Open Thinkering


Month: May 2019

Weeknote 21/2019

This week has been one of adjustments, for a couple of reasons.

First, my wife is back doing supply teaching, meaning that I have to be more flexible in my working arrangements so that I can drop off and pick up my daughter from school.

Second, two new people joined the MoodleNet team this week, so we’ve take the opportunity to shake things up a bit. Other than me, everyone else on the team will soon be doing 2.5 days per week. So we’ve agreed to have team meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays, doing the bulk of our work together between those times.

This week, however, I was already committed to a co-op day on Wednesday with my We Are Open colleagues. It was enjoyable, even though we were talking about hard things like money. We’ve put a call out for people and organisations to fund Badge Wiki, which you can read about on our blog. Thanks to those who have already stepped up!

Other than that, I’ve helped ship MoodleNet v0.9.3 which is looking good, said goodbye to Alex Casta├▒o, hello to Karen Kleinbauer┼» and James Laver (our new backend developers), done some planning for future releases, and produced a report for the rest of the Moodle Management team.

After a three month hiatus due to playing the magnificent Red Dead Redemption 2 together, Dai Barnes and I have finally got around to recording another episode of the TIDE podcast. Of course, it didn’t quite go to plan and Dai was called away to deal with a pupil (he lives and works at a boarding school) about halfway through the recording.

I’ve been doing plenty of other stuff as well, including writing for Thought Shrapnel every day (are you supporting that yet?), going geocaching with Scouts, taking my daughter to her first swimming gala, booking a family holiday to Iceland in December to see the northern lights, getting better at FIFA 19 Seasons, finishing Jamie Bartlett’s excellent book The People vs Tech, having my last Moodle coaching session (all of the Management team have had them), and trying to fit in daily exercise.

Next week, it’s half-term, and as I hinted at above I’m moving my non-Moodle from Wednesday to Friday. That means I’ve got a glorious Bank Holiday weekend with the in-laws, before spending Tuesday to Thursday planning with the rest of the Moodle Product Managers. I’m not sure whether that sounds intense or pretty chilled.

Weeknote 20/2019

This week I’ve been continuing to go through the hiring process for a new MoodleNet backend developer. Recruitment isn’t easy, particularly when you’re trying to do it quickly, you have to co-ordinate with colleagues in Australia, the people you’re hiring are in different countries, and you’re attending two conferences while doing so.

Despite that, we’ve managed to hire not one, but two backend developers. I’m delighted with both of them, so keep your eyes on the MoodleNet blog for more details!

I’ve also been at the Thinking Digital conference this week, which of all the events I go to, has to be my favourite. That’s quite the statement to make, I know, but it’s uniformly fantastic, and I purchase my Early Bird ticket as soon as they come out. I left, as I always do, feeling inspired about the tech as a force for change in the world.

Recently, I’ve pivoted Thought Shrapnel into being something I write an article for on a daily basis. I’m really enjoying that discipline, releasing what I write first to those who support me on Patreon, and then a week later making the articles available on the open web.

I wrote one post for this blog about the effect of changing the ‘launcher’ on my Android phone at the weekend. You can read that here.

Next week, as a result of the conference, I’ve got an invitation to speak at Newcastle University Business School on the future of technology. I’ll also be onboarding the new members of the MoodleNet team and collaborating with my We Are Open co-op buddies.

Photo of the River Tyne taken by me on Thursday. More of my images can be found on Pixelfed.

Change your launcher, change your life

Update: I’ve since found that Slim Launcher also does a great job!

There’s been an undeniable push recently to re-balance our relationship with our digital devices. Willpower alone doesn’t do it, which is why Apple and Google have introduced features into the latest versions of iOS and Android, respectively, for you to ‘take control’ of your smartphone addiction.

I’m just like everyone else in this regard, except probably more so given that I work in tech and I work from home. My ‘work’ is located everywhere I have a connection.

Light Android Launcher

Recently, after reading about The Light Phone (“designed to be used as little as possible), I mused on the fact that there’s got to be a better solution to device addiction than literally buying another device.

That’s why I had a look both at the F-Droid and Google Play marketplaces for minimalist launchers. I discovered LessPhone and Light Android Launcher. Of the two, I prefer the latter, as it’s both Open Source, and more aesthetically pleasing.

So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been using my usual launcher (the excellent, Open Source, KISS) on weekdays, and Light Android Launcher at the weekends. It’s been great. My most important apps are right there on the home screen, and I can swipe up for the full list. The whole thing is black and white with no icons, so I have to be intentional about what I do on my device at the weekend.

Try it! You might like it.

Sincere apologies to iPhone users: you’re stuck with the launcher mandated by Cupertino. You can’t customise your home screen.