Who knows what happend this week as my weeknote habit is getting a little weak. Lots of staying at home with the family. Work happened. People kindly brought us food. We had a video conference games night. Finished Mr Merceds. Pretty good but strays from the book quite a bit I suspect for beudget reasons. Weird week.
Weird start to the week. It felt like it would be the last visit to the office for a while and I only really went in as it was the start of sprint. Official announcement from the Prime Minister at 5pm meant our office was pretty much closed from then on.
Enjoyed working from home Tuesday as it gave me much more time to think. Fewer meetings. Plus we have just got through a tricky deadline and now we have a bit of breathing space.
I did a remote standup on Thursday that went ok. We recorded it too on MS teams but it failed to record the screenshare so the recording is just lots of bored faces in their houses. Makes a change from a lot of bored faces in the office 😉
Working from home was going well then my son got ill early hours of Wednesday morning. A high tempearature and a hacking cough that sounded croup like. We feared the worse and as my wife is a nurse and was due to work that day but we had to self isolate for 14 days. Been at hime ever since. Our friends have been very kind and helped us with bits of food. We also had a few paracetomol deliveries. We managed to get out in the garden over the weekend which was our first real taste of fresh air and it felt good.
Started watching Mr Mercedes (and lots of other things) which is bsaed on the Stephen King novels. Not too bad, Brendan Gleeson good as the grizzled retried out of shape cop. Brutal start to the series and some pretty dark bits in between. Which could be a metaphor for other things happening.
Ran to work after a weekend in Amsterdam. It was difficult.
Another customer visit. Love them. Totally changed the way we saw a product which we had decided to take in a certain direction. The challenge of designing something flexible to use is ever flexible and shifting.
Mentally checked out of the Half Marathon traiinng as the virus took hold. Surely it will be cancelled when mass gatherings inevtiably get banned. Rumours it will be rearranged to September to coincide with the Sheffield 10k.
My son feel over at school. Quite a bad fall and he hurt his arm and knee. Touch and go on the day whether to take him to hospital and we decided against it. Next day at school he got sent home and we went to the Children’s hospital. 3 hours waiting and one X-Ray later and it turns out he has a greentwig fracture of his wrist. We are bad parents.
Polished off series two of the ominously titled ‘The end of the fucking world’. It is a good watch but at times it feels a little like a dram in the middle of a music video. Such a great soundtrack. It also reminded me I only get ‘new’ music from TV and films now it seems.
Killed all the Valkyries in God of War. Tough. Made me swear a lot and the final one I had to switch to easy mode to complete. Excellent game but after the main story the valkyries, and two other worlds felt a bit grindy and rushed. Would have been better to weave some of them into the story more but this is a minor gripe about one of the best games I have played in a long time.
Finally watched Rise of Skywalker. It was pretty average. Better than the last one. The beginning throws a hell of a lot of story at you with little explanation just a lot of fast cuts. Made it feel like a really forced plot. Macguffins everywhere. Made me feel nothing in the end. The Mandalorian was much better. Star Wars Rebels better again. I will guess the new Clone Wars animated series probably better. It seems the Star Wars future is TV based.
Virus getting real now.
Finishing this about 3 weeks late. Feel out of the habit but going to try and get back in.
A short week at work as my wife and I went off for a Wedding Anniversary trip to Amsterdam. 3 days and nights child free.
A great trip. Went to a few areas I had never been before. De Pijp, Jordaan, NDSM etc. It is such a great city. Weirdly some of the highlights were bird watching…which we certainly did not go for. Parakeets and Egyptian Geese in Sarphati Park, Heron’s in abundance at the Albert Cuyp fish market and we even spotted a Grebe on the river.
Lots of good food and drink too. Lovely time.
Went to see another customer for discovery work. Pharma company with a vast campus with over 4,000 employees. The customer showed amazing levels of advocacy for the software. The amount of personal engagement in the product it great to see but does give me a little concern. I feel it is due to the amount of effort involved to get the value from the system, as well as how much it helps day to day obviously, and I worry about the loss of mastery when people move to the new version. My concern is where we may have made things previously only they understood by them more understandable by others, clearly a win for most users but a potential threat to our biggest advocates. A good problem to have but a potential problem none the less.
Started designing a design process. We don’t really have one. I want to get more user centric and all that good stuff. Need to get a bit of buy in as it feels like a bit of a lone effort at the moment and I need it to be a team one. The fact it came out so strongly of our retro shows it is the right thing to do but making it happen another thing.
