Sunday 21 April 2024

Hp 1010 printer on Windows 10

I have an ancient HP 1010 laserjet printer, bought back at university some 5 years ago (lol). Eventually I want to replace this with a wifi printer, but only when this one runs out of toner and so far it's refusing to die. Each timeI reinstall my computer, I have to figure out how to make it work again so here is a quick post for future me, or for anyone else who is looking to make an HP 1010 LaserJet work on a Window 10 machine.

I run Windows 10 64 bit edition and HP haven't produced a driver since Windows Vista. The printer is so old that Windows 10 doesn't automatically detect it as a printer. To keep it going, I have to jump through a few hoops.

First, download the Vista 64 bit driver.

Extract this somewhere.

Then in Device Manager, do Action -> Add Legacy Hardware. Select "printers" from list and in the port dropdown you'll find a USB printer entry. On the next screen, Have Disk then find the driver you've just extracted. Select the right printer and it should install.

And voila, the printer will now work from the local machine.

Of, if you've got a Linux machine sitting around, it should just work if plugged in (Ubuntu 22 for me).

Friday 8 March 2024

Celebrating the important people - part 1

Everyone can look back at their life and identify people who have had a huge influence on them, for better or worse. In my professional life I have been fortunate to meet a lot of great people, but there are four people who (in different but very positive ways) have had a profound effect on my career and development and are the ones to whom I give credit for my current position. I've been thinking about different ways to tell this story - partly because I'm deeply thankful to and for these individuals, and partly because I think it's important for anyone who works with others to realise the effect they can have on those around them.

Two of my four people are women, and so I'm going to celebrate these two and post today on International Women's Day (March 8th 2024 for future readers). I'm not going to name names because at least one of them will just be embarrassed by public praise and thanks, however if they do read this and give me permission I'll update / follow up later. If you read this and know who I'm talking about, please don't out anyone in the comments. For the moment I'm going to call them Amy and Bree.


I started my time in tech on an IT support desk, servicing whichever members of the university community walked up and asked questions. Amy offered me this role after she caught me behind the counter fixing a computer, helping out a friend who already had a job there. The interview lasted as long as "is that going to work?" "yes..." "want some shifts?". This was my first proper professional opportunity (previous jobs being typical student roles and work experience) and fundamentally set the course of my career in the Tech space - before this, my Dad and I were discussing some kind of management accountancy role. Amy opened a door here, but this was just the start.

Working on the helpdesk could have been a routine role doing shifts and bringing in enough to live on. Instead, Amy encouraged me to take on support for the university's student machines in our library and manage repair and maintenance myself. This was really quite significant for someone in their first role at the age of 21. In addition to the technical problem solving, Amy gave me experience with broader organisational problem solving and working with suppliers (some of whom were really awkward). When I spotted problems with our processes, Amy gave me the space to make improvements. Looking back, Amy gave me a huge amount of trust and freedom - especially considering my age and lack of experience. But this let me grow in professional confidence and laid the first foundations for me to think about work beyond Just The Day Job - a skill which has proved utterly invaluable throughout my career. At the time, I had no idea this wasn't the norm but looking back, Amy broke the "tech for tech's sake" thought trap in me before I even fell into it. Without ever using the phrases, she made me focus on the user needs and the broader systems at play.

All this was incredibly valuable, but what happened next was a step beyond. After just over a year in this role, I had to approach Amy and say I needed to move on. I was enjoying my time working on the helpdesk but the lease on my house was running out, flatmates were moving away and this wasn't a role I could keep doing for much longer. I was preparing to move home to my parents and strike out from there.

Amy had other ideas. Next thing I knew, I was in a meeting with a couple of very senior people in Computing Services and she was telling them "this is someone you need to keep". She didn't so much open a door here as kick it open and demand attention and this led directly to my first developer job. While the helpdesk experience was incredible learning, it was this action that locked me into a career in Tech and it was 100% down to her decision and willingness to stick her neck out for me. This one action literally led to my current situation, sitting here as a senior tech leader with a wealth of highly technical experience behind me.

