Sleeping 'til 6am

Sep 8, 2007

If you don’t have children, you probably don’t appreciate that sleeping until 6am can be a luxury. Even if you do have children, perhaps you have angels that even in their toddlerhood had to be awoken at 7:30. Or perhaps that’s just what you told your friends.

It was a great relief to me when my youngest turned out to be a better sleeper than her older sister. She found her fingers early on, and soon got into the habit of sucking them as she fell asleep or when she woke up in the middle of the night. So night times themselves haven’t been too bad this time round.

But mornings… We stabilised around 5:30am, but over the last several months she’s been waking earlier and earlier, so 5:15 was about the latest I could hope to be undisturbed and 5am certainly wasn’t unknown. And she would scream and cry until I got her up and into our bed, tucking into her early morning feed. And, having got that wound up, wouldn’t go back to sleep. So I determined to do something about it.

Web 2.0 Project: Using Atom and XML with Graph Data Structures

Sep 2, 2007

A Ruby on Rails specialist friend and I are building a Web 2.0 application. I would say it’s “social networking for the dead” except that I doubt that description would be attractive to most people (my ex-Goth defacto being a rare exception), and it can be for the living too. It’s a bit like all those genalogy websites, except that our focus is on people’s social relationships as well as their familial ones.

(I should say that this is all very casual. We’re both fitting it in around our other responsibilities, and are mainly interested in working together, learning new things, and trying out all the best practices that everyone keeps talking about. So don’t think I’m becoming a dotcom entrepreneur or anything. Its got a very Web 2.0 name, and I’m only not telling you in case you start hitting our servers. We’re nowhere near ready for visitors.)

Unconscious assumptions based on gender

Aug 22, 2007

I was reading the Draft TAG Finding on Dereferencing HTTP URIs the other day. It has a load of “Stories” in it: examples that illustrate the technical points of the document. In general, examples fall into three categories:

  • examples that illustrate an expert doing the right thing
  • examples that illustrate a beginner doing the right thing
  • examples that illustrate a beginner doing the wrong thing (and being corrected)

What I realised as I read the stories in this document was that the gender of the protagonist of the story changed how I read them. In particular, when the protagonist was female (as in the stories in this Finding), I assumed that they were a beginner, and probably doing something wrong.

RDFa, sure, but now?

Aug 19, 2007

I think RDFa has a lot of things going for it. I’ve been a big Semantic Web sceptic for a long time, but getting semantic information embedded into web pages is cool, and RDFa is that much more rigorous than microformats. Sure, it’s a bit more complicated too, but I’m not afraid of namespaces!

The problem is that I’m supposed to be assessing the introduction of RDFa into a biggish, important, real-world website. It’s a website where every change has to go through a Process. There are project managers, development managers, product managers. There are functional specifications, technical specifications, and rollout documents. There are unit tests, peer reviews and user acceptance tests. The database is huge; the HTML is pre-generated.

Minimising hard-disk power consumption

Aug 19, 2007

Me: You know that new laptop I was talking about? The Dell XPS M1330? The one where you can get it with a 32Gb solid-state drive?

Him (wary): Yeeesss…

Me: Well listen to this: “a 64 GB solid-state drive can read 64 MB/S, write 45 MB/s, and consumes just half a Watt when operating (one tenth of a Watt when idle). In comparison, an 80 GB 1.8-inch hard drive reads at 15 MB/s, writes at 7 MB/s, and eats 1.5 Watts either operating or when idle.”

Him: So what you’re saying is, if you get this laptop you’ll be saving the planet.

Me: Precisely!