May 2012

So what have I been upto this month? A quick recap!
  • It’s play time – memory of water in the village. It looks fantastic, I’m on lighting this time. Luckily a lot of my Noda lighting course in August 2009 is coming back to me.
    • It’s a lot like sound.
  • Currently reading a book – Prince of Thorns, so far it’s good if bleak.
  • The last book I read was the first in a trilogy – The-Traitors-Heir, very good, written by someone from my old school.
  • Booked a trip to Bruges for late June with the beloved, 5 days – beer, chocolate, canals, chips and muscles ūüôā
  • Off to dddsw this afternoon, looking forward to another interesting weekend – last year was an eye opener, yes I met the beloved but I also learnt about Kanban for the first time and had my eyes opened to the life changing concept of test driven development.
  • Today my Raspberry pi arrived! Very exciting.
I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with it. I haven’t even got a hdmi cable… I feel like a terrible hardware-mother, it’s like¬†bringing¬†a baby home without having a pram…
I’m sure it’ll be fine and it won’t resent me, although I’m expecting some hardware failures when it hits its teens…
As I’m busy with rehearsals for the next two weeks I won’t get a chance to have a proper tinker with it for while but I’m still pleased ūüôā
Post arrived! Squee

  • my mashed potatoes – mix in a small amount of cheese, dash of milk, possibly butter, plenty of pepper and the secret ingredient – a teaspoon of horseradish – serve with poached eggs, lovely.
  • millionaire shortbread – I followed the recipe on the tin but made my own shortbread
  • lots of variations of my tomato pasta recipe

first attempt at Millionaires Shortbread...poached eggs on onion/cheese/horseradish mash. Rather yummy


  • The Avengers Assembled – assembled as I saw it it the uk where the Avengers is something completely different. Good fun film
  • more game of thrones
  • still ploughin through star trek TNG – really enjoying it now I’m past the first season
  • In the Star Trek theme – watched the documentary Trekkies on netflicks
  • And yet more – saw the documentary The Captains
  • – the Saboteur play list on spotify – see below


  • My education is gaming is continuing, I’ve been brought The¬† Saboteur¬†which is really enjoyable, once you get past the rather… stylised Irish accent. It looks and sound good, I’m enjoying the sound track.
  • I brought farm frenzy 3 on the iPad a few months ago when it was on sale and I’ve been powering through that, it’s a lot more addictive than a game that involves gathering milk/eggs/fleece has any right to be


  • couple of upgrades recently
  • couple of new projects
  • one of which involved a significant amount of data manipulation in and out of 3 SQL server databases, it even included a multi-sheeted spreadsheet. This makes a very happy Amy!

Nice reflections today #officeviews

Cat got my tongue?

You may have noticed that I haven’t blogged much recently. Or at all.

(I wonder what percentage of blog posts are of the type “Sorry I have’t blogged much recently but my uber exciting life has got in the way”?)

Why so silent? I have to admit, the cat’s got my tongue. I still have things I want to say but I didn’t know if I should, could or how, then I became rusty and lost my voice. It’s a vicious cycle of over thinking.

we have a cat in a box situation. mandatory images posted to interwebs cc @damejudiofdench
A cat - no tounge

There are many reasons why the blogging stopped, some of which need explaining.

The company I work for has embraced social media, mainly twitter but there are also some spiffing YouTube videos out there with backing tracks that IN NO WAY resemble 1970s porn music.

As you no doubt know I’m rather fond of crafting the odd tweet, but should I interact with the corporate twitter accounts – accounts talking about one of the most important things in my life, our product family? What if a client sees me retweeting something important, looks at my feed and realises that, yes, my guilty secret is occasionally watching XFactor and tweeting about it? Or my amdram obsession? Would YOU let your mission critical software be written by a person who obsessively posts pictures of food?

du pan, du vin, du boursinOo, I can make toad in the hole!Toffee on to set!No idea if this is going to work, scallops wrapped in bacon!Terrible piping. Kettle is on ready to test...

Or, would you rather engage a company who employs faceless drones? Is it better to just not know?

Should we be as professional as we would be in a client meeting at all times, or does that come across as dull and, at worst, fake? That’s certainly an attribute you never want to have in people you employ.

