Toto, Africa and copyright..

Super arrangement of Toto’s Africa by the Perpetuum Jazzile.  This rocks. Appeared in my inbox this morning. Thanks Geoff.

Africa is one of those tunes that is part of my mental soundtrack. I hear it and I’m transported back to a humid South African evening, the crickets chirping and the smell of African rain is in the air. Weird, as the band is from LA, and this sort of soft rock normally my thing. But I guess for most of my generation this is a iconic sing along song.  Perpetuum’s performance is really rather special.

But what rocks even more is the response from David Paich, the fellow who wrote the song.


My name is David Paich. When I wrote Africa I never dreamed of hearing such an innovative rendition. All I can say is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am truly honored that you not only would arrange a choir version of the song but the time and effort into creating REAL MAGIC! I have NEVER received so many emails from artists friends and colleagues on a singular performance of a song.

My hats off to all of you.

I know my co-writer Jeff Porcaro would have shared the same feelings. I know my band TOTO does.

Again, thanks you for such a wonderful gift.I would love to meet everyone sometime soon and maybe work together.


This, ladies and gentlemen, is how derivative works should work.  Goodness all around.


Software and the Maginot Line


photo via wikipedia. thanks!

This weekend we did some camping, just across the border into France, and very close to part of Maginot Line. Next time I visit that area I’m going to take some time and actually visit a couple of Ouvrages, go inside and see the working railway and the logistics of the thing. It is fascinating engineering and architecture, made all the more impressive by its absolute failure to deliver on its promise.

I normally dislike using military similes and metaphors in business language. It belittles the horror of war. I’m not in the trenches, in the line of fire, or going over the top, luckily. But there was something about the Maginot line that made me think about the enterprise software industry.

I suppose one could use the Maginot metaphor to describe neo-client/server architectures, but I couldn’t help thinking about software maintenance. The assumptions about maintenance made 10 years ago don’t necessarily hold today. While leaders of large software companies crow about their maintenance margins, images of the Maginot line keep coming into my head. 

Deck chairs and competitive advantage?


photo via the cc flickrstream of xingray  thanks


Via Yahoo! news.

German tourists can now reserve their poolside recliners before they have even left home.

The German arm of Thomas Cook, Europe’s second largest travel company, has been deluged with inquiries since announcing that holidaymakers at nine hotels in Turkey, Egypt and the Canary Islands can book recliners in advance for a fee.

Germans are famous around Europe for rising early to reserve recliners near the pool with their towels, and then going back to bed or eating a lengthy breakfast.

This often annoys tourists from other nations, but they will be unable to take advantage of the new service — it is valid only for holidaymakers booking their trips from Germany, Mathias Brandes, head of communications at Thomas Cook in Germany, said.

I’m not sure this would be particularly good for international poolside relations.

I should write some clever link to global HR systems, and the problems of trying to please everyone all of the time, but I won’t.

Musings On Poetry, Business, Creativity, And A Bit About Travel.

This looks like an excellent programme. Some really smart people teaching it, great setting. Thanks for the pointer, Max.


The course will teach artists everything they need to know about basic business from how to manage their finances to how to market themselves more effectively and critically – to negotiate decisively when pitching a product. This is a profound practical investment for artists who will emerge more confident about their creative aspirations and much better equipped to continue working creatively but without being so vulnerable to exploitation.

I’d also like to a see a course the other way around. Artistic Acumen for Business People.  The business world would be a better place if it could pause every now and then. Draw a picture. Read a bit of Wordsworth.

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

How about  Hugh MacLeod and Alain de Botton teaching  MBA classes?  Last night, on the flight back from London I read de Botton’s   The Art of Travel.  Here is an excerpt from the book.

From the ground, the white light gradually takes shape as a vast two-storied body with four engines suspended like earrings beneath implausibly long wings. In the light rain, clouds of water form a veil behind the plane on its matronly progress towards the airfield. Beneath it are the suburbs of Slough. It is three in the afternoon. In detached villas, kettles are being filled. A television is on in a living room with the sound switched off. Green and red shadows move silently across walls. The everyday. And above Slough is a plane that a few hours ago was flying over the Caspian Sea. Slough-the Caspian: the plane a symbol of worldliness, carrying within itself a trace of all the lands it has crossed; its eternal mobility offering an imaginative counterweight to feelings of stagnation and confinement.

There is a chapter that talks about Wordsworth.  Next time I’m in London, I hope to pop into the School of Life.

The economic events of the last couple of years create an opportunity for business schools to rethink what they are about. They need to take a dose of  their own Schumpeterian Creative Destruction medicine.  As Prof Zuboff, a former HBS prof notes.

We weren’t stupid and we weren’t evil. Nevertheless we managed to produce a generation of managers and business professionals that is deeply mistrusted and despised by a majority of people in our society and around the world. This is a terrible failure.

