blog

A Visual Vocabulary

I work with pictures.

That is to say I doodle, both out of boredom in meetings and for scribbling down ideas.  Several moons ago I attended a fantastic talk by ImageThink which covered the benefits of doodling in meetings and events, as a way to engage the visual areas of your brain and aid in memory.

Part of the role of an Enterprise Architect is to straddle the divide between “the business” and “IT” (or “Them” and “Us”).  In order to effectively communicate the inherent complexity of the technical systems supporting an organisation, and the business processes which are the core value of the business.  I achieve this with pictures.

What can start as a vague scribbling in my notepad, goes through a few iterations in Google Draw and is eventually used to walk through a solution with stakeholders.  As I learn more about TOGAF, I have been looking to make use of Archimate as a defined visual language.

Archimate

Archimate MetaModel

The Archimate meta model closely resembles the tiered approach to architecture defined by TOGAF, Business, Data, Application and Technology.  This alignment assists in creating a consistent approach to architecture.

As with TOGAF, there are many resources out there which discuss how best to use Archimate as a modelling tool.

I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy, my reality is just different from yours.

The Truth Is Out There

Crop Circles, man made hoax or alien landing strips!

In this case, neither, more a useful diagrammatic structure to describe the ADM!  That is the Architecture Development Method.

The core of TOGAF, and, the bit that I have the least trouble with is the method by which an Enterprise Architecture team can deliver work, be that ground breaking new architectures that deliver on Enterprise wide new strategies, or the delivery of a small work package.

At least with this I can recite the damn thing from memory.

After an initial “Preliminary Phase” the ADM is split into eight separate phases, each one building on the output of the last, surrounding the heart of “Requirements Management”, to deliver a robust and complete solution.

TOGAF - ADM
A) Architecture Vision
B) Business Architecture
C) Information Systems Architecture
D) Technical Architecture
E) Opportunities and Solutions
F) Migration Planning
G) Implementation Governance
H) Architectural Change Management

In the future, I’ll write a post to cover each part of the process, my take on the deliverables, and how I hope to “trim” the process to create a TOGAFlite(tm) for my organisation.

I want to believe.

A compendium of sorts

Enterprise Architecture is a dense subject to get into.  Looking into the TOGAF framework can be a daunting prospect.  When I started trying to dip my toe into the murky waters of TOGAF I looked for resources which could help guide the way.

In the hopes that others may find them useful, here is the list;

Last but not least, it’s probably useful to include a link to the official TOGAF 9.1 documentation.

The more I read, the more I acquire, the more certain I am that I know nothing.

Architectural Practice

I have been asked to set up an “Architectural Practice” at work, and, although I tend to see writing a blog as bordering on “A Beautiful Mind”, I figure, why not keep a log of the process and experience along the way, you know, for posterity.

For the last few months I have been attempting to get certified in TOGAF, that is The Open Group Architecture Framework.  For the most part, the standard is fairly straight forward, it just also happens to be particularly dry, long winded and incredibly dull.  Not to say it isn’t useful, its just a challenge committing the specific definitions, processes and deliverables to memory.

Anyways, for what it’s worth, I’m writing down my process, thoughts and progress as I attempt to improve my career through architecture.

Wish me luck.

From tiny acorns, mighty oak trees grow.

Send Google Form data as an Email on submission

Google Docs includes a great tool for customer feedback, survey’s and request forms in the Google Forms functionality. When data is submitted into the form, a new row of results is added to the corresponding Google Spreadsheet.

The default functionality of Google Forms allows for aggregated data and statistical data. My requirement was to be emailed the results of each submission to the form as they happened.

By adding the following code to your Google Spreadsheet, you can send each submission to an email.

  1. function emailFormSubmission() {
  2.   var theFormSheet = SpreadsheetApp.getActiveSpreadsheet().getActiveSheet();
  3.  
  4.   // Update these to reflect your requirements
  5.   var theEmail = "example@example.com";
  6.   var theSubject = "Form Responses";
  7.  
  8.   var theQuestions = theFormSheet.getRange(1, 1, 1,theFormSheet.getLastColumn()).getValues();
  9.   var theForm = theFormSheet.getRange(theFormSheet.getLastRow(), 1, 1,theFormSheet.getLastColumn()).getValues();
  10.   var theBody = ‘<table id="answers"><tr><th>Question</th><th>Answer</th></tr>’;
  11.  
  12.   for (var i = 0; i< theForm[0].length; i++)
  13.   {
  14.     if (theForm[0][i]!="")
  15.     {
  16.       theBody += ‘<tr><td>’+theQuestions[0][i]+"</td><td>"+theForm[0][i]+"</td></tr>";
  17.     }
  18.   }
  19.   theBody += ‘</table>’;
  20.  
  21.   MailApp.sendEmail(theEmail, theSubject, "",{htmlBody: theBody});
  22. }

