All posts by Johnny

Lake District 2019 Photos

So as we’re in lockdown, I contemplated writing a long wordy how to cope style blog, but I’m not a lifestyle coach and I’d be hypocritical if I started spouting how to stay sane stuff, so instead here’s some pics from last years trip to the Lake District, a memory of recent good times! For more info on the Lake District National Park click here

Cats Update

A little while ago I started to pull together our Instagram feeds so we could share our cat pics more, I’m sitll working on some issues in the plugin I have, but here’s a snapshot below. for the aggregated page (which for some reason won’t update) click here

2017 Review

It’s that time of year again! December 30th 2017, the day when lots of people start planning what to wear in order to see the beginning of 2018 in style. In our family we’ll be going for our annual curry (albeit at a different restaurant this year) and having a nice calm evening with a bit of TV or background music while we play a few games, maybe open a bottle of nice wine and gently welcome 2018 into our lives. But before the curry I always find it a good idea to review the last 12 months on a personal level, I do lots of evaluations of myself and my progress through the year regarding work related things, but I don’t very often sit back and review the personal achievements, family events etc. So what did 2017 see in the Ward world?
  • RIAT 2017 – an awesome show of military might, this year we just did the one day trip and took the mother in law! The gallery can be found here:
  • The Big Bear Hunt – back in our home city of Birmingham we spent a day hunting these artistic bears in glorious sunshine, several miles covered and 35 bears found, we have a few pics here:
  • USA 2017 – we managed a fortnight over in the US, including a one dayer at Disney Magic Kingdom, it looked similar to when I visited 20 years previous, but a few newer rides and Disney characters made it just a magical (if not more so), gallery of the magic can be found here:
On top of those fun events it was work, work, work for the two of us, with Hannah studying and working hard to boost the quality of our fantastic NHS and myself travelling around the country trying to educate and enhance various manufacturing companies, in efforts to put the UK back at the top of the Manufacturing and Tech trees! Into December, we rescued two kittens so that Clara (who’s been with us 3 years today!) could have some playmates, only downside for me is I’m now overrun with females in the house! The newbies, or Kitlets as I call them, are called River and Oswin – spot the Doctor Who references! As Christmas approached I managed to book the 2 weeks off and have spent the majority of it having some quality family time, both in the Ward household with the wife and 3 cats, and also with our wider extended families, most of whom are fairly local. In amongst the hours on Xbox with the 9 year old little brother and fetching cats out of the Christmas tree I have spent some ever so important quality time with Hannah, and as it has been our 3rd Christmas as a married couple and homeowners I think the chill out was long overdue! Chaos resumes on January 2nd Happy New Year Everyone!

RIAT 2017

Yesterday, Saturday 15th July we went to RAF Fairford for the annual Royal International Air Tattoo #RIAT2017 This year was met with dull/wet weather in the AM but by the afternoon it had dried up and brightened up. Display teams reverted to flat displays and a few of the big boys (notably Typhoons) were called off or delayed until we had made it back to the car! Overall it was, as always, a great day out and I have this year (6th one in a row) managed to take some decent photos and videos, which I have spent the morning trying to pull into this site with a plugin. However, patience is wearing thin so here’s the link:   Enjoy!

A Year of Two Halves

A quick timeline for you: The statistics for you:
  • 1 year 6 months 20 days since last day at BMS
  • 4 different companies since then (due to takeovers)
  • 3 different job titles in that time
  • 1 car, 1 house, 1 wife, 1 cat
Is there a point to all this: Yes, I have been mulling these statistics for a little while now.The last 18 months have been interesting to say the least! Whilst the Magna role didn’t quite work out how I hoped, it did give me some vital real world experience, as did my time at BMS. In fact putting those 2 roles together, with a little of my Uni/IBM life on top and you’re close to how I started this year when I joined Dot Net. The big change for me this year was moving from internal IT (supporting the company you work for) to external IT (supporting customers of the company you work for). And initially this is where all my apprehensions lied. Over time I have begun to face my fears and anxiety when it comes to dealing with people with problems. Normally I just went around fixing servers and systems, not really dealing with the end user so much. Now I feel much more competent at dealing with the people, not just the computer. On top of that I’ve had the opportunity to develop my application installation and support skills, not just ERP, but with VMWare, Hyper-V, Windows Server, SQL Server, IIS, Veeam, SharePoint (to name a few). I also got back to some proper hardware installation work, similar to my IBM days, although this time primarily Dell enterprise level hardware, with some HP. Another major change for me, kind of an aside the customer facing work, is the travelling around. My current base office is 1.3 miles from home, if it wasn’t for the big hill I would walk it! So if I’m based almost from my own back garden how have I put so many miles on so many vehicles… wait for it… more statistics:
  • 15 Customer locations
  • 2 Company locations
  • 9 Vehicles
  • lots of miles (haven’t counted due to multiple vehicles!)
It has been a huge personal achievement for me this year to come out of my shell, leave the house at 5am, drive to a random part of the country and introduce myself as the bloke that’s going to make your systems work. Whether that’s hardware, applications, ERP or just a meeting to plan it all in, I’ve done it all this year! So back to my original title for this rather long post. It has been a year of two halves… it started out assisting companies with their hardware and software needs; developing an end to end solution including design, purchasing, installation, training and long term maintenance. The second half has been less of that and more ERP installation, 3rd-line tech support, high-value projects, high-risk projects and everyone’s favorite; high priority/escalated issues. Yes now I can finally call myself a Technical Consultant, and it means I get anyone and everyone with performance issues, installation issues, and additional installs! I won’t bore you all with the details of the day job, but suffice to say I cover a lots of different aspects of technical work across many customers and many industries, it sure does exercise the brain! To come back to an earlier bullet point above, in all the time that I’ve had a couple of jobs and been to a few different places there’s one thing that has stayed the same, and that is home! Nothing beats coming home to the wife after a long hard slog on the M40 or when I left the office 7 minutes ago with no traffic. The reason I put that in the list is because no matter what I do, where I am one day to the next or who I’m working for and with, I will always need and want my home comforts. No words I put on here can thank Hannah enough for putting up with me, but I am forever grateful. Thanks for reading, I’m hoping 2017 will be just as exciting    

