Category: Weeknotes (page 1 of 29)

Weeknote 06/2019

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m at home working on MoodleNet Mon/Tues and Thurs/Fri. So, just like this week, I’ll be available if you want to talk something through for half an hour. Book a slot here!

Weeknote 05/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #330 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled, ‘You’d BETT-er believe it, people’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Recording, editing and releasing Episode 115 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘Art, milk and parties’ and discussed our experiences at BETT, the history of art, veganism, criticism of Facebook, MoodleNet testing, smartphone-based party games, and more!
  • Working on the MoodleNet project:
    • Feverishly getting things ready for the 100-person initial testing period. We delayed it a bit and then finally went live on Thursday.
    • Publishing a new page at new.moodle.net
    • Rolling back our plans to take over the moodle.net domain after some HQ discussion.
    • Launching the test version of MoodleNet to HQ testers and then the rest of the testing community.
    • Scrambling after deploying an update caused something to fail that only an engineer (at that point asleep in Canada!) could fix.
    • Simultaneously high-fiving one another with one hand and biting our fists with the other.
    • Replying to testers who have been, on the whole, positive.
    • Going through suggestions from testers on Changemap.
    • Smiling at some of the collections that users have created.
    • Filing a bunch of UI issues in GitLab.
    • Getting ready surveys and emails to go to out to testers.
    • Creating a short overview video of what MoodleNet currently looks like – and what we’re looking to quickly improve.
    • Booking travel and accommodation to meet Gry Stene, Moodle’s Chief Product Officer, in Barcelona in late February
  • Telling the world about an idea I’ve got to run weekly surgery appointment slots. They’re free, and I’m happy to discuss pretty much anything!
  • Commenting on Laura’s draft of a post (subsequently published) about We Are Open Co-op raising our sights and being a bit more holistic in our thinking.
  • Putting together things for Thought Shrapnel:
  • Trudging through the snow. It’s been deep and crisp and even in Northumberland over the last couple of days! We’ve had some fun sledging and having snowball fights.
  • Helping my wife migrate from an iPhone (6S) to an Android smartphone (Google Pixel 3). The biggest hassle? WhatsApp chat history 🙄

Next week, I’m working on MoodleNet four days (Mon/Tues & Thurs/Fri) and diving into consultancy stuff on Wednesday. Remember, you can book a slot to have a chat if you think I can help with anything!

Weeknote 04/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #329 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled, ‘All is fair in love and Brexit’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Weds):
    • Preparing for the first pilot test next week. We got 197 applications in English and Spanish, and everyone should now know which ‘list’ they’re on!
    • Collaborating on translations with Julia.
    • Catching up with Carlo, our DPO about data protection.
    • Talking with Bob about Moodle Educator Certificates and Open Badges.
    • Making decisions about what’s in and out of scope for next week. Yes, even at this stage.
  • Meeting with my co-op colleagues from Wednesday night to Friday morning in London.
  • Attending BETT for a few hours on Friday and catching up with various people.
  • Writing a couple of posts on this blog:
  • Catching the Anglo Saxon Kingdoms exhibition at the British Library after I managed to snag a last-minute ticket.

Next week, I’m at home working on MoodleNet all week.

