First Week Back at Work: Day 3

Diary Transcripts


I awoke on this morning at 0400 with a realisation that I'd sent an email that was a bit dodgy to include both Paul Stevenson (DXC) and Andy (Met Police) on as there was disparaging stuff about DXC, etc.  I'd written it like we were all just on the same Capgemini side and having a moan.  I was not writing it with an awareness that I now wear a Met Police hat.  I edited the email to take out anything contentious (at 0500) and also sent a further email explaining why they were getting a new email and advising how to cover tracks if they'd forwarded it on.  I apologised to Andy for my lack of professionalism.  I over-reacted I know, by getting anxious about me having made an unfortunate mistake in a communication.


There was a KSC problem at Eagle, meaning Keith Williams came back to NLP to test something. I insisted on intercepting Andy before we started looking at anything and explained that Keith and I had a little history, despite me acting in a professional way in his presence.  Andy knew the score and was frustrated by the fact that Keith had seemingly been aware beforehand of the anticipated Root CA problem, but had done nothing to resolve it before dropping the bombshell in the KSC and causing it to be abandoned.  I explained to Andy that I was aware (through a back channel) of Keith's misgivings about me coming back on board and how he'd communicated this to DXC, Andy didn't deny this so I took it as him acknowledging that there was truth in it.  Regardless, Andy took a chance on me, which I think sums up how much he values Keith's opinion!  Before I met Keith I insisted to Andy that we have a chat.  I explained to Andy that I would be of most use if I was able to compare the scripts being used with those on my BitLocker protected laptop.  I suggested that I shoudn't make Keith aware of this as he could raise a flag about me having stuff that is on non-Foundation kit.


I met Keith and he didn't once explain what the problem was that he envisaged.  He started doing stuff on some kind of PP Root and got into a problem with the HSM. He didn't know what he was doing with the HSM, and he knew I am an SME on this stuff.  He said aloud the laptop was complaining about the Hardserver.  I volunteered that the Hardserver was part of the nFast service.  He said he'd already started the nFast service, but tellingly didn't acknowledge that it was related to the nFast service.  At this point I decided I wouldn't volunteer anything, I'd wait to be asked.  Andy volunteered to Keith "is the smart card in right?"  Keith took it out and re-inserted it the right way up, it then worked, he didn't acknowledge to Andy that his suggestion had helped.  It all made Keith look rather stupid, but he just doesn't feel that vibe.


Keith stuttered through his testing without asking me once for help. It sums his professionalism up perfectly, if you've got an SME (me) on hand you'd use him, unless it acknowledges your own limitations.  Normal people acknowledge that as a necessary requisite to get the job done, Keith sees it as a threat.


I still don't know what the perceived problem was, and despite my curiosity I didn't ask.  It was agreed that I would rock up at Cobalt tomorrow to be present at the remainder of the KSC, I am determined not to volunteer on stuff that I see going wrong because I am not properly engaged.  I will always be ready to help, but I'm not going to beg to help!


I worked until five, the lack of previous night sleep was catching up.  I got in the wrong entry for Circle line at Victoria and traipsed around to get to the Circle platform.  When exiting Notting Hill I headed the wrong way before coming to a dip in the road (near Holland Park) before realising I was not gonna get to Inverness Terrace that way!


I felt today was yet another example of my lucky escape from DXC, while I thought I could handle working under Keith, I know I've too forceful a working personality and I'd have hated it.  I would still go to work and do my best job of course, but it would have been so extra difficult.


Andy took a risk on a bloke (me) with a serious head injury and two years of non-working, I think this sums up both his trust in my recovery and his extreme desperation at needing someone who knew his stuff.


While Keith was starting the Root CA, somehow the conversation amongst us got onto imprecise instructions.  I drew up on the whiteboard the 1000 to 1300 IT buddy stuff where there was misunderstanding due to how I write zeroes (with a slash through them); his response - it's obvious ain't it. Everyone else understood what I was conveying and I had a discussion with Rob about such assumed matters.  I was projecting my stance of "If you don't know it, it's not necessarily because you are thick, you just don't know it!"  Rob talked about how some elderly folk can misunderstand the difference between hot and cold - in previous days cold generally meant cold in its purest sense, whereas on the stuff he'd been involved in cold simply meant not hot.  A subtle difference and something that Keith didn't grasp, he said something along the lines of "they should just freeze then".  While I acknowledge that this could be regarded as a good quip, it didn't go down well coming from Keith in the context of our discussion.  Keith didn't know what he was doing with the HSM, and he knew I am an SME on this stuff, but he stuttered through without asking me once for help, it sums his lack of professionalism up perfectly.  He didn't ask me for help so I didn't want to volunteer it.  


I've come to the conclusion that Keith is insecure about his lack of skills (fair enough) but to bluster (lie) his way through things without acknowledging any help that is given speaks more about his personality than his skill set.  I haven't and shan't, but I feel I could share my Keppra status with Andy Neilson, Gordon Haile and Andy Gammans.  I could never do that with Keith as I feel he might use it in a manipulative way somehow against me. 


It's another highlight of my DXC escape where I would have nominally been reporting to Keith.  I know I could have done this in a professional manner and kept my eyes on the bigger goal of being established again on a relatively serious contract delivery.  I know I would have found it so difficult though, and wouldn't have enjoyed this week anywhere like how I have, I'd have been dreading work.  I've learned more and more that I really don't suffer fools gladly.  This is a personality flaw which I need to work on, but when you are an expert like I am it's one thing to be glad to help people who at least acknowledge your assistance, but when there's bluster and misdirection to cover inability I get frustrated.  My fools gladly feeling is not a conscious thing, it is a value.  That will not change despite in some scenarios it might make life harder.


IMHO a pro is someone who not only knows their stuff but is trustworthy, a case in point... if I make the mistake of putting in a card upside down (a simple mistake that anyone, expert or otherwise could make) I don't try to cover it up, I'd acknowledge it with a doh!  That way people gain more value by knowing they can trust you to be truthful, rather than blag through problems. So to repeat, I think trustworthy is probably (to me) more important than technical aptitude.  90% of my problem with Keith and why it feels rather personal, is not because he doesn't have a similar level of IT skills to me, it's because I don't trust him.  Not in the way that he could stitch me up (he couldn't), but just on a general level of "nobody likes a liar".


I left the office at 1700, a long day for me, especially after only getting about four hours sleep earlier -  I felt drained, but nothing serious.  I texted Paul to turn down the chance to meet up and save it for next week.  I was really looking forward to seeing Paul but I'm glad I recognised I was knackered, and being so, I may have said a bit too much over my frustration with Keith.  I love these little indications (recognizing the tiredness and potential consequences) that I am back to normal I'm also aware that when I have tiny dips during the day that they are just intermittent, that helps them go away, i.e. I don't over-dramatize stuff.


When I was previously getting my accommodation expenses paid by MPS I had a limit in my head of £130 and I'd rigorously try to avoid exceeding it.  I knew I could get away with £300 as I am a respected expert, but I didn't.  Values perhaps working against me, but I'm glad I am that way, so why change it?


Ruth was at mum's to help out with her LifeLine installation.  I'm so glad Ruth suggested it'd be better to just wait with mum rather than have mum call her when the engineer arrived.  Bloody hell, what fantastic foresight!  The engineer turned up late, which wasn’t good news for mum following on from her GP drama yesterday. Mum was adamant not to go ahead with LifeLine and Ruth definitely had her work cut out to gently persuade mum to go ahead with it.   In truth, I don’t know how Ruth did it because I imagine mum being very challenging to deal with – and it’s so difficult to force somebody to do something against their will – even when you know it is for their own good.  The bottom line is that if Ruth hadn’t been there to help mum, the LifeLine would definitely have been rejected, we owe her a massive thanks.


The plan is for me to rock up in Cobalt tomorrow at 0830, I'm looking forward to going onto old hunting grounds.  Ruth suggested a Caribbean (possibly Jamaica) holiday at New Year.  Wows, I'm well up for that.


Follow this link for the diary of my fourth day back at work.