Wednesday, 16 September 2015

How to instantly improve LinkedIn

So, I think we can all agree; LinkedIn kinda sucks.

Sure, you can show off your pimped up CV to the world and connect with complete strangers for absolutely no reason...but the user experience is awful.

What's it about anyway?

I often hear LinkedIn being touted as 'Facebook for business people'. Which I suppose might make sense, given that it has its own timeline feature, you can have profile and banner pics, and you can create your own company page too. But, on all counts it massively fails in comparison to the Zuckerberg giant.

Whenever, I look at my main LinkedIn timeline I see a hotch-potch mix of status updates, sponsored rubbish, viral 'inspirational' graphics and suggested roles for me (usually based more than 100 miles from my home). If I do see something that interests me but I choose to click on something else first and come back...when I click back on my browser, my timeline has totally and inexplicably changed!

A simple solution

And this is where my bug bear and solution comes in - the timeline. Twitter, Facebook and Google+ all allow you to categorise your connections and who you follow. LinkedIn doesn't. Of all the social networks, LinkedIn is the one which TOTALLY SHOULD have this feature.

What a treat it would be to be able to stick all my colleagues into one (let's call it a) bundle while all my acquaintances, influencers and friends in to other bundles. I could, if I wanted to, bypass the main timeline altogether and go straight to the people who post quality content and avoid the 'First Word You See' wordsearches (*shudders*).

Another awesome Facebook feature, which would naturally improve LinkedIn would be the ability to unfollow other users without disconnecting from them. Again, this would instantly enhance the user experience in regards to the status updates and post notifications you see.

So there. Two easily adaptable/easily stolen features for LinkedIn to consider. Because at present, I just can't be bothered with it and the only reason I log in is for my company page.

What do you think?

Oh oh oh! And one more - as an administrator on a company page with reporting responsibilities, would it KILL LinkedIn to develop an export function!? Seriously folks, get on it.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Would you take your kid to a football game?

I had a conversation recently about the pros and cons of taking your kid to a football game. Traditionally, I viewed football matches as a place for men. Yeah, yeah I know - so sexist and yes I agree but the reality is that it is still mainly a male past time.

Is it wise to allow your young one to be in an environment where language can be, ahem, choice or where certain songs are at best, questionable?

I am a Rangers FC fan, whereas my wife and her side are mostly Celtic FC fans. She knows full well the kinds of banter, which goes on between both sets of fans. I'm sure it's the same for other rivalries too; Liverpool vs Man Utd, Giants vs Jets, Madrid vs Barcelona, Knicks vs Celtics.

For this post I really just have football (soccer) in mind. Many stadiums now have family sections with things like face painting and goodie bags. However, a football game is still a football game and unless you're packing noise protectors, it's likely there'll be some things you just can't avoid.

So, here are five pros and cons...


Getting your kid to follow 'your team' from a young age. Embedding the culture of the club in their psyche from the earliest possible point.


Do you really want to be the kind of parent that forces your child into anything? Ultimately, this is denying them the choice to get involved with either another team or even another sport.


Letting them enjoy a big game atmosphere and lap up the euphoria of being the winning team!


There's a 50/50 chance the team will lose. And when they do, the accompanying language and misery from supposedly adult males would turn the air sour.


Enjoying the banter and songs on the supporters bus on the way to the game. What's better than everyone singing along to get pumped up for the game.


Depending on the team you support, particularly in the west of Scotland, certain songs are not what you want your innocent young protege knowing.


Your kid will instantly discover a new hero; whether it's the start forward, the classy midfielder or the burly defender. They will emulate him and use him as a totem for the foreseeable future.


You will be required by parenting law to purchase the replica kit. Oh and that will also have to have to the player's name and number at additional cost too!


Having a team and identity as a supporter adds to the enthusiasm your young 'un will develop to get into the sport. Surely this is a good thing?


As any dad who used to play schoolboy football will attest; the chance of 'making it' is a million to one. Suddenly you have a kid who couldn't be bothered with their school work and is filling in their Burger King application form.

Okay, so that's kind of a bleak worst case scenario.

Would you do it? Is there a minimum age before you can hit the big match with little Jimmy or Jemma?

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Happy Birthday!

Where have the past two years gone?

Grace, daughter number one, completed her second year yesterday. To celebrate, we visited Igglepiggle and the gang at the In The Night Garden Live show at Queen's Park in Glasgow. We followed that with a special birthday lunch at Pizza Hut, which was probably just as much for us as it was for Grace...

The show was fantastic. Check out my note in 'Family Fun' for full details but suffice to say, it was well worth the money; they really have it nailed for the children and the parents.

At Gymboree on Saturday, we got a special Happy Birthday song and rendition of Grace's favourite song 'Twinkle Twinkle' too. She is really starting to understand the fact that all these things, along with the visitors, cards and gifts are about her. It's been lovely to see her getting a bit of special treatment (although, as parents, we will keep her grounded in her future expectations!).

Watching her grow and learn over the past two years has just been, and every day is, so much fun. Her speech is coming on, she's getting stronger and can already count to ten. Okay, so she doesn't really understand what numbers are but hey, I still find it impressive!

I would like to see her speech progress a bit faster but nursery looms this year and I think that will really help. We have been lucky in having Julie's dad to take her during the day while we have been at work. However, a young mind really needs more than Papa's conversation, so the extended time with wee people her own age will hopefully turn her words into full sentences.

