2023 Entries

Saturday, 27th May, 2023

Got our annual letter by recorded delivery from our neighbours asking us to cut our hedge. 🙄

I cut it today and it looks nice and neat. I’ll wait for next year’s letter to cut it again.

Wednesday, 24th May, 2023

There’s a lot of content to learn for the full licence. The book is 100 pages (A4 sized) vs 65 for intermediate. This is not a cram it overnight job. Thinking of making anki cards for it to test myself, just that takes time to do. Ideally I’d take the test by the end of June, before the summer holidays start and when I’ll never find a time slot that’ll work.

This time round I’m making notes from the book whilst reading the syllabus. This makes sure I know what is actually in the exam vs just chat in the book or extra info for awareness. Feels like it makes me go much much slower than just making notes from the book myself. Not sure what’s better, great through the whole book and then come back and check for gaps or methodically go through it. Methodical feels right but it sure is depressing when I only cover 4 pages in an evening.

Also wish the anki app for iOS wasn’t £25.

I pinched a tree from the forest that had fallen down, took it home (at 7am on Sunday morning) and propped it up against the wall to act as a pole for the antenna to tie to. I should also say it was 30 ft tall and deceptively heavy.

Wife was not pleased.

It came down two days later. Never even got to tie the wire to it.

Saturday, 20th May, 2023

My friend passed his intermediate licence yesterday which was good. He’s keen on getting to full, so that’ll encourage me to do mine. I’ve started reading the book. Debating if I should book the test now so it forces me to read it. I did that last time, although I didn’t get myself much time and it was a bit of rush.

I’ve not opened dynalist on my phone in such a long time that it had been offloaded and had to be installed again. I looked at my 2023 goals. Radio didn’t feature at all other than going to the local club meet as a way to get off the computer. However, it has done a great job of getting me off the computer. Everything else is a mix of doing it, like reading and generally going to bed at a reasonable time, and not done anything whatsoever - such as exercising beyond my cycle commute.

At work we’re doing a step challenge for May and June. It’s funny how now at lunchtime a huge number of staff are out walking! My team isn’t doing that well but it’s nice having a lunchtime walk with people.

Got the parts to build my 20m 1/4wave portable vertical antenna. Still need to decide/think about what I’m doing with my home one. Wife still doesn’t like it but is tolerating it for the time being. I might just move it so it’s not in line of sight from the kitchen. That might help get it out of mind…

Thursday, 18th May, 2023

The probably with buying things from forums and doing bank transfers is that our bank account has relatively few transactions and so it’s quite obvious when money comes out. Compared to the credit card which everything comes out of. Not that I’m actively hiding spending, but don’t always want to call attention to the random junk I buy…like new radios…It helped there was a transaction before it of about the same amount coming in from stuff I’d sold to pay for it. 😅

Wednesday, 17th May, 2023

Love this morse key build.

Tuesday, 16th May, 2023

Wow the box with the radio in is massive! It arrived, and no excess postage to pay so that’s good. The guy is really nice as well. I should call him to talk antennas.

Finally finished the blog post I had in draft for ages. Had loads of other things I wanted to write but it was just going on forever. Maybe make another post at some stage.

Thinking I should start studying for the full licence now, whilst the current stuff is still circling in my head. Just means I don’t have time to do anything else.

This poor mac mini G4 is sat open on my desk awaiting the new drive to be installed. For me to install Classic OS 9 on it and then continue to still never use it. Oh well.

Monday, 15th May, 2023

Bought that radio…Yaesu FTDX10 😅 The seller is very nice, spoken to him on the phone several times, but he’s not used to posting things. Ended up not paying for enough weight, so we’ll see what happens with that. Also not clear if the box fitted with the allowable dimensions. Anyway, hopefully it’ll just be a small fee when it arrives to cover the excess. Sounds well packaged at least!

Been watching some videos on it. Some guy has a 175 part YouTube series on it 🥵 All 20 mins or longer! I’ll watch a few, then just play about with it. I like that I can get a desk mic for it, and that it can integrate with a dedicated external antenna matching unit, and amplifier. Good expandability if I want it. Also want to get the remote memory control thing. A little numpad that attaches that lets you play pre-recorded messages back by pressing a button. So now I can just press a number and it says my callsign, or calls CQ etc.

Managed to get a contact with Australia this morning! Tasmania even! I saw he’d heard me on pskreporter and so started calling. I went away for breakfast and when I came back and successful QSO! Even confirmed in QRZ.com, so now I can get the Continents of the World award. Ah the little things. 😗

Friday, 12th May, 2023

I’m ending up buying another radio without actually saying I’m buying the radio…oh well! THe guy wants me to arrange shipping though, which is a snore, don’t see why he can’t just do it and charge me.

Sometimes I do worry that I’ll get bored of it in a few months/weeks and then it’ll be a waste. But then I go back on it and love it, plus there are so many different things to do.

I’ve decided that I want to throw my wire antenna over the roof of the house. a) Gets some more height on it b) removes it from the garden and should make my wife happier. However, I’m not sure about it sitting on the roof and if that’ll cause issues in some way. I’m sure it’ll work but how effective will it be? That is also something that is very hard to determine, as it’s more on the propagation and ionosphere than my setup, unless it’s super amazing and I can hear Australia like they are next door.

I also think that I think it’ll be easy to “throw” the antenna over the roof, when in fact it’ll be a nightmare and it’ll get snagged on all sorts.

Thursday, 11th May, 2023

Digital radio, like DMR or the others, are like Discord but instead of using your computer’s mic and speakers to talk to someone, you use a radio handset. I go back and forth thinking that digital radio is “not real radio” but what is “real radio”? It’s a bit like digital vs. film photography. What is real photography?

I think the fact that a lot of older hams will join in digital radio but wouldn’t join in Discord is a reason to use it. There’s a lot of knowledge and interesting people who I’d never speak to if I disregarded digital radio as it’s “not real”. Also for local chats, regular radio can be annoying.

Wednesday, 10th May, 2023

Well after all that song and dance on callsigns, none of them were available when I came to apply this morning! 🤦‍♂️ I spent a while trying other ones to find some.

In the end went with 2M0RVM, slightly different from my current suffix RVP. Now to update the various online log systems.

Guess I need to buy a new radio now to make use of the 50W I have 😅 I have already picked it…just debating do I want to actually buy it…

Went for a walk last night and took my handheld. Was calling the repeater and CQ frequency but no response. Then I decided to try out 70 cms and it just so happened to be a local net going on. I wasn’t really sure how to break in, so I listened for about 20 minutes. Whilst the old guys lamented over printer issues and describing the minutiae of their day. They were about to go, and so I just blurted out my callsign. Anyway, had a nice chat with them. I could hear one just fine but the other was a bit spotty. Made me think I need to setup a 2m/70cms antenna and radio at home to chat locally.

I like looking at people’s QRZ profile pages. The two locals were no different and had all the details of their setup. They have quite a lot of equipment and invested a lot in it! But I suppose that’s like all hobbies.

Was chatting to my friend online last night who is also recently licenced. We were talking about antenna setups. He then revealed that the big field surround his house was owned by his parents. I was like “wtf are you doing? Get a huge mast up there!”.

Tuesday, 9th May, 2023

I have to pick a new callsign for my next licence. This is turning out to be harder that I thought. Mostly as I over-analyse it. There’s how does it look, sound phonetically, sound normally, the morse weight (even though I probably won’t learn morse until I’ve got my full licence, if at all.), and then my perception of how people will hear it. i.e. weak signals struggle with soft vowel starting words like india, or the single syllable ones get lost, e.g. mike. I had a contact with a guy in Clarksville, Tennessee, and he could not hear my Mike Mike, ended up thinking it was Golf Mike (which is also a valid UK callsign). However, some of those only matter when multiple letters are said together. I think 2-1-2, like B-M-B sounds okay. Also on the morse side there are “rules” to avoid certain letters as they get confused easily or mixed up or lost. These rules are probably more correct than the “sounds like” ones.

All this plus the fact that many have been taken, so I’m working from a semi-accurate list of what’s available based upon the last request for the list of taken callsigns. So I could do all this and then find someone else has taken the one I want since!

Plus if I decide to continue to a full licence, I’ll get to do it all over again!! So why fret now…

The current short list is:

  • 2M0ZOE (Daugther’s name. not sure if allowed, ending ‘E’ is a big no-no with morse as E is dit and can get lost)
  • 2M0XPG (just like the sound of it)
  • 2M0AMG (shortest morse code)
  • 2M0GMR (like the sound of it)
  • 2M0MBM (maybe I don’t like this now)
  • 2M0MOM (looks funny momom)
  • 2M0MOO (🐮)
  • 2M0MDX (Came up in my filter for ones containing M and X, seemed okay, not so sure now)
  • 2M0AJJ (My initials)
  • 2M0AJR (Like my initials)
  • 2M0ALX (Name)
  • 2M0WMZ (Sounds good)
  • 2M0ABZ (local airport code)

For various reasons. The intermediate call sign starting with a 2x0 is terrible anyway, so I shouldn’t worry. ALX is almost my name, so maybe that’ll do.

I think these three letter repeating ones are available:

  • 2M0III
  • 2M0JJJ
  • 2M0QQQ

K is also available but I doubt it’s registerable. Q might not be either. I don’t like “india” or “juliett” really. Q might be okay but Quebec is a bit of a tricky one.

Might just go for my name after writing all of this.

After everyone being ill and mostly all recovered, I’m wondering if I’m now starting to feel ill or is it just in my head?

Sunday, 7th May, 2023

I’ve fallen behind on doing our DayOne journal. After quite a good year last year, I feel this year is quite lacking. Big gaps and even exciting events and weekends often get missed. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter but I’m sad I’ve not been keeping up with at least the trips away or other events.

Spent ages trying out a carbon fibre pole I have with the antenna. I was hoping to use it to raise the other end higher off the ground. Unfortunately, the pole is too flexible and if I try to use it near the top it just bends over so much (that I fear it snapping again) or if I move the connection further down, to the stronger parts, there’s not actually any benefit. So I put it back to using the little tree we have in the garden. I think I managed to get it 6” higher in the tree, although pushing it’s limits and I may find that one day I go into the garden and the tree as broken…

Really need a more substantial fibreglass one, with thick walls.

I started looking at vertical antennas, particularly the Hustler vertical. It’s not small though, still 7 odd metres high, and probably needs radials - wires on the ground running outwards. With some people recommending 3m away or more. Then I read that some people didn’t find it that great for transmit.

The other question is do I get a new transceiver now, as I’ve passed intermediate and so can use 50W (vs. The max of 20W my current one can output), or do I just stick to 20W and then when I pass full, get a new one. I worry I’d be tempted to sneak the power up just to see if I can make a contact, before I’m allowed to! 😅 Although 50W could make more of a difference. I’m also not sure if I should as, am I really going to get into this. It feels like it so far, but I’m still early and chasing down the higher licence levels. However, once I get to full will that be it? I don’t think so, as I think I’ll then want to build things and mess about with all sorts of other stuff (although most don’t need full licence to do this). Plus my wife is still not keen on the wire across the garden. I’m just not sure what alternative antenna I could/should get. Other than a ridiculously large wall mounted mast on the side of the house, but that’ll need planning permission and be very expensive.

I do want to raise the current wire and see how much improvement that makes, and then with additional power, I wonder if I can make voice contacts with the far east and Australia.

Oh dear, two kids and my wife have some vomiting sick bug. Everyone was up all night. The others had it last week. So far I’m the only one who’s managed to escape it so far. I’m constantly washing my hands now.

Now that I’ve sat down, I feel tired.

My friend has been playing Transport Fever 2. It’s very much like Transport Tycoon. I loved that game. Absolute classic, and timeless too. With the release of OpenTTD (in about 2003), it’s going to be around forever. TF2 looks good, but it seems awfully close to a game of chores. Plus it’s not multiplayer, and I really only like multiplayer games these days. Mostly to chat and play at the same time. Transport Tycoon is multiplayer.

