w/c 25th Sept 2023



I’m going to try out writing weeknotes. I don’t know if I’ll keep them up and I haven’t got straight in my head yet the purpose I want them to serve, I’ll see if I can figure that out as I go.

Based on others I’ve seen write weeknotes, no one seems to agree on what they are or what they’re for, which typically manifests in one’s first weeknote being a dull monologue on how they help synergise your strategic leadership style etc. Not doing that.

The explanation of weeknotes that I’ve seen shared most widely is written by Deloitte, so I’ll be trying my best to do the opposite of whatever they suggest.


A friend bought me an electronics kit for my birthday earlier in the year that included a Raspberry Pico W. Since then I’ve been experimenting with using Pico Ws to setup home automations integrated with smlkjns_assistant.

Pico Ws are incredibly cool, mostly because they cost peanuts. Micropython can be a little tricky for dummies like me who are used to being able to work in python without ever once thinking about memory management – and it’s taken a bit of trial and error to get to code that remains stable when left running for days on end. Currently I’ve got two running – one to relay commands from smlkjns_assistant to smartplugs around the house and another to query those smartplugs for energy usage data and send the stats back to my server.

In the analogue world, I put some shelves up in our utility room. I’d put this off for a while after realising the wall was only plasterboard with a cavity of several inches between it and the brick behind. I found myself worrying about what sort of plasterboard fixings I should use in my sleep, which is obviously a ridiculous state of affairs, so I got over myself and bought these eventually. About a third of the pack turned out to be duds which I then had to painfully remove from the wall with pliers but I got there in the end. The room is now much tidier, which is good because we need to use it to store all the plants we belatedly realised are toxic to the cat.

Which is a good segway to the cat. We got a kitten recently. She’s beautiful and we love her. She is called Socks McClane because we were too cowardly to commit fully to the Die Hard reference. Her hobbies include destroying everything we own and being carried around on our shoulders.

My dad, in line with his long-running inability to be anything less than immediately outstanding at any skilled craft he turns his hand to, made this for us:

Her impact on my productivity when working from home is mixed. Generally she likes to sleep on my lap, which pins me to my desk when I might otherwise be getting up to wander around and stare out of windows (having lots of windows to stare out of still being a novelty when compared to the flat we were previously in). She tends to have some very strong opinions when I’m on calls though and her preferred way of making herself heard is a well positioned claw inserted into the kneecap.

Speaking of work, I’ve been doing lots of prep work over the past few weeks to allow me to produce powerpoint decks via python quickly and in my own standardised format, for which I’m using python-pptx. I’ve similarly built a bunch of classes previously to produce matplotlib plots quickly to a set format and I’ve really started to feel this week how powerful the combination of these two resources is. I’ve been able to deliver some really detailed pieces of analysis that look great much faster than I ever would have been able to before and with very few lines of newly written code. I’m excited too for the accruing benefits of repeatability with this sort of setup – where I can rerun a piece of analysis with updated data in the future and have it spit out new slide decks with next to no additional work from me.

Given I was on track for a straightforwardly successful week though, the universe naturally intervened and I ended up spending most of Friday afternoon struggling to help a member of my team figure out why two datasets weren’t being merged correctly. Neither of us could find the issue for hours, although when we had just reached the precipice of madness we finally figured out that the issue was a 0.005 second (5 bloody milliseconds!) variance between timestamps. Why does one of our systems produce timestamps that look like this you ask? I don’t know, why does evil exist?

Finally, in bed this morning I read this fascinating article in the FT (paywalled) about a Japanese village where a toddler is the first birth in more than two decades. If anyone has further reading in the “Japanese Children of Men” genre, send it my way please.

That’s it. See you next week, maybe.