Notes: 2 of 13. 2024

This is the second block of week notes. Read the first one here. I’ve been consistent in taking notes daily/weekly and I’m still finding the process rewarding. Writing up these summaries of four week blocks I’m reminded of the Bill Gates quote:

People overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years

Bill Gates

Sometimes the week can look a bit lightweight, especially when there are setbacks, hurdles to jump over or quiet spells of activity. Bundle four of them together to reflect back on and theres a significant volume of action.


Summary 5-8 weeks

It’s been another busy 28 days, light bit of exercise, heaps of self initiated project work, setting up Ops 1:1 sessions at work, installing black out blinds, a short holiday to Lisbon and possibly the best set I’ve ever been to from DJ Bone. We are 15.3% through the year.


Health & Exercise

15 sessions of UVB light treatment complete over 33 days, I’ve got at least another 51 days to reach the 12 week target and see if the skin is improving. I had one minor flare up across my eye lids again. Skin on my front seems much calmer in general.

3 spinning sessions, 1 was a HIIT (Michael Mosley style) which wiped me out for the rest of the day. 3 weights sessions, 1 was with Dan at the gym and it took over a week for my DOMS to fade, perhaps I strained my triceps.

Chris and I got out for lunch run, lovely pace and energy all the way round.

I didn’t lose any weight, it went up and down a bit. From looking back on last years data I was running so much and it shows what it takes to shift fat quicker. I need to start getting more exercise in.

There were a couple of bad vibe emotional days, my head was in a real funk and I didn’t know why. On the most part though, things have been breezy and fun.


Self Initiated

Efforts have been mostly infrastructure and content (migration and edits), but, I managed to hit my target of getting all my domains onto Gutenberg. Feels good to get everything live, running the same system and for that system to be fully no-code.

https://playground.lawrencebrown.eu/🟢Recreated a test area for experiments
https://archive2024.lawrencebrown.eu/🟢Moved previous version to archive
https://inventory.supplies/🟢No big changes this month
https://inventory.house/🟠Running GB, needs to define listing formats
https://inventory.design/🟠Running GB, needs content population
https://typographyonscreen.com/🟢Launched this month

I ended up having to move my main site manually. There wasn’t too much content. It also opened my eyes to reviewing, which got me thinking about improving it. I’d recreated my previous site nearly perfectly using Gutenberg, only then to find that a side menu column was preventing wide images in the content column next to it. So the site had a bit of a quick repaint. I’m not settled on it, but its the last of my priorities to spend ages tweaking right now. I might blog about the trade-offs I’m finding.

Content

The homepage: copy adapted to match what I’m current up to, added music and photos.

Self Initiated: Small clean up, looking forward to when I can style some visuals on this page and make it more of a visual directory.

Selected Works: Added a table of significant projects, created pages for the selected which are currently behind a password. Did a pleasing bit of brainstorming and planning for how to approach writing up these works. I believe I’ve found a fun solution.

About: Added a lightweight CV here. This started to feel like a re-do of the homepage when I looked at the sections. Jotted a few notes about where this could go, needs a bit more fleshing out, generally though – what is an about page? a homepage? a now page?

NEW: Typography on Screen

I’ve been sitting on the domain typographyonscreen.com for 16 years. Now it’s launched as a scrapbook for films and shows I watch where type catches my eye. Think 2009 Tumblr. I might categorise the typefaces, I could even ask an ai to determine what they are. For now, it’s a simple and fun scrapbook/log of what I’ve been watching.

NEW: photo rig created for Inventory Supplies

One of the gotchas with a listings page made up of a selection of product shots from different companies is the difference in photography. I’m not interested in artworking for hours, but there are a few simple things I can do to improve the consistency. Firstly, turn white backgrounds to grey. Secondly, resize them to be in frame for the listing. I made this basic rig in Pixelmator, it has a selection of greys, some are gradient blended too.

Everything else: Transferring photos will take a while, chipped away at a few batches. Dan and I chatted about Local Dealers, I setup a sandbox site with content for that. I added a scrapbook page to my own site after finding my very old tumblr photos in my site backup – another migration job to add to the queue. I added most of my February photos to my site after doing some grading… which I think I’ve way over done, needs a revisit. I added one web post – Hello, Gutenberg!


Work: Design & Research Operations

The career framework launch has been set back till after we’ve all completed our annual reviews. This makes sense, giving us more time to refine the details and keep folks on task with just looking at the reviews for now.

We spent a few more sessions together reading through, refining terms and growing our shared understanding. Julie has been writing out research sections and we’re due to look at a final edit of this in the coming weeks.

Paired with James on the team deck, got some restructuring of the content down. Better to make slides functional over long passages of text. Hopefully this content will become evergreen for us in the team and the slides can easily be used in multiple decks the team produce to communicate what our team do and how they do it.

We’ve been talking about growing our presentation skills across the team. I dug out an old storytelling tips deck and ran through this. I’m keen to record this and produce a series of these so folks can easily dip back in when they need to.

