Mobile Internet meets Peugeot 308

736B9986-9CE4-4E9E-8B1E-53F9440DD2DA.jpgWhere would I be without mobile internet? Probably still sitting at a petrol station somewhere along the M1.

While attempting to drive back to London I became aware that my rented Peugeot 308 was running a bit dry on windshield washer fluid (albeit not because it warned me of this, it has no windshield wiper fluid warning light as it turns out!). Off I pulled into the roadside station to pick up some wiper fluid thinking this should be a relatively simple task – you know, buy wiper fluid, open hood, open wiper fluid, pour into fluid container. Not so much. 10 minutes later I was still walking around the car trying to find the lever to crack open the hood. While I am no mechanic, I like to think I checked the spots this lever would typically be:

  • A lever underneath the steering wheel.
  • A button under the arm rest in the centre console.
  • A button on the side of the driver seat.
  • A button inside the glove box.
  • A lever on the passenger side underneath the glove box.
  • A button in the trunk. (yes I know, a stretch, but I was getting desperate!).

Always the last thing to check of course, but I did also try and check the instruction manual. However, as luck may have it the rental company conveniently did not include it as part of the package.

Finally after becoming somewhat disgruntled that I could not find something as simple as the hood opener I got back in the car and thought about what to do next.  Then, eureka!  Google was clearly the answer – through the magic of mobile internet there may still be hope for me to get the windshield wiper fluid filled up!

I picked up my Blackberry and typed into Google: “hood opener peugeot 308”.

Results: nothing of any interest.

Frustrated at first, I then came to the realization of my perhaps North American centric search terms, and swapped out “hood” for “bonnet”.


Up came a few sites, all of which went on to complain about the lack of a windshield wiper warning light as well as the location of the “bonnet” opener.  Which, as it turns out, is conveniently located in a virtually invisible lever in the border of the door frame on the passenger side of the vehicle.  Hallelujah, the bonnet is open and my windshield wiper reservoir is filled up!

In the absence of mobile internet and Google, where would this answer have come from?  I probably could have found a number from the rental company to call and, assuming they were still open, perhaps I could have been connected to someone who knew the answer. I would hope so, but thats probably optimistic. Another alternative would be to find someone at the petrol station who knew the Peugeot’s more subtle details, or to call someone who could have checked the internet on my behalf to answer the question. Whether any of these solutions would have given me the answer I was looking for is up for argument but no doubt they all would have taken more time and quite likely led me to the decision that wiper fluid wasn’t all that critical and I could make it the remaining 20 miles home by leveraging the spray of cars in front of me to clean my windshield. Clearly not a great option – so needless to say I am pleased to have found yet another useful application of mobile internet – finding out how to open a bonnet on a Peugeot 308.

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Jobs, Life, Creativity and Passion

I just finished reading Seth Godin’s new book – Tribes. As normal with Seth’s books he frequently goes into various stories throughout to make his points, this book was no exception with one particular story that really caught my attention.

Here is the excerpt from Tribes:

How Was Your Day?

It’s four a.m. and I can’t sleep. So I’m sitting in the lobby of a hotel in Jamaica, checking my e-mail.

A couple walks by, obviously on their way to bed, having pushed the idea of vacation a little too hard. The woman looks over to me and, in a harsh whisper a little quieter than a yell, says to her friend, “Isn’t that sad? That guy comes here on vacation and he’s stuck checking his e-mail. He can’t even enjoy his two weeks off.”

I think the real question – the one they probably wouldn’t want to answer – was, “Isn’t it sad that we have a job where we spend two weeks avoiding the stuff we have to do fifty weeks a year?”

Seth Godin, Tribes (2008)

I suspect that for the vast majority of people the idea of having a job which drives such passion that you do not mind, in fact you want, to make it part of your life is just a step too far. It is, presumably, why whenever we ask people about how their job is going it inevitably begins with a groan and ends with a “I need another drink!”.

