Weeknote #9 — Minimum viable kettle

This has come around super-quick for me, partly because I didn’t get much of a weekend the last time around. I got my weeknotes out late and then slipped straight into Monday with a huge to-do list. I seem to spend a lot of time thinking “I can’t believe it’s Friday already”; this is great in that I am loving what I am doing but bad in that I wish I had more than 168 hours to do it all in.

This was week two of five for our software rollout in London. Initially, things continued in the same smooth manner as last week and by the time Tuesday morning’s Steering Committee meeting came around I still had a good, confident story to tell. The meeting went well; the time I had spent at the weekend creating illustrations like the one below to explain various concepts really paid off. It can always be better, though; we need to look for more opportunities for the Committee to make decisions and really steer the programme, but I think this is a factor of where we are with the work right now.

On Tuesday afternoon, almost straight after the Committee meeting, things took a turn for the worse, with some of our users reporting all kinds of issues, particularly around speed and responsiveness of the software on a specific platform. It’s a real measure of the team in terms of how they step up when we get multiple problems arriving and we did well; we were organised, calm and gave the users as much attention as possible. It’s a bit like a bad experience in a restaurant where the management team have an opportunity to put things right as much as they can through how they respond. Our daily wash-up meeting was a little more involved than usual as we got our head around the entire landscape of where we are and agreed what to do next. I found myself stuck on a late train home, writing a note to all of our users and taking responsibility for any issues, frustrations and loss of productivity they had.

Wednesday was better but there were still a few niggles. We weren’t completely stuck and could continue with a lot of our work, but we were cautious to avoid adding load to the environment where we had seen the issues on Tuesday. Later in the week we have found a lot of circumstantial evidence that could have led to our problems but it is incredibly difficult to draw a straight line between a cause and the effects. Deciding on how to move forward feels a bit like trial by jury where we are trying to work out whether we can explain problems ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ as opposed to positively proving that two things are linked. This makes me very uncomfortable but given the way we work and the infrastructure environment we work in, we have to accept that we probably can’t get down to a lower level of detail. Overall, we’re still on track but will need to decide on details on how we move forward while we have imperfect information.

Meanwhile, I have been continuing to try to spend my time laying down the runway for the next projects in the hopper. Vendor discussions are reaching a level of maturity which hopefully means we can decide on a partner soon and we are busy planning visits to the firm’s other international offices to upgrade their systems. I am far, far from being on top of email and have been conscious about what I have committed to; this week I have found myself working late at night to reply to someone where I said I would get back to them that day, which has meant I have been trying to avoid making this type of commitment where possible.

As work has been so busy, we are half a month in and haven’t done our monthly home YNAB budget yet, possibly the longest we’ve left it in four years. We’re flying by the seat of our pants a bit but there isn’t much major spending going on this month so I’m hoping our income will cover our outgoings. One to catch up with this weekend.

My wife made an executive decision to treat ourselves to a new kettle, which seems like an extravagance as our old one was still working after only a year or so of service. The problem was that the rounded spout of the old Russell Hobbs one meant that it was utterly abysmal at pouring, which is quite an important feature for a kettle. The 1980s-style Breville which we’ve replaced it with is almost sniper-rifle-esque in comparison and it has been a joy to use.

The two evenings of governor meetings went well this week, although as the clock approached 10pm on Monday I felt as though I had to rush everyone along in order to get out of there. As hard as I feel I work, it’s always sobering to check in with Headteachers across the town who seem to be in a permanent state of evening and weekend working. Not good.

On the media side, other than continuing with podcasts on my commute and a few pages of Johnny Herbert’s biography before I turn my light out, nothing really grabbed me. I did have a puzzled look on my face when a Medium post turned up from Tim Berners-Lee about the web being under threat. Am I missing something?

Next week: More of the same; focusing on our rollout, trying to find chunks of time to keep laying the runway, and a few key governor meetings. Plus the a welcome return of Album Club!

Weeknote #8 — Overflow

This weeknote is late as the week didn’t stop until today. So much is going on that I’ve had to put in a full day’s work on Saturday and another half on Sunday just to keep up.

A small team of people flew in last weekend to start the next phase of our software rollout and although things have gone relatively smoothly, being involved in the work has meant that my ‘spare’, focused time has been very limited. We have a monthly steering committee meeting on Tuesday and I’ve been trying to find time all week to prepare and get the materials out in order to allow time for people to read them beforehand; they are finally done, but they took me almost two whole days to put together from Friday evening onwards. Looking back now, it’s no wonder I’ve felt stressed all week. Although I spent very little time with my family this weekend I’m so glad to have got the work done. It was great to have a whole day on Saturday with no meetings and very little interruptions, allowing me to focus my thinking around what we need to do at the programme level, before I get pulled back into the day-to-day details again tomorrow.

The team that flew in are with us for five weeks. We kicked off our rollout with an early morning meeting which then jumped straight into a presentation with our first batch of users. I soon started to get the same feelings as I did when we rolled out our pilot back in November; my job quickly becomes one of trying to slow the team down, putting some structure into our approach when issues come up so that we address them in a calm and coordinated way. From what we’ve seen this week, the whole point of running a pilot has paid off and we haven’t had any significant new issues appear, despite implementing on some additional platforms. Unfortunately the start of this process has coincided with some critical technical problems with our key software vendor which means that we can’t completely finish the job for any one user until next week at the earliest. This is possibly a blessing in disguise as we were able to see the impact of doing the first part of the rollout, making sure that have a stable base before we proceed.

We managed to get a team dinner in the diary and had a fantastic meal at Haz St Paul’s on Wednesday. One of our South African colleagues said his ‘pirzola’ was the best lamb dish he has ever had in his life, high praise indeed from someone who comes from a nation of carnivores. I’ve been a vegetarian (or more strictly, pescatarian, although that has always sounded completely ridiculous) for 20 years or so and it was interesting to see how people reacted to a big round of mixed mezze as a starter. Hummus, tabbouleh, falafel and cacik go with the territory but some of the team members had never had them before, making it even more enjoyable as they discovered how delicious they were. All bases were covered in our dinner conversation and it was great to get to know everyone a little better after spending so much time talking about work for the past few months.

A South African in our London team had put an order in with the travellers to bring a few things from home. One of those things was a big bag of gem squash (gem squashes?), a fruit that I’d never heard of before. It’s a bit bigger than a tennis ball and has the consistency of a cricket ball. We are now the proud owner of a sample and need to work out exactly what to do with it in the next couple of weeks.

I’ve had so many great conversations this week. There is so much depth and opportunity to the work that needs to be done at the company and the only limiting factor seems to be the time available to do it. My client and I have made great strides in defining how we want the programme of work to be represented to the rest of the organisation; now the work is to create both the ‘presentation’ and ‘actual tasks’ versions for the senior management and programme team audiences respectively.

