Archive: 2024

  • Week 180: It’s beginning to look a lot like a kitchen

    We don’t have a sink or a hob, but we do now have an oven and a microwave, which means that we can heat up food that can be cooked in the oven or microwave. It’s an improvement. It will be even better when we have running water.

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  • Week 179: Back home

    We moved back into our house. We’re sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the second bedroom (my once and future office) while we wait for the wardrobes to be installed in the bedroom, and there’s no sink in the kitchen, so we have to do the washing up in a bowl under the garden tap, and neither microwave nor oven is wired up, but it’s good to be back.

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  • Week 178: Wræc-hwīl

    From the Old English Wordhord this week:

    wræc-hwīl, f.n: period of misery or exile. (WRACK-HWEEL /ˈwræk-ˌhwiːl/)

    This word feels appropriate to describe my life over the past months, banished from my own home by renovations.

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  • Electromagnetic Field 2024

    Electromagnetic Field is:

    a non-profit camping festival for those with an inquisitive mind or an interest in making things: hackers, artists, geeks, crafters, scientists, and engineers.

    It’s also been described as the “special interest haver convention” and “Glastonbury for geeks”

    It always sounded very appealing to me, except for the camping part.

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  • Week 177: Misplaced optimism

    My optimism about moving back into our house was misplaced: by the end of the week they were still painting upstairs and installing flooring downstairs, so we’re still relying on friends. We’ve been very lucky in that respect, even if moving every few weeks takes up a lot of time that I would rather have been spending otherwise.

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  • Week 176: Se non è vero, è ben trovato

    I went to the Interesting conference on Wednesday evening. I saw a lot of old colleagues and other friends from the gentler earlier days of the internet.

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  • Week 175: Communication breakdown

    I can communicate in quite a few languages, but one that causes me trouble is the modern scourge that is emoji. They weren’t so bad when they were reasonably limited in number (the original Docomo set had 176) but there are now so many variants of cartoon faces that I can’t ever be certain of their intended meaning.

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  • Week 174: Dawn chorus

    A variety of leaves and twigs, with three snails. All have their necks
out and their eyestalks extended

    Snails feasting at dawn in Russia Dock Woodland

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  • Week 173: Floored

    You wouldn’t believe how much of a palaver it is to buy flooring. After several cycles of order samples – choose one we liked – find it’s been discontinued – repeat, I was finally able to order something. That flooring had also been discontinued, but there was just enough remaining in stock.

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  • Week 172: Tear down this wall

    My train back from Weymouth was also delayed but as I was already entitled to a complete refund of my return journey, I couldn’t get refunded any more. They won’t pay you to take the train. However, my Delay Repay refund, applied for on Friday, is already in my account. That was surprisingly efficient.

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  • Week 171: Intense burst of activity

    The builders turned up on Monday, and told us that, contrary to previous plans, we really needed to have everything out of the house for them to be able to work effectively.

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  • Week 170: Serving the song

    Very late, very minimal weeknotes this week, for reasons that will become apparent in next week’s edition.

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  • Using the brown M&M’s trick on Freecycle

    As we’re having a new kitchen installed shortly, the old freestanding dishwasher that came with the house is surplus to requirements, and its most likely fate would be a skip and thence landfill. I don’t like that, and I’d rather see it live out the rest of its life in a loving home.

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  • Week 169: The calm before

    A carrion crow on a railing. Immediately behind it is the River Thames,
and on the far shore are buldings and a construction site with cranes and

    A crow on the Thames, with the Supersewer construction site in the background

    It was the last week of anything approaching normality for a while. I booked a storage locker nearby in Deptford, and booked a van and driver to help move things there. We aren’t emptying our house completely, but they’re going to start with the upstairs, and there isn’t room downstairs for everything that’s currently upstairs.

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  • A bookmarklet to download Aldermore statements for FreeAgent

    I have a business savings account with Aldermore. A few months ago, they changed their online banking interface. The new one is an improvement in some ways. It looks better. Instead of the typical old-school financial weirdness of several pages of login, “memorable” words, and picking letters out of a password, they’ve caught up with practice elsewhere and use a full password plus a second factor.

    On the other hand, the second factor is only available via SMS, something both inconvenient when travelling or out of mobile signal range and notoriously vulnerable to exploits. But what’s really annoying is that the new interface offers no way to get a statement in a machine-readable form.

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  • Week 168: Software updates

    I cultivated yeast from the bottom of a bottle of gueuze (a Belgian beer made with wild yeasts) and used it to make bread. I’ve made a couple of loaves so far, both of which have risen slightly better than my old home-grown starter. They taste good too, if a little less tangy than the other culture.

