resplendent hypertext

Side-bloggin': Lately I've been really enjoying posting to my side blogs. A few photos and scrappy haikus here; interesting, lovely and useful links there. These projects feel more like blog-friendly activities for introverts. I can see me getting to a place where I just use this blog for these recently updates and the occasional bit of long-form. Let's see.

Escape to meat space: That said, I'm seeing a lot of people I admire talking increasingly about getting off social media and, as much as possible, the internet generally. I still see the appeal. A remote island. A few dogs. A bit of painting. No screens. Sounds brilliant. Pretty sure I'd hate it after a week and half.

About an injured climber: Content warning: this contains audio of an emergency services call, but it's nothing harrowing or I wouldn't share it. Also: this is essentially an advert. But all that aside, I thought this was a good Instagram post from Giles Rhys Jones. I didn't initially get where it was going, which was daft really because Giles is CMO at what3words. Powerful bit of storytelling with a real-world use case, told from the point of view of the users.

Running still: It's been a couple of months since I took up running again after a … ahem … winter break. Enjoying. I've given myself permission to just potter about this time around. Apparently that's the way to build stamina and, if you do that, the speed will follow. But I just like having a little jog along on a sunny morning in the countryside – preferably before the traffic. Aiming to do a park run in June. How's that for a modest goal? Aiming to do a run already pitched as accessible to all abilities. Still something I need to gee myself up for.

Makin' a poster: At work I've been thinking a lot about posters. Not the inspirational/aspirational kind, though those are great. Something in more useful territory. Think more your World Cup wall chart. Actually: that's good – things you have to fill in. That's not what I've been doing but I might try to run with that. No, lately I've pinched a National Audit Office table (Figure 2 in this PDF – plus associated web page) about things that make government transformation – and particularly the CDDO's strategic missions – challenging to achieve. Then adding some columns to it with stuff you can actually usefully do to get through, over or around those challenges. That's the aim: anyway – something useful. We'll do our best.

Blogging well at work: I've been here a couple of years now and it's about time I got assertive with the work blog. It's hard to blog about client deliveries because of client sensitives – that's the received wisdom anyway. But it's so easy to anonymise if you have to, that's not really an excuse. I bet 90% of the time you won't actually write anything unpublishable anyway. As I whinged on LinkedIn today, you often get push back on blog posts because an idea “isn't enough” for a post. I think I'm going to stop suggesting blog posts and just do update chats with people instead. Then write the blog post. Or, ask a random team member 5 or 6 questions, blog the answers and publish week notes, but from a different team each week. A a nod to Giles' Blog post formats for teams. It's brilliant, but must admit the first time I saw it I felt a bit “I wish” about it. But no – it's on me to try harder. It's hard to build a blogging culture where it doesn't exist. And just because a company has a regularly updated “blog” that by no means it has a blogging culture. We've made great progress, but much more to do.

May days: A lovely thing about living a bit more rurally is you're reminded of what a brilliant month May is. There is so much green everywhere. The cow parsley is 8-foot high. Baby ducks. Baby deer. Bees. Wasp queens starting their nests. The coming and going of various blossoms. Suddenly-warm weather. Yes: May is brilliant. Much better than, say, November or August.

#notes #recently

Not week notes: I love the idea of week notes. I admire people that write them. But they don't work for me. When it comes to the time of week I should be writing them, there always seems to be something more pressing to write. But I think it's useful to note down what's been going on, so I thought I'd try a looser format. Something I can get to when I can. It'll probably be less “what I've been up to” and more “things I've noticed” than your standard week notes, but that's OK. This is the first one.

Making plans: If you follow me on Masto you may have seen me carping about a tricky thing I had to write. To be frank, it didn't go brilliantly. I'd like to think because of things I couldn't control. But still, I've been looking back at what I could have done differently, and one of those things is sharing a plan, or an overview, rather than jumping straight into a first draft. Get down and agree the main topics to cover, then share a second iteration with bulleted talking points, and only then write the damn thing. It wouldn't have solved all the problems we ran into, but it would have helped. There you go: sometimes you overlook the oldest trick in the book, and one we were all taught at school.

Wisdom for life: I came across Mo's brilliant Life's Many Lessons. It inevitably made me wonder what lessons I'd write down. Not many came to mind. That makes me feel like this might be an important thing to have a go at. Surely I've learned a few things by now.