I didn’t feel myself last weekend and it continued well into this week; it was a bit of a cross between having a mild cold, being worn out and (now when I look back) quite a bit of stress about all of the things on my plate. We had lots going on with being up and out early on Saturday for a family breakfast for my wife’s birthday, sledging with the kids for a good part of the day, setting up a new laptop and then making a last-minute call that the snow had thawed enough for us to chance a trip out to two different 40th birthday parties in the same evening. I’m so glad we made it to the parties; although we felt like we couldn’t get settled down at either one it felt great to have made the effort and to have been there to see people that are important to us. Actually, looking back at it now I can see how I started the week worn out before it even began. Other than Wednesday I’ve been working every evening until about midnight, and then getting up a few hours later to get back to work again. It’s been like walking about in a bit of a stupor and Friday was the first day I managed to feel myself, having had any kind of a good night’s rest. In my fug on Thursday I only remembered during breakfast at my kitchen table that I had to be in early for a meeting, promptly setting a new world record for a person in a suit with a belly full of muesli and coffee to run from my house to the train station.

With so much going on, this is the first year that I’ve had to miss our annual ‘Governors in School Morning’. I always love this event. As governors we aren’t in school very much when the children are around and never automatically have access to see teaching and learning in action, so it’s a great opportunity to get a good reminder of the real reason that we’re volunteering. From the feedback I’ve seen so far it was a big success with the staff and children leaving a fantastic impression on the governors. I’m very proud to be associated with the school, and it’s a privilege to serve them. Again, I just wish I could give it more time.


After reading Michael Lopp’s latest blog post I finally picked up a copy of his book Managing Humans which I have had on my wish list for the past few years. I’m a few chapters in and feel a bit disappointed to be reading the same material that I’ve read on his website, but then again the posts themselves are brilliant so it’s buying the book is a good way to give back.

Being so busy has meant that I’ve reached for some more easy reading for last thing at night. Having finished A Kind of Loving I’m back into Formula One again with Johnny Herbert’s autobiography.

It was great to have the WB40 podcast back again after a brief hiatus. Great point from Matt on Office 365’s terrible name if you have any hope of a ‘work/life balance’; this was brought home to me at my client’s office this week when a number of people refused to have Outlook installed on their phones as part of our rollout. The discussion on Chris’ trip to India and offshoring initiatives made me think back to the time I ran a project with a large outsourced development team based in Pune. There was tension between the managers in the company I was working for and the outsourcing vendor in that the former felt as though they had to get involved in everything and the latter wanted some breathing space to run things and get on with the job. It always felt to me that we should have given them a little more latitude than we did. If you go to one of the big vendors, shouldn’t the management of the setup be one of their selling points to begin with?

I stumbled across ‘Julia from IT’s post on Iron Triangles and Vicious Circles which was worth a read. She has some great points on how to broach conversations with stakeholders who want to fix all three points of the ‘triangle’ of cost, scope and schedule.

Next week

The second week of our London rollout, two evenings of school governor meetings, a steering committee and lots more vendor discussions. And hope that there will actually be a weekend next weekend.

Weeknote #7 — One day at a time

The world of work

It’s been a battle this week. I’m managing a whole programme of work but it’s been a struggle to get beyond dealing with the minutiae of issues on the very first project in the programme. At times it has felt as though nothing will move along unless I drag it forward by the whiskers myself, which has been incredibly frustrating. The work is still fun but I wish it would gather its own momentum. I’ll need to find some time to reflect on why that is and how I can get it firing on all cylinders.

As a team we’ve recently caused ourselves a lot of pain through a series of tiny errors, things we could have double-checked and quickly fixed when we did them but which ended up causing us to lose hours and days later on. (“How does a project get to be a year late? One day at a time.”) We have a large distributed team and aren’t doing enough to communicate with each other as we go, causing us to lose even more time through people having to chase up and find out what is happening. We can do so much better.

Monday got off to a terrible start with snow, delays on the tube, a decision to get off 30 minutes and one stop in to call for an Uber, only to have the car journey last longer than it would have taken me to walk. Missing my programme team meeting meant I had to catch up with people individually and felt like I was on the back foot all day; our daily check-in is so valuable. On the plus side, I had a great chat with my Uber driver who I think is the first person I have ever met from Western Sahara. We covered a lot of bases in 40 minutes.

On Thursday my combination of heavy snowfall, holding an umbrella, thin gloves and a biting wind left me literally nearly in tears by the time I had got to the train station and I took a rare visit to the platform waiting room to get some feeling back into my fingers.

The working week wasn’t all bad. Our big software rollout has been on hold for a couple of months due to a number of critical issues we found in December. We’ve fixed everything we can, have got things in good shape and have now got the go-ahead from our steering committee to continue. We’re flying people in this weekend to get the work done over the next few weeks and it’ll be great to get the end-user delivery underway again. It’s something tangible that we’ll all be able to see.

The internal Technology blog is now up and running. There’s been quite a buzz about it in the team, and although we don’t have much content yet I’ve seen one or two draft posts which should get published next week. I’m not worrying too much about how it gets used right now; the first problem is getting regular content on there and we can then deal with how to tune and hone it.

I spent some time today road-testing roadmapping software. I need to quickly and easily create a top-down plan with all of the key components of my programme that I can use with the programme team as well as our senior stakeholders. I tried ProductPlan (too basic for the money), Aha! (very expensive, probably very capable but also very complex), Roadmunk (the best with lovely output but not customisable enough and no dependencies), and Monday (too bizarre and not what I’m after on the visualisation front). I ended up back exploring Microsoft Project Professional’s timeline view. I haven’t spent much time with this as the earlier versions were too basic and messy-looking, but it seems like it has matured. I now have a basic structure in place and will flesh it out next week.

We had a really interesting discussion with client-facing staff on the technology that they want to have in the room when pitching for business. It got me thinking about how much of a gap there could be between what people think they want and what would actually be successful. The best analogy I have for a client meeting in my own experience is with portfolio/programme/project governance boards. For those meetings I have usually crafted a message and don’t necessarily want lots of flashy data manipulation tools to look at things in real time — it would be too easy to go off down a rabbit hole slicing and dicing information and not cover the things we need to. As soon as you move away from slide decks, PDFs or handouts that can easily exist in the physical world you may end up showing something to someone but not actually ‘giving’ it to them; you turn up, present and then leave. If I was a client I think I would like to walk out of the session with something I can ‘hold’, physically or virtually, that has been created for me. We need to give it more thought and also look at how we can experiment with this in a safe way.

The annual bonus season is coming to a close and as a newly-fledged contractor it’s interesting not to be involved with it for the first time in nearly 20 years. I haven’t missed anything about the ‘performance cycle’ — annual reviews, objective setting, joy or disappointment with the bonus letter — and am glad to have left it behind. A year ago I couldn’t have imagined leaving it all behind. It’s one less thing to spend time thinking about and it’s been good not to have spent hours and hours of my life creating appraisal feedback statements for myself and others.

