Monthly Archives: September 2011

Put This On: Why don’t developers dress better?

Put This On: Why don’t developers dress better?:


“Suits shouldn’t be allowed to this type of meetup. I definitely saw at least 5 people in suits. so lame.”

That comment was left on the Hacker News comment thread about this week’s YCNYC. I went to the meetup on Monday and was one of those wearing a tie, jeans and a blazer,…

The sense I get is that in developer culture the belief is that when someone starts wearing a suit (or jacket, or tie, or non-sneakers), it’s because they’ve given up, sold out, or they’re angling for a management job.

“If you have to dress up to get noticed, your ideas and skills aren’t doing it for you”




LUV – Imagine being Stephen Fry. Imagine being him. Imagine sitting up there, plumped on your celestial Ottoman, all velvet and omniscience and gently baroque benevolence, distractedly stroking Alan Davies’ bumhole as you regard humanity and flibble sorrowfully into your flopsywhoops.

I love both Fry and Laurie (as evidenced here) but I must agree with the bit about Hugh Laurie. I watch House exactly because it is the same every week.

But now I see that Hugh Laurie, a wealthy English man has a blues album out. I’m not big (at all) on authenticity in music, or anywhere really, but blues is surely the kind of music where authenticity is most required.

Also, this:

laughingsquid: Cat Discovers the Harsh Realities of Viral…


Cat Discovers the Harsh Realities of Viral Videos on YouTube



Flickrfs is a virtual filesystem which mounts on your linux machine like any other partition. Once mounted, it retrieves information about your photos hosted on your flickr account, and shows them as files. You can now easily copy photos from your local machine to this mount, and it will automatically upload them to your flickr account. Similary, you can copy the files from your mount to your local machine, and it will download your images from flickr.

Reception – Best Man Speech

After all the effort that went into our wedding, we wanted to share some of the main bits for those who weren’t able to come, or want a reminder of the celebrations, or are looking for ideas…

This is the full text of Robin’s Best Man speech, recorded for posterity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, good evening. My name is Robin Deacon, and I am your best man. I am here primarily for your entertainment and comfort, but also for your safety. During this speech we may experience a certain amount of turbulence due to the nature of some of the more shocking revelations garnered from my twenty or so years as Matt’s close, personal…acquaintance (sorry, I meant to change that…). But seriously, in my capacity as a best friend and best man, I have access to privileged information – and according to cliché, the role of the best man’s speech is to humiliate and embarrass the groom with revolting tales of unremitting debauchery, and memories of the wild, crazed, alcohol fuelled antics  from his distant (or near) past. So Matt, I would like you to take a moment to locate your nearest two exits, keeping in mind that the closest exits may be behind you. As for the rest of you, please note that if you feel unwell at any point during the speech due to a change in atmosphere, or increased groom pressure, then masks containing a general anaesthetic will automatically drop from the compartments above.

I think I’m going to leave the clunky airline travel analogies for now. And as to the conventional wisdom of what a best mans speech should consist of –  I really wanted to try and subvert the conventional approach. But its hard to be original in this context, because generally, when it comes to best mans speeches we always come back to one thing: the past that you cannot run from finally catching up with you.

So, I would like to give you a litany of unsavoury anecdotes and morally questionable escapades that Matthew would hope to have forgotten. That is – I would like to. But unfortunately, I can’t. Not because I wish to save Matthew’s reputation and social standing, but rather because no such stories exist. In Matt’s case, Caligula certainly wouldn’t have blushed. But this is not to give the impression that Matt is in any way a dull, boring, dreary, lacklustre individual for whom a wild night out would consist of an early night in, topped off with some relaxing Horlicks. On the contrary…Matthew has always tried his best to be interesting. And just to clarify (for our American guests), when I say the word ‘Hor-licks’ I am referring to a malt based milk drink popular in the United Kingdom.

