Working with Mayel on our approach to bounties for privacy and security testing.
Creating videos for CET Israel as part of the Digital Literacy MOOC they’re creating for teachers in Beer Sheva. It involved me buying a green screen and lights, a bit of a learning curve, and lots of editing. While it was intense work to get finished in time, it was enjoyable!
MeetingBryan Alexander in person for the first time. We’ve been in touch a lot via email, etc. so it was good to see him in the flesh.
Getting back home via plane, train, and automobile. It took 24 hours, even though everything was on time. Why? Because flight times and combinations meant that it was quicker for me to get the train home from London!
Completing seven draft scripts, at around 6,500 words, for CET Israel in preparation for an upcoming series of videos I’m recording for their digital literacy MOOC.
Running a MozFest session with Mayel on decentralised technologies and MoodleNet. It was well-attended and people were very interested in what we’re building — including a guy from the W3C!
Pitching for a MOSS (Mozilla Open Source Support) grant. We weren’t expecting to do this, but were encouraged to do so when we got talking to some people at Mozilla about a privacy and security review from a decentralised point of view.
Preparing for MoodleMoot US. I’m flying straight from MozFest to Denver for a MoodleNet workshop on Tuesday.
Regular readers will know that I’m trying to complete twenty Quality Mountain Days (QMDs) so I can book myself on a a Mountain Leader course. Every one of these I’ve done so far has been by myself, partly because I enjoy it that way, and partly down to logistics.
After QMDs 13 and 14, my friend (and TIDE podcast co-host) Dai Barnes offered to come with me on my next jaunt. As a result, we spent all day last Friday, and part of Saturday, walking in the Lake District.
The thing you need to know about Dai is that he goes barefoot almost everywhere. So when I jokingly reminded him that he’d need some boots for our walking trip, he replied by saying that he’d tie some to his backpack, but was planning to go barefoot. 😲
Although Dai has helped out with students at his school doing The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, he’s not a regular mountain walker. That’s good, because if he had been, the day wouldn’t have counted towards my QMDs.
I sent him a map of the route I’d planned for our first day, and said that we could plan the second one over dinner afterwards. The map below is our 21.1km actual route, which took us around 8.5 hours — including plenty of stops for food and chat.
We actually recorded an episode of the TIDE podcast while walking, so if you’re interested, you can sample that here.
Meeting at 10:00, we set off from the car park Borrowdale YHA after I’d checked we had the right equipment. We started walking (and recording) but after about 30 minutes I realised we had taken the wrong path. I hadn’t really been paying enough attention!
So we continued around and down towards Seatoller and Honister Hause. We agreed while we were down there that we’d go up towards Great Gable the next day. From Honister we ascended directly up towards Dale Head. That approach is probably the best for someone like Dai who hasn’t been up there before. It’s a magnificent view.
We had a great moment at the top, as Dai had brought his tiny but very powerful speaker up to play one of his stepson’s latest songs.
After something to eat, we walked along Hindscarth Edge and round to Hindscarth itself. We could see the clouds drawing in, which began to obscure our view of Dale Head. We came down via Scope End, which was zig-zaggy in places. All the more annoying as I’d forgotten my walking poles.
Heading across the river at the bottom of the valley, engrossed in conversation, we merrily kept walking into Little Town. Once we realised, we backtracked a little and went around High Crags. It was around 16:00 by this time, so we didn’t fancy going around Cat Bells and Brandelhow. Instead, we aimed for Black Crags.
In an error that I refer to on the podcast as ‘sheepfold shortcut’, we got confused between where we were in relation to two sheepfolds (indicated by the purple arrows on the map above).
That meant we didn’t have much choice but to make an extremely steep ascent up to get along and round to Bull Crag. It wasn’t much fun, but necessary given that it was late afternoon.
From there, we walked along Maiden Moor, Narrow Moor, and then arrived at a misty High Spy. Given that the light was beginning to fade, we attempted to get down Rigghead Quarries as quickly as possible. The fact that Dai did this barefoot quite frankly beggars belief.
By the time we got past the quarries it was dark enough to turn my head torch on. We walked the last section in single file along the river in pitch darkness, being careful where we placed our feet. Dai did put on some very thin sandals for this bit.
After a shower, a change of clothes, and a couple of very well-deserved pints, we plotted our route for the next day over dinner.
Things I learned:
It’s easy to get carried away and not check your map when you’re having an interesting conversation.
Just because something looks like a path, doesn’t mean it is.
Double-check your equipment before leaving the house, and consider having a list (so I don’t forget my poles!)
After a decent night’s sleep and a good breakfast on Saturday morning, we drove over to Honister Hause and started walking a circular route towards Great Gable. However, the wind and the rain was so bad that I had to put on full waterproofs and we sheltered for a while in a bothy near Dubs Quarry.
We started descending, realising we would then have to go up again. So, after three hours, soaking wet, and with plenty of the route left to walk, we decided to call it a day. We’d had such a great time the day before, that spoiling our trip by trudging through inclement conditions on Saturday seemed a bit pointless.
