Week 35

What happened this week?

I did some work. Made some stuff faster – the latency graphs of Datadog continue to be satisfying. Had another outage, which was caused entirely by my ignoring the database server disk running out of space.

I cut my hair – almost almost cut my hair, like David Crosby or something, but then actually cut my hair – which I mention only because it’s somehow useful for me to be able to check back to see how long I’ve gone between haircuts.


Am I a liberal? Actually, some of my views are really quite extreme. Nationalising part of BT seems fair enough – I’ve mentioned here before the van-driving technicians, with their little folding stools, who spraypaint interrobangs on the road. As there were no topical satire programmes programmes broadcast on TV this Friday, maybe there’s still time to be the first to pretend to wonder what this means for the actors from off of the television adverts, ha ha ha – Kris Marshall stopped appearing in them in 2011, but I suppose that’s still a sort of joke they could say on the Now Show.


It’s nice that there’s now a good Apple laptop again. I’ve only listened to one (1) podcast about it, because come on.

I have one of the last good ones. It went through a phase of getting unaccountably warm and kernel panicking, and of course there was last week’s MagSafe realated injury, but my position has long remained that you’ll have to prise it from my cold dead hands. It hasn’t badly disgraced itself for a while – as if it’s conscious of the now credible threat of being replaced – so that remains my position. If circumstances change and I have to start using Slack (the famously computationally intensive messaging product) again, I expect that to change.


I received another free pair of socks. (Identical to, and from the same source as one of the pairs from last month.) Extraordinary.

Week 34

What happened this week?

Barefooted, I started to step on a MagSafe connector, which is not as bad as a Lego brick or a three-pin plug but still not very nice to step on, so I sacrificially fell over, arse about tit (“fell down”, “ate shit” for North American readers) to avoid hurting my foot. I was quite sweaty for a bit – an adrenaline rush – who needs skydiving? – and now I have a bruised knee like some kind of small child.

I also have a bit of a cold. Woe unto me.

I did some work. Made some graphs using D3.js, which passed the time, before deciding that I didn’t need the graphs, but maybe the real graphs were the friends we made along the way.

The general election campaign is happening. Hoping to find out about the local candidates, I found myself looking at a local newspaper website, where mainly I learned that Phil off EastEnders (Steve off Coldwar Steve) had been to a local seaside chip shop, and was reminded about the trope of seemingly deliberately vague headlines, e.g. “Bin bags of cannabis fly-tipped in village” – of course you click to find out which village it is, and are disappointed when it’s one in a faraway part of the region, but I suppose it all helps to add pence to the advertising revenue and delay the struggling media organisations’ descent into financial ruin. Never mind – one of the candidates got cancelled for something terrible he said in the past, which made the national news.

Next week, I’d like to make more things happen to me.

Week 33

Week 32

Week 31

Monday: the Queen’s Speech. Lots of the media suddenly using the word “flummery”, as if that’s a normal word people use. There’s some evidence that that usage isn’t completely new, including a 1998 letter about Her Maj’s Gracious Address, so fair enough I suppose. Wikipedia is mostly concerned with various kinds of stodgy pudding called flummery, but also asserts boldly: “The word has also been used […] as a minced oath in certain online social groups.” Which social groups?


The shower head had become clogged, such that the jets of water jetted out of it in all different directions. Taking it apart and just rinsing it in water got rid of a surprising amount of deposits, and now, after a soak in distilled malt vinegar, the spurts all go in one direction – brilliant – but they also seem a bit wimpy and flaccid. Is this because the holes are bigger? Is that how water pressure works? Hmm.


Some work. I deployed all of the big and grand new stuff I’ve written so far. Last week, I finished my stuff that converts timetable data from ATCO-CIF and TransXChange formats (for Northern Ireland and Great Britain respectively) into a nice consistent GTFS-ish structure in the database. Now, I have some timetables, all lists of departures, and other things using that database – previously, they used all different weird shit. I was slightly concerned that the new departure lists were much slower, but that was solved by fiddling until the Django database-abstraction API produced some SQL more closely resembling what I’d write if I were writing the SQL myself. Cool story.


