Buongiorno. Here are my most recent blog posts:
  • read microservices article "Agile coding in enterprise IT: Code small and local" (1hr)

    April 7, 2015


    As Landmark move into the world of Microservice​​​s I think that it is important that we all understand what it actually means. This article gives a reasonable understanding and i've made some notes...​

    Microservices are very decoupled. "​Developers can create and activate new microservices without prior coordination with others. Their adherence to microservices architecture principles makes continuous delivery of new or modified services possible."

    Simplicity, tight scope, minimal change request process.

    Microservices architecture is evolving and unproven over the long term.

  • read up about Apache Kafka (1hr)

    April 7, 2015

    ​​​After seeing it mentioned in a Microservices article I took a look at Apache Kafka https://kafka.apache.org/documentation.html

    Kafka was originally built by LinkedIn and then hived off to make a new company called Confluent. It is intended for processing of real-time data (such as web site tracking).

    This article from Confluent helps http://blog.confluent.io/2015/02/25/stream-data-platform-1/​

  • read up about Azure WebJobs (1hr)

    April 1, 2015

    ​Unfortunately, I missed the Scott Hanselman TIS Talk about Azure WebJobs, but his article at http://www.hanselman.com/blog/IntroducingWindowsAzureWebJobs.aspx​ has helped as an introduction.

    It looks like a WebJob is a custom task the can either run continuously or be kicked off as a scheduled task. It can take input such as a Blob of data in a storage container, process it and put the output into another container. I don't know yet whether it will perform a callback to tell the trigger that it has finished.

  • watched Organising For Microservices (1 hr)

    March 31, 2015

    Microservices can be referred to as 'Hipster SOA'

    Single responsibility principle

    If there is a single, large, codebase then it gets unwieldy. You may be using cloud services, but you are still scaling the whole app rather than the bit that actually needs to scale.

    One codebase leads to having only one language/tool/hammer to use. Sometimes a problem can be cured by using a different language but you don't want to mix this in with the big codebase.

    If a part of the system fails, you don't want it to affect the others.​ Eliminate Single Points Of Failure. Set up fallback options. A search function can use a cache if the database fails. Semi-live is acceptable.

  • read "How to be Alone" by Sara Maitland (6 hrs)

    March 18, 2015

    Maitland's ideas are related to those of Susan Cain of 'Quiet' fame. There is nothing wrong with being an introvert and needing a bit of quiet to work and think in.

  • read "Feral: Rewilding the Land, Sea and Human Life" by George Monbiot (16 hrs)

    March 9, 2015

    ​​​​Monbiot is a big noise on the Guardian with his slightly controversial, but very sensible, thoughts on nature and its effect on flooding. This book is really a collection of essays on rewilding and is far more a personal diary than I thought it would be.

  • attended Geospatial Apps with Open Data Meetup (4 hrs)

    March 4, 2015

    ​​​​This evening event was held at the Google startup offices in London. The talks weren't quite up-to-scratch, but there were some interesting bits. I particularly like Vizicities which presents a 3D view of OpenStreetMap.

  • attended and spoke at Open Data Camp UK (2 days)

    February 22, 2015

    ​​​​I attended and spoke at the very first UK Open Data Camp. This weekend event was in Winchester. Unfortunately, the company didn't want to pay for my hotel so I coughed up myself. It was well worth it as I met lots of important Open Data contacts and the sessions were mostly very interesting.

  • read "Redirect, Changing The Stories We Live By" by Timothy D. Wilson (10 hrs)

    February 11, 2015

    ​​​​I've just finished reading this social sciences book about how interventions do or don't work. It was fairly hard going, but interesting. The key message is that you can't just trust your own common sense. The author discusses things like 'Sure Start' schemes for children​​ which, whilst well-meaning, are seldom tested to see if they actually work. Even more shocking is that when they are tested they can often be proved to not work. Surprisingly, some tiny interventions do work. The book also includes discussions about negative stereotypes and ways to lessen the effects.

    This has strong connections with User Experience and measurability. It also makes me think about engagement at work.

  • took part in the Promap Jam Session (5 hrs)

    January 30, 2015

    ​​​​This was a session seeking to distill and document some of the knowledge in-and-around Promap. It was a semi-training session to practice creating user personas and work out their real value.

    My conclusion is that customer/user personas are hugely useful and we as an organisation urgently need these to be created and shared asap. The ownership probably lies with Product Management with a lot of assistance from Business Analysts.

  • read "The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty" by Dan Ariely (6 hrs)

    January 29, 2015

    ​​​Ariely is a popular User Experience author who discusses how people think and what makes them act the way they do. Two things that are essential if you want to build or sell any type of product or service..so, let's face it, just 'be in business' at all.

    In this book he discusses experiments that test people's ability to lie. The lie can be to others, and also to ourselves. It turns out that many people cheat, but most cheat only enough that would seem fair. If you really want to stop people cheating you have to watch them.

    Whilst an interesting read, this particular book didn't seem groundbreaking.

  • attended Introduction to UX from Akendi (8 hrs)

    January 27, 2015

    ​​​A very interesting introduction to User Experience. There are many things that are applicable. Too many to rattle off quickly. I will come back to this review later.

  • read "101 Things I Learned in Architecture School" by Matthew Frederick (2 hrs)

    January 22, 2015

    ​​​This is a simple book, yet complex. I read it with the thought that architecting an IT system may have things to learn from architecting a building. When it comes to buildings, we often think of aesthetics. Less often in IT systems. Maybe we should? They both need to be accepted and used by humans. I know from experience that using a beautiful programming language or system can be a pleasure, and yet we only consider function when designing.

  • read "It's not how good you are, it's how good you want to be." by Paul Arden (4 hrs)

    January 20, 2015

    ​​​Principally a book about advertising, this book is still extremely relevant to User Experience and User Centred Design thinking. It is also pretty inspiring to.

    Unsurprisingly, as it is written by an ace advertiser, the format of the book is big bold statements in large type plus some more in-depth articles.

    I read it through twice and will no doubt read it again until it all sinks in.

  • attended Product Tank Brighton #3 (3hrs)

    January 15, 2015

    ​​​I went to a Meetup for Product Managers last night and heard some interesting stuff.

    Jon Little, Digital Product Manager, Kew talked about Kew's Apple iBeacon Project. Beacons can be used to send small bursts of data to Bluetooth phone users. They've used QR codes previously and ironicly it led to people treading on the plants in order to scan the codes. They are trying to make use of the large quantity of data on their Content Management System. However, the technology is leading the solution. They don't know for sure what people actually want from the experience of visiting Kew. There have been comments that the real joy is in getting lost.