The feedback I receive on these weeknotes is generally something like “I’m enjoying your weekly posts Mark – no idea how you find the time?”. The answer is that 1) I work a 4-day week; and 2) I stay up far too late at night. I also write them in bits, as the week progresses. This week has been a bit of a rollercoaster though, with a few unexpected changes of direction, and consequently quite a few re-writes.
This week at work
I had planned to take an extra day off this week which looked like it was going to squeeze things a bit. That all changed mid-week, which gave me a bit more time to move things forward. These were the highlights:
- Making a couple of introductions from last week’s AWS re:Invent re:Cap event.
- Supporting a call-out day in Derby with one of our sales teams focusing on two potential client journeys through several Node4 services: Protected Internet and Protected Data.
- Drafting more data sheets to refresh the Node4 public cloud portfolio.
- Starting to populate the information for this year’s G-Cloud submission (G-Cloud 14).
- Nudging forward the new service that I’ve been working on, and which I’m itching to write about. A little teaser… it’s all to do with ransomware…
This week away from work
I was cycle coaching on Saturday, then dashed home as my youngest son, Ben, said he would be watching the rugby at home instead of with his mates. England vs. Wales is the most important Six Nations fixture in my family. My Dad was Welsh. He wasn’t big into sport, but, nevertheless I remember watching 15 men in red shirts running around with an oval ball with him. Nikki’s Dad was Welsh too. Even though we were both born in England, that makes our sons two-quarters Welsh. Cymru am byth! Sadly, the result didn’t quite go our way this year – though it was closer than I’d dared dream.
On Sunday, our eldest son, Matt was racing the Portsdown Classic. It’s the first road race of the season and there were some big names in there. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the result he wanted – finding he has the power but is still learning to race – but he did finish just ahead of Ed Clancey OBE, so that’s something to remember.
???? Loved being back in the saddle at the Portsdown Classic after a racing hiatus!— Ed Clancy OBE (@Ed_Clancy) February 12, 2024
Finished 45th – not bad, but a HUGE shoutout to organisers, sponsors, and fellow riders for making it unforgettable. ? #PortdownClassic @VeloUK @BritishConti pic.twitter.com/ACFucxCuHp
I’m just glad he avoided this (look carefully and Matt can be seen in white/blue on a grey bike with white decals on the wheels, very close to the verge on the left, just ahead of the crash)
The rest of the week
Our town, Olney, has celebrated Shrove Tuesday with a pancake race since 1445. It even features on the signs as you drive into town.
I didn’t see this year’s race as I was working in Derby. Then driving back along the motorway in torrential rain, in time for a family meal. We were supposed to be getting together before Matt flew out to Greece for 10 weeks, but those plans fell apart with 2 days before his outbound flight. Thankfully he’s sorted a plan B but I’m not writing about it until it actually happens!
For a couple of years I’ve struggled to ride with Matt without him finding it too easy (and actually getting cold). I miss my riding buddy, but it was good to hear him say he’d like to ride with me again if I can get back into shape. Right. That’s my chance. Whilst he is away it’s time to get back on Zwift and prepare for a summer on the real bike. I need to lose at least 20kgs too, but that’s going to take a while…
…which reminds me. I must find a way to pull all my information from the Zoe app before my subscription expires.
As last Sunday’s bike race was “only” around 75km, I didn’t have any roadside bottle-passing duties so I took “the big camera” (my Nikon D700 DSLR). Then, I got home and realised my digital photography workflow has stopped flowing. My Mac Mini has run out of disk space. My youngest son, Ben, now uses my MacBook for school. And my Windows PC didn’t want to talk to the D700 (until I swapped cables – so that must have been the issue). It took me a while, but I eventually managed to pull a few half-decent images out of the selection. You can see them below, under “this week in photos”. I love using the DSLR, but do wish it had the connectivity that makes a smartphone so much more convenient.
The Portsdown Classic was my first opportunity to take a hand-held radio to a race. I’d seen spectators using them at other National Races last year but I didn’t have the equipment. I’d asked someone what they used and considered getting a Baofeng UV-5R but didn’t actually get around to clicking “buy now”. Then Christian Payne (Documentally) gifted me a Quansheng UV-K5(8) at Milton Keynes Geek Night. A chat with a friendly NEG rider and a little bit of homework told me which frequencies British Cycling uses. It was fascinating to be able to listen to the race convoy radio, both when driving behind the convoy at the start of the race and then when spectating (at least when the race was within radio range).
Listening in on the action gave me a whole new perspective on the race. So much so that I’m considering completing the ConvoyCraft training to be able to drive an official event car…
I mentioned that Christian had gifted me a radio last December. That was on condition that I promised to take the exam for my RSGB Foundation Licence. Well, I took it this morning and passed. The results are provisional but, assuming all goes well and I get my licence from Ofcom, I’ll write another post about that journey into the world of RF and antennae…
Finally, I wrapped up the week by meeting up with my former colleague, manager, and long-time mentor, Mark Locke. I learned a lot from Mark in my days at ICL and Fujitsu (most notably when I was a wet-behind-the-ears Graduate Trainee in the “Workgroup Systems” consultancy unit we were a part of in the early days of Microsoft Exchange, Novell GroupWise and Lotus Notes; and later working for Mark on a major HMRC infrastructure project); he was the one who sponsored me into my first Office of the CITO role for David Smith, back in 2010; and we’ve remained friends for many years. It was lovely to catch up on each other’s news over a pint and a spot of lunch.
