Hmm, one more kink to work out: why today's posts get added to the "on this day" feed. 🤔

That didn't happen before.

Status

The next muse-letter has been drafted ready for tomorrow pending a read-through and any edits. Some big news coming...

Status

I haven't worked out the performance issues (I just don't see why a custom query and creating an rss file have suddenly become so taxing) but I have resolved the cron job problem.

My other domain (colinwalker.me.uk) is parked with another host so I have recreated the cron jobs over there and everything appears to work as expected. The final test will be overnight with the daily emails.

Status

Liked: Disconnected — Brandon's Journal...

By the time you got home, a lot of the day's stressors had passed the fight or flight stage. Your significant other's problem with a co-worker were several hours old and a little less dramatic. Your own bad experience with a customer wasn't nearly as fresh and instead of unleashing onto your significant other, you were able to reign it in and explain how frustrating the situation was without an elevated heartrate.

Those were the days.

Status

I've been thinking about this post from Brandon for almost a month now, about the notion of permanent writing as opposed to temporary writing.

One of the big issues/complaints with social media is its inherent temporality, how the streams flow so fast that everything gets washed away, forgotten, then we're on to the next thing. And the next. Ad infinitum.

Brandon notes that before social, before even blogs:

the writing on these websites seemed to be written as a permanent record. Every page was carefully planned, written out, and appropriately linked. Each page served a purpose (to pass along a specific set of information) and when put altogether the sum of those parts created this interlocking website

As blogs took over as the personal website style of choice, with the list of posts as the homepage, the emphasis on more permanent aspects of online writing was increasingly relegated to supporting cast at best, or forgotten altogether at worst.

Have we lost something by not writing pages and instead focusing on just simple posts?

But blogs and sites serve very different purposes. Blogs are much easier to write - truly personal blogs that is - and CMS's remove a lot of the legwork involved in online publishing. Blogs are an outpouring of thought, feeling, emotion, reaction, as much (or more) for the author than for the audience. They are slices of life that give an insight into the person creating them rather than being based on any specific topic.

Blogs definitely arent the place for more permanent writing. Yes, the posts are always there but discoverability is an issue once they disappear from the front page. In many cases they might as well not exist at all. We can create "featured posts" pages or a "required reading" list, we can be self-referential to the nth degree or create blog chains but the problem is as much one of distribution and consumption. We have to be realistic and accept that people don't follow links anymore.

We could argue that not posting to a blog, and so not having them distributed by RSS, or not sharing via social networks would change where and how people consume our writing but the web is a far larger place than it used to be and the likelihood of being read at all is infinitesimally small.

Sites, rather than blogs, still exist; in many instances blogs are just one link on a site's menu, but are sites the best way to present certain types of information? Did we create sites because that was the only thing we knew, the only thing that existed? The web evolved, technologies improved and new paradigms manifested; is it for the better? That depends on your point of view.

Billions can have a voice without knowing how to code but those same billions can fight, spread misinformation, harrass and abuse. Online anonymity can enable those in danger of persecution to speak up but it also removes accountability. Convenience trumps all but it leaves us with an unmanageable glut of information.

Perhaps we have lost something that made the web special in one particular way, we can lament that all we like but it was unsustainable. The nature of the web itself is temporal, a product of its time, an ever evolving tool whose purpose changes as often as its technologies. There is nothing that precludes us from using it in any way we see fit yet have to accept that things have changed.

From my own perspective I have totally embraced the temporality and ephemerality, the blog's design itself takes that almost to the extreme. Yet I constantly feel the need to create something more permanent, something more meaningful. I don't know what it will be (if it ever happens) but I know that it would be in a different format. In the meantime, the blog helps me express myself and connect with others, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Status

I've found an annoying issue with the CSS border-radius property in Safari.

My blockquotes are styled with a border only on the left-hand side - not an issue - but when I then apply a border-radius to the element the right-hand corners get a slight border applied along the curve. Here's an example using w3school's tryit:

The same styling in Chrome doesn't present the extra artifacts:

I have specified the individual border colours separately and even tried using the individual radius properties (e.g: border-top-right-radius) to no avail.

Any ideas?

Status

Me, three years ago:

"Despite being largely platform agnostic in the past I know that I now couldn't move away from iOS and be completely happy with my experience. Although I would be able to adapt I have established such an effective workflow that I don't think I could replicate elsewhere."

Times change.

