in Prose

S03E11: I am not a clever man

The weird double-episode in the middle of the season that makes you sit up straight in the luminous glow of Netflix and go, “Oh shit, is it the season finale already? Did I really just shotgun 13 episodes of this show? What kind of rotten monster — oh, okay. It’s that weird mid-season double episode” and then you sink bank into your nest of blankets and tea.

Relax. Sink back. We’re not at the finale yet.

Way back, last Thursday, I went home early because I felt rotten: the beginning of the flu. I’d already volunteered to help out at SiliconMilkRoundabout, and figured I’d be better by Sunday.

I was. I definitely wasn’t well enough to use five hours of spoons being extroverted, but I was well enough to stay at home, maybe go for a stroll and see a friend for a coffee.

Hey, reader. Guess which one of these I did.


So then it was Monday and I was huddled in my snuggliest blanket drinking my largest mug of tea and generally feeling monumentally hacked off at past me, the me who overdid it.⁰


This week I’ve mostly been struggling with imposter syndrome as I try to get to grips with Jenkins. It’s software we use to automate software deployment, and this is my first time getting deep into the guts of it. Like all projects that have been around for a while it seems like a horrible, screaming mess at first glance. I’m confident I’ll get there, but the learning curve is sharp.

What I’ve noticed is that I’ve been tracking my time less when I’m struggling at work. I think this is some kind of avoidance behaviour, so I’m going to dig into it a bit more and work out what it is I’m really doing.

Brains: they’re weird, and they control your life in ways you don’t even notice.

Red team! Assemble!

The team got together and reviewed our threat vectors and attack trees. Attack Trees are constructed from the point of view of the adversary. Creating good attack trees requires that we think like attackers, which I’ve got to admit gives you a bit of a thrill. We broke down all the ways different attackers could try to get into our system, and found that we’d plugged all but the most expensive gaps.¹

If you’re writing software, I recommend doing these attack trees. Some of the outputs will scare you — firstly, there’ll be whole avenues of attack you hadn’t thought about and now you won’ t be able to sleep until they’re fixed.

The second thing is that you’ll find out that someone on your team has been harbouring a secret desire to hack into things and you won’t be able to sleep again full stop. It’s fine. They’re on our side.

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So. Many. Meetings

Now to be fair I signed myself up to these, but all the same I’m frustrated at the number of meetings I found myself in. Not because they’re not good — they are, they’re interesting and give me new perspectives — but because they take me away from what I ought to be doing, and I recognise them for what they are — more avoidance activity because I’m not already brilliant at something I started only recently.

For example: I joined an assessment workshop for a product that another team are building. My job was to assess whether the tech was up to scratch, and it was a genuinely enjoyable and challenging discussion. I feel good about doing it and I hope the feedback I gave will be valuable. However, I should really have been getting more stuck in with the difficult, boring work of better understanding the automated continuous integration pipeline, instead of extra, valuable, corporate² work.

In an ideal world I could do whatever I wanted and that would comprise solely of things I enjoyed doing, but I don’t think we’re there yet.

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Every day I’m shufflin’

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I found out on Thursday that I’m being shuffled back to my old team for the short term as there’s been a few moves. It’s not ideal, but the team is good and I’m fairly comfortable moving around. Still, it’ll mean another period of two or three weeks where I have to re-learn what I used to know. I’m starting back on Monday, so it’s a fairly sudden change. Still. It’s nice to be wanted.

This week has been a good week for coding, even if I’ve not done much work stuff. I’ve written up a couple of interesting practice examples — the orchard and the game of life. As ever, I get so much enjoyment out of problems like these. I love them, and the exciting things AWS is revealing around serverless is making me itch to try out a side hustle I’ve been thinking about. Watch this space if/when I go down to four days a week…

Secret project update

This week I think I successfully convinced someone senior to sponsor an alpha of my secret project. I think. I’m not sure yet, the ways of senior people are mysterious. I’m aggressively optimistic about this, because I think I’ve got a reasonably clear idea of what the project needs.

I was delighted to discover that it doesn’t necessarily need me, because it means all the information I had in my head has been transferred into pages and I am not a blocker. I’m hopeful I’ll get to work on it, of course, but I’m more interested in it getting done.

More on this as we get it, although I suspect with it being Christmas soon all will be quiet on that front.


⁰ The worst part is that we’ve both done this idiotic dance before.
¹ “Expensive” is a euphemism. What it means is that the only routes into the system would be via what’s called “rubber-hose cryptanalysis”, which is also a euphemism. It is not very much fun to think about and I do not recommend it.
² ie not my core job

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