What’s the etiquette with raising feature requests for open source projects in GitHub? I only see an ‘Issues’ tab, but the text at the top says “If you have a bug or an idea…” (emphasis mine.) Does it depend on the project?

Great to see JP Rangaswami’s blog back online. I’ve often thought about posts that I’ve read there many years afterwards when something comes up at work. Hopefully the Google web crawler will get to work quickly to make it all searchable again.

Weeknotes #126 — Martha and the Vandellas

In the UK we build our houses for a northern climate. Double-glazed windows and plenty of insulation keep us cosy and warm. But those wonderful inventions are cursed when the odd boiling hot day turns up. We’ve just had a week of heat which has made it difficult to keep cool in my home office, and even more difficult to sleep. My colleagues in Johannesburg have the opposite problem where their houses are not built for the cold, so they have also been struggling with overnight temperatures of -5°C. (Interestingly, I heard John Gruber on a podcast this week talking about how bad Celsius is as a measure of temperature — with Fahrenheit, zero is dangerously cold and 100 is dangerously hot. It seems more logical than being concerned about the freezing and boiling points of water.) Of course, the hot weather disappeared as soon as the weekend arrived.

We’ve also had another week of the landscape gardeners at our house, building some decking and adding their finishing touches to our back garden. I’ve had to be up early in order to get on my bike trainer and get ready for their potential early arrival, leaving me more worn out than usual. The results are great — we’re so happy to now have a back garden that we want to spend time in. Unfortunately, a heatwave wasn’t the best time to be laying turf and I’m a little unconvinced that the brown areas will come back despite all of our watering efforts. They’ve agreed to fix them if they don’t ‘take’, but hopefully it won’t come to that.

The bike has been a real challenge this week. On Tuesday I found that I couldn’t finish the hard workout that was scheduled, and I found myself riding out the time on a much gentler setting. It’s bizarre, given how much I’ve been out doing long rides at weekends. Hopefully next weekend’s cooler temperatures and a little more rest will mean I am back to normal.

This was a week in which I:

  • Presented details of my long-running IT programme to Internal Audit, giving them an introduction to our part of the organisation, what we’ve done over the past few years and how we’ve been doing it. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved and love talking about it.
  • Created a series of slides showing the IT infrastructure journey for our office in Brazil. Presented these slides at the monthly review meeting with the in-country CEO and Office Manager. We now have a suite of slides for each country whose IT we are responsible for.
  • Fleshed out a ‘lean business case’ for a project to start compliance recording for Teams, hopefully leveraging an initiative already happening elsewhere in the company.
  • Reviewed the next iteration of the design for our IT infrastructure back-end in Asia, which will hopefully be closed out next week.
  • Continued to edge forward with a physical access project, getting the thoughts of our CTO and requesting some more information from our vendor.
  • Attended our Information Risk Steering Group meeting. Encountered the FAIR Institute for the first time, which looks worth investigating further.
  • Had a walk-through of a handover document prepared by a colleague who has moved to Australia and leaves us at the end of the month.
  • Was given an overview of one of our business departments and some in-house tools that they have developed to run some of their key business processes. The developer is leaving so we are putting in an interim setup to manage the tools.
  • Attended a monthly internal catch-up on governance, control and cybersecurity, as well as a separate session on firewalls and networking.
  • Joined some meetings for the large global programme, and was given an overview of a financial calculator for project business cases that fall under the programme.
  • Reviewed a lean business case for a proposed Marketing project.
  • Spent more time coaching teams and individuals in our department on their Kanban processes. I really enjoy this part of my work.
  • Had a wonderful catch-up call with an old colleague in Johannesburg. It always takes a little to-ing and fro-ing for our diaries to align but I’m grateful when they do.
  • Spent a lot of time thinking and talking about the ideas in How To Be An Antiracist, which I am about a third of the way through. It’s excellent; every time I finish another chapter I see things in a slightly different way.
  • Got to the dentist for a checkup for the first time in two years due to the pandemic. As I suspected, it isn’t great, and I’m booked in for some work in a couple of months’ time.
  • Took delivery of one sofa where we should have had two; the larger one got into our house but we couldn’t fit it through the doorway to our lounge. Fortunately we could get a complete refund from the shop. Unfortunately a new order for another smaller sofa won’t be fulfilled for 20 weeks. Happy Christmas!
  • Met my brothers for a night out to celebrate their birthday. It was lovely to see them as well as my sisters-in-law. Dining out feels so fragile and I am still nervous about being indoors with lots of random people. I am hoping I don’t end up with a ‘ping’ from the COVID-19 app that I came in contact with anyone who subsequently tested positive.

  • Watched my youngest boy take part in his football club’s annual tournament. His team won the group and then lost to another team 1-0 in the final which was a superb result.

