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Week three

This is both an international and a hyper-local update. I say international, although I’m still in an airport less than twenty miles from my house. I’m on my way to Florence, to talk about *-oriented programming at Pragma Conference 2015. It’ll be fun to catch up with friends in a new city, and close the […]

Week Two

As week one featured an observation of how post-work life was similar to working life, this week’s post is a catalogue of differences. Not all of these differences are huge. No watch I own five watches (three wrist, two pocket) but have only worn one once in the last two weeks. Most of the time, […]

Tempus Fugit

A common concern programmers have when I talk about my year off is that I’ll be unemployable at the end of it. After all, the industry moves really quickly and if I’m off thinking about things that aren’t programming, I’ll fall off the treadmill. Programmers are like the red queen, constantly running in order to […]

Week One

Nearly eight days ago I stopped working to have a break. I’ve been describing it as a “gap year”, because I’ve arranged my finances to last at least that long with some contingency. Also, I want to set a year as the anchor in my mind, so I don’t do what normally happens and take […]

Criticising the Four Freedoms

The core principle of Free Software is that people who use software retain certain freedoms, unlike the situation with proprietary software in which all of the freedom associated with the software remains with the vendor. Those are the Four Freedoms: A program is free software if the program’s users have the four essential freedoms: The […]

Improving a presentation with slides

Take a look at your slides. For each slide, think how you would present the same information if you didn’t have the slide. Practise that, so that you can give the information on the slide without using the slide as an aide memoire. Practise that, until you can introduce that topic, discuss it, and move […]

“When I had that problem”

A common lie in programming is that every project is new, that no problem has been seen before. This is the reason given for estimates being bad, for plans being bad, for design being bad…for anything other than diving in uninformed being bad. But I’ve noticed that more and more frequently my discussions about problems-technical […]

PL personality theory

An analysis of programmer personality traits inferred from their answer to the question “which is your favourite programming language?” Algol About to re-enact that scene in Jumanji where Robin Williams has a huge beard. Basic Remembers a time when you could code a whole platform game with twenty levels in 6k of RAM. Probably works […]

The paradox of scripting

But how can scripting be dead? There’s bash, and powershell, and ruby, and…even Perl is still popular among sysadmins. There’s never been a better time to be a programmer or other IT professional trying to automate a task. True, but there’s never been a worse time for someone who doesn’t care about computers to use […]

The death of scripting

Back in the day, when programmers knew that they couldn’t possibly think of everything somebody might want to do with a computer, there were scripts. If somebody could find enough of the pieces of the thing that they wanted to do, they might be able to put them together themselves in furtherance of their task. […]