Archive for March, 2014

Changed by a Tyre

Sunday, March 16th, 2014 | Public Speaking, Video

The preliminaries of the 2014 Public Speaking World Championships are now underway. This seems an appropriate time to post a video from last year’s final. The winner, Presiyan Vasilev, won with a speech entitled “Changed by a Tyre”.

10,000 hours of golf

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 | Sport

When I started learning guitar, I took some heart from research showing that natural ability was not that important. The key factor, at least according to the research, was the amount of time spent practising. This was good news because despite not having a natural aptitude for practical tasks, I could just apply a simple equation of time x structured practice = success.

Of course, the jury renames out on the results for me so far.

However, BBC News ran an article earlier this month about a guy who was rubbish at golf, so quit his job to play full time to see if he could achieve greatness. He is only half way through his experience but is already showing great results. You can follow his progress on his blog.

On the down side, his team does include a chiropractor.

The importance of commas

Friday, March 14th, 2014 | Video

As many of you know, I always insist on the highest stanards of spelling and punctuation.

It is not without good reason though. For example, this can happen:

Please, for the love of god, do not post a comment pointing out that I spelt the word “standards” incorrectly. You will look like an idiot, even on my blog.

Rocksmith Rap

Thursday, March 13th, 2014 | Video

Heini posted this on my wall.

SAL February 2014

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 | Humanism

The February event of Sunday Assembly Leeds was hosted by Dermot. He picked a theme of wonder and arranged an excellent combination of talks and readings on the subject, as well as having Michelle get out all her meditation gear. A great time was had by all!

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A Galileo Day Skeptics

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 | Foundation, Humanism

When I saw Galileo Day fell on a Saturday I immediately thought that would be an ideal day to have a Skeptics event. Being only three days after Darwin Day, I asked Gabrielė to present a talk on how viruses affect evolution. She very kindly obliged.

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SAL January 2014

Monday, March 10th, 2014 | Humanism

For the January event of Sunday Assembly Leeds, Ian hosted the event. He did a splendid job, especially with our speaker having to cancel at the last minute.

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Fender Telecaster

Sunday, March 9th, 2014 | Music

When I started the Rocksmith Challenge I put some money aside and told myself that if I reached the end of the challenge successfully, I could treat myself to a new guitar. The motivation worked well.

Having played a couple of guitars in the shop I spent a week thinking about it only to decide I was equally in love with the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Les Paul Junior. They are all super guitars. In the end though, I opted for the Telecaster. It looks beautiful and plays like a dream.


It really is a nice step up from my Squier Stratocaster. That has been a great guitar too, and I intend to keep playing it. But the Telecaster is so much easier to play. Of course, I could have paid for setup on my Squier and it would have been probably a lot better, but also cost as much as the guitar.

Very happy with my choice so far.

zài jiàn

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 | Friends

Professor Richard Dawkins talks about the anaesthetic of familiarity. We forget the every day wonder, he beauty all around. The same applies to friends. It is great to see someone you have not seen for years. But when they are living in your house in December, and January, and February, they quickly blend into the every day.

Of course, I mostly said that for dramatic effect. It is technically true that Michelle was in my house for those months. But she arrived New Year’s Eve, stayed for two weeks, then went home and then came back for half a week. Not quite the imposition that Alan Partridge would inflict on people.

Turns out that visiting Leeds in January is not a great time to come. Tropical World closed for a month for refurbishment and the Thackray Medical Museum was closed too. Luckily the last visit even fell on a Wendy House, so it was back to old times.

Michelle is now heading off to China to teach English for a few years. Hense the title of this blog post – see you soon!

The good news is that my blog is not blocked in China anymore. What more could you possibly need to read?

Enabling Agile through enabling BDD

Friday, March 7th, 2014 | Events, Tech

Last month I attended a Leeds PHP event where the guest speaker was Konstantin Kudryashov, author of Behat. He made a great case of how using BDD can really help you stay on track with the agile process.

Unfortunately I was sat directly behind a massive dan boy who spend the entire time enthusiastically nodding to everything that was said. I am sure he is a nice guy, it was just very distracting.

Richard had a very different opinion. He described most of what BDD did was nonsense. It works fine on your Symfony2 stack, but it just adds massive overhead for little benefit he argued, citing an example of how the company he is working with at the moment has just ripped years worth of it out.

I know what he means. It does work great on some stacks but become difficult on others. Also, I was working with a company that had done half their unit testing in it. I will not mention which mayor subscription TV company that was, but it was a great example of applying Behat to the wrong use.

However, on the whole I think BDD really can add a huge amount of structure and benefit to a product. You can knock “value” as a buzzword, but actually it just means actually focusing on what makes a product better and that genuinely is all that matters.