I’m currently learning Catalan and Spanish, and am reminded every day of the languages’ shared ancestor by how often they share similar (or identical) words.

For example, it’s easy to deduce that introducción (in Spanish) means the same as introducció (in Catalan), or that respuesta and resposta are the same thing.

In fact, when you look at the Spanish and Catalan words next to each other, it seems that the same kinds of transformations crop up again and again: consonants becoming repeated, vowels being dropped off the ends of words, stressed vowels changing in predictable ways, …

Of course, the languages are very different and often use completely distinct words, but it got me thinking: how reliably can we guess a Catalan word from a Spanish one, using just a small set of simple transformations?


The first step of my swamp cooler project is to figure out the construction of the evaporative cooling vessel.

I’d like to use an upturned terracotta pot for the vessel itself, with air entering at the bottom, passing up the inside and out the drainage hole at the top.

Unlike the Cold Pot – which pushes air through a dry aluminium sleeve – I’m trying to maximise the surface area of wet terracotta which the incoming air passes over before emerging from the exhaust.


I was just writing some code which parses a URL in order to extract a piece of the path. When working correctly, the code under test takes a URL something like this: http://site.com/.well-known/pki-validation/4b1706977f59ffe3c1ddf282bbee6f45.txt … and returns just the hash-like part of the path: 4b1706977f59ffe3c1ddf282bbee6f45. Creating factories to effectively test it was surprisingly fiddly! Here are the options I considered and what worked for me – in the hope it’s of some use to you.

It has been hot here recently in Catalunya. Like 40°C and forest-fires-covering-our-patio-in-ash hot.

Luckily, the house is traditionally constructed with extremely thick, solid stone walls which means the worst of the heat doesn’t make it inside – so long as we remember to shut the windows. Even so, a little extra help to keep the temperature down during the day would be very welcome.


Much has been written about the deep cultural significance that orderly queueing holds for the Briton. The opportunities it offers to display impeccable manners – and scowl at interlopers – are so rich that I’ve lost count of the number of serious, extended conversations I’ve had about the do’s and don’ts, the Ps and Qs, of waiting for service.

As a programmer, though, it’s also interesting that there are clear parallels between core data structures found in computer science and the approaches to queueing found around the world.

At Teespring we have quarterly hackathons. We all throw suggestions into a melting-pot of ideas in the run-up to the event, with the most promising, most interesting, and most popular suggestions graduating to be hacked upon by a small team for a couple of days.

At the moment – and for the foreseeable future – the power balance of hiring negotiations favours the engineering candidates rather than with the hiring company. One consequence of this is that any attempt to hurry, strong-arm, or manipulate candidates will likely be ineffective, and could potentially backfire horribly.

This is how I became one such backfire.


James Brady

I’m a professional software engineer and an amateur woodworker. I like Ruby, Elixir, hard problems and learning new things with which solve them. I am fascinated by frisbees to the point of it getting a bit weird. I’m learning to speak Catalan. I am mostly vegetarian. That is all.

Oristà: a teeny tiny village in Catalunya