Weeknote #15 — Back on track

What a difference a week makes. The issues that dominated my time last week seemed to abate and I was able to make good progress with the strategic stuff. A public holiday in South Africa on Friday helped; with colleagues out of the office there was time to get my head down and get things finished. Early on in the week we had a key quarterly governance meeting which went really well and gives us a great basis to plan the rest of the programme; I didn’t realise how much it was on my mind but I felt exhausted afterwards.

I am hoping that next week we will be able to deal with a problem which has been causing performance issues for all of our users and the noise level will die down substantially. We’re still pursuing a more drastic ‘plan B’ and should have a view next week as to whether we need to go down that route.

Tuesday is Labour Day in South Africa and a lot of people are taking Monday off as well so there should be a lot less time in meetings. I’ve got some big discussions lined up for the middle of the week and some home working lined up towards the end while Mrs D jets off on a long weekend. It’s already time to get prepared again for our monthly programme steering committee and I will be pushing so that we have some good updates to report on.

It was a busy week for school governance. A long and intense meeting on Tuesday night was followed by a session at my house the following evening. We had asked the Chair of Governors from another school in our town to meet with us to talk about her experiences with Ofsted inspections. Her school went into the ‘Requires Improvement’ category before going back to ‘Good’ the next time they were inspected. It was great to get her insight about how to prepare. I’ve not been through the process myself and would hate to think that an inspection could be let down by the things I say and show them. Everything in education changes so quickly and so often that maybe things will be different by the time we go through the process, but it shouldn’t fundamentally change what we focus on and how we present ourselves.

This week I was again reminded about the danger of making assumptions that people know what they are doing and will just get on with things, only to find out later they hadn’t and didn’t. Assumptions will be the death of me.

My work week ended with someone popping by by desk asking me how she could set up WhatsApp on someone else’s phone that she had borrowed. It turned out that her car had been broken into the night before; thieves had not only stolen her purse and two iPhones, but also her journal in which she had written down her passwords. We spent some time logging into iCloud, marking her phones as lost, getting her password changed and setting her up with a new phone from an iCloud backup. Unfortunately she had run out of iCloud storage space and her last good backup was from nine months ago. I imagine that all of her photos since then are now lost as well. I’m not the first person to say that given how expensive the devices are, 5Gb ‘free’ iCloud space is far too small as the default. Non-geeks just want to use their devices and don’t want to worry about backups. And why should they? It was a good reminder that there’s a real need to give people just a little bit of education as to how to keep their stuff safe for when things go wrong.

Since last week’s adventure with my first Ofo ride I have used them a couple more times. It looks as though you get your first three rides for free, which seems pretty reasonable to try the service out. I also took a Mobike for a spin and had a pretty dreadful time; the bikes don’t have any real gears and seem to be optimised for ‘not quite easy enough, not quite fast enough’. They are very heavy and rattle a lot; I ended up injuring my wrist through a small commute from Euston to the City. I still prefer the Santander bikes but the inconvenience of finding a free docking station will always put me off. Biking to work still leaves me a bit too hot in my suit so I think I’ll revert back to walking when I can.

Last weekend was filled with activities as usual. My 11-year old finally had his birthday party and seemed to enjoy himself. I still find it incredible how quickly a bunch of kids can make a dinner table look like a hurricane has swept through the room. I found myself projecting my own values and being disappointed that they didn’t seem to worry about the mess they made, but I also know they are only little and it’s not top of mind for them yet. Was I the same? I don’t remember. It’s strange to think that in a couple of years they will become self-conscious teenagers. Everyone was so generous with their birthday gifts and one of them left us all giggling with a completely age-inappropriate birthday card. What were they thinking?!

A good friend of mine ran a great time in the London Marathon. I don’t think it’s entirely fair that other better-known runners get a head start. What could’ve been!

I’ve still been munching my way through The Coming of The Third Reich. The Audible and Kindle Whispersync combo is working out really well and I’ve only got just over an hour to go. I’ve found that I read faster than listening to the 1.25x speed audio version and seem to have settled into a rhythm where I’m taking in the content both ways. It’s so great to be able to carry on with reading whilst walking to work, cutting the grass or doing the ironing.

Chas and Dave have been ringing in my ears since I saw them last week. Their album Gertcha! The EMI Years is excellent and the quality of the recordings is fantastic. Here are a couple of YouTube gems that I can’t get out of my head at the moment:

The next live gig is lined up — I managed to bag a couple of tickets to see Kelis at the Jazz Cafe in July and can’t wait.

Next week: Finishing off our software rollout in another city, detailed planning workshops and the start of the endgame for our vendor selection. And ‘ciao’ to Mrs D as she heads off on a well-deserved break for the long weekend.

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