Looking back, Amy was incredible to me even if I was too young and foolish to realise it at the time. She embedded particular ways of thinking that are still of value daily today and literally set my future field for me. She believed in me, helped me build my confidence and gave me space to learn and experiment. I hope I pass this on to those around me.


Many years later, I had been working through a very difficult time at work. The year had resulted in serious burnout and a complete destruction of my professional confidence. I reached a point I could not continue, and left my role with no role to go to. I needed time to rest and recover, then figure out what I wanted to do next because I did not feel confident to do the kind of role I'd been occupying. 

I got an email which led to a conversation which all boiled down to "Hi, it's Bree. I hear you're leaving Blah? Any plans? We might be hiring! Would you be interested in helping me work through a major org change?"

I have no words to communicate how important it was to have this kind of conversation at this at this stage in my life. In short order, I was back in the maelstrom of change and leadership but with some essential differences. This time, I felt respected by the organisation and it felt like people actually wanted me to be there. This is entirely down to Bree and her decision to reach out and I cannot express how thankful I am to her.

Honestly, I came into this space damaged and it took me a long time to start to relax into the role. Bree gave me support and space to heal while I ramped up. She restored my professional confidence and gave me a forward trajectory at a time when I was seriously considering turning my back on this profession. Bree showed me a possible future for my career and encouraged (and shoved) me towards it.

Not that she gave me an easy ride! Bree pushed and challenged, expanding my boundaries and horizons. She demanded excellence, but a new thing for me was also having to work to define what excellence meant before then having to (attempt to) achieve it. Bree kept this challenge in a very positive setting, which made the difficulties an interesting problem rather than a trial by fire. It is very hard to constantly push for better without damaging morale, but Bree's leadership told a clear and inclusive story: "we can do better - let's get there together". Many responded well to this, and we saw a strong culture developing from this simple but inspirational message.

Bree taught me so much about operating at senior leadership levels - how to set a culture, how to polish communication, how to put myself into the wider conversation, how to articulate value, not to mention how to run a broad department while keeping a hand on the details. She helped me learn and refine key skills, but more importantly she helped me develop the ways of thinking which drive them. These are strong foundations from which to develop and evolve and this is an incredibly valuable gift.

These days I have a very minor public profile. This blog post will appear via LinkedIn - I've mentioned before how posting there was a big step for me and taking that step was again thanks to Bree encouraging me to develop my platform in this way. Before, I had some thoughts for how the industry could improve and thanks to her, these are more than random muses and I am thinking in terms of what I can actually do to change and influence things.

Bree has had a huge influence on my career by helping me think differently and challenging me to stretch myself and grow. She also gave me the support to heal through encouragement and belief when I needed it the most, not to mention opening doors into different worlds. Most importantly, Bree made me believe in myself as a senior leader at a time when I absolutely did not. It's hard to imagine a greater gift.

To loop back to the top, I wanted to post this on International Women's Day to recognise and celebrate the impact of these two women on my life. They have profoundly affected my career and if you've got this far I also want to challenge you to try to be on someone's list one day. We can all do this - take the time to invest in people, develop them and have a little faith. It sounds easy boiled down, but it takes thought and effort. These two did it, and I spend most days trying to live up to this standard.

Sunday 25 February 2024

Failing upwards

Humans are fascinating aren't they? Everyone is different, behaves differently, thinks differently... and before looking at others we can spend a lifetime just understanding our own minds and thought processes. I try to spend a lot of time reflecting (often I then write those thoughts down here) and one area I find very interesting is how I learn. I blame my mother for this - she's a teacher and embedded in me an interest in the different ways people learn and understand.

Like many others, one of the ways I learn is experimentation around the boundaries. If I know how a system or a situation is supposed to work, I will sometimes see what happens one step beyond the stated limit. This is particularly useful with computers where one can watch log outputs and understand the complex system while modifying variables. However, it's also useful exploring options and testing perceived limits in the office. One of my first decisions as a senior leader was around a change in recruitment policy which nobody could work out how to sign off. I just ... did. Mostly to see if anyone would tell me I'd overstepped.