Can a work environment be created that allows many more of us to feel a similar way about their work to how Seth does? I had the opportunity to see Gary Hamel speak a few months back and if we believe in the vision he presented it seems like this is not only possible but it will be an economic necessity for developed nations. An excerpt of the content he covered a few months ago is available here and very much worth the 20 minutes to listen to the podcast.

We’re going to have to get people to bring to work their initiative, their creativity, their passion, and those are human capabilities that cannot be commanded. Those are gifts that people either choose to bring to work or not.

Gary Hamel

One of Gary Hamel’s central premises is that organizations up to now have been managed by seeking out those with Intellect, Diligence, and Obedience (attributes he argues are now a virtual commodity) but now and in the future survival of companies will be dependent upon finding those with the additional talents of Creativity, Initiative, and Passion. It seems logical then that to support and attract these individuals, organizations will have to adapt and create a work environment where those with these talents will want to put their unique skills to work – and as Gary says – choose to give these ‘gifts’ to the place that they work.

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The Gimli Glider

Last weeks Boeing 777 crash landing at Heathrow reminded me of the phenomenal story of the Gimli Glider in Canada in 1983. CBC has a video report from 1983 online as well, gotta love the old 80’s videos.

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What happened to October?

It’s been a busy month and I can honestly say I’ve not put a lot of time into writing recently, or at least writing about things on my own volition about topics of my choosing. This is largely because I had the great pleasure (please note sarcasm) of spending a fair chunk of time last month preparing for my GMAT and while it was very exciting re-learning about Isosceles triangles and analyzing the case for building a new ski lodge in Anytown, USA I am very glad that experience is now behind me.

Of course, just as one task completes another one takes its place. Now that the GMAT has been written and I am pleased with my score there is nothing impeding me from moving forward with applying to schools other than the rather important issue of whether or not I am actually ready to commit the time and $ to go forward with doing an MBA. So for the next little while this question will be filling my mind in the hopes that at some point the mist that clouds this decision will soon be burnt away and I will suddenly have clarity about what to do.

While I continue to ponder the expensive MBA, I’ve been using the reading list defined in the somewhat cheaper Personal MBA to guide my spare time reading. Most recently I’ve been reading The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker. Mind you I am only a quarter of the way through the book but I was intrigued by his commentary on the so-called “man of knowledge” (or perhaps in today’s terms “person of knowledge”).

“The man of knowledge has always been expected to take responsibility for being understood. It is barbarian arrogance to assume that the layman can or should make the effort to understand him, and that it is enough if the man of knowledge talks to a handful of fellow experts who are his peers. Even in the university or in the research laboratory, this attitude – alas, only too common today- condemns the expert to uselessness and converts his knowledge from learning into pedantry. If a man wants to be an executive – that is, if he wants to be considered responsible for his contribution – he has to concern himself with the usability of his “product” – that is, his knowledge.”

– Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive

Being that my wife is quite involved in the field of usability I’ve grown a great appreciation for why usability is fundamentally important to products and services. However, I have never given any consideration to the fact that knowledge itself can be usable (or even not usable). The funny thing is that when I think about it this is probably something we all encounter everyday. We’ve probably all requested some piece of information from a co-worker or friend and what we received back was either not exactly what you were looking for or just simply resulted in more questions. In other words the information provided back to you was not usable and for all intents and purposes you end up no better off having asked for the information than if you had never even bothered.

In any case, definitely an interesting idea. With any luck the rest of the book will be just as interesting.

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More on Indigo

My sister, over at Megoagain, has provided some further discussion around the Indigo Experience and more generally about how technology has changed the way we do things like buy books. I would definitely agree with her point that things like shopping methods have changed with the advent of the web and even moreso as a result of so much user generated content. I know for me personally (to the occasional frustration of my wife!) I find it difficult to go ahead and buy anything without first performing extensive research on the web to get the opinions of the community at large on products as varied as books, stereo equipment, travel destinations and much more.

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