iPhone 8 randomly turning off

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

On Saturday I started having a problem with my iPhone 8. I was attempting to take a photograph when it turned itself off. I turned it back on and found it had just 10% battery charge. Initially I thought I had forgotten to charge it, but I was sure I had. It then turned itself off again. It wouldn’t switch back on, so as I was out, I left it to deal with later.

At home I connected it to the charger and switched it back on. The charge was 100% so I disconnected it from the charger. It then turned itself off (as before). I turned it back on again and it then showed a charge of 10%. Bizarre behaviour.

I then did a reset of all the settings.

The iPhone then behaved as though I had applied a system update. It restarted itself and looked anew.

I did think maybe an aborted system update had caused the problems.

However today the same issue with the iPhone randomly turning itself off. So not sure what to do next. I think I might have to undertake a full reset of the phone.

Tech Stuff: Top Ten Blog Posts 2021

Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay

In 2021 I published 32 posts on the blog, this was less than in 2020 when I wrote 43 blog posts. Compared to 2019 when I wrote just 18. 

In 2019 none of the top ten posts were written in 2019. This time six of the posts were published in 2020, three were published in 2021 and one was from 2015.

Number ten was from June 2020 when I wrote about our gas metre: How are we using gas overnight with our new smart meter? Having had a smart metre installed, I started to notice that we seemed to be using a fair amount of gas and electricity overnight! This made no sense, as we didn’t have the heating on, no hot water was running and the only electrical device running was the fridge!

In Ninth place was a post from May 2020 about the death of my Pogo printer titled, No more Pogo. I had bought the Pogo back in 2009 and it lasted over ten years. I got a replacement Zip printer last Christmas.

polaroid zip printer

The eighth most popular blog post on the blog was from April 2021 and was a series of images (virtual backgrounds) I wanted to use for online meetings over the summer: Ten Amazing Summer Zoom and Teams Backgrounds.

Image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay

At number seven was a post from December 2020 about Using iPad as separate whiteboard in Zoom, which was a follow on post from one I had written about using an iPad in Teams

The sixth most popular blog post was from December 2020, Ten Great Christmas Zoom and Teams Backgrounds. Using the excellent image sites, Unsplash and Pixabay, I put together ten festive images that could be used as backgrounds for Zoom and Teams meetings.

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

In July 2021, there I was opening a PowerPoint file from my OneDrive folder when I got this error message: Sorry, PowerPoint can’t read ^0. I couldn’t open any of my files on OneDrive. Having looked around for a solution and to be honest it wasn’t too much help. I did try and reset OneDrive but this didn’t work. I was convinced that this was a permissions issue rather than file corruption or data loss. The file sizes looked fine for example. In the end though I did come up with a solution which I wrote up as a blog post to help others: Solving the Sorry PowerPoint can’t read ^0 error and this was the fifth most popular blog post this year.

Having used the BBC backgrounds for a while and having some photographs when I visited The Harry Potter Studio Tour I decided to share some of the more suitable photos as backgrounds for Zoom and Teams and this was the fourth most popular post on the blog in 2020 and 2021: Harry Potter Teams and Zoom Backgrounds

In third place for the second year running was a post from May 2020, on how the amazing BBC Archive had posted a series of images of empty BBC Television sets across the years to be used as Zoom and Teams Backgrounds.

I used these quite frequently in my Zoom meetings.

Despite new posts and more traffic, the second most popular post on the blog was my post about QR codes on chocolate bars, Cadbury QR Coding and Twirling which has been my number one post for a few years now, so had dropped one place. It was published in 2015 and was one of many posts I published on the use of QR codes back then. Of course the pandemic has seen more usage of QR codes across all aspects of life, from Track and Trace, to ordering food in restaurants.

So the most popular blog post in 2021 was Using iPad as separate whiteboard in Teams. This was a post in response to a tweet on the Twitter.

This inspired me to give it a go and see if I could get it to work and as a result documented the process.

Exceptional excellence

Image by William Gallardo from Pixabay

You can have exceptional staff who are performing beyond expectations and still have an underperforming department or organisation.

Over the years I have worked for and worked with a range of oranisations looking at strategy

When you have a poor performing department, you can still have exceptional staff within that department. 

The problem with conflating this is that staff are then penalised for poor or ineffective management of the department.