That was some five years ago, and as far as I know it was never reverted. Importantly, I discovered that the actual limit to my authority in this role was way beyond where people mentally placed it, and it moved the moment I challenged. So, armed with this knowledge, I then had a whole new space to explore what could be done.

Before moving on, I fully acknowledge that this is hardly sophisticated. While I like to think I've learned some more finesse over the years, "pushing boundaries" is what what two year olds do to try to understand the world. They push the parents to see how far they can go before getting put back in their place. But they do say we lose our inquisitiveness and bravery as we grow older...

Anyway, the reason for this post (other than outing myself as a 6' child) is reflecting this into the workspace. At work, I spend a lot of time developing people and a vital part of that is thinking about how they can push their own limits and move further forward. I've seen very smart people stunt their own growth through their fear of failure - unwillingness to push themselves forward and potentially be wrong.

This is problematic in general, but lethal if an individual's aspirations are to reach the highest levels of an organisation. At that point, there is no manual and you're thinking on your feet the majority of the time. You have to be able to see where you are being limited - by yourself, by the org processes, whatever - and seek ways to push through and improve the situation. For those of us in leadership, that means giving people the space to explore into an area where they might fail and then allow them to find their own way through, even if this isn't quite as clean or direct as we'd necessarily like. Clearly we should help where needed (after all, not all failures are equal) but it's no use constantly being training wheels as this will never build confidence. Worse, it might lead individuals to see the problem as "what makes Tom happy" rather than "what needs to be done to make this situation better" at which point I'm doing all the thinking and that is neither helpful nor sustainable.

Obviously what I'm talking about here is managing the fear of failure (not necessarily by removing all the consequences) and building a psychologically safe environment. If individuals can push the limit of what they can do, they can learn and grow. They can grow towards the next step on their career, and that means instead of having a report we've got a report who is behaving more like us - or at least our level. This is great for their growth, and infinitely more useful to us as leaders as when they've developed the skills we can spend less time managing them and more time leading.

So let's encourage our people to make themselves vulnerable, give them a space where that is safe and let them do things that are imperfect so they can develop the skills to be as perfect as us (ha). Let's encourage some failure?

Saturday 27 January 2024

Exercise in the new year

It's the start of a new year and I've made a few resolutions around fitness. Many are the same as the ones I made last year, which gives you an idea of how well these things tend to go for me.

I regularly see both a PT and a soft tissue therapist. Both are excellent (if you are in the Bath area and want a recommendation, give me a shout). My problem is that while it's very good for me, I don't really like the gym. I find picking up the thing then putting it down again entirely pointless and I don't really get much from the weight getting bigger. I've been trying to explore my thinking here with these two fine folk and I think we've finally brought together some disparate thoughts into something helpful.

First, I see the gym in general as a support activity rather than a means to an end. Rather than finding the activity and any progress compelling in themselves, I only get enjoyment when I see other activities getting easier / faster / better as a result. When I was younger, I did a lot of martial arts training - that was my exercise endpoint and I took pleasure getting better. Gym and other raw cardio training helped with the martial arts, so I enjoyed it. I have been out of martial arts training for some time, and I've been trying to use the gym as a substitute. This doesn't work for me, and I need to find an alternative.

Fortunately, I have just the thing. I have been a keen badminton player since I was a teenager and during my adult life I've been in and out of playing depending on time (ie work) and availability of people to play against. I've just started playing again and it is a lot of fun, while also being a great focus as a reason to get fitter.

Second, talking to these professionals has helped me realise there a third kind of fitness. Previously I've thought about fitness as important for health - which is obviously the most important thing, but really boring when abstract - and to power other sport as above. However, there is also the fitness that powers our ability to do basic "athletic" things like twisting and jumping.

