in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #142 — Referee!

A really busy week where I felt I was juggling lots of things, but never to the point where it felt out of control. I spent Monday and Wednesday in the office and had one or two chance meetings which wouldn’t have otherwise happened, but there were very few people in on either day. The trains are getting busier with each passing week, but are still quite a way from being as full as they were pre-pandemic. People are getting on with things, which make notices about COVID-19 from my children’s school to say that they are re-introducing more safety protocols quite jarring to read.

I had to spend a few evenings catching up with small pieces of work that I had promised to complete by the next day, including prepping for more school governor meetings. My working week finished with two consecutive 7am meetings with teams in South Africa, the first of which that frustratingly got cancelled at 6:59am. Starting that early meant that I couldn’t go on my bike first thing, but I made up for it with a rare evening session on the turbo trainer.

Our Virgin Media Internet service has been very flaky in our street this week. Going to the office on Wednesday meant that I avoided a lot of the issues. Despite the frustration of dealing with their customer service processes, I was still reflecting on the fact that our IT is more resilient when we are dispersed. In our company, this outage impacted only one person, whereas an ISP failure to one of our offices may impact everyone working there.

This was a week in which I:

  • Ran a short review of our department’s delivery roadmap and checked how we are progressing with items scheduled for this quarter. We’ve made big strides this year with our ‘ways of working’ and I’m developing some views as to how we can improve it further as we head into 2022.
  • Ran two more meetings on our Teams recording proposal. We’re now at the point where we’ve agreed what we want to do and it is with me to write it up and circulate the draft.
  • Completed the business case for implementing Teams telephony in two of our locations. It will pay off in the long term even before we factor in the better user experience and decreased complexity of our environment.
  • Joined a meeting to discuss a data protection law in one of our locations.
  • Had a number of meetings relating to firewalls and routing on our network and agreed next steps both from a technical and a process perspective.
  • Was pleased to hear that the pitch we gave at the end of last week for our big group programme has been taken up by one of the senior leaders on the team. If we can get something up and running it could have a big benefit to all of our clients and internal teams.
  • Met with colleagues to discuss how we can add capacity to a delivery team that would be dedicated to us, without necessarily funding a whole person.
  • Continued reading A Seat At The Table by Mark Schwartz. Reading the book comes at a perfect time for me as I am looking at how we try to refocus the role of IT at our organisation and bring everyone else along on the journey.
  • Had an impromptu discussion with a colleague about a project we ran in London last year, and the gaps that remain in our other locations. The gaps present a good opportunity to leverage the ideas that IT is not a ‘contractor’ or ’order taker’, but can work collaboratively with people in other teams.
  • Was given a demo of a digital signage solution. We are looking at replacing what we have in our main office with a view to rolling out the solution to all of our offices globally. There seems to be a whole range of functionality and prices out there. We are in the process of purchasing a couple of Raspberry Pis with PoE HATs to experiment with.
  • Watched an interesting talk given by our CTO on The Importance of Core Infrastructure.
  • Had my work laptop migrated to Windows 11 in order to test it along with a number of other people in the team. It’s less of a jump than it seems from the screenshots in the media; at first glance it looks like Windows 10 with the task bar icons centred. The improvements are subtle, but seem good so far.
  • Joined a PlanView webinar on Agile Planning Across Disparate Teams and Tools. PlanView seem to lean in heavily on using TaskTop as an integration tool, which seems to do an excellent job.
  • Had a ‘random coffee’ with the newest member of our support team. It was good to spend some time with him.
  • Had a catch-up with the Headteacher and Chair of Governors at the school where I am a governor. I am always in awe of the work the school staff do and how undervalued their roles are. They are incredible.
  • Joined the rest of the school Governing Board for a meeting on prepping for Ofsted, collectively answering a number of questions that had been gathered together from various sources by our Chair.
  • Took part in a meeting to discuss the draft results of a Hertfordshire County Council Commissioned School Visit. This was a deep-dive into our management of our Pupil Premium allocation. It was a positive meeting; it was very useful to get outside scrutiny and feedback.
  • Completed the Modern Governor training module on the Pupil Premium.
  • Reviewed the draft terms of reference document for our planned school Curriculum Committee.
  • Reviewed the Governors Programme of Business for the year with the Chair.
  • Scheduled a school Pay Committee meeting.
  • Met with an online friend that I know from the WB-40 podcast Signal group and one of his colleagues to discuss environmental sustainability in schools.
  • Solved a problem with my Ubiquiti Unifi Protect cameras where they didn’t seem to be capturing events consistently. It looks as though they need to be set to ‘always record’ after a recent software update.
  • Took delivery of a new sofa that we ordered in July after we found that the previous one wouldn’t fit in the house. We weren’t expecting it until Christmas, so it’s a great result that it’s already here.
  • Spent some hours in the garden gathering up the mass of leaves that were already scattered across our back lawn. I’ll have to repeat the process in a couple of weeks once the rest are down.
  • Refereed a football match for the first time in years. There seems to be a shortage of qualified refs and we struggled to find one for Sunday’s Under 15 game. I put my hand up because I thought it would be better than one of the managers doing it. I was nervous, and spent an hour on Sunday morning watching YouTube videos to remind myself of some of the details. The match went really well and I ended up enjoying it.

  • Enjoyed a Saturday morning club ride. It was damp, and I ended up with my first puncture in many months on my way up one of the climbs. Despite needing to change the inner tube, we still made it back to the cafe for coffee and cake at the same time as everyone else.

  • Enjoyed Album Club #129. Not an album that I would ever pick up and listen to on my own, which made it a perfect choice.
  • Watched a few superb music programmes on iPlayer. I first finished off Soul America which I had started watching last year. When Nirvana Came To Britain was superb; it is shocking to see how small their window of fame was. The first two episodes of The 80s – Music’s Greatest Decade? with Dylan Jones have been enjoyably fresh, with lots of footage beyond the usual clips that get brought back for this kind of show. Trevor Horn at the BBC is an excellent tour through so many of the songs that he was involved in (although not all of them are my cup of tea and I did end up skipping a few.)
  • My wife and I have also been making good use of our Now TV subscription with Dexter: New Blood, Succession and Curb Your Enthusiasm all appearing on our screen throughout the week. It’s a novelty to have to wait for new episodes to be released each week again.

Next week: Another typically busy week, with more school governor meetings and a couple of days in the office.

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