After being inspired by Veronique’s and Dave’s similar posts, I’ve put together some things about me that you might not know:
1. I can’t draw
If you want an interface sketched then everything’s fine, but anything that doesn’t involve a ruler turns into a wiggly horrifying mess. This put a slight dampener on my childhood dream of becoming an artist: My teenage sketches prompted my art teacher to ask if I was drawing with the correct hand.
Similarly, my handwriting is so bad it makes my eyes water to read it.
2. I have a very varied music taste
I listen to everything from Folk to Industrial, with a particular liking for Indie. Apparently this is a family trait, and led to me and my mum going to see Rammstein in concert together (twice).
I have my limits, though. I’m afraid I’m not a Bassline Junkie.
3. I’m doing a cycle challenge
I’ve babbled on about it before, but I couldn’t pass up another opportunity. I’m cycling from London to Brussels (230 miles) in September to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Society: How to kill a software developer: 2000 miles of cycling
At the moment that means spending most of my spare cash on cycle parts, spending most of each Saturday riding around the Cotswolds, and getting into work looking like… well, like I’ve cycled 15 miles in blazing sunshine, to be honest: Sweaty, smelly, and pink as a flamingo.
4. I was a manager for a year
It doesn’t sound very interesting, but it was probably one of the most important years in my career. I learned more in that year than in any other year to date:
- How software projects are seen and initiated in senior management
- How being in middle-management is like being between a rock and a hard place
- How making a decision (even the wrong one) can save days of discussions and delays
- Responsibility should be taken, not given: You make the boundaries of your role
5. Evernote is my brain extension
I use Evernote so much it’s ridiculous. To date I have (including but not limited to):
- 49 blog article ideas/notes/drafts
- 20 software specs (unfinished)
- 7 monthly logs (“Dear diary…”)
- 20 unfinished (often unstarted) short stories
- An entire fictional universe (ready to be made into a game)
6. I can’t stop using analogies
I use analogies like a cow produces gas: Unexpectedly frequently and often accidentally. If I’m not using an analogy to explain something then I’m probably telling a related story instead.
For example, just recently I described a software problem as “… like a trap someone set in the Amazon jungle: Whatever’s inside is going ‘Quack!’, but no-one wants to believe it’s a duck”.
7. I always have at least 2 side-projects running
For some reason work, a 1-year-old daughter, and a high-maintenance wife (no offense meant, high-maintenance-wife) is not enough to keep me sufficiently stressed, so I end up doing all kinds of side-projects. I even have a Trello list to help me keep track of them.
Currently I have the cycle challenge (mentioned above) and a Jobsheet-tracking system I made for my father-in-law’s company, which I’m converting into something more widely useful.
8. Believe that regret and anger are useful tools
Here on in is a bit preachy, so you may want to bail now.
When I’ve done something I regret, I use it to push me to do something constructive with it:
- Set it right as best I can: Usually an apology or at least an even-handed explanation
- Avoid it in future: I try to understand how it came about and how it can be avoided or better-handled
- Don’t wallow: Every time I feel regret from that point on is just a reinforcement of my conclusions in 2.
If 1. and 2. don’t apply, then it isn’t regret: It’s usually something else disguised as regret.
When I’m angry I tend to dig through it to find out what’s actually bugging me: I might be angry at an inconsiderate driver, but the real reason is that I’m running late because I stayed in bed too long.
Then I try to do something constructive with it: This could be refactoring an inflexible code module or trying to figure out a better route to work. Occasionally the most constructive action is just to let the anger go, making the world a slightly better place by not passing it on.
9. I’m a Pacifist
Mostly through luck and partly through patience I’ve never hit someone in anger. Well, I shoved a couple of people when I was a teenager, but that’s probably about it.
10. I’m an Agnostic
Unfortunately faith has never struck a chord with me. I have nothing against anyone that holds faith of any form, as long as they use it to drive themselves to be better people.
More controversially, I see Atheism as a faith too: Humanity as a whole doesn’t even understand how little it knows about the universe, so how can anyone say there’s enough evidence to disprove the existence of anything?