A diagnosis at last: This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. Apt, then, that I finally got a diagnosis yesterday: type 2 bipolar. I've long-suspected I'm bipolar, and have talked a bit about it, but it's a relief – and oddly validating – to finally have this confirmed. I might shut up about it now.

Keichu the Wheelmaker: While pursuing the mental health diagnosis I paused my koan practice to essentially just sit. The last koan I'd been working with was Keichu the Wheelmaker, and for several weeks my teacher sent me away to sit on it some more. And then I took the break. But, inevitably, it was lurking in the recesses. I eased gently back into koan practice and passed the koan last week. I say passed as a loose western analogy, of course. It's never that simple. But I'm on to the next one. I think this will always be a special koan to me: one I sat with, intensely and less so, for many months.

Working on a book: Did I mention I've been working on a book? Not so much lately, but in the months previous. It's essentially a re-write of a book about agile, but which was written in quite formal language. And not all of the advice made sense. The interesting thing was managing a finite amount of time, and the choices that brings with it. It's not the book I'd write on agile left to my own devices. I wouldn't be the best person to write on the topic. So it was a re-stating of the wisdom already in the book, with a few new insights thrown in. It would have benefited from much more outside input. Everyone's busy, and it's been a tough year generally speaking. But it's been really nice to put proper time into long-form. It will make it easier to write my own book one day, if I do. As Alex Horne says: big if.

#notes #recently

This super Mastodon post by Ashe Dryden jumped out at me when I saw it:

Screenshot of a Mastodon post by Ashe Dryden. It say: "The people advocating for a return to the office and an end to remote work seem to almost always be rich, white, cishet, abled men who, if they have children, have a spouse that picks up their slack. Remote work is more accessible, inclusive, and safe for maginalized people. The post links to a Fortune story about OpenAI CEO Sam Altman who has declared the remote work "experiment" a failure.

This resonates.

And it's worth digging into some of the reasons given on why managers think working in the office is better.

One is the value of getting together to brainstorm. However, this flies in the face of a weight of evidence that has essentially proven that group brainstorming results in fewer ideas than people working alone.

Dropbox wrote a good blog post about this, linking to supporting evidence: Why most brainstorms don't work. But I think brainstorms can have the illusion of working to the “alpha” people in the room that are most likely to put ideas forward, and work hardest to push them through.

The other piece of rationale is that it's invaluable for team-building and relationship-building. And I think this may be another area where people with his perception skew to having extrovert or “alpha” personality traits.

This isn't an area I'm aware of any research around, and I haven't yet had the chance to go looking. But I know from experience that I've built very strong friendships and working relationships in both largely- and entirely-remote situations.

And I've also had clashes with people too. And I'd say these are only more challenging and more-pronounced in an office environment. Though of course, I have had challenges with other team members in remote situations. And I know there are times when I'm challenging to work with too, whether that's remote or not.

I'm reminded also of the in-game tributes that World of Warcraft players have made to fellow guild-members who passed away. Tell them you can't build strong relationships online.

I guess the strongest statement I can make is that, as someone who has had mental health challenges, remote work has been extremely helpful to me. I've actively sought out largely- or entirely- remote roles since 2008.

#work #remotework

It's still coronation weekend, and bank holiday Monday is when everyone in the UK has been encouraged to do some volunteering. The coronation might not be my thing, but I spent some time in the garden.

If nature is your thing, and you have some outdoor space, you can help out without leaving home. You don't need much space. Even if it's a patio with a few pots or even a window box, there's something you can do.

The RHS has a nice little guide on what plants support which bugs.

We've been trying to cultivate a nature-friendly garden for a few years now. We have some large pieces of rotting wood down for beetles. We let large areas grow wild, even allowing some nettles and brambles. We leave gaps for small animals to come and go at the end of the garden. Though, while we have at least one dog, we try to keep badgers out.

One thing that's been nice to see is our immediate neighbours growing wild areas too. We used to get a few disapproving looks and even the odd snarky comment. But there's increasing awareness a wild garden, or partly wild garden, is a good thing.

We've had a bird box up for a few years now. This year some blue tits have made it their home. For the past few days the parents have been coming with food for their young. So I made a little video.

I shot this with a Moment telephoto lens attachment for my iPhone. I attached it to the built-in 3x lens in my phone. And then, because I don't have a tripod yet, I propped my phone up against a small food compost caddy on top of our recycling bin, a few metres away from the bird box.

I shot it landscape and edited it down in iMovie for iOS, forgetting that iMovie doesn't like portrait video. I think there are work-around but I didn't bother this time around. Luckily I'd framed it so iMovie's square crop still covered all the action.