Saturday, 6th May, 2023

God save the king etc. All the regalia and brocadary is out in full today. 🤴🇬🇧 For example, this title.

Friday, 5th May, 2023

I passed my intermediate exam this morning. So now I can use up to 50 W, a couple of other random bands (that I’ll probably never use), can do remote transceiver operation (although only via radio) and design/construct my own equipment from scratch. Oh, and I can supervisor another amateur and they can use my callsign and privileges.

It wasn’t too difficult. The maths questions are straightforward, but there are several questions where the wording is cunning. Two answers seem like they’ll be technically correct, but really only one is. Sometimes because they’ve inserted a word which, in the exam writers mind, means a certain thing - although in the English language could mean multiple things. I worked through all the questions twice and wrote a list of the ones I felt happy with and the ones I wasn’t sure. After ages debating between answer A or B on these iffy questions I decided to just submit. I felt that even if I got them all wrong, I was right on the others and still get enough points to pass. In the end I did very well and scored 91%, the pass mark is 60%.

I did spend every evening this week revising and at work I did one mock paper a day at lunch. Now I don’t know what to do with myself this evening!

It’ll take a week before I can apply for my licence, and then I get to choose another callsign as it takes a different syntax.

Someone did a freedom of information request and there’s a spreadsheet of all the taken licences online, so I’ve been filtering and slicing that to see what I could get. Around 65% of the combinations have been taken, so anything meaningful is probably gone. So I’m focusing on ones that sound good when said phonetically, or roll off the tongue or aren’t confusing. Another radio guy said I should pick one that’s good for CW (morse code). I’m probably going to go for a full licence before I start learning morse code, (and will then get another new callsign) so not sure that’s super important but I might look it up to see.

Mike and Golf are single syllable letters, and being in Scotland the start of my callsign will be 2M0, so somehow making use of that would be good. 2M0MOM is available, but not sure if that’ll be quite confusing to listen to and hear.

I was explaining the radio stuff to my dad and taking about antenna etc. He asked if I was still doing the negative development. I said I only have time for one all consuming hobby at one time 😂 Maybe once I’m retired I can do all these things at the same time.

Tuesday, 2nd May, 2023

Mower got repaired this morning by a nice guy who came to our house at 8am. I had previously spent about 1.5-2 hours trying to dismantle and fix it but not being very mechanically minded I didn’t really get anywhere. He, on the other hand, fixed it in about 20 minutes, and for £35, which seems reasonable given the prices places charge for just a call out.

Now I wish I was working at home today as the weather is lovely and the lawn is in dire need of mowing. I could do some nice lunchtime mowing. If the kids had been back to school today I would’ve considered it. Although they’re off out with friends, probably for the whole day, so maybe I could’ve.

Been thinking about how to improve the antenna in the garden. Getting it higher is the key but that means big poles and it’s unfortunate that our garden is adjacent to the road, so it’s very obvious. I don’t think anyone would complain but at 10m (~30ft) high it’s not exactly subtle. I did think about something on the roof but for HF, it would be quite the monster, 10m across with multiple elements. I think the wire is the best option for now. If only we had some decent sized trees to use or hide the pole. This is all somewhat moot as my wife is quite against the idea. There are vertical antennas that are mounted at ground level which would work….if they actually work. I’m not convinced but want to try them - just not at £300 for a trial…this is where I need to find someone who has set it up in a situation like mine.

Thursday, 27th April, 2023

I’ve booked my exam for the next level of radio licence, but now I’m panicking that I don’t have enough time to learn it all. I’m still torn between playing on the radio and reading the manual/writing notes each evening.

I’ve generally been good and been reading the manual and writing handwritten paper notes 😅 although I’m not covering as much as I’d thought I would each evening. Plus we have things on and my wife is away this weekend, and I want time to do some mock exams.

The content isn’t hard but there’s so much “remember this widget is needed for AM, and points that way, and the factor is 11.7. Except when it’s night and then it’s 10 but only on Thursdays”. Also, whilst the questions aren’t trick they have a certain way of writing it such that there can technically be multiple right answers but one is more right than others, because that’s the focus of the licence terms.

I’m just hoping for lots of calculation questions 😅

Monday, 24th April, 2023

I was reading about FT8, and it turns out I can claim a QSO for my contacts with Australia and Japan! It’s just normal convention to automatically log it when you send 73s (code for best regards). We exchanged signal strength and that means we communicated with each other.

I’ll log it, but until I physically speak to someone in Australia I’m not that excited. It’s great but the real excitement is to come.

Doing a ft4 digital contest tonight. First 15 minutes I had no contacts and thought it was going to be terrible, but it started picking up.

Sunday, 23rd April, 2023

I setup digital modes (FT8 and friends via WSJT-X if you want to know) and played around with it. It’s interesting but not as fun as actually speaking to people.

The good thing with it is that you get a lot of data to see how far you can be heard and on which band. The best is pskreporter website which is the default one WSJT-X uploads to. This allows you to see who has heard you, even if they haven’t responded directly.

I was pretty much heard all over the world, although very weakly in most places outside of Europe. I did nearly get a contact with Japan and Australia. They responded to me but we didn’t get to do the full FT8 handshake message sequence before they lost me. That would’ve been exciting, although not as exciting as a voice contact.

The U.K. radio society is running a FT4 contest tomorrow, so I’ll give that a go.

The next thing is figuring out how to get the antenna higher. Poles and wires no doubt, much to my wife’s disgust. I am seriously considering finding a fallen tree in the woods near us and dragging that back. On the pretence that I can test the performance first, before I buy more things. Would be good to get the antenna up to about 10m. It’s currently 4m at one end and 2.5m at the other. So quite a step up… 📡

Friday, 21st April, 2023

I’ve literally been spending all evening from when the kids go to bed to 11pm+ on the radio. Listening, chatting, chasing unique stations and continually being amazed that this bit of wire in the garden can get me around the world.

I made contact with Canada the other night. He lives near St. John’s but still all away across the ocean!

I can hear folks in Florida and Texas, but my licence doesn’t give me quite enough power to reach them. Or the sun is not in a super solar activity mode just yet.

I’m torn between learning for the next level and being on the radio!

Last night I got the Aland Islands, which are between Sweden and Finland in the Baltic Sea. As they’re a special island on the air (IOTA) so many people were calling. So when he replied with my callsign it was super exciting!

Tonight I’m going to try out some digital modes. They only need a tiny fraction of power to work so potentially I could get into the US or Asia etc.

I’ve so much material for blog posts but don’t know when I’m going to write them!

I also like not being on the computer. I am on the laptop looking up callsigns and adding to my log but I’m sat on a bean bag in the kitchen and it’s nice to be in a different environment. I’m going to run a cable around the house to the office but thinking about making the kitchen more permanent that it is. We’ll see.

Tuesday, 18th April, 2023

Excuse me whilst I spend all my free time on the radio listening to Brazil, Jakarta, America, Canada, Europe, Russia and South Africa.

Can’t quite get them to hear me yet, nevertheless it’s still fun. Might try some digital modes and see if that gets me further.

Sunday, 16th April, 2023

Lots of fun today with the radio. Made some nice contacts across Europe, Germany, Italy, Portugal and into Ukraine and Croatia. Plus some more in the UK. I heard lots more in Greece, Spain, Italy, France and even Brazil. However, these were on 10m and it seems no-one could hear me. Not perfect propagation for my low 10W of power. I made contact with someone just down the road on 10m and then I heard them make contact with Brazil, so clearly if you have 100W or more then you can overcome the weaker transmission.

Spent a while listening to a 97 year old in Ireland talking to a “young” 75 year old in England. Made me smile. I waited to speak with them but 40m on a Sunday afternoon is soooo very busy. No sooner than they had stopped about about 10 other people started calling on the same frequency. The little waterfall on my radio shows the whole band is super active, which is great but hard to get a word in!

I found 15m and 17m worked quite well this afternoon, quieter than 40m but people could hear me, vs. 10 and 12m that couldn’t.

Need to sort out my logging arrangements. So far it’s notepad on the computer and then into QRZ.com but would like to pick and use one of the other programs. It’s nice looking up callsigns on QRZ when I hear them.

Looking forward to when 10m does work for me and I make a contact outside the Europe continent.

It’s still amazing how good the long bit of wire is, even though it could be higher off the ground.

Saturday, 15th April, 2023

Was making up some coax to go from the antenna to the radio this morning. My wife asked “so what are you doing? Is this for the pole?”. I then explained the wire going across the garden 5m in the air and her reply wasn’t “that sounds great”. I said it was “temporary”. Haha! 😅

Ugh the mower won’t start and I think I need to clean the carburettor. Annoyingly I just filled it up with fuel. That’ll be a two hour ordeal and then I STILL have to mow the lawn. 🌾

Thursday, 13th April, 2023

I see two new monochrome cameras today! The astronomically priced Leica M11M and the more moderately priced Pentax K-3 DSLR. I’d like to have a monochrome camera but no way can I justify one, when 99% of the time, a B&W filter is good enough for me. I assume the M11M can resolve a million ISO and with 60 MP can see the atoms themselves.

My radio transceiver arrived yesterday, although yet to even take it out of the box. I need the power supply, which should be arriving tomorrow, and then I’ll have everything. Maybe this weekend I’ll get around to setting it all up. Need to make up some coax with connectors too. I do worry that I’ll set it all up, fiddle about for an afternoon/evening and then get bored and move onto something else!

I go back and forth between learning to take the higher level exams, and looking into contests and other such things. I guess I’ll set it up and see how it all goes. I think I have a reasonable plan to cable it into the office, which would make it more comfortable to use, rather than sat outside or an ad-hoc setup in the kitchen.

I envy people who get into a hobby and stick with it for ages. I will touch on things, get obsessed, buy lots of stuff, then after a short period of time stop and move onto something else. I tell myself if I didn’t have to work, I’d have more time to do all these things.

I’m not that excited about the local radio club either. Maybe I need to give it more time but chatting to people online is just as useful to me so far. Other than borrowing equipment or having someone come and do something, I’m not really sure how useful it is.

My sister is staying with us and showed me her bullet journal. My goodness. It’s like those ones you see on instagram. It looks lovely, and her writing is beautiful, with fun stickers and drawings and all sorts.

Found out someone at work is doing a data science masters over about 5 years. I’ve thought about that. Not sure why though. Doing real projects is probably more useful, but if I wanted to stay in the same industry but switch roles, then a degree is seen as more relevant as that’s how companies whose business is not software dev think. Maybe? I also want to do it for me, and having that pressure means I’d do something. However, it’ll be time and money.

I’m feeling the need to refresh personal annual goals and desires for this year. Mostly as I’ve not really been doing anything? Feels that way anyway. Although not sure what I want to do. With my sister staying I’ve not been on the computer in the evening. Other than some occasional admin thing, I’ve not really wanted to go on. She leaves tomorrow, and I feel like I should capitalise on this - either some reading, writing, or making coax.

Wife’s grandpa passed away a few weeks ago, both went in a short space of time (<2 months), and we were at their house with family for a celebration. Now the clear out and house selling starts. We don’t have to do anything but it’s a weird situation of flipping from sadness to talking about who wants what furniture etc. from the house. Wife has asked about a writing bureau, which I quietly would very much like for us to get. We’ll see.

Wednesday, 12th April, 2023

This is quite amusing.

Generative agents wake up, cook breakfast, and head to work; artists paint, while authors write; they form opinions, notice each other, and initiate conversations; they remember and reflect on days past as they plan the next day

Be good for NPCs in games, and then make each playthrough a unique experience or perhaps learn from past playthroughs.

Tried to get ChatGPT to write an excel formula to convert a date string from “Thursday, February 14, 2019” format to dd/mmm/yyyy. It wrote a big formula but the part that extracts the day didn’t work. I kept telling it that it’s not right and it kept writing more and more complex formula but still didn’t work. Part of me suspects the problem is excel and some weird auto type detection.

