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WeekNotes 3 touch on final dates at ASOS, tech tools, #FortyFest, walking Jurassic Coast, food intolerances, #MakeLifeWork, #HouseFinesse, Year In Reviews, bass guitars, #DeadwaterFell, #Murmurs, Paul Velocity, DJ EZ, Hed Kandi and more idiom origins.

Work

Following a week of discussions, we’ve finally managed to negotiate my final date at ASOS to the end of January – kudos to my line manager for chasing and supporting my desire to wrap up my ASOS tenor so I can begin the next chapter at WorldFirst sooner. 

The priority from that was initiating handover with my replacement which we fast-tracked into documents, notes and details of all the necessary data sources for the team KPI’s. It’s actually quite satisfying to see how many new tools and metrics I’ve shifted from frontend development to backend APIs over the last 5 months. I’ve swapped JIRA for Azure DevOps, New Relic for Grafana, Trello for Planner and Confluence for SharePoint (don’t ask!) 

Obviously, the most important thing after that was arranging leaving drinks. I’ve decided the Thursday would be better suited for maximum availability plus our monthly Tech Develops falls on the Friday so, whilst I’m wrapping up and doing final handover, the rest of the team will be busy learning.

Life

We returned to the West Midlands this past weekend for another significant family party on the other side. It was wonderful to see all the family together, despite everyone getting older and calmer than the original days when I met them all, nearly 20 years ago.

Plans for both of us tuning 40 this year are under way too. The “blow out’ holiday is booked for Bali over Easter plus a “Forty Fest” party is planned for the first week of September (between both our birthdays) when we’ll be inviting all our family and friends for a number of music acts, food, drink and fun. It’s amazing to have so many people around us who can make this happen and we think celebrating with the masses (most our school and uni chums are also hitting “the big four-oh” too) just after the school summer break should be something for everyone to look forward to.

Health

Preparation for our Jurassic Coast Challenge in May started this week but, as typical managers, we spent several hours merely planning out the training programme and fundraising activities. The challenge is mid-May so we’ve got 16 weeks to fit in practice walks, starting with a 15km warm-up next weekend.

We’ve setup JustGiving with individual and team pages which seemed to make sense initially but, following complicated configurations, would’ve been easier as a joint page in the end. That said, a bit of healthy competition between the two of us won’t hurt.

The diet log started this week in MyFitnessPal, recording all the meals and snacks I’ve indulged in through the days. It’s a tricky habit to get in to, especially with the adhoc drink or biscuit, but my OCD nature certainly enjoys all that extra data capture.

I also reached out on Twitter for recommendations of food intolerance tests which returned record responses (for quite a few months) from plenty of people, known and unknown. It’s a pleasant reminder of how powerful social media can be and what a wonderful community we have around us, but on the flip side, how many equally suffer with indigestion issues nowadays. Is it a new cause of dietary varieties or the consequence of growing awareness?

On the food front, I’ve also tried to use up the remaining goodies from Christmas by making a Pannetone Pudding (hence the cover photo). I don’t normally make sweet treats in the kitchen, I’m more in to savoury, so this was a new thing for me. That said, I was quite proud of my home-made custard for moisture and it tasted pretty good. If I did it again, it would need more vanilla and nutmeg to add that extra flavour.

Sides

Make Life Work continued in the recording studio this week with Ashley and Kevin sharing their career stories along with how they find a balance with side projects, health and personal demands. Marc will be recorded next week plus one final guest needs securing and recording in the next few weeks before I start the new job. Then I can crack on with production and preparation for a February release. I really do enjoy having the conversations with the individuals; I’m normally buzzing after the sessions so, as long as I can fit this in, it’ll definitely be continuing. All the guests so far are keen for follow-ups as well so I’ll have to work out how to make that happen.

House Finesse has been handed over to my partners-in-crime, Stu and Matt, at least for the next few months. I’m trying to keep it going as it approaches 15 years of mixes but with minimal commitment on my part as I start the new job and find my capacity. (There’s a recurring theme here, right?)

Away from my laptop, I’ve also been thinking about learning more musical instruments. I’m tempted to take on the bass guitar this year, spend more time on the piano and (ideally) setup my decks in the home studio. That final one might be harder to convince my wife but she quickly offered to buy me a guitar for my 40th birthday (alongside my mid-life crisis tattoo I have planned) and I could always justify the decks as practice for a set at our “Forty Fest” party in September…

Tech

A new section that I realised I was overlooking – quite concerning considering my line of work.

This week has presented two “Year In Review” infographics from some of my favourite apps; Monzo and Untappd.

I’m not sure if should be proud or concerned that my most popular places on Monzo are my nearest takeaway and convenience store plus 56 unique beers in one year suggests one a week.

HelloCast has continued to impress me as I plan out and record Make Life Work. An amazing tool for gathering notes on guests and episodes, clearly made by people who know this industry (good ol’ “eating dog food” at play)

I’ve had several connectivity issues at home; one with an old WD MyBookWorld NAS drive that just doesn’t seem to want to connect or be discoverable on our home network, and the new Hive cam seems to drop connection quite regularly which I suspect is due to nearby competition with The Boy’s Netflix UHD streaming.

Speaking of the Boy, we put his Xbox One S on eBay this weekend to fund the final part required of his new gaming PC; a graphics card. He’s hoping to get at least £110 for it but we reckon it’s worth around £150 if pushed.

Entertainment

Deadwater Fell on All4 has caught our attention over the past few weeks. Always loved David Tennant so it’s quite refreshing seeing him play a more sinister character and in his home country. I have found it frustrating not being able to binge the entire series though respect Channel 4 for eking out the series over time properly.

Murmurs on BBC Sounds – intriguing half hour stories, first one about some time travel between modern and old times, second around paranormal outcomes and third with strange happenings. Think Black Mirror crossed with X Files. I also love this use of podcasts on an influential platform, providing short stories in small, digestible forms. It would be great to see more like this.

The music playlist has taken a turn back to the late-90s, early noughties where I’ve been revisiting some classic UK Garage and Hed Kandi on Youtube including Paul Velocity’s Oldskool UKG mix, DJ EZ’s Boiler Room x RBMA London session and Disco Heaven 01.05.

I’ve continued to read Red Herrings and White Elephants, discovering the origins of everyday idioms. Here’s some of my recent favourites: 

  • Don’t let the bastards grind you down” – that naughty word actually references a 17th century carpentry tool called a bastard file, a coarse file used as a heavy-handed way to grind something down for finer touch-ups. 
  • Cock and bull story” derives from Stony Stratford – a nearby town almost central between London, Birmingham, Cambridge and Oxford – which has two coaching inns, The Cock and The Bull, who tried to outdo each other with exciting travelling tales. 
  • Murphy’s Law” hails from an old Air Force engineer called Edward Murphy who, as part of his investigations into airline accidents, highlighted all the obvious mistakes made which the project manager at the time coined as Murphy’s Laws