in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #175 — A deep breath and an open mind

An amazing week, completely dominated by our annual Investors’ Conference which we hosted in our London office. For the first time in over two years I didn’t spend a single day working from home. For the three days of the conference I had to be at my desk by 7:30am. Every day I found myself staying late to ensure we were prepped for the following morning. A few of us from Engineering/IT sat side-by-side with Marketing/Events, working seamlessly as one team. It was intense, and a massive shift from the quiet isolation of working from home that I was used to. We managed to tackle every problem that arose; there didn’t seem to be anything we couldn’t handle with a deep breath and an open mind. There is no way that I could work like that every week, but it was brilliant to be involved and feel part of something big again.

A week in which I:

  • Helped a colleague to get a video loop playing on the smart TVs around the office. Our solution was to upload the video to Vimeo, ensuring it was unlisted, creating a small HTML file that pointed to the video with the correct parameters to play and loop it, storing that HTML file in an Amazon S3 bucket and making it publicly accessible, then creating a bitly short link that could be quickly entered onto the TV web browsers. It worked a like a charm.
  • Had to react quickly to the realisation that part of the conference was going to be hosted in an area of the building where we and no Wi-Fi coverage. We had to get the password for our sister company’s guest network into thirty iPads. I am so grateful for the ‘nearby device password sharing’ feature built into iPadOS. We also had to create a QR code for the Wi-Fi network and drop it into the meeting rooms in this space.
  • Learned that “there’s a problem with the Wi-Fi” can mean any number of a myriad of small issues, none of which are an actual problem with the Wi-Fi.
  • Found that if there is a screen in a room, there will be an expectation by the people in the room that it can be used, even if it has been made clear that it isn’t available.
  • Talked through a problem relating to generating QR codes for last-minute registrations and how those codes were shared between two different applications. These codes were to be used to record attendance at the different meetings and plenary sessions at the conference. We went with the simplest solution, not using them at all for the few people that this would affect, capturing their details manually instead.
  • Captured lists of attendees at our virtual sessions throughout the week through the built-in functionality in Teams.
  • Watched colleagues in the Marketing team wrestle with the platform being used to run the conference. Learned a lot about what makes a good tool for this kind of event.
  • Found out from our network analytics that one of the attendees may have had an issue on their device given the amount of bandwidth they were consuming. We’ve followed up with them to let them know.
  • Helped the team to quickly pivot to a series of online meetings for an important client who couldn’t make it to the event at the last minute.
  • Enjoyed the event food, with the desserts being the highlight.
  • Agreed to send one of my team over to our office in the Middle East to start a physical infrastructure project. When we’re finished we should have massively decreased the complexity of our server room as well as the cabling throughout the office.
  • Reviewed a proposal to be submitted to our internal company board meeting to tweak part of our Teams setup.
  • Attended a demo for an Amazon Mechanical Turk-style platform that we are using to create employment opportunities in Africa as we process internal data sets.
  • Took the Tube for the first time in months. I love my daily walk between the mainline station and my office, but I wouldn’t have been able to make it to my desk on time if I didn’t use the Underground this week. Found that prices have shifted upwards to £2.50 for a single journey in Zone 1.

  • Ended the week with a lovely dinner out with some of the London Engineering team and one of our alumni who was over from Johannesburg, attending a totally different conference. We’d last been together when we were working in New York just before the pandemic kicked off. It felt like a very lovely end to the week.
  • Prepped for our final school full governing board meeting of the academic year which takes place next week.
  • Had to deal with some ongoing work for school.
  • Enjoyed the F1 British Grand Prix with a friend who popped over for the occasion. What a race!

Next week: The start of a new working pattern with the whole company expected to be in the office together on Mondays. Our school governing board meeting. Getting the car serviced. And getting back to all of the other work that was paused during the conference.

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