Julie has been pushing along with setting up our benchmark usability tests, soon to get these into Maze and I’ve been advocating for the team to start reserving time to get stuck in so we’re all levelling up on our ability to run and respond to tests autonomously.

I’ve launched Ops 1:1 sessions with everyone in the team. These are happening every four week and I’m really excited about the what we will get from the team in terms of serving them directly with their needs. I’m considering turning them into a “Ops state of team” reports so we can easily look back over time and make sure we’re addressing needs within the programs of work.

Finally, I’ve started to model out how we’re going to measure Capex/Opex activity and bookings. Nobody likes resourcing or timesheets, so I’m finding the balance between passive estimates and active updates in stand-ups to adjust any estimates accordingly. Hopefully we roll this out in the next couple of weeks when I’m back from Barcelona.

The brand documentation tooling has been picked. A few more meetings and alignment with folks here and we should be in a good place to launch this business wide.


Organising Stuff

The fly infested plants got repotted with new soil, fully recovered and clean. Flys have gone. Cut a few plants back in the garden, they need moving soon too. Bought a spray pump bottle and put Algone over all the concrete surfaces to remove the green slime. I *think it’s working, perhaps very slowly.

Bought Hollie and I A4 zip wallets to segment out our post. Rock & Roll man! I’d love a feed scanner but I just can’t stomach the price and faff of it. Paperwork cupboard is now marginally less chaotic.

A home project years in the pipeline (well, three years) finally completed. We now have blackout blinds in our bedroom. I did the installation over three days, first, getting them up and operational was pretty simple. Next day was a trip to B&Q to buy strips of wood to pad out the framing, the tolerance was just too small to be reliable. Strips got removed, primed and painted. Final day was caulking. My nemesis. Which actually went heaps better than the bathroom disaster. Finishing touches came in the post – two bead stoppers for the cords and some squishy white foam tape to bung the last two gaps either side of the cassettes. Perhaps I’ll write up post on this.

Pensions transfer completed, ISA is still transferring. I created stocks investment account too so I can buy specific stocks. I’ve gone with a mix of ~20 tech and solar/energy stocks, nothing wild going on here. Adding a bit of change when I have it spare and it’s very much a buy and hold approach.

I tried improving how I’m capturing these very notes week to week. Still not feeling the workflow. I’d like to find a hybrid of notes, tasks, meetings, future tasks being all together.


Travel

We hopped over to Lisbon for a short break. Wonderful to see Leni, James, Luke, Sarah and Kyle. Hired a car and went down the coast with Leni and James for one of the afternoons. A delightful little break away from the city. Hung with Luke and Sarah in their beautiful home and down by the river, a few drinks while the sun set and their kid came back from school. Went to a bonkers dinner and theatre thing.


Delights

Walking around East London taking snaps on a Sunday morning, we were killing time before our table at Ozone. Reminded me of the old days, exploring roads for the first time. We both made an effort to dress nice too and not just wonder out in our dog clothes.

Had a cracking aubergine, tomato, mozzarella and basil grilled side at Flat Iron for lunch. This led me to looking up recipes, it’s called Parmigiana di melanzane. Tried a couple of versions at home.

A lovely chap sat at the bar at Mother Kelly’s offered me his glasses cleaner. I’d arrived for drinks soaked from a downpour. Wonderful to receive a small generosity.

Hollie, Peach and I went on a long walk to the Olympic Park and Hackney Wick on a Saturday morning. Soaked up the blue sky, chatted away and were both in observation mode.

I made us some pancakes on pancake day. Classic lemon and sugar, simple and delicious. They always remind me of being young and making them at weekends for the family.

DJ Bone at Phonox was possibly the best club night I’ve ever been to. Back to back classics, intergalactic mixing techniques, the man is pure talent and genius.


Catch-ups

  • Plant shopping and a stroll with Pan
  • Dinner at Mambo with Ben, Dan, Sandy, Tom. Sandy is doing the Brighton marathon (as is John)
  • Cocktails at My Ex with Seb and Hollie
  • Mother Kelly Beers and a KFC with Brad and Simon
  • Cooked lunch for my Mum and her boyfriend John
  • Checked out the new sister pub – The Half Crow with Hollie, ate some cheap pizzas
  • Wonderful massive party hosted by Pan & Dan, loads of friends together from everywhere
  • Valentine’s dinner at The Plough, Asian fusion pop up, wonderful hosts
  • Cooked Beth some bangers and mash and we had a few wines
  • Date night at Sager & Wild, I miss the pasta deal, now it’s £££
  • Pints and pasta with Thomas around Barbican
  • Breakfast at Ozone with James for a work meeting
  • Lisbon hangs with Leni, James, Luke, Sarah and Kyle
  • DJ Bone at Phonox with Ben, Caro, Dan and John

What the Hell Stuff?

Nearly bought pre-grated Mozerella, then I wondered how they stop it turning strange? Oh, it’s got potato starch in it. I could hear Tim Spector in the aisle with me. Back it went.

