Chris Croft's Personal Blog

June 26, 2011

Test yourself

Filed under: Managing People, Project Management, Time Management — chriscroft @ 11:13 am

Working with my good friend Andrew Bourke at Studioverse we have produced these self-diagnostic quizzes, which are fun and interesting, I hope you like them

How good a manager are you?

How good at Time Management are you?

How good are you at Project Management?

If you have questions and outputs that you want to put into a quiz format like this we can easily make them for you – email me if interested



June 20, 2011

Review of London Feis

Filed under: Music — chriscroft @ 10:10 am

We went to just the second day, which fortunately was the one without rain. All the coloured wellies in evidence weren’t needed in the end.

Cry Before Dawn kicked off the music, at noon, and were unexpectedly good, though lacked that one killer track to make them famous. The songs had the feel of With or without you, with atmospheric guitar and an Irish tinge to the chords.

Next was Foy Vance, one of those amazing stomp box loop guitar bluesy guys, great voice, great performance, a must see live.

Next were Hothouse Flowers, great to see again after 25 years, singing Don’t Go and Trying to get through, a virtuoso band who were having fun being there.

Next was Jimmy Cliff, not Celtic at all, but a bloke in a gold metallic suit with a massive band playing reggae that I found quite boring, it just didn’t have the soul of the Irish stuff. I think he was added to the bill just because he was in London on his tour. But to be fair, the crowd did love him. We slipped away to tent 2 and saw Teddy Thompson, son of Richard and Linda Thompson, who was OK but not quite his dad.

Next was Clannad, legends, but they wafted around looking old and pretentious and didn’t move me, which was disappointing. We tried Mary Coughlan in tent 2 but she was wasting her great voice on some boring jazz songs (nothing wrong with jazz, but her material just seemed dull).

Next up were Horslips (who?) and after Clannad they had no problem rocking the place, with a sort of sub-Tull electric folk rock which was really fun.

Next was Van Morrison, with a gold mic stand and a massive band, great sound quality, really got the crowd going with lots of old favourites, though a few too many 12 bars for me. I had to miss quite a bit of Van unfortunately, since Sally and I wanted to see Paul Brady, one of our favourites ever since we visited Ireland and discovered him on the radio there. Despite poor sound (what is it with these idiots on the mixing desk, too much reverb, vocal too low, guitar too harsh…) he was just great. How can Nothing But The Same Old Story not bring a tear to your eye? A dedicated crowd of people who had given up Van to see him made him feel really welcome, and he walked a great line between having fun on stage and putting across some really emotional songs.

Then it was Thin Lizzy, a four guitar assault with a fantastic back catalogue to draw on. I wouldn’t have finished on Black Rose, and Scott Gorham’s guitar was a bit indistinct, but what fun we had shouting along to Whiskey in the jar and The boys are back in town…..

Getting out only took five minutes, no Glasto marathon, since the festival wasn’t full and access was easy anyway. If you live in London it’s a no brainer to go to this next time.

June 18, 2011

Junk Calls are no more

Filed under: Gadgets, Happiness, Lists — chriscroft @ 9:51 am

I joined the TPS a while ago and that did pretty well for a while, but foreign companies (nice people from India and horrible machine calls from the USA) don’t care about the TPS. Also, surveys are exempt, so you get “A quick survey about windows” rather than “Wanna buy some windows?”

So for a bit I have been using some fun techniques, like

– asking them questions back, like their name, middle name, date of birth, what sort of chair are they sitting on, what sort of pants are they wearing, – the questions getting gradually weirder until they hang up
– asking them if I could have their number so I can call them back, and then ‘when are they having dinner, so I can do it then?’
– asking them out on a date because their voice sounds really nice
– saying “Hang on a minute, I’ll just get a pen” and then never coming back
– screaming suddenly very loudly into the headset (actually I’ve never done this one, and the trouble with all these is that I feel a bit sorry for the person, after all they’re only doing a job, and a difficult one at that)
– this one made me laugh Background noise just as you give them your credit card number
– Ask them to repeat everything they say, several times.
– Tell them that all business goes through your agent, and hand the phone to your five year old child.
– Tell them you are hard of hearing and that they need to speak up…louder…louder…louder!
– If they start out with, “How are you today?”,say “I’m so glad you asked, because no one these days seems to care, and I have all these problems…………”
– Cry out in surprise, “Helen, is that you? I’ve been hoping you’d call! How is the family?” When they insist they are not Helen, tell them to stop joking. This works especially well if the telemarketer is really MALE.
– Just keep saying “Hello?”, “Hello?”, “is anybody there…hello?” This really frustrates them as they can see there is no way to begin their potentially lucrative sales call!

anyway, I’ve got the answer now, thanks to my brother who saw it on dragon’s den – it’s the trueCall box!

