Alex Armstrong

A putter togetherer of words & code

6 February 2016 • 22 min read

Doubt and determination

Arrival On the morning of February 2 of this year, I shut down my laptop and left my flat with a rucksack that contained a few clothes and toiletries, but was primarily laden with pillows and blankets. Looking like an off-season backpacker, I made my way to Euboea, an island off…

8 January 2016 • 6 min read

A year of blogging

It’s traditional at this time for bloggers to take a look back over the year and give an account of their blogging misadventures. This week also marks the first anniversary of this blog. It hasn’t gone too badly, as far as ill-conceived endeavours go. How it started I’ve…

1 January 2016 • 3 min read

Beginnings

If you’re worried about making a mess of things, you probably will. But then, a mess is the process by which things get made. The perfect thing — if that is what you aspire to — is a sleight-of-hand. The trick is to hide the effort that went into making it, not in making it…

31 December 2015 • 5 min read

The end of time

Marc Bloch, an influential French historian of the 20th century, was a proponent of la longue durée 1. His idea was to approach the study of history not through this particular life or that defining event, but by looking at the lumbering operations of long-term political, social…

13 December 2015 • 8 min read

Practising writing

A few weeks ago Jonathan Poritsky wrote one of those motivational posts about writing that seem addressed less to their readers and more to the writer’s own self. Many bloggers put up such posts, especially after a dry spell, to try and rustle up the magic writing juice habit —…

21 November 2015 • 2 min read

Perfectionism

I have said that I am perfectionist about my writing to avoid adding more noise to the internet. But the other day I realized that for me the “signal vs noise” argument is just a comforting deception. Because: Nobody cares about my signal. My blog’s daily readership is…

15 November 2015 • 5 min read

The carousels of compromise

A couple years ago the Head of User Experience at the library of a large public university was showing off to me their new responsive website1. The design was rough around the edges, but the site as a whole was thoughtfully put together. “What about that?” I asked, pointing to…

31 October 2015 • 5 min read

In defence of three things

We are figures in a fable, and it is only right that we recall that in fables, the number three is first above all others. Jorge Luis Borges1 Dave Ellis’ article All Websites Look the Same keeps coming up. Published earlier this year, not a week goes by without coming…

A photo of the Wu Tang Clan logo graffitied on a wall in Brighton. Next to is written: 'RZA changed my life'.

17 October 2015 • 6 min read

Wu Tang who?

Every once in a while I’ll try to get into a unfamiliar genre of music. Most recently it was rap. I’ve listened to the odd album, but the genre as a whole has resisted my attempts to penetrate it. This time I decided to go for the highest rated album on RYM, which happens to be…

6 September 2015 • 5 min read

Overappreciate

In one of his talks, the American Buddhist teacher Gil Fronsdal wryly observes: Most people do not appreciate as much as there is to appreciate in their lives. There’s much more to appreciate than most people realize. Very occasionally, I meet people that appreciate too…