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Tagged “work”

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

The organisation of work versus the job itself

Here’s a half-formed thought (the sort of thing personal websites that nobody else reads are perfect for). As a web developer, something I’ve noticed when interviewing candidates and hearing how they do things, or when I myself am being assessed in expectations reviews is that our industry seems obsessed with discussing the organisation of work. You know – PR review protocol, agile ceremonies, organising a Trello board, automation, linters. All of which is really important, of course. But the amount of airtime that gets leaves me frustrated. What about the actual job?

Are responsive strategy, web typography, layout, interactive JS components, animation (to name but a few very high-level topics) not interesting, complex and impactful enough as to warrant a higher percentage of the conversation? I want an insight into other folks’ knowledge of and opinions on how best to build things, and feel it gets relegated behind organisational topics.

Or do people just see the nitty-gritty stuff as the domain of enthusiasts on Twitter and personal blogs, or as “implementation details” that are secondary to the organisation of something – anything – that will “get the job done”?

As I say, a half-formed thought and probably just reveals my leanings! But writing it helps me gather my thoughts even if I eventually decide I’m in the wrong.

Life lessons from Larry David and Adam Buxton

Recently, during a period when pandemic woes were taking their toll and likely making me a little cranky at home, I found some funny and helpful words of wisdom on Adam Buxton’s podcast and when re-watching Ricky Gervais’s interview with Larry David.

On sustaining a happy marriage, Buxton said:

Every now and then you think “they’re not doing what I want them to do and I think it’s important that they do do this thing that I want them to do! (But) you have to think really hard: is this thing actually important? Is it worth getting bent out of shape about?

It’s good advice. He mentioned that he’s slowly getting better at that, and I’m trying my best to, too.

Meanwhile, on the reasons why he got into acting, Larry David said:

it gets you out of the house!

So simple but true—it’s good to get out of the house! We’re now emerging from a period of sustained isolation and I should probably avoid being completely remote (and going stir crazy) and get back into the office occasionally.

Changes at Basecamp

Basecamp—makers of project management, team communication and email software—have taken a controversial new stance against (amongst other things) political discussion at work, “paternalistic benefits” and 360 performance reviews.

These are difficult enough waters to navigate in life, but significantly more so at work. It's become too much. It's a major distraction. It saps our energy, and redirects our dialog towards dark places. It's not healthy, it hasn't served us well.

David Heinemeier Hansson, Software Contrarian (CoRecursive Podcast)

Since November 2019 my day job has involved working on a “Majestic Monolith” coded in Ruby on Rails. I loved this conversation with Rails’ creator DHH in which he speaks with great passion and makes interesting points about finding a programming language that speaks to you; why single page apps and microservices are not for him; and how our working days have too many interruptions.

My first Christmas working at FreeAgent. Strong Christmas Jumper game!

Christmas Jumper Day 2019 at FreeAgent
Christmas Jumper Day 2019 at FreeAgent

Chicago 2018

Chicago, North River, by night
Chicago, North River, by night

I just made a first visit to Chicago. It was primarily to attend An Event Apart but I was lucky enough to have a little time to check out the city, too.

Firstly I want to thank all the friends who provided tips for things to do and see in The Windy City – Aleks, Susan, Jenny, Lucy, Alan and Karen, Collette etc – cheers!

Thanks also to Davie for jetting in from NYC to join me and Liam for a couple of days. I doff my cap to your knowledge of beautifully designed restaurants with really expensive menus 😉.

I also got the chance to catch up with old friend Nick Calingaert AKA Common Factor, a lovely guy and talented producer who DJed for me and my friends at a couple of our club nights back in the early 00s.

We only had a few days, but I felt we managed to cram in some good stuff. Here’s a summary of the highlights.

Eating out


Record Shopping

Cool Neighbourhoods

Culture / History

Things to do

And if we’d had more time…

Rubadub App

Rubadub have a new mobile app that delivers the RaD crew’s top vinyl recommendations (the best around) direct to your phone.

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