Spacetime

I got married late in the third quarter of 2006, but this isn't about anniversaries, family, lazing about in a tropical paradise, no; it's about technology. Again.

I gave away a phone; I don't recall whether it was before or after my wedding, I just know when I got married I no longer had it as a daily driver, and I know what I replaced the phone with.

The chronology of all this isn't particularly important.

What is, is the fact that around 9 or 10 years after I stopped using the device, the lucky recipient sent his first SMS. Not first on that phone, but first ever.

Last week.

I'm someone who believes it's an absolute necessity to be always connected to the Internet, or at least a mobile network. Always able to communicate with family, friends, people who can do jobs for me, my girls' school, etc.; so it's not an overstatement mentioning it was quite the revelation.

A life without convenience.

I don't intend to change the way I approach my current state-of-the-art portable computing device on the strength of this new understanding of our modern life, but it's an interesting concept. A life without alerts, without beeps and blurps and bloops; it sounds relaxing.

But could I cope?

I'll probably never find out, not unless the power and phone grid fails.

Technology

The mists of time have of course dulled the memory, but it was the early nineteen seventies, was probably a very early, very basic, very Casio pocket calculator (replacing a slide rule) that started me off down the road to…

I'm pretty certain my dad bought the thing whilst we were on our annual 2-week holiday, somewhere on the south coast of England. It was awesome, it was perfect with its green LED display. It just worked. Little did I know at the time where it would lead me…

To live in an age of such rapid technological advancement is a constant source of wonder for me. Though the transistor predates me by a significant number of years, the miniaturisation it enabled brought possibilities unimaginable a few years earlier.

My dad was an electronics hobbyist; his life spanned the time after the creation of the first thermionic valve devices, through the transistor revolution, through amateur radio enthusiasm, right up to the home and business computer boom.

He might have viewed younger generations' disdain for learning about the technology which makes things 'just work' and their 'need' for the newest, fastest, best devices their parents (or disposable income) can buy. He wasn't, as far as I can recall, an old curmudgeon, he simply liked to get his hands dirty.

So do I, to a point; but I'm as guilty as the next child in wanting 'improvements.'

I did my bit in the nineteen-eighties though. Computer hobbyist! My third computer had a rich collection of programming languages available, and so I used most. It had analogue/digital interfaces, and those briefly opened up a whole new world to me.

I typed magazine program listings 'in', fixed the typos introduced by the technologically-illiterate publishers, and adapted the knowledge I gained to create even better routines.

Heck, I even flowcharted my programs!

I designed and built a digital joystick (microswitches) and, from rotary potentiometers and microswitches, an analogue joystick and a baseboard-mounted 2-arm graphics tablet. I wrote software to control what happened onscreen, taking inputs from the…

I messed about with a few variants of BASIC, played with Forth, Pascal, steered around anything to do (with (Lisp's braces)), and even dabbled with 6502 Aasmbly language (a text character Space Invaders clone that ran way too fast to play.)

And then life got in the way, though I did play games during the interludes between life and work. Programming was largely forgotten, consigned to history.

We don't need to create stuff nowadays though; talented developers, designers, creators - they can do it all for us. Pick up a modern computing device - computer, network, tablet, phablet, phone - and stuff is but a quick download away. Life is easy.

Things indeed just work. There's the expectation that they just work, but a very basic lack of understanding of the 'how.' It's fine, I recognise that not everyone had the desire to spend time, is capable of, designing a program to do even the simplest of tasks. Life is easy for a reason - we're standing in the shoulders of giants every time we breathe, it seems.

Ive been blogging - stream-of-consciousness style - of my Raspberry Pi Linux playtime. I started with the intention of creating a niche blogging aid, yet the 'something' that's followed me from the early nineteen-seventies persists still.

I could blog on any number of host platforms, yet I choose to restrict my words to four:

  1. I self-host. This option brings by far the most enjoyment, but it's fraught with unforeseen technical difficulties and the need to slide a learning curve.
  2. I use GitHub Pages. Slightly less complex, though I used the framework the service provided as the base for my self-hosted site.
  3. I use 10Centuries v2. A personal project by Jason Irwin, it saw a fair amount of traction with App.net users, me included, for its simplicity. It's in the process if being superseded.
  4. I recently started to use 10Centuries v4, v2's successor; and would very much like to migrate all my v2 posts there eventually.

10Centuries isn't simply a blogging platform though, there's:

  • Blogging (of course),
  • Podcasting - almost painless,
  • A burgeoning social network (posts are Blurbs, not Tweets.) Until this weekend the network was a limited private beta, everyone followed everyone else, but now it's about to expand - with a limited number of user invites available,
  • Developer access to the 10Cv4 API (application program interface!)

I've already had a brief play with the API; created an app authorisation token, and then an access token to interact with the API before my first 'hello world' post - at which point my head asploded!

It's not every day I'm programming on a computer controlled by the computer on my lap. (SSH is magic, pure and simple.)

I'm not alone attempting to develop stuff. Fortunately everyone else has relevant skills!

For its freshness, newness, openness and all-round friendliness I can easily recommend 10Cv4. It's a place that both promises and delivers on the promise that App.net emerged with and, to a degree, still retains.

Owning your data, no ads, no sophisticated algorithms to re-order posts in what often seems like a totally random manner elsewhere - all powerful draws. It worked for me.

The 'paint is still drying' on a few features, some are in a state of rapid development and heck, some aren't even implemented yet! But there'll be nothing obvious getting in your way.

If you're like me and simply want to chat about 'stuff', have no message to spread, no desire to attract legions of followers just for the sake of numbers, then 10Cv4 is for you.

If you're dissatisfied with the state of your social network (or 'social' in general) and want a change, a fresh start perhaps, and would welcome my invite, let me know!

Don't expect me to be there all the time, or be a social network evangelist though, I'm spreading myself too thinly as it is! Neglecting you on more than one network is weighing heavily.

But I'm having fun and that, for me, just works.

Maths

Not maths as such, more precisely pseudomaths:

endhour == 23
starthour == 7
uploadpayload == 24
dayspermonth == 30

bandwidthused == (( endhour - starthour ) - 1 ) * uploadpayload * dayspermonth

bandwidthused = Oopsie!

Miscalculating the amount of data I was uploading to my web host would have totalled 6 times my monthly bandwidth allowance. As it happens it was lucky I caught it early; the 24MB included an early version of the entire folder contents I expected to upload - off by three times my expectation!

Felling silly.

Fixed? Well, I temporarily stopped the uploads prior to changing the routine to run every 3 hours - which may still exceed the allocation but I'm betting on…

I hope I can figure out how to transfer only changes to my site repo. I'll really need to closely monitor my sh\*t.

Shi(f)t

During November 2015 I decided to start a daily journal - an activity which soon changed into an almost-daily series of blog posts. During the time since I've noticed a shift in the way I approach social media. I'm not sure I like it.

The blogging exercise quickly morphed into a need to create a test site, added to GitHub.com in parallel to my main 10Centuries blog account. I've also been experimenting with rudimentary self-hosting.

As this has happened I've been neglecting both my blog and those people who comment on the posts. I've not even been keeping up with the shiny new 10Centuries.org after my initial flurry of (hopefully constructive) fault reporting during the early private beta stage.

So it's time for a rethink.

Sure it may be the time of year at fault; I'm not alone in noticing a realignment of priorities away from social media. But this time around I'm analysing in a bit more depth.

So…

Rather than concentrate on 'self' I think it's time I looked at others' blogs. It's only fair.

I've quite a backlog of posts in my RSS feed reader. Time to read, folks.

If you have a blog of your own please let me know, if I have or if I haven't already got it queued up I'll take a look!

Thanks!

