Weekly Digest for Sunday 29th March

Flooded boat at Loach Ard

What a month. The impact of Coronavirus has now hit home in the UK…scrap that…across the whole world. What was impacting China and other Far East regions earlier in the year has now totally changed life in the UK and Europe. I can’t think of anyone right now who won’t have been impacted.

The “new normal” is what many are calling it. For me that means working from home. Trying to keep a routine, trying to do some sort of daily exercise, getting used to constant video and phone conferences. I’m lucky in that I can remain productive and keep doing my role remotely but others aren’t so fortunate.

Job losses, money fears, mental wellbeing and all that on top of the impact of the Coronavirus itself. People warned what a global pandemic could do to the world and guess what – they were right. Social media has become even more noisy and sometimes for good as well. Local groups forming, how can we help each other as we will all be impacted at some point. The negative is the constant shouting by so many people that the government is wrong. The scientists are wrong. They are too slow, they aren’t reacting, country x did this by now, why haven’t we, masks are vital….or they aren’t as it’s not airborne. CONSTANT SHOUTING.

Twitter feels like an anxiety amplifier at the moment. For every positive post there’s another 50 that are predicting doom. I’ve a particular hatred for those on social media that have pivoted from Brexit and/or technology and become scientists in literally two weeks. Impressive. Makes you question what they actually know as much of what they spew or retweet isn’t really fact but merely information that supports their argument. Try TikTok instead. Almost calming. And those that are still claiming it’s like a mild flu. That the lockdown is an over reaction. Fuck you. It’s not. It will kill lots of people in the UK well before their time. Friends and family. Hopefully not yours. Just today the first NHS frontline worker has died due to Coronavirus. This isn’t flu!

The difference when outside is stark. Empty roads and pavements and for the most part people are respecting the social distancing rules. Some don’t. Some get too close. Some look like they don’t care. Shopping is now queue’s with 2 metre gaps and empty shelfs. On a walk this morning three different police vehicles passed by, all the more obvious thanks to the empty roads. Police state? But then I’m judging those that can’t keep their distance – ticking off a shopper on Friday cause they couldn’t wait to grab the same goods I was buying. And I’m saying pavements are quiet but late morning to early evening they are really busy as people get some of their daily exercise. If the rates don’t start to plateau in a couple of weeks I can see the exercise guidance changing.

The impact of the virus will be felt for years. Economies tanked. Pensions bust. Economy is a funny one. All of a sudden we can find money for everything. Broadband is now a utility. Key workers are some of the lowest paid in our economy. The NHS is now getting the investment it should have had for the last decade. And Jeremy Corbyn has been proven right. The only thing proven is that it has and always was…all about him. Thanks goodness his reign is almost over. Also a small plea to tech podcasters right now…there isn’t much tech news at the moment, stop spinning out your podcast for advertisers. Thanks.

Didn’t expect to write all that but needed to vent. Before I finish with a few links just want to say one thing….stay safe.

The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains What’s Coming

Coronavirus isn’t Smallpox but lessons from years of fighting it are worth understanding.

Coronavirus tracked

There are so many sites tracking the global spread of Coronavirus but I find the FT’s the clearest. No longer behind the paywall the datasets are fascinating. Great work from Steven BernardCale TilfordJohn Burn-Murdoch and Keith Fray.

As much as I like a graph this did make me chuckle

How the Pandemic Will End

Great long read on what’s happening now but more importantly what’s to come.

All The Streets

Davis Vilums cycled all the streets in London and also made a great site talking about it. Love this.

Google tracked his bike ride past a burglarized home. That made him a suspect.

This is scary. A man in America is accused of a crime as the tracking data from his app put him at the scene of a crime. With the increased powers at the UK governments disposal there needs to be checks and balances on the use of technology to fight the pandemic but also how it may impact on civil liberties.

Who Would Have Thought an iPad Cursor Could Be So Much Fun?

