No Twitter month

As an experiment, I stopped using Twitter in October (I quietly posted daily updates on a page)

If it were considered an addiction, it took me a month to cure myself from it (although I had already taken steps to use it less).

After the experiment was over, I didn’t rush to Twitter. I just went on with my life and didn’t even give it a thought. I haven’t been to Twitter yet, and we’re 10 days into November.

I thought I would post more to my blog instead, but I actually have been so busy I barely posted anything, so I can’t tell if the levels of activity (views, comments) have been affected by not posting links to my blog in twitter, because I have barely blogged.

I might continue the no-twitter experiment for longer while also posting more here, and observe what happens.

I keep wondering if it would be “good” for my reach to re-enable the plugin that posts to twitter from my blog automatically, but it still makes me extremely queasy to share a platform with the kind of detestable, repulsive content that Twitter allows to exist because it makes them money (even if it goes against their own rules).

Random thoughts on a Saturday

Upgrading

It’s been a week of upgrading computers and operating systems. At some point I had two laptops and a tablet all updating themselves. Then, the aftermath: the development environment didn’t work, so I had to upgrade it in order to be able to do work. That said, the upgrade has been quite smooth. So not complaining here.

And really complaining: is it me or does every street in central London have some kind of construction work? At the moment of writing there’s a gas work happening pretty much right under my window, with continuous tarmac slicing (thanks god they’re done with the drilling), but when they stop I can hear a similar sound further away. What a nightmare!

Then you walk around and it’s hoardings and scaffoldings all around. I specially despise these: they make you alter your path as pedestrian, as often they take over the pavement, and even more often they turn the pavement into a tunnel. Fine, they install lights and they assume “it’s safe”. Well, it looks like exactly the kind of place I don’t want to walk through, day or night.

Monet and England’s changing weather

Speaking of day or night, there’s an article in the Tate etc magazine which juxtaposes Monet’s London paintings with the letters he was writing to his wife at the time of his stay. I found it quite amusing to read about his despair about the constantly changing London weather and how it was forcing him to get more canvases so he could capture all the facets and various manifestations of rain, fog, sun (or lack thereof):

“… it’s very difficult, for no one day is anything like another: yesterday there was sun, with an exquisite mist and a splendid sunset; today, rain and fog, to the point that I am writing to you by [electric] light at four in the afternoon, whereas yesterday I was able to work in daylight until almost 6 o’clock.”

“I have something like 65 canvases covered with colour and I still need more, this country is something quite out of the ordinary”.

When we take a picture with our modern cameras we don’t stop to think about it, but there’s this extraordinary wide amount of variations. I noticed this when I started live sketching, which forces you to actually stop and look. So I totally sympathise with Monet’s struggle. It also made me wonder: what would Monet do nowadays? Would he use canvas and oils or would he go for something that allowed him to capture colours faster?

Dramatic clouds

Something else I noticed when I moved to England was the continuously varying skies. Those dark clouds quickly forming in the distance, before emptying themselves without any notice. The big clouds floating high and the progression down to fine yellowy mist… “No wonder Lord Byron went full on romantic”, I thought. And what about Turner’s paintings? Fully explained, just as you can understand Dalí more when you visit his homeland.

Who would have thought…

Yesterday I baked a bread for the first time in ages, and it was pretty decent, considering I was specially focused on finishing all the various types of flours we have on the cupboard. There are so many combinations of wholemeal, plain, raising, non-raising…

I didn’t follow the recipe properly and did a couple of mistakes, but the bread was nicely cooked and went really well with avocado and eggs this morning.

Here I am, embracing millenialism…! 😎

More millenialism: looking for flours in the cupboard, I found what looked from above like a honey jar, except it contained quinoa, which pleased me to no end. Who had left that there? Why was it on the ‘baking’ area? I asked my partner and apparently it had been… me!

I propose that it’s the food equivalent of finding a forgotten note in a pocket.

Conclusion: I might have a quinoa salad today.