I've been on Android (this time around) for a couple of years and on to my second device. I had previously said I would be going back to iPhone but opted to stay with Android.

One of the reasons I was happy to stick with Android was that I'd arranged a highly individual homescreen using the Niagara launcher and couldn't see myself going back to the boring grid of iOS icons.

Fast forward to March of this year and I ditched Niagara after getting the Galaxy S20 Ultra, returning to the default launcher with - you guessed it - the boring grid of icons, albeit with more flexibility than on an iPhone, and a date & time widget.

But now that's all changing and Apple is releasing a version of iOS where the homescreen out Android's Android. I can't upgrade for quite a while, and things may change further in that time, but who knows which platform I'll be on in a couple of years.

What I do know, however, is that sweeping statements like the quote above are pointless. I adapt to what I have, change my workflows to suit the tools available. It's true, I can't replicate what I had on the iPhone but I dont need to.

Status

A weekend of plumbing jobs: fixing a leak on the inlet pipe to the toilet (this included replacing the fill valve) and replacing the bath taps.

I've been putting off doing the bath taps as I thought I wouldn't be able to do it. I was considering getting a plumber but gave in and tried it myself. I don't know what I was so afraid of.

Status

Summer storms came and passed,
Respite from heat and cloying damp,
But summer's power shall not be quelled,
Holding us firm within its cramp.

These lines came to me this morning after an early storm.

Status

Amit Gawande has launched his new newsletter Slanting Nib & A Keyboard. He describes it as a "writer's toolkit of inspiring posts and helpful tools" which definitely sounds like something I need.

The first edition is a look at the history of writing, from pictographs and cuneiform symbols through to more modern language and the development of the tools used. Very interesting stuff.

I look forward to future editions and for how it will develop.

Status

Leo Babauta of Zen Habits writes about the "not knowing" of confronting racism:

Many of us want a simple solution to the systemic racism we’ve allowed to happen — but there isn’t one. When we don’t have a simple solution, our first reaction is to get discouraged and frustrated and give up.

But we can’t just give up. We have to let ourselves stay in the place of not knowing. We have to stay with the questions, and explore with curiosity.

We have to listen. Listen to those who are most impacted, listen to their stories, listen to their anger and exhaustion and pain. Listen as if we don’t know anything, because we really don’t.

As he says, it's okay to not know and we have to realise and accept that we dont know. No one knows, not entirely, and thats why we all need to listen to, and work with, one another.

There's one thing he wrote that reads like a slap in the face, a wake-up call, you can claim you're not racist or bigoted but there is still always a sense of otherness:

There’s me, and there’s Other. Not the same, not connected, not unified as one. Other.

Otherness manifests in the tiniest of ways, ways that we may not pay attention to, not even give a second thought to because they are so small. The tiniest of assumptions or behaviours couldn't possibly make a difference, could they? The smallest of things couldn't possibly cause offence, could they? Maybe not individually, or at least not that is immediately noticeable, but when combined, when added up, when they become a consistent pattern, then absolutely.

What I may see as normal might be offensive to someone else. What I consider okay because it's coming from a place of humour could well be rooted in someone else's pain and suffering despite seeming innocuous, despite assuming it's okay.

Otherness is everywhere, it's natural and unavoidable, and will always exist on some level due to the very nature of "me" and "not me". We can, however, control our responses to it.

No one has all the answers and that scares us no matter what side of the issue we are coming from; to say we do is an incredibly self-centred view which only serves to further reinforce the otherness. Imposing our answers assumes they are correct and denies the position of others.

Assumption is dangerous.

Assuming that you are not racist (you couldn't be, right?) is dangerous. Assuming that you are not bigoted is dangerous. Assuming there's nothing you need to do differently is dangerous.

The only assumption we can make, the only thing we can know, is that we don't know how to fix this, not on our own, not even in a specialised, handpicked, select group. We all have a part to play.

Status

Not currently being an iPhone user (that was always my primary focus) I had completely forgotten it was WWDC so had to catch up after the event.

The "Big Sur" installation went cleanly and I'm liking the look and feel but the changes to the iOS home screen are what have really intrigued me. Yes, Android has had widgets since forever and the app drawers on some devices auto-classify apps but, you have to admit, when Apple decides to implement something they go about it with a certain aplomb.

iOS14's widgets look better, are more consistent and, no doubt once developers start building their own widgets, the design guidelines will keep that consistency regardless of where they come from.

