Week 8 of 2020 brings forming teams, agile delivery models, beardy tattoos, London tourism, series 2 of Make Life Work, more open-sourcery, disappointing apps and plenty classics remixed.
We formed a new team this week to work on an upcoming piece of work which I always find enjoyable, especially getting to know the individual personalities, strengths and quirks along with the team dynamics. As is tradition, we setup an initial Ways Of Working (WoW) session to understand the basics such as ideal workflow, team meetings and code quality. I typically try to inject some humour to keep the mood positive as well, suggesting the very important topics of team names and the first team lunch.
Looking at the bigger picture, we’ve also been brainstorming a “toolkit” to suggest best practices for all engineering teams. Early stages are encouraging and it will need plenty iteration with user testing but it’s quite satisfying (a) bouncing ideas around on a whiteboard with fellow agile enthusiasts focused on delivery and (b) finding common patterns that could scale appropriately. We’re also trying to practice what we preach by adopting the principles on the project itself. #meta
As my 40th birthday fast approaches, I’ve been thinking about some things I’d like to do “before I’m forty” (a blog post I’ve had in mind since turning 30!)
- A new tattoo covering up the tragic Chinese symbol on my upper arm from when I was 24; at least a half sleeve, but with something that should age better and mean more to me.
- The beard is growing thicker and longer each week, to the delight of my wife and son but not my daughter. I’m going for the “wise old man” look rather than hipster but that’s lost in translation with my general appearance.
- I’ve got a second-hand bass guitar on my wishlist in an attempt to learn it. I’d love to sit and play some classic (disco) riffs alongside the family piano and, oddly, my wife is quite encouraging.
This week, I ventured into The City for some much-needed exercise. There’s a run club at work I’ve been keen to try since starting the job. It turns out the current route takes us past Parliament, Big Ben (wrapped in scaffolding), Buckingham Palace and many other tourist traps which certainly make for a more enjoyable jog.
I also tried a cycle hire from Euston to the office on Friday morning, partly to save costs but also to test the estimated 20 minute journey. The first attempt definitely didn’t meet that expectation but, now I know the route and quirks of docking stations, it’s definitely worth another attempt in the near future. (Pro tip: it’s not the buses you need to watch out for but the seasoned cyclists who seem to think they own the cycle paths.)
Further practice for the Jurassic Coast Challenge in May has returned this week with a brisk Sunday morning 13km walk from Rugby back home. We do need to find a more enjoyable route or two though; it’s not the most relaxing scenery walking through industrial estates towards the motorway. MapMyWalk has surfaced a few crowd-sourced suggestions that circle around home so we’ll give them a go over coming weeks.
Make Life Work series 2 starts this week with Naomi White taking the limelight. Last week, I spent some time tidying up the edit, preparing a sponsorship message for Little Warden and sorting the updated artwork template out. The podcast itself also needed a bit of house-keeping including the removal of the full-stops from the name (to hopefully improve discoverability in search engines following some user feedback).
To support the series, I’ve also prepared some “Making Of” Youtube videos along with a suitable title sequence for all the episodes. Following the first attempt with no clearance from guests to use our video call footage, I’ve opted for approved avatars adopting the duo-tone colour palette for branding. Definitely an improvement and snappier too.
On The Side has been a little quiet this past week but we’ve also setup a Github project to host a simple landing page. At the moment, it’s simply a Github Pages site using the README but we’ll probably change it to a static HTML page to allow further customisations.
Finally, I’ve encourage my wife to get writing her novel by setting up a basic landing page along with the necessary socials. Very early days but it was a good chance to reserve the Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts and connect them with a Mailchimp newsletter “VIP” list to start building an audience. It’s amazing how many friends and family “like” your Facebook page when you ask nicely.
- Microsoft’s new Office app for iPhone looks promising as a centralised place to work with popular doc formats. Frustrating that it’s just iPhone to start with though (although I respect they’ve gone MLP on the roll-out)
- Santander’s Cycle Hire app for TfL is a waste of time. Registration failed with techy JSON error messages and I had no way to restore my account. Avoid at all costs and be careful with Contactless payments at the docking bays too which appears to have double-charged me.
- I was hoping YouTube Studio for iOS would give me some tools for making videos but it’s mostly for managing your content and meta data. Back to the drawing board to find a way of editing 6-8GB video files on a 32GB iPad…
- JustPark has come to the rescue though again, offering cheaper parking in London with a seamless user experience and friendly regular comms from the lady near Brent Cross when the family fancied a half-term day out this week.
Baghdad Central on All4 looks like a gritty drama based around the early days of Sadam Hussein’s fall in Irag circa 2003. It’s always fascinating to see it from another perspective too.
As the holiday/party season fast approaches, as does the amount of decent house music. It’s not all brand new though; 20th anniversary of Madison Avenue’s “Don’t Call Me Baby” has surfaced some cracking remixes from Mousse T. and Super Disco, Alan Fitzpatrick has brought Patrice Rushden up to date and Donna Allen has got reworked by Alaia & Gallo.
Mockery Manor is a great podcast recommended by Stephen Fry – it’s wonderful to see the technology used to share different art-forms and I love how we’re getting more fiction coming through from independent makers.
I visited a takeaway/restaurant near work called Tossed; tasty international food, keto friendly and also trying to encourage reusable containers – but plastic cutlery!?