Category Archives: Questioning

Thank you. You are too kind

So. Here I sit. On the train. Typing on my traveltop; that’s my netbook, I call it that because I normally only use it when I am away on holiday. I am not on holiday today. Today I just wanted to write. I’ve been wanting to write for some time but just haven’t sat down to do it, until now.

There’s quite a lot I wanted to write about. One of the topics being my adequacy as a developer and the adequacy of myself in general. But… I mostly forgot what it was I wanted to say. I know when I originally thought it, it was stunningly profound.

Something else I wanted to write about was the duality of self, of my self. I read in Stephen King’s book, On Writing, that you should not use language that does not “fit” you. I believe I follow his advice in most cases when I write. What I’ve noticed that the words that “fit” when I write are different to the words that “fit” when I speak. I would never verbally use the word vocation but when writing, talking about my vocation feels natural. It’s interesting that my vocabulary should change depending on the medium of communication. Then again, the more I think about it, considering the little I’ve learned about brain function, it seems perfectly normal that your vocabulary should change when medium of communication changes.

I remember now what it was I wanted to say. I constantly battle with myself and my self, trying to figure out if I am good at what I do or just above average.

I have always thought of myself as being bad at things or at least not good enough. And when I do get complements, I frequently brush it off because “they don’t know what they are talking about as they are laymen” or if they do know what they are talking about, “they don’t have enough specific knowledge on the niche area of the subject that they are somehow misinformed” or even simply “just mistaken”. Take an example, being a developer, Dev Leads, Tech Leads, peers, even a few Technical Directors have told me that my skills are valuable. And the vast majority of every company I have worked for has asked me to come back and work for them again, stay on longer or asked me to come on full time. Some of those companies are even well known for having a really strict hiring policy. Somehow even after all that positive affirmation, I still don’t think I am worth my weight in salt (I wonder what I would do with 80kg [£69.34] of salt).

Anyway, I realised something the other day. I’ve always compared myself to people better than me. I’m not sure if all people do this, but with me, I only compare myself to people better than me, or at least people who I think are better than me or have a skill I want or am envious of. If someone isn’t better, they won’t feature on my personal scale of comparison. I am generalising but do you realise what that means? On my scale, I’m always worse than everyone else. If the scale was based on 1 – 10, I’m always a 1. How crazy is that shit?

I think it’s sad that this is how I choose to define myself. Now that I know about it, I think I can change this. I don’t know if this is normal. Is this normal? I don’t think it can good for the self-esteem. It does explain some aspects about myself though. For a start, it explains is how I am unable to accept a compliment: If in the past I received a complement, in my head I appreciated your kindness anyway and thanked you, almost always in an awkward way.

How do I fix this? How do you change a mindset? Is actively knowing about it and being aware enough?

Update: I saw this online today, looks like it’s a part of the human condition.

aBqoY

 

The present is pretty decent too

The world we live in is an amazing place. A lot of the time it’s a really shit place but it’s also an amazing place.

When I was younger, I watched, read and heard about these Ancient civilisations that had these amazing technologies. I speak in general terms but the civilisation the captured my imagination the most was the Ancient Egyptians. I loved those mutherfuckers. I had a pretty decent sceptical mind as a kid so when I was told something along the lines of “We have no idea how the Pyramids were built” or I even think I was told “even with the technology today we would be unable to build the pyramids” I didn’t really know if I should believe it but there may be some truth to it so that added to the mysticism.

An amazing ancient race with amazing technology, so many uncovered secrets and awe-inspiring Gods. Even the Gods’ names are awesome (awesome in the true sense of the word): Ra, Amon-Ra, Anubis, Isis – All names fit for a God. Anubis has the head of a jackal. No offence to Jesus or anything but Jesus has a normal boring persony shaped head with, now that I think about it in my later life, stupid looking hair. (If you have hair like that in the depiction of Jesus, you look stupid – I’m not dissing Jesus, I am dissing you. So Christians with a persecutory complex can vent elsewhere). And Ra, Ra had the head of a falcon. Pretty sweet.

