A great tool is not a universal tool it’s a tool well suited to a specific problem.
The more universal a solution someone claims to have to whatever software engineering problem exists, and the more confident they are that it is a fully generalized solution, the more you should question them.
Tuesday, July 6th, 2021
Monday, June 28th, 2021
I don’t agree with all of the mythbusting in this litany of life lessons, but this one is spot on:
The best thing that can be done to a problem is to solve it. False. The best thing that can be done to a problem is to dissolve it, to redesign the entity that has it or its environment so as to eliminate the problem.
Remember that next time you’re tempted to solve a problem by throwing more code at it.
Friday, February 21st, 2020
- Is this really a problem?
- Does the problem need to be solved?
- Does the problem need to be solved now?
- Does the problem need to be solved by me?
- Is there a simpler problem I can solve instead?
Saturday, September 21st, 2019
There seems to be a tendency to repurpose existing solutions to other people’s problems. I propose that this is the main cause of the design sameness that we encounter on the web (and in apps) today. In our (un)conscious attempts to reduce the effort needed to do our work, we’ve become experts in choosing rather than in thinking.
A very thoughtful piece from Stephen.
When we use existing solutions or patterns, we use a different kind of thinking. Our focus is on finding which pattern will work for us. Too quickly, we turn our attention away from closely examining the problem.
Monday, January 7th, 2019
The start of a new year is the traditional time for making resolutions. I’ve done it in the past. Now I’m not sure it’s such a good idea.
Think about it. It’s January. The middle of winter. It’s cold outside. The days are short. The only seasonal foods available are root vegetables and brassicas. Considering this lack of sunlight and fruit, it seems inadvisable to try to also deny yourself the intake of sugar, alcohol, meat, carbohydrates or gluten. You’re playing with a stacked deck. And then when inevitably, in the depths of winter, you cave in and pour yourself a glass of wine or indulge in a piece of cake, you now have the added weight of guilt on your shoulders to carry through the neverending winter nights.
Of course not all resolutions involve the abnegation of material pleasures. Many a new year’s promise involves a renewed commitment to work, exercise, or culture-vulching. But again, is this really the best time of year to do that? Given the weather, are you really in the best frame of mind to tackle such a tall order?
No, I don’t think I’ll be making any new year’s resolutions. If anything, this is the time of year when I won’t feel bad about having a pint of ale or a comforting stew. It’s also the time of year when I’m going to cut myself more slack if I’m not exercising diligently or working hard. Let’s face it, just making it through these months intact should be achievement enough.
If I were to make a resolution, it would only be that, come summertime, I’ll take stock and maybe make a commitment to cut down on some guilty pleasure or increase some noble activity then. A midsummer’s resolution, if you will.
Until then, I’ll be cosying up and indulging in any bodily comforts I crave. My resolve to do that is strong.
Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
Another browser-based tool for viewing the same site at different sizes, but this one displays them all the same time, side by side.
Another browser-based tool for testing your responsive designs at different screen sizes.
Remy created this tool for resizing a viewport to figure out where to put the breakpoints in your media queries.
A handy little service for viewing sites at different dimensions. Just be aware that it doesn’t actually emulate different devices.
Thursday, January 1st, 2009
At the start of 2008, my past self wrote down a few resolutions for my future (now present) self:
- Reduce and/or offset your non-renewable energy output.
- Give blood.
- Lose some weight, you fat bastard.
- Play more bouzouki.
Let’s take them one at time…
Reduce and/or offset your non-renewable energy output.
Yeah… um… so that didn’t really work out all that well. Yes, I did fit energy-efficient light bulbs. Also, I don’t drive a car. That’s something of which I am not just proud but downright smug. But I did end up doing a helluva lotta travelling. Some of that was offset—all the Web Directions conferences are carbon neutral, for example—but I’m still responsible for a lot of jet fuel. My Dopplr animal is a squirrel, for crying out loud!
Still, I made the most of all that travel. Thailand and Japan—both new destinations for me—were certainly highlights but I also loved getting back to San Francisco and any trip to Alaska is bound to be good.
This year I’ll be cutting down on my travel. No, really! I mean… of course I’ll be going to South By Southwest again and I will be speaking at An Event Apart in Boston in June but apart from that, I’ll be staying close to home. Honest.
Score! I did this. Twice. I would have done it more but all that travelling makes it hard—they don’t like you to donate if you’ve just come back from somewhere exotic like, oh, the USA. Apparently it’s just awash with the West Nile virus in Summertime.
Seriously though… please, please, please give blood. Not only will you be doing a great service but I guarantee it will restore your faith in humanity to see the cross-section of society there with you.
Lose some weight, you fat bastard.
Alas, no. If anything, I might well be portlier now than I was this time a year ago. I need to start taking brisk walks along Brighton seafront and practising portion control in my food intake.
Yeah, we’ll see how that works out.
Play more bouzouki
Again, no. I played plenty of bouzouki with the band but my proficiency with jigs’n’reels is lacking. Being in Ireland for Christmas, including two days in Galway, has been a timely reminder of just how much I love trad music. I need to maintain that enthusiasm throughout the year and maybe even get out to a session or two.
So that was my scorecard for 2008. One out of four.
Given this woeful result, rather than add or replace any resolutions, I’m going to carry them over into 2009. I’ll start fulfilling them tomorrow. Or maybe Monday.
Please don’t hate me, future self.
Friday, January 5th, 2007
A brilliant list of New Year's Resolutions for Coders.
Monday, January 1st, 2007
Time and motion
There appears to be a meme circulating wherein the past year is tallied by places visited. This dovetails neatly with one of my busiest travel years yet so I’m going to run with it:
- Sierra Vista, Arizona
- Killarney, Ireland
- Austin, Texas
- Basel, Switzerland
- Freiburg, Germany
- Manchester, England
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- London, England
- Saint Augustine, Florida
- Sydney, Australia
- Melbourne, Australia
- Ironbridge, England
- Edinburgh, Scotland
- Orlando, Florida
- Berlin, Germany
The highlight was visiting Australia. That really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It was also a New Year’s resolution I was very happy to have fulfilled.
I’ll be reliving some of that Web Directions magic this year, but in Canada this time. I’ve never been to Vancouver and I’m really looking forward to it. By the way, if you’re still wavering about whether to go to this fine conference, take note that you have been granted a reprieve: the discount pricing has been extended to January 14th, so waver no more.
With Web Directions North looming, and South by Southwest still to come, 2007 is already shaping up to be another fun and busy year. It looks like this will be the year that I finally make it San Francisco.
In between the travelling, I anticipate that I’ll be doing more a lot more work with Clearleft. I spent most of 2006 slacking off real work by writing another book (more on that soon). This year, I want to sink my teeth back into some design work. I can feel my skills atrophying from too much writing and talking and not enough doing.
This year’s resolutions are:
- to get back to some “real” work,
- to keep travelling and speaking (I do love it so!),
- to not write a book,
- to play more bouzouki.
That last one is probably as unrealistic as “to get in shape” but I’m including it to induce the feelings of guilt required to motivate me.