in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #203 — Bobble

The first full working week of the year. It had a strange and sad start, with a funeral for a childhood friend on Monday afternoon. Rob grew up a few doors down from me when I was a kid. He was three years below me at school, his sister and I were in the same year together and our parents are very close. Rob had been battling with cancer for the past few years and sadly passed away in December. He was in his early 40’s, but to me will always be the young boy from down the road. I can’t even begin to imagine what his family have gone through. It was wonderful to see the room completely packed, with people standing in the aisle at the front in order to get into the room. The service and eulogies were lovely. He’s going to be missed by a lot of people.

This was a week in which I:

  • Spent a good chunk of time working on our password manager rollout. I’m trying to move the work on at speed so that the organisation gets the benefit as soon as possible. I had a kick-off meeting with our Onboarding Manager on Monday evening and held the first of two IT admin training sessions later in the week. By Friday we had configured the tenant, customised the security groups, documented what we had done, deployed the browser plugins and desktop software to our Engineering team and invited them to join.
  • Found an annoying issue in the password manager software which I would like the vendor to get resolved before we roll it out to the rest of the organisation.
  • Reviewed the first draft of a contract for our staff intended work location broadcasting tool. I’m not completely confident that we will roll it out, as while it will solve some issues it will raise a few others. Take-up for the pilot has been excellent. We are reviewing it next week and hopefully will make a decision.
  • Registered the tool for presenting at our internal Cloud Architecture Forum later this month.
  • Had a small workshop with a couple of colleagues to reimagine the focus of our team towards product development. We don’t yet have a set of concrete actions but it was good to get on the same page.
  • Attended our first management team meeting of the year. It was lovely to check in with everyone again. We reviewed our department finances from last year and discussed plans for this one.
  • Spent time talking to a client-facing colleague about how they manage their client-related data in Microsoft 365. The conversation gave me great insights that will help with the digital literacy work planned for this year.
  • Gave a demo of our Teams Rooms setup to some senior IT and Facilities managers at a sister company. Our discussion inevitably drifted into talking about Microsoft 365 and the strategy that we took for our IT Infrastructure from the ground up.
  • Discussed plans for some IT Security initiatives with our Chief Information Security Officer and Head of Operational Risk.
  • Had to solve an issue with my Microsoft Office apps randomly exiting on a regular basis. After trying the quick repair and full repair — to no avail — a full delete, reboot, re-download and install seemed to do the trick.
  • Was taken through an example JIRA configuration to see how it could be used by our team. We don’t use Jira at the moment, although the rest of the organisation does. For us to start, it will have to offer a significant productivity increase and not just marginal gains. We have another meeting scheduled for next week to understand the hard edges of what’s possible within the organisation when using the tool.
  • Attended an interesting presentation on the latest developments with our key business-to-business portal. I’m still on what seems to be a one-person mission to get colleagues to turn their cameras on in meetings. Ninety people were in the virtual room with me the only person on video. I’ll keep plugging away.
  • Fixed an issue with the content on our digital signage displays in London that I probably wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t gone to the office.
  • Enjoyed a team Learning Hour session on the topic of Adventures with ChatGPT. The tool has definitely captured the team’s imagination. If you haven’t tried it out yet it’s worth doing so soon; it seems to be overloaded quite a lot of the time at the moment, and the Sharp Tech podcast made the point that each query costs the organisation pennies — which is a lot for something so busy.
  • Had a lovely random coffee with a colleague, the third time we have got together this way since the pandemic started.
  • Had lots of school governor work to do, including a meeting in school, a virtual session with the full governing board and work on contracts and draft letters. There is a lot going on.
  • Was sent a bill of £497 for our electricity and gas usage for the past month. This used to be £80 pre-pandemic. We’ve turned our thermostat down and rarely fire up some of our heating, but the number is still ridiculous. From talking to some friends, it seems that we are definitely not alone.
  • Was reminded that a few weeks back I had signed up for the Westerley Winter Warmer Reliability Ride. I woke up early on Sunday and left my house before dawn in order to cycle the 20km to the start. It was a beautiful sunny day out in the Chilterns; a gap in the dreadful weather that we have been having for the past few weeks.

  • Finished Season 2 of Happy Valley and made a start on the current one. It’s really, really good.
  • Finished a book, getting my first one on the board for 2023. I don’t seem to be reading as much as I would like to at the moment. There’s a stack of wonderful books that friends and family got me for Christmas and I want to devour them all.

Next week: More of the same at work and school, with lots to push forward.

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