Hi! I’m Chris 👋

Welcome to my blog, where I write about various things I find interesting - and perhaps you might find interesting too.

You can talk to me on Mastodon

A Crunchless Hackathon

Hackathons or Hackdays or “Innovation Days” or whatever you want to call them have been a mainstay in tech for a while now. Sometimes, they’re seen as a simple “fix” for an organisation that’s lacking innovation (spoiler: that’s not how they work). But, just so we’re all on the same page: ...

August 9, 2022 · 1468 words · naxxfish

This is fine 🔥 (no, it's not)

I’m a staunch advocate of sustainability. Being an engineer, I make things - and one of my life goals is for everything I build to use as little energy (and therefore carbon emissions) as possible. Because, in my view, I can contribute to limiting climate change, even in a small way. This week, the UK has seen the hottest temperatures in recorded history. All of our infrastructure experienced failures - roads, railways, electricity grids. There were droughts, and the firefighters were busier than they have ever been since World War 2. Our homes are ill equipped for these kinds of temperatures and this will cost lives. Most news outlets were quite clear: this heatwave is a direct result of climate change. The Sun and the Daily Express gave it a different spin - we’re all getting a free holiday right on our doorstep! Hooray! 🙄 ...

July 20, 2022 · 2838 words · naxxfish

Is everyone going to build the Metaverse?

Ever since Meta (nee Facebook) announced their intention of building “the Metaverse” in their Facebook Connect conference keynote in 2021, changing their name in the process - the world has been simultaneously enthrealled, amused and terrified by the idea of spending more of their time in a virtual world rather than the real one. Maybe it’s because they remember the dystopian setting of Ready Player One, where people live in towering stacks of containers because their cities have become uninhabitable due to overcrowding and energy shortages are commonplace - and the only way to escape is through the OASIS “metaverse” - leading them to neglect to fix the problems with physical society in preference to enjoying a virtual one instead....

December 5, 2021 · 3526 words · naxxfish

Crowdfunding Witch-hunt: Debunking Debunks of Aurora Nutrio

Many moons ago, I was a host on a podcast called The Gadget Crowd. My role was to do the deep dives into the technical feasibility of the projects that we talked about - usually tempering the hyperbolic claims of the campaigns into something more realistic. I also featured a number of exceptionally bizarre campaigns claiming everything from a perpetual motion machine powered by demonic forces (legitimately what the project claimed), to a device that was designed to release your inner chi by regularly beeping (who’s campaign text read much like the incoherent ramblings of someone with severe psychosis). Over the years, many crowdfunded tech projects have come and gone, and the public has now experienced a range of outcomes from great success (for example the RiutBag, which delivered exactly as intended and is a ongoing business delivering new, useful, products regularly), to great failures (like Juicero - which was a legitimate, but dumb, idea that just failed), to outright scams (like ZNAPS - where backers have now resorted to magic incantations trying to get their money back). The general public has seen it all. Fast forward a few (cough five) years, and there’s /r/shittykickstarters Now, let me say, most of the posts on this subreddit are legitimately bad campaigns - which are either unfeasible, physically impossible or in some other way questionable (e.g. rebrands of products available from contract manufacturers). But sometimes, those redditors are a bit too ready to take up their pitchfork Take this one, Aurora Nutrio ...

April 18, 2021 · 2729 words · naxxfish

Sustainability: An affordable future?

I found myself looking for a better option for tying my hair up in a ponytail. It’s something I’ve been doing for over a decade, and isn’t likely to change soon. But the ties I’ve been buying keep breaking - it doesn’t matter what I do, they just get looser and looser until they don’t hold my hair properly, and then they snap. So I started looking for reusable, robust products designed to fulfil this purpose, and I came across these hair ties from Tabitha Eve. They come in a pack of 5, and their RRP is £10 (although they’re on sale for £6 currently). The ones I get normally are about £3 for a pack of 18 from Superdrug. This prompted a train of thought - as much as I support sustainable and ethical consumerism - is the hope that one day all consumers will be ethical consumers completely detatched from reality? ...

March 1, 2021 · 1780 words · naxxfish