Sign-up is on the Skills Matter page.
I hope you can make it!
I'll be giving a free talk at Skills Matter this week on how to approach evolving towards a micro service-based architecture in order to achieve speed and competitive advantage.
Sign-up is on the Skills Matter page.
I hope you can make it!
I'm really pleased to announce that I'll be participating, as Chief Scientist of Simplicity Itself, in a webinar series alongside the wonderful Si Alhir and a collective of experts (to be announced soon) on how to apply Antifragility to your own organisation and the technologies and systems that underpin it.
There will be two webinars in the series, both on March 18th with one that has good timing for Europe and the other with good timing for the US.
The sorts of things I'll be bringing to the table are hinted at in my recent video with the BBC Academy.
If you'd like to attend the webinar then just head on over to the announcement page to sign up.
Another article from my colleague, David Dawson, was published this week. The man is, figuratively thankfully, literarily on fire at the moment!
This articles best points, for me, cover some guidelines for how to approach building software systems where gaining the advantages of microservices are something you might want to achieve. As such the points that chimed most with me were:
"If you want convenience, build a monolith. They are significantly quicker to start a new project with, quicker to be able to alter the service boundaries as desired. To be able to get that initial jolt of primary development, they are the right answer.
For more sustained innovation and ability to change anything as desired, you must work to reduce the sharing between areas of the system to allow them to move independently of each other. Our life preserver design process and tool takes relative rates of change as the core concept, and so was built to guide this process. It’s ideal for figuring out how to build microservices."
My colleague at Simplicity Itself, David Dawson, has recently published the three articles in a little blog series on our tendency in software development to do “Development by Slogan”, dogmatically converting useful terms into misunderstood and often false dichotomies, often by stripping away context.
The main point I like from the first article in particular is to not propagate development techniques by slogan. Slogan’s have power and we in software development seem particularly hungry for new slogans, terminology and jargon that we happily ignore the original context of and convert rapidly to our own, often over-generalised, means.
The victim that has undergone the journey from useful term to context-less slogan that David picks is Don’t Repeat Yourself, and it is well worth a read!
My daughter, Mali, absolutely loves reading books. Even if she can't understand what is actually going on, her favourite place to go is with me to our favourite book shop, Camilla's in Eastbourne, and then, for anything up to an hour, she will head off into a world of her own within the Children's section of the shop at the back on the ground floor.
Mali also loves to draw. She's wonderfully 'crafty' in everything she does, and in all meanings of the word... She loves sitting with me and the rest of her family and just making things, whether it's hair bands, bead necklaces or just colouring in.
As for me, I love books. I read, write and even attempt to sell them for a living. I'm also an uber Geek but that's not really something I share with Mali just yet.
As it happens I don't just love writing technical books, I have a real passion for making up stories. I've always loved writing stories, even when I was a kid and not just to get myself out of trouble either. One time I wrote the beginning of a story for class, "The Ghoul of Hudson Manor" was the title, and the rest of the class enjoyed it so much I was then tasked with writing a new chapter every day. Quite a writing task for a kid, but frankly I loved it.
So when I was at a bit of a loss one day over the Xmas break to decide what to do together with Mali I decided to combine as many of those things we loved doing together as possible. I decided we would create, write and illustrate a book for fun, and that's just what we did.
Together we wrote "Princess No-Knots and the Lost Unicorn" and published it to the LeanPub platform in a few hours. To be fair, the story was already in our heads as it was one of the stories that I enjoyed making up and telling Mali as her bedtime story when she was tiny. It was fun to read from a book, but even more fun to just make a story up and that way I could really feed off the emotions my little girl was displaying.
LeanPub was the perfect platform for publication as it was just so simple to get the book out there, and of course I'd already been writing a couple of books for self-publication through the platform last year. It's a little quirky for anyone not coming from a software development point of view, and so watch this space for a little instructional video I'm going to record on how to use LeanPub for your own publications with your own children in the coming days.
Mali's biggest contribution was her illustrations that she happily sketched with some pens that were a gift for Xmas while looking at pictures of the things she wanted to work from on the iPad.