We held our third ProductTank event. It was hosted by my employers on one of the floors of our shared office building in Aizlewood’s Mill. I was very stressed getting things ready for some reason, I got back from the aforementioned customer visit at 5, event started at six. it felt like having a party at home and you are always on as the host not relaxing. Speakers were all really good and carried the event as we felt a bit disorganised. These are probably things only I worry about and the feedback suggests everyone had a good time. Other things that stressed me, I asked a question of one of the speakers and then started worrying about something else that needed doing for the next speaker. Speaker called me out for not listening…ironically when they were talking about active listening. I also spoke over another speaker when they were asked to explain their bacjground, I was trying to pay them a massive compliment but it felt like a mistake. Felt very anxious the day after. Maybe I shoiuld have drunk more before/after to chill out. Did I say the speakers were all brilliant? I learnt loads and not just about being a worrying dick.
In less stressful news running went well this week and for the whole of February. Wednesday run was really hard and I felt like I had gone backwards a bit as I had lost pace. Saturday though I managed a half marathon and a pretty hilly one at that. Managed to run 140k in february with over 1500m of climb. My most ever in a month both distance and climb. Pretty proud of that.
Finished the story mode on God of War. Excellent story. Great game. Now finishing off side quests and the very difficult battles with Valkyries. Kind of don’t want it to end but also hankering for a new gaming experience preferably not involving lots of axe based murder with sprinklings of father son bonding.
Still feel like I am shying away from writing what I want. Just cursory notes. No feeling. No humour. This may reflect my life. I have these whines every so often then do sod all about it. Story of my life I guess…so here is my first attempt to add a bit more structure that might me to force about them differently. Also want these things to change some other behaviours or be a record of trying to do that. So here are my new weekly questions…are these right for me? Are they sustainable? We will see
What did I learn/practice this week?
The half marathon was a very much about setting myself a goal, run a half marathon by the end of February, and then preparing for it, no beer on Friday for one. Then a lot of positive mental attitide, not my strong suit, and telling myself to keep going. A lesson in here somewhere.
I want to apply this kind of goal and focus to work so that will be next weeks challenge..although I have a short working week next week. Always with the excuses
What made me happy/proud this week?
The running obviously. My son also did some great work at school where he just got and created a project without any real assistance. We did not even know about it where as lots of other parents seem to have been working on the project at home. The fact he ot to choose what genuinely interested him seems to have helped him greatly.
What/Who inspired me this week?
My wife applied for a role that might be beyond her current skills but she just cracked on and did it. Very impressive.
Let’s see how they focus my mind. Still not sure they will make them funnier than Alice’s and maybe that is what I want really. To make myself laugh.
Went to see another customer. Doing some discovery for the next part of our product build. Can’t beat a day with real people understanding how they use and our software and the unmet needs they have.
Following the dead end scenario mentioned in week 75 we had the first ‘proper’ retro since I have been at Qualsys. I was keen for more people to be heard. For unsaid things to be said and for us to move forward and improve. The session went well and the key topics that came out were great. Now to take the improvements identified and make them happen as a team.
Failed running up the full half marathon hill again partly due to high winds but partially due to four pints the night before.
God of War has got me very addicted. Keep sneaking play time at every opportunity.
Kids away for four days which was great. Managed only one night out though but still four days of natural waking is fantastic.
Went to see a manufacturing customer in West Yorkshire. They make carpets and fibre fillings in a massive factory with machines old and new and it was brilliant. Would make a fantastic setting for a zombie movie or a first person shooter.
Spent some time interviewing a very experienced auditor. We are building a new version of our auditing module and we are trying to understand where the software fits into the audit process. Most auditors are heavily pen and paper users while they work. Can’t force people to be digital without some real value to make the shift, as well as equipment to use. Or how do you make the act of transcript after the fact easier?
The sprint that seemed over full got last week got mostly complete with a few exceptions. We have a ‘proper’ retro on Wednesday to look into the cause of those issues and a few other things.
Went to see SWFC be crap again. Put me in a very bad mood mainly becuase my son has still not seen them win yet. The manager cannot have much time left. Having a season ticket is not good for my blood pressure either.
Finished Arkham Knight on the PS4. Started God of War which to took a while to get into. Kept dying a lot. The switch to muscle memory of new controls in a game after palying something else for 30 hours or so. The moment a game grips you is great though. As you start to master the controls and the way your skills develope in the game are great. Something there to learn for product design.
Watched Whitehouse Farm and Dead Winter fell. Ok but just a bit bland. Obvious. Tough crowd.
Failed full half marathon hill. 5.2k all climb (after have already run 6.5k. Blame storm Dennis.
