Title

Blog

About

Hi 👋. This is my blog, where I write about software, books, design, and anything else that catches my attention. This is Thomas, by the way, I’m a fullstack engineer who works with socially responsible companies.

Series

  • All Posts
  • Things I Learned
  • Tiny Thoughts
  • Book Reviews
  • Why are you like this, JavaScript?

Articles

  1. đź“• After (Book Review)

    Declaration of interest I am a spiritual person. I didn’t come into this book desperately seeking answers, or in need of comfort or certainty. You’re never going to get that from…

  2. (Not) Things I learned this week #38

    (Not) Things I learned this week #38 This week seems to have really flown by. I’ve decided to take purposeful and intentional time for rest and personal recuperation this week. I’m…

  3. Excommunicate your ideas

    Your side-projects deserve a decisive, merciful death at your hands. You dragged them into this world, you’ll fling them out. And do it quickly. I want to talk about killing our…

  4. Things I learned this week #37

    This week I’ve been focusing on perspective and gratitude. It’s harder than it sounds if you feel things are unfair and not in your favour. But, to quote about a million throw…

  5. đź“• Mrs Death Misses Death (Book Review)

    Godden has been writing and performing poetry since she decided to move to London instead of going to university. “Godden is a poet” headlines my review because it is so evident in…

  6. Things I learned this week #36

    The cold snap in London is teasing us. Is it over? hopefully. But it will still be ~1C at night so don’t get too complacent. Still, the days already feel long. I can hardly…

  7. Dash Cycle #01: (re)organising

    I'm building DashDot: a privacy-focused interval training app that doesn't suck. The second cycle of development lasted March 15 - April 12. Let's look at where we are. Goals Here…

  8. Things I learned this week #35

    The slightly cold-snap here in London continues. The optimistic sewing and sprouting that took place in my garden (such as it is in urban West London) have largely had to retreat…

  9. How much is just-enough system design for new apps and software?

    I wrote this because of a paralysing problem in coding: how much should I design my new app’s architecture before I dive into code if I can only learn about my app’s architecture…

  10. đź“• Once Upon a River (Book Review)

    This is a lovely book where classically fairy tale things happen. Set on the River Thames in Oxford around the turn of the 20th century, it follows individuals and families as a…

  11. Things I learned this week #34

    Things I Learned #34 We’ve made it to the Easter weekend. Spring has arrived here in London, which is to say it was 20 degrees C earlier this week and this morning it was 0, windy…

  12. Things I learned this week #33

    This cassette revival: Last year's (2020's) sale of tape cassettes, the 90's mainstay of car sound systems and OG Walkmans (Walkmen?) were the highest they have been since 2003. An…

  13. Dash Cycle #00 - The Beginning

    Hello. I'm building an app called Dash Dot, it's a native iOS app for interval training that is a) well-designed, and b) privacy- and utility-focused. This post covers the first…

  14. Things I learned this week #32

    Following on from International Women's Day last week, news of Sarah Everard's body being discovered broke on the 10th of March, a week after she went missing from Clapham, London…

  15. đź“• Magician (Book Review)

    The first in Feist's Riftwar Saga, Magician has the air of a pulp fantasy novel. First published, abridged, in 1982 and unabridged a decade later, this book oozes nerds in the…

  16. Things I learned this week #31

    This week we celebrated International Women's Day. My love and support goes out to anyone who identifies with that label. Let's keep pushing for fair representation and pay…

  17. The Frustrating Mismatch of Design by User Journey but Build with Components

    How do you design a good app? It's a charmingly amateurish question, but I've spent the past five years primarily trying to design and build web apps and I don't know the answer. I…

  18. Things I learned this week #30

    These no longer fictional bridges: You know the bridges on the Euro notes? There are seven of them total (notes and bridges) which represent seven different architectural styles…

  19. How to run Xcode tests for a SwiftUI iOS codebase with GitHub Actions

    Tl;dr Make sure you've got a repo on GitHub. Make sure you've got at least one set of tests in your Xcode codebase. Create the file below in : Replace the s and s with your file…

  20. Things I learned this week #29

    This lineage of cats: Chartwell House, in Kent, England, was the home of Winston Churchill. It's now owned and operated by the National Trust, a British institution, allowing…

  21. Opinions from 48hr on Clubhouse

    Clubhouse is a new audio social network platform for iOS. It's basically like having a moderated voice-only Zoom call. The entire network is largely three entities: Users: Human…

  22. Things I learned this week #28

    This collective noun: If I was to make a list of small-talk and first date conversation topics it would go something like this: food, the tube, podcasts or books, and then…

