Last night, I watched Greg Wilson‘s excellent talk “What We Actually Know About Software Development, and Why We Believe It’s True” – which I now think is perhaps the most important video about software development that I’ve ever watched:
It’s that time of year when a lot of folks’ thoughts turn to detoxing. It’s also the time when a lot of other folks’ thoughts turn to rubbishing the idea that detoxing could ever be anything beneficial. As a some-time scientist, logical positivist, gleeful-debunker and proud skeptic, you might hazard a guess at where I stand on this. No. I’m firmly on the side of the detoxers.
My anti-anti-detox-bullshit detectors went into overload yesterday when I saw a friend share a Cosmopolitan (I know, I know, fish: barrel) article entitled Why Your Detox Is Bullsh*t. I’ll happily admit I didn’t read the article – life’s too fucking short. My immediate response to the headline was:
Continue reading Your Detox-debunking article is Bullshit
Clearing out my hard-disk, I found a file containing the following text. It was the beginning of what was to be a complete journal of my first trip to Berlin, in November 2014. As it was, I only got around to writing up the first day. Here it is…
Continue reading Berlin
I’ve just spent the weekend with poets. At 4am Friday night/Saturday morning, I was challenged to recite a poem I had written. But I could only remember scrappy two-line nonsense verses that I’d dreamed up back in the 20th century.
Saturday night, again, everyone recited poems. And I remembered that I do have a poem, a poem that I’m proud of.
One year ago, Leki died. One year ago, I wrote this poem, and performed it at his wake. And so here – with apologies to WH Auden (but not many of them) – it is.
This reminded me of my own route into the software industry: though WordBASIC (most of you under 40 probably won’t remember WordBASIC: it’s what Word macros were written in before we had Visual Basic for Applications).
Continue reading Learning Software Development with Microsoft Office
Nine years ago I wrote a post on here about the perils of star-based reviewing systems. This topic has been on my mind again lately, with the rise of companies like eBay, Airbnb and Uber which make customer reviews a key part of their service model.
Continue reading Five stars revisited
Last week at UpFrontMini conference I learned of the Manchester tech Slack. I signed up straight away, and found it a great resource for finding out about tech events in Manchester as well as networking with local developers and companies.
The next day, when I got my regular weekly #geekbrekky callout on Twitter, I thought “wouldn’t Slack be a better platform for getting this message out?” I tweeted about it and within a few hours Sheffield.Digital and Chris Dymond had a site up and running and ready to be populated. Chris and I spent a few days getting it looking nice and shiny, and now it’s gone live – please sign-up (and come to #geekbrekky) if you’re in or around Sheffield and working in the digital sector, together let’s make this a great resource for all of us!
I remember when it first happened.
I must have been about five. My grandparents’ house, in Bowdon, Cheshire.
Continue reading Beetles
Two or three years ago, my polyglot colleague Dave Spanton persuaded me to try functional programming. I took a few basic Haskell tutorials, but went no further. I got the sense that there was a far deeper seam there which I really needed to dig into, but time, and the pressures of work, gradually drove the need out of my mind.
When I started this blog, back in February 2001, its title meant something: Life – because it was a journal of mine – and Less Literary – because I didn’t want anything on it to be over-thought, over-worked. This was a very deliberate strategy, prompted by the fact that I’d spent the last couple of years intending to put more writing online, but was stymied by my own perfectionism.
In those early days the volume of stuff I wrote on here was, with hindsight, phenomenal. Often several posts per day, some of them surprisingly lengthy. I quickly built up an archive of stuff on diverse topics than in later years became the stuff of legend and mockery. I migrated from Blogger to some-other-platform-whose-name-I-forgot to WordPress, and moved servers at least a couple of times. I added various templates and plugins, most of which have died in some way or other over the years (any WordPress experts out there fancy helping me with some housekeeping?) And gradually, year by year, my written output slowed down. Until we reach the present day, where it seems hard for me to scrape together even one post per year – and even then it’s usually when someone dies.
Then last night, in a beer-fuelled conversation with Si Wilson and Emma Jane Hogbin Westby somebody suggested that I write blog posts to help firm up my thinking on technical topics. Which is something I’ve been meaning to do for yonks but, yeah, perfectionism. And then I was reminded of the original purpose of this blog, of the title of the bloody thing, and I thought “fuck it. It’s time to get less literary again”.
And so, here I go, again. I hope this will be the start of a renaissance of less-literaryism. I would love to post here every day, but I suspect that a couple of times per week would be a more realistic target. Please harass me if I don’t. The contents will be a little more technical than in the past (funnily enough, for somebody who has worked mainly as a developer for the last 20 years, I’ve managed to maintain this blog for 14 of those years with a surprisingly low level of pollution from overly-dry code samples and technical arguments; it was too good to last). But there will still be plenty of random shit. Enough, I hope, that I will be able to look back in ten years’ time and say, in response to a discussion on any topic under the sun, “oh, I wrote a blog post about that in 2015”.