Chris Lowis by Chris Lowis

Week 424

Hello world! It’s my first time writing the Go Free Range weeknotes. There’s a few reasons why we write these notes: they serve as a useful reference for us when we’re looking back, they provide a moment to reflect on the week and how we approach and feel about certain situations, and we hope they are interesting to our friends, clients and onlookers.

James and I started the week working from the Barbican centre (in particular the Benugo cafe in the Barbican cinema). It’s a quiet and fairly comfortable place, but suffers from slightly patchy Wifi reception. While Chris R enjoyed a day in Bath with some friends, we spent unfortunately too long working out why I couldn’t deploy changes to this website. My SSH keys were not being forwarded on to Github, so the server we deploy the site to couldn’t fetch the latest code.

It turns out that this is due to a change with how MacOS Sierra integrates with ssh-agent, which we eventually resolved by adding the following lines to my ~/.ssh/config

AddKeysToAgent yes
UseKeychain yes

A bit frustrating but it’s good to know that Sierra is keeping up to date with the best practices of the upstream OpenSSH project.

We carried on with a bunch of tasks related to Go Free Range taking me on as a new member such as making sure I was added to our pension plan so that we are in compliance with the auto-enrolment rules, and sorting out our payroll.

On Tuesday Chris R joined us at The Office Group Holborn. Harmonia, the system we use to randomly and fairly distribute tasks to our members, chose me to file our Q1 VAT returns - a task made surprisingly straight forward thanks to the documentation James and Chris have written in the past.

We discussed with our CoTech friends about organising a retreat later in the year. It was great to catch up with some of the other members at Open:2017 and we think we’ll continue to build momentum by getting some of the other tech coops together later in the year.

On Wednesday James and Chris worked from home and I spent the afternoon at the British Library after catching up with a friend for lunch. The library is a fairly comfortable place to work but can get fairly busy. I was lucky to snag a comfortable chair and desk and managed to get quite a lot done. We published week links for week 424 and organised our next Show & Tell event.

On the way home I thought a bit about how we use Trello to manage tasks. I’d struggled to understand why some of the things in our todo list were there and on Thursday morning James and Chris explained a few of the tasks to me and we decided to think a bit about whether we want to spin out some project-focused boards to keep some of our ideas out of the day-to-day view we use in Trello.

We went to Aviation House to meet Jack who is handling the contract for the work we are doing at GDS and went through a few procedural details. I’ve never visited Aviation House before and it was fun to see some of the many whiteboards and post-it-notes that I know from their detailed blog posts. I also bumped into an old friend from my days at BBC Music who is now working there.

The three of us went to a meeting with a potential client. It was a good discussion and while we’ve not yet committed to work together we were able to help them out by talking through their project ideas and sharing some advice with them. After the meeting we sent over a few links to projects and ideas that we think are relevant to their work. We retired to the pub at the end of the day and continued a slightly more lubricated discussion about how we work and what we want to achieve in the coming year.

We’ve been thinking a bit about where we want to work. In a lot of ways we miss the offices we had at Worship Street (where I used to spend the occasional day working on my Web Audio side projects before I joined Go Free Range). They were quiet, comfortable and allowed us to host meetups and have visitors. We decided to take a look at one of the dedicated offices that The Office Group have in their St. Stephen Street premises. A four-person office we looked at was bright and spacious - but felt a little bit too much of a commitment at the moment. Instead we decided to upgrade our membership of TOG in order to have access to a quieter, more comfortable “co-working” space and a locker to store some of our stuff. This feels like a good compromise at the moment and has the advantage that we can work close to our current client. We’ll review this in the coming months.

We finished the week by reallocating some of our shares so that we all have an equal amount. My Friday afternoon trip to the dentist proceeded a disrupted journey home due to an unexploded WW2 bomb found near the Overground line.

Until next week!

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