Learning by Playing

As a child I went through a phase of enjoying taking things to pieces. I’d like to think that I was exploring and trying to understand and see how things worked rather than just being methodically destructive.

I’m currently experimenting with building several of my own Alpine-based Docker images and compiling various technologies from source, namely PHP7 FPM, nginx, Node.js, Beanstalkd, Postgres, Redis and the ELK stack — at least for starters.

This is giving me the opportunity to tweak and customise with impunity as I can just throw things away and start again when I break things. Unlike my mum’s alarm clock.

I’ll be sure to share them on GitHub / GitLab and Docker Hub when I’m happy with them.

Echo Chambers

Well, not many people actually believed that the outcome of the US Presidential elections would turn out quite like it did; surely The Simpson’s hadn’t actually predicted the future, 16 years ago?

It’s become painfully clear over the past few years that my social media sphere is heavily weighted toward the liberal, socialist left. Harking back to the UK General Election of 2010, the Alternative Vote referendum a year later and through Indyref and Brexit my feed was full of views that largely mirrored my own. Pollsters and commentators seem like they may be living in similar bubbles in the major cities and we can’t really trust what calls they make any more.

I clearly need to diversify somewhat but I can barely bring myself to even link to the likes of the Daily Mail, let alone read the thoughts and opinions of their readership.

Learning Opportunities

Following on from yesterday’s post, I’m only just home having attended a fascinating talk on Enterprise Architecture, hosted by the British Computing Society and presented by Sam Holcman. As I understand it, there are few better people from whom to get an introduction to the subject.

The history of the discipline, terminology, application and potential implications in the current transition from the industrial economy to a knowledge-based world was explored. Unfortunately the session only lasted an hour; there’s certainly enough to the subject to cover many days and weeks.

Having only limited exposure to the world of Enterprise Architecture I did feel a little like I was attending an unfamiliar support group, a la Fight Club.

Always Be Learning

“Ancora Imparo”
Michelangelo Buonarroti

One of the things that I’ve always found intriguing about web development is the constant evolution and open sharing of concepts. The new things are no longer just Node.js and schemaless datastores. Elixir, Go, Rust and Swift are great new modern languages; microservices, Protobuf, Event Sourcing, CQRS, Redux and React are all technologies that I’m unfamiliar with that I’m trying to expose myself to.

I’ve certainly rediscovered something of a renewed appetite for experimenting of late.

20 years on

I’ve written before about how I work — although it’s a couple of years old and, as such, practically ancient for a technology-related post.

With the advent of Trainspotting 2, I read with interest a precis of what was different 20 years ago. This was a time that I was experimenting at university with HTML and Perl, when PHP and Ruby were first emerging; development for the web was very much not on the syllabus.

Fast-forward a few years to my first foray into web development as a profession, just before the bubble burst. We were transferring files manually via FTP with no version control. I’d seen others sending unencrypted credit card information via email without a second though. Having spoken with others who were working in the industry at the time, it was certainly a fascinating time to be involved with huge opportunities for those that timed things correctly, albeit at the cost of security, stability and common sense.

Thankfully things have progressed massively, although with valuations of Uber, Airbnb et al, I do wonder if we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.