Richard Hart

Something @ Somewhere
Kent, UK

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  • I hate 99% of the meetings I’m invited too simply because nearly all of them are a waste of my time or someone else’s. The number of times I’ve sat in meetings and ended up not saying anything for the whole thing or watched on as 90% of the poor attendants end up not saying anything either, no doubt we would all have been more productive gouging our eyes out with hot pokers.

    A lot of my hatred for meetings comes from the fact I think nearly all of them could be eliminated just by sending an email outlining the problem and asking for a solution. But my biggest gripe is what I call the “Pull one out the hat” meetings where a problem is presented to you and you’re expected to provide a course-of-action/solution on the spot. Then the moment you say “I don’t know” or “I’ll have to think about it” you’re still pushed for at least an idea. And God forbid you reply that you don’t know how long a problem will take to solve when you don’t even have a solution yet. “But can’t you give us a rough estimate?” they’ll ask, “Yeah, sometime this year.” is the safest reply. If you give something that they can use as an estimate just wait until you’re held to it even if you include the heavenly “maybe” somewhere in there! “Maybe I can do it in two weeks but I will have to go away and think about it and provide you with a more solid timeframe.”, two weeks later, “But you said it would take you two weeks!”, like fuck I did!

    Until people realise development is not an exact science and that we as developers don’t hold every single bit of knowledge on every piece of code and every column of data in our numerous databases in our head then we’ll be forever plagued by meaningless, time wasting, excruciatingly painful meetings.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are such a thing as good meetings. For instance, Ian does a really good job when it comes to the Faculty of Trading meetings. I get a well prepared agenda a day or two before the meeting with an open question as to whether everything will be covered or if I need anything added or removed and afterwards a well written summary and action points for each attendant. But heck, not everyone can be a winner like him!

    I’ll leave you with an interesting article: Study shows meetings make us dumber

  • If you get the error below while trying to install the ruby mysql gem on Suse 10 then follow the instuctions below to get it going:

    incei273:~ # gem install mysql
    Building native extensions. This could take a while…
    ERROR: While executing gem…
    ERROR: Failed to build gem native extension.

    ruby extconf.rb install mysql
    checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient… no
    checking for main() in -lm… yes
    checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient… no
    checking for main() in -lz… yes
    checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient… no
    checking for main() in -lsocket… no
    checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient… no
    checking for main() in -lnsl… yes
    checking for mysql_query() in -lmysqlclient… no
    *** extconf.rb failed ***
    Could not create Makefile due to some reason, probably lack of necessary libraries and/or headers. Check the mkmf.log file for more details. You may need configuration options.

    Checking the mkmf.log in:


    … shows libmysql is missing. But looking in /usr/lib/mysql shows some libmysqlclient*.so files but GCC actually needs the .a files.

    So fire up yast and install the mysql-devel package.

    Then install the Ruby Mysql Gem using:

    gem install mysql — –with-mysql-lib=/usr/lib/mysql/

  • “Some people are like the sand; a wind blows them away.” – Meghna

  • “There is no bad weather, just bad clothing.” – Swedish Maxim (From Seth Godin’s blog)

  • Someone posted the following on Rails Weenie… I of course replied…

    This is kind of a vague question….

    1. Same Idea but some just do much better.

    ex. Youtube. Before youtube took off, there were several sites that did the exact same thing. So, why is youtube so succesful, while others remain in its shadow.

    2. Is the internet done ?

    Meaning, the web is saturated with e-commerce, entertainment, web programmers, designer, engineers…what more can we expect in the future ? Lets say, you’ve just created a killer app(in your opinion anyways). You’ve worked hard. You’ve marketed, you got some investors, clients. Can you expect a excess financial reward? Its uncertain.

    Days when VC’s were backing undergrads with a are surely gone. Days when knowing just HTML could earn you an minimal income.

    But once again sites like youtube and myspace make exceptions.

    1. It comes down to a whole load of reasons. Some will cite first-to-market, some will cite better features or just better marketing. Look at beta-max vs VHS or the PS3 vs Wii. The reasons some sites do better then others are a combination of many factors. On the same token though what is successful? Yes the founders of YouTube did very well from themselves but as a business can you honestly say they are successful? Don’t be disillusioned by the grand amount of publicity they get, there are hundreds of thousands of businesses out there you’ve never heard of making millions of dollars profit every year.

    2. The internet isn’t done. Just like the immortal words of the patent worker who said everything that could be invented has already be invented. There will constantly be new ways of achieving things and new ways of enriching a user’s experience. These constant changes give entrepreneurs a brilliant opportunity to sneak in and create something great.

    Of course it’s all uncertain. Life is uncertain. But then that’s the fun of it. You can take your chances and play your cards or you can sit and watch the world pass you by. There’s no set in stone path to creating a successful “killer app”. It’s not easy. The only true path to “financial reward” as you put it is to continually keep trying. Some people have one idea and are successful off it, but more often then not, the most successful people/companies are the ones who tried and failed many times in the past, learning new lessons with each failing idea.

    Yes the days when VCs would back any .com idea are gone but that’s not to say with a great idea, a proven business model and a clear revenue stream the VCs won’t still come knocking on your door.

  • “Everyone has got the will to win, its only those with the will to prepare that do win” – Bobby Knight

  • Great posting over on Steve Pavlina’s blog about having to be committed to your cause if you want to succeed.

