No-one’s a Critic

On Criticism

A couple of days ago, my friend and colleague Gavin Logan wrote a short post which has got me thinking about criticism (or lack thereof) in the local web community:

“ A local web design agency that I used to admire has started to churn out insipid work. It’s made me think about this aversion we have for talking publicly about this kind of thing. I don’t want to name them, and I’d consider it rude if I did, but I don’t know where this politeness comes from. ”

While I don't know which agency he's referring to, I'm more than familiar with this situation, both from my time in the North East and previously. While criticism is a vital element of the design process it's a tricky area even under the best circumstances – for instance, between good friends or long-time associates. As Gavin says, giving polite yet firm feedback to local designers and agencies – and lets face it, we're often talking about competitors here – is next to impossible.

I was a Freelance Teenage Hermit

I was a Teenage Freelance Hermit

A daftly-titled article I wrote for Codeworks' recent freelancers feature. Above (for posterity) is the illustration I did to accompany the post!

PHP North East: the first of many

Anthony Sterling at the first PHP North East

Last night, Anthony Sterling kicked off the first meeting of PHPNE, a Newcastle-based PHP user group in the style of several existing regional get-togethers. I joined a dozen or so other local developers at the Town Wall, which has kindly agreed to host the group for the forseeable future.

Distract me not: Faux WriteRoom in the CMS

Faux WriteRoom

In which I jury-rig my CMS to emulate the excellent WriteRoom, and thus maybe write articles a little bit quicker.

semiBad version four: more old school than an old school

semiBad version four

Earlier this weekend I decided to add a few bits of new functionality to the site. As is so often the case with these things, it quickly snowballed into an early spring-clean, and the first proper refit of the site's backend since I built it the first time. Here's a quick rewrite of what changed and why.

What the Haggis did next

A lovely peppery haggis. Definitely eat some.

“ Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, Great Cheiftain o' the Puddin'-race! ”

You should know what's for dinner tonight. Here's what to eat tomorrow.

HTML5 Poker cheat sheet: a web app html5 poker cheat sheet
  1. I started playing Poker again.
  2. I built an HTML5 cheat sheet and web app to help you sort out chips before a game.
  3. I wrote an unfeasibly long blog post about points one and two.

Scared of the Ocean - Thalassophobia

Thalassophobia - CD case, front cover

A couple of weeks ago I posted this illustration, which I was hoping to develop as a full project. And that's exactly what happened — as the artwork for the debut album from Scared of the Ocean, a band from my home town of Milton Keynes. Plenty of pictures in the full article.

Mano a Bydo

man vs. dobkeratops

A quick remix of a vector illustration I did last year, for a blog post that I never finished.

On a related note: Dobkeratops is my favourite video game boss of all time. I think that was basically what I was trying to say in the blog post, although I had it padded out over about 1500 words. That, and that you should probably play an R-Type game in the next few days.

Observations on a month spent kind of holding the future

The iPad.

“ I held an iPad in my hands today and it was kind of like holding the future. The future is expensive and has a glass front. ”

As far as first impressions go, these (by Gavin Logan on Friday's Geekest Drink) are pretty much on the money. It might seem a little late in the day to be writing up thoughts on a new device — after a month here and several in the States, some would perhaps feel that the topic is a little stale. But as many initial observations of the device seem to be based on shininess or pricetag, I thought it would be a good idea to hold off until I'd seen how it works in the real world for a non-trivial period of time.