I've never really been a user, or even a lover, of widgets on Android beyond the clock and, sometimes, weather and I think that's because of the inconsistency. Although widgets have been an integral part of the user experience they have always looked and felt like an afterthought, they are often quite ugly and I like to keep a tidy homescreen. Apple's approach to widget design makes them feel like part of the home screen in a way Android has never managed.

Status

I noticed some screwy behaviour with the daily emails and feed generation (also for On This Day) and wondered if it was the host having issues running cron jobs. Then it dawned on me: having changed the default view the code to generate all of this wasn't being triggered unless the Today page (rather than the ephemeral Daily page) actually received a visit. I've copied that all over so, fingers crossed, as of tonight normality should be restored.

Status

Our car is an automatic, my wife only has an automatic licence, but the courtesy car we have been given while ours is in for repair is a manual. I've not driven a manual car for about 12 years so it's been an experience re-learning, if that's the right word, or maybe reminding myself of the process.

I cant help but feel that, in a sense, it's a metaphor for life.

We get used to particular ways of doing things, adopt patterns of behaviour, and fall into a groove - not necessarily a rut - which serves us on a day-to-day basis.

When change occurs we are forced to do new things, or maybe things that we haven't done in a while, and have to familiarise ourselves with the processes involved.

New car, new house, new job, new people, whatever it is we have to reassess, to find the "new normal" to borrow that horrid term from the current zeitgeist. It can make us nervous, unsure, scared even - feelings that we tend to avoid in our normal routines.

But, maybe this is what we need, maybe that uncertainty is what fuels us, keeps us alive in the metaphorical sense, just as the uncertainty of knowing where the next meal came from forced our ancestors to find solutions which kept them alive, literally.

I am painfully aware that I don't embrace change too well, don't seek it out as often as I should, don't put myself in positions where I need to adapt and learn those new processes. Part of it is my own insecurities, my lack of self-confidence, and fear of the unknown.

the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance - Franklin D Roosevelt

In the absence of anything genuinely fear-inducing, the small, the petty, the unknown become overinflated, sources of fear of my own design: nameless, unreasoning, unjustified. That fear stops me from taking a leap, but when forced I realise that there wasn't really anything to worry about - just fear itself.

Status

I'm really grateful for my Father's Day presents today which included:

  • How to Think by Alan Jacobs
  • You, Only Better by Nicholas Bate
  • some new notebooks with a nice leather cover to protect them
  • and a full leather strap for my Skagen watch to replace the mixed leather/silicone one that comes with it

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, and the mums, uncles, grandparents or anyone else doing a dad's job.

Status

"No posts yet today."

Four words I see every morning. Four words that bring a sense of comfort and excitement. Four words that have a wealth of meaning.

First, they are an explanation, a statement of fact; they point out to the observer that nothing has been missed.

Next, they are a reminder that each day is its own thing, self contained, and need not be encumbered by what has come before or worried by what is yet to happen. We start again and anything is possible.

They are permission to not replace them. If nothing gets posted they will not disappear, they will resolutely do their job, for 24 hours if they must. They are equally valid at 23:59 as at 00:01: "it's okay, we're here, we've got you covered."

But they are also an invitation, an opportunity to say something. "No posts today" would be too literal, too finite, while the inclusion of "yet" indicates that this can change at any moment, all it takes is for the right words to replace them. "Yet" denotes a world of potential.

Those "right words" can be anything, there are no rules, it's just what is right at the time, what works on that day. It may sometimes seem a big responsibility - those four words can only be replaced once a day - but it doesn't really matter, just as it doesn't really matter if they are not replaced at all.

Status

Friday, the end of a pretty shitty week.

We had the car accident on Sunday night (the car is being taken in to get the work done today) but then our daughter's husband was sent home from work on Monday with a high temperature and feeling dizzy. By Tuesday this had gotten worse and was accompanied by a nasty rash on his lower leg.

We ended up having to call an ambulance as his temperature was escalating; he was taken in to hospital on Tuesday evening and is still there. It has been diagnosed as a bad case of cellulitis but they are still conducting tests to ascertain the cause of the infection.

He has been tested, and is fortunately negative, for both coronavirus and MRSA so that's good but we still don't know why this has flared up and how long he will have to stay in hospital. Not being able to visit (coronavirus restrictions) is frustrating but at least we have video calls so are able to keep in touch face-to-face of a fashion.

Status