A few weeks ago, one of my colleagues at work was blessed with an idea that can only be ascribed to genius: “maybe a few of us should chip in to buy a sandwich toaster?” This was insightful on many levels, not least of which was that we all frequently found ourselves spending a considerable amount of money buying paninis from the local foodery. After a few seconds of the googel, we noticed that a George Foreman Grill would be even cheaper than a sandwich toaster, and offer some potentially interesting options. So three of us chipped in to buy a pathetically cheap grill. We also decided to collectively buy some ingredients for some proper grilled sandwiches.
If you’ve never had a sandwich full of deliciously poncey cheeses, meats and spices, that is heated on a George Foreman grill, then you will never understand the joy we experience every day of the working week.
Initially, the three of us that decided the communal grill was a good idea brought in a variety of breads, cheeses, lunch meats, mustards and spices. The others regarded us with a mixture of scepticism, and irritation (we tend to dominate the kitchen) but occasionally we would be asked how much a “share” in the operation would cost. So we declared it “The Peoples Grill”, stenciled a hammer and sickle on it, and offered its services to anyone who had ingredients.
And so, lunch has transformed into a beautiful collective celebration of grilled deliciousness. This week we shared:
- Black forest ham
- Smoked swiss cheese
- Aged, peppered swiss cheese
- Jelapeno, wasabi and spiced mustard
- Smoked salmon
The brains behind the collective grill also coined a phrase for those of us grillers with culinary aspirations: Fourmets. Looks like we’re going to need a bigger grill.
For over a week now I have been stuck at home in quarantine after picking up a dose of viral conjunctivitis from fuck-knows where. It doesn’t really matter once it’s diagnosed because there’s nothing that can be done about it (it’s a virus), and it’s as contagious as any other massively contagious virus. You (I) just have to wait it out. The progress is very slow, and until I’m back to normal, going to work is a no-no; giving this out to people with kids would be like injecting everyone at work with the lurgi(sp?). So I’ve been under a self-imposed house-arrest for the last week, and as comfy as this sofa gets I’m feeling pretty frustrated. Fortunately, being a programmer there is very little (if anything) required by my job that can’t be done from home nowadays. Obviously that does raise the question of the efficacy of commuting at all – but that’s an issue for other posts. But no matter how much one hates one’s cube and office-space, two weeks of house/sofa can make it seem positively enticing – I’m even missing the bus.
Still, as the blur has worn off over the past few days I’ve been able to work and also watch some TV (curse you 24 for being genuinely quite entertaining). On Saturday night our neighbours were having a small party/band/happy-thing out the back of their house. Being a leper I couldn’t attend and so Michele went without me while I watched 3-4am in Jack Bauer’s crap first big day of aggro.
After a short while, Michele thought it may do me good to socialise with the good people of across-the-road, and so, despite being contagious, and despite it being dark out, we went over for half-an-hour or so…while I wore dark glasses (like a big arse) and refused to shake anyone’s hand. It was lovely to get out of the house and talk to people though – and Brendan’s band were truly awesome in a jazzy-mellow way (poorly-lit videos to follow).
In a nutshell, being under house arrest does suck…but not that much. I’d rather be confined to my sofa with Bat, Birds, Roku et al for a couple of weeks, than in a small, confined, prison cell, full of my old crap, for several years.
Geeks only (you have been warned)
Regardless of how fun and friendly a development environment may be, the bullshit accompanying it can ruin everything. For example, and completely at random, let’s compare iPhone development to Qt development.
X-Code (the iPhone/Mac dev IDE) is at the usable and comfortable end of my IDE spectrum. Objective C is by far my favourite programming language, and the Apple run-time systems are luxurious (mmmm…Quartz and OpenGL). The IDE is free (as in beer).
Qt provides an IDE even less objectionable than X-Code, that will let you build, test, debug and produce code on multiple devices. It prefers C++ (which I generally hate), but makes it usable, secure, and viable, via its own well-designed API. BTW – the boost/STL advocates out there are free to go and fuck right off with the .NET developers. It’s also free (as in beer and speech).
Where the iPhone experience fails (IMO) is with all of the extra crap you have to do to run an app on it: developer profiles, provisioning profiles, distribution profiles etc, etc, are a tortuous pastime, even for someone like me who knows and loves encryption. It’s a tremendous hassle and provides almost zero advantages. It also provides a million unhelpful and foggy error messages that are totally impossible to understand unless you were in the team that developed the API.
For example, who cares if my app does evil things to people’s phones when the OS itself is so poorly protected that simply visiting a website can silently cause your phone to be utterly hacked by someone else.
[anyone wishing to point out that other OS’s are/have been affected by similar bugs need to realise that I am slagging off the TSA-style security theatre of the apple code-signing bullshit which is still vulnerable to perfectly ordinary attack vectors]