in Prose

Weeknotes S03E13: Gluttony

The Christmas indulgence has started in earnest. Someone feed me a salad

What a week this has been. Here goes:

1I did my first bit of volunteering with the lovely folks over at codebar. It was an immensely enjoyable experience and reminded me that my first true love is teaching.⁰ I had a small group of three students who were breaking into Python for the first time, and so we went through the important things new programmers must learn. They are:

  1. Google is your friend
  2. The next person to read your code will have your home address and homicidal tendencies
  3. “Readable” is better than “quick”

It was really basic stuff and I enjoyed myself more than I have in some time. Dinner was provided and it was pizza. So carby. So delicious. It had a vegetable on it though so…healthy-ish?

2I did a big ugly bit of work and came up with a recommendation to do nothing to automate it. I think it’s important to have records of decisions, including when those decisions are “we’re not going to do anything about this annoying problem” because then people can disagree, and that’s good, and when you get very angry at the people who didn’t solve this annoying problem you can find out it was you all along. More importantly, you’ll be able to find out why you didn’t do it then and decide if things have changed sufficiently for you to come to a different decision.

I had a celebratory hot chocolate that was so thick I could stand a stirrer up in it and so full of calories that the health and safety executive demanded it be sold in tiny cups like espresso. It was amazing.

3I attended Hack the Police and won two prizes. Nobody was more surprised than me. There were people there who’d built machine learning tools and global mapping tools and a virtual reality tool for evidence examination.

I put together a five questions, skinned it in the GOV.UK design system, and then mucked about with a capture the flag (CTF) challenge for the rest of the time.¹


And yet I’m now the proud steward of a Met Police whistle, an Amazon Alexa, and offers of help to turn this into a real thing. I’m really excited, because apparently in many cases of robbery and violent crime viable CCTV isn’t always used because it’s so difficult to get it into the hands of the police.

Of course I’m absurdly busy, so this will probably be taken out of my hands or not start work until after March. All the same, it’s very cool. The code is open source, so check it out if it’s your kind of thing.

We had burgers for dinner and cake for breakfast. I tried a burger made entirely of plants that tasted both meaty and not like any meat I’d ever had before. It is definitely The Future.

4I did not get onto the Future Leaders Scheme. This has come as both a massive blow and no surprise, because cognitive dissonance is easy and so is self-deprecation. I made myself carbonara for dinner with extra cheese.

I am grateful that I’ve been doing this with a bunch of other public sector digital heroes, because — selfishly — some of them didn’t get it either, and they’re way more brilliant than me. So I know I’m in good company, and that the cutoff was incredibly high.

I’m really looking forward to the feedback and results of the psychometric tests, so that I can give my critical friends some things I’d like their help to work on. They’re due ‘later this month’, presumably for excellent reasons.

I’m also mildly irritated that after a job interview three weeks ago I’m still yet to hear back about it. It’s for a senior position and I am 100% certain I didn’t get it, but at the very least I’d like to know. Not knowing is the chitinous thing whose wings scratch your insides.

5There may be movement on my flat. The endless merry-go-round of frustrating, paper-based process (alleviated by paying other people to deal with it) continues. It continues in my favour, and so I feel quite churlish for complaining about it. It looks like — as long as the developer realises that all valuations will be much of a muchness — I shall have another £20,000 shaved off the price of my new flat. This is enormously exciting, but there is a nagging fear that prices everywhere are about to do their best impression of a whale called into existence by a space-age technology:

The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

That’s all for this week. Wish me luck.


⁰ This comes with the caveat that the student must want to learn, which is why I really love mentoring and really hated teaching.
¹ It’s taken over my bastarding life. Don’t ask.

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