Finally, we also made efficient use of sophisticated desktop videoconferencing messaging technology:

The world of home

It was a shock to hear about a young man dying in the street in Berkhamsted at the start of the weekend. It’s a cliché, but this kind of thing really doesn’t happen around here. Even more of a shock was finding out later in the week that two 14-year old boys from Watford and a 16 year-old girl from Hemel Hempstead had been arrested and charged with ‘joint enterprise murder’. As soon as we heard about it, my wife and I decided to talk to our children and explained what had happened, just in case they heard it from their friends first and were worried about anything. What a waste of a young life.

In happier news, the children were well-prepared for the snow this week; we saw the long-range forecast and took a trip to our local DIY store to buy a sledge well ahead of when the winter weather blew in. The manager had to get them out of storage for us as they thought winter had peaked in mid-December. All I’ve managed to do so far is fall over in the street on the way home from the office but the boys have promised to drag me out on Saturday morning to plummet down the hills with them.


Mrs D and I have started to have occasional ‘take it in turns’ movie night. It was my turn this week; I picked Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960), probably because I’m reading A Kind of Loving and fancied another kitchen-sink drama along similar lines. The film must have been quite a shocking for the times — swearing, people getting shot with air rifles and bedroom scenes with married women — and it was jarring to hear lines such as “Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not” which I’m so familiar with from other contexts. Having said all that, I couldn’t escape from it being more of a historical artefact than a film to get lost in. Good, but nowhere near as good as Room at the Top (1959).

We continue to somehow make our way through Black Mirror and finally came across an episode that put the crying emptiness aside and left us feeling warm and fuzzy at the end. The boys and I finally finished Star Trek TNG Series 2 (22 episodes!) which had the lamest of all finales, using masses of footage of Riker from previous shows.

Only a couple of things to read this week:

  • Recognising when you share things which aren’t framed as a contribution. (Do these weeknotes fall into the categories of ‘purpose-less contributions’ and narcissism? I hope not.)
  • The output of a team of AI researchers whose creation “found two clever strategies for succeeding at Qbert: one is to play a level endlessly, where jumping off a level causes an enemy to follow but you get enough points from killing the enemy that you get another life; and in the other the agent discovers an in-game bug.” (Video) — Via Four short links.

Next week

It’s going to be hectic but I’m really looking forward to it. Our big software rollout recommences, I’ve got plenty to do to move our vendor discussions along and also have a lot of prep for our next programme steering committee meeting a week later. Communication and collaboration is going to be more important than ever and I’ll be doing what I can to keep everyone on the same page.

Rules to live by

Serendipitously, I recently came across two blog posts in quick succession which are both filled with some excellent words of wisdom. I love reading these just as much as I do posts about peoplesworkflows, as they are insights into how others approach doing what they do and being who they want to be.

JP Rangaswami posted a lovely note about John Perry Barlow, former lyricist for the Grateful Dead and cofounder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His post links to another blog which documents Barlow’s Principles of Adult Behaviour. It’s worth reading this in full, but basically he noted the principles he wanted to abide by as an adult who was turning 30 in 1977. Some of them stand out for me right now:

1. Be patient. No matter what.

10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.

12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Do not endanger it frivolously. And never endanger the life of another.

15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.

17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.

23. Live memorably.

There’s a lot in here. It got me thinking about where I am and how well I am doing aged 41. I recognise a lot of myself in these principles but also see many places where I can do better. It’s a great list to remind me of where to aim. Principles 1 and 17 speak to me as a parent of two young boys who are rapidly heading towards their teenage years, and 15 reminds me that ‘being happy’ isn’t as worthy a life goal as having a full broad range of experiences and having empathy for others.

I’ve been listening to Russ Roberts on his excellent EconTalk podcast for many years. He recently posted his Twelve Rules For Life. This is also well worth your time. I’m an atheist, but I understand where he is coming from with his rule three to “Make Shabbat”:

I have over 500 books that I have queued up to read. I know that I’m unlikely to get through all of them (particularly as for some reason they seem to keep publishing new ones) and Roberts makes a very important point in rule five, “Read Read Read”:

Having left a job recently for what on paper looks like a step down — going from running a programme and project portfolio for a whole company to leading a programme once again — I wholeheartedly agree with this sentiment:

Probably the most important rule is the last one: “Be kind — everyone is in a battle”. The coffee shop at my client’s office used to have something similar posted up at the counter. It’s a good reminder that everyone is going through their own thing and it’s always better to give them some latitude; think about what they may have going on in their life that you can’t even begin to imagine:

These principles and rules aren’t always attainable all of the time, but perhaps the point is to aim high and keep trying.

Weeknote #6 — Trying to see it all

Here we are again already! On Friday I watched the links to weeknotes pour out of Medium and the WB40 podcast WhatsApp channel, looking on in awe at everyone else being done and dusted with them by 5pm. Weeknotes have ended up dominating my Friday evenings and I’m not sure how sustainable that is.

As much as I love the kids being active and involved in their football and running clubs, it was a rare treat to find ourselves sport free last weekend, giving me the opportunity to go on a nice longish bike ride. It was an icy start so I waited until the temperature came up to burn it off and ended up riding through lunchtime into the early afternoon, interesting to me in terms of how little energy I had. The weather was beautiful and it was a great feeling to get home with a half-century under my belt.

Mat has persuaded me to buy Forza Motorsport 6 for our Xbox so that I can join him and a couple of our close friends in the odd evening of online gaming. They have played each other online for years but this is new to me. My kids and I spent a couple of hours on Sunday getting to grips with it and running a couple of head-to-head races; they whipped my butt, which doesn’t bode well. It’s great fun, but for the past 20 years or so whenever I come away from a gaming session I can never seem to shake a feeling of regret — a guilt that I could have been doing something more productive with my time. I’ve deleted games from my phone because they have been too addictive. I’m not sure whether this guilt is a character flaw in that I don’t relax enough or something that benefits me as I actually do spend my time better elsewhere.

It’s been a really interesting week at work. I love being around the people at my client’s organisation and there is so much potential to make a difference to the business; the only limits are our ideas, bandwidth and ability to focus on the right things. We added a whole bunch of items to the ideas pile this week and need to do what we can to make sure they don’t end up mainly in the graveyard of good intentions. There are lots of dots being drawn between company strategy at head office level, how division my client works in fits into this and what it means to them, what Technology can bring to the table and how my programme needs to both respond and provide input into this. The biggest challenges at the moment are being able to ‘see it all’ and have a process for prioritising the things that get worked on. I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I have read around Wardley Maps (for an awareness of where we are), How to Measure Anything (to give us a common baseline upon which to judge the things we could do) and ‘Cost of Delay divided by duration’ (to prioritise the organisational backlog). It feels like one of those things that would benefit enormously from working out loud, writing and blogging it out, as we find out how to bring these things together. I hope I can carve out more time to move this along.

