Alastair’s Place

Software development, Cocoa, Objective-C, life. Stuff like that.


Oh, where to begin…

I’ve been very quiet about all of this; partly for reasons I’ll explain below, partly because I’ve been busy, and partly because, well, it’s just too amazing for words.

Software development is, as has been decried many times, horribly male-dominated. Even more so than engineering in general, and that is pretty male-dominated itself. All of us would love for this not to be the case, but it is, and for the moment at least, however much effort all of us put in to changing the demographics, we have to live with it.

One result of this is that we’re very unlikely to meet anyone at work, and worse, those women we do meet are very probably quite fed up of the unwanted attention they reportedly get from some of our number, are therefore on the defensive from the outset, and in any event are quite probably already spoken for.

Anyway, the upshot is that a fair number of us end up on online dating sites. In my case, the first one I tried was, but came to the conclusion that it’s basically a rip-off; yes, I had a few actual dates, and even an actual relationship, but even using the site makes my skin crawl… sharp practice doesn’t even begin to describe the way and others treat their customers. In many cases you won’t get replies to your messages for the simple fact that the person you sent it to hasn’t paid to be able to send e-mail. That’s right, both parties have to pony up in order to get a response. Either that, or you can buy the right to get replies from people who haven’t paid up, but that, as you might imagine, tends to be an expensive extra. To my mind, the sector needs regulations to protect customers from this kind of thing; if you pay to send messages, it should include the right to receive replies, end of story. Anything else is bilking the customer.

On Twitter, I’d heard about another dating site, OkCupid, which doesn’t force you to part with large sums of money before you can contact one another and which treats its members more reasonably. Obviously, since it’s free, it’s ad-funded (i.e. you are the product), though you have the option to pay to disable the ads if you find them objectionable. I should say, since I’m singing their praises somewhat, that OkCupid has since been bought by, which may or may not have had an impact. It did result in the post about paid online dating that I linked above being removed although OkCupid insisted that that was because it wasn’t accurate, rather than being instigated by

So, around the end of last year, I had an e-mail on OkCupid from Jo, to which I replied asking if she’d like to go out for a meal with me at the excellent La Regatta in Southampton. Very convenient as she was living on the Isle of Wight at the time, and it’s right opposite the ferry terminal. Owing to the bad weather, we postponed our date until the New Year, but it’s something of an understatement to say we got along like a house on fire; we basically forgot to eat, we were so busy chattering. Our second date wasn’t really much different, though we did actually manage to eat something! I really don’t have the words to describe how much I love Jo; she’s the best friend I’ve ever had, the most wonderful company, and I don’t know now what I’d do without her.

Anyway, a couple of months later, I proposed, and she accepted.

So the first piece of news (to readers of my blog) is that I’m getting married, next July.

The second piece of news — in some ways even more amazing — is that Jo and I should be having our first child some time over the next couple of weeks. We’re both over the moon about this (Jo especially, as she wasn’t sure it was possible), and hopefully there will be another blog post soon enough to welcome a new life into the world.

(In an ideal world, I would have preferred to do this the other way around, but when I met Jo at the start of this year, she was separated but not yet divorced. This is also why I haven’t mentioned anything up to now — neither of us wanted to do anything that might upset the divorce proceedings.)

Jo, if you’re reading this, I love you so much.