Recent USA Trip

Most of our friends and family will be aware of our recent trip to Georgia, USA to see my Dad and Erin with their awesome 4 dogs! I have posted the photos from my phone onto a new gallery on here for all to see: USA 2016 Gallery We had a great 15 days with lots of sunshine, some great sight seeing and numerous American activities. Most importantly we had some quality family time which I think will be valued by all parties for some time to come. All in all we had an awesome visit, and can’t wait to get back out there!

New Year, New Job, New Outlook on Life

Happy New Year to all, 2016 IS going to be a good year, I have a feeling! I am more than happy to say goodbye to 2015, compared to the previous few years it wasn’t one of stunning highlights, that said I did embark on some very adventurous challenges and came through them all with new knowledge, experience and determination. Hence the desire to make 2016 a year to remember! I made a decision at the end of last year to re-evaluate my career prospects and after getting on the books at 10+ recruitment companies, and having numerous conversations about where I was at, where I wanted to be, and what was needed to achieve those things, I realised it was more of a confidence thing than an ability issue. Confidence is one of those things that everyone possesses when in a comfortable environment, needless to say my last role never quite felt settled or comfortable, although I have made some great friends, got involved with some top spec systems and was involved in numerous challenges which we came out of smiling (eventually)! Without being comfortable we struggle to add anything to ourselves that makes us noticed, respected and useful in the eyes of those above. Throughout my life I have known where my natural abilities lie, and I have always had a crystal clear view of what I eventually want to end up doing/being… unfortunately low self esteem and lack of confidence has perhaps held me back at times, not having the guts to go that one step further and push those above to allow me to progress. Somehow I managed to find out about a company in my home town who do exactly what I wanted to be doing from the age of about 10! (I say somehow, it’s a complex riddle of friends of friends etc. It really is a “not what you know, but who you know” situation!) A few emails and an interview later and I was offered a job 1.3 miles from home, doing exactly the kind of thing I thought I could be good at! Roll on a few weeks, including the Christmas break, and on January 4th 2016 I started my first day at my new company. On Day 2 I was given my first customer, by the second week (last week at time of writing) I had had brought my first bit of money into the business on the back of liaising with my new customer, and had visited another customer, who will be keeping me very busy for the foreseeable future. Already I have made that jump from “running internal infrastructure” to “design, install, manage and maintain infrastructures for multiple business” – in 2 weeks! – All because somewhere deep inside myself I found that little bit of confidence to say “Yes I’d love to come for an interview”, “Yes I’d love to join your company”, and “Sorry, I have enjoyed my time but have found another opportunity I’d like to pursue”. Leaving a job is difficult, starting a new job is more difficult, those who know me well may think I make it look easy, but I promise you it isn’t! On top of the learning new things, meeting new colleagues, following new rules etc. you also have the learning how to fit your personal life in again. Fitting it in around new hours, days out in London etc. can be draining at first (trust me it’s a Sunday lunchtime and I’m still in my PJs!), but I am fortunate that my home life is as stable as possible, a loving wife who understands what I do, why I do it and how it affects what we can and cant do, extended family close enough who we can drop in on last minute just to say hi and use their kettle (Thanks Mom!), Family close enough via Internet that you can speak to them any time of day for a pep talk or just to say hi (Thanks Dad) – Life is great, 2016 will be great and I hope everyone can improve on 2015 whether it was a good one or a bad one is irrelevant, make this one count!