Since 2010

Dell XPS 13 9350

Wednesday 14 September 2016

I was recently in the market for a new work laptop, and pretty quickly decided that a Dell XPS 13 was the one for me, coupled with Dell’s WD15 dock. I’m an Apple guy and therefore find the process of buying Windows hardware appalling, but my career revolves around Microsoft enterprises and Windows applications. I’ve tried to fight it and it’s not worth it.

Anyway, I needed something portable and, well, not cheap or plasticy. That immediately ruled out almost all of the laptops out there. Price-point was about A$2000, and The Verge were raving about the Dell XPS 13, so here we are.

As I say, the process of actually ordering the thing from Dell was a mess, but it arrived quickly and it is a very nice piece of hardware. It’s a pity Dell don’t apply the same level of fit-and-finish to all their machines, but if people are willing to buy flimsy short-lived crappy hardware then Dell are going to keep making it.

For various reasons, one of the first things I did with the XPS 13 was reinstall Windows 10 from bare-metal up. I assumed that downloading the drivers from Dell and installing them one-by-one would be the proper way to get things going once Windows was installed, but I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t do that. I had countless problems with displays and ports and audio when I did that, not to mention a metric buttload of Dell applications running at startup.

It turns out that all Windows 10 needs is a driver for the SSD when in the default RAID mode (Dell call this the “Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver”), and a driver to get the thing online (“Dell Wireless 1820A WiFi Driver”). Everything else will be dealt with by Windows Update. Obviously it takes time for Microsoft to acquire the right drivers and make them available via Windows Update, but at the time of writing the following process works a treat:

  1. Create a bootable Windows 10 installation USB drive
  2. Download the “Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver” package from Dell and extract to the USB drive used above
  3. During installation of Windows 10, and at the disk partitioning stage, browse to those drivers
  4. After installation, install the “Dell Wireless 1820A WiFi Driver”
  5. Let Windows Update install all other drivers

The Fidget Cube

Friday 9 September 2016

The Fidget Cube on Kickstarter. Backed the moment I found out about it! I can’t sit at a desk and not have something in my hands - a pen, a cable, a piece of paper to fold and unfold…

Ian's Shoelace Site

Wednesday 27 July 2016

Under the category of how-would-we-have-found-this-out-before-the-internet, I bring you Ian’s Shoelace Site.

I replaced the laces on a pair of my shoes a couple of weeks back, and I’ve been constantly retying the damned things ever since. It turns out I’ve been tying my shoelaces wrong for the best part of 30 years!

Not only that, but I’ve been lacing them up wrongly in the first place as well!

Honestly, this site is amazing. The guy’s got everything - illustrations, recommendations, rankings, FAQs… There’s a lesson about questioning the mundane everyday things to be learnt here as well I reckon.

I’m off to try and break 30 years of muscle-memory.

A good project manager

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Daniel Kaplan at Sleep Easy Software, a relatively new addition to my RSS service, but already one of my favourites:

In these PM to Dev communications, it is extremely important that the developers are told why they are being asked to work on these use cases. With that information in hand, they can suggest better ways of approaching the problem and have a better chance of reading between the lines correctly when they have to make a technical decision that the PM won’t be able to answer.

Coding As a Career Isn't Right for Me

Saturday 21 May 2016

A chap called Tom Reece at

Now my day to day is filled with process. We must break our deliverables into 2 week chunks so that the stakeholders can see our progress and know that we’ll deliver on time. But it’s not on time. Everything must be tested. But it still has bugs. Everything must have thorough documentation. But it quickly gets out of date and we never read it. Ready to release it to the world? You have to submit a Change Request Form and ask someone else, some magical Oz behind a curtain, permission to do that.