Tag: Weeknotes (page 1 of 5)

Weeknote 30/2019

I’m writing this in my lounge where, when I look up from my laptop screen, I can see a sky the colour of tupperware providing the kind of rain you expect to see in Autumn.

It’s been a strange old week, weather wise. We’ve had days in the high twenties celsius, followed by thunderstorms and now rain. A neighbour’s daughter is getting married today. It’s as if she’s being trolled by the weather.

The first of six summer holiday weeks has gone by as you’d expect with a 12 year-old and 8 year-old in the house. Or, not in the house as much as possible. They’ve been at an athletics camp and church holiday club, respectively, which has kept them busy. I’ve been working more in the house, mainly because my well-insulated home office turns into an oven at temperatures over 20°C.

This time next week we’ll be in the car, driving to Manchester airport to then fly to Boston, MA. This came about, as I’ve been telling people for the last few months, because of a wonderful app called Jack’s Flight Club. The rest of my family have never been to the US of A before, and so when an ‘error fare‘ appeared back in January, we jumped on it straight away! We’re also going to Iceland in December from Edinburgh airport ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Back to this week, and I’ve been doing a bunch of stuff, including in my four days for Moodle:

  • Releasing the clickable prototype of MoodleNet’s UI 2.0 to the community for feedback.
  • Contacting those who have volunteered (so far) for the federation testing programme.
  • Facilitating an internal Moodle meeting at short notice, which included a (very) condensed version of the pre-mortem activity I’ve written about before.
  • Grappling with Moodle Tracker. We’ve realised that sub-tasks get in the way of our workflow.
  • Spent time thinking through an updated workflow for uploading openly-licensed resources to MoodleNet
  • Reviewing a new Moodle ‘How We Do Things Around Here’ course from the People & Culture team.
  • Updating the MoodleNet overview slide deck for July 2019.
  • Doing some quick research into resource-sharing in ALT’s journal.

I’m a big fan of quotations, and perhaps I should start including one every week here. This week, I’ve been thinking about how the delicate act of being a Product Manager is such great practice for being a better human being:

When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.

Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

I published my usual three posts for Thought Shrapnel which this week were:

I also changed the avatar on my social media profiles for summer, after reading a great section of Jonathan Crace’s book 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep talking about ‘everyday life’.

After my move from Linux to ChromeOS (+Linux) at the start of the year, I explained how to get a Linux software centre on ChromeOS, and created a screencast demonstrating a useful search hack.

Next week is going to be successful if my wife and children remain happy, we manage to pack for our holiday without any drama, and MoodleNet remains on-track.


Photo taken by me on a family walk to The Plough at Mitford and back #nofilter

Weeknote 28/2019

As a result of supporting Buster Benson‘s work via Patreon, I’ve unexpectedly found myself on a Discord server with some very smart people. Happily, they also do weeknotes.

I really like the structure of Buster’s weeknotes. First off, each week has a name. Second, and I think this is the best part, he has a section where he looks to the week ahead and says “this week will be good if…”

With only three weeks to go until Team Belshaw goes on holiday, I’m thinking about routines I can get into when I return. I certainly haven’t got the mental or physical energy to make changes right now. It’s heads-down and get through the next little bit.

The reason I like routine is because it helps me control my physical and mental health. So the last couple of weeks haven’t been very helpful at all. I ended up back at hospital at the beginning of the week, convinced there was something seriously wrong with my ribs. They’re still hurting, but given the damage is actually muscular, I’m pleased to say the pain is easing off a bit.

The other thing is that it’s the time of the year where routines to do with my children’s school (and after-school) activities go out of the window. So I was at their sports days this week, there was a summer fayre, and a rain-soaked football tournament on Saturday.

Add in some travel for colleagues at work, end-of-term Scout business, and uncertainty around projects, and you get a heady cocktail guaranteed to give a routine-lover like me sleepless nights.

Anyway, at least everything is making progress, and no balls have yet been dropped. I’m really pleased that we’ve committed to MoodleNet supporting Free Cultural Works by default, and the clickable prototype for the new UI is pretty much done. I’ve also been writing/recording some good stuff for Thought Shrapnel.

So, deep breaths. Not much further to go. If I can ensure that the current 0.9.5-dev sprint completes as expected this week, then the MoodleNet team is set up for success before I go away. (See what I did there?)

Finally, I’m nearly finished reading a new novel by my very talented friend, Laura Hilliger. Entitled Maybe Zombies it’s not quite what you’d expect from the title, and is well worth a read. She’s also looking for a literary agent, if you know a good one?


Image created from a photo I took during a Photo Walk around Morpeth with Scouts on Wednesday.

Weeknote 27/2019

Last week I struggled a little bit with my routine given the pain I experienced with my ribs. I went to hospital on the Monday morning and was told that I’d bruised the muscular wall, but not the ribs themselves. Nevertheless, I was given a cocktail of codeine, ibuprofen and paracetamol to take for 10 days.

That meant no real exercise all week, which really affected me. Without my usual running, swimming, and going to the gym, I became a little lethargic and felt a bit down. I still can’t even do a press-up without pain shooting down the right-hand side of my body.

