1969 MGB GT for sale - £3500 - [UPDATE: THIS IS NOW SOLD]

I'm selling my much loved MGB GT.  It's served me well, but I've got to the stage where I'm hardly using it and it deserves a new home.

It costs £0 in road tax and about £130 a year in insurance; Passers-by smile at you and kids go 'look daddy!' - all of which makes this a great car to own.

There are photos of the car over on Flickr.

Quick advert

Extensive history dating back to purchase date and provenance. 53k miles from refurb. It’s a very practical and cost effective classic British car.

I have the full history of the car and much of the documentation dating back to 1970.   Since I’ve owned it, it’s been serviced properly and expertly by  classic car specialists G Grace & Son in Tring.  I have fitted a wooden steering wheel, an electric fan (more fuel efficient and keeps it cool when not moving in traffic), an electronic distributor (runs smoother and better at starting in the winter) and I have replaced the 2x 6v batteries with a modern 12v battery.  It has been Wax-Oiled and has plastic wheel arch protectors.


This car was owned by Geraldine, the daughter 1958 Formula One team owner Tony Vandervell. Tony owned Vanwall which was Stirling Moss and Tony Brooks’s team. This little MG was a 21st birthday present for her and fitting of her dad’s wealth it had every significant extra fitted (overdrive, webasto sunroof, wire wheels, laminated windscreen)

If you're interested then contact me via Twitter or at hello[at]jamiearnold.com.


Teaching kids Kanban and coding

Last week I volunteered to take part in Money Day at Furzedown Primary - a school for kids aged 5-18 with special educational needs.  I've never taught before and I don't have kids myself so I really did not know what to expect but it was an incredibly rewarding and fun day. Money Day introduces primary school children to the world of work by getting them to write a CV, go to a mock job fair, take part in interviews and experience a day of work.  They even get paid a very small amount at the end of the day.  My job was to represent a pretend web-design company and teach the kids to build a website.

The day started like this...

All the kids filed in to the assembly hall, clearly very excited and sat cross-legged on the floor. The teachers set the scene about the world of work (with a cautionary word about unemployment too) and gave a run down of the agenda for the day.  There were five companies with jobs on offer: garden centre, department store, office, web design and a cafe.

There were presentations from a couple of older pupils that had set up a business selling hand-made wooden ornaments at local craft fairs, another from an ex-pupil called DJ Jack, a couple from the teachers and then my presentation. The best bit was telling the kids that when I asked them 'who da boss?' they had say that I was; on first practice I had forty kids point at me and shout 'You Da Boss!' Crowd control badge unlocked!

They then had to go off and apply for a job at the 'recruitment fair' that had been previously set up. They queued at one of the employer's desks to run through their CV's which described their best qualities, such as 'I like to help people',  'I like playing games', 'I walk the dog with my mum' and I asked each of them a few simple questions: 'why do you want to become a web-designer?'  Some of them were very clued up and were mostly only 9! I was very impressed, although one boy responded confidently 'PLANTS! I like plants!' - bless him. I sent this fellow over to the garden centre queue.

I had 5 jobs going: 1 Project Manager, 2 Designers and 2 Developers.

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Screen Shot 2012-06-24 at 17.03.15
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Screen Shot 2012-06-24 at 17.03.00
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Screen Shot 2012-06-24 at 17.03.29

After picking my team and signing our pretend contracts we went back to the classroom.  I asked who wanted to be the project manager and a confident chap called Bailey put his hand up, I appointed him and he obediently replied 'Ok Boss!' There was less certainty about who'd be the designer or developer.  Playing with computers and taking photos held equal appeal.

Objectives, design rules, users and our backlog

I set  our objectives for the day, which were:

  1. Tell the story of Money Day
  2. Publish it to the the Internet and tell people

We discussed what makes a good website and a bad website. They all love CBeebies and YouTube; they'd all heard of eBay and Amazon but they reckoned the key to a good website was 1) brilliant backgrounds, 2) clear layout and 3) good information.   These became our design rules.

Here's Bailey posing in front of our first card wall.

Bailey, the Project Manager
Bailey, the Project Manager

They very quickly identified that the number one user for this website was going to be their parents, followed by teachers (theirs and from other schools) and lastly their friends.  They got to this point unprompted and with real confidence which I thought was remarkable and exactly the answer I would have given.

