# I'm up early because the supermarket changed our delivery slot and "on this day" reminds me that it's now been over four years since I last posted to Twitter; almost three since I finally deleted my account.

I've hemmed and hawed over the years about whether I'd want to go back but that I haven't tells me all I need to know: I don't miss it.

# I updated my phone to Samsung's One UI 3.0 running on Android 11 last night. My carrier is notoriously slow at approving updates so, as I have done numerous times, I downloaded the base UK firmware.

Because I'm impatient.

My overall impression is... meh!

Yes, there have been tweaks across the board but nothing that makes you think "wow!" It is very much evolutionary (slow at that) rather than revolutionary.

I know iOS and Android are in very different places in their development but you look at the changes in iOS 14 and wish for something to shake up Android. What? I don't know what could give such a wow factor although widgets could definitely use some work. Apple may have been late to the game on that front but definitely showed how to play.

# Jay recently wrote about spending/wasting too much time on his phone and "shaming yourself" into better behaviour. It's an ongoing debate but one that doesn't take all factors into account.

I used to go to great lengths to reduce my phone usage (greyscale, a minimal launcher, hiding icons, etc.) but the reality is that a lot of my good ideas happen there.

The fact is that I'm more of an edge case: I don't play mobile games and, obviously, don't have any social apps installed. I do relatively little web browsing and spend most of my time reading RSS feeds, some ebooks, blogging or coding - with the right app a phone can be a very capable environment.

The debate focuses on the unhealthy use of phones but, by removing the distractions and bad actors, they can become creative outlets. Without my phone I'd be using my MacBook more but the phone is more immediate and accessible.

I gave up worrying about all this a while back.

# Every two weeks or so during Covid we have had a video call with our departmental head so that he can fill us in on what's happening, get presentations from his leadership team (and others) and have a Q&A.

This week's meeting (Wednesday) was a bit different. In order to promote colleague wellbeing we were all given the hour back to step away and do something relaxing, something for us.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of our role, my team can't all just up and leave for an hour. We thought we would miss out but our manager decided to move it to today so everyone's shift is reduced by an hour.

As I'm on the late shift I now don't start until 11:30 so am taking the opportunity to have a long soak in a hot bath, something I've only done once in the five months since we moved.

Good for the mind, body and soul.

04/12/2020, 07:25

# Happy anniversary to Amy (our eldest daughter) and Marcus. Hope you have a great day. Hard to believe it's been 4 years already.

# I stayed up way too late but think I've got everything sorted for better handling section links should I insert new pieces or even re-order them.

It's meant rebuilding the homepage and constructing the post manually using the post sections rather than using the loop and the_content(). Similar changes had to be made to the live and daily RSS feeds so that they all matched.

The process is as follows:

  • get the full post content and split it at section markers
  • get the latest section number for today from the database
  • check if each section exists in the database: if no, write entry and assign next sequential section number
  • sanitise the section content and add section link based on database entry
  • build the page/feed by combining sections

Because the sections are handled in the order they appear in the post rather than numerically they should always be handled correctly. This means they could be in any order (1,2,5,4,3) but will still have the correct links.

Well, that's the theory.

# Not quite there yet I need to rebuild the single content template along the same lines as that is still working on the old system.

# The single content template has been reworked so all should be good. Now that everything is worked out it's easy to transfer the new style to other pages. Unfortunately, it behaves slightly different in different places or I would be able to just have one file with the new code and include it elsewhere but it's not completely reusable in that sense.

# Truth:

"Blogging is what happens to your writing when you're trying to go in a straight line." Ann Althouse

03/12/2020, 10:49

# Ah, the morning battle with spam email - nothing quite wakes you up like it. I create multiple spam filters which catch some of it but also tweak the threshold on the server in an attempt to find the sweet spot which catches as much as possible without generating false positives. It's a game of cat and mouse where I feel like the Tom to spam's Jerry.

# The more I use the new setup the more I like it. Having a unified posting experience with inline editing and all content filters available across the whole site (both blog and garden) is like a dream.

Love means never having to use wp-admin!

And it's only by really using something that you can make it better; I keep finding little quality of life tweaks to add such as adding a live word count to the blog (just like the garden) so I can keep track while posting.

I have also added a new search filter to pre_get_posts so that those searches conducted within the garden only finds results from those pages. Firstly, I added a hidden field to the search form called 'source' and set the value to garden, then filter the query to only return page that use the garden template:

function SearchFilter($searchquery)
$source = $_GET['source'];
    if ($searchquery->is_search && $source == 'garden' ) {
        $searchquery->set('post_type', 'page');
        $searchquery->set('meta_key', '_wp_page_template');
        $searchquery->set('meta_value', 'garden_template.php');
    return $searchquery;

add_action('pre_get_posts', 'SearchFilter');

Works like a charm.