Next week: A final week before some time off, which I feel very ready for.

Weeknotes #125 — Hillbuster

An unusual week in which I found myself surrounded by people again. We have landscape gardeners working at our house, trying to transform our back garden from a botanical fever dream into something we’d be happy to have people come and visit. We’re hoping it will be lovely to look at as well as easy to maintain, as none of us in the house have very green fingers. I’ve been on tea duty in between meetings, keeping the workpeople well-watered and nourished. So far so good, and they finish up next week.

I was pleased to have quickly recovered from last week’s mammoth bike ride, and hopped back on the turbo trainer from Tuesday onwards. The coming week is going to be a challenge for indoor biking with soaring temperatures here in the south of England, but I’m going to give it a go. Now I’ve got some fitness I’d really like to keep it, as I know that if we do make it away for a short summer break that cycling opportunities may be limited.

Looking back over the week, I seem to have subconsciously stepped back from the UK news, probably for my own sanity. Instead, my worries have been about my colleagues in South Africa as they have seen their country go through the worst riots and looting for many years. People who always have a smile looked genuinely terrified at times, and it felt so helpless to be so far away with very little options for making a difference.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had my second dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. I am so grateful for the NHS and the seamless process to get the appointments booked and the jabs in my arm. I felt very few side-effects this time, which sounds similar to others that have had the same shot.
  • Saw my lovely youngest boy turn 12 on the day he was released from his COVID-19 self-isolation.
  • Completed a first draft of an internal ‘IT curriculum’ document for the team, listing topic areas and resident experts in each topic within the team. I’ve had lots of very valuable feedback which I will include in the next iteration.
  • Reviewed and agreed the final version of the closure report for our New York office infrastructure project.
  • Reviewed the low-level design and implementation plan for our IT infrastructure in Asia which we hope to deploy in the next few weeks.
  • Agreed with one of our teams to try an experiment with their Kanban board, adding two new card types to distinguish everyday work from project work. A quick informal write-up of what you plan to do and how you will judge its success goes a long way.
  • Took part in our monthly risk management meeting.
  • Met with our head of Operational Risk to get aligned ahead of the next cycle of senior management meetings.
  • Had a lovely random coffee with a colleague in HR I hadn’t spoken to in a very long time.
  • Was pleased to see my colleague in meetings again following his long illness. It’s so great to have him back.
  • Had an excellent end-of-week catch-up with my boss, covering a lot of bases about where we are, where we are heading and more besides.
  • Attended an all-hands meeting about legal developments in one of the countries in which we operate.
  • Joined the Headteacher, Chair of Governors and members of the school senior leadership team for a feedback meeting from our Improvement Partner. It’s always so good to get some external feedback on how things are going.
  • Attended our final school Full Governing Board meeting of the year. I can’t believe that another academic year is behind us already. I felt as though I had to cram the reading in, but by the time the meeting came I was well-prepared.
  • Took my eldest son and three of his friends to Aqua Parcs in Milton Keynes early on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful, fresh day and the complex that they had there made it feel like we were all on holiday. I spent an hour in the shade with my book while they all had fun on the inflatables.
  • Took part in the Hemel Hillbuster on Sunday with my eldest son and my friend Ian, riding a lumpy 100km to raise money for the Dacorum Emergency Night Shelter.

  • Got rid of our old sofas in anticipation of new ones arriving. Manoeuvring heavy furniture around doorways and down the drive was not the optimal activity for a hot Sunday night. One of the couches had done nearly 20 years’ service and had started to come apart in a big way, so we were overdue a refresh.
  • Joined my first Tortoise ThinkIn, on how pop defines the 1980s. It ended up being an hour-long Zoom love fest for all things 80s, and a lot of fun. I didn’t anticipate being on a call with Martyn Ware, Dylan Jones and Sarah Champion but that’s exactly where I found myself. At some point I was brought into the discussion to extol the virtues of Hue and Cry’s Labour Of Love, a song I never get tired of hearing.

  • Enjoyed hearing the Young Knives for the first time, a new Album Club discovery.
  • Loved watching the new three-day event format for the Formula 1 race. It kept the drama going and seemed to be a great success.

Next week: A meeting with Internal Audit, work finishing in the garden, trying to get some sleep during a boiling hot few days and looking forward to a cooler weekend.

Sounds just like old times around here with a helicopter going overhead every few minutes following the British Grand Prix.

🎶 Every time we get a hot night like tonight, Squeeze’s This Summer whirls in my brain.

This summer we’ve pulled all the sheets off the bed
I’m so happy I can’t get you out of my head

📚 Started reading this. Interesting chapter on definitions. Being ‘not racist’ is argued as being racist if it maintains the inequity of the status quo.

Having nearly all of the foliage removed from our back garden revealed this magnificent-looking creature. No idea what it is.

