The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.

William Gibson – The Economist, December 4, 2003

I’ve been in a bunch of conversations recently on the intersection of Team Topologies and Wardley Maps.

Map by Markus Harrer @feststelltaste

The Platform, Stream-aligned and Complicated-subsystem teams tend to drop out of a map because they fit around their respective activity or activities. That’s important for minimising cognitive load, because a group of adjacent activities should be similar enough to use the same methods and perhaps share other characteristics.

But the Enabling teams are different. It’s their job to move activities (and the teams doing them) through the industrialisation pipeline. They’re helping the organisation to evolve, and hence they need to be ‘Emissaries from the Future’, because they’re the ones who understand what the more evolved state looks like, and what it means to get the other teams there.

February 2021



This was the month that he became a dog that likes to go for walks, which is great. He was pretty reluctant for the last few months – scared of traffic and meeting other people (and other dogs), and not keen on the cold wet weather. I’m glad we persevered, as he now seems so happy to be out and about :)

Lenny the Learner Lemon

$daughter0 is now old enough to start driving, so we got a Mini for her to learn in.

Officially that colour is Volcanic Orange, but we all think it’s yellow, hence the name she’s given to it.

It was a bit fraught buying a car during lockdown, when I wasn’t able to see it, and had to fork over £LOTS to somebody without being handed keys in return. I was very relieved when the delivery driver showed up.

Lockdown also massively impacts the ability to get out and about for driving lessons. Learners are allowed to drive on essential journeys (like grocery shopping), but she doesn’t really have the confidence to do those journeys yet. Things were much easier with $son0 when we could just take him to a quiet road and drive up and down until he was happy with the basics. On the positive side, being confined to going up and down the drive means that she is very good at hill starts, three point turns and parking.

Oven fix

When we had the kitchen refitted a few years ago we got a pair of identical Bosch single ovens. We use the left hand one (the ‘dirty’ oven) all the time, and the right hand one (which stays ‘clean’) hardly at all.

The left hand oven tripped its breaker, and next time it was used there was no heat :(

A bit of Googling around suggested that the element had probably failed, and this video gave me confidence that it was an easy job to replace it. In the end I was very happy to spend £25.99 on a replacement element, which took half an hour to fit, rather than having to buy a new oven.

Using OBS to record stuff

As we’ve used Microsoft Teams more at work it’s become more common to catch up on meetings be recording. But not everything happens on Teams.

I figured out that I can record anything I want using OBS – I just set it to capture my secondary screen, and put whatever I want to record onto that screen.

Pale Green Dot

The early weeks of the pandemic brought chaos to supply chains as demand that was previously split across grocery stores and restaurants got pushed out of its usual balance.

Pale Green Dot are one of the companies that made the best of a bad situation by taking veggies that would have gone to restaurants, and boxing them up for home delivery.

Recently they’ve added some new stuff that’s been great…

Valentine’s Dinner

I never like going to restaurants for Valentine’s, as it’s always an overpriced limited menu, and way too busy. So I usually cook instead.

This year was different, as Pale Green Dot offered packaged dinners, which turned out to be excellent.

I can only think of a couple of local restaurants that could produce similar quality food, so here’s hoping that they do similar stuff for other occasions.


We also got a Kimchee kit, which just went into the fridge today after fermenting, and is tasting really good. I’m looking forward to the ramyuns and jjigaes I’ll be making with this.

Lenovo X250

After over 5 years of faithful service it’s time to hand back my trusty Lenovo X250.

I’ve liked it so much that I’ve bought myself a reconditioned one on eBay, which now has the SSD and RAM upgrades I’d bought for my work one. The ‘new’ one doesn’t have a touch screen, but I never really used that.

Raspberry Pi Stuff

Maybe it’s because I have too many Arm (and other) dev boards, but I’ve not felt a huge urge to get the newly launched Raspberry Pi Pico.