The new cursor support in iPadOS is great. And fun. Using it with the iMac’s trackpad and it works really well. The new Magic Keyboard, while expensive, is something I’m looking forward to trying later in the year. Really liked this series of tweets from Steven Sinofsky on the cursor update and the new iPad Pro’s.

30 years of hope: my life as an ardent Liverpool fan

This from March the 8th feels like a lifetime ago but it’s a great read and shows how important football is to so many people.

Deacon Blue’s City of Love

The new Deacon Blue album is one of their best. Great lyrics, strong melodies and a damn fine album up there with Raintown for me. This review is a love letter to Deacon Blue and like their new album I loved it. Give it a try – a bit of a tonic against the grimness of 2020.

Weekly Digest for Monday 2nd March

Looking over to Inveruglas from Inversnaid.

Feb was quite the stormy little month. Too much wind. Too much water. A whole lot of virus. For one reason or another I never got round to one of these posts until March. Oops.

How the BBC’s Netflix-killing plan was snuffed by myopic regulation

The BBC has been fighting Netflix, Sky, and now Apple and Disney with one of it’s hands tied behind it’s back. iPlayer was, and still is, an amazing resource but has often lagged Netflix and others. Now it’s probably too late to fight back, especially if the Tories (and crazy Corbynista’s) get their way.

The boss who put everyone on 70K

Dan Price shows there are other ways to run a company and make it a success. The unexpected side benefits are a real plus.

In Coronavirus Fight, China Gives Citizens a Color Code, With Red Flags

Only time will tell how successful each countries fight against the Corona virus is. China has used tech and it’s communist power in ways that very few others can emulate. It’s right that a government should use all power and tools at it’s disposal. Shame that China initially tried to hush it all up.

Google’s ambitious push into gaming is floundering, and it’s due largely to too few games on its Stadia platform — here’s why developers have held back

Few things unite gaming firms. However they are pretty united in condemning Stadia. The tech is great but the economics and the consumers sell just doesn’t make sense. This is dead.

Record breaking rainfall

No surprise that this last month has been the wettest February since records began in the UK. What really surprised me is the MET office graphic that had to go to 400% to cover off the rainfall totals. Wow. What you saying now climate deniers?

Tot

Mac text editors are ten a penny. Tot is a little different. It’s a small menubar based text scratchpad on the Mac that is free. It supports iCloud syncing and you can get it on iOS….where’s it’s £20. I’m loving it on the Mac but can’t quite bring myself to buy it on iOS yet. Well worth a download and try to see if it fits your workflow.

Behind the Scenes — Experiments IV: Fire & Ice

The Fire & Ice Apple add is lovely but far more interesting is the behind the scenes video on how it was shot. Clever.

PARASITE House Build

Parasite is a great film, and this video shows the Parasite house being built and walked through in The Sims. Watch the film, then watch this. Lovely.

The marketing genius of Lil Nas X

Wow – Things didn’t happen to Nas. Things happened because of Nas. Virality is not mystical. The story of Old Town Road is not magical. What a story!

Weekly Digest for Sunday 26th January

Dawn over a cold Loch Ard

Its a new year….a new decade…and somehow everything feels much the same. How does that work? It’s been a busy start to 2020. New bathroom has been fitted which was long overdue. It’s been 16 years since moving to Kelvindale and the home survey said we had a dilapidated bath. Well it did ok but it’s finally been replaced. Really pleased with the end result as it looks totally different to what we had before.

Also back in the swing of things at work. Three weeks off was lovely but bills need paying and as ever it only takes a couple of days before the break feels a long time ago. It also looks like being a big gadget year for me. New camera, consoles and phone. If the rumours are true the camera could be out in March rather than September. Need to get saving!

Does Microsoft Have a Boeing 737 Max Style Crash Every Week?

This really made me think. I’m increasingly more plugged in to the world of vulnerabilities, patches and enterprise security. This article posits that Microsoft and others are having huge Boeing type issues every week or two. Is that fair? When you see the speed that exploits are being taken advantage of it’s hard to disagree.

