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Notes from the Week #30

21 Sep 2019

weeknotes gds mental health java twitch

Today is the one-year anniversary of me starting to write up my weeknotes. Time flies.

In that time I’ve moved house, changed job, and gone through a bunch of other stuff.

Is it easy to do it every week? No - I’ve not done it for over a month.

Is it worth doing? I think so.

Photo by Rosie Fraser on Unsplash

I’m going to try and include a “what I’m looking forward to” section going forward, as a reminder that reflection on the past is good but the future is full of promise.


Here’s a non-exhaustive summary of what happened this week month.

  • I took a break from writing up week notes for my mental health. There’s quite a lot of Things going on in the world at the moment, which are draining to read about every single day. Also, despite having run a session on the pitfalls of the tech industry culture I’ve fallen into one of the many traps, namely “getting sad because I’m not doing enough”. I’m grateful to my partner, my friends, and the mental health network at GDS for being flashlights during this “dark night of the soul”.

  • I’m going to be the Tech Lead for our team next quarter! This is an exciting time for the Document Checking Service, and while I’m slightly nervous about taking on this new responsibility I’m going to be trying my best to enable the team to make the upcoming quarter a success.

  • We’re on the cusp of completing this stage of the AWS migration. Over the past 2 months we’ve been re-evaluating our working relationship with the Automate team who have been helping us migrate onto the GSP. I think we’re on the edge of finishing the end-to-end journey and we’ve learned a load about Kubernetes along the way.

  • We’re working more closely with the Automate team. It feels like we’ve hit our stride now that good communication lines have been put in, and we’re pairing much more. We’ve also started sitting together in the office which cuts out a lot of the communication problems in one go. I’m very grateful to the RE:Automate team for being open to changing our shared processes so we can achieve our shared goal more effectively.

  • We had the Verify summer party. There was food and “party games”, the highlight of which was me bringing shame to our team by losing at Jenga. Those same blocks are now sitting on our bank of desks as a constant monument to my disgrace and failure. Sweet.

  • I learned a lot about writing good documentation. We’re revamping the documentation for the Document Checking Service and it’s been a pleasure to learn about how to write better documentation. I’ve been working closely with one of the Tech Writers on our team, Claire, to ensure that our docs are clear to both old hands and new-comers. (Assumed knowledge is problematic).

  • I (hopefully) kicked off a conversation about Linked Data with Democracy Club. I opened up a pull-request against WhoCanIVoteFor, one of DC’s apps, with the intention of marking up the content to be discovered by search engines. In particular, leveraging standard data schemas for candidates (Person), elections (Event), polling stations (Location), and more. I had a brief chat with Steve Messer from GOV.UK about this, and he’s pointed me in some directions. I’m intrigued to see what comes from pulling on this thread.

  • I made a java library to calculate working days between dates. I don’t often take enough time to hone my “craft”, and I enjoy making small tightly-focused libraries so I thought I’d give this a shot. My aims were:

    • No dependencies: It uses only the standard library for non-test code.
    • Frequent small commits:
      • 50% of commits modify a single file, 90% modified two or fewer.
    • Simple API: WorkingDays only exposes three methods, each taking two parameters.

Here’s a non-exhaustive summary of what I’m looking forward to in the near future

  • Firebreak. We’re approaching the final stretch of this quarter and as such all the firebreak ideas are coming together. I’ve been not-so-secretly plotting with our Tech Architect to improve our documentation by eating our own dogfood drinking our own champagne, and going through the on-boarding process ourselves to make sure everything is covered.

  • Pumpkin-Spice Lattes. As my personal tradition dictates, I must have a least one (1) pumpkin-spice latte to usher in the season of Autumn. It’s my celebration of the tyranny of Summer being overthrown in favour of warm clothes, leaves crunching underfoot, hearty food, and Strictly Come Dancing back on the telly.

  • Twitch-streaming … maybe?. I’m noodling about with the idea of streaming myself doing some code katas on Twitch, experimenting with different techniques, styles - my personal Global Day of Code. I may or may not pluck up the actual courage to do this.

  • Terrace House 2019-2020: New series! If you’ve not seen it, imagine a slow TV version of Big Brother but there are no challenges or eliminations. Just relationships and people.