Singe Miniscule

If I had a tiny monkey, it’d have a blog. All the cool kids at Voxar and Ergnosis have one now, so I’ve gathered links at the left side of this page. Yay for the internet! This removes all need for actual conversation. We can just have a sucession of concurrent monologues.

Actually, if I had a tiny monkey, it’d sit on my shoulder whilst I run a 10k. Foolish humans.

Hello, world

It’s been a while since my last entry, mainly because lots of things have been happening and I haven’t had much chance to Think About technical stuff apart from work.

  • I spent last week down in Bristol getting started at Ergnosis. It’s been good fun, although going from a company where I knew lots about the codebase to one where I know nothing has been sobering! Still, I’m now getting familiar with everything, coding away in Edinburgh on a very nice wifi-enabled linux laptop, and I’ll soon start roaming out into wifi-enabled places to work. I’ll be back down in Bristol next week doing design stuff. Bristol is quite nice. I stay at a backpacker’s hostel, which is more nice and more sociable than a souless hotel.
  • Pavlos has had a recent flurry of interesting writing. I keep trying to write a reponse, but I’d go off on so many tangents I don’t think I’d ever finish.
  • Anthony’s blog reminded me to sort out backups, so I now have a big second drive which gets a copy of Important Stuff each week. It’s not ideal, since my computer might blow up and take both drives with it, but it’s a lot better than only backing up once a year.
  • Craig also left Voxar recently to go to Australia for a year, and started a blog to stay in touch with the UK. Yay, I’m sure he’ll have a great time.
  • It’s turning to Autumn, which means we’ll have to stop playing ultimate frisbee soon. Winter is the time for indoor fun, so hopefully that’ll mean more climbing.
  • This weekend, I’m running my first 10k race, along the Water of Leith. If that goes well, next weekend I’ll be running the somewhat harder Capital Challenge 10k around the streets of Edinburgh. I wince every time I look at the map.

Paris

In lieu of anything constructive about programming,I’d like to say that Paris is great and France has the nicest food in the world. I’m just back in Edinburgh after two weeks there, and tomorrow I fly down to start at Ergnosis.

Degree Confluence

The Degree Confluence Project collects photos and stories from each longitude/latitude intersection in the world. It is pointless but beautiful, like many of the best things in the world. This is the closest confluence to me. It’s in the middle of the water!

Edinburgh is warm and sunny. Fortunately, there are lots of parks nearby to laze around in. If the weather was like this all year round, I don’t think I’d do anything else. I was talking recently to a group of children who asked what I did for a job. I didn’t think they’d be interested in my usual “3d graphics for brain scanners” spiel, so I went for “I work in an office”. That was enough information to keep them happy, but I later realised how crushingly accurate it is. Why such madness! I remember, when I was young, wondering exactly what people did in offices all day. I think I decided it involved moving lots of bits of paper around. I could never figure out what “commuting” was either, except that it took a long time.

I have been learning the dvorak keyboard layout. I’m learning it for ergonomic reasons rather than speed. Several people I know have suffered from RSI and I don’t want to join them. I’m now trundling along at 15wpm, which is humbling compared to the 80wpm I can manage with qwerty. I can practically feel my synapses rewiring themselves. It’s every bit as painful as when I switched from “inverted mouse” to “normal” in Quake3.

A paper on High Dynamic Range images and other cool stuff got me interested in optics again. I must’ve slept through optics courses at Uni, because I never really got a handle on it at the time. I should’ve heeded my optician’s warning from years before – “don’t do optics!”. Anyhow, now that I have a digital camera I was sufficiently motivated to draw lots of diagrams and figure out stuff like “why does the apeture affect depth of field”. I feel enlightened now. Optics became easy once I started anthropomorphising photons. And, for some presumably unconnected reasons, the bees in my garden are acting very stoned and are staying still long enough for me to take decent photos of them.

I’ve also been flirting with designing a simple CPU. I understand low-level stuff like gates, flip-flops and timing diagrams. I also understand high-level stuff like ALUs, pipelining and machine code. I was curious to see if I could join those two worlds together to design my own simple CPU. I’m happy just to simulate it (this is what happens when I actually try to build stuff) and TkGate is the most useful tool which I’ve came across for that. Soon, I will have my own 4-bit CPU doing pointless arithmetic operations. Ahh, maybe I should just build a time machine and go back to 1980 again.

New Job!

I’ll shortly be leaving Voxar, after five years there. In September I’ll be starting at Ergnosis. They’re a Bristol-based company, but I’ll still be living in Edinburgh and will be telecommuting most of the time. I’m very excited to be joining them, although I’m a bit nervous to see how I deal with home-working over a long period of time. This means that I’ll finally be spending my paid-work hours on making better development tools! Joy! 🙂

This happy event is connected to the blogging world in two ways. Firstly, I initially discovered the company via James Robertson’s Smalltalk blog. Secondly, my own blog streamlined the interview process. It let the guys at Ergnosis see what kind of stuff I’m interested in, and get an idea of my views on life and software tools. When I started writing this blog, my intention was to capture some notes on the stuff I’m thinking about. I was also aware that it could act as a sort of “professional biography”. I had no idea that, three months after starting writing it, I’d be switching to a new job!