Wordle Analysis

Great bit of Wordle analytics from Robert Lesser – Wordle, 15 Million Tweets Later. Wordle has shown amazing growth thanks to it’s social sharing and it’s the tweets that Lesser has analysed.

4.1 is the average guess

With the average score being 4.1 I’m just under that for the year at 3.9 with a pretty similar distribution.

My Wordle guesses for 2022

So far, no 1’s, little 2’s and luckily no strikeouts yet. Still enjoying the daily challenge and shared experience which hopefully won’t end up behind a paywall.

2021 Apple Report Card

Earlier this week Jason Snell published his 2021 Apple Report Card. His annual report is a great read for anyone in or around the Apple ecosystem.

The scores don’t highlight any surprises but the comments from those surveyed do highlight a few issues. iPad is hampered by it’s operating system, not the hardware which is industry leading and matches much of the new Mac’s. Apple TV is the biggest rise year on year and thats thanks to the new remote. Its still too expensive and limiting for what it is. As for HomeKit it feels like it’s been abandoned.

Apple’s hardware is in a great place…but it’s software is letting it down.

So Long 2021

Like most things with the blog, I’m late to my 2021 wrap up post. Last year was deja-vu from 2020. Still mostly working from home, covid still dominating and much of the focus was on staying healthy and following the rules with the big difference being covid vaccines and hopefully a path to living with covid thats a bit more normal than what we’ve had for the last two years.

Fitness

I’d no big plan for 2021 apart from keeping my daily walks going while working from home. Thanks to Chris doing a virtual Lands End to John o’ Groats walk through the year I thought I could up my walks to do a little bit more each day/week.

2020 vs 2021 walks

Around the end of August I realised that if I’d been a bit more ambitious I could hit 2000km for the year so I upped the distance and also the pace.

Monthly distances through 2021

Boom – 2000km hit by mid December. I find the walking essential as it clears my head, gets me out of the house and also helps with the ever constant weight battle – more on that next. Would love to get back to running but thats not an option at the moment. As for 2021, more of the same. Want to make 2000km again and maintain the pace.

Health

As well as following covid rules and getting vaccinated as soon as it was available one issue I had was my weight. Through 2020 and then the first half of 2021 my weight was slowly creeping up. A weird weight loss at the end of 2019 had masked the gradual weight increase but hitting 91kg in July from a maintained low of around 83-84kg was the kick up the arse I needed.

Summary of health through 2021

Over the last 6 months I cut out some of the extra’s (bread!) I was having and coupled with the walking + pace increase has seen the weight drop back down to 83-84kg. Really pleased to get back down into that range. 2021 aim – maintain!

Not so good was sleep towards the end of the year. Through November and December I ended up averaging 4-5 hours sleep per night which is nowhere near enough and miles away from my normal of 7 hours. Can’t really call out a strong reason why although suspect work pressures/stress were the major contributor. Frustratingly the year ended badly with a real flair up of the chest illness I had a few years ago. So I’m back at the doctors and awaiting blood test results. It’s not stopped the walks although I have had to drop the pace a little but one by product is I can sleep all the hours. I wonder if the lack of sleep has ended up causing a relapse? Time will tell.

Media

Thanks in part to covid and also the massive amount of money being invested due to streaming, TV now dominates film for me. There’s just too much TV to watch although I had a good go through the year in watching it all.

My most watched networks

Surprising was how much the BBC and Ch4 dominates my watch time although many of the other networks you could lump together as Sky in the UK. Some shows that I watched and enjoyed through the year were:

