2020 - Week 39

Reaching out

Working backwards from the end of the week, on Friday Anya and Michael spent a pleasant couple of hours at a rules as code meetup. At least, as pleasant as things can be when companionship is reduced to faces floating freely in Google Hangouts. Or whatever that’s called this week. They staged an occupation for the first twenty minutes with a talk on modelling procedure, querying for precedent and the joys of turning legislation into software for the purposes of timing parliamentary eggs. Anya’s boss Bryn popped along. Anya and Michael don’t think they’re being performance managed quite yet. The slides are available online, but only really make sense if your screen is big enough to read the speaker notes. Thanks for the invite Adam. And thanks for organising Luke.

Being inveterate late handers in of homework, they decided that the stress of cobbling together a presentation at the back of the bus on the way to school was a lesson they had learnt too often. So Thursday night saw them crouched outside the Crown and Cushion, laptop out, fag ash flying as they put the finishing touches to their talk. Robert, being somewhat more diligent had handed in his new slide designs much earlier in the week. Thanks Robert.

Expanding the family

This week, like last, and most probably like next, was somewhat distracted by preparations for interviewing our candidate librarians. Existing Librarians Anya, Jayne and Claire and gentleman amateur computational expert Michael spent some of Monday and Thursday preparing a presentation to introduce IDMS to the candidates: who they are, what they do and why they do it. HR have been unable to track down a male representative for the interviews, so Michael has been drafted in as a token man. Don’t laugh.

In other family expansion news, we’d like to welcome Oli to the weeknotes fold. We assume, if you’ve taken the time and trouble to click on this and to read this far, you have more than a passing interest in parliamentary data. So does Oli. As do his weeknotes.

On Thursday, Anya and Oli met up with Chris to talk about talking about parliamentary data. Chris has organised occasional and informal meet-ups of interested Commons Library staff, and wanted to pick brains as to what and where next for the group. We’re all set to make new friends in Parliament, bringing together the makers, the modellers, the cleaners, the managers, the analysers and the visualisers.

Procedure mapping

Very little happened in the way of procedure mapping this week. Although Librarian Jayne and Michael did dedicate themselves to some autumnal cleaning and tidied up our Trello board.

In more productive news, we now have permission to add additional Statutory Instrument procedures to the data platform. And the reassurance that, having done so, any work packages created under that procedure will appear on the SI tracker website. As if by magic. We’d like to do a wee bit of testing all the same. Hopefully soon we’ll be seeking permission from product owner JO Jane to add the composite SI procedure. And the accompanying Census SI work package. Which is all quite exciting. If you’re us.

Your weekly egg timer update

Robert returned from vacation, refreshed and reinvigorated. I joke of course. He still looked somewhat tired and careworn. As do we all. Armed with new insights - for some definition of insight - into sitting days and virtual sitting days, Robert and Michael set about renaming some methods in our monkey patched date class, retuning the calculator controller and rewriting calculations from scratch. With one tab tuned to legislation.gov.uk and another tuned to TextMate, they’ve completed work on calculations for treaties and proposed negative statutory instruments. Being certain to cite legislation as they went. Unfortunately, the egg timer runs on a personal Heroku account which has now run out of tokens until the end of the month. So it won’t be possible to test their work until the clock chimes midnight on Wednesday. But the code is, as ever, on GitHub, so if you’d like to mark their homework, please feel free.

Colleagues in the House of Commons Library have been looking at how they might improve search across the three research services, using a Wordpress plugin to do something a little more federated. Robert, Jianhan and Michael thought it might be an interesting exercise to compare efforts with a more scoped version of the Bing powered cross-Parliament search. So this week, Jianhan has turned a little of his attention to what might be possible via a more sliced and diced Open Search interface. We hope to have more news next week.

All about the collaboration

A couple of weeks back, Jason - another of the rules of code coterie - got in touch with Anya and Michael to say he’s a big fan of their work. A big fan. Which is not a thing that happens. As the saying goes, “He who says he hates every kind of flattery, and says it in earnest, certainly does not yet know every kind of flattery”. And neither Anya nor Michael can declare themselves immune. So this week they spent an hour on the telephone to Canada, bending Jason’s ear about the trials and tribulations of modelling parliamentary procedure. All of the trials, and all of the tribulations. Sorry Jason.

Somewhat nerve-racked ahead of their rules as code talk, Anya and Michael dedicated early Friday morning to a chat with Glyn. He’s recently been handed the chalice of Head of HMG’s Knowledge, Information and Records Management. All of it. Which seemed as good an excuse as any to bend his ear about answering bodies, user accounts, join tables and the lack thereof. Lovely, as ever, to chat Glyn.

Lifelong learning

Wednesday saw the latest instalment of the Procedural Seminars provided by clerkly colleagues in the Lords. This time on questions, motions and statements. All things close to our hearts. Librarians Anya, Jayne, Claire and Liz listened intently and came away enlightened. Or at least not confused.

Not being the kind of people who know where to find the off switch, Anya, Emily, Ben and Michael popped along to another ISKO evening event. This time on taxonomies and taxonomy management. It was a series of short talks on different tool sets for auditing and annotating content, some of which looked slightly more useful than others. A fun evening was had by all.