2² Decades

Thu 20 April 2017 by Jim Purbrick

Several years ago when we were in 100 robots together, Max was celebrating his 40th birthday. When I said that mine would be in 2017, it felt like an impossibly far future date, but, after what feels like the blink of an eye, here we are.

Along with many other lovely gifts I received this morning was a book with the subtitle Whatever happened to Generation X? by Tiffanie Darke complete with a bright yellow acid house cover and a quote by Douglas Coupland on the cover.

I’ll read the book when I go to Simon and Pinar’s wedding next month, but I’ll share my immediate reaction now. Despite the term being popularised by Coupland’s book, whatever did happen to generation X we won’t read it in a book. We’ll read and write about it on the web we built.

While I remember my parents freaking out when I wanted to wear a bright yellow acid house badge to school, at the time I was more in to loud guitar music like Nirvana and Blur. From the perspective of loud guitars it felt like I’d missed the party: Metalica’s Master of Puppets was already receading in to the rear view mirror and Led Zeppelin firmly in my parents era. While we didn’t have The Beatles though, I did have computers.

There are plenty of people who would argue that I missed the boat there too: Boolean algebra was developed in 1848; the Halting Problem proved to be undecidable over Turing machines in 1936 and Quicksort was developed in 1959. While the Infer team refused to give up at the halting problem and are now producing amazing real world results using static analysis, a lot of computer science was finished before I was born.

My kind of computers weren’t huge machines crunching numbers and doing maths though, they were small pieces loosely joined. Connecting to things and each other they didn’t operate on maths, but changed the world or built new ones. They automated my physics experiments so that I could spend more time kissing Ali in the common room, helped reverse engineer Grand Theft Auto maps and automated synthesiser parameters when I didn’t have real controls for them.

They let me record hours of music and made writing books, making films and recording music accessible to everyone. While that made lives harder for those trying to make a living from their art it helped many more lives flourish. Napster may have made Metallica pretty upset, but the french horn player from my school could plunder the past for funk loops to accompany his synthesisers.

The DIY explosion gave us hip-hop and a million flavours of dance music and the networks to share it. Eventually it also gave us digital versions of the Beatles and, now I have been able to download and listen to it all, I’m convinced they have nothing to top the Aphex Twin.

The same democratization of tools meant that as a software engineer I could scratch an itch and choose to build my own service on top of world class open source software or work for one of the companies that became huge making the web easier to use. I’ve seen enough of how the startup sausage is made to know that a lot of the glitter is not gold, but owning the means of production means I at least have the choice to strike out on my own.

Climate change may mean that our real world horizons are closer and the piles of stuff we collect smaller, but the virtual vistas we can explore are ever growing.

When I watch my children grow up with YouTube it’s amazing to think about what they will accomplish in the future. If they want to do something, they watch it, learn it and do it. Nothing is unknown and nothing is impossible. They’re incredible, which is lucky, as together we’re going to have to save the world.

These thoughts are my own. They don’t represent my employer. They don’t attempt to speak for my generation. I write them and share them because I can and because I want to. Someone might read them and comment on them or link to them to build a web. Thats how my generation works and that’s what we built. We may not have had the Beatles, but I’m OK with that.


VR Redux

Wed 04 January 2017 by Jim Purbrick

Mike and I have been talking about how to easily build simple networked social applications with ReactVR for a while, so I spent some time hacking over the Christmas break to see if I could build a ReactVR version of the pairs game in Oculus Rooms. Pairs is simple and ...

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Creating A Safe Environment For People In VR

Mon 31 October 2016 by Jim Purbrick

I was very happy that Oculus found time at OC3 to host a panel on creating a safe environment for people in VR. As social VR becomes more popular over the next few years it will quickly have to learn how to keep people safe together in shared environments. Some ...

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crestexplorer

Sun 21 August 2016 by Jim Purbrick

At the 3rd Party Dev State of the Union at EVE Fanfest 2016 earlier this year, CCP FoxFour drew my attention to a limitation of the current approach used by crestmatic to generate CREST documentation: it only discovers resources always reachable from the API root from the perspective of the ...

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Strange Tales From Other Worlds

Tue 10 May 2016 by Jim Purbrick

At the end of last year, Michael Brunton-Spall and Jon Topper asked me if I would like to give the opening keynote at Scale Summit as I had “lots of experience scaling weird things”, by which they meant Second Life and EVE Online. I immediately thought of The Corn Field ...

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Towards A Generic Media Type System

Sun 17 April 2016 by Jim Purbrick

The early days of RESTful hypermedia API design tends to involve lots of homogeneous collections. In the case of CREST vnd.ccp.eve.Api-v1 pointed to the logged in vnd.ccp.eve.ccp.Capsuleer-v1 which pointed to a vnd.eve.ccp.CharacterCollection-v1 of contacts which pointed to many vnd.ccp ...