  • Ted Lasso – season 2 was never going to live up to the season 1 hype but was still an enjoyable watch
  • The Expanse – season 5 and most of season 6….only one more episode left before it comes to an end! One of the best shows out there.
  • Line of Duty – another show that was never going to live up to the hype but still enjoyed it
  • Cobra Kai – a really easy but enjoyable watch
  • For All Mankind – best show on Apple TV+ – season 2 was excellent and a step up on the first
  • Vigil – enjoyed it especially the location spotting in Glasgow and the West Coast
  • Wandavision – outstanding – loved it
  • Loki – like a good season of Doctor Who with a bigger budget although the end underwhelmed
  • Great British Bake Off – classic season although still maintain Jürgen was robbed
  • The White Lotus – great to watch although not sure it landed the ending
  • This Way Up – cracking comedy/drama on Ch4
  • Showtrial – Another beeb drama that kept the suspense going week to week
  • It’s a Sin – stunning. If you watch only one thing from 2021 make it this. Joyous and sad at the same time.
  • Succession – essential, even just to hear another Fuck Off

Also binged Halt and Catch Fire from a few years back and highly recommend it. Next on the list of classics for me to tackle – The Soprano’s or The American’s…but I’ve got a few things from last year to finish off first.

As for films, Zack Snyders Justice League was surprisingly good, No Time To Die was a great end to Daniel Craigs Bond run and Dune was stunning…roll on part 2.

Games had a better year. Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite came out in the last couple of months and have been excellent. Most surprised by Halo after the delay in 2020 and the worries around the graphics and the studio. Returnal on the PS5 is a pretty stunning game to look at although I do struggle with the gameplay. I’ve got Metroid Dread to play plus a couple of PC and Xbox games but I’d say 2021 has been one of the best years for games in a long time…and 2022 is looking just as strong if not more so.

And finally a shout out to a simple game thats taken the internet, and Twitter, by storm – Wordle. A daily word puzzle that has no ad’s, no multiplayer, no in app purchase. I love it especially the sharing on twitter by fellow players and trying to work out their opening words/moves.

My effort from today:

Wordle 204 3/6

🟩🟨🟨⬜⬜
🟩🟩🟩🟨⬜
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Tech

A strange year of virtually no tech purchases. Thanks to a power cut at home I needed to buy a new printer, and I hate everything to do with home printers so that was a real grudge purchase. Mid December and my iMac failed which turned out to be a failed logic board (maybe power cut related???) so that was an expensive fix too. The only notable new tech this year was the Oculus Quest 2 which I picked up late December. Not used it much but surprised by how good the visuals are and how easy it is to use untethered from a PC.

One area I did invest in was upgrading my NAS, not by buying a new one, but upgrading the RAM and replacing all the drives as I had virtually no capacity left. My Synology is almost 7 years old but still supports the latest software releases and with the extra RAM and faster drives, Plex and also a couple of docker images are running better than ever.

2021 saw no new Apple purchases – so still using the iMac from 2017, iPad from 2018, Apple Watch from 2018 and the iPhone from 2020. 2022 will be different though. Really want to move to a new Mac with an Apple processor and leave the Intel to PC’s. Will wait for iMac and Mac Mini updates in 2022 before making a decision but leaning towards the Mac Mini and another monitor rather than heading down the iMac route again. Also expect to pick up a new Apple Watch in September/October but still undecided on the iPad as it’s still doing everything I need it to do so might squeeze out one more year.

As for other tech, if I could lay my hands on a new PC graphics card I could be tempted into an upgrade. A new camera to replace my Fuji XT-2 is also on the radar as I’m a couple of generations behind…but thats an expensive 2022!

Themes

As before I don’t do resolutions but look for overall area’s to improve or focus on. One that stands out is simplifying both in and out of work. Juggling a lot and need to focus on the things that matter and drop the rest. Second area is on health and focussing a bit more on understanding me, my body and also my diet. That’s a challenge but the biggest improvement would be to have a more positive and normal year. Fingers crossed.

Think Big, Work Small

How does your team work?

Some companies only work big. Large, prescriptive projects with no incremental value delivery, no experimentation, and infrequent integration. Efforts advance at a glacial pace. Scope expands to fill the available time, and then some. And the work “on the roadmap”? That work gets bigger and bigger as well through a cycle of disappointment, fear, and planning overcompensation. 

Some companies only work small. They sprint in circles. The work lacks coherence and feels scattershot. There’s a perception of progress, but looking back the team sees a lot of disjointed, reactive work. The resulting experience is incomplete and imbalanced. But management applauds the team(s) for being responsive, and the cycle continues. Plus… more features to sell! 

Some companies define big, and work small. Large, prescriptive projects get broken into many small pieces. Think of this as a combination of #1 and #2. The team works small and integrates frequently, which reduces risk and accentuates progress. But there is little room to respond to learning and feedback. Design work is more set-in-stone, and less strategic. Like a big lego set, it is placing tiny pieces according to the plan. What if the finished lego set is the wrong lego set? What if 20% of the work represented 80% of the value? Then again, the team is applauded for finishing “big things”.

Finally, we have thinking big, and working small. The team rallies behind a compelling mission linked to a coherent strategy. The mission is outcome/impact oriented. The team contemplates a vision for the holistic experience but works with broad strokes. They sequence work with the riskiest assumptions first — experimenting, testing, and learning. This is not a ship-and-forget or a ship-and-maybe-in-a-year-we-come-back operation.

For items 1-3, note how incentives can hold these ways of working in place. Big prescriptive projects look bold and compelling. High velocity is intoxicating. Rapid progress on big prescriptive projects …exciting!

Thinking big, and working small is more nuanced. There’s more acceptance of uncertainty. There’s less set in stone. There’s an art to framing a mission to leave space for creativity, while also capturing the opportunity. 

Start by figuring out where your company tends to work right now. If you only work big, then start working small. If you are only working small, maybe start by defining the bigger thing. If you’re working small and defining big things prescriptively, then start easing off that level of prescriptiveness focus on missions and strategies.

From The Beautiful Mess – Think Big, Work Small

Better Experiments/Pilots

Scoping a pilot or experiment is often ignored and before you know it you have a production solution masquerading as a pilot. This article from John Cutler helps.

  1. Set aside ~90 minutes.
  2. Pick a problem or observation. 
  3. Read and discuss the dimensions described below. For each dimension, brainstorm example experiments representing the “extremes”. These don’t need to be real. Have fun.
  4. Optionally (as demonstrated with L+ and R+), chat about how the extremes could be considered positive.
  5. Return to the problem or observation. Ask individuals to brainstorm 1-3 candidate experiments to address that problem or observation. 
  6. Ask team members to individually describe each candidate experiment using the ranges below.
  7. As a group, discuss each experiment, and where each team member placed each experiment.
  8. Finally, ask team members to dot vote on the best-fit experiment (for the given context). Discuss ranking. Ideally, pick an experiment to try.

Local | Global

How containable (or localized) is the experiment?

L+: Localized impact, fewer dependencies, less visibility/oversight/meddling.

R+: Broader impact, more support, more visibility.

Flexible | Rigid

Will it be possible to pivot the experiment on the fly?

L+: May be easier to sustain. More adaptable to changing environments and new information.

R+:May be easier to understand, teach, support, and promote.

Short Duration | Long Duration

How long must the experiment last to provide meaningful information?

L+: Less disruptive. Easier to pitch. Faster feedback.

R+: More time to “simmer” and pick up steam. Commitment.

Invitation | Imposition

Will the participants be invited to take part in the experiment, or will the experiment be imposed?

L+: More intrinsic motivation. More vested in outcome. “Advocates for life!”

R+: Speed. Less need to “sell” change. 

Small Shift | Large Shift

Will the experiment represent a small change from how things currently work, or will it feel foreign and new? Perhaps different participants will experience different degrees of change.

L+: Easier. Less disruptive. More potential to “pick up momentum”.

R+: “Get it over with”. Less chance of getting stuck in local maximum.

Self-powering | Requires “fuel” & external support

Can the experiment sustain itself without outside support and resources, or will it require external support?

L+: Independent. Easier. Can be sustained indefinitely.

R+: Involves and “vests” broader group in the effort. 

Value in 2nd/3rd order effects | Risk in 2nd/3rd order effects

Second and third order effects are common when running an experiment. Is the experiment expected to “throw off” potentially valuable 2nd/3rd order effects? 

L+: Discover valuable things!

R+: Risk may be necessary to explore new areas of uncertainty.

Fewer dependencies, lower blast radius | 
More dependencies, higher blast radius

How independent/dependent is the experiment on other things (people, projects, systems, processes, etc.) in the org?

L+: Independent. More degrees of freedom. Less constrained.

R+: Potentially more impactful. Potentially more involvement and support.

Shorter feedback loops | Longer feedback loops

How easily and quickly can we get feedback?

L+: Can respond more quickly. Can pivot experiment more quickly.

R+: May be less noisy. May provide “deeper” or more cohesive information.

Low threat to formal structures/incentives | Challenges formal structures/incentives

Does the experiment represent a threat to formal power/incentive structures?

L+: Can fly under radar. Consider “safe” and non-threatening.

R+: May be less likely to test (and change) formal power/incentive structures.

From The Beautiful Mess – Better Experiments

WWDC 2021

Tomorrow see’s the start of the Apple year – WWDC. I always look forward to the event as it sets out the direction for all of Apple’s platforms and hints at future hardware. We are 9 months into the transition to Apple silicon so lots of hardware rumours, iOS is mature so what will be new this year and will we see anything hardware related with AR/VR?

What I expect to see:

  • New MacBook Pro’s with faster Apple chips.
  • iPadOS will surely see some improvements. The new IPad’s have so much power and the platform is let down by the software. Question is what? Hopefully a widget system that matches iOS as last year it was strangely hampered compared to the new powerful widgets you could use on the iPhone. Productivity improvements? Windowing? Better external display support? Some more borrowing/sharing features between MacOS? Not sure but if there’s not a focus on iPadOS that will be a major disappointment.
  • iOS – improved customisation after last years widget hit. So widgets improved, more flexibility across the whole of iOS as well. Expect to see improvements to Messages and FaceTime as well as they’ve been used so heavily through the pandemic.
  • watchOS – improved customisation perhaps? More around complications rather than full custom watch faces. That feels like a dream that will never land. Also expect to see more on health although that may need new hardware later in the year.
  • macOS – the first WWDC with Apple Silicon in the wild so what improvements will we see here? I’m hoping Control Centre will see further work including letting third parties use it. Maybe Shortcuts will make an appearance to further blur iOS and macOS?
  • Music – still think there’s more to come around audio. Apple made their lossless announcement but listen back options are limited. So surely there’s a part 2?

What I want to see:

  • New Mac Mini and the larger iMac. I’m plotting to upgrade to Apple Silicon this year from Intel so I’d like to see my options rather than plump for a device and then have regrets. However with iMac’s only recently being released I can’t see the bigger one launching.
  • Apple Monitor – one that isn’t > £5k
  • Let me customise Apple One and pick the services in the low to middle tier
  • iCloud – backup my Mac and also increase the storage limits without increasing cost – feels very tight when Apple is the richest company in the world
  • Apple Card in the UK
  • Apple address developer discontent and drop App Store charges…and throws them a bone around payment services
  • homeOS – lots of rumours around this and it’s something Apple could really do with improving. But what’s it for? HomePod’s? Apple TV? New devices?
  • A glimpse at the AR/VR hardware

24 hours from now we’ll have all the answers. Can’t wait.

Covid Jag

I’ve been jagged. On Friday I drove out to Milngavie and got my first dose of the Covid vaccine. No waiting, slick process and didn’t even feel the needle. I got the Pfizer vaccine although I’d have no problem getting any version. Science is getting us out of this covid mess and I couldn’t wait to get my jag. Big thanks to the NHS staff and all the helpers – what a difference they are making.

So far the only side effect is I’ve been slightly more tired than normal but I’ve not needed to head to bed or anything. I also had a slight sore head on the afternoon of the jag but a walk and some fresh air soon cleared that…and I get sore heads at the best of time so I’ve no idea if it’s related.

Role on May 21st when my body will have built up more immunity and mid August when I’ll have had the second jag and be as immune as I can be without actually getting covid.

The biggest question though…jag or jab? I’m in the jag camp.