I can however see that it’s growing a great ecosystem, and the tooling looks good too. If I do get one I’ll likely start with the Pimoroni Tiny 2040, which looks very cute.

Beating Beat Saber

I’ve not spent too much time doing VR workouts this month, so only a couple more levels Full Combo’d on Expert with the Green Day pack I got last month.

January 2021



He’s getting more used to the rhythms of life with us. There’s obviously a distinctive sound to my lock keyboard keystroke, as he’s up and stretching before I’ve had a chance to change my glasses.

Speaker fix

I was watching The Midnight Sky[1]. It has a bunch of scenes in a spaceship, with very deep rumbling in the background, except I was hearing lots of snap, crackle and pop. The (not really sub) woofer in my Mission FS-2-AV setup had popped its foam (again):

Last time this happened I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to source replacements, as the original Audax AP170MN2 speakers weren’t available any more from Mission, and the same fit Audax AP170M0 I used were getting hard to find (and I suspect by then were old stock).

Things were actually better this time. Barrowbiker’s Replacing the sub-bass driver on a Mission FS2-S pointed me to Visaton W170 speakers available from CPC:

A high quality bass/mid-range driver designed as replacement for many loudspeakers from AR, Gale, IMF and Mission. Stiffened paper cone and a generous magnet ensure high power handling and good bass extension.

They aren’t perfect, as the plastic surround is just a bit too high for the cover to fit properly, but at least my surround sound is back to sounding great.

Living room PC

Continuing the theme of home cinema related stuff…

The Gigabyte Brix I’d had in the home cinema room got replaced by an Amazon Fire 4k, as it’s just easier for watching stuff on Netflix and Prime. But over the last year we’ve been watching lots of comedy etc. on Zoom, and having cables dangle to my laptop wasn’t the best – especially with the new pup.

So the Brix has found a new lease of life on the back of the living room PC. It’s great for watching Zoom events, and I’ve also added a camera for when we’re doing calls (and party games) with friends and family.

Stream Deck

Switching to the recurrent theme of ‘we’re all streamers now’, I finally got myself an Elgato Stream Deck, which now gives me handy buttons for mute/unmute and start/stop video. It works better with Zoom (proper API?) than Teams (which needs the right window in focus to send key presses).

reMarkable 2

Last month I mentioned buying a reMarkable 2 e-ink tablet, noting that ‘I’ve not had much opportunity to take advantage of it’. With my daughter going back to online learning she was looking for a better way to handle pdfs, so I suggested she try out my tablet. I suspect that I won’t be getting it back, as it seems to be the perfect device for (as my friend Paul would put it) ‘Victorian schooling on Microsoft Teams’.

As I concluded in a thread on Twitter:

I expect that within the decade we’ll have such things at a $50 price point, and for replacing paper in schools I can see them working in ways that iPads and laptops haven’t been able to (because it turned out iPads & Chomebooks/Macbooks != education digital transformation)

Transferwise and eTrade

I’ve been a fan of Transferwise for many years, as I find myself having to hold and spend $ and € enough for them to save me a bunch of hassle and expense with their multi currency account with its associated debit card.

I also have an eTrade account that’s a relic of my time working in banks, and where I now hold my personal account of US stocks. It would be great if I could seamlessly (and freely) move $ between eTrade and Transferwise via the ACH Network, but when I tried it was fine sending stuff to eTrade, but I couldn’t pull from Transferwise.

That’s now fixed :) Transferwise recently rolled out new accounts for $, and it seems that the do support debits as well as credits. At least that’s what I thought… A few days later I got this in an email:

Right now, you can use your account details to have money sent to your account, but merchants can’t debit money from it. We’re working on that, but in the meantime, any debits will be rejected.

Some merchants charge a fee for rejected debits, so please don’t set up any direct debits just yet. We’ll let you know as soon as we’ve added this feature.

So maybe things have been soft launched, but they’re not quite ready yet.