Once you’ve added this code to your spreadsheet, just set the trigger to run on form submission and each time a new form is submitted an email will be sent with the contents of the form. This method maintains the order of the questions asked, and only shows the questions which have been answered.

Here is a link to an example Google Spreadsheet which includes the code/form.
Send Google Form data as an Email on submission

Hope it helps, feel free to drop a comment with any suggestions/questions.

The Lomo Tutorial (or a Diana Mini Experiment)

I was lucky enough to receive a Diana Mini for Christmas and it’s reinvigorated my photography some what.

After the clean and crisp world of digital photography, lomography (or lomo for short) has been a breath of fresh air.  I can’t say I’m great with the lomo (I’d struggle to go so far as to say some of my shots so far have even been good) but even from my first roll of actual analogue film I’ve learnt a load and had a whole bunch of fun.

The whole idea around lomography is that it’s back to basics, back to manual focusing, choosing your aperture, selecting the most appropriate film, and ensuring your framing is good.

So… without further ado, here’s a few lessons I’ve learnt from my first roll of film!

Lesson 1: Wait till it’s sunny outside

You might want to wait till it’s sunnier outside before you start snapping away, I’ve ended up with a lot of shots that are just far too dark!  Always check you’ve selected cloudy or sunny aperture.  Cloudy, and you’re at F/8, sunny and it’s F/11.

Snub Robot
Snub Robot, originally uploaded by smileham.

Lesson 2: Shooting in-doors? Not without a flash

Unless there is a lot of light inside, even if you’re running with 800 iso film, you’re probably not going to get great results without flash. I wasted a lot of film because of this! You can try Bulb mode, but you’re probably better off with sticking to Normal (1/60th of a second)

Lesson 3: Shoot from the hip!

Your Diana Mini (or whichever flavour of lomo you have) isn’t quite the same imposing beast as your SLR.  Also, it’s cute and fun, so people are less concerned about it being thrust in their face!

Shoot from the hip
Shoot from the hip, originally uploaded by smileham.

Lesson 4: Check your focus

You’re never going to get perfectly crisp photo’s with a toy camera, it’s not about that (it’s about soft focus and vignetting if you must know). That said, it’s still good to at least get it close! Always check the manual focus ring on the front of the camera. I ended up just measuring my arm and using that as a rough guide till I got it down in my head!

The Orchestra
Preston Park – Clock Tower, originally uploaded by smileham.

Lesson 5: Colour is your friend

Colour is great, even more so with your trusty lomo camera, a little over-saturated maybe, but that’s probably down to the film too!

Colour is your friend
Colour is your friend, originally uploaded by smileham.

Lesson 6: Find something interesting, and/or random

Your Diana Mini has character, find a character to shoot, something… unusual!

An interesting character
An interesting character, originally uploaded by smileham.

Lesson 7: Composition still counts

Just because it’s lomo, doesn’t mean the normal rules of photography go out the window. Composition it still important, leading lines, vanishing points, rule of thirds… well, the rule of thirds gets more interesting with the square format I guess…

Composition Counts
Composition Counts, originally uploaded by smileham.

Lesson 8: Jump into a crowd!

That said, it’s lomo, it’s about instant karma! Be spontaneous, shoot from the hip, and jump into a crowd… who knows what they’re up to!

The Orchestra
The Orchestra, originally uploaded by smileham.

Lesson 9: Stop worrying

My first roll of film was 400 iso 36 exposures, and when I took it into the developers (the bog standard Boots) it was with a mixed feeling of happiness and trepidation. I was sure that most of the pictures were rubbish, that the guys developing the film would muck it up, and that I’d be laughed out of the store for being a terrible photographer. None of those things happened, Boots were great, did what they could with my terrible shots, and then gave me my negatives and pictures and I went on my way. And my shots were terrible, out of 36 shots, there are maybe 9 that I can at least put my name to, but it’s a learning curve, and it’s fun!

