Saturday, February 26th, 2022
Monday, November 15th, 2021
4 + 3
I work a four-day week now.
It started with the first lockdown. Actually, for a while there, I was working just two days a week while we took a “wait and see” attitude at Clearleft to see how The Situation was going to affect work. We weathered that storm, but rather than going back to a full five-day week I decided to try switching to four days instead.
This meant taking a pay cut. Time is literally money when it comes to work. But I decided it was worth it. That’s a privileged position to be in, I know. I managed to pay off the mortgage on our home last year so that reduced some financial pressure. But I also turned fifty, which made me think that I should really be padding some kind of theoretical nest egg. Still, the opportunity to reduce working hours looked good to me.
The ideal situation would be to have everyone switch to a four-day week without any reduction in pay. Some companies have done that but it wasn’t an option for Clearleft, alas.
I’m not the only one working a four-day week at Clearleft. A few people were doing it even before The Situation. We all take Friday as our non-work day, which makes for a nice long three-day weekend.
What’s really nice is that Friday has been declared a “no meeting” day for everyone at Clearleft. That means that those of us working a four-day week know we’re not missing out on anything and it’s pretty nice for people working a five-day week to have a day free of appointments. We have our end-of-week all-hands wind-down on Thursday afternoons.
I haven’t experienced any reduction in productivity. Quite the opposite. There may be a corollay to Parkinson’s Law: work contracts to fill the time available.
At one time, a six-day work week was the norm. It may well be that a four-day work week becomes the default over time. That could dovetail nicely with increasing automation.
I’ve got to say, I’m really, really liking this. It’s quite nice that when Wednesday rolls around, I can say “it’s almost the weekend!”
A three-day weekend feels normal to me now. I could imagine tilting the balance even more over time. Maybe every few years I could reduce the working by a day or half a day. So instead of going from a full-on five-day working week straight into retirement, it would be more of a gentle ratcheting down over the years.
Friday, June 26th, 2020
A forthcoming documentary about Stewart Brand (with music by Brian Eno).
Friday, February 3rd, 2017
Are you an EU/EEA national living in the UK? Worried about your rights and options post-Brexit?
Alex has an organised an event at 68 Middle Street for March 16th with an immigration advisor, The £5 ticket fee is refundable after the event or you can donate it to charity.
Monday, May 25th, 2009
A sweet little Skyhook/FireEagle desktop app from Tom. It updates your FireEagle location every five minutes by pinging Skyhook's API to triangulate your position. A small piece, loosely joining two small pieces.
Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Allow your Twitter location to be automatically updated from FireEagle. The process of connecting you, FireEagle, and Twitter is beautiful: 1 x OpenID + 2 x OAuth.
Thursday, August 14th, 2008
I’m looking forward to getting to San Francisco this weekend. Mostly that’s because I’ll be seeing so many of my friends there. But there’s a lesser reason that’s so geeky I’m almost ashamed to admit it…
At some stage while I’m online in San Francisco, I will, no doubt, visit my Pownce profile—where I post something almost every day—and I will take great delight in seeing my location listed as San Francisco, CA rather than the usual Brighton, UK because that’s what Fire Eagle will have told Pownce. Fire Eagle will know this because my visit to San Francisco is listed on my Dopplr account. Dopplr talks to Fire Eagle. Pownce talks to Fire Eagle. In a roundabout way, Dopplr talks to Pownce.
What’s missing from that list is a kick-ass iPhone app that would do its
this app wants to know your location trick to update Fire Eagle (and therefore Pownce, Dopplr and soon, Twitter) on the go. I hereby invoke the LazyMobileWeb to build such an app. I wish I could offer some kind of modern day version of a longitude prize for geeks on the move.
Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
Building the Real-time Web
I skipped a lot of the afternoon presentations at XTech to spend some time in the Dublin sunshine. I came back to attend Blaine’s presentation on The Real Time Web only to find that Blaine and Maureen didn’t make it over to Ireland because of visa technicalities. That’s a shame. But Matt is stepping into the breach. He has taken Blaine’s slides and assembled a panel with Seth and Rabble from Fire Eagle to answer the questions raised by Blaine.
