Big news is coming but at the moment I have to be Secret Squirrel

Mon 27 Nov – Sun 3 Dec 2017

cartoon character secret squirrelMy lovely blog readers. I should have some big, big news for you in the near future. But at the moment I need to keep my cards close to my chest (what a lovely old saying). I’m at the stage now where I’m really excited with what’s ahead in whatever direction things go. More details soon and a secret to be revealed. 🙂

Tech for Good


Dave is backVery busy last week because the Tech for Good 2018 grants programme is open. Don’t forget closing date for submission of (video) applications is midday on Wed 20th Dec. Me and my job-share Nissa have been working hard on dealing with enquiries about applying, organising the Jan shortlisting process including other people in our organisation, and (in an agile manner) refining the application web page as we become aware of faults as well as ways it can be improved. Improved web page can be found here.

What was lost

when only bed can helpLargely because of my big secret, I had to miss several events this week. Though some were also simply because there is too much on and I feel like I could spend my whole life going to things. I feel knacked and need to be careful not to overdo things so I can get the important stuff done. There’s a theory that long-term HIV infection leads specifically to tiredness, I’m 50:50 whether that’s true noting how tired many close friends feel these days who aren’t HIV. I wonder if this is linked to the fact that productivity is declining in the UK whilst it improves in our competitors. Could it be to do with our fixation on long working hours?

Missed late afternoon / evening events last week:

  • Community Squad on Mon – monthly meeting of funders and agencies interested in Tech for Good
  • ICT4D meet-up on Tues night – Ronda’s and Dama’s regular meet up to support not-for-profit use of tech in the Global South
  • WordPress London and Citizen Beta on Thurs night – the former is a monthly meet-up for people using WordPress (tbh, I think most attendees are more advanced than me) and the latter is Josh Russell’s gathering for people interested in civic tech (using tech to support and promote democracy and civic participation)

Wed was particularly bad

Also missed was what I had lined up for Wed afternoon and evening. Two excellent things but there was no other option as that was a crucial time I needed to be doing something else. First, the catch-up with Nominet Trust and the Stoke Wavemaker people to discuss how the latter is doing. My funding of it is coming to an end so I am really interested to know their plans for 2.0. And then the NT100 celebration event that took place in the evening at the Royal Festival Hall. A great line-up of speakers and there would have been so many people there I know. 🙁 I hope my colleagues will appreciate my absence once they know my secret.

Other Tech for Good stuff

Three things to record for last week.

SXT Health

First, the start-up conference call on the exciting new HIV tech project funding (in partnership with the MAC AIDS Fund) the development of the online notification and testing service run by SXT Health which is lead by the clinical lead in Sexual Health at Guys & St Thomas’ Trust. The aim is to identify people at risk of catching HIV because they have had unsafe sex with someone who is positive but not on treatment (i.e. newly detected). The service aims for faster testing and priority access to sexual health services.

The in-house digital team

Catch up with Faye from in-house digital team about working together between our respective teams on shortlisting the TfG18 applications in Jan. The cunning strategy is like last time to produce a longlist of the 50 best video applications which will be put into the public domain to inspire and encourage partnership working. Also other funders might pick up projects I don’t fund (so it’s like a digital market place). We will then shortlist 22 of the long list to be assessed for a grant of which 12 will receive funding.

Umesh Pandya

Great to see Ume who I first met when he was working on Wayfindr which was funded under our first Tech for Good programme as a tech intervention to help people with visual impairments. He’s freelancing now and wanted to pick my brains on how I think charities could be doing tech better. A nice bloke and a recommended manager for tech projects.

World AIDS Day

This happened Fri last week. Perhaps not as big a thing as it has been, still a key point to push important messages. And always lovely to see so many people in real-life and on TV wearing red ribbons. Key messages this year seemed to be around two main points.


First, the importance of recognising that there is still stigma around being positive. That stigma stops people getting tested and getting treatment; without that then the virus keeps spreading.


Second, and linked to the first, is the importance of U=U Undetectable=Untransmissable. Someone with the virus and receiving treatment that means they have an undetectable viral load (that’s me!) cannot then transmit the virus no matter what kind of sex they have. Treatment as prevention is why we are seeing a drop in people catching the virus at the moment.