Car shopping, MOT checker

My daughter is almost old enough to start driving, so I’ve been shopping around for a used car for her. Something that’s proved invaluable is the MOT history service, as it seems pretty useful at helping to flag lemons with maintenance issues, and cars with dodgy history (like one promising looking car that had gone backwards 2000 miles in a year).

Dry first half, Elvis AF

In the past I’ve done Dry January, but recently that’s become more like Dry first half of January, as my now adult son usually likes to toast his birthday.

This time around I was pleased to see that Brewdog have released an alcohol free version of one of the beers I usually have in the fridge – Elvis AF.

It’s easily the nicest alcohol free beer I’ve ever tried. So nice in fact that I’d seriously consider a can of it in place of the 6.5% original. Here’s hoping that it’s not a ‘Limited Edition’ for too long (or that at least it’s back next January).

Raspberry Pi Stuff

I finally got around to installing the ESXi 7 Fling for Raspberry Pi, following the guide on the official blog. I’m sure it will come in handy as Arm becomes more mainstream in the cloud and on people’s laps.

I also moved my home DNS from OpenWRT to some Pis. Bind on OpenWRT kept on crashing with out of memory errors, and I think Pis using SSD rather than SD cards, and on UPSs should be sufficiently reliable.

Beating Beat Saber

I got a little board of trying to Full Combo FitBeat on Expert and GHOST and What the Cat?! on Hard, so I bought another music pack – Green Day. Like the Panic! at the Disco, the levels are pretty easy, and I found myself getting through initial runs on Expert with just a few misses. I’m enjoying the music though; Green Day is one of those bands that fell into the young kids void of my musical experience, and clearly I missed out.


[1] In the end, not a film I’d greatly recommend. I wanted to like it, but there was just too much bad science to be believable, and that ruined it for me.

December 2020


I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad for a holiday break… In this post, a brief pupdate, some new toys, People Powered, the history of PCBs, toiletry vacations, and some Pi and VR stuff.


Max continues to grow, and get used to being part of the household. It’s been really fun having him around during December, though I do wish for days with better weather so we’ll both be a bit keener about going out.

Stuff I bought

reMarkable 2

A few folk I know bought and raved about the original reMarkable e-ink tablet, so when I heard there was a new version available I couldn’t resist. So far I’ve not had much opportunity to take advantage of it, but my first impression is that it feels almost like an alien artefact in terms of size, weight and build quality – it is remarkable.


I’ve had some custom fit Snugs Flight earphones for a few years, and love the comfort, noise isolation and sound quality. I also wear earplugs when riding my motorbike, which I consider necessary to avoid hearing damage from engine and wind noise. So when Snugs released their new Moto product I thought it would be good to get something potentially more comfortable than disposable earplugs, which can become a bit of a pain after an hour or so, and that would also allow me to listen to music and/or navigation instructions.

The fit is VERY different from my Flight earphones, as it fills much more of my ear. But they seem very comfortable. Due to it being winter I’ve not yet had the chance to try them out properly, so I’ll report back once the roads are dry again.

Quad Lock

If I’m going to be listening to my phone (especially for nav instructions) then I don’t really want it in my pocket, I’d like to have it visible.

After watching a few online reviews the Quad Lock system came out as the one that was most solid and least intrusive. Since it was Black Friday sale time I ended up getting the case for my iPhone SE 2020 plus the bike mount and a couple of car mounts.

I’ve yet to try the bike mount on the road, but the car system is super nice and easy.

AirPods Pro Crackle

I’ve already had replacements for both sides, and it seems the left one is failing again. Here’s hoping that Apple have finally got a fix into how they’re making them. At least they’re now acknowledging the problem, and have extended the replacement period past the original one year warranty with the AirPods Pro Service Program for Sound Issues.

History of PCBs

Bryan Cantrill asked on Twitter:

I’ve been enjoying “Pick, Place, Podcast” from @CircuitHub and @WAssembly (ht:
@kc8apf !), and now I’m searching in vain for a book on the history of the PCB; surely there is such a thing?!

