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Weeknotes #230 — Diamond

Another week where I’ve felt exhausted for most of it. I’ve resolved to try and get some more sleep, scaling back the day so that I head up the wooden hill thirty minutes earlier than usual. The first day I tried it I immediately felt better, so I’m going to try and keep it up. Since the pandemic hit I’ve been very good at making sure I prioritise exercise as often as I can; sleep feels like the next puzzle to solve. It can be difficult now that we have teenagers in the house who, if left unchecked, will tend to a completely nocturnal lifestyle. We find ourselves picking them up at late hours or chasing them up to bed when we should already be asleep.

When I’ve been this tired in the past, I’ve found that I end up oversleeping when I should be leaping out of bed. I dismiss my alarm, think about gathering the strength to peel back the duvet and roll onto the carpet, and all of a sudden an hour has passed. It happened again on Saturday. I’d planned to go out with my usual cycling group but was never going to make it on time, so ended up in a group of three that left half an hour later. We had a no-nonsense, speedy ride around the route until being foiled by a puncture about a kilometre from the end.

This was a week in which I:

  • Delighted in seeing the signup figures for our password manager rollout climb to over 90%. We now have follow-up meetings in the diary with almost everyone who has yet to sign up, or is yet to start using the software across all of their devices. By any measure, it feels like the team has made a real success of it. I had a coffee with one of my colleagues who was concerned about signing up and I think I put her fears to bed.
  • Gave my final scheduled introductory presentation on Large Language Models and Generative AI. There are couple of teams that I am still yet to get booked in, but the focus now needs to shift to what comes next.
  • Met with an external vendor to discuss where we are in the on-boarding and contractual agreement process.
  • Had a meeting to review two of our real estate/facilities programmes and agree how we would structure the work now that we are clear on the scope.
  • Met to review a compliance report and agree proposed remedial actions.
  • Continued preparation for a meeting on how we manage unstructured data. Met with colleagues to agree how we will take this forward.
  • Met with colleagues to discuss the global Technology town hall meeting that we are hosting in November.
  • Hosted our weekly Learning Hour session. Two members of the team gave us an update on some software we are using to gather telemetry across our end-user equipment, helping us to proactively respond to potential issues instead of waiting for failures to happen.
  • Had an introductory meeting with the team at Gartner as I am now taking up one of our ‘seats’ for the next year. I am hoping that their research and consultation can help me further shape the Digital Literacy initiative that I’m leading.
  • Attended a Microsoft demo where they showed us the capabilities of Teams Premium and Copilot. That these are two products seems to be an accident of timing, at least with regard to the ‘meeting catch-up’ features of Teams Premium.
  • Worked with my team to clean up our Kanban board, getting rid of a bunch of items that we are never likely to progress. We’re not quite done yet.
  • Reviewed a short slide deck giving an update and recommendations for a change in approach for one of our teams.
  • Was excited for the children at the school behind our house when a helicopter landed in their field as an end-of-term treat. Helicopters are still rare enough to be a talking point, particularly when they land a few hundred metres away from you.
  • Met one of our two next door neighbours and was delighted to find out that we have a lot of common interests. They are renovating their house and have discovered that our mains electricity supply is looped via their property instead of being attached directly to the street. I can see our driveway being dug up at some point in the near future.
  • Went on a family trip to the Diamond League athletics meet at the London Stadium. I’d never been to that part of London before. It has a very modern vibe with lots of modern shops and apartments but there’s still lots of construction taking place. Like many sports, I think I prefer watching it on the TV than seeing it in person. With the running, pole vault, discus, shot put, high jump and long jump all overlapping with each other it was difficult to keep track of who was where. But you can’t beat the vibe of everyone in a stadium reacting to something at the same time. If we do go again, we’ll take our own refreshments; four soft drinks were £19.60 and two hot dogs came to £18.

  • Have been spending a lot of time thinking about the climate emergency. I’m seeing more and more protestors in the streets near my office as well as hearing about their impact at sporting events. On Wednesday night I caught the BBC news report on what’s happening in the northern hemisphere this summer, with record temperatures and wildfires all over the place. On my commute to work the next day I came across some Just Stop Oil protestors who were doing a slow walk in front of traffic on the A40. It takes some serious guts to put yourself at risk like this for something you believe in. Some of the passing drivers on the other side of the road shouted abuse as they passed. A driver behind the protestors nudged their legs and knocked them with their wing mirrors as they tried to squeeze past.

  • With the protests in mind, opted to book train tickets for business travel to Barcelona later in the year. You can leave London just after 10am and be in Barcelona less than 12 hours later. It’ll take me longer, but it seems like the right thing to do.
  • Informed the school governing board that I will be stepping down from my role at the end of the summer. I’ve been a governor for 10 years, with most of that time as either Chair or Vice Chair. We have a new Headteacher joining the school in September and it will be great for someone new to build a good working relationship with her. School governance has been a very big, rewarding part of my life over the past decade and I would like to come back to it in the future.
  • Had a sad end to the week when my wife popped in to feed our neighbour’s cat but found that it couldn’t get up. After a few phone calls, we found ourselves heading to the vet where they recommended euthanasia. The cat had been fine in the morning, bouncing around as usual, so hopefully it hadn’t been in that condition for too long. It didn’t seem to be in any pain.
  • Wrote a feature for the Berkhamsted Town Council newsletter on our Album Club, which is still on an unbroken run of monthly meet-ups since February 2011.
  • Managed to close my eldest son’s GoHenry account now that he has a ‘proper’ bank account of his own. It seemed impossible to do this from their website so I had to chat to a human to get it done.
  • Finished season 11 of Grange Hill. The 25 minute episodes have been perfect mindless TV for when I’ve just wanted to switch off from everything. I’m now at the point where I’d stopped watching the show regularly the first time around and it definitely feels as though it has passed its zenith.

Next week: Music front and centre, with two album clubs and a gig to go to, and a meal out with my brothers for their birthday.

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  1. Another busy week mate. Couldn’t have been nice regarding the neighbours cat. Have a great but not to tiring week. X