One of the things I hear on occasion is the maxim ‘People buy from people’. Usually what people mean when they say this is that the only real way to sell things to people is to go meet them, shake their hands, wine and dine them, play golf with them, organise trade delegations to impress them, and so on. I’m sure that’s still the way it works in some industries, especially those which are large, slow-moving and headed mainly by the over-50s who are most comfortable negotiating over walnut boardroom tables.

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Once upon a time

politics

One upon a time, Lord Poncenby of Moneyshire rode into the small town of Greensville, atop a magnificent white steed and accompanied by an extensive retinue in finest livery. He declared that he loved the town so much, he had come to offer his grace and favour to the simple folk. If they would only swear fealty to his Lordship, and agree to a few modest conditions and changes in the town, he promised they would enjoy a bounty such that the town had never seen.

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It seems de rigueur right now for governments and businesses to come together to collectively form skills strategies, in order to co-ordinate the employment needs of business with the output of the education system. On the face of it, this sounds completely logical - kids will eventually grow up and need jobs, and businesses will need new employees to replace those moving on. But somehow, the concept of aligning education with the needs of existing businesses makes me rather uncomfortable.

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I was a manager of developers in an organisation for a few years, and during that period I learned a lot. But if I’m honest, I learned far more about being a manager from leading a large open source project for 10 years, because that taught me a lot about what makes developers tick. Of course, I’ve always been a developer myself too, but you often don’t think that clearly about your own motivations.

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For no particular reason except that a few of these occurred to me while relaxing this week on our ample coastline… The free diver Plumbs dangerous depths with little or no assistance or safety gear, far from the glow of natural light. Examples: Kernel programmers, graphics programmers The jet skier Skims along the surface covering a lot of ground: agile but also capricious, never staying too long. Try not to get caught in their wake.

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It’s always gratifying, and a little weird, when I see books being written about OGRE - it just serves to illustrate (if any more evidence was needed) how far the project has come since I created that first ‘vertex coloured triangle’ rendering test on my home computer 12 years ago. I’ve been retired from the project for a while now, but I still get asked my opinion about things sometimes, and Packt were nice enough to send me a copy of this new book by Ilya Grinblat and Alex Peterson, OGRE 3D 1.

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I fired up my desktop Windows PC for the first time in a while recently, and the first thing I realised is that I absolutely hated the keyboard. This was nothing to do with the slight differences between the PC and Mac keyboard layouts, the latter of which I’ve become more accustomed over the last couple of years, nor was it about whether the keys were mechanical or scissor switched, or any such nuance.

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For the purposes of this post, I’m going to assume that the reader is a relatively normal person, and not a raging egomaniac, or a nihilistic sociopath - investment bankers, you might want to stop reading now ;). Still with me? OK. So, I don’t know precisely what you do for a living; given my usual readership you’re quite likely to be a software developer, but I believe this applies pretty universally.

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I’m an avid believer in the value of ‘playing the long game’ - that is, the concept that it’s worth foregoing short-term benefits, or indeed enduring short-term pain, in pursuit of a more significant long-term gain. This kind of thinking is a basic requirement of anyone who has chosen to run their own business at some point, because it’s always easier and more immediately financially beneficial to take a ‘safe’ job offer rather than to leap into the unknown, a place of short-term cash flow issues and uncertain future gains.

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If you haven’t come across them already, I strongly recommend you take a few minutes with this HBR blog: In Defense of Polymaths, and also Adam Savage’s commencement address to Sarah Lawrence. Both are insightful pieces on the fallacy that is the tendency to believe that specialism in a narrow field is the answer to a fulfilling life experience, and ultimately to ‘success’, whatever that means - usually money, possessions and peer recognition.

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