UnderBlog

Yes, this an old-fashioned messed-up blog of nonsense and misc. links. Yes, I am old enough to remember when Rebecca Blood wrote her book, and when Blogger was the place to be and when this kind of thing was the norm. Yes, well done for finding it.

This almost hidden blog is a mixture of odds and ends, some of which may find their way into proper posts. Most which won’t. Consider the whole thing wrapped in a spoiler tag, if that kind of thing matters to you.



Monday, 8 March, 2021

1:29 AM – A late night find – Terry Pratchett on fantasy as ur-literature

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1:34 AM – And another, on the theme of Maker’s Time, Manager’s Time

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Monday, 1 March, 2021

12:49 AM – A first try at a newsletter.

This will being out to intrepid bank of lovely testers in a little under 5 hours. I am going to bed.

Hi {{first_name}},
There is light at the end of the tunnel, and it seems (Unlike that described by Terry Pratchett) it’s sunshine and not a flamethrower illuminating our path. This is, for me, significant on a number of levels. It feels like we’ve turned a corner with Covid, and a return to some semblance of The Before Times is now in sight. It’s approaching year end which brings, a bitter-sweet goodbye to my current project, as well as being my 3rd anniversary with i3Works. Looking back at my journal entry for this from 2018, I was reminded how big a leap this was and how nervous I felt. It has, thankfully, turned out far better than I could have hoped.


Here then are 5 links of things I have found of interest this week. I hope they’re interesting to you as well,

  1. Would you like your teams to be healthier?. This article, by John Fitzpatrick (MOD’s Director of Digital Enablement, and all round good egg) is a really good idea for surfacing tension and checking in with a team. It’s easy for things like retrospectives to become all about the work and to forget the team. This is a great way to get the team thinking about the team, and to do so in a way that prevents the desires of the manager or scrum master to see everything going well from overriding what is actually happening. Especially important is the scene setting and importance of cameras for those not physically present.
  2. I’ve be musing and building on my thoughts on Consulting as Craft. This is growing from my work to build consulting skills with a great team of graduates and trainees, as well as musing on the fantastic introduction to the profession I was given at London Underground. To that end I’ve been trying to refine my definition of craft, and this article from the American Craft Council has many musings on the same topic. There’s also this, from the wonderful Code as Craft, by the software engineering team at Etsy.
  3. Those who know me know I have huge respect for Getting Things Done, the productivity system designed by David Allen. To the extent that I have probably bought and given away over 50 copies of the book. I recently came across a series of short hint videos by Next Action Associates, a UK-based firm of GTD consultants. This is particularly interesting for me, especially the point at the end about the importance of naming things properly. This vid is using it in the context of reference material, files and emails saved to be referred to later, but it’s as important for tasks & projects (In GTD) and for files, tags and especially email subject lines. Naming these things well is a courtesy to the recipient, who is often your future self.
  4. This amazing video is a treat for two reasons. Firstly, it explains an important principle about how a growth in a given population or series of events can lead to chaotic, unpredictable outcomes. This is especially important if you, like me, have been struggling to really understand the importance of the R number in Covid reporting. Secondly, it is a fantastic object lesson in explaining complicated and intimidating subject matter in a simple and engaging way. I’m far from comfortable with maths, but this was easy to follow and fascinating.
  5. As I go back over some of my goals and objectives I reminded of this thing I wrote a while back, that I’m quite proud of. I should do more of that.

And finally, I’ll leave you with a quote which has been burbling around in my brain for some time:

”In Martinique, I had visited rustic and neglected rum-distilleries where the equipment and the methods used had not changed since the eighteenth century. In Puerto Rico, on the other hand, in the factories of the company which enjoys a virtual monopoly over the whole of the sugar production, I was faced by a display of white enamel tanks and chromium piping. Yet the various kinds of Martinique rum, as I tasted them in front of ancient wooden vats thickly encrusted with waste matter, were mellow and scented, whereas those of Puerto Rico are coarse and harsh. We may suppose, then, that the subtlety of the Martinique rums is dependent on impurities the continuance of which is encouraged by the archaic method of production. To me, this contrast illustrates the paradox of civilisation: its charms are due essentially to the various residues it carries along with it, although this does not absolve us of the obligation to purify the stream. By being doubly in the right, we are admitting our mistake. We are right to be rational and to try to increase our production and so keep manufacturing costs down. But we are also right to cherish those very imperfections we are endeavouring to eliminate. Social life consists in destroying that which gives it its savour.”
— Claude Levi-Strauss, Tristes Tropiques.

Have a splendid week.

Tinkety tonk old fruits, and down with the Nazis,

— James