Category Archives: Systems

To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design

So, it’s been a while since I wrote a book review. And I have, in fact, been reading the odd book here and there. I read everyone’s favourite late-noughties manifesto The Lean Startup, which was a few good insights smothered … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Software Engineering, Systems | Leave a comment

The Essence of Hayek (Part 1)

In April I wrote a long, winding review of Drift into Failure. I was very proud of it: in the space of several thousand words I visited complex systems, fuzzy logic and the usefulness of positivistic thinking. It met with … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Economics and public policy, Systems | 1 Comment

Waltzing with Bears

Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister are probably best known for the book Peopleware (unreviewed). It’s a justly famous book in my industry, containing as it does generous lashings of both wit and wisdom. Sadly, it is a book more honoured … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Software Engineering, Systems | 2 Comments

A not-so-brief aside on reigning in chaos

Everything that humans touch eventually becomes complex, whether we like it or not. (Blog posts too. This one started out as a comparison of three competing software system alternatives and subsequently bloated into a discussion of chaos in computer systems.) … Continue reading

Posted in Robojar, Software Engineering, Systems, Technical Notes | 27 Comments

Fat and Simple

In my trade we commonly mention the truism that “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. I bring this up because I’m about to do what every smart person likes to do: drastically simplify a … Continue reading

Posted in Diet, Systems | 21 Comments

War and Peace and War

Grand theories of history never quite go out of fashion. The impossible complexity of human society so cheerfully refutes our understanding that we have to fall back on intuitive pattern-matching to make sense of it (after a while, this becomes … Continue reading

Posted in Books, History, Systems | Leave a comment

Drift into Failure

Drift into Failure, by Sidney Dekker , is one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a while. “Thought provoking” is usually a shorthand used by buttered-up friends of the author to mean “I agree” or “he/she provided a … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Systems | 3 Comments