This is explored in this blog post on misunderstanding excellence, which explores the concept that excellence of an organisation is not dependent on the excellence of its parts.

The excellence of an organisation is not dependent on the excellence of its parts.

Why does this happen?

Well part of the problem is that personal objectives are set independently and often not as part of a co-ordinated plan. As a result individual members of staff can achieve (and surpass) their objectives. However as they don’r relate or directly contribute to the objectives of the department, the department can fail to achieve its required objectives. So you have have outstanding staff and a poor performing department.

Similarly you can have a departmental strategy which is independent of the corporate strategy. So you can have successful departments, but not a successful organisation. Often you find that support or professional services are particulate good at setting departmental objectives that have no bearing on the strategic direction of the organisation.

So when it comes to working this out, who is responsible?

Well you could say the departmental lead, but I do think it is deeper than that, as you can also have excellent departments, but a poor performing organisation, for basically the same reasons as outlined for individuals. An added factor is often departments writing their operational plan and then mapping it it to strategic objectives. This is done so that departments can then say (and believe) they are contributing to the strategic objectives of the organisation. One of the results of this though can be be duplication (different parts of the organisation undertaking the same activities), it can also mean that certain aspects of the strategy are not done, or the underpinning requirements are missed, resulting in departments being doomed to fail, or at least underperform.

So what is the solution?

Just understanding the various relationships between personal, departmental and organisational objectives would help. Recognising the dependencies and underpinning objectives required to achieve objectives would also be helpful.

Finally do the organisational strategic objectives work for the organisation? Does the organisation know what is required to achieve them? That is something that can be missed or more often people assume that they know what is required and that what they assume is required is the same as everyone else. That assumption needs to be challenged.

Ten Amazing Winter and Snow Backgrounds for Teams and Zoom

So you’re feeling all snug and warm in your home office, well why not add some wintery charm to your Teams and Zoom meetings with these amazing winter and snow backgrounds.

Right click the images to download the images.

trees in the snow
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash
snowy lane
Photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash

Photo by Courtney Chestnut on Unsplash
frosty tree
Photo by Tim Tiedemann on Unsplash
snowy mountains
Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash
snow covered trees
Photo by Katarzyna Pe on Unsplash
Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash
snowy mountains
Photo by Alberto Restifo on Unsplash
snowy lane with trees
Photo by TORSPOMEDIA on Unsplash
snowy pines
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Ten More Great Christmas Zoom and Teams Backgrounds

Time to get into the festive spirit in the last full week at work with these festive background for Zoom or Teams.

Last year I posted ten festive images, well here are ten new ones to get you and your meetings into a Christmas mood.

Right click the images to download the images.

tree decorations
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Photo by Bob Canning on Unsplash
Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Christmas Market
Image by Leonhard Niederwimmer from Pixabay
snowy pines
Image by Pezibear from Pixabay
Image by Mariya from Pixabay
Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
festive decorations
Photo by Jamie Coupaud on Unsplash
dried decorations
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Festive Zoom and Teams Backgrounds

Time to get into the festive spirit with one month until Christmas Day with these festive background for Zoom or Teams. As some of you are still probably working from home.

Right click the images to download the images.

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
Image by Vincent Ciro from Pixabay
Image by Yevhen Buzuk from Pixabay
Image by Reijo Telaranta from Pixabay
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Image by bluartpapelaria from Pixabay
Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash
Photo by Todd Diemer on Unsplash
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Mobile telephony

Thinking that would never catch on….

I actually remember seeing this when it was broadcast.

Michael Rodd makes a call with an experimental cordless mobile phone.  It’s 1979 and time for the telephone to go mobile. In this report from a longer programme, Michael Rodd examines a British prototype for a cordless telephone that allows the user to make calls from anywhere. Also included at the end of this item is a rather nice out-take as Rodd also experiences the first mobile wrong number.

Of course we don’t really use our phones as phones these days, the mini computer we have in our pockets is now used for way more than just making calls.

Hot, hot, hot…


I recently upgraded my MacBook Pro to Mojave 10.14 mainly as Outlook had stopped working properly, and I needed to upgrade the Mac OS X so that I could install the latest version. Generally no real issues except one.

In the past when I shut the lid of the MacBook Pro it would sleep and when I opened the lid it would wake.

However on a couple of occasions now I have noticed as I reached into my rucksack that my MacBook was hot, really hot. 

