Mark Boulton

Weeknotes 15

  • In Heidelberg all week for work. I know it’s Swiss trains that always run on time. I thought that about German trains until I made this journey every month. Mostly they are delayed. On Sunday last week my journey was 14 hours door to door. I can get to New York faster.
  • I watched IT: Chapter Two. Entertaining. Terrible ending, but that’s like the book. I think the whole thing was lacking the charm of the 1990 TV version though. What the film needed was that dose of nostalgia sprinkled through both chapters.
  • Talking of films, I also watched The Laundromat. Really good. But not comparable to The Big Short. There was plenty of breaking the fourth wall, but it was more stylised and the characters were superficial. Still, entertaining, though.
  • I had every intention of breaking ground on my typography side project this week. It's been literally years in the gestation. It didn’t happen. Maybe next week. I do know I need a creative outlet alongside everything else I have going on, and soon. Since when did design become so much about project and team management?
  • The next few months work will be interesting as we finally have the green light to start delivery. A mix of familiar and unfamiliar as I acquaint myself with things like Risk Registers. Ah, institutions. I could be cynical about it. In the web industry, we’ve dispelled many traditional project management methods and artefacts as we’ve embraced agile ways of working. However, risks do exist in any project. Capturing ‘what could possibly stop us delivering?’, and then tracking that closely – especially if you work with distributed teams, devolved responsibility, and layers of technical debt – is a pretty useful thing to do whatever you want to call it. One question looms large in my head, though: how do we know what we don’t know?
  • Today in work saw the rise again of a long forgotten tool in my design arsenal: the Page Description Diagram. The problem was this: we need to turn sketches into things we can use to describe the content (or write it), the functionality, data sources, meta data and content owner. And they need to be distributed across the organisation for input and collaboration. We could make a prototype, sure. But is it quicker than a bunch of documents? No. Also, sometimes, there is value in abstraction. I’d rather not have a discussion about a colour or the interaction of a particular component, when I need content or meta data. So we’re doing this. It feels a bit backwards, but honestly, I think that’s sometimes the value of having a lot of experience; the willingness to use something from a decade ago because you know it will work in this particular organisation at this particular time.
  • My leg injury persists. I’m managing it, just. It’s not bad enough for total rest. But not better enough to really start putting pressure on it, it seems. More time required. And this weekend will be the test when I get back to the training of levels a few weeks ago.
  • Everyone is either sick, recovering from being sick, or started being sick. People in the airport, on the train, kids, wife, team, colleagues. This doesn’t bode well for my current headache and runny nose.
  • Read another book this week. I find pivot whiplash in projects challenging. And there is a lot of change coming down the pipe at work, so I thought reading it might help. I can't remember exactly where I saw the recommendation but I've a feeling it was from Relly's Instagram feed. Anyway, it’s good.
  • My parents are down this weekend. I’m planning nothing more than cycling training, running the children around, and cooking. That’s it.