When Death Rushes Up

This is not a good way to greet the morning. Some words of tribute from afar …

When death rushes up,
We meet it as we are.
For some it comes swiftly, from the metal of a car.
For others the knife wounds, from the assailant himself.
For others death is stayed by the new bridge leap repertoire.

When death rushes up,
The trained run straight into the fray.
The soldier turned MP, suit sacrificed quickly for the sake of they.
The helicopter pilot, swooping in to extract the fallen.
The hands-on head doctor, applying skill to death allay.

When death rushes up,
The world stands in dismay.
Perplexed as to why, horrified as to death’s pathway.
What’s with our fellow humans,
That inflicting death on others is their own death’s preferred way?

When death rushes up,
Life often is shredded and torn.
For those who bid farewell in the morn,
And left for a “just another day” at work,
Don’t return home as evening’s born.

When death rushes up,
As it will for all of us one day.
Though perhaps not sprayed across the news in such a way,
Yet on this day, we must stand united,
To do life again, to bring life afresh, to live life valiantly, yea.

Laptops in Checked-In Luggage

It’s a common question: Can I pack my laptop in checked-in luggage?

The general consensus is “no.”

To wit:

There’s nothing saying you can’t, however, I definitely wouldn’t pack my laptop in my checked luggage (especially if it was a decently nice or really nice one). Have you seen how the baggage handlers throw bags into the plane? I usually bring my laptop in a carry-on bag. Chelsea, Quora

It is OK to do so, but probably not recommended. The reality is that you have no control over your checked luggage once you turn it in. There are so many cases of people stealing items of value from checked luggage that it is no longer a surprise. I personally wouldn’t check anything of great value…hand carry the laptop and you can be assured it will arrive at your destination. David, Quora

I would never put anything of value in a checked bag. Aside from the risk of theft I don’t have great luck with misdirected luggage. P_M, Fodors Travel

Take it from the TSA. A representative from the agency offered this advice for flyers: “Electronics … should be packed in carry-on luggage because they are typically fragile, expensive, and more prone to breaking if transported in checked baggage.” The threat to your electronics is two-fold: you need to protect your devices from burglary (see above) as well as breakage. No matter how many beach towels you’ve wrapped around your laptop, it’s still at the mercy of baggage handlers and bumpy flights while in transit. The TSA, Smarter Travel

While it’s not illegal to pack a laptop in your checked baggage, the Transportation Security Administration advises against doing so. Your sensitive electronic devices weren’t made to withstand the abuse that checked bags often endure. This means that if you plan to fly with a laptop, you should carry it on the plane with you – and there are a few simple rules for doing so. The TSA, USA Today

Avoid placing electronic devices in checked baggage
There is a very simple way to avoid this problem-just don’t ever put your computer, tablet, mobile device, other electronics, or your electronic data in checked baggage. There is the obvious risk of a lost, damage, or stolen checked luggage, and airlines will not compensate you for lost or damaged computers, other electronic devices, or electronic data. Also, airlines often load bags on top of one another in the cargo hold of your flight. Hundreds of pounds of pressure in conjunction with the low temperatures in unheated cargo compartments may lead to cracks or damage to electronic devices.

[FlyerTalk] is chockablock with people who’ve lost valuable stuff from checked luggage and are out of luck because the airline points the finger at security services and vice versa. Anything you check is completely vulnerable to crooks in various uniforms. End of story. BearX220, FlyerTalk

… why shouldn’t you pack your notebook in a checked suitcase when you travel by plane? Here are three excellent reasons. James, PCWorld

Set against that litany of experiences and concerns, there are new restrictions for anything larger than a mobile phone on direct international flights into the United States from specific countries:

Airlines that fly from certain countries in the Middle East and Africa to the U.S. must soon require passengers to check in almost all electronic devices rather than carry them into the cabin, a U.S. official said.

The official said this will impact some airlines flying into the United States. Another U.S. administration official says this covers devices larger than a cellphone.

An aviation official told CNN that there is a security concern regarding passengers boarding nonstop flights to the U.S. from specific countries. This relates to the “screening in [some] countries” for nonstop flights to the U.S.

They added that they believe a threat to the U.S. would be negated if a passenger transferred through a secondary city with additional and more trustworthy screening procedures. The directive is to ensure enhanced security measures at select airports for a limited duration.


Net-net: the device is still carried on board, and almost everyone is inconvenienced while in flight and runs the risk of damage or theft of said devices.

Flow-on effects? Fewer visits to the United States? The purchase of new hardened checked-in luggage? The acquisition of new hardened laptop cases to go inside checked-in luggage? More insurance claims for damaged or lost devices?