Weeknote 03/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #328 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled, ‘Back at it’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Thurs:
    • Starting using MoodleNet for internal testing for the first time! Such a great feeling.
    • Preparing, and then presenting to both the Moodle Users’ Association monthly Town Hall meeting and to Moodle HQ colleagues at the All-Hands meeting.
    • Collaborating with Mayel, Alex, and Ivan on both improvements to existing functionality with the internal testing version of MoodleNet.
    • Figuring out some of those details (like discussion threads) that seem simple on the surface, but get a lot more complicated when you start thinking about them in any detail.
    • Meeting with my colleague Garnet who introduced me to a representative of Europeana. I can remember when this fantastic service launched when I was a History teacher. We’re looking at ways of working together.
    • Publishing a blog post linking to sign-up forms to test MoodleNet in both English and Spanish. Thanks to Julia for that!
  • Going for my annual trip to the dentist, who complimented me on my brushing. I didn’t get a sticker, though.
  • Meeting with my co-op colleagues to discuss what we’re doing at our meetup next week. We also talked about our collaborations in 2019. As well as their talents in the world of edtech, Grainne makes soap and Laura writes (maybe?) zombie novels. So it seems pretty obvious to me that they should collaborate on zombie soap, right?
  • Playing Red Dead Redemption 2. What a game! I’d planned to work five days on MoodleNet this week (instead of my usual four), but I stayed up playing this on Thursday, after receiving it earlier in the day. Then, on Friday, I spent the morning writing posts for Thought Shrapnel, and then played RDR2 until my PlayStation controller ran out of battery…
  • Losing my 188-day Spanish streak on Duolingo, which made me sad.
  • Writing a long-ish post on this blog about private education and recording a microcast (for Patreon supporters only!)
  • Colder, as it’s been snowing in Northumberland where I live.
  • Continuing to re-read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and enjoying it in a newer (2012) translation that I’ve read previously. I also started the audiobook version of Stephen Fry’s Mythos, which I bought over Christmas via Google Play and which I’m listening to in chunks via our new smart speakers (bedroom/kitchen).
  • Starting to plan our holiday in New England in August. We’re flying in and out of Boston, and are looking at the Lonely Planet guide to the area to get our bearings.

Next week, I’m working from home on MoodleNet from Monday to Wednesday, then heading down to London for both a co-op meetup and (once I’ve braced myself), BETT next Friday.


Photo taken by me at Druridge Bay last Sunday, one of my favourite places in the world.

Weeknote 02/2019

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #327 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled, ‘Happy New Year’. It was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Editing and releasing Episode 114 of the Today In Digital Education (TIDE) podcast with my co-host Dai Barnes. We entitled this episode ‘Double Diamond’ and discussed Danish Geordies, Dai’s trip to India, Doug as an ‘active bystander’, going Google, rules for online sanity, confusing tech questions, and more!
  • Submitting TIDE to Spotify podcasts, where it’s now available for your listening pleasure.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project:
    • Making lots of decisions about what’s in or out of scope for various stages of testing.
    • Drafting the content for a new page to go at moodle.com/moodlenet, with the help of Júlia.
    • Answering interview questions to go on the Moodle blog next week.
    • Attending the IMS Open Badges call, which was a little too technical for me, to be honest.
    • Writing a script for an upcoming MoodleNet video for test users.
    • Deciding on the copy for transactional emails (‘verify’ and ‘reset password’)
    • Finalising the user sign-up form ready for translation into Spanish
  • Booking travel and accommodation for a We Are Open co-op meetup which will happen to coincide with the Friday of BETT in a couple of weeks’ time.
  • Backing up all my Flickr photos as they’re soon going to start deleting any over the most recent 1,000, unless you become a paying customer. I don’t really use it any more, so I just followed this simple guide to download them all.
  • Jumping on an incredible deal via Jack’s Flight Club (which I began subscribing to last month), meaning that our family will be flying to Boston in August for two weeks exploring the surrounding area.
  • Recording a microcast, available only to Patreon supporters:
  • Finishing off reading Chris Harman’s lengthy A People’s History of the World. Most sweeping histories are written by right-leaning historians, so this was a welcome counterbalance. I’ve started reading a newer translation of perhaps my favourite book of all time this week, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
  • Celebrating our daughter’s eighth birthday. She celebrated by playing football and going to a skate park. Time flies, it really does!

Next week, I’m again working five days for Moodle. This week it was to catch up after I took a day to go to a funeral before Christmas. Next week it’s so I can work three days the week after.


Photo of the churchyard at Mitford taken last Sunday by me.

Weeknote 01/2019

This is the first weeknote of the year, so there’s not much to update you on in terms of what I’ve been working on this week. I only got back to things on Thursday and Friday, and they were mostly getting-back-up-to-speed kind of days.

Instead, I’ll give a quick update of what’s been happening in my life since Weeknote 48/2018, posted at the end of November. Having December off social media is lovely and, although I’d miss it if I gave it up completely, made for a relaxed end of the year. As online social tools mature, it’s possible to plot them, as I did last year, on two spectra, giving four quadrants. What that means in practice for me is that I can press pause on contributing to spaces such as Twitter and Mastodon, but still interact with my work colleagues via Telegram and friends via Slack.