Anyway, in my imagination Ancient Egypt was when I wanted to live. This era of Ancient Egypt had mummies and curses, and untold treasure, and hidden traps and sweet Gods, which I mentioned, and loads of other cool stuff. I don’t think I am conveying the idea that well… but Ancient Egypt to me was Tintin and Indiana Jones and Jewel of the Nile and many other things all mixed into one… and all of these ideas were captured in a single symbol, the Pyramids.

The Pyramids symbolised… oh and lets not forget about how the pyramids line up with the stars, so like, mysticism AND science…. I forgot what I was going to say about what the Pyramids symbolised.

Anyway, in my mind that was it. Nothing the human race could ever do architecturally would ever or should ever be considered at the same level as that of Ancient Egypt. In my mind if we died out and a future civilisation discovered the buildings of our era, they would think them ugly and unimpressive.

I no longer believe that to be the case. Look at these fucking amazing pictures. I came across these the other day. Some of which I would consider to be architectural wonders. Now I believe if we all died tomorrow and another civilisation inherited the earth, they would be fucking impressed.

I'm speechless by it's beauty

So yeah, I guess I just wanted to tell you how I came to the conclusion that the world is an amazing place. It’s mostly really shit, but it’s amazing too.

//Image Source

 

Move along – You can’t Like that here

According to this article the Facebook Like button has been one of the guiding forces of defining how we interact with content on the web today. To be honest I can’t remember what the article said but I thought it was a decent enough lead in, so I went with that. However what I said isn’t really such a bold claim if you take into account all the sites that already have the Like button somewhere on the page. I’m sitting here, trying to think of non-sterotypical hyperbole of how frequently the like button is used on the web as a way of avoiding doing any form of research on what I am writing about. The problem being, I am not really in the most verbally creative states of mind just yet… so lets just say it’s a lot… like really a lot… like over 12.

As much as I want to hate on Facebook, the idea of a Like button is a simple and intuitive concept, it’s difficult to see why it wouldn’t work. Without doing any research or caring about whether I am right or not, the Digg button existed long before the Like button. If things were different and Digg was a little more cautious with it’s version 4 overhaul and it’s users weren’t so whiny, we may have still been Digging stuff. I’d like to think that the Digg button was the precursor to the Like button. The concept is not new by any means, but being in the right place at the right time has seen a huge uptake of the like button.

As an aside I find the corporate Like culture quite weird. It’s used as a form of currency, Like me and you can have this download. Like me and you can enter this competition, you had to make a purchase previously. You have to like me before you can interact with me. What is that shit all about? Companies are collecting them, kind of like XBOX achievement points but for corporates – to see who has the biggest dick. I am not saying that is all it’s good for, as a content provider I can see how it may have value as a feedback system. But… I’m getting sidetracked.

The undeniable success of the Like button has spawned some Like clones. Google’s +1 is an obvious one, while Behance has the Appreciate This seal of approval at the bottom. There is also Flattr, but that’s different. It’s the put your money where you mouth is of Like buttons, the put up or shut up – there are direct real world consequences for clicking a Flattr button. That’s just three examples, I’m sure there are many others and I have no doubt many others will follow suit.

Hmmm... Do I Like this or is it Tits?

With everyone wanting to cut out their own little wordy real estate on the web, I was wondering why we can’t reuse. Will I be allowed to like stuff in a non Facebook way? They probably won’t, but why can’t Microsoft, Google or Apple let users Like stuff? I am not saying they would want to either but I sure would like to see someone try. What would happen? Litigation? Even if the button were branded differently so there was no confusion? I don’t know? A Nike Like or something? I mean, people were liking stuff long before the internet. Liking something has always been a natural form of expression. Why can’t we reuse it? Surely you can’t hold a monopoly on liking stuff?

Using this when referencing a member variable

Originally I wrote this whole article using the words “global scrote” instead of “global scope”. My intention was to include a picture of the world inside a scrotum. It was going to be hilarious. Then I had to switch it all back after I started searching for a picture of a scrotum that would be suitable to Photoshop the earth into. I just couldn’t any more. Urgh!

Anyhow, back in 1999 I started learning Object Orientation and Java. I learned that you used the keyword this to denote that you are talking about the class you are currently in. So you could have something like this:

public class bar{
    private Int abc;
    public function foo()
    {
        this.abc = 21;
    }

    public function foobar()
    {
        this.abc = 92;
        this.foo();
    }
 }

It made sense.