I though if there was such a thing then surely OSHPark‘s Drew Fustini (@pdp7) would know about it.

In there end it seems that there isn’t a book, but there is this wonderful video from Zack Freedman:

People Powered

A few months ago I was chatting to Dick Morrell about various things, and I brought up my incomprehension of the (mostly Indian) audience joining some webcasts that I’d been doing with colleagues. He suggested that I should read Jono Bacon’s People Powered.

In the end the book didn’t answer my specific question, but it does do a great job on building and leading communities (and leadership in business more generally), and I find myself recommending it to people, which is always a good sign. My journey through it was helped by Jono running a book club over the past few months, which if nothing else gave me encouragement to get through the chapters (and along the way I switched from eBook to audio book so I could walk and ‘read’ at the same time).

Toiletry Vacations

I used to travel a fair bit, and I’d generally bring home the little bottles of hotel shampoo, conditioner and shower gell as they’re handy for when the kids are visiting friends or when we have house guests. Well… neither of those things have been happening much lately, so I decided to start using up my stash to break up the monotony of pandemic groundhog days. It’s amazing the difference that having some different smells at the start of the day makes, especially when those smells evoke places visited in the past.

Raspberry Pi stuff

When I started booting my Pi4 from an external SSD I just cable tied it to the underside of my passive heatsink, but I might have been tempted by this neat modular case system if it had been around at the time.

Beating Beat Saber

Some good progress, helped by more VR workouts during vacation time…

I’ve finally managed to Full Combo all of the OST3 levels on Expert. Burning Sands finally succumbed, and Full Charge came a few days later. Meanwhile Crab Rave from the Extras also fell into place for me, leaving just FitBeat before I’m done with that set.

I’m still finding the Camellia levels too tough on Expert, so I’m ploughing on with Hard for those, with only GHOST and What the Cat?! left to do.

Having played so much on the bundled levels I finally caved and bought a music pack from Panic! at the Disco. I’m loving the songs, but the play is quite easy, so I came close to clearing all the levels on first run at Expert, and they all fell within a few tries.

I’ve also managed to complete some OST1 levels at Expert Plus, which I once considered impossibly fast and complex – so practice does bring progress :)

November 2020


There’s been lots happening this month, with the puppy growing, some IT failures, moving on from some previously loved products and services, more updates on streaming and VR, and a few things I forgot in October…


He’s done a lot of growing from the start of the month:

To the end of the month:

and seems to have less of a look of ‘hey, I borrowed this dog costume, but it’s a few sizes too big’.

He’s also allowed outside now, so walkies have begun.

More photos on my daily #pupdate.

IT failures

November hasn’t been a great month for my home kit behaving itself.

NAS drive failure

I woke up one morning to the dog whining, and when I got downstairs I could hear the NAS whining. A quick look at the admin console revealed a failed HGST 4TB drive :(

I’ve been seeing warnings for a little while about the volume filling up, so time for an overdue upgrade and a 4 pack of 8TB Seagate IronWolf Pros.

It took a couple of days for the RAID5 array to resilver, which isn’t too shabby.

I then had a little adventure upgrading the filesystem to 64bit in order to make all the extra space usable.

Interrupted Power Supplies

‘The WiFi’s not working’ turned out to be a failure of the coat cupboard UPS that runs the NAS, router and a few other odds and ends. I’ve written before about how ropey power can be in my neighbourhood, which means I have a bunch of UPSs, which also means that I’m too frequently dealing with failures.

It seems that battery failures take out a UPS even when it has a good mains supply, and I’ve never seen any warning of battery issues :/ Luckily this time around I was able to get a replacement battery in half an hour from my local ScrewFix, and everything was back as it should be.