“Would you like a receipt?”

I recently got a phone that lets me do contactless payments.

It sounds very fancy but it’s just about creating a virtual copy of your card in your phone, and using the NFC antenna in the phone to act as your contactless card.

I was quite intrigued as to whether I’d actually use this fancy new technology… and turns out that it is really convenient, and I do use it a lot, all the time.

However, it’s not a perfect workflow. You’re constantly asked: “Would you like a receipt?”. Some places just automatically print it.

It is a sign, I think, of an unfinished job. We got rid of the physicality of money exchanges by replacing cash with card payments, then we got rid of cards themselves (albeit virtually), but still rely on physical paper for a receipt.

We need to go further: receipts need to be transmitted automatically, as part of the transaction.

And what if we had a standard receipt format, that could be processed with standard tools, and so receipts could be processed automatically? No more manually adding expenses!

One can dream…

Extreme decoupling or all-as-a-module

I opened my laptop in the morning and found one of my open tabs in Nightly was for Vue.js. I don’t even remember how I ended up there. Was I reading about frameworks? Did anyone send me the link? Who knows!

But I was curious. I am not a megafan of frameworks, but I like looking at them. One, because their idioms are often adopted by other developers, so it’s good to be aware of where are things going. And two, because frameworks do lots of “magic” in the background, and I always want to know how they implement their “magic”—maybe I’ll want to adopt some of it!

So instead of closing the tab, I perused the page. It has a virtual DOM as React does, but they seem to take great pride on their overall minimalism (small file size, little intrusiveness). The examples are amongst the most readable I’ve found for frameworks when it comes to the JavaScript API; the HTML directives are as alien-feeling as most frameworks.

Later I was discussing this strange incident with friends (“I found an open tab in my browser—do you think this is a signal from the universe that I should get into Vue.js?”) and Irina also highlighted the fact that Vue.js “components” might be simpler to build than the equivalent in React, and also be less coupled.

This derived into talking about The Dream:

You know what the dream is? Have everything be an npm package that I can plug in to any framework I like. And everything is packages packages packages

📦.js

Oprah giving free packages away to everyone
You get a package! And you get a package! And you get a package! And you get a package! And you get a package… everyone gets a package!

(Irina demanded an Oprah themed meme)

And of course this reminded me to earlier conversations with chameleonic Jen about modularising everything and maximising reuse. She would propose, for example, abstracting a card game into separate modules; one for handling the rendering, other for handling card games in an abstract way, another one for handling a specific type of game. This way you could build multiple games by just providing an implementation for the specific game. (Games are notoriously often not built this way).

Likewise, Aria talked about radical modularity at Web Rebels and the notion that if your modules are small enough, they are done. Finished. You rarely need to ever touch them again (unless there’s a bug). Watch the talk: it’s very inspiring.

I really like this “pure” idea, and can work very nicely as long as you keep your data and logic separate from your view.

Unfortunately, the issue is that UI code often intermingles both data and view, so you end up declaring your data as instances of whatever base component the UI is using, which is not very maintainable on the long run. If you want to change the UI you will need to take the ‘data’ bits out of the UI code, or write some sort of adapter between “UI code” and “data”, to have to only change “adapter” when you decide you don’t like your current view layer. This could be a performance hit, so you might want to sacrifice flexibility for performance.

But hey… everything in computing is always a trade-off!

 

How to write a talk

Hey Sole, you have spoken on a lot of places and go to a lot of conferences, so maybe you have some advice on how to write a talk?

Yes, indeed I do! In fact, this question comes up so often that I figured it would be super useful to share my method with more people, rather than just individually 🙂

Before we start, allow me to highlight that this is my method, and it might not suit you. Talks come in many formats and shapes depending on their content, the audience and many other factors. I usually talk about technical stuff, and this guide is about writing that type of talks.

Also, if you’re the TL;DR type, I made you a flow chart (using draw.io):

how to write a talk flow chart

Continue reading “How to write a talk”