# Oh, and how could I forget full sorting of the garden home page by modified date including children and grandchildren rather than just parent pages. It's only a small thing but it's a nice touch.

# Check your T's & C's:

There is only one letter difference between “medication” and “meditation.” - Elliston Roshi

# Today should be a watershed: it is the first day out of England's second lockdown and we are back on the tiered system. Still, it makes little difference as far as I am concerned - an excess of caution is still the order of they day. That the UK government has approved the Pfizer Covid vaccine, and the first doses should be available next week, is huge. It will take months for wide-scale distribution so we can't quite see the light at the end of the tunnel but at least we know we are in a tunnel so the light can't be too far away.

# Theoretically, I can insert new sections at any point of a day (maybe I want to continue a thought) and the RSS feed itself will not be impacted. What would happen, however, is that a change in order would mean that the individual permalinks would start pointing to the wrong sections.

When I add a new section I should, therefore, be able to assign it a section number, write that to the database and construct the permalinks based on that. A query would be able to retrieve the latest section number from the database and then increment this for each new section.


# I think I've got a lot of the mechanism in place so this update will be the acid test. If the section number is correctly written to the database and follows sequentially from the previous one then we're in business.

# A number was written to the database, just not the right number. I think it's because I had the instruction in the wrong place. But we're half way there.

02/12/2020, 10:00

# It's a frosty start this morning, looks like we're in for a relatively chilly few days to welcome in December. Wow, December. Almost the end of 2020 - what a year this has been. We'll all be glad to see the back of it and, with the promise of vaccines and the end of political turmoils, 2021 stands to be a marked improvement but it's going to take time for things to settle down.

As I've said on numerous occasions, things won't return to the old normal, they can't, they will always be tainted by the events of this year. The Pandemic will/should forever change how we do things and there are a lot of lessons to be learnt both on a personal and societal level. It's going to take time.

In recent months "build back better" and "The Great Reset" have become prevalent, the idea that we can use the position we find ourselves in now to construct a better future, to rework economies and relationships as it is obvious the current ways don't work for everyone. That's why the phrase "we're all in this together" rankled so much during the UK's first lockdown, still does. Rather than being some kind of leveling event the pandemic has only served to exacerbate inequalities and we will likely not receive a more definite nudge to make changes.

There are those who believe the great reset to be a cover for the institution of a new world order, a move to a more authoritarian society. Lockdowns are seen as the beginnings of controlling the populace on a more longterm basis while the catchy slogans employed during the Covid era are 1984-esque indoctrination.

Whatever happens, things must change, we can't go on as we are and expect everything to be fine. Our economies are not built to factor in global crises and that should have been apparent after the financial crash of 2007-2008. Banking rebuilt itself with new controls and the need to maintain capital reserves but the crash should have been seen for the wider warning it was. Instead, it has taken almost one and a half million deaths for the right conversations to start but, even then, the cynic in me feels that this isn't enough, that until events actually start significantly impacting the daily lives of the "haves" as well as the "have nots" things won't alter.

# Cheri pointed out that duplicates of posts were showing up over at micro.blog, maybe it's something to do with the way the service reads RSS feeds. I've not seen the same behaviour elsewhere (Feedly and NetNewsWire) but it might be something to do with the way dates were being handled. I've made a tweak so will see if that helps.

# It's intentional that edited sections will reappear in the feed (the way I have things set up they are technically new items) but this shouldn't happen for those that haven't been touched. With any luck the issues should now be resolved and I will be able to re-add the live feed to micro.blog.

# Before the recent changes the blog homepage displayed the number of posts for Today with a link to the most recent. With the move to a single, updated post this became redundant - it only displayed when there was more than one post.

To restore the feature I have replaced it with a "section" count, the link going to the last update.

Section count

01/12/2020, 09:58

# I found out last Thursday that I have to cover in the office next week (8th to 10th of December), meaning I have to travel back down south again, and I reacted very badly. Every negative, self-debasing thought conspired to tell me how much of a failure I was that I hadn't yet found another job.

I just broke down, couldn't control myself, and didn't really know why.

We knew it was likely that this was going to happen but I think I had it in my head that I wasn't going to see that office again, that the only reason I would have to travel back was to work on the house ready for sale.

