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Notes from the Week #31

05 Oct 2019

weeknotes gds dcs java linked data

As the cruel grasp of Summer is at last overthrown and we draw into the cool embrace and long nights of Autumn, it was inevitable that I (and seemingly everyone else) caught a cold. Woohoo.

Photo by Eric Witsoe on Unsplash

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

  • We published the DCS pilot Expression of Interest. The day has arrived! This is the first time that I’ve seen something that I’ve directly contributed to go up on GOV.UK, and it’s a pleasant if slightly weird feeling. A big thumbs-up to everyone who made this happen - developers, content designers, technical writers, and our policy and engagement people. I’m excited to see what comes out of it.

  • We published technical documentation for our service. As part of the EOI above, we made our technical documentation public as a web-page and open-source code. This is the culmination of several weeks of writing, editing, combing over details, and making sure it’s as correct as possible. I really enjoyed contributing to this and having to write a detailed explanation solidified a lot of the concepts that I was a bit unsure of previously. As someone wiser than I once said (probably), “You don’t know it until you can teach it.”

  • We spiked some client libraries for the Document Checking Service. Last week was Firebreak, the week between quarters where we work on passion projects, test implementations, and other stuff. A small group of us, a mix of Verify and TechOps people, wanted to validate the technical documentation for our EOI by going through part of the on-boarding process ourselves, and flex our empathy muscles for the consumers of our documentation. We ended up with end-to-end working clients in Java and Python, which highlighted some things in our docs that could be a bit clearer. All in all, a successful Firebreak, I feel!

  • I attended the GDS All Staff off-site. This was the Monday afternoon and I enjoyed the format (several <30m talks with breaks rather than long presos). The stand-out lightning talk for me was on “How much CO2 does GDS produce?”, which got me thinking about our responsibilities as consumers of cloud services. If people moved their services to AWS regions that were powered by renewables, this would be a “market signal” that there’s value in less environmentally harmful sources of cloud computing.

  • I got to know the Delivery Manager and Product Manager for our team next quarter. My partners in crime, as it were. Given everything going on with the final stages of the migration to AWS, the Document Checking Service pilot, and daring to dream about what the future incarnation of the DCS might look like, this is shaping up to be an exciting quarter!

  • I added some more stuff to my linked-data PR for Democracy Club. I had a brief chat with Sym on Slack, who was broadly in favour of the approach. I figured that a decent first cut to test out the value proposition would be:

    • Mark up candidates as a Person who worksFor an Organization which represents their party
    • Mark up elections as an Event. I ran the spike through the rich-data snippets tool that Google provided - I’m hoping that when someone searches for something like Cardiff local election then they’ll render our Event snippet.

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

  • Not being ill. Soon, please.

  • Renewing my GPG key so I can publish to Maven Central again: It’s been too long, my current one has expired, and I want to publish my working days calculator library.

  • Being tech lead: While nervous, I am also excited - there’s a lot of damage good I can do, I think, and I look forward to working with the rest of the team to make next quarter a success.

  • NaBloPoMo. I’m a glutton for punishment, so I’m going to (try to!!) write a blog post every day for the month of November. Do I have enough cool stuff to write about? Not a clue. Am I going to do it anyway? Heck yeah!

  • The War of the Worlds: So apparently BBC are doing an adaptation of the famous book? It looks sweet from the trailer. My main memory associated with the War of the Worlds is that “The Eve of the War” from Jeff Wayne’s musical adaptation was one of the handful of ‘novelty’ songs that was occasionally played at Crash, my uni’s rock night. No problem with this, because it’s an absolute banger.