Barrel Race

Barrel Race
Taken on December 10th, 2017. Fuji X-E2, XF 55-200mm at 200mm, ISO 1250, 1/60 sec at ƒ/4.8

Sydni Blanchard competing in the Barrel Race at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo 2017.

Chess and Recursion: Part 1

My custom keyboard

I’ve been using my investment time at thoughtbot to build a multiplayer chess game using Elixir and Phoenix in order to hone my skills in that area. One of the trickiest and most fun parts of the project so far has been generating all the possible moves for a player to make.

Building a Keyboard

My custom keyboard

When I realised I’d be staying in the US, I decided it would be cheaper to sell my current mechanical keyboard to someone back in the UK and buy myself a new one here. It would also give me the opportunity to try something a bit different.

Four Corners

Four Corners
Taken on July 2nd, 2017. iPhone 6S & Halide App, 4.15mm, ISO 25, 1/1500 sec at ƒ/2.2

We found this sculpture by Forrest Myers somewhat off the beaten path at Storm King, and it was by far my favourite. The sculpture is made of four different materials; bronze, stainless steel, weathering steel and concrete.

Eisenhower Executive Office Building

Eisenhower Executive Office Building
Fuji X-E2, XF 35mm, ISO 1250, 1/60 sec at ƒ/1.4

We were in DC this weekend and I wanted to see the White House. It’s a rather underwhelming building but this much more attractive building was right next door.

Liberty Sunset

Liberty Sunset
Fuji X-E2, XF 55-200mm at 141mm, ISO 200, 1/1800 sec at ƒ/7.1

Taken from the free Staten Island ferry. It’s pretty much the only reason to take it (unless you live on Staten Island).

The Complete Guide to Optimising Web Images

Optimising images for your website can be a bit of a black art, but it’s well worth doing as the bandwidth savings can be large. It will also make a big difference to the speed at which your site loads.

Why?

These days many of us have access to very fast broadband (we typically have 100Mb/s connections here at thoughtbot) but not everybody has access to this sort of connection. Most people worldwide are still stuck on relatively slow ADSL packages that run at no more than 2Mb/s or so.

Mobile connections have come a long way in recent years, but the variability of speed is even worse than wired connections. 4G can be as fast as good broadband, but in areas with high contention or in areas where there is no 3G or 4G mobile connections can be as slow as mud.

Whatever the speed of the connection it’s worth optimising your images as visitors are far more likely to abandon your site if it takes more than a few seconds to load and search engines will rank your site higher if it loads quickly. It’s also worth remembering that even fast broadband connections often have data caps.

Distraction

I’ve realised recently that I spend far too much time looking at things like Twitter, Hacker News and Reddit. It has become almost an impulse to just load up something bite sized to read whenever I’m waiting on something or when I get to work.

I’m confident it’s affecting both my productivity and my creativity so I’m going to try an experiment somewhat inspired by begriffs article Going “Write-Only”. I’m going to avoid social media and short-form reading for a week (to start). This means no Twitter, Hacker News, Reddit, Arstechnica or any other sources of bite sized information. I will restrict myself to long-form reading like books or articles I’ve saved to Instapaper (of which I have quite a queue!).

Hopefully after a while the craving for that junk food of information will diminish.

ZX Spectrum +2

ZX Spectrum
Photo by Gonzalo Merat / CC BY NC ND

The second computer to ever enter my life was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum +2. This machine had colour, 3 channel sound and a built in tape deck. I was in love!

ZX81

Close up of Sinclair ZX81
Photo by Barney Livingston / CC BY SA

With the 30th anniversary of the Mac just gone by I thought it would be nice (and a little self indulgant!) to write about some of the computers I’ve owned in the past. I use Mac’s almost exclusively now but it wasn’t always the case.