I keep hoping that Eric Raymond’s UPSide project for an open source hardware UPS comes to fruition, but maybe I should just buy a Tesla Powerwall? Meanwhile I replaced the batteries in a Sweex UPS that died on me a few years ago, and that’s back working, and I proactively replaced the battery on my other PowerWalker 650, as that was a similar vintage to the one that failed.

Leaving Three

I’ve used Three for my personal mobile phone for over 6 years, and really valued their ‘Go Roam’ service especially when I’ve been in the US a lot. Unfortunately they’ve developed a nasty habit of treating existing customers like fools, and hiking up tariffs.

Last year I called them, and eventually got to a satisfactory deal (though still not as good as what they were offering new SIM only customers). It took something like an hour, and I vowed not to repeat the process. This time I just requested a porting authorization code (PAC) for my phone number and switched to PlusNet (a mobile network virtual operator [MVNO] running on EE’s network). I may return to Three when travel resumes. But for the time being it seems like they didn’t want me as a customer, in what seems like an exercise in reversion marketing. It’s not even like I’ve been using the service much – I’d expect the most costly thing I’ve done in the last year or so was that call centre contact for the last renewal :/

At the start of the year I had 6 Three contracts – 3 for my devices and 3 for family members. We’re now down to 2; and that’s not down to any antipathy or service issues – it’s been purely about avoiding exploitative price hikes.

So long Pinner, hello Pushpin

I’ve been using for bookmarking since the first demise of; so when I got an iPhone again almost five years ago I bought Pinner as the app to save and recall stuff.

Pinner served me well over the years, though it wasn’t perfect, and didn’t seem capable of syncing all 13,000+ bookmarks I’ve collected. But it hasn’t been updated in over 3 years, and it seems iOS 14 has introduced breaking changes. So time to move on.

I’m still getting used to Pushpin, but it seems to get all the basics right

We’re all streamers now

I’m talking next month at GitHub Universe and they sent me some kit to make sure that I can be seen and heard properly:

The Logitech Brio webcam is pretty amazing in terms of configurability and the sharpness of the resulting video; and the JLAB microphone seems to work better with my conferencing setup than the Yanmai mic I was previously using (following Terence Eden’s review).

Here’s what things look like on my side of the camera on my (messy) desk:

Since taking the photo I got a Newer mic boom, and I have a Stream Deck control panel on my Christmas list.


Prescription lenses

I’ve never loved the experience of using glasses with my Oculus Quest, so I finally ordered some lenses from VR Optician. They took a couple of weeks to arrive, and were dead easy to fit.

It’s a revelation not having to fiddle to get the headset around my glasses, or worry about eyelash smudges or fogging; though I do find I need to be very careful about headset placement to get a sharp view. It’s also weird to take off the headset and find myself part blind to the outside world.

I’d held off initially due to worrying about shared use of the headset, and constantly having to swap out lenses. But I’m now pretty sure I’m the only person using it, and having the lenses is a definite plus.

Beating Beat Saber

The quest continues… after finally getting Full Combo at Expert on all OST levels 1 & 2 I’ve been chipping away at OST 3 and Extras, with now only a couple remaining on each. Meanwhile I’ve got quite into the Camelia levels, though they’re much tougher, so I’m doing those on Hard rather than Expert.

Pi Stuff

I’ve written previously about using the High Quality camera as a USB OTG webcam, and now somebody’s written some Ansible scripts to automate the process :)

Things I forgot from October

Another Now

I’ve enjoyed much of Yannis Varoufakis’s earlier work, so his latest, Another Now, was an obvious one to buy, and I got the audiobook for my daily (pre new pup) walks.

The use of a connection between ‘many worlds’ to present ideas about alternatives to neoliberal capitalism is an engaging way of presenting ideas, but it didn’t leave me wholly convinced that he had a realistic way of tackling the status quo. But nevertheless an enjoyable read/listen.


The Starblinken recreates a little visual prop from the Millennium Falcon, and was on sale for May the 4th. But when it arrived the weather was too nice, and my spare time got expended outside. Once the cold dark days arrived it was time for some assembly.

