in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #217 — Den under den

A frustrating stop-start week. After two weeks off at home, it was good to get back behind a keyboard again. However, family medical appointments meant that I was out of the office for two half-days which made it feel like it was a bit of a staggered return. Towards the end of the week I felt as though I was getting my teeth into a few things again. I’m looking forward to next week being the first full ‘normal’ week in some time.

This was a week in which I:

  • Headed into London and decided to leave my coat at home as we’re now deep into April, with temperatures rising (a bit). What seemed like a good idea in the morning seemed foolish in the evening as it felt much colder on the return leg. I hadn’t appreciated how much the sun is hidden by the tall buildings on my journey home.
  • Spent time with my team working on our strategic ‘brands, products and vision’. Reviewed this with the management team alongside those from my colleagues and got some very useful feedback for shaping it further.
  • Met with a colleague to agree next steps on our joint project on managing unstructured data. I also created a Teams thread to outline the work that we’re doing and to get feedback from the rest of my department.
  • Caught up with the vendor for our password management tool and discussed how we can increase signups and usage of the tool. The meeting generated some great ideas, such as putting something into the tool that people want (or need) and can only access by signing up, as well as running adverts on our digital signage players in the office.
  • Worked with colleagues and an external vendor to get access to one of our externally-hosted tools, in order to give access to another colleague to be able to raise tickets. I like the structured way they took us through the security process as it gives me confidence that people would have a hard time socially engineering their way into the system.
  • Updated our Team Charter with some new draft statements sourced from the team a couple of weeks ago. Having this in the team has been so beneficial over the past couple of years.
  • Finished updating our department financial forecast with the agreed foreign exchange rates for the year.
  • Discussed how our team uses Planview AgilePlace to manage risk and whether it would work for a sister team. It’s a natural fit for us as we already use the software to manage our work; using it solely for risk management feels like ‘sledgehammer to crack a walnut’ territory, but I’m not sure of a better tool.
  • Took part in the monthly risk review meeting.
  • Had a good discussion about psychological safety and how well we really know our team. Generally I feel like I have the pulse of the organisation — but doesn’t everybody? A small number of times over the past few years I have had to question myself on this. It would be good to explore how we can get some true insights and improve this further.
  • Gave a tour of our office and server room to an executive from a sister company, who are looking at potentially revamping their own space.
  • Enjoyed a meeting with the executive team from our Côte d’Ivoire office, learning more about the country and our business there.
  • Joined two meetings to learn more about ChatGPT and other artificial intelligence tools. I don’t think I’ve ever known a hotter topic in technology.
  • Joined this month’s Teams Fireside Chat. It’s consistently a very useful hour with some incredible people.
  • Played with the new SnapChat lenses in Teams. They are fun but I’m not sure they have much business value. I nearly joined a meeting with a chicken on my head as the settings persisted as the defaults for the next call.
  • Was so pleased when the hospital gave my wife the all-clear following her operation for a detached retina a few weeks ago. She can now drive and exercise again. I’ll also be able to reliably hop on my indoor bike trainer again as the dad taxi morphs back into the mum taxi.
  • Took receipt of an external hard disk drive enclosure that I wanted to use to wipe two very small disks ahead of recycling them, but I found I had ordered the wrong thing. Placed another order and have my fingers crossed that I’ve got the correct thing this time. I also managed to wipe an old Sony M2 memory stick from a device that was long since forgotten.
Disk, I am determined to wipe you.

Disk, I am determined to wipe you.

  • Cursed the Apple Music app on my Mac. iTunes has always been a pain in the butt. This time I found that some recent CD rips had landed on my Mac’s internal hard drive instead of the network drive where my music library lives. Trying to consolidate everything into one place was a challenge; I ended up with gigabytes of files in multiple locations. Gemini was very useful in finding the duplicates and giving me confidence to delete the additional copies. I’ve installed the app via Setapp which has also given me access to a wealth of other applications.
  • Decided to trial YouTube Premium with the family. Giving my children access is a bit more difficult than I anticipated as I need to authorise their sign-ins on new devices. The experience is worth it, with no ads, picture-in-picture and playback on a mobile device even when it gets locked.
  • Enjoyed an online Album Club night with colleagues and alumni from work. The host’s choice was Urban Hymns by The Verve. I was given the album as a Christmas present in 1997 and I don’t think I had heard it all the way through in one sitting for 15 years or so. It was great to revisit it. The hits are over familiar, but I loved hearing Space And Time, One Day and Come On.
  • Had an amazing night out at the local cinema with some of the local Album Club crew. The remastered/restored version of Dance Craze (1981) was showing, which I figured would be right up our street. I don’t know that much about Ska music besides the big hits, so I was keen to see it. I wasn’t disappointed. The film is incredible — it’s mainly a montage of live performances by the leading Ska bands of the day, but with most of the camerawork being done from the perspective of the stage. The music is brilliant and the energy of the concerts seeped through the screen. When it was all finished after 90 minutes, we all felt like we had been to a gig.

  • Enjoyed watching lots of videos of foxes — probably a vixen and her cub — mooching around our garden during the night. I think they have made a den under the garden building which is why we are seeing them so often. Hopefully they will stay for a bit.
  • Via Ton Zijlstra’s blog, found out that this website is the 2,591,736th site in Google’s C4 dataset, use to train large language models. That number seems very small to me, given the size of the web is and the insignificance of this website.

  • Enjoyed a wonderful Saturday morning bike club ride.

Next week: Fingers crossed for a return to normal.

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