Writing ... or Just Practicing?

Random Disconnected Diatribes of a p&p Documentation Engineer

  • Blog Post: Call In a Specialist

    In the rapidly expanding realm of computing technologies, it's reasonable to assume that most developers have only a limited spread of knowledge. I regularly hear it said that keeping up with the welter of new frameworks, platforms, systems, and capabilities is almost impossible. Except that it's only...
  • Blog Post: Meandering Meanings

    I bet you didn't know that the word "Wikipedia" actually means "fast child". And that the towns of Pendle Hill in Lancashire and Bredon Hill in Worcestershire both have names that mean "hill hill hill". No, neither did I until I bought Mark Forsyth's book "The Etymologicon" (which, incidentally, means...
  • Blog Post: Who Ate All The Pi?

    Here in the UK, you have to wonder where our next generation of developers and programmers will come from. What has changed over the past twenty years that seems to be destroying the curiosity and passion we used to have for learning about computer language theory, algorithms, and programming techniques...
  • Blog Post: The Rule of "It Depends"

    It seems odd that, in order for a rule to be valid, there has to be an exception. According to the well-known phrase "the exception that proves the rule", this must be the case. Yet watching a TV quiz show the other week, I was amazed to discover that one of the rules I've applied most days of my working...
  • Blog Post: Living In a Land of Invented Languages

    They've been advertising the book "In the Land of Invented Languages" by Arika Okrent on The Register web site for a while, and I finally caved in and bought a copy. And I have to say it's quite an amazing book. It really makes you think about how languages have evolved, and how we use language today...
  • Blog Post: The Latest Love of My (Programming) Life?

    Is it really possible to love jQuery? It certainly seems like it is from the numerous blog and forum posts I've read while trying to figure out how to make it do some fairly simple things. Many of the posts end with rather disturbing terms of endearment: "...this is why I just love jQuery" being a typical...
  • Blog Post: Does Web Matrix Have the Razor's Edge?

    Perhaps I can blame the Christmas spirit (both ethereal and in liquid form) for the fact that I seem to have unwarily drifted out of the warm and fuzzy confines of p&p, and into the stark and unfamiliar world of our EPX parent. A bit like a rabbit caught in the headlights, I guess. I keep looking...
  • Blog Post: When Did the Web Get a Small "w"?

    Here in England, the well-known and much loved actress Emma Thompson recently started a debate about the use by kids of slang terms that only serve to make them sound stupid. She cites things such as "yeahbut", "like", "innit" (perhaps an abbreviated form of "I'm a nitwit"), and use of the word "well...
  • Blog Post: Joie de VB-er

    Well I'd have to say I haven't had so much fun for ages. Playing with familiar stuff (and some less familiar stuff) has revived my joy of writing complicated algorithms and creating useful utilities. It's almost like being back in the old days of creating COM components for classic ASP web sites to do...
  • Blog Post: Your Giraffe Is Upside Down...

    Reading a UK computer magazine last week, I came across the delightful phrase "like playing a recording of a swarm of hornets to a group of blindfolded mime artists". It conjures up a vivid mental picture of events such as might occur at a product development meeting where somebody suggests rewriting...
  • Blog Post: Move Over Harry Potter

    I can't honestly say that I've ever been much of a patron of the dark arts. Mind you, a few years ago I was fascinated to see a chapter for a book on ADO.NET that I'd written come back from review with fifteen paragraphs about devil worship in the middle of it. I was about half way through editing this...
  • Blog Post: Suffering Suffixes, Batman

    One of the features of working from home is that, if you aren't careful, you can suddenly find that you haven't been outside for several days. In fact, if you disregard a trip to the end of the drive to fetch the wheely bin, or across the garden to feed the goldfish, I probably haven't been outside for...
  • Blog Post: Unbound Generics: an Open and Closed Case

    There's a well known saying that goes something like "Please engage brain before shifting mouth into gear". And another that says "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen". Yet, after what's now more than a year as a fulltime 'Softie, I've managed to avoid being flamed for any of my weekly...
  • Blog Post: Some Consolation...

    Suddenly, here at chez Derbyshire, it's 1996 again all over again. Instead of spending my days creating electronic guidance and online documentation in its wealth of different formats and styles, I'm back to writing real books. Ones that will be printed on paper and may even have unflattering photos...
  • Blog Post: Generically Modified

    Despite being a writer by profession, and regularly castigating my colleagues for being recalcitrant in reviewing stuff I write, I actually dislike doing reviews myself. When I was an independent author (before I signed my life away to Microsoft), I was often approach by companies offering to pay me...
  • Blog Post: Syntactic Strain

    In between the usual spates of frantic two-fingered typing of exciting new guidance this week, I've been attempting to expand my brain to the size of a small asteroid (with appropriate apologies to Douglas Adams fans, the size of a planet seems a rather optimistic aim). All this comes about because an...
  • Blog Post: Woefully Inadequate Kollaboration Implementation

    It's a good thing that Tim Berners-Lee is still alive or he'd probably be turning in his grave. I was hoping to find that my latest exploration of W eb-based I nterfaces for K ommunicating I deas would lead me to some W onderfully I ntuitive K it I ntended for sharing knowledge and collecting feedback...
  • Blog Post: Time Flies Like An Arrow, But Not At Frankfurt Airport

    As a writer, I enjoy the weirdness of words. In the English (and US English) language, and particularly in technical writing, words often mean something distinctly different from their initially apparent meaning. When I'm looking at text provided by other members of the teams I work with, such as developers...
  • Blog Post: Convoluted, Devoluted, Or Just Engblish?

    Maybe I've been asleep for the last few months, or just head-down working on my current project, but it seems I am the only person in the world who wasn't aware that a new version of Windows was on the way. Well, the only geek anyway. I don't mean the "Mojave" stunt - I mean what is currently referred...
  • Blog Post: Being Objective...

    I was party to a discussion a couple of weeks ago that wandered off topic (as so many I'm involved in seem to do) into the concepts of whether a programmer is actually "OO" or not. I guess I have to admit to being a long-time railway (railroad) fanatic - an unfortunate tendency that has even, in the...
  • Blog Post: Preaching What You Practice

    A couple of years ago I (somewhat inadvertently) got involved in learning more about software design patterns than I really wanted to. It sounded like fun in the beginning, in a geeky kind of way, but soon - like so many of my "I wonder" ideas - spiralled out of control. I was daft enough to propose...
  • Blog Post: Lost in the Translation

    I suppose most people have a "natural" language. I pride myself on the fact that I speak three languages: English, American, and Shouting (used in all other situations). However, while the majority of us geeks are probably mono-dialectic or bi-dialectic in terms of spoken languages, we do tend to be...
  • Blog Post: Journalistic Over-enthusiasm

    Sometimes you just have to feel sorry for developers. They slave away with their high-powered computers, multiple monitors, and earphones stuffed into their ears; glued to the same chair day after day as they battle with endless lines that basically all say the same thing. With only a hundred or so different...
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