My last day at work ended up being Thursday 20th December, as I had a funeral to attend on the Friday followed by my 38th birthday on the Saturday. The run-up to Christmas ended up being quite dramatic, what with the hastily-arranged funeral, a birthday, and then — in the early hours of December 23rd — a fracas in the quiet neighbourhood in which we live. That particular episode involved me going out in my pyjamas, coat, and running trainers to try and stop a (drunk) man giving his (even more drunk) partner more than a broken nose. I tried to shelter her behind the wall to the rear of our house, and was thankful when my neighbour, who I subsequently found out had been a prison officer for 20 years, came to my assistance. Two police cars, an ambulance, and a witness statement later, and all that was left to do was scrub blood off my house at 2am…

After a very enjoyable Christmas Eve with friends in the morning and my parents in the afternoon, we spent Christmas Day as just the four of us. We had a great time and, because we weren’t supposed to be anywhere or do anything other than church in the morning, it was super-relaxed. Last year, because I’d only recently become pescetarian, I agreed to “not be awkward” and to eat meat on Christmas Day. This year, however, I had nut roast, meaning I went the entirety of 2018 without eating meat. It’s much easier to do these days, and veganism (which I’m not planning to switch to) is definitely going to be even more of a thing in 2019.

After Christmas, we spent almost a week travelling to, staying in, and travelling back from Devon. As we live in Northumberland, it’s almost the furthest journey you can make within England. Previously, we’ve made that journey within a day, but it’s no fun; you feel like you’re wasting a day spending 7.5 hours in the car. So, instead, we did what we’ve done in previous years, stopping in a hotel half-way down. This time, we stayed at Hilton East Midlands Airport both on the way down and the way back up, which was was exactly what we needed: it was cheap, there was hardly anyone staying there, and it had both a swimming pool and separate beds for the kids.

In Devon itself, we no longer stay with the in-laws, but instead reside in a curious timber-built two-level house built by friends of theirs. It gives us a lot more freedom to come and go, and split our time between my wife’s parents and her sister’s family. It was good for our children to spend time with their cousins, and we went on plenty of walks given the weather was so reasonable. New Year’s Eve was spent, like last year, at my sister-in-law’s and I possibly drank a little too much. I know I couldn’t drive the next morning as I’d have been still over the limit. We had a great time though!

Once we’d made our way back home, I was back to work for two days. Thankfully, I’d deleted Telegram from my phone, which is an app that Moodle uses (much) more than email for internal communication. So after posting a 2018 retrospective on my last working day before Christmas, I tried not to think much about all of the stuff we’ve got to do before launching the pilot of MoodleNet in a few weeks’ time!

This weekend, the children are staying over at my parents while my wife and I conduct a financial review. Now that we’re not moving to Barcelona, we’ve got some decisions to make about where we live locally (stick or twist?) and how soon we’d like to aim to pay off our mortgage. Our children are going to turn 12 and eight, respectively, this month, which means it’s a mere six years before our eldest could decide to head off to university.

There’s plenty to look forward to in 2019 for me and my family. My wife’s not working at the moment, and still deciding to what extent she wants to. I say ‘not working’, but I mean in terms of a regular job. For my consultancy and the co-op of which I’m part, she does the book-keeping, organises travel, and generally keeps me sane. I work from home, so I’m grateful that she’s able to tolerate me for extended periods of time!

I’ll be back to the usual format of weeknote from next week, and I’ve already started posting to the Thought Shrapnel blog. While I’m backing up my photos before Flickr deletes them, I think I’ll probably purge some of my blogs as well, linking to archive.org versions of my posts from my wiki. There’s no real need for me to have more than this blog for my personal updates, Thought Shrapnel for reflecting on what I read, and my wiki for everything else.

I hope you have a happy and healthy 2019. I know that’s what I’m aiming for.


Image: around 25 years ago, my sister bought me a mobile featuring a number of what we’ve always called ‘pterodactyls’. I’ve had them up everywhere I’ve lived, and they’re taken down once a year for a careful dusting. I suspect they’re actually cranes.