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#recordstoreday

Fri 15 April 2016 by Jim Purbrick

StoryBirdAlbum

3 weeks ago I spent a few hours with photoshop working on the Story Bird logo that Linda made a while ago to make it suitable for print. 2 weeks ago I spent a few hours researching the best way to convert the 24 bit 48 Khz Story Bird mixes ...

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#bandcampday

Sat 26 March 2016 by Jim Purbrick

Black barn mixing desk

I love record shops. Whenever I had pocket money it would go on Metallica and Nirvana CDs bought from Our Price or black t-shirts to match. When I lived in Nottingham I bought Boards Of Canada CDs from the same Selectadisc that my Dad bought a rare Fairport Convention single ...

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crestmatic

Sun 03 January 2016 by Jim Purbrick

A year ago I gave a talk at EVE Vegas about building RESTful CREST applications. My #1 recommendation was to specify representations in requests, but that’s hard to do when there is little documentation on which representations are available and what they contain.

Fortunately CREST is self describing: send ...

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Free Tests For Everyone!

Thu 11 June 2015 by Jim Purbrick

Modern software development is sometimes colourfully described as being similar to firing tracer bullets at a target. Rather than spending time doing a lot of research, design and specification up front, the smallest, simplest version of the software is built and the feedback gathered from its use is used to ...

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Investing In Testing

Wed 10 June 2015 by Jim Purbrick

Droidcon London

Last year I was talking to an engineer at Droidcon London who was working on an Android app with 100% test coverage. I immediately asked whether he thought 100% test coverage was worthwhile: many software engineering teams strive to achieve 100% test coverage, but few succeed because it’s an ...

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buckd

Mon 18 August 2014 by Jim Purbrick

BuckGraffiti

One of the things I’ve been working on since joining Facebook is Buck, an open source Android & Java build tool which is significantly faster than many other Java build tools for a number of reasons.

As well as being fast, Buck gains a lot of power and flexibility by ...

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Organisational Structures

Thu 20 March 2014 by Jim Purbrick

There have been a number of blog posts recently about exciting new organisational structures. As Cory points out “Every early stage company thinks it has reinvented management”: a very dangerous belief when betting on a new organisational structure can be much riskier than betting on the wrong product.

It starts ...

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Beyond Time Dilation?

Wed 29 January 2014 by Jim Purbrick

The Battle of B-R5RB

EVE online is a remarkable game. On Monday over 2000 people spent over 20 hours destroying virtual spaceships worth 200,000 USD in real money in what was the likely the largest battle in a video game ever. That EVE is capaple of supporting such large engagements is an amazing ...

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Osprey Therian

Sun 15 December 2013 by Jim Purbrick

In mid-2004 I first started exploring Second Life. Version 1.4 had just been released and Philip Rosedale had said in the press release “My fantasy is to be Uma Thurman in Kill Bill, and now I can. I’d pay $10 for her yellow jumpsuit and sword moves and ...

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Parse By The Sea

Sat 19 October 2013 by Jim Purbrick

#parsebythesea

A few weeks ago Facebook London hosted the Parse By The Sea hackathon at the Brighton Dome as part of the Brighton Digital Festival. The idea was to take one of our internal hackathons on the road and invite members of the public to join us, turning a hackathon in ...

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Facebook Hackathons

Mon 16 September 2013 by Jim Purbrick

I’ve been a big fan of hackathons since one of the first Yahoo! Hack Days I attended at Alexandra Palace was struck by lightning. The lightning caused the fire alarms to go off which opened the roof to let the torrential rain pour on to hundreds of geeks and ...

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Brighton Digital Festival

Wed 04 September 2013 by Jim Purbrick

The Brighton Digital Festival starts this week and I’m very happy to be helping out with Facebook London‘s contributions: Parse By The Sea, a mobile app Hackathon featuring Parse on the 26th of September, and helping to Connect The Brighton Digital Festival by sponsoring Metranet to provide high ...

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Final Score

Thu 04 July 2013 by Jim Purbrick

Google Reader

Using Reader on my HTC Wizard on the loo was probably responsible for my biggest increase in clue ever.

Goodbye Reader, you’ll be missed.

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One Universe, Many Scales

Thu 10 January 2013 by Jim Purbrick

One epic meta-game design I first remember talking about a decade ago while working on Warhammer Online is the multi-scale online game: a system of interconnected games in which you choose to be a solo operative, work in a small group, or command epic forces or huge space fleets and ...

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