Category Archives: Bad habits

Let’s be clear. To be honest. Putting it simply

When writing, or indeed speaking, do not begin sentences with any of these phrases.

“Let’s be clear” admits that, up to this point, you have been obscure.

“To be honest” implies that you’ve been lying until now.

“Putting it simply” suggests you’ve been making it sound more complicated than it is.

Your writing and your speech should always be as clear, honest and simple as you can make it. Clarity, honesty and simplicity are not optional extras that you can use occasionally to decorate your communication.

Keep Calm but Don’t Carry On

I’m fond of the old WWII slogan Keep Calm and Carry On. It’s not just that it captures something appealingly British (yes, there are still appealing aspects to the stereotypically British character), it’s that in most circumstances it’s such excellent advice.

Keep calm, but don't carry on

These are not most circumstances.

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What Skyrim taught me about wealth

A few years ago, I got into playing Skyrim on our XBox 360. There are many wonderful things about Skyrim, including its immersive sense of place, its vast and varying geography, its brooding landscapes and complementary atmospheric music, its epic scope, its interesting NPCs, its endless range of ways to power up, and so on.

Early in the game, when cash was scarce, I got into a routine that each dungeon I entered, I would carefully loot every vase and chest, and strip every monster I killed of its weapons, armour and valuables; then when I was done I’d return to civilisation and sell off the spare armour, weapons, etc. Continue reading

Major releases are disasters, and should be avoided whenever possible

If you use semantic versioning in your project — and you should — then you fix bugs in patch releases (e.g. going from v2.4.6 to v2.4.7), and add new features in minor releases (e.g. from v2.4.6 to v2.5.0). These are both unambiguously good things to do: downstream projects that use your project can happily and blindly upgrade to your new versions knowing that everything is compatible and nothing will break.

But when you issue a new major release (e.g. from v2.4.6 to v 3.0.0), that’s because you made an incompatible change. Now the maintainers of downsteam packages have to stop and think and read your release notes before they can be confident whether it’s safe to upgrade, or whether (as with all the various React-related libraries’ major versions) they’re going to have to rewrite their code first. Most often, they won’t have the time or energy to do this for all the many dependencies their project has.

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The concept of “victim blaming” is not helping

A few days ago, THINK! — a confusingly named education group at the UK Government’s Department for Transport — published this 46-second-long video aimed at cyclists:

Its message is — to quote the caption at the end — “Don’t get caught between a lorry and a left turn”.

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Sit the heck down, and watch the darned rugby!

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, to watch a Rugby World Cup match, Pool A, Australia vs. Fiji. Here is what I saw:

2015-09-23 18.01.30

Constantly. People getting up, wandering along the rows, getting drinks or hot-dogs, bringing them back, making people in their row stand up to let them past, obscuring the view of people in the rows behind them. Continue reading

… Or maybe they’re doing web-site registration completely right

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that DeviantArt are getting web-site registration completely wrong by asking for the email address (which you can see as you type it) to be repeated, but not requiring confirmation of the password (which you can’t see).


A lot of people in the comments (both here and at Hacker News) pointed out that I was wrong.

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Saying goodbye to Twitter

I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of years now, first as @SauropodMike and more recently as @MikeTaylor. I have to admit, it’s hugely surpassed my expectations. I thought it was a medium for the trivial, but instead I’ve found a wealth of pithy observations, witty asides and links to all sorts of fascinating longer reads.


So now I’m leaving it.

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My new bat-plan

My bat-sons and I are very fond of the 1966 bat-film Batman: the Movie (though my bat-wife is not so keen). One of the distinctive bat-features of this bat-film is of course Batman’s tendency to precede bat-nouns with the bat-prefix “bat-“. My new bat-plan is to adopt this verbal bat-tic in my own bat-speech, but using it before every bat-noun.


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Centric Events are repeat spammers

Like most people I get a bit of spam in my email, even after GMail’s mostly-excellent filter has done its work. Most of these are at least polite enough to have an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom, and they pretty much always work.


Centric Events, on the other hand, keep sending my their rubbish. They shtick is to sell lunches with sporting celebrities at £2000+VAT per table. I have no idea what made them ever think that I would be interested in doing such a thing. But I do know that there is no “unsubscribe” link in their emails, and that they have ignored at least one email asking them to stop spamming me.

So I am pretty sure that what they are doing is illegal, and I know it’s immoral. Dear Centric: STOP IT.