Does anyone use CD3 for their own personal to-do list, or is that complete overkill? For your to-do list, is it sufficient to work out next actions and then just work through things using context and intuition? I stumbled across Scribe’s weeknotes at just the right time; it’s very comforting to know that other people are grappling with the same things (“There are only two hard things in Management: priorities and scheduling”) and hearing their perspective on it.

I’ve previously talked here about working out loud. It struck me this week that my client, the Head of Technology, does this himself in his own way. His process isn’t to write a blog post and wait for written feedback but instead he presents his ideas to a broad range of stakeholders up and down the firm, does a great deal of sketching on whiteboards/iPad screens/pieces of paper, takes the feedback of the person he is talking to and incorporates it into the next iteration of his model of the world. There’s a lot of energy in the room when he’s around and it’s great to be involved in those discussions, working things out as we go.

The multitude of vendor meetings this week has proved to be good in this respect too; talking through our problems and getting their perspective is another form of working out loud and refining our self-awareness. I’ve been through the same background information a dozen times now and feel that I have a good grip on what we need. I’m trying to steer our potential partners away from just delivering to a spec that we give them and instead want them to tell us about how we should be doing things differently and why, based on their expertise and what they have seen work in similar situations. In one of my meetings I chanced upon Richard Davies from the Leading Edge Forum and it was interesting to talk to him about Simon Wardley and Matt Ballantine, both of whom I’ve been talking to in varying degrees over the past year or so and who work with the LEF in some capacity. Small world.

The very same Matt has been smashing the ball out of the park with his recent blog posts on the (lost) art of (conscious) decision making and the goal of getting IT out of the way as much as possible. The second article got me thinking about the conversations on my programme about whether we even really need a WAN or company-provisioned devices in our target state, and sparked a great chat with the WB40-ers about how much they had been able to achieve down this road.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking to people in the team about how switching to Office 365 and Office 2016 on the desktop is not going to suddenly, magically, fix all of the IT issues that people have. I think in our minds we have built up the new tools to be a something of a panacea but actually in the history of my experience of technology there are always defects, pitfalls and problems. This episode of the Track Changes podcast came along to my ears at the right time; from 24 mins 3 seconds in:

Paul: There’s this website — the guy doesn’t update it anymore — it was a blog, the URL is prog21.dadgum.com
Rich: That’s a good URL.
Paul: It rolls off the tongue. But he wrote about a week of bugs, and he just documented all the bugs that he experienced using software for a week. And it was a fairly long inventory and I was like “Oh boy, that guy has bad luck”. And I started to do it myself and I’m like “Oh my god, everything I use is garbage!” and I just work around it. Like my email flies all over the place and I can’t close that window if I want to.
Rich: We get good at navigating that stuff though, that’s the thing.
Paul: You think something’s going to open, it doesn’t, and you go back and do the three things and it opens up. Yeah, we’re all really used to it.
Rich: We get good at bad habits.
Paul: It’s terrible, I mean…our software is still exceptionally buggy like it used to be in the 80’s…we just have all gotten like “eh, well”…It’ll be fine. Everything kind of got better in that like you don’t lose work anymore, everybody fixed that part. So like, things save to the server, they save to the disk.
Rich: Always.
Paul: So you tend not to lose like a half-day of work, so you don’t have this like “I hate computers, everything’s bad.” It’s more this low-grade, like, incompetence. I just want to be very aware of it because we make software.

Somehow, given the knowledge that the software will always be buggy, I still need people to feel that what we are giving them is great. Office 365 is a real step forward in so many respects — using proper Office clients on iOS is amazing — but we do need to calibrate ourselves to still expect a degree of problems, because when has it ever been flawless?

This week we had a visit from the person who is leading the company’s work on blockchain; she held an informal meeting in the corner of the room for anyone interested in learning a bit about what the firm is doing and about 30-40 people turned up. I’m skeptical about how much the technology is a solution to the world’s problems but it was cool for there to be a bit of a buzz in the office with lots of staff from different departments all gathered around and asking questions.

On Wednesday I attended a very meaty inter-school governance meeting. A three hour session in the evening is tough enough after a day of corporate work let alone for the Headteachers that have had a long day at school. I have so much respect for the work they do; it’s a proper job in every sense. It feels great to be involved in what we’re doing and I do feel like my presence at the meetings is adding value. I’ve been reflecting on how the more I feel like this about something, the less it seems like ‘work’. In our own Governing Board we need to look at how we get parents involved from further down the school and build a pipeline of future leaders; despite our best efforts we are still missing those one or two elusive people who are professional, understand what a strategic role entails and do not have a commitment to full-time job, that would be ideal candidates to line up as future Chairs.

I don’t seem to have read much this week although I have been gathering a lot of documents in Evernote on some key work topics to consume over the next week or two. The stories that struck me were:

Finally, I randomly stumbled across this little tune a few days back and it has been burrowing itself into my brain since then. The album isn’t half bad either.

Next week: Very big week on our programme, getting ready to continue our software rollout the week after. Lots of governance to do and technical work to line up so that we hit the ground running and make the end-user experience as great as it can be.


In the Indieweb spirit of owning and hosting all of my stuff on my own website I’ve uploaded a copy of my Twitter archive here. You can now go and view, and search, all of my 30,000-odd random thoughts from the past decade or so without leaving this website.

I’ve had a feeling for a while that I haven’t been using Twitter as much as I used to a couple of years back. The ‘index graph’ that comes as part of the download package seemed to confirm this, but what was stark for me was exactly how long ago I really was a ‘heavy’ user. Things seem to tail off after 2011, a couple of years after I started.

(This fits with the general pattern of me getting older and thinking that ‘most things’ happened a couple of years ago whereas actually they took place much further back. “Oh, Ronnie Barker died a few years ago.” Yes, 13 years ago.)

I thought it would be interesting to take the monthly statistical data (it’s in a .js file in the Twitter download) and see exactly how much my usage had declined by plotting it in a proper chart. Here’s where I got a second shock. If you follow the trend line from mid-2010 this is pretty much the exact point where my usage bisects zero:

I have such fond memories. Back in the day I made some lovely friends, had interesting discussions about all kinds of topics, organised Tweetups, and generally had a great time. I even had good conversations aboutwork — Twitter and it’s wonderful hive mind had utility. But it became exhausting. Fear of missing out meant that I didn’t unfollow people unless there was really no value in what someone had to say. I gave up on trying to keep up with my main timeline and switched to using lists, one for the Technology folk I was interested in following closely and another (private) one for my friends, family and anyone else I didn’t want to miss. I also had the odd one here and there for when something was blowing up in the financial markets or Formula 1 and I wanted an up-to-date commentary. But even that was too much. I don’t know how much of it was a change in me or a change in the place itself, but I can’t find the energy for it anymore.

