Category: Blog

  • 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.

  • Farewell to Facebook

    My blogging history has not been lacking in posts where I consider deleting my Facebook profile. It’s been a common thread throughout that time that Facebook has its advantages (having become my sole practical means of contacting many old friends) and disadvantages (that it is a privacy-devouring monster). In the main, we have been willing to make a deal with the Devil in order to use the vast network of communication possibilities it opens up for us.

    After holding a Facebook account for 10 years, and apparently struggling with whether that was a good thing for at least six of them, today I deactivated my account—a temporary measure to see how it goes, before a potential full deletion in the near future.

  • Planning the Wind-Down

    It’s been five years now since, full of enthusiasm and convinced that SuccessWhale might make it big, I bought myself a server in London somewhere, and moved my web presence over from its previous shared hosting.

    I’ve learnt a lot in those years.