You plug it in in between your phone and your phone’s wall socket and off it goes! Callers have to give their name (silent calls get blocked before it even lets your phone ring at all) and then your phone rings and you get a message saying “I have….”Dave”.(in his voice!)… on the line for you, do you want to take the call?” and then you can either take it as a one off, take it and star him no next time he gets straight through, or you can send it to answerphone and listen while they leave a message, or block him so next time it doesn’t even ring, he just gets a message saying “You’ve been blocked, don’t call again”. And even with answerphone messages you can star them or block them for when they next call. So the good people only get your “Who are you?” message once, and the bad guys have no chance of getting through. I love it!

You can import your phone book into it as well (via website) so they all get starred, but I’m not that organised so I’m just doing it as we go along.

You need caller ID on your phone line, but with Virgin that’s free, and I think it’s free with BT as well, so not a problem.

As they say on the gadget show, Great Tech!

details at though cheaper to buy it from DS Telecom where it is £86

It’s been on the gadget show as well –

June 4, 2011

My favourite dog videos on youtube

Filed under: Happiness, Lists, Random stuff - uncategorisable — chriscroft @ 11:37 am

Guilty dog –
Dog tease –
Skate boarding dog –
Dancing Merengue Dog –
Bicycling dog conga line –
Dancing Chihuahua –

I can’t put them in order – it’s like choosing between your children!


PS – also good: static electricity dog:

and the skipping dogs


June 3, 2011

Life expectancy after retirement

Filed under: Careers, Happiness, Time Management — chriscroft @ 11:46 am

I sent this out as a tip last week, and, as I expected, got lots of replies!

The main themes of the replies seem to be

a) “What if you don’t retire at 65 but keep on working?” – I don’t know the answer, but I suspect that keeping working does keep you alive longer, but if you eventually retire at, say 75, then you probably don’t last long after that

b) “What about other professions?” Yes, this would be great, because the difficulty is how do you assess how stressed a job is? – If anyone has any links to websites which have life expectancy after retirement sorted by profession, I’d love to know. Someone told me that only 30% of Naval Chief Petty Officers make it to the retirement age of 55! But is this really true? Come on all you actuaries out there – what have you got??

c) “Is it all just an urban myth?” – I was sent one link to a site claiming this, saying that Boeing have condemned it all as a myth, but the site was less credible than the original one that mentioned the Boeing stats, so who knows? Certainly there is lots of anecdotal evidence of people living to old ages but also of people keeping over just after retiring…

and here’s another site that looks very authoritative – I think the data looks as if it really is true!

d) “Is the data skewed in some way, like richer people can afford to retire earlier and are already likely to be healthier?” – again, I have no way of knowing. If anyone has more info I’d love to hear from them

e) “Can we have the link to the Guardian article?” I wish I could find this! i have searched the Grauniad website to no avail. I do wonder whether information on life expectancy is taken down from the net, as the government don’t want us to know that we won’t draw most of our pensions, work is all there is, “behave and you’ll have a nice retirement” is all a myth etc. Also, the money men who run the annuity schemes don’t want us to know the real odds and how much we are paying them for how little we’ll probably get. Just a paranoid theory of mine!


anyway, here is my original post:

Possibly a depressing one this week, but then again, you need to know!

Key facts: (and these apply only from people retiring from stressful jobs):

For people retired at the age of 50, their average life span is 86;
whereas for people retired at the age of 65, their average life span is only 66.8.

For every year one works beyond age 55, one loses 2 years of life span on average.

The Boeing experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 18 months, on average, prior to death. Similarly, the Lockheed experience is that employees retiring at age of 65 receive pension checks for only 17 months, on average, prior to death. I have heard the same figures for UK teachers (the article was in the Guardian, so it must be true…)

retire die left


See also

The moral is that if you’re able to retire early, even if the financial deal isn’t great, take it!

So if you’d rather be in denial then sorry I told you about this, but I do hope it helps you make informed decisions – apart from anything, to avoid stress if you can (…if only!)

Onwards and Outwards


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