Spring 2020 round-up


A round-up of tweets, links and other gubbins from the past few months (click here to read the previous instalment).

What I've been working on

Well this has been one of the weirdest periods I've written about so far. As I mentioned at the end of my last update, the onset of spring saw the global coronavirus pandemic suddenly turn my company into a team of 100% home-workers - 3 months on, and that's still the case. I'm an old-hand at "WFH", so I adjusted fairly easily. I'm pleased to say that the rest of the team also seem to have taken well to the new-normal - which is helpful, since I suspect it may be some time before we're all sat together at our desks in the office again...

Actually, I'd say I have more than "adjusted" - I've thoroughly enjoyed being a full-time home worker again. Even though I'm working longer hours, I've been seeing more of my family, exercising more, and generally enjoying a better quality of life. I am DEFINITELY not missing the commute. And I can't really imagine cramming into an over-crowded train again anytime soon, masks or no masks, how weird would that be?

As I say, the hours have been long, but the work has been varied and interesting. At the start of the period I helped design an ecommerce site for one of our clients - several APIs, quite a few moving parts. Unfortunately the project got canned just a couple of days into the build, but we soon won another ecommerce project, this time for a company selling high-end meal subscriptions online. I can't say too much at this stage, but it's been an enjoyable project so far, and has thrown me further into the deep-end of WordPress development than I've probably swam before.

Like many old-school developers from a compiled/statically-typed language background, I can't help but be a bit sniffy when it comes to WordPress and PHP. So it's been a good challenge to put my baggage and language-prejudices to one side and fully embrace the WordPress Way ™. There are still plenty of things that drive me nuts when working with PHP, but on the whole it's been fun to work on something different for a while. But make no mistake, once the dust settles, I'll be happy to put my C# hat firmly back on my head :-)

What I've been reading

Master and Commander, by Patrick O'Brian
The Penultimate Truth, by Philip K. Dick

What I've been tweeting

Well there's a surprise: "...government has been forced to abandon a centralised coronavirus contact-tracing app after spending three months and millions of pounds on technology that experts had repeatedly warned would not work..."

Yes, websites really are starting to look more similar...

Useful summary of the current state-of-the-nation in the ASP.NET development world:

I have mixed feelings about the proposed coronavirus contact-tracing app - I understand the need to at least try something, the argument that it's better to have a half-working solution than nothing at all. But I'm equally sympathetic to the legitimate privacy concerns, and highly sceptical that such a system will even work in practice. And of course none of the contact-tracing apps can address surface contact transmission, which we've been led to believe is the most prevalent route of infection, hence all the hand-washing.
Here are a couple of opinion pieces which cover a lot of my concerns:

"Killed by Google". I'm not sure I ever really forgave them for killing Reader... (but thank you so much to Feedly for filling the void!)

Oh wow. Prepare to descend into a rabbit-hole of musical genres with "Every Noise at Once"
(I just learned more about Welsh hip hop than I ever wanted to know...)

Working from home for the first time, and missing that "background buzz"?

I wasn't that familiar with Zoom before the recent work-from-home lockdown (we tend to use Google Meet/Hangouts and Microsoft Teams), but I _am_ familiar with security legend Bruce Schneier, and it's fair to say he has a few concerns...

Very cool - using a data set of 19th century beetle illustrations to train a machine learning algorithm to generate new imaginary species:

There are lots of "how to be a remote worker" articles doing the rounds right now. I thought this one was quite helpful because of the amount of links to useful online tools for remote work and collaboration (many of which I've used myself over the years):