Leigh sent me these “ai dumbbells” which raised my eyebrows in all sorts of ways. Too many questions here. I assumed they are completely bogus, however, later found they have already won a Red Dot award. A quick google – a product must work and exist to win a Red Dot.

Siri started reading out meeting reminders. Especially irritating when you’re taking a nap with white noise on your AirPod. One of my pet peeves is apps/os’ changing settings after updates. I do wonder if it’s an intentional strategy or if it’s just the result of modern software teams ways of working.

Hollie and I were talking about folks we know who are experiencing burn out in tech companies, I therosied that it’s the mess of Agile. Minutes later this article popped up on Hacker News https://www.itpro.com/software/agile-development-is-fading-in-popularity-at-large-enterprises-and-developer-burnout-is-a-key-factor

Scanning my passport with my phone to authenticate my ID for HMRC. That was well future, I had no idea that was now a thing on a consumer level, assumed it would only be done in official places.

Spotted a young and tailless fox around our building. He tried to get into our neighbours doors and then a few days later did the same at our house. Peaches went into full primal mode. What the hell is this lad doing?


Pondering

Read a post on LinkedIn about how the industry expects too much of Product Designers. It’s got me pondering about how this is framed. Lots of industries have extensive skill lists: Architects, Industrial Designers and Carpenters for example. I want to chew this one over and write it up. In short, I believe it’s a good thing to work in an industry that requires extensive skills.

The Browser Company launched their second product. An ai summary builder for mobile that creates a page from top results. Conceptually interesting, however the execution missed it for me. It’s early days though, I wonder what this will look like in a few years.

Vision Pro reviews, hot takes and factoid articles are everywhere. I watched MKBHD and The Verges videos, along with reading John Gruber’s posts. I still can’t get into it

Yet again, I’ve been considering buying a DJ controller. The Rane One came up in some searches, interesting to see that a full mechanical and weighted platter is possible without buying separate decks. What’s holding me back? I’m spending most of my downtime on web projects right now.


Media Diet

Films & TV

Vertigo. Classic.

Blade Runner 2049. Rewatch for nth time, still delightful.

The Holdovers. Essential. One of the best films I’ve watched in a while.

The Wire. Still powering through the box set.

Griselda. Mostly good, easy watching.

Easy Rider. Need to rewatch.

The Beekeeper. Wonderfully terrible in many ways, especially the bee chat.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Season 12 Ep1. Not sure at all. Lets see how the rest go.


Music

I bought Think Tank, Blur on CD and ripped it to FLAC

Enjoyed the Drift deeper 2023 recap mix

New Blue Sun, Andre 3000 wasn’t for me

I bought To Win in Silence, Ruffien

Gilles Peterson, Larry Mizzel’s 80th Birthday show was a banger

All the J Dilla 6 Music shows were great too

Due in Color, Andrea

orbs, Anthony Naples

Fabric 53, Surgeon

Magda, Dontao Dozzy


Books

The Experience Machine, Andy Clark. Still in progress. Andy walks us through the predictive nature of our brains, its quirks, bias and processes that make up how we experience everything. Essential.

Be Useful, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Finished. What a delight.

Welcome to New London, John Rogers. Bought this on Kindle, just dipped my toes in to the first chapter.


YouTube

I’ve been watching so little YouTube in contrast to my habits last year. Here’s the best of the last 28 days.

James Hoffmann’s tiramisu testing video is a fun and scientific way to get your answers

Harry Dwyer put up his 19th “Around the UK” (in a speedboat) video. Cracking vid.

iFixit’s tear down of the Vision Pro.


Web Posts & Links

Hippy, capitalist, guru, grocer: the forgotten genius who changed British food

A unified theory of fucks

Purpose, authenticity and nepo-brands

The tyranny of the algorithm: why every coffee shop looks the same

The Day I Put $50,000 in a Shoe Box and Handed It to a Stranger

‘Enshittification’ is coming for absolutely everything

Why are kids doing the ‘Brexit tackle’?

I spotted this art of the underground if I take the West entrance at Bond Street

James and I chatted about feature phones, after I read

A Practical Guide to Quitting Your Smartphone also mentioned The Light Phone

★ If I won the lotto I’d be buying this turntable by Brian Eno

and perhaps some Astell & Kern stuff, like this CD ripper, or Media Player

Andy shared this helpful repair service https://alpkit.com/ for my coat

Hollie and I were talking about UX and these two articles came to mind: In Praise of Buttons – Part One and In Loving Memory of Square Checkbox

Finally, a handy printable year on a page calendar


Podcasts

Christopher Nolan talks through his Oppenheimer screenplay process

Three Bean Salad. I forgot to add The Beans in last month. Big shout out to Caro for recommending this, it’s almost a daily affair when I need a comforting and funny conversation in my ear. Try the linked episode first if you don’t know them.

Gave the 404 Media podcast a spin. Google’s search degrading, ai content farms and SEO nightmares. Not sure it’s a regular for me after dialling back podcasts.


This web post took around three hours to compile. I think there is something valuable in the effort it takes and the reflection it brings to the last 28 days.


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