I still add people to my follow list quite liberally, as I know I’m not actually going to read their tweets. These days my Twitter feed is used as input for Nuzzel which notifies me when articles get shared by more than five people in my timeline.

Life seems a lot healthier with longer form content of blogging, reading and more considered discussions. The time I used to spend reading my timeline is now instead spent in the Kindle app or going through blog posts in Feedbin/Reeder.

There are still lots of people I admire who seem to get a lot of value out of Twitter and still be productive and do great work, but I don’t feel like I can be one of them in any meaningful way.

Weeknote #5 — Winning and collaborating

I’d better start the weeknote by acknowledging the achievement of this marvellous young man:

Last weekend he ran his final race of the season in the Chiltern Cross Country League, won it, and became the overall winner for his age group. Well done fella, it was a fantastic effort and we’re all very proud of you. (Love that boy.)

We actually managed to spend quite a bit of last weekend together as a family, which was fab. After a life-refocusing chat with a friend the week before I made a conscious effort to spend time with everyone. Mrs D and I watched Lion on Saturday night which almost destroyed me, and we followed it up with a Sunday night family viewing of Empire of the Sun which finished me off completely. Being emotionally drained as I went to bed led into me being woken by the Monday morning alarm, promptly falling asleep again and waking for a second time in a panic half an hour later. Rushing around in order to make it to my first meeting of the day was not a great start to the week.


Once it got going, the week turned out to be a very good one. We’ve moved forward on a significant number of issues on our programme, resolving some technical problems (typically to discover that there are more lurking further down the line, but it was ever thus) and I am starting to see a path towards how we can finally get our software rollout going again. One of our particular issues looked more specific and complex than it was, but somehow it revealed itself to me from a different angle and I realised that it exists today, on its own, whether we carry on with our programme or not. (A case of being too close to the detail.) We’ve re-framed it and presented it back to the wider team; it does need dealing with but hopefully not as part of the work we’ve set out to do.

One of our key team members was on holiday for half term this week and we missed him more and more as the week went on. There are still just too many little items we need to solve before I can sit back and be confident the rollout team can fly in (literally) and hit the ground running with our users.

It was a week where I wished I had my favourite poster to hand to put up in the office. With people being out I’ve had to get into the detail of some of the problems and I was again humbled by the depth of IT infrastructure and what I don’t know. ADMX files were the final new discovery of the week.

We’ve been learning a lot from the issues we’ve found. The problems have been framing our thinking about how we need to set ourselves up for the future as we make changes.

I had a minor wobble one evening this week when I started pondering my personal workflow again. I managed to pull myself back from it before I got too deep as after all these years I know there isn’t much to be gained from tinkering. As I mentioned some weeks back I still have tasks and to-dos in too many places and I was thinking about how I can improve. I’ve recently switched from Workflowy to Dynalist as they have taken the simple outline concept and run with it. The outline is a great way to be able to ‘see all of the things’ and zoom in but I haven’t quite committed to it yet as the be-all and end-all; I still have too many date-based reminders in Remember The Milk which I don’t want to mess with right now.

On the WB40 WhatsApp channel Matt Ballantine triggered a good discussion from his post on ‘decomposing collaboration’, looking at the types of tools people use. On the podcast he also noted people really want ‘bring your own software’ and not just ‘bring your own device’ — they want to use the tools they are comfortable with and proficient at. I see a specific case of this problem when working across different teams; we can focus around a kanban board, or project plan, or list of things to do, but I then need to take the things I need to do from those places and work them into my own tools, alongside all of the other tasks from other aspects of my life. As soon as you have to update the status of something in more than one place, it’s too much of an overhead.

On Tuesday night I attended a dinner with a cross-section of staff from my client’s office, hosted by a couple of the senior managers. The food was amazing and the format was very good, with everyone giving a lengthy introduction to their background and experience followed by an informal discussion amongst all of the dozen or so attendees. It was a great way to break down the barriers between the strangers that sit together in a crowded room every day and I can already see the impact. This was followed by an ‘all-hands’ breakfast with the Group CEO the next morning. They management team are really putting in great effort to foster a friendly, collaborative atmosphere in the company. The events and conversations got me thinking about how the barriers can be further broken down. It’s a long road to move to ‘working out loud’ as part of the culture — people need to get comfortable with not having a fully-baked message before they put it out there — and the work I am doing has a big part to play in providing the technology to enable it.

Next week we’ll be putting an internal-facing blog live and I’m looking forward to the team using it for all sorts of posts. Hopefully after many years of trying internal blogging in different roles this one will gain some traction and we can lead by example in a small way.

Other stuff

Taking my 8-year-old to football training on freezing cold, wet Saturday mornings is made much less of a bind by the chats I have with another one of the dads there. He’s an anaesthetist and I’m fascinated by the work he does and his take on things, so much of which seems to have similarities to the stuff I have picked up elsewhere. We end up covering so many topics in the course of the hour and my mind is buzzing for the rest of the day. This week we tackled:

  • How journaling and reflective practice is used by medical professionals (relating that to ‘working out loud’ and weeknoting)
  • Circumstances and chains of events that can lead to something going wrong in a medical operation which isn’t necessarily solely the fault of the person who makes the critical error (which reminded me of the ‘Japanese train crash’ episode of the brilliant Causality podcast)
  • Analogue vs digital devices in anaesthetics, and relating this to conversations I’ve had with pilots about Boeing yokes vs Airbus side sticks and analogue vs digital feedback
  • NHS funding, economic incentives up and down the value chain, how you end up with a cost/benefit calculation for new forms of treatment and putting a price on someone’s life and limbs
  • How much latitude someone in a hospital gets to read some research and then just decide to start doing a thing (e.g. if there was evidence that just blowing gently in someone’s ear for an hour would aid their recovery, could you just start doing it?)

It’s a shame there’s no football training this week.

I managed to get on my bike but only did 1h of a 1.5h turbo programme as I didn’t have the legs, or the will, to continue. I’m hoping that I can actually get out this weekend for a long-ish ride, only my second of the year.

Football refereeing went okay but I’m not enjoying it as much as I used to. I’m really not that great at it and seem to need to completely rely on the linespeople to flag for offside. I understand the rule but I don’t seem to have the capacity (or haven’t practiced it enough) to watch out for it whilst thinking about everything else that is going on in the game. If it wasn’t for the flags I would probably have called zero offsides in the match. We lost the game but the boys played really well, which seems to be the story of our season.