On a positive note, I've got the Monday off to travel down and should be able to travel back on the Thursday evening so that I can work from home on the Friday. It could be worse.

# Even more positive is that our landlord is happy for us to stay in this house. Rather than do an inspection or discuss it I just got a text asking "are you staying?" so she will organise a new contract for January when our current lease expires.

# We're mostly familiar with mobile apps offering mindfulness techniques and guided meditations (Calm, Headspace, et al) but apps offering courses of CBT is a new one on me.

# Tomorrow, I'm going to try to get up a bit earlier to do some more focused writing (or, at least, prep) before work. I need to knuckle down on something I've got on the back burner.

30/11/2020, 11:38

# It's very rare for me to remember my dreams, it's almost as though I hardly dream at all but everybody does. When I do it's usually because they are extremely weird or something grabs me in a certain way.

Last night I dreamt that, among other things, I was in an episode of Doctors, a TV drama series here in the UK, and two quotes struck me. I was lucid enough to think "I must remember these" but, sadly, the first was lost to me on waking.

The second, however, is as follows:

The pen keeps the mind talking,
So that The Darkness stops.

# It's so sad to see that David Prowse, aka Darth Vader, has shuffled off this mortal coil. Vader was an iconic villain but with a redemption story which is what we ultimately long for in story.

I also remember him as the green cross code man from when I was a kid, teaching us how to be safe on the roads.

'Stop, look and listen' - advice we can always use.

# It's annoying me that I can't remember the first phrase from last night's dream. I know it was something profound.

29/11/2020, 09:35

# The moment of truth: the first day with the new blogging setup. The blank page metaphor is complete both for the reader and the writer. It's the culmination of so many changes over the past couple of years.

There's no doubt a lot of tweaks that will need to be made, bugs and glitches to be fixed, but that's part of the fun, part of the journey of discovery.

# As Jay mentions, days here on the blog 'unfold' rather than have any kind of structure or plan. I write whatever comes to me and to hell with consistency. And that's the real beauty of the personal blog.

We are all complicated, multi-faceted beings whose lives are a wonderful, beautiful mess of tangled threads. It often makes no sense to attempt to unravel them, just revel in the juxtaposition.

# I think I've found my first bug causing duplicate entries after adding additional sections to a post.

# Because of the way the content was being split the paragraph tags were being separated between sections. Hopefully that's now sorted.

# The problem of testing something like a revamp of how posting operates and then building a custom RSS feed is that without a development environment it can only be done live, as messy as that can get. It's a good job I can jump into the database itself and clear out the detritus of mutliple attempts at correction.

28/11/2020, 11:26

# Well, things turned out a bit more complicated than originally anticipated because of the way that the content was being parsed. To get it working correctly I've had to use apply_filters() to the content but then add a condition to stop the filter for double @s from being processed in this instance or the explode() doesn't work.

You still with me?

Now I really do think we're there.

27/11/2020, 22:02

# I've had an idea for creating an RSS feed that lists post sections (in my new way of working) as individual posts:

  • explode the full post content at the double @s
  • check if each section exists in custom database entries
  • if yes > ignore
  • if no > add to database with time stamp
  • build custom RSS feed from database

I imagine I'll have to create a new custom table for this to work properly and envisage emptying the table at the end of each day.

In this way I could, of a fashion, handle updated items as they wouldn't (technically) exist in the database and so be republished.

# I've got it working to automatically add new post sections to the custom table. I now just need to cycle through those sections to create a new RSS feed on the fly as I create or update posts.

# If all is well then it should not also create an RSS feed from post sections. This will be available here. Here goes nothing...

I've had to mess around with incrementing timestamps and making sure each item in the feed has a unique URL (even if it ultimately only points back to the day post) but I think I'm about there.

# I think I'll make the switch tomorrow and see how it goes. I can always revert if there are issues.

27/11/2020, 08:58

# Good morning and happy Friday.

It's certainly better than yesterday: I was told that I've got to return to the office between 8th & 10th December so I've got to go back down south for the week. Let's just say I'm not looking forward to it. I'm going to drive in to work - there's no way I'm going to expose myself to the risk of up to 4 hours each day on public transport.

At least that should be the only time I need to cover until in to the new year.

27/11/2020, 07:32

# If you've been paying attention recently you'll have noticed that things have been changing. Take this recent screenshot:

It looks like four posts when it is, in fact, only one divided into sections with each one linkable. So, why do this?

I wrote in the latest muse-letter that I was 'considering taking the "blank slate" metaphor for each day even further', something that has been developing over time - the logical conclusion is for each day to become a single post along similar lines to Dave Winer's scripting.com - Winer uses his own purpose built software creating each day in an outliner.

