Weeknotes: 098

Work

I’m still trying to get the hang of figuring out how much technical work will get done in a sprint, I find I over- or under-estimate it every time. Though, we’re not really working in sprints, in that the end of a sprint isn’t anything significant at all—we’re not shipping a new version, giving a demo, or anything like that—it just marks when our regular planning meeting is. At least for the development work. User research and design work do seem to be moving on a much more regular cadence.

I find my natural approach to technical work is more like kanban, where there’s a roughly prioritised backlog which people just pull work from when they need a new task. I’m yet to be really convinced of the benefit of sprints.

In terms of what we actually worked on this week, that’s perhaps not too exciting without knowing details which I can’t share yet. But I hope I’ll be able to reveal more concrete information (and start linking to GitHub repositories) some time this month. No promises though.

Books

This week I read:

  • Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson, the second of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. It was good, definitely had better characterisation than the first book, but it wasn’t quite to the point of it being like it had been written by a different person, as some have described the difference.

  • The Atlas of the Land by Karen Wynn Fonstad, a map of the places of Stephen R. Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I’d had this one on the go for a couple of months. Despite being under 200 pages, I found it hard to sit and concentrate on the maps and descriptions. I’ve discovered I really like this sort of worldbuilding in a story, but by itself it’s just a bit too dry.

    It also reminded me of the inconsistency in worldbuilding between the first two chronicles. In the first, The Land is the only place really talked about, with almost no mention of places over the sea (just the ancestral homeland of the giants, I think), and The Land is portrayed as the spiritual centre of the world: it’s where the evil overlord is, after all, and the wise lords who oppose him. Overseas trade never comes up. The only foreigners—the Haruchai—are from a different country on the same landmass. But then in the second chronicles we discover that The Land is really just one small part of the world, that there are other nations, and they have extensive sea trade networks. It’s not just the giants who traverse the oceans, it’s men too. So why is The Land totally disconnected from this global network?

  • Volume 12 of Overlord by Kugane Maruyama, which finally arrived this week. God knows when volume 13 will be available; the English releases seem to be lagging about 3 years behind the Japanese, so maybe late next year some time.