Recently I have been playing around with Adobe Flash and Java. I’ve noticed is that there’s no requirement to use the keyword this. I really want to say how this is wrong, and how the language designers have made a poor decision. I have no idea how I can say those things and be taken seriously. Taking into consideration the small fact that I have a total of maybe 6 months experience in both of those languages combined, I can’t help but feel the language designers have a bit more knowledge on the subject than I do. So it probably makes sense in the larger context.

Having said that, I have no idea why this was allowed. I think Java and code written OO in general have large increases in verbosity compared to non-OO. The verbosity allows for readability and maintainability.

Coming from a background where my professional coding has largely been PHP, where PHP allows for (but frowned upon) functions and variables to be defined in a global scope I have learned that you ALWAYS ALWAYS use this. You have no idea whose code you have inherited and you have no idea who will inherit your code. Using this does two things:

  1. In the case of the function, this.foo(), tells you that the code to be executed is the code defined in the function just in this class. No matter if someone defines a foo() in the global scope outside of the file and includes it into the local scope the function in the class will always be run.
  2. In the case of the variable, it says we are using the variable defined inside the class we are currently in.

In the case of point 2 above you may think: “ok… yeah so?”. Well take a look at the code below. This is an example of the code I have been seeing in the Java examples and tutorials:

public class bar extends kablah{
    private Int abc;
    public function foo()
    {
        abc = 21;
    }

    public function foobar()
    {
        abc = 92;
        foo();
    }
 }

That just seems confusing to me. Maybe it’s because I come from an environment where global scope was allowed (but frowned upon as the language and its developers matured). If I am looking at function foobar(), I think ok fuck where does this variable come from? What was it’s previous value, should that really get changed. Do I need to worry about it. Let me try find out. Then (in larger classes) you have to go searching to find out it’s a member variable. Same with the function foo(), I spend some mental energy thinking where is that function defined what does it do (this is even more of a problem if the functions don’t have descriptive names)?

Not entirely sure if I should stop here. Basically I answered myself. It is my PHP background that is causing confusion. With Java everything is an object, so if you started on Java and you see foo() you know that it refers to the current object. Where as if you come from maintaining really old PHP4 code as I have, you have seen some really horrible bugs from people using calling functions and variables defined in the global scope. “How the fuck has this variable changed it’s value?!!? This code isn’t even executing!!?!?”

It’s probably just a choice of style and makes no difference (I am not sure if this is always the case and there may be some special cases in more advanced or fringe OO techniques) but I think using this makes it implicit and adds to the readability. So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will use this and attempt to incorporate what I have just learned into my frame of reference.

Edit: Turns out it does make a difference if you use this or not in java. Which is what I think Jon was trying to tell me in the comments. If you look the example code below

 

public class bar extends kablah{
    private Int abc;
    public function foo()
    {
        abc = 21;
        Object anObject = new Object();
        anObject.setSomething(new Asdf{
            public void barfunc(){
                foobar();
            }
        });
    }

    public function foobar()
    {
        abc = 92;
        foo();
    }
 }

In the anonymous inner class defined by new Asdf we call foobar(). If you invoked the function using this.foobar() it only looks for the class inside the anonymous inner class. If you don’t use ‘this’ the scope will start locally and then be expanded until the function is found.

What about the rest of us?

Update: Facebook and other third party measurement firms reports are in conflict with previous statistics and indicate that overall Facebook numbers are still growing. Three of the firms’ figures do indicate a decrease in the Facebook user base for at least two non-consecutive months. Rightly so, some are saying there is not enough information to call it a trend.

I attempted to quit Facebook the other day. I say attempted because Facebook does not actually let you delete your account. I just deactivates it. Meaning the data is all there. So when you come back in it’s as though you have never left. It’s as though the digital you has just been asleep and everything has carried on around you.

That’s not actually what I wanted to talk about but let me continue down this way for a bit longer. There are both good things and bad things about being in a digital coma. The good thing is that because my account was only deactivated I still have the opportunity to get information I have on there. For instance I had a few appointments sitting in Facebook that I had not yet put in my Google calendar. I logged in to diarise these before deactivating again. Technically I would not have been at that much of a disadvantage if my account was actually deleted, I could have called/emailed the person and I’d have it again. Facebook however, does make it easier. The bad thing is that I feel as a person I’d be much better off from not having a Facebook account at all. To me being slightly less connected feels like a breath of fresh crisp mountain air.

