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I couldn't sleep so got up for a drink and did a little more work on the non-WordPress version of the blog.

It's still intrinsically linked to WordPress because it currently just retrieves the post sections from the database that are created within the main site but, ultimately, I'd like to make it a fully self-contained system.

I'll need to sort out some kind of functionality for logging in and will need to rethink posting and how sections are stored. What will be a little more problematic is working out commenting should I decide to include it.

I would also lose webmentions because my coding skills really don't extend as far as rolling my own solution for that. This, in turn, means that I would lose the current "related posts" feature.

I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with all of this, or what compromises I'm willing to make, but it would be nice to be able to say I use my own blogging engine.

# A rudimentary login system has been built and appears to work okay. I've also forked the database being used so that I can start working on the posting functionality.

# Liked: Just One Thing, 34 of 101 - Nicholas Bate...

Fresh starts don’t need a specific date, nor necessarily a SMART goal.

They do need a decision followed immediately by a first action.

27/12/2020, 07:17
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Not having relatives come for Christmas, for obvious reasons, means that the holiday season is actually a more relaxed affair. We are normally rushing from one thing to the next to fit them in either before people arrive or leave.

With it being just us things are far more easy-going. We can go at whatever pace feels best and don't have to try to pack everything in to just one day. It's far more civilised.

# I've not been able to play with the Behringer TD-3 yet as it ships with a euro plug (some adapters are on order along with an assortment of cables) but I've been getting to grips with the Korg Volca Drum, figuring out what it's capable of and generally making noise.

The array of sounds that can be produced with the Drum is extraordinary - it's a drum synthesiser rather than a drum machine - and it can do so much more than just beats.

Once the adapters etc. turn up (should be here on Monday) I'll get them both running together and the fun will really begin.

I've been promised a second TD-3 at some point and will hope to add other bits of kit in future to give more possibilities. I used to love messing about with ReBirth and software synths back in the day but have always wanted to go hardware.

26/12/2020, 14:41
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Michael Wade sets out some rules for new bloggers that even those of us who have been in the game for years should well mind, especially the last:

"Have fun. This shouldn't be a chore. If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right."

# Still working (late shift sadly) but it's quiet so spent some of this morning listening to Neil Gaiman reading A Christmas Carol. Again. It's always good to compare Dickens's original version to the various adaptations from TV etc.

# I've been working on a version of the homepage without WordPress. As the post sections are stored in a custom table rather than as posts it's easy to pull them out:

No WordPress

It's a work in progress but is starting to come together nicely.

24/12/2020, 12:40
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For the past few days I have been conducting an experiment: I have replaced iA Writer on my home screen with a link to the journal.

How has it affected me? It hasn't.

The notion of posts isn't really a thing for me any more, I now just have public and private diary-like spaces where each day unfolds as it will. Add on the garden and I have a place for drafting things before they're published if I'm not ready to write them all in one go.

I have also reduced the friction of posting to the journal further by having the page load ready to go in edit mode, all I need to do is start typing even if I have already saved something earlier that day.

This was already the case over at the garden - if I visit an empty page it opens in edit mode just waiting for me to write. This is what online writing should be like.

23/12/2020, 11:37
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It's a chilly one this morning. On days like today frost sits on the top of the garden fence and when the sun comes up it evaporates in an aggressive flurry making it look as though the fence is on fire. It's quite a sight.

The great tit has been in fine voice but this has been a day of firsts. There is a nesting box in the tree behind our house and I have often wondered if the tit uses it; well, I have now seen it go in the box so am very happy with that.

About a week or so ago we bought a new bird feeding station but the weather has been pretty bad. It usually takes a few days for birds to realise a feeder is there and to trust it, this morning was also the first time I have witnessed the tit using it.

Hopefully this is the tit claiming its territory and we can look forward to some fledglings in the spring.

# Doug Belshaw, who I have linked to a number of times on the blog, turns 40 today and has 40 things he's learnt during that time.

I especially like number 22: "You are a human, not a machine. You don’t need to sound grown up, or professional, or ‘respectable’" but we should pay heed to them all.

Many happy returns Doug.

22/12/2020, 12:03
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Wishing you a happy Winter Solstice. From here on out the light returns to the world.

