S07E10: You grow, we grow, together

We’ve been on hiatus for the pre-election period, but now we are back. We are back with stuff.

Work things: I’ve drafted an outline policy that I now need to take to people who care and people who’ll use it. These aren’t necessarily the same people, so that means giving the same presentation multiple times and gathering as much feedback as I can. This is the more interesting, crunchy bit – where the hopes and dreams of my idealistic policy meets the real world of the way things are and try to give it a push. I’m excited but not nervous – writing and speaking and redrafting are things I do extremely well, so I know I can do it. It’s not stretching, but it’s good to keep my hand in.

Other work things are:

  • convening a working group and making sure one of our key products continues to receive the water and food and light it needs to keep growing. It’s a totally novel challenge for me, because I’m not even close enough to the service to be able to extol its virtues based on my own knowledge. Nonetheless, representing it and talking it up helps make sure it’s at the forefront of colleagues’ minds
  • working out my objectives – I’m planning to run a little automation consultancy advice bureau for a few hours a week to support the organisation with little scripts and spreadsheet things. I think there’s huge amounts of money that could be saved by big digital services, but there’s lots of small bits of money that could be saved in thousands of places if we could make better use of – for example – python scripts to glue together hundreds of spreadsheets
  • applying for, and being unsuccessful at, promotion. One of my objectives this year is to get myself promoted, because what is life if not a continuous struggle to climb ever-upwards, fearing stagnation, fearing the realisation that this is the level one is happy at, that this is really all it’s going to be, fearing and desiring in equal measure the stability of the same job every day – anyway, I’ve still not managed to get promoted, but I’ve got some excellent feedback that will surely help me clamber to the next rung

I’m also writing some code to meet the following user story:

As a Twitter user, I want to be able to follow everyone on a list, so that I can see what they’re saying and get some cool insights.

It seems pretty simple – and to be honest the code is pretty simple, and I’ve been quite pleased with how easy it is to do this is AWS – but I am curious as to whether this could be used for evil. I can’t imagine how, but that’s not the same as “it can’t” – I lack experience in so many areas that I know there’s plenty I’m ignorant of. If you can think of a way that this software could be used for evil, even theoretical, please let me know.

I’m also trying to work out a formula for how long a queue would take to clear, given four variables. I feel like there’s a branch of math that could help me, so if you know what that branch is (and how far it is from the trunk), please get in touch. The problem is:

Given four variables a, b, c, and d where:

  • a is the number of requests a process can make on behalf of a single user per period
  • b is the number of requests a process can make in total per period
  • c is the number of requests generated per user
  • and d is the number of users

Can you form an expression using a, b, c, and d to determine how many periods a queue generated by d users (ie, a queue of length cd) would take to process? I believe entirely that there is such a formula out there, but I cannot get to it at all. Save me, math nerds!

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