Apart from when studying Pascal at school (yes, it was a LONG time ago) the way I've learnt any code is through necessity: I've had a particular outcome in mind and found the specific syntax to make that happen. This has resulted in a lot of trial and error (mostly error) and a very slapdash approach leaving gaps in my knowledge.

Things are a bit quiet on the work front today so I decided to do something about that.

I have access to an external online learning system through work so thought I'd make some use of it to re-learn PHP from first principles, real foundational stuff. I'm not sure if I should be worried that I'm actually learning something or glad that those gaps are getting plugged.

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Tim Nahumck writes about not writing, about how everything seems so unimportant compared to the current global situation. And he's right.

I've been writing a lot less over the past few weeks, not just because of the pandemic but because of other things that have been genuinely more important: moving house, getting settled, trying to find a new job. Little things like that 😉

Over the past couple of months I've found that the bi-weekly muse-letter has become more important to me than the daily mutterings on the blog. I wrote in the last letter that I'll always find time for them.

I'm not really sure why I make the mental distinction between the two, the letters are essentially an extension of what I do on the blog, but that distinction exists and alters how I feel about them, how I value them.

I think they're important (to me, at least) because they are a sacred space, one where I can say and do what I like - it's truly mine.

Wait, can't I do that with the blog? Isn't the idea of a blog to be your own space on the web? Of course, but there's something about the letters having limited distribution, about feeling they're more open and more like letters to a friend than something being posted to the web. It may seem like a contradiction, seeing as how all editions are publicly available, but the primary means of distribution is more psychological than anything.

Everything in a letter could easily be published on the blog (and likely would have been had I not started them) yet, by treating them differently, they trigger a different mindset. They become more important.

While most things do pale into insignificance when compared to what's going on in the world, and in life, the letters act as a support structure, a way to offload and assess things,a means of dealing with things. Again, this could be achieved on the blog but the more intimate nature lends itself to this perfectly.

I don't think the letters could ever completely replace the blog, the fact that I am writing this is testament to that. They are, however, a different avenue, a way of approaching things so as to reclaim some of that importance usurped by circumstance.

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There's a bug somewhere when someone unsubscribes from the daily emails or muse-letter, it's this glitch which removes the commas from the list of email addresses.

I received an unsub mail with no details so suspected something was wrong, sure enough when I looked in the database the same thing had happened. Looks like I'll need to dig in to find out what's happening.

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I finally got round to fixing a glitch with the daily email that caused the first '#' link to be offset vertically from the post content. It wasn't always that way, the problem must have been introduced along with the other issues in early July.

I already had the solution in the daily RSS feed so copied it over. I don't know why I lived with it for so long.

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On a car very badly parked:

My wife: it's at a jaunty angle.

Me: jaunty angles should be reserved for hats - a car at a jaunty angle normally means something has gone very wrong!

06/08/2020, 16:46

Liked: It’s Not About Routine, but About Practice - RyanHoliday.net...

On practices versus routines:

Practices are different. Practices are things you do regularly—perhaps daily, perhaps not—but in no particular order. They are things you return to, time and time again, to center yourself. To reset. To reconnect. To focus.

The difference is in the flexibility.

One is about daily rhythm. The other is a lifelong pursuit.

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How have I not known before now that (the first 3 books of) The Sandman has been adapted into a "radio play" for Audible? And with Gaiman himself narrating no less.

05/08/2020, 08:41

I wanted to try iA Writer not least because it is described as "the common benchmark for Markdown writing apps" but also as it can be connected directly to WordPress.

I had looked at iA Writer a couple of times on iOS in the past but it never really clicked - and I then had the likes of Drafts and Ulysses to play with - but thought I'd give it a spin on Android so paid for a year's subscription.

My blog is connected to my WordPress.com account via JetPack so I tried authorising the app but got:

net::ERR_CLEARTEXT_NOT_PERMITTED

Since Android 9 the use of cleartext traffic has been blocked so apps should connect to servers and sites securely using HTTPS.

After contacting iA support it appears there is a bug in the current version of iA Writer as it still tries to connect via HTTP for self-hosted sites.

Their support email said:

We've determined that WordPress's login page currently causes issues with devices running Android 9 or higher and we are coding a workaround for this.

