Long weekend diary

Thursday evening

Bought and brought P’s new car home — a Tucson. It’s full of jazz and gadgets, but the lack of acceleration is a major bummer, especially after getting used to the Leaf.

Good Friday


Started the day with gardening. Potted the last two hydrangeas, three new mums, a bougainville, and a huechera – all nearly dead from thirst.
Deadheaded some daffodils, and watered all the pots.

Took the boys for a short walk, then drove to Coventry to see parents and sister. First long drive in P’s car. Acceleration is still totally crap, but it really comes into form on the motorways.

Spent the evening with family, including a trip to the pub.

Saturday
Dad and Chewie hugging
Dad and Chewie getting going

Lots of lazying around, and gorging on great food. Bit of shopping for Indian groceries. Some tidying up in Sis’ garden. Liverpool v City on the TV. Drive back home, with a bonus passenger – dad came along to spend the week with Chewie.

Easter Sunday


Bit of gardening – prepared a new basket, trimmed and topped up an old one, another attempt at getting a plant going in the fixed semi container. The mums and huechera that I potted and watered on Thursday were looking sprightly already.

Went swimming. Visited R’s friends, 3A+S. Was real fun to meet the two kids. Didn’t get to speak to A much.

Back holiday Monday

Morning of bit more gardening. Affixed the hanger for new basket. Watered the baskets and container, and the pelargoniums that spent the winter in the conservatory. Added support to two Clematis.

Cooked English breakfast for all. For lunch.

Went for a long walk in the Chantry woods with dad and the boys. Bluebells all around!

Gardening diary

11 April

Potted Coleus cuttings

Potted Carnations cuttings

Hard trimmed the new hydrangeas

Moved cyclamen from pots to bedding

Potted new Chrysanthemums

Bought new Chrysanthemums, couple of moss Phlox, a Huchera, lots of peat-free compost, weed fabric for the side gutter, and a bracket for the new garden basket.

Still haven’t mowed the back lawn. It’s about an inch growth away from being declared a forest.

Non gardening update: finally put up new lights in the upstairs bathroom, with help from P. It took some effort, but it’s now the best lit bathroom in the house 🙂

Gardening diary

29 March

Refreshed container water for coleus cuttings – two have roots sprouting, one seems to be a dud.

Planted a few more saxifrage, and gave the corner a temporary border.

Repotted Acers into Ericaceous compost and bigger pots.

Potted the two new hydrangeas. Got them for super cheap as marked down surplus stock of mother’s day gifts (£2.16 for rooted, blooming hydrangeas!)
Mom decided to mark her mother’s connection by doing the final potting under my guidance.

Weekend diary

25 March

Went to London with parents. Borough market (Brindisa stall is gone 🙁). Tower bridge (glass floor walkways are real fun). Oxford Circus, Regent Street, Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square.

26 March

Gardening. Trimmed the fuchsia. Mowed the front lawn. Started the begonia tubers.

27 March

Costco morning. Among other things, got an air fryer, three mid-large pots, bags of ericaceous compost and feed (Acers aren’t happy ATM), and pack of Gillette shaving gel cans.

Used the air fryer to make samosas. Yum!

Finally learnt how to use shaving gels, and shaved. About time! And oh so awesome 🙂

Spoilt the atmosphere by breaking the news to parents that they won’t come back to Guildford once they leave on the weekend.

Gardening diary

18 March

Planted long overdue primroses.

Trimmed Sedum and Hydrangeas.

Potted carnations cuttings

19 March

Watered all indoor plants.

Fed liquid feed to most outdoor plants – roses, clematis, Acer, chrysanthemums, campanulas, etc.

Did top dressing with solid feed for all Hydrangeas.

Topped up wood chip mulch.

20 March

Planted saxifrage on leaf much. Trying to create a carpet.

Planted a few other ground cover plants to preempt the weeds

De-weeded the front flower bed (weed = ever spreading Japanese anemone)

The newly planted primroses and a white campanula that I hope spreads a bit.
The newly planted primroses and a white campanula that I hope spreads a bit.

Martin Robert C, the ace marketer

His book is ok as a developer guide. It presents a fair number of good practices. It also presents a fair number of practices that aren’t good or are outdated. I personally don’t like that he often fails to, or even refuses to explain the reasons for following the practices he preaches. I prefer to understand why we do something in a particular way, instead of just being told to do it that way. Overall, I don’t find his book a great resource.