  23. Swift Closures: Inline functions explained by a web developer

    Hi, I'm Thomas. I'm a frontend engineer who's learning swift. Let's talk about closures in Swift from a very (very) introductory level. I'm assuming you've got some familiarity…

  24. Things I learned this week #27

    This seventeenth century petition: In 1674 in England, a pamphlet was made and published, titled The Women's Petition Against Coffee. The women (or alleged women, we don't actually…

  25. Website Design 2.0 Changelog

    I've redesigned the blog. This post just covers the technical whats and hows of it all. What's changed ? New Dark theme colours: Look around. Look at this dark purply-grey. Look at…

  26. đź“• Utopia Avenue (Book Review)

    Utopia Avenue is David Mitchell's latest piece of fiction in the meta-novel he is writing. Which is to say this book is set in the same mild-fantasy universe as several of his…

  27. Things I learned this week #26

    This heartening fact: Altruism, more specifically altruistic behaviour, is an action done (at cost) by an individual for the benefit of another individual. Why do humans, and other…

  28. đź“• First You Write a Sentence (Book Review)

    I loved this book. Will love this book again, because I know I'm going to read it again. And then probably again after that. Moran's two hundred page treatise on the process of…

  29. Tiny Thought: Frontend Engineering is a Fullstack Problem

    Tiny Thoughts are little (<500 word) essays. They're concise. Hypothesis: Frontend engineering cannot exist in isolation from backend technologies. What sparked this: Thinking…

  30. Things I learned this week #25

    This etymology: The word "peculiar" has come to mean odd or unique, so obviously its Latin root word (‌peculium) means somebody's cattle. Cows were pretty valuable assets back in…

  31. My Top Albums of 2020

    Just a quick blog post to highlight that I've published my 2020 Top Albums of the Year. You can find it here. Seriously, go check it out. I really enjoy making little specially art…

  32. đź“• The Silence of the Girls (Book Review)

    Pat Barker's take on the classic story of the Battle of Troy is told from the perspective of Briseis, the noble taken slave when Achilles sacks Lyrnessus. Consigned to life as a…

  33. Things I learned this week #24

    This fitness research: I've long been a fan of interval training to help improve my running and cycling speed. High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a method of training where…

  34. Design Resource: Free Fonts from Awwwards (2021)

    Awwwards have put out a collection of free (or free-adjacent) fonts. You can find them here.

  35. Things I learned this week #23

    These underwater drawings: Go back to 1860s and ask someone what coral reefs, or fish, or literally any marine life looked like. Go on. I bet they'd tell you they had no idea. How…

  36. An ode to note taking with markdown files

    This is based off a sesh (think lightning talk, but... cooler?) I gave at Oxwash, where I am a frontend software engineer. I wanted to give an overview for how I take notes in…

  37. Things I learned this week #22

    This week the UK Government has brought us Lockdown The Third, a threequel in the franchise after the straight-to-TV movie that was the November lockdown. Cases, deaths, and…

  38. 2021 Theme: The Year of Discourse

    Resolutions are dumb. They're unsustainable and you can fail at them. Humans are just awful at long-term behaviour or thought-pattern change. Instead, I like themes: broad ideas…

  39. Things I learned this week #21

    Happy New Year 🎊🥳🍾 It's been one hell of a ride, 2020, and I hope that I never know another year like you. This has been quite enough. We're at least six months from being…

  40. Things I learned this week #20

    This week's post comes a little lighter, on account of it being Christmas and all. I didn't want to break a streak, but also I want to get back to eating far too much and doing far…

  41. How are we going to write about 2020 from 2022 onwards?

    2020 has been a terrible year in so, so many ways for so, so many people. At the very least, the Covid-19 pandemic has stolen a year from us all. I would say most of us have gone…

  42. Things I learned this week #19

    All of these species named after David Attenborough: The man's a living legend (he's also like 94 - he was a teenager in the 1930s which was before the second world war - this isn…

  43. đź“• Kings of the Wyld (Book Review)

    Kings of the Wyld is a fantasy book which feels like three or four middle (or-upper middle) aged dudes getting drunk, playing Dungeons & Dragons, while classic Rock and Roll plays…

  44. Things I learned this week #18

    I took a four day week last week, so managed to spend this week with all the energy that only a 3-day weekend can give you. That said, I've found myself incredibly busy this week…

  45. Things I learned this week #17

    It's time of year again: Spotify have released their Rewind - showing you what you listened to throughout this year. After the year (or decade, or complete non-year, whatever helps…

  46. đź“• The Phoenix Project (Book Review)

    The Phoenix Project (TPP) is a a fiction book for nerds (said the nerd, on his blog). It's a parable for people who design, build, or deploy software. I want this article to just…