    In many fields you only see a 1% success ratio because the other 99% are merely taking up space. They’re just dabblers, not serious contenders. You’ll often see this 1% figure in fields with a low barrier to entry such as blogging, acting, or music. You’ll find a small percentage of people who are really committed to mastery, but the rest have virtually no hope of notable success.

    Pulling away from the pack in any field is largely a matter of choice. That choice is a commitment to mastery. But very few will make this choice because it requires hard work, resolve, patience, self-discipline, and a long time perspective. A would-be actor who gives up within the first year clearly hasn’t made this choice. Nor has a blogger who quits after six months. If you want to succeed in a new field where you lack experience, you should be thinking of at least a 3-5 year commitment. If that scares you away, then save yourself the time you would have spent dabbling, and don’t bother.

    Read the full article here.

  • “A leader has the right to be beaten, but never the right to be surprised.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

  • No wait, no they’re not! I had an interesting talk with my Japanese teacher last night about the mentality of British people and companies. We had been talking about Japanese stationary and how it was so far superior to British counterparts. My teacher suggested that this was probably because the Japanese way of thinking is all about constantly improving and looking for better solutions (Kaizen anyone?) and of course I agreed and piped up that I felt the British way was that “once is enough”.

    The more I think about it they more I think it’s true. “Anything is good enough”, “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it”, “Why do we need to improve it?” is the impression I get when I think about British people in general and especially British business. Maybe someone can prove me wrong, but I for the life of me can’t think of one global British company that isn’t a bank, oil or telecoms company. Look around your home, at the news or your local high street and you’ll see we are over run with foreign companies. Starbucks, Microsoft, Starbucks, Apple, Starbucks, Dell, Starbucks, Sony, Starbucks, Samsung, Starbucks, Dell, Starbucks, Gap, Starbucks, Nokia, Starbucks, BMW etc.

    Even though my father left before he could make any kind of impression on me I really do sometimes think I picked up the American gene when it comes to doing stuff. Anything that anyone does is too slow for my liking and anything anyone produces is never good enough, no matter how good it may even be! I hold these values true for myself. I always believe I can do better and always expect myself to do so *

    There is a saying that goes: In Japan the nail that stands up gets hammered down, in America the nail that stands up drives a Ferrari. Maybe we need a British version along the lines of: The nail that stands up rusts away in the British weather :P This isn’t to say that countries like Japan and American don’t have their fair share of problems because we all know they do and maybe if I was to spend as many years working in those countries I’d feel exactly the same about them. Maybe I’m completely wrong. Part of me is hoping someone will reply and prove me wrong so that I can feel better about the state of things here. I think if we try we can turn this all around and be the true Global leader when it comes to performance, innovation and business. I think if we try we can make a change. So if you are reading this and live in Britain set out to do something great in your working life this week. Do something you weren’t asked to do. Do something beyond someone’s expectations. Do something you never thought you could **

    * Disclaimer 1: I may not hold these values true of my day job because I believe there is no point flogging a dead horse.
    ** Disclaimer 2: See Disclaimer 1, but the Faculty will be receiving an endless amount magic this week!

  • “If there is faith in the future, there is power in the present” – Zig Ziglar

  • “I can’t change the fact that my paintings don’t sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture.” – Van Gogh

  • “A man has a choice. I chose the impossible” – Bioshock

  • Seth Godin just made a brilliant posting on his blog about being awkward. Check it out here if you can.

    “The reason we need to be in search of awkward is that awkward is the barrier between us and excellence, between where we are and the remarkable. If it were easy, everyone would have done it already, and it wouldn’t be worth the effort.”

  • The lead on my Sony EX-71s was really coming to the end of its un-natural life, so it was time to find some new ones. I ordered a set of replacement EX-71s but then began thinking, there must be a better option. So I did some searching and came across a company called Etymotic and their ER•6 Isolatior earphones looked like just what I needed. And so £79.99 later…

    On the face of it, they are the same ear-plug flange type as the EX-71s, but dual flanged (The ER•6i is tri-flanged) and more fiddly to put in. They really do cancel out a lot of noise though. The EX-71s mearly muffled outside noise, but these really do block it out complete. With no music they are close to what it would be like wearing ear-plugs.

    At first I was really really really disappointed with the sound and thought I had just wasted a whole load of money. But after playing around a bit at home I realised I had to angle them slightly when inserting them and even moisten the tips to get a really good seal. And then a few hours later after letting them break-in all I could think was “WOW these sound amazing”. The clarity and noise re-creation is extremely good, plus the noise isolation means I don’t have to blast my ears to hear whats going on. The angled stereo plug is a bit of a pain and has meant I’ve had to ditch the remote on my i-river, but with the long cord I couldn’t have used it anyways without looking like a sea of black cable.

    If you are in the market for some good quality noise isolation headphones, I can’t recommend these enough. If mine broke, I wouldn’t hesitate in replacing them with the same ones.

    – Excellent noise isolation
    – Excellent noise re-creation
    – Look very cool and professional

    – A tad expensive
    – 90-degree stereo plug
    – Fiddly to insert and remove
    – Makes my ears itchy after a few hours

  • So I began looking at Ruby on Rails a few days ago and I am quite impressed. To go from a database structure to a simple web app structure takes less then 15 minutes. Rails will generate a model and a controller for each of your database tables, or if you choose to generate a scaffold, it will generate all the supporting rhtml for you instead of generating it on the fly.

    I’ve got to get my head into it a bit more, so tonight I’m going to try setting up database associations and getting them to filter through, but from what I’ve read that shouldn’t be any problem at all.