Blue Fucking Monday

Every January the news and hence Twitter, Facebook and advertisers tell us the third Monday in January is the most depressing. It’s bullshit but every year it’s dropped out like some wonder fact. Always remember…

Twitter for good

Twitter gets a pasting around negativity and being a cesspool and generally that is true. However there are gems on there. A bookshop was swamped with orders after they tweeted about a tumbleweed day at the store. Well done everyone!

Radiohead Public Library

Radiohead updated their site and turned it into a library. So much to see and hear – there’s a huge amount of material. Love it!

Game Stamps

I used to love collecting stamps when I was a kid. The Royal Mail has released a new set of stamps with screenshots from classic games. They look great and the screens were compiled with help from Bitmap Books, purveyor of amazingly good gaming books.

Instagram for Windows 95

Love the detail in this mockup for Instagram for Windows 95. Even the filters look spot on.

Viral Bowls

Bowls is a pretty traditional sport. They are getting players to wear shorts to jazz it up! However a shot from this weeks World Indoor Championships went viral due to the skill on display. My mum loves watching the bowls but I was so surprised to see the shot appear on Reddit with many people lost as to what the sport was. Who knew bowls could go viral.

Danny MacAskills Gymnasium

Love this guy. Another great video showing off some ridiculous skill and stunts.

Wardley Maps

A Wardley map is a map of the structure of a business or service, mapping the components needed to serve the customer or user. Wardley maps are named after Simon Wardley who claims to have created them in 2005. This form of mapping was first used in Fotango (a British Company) in 2005, within Canonical UK between 2008 and 2010 and components of mapping can be found in the Better For Less paper published in 2010.

Each component in a Wardley map is classified by the value it has to the customer or user and by the maturity of that component, ranging from custom-made to commodity. Components are drawn as nodes on a graph with value on the y-axis and commodity on the x-axis. A custom-made component with no direct value to the user would sit at the bottom-left of such a graph while a commodity component with high direct value to the user would sit at the top-right of such a graph. Components are connected on the graph with edges showing that they are linked.

Much of the theory of Wardley mapping is set out in a series of 19 blog posts and a dedicated wiki called Wardleypedia. As use of the technique has broadened to new institutions and been used to map new things the application of the technique in practice has drifted from the original vision.

Wardley Map Example

Links

Weekly Digest for Tuesday 31st December

It’s the last one of these for 2019 and the last of the decade. Woo. All the best for 2020 and the new decade ahead.

Media 2019

I’ve watched a lot of TV this year – the quality and quantity of TV thanks to the many streaming services that have launched is in some ways overwhelming. Highlights in no particular order: Line of Duty, Chernobyl, Watchmen, Fleabag, The virtues, The Mandalorian, Euphoria, The Expanse (binged seasons 1-3 in prep for seasons 4 – all good), Giri/Haji, Succession Derry Girls, Game of Thrones, This Way Up, The Boys.

As for films – Avengers:Endgame, Apollo 11, Booksmart, Fast Color, The Irishman, Marriage Story, Ad Astra. Gaming was strange this year – not much out as next year is new console time for both Sony and Microsoft so little to recommend apart from Apple Arcade.

Best Posters 2019

A good movie poster doesn’t always mean a good film. Here’s some of the best from 2019.

Recycling Sonos

This is bizarre. Sonos offer a 1/3 discount on your old product if you turn on “Recycle Mode”. But this bricks the device and makes it unusable. WTF!?! I’ve got a few Sonos devices but this will make me think twice about investing any more in their system.

Whats Next

Great article on the love for The West Wing right now. It’s one of my favourite TV shows ever and thanks to The West Wing Weekly podcast I’ve been rewatching all 7 series. There’s only 4 more episodes to go so it really will be a case of what’s next after January? If you’ve never watched The West Wing give it a try alongside the podcast…and if you’ve not watched it since it originally aired there’s no better time.

A Decade in Memes

Here’s a great list of memes that described the decade. Some classics in there.