I have always been of the opinion that you should never put anything online that you wouldn’t say to anyone face-to-face. This was a pretty good rule of thumb in the 90s when everyone wasn’t hyper-connected but now, everything feels much more traceable.

As an example, let’s say I post a tweet linking to a photo in my flickr stream, the previous photo was of me out with friends, one of which is tagged, the client follows that tag to the other persons flickr stream, and then there’s a picture of me in their stream doing something not development related like, oh I don’t know, drinking? Dancing? Playing video games? In a church? ¬†Basically doing – well, anything that isn’t development – and potentially something that the viewer finds offensive.

I don’t feel the need to keep my life a secret, or anything I do – if I do it, well, it’s me, take all of me or none of me – even if that means accepting that I’ve sat in classy bars knitting….

But what if this picture of a complete person ever reflects back badly on my employers rather wonderful product?

(Warning: this next paragraph may not be fashionable, it certainly isn’t cool and it may even make you a little nauseous.)

I adore my company’s product. Our main product is spectacularly powerful – (working) life changingly powerful. It can revolutionise oganisations. I truly do not know how people live day to day without it – or something like it. And I never want to reflect badly on it.

When I was employed about in April 2005 employers only needed to worry about their employees during the working day. As long as they turned up, looked smart, worked hard, and didn’t do something so spectacuarly stupid that they end up in the tabloids and brought the company into disrepute everything was peachy. Now employer’s have to consider their people’s online identities. Or do they? And should they?

So, I’ve been quiet, trying not to scare off that most timid of beasts – the new corporate account runners, but enough is enough.

I am not just a developer, I am a whole person.

I live, love, cook, dream – and I’m back.

Tonight involved unpicking... #crochet cc @dtsnSlightly odd Hobby 1
Ambassador - Set Build
Odd hobby 2 - Amdram

Back in the village for a funeral of a genuinely good person, RIPThank you for my Christmas Whisky Rocks @boffbowsh squeeI think @bakerleuk and @james_hodgson know me too well! Best gift ever! Thanks guys x

Three things that might cause offence – Church, Drinking and an unhealthy love of spreadsheets – take it or leave it!


Vanouver 2011I’m¬†currently in Vancouver, Canada – this city is food obsessed, I love it!

Breakfast, oh yes

Vanouver 2011Vanouver 2011

I am learning Python between times – I’m becoming rather fond of the language I must say, more of that another time.

Gadget update: I love my sony ereader, this holiday is really showing it’s worth from a weight-saving point of view only.

Vanouver 2011But as much as I love my ereader, it’s not a patch on how devoted the parents are to their kindles! Every time we sit down to have a coffee, beer or to look at a view, they wipe them out and start reading. I would recomend them for distracting oldies on long flights!

Vanouver 2011

Knitting a Doctor Who Scarf

This weekend I gave my friend Ben his birthday present – a replicate, hand knitted, Doctor Who scarf.

Luckily he liked it!

I made a Tom Baker #doctorwho scarf :-)

When your life is full of social media, keeping a secret is hard – I’ve been knitting this scarf since before Christmas and finished it at 3:20am¬†on¬†2nd¬†April.¬†2011. In that time I haven’t been able to mention it online at all incase he heard about it – we’re both active twitter users, we’re both friends on facebook, we subscribe to each other’s blog RSS (don’t you Ben…?).

And of course I had  to instruct all our mutual friends to not say a word online either.

Doctor Who ScarfDoctor Who Scarf

As someone that tells the world what I’m doing, keeping a big project like this under wraps has not been easy! But also quite an interesting experiment. Occatioanlly I would tweet about what percentage I had left – courtesy of¬†my spreadsheet

The scarf itself was made from a pattern on the site – the “original”, which is one of the shorter patterns¬†available¬†– remember when I started this project I could hardly knit! Oh I can now… if you ever want to learn how to knit, this is the project for you!

There was 1042 rows in the scarf, with 60 stitches across – a total of ÔĽŅ62,520 stitches.

As I’m a slow knitting this took about 3 minutes a row (that’s 3 seconds a stitch allowing to turning etc), so that means this took just over 52 hours – and that’s without sewing in the ends, blocking and the¬†tassels!