Richard Osman’s House of Games is an entertaining television programme. Perhaps having seen or heard some contestant or other mention being tired after recording a week of programmes, I imagined some gruelling physical challenges, but the titular games are in fact all cerebral. Lots of the back catalogue has been uploaded to YouTube (in a high quality fashion) by a pirate, which is nice.

I also caught up with Osman’s The Birthday Game podcast, another gentle parlour game where three mostly comedians guess the ages of names from the week’s “today’s birthdays” lists. I’m slightly concerned that a contestant could cheat (in the way that revising for anything is cheating) by consulting something like Wikipedia’s days of the year category beforehand, but perhaps the producers prevent this by recording weeks in advance and not telling contestants which week their episode will be released (i.e. which week of celebrity birthdays to memorise).

Week 30

One day this week, I received a free pair of socks. The next day, I received another, completely unrelated free pair of socks. Quite remarkable, and to think I’ve always had to buy socks before now. Is this what it’s like to be an influencer? Everything else that happened this week seems rather dull by comparison.

I did some work. Got down to fewer than 200 pending vehicle edits. And then I spent a little time focusing on my big and grand rewriting of some stuff, and then suddenly there were hundreds more edits waiting for me to check. Which is a wonderful problem to have, and I’m very grateful to the enthusiastic fellows. It’s just that there are so many buses and coaches.

The approval process is necessary, because some joker keeps marking some buses as ice cream vans, and I don’t always agree with the punctuation choices of even well-meaning enthusiastic fellows. I could make my job easier by letting people log in, or recording people’s IP addresses, allowing me to identify trustworthy people’s user accounts or IP addresses, but … GDPR.

The big and grand project is all bleeding coming together. I’ve deployed a bit of the new stuff, which caused just the right amount of brokenness (enough to provide me with some learnings, but no more than my users are accustomed to), and helped me to fix a problem involving certain places (e.g. Whitley Bay) where, like the Bermuda Triangle (actually more like the Mapimí Silent Zone) buses would vanish from the map.

Against all advice, I installed macOS Catalina, which is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯:

Still watching The Simpsons, which is still great. Managed only a bit of Danny Dyer gameshow The Wall – Dyer is, of course, tremendous, but, ugh, the contestants are all members of the public, and aren’t the public dire? With their dowdy faces and skin and hair and clothes. Ugh.

Week 29

What happened this week?

I did some work. Sorry if this is overly technical, but I’m changing some stuff to make it less shit, which feels like a rather big and grand job. It’s necessary to force myself not to make it too much better in one go, so that I can replace the old shit with the new shit more gradually. If I get ahead of myself, it could become too much like replacing the engines of an aeroplane in midflight. (It’s nothing like that. It’s just a website.)

Some bicycling around. Took some poor photographs of buses, which were made up for by the chance to record some benches, and the pleasantness of bicycling around. Today it has rained prolongedly, and roads have flooded in several places, and what fun it was to splash through puddles ten or so centimetres deep. I saw some ducks.

I’ve been watching The Simpsons, which is terrific fun. The first three series, which I guess were the start of the golden age, are on the likes of iTunes. When Walter Disney’s streaming service launches, apparently it will have every episode ever, so maybe I’ll be persuaded to pay Walter Disney some money for that. (Also this week, I enjoyed this bit of Winnie-the-Pooh, but amazing as it is I’m not sure one would want to sit through a whole film or programme.)

Stewart Lee appeared on the Book Shambles podcast, which is my cultural highlight of the week. They mention the William Blake exhibition, which constitutes a helpful reminder to go and see it. We have until the start of February.

Week 28

1 Second Everyday is a nice thing. You record one second of video every day – to be precise, usually a longer length, which you then trim to a second – and stitch the everyday seconds together to make a video. I feel like the egg, bacon, chips and beans dude is to blame for my finding out about it, several years ago – aren’t blogs great?

I’m sure I’ve posted these videos here before. The app allows up to two “seconds” per day, each second being up to three seconds long, which must have traditionalists spinning in their graves, but still there are days (like Friday) when you’ll point a camera at some cows, a tractor and some dramatic weather (I’m effectively a small child) all in one day, and how are you supposed to choose just two of those?