Graffiti
Graffiti, originally uploaded by smileham.

Anyways, there’s my run down of what I’ve found so far with the Diana Mini. If you’ve managed to nab yourself an old school toy camera, I hope you’re having fun with it too! Good luck, have fun and don’t take it so seriously.

Long time, no update

It appears that there may have been some time between my last update and today!

I could go back to the numerous “draft” posts to knock them in to some semblance of shape, or I could blitz through some highlights here.

New Zealand

Queensland New Zealand
Queensland New Zealand, originally uploaded by smileham.

Back in January of last year Nicky and I spent some time in New Zealand for a friends wedding. The country is amazing, everything that Lord of the Rings promised it would be. We travelled round the two islands in a “spaceship” called Uranus for 3 weeks, during which time I proposed to Nicky.

New York

The Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty, originally uploaded by smileham.

For my 30th Nicky surprised me with a trip to New York, another fantastic destination that was every bit as awesome as it should have been. We were only there for a long weekend, so we blitzed the highlights.

  • Statue of Liberty
  • Central Park
  • Rockerfeller Centre
  • Apple Store… What! It was my birthday!

Angie’s Wedding

Angie and Bret
Angie and Bret, originally uploaded by smileham.

My first big wedding shoot, all the way from ceremony, group/family pics to reception photos. A fantastic day, with some great people and some great pictures.

My Wedding

More weddings! As if they were going out of style! Rather than shoot my own, Graham Laurence helped me out with the photographic talent. I’ve recently sorted out the photo book from Blurb, which took long enough but looks great.

Malta

The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon, originally uploaded by smileham.

A week long break in Malta for our honeymoon. Mostly an opportunity for Nicky to get a way from it all after the stress of organising most of the wedding by herself. Malta is a beautiful country, very much the Mediterranean paradise!

2012?

Well that was 2011! It certainly goes down with a “Best Year Ever” badge, and 2012 is shaping up to be a good contender for the title (even if it will be a little more on the frugal side). I will attempt a slightly more regular schedule for updating this thing, although chances are I’ll be writing the next update in around 12 months!

Canon 7d

I finally succumbed and decided to upgrade!

I’ve had a Canon 400d for a couple of years now, and the old girl has done me proud, but I now find that it’s time to move on. Next year I’m off to New Zealand for three weeks, and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity (read excuse) to upgrade.

The 400d has been a fine entry level camera, but I found myself being frustrated by it’s low light performance, both the high level of noise and limited range of ISO levels. I have also been eyeing the new generation of SLR cameras with video abilities with interest.

Looking around, I was very tempted by the 5d mark II, but with the extra cost, and then having to buy a couple of new lenses, I looked at other 1.6 factor bases. A friend of mine has the 50d, so I was looking for a similar level camera. Reading reviews of the 60d, it seemed that it wasn’t so much an upgrade of the 50d, but more a sideways step. I figured that I’d rather spend that little bit more and many reviews pegged the 7d as the natural successor of the 50d.

So far, I’ve been very impressed with the 7d. It has really rejuvenated my love of photography, so much so that I soon went out and spent another £300 on a lens of equal quality.

The 7d has travelled with me to a few events so far, a wedding, a gig and just some general walk abouts. Every time I’ve been impressed with the results. The images are sharp, rich and (more importantly for me) noise free and crisp. This all may have something to do with a recent upgrade to Lightroom 3 and the aforementioned new lens (Sigma 30mm 1.4) but I could not be happier with my purchase!

Brighton Zombie Walk 2010

Brighton Zombie Walk 2010

Brighton Zombie Walk 2010, originally uploaded by smileham.

Another year rolls by and it’s the Brighton Zombie Walk again!

Brighton Zombie Walk 2010
Zombie

Hundreds must’ve shown up for the shamble down from Brighton station to the sea front. From the truly terrifying to the… well, less than terrifying! From the looks on faces of the Zombies, it seems like it was just another day for the undead, but the crowd watching the display certainly appeared to be loving it!

Brighton Zombie Walk 2010
Zombie

Brighton seems one of the cities that can get away with awesome events like this! I’ve uploaded some choice shots from running up and down Queens Road with the camera, so head over to Flickr to check them out!

Brighton Zombie Walk 2010 – Beach of the Dead