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Weeknote 17/2022

Two ball girls (one is Doug's daughter) running around the edge of the pitch at St James Park.

I came back from holiday this week and caught up with all the things. It’s felt quite busy. Laura‘s now tag-teamed me and is herself now on holiday, sailing for two weeks around the Med. It’s that time of year.

May, I’ve realised, is one of my favourite times of the year. The cherry blossom is out where I live, the weather is usually good in a Goldilocks kind of way (not too hot, not too cold), and the football season is reaching its climax.


Talking of football, I’ve spent the weekend at St James Park, home of Newcastle United. That’s odd, given I’m a Sunderland fan (we’re in the playoffs! I’ve got tickets!), but Team Belshaw snagged hospitality tickets for the men’s game versus Liverpool on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, the women’s team were playing at St James Park for the first time, and managed to attract a record crowd of 22,134, winning 5-0. My daughter is in the NUFC Development Squad so she got to train with the players and be a ball girl!

Thankfully, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, so I’ve got tomorrow to recover. Most of that will be dedicated to improving even further our home internet/network speed. To cut a long story short, I realised earlier in the week that Chez Belshaw is right on the edge of EE’s 5G network. After a bit of a palava at the local EE shop, which included the store manager walking up the road to my house to double-check coverage, we’ve invested in a 5GEE Home Router, which I’ve plugged into our mesh network.

Suffice to say that our internet connection download speed has almost quintupled from ~45Mbps to ~205Mbps. I’ve ordered a directional 5G antenna which, based on other people’s experiences that I’ve read might double that further! The only problem I’ve got now is that I need to do some fiddling with the NAT settings to ensure best performance for gaming. But, of course, the other three members of my family have little tolerance for their connection going down-up-down-up-down…


On the work front, we ran an internal kickoff call for some upcoming work we’re starting with a new client (which I apparently announced too early!) as well as re-upping our contract with Participate for the KBW project. Subject to our proposal being accepted, it looks like I could be in Colorado for The Badge Summit at the start of August.

It’s been end-of-year for WAO which this year is being ably covered by John after Hannah left a few months ago to focus entirely on her work for NHS Digital. So that’s meant some extra admin, but nothing too heavy. I spent a good-ish amount of time on slides for my session at the Learning Technologies conference (#LTUK22) on Open Badges and Verifiable Credentials. It’s not radically different from what I presented in the Netherlands last month, but I’ve tweaked for session length, audience, and to improve the flow.

While I’m in London, I’m looking forward to meeting up with Bryan Mathers and Oliver Quinlan. Oliver has just left his job with the Raspberry Pi Foundation for a new role I don’t believe he has yet publicly announced, and has resurrected his newsletter.


What else? I ran my first 10k for a while, went swimming for the first time in almost a year, wrote a weird (very) short story about ambiguity, unpacked Elon Musk’s words about the Twitter acquisition, took my car to the garage only to find that it was the gauge on my tyre inflator that was broken, went to the gym, started reading The Sea Came In At Midnight, co-worked with colleagues, and drank some beer because I ran out of whisky.

Next week, I’m off on Monday, working from home Tuesday, down in London Wednesday/Thursday, and then finishing things off on Friday. If you’re reading this and are going to at the #LTUK22 conference, please say hello and/or come to my session!

Weeknote 16/2022

I’m composing this in the car as Hannah drives us all back home from Edinburgh airport. It feels like I’ve been driving for a significant chunk of the week in Croatia, and on the other side of the road. Note to self: never buy a Suzuki Vitara.

We flew back from Dubrovnik this morning, a wonderful city in which we didn’t spend enough time. Team Belshaw was based near Podgora in lovely, secluded location. The views, and in particular the sunsets, were spectacular. The only downside was that most things worth doing were in and around Split which necessitated an almost-daily pilgrimage of an hour and a half.

In addition to the driving was the Bora wind which blew hard for about 12 hours on two days. We also experienced an earthquake on our last night! All of that aside, we had a great time. There was enough sunshine to enjoy the (heated) outdoor pool, and having a table tennis table is always fun.

One of the highlights for me was unexpectedly being able to snag tickets to Hadjuk Split‘s football match against their main rivals, Dinamo Zagreb. The stadium, the atmosphere, and the policing(!) is unlike anything I’ve experienced in the UK. The hosts, Hadjuk Split won 1-0 and at one point we could barely see the pitch due to the number of flares being set off. Crazy.

I managed to go for a couple of 5k runs along the seafront while we were away. We travelled to the island of Hvar along narrow roads with precipitous drops. I read an entire non-fiction book on the flight back. My son and I went to an interactive communist history museum. Lots to unpack in the coming days.

Despite adding a few posts to Thought Shrapnel while away, and tomorrow being the last Sunday of April, I’m actually going to send out the next issue of the monthly newsletter on May 1st. (I also wrote a post here about unauditible algorithms.)

I’m back to work on Monday and want to make the most of the remnants of my third and final week off. I’ll have some catching up to do and need to get my head back in the game. I’m presenting at the Learning Technologies conference in a couple of weeks so I need to start preparing for that. It’s been great having long enough off (and having awesome enough colleagues) to fully unwind!

Weeknote 15/2022

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it! This has been the second of my three weeks off work this April. I’m also planning to take three weeks in August, as well as all of December off.

As planned, I mostly spent this week recovering from walking Hadrian’s Wall and doing DIY. I’m not sure if it’s because I walked it so quickly or because I’m getting older (or both) but it pretty much took me a full week from last Thursday to recover.

I’ve painted the decking, stained the fence, drilled and screwed things, listed stuff on eBay, and have generally been on-hand while Hannah worked and the kids were off school. I had visions of playing a lot of video games, but that didn’t really materialise. Two things I did do, though, were to install Asahi Linux on my Mac Mini M1 and to read the excellent novel Drive Your Plow Over The Bones of the Dead. My favourite highlights are here.

Team Belshaw is currently in Croatia after an early-morning flight on Saturday morning. We drove up the coast from Dubrovnik to a little place near Makarska. The photo at the top of the post was last night’s sunset. The view over the Adriatic Sea is magnificent.

The Bora wind started blowing last night and is just easing off now a bit. It’s due to return, though, later in the week. In the meantime we’re planning to explore Split and the Dalmatian coast, do a lot of reading, eat lots of good food, and generally (as my teenage son would say) ‘vibe’.

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