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For 2023 - we are now fully retired from IT training.
We have made many, many friends over 25 years of teaching about Python, Tcl, Perl, PHP, Lua, Java, C and C++ - and MySQL, Linux and Solaris/SunOS too. Our training notes are now very much out of date, but due to upward compatability most of our examples remain operational and even relevant ad you are welcome to make us if them "as seen" and at your own risk.

Lisa and I (Graham) now live in what was our training centre in Melksham - happy to meet with former delegates here - but do check ahead before coming round. We are far from inactive - rather, enjoying the times that we are retired but still healthy enough in mind and body to be active!

I am also active in many other area and still look after a lot of web sites - you can find an index ((here))
''I don't know'' is sometimes a good answer

There's just a few occasions when I'm training that I'm asked a question I don't know the answer to. It's not very common, since I actually write the courses / material and I know most of the things that people are likely to ask. And I've learnt that on those few occasions, being honest and saying I don't know is far and away the best answer to give.

But ... I tend not to leave it at that. Questions are asked for a genuine reason and my answer should be expanded. If I don't know, how can I do that? Firstly, we have a library of over 600 books on technical topics where I can look the answer up, or direct my trainee to do so. Then with my computer science background and extensive commercial experience there's a good chance that I can deduce the answer or formulate a test to work it out. And of course there's the web - anything from the excellent manual sites of open source products such as mysql and PHP through various FAQs such as the ones on Python and Perl to forums such as our own Opentalk and Webforumz. And if that still doesn't turn up the answer, a few Google searches are more than likely to lead to an answer, or at the very least to someone else asking the same question.

Taking an educated guess - provided that it's stated as such - is often an option for questions which are asked more out of interest than necessity, but I'll rarely make a wild guess. "Don't know" is much more honest and works far better in the longer term.

I've been talking over recent months about our "Well House Manor" project and getting very excited about the prospect. The route we chose wasn't an easy one - it required a planning application that we were assured would be welcome / trivial, moving part of our business into an area where we were assured we would be very welcome, and taking over a rental cottage which we were assured was good and let easily. With a project such as this, we expect ups and downs, but we're finding that just too many of the assurances are just optimistic guesswork (at best) and that budgets are likely to rise, time taken (thus cash flow projections) aren't so good, and the chances of planning applications going through remain good, but are nothing like certainties as there are major concerns from other parties.

So you'll see me very quiet on this project for the next couple of weeks. Lisa and I would rather walk away at this stage, in spite of a huge time investment and some major spending of surveys, architects and solicitors too. A pity really, but we feel comfortable that this is a wise pause / decision. Ironically, a couple of "Don't know" answers would have flagged issues earlier; at best, that would have resulted in us investigating and still going ahead - "forewarned is forearmed", and at worst it would have saved us money and saved the vendor living in hope for several months.
(written 2006-01-09, updated 2006-06-05)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
G310 - Well House Consultants - A better class of course
  [211] Look after your staff and they'll look after you. AOL. - (2005-02-12)
  [215] Open Source becomes mainstream - (2005-02-14)
  [219] Some unusual features - (2005-02-18)
  [224] YOUR application and YOUR data - (2005-02-22)
  [230] Course sizes - beware of marketing statistics - (2005-02-27)
  [292] Elegant languages - Perl, PHP, Python - (2005-04-26)
  [350] Want to be one better - (2005-06-17)
  [371] The training team that's looking out for you - (2005-07-07)
  [394] A year on - should we offer certified PHP courses - (2005-07-28)
  [497] I have a river to cross - (2005-11-16)
  [554] What backup is adequate? - (2006-01-04)
  [577] Learning to program in Perl or PHP - (2006-01-26)
  [579] Short Linux and Perl courses for small groups - (2006-01-27)
  [646] PHP - London course, Melksham Course, Evening course - (2006-03-14)
  [726] In praise of training course delegates. - (2006-05-20)
  [1035] Longer hours and better value courses - (2007-01-15)
  [1453] What makes our courses special? - (2007-12-02)
  [1488] New trainee laptop fleet for our Open Source courses - (2007-12-30)
  [1576] Making PHP and MySQL training relevant to the course delegates - (2008-03-15)
  [1645] Seeing how others do it - PHP training - (2008-05-17)
  [1933] Learning to Program in C - (2008-12-10)
  [2010] How long should a training module be? - (2009-01-27)
  [2049] Why Choose Well House Consultants for your course? - (2009-02-20)
  [2074] Weekday or Weekend PHP, Python and Perl classes? - (2009-03-10)
  [2084] Books and distance learning from Well House Consultants? - (2009-03-15)
  [2109] Why most training fails ... - (2009-03-30)
  [2187] Are we IITT (Institute of IT Training) members? - (2009-05-17)
  [2633] Why do I teach niche skills rather than mainstream? - (2010-02-13)
  [2762] Well House - Mission and Policy summaries - (2010-05-13)
  [3001] How will we present courses over the coming years? - (2010-10-17)
  [3271] The importance of feedback - (2011-04-30)
  [3385] Do university courses teach the right things for life at work later on? - (2011-08-10)
  [3419] Data that we use during our training courses, and other training resources - (2011-09-04)
  [3587] C++ Courses - do I get official certification at the end of my Well House course? - (2012-01-20)
  [4280] Making use of huge data, object orientation, unit testing and frameworks - (2014-06-07)
  [4558] Well House Consultants - Python courses / what's special. - (2015-10-28)
  [4583] Back in the saddle again - excellent open source course from Well House Consultants - (2015-11-26)

Back to
Converting between acres and hectares
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Horse's mouth home
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The fencepost problem
Some other Articles
Merging pictures using PHP and GD
Smoke and mirrors
Python's Generator functions
The fencepost problem
''I don't know'' is sometimes a good answer
Converting between acres and hectares
A new sign
Colour doesn't have to mean colourful
Hotel novelties
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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