Children despatched to the in laws on Sunday evening for a few days of half term. Snuck out for a rare Sunday evening tea out.
I have a note above where I write these notes to add some headings like Matt Edgar’s weeknotes. It has been there a few months. One day maybe I won’t scroll past it. But not today.
We reached a bit of a hard deadline scnario at work. Ended up with a sprint with way too much in to complete to try and hit that deadline. These crunches are good and bad. Good becuase the reality of the amount of work needed to meet a deadline force you to look at what could be improved, bad because you realise maybe things are not being managed realistically and you are not really doing agile but just pretending. Going to do an indepth retro to look into how we can improve (we might have been skimping too much on the team improvement aspects as well). Feels like it could open a few cans of worms but that candour is needed for us to improve and grow.
Went to the MTPEngage conference in Manchester. Part of the global Mind The Product bunch of conferences and it was very good to go to a big conference in the North. Met a few people who had travelled from outside the country to visit so proves that not everything has to be in London. The conference itself was also very good. A couple of really great talks that were just perfect for areas I am focused on now.
Rachel Shah a delivery manager from the Co-Op talked about the challenges of team building on a new project. Some very useful tips in light of the above. Thor Mitchell was excellent on humility being one of the most important aspects of a product manager. Clearly I am very humble so I must be a great product manager. John Cutler, who I am a bit of a fanboy of, was great but had a bit of a rambling start but grew into his talk and you can see a real intellect at work. He was talking about the importance of avoiding being too rigid in your frameworks and processes and that it takes time to make change happen. Practice, practice, practice, experiment, measure etc. He did say don’t be rigid on processes but also pitched the popcorn flow process. I ate it up. Good conference.
Six year old learned how to solve the 2×2 rubiks cube which felt good. I am still struggling to remember those algorithms to be honest.
Went to see Stewart Lee who was excellent as always. Amazing to see such a professional at the height of his powers.
Watched The Act. Very good show. Patricia Arquette is horribly brilliant as the overbearing mum. Joey King even better as the abused Gypsy Lee.
After last weeks note about feeling old I should rejoice in what I have acheived this month.
- I managed to run 103km with about 675m of that climb (which sounds very little if you think of it as a percentage but it certainly felt a lot dragging 17 stone plus up those hills).
- I managed to decrease my commute run time from 6.26 mins/seconds per KM over 9.2k down to a PB of 5.49 per km on the last Thursday of the month.
- I went from having to stop afer 7k on my first run in January to managing to complete a 14k run 3 weeks later.
- I managed to lose 13lbs in weight, which is a slightly annoying amount, being 1lb shy of a stone but still a good loss.
- I did want to exercise everyday of the month but a messed up shoulder put paid to that. I did still exercise on 22 days in January with a 17 day streak.
A good start to half marathon preparations. Not too bad for a fat lad who is fast approaching 44.
Next product tank event announced. February 27th and it will be hosted at my place of work. Slightly more nerve racking than usual for some reason.
Went to RSPB Old Moor with my eldest who has started to get interested in taking photos of wildlife. It was a very cold and windy day and we did not see too much of interest but it was a good experience and as it is difficult to get him into new things we will definitely go again.
Finished watching Unbelieveable. A truish story about a serial rapist in the US and a pair of female detectives that caught him. Good telly.
Felt very old this week.
Hips hurting after running. Took some fish oil vitamin type things like an old person.
Fell like an old person on a slightly icy road. Landed heavily on my hip and elbow, swore quite badly as I fell in front of a school mum and her five year old child like a grumpy old bastard.
Hips hurting even more while running after my fall.
I got this Instagram advert.
Been listening to music from the 90s back when I was young. I have listened to no new music in so long. Like an old man stuck in a time period when he felt young.
Got asked if I wanted to play five a side. Said it was a risk as I might get injured before the half marathon because I am old and clumsy.
Went to bed early on Wednesday and slept for 8.5 hours straight for the first time in a long time and enjoyed it like an old person. Had a Sunday afternoon nap which was another highlight of the week.
Very wary when playing computer games. Slow. Dulled reactions. Old. Stuck on a level of Arkham Knight that is too hard/too annoying for me. Gave up and started God of War instead. I hae already died several times in the first 30 minutes.
Managed to scare my six year old by letting him watch me play Arkham Knight (which had been mainly fine) when a spooky Joker sequence kicked off and made him struggle to sleep for two nights. I forget how young he is becuase I am old and stupid.
On Saturday night my shoulder seized up after a long run and then a lazy period of time lounging on the sofa leaning on said shoulder. Maybe my old body is telling me to stop trying being fitter.
In two months I will be 44.