S09E09: Baby steps

The world turns, and what was dead is come alive, and the seawater in our blood sings a siren song

February is upon us, my loves, and spring lurks around the corner like a clown. What shall we talk about this week?

I’ve kicked off a piece of work with a crack team of colleagues to sort out another business case. I have two simmering away at the moment, and both are on generally the same theme: we need a big thing funded. The thing is big and and its value is therefore diffuse. Who then should pay for it? End users, or the people who pay for the end users, are reluctant to pay for it because they don’t really see the benefits.

But maybe the value of a big thing is sometimes that it’s a big thing. Sometimes a flag is more than a piece of cloth. Sometimes a glance is more than a chance of eye contact. Sometimes a nation is more than a shape traced on a map.

It’s a real struggle, so if anyone’s knows some exciting new ways of calculating value for business cases that’s not solely based on pennies spent or unspent but human connections made and problems averted – wave at me.

More small steps, this time in the direction of the service I’m building for the CS LGBT+ network. There have been quite significant changes since the last time I wrote to you, though none of them are obvious from the interface. This is – god, I know I say this every time, but that’s the joy of getting older and learning from the brilliant people around you, it’s always true – this is the best work I’ve ever done. It’s still not perfect. There are plenty of things I need to improve. Nonetheless I know what I’m doing, and what needs to be done next.

For example, here’s a tiny little feature, laid out sensibly with an approach. It’s not a giant plan with deadlines and so on, but it’s evidence that I can look at a feature and break it down and then engage with each step. Which is tiny stuff compared to my day job, but also the best way I can find of maintaining my enthusiasm and prove I’m still okay at writing code. Setting aside software to get into management is approximately as hard as giving up heroin, and it’s much harder on your pocket. With the same reasoning I’ve broken up a workout plan into two sessions a week and put them on our kanban at home. Small tasks that are easily achieved, or sometimes sweating like a warm cheese, gives me an enormous sense of wellbeing. Parklife.

In two weeks time I will be halfway through my loan. I’ve been applying to things again, to get a sense of what’s out there and also to get some feedback on where my experience pitches me. So far I’ve had:

  • a final interview for a role with an org that I’m dying to get, so I’m doing my best not to glance too hard at that particular hope in case it crumbles under the weight of my hopes
  • an approach from Palantir, which was flattering but also deeply disturbing, like your worst enemy telling you they admire you or your schoolmates declaring you most like to be a successful serial killer
  • An approach from various recruiters to do contracting, which – now that I’ve seen what we pay contractors – frankly looks deeply appealing
  • three applications which fell at the first hurdle. They were for the same grade as the first in the list, and with each rejection the weight of my expectations on that interview further threaten to overwhelm it
  • a good interview with a smart, forward-looking application where I’d be happy and stretched but nonetheless maybe not…fulfilled? More theraputic work needed there, I think.

That’s all for today friends. Take care, especially if you’ve got Covid

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