Highlights Reel

Earlier this decade I met a friend for breakfast, and he proceeded to tell me an idea for an ambitious project. I had some doubts about the efficacy of the idea, but he lined up the support required and pushed go. And started working. And working. And struggling. And wrestling. And facing a string of disappointments, annoyances, and very difficult situations. But he persevered – with great tenacity in the face of sometimes overwhelming odds and apparent gross incompetence on the behalf of others involved in the project.

His ambitious project was finally completed this week, and he gets to tick the box on the formalities. But more importantly, he has become the type of person the project was designed to make him – not in a tick box way, but in the depths of his core and professional work.

I’m still smiling for him, hours after hearing the good news of his achievement.


We’ve had a drought in the part of New Zealand I live in. There’s been little rain for months, and the ground has shown the lack thereof. But it started raining – thankfully – last week, which has been good for Canterbury, but has had a less ideal response up north. Some thoughts on rain …

Rain is.
Falling. Finally. Pelting the parched and dried out land.
Inviting a response. A softening, an opening up, a letting go of hardness.
The beginning of a new journey into growth. A precursor to a new flourishing.
A gift. Of all that is fresh and vital.
For dancing in. Umbrellas be closeted.
A signal for impending change.
The no-colour ingredient that colours everything anew.
A symbol of something different.
A test of resolve and discipline. Of that which is easy to claim in the warm optimism of the sun.
A question of price. Will you pay up in its drenching relentless?
Rain is. Necessary.

Container Homes

New Zealand is suffering a housing crisis in many of its cities – the cost of buying a first home have skyrocketed over the past couple of decades since my wife and I first purchased a place to live. Given that I have many children who will want to enter the housing market over the next two decades, I’m interested in alternative approaches.

Earlier this week Stuff ran a story on a container home in Auckland that appears to have been done “just right.”

Her house in the bush is deceptive from the outside. Painted in a black steel paint with white window trim, it’s hard to tell this is a container house, until you walk to one end and watch her open up a large services hold by pulling on the traditional steel rods that close up the container.

Kelly has put her two containers at right angles and mounted them on deep piles – she needed just four per container, rather than the dozen or more that would be used for a typical house. The longer 40ft container accommodates the entry, sitting area, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom, while the second 20ft container houses an office and guest bedroom.

Not surprisingly, everything is adaptable. Kelly imports her own furniture, specially designed for tiny houses. Items include a corner sofa with huge storage beneath the cushions. The sofa can also become a double bed. And there is a lift-down bed on the wall in the second bedroom, a desk that opens out to form a bed, and a portable wardrobe that can become a room divider. Her own bed is equipped with storage. So it’s clear every inch counts. In fact, Kelly says the house can sleep up to seven people.

There is also a huge 30 square-metre timber deck off the living area, which is effectively a large entertaining space. It is covered with a clear, arched pergola, and plastic sheeting can be pulled down to keep the wind away. Kelly says even in winter, it’s a warm spot to relax.

Very cool.

Norway’s Ship Tunnel

A few years ago I was visiting Oslo to present a series of workshops, and on one evening one of my hosts drove me into the city centre for a meal out. I was intrigued by the underground/through-the-water tunnels that we drove through. With so much water around, the engineers had found a way of suspending vehicle tunnels through waterways. Very cool.

And now they’re building a tunnel for ships:

Norwegian officials have given the green light to fully finance what is set to become the world’s first full-scale ship tunnel, bypassing one of the most dangerous areas for vessels along the Norwegian coast.

The Stad Ship Tunnel will be blasted through 1.7 kilometers of rock at the narrowest point of the Stad Peninsula, allowing ships the size of Hurtigruten’s coastal steamers to navigate it.

What’s fascinating is that the tunnel isn’t expected to shave much time off the normal route, rather it is intended to allow ships to navigate more safely through the Stadhavet Sea, where the North and Norwegian seas meet. The Stadhavet Sea is considered one of the most exposed and dangerous areas for vessels along the coast of Norway, sometimes experiencing more than 100 storm days per year and a dangerous combination of wind, currents, and waves.

New ways of sailing, indeed. Talk about re-imagining the possible!

A Workshop – One Day? Two Days? Longer?

Agnes outlines her thinking on workshop length:

The most common question I get about my upcoming workshop, SharePoint 2016 and Office 365 Search in Practice, is why I’ve decided to choose a two-day format.

I know it could be one day. Also, it could be three days, or even up to five.