WHY YOU HERE? YOU LEFT US! WHO NEED WHO NOW MUTHAFUCKA!?

 

The other thing to consider is I am by trade, a WEB developer. I develop applications for the WEB. With Facebook being such a large part of the web, is it really plausible that I cannot have a Facebook account. Is it professionally irresponsible? Is it my professional duty as someone who enjoys what he does to have a Facebook account – Arguably to give myself a better reflection of what is happening on the web?

And with Facebook trying to cement itself in every facet of the web, with the bulk of the current web having nearly 5 Like buttons per page, Facebook orientated commenting and also a lot of newer sites using Facebook connect instead of having native registration.

So with the last sentence in the last paragraph, I’m very nearly on the topic of what I want to say. I heard of a new social music experience Turntable.fm today. It’s description was quite compelling so naturally I wanted to try it out. The thing is, I had to sign up using Facebook. This being the other major reason I have been reactivating and deactivating Facebook since I left. The two services I wanted to look at both required an active Facebook account.

This is a worrying trend for me. Well, “worrying” is the wrong word, it doesn’t fit my lifestyle. I understand that everything is better with friends. I also understand that especially in the case of social software you want to tap into Facebook. Your software is social and it’s a pre-built network ready to go, you would have to have a good reason NOT to use Facebook. The thing is I am an introvert and I think right now I want to be a digital introvert now too. I want to be off Facebook, I don’t want everyone knowing my business. And now especially with people losing interest in Facebook, services like this should, if it makes sense, at least cater for my lifestyle too… what ever that may be, native sign up or twitter integration.

Just as an aside to me not being on Facebook, keep in mind if you see me on Facebook in a year or a months time and want to bring up this post to call me a hypocrite, here is my reply: “Fuck you. I do what I want”

I want some of that pie

Disclaimer: This post has not been checked for grammar or spelling as it’s now 3:00 am and I wish to publish this post AND go to sleep.

Here I sit. Doing nothing. I have so many things I want to do: The comic, My Expense Manager, My Game, My Own Custom Tshirts, My Toys, My Painting…  many others.

That is just scratching the surface of what I want to do. And somehow through all that, I am supposed to become a millionaire too. Looking at that list, I don’t think those things are capable of making me money let alone a millionaire. If they can make me money, I don’t think they will make much money.

The expense manager. I have a plan to monetise that but now where near “sit on my butt for the rest of my life” kind of money. My game… some money maybe… but maybe nothing for all my hard work… it’s a gamble. It will also be my first public game. I can make a success of the expense manager as I know the web I know how to make good websites. Games.. I’ve not done before… so who knows if it will be compelling. I think that is a terrible excuse though and giving me an easy out for failure. I won’t accept it.

Anyway that is not the point of this post. This post is me having a mid life crisis. Noticing that I am still poor and everyone else around me has a house, a company that is earning, is doing some form of investment, is just financially sensible or just seems to have a more richer (in both senses of the word), fuller and sustainable lifestyle. All this is happening while I sit here playing videogames and eating baked beans with sliced vienna sausages on toast. I eat that out of choice. I can easily sustainably afford better but I like it, so that is what I do. However, eating like a poor student is somehow making me feel like I am poor than probably I should. I guess you are what you eat is truer than I originally thought. Also, If I am being honest, I only play videogames some of the time… I play a considerable amount less than I used to. That does not matter though as I have filled that free time with watching TV series or movies.

Distractions, distractions. Distractions from making provisions for my future – earning money. Not even earning money at this point, potentially earning money, I am not working for a client who will pay me, the development is for myself. Once the development is complete, I still have to find my clients and THEN ONLY, maybe get paid.

Sitting here… distracting and procrastinating (Even this post is a form of procrastination) is not doing me any good. Especially since I pit myself against those who in my eyes who are already successful and in turn I model my success on their image. Or those who already have established businesses, who already have a piece of that pie. That pie, that pie that seems to be just outside my reach. No matter how hard I try as I move closer it moves away forever staying just within an inch of my reach.