I have now created a version of my Daily page template that takes the inline editing to the next level; the previous content filters originally designed for the digital garden are fully available and have been extended to add more functionality. If I choose to go this route I will, unlike before, be literally editing a blank page.

A couple of challenges presented themselves:

  • how to create sections and make them linkable
  • how to retain the ability to post webmention 'likes'

Both have been solved by adding additional content filters. To send a 'Like' I just need to enclose a link in double bracket delimiters '(())' - the filter simply replaces them with the relevant code.

Creating linkable sections needed a slightly different approach and I was initially unsure as to what markup to use but settled on adding two @ symbols. Why? Because two @s together are not used anywhere else in common parlance, at least as far as I can see. Markdown has a monopoly on a number of characters (#*->) and I've already used [, {, ( and ~ (I have two tildes as delimiters for strikethrough) so needed another option.

The filter counts the instances of double @s and then replaces each one with sequential links so that each section can be referenced separately.

I've already set the daily RSS feed as the default so that isn't an issue, the only thing it means is that there will not be the ability for comments on individual sections unless I can find a way round that.

Now I just need to think about when to make the switch.

26/11/2020, 20:45

# I thought I was going mad and had lost a post. I definitely remembered typing it and what I'd linked to but couldn't find it by searches or manually. Then it suddenly dawned on me this was because it was the muse-letter not a post. Panic over, I'm not going crazy. Well, no more than usual.

25/11/2020, 14:45

# Poignant.

A concept worth understanding:

Dignity of work. Most people confuse work with just a simple economic activity. In reality, it is about self-worth and pride in what one contributes to society at large. A lack of dignity of work leads to a slow erosion of self, no matter how much money/handouts one might get.

From Om Malik's "Worthy Five" as published in Kai Brach's Dense Discovery newsletter.

# Dignity of work - it's something I've thought about a lot in recent years and an fully cognisant of it (or lack of) having an impact on my sense of self and worth.

The unfortunate position for many is that work functions as a way to pay the bills, keep the lights on and feed the family. It is a necessity, not a vocation.

Once you have been embedded in a role for any significant period it is often hard to switch from that simple economic activity to something more personally and socially fulfilling and still be able to pay the bills and feed the family.

It should be easier.

25/11/2020, 08:24

# 7am and it's still pitch black outside. My phone says that dawn doesn't start until quarter past and we have to wait until 7:56 for sunrise.

# A good day yesterday: rearranged the bedroom in order to mount a TV on the wall. Went a lot smoother than expected so was really happy with that.

# I'm really enjoying Shadowlands so far, the story is good and the gameplay very enjoyable. I've not made it to max level yet (one more level to go) but that's only part of the picture in this expansion.

Yes, you need to be max level to do the endgame content but you also have to finish the storyline, going through all the new zones, and meeting all of the new groups (called Covenants) before you can make the choices that will affect your abilities and play at endgame. It's a refreshing change with everyone having to go through the same process regardless of ability.

# Well, it's now 7:15 and can't see any evidence of dawn.

25/11/2020, 07:15

# Tonight's the night (11pm UK time) for the launch of Shadowlands, the next World of Warcraft expansion, after being delayed. The pre-patch was pretty meh but I'm hoping for good things in the expansion itself.

Today is going to be a long day (up at 5:30am for the early shift) but I've got tomorrow off work to recover and get a good headstart on levelling.

23/11/2020, 09:06

# Plans change. Ideas that were once firmly set dissolve then reconstitute. The notion of doing something out of vanity versus out of usefulness creates a path that must be followed.

22/11/2020, 19:07

# I got round to adding inline editing to the single post page last night.

When I add a new post using the form on the Daily page and leave it as draft I am redirected to the post preview. Previously I would have to switch to the back-end to make it live but have, instead, added an option to publish the draft with a single click.

I was originally going to add inline editing to archive pages but feel that having it available on single posts is enough. If anything needs changing I can just quickly switch to the single item and edit from there.

22/11/2020, 11:14

# We started putting up our Christmas decorations today. Some might say it's a bit early but, with 2020 being how it has, we could all do with a bit of light and colour.

21/11/2020, 23:37

# That feeling when you've spent ages trying to get a keypress event working only to realise it doesn't work for non-printable characters and has been deprecated anyway. Switch to keydown and it works first time.

Colin Walker
Colophon. Content: CC BY-NC 2.0 UK, Code: GPLv3