Best of 2010s

I’ve linked to this a few weeks ago but if you are in need of more best of lists, Rex Sorgatz has pulled together an amazing index of best of decade lists.

Architecture Decision Record

An architectural decision record (ADR) is a document that captures an important architectural decision made along with its context and consequences.

What is an architecture decision record?

An architecture decision record (ADR) is a document that captures an important architectural decision made along with its context and consequences.

An architecture decision (AD) is a software design choice that addresses a significant requirement.

An architecture decision log (ADL) is the collection of all ADRs created and maintained for a particular project (or organization).

An architecturally-significant requirement (ASR) is a requirement that has a measurable effect on a software system’s architecture.

All these are within the topic of architecture knowledge management (AKM).

The goal of this document is to provide a fast overview of ADRs, how to create them, and where to look for more information.

Abbreviations:

  • AD: architecture decision
  • ADL: architecture decision log
  • ADR: architecture decision record
  • AKM: architecture knowledge management
  • ASR: architecturally-significant requirement

How to start using ADRs

To start using ADRs, talk with your teammates about these areas.

Decision identification:

  • How urgent and how important is the AD?
  • Does it have to be made now, or can it wait until more is known?
  • Both personal and collective experience, as well as recognized design methods and practices, can assist with decision identification.
  • Ideally maintain a decision todo list that complements the product todo list.

Decision making:

  • A number of decision making techniques exists, both general ones and software architecture specific ones, for instance, dialogue mapping.
  • Group decision making is an active research topic.

Decision enactment and enforcement:

  • ADs are used in software design; hence they have to be communicated to, and accepted by, the stakeholders of the system that fund, develop, and operate it.
  • Architecturally evident coding styles and code reviews that focus on architectural concerns and decisions are two related practices.
  • ADs also have to be (re-)considered when modernizing a software system in software evolution.

Decision sharing (optional):

  • Many ADs recur across projects.
  • Hence, experiences with past decisions, both good and bad, can be valuable reusable assets when employing an explicit knowledge management strategy.
  • Group decision making is an active research topic.

Decision documentation:

  • Many templates and tools for decisison capturing exist.
  • See agile communities, e.g. M. Nygard’s ADRs.
  • See traditional software engineering and architecture design processes, e.g. table layouts suggested by IBM UMF and by Tyree and Akerman from CapitalOne.

Decision guidance:

  • The steps above are adopted from the Wikipedia entry on Architectural Decision
  • A number of decision making techniques exists, both general ones and software and software architecture specific ones, for instance, dialogue mapping.

How to start using ADRs with tools

You can start using ADRs with tools any way you want.

For example:

  • If you like using Google Drive and online editing, then you can create a Google Doc, or Google Sheet.
  • If you like use source code version control, such as git, then you can create a file for each ADR.
  • If you like using project planning tools, such as Atlassian Jira, then you can use the tool’s planning tracker.
  • If you like using wikis, such as MediaWiki, then you can create an ADR wiki.

How to start using ADRs with git

If you like using git version control, then here is how we like to start using ADRs with git for a typical software project with source code.

Create a directory for ADR files:

$ mkdir adr

For each ADR, create a text file, such as database.txt:

$ vi database.txt

Write anything you want in the ADR. See the templates in this repository for ideas.

Commit the ADR to your git repo.

ADR file name conventions

If you choose to create your ADRs using typical text files, then you may want to come up with your own ADR file name convention.

We prefer to use a file name convention that has a specific format.

Examples:

  • choose_database.md
  • format_timestamps.md
  • manage_passwords.md
  • handle_exceptions.md

Our file name convention:

  • The name has a present tense imperative verb phrase. This helps readability and matches our commit message format.
  • The name uses lowercase and underscores (same as this repo). This is a balance of readability and system usability.
  • The extension is markdown. This can be useful for easy formatting.

