Monthly Archives: October 2003

A List Apart is re-launched

Jeffrey Zeldman has announced the re-release of A List Apart.

The first three articles are all very good and well worth reading. They are

Facts and Opinion About Fahrner Image Replacement: A List Apart

Sliding Doors of CSS: A List Apart: Particularly good, a way to really make tabs look good (although it does seem to have one disadvantage that the mouse clock zone for a tab does not include the left hand side).

Random Image Rotation: A List Apart: Quite good, we have done something similar for some of the sites we have done (although as ours tend to be java applications the code is somewhat different). Often our problem is getting enough images from the client.

Fear and Programming

Following yesterdays posting on Fire and Motion it is quite startling how many other links to the same kind of issue have come up today.

Only more honestly it must be admitted that fear is another key element of the problem rather than procrastination. Kimbro Staken writes in his web log Inspirational Technology about Programmers Block and then again with Other perspectives on programmers block.

Russell Beatie writes about That Hard Black Nugget in my Soul and quotes Jano Virtanen on Starting

Buzz Anderson also comments on Programmer’s Block on his Sci-Fi Hi-Fi weblog – relating it very much to depression and self esteem.

So how do we get around it. Jano’s comments about small tasks are probably helpful as are some of the comments on Kimbro’s list. For me at work the greatest solution has been Pair Programming. All our developers are regularly encouraged to do pair programming (and we recently re-arranged the office to make this easier). So now I keep my eyes on the cvs commit logs as well as on the atmosphere etc and gently (at least at first) suggest when people should be doing some pair programming. It is a great way to get past the fear, perfectionist and procrastination problems that we face.

Of course many people are not in this situation and certainly for many free software projects people are working at home on their own. In that case one of my techniques that I have not seen mentioned before is to give myself a programming treat. Maybe a little time exploring a new tool or library, maybe a new feature that I have wanted to do but not had time or priority, maybe a play with colours or graphics. Anything to just get going and see some progress.

Fire And Motion

Although I somewhat dislike an analogy taking from military action. Fire And Motion from Joel Spolsky does make a lot of sense for a lot of different things.

Definately, it is true for software development. Get that editor started and get coding.

Definately, it is true for writing theology essays, get that word processor open and start typing.

Definately, it is true for getting fit, get on your trike and ride.

Definately, it is true for relationships, get on the phone and give them a call.

What a pity that I am such an excellent procrastinator, for example opening up typepad and writing this instead of hitting the code.

I need to concentrate on getting the practical, simple little techniques sorted to trick me into getting started. Like leaving an unfinished sentence in an essay, like leaving a line of code ready to be finished before hitting compile, like making sure my trike is always ready to ride …

I guess low barriers to starting is a key for me, that and deadlines. Learning about what I am like and what does and does not work for me is critical to getting things done.

XXL service

Today used my XXL to ride to Horley where I was taking the service and then on to St Pauls where I joined the family for the last 15 minutes of the 2nd service. I found that the bolts holding on the cranks had come a bit loose so I decided to do a bit of servicing this afternoon.

Swapped both front wheels to use the Amaduro Stelvio tyres and Schwalbe tubes that I bought from ICE recently. This from the standard Stelvios and Cheng Shin tubes that I had from new.

The good news is that these tyres went on really easily in comparison. Managed to fit them without using tyre levers which to my mind is a great improvement. They don’t look like they have a great deal of rubber depth to them so it will be interesting to see how well they last and how many punctures I get with them.

Anyway I have found a good solution to punctures. Carry a track pump around with you. I have not had a single puncture since I started doing that on my way home from Gillingham.

Also sorted out the conservatory so that I can hang my XXL on the folding bars (available from Argos), see Westcountry recumbents site for details. I needed them 3″ higher than for the Road Shark that they were fitted for (the difference is more than 3″ because the Road Shark was well clear of the floor). Fortunately that is the same as the difference between the top and bottom holes which meant I only needed to drill 2 more holes. Handy because my rather old rechargeable drill is not upto drilling more than that one one charge.

Horley Service: worship

Following on from my posting about Horley Service preparation, how did the actual service go?

Quite well, I like services where it is not all up to me, having worship leaders who took most of the service was great. It meant that when we reached the sermon I had been more part of the congregational worship myself.

We followed through Mark 10: 35 – 45 (James and John asking for the best seats in heaven leading to being a servant and then the first shall be last and vica versa).

This was principally looking at this as Good News. Tthat Jesus did not throw out disciples for being stupid, silly and wrong – but instead still loved them and used them. Also considering what it showed us about Jesus (radical, not a wimp).

Then we had a lead meditation kind of Ignation style using our imaginations to see the event, then considering our own week past and coming. Finally this lead to a period of meditative confession.

A couple of problems with the Midi sound, you really need a strong singer or two who know what the midi is going to do in the way of introductions, repeats and endings. Plus for some reason I ended up with an unsingable midi for Shine Jesus Shine, still we then did that unaccompanied and it was fine.

Nice congregation, always welcoming and supportive. Saw Diane after which was nice and also met Sue who is just starting local preacher training. She was taking the first part of the sermon this evening for the first time. Her mentor is Eddie, who was also mine, which is good because he is excellent at that.

Horley Service preparation

I took the 9:30 am service at Horley Methodist Church this morning.

Preparation was less than ideal, I only found out last Friday that there were worship leaders available (newish innovation and the first time they have been available for me there). Unfortunately, on that Friday I went away for a busy SEITE weekend at Herne Bay on preaching. On Sunday I got home and 4pm and then left again at 8pm to drive to Telford for work. I had hoped to get home wednesday evening but in the end it was Friday afternoon. Anyway we talked on the phone and that part of the service preparation was then roughly on track.

On Friday I spoke with the Steward about the hymns, all seemed Ok and then I got a call back saying oop’s no organist or pianist and oop’s they did not seem to have those songs for the MIDI player – could I provide midi versions.

Anyway I did and no other issues, but I do find it easier when I can spend time reflecting at home where I can also use the books I have so far collected. I also missed my routine (little as it is) at home for reflecting on the passages from lots of angles over a period of days. I know I should be able to do that anywhere, but there is something busy about hotel rooms when you know you have lots of work to do if you are going to get home that is in conflict with relaxing into scripture.

Nagging wives do good

Yesterday I was still shattered after my week away and cold. So I did not achieve much, but when I tried to sneak off to bed for anap in the afternoon I got nagged into going out for a ride by Jane. I certainly did not feel like it.

So I went out for a short ride in and around Crawley, going nowhere in particular, for around 11 miles.

Felt much better afterwards.

Lucky I have a wife who lnows what I really need/want better than I do and isn’t afraid to tell me. Even more lucky that she tells me nicely and gently.

Incidently I used the new leg and arm warmer tube thingies that Jane bought me the other week, excellent a really good temperature control mechanism.