And speaking of drinks – now, a word from our sponsors. As many of you may have realised from the goody bags left in your hotel rooms, todays wedding is brought to you in association with Taylor’s Tonics. Our officiant and friend of the happy couple Taylor Peck has worked tirelessly in the Taylors Tonics Laboratories to encapsulate the complex flavours of the bride and groom in the form of the Matt Mojito and Cassie Colada…

(Sip from Cassie) Sweet (Sip) Fruity (Sip) delightfully…refreshing.

(Sip from Matt) Slightly bitter

Three days ago, I was in a taxi on the Las Vegas Strip following an epic, twenty hour journey from London. As we drove through this alien landscape of casinos, gargantuan hotels and strange replicas of familiar buildings from my side of the pond, I think the driver picked up on my jet-lagged incomprehension, and of course….started to make small talk. And when he first heard my English accent, he asked me, ‘so, are you looking forward to the wedding?’ And I immediately replied, ‘well, yes, I’m very excited about the wedding…but how did you know about it?’ The rest of the journey was spent trying to steer the conversation off William and Kate, and onto Matt and Cassie (the people that really matter to me). And as Matt had warned me, explaining to the driver that I was a staunch Republican somewhat confused things.

I can’t quite remember how Matt and I met. But it was certainly in our home town of Bedford, a small commuter town about fifty miles North of London. Now, for our American guests who may not know this, Bedford is often referred to as the Barcelona of the English Home Counties. Mainly by people who’ve never been to Barcelona. Or Bedford. Of have never left their own house. Nothing ever really happens in Bedford, so in our experience, we had to make things happen. Hanging round in leather bars was getting us nowhere. We had to create our own fun, and dare I say it – our own reality. When we both spent a summer working at the Aqua Scutum clothing warehouse on the outskirts of town, Matt would relentlessly chase me around the corridors of the storage area pretending to be the T-1000 cyborg from Terminator 2. Now if you can’t quite picture this, Matt has told me that he is willing to demonstrate this in the form of a durational performance art piece between the hours of 2 and 3am this morning on the 33rd floor of the Cosmopolitan. We look forward to seeing you all there.

I miss my friend, in the sense that I can’t see Matt face to face as in the old days. Over the years, Matt and I would often discuss, sometimes quite heatedly, the pro’s and con’s of online communication. Being something of a sceptic, my feeling was that the internet somehow detached people from reality. But then again, I had never had to deal with being apart from somebody I loved in the way that Matt and Cassie had to in the early stages. Cassie, I remember seeing a photograph of you two that Matt posted on his blog after his first visit– it was of the two of you looking crestfallen and ashen faced at LAX as Matt was about to board the plane back home to England.  I asked myself the same question that Matt did – how will they do this? How will they be together?

Clearly there is no substitute for closeness, for proximity. To be able to wake up in the same timezone as the person, or people you love. And thats why we’re all here to celebrate this moment.

Its not just about Cassie, who I think is a wonderful person – but the whole Destino clan, and the fact that those of us in the UK who miss our friend and brother need not worry, because Matt is in such good hands in terms of this family who has embraced him and taken care of him.

And speaking of the the wonders of the internet, here’s a message from some other people who love and care for you both: “Darling newlyweds, we wish you all the love in the world – may all your days together be as happy as this one. All our love, Mira, Matt,Emma-Jane, Jerry, Rachel and Ben”

So Matt, may I now take this opportunity to apologise for all the cynical things I ever said about blogging, Skyping, Twittering and all those ludicrously extraneous aps you have on your phone?

