Jimmy Breck-McKye

A lazy programmer

Why I Live on My Own

I’d just moved to London after graduating, to a shared house in Leytonstone. I was sharing with a set of local students, most of whom were attending the University of East London, which had the unusual prestige of being the bottom-ranked institution in the country. These guys were all a bit weird, but one guy I particular made me uncomfortable.

Play Indie PSOne Games in the Net Yaroze Hall of Fame

Do you remember the Net Yaroze?

Back in the days of the original PSOne, Sony released a special black PlayStation. It allowed ordinary people to create homebrew PlayStation games, with the help of a home computer, exclusive Sony development software, chunky programming manual and plenty of patience and care. Net Yaroze games couldn’t be played on ordinary PSOnes directly, but the Official UK PlayStation Magazine released demo discs that let you finally play the best at home. I recently came across such a disc – featuring 14 of the magazines’ favourite picks – and wanted to share it here.

The Augur’s Fallacy

Recently, I’ve been examining how everyday fallacies can contribute to stress, our worry and our turmoil. One I’ve spotted of my own is something I call the ‘Augur’s Fallacy’.

Review: Pilgrims, Elinor Cook

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting The Yard, an intimate and vibrant little theatre a whisker from Stratford’s Olympic Park. I watched Pilgrims, a 2013 play by Elinor Cook.

This review will contain spoilers.

I’m a Pair-programming Skeptic

I’ve attempted pair-programming several times, including in an organization that (briefly) considered rolling it out as a mandatory process for all engineers (you can guess how well that idea panned out). Personally, I’m not a huge fan. In fact, I’ll go further than that – I’m a downright pair programming skeptic.

Of course I’ve always tried to keep an open mind – this is an industry ripe with innovation and continual churn in technologies and practices. You don’t have fun in this game unless you’re happy with habitual change and continuous improvement. But I am so far absolutely convinced that pair programming is kryptonite, at least in the ways I’ve seen it practiced.

More’s ‘Utopia’ May Mean ‘Nowhere’ - but That Needn’t Make It a Satire

When students read More’s Utopia, the first thing they learn is that the name is coined from the Greek for ‘no-place’, or ‘no-where’. The second thing they usually learn is that the name Hythloday means ‘peddler of nonsense’. From this spring two responses: either that the tale is fraudulent, and More expects us to ridicule it, or that More wants to publicly disavow the tale to avoid political controversy.

I think both interpretations miss something: that though the tale is fictional, its fiction isn’t supposed to matter. Words are hollow in Utopia, and communication rarely occurs as planned. Messages get lost; topics of argument are forgotten. But that’s okay, because the real value of words isn’t in their center, in the semantics of the message, but on their edges in some fashion – the digressions they lead to; their accidental consequences; the marginalia of a book; as philosophical thought-experiments; where they end up rather than where they were intended to lead.

In this model, it doesn’t matter if the original message was a falsehood, because the message’s ultimate value was never in what it meant to begin with. In fact, I’ll eventually argue that to read the name ‘Utopia’ as signifying the work’s fiction is itself a kind of paradox. This will become clearer later.

Spying on Third-party JavaScript

Very rarely, it is useful to intercept calls to hidden methods on third party scripts. I had recent need of this when I wanted to spy on calls to DFP’s undocumented googletag.debug_log.log method, so that I could report detailed advert timings. But working with undocumented APIs is always treacherous – those methods can change or disappear at any moment. We need a safe way to spy on third party code.