March, 2009


Friday, March 20th, 2009

Music while you work.  Yes it is important,  I ususally have a big pair of cans on, partially because this means that I don’t have to put up with in-ear headphones, which are invariably uncomfortable, and partially because this is a sure sign that I’m working.

What to listen to?

I tend to favour either  deep beats, very regular and rythmic, or no beats at all, and definitely vocals are to be avoided, though that is harder with variety.

So although I’m an avid Radio 4 listener when not working, I’m into trance and dance and no beats.  I’m talking here here about things like Camille Jones, “The Creeps” (Here mixed by Fedde Le Grand, alright for jollies if you’re into that sort of thing, and wildy popular at the time. Sex sells, what can I say?)

It is in fact a commentary on office politics, and you can see how I might really hate that stuff.  Empowerment, truth and beauty in actions are what count.

Given this, when it came out, I looked for the original version.  Creative.  Here it is.

Propellerheads.  Yeah I know, Spybreak, Matrix, blah, blah.  No.  I came to it through “Velvet Pants” from an internet Radio Station.  Got the Album “Decksanddrumsandrockandroll.”  Get it.  Really.

Aphex Twin, they can be weird, no You Tube for you.  Good beats though.   Mr Scruff: Brilliant mixes, though I cannot listen to the Whale Song and work, too engaging, kids love it.  Fantastic Website.  Really. Quantic Soul Orchestra and Fila Brazilia.  Both wonderful alternatives to the munge spewed out on say, Radio 1.  What trash kids do listen to today.  (Ahem!  Parent alert!)  Actually, my kids are eclectic and investigative, I may speak about this in the future.  Also my eldest is a Bass Player, through pure simple interest, and a great artist already.  The boy is a genius.

Non English language is great, especially Salsa because I can’t understand a word, and in any event, it’s great great art.

Non-beats.  Jean-Michel Jarre and the Cryosleep stream from typify this trend.  BlueMars, you can’t live without it.  JMJ can be complicated and require processing, so I tend to avoid it if I really have to concentrate.  I’ve been listening to his music for 30 years though and it never gets old.

For coding though, there is always blessed silence.  I have run out of time to blog about this further right now, but you can be sure I will return the this subejct in the future.


Monday, March 16th, 2009

Looks like I’m getting into Word Press Template writing right now.

I like simple elegant websites, for myself anyhow, and I am never satisfield with website design.  I have banged on about this before.  It’s never easy getting to a new schema, but Word Press is the simplest and most elegant design I have come across in a while.

Music: Quantic Soul Orchestra – As usual I don’t listen to music with lyrics while working.  Lyrics distract, and while no music is wall paper, yes I really can listen critically while working, I can place it in the “No Interpretation” place in my head.

In the meantime, I design another simple, timeless piece for Works First Time.  Then I shall blog there.

The advantage of getting into this right now is that one, I shall not lose another job because my websites are not up to date, unmaintained and unwritten, and I shall have another string to my bow.  I shall probably not approach gurudom in this area, but I shall certainly be an expert.  This is what we must do as programmers.  It is part of the knowledge crash which we shall soon all suffer from.  Yeah I know, I walked into a preposition there.

Point is that I spend more than 50% of my time learning.  Maybe I need a simpler job.

Works First Time

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

This morning I’m working on Works First Time, my tech and getting things done, (not the schema splurged all over the web last year, just the actual action of being able to get things done).

I’m redesigning it from scratch, and making it available for update in a way that I have not before.  So watch this space, I’ll tell you when I’m done.

Why I don’t write content

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Problem. I don’t readily generate content.

I’m a “Website Designer”, in theory. In practice I’m a Middleware Designer, or a Web Application Designer.

I don’t generate content, generally, I don’t care about it except as the filler for the design. But I loather particularly all website design. Notable exceptions are Google, and LifeHacker. There are others. (Steve Gibson’s fanatically ranting, the man is a genius and I’m sure quite quite mad, is terrible in many ways. If he is, he is driven so by the daft things he writes solutions for in Windows, he writes in C for it, I think that counts. Most useful site I ever came across. Really).

I was saying that I don’t generate content. For the most part I have nothing to say of any importance whatsoever on the web. I have put things on the web before, (like my Garden Shed project), but nearly all content I generate has been some filler to test some design concept or to test some design of the middleware I have been testing out.

Point is, have been doing this for a long time. People want sites and I write the software that makes them be able to write their own material without bothering me. Now lots of other people are doing it too. Badly. WordPress, for what it does, (mostly Blogging), actually does it rather well. Which is why I am using it. What I do is rather more advanced, not in file uploading, (Because I don’t touch Flash), not in content generation, that’s up to the client, but increasingly in content organisation. This is the part where most CMSs (Content Management Systems), fall over, they cannot organise the structure of their website, or allow its re-organisation. Mine can. WordPress promises some more of this in the future, I do it now. but my stuff is not for blogging, it’s for site creation and maintenance.

In fact I have recently come to understand that that the effort involved in making this easy might be overblown for 90% of the time. It is that little 10% that is important, the creation time, when information might be re-organised at the page level. This is about the granularity of information and how it is organised.

Now, my dissertation, yes, I completed my undergraduate degree, (at the age of 44), last year, (see the date on the entry), talked about the organisation of information. I did some research, Goddess knows I’m not the greatest researcher, but the trail of effort to organise information in the more meaningfully semantic way leads back past Berners-Lee, who implemented the Internet that we know today, but did not, as so many write, invent it, to Ted Nelson, who coined the phrase Hypertext way back in the 60’s, and positied the internet in this shape, the shape we have today, and POINTED OUT THE FLAWS almost immediately, (for another time); past Vannevar Bush, who imagined at the end of the Second World War a universal system for looking up data involving projected and cut and paste microfiche projected on screens on a desk, right back to Paul Otlet, who with his team at the turn of the 20th century started indexing what came to be 15,000,000 books on twice that many index cards. That kind of effort shows that organising information is an important and worthwhile pursuit. Ted Nelson shows us that it is worth pursuing down to paragraph level.

That’s where I’m going. The hell with generating content. That’s for people who want to sell things, or hold an exposition. I couldn’t give a damn about that, I want to organise it.

Looking for the right look…

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Anyone who has bothered to visit more than once will notice a new look.  This is likely to happen a lot at OurCafe until I am happy with it.  What isn’t likely is that I’ll be happy with it.

I have determined that I should be updating Works First Time more often, and I’m going add a lot of the stuff I use daily there.  Starting today.  An entry a day, I swear.  Althought the title is fairly slef explanatory, you should be told that Works First Time is my technical blog, focussed on IT rather than any other kind of technical influence.

I’m currently trying to design myself a new business card.

And no, that’s not me up top.