We love Ken!

Ken Yakitori is a sake bar in Auckland. Scratch that. Ken is SO much more than a sake bar. I won’t explain myself – if you’ve ever been there it’s most likely your favourite place in the world. If you’ve never been there you really need to check it out. Mmmmmmmmmm sake!

I popped in last weekend for some beer, sake, beer, sake, sake, sake and a few skewers, and was delighted to spot this on their new menu. I’ve finally discovered the secret to Japan’s legendary productivity – 25-hour days!”

ken yakitori menu

Happy Christmahanukwanza!

Looks like it’s over and out for me until early in the new year. To all my friends, family and loyal fans, have a great break and I’ll be back to delight, entertain and hopefully infuriate/offend you all in January. To the rest, most notably the countless schmucks I’ve flamed in the past year – suck my balls.



A bunch of useless crap

Dave moved house at the weekend, and in the turmoil he found a CD containing a bunch of files he used to have posted at his original blog years ago.

I can’t claim to have created any of it (save item #1, which represents long overdue recognition for services rendered) and have credited copyright owners where known (ok, one of them). Any uncredited copyright owners are advised to read my legal disclaimer before calling in the lawyers:

“Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke” – Hunter S. Thompson

So without further ado…

  1. I once bragged that in a past life I had been a poster child for student alcoholism. Did you think I was kidding?
  2. Warren has been happily married to Christiane for over 6 years now, and they have a beautiful son named Alex. Things could have been a LOT different.
  3. Can somebody please pass this on to Uncle Rico?
  4. Sorry kids, Santa may be a little late this year
  5. Ok this is really dumb, but I know a couple of people who will think it’s hilarious. Mum. Simonne.
  6. Christmas is just around the corner, and if you’re like me you’re stuck for gift ideas for that special someone. How about a picture of my ass?
  7. And then there’s this little gem. Surely the best comic strip Craccum ever ran (with the possible exception of Ralph the Aboeba), Anus Cat and Scroto Mouse was purile, stupid, and incredibly funny. Karl Wills is a legend. Click on the image below to enlarge. I’ll get around to posting the rest one day. If I can be bothered.

Anus Cat and Scroto Mouse

DP2008: Entries now open

Ok kids, looks like I’m not going to be able to get the Facebook app ready by the end of the year, so we’re going to have to do this the old fashioned (by comparison) way. Entries are now open for Dead Pool 2008.

You know the drill – pick ten celebs you doubt will live out 2008 and attach their names as a comment on this page.

Entry conditions:

  1. Ten ponies per player. Period.
  2. Ponies must be alive at 0001hrs CST on Jan 1, 2008. If you picked Evil Knievel or Ike Turner, stiff shit.
  3. Ponies must be famous or infamous: Dana Reeve wasn’t, Maddox Jolie isn’t
  4. Points are allocated by the formula (100 – age at death)
  5. The pony has to be declared dead to score. Brain death isn’t enough… someone has to pull the plug.
  6. Two categories: Most hits and Most points
  7. No prizes shall be awarded, but all will acknowledge the winner to be the “Most Cynical Bastard”, who may use the initials “MCB” after their name in perpetuity
  8. Scoring ends 2359hrs CST Dec 31, 2008
  9. The ultimate source of truth is the Dead People Server
  10. (A new one this year) If you decide to *ahem* take matters into your own hands, the points DO count. However, I can’t promise not to squeal when the cops come a-knocking. I’m too young and pretty to go to prison. Maybe one of those white-collar-conjugal-visit prisons, but certainly not a blue-collar-pound-me-in-the-ass prison. No way, no how.

So let’s get the ball rolling…


  1. Amy Winehouse
  2. Hugh Hefner
  3. Ed Hilary
  4. Michael Vick
  5. Nelson Mandela
  6. Keith Richards
  7. Pamela Anderson
  8. Elizabeth Taylor
  9. Michael Jackson
  10. Sebastian Loeb

I’m in an Agile state of mind

Warning. This post starts out looking like geeky techno babble but it isn’t, I swear!

I’d never heard of agile software development until I arrived in London. I can’t say it’s what everybody’s doing over there, but the best development houses are at least dipping their toes in the water. The guys I worked with at Conchango are bloody ninjas at agile development, and it works really well for them and (most importantly) their clients.

