Category: Blog

  • SuccessWhale.com Discontinued as of Today

    As far as I know, SuccessWhale is not being actively used by anyone any more, so I have chosen not to renew the domain name successwhale.com when it expires today. Like most of my past web-based projects, it will continue to live on at an onlydreaming.net subdomain, in this case sw.onlydreaming.net, but will not be actively maintained there.  As well as its graphical web interface, SuccessWhale also has a back-end API that used to run on a SuccessWhale subdomain. This has now moved to https://successwhale-api.herokuapp.com/. The OnoSendai Android client already uses this address for the API as of update 479, so you may need to update.

    Thank you to all the SuccessWhale users over the years!

  • Automating the Roast Dinner Timing Chart

    Against all my expectations, the most popular page on this website (at least, the most visited) turns out to be “The Great Roast Dinner Timing Chart”, which was my attempt to help newbies at the revered British art of the Roast Dinner get their timings right. I first posted it over eight years ago—in the intervening time I have cooked a lot of roasts and tweaked my timings a bit, so it was in need of an update.

    I’ve also cooked roast dinners to serve at all sorts of different times, with variations on the ingredients, so I thought the old list to cook certain things for a fixed 7pm dishing-up time could use some improvements too. To that end, I’ve converted it from a static list to an automatically generated one that users can play with. Visitors to the page can now choose their meat and its weight, the accompaniments and the serving time, and the page will do some JavaScript magic to generate a chart just for them.

  • Coolest Robot of the Day

    Today in Cool Robot News: A team at Harvard University have developed their tiny RoboBee so that it is equally at home in water and in air. No mean feat by itself, but check out the way it crosses that tricky barrier between water and air: it splits water into oxygen and hydrogen to create buoyancy, then once its wings are clear of the surface it ignites the mixture to push it off into flight. Check this out!

  • Migrating from Jekyll to WordPress

    The final, and most difficult, part of the plan to wind down some of the more complex stuff I do on the internet was the migration of this site from Jekyll and Hashover to WordPress. It’s a decision I took with some trepidation, as I well remember ditching my old WordPress site for Jekyll (via Octopress) four years ago and enjoying the speed and security it brought.

    However, the workflow is what killed it. The typical “By the Numbers” film review is a shared activity with friends around the TV, which doesn’t lend itself to being sat at a desk at the only computer of mine that can reasonably compile the Jekyll site. I switched to hosting the site on GitHub pages and just editing the pages myself in a browser window, but uploading and linking images was still a multiple step, non-WYSIWYG game of making sure the URLs are all right, followed by a 3-minute compile stage where everyone is waiting to read the finished article and I have to explain why.

  • The Apocalypse comes to Weymouth

    In the shadow of Hurricane Ophelia, Saharan dust and smoke from Iberian wildfires has been blown towards the UK, resulting in eerie orange skies across the country. I took this photo looking across Portland Harbour into the dim orange sunlight this morning. No filter required!

  • Proper Emmets

    In contrast to two years ago, this year’s holiday was mercifully free of stifling nights and sweltering days. This year we stayed in a caravan by the sea in Cornwall, a much more relaxed (and cheaper!) affair. Since we live by the sea anyway, a seaside beach holiday wasn’t high on my list of priorities, and in truth grey skies and cold winds prevented any sunbathing opportunities. Instead we did proper grockle emmet stuff, touring some of the county’s attractions.

    Lost Summer

  • Adventures in Belgium

    Freshly back from a work trip to Bremen at the end of May, they sent me off again for two weeks in Belgium at the start of June, to the exciting seaside destination that is Zeebruges—a town famous for its commercial port, its 1980s ferry disaster, and very little else. By and large our days there were long and consisted of “hotel, naval base, pub, hotel, repeat”, but the event turned out a great success.

    Most of my photos are singularly unexciting shots of grey boats trundling up and down in straight lines. But this one below I’m particularly fond of, not for its exciting subject matter (not so) or composition (likewise), but simply because it’s the most Photoshopped-looking photo I’ve ever taken.

  • This Week’s Helpful Advice: Don’t Help the Poor?

    Our local newspaper, the Bournemouth Echo (beware of annoying ads & trackers), is as ever a font of useful advice. This week it comes from the police, who are letting us know that helping the poor is a bad thing. Now I’m not too upset with the usual idea trotted out, of offering food and drink to beggars instead of money lest they spend the money on booze and drugs. But apparently even that is now discouraged.

    Extract from linked Bournemouth Echo page

  • Anxiety!

    This isn’t a particularly easy post to write, but with it being Mental Health Awareness Week (at least, it is in America), I thought I’d give it a go anyway.

    Mental Health, particularly my own, isn’t something I talk about much. I have family and friends with much more serious problems than mine, like Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and they’re likely to be taking medicine to counteract the worst effects of those conditions for the rest of their lives. Not only do I have to be mentally strong enough to sort my own life out, sometimes I need to care for them too.

  • A Quick Change of Comment System

    One of the reasons why I’ve recently been simplifying the number of things I run on the web is the difficulty of it all—not that I’m incapable of running mail servers and Minecraft servers and a dozen websites, but that I can achieve 99% of the benefit with only 10% of the effort by using other services instead.

    One of those changes I made was to ditch the Juvia comments system for my blog and replace it with the 3rd-party Disqus. Juvia is unmaintained—in fact, despite being a Ruby on Rails beginner, several of the most recent commits on the project are mine—and having to fight with Passenger and Rails and RVM every time the server felt like updating a package took its toll.