Matt poses the first question …what is the real-time Web? Rabble says that HTTP lets us load data but isn’t so good at realtime two-way interaction. Seth concurs. With HTTP you have to poll “has anything changed? has anything changed? has anything changed?” As Rabble says, this doesn’t scale very well. With Jabber there is only one connection request and one response and that response is sent when something has changed.
What’s wrong with HTTP, Comet or SMTP? Seth says that SMTP has no verifiable authentication and there’s no consistent API. Rabble says that pinging with HTTP has timeout problems. Seth says that Comet is a nice hack (or family of hacks, as Matt says) but it doesn’t scale.
Bollocks! says Simon,
Jabber has a lot of confusing documentation. What’s the state of play for the modern programmer? Rabble dives in. Jabber is just streaming XML documents and the specs tell you what to expect in that stream. Jabber addressing looks a lot like emails. Seth explains the federation aspect. Jabber servers authenticate with each other. The payload, like with email, is a message, explains Rabble. Apart from the basic body of the message, you can include other things like attachments. Seth points out that you can get presence information like whether a mobile device is on roaming. You can subscribe to Jabber nodes so that you receive notifications of change from that node. Matt makes the observation that at this point we’re talking about a lot more than just delivering documents.
So we can send and receive messages from either end, says Matt. There’s a sense of a “roster”: end points that you can send and receive data from. That sounds fine for IM but what happens when you apply this to applications? Twitter and Dopplr can both be operated from a chat client. Matt says that this is a great way to structure an API.
Rabble says that everything old is new again. Twitter, the poster child of the new Web, is applying the concept of IRC channels.
Matt asks Rabble to explain how this works with Fire Eagle. Rabble says that Fire Eagle is a fairly simple app but even a simple HTTP client will ping it a lot because they want to get updated location data quickly. With a subscribable end point that represents a user, you get a relatively real-time update of someone’s location.
What about state? The persistence of state in IM is what allows conversations. What are the gotchas of dealing with state?
Well, says Seth, you don’t have a consistent API. Rabble says there is SOAP over XMPP …the room chuckles. The biggest gotcha, says Seth, is XMPP’s heritage as a chat server. You will have a lot of connections.
Chat clients are good interfaces for humans. Twitter goes further and sends back the human-readable message but also a machine-readable description of the message. Are there design challenges in building this kind of thing?
Rabble says the first thing is to always include a body, the human-readable message. Then you can overload that with plenty of data formats; all the usual suspects. GEO Atom in FIre Eagle, for example.
Matt asks them to explain PubSup. It’s Publish/Subscribe, says Seth. Rather than a one-to-one interaction, you send a PubSub request to a particular node and then get back a stream of updates. In Twitter, for example, you can get a stream of the public timeline by subscribing to a node. Rabble mentions Ralph and Blaine’s Twitter/Jaiku bridge that they hacked together during one night at Social Graph Foo Camp. Seth says you can also filter the streams. Matt points out that this is what Tweetscan does now. They used to ping a lot but know they just subscribe. Rabble wonders if we can handle all of this activity. There’s just so much stuff coming back. With RSS we have tricks like “last modified” timestamps and etags but it would be so much easier if every blog had a subscribable node.
We welcome to the stage a special guest, it’s Ralph. Matt introduces the story of the all-night hackathon from Social Graph Foo Camp and asks Ralph to tell us what happened there. Ralph had two chat windows open: one for the Twitterbot, one for the Jaikubot. They hacked and hacked all night. Data was flowing from the US (Twitter) to Europe (Jaiku) and in the other direction. At 7:10am in Sebastapol one chat window went “ping!” and one and a half seconds later another chat window went “pong!”
Matt asks Ralph to stay on the panel for questions. The questions come thick and fast from Dan, Dave, Simon and Gavin. The answers come even faster. I can’t keep up with liveblogging this — always a good sign. You kind of had to be there.
Monday, September 10th, 2007
There's something very Gibsonesque about this real world mashup of Google Maps and Amazon's Mechanical Turk.
Wednesday, March 8th, 2006
Google Earth is now available for the Mac. Get downloading.