Weeknotes #80 — Monthnotes, again…

I’ve found it difficult to put the time aside over the past four weeks to write up any weeknotes. The days and weeks whizz by one after the other and are filled with stuff. Sunday night rolls around and it’s very hard to settle down to write while my eyes are falling out of my head and a sweet song of sleep drifts down the stairs from my bed to my ears.

Big events from the past month are where I…

  • Gave into the fact that we had to buy a new car. Being offered £50 for part-exchange of our old one at the dealership proved the point. It’s been lovely owning an old jalopy that we cared little about for the past few years. It meant that we could offer an “Oh, don’t worry about it” when a neighbour admitted to reversing into our car door. The whole process of buying a replacement filled me with dread — it’s a classic paradox of choice, where too many options made it almost impossible to get started. We were fortunate to have a friend to guide us in the right direction and now have something that we need to give a little more respect to.
  • Visited my wife’s parents for her dad’s 80th birthday. I wasn’t happy to stay anywhere local so we spent five hours in the car there and back, but had a lovely time in their garden. We hadn’t seen them since Christmas, and it was great to be with them all again.
  • Continued to push forward with all of the key projects within my team, covering:
    • New telephone systems in New York, São Paulo and Beijing, including decisions on whether we’ll need physical handsets in the future
    • A ‘minimum viable office’ LAN/WLAN/SD-WAN network setup and desktop equipment in two of these offices
    • Agreeing a support model and vendor for Asia
    • Coordinating a massive data migration from an on-premises shared drive to Teams/SharePoint Online, including training all of our staff in how to work with the new tools
  • …as well as many smaller initiatives that we are running. We are up against some hard deadlines for some of this work, and every day I am cycling through the list, looking to see if there is anything else we can be doing to inch them forward.
  • Interviewed a number of people for two key roles in our team where I will be a peer of the successful candidates. Interviewing over video calls really loses something compared to meeting candidates in person, but we’re getting used to it.
  • Ran a number of Steering Committee meetings for our function and my projects, all of which went well. I asked the question of one of the committees whether the meetings were useful and giving us what we needed, which prompted a very rich discussion. As a result, we’ll be changing the format for the next one in September.
  • Attended a splendid virtual summer ‘Picnic on the Green’ organised by our wonderful Marketing and Communications colleagues. Staff around the globe were sent beautiful food hampers that corresponded to their dietary preferences and time of day of the event in their country. We even had treats for our pets! We all met up on Teams, had an interesting talk from a brilliant presenter while we ate, took part in a magic show, and then heard some great music to finish things off. There was so much thought and love that went into this, and it really showed.

  • Glowed with pride as our CTO presented the details of our IT platform to the wider firm, with over 500 IT colleagues joining the live session. The building blocks of our setup are simple, and hide a lot of thought that was put into how we would make it great.
  • Embarked on Salesforce Trailhead training along with thousands of other people across our firm. The gamification of learning really seems to be working, particularly when the push is being encouraged from the top of the company.
  • Picked up some books on platform businesses, as this seems to be the buzzphrase of the moment. I’ve been grateful for my Stratechery subscription and have been digging through old posts on the topic, as well as watching his excellent talk from 2018 on platforms vs aggregators.
  • Continued to exercise regularly, but have now incorporated the odd day off when I feel that I need it. I’ve tried to add running back into my schedule alongside the cycling on the turbo trainer and I think this is doing me some good. If I run after too much time off I end up walking around like Clint Eastwood for days afterwards, so I’m keep to keep it up. I’ve also worked out how to set up a cycling plan in TrainerRoad where there is no particular goal in mind, and now have sessions mapped out for the next twelve months. I can’t believe I used to regularly unsubscribe from TrainerRoad due to under-use; keeping fit is definitely a massive upside to the lockdown.
  • Had fun with Cameo, bringing a surprise birthday message to a friend via James Buckley, a special ‘Hooooo!’ to my twin brothers via ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan, and a message of congratulations to our department head from Jody Watley. All of their faces lit up in every case, and they were well worth it.
  • Smiled as I watched my eldest boy take up a newspaper round. It has brought back so many memories for me. Getting himself up to work every day at 6:30am is good discipline, and the money will soon add up.
  • Had a couple of visits at home from networking firms, looking for a solution to get a better network signal out to my home office. The first proposal suggested point-to-point Wi-Fi and the second is for an Ethernet cable that would run around the perimeter of my house. I’m waiting to get a third opinion and quote from another company in the next week or so.

Next week: My last full week before a few days off. With a technical colleague away, I’m on my own in trying to close out some quotes for installations in São Paulo and Beijing so that we keep our momentum.

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