Reach for the Pie - One of the worst puns... ever.

One thing I can admit to is, it’s all my fault but sometimes I have no idea if the steps I am taking to fix it are the right ones.

I also accept full blame for the terrible visual pun in the picture too.

Ye Olde Rapture

No idea why I titled the post that.

I came along this image on twitter:

Donate

I had been thinking something similar the whole week.

I was just about to retweet it and spread this message when I started thinking how stupid people actually are. I thought about it some more.

Is it irresponsible to tell people who believe the rapture is happening to donate all their stuff to charity…? I agree with the sentiment… put your money where you mouth is if you believe it that much. And sure, it would be funny to see those people after asking and pleading with god why he is testing them… but do they deserve the suffering that might come from their act of charity just because they are stupid/gullible?

As someone who thinks many people need a wake up call, I would love to do this and sit on my high horse of smugness but I don’t think the lesson should be taught so harshly?

 

Fuck Take2.co.za Errata

Update: For those posting comments, it’s my blog. That means only I get to be a dick. If you are not going to be civil and try to attack me or the others in the comments, your comment won’t get approved. If you do that, I will might change your comment to make you look like an asshole and then approve it. If you really want to be a dick, get your own blog, be a dick over there. :)

This is in regards to my original take2.co.za post I have the following to Note:

This was over 4 years ago, so it may not be fair to still hold this against them. A current employee of Take 2 has contacted me and told me that management has changed since then. If management has changed it may be fair to assume that how they treat customers has changed. I hope so but I would like to claim I have the courage convictions and say that I won’t be going back to find out.

 

The story behind this post:

I was contacted by an employee of Take2 in connection with this post. What they said can be seen in the comments of the post in question but I will post them here for ease or reading:

Are you banned from buying from us.. Cos you can’t hold a Grudge like that forever everyone makes mistakes including you we are all human..

Just so you know Take2 has new owners so their is always time to start off on a clean slate.

I replied with:

Yes, this WAS over four years ago, different management, whatever. When the company was taken over, you took over the good AND the bad.

It’s not a grudge, it’s my strategy for survival. I am a very fair person and it takes me a very long time to put people on my shit list but if they DO happen get on the list they never get off. I have that same philosophy with “friends”, acquaintances and business partners. It’s make sure the influences around me are positive.

Having said that, your refund policies may have changed but I am not willing to use your services again and find out. So to be fair, I will post an errata saying management HAS changed but I still won’t be using your services (provided you can prove you are from take 2).

The email provided by the “employee” was from a yahoo address so I contacted the employ via email to allow her to prove she was in fact who she said she was. She replied with ample proof she worked for take2. So the “employee” was actually an employee.

The conversation then continued via email… well it was not really a conversation. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, my reply to her verification only came what was already weekend time for her. So I have not yet received any response from what I said in the email:

I will put an update at the top of the post saying:

“Note: This was over 4 years ago, so it may not be fair to still hold this against them. A current employee of Take 2 has contacted me and told me that management has changed since then. If management has changed it may be fair to assume that how they treat customers has changed. I hope so but I would like to claim I have the courage convictions and say that I won’t be going back to find out.”

You might not think so but this is me coming to a compromise. I would just like to note that no such compromise was even attempted to be made when dealing with me. No compromise nor any apology was ever made – and now an attempt to make peace has only happened because it’s probably what shows up when you search for take 2. From where I stand the attempt to make peace has only happened because the balance of power has shifted slightly. I seriously doubt you would have contacted me if my site was result #30. But that’s it, rant over.

Apologies I can’t give you what you want (assuming what you want is for me to take the post down). You really do seem like a nice person. I really do want to give you what you want but I have to keep reminding myself that I am also a nice person and was being a nice person when this happened.

Then the more I think about it, the more I feel like I pussied out, the more I feel like I became a supplicant… but also the more I think about it, the two main points I made in the last two paragraphs solidify themselves in my thoughts:

No compromise, nor any apology was even attempted to be made with me. An attempt to make peace only happened because the balance of power has shifted meaning the post in question is what shows up when you search for take 2 thereby harming their public image.

They did approach me in a civil and non-antagonistic manner so I feel compelled to comply, however, on the other hand originally back then my approach was, knowing myself, more than likely even more civil and non-antagonistic.