Tuesday, 11th April, 2023

I took the M2 and 4 rolls of film on our easter holiday trip last week. Didn’t take a single frame. However, I did enjoy using the X-E4 with the 27mm pancake. I used that pretty much 95% of the time, with an occasional usage of the 50-230mm telephoto.

Sunday, 9th April, 2023

Happy Easter! 🐣🐰

Saturday, 8th April, 2023

So much for sitting and reading by the window overlooking the sea. Busy busy with the kids doing things.

Tried reaching the repeater in Belfast and south on the mainland but couldn’t. Need a better antenna. A good one is a magnetic mount for the roof of the car and then you get to use the metal of the car, although ours has a big sunroof across most of it, so not sure how well that would work.

Sunday, 2nd April, 2023

The act of writing out what I’ve been thinking about with ham radios really helped me. Yesterday’s rant made me realise the bleeding obvious. Get the G90, and get doing something. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve also decided upon an end-fed half wave (EFHW) antenna, it can attach to the railings on the balcony and then to some pole or whatever I can cobble together at the bottom of the garden. There’s enough space for the 40m band, which seems to be a very popular one. I’ve made a list of all the things I need and will buy them…soon! Reason being is were away for a bit and I don’t want stuff to arrive when we’re not here.

Going to the Isle of Arran. Weather appears unfortunate mid-week but it often has a micro-climate so potential to avoid the rain.

I’m debating about how much technology I should bring with me. I do enjoy time with minimal tech, but it can be hard too. I was considering taking my laptop with me, but I’m bad enough wasting time on the iPad let alone the laptop.

Going to take the handheld radio with me, see if I can hit the Northern Ireland repeater whilst next to the sea. Which reminds me I need to program the repeaters in. I tried my local repeater and I can hear it and it pips when I send a message but I never hear anything back. Now either no-one is replying or something is up with my radio. Today there was a lot of static after I called. Which makes me think someone is replying but I can’t hear. No idea what to do about it though. I’ve heard people talking on my radio before, so it functions, and I hear the pips from the repeater. So we’ll see what I can find.

I’m tempted to take my typewriter with me, but it’s not really practical and I’m not sure what I’m writing on it. Think I mostly want to take it because no-one expects it. I never have time for doing things myself, always entertaining the kids and busy. Perhaps in years to come where we go away to some cottage by the sea I can sit and type on it.

Then there’s cameras. I took some photos yesterday as it was the boys’ birthday party and that’s warmed me up to taking pictures again. It was digital and none of the images where that great, we were inside the skatepark place so the lighting was all over the place. I think I’ll take the M2, 35mm and some HP5 or whatever B&W I have. I should take it. It did make remember that I sold the 60mm fuji macro but never replaced it with anything. This means I don’t have a method to scan my film. I was debating between another macro lens or a dedicated scanner. Still not sure what I’d like best.

Fell down the rabbit hole of portable shortwave radios. But stopped as it seemed so many stations have gone off-air and are internet streaming only.

Saturday, 1st April, 2023

April fools day. Doesn’t need to be the 1st of April for me to be a fool.

I spending too much time looking at radios. It’s very reminiscent of looking at cameras. Evening after evening of forums, YouTube, and blog posts going from one to another to another and still not making any progress. Even considering not bothering at all. I just need to pick something or stop and do something else.

The logical choice is the Xiegu G90. It’s £400, the cheapest by far of any of them, even used ones. The only exception is if I can find someone locally selling something for mates rates, but that’s pot luck. It’s a 20W HF transceiver, has an antenna tuning unit it in, and a reasonable colour screen. I’d need to get a power supply to go with it, which is probably another £100. I can only use 10 W on my licence, and the next level is 50 W. The ATU lets you match the antenna if it’s not quite right - I’m thinking of end fed one in the garden, so ATU is useful. So it does everything I need and not at a great cost. I’m worried I’ll get it all setup then immediately be bored of it.

I don’t like its form factor. It’s a like a ream of paper, and the screen, whilst nice, seems too small to actually make use of the spectrum or whatever it has. Although it’s still quite small even if a funny shape.

Next up is another Xiegu, the X6100. It’s a portable one with built in battery. Does 10 W with external power supply but only 5 W from the battery. Has a much bigger screen for the spectrum/waterfall. Other people even make a new interface for it which you can load from a SD card. Has ATU too. It is about £550-600. I like the style of it but only 5 W on battery means I’d want to use an external power supply anyway. This could be a battery pack, so not a huge deal but feels like it defeats the point of the internal battery.

Then Yaesu ft-891. It’s more “ream of paper” shape but often comes up as a very good radio. Simple screen and “complex” menu system, so no waterfall, but 100 W and good radio filtering etc. qualities. No ATU and needs external power supply. Ream of paper in shape but I think smaller, so quite portable. Maybe £600 used.

Portable for me means, carrying it into back garden as I’m not sure I’m running coax all through the house to get from the antenna in the back garden to the office at the front of the house. Maybe in time I might but not just now. So I don’t want it to be this huge setup and faff to get to use it, as then I wont. Also I’d consider taking it on trips away.

Now for the ones I want…the Elecraft KX2. Very portable, but feature packed, with ATU, internal battery that it runs at 12 W with, high quality components, all sorts. Just it’s probably £1000+, can only import from USA (more cost in duties) and they currently have a 4 month waiting list.

Similar to it is the labs599 Discovery TX-500. This is milled aluminium and looks amazing. 10W, and no internal battery or ATU, but a very thin profile. No speaker either as it’s waterproof/resistant. It’s available now but £1200, and have to buy a power supply/battery.

The KX2 an TX-500 would be fine just now for my everything radio but if I got more serious would be the portable unit and then I’d get a proper home base station. Whereas the G90 would probably end up getting sold as floating between not that portable and not that great for home base station. But equally nothing wrong with buying it now and then selling it and getting soemthing else, particularly as I’m not sure if I’m really going to get into it.

Logically, it’s the G90. So why am I still deciding 😅

Friday, 31st March, 2023

Bought a new book today: “The Price of Money”. It’ll go live with the other books I’ve bought this year that I’m not sure when I’ll read. Non-fiction ones that I should pay attention to and read during the day, vs. Fiction stories for going to sleep to. We’re away for the Easter holidays so I should take some with me and read them but not sure I’ll really have time to sit and read. Also still want to make notes on them.

I did get a pack of A4 lined paper for writing on, and a ring binder to put them in.

Listening to podcasts about amateur radio now. A good summary of transceivers today “all modern radios are good. Pick one which has a nice dial or knob that you like”, also “waterfalls/spectrums are really nice to use”. Still can’t decide if I want to do this hobby at all, or is it just a passing fad. I sort of want to still progress the licence bands but I don’t know.

Some of the kids are ill and was up in the night, so I’m tired and that generally makes me less inclined to do anything.

Thursday, 30th March, 2023

I look at Morse code training sites and think “that would be cool” but am I really ever going to learn it? Having said that, so many people say how great it is to use morse.

I got a £20 amazon voucher from work as a little thank you from a colleague. I’m thinking of a mechanical pencil. Although I’m sure I have one/some somewhere.

Wednesday, 29th March, 2023

Got my bard invite today. Very clearly point out it might get stuff wrong and to hit the “Google it” button. It seems it’s not programmed to help with programming questions. I guess I have to use bing for that!

What can it do? Well it says “I can do things like summarize a long text, write an email, or even make a poem. Is there something else you would like to try?”

Monday, 27th March, 2023

I bought the three licence manuals from RSGB. I joined as a member and then you get a good discount on them. I’m keen to progress through the licence levels, mostly because I think it’s interesting and gives a sense of accomplishment. The foundation level (the first one in the UK), is pretty generous in what you can do and I could be forever content just to stick to it.

I’m reading the intermediate manual and it’s a nice read, but I am aware I need to start making some notes if I’m going to revise and pass the test. Somethings are “obvious” once you know the gist, some are formula and maths (which are my favourite as that’s easiest for me), and some are plain old statements you need to be able to recall in some fashion. I’ve thought about using index cards or anki app or a tiddlywiki. However, I should probably just do what I did at university and write notes on A4 paper. Although I do think spaced repetition is a good process and given it might be a while before I take the test, I should do it. Just need to figure out how best to sort myself out. Maybe take my regular paper notes and then make anki things. Maybe by section or chapter of the book? Index cards would link up nicely with anki but I don’t want a huge wadge of index cards.

I want the anki method so I can use the phone app so that instead of looking at crap on reddit or the internet, I can do some testing.

I’m procrastinating on it as I “don’t have any lined paper”. So therefore can’t possible write anything down. Even though we have loads of plain paper, a blank notebook or two, amazon, stealing a pad from work, etc….

People make amazing radio things.

A while ago I applied to a job but didn’t get it. Supposedly it was very close and the feedback was consistent with my afterthoughts of “I didn’t do much research, I wondered if it showed”. Their other parting comment was “next time wear a suit and tie”! (but also clarified that wasn’t part of the selection process). I told myself I wasn’t sure if I wanted the job or not anyway. It’s like when someone takes something away because you weren’t using it. “But I might in the future!” I also realised it’s a lot easier arrange to work on things you want to in your own company than join someone else and try it. Of course what you want to do has to be somewhat related to work and adding value.

Oh I forgot the Anki mobile app is £25. Which is fine, and I’ve wasted more than that on many other things, but just not an immediate install.

Sunday, 26th March, 2023

I look a new raspberry pi related things and am tempted to buy them. Yet I have a box full of raspberry pi related things I’ve done nothing with. Although this time it’s different.

Saturday, 25th March, 2023

Feels like I’ve fallen off the wagon on pretty much everything. Haven’t taken a photo since 25th February, digital or film. Don’t think I’ve taken a film photo since New Year’s. Haven’t developed a roll of film since November. DayOne family journal entries have been few and far between and when I do it’s a sentence at best. It doesn’t really matter but it does disappoint me.

Friday, 24th March, 2023

Ugh it’s raining a lot and I didn’t bring my waterproofs for the bike ride home. Wearing jeans too 😩

I decided I really like the Elecraft KX2. Then I see it has a 16 week waiting list. Although at my pace that’ll be about the time I actually setup an antenna. All paths lead back to a Xiegu G90 as a good value, good quality and functionality HF radio. It gets good reviews, with only the downside being poor manual, but the internet can make up for that. Brand new it’s cheaper than many semi-equivalent traditional brand radios. It is only 20W but I’d have to upgrade my license to get more and if I do that then I’m likely to be more committed. I just really like the form factor of the KX2.

The parts for the G4 mac mini arrived last week and have just been sat on my desk. I should install, or figure out how to, mac os 9. and then leave it sat somewhere else for ages.

I never realised, but people who do morse (CW) often use dual paddle keyers, where they can use thumb and first finger to get a good rhythm and motion between letters. Watching a good CW’er is mesmorising.

Wednesday, 22nd March, 2023

March has nearly gone too.

I thought the world of film photography and development was full of options and choices. I feel it is dwarfed by the options and choices in amateur radio. I think they both have a similar type of magic though. Film, when you see that picture develop; radio, when you hear that voice (or morse or digital mode).

I did order some coax, cables and other bits and pieces. I’ve changed antenna design in my head about six times and still don’t know exactly what I’m going to do. Part of it is about experimenting with different designs within the limits of your garden. I think I want to start with something subtle in the garden. Maybe just a run along the wall or on the side of the house, before I start trying to string things up in the air. It’s unfortunate I don’t have a convenient tree at the bottom of the garden, as that would be the obvious choice and likely an antenna that most wouldn’t even notice. Watching videos of people doing things and it seems just about anything can work. The other tricky part is getting the coax cable into the house so that I connect it to the transceiver. Probably to start it’ll just be through a window or door, but long term it would be nice to have it piped to the office, or at least garage.