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  • Week 167: One for his nob

    We have (mostly) finalised the plans for the kitchen and bathroom. It’s not easy. There are so many decisions to make, and so little concrete information on which to base them, and it all costs so much money. At least we’re starting from such a low point that anything will be an awful lot better than the current facilities. Our current kitchen is poorly lit and laid out in a way that provides little useful preparation space. The bathroom is ugly, awkward, and dilapidated, and features a lot of the worst fake wood I’ve ever seen in my life.

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  • Week 166: Improve your memory with this one simple trick

    The missing section of Cycleway 4 has finally opened, which means there’s now a segregated route from Tower Bridge to Greenwich. As we live near the section that was just finished, it’s now a bit easier for me to get onto the route in either direction.

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  • Week 165: Building a bridge

    In a small pub basement near Barons Court, we saw a performance of Japanese folk tales from the village of Hinohara, performed by Doubtful Sound and, just a little bit, us. We had chosen some seats at the front, so we were asked to sit in on one scene as extras and drink some sake. It was a fun and intimate performance of stories I’d never heard before. The sake was nice, too.

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  • Week 164: Under the Dome

    I made a small accidental discovery that will improve my life: my waterproof Bluetooth speaker will send the forward command if I double-tap the play button. This means that when I’m in the shower and some irritating ad comes on (which is most of them, but especially Shopify ads with their repeated dinging antediluvian cash register sounds, and anyway I’m not interested in setting up an online store selling white supremacist merchandise at this time) I can skip right ahead past the annoyance.

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  • Repairing a detached mandolin brace, laparoscopically

    I picked up an Ibanez A-style mandolin with a collapsing top. I guessed that this would be due to a detached brace, and I’d seen a video of someone performing a repair via the f-hole, so I thought I’d try the same. It’s nothing fancy, just a plywood top, but that means that there’s no point paying a professional to repair it, and it’s ideal for me to have a go.

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  • Week 163: Are those horses or cows?

    I’m feeling much better at last. I’m coughing a lot less, which is great, because I broke a rib coughing a couple of weeks ago and it hurts to cough. At least that particular rib doesn’t hurt except when I cough or sleep on my left, and I usually sleep on my right. I have woken myself up a couple of times after rolling onto my left, however.

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  • Week 162: It gets worse before it gets better

    I spent most of last week curled up under a blanket. I’m not a person who likes to sit around doing nothing, but I really have done an awful lot of nothing. I don’t have a fever. It’s just a cold, but a pernicious one. It’s definitely worse than the time I had covid, which gave me only a couple of days of mild discomfort.

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  • Everything I saw (and didn’t see) at FOSDEM 2024

    If you share my interests, you might be able to consider this a curated list of FOSDEM talks from this year. But unless you’re actually me, you probably don’t. Maybe it’s useful as an indication of the kind of things you can see while traipsing across the ULB campus, up and down staircases and through occasionally dark and mysterious corridors.

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  • Week 161: Across the Channel

    I took the Eurostar to Brussels and back for FOSDEM at the weekend. I had a bit of a cold on Wednesday and Thursday, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to go. I didn’t sleep well on Thursday night, but I felt reasonably well on Friday morning, and decided that as long as it wasn’t covid (which it wasn’t), I’d catch my train that afternoon.

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  • Week 160: Infinite nattō

    The shredded inside of a steel factory building with its side torn off.
There isa digger in the foreground.

    The former Harmsworth Quays printing plant, more recently Printworks, being demolished

    I successfully made nattō in a yoghurt maker. A friend from Sanshinkai mentioned that she had had success with this method, so we bought a cheap Lakeland yoghurt maker specifically for the purpose. I chose this one because it allows you to set the temperature and time of fermentation.

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  • Week 159: Synthetic entrails

    We went to see Poor Things at the cinema. The Odeon cinema about five minutes’ walk away would have been more convenient, but they now have a completely opaque and unconscionably expensive pricing structure. When tickets came up at £30 for two, including £2 of booking fees, we decided to go to the Peckhamplex instead, where it cost less than half that.

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  • Week 158: Digital entomology

    A container barge pulled by a tug on the Thames. The Shard is visible
directly behind, on the far bank.

    The Thames on a sunny Wednesday afternoon

    You can probably track how well things are going by when I publish these weeknotes. First thing on a Monday? I’m probably feeling optimistic and energetic. Late on Wednesday? The dead weight of work has been pulling me down, I’ve spent days staring at the screen in futility, I’ve achieved nothing, and I feel like I can’t take time out to write.

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  • Week 157: In a world where everything is orange and teal

    A plane flies directly above, at low altitude, seen through a skylight
window of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre.

    Look up

    While watching a film on New Year’s Eve, I was struck by a visual migraine. Funnily enough, the last time I had one I was also watching a film. I don’t experience any pain, just a colourful distortion that makes me unable to perceive part of my field of vision. It’s disturbing to look at someone and see only half a face.

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