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.


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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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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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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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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Google+ First Thoughts

Thu 30 June 2011 by Jim Purbrick

After months of rumours it’s finally here, so what is Google+ like? My first thoughts are that it’s super slick and that Circles definitely makes it different, but I’m not sure better.

Limiting the distribution of shared information will likely also limit the growth of the network ...

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HTML 5 multimedia

Mon 07 June 2010 by Jim Purbrick

I’ve been morbidly fascinated by the Rich Internet Application technology blood bath for a while now: Whirled,Metaplace and others tried to stuff virtual worlds in to web pages using Flash, Second Life stuffed Flash in to virtual worlds via Webkit, Unity stuffed Mono in to a 3D engine ...

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FOSDEM X: The Movie

Sun 14 March 2010 by Jim Purbrick

A video of my FOSDEM talk about Mono in Second Life and our plans for the future of scripting is now online (the slides are also available here ):

Watching back, I was surprised to hear myself say “Hooray!”, “Shit” and “Crap” quite so often…

While you’re catching up on ...

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@scalecamp

Mon 07 December 2009 by Jim Purbrick

On Friday I jumped on the train to London to attend the first scalecampuk, an unconference about scalability, at the Guardian offices.

The sessions were all very interesting and mostly very relevant. I learned new things about XSS and CSRF and Django’s defences against them from Simon Willison, new ...

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