  47. Things I learned this week #16

    These Tattoos: In the late 1880s, a man called Sutherland Macdonald became the UK's first professioanl tattoo artist. Although he was already an artist, he started the tattoo craft…

  48. Tiny thought: On the separation of design and engineering

    Tiny Thoughts are little (<500 word) essays. They're concise. I make user interfaces, and I often participate in, or lead, the process of designing these interfaces. For a while I…

  49. Things I learned this week #15

    "Isn't it getting dark early ?" - how I've started at least half of the conversations I've had this week. This thing that spreads like a disease: Look, I was a germaphobe before it…

  50. Introducing Figma Variants with 5 Components that aren't Buttons

    Figma recently introduced Variants - a way of extending and varying your components. Components in Figma, and in modern web development, are reusable and encapsulated elements of a…

  51. đź“• On Connection (Book Review)

    Kae Tempest is a London-based artist who works with words. I first discovered their work in 2016, with the release of Let Them Eat Chaos - a conceptual spoken word album which…

  52. Things I learned this week #14

    Happy Friday 13th. I hope it's spooky and magical. This Roman Beverage: I'd imagine the Romans were pretty thirsty. The Mediterranean is warm, and you'd work up quite the thirst…

  53. đź“• An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (Book Review)

    An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (AART; because I'm not paid by the word here) is a wonderful Sci-Fi(-ish) adventure by Hank Green, one of the content creators in the first wave of…

  54. Things I learned this week #13

    WHAT. A. WEEK. It feels the entire western world has had their eyes on the US presidential election, and it's been exhausting. Not exhausting in the way that the last 12 months…

  55. Why are you like this JavaScript? JavaScript Runtimes and Engines

    Sometimes you keep hearing words but you're not actually sure what they mean, but you're too afraid to ask and keep forgetting to Google it. For me, two of those phrases have been…

  56. Things I learned this week #12

    This high fat diet: Whales, like dolphins but also humans, are mammals. This means they feed their young with milk. As you would expect, the blue whale has the largest mammary…

  57. Tiny thought: Writing for recipe cards

    Tiny Thoughts are little (<500 word) essays. They're concise. I've spent the past three months consciously trying to write and read more. I want to improve my ability to refine and…

  58. Things I learned this week #11

    This thing about how we sleep: In Western Europe, about 35% of young adults sleep with a soft toy every night, and about 44% of people keep hold of their childhood soft toy. It can…

  59. Think in Frameworks, build with Libraries - Thinking about CSS in Web Development

    I'm a few weeks into starting a new job as a frontend software engineer, and I've been moving around our (Angular) codebases to make a few smaller changes, and bump a number of our…

  60. đź“• Hamnet (Book Review)

    Hamnet follows Agnes, the wife of William Shakespeare, and her family - her brothers, children, in-laws - as well as several of the greater village populous. The book makes very…

  61. Things I learned this week #10

    This Tiny City: St. David's is a city with a population of about 1,000 people. In 1886 it was stripped of its status as a city, being described as "lonely, and the neighbouring…

  62. Five (and a bit) useful questions to answer in your first week at a new job

    I've just had my first week at a new job (I'm now a frontend software engineer at Oxwash), which is cool. I find first weeks intense because I have to balance a) the immediacy of…

  63. Things I learned this week #9 (Nobel Prize edition)

    In honour of the announcement of (some of) the 2020 Nobel Prizes, this week's edition contains entirely things I learned when reading about the people and work announced so far…

  64. đź“• Cat's Cradle (Book Review)

    After Slaughterhouse 5, Cat's Cradle is the second Vonnegut book I've read. I've heard wonderful things about Vonnegut, and this book exemplifies a lot of those, namely…

  65. Things I learned this week #8

    This week's Things I learned is a little shorter than usual because I've been moving house. I hate every part of moving house. Anyway, enough excuses, here are some of the things I…

  66. Software Engineering as a Craft

    A few months ago a prominent figure in the tech and software space was uninvited from a conference. In an (intentionally humorous) summary of this person, Melissa McEwan wrote a…

  67. đź“• Queenie (Book Review)

    Queenie is an excellent debut by Carty-William. The novel's titular narrator pins you to the page - she has a strong and unique voice, yet also unreliable and unlikable at times…

  68. Things I learned this week #7

    This unknown origin: No one is quite certain where the term "rule of thumb" came from. It has been mistakenly attributed to a British Judge's rule that a man can beat his wife if…

  69. My experience finding a new job as a software engineer in summer of 2020

    In late summer of 2020 I moved from freelance software engineer to a full-time position. I want to outline this process for literally anybody who's interested because I've found it…

