Tech Talks: August 2014

I’ve recently been enjoying refreshing my Ruby testing & design skills, and these 3 talks have been excellent. They’re not new talks; I’ve seen some of them before. It never hurts to be reminded about good design and good practices!

The Magic Tricks of Testing

Sandi Metz

Watch it because: the rules for unit testing minimalism are actually kind of simple - we just need to remember them!

Yay! Mocks!

Corey Haines

Watch it because: Listen to your tests! If you’re finding pain in your tests, it’s a compelling reason to rethink your design. Also cats.

Refactoring from Good to Great

Ben Orenstein

Watch it because: vim ninja! The entire talk is done inside vim. Highly practical, and good arguments for keeping your public interfaces understandable.

Books I’m Reading: August 2014

I’ve recently started reading more, thanks largely to borrowing a friend’s kindle when on holidays for a month in June of this year. I’m glad I have, because there’s something great about getting immersed in a story - and that’s as true of non-fiction as it is for fiction.

Here’s what I’m reading right now:

At Home

Bill Bryson

Bill seems to be incapable of writing short books, but I’m thoroughly enjoying his look into the “home” and its history. I’m particularly struck by how recent so many of the innovations we take for granted really are - and it gives me a little bit more gracious towards the digital natives who can’t remember a world without iPhones.

Start

Jon Acuff

This is a book full of home truths for Gen-Ys like me, who yearn to do work that matters but seem to have trouble working out how to get going. We’ve rejected the Greatest Generation’s tendency to work one job for life, and bought our Boomer parents’ encouragement that we could “be whatever we wanted”. Couple that with internet celebrity culture giving people fame seemingly from nowhere, it’s far too easy to get discouraged and discontented.

Jon writes as someone just that little bit farther down the road than you, which gives his message some weight without it being “preachy”. He is one of us, and he wants us all to do well. Don’t pick it up without being prepared to do a little introspection, but I’m finding that being honest with the questions it’s raising really helpful.


What are you reading right now?

On Vision

Fomolicious

Until quite recently, I suffered a lot from FOMO. Whenever I do a Meyers-Briggs type test, I always get (E|I)NFP. I’m highly idealistic, and that made this a bigger deal for me than it might for some. I would look at my friends, see the cool and inspiring things they were doing with their lives, and fight the jealousy that welled up. I’d look at professionals & colleagues that I admired, and impatiently wonder why I hadn’t had my big break yet. That idea for a product, that dream job, that business opportunity.That pressure to make a dent in the universe, as it were, was weighing very heavily on me (just ask my wife).

This isn’t purpose.

No, it’s an idol: depending on something less-than-ultimate for a source of ultimate meaning. That never works well in the end.

I’m a committed Christian. The Bible reminds me that my life has value and purpose - even if nobody ever notices. When I remember this, and remember the only Person I need to please, I am set free!
Free from the trap of puffing myself up too much.
Free from the inevitable disappointment, the ego bruise when reality fails to meet expectations. What a relief!

Ambition & Idealism are not my masters

This doesn’t mean I have to ditch my idealist streak, not at all. Idealism makes for a wonderful servant. But the peace that comes from knowing my worth is secure before I do anything allows me to avoid panic. I can applaud what others do without being jealous of my own place, and I can even find joy in the seemingly lowly. I am free to be useful. And when ambition isn’t about making me appear bigger, a whole world of possibilities opens up.

In my next post, I’ll talk about what this means in my working life.

[Untitled Poem]

Sometimes skies are only grey,
and nought makes it go away;
doesn't mean my failure, it's just life.

I promise to try hard in future
not to race with thread to suture
something only balm of time will heal.

Eight Tentacles

Over a year since my last post, and so I decided (in typical geek fashion) to reboot it by switching blogging platforms. So goodbye Blogger, and hello Octopress! Octopress is a different kind of blog system than many – there’s no database, only flat files. You write a new post in a plain text file, run a command to create the generated page, and away you go! A little magic is required to serve it easily on the web (I’m using a service called Heroku, for the other nerd in the audience), but that’s it!

I’m thinking a bit about what I want to write about - the things that interest me, as well as what I’m up to. As always, here’s hoping it gets more love than the last effort :P

Hello 2013!

Movember

Before
Anyone who knows me well would agree that changes to the amount and style of hair on my head are few and far between. Once I get into a habit, it tends not to change for some time. And then, suddenly, I’ll decide it’s time for something different and without warning, spring it on the world.

I may have just done that again.

I’ve had a small Van Dyck-style beard for a few years, but I decided that I wanted to try something different. And what better time to do it than Movember?

Angry face - Day 0!
Movember aims to raise support and awareness for mens’ health issues, particularly depression and prostate cancer. Both of these issues aren’t seen as “manly” things to talk about, so I think the association with facial hair (seriously, how hard do you have to work to make a beard/moustache unmanly) is a good way of breaking the ice.

I haven’t yet decided what style I’ll end up with by November 30 - any suggestions? And if you’d like to get on board and support me, you can do so over at my “MoSpace” page :D



Digital Distractions: The Murderer

A while back I posted about my growing frustration with the constant distractions I allowed myself to deflected by. I’m still mulling over about what my response should be; I’ve taken some small steps, and I hope to share those another time.

In the meantime, have a listen to this short story by sci-fi author Ray Bradbury, called The Murderer.

In it, a psychologist examines a man who’s had enough, and decided to take matters into his own hands…

The Murderer [MP3] (9MB, ~15 minutes) - (opens in a new window/tab)

Isaiah

I’ll never forget the angel
  flying down with cleansing fire
fire too hot to touch.

My lips may be clean
  but still there are times
   when the scars smoulder with the memory.

And so on I go
  your searing stamp of approval
   the agony and the ecstasy
 a reminder that YHWH is Salvation…

Others on Digital Distractions…

Since posting about feeling endlessly distracted by machines, technology and up-to-the-nanosecond information, it seems I’m not alone. Mark Colvin (one of my favourite Australian journalists) broadcast a great interview with William Powers, author of the book Hamlet’s Blackberry.

It’s a fascinating interview, and sounds like a really good read.

Preaching to the Choir of Selves

I talk a lotta talk but I don’t
walk a lotta walk,
I try to live to please You but I
just can’t shake the awk..ward..

voice that nags and says “You know what?
maybe take your eyes off you;
fix ‘em firmly back on Jesus and
remember…He loves you.”

“He loves you when the going’s good, when
all things come up Milhouse,
and just as much when things are grey,
and all you feel is s—house!”

“He knows you want to please Him
so remember that you do!
Now get out of your self-right funk
and go love others too…”
christian, navel-gaze, poetry, prayers, preaching to the choir, through the eyes of a child, voice