“Aren’t blogs great?” reminds me: NetNewsWire 5 is good for reading RSS feeds on Apple Macintoshes – so good that I’ve abandoned NewsBlur in favour of Feedbin (which for the time being is the only supported sync service). I unsubscribed from a few feeds when I made the switch (not sure I should be encouraging this trend), and wasted whole minutes of my life by not realising how much much easier it is to unsubscribe via NetNewsWire (just select the feed(s) that no longer spark joy and press the backspace key) than using the Feedbin web interface (which is a lovely web interface, but still a web interface).

But what happened this week? It was a gusty and wet, such that an an electrical cable became detached from our roof – miraculously, the electricity continued to flow – and some men from the distribution network operator (truly the fifth emergency service) used a series of increasingly big machines (eventually a Unimog) to effect a repair. The weather-enforced indoorsness didn’t make me more productive, but that’s OK – what am I going to to do, fire me?

Week 27

We rejoin the action in Cardiff. I was at a conference, which was lovely in spirit but boring in practice so I absconded at lunchtime and explored a bit. Didn’t see any of the the recognisable buildings from Doctor Who, but I bought some athletes foot ointment from a big Asda and popped into an Ikea that had sold out of meatballs.

Part of the modern condition is collecting apps for all the different bike hire schemes in different places. In Cardiff, it’s nextbike, which I found exceptionally difficult to sign up for. Despite this, it’s seems popular, with frustratingly many empty docking stations – or maybe vandals have vandalised the bikes in frustration at the suboptimal “onboarding” (ugh) process. Anyway, I managed to ride some bicycles, and they were fine.

An unnecessary overnight in London on my way back, where I sampled a Jump electric bicycle. Much easier to get involved with, and I imagine it’s even easier for plutocrats who already have the Uber app on their telephones. Compared to a Lime electric bicycle, the gears are rather low, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

The problem came at the end of my journey, when the app told me I was in a “no-parking zone” and might be fined. There was a map of different zones, and I could see I was at the edge of one, so I diligently headed east. I interacted with some tired and emotional (harmless) locals, and then I was still in a no-parking zone, so I gave up and parked the bike and walked back (west) to my bed.

Now I see there’s a much clearer map of zones, and it turns out I’d gone to all that effort to park in a £25 no-parking zone instead of the more conveniently located £5 no-parking zone. Cool story.

I finally rode on the dangleway. Smugly passed the little queue of tourists outside the ticket office – as I’m sure diamond geezer has observed, it’s cheaper to use an Oyster card or contactless payment, although this isn’t really advertised on any signs – then got egg on my face as my card was rejected by the barrier. It was OK.

I enjoyed Criminal: UK, which stars among others the actor Kevin Eldon and the woman from the Leerdammer advert.

Week 26

What happened this week?

I’ve been to Oxford town (toll the bell, pay the private eye) and had a jolly time and not exploded with rage over the concentration of wealth, power, gold ceilings etc in South England.

Mainly I have some observations about transport. The Great Western Railway’s new Hitachi trains are very pretty, although their seats – both their alignment with the windows and their paddedness – could, as others have observed, be better. At least they’ve fixed the problem where the ventilation system showered passengers with water. The Oxford Bus Company’s Wright StreetDecks are also pretty but slightly rattly, if not so bad that I’ll be pleased by the Ballymena coachbuilder’s imminent demise.

Now I’m in Cardiff for some reason. Spilled a bit of olive oil on the carpet of the “ZIP by Premier Inn” hotel (inn?) room, which I’ve made a fist of mopping up with a copy of the Financial Times – what a story! The room is as advertised – no tiny kettle, bath or view, but I’ve know far less cheap places without the last two features. (Curious that, in my limited experience, only the cheaper hotels have baths. I know “are baths Tory?” is the greatest thread in the history of forums, locked by a moderator after 12,239 pages of heated debate. Perhaps it’s because posher places charge extra for the option.)

I did some work. Splashed out on a “CPU-Optimised” Digital Ocean instance, which has made some CPU-bound things faster – the cheap “Standard” ones are really a bit weak, so I ought to have done this much sooner. But my database indexes keep getting slow and bloated. Cool.