There are a lot of different agile development methods (IIRC Conchango uses ‘Scrum‘), and I really can’t be arsed going over them here – there’s some pretty good coverage in the links above if you’re interested. What I’m more interested in today is Agile as a philospohy, rather than a development methodology. Let me explain…

My first exposure to agile was as a development methodology. When I interviewed at Conchango, Tom Hopkins (one of those annoying bastards that you can’t help liking, despite them being so much smarter than you are) tried explaining it to me. While I understood what he was telling me, to tell the truth I didn’t really buy it at first. It wasn’t until I’d seen the teams churning out incredible (in terms of value and complexity) work in quite short timeframes that it all started to make sense. Here’s my take on it:

The easiest way to eat an elephant is to do it one bite at a time, starting with the tastiest bits. This makes your lofty goal much more manageable, and if / when you stop eating you can be comforted by the fact that at least you ate the eye fillets before the asshole. You can also avoid the risk of starving to death while trying to figure out how you’re going to fit the whole bloody thing in your mouth.*

*begin update*

Ok Tom, how’s this instead?

The easiest way to eat an elephant is to do it one bite at a time, starting with the tastiest bits. This makes your lofty goal much more manageable, and when you’ve eaten the eye fillets you’re free to decide if moving on to the asshole is really that great an idea. You also minimise the risk of choking, or starving to death while your mother is trying to figure out how to fit the whole bloody thing in your mouth.

I agree – the analogy doesn’t really do justice to the complexity of actually doing agile development, but that wasn’t my intention. I think the main message I wanted to emphasise is that big picture planning is great, but not at the expense of doing. The days of ‘scope and hope’ (‘waterfall’) planning are numbered – and hopefully not just when it comes to software development projects. I think agile holds water as a planning/doing philosophy on many levels, and would encourage everyone to check out the links in Tom’s comment below – I know I will.

Merry Christmas, kiddies!

*end update*

So now I get agile as a development methodology, and as an approach to digital strategy it makes a lot of sense too. You can’t anticipate all future requirements, and even if you could the odds are you don’t have the time, cash, authority or nads to commission a project that big. A much simpler and yet more powerful approach is to continuously assess and evaluate opportunities for improvement (achieving whatever your business objectives are) and going after the most important ones first. (You still need an over-arching vision or direction, but within that you should be free to do whatever you’ve decided is the highest priority).

What’s my point? Ok so I’ve been thinking about this concept quite a bit in recent weeks, and it now occurs to me that agile as a philosophy not only makes sense from a development and strategy / planning perspective, but also as a way of life…

You’re a long time dead, as the saying goes. We’ve all heard that one before, but most of us never seem to take it on board. I remember a scene in the CS Lewis biopic ‘Shadowlands’ (bloody terrible movie), where Lewis observes that we seem to live our lives like we’re climbing a hill, continuously living in the shadows in the misguided hope that one day we’ll reach the summit and bask in the sun. Trouble is, it’s cold in the shadows and most of us never reach the top.

It’s good to have direction in your life, to have some kind of ambition and a few clues about what’s important to you. But there’s no point fretting about what you want to do with your life. When I was a kid I wanted to be a vet, as a teenager I wanted to be a *shudder* lawyer, and these days I dream about life as a rodeo clown. God only knows what my aspirations will be later in life – most likely I’ll wish I was a kid, teenager or thirty-something again. You can spend a lot of time making these big life-long plans, and miss out on a lot of living along the way. What should you be doing instead?

At any given point in time, you should be focusing on whatever the hell you’ve decided is most important to you. Whatever makes you happy – do that shit.

Ok so here’s the parallel I see with agile development:

Imagine you ‘ve got a budget of ’10 years’ to spend on a project with the business objective of ‘making you happy’. You could spend 2 years mapping out everything you needed to do before starting the real ‘get happy’ work. By then you’d be committed to a good solid plan that will take you maybe another 5 years to achieve. Assuming that your aspirations are still the same 7 years from now (how likely is that?), you should be doing pretty well.

Alternatively, you could assess a whole bunch of things that could make you happy (some of these can be big and lofty – I’m not saying you can only do the little stuff) and make a call – which of these would make you happiest? When you’ve made that decision you can get cracking right away and also start thinking about what you’re going to do next. At the end of your 10-year happiness program, one of these will hold:

  • You will have achieved everything on your list – you can’t think of anything that’ll make you happier; or
  • You’ve run out of time, but spent every day of that 10 years doing the stuff that was most important to you.

I don’t know about you, but the latter approach sounds pretty sweet to me. If that’s not enough, you will also have been enjoying yourself from day one, rather than spending 2 years in planning hell before starting to actually do the happy happy stuff.