So, after getting back to our cars, getting changed, and saying our goodbyes, we headed back home — Dai back down to Oundle, near Peterborough, and me back to Morpeth, Northumberland.
Thanks to Dai for some of the photos featured in this post!
Meeting Alex Castaño for the first time in Barcelona! Hannah and I also took the opportunity to go out for tapas with him and his girlfriend, Laia at El Nacional.
Working on an update to the MoodleNet overview slide deck. This is now at v0.8 and, thanks to some feedback from the community, serves as a non-technical introduction. We’ll direct more technical queries towards our wiki and GitLab repos.
Discussing approaches to compliance with DMCA, DPIA, GDPR, and other four-letter acronyms with Carlo Polizzi.
Trying to figure out some of the issues we’ve discovered in the Pleroma codebase around ActivityPub and the way they’ve approached development using Elixir.
Meeting with Martin Dougiamas to give an update on progress with MoodleNet.
Checking-in with Outlandish on their work around front-end development. The login and sign-up screens are ready (including validation) and we’ll be testing the sign-up process with users in November. In addition they’ve been continuing to update the style guide and the community and collection elements.
Note: This is a slightly modified version of a post I made to the Moodle HQ forum earlier today as part of our Wellbeing Week.
According to Heads Up, an Australian organisation focused on mental health at work, there are nine attributes of a healthy workplace:
Prioritising mental health
Trusting, fair & respectful culture
Open & honest leadership
Inclusion & influence
Mental health support
Just over a decade ago, I burned myself out while teaching, spending a few weeks signed off work and on antidepressants. It was undoubtedly the lowest point of my life. The experience has made me realise how fragile mental health can be, as other members of staff were struggling too. Ultimately, it was our workplace environment that was to blame, not individual human failings.
These days, I’m pleased to say that, most of the time everything is fine. Just like anyone who identifies strongly with the work they’re doing, it can be difficult to put into practice wisdom such as “prioritising family” and “putting health first”. Good places to work, however, encourage you to do this, which is part of what Wellbeing Week at Moodle is all about.
Currently, I work remotely for Moodle four days per week. I travel regularly, but have been based from home in various roles for the past six years. While others might find it lonely, boring, or too quiet, I find that, overall, it suits my temperament.
When I worked in offices and classrooms, I had an idea of remote working that was completely different from the reality of it. Being based in somewhere other than your colleagues can be stressful, as an article on Hacker Noon makes very clear. I haven’t experienced all of the following issues listed in the article, but I know people who have.
Dehumanisation: “communication tends to stick to structured channels”
Interruptions and multitasking: “being responsive on the chat accomplishes the same as being on time at work in an office: it gives an image of reliability”
Overworking: “this all amounts for me to the question of trust: your employer trusted you a lot, allowing you to work on your own terms , and in exchange, I have always felt compelled to actually work a lot more than if I was in an office.”
Being a stay at home dad: “When you spend a good part of your time at home, your family sees you as more available than they should.”
Loneliness: “I do enjoy being alone quite a lot, but even for me, after two weeks of only seeing colleagues through my screen, and then my family at night, I end up feeling quite sad. I miss feeling integrated in a community of pairs.”
Deciding where to work every day: “not knowing where I will be working everyday, and having to think about which hardware I need to take with me”
You never leave ‘work’: “working at home does not leave you time to cool off while coming back home from work”
Career risk: “working remotely makes you less visible in your company”
Wherever you spend the majority of your time, the physical environment only goes so far. That’s why the work the Culture Champs are doing at Moodle HQ is so important. Feeling supported to do a manageable job in a trusting and respectful culture is something independent of where your chair happens to be located.
So, I’d like to encourage everyone reading this to open up about your mental health. Talk about it with your family and friends, of course, but also to your colleagues. How are you feeling?
Sending outIssue #318 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. This one was called ‘Blisters a-go-go’. Today’s newsletter is delayed due to something I discuss below! Thanks to those who make Thought Shrapnel possible via their support on Patreon.
AskingMary Cooch some questions about the existing moodle.net service for an interview to be featured in an upcoming blog post.
Contributing to the Culture Champs organisation of Wellbeing Week (next week!)
Investigating who we could hire to do security testing of MoodleNet pre-MVP.
Meeting with Emilio Lozano to discuss approaches to project management.
Writing a post on the new technical area of the MoodleNet blog about our decision to use Elixir (Alex’s post based on Mayel’s docs)
Recording, editing and releasing Episode 110 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘Coaching and bullshit’, discussing career advice, coaching, the ‘lower left’, a bullshit receptivity scale, post-truth, walking, Google activity controls, and more!
Meeting with my co-op colleagues to plan upcoming gigs. Amongst other things, we’ve started on a comic to explain how to setup a room for remote participation!
Recording, editing and releasing Episode 109 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘Surveillance and social conformity’ and discussed conformity, social media, Personal Learning Networks, Edward Snowden, surveillance, Big Tech, digital assistants, teaching History, and more!
Finishing one fiction book and starting a new work of non-fiction I’ve been looking forward to reading: