Back in a Bit

Things to do on a train, revisited

A title that amuses the author in at least three different ways simply isn’t enough: convention dictates that a weblog should have a subtitle. A number of publishing applications, notably WordPress, have functionality to allow, even encourage, the use of a subtitle. Prospective authors would do well to note the default subtitle, “Just another WordPress weblog”, with foreboding: for never a truer statement will likely fill this line.

Here, the use of a subtitle has been played down but, when one was required, I went with “a sporadic weblog from the United Kingdom about culture and technology”. You’ll agree that this, while basically accurate, is about as vague as its possible to be on subject matter. It does nothing to capture what the author regularly publishes nor, more importantly, what the visitors come to read.

Of late, I’ve been writing at length about my faulty brain; not exactly a cultural nor technological subject. Quite a fair few people came to read about it too, mainly because they’d been pointed to it by someone else. But what about the casual visitor? The ones that come here following a search on Google and the like? As it turns out, they care very little for my faulty brain. They also don’t care much for culture and technology. By far the most popular search term is “things to do on a train”, which guides them to a highly facetious post I wrote more than seven years ago.

Back then, it wasn’t so easy to post to your weblog on the move, but I’d developed a way involving my own CMS, a Palm Pilot (with sexy folding keyboard) and a mobile phone that allowed me to recover some of the time I was spending on trains (over two hours a day). All that was left to do was think of something to write about. As I looked up and down the carriage, I realised that inspiration was sitting all around me: a rush-hour train out of London packed to the rafters with irritating people. This was a time long before publishing weblog posts as lists was commonplace – I simply observed annoying things going on around me, arranged them in order of irritation caused.

It has occurred to me, however, that those arriving at this post via Google are going to be disappointed by what they find. Whereas they turned up looking for something to fill a tedious journey, what they find is me whinging about how bloody awful people are. So, let’s leave culture, technology and faulty brains to one side for a moment, and give the masses what they want. Following a bit of research, may I present (slightly) more appropriate lists of suggestions of things to do on a train.

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Messing up the interface

When creating interfaces you often come to a point where you need to decide what your priorities are. The most obvious choice is to cater to the needs of the user. Unfortunately when doing online business sometimes this is not easy to achieve due to certain restrictions. It then becomes an economic choice.

To simplify the problem let’s say you’re designing an interface for a contact form. There are a lot of people involved in the problem and they all have their own issues they want resolved.

Waterfall 2006 – International Conference on Sequential Development

Because it’s possible you may want to attend all sessions, Waterfall 2006 features no concurrent sessions. All sessions are run sequentially for your enjoyment. However, since in a waterfall process we don’t want testers to know anything about coding, or programmers to know anything about design, and so on, you can only attend sessions that match your job function. When you register to attend you’ll be asked to select an appropriate job function. When sessions that are not relevant to you are running you will be required to sit idle in the lobby.