Like many, I work a desk job and my current employment is remote. If I don't make the effort, I can easily clock in about 200 steps in the course of a day - sedentary doesn't really cover it. Continental plates move more than I actually need to, which is why I force myself to walk a few miles every day after work. Being like this is not that unusual in the modern world and many people of my age really struggle to walk any distance or jump a stream or physically twist. Our bodies atrophy and generally forget how to do these things. I realise I find this frustrating, and retraining simple jumps and twists and so on is something that I enjoy - and I get a lot out of seeing my progress. Some shifting around my training schedule has changed the focus and this has really helped with my engagement, which means I push harder and get a lot more out of it. Of course, training snowballs - when it starts going well it builds on itself. Getting started is often the hardest.

I'm sure many reading this will finding it blindingly obvious, but I have never really understood my own positive triggers when it comes to exercise and maybe recording my thinking here will help someone in my position. As I've said many times before, half of writing this blog is a way for me to arrange my thoughts so I understand myself and any readers are here for the ride...

Plus, it means I get to write about playing badminton again (and winning :-) ).

Sunday 31 December 2023

The year that was, 2023

Well, it's the end of another year and it has been a strange one. It hasn't been a terrible year, like some recently. But I also don't seem to have done anything except work. In review at the end of the year, I feel I've learned a lot and I feel very tired. So let's see whether I've achieved anything at all - there has to be a bit more then Hell Let Loose and Roboquest.

  • 14 posts on this blog (15 including this one) - ninth consecutive year of a post per month
  • Started posting my blog posts on LinkedIn - small thing, but a big deal for me
  • Another year of the Year in Pictures - ninth year and we're up to 40 photographers
  • 224 Github contributions - well down on last year
  • Rebuilt my email setup so email actually arrives
  • Finished replatforming all my apps
  • Started playing D&D again
  • Started writing a D&D setting too
  • Some reading
  • Managed to see a few friends for the first time in years
  • Foraging cookery course
  • Completed another escape room
  • Stripped down and repaired the taps in my kitchen
  • Finally sorted out the signatories on the house bank account (2+ years!!)
  • Another year of exercise with a personal trainer
  • Established a good physiotherapy regime
  • Another year of the Saturday morning exercise class
  • Won an award for CIO potential
  • Spoke at a conference about the future of tech
  • Yet more instagramming
  • More photos on my Flickr stream

Resolution count - 3/10. Utterly awful.

This time last year I wrote this:

"Looking forward to 2023, I'm going to write the same thing I write every year. I need to spend less time working and more time living."

It really has been a strange year. I seem to have been constantly busy and yet outside of work achieved very little. I feel like I've spent so much of the year on the back foot - whether that's because I've been worn out, or because I've spent time doing things for other people and not moving forward with things I want to do. My resolution count shows this - lowest in years. For various reasons, I've not been able to prioritise much for myself. I've learned very little, and not completed many projects leaving an overall sense of emptiness.

It has been a sub-optimal year for physical health. I've had a year of blood tests for chronic fatigue (fortunately nothing) and all manner of problems with my hips which have blown apart my fitness. I've been nursing injuries since May and while training and physio has helped, I feel like I've moved backwards (and outwards) this year. This is something I really want to turn around in 2024 if I can avoid damaging myself any more.

Also, while I don't feel too bad as I write this, I think my mental health has taken a battering this year. My work / life balance is completely off - the worst it has been in years. However, unlike previous years when this has been the case at least I'm enjoying the challenge this time around. But that doesn't change that work has been full on, which has led to much exhaustion and doing less of my own things while I hid and recovered.

All that said, while my real-life has been less than ideal my work-life has been doing ok. I have achieved a lot in my current role and even won an industry award which was rather surprising. I don't write about work much during this year-end post but this year it's worth calling out the success to contrast ... well ... everything else.

So some words for 2024...

Looking forward to 2024, I'm going to write the same thing I write every year. I need to spend less time working and more time living.