Suggestions for writing good ADRs

Characteristics of a good ADR:

  • Point in Time – Identify when the AD was made
  • Rationality – Explain the reason for making the particular AD
  • Immutable record – The decisions made in a previously published ADR should not be altered
  • Specificity – Each ADR should be about a single AD

Characteristics of a good context in an ADR:

  • Explain your organization’s situation and business priorities
  • Include rationale and considerations based on social and skills makeups of your teams

Characteristics of good Consequences in an ADR::

  • Right approach – “We need to start doing X instead of Y”
  • Wrong approach – Do not explain the AD in terms of “Pros” and “Cons” of having made the particular AD

A new ADR may take the place of a previous ADR:

  • When an AD is made that replaces or invalidates a previous ADR, a new ADR should be created

ADR example templates

ADR example templates that we have collected on the net:

For more information

Introduction:

Templates:

In-depth:

Tools:

Examples:

See also:

From https://github.com/joelparkerhenderson/architecture_decision_record

Technical Debt

Software systems are prone to the build up of cruft – deficiencies in internal quality that make it harder than it would ideally be to modify and extend the system further. Technical Debt is a metaphor, coined by Ward Cunningham, that frames how to think about dealing with this cruft, thinking of it like a financial debt. The extra effort that it takes to add new features is the interest paid on the debt.

Martins Fowlers description of Technical Debt

The metaphor of debt is sometimes used to justify neglecting internal quality. The argument is that it takes time and effort to stop cruft from building up. If there new features that are needed urgently, then perhaps it’s best to take on the debt, accepting that this debt will have to be managed in the future.

The danger here is that most of the time this analysis isn’t done well. Cruft has a quick impact, slowing down the very new features that are needed quickly. Teams who do this end up maxing out all their credit cards, but still delivering later than they would have done had they put the effort into higher internal quality. Here the metaphor often leads people astray, as the dynamics don’t really match those for financial loans. Taking on debt to speed delivery only works if you stay below the design payoff line of the Design Stamina Hypothesis, and teams hit that line in weeks rather than months.

There are regular debates whether different kinds of cruft should be considered as debt or not. I found it useful to think about whether the debt is acquired deliberately and whether it is prudent or reckless – leading me to the Technical Debt Quadrant.

Technical Debt Quadrant

From https://martinfowler.com/bliki/TechnicalDebt.html.

See also The Human Cost of Technical Debt – the human side of the problem.  And, make no mistake — in business, all human problems are also business problems,viewed with a wide enough lens.  Unhappy humans are unhappy workers, and unhappy workers are less productive.  Yet, this angle of technical debt is seldom discussed, in my experience.

  • Unpleasant Work
  • Team Infighting
  • Atrophied Skills
  • The Hidden Business Cost: Turnover and Attrition

Weekly Digest for Monday 23rd December

Presents bought and wrapped ☑️

Christmas Dinner bought ☑️

Advent calendar finished – 92%

Not long until the big day and prep work is done. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing I hope you have a good Christmas.

Gallery of Modern art in Glasgow with the Duke and his cone.

100 per cent

Two big stories from the weekend all around racism in the UK. First up – Stormzy. He’s got a new album out so has being doing a lot of press. In one interview he said that the UK is racist and it’s worse under Boris Johnson. I don’t know anyone that would say the UK doesn’t have a racism problem. If they do then they are part of the problem. As for Johnson, he’s got form and has normalised everyday racism in my opinion so Stormzy is spot on. However that didn’t stop the media spinning the story.

ITV spinning the story

One of the worst was ITV who claimed that Stormzy had said the UK is 100% racist. A very different meaning to what was said. A few hours later they backtracked, deleted the tweet and changed their story, but the damage was done and the story spread over social media. To see why it was such a bad article, read the original interview in the tweet below – he did not say the UK is 100 per cent racist.

The media spin has now become a bigger story a bit like how the election issues were spun into something else to avoid tackling the original issue. Let’s get back to the real issue – racism is on the rise in the UK. What’s to be done?

Racism in Football

This year especially has seen an increase in racism at football matches in Europe especially but also the UK. This weekends Spurs v Chelsea game saw a player targeted again. Step forward Gary Neville who, on a live show, articulated what many were feeling. Something needs to happen. Authorities need to do more. The main political parties have to clean up their act.