📚 Finished reading Burning Bright by John Steinbeck. Compared to most of his other works up to this point, this is a big disappointment. The story felt obvious, and surprisingly slow for such a short book. I didn’t understand the change of setting with each chapter. Not good.

Weeknotes #124 — Audax

A four-day week. My upcoming monster bike ride dominated my thoughts as I watched the changeable weather forecast getting more locked in as the days ticked by. I took the Friday off in order to get a lie-in and an early night as I knew I would have to be up at 4am on Saturday for the ride.

The week was busy, but had a pleasant feel to it thanks to the meeting-free Wednesdays that we are experimenting with at work. Wednesday came at just the right time after a busy couple of days, and initial feedback across the team is that most people appreciated the initiative.

The pandemic is never far from our thoughts. Schools and pupils are having to cope with so much right now. On Wednesday my eldest boy was sent home with a message that he had to self-isolate due to close contact with a positive case. On Thursday morning he got a message to say that he could go back to school as a follow-up test was negative. Then on Friday I had a text in the afternoon to say that our younger boy now has to self-isolate due to his contact with a positive case. Keeping people safe and stopping the virus from spreading makes a whole lot of sense, so much less so when the TV is showing masses of people at sporting events and in the pubs, bars and streets.

I continued to feel for colleagues in Johannesburg as I heard that two more people known to the team had passed away from COVID-19. It makes hearing about ‘freedom day’ in the UK even more jarring.

This was a week in which I:

  • Presented to our IT Architecture Governance Authority on the second major iteration of our network topology, and got the green light to continue down the simplified path that we are on.
  • Attended a kick-off meeting for our Beijing IT infrastructure project and agreed next steps.
  • Contributed to the IT submission for our company Board report.
  • Attended our IT governance meeting for Dubai and took the attendees through my slides on our IT infrastructure journey.
  • Reviewed and edited a lean business case for a potential new marketing initiative.
  • Reviewed CVs for a technical consultant position in the team and agreed who we would take through to interview stage.
  • Spent time refining a business case for moving two more of our offices to Teams PSTN calling, along with mandatory compliance recording. Spoke to a colleague in the wider group who is already some way down the line in doing the same thing, which may make the work significantly more straightforward. Got an introduction to very knowledgeable Unified Communications specialist via LinkedIn who has been super generous with his knowledge.
  • Agreed to defer some detailed technical design decisions until a key team member returns from a long absence next week. It’s going to be so good to have him back.
  • Asked a team member to help out with taking ownership of an application developed outside of IT using modern Microsoft 365 tooling. It’s interesting how the problem of critical Access databases springing up in business has shifted technologies but is still fundamentally the same challenge.
  • Attended a school strategy planning meeting with our Chair of Governors and another colleague, making good progress on an updated mission and vision. I spent some time writing it up on my day off work and am glad to have had the time to move it forward.
  • Conducted annual reviews for two of our school governors. I wish I had started the practice when I was Chair as it was very worthwhile to take the time to reflect and thank the governors for the work they do.
  • Enjoyed a relaxed day off which included a lovely lunch with a friend in town. We agreed that we should do it more often.
  • Had our oven professionally cleaned for the first time, and it looks just like new.
  • Enjoyed the final week of matches in the Euro 2020 championships. Yes, even the final 😊
  • Took my bike out for a 327km ride, leaving my house at 5am, starting the 307km Audax ride from Aylesbury at 6am and getting back there around 10pm. A really beautiful route through some amazing towns, villages and countryside. I was gutted that Strava didn’t record the last 30km or so — I am guessing that the ride data is held in my iPhone’s RAM while it is being recorded, and it was struggling with swapping data every time it tried to do something different like receive a phone call. Next time I think I may rely on the Garmin as it seems more reliable. A man from West London Cycling had his GoPro with him and made a short video of the ride which captures the essence of it. On Saturday night I was ready to pack my bike away for good but by the end of the weekend I started thinking about my next adventure.

Next week: Vaccine shot #2. The last school Full Governing Board meeting of the year. Album Club. And work starting on our back garden, hopefully turning it from a weedy mess to somewhere that we would actually want to invite friends round to visit.

📚 Finished reading A Russian Journal by John Steinbeck. A small, interesting snapshot of parts of the Soviet Union a couple of years after the end of World War II. I’m not sure how valuable this trip was to a broader understanding in the west, but it’s a worthwhile piece.

📺 Finished all of Engrenages/Spiral tonight. What a brilliant programme. It took a couple of seasons to get into its stride but when it did, I really got to love the characters and the slow-burn plot developments. Sad that it’s all over, but so glad to have seen it.

🚴 Day off today. Getting some rest in ahead of my first Audax ride tomorrow. Excited and slightly nervous.