Health and Efficiency


Decided I really wanted to go for my jog-run on Sat rather than Sun. So up around 6.30 for my coffee at the early opening Starbucks. Then out with my new secret weapon. I found a hat on the tube and decided to wear that for my jog-run. But I left off my jogging bottoms as my legs get warm doing exercise. And it worked brilliantly. The hat kept my head and body warm on a cold morning. Took the hat off after 7.5 km as I was very sweaty. Decent result for 10K: 1 hour, 3.10 mins – not my best ever time but a min and nearly 30 secs better than last week. The video after my jog run can be viewed on my video page here.


barbell with weightsAmazingly I managed to get to the gym 4 mornings last week. Although good gym attendance meant I didn’t get a yoga session in. No treadmill time, rather I concentrated on different body areas (either upper body or core + legs) on alternate days and didn’t spend more than 45 mins exercising.

Personal Development

depressed personSo much going on this week that my emails went to pot – work numbers up to 200 to deal with / respond to whilst personal went +300 unread. I spent the weekend focused on them and made some progress. I am not going to give up and just do a mass delete.

Duolingo disaster after making progress the previous week and no coding practice. Can’t emphasise how much I had to take evasive action last week to create time to deal with my top secret urgent stuff.

Books and Reading

Couple of interesting books read last week. And on Sun I had a therapeutic trip to the exchanges in Notting Hill. Took up couple of big bags of books read, DVDs watched, and CDs listened to. Got vouchers and bought new ones.

‘The Long Cosmos’ by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

The fifth in the series of Long Earth stories. Basically a way is found to move between alternate versions of Earth and these books detail what results from that. The tension between those who stay on the original (Datum) Earth and the other beings encountered that developed on the alternate Earths. The lovely thing about these books is that they represent some of the last writings by Terry before he died albeit in partnership with Stephen Baxter.

PSir Terry Pratchettrobably not the best of the 5 books, it actually feels a bit ‘cut and paste’ in terms of several different stories being forced together. There’s also a fair measure of schmaltz with cheeky but clever American orphan, harsh nuns, plucky English people, etc. The fundamental story is about us being contacted by aliens and the ensuing debate on how to respond. There is a definite element of optimism and Terry’s hope for a good outcome for humanity in the future.

‘Gorsky’ by Vesna Goldsworthy

All the way through reading this book, I kept thinking it was very similar to The Great Gratsby. Then at the end the author had a short essay stating how this was based on that book. It also reminds me of The Go-Between with the central character in both these books being used as a go-between and thinking that he is in control whereas the reality being that he is being controlled and manipulated by far more powerful people who don’t really care about him.

The KremlinSet around Russian oligarchs in London, at times it feels vulgar like wealth porn. Where all we are meant to do is lust after the lives of these rich people. Plus it reads like a short story because the characters aren’t sufficiently developed. This was promoted as a great book, it’s OK but I’ve read better.

Dr Who Audio Adventures

‘Antidote to Oblivion’ (sixth Doctor + companion Flip)

actor who plays Sil in Dr WhoEntertaining because it features a special enemy: Sil, the creepy money-obsessed alien. Brilliantly portrayed by Nabil Shaban, an actor with disabilities. The story is reminiscent of 1980s Dr Who taking on Thatcherism. It’s about a future unequal UK turning to the idea of releasing plague to wipe out the poor.

The week ahead

  • News expected next week that hopefully I should be able to share with the world
  • Dave’s farewell party at his workplace as he takes early retirement at the end of Dec. About 150 people going so it should be a good affair.
  • Full 0ffice days on Tues and Wed: tech meetings, phone-calls with potential Tech for Good applicants, and signing off on the CrowdMatch grants
  • Attending an event with 360 Giving on Mon and then with Good Tech Lab on Thurs afternoon
  • Hopefully starting to attend some Christmas events – I think the church of my friend who is a priest has a carol service on Tues evening and on Sat night the Non-Such Singers are singing at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square
  • Aim is for a jog-run next weekend and 3 or 4 gym sessions – if it’s 4 then that means I won’t be doing yoga
  • I am going to get on top of emails and do both language learning as well as coding practice
  • At least one more book read as well as some Dr Who listened to
  • It’s Velvet Page Book Club on Thurs but that clashes with the work’s Christmas quiz 🙁

And finally…

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