in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #255 — Meetings are not enough

Mentally this was an extremely busy week. From a work perspective, there’s a mountain to climb this year. But, I have a map, a compass, provisions, fair weather and an excellent team; it’s going to be tough but I think we can do it. This week felt as though I spent a lot of time wrestling with the problems we need to solve, but I didn’t feel like I was tackling them on my own. I love working in our team.

The weekend was so busy with unplanned events that I wasn’t able to get my weeknotes written up in good time. It happens.

This was a week in which I:

  • Was sad to hear that my nan had passed away. But so grateful that she had lived a long and independent life.
  • Had a visit from the ‘couldn’t make it up’ department where my first commute of the year was delayed as the doors stopped working on our brand new train. After the crew wrestled with them for 20 minutes at Bushey station, they eventually made the decision to take the train out of service. It wasn’t an auspicious start to the year.
  • Continued work on the ‘kickoff deck’ for the year, including what will be the hard-edged immovable deadlines that we need to hit this year. Our plan is to review this at an offsite meeting the week after next and then take it back to the whole team.
  • Made progress with booking a venue for the offsite meeting. We’ve agreed where we plan to go and now need to get the contract signed.
  • Got my head around a building infrastructure project, primarily through re-reading materials that had been sent to me over the past few months and asking questions of the team that have been leading the work. Things are starting to make sense. It made me realise that there is no substitute to burying yourself in the work; attending meetings is not enough on its own. Finished the week by sending out an advisory note to our senior leaders about the broad shape of the work for this year, trying to prompt issues being raised as early as possible.
  • Joined the weekly project meeting for opening a new office.
  • Had the weekly project meeting for moving offices in one of our cities. We are very close to a significant milestone, after which our team needs to spring into action.
  • Had a couple of meetings for the project to address the way in which our teams store documents. Information management is a difficult problem to solve in a way that meets the needs of all interested parties.
  • Had a call with a senior internal stakeholder to close out on an initiative that we had decided against taking forward.
  • Had an impromptu conversation with one of our business heads about a gap that they have in their business process. Next steps are to set up a call with a vendor and start to map out where a tool could fit into a broader set of steps to plug the gap.
  • Agreed with a vendor to postpone some team-wide training on clear writing that we had planned for Q1. We don’t have enough time available to make sure that we do justice to the preparation and delivery of the material. Hopefully we’ll be able to complete this once all of our main projects are up and running.
  • Held the first Learning Hour session of the year. The talk continued the theme of 2023, with a focus on Generative AI. Our presenter gave a high-level overview of LM studio which allows you to download and run large language models on your PC. The conversation made me realise that most people — including me — have an imperfect knowledge of how the tools work. It got me searching for an analogy that I had encountered before Christmas which you can find in the podcasts section below.
  • Met with colleagues across our Group to discuss Generative AI patterns and guidelines and our approach to utilising the technology.
  • Had our monthly meeting with the Head of Operational Risk.
  • Met with a senior colleague who is struggling with their personal productivity workflow. Our conversation was a reminder that what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for anyone else. I’m very much a text-based note-taker, whereas a big part of my colleague’s job is marking up PDF files across a number of different devices. Our team needs to get good at using the same tools so that we are able to help with requests like this.
  • Said ‘Happy New Year’ to the final set of colleagues who returned from leave. It’s great to have the whole team back in action again.
  • Had a lovely lunch with our divisional CIO and my colleagues in our management team. Found out that one of my colleagues is allergic to shellfish, not great when you’re sitting down to eat at a restaurant called Burger & Lobster. They (both the restaurant and my colleague) were very good about it; the restaurant let him nip over to Nando’s and bring back something to eat at our table.
  • Had a random coffee with a fellow member of the WB-40 podcast Signal group. He is an IT Director at an events company. It was fascinating to hear about the challenges he has had with deploying IT infrastructure in unusual places, as well as occasional problems with event attendees.
  • Started to look at what it would take to remove a support pillar in our kitchen. Exchanged emails with an architect friend who previously worked on our house to see what the possibilities are. Our kitchen is old and tired. When we last had it fitted we couldn’t afford to do anything with the pillar, but it’s meant that we’ve had to compromise on everything else.
  • Decided to stop using the Kagi search engine, two months after I started a subscription. This forum thread was the catalyst, and another sealed the deal for me. I’ve switched back to DuckDuckGo.
  • Took down our external Christmas lights at home.
  • Didn’t make it out for a bike ride as the temperature has dropped too low. TrainerRoad  had me on a recovery week so I had a few easy rides lined up. I think that perhaps they are too easy and I’m not convinced that a whole week of gentle rides is really necessary. The next time they turn up in the calendar I may opt for something heavier.
  • Joined seemingly everyone else in the country in watching Mr Bates vs The Post Office. I approached it gingerly as I am not usually someone who likes an ITV drama, but it is actually superb. Brilliant storytelling that brings a complex, technical narrative to life.
  • Had a great time at Album Club, listening to an excellent album, enjoying our host’s fabulous hospitality and talking a lot of nonsense.



Aza Raskin: Just quickly for listeners, I want to give an analogy because a lot of this can feel confusing, like model weights and source code. How does all this stuff work? I think a useful analogy is sort of like an MP3 player, model weights, when you say a model weight, what is that? That’s like an MP3 file on your computer. And if you’re open up in a text editor, it would just look like gobbledygook. But if you have the right kind of player, you take your MP3 and you put it into a music player, an MP3 player, you can hear the song. And it’s very similar with AI. Weights are just like this MP3 file. If you open it up just looks like gobbledygook. You put it into an AI player, and then you get the blinking cursor that can start to think and do cognition. And then there’s the code that generates the MP3, that’s the training code. It takes all the data and it makes MP3 file, an AI file. Inference is what we normally call the player. So those are some of those terms. And when we say that the weights are open, it means that the MP3 has sort of been put out onto the web and anyone that has a player can now play that thing, and there’s no way to take the MP3 off of the web. Once it’s out, it’s out forever.



  • I have had a major earworm of this song for the whole week after it turned up on a random playlist. I first heard it on a VOX magazine cover CD. Press play and you too can have an earworm of your own.


Next week: Trying to move forward on all fronts at work, an online Album Club, and heading to the cinema to see Queen rocking Montreal.

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