What appears to be happening is that the MacBook is not going to sleep when the lid is shut. It keeps “working” and as it shut (and in a bag) it just gets warmer and warmer. The fans kick in, but even then it can’t cool down properly (with the lid shut and in a bag).

Of course I don’t think this can be good for it, so will need to check if the MacBook is in fact asleep or shut it down properly before putting it in the bag.


So there I was leaving Bristol after an evening out and Waze was sending me out of Bristol via Princes Street Bridge. As I turned onto Princes Street the warning lights went on and the barriers came down!

Princes Street Bridge

I had to wait.

Even though I know the way home to Weston-super-Mare from Bristol, I sometimes use Waze to get me out of Bristol, as it knows where there is traffic and it also gives me an idea of what time I will arrive home. 

Waze sent me down the M5 this time, the motorway southbound was quite clear, northbound it was a different picture with a ten mile tailback. Looked like there had been an accident on the Twickenham Viaduct, but the queue of traffic went back to the junction with Weston-super-Mare.

It’s not just about the tech, we also need to think differently

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

Over the last 18 months virtually all of my meetings have been on Teams or Zoom, or once on Google Meet. I can probably count the number of in-person meetings I have had on the fingers on one hand.

As with most people’s experiences, the experience hasn’t been excellent or even good, it’s either been okay or awful.

Over the next twelve months, I am still expecting that most of my meetings will still be on Teams or Zoom.

So how could we make things better?

The BBC published this article: Can better tech make video meetings less excruciating?

On most video conference calls, only one person gets to speak at a time. It’s a deliberate, designed feature of platforms such as Zoom. But as Susan D Blum’s linguistic anthropology class found out, it makes having a natural conversation practically impossible.

Though the technology can be a limiting factor with this, part of the problem is we are trying to replicate what we do in-person and do it online using a tool such as Zoom. The reality is that the nuances of what made the in-person experience so effective are lost when we translate to digital and we also don take advantage of the affordances that digital can bring.

So technological solutions are only part of the solution, the other key aspect is transformation.

There is some aspects of understanding why you need the meeting in the first place.

Image by Ronald Carreño from Pixabay

Even though all my meetings these days are online meetings I found this article by Atlassian on making meetings better, useful and interesting.

Running effective meetings isn’t simply a matter of doing the obvious things like sharing the agenda and starting on time. While those things are important, they’re just table stakes. The real key to running a great meeting is organizing and running them with a human touch – not like some corporate management automaton.

They have a useful flow chart as well.

When it comes to meetings the article also says

Meetings should never be held for the sole purpose of sharing information – that’s what email, chat, and company intranets are for.

The fact that many video meetings are excruciating or awful, maybe that before the in-person meetings were equally excruciating or awful, but we didn’t recognise this and the tech has exacerbated the problem.

So before looking for technological solutions to meetings, start reflecting on why you are having a meeting in the first place.

      • What are the objectives of having the meeting?
      • Do you actually need a live face to face online meeting?
      • Could you meet the objectives in a different way?

A simple example, you need to review some content or a document. You could do this in asynchronous live online meeting, but this isn’t always very efficient. Online can exacerbate those inefficiencies and make for a less useful and rewarding experience.

An alternative approach could be to undertake an asynchronous review of the meeting, using comments and collaboration on a shared document. It would take “longer” than a meeting, you might need a week or a few days, but people could choose as and when to engage with the process.

Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

One kind of meeting I attend a lot are catch-up meetings, where we go around the “room” and provide an update on what we are doing and is happening.

I refer to Atlassian again: Meetings should never be held for the sole purpose of sharing information – that’s what email, chat, and company intranets are for.

So post your updates on Teams, Yammer or the intranet.

One of the reasons why we don’t do that, is because people don’t read the stuff they are sent, don’t engage with collaborative processes, or ignore company intranets and tools such as Yammer. As a result we have meetings, which we know people will attend.

The perspective we can solve engagement issues by having meetings, and so we need to improve the online meetings, misses the key problem, which is the lack of engagement. This is a leadership and management challenge not just about improving online meetings.

People have a personal responsibility to engage with corporate communication, give them choice, make it easier, but to think you solve it by having a meeting, is a similar thinking that people read all their e-mail.

Could write more, but I have to go to a meeting!