Speaking of transceiver, no idea what I’m getting there. Mostly don’t want to spend too much just yet. Every evening a friend and I have been talking about what to get and what antenna to setup and we end the evening having read a thousand websites and watched a thousand videos and feel exhausted from it. Occasionally going “maybe let’s just not bother”. The trouble is, there doesn’t seem to be much in the £300 price range. There are some older models out there but seems so hit and miss. All ebay listings are “for parts or not working” as it seems the common scam is to buy one, rip out or fiddle with the insides, and return as “broken” for ebay to side with the scammer. However, it means there’s no recourse for actual non-functioning radios. I’ve yet to find the UK forum of used gear. So then you go to a dealer but now every 80s radio is £500 minimum. Might as well buy a new one for £650 but now that’s much more than I wanted to spend…!

And so the evening cycle continues.

Monday, 20th March, 2023

AI is going to get real now with the upcoming integration into Office. The thousands of people doing every day work things should now get (assuming people know what to do and it works) much more useful work done and have AI do all the crap that comes with doing work.

People have made some amazing tools related to amateur radio. This guy, k6tu, has an incredible website that calculates your high frequency propagation range based upon solar activity, antenna design, location and generates nice pdfs of world maps every hour of the day.

Why have a blog?

Friday, 17th March, 2023

Not got round to writing much recently. Got a free trial to Diablo 4 beta. I know it’ll be the same as all the rest.

Keep looking at antennas to build but do nothing about them. I should at least buy the cable so if the mood takes me I can build it one day.

Money has a value you can attach to it. It’s impossible to quantify the value of strong relationships in your life. Ben Carlson

GPT in the shell., together with GPT in the VS Code.

Tuesday, 14th March, 2023

I seem to be in a much better mood today, so that’s always nice. That’s even with the little one waking up at 3am wanting a cuddle, and me not getting back to sleep and reading for an hour. I’m always torn between trying to go back to sleep and risk lying there awake thinking of all sorts of things, and reading my kindle so as to not think about stuff and become sleepy but risk being awake longer as I’m gripped by the book.

I read, and I think that’s the best of the options. I’m on the second trilogy of the Realm of the Enderlings books. I can’t get into it though and keep wishing for the characters in the previous trilogy. I’m sure once I work my way into it more I’ll be okay, but it is tempting to skip to another set of books in the series about characters I know.

Chatting to my friend about amateur radio (who just got licensed like me) and we go between not knowing why things work, not knowing why various boxes are needed, to building new antenna and buying transceivers all the way back to just closing the can of worms and ignoring it altogether.

It feels like a weekend project to get started, but I never have a weekend.

Trying to organise a date with my local radio friend I just met. He’s been on the air 40 years and couldn’t meet this week as he is taking part in a 80m CW contest. CW means morse code, and 80m means a huge antenna! He’s also recommending I try morse….maybe one impossible thing at a time.

Working Copy added the ability to generate commit descriptions using AI. Wonder what it’ll say when I try it for this blog!

My mum had a session with the department for work and pensions, well a subcontractor they use, to determine if she is still eligible for the benefits she gets. She had a stroke about 9 years ago and has since not been able to work. She would love to work and misses it. Also doesn’t help she spends a lot of time alone at home. Last time she had this assessment she has to take the government to court as they refused and also blatantly lied and falsified reports. I need to call her this evening and see how it went but she was dreading it for weeks. The subcontractor gets paid by the number of people they get off benefits, and I suspect they’re not accountable to anyone, so you can see the problem. My mother is a medical professional - nurse, midwife, theatre staff - so knows what’s what in medical terms. Goodness knows how people manage who don’t know all this.

Monday, 13th March, 2023

Spent a while messing with the new (to me) G4 mac mini. Installed the RAM upgrade, taking it from 256 MB to 1 GB. Cleaned out two dead spiders and some dust and have left it open ready for when the IDE to mSATA and mSATA drive arrive.

I wasted an age trying to figure out why the internet wasn’t working on it. At first I thought it was DNS, as I could ping websites and dig worked. Then I actually read what the browser was telling me and realised it was https that was the problem. After quite a while of searching I finally found out that OS X 10.3 only has old TLS certificates and so modern https sites won’t work. I tried finding a http site, which was quite hard, to verify, and sure enough that is the case. Like most computer problems, someone has already solved it. This looks like a potential solution to it. Essentially, route the internet via another computer first, but this adds a little extra in that it makes the web site into a series of images. This is because a lot of sites need javascript and that probably won’t work on old browsers that you have to run on old operating systems.

Particularly important if I’m going to install OS 9 on it. As I said, I wasted a lot of time on that.

I was exceptionally grumpy this morning at work. Hopefully I didn’t offend anyone. Not exactly sure why, although my radio beeping at 4am wouldn’t have helped.

Saturday, 11th March, 2023

My parents are staying and have to leave a day early. Notice how I’m not saying unfortunately.

The Mac mini arrived and worked. Looks like the guy was using it as his machine and just deleted files but left all his software. Imagine using it as your main computer still! Running Mac OS Panther. Currently gouging out the underside trying to get it open to upgrade the RAM.

Friend and I are trying to decide what HF (high frequency, 3-30 MHz) transceiver to buy. It feels like picking a camera. No single one is perfect and they all have trade offs and differing prices. I’m also aware of myself thinking “but what if I need to do xyz with it?!”. I suspect the same number of times I’ve done portrait sessions and sports photography.

The transceiver is probably the easiest part. What antenna to build is the tricker one. Although they’re much much cheaper in comparison so probably should just pick one and start with it and then try another.

Need to order a msata to IDE PATA 44 pin adapter to put a ssd in the G4 mini. I think the msata is a different size to the nvmes I have, it certainly looks smaller. The 2280 or 2820 or whatever those numbers are.

Thursday, 9th March, 2023

Found some RAM for the G4 mac mini on ebay, I’m currently the winning bidder at 99p! Two sticks of 1 GB, so I’ll have a spare. I should look into the IDE/mSATA adapater stuff too, as I suspect it’ll be an order from aliexpress and take 3 weeks from China to arrive.

Went into the office today and my hands were freezing cycling in, even with my ski gloves on. My pinky still felts a bit funny a couple of hours later.

Wednesday, 8th March, 2023

Another day working at home.

Spent ages looking at amateur radio stuff. End up with about 100 tabs open and read and watch lots of things but still feel no further forward with knowing anything.

Won a Mac mini G4 on eBay. £25. Plan to install Mac OS 9 on it for some classic mac. Maybe upgrade it or just leave as is. Seems like there are SSD options via a ATA IDE to m2 pci msata adapter in the size of a 2.5” drive. Although Mac OS 9 can only handle up to about 190 GB, so a 128 GB one will be fine and likely super cheap. Just so it’s not super slow from the ancient mechanical hard drive. It can go up to 1 GB RAM and comes with 256 but feel like I can manage without that. I’ll look at the price and if it’s really cheap then I will but if it’s some odd old size that’s £30 to upgrade then it’s not worth it.

It’ll probably turn into a once and done project but there we go. Will need to buy a CD-R as I assume I can’t boot from a USB? Have to look into that.

Tuesday, 7th March, 2023

What a lot of snow today! ☃️ That was unexpected.

I’ve found a new ham radio friend via a work colleague’s husband. He’s been doing this for over 40 years! I dropped him an email and he’s replied and offered all sorts of help and advice. I want to go to the local meetup but it’s not at a great time for me. Maybe I can sort that out soon. Otherwise he’s invited me to his house to see all his setup. I’ll try and act cool and not reveal the exorbitant number of hours I’ve read forums and watched youtube videos (yet still don’t understand anything)!

Thinking of HF (high frequency), like 10m/28 MHz, as it seems the solar winds and sunspots or whatever are such that transmission across the Earth is really good at the moment. People with small radios in the UK reaching America, Australia, Argentina, all sorts. I think that would be fun.

PCBWay emailed me, having noticed my blog 😘, offering to sponsor a PCB or 3D print for the next project, with the return of offering a review to them. Ah if only they knew how few people I reach 😅. But a free PCB is not to be sneezed at. Have to see what I want to do…wondering if I could use someone else’s PCB and upload it for another project…

Monday, 6th March, 2023

Best save up and wait for the M3 macs. Also gives me time to work out why I need it.

Spent a while thinking of building a new computer or a raspberry pi arrangement in the shell of an old mac, like a Macintosh Plus, or buying some Power mac G4 to run Mac OS 9. However, I then asked myself why and whilst it would be fun for a brief moment, I’d end up with more junk that wasn’t really that useful. Think I still have a winning bid on something but I won’t be upping it if someone else out bids me.

I do have fond memories of Mac OS 9. My family didn’t have a mac but some of my friends at school did and we played a lot of Warcraft 3 and other games together. I found the interface so amazing compared to the Windows 3.11 I’d used or the Acorn whatever we had at school. The computers were priced far out of reach for us at the time. I enjoy the memories of it, and seeing the distinct styling of mac os back then really brings those memories to the front of my mind. However, to use it today as a computer, there’s no point. It probably can’t do things I need it to, and everything is just harder. Maybe if there was some specific piece of software that I wanted to use which was no longer available then maybe…i think if I came into owning a vintage mac for free or very little cost, I’d put in some effort, but to spend >£100 on it seems dumb. Spending £1,500 on a new mac however….😅

If I want a quick nostalgia experience then there’s https://macos9.app/ and if I’m more serious and have a modern mac then there’s emulation. Or there’s a variety of themes for GNOME that I can use to replicate it.

Love this issue comment.

Saturday, 4th March, 2023

Volunteered (by my wife) for the playgroup fair today. I was on face painting duty with a granny. My! that was an intense 2½ hours! We did about 70 faces between us for kids aged 2-8. I had prepared some print offs for the kids to chose from, all of them were pretty good, except the unicorn. That was the one I spent the longest over trying to find something that was too hard, or wouldn’t look weird if I didn’t it get perfect. I settled for a small unicorn on the cheek with rainbow - it didn’t look that bad…I did three of them but they weren’t that great. However, everyone seemed to like it and we brought in a good amount of money for the charity. Another mum brought me cups of tea and I only stood up when it was over!

I know I like the idea of using Tinderbox more than I probably will (remember last time…circa January 2022)…It is very much a tool I’d like to use. I like software that you can build systems and tools out of. I reckon it could solve every problem, and I’d love to get stuck right into it and become one of those forum knowitalls who can offer advice or the seven ways OP could solve their problem in Tinderbox. However, I think I’m 10 years too late to the party and have found other ways that work on the computers I already have. Or maybe I should spend my time learning something that can be used in lots of places. Like django or javascript or some other programming language/framework.

Friday, 3rd March, 2023

Took huge amounts of stuff to a charity store to donate today. They didn’t take books, but we only had one box of those, but got rid of so much other stuff. Bliss 🥳 I might try one of these online book buying places just to get rid of them. Don’t care if they give me 10p a book, just want rid!

Bought some stickers and notebook for my sister’s birthday next week. Have to resist the temptation to keep them for myself! They’re quite feminine so maybe I won’t but I choose them as I liked them, so never say never.

Might even write a “real” blog post today.

I want to do something different, but it’s hard breaking the habit. 🌐🕸🎮🤖💻🖱️💽🦾🖥️⌨️💾👨‍💻👩‍💻🧑‍💻📶📱🤳

Wow! A letter and photo every day]! I notionally said I’d do one a week and have yet to make even one.

Absolutely want to use Tinderbox. (watch it at 1.25x speed!)

I’m debating removing comments and search from this site. I don’t think they’re necessary. I’ve had one comment in the whole time and the search isn’t that great. I’ve thought about trying to fix it but never got round to it. If I want to search, I can use VS Code, where I mostly write this, but I’m also considering importing the notes into a new Tiddlywiki. I have a json file that jekyll builds which I should be able to import straight into TW. I might just try it now…

It works pretty well!

Thursday, 2nd March, 2023

I like looking at pictures of other people’s shelves.

Bought Discourses, Fragments, and Handbook by Epictetus, for some good life thinking.