We had the whole thing done in a matter of hours and it was a complete blast!
The best part was the sheer enthusiasm I saw in Mali when she was playing with her book on the iPad.
That evening we went for dinner out as a treat and I could see Mali had something on her mind. We were chatting about what foods we liked, and how she can be a little 'picky' these days compared to how many different things she would try as a child.
With a cheeky smile, Mali looked up at me and said "that should be Princess No-Knots' next adventure. She could try all sorts of food. Princess No-Knots and the Delicious Dinner!". And so another story begins... To be continued!
Look out for more Princess No-Knots stories from us by searching on LeanPub. We'll be writing the next Princess No-Knots book this coming weekend.
Also look out for a video I'm creating for YouTube to be titled "How you can write and publish a book with your own kid". The video will hopefully show other interested parents how to get to grips with the simple tools that are needed to write and publish a book with their child to the LeanPub platform.
New Years resolutions rarely work for me. It's not that I have a lack of will-power as such, just that I forget them and habits are, naturally, really hard to unseat!
So this year I thought I'd take some of the ideas from the School of Life and come up with own, more achievable but no less challenging set of resolutions that should have some really good impacts in my life. Here they are:
That's it. In 12 months let's see how well I've done!
As the new year dawns I'll be blogging some reminiscing posts that I'd like to share, so please bear with me and I hope you like them.
There are those moments in life when you really get your breath taken away, your eyes moisten and there's an incredible warmth that starts in your heart and then, without sound too corny, spreads out to what feels like encompassing everyone you've ever known or met.
For me this past holiday season had one such moment, and I get to share it with you because I caught it on my new camera for Geek on a Harley.
There I was, just playing with the video camera and trying to figure out the settings when my Dad decided to play with his new granddaughter, and my new niece, Amber. Like most newborns, she was more interested in the Xmas lights than in my Dad but I thought it might be fun to point the camera in that direction since my Dad was insisting that she was giving him smiles. Yeah, right, it's worth a shot...
My moment then was a short capture of film that led to the following still, and I'm so happy to share it with you now.
Prague, December 2014
I've been thinking about writing a little on introversion every since I did my talk on the subject at this year's Ace! Conference. The wonderful book, "Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that won't stop talking", opened my eyes to something I'd always known; I'm quite introverted.
To anyone that knows me, especially professionally, then that might come as a bit of a shock. "He does public speaking!", "He's always tweeting and blowing!", "How can you be introverted and be so confident with people?". I've had all of those comments made to and around me whenever I broach the subject, so I thought it might be useful to clarify what being introverted means to me.
First up, as the title of this post states, introversion is not a disease or something that needs to be fixed. It's not a mental health 'issue'. It's a deep-seated part of your character. In most enlightened societies we wouldn't dream of telling someone who was homosexual to just 'try and be not gay'. Homosexuality is a good, natural and deep-seated part of a person's identity that should be, and often is, celebrated. The same is true of introversion.
You can't tell an introvert to 'just try to be more of an extrovert', it's not something you have a say in. I'm always wary when I hear someone say "I used to be an introvert, but I got over it". It's not something to be gotten over, it's not a problem. Also what is more likely the case is that you're still an introvert but you've found some strategies that help you integrate better in a world that can be very unaccepting of introversion. Nothing wrong with that, but if you really were introverted in some sense, then you've not magically changed or been 'fixed'; you've just got strategies.
Also introversion is not a 'state'. It's just not the case that you're an introvert or an extrovert. You're somewhere on a scale between them both. I'm not painfully introverted, but I need to turn the volume down and have some alone-time in order to recharge.
At the heart of the misunderstanding is what actually being introverted looks like. I can't speak for other introverts, or about introversion from a professional point of view, but I can describe how my own introversion looks and feels like.
Firstly I'm far from shy. Shyness has nothing to do with introversion.
Introversion for me takes the form of how much I enjoy certain situations. The best example I have is of how I am at a party. Given a large gathering of people, some in big groups with a lot of chattering going on and others where two or three have paired up for a conversation, I'm in the groups of two to three. This is the first indicator of my introversion, I don't like conversation in large groups; I feel swamped with noise and interaction and it makes me very anxious. I naturally gravitate to one-to-one conversations if I can because the volume of the interaction (of which I'm sensitive) is turned way down.
