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Week 742

Last week, I posted my first weeknotes entry. Weeknotes are weekly logs of what we’re up to, which sounds simple enough but I found even after writing up my first one that reflecting upon the past week in a written form helps me to make connections and see what was valuable in a way that I probably wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

I began my first weeknote at 741, making this past week Week 742

First thing on Monday morning, Mark, Mike, Nolan and I sat down together to review our current internal QA processes and see what we could do to make them better. We decided to make QA an important theme for the week, and put together two impromptu teams to come up with recommendations for better approaches and changes. That evening, Mark and I met up with a friend of mine who works as a director of architecture at Fidelity to run some ideas by him over dinner. His input and insight were really helpful–he’s obviously great at managing a technical team–and I hope to put some of his suggestions into practice.

Wednesday was a day of several great conversations. I spent some time individually with Katie and Jason talking about things, and, as is the case when you set aside time to have a focused conversation, learning more about them. Later that afternoon, I published a blog post about our culture’s relationship to technology. It was initially a pretty short thought that came to me after hearing an interview with Chuck Klosterman on NPR, but through the comments string, it became a really interesting conversation that’s given me a lot to think about. Also, a large project Jason and Sarah have been managing for a long while went live! Continental Resources had three sites built by us–specifically by Jason, Sarah, Justin, Jim, and Steve Brock.

Thursday morning, I took some time to meet with a friend of mine at Jessee’s, a coffee shop right up the street from our office. She’s starting a food blog and wanted some advice; our conversation was a lot of fun and I look forward to reading her stuff, which looks like it will include recipes, interviews, and reviews. Later, Mark and I checked in with Mike and spent some time discussing an upcoming project to rebuild our internal project management and admin tools. We’ve gotten great use out of dotProject, an open-source application, but are running on borrowed time now that our database has outgrown its framework. Right before lunch, I briefly met with the leaders of the Triangle’s Project Homeless Connect effort to figure out how Newfangled can support their project. We started a program this year to offer each employee two services days per year that they can use to support any kind of cause like this one, so I’m hoping to gather some people who would like to use their service time with me to help Homeless Connect. Later that afternoon, I sat in on a prototype review for a current project with Steve, Jillian and Dave. We talked a bit about how to simplify a few aspects of the information architecture, but all agreed that it was just about ready for approval–right on schedule and within budget (nice work, guys!).

On Friday, Justin and I spoke over the phone about final plans for our first self-published book, “A Newfangled Guide to Your Website,” which is a collection of our newsletter articles from the past year. Justin has done a wonderful job with the design–I’m really looking forward to seeing it in print and making it available to buy. Later in the afternoon, Katie, Dave, and I met to review their recommendations for QA. They’d spent some time this week putting together a standard site test plan, which will be a great resource for QA moving forward. They also had a few other good ideas for how to continue to build a culture of QA at our company. This will be a really important ongoing conversation for us. Toward the end of the day, I had a brief chat with someone at StackExchange who wanted to share with us a knowledge sharing tool they have in beta right now. It sounds like it could be something we might use at some point.

Saturday: I virtually met a new friend, Michael Babwahsingh, ‘for coffee’ using Skype. I met Michael after stumbling upon a blog post he’d written about things he’s learned over the last decade. I was really struck with the way he was processing the past ten years in terms of personal growth, rather than music, movies or gadgets like so many of the other decade retrospectives I’d seen. Most of his “learnings” resonated with my own experience, too. We exchanged some email after that and finally decided that we needed to meet. Since neither of us had any plans to visit the other’s city anytime soon, we decided that video-chatting could work. And it did! We talked for a couple of hours about all kinds of things, from how we’re molding and shaping our careers to philosophical issues of technology and culture. And, as a friend pointed out to me later, we used the internet for something good!

Other Stuff: I’m looking forward to participating in the RISD graphic design portfolio reviews coming up in March–plans for that solidified this week. Last week, I mentioned having tried out Aardvark–this week they were bought by Google! Also, I heard an interview on Fresh Air, a story on To the Best of Our Knowledge, and an episode of OnPoint all on on cyberterrorism threats. I am…concerned.

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