Day off tomorrow. What shall I waste it on 😅

Wednesday, 1st March, 2023

Some at work who I really like and have worked for before said they’re going to have a new position in their team. I want to do it, but I’ve only just taken on other responsibilities which I don’t think people will be best pleased if I ask to move. I sure wouldn’t be if I was the boss.

March now. An observation, not a command. I’ve got lots of things I could do but not sure what to do.

Tuesday, 28th February, 2023

Scott Scheper’s free trial is quite the page. Reminds me of 90s TV sales commercials. “Buy this for $29.99 and save $1,000s” [vs a made up number by me]

Finished the 3rd book in the first trilogy of the Realm of the Enderlings, the Farseer trilogy. I enjoyed them and would recommend if you like a nice fantasy book ala Game of Thrones/Wheel of Time. The only thing is that I read way too late into the night as they’re page turners. Going to start the next series now.

Installed Jupyter hub on my server as a place to have little python scripts and notebooks live. I wanted to use Google Colab so then there was nothing to maintain, but it’s a bit slow and annoying.

My wife had a online training class this evening, so I was going to read a book. However, I opened up the laptop to “just do this one thing” and now here we are at 10pm and I should go to bed having read nothing.

Annoyingly that tiny keyboard I sold on ebay hasn’t arrived and the buyer is hassling me. I bought cheap postage so the tracking only shows anything when it arrives and probably the insurance will be next to nothing. Royal Mail are generally reliable so I’ve been lulled into going cheap with them. I feel like if we just wait then it’ll eventually arrive but I suspect the buyer will hit up ebay for a refund pretty soon. Oh well.

Not sure a 60 year old 50mm f/2.8 manual lens is really worth £350+, not to me anyway.

1/6th of the year gone. 🕝

Monday, 27th February, 2023

I did find an export of my old tiddlywiki journal at work! 🥳 I’ve extracted the journal entries from it and added them to this site. Took a little while of fiddling around with strftime to get all the dates and titles correct. Then some manual effort to convert wiki text links to markdown links. I’m sure there’s some regex find and replace I could’ve used but thought it would take me just as long to figure out that as it would be to go through all the files manually….which is because it was only 38 entries from August and September 2021. So I’m still missing March - April 2022 which I think was a brief spell back in tiddlywiki after setting this site up.

I’ll keep looking to see if I saved it somewhere safe…but it’s nice to have aggregated some old entries at least.

Sold some junk on ebay which is nice and the money soon adds up to a surprising amount. Now do I buy things or just enjoy having fewer objects. The money will get spent on whatever either way. On the one hand, it’s nice to have discrete sell/buy transactions. I can tell myself that the thing was free as I sold other stuff. However…

Things are needy. They take up space. they want attention, and they will drive you mad if you let them

  • Ruth Ozeki, The book of Form and Emptiness

Is it better to just be less?

Or buy more books!

Sunday, 26th February, 2023

It annoyed me, not being able to find that journal tiddler json file. It might be on my work computer…so I’ll see tomorrow. I was all setup to write the script and make it work last night, and then I didn’t know what do to, and so wasted the whole evening looking at nothing online. I did start playing a game, Omori, that is supposed to have an outstanding story. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood but it was boring and a chore.

A very busy day today. Did have some nice weather at the beach, it felt remarkably warm. Then the clouds came in and it was chilly again.

Still debating about selling the cameras. The eBay promo ends tonight (although will be back in 2 weeks no doubt) so have to decide this evening. Probably keeping them. Especially the TLR as it’s quite unique, not specifically unique, but most people haven’t seen one, whereas the SLR looks like a modern camera but older.

It’s tiring listing things to sell! Always so much easier to buy 😅 Keeping some of the film stuff, for now. Enough other bits and bobs for sale to look after for the time being.

MY wife moved all my Terry Pratchett books into the shelves in the office. Fills them out nicely and looks nice as they’re nearly all the same size. Meant the bookcase on the landing has more space for her or the kids books.

People leave book reviews on Goodreads to books they’ve not read? They’re not even subtle about having not read the book. Makes the site even more pointless.

Saturday, 25th February, 2023

Did a lot of driving back and forth between places this morning for kids activities. Thought about several things I wanted to write about. Now I can’t remember any of them.

Listing the old textbooks on ebay is pretty easy, you can scan the bar code and it knows the book. Whether or not anything sells will remain to be seen. Guess I’ll list my wife’s old SE with the broken screen. I’m sure someone will buy it for the right price. People who do random projects and need lots of iPhones or perhaps reckon they can fix it up cheap. Still not sure about selling the other film stuff. I’d sell it so that I could get a 50mm M lens, and then it feels like I’m trading in unused things for something I’ll use, plus getting rid of clutter. Each item on its own isn’t worth that much but probably all in would be enough to get a 50mm elmar collapsible for example. However, I do quite like the idea of making them into decorations in the office. Single floating shelves stacked on one another with the TLR and the SLR on it. They’re vintage looking and would make a nice feature.

I was thinking about ways to make this site and what I write more discoverable. I.e. for me to read old posts. I like photos.app and DayOne’s “on this day”, you just see a little snippet back in time. I could either do soemthing like add a link in posts to older ones based upon date, I’m some some templating logic could figure that out. Or have a script run that emails me the contents of a previous year’s day. The email one would make me actually read it but the on the site version might lead me to “look around” some more. I could load all the entries into tiddlywiki and use that to look about.

Speaking of which, I’ve still not imported my old TW journal entries from March/April last year. I extracted them in a json file and put it somewhere safe to process later. I just hope I can find this safe space that I put them.

Keep thinking about a M2 Mac Mini, but erugh, I don’t need another machine. I keep thinking about it for the unique software that only seems to show up on mac, like Tinderbox. I then started thinking about a new iMac. It could live in my writing area but be neat and tidy. However, again, I don’t need another machine. The weekend always makes me think of it as everyone is using all the machines and I’m left with my iPad. In someways it’s nice as then I just write in DayOne or 1Writer for this entry. Or I even start to open a book and read it. Read the Preface to “Astrophysics for people in a hurry” by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Then I stopped as I worried about taking notes and I don’t have anything to write on. Which is literally a lie as within arm’s reach is a packet of 3x5” index cards…but those are “too small” and I don’t have a box and probably the phase of the moon is wrong and I’m not wearing the right pair of trousers…what am I like. 🙈

But yeh…an iMac would be nice…although the M1 iMac is old and I’m sure a M2 model must be due soon. Not that I’m getting one but if I did, then it makes sense to wait.

Typically, I can’t find the json tiddlywiki extract of the journal entries I was going to import into here.

After joining the Leica Society in summer last year, it just occured to me that I’ve never recieved a magazine from it. They’re all available online but would be nice to have a hard copy. I’ve downloaded the ones I’ve missed and emailed them about it.

Friday, 24th February, 2023

Finally finished that job application. It made me appreciate my current job more by having to think about the things I’ve done and responsible for. Out of my hands now, so will just see what happens. I guess a good situation to be in.

This is an interesting podcast episode about the energy transition.

I’m never sure how best to share podcast episodes? If they have their own website then that’s fine but otherwise what? Spotify, Apple, Google? Do podcasts have to have their own location or can people directly upload to a provider? Never really looked into it. Also not going to.

It’s amazing how quickly my nice tidy and clean office becomes messy again.

I’ve got a fair few things to sell on ebay…better get taking photos and writing listings…

Thursday, 23rd February, 2023

I enjoyed watching George Ezra walk from Land’s End of John O’Groats. Particularly the midge at Loch Lomond, as I’ve had some terrible experiences there with those bloody flies. Starting itching all over when I saw it 😅

Made me want to go outside and enjoy the world and nature.

I’ve started buying a couple of books every so often, mostly used, to read, or at least to have the option of reading at some point. I had this funny logic about buying things, where I’d think a £8 book was a waste of money, and then drop £500 on a lens. So I’m trying to change that by not buying lenses I don’t really need, but instead spend a fraction of the money on books. I also like selling random things on ebay, even for £10-15, and then buying 1-2 books with the proceeds. I’m converting useless junk into knowledge.

Not that I’ve read anything yet.

Had my first bubble tea last night. Daughter’s birthday and she wanted one, having no doubt seen various people on YouTube drink them. We had dirty milk and tapioca. Was quite large, and also expensive (although I don’t buy coffee from starbucks etc. so maybe it’s “normal” prices), and had an interesting taste. Not sure I’d want a whole one myself. It’s quite a fun drink and maybe better than getting a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Faffed about all evening meaning to write my job application but instead spent it chatting to a friend, then at 11pm I decided I’d start working on it. 🤷‍♂️

Wednesday, 22nd February, 2023

I could’ve told them that. Good to see real results though. Another ebay seller’s fee discount this weekend, so now to rummage around the house and see what I can sell. Going to try a bunch of the uni textbooks but I feel they might be hard work to shift.

Tuesday, 21st February, 2023

I’ve literally just sold my cool but useless Sweep keyboard, but I’m already eyeing another ridiculous board. Building is fun, but I know I’ll absolutely never use it.

My goodness I do really waste so much time. It’s also amazing how I think I’m really efficient and have loads of great ideas and could do anything etc. etc. The reality is I don’t really get much done and I never act on these ideas.

I’m all ready to read books and make notes to learn from them. Have I started? no. Will I? Maybe eventually…🙄

I’m keen to FIRE so I can do what I want, but I wonder if I would really do anything? I often do most extra stuff at work as it’s (and now I have to be brutally honest to myself) because I want to show off about “how good I am”. But if no-one cares or they don’t understand what it takes and therefore won’t react as much, then I just don’t bother and leave it as a forever todo item. I worry that with no-one there to care why would I do any of the things I think I’d do. However, I’m still optimistic that I would do the things as I’d be driven by avoiding boredom and not trying to start things after a full day of work.

Never mistake activity for achievement. – John Wooden

What a great read.. Still makes me want to use Tinderbox. To write this stuff in but have it in a contained app that doesn’t rely on the internet to work. Although single developer, closed source apps worry me. I guess it would just keep working forever is Mark suddenly vanished, maybe he has a backup plan, and no doubt someone has asked over the past 20 years.

I’m meant to be applying to a job I’ve seen. I’ve got until the end of the week when it closes. But I can’t decide if I actually want it. Do I want it to show that I could get another job? Am I really not happy with my current role? Would this one be any better? Where do I want to be in 10 years? Is it easier to shape what I do in my current company where I know everyone and everything? Is the grass always (ever?) greener? I suppose I should just give up one evening and apply and then see what happens. Even if I did get an interview then I still don’t have to decide today.

Sunday, 19th February, 2023

Sorting out books on various shelves about the house. Lots of university textbooks that I don’t need and will never look at. They’re a pain to sell though and I can’t be bothered to take them some place to give away.

I got Firefly iii and data importer setup - no data in it yet. I think if I put in the time with the rules and such, and importing from my banks’ CSVs it should be okay. However, I’m not sure I really want to do all this though. It calls itself “double-entry bookkeeping”, but as soon as I started looking into credit cards in it then it quickly diverged as that’s what the creator wanted to do. It also has a lot of stuff I don’t care about.

I currently use MoneyDashboard which links to my accounts, categorises itself (or I can override with the phone app) and displays graphs etc. I really like it for expense categorisation, and generally it learns well. It’s handy having the app on my phone to periodically check what’s going on and set the categories. I don’t find the graphs particularly useful, although I’m not sure I’ve spent much time looking at them. Mostly what I do is export all the transactions to a csv and then do a pivot table on them in Excel. I write down the monthly summary into my master Google Sheets Money file and leave it at that. When I get round to it, I’ll look at a month and sort by amount and remember what we bought. To be honest, that is probably enough for me. I have a category that I put all my buying and selling against, to try and keep an eye on it, and encourage me to sell more stuff if I buy things.

