Category: Weeknotes

Week 58 – 13/10/2019

This week someone left my new employers. The difference between how people left my previous employers was stark. There was cake and champagne in the office then almost everyone stopped work at 4pm and went off to the pub all lead by the MD. At my previous place it would so quiet when people left the office. Senior maangement would be invisible. Some of us would go the pub of course but it felt almost clandestine. A good indicator of culture quality if you ask me.

Week 7 done. Starting to understand the various metaphorical sausage machines. I have to redesign a couple of them. The main one being how we deal with requests for change to the software from both cusomters and employees. How that all ties into an outcome based roadmap (that I also need to create) is starting to consume my brain. Need to push past the analysis stage and actually make something.

I allowed some Instagram marketing to work on me this week. It was for Stewart Lee’s new book, March of the Lemmings. A collection of his columns on Brexit and a write up of his Content Provider show. The show write up is fantastic. A sort of directors commentary in text format that is jarring to read and follow on the page but that is brilliant insight to the process of it being created. Would love to have an extra layer which covered more on it being written and evolving. I do love the idea of working out loud…not so good at actually doing it.

Week 57 – 06/10/2019

It has been a very good week. My brain feels erm….awake, for the first time in a long time. Not sure what has caused this but I think it is the challenge of a new industry, a supportive company that is looking for me to bring positive change and good people encouraging learning and change. I have loads of things fizzing around in my head and just need to get some structure around it all.

Useful brain food was consumed at the 8th edition of the Northern User Experience conference on Friday in Manchester. It was brilliant. Such a great line up of speakers and three of the talks were exactly what I needed to help me sort out those previously mentioned things fizzing round my head.

The other good thing about NUX was that it also gave me some inspiration for our little Product event in Sheffield. We confirmed the date for our second Product Tank Sheffield. The event is on the 21st of November which gives us a few weeks to confirm some speakers. Looking forward to all that comes with organising and running these things.

Ran to work for the first time. A semi successful attempt on Monday, I had to stop and walk for five mins after over 7k, then a full run of the route on Thursday. 9.2km in total. Managed to not record it correctly on Strava but thankfully the surveillance capitalism masters at Google had me covered with Google Fit. 59 minutes it took which is pretty slow but still very happy I have done it. To keep me on the running path I also signed up for the Percy Pud again this year. A famed 10k run in Sheffield that gifts the runners a Xmas Pud, complete with a packet of custard. I ran it in 59 mins last year. I would like to go a bit faster this year. I think 58 mins should be achievable. Marginal gains and all that.

Our cancelled holiday to Morocco and subsequent refund (thankfully) meant we had a bit of spare cash and a decision to make about what to spend it on. Kids were not that fussed about going on holiday and the prices had all sky rocketed anyway. So we bought a small car instead. A 7 year old Kia Piccanto to have as our second car. It is a pretty nice little thing and should make our lives a little easier as the ferrying round of two children gets ever more complicated as they get older.

Watched You were never really here starring Joaquin Phoenix. Best film I have seen in a quite a while. Has a dirty oppressive feel to it and is very sparse both in dialogue and detail with lots of scenes only showing the bare minimum needed. I then watched Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy straight after which had a very similar feel and it made me remember how much I loved that first time round at the cinema. It seems I like feeling oppressed…maybe it wakes my brain up.

Week 56 – 29/09/2019

Went to a UX strategy event hosted by Bunnyfoot. The design team form my previous employer were all there even though they all now work at different places. There was also someone there we had hired but had to let go before they got in the door. I also recommended someone purely based on their Twitter avatar which is a first for a long time. The actual event content was also good. Very useful as I try to build design capability at my newish place of employment.

Caught up with lots of other ex colleagues at U at other events this week. Made me realise even more so what a special place it was.

Wednesday had drawn Everton in the League Cup and my MD is an Everton fan so he treated the Wednesday fans to a bit of corporate hospitality. Wednesday but out a weakened team and were punished for it in the first ten minutes with two terrible defended goals. After that though if we had a few better players on the park we could have done some damage. Good night out, below average match.

Went to see a gig for a band I had never heard of. It was great. Red Rum Club from Liverpool. Excellent smily front man and a nerdy trumpet player helped keep a decent crowd jumping.