I’m not sure if this post is about trying to help laymen understand agile software development methodologies, or just a wake-up call to people (myself included) who find it easy to slip into a rut in the misguided hope that greater things are just around the bend. Either way I hope there’s something worthwhile in there.

Get busy living or get busy dying, I say. Can anyone suggest the name of a reputable school for rodeo clowns? I might need that.

*Cool analogy, huh Tom? You can use that one if you like 🙂

So long, old girl

Margaret Campbell Johnson (née Gordon) 1920 – 2007

My grandmother died last night. My mother’s mother, ‘Granma’ we called her. She was 87 years old.

I lost both of my grandfathers at an early age – my mother’s father when I was just a toddler and my father’s father on my 10th birthday1. As such, many of my fondest childhood memories involve sleep-overs and sunny weekend and after-school visits with my Granma and Granny – the über-mothers, who (as luck would have it) lived around the corner from each other and just a short walk from my house.

Grandmothers come in all shapes and sizes. There are the grannies, nannas, nonnas, omas, kuias, ma-mas, nanny-grannies (yep) and granmas to name but a few. They’re all different – great in some ways, challenging in others. You can’t go wrong with a Granma, I reckon.

Granma had some funny ways about her2 and could be acerbic at times, but we kids knew that she loved us more than anything. She was always baking some tasty treat or another, and let us get away with murder. Almost. She had a big leather strap hanging in the wash-house that was mentioned and pointed to a hell of a lot, but to my knowledge it hasn’t left its hook since the day it was put up. The woman had an enormous heart and the patience of Job.

I was surprised to hear of her passing this morning, but to be honest I’m not really saddened by it. That is to say, I’m not so much mourning her death as her loss…

Granma was diagnosed with Alzheimers about 8 years ago, and had been in a nursing home since April 2000 (I remember this because it was just before her 80th birthday – kinda put a dampener on the party plans). I last saw her about a year ago, by which time she had been catatonic for a long while.

The Granma we knew has been gone for many years, and in some ways it’s a relief to know she is at peace now. I’m more upset by the sudden reminder of how the Alzheimers took her from us years ago, than by her inevitable death.

At the same time I’m also glad to once again remember the time we spent together when I was a child, and the mounting battle of wits we fought in my teenage years. She was a worthy adversary, as loving, kind and generous as a grandmother can be. So long, old girl.

1ObT. The magic number for men in my family is 58, which probably explains why all the photographs of my male ancestors show them with loads of hair. Hopefully this means I’m set to escape the ravages of Alzheimers, but just in case – Dave, you know where I keep the shotgun, right?
2For example, she could squeeze a penny ’til the Queen screamed for mercy.

Facebook spam: it’s all over, Rover!

Begin rant.

Yesterday I said that I wasn’t really bothered by all the stupid chain letters and virus hoaxes I’d been getting via Facebook. Truth is, I’ve received another dozen or so today and it’s really pissing me off. So much so that I’ve uninstalled Superwall and altered my contact preferences to filter this crap out.

I think the thing that infuriates me most was that some of the people passing this crap on went to varsity with me, so we’ve all been using email pretty regularly since 1995 at least. You’d think that these people would have picked up a few clues about e-etiquette by now!

If yesterday’s post doesn’t make it clear to you, here’s a rule of thumb that will always serve you well:

If you are ever encouraged to pass something on to everyone you know, don’t!

  • It’s annoying for the recipient, in that anyone with more than 2 friends will have seen it before and (presuming their IQ is greater than Forrest Gump‘s) immediately identified it as a hoax (if you need help with this, see Snopes.com the source for debunking online and offline urban legends, hoaxes etc).
  • It makes you look like an idiot (see above)
  • What’s more, it only encourages the annoying motherfuckers who make this stuff up. They thrive on your mindless complicity – DO NOT FEED THEM!

With any new technology there are always protocols to be established so we can all get along nicey nice. Unfortunately it appears that we’re on page one (still scanning the dust jacket!) when it comes to comms within Facebook, so we’ve got some long, hard and very very irritating yards ahead of us while we sort out the ground rules. Or we won’t, ‘cos this’ll get so damn annoying that we drop out in droves.

Mr Zuckerberg? If you can tear yourself away from your misguided crusade to deny the world the pleasure of reading your Harvard application*, you might want to look into this. If Facebook has an achilles heel, this is most certainly it.

*Fencing? Math team? Tech support? Science Olympiad? What a dork!

End rant.