There’s something that else I liked about his book. It’s a great example of how to market ideas and occupy domains.

Early in the book he calls himself Uncle Bob. In one go, he’s established a personal connection with the reader, established himself as a father figure to listen to, gotten over the hurdle of a non memorable formal name, and given the readers a common term to identify him with. A non trivial number of people I interview mention Uncle Bob. They may be violating most of the practices he preaches, but they identify with the name.

Another bit of magic is in the book name, Clean Code. In one go, he’s taken ownership of a commonly used term. No developer can now call their code clean without Robert’s principles being brought up. No matter how readable, understandable, refactorable your code is, if it falls foul of Robert’s rules, it will be challenged by one of his many disciples. And no matter how hard to read and understand your code may be, if it aligns with his principles, it’ll be defended as Clean Code.

The marketing skill is present beyond the names too. That bit that I hate about the book – that there’s little to no justification provided for the principles it preaches. That’s a marketing skill too. A combination of “Clean” in the title, a fatherly “Uncle Bob” and good sounding practices means the lack of rationale helps readers accept them faster. Providing reasoning behind them might have made readers think and, maybe, disagree. As any parent knows, once kids disagree and get away with one thing, more disagreements are coming. The teenager years have begun. It’s not clean if followers disagree and disregard part of the scripture.

Overall, the combination of various marketing practices in the book remind me of many things, none of them about good coding. Uncle Bob reminds me of Ronald McDonald, the character that marketed McDonald’s as a healthy, family place. It reminds me of the many “Green” initiatives corporates take. It reminded me most of the modern religions and cults – the leader is a father figure, the cult name is a vague but valued noun or phrase, there’s no questioning of the leader’s dictats, and disagreements are decided based on how closely aligned are with the dictats.

Continue reading Martin Robert C, the ace marketer

The upside

We’re starting a new, interesting project. It’s big, it’s new, it’s challenging. It involves working with multiple teams across the organisation. I want to work on it. Looks like I’m not going to.

Early indications are that I’ll instead be leading a different workstream. Another colleague will be leading the new, interesting project. Not good.

We’ve got a consultant on the team. He’s fairly experienced and quite good at structuring solutions. He also has strongly opinionated working practices, and refuses to change them unless he’s directly ordered to. We’re a friendly, consensual organisation, so we won’t order him, and he doesn’t change his tune. Not good.

But there’s an upside.

The consultant will be working on the new project. This means I won’t have to see his code. I won’t have to worry that there’s no documentation, or that every class has 50 2-line functions. I won’t need to hear him again explain that there’s no point to adding UI tests if we can’t have a full test suite of multiple layers of tests.

If anyone asks me in a year how something works in that project’s code, I can honestly say “I don’t know” without feeling bad about it. It’s not my failure that that code is not well documented. It’s not my failure if it’s not easy to read or understand. It’s not my failure if the context for the changes is lost over time. I won’t have the daily anxiety of needing to review and approve code that I know will be indecipherable in 6 months. Good.

The icing would be if I can convince the colleagues on my workstream to accept documentation, deeper implementations, and other similar practices as the norm. Not, as he said, a matter of taste.

Continue reading The upside

WFH – stated and revealed preferences

A few months ago, the organisation floated an optional survey about return to office. It was slightly biased, and didn’t touch upon certain areas the many WFHers wanted to get feedback on.

For me, another big issue with the survey was that it collected stated preferences, and that too with a big selection bias due to being optional.

The survey findings, summarised, were used as a reason to mandate everyone to come to office at least 2 days a week.

A month of going into office, Covid cases in UK started increasing again. The organisation removed the mandate to come to office in November, making it optional.

This made an interesting scenario to get a pulse of the revealed preferences. Some early observations…

The number of people coming into office has reduced visibly. Drastically. Equally interesting has been the split. Number of people in deep work roles, like developers, have almost completely stopped coming to office. Numbers in pipeline roles – managers of various things and people mostly – are going into office a bit more. There’s also, expectedly, a strong inverse relationship between commute time and office attendance.

Anyone wanting to do an honest, unbiased assessment of people’s preferences about coming to office, now has a good dataset readily available. Just collect and compare data of our security pass swipes for November and October.

Continue reading WFH – stated and revealed preferences