I think we are doing a good job though. She is well behaved, learns quickly, is gentle with her sister and constantly wants to explore. I can't wait to learn what the year ahead has in store.

Do you have a toddler? Any tips for helping with speech development?

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Social Morality

I seem to recall hearing this phrase a number of times in the last few days: 'social morality'. It's an interesting one because it is perceived to be easy to understand, even though completely vague.
'Social morality' to one man, woman or whole culture might be completely opposite to the other. One might say it means things like, 'being good to others and causing no harm' or 'giving money to the poor'. But even both those phrases for example can be broken down and questioned.
So let's think about the phrase 'social morality' firstly by its component parts...
What is meant by 'social'? Is 'social' to mean interaction among people or just something that is in the public domain for all to see and interact with? Is 'social' to mean that we must not be alone and that we can only function or show our morality if we are in the presence of people? If you ask Google to define 'social' it more or less confirms that a) a collective group or community and b) the idea of company and companionship.
We can confidently say that 'social' means some form of togetherness. Being social, whether you do it online or face to face, is what makes us human. Sure, people like me, can be introverted but at some point we need to interact with someone else. Why else would we exist? I'd imagine that is a whole other discussion!
Okay, that's probably the easy part. What about 'morality'? If you asked just about anyone what they thought 'morals' or 'morality' meant, they'd most likely give a broad answer along the lines of "being a decent person".
Is that enough though? So let's look at it:
What makes us decent?
a) giving to the vulnerable
b) helping a frail elderly neighbour
c) caring for an upset friend
d) being quiet and reading books all day
e) all of the above
I guess it would be easy to say all of the above, except 'd'. That just makes us a bit boring. There's no denying that if that were the case then yes, one might label that person a tad boring. But suppose the reason they were reading was to learn or to write their own book or to simply enjoy a good story; is that not decent? By doing something, at worst harmless and at best, inspiring, is that not decent? They might not carry out outwardly heroic tasks as described in a-c but they are no less decent.
Let's think about option 'c'. Say that my friend has just broken up with his girlfriend and I take him to the pub for a consolatory drink. The drink turns into more than a few and we both end up drunk. Because he is upset, he says a couple of stupid things to another guy and a fight breaks out. At the end of it, my friend is in a jail cell for assaulting the other gent. When my friend wakes up the next day he immediately feels remorse. He understands that he has committed wrongdoing and expresses regret at his actions. I simply console and understand that he let his mixture of negative emotions and alcohol get the better of him and that it was an out of character act. I understand that my friend is a decent person with positive morals who, for an instance, failed.
So we understand that 'morality' means to live by a set of values in which we understand the basics of right and wrong i.e. do no harm to others and be a good citizen. That is on the understanding that I am not mixing in any religious doctrine here. A Christian or a Muslim's idea of morality will inevitably be bound with rules as set out in their respective books.
Combining the two words again then: 'social morality'. We can comfortably say something like, "Living as a citizen of the human race, inflicting no harm on fellow citizens and understanding ours and others' imperfections as well as qualities."

A Weird Week

This has been a weird week. I feel like I have irreversibly changed following the news. The graphic images we have been subjected to this week of that wee boy deepy moved me. Those images, I can honestly say, I will never forget. They are burned into my conscience.
I cried. I cried when I saw the news reports and then again just lying in bed at night.
I mean, I see news reports every day showcasing the worst of humanity but this one really arrowed me like nothing else. The fact is, when I saw those images, I saw my own daughter. Or at least, I recognised that - but for having the good fortune of being born in another part of the world - we are lucky. I don't know if that's the right word to use but I can't think of anything else. When I looked at Grace running round our living room like a crazy person; a big smile on her face, I was simultaneously feeling joy and guilt.

Why should we be able to laugh and enjoy these experiences when other parents are busy drowning at sea along with their toddlers?
It's a question I have really been struggling to comprehend this week. I don't think I'll ever find a suitable answer and to be honest, I'm at the point where shutting my eyes and trying to de-sensitise myself seems like a better option. But I won't.
Facebook announced this week that it had over one BILLION users in a single day. Could you imagine if even a fraction of that number lent its collective voice? I read as many people having a bitch about Google's new logo and it just seemed so...ludicrous!
If you are friends with me on Facebook, you will have seen my call to parents to hug your child just a wee bit tighter from now on. I'm sure no parent needs telling. It was more of a call to action to myself to appreciate basic things in life more than I do at present.

I have been reading Alain de Botton's The Consolation of Philosophy. The second chapter discusses Epicurus' take on living, which was fairly simple but at the same time seems stupidly difficult to achieve. His three tenets of leading a satifying life are: friendship (or companionship), freedom and the ability to think with reason. I'm not going to go into a book study here but suffice to say, I think I can do better on all three fronts. One thing the book has so far helped me with, this week especially, is in prompting me to question the happenins of the world. Unfortunately, my philosophical brain is not yet developed enough to conjure rationale from the needless death of human beings.
That's about it. I hope if you read this post I haven't brought you down. I just ask folks to think harder in an age of mindless social media comments and 24/7 live news coverage.
Do your bit

Lend your support too. I donate to the following charities each month. I donate a fiver to each, which works out as only £20. It's not a lot but it's all I can personally afford at the moment. Try and give a wee bit if you can.