It also meant that I couldn’t go snorkelling with the Scouts on Wednesday night, something that I was really pleased I’d organised for them. Still, the sunset I witnessed while they were in the North Sea next to St Mary’s Lighthouse was incredible.

On the work front, though, the MoodleNet team managed to fix the problems we’d had with deploying v0.9.4 alpha. In addition, we’ve continued work on the new user interface, and change around some of the ways we work. I’m not a big fan of implementing approaches other than those that work in your particular context. For us, that means outlining everything in a Google Doc, and linking it to issues in the Moodle Tracker.

Due to the pain in my ribs, I was close to not going away at the weekend to finish off my Quality Mountain Days. However, I didn’t want to let down Tom, who had agreed to go with me. I’m pleased I went, and enjoyed our walks and talks. You can read more about that here.

This week I’m taking a half-day today, and then Wednesday as my non-Moodle day. The rest of the time I’m ensuring the MoodleNet team feel supported and have no blockers so that we can release a major update before I go on holiday in a month’s time!

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 Castaño, hello to Karen Kleinbauerů 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 19/2019

I’m writing this from sunny Lisbon, where I’ve been at the Creative Commons Summit. I haven’t got the energy to capture all of the things I’ve seen and learned over the past few days, so check out my tweets from the event and the recording of a Virtually Connecting session I contributed to. Perhaps I’ll discuss it during the next episode of the TIDE podcast, as well.

It was great to catch up with Bryan Mathers, whose session on The Fabulous Remixer Machine was excellent. I used his ‘stamp’ remixer to create the image accompanying this post! I took photos of Lisbon too, some of which are here.

This is actually my second trip this week, as I took my son to the Lake District on Sunday evening. On Bank Holiday Monday we climbed Helvellyn and other peaks, as detailed in this post.

It’s actually felt like three trips. You can’t fly direct from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Lisbon, and I refused to pay the £350 that KLM wanted to fly via Amsterdam. Instead, I used routes recommended to me by Skyscanner to book two Ryanair flights on the way out (via Dublin) and flights via a couple of different airlines on the way back (via Faro). I took the opportunity of a five-hour layover in Dublin on the way out to make a quick visit to the Chester Beatty Library, including sampling the wonderful food on offer at its Silk Road Café.

In terms of Moodle work, over and above making connections and learning at the CC Summit, we’ve released MoodleNet v0.9.2 alpha. We’ve also been interviewing for a new backend developer.

I’m leaving Lisbon tomorrow (Sunday) and get back home in the evening. Next week I’ve got another conference in the form of Thinking Digital. It’s always one of my favourite conferences, which is handy as it’s held at The Sage Gateshead, which is a lot closer to home than some events I go to!

Where are the weeknotes, Doug?

Since publishing my last weeknote at the beginning of March, I’ve published precisely three posts here. It’s funny how, when you get out of a routine, it’s difficult to get it started again. I’m thinking not only of my neglect of my weeknote duties over the past few weeks, but essentially giving up learning Spanish earlier this year as my ‘streak’ on Duolingo came to an end.

I’ve been busy on three fronts over the last couple of months:

  1. Thought Shrapnel — I gave up composing my weekly newsletter for Lent, but ended up spent a long time thinking and researching and writing so I could launch Thought Shrapnel Daily for supporters last week.
  2. Scouts — after stepping up as an Assistant Leader for one of the local groups, a lot of the responsibility has ended up falling on me to organise the programme, etc.
  3. MoodleNet — it’s my day job, sure, but ends up eating into thinking time outside of those hours too.

Meanwhile, subscribers to the TIDE podcast may be wondering why there haven’t been any episodes since the end of February. That’s easy: Dai and I have been playing a lot of Red Dead Redemption 2, one of the greatest games ever created. Instead of pontificating on edtech and the state of the world, we’ve been involved in rooftop shootouts in Western towns. I even streamed some of our gameplay on Twitch.

You know, we keep ourselves busy and feel guilty when we’re not. But, as Caterina Fake points out in a wonderful interview, we should spend some time cultivating our inner life. It’s difficult to do that when everything’s dictated by your calendar and to-do list.

Part of what keeps us busy are tasks that we invent for ourselves. I know that Thought Shrapnel Daily is something I’ve invented that takes hours of my time each week, but these have previously been hours I’ve spent checking Twitter and other social networks. It’s interesting that, when I talk about social networks with friends and colleagues, they feel the same malaise about professional social networking that I do. Perhaps MoodleNet will help with some of that!

It’s now conference season, and I was MC, chaired sessions, presented, and ran a workshop at MoodleMoot UK & Ireland the week before last. Then this week I’ve been at the CoTech Spring Gathering. I’m at home this next week, then I’m off to Lisbon for the Creative Commons Summit. The week after, it’s the Thinking Digital conference.

Now that I’m back in the swing with Thought Shrapnel, I’ll be aiming to resurrect my weeknotes, too. I compose them internally at Moodle as well, and in both situations, people say they’re useful. If only more people took the time to tell people what they’ve been up to.

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 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 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.

Weeknote 36/2018

This week I’ve been:

Next week, I’m working from home on Monday, then in Manchester for the ALT conference from Tuesday to Thursday.


Image from p.118 of the excellent Life in Code by Ellen Ullman

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