Sometimes I think I want the ability to add more tags or meta data to transactions. I’m not super attentive on categories, and a lot of things just go under Shopping, when strictly speaking it could be for the car, or kids or gifts etc. but it’s more hassle to figure it out than it’s worth. I guess I could keep a saved copy of the transactions somewhere, and maybe tidy them up or add a few notes, or meta data. This is what I used beancount for before, but I wonder if I just add another tab in Google sheets and paste them in there. I’ve had the same Sheet since 3rd December 2010 and it hasn’t failed me. Google has a nice Query formula which I can use to generate the tables. I think it’ll be a lot faster than Firefly or some other thing.

I waste so much time.

Saturday, 18th February, 2023

I never figured out what note taking app to use at work yesterday. Thinking about Tiddlywiki but still Onenote. OneNote is boring and walled, but I’m at work so why does that matter? It’s good for screenshotting stuff people show during teams meetings too.

Want to clear out all my camera stuff that I don’t use and get rid of the clutter. Maybe it’ll be enough to get a Leica 50mm lens, which would be satisfying. In fact, what I should do this afternoon, whilst the kids are out at a birthday party, is tidy the office and line things up to sell/get rid of.

Also thinking about setting up plain text accounting again. Beancount and fava…although not sure it helps achieve me understanding where the money is spent?

Spent the past 90 minutes tidying and sorting out the office. Oh it feels so much better now. Many things just went back where they were, but at least I got to dust and clean the surfaces. I’ve cleared the camera shelf. It’s now just the M2, X-E4 and one Fuji lens. The rest is in a box on a shelf under the desk. So not far away to get but out of the way. They don’t look that great on the shelf and get dusty. I also think it’ll help me avoid decisions as unless I need a specific lens then probably the one I have on the shelf is good enough. Does make me question if I need the M mount 50mm…of course I don’t need it…but do I get one? Again, I think a cheap-ish one would be nice to have as an option.

The shelf is 80% empty, and I’ve put a few books on it that I got for Christmas that have just sat on the desk since then. I could move some of my other books that are on book cases about the houses here, or maybe just leave them and have it as an incentive to buy some more 🤓

I tidied the kids pokemon cards into a box on the ground level shelves. This makes the shelves look a look tidier too, plus they can get them easier now. I have cleared my little writing spot, and I’m sat here now typing this on the ipad and it’s very enjoyable. I could do with a couple of i-device chargers in a couple of places across the desk top, so things have a home to charge. Unless I get one of those multi device charger stations for in here. We have one in the kitchen for family devices but maybe I should get one here for extra stuff.

I even managed to clear out some cables from the cable box.

Maybe it’s just fooling myself as a lot of things are still here just in a box somewhere out of sight. But i feel better, so who cares.

Now that I have my writing desk area back, I’m thinking about the note taking/book reading I’d promised myself I’d do. Still not sure about paper vs. Computer. Also notebook vs. Loose leaf pages. Perhaps a little index box to write and add things into? (Or bit bigger than index) but I worry that it just ends up being another thing I have to find a home for. I suppose I could just write onto A4 paper and put in a binder. Like I used to do at university. I didn’t fuss or care about pens and paper and notebooks back then. I bought a huge stack of narrow lined A4 paper and I had a Parker fountain pen and just wrote notes.

I’m sure my membership to the Leica society should’ve got me a magazine by now.

Friday, 17th February, 2023

I’m very good at thinking about all the things I’m going to do, and how they’re going to be of great impact and importance. However, when I sit down to do them…not much really happens. If I look in the box then I’ll know the cat is dead, but if I never look then who knows…

I wish this was my career.

Thinking more about that FIRE interview yesterday and how much money the couple had and it made me wonder where all our money goes. I track it but I’m not understanding it. It was something I said I’d do a better job of in 2023. Part of me wants to blame the fact I don’t have a good notes system and therefore how can I possible do this until I sort that out. But I know this is a lame excuse…even if I keep repeating it to myself.

Another thing I wondered was that they didn’t seem to have much money outside of the pension - which they can’t get until they’re 57, so I didn’t really understand that part. Probably a few quick sums could sort that. An obvious win for them is having no mortgage.

I hope to stop having the requirement to work by the time I’m 50. I may choose still to work but be nice not to. Sooner than that seems hard to achieve at the moment. I do worry I’m just counting down my life to get there.

I’m making myself insane with being unable to make a decision. I have logseq, Obsidian, tiddlywiki, onenote and vs code installed with the idea being to decide between them on where to keep notes for work. I’ve been using logseq for about a year but I don’t like writing in daily notes and then trying to link/find things by tags. I usually don’t get it right and then finding stuff is a pain. I don’t have that many things I need to make notes on so I think having a list of about 10 files which I put everything into would work better for me. However, I can’t decide where. I’ve even considered a spreadsheet to put things in.

Think I did this last year. I’ll use something for about a year but then maybe not organise it well or look after it and I can get away with that for a year but then it becomes too annoying to use.

I think I should use onenote as then I can more easily hand stuff over to other people? It’s simple too. I can also use other people’s onenotes or have shared notes with Teams. Ugh, I hate to use it but I think it’s probably more sensible for work.

Thursday, 16th February, 2023

The ebay buyer hasn’t paid after I accepted their offer. Now maybe they’d gone to bed and are at work and will do it this evening but it does only take 2 minutes on your phone to do it. They’re an established ebay user so don’t think they’re going to try any funny business. I have had people buy things and then never pay and never respond to anything. No actual harm comes but it’s just annoying and I have to relist and start again. I also only list during ebay seller’s fees promos, else you lose too much, so I’ll have to wait.

Hilarious examples of Bing AI.. Also reminded me of Simon’s blog design and how I liked the layout of daily notes and blog posts side by side.

Interesting interview of a pretty regular person FIRE-ing in the UK.

The buyer paid! So the lux will be off to the post office tomorrow. It was fun and the lens is very nice but no way can I justify it. I do still want a 50mm for the M2. Perhaps a more vintage Leica or Canon or maybe a modern Voigtlander. I think sometime in the region of 10-20% of the lux price is more what I’m looking for. I kick myself as I used to own a Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM lens when I had a Canon 7. Sold the camera and lens for less than what the lens goes for now. Guess that’s a common finding for most film related things over the past few years.

I installed Obsidian at work, and I can use OneDrive to sync it between my work and home computer. I need to spend some time to migrate my logseq notes across else I’m managing two locations and then it’s even more of a mess. I just never get round to doing stuff like this…I’ll save it for a Friday but I think I save too much for a Friday and then do nothing else.

Tempted to play around with Concord and see what it really looks like when hosted.

Wednesday, 15th February, 2023

Wanted to make a note of a key project achievement at work today. Spent ages debating between Logseq, tiddlywiki, Obsidian or some yet to be found software in which to do it. Plus various configuration options or arrangements that I could do in structuring the information. Should I add tags or meta data, make a table, new pages, sub-bullets etc. etc.

I’ve still not written it down.

Tuesday, 14th February, 2023

This gal makes an effort to avoid big tech and tracking. It’s neat you can still get most out of technology without having to give everything away, but it sure is hard.

Did find this nice laptop company via him though, for linux laptops with open bios etc.

Someone asked a question about the Lux. I was hopeful it would end in a sale, but so far all quiet.

Was off last two days, and tomorrow at work I’ll have no idea what day it’ll be.

I like this article about ChatGPT.

Think of ChatGPT as a blurry JPEG of all the text on the Web.

It generates output that is believable, but not necessarily correct. I don’t think most people realise this. I don’t think I realised this. Someone (I forget where I saw it) found that it was producing references of scientific papers that looked legit but were, in fact, entirely made up. The doi URLs weren’t real and nor were the people or paper titles. The author challenged ChatGPT on what it had done and effectively the machine just shrugged its shoulders and said “I did what I was told”.

I see Kodak is going to raise prices again on the 1st March, on average 20% across its stock. 😔

Sunday, 12th February, 2023

Selling some bits on eBay as it’s a promo weekend. Sold the keyboard I built for mostly what I paid for it. I sort of didn’t want to sell it but I’m also never going to learn to use it. I just don’t have the time or the need.

Thursday, 9th February, 2023

Wife’s phone got broken, so now we need to get a new one. She’s not keen on anything bigger than the SE 2020 she had, which pretty much rules out most options, the minis or another SE. Haven’t really looked into the Minis previously, they do have FaceID which is nice. We went for a refurb iPhone 12 mini, seemed like a good balance, plus it comes in purple.

I can’t find a use for the Hobonichi. I took it to work but I just use my plain notebook for everything so I don’t need another, I don’t want to track todos separately. I could write what I did or learnings or reflections etc. in it but don’t.

Wednesday, 8th February, 2023

DayOne opened up with web client. I’ve not tried it yet but it does mean I can (assuming it all works and remains accessible to those on a grandfathered tier) add to it from any computer anywhere. That’s quite nice. I have had the thought of one day getting an iMac for the kitchen as a “family” computer, and then encouraging everyone to write in the DayOne journal their perspectives on the day. I guess I don’t need to buy that iMac now.

Still collecting Microsoft Reward points. Got it down into a good routine now. This week’s Game Pass quest involves a non-cloud play game. This is annoying as it means I have to install it on the crappy Xbox I have. 46 GB to play it for 5 minutes to do the stupid quest. Oh well, it’s installing. Daughter came in and asked what was I doing and why. She left with “as if we need this.”.

I can’t control other people. Especially the management at work. I know that I should therefore spend zero energy getting annoyed with what goes on. I keep telling myself this, but this is also me spending energy on it. I have to be careful not to be snarky all the time, else it’ll become who I am. Recognition is a double edged sword, be careful what one wishes for.

My 50mm came back today. I was expecting it to be ages. They couldn’t get a new hood, and so just secured the current one back on and tried to clean it up a bit. Meant it was free for me, but I was hoping it would be like new again. I was pretty set on selling it, but now it’s still not perfect. Although that shouldn’t stop me from trying to sell it. It’s quite expensive, and I’m not sure I’ve ever tried to sell something that much before. Ideally, it would be via the photography forum here in the UK but I suspect the audience is small. Unfortunately I think ebay is my best bet. There is a 80% off sellers fees this weekend, so maybe good timing. I just need to make sure I clear photograph and describe it. I think I’ll be much happier with either no 50mm, or picking up a third party one, Voigtlander for example. Right now I’m not that interested in taking photos so I’ve hardly used any camera so far this year.

I was reading the boys a fact book about space. I suggested we could take photos of the moon and then look at them on the computer and see what details we can see. They were keen for that. I then wondered if I needed a new lens 😅

I’m trying not to make an eleventy site now.

How many times am I going to say I need to tidy this office before I actually do it. Also needs dusting too. I have three desktop towers under my desk, a usb-c ThinkPad dock, two monitors, microphone, headphones, keyboard, mouse and an incomprehensible number of cables between them all. Then a few cables for this and that, like connecting the camera, or charging the mouse, or connecting the game pad. One tower is the server which can be excused, it only has a power and ethernet cable. The other is the old server that I don’t know what to do with. The appeal of an iMac with the power and ethernet cable is great. Not sure I want to go to just 24”.

I should just sell that silly little ergo crab keyboard I made.

Got DayOne on the web working. I like it.

Monday, 6th February, 2023

“If you’re thinking without writing, you only think you’re thinking.” — Leslie Lamport

How about a free book that I’ll never read on “How to make notes and write”. Or a multitude of free books from NASA. One and two.

Sunday, 5th February, 2023

My home “uniform” of Levi 514 and plaid/checked shirt needs some replacements…I’ve put holes in the knees of two pairs of jeans and so I’m looking for some more. These two pairs were from ebay for about £/$20 each, and so I’m looking for replacements of the same. I have no issue with secondhand clothes, they wash and then they’re perfectly fine.

I also found a shirt that was horribly frayed around the collar, I then thought about where I got it, and think it’s somewhere in the region of 15 years old, so maybe it’s okay that it goes into the textile recycling.