I edited it down to just the comings and goings, and then made some final edits in VSCO, including reducing the speed to 0.7x for a better look at the birds coming and going.

Hopefully a rather nice thing.

#gardening #nature #photography

A dart board in a Royal British Legion club. It's half-concealed behind one closed door of its cabinet. A paper coronation flag with a picture of King Charles juts out. It's at a 45-degree angle from a bottom corner of the cabinet. Above, there's some Union Flag bunting.

If you're a monarchist I hope you're having a lovely day. Or if you're in the middle, but like the odd bit of pageantry now and then, I hope you're having a lovely day too. I suspect a lot of British people fall into that bucket. I have a friend who has gone into London and camped out near the palace for a few days. I hope she's having a lovely time as well.

It doesn't seem like the day to get all #notmyking about things. At least not to me. I suppose there's no better time if you do want to take a stand. There was a suggestion that people take a pledge of allegiance. That will have energised some nay-sayers.

I did not watch the coronation. I spent the day playing a bit of Destiny 2. I was hunting down a “catalyst” for my “exotic huckleberry”. Best not to ask. I did eat a scone, though. Judy baked some yesterday. I suspect it was coincidental. That or the latest example of ironic baking.

We're not monarchists in this house. I've left that to the fourth paragraph because I don't want to get in people's faces about it. I did some anti-monarchist Googling as a sort of silent protest. I found a good quote by Daniel Radcliffe. He doesn't like to be mean about it, of course. But he once said he this “the monarchy symbolizes a lot of what was wrong with the country.” I agree with that. Though I think the “was” should be an “is”.

It's not something I've ever made much of a fuss about. For all the failings of the monarchy, Queen Elizabeth II seemed like a nice old lady. But she's gone now. And it feels like that time at a party when the conversation dries up because people are starting to want to leave. Of course, it's never much of a party after Australia leaves anyway.

I'm sure for the people that like parties like that it's been quite a good one. There are lots of stories to tell about it. Although I didn't attend, I'm glad lots of people had a lovely time. Even if that lovely time came at a horrible cost that no one at the party likes to think about. I'll gladly help pack things away afterwards, though. It's probably about time now.


It's annual review time of year again. Over the years my perspective has changed. Once it was the under-appreciated individual contributor. Now it's under-appreciating manager. But one thing has stayed the same: I loathe this time of year.

I don't want to whinge. And I can't, really. I can't think of an objectively good way to do this. How to fairly “evaluate” people's “performance” – two words there that I find problematic.

I can't help observe that it's a shame that this is a time of year that:

  • makes people who do good work feel less good about their work than they should
  • holds people to arbitrary standards
  • makes you wonder if your manager is fighting your corner as hard (or as fairly) as other managers are
  • puts a number against your performance, as if it could ever be as simple as that
  • expects people to perform in a role or at a level other than the one they're paid to succeed at
  • seems to favour people with more time at hand
  • seems to favour people with certain personality traits

The process has made me rethink the value of blogging. (Or journalling, privately or in the open.) And particularly week notes. Keeping a record of what you've been working on strikes me as incredibly valuable come this time of year. Particularly when it's interesting or unusual things. Or in people team parlance, “going beyond goals”.

This might make it easier for people that don't spend their time strategising. Whether that's strategising their next appraisal, promotion or pay bump. a more even field of play for dipping into and grabbing the highlights they need to make a case for themselves.


Thought I'd share some Instagram accounts I really enjoy following. In many ways I'd love to get off Instagram, but it's a major presence of so many people I get a lot of joy from following so I have no immediate plans. Here are just a few of them:

