[S05 E14] “Say Something”

For one last time I need y’all to roar

These will be my final #weeknotes in this style/format for the foreseeable future. I was going to try and at least get a couple more weeks worth out but the reality is they have been a grind for a while, I’m not getting the benefit from them I have done in the past and people don’t really seem to be reading them anymore either — so if I’m not getting anything out of them and nobody else is then maybe it is time for a rethink!

My intention is to take a little break and then from January start doing something weekly but with a bit of a different slant — not sure what that will look like really but will certainly mean uncoupling it from the day job if not my state of mind.

So this week was pretty good again. The run into Christmas isn’t without its challenges and stresses but all in all it was fine and a couple of spikes of anxiety were short-lived and seem to have resolutions in the making so we’ll see.

I was feeling pretty ropey on Monday — I postponed sprint planning and had to email in my CHUMPS update. I stayed online though and contributed to various things on Slack and did a bunch of support / account handling stuff via email. I probably should have just rested as I was a bit underpowered in the brain department but I did clear a few things that had been hanging around which was a decent outcome.

On Tuesday I was at the Pierhead in Cardiff for our ‘Wikifying the Welsh Assembly’ event. I have been stung so many times running meet-ups that I suspect I have quite low expectations — here are things I judge events by:

  • Venue expecting the event
  • % of people who signed up who attend
  • Catering showing up
  • The event being what the people who show up were expecting
  • Wifi works

Anything above and beyond that is just a bonus for me! On this occasion the wifi was wobbly but mainly worked and the rest were good results. The event was 100% white male though which was a real pity. We need to do better promoting to wider audiences in future. I’m sure there would be more interest in WikiData events in Cardiff and the day spurred some ideas.

To be honest I was mainly window dressing 🙂 I did the receptionist thing for attendees, then did a bit of an intro in the morning, greeted the Assembly Member sponsor at lunch and gave him some project background. Other than that I took the opportunity to catch up with Tony, who is the mySociety lead on all this work and who had just done a tour of something like seven countries for Wikidata events in 10 days!

Wednesday we did sprint planning though as we had someone out sick we postponed the retrospective. We’ll do that next week. It went OK I think. We are a bit light on process and the way things are working at the moment means we are a team of individuals as everyone working on their own projects for different clients — not sure how to counter this.

I then had catch-ups with Jen and then David. I’m trying to build in more 1–2–1 conversations in my week. I’m working closely with Jen on the Democratic Commons stuff — she is leading on the partnership stuff that is vital to the success of that initiative and has a Rolodex of contacts around the world in her head. David and I are working closely together as he ramps up his sales strategy for FMS Pro. I’m trying to make myself available to smooth the way for him as the success of FMS Pro really depends on getting a few more clients on board.

Closed the day listening in ion a technical call between our Democratic Commons team (Mark L, Tony and Nick) and the Facebook Civic Graph folks. I followed more than I expected. It is amazing how much of this stuff sinks in if you are around it all long enough!

Thursday was busy — a 9am call with everyone involved in the Democratic Commons work was generally positive but identified a few gaps that needed dealing with urgently and a need for some broader structure to the project. We have a Delivery Manager joining in January but can’t wait for that. It led to a follow on call where it became clear that my understanding of my role in the project and what I felt empowered to do weren’t quite aligned with the expectations of others. Not miles away as it turns out and probably not too hard to resolve which is good.

Then I popped out to meet Katherine Rooney for a bit of a chat about various things but mainly about whether there is a role for chat-bots in the kind of work she and I do (Katherine being at Delib). I am a bit of an advocate for conversational UIs I suppose and believe there is something interesting in this space but it needs quite a radical rethink of the models. It was good to chat anyway and I was able to hand deliver a few #weeknotes stickers.

There was a lot of Github issue creation that needed doing — I still have a backlog of that to catchup on.

I finished the day at the Watershed meeting up with Ed Parkes. Ed is currently helping out the ODI on some work I have an interest in and previously has been at the Cabinet Office, Nesta and GDS doing policy/programme work around open data so we travel in a lot of the same circles. We had a good chat and did some geeky gossiping as well.

At some point during all of this there was an announcement from the Digital Marketplace about the GCloud 9 extension which led to my discovery that they had done the same with the Digital Outcomes and Specialists framework and rather slipped they news out. I wasn’t hugely impressed (and wasn’t alone). I was expecting to do the necessary to get mySociety on that framework this quarter and not being able to do so is a complication to be truthful. I really think the comms around both decision have been really poor and people are nervous and unsure of what the future holds is my impression.

Today (Friday) the main thing of note was the fortnightly FMS Pro ‘webinar’ (yes I hate that ‘word’ as well!). Turns out GoToMeeting doesn’t work on Linux and my beat up old Macbook Air doesn’t have a working microphone (though I did try to use the microphone I bought for the podcast I never did!) so I just contributed via the chat interface answering questions while David was ringmaster and Dave did a first-class piece of demo-ing.

That is it really. Next week I am in Bristol all week (and have Thursday morning off for Star Wars!) and finish Friday until the new year.


Just lost 1.1lbs this week. I suppose it is still trending downwards but it is hard going now. I have my diabetes nurse checkup in the morning and hopefully things are going in the right direction. Fingers crossed.

I’ve decided after Christmas I will need to move to phase 2 of my health plan which involves much more exercise — I’m planning to get a rowing machine and see how that goes. I hate running (and runners — just kidding — kind of), can’t swim and can’t ride a bike so those things are all out. I won’t join a gym — I dislike the culture so a rowing machine seems a good choice. That and some home yoga until I am confident enough to join a class.

More broadly I want to feel fit enough to play football again sometime next year — even if it is just walking football.


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