# We sat down to watch "The Man Who Invented Christmas last night, the 2017 semi-biopic about how Charles Dickens wrote "A Christmas Carol" and forever changed how we celebrate Christmas.

It's not historically accurate, but that's not important, not really.

What appealed to me was the demonstration of how an author takes their characters with them. No matter what they are doing or where they are going the characters are there, whispering ideas, giving little nudges.

Dickens says "Get the name right and then, if you're lucky, the character will appear" - the notion that with the right idea something can, seemingly write itself.

# It's stupid that WordPress uses is_home() to refer to the 'posts' page even if it isn't the homepage.

21/12/2020, 11:02
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What we write, what we are willing to put into words and form sentences, is our personal philosophy, our own personal truth whether we realise it or not.

20/12/2020, 10:38
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I've had a note sat in iA Writer for a while asking "Is the ultimate goal for me to use the garden to replace a notes app?" At the time of writing the answer was 'probably not' but as things progress I'm not so sure. Now that I've also got the daily journal, the site can function on a number of different levels: storage, thoughts and ideas, long term projects, public and private.

The journal is raw, everything thrown in just to get it out of ones head. The garden is something you tend, cultivate, it's an ongoing investment, more evergreen, timeless. The blog is an ongoing investment, yes, but one of a different nature - it is the public face of my writing where each post is of the here and now, removed daily from the home page, but forms part of the 'conversation with myself' that transcends time.

The three are separate but connected: feeding and fertilising one another, at least that's how it should be. Not everything is ready to be a blog post, not everything should be a blog post and trying to make it fit just because there's nowhere else to put it is wrong. Having multiple places to 'work' based on need, but still behaving in one coherent manner, is a game changer.

Why do I need a notes app when notes can be whatever I want them to be right here on the site? I'll see how this develops.

# The decision to relax covid rules in the UK over Christmas was always stupid. That infection numbers and deaths are back on the rise illustrates that a lot of people just can't be trusted to follow the guidelines. Yes, the spread of a new variant which is up to 70% more infectious will be a factor but following the rules would reduce the spread even of this.

The number of people I see gathering in groups or not wearing masks is depressing but add travel, celebration and alcohol to the mix and we would absolutely be heading for a third wave in the new year.

It's such a shame that more infections and deaths have had to occur for a rethink of policy but the need for a rethink was obvious.

19/12/2020, 11:31
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Happy Friday.

Well, maybe not seeing as we've now lost the original Boba Fett so soon after Darth Vader. It's good that the character is still going strong in The Mandalorian. (Apologies for the spoiler if you've not seen it.)

# My brain again wouldn't let me sleep until I'd dealt with more ideas for the site. This is becoming an annoying (yet productive) habit.

First, a minor change, the revision comparison for Garden pages is now within a sized, scrollable div to keep things tidier. What's more of a major change, however, is that it now displays the raw markup rather than the converted HTML.

The other change is that the header now displays a different title based on what page you are on. Just a bit of fun to add a little more personality to the different sections of the site.

# Had a weird glitch where the first section of the day wasn't added to the live RSS feed. If you've gotten duplicates in your reader I've been trying to fix it, apologies. I've made some changes but don't know if they have resolved the problem. We'll have to wait until tomorrow.

# Habit forming apps (be they exercise, meditation, journalling) work best with gamification, when they have notifications and reminders so you are less likely to break your streak. I thought it would be an interesting idea for the daily journal here.

Despite a number of different search terms I've not been able to find any examples of this, any code or plugins so it's obviously not something that others have been overly concerned about. Maybe other people are just using the apps.

Still, I thought it would be a nice idea to have some kind of visual indication so that's my project for today. Hopefully, it will be relatively simple: loop through the posts, get the date posted, check against a control and decrement that control with each iteration until there is no match. By counting the matches it should indicate the posting streak.

# That didn't take long:

Journal streak

If I'm on a streak but not journalled yet today it will say "Don't break it." If the streak is broken it will say "Start again."

# Just watched the Season 2 finale of The Mandalorian and I can hardly breathe right now. So much going on and so much to come.

18/12/2020, 07:01
Colin Walker
Colophon. Content: CC BY-NC 2.0 UK, Code: GPLv3