in Prose

S02E01: Some time later

I go up progressively more early every morning this week. It was awful until I got up at 0430, at which point it was better. It’s a demonstration of sleep cycles, and one great lesson is that I can get up at 0430 and still do a good day of work and social interaction as well as have time for a run.

I am absolutely not going to do that, but it’s a great proof of concept.

Monday

Monday’s overwhelming feeling was total, freezing cold. The heater in our office has packed up for the winter and is spending the season on Southeastern trains, helping them implement sauna mode across the network. I spent a not-inconsiderate amount of time capturing requirements for an upcoming client. It’s currently a very, very labour intensive process so I need to find a way to automate it in a way that’s useful to Mark, who implements the customisations. The work is best done as a batch piece, and so is the collection — but unfortunately not the same batch. I have to transform it somewhere in the middle, or push the ability to customise all the way out to the client.

Tuesday

Tuesday felt non-stop. I got a solid series of hour-long working periods done, including writing up the role template for Felix Tomlinson’s potential replacement. He’s done sterling work, and we’re hopeful we can get a couple of new people in to replace him and develop their digital skills. Speaking to him was immensely useful but sometimes a little difficult, as he picked apart some of the flakier, vaguer things that are in the role description. Some of it is necessary because we’re asked now what we’ll be doing from March to September. As a startup there’s always a chance we’ll pivot, and specificity ties us down too much.

I’ve never seen F.R.I.E.N.D.S, but with all those initials I assume it’s a forerunner to Agents of S.H.I.EL.D

The form itself is a Word Doc with macros in it, which our Google Docs struggled with. It was a little frustrating because an online form would be more accessible, but on the other hand if you’ve got to hand the forms out to people then lines in a spreadsheet are really hard to grasp.

I also had the chance to catch up with Morgan, who with her husband offered some wonderfully frank advice about my own career and future. It was occasionally brutal, but that’s what’s best about advice from people you love and trust. Brutality gets to the heart of the problem and expresses it painfully so that you can identify it and deal with it.

Wednesday

Last day in the office before I head to Poland with my old conference team. I’m in love with the fact that we still hang out and I hope the current team end up the same. This time we headed to Poland, where one of our number is at the College of Europe in Warsaw.

There were a few customer queries, and one that I couldn’t fix and had to pass back to development. There have been a few like this that have disrupted our sprints; it slows down delivery of the bigger items but it can’t be helped. It’s frustrating though, so I’m going to see if I’ve got the funds to get one more developer so we can have a rota of people on “bug-fixing” duty.

I also can’t work out if that should include me. Do you expect senior management to be fixing bugs in code, or just giving you the headroom to do it yourself?

In the last hour of the day two momentous things happened. First, our Fast Streamer published a blog off the back of Michael Brunton-Spall’s excellent post⁰. As he’s not on Twitter, I posted it and then my phone blew up.¹ A few solid conversations followed, but annoyingly they’re all on Twitter so poor Felix only has my word to go on that it got a reaction. If you’ve not seen it, read it here and then go and argue with him about it. Here’s my favourite pull quote from it:

The “death march” bit was mine. The prediction was slightly off. It was the second.

I also had a great board meeting where we signed off strategic goals for the next five years. I like having an idea of what I’ve delivering to, and I’m absolutely loving the freedom I get in how to deliver it.

Thursday

Thursday morning I ironed and packed my suitcase before heading into university. The Information Systems module — essentially a beginner’s guide to Scrum — is quite old hat for me now, but I still enjoy attending the lectures. There are definitely benefits to going all the way back to basics, as I’ve always worked with teams that had been doing Scrum for a while.

Fundamentals of computing is still a total mind-melt. Don’t ask.

Friday

Friday is a blur of waking up at 0430, being ready to leave at 0500, realising I’d forgotten my passport at 0501 and waking up my partner as I looked for it. To her everlasting credit she didn’t kill me on the spot, so that saved my weekend. Then to Luton, to Poland, and once there a tour of the College of Europe’s campus and two bottles of gin between 9 people. And some vodka. And apparently I had to give a giant stuffed bear a fireman’s lift.

I am at least as perplexed as you are by this image

Weekend

We walked around the old Jewish ghetto. It’s full of information, and the whole thing is incredible. The absolute viciousness with which people not so distant from us methodically, efficiently, and indifferently murdered millions of others is hard to get your head around until you walk round a place that contained 300,000 people and then didn’t any more.

We also ate, talked, debated endlessly and did the things you do when you meet with old friends. I love it. I love them.



Reading

@_why’s (poignant) guide to Ruby: it’s the most hilarious guidebook to a programming language I’ve ever read. Please go and read it, particularly if I’ve promised to teach you how to code.

Feeling

Sore. My final wisdom tooth took the opportunity this weekend to erupt through my gums. Unwise in the extreme.

Thinking

About statistical analysis of estimates against time, and whether story points represent the best balance between accuracy and effort. There’ll be another post about this soon.


⁰ “Agile” and “linguistic prescriptivism” are mutually exclusive, so the first digital type to whine that it’s “blog post” and not “blog” is going to get my literal boot up their bum.

¹ Not literally.

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