Starting early

I’ve purchased the first of the Christmas presents — quite possibly the earliest that I’ve ever undertaken the annual gift-buying frenzy.

Maybe it’s because I’ve had half-an eye on Christmas for a few months now.

My walk to and from work takes me past Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens — one of my favourite places in the city. Since the conifers started casting their pine cones I’ve been keeping watch for nice specimens that have fallen over the fence onto the roadside and gathered them up. There is some gold spray paint and red ribbon set aside to make some festive decorations with them.

The only downside of starting my shopping so early is that I now have to wait several weeks before I can get my hands on my daughter’s toys.

One thing that I definitely don’t have sorted for December yet is a final personal challenge.

Working well

I’m hoping that frequently working on smaller projects like some custom-built Docker images will help me get into good development habits. Things like maintaining a Change log, adhering to Semantic Versioning principles and working with git properly instead of just branching and merging can all very easily be overlooked for the sake of speed or at the hands of general laziness.

After some digging around and reading this afternoon, I’ve found a git semver plugin, remembered about change log generation and toyed around with Makefiles for tagging and releasing which I’ll hope to put to the test this week.

More power

The phone in your pocket these days is massively more powerful than those from even five years ago but things need to increase even more to stop me from losing the plot and hurling my phone against the nearest wall.

Yes, I’m talking about my interactions with Siri.

The interaction itself is fine — just as long as you don’t try and do anything too complex or contextual; it is practically pointless asking any follow-up questions to your initial query. Now that Siri is listening constantly it’s actually useful to use in the kitchen to start timers for example while my hands are covered in dough. My five-year-old daughter is fascinated with asking about the weather forecast or what the time is.

I’m a big fan of Apple’s stance on privacy. This means, among other things, that a lot of the detail in my Siri “conversations” stays on the device instead of being sent to a server somewhere for processing. This does also mean that there is a trade-off in terms of the just how “smart” the AI can be.

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.