You might remember that one of the more solemn vows from earlier was the taking of musical taste into consideration on road trips. So, its August 2009. I’m being driven through the centre of Los Angeles by Matt and Cassie, and sitting in the back seat, I’m watching a discussion unfolding regarding Cassie’s love of jazz music versus Matthew’s tendency towards what can only be described as somewhat cold, brutal, dehumanised electronic soundscapes. Frank Zappa once said – ‘Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny’, but if we were to stretch the metaphor further, the sort of music that Matt listens to…wouldn’t have a smell at all. But in this case, the music does not reflect the person who listens to it. Not because Matthew smells, but because Matthew is a warm, caring, kind, giving person who stuck by me as a friend, even when I haven’t always been the friend to you that I should have been. Which brings me nicely onto the story of Matt’s recent stag do. Two nights ago, myself, Matt’s brother and brother in law decided to really give him a good send off, and so we set off on a epic journey up and down Las Vegas boulevard. Absolute mayhem it was!

[To Matt] You had a good time didn’t you?

I mean, if I’m honest, it did get a bit out of hand…ending up in the middle of the desert, covered in sick, and handcuffed to a stripper.

[To Matt] How could you let that happen to me?

Toast: and so, please raise your glasses and join me in congratulating the bride and groom. To William and Kate…

It was at this point that I went to strangle Robin but ended up hugging him. He’s a good one. He just moved to Chicago!

Wedding Music – Dinner

This playlist was played while people ate. It was a chance to play some cheeky tracks that wouldn’t have cut it on the dancefloor, but were favorites of ours which have been included on playlists when we held barbeques and parties in Los Angeles.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions : (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes (from My Aim Is True )
Sam Cooke : A Change Is Gonna Come (from Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964 )
Belle & Sebastian : A Summer Wasting (from The Boy With The Arab Strap )
Elvis Costello & The Attractions : Accidents Will Happen (from Armed Forces )
Calexico : Across The Wire (from Feast Of Wire )
Stars : Ageless Beauty (from Set Yourself On Fire )
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club : Ain’t No Easy Way (from Howl )
LCD Soundsystem : All I Want (from This Is Happening )
Calexico : Alone Again Or (from Convict Pool )
Bonnie Raitt : Angel From Montgomery (from Streetlights )
Pulp : Babies (from His ‘N’ Hers )
Elliott Smith : Baby Britain (from XO )
The Boy Least Likely To : Be Gentle With Me (from Best Party Ever )
Bill Fay : Be Not So Fearful (from Bill Fay )
Beck : Beautiful Way (from Midnite Vultures )
Calexico : Black Heart (Jazzanova Mix) (from Black Heart )
The Dining Rooms : Calexico (from Ink (French Edition) )
Blur : Coffee & TV (from 13 )
Calexico : Cristal Frontier (Buscemi Remix) (from Buscemi: Late Night Reworks, Vol. 1 )
The Decemberists : Down By The Water (from The King Is Dead )
Buena Vista Social Club : El Carretero (from Buena Vista Social Club )
Buena Vista Social Club : El Cuarto De Tula (from Buena Vista Social Club )
Blur : End Of A Century (from Parklife )
Grinderman : Go Tell The Woman (from Grinderman )
Calexico : Guero Canelo (Nortec Mix By Panoptica) (from Black Heart )
David Bowie : Heroes / Helden (from Christiane F. Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo: Original Soundtrack )
Zero 7 : Home (from The Guardian FCD 1 )
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club : Howl (from Howl )
Bjork : Hyper- Ballad (from Post )
The Stone Roses : I Am The Resurrection (from The Complete Stone Roses )
LCD Soundsystem : I Can Change (from This Is Happening )
Belle & Sebastian : If You Find Yourself Caught In Love (from Dear Catastrophe Waitress )
Neutral Milk Hotel : In The Aeroplane Over The Sea (from In The Aeroplane Over The Sea )
Bjork : Isobel (from Post )
Bjork : It’s Not Up To You (from Vespertine )
Elliott Smith : Junk Bond Trader (from Figure 8 )
Richard Hawley : Just Like The Rain (from Coles Corner )
Queen : Killer Queen (from Greatest Hits )
The National : Lemonworld (from High Violet )
Radiohead : Little By Little (from The King Of Limbs )
Everything But The Girl : Low Tide Of The Night (from Temperamental )
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds : Moonland (from Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!! )
The Walker Brothers : No Regrets (from No Regrets )
Radiohead : No Surprises (from OK Computer )
The Good, The Bad & The Queen : Northern Whale (from The Good, The Bad & The Queen )
David Bowie : Oh! You Pretty Things (from Hunky Dory )
Blur : On The Way To The Club (from Think Tank )
M. Ward : Outta My Head (from Transfiguration Of Vincent )
Buddy Holly : Peggy Sue (from )
The Decemberists : Rise To Me (from The King Is Dead )
Velvet Underground : Rock & Roll (from Loaded )
The Velvet Underground : Satellite Of Love (Alternate Demo) (from Loaded [Disc 2] )
Radiohead : Separator (from The King Of Limbs )
Arcade Fire : Suburban War (from The Suburbs )
Supertramp : Take the Long Way Home (from Breakfast in America )
Bob Dylan : Tangled Up In Blue (from Blood On The Tracks )
Squeeze : Tempted (from East Side Story )
General Public : Tenderness (from Tenderness )
Calexico : The News About William (from Carried To Dust )
The Carpenters : Top Of The World (Remix) (from Carpenters – Their Greatest Hits )
The Brian Setzer Orchestra : Town Without Pity (from Guitar Slinger )
Guillemots : Trains to Brazil (from From the Cliffs )
The Beatles : Two Of Us (from Let It Be )
The Church : Under the Milky Way (from Starfish )
Stars : Wasted Daylight (from The Five Ghosts )
Arcade Fire : We Used To Wait (from The Suburbs )
Frankie Lyman & The Teenagers : Why Do Fools Fall In Love (from )
Radiohead : Worrywort (from Knives Out EP )
Sam Cooke : You Send Me (from Portrait Of A Legend 1951-1964 )

