Weeknote 2020-14

This post was originally written on my Coil site, which is currently my main blogging platform. On there you will also see bonus content if you are a Coil subscriber.


So, I have my 'office' sorted out now. One side effect of the lockdown is that all the recycling centres are closed, as are the charity shops. And no-one is able to collect anything you sell on Gumtree, etc. So hence, as you might see in the header pic, I have a mattress still in my 'office'. I have dismantled the bed, but no way to get rid of the mattress at the moment!

Covid-19 continues, and we are all working from home still. Things seems to be getting into a bit of a routine in our house. My daughter is getting into home schooling. One advantage is she can dye her hair (not allowed at school). And so she currently has one magenta streak and one blue streak... looks like a mini Harley Quinn.

As you can see in the photo, I've managed to dig my Bose speakers out. They've been packed away in the garage for the past 3 years as I've not had a home office. I forgot how good music played on decent speakers sounds. Now 'decent' is always relative, but I don't have a hi-fi setup at home at the moment. And these powered, built-in amp speakers actually work pretty well. I have a big pair of Eltax floor standers in the garage, but no space to put them right now.

Also, I dug out from my garage my whiteboard. Again, not used this for about 3 years, since I had my own office. I used to work for enquos, a 'quantified self' company. We were building an amazing app for tracking all aspect of yourself, excercise, daily activity, nutrition, mood, etc. all in one place. I still had attached to the whiteboard some of the "personas" we created during an early development sprint in Berlin.

These "personas" were fictional users we created. We had about ten in total, and we used them to help drive the development of the product and reference who would be using which features and how. Bit of a throwback!

Oh, and also there was this...

My daughter was 6 at the time and in my office during school holidays. She would often come and spend the day with me and do some colouring or artwork. This time though she wasn't as happy!

Feel: Down, grumpy because Daddy isn't listening to me over and over again

Well she forgave me it seems. Now we are on lockdown, it reminds me of that time she used to come play in my office.

She would spend a lot of time bouncing on the sofa, dancing. You can see some of the personas behind her, and a combination of network diagrams (me) and Merida from Brave (her).

First Online Meetup

Our team held it's first online meetup this week. It was a workshop on GeoPandas, a python library for working with geospatial data (e.g. maps and the likes).

The workshop was run by my two colleagues, Yamini and Margriet using Webex. I was online helping people out in the chat session with any problems they had following along. Overall it went amazingly well. The number of attendees was far more than we imagined, and the number of people that stayed the whole way through was above what we expected. It is one thing running an event "in person" after work with drinks and food and networking, but another thing running it in in the evening when people are at home and other time pressures.

The workshop itself is all online in our Github repository if anyone else wants to do it. You will need to sign up for a free IBM Cloud account. Look out for more workshops coming up. I'm hoping to do one on machine learning soon.


I'm hoping to do my first Twitch session this week, I need to get a slot arranged, and will then announce a time. This has now likely to be even more a part of my role at the moment as my colleauge Sean who was also going to do it has now moved full time on to a volunteer project he is working on...

3D Printed Face Visors

Sean is working with a collective of UK people printing protective face masks for medical staff here in the UK:

And the project took off over the weekend...

So Sean has been allowed to move full time onto this endevour, which is fantastic. So I'm going to be taking over the role of co-ordinating the Twitch content that our team do. Which by allowing Sean to work on the masks at least gives me a feeling of helping out our front line workers.

Speaking of which, on Thursday we has a national applause for the UK medical staff working so hard at the moment. It was one of those things you see about and you wonder if anyone was going to actually do. And yet, at 8pm most of our street was out clapping for them. In the centre of cities this could be heard throughout the area:

The lockdown economy

I want to draw attention to a great local website someone has started here in Bristol, The Lockdown Economy site :

It lists a whole load of local, independent businesses (yes, Bristol is mainly beer and yoga!) who are all offering delivery services or remote offerings.

One of my favourite cafes, The Cauldron were one of the first to quickly adapt to the new situation and rebranded themselves the Cauldron Dispensary . Rather than being a walk-in cafe/restaurant then switched quickly to being a 'village stores' type place, offering food and supplies. Then when the lockdown came into effect they pivoted again to now offering deliveries of food and supplies. They sell 'provision boxes' with local grown veg from the farm nearby, local coffee from the roaster up the road, meat from the butchers next door. A way to support multiple businesses at once.

And one thing they now do... Sunday roast dinners! The "Sunday roast" is a British tradition, and they are supplying all the ingredients and everything you need to make sure you can still do a Sunday roast at the moment (many big supermarkets are out of stock of meat, for example).

IBM Call for Code

This deserves a blog post all of it's own, so stay tuned.

Take care all!

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