The Apple Watch 7 was on sale on ebay for a good price, and seems the 8 is £50 everywhere right now. I don’t need it, and even if I did get one, I’m sure I wouldn’t get the most out of it. I need less tech not more. I’m interested in the sleep stuff but at the same time I know if I go to bed at 10 and read then I don’t feel tired in the morning (unless I stay up until 1am reading…). I don’t need notifications on my wrist, voice dictation would be cool but I bet I’d never use it.

Saturday, 4th February, 2023

We had a life celebration party today (instead of a funeral). It was good, it was in their house and it was just like a normal party. You could’ve even forgotten they were gone and weren’t just in another room talking to someone else.

It was good to see people we’ve not seen in over 10 years. They were feeling nervous about seeing everyone but as soon as they were there it was like no time had ever passed.

Friday, 3rd February, 2023

I really like Jack’s post about book reading and note taking. I have several non-fiction books I want to read and then actually learn from, or at least have something to quickly remember from. I started using a notebook for this but then having all the books’ notes bound together in a notebook wasn’t useful. I also tried writing notes in Apple Notes on my phone or in my wiki on Tiddlywiki. This was better but I find these get lost or it’s too much hassle to type whilst reading.

At university, I’d sit at a desk, read a book and make paper notes. Now my desk has a computer on it and it’s hard to resist its siren calls. Another table in the house would be useful to use, maybe the kitchen table. Although, I would like to sit in a nice arm chair and read and make notes. This is what I did with the computer based notes and I was just using my phone and it was horrible. Maybe a pad or something to lean on would work. These are minor details I’m faffing over.

I should do this, specifically the writing down on paper part, but not in a notebook. I can take a photo of the notes if I’m worried I’ll lose them

Finally sold my fuji 60mm macro lens. It’s been listed for sale since November. Seems like the volume is very low and if you aren’t the cheapest no-one even looks. I now need to decide if I want a different macro lens (perhaps a manual Laowa or something) or a dedicated 35mm film scanner, like a Plustek 8200 etc. I now have everything for mirrorless camera scanning but it always feels like an ordeal with 100 steps. The plustek is slow but more straight forward, and you get the results straight away without further faffing in lightroom etc.

I like giving out Creme Eggs to people at work in the run up to Easter. Mostly as an excuse for me to eat them too. Amazon was selling a box of 48 for £19.20, so I went for it! Pretty much half the price of buying them individually. I just have to be restrained on the number that I eat myself! Doing okay so far, eaten 3 and given away 11 since getting them on Monday.

Wow, someone emailed me asking what happened to a blog post I wrote in 2016 about beancount. I dug it out and put it back on my blog for them. I think it’s mostly still relevant, although stuff about pythonanywhere might have changed.

I’m a traitor…I’ve just packaged up four rolls of HP5 to get developed and scanned at the lab. Maybe my feeble excuse is I also just packaged up my macro lens so I couldn’t possibly develop my own. Another excuse is that my kitchen tap still doesn’t work and we have to use the one in the utility room and this is where I’d normally do the developing. It means there are dishes and cooking stuff in there. I could tidy that away first…These rolls are from Christmas and maybe even before then. I just want them developed and done. It’ll be quite the expense but they loom over me and I just want them processed. 🤷‍♂️

Packaging up the macro lens made me want to get rid for more things…such as three film cameras I never use…but also just random bits and pieces that clutter everywhere. Things that somehow don’t have homes and just sit on the shelf being annoying. A ridiculous split mechanical keyboard I built but have never, and will never, use. The old Google home mini, camera straps I won’t use, cables I should put away, just stuff. Maybe a tidy up would help too but I want it gone. Maybe into a box and then into the garage will suffice, until the day I want to setup the workbench in the garage.

Bought this book used for £2 after watching Beck Tench’s Tech Bench. Her house is so cool. She is too. Maybe I’ll send her a random email.

I’m enjoying Game Pass. It’s like renting video games from Blockbuster again. If it’s crap, doesn’t matter, try something else. Even found a roguelike that I actually like. Vampire Survivor. Normally I can’t stand roguelikes. Dying and starting from zero again? I haven’t got time for that. This one lets you upgrade and unlock things, so it’s more like completing a level and moving on. Maybe after a while I’ll get annoyed and bored with it but then I’ll just move onto something else! Bethesda are bringing out a new IP - Starfield. After 25 years of Elder Scrolls and Fallout, they’ve made something new. A space RPG. Looks enormous. You can even build ships and fly to different planets. Plenty to play!

Wednesday, 1st February, 2023

Well isn’t this terrifying.

Sunday, 29th January, 2023

I thought about bringing my camera to the skate park with the kids but couldn’t be bothered. I regretted it when we arrived.

I did get the soldering iron out and redo the GPIO pins on the pi zero. I couldn’t really tell if it helped or not. I should find the multimeter and see if I can test them.

Isn’t it adorable.

I think lists need some improvement CSS-wise on this site. I originally wanted very little extra stuff on this site, but I think a bullet or something would help readability. Not that the font and everything is that great but I like it. Also thinking about getting rid of the search feature. I never use it, I doubt anyone else does, it also doesn’t show things in date order (when I’m sure it should) and as the site grows the single js or json or whatever it was grows with it. If I’m looking for something, I’ll use VS Code to search, but if it’s something of interest for the future it should go into the wiki.

I like Jack’s paper world. It feels like you need lots of time for it though.

One reason why I like tinderbox so much is that everyone who uses it, and posts online in someway, are all genuinely nice people. Maybe because they’re probably >50, and so have the wisdom of life, but maybe also as it takes patience to use the tool.

We used to have metal blinds in the kitchen, and every so often I’d hear a noise that sounded like the blinds moving slightly. I assumed it was the string slowly stretching and then the blinds moving and so making the noise. We recently got rid of all the blinds but still the noise happens. I guess it must be the radiators, as there’s nothing else in the area where the sound comes from.

I bought a year of Game Pass Ultimate for £25. Seemed good value and meant I can try out all those games that look interesting but I don’t actually want to buy. Things like “lawn mowning simulator” or “random indie puzzle game”. Things that are fun for a couple of evenings but that’s it, and I don’t want to spend £5-£15 on a go. £25 is like a semi-decent game on sale a year after it came out, and there are currently 440+ games on Game Pass, including some newly released ones. It also has various promos associated, so I can get yet another 3 months free of AppleTV once the current promo expires!

The smartest thing in the gaming world is certainly from Microsoft. You can buy an Xbox on installments, which also includes Game Pass. I think it’s $20/month for 2 years. For an average household with kids wanting to play it, I don’t think you could find something better or cheaper. No big layout at Christmas, no nagging for games, and if they pay attention they can use the Rewards Points for playing games and Bing searches to pay for Game Pass after the 2 year period. Not sure why Sony and Nintendo don’t have a similar thing. But perhaps they still sell enough and make pots of money without it, so why would they?

Success! My soldering fixed both the pi zero GPIO headers, and the keys that weren’t working on my stupid, never going to use, why did I bother, cool looking keyboard. Now all I have to do figure out how the e-ink display works and what I want and then make it. The “simpliest” thing seems to be to make a website of what I want, then script a screenshot of it and push it to the display. It could do with a stand though.

Friday, 27th January, 2023

I seem to be averaging about every other day on here so far this year. I feel bad for missing days but at the same time I don’t want to force myself to write something inane just to fill the day.

I have a few blog posts in my head for my other site, but I just never get round to starting them. Maybe this weekend…

My replacement power supply for the soldering iron arrived, so I could attempt to fix my header pin soldering on the pi zero…

A friend linked a funny video of a bird eating too many fish. It then led me to open up YouTube, which I’ve not been on in a while, and start watching random things it suggests for me. Camera reviews, film, lenses, random tech reviews, etc. Pretty much every video I started I stopped after 20 seconds thinking “I don’t care.” I’m counting this as a win. Last year I spent/wasted a lot of time on YouTube, and then it made me want stuff that I probably don’t need.

I did manage to write a blog post. I had a lot more photos to add to it but they’ve got lost somewhere. They were all phone photos and I tend not to care about those, any good ones I’ll stick into DayOne otherwise I’ll let iCloud back them up. I think I lost them when I went in and out of the 2 TB iCloud subscription and included all my photos. Oh well, doesn’t really matter. Actually I saw one of them this week, but I don’t remember where and I find that strange. I feel like it was online on a website, so either Apple Photos or Amazon Photos, but I looked there and it wasn’t there. I guess if I come across it again I can take a copy.

Think I’ll target 1 blog post a month. My original 2023 plans included one a week, but not sure I can manage that. One a month is still perfectly acceptable to me. It doesn’t actually take long but it’s slower than this site. I still maintain that I much prefer the blogging under the date title as the way to go. So much easier to write that way.

Speaking of 2023 targets, I’ve not looked at them this year. So how am I doing…

  • Sleeping - ah…varied…
  • Exercising - I cycle to work each day so I’m okay with not doing anything else, although I should…
  • Reading - pretty much every night I’ll read my fiction book. I’ve not read non-fiction though and I have some books to read. I still choose the computer over reading.
  • Journalling - Good enough, don’t tend to write much in DayOne during the week. I could but I forget.
  • Typewriter - done nothing. My wife’s granny died this week and my wife wrote a poem about her Granny to read at the family gathering. She printed it out but I thought about typing it out as well.
  • Printing photos - printed a bunch when we re-did our photos on the wall. My wife wanted a black and white montage so I printed out about 12 photos.
  • Computer time - been on it every night. I have been playing games with my friend, so not the mindless youtube etc. that I’ve done in the past. Conclude: so-so
  • Buy less stuff - I’ve not really bought anything extra this month. Some parts to replace broken things, also sold a few items (although people complained something didn’t work but I’ve not heard back so guessing they’re fine now?). I do still want some books and a bigger notebook. I’m convincing myself that books and notebooks are exceptions and are not a waste. Books are obvious, and notebooks will eventually get used…even if I do have a few blank ones already…
  • Work smart - not been that smart. Doing my weekly summaries for myself at least. Seem to have been very busy and “no time to plan” which is a lie, I always have time I just immediately jump right into something first. The weeks are flying by though.
  • Computer games - Yep, doing this! It actually makes me feel better in the evenings. One night I was super tired, so just watched TV. Been playing Valheim with my friend. A survival, crafting game with a Viking theme. We both died last night exploring a new area and we are both feeling a bit of rage-quit now. We lost everything and it takes a long time to make stuff. We’re both guilty of flitting between games. Play one for a week then get bored and move on to something else. Often we’ll come back to them in weeks, months or even years time. I would like to get really into a game, but maybe that’s just not realistic to expect now. I do prefer multiplayer, co-operative games but I’ve got some story RPG ones to play though which are fun as it’s like an interactive movie.
  • Projects - not started anything. Have restored my soldering iron to fully operational so that’s a start. Thinking about the e-ink display and doing something for that. My driver for that is not really as it’ll be useful to me, but as something to show to some friends at work. Not sure how I feel about that as a driver.

So as February approaches what am I going to do? Well obviously close all those gaps and do everything I said…in reality, what could I hope for? Maybe finish the letter to my sister, get the e-ink screen working with the pi zero, read one non-fiction book…We’ll see.

I wish I could use Tinderbox, and had something to use it for. Not sure why I suddenly had this urge but I then spent a while on the forums. I guess this is what happens when I’m left with a browser to fill my evenings.

Well I’m not going to do anything useful now, so I should go to bed and read some stories. I’m enjoying The Realm of the Enderlings series, even if I have only just scratched the surface with book 2 of the first trilogy out of 6 trilogies (one has 4 parts).

Wednesday, 25th January, 2023

Finally heard back about my lens that was out for repairs. Got the estimate and sounds like they can’t get hold of a new hood part (the old one fell off and I’d originally bought a lens with a dented hood as it was cheaper) so they’re going to straighten it out, touch up the paint and give the lens a service. So hopefully it’ll be looking nice and shiny and minty. Cost to me is £155, which seems okay. Leica quoted £250 and a minimum of 12 weeks.