It was a fun little project to put together, and I like how Dave managed to get a scene from the film into the PCB.


Earlier in the year I wrote about upgrading from my old DS411j to a new DS420j, and how simple the upgrade process was. But I knew there would be trouble ahead, as Synology doesn’t provide a way to upgrade volumes created on its 32bit systems past 16TB.

Last weekend one of my HGST 4TB drives failed, and I was already seeing warnings about running out of space. It was time for some newer and bigger spindles. So I ordered a 4 pack of 8TB Seagate Iron Wolf Pro.

Each new drive took about 9 hours to resilver, so it was a couple of days before I had my RAID5 array fully working on the new drives. With the last one in place the storage pool and volume were automatically expanded to the maximum size of 16TB, but that was leaving over 5TB unusable. Not an immediate problem, but one that would eventually bite.



The stuff that follows isn’t supported by Synology, and if it goes wrong could destroy your data. Don’t consider doing this unless you are 100% confident in your backups.


I’ll detail below the process that I gave up on. Thankfully I found a workaround detailed in a blog post – Expand Synology volume beyond 16TB; but since those details apply to different Synology types to my DS420j here’s what I did…

I already had Entware opkg installed, using these instructions. What follows I ran as root in an SSH session, but you can always prefix commands with sudo. It might also be advisable to run from a screen session in case your SSH link gets cut.

The crucial tool is resize2fs, but DSM’s version is too old, so opkg is needed to get a newer version:

opkg install resize2fs

I didn’t use a pinned version, and the one I got was 1.45.6

The RAID volume needs to be unmounted to be resized, but the Entware tools are on that volume, so first they need to be copied elsewhere:

umount /volume1/@entware-ng/opt
cp -R /volume1/@entware-ng/opt/* /opt/

Then shut down services and unmount the RAID volume:

syno_poweroff_task -d

/volume1 will now be unmounted, and it’s possible to check the filesystem, which is mandatory before resizing.

e2fsck -f /dev/md2

That took about an hour on my filesystem, and I was glad for the suggestion to answer ‘a’ to the first y/n question as there were hundreds of them.

Next up is the command to convert the filesystem from 32bit to 64bit:

resize2fs -b /dev/md2

This took almost 4 hours for my system, with the CPU pegged at 100% pretty much throughout. It’s possible that adding a ‘p’ flag would have helped a little by showing progress.

At this point enough is done for DSM to pick up the rest. So:


and log back in. Then go to Storage Manager > Storage Pool > Action > Resize. That then kicks off a process that validates the extra array space, which for my system ran for a few hours.

And then I had a 21.82TB volume :)

The longer way

If I was less impatient I’d have copied all my data over to the old spindles (plus a spare to replace the failed drive) on my old NAS, then created a new volume on the new NAS, then copied all the data back. That would have taken days, possibly weeks, and would have carried a bunch of its own risks.


I stupidly thought I could save a bunch of time by putting the old spindles into my old NAS and just restore the RAID5 set. But it doesn’t work like that. Drives 1,2,3 had been pulled from the array at different times, and so when they were brought back together they were inconsistent.

October 2020



It wasn’t long after we lost Dougal that we decided the house just felt wrong without a dog. So… new puppy – Maximus:

More photos on my daily #pupdate

We’re all streamers now

Returning to this theme, I’ve added a few more links to my streaming tag on Pinboard.


On the recommendation of Ken Corless, I bought a Neewer LED lamp that I fitted above my secondary monitor. The version with a mains adapter was ridiculously more expensive than the one without, so I got the battery only version. That was fine until the battery ran out. So I grabbed a spare 12v power supply and… it didn’t fit because the lamp has a weird size power socket. Luckily I was able to get an adapter for the adapter – 5.5mm x 2.1mm Female Socket to 2.5mm Male Plug.

