What next?

Friday marked the end of an enjoyable and productive project that has been the focus of all my attention for the last 18 months. I’ll write more on this another time because there are some lessons worth sharing, but today’s post is about what I turn my attention to next, now I have some time on my hands…

This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows me but I take great comfort in routine and order. I *love* efficient use of time. If I’ve got my daily routines locked-down then I can concentrate on managing the chaos around me. So I have a lot of routines and little games, for example:

  • I like my alarm clock to go off just before the very start of Tweet of the Day on R4.
  • I always pass the same man on my walk to the train station. He walks up the hill as I walk down. I feel I’ve won if I pass him lower down the hill than if I pass him higher up. I’ve never asked if he plays the same game.
  • Finding the perfect position on the platform to line up with the train doors and claim a precious seat, or more likely a bit of carriage to lean against.
  • I know which of the checkout staff in the supermarket are the fastest.
  • There is a “best” way to load the dishwasher, hang up laundry…
  • Frankly I’ve been wondering what to do next with my life. Both my kids pretty much left home this summer so a big chunk of my weekly routine evaporated when they stepped into adulthood. Suddenly I have more freedom than I’ve had for the last 20 years or so, and it’s all a bit daunting.

    A few weeks before the end of the project I can see that my anchors are slipping and I’m drifting inexorably towards an abyss. I *hate* being a passenger, and would much rather be steering through uncharted waters looking for potential adventures. Time for a list.

    Seven pages later and I’ve got a few broad themes and a number of things to experiment/play with.

    Low tech – sometimes paper beats everything

    paper and a notebook
    Paper – the ultimate planning tool?

    For someone who used to spend his time extolling the virtues of the paperless office, I am a big fan of paper. I use paper regularly in my work and I thought I’d put some thoughts together on using paper for information gathering, getting agreement and common understanding. I’ll share some tools I’ve designed or picked-up over the years that help me in these areas.

    Internet of Things

    XBee shield for Arduino
    Making some wireless devices

    Reading is surrounded by IT giants like Microsoft, HP, and Oracle, but has lacked cohesion at a community level. Fortunately there are a few people working hard to build a roots-level tech scene, and I will be lending my support. I want to establish a free to use wireless network (Lorawan protocol) across the town which people can use for connecting their homegrown IoT devices. I’ve been inspired by The Things Network who did exactly this in Amsterdam for a cost of €12k, and are running a Kickstarter campaign to make it even cheaper.

    Towards the Good Life?

    Felicity Ford reading The Shepherds of Sussex
    The good

    I wouldn’t be much of a project manager if there wasn’t a Big Plan. Felix and I need to figure out where and how we want to live over the coming years. We have a lot of dreams, and they don’t all fit neatly together. How can you travel the world in a campervan, and keep a flock of rare breed sheep? Will glamping last or is it a fad?

    So we’re trying stuff out. We have some naughty, mucky livestock:

    Duck in our garden
    The bad

    You have to accept with experiments that you win some, you lose some, and you may not both agree. Felix loves the bloody ducks, me not so much …although I am sorely tempted to install a webcam in there with them because their antics can be hilarious.

    I am planning some construction experiments, working towards building our own Tiny Home. We’re starting even smaller, with the garage roof – something I’ve neglected terribly this past 18 months.

    Garage roof with hole
    The ugly

    In an earlier experiment I learned that gaffer taping corrugated roofing down might be quick, but it isn’t terribly effective! Who knew? It’s fair to say I’m dubious about how well this set of experiments will go, but it’s definitely an area where there’s room for improvement!

    I’m quite a bit more excited about this:

    Homebrew packaging
    Fancy a brew?

    I’ve got what I hope is a great idea for a winter ale that I am looking forward to making in the next week or two. Cheers!


    1. Hoorah for finishing your amazing Big Project, for Efficiency in all things, and for this next phase of Stuff.


      And remember, they do say that if you can’t fix it with duct tape, you haven’t used enough.

      1. Thanks Chas, that’s the very thing I’m looking at. Apparently metal tape at the top, fabric tape at the bottom, and some kind of plastic cover over the ends does the job.

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