Sky Sports host David Jones though didn’t agree. “I am compelled to say, they are the views of you, Gary Neville, and not those of Sky Sports, that is my duty.” “I’m here to try and hold a balanced debate” he later said. What the fuck? How can you have a balanced debate about racism unless you bring on Tommy Robinson, Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson? It’s bad enough people at football matches feel it’s OK to do this….but there must be hundreds of others standing around hearing this and doing nothing. People need to step up.

The rise in nationalism across the UK is partly to blame. The ability of social media to amplify the minority and give voice to right wing extremists is another. Racist views that had long been stamped out and at best kept behind closed doors are now more prevalent as people have become emboldened. Johnson and other right wing media establishments have profited from being openly racist. Johnson even has the cheek to threaten the footballing authorities with action unless they clean up their act. He really has no shame. However I do hope the football powers that be do take more meaningful steps. Small fines at club and international level aren’t enough. And it’s not just an English or European issue. It’s the Old Firm match this weekend which see’s many racial taunts from both sides. This is Glasgow today.

The Wrong Fight

Labour is going through an awful lot of infighting after one its worst performances in decades. It will take more time and analysis to truly understand what went wrong but it’s clear that it and its union friends are picking the wrong battles. An ex Labour MP, Anna Turley, took Skwawkbox to court after being slandered in an article in 2017. She won her case but Unite spent over £1M defending the story on Skwawkbox. If you are a Unite member paying your fee’s, are you really comfortable that so much money has been spent in this way? Why not on the election campaign?

Collision Course

ProPublica has published an article on what went wrong with the USS John S. McCain. A long read but really worth the effort. Flawed tech was at the heart of the problem.

A Decade of Tech

More tech retrospectives but this time looking at the negatives of the last 10 years. The New York Times talks about tech losing its way over the last decade. I like the interactive nature of the article but don’t fully agree that all tech has lost its way….just needs a course correction. Meanwhile The Verge looks at the 84 biggest flops. So many failed products…Google Glass, 3DTV’s…Apple Keyboards!

The work of Neil Slorance

Political Cartoons

Neil Slorance is a local cartoonist and the BBC have done a lovely little feature on him. If you like his work then stop by his Etsy store.

Radiohead…on YouTube

Radiohead have always done things a little differently. This week they’ve put all their albums on YouTube making them free to stream. Merry Christmas!

Charlie Kindel 5 P's

Charlie Kindel – how to achieve focus in any endeavor you embark on by simply writing down the PurposePrinciplesPrioritiesPeople, and Plan (the 5Ps). An endeavor could be a software development project, a job search, or a phase in your life. I have personally found the 5Ps a useful tool for small projects (e.g. prepping for a VC demo/presentation) as well as large scale projects that include 1,000s of people.

  • Purpose: Why do we exist? Why are we in business? Where do we want to be in the future? What will we deliver?
  • Principles: What are the non-negotiable rules and key strategies? How will we act?
  • Priorities: What’s the framework for tradeoffs? In what order do you do things? How much mass or energy do you apply to each element of the plan? What is not important?
  • Plan: How are we going to stage and tackle solving the problems? What are the known dates & forcing functions on the calendar?
  • People: Who’s accountable for every key part of the plan?

From https://ceklog.kindel.com/2011/06/14/the-5-ps-achieving-focus-in-any-endeavor/

Ranking Star Wars

The Rise of Skywalker

Having watched Rise of the Skywalker on Thursday it only seems right (as others have done) to rank the films.

  • The Empire Strikes Back
  • A New Hope
  • The Force Awakens
  • Rogue One
  • The Rise of Skywalker
  • The Last Jedi
  • Revenge of the Sith
  • Return of the Jedi
  • Solo
  • The Phantom Menace
  • Attack of the Clones

I rewatched Last Jedi this week and found it hard to watch through so it’s dropped further than I expected. You can find a prettier version of this list on Letterboxd.