James Adam by James Adam

Week 180

As is my style with weeknotes, I’m not writing from GFR HQ, or even the GDS office, but instead from 7914.29 kilometers away, in Austin, Texas. For those of you who are excited about the Olympics1, that’s 158286 pool lengths. It would only take Michael Phelps 913 days to swim the distance. As they say here in Austin: go big, or go home.

Anyway, enough of that - there’s some serious week-notin’ to be done. Yee haw!


Progress continues apace with our work on Inside Government; we took part in a retrospective with week to iron out some minor issues, but I think we’ve about hit our rhythm in the project again.

This week also marked the last week we’d be working with Paul Battley, who is departing the warm and bouncy halls of GDS for a spell of freelancing work. It’s been a nice reunion for Chris, James M and I, since we worked with Paul during our time at Reevoo, but we all wish him well in his new life free of commute- and office-induced rage.


As Chris wrote earlier in the week, we dusted off a idea we set up a few years ago to explore better ways of following conference conversations on Twitter. It’s called Heylist, and if you’re interested in what’s happening at the Scottish Ruby Conference, which is running as I write, you might be interested in following this Twitter list.

We’re really interested in your feedback; if it’s genuinely useful, we’ll build it out into a proper service. You can, of course, read more about it in our blog post.

Some interim experimental results

Anecdotally it feels like it’s doing a very useful job surfacing meetups and conversations that would otherwise be hidden, from meetup planning:

… to tips about what’s good in the city:

… to just general conversations:

None of those tweets were hashtagged.

I’ve certainly found it an interesting and useful source of hints about what’s being discussed and what people are finding interesting at the conference.

Twitter lists: forgotten child?

That all said – Twitter Lists feel a bit like a forgotten feature. Some clients don’t supporting them well, or even at all; you can’t even view them at all on the mobile web interface. It’s quite possible that they’ll disappear completely as Twitter’s focus moves away from interesting technical features that few people use, towards trends and other monetisable aspects. Remember annotations?

Anyway, please do let us know what you think.


Inspired by recent interest in object-oriented application design both within GFR2 and throughout the Ruby community generally3, James M has started work on a Ruby-based workthrough of the GOOS example application. A few others have approached this in the past, but none appear to have made it to the end. If anyone has the determination to finish, it’s James, and we’re really looking forward to learning from his interpretation. It’s very early days at the moment, but you can follow work on Gosling on github.

Internal daynotes

There’s a reason why most people either have a boss, or work as an individual, and it’s because it makes it easier to determine what you should be doing at any given time. Given we’ve explicitly rejected both of those organisational patterns, we inevitably spend some of our time exploring how to determine what we should be doing with our time. This is a recurring theme for me, as you might have spotted.

Since we’re geographically diverse at the moment (both with me in Texas, and our split between client and GFR-based work), as Tom mentioned last week we’ve been experimenting with using Team Snippets as a tool for communicating what we’ve been working on.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about how it is working out, partially because the summaries we receive are slightly chaotic (what Chris was doing on Tuesday will appear with what I did on Thursday), and partially because I don’t think we’ve nailed down exactly what is interesting content to include. Communication is really important within any company, but I feel particularly with ours, so as always the experiment continues.


This post is getting long, and I really ought to get it published before the end of the week (GMT). Other things that have been happening:

Right. That’s quite enough; time to set this rodeo bull loose.

Have a great weekend, y’all!

– James A.

  1. I may or may not be

  2. A lot of the challenge working on Sauron has been exploring a more object-oriented approach to building a web application, and leaving behind some of the Rails development (anti-?)patterns that we are accustomed to. It’s been quite a challenge so far

  3. See: Matt Wynne’s talk/ongoing conversation, conversations on the LRUG list and on twitter, and even discussions at SRC

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