This week in TV/video
My wife and I started watching two new TV series this last week. Both are shaping up well, even if one is a rom-com (not normally my favourite genre):
- Trigger Point (series 2), ITV – high octane bomb disposal drama.
- One Day, Netflix – one couple, and their ongoing relationship, on the 15th July, for 20 years. (I’m working my way through the soundtrack too…)
This week in photos
#VeloMatt was racing the Portsdown Classic today – his first road race of the season, ahead of a couple of months' training overseas. Not the best result but some good stats – and I also accidentally snapped @alexdowsett. Ed Clancy and Alex from GCN were also in the race ???????????? pic.twitter.com/a4Jjfu5AxY— Mark Wilson (@markwilsonit) February 11, 2024
Elsewhere on the Internet
At least one good thing came out of the VMware-Broadcom situation:
Best bit of the conversation when I got home went like this:— J8y (@JoeBaguley) February 10, 2024
Amanda – “What the **** are you planning to do with that?”
Me – “What part of this looks like I had any kind of plan?” https://t.co/QDIRLT4zjI
The NCSC appears to have rebranded 2FA/MFA as 2SV:
hang on, when did we start calling 2FA "2SV"? It's probably more accurate, but if we use loads of different abbreviations (see also "MFA", multi-factor authentication) then it gets really difficult for actual humans not immersed in security jargon to follow. https://t.co/zs5voZA8S3— Kate (@katebevan) February 12, 2024
But this. This is a level of geekiness that I can totally get behind:
This is so geeky. I love it ? https://t.co/qkkVoiHy8r— nixCraft ? (@nixcraft) February 15, 2024
Even I have to accept that playing Snake on network switches is a little too niche though:
Someone was able to program Unify switch port LED’s to play snake. This would make switch installs a lot more fun. ? pic.twitter.com/561oFS4iq6— Kevin | Network Engineer (@AdjacentNode) February 14, 2024
Close to home
The river Great Ouse in Olney saw the biggest floods I can remember (for the second time this winter). The official figures suggest otherwise but they measure at the sluice – once the river bursts its banks (as it now does) the sluice is bypassed through the country park and across fields. The drone shots are pretty incredible.
This is a fantastic project. The pedant in me can almost forgive the errant apostrophe in the final frames of the video because the concept is so worthwhile:
We love this short film celebrating some of the cool ways Milton Keynes is reclaiming rooftops! From horticultural happenings to creative cultural events! #greenroofproject #growingfood #culture #horticultural #buildinggardensinthesky #lovemk pic.twitter.com/ue0jyZQD7G— GreenRoofProject (@GreenRoofMK) February 15, 2024
Transport for London decided to rename six formerly “Overground” lines, This is one of the more educational stories about it:
A lovely post on the naming of London Overground lines including tales of how some of the current @TfL map colours were arrived at and the significance of the new names (HT @lisariemers).— Mark Wilson (@markwilsonit) February 15, 2024
As one comment says, the Gospel Oak to Barking LINe will always be the GOBLIN though… https://t.co/wt9e0VjR9I
It’s not the first time naming these lines has been proposed:
How the Overground lines could have been named in 2015, had Boris not blocked it pic.twitter.com/f4OA24999A— diamond geezer (@diamondgeezer) February 15, 2024
But British Twitter stepped up to the mark and delivered its own commentary:
I have no issue with renaming Underground or Overground lines, but to miss out on calling one 'Wombling Free' is criminal negligence on the part of Transport for London. pic.twitter.com/a6izk9Px44— The Dobson Family and Colin the Dalek (@DobbersW) February 15, 2024
Or at least some of British Twitter. Those outside the gravitational pull of London were less bothered:
Things you notice when you live/work outside of london: nobody cares what colour the Tube lines are ????— Zoe Kleinman (@zsk) February 15, 2024
St Valentine’s Day
Every now and again, the social networks surface something really wholesome. This week I’ve picked three St Valentine’s Day posts. Firstly, from “the Poet Laureate of Twitter”, Brian Bilston:
For #ValentinesDay, here’s an old poem; as old as they get, in fact.— Brian Bilston (@brian_bilston) February 14, 2024
It’s considered to be the world’s oldest surviving love poem, written 1.5 million years ago by one of our earliest ancestors, homo unrequitus. pic.twitter.com/GtdoIyZl33
And then this lovely story (pun entirely intended) from Heather Self (click through for the whole thread of three posts):
So…my Valentine’s story is from a long time ago. Some teenage lads thought it would be a good prank to send me a card, ostensibly from H.— Heather Self (@hselftax) February 14, 2024
I liked H but wasn’t sure he liked me, so hoped the card was genuine.
This one just made me giggle:
The coming weekend will be a busy one. Ben is heading off to the West Country for a few days away with his friends. It’s also Nikki’s birthday… but I won’t spill the beans here about any plans because she has been known to read these posts. And then, hopefully, on Monday, Matt will finally get away to train in a sunnier climate for a while.
Next week is half term but with both the “boys” away it will be quiet. When they are at home, we have the normal chaos of a busy family with two sporty teenagers. When they are away it’s nice to enjoy some peace (and a slightly less messy house), but it sometimes feels just a little odd.
Right, time to hit publish. I have a birthday cake to bake…