Make sure you tell your indoors-hatted cretin of a sound guy to check that the iPod is set to “shuffle”. Don’t believe him when he says it is. Tell him to take his goddamned shades off indoors as well.

First Yoga Session

I went to my first session of yoga last night. Cassie and I went along to Mountain Yoga in Montclair, where they’re doing a 4-weekly-session introduction course. Felt good.

I was a little nervous about it at first, because despite living in mid-California, I have no patience at all for mysticism and quackery of any kind. Being thousands of years old doesn’t make a practise effective. There are many places around Montclair that do acupuncture, the dodgy “cure AIDS” form of chiropractic* and so on. Yoga seems OK though. Yes, it’s very old, and comes with a lot of “ancient wisdom” baggage. But in the end, it’s about stretching and breathing and calmly trying not to scream.

The instructor was great, she led us through an hour of various basic poses, with the benefits of each. She did tell us the Sanskrit names of the poses and the English translations – these were things like “Sun and the Moon”, “Cat Cow” and of course the classic “Downward Facing Dog” which Gordon does many times a day – but that’s fine, it’s just the terms that have been used. She also had a lot of spiel along the lines of, “Breathe through your left side, allow your right side to flow”, and at one point, “Raise your arms slowly, with compassion…”. I had no problem with any of that either – I saw it just as part of the “act”, and in fact it was nice to be gently guided by example and voice, as you contorted, quivered and whimpered. She did mention “energy” once, but in reasonable context, and there were no mentions of “channels” at all.

One thing that did please me was that one starting position was to stand straight, with your palms pressed together, held to your chest, fingers pointed up, . The instructor said that many people call this the prayer position, but she doesn’t like calling it that, preferring to call it ‘hands to your heart’. Very pragmatic and straighforward.

After the session, we walked back through the abandoned streets of Montclair Village – it was after 9pm after all – and relaxed a little and played with the dog before hitting the hay. This morning, I felt fine – no terrible stiffness or pain. We’ll see what happens next week.

* How does one tell the difference? Seriously? There was one by the hairdresser last week that claimed to be able to cure “tendonitis, arthritis, any kind of -itis” which I assume would include bacterial meningitis and tonsilitis. Also, they’ll cure “immune deficiency disorders” whatever the hell they think they mean by that.

