Weeknotes for 2021 week 01

These notes are for the working week Monday 4 January to Friday 8 January 2021. 

I’m your host James, let’s play! 

Last September I made a career change which had 2 benefits. First I went part-time so I could study mathematics and second I started a job share with the awesome Jen Oliver. We’re half way through our first 6 month contract with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) so it’s time to start applying for new roles. 

Thanks to the confidence Jen instills in me, we’ve been applying for various lead, senior and head of delivery roles around government. This isn’t something I would have done alone. The good news is that over the holidays (we both took the full 2 weeks off over xmas and new year) we landed our first interview which took place this week. It’s for a Senior delivery manager role in the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Digital team

Like exams, interviews make me incredibly nervous. I’ve suffered with anxiety all my life and was eventually diagnosed with Bipolar affective disorder and Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (AHDA). 

So imagine my surprise when the DWP offered the interview questions upfront, taking a large chuck of the stress out of the process. Now imagine my even greater surprise when MoJ listened intently to my request for the interview questions, and within 24 hours had agreed to email them to me the day before the interview. 

So they could meet the Civil Service Commision’s principles on conducting fair and open recruitment, they also did the same for all other applicants. 

After the interview had finished, I certainly felt like I’d shared some relevant experiences that related to the questions. 

However, there was also an exercise I had to do before the questions which I could have done better. I can’t share the details because MoJ Digital reuse the exercise for other interviews, but it was a 15 minute presentation similar to other interviews I’ve done.

Jen was due to interview the same day as me, but new pandemic restrictions brought in by the government made that unfeasible. Hopefully she’ll interview next week and then MoJ will see that together we make an impressive job sharing team. 

Math self-study over the holidays has progressed slowly, but class resumes next week (albeit remotely). We’ll be starting with Numeric Methods on Monday, so in private tuition this week I got a jump on the subject. The first exercise on finding roots, or rather implied roots, seems straight forward. 

I’m looking forward to class restarting but are already fielding technical questions from classmates about how to join Microsoft Teams meetings. The college uses Google Classroom which comes with Google Meet, which we used when lockdown started. 

But we quickly swapped to Zoom after I offered to set it up and we had more success than Google Meet. Now that we’ll be using Teams, I’m interested to see how we’ll be using the Whiteboards during lessons and the Chat function between lessons. 

This brings me to my last thing this week - leaving WhatsApp - who's new terms and conditions become mandatory on 8 February. It means more data from WhatsApp will be sent to their parent company, Facebook. 

I don't trust Facebook. I don't believe that they have my best intentions at heart. By extension I don't like using their products. I stopped using the main Facebook product a few years ago and left Instagram more recently. That just leaves WhatsApp which I currently use daily. 

Leaving wil put a burden on all the people I currently use it to converse with. But there are now some mature alternatives that take privacy very seriously and don't currently sell user data. 

More importantly for some of the people I converse with, alternatives like Signal are easy to install, setup and use. So that's the one I've chosen to swap to. The fact that I got this from Terence Eden seals the deal: 

Screenshot of WhatsApp message.

Screenshot of WhatsApp message.

That's it for this week.