General nonsense Ruby

Duck typing for dummies

def duck?
  respond_to? :quack
General nonsense Rants

Free papers

T-shirtHow do Londoners put up with the hordes of people that try to force a free paper into your hands every ten yards? It drives me mad every time I’m down there.

I think I might have to get a T-shirt made.

General nonsense

Super-thin wallet

My All-Ett arrived today, and they weren’t joking about the (lack of) thickness! With the same contents, the new one is about a third of the thickness (less than 0.4 inches, compared to 1.1).

Here’s my old wallet:

Old wallet

And here’s the All-Ett, with exactly the same contents (13 cards, a couple of books of stamps, and some cash):


The picture below shows the empty old wallet next to the full All-Ett.

Empty Animal wallet next to full All-Ett

It only cost just over a tenner too, including postage from the US.

General nonsense

Big Visible Belly

Firstly, acknowledgment to Brian Marick, from whom this idea is blatantly stolen.

In an attempt to shame myself into losing a bit of weight, I’m adopting the XP Big Visible Chart approach, with the ‘Big Visible Belly’ graph that now appears at the top of my blog.

The graph is generated by a simple Rails app (here’s the source), using the Sparklines library. The red area above the line represents weights above the top of my ideal weight range, and the green areas below the line indicate a healthy weight. The scales are one pixel per week on the x-axis, and one per pound on the y-axis.

[UPDATE] After posting the initial version I realised that something was wrong, as there ought to have been a tiny bit of green on the graph, and it was all red. After playing with the sparklines library for a while I decided that either it had a bug or I was completely misunderstanding something. I’ve now given up on it, and implemented the graph using raw RMagick calls.

General nonsense

Putting Things Off

As I come to the end of a week off work, with a list of things that need doing around the house that’s little changed since the beginning of the week, it strikes me that it’s about time us procrastinators had our own system. With that in mind, I present the following (with apologies to David Allen).

The Putting Things Off System

The main principles of Putting Things Off can be summarised in four steps:


Every time you come across something you need to do, put it into a ‘bucket’ (an e-mail folder, a drawer in an old filing cabinet you never look in, or perhaps an actual bucket). Once you get all the things you need to remember out of your head, it’s easier to forget about them.

Once a bucket gets full, move it out of sight somewhere and start a new one. Don’t make the mistake of looking in the buckets – it’ll just be depressing.


When faced with a list of things that need doing, just pick a few at random and try to get rid of them using one of the following strategies:

Two-minute rule

If something looks like it would only take a couple of minutes, you can do it any time, so forget it for now. Don’t distract yourself by trying to do it straight away.


Can you think of someone else to blame for the task not getting done? If so, you’re in the clear. Don’t remind them though, otherwise they might remove the obstacle, and with it your excuse for inaction.


Deferring things is just a more positive way of saying procrastination, so this is a good plan if no other excuse presents itself.


Organise all your tasks into projects, and allocate a ‘next task’ for each. That way you can ignore all but one item in each project, leaving far fewer things to think of reasons to avoid.

Organising by context can also be a helpful source of excuses. For example, a context might be ‘things I can’t do at home’ or ‘things I can’t do if it’s raining’.


Review all your lists occasionally, to see whether you’ve ignored anything for so long that it’s gone away. One useful technique is the well-known ’43 folders’ – if you split stuff up across that many places, it’s far easier to forget about.


Finally, all this hard work will be to no avail if you still end up doing things. If all else fails, remember the words of the Grange Hill cast, and just say no.

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General nonsense

Some people have too much time on their hands

I don’t know whether there’s any camera trickery involved, but this video is pretty cool. Kind of like a DIY version of Honda’s famous Cog advert.

BT General nonsense

Blast from the past

The things you find in server room cupboards!

General nonsense

It’s a good job I’m male

Otherwise I’d probably have had to go home and change, rather than spend the afternoon pairing with someone wearing a matching T-shirt.

Of course, since I am male, when I say ‘matching’ I actually mean ‘vaguely similar in colour’.

General nonsense

World’s biggest mouse pointer

No idea what it’s about because I don’t speak Japanese, but this is pretty cool (in a ‘completely useless but…’ kind of way).

Via Ok/Cancel.

General nonsense Web21C

JohnMac and psd: the real story!

According to Twitter, anyway:

John’s one friend