Pi Stuff

35mm lenses on HQ camera

@biglesp tweeted about using Canon EF lenses with the HQ camera so I ordered an adapter for FD lenses, as I have quite a stash of them from a kit I bought some time ago to satisfy my childhood desire to have a Canon A-1.

Here’s a selfie I took using my 50mm f1.4 S.S.C. lens:

Lots of bokeh potential with wide lenses, and some pretty significant cropping going from 35mm frame to 6.3mm (1/2.3″) sensor, turning my 50mm ‘standard’ lens into something like a 280mm equivalent telephoto (so if I try my 300mm lens it will become a 1660mm telescope).

M2 SSD case

I’ve written in the past about using my Pi4 with an SSD, using a USB3 to SATA adapter, but another option is this case, with M.2. Meanwhile the Pi4 based compute module has arrived, which breaks out PCIe opening up the option of attaching SSDs through that interface for even better performance.

ESXi for the Pi

Is now available is a ‘fling‘ from VMware. I’ve not had the chance to try it yet, and when I do I’ll probably try putting Ubuntu 20.10 on as a guest alongside Raspbian.

September 2020


As the family has gone back to school September seems to have whizzed by, with fewer interesting things to report on as life settles back to a weekly routine. I’ve mentioned the punctuations of comedy nights and online whisky tastings before, so there’s little new to report…

Frontline Live

My amazing friend Katz Kiely set up Frontline Live in the early days of the pandemic to help frontline health workers get access to desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPE).

As things have settled down she thought that the site should be backed by a registered charity, which I’m pleased to say I’m now a trustee for (after it got set up in what seemed like record breaking time – about a day and a half from submitting the docs to getting approval).


My colleague Caitlin McDonald got an awesome new profile pic from Covatar. So I got one for myself. What do you think?

Tech stuff


I got to know Mark Chmarny during his time at Google, but he’s now at Microsoft working on Azure stuff and he suggested I take a look at Dapr. It’s described as ‘An event-driven, portable runtime for building microservices on cloud and edge.’, and there’s a bunch of good samples and examples for it on GitHub, which provides an easy on ramp for people to get started.


Long time readers of this blog will know that I’ve been a fan of asynchronous messaging and event driven architectures since the early 2000s as the Advanced Message Queuing Protocol (AMQP) took shape. I first met Derek Collison as he did due diligence on VMware’s acquisition of RabbitMQ, and he’s somebody who’s been into messaging since pretty much the beginning, as Tibco created Rendezvous and then Enterprise Message Service (EMS nee E4JMS).

NATS came along as Derek was creating Apcera, and since the sale of that platform he’s focussed all of his attention on the messaging platform.

I remain convinced that most of the complexity in enterprise architectures comes from people using HTTP in places where it’s just not suitable (then having to layer on all types of guff to make up for that). I’d previously hoped that AMQP would provide salvation, and at one stage the ubiquity of RabbitMQ underlying infrastructure software fooled me that it had happened. But the complexity seems to be piling on above the platforms again, so I’m hoping that NATS can help people get back to simpler and cleaner architectures.

Raspberry Pi stuff

I wrote a while ago about booting my Pi4 from a USB3 attached SSD. This post from Jeff Geerling provides a deeper look at UASP, TRIM and performance.

August 2020



It’s been something of a busy month for blogging, with posts on Cloud Migration, Java, the UK exam fiasco, Hugo. and RIP Dougal.


The new Kamado Joe that I mentioned last month got its first run, which looked good, but ended up being a little dry:

Hawksmore @ Home

The Hawksmore at Home BBQ Box came out much better :)


I made a shelf to go beside the BBQ for extra prep area using some left over kitchen worktop:

It looks lovely, but despite the yacht varnish it already seems to be bowing and delaminating, so I’d be surprised if it lasts through a UK winter.

