in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #176 — Digital displays

In some ways, things were back to normal this week after the all-consuming focus of our annual conference. In other ways they were anything but — in the evenings I found myself glued to the TV, Signal chats and Twitter, catching up with the tumultuous goings-on in the UK government which culminated in the Prime Minister’s resignation. I’m so glad that we will finally see the back of the worst person ever to hold the office. I’m also fearful as to what comes next.

A week in which I:

  • Started the week with my sixth weekday commute in a row. Our division of the company has implemented a new policy of having everyone around the world in the office on Monday. I understand why — this week’s FT Working It podcast noted that lots of companies are going this route, for good reasons — but it still felt a bit like being in the office for its own sake. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I had to leave the office at 3:45pm in order to make an in-person school governor meeting at 5:30pm. The travelling seemed like a colossal waste of time when I could have done a full day’s work at my desk at home.
  • Loved being in the office on Thursday, setting up our new Raspberry Pi-based digital signage players along with a Tidbyt that will sit near to our Helpdesk team. I can’t wait to get the players installed behind their respective screens and to train the wider team on how to manage the displays.

  • Made progress with my Agile Coach / Product Manager vacancy, interviewing three candidates. I’m hopeful that we’ve found someone who looks like an excellent fit. Interviewing is like DIY to me — I dread it until I’m actually doing it, and then I realise I quite enjoy it.
  • Was so pleased with the work my colleague got done to simplify the physical infrastructure in one of our offices. At his insistence, he jumped on a plane at short notice in order to take advantage of the space being vacant for a week. They managed to decommission tons of redundant cabling as well as a patch panel that looked like something out of the climactic scene of Superman III.

  • Reviewed our plan for our London office ‘collaboration space’ with our CIO. Agreed in principle what we will do. We now need to keep focused on closing out the specification and seeing the project through to a conclusion.
  • Moved to a new laptop. I’d had my Thinkpad X280 since early 2019 and was very fond of it. I’m now using a superbly-specced Thinkpad T14 and can really tell the difference. Our philosophy is to purchase devices with sufficient RAM, hard drive space etc. and to give everyone the same device, so that we minimise any follow-up work with specific staff members who need their hardware to be upgraded. It’s an approach that has served us well. I use Windows at work and macOS at home and generally prefer the former; I wonder how much of the preference for Apple is driven by people using underpowered devices.
  • Wrestled with getting my new laptop to sleep. Having said how much I like Windows, it still does have some bizarre niggles. Windows 10 was no problem — I locked the screen, walked away and the laptop would then switch itself off after a while. My Windows 11 devices don’t seem to do this, nor do they sleep when asked. A colleague shared a little BAT file with me which when run will force the computer to sleep, which works a treat.
  • Spent some time getting our Kanban cards into shape, after having neglected them for the past couple of weeks due to the conference.
  • Updated our quarterly roadmap, closing out on Q2 and refreshing the milestones we have planned for future quarters.
  • Contributed some text to our quarterly update to the divisional CIO.
  • Met with colleagues in our IT Innovation and Community Development team as they wanted to find out about what technology we had implemented in our offices over the past few years. I need to turn this into a short, snappy presentation by the end of July in conjunction with our CTO.
  • Met with colleagues for a Digital Showcase session on a ‘playbook’ put together for anyone who is providing digital services to clients via our new externally-facing portal.
  • Attended a Learning Hour session on the topic of Health and Safety in one of our regional offices. The presentation was followed by a useful discussion with about communication.
  • Enjoyed meeting in person for our final Full Governing Board meeting of the year at school. It was lovely to stay after the meeting and to chat with some of my fellow governors. We haven’t had much of an opportunity to do it over the past few years.
  • Attended a feedback meeting with our School Improvement Partner. Despite all of the challenges that the school has been facing, it was wonderful to hear from someone external on how well everything is going.
  • Got the car’s annual MOT and service done. We were hit with a hefty bill this time, partly because of the things that needed doing and partly because everything is getting more expensive. We bought our used car from a main dealer a couple of years ago. I know they are not the cheapest place to get a service, but it is very cool to be sent a link to a video showing all of the parts that need fixing. I’ve now made a vow to take more notice of the depth of tread on my tyres. Nobody needs a £10,000 fine.
  • Bumped into an old friend on the train home that I hadn’t seen for years. Our children started playing football around the same time so we used to chat at Saturday morning training. Added him into our F1 Geeks WhatsApp group so that he can enjoy the in-race banter.
  • Cycled over to my mum and dad’s house for a family get-together. I’m glad it wasn’t any longer than my usual Saturday morning ride as it was so hot. It was wonderful to be with so many friends and family, many of which I haven’t seen since before the pandemic. There have been a few family events recently as well as more planned in the near future. I like this.
  • Had two friends over to watch the F1. Getting together to watch the race is definitely the way forward.

Next week: Trying to keep cool while we bask in a heatwave. Taking my bike in for a much-needed service. The final school governor meeting of the year. And suddenly finding that we have two teenagers in the house.

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