Weeknote 46/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #324 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled ‘Two steps forward, one hour back’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Thurs):
    • Participating in a Moodle branding workshop.
    • Getting ready for our workweek in Barcelona next week (logistics, booking, etc.)
    • Creating ‘job landscapes’ for a couple of potential additions to our team.
    • Finalising our approach to user testing of the sign-up process with Outlandish.
    • Reviewing the stats for the existing moodle.net with Gavin Henrick and Mary Cooch.
    • Adding a bit more detail to the plan about integrating with Moodle Core.
    • 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!
  • Accepting an invitation from Ilona Buchem to an Open Badges workshop in Brussels next month.
  • Recording two microcasts, which are available only to Patreon supporters:
  • Coming second in a pub quiz in aid of Tearfund. I think that I was the youngest there, so had to lean on the other members of my team…

Next week I’m in Barcelona from Sunday evening to Friday night with the rest of the MoodleNet team and, towards the end of the week, Outlandish.

Weeknote 45/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #323 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter. It was entitled ‘46 hours in transit’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Thurs)
    • Documenting the sessions we ran at MozFest & MoodleMoot on the wiki, and then writing a blog post summary.
    • Creating an overview document of how the ’emoji ID’ functionality in MoodleNet might work
    • Figuring out the workflow for next week’s MoodleNet sign-up testing (being run by Outlandish)
    • Meeting with Gry Stene, Moodle’s new Chief Product Officer.
    • Starting planning ‘job landscapes’ for potential contractors around UX / front end development, and community strategy.
    • Starting a conversation with team leads about MoodleNet functionality in Moodle Core 3.7 (coming May 2019)
    • Welcoming an influx of new people introducing themselves in the MoodleNet forum.
    • Agreeing a new meeting structure for our team, which now includes ‘MoodleNet beers’ on a Thursday afternoon! (I work four days per week for Moodle)
    • Updating my Moodle HQ and moodle.org profiles (which we should all do, apparently):
  • Rewriting one of the seven draft Digital Literacy MOOC scripts for CET Israel. I also created a draft video.
  • Booking, and then cancelling our planned We Are Open co-op meetup in December due to availability. We’re all busy people!
  • Recording one microcast, which is available only to Patreon supporters:
Next week I’m at home all week, working on MoodleNet stuff and those videos for CET. I’m in Barcelona the week after.

Photo of St. James the Great church in Morpeth taken by me on Friday.

Weeknote 44/2018

This week I’ve been:

  • Sending out Issue #322 of my Thought Shrapnel newsletter (last Sunday). It was entitled ‘Back-to-back’ and was, as ever, made possible via those who support me on Patreon.
  • Flying to Denver from London, straight after MozFest, for the US MoodleMoot. It took 22 hours to get there due to flight delays and missed connections.
  • Deciding not to move the family to Barcelona, as the salary from the job offer my wife received was too low, and they wouldn’t negotiate.
  • Working on the MoodleNet project (Mon-Weds)
    • Receiving confirmation that we’ve been successful in pitching for a grant. The money and expertise will help us with a decentralised privacy and security review.
    • Running  a workshop at the US MoodleMoot. I haven’t transcribed all of the post-its from the session yet, but the wiki page for the session can be found here.
    • Confronting some differences in communication styles within our team. This wasn’t easy to deal with as I was away, but hopefully we’ve got it sorted and can move forward.
  • Hanging out with Noah Geisel. He interviewed me for #Badgechat and then I interviewed him for a (public) microcast! I’m indebted to him for showing me some fantastic Denver street art.
  • Meeting Bryan 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.
  • Curating interesting things I came across on the Thought Shrapnel blog:
  • Recording three microcasts, two of which are available only to Patreon supporters:

Next week, I’m at home all week, working for Moodle from Monday to Thursday, and then doing consultancy work on Friday.


Photo of Denver street art taken by me during a walk with Noah on Wednesday morning.

Weeknote 43/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week I’m in Denver, CO, USA for MoodleMoot US. I get back home on Thursday, when I’ll be working on stuff for CET Israel.


Photo looking up the Thames towards London taken by me during a family trip on the Emirates Air Line on Friday.

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