By accessing the mind’s installed principle core, I know that there are two things that need to be done. I need to stay true to myself and I need to keep my word. In this case staying true to myself means sticking by what I said, having the courage of my convictions and keeping the post in the original form. An in this case, keeping my word means posting an errata at the top of the post. A moral conflict. A compromise needs to be made. An extract of my moral core can be seen on my other site and it states: “Some things you should never compromise on, one of them being yourself.

This is the result of the compromise.

Do you ever think the reality around you might not be the real one?

I do.

Not all the time, sometimes. It’s happened once or twice in public but private places. For example when I go to pee in the office toilet and it’s empty. While I am peeing away, I sometimes get a few seconds for my mind to wander*. If I happen to close my eyes  my mind sometimes stops on: “Am I really in the office? Am I maybe peeing in public on the side of a lamp post?”.

This usually only happens when I am really tired, but it did get me thinking. How do we know we really are here? How do we know we are, who we say we are? You get crazy homeless guys that believe themselves Jesus. Yet in reality they are just dirty, smelly, crazy homeless guys. This makes me think you might not actually know you’re insane if you are insane. If that is true, how do I, or you for that matter, REALLY know that you are not a crazy guy who believes he is someone else. How do I know I’m not a crazy guy who believes he is someone called Gerard Lucienne Petersen. How do I know that this blog not is just in my head, and me typing right now is not just me hitting the ground with a stick? It’s true that I may also draw a comic called Space Panda, but how do I know that it’s not drawn in my own shit?

If I am the only one that thinks this, my only consolation is that I am insane enough to know that I may be insane or at least have the capacity to be even more insane.

NOTES:

*I have never written the word “wander” down prior to this. I really enjoyed the experience


Learning Adobe Illustrator… or not

I have no idea what it is I am trying to do but I want to learn how to do it. It could be argued that my time would be used best if I was learning Java and Android. I am not sure where I got the idea that I have to be methodic and algorithmic OR creative and visual. I also have no idea when I got the idea that doing both would be counter productive and when I actually started believing these ridiculous ideas. I really do need to let go of such limiting notions.

For me to get a design for my fledgeling company, I got the idea that I didn’t want to spend money but I wanted it to look good and professional. So I figured I would do it myself. It would cost nothing and I would be directly responsible for the quality of the design. However I know that I am not a designer and even though my eye for detail has improved much I know people with a much better eye. So, if I did get a designer to do it, it would look more professional than I could ever get. See… this then gave me the fear to start the design process because I believed my design will never be as good as it should/could be. (It’s a shit reason not to do something, I know. Surely something is better than nothing)

Now that I listen to my thoughts, I think I don’t want to spend money because I fear that my business won’t work out and I am scared to start it so any I money I spend would then be a waste. I also think I don’t want to get a designer because I feel that I will be relinquishing some form of control. The other thing is that I fear I might get ripped off? Charged and exorbitant amount for my design.

Ok, I can’t think that way about failing. Failure in this case would be not even trying. So if you are going to start a business you need to jump in feet first. Jumping in feet first means that you are going to give it your all. If that’s the case you should have no fear of spending money on the design.

Losing control because you outsourced your design? You’re joking right? I think your real fear there is that it means that you will have to tell someone what you want to do and that means opening yourself up for criticism.

Getting ripped off? Maybe it’s valid, but I think that is just an excuse… another thing just to say no. To stop you. Sure it’s possible that you should have more confidence in your design ability. I think though that the mere fact that you don’t know the software means it’s gonna take you longer to do anything. As for the cost, you still need to spend time on the code, correct? Surely your time is better spent on that until your skills with the software are better?

Awesome, I didn’t even know I was blocked until I started writing this. Finding a block and resolving it. Success!

Hmmm this has removed almost all my reasons to learn illustrator. The last one I have left is space panda. I was meant to talk about how all tutorials I found for illustrator are all really complex. I struggled to find the really basic basic tutorials. Ones that assume Zero knowledge.

This one looked like a good start. I have not actually done it yet because I have been doing this post but it’s got pause-able video,  voice over and on the surface looks really easy. It’s drawing a heart, how hard could that be? I will let you know how it goes when I get around to it… which should be in London.