Posts, page 1 of 1

  • 31st January at 09:44

    The next time I get to do some coding, I'll be sure to try this git workflow.

  • 5th July at 08:18

    Small, post-lockdown adventures:

    • The boy and I went out for ate breakfast at a local cafe. I had Aussie Eggs, he had a kids fry up.
    • Met a friend in a park. She's bringing our annual local festival online!
    • Met with up with my friend Mark at a pub last night!

    I made some music yesterday on my Akai MPC X. For the drums, I took inspiration from Massive Attack's Teardrop.

    Over the past couple of months I've markedly improved note taking and organising life using digital tools. The two tools I most use are Roam Research and Notion. I'm going to try out for bookmarking.

  • 30th June at 19:59

    On this morning's early walk I listened to Carlota Perez talk to Mik Kersten on his podcast.

    Carlota talks about how we get to the Golden Age of Software, learning from the history of the "five great surges of technical change":

    1. industrial revolution
    2. railways
    3. iron
    4. heavy engineering
    5. automobile

    and how each revolution has gone through 3 distinct phases:

    1. installation - with characterists like booms, busts, disruption, madness, lots of money being pumped in
    2. turning point - bubbles burst, problems emerge like inequality, wars, creative disruption
    3. golden age - possibilities of the technologies are applied across economies and every section of society benefit

    I love the idea of a future where we shift to a services econonomy based on maintaining the things we have. Planned obsolescence has had its day and a lot of people have grown tired of owning the latest gadgets. We now have the need (tackling climate change) and the technical advances to switch from owning products to renting services. This is starting to happen already.

    Rolls Royce no longer sells the airplane engines. They now rent the service of the engine so that they go fix it and they make sure they're constantly taking care of the engines that continue to belong to Rolls Royce and are being used by the airplanes and then fix them.

    Can we apply this thinking to software itself to overcome the problems of toxic technology? With the advent of cloud, we have the as-a-service paradigm. However, we must still glue these things together and deal with the dynamic parts. Engineering is still important, e.g. modularity, separation of concerns, abstraction and cohesion, even as the barrier to entry is lowered with movements such as low code.

    Anyway, I digress. To learn more, read Carlota's series of articles on her comparison of her own version of past technical revolutions with another perspective on periodisation of technical history.

  • 16th June at 13:12

    Happy Valley in Croydon Borough

    I'm enjoying my week off work.

    The boy and I went to Happy Valley and flew a kite in one of the meadows surrounded by woodland. In the evening had a few beers in my road's communal garden with 10 of my closest neighbours :-) And one of my neighbour's finished fixing my bike! Neighbours are great.

    I cycled to Selsdon Wood and back, and discovered the Vanguard Way, which is now on my walk list. And went for a walk with a friend in the evening.

    I took delivery of an Akai MPC X and made some tunes. Very steep learning curve. There's so many great people to learn from on YouTube, on just any topic. YouTube is revolutionary when it comes to learning from people's tacit knowledge. Originally found this article from this twitter thread where one tweet refers to YouTube as "the internet of know-how".

    Massively available video recordings of practitioners in action change this entirely. Through these videos, learners can now partially replicate the master-apprentice relationship, opening up skill domains and economic niches that were previously cordoned off by personal access.

    Also, found homes for things I don't need anymore. Facebook Marketplace and local buy/sell groups is the only time I venture on to Facebook. I had a quick look over the fence at the social feed. Still awful.

    And the boy went back to school and is enjoying it! On the walk back home, after school, I noticed people drinking pints outside one of the locals.

  • 7th June at 09:30

    Where I work, nearly all of our legacy estate is on Oracle technologies. Some of these systems are between 15 to 20 years old.

    Much of the software is written in the Oracle database programming language, PL/SQL, which stands for Procedural Language for SQL. Legacy PL/SQL is hard to modify.

    Compared to software development, where there's a maturity around tools and techniques, such as testing and refactoring, there doesn't seem to be the same level of innovation at the database tier. This stagnation means it is hard to maintain and modify code, frequently leading to procedures that are 5000+ lines long with all the expected complexity. Clean code principles target "modern" languages, although some of the clean code principles can be applied to PL/SQL but this is rarely the case based on current experience.

    Organisations want to move faster. Continuous delivery and the supporting practices help achieve higher levels of throughput, stability and quality. Keeping your business logic in the database is antithetical to the goal of responding to change with agility. Keep databases for what they do really well: store and retrieve data, establish and enforce relationships, query data for answers, automatically handle performance optimisations, provide access control and more.

    I've been looking for a side project to get my hands dirty again, something out of the critical path but potentially useful. I want to know that our footprint is reducing for technologies we want to shift away from. One crude measure is to count the number of lines of code in PL/SQL. I'm only interested in the trend line. Going up over the year = bad. Going down = good.

    I plan to build something that will periodically analyse each repo with PL/SQL, count the lines of PL/SQL and store the data somewhere, so I can then chart it later on. Cloc looks like a good place to start.

    What other proxies are there are for understanding and measuring legacy systems?

  • 19th March at 06:36

    Someone asked me recently if I read fiction. They seemed troubled that I'm always recommending work-related books. The answer is yes, I read fiction, mainly in the dead of night, as tool to help me back to sleep. Here's some of the books I've read recently:

    • Quicksand by Steve Tolz
    • Hot Milk by Deborah Levy
    • Normal People by Sally Rooney
    • Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
    • The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes

    I'm currently reading Black Water Lillies by Michel Bussi.

    And these books are on my physical or audio bookshelf waiting to be read:

    • The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
    • Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut, read by John Malkovich
    • Thérèse Raquin by Emile Zola, read by Kate Winslet
  • 17th March at 16:44

    Simple tools that work in crisis.

    1. Recognise what you don't have control of
    2. Write a journal to give you clarity over competing anxious feelings, thoughts and what is known/unknown in reality
    3. Get your heartrate up for at least 20 minutes per day, preferably outside
    4. Practice 7/11 breathing technique for 5 minutes
    5. Do things that comfort and soothe you

    Our body is a system. Do these things daily to keep it in balance.

    Courtesy of Julia Samuel on the Tortoise podcast.

  • 17th March at 13:20

    Hello, world 🌍

    We're entering a period of social distancing and self-isolation. As good a time as any to start recording things on a platform that is mine, all mine!