More seriously, I want to focus on my health - physical and mental. I need to increase the quality of my time across the board. The time I spend at work needs to be better spent. Outside of work, I need to make better use of the time I have - doing more, and resting better. I definitely need to do more myself instead of chasing round after other people. This year - quality over quantity.

Time for 2024. Tally-ho.

Saturday 30 December 2023

Professional new year resolutions

It's my favourite time of the year - the null zone between Christmas and New Year where nobody is doing anything, the weather is awful and hiding away is socially acceptable. I can sit with a laptop, learning about things I never find time to touch during the year and slowly become one with a chair. All without any guilt that I should be doing something else.

Every year I write new year resolutions and then do an end of year summary however this always focuses on my personal life. This year has been VERY work-heavy so I thought I'd also write some extra new year resolutions for my professional life and why I think they are important. It's the holidays so don't expect anything enormously insightful - there is a huge list of things I should be doing, and this is more about where I should refocus myself for the new year. Here we go.

More engagement

Anyone who has read Future Engage Deliver knows that you can have a vision (Future) and set everything up for output (Deliver), but if you don't bring people along (Engage) your success is going to be limited at best. This ranges from simple visibility through to detailed talking about strategy to everyone, both in the team and wider. When physically in the office some of this happens just by not hiding behind a closed door, but when working remote those corridor conversations don't happen - there is the need for more deliberate mapping of communications and touchpoints.

My area is now essentially a remote working group and that creates a need for more deliberate communication. We're also in a time of change - a very exciting time, but change is always unsettling. This is going to make engagement even more important.

I don't think I'm too bad at engagement - but only when I prioritise it. There has been a LOT going on, and good engagement takes time and energy - two things that have been especially in short supply in Q4 2023. So for 2024 I'm going to look to make two changes. First, make sure my engagement is of a higher quality. Second, and more important at the moment, I'm going to prioritise engagement which means finding or making more time for it.

Give back more

The Tech industry can be a pretty bleak place at times, and the only way that will improve is by all of us doing what we can to make it better. Over the years I've tutored, coached, mentored and set up groups. These days I'm still mentoring people across several different organisations - particularly people who are leading software engineers, and software people who want to progress into senior management. I also sit on the London Data Board, I've done some consulting with groups looking to restructure (both paid and pro bono) and I've spoken at conferences about technical leadership.

I get a lot out of these kind of things and I am going to assume it's helpful! I'd like to find ways to do more. If you'd like a chat do reach out. Otherwise, I need to explore some ideas around this - ways to share / cooperate / mentor and so on. I'm not very clear what I can do beyond more mentoring (I'll post about that in the new year) but I'd like to find something.

Do less

Both of the above will take time and while we insist on saying "make time" this is actually impossible. Time is a fixed resource and needs to be spent effectively. What I want to do in 2024 is to make sure the time I have is spent on quality activities. For 2024, that is going to mean two things. First, a renewed focus on delivery - getting things out the door rather than spinning wheels and sustaining. This will also help with the good feels - everyone likes achieving things. 

Second, I'm going to ensure the various meetings and governance processes I attend are providing proper value. As mentioned earlier, we are in a time of change and that can easily mean overlapping or redundant org processes. This only costs us time and energy, so finding and stopping them helps not just me but everyone. I'm going to push back hard where it seems appropriate to do so to protect my time.

Work / life balance

Actually, there IS a way to "make time" - work more hours. That has been my default in 2023 and to everyone's surprise it has proven unsustainable. In 2024, I need to balance work and life better. This doesn't just mean looking at working hours - I need to put things in my off-time and have the energy to do them. I know there are problems when I'm not doing anything in my free time because I'm too tired so this is a move to protect my mental health.

So that's it. In 2024 I'm going to work on how I engage with people, I'm going to find ways to give more back to the industry, I'm going to focus my time at work and I'm going to improve my work / life balance. Any guesses how I'm going to get on? Happy new year!

Monday 13 November 2023

Sending email in 2023

"Your email keeps going into my junk box" - everyone.