As I had wool left over I made a scaled down version for Darren, he seemed bemused which is exactly the reaction I want when I give someone something, which quite frankly, lets face it – it crazy.

Doctor Who Scarf

My thanks to my mother and Katharine ‘The¬†Sorceress’ for helping me knitting part of it!

I hope that Ben enjoys his scarf and wears it to many-a-geeky event, or just snuggled on the sofa at home watching the latest series.

Am I ever going to make something this large again? Oh yes – well, I want one for myself!

Why so silent? Quick recap on my life recently!

I’ve not blogged for a while. Is this because my life suddenly became dull and uninteresting? Did I lose that essential brand of ego one needs to assume that the world gives a flying monkey’s cage about what you do and think and therefore will read your blog?

No. Simply put. I’ve been busy.

You’re always busy I hear you cry… alright, I’ve been up to something. Three somethings infact. But I can’t tell you about them yet… I will do though.

The other reason is – yes, I’ve finally created a cooking blog with a good friend of mine. You can find out about it over there. I shall be re-working the recipes on here and copying them over to there in the coming months. Which means I can use this blog for it’s original intention – musings on the techie side of my life, without food getting in the way.

Will this place be a food-free zone? Oh I think not, as Dorcus said, “Food is my one weakness”

So what HAVE I been doing?

Went to Bletchly park

Bletchly Park

Had BBQs with my friends

Summer BBQ

Bought a new tea pot

Masala chain from @adagiotea on the brew

Bought a new camera

Model Railway

Had a craving for boiled condensed milk and blondies – and like all good cravings, it must be given into!


And fell truly, madly, deeply in love with PHPUnit testing. Where have you been all my life?!

Creamy Tomato Pasta Recipe

Here is my stand-by cheap, store cupboard oh-blimey-4-chaps-have-invited-themselves-to-dinner / emergency date / comfort food recipe.

All you really need is onion, tin of tomatoes and pasta but it can be dressed up or down how ever you like

Serves 2ish but I often make enough for just 1, cook more or less pasta depending how hungry you are.

For 4 boys + me I use a whole onion and two tins of tomatoes + had some crusty bread to mop it up with.

1. Fry half an onion in oil + butter if you feel like it. Spring onions also work

2. Add crushed clove garlic once the onion has got going

3. Put the pasta on – Penne works very well, cook till just a tad under-done

4. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes to the onions and garlic, stir and bubble

5. Add a chopped chilli / dried chilli flakes at this point if you want

6. Let the sauce reduce down a bit – this is very much a seat-of-your-pants recipe, go with the flow

7. Open a bottle of wine – red or white, what ever you fancy and have handy – have a glass whilst the sauce is reducing, keep an eye on the pasta, now is not the moment for a phone call.

8. Stir cream into the tomato sauce – single, double, half-fat creme fresh, phili, phili with chives, clotted cream, fromage fresh also work (this is a store cupboard / what ever is in the fridge recipe!). You can do this whole recipe without cream at all – just add a bit more butter to start with.

9. Lots of black pepper if that’s what floats your boat. Bubble the sauce – yes! I just said BOIL and CREAM in the same sentence, no I’m not crazy, yes this works.

10. Drain the pasta, get out your plates, have another glass of wine, summon your co-diners!

11. Optional Decadent move – put hot pasta back in the still-warm pan it was cooked in, add a generous knob of butter and stir in.

12. Do you still have any wine left in the bottle? Add half a glass to the hot, buttery pasta and stir well – not tried this with rose wine yet but both red and white work. A good shot of vodka is also recommended by some of the lab-rats.

13. Stir sauce into pasta in the pasta pan, pile onto plates, possible some fresh parsley or basil on top if you have it, more freshly ground black pepper.

14. Have another glass of wine and enjoy.

Please do cook this recipe, try it, love it, adapt it, share it, retweet it,¬†criticise¬†is, prove to me it’s great, prove to me it’s rubbish – but just cook! Feed yourself, feed your soul, feed your friends and family, sit around a table, talk, eat, live, love, for this is the purpose of life.

CocktailsFor some reason I don’t have a picture of this recipe, so here is one of a plastic cow and a plastic pig standing on half-kumquats instead.