Cote de boeuf

Some friends recommended Handcross Butchers, which is local(ish), does online ordering and delivers to my area. I got a Cote de boeuf, which turned out amazingly – quite possibly the best steak I’ve ever had.

Could – Should – Would

On of my favourite finds on the web this month was ‘An Officer’s Guide to Breaking the Rules‘:

The CO hated being told that I couldn’t do something when he knew full well that I could but that the rules didn’t allow it.  So I agreed that we would discuss such things in the following terms: Could – Should – Would.  In the first instance I would explain what could be done, what was physically possible given the resources at our disposal, without any of the constraints of the rules.  I would then explain what should be done to be compliant with the rules, regulations, policy, etc.  Finally, we would have a conversation about what we would do, under what circumstances and when the operational imperative would justify setting aside certain rules in order to achieve the intent.  It worked.  I never told him something was impossible when it wasn’t, but we also (frequently) made defensible risk-based decisions to break the rules when the circumstances justified it.

WSL2 and VSCode

For many years I’ve been using a combination of Git Bash and Atom for development, but times change, and better tools emerge, so I’ve pretty much entirely switched to using Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) version 2 as my command line home and VSCode as my IDE. It’s very pleasant and productive.

GitHub Actions

I’ve also been trying out GitHub Actions for Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD), and they’re just like how I expected code pipelines to work (rather than the complexity horror show of Jenkins and its menagerie of plugins). Here’s my example repo hugo-learn-action-example.

New role

There have been a lot of changes at DXC since Mike Salvino took over as the new CEO almost a year ago, and as part of that wave of change I’ve taken a new role as CTO for Modern Apps & Cloud Native. I describe the new job as:

leading customer adoption of platforms, continuous delivery, and modern languages and frameworks

My post on ‘What are Modern Applications?‘ from earlier in the year provides a good background on the space I’m moving into.


Following a pointer from Charles Stross I bought myself the DVD box set of 1990, dubbed 1984+6. It’s a never repeated 1970s TV series starring Edward Woodward looking at a dystopian future UK under the boot of a Home Office ‘Public Control Department’. Right now, it seems far too close to a prequel of what 2021 post Brexit England is going to look like (except in the show it seems one of the few counterbalances to government power is EU membership and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) – protections that are being torn away).

One thing that does seem consistent between fictional 1990 and real life 2020 is that the politicians and their civil servants seem greatly concerned with what the press has to say about them; or as I put it on Twitter, “Government of the press, by the press, for the press”

Beating Beat Saber

Beat Saber remains my favourite Oculus Quest game, and I use it for ‘fitness gaming’ workouts on the days that I’m not hitting the cross trainer. For the last few months I’ve been slogging through the levels of OST1 & OST2 to get ‘full combo’ at Expert level, and this month I finally cracked the final holdouts with ‘Unlimited Power’ and ‘Balearic Pumping’. Onwards with OST3 – ‘Give A Little Love’ and ‘Reason for Living’ have succumbed already; I expect ‘Burning Sands’ will be the last to fall, as it’s very long and complex.

I’ve found (particularly at Expert level) that getting full combos takes a different technique to getting high scores. I’ve been using a gentler, less energetic approach to making sure I make all the cuts, rather than high movement slashes through every block. I’ll be going back over some levels to see if I can push my Bs to As to Ss (and maybe even SSs), but ultimately I know I’m not top class at the game from my rankings (and also that I totally can’t keep up with Expert Plus levels).

For what it’s worth, I share my brother’s ire at Oculus deprecating their standalone IDs in favour of Facebook logins.

RIP Dougal


Born on 22 May 2005, Dougal came home with us on 16 July 2005:

He loved hanging out with other dogs, and had to run hard to keep up since he was little:

He loved exploring the local woods, and would join me for my daily trips to the shop.

Just last weekend some other dog walkers were asking his age and couldn’t believe he was 15 (many people still though he was a pup).

I know they’re all good dogs. He was a very good dog, and we’re going to miss him a lot.