An assortment of indigestible things

Category: random

Emotional disconnection and ‘shields down’

Empty officeWhen you last resigned from a job, when did you decide to leave? Can you identify a point in time, whether it was a flash of realisation or a slow dawning, when your relationship with your employer shifted from ‘attached’ to ‘it’s complicated’?

Shields Down‘, an excellent piece from Michael Lopp’s blog Rands in Repose, suggests that this often happens when an unexpected opportunity presents itself: you agree to go and have a chat at another outfit, and in that instant your shields are down. In the moments that follow, you weigh your current job with an envisioned alternative future, and ultimately make a calculated decision: should I stay or should I go?

We need to talk: well-being in the tech sector

A circle of chairsIn 2013 I attended the wonderful DevOpsDays in London. On the first day there were a series of Ignite talks: a terrifying ordeal where the speaker gets five minutes to talk about something while their slides advance tyrannically every 15 seconds. I always watch them with a mixture of awe, angst, and terror that someone will eventually force me to do one. They range from the mundane through the muddled via the baffling to the fascinating. On that day, Mike Preston gave a talk called ‘Burnout—the elephant in the room’. The audience was silent and in thrall.

This really happened to someone!

Will you be ready?Has this ever happened to you?

I just wanted to warn all of my friends about something that has been occuring more and more lately, all through out the country. Groups of teenagers have been caught, in alarming numbers, playing a new and dangerous game called Spunkball. Spunkball consists of a group of teens in a car pulling up to a stop light, and looking around for a car stopped near by with an open window. When one is spotted, the teens shout, “Spunkball”, and throw a gasoline soaked rag that has been wrapped in aluminum foil threw the open window. On the outside of the foil is attatched a small fire cracker, with the fuse lit. When the fire cracker explodes, it shreds the foil, and the rag is ignited, causing a large flame that may catch the interior of the car on fire. Spunkball playing has already claimed two lives, caused uncountable injuries due to burns, and caused thousands of dollars in damage to automobiles. The best defense, say authorities, is to keep all windows rolled up when stopped at traffic lights, as only cars with windows down are being targeted.

How to stop Thunderbird hammering your CPU

My mail client of choice is Thunderbird. It’s always served me well, but recently I’ve noticed that my laptop’s battery life is abysmal when it’s running. A bit of poking reveals that it’s a real CPU hog if you have large mail folders (and I never delete anything!). Finally I found this bug report which has a working solution. It makes Thunderbird 17.0.2 much more gentle on the CPU, and according to the report, should work from version 15 onwards. Perhaps they’ll fix this by default eventually, but for now here’s a quick step-by-step on how to fix the problem yourself.

The fragments of a short and tragic life

The story of Jewish migration in the last 150 years is amply documented. It is a seemingly endless trail of persecution, destitution, and desperate flight from home. Its legacy is written across the world, and is etched into the modern Jewish character: many older Jews will wear expensive jewellery as an instinctive hedge against the possibility that one day they might have to flee. Ultimately—at least from a popular modern perspective—it was a story with a happy ending: those that escaped worked hard and eventually built successful lives elsewhere, securing a bright future for their children. Of course this is saccharine. Like the refugees of today, many migrants remained desperate and obscure, leaving little for history to record. From the fragments that remain, I have reconstructed the life of one unremarkable man.

Did you know Don Richards?

This grainy image is the only picture I have ever seen of my maternal grandfather David Samuel Richards, known to his friends as Don. He worked for a family in Theydon Bois in the 1930s, as an engineer at Martin-Baker during and after the war, and was also an amateur wrestler. My grandmother divorced him in 1960, shortly before destroying every piece of evidence that he ever existed. All contact was subsequently lost. This may be the only surviving image.

Motorway service areas: what are they for?

Anyone who has driven a reasonable distance in mainland Britain will have spent much of that time staring blankly at three lanes of fast traffic, speedometer pegged at 70, occasionally swearing at middle-lane hoggers, periodically being asked if we’re there yet, and wishing for it to be over soon. And if you’ve spent more than a couple of hours doing that, you’ll have given in to hunger, thirst (whether yours or the car’s) or bladder pressure and visited the most British of hell’s circles: the motorway service area.

Digitising my radio memorabilia

Radio Sofia logo

A few weeks ago I dug out two bulging ring-binders full of brochures, letters, leaflets and books that I received in the late 80s and early 90s from radio stations all over the world. I scanned a fascinatingly po-faced bit of propaganda from communist Albania, before (possibly foolishly) deciding to scan the lot and make it all available. I figured that some of this stuff must be pretty rare, and possibly of interest to someone or other. Then again, maybe not 🙂

It’s a huge task: I’m no archivist, and I don’t have a big fancy scanner like they do at work, so it’ll be a while before it’s all available.

Have a look at what I’ve done so far (at the time of writing I’m only half-way through ‘C’!).

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