The kids and I finished off Star Trek: Discovery, which generally improved as the weeks went by. It’s wasn’t the Star Trek that I know and love — I didn’t feel empathy for the characters anywhere near as much as I did in the original series or Next Generation — but it was entertaining. I was disappointed a few episodes in when they started dropping f-bombs and the rating switched from 12 to 15; it was completely unnecessary and out of character with everything that had gone before (no pun intended). On the plus side the show had some good central gay characters and it was great that my boys got to see this represented as being just as ‘normal’ as any other kind of relationship.

After watching Lion I immediately reached for the book and finished it off in a couple of days. I thoroughly recommend it, whether you have seen the film or not. An extraordinary story and the best advert for Google Earth that there could be.

A thoughtful and widely-shared article about the future of technology got me thinking back to Bill Joy’s article from April 2000 yet again.

If you run a public-facing website and pull in lots of code from other places you really need to be running a content security policy and make sure you are getting automatic reports from your users. If I understand Troy Hunt correctly, this would have prevented UK and US Government websites from being “Infected by [a] Cryptocurrency Miner”.

It’s nice to have something that can get under the hood of what we mean by a ‘Digital Transformation’ as this is so many things to so many people. A common language and set of definitions is a great place to start.

The Spotify Mellow Beats playlist has accompanied me throughout the week. Great to work to and plenty to explore.

Next week

Programme team back up to full capacity, time to squish those last remaining issues and get the detailed plan running for our rollout, all whilst looking ahead one or two months down the line and making sure we’re ready for what’s next. Lots of reading ahead of another big midweek school governor meeting.

Weeknote #4 — NDAs

Exhausted. This week has felt like a constant race against time with deadlines to hit — some this week, lots more in the coming few weeks — and the need to keep so many streams of work moving forward. Friday particularly felt like I’ve spent all of my time going from conversation to conversation, picking up new actions and not having much chance to regroup, take stock and start getting them done.

I’m currently talking to no less than nine vendors about various aspects of the programme I am running, with at least two more being lined up for an initial chat. Getting to the point where I can even talk in detail about the business with one of them is a slog:

  1. Agree we want to take the discussion further
  2. Fill out an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) template and send it to the vendor for them to put on their letterhead and send back to you
  3. Deal with any queries between the vendor and your legal department (and occasionally get given the vendor’s NDA form which results in further back-and-forth)
  4. Receive the signed PDF
  5. Get the legal department to countersign the PDF
  6. Send the final version of the document back to the vendor, encrypted in a zip file along with the materials you wanted to talk about in the first place
  7. Dig out the mobile number of your vendor contact and send them the password for the zip file

Multiply this by the number of vendors involved and it’s been difficult to sit back, relax and say I’m done with work for the day unless I’m sure that the ball isn’t in my court with any of these.

The work itself is as fun as ever and it’s great to be running a programme that is dealing with the entire IT stack. I’ve been in discussions about architecture, networking, cyber security/IT risk and data loss prevention, virtualisation, desktop hardware, end-user problem diagnosis, helpdesk escalation channels, internal communications and marketing and the end user experience. And that’s just this week.

We’ve been experimenting with using BlueJeans as a desktop videoconferencing tool and it has blown me away compared to my experience of Skype for Business. The video quality is incredible, it has nice little features like ‘hold space bar to talk’ (making me feel like I’m messing with a CB radio) and the screen-sharing works great. Our daily team meeting was a little bit Brady Bunch at first but we soon got used to it.

Taking a step back, I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what ’my thing’ is — joining the dots, making connections between different people and pieces of information etc., which is… a little nebulous to say the least. I brand myself as a Programme Manager and that’s the role I’m currently undertaking for my client, but it would be great to get to the bottom of whether dot-joining really is a thing in its own right and how I could move to doing more of it. I think Jen Dary’s appearance on the Track Changes podcast I listened to last week is still sinking in:

Jen: … led me to a little café on Court Street where I made a very long list of every job I’ve ever had, both volunteer and pay. And I wrote next to each job my favorite thing about it, using, like, a little phrase with a verb, so maybe my work on a farm was like teaching kids how to shear a sheep, right? … And you know, the reason that I say that is because there may be people listening to this who have no idea what their next step is, and what they think their next step is is a title, and that is bullshit. I will just tell you that. People say titles and they mean lots of different things by them. … And so the three most popular verbs on that list were “leading,” “connecting,” and “writing.” So I thought, cool. If I stay at arc, I need to push for a role in which that is my focus. If I go to another company, I need to look for a role in which that is my focus.

Rich: So you broke it down.

Jen: Yeah.

Rich: You’re not looking for “senior vice president — ”

Jen: Exactly.

Rich: Of blah blah blah.

Jen: I’m looking for verbs. What the hell do I wanna spend my billable hours doing?

(I love the way that all of the Track Changes podcasts have transcripts. Classy.)

School governing has taken a back-seat this week and I have a bit of catching up to do. I had to miss a check-in meeting with all of the Headteachers and Chairs of Governors in our town on Thursday morning which never feels good. Some of our governors are collaborating with a teacher on a staff survey which has a great set of questions compared to previous years; hopefully it’ll give us a great insight into how the staff feel about the school.

Had a ‘real life’-focusing conversation with a friend who turns 50 next week. Like me, he also has two boys and his whole family are effectively 10 years down the road from where we are now. When we met at work eight years ago I remember him telling me his worries about not spending enough time hanging out with his kids — not being ‘too busy’ to kick a football around with them at the weekend — and today he told me that he thinks he addressed it just in time. My boys are at great ages, 10 and 8, and I know I need to prioritise my time with them before their childhood slips through my fingers and they’re off doing their own thing.

The eldest boy ran the Hertfordshire Primary Cross Country race and won it (yay!) which means we’ll be off to the national final in Loughborough on 24 March. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the race but I heard it was an exciting one. He’s got his final Chiltern League race tomorrow morning and is in with a great chance of winning the league overall. Fingers crossed!

Kids football last weekend was completely freezing, but at least the sun was shining. I’m reffing the U11 match this weekend, which is great midwinter job as you get to run around a lot. I haven’t done it in quite a while so am a little nervous; the introduction of the offside rule from this age group has made a difficult job a lot harder.


All my Dan Carlin Christmases came early. No sooner had I finished a six-hour dose of Hardcore History on the Celtic Holocaust, along comes not only a 4.5-hour episode on the history of watching other people’s pain for entertainment, but also a new second podcast feed of ‘addendum’ material. Dan says that listeners don’t want these short, quirkier shows in the main feed but I’ve always liked them — they are what Hardcore History was in the early days. Good work.

Michael Lopp has a great post about being a leader, taking on too many things and the consequences of not being able to keep up with your commitments.

This interview with Quincy Jones doesn’t pull many punches. There must be something about being at the sunset of your life where you have less of a reason not to say what you really think. The Remainiacs podcast recently said the same thing about Ken Clarke after his speech in the House of Commons. He’s the current ‘Father of the House’ (the person with the longest continuous service in the Commons) and it must be refreshing to be able to talk with such radical candour.

