in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #220 — Tog downgrade

Another four-day week that felt like five. For some reason — or multiple, I’m not sure — I’ve been sleeping badly again. It feels as though there’s a lot going on.

Things have started to warm up so we decided to make the switch to the summer duvet. I think we’ve called the switchover point just about right. I can’t believe that for so many years we just had one duvet that we used all year round, waking up late on a summer weekend feeling like two strips of beef jerky in a desert cowboy’s saddlebag.

Our eldest son finished his last day of school this week, with his exams starting in earnest from Monday. We have our fingers crossed for him. In five weeks’ time he’ll be all done, with a long summer stretching out ahead.

This was a week in which I:

  • Realised that the feeling I have had over the past week or so since watching The A.I. Dilemma has been similar to how I felt in the second quarter of 2020 while the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. In both cases I have had to try to concentrate on my work, which felt trivial in the context of the ever-growing threat outside the door. I don’t like to think of myself as an anxious person (does anyone?) but I’ve started to question this a little bit.
  • Watched the recording of a discussion on the issues raised by The A.I. Dilemma that was hosted by the Center for Humane Technology. The concept of a multi-polar trap is useful; it feels like a good encapsulation of the arms race currently in progress. The video and the slides from the session are available.

  • Discussed how getting our staff up the A.I. knowledge curve in a short space of time is an imperative for my Digital Literacy initiative and started to discuss ways that we can approach this.
  • Finished the draft of the breakdown of brands, products and objectives for our team. In our fortnightly department team meeting I presented an update on the structure and function of our team, touching on these brands and products. We had an excellent discussion, with some challenging questions from colleagues that have given me things to think about.
  • Attended the monthly Information Risk Steering Group meeting. There are a lot of initiatives that I am involved with or running right now that feed back into this forum.
  • Ran a training session for ten colleagues on our new password manager. It was an interesting hour. Everyone came out of the session further along the journey of signing up, importing passwords, setting it up on their devices and using it in their day-to-day life, but it felt a bit chaotic with everyone getting stuck at different steps. I don’t think this format is well-suited to the topic and won’t be doing it again. There are other tacks for us to try on the journey to getting as many people on-board as possible.
  • Joined the fortnightly working group meeting for a cybersecurity project.
  • Attended our monthly departmental risk review meeting.
  • Met with colleagues to discuss how we can move forward with training courses on clear writing for our department, personal development planning, and Microsoft Copilot.
  • Made some quick updates to the list of applications and IT systems used by our part of the organisation.
  • Talked about why you would want to bring the work to the people and not the people to the work.
  • Enjoyed a Learning Hour session on a recent trip taken by some colleagues to the offices of one of our technology vendors in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Joined Matt Ballantine for a chat as part of his 100 Coffees project. We had an hour together and covered a lot of ground.
  • Attended an interesting Thoughtworks webinar hosted by Martin ter Horst and Rebecca Parsons on The State of Responsible Technology. They recently sponsored a report published by the MIT Technology Review which I’ve now added to my reading queue.
  • Made the first half of this month’s Teams Fireside Chat, which always gives me some interesting insights.
  • Joined an internal webinar on the South African banking sector.
  • Attended a Better Value Sooner Safer Happier meetup with Mike Burrows on the topic of Between spaces, scopes and scales: What the scaling frameworks don’t tell you. The session left me feeling a bit baffled, as if my brain wasn’t competent enough to really grasp the topic properly.

  • Hosted a relatively informal school governor get-together at my house to discuss roles and responsibilities for next year.
  • Joined/set up a third Album Club, this time with some friends from the WB-40 podcast community. Our first online meetup is towards the end of this month and everyone is busy pondering what they will play when it’s their turn.
  • Loved this week’s cycling club ride. The shorts came out, although I hedged my bets by sticking to full-finger gloves. The route was pretty flat and it felt like we smashed it.
  • Signed up to go to Interesting next Wednesday evening. Looks…interesting. Alice Bartlett’s weaknotes told me about it.
  • Thought that our cats were making friends with a beautiful big black cat that has been appearing at our back door. Then they had a fight and we haven’t seen it since.
Cat stand-off in the Berkhamsted Serengeti

Cat stand-off in the Berkhamsted Serengeti

Next week: Four days in the office, meeting up with old friends and attending something Interesting.

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