What's the origin of the phrase "we shouldn’t just be pulling people out of the river. We should be going upstream to find out who’s pushing them in"?

More yak-shaving for my MSc. A book I read was discussing data pipeline problems. How so much of the work of ETL is cleaning up crappy



Vaxed and Waxed

Nine weeks ago, I got my first does of the AZ vaccine. Yesterday, I received my second.

Despite all the dire warnings of overloaded websites and limited slots, the booking process was boringly anticlimactic. I entered my NHS number, date of birth, postcode - and was then given a choice of locations. I picked one, and was given a range of times. I picked one for a few days hence and my wife - on



Lore of the Wild - a musical walk through the woods

Into the woods, it's time to go, I hate to leave, I have to go. Into the woods, it's time, and so I must begin my journey.

I live near the ancient Abbey Woods. Site of the derelict Lesnes Abbey, full of flowers, trees, and eternal mysteries. A tattered parchment map fluttered into my hand promising adventure an



Book Review: Difficult Women by Helen Lewis

Bomb-throwing suffragettes. The pioneer of the refuge movement who became a men's rights activist. Forget feel-good heroines: meet the feminist trailblazers who have been airbrushed from history for being 'difficult' - and discover how they made a difference. Here are their stories in all their shocking, funny and unvarnished glory.



Removing features is a shitty move

I've worked on some big product launches. Every time there's a major update, developers have to think about which features to port over and which to drop.

Sometimes it is easy. Analytics show no one is using this feature? Drop it.

Sometimes it is hard. It's a moderately well used feature, but complicated to get running on a new environment. If you



Gendered 2nd Person Pronouns

English is a stupid, irregular language. But at least it doesn't needlessly ascribe gender to inanimate objects. However, I think this is a weakness when using 2nd Person pronouns - especially in fiction.

Most literature is written in the 1st person ("I opened the door") or the 3rd person ("She picked up a fork"). But very occasionally, mostly in interacti



⩵ != ==

One of the frustrating things about computers is their limited input options. A "standard" PC keyboard only has about 100 keys. Sure, some have some bonus buttons for controlling the machine, but it is becoming clear that there simply aren't enough buttons to efficiently program computers.

Most programming languages have the concept of relational operators. How does



I vastly agree with this from @Edent about names and special characters.

We can throw Welsh names into the misspellings required – Siôn, Siân, Glyndŵr, to name a few.


Book Review: Assassin’s Orbit by John Appel

Murder makes unlikely allies. On the eve of the planet Ileri's historic vote to join the Commonwealth, the assassination of a government minister threatens to shatter everything. Private investigator Noo Okereke and spy Meiko Ogawa join forces with police chief Toiwa to investigate - and discover clues that point disturbingly



Movie Review: Marriage Story


Here's a quick summary of the film:


It's a relentless argument between two gormless gargoyles. Yes, the director is very clever in using lots of long and unedited shots. And, gosh, isn't the aspect ratio quirky?! Hey, isn't that... you know... the actor



Movie Review: TENET

What if Red Dwarf were given a big budget and re-made "Backwards"?


I'm only teasing a little bit! It is impossible to do a good Time Travel story. The closest I've experienced is "This Is How You Lose the Time War" which, similar to TENET, has sort-of-spies chasing each other through time.

Most sci-fi movies are an excuse to



How not to do coding examples

As part of my MSc, I'm getting a few lessons in technologies I'm not familiar with. I've found some of these lessons extremely confusing - even when I'm proficient in the language.

Here's an example of a coding fragment from one of the tutorials in the R language. Let me explain everything that I think is wrong with it.

barplot(H, names.arg =M, col=“blue” xlab ='Co



Computer Litaracy:

1980s: Ensure that the floppy disk was inserted properly, learned a few BASIC programs, able to type in letters into a word processor

1990s: Able to use several Office-style programs, use a mouse, send email, use a shell account, possibly program in C.

2000s: Able to connect to the internet and send email, browse the web, and order things online.

2010s: Type things into Google get answers, understand that there's incognito mode

2020s: be able to unmute your microphone

The follow-but-mute antipattern

I received a rather distraught DM from a Twitter friend last week. They were upset that I was following an account which did nothing but spew out racist bile all day long. Did this mean that I endorsed their hateful views.

I was confused. I didn't recognise the specific account, and didn't recall seeing any of their tweets - but I was following them. How?



Book Review: The Computer’s Voice – From Star Trek to Siri by Liz W. Faber

A deconstruction of gender through the voices of Siri, HAL 9000, and other computers that talk
Considering Star Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Her, and more, Liz W. Faber explores contentious questions around gender: its fundamental constructedness, the rigidi



What are “unusual characters”

The world is a complex place. It is tempting to enforce simplicity upon it to make things easier for computers. Gender is a boolean, no one is older than 99, all text flows left to right, and names are always in English. That makes it nice and easy for us to write computer systems - and who cares if it is dehumanising?

Recently, I tried to register with phon



My solution to spam calls

Like most of you, I'm inundated with spam calls. So I have a new solution. When an unknown number calls me, they get routed to this audio file.

This was created with Amazon Polly which is free for casual use. I was pretty impressed with the voice quality. Although there are limits to how well you can control the speed and intonation.

While there are a number of acce



MSc First Assignment – Technical and Digital Leadership

I'm doing an apprenticeship MSc in Digital Technology. In the spirit of openness, I'm blogging my research and my assignments.

This is my paper from the Technical and Digital Leadership module. I think it is fair to say I didn't get on too well with it. I found it very focused on American companies - which wasn't great for so



A couple of book clocks

I was inspired by this delightful bookshop clock:


I wondered - if it was possible to create a similar clock using books from a single author? So here's my first attempt - using Agatha Christie's novels.

I've tried to use first edition covers, where possible. There are a few notable absences - 8, 9, and 11.



Using SipGate to set up a BANANAPHONE!

Like many of you, I'm inundated with spam calls. I've suffered endless car accidents, my National Insurance Number has been suspended multiple times, and my broadband will be cut off imminently. Wouldn't be nice to screen out all the fraudsters?

So I've set up a Bananaphone. When people ring me, they get 30 seconds of my fav



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