So as an introvert I'm sensitive to too much interaction with loads of people, it's exhausting!
And that's it really. I can mix in large groups, but not for too long. After a while I need to take a break and recharge. I get that recharging from being alone or, maybe, being with one or two others.
I'm sure my skeptical readers will now be busting to point out the flaw in my argument. That flaw is: how do I do public speaking? How do I go about speaking to a roomful of people for days on end on one of my courses? The badly-kept secret is I have strategies to help me.
I've spoken to rooms of up to 3000 people and you'd think that would be the ultimate in exhausting for someone introverted. Even extroverted folks will pale at the thought. I don't though, and here's why...
I talk to one person.
Yes, I know there are potentially thousands of people there, but I can't talk to thousands of people because it would really freak me out. But I can talk to 1, and I'm more comfortable if I am. So that's what I do.
You'll notice as I of my talks that I am looking from one person to another in the audience. That's not actually a speaking technique as such, although it is taught by public speaking coaches. For me it's survival. I move eye contact from one person to another in the room, from side-to-side, so that I can speak to them. Just them. 1-to-1. That's what I'm doing.
If I'm speaking and I'm looking at you, I'm talking to just you. That's how I cope.
I also tend to flee the stage after a talk and head for some time alone, but that's not always possible and I'd hate my audience to not feel they can approach me after a talk. The one-to-one conversations I have after my talks are often the best bit of the whole experience, so please still come up and chat to me. Just realise I'm probably a little tired as I've just been fighting my natural urge to flee for 45 minutes and we'll be just fine.
So that's it really, what introversion means to me and what it looks like. Hopefully that helps people understand it a little better, especially considering the fact that I believe an unusually high percentage of people in our software development industry are introverted in some sense.
Remember that next time that you mandate pair programming 100% of the time to your team members. For the extroverts that amount of interaction is a blessing; for an introvert (and we're likely in the majority) it's torture!
So be kind to your introverts; there's nothing wrong with us and we might just be the best members of your team once you realise that we need that time apart as well.
"Putting the human face on the software that touches our lives ... while riding a great motorbike. Insane enough to work!" - From a friend on the Twitter-sphere
I have a dream... ok, that's probably a little too presumptuous and, given the current, very real civil rights challenges in the US and abroad possibly even in bad taste! But, well, I did have a dream...
Of a show where a bizarre combination of Charlie Boorman and Brian Cox (I am an less attractive version of both I think it's fair to say...) rides a great motorbike around to chat to some of the wonderful people behind the software that touches all our lives. During these travels, our intrepid hero (me!) will drink wine, meet and work with great companies, chat about software/bikes/cars/whatever, and really put a human face on that software that we all take for granted every day of our lives.
Ok, so maybe less a dream, but certainly a mission: I wanted to take software out of the dark closet of mystical technical magicians and into the public collective comprehension like a plunge pool after a sauna. We all 'use' software, but who are these lovely, crazy and, sometimes, downright entertaining and funny individuals behind it all? What did they feel when the created a tool that now millions use daily? What happened to them after they went boom, or bust? What was their biggest success, and the thing they regret the most...
This is the story that "Geek on a Harley" is going to tell. I'll be the 'Geek', and your tour guide, but the people, and the chats I have along the way, are the point. You'll never think the same about software again.
Software is not some mystical device of a technical elite, it's everywhere and it's created by some of the most interesting individuals I've ever met. And now I get to meet them and put their stories centre stage. What fun!
I also get to ride my own and rented Harley-Davidson motorcycles ... a lot ... how 'bad' can that possible be!
The "Geek on a Harley" tour and accompanying video blog is now a GO. Follow it here:
I'm writing the "Guidebook for Software Architects" in one day, today.
Here's the table of contents I've set myself as the challenge:
Please get in touch if you think I'm missing anything: @russmiles on Twitter.
20% of the book royalties are going to Young Minds.
Update! Now 100% of the proceeds from this book are going to Young Minds!