Assorted writing and projects by Ian Malpass, most recently:

On Sabbaticals

Sabbaticals - a long(er) term paid break from work - used to be the preserve of academia. But, more and more companies are choosing to offer sabbaticals to their longer-serving employees. It’s a tremendous benefit for employees (and, as I’ll argue below, a great benefit for employers too).  »»

Failure Is An Option

This is a transcript of a talk I gave at the Velocity Conference in Santa Clara on 28 May 2015. It’s transcribed from the video recording, but edited slightly for clarity.  »»

Imperfect allies

Acting as an ally is hard, and mistakes are costly. This shouldn’t deter allies, but merely change how they approach their work.  »»

The fireworks of karma

We’ve had trouble lately with people nearby setting off fireworks in the evening. I like fireworks—don’t get me wrong, one of the reasons I studied chemistry was because of them—but the attraction begins to pall after so many nights of dealing with kids who can’t sleep and a dog who thinks the world is ending but that it might stop if he can only fit all 100lb of him into your lap.  »»

Putting the Ops in DevOps

I was recently made aware of The Road To DevOps, a piece on the ActiveState blog, which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and finally got me to write it.  »»

How I write talks

I recently delivered a talk called Fallible Humans at DevOps Days Minneapolis, which was well received. Although I’ve spoken in front of audiences before—internally at Etsy, at local meetups, student groups, etc.—this was my first “proper” conference delivering a prepared talk.  »»

Fallible Humans

This is a transcript of a talk I gave at DevOps Days Minneapolis on 18 July 2014. It’s transcribed from memory, but should be a close approximation to what I said at the time.  »»

An accidental Argentinian

So, sometimes I’m mistaken for an Argentinian government agency.  »»

A/B testing complexity

We tend to think of A/B testing as a tool for testing the validity of product decisions, or for empirically determining them. Should this button be blue, or red? Does moving more pictures above the fold increase conversion? These are good and useful questions that A/B testing can help answer.  »»

Random acts of leadership

One of the things I like best about working for Etsy is how easy it is to enthuse about the people I work with. There are various anecdotes I can tell about “business as unusual”, but one of my favourites came from when I was only a few months into my new job.  »»

Finding my singing voice

I am, it’s fair to say, not the world’s best singer. If the radio is loud enough in the car, and I’m alone, I might mangle a tune here or there. If I’m confident there’s no-one within earshot, I’ll make use of the forgiving acoustics of the bathroom and serenade the shampoo in the shower. But singing for others is just not going to happen; karaoke is my idea of crimson-shamed hell.  »»

Drowning in politeness

In which I test the belief that an Englishman would rather die than cause a fuss. »»

Why I’m OK with the BBC Homepage Clock disappearing

So, the BBC Trust (the group charged with keeping the BBC honest) has upheld a complaint about the clock widget on the homepage, and has decreed that it should be removed.  »»

A dockable, switchable headset setup for the Apple Thunderbolt Display

I’m lucky enough to have an Apple Thunderbolt Display as my main screen, and I like it a great deal. I have the display wired to the local area network, and have assorted USB devices attached which would be a pain to connect and disconnect whenever I wanted to dock and undock the Air. With the Thunderbolt connector, I can dock the laptop with just one cable. (Well, two if you include the power cable.)  »»

Advice to future software engineers

Software engineers write code for a living. It’s our job to make computers do what we need them to do, to take our ideas and the ideas of others about how the world can be made better with technology and actually make the world better.  »»

Everybody's Free (To Wear Subfusc)

It was 1999. I was revising for my Finals in Chemistry at Oxford. I use the word “revising” in its loosest possible sense. While trying to avoid anything that looked like learning, I ended up penning a re-wording of Baz Luhrmann’s “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)” that was peculiar to my current predicament.  »»

Hénon velocity

This is a Processing sketch that renders the Hénon Map, using the canonical parameter values a=1.4 and b=0.3. Instead of rendering points, it renders circles with the radius of the circle being proportional to the distance the point travelled from its previous position, and the colour depending on whether it travelled left or right.  »»

Happy Notices

As I lay on a rug in the shade of a tree, looking up at the clouds with my kids, I noticed I was happy, and made sure to think to myself “if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is”. »»

Fractal trees

This is a simple demo of a “fractal plant” L-system (iterations 3-6) using Javascript and Canvas.  »»

Blueprints for regrettable city plans

After sitting through Jared Tarbell’s “Inspiration Session” at Geeky By Nature, I was inspired to go and download Processing and finally have a go at making something with it.  »»