Twentynine

February 29 (Wikipedia) is a date that appears only during years divisible by 4 (with an integer remainder!) - apart from those divisible by 100 (but not 400) no, don't stop reading…

There are a lot of interesting notable dates, people and legal facts mentioned on the Wikipedia page, so it's quite a scroll to get to…

In this modern age Bachelor's Day doesn't retain the same importance it once had. But if you're on the edge of popping the question to the subject of your undying love, it's a heck of a day to do it.

Gloves on standby!

Testy2

Finally, we have liftoff! A week-and-a-half in, and I've managed to configure a £30 computer and create a functional pair of shell scripts to post blithering idiocy to my test site/blog.

Streamlining it all to improve security, to post only changed files within the site, and to have the computer run connected only to power & the local network are my next goals.

Achievable.

Testy

I'm annoyed that it's still not working. My blog post build thing.

This is indeed a test post; thanks for your patience at this time.

Insomnia

I've been asleep, honest! Knowing there would be a solution to my Raspberry Pi automation woes I started to search around 2am.

Google and Stackoverflow.com are pretty handy at this time of night; 'rvm installation not working: "RVM is not a function".

It turns out that all I needed to obviate my need to run the scripts in a login shell was to copy the second line of code from ~/.bash_profile to ~/.bashrc.

Thankyou Haris Krajina!

No, I'm not going to wait up.

Anticipation

Apologies for my absence from everywhere social for the last week. I haz bean programin stuf!!!2!¡

The 2 shell scripts to take my GitHub blog repo and throw it up at my Web host now work. Automagically. I'm amazed!

Next step: think of something to write, post it at GitHub, and see if I'm full of hot air or not.

Currently the most recent post at git.bt3.com is 'Engineer', which is preceded by 'Nerdity'.

Midnight UK time should prove something - this post should be up round about that time.

Engineer

A small number of us wear similar sweaters for work - similar in that they're self-coloured and pleasantly form-fitting. Ok, in my case it's because they've shrunk in the wash... (but that's the subject of a previous, uncomfortable-for-me, blog entry here.)

Yesterday a slightly awkward exchange occurred at the coffee machine, one which I felt an urge to follow up by email. I'd had a brilliant idea - a Eureka moment (but without the nudity and attendant spillages.) Here's the brief exchange:

"As an engineer I’m bound by a code of professional conduct to suggest a solution to the jumper hue issue; a daily palette based on the colours of the rainbow. In ascending frequency order, and by day.
>
> Unfortunately though, my purple one today falls outside the rigid boundaries of the, it must be said, unfortunately limited scheme. Your flagrant Thursday jumper today merits a red card I’m afraid, though I’m sure you could carry the visible spectrum off better than I were you to try harder.
>
> I’d better start work on version 2.0.
>
> Baz."

The reply came a little later. I'd honestly not expected one.

"Hi Barrie,
>
> Thank you so much for your email. Well, what can I say? I’m disappointed with myself that I have got off to a bad start on the first day of the week, but I do feel that I need to correct you on something. Your jumper hue is not purple. I do believe it’s a wine/beetroot shade, but definitely not purple.
>
> Whilst I appreciate and do accept the card, I can’t accept a red one. Red is just not my colour. I don’t do red and that’s that. Red is not good for us gingers, I’m afraid and as I am too bound by a professional code of conduct as a ginger, you will simply have to come up with another colour.
>
> I eagerly await your palette…
>
> Have a nice day,"

Me, speechless, though not apoplectically-so:

"\Baz stills sense of outrage, stands^H^H^H^H^H^H sits corrected, starts work on v2.0.1\"

The conciliatory response came an agonising-for-me 50 minutes later:

"I must say that the beetroot/wine colour does suit you though. A warm colour for these Wintery times. I would even go as far to say that it’s perhaps a burgundy. There’s not many who can carry such a shade off."

Awesome. And, with that, order in my universe was restored.

Which was nice.

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