most efficiently. At this stage it also becomes clear whether it is necessary to request further resources as a prerequisite for the plans success. This question reaches both up and down your own command chain in order to ensure that the correct organisational capability is allocated. It is also the ideal time to revisit the output of question 2 and ensure that efforts and requirements are properly matched.
  6. When and where do the actions take place in relation to each other? It is important at this stage to begin to develop ones understanding of the temporal dimension of the plan. In a military environment this ensures that where potential exists for there to be conflict in the achievement of each effect, it is dealt with. In the boardroom, it enables individual strands of a broader planning structure to avoid duplication of effort or indeed the need to revisit certain actions. A useful tool to use at this stage is a timeline/sync matrix which provides a visual representation of the dependencies and outputs of each component part. A simple chart in the style of a Gantt chart is useful at this stage.
  7. What control measures to I need to impose? This question helps to define the boundaries of the plan as well as delineate the roles and responsibilities at a more granular level within the broader effort. By carefully examining this area we ensure that each of the component parts of our plan is equipped with the correct definition but also has sufficient scope of manoeuvre to flexibly respond to emergent conditions whilst keeping an eye on the end goal. By allocating an appropriate amount of responsibility one ensures that members of a team are able to utilise their own abilities to maximum effect in achieving the goal without stifling their latitude through unnecessary micro-management. In a business environment it is important to maintain awareness of budgetary limitations or perhaps cut-off dates.

The seven questions described above represent the systematic mechanism by which the military ensures that no facet of the overall planning landscape is overlooked. In military situations, such thoroughness is rewarded with minimising loss of life. Clearly it is therefore warranted however it is clear that business can benefit from such a structured approach to ensure the success of individual objectives up and down the chain of command. Throughout history civilian activity has embraced elements of military doctrine and procedure and will no doubt continue to do so. It is to be welcomed that the penalties in the business world very rarely extend to loss of life however where one seeks to do the best job possible with the resources available and in turn to minimise the chances of failure and their knock on effects, such thorough frameworks can clearly bring a great deal of value. Their application however piecemeal would seem to be a natural boon in the development of successful business practice in any field of operation.

Thanks for reading this post. It has been my pleasure to write it and I'd most certainly appreciate your feedback either by commenting on it in the comments section of my blog below or in the comments section on the platform you used to find it. I hope you also find some of my other posts on my blog of interest and am always happy to engage in discussion either online or offline in the development of these ideas. Happy planning.

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