  70. đź“• how do we know we're doing it right? (Book Review)

    Sykes' collection of essays covers a surprisingly large amount of ground for a relatively short book. She turns her attention to a lot of the inner turmoils that seem to plague…

  71. Things I learned this week #6

    These ways of thinking: When we hand over a new problem to our brain there's a lot of things we need to do to solve it. We need to understand the problem and the surrounding/causal…

  72. đź“• wow, no thank you (Book Review)

    Samantha Irby came onto my radar in 2019 after a reading slump from that time I was burned out by my job in a VC startup. We are never meeting in real life, her previous set of…

  73. Things I Learned this week #5

    This missed opportunity to name something: Ping Pong is a weird name for a sport, right? Ping Pong is actually a trademarked name, but it's not uncommon to call a thing by a brand…

  74. Why are you like this, JavaScript? An introduction to Promises by using Fetch.

    Let's start with a correct, but pretty dense, definition: JavaScript Promises are a first-class abstraction for handling asynchronous actions, like: Fetching data from a remote API…

  75. Things I learned this week #4

    This world: The Word Kipple is a word invented by SciFi writer Phillip K. Dick, to mean the kind of rubbish/trash that accumulates if humans don't intervene. source This part of…

  76. Apple, What are you doing?

    I have loved Apple solidly for eight years, since I was 20 and gifted a Mac Mini for Christmas. I wrote my Masters thesis on that thing in a ground floor bedroom of a student house…

  77. Things I learned this week #3

    This medieval lingo: Have you ever wondered how to refer to the area where a good-old-fashioned joust took place? You know, jousts? Two men, two horses, two giant poles, and one…

  78. Why are you like this, JavaScript? Taking a look at JavaScript's single threaded nature.

    Sometimes you hear something so often that you don't really hear it anymore. One of those things for me is words to the effect of "How does this JavaScript code even run?". I…

  79. Things I learned this week #2

    This useful thinking tool: good writing starts with observations, and moves to analysis. Making the transition is difficult. One way to spot a mental crutch is to see where you…

  80. Things I learned this week #1

    This tidbit about a literary villa: Over three days in June of 1816 at a villa in Geneva, Mary Shelley started writing Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus and John William…

  81. Where I go for UI inspiration

    Like anybody who makes interfaces for apps/websites, I spent a lot of time looking at Design Inspiration (read: UIs, real or imaginary, made by other people). This is a really good…

  82. Deploying an MVP Rails App with Render like it's 2020

    📚tl;dr - I used Render to deploy a Rails app and database. It was very easy, very fast, and very modern. Would recommend to everyone. Way back before the pandemic I had the idea…

  83. I don't want to be a unicorn 🦄, an engineer or a designer - I just want to build things better

    I like building software, or parts of software, which are visual and interactive. I do not particularly enjoy the more abstract, very important, areas like technical optimisation…

  84. Hereabouts devblog #2 - March 2020

    Hi, I’m Thomas Wilson, I’m a web and mobile engineer building Hereabouts - an app that’s like a tour guide if the tour guide was like Roman Mars after three beers. This is a…

  85. Why I chose React Native to build a new app in 2020

    I am currently in the process of building herabouts - an app that’s like a tour guide, only cooler. Most of my previous engineering work has been web-based (react and vue) because…

  86. Kickstarting UX Design with ugly working documents: Screens, Components, Actions, and State.

    UX design resists standardisation or templates. It can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach, and the nature of the product, audience, and production team all mean that something…

  87. Hereabouts devblog #1

    Hi, my name’s Thomas Wilson but I often go by my just my surname. I’m 28 years old, currently based in London, England, and I design and build software for a living through my…

  88. Re-publishing my writing on my experiences with food and eating disorders

    tl;dr - I have moved the writing I have created on my experiences with eating disorders to this site (and off of Medium.). You can find them here. For at least the past five years…

  89. Moving my personal site to Gatsby

    A few weeks ago I was having a conversation with someone about modern web design, and we spoke about web fonts and variable fonts. In my experience, people who work in software…

  90. Culture I devoured in Autumn 2019

    This season turned out to be surprisingly busy with culture. I started the month by talking at two tech events in London, meaning I arrived into the full body of the month having…

  91. What is CSS-in-JS and why do people keep using it?

    The elders tell us of a time where you would build websites by literally writing your files. If you wanted to add some styles, you’d write them in a file and then the two…

  92. Back to Bear, Goodbye Notion

    This piece turned out a little long than expected because I really want to clarify that this is not a “Why Bear is better than Notion” article. It is a “Why Bear suits my needs…

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