Saturday, 26 May 2012

Men In Black 3

Last night we took our eldest to see Men In Black 3. I haven’t been to see a film on the actual opening night for a very long time. I remember all the hype around the original film and all the people who saw it before me and thought it was excellent.  I actually found it mediocre, although I have enjoyed the original film and the sequel since. MIB 3 is no different. Same old mediocre plot and humour. I actually fell asleep at one point.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Norwich Startups Ignite Talks

Tonight I did my first Ignite talk. An ignite talk lasts 5 minutes, you have 20 slides and the slides automatically change every 15 seconds. It was quite a challenge for me as I’m used to moving the slides on when I’m ready and waffling quite a lot!

I was giving my What Agile Is To Me ignite talk for Norwich Startups. I was third on of three speakers and the two previous speakers, who spoke about Collaborative Consumption and Being Unforgettable were really good. It was going really well until a picture was missing on two of my slides. A quick stumble, edit and resume and I was back on track asking the audience to imagine the picture.

I’d really like to get to the point where I can do these fluently without a script and each slide has exactly 15 seconds of speaking that flows one into the next. More practice I think!

You can download my slides here.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

The Noise Within

Ian Whates
ISBN: 978-1906735647

I really liked this book. It’s quite short at only 336 pages, which meant it was a fast read and I could get into quickly. Of course it’s not Alastair Reynolds. It’s a good story that is clearly heavily inspired by Peter F. Hamilton and Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001/2010 novels. I loved the talking gun, the conspiracies, the action and the risque parts. My favorite scene was towards the end when one of the characters is killed by a kiss from a beautiful woman.

Is it space opera? Almost. I think there’s a wider scope of imagination needed. There’s certainly potential. This feels like a first novel and a quick look at Ian Whates’ website certainly suggests that it’s one of his early ones. I will be reaching for the sequel very soon as I need the answers to the cliff hangers.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

F# eye for the C# guy

On Tuesday night I drove to Cambridge to see F# eye for the C# guy given by Phil Trelford at Software East. I’ve always been intrigued by functional programming languages, but never really taken the plunge. I’ve worked with C# on a couple of contracts in the past, so thought this would be a great introduction. And it was.

Phil Trelford has a very unique and charismatic presenting style that would have made the material interesting even if it had been boring, which it wasn’t.  There were a few slides and then some code. I like code! The initial example was a demonstration of how you can reduce a 30+ line, simple C# class down to only half a dozen lines of F#. That was a nice opener and there were plenty more examples like that. F# is certainly a very concise language and therefore has a slight edge in terms of power over C#.

Was I inspired to install an F# compiler and get hacking? Honestly? Not in the slightest. It’s a horribly ugly language and not as expressive as I think it could be. I was inspired to think a bit more about Clojure and Scala though.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Jez Higgin's Long Lost Brother?

I attended an F# talk last night at Software East in Cambridge given by Phil Trelford. I couldn't help thinking how much he looked like the ACCU's very own Jez Higgins.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Dark Shadows

It’s been a double film week for us this week, which is very pleasantly unusual! Dark Shadows was Charlotte’s choice and really rather good, despite the cliches and predictability! About two thirds of the way through I knew exactly what the last scene would be and I was right (not going to spoil it though).

Johnny Depp makes an excellent vampyre. Mind you he’s a superb pirate. In fact he seems brilliant at every outing, especially when matched with Tim Burton. Dark Shadows is more classic dark Tim Burton and of course has a superb cast with Helena Bonham Carter and Michelle Pfeiffer. Eva Green was just incredible as a witch and I couldn’t take my eyes off her as a blonde. It’s a shame the rating was only 12A as some of the film was quite sanitised where I don’t think it really should have been.

 There’s nothing new in the story and not much if anything by way of a twist, but at least there was a story to follow. The ending was setup perfectly for a sequel without actually hinting where it might go next. The best thing would probably be to leave it and do something else.

Avengers Assemble

On Wednesday night Charlotte and I went to see the Avengers Assemble. Charlotte slept through it. I thought it was ok. I was probably at a disadvantage though not having seen any of the previous films, except for Thor, which I really don’t remember much about.

Having said that, the characters were superb, especially Iron Man. Captain America was a bit of a wet sidekick, but I guess that was intentional. Unfortunately it lacked quite a bit of story and the tragedy wasn’t really tragic, but I suspect it would have been if I knew more of the background story to the characters. Loki was magnificent throughout, except when he goaded the Hulk to produce one of the funniest moments of the film. I did come away asking myself if I’d trust a former teammate who had been so easily turned to the dark side and then turned back just by getting thumped in the face. 

My next task is to finish watching all of the films that came before; before watching it again (on DVD).

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

ACCU Conference 2012

This year’s ACCU Conference, in Oxford as usual, was superb. I enjoyed it immensely and I was only there for two sessions, one of which was my own! There was a huge amount of twitter activity which actually made all the sessions very interesting even though I wasn’t there. My wife enjoyed it too, I had huge difficulty getting her out of the bar! I learnt that I featured in Allan Kelly’s presentation minutes after my picture flashed up on one of his slides. Next year the children will be older and I should be able to go to the entire event.  

The Congruent Programmer
Phil Nash

 Phil Nash is simply Phil Nash. I’d be lying if the fact that he was giving the ACCU member keynote didn’t fill (no pun intended) me with envy. Phil was suffering from throat problems, but he’s so softly spoken anyway that you I didn’t really notice. I could hear everything he was saying at every point. In usual Phil Nash style his Mac toys were also giving him trouble. It appeared he was using his iPhone to move his presentation between slides and it was being more than a little temperamental. The keynote was highly amusing, as usual with lots of subtle references. Hopefully this is the first of many keynotes for Phil.  

Walking Skeleton
Paul Grenyer

I hate putting presentations together and I hate practicing them. However when I get to the conference I really enjoy giving them and this one was no different to the last time (over two years ago). I had a great audience which nearly filled the room. The problem with ACCU audiences is that they’re pretty clued up already and I was acutely aware of this all the way through and felt I was only really filling in the gaps. And of course at the end they found all the holes that other audiences had failed to find! Roll on next year.

My Audience