Troy Hunt talked about responses to his view about whether coders should take a ‘Hippocratic oath’:

I’ve thought about this topic often since reading After The Gold Rush by Steve McConnell which argued for turning software development into a ’true profession’. With technology seeping into pretty much everything it’s amazing that you still can (and people do) hire a developer after just an interview or two and then let them loose on all your code. I have always thought that we haven’t had enough major disasters yet for a single code of conduct or set of standard professional certifications to emerge, but Troy has a point in that many people now work on the code we run and it’s therefore hard to hold individuals to account. RBS were famously fined for a major systems failure that impacted their customers but there are a lot of contributing factors to what went wrong; other than the fine and (I assume) internal disciplinary procedures there has been no wide-scale change to the way we do things.

On the subject of accountability, Rich Ziade noted on What We Chat About When We Chat About Chat that our audio virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa and ‘OK Google’ (is that what it’s called?) will never get to the point where they’ll give you true advice as none of the companies would want to take on the liability if things went wrong. I’d never thought of that.

Reading-wise, I finished up Mark Webber’s autobiography (when times are busy it’s nice to have an easy-reading book like this to turn to) and have continued with the excellent IT Infrastructure Architecture by Sjaak Laan, which reminds me of the enjoyment I used to get in reading about computer internals from 1980s computer magazines as a boy.


Congratulations to Paul Downey on his new role. The outpouring of love and respect in the replies this tweet are amazing, and better than any CV:

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

Played this at a dinner party last night. A simply fantastic game, a bit like SpaceTeam but with much more depth and difficulty. You play the part of someone who is presented with a time bomb that you have to defuse by solving a number of puzzles on the device. Other (real life) friends in the room can’t see the bomb but instead have a giant manual of instructions that they can refer to. The puzzles are a real challenge and you gradually learn how to become competent at each type. This video gives a good idea of how it works. (Note that they absolutely nail it here and the game actually starts off a whole lot easier than this.)

You can play on a laptop but we used a Google Daydream headset along with their Pixel phone; my first experience of ‘proper’ virtual reality. It was incredible and extremely addictive — I really wanted to explore the environment and wander around the room the game put us in. It was weird to see the controller in my hand in the game itself (it would move and rotate exactly mirroring what I was doing with it in real life) as well as the swivel chair I was ‘virtually’ sitting on moving as I rotated my body around. When I took the headset off I felt very disoriented and I can see why they don’t want children under the age of 13 using them.

Weeknote #3

I feel like I’ve worn myself out this week. Monday turned to Friday in a flash, and here we are at the weekend already.

On Sunday morning, Sleep Cycle informed me that I had just experienced my best night’s rest in years and I certainly felt good for it.

I’ve been out every night this week to attend two very different school governor meetings, dinner out with an old friend, a visit to the O2 to watch my 10-year old in the Young Voices choir and then rounding it off with Album Club #84. It’s weeks like these where I remember why I decided to give up drinking as I don’t think I could easily handle being even more tired than I ended up on Friday.

I worked from home on Monday in order to squeeze more things into the day. My potential lie-in was sacrificed by being up at my usual time, replacing the morning commute with an hour on the turbo trainer. My wife’s genius idea of setting things up the night before was brilliant as I didn’t then need to faff about for 20 minutes or so in the morning, one less barrier to actually doing the exercise. I couldn’t believe how good and sharp it made me feel for the rest of the day. I’d managed to get on the turbo last weekend as well and it felt great to be back on the bike.

We managed to finish Monday night’s Full Governing Board meeting in just over two hours, about a third shorter than our last one. We always push to get the agenda and materials out a week before but typically there is the odd late paper which we need to deal with; this time we almost nailed it and it helped a great deal, taking most of the papers as read and just dealing with questions. A couple of weeks ago I attended a governance meeting chaired by someone else who did a great job of keeping everything to time; this made me really conscious of my role to keep our meeting moving along. It’s a very tricky balance to be struck between spending time on an important point and moving onto the next thing. Our Clerk sent out a really good note to the Board prior to the meeting to try and get people to hone in their responsibilities of reading the materials and bringing along good, challenging questions. Our new governors are doing a great job of this already and have a great eye for detail.

One of the problems with the role of school governor is making sure you get into (and then stay in) a rhythm of things. For example, you can spend a dedicated couple of hours looking at and learning about how to interpret school data. You’ll get it and be able to ask good, challenging questions and identify strengths and weaknesses. But if you don’t look at it again for a few months it is very difficult to recall that knowledge easily. Our Full Governing Board meetings take place six times a year which sometimes feels too little to force this rhythm and knowledge retention. More meetings is typically not the answer — we have to balance it with the availability of our Board volunteers and school staff who are always at the back end of an extremely long and busy day.

A couple of times this month I have looked at a list of my governance actions and not been able to remember whether I had completed them or not. It’s made me realise how much I rely on my ‘external brain’ of notes, emails etc. and don’t retain things in my head.

I’ve had a good focused week of work but the amount of stuff coming in has exceeded the amount of stuff going out. (Which has always been my puzzle with GTD’s assumption that you can continually manage to triage everything coming into your inbox and still have time for everything else; when and how do you look at your system and realise you need a more structural change?)

It was great to have a session with fellow weeknoter and WB40 podcast listener Dave Floyd on the challenges of Office 365 migration. On the surface things seem simple but there is significant complexity underneath. This week’s podcast episode was on the topic of Working Out Loud — including creating weeknotes like this one —and as always is well worth a listen. I was reminded that I had read John Stepper’s book of the same name last year and hadn’t yet got around to writing up my thoughts. Stepper seems to have read every management book out there and makes liberal use of references to lots of other material. For some reason the approach of ‘targeting’ people you want to develop a relationship with didn’t sit well with me and seemed a bit contrived, even if there wasn’t much emphasis on it; I always thought working out loud should be a little serendipitous and altruistic. But I’m probably wrong.

With the work stacking up this week I have been very conscious of getting into random office chats and knowing that although some of the conversations aren’t directly moving things forward, they are building relationships and sowing seeds for the future. I hope the other person doesn’t notice me being conscious of it.

A lesson (re-)learned from this week is that as much as I want to plough forward with things I need to ensure I bring everyone along with me, particularly where those things sit under their remit from day-to-day.

Had a lovely couple of email exchanges with two people I used to work with, one who has just been through a redundancy process and is making the most of the opportunities this has given her and another who really focused me on my values and how I think about myself.



I finished reading Radical Technologies by Adam Greenfield. It succinctly breaks down the topics of smartphones, the Internet of Things, augmented reality, digital fabrication, cryptocurrency, blockchain, machine learning and artificial intelligence, along with their societal impact and paints a number of different visions of the future. It’s very good. I’ll need to write up my thoughts on it separately but I’m sure I can’t do a better job than the most-liked Goodreads reviews of the book.