I suggest you read the whole article. I’ll be buying Shoshana Zuboff’s book  The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next Episode of Capitalism.

Business education needs more profs like

One professor with a particular insight into the internal musings of MBA students is Srikumar Rao who has taught an MBA elective at London Business School, as well as schools in the US, with the grand title of Creativity and Personal Mastery. It requires students to plough through a reading list ranging from PG Wodehouse to books on Zen and quantum physics before addressing whether they even want to spend their lives working 15-hour days in the pursuit of riches. Rao says he is now encountering people “more ready to speak their minds. They are much more reflective. In fact, many have turned down offers at high-prestige firms in favour of asking, ‘What can I do that really brings meaning to my life?’.”

Unusually for a business school professor, Rao expresses serious misgivings about the fundamental ethos of such institutions: “Our top business schools are really not education institutions, they are indoctrination institutions. There are certain things which are so much dogma that you don’t even want to encourage any challenge to them – the primacy and efficiency of markets, maximising shareholder value. These things are not in question.” (via the Guardian)

Putting Wodehouse into a MBA gets my vote. One of my other favourite characters is fiction, Rumpole, has a habit of dipping into Arthur Quiller-Couch’s Oxford Book of English Verse. On twitter I follow someone who publishes a link to a Shakespeare sonnet everyday. I don’t always read them but I should. They often have a surprisingly modern relevance. Witness sonnet 11, line 14.

“Thou shouldst print more, not let that copy die”.

I read this just after reading about the Kindle DRM incident.


For those that doubt global warming, and the role that well executed global conventions  can play in helping address it, I suggest you have a look at the case of the ozone layer.

Via Chris Rowan’s blog,

Paul Newman (no, not that one) of NASA’s Goddard Centre (who have a nice write-up) and his colleagues play a game of climatic what if: what if the discovery that chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) destroyed stratospheric ozone had been ignored, and were not phased out in the decade following the signing of the Montreal Protocol in 1987?

You can see more on the NASA Goddard Centre site, but here is the simulation via youtube.

Now of course global warming is more complex, but if we are going to leave this planet in a decent shape for those that follow us, sitting on the fence isn’t really an option. Because sitting on the fence is the same as denying it.

I really enjoy my job except for


(fab photo from balakov)

ring,ring,ring, ring, ring (why the rings?)

tinkle tinkle

Welcome to the conference.

press 1 to join the conference, press 2 to press 3 to press 4 to press 5 to……….

please enter your 10 digit conference code followed by the #  Why 10 digits? is some nasty evil person looking to crack the code and listen to me talking about polish payroll?

please state your name followed by the #

Then listen to this really grim music. The musical equivalent of scratching a chalk board, or rubbing polystyrene with nylon, played on a early 1980’s mono tape deck with a stretched tape and sightly flat batteries.

Why cant it work this way?

I register my phone with you, so when I dial in from it, it takes me to the meeting directly.  If I need to be on hold, play me some music from my playlist, or via a profile website I pick something else I’d like to hear, the news perhaps, or Test Match Special

On renaming.

St Petersburg has had several name changes in its 300 years or so of existence, being known as St Petersburg, Petrograd, Leningrad and then back to St Petersburg. Czars, revolutionaries, dictators and democrats have all left their mark on maps, signs, history books and now navigation systems throughout Russia and the former Soviet Union. In South Africa several cities, roads, school, airports and national teams have had name changes, and rightly so.  However renaming a city or a road is not to be undertaken lightly. It causes confusion, creates costs and stirs up emotions. Names are important.

Take the case of  the newly named Archer’s Road. (via the Guardian)

A street in Sheffield that has been the butt of jokes for many years has finally won a battle to change its name to something less … behind the times.

Residents of Butt Hole Road long ago stopped seeing the funny side of the legions of titterers taking pictures of themselves with their pants down next to the road’s sign. After clubbing together to raise the £300 necessary to pay for a new sign, the local council has agreed to name the road Archers Way, in honour of its half-mile proximity to Conisbrough Castle.

There are many cases when a change in name makes good sense.

But why is it that some software companies keep changing their product names every few years? Do they understand and care about the pain, irritation and cost it inflicts on their customers?  Who exactly do they think they are helping other than the brochure department? Do they realise the vast forests of systems documentation that are made obsolete? The hours wasted doing find and replace in Powerpoints, and worse in the application code itself? The helpdesk and partner confusion?  The environmental impact alone of a large vendor changing product names is material. I wonder if I could plug that into a carbon footprint calculator? I bet it would be equivalent to a few jumbo jets or negate the impact of a newly minted LEED compliant building.

I’m beginning to think that we need to start referring to such applications as the application formerly known as…and…and before that….and before that….and originally. When road names change and country names change for the public good, it is normally because the people living there demand a change. I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing lots of enterprise software customers clamouring for the renaming of the systems. Most of them still call them by the original names anyway.