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Notes from the Week #32

17 Oct 2019

weeknotes gds

Last week was busier than the proverbial bee - lots of stuff to kick off, lots of establishing how we’re going to work, and we welcomed several new members to the DCS cabal team.

Photo by Eugene Triguba on Unsplash

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

  • We got ready for the first of our IT Health-checks. As part of the migration from a hosted datacentre to AWS, we submitted our staging environment to be tested to make sure we’ve properly transferred across the permissions and security model. We had a few pieces of work that needed to happen before this started, and the team (of course) pulled it off on time.

  • We decided how we work as a team. Ours is the largest single team in the Verify programme which is a dramatic shift from last quarter. The most contentious change was the switch-over from JIRA to Trello. I don’t really mind - my first observation is that the act of creating cards is easier in Trello than Jira, which I feel is a positive if we’re aiming towards a continuous flow of small pieces of work.

  • My first week as tech lead was intense af. I am aware that a lot of this is self-inflicted. I have a tendency to take my responsibilities a bit too seriously, and to get a bit obsessed with “not letting the team down” (even though, objectively, I’m not). Such is the nature of impostor syndrome, it’s that insidious little voice that makes you feel guilty for your achievements. Regardless, I got lots done, and I’m trying my best to talk about it openly. I want to start introducing the concepts of psychological safety to the team this quarter, and I need to walk-the-walk as well as talk-the-talk.

  • I gate-crashed a new social group. I manifested at a pub meetup for public digital heroes organised by stamanfar and dasbarrett (you know, from twitter). I had forgotten how completely emotionally exhausting it is to break into a group full of new people - there’s new mores, in-jokes, and other stuff that makes for a tricky cultural sargasso to navigate. A big thank you to jonodrew for being a bit of a touch-stone while I found my bearings. I really enjoyed the chats and meeting everyone, and I’ll likely try to come to one of these again in the future.

  • It was mental health awareness week! I was very aware of my mental health, mission accomplished. I donated some of my spare analog money in exchange for a shiny green MHA ribbon pin. I’m slowly racking up pins attached to my lanyard, soon people will be able to hear my coming by a distinct jangle-jangle from around my neck.

  • Democracy Club has deployed the first cut of Event data. I’ve been keeping an eye on how the structured data is being consumed by Google in their performance UI. Local elections are now appearing in event search! We’re racking up impressions and had our first click through yesterday. We’re hoping to use this as an in-roads to have a chat with teams at Google before the next general election, so potential electors can consume Democracy Club data straight from the search page.

The Gravesham local election shown in Google event search

  • I drafted a kata based on my java-working-days library. I thought that it might be a fun exercise to run as a kata or in a language-agnostic workshop. Implementing a way to count working days lends itself to incremental feature development: first case is counting all days, then weekends, then fixed date public holidays, then relative moving holidays. I read about about the International Fixed Calendar famously used at Kodak - it’s a calendar of 13 equally sized months and would reduce the calculation of n working days in the future from O(n) to O(1), because each date falls exactly on the same day every month / year.

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

  • Digital Service Standard training next week: I was nominated by my line manager for this - I’ll be learning how to assess whether a service meets the Digital Service Standard.

  • AGM of the APPG for Democratic Participation: Joe from Democracy Club ran this up the flagpole on the Slack - sounds like it’s going to be an interesting one, and I always love to learn more about our democratic machinery.