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Talking to kids about being a software engineer

I’m not the most confident public speaker these days. So I had mixed emotions when my neighbour asked me to talk about my career at Pollokshields Primary School where he teaches.

However, I liked the theme of helping the kids to expand their horizons. And I’m keen to be involved in the local community, so this was a good opportunity.

I also had my fears dispelled somewhat when I heard that although there’d be lots of kids they were all around 11 years old. I’m working on my presenting and workshop facilitation skills at the moment so again, a good opportunity with – hopefully - a captive and gentle crowd!

I’m pleased to say it went well and generally gave me a warm glow. On reflection I think I prepared well, my nerves were manageable, and I communicated clearly. The kids were lovely and asked lots of questions! What characteristics do you need to be a good software engineer? Did my parents support my career choices? And so on.

They also gave me a lovely certificate and a large Dairy Milk bar (something that’s always welcome in our house).

My message of thanks from the kids and teachers at Pollokshields Primary School
My message of thanks from the kids and teachers at Pollokshields Primary School

This week I used an accordion (by Adam Silver)

I loved this insight into Adam Silver’s thought process. And it came at a timely moment since at work I’m currently trying to promote evidence-based, considered choices regarding user interface patterns.

Memories of a night at Tresor, 2005

I was recently sorting through some old stuff when I found a tatty old poster I used to love and that brought back good memories. It shows the gated basement vault of the original Tresor nightclub at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin. Smoke is billowing out of the room dramatically and it includes the text The Extremist. I bought or otherwise acquired this poster on a night in 2005 when me and friends Davie and Tom visited the famous club during a trip to Berlin.

Boys weekend with Rudy

With Clair off having fun in Skye, the boys (me and Rudy) have been spending some quality time together. On Friday night we watched Dune 11. Rudy wasn’t too bothered but I really enjoyed it. It looks absolutely stunning, especially the all-white gladiator scene. And I thought the heavy, growling soundtrack marked a return to form for Hans Zimmer. While watching I munched on a paneer palak from local heroes Kebabish which, let’s be honest, is inifinitely better than popcorn.

On Saturday with the sun shining and some post-curry guilt, we set off early and walked up Drumgoyne Hill. It was steep but really good fun.

Laurence and Rudy the border terrier take a break while climbing Drumgoyne Hill
Laurence and Rudy on Drumgoyne Hill

First time at Homebrew Website Club, Edinburgh

Recently my work colleague Francesco told me about a new Edinburgh branch of Homebrew Website Club. Exciting! I unfortunately couldn’t make their first event but just attended their second event. Here’s how it was billed:

Join us in Edinburgh for demos of personal sites, recent breakthroughs, discussions about the independent web, and to meet IndieWeb community members!

It was good fun! Great to chat about and personal websites and writing with fellow tinkerers. I’m sure I’ll be back.

Features of my personal website

I like the metaphor for personal websites of tending to a digital garden.

Like all gardens, they can become a bit unruly and need some weeding. Right now, as I consider updating some software and freshening things up, I realise that I’ve let it overgrow a tad.

So, here’s a post in which I’ll log my website’s current features. This should be useful in and of itself as a stepping stone to writing a proper readme. However it’ll also help me reflect on my website’s health and maintainability so I can decide which features to nourish and which to prune.

Note: this post will take a bit of time and a few sessions, so please regard it as a work in progress.

Big Zuu goes to Mecca (on BBC2)

This was a great watch. Big Zuu (Zubair Hassan) approached his pilgrimage with good humour, curiosity and genenrosity. And I learned lots from it about Islam in general and muslim men and their friendships in particular.

Chef and rapper Big Zuu makes a pilgrimage to Mecca on a personal spiritual journey to try and understand more about his faith and what it means to be 'a good Muslim'.

I really liked some of the contradictory things Big Zuu tried to reconcile. For example could he be a good mulsim but also enjoy some western ways such as alcohol? How would he feel being in Saudi Arabia (Jeddah and Mecca) in light of negative way the region is stereotyped? And is the fee of nearly £8000 paid to the Saudi government the best place to use his money?

In the end there’s a nice theme where Zuu say he’s not perfect nor will he become so… but that understanding his faith is part of striving to become the best version of himself.

A Global Design System, by Brad Frost

Hard to argue with Brad’s logic.

Right now, vast numbers of human beings are devoting their time and energy to designing, building, documenting, and maintaining the exact same set of common components.

Our efforts to reduce duplicative work at the individual level are resulting in duplicative work at the inter-organization level.

A Global Design System would improve the quality and accessibility of the world’s web experiences, save the world’s web designers and developers millions of hours, and make better use of our collective human potential.

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