I do have ten years of experience teaching and doing workshops around the globe. I’ve tried several formats. Some worked, some didn’t. What I’ve found is that I don’t like frontal teaching. It’s not my style. And I know, it can be exhausting as an attendee, too.

In her post, Agnes talks about:
– 3 teaching / learning approaches used in workshops, and
– the five reasons she has embraced the two-day design.

This is a question I have wrestled with many times too. It’s good to see someone else’s thinking … and decision rationale.

And if search in SharePoint 2016 and Office 365 is important in your work, you should sign up to attend.

Meeting Rules


When I was in Europe last month I spent a few days in Rotterdam. Down the road from my hotel was a yoga studio that I walked past on the way to the Rotterdam train station each day, and inside the window were the above “Studio Rules.” They struck me as directly transferrable to meetings:

1. Make at least one friend today.
Make an effort to have a conversation with someone you haven’t met before at the meeting, or for whom you don’t get to speak to regularly.

2. What could be more important than taking an amazing class? Leave your phone outside our yoga room.
Devices off, unless you are using said device(s) for taking notes or as input into the essence of the meeting. Don’t get distracted by what’s going on outside the room – in email, on Facebook, or via text.

3. Why rush? Come early. Classes always start on time. You don’t want to miss out on the beginning.
Imagine that – if your organisation had that rule embedded in actual practice: meetings always start on time, precisely. Not the “Let’s wait for a few minutes to see who else comes,” or “Should we get started now? (6 minutes after the scheduled time).” But right on time.

4. Get ready to sweat! Bring a towel, wear a clean outfit and you’re good to go.
Get ready to work hard. Do your preparation – read the pre-meeting materials, do your pre-meeting thinking/analysis/discussions. Then you’ll be good to go … to make a contribution, to make the meeting a valuable event, to learn something you can use in your work.

So go ahead … write some meeting rules and post them to the door of your meeting rooms. And the walls.

The New Flight Mode? Bluetooth Only?

Air New Zealand is now allowing the use of Bluetooth devices in flight, a move I’m very happy with:

Air New Zealand passengers will now be able to use their Fitbits to record the number of steps they make from their plane seat to the toilet, thanks to the airline’s new Bluetooth policy.

From Thursday, customers flying on any domestic or international flight will be able to operate Bluetooth devices from the departure gate to the arrival gate, as long as their devices are set to flight mode.

This includes Fitbit devices, Apple Watches and Bluetooth headsets. Passengers will also be able to operate a wireless mouse and wireless keyboard during cruise.

So here’s the problem: setting a device to “flight mode” disables Bluetooth. You can’t state the conditions as above, unless there is a new flight mode from the device vendors that disables cellular and WiFi but still allows Bluetooth. Instead flyers will have to turn off cellular and WiFi separately, keeping Bluetooth on. This is not the activation of flight mode.

This is going to get complex to state and enforce.

The PowerCube


In my travels during the earlier part of 2015 I found myself in hotel rooms with inaccessible power plugs, a lack of USB charging ports, and desks with recessed power strips that didn’t take the power box for my laptop at all. It was all a bit frustrating really, and in one hotel I had to resort to charging my laptop on one side of the room and then using it at the desk on battery power. Hey it worked, but it’s not the usual way I like to work. I have previously carried a Belkin multi-power strip when I’ve been traveling, but the bulk of the thing meant it got left home more often than it was taken. They are great in the office, but not so great on the road.

Enter PowerCube. I recall the exact moment I first saw one in a shop, and it was a direct a-ha moment for me. I got the idea immediately; it would be the perfect addition to my travel supplies. It was a week or two later that I actually purchased one, and it’s been incredibly useful in the trips I have done in the second half of this year. I really like the USB charging ports, as it allows me to charge USB devices without having to use my computer (and with an iPhone, iPad, and FitBit Charge when on the go, I don’t really want all those cables protruding from my laptop when I’m trying to work in the evening). I also like the way the PowerCube allows me to use New Zealand plugs when I’m traveling for every device except the PowerCube itself. All I have to do is convert the plug on the end of the PowerCube to suit the host country and I’m good to go. I don’t have to carry multiple conversion plugs for each host country. And finally, I like how it means I don’t have to carry separate charging blocks for my iPhone or iPad; I can just trust to the PowerCube to charge those devices when necessary.

Net-net: highly recommended.

While I currently only have one PowerCube for travel, looking at the PowerCube web site, there’s a number of other products I could put to immediate use in the office. For example, the PowerCube Remotes would provide a way of turning on all my desk lamps with a single switch. There’s some nice design thinking there that’s gone into something as apparently simple as a multi-box. I like that.