in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #236 — Stang

A hummingbird hawk-moth that paid our garden a visit

Four days at work this week, but it felt like five. My mission on Sunday night/Monday morning was to get to Reading in order to pick up my eldest son and three of his friends from the festival. I don’t think I’ve ever been on a car journey where Waze has rerouted me so many times. The closer I got to Reading, the more cars joined me in a convoy to the town centre. Things ground to a half a couple of roads away from the pickup point. The wonders of modern technology were put to good use where my son could see exactly where I was stuck in traffic; it was much easier for him to walk to me than it was for me to get to him. They all had a great time. We chuckled as we dropped them off one by one at their respective houses and watched each of them shuffle, slightly broken from the raving, to their doors.

We had lots of people out of the office at work this week, but it still felt very busy. Holiday season hasn’t quite come to an end yet.

This was a week in which I:

  • Completed vendor on-boarding for a technology company we are hoping to work with. We now just have the statement of work to agree.
  • Did some research into the state of Generative AI and Large Language Models in China ahead of a presentation I will be giving to our office there on Monday morning.
  • Met with a colleague in the Non-Financial Risk team to discuss our team’s approach to Large Language Models and Generative AI.
  • Took part in the steering committee for an important cybersecurity initiative that we are involved with.
  • Met with colleagues for our quarterly architecture governance meeting. Had a long discussion about the need for a bill of materials and bill of behaviours for any software product we use, and how far we are from this being a reality in the software industry.
  • Spent time with my team to review all of the ‘task’ cards on our Kanban board. As well as discarding a bunch of items, we decided that our research-focused cards would be better focused as topics for future Learning Hour sessions.
  • Stocked the Kanban board with a number of strategic tasks that are aligned to our team’s roadmap.
  • Set up a webhook-based interface between AgilePlace and Microsoft teams to alert us when new cards are created on our Kanban board.
  • Joined the monthly Architecture Community of Practice meeting.
  • Fixed a defect with the world clock webpage that we display on our digital signage players in our office. For some reason, requests for the JavaScript libraries hosted on CloudFlare had started either being rejected or timing out. It was trivial to download the libraries, repackage them as part of the widget and reference them locally. It probably saves on bandwidth too.
  • Took part in our monthly Lean Coffee session.
  • Recorded a video pitch for how I think we can improve our regular weekly office lunch and sent it off to our head of Marketing and Communications. I’d been thinking about it for a while and decided that a long email wasn’t going to cut it.
  • Ran our weekly team meeting. We have an amazing bunch of people that are not afraid to speak up and share personal things with the rest of the team.
  • Met with a vendor who provide ‘team building’ activities in both London and Johannesburg. (What’s a better phrase than ‘team building’? It has such negative connotations based on what people have experienced in the past.)
  • Pondered when it is best not to reply to a group email and take the high ground, and when a reply is needed to make sure that everyone is aligned.
  • Met with Mark Wilson for a random coffee. WB-40 podcast host Matt Ballantine set up the coffees as an off-shoot of his 100 Coffees project, specifically for members of the podcast community. I consider Mark to be my ‘Internet twin’ given how many times we find ourselves talking about things we have in common. It was lovely to chew the fat with him.
  • Hit the milestone of 5,000 ‘random coffee’ pairings for our team at work since we started the initiative in May 2020. We still have new people joining on a regular basis, typically people that have just started with us and want to get to know more of their colleagues. At some point I need to off-load the work to a system as it is still a manual process right now.
  • Had a short discussion with a technology consultancy vendor on what I look for in a technology partner. A friend of mine works for the company and was keen to get input from a broad swathe of people across IT.
  • Heard from a friend that he is selling his dream home that he has poured a lot of his life into over the past few years. He already knows that when his fixed rate mortgage deal ends he won’t be able to afford it, so is taking preemptive action. Given how the UK interest base rate has risen from 0.1% to 5.25% in less than two years, I wonder how many other households are in the same situation?
  • Met with UK Power Networks to discuss the project to remove our house from our neighbour’s electricity connection. Hopefully they’ll be able to connect us directly to the street without digging up the full length of our driveway.
  • Had a lovely brunch with my wife at Jester, a new cafe in Berkhamsted. The coffee is large and the honey and fruit granola is plentiful.
  • Kicked off the new season of Learned League with four wins in a row, taking me to the top of the table, dropping to fifth when I lost the last match of the week. This is comical, given that I finished both of the past two seasons in the bottom third. I haven’t suddenly got that much smarter in a few weeks.
  • Struggled to find a new TV series to watch with my wife. We’ve tried a few things but have lost interest quickly. Even the latest series of Only Murders In The Building seems a bit tedious. We’ve started watching Once Upon A Time In Northern Ireland which seems to be an incredible piece of filmmaking; we weren’t looking for a documentary but it has us hooked.
  • Finally watched Judy (2019). It’s not the greatest biopic that I’ve ever seen, but Renée Zellweger’s performance was superb and the ending broke me. I don’t think anyone would claim that Judy Garland has the best voice of all time, but there is something about the emotion in her performances that makes them so compelling to me. Years ago I was commuting to work, listening to Tony Bennett on Desert Island Discs, when he picked Judy Garland singing Last Night When We Were Young. I’d never heard it before; it literally stopped me dead in my tracks. It is absolutely beautiful.

  • Got bitten or stung by some kind of insect on the Saturday morning club ride. I was descending a hill at the time so have no idea exactly what it was, other than that it was painful. At first I thought a stone had pinged up to my leg, but then the pain kept coming. To say it is itchy today would be a massive understatement.


Next week: More AI, the welcome live return of Marika Hackman and an online Album Club.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.