• It was the first week of the quarter, so there were kickoff meetings, and planning meetings, and finishing off some documentation tasks from last quarter. Not much of this quarter’s work got started.

  • We found some documentation on the GDS wiki (which nobody ever reads) from some work done on improving search relevancy a few years ago. It covered most of how search worked (at the time), some known problems, and suggestions for the future. We updated it, reorganised it, and went through a lot of iterations to produce some documentation. Given the amount of change, you might wonder why we didn’t just write it from scratch, but it was a useful starting point.

  • We worked out some of the details of doing an A/B test comparing Elasticsearch 5 and 6, and I did some of the set-up work for the test. We’re hoping that this will be the first of several A/B tests this quarter, all aimed at improving our search algorithm. How GOV.UK runs A/B tests is covered in our docs.

  • I got a new line manager, because my previous one is leaving GDS.

  • I’m off all of next week, and will be in York for my Ph.D graduation on Wednesday and Thursday.


  • I finished reading The Historian (by Elizabeth Kostova) which I started a couple of weeks ago. It was good, I thought the story-telling mechanism of having a narrator mixing their direct experiences along with relaying stories, letters, and other records they found worked well. The author has a couple of other books, which I might check out.

  • I’ve started re-reading The Lathe of Heaven (by Ursula K. Le Guin), about a man forced to see a psychiatrist for his drug abuse, and he’s abusing drugs because he believes that his dreams change reality.

  • I’ve been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2 lately. I’ve been playing on-and-off since it launched in 2012, coming back to try out new things. I’ve still not finished playing through the stuff from the Heart of Thorns expansion, which came out in 2015, so I’ve been gradually working my way through all that.

  • I’m still using Firefox, and have just about got used to the differences from Chrome now. Shortcuts keep tripping me up, but I’ve mostly got over fonts looking weird.