👋🏻 Hi, I’m Chris.

I’m a software engineer and architect.

I believe in

  • Ethical, appropriate and sensible application of big data and AI.
  • Robust, yet pragmatic automated testing (100% test coverage is worthless if it doesn’t do what it was designed to do!).
  • Designing systems that minimise carbon and energy usage during their operational life.
  • Being accountable for the products you build.
  • Empowering users to achieve their goals, rather than mollycoddling them and making decisions for them.

My super powers include systems interface design and domain modelling, particularly for esoteric legacy systems.

I work for Citymapper in the Cities Engineering team, making cities usable.

This ‘blog’ catalogues my various personal analyses and opinions of things that I find interesting, or projects I’ve undertaken.

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.
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Crowdfunding Witch-hunt: Debunking Debunks of Aurora Nutrio

Many moons ago, I was a host on a podcast called The Gadget Crowd.

I’m the guy on the far left, raising my eyebrow

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

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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?

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Pwnage While-U-Wait: Migrating WhatsApp messages between Android and iOS

Recently, I made the (somewhat contraversial) decision to move from Android to iOS. And whilst for the most part this process has been polished to a high sheen by Apple, desperate to make the transition frictionless, there are a few notable gaps.

One of those, is WhatsApp message history - which is not possible to port between OSes. This missing feature has unintentionally spawned a plethora of questionable third party software solutions, and some even more questionable marketing techniques.

In this post, I’m going to explore why the problem exists, why it’s not easily solved, and the “opportunity” that these software providers are exploiting, and perhaps the people too.

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