I use a vanity domain to front my email address. I used to run a simple setup where the domain was basically masking my Gmail account. Incoming was handled by a wildcard forward in the domain host. Outgoing, I simply rewrote the email envelope with my desired email address. Essentially I was spoofing the outgoing email.

Gmail used to let me do this, but clamped down years ago requiring proper authentication with an SMTP host however the old setup still worked, as long as I didn't change anything.

Then the big email providers started clamping down on this kind of thing. In an effort to combat spam, email is increasingly complicated and the wider ecosystem is getting more locked down. There is a big rumble about the big providers essentially pushing smaller email providers out by blanket not trusting them, making it increasingly difficult to run your own email setup. This post is not about that, rather it's how I stopped my email started going into junk boxes. I was forging my own sender address, which is exactly the kind of behaviour you see from various types of spam. Nice.

So, on the assumption I wanted my email to arrive I needed to revisit my configuration and set this up properly. I did a bit of work, so I thought I'd write up here so I can repair it in future if needs be, and it's in one place on the offchance it helps anyone else.

Incoming email - you're emailing me

Not many changes here - although I use a combination of Cloudflare and Ionos DNS these days, but a blanket forwarding rule in the Ionos config from the whole domain still works.

Outgoing email - I'm emailing you

Ok, this is where it gets interesting. I can still send email, setting the domain to whatever I want, but my emails are being flagged as spam. This is because the receiving hosts are trying to protect the account owners from spam and my setup was being flagged as spam. Obvious note - I set up a test Gmail account for receiving email so I could test the effects of my settings.

Outgoing SMTP server

First thing was properly configuring an outgoing mail server. In theory, this can be done with the Gmail SMTP service but while I could authenticate properly I found my email still ended up flagged as spam. I'm sure there is a way to do this properly but for the moment I instead turned to SendGrid and this documentation was useful.

A free account allows 100 emails per day - plenty for me. Nobody wants to hear more of me than that. In the SendGrid interface it is easy to create a API key (Settings -> API keys) with appropriate emailing sending permission then when adding the server details, just select / apikey / $YourKey. Only slight gotcha is making sure you get the port right (SSL over port 465). This should authenticate properly and email can be sent - although it'll probably be going to junk again.

Next up, setting up DKIM. This stands for DomainKeys Identified Mail - an email authentication method designed which allows the recipient to check that an email came from the domain it claims, and was allowed by the domain owner. The setup is found in Settings -> Sender Authentication. You might be able to get away with Single Sender Verification, but I did the full Domain Authentication. You need to be able to modify your domain's DNS settings for this to work properly.

If the setup doesn't seem to be working properly you can test the individual additions on the command line with a tool like dig.

dig should give a NOERROR response. If it's not, the setting isn't right or it hasn't refreshed yet.

Finally, assuming this is for personal email you'll want to disable link tracking. This rewrites links in your email for marketing purposes and likely break any links you send unless you configure it properly. Turn it off with Settings -> Tracking -> Click tracking -> disable and links will work again.

Other DNS setup

There are two other DNS entries that can help with proving email provenance - SPF and DMARC. I'm not sure whether I needed all these for a minimal setup, but they do work best when all three are present. I did configure them, so I'm capturing what I did. 

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) is another way to ensure the mail server sending an email is allowed to send via this domain. It works by defining which servers can send email, so the client can check, rather than directly encrypting the connection (the DKIM approach). The setup is fairly simple, and can be checked with tools like this.

An SPF policy which allows sending from Gmail and SendGrid servers might look like this:

v=spf1 ~all

DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting & Conformance) helps receiving mail systems decide what to do with incoming mail that fails validation via SPF or DKIM. So this is worthless without at least one of the other two.

A rule which tells the receiver to mark failing email as spam and send reports to the given email address would look like this:



And lo, email appears to be flowing again. I hope something here helps. To finish, I want to note that I'm not an email expert - not even close. If you are, and you're seeing somewhere I've written something stupid please reach out and I'll correct and attribute.