Articles and blog posts


Been making a concerted effort to catch up with the wonderful Track Changes (a 40+ episode backlog), as well as FT Alphachat and FT’s Big Read.

Gina Trapani’s discussion on todo.txt was fascinating and made me realise that you just need to be happy with whatever system you’ve got for getting tasks done.

Jen Dary’s conversation about her career path was inspiring and is a great listen.


Mrs D and I started watching Black Mirror. Compelling viewing, but the complete opposite of life-affirming, satisfying TV and it doesn’t make us want to plunge straight into the next episode. It doesn’t make me feel quite as empty is when we went to see The Piano Teacher at the cinema (horrendous, not recommended) but it’s definitely someway down that track.

This week’s earworm

I caught a bit of the BBC Four documentary on The Story of Aussie Rock and ever since then I can’t get the Easybeats’ Friday On My Mind out of my head. I’ve always loved it but seeing them throw themselves into it live adds a big spark.

Next week

Need to pick up the pieces from this week across both work and school and get all of the to-dos in one place, a job for this weekend if I can squeeze it in.

There’s a danger of me becoming a bottleneck to moving things along at work but I’ll have to balance being ‘head down’ on moving the work along with getting ‘PowerPoint-prepared’ for at least three governance committees over the next two weeks. There are so many open loops at the moment. I’m expecting to get a raft of things back from different vendors which will need to be read, compared, discussed and actioned. I’m also still trying to get a single consistent view of the whole programme that the team can look at every day.

There could be some late evenings ahead.

Weeknote #2

Work stuff

A very productive week. Something has clicked this year where the programme I am running feels possible, as opposed to last year where I felt like we were climbing an impossible mountain. We are starting to get some of the big boulders slowly moving around our architecture and medium term programme delivery plans; hopefully they will accelerate and start rolling after a continued, concerted push.

Lots of reminders this week that I am surrounded by an embarrassment of riches in terms of people that could potentially help me with my work, both inside and outside of the client’s firm, and I need to develop the muscle memory of remembering to talk to them on a regular basis. Got a couple of great leads from the WB40 podcast WhatsApp channel on some vendors to talk to and the whole channel is turning out to be interesting, amusing and productive. (Having said that, it was the cause of me leaving and losing my umbrella on the train as my mind was too distracted by the chat.)

Found Joanne C Klein’s excellent Office 365 blog and have lined up a few articles to read, such as how adoption never ends (a theme I have been talking about a lot with my client) and a look at Compliance Manager for GDPR.

The scale of GDPR and data privacy was brought home to me when I looked at a data extract which showed ‘person A’ logging in for a remote session from ‘person B’s computer at home late at night, and what inference could be drawn from it.

Learned that security configuration in a Microsoft estate could not be more complex if it tried, and that getting specialist help is a must.

Really interested in the free course from Troy Hunt on creating a security-centric culture.

Been thinking that I don’t know enough about formal governance structures from a legal perspective. Will need to search around for a primer. Subcommittees seem to have some kind of official/legal bearing both at work and within the context of a school; some groups have formal minutes and others just have notes. Need to look for a ‘governance primer’ somewhere so that I’m sure of my facts.

Successfully experimented with LogMeIn Rescue to walk a user in New York through the setup of a couple of the Office 365 apps on his iPhone and it worked really well. iOS screen recording output can easily be diverted to an app in real time and you can talk the user through what to do. Will need to look at whether this is a good option to turn into a production solution at my client’s firm.

Bought some great stainless steel cups to take to work so that I stop using the plastic throwaway ones for water. I was already well in the habit of taking a coffee mug to work each day and bringing it back home for a trip to the dishwasher, so it’s been simple to add this to the routine.

Other stuff

Great night out last Saturday with some close friends for a delicious home-cooked dinner. Impressed to learn that one of them used to work for Ceefax; brought back fond memories of favourite pages, blocky art and my BBC Micro Morley Teletext Adapter (£100 from Watford Electronics!) that could download software from the service.

Helped my 10-year old with finding images for a poster for school. Tried explaining that you usually can’t just take images from anywhere for your own use and introduced him to Creative Commons. Don’t think I did a good job of it. Wondering if copyright and fair use is a secondary school topic these days? Seems like an important thing to know.

Signed up to the USD 2/month service from micro.blog to intelligently syndicate my blog feed to Twitter and pleased with how it’s working. Nice to support such a lovely concept in a little way and get something back from it.

Not a great week on the fitness front. Kids’ football was cancelled due to waterlogged pitches which meant no refereeing or linesman duties, and I now haven’t been on my bike in two weeks. Walking to and from work has been hampered by rain. A priority for the week ahead.

Reading and listening

Empathised with how MacSparky got back from his holiday and had to spend a few weeks ‘digging out‘ to get himself back on track.

Learned from a friend how someone would approach harvesting credit card details from websites. Made me think about Report URI and how any corporate website owners should be making good use of it.

Reflected on how to write a blog post. I’ve never printed out a hard copy to proof-read one of mine, but I have asked my wife to read drafts of the ones that were really important to me.

Loved thinking about the ‘near enemies‘ of loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy and equinamity. A blog post I will need to re-read and reflect on more than once.

Ripped though an excellent six-hour podcast of The Celtic Holocaust. I’ve listened to Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History since episode one and it was a gateway to the amazing Common Sense — probably my favourite podcast of all — which is sadly on an extended hiatus.

Troy Hunt’s workflow for dealing with a data breach discovery is excellent in its transparent and thoughtful approach. His writing and weekly podcast fascinate me and I envy how much he gets done.

WB40 was its usual interesting and informative self. Got me thinking about how presenting a photo of hand-drawn information in a slide deck implies that the work is a draft, work-in-progress and invites discussion and debate in a way that a polished picture doesn’t. Natalia Talkowska‘s Doodle-le-do sounds fun.

Remainiacs tackles Brexit with far more candour and humour than the BBC’s Brexitcast (yes, possibly just for those remainers like me). With their guest Matthew Parris this week they make some important points about how UKIP served a purpose of draining the most extreme parts of the Conservative party how the purple party’s subsidence could be even worse than having them around.

Thought about how much we talk about giving our children space to play, be bored or think but the societal rules about parents letting their children being out and about alone have changed so much. (An old article, but I think of it often.)

After hearing it a couple of weeks back for the first time since childhood I have not been able to get this 1985 German electro-pop earworm out of my head:

And the award for the most sobering tweet of the week:


It was interesting to me just how motivational ‘working out loud’ was to the work I did this week. Knowing I was going to have to report back here was enough for me to really focus on the key things I had to move forward.

Next week

Two evenings of school governor meetings, plenty of pre-reading to get done beforehand; membership changes to manage and responsibilities to juggle.

Need to keep the momentum going at work and get those boulders rolling.