  • bensirda // I totally get this isn't everyone's thing, but if heavily-processed black and white photography is up your street, there are some lovely examples here
  • theblackdog // “we make techno” is pretty good as one-line bios go – music artist account, and an artist I don't listen to as much as I'd like, but which I enjoy following nonetheless – strikes me as an artist account done right
  • coppernotes // Exquisite but unadulterared photography of Scotland's scenery by Fiona Reid
  • doug_chiang // Lovely concept art work from the Lucasfilm VP and Creative Exec – as close as you'll get to an active Ralph McQuarrie Insta account
  • hayakawakio // A designer's account, but for lovely photography taken in and around Tokyo and beyond
  • inkyprintsstudio // Judy is family, so of course I'm biased, but she has a lovely Insta account devoted to her print-making
  • leahj.72 // Lovely observations of the world around by, I infer, a practicing zen buddhist
  • // Beautiful mainly-urban photography from Mexico – possibly my favourite Instagram account – the stories put my posts to shame
  • markshallestate // If there's a nice park or public garden near you, look em up on Instagram and see if they're active and post nice things
  • miyuki_calligrapher // Zen calligraphy – just beautiful
  • mat_ranson // Design and photography – I don't understand it, but I know I like it
  • NASA // Some people's work makes it easier to do good Instagram, doesn't it?
  • nicolaturnerphotography // Lovely travel photography, but with none of the cheesy egotism as your stereotypical Instagrammers
  • ocramnartlof // Really striking abstract digital art – Marco was good enough to let me use one of his images for a music project
  • paradisecafe00 // If your local greasy spoon is on Insta, give them a follow – joy will ensue
  • retroscifiart // Not originial work, but as it's studiously-researched and immaculately-credited I'm very happy to recommend this oft-updated feed of retro sci-fi and adjacent artworks
  • rhayader_computers // Lovely little account run by a retro computing shop
  • rochester_zen__center // A lot of your Buddhist Instagram accounts just have cribbed Buddha pictures and (often trite) self-improvement quotes – Rochester Zen Center's takes a very different approach, with lovely pics from around their Sangha
  • strictlykev // Lovely account from the Ninja Tune musician, who is perhaps less well known for also being an excellent graphic designer – shares lovely things both made and seen
  • tinglow // Beautiful ink sketches
  • tofugom // Lovely understated urban photography – great seeing, and you never quite know what you'll see next
  • xtrazen // Extremely-laid back Instagramming from the introverted half of Coldcut – simple noticings, lovingly snapped


Getting back into running after stopping in September, though I began winding down after my 10K race in July.

I hadn't meant to stop, and I wish I hadn't. Illness was a factor. But what I've found interesting is how much higher my baseline ability is compared to last year.

I've done a bit of reading on how quickly you lose fitness if you take a break from regular running, and was surprised at how slow it actually is. I don't have a specific link to hand but this is easily Googled.

But it's nice to have direct experience to back this up to. It's an encouragement to exercise, knowing that there's long-term value in it, even if you do choose to (or have to) take large breaks from time to time.


On Saturday evening, I got up on a stage and tried to make people laugh. It's something I've wondered about. It was just an open mic night – with karaoke to make performing as accessible as possible.

There were three of us that did something other than karaoke. A singer-guitarist and a poet. Oh, a couple of people got up and told some jokes, but not ones they'd written.

I did my own material, if you can call it that. My own words and ideas, at least in terms of the content. I knew it was coming up and I'd been sketching a few ideas in my head. I didn't write anything down, but had a couple of key moments and lines as milestones to keep me on track. I was nervous – I'm not good at talking in front of people. But this felt different in that, somehow, the words wanted to come out.

The was nothing original about my shtick, though: silliness initially disguised as poetry. I was really glad of the musician, who kindly agreed to play some backing music, which I think definitely helped. Plus I tipped him off that there'd be some awkward interactions between us and I'd buy him a beer after. Luckily he really got it, and (literally) played along.

I can point to three specific comedians who directly influenced and informed what I did, and I feel like I drew enough from them that, really, all the hard work had been done for me. If I were to do something like this with any regularity I'd want more originality in the fundamental idea – the character, or whatever. That would only be right.

It went well. People laughed when they were supposed to. If I never do it again I'm glad I did it. But it might be a nice thing to do now and then. If I can come up with that core idea. And if there are some nices places to do it that aren't too far away and/or full of drunk people that want to hear jokes about goodness-knows-what.

So yeah: that happened. I'm as surprised as anyone.


Minimal face for a Garmin watch

A quick bodge to get a minimal watch face for Garmin smart watches.

These links might be useful for applying:

Base typeface: Simple TDB


  1. Get the Garmin ConnectIQ app from your mobile app store
  2. Search “TDB” from the search tab, select Simple TDB and install
  3. Go to My Device > My Watch Faces and select Simple TDB
  4. Select Settings
  5. Set Background Color to either white or black
  6. Select Time Color, along with any other information you want to see, to the opposite (I've elected to make only Time Color visible)
  7. Set all other options to match your Background Color choice
  8. Hit save

I think this should update the face on your watch, but you can select this from the settings on your watch if needed.

I suggest avoid other colours – at least on devices with lesser screens. The information isn't all that clear, and reduces the impact.

#minimalism #simplicity #garmin

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