Appears fibre internet is coming to our street anytime between now and July. I started looking at fibre ISPs and what speeds and prices they offer. It’ll go up to 900/900 mbps. Now do I need that? Or do I just want that! 🤓 Probably I’ll get the fastest possible to start and then realise it’s unnecessary, and then settle on something like a modest 500/500. It does mean I’ll need to upgrade the wireless to wifi 6…

Monday, 23rd January, 2023

This whole weekend I kept seeing moments and thinking “that would be great to capture”, but didn’t do anything. At one stage I looked at the box of film and thought about loading one, but then the thoughts of the effort from that until end product felt too much and I had no energy for it.

I enjoyed the moments as I saw them though.

I’m hopeful all the ice has melted this morning. After coming off my bike and then walking on it on Friday, I must’ve slipped over several times and sprained my wrist. To the extent that it was too painful to use the computer 😱. Although by Sunday morning it had mostly recovered to the point I’d forgotten about it until someone asked me.

I have my Tana invite. They email each day explaining the features and functions. It does look good and I like the layout and the customisation of it. I like how it displays filter and other buttons without having to remember all the syntax to do it. But I’m avoiding it. (a) I don’t want to spend time learning it (b) I don’t want to be reliant on a proprietary tool (c) I won’t want to pay for it when they do charge.

But it’s hard to resist…! 🤓

Friday, 20th January, 2023

Oh it’s so icy here. Skating on my hands and knees to talk the kids to school.

Got an email saying fibre is being installed in our street, now that I’m excited about. Not sure on the timing though but 1gbps up and down here we come! (depending on pricing…)

I’m off work today and should do something productive, but after my school run adventures I’m exhausted! I’ll finish this cup of tea and get the soldering iron out! 👨‍🏭

Thursday, 19th January, 2023

The one thing I have managed to do from my 2023 plans is play more computer games. My friend and I have been playing Valheim. A survival, crafting game with a Viking theme. I have it running on my server and we play on that. It’s fun! It’s mostly us chatting whilst playing it. Planning things out, building them, laughing at stuff that happens.

I’ve not touched a forum or social media thing all week. Too busy cutting down trees and searching caves 😅

It was icy this morning and I fell off my bike. No one was around to hear me swear repeatedly and loudly.

Tuesday, 17th January, 2023

Journaling with GPT-3. The author claims it has taken their journaling (and benefit from it) to the next level.

Bill Gates’ 11th Reddit AMA.

Monday, 16th January, 2023

History of web browser engines from 1990 until today

Sunday, 15th January, 2023

Sold my bike trainer I bought during lockdown. I never use it, mostly as I don’t want to pay for a subscription to any software. I don’t need the software (like Zwift) but as I cycle to work each day I’m not interested in just mindless cycling. Plus I probably only need one fitness machine I never use 😅

Also means I can make a bit of space in the garage. A hope for this year is to make enough space (aka throw out stuff) for a workbench. For soldering and whatnot. Eventually it would be nice to make a darkroom, although I think that’s a long way off.

I think anything I sell I should buy books with the proceeds. Especially ones I know I’ll never read, rather than just ones I hope I may read eventually. Like An Introduction to Astrophysics. I like how 1,300 pages is an introduction. 👩‍💻

I’ve not been in the mood for writing very much this past week. Tired being back in the work routine. Yesterday I seemed to get a lot done which was nice.

Debating selling all my film cameras except the Leica. They are nice shelf ornaments, but why?

Friday, 13th January, 2023

I only just noticed it was Friday the 13th. It’s been a long week. I only went back to work on Monday, yet it feels like I’ve been there weeks.

I’ve done nothing each evening. It gets to 9:30pm and I think what a waste, but too late to start anything now. A little bored of everything right now, but probably just tired.

Thursday, 12th January, 2023

Not sure I’m very good at handling Leica repairs. I post off my expensive lens to be repaired and I hear nothing from anyone, nor have any reference code or tracking information. I’m sure it’ll be fine and one day in some number of weeks time it’ll come back…Maybe I’ll email and see if I can get any info.

Just finished reading part 1 of the Farseer triology, Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. Wheel of Time-esk, fantasy series but no strange creatures (at least not yet) set in a sort of medieval time. I read before going to sleep in bed and this book was not good for that, as I’d want to stay up to 1 am reading and reading and reading! About to start the second tonight, hopefully I can do better and go to sleep at a sensible time.

It annoys me when bosses ask what they can do to help, which often isn’t very much, and then tell me the bleeding obvious as though I’m some ninny. How would you like it if I told you that “the business should really try and make more money”? Come on. 🙄

Wednesday, 11th January, 2023

I brought my hobonichi into work, but have yet to open it. I’ve started using my other notebook for actions and meeting notes…maybe next week I’ll start it fresh…🤷‍♂️

I’ve been busy. Not sure what I’ve been doing exactly.

Got some film rolls back from the lab - colour ones, well C41 processing, as there was a roll of XP2. I didn’t love the colour ones. I only flicked through them when they first arrived, so maybe a second viewing will change that. However, the black and white ones were much nicer.

This will sound weird, but the colour ones looked like a crappy film simulation applied to the photos. Maybe I just need to edit them a little.

Monday, 9th January, 2023

Back to work 😴 and I left my new Hobonichi at home.

Don’t sweat all this second brain, tools for thought stuff, AI will solve it for us.

Saturday, 7th January, 2023

The new wiki is live. Not finished the automation to build and deploy it yet, which is probably about 4 lines of a bash script and a cron entry but I’m still putting it off.

I found that the shiraz plugin (which I like for the images) has a multi-column setting for the story river. It’s not perfect but it’ll do. For me, on my monitor two tiddlers side by side and the sidebar looks great. Sorry if it doesn’t for you. That plugin as so many things in it.

I’ve started tidying up tags so the table of contents is a bit more useful but it’s a big effort that I’ll chip away at. I’ve been writing in it, but almost entirely private stuff. I like that though, everything together and publishing general stuff to the world because why not. The theme is the default, and maybe I’ll change the colour scheme but I’m probably just going to leave it as is. There’s always something not quite right with other themes.

I was eyeing up the garden today to see how I might string a massive antenna from the house to the end of the garden. My main issue is getting the coax back into the house, and, ideally, to my office where I’d set up the radio. I don’t really want to drill through the wall or do a bunch of cable work through walls etc. but there isn’t really a choice. Plus my office is in the front of the house, vs the garden in the back. I guess it could be temporary to test it out and use the radio outside, but how often would I use it. Also is this something that I like the idea of but then never uses it.

I’ve decided to do (well resume) microsoft rewards, the aim is to get a free xbox doing it. Why? Feels fun to say “this was free, from doing some bing searches each day”. I perhaps have gone slightly overboard in that I’m looking for a used xbox one (the oldest console that has the rewards app) on facebook marketplace so I can do the xbox bonuses. It seems ironic that the reason I’m doing this is to get a console, but in order to do it the best I need a console. However, hopefully I can find one for £40, and then sell it on afterwards. It should cut the time it’ll take by about 1/3, meaning I should have enough points by black friday this year when they go on sale on Microsoft’s website.

We’ll see how long that lasts before I get tired of it, but a good present for the boys if I can manage it.

Friday, 6th January, 2023

I’ve spent too long fiddling about with this new TW. I’m going to migrate the current wiki content into it and hook up a cron job to build it periodically and have it replace the current wiki site. I’ll be then able to use one site for both public and private content and the public one will just be a single html file hosted on GitHub.

Whilst I want to learn TW trickery, I’m not sure I have a great deal to do with it. I’ve thought about a book tracking system where I can write stuff in the tiddler and use fields for author etc. but I get 90% of the benefit just making a dumb list by hand and individual tiddlers. Not like I read more than about 20 books a year anyway. I can always record info in the fields in case I later want to make something.

One thing I do like in logseq that I miss in TW is side by side notes. I can just open two browser windows but then browser windows tend to get out of hand. I know I’ve seen plug-ins and themes that do this, but I wonder if I can find a simple one.

Emailed h0p3 as I noticed his site has been down since end of 2022. Got a nice reply from him.

Logged into EchoLink last night. Internet connected radio repeaters and links, so you can talk via repeaters anywhere in the world. I still daren’t say anything in case it’s “wrong” and I don’t have anything to say?

Everyone looks puzzled when I talk about amateur radio. Especially when I talk about things like EchoLink! “Why not just use the internet?”. Because that would be boring!

HF looks the most fun - this is where you can bounce off the ionosphere and hit the rest of the world. Just the antenna needs to be a big boy.

Thursday, 5th January, 2023

Finally got my radio callsign.

Spent way too long sorting out tiddlywiki node.js commands and scripts to build sites. Think I’m done now though. Just debating how I go about migrating/combining/or not everything and domains etc. Also want to learn some TW to make use of its functionality more.

Wednesday, 4th January, 2023

The store I bought the lux from will repair (or organise) a repair for it. See if I can get a new hood too, hopefully the part isn’t too much and the warranty will cover the labour.

Making very slow progress in the new TW site. Mostly looking at the generation of single html from nodejs. Seems tiddlywiki.info can be configured to do a lot of things on a build command, but everything I find is people chaining various tiddlywiki commands together instead. Be nice just to use the .info file as then this is all self contained. However, it might take me longer to figure that out.

I also get sidetracked into wondering about private/public or other tags and filters.

I’m not sure I want to maintain my photos site anymore either. I’m not sure anyone visits it anymore, but maybe that’s because I’ve not updated it in a while.

Tuesday, 3rd January, 2023

I’m leaning heavy tiddlywiki all in. One site for everything. But is this just the same old “I’m done making a site, so instead of using it, I’ll make another one”, that I repeat over and over? (yes) I did tell myself…sometime ago…that I’d not deviate from this site and this setup. It works well, I like the look of it and it’s easy to write in. I don’t go back in time and look at things. Perhaps I don’t need to, but I’d like the ability to remember the past. Not necessarily for assembling information for something specific but just to remind myself of things.

What I should really do is setup the new TW, mess about with it and then see if it’s what I really want. I think I’d want to use a private node.js version, and then have it generate a static HTML file to commit to github and host. I want to be able to edit it anywhere, and the github saver, whilst generally good, is sometimes annoying. I also like seeing and working with individual tiddler files on the file system vs a massive html file. Also allows for scripting of things, should the need arise. I’ve never actually put the effort into making the static file, including external images stuff. I know it’s not that hard, and I think I have saved some bookmarks or something somewhere (or look up Soren’s zettle thread) for how to do it. Also offers that private/public option but not sure I want to get into all that.

I think I like imagining what the wiki could look like, but never get round to doing it.

Colour film developing is expensive. Sending off three rolls and it’ll be £25, plus postage there. I have a few colour rolls but I’ll save them for special occasions…/never use them. Or I just use them up and then stick with B&W.

I’m thinking about selling all my other film cameras except the M2. I never use them. They look nice on the shelf but that’s about it. However, I sort of don’t want to as they’re getting harder (and more expensive) to buy, should I want to go back. However, I think the reality is that I want to just stick to 35mm. Sometimes I think how nice it would be if the shelf was in fact a small subsection of the shelf, with just one film and one digital camera, with a small collection of lenses.

Wife’s birthday tomorrow. I think I’m prepared…

Monday, 2nd January, 2023

Rethinking what I want all these websites to really be/do. This one is my favourite and maybe I should bin the rest.(also I like tiddlywiki).

This is also a subset of “bin everything I don’t totally love”.

Setup another table in the playroom for lego to go on. That’s one thing out of the (my) office which is nice. Soon it’ll only be all my junk to tidy up! 😅

Sunday, 1st January, 2023

Happy New Year! 🎆

I’m meant to not be buying crap…there’s already been about six things I’ve thought about getting. I should rummage about in drawers for various things I’ve bought and not done anything with: Rpis, zeros and picos etc.

The sound track to the new Dwarf Fortress is pretty good. I like the Drink & Industry track.

I’m wondering whether I need extreme measures to make myself change. Like sell everything. Cold turkey etc. Probably should decide what I’m trying to change to first though.

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