I'm not sure if this is WordPress or the app. The error page specifically states it is trying to connect to HTTP even though the blog is HTTPS and connected to WordPress.com as HTTPS. Not to mention that Simplenote is able to connect okay using the same method.

Anyway, whatever the cause, it will be nice to get it fixed and give iA Writer a proper test, I just hope they can roll out an update soon.

I can't quite decide if it's strange this issue hasn't come up before or wonder if it not having done so is indicative of the situation with Android. iA switched to a subscription/purchase model earlier this year and the Play Store listing is littered with bad reviews bemoaning the cost. One of iA's responses states that they had been offering Writer free for 5 years but needed to monetise the product to support further development.

Android users are typically more reluctant to pay for apps or, at least, pay a lot for them. Still, this shift appears to have been only a couple of months ago so was there really nobody connecting Writer to a self-hosted blog using the previous version?

Perhaps the issue never came to light due to the notoriously slow OS updates to many Android devices and users were stuck on version 8 (or even earlier!) so never encountered the problem.

In any event, Android 9 was released almost exactly 2 years ago (that particular anniversary is tomorrow) and was in beta for months prior to that so this seems like an oversight in testing. To be charitable, maybe a bug has been introduced in the WordPress authorisation architecture but I again point to Simplenote's ability to connect and post.

Personally, I have no problem paying for a good app and agree it would be unfair to take advantage of more willing iOS and Mac users such that they were subsidising those on Android who expect the same experience for free.

There is a catch-22 situation causing the Android versions of some apps to become second class citizens compared to their iOS counterparts. Users' reluctance to pay, or pay more than the bare minimum, means developers have to make serious decisions about how much time and energy they spend on the Android version of their app. This, in turn, leads to even less purchases due to feature disparity.

That is if an Android version exists at all.

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It's 6:45am and I'm sat in my makeshift office, on the early shift, waiting for "work things" to require my attention. It's too early to read, my brain isn't alert enough yet to concentrate enough on something that I would actually take it in and be able to digest it properly.

So, I turn to the keyboard instead noting that I only posted three times last week. I was writing, on and off, just nothing ready to be shared with the world. And that's okay.

It's been a crazy, manic, surreal few weeks; there's still lots to do (I finally managed to rebuild our wardrobe yesterday so can finish putting the bedroom back together over the next few days) not least the hunt for a new job. I've applied for one with another possibility to look at today but options based on my skillset and salary requirements are... limited. I'm not quite at a full-on panic stage but I feel myself getting close.

While there is a push for greater internal mobility at work it seems to be largely lip-service: just circulating a list of vacancies with strict requirements rather than being willing to invest in staff and train them. Those days seem gone forever, no one seems to have the time, money or patience to develop people any more, instead wanting the "finished article" on day one of a role. That's not what internal mobility means to me; to me it means looking for potential, for good fits and opportunities.

Maybe I've just got an old-fashioned or unrealistic view of things.

It's at times like this that I feel my age, feel like the people I complain about, stuck in a time long past and not understanding how the modern world works.

"Get with the times!"

I have the window open, the nearby traffic tuned out - nothing more than white noise now - and listen to the birds, only to realise/remember that they're actually part of the music I'm listening to: an ambient/environmental piece called "Spring". The traffic merges with the music creating a unity: inside and out fused together in a moment of beauty. I think to myself that this is what life should be about, not the hustle and bustle, not the stress and anxiety, but the beauty, the existence, the being.

And, just like that, it's 7:22 and I've only typed 400 words.

It's 400 more than I typed yesterday so I'll take it.

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Aaron links to NASA's Send your name to Mars page where you can apply for a virtual boarding pass and get your name sent on the next mission to the red planet.

It reminded me that they did the same thing before the Orion mission in 2014.

But what if it isn't just a virtual boarding pass? What if it was for something more serious?

I wrote a short story at the time which I have re-posted here.

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Back to work tomorrow ☹️

These last two weeks have both flown by but seemed to go on for ages.

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Set up a new temporary office in one of the spare rooms now that we actually have them. Until we get a bed etc. in there at which point I'll have to move up a floor.

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I don't think the latest muse-letter actually went out properly. I just checked the database and all the commas had been somehow removed from the list of addresses. That's obviously not going to work.

There's nothing in the code to cause that so I don't know what's happened. I've corrected it and may re-send the letter later.

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Colin Walker
Colophon. Content: CC NY-BC 2.0 UK, Code: GPLv3