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 It also presents a fair number of practices that aren’t good or are outdated.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

My parents are coming!

In my head, I’m dancing around on the streets, hugging random people, shouting out loud, “My parents are coming! My parents are coming!”

Been four years since I last met them in person. About bloody time! I’m going dancing in the streets…

Work vs work

PN: How’s it going, Adi?

Me: It’s ok. I’m glad Wednesday’s nearly over.

PN: *laughs* You looking forward to the weekend already?

Me: No, I’m looking forward to Thursday, so I can put my head down and work.

PN: *laughs out loud*

Wednesday is the meetings filled day in our team. Tuesday is quite bad too. Thursday is a designated meetings free day in the huddle.

Smell

Lea: What are you smelling right now?

Shaun: Pine trees

Shaun collects and connects his memories with smells. He says it aloud, but I think we all do it.

Cool, humid hill air missed with diesel fumes

My strongest smell connection is a mix of cool & humid mountain air mixed with diesel fumes. That reminds me of the place I loved the most whole growing up – Shimla. Every time I walk past a delivery lorry spewing half burnt diesel fumes just after it has rained, I’m immediately flung to Shimla in the 90s.

There are more smells connected to memories, but this one is the strongest, and the most unique.

Happy

The whole team is working on a moderately big redesign. M & I are pairing on a spike to massively upgrade the technical implementation for a core part of the so, to support the design change.

Today, after we’d reached a significant milestone on our spike, I showed PAM1 the app as it works with the changes.

She. Loved. It!

She took it around the team showing the upgrade to everyone – other engineers, designers, PMs…Everyone. Everyone loved it, but the people who loved it the most were PAM and PN2. I could hear PN cooing over it for a long time. They both couldn’t stop smiling. Remembering the joy on their faces has plastered a smile on mine. Made my day ☺️


  1. She’s a senior UX designer playing a leading role in the redesign 
  2. He’s one of our product managers. He also co-led an earlier design upgrade which was shelved due to a change of management. Today’s change included much of the work that was part of the original plan. 

Dexter

I’ve wanted to watch the show for a while, but never got down to it.

On the train back today, I downloaded the book on the Kindle and started reading. It’s good.

A moment ago, I remembered that the serial is available on Now TV. Started watching the first episode.

The first scene was meh. It’s much better in the book. The second scene, the day time job, looked better. But I haven’t finished that scene in the book yet.

I’ve hit the pause. On the TV series.

I’ll finish the book, then come back for the TV series, then go back for the rest of the books.

Author’s words + my imagination Vs the actor and the director. I’m with the former, of course 🙂