We were slightly caught up in the Thomas Cook collapse. We had a trip booked for half term to Marrakech alas no more. We should get our money back though and we still have jobs so can’t complain too much at all.

My amazing wife having a very tough time at work. Hate to see her stressed and I recognise the symptoms far better in others because I clearly have suffered from them in the past and seeing her behaviour made me realise how long I was stressed. Thankfully she has overcome it like the amazing person she is.

Shoulder issue came back. Felt fat, fragile and old. Wanted to run to work but not enough to actually attempt it. Loser. I have booked an appointment with my GP to get it looked at but not until the 24th of October. Brexit Britain etc.

Finished watching Euphoria which I enjoyed. Very different. Smart representation of drugs. Not obvious endings or easy ways out. Also watched Rocketman which was not what we expected and was fairly average. Pretty rubbish representation of drugs.

Week 55 – 22/09/2019

Nipped across to Manchester on Monday evening for the NUX event. A great presentation by Katherine Wastell and Louise Nicholas from Co-op Digital on service mapping for communication. Really good indeed.

Work continues to be enjoyable. Loving learning something new again. No experience of the sector to fall back on so forcing me to learn more about quality and the customers we serve, which is obviously a good thing. It is also forcing me to firm up my knowledge of theory around design and product (as we have no designers and I am the only so called product person). I am liking this a lot.

Started reading Mr Mercedes by Stephen King. First of a trilogy that I have just discovered is a TV show too. Now I need to be disciplined about reading the books first.

My return to reading has not come without problems. Been using to my Kindle and reading in bed laid on my side. I have this week also had a weird should injury that I am not sure how it happened but it might be book related?! What a flimsy old weakling.

Took my youngest for his third visit to Hillsborough. Beautiful sunny day, with a couple of beautiful pints in a beer garden beforehand. Not the greatest of games but a last minute diving header made it worthwhile.

Week 54 – 15/09/19

The highlight of the week was last Thursday when the ProductTank Sheffield event I had been involved in organising with Rob and Tom finally happened. It went really well. Around 40 people turned up, including both our speakers which was a massive bonus. Naomi Turner from MOJ Digital was fantastic on the challenge of designing whole services for prisons, prisoners and their staff. How broad and complete do you go? Do you solve only what you can? Such an emotive and fascinating subject. Dan Merriman of the Raspberry Pi Foundation told a tale of a day off from work but his frame of mind constantly being stuck in a product mindset which has pros and cons. More good ways of thinking.

We were very relieved when all went well. We got a very diverse audience which we were so happy about (as we are three white middle aged white men organising another conference but we got lots of great feedback including this which made us all feel very proud.

We can’t wait to do the next one. November hopefully. Wanna come and speak?

Week 3 at Qualsys and more is starting to fall into place. Where I want to focus and the things that I think need fixing first, which feels a little arrogant to say but what did they hire me for if it is was not to make things better? There is a tight deadline for delivery of a first build of the new software. I am not sure that everything that needs doing is fully known and certainly not well enough defined and maybe designed but then again it might just be that I can’t get a feel for all the work as I have no experience of ‘how things work round here’ quite yet. I will be starting to get more involved next week and trying to be a little more ‘leadery’. We will see how that goes. I don’t want to get in the way but I don’t want what feel like obvious things to be missed or half baked. Pretty sure it will all be fine as everyone there is very talented and knowledgeable.

I finished an excellent, and very different kind from my usual fodder, book called Educate by Tara Westover. A memoir about her life growing up in rural Idaho, being home schooled, forbidden to see doctors or take any medicines other than ‘God’s herbs’ and how her life shaped her and how she fought to be free. I did not even realise it was a true story when I begin reading it but I was so relieved when it turned out to be true as it made it all the more amazing. The parts where the author finally start to realise who she was and who she could be and that she did not have to be trapped by the psychological torment of her family had me hooked and I read the last quarter of the book in a late night 3 hour sitting.

I watched the absolutely batshit John Wick 3. Ludicrous ultra violence that all felt a little slow motion but then again Keanu is in his 50s now and it should be a little slower. Will definitely watch Episode 4 when it comes out in two years time and Keanu is even nearer to his 60s. Still trying to fix everything but slightly slower.