Reception – Table Name Cards

Not much to report here. We ordered the table name cards from a seller on Etsy. She had a nice design we liked, so we contacted her and asked how it would work. She needed a specially-formatted Excel file of all the names, which we were able to easily provide, having exported it from The Knot.

She sent them, they looked great, we paid her. They were sent to the venue, and they put them out. Simple. Sweet as.

Verdict: You could write them, or print them yourself, but we found it expeditious to outsource this little task. Support your local Etsy seller.

Reception – Table Favors

You have to have table favors – little gifts for each person at their place setting. I’d spoken to a colleague about his recent wedding, where they had little packets of lavender seeds for each guest. He’d said they were expensive, and after the wedding, they found that no-one had taken them. We didn’t want that to happen, so after some thought, we decided on little tins of mints.

Mints are handy, you can slip a tin in your pocket or purse, and keep them in your desk or car. You can have a design printed on the tin, so that every time someone eats a mint, they are reminded of the lovely wedding.

We shopped around the places recommended by wedding websites, but we found the designs were limited, and the prices high (that wedding surcharge that strangely appears). So we looked further and found that if you go to a commercial promotional products company, you get a much better range for a better price.

The only problem was that most of these places only take a minimum order of 250, and we had 100 guests. Luckily we found a place that would do an order of 150 – After looking at their very large range of options for mints, we settled on the Alpine Mini Tins.

To create the design, I fired up Inkscape again, and grabbed the martini glass/stack of gambling chips motif, changed the color to the “wine” shade we seem to have chosen, and uploaded it to Inkhead’s excellent layout tool. This allowed me to make sure the graphic was positioned correctly before it was sent to print.

The mints arrived a few days later, and they were a big success. Most of the tins that were put on the tables were taken, and the remainder we took home with us. Since the wedding I’ve handed them out to colleagues, who’ve all been very pleased to get a memento, which is nice. You see them on their desks, and they’re a godsend in long meetings. They’ve been useful as bribes to complete “that doc you said you’d send me”.

Verdict: Do a little favor of some kind, but bear in mind whether people are really going to take them. The mints were successful – other more substantial items may not. Another wedding I went to had bookmarks, which was another good option for us.

Reception – Art Book as Guest Book

Many people have a guest book at their wedding reception for guests to write a nice message in. We wanted to do this but decided we wanted to have an extra twist. We can’t remember where we got this idea – either Cassie came up with it or it was on a forum or in a magazine.

Instead of a blank guest book for people to sign, we got a big (heavy!) art book – the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Catalog. We put it on the table with a nice framed sign which said the following:

Art is very important to Cassie and Matt and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has been a big part of their lives. Please find a page with an image of a piece of art that speaks to you and write them a note with anything you’d like to share: advice, your impressions of the wedding, a recipe, or just draw them a picture!

Be sure to mark the page you’ve written on with a tag so that they don’t miss it.

We provided multi-colored Sharpies (the pages were glossy and we didn’t want smeared ink) which we got at CostCo, and some of those page marking tabs. People lined up to add a message, and when we got back home, we were able to leaf through and find many warm, sweet and funny messages from our guests.

Some people wrote once earlier in the day, and then again later when they had “loosened up”. Others defaced pieces of world-famous art with crude graffiti. I was surprised someone didn’t make a comment on a Rothko saying something like “this is your future“. I would have.

All in all it was a great success, and it means that we can leave this book out on our coffee table, pick it up from time to time and check out the art and lovely messages. It’s going to be a great keepsake.

When we went to our friends (and wedding guests) Alex & Jason’s wedding just recently, we found that their guest book was Oh, the places you’ll go by Dr Seuss. They admitted they had got the idea from us, which was flattering – they have awesome taste is so many things.

Verdict – recommended. Get a book that means something to you, and use that as a guest book – it’s lots of fun, and a talking point at the wedding and long after.