Software and web developer, husband, father, cat wrangler, writer, runner, coffee drinker, retro video games player. Pizza solves everything.
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While not bashing his head against the desk repeatedly at work or sitting in conference calls pretending to be clever, he writes blog posts, occasionally trudges around town in running shoes, and attempts to survive living in a house with four women, two cats, and a number of fish.

He lives in deepest darkest England — land of good manners, punctuation, starched shirts, and silent indignation. He grew up near Oxford, and has ended up living in the countryside just outside London.

He likes anything easy to cook, wine, chocolate biscuits, tea, coffee, movies, music, and cycling. He is as colour-blind as a hedgehog in a bag, but can draw a mean doodle. He listens to random music on Spotify, watches streaming TV shows on the internet, and spends far too much time playing retro video games.

He writes at Medium about all sorts of things.

Reflections on starting projects with super-computers, and slowly turning them into heavy, slow, lethargic elephants

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While working on a software development project some time ago, I was consumed by a stack of different products and technologies — among them a collection of Windows server installations, the .NET framework, SharePoint, SQL Server, IIS, C#, WebParts, JavaScript, and a lot of either compiled or interpreted source code. While drawing nearer to a “working solution”, I began to notice the performance of the colossus we had been working on — or rather the lack of performance.

When LAMP ruled the world

It brought to mind my experiences working on open source web projects perhaps twenty years ago with PHP and MySQL — the simplicity, speed and flexibility of the LAMP platform was persuasive. …

Lessons learned and shared wisdom from a career software developer

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I have been a software developer for over 25 years. During that time I have worked on all manner of projects, on all sorts of platforms, with clients big and small. I have worked alone, within teams, and even been parachuted in to mentor third party teams.

I thought it might be useful to share some of the lessons I have learned along the way — to help give new developers a little direction, and to avoid some of the most common pitfalls.

Understand requirements

Most software is written in response to a real-world requirement. It’s easy to read proposed requirements and interpret them in terms of existing knowledge. While working through potential solutions, it’s worth taking a step back — to do some discovery work around the capabilities needed in the solution and to make sure your proposals satisfy the requirements. …

How a four hour daily commute took me on a voyage of literary discovery into the darker corners of the human mind

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In the years before children entered my life I survived a commute of several hours each day into London. Squashed into the corners of overground and underground trains, I think perhaps books saved me — both from myself, and from the passengers I often spent time watching, listening to, or trying desperately to ignore.

I read everything and anything — from best-selling novels, to classic literature, and a variety of banned books. A voyage of literary curiosity. Along the way, and quite predictably given my situation, a favourite subject became loneliness.

I suppose it’s no surprise that numerous authors have explored loneliness in their writing — we are often fed the fantasy of the lone writer, excluding themselves from the world to work on their masterpiece. I suppose I also find loneliness interesting, because of all the emotions it is perhaps the most contrary — we can impose it on ourselves, and it can be imposed upon us. We can experience it while separated from those we know, and in the middle of a busy crowd. …

A short history of the social internet landscape that led to the emergence of an unlikely instant messaging champion

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In recent days there have been murmurings of discontent around the internet about Facebook, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram, along with increasingly frequent mentions of a messaging application called “Signal”. I thought it might be worth exploring why and how Signal came to be, and why we should consider it.

A short history of the social internet

In 2011 Google launched Google+. While ultimately unsuccessful, it’s emergence set off a domino-topple of sorts throughout the “social internet” — with organisations acquiring one other in a race to either absorb each other’s user-base or to prevent others doing the same.

First Facebook acquired Instagram. While journalists speculated that the 2012 deal removed a competitor, it later transpired Facebook were more worried about the rise of Twitter — who had also tried to acquire Instagram. …

Lessons learned designing, developing, deploying and delivering business process automation solutions

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After consulting on, teaching, designing, building, and delivering countless business automation solutions over a number of years, we thought it might be valuable to share some wisdom with the wider community.

In this post we look at some simple strategies to help reign in sprawling business automation projects, and incrementally automate, measure, and evolve them.

Replicate first, reinvent later

Imagine business processes as the steps performed throughout the organisation to achieve a given outcome. …

I need to make time to read again — if only to catch up with the unread mountain of books before they fall on me.

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Now there’s an engaging topic — things never done. Of course, I’m not talking about all books in the published universe that I have not read yet — just the ones on the shelf behind me. I’m not entirely sure why I clarified that either, because you would have figured that out for yourself, right?

Let’s start by stating the obvious — I love books. A wonderful friend on the internet summed up my thoughts about books a while ago when she made a t-shirt with the words “A Book is a Port in a Storm” printed across it.

I blame it all on Gloucester Green

Back when I lived with my parents, visitors would wander into my room and be taken aback at the number of books I owned. Everything from fiction, to biographies, memoirs, humour, conspiracy theories, and all manner of science books. The science books could be mostly blamed on a small independent book shop next to the bus station at Gloucester Green in Oxford. …

Posting words to the internet is a little like throwing spaghetti at the wall while cooking it — waiting for it to stick.

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It occurs to me that posting words to online publishing platforms is a little bit like throwing spaghetti at the wall while you’re cooking it — waiting for a piece to stick. The only problem is that once a piece does stick, you typically have no idea why it did so.

All that sparkles isn’t gold

Perhaps the most maddening thing is spending hours on a piece of literary confecture — spell checking it, grammar checking it, proofreading it, fiddling with it, proofreading it again, and finally posting it — and later discovering that one person seemingly accidentally clicked on it two days later.

Or you submit your writing to a “Publication” — imagining the offices of Paris Match, Vogue, or the building visited by Audrey Hepburn in “Funny Face” — and become filled with self-doubt when a Rolls Royce is not immediately despatched to transport you to a typewriter in a skyscraper, surrounded by fawning assistants. …

It’s a powerful feeling, knowing that everything and everybody is eventually coming for you.

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It’s perfectly normal

It took quite some time for me to realise that the normal functioning of a family requires that a natural system of filtration occurs — from family member to family member — ensuring that all blame for anything and everything naturally gravitates towards and becomes the resposibility of one person. In my family, I am that person.

It’s all about you

It really doesn’t matter what it is, who did it, when it happened, or what the repurcussions might be — through a highly flexible system of logic, it becomes your fault.

It’s all your fault

Here’s the thing — in the world of work the cone of blame typically focuses the torrent of finger pointing at anybody with “Manager” in their job title. This is a crafty trick, because the “Owner” deflects all criticism. …

In chaotic times, putting one foot in front of the other is a remarkably reliable method of making progress.

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It’s the beginning of a new year, and many people are attempting to fashion some sort of order from the chaos of their lives — making promises to themselves they won’t keep, and putting plans in place they won’t follow.

By the end of January, people will have either forgotten entirely about their lofty goals or already labelled themselves failures. It’s utter madness.

I’m going to propose a new plan — or rather, the absence of a plan. Over the past several years, particularly throughout 2020, I have survived by putting one foot in front of the other and seeing where my feet take me. …

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