We then created a backlog of cards, imagining ourselves as parents, teachers and friends and discussed prioritisation.  The two cards we prioritised were 'What kids are doing today' and 'comments about Money Day'.  The designers quickly went off with the cards, their cameras and notebooks around the school and the developers helped set up the FTP software and create a basic HTML template.

Backlog and users
Backlog and users

Multi-disciplinary team delivers

When the designers came back they selected some images, we did some pairing to reference the images in the HTML file, added some text (their words) and we were good to deliver our first website. Bailey sounded the bike horn, we high-fived and he awarded the team with stickers - just like real work.

The Delivery Team
The Delivery Team

Instant feedback from 'users'

I tweeted that we'd delivered the site and asked followers for feedback.  We got some lovely replies back and the kids could not believe that grown-ups with proper jobs had seen their work.  It helped that I was able to say 'this person works for Channel 4, this person worked at the BBC...'.  They loved it.


What Money Day taught me

Teaching is bloody exhausting.  I'll be careful not to take the piss out of teachers getting home at 4pm and taking long holidays.  I think I passed out on the sofa even before my nightly fix of Newsnight.

The class room was very similar to my workplace.  There was bunting everywhere- just the GDS office - lots of bright colours and cards on walls, stickers, toys, progress charts and circle-time.  Actually, the smaller seats suited me quite well given my little leggy-wegs.

And then there's the stuff that people desperately try to fight back.  In my world it's the gantt chart, pointlessly long documents and corporate buzz words; in teaching it's words like 'step vocabulary, plenary, WALT' and the rigidity of tests and the National Curriculum over creative learning and singular focus on the children rather than The System.

The kids totally got the Kanban wall by the way and the idea of delivering things incrementally. It made perfect sense to them and I did not need to explain anything twice.  In fact one of the teachers said she might start using it to organise their days.

It was great to see that they were excited by the Internet and making things and I would recommend the experience to anyone. I had great fun and all my team would would fit in perfectly well in a workplace like mine. I'm sure their parents would be proud.

GOV.UK gets a mention in the budget

Oooh, the GOV.UK project got a mention in this year's budget (on page 47).

We will transform the quality of digital public services by committing that from 2014 new online services will only go live if the responsible minister can demonstrate that they themselves can use the service successfully. The Government will also ensure that all information is published on a single ’gov.uk’ domain name by the end of 2012 and will move to a ‘digital by default’ approach to its transactional services by 2015.

I love the bit about Ministers eating their own dogfood.

Better crack on with all that then!

GOV.UK beta goes live. I'm proud.


At 9h.03m.9s on 31 Jan GOV.UK, the beta version of the UK Government's single domain project, was released to the public for the first time.  I was the Delivery Manager on the project and it feels like an awesome achievement and I am very proud to have been part of it.

I think we've delivered a slick product.  It's beautiful (imo), reduces obfuscation, is task focused on user needs and uses search based architecture rather than browse hierarchies. It's only a start and there is so much more to do but early feedback on Twitter and GetSatisfaction has been extremely encouraging so far.

Also, unusually for UK Government IT projects it came in on time and slightly under budget which is testament to the skills of the team, our iterative approach and  (cough) careful management.  More on that in another post.

Most gratifying is that we've been given permission (or did we just seek forgiveness?) to develop this project out in the open.  From the beginning we've been tweeting and blogging about our emerging thinking and code has been available for public scrutiny on GitHub.  Only this week the first member of the public made a pull request, made some changes to the code, committed and we deployed the same day.  This is fundamentally changing the way Government IT works.

The Government Digital Service (GDS) is a new organisation within the Cabinet Office.  It's exciting times, with some commentators saying its like having the coolest start-up at the heart of government.  I can confirm it feels like this from the inside too.  It's been an amazing journey so far and I know we're only just beginning to crank it up.

Related links

Using a kanban system to track editorial work


With close to a thousand bits of short and long-form content to produce, the @GovUK project is a big editorial project, not just a development gig. Spreadsheets are making us cross-eyed and can be crippling so we are experimenting with a Kanban wall to prioritise and track work.

The idea is that you map the workflow stages of a process (in our case editorial) and limit the amount you prioritise, the amount of work in progress and keep moving tickets from left to right.

I like this way of working a lot. We're running this process alongside our sprint wall which focuses on the development tasks and we track completed items on a weekly basis. Bottlenecks become apparent as tasks pile up in one column or another.  It's a simple way of focusing on the task in hand and gives us tickets to point at in our daily stand-ups.

Early days yet but early signs are that it's helping.