2020 - Week 38

Expanding the family

In our continuing search for a new librarian, Anya, Jayne, Claire and visiting printer fixer Michael kicked off Monday morning drafting interview questions. And prompts. And checklists. Then re-drafting them. We now have four questions, numerous prompts and a surplus of things to tick. Interviews to follow shortly.

Procedure mapping

Last week our Jianhan updated our procedure visualisations to take account of his recent implementation of time bound routes. That bit was relatively easy. He needed to take account of the route start date, the route end date and some notion of “now”. This week he ploughed on into the somewhat more complicated arena of work package visualisations. Which need to take account not only of dates on routes but also the actualisation dates on the steps they connect. Taking his cue from the pseudocode written the week before with Anya, Jayne and Michael, Jianhan made a test implementation which Jayne began to test. This led to a conversation about whether and how to show steps actualised with a future date, what to do with routes originating from such a step, and what to do about steps such routes connect to. The decision was taken that steps with actualisation dates in the future should still be shown, but routes and subsequent steps should not. Michael attempted to rewrite the pseudocode to take account of this, with Jayne dictating instructions down the telephone.

Some time before we were all locked in, we’d begun to map a generic motion model for reuse across procedures. In recent weeks Jayne and Michael have been dredging up slightly blurred memories, drawing out what they half remembered they’d half learned. But six months is a long time and six months in lockdown is longer. So this week they rolled out the big guns to sense check their scribblings. On Tuesday, Jayne and Michael welcomed David to Zoom. And on Thursday Anya, Jayne and Michael entertained and were entertained by Mr Evans. Several things became clearer.

What was learnt still needs to be drawn. Mr Evans also sent us on our way with papers to read and homework to complete. It’s the second time in as many weeks that we have benefitted from our experts’ kind interest in our personal development. We note gratefully that this most recent pamphlet came gratis. By this time next week we should be masters and mistresses of forthwithery. We’d like to thank both Paul and Masrur for time and generosity. Fingers crossed for next week.

Jayne and Michael made a few tiny changes to procedure maps and data. A new route was added to everyone’s favourite, the made affirmative procedure, to allow procedure to conclude upon revocation. And the tabling of motions in both negative procedures now merely allow, rather than cause, EVEL consideration.

Anya, Jayne, Claire and Michael met on Wednesday for another of their canters through the procedure Trello board. Michael had wondered out loud and on Twitter if we should be using ID based URIs to link to legislation.gov.uk. And Catherine had replied within minutes that he’d used cURL incorrectly and that he’s probably misunderstood what the ID URIs are for. But very patiently and politely. Thanks Catherine. Assembled librarians agreed with Catherine, and it was decided doing nothing would be the best course of action.

Your weekly egg timer update

If you’ve been following along you’ll know that in recent weeks the only visible bit of Michael has been his bottom, as he continued to fall headlong into the rabbit hole that is the definition of sitting days. This week David confirmed Journal Office Jane’s position that a sitting day extending over two days would only count for one day on the scrutiny clock. A position that was almost immediately quibbled with by Daniel. The question around virtual sitting days hit a new impasse when Mr Greenberg declared that, if a House declared a virtual sitting day to not be a sitting day, he would not like to say how the courts might interpret that in the context of scrutiny periods. All of which led Michael to write probably the oddest set of comments he’s ever committed to code.

Michael has rewritten the monkey patched date class to match current understanding, to the extent that anything is currently understood. The egg timer application has been placed into maintenance mode because nothing works until the assorted flavours of calculation are updated to match the new model. Our Robert returns from vacation next week. So we should have something back up and running shortly.

All about the collaboration

For reasons slightly outside their understanding, Adam has invited Anya and Michael to give a talk at a rules as code event next week. In preparation, Michael battled against a quite furious hangover to stitch together some slides and speaker notes. And the ever helpful Jayne lent a hand by adding Standing Order and legislation citations to our treaty map. Which still need checking by someone more expert than us. It’s probable that Alex will be in receipt of an email next week.

Anya, Robert, Oli and Michael joined Bryn for a session sketching out House of Commons Library services, both external and internal. Which emerged as a Wardley map. Or a Wardley map-ish. The man himself described it as more of a graph than a map. Our excuse is that it’s so much harder to do this stuff on post-its than it is on whiteboards. And we’ve wrecked so many whiteboards we’ve been banned.

Lifelong learning

Librarians Anya, Jayne, Claire and Liz and computational dilettante Michael popped along to their second Lords procedural seminar on Friday. This time delivered by Mr Besley and dedicated to the subject of House membership. At first glance you might think it’d be a struggle to fill an hour on this, but it could in fact probably fill a week. The presentation and presenter were both informative and entertaining. Thanks Nic.