Interesting Stuff Club
Our monthly round up of anything we’re doing and learning in our own time.
Aside from that, I’ve been watching ‘The Century of The Self’ a 4-part documentary on how society has evolved from a ‘needs’ to a ‘desires’ economy, and how governments and corporations have exploited Freudian theories to control the masses. Its over 10 years old but is still incredibly relevant and fascinating for anyone interested in psychology and behaviour. They’re available for free on freedocumentaries.org too so no excuse not to arm yourself with the knowledge to prevent yourself from being manipulated!”
“I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia trip and gone back to my Physics A Level. the big talk at the time was the Hubble telescope. It had a rocky start; just as it was ready to launch the Challenger disaster struck, meaning they had to wait four years before launching. When they did launch, there was a big event and they took the first photo in front on national press and on live TV, but when it came through, it was all blurry. Hubble was based on a big mirror to capture light, but it transpired that the external mirror had been measured ever so slightly wrong. Eventually a clever optics person realised that they couldn’t change the external mirror as it was too big, so they added hundreds of mirrors around the receiver to correct the image. I think it’s just a really good story of success, following an initial failure.”
“I’ve just joined a group called 10 Digital Ladies, which, as the title suggests, is for women only. I think it’s a great idea as there’s obviously not many women in the tech industry. The groups remain small and specific, meaning that like minded people can have a worthwhile discussion.
Aside from that, I’ve been watching The Secret History of Our Streets, which uses George Booth’s maps to analyse how London’s streets have changed over time. In some cases, in only a hundred years, whole streets have switched from being inhabited by the wealthy, to slums, and now back to the very wealthy. If you want to check out how Shoreditch fared, there’s one of Booth’s maps on the wall of Trade cafe. They also do very good brunch!”
“I’ve been looking in to the presentation of design lately, and how we can make it more interesting for clients. I’ve recently been sharing my designs via telephone, which is quite hard. The best advice I’ve seen is ‘Keynote’ which is a talk by Mike Monteiro; the author of Design Is A Job. He covers the main factors that will cause your presentations to fall apart, and recommends what to do instead. It’s a really entertaining talk and he’s honest. All of his advice is based on mistakes he’s made as a designer, and it’s all things that we can relate to.
I’ve also been following a quite intense course that covers all aspects of UX design from the beginning of the process to the end. It’s great as it includes practical examples: reading a book can sometimes not be as easy to grasp. I’m 6 hours into the 12 hour course, but I’ve already learned loads, especially with regard to carrying out research and the importance of user story mapping.”
“For a few months now i’ve been learning about Docker. It’s recently gained a lot of attention because it allows developers to build much more portable applications with any dependencies. It’s been really interesting so far, and I’ve started writing Rake tasks so I don’t have to remember the complex commands.
Back to space! I found that an article that theorises that universe is dictated by ‘information’. This means that in the future in theory we could simulate the whole universe where every atom could be an object-orientated programme.”
“I’ve just read a controversial article about code katas, and I agreed with some points, but not others.. The article states that writing the same code over and over again is not the best way for a developer to learn. The author refers to himself as a ‘master walker’, as walking is a task he repeats every day, but doesn’t get ‘better’ at it. He then goes on to give an example of a girl wanting to learn to code and she challenges herself to create 180 web apps in 180 days. You can see where she was when she started and where she was when she finished, and she learned a lot. I think the key to learning is maybe pushing yourself a bit harder, as well as by practising.
Other than that, I’ve been watching a few videos from developers who want to be better at design, so they cover topics like typefaces and readability. To put what I’ve learned into practice I’m redoing my portfolio site to include a complete redesign and I’m also adding a blog. I want to write about what I’ve learned, not for others really, but it’ll help me to cement my own learning.”
Finally, I read